Friday, January 28, 2011

Chicken and potato shoe strings (Salli Marghi)

There is so much growing unrest in the world.  A couple of months back who would have believed that an act of self-immolation by a young Tunisian man would have been the trigger for mass protests and the ousting of a leader who had declared himself “president for life”.  These protests have marked the beginning of protests in other countries around the Arab world. The old system is failing the people and you can feel the wind of change in the air – Tunisia, now Egypt and Yemen and perhaps some more countries to follow.  Change is inevitable.  Change is imminent.  But is change going to happen now?  I guess only time will tell.  Now all we can do is watch and see where these events lead us to.  I love this quote by Jimi Hendrix, “When the power-of-love overcomes the love-of-power, the world will know peace.” 
Peace is described most easily as the absence of war or conflict.  I have pictured a world where we would be able to live in peace and harmony.  A world where the only thing you segregate by colour is your laundry.  The unhappiness the people are expressing with their leaders and their governments, to me, is a sign that the old system is failing and a new system, a system accepted by the people would come into being.  Only time will tell…
Preparation Time: 40 minutes
Serves 6


1 kg chicken
2 tablespoon oil
3 large white onions, sliced fine
1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 ½ teaspoon red chilli powder
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 green chillies
Salt to taste
1 cup water
6 peppercorns
6 cloves
6 cardamoms
2” piece cinnamon
For the potato shoe strings:
3 large potatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for frying or baking

  1. To make the potato shoe strings, the potatoes are cut into fine strips, tossed with salt and pepper then baked or deep fried in vegetable oil.  If baked, add some oil to the potatoes along with the salt and pepper and then bake.  
  2. Pound the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and peppercorns together roughly.   
  3. Heat oil in a pan and fry the onions till golden brown.  
  4. Add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté.  
  5. Add the roughly ground masalas, turmeric, red chilli powder and green chillies.  
  6. Blend in the tomatoes and chicken and continue to sauté adding a little water at a time till the oil separates.  
  7. Add a little more water and cover and cook till well done, approximately 30 minutes on medium flame.  The gravy should be thick.  
  8. Serve topped with potato shoe strings and serve with rice or bread.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cream of Leek Soup

Often when things do not go as planned or anticipated, I have told myself or my children, “Everything happens for a reason”.  But do things really happen for a reason or is it our way of being positive and making ourselves happy. “I did not get the job – there is a reason for that – maybe something better in store for me in the future”, “My best friend moved country – maybe there is a good reason and I will make other new friends here”, “My new job sucks – this is a good reason for me to take up a good hobby and who knows what will come out of that” – some of us can find reasons for things not happening for every single thing.  Are such people having a positive attitude towards life, or just giving up and blaming it on ‘everything happens for a reason’? 

I use it often as it helps my children or husband or friends move on.  I would like to believe I use it because helps me look at a brighter future rather than spend my energy and time not giving up.  But then again does this not contradict “try try till you succeed”?  I have reached a peace with myself on this – I will give it my best shot – will not keep pushing till I succeed and will believe in the fact that everything happens for a reason. 
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4


455 grams leeks
700 ml white stock, vegetable or chicken
300 ml milk
15 grams unsalted butter
15 grams all-purpose flour
Salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Wash and trim the leeks; slice thinly.  
  2. Cook leeks in stock till tender.  
  3. Purée and return to the fire.  
  4. Cream the butter and the flour and add to the purée. 
  5. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  
  6. Add hot milk.  
  7. Bring to a boil and serve hot with crackers.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Fish in the Net

I read that on an average if an adult can take 10000 steps a day, our life style could be classified as “active”.  So I got myself a pedometer and measured my steps on an average day and got 3000 steps on my pedometer.  My lifestyle would be classified as sedentary.  Being behind a desk for most of the day and then walking just when I needed to visit the toilet or then to fuel up for food, what would you expect?  After getting back from work too, there is not much walking happening around.  So for the past week I decided I need to get at least above 5000 steps on my pedometer – so far so good.  The extra effort I do is to walk to the nearby supermarket to get my lunch rather than take a flight of stairs to the cafeteria.  Then I try to go for a quick walk around the block – approximately 3000 steps or 20 minutes.  For now I will stick to these two simple changes and perhaps go for the 10000 mark in a couple of weeks or months.  You will hear about it from me.

I would actually advise everyone to get a little pedometer and keep it on you at all times, except when you go to bed.  It will give you a nice indication of how your lifestyle is – sedentary or active and also encourages you to go that extra mile to get your numbers up.  For example, parking far away in the super market and walking the distance instead of finding the nearest place to park. 

I used a combination of two fishes for the dish below – salmon and sole fish.  I substituted smoked salmon pieces also and it worked just fine.  Also for the noodles I used a mixture of two types of egg noodles to give some variety to the “nest”.  I substituted dill leaves instead of the coriander as my coriander was over and the flavour of the dill worked well with the fish and dish as a whole.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Serves 2


3 slices fish fillet
2 onions, minced
1 teaspoon chilli sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon mustard oil
Salt to taste
300 grams noodles
½ cup coriander leaves, chopped

  1. De-bone the fish fillet if needed.   
  2. Add oil to a thick bottomed pan and heat.   
  3. When hot, add the fish slices and sauté fish along with the onions.  
  4. Add the soy and chilli sauces.  
  5.  Slide in noodles and pour sufficient hot water to cover them.  
  6. Add coriander leaves, cover lid and cook on low heat till the juices are absorbed.  
  7. Serve for lunch or dinner.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Curried Sweet and Sour Turnips

Yesterday I came across this article on CNN about this girl who was found after 23 years.  As a baby of just three weeks she was kidnapped and now, 23 years later, she has been reunited with her family.  What joy!  It is so nice to hear these stories of hope.  The media is usually stuck on the negatives all around and rarely do you get good news.  I am sure this story must have given hope to so many parents who have been separated from their children.  The pain they go through might be slightly better when news about such reunions is heard.  

