Monday, April 27, 2009

My answer was... and Bitter gourd and Bilimbi in a coconut gravy

The comments on this post about the court case I was called on to be a witness capture the range of emotions I felt and also helps understand that each of us approach a problem utilizing our own life experiences. I am of the firm belief that the parent be it the mom or dad, the one who makes the sacrifice, effort and time to be with their children has to be respected. The part I hate most about divorces is how children are treated, like they are possession to be divvied among the concerned parties.

I said "Yes" when asked me and what kept going through my mind was that the boy needed the father as much as he needed the mother. First instincts are usually right and here it was to say Yes. A slight doubt if I should go through with it came after I gave it more thought and realized that I should have discussed with DH before giving consent. This hesitation made me get my questions organized and have them ready when the lawyer called to discuss. Foremost in my mind were, in no particular order, who initiated the divorce (it was her), what did the boy think (the boy was being questioned by social services to determine if there was any abuse by the father to which the boy had answered he wanted to be with both the parents and that he was very upset), if there would be any questions about her (no). I reiterated that I would not answer any questions positive or negative about her and I can only testify to what I saw which was mostly outside the house and I was not privy to anything that happened inside the house.

The court date arrived bright, clear, chilly and with 2 inches of snow on the ground. When I went to the court the neighbor and his sister(sister had travelled from Florida) walked out to inform that the cases for the day were cancelled because of the snow. I was relieved that I did not have to testify but making mental calculations of how to accommodate another day off from work for a later court date. Situations like these take an emotional toll on everybody who is concerned and it was no different for me and thanks to DH who agreed to come along and was supportive. I guessed it was on that day the mom came to know I would be a witness.

The drama came the next day when she called to ask if I was testifying for her husband. She already knew and I was not sure where the conversation was leading. The minute I said Yes she lost it. She demanded to know if I was a friend or not and if I would testify on her behalf. I told her (I hope) very politely that she had never asked and so I had not given it any thought. Then she demanded that I be her witness too, to which I explained to her that perhaps a face to face conversation would be useful and that we could do it as soon as she could come out of her house and that pretty much ended the pointless conversation. I was hopping mad (I was in my rights to do what I pleased. What was she trying to pull? intimidate me?) but it also had the desired effect. I started to get a bit anxious and considered for a brief second to pull out as a witness. But in the end it made me all the more determined to go through with it.

DH decided to the call the parents of the boy's friend (the friend referred to as TF from now) by the way the only friend the boy had in the neighborhood. TF's parents are also our neighbors and very good friends, a bit older than us and so in a position to give advice and also knew the situation as well as we did. This happened to be a blessing in disguise because TF's dad assured us and recalled an incident. The mom was upset with TF for some reason(the boy had to always play the games TF suggested or some such) and she marched over to TF's house, once there besides accusing TF also accused TF's mom of several things and stating that they cannot play together ever again. Take into context that TF was the only friend the boy had in the neighborhood and he also regularly played with him. The boy's dad on coming to know of this walked over to TF's house and appolozied to the parents and also requested that the boys play together again because his son was very upset. This talk did enough to further cement my decision.

A couple of weeks later I heard that the case was settled out of court with an agreement to joint custody and I breathed the biggest sigh of relief and hoping that the boy would do fine.

The dad had moved out a few months before the court case and the mom lives in the house with her son. The dad visits regularly to pick and drop off the boy and on enquiring about the boy it was sad to hear that he is having problems at school and went from being a good student to not doing well at school and I don't see him playing or hanging out that often anymore. TF and the boy play together still.

The time period for which I have known them as a couple is 8 years and the case came at the beginning of the 8th year. In all that time he never bad mouthed his wife or tried to charm me into making me believe he was a great dad or anything. My impressions were formed from my observations alone. The last 2 years that he lived here, he actually stopped walking over to talk for the most part.

As for me I have no regrets for agreeing to testify other than a few sleepless nights. Even with close friends or family it is almost impossible to know what goes on inside closed doors and it is even more difficult with casual acquaintances. Taking decisions like these affect us more than we think they would.


