Thursday, June 23, 2011


The kitchen was abuzz with activity. I looked on with amazement at the number of things ma was making for me. The puran polis were all done and packed into resealable bags. The cook was frying the chaklis while the maid was rolling the laddoos, even as ma fired instructions to both of them.

Papa kept coming into the kitchen every now and then, sometimes tasting the laddoos or nibbling on the chaklis. “Don’t we have any fruits? Where are the grapes?” he enquired. “Can’t you see the apples and bananas on the table? Look in the fridge, you’ll find some grapes, strawberries and oranges” ma replied sounding very irritated. “Take what you want and sit outside for some time; don’t keep coming in and out of the kitchen so often, it disturbs me no end.”

They seem to be arguing all the time, I thought to myself sadly. They used to be such a gentle couple, quite unlike the cantankerous pair I had seen over the last fortnight. I was really worried for them.

“Your papa,” ma whispered to me, “is losing it. Always interfering….just doesn’t what to do with himself. I just don’t know how to cope with him anymore!”

My heart went out to Papa. Recently retired, he wasn’t used to having time on his hands. He didn’t like watching T.V. and was never into reading. He tried his hand at gardening, but there wasn’t much he could do in the tiny one bedroom apartment with an almost non-existent balcony. So he would just potter around the house to while away the hours.

Ma turned her attention to the grains she planned to roast for making the thalipeeth bhajani. The sheer volume of bhajani that she was planning to pack horrified me. “Are you kidding ma? That bhajani will take up my entire baggage allowance! And can you just stop all this cooking? I don’t want you to tire yourself out.”

“Haven’t I told you so often, let me make all these things while I am physically able to. You have come home after 3 years, god knows when you will come again. Let me pamper you,” she smiled lovingly.
“Listen ma…..” but she cut off my protests with a curt “stop nagging me, go join your father outside.”

So I went and sat with papa who was solving a crossword puzzle, even as he was nibbling on some grapes. “Come beti, sit. Want a fruit? An orange? I’ll peel it for you.” He hadn’t forgotten that I hated peeling oranges.

“No, I’ll peel them myself,” I smiled. He went back to his crossword and as I watched him in amazement as he went from one clue to the next. He looked much healthier and more relaxed since his retirement but in the corners of his eyes, I could detect that vacant look of complete boredom and it troubled me a lot. Poor papa, he really needed to find himself something that would make him happy. I wished there was something I could do for him, but was at a complete loss of ideas.

‘memories preserved, not pickled in jars but frozen forever’, now what kind of a clue is that?” he wondered aloud.

“Ummm..How about ‘photograph’?” I suggested

“8 letters….snapshot.”

“Hey papa, where are the albums? I want to see the old pictures.” But I knew where they would be, they had always been in the shelf in the showcase and I shot out of my chair and grabbed a few.

The albums were neatly labeled according to month, year and occasion – their marriage, their honeymoon, some vacations they had taken, my birth and so forth. Papa was a consummate photographer and for the first time, I realized how good he was. I never seemed to stand still in any pictures, but ma must have loved being his subject. The last of the albums had mostly blurry pictures – no, not taken by him but by a 14 year old me. But after my 15th year, there were no more pictures. I had taken the camera for a school picnic and dropped it, damaging it completely. The lie was easier, so I came back home and claimed that the camera was misplaced, possibly stolen by someone. Papa never replaced that camera, I had been too guilty to ask him to and that was the end of his hobby.

Feeling completely suffocated by the weight of my lie, I decided to step out for a bit. I must have gone out for a couple of hours and when I came back, ma was still in the kitchen, transferring some pickles into smaller bottles and papa was now attacking a Sudoku puzzle.

“Papa…for you,” I said, giving him the DSLR that I had purchased when I went out. “And maybe it is time for me to confess that your old camera wasn’t stolen. I….uh….I dropped it and it….it….broke.”

He nodded. “I’ve always suspected it. That is why this camera now, huh?” he said with a twinkle in his eyes.

In no time, he had figured the camera out and was clicking away endlessly. Pictures of me, our apartment, his plants, of the streets that ran around our apartment, of the skyline…

“Click ma’s pictures,” I said.

“You crazy? She’ll bite my head off if I go in there to take pictures,” he laughed. “This fruit bowl here will make for a better subject!”

Ma, in the meantime, had finished her marathon cooking session and walked out at exactly the moment that papa clicked the strawberries.

“Look at him, taking pictures of everything in this house except mine.”

He winked at me and turned to pacify ma by taking her pictures. He said something, she laughed and after a long time, they looked like the couple they used to be.

It didn’t matter that I didn’t have the camera in my hand to capture that moment - I knew it was an image that would live forever in my heart.

So this is my (as always?) late entry to our food fiction event, Of Chalks and Chopsticks that Sra revived last month. This time, there was a cue - in the form of a photo - of a man taking a picture of a bowl of strawberries.

Bongmom is hosting Of Chalks and Chopsticks for July. Head on over to her blog to know more.

Thalipeeth is very popular snack all over Maharashtra . It is a multi-grain, multi-legume pancake made from a special flour called 'thalipeeth bhajani'. Most Maharashtrian households will have bhajani in their pantries at all times and with good reason - thalipeeth is very easy to make once you have the bhajani and it is one of the most nutritious things you can dish out in a hurry.

The bhajani recipe varies from family to family. The following recipe is just a guideline - feel free to vary the grains/legumes (and the quantities) as per availability.

