A light and easy to prepare vegan Indian dish (varan) made of split pigeon peas/toovar dal from the Indian state of Maharashtra.
The days leading up to my dad’s retirement were full of farewell dinners hosted by many of my dad’s friends and colleagues. Each day my parents had a dinner engagement either at somebody’s house or the Mess and to a few of these dinners I, too, was invited. In that one month of dining out almost everyday, we tasted a variety of menus, ranging from a cheese and wine dinner to Kashmiri food to traditional Maharashtrian fare. I don’t think I have ever eaten so much, and of course the weighing scale made sure I never forgot it either. But then, I got to taste so many different things- some new, some old, some good, some very good. In the end it was all worth it.
As mentioned before, at one of the dinners we were served traditional Maharashtrian cuisine. It was all beautifully served, pre-plated in a Thali, a total of close to 15 dishes, each prepared by our very gracious hostess. My mom particularly loved the dal and the kadhi and asked for both the recipes, which the hostess was kind enough to share. While certain Indian dishes have been made more popular worldwide, there are a lot of Indian dishes that are unknown to most people and what you see being served in restaurants abroad are mostly North indian favorites. So, I hope you enjoy this recipe that I am sharing with you today, which comes from the western state of Maharashtra, home to India’s financial capital, Mumbai and to the famous Bollywood industry. Read More →
All over US , people celebrate July 4th as Independence Day, but in our family it is celebrated as my dad’s birthday. And 18 years back for that very occasion I baked my first cake.
I was in 7th-8th grade then. We had just moved houses in Jodhpur, and two of my friends had come for a sleepover. After my parents had gone off to sleep, we girls decided that it would be a great idea to bake a cake for my dad. Of course, none of us had baked one before. Since we wanted it to be a surprise for both my parents, we decided not to ask for my mom’s help and were confident that we will manage. I had seen my mom bake a countless times before, but that was the only experience I had. I was not much of a kitchen person growing up. I was a bit of feminist and thought if my brother isn’t cooking I do not need to as well. But, I knew where her recipe book was and we took out one of the cake recipes I knew she used quite frequently.
Having hardly ever entered the kitchen for anything, I had no clue where she had kept most of the ingredients and had no luck finding the all purpose flour. I did find the can with whole wheat flour, and thought I will just bake the whole cake with whole wheat flour (those days whole wheat flour cakes weren’t a thing). We ended up with a pretty dense cake, thanks to the whole wheat flour. The taste wasn’t anything like what mom made. To amend our error we decided to frost it a lot. The frosting surprisingly saved the cake a bit. My dad did not mind it at all and my mom thought it was a very sweet gesture. In fact, today when I asked her if she remembered the cake, she said as far as she remembers it came out quite well and the frosting was really nice. She particularly remembered the frosting. So do I.
Somehow life made a full circle yesterday. 18 years back when I made my first cake on dad’s birthday, I had a dense, dry cake which to some extent the frosting saved. Yesterday I made a Black Forest cake (specially requested by my dad) that I have made a few times before with excellent results, but ended up screwing it up for my dad. As a result, I again served a dense, dry cake to my dad for his birthday which surprisingly was saved only because of the frosting. I did figure out what went wrong- I had oven issues, and an error on my part to blame, but lessons learnt nonetheless.
People still went for seconds, but having baked it before and having it not failed me any of those times, I was a little disappointed that the screw up happened with my dad’s birthday cake.
No matter how it tasted, my dad loved that I made him a cake. And I know for him its the thought that counts. And I know he is reading this post (he reads all my posts), so I just want to tell him that I love him. Yes, there are times when he doesn’t understand me and times when I don’t understand him, and its ok because I know there is no other man who can love me the way he does. And I am so glad that I have him as a father- his personality, efficiency in work, knowledge, sensitivity to my mother’s needs, thoughtfulness has shaped me and my brother to what we are today. And for that both my brother and I will always be grateful.
We also have been spoilt a lot by my father. Every wish of ours has always been his command. We just have to utter the words and he tries his best to make sure that our work is done. And that’s why we have named him Super Papa. You want something done, you ask Papa. Yep, spoilt we are.
And now he is retiring. He turned 60 yesterday. And in a month he retires from the Indian Air Force. He has had a wonderful tenure (touch wood) and deserved every bit of success that has come his way. He worked hard, so that we could enjoy. With the help of my mom, he has made sure we had the best years growing up, and now I hope we can fill the the next chapter of his life with as much joy as he has been filling ours.
And while we celebrated my dad’s birthday, I hope you all had a happy and fun 4th of July!
And, if you are looking for some holiday food inspiration, head on over to Raise.com (a platform to buy and sell gift cards) where they are featuring some of their favorite festive 4th of July recipes. I was contacted by Raise.com to participate in their July 4 Fun campaign.
When I was in Allahabad during my last trip to India, the cook at my parents place would make these vegetarian kebabs for us to snack on with drinks. Good times, I tell ya! Since I could not get the cook back with me to the US of A, I asked my parents’ cook to give me the recipe.
Now most of us don’t measure when we cook, so the cook gave me an approximation of the recipe. First time I tried it, I had to make quite a few changes to the recipe to get the right consistency to be able to stick together. I made them for the new year’s party at our house and they were a big hit. Luckily I had noted the changes, so it was perfect the next time I made them.
You could deep fry these, like I chose to for the party, or you could bake them basted with a little oil as well. Of course the deep fried version are always tastier, but the baked version is almost equally good as well.