Location: A simple Indian home in the 90’s housing a calm, tolerant and mostly busy mother, a loving, indulgent father who never entered the kitchen or helped in any of the housework and three feisty spirited young girls with mind and tongues of their own.
Act 1: Pre Lunch preparation for some random guest.
Scene 1: Girls fighting for the sole spare burner in the hot messy kitchen of this noisy raucous house.
She: I need that kadai, you always try to take things that I need. Give it back, right now.
Me: I took it first, so I get to make my dish first.
She: You are so mean, the moment I said I want to make my curry now, you jump in with this crap. So Wicked!! Me(proving her point, with a wicked grin): Yes!! Need to be.. with irritating sisters like you!!
. . . More rumbling grumbling, a tug here and a pull there and finally mother’s discordant yell settles it. She wins. I get to use the burner when she is done. And I knew very well.. she will take her own sweet time to make that horrid spicy vegetable melange, the recipe of which she refuses to part with.
I seethed and fumed. Threw a fit and a fuss. Refused to do my bit and walked out sullenly to the comforts of my room. Blocking my ears with earphones and all that unbearable noise and camaraderie of sister-mother, I impatiently wait to be called by mother. Now this was routine.
Sisters, with not many years parting them, fight like cats and dogs. And whats also routine is, the dismissed child expecting to be appeased by the decisive parent. So, I waited.
Till mother comes to assuage, let me fill you in the workings of this mad house. We are three girls, young, noisy, controlling, fighting yet extremely loyal and always in support when we have to tackle the big bad world outside. And when we entertained we always helped. Helped in tidying up the house, though it was given to the youngest one – who didn’t have a choice but listen to two ruling prevailing sisters. Helped in the kitchen… gladly choosing our signature dishes( which by the way never changed) to cook and present to our esteemed guests :)
So mother makes what she usually makes best and that which requires massive effort and experience. I keep experimenting and trying something new every time and she, she cooks one curry, every time – for the next 5 years ;) Though, to be fair, that spicy masaledaar Vegetable curry had many takers and much appreciation, made me so resentful and envious that I would refuse to put a morsel of it in my mouth. Sigh! How immature you would say. Yes, I do agree. But we were teens waiting to be appreciated and admired at the drop of a hat. Well! no amount of slickness from me could get hold of the highly guarded formula either.
Well, several acts and scenes later, and of course not to forget, age, marriage and kids later, we behave like how sisters ought to behave :) Like real ladies.
Bridges shortened, holes mended and love reignited, we now switch ideas in managing work, house and kids, not to forget over-grown babies called husbands. And of course we swap recipes :)
And for that spicy masaaledar vegetable kadai, which I so vehemently dismissed as Horrid!! In truth, every bite was relished albeit far from the sisters prying eyes. So when I made it a point to feature on my blog and asked for the recipe, It was no surprise that a wonderful detailed mail waited for me, along with exhortative suggestions to do some mean photography with her prized signature dish!
Kadai Vegetable is a fiery mix of of vegetables simmered in a thick delicious gravy. Ideally the entire dish is made in an hard iron thick bottomed kadai or a wok, hence the typical name.
- 1 1/2 cups diced vegetables ( par boiled) – I used carrot, beans, potatoes, cauliflower and peas
- 1 capsicum, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 chopped tomato
- 1/4 cup diced paneer – optional
- 2-3 tbsp of cream – if need arises
- ginger julienne and coriander leaves to garnish
- Dry masala : 1-11/2 tsp red chilli powder 1 tsp coriander or dhania powder 1/2 tsp cumin or jeera powder 1/2 tsp garam masala 1/4 tsp turmeric or haldi powder 1/4 tsp pepper powder 1/2 tsp saunf or fennel seeds 2 tsp of khus khus or poppy seeds 6-7 cashewnuts
- Wet masala: 1 handful of coriander leaves 1 tsp ginger garlic paste 3 tbsp curds 2 tbsp of cream 1/4 tsp sugar
- In a wok or kadai, dry roast all the dry ingredients for a couple of minutes till they become fragrant. Remove and keep aside to cool. Grind the wet ingredients and keep aside. Once the dry ingredients are cooled, grind to a fine powder. In the kadai, heat a tbsp of oil, and shallow fry onions and capsicum. Remove and keep aside. In the same wok, throw in the dry masala and roast for less than a minute. Add wet ingredients and sauté till oil leaves sides. Add chopped tomato and sauté for a couple of minutes. Finally add cooked vegetables, onion, capsicum and paneer. Give it a nice boil. Flavour with salt. If the gravy is thick or spicy, add milk or cream accordingly. Garnish with coriander leaves chopped and thinly sliced ginger. Serve with hot chappathis, rotis, naan, rice or bread.
You can add any vegetable of your choice, although gourds don’t really taste in this kind of gravy.
A bit of paneer or cottage cheese makes this dish richer.
Alter the spices according to your level of heat
We always had a bowl of yoghurt with this kind of lunch, it helps beat the heat!!
I soon realise the recipe is pretty simple and not at all time consuming. So when I wondered aloud to her as to why would she ever take so long in prepping this simple dish, her smug replies leave me wanting to bite her head off!!! Sisters I tell you.. wicked bunch they are!
Taking sister’s signature dish to lovely Angie’s weekly visual potluck – Friday Feista, #63. Peek in to see some great delicacies. Hope they like it!