This Bitter gourd and bilimbi recipe is based on Redchillies Raw Mango Coconut Curry. I followed the exact same recipe, added a couple of medium sized bitter gourds and 12 frozen bilimbis. The curry was creamy and very tasty but on the bitter side. We love bitter gourd so this was not a big problem. RC had suggested using a small bitter gourd but mine had bitter gourd as the main ingredient instead of the sour agent and I increased the quantity of methi(what was I thinking) which too added to the bitterness and the sourness from the bilimbi was not sufficient.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Court Case and Chicken Sausage Rice (Biryani)

Slice of Life:
This incident happened a couple of years ago. My neighbor(a he) called me one morning and asked if I would be a witness in his divorce proceeding. Gulp!

The couple are my neighbors and live right across our house. They moved into the house about a year after we did. We had no kids at that time, they had a boy who a preschooler (he is finishing his middle school now). The man was more the friend than the lady of the house. I like hanging outside in my garden doing stuff and he usually was outside playing with his son. Invariably he would walk over or I would go over and we'd talk. Apart from that,

Every morning I'd see him drive his son to school and bring him back in the evenings. Like every dad or mom does with a 5 year old he panted behind the son's bicycle when the training wheels came off. When the weather was warm the father and son were out doing what every American father and son do - yes! playing catch with a football and most days DD joined in, she is not the one to resist games of any kind. On good days when there is no wind howling and an inch of snow piled on the ground DD played hide and seek or tag and the dad had told me many a times that will he be around and would keep an eye on them freeing me to do stuff. We'd also have long conversations about the state of the world, the difference between politicians in Indian and here and several other topics generally superfluous topics.

If it was lunch time dad and son offered to take DD along to wherever they went for lunch. Most times I have said no but on a few occasions when McD was mentioned I could not keep her back. He once mentioned that he loves chicken curry (don't they all). You know how it works right, once somebody mentions that they like chicken curry I can't resist offering them some. The couple and the son have visited our house for DD's birthday parties. DD has gone over to play in their house.

If you are wondering if I have ever spoken to the lady of the house. I have and the number of times can be easily counted on the fingers in my hand. She generally had a phone attached to her ear every time she stepped out making it impossible to have a conversation. The few times I have spoken to her she has been pleasant and has always been friendly. But very rarely have I seen her play with her son or just hanging out with him. I am not a witness to anything that happened inside their home, DD perhaps would have been a better judge.

She worked in the medical profession and he had a good job in one of the big consulting companies. Apart from mentioning once they had quite a few credit cards all maxed out we rarely spoke about personal stuff. Usually the talk was more about how to keep the deer out and want kind of plants would not be eaten and mostly the happenings in the world. When DH decided he was going to do the fence for the backyard himself, he helped with a few stuff. Overall a helpful and friendly neighbor. Neither DH,me or the kids had much to do with the wife.

So one day during one of those over the fence kind of conversations he mentioned that he was having problems with his wife. I was not sure if I heard it right and moved on to other topic and he mentioned it again a year after that. The phone call about the case came a month or two after. The lady was trying to get sole custody of the son.

Here is the questions for you dear readers who know quite a bit about me from my ramblings. Was was my answer Yes or No? If you were in a similar situation what would your reaction be?

We found these spicy chicken sausages in Costco last week. I was craving Biryani and all I had in hand were the sausages. It turned out quite well.


Chicken Sausage Rice
Serves: 4-6

1. 5 sausage rings cut into bite sized pieces
2. 1 Red Onions sliced thin
3. ginger garlic paste 5 garlic pods and 2 inches ginger
4. 4-5) green chillies (the sausages were spicy so just enough for the rice)
In a food processor chop the ginger,garlic and green chilies
5. 2 juicy tomatoes diced fine
6. 2 cups of mint and coriander leaves chopped
7. 2 cups Basmati rice (Rice:Water 1 : 1 1/2)
8. 1 tsp each of chilly powder, cumin powder and coriander powder
9. 2 tbsp yogurt
10. seasonings, cumin, cinnamon, cloves (3), saunf, bay leaves, curry leaves
11. 2 tsp oil
12. salt to taste

