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Saturday, August 16, 2014

‘Thadaree’ An Important Festival of Sindhis


Today I miss my Mom a lot. Actually I miss her all the time but on festivals, its the most. Mom used to be super excited during festivals. Right from shopping to cooking to serving, she did it all with a smile. Mom’s trait has been passed on to my sister, who continues and follows the Sindhi culture and tradition that has been going on for eras.

Last evening when I visited my sister, her kitchen was very active. She was preparing food for the next day. It’s the special meal that she prepares on this special day. I visited her again today and her table was full of delicious cold food. Today is the auspicious day, all Sindhis around the world are celebrating a festival called ‘Thadree’ (also known as ‘Vadi Sataiy’)

Thadree comes from the word ‘Thado’, meaning cold, hence today, the Sindhis around the world will eat cold food throughout the day.

Mom used to cook the food for next day on a stove. She would start to cook in the evening after taking her bath. With her head covered and the prayers on her lips, she would cook food for this festival.

Pure Ghee was used for cooking the meals and its fragrance dominated the house for many hours. I would scheme a plan to steal a bite of sweet lolo from the hot plate, but that was not allowed, in fact, I was not encouraged to enter her kitchen while she was cooking, therefore, I only drooled and waited patiently for the next day to arrive. She used to make many things like Mitho lolo (sweet flat bread), Besan jo chillo (spiced flat bread) Dhal ji Mani (Roti stuffed with spiced lentils), Sanna Pakoras (gram flour fritters), mixed vegetables in green masala, stuffed karelas, rice curds, rotis, Papads, etc. 

At the end of her cooking, she would offer prayers over the stove, with rice, vermillion and sprinkle water to put the stove to sleep.

On the ‘Thadree’ day, all my close and extended family would come home for a feast of cold food. Mom, being the eldest in the family, our home was the meeting point for all festivals. Mom enjoyed serving food and inviting people for lunches and dinners and family loved her food. After lunch, the adults would engage in game of cards, while we kids played board games. The elders would give ‘Kharchi’(a gift in cash) to the younger ones and we would be thrilled with the money that we received from uncles, aunts and elder cousins.

This festival is still celebrated in many Sindhi homes, although it is gradually disappearing. The youngsters don’t show any interest in eating cold food nor do they have any inclination to cook an authentic Sindhi cuisine.

Nevertheless, whosoever has tasted this delicious meal enjoys it a lot. It is special because it is made with love, prayers and interest.

The festival is celebrated in the honor of Goddess Shitaladevi, which literally means cool Goddess. Hindus believe that she is the reliever of suffering and pain. During this festival, while offering food to the Goddess ShitalaDevi, women hold the sweet bread over children's eyes, singing “Thaar Mate Thaar, Pahenje bachran khe Thaar” which means 'bless your children with good health'.

This delicious lunch that was cooked in my sister’s home today to celebrate this festival.

Mixed vegetables in Green Masala

Bhajiyas with green chutney

Spiced Besan Roti


Curd Rice in Mustard

Dhal Roti

Mitho Lolo





For recipes on ‘festival food’, do find them in my book #SindhiCuisine available at bookstores and online across India.

Monday, August 4, 2014

On My Last Day in Bangkok, I Made a Trip To a Local Supermarket.


For twenty days at Krabi and Bangkok, all I ate was Thai cuisine, at the malls, on the streets and even in the fancy restaurants. Thai food is amazing and I could not have enough of it. I didn’t touch Indian cuisine at all, not even a small piece of chappati or a spoonful of curry (although I did try Thai roti stuffed with banana and honey, will write about it in another post). 

Even a small coffee shop looked inviting...




So in reality, I should be completely satisfied.


But no, I wanted to get the food memories back home. So I went to a large supermarket.



The drooling display of fruits and vegetables, the large range of sea food on ice-blocks, the great selection of sausages and frozen food, the spices, the sauces, the noodle soup packets, if I didn’t have weight problem during travelling (I was allowed only 25kgs) I would grab them all….

The food stalls were oh...so tempting...



Carefully, I started to pick up stuff, anything light and tasty, and something that I cannot find in Indian super stores easily. One by one, the stuff went off the shelf into my shopping cart, few dozens ‘Mama’ soup packets, few bottles of assorted spicy sauces, freshly made chutneys and savories and then I glanced at the mushroom shelf.

A big variety of Mushrooms of different kinds seduced me. I stood staring at Button mushroom, Straw mushrooms, Maitake mushrooms, Shiitake mushrooms…all fresh and dewy packed in plastic, ready for cooking. 

I was not sure how long they would last, but I picked them and now they sit frozen in my fridge, ready for use.

Today I opened the packet to find maitake, straw and black fungi mushroom, decided to stir fry.



Chopped spinach and cooked a delicious lunch.


I decided to make Mushrooms and Spinach Stir-fries



Ingredients

1tbsp peanut oil
8-9pods of crushed garlic
2 green chilies
100gms-assorted mushrooms
100gms spinach
1 vegetarian stock cube
1tsp black pepper
1/2tsp soya sauce
1tsp oyster sauce

Every spoonful is divine



Method:

Heat oil and add crushed garlic and chopped chilies. Add the assorted mushrooms, and stir-fry.

Add vegetarian stock cube, and black pepper.

Add spinach and stir it well

Add soya sauce and oyster sauce.

Serve with steamed rice, diagonally sliced cucumber and chili in vinegar.




Monday, July 21, 2014

Great Thai Cuisine at ‘Cabbages and Condoms’


While in Bangkok, there was this interesting restaurant I went with my family for an authentic Thai cuisine. Didn’t realize that the mannequins that I saw at the entrance were dressed in colorful condoms until I touched the rubbery strips.



The safe sex message was loud and clear and screamed from every article displayed at this Sukumvit eatery, in the lampshades, flower bouquets, wall hangings, dinner plates, toothpicks, and even in the different articles sold in the souvenir shop at the entrance of this restaurant.



While Bangkok is renowned for sex trade it also has an incredible spiritual side with beautiful temples at every junction. This place is a brazen shrine to all things safe sex.

While in Bangkok, coconut water is must. It’s so sweet and delicious. I have relished it almost every day. So this was the first drink that arrived at our tables as soon as we settled down for a cool drink



The Thai cuisine served in this restaurant is excellent and authentic. Steamed crabmeat with vegetables and basil, satays in peanut sauce, spicy tom yum soup, sticky rice, stuffed fish, and there was wide selection of vegetarian Thai cuisine for my pure vegetarian family.



I specially loved ‘Mieng Thum’, that had lemon, dried shrimps, peanuts, deep fried coconut, ginger, green chili, shallots wrapped in betel nut leaf. 



On out way out I was most amused by this



It turns out that the story behind ‘Cabbages and Condoms’ is a fantastic one; it is actually an organization that has spearheaded the safe sex movement in Thailand, saving thousands of life in the process.

Do visit it when in Bangkok…..
   

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Lot Can Happen Over a Cup Of Coffee at ‘The Square’.


The invite at ‘The Square’ was to explore the world of ‘Single Origin’ coffees with Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal and Rhicha Sinha for an interesting session of historical journey of coffee in India. Naturally I was curious, because last year, during my visit to Canary Island, I had done the study of the coffee culture in Spain and I wanted to know how it differed from India.

The Square’ Café Coffee Day specializes in single origin coffee



Single Origin Coffee, as explained by Rhicha Sinha, is the one that is specific to one particular origin. It could be entire geographical region, a small village or even one particular hill. What makes it so special is that aroma and the taste of the beans differ depending on the specific mix of tangible and intangibles characteristics of that particular area in such a way that it is impossible to replicate anywhere else in the world.



The four different beans that were displayed at the cooking station in jute bags had very strong and sweet aroma. But the actual taste of the coffee was from freshly roasted, ground coffee that was in the plunger. Rhicha Sinha, who is the senior manager and beverage consultant at Coffee Day, explained that the right method to brew the coffee was with hot mineral water. She spoke about how much research they had done to distinguishing the taste of different beans and the number of coffee cups she consumes per day..



The session started with brief talk by Rushina who expressed her love for coffee and her involvement with the company since last two years. Rushina, being a foodie, has great ideas for matching food with beverages.

We all know that food and wine can be incorporated and there are lots of other food and beverage match that people have tried to do- sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t work- for eg whisky and food, I think whisky should be had on its own. What is interesting is that we can also match the coffee with food. With coffee it actually works. You can drink coffee to wash down a snack, it can be spicy n cheesy, it could be sweet and nutty, you can pair it and it compliments with the food and it’s worth exploring. The idea is to taste them and take them where you will, with your personal coffee experience and your personal coffee story.” She said.

Rhicha on the other hand took us through the journey of coffee by making us experience the different brewed coffee and their accompaniment with the snack. The journey started with ‘Ethopian Sidamo’ the birthplace of coffee, which is harvested by hand to deliver a bean of exceptional quality and this was served with delicious tacos. This was followed with coffee of Indian origin, Mysore Nuggets extra bold, Indian Kathlekhan superior and Rajgiri pearl with accompaniments such as nutty pastry, pizza and cookie.



It involves many years of blending and brewing. In fact, the launch of The Square is the revolution since five years and it was very apt for us to have café that serves single origin coffee and we truly believe that single origin coffee is not just about selling a cup of coffee to our guest but also creating awareness about what these special coffee are.” Says Rhicha



Rushina used coffee in cooking of BBQ sauce (she did live demo at the end of the session) and it tasted delicious. One of these days I plan to make this sauce.

Signature Recipe specially created by Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal for CCDSquareUP

Katlekhan Barbecue Sauce.


Ingredients:

2 tbsp oil                                        1 ¾ Onions        chopped           
6Garlic cloves chopped                 4tbsp green chilies      
½ cup brown sugar                       2tbsp chili powder
2tbsp fresh coriander leaves                  1tsp cumin ground
200gms tomatoes, chopped          100gms tomato puree
1 stock cube                                  1cup strong Katlekhan coffee freshly brewed

Method

·     
Heat oil in heavy, large saucepan over medium-high heat
·      Add onions, garlic and chili and sauté until onions are tender, about 7minutes
·      Add brown sugar, chili powder, honey, coriander and cumin, stir until sugar dissolves
·      Stir in tomatoes with puree, crumbled stock cube and coffee, bring to boil
·      Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until sauce thickens slightly and is reduced.
·      Stir often while on the heat for about 35minutes
·      Check seasoning and add salt or pepper as needed.

I found Katlekahn Coffee candied nut mix (made by Rushina) in the foodie bag that I brought back home, and I couldn’t stop eating.

It was a fun afternoon meeting with other food bloggers and other persons from social print media. There were many ideas exchanged and the conversation was mainly around ‘food’ I think I had too many cups of coffee during the session, and then a feast over coffee infused candied nut mix, which kept me high for a long time and kept me awake much longer than my normal sleeping hours.
                 


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