April 23, 2014

Punjab -- Makki di Roti & Sarson ka Saag

Blogging Marathon# 39 - Indian States: Day 23
State: Punjab
Dish: Makki di Roti & Sarson ka Saag
We are going all the way northwest of India to Punjab today. Punjab means five (punj) and ab (water), thus the land of five rivers. It has the most fertile land. Agriculture is the largest industry in Punjab and it is the single largest producer of wheat in India.
I lived in Punjab the first few months of my life -- so naturally I don't remember anything. My mom went to Chandigarh (Captial of Punjab and Haryana) as a young bride and lived there for couple of years. She said the Punjabi neighbors there were very friendly and used to share homemade food with her. I asked her if she remembers any dishes or recipes, but she couldn't recollect any specifics (understandably so since it has been 30+ years). But she does remember the hearty sarson ka saag and makki di roti that the neighbor used to send over.
Punjabi dishes are probably the most famous Indian dishes all over the world with every Indian restaurant across the globe serving Naan, Mutter-Paneer and Lassi. Punjabi cuisine, however varies significantly between home cooked, restaurant style or the dhabas (roadside restaurants in India serving authentic Punjabi food). Punjabi cuisine is wholesome and is full of rustic flavors. Homemade ghee and masalas (spices) form the center of Punjabi dishes.
Today Dish(es): I decided to make this hearty, homey and very popular Punjabi dishes: Makki di roti & Sarson ka Saag. Makki di roti is made gluten free corn flour and it takes quite a bit of practice to get them right. This is my first attempt making them and might I say, it wasn't easy and there was a lot of stomach grumbling and mumbling from the rest of family for the delay in serving lunch. After struggling for some time, I was able to make a few good enough for the pictures, the rest were just eaten -- ahem without looking at the shape -- 'cos they were too hungry.
Hearty Punjabi Meal

April 22, 2014

Pondicherry -- Pori Kuzhambu or Pathiya Kuzhambu

Blogging Marathon# 39 - Indian States: Day 22
State: Pondicherry
Dish: Pori Kuzhambu or Pathiya Kuzhambu
Today, we are going south to Puducherry, formerly known as Pondicherry, is a Union territory in India. The French acquired Pondicherry in 1674 and held control, with occasional interruption from the Britsih and Dutch, until 1954, when it was incorporated into the Indian Union along with the rest of India.
I have a long association with Pondicherry, not directly but indirectly. I went to Aurobindo school in Hyderabad which was founded based on the principles and teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Pondicherry was the residence of Sri Aurobindo and Aurobindo ashram located there. My dad would never let me go with my school friends to Pondicherry on the yearly school excursions. But he took us all there when we went on our tour of south India.
Today's Dish: I initially wanted to make a French inspired recipe from Pondicherry and even narrowed down to a stuffed peppers with a fancy French name called Poivrons Farcis, but had to change it to this simple eggplant based rasam kind of dish. I was browsing through Cham's blog Spice Club, knowing fully well that she is the native of Pondicherry. When I found this simple rasam like dish, I made this the same dau for a simple lunch.

April 21, 2014

Orissa -- Mitha Khechudi & Mitha Dali

Blogging Marathon# 39 - Indian States: Day 21
State: Orissa
Dish: Mitha Khechudi & Mitha Dali (Sweet Khichdi with Sweet Dal)
Today we are going to Odisha, formerly known as Orissa, located in the east coast of India. Orissa shares a border with Andhra Pradesh, but I never had a chance to visit it. My dad went there for work years ago and brought back a souvenir from Konark Sun Temple. I've seen his pictures at Puri Jagannath temple and Bhubaneshwar. That's the most I knew about Orissa.
Cuisine: Odisha has culinary tradition spanning centuries. I was really surprised to read that rasgulla actually originated from Odisha, I always thought it was from Bengal. Also Kheer or rice pudding, that is relished all over India, also originated in Puri 2000 years ago.
Oriya cuisine is rich and varied and relies heavily on local ingredients. The flavors are usually subtle and lightly spiced, unlike the fiery curries typically associated with Indian cuisine. Only 6% of the population of Odisha is vegetarian. Oriyas are very fond of sweets and no Oriya meal is complete without the dessert course at the end.
Specialties: Dali, Dalma, Khechedi, Mittha Dali, Pakhala, Chena Poda, Dahi Bara, Kalakand etc.