1. In the pressure cooker or a pan which is big enough to hold the rice, pour the oil and ghee and when it is hot add all the seasonings and saute.
2. In a separate pan add about 3 cups of water and bring it to a boil
3. Add the onions and fry till they are brown.
4. Add the ginger, garlic,green chillies mince and fry them well.
5. Add the mint and coriander leaves and saute til the leaves have wilted completed.
6. Add all the powders and mix well.
7. Now add the sausage and saute for about 4-5 minutes, add the yogurt and mix
8. Add the tomatoes and cook till they are soft.
9. Add the basmati rice and mix well till they are coated with the masala.
10. Add water and check if the salt is enough and cook the rice till they are almost done.
11. Close the lid and keep the flame in low medium for 5 minutes. Switch of the stove and remove from the stove. (if it stays on the hot burner the rice is in the bottom will turn brown and stick)


Tasted excellent with some cucumber raita.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mixed Vegetable Kurma and Volunteering

Jump to Recipe >>>

When I first came to America there were a lot of things that dazed me, a few that set my teeth on edge and still does. Among all the myriad stuff that was going on one thing that struck me most was the volunteer spirit of the people. The President urges people to do volunteer and community service, the schools gear students from Middle School on to participate in social service activities and making it a requirement for graduation. From a young age kids see very closely the value of volunteering and giving back to the community.

From the Peace Corps and Habitat For Humanity to the local food banks providing food for the homeless and poor volunteering runs the gamut. The first time I registered DD for a team sport I was surprised that the coach of the team was a volunteer. I start to compare the sorry state of sports in some countries and the nearly flawless system that has been devised to train a large pool of young kids in various sports disciplines here. The use of parents volunteers in schools to augment the effort of the teacher is another aspect that never ceases to amaze.

A couple of colleagues at one of the companies I worked for were volunteer fire fighters who set aside time every week to attend training beside being on call during the weekends. All I could do was admire their selfless commitment.

The local gazette(our local newspapers which is free) has a page devoted to volunteering activities that are in need of volunteers. It was through these pages a few years ago that I came across a volunteer opportunity which fit in with my schedule and expertise! It was reading to elementary aged school kids reading below grade level. Having children in that age group and with experience of reading to them everyday I decided I would be able to handle it. In more ways than one the opportunity gave me back more than I ever expected. The pleasure in the kid's face when she saw me those two days a week and the progress she made during that year was very gratifying. She slowly opened up to her desire to own a puppy and how some days her stomach growled during the day because her mom dropped her late and she could not get breakfast at school. It was hard to hear a kid tell me that she was hungry at school. When given a book to take home and read and she did without fail and from interactions with her she was very bright kid. I thought to myself that all she needed was someone to sit with her and be there for her. I volunteered for a year before my job situation changed where in my team which was part of a non-profit organization got bought by a big giant of a company and my schedule changed drastically and could not accommodate the volunteering activity.

It took couple more years before I could get back into volunteering. The one I am involved with now is teaching basic literacy to an adult student. Before becoming a volunteer tutor, training was mandatory for which you had to pay out of pocket. Though not a huge amount, the number of people who willingly paid to get trained to volunteer their time was one I did not expect.

Cauvery River

I will be getting back to the topic in a minute so bear with me.

Cauvery river has always been a big part of my childhood. Besides being a major source of water for irrigation for the farmers in the Kongu Nadu region it was intertwined with the regions prospects and bringing joy and sorrow in no small amount. As children we splashed and dipped to our heart's content in its glorious waters and admired it meandearing through the country side. This was about 25 years ago(Note to self: has it been really that long?) to now where kids are advised not to get into the water because it has become so polluted to the extent where numerous skin ailments are common from coming in contact with the water. I have always wondered if there was something that could be done.

Potomac River

So on hearing about the Alice Ferguson Foundation that organizes a Potomac watershed cleanup every year was excited and thought of it as an opportunity to do something about another river in a place I now call home. The tons of trash they collect is truly staggering. I marked my calendar to participate in the cleanup this year but something even closer to home beckoned

The pond and creek near my neighborhood whose runoff eventually reaches the Potomac river, desperately needed a cleanup. Every time we walked past the pond and creek I was struck with a feeling of guilt seeing the trash floating around near the ducks, crane and turtles that lived there. It seemed a big task for just a couple of people but not that big if the whole neighborhood participated. So set a date to do the cleanup and sent an email to the neighborhood list. The response though not overwhelming was not meagre either.


Many of you had asked how we happened to have the camera when the fire broke out in the park land. As we were walking up to take the pictures of the pond before cleanup was when we saw the fire. We cleaned for a little over 2 hours and collected 15 big trash bags. The time allotted was 1 1/2 hours but many of us kept going till it was well past that time. We have a followup set for another day. Here again was an volunteering opportunity that gave immense satisfaction for all who participated.

Here is a the link to the Slide Show.

Do you Volunteer? Would you like to share your experience?


I made this Kurma for a pot luck gathering and it turned out good. When made in large quantities even the well practised recipe sometimes disappoints but this one was an exception. The trick is to make 2 pastes instead of the 1 mixed paste I usually make

Serves : 4
Mixed Vegetable Kurma
1. 2 Cups Chopped Vegetables (Green Beans, Carrots, Potatoes, Peas)
2. 1/2 Red onion chopped
3. 2 Tomatoes chopped
4. seasonings: cumin, fennel seeds and curry leaves
5. a few coriander leaves for garnish

Paste 1
1. 1/2 medium red onion or 15 small onions
2. 3-4 garlic cloves
3. 2 tsp fennel seeds, 4 cloves, a small cinnamon stick
4. 6 green chilies
5. 2 handful coriander leaves

In a drop of oil saute the dry spices, set aside. Add the onion,garlic and saute till translucent. saute the chilies and coriander leaves for half a minute.
Blend to a paste

Paste 2
1. 1/2 tbsp of poppy seeds soaked in water
2. 2 tbsp coconut

Blend the above to a paste and set aside

1. In a pan heat oil and add the seasonings and saute the onion till translucent
2. Now add the vegetables and saute for a few seconds
3. Add the chopped tomatoes about half a cup of water and cover the lid and let it
cook till the vegetables are almost cooked.
4. Now add Paste 1 mix well and cook for about 5-6 minutes, add salt and let it boil for a couple of minutes more.
5. Now lower the heat add Paste 2, mix well and let it be in the heat for a couple of minutes.
6. You will see bubbles on the surface. Now turn off the heat and let it rest for about 1/2 hour. Mix well garish with coriander leaves

Tastes even better the next day.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Brush Fire

Last week the weather was good and the kids were out riding their bikes racing ahead of us.


As were walking we saw DD and her friend race towards us all worked up about a truck and couple of guys causing problems just as we noticed a plume of smoke arising from the woods close by our neighborhood. We raced ahead to see what was going on.


The brush around the pond we visit often to see the ducks and their little ones was on fire.


The brush was bone dry and the fire was spreading fast. The folks on the trucks were our neighbors and had driven there to take a closer look.


They informed us that the fire trucks were on the way. This was the first time that I have seen how a firecrew works from very close quarters.



It also gave an appreciation of how difficult a task it is to battle forest fires. It took a couple of hours for the fire to be put out completely.


The kids though transfixed were anxious when the fire got a bit further and the fire fighters ran out of water and had to get to a fire hydrant close by.


We were relieved when it was finally brought under control.


It was scary for a while there because there were homes just a few hundred feet from the fire.


We thanked the volunteer fire fighters and that brings me to the next post - Volunteering.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pasta with Falafel balls in tomato sauce

It is spring break week for the kids around here. Barring a couple of days the weather has been very favorable for outdoor play. But where have all the kids gone? This thought has been ringing in my head all week. The favorite pass time of riding bikes is no more a favorite pass time it seems. I bet if most parents are like me while appreciating having little ones and not so little ones saute, flip, peel and cut and help in the kitchen and around the house there comes a time when they would truly want them out of their hair and away from the TV and the video games. It used to be easy and just stepping out of the house opened up a whole host of possibilities. Not so easy anymore.

You have to pick up the phone, fix an appointment before the kids can go off to play. Pray to God that the parents(mom) of the kids yours want to play with are not weird or difficult. I have been lucky that most moms I deal with are reasonable. There are also some that I generally keep my peace for DDs's sakes. There are some I regret not having a good realtion with because DD misses playing with her friend.

For some reason going outside does not come naturally for kids of this generation. Unlike us who had nothing of interest inside the house, TV and other electronic gadgets can take hours of their time. Once nudged outside the captivation is complete they seem to spend hours doing stuff. Lucky for DD she has a friend in our neighborhood and they visit and call on each other at the drop of a hat. DD2 unfortunately does not have kids of her age to play with and tags along with DD and her friends. DD has another good friend who lives about a mile and quarter away translating to requires a parent to drop off and pick up. Sometimes they have to forego playing because the adults are busy. The kids are old enough now to take bike rides to each others house without a chaperon. The maiden bike journey was done over the spring break. It was decided the kids would leave the house around the same time, meetup and then ride down to one of the houses.

This reminds me, when I was DDs age, I offered to give a lift to my visiting friend on a bike. We were fine but for the small mishap where I almost got both of us under a bus. It was a different time and both our parents did not find the need to give us instructions about traffic, strangers and what not. Well anyway I could not be as irresponsible as my parents were can I ;) We had the usualy talk about traffic rules, not talking to strangers and screaming at the top of the lungs along with kicking and biting. For extra precaution they carried a cell phone(DH put his foot down on that). They made the trip and the pride and happiness was visible for everyone to see. It must be obvious from my talking about it, how this simple childhood activity has become a big deal.

I am relieved that I have one less chaperoning job on my hands. I only wish it was not this hard. When I was a kid I loved my parents and all but I also wanted my space away from their probing eyes and do things that would not be kosher in their eyes. As a parent I am going to give my 2 cents unasked if they are hanging out around me all the time. It is not healthy for them and neither for me.

Interacting with other human beings other than the household members is also essential for their growth as is communing with nature and the environs they live in. There is also sobering research that states that kids of this generation will hesitate to try anything new. There are raised risk averse to an extent even natural childhood curiosity is suppressed.

As a parent it is getting to me, being vigilant 24 hours and worrying about hidden dangers in every corner is only making going to make me paranoid. But it takes a big effort on my part to just chill and let them be.

The most happy memories from my childhood are those spent roaming around farms, fields and the river with little or no supervision. There are lot of games and play that would not have been permitted if adults were hanging around all the time. With a towel and a bucket of water we were by the creek fishing, left to my grandfather that would have been a firm no because the creek was of course a bit dirty. We knew which tree had the tastiest mangoes and which crop was sown during which season. We also helped ourselves to a swim in a well the owner of which did not want messing around in her well. I bet everyone remembers the first tiny pot of rice they cooked up on three stones with heat from burning twigs. I do and that was easily the tastiest morsel of rice ever cooked.

Having open land is a privilege and everyone does not have access to one but letting kids play in open spaces and let them explore and dig and build should be a conscious decision. In one generation we have made things so difficult for ourselves and the kids suffer for it.

On the other hand kids are more attuned to what is going on around them than any generation with the very same electronics that keeps them enslaved for hours. It was on DDs insistence that we observed the Earth Hour. Cooking by candle light was no easy feat. Appreciation of nature essential for the survival of the planet?

Now to the recipe,
I have always been fascinated by spaghetti and meatballs. Lot of people have mentioned that it is easily their childhood favorite. It looked and I bet tasted very good I had to avoid eating it because the meatballs were made of pork or beef the meats I do not eat. A friend once made meatballs with ground chicken and turkey and they were excellent. The ideas of spaghetti and meat balls with both carbs and protein sounds better than just spahagetti with tomato sauce. I had just the right ingredient on hand for such a sauce, the premade falafel balls the same ones that were used for the Quick Kofta. For the sauce I followed the marinara recipe which keeps getting better and better with every attempt.


Serves: 4

Falafel balls in tomato sauce
1. 2 Cans whole Tomatoes in juice
2. 1 Red Onion chopped fine
3. 5-6 garlic cloves chopped fine
4. 2-3 tsp chili powder
5. kosher salt to taste
6. 1/4 cup Red wine (I used merlot)
7. 3/4 tbsp canola oil (Use olive oil if preferred)
8. 8-10 readymade falafel balls

1. Drain the tomatoes and reserve the juice
2. Squeeze the drained tomatoes and set aside
3. In a wide pan add oil and when hot add the onions and saute on medium low heat till they start to turn brown
4. Add the garlic and saute for a few seconds, do not let them brown.
5. Now add the tomato solids and let them saute till they start sticking to the bottom and turning brown
6. Now add the wine and let it simmer for a few minutes
7. Add the tomato juice and simmer for 10 minutes or so.
8. Preheat the falafel balls and add them along with the chili powder and salt. Let it simmer for a minute or two.
9. Add Coooked pasta and toss, let sit in the heat for a few minutes. Turn off the heat, mix and serve with paramesan cheese.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Swiss Chard and Black Bean Empanada

