Thursday, July 28, 2011

The irresistable Frankie

During the college days, my sister and me would wait for weekends just to have yummy Frankies.  The famous place where they serve made-to-order frankies were in front of Globus, not sure if it exists now.  A couple of them and we were full.  Those were carefree and fun days with nothing to worry about, missing those years a lot.  If possible, would love to relive and relish those days again.  My sister was a good partner in all our masti, be it good or adventurous.  And, of course we had loads and loads of friends.  It was a mix of mine and my sister's friends, so a birthday party would contain a minimum of 25 to 30 friends and full all day around.  We had a scooty to move around Chennai and within months, we were able to find our ways through gullys and narrow lanes to explore the best food in the city.  Not to miss the Dosa in Karpagambal mess in Mylapore near the Chithrakulam tank, hot bondas from Sangeetha, hot and fresh polis from Poli corner, the tender coconut water and the goodies of Grand sweets. Another favourite of ours was the freshly roasted groundnuts from a small shop in Mylapore, this shop still exists.

Now,coming back to the Frankie recipe - I found that with small additions of chutneys and lemon juice, it enhanced the taste of it.  Here are the ingredients:

Potatoes - 3 big cubed

Carrots   - 2 chopped
Onion     - 1 medium size finely chopped
Capsicum - 1 chopped
Panneer - 1 cup cubed
Wheat flour - 1/2 cup
Maida - 1 1/2 cups
Red chilly powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala powder- 1 tsp
Chaat masala
Coriander leaves - 4 tbsp finely chopped
Butter - as desired
Lemon - 2 nos.
Coriander chutney
Tamarind chutney

In a pan, add oil and then the chopped onions and once it turns translucent, add potatoes, carrots, and capsicum. Add salt, garam masala powder and red chilly powder and cook it in low heat till the veggies are just done. Mix the cubed panneer. Allow it to cool.

Knead maida and wheat flour into a dough.  Take a small ball of the dough and roll it very thin to about  6" diameter. Apply butter on one side of the rolled dough and cook it with the butter side down in a tava in medium flame.  Once this side is done, take it out and place on a plate and add the veggies mix in a thin line, add a few drops of lemon juice, some very finely chopped raw onions, coriander chutney, tamarind chutney and finely chopped coriander and finally little chaat masala to the veggies mix.

Wrap it with a parchment paper or foil and ur frankie is good to go.

This is a perfect snack and very apt for parties and picnics.

'Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside' - Mark Twain

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Nature's Vibrant colour-Yellow

Talk about the bright yellow sun which starts the dawn of the day and gives life and energy to all mankind. Yellow is cheerful. It brings an instant vigour inside oneself when you see the colour. Yellow is the colour of citrus and freshness. This also catches a lot of attention being on the brighter side but some say that viewing this colour for a long time brings tiredness to our eyes due to its brightness.

There are many products in Nature which has the yellow colour in them. Saffron when mixed with milk produces a beautiful yellow. Pollen grains are again yellow in colour. The spice 'Turmeric' is yellow and it has many medicinal qualities. It also acts as a colouring agent in cooking. Not to forget the 'mustard' which is black and when made to paste or broken has a beautiful yellow inside and who can forget the lovely yellow mustard plant flowers.

The flower Daffodil is yellow and so is lily. Among the fruits we have the energetic banana and the sweetlime and not to miss the 'King of fruits - Mango'. Yellow indicates the ripeness of the fruit which is usually green in colour when unripe. The lighter version of yellow - 'cream' has a soothing feel on the eyes

One of the most precious metal gold is also yellow. Bronze is another metal which is used to make statues and other cast items. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. The colour varies from dark yellow to brown depending upon how much zinc is present. The more the zinc, the lighter the colour.

Leaves turn yellow due to losing its colouring pigment chlorophyll to losing its colouring pigment chlorophyl. It is a beautiful sight to see the yellow leaves during the autumn season.

In many countries including India, the colour yellow denotes prosperity and well being; In some Indian weddings, the bride is usually adorned in a yellow sari and the groom in a yellow dhoti. Yellow Chrysanthemums are usually adorned in the hair as a symbol of celebration.

Mustard Kancheevaram sari with rust border is a common sight during Chennai's 'Margazhi maasam music fests'.  We can keep on and on about this bright color.  It is Nature's pride and our delight.

'I really just want to be warm yellow light that pours over everyone I love '- Conor Oberst

Monday, July 18, 2011

The power of Prayer

Most of the times, we resort into saying heavy slokas and stotrams in Sanskrit that we might not understand or even try to understand.  This reciting maybe as a result of practice or by repetition by elders at home.  In most of the households in South India, the morning begins with the tuning in of Vishnu Sahasranamam and over the years, the lyrics become familiar and without our knowledgee we tend to repeat.

On thinking about the same, one may wonder what is the use of this parroting?  Prayers can be simple dialogues between us and the Supreme.  When I got this forward, it served as an eye opener and proved a fitting reply to my doubts.  Am sure, many like me would be having the same view point and this would benefit them too.

An old farmer lived on a farm in the mountains with his young grandson. Each morning grandfather wakes up early sitting at the kitchen table reading  his Bhagavadh Geetha. His grandson wanted to be just like him and tried to imitate him in every way he could.

One day the grandson asked, "Grandpa! I try to read the Bhagavadh Geetha just like you but I don't understand it, and whatever I do understand,  I forget as soon as I close the book. What good does reading the Bhagavadh Geetha do?"

