Rajma Curry (Red Kidney Beans Curry) – Guest Post For Tropical Spicy Tadka

Some of you might have had popped your head in and visited the blogger I call family. Meet my sister Annu who blogs at Tropical Spicy Tadka and is the inspiration behind my reason for blogging. She blogs delicious Indo-Fijian sweets and curries. Many of the dishes I can cook today is all thanks to the knowledge and instructions she has passed onto me. If you haven’t yet had a chance then please do check her blog out http://tropicalspicytadka.wordpress.com.

Lets start with a bit about my sis Annu. She is the sister who has always looked out for me and guided me through difficult times and taking on the role of a mum. A sister who constantly kicked some sense into the rebellious wild me. We have been through some wonderful times together as children but mostly difficult and sad times together as teens. However we have never left each others sides even as adults. Today we stand united and closer than we were ever.

Ok now all serious and senti stuff aside lets get onto some family childhood flashbacks in Fiji like the times my brother and I used to kia lots of sharaarats (pranks) with her. I have fond but crazy memories of the days when we would be up way early in the morning and mum used to tell us to wake our sis up. We took pleasure in filling a glass with water and tip toe towards her bedroom, sprinkle water on her face and just run for our lives!! We would hide for hours and not return home until it was safe to do so. As I got a little older I wanted to be as studious as her. I would loan books from the library that were the thickest and most difficult to read but just to show her I was as smart as her.

One day I discovered a hand written notebook and I thought I had gotten a hold of my sisters diary. I couldn’t hide my excitement. I eagerly started reading and as I continued reading I realized it was a novel, a beautiful story of a prince and princess written by my darling sister. I realized then how wonderfully talented she was. As I continued reading and came to a very interesting climax in the story and turned to the next page…it was blank! Till today I have not forgiven her for leaving that story incomplete!!!

There were times when my sis and I would have anktashari (singing) sessions for hours on end and as adults we continued the tradition. From bathroom/bedroom singers we eventually became event singers for functions held by the Fijian, Indian and Pakistani Association here in Canberra. These are part of the fond fun memories I have shared with my sis but there’s more to tell but that will take me a novel to complete, isn’t that right Annu? πŸ˜‰

Thank you Annu for always being there for me.😘

Annu requested Rajma curry from me which is inspired by my jethaniji (sister-in-law) Arti. Although this is a slightly improvised version. I cannot, for the life of me, replicate her Rajma curry. I just can’t get that typical desi Hindustani soil taste and flavours from their organic onions and masalas and of course from the magic of her hands. However I still try to cook it occassionally and hoping one day my DH tells me that I’ve hit the jackpot!!!

* I won’t be posting any recipes anytime soon while I’m MIA during my travel to India next month. I will however, be clicking food like crazy and hoping to have some interesting fun stories for you. Please do continue to support and visit my space and stay tuned for future posts. If you would like to know what I’m feasting on during my travels you can follow me on my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Feeding-The-Sonis/595780520501408

1 Cup Rajma (kidney beans) soaked overnight with 2 cups water
1 Tspn Tumeric/Haldi
1/2 Tspn Garam Masala
1 Tbspn Crushed Ginger
1 Tbspn Crushed Garlic
2-3 Tomatoes (Pureed)k
1-2 Onions (finely chopped)
1-2 Green Chillies
1 Tspn Kashmiri Chilli Powder
2-3 Tbspn Oil
Salt To Taste

β€’ Puree tomatoes and finely chopped onions.
β€’ Pressure cook Rajma beans with salt and water for 15 minutes.
β€’ Heat up oil in a pan and add Cumin/Jeera seeds and allow it to brown lightly.
β€’ Now add ginger and garlic paste with the green chillies and brown lightly.
β€’ Now add tomatoes and onion paste with the dry spices haldi, garam masala and chilli powder. Cook/simmer on lowest heat setting until the oil separates and floats at the top.
β€’ Throw in the half cooked Rajma and stir well and pressure cook it for further 2-3 whistles. Allow the cooker to cool and steam to settle before opening the lid to check the Rajma/Kidney beans. Check to see if it’s mushy soft (spoon mash test required at this point). If it’s not ready cook further couple of whistles. Check the salt for taste and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

This dish is best served with Chaawal/Rice.


Gol Gappa (Delhi Street Snack)

Happy Belated Father’s Day and a Happy Birthday (10/9) to my DH Sudhir. This post is dedicated to him. He’s a bit shy so asked not to reveal too much about him so I will try to keep it short and simple.