What are Whole Grains?
I wanted to get it clear in my head about what were whole grains and what were not. For a long time I was under the impression that eating white rice meant eating whole grain. I was wrong. Whole grains are grains that are in their naturally occurring form. Brown rice is whole grain whereas white rice that has lost its bran and has been processed and polished would not be a whole grain.

I set about making a list of whole grains that are in our pantry. Some are staples and some that are used occasionally.
1. Brown Rice
2. Corn (usually used for making popcorn)
3. Stone ground Whole Wheat Flour
4. Steel Cut Oats
5. Pearl Millet
6. Finger Millet
7. Sorghum

Most of these grains can be cooked just like rice and used in place of rice. But our taste buds being accustomed to eating white rice protest. So the next best alternative is to soak and grind them and make dosai and most often they are so much more tastier than the dosais made with white rice. The other good thing is most often the batter does not require fermentation and they do not digest very quickly keeping you full longer.

Brown Rice lends itself nicely to fried rice or dal rice. I still would not use brown rice for eating with sambhar though.

I have not made dosai with whole corn and it is on the to try list. I have used grits and this can be whole grain or not depending on whether hulled corn or the whole kernel was used. In general beware of any final product that is white in color, be it flour or grits.

As for stone ground whole wheat flour with the bran is my favored flour for making rotis, parathas and chapatis.

Isn't it surprising that I tasted empanadas for the very first time when I made them at home last week. I first cast caught a glimpse of them on them on a vendor cart in DC about a decade and half ago and was bitten with the urge to taste it, with its strong resemblance to samosas who wouldn't be. With visions of tasty filling covered with pastry I approached the vendor and asked him for chicken or vegetarian version but as luck would have it all that was available were the beef filled ones which for some strange reason I do not eat. The filling was never the right kind for me or every other occasion I had a chance to buy them. After a while I stopped trying.

A few weeks ago on I caught an episode Healthy Flavors "Latino Inspiration for Health" on PBS where chef Jim Coleman was cooking healthy Swiss Chard and Kale empanadas. The craving to taste empanadas hit again. The very same week I found a vegan recipe for banana and black bean empanadas in the Vegetarian Times magazine I was browsing at the library. Too many signals to put off giving empananda a try. But bananas and bean did not sound right to me so I settled on Swiss Chard and Black Bean Emapandas.


Submitted to MLLA event started by Susan and the tenth edition hosted by Coco Cooks.

Recipe Source: Vegetarian Times Magazine, March 2009 issue
Makes: 15 Large Empanadas

Swiss Chard and Black Bean Empanadas
For the Dough:
1. 2 Cups of Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour (sifted to remove the bran)
2. 1 1/4 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
3. 1 1/2 tsp salt
4. 1 tsp chili powder
5. 1/2 cup Unsweetened Apple Sauce
6. 4 tbsp cold butter
7. 1/2 cup cold water

1. Cut the butter to small pieces and add to the flour, salt and chili powder, and break the butter into the flour with the tip of the finger so it resembles a crumbled mixture.
2. Whisk together the apple sauce and water and add to the flour till it forms a dough.
3. Cover with a cling wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

1. 1 bunch Swiss Chard washed and cut into strips, cut the stem into small pieces
2. 1 1/2 Cups Black beans soaked overnight and cooked till soft
3. 1/2 red onion chopped
4. 4 cloves of garlic chopped fine
5. 2 tsp coriander powder
6. 2 tsp chili powder
7. 1/2 tsp cumin powder
8. 1 tsp oil
9. salt to taste
10. Egg Wash (optional)

1. Heat oil and saute the onions and garlic till soft.
2. Add the chopped Swiss chard leaves and saute for a few minutes
3. Add the powders and salt and mix
4. Now add the black beans with a tbsp of water and cover and cook till the chard leaves are soft and cooked. (about 10 minutes)
5. Open the lid and let the mixture cook till it is dry.
6. 4tbsp Grated Pepper jack cheese (as much or as little as you want)

1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.
2. Divide the dough into 5-6 portions.
3. On a slightly floured surface roll each portion of the dough and cut them into 6 inch rounds and about 1/2-3/4 inch thick.
4. Place the filling in the middle, sprinkle a bit of cheese and fold them over to form a half moon. Crimp the edges. Place them on the baking sheet. Make a small cut for air venting on top. Brush with egg wash.
5. Preheat the oven to 400F and set the baking sheet inside, lower the temp to 350F and bake for 25 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and cool for about 5 minutes.

Serve with salsa or sour cream or chili garlic sauce.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

No Ferment Oats 'N Grits Dosai (Indian style spicy crepes)

I am reading and watching with sadness the slow disappearance of printed editions of newspapers. From when I can remember, mornings always started with reading the newspaper and a cup of hot beverage. I am not looking forward to a the time when there will be no newspapers but an audio device which will start reading the news to you as you go about your morning business. Rushing out to get the newspaper in the morning is a loved ritual it seems in our house, DD usually brings it in to get her dose of the newspaper with the Kids Post and cartoons. To not miss out on the fun DD2 got up early a few days ago and wanted to bring the paper in. She put on her jacket, shoes and opened the door, she was doing fine till the alarm went off. Being the early morning hours the other members could not immediately rush to her aid. Well anyway once the din subsided she was proud to bring the newspaper inside. A simple acitivity like sitting near a well lit window and reading the newspaper brings immense pleasure that reading on the computer can never bring, though I must admit I get most of the news this way.

Newspapers have to take much of the blame, being slow to catch up with technology and are now paying the price. Unlike reading from a newspaper getting news online is a different experience clicking and moving away before reading in depth. I also realize I am getting lazy and actually prefer listening more than reading. This gives me the ability to multitask while I am getting my news fix. Audio version of newspapers anyone?

The Polling
Want to thank the poll participants for indulging me. I know that recipes are the main attraction of the blog and if I had any ideas of moving on to solely other topics I shelf the thought for now.

I picked up a box of steel cut oats and a box of of grits(coarsely ground corn/maize) during a visit to the grocery store after I watched a show on TV. Steel cut oats are less processed and are in kernel form than their rolled oats counterpart. The one thing I failed to notice in all the enthusiasm is the time taken to cook the steel cut oats. They have to be cooked for half an hour and soaking overnight might be required and this was a big ask for morning breakfast which is the time we usually eat oats. The problem with the grits on the other hand was none of us were overly taken by it other than DH who went to school in the South(LA) and grits brings him happy memories I guess. So both sat in the pantry till I saw this on Kay's LiveLoveWorkout and a bulb went off. If all else fails make dosai is the mantra but I forgot it and had to be reminded. She had used whole wheat flour I used grits and also added a portion of urad dal. I tried the dosai by adding whole ragi(finger millet). Adding ragi gave the dosai a distinct color whereas with the oats and grits there was very little difference from the regular rice dosai. But best of all no fermentation is required. Make the dosai right from the grinder/blender.


Linda was to give this recipe a try and let me know how easy it is compared to the conventional dosai. By the way did you read her beautiful review of an equally beautiful book?


Recipe Idea: Soaked Oats Dosa

No Ferment Oats 'N Grits Dosai
1. 2 cups steel cut oats (1 cup steel cut oats + 1 cup whole ragi)
2. 1 cup grits
3. 1/4 cup urad dal
4. 2 tsp cumin
5. a small piece asfoetida
6. 2 -3 dried red chilies
7. a few pepper corns
8. 1/2 onion chopped (optional)
9. a few curry leaves (optional)
10. Salt to taste

1. Soak 1,2,3 over night.
2. In a blender/grinder add the soaked oats,grits and dal and begin to blend
3. Mid way add the rest of the ingredients and blend to a fairly smooth texture.
4. The consistency should be loose but not watery.
5. Towards the end add salt.
6. Heat a griddle or dosai pan and pour a laddle of the batter and starting from the center using circular motion spread it around in a circular shape.
7. Add a few drops of oil on the side
8. Flip and cook for a few more minutes.

Serve with idli podi or chutney or sambhar.