About Me

Hello. I started this blog to write about what I do in my chosen profession : a housewife. Some day I might cook or bake something interesting and enlist my 2 year old to help, on another day I make something from scratch instead of buying it from the store and sometimes I craft with my daughter. Once in a while, we travel or have a fun day outside. I am also doing what I can to recycle and reduce waste. I am still learning all of this and documenting my journey through this blog

A simple lunch with gawar sabzi

The gawar bean is definitely not a celebrated vegetable. It is a humble bean with a humble name. Gawar also means a simpleton in Hindi. Its funny to think someone came across a vegetable and decided to call it a simpleton. Although the English name - cluster bean makes sense. As per this wikipedia image, the beans grow in clusters.
gawar/gavar
The people who think they do not like this vegetable do not know the secret ingredients that make this vegetable taste like a million bucks. Jaggery and goda masala play really well with the slight bitter undertones of this vegetable and some nuttiness in the form of sesame seeds or peanuts also adds a delicious flavor to the sabzi.
This needs a little prep time, like all delicious vegetables (looking at you, methi!!). They need to be stringed and cut. But if you got your hands on tender and fresh beans, you will not have to struggle with tough strings and save on some prep time.
This is a distinctively Maharashtra style of sabzi with the very marathi spice "goda masala". Nowadays it is readily available at the indian grocery stores. It is a good spice blend to have in the pantry. It will add a new flavor to an everyday sabzi. I believe in switching things up every once in a while and having different spice blends makes that easy. I do tend to go overboard and buy every new "masala" I see but just a handful are enough to add variation to everyday food. I like to have a goda masala, sambar masala and paav bhaji masala in addition to the regular garam masala. Each of them have their distinctive flavor. On days when you do not want the same old sabzi, add a different masala and you have a new flavor!
Coming back to my lunch plate one afternoon, I just clicked the plate after taking a few bites. I thought the plate looked quite colorful with the mangoes and the vegetables.
cluster bean gawar bhaji


There is the gawar sabzi with yogurt, some mango slices sprinkled with tiny bit of salt and chili powder and some leftover matar paneer with rotis.


Gawar sabzi



Ingredients:
3 cupschopped cluster beans
2potatoes
1 tbspoil
1/2 tspmustard seeds
1 tspsesame seeds
1/4 tspasafoetida
1/4 tspajwain (carom seeds)
3 clovesgarlic
1/2 tspturmeric powder
1/4 tspchili powder
1 tspsalt
2 tspjaggery
1 tspgoda masala
1 tbsplemon juice
1 tbspcrushed peanuts (optional)
  • Heat oil in a pan to prepare the tadka. Add mustard seeds and once they stop spluttering, add asafoetida, sesame seeds, ajwain and garlic
  • Work fast as tadka has a tendency to burn. Add the cubed potatoes with turmeric and chili powders.
  • Let them saute and coat with the spices for a couple of minutes
  • Add the chopped cluster beans. Cover and cook for 5 minutes on medium.
  • Add salt and jaggery and a couple of tablespoons of water.
  • Cover and cook for about 15 minutes on low flame till the potatoes are very soft and beans look cooked.
  • Add the goda masala, lemon juice and crushed peanuts if using. Mix well. Let it sit for a few minutes before serving.
Notes:

  • Do not skip the jaggery and goda masala. It just won't be the same without them.
  • I like the version with peanuts better.


Kid friendly healthy fruit and oats breakfast muffins without oil

I am not a morning person. Getting up and making breakfast at 7 in the morning is very difficult for me. The most I can manage is toasting bread. But when the husband is out of the house at 7, a real housewife cannot let him go without a real breakfast, can she now? And then there is the question of packing a healthy breakfast for the kid to take to preschool. "How can I pack the most nutrients in what little she eats, without adding any weird tastes", is a question I always struggle with. Anything other than chocolate, milk, plain rice falls somewhere in the weird tastes category for her.

Anyway, to help me with the breakfast question, I try to make a few healthy, freezable and delicious options when I have time and my brain is not working at a snail's pace (like in the morning). One of the breakfast which everyone loves is : muffins. All I have to do the night before is, pull a few out from the freezer to thaw in the refrigerator. And they are perfectly ready to eat in the morning.
I love to make muffins too because they really are healthy but feel like a treat. And there are so many variations that can be made that it never gets boring.

