Thursday, July 19, 2007

Monthly Blog Patrol, and a Meme

Every month, Coffee from The Spice Cafe sends us off on a mission called the Monthly Blog Patrol: the idea is to browse our favorite blogs and choose some recipes that make us want to run to the kitchen and try them, and, well, run to the kitchen and *actually* try them, instead of just drooling all over the keyboard. The theme for this month is Preserves!

Garlic Chutney

When Archana from Tried and Tested Recipes made Lasnichi Chutney (garlic chutney) for RCI: Maharashtra, my heart skipped a beat. This chutney is a permanent feature of the everyday menu in my parents' home, but for some strange reason, I had never attempted to make it.

So I did: I used Archana's recipe with only two additions of my own: 1 T sesame seeds and 1 t cumin seeds. I roasted these briefly with the garlic, then let everything cool down before grinding it in the food processor. You need a few minutes of processing before the chutney gets to the right consistency. Here is the result, filled into an old peanut butter jar:
It was delicious, and will now be a permanent feature in my home too! It is a versatile chutney: I love it with simple dal-rice and yogurt-rice, sprinkled on toasted buttered bread, as an accompaniment to potato patties. The dry garlic chutney can be mixed with some yogurt to make an instant dip.
Last night, we enjoyed a light dinner: yogurt-chutney with aloo parathas, a simple two-bean stir-fry (green beans and soybeans), and no-oil lemon pickle.

Lime Squash

To sip alongside this meal, a refreshing Lime Squash from Anita of A Mad Tea Party. LimeSq
Squash is a term that, in India at least, refers to fruit syrups that are either home-made or store-bought. Once you have these at hand, you can mix up a refreshing drink in seconds by mixing the syrup with some cold water. I halved Anita's recipe but otherwise followed it closely. The result was awesome- citrusy and tangy-sweet and oh-so-restorative in this weather! The only thing is: I was not able to peel the limes as well as Anita (just look at the pictures on her post) and I managed to peel off too much of the "white portion" of the lime, making the syrup just a tad too bitter than it should have been. I enjoyed it anyway, and will be making the syrup again!

For a delicious collection of pickles, jams and powders, check out Coffee's Round-Up!

* * * * *
In the past few days, I was tagged for the "7 random things about me" meme by Arundathi, Suganya and Srivalli. I have written a similar 5-things-about-me meme before, but decided that I contain enough randomness for one more meme :) So, here it goes...

1. Apart from food and cooking, I love reading. One of my favorite genres is the short story. I fell in love with it while reading O. Henry's and Saki's and Arthur Conan Doyle's stories as a middle-schooler. There are dozens of short stories that I remember years after reading them. I noticed that some of my favorite stories can be found online in their entirety: Saki's The Open Window, Roald Dahl's Lamb to the Slaughter, Woody Allen's The Kugelmass Episode and Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory. Of course, the proper way to enjoy them is to curl up on a couch with the book, not scroll down hastily on a screen! I'm old-fashioned like that.

2. My other favorite genre: books by the South Asian diaspora, i.e., Indian authors writing in English. It took me years and years to get to Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy. It is a mammoth book and I never felt like I had the time to do justice to it. This January, I finally had more time on my hands and lugged the book home from the library. I read it over 2-3 weeks, and it was a most delicious read.

3. My favorite short story collections from the South Asian diaspora: Swimming Lessons by Rohinton Mistry, The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri and Bangalore Stories by Lavanya Sankaran. Any other bibliophiles lurking here? You might like this link to some eco-friendly reading tips.

4. The most enjoyable thing I am doing these days (even more fun than reading books, or writing this blog): cooking at Campus Kitchen. I'll tell you more about it some other time.

5. I don't like traveling at all. Don't get me wrong: I like living in different places, and also enjoy visiting them for meetings and conference. It is *vacations* that I cannot stand. My friend Megha once sighed, "Nupur is always happier and more excited on the flight back". There is no place like home!

