May 12, 2009

The year that went by...

A big Hi to the blog world after a very long time. Before I start chattering on my blog, a huge Thanks to all my blog friends and readers who visited the blog from time to time and kept sending their best wishes! Friends, it is because of your inspiration that I am writing these words now:)

I had signed off from my dear blog in the end of year 2007 with promises to blog after coming to India. But honestly, thinking back on the past year - 2008, I don't know when it started and when it got over. We came back to India in Dec 2007 and the next one month went in settling down, meeting friends and relatives, and getting the house in shape. I started working in Feb and was blessed to be part of a superb office with a huge female gang. We spent hours in gossiping, exchanging tales about our past, present, and future, and sharing cooking and shopping tips. Ofcourse, we worked when we had time:).(just kidding)

We decided to renovate the house a little bit and that took another two months. I didn't have an Internet connection all this while. Around April, we discovered that I was pregnant. Our lives changed after we saw those two purple lines:) I used to wonder how females wait patiently for nine months. But I was wrong. Time just flew. I spent majority of my time in office. The rest would go in managing the house, buying grocery, paying bills. Cooking took a backseat in all this. I was happy that I was doing well in my career.

On a beautiful afternoon in December, we were blessed with a baby girl. Her name is Sayali. It's a delicate, beautiful flowers' name.

I have been lurking on all my favorite blogs from time to time. I have missed a lot of exciting blog events, and I am excited to get back to blogging. It’s going to be a bit challenging to manage blogging with a baby, but I am hoping to post a couple of recipes in the next few months.
Happy Blogging!

Dec 27, 2007

Bye bye kitchen

As everyone around the world is gearing up to bid farewell to 2007, I am gearing up to bid farewell to a lot of things that mattered in this year. After staying in US for 1.5 years, we are going back tomorrow to India forever. That means saying bye to dear friends, this apartment, and most importantly my kitchen that produced all the recipes featured on Swad. I still remember the day we shifted into this apartment and I had made my first list of things to buy. It was fun setting up a kitchen and buying all the pots, pans, spoons, and gadgets. I had not carried anything from India and had to buy everything here. I loved visiting shops such as Bed, Bath, and Beyond and Linen and Things. I could have spent an entire day looking at items in the kitchen section. I remember my trips to the local library. I would spend hours looking at cook books to make special dishes for some event or another and carry home arm loads of books. I remember the last minute trips to grocery stores before the deadline of some blogging event. I remember making lists for grocery shopping keeping in mind I needed to buy apples for AFAM or something else for JFI. Mostly, I remember learning to use new gadgets that I had not used earlier. There's a good possibility that if we hadn't come to US I would not have taken so much interest in cooking and never started this blog. The success of Swad is due to this kitchen. I am going to miss it terribly. I still remember the day I decided to start my blog. It has been a great journey from that day. Here's a photo of the kitchen that inspired me to blog:

Nupur is hosting a lovely event,the Best of 2007. 2007 was definitely the best year for me. I started blogging this year. My dependent visa did not allow me to work but I utilized my free time in a lot of things that I always wanted to do. I pursued my hobbies, took cake decorating classes and bead jewelry classes, did voluntary work, and devoured lots of delicious home-made food. Coming back to the event, here are the winner dishes/moments on Swad:

  1. The award for the most innovative recipe goes to...Idli Manchurian. Nupur's A-Z event of Indian vegetables had really got us thinking every week. Everyone wanted to do something different and it was great learning so many dishes that you can cook a using a single vegetable. Of course, some letters were challenging. I came up with Idli Manchurian for the letter I. The dish turned out great.

  2. The award for writing a post that came straight from the heart goes to...Weaving friendship through cranberry nut upside down muffins. Bee and Jai sent the Amish friendship starter packed with love. Their affection and the lovely muffins resulted in writing a post that came straight from my heart. Some times the words just flow and you don't have to think about what you will write next. This was one such post.

  3. The award for a simple dish that turned out great...Green peas with lovage seeds. Even if it contains very few and basic ingredients this vegetable tastes great.

  4. The award for the proudest dish and post on Swad goes to...A taste of Maharashtra. RCI Maharashtra made me nostalgic and brought back memories of all lovely Maharashtrian dishes. If I had to define Maharashtrian food, I would sum it up as Zunka Bhakar. Of course, the attempt at making bhakris was disastrous and so I made mini bhakris. The zunka turned out just as I like it..zanzaneet, meaning fiery hot.

  5. The dish that I had most fun making is: Puran poli. Trupti's cooking with family and friends event was great. My friend had invited us for a treat of puran poli and we all gathered and made them together. While one group was making dough and rolling small chapatis, another was filling it and rolling out chapatis, and a third group was frying the puran polis. I took loads of snaps of each step and truly enjoyed cooking with friends.

  6. The award for one dish that I made from a fellow blogger and turned out superb definitely goes to...Tee's Microwave Besan Ladoos. I remember spending an hour last Diwali trying to fry the damn besan. I was sweaty, irritated, frustrated, my arms started aching, but the besan still wouldn't let out any aroma. When I saw Tee's recipe, I decided to give it a try. The ladoos were ready in 15 minutes without any hassle and tasted superb. I have named these ladoos 'Quick, hassle-free, arm pain free microwave besan ladoos'. Thanks Tee for this amazing recipe.

Any cooking resolutions for 2008? Definitely. One resolution is to blog regularly. I am hoping to post atleast one recipe per week. Second resolution is to try a lot of different cuisines. Majority of the dishes I have cooked in 2007 are Punjabi and Marathi. I want to try out a lot of different spices, cuisines, and techniques.

Swad will now go on a blogging break as I move back to India, settle into our apartment there, set up my kitchen, find a job, and get my Internet connection. There's a lot to be done but I will be excited to start blogging again.

I have hardly 4-5 cook books. It will be great if you suggest good books that I can buy for my new kitchen. Many thanks to all of you for visiting Swad. Your suggestions, feedback, and comments give me inspiration and energy to try out different dishes.

Here's wishing all of you a very Happy New Year!

Dec 4, 2007

Daily Daal

Most of us might have grown up with memories of Shammi Kapoor's songs and weird dances. One of his hit songs that is a classic antakshari favorite is "Baar baar dekho, hazaar baar dekho, ye dekhne cheez hai hamara dilruba..Taliiiiiiiiiiii hooooooooo". Ofcourse, when I was a kid I didn't understand the meaning of the song and often confused Tali with Daal:)) I mean I never heard the song correctly and used to wonder why he's praising the daal. Now, why did I remember this song today? That's because it's time to send in your entries for JFI: Toor Daal hosted by the enthusiastic blogger Linda.

One popular dish in any Marathi home is Varan Bhaat. Toor daal is pressure cooked and boiled after adding salt and a pinch of turmeric powder. The combination of varan bhaat toop loncha (Daal Rice Ghee Pickle) is delicious and comforting. The recipe below is a great variation to the varan. Chopped onion and tomatoes are added and cooked along with the toor daal. The mixture is then tempered with a common spices and chillies. After making this daal for the first time, I stopped making the traditional varan. I was not very fond of eating rice on a daily basis, until I discovered this daal.

Daily Daal

Serves: 3-4

(I have tweaked the recipe from Sanjeev Kapoor's Simply Vegetarian)


  1. 1/2 cup pigeon pea split(toovar daal or toor daal)
  2. 1 medium onion - finely chopped
  3. 1 tomato - chopped fine
  4. 2-4 cloves Garlic - peeled and chopped fine
  5. 2 green chillies
  6. 8-10 curry leaves
  7. Few sprigs of fresh coriander leaves
  8. 2-3 whole red chillies
  9. Salt to taste
  10. 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  11. 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  12. 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds or methi
  13. Pinch of asafoetida
  14. Oil


  1. Wash and soak toor daal in one cup of water for an hour. Add the chopped onions and tomatoes and pressure cook the daal (2-3 whistles). Once done, mash the daal slightly with a spoon.
  2. Remove stems, wash, and slit green chillies. Break red chillies into two. Clean, wash, and finely chop coriander leaves.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, asafoetida, red chillies, garlic. Fry for about 30 secs. Add green chillies, curry leaves and fry again.
  4. Now, add the cooked daal, 1/4 cup water, and salt to taste. Mix well and let it boil.
  5. Serve hot.

Verdict: Try it and tell me. Pair this hot daal with steaming plain white rice and mix up some mango pickle. I am off to Las Vegas tomorrow. See you next week! Taliiiiiiiiiii Ho!!!!!!!!!

Nov 29, 2007


Don't you think that our demands and cravings change with age? When we were kids, we would ask for toys and dolls. As we grow up, they change to books and CD's. Later, they become more pocket money, requests to go out on overnight picnics, walkmans, the list goes on and on. If you grow up to be fond of cooking, take up blogging, and land in the US, you will definitely crave for food items that you don't find here. I tried finding bhajani in all nearby Indian shops to no avail. Naturally, it was topmost on my demand list when my parents came to US. Bhajani is a special flour made by frying and grinding different types of daal and spices. It is used to make Thalipeeth and Bhajaniche wade.

Of all the things that I missed and craved for after coming to the US, thalipeeth topped the list. Thalipeeth is a spicy Indian bread, mostly prepared in Maharashtra, made from bhajani flour. I often dreamt of them. I saw those brown tasty, spicy breads with ragged edges and little holes. I remembered devouring one after other steaming hot thalipeeth with tasty ghee and butter. The combination was divine. Few months back, a friend's mom had come from India and she invited us over for tea and snacks. We were sitting in the living room when the familiar aroma of garma garam thalipeeth wafted from her kitchen. A minute later, she presented us with the tastiest thalipeeths I had ever eaten. I forgot all my manners, didn't say 'No' even once when she asked me if I wanted more, and devoured as many thalipeeths as I could, leaving a few for her family and my other friends.

My mom got bhajani flour for me, she even helped me make yummy thalipeeth. Bhajani can be made at home by roasting and grinding 2cups bajri, 1 cup jowar, 1/2 cup chana daal/harbhare, 1/2 cup urad daal, 1/4 rice, 1/4 cup wheat, jeera, and coriander seeds. The process seems cumbersome, so it's easy to buy store bought bhajani to make these spicy breads.




  1. 4 cups bhajani flour
  2. 2 medium onions - chopped very fine
  3. 1 tsp ajwain seeds
  4. Pinch of asafetida
  5. 2 tsp red chilli powder (Reduce if you are not accustomed to spicy food)
  6. 1 tsp turmeric powder
  7. 1/2 tsp garam masala
  8. Salt to taste
  9. Oil


  1. Mix all the above ingredients except oil, using water. Make a firm dough.
  2. Heat a pan over high flame.
  3. Make small portions of the above dough and round up into small balls.
  4. Take a plastic sheet and lay a dough ball on it. Start spreading the dough with your palm, while turning the plastic sheet. Make a circle. Once done, make 4-5 small holes in the dough with your finger.
  5. Pour 1 tsp oil on the heated pan. Take the plastic sheet in your left hand, invert it on top of your right hand, gently pull out the plastic from spread dough, and place the dough on the pan. Quite a task!
  6. Pour some oil on the sides and into the holes. Fry for 1 minute. Invert the thalipeeth and cook the other side for a minute. Again flip it and cook for 30 secs.
  7. Remove from pan and serve hot with yogurt. You can add some ghee on top of the thalipeeth.

Verdict: Thalipeeth topped with ghee and served with curd, straight off the stove is the ultimate divine food. The dough spreading process can be mastered with some practice and the results are great.

Nov 5, 2007

Tikhat Shankarpale with memories of Dussera

(JFI has a special festive series going on this month to celebrate the spirit of Diwali. Inspired by Vee this month and originated from Indira, this month's JFI promises to bring lots of Diwali sweets mixed with some savory goodies. This is my contribution to JFI:Diwali in which I share my memories of a special Marathi custom and the recipe for your Diwali celebration.)

Tikhat or savory shankarpali has been my favorite Diwali snack. So much so, that I keep looking for reasons to make them. During Dussera this year, I celebrated online bhondla with a couple of friends. This group is quite instrumental and active in celebrating all Marathi festivals, and being scattered all over US, these females celebrate the festivals via online messengers. So far we have successfully celebrated e-mangalagaur, e-Ganpati, and e-bhondla.

Maharashtrians celebrate Bhondla on any day during Dussera. Newly married or unmarried girls dress up and sing special bhondla songs around an elephant drawing. The drawing is mostly made on a 'pat' or flat wooden platform. The songs are fun to sing and impossible to forget. I love humming them once in a while. I have attended numerous bhondlas in my childhood. It is one festival I used to await in the year. My building is blessed with a big playground or 'angan', so there was no problem in celebrating this sweet tradition. I remember getting ready for the bhondla wearing a pretty frock and garlands all over my hair. I remember singing the songs with my building friends and aunties. However, the most awaited and best part of the bhondla is clearly the 'khirapat' or prasad. All participating members are supposed to cook a special dish and store it in a covered dish. After the song singing, the members sit around the wooden platform and guess each other's dishes. Every member is supposed to provide clues such as whether it is a sweet/savory dish, chat item, baked item, and so on. The goodies are then distributed to everyone.

Our online bhondla celebration was a total hit; we began the celebration by singing an arti for the goddess. Next, each member sang a bhondla song. I had made tikhat shankarpale as the prasad, and within no time my friends guessed what I had made. I am not asking you to guess the recipe though:) During Diwali, we make two types of shankarpale for the faral: the sweet and the savory ones. These savory shankarpale are a great tea time snack.

Tikhat Shankarpali
(Makes a small batch of shankarpale)

  1. 1/2 cup all purpose flour/maida
  2. 1/2 tsp ajwain seeds/ova
  3. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  4. 1/4 tsp red chilli powder
  5. Salt to taste
  6. 1 tsp hot oil/mohan

  1. Knead all the above ingredients in a firm dough.
  2. Cover and let sit for 1/2 hour.
  3. Heat oil in a pan.
  4. Roll the dough like a chapati and cut into squares/rhombus.

  5. Fry each piece in oil and drain on paper towel.
  6. Store in an airtight container.
Though Bhondla has become a not-so-popular tradition and people are soon forgetting it, there are a lot of people making efforts to save it from becoming extinct. Marathi mandals across Pune and Thane have organized mass bhondlas involving 100 or more people. I am definitely going to take efforts to see to it that this tradition stays alive. I had an excellent time celebrating this online bhondla, the only problem was I could not share my savory snacks with my dear friends.

A very Happy and Prosperous Diwali to all my readers! May the new year bring happiness, light, knowledge, and wisdom to you. Have a happy and safe Diwali!