Monthly Archives: September 2010

More great music

As I searched for Jethro Tull songs on You Tube tonight, I also re-discovered “A Classic Case”, an album that features pieces of Jethro Tull’s music as played by the London Symphony Orchestra.

Very nice too…Or may be it sounds so special because it is the music I grew up on, in a way, in college.

And now of course, with Indira I am discovering and enjoying the sounds of a whole new set of singers – Shakira, the Black Eyed Peas, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga !

Although, given the kind of visuals many of these songs come with, I am very thankful to the people who’ve created Spotify, the online radio, that this option exists ….

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Filed under LE FUTTED BALLON-life with the girls, NOT ABOUT FOOD

The magic of Ian Anderson’s flute

Tonight, the memory of two pieces of music came back to me out of nowhere, though I haven’t heard either – “Elegy” and “Bourree”, both by Jethro Tull – in years.

The first, especially, is just sublime.  I had the girls listen to it as well, though they were in bed already. They enjoyed the chance to jump back up, mostly, but liked the music too, I think.

The pieces are available here and here.

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Filed under LE FUTTED BALLON-life with the girls, NOT ABOUT FOOD

Unputdownable book of the moment

These days, I close “Toss of a Lemon” by Padma Vishwanathan only when and because I have to.

It’s a fascinating story about three generations of a Tamil Brahmin family, very evocative of the culture, traditions and way of life of it’s setting.

At 600-odd pages, this is a book that will take me a while yet to finish and I am looking forward to at least another week of happy reading.

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Filed under A READING LIST

Tarte au Fraise – Strawberry Pie

Today was the very first time I have ever made a fruit tart/pie.

It’s one of those things Ma’s never made, nor have I ever watched a friend make one.  So I’ve always felt uncertain about so many details – the handling of pastry shells, the right sort of pan to use, the thickness of the sauce/custard that helps set the filling, etc.

But the girls were so keen to try and make this strawberry pie ever since Romi gifted us the book, this summer in India, which has this recipe, that I decided we’d attempt to make this for dessert tonight because we had Celine and her parents, Doris and Jean -Luc, coming over for dinner.

And the result of our maiden effort was very successful indeed; dessert was thoroughly enjoyed by all, with everyone either helping themselves to or gladly accepting seconds.

This recipe is adapted from the one in “Everyday Light Meals”, a great collection published by the Reader’s Digest magazine group.

Tarte au Fraise – Strawberry Pie


While the girls hung around the kitchen and helped a lot – they did the time-consuming job of placing all those strawberries on the pastry shell – I also thanked again, in my mind, the friendly French couple I talked to in the supermarket aisle where I picked up the roll of pastry dough. I was confused by the choices available and asked them to help me choose the appropriate variety. They were very pleased to hear that I was going to make a dessert which they said was “tres typique, un vrai dessert Francais” and so took the time to explain which would be the right kind of pastry dough and why, as well as the right size of pastry dish to look for.

Romi, thanks again for this wonderful addition to our cookbook collection !

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Filed under Desserts

The context is important

That the context is important, should be self-evident. But so often, we base our perceptions, and misconceptions, on only very sketchy information.

Here’s a well-reasoned  commentary that makes that case for Islam and puts in to perspective some of our ideas about that religion.

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Filed under NOT ABOUT FOOD

Broccoli,Baby Potato and Tomato Salad

Yesterday, when I realized suddenly that I did not have as much time to cook dinner as I had initially thought, I decided to make this salad on a whim, to go with grilled pesto and onion toast.

I kept the broccoli florets quite small and since the salad also had the girls’ favorite tomate marzounette (a type of small-sized tomatoes that have an oblong shape and are grown from a variety native to San Marzano in Italy) they ate it without comment.

I haven’t combined them before, but potatoes and broccoli do seem to go well together. I can even see this salad as part of a more formal meal, with baby potatoes in place of the regular sort for a nice touch.

Broccoli, Potato and Tomato Salad

steamed broccoli florets

boiled, peeled and diced potatoes (the potatoes should be firm, not overcooked) OR boiled and peeled baby potatoes

cherry tomatoes, sliced in to halves (or quartered lengthwise if the tomatoes are the marzounette variety)

Put the tomatoes, the broccoli and the potatoes in to a large salad bowl. Add some olive oil, toss the vegetables lightly in it, and leave aside for an hour.

Just before serving, sprinkle some sea-salt and lime juice and mix the salad.

Light, colorful, GOOD ! Definitely one to make again.

