Kadai Vegetable, Restaurant Style

Quintessential Kadai Vegetable

Quintessential Kadai Vegetable

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.

Complete Meal

Complete Meal

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!

Restaurant style gravy

Restaurant style gravy

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.

Easy alternative to paneer

Easy alternative to paneer

The recipe:

Ingredients

    • 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
Thats pretty much all you need.

Thats pretty much all you need.

Method

      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.
Julienne ginger and green chili garnish - typically North Indian

Julienne ginger and green chili garnish – typically North Indian

Note:
You can add any vegetable of your choice, although gourds don’t really taste in this kind of gravy.

Note:
A bit of paneer or cottage cheese makes this dish richer.

Note:
Alter the spices according to your level of heat

Note:
We always had a bowl of yoghurt with this kind of lunch, it helps beat the heat!!

Ideal For Sunday Fiestas

Ideal For Sunday Fiestas

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!

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Atishaya’s Olympics

Bush of thick dark hair, supple agile structure, playful demeanor, wonder filled inquisitive eyes and a warm easy smile to go with. This is Atishaya. All of five, sensitive and innocence writ large on his face.

Atishaya is my friend’s son. I am extremely fond of this little monkey and when my kid and he meet, they are like a house on fire. So mischievous, noisy and what fun!

This year Atishaya turned 5. His mother Sonal, an anxious mum of two, turned down the kids wish for a party. Too much work, too little time and all the planning arranging headache didn’t quite appeal to this harried mother. But friends and family stepped in to help with the celebrations, assuring her that all would be well, she just needs to have a little faith. And my! did all go well ..?!!

Birthday Boy

Birthday Boy

A SPORTS themed birthday party seemed apt for the occasion. Atishaya and his friends are a riot when together. So to add fun and some decorum to the disorder, we decided to play mock Olympics, where little kids can move all that they want and be merry at the same time. Now that sounds like a fun idea.. doesn’t it.

You would think, all the trivialities and detailing costs a bomb, but hell no! The execution was concentrated to a tight budget and well… all good things in life are usually free or cheap… usually 🙂

Lets start with the invites:

Sonal, got these postcard sized printed invites, a smiley ball, along with a handful of confetti and few candies – all in a Ziploc pouch. They looked neat and easy to hand over. Around 15-17 kids were invited, along with the mothers.

The colorful invite.

Kids get a small treat before the party has even started… cool right?!!

Now for the D day, we organized the Olympics to be done in their society garden. Just a common area to play, so no charge or special permission was required.

The lovely family.

The lovely family.

15 kids does not seem like a big number, but it did apprehend both Sonal and me. We underestimate our administrating capabilities where impish 5 year olds (boys especially) are concerned. Thus, Ami was roped in to play anchor.

Ami is a great girl, with such a loud voice that we would never need microphones or speakers around her. She commands silence and civility from boisterous boys… and gets it! Commendable. I scream myself hoarse and not one kid bothers to even look up. So, Ami’s innate adroitness compels me to bend like a japanese in front of her – always.

The Opening Ceremony

All the kids assembled in the garden in a big circle. The chief guest of the occasion(Atishaya.. guys! who else?)was placed in the middle along with his family. We then left a few balloons up in the air, declaring the games ‘OPEN'(It’s the kids Olympics.. what do ya expect!!?)

Declaring the Games Open.

Declaring the Games Open.

We had 5 games:

  • Hurdle Race
  • Hula Hoop
  • Basket the Ball
  • Lemon n Spoon Race for mothers
  • Fastest Pictures First, for both mothers and kids.

Hurdle Race

For this, the hurdles were take home treats for the little ones.
Bags, a bottle, sticker, bubble can and a whistle were placed at regular intervals, and the kids made to run in batches of 5. They had to bag the little goodies that came their way and reach the finishing line.
The breeze particularly high that day, was flying away our little gifts… so mothers were made to stand and hold the little things in place. And when Ami blew the whistle, Boys and Girls ran like lightning BOLT(:)) to the finishing line.

Racing for the little gifts.

Racing for the little gifts.

Hula Hoop

Well, Since this is the Olympics with a twist, we played with the Hula Hoop but in a slightly altered form.
Asking the kids to pass the hoop over them countable number of times in a span of 30 seconds was pure fun. The child with the maximum number of passes wins the game. With the rest of the kids cheering for the bull in the ring, twas getting noisier and uproarious.

workout for kids:)

workout for kids:)

Basket the Ball

This is a no brainer. We’ve all tried to pass the ball into that elusive basket at one point of time in our lives. But for 5 year olds, this was great play, all clamoring, fighting and bickering for a first chance. Again, Ami’s skills came into play.

Young Michael Jordans.

Young Michael Jordans.

