Sunday, May 8, 2011

Batatyacha Kees (Spicy Grated Potatoes)

There was a point in time when I thought she was the villain in my life. There was a point in time when I was convinced she was my worst enemy.

She had problems with my sense of style, she had reservations about my choice of clothes.
That dress? The one with the sequins? Are you serious?
The bright red shade of nail polish? Too flashy for your age.
I called her old-fashioned. After all at 15, I was convinced I had a better idea of fashion and style than her. Once I was financially independent, I would buy what I wanted, I decided.

She curbed my freedom, she doubted my ability to take care of myself.
All girls weekend out to celebrate the class 12 results? No way!
Discotheque? And in those clothes? Perish the thought.
Wait till I am 18 and old enough to move out of the house, I thought. I would do as I pleased!

She was extremely strict with my interactions with anyone other than family, she was always mistrustful of people I thought were perfectly nice.
Sleep on the terrace during summer holidays with a group of friends? Never.
Go to the 27 year old neighbour's (uncle's) house who lived alone and chat while she fetched my sister from school? Don't you dare.
I used to get confused by her behaviour sometimes. At times, I used to pity and get angry at her suspicious nature. I would not grow up and be like her, I swore.

It took me some years to finally realise that she was right about most things that she let or did not let me do, that whether she was right or wrong, she did have her valid reasons for the decisions she made. It has taken me longer to actually admit that as a teenager, I made life very difficult for her.

Today, I know that my mother is someone who became the villain in my life so that she could keep me safe always. She was that enemy who was driven by only one motive - my well-being.

My mom's cooking is sometimes counter - intuitive , but always simple. Not too many frills and absolutely fuss-free. She never made any attempts to teach me cooking believing that cooking was something that would come naturally to me whenever I had to handle my own kitchen. There is no need to learn cooking, she would say. Focus on your studies instead.

I, on the other hand, would pester her with my food demands and help her when she asked me to only after whining and registering my displeasure. You always disturb me just when the novel's reached an interesting juncture, I would complain.

Ironically, today, whenever I go home, I want to help her out in the kitchen and she pushes me out. Don't tire yourself, I tell her. It is my right to pamper you, she counters.

Batatyacha kees is something that is normally made for upvas (religious fast) but growing, this was one of my favourite food and would get made for breakfast or with tea in the late afternoons.

Think of it as an Indian version of hash browns - just a little more nutritious with the addition of nuts and definitely tastier than hash browns!


Potatoes: 2 medium
Sweet potato*: 1 medium
Roasted peanuts: 1/2 cup
Fresh chillies**: 2-3, more or less depending on your personal spice preference
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
Salt, to taste
Juice of half a lemon
Oil or ghee: 1.5 tbsp

(*normally, batatyacha kees is made with only potatoes, but my mom also uses sweet potatoes because they are very nutritious and for the delicate sweet flavour they impart.
**I use red and green chillies only to make the kees look colourful)


Wash the potatoes thoroughly, grate them (I normally grate them with the skin, you could peel them if you so desire) and soak them in water.

After about 5 minutes, discard the water and soak the potatoes in a fresh change of water for another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, pound or grind the peanuts into a coarse powder.
(If you want to know how to roast and crush peanuts, hop on over to Nupur's blog One Hot Stove for a very comprehensive post on roasting and grinding peanuts).

Drain the water the potatoes were soaking in. Squeeze out the water completely by pressing small batches of the drained potatoes between your palms.

Melt the ghee in a wok. When hot, add the cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds start to splutter, toss in the chillies.

Then add the grated potatoes, turn up the heat and stir fry till the potatoes are cooked. Finally add the crushed peanuts and stir for a further 2 minutes. Squeeze the juice of half a lime and serve hot.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Of Chalks and Chopsticks

To tell you the truth, I have never received as many e-mails from my blog readers for my recipes as I have for our food fiction event Of Chalks and Chopsticks. I was surprised and delighted to know that even non - bloggers enjoyed reading all the food fiction that we had been churning.

Then a few days ago, there was a mail from Sra proposing that we revive the event. With a few inputs coming in from Desi Soccer Mom and Bong Mom, Of Chalks and Chopsticks is now back, with a bit of a twist.

Hop over to Sra's blog to find out more and then start spinning your yarns!

(I have disabled the comments on this post, please post all comments and queries on Sra's blog)

It is not just about the ingredients or the recipe, good food happens when it is served with love!!

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