The Grandfather quietly turned from putting coal in the stove and replied,"Take this coal basket down to the river and bring me back a basket of water."

The boy did as he was told, but all the water leaked out before he got back to the house. The grandfather laughed and said, "You'll have to move a little faster next time," and sent him back to the river with the basket to try again. This time the boy ran faster, but again the basket was empty before he returned home. Out of breath, he told his grandfather that it was impossible to carry water in a basket, and he went to get a bucket instead.

The old man said, "I don't want a bucket of water; I want a basket of water. You're just not trying hard enough," and he went out the door to watch the boy try again.

At this point, the boy knew it was impossible, but he wanted to show his grandfather that even if he ran as fast as he could, the water would leak out before he got back to the house.

The boy again dipped the basket into river and ran hard, but when he reached his grandfather,  the basket was again empty. Out of breath, hesaid,"See Grandpa, it's useless!""So you think it is useless?" The old man said, "Look at the basket."

The boy looked at the basket and for the first time realized that the basket was different. It had been transformed from a dirty old coal basket to a clean one, inside and out.

"Son, this is what happens when you read the Bhagavath Geetha. You might not understand or remember everything, but when you read it, you will be changed, inside and out. That is the work of Krishna in our lives."

Was touched by the above story that I do not question myself when I read my daily slokas.
'Prayer requires more of the heart than the tongue '- Adam Clarke

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Creamy tasty Navratan kurma

Navratan kurma used to be first in the wish list during our visits to the restaurants, awesome taste and texture.  The combination of nuts and fruits embedded in the gravy alongside the veggies is a true delight for the eyes and the tongue.  It is indeed a blend of tastes and is a 'Navratan' in literal terms.  This is a very simple preparation and once the necessary ingredients are ready, gets done very quickly.  Here goes the recipe:
Potatoes - 2 nos. (chopped)
Carrots - 1/2 cup (chopped)
Beans -  1/2 cup (chopped)
Cauliflower - 1/2 cup (florets)
Green bell pepper - 1/2 cup (chopped)
Peas - 1/2 cup
Onion - 2 nos. (chopped)
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
Tomato paste - 3 tbsp
Cashews and raisins - 1/4 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Red chilly powder - 3/4 tsp
Garam masala powder - 1 tsp
Heavy cream - 1/2 cup
Coriander leaves - 1/2 tsp (finely chopped)

Roast the cashews and keep aside. 

In two tablespoon of oil in a pan add the chopped onions and cook it until soft.  The heat should be in the minimum so that the masalas do not get burnt.  Mix the ginger garlic paste and stir till it leaves a beautiful aroma. Now, add the turmeric powder, red chilly powder, coriander powder and the garam masala powder. Mix the tomato paste and add water.  Once this mixture comes to a boil, add all the chopped veggies and salt.  Cover with a lid for the veggies to cook in the masala.  Once it is cooked, stir in the heavy cream and add the roasted cashews and raisins.  Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves.

Creamy and tasty Navratan kurma ready to serve.

“Cookery is not chemistry. It is an art. It requires instinct and taste rather than exact measurements.”- Marcel Boulestin

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The ever eternal Pav Bhaji

This is the recipe one never gets tired of and it can never go wrong in any kitchen.  I personally feel that the small nuances enhances the taste of any particular dish.  And especially, this bhaji is incomplete without cauliflower, carrots,beans, capsicum and peas to name a few.  These veggies have to be present and cannot be substituted with anything else.  Again, the pav, if freshly baked, does wonders.

During my young days, we had different sources of acquiring butter. One was the traditional method where my mom used to accumulate cream and once a week, butter was churned in a mixer. There used to be a 'Nambisan butter' which used to top up the deficit of the home made. And special occasions like Pav bhaji calls for only Amul butter. Till today, for Pav to be toasted, I prefer Amul butter (although I get Danish Lurpak) and the slight crispiness and the brown crunchy taste is mind blowing. I prefer to make the bhaji simple and not very 'Masaladhar'.

Here goes my version

Potatoes - 6 nos
Tomatoes - 2 big finely chopped
Carrots - 2 nos chopped
Onion - 1 big finely chopped
Capsicum - 1/2 cup chopped
Beans - 1/2 cup chopped
Peas - 1/4 cup
Cauliflower- 1/2 cauliflower into florets
Coriander leaves - 4 tbsp finely chopped
Ginger - 1 tsp finely chopped
Jeera - 1 tsp
Pav bhaji masala - 3 tsp (I used MDH Pav bhaji masala)
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chilly powder - 3/4 tsp
Lemon - 2 nos.
Amul Butter

Boil potatoes, peel and keep it aside.  Cook carrots, beans, cauliflower,capsicum and keep aside.  Boil peas separately.

In a kadai, add one tablespoon butter, add jeera and the finely chopped onions. Saute it well and then add finely chopped ginger, Pav bhaji masala, turmeric powder, red chilly powder and stir well till the masalas are blended and then add the finely chopped tomatoes and allow it to cook well.  Now, add the cooked potatoes,beans,carrots capsicum and cauliflower. Add salt and mash the veggies well.  Once it is mashed, add water to bring it to bhaji consistency.  Now add the boiled peas and mix well.  If the peas is boiled alongwith other veggies, it will be mashed and will not be visible.

Now garnish with very finely chopped coriander leaves and the bhaji is all set to hold hands with the mighty pav.  Squeeze the juice of two lemons or as per taste before serving.


There is one thing more exasperating than a wife who can cook and won't, and  a wife who can't cook and will. ~Robert Frost
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