Using a stand, replete with the basket and a perfect little mock basketball was joy not only for kids but the elders as well. We all tried a hand. Few could and few could not. But fun and merriment, nevertheless.

We wanna try too.

We wanna try too.

Break Time

After an hour of play and games in the sunny afternoons( Mumbai gets hot even in the evenings), the kids needed a breather. We distributed small/light snacks to replenish the energy drained little ones. A sandwich, few Oreos and an orange drink (packed neatly in individual bottles) was enough to get their groove back.

Kids boost their stamina

Kids boost their stamina

chatter, chatter, munch, munch...

chatter, chatter, munch, munch…

Lemon and Spoon Race

While the kids ate, we had a few games for the mothers as well.
This age-old humble lemon and spoon race is one which can never go out of times. Spoon tightly shut in mouth, with a lemon precariously balanced on the spoon, hands strictly by the side, you are expected to finish the race, without the lemon falling.
Its great practice for wannabe models, and oh! did we discover new models on that day?!

See.. how carefully they tread.

See.. how carefully they tread.

Fastest Pictures First

A wonderful twist to the famous treasure hunt, this was the show stealer.
3 teams of 5 mothers and their respective kids were made. Each team was required to get 15 pictures( banking on the fact, that all have mobile phone cameras these days). Clues were given and according to the clues, photographs had to be clicked and saved. the team which finishes first with all 15 pictures, wins the game. Simple, no?

A sample of the clue list:

List of picture to be taken.

List of picture to be taken.

The teams rushed out to do the needful. They were all over the premises. Posing, clicking, checking and re checking, the mothers went all out and enjoyed the game.

Supercool and really sportive mommies.

Supercool and really sportive mommies.

Girls just wanna have fun.

Girls just wanna have fun.

The Prize Distribution Ceremony

Yea folks. We had this one too. Replete with real medals and laminated certificates. The mad hunt for the gold medals and all that hard work for these chic looking certificates… so worth it!

Shiny smiley medals and mock certs which look sooo real!

Shiny smiley medals and mock certs which look sooo real!

The super happy kids felt sooooo proud to receive an honour each. It was sheer pleasure for Sonal and Atishaya to distribute the tokens of achievement to tiny tots. Little ones raced up to collect the laurels at the call of their names.

Little kids with big honours!

Little kids with Big Honours!

Party Time!

At the end of a playful, gaming, competitive day, what do the Olympians do? Party guys, Party!
Once back home, the conviviality began.
Atishaya loves to dance. He likes to twist and turn and rock and roll to the latest hits and chart busters. Catering to the birthday boy’s final wish, there was lots of music, masti and dance. Ami turned choreographer( the girl’s multi talented) and Uncle Raja played DJ. The kids danced till their legs hurt and were hungry enough for cake and food.

They just can't stop dancing.

They just can’t stop dancing.

A pair of good quality Badminton Racquets in attractive varied colors were given as party favours. So along with the little hurdles, medals, certificates and now these great looking badminton racquets, the kids felt so loaded!!:)

Return Gifts

Return Gifts

The grand Finale

The cake is this rich dutch truffle in the shape of a football, in due accordance with the theme. The birthday boy fresh in his best clothes and a smile that you could not wipe out.

Happy Birthday Dear Atishaya

Happy Birthday Dear Atishaya

Just 2 week back, Sonal had thought of it as impossible but now candles alit, family and friends gathered around and Loads of blessings and happy faces. It’s too good to be true, she says.

3 cheers for everyone who chipped in. Hip Hip Hurray!

A kind note:

2 and a half months and 50 posts later, I feel the need to thank all my friends, foodies and beloved readers. This post is my 50th. For me its a milestone reached.

When I started this blog, I had very few hopes. Not knowing what I was getting into, wary of joining the blog bandwagon but momentarily…. with all fears dashed, I just dived in. Well, I am nowhere near a swimmer in the blog pool but I am trying.

I write about food, I write about interesting anecdotes in daily life, I write about my phenomenal daughter, I write about small events/parties which I immensely enjoy, I write about Life and I love what I do.

Thank you, for visiting, reading, appreciating and leaving wonderful comments. It’s always motivating to see a like/comment/critique. And its only because of you, dear reader, I am thoroughly enjoying my sojourn as a blogger.

So don’t stop hitting that like button and keep the comments coming.

Love to all,
Namrata

Milee’s 6th Birthday

The month of March is usually a flurry of activities. Lot of planning, organizing and shopping. Its been like this for the past 6 years. March is the month when my daughter was born. We celebrate it like a religion, with such a fervent zeal, that even the simplest act of cutting a cake, becomes elaborate. By religion, I don’t mean, we go overboard. Just simple excitement, happy faces and the abundant blessings is all that we wish to give Milee.