6. I hate shopping with all my heart. I hate shopping for clothes and shoes most of all. When I stand in stores staring at itty-bitty skirts on the mannequin, I consider the fact I will have to buy that body before I can buy the skirt. My mom buys all my clothes. Unlike me, she shops with the determination of someone pulling the economy out of recession.

7. I can juggle. Only 3 balls at a time. I never did progress beyond that.

See on on Sunday with the X of Indian Vegetables! All entries are due on Saturday.

Want to share your favorite book(s)? Please leave a comment!


  1. hey! Don't scare me, tomorrow is Friday.

  2. nupur, you may enjoy it, though it's non-fiction.

  3. Hi Nupur!
    So you can juggle 3 balls!!!! that's great! that's a very nice meme!! got to know that you too are a book lover! btw garlic chutney is a very good entry for MBP!

  4. Haven't read Banglore Stories, but the other three by S. Asian authors I've read and immensely enjoyed. Have you read Stories from Firozsha Baug (by Rohinton Mistry) or Rich Like Us (by Nayantara Sahgal)?

  5. Hey Nupur, Garlic chutney is superb. Mixing with curd is such a great way to devour them. If I have to recommend a book its The Alienist by Caleb Carr. Read the reviews from B&N site, u vl know :)

  6. Saju, sorry, sorry, the post was originally slated for Friday, hence the mess-up! I'll correct it this evening...blogger edit does not work on this computer. Entries are due on Saturday.

    Bee, I have read a little Bill Bryson, but should read it again now that I have more time. I do enjoy non-fiction a lot too.

    Usha, I've been a book lover for a couple decades longer than I have been a "food lover" :)

    TC, I think you will love Bangalore stories! I have read all of Mistry's books and loved each of them (although when I read "A fine balance", the book made me so sad, I thought to myself, "I can never be completely happy ever again"). I'm going to look for the Sahgal book! Thanks for mentioning it.

  7. Nice to know you. And I too like garlic. I still have to come up with my Preserving recipe.

  8. The garlic chutney looks great... didn't expect a powder like consistency when I first read the title. Nice Meme there... i love the O.Henry short stories too. For a light read, you may like P.G. Wodehouse :)

  9. Lovely meme, Nupur. I second Saju, you had mes cared with the "tomorrow" bit :). I love Saki! and Rohinton Mistry and cried while i read "A fine Balance".....A Suitable Boy is something that one can re-re-read!

    and great picks for MBP. I am gonna' try that lasun chutney.

    and boy! you can juggle too! You are one amazing person, Nupur :).


  10. Nupur- I've read and enjoyed your blog for a while now- esp enjoyed the Maharashtrian recipe collection. My mother-in-law grew up in Pune and my husband grew up eating a lot of Maharashtrian food so he was delighted when I cooked pithale and cucumber koshimbir etc. Anyway going back to books, you might enjoy 'Tiger Ladies' by Sudha Koul. There is something so beautiful and touching when she talks about eating cold rice and hot fried fish prepared by her grandmother. I was surprised I enjoyed the book so much since I didn't know much about the author B4. Heres a link:

    Sorry abt the long comment:)


  11. Hey I love that garlic chutney, I used to eat with toasted bread, my quick breakfast back in Mumbai. Well that garlic was prepared by my aunty. Nice to see recipe here, I will surely make n stock it. It goes well with Bhakaris too!

    It was Fun reading your MEME...I too agree with you, while returning home from a vacation or long drive, its always a nice feeling back to our *Home Sweet Home*, but I love traveling.

  12. My favorite books:

    I dig Sacks! and Ledoux :). and in fiction, Murakami writes those near psychedelic books! a few more books i've read time and again:

    Life of Pi, Anne Frank's Diary, Ice Candy Man, Mulk Raj Anand's works and R.K. Narayan's works. just a few that come to my mind right now.