I remember as a 10 year-old, every evening I had to read the headlines of the newspaper for my great-grand-father.  I would read the headlines and then based on the headlines he would tell me if he wanted me to read the rest of the article for him.  He was over 90 years old with a very sharp mind.  We all called him “gol papa” which meant “round daddy”.  His eyes were failing him, so it was my job to go to him and read the papers.  I remember at that time it was not a thing I enjoyed doing – spending 30 minutes of my play time to read the newspaper to an old man – but now it is a memory I will always cherish.  Those were special moments I spent with gol pappa. He was always looking to hear about something good happening in the world.  So actually the parts I had to read to him were very limited – there rarely was something positive in the papers.  I wish the news was used more to spread the good things happening around – news that would give our youth today hope, jump start us into doing good for others and acknowledge that we are still living in a beautiful world. 

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Serves 4


6 large turnips
1 red onion
2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoon sesame seeds
50 grams peanuts
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
4 red chillies
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 sprig curry leaves
4 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
3 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 cup tamarind water
1 tablespoon grated jaggery
Salt to taste

  1. Roast and grind 2 teaspoons each of the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon poppy seeds and the peanuts.  Keep aside.    
  2. Wash turnips and scrape the skin off.  Cut into quarters.  Fry pieces in hot oil and remove. 
  3. In the same oil fry the crushed garlic, cumin seeds, red chillies and curry leaves till brown. .   
  4. Add ground masala, chilli powder, turmeric and ginger garlic paste.  Add salt.  
  5. Fry well and add the tamarind water with one more cup of water.  
  6. Then add the fried turnip and simmer on a slow fire till the oil floats to the top. 
  7. Stir in the jaggery and cook for another 5 minutes.  
  8. Serve with rice or chappatis.  

P.S.  To get tamarind water, soak about 30 grams of tamarind in hot water.  Remove the pulp.   


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lentils with minced meat (Dal Kheema)

I am not sure if the topic of death would interest anyone - but yesterday I had an interesting conversation about death and the soul and what happens after we die with a colleague of mine.  I know many would cringe just at the thought of death.  Many like to avoid the topic or thinking about it altogether.  But then is it that scary after all?  When someone dies, why do we cry?  Is it because we would miss the company of the person who has just passed away?  So in a way, are we not crying for ourselves rather than for the person who has gone?  Based on our beliefs we can deduct that the person who has passed on has gone to a better place or we can believe that nothing exists after death and it was the end.  I like to believe in the former – that after we die, our soul continues to live on.  This is more hopeful approach than the latter.  I know there could be many others who believe in the concept of heaven and hell, or re-incarnation or so many other things – as long as our belief gives us hope that there is something else after death rather than just “death being the end”, we would always strive to be better people on this earth because we know that our actions here would have consequences some place else.  How often have you heard someone on their deathbed repent the good things they could have done.  But then again we are still alive and it is never too late to begin the good work.  I could continue on this topic and what I think about the soul, but I will keep that for a later time.  

In the past few months I have heard of several friends and relatives losing their near and dear ones.  I have seen people dealing with their grief in different ways.  For some talking about it helps, for others praying for the progress of the soul of the deceased and for yet others drowning their sorrows in alcohol.   It is not easy losing someone we love – we are bound to cry and feel sad – but end of the day we cope.  We rebound.  We hope.  

Preparation Time: 1 hour
Serves: 5

500 grams lean minced  meat
1 cup Bengal Gram Dal
225 grams red onions
10 grams garlic
10 grams ginger
1 large tomato
55 grams fresh coconut
5 grams poppy seeds
2 cloves
2 long sticks cinnamon
10 grams coriander seeds
2 dried red chillies
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
5 grams tamarind
Salt to taste


  1. Wash Bengal gram dal and soak for one hour in 2 cups water. 
  2. Soak the tamarind in ½ cup hot water and remove the juice and keep aside. 
  3. Roast and grind together the coriander, cumin and red chillies and mix with the turmeric powder.  Keep aside. 
  4. Grind together the ginger and garlic and keep aside. 
  5. Grind separately the coconut and poppy seeds and keep aside. 
  6. Chop onions and tomatoes and keep aside. 
  7. Heat oil in a vessel and when hot, add the cinnamon and cloves and then add the onions. 
  8. Fry onions till golden, about 5 minutes. 
  9. Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry for another 2 minutes. 
  10. Now add the ground coriander, cumin and chillies and the minced meat and fry till the meat is brown on all sides. 
  11. Add the chopped tomato and cover and keep on low flame for 10 minutes. 
  12. Now add the Bengal Gram Dal along with the water it was soaked in and keep covered and cook for another 20 minutes on low flame. 
  13. Now add the coconut-poppy seed mixture and simmer for another 10 minutes on low flame. 
  14. The tamarind juice can now be added and simmer for a further 2 minutes. 
  15. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice.