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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lotus Stem With Potatoes

How cliché is the phrase “Lotus retains its beauty even though it is surrounded by muck”? Lotus symbolizes purity of mind and thought while amidst the impurity of the worldly affairs. Lotus is the National flower of India.
Each time I see this beautiful flower in a dirty pond, I am reminded of its goodness. It inspires art, religion, and folklore from times immemorial.
But, what about the lotus root, have you given a thought to its’ roots? It’s down there in the muck, dirty and coated with mud. You have to scrub it well before you can even use. It is relished for its taste and its nutritional value, not a thought is given to its origin in muck and mud.
Lotus stem is an interesting vegetable that changes its nature from the way you cook it. Have it raw, its bitter; cook and it has very unique, crunchy texture; stew and it turns starchy. Besides its high dietary fiber, Lotus stem is very rich in iron and calcium content. It is highly recommended for pregnant women. People with chronic complain of constipation can also profit from its use.
Unfortunately, you don’t see this Lotus stem at every vegetable vendor in Mumbai. You may find this mainly at specialized vegetable stalls. But whenever I see it, I am reminded of my mom’s experiments in the kitchen. Mom used to clean each pore with a matchstick, and cooked differently each time, sometimes in curry, sometimes bind them as koftas and sometimes make patties for evening snack. Mom made them in combination with carrots, or with potatoes or mushrooms. Whatever combination she chose, she always made a tasty meal.

This week I made lotus stem with potatoes.
2 medium size onions
2tbsp mustard oil
2 green chilies
1tsp-grated ginger
4-5 cloves crushed garlic
2 medium tomatoes
1tsp turmeric powder
2tsp coriander powder
1tsp cumin powder
1tsp red chili powder
1tsp garam masala
2 medium size potatoes
200gms lotus stems
salt to taste
1tsp lime juice
coriander leaves for garnishing.
Step 1
In a heavy base pressure cooker, cook finely chopped onions in 2tbsp oil

Step 2
Cook till the color changes to light brown.

Step 3
Add ½ cup water

Step 4
Add crushed garlic, grated ginger and chopped green chilies.

Step 5
Add chopped tomatoes

Step 6
Add turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, Garam masala, red chili powder and salt

Step 7
Mix and mash till masala begins to dry.

Step 8
Add the chopped potatoes and chopped lotus stems

Step 9
Mix and stir till it begins to stick to the sides. Add 1 cup water.

Step 10
Pressure cook till 3 whistles
Step 11
Garnish with coriander leaves and lime juice.

Serve with hot buttered parathas.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Jack fruit Curry

The moment I saw the baby Jack fruit, many memories came flooding down my spine, like the trip to South India during my college days, when I bought a huge Jack Fruit (because all friends were buying), too heavy to carry, brought it home and then being scolded by my family for the strong aroma that dominated my house for days. It brought back the memories of my school days, when every lunch break, we sat under the shade of Jackfruit tree, (we had 7 such trees in the school compound) and my boarded friends complained of being served the same jackfruit dish too often for meals and how much they hated it. It brought the memories of my mom, who loved this fruit so much that she invented various innovative dishes to make it tasty, making us believe that we were having non-veg meals on vegetarian days.

Succulent, soft and sweet when ripe, the taste closer to banana and mango, it tastes best in salads and desserts. Very nutritious, like so many tropical fruits, it is rich in dietary minerals like calcium, potassium and iron. It is excellent source of energy-giving carbohydrates, fiber and micronutrients making it a perfect staple food.

During my recent trip to Jaipur, (I was attending a wedding), Jackfruit made its special appearance in the form of most spicy barbequed, fibrous dish. At a glance it resembled roasted Chicken but the taste was unique, it still lingers and I plan to replicate this dish soon.

But for now, I will make do with Jackfruit curry. 


250gms Jack Fruit
200gms curd
1tsp garlic paste
1tsp ginger paste
5green chilies
1tsp turmeric powder
2tsp coriander powder
1tsp cumin powder
1tsp 5spice powder
2tsp salt
2tbsp oil
2 medium size onions
2 bay leaves
2 cardamoms
2 cloves
1inch cinnamon stick
2 dried red pepper
2 medium size tomatoes


Here is the step-by-step method for cooking delicious Jackfruit curry. (You can adjust the quantity of salt, chilies and oil to suit your taste)

Step 1:

Chopping the fruit is bit tricky. You need to oil your hands and the blade for smooth cutting. The hard wooded center and the outer spiky skin need to be discarded. The inner fibrous flesh is used for cooking

Step 2

The fruit has to be cleaned thoroughly, and should be either deep-fried or boiled.

