Monday, September 26, 2011

Fresh Fenugreek Flat Bread {Methi paratha}

Apparently the President of Yemen is back.  After an attempted assassination and getting refuge and cure from the authorities in Saudi, he is back.  I think everyone deserves medical care irrespective of their social or financial standing.  But while 100s are killed in Yemen, medical staff included, on orders of the government, what entitles the President of the country to the best care available outside?  And mind you, the revolution is to oust him…so he is not a President loved by his people.

I have nothing against the President of Yemen or for that matter the Prime Minister or King of any country.  What does enrage me though is to see the common man suffering.  What angers me is to see the hospitals poorly equipped and the medical staff trying to save lives with what little is available at their disposal.  And then I wonder where the justice in all this is? Why should a teenage boy bleed to death in the hospital while the politicians get the best of treatments abroad?  Why should a mother loose her child to a stray bullet while those responsible for the chaos are safely tucked into their beds?

Some days back I came upon a text on Justice from the Baha’i Faith which I would like to share with you. 

"O OPPRESSORS ON EARTH! Withdraw your hands from tyranny, for I have pledged Myself not to forgive any man's injustice. This is My covenant which I have irrevocably decreed in the preserved tablet and sealed with My seal."

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 10 flat breads

2 cups fresh fenugreek leaves, roughly chopped
2 cups wheat flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 red onion
1 green chili
½ teaspoon red chili powder
Warm water, as needed


  1. Sieve the flour and keep aside.  
  2. Finely chop the onions and the green chili.   
  3. Mix all the ingredients, except the water with the flour.   
  4. Gradually add the water and knead into a dough.  Keep aside for 10 minutes.  
  5. Divide the dough into 10 equal parts.   
  6. Flour a flat surface and with a rolling pin, roll out.  
  7. Heat a flat iron girdle, and when hot, put the rolled out bread on it.  
  8. Roast on both sides till brown and done.  
  9. Continue rolling the rest of the divided dough and cook at the same time.  Serve with yoghurt or pickle.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fried Mutton Masala


I was brought up in an environment where “multiculturalism” was a norm.  My family is scattered all over the world and many have married into completely different ethnic backgrounds and cultures.  I work in an international company where I come across and meet people from different backgrounds and work with them irrespective of their color or religion or creed.  In fact you hardly even notice the color of their skin or the religion they follow.  So being brought up in such a way or living in such an environment, it shocks me today to see that racism in all forms still exist.

I have been reading and watching some programs about “white supremacy”.  At first I thought, “This cannot be true.  We live in the 21st century”.  The more I watched or read about their beliefs, the more I was shocked.  And then I found out that we also had “Black Nationalists”.  And the more I read about racism, the more groups I found.  In some cases I found that children were brought up with the same racist ideologies of their parents or care-givers.  While reading the Diary of Anne Franky I remember thinking to myself, “thank God humanity has come such a long way from where we were during WWII”.  And now I realize we did not come a very long way – we did make progress in the correct direction but still have a long way to go. 

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 5


½ kilo mutton
2 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 whole dried red chilies
1 tablespoon fresh coconut, cut into thin strips of about 2 cms length
4 cloves garlic
1” piece ginger
½ teaspoon garam masala
A few curry leaves
2 medium sized onions, sliced
4 tablespoons corn oil


  1. Put 2 tablespoons oil in a pan and fry the coriander seeds and red chilies to a pale brown.  Take out and grind and keep aside.  
  2. Fry coconut pieces in the same oil and grind and keep aside.  
  3. Separately grind garlic and ginger.  
  4. Boil the meat in 2 cups water with all these ground ingredients, garam masala and salt till the meat is tender and no water remains.  Take off flame.
  5. In a separate vessel, heat the remaining oil and fry the sliced onions and curry leaves.  
  6. When brown, add the meat mixture and cook for a couple of minutes.  Serve hot with chappatis.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Asparagus Ribbon Salad

I am beginning to realize I am in shortage of some things:

(a)    I have too many recipes to make and too little time.  If I cook even 1 every day, I would need to do this for the next 10 years.  So in case we like a particular food or crave for something in particular, I would not be able to cook it to finish cooking all the recipes I have in the next 10 years.  This also means I cannot accept to eat at any other place – be it a restaurant or a friend’s place nor can I go for any vacations or business trips.  So I decided to leave the time factor out and just cook what I want, when I want and update blog accordingly.  Which I cannot complete in my lifetime, I will pass over to my children to do.
(b)   I also have too less people to feed – the more people I can feed what I cook, the more recipes I can try out and avoid storing old food and having to take care of it.  I could get rid of this issue by simply cooking less quantity, but I would really like to feed more people.  So some day in the future a restaurant could be the answer to this problem.  Let us see how that goes.
(c)    Ingredients – I shop more or less once a week for fresh vegetables and fruits and fish and meat.  This means the best recipes I can make would be in the beginning of the week when everything is still fresh.  As the week wears along, I have to switch to pulses and things that are not of the fresh type anymore.  Also I try to shop for seasonal vegetables and fruits.  Now to solve this problem, I would need to dedicate some time to sorting all my recipes based on the seasons and work them through.  A very tedious task taking into consideration the amount of recipes and papers I have…but some things just have to be done.

Now that I have jotted down my thoughts and worries, it makes me feel better. 