Today's Dish(es): After reading about the Oriya cuisine, I initially planned on making a dessert. But after making quite a few desserts for the marathon, I decided against it. I wanted to make something simple, yet traditional and authentic to Orissa. So after a lot of searching, I found this Oriya blog, Turmeric Kitchen, by Jagruthi. She has a ton of traditional dishes and I picked two that were simple and easy to make.
Orissa: Mitha Khechudi

April 20, 2014

Nagaland -- Betang Meh (Kidney Beans with mustard greens & ginger)

Blogging Marathon# 39 - Indian States: Day 20
State: Nagaland
Dish: Betang Meh (Kidney Beans with mustard greens & ginger)
Fourth North eastern sate in a row, today we are going to Nagaland. Nagaland is one of the smallest states in India. Nagaland is largely mountainous state. There are 16 main tribes in Nagaland and each tribe has its own unique language, customs and cooking styles.
Naga cuisine features meats and fish, which are often smoked, dried or fermented. A typical Naga table consists of a meat dish, a boiled vegetable dish or two, rice and a chutney. Some common dishes are 'fermented bamboo shoot' with fish and pork. Naga food tends to be spicy beacuse of the use of different varieties of chilies.

Today's Dish: Like the other North Eastern states, finding vegetarian dishes was extremely difficult even for Nagaland. Lot of emails were exchanged within our BM group and a link to a Naga facebook page was found by one lucky member. It was like jackpot and I picked one dish from there.
Nagaland -- Betang Meh (Kidney Beans with mustard greens & ginger)

April 19, 2014

Mizoram -- Chhum Han (Steamed Mixed Vegetables)

Blogging Marathon# 39 - Indian States: Day 19
State: Mizoram
Dish: Chhum Han (Steamed Mixed Vegetables)
We are onto the 5th North eastern state that is one of the Seven sister states of the North Eastern India (Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya being the other four that I explored already). Mizoram, literally means 'land of hill people'. It is a land of rolling hills, valleys, rivers and lakes. Majority of Mizoram's population consists of several ethnic tribes who are either culturally or linguistically linked. These ethnic groups are collectively known as Mizos.
Cuisine: The cuisie of Mizoram differs from that of most of India, though it shares characteristics to other regions of North East India and North India. Rice is the staple food of Mizoram and the Mizos love to add non-vegetarian ingredients in every dish. Fish, chicken, pork and duck are popular meats among Mizos. Most of the dishes are cooked in mustard oil. Meals tend to be less spicy than in most of India.
Mizoram -- Chhum Han (Steamed Mixed Vegetables)Today's Dish: With only limited vegetarian dishes in the Mizoram cuisine, I got really excited when I saw the mention of this steamed/ boiled veggie dish. It is called Chhum han and a little Google search brought me to this boiled fish dish. So I made the veggie dish based on that recipe.

April 18, 2014

Cheela (Vegan Omelette) & Vegetable Upma

It is Spring break time for my son this week and making interesting meals for him has been a challenge for me. So I referred to the cookbook 'India: The Cookbook' by Pushpesh Pant and found this quick and easy Cheelas. I've always wanted to make these vegan omelettes, but never got around to make them. My son really liked them and gobbled up a couple with some ketchup. They taste the best when served hot out of the pan.
Cheela -- Vegan Omelette

Meghalaya -- Vegetarian Jadoh (with Tofu)

Blogging Marathon# 39 - Indian States: Day 18
State: Meghalaya
Dish: Jadoh
We move onto the next North eastern state of Meghalaya today. The name means 'the abode of clouds' in Sanskrit. Just the name makes me think of beautiful sky kissing moutains and luscious greenery and breathtaking landscapes. Coming back to reality, about one-third of the state is forested and the forests are notable for biodiversity of mammals, birds and plants. It was previously part of Assam, but formed a new state in 1972.
Tribal people make up the majority of Meghalaya's population. The Khasis are the largest group, followed by the Garos and the Jaintias. Meghalaya is one of the 3 states in India to have Christian majority with 70.3% of the population practising Christianity (other 2 being Mizoram and Nagalan, also in the northeastern India).
Cuisine: Meghalayan cuisine is very unique and is quite different from the other states in the northeastern India. Staple food of the people is rice with spicy meat and fish preparations. Each tribe has its own variety of foods. The popular dishes of Khasis and Jaintia are Jadoh, Ki kpu, pickled bamboo shoots etc. Garos on the other hand eat almost any animal, but in day to day life they usually have a simple meal with rice and kapa (this can be made of either meat or vegetables and is cooked with special ingredient called karchi which is made up of filtered ash water).
Meghalaya -- Vegetarian Jadoh (with Tofu)

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