Thalipeeth Bhajani


Bajra/pearl millet – 1 cup
Jowar/ Sorghum – 1 cup
Rice – ¾ cup
Wheat - ½ cup
Chana dal/Bengal gram – ½ cup
Urad dal/ Black gram – ½ cup
Moong dal/ Green bean – ½ cup
Coriander seeds – ¼ cup
Cumin seeds – 1/8 cup
Dry red chillies – ¼ cup, or to taste

Dry roast all the ingredients separately. Allow to cool. Grind them all together to a fine flour.

(normally, the grain – pulses mixture is ground in a flour mill. However, my friend grinds them at home in a spice grinder. It is a time consuming process and if you choose to do the same, do sieve the bhajani a couple of times and grind the gritty pieces again).

If roasting -grinding is too cumbersome, you could also buy the flours separately (in the same ratio as that of the grains), lightly roast them and mix them together to make a hassle-free bhajani.

The bhajani can last for months; if the weather in your part of the world tends to be hot and humid, pack it in small quantities in re-sealable bags/air tight containers and store in the fridge.

Once you have the bhajani, you can whip up thalipeeth in a jiffy!



Bhajani – 1 cup
Onion – 1 small, very finely minced
Coriander leaved – ¼ cup, finely chopped
Chillies – 4, chopped
Jaggery – 1.5 tsps, grated
Water for kneading the dough


Mix together the onions, coriander leaves, chillies, jiggery and salt till the onions start to release some water. Set aside for 5 minutes and mix again. This helps all the ingredients to release their flavours.

Then add the bhajani to the above mixture and mix it in, you should get a mixture that resembles wet sand.

Keep adding water to it till you get a soft ball of dough.

Oil and heat a frying pan – it should be hot enough so that when you sprinkle a few drops of water on it, they should sizzle.

Take a small ball of dough, roughly the size of a golf ball, and flatten it to get a circle about 5” in diameter (I normally do this on a parchment paper, my mom does it straight on the pan) and place it on the pan.

Make a small circle in the centre with the back of a spoon. Drizzle some oil around the edges and in the centre, cover with the lid and let it cook for about 2-3 mins or until the underside is brown.

Flip it over and cook till small, brown spots appear.

Thalipeeth has to be served hot off the pan - a cold thalipeeth is an absolute no-no - preferably with a blob of butter melting over it. I serve it with some spiced yogurt and a salad on the side for a light and healthy lunch/dinner.

I am hosting MLLA - 36 this month and the multi-grain, multi-legume thalipeeth is my entry to the event.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

My legume Love Affair - 36

In the food blogging world, there are some events that are iconic. Susan's brainchild, My Legume Love Affair (MLLA for short) is one such event.

MLLA has been around for over 3 years now (with bloggers lining up and then waiting impatiently for their turn to host the event) and it gives me immense pleasure to (finally!) host MLLA - 36.

To me, the best part about the event is in the simplicity of the idea - cooking with legumes - making it one of the easiest events to take part in.

Oh and there are some cool prizes to be won as well:

1) Super Smoothies: 50 Recipes for Health and Energy by Sara Corpening Whiteford and Mary Corpening Barber. This prize is offered by Susan without influence at her expense, and she will also absorb worldwide shipping charges. F.T.C. Notice: Susan does not receive any compensation from Amazon.

2) Hurst Bean Box - A case of six bags of the winner's choice of Hurst Bean products, suitable for every diet, sponsored by Hurst Bean. (Due to shipping restrictions, this prize can only be awarded if the winner is a U.S. resident.) F.T.C. Notice: In May 2010, Susan, at her request, received two Hurst Bean complimentary products which are not available for purchase in her local markets. Susan does not generally accept free products from Hurst Bean nor is she financially compensated by them.

3) Drawing Structure - If the winner is a U.S. resident, she/he will be the recipient of both Prizes 1 and 2 above. In the event that an international winner is drawn, a second drawing will be conducted from the U.S. pool of entrants to ensure that the Hurst Prize is awarded every month. In these instances, the international winner will receive the book, and the U.S. winner will receive the Hurst Prize.

So what do you need to do to win one of the prizes? Just blog a recipe about legumes. Simple, isn't it?

But hey, before you quickly hit the 'publish' button on your legume post, do take a look at the event guidelines:

1) Any cuisine, any culture, all courses (appetizers, main course, dessert), vegetarian, vegan or non-vegetarian - the choice is yours - are welcome as long as 'legumes' are the star, the main ingredient.
(Legumes essentially refer to and include fresh or dried pulses, beans, lentils, peas and/or the edible pods that contain these seeds. Derivative products such as besan or tofu also make the cut.
Yes, tamarind, fenugreek seeds, carob, peanuts do form part of the legume family. However, if your recipe contains these or for that matter, any other legume in small quantities, like say a spoonful, or as a garnish, or as an auxillary or an optional ingredient, your entry will NOT qualify for the event).

2) Multiple entries are permitted, but restricted to a maximum of 10 per participant. Please note that for the random drawing, only ONE entry will be considered.

3) Archived entries are welcome, but have to be updated and reposted as current.

4) Recipes submitted to MLLA - 36 can be shared with other events.

5) Don't have a blog, but have an awesome recipe to share? Sure, send it in!

6) The use of the MLLA - 36 logo is optional.

Link your entry to Susan's host line-up page and this announcement and email it to me: aquadaze{at}rediffmail{dot}com with the following details:

Your name
Blog name and blog URL
Post title and post URL
Your location (essential for the prizes, but will not be published)
(do not attach any photos with your mail as the round-up will not include photos)

I will acknowledge all your entries via e-mail; if you do not receive a reply from me within 5 days of mailing me, do leave a comment on this post.

The last date for sending your entries is June 30th and the round-up will be posted in the first week of July.

So go ahead and hit the publish button on your legume posts!

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

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