Happy Independence Day!! India celebrates its 63rd Independence Day today. The last one week I have been in Independence mode, changing my profile pic on facebook to that of the Indian flag, posting patriotic videos, missing India so much and feeling so proud of my fighter pilot dad and Naval Aviator bro (the last not restricted to just last week).
My dad recently was involved in some rescue operations in the flash flood struck Ladakh region and he was there saving the lives of people. I was scared for his safety (can’t imagine what my mom must be going through) but I was really proud of him. I am sure my mother has a tough time being totally cool with the danger involved in both my dad’s and brother’s profession, especially considering the history. Both, my father and brother, have had to eject when their planes crashed, in totally separate incidents. Fortunately, the crashes were not fatal and both have now fully recovered to fly again. But, many of my father and brother’s friends haven’t been so lucky.
Every year, probably Independence Day and Republic Day are the two days when India’s martyrs are remembered and even on such days, people, who have served the country and lost their lives due to reasons other than war- while training or on day to day duty, are not remembered by anyone besides the deceased’s family. People forget even these people have lost their lives fighting for our safety, though not directly. And, why should we only remember those who have lost their lives. Even the ones who are alive (touchwood) and serving our country should be thought of- everyday they risk their lives, irrespective of war or peace. And, when I talk about those who serve our country, I include the police and the coast guards, besides air force, navy and the army.
The Indian media jumps at every opportunity to bad mouth India’s armed forces. I wish they would devote some time to sensitize people to the above issues as well. And, even though I respect the Army a lot, I wish the media would also highlight how our other forces are helping the people of our country. Just a while ago, I saw a comment by someone on a post paying tribute to the Indian Navy, saying that she liked the Army more, because they are doing so much in Ladakh. I know the Army plays a huge role in most rescue operations, but I think its unfair how the Air Force and the Navy, or even the coast guards always get sidelined in such operations. Indian war movies are all about how the Army won the war, completely disregarding the part of the other two services. I blame the media, mostly, for the ignorance of the general public to the rest of the services. Probably, since its Independence Day, I am more touchy than usual about these topics. But, I really wish people had more insight on the sacrifices all these brave men/women in uniform make everyday.
Anyways, leaving the heavy stuff aside, since, I am in the whole Independence Day mood, I want to talk more about my country, India. One thing that makes me really proud of being an Indian is its culture and rich food. Over the years, India has been ruled by many-more prominently the Mughals, Portuguese and the British. The influence of these three cultures can now be seen in the way we dress, the language we speak and the food that we eat. Goa, in western India, is heavily dominated by Portuguese culture- the Balchao and Vindaloo curry a direct result of the 400 odd years of Portuguese rule. Lucknow, a city in Uttar Pradesh, is known for the rich Mughlai food it offers. I remember how, in hostel, we girls, would attack the Tunde ke kebabs and sheermal my friend G would bring from her hometown Lucknow. The British left us with the English language- thanks to which we have been able to conquer the outsourcing world, and many Indians can now enjoy the benefits of consumerism.
I belong to Punjab, a state in North India. If one thing Punjabis/Sikhs are famous for – its their love for food. And, needless to say, I am a true Punjabi. We are the land of butter chicken, paranthas, Dal Makhani, kheer, gur (jaggery), Tandoori Chicken, sarson da saag , makki di roti…I could go on and on, but if I continue, soon I’ll be drooling all over the laptop- and I can’t afford to lose my laptop again.
Since we on the topic of Punjabi food, recently, while buying groceries, V stumbled upon mooli (Chinese radish).
V looked at me, all excited-’Baby! mooli!’.
Now, I am not a big fan of radish as a salad. I find the taste very pungent.
I frowned- ‘But, baby, I don’t like mooli‘.
(Notice the use of ‘baby’ in our conversation–I have learnt even harsh remarks can be masked as nice if one uses the term baby. It’s a powerful tool in a marriage- this word baby. It’s like the married couple way of tackling the group discussion situation where you interrupt another person with your point of view, and trying not to be rude say- I agree with you, but I think….blah blah.)
So, both of us were standing there, staring at each other, trying to figure out what to do. Now, some wise man/woman said long ago that marriage is all about compromise. V and I, a 5 month old married couple, decided to heed to the advice and compromised. We bought the mooli and I decided instead of having it as salad, I will make mooli paranthas (a stuffed Indian flatbread with radish as the stuffing). Something, that is part of my Punjabi culture.
Now radish might not be something I like, and for a long time anything made from radish was always looked down upon. Paranthas, for me, were always stuffed with either potatoes or cauliflower or made with leftover lentils. Only very recently, a little before I got married, did I warm up to mooli paranthas. And, realised they are actually pretty nice. Today, was the first time I tried making one.
Many people, when making stuffed paranthas, roll out the dough, put the filling, and close the opening and roll out the dough flat. But, in my house, for mooli parantha, two dough balls are rolled out into a circle. Then, one of the rolled circle is taken, the filling is spread on it, and on top, the other rolled out circle is put. Using the fingers, the edges are pressed together so that no filling oozes out. I have no idea why this parantha is made this way and not like how we make the other paranthas. (note to myself: ask Mama!) But, this is how I have seen it at home and this is exactly how I want the tradition to carry on in my home.
A thing to remember about radish, though- once grated, it leaves a lot of water. So, initially, in the first step, remember to put only 1/4th of the mentioned amount for each spice- because you will lose most of it when you squeeze the water out of the radish.
makes 5 parnthas
(The amount of spice mentioned is an approximation. Feel free to reduce or increase, according to your liking)
1 radish, peeled and grated ( after grating I had about 3 cups of radish)
Salt, to taste
2 tsp cumin powder
3 green chillies, finely chopped
2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp coriander powder
3 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
(Note: I also added a bit of stuffed parantha masala, but its not necessary. I had it in my pantry and want to use it before it expires)
For the dough
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup lukewarm water ( you can also use milk, I used water)
Salt, to taste
2 tsp melted ghee/oil
Mix the grated radish with only a part of the mentioned amount for the spices (see note in introduction).
Leave for 15-20 minutes.
The radish, generally, leaves a lot of water and if the water is not squeezed out, the resulting paranthas will turn out very soggy. Try to squeeze as much water as you can. (The picture below just shows 1/4th of the water I squeezed out in totality. So, do remember to squeeze well before filling)
Once squeezed, add the leftover amount of the spices.
You can also add a bit of the whole wheat flour to ensure that the filling is absolutely dry. I did not do this, and I had no problems of sogginess.
For the dough:
In a large bowl, knead together the flour, water, salt and ghee. Once kneaded to a soft ball, let rest for 30 minutes under a wet dish towel.
Once rested, make equal sized balls. Make an even number of dough balls, because for each parantha you need two rolled out balls. Roll the dough balls into a circle.
Spread the filling all across the rolled out circle.
Put the other rolled out circle on top. Press the edges together with your hand. Make sure the edges are all tightly pressed, else the filling will ooze out while cooking the parantha.
Heat a flat pan on medium heat. Once hot, put the rolled out parantha. After a couple of minutes, flip it. Put ghee or oil on top of the parantha and flip again. Press with a spatula so that the flipped side turns golden brown. Repeat the same for the other side.
Serve hot with yogurt, butter and/or pickle or like how I did it, with some mint chutney (recipe follows).
V after taking the first bite of the mooli parantha (with a twinkle in his eyes): Super! I am having these after ages!!! Thank you!