Step 3

I prefer deep-fried because that gives a crunchy taste. But in this method, I have boiled it.

Step 4

On the side, prepare a curd masala by mixing garlic, ginger, chilies, turmeric, coriander powder, cumin powder, 5 spice powder and 1tsp salt

Step 5

Mix the boiled/fried jackfruit pieces to the curd masala

 Step 6

Leave the marinated fruit in the fridge for over 4 hours.

Step 7

In a separate pan, heat oil. Add bay leaves, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon and dried red pepper. Add finely chopped onions and cook till light brown.

Step 8

Add the marinated fruit, add chopped tomatoes and cook till it begins to stick to the sides.

Step 9

Add 1cup water and 1tsp salt, stir it well, cover and let it cook till oil floats on the top

Step 10

Serve with hot buttered parathas or steamed rice.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Malaysian Tourism Announces Food Festival

While the disappearance of Malaysia Airline is still a mystery, and it might hurt the tourist industry of the country, Malaysia is celebrating the tourism year 2014 with various events lined up during the year. There are great variety of musical festivals stealing the show during the month of April (Penang World Music Festival), May(Borneo Jazz Festival), June (Rainforest World Music Festival), July(Morneo Cultural Festival) and December(Penang International Jazz Festival)
The show must go on…
The Director General, Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board, Dato Mirza Mohammad Taiyab, who was speaking at a news conference in Mumbai, said that the travellers would overcome the sense of fear.
During the Q & A session, although there were repeated questions on the safety of the tourists, the talk was still diverted towards what they offer to those interested in travelling to Malaysia.
We were very amused to learn about Shoe festival that is just round the corner; this might interest women who are fetish about shoe collection.

Friend confirms that the shopping is cheaper in Malaysia as compared to India, and informs me of big range of gadgets that she has collected during her trips to the city. There is one Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival during the months, (June to September) and the year-end sale in the month of November that promises incredible discounts and promotional offers.
But the most useful events that interest me is the one that is related to food events and this will be in full swing during the end of the year from October to December. The three-month-long cuisine event is divided into four segments: 
the Malaysia International gourmet Festival, 
The Asian Food Heritage trail, 
the Street Food Festival and 
the Restaurant Food Festival.

Now into its 13th Successive year, the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival made its debut in September 2001. During this festival, restaurants put aside their competitive differences, share contacts and come together in a collective marketing effort. Rather than bringing the chefs from abroad for a one-off food promotion, the Festival’s unwavering focus is on skills of the world-class chefs already residing in Malaysia and the all-year round of their cuisine and restaurants.

During the year 2012, group of food bloggers were invited for ASEAN Heritage Food Trail in Penang by Ministry of Tourism Malaysia to witness this culinary showcase building bridge and linking culture with Indonesia and Thailand. The challenge for chef from three different countries was to use a common ingredients with innovation cooking method to create delicious dish, the ingredients for appetizers had to include bamboo shoot and fern, main course should have shallots, lemongrass and galangal and dessert was mainly on sago.
Image Source

Malaysia team prepared Bamboo Shoot and Fern Kerabu, Delicious Malay style salad with springs of fern, raw bamboo shoots, shredded coconut, local lettuce and spicy seasoning

The Malaysian Street Food Festival gives an opportunity to explore and purchase traditional Malaysian art and craft. Besides street food, there are many added attractions like martial art performances to music shows, traditional dances native to various regions around Malaysia, cultural display and many more

The detailed list of itinerary of fabulous food at Street and Restaurant Food Festival can be found at their site on Malaysia tourism
Four other food bloggers, Sameer Malkani @FoodBloggerAI, Nisha Jha @Cemonde , (a common man dines)@Ajit Balgi and @BhaktisBanter (Just Let it B) were also present at the news conference and together(in between our private tweets) we wished for a special privilege to travel to Malaysia to savor the flavors of their cuisine, preferably a pure vegetarian one.
picture courtesy: Sameer Malkani

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