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

DIY bottle lamp

Today's post is just me showing off the new lamp which we made using a glass bottle as a base. Last year, when we had gone for strawberry picking at a local farm, they had some gallon cider jugs (like this) out to take for free. I have a thing for glass and I just couldn't pass up a beautiful and free glass jug, even though I had no idea what to do with it.

I looked around for ideas sporadically on the internet and I finally decided to make a lamp out of the bottle. We got a Bottle Lamp kit from walmart and a lamp shade with ring with goes under the lamp.
The lamp kit makes it very easy to convert a bottle into a lamp. There are lots of tutorials on the internet for bottle lamps (like this). I did not drill a hole in the bottle for the wire, like some tutorials say. I just let the wire hang behind and it is not very noticeable at all.
I had used a plain lamp shade and the lamp was looking a bit boring. I decided to dress it up with ribbon. I found a nice ribbon at Michaels. Later, while browsing through the clearance section of Walmart, I found a ribbon with beads dangling from it.
After coming home, I found the beaded ribbon was a little bit short in length to go around the bottom of the lamp shade. So, I left about 2 cm on each of the four sides of the shade and stuck the ribbon. I still had the black and gold ribbon from Michaels. It was pretty long. So I stuck that ribbon on top of the beaded ribbon so the plain edges were not as noticeable. Then I thought the ribbon might work well on the top border of the lamp shade too. It did work and I love my lamp even more now.
How beautiful does it look lighted up? :)
I had also toyed with the idea of turning the bottle into a diy gold mercury glass but I really like the transparent look specially when lit up. Maybe the mercury glass should wait for another project. BTW, the bottle is placed right next to our main door so there is that container (which previously held frozen samosas) behind it holding wallets and stuff to grab before heading out the door. All of this is placed on top of a produce box from Costco over which I draped a duppatta which I no longer use. I know, this is the height of cheapness :) but this is what temporary living does to you. The more stuff we have, the more we need to dispose off when we move.

Puran - Chana dal halwa

Last Sunday was Holi. It is the festival to welcome spring. It also has a religious significance in the story of Prahlad and Holika. While many people love it for the play with colors, for me, it has to obviously link to food. The food synonymus with Holi is Puran Poli.
I did not do the poli part, and just went with Puran. The puran poli making process is a little difficult and time consuming. And it is so delicious that it is easy to overdo it. I just made a little bit of puran to offer as prasad.
The puran made for eating on its own is a little different than the puran used to stuff the polis. The chana dal is kept whole instead of pureeing it and it needs much less sweetner than the puran for polis. And the biggest advantage, it is quick and hardly requires effort. I am all for the foods that deliver great taste while being easy to make.
If you are like me and want a taste of puran poli without all the effort and time, this puran, which is more like a halwa, is just the thing.

Puran (Chana dal Halwa)

Makes 4 small servings
3/4 cup chana dal
3/4 cup jaggery
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1/8 tsp nutmeg powder
1 tsp ghee
1 tbsp cashew halves
  • Soak the chana dal for around an hour, if possible. Even half an hour will work.
  • Pressure cook the chana dal for 1 whistle (for me, it takes 15 min) and let the steam subside on its own.
  • Once cool, open the pressure cooker and drain the chana dal. (Make sure to use the drained water in other dishes otherwise you just lose precious nutrients). The chana dal should be whole and intact, not mushy.
  • Add the jaggery and sugar and let them melt and reduce.
  • Meanwhile, heat the ghee and fry the cashews in it. Add the cashews to the dal.
  • Once the Puran/halwa is thick, take it off the heat. It will not take more than 5-10 min. It will also thicken slightly once cool. Take it off the heat when it has a little bit of liquid still left.
  • Add the cardamom and nutmeg powders.
  • This is a heavy dessert and a couple tablespoons are enough for a serving.
  • Sugar is optional and can be left out if you prefer the halwa to be mildly sweet.
  • About a tablespoon of fresh grated coconut is also a good addition to the halwa.

  • Methi Muthiya

    In my last post, I wrote about Methi Muthiyas that I used in my Undhiyu inspired sabzi. I had initially made the muthiyas as an accompaniment to a simple dal-rice meal. After having them with the dinner and some more for breakfast with ginger chai, I had just the right amount leftover to use in my undhiyu sabzi.
    Muthiyas are meant to be snack food and go best with chai, preferably with some tamarind chutney or ketchup on the side. As you might know, people in Gujarat love their tea time snacks. It is basically the land of snacks. :) And for a good reason, with snacks as good as this (and things like khaman, handvo, khakhra and so on), people will gladly skip meals to have tea ;)

