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Cooking for Grandma

2014 September 30
by Shalini

Well, here I am at 100 posts! The subject of this one has never been in doubt.

While I have shared some thoughts in the past few years about how my maternal grandmother indulged and encouraged my love of cooking, I think this is the perfect time to reflect on some memories of her, away from her busy kitchen.


By the time I really became aware of my grandmother, Balia Mama, (Big Mama, as a cheeky older cousin had decided to address her, and we all followed suit) years of ill health had taken a toll on her physically. For all that delicious food she cooked to feed the hearty appetites of the extended family, she hardly seemed to eat anything herself at all. A piece of unbuttered toast and a cup of a nutritional drink like Sanatogen or Horlick’s. A cup of milky coffee with a Marie biscuit or two. The smallest portion of soup in the evenings. That seemed to be her diet.

It always made me a little sad to see her eating so frugally, while around her, the vast quantities of food she had prepared so lovingly, were polished off with great gusto. And yet, she was up the earliest in the household, on her feet all morning, with brief breaks to sit down and read the papers, or to sip some tea. She refused to sleep in the afternoons, sitting, instead, in a straight backed chair near the kitchen, catnapping a little before setting about preparing something for tea.

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Get cooking for Kail Podh: chop-chop!

2014 September 3
by Shalini

A year has flown by, and Kail Podh is here again.

What’s on the menu in my home? Well, the classic duo of pandi curry and kadambuttu has made way for something just a little lighter this time.

This delicious recipe for pork chops was shared by a friend. It doesn’t use the more traditional dark roasted spices used in pandi curry. It relies, instead, on the freshness of herbs along with just enough heat and spice to make it a year-round favourite.

Serve up with rice, kadambuttu or bread. This time I’ve chosen some lovely locally grown potatoes to accompany the chops.

Dish it up!

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Button up!

2014 August 23
by Shalini

Do you think of button mushrooms as “the boring ones”? Passing by the mushroom display at the farmers’ market in Vancouver, and admiring the cases of mushrooms – enoki, morel, oyster, shiitake, chantrelle, pine, lion’s mane, and so many more, I know how spoilt for choice I am.

I’m also reminded that I’m guilty, all too often, of passing over those little white button mushrooms in favour of other more exotic choices. I guess I have come to think of them as a little boring. They’re cheap and plentiful, and, as a result, often end up being used somewhat indifferently. It’s time to refresh my appreciation for the good old button!

Under the grill

Button mushrooms are something I associate with growing up in India, and it got me thinking of recipes, dating back to a time when they were generally considered a bit of a fancy ingredient. Of course, if the family happened to be in Coorg at the right time of year, we’d get to enjoy the wonderful wild mushrooms in season. Otherwise, living in a city, or tucked away in a small cantonment town, we were glad enough to have any fresh mushrooms at all.

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Berry cool ! Raspberry gazpacho

2014 July 28
by Shalini

It’s been a bit quiet on the kitchen front lately. Temperatures have been above average for much of the month, and looking at the carpets of leaves that have shrivelled and fallen from the trees, it could almost be a picture of autumn. But there’s definitely no nip in the air!

It’s been a time for salads and light meals that don’t involve spending too much time around a hot stove, unless it’s a summer barbecue.

A few more berries

Earlier this month, we were back at Collin Regehr’s farm, to collect some of his outstanding raspberry crop. As planned he has expanded his acreage, and we arrived there to find his family and friends at work, gathering the delicate berries before they wilted in the heat.

Returning home from the Fraser Valley with a haul of the best raspberries around, this was the perfect opportunity to try a cool raspberry gazpacho recipe from “Modernist Cuisine at Home“.

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It’s raining, it’s pouring … wild mangoes

2014 June 28
by Shalini

Just last month I was dreaming of being in India during the mango season again. Well, what do you know – I made it! The month of June has been filled with wonderful mangoes – Malgova, Benisha, Badam, Mallika, and, thanks to the recent European Union ban on import of Indian mangoes, the markets have been filled with lovely Alphonso’s too.

With something less than their usual lofty price tag, there was a lot more to enjoy. But the real bonanza came in the form of an amazing haul of wild mangoes that came my way from the homes and estates of friends.

Wild mangoes

From what I can tell, kaad maangé trees seem to fruit abundantly in alternate years, and it appears that this was a fruitful year.

With a choice of mangoes from five different trees, each with a unique flavour, I’ve had my fill of kaad maangé curry for the season.

There was, however, a recipe that I had wanted to try and recreate – one that my grandmother used to make. It was usually prepared with brined wild mangoes (uppukuttuh maangé) in a spiced buttermilk base. My mother’s description of this dish of sweet-salty mango eaten with mounds of steaming white rice is mouthwatering!

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