This particular variation was a big hit. It has no oil or butter. It has whole grains (oats and whole wheat). It has fruits. It does not have a lot of sugar. But while eating it, you will not know that it is healthy for you in anyway and it has chocolate :) This recipe is going to be made a lot in my kitchen.

kid friendly muffin recipe

My little girl helped me make them. And that might be one of the reasons they passed the toddler test in flying colors too. She loves to mix and pour the ingredients. They do not always stay in the bowls that they are supposed to but it is fun for her and it helps her to stay involved with the food she is eating.

Healthy Breakfast Muffins

Bananas, applesauce and yogurt provide enough moisture to the muffins that they do not miss having fat like oil or butter in the recipe. I also replaced one of the egg with a mix for flax seed powder + water. Flax seeds are a good source of fiber and are quite nutritious.
Let your little helpers have their fun with mashing bananas to mixing the ingredients.

breakfast muffin batter
whole wheat and oat muffins

This recipe makes 12 muffins.

Ingredients:
2very ripe bananas
1/2 cupapplesauce * See notes
1/8 cupyogurt
1 1/2 cupwhole wheat flour
1 cupcoarsely powdered oats
1/2 cupbrown sugar
1/4 cupsugar
1/2 tspsalt
1/4 cupcocoa powder
2 tspbaking powder
1 tspbaking soda
1egg
1 tbspflax seed powder
3 tbspwater
1 tspvanilla
1/4 cuporange juice
1 tbsplemon or orange zest
  • Preheat the oven to 375 F and prepare the muffin pan by lining with paper liners.
  • Mix together flax seed powder and water and set aside. This needs to sit for atleast 5 mins to get to an egg like consistency.
  • Mash up the bananas. The over-ripe ones work perfectly for baking. 
  • Add the applesauce and yogurt to the bananas..
  • Whisk together the dry ingredients in a bowl : whole wheat flour, oats, brown sugar, sugar, salt , cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda.
  • Mix well the wet ingredients in another bowl : egg, flax seed mix, orange juice and vanilla.
  • Fold together the dry ingredients, wet ingredients and banana mixture and the zest. Do not over mix. Just fold gently till dry ingredients are wet. 
  • Fill in the muffin cups till almost full.
  • Bake for about 16 mins or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin is not wet at all. 
Notes:

  • I had a small 3.9 oz cup of applesauce leftover from one of the restaurant kids meal so I used it instead of half cup of applesauce. Applesauce can be used to replace oil in other baked goods too. 
  • I also used fresh orange juice but any orange juice will work. 
  • These muffins are not very chocolaty (just the way I wanted). 1/4 cup of chocolate chips can be added if you want more chocolate flavor in the muffins. 
  • I used coarsely powdered old fashioned oats. Quick cooking oats can be used without grinding them
I recently made a variation of this recipe using strawberry puree. I used 3/4 cup of strawberry puree instead of 1/2 applesauce + 1/4 cup orange juice. I also skipped the white sugar and increased the brown sugar by using a tightly packed half cup. Using 1/2 cup almond meal to substitute 1/2 cup of the whole wheat flour adds more good fat and results in a softer crumb.

Getting crafty with plastic Easter eggs - Musical Egg Shakers, Egg Wobbleheads and Egg Teacups

The Easter egg hunt is long over but your house is still filled with the plastic Easter eggs. What do you do with them? That is the question I asked myself ....and to Google a while ago. Turns out, a lot of people have that question and have answers to them too. So the ideas here are not original but I went through a lot of them and many were repeated on so many places that I do not have the proper links to credit them.
My daughter loved the Easter egg hunt at her preschool and she loved her plastic Easter eggs. It was her first egg hunt. But when I turned those eggs into something more, she was excited.

Musical Egg Shakers

The first thing we made were musical egg shakers. This is the easiest to make.

video


Materials:
plastic eggs
rice, beans
clear tape
  • Open up the plastic egg. Fill a little bit of rice or beans or other grains in them. I used rice for one and black eyed peas for another.
  • Tape the egg closed so that the fillings do not fall out.
  • Have fun making music and dancing.

Egg Wobbleheads

These egg wobbleheads are also very easy to make and the kids just love to play with them.

easter egg wobbleheads


video

Materials:
plastic eggs
playdoh
clear tape
permanent marker
optional paper decorations
  • Open up the plastic egg. Stick a small ball of playdoh in the center of the bottom part of the egg.
  • Tape the egg closed.
  • Draw some funny faces on the egg with permanent marker
  • Add paper decorations. I cut up some paper which the daughter had painted on and taped it to the egg as hair for the egg head.

Teacups

These teacups look very beautiful if done well. Mine are as beautiful as they can get when you try to paint while the toddler is trying to fight you for paint :) This craft takes a little time and effort in mainly keeping them away from the daughter while waiting for the glue to dry.

easter egg teacups


Materials:
plastic eggs
buttons
craft glue
paint
tape
old greeting card
  • Open up the plastic egg and seperate the two parts. Use craft glue to stick buttons to the bottom of the eggs so that they can stand on their own.
  • Now comes the hard part. Wait for the glue to dry.
  • Paint some designs on the teacup.
  • Cut out strips from an old greeting card and use tape to stick them as handles to the teacups.
  • Have a tea party with your favorite stuffed animals.

Gudi Padva thali - easy pressure cooker chole, kheer and puri

So last Thursday was "Gudi Padva". It is the marathi new year. But I really had no idea about it. I woke up and lifted up the blinds and saw the opposite apartment had a gudi. And then I went "Ok....so today must be Gudi Padva." I did not have anything to make the gudi nor am I good with pujas. But my brother and his wife are good at it and thanks to them, here is a picture of what a gudi is.
Gudi Padva

So I decided to do the thing I am good at : make a special meal.Traditionally, srikhand is made on this day. But again, unprepared as I was, there wasn't much yogurt at home and I was planning on making yogurt at home, which I did, but it wouldn't be done in time to make srikhand. So I decided to make seviyan kheer. And to make it a whole lot special, I decided to make chole and puri along with it.

chole, poori and seviyan kheer Chole, puri and kheer

It was just the right time to try out my bookmarked chole recipe from http://ribbonstopastas.blogspot.in/ I recently discovered this blog and it is great with lots of good recipes.

Lazy person's chole 
adapted from dhabe de chole

I call this the the lazy person's chole because it does not involve any grinding and bhuno-ing. It just involves dumping everything in the pressure cooker and you are done. But that doesn't mean it is any less tasty than the labor-intensive version. In fact, we really loved it.

effortless chole

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup dry chole/chickpeas
1 medium potato
1 large onion
2 inch ginger
1 green chilli
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chaat masala
1/2 tsp pepper powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida
2 bay leaves
  • Soak the chole for 6 hrs. But since I was in a hurry, I soaked the chole in hot water for 4 hrs.
  • Take a pressure cooker and add the drained chole, chopped potato, onion, ginger and slit green chilli. I did not make it too spicy. 
  • Add the coriander, cumin, pepper powders, salt, chaat masala, asafoetida and bay leaves.
  • Add enough water to cover everything by an inch and give it a stir.
  • Cook in the pressure cooker till the chole are cooked. I cooked on med-high till the first whistle and then on med-low for 20-25 mins.
For Masala:
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp ghee
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp amchoor powder
1 tsp chole masala
1 tsp garam masala
  • Heat oil and ghee in a pan.
  • Add all the other ingredients and let them roast for a minute
  • Add to the cooked chole
  • Pressure cook again for 1 whistle. 
  • When you open the pressure cooker, you will be amazed to see the onions and all the other ingredients have melted to form a beautiful gravy.

Seviyan kheer

This kheer was very creamy and just the right consistency. I loved scooping it with the poori and also with a spoon.
quick seviyan kheer


Makes about 10 servings
Ingredients:
12 oz can evaporated milk
4 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups water
100 gm thin roasted vermicelli/seviyan (half a packet, broken in small pieces with scissor)
1/2 cup sugar
8-10 cardamom pods
12 almonds
12 pistachios
1/4 cup raisins
  • Pour evaporated milk, whole milk and water together in a heavy bottom pan and bring to a boil. Keep stirring the milk at regular intervals at all times to avoid sticking at the bottom.
  • Once the milk has boiled, reduce the heat to low. Add the vermicelli. Continue to cook till vermicelli is soft and the milk has reduced to 3/4th the original quantity (about 20 minutes).
  • Add sugar and powdered cardamom pods.
  • Meanwhile, put the almonds and pistachios in a small bowl with enough water to cover them and microwave for a minute. Peel and chop.
  • Add the nuts and raisins to the simmering kheer and take it off the heat. Serve cold or at room temperature. 
Notes:
 I used evaporated milk as it is already thick and the cooking time will be reduced.
The kheer can also be made using only whole milk as is traditionally done which will take about double the time.


Got lemons! Make lemonade and more...

Spring is finally here! The temperatures are warmer and cool drinks are in order specially since I am avoiding turning on the air-conditioning. We need to conserve some electricity after a looong spell of running the heating. The king of hot weather drinks here is the lemonade.
There have been times when we used to buy bottles of lemonade from the store but not any more. The store-bought lemonade does not taste that good and has lots of unwanted chemical ingredients. And when it is so easy to make, who needs storebought anyway? If I haven't managed to convince you yet, it is very cost effective. How cost effective, you ask?

Lets see :
Storebought bottle of lemonade costs 2.6$ for 2 litres (67.6 oz)
Homemade lemonade :
A bag of lemons is also about 2.6$
sugar costs about 3$
This amount gives me 20 cups (160 oz) of lemonade
So, cost for 2 litres of homemade lemonade comes to around 1.2 $

Saving : 1.4 $ per 2L bottle of lemonade

Enough with the maths, lets get on to what really matters. So you got a huge bag of lemons from the store on sale. Before they get all wrinkly on you, zest them and juice them. Store the zest plastic wrapped in a zip-top bag in the freezer for at-most 2 weeks. The zest is a wonderful thing. It packs so much lemony flavor. Use it to make some lemony muffins or cookies or a lemony whipped cream. So many options but we will get to it later.
Lets deal with the juice first.




Lemonade concentrate

Making a lemonade concentrate is a smart idea. It keeps unrefrigerated for almost a year. This method (its more of a method than a recipe) comes from my mom. She has a lemon tree growing in her yard and has the skills of preserving lemons :)


Lemonade Concentrate


Ingredients:
1 cup lemon juice
3 cups sugar
1 cup water
  • Pour the sugar and water in a saucepan. The water should be just enough to cover the sugar. 
  • Heat the syrup till you get a one string or soft ball consistency *check notes below
  • Take the syrup off the heat, mix in the lemon juice and the concentrate is ready to be stored in a nice glass bottle when cooled.
This makes 20 cups of lemonade

Notes:
To check for one string consistency, take a drop of syrup between your thumb and index finger. If it forms a good single string when the index finger is pulled away from the thumb then you have the one string consistency. 
A much easier way to check this is to use a candy thermometer. When the syrup registers 235 F or the softball mark on the candy thermometer, the syrup is ready.


The Lemonade

Prepared lemonade can be kept in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. So a chilled glass of a refreshing drink is ready in less than a moments notice. Now doesn't this rival the "I want it right now" convenience of the bottled store-bought version.

Lemonade


Ingredients:
2/3 cup lemonade concentrate
4 cups water
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cumin pwd *see notes below

Mix everything together and store in that old lemonade bottle in the fridge :) Just shake the bottle before pouring out a drink.

Notes:
The cumin powder can be replaced with the same amount of cardamom powder, rose water or any other flavoring. It can also be omitted. But I like the version with cumin powder the best. 

Lemon digestive drink

This recipe is again from my mother. I have been taking a teaspoon of this with half a glass of water in the morning. I think its a good thing if you can overcome the slight smell of asafoetida.

lemon digestive drink


Ingredients:
3/4 cup lemon juice
a pinch of asafoetida/hing
juice from 2-3 inch piece of fresh ginger *see notes below

Mix all the ingredients together and store in the fridge for several weeks. Mix 1 teaspoon of the juice with half a glass of water and drink to keep the digestive system in good shape.

Notes:
Squeeze grated ginger to extract the juice. The amount of the ginger juice can be adjusted as per taste.