Tag Archives: cooking

Moms and lunch boxes

My kids are now at the age where they seem to be hungry all the time and are always asking for food. One meal is barely over before they want to know ‘what and when’ they will eat next. As a mom it is nice to see this phase, but my kids were not always like this.

They were picky eaters and wanted only a certain type of food. My daughter would have milk only from medicine dispensers, strange as it sounds. 

There have been many different food phases in my kids’ lives.

I am reminded of a funny incident that happened many years ago, when my daughter was attending nursery school. I would prepare small sandwiches, mini dosas, mini idlis, vegetable wraps etc, trying to make my daughter’s lunch box as interesting as possible, knowing that she was fussy about what she ate. I would check with her the previous evening about what she wanted  – just to give her a sense of involvement, so that she would eat her food at school.

Picture courtesy – Clipart.com

I derived a lot of satisfaction to see her empty lunch box after school everyday! One day, however, the box came back untouched. I was worried if she was going to fall sick, but she seemed her usual self.

So, I asked her why she hadn’t touched her lunch. And this is what she said….

“Amma, the girl who usually eats my lunch was absent from school today!”

Aha….! That explained it all.

Imaginative nose

I have a sharp sense of smell. I can smell, from afar, if all the masalas in my curries have blended well for that perfect aroma. Enough said.

A few months ago, when I got back home in the evening, I could smell something milky at the doorstep. I sniffed appreciatively. Looked like one of my neighbours was making something with a milk base.

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             Courtesy – http://www.123rf.com

The next morning, when I walked out the door, the same smell wafted in the air. I sniffed, this smelled different. Maybe a little like yoghurt. Maybe the neighbour was trying to condense the milk or make cottage cheese.

Day 3, the smell was stronger and not so nice. Had the neighbour put ‘the milky condensed yoghurt, cottage cheese ‘ dish out to dry or something?

Day 3 evening, the smell was unbearable, unbearable to the point that I wanted to puke.

What could I do? I walked towards the store room cupboard, to take out a new cereal box. This store room is right next to our main door.

I opened the store room and ughhhhhh! The stench was from my store room.

The smell of curdled milk hit me with such force.

I quickly ran to get a towel to cover my nose, and then started the process of discovery.

One of the tetrapaks of milk had puffed up and burst, the said ‘milk-yoghurt-cottage cheese’ had flown down the cupboard like a river.

Believe me, it took some cleaning. For days afterwards, I could feel the smell in every pore of my body. It was as if the whole thing had permeated my skin.

Hmmmm….so much for the milk-based dish !

Imaginative nose

I have a sharp sense of smell. I can smell, from afar, if all the masalas in my curries have blended well for that perfect aroma. Enough said.

A few months ago, when I got back home in the evening, I could smell something milky at the doorstep. I sniffed appreciatively. Looked like one of my neighbours was making something with a milk base.

image

             Courtesy – http://www.123rf.com

The next morning, when I walked out the door, the same smell wafted in the air. I sniffed, this smelled different. Maybe a little like yoghurt. Maybe the neighbour was trying to condense the milk or make cottage cheese.

Day 3, the smell was stronger and not so nice. Had the neighbour put ‘the milky condensed yoghurt, cottage cheese ‘ dish out to dry or something?

Day 3 evening, the smell was unbearable, unbearable to the point that I wanted to puke.

What could I do? I walked towards the store room cupboard, to take out a new cereal box. This store room is right next to our main door.

I opened the store room and ughhhhhh! The stench was from my store room.

The smell of curdled milk hit me with such force.

I quickly ran to get a towel to cover my nose, and then started the process of discovery.

One of the tetrapaks of milk had puffed up and burst, the said ‘milk-yoghurt-cottage cheese’ had flown down the cupboard like a river.

Believe me, it took some cleaning. For days afterwards, I could feel the smell in every pore of my body. It was as if the whole thing had permeated my skin.

Hmmmm….so much for the milk-based dish !

Moms & Snack boxes

I don’t know about all you moms out there, but when my kids were in kindergarten and primary school, it was a big challenge to decide what to pack for their recess snack boxes and lunch boxes.

Some years, the teachers made it easy by giving a list of snack food categories for the week like Monday – fruit, Tuesday – salad etc.

But when the teachers did not give this list, I racked my brains. I am a fairly good cook but my kids would constantly come back and tell me that their boxes and meals were boring, and that their friends brought fun stuff.

So, once a week I would give them some potato wafers or Indian savouries for their snack boxes, to crank up the ‘cool-mom factor’ a few notches.