    Methi Muthiyas

    1/2 cup atta (whole wheat flour)
    1/2 cup coarse wheat flour (also known as wheat ladu flour)
    1/4 cup besan (chickpea flour)
    2 bunches methi
    1/8 tsp asafoetida
    1 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp sugar
    1/2 tsp dhaniya-jeera powder
    1/4 tsp red chilli powder
    1/2 tsp sesame seeds
    2 tbsp oil
    1/2 tsp mustard seeds
    1 tsp sesame seeds
    1/4 tsp asafoetida
    • Mix the atta, coarse wheat flour, besan together.
    • Add salt, sugar, dhaniya-jeera powde, chilli powder and sesame seeds and mix.
    • Add cleaned and chopped methi leaves. Add just enough water for the dough to come together. It is quite similar in consistency to roti dough.
    • Bring some water to a boil in a saucepan. Once it reaches a boil, place a greased sieve on the mouth of the saucepan. Make small muthiyas by taking about two tablespoons of dough and rolling it into cylindrical shape and place them in the sieve.
    • Steam the muthiyas for 10-12 minutes. They will change color and will not be wet inside if you stick a toothpick in them. Let them cool to room temperature.
    • For tempering, heat oil and let the mustard seeds splutter in the oil. Add the asafoetida and sesame seeds. Add the muthiyas. Mix them around to coat with the oil.
    • Let the muthiyas sit in a single layer to brown on one side. It will take a few minutes. Turn and brown on the other side.
    • About 1/4 cup of cooked white rice can be added to the muthiya dough if you prefer softer muthiyas.
    • Muthiyas for undhiyu are even smaller and are traditionally deep fried (unlike the ones in this recipe)
    • I used a large cast iron skillet to crisp up the muthiyas in the tempering. Cast iron is the best for crisping jobs but any heavy skillet will work.

    Undhiyu inspired sabzi

    I have great love for the Gujarati Undhiyu. It can sway my vote away from chaat as I wrote in my post about our Atlanta trip. I have an even greater love for "Matla Undhiyo" which is like a cross between chaat and undhiyo. That is more about the entire experience. Ideally, in a farm outdoors on a winter afternoon. The fresh papdi and tuvar beans are cooked in an earthen pot (aka Matlo in gujarati). It is an elaborate setting of digging a hole, adding coal, covering the mouth of the pot with straw and then cooking the beans and the root vegetables. The vegetables are served right out of the pot and the diner has to peel the beans, mash the vegetables themselves, add the different and unique chutneys, oil (probably sesame oil), sev and eat like a chaat. Jalebi on the side is kind of mandatory :)
    That is probably my favorite childhood food memory. Mostly because of the inherent party like atmosphere of lots of people eating on a farm, using their hands, customizing it and partly because it is not everyday you get to eat this.

    The undiyo that most people know about is the other kind of undhiyo : cooked like a sabzi and eaten with roti. Even this kind of undhiyo is not an everyday thing because this is quite elaborate too. You need a dozen different vegetables, make the green masala, stuff the baby vegetables, make the muthiyas and then bring everything together as one dish.

    I am not the one for elaborate cooking. In this case, specially because the husband wont eat the "real" Undhiyo as it has eggplants and weird vegetables (according to him) in it. So I take the easy middle path - I make a sabzi with all the flavors of the undhiyo without all the elaborate effort and offending vegetables. It satisfies my craving for undhiyo without all the effort and the husband really loves it too. I do have to thank my mom for the basic idea. She always makes papdi along these lines.

    On this occasion, I had leftover methi muthiyas from the previous day. I may or may not have saved them with the intention of adding them in this undhiyo inspired sabzi. ;)

    Undhiyo inspired sabzi

    1 lb surti papdi
    2 small potatoes
    2 small carrots
    1/2 bell pepper
    1 tomato
    1/2 tsp mustard seeds
    1/8 tsp asafoetida (hing)
    1/2 tsp ajwain (carom seeds)
    1 tbsp sesame seeds
    1/2 tsp turmeric
    1/4 tsp chilli powder
    1 tbsp minced garlic cloves
    1 tbsp minced ginger
    1 tbsp jaggery
    1 tsp dhaniya-jeera powder
    1 tsp undhiyo masala or gujarati garam masala
    1 tbsp coconut powder (dessicated coconut)
    1 tbsp peanut powder
    8 methi muthiyas (optional)
    • String the Surti papdi. Remove the seeds and keep some tender skin aside.
    • Heat one and half tablespoon of oil and add mustard seeds, hing, ajwain, sesame seeds, turmeric and red chilli powders. Add the minced ginger and garlic.
    • Immediately add the potatoes and carrots. Saute and cover for 2 minutes.
    • Add the papdi seeds. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add the papdi skin and cook for 5 more minutes.
    • How colorful does this look?
    • Add the bell pepper and tomatoes. Add 1 tsp salt or to taste, jaggery, dhaniya-jeera powder and undhiyo masala. Mix, cover and cook for about 5 minutes. The vegetables should be more than half cooked by now.
    • Add 1 cup of water. Cover and bring to a boil.
    • Add the muthiyas, coconut powder and peanut powder. Cover and let it sit for about 5 minutes on low heat.
    • Serve with rotis.
    The vegetables used can be varied. I made this another time when I did not make muthiyas and used some different vegetables.
    I used tuvar seeds, sweet potato, a tiny bit of beet and some spinach (methi would work wonderfully too) along with the usual potato and tomato. As long as you have tuvar, papdi or both and some root vegetables, it can be an undhiyo inspired sabzi. When using sweet potatoes, you will not need as much jaggery due to the sweetness of sweet potatoes.
    I have to say, the version with the muthiyas was takes it to the next level but the one without muthiyas was still quite tasty.