Crispy Chickpea Polenta


India is a land of storytellers! From the religious stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata to the ancient Indian collection of animal fables Panchatantra, we grew up listening to various stories as kids. My grandma used to tell me stories about India's independence movement; how people would come out and throw their gold ornaments on the streets as a donation for the freedom fighters. She would tell me about her early years with her husband, and how her life changed when she became a widow in her twenties in a society which had no place for widows. She had a way to explain things to my young mind, and with her words she could take me to a different world as if I was traveling back in … [Read more...]

Kale and Chickpea Stew


“If you’re a bird, I’m a bird.” - Ryan Gosling, The Notebook Hello again from Canada! I have flown back half way around the globe back in my little nest tucked away in a valley we call Vancouver. After my all-senses-on-overdrive trip to India, this nest on the 20th floor in a high-rise building overlooking the mountains and a lake makes me feel like a monk in meditation. This not hearing a sound for hours, no one asking me if I was hungry yet, no neighbours knocking on my door to ask for some sugar - this is going to take some getting used-to! My travels in India involved a lot of time spent traveling by road. I ended up eating a lot of street foods and restaurant meals, all prepared … [Read more...]

Buckwheat Salad with Chanterelle & Blueberries


It is my last week in India and I am so grateful I got to celebrate Diwali and the Hindu New Year with my family. India has changed so much in the past 20 years, sometimes it's hard to believe this is the same country I grew up in! From cell phones to luxury cars, from McDonald's to Subway sandwiches, the western brands are part of the daily lives. The way India has evolved is even more visible during the festival season - long gone are the simple fire crackers my mom used to give us bundled up in her handkerchief. Exotic fireworks are now imported from China. The homemade sweets are replaced by Hershey's and Godiva chocolates. Change is the only constant in life, and there is nothing … [Read more...]

Red Cabbage Salad – Soaking in the Colors of India!


In one of my posts earlier, I wrote about how in India it always smells like something. Now that I am actually here, I am realizing that it's not just your nose that has to work overtime - India puts all your senses in overdrive! Your ears are bombarded with sounds every minute of the day, your mind with fears and joys that you hadn't experienced in a long time and most of all, your eyes are soaking in colors from every direction. True to my promise, I have been spending a lot of time out in villages. I am not talking about cowboys with GPS systems and iPods here, I am talking about villages where electricity is available a couple of hours a day, and people who don't know what the … [Read more...]

Fenugreek and Yellow Moong Salad


Ever since I called the western world my home about 14 years ago, my visits back to India start out with me being paraded around like a show pony in front of all my extended family. I am not talking 4-5 homes here, the first 7-10 days are assigned to this ritual. This is to show all my uncles and aunties and 40-some cousins that I am in good health and doing well for myself. Each one of these visits starts out with my parents asking me to put on my nice jewelry and getting all dolled up. The visits generally involve me eating samosas, ice cream, and rich home-made specialities - in no particular order. During one of these visits, I got to visit our ancestral house where four generations of … [Read more...]

Vegetable Curry – Visiting Unpredictable India!


It has been over 3 years since I visited my homeland, India. India! It evokes so many contradicting emotions in me. The cultures, colors, smells, people, animals, foods and life in general - India can be overwhelming to many visitors, and sometimes even Indians. Most visitors and travellers marvel at Taj Mahal or Kutub Minar but I have always thought that India's beauty rests not in those famous monuments, but in the unpredictable chaos that is daily life. To promote tourism, the government of India had launched a campaign called "Incredible India" a few years ago, but I think "Unpredictable India" would have been more suitable because one has to learn to celebrate the uncertainties and … [Read more...]

Chocolate Tart


I was reading the statistics about vegetarianism and I wasn't surprised that India had the lowest rate of meat consumption in the world. India is the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism - the most prominent religions advocating vegetarianism. I grew up in a vegetarian family and didn't eat any meat till I was in my 20s, well after I married Anup. Eating meat was such a foreign concept to us; we didn't even know people who ate meat. Once every winter, when the weather got cold enough and when the stars were perfectly aligned, my dad would ask my mom to make omelettes at home. Omelette making was a covert operation because god forbid if our equally strict vegetarian neighbors found … [Read more...]

Buckwheat Salad


The word salad invokes a lot of old memories - most of them unpleasant. For a country which boasts the lowest meat consumption rate in the world, India surprisingly lacks salads in their meals. In fact, I don't remember ever eating a salad as a meal in India. I think this has something to do with Indian families trying to stretch the meal budgets; making a curry out of the vegetables allowed us to eat other cheaper carbs with that curry. So we would have smaller portions of the vegetable dish, what we called Subzi, and pair it with roti bread or rice. My mom would occasionally slice up an onion or carrots if they were about to go bad, but I wouldn't call that a salad by a long shot. Salads … [Read more...]

Tomato Soup


"You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day. Unless you are too busy. Then you should sit for an hour." - Old Zen Adage It has been sunny for the past few weeks which is unusual because it tends to rain here so much all year round. It was a beautiful summer morning in Vancouver today, we woke up to the sound of two pigeons cooing on our patio! Anup is a morning person and he generally is the first one to get out of bed and make our morning tea. What a sweet hubby! I am not the princess type, but if you saw us in the morning you would think I was the queen! I have to be coaxed out of the bed. The aromas of mint and ginger tea on the stove definitely … [Read more...]

Cabbage and Summer Squash Salad


You can tell a lot about a family by observing what their daily meals look like. If you saw my family's meals in India for example, you would know that our family valued health and ease of cooking over taste. You would also know that we were creatures of habit - my mom would make certain things on specific days of the week, and there was logic to the whole schedule. She would make khichari, a simple rice and daal porridge cooked together in a pressure cooker, on Friday night. She will knowingly make more so she could use the leftover khichari as breakfast on Saturday, the day she had to leave for work early in the morning. If a dish could be prepared in less than 15 minutes, it was on the … [Read more...]