There have been times, when I have been asked to call their friends’ moms for certain recipes. They were happy when I made those dishes, but still felt it was not like their friends’ moms cooking. Phew!

I learned a lot of new recipes, and have evolved and innovated over the years. Time has flown, and the kids’ tastes have changed.

Now each time I pack their snack boxes, my teenager says, “Could you just give me fruit and salad. Don’t want any junk. I want to eat healthy.”

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Courtesy – en.wikipedia.org

Hmmmm…so it is back to square one. Monday – fruit, Tuesday – salad….maybe I should just pull out the nursery teacher’s schedule.

How soon time flies…and how soon the kids grow up!

My ‘Anjarai Petti’

I love to cook. I cook a lot of Indian, and a bit of Italian, Mexican and Chinese.

Most Indian dishes, especially the South Indian ones, use many different types of seeds – that are typically roasted, used for seasoning or ground into a paste with vegetables, to prepare chutneys or bases for different types of gravies.

While I cooked this morning, I realized that my kitchen needed an overhaul, too much clutter. I decided to make a list of things I really need, and the ones that I’d like to retire or store for future use.

My crazy brain then hyperlinked to another question – What are the things that I could not part with in my kitchen ?

I have a couple of things that I absolutely love. One is my humble coffee filter (I would die without it). The other is my Anjarai Petti (meaning box with five compartments).

This round box is used to store all the seeds I use in my cooking. Most Indian women have some form of the Anjarai Petti or other, to store spices or seeds or masala powders. Call it a spice rack or a seasoning rack.

I would be lost without this in my kitchen. As the name suggests, the box may have started off with five compartments, but most boxes these days have seven compartments. There are steel ones, wooden ones, and plastic ones.

Mine is a stainless steel one, which I use to store black gram, mustard seeds, pepper corn, fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds and cumin seeds. The box comes with a small spoon.

Here’s my Anjarai Petti, my ‘must-have’ kitchen resource.

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It’s easy and convenient, as most South Indian dishes start with sputtering mustard in oil and adding other seeds, before other things are added.

Do you have a ‘must-have’ kitchen list? I would love to know.

Badushah

Featured image

‘Badushah’ is an Indian sweet, known by a few other names in the subcontinent. I love this sweet, one of the few that I truly enjoy eating. My daughter shares my love for badushahs too!

Last year, during the Deepavali season, I decided to prepare badushahs at home. After checking out various recipes and zeroing in on the one that seemed the easiest, I made preparations to get started.

Little dough patties kneaded with fresh yoghurt and other ingredients were neatly arranged.

So far, so good. Next, they had to be deep fried – little golden brown patties emerged, sizzling in oil.

These had to be then dunked in sugar syrup, the hot patties soaking in the sweetness.

After a while, the patties had to be removed from the syrup and placed on a tray to cool, to allow the sugar to solidify into thin sheets of white over each patty. Sprinkling bits of saffron and colourful strands of dessicated coconut on each patty was the last step, and I was done.

The badushahs looked perfect. The heavenly smell of sugar, flour and frying filled the air.

It was time for the children to come back from school, and I couldn’t wait for my daughter to taste the first badushah.

When she walked in, she sniffed appreciatively, and was very excited that I’d made badushahs at home.

She washed and came to try the first one. She bit into the first badushah. Her eyes widened. I waited for her verdict with much anticipation.

Strangely, she didn’t seem to be eating it. I asked her to bite into the badushah.

She took it out of her mouth for a moment and said, “Mom, I am trying hard to bite, but it feels like leather, I am not able to sink my teeth into it.”

My heart broke. I looked at the deceptively good looking badushahs.

I called a couple of friends for ideas. Then I sat down and googled – ‘Tips to repurpose badushahs that did not turn out well’.

This picture, here, is from that day. My badushahs passed the ‘appearance test’ but little else.

Oops…too many seeds

We had guests for dinner over the weekend. My carefully planned menu turned out rather well.

There was one rice dish, which had a number of seeds – mustard, cumin, cardamom, peppercorn and star anise, in addition to various vegetables.

There were enough leftovers to last us till lunch the next day.

After eating the leftovers the next day, my son asked me why I hadn’t cooked anything new. I promised him that I would cook something that he liked for dinner, as I did not want to waste food.

He readily agreed and ran away to play. When he came home he sniffed the air appreciatively, and asked me what was for dinner.

When I told him, he let out a whoop of joy, and then said, “I was so scared that I would have to eat that ‘seedy’ rice again!!!

I laughed and told him the meaning of ‘seedy’!