  13. Superb looking Garlic chutney and very refreshing Lemon Sherbat....
    It was very nice Knowing you, and O.Henry is my Fav author too.. try reading "The Gift of Mary" its a nice short story!!

  14. We must be long-lost twins of a sort! I LOVE reading - enjoyed all the books and stories you mentioned - and I LOATHE shopping (except for books and food!). Thanks for sharing these tidbits about yourself. By the way, I made the cherry-walnut kulfi and the paneer korma from your recipes, and they were both superb.
    Is the dry coconut referred to in the garlic chutney recipe the same as "copra", or is it the dessicated coconut one finds in the regular supermarket? Or perhaps they are both the same thing??

  15. Thats a nice meme....and books are my world as well...nice knowing you

  16. Nice knowing you. I like Saki's Open Window too.

  17. Hi Nupur, I have been reading your blog for quite some time though this is the first time I am leaving a comment for you. I couldnt pass up on your love for South Asian authors. I for one, LOVE reading books by South Asian authors and have ready MANY MANY MANY in the last couple of years. I particularly love short stories collection. Send me your email address and I can send you many suggestions, though you may not enjoy all of them depending on your taste. No pun intended :)

    I for one havent read the two that you have mentioned here and I have immediately placed a hold on these in the library to pick up. Thanks.

  18. Suganya, I'm going to find that book!! Thanks :)

    Hima, looking forward to see what you preserve!

    Laavanya, LOVE Wodehouse, I was obsessed with him in high school! His work never fails to put me in a good mood.

    Musical, Sacks, RK Narayanan...just the best! I will look for Ledoux and Mulk Raj Anand :) Life of pi...somehow did not like that one. Thanks so much for sharing...we should exchange book reviews more often ;)

    Priya, thank you so much for delurking! Glad to know you are enjoying some Maharashtrian recipes :) Thank you SO much for reminding me of "Tiger Ladies". Her nephew is a friend of mine and had mentioned this book to me (she also has a cookbook written many years ago), and then it completely slipped my mind. Now I will make sure I go look for it.

    Padma, oh yes, bhakris...still have not reached the level where I can make bhakris :) hope you try this recipe, it is very tasty.

    Cinnamon, oh yes, O Henry has so many wonderful stories.

    Kamini, we must be! I do enjoy shopping for food, and also sometimes for "kitchen stuff" as I call it, but book shopping is torture of another sort...I want to buy EVERYTHING :) Thank heavens for public libraries, now I go and "shop" in the library.
    Glad the kulfi and korma worked out :) Thanks for letting me know! The desiccated coconut is "copra", the stuff in the regular store is usually sweetened and meant for desserts.

    Bhags, so what are your favorite books :) ??

    Jyothsna, Saki is another master of the short story!

  19. Nupur:
    Tmr is FRIDAY:))Happens with all of us, doesn't it?
    You should read Shantaram. It's a pretty huge book and I am not the type of person with so much patience. However, hubby finished and loved it.
    My personal favorites include Diary of Anne Frank and Not without my daughter by Betty Mehmoody. Can't recall more now.
    My bro can also juggle three balls:)
    Btw, this chutney is my all time fav. I just pictured a hot vada pav with lots of lasuni chutney.Yummy.

  20. Nupur, I want to come over next time you have "light supper"... please.......this whole post looks delicious! Like you, I prefer my books on the couch, preferably on a lazy, rainy day... and I am thoroughly in sympathy regarding that mannequin!!

    Campus Kitchen looks like a great place, perfect for that kind spirit of yours :)

  21. Thanx for trying the garlic chutney :) Next time even I will put sesame seeds, and jeera. The jeera must be giving a nice flavour, to the chutney.
    Liked your meme ,nice knowing you.Even I feel more comfortable at home :)

  22. Nupur,

    Nice to know about you, I love south asian writers too, If you haven't already read, try Inheritence of Loss by Kiran Desai beautiful book.

    Well I must say we both are on opposite sides when it comes to #5 & #6.

  23. Nupur,
    Also good to see so many recommendations in your comments, may be you can do a mini post on these suggested reads, will be very helpful.

    I for one cannot just pick a book at random and read, however if it is suggested I can't wait to get my hands on

  24. I too love Saki and O'Henry, but Indian authors I find tough to read. I've been wanting to read A Suitable Boy, but haven't gotten around to it. I did read the Interpreter of Maladies and while I would rate Lahiri among the better Indian authors, I did find the stories a little abrupt... even for short stories.

    I am going to make this chutney too... and eat it with vada pav which will be our feature of eating out while eating in during the weekend :-)

  25. Hi Nupur,

    I love Suitable Boy too! I reread it about a year ago and kept me going for 1 week with almost no sleep!

    I really enjoy S. Asian Diaspora books too, Bapsi Sidwa and Cracking India is a good one and I liked "life is not all ha ha hee hee" by Meera Syal and Smell by Radhika Jha

    I do however love to travel.. so cant agree with you on that one. :)

  26. It was so nice knowing about you Nupur! :) You seem to be an absolute relaxed kind of a person.

    Are you sure you don't like shopping! ;)

    And thanks for these lovely entries. :)

  27. good you did a meme Nupur..its nice to know you....and you can juggle?...thats good..

    I also love reading passion goes like this.

    Famous Five, Nancy Drew, and other boy girl detective stories

    Tintin, Asterix,..
    Medical Fiction like Robert Cook, PG Woodhouse books are some that I have read so many times..
    Mystery and Adventure....Basically I just love reading books..can go on and on....thanks for making me remember all those dont have time...:(


  28. Excellent meme Nupur! Your book reading habits has kindled my memories of reading books before I got kids. I used to grab my favorite book and pull my cot near the window and thats it...the whole world will dissappear ! me and my book alone will be there...Jugglingis simply great...wud love to see u doing it!

  29. Renuka, thank you so much for leaving a comment :) I would LOVE your suggestions on the books that you have enjoyed. Please do mail me, there is a link to my mail ID above my picture (right side-bar of the blog). Thanks!

    Swapna, I did read Shantaram but did not like it. Good to know your favorites!! yes, this chutney would be amazing with vada pav :)

    Linda, So, what are your favorite books? :)

    Archana, the chutney was sooo good! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe!

    Sreelu, thanks for the Kiran Desai reco, I'm going to look for it! I'm going to try and make a page for "favorite books". Like you, I love to get suggestions for books...otherwise, there are way too many put there.

    Raaga, I like Lahiri's stories...she often writes fiction for magazines like the New Yorker and I always enjoy them. Waiting to see your posting spree :) esp the vada pav ;)

    Mama Archana, I'm going to look for the Meera Syal book...have not gotten around to read it yet. I did read Smell and sort of liked it, although I thought it was quite disturbing.
    I know, everyone loves to travel, I am a mutant in that respect :D

    Coffee, Relaxed?? not so much. I'm pretty type A actually :) Have sent you the official MBP mail :) I enjoy your event so much!

    Srivalli, those childhood books bring back such memories! I think we were really lucky to grow up with books, rather than computer and video games.

    Nirmala, that is such a sweet memory!! Books are such a treasure!

  30. Hi Nupur,
    Though an ardent fan of your recipes, I have never left a comment on this blog..SOrry for that...
    It is nice to know about your reading hobby...You seem to be a person with lots of patience...
    Even I love reading books...any type, any author, give me a book and I will finish it with all interest. So, now I will look into the books you have referred in this post.

  31. Thanks for your reply Nupur. I'll try to comment more often now esp because I do enjoy your blog a lot and do try a lot of your recipes. Anyway, speaking of Jhumpa Lahiri, I did enjoy the Namesake- both the book and the movie. Other books I've enjoyed include 'Book of Esther' by Esther David (fascinating autobiography as well as history of Jews in India)and The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor (wow.. writing about the emergency and the Mahabharat together- so intelligent and brilliant- I love this one)
    Next time, I'll comment more on the recipes- promise:)
    Take care,

  32. That was a beautiful meme, Nupur. You don't like shopping, and traveling - how I love both! But I'm with you on the reading and short stories.

    For the lime squash - is peeled the limes using a very shar pregular peeler. The lemons were very fresh at the time so the skin was full of moisture and easy to peel...

  33. You know what..I am going to go thru all these comments in detail and add the books in my "Things to read" list:)btw, tried ur moogambat yest..Turned out awesome

  34. hey Nupur, loved the garlic chutney.
    from you meme, looks like you are a very different person. it was so nice to know about you.

  35. Hi! I'm so glad you stopped by my blog, because now I've found yours and indeed I am drooling all over my keyboard. I will be back for more!

  36. Thats a nice meme Nupur. My fav books so far(apart from hundreds of Kannada books), "Da Vinci code", "angels and demons"(by Dan Brown)... Two funniest book and the best ever ones I have read are "one night at call center" and "five point someone" by Chetan Bhagat.
    I was a huge fan of medical fiction by Robin cook. I used to read them a lot. Now when I go to hospitals, I really get scared sometimes :).

  37. great meme, Nupur! I am very interested in your work with Campus Kitchens! I looked up the site and it sounds like a great way to give back to the community and make friends with like-minded people. I am constantly amazed at how you find these opportunities!

    And lately, I've been wishing that I still lived in Chicagoland. I would have definitely made it to Kalyn's session where you are on the panel!

    The lemon pickle on the thali looks very good! Everything on that thali does, actually!!

  38. I didnt expect the garlic chutney in a powder form nupur but looks great. Surprised that u can juggle.
    Nice to know u thru ur meme.

  39. Meena, I hope you enjoy these books! Thanks for de-lurking :)

    Priya, I'm going to look for the Esther David book! Thanks for sharing more of your favorites :)

    Anita, my peeler sucks :) But your step-by-step recipe is such a gem! Do you know how much I love your blog, Anita? :)

    Swapna, Glad you liked the moogambat! I have not made that in a while...
    My list of books to read is ever-expanding too :D I am glad I wrote this post...good a lot of superb suggestions.

    Sharmi, not much different than anyone else :)

    Jade, I'm glad I found yours too! Your green tips are very useful...keep 'em coming :)

    Shilpa, I did enjoy the Dan Brown books too! I have to look for the Chetan Bhagat books...thanks for sharing that :)

    Manisha, I will write about Campus Kitchens as soon as A-Z is over...I want to put together a little recipe binder for them and am going to ask everyone for their input. It is an amazing place!
    I wish you lived in Chicago too! I would have loved to meet you, and maybe begged you to let me crash on your couch for the night ;) I am a little nervous about being on the panel :) I'm no expert on this.
    Your pickle is amazing! My parents ate it with every Indian meal that I served them, and Baba was amused and happy when I told him that Manisha taught me how to make it :)

    Prema, the garlic chutney stays for weeks if stored in a cool dry place! Glad you like it :)

  40. Thanks for the lime squash link ... SO good to be able to make it myself


  41. Oh the garlic chutney sounds good! I'm going to try that very soon... also the lime squash sounds wonderful. I think if I make that, I'll have to scale back the recipe a little! I don't have 20 kilos of limes like Anita does!

  42. Hi Nupur,
    I became a fan of your blog since I started reading it about a year ago. As for reading recos, I would like to suggest an excellent book I am reading right now (if you have'nt yet read it): The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. An excellent analysis of the modern American food chain, this book is a must-read for every foodie. Many of the issues he raises may not seem significant for vegetarians, but offers some excellent insights nevertheless. Hope you enjoy reading it.

  43. I can't believe that I didn't leave a comment here when you did the meme - i was so new to the blogosphere - pls forgive me :( Thanks for doing it!


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