Let me start with a little bit about my DH. He is a typical Delhite..you know with his crude sense of humour and very loud vocals. Thankfully he doesn’t dress like one especially in winter. What I mean to say is that Delhi happens to have a a very unique winter look. Everywhere you turn you see men and I mean lots of men, young and old wearing sleeveless jumpers. They are seen in all different colors and fabrics worn over kurta pyjamas, business shirts, t-shirts, tailored pants and jeans. My favourite ensemble happens to be the chequered/stripey shirt under a sleeveless shimmery acrylic jumper..saksyyy!

IMG_2490.JPG Image courtesy – Wearabout

Ok I know this is winter fashion for them but whats the purpose behind the sleeveless bit in the middle of freezing temperatures? Maybe it’s for freedom of movement? I will understand if that was the case with hipless pants if anything like that existed but i guess the Desi chaddis (Indian boxers) take care of that department. I’m not even going to get onto the topic of the Y-fronts..all I will say is..why oh why?

IMG_2459.JPGImage courtesy – Indiamart

Let’s now finish the look off with the head gear to scare the living daylights off you! The ultimate bank robber look..the monkey beanie!!!

IMG_2489.JPGImage Courtesy – BBC UK

Oops! I forgot this isn’t a fashion blog..back to DH. So anyway the two of us are poles apart..if he is North than I’m the South. I’m a typical islander…you know laid back relaxed. One look at me and you would think I’m constantly high on ghaas phoos/weed (I could be Cheech and Chong’s lovechild) and drunk on mocktails. DH often asks me “do you ever stress..worry..get tense?” (echo..echo..echo a daily soapie climax moment). Arre! yes I just dont make it the obvious. He, on the other hand just can’t sit still and on the days he does I get very worried. I’m so used to seeing him fuss over everything especially keeping the house clean. A very tiny food scrap lying on the kitchen floor will get him so worked up that he will not sleep a wink until he vaccuums it off the floor. I won’t be surprised if he cleans the house in the middle of the night in his sleep while my DD and I sleep soundly in oblivion.

My DH also keeps me highly amused at times with sudden episodes of unsuspecting humour. I occassionally find him attempting the Aussie accent with people he doesn’t know very well. The after effects of the accent trials leave him wondering whether he threw an Aussie or Desi. I therefore created an accent for him which I call Ausind. An example of his Ausind accent is at a drive-thru at McDonalds.

Maccas attendant: “Can I please take your order sir?
DH:” Umm yep can I have a Chicken Mcmeal with regular fries?
Maccas attendant: “What would you like for drinks sir and would you like an apple pie for an extra dollar?
DH: “No apple pies and can I please have cock zero with that..cheers thanks mate“.

I literally hide myself when we approach the next window for payment.

I once saw a replica coke t-shirt which had “I love Cock” embellished on it (I’m sure it’s the fowl kind) so of course I had to buy it. He absolutely hated it!!! It took him a while to finally accept and wear it proudly but at home.

IMG_2486-0.JPGSudhir with his little princess Mishka.

So for DH’s birthday special I decided to attempt a delhi street snack favourite Gol Gappa also known as Pani Puri. There are many versions of this popular snack out there but I chose to make a simpler version of it.

Well guess what? After all the effort put into whipping this up for DH, he tells me that this isn’t even his favourite snack. Grrrr!!! I knew I should have played it safe and maybe stirred up a scotch and cock for him instead hehe.😬

Disclaimer: I can not be solely held responsible for the above content if it may appear offensive to you as apparently my pet cock-a-too has learnt to type too.

1 Packet Puri (available at Indian Grocery stores)

For The Pani
1 Cup Fresh Coriander Leaves (washed thoroughly)
1 Cup Fresh Mint Leaves (washed thoroughly)
5 Cups Of Water
1 Tspn Black Salt
1 Tbspn Roasted Cumin/Jeera Powder
1/4 Tapn Ginger/Adrak Powder
1/4 Cup Tamarind/Imli Pulp
3-4 Green Chillies
Salt To Taste

For The Puri Stuffing
2 Medium Sizes Potatoes (boiled, peeled and mashed)
1 Tspn Chaat Masala
1 Tspn Roasted Cumin Powder
1/2 Tspn Red Chilli powder
1-2 Green Chillies (finely chopped)
1 Tbspn Coriander Leaves (finely chopped)
Salt To Taste

Method For the Pani
β€’ Soak Tamarind pulp in 1/2 cup of hot water for 10-15 mins.
β€’ Mash the soaