Celebrations big and small

Carrying through with New Year’s resolutions has always been a challenge.  But when I remember my resolutions, I try and carry through, if only for the day.  To find the joy of each and every day, is one resolution that I have been conscientiously trying to do as often as possible.   After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?  The big joys are fleeting, few, and far in-between.  The little joys – sunshine or rain, a scrumptious pastry, a forgotten song – just make your day.

As I was driving around today, it struck me how beautiful the scenery outside was.  A dreary day otherwise but the contrast between the impending storm and the blooming cherry blossoms made it more than bearable.  It was pouring rain, but the colors were just so vibrant and worthy of at least a few photographs.

On the subject of cooking, I haven’t been as prolific of late.  Call it the winter doldrums.  Last weekend, Hubby Dear and I were enjoying a Saturday night at home and the topic of dinner came up.  We were both feeling lethargic, and not feeling up to anything too extravagant.  The thought of spending an hour in the kitchen sounded exhausting.  The default choice in this situation is usually a take out burrito from High Tech Burrito, but we had already done that earlier in the week.  After debating for a few minutes, we had divine inspiration – khichdi! Rice and daal porridge on a cold winter’s eve was exactly what we needed to warm us up from the inside out.  With the accoutrements of yogurt, chauka (mashed potatoes) and paapad (wafer made of lentils, lightly toasted on a gas burner), a fast and easy meal was set.  My version of khichdi is more of pulao/pilaf than porridge.  The recipe below serves 4 easily (or 2 with leftovers for a few days).  If you feel inclined to, you can add vegetables such as chopped carrots, cauliflower, or squash to the rice/daal mixture when you pressure cook it.  It’s khichdi – you can’t go wrong.

Khichdi Recipe (drier version.  Serves 4)

Ingredients:

– 1 cup basmati rice, washed and drained

– 1 cup toor dal, washed and drained

– 1 teaspoon garam masala

– 1 teaspoon mirch powder

– 1/4 teaspoon haldi (turmeric)

– Salt, to taste

For tempering:

– Handful of peas

– 1 teaspoon jeera

– 1/2 medium onion, chopped

– 1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter or regular butter is fine too)

Directions:

1.  Add rice and daal together in a pressure cooker with the garam masala, haldi, mirch powder, and salt

2.  Add 2 1/2 cups of water

3.  Pressure cook for 3 whistles (approximately)

4.  Remove from the burner, and allow the pressure to escape

5.  Place ghee in a shallow frying pan and once melted, add the jeera

6.  Once the jeera stars to pop and brown, add the onions and fry until translucent

7.  Add peas and fry until they are a little shriveled

8.  Pour the tempered mixture into the khichdi and mix thoroughly

9.  Add another teaspoon of ghee on top before serving for a more creamy texture

With Valentine’s Day this month, I knew I wanted to make Hubby Dear a special meal at home.  I pored over websites and watched endless Food Network shows to get inspiration but nothing seemed “just right.”  Then it came to me:  Hubby Dear and I love spicy chaat dishes and in particular, we love chole bhature (spicy chickpeas with fried bread).  So I made my Mother-in-Law’s chole and found an easy bhatura recipe online and it worked perfectly.  For dessert, I paired chocolate-dipped strawberries with Kir Royale for a dinner feast!

Chole (recipe serves 4)

Ingredients:

– 2 cups chickpeas

– 3-4 roma tomatoes, chopped into small cubes

– 1 serrano pepper, finely chopped

– 1 1/2 tablespoons jeera

– Pinch of asafoetida powder

– 1 teaspoon ginger, grated to form paste

Directions:

1.  Wash chickpeas thoroughly and soak in double the amount of water, overnight (water level should be 1 inch above chickpeas)

2.  Next day, add chickpeas, and a pinch of baking soda in a pressure cooker with the same water it was soaked in for 2-3 whistles

3.  Remove pressure cooker from the burner and allow to cool and pressure to escape

4.  Using a shallow frying pan or tava, add 1 and 3/4 tablespoons of jeera and roast until brown (the aroma of this is intoxicating)

5.  Remove from the frying pan once browned, and place seeds in a mortar and grind into a fine powder.  Keep aside

5.  In a wok or karahi, add 3 tablespoons of any vegetable or olive oil

6.  When the oil is hot, add asafoetida powder and it should start to brown immediately

7.  Add 1 teaspoon of jeera and let it brown and crackle

8.  Now add the chopped tomatoes and serrano peppers and sautee until the tomato becomes soft and forms a paste-like consistency

9.  Add garam masala and mirch powder and keep stirring

10.  Add the chickpeas (they should be pretty soft now) and mix thoroughly

11.  Add the roasted and ground jeera powder and amchur powder and salt to taste

12.  Add about 2 cups of water slowly and simmer

13.  You can mash a few of the chickpeas to make the gravy a little thicker

14.  Remove from burner and serve hot with bhature, rotis, bread, puris, or rice

Bhature Recipe

This is a great video from Showmethecurry.com that instructs viewers on two ways to make delicious bhature

Source:  http://showmethecurry.com/breads/bhatura-bhature.html

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries Recipe

Source:  http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/Chocolate-Strawberries/Detail.aspx

Kir Royale Recipe

Source:  http://www.france-property-and-information.com/kir-royal-recipe.htm

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