But amidst all this, the fact of the matter is I “love” to plan my kid’s birthday! I love the detailing, the fancies, the themes, the challenge to do something wonderful in a limited budget. And I capitalize the fact that Milee is still small, she will indulge me in my bizarre ideas and excitement. A few years later, the kid is not gonna listen, and most probably banish me from planning and entering her parties(according to the ever optimistic husband of mine). So, might as well, use her age and my child like spirit to plan the day that will remain etched with us forever.

Birthday Girl.

Birthday Girl.

This year Milee’s birthday fell on a friday, but we decided to celebrate the occasion on Sunday, the 31st. So, on her real birth day, we spent the day with Milee doing what she likes best. That is goofying around, avoiding the milk and all the healthy stuff, getting our hands dirty in sand, building castles on the beach and up in the air. Licking an ice candy… called “Gola” is her most favorite thing in the world. So we let her be. I baked a rich Chocochip cake for her, which looked like a dud, but tasted absolutely divine. Lastly, we exchanged stories, secrets and dreams, after which she hit the sack. That was her special day spent with us.

Birthday at the beach.

Birthday at the beach.

For the 31st, sunday, we zeroed in on a Little Chef Party. By “we”, I mean, Milee and me. When and how the germ of this idea incorporated itself in my head, I have no idea, but I fervently wanted to start.

I have great people around me – FACT.
Husband, parents, siblings, friends — all give in to my idiosyncrasies, humor me with their exceptional patience and love. So, banking on their undying support and excitement invading my body, mind and soul, I set to work:)

The Invites:

Since the birthday celebration was to be at home, I had to be careful with number of invites. In India, let it be a wedding or a birthday, we have too many people to call. And truly, I feel real bad leaving out anyone who has been remotely good to my kid. But the line had to be drawn somewhere. So, we had 30 kids and almost 20 adults attending the do! I had no idea how I would squeeze or manage so many in a match box of a Mumbai home. But we still went ahead.

Small Cupcake motifs, with the details of the party on the inside were handmade by Milee and me. Though the result was not professional, we both agreed on the personal touch the card exhibited. On the day of the distribution, I made bite sized cupcakes, and attached the invites to the cake using a toothpick. Then Milee and me went around distributing them. It was fun.

Pictures

The Decorations:

The husband was rushed and made to work like a low wage laborer. But the usually grumpy guy did it anyhow. Dad’s do almost anything for their daughters. The table, the balloons, the placards were hung from the ceiling, precariously standing on a rickety ladder. The mumbling – grumbling of the laborer was falling on deaf ears 🙂 Looking down at 2 pairs of wide, innocent angelic eyes was enough to melt the extra tough leathery heart. The job was fabulous. I assured the geek turned drudge, if he ever lost his consultancy, another option was easily available. The joke went unappreciated.

We had 6 counters:

  • Hat making
  • Fondue Bar
  • Sandwich Area
  • Pizza Making
  • Salad Bar
  • Cupcake Corner
The Decorations

The Decorations

A word about my fabulous friends. I unabashedly took help from my pals. They were required to handle a counter each, and give their superlative service to the incoming little master chefs. Smiling faces, helping hands and enormous patience was their mantra on the D day. They were at their marvelous best. I could not have done it without you guys.

A sneak peek into little chefs, complete with their aprons and hats. They all looked adorable and perfect little cooks.

Little monkeys turn into cute chefs.

Little monkeys turn into cute chefs.

The Chef Hat making Counter

A young girl with this colossal fortitude in dealing with kids is my friend. Yay!! Apt for her part to be with children to help them draw and decorate their chef hats. She joked, she laughed, she helped, she stole all my kids hearts. Making these wonderful make believe hats from paper to balance on little heads was no easy task for this maiden. The kids badgered her with their never ending demand for colors and designs, but she tackled them all. Hats off to you Ayushi!

Chef Hats in Making.

Chef Hats in Making.

The Fondue Bar

Rich creamy chocolate and a saucy herbed cheese dip is all that you need to make little kids go nuts.
With accompaniments like potato wafers, bread croutons, sponge cake, creamed wafers, marshmallows and fruits, the kids went all out to dip their treat into a slow burning pot of their favorite sauce! Apurva was given the task of the fondue section. Since the fondue idea appealed to the young eager antsy lads and lasses, they wouldn’t give a breather to the girl. This young mother to a 7 year old(although she looks more like a child herself), braved the onslaught. Tactfully she gave them all a chance to chip and dip!

Cheese and Chocolate... what more could a kid ask for!

Cheese and Chocolate… what more could a kid ask for!

The Sandwich Counter

Green mint chutney, Creamy Cheese Spread and mixed fruity jam was not enough for kids to try their hands at making sandwiches. Sonali, a very dear helpful friend, tried all her antics to appeal to the young. Gently helping the kids smear their desired cream on tiny triangles of brown bread, Sonali was at her supreme best. A few older kids did try, and liked the result.
Milee, ever open to try anything and everything, made a go at the sandwiches, and guess what!? She made many more after one!! Sonali, I am every ready to try the amazing sandwiches you make.

Few takers for this one.

Few takers for this one.

The Pizza Stall

My 3 a.m friend, Sonal, helped me with this one. She stood like a rock there, encouraging the kids to prepare these tiny coin pizzas, replete with a yummy pizza sauce, some corn and grated mozzarella. Kids love pizzas, so they wanted to devour the little treat without baking!! It took gentle persuasion from Sonal to take the coins back, bake them and then let them satiate their pizza pangs. Good job Girl!

Our very own Pizza Corner.

Our very own Pizza Corner.

The Salad Bar

Ha! Salads? and Kids?? HAHAHA!
Trust me it was not supposed to be a joke. Boiled corn, boiled chickpeas, boiled diced potatoes, some lime juice, chaat masala and salt, was enough to make a yummy salad like thing — or so I thought. Well, needless to say, the salad counter was pretty placid. No rush, no pushing, no pulling, no screams, no screeches. The stall was managed like a dream. Ya, this was a joke.
Poor Pooja, I put her in charge of helping kids whip up a tasty yummy salad. But not many wanted to eat. The ever hopeful girl beckoned the little ones with an extra dash of humour, jokes and clownish antics! A few came, they saw and they left without conquering. Resilient Pooja still stuck till the end of the game. Gold medal for her tenacity.

kids cook up a salad.

kids cook up a salad.

The Cupcake Counter

Even Before the counter went live, it was a hit!! Kids refused to budge. They wanted to ice, top and eat away. Khushi Harwani of Joy Box fame is my friend and neighbor. Lucky Me!! She gladly obliged to help out with the cupcake counter. She made these amazing bite size cupcakes. Brought her own frosting tubes, and an array of beautiful toppings in stars, silver balls, sprinklers, edible hearts and what not. The kids went berserk! They went all out. Khushi was mildly amused and highly flattered. A quiet sweet girl, she smiled her way through the scenario of dealing with sugared hyper kids. The counter was the most successful, and the cupcakes were iced super quick.

We took the cupcakes back, so that they would accompany the main cake. I am so proud of the little ones, they gave it back readily, though with a heavy heart.

Cupcakes were a hit!

Cupcakes were a hit!

So, finally with all the stalls visited and little chefs cooking like a pro… here’s a peek at their creations:

Delish.....

Delish…..

Game Time

Done with the cooking part, the little ones assembled in our living room for some games.
Organized by dear husband and executed with the help of my loud, boisterous, golden hearted friend, Surabhi.
The games instantly caught on. We gave all kids a bunch of twisties/pipe cleaners, and asked them to make any edible thing. It amazed us with the stuff they came up with! soon, parents were also helping and enjoying. Jelabi, onion rings, noodles, 3 tier cakes, banana, sunflower oil…. were some of their creations!

Surabhi’s superlative performance to get all the kids to sit ( its a big deal to make a kid sit in one place!.. really.) and complete the given task is commendable. She was funny, clownish and extremely entertaining. The kids did whatever she asked them to do. She had some pretty neat tricks up her sleeve. Well done.

Creative kids.

Creative kids.

My friends and me started prepping the cake and getting the dinner ready, so, till then the kids had to be kept occupied. So what better than some music and dance! Time to remove the chef hats and put on some dancing shoes. Grooving to the latest hindi music, and husband playing DJ, Surabhi as dummy choreographer, the kids had a whale of a time!

Dancing kids.

Dancing kids.

Time to cut the birthday cake. The main attraction was prepared by Khushi( of JoyBox ). She made a perfect kiddie colorful cake, replete with kitkat fencing and topped full with gems/Mnm’s. The cake was drool worthy, and kids fought and clamoured for a first bite.

Happy Birthday dear Milee.

Happy Birthday dear Milee.

The return gifts were Aprons( as you must have noticed on the kids), and a cookbook. The cookbook was my mum’s idea, she encouraged me to write and compile some easy kiddie recipes, which later I got printed from a local printer. The cookbook advises and encourages the mother to let their kids enter the kitchen and help them with culinary tit bits.

Chef Party Return Gifts.

Chef Party Return Gifts.

So, finally the day went by like a dream. One thing that stuck with me for a long time was, how everyone readily came forward to help. willingly, smilingly, I did not even have to ask. It was such a personal affair, with relatives, guests, friends all collaborating and leaving no stone unturned to make the kids happy. Thank You.

All the arrangements, the prepping, the decorations, the hosting, the entertaining, the beautiful fabulous helpful people around me, Milee smiling, what more could I ask for?!

Dreamy Day.

Dreamy Day.