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2


12 tender green asparagus
½ cup pine seeds
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt & Pepper to taste
½ cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons Olive Oil


  1. Mix the Oil in a bowl along with the lemon juice, black pepper and salt and keep aside.   
  2. Use a potato peeler to shave the parmesan cheese and keep aside.   
  3. Toast the pine seeds lightly in the oven till golden in color and keep aside.  
  4.  Now wash the asparagus and cut off the ends on the thick side.   
  5. Hold vertically and using the potato peeler, make shavings.  
  6. Mix this into the bowl with the seasonings. 
  7. Add the lime juice and the pine seeds just before serving.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Masala Prawns

The past week I was glued to the television watching all the documentaries available on 9/11.  It had been 10 years since that fateful morning and I still always gasp in horror when I watch the second plane hit the tower or when I watch the people jumping to their deaths from above.  The scale of the devastation is apparent to only those who witnessed it there…we can only imagine it all.  I still vividly remember I was in Yemen in 2001 when the attacks took place.  I was alone at home with my son and then switched on CNN and settled down on the couch with my cup of tea.  And at that time the 1st tower was already hit and they were reporting it.  And before I could take a sip from my tea, the plane approached the second tower, like a ghost in the bright blue skies and hit it – spot on. 

The rest of the tragedies were reported over the next couple of hours.  My husband was at work and I called him to let him know what was happening.  Like all husbands, he thought I was exaggerating and only realized what had happened after he got home and joined me watching the news.  We dragged ourselves to bed wondering what would happen while we were sleeping.  But then tiredness took over and we had to get in bed.  My tea cup still lay on the table – untouched – where I kept it when I saw the second tower hit – too aghast to take a sip. 

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4


350 grams medium sized prawns
1 fresh coconut, grated
300 grams red onions
50 grams coriander seeds
50 grams poppy seeds
5 peppercorns
½ teaspoon anise seeds (badisop)
5 cloves
30 grams Tamarind
20 grams kashmiri chili
24 grams dried red chilies
200 grams potatoes
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves, chopped
Salt to taste
3 tablespoons corn oil


  1. Clean and wash the prawns.  Apply salt to this and keep aside.   
  2. Peel and chop the onions into fine cubes.  
  3. Wash and peel the potatoes and cut into cubes and keep aside.  
  4. In a thick bottomed pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil and add the poppy seeds, coriander seeds and the dried red chilies.  
  5. Add half of the chopped onions to the above and fry till the onions become golden brown.  
  6. Now add the coconut gratings along with the anise seeds, cloves, nutmeg and peppercorns. 
  7. When the coconut gratings turn brown, remove from fire, cool and grind to a smooth paste.  Keep aside.  
  8. Soak the tamarind in ½ cup warm water and remove the pulp and keep the tamarind water aside.    
  9. Heat remaining oil and add the remaining onions and fry till golden.  
  10. Now add the turmeric and kashmiri chili.  
  11. Add the ground paste and the prawns and the potatoes.  Fry for 5 minutes.  
  12. Add the tamarind water and cover and cook on low flame till the potatoes are cooked.  
  13. Garnish with coriander leaves. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I think with age I am becoming a softie at heart.  I have no idea – at least I like to attribute it to age as I have no other explanation.  I have been reading and watching this documentary about the Westboro Baptist Church or WBC and the Phelps family which is also termed as the “most hated family in America” by the famous Louis Theroux.  But you might ask, “What would someone have to do to be labeled like this?”  Well, besides picketing funerals of dead soldiers and very vociferously proclaiming that we are all going to burn in hell and the followers of the WBC would be the only ones saved by God, they have a lot of other beliefs I’d rather not talk about.  Almost everyone coming across them hates them and what they loudly proclaim to be the truth. 

I was watching these little children between the ages of 6 and above who were holding banners letting everyone else on the road know how much God hated humanity.  The hate in the eyes of the grown-ups was scary and what they have brainwashed the children to believe it wrong.  And then I suddenly wanted to be on the streets on Kansas and wanted to go up to these people and hug them.  Not hug them for their wrong ideals and beliefs, but just to let them know that love does exist in this world.  Why did they preach hatred when there was so much love to give?  I could not do much being so far away in Belgium and besides even if I was on the streets of Kansas, I doubt they would have let us “sinners” close to them.  So the best thing I could do was to pray for them – pray that they see the love that exists in this world.  See that human beings, with all their imperfections, are still a creation of God.  What else can one do in such instances?

Preparation Time: 20  minutes
Serves 4


2 slices day-old bread
2 ½ cups chilled water
1 kilo tomatoes
1 cucumber
1 zucchini
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 fresh green chili, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
8 ice cubes
A handful of basil leaves to garnish

  1. Soak the bread in 2/3rd cup of chilled water for 5 minutes.  
  2. Place the tomatoes in a bowl and cover with boiling water.  Leave for 10 minutes, then peel, seed and chop the flesh.  
  3. Thinly peel the cucumber, then cut it in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon.  Discard the seeds and chop the flesh.  
  4. Place the bread (with any free liquid) in a food processor or blender.  
  5. Add the tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, red pepper, chili, garlic, olive oil, citrus juices and the Tabasco and then pour in the remaining chilled water.  Blend until well combined but still chunky.  
  6. Season to taste and pour into a bowl and chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours.  
  7. Ladle the soup into chilled bowls, add the ice cubes and garnish with basil leaves.