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Filed under Quick Meal Ideas, Salads

Palak Paneer

The addition of paneer to palak masala creates this more elaborate dish.

This is one of Noor’s favorite subzis – she loves to eat it with phulka and lots of yogurt to mix in to the spinach- and this is what we had for dinner tonight, with some daal and carrot salad on the side.

I usually make a little more than we need of the spinach and the daal, as the leftovers are great for kneading the dough for the next day’s phulkas.

Palak Paneer

4 tablespoons of sunflower oil

400 grams of frozen spinach leaves

2 medium sized onions, chopped fine

2 medium sized tomatoes, chopped fine or 4 tablespoons of canned tomato pulp

1 or 1 and a 1/2 teaspoons each of ginger paste and garlic paste (or equivalent amounts of freshly grated ginger and garlic)

1/2 teaspoon each of turmeric powder, kashmiri chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder

3 pods of green cardamom, cracked slightly (optional)

salt (about 1 and a 1/2 teaspoons, or to taste)

2 teaspoons of melted ghee

100-150 gms of paneer cubes

Defrost the spinach leaves. When they are at room temperature chop them fine  in a food processor.

In a large frying pan, heat the oil, then add the cardamom pods. When their aroma starts to spread, add the onions and fry till they start to go from a golden brown to a darker brown – but not longer than that. Add the ginger and garlic pastes, fry for a couple of minutes, then add the tomatoes (or pulp). Fry this mixture till the oil starts to appear on the sides. Add all the dry spices next and fry for a minute. Add the pieces of paneer and fry for a minute to coat them well. Add the spinach now, season with salt, and cook, covered, till it is soft enough. A minute before you take the pan off the fire , add the ghee and mix it in.

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Filed under Everyday Subzis

A One Sentence Recipe – A Simple Carrot Salad

One of things that is so special, , in my opinion,  about the carrot koshimbir that I make very often, is the tangy taste created by the combination of sugar and lime juice.

Inspired by that, I sometimes make this simpler carrot salad which is so much lighter to eat, quicker to make and yet very tasty too.

Carrot Salad

peeled and grated carrots

lime juice, salt and sugar to taste

Toss the carrots with the seasoning and serve.

That surely qualifies for the “world’s shortest recipe” competition !

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Filed under One Sentence Recipes, Salads

What was that again?

There was an amusing moment tonight as we finished dinner, when Indira said, “I like your new karela! ”

It took me a few seconds to realize that she was referring to the new karahi that I have brought back from Mumbai. But then it dawned on me that this vessel is what she had in mind, as she’d just helped me pour the ghee that I made in it this evening  in to a glass bottle.

I guess her Hindi has a way to go yet, though good on her for trying 🙂 She’s obviously picked up the name of the said vegetable during dinner table conversation in India recently, though I don’t think the girls actually ate it in any of the households we visited.

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Filed under LE FUTTED BALLON-life with the girls

Blueberry Muffins – A holiday memory

Yesterday, Indira asked if we could bake blueberry muffins today.

Never having noticed before that she is fond of this variety of muffins, I was curious as to the reason she wanted to make them.

She told me that she loves the muffins they serve for breakfast  on the flight from Nice to Zurich – we almost always  fly on Swiss, when we travel back each year to India – and that it is always a blueberry muffin.

So we picked up fresh blueberries in Carrefour yesterday and made these cupcakes today in the morning for breakfast.

Blueberry Muffins

125-150 g of fresh blueberries

1 and 3/4 cups of flour (all-purpose or whole wheat or semi-wholewheat)

1/2 a cup of sugar

1/4 cup of softened butter

1 tbsp of baking powder

3/4 cup of milk

1 tsp of vanilla

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Wash and dry the blueberries.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, the baking powder and the salt.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Then add the egg and whisk everything together.

Add the milk and the vanilla and mix thoroughly.

Now pour in the flour mixture, stir it in well, then add the blueberries and mix them in lightly.

Put a tablespoon or so of the batter in to each of the cups of a muffin tray and bake at 200 degrees C for 25-40 minutes till the muffins are nicely browned.

While using  fresh blueberries as a baking ingredient does feel like a pity to me – the original recipe does say that frozen berries will do as well but the ones we buy here are too sour for my liking and I therefore tend to avoid them –  I have to say that these cupcakes are quite nice too, with the delicious taste of the berries spread through as the fruit softens on baking.

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Filed under Breakfast Ideas, Cakes and Muffins, THE STUFF OF MEMORIES