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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Breakfast In Sindhi homes

Before the oats, cereals, muffins, pastries and sandwiches made their appearances at our breakfast table, Parathas, Puri, and rice ruled the kitchens. Early mornings, tea or coffee was paired with home cooked meals.

There was a great variety of paratha made with most inovative fillings, sometimes stuffed with potatoes, sometimes with radish, then, there were cauliflower, cottage cheese, peas and sometimes even fenugreek. There were great varieties of puris too. From plain salt and pepper to more elaborate puris that were stuffed with colorful lentils. Curds, pickle and papads were included with puris and parathas.
But I enjoyed Parathas the most, especially those of potatoes mixed with coriander leaves, green chilies and cumin seeds.

Parathas are basically unleavened dough stuffed with spiced mixture of mashed potatoes/vegetables, which is rolled out and cooked on hot plate with butter. Paired with pickle or curd and a hot cup of tea, it made a perfect Sunday morning.

Puri on the other hand is the unleavened dough usually prepared with wheat flour (atta) or refined wheat flour (maida) or coarse wheat flour (sooji), deep-fried in hot oil till they bloat like a balloon. They can be paired with lentils, or potatoes or pickle and sometimes even with sweets like halwa or jalebi.

In my house, Loli was regularly made. This was made with wheat flour where little ghee/or butter was added before kneading, plain loli had only salt and pepper, while masala loli had finely chopped onions, coriander leaves, pomegranate seeds and chilies. This too tasted great with pickles, papads or curds, but I would enjoy it best with fried eggs, (sunny side up) or sometimes with mutton cooked in spinach and tomatoes.

Pakwan was another great delight where the dough was rolled paper-thin and deep-fried. This was relished with lentils and fried papads.

Nowadays we are too health conscious and will avoid fried stuff out right. Now I see youngsters skipping breakfast or relishing baked crisps of rolled oats stuffed with nuts, honey, raisins, flaxseeds, etc. I too prefer a glass of fresh juice in the mornings. 

Cooked meal early morning is never preferred by today’s youth. Wonder if they know the taste of leftover food that was revamped into different dish the next morning.

Leftover Chappatis were cooked in green masala of coriander leaves, garlic and tomatoes to make a dish called 'Mani seyal'.

Rice was fried into yellow rice by adding garlic, mustard seeds, tomatoes, onions, coriander leaves, green chilies and turmeric powder.

While German households had salami, bacon, ham, eggs and varieties of cheese, French German rolls paired with jam, marmalade, honey. In my house, on the other hand, it was simple dried leftover bread cooked with onion, tomatoes, green chilies and coriander leaves called 'Daboroti seyal'. It tasted heavenly with a hot cup of filter coffee.

In Spain, no matter where I went, at every breakfast restaurant was tortilla Esponola. But in my house, we had delicious omelets of onions, coriander leaves and tomatoes, even a simple omelet with just salt and pepper tasted great. Sometimes we had leftover rotis dipped in egg and fried on skillet.

A typical Italian breakfast is made of hot beverages and something sweet to eat like croissant, pastries, cookies and maybe some fresh juice too, but in my house there was thin sweet vermicelli called ‘Sayoon’ cooked with sugar and cardamom.

Every country that I travelled, I saw people relishing different breakfast but there was always similarity between their food and ours to some extend, especially if they were cooked or fried.

Some years ago, One early morning, in Hongkong, it was 5am and I couldn’t go back to sleep. I decided to take a bus to far off busstop and enjoy the breakfast. I still remember the beautiful taste of Congee I had on the street. The congee is a simple rice broth that contained pieces of chicken and some deep fried shrimps. I had seasoned it with vinegars in chilies and some soy sauce. In my house congee is also made but we just add crackled mustard seeds and we called it ‘Kweerni Khichdi’ I love this with sour curd and deep fried papad.

Breakfast is the important meal of the day, but now I shudder to eat fried food, bread and potatoes is too much carb, chappatis and puris are too heavy, so I have reduced my diet to just one glass of fresh vegetable juice with a simple toast or cookie. Lunch is when I will eat heavy food and dinner is just soup and fruits and sometimes if the mood is right, will eat the breakfast selection of parathas, puri or rice..during dinner time….

Our elders would eat four heavy meals to survive, and they had no diet issues, I just cannot eat so much, but then, I don’t work physically that hard like my granny or other women in my family used to do…

Here is sharing a leaflet from my book on #SindhiCuisine…..

Patatey ji manni

    (Potato Paratha)

Serves 4

2 potatoes, boiled
3 cups wheat flour
2 tablespoon oil
Salt to taste
½ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon red chilly powder
1 tablespoon onion, finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tablespoon coriander leaves, chopped


  1. Mash the boiled potato and add salt, cumin powder, red chilly powder, onions, green chillies and coriander leaves. Keep aside.
  2. Knead the dough for paratha adding salt and 1 tablespoons of oil to the wheat flour.
  3. Roll it on a floured board to about 2 inch circle. Put 2 tablespoon of potato filling in the center and gently pick up the sides, press together to form a ball, covering the filling completely.
  4. Roll out carefully into round paratha, cook on tava on a medium flame till light brown, using small quantities of oil.
  5. Serve with curd and papad.

Monday, December 1, 2014

An Exotic Vegetarian Cuisine at Govinda

As more people are turning vegetarian, the pure veg-restaurants are also growing in numbers. Govinda Restaurant in South Mumbai is more special because they do not use garlic and onion in their kitchen and all the dishes served are pure satvic food, a strict diet followed by certain sect of society like Jains and BrahmaKumaris.
But that does not limit their variety of dishes; the menu card had listing of more than 200 varieties to choose from. Indian, chinese, continental, there is dish suitable for every palate. Every dish was special but different from what you would get at other restaurants and at a very economical prices.

The street food like Sev Puri had garnishing of pomegranate, The pizza had topping of exotic vegetables layered with pesto and basil leaves, the mint chutney was spicy and tasty. Then, there was Chinese Bhel, a perfect blend of deep fried noodles with grated vegetables. The main course of noodles and Manchurian vegetable balls tasted great although there was no garlic used during cooking. All the fruit juices are freshly made, and the natural ice creams like custard apple and watermelon was favored by all, the kulfis in clay cups was a delight.

Friend who is a regular at this eatery, says she loves to come here after her session of devotional music next door, which is actually an Ishkon temple at Kemp’s Corner. She finds peace and solitude.
I believe her

The ambience is very soothing with devotional soft music in the back ground, a jasmine fragrance in the room from the incense burning in dark corners of the restaurants, mythological stories depicted in the painting on the walls and hand made articles, like bamboo lanterns adorning the shelves.
The art blends with religion setting the moods.

I would highly recommend this eatery for people who enjoy vegetarian cuisine.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Lotus stem also known as Kamal Kakri

The other day, one of my friends, who returned from her Kashmir trip had an urge to eat the delicious lotus root that she had so enjoyed in Kashmir. Unfortunately, she could not find in the market in Delhi. It’s a rare thing and not many vegetable vendors sell it. This is usually available at Chinese stores as canned food or if you like fresh stem, then it is normally found in the areas where Sindhi community lives. Lotus stem, also known as Kamal Kakri or Bhien, it is regularly cooked in Sindhi homes.

I had posted in detail the recipe of 'Lotus stem in potatoes' at http://papadchai.blogspot.in/2014/03/lotus-stem-with-potatoes.html

I have this recipe ‘Bhugal Bhee Vadi’ in my cookbook #SindhiCuisine on page 64. My friend Anita Mantri, tried the recipe and send me back her feedback. She writes “It bought back nostalgic memories when your mom fed us with utmost love. It was so close to the original taste.”

Lotus stem made its regular appearance in my home during growing up years. Mom used to spend hours cleaning each pore of the stem with a cotton bud. I used to hate the hair-like fiber that would cling to my cheek as I took the bit off the cooked chunk.
Lotus stems were cooked during every family festivals and celebrations, it was considered as the favorite vegetarian substitute. Being very versatile, sometimes it was mashed and rolled into koftas to make kofta curry, sometimes coated with gram flour and deep fried, sometimes chopped finely and paired with carrots and sometimes clubbed with dried mushrooms. In every style it tasted fabulous. Crunchy, delicate, water chestnut like flavor and visually appealing too I enjoyed it a lot.

Today I wanted to make lotus stem again, but there were no onions in my pantry. Should I make Chinese or should I stick to Indian style. My maid had already made chappatis for me, so Chinese was out, couldn’t possibly eat Chinese with chappatis. No way.

The next option was to make in tomatoes. So here is my recipe of Lotus Stem in Tomato gravy.

200gms lotus stem
200gms potatoes
1tbsp oil
1 crushed cardamom
pinch of asafetida
2-3 curry leaves
1/2inch grated garlic
1 large tomato
1/2tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
coriander leaves for garnishing

1.    The delicious lotus stem should be cut into thin strips at a slant and pressure-cooked.
2.    In a pan heat oil.
3.    Add cardamom, asafetida, curry leaves, ginger and tomatoes.
4.    Add potatoes and lotus stem.
5.    Add turmeric powder and salt.
6.    Add half of cup water.
7.    Cover and let it cook till potatoes are tender.
8.    Garnish with coriander leaves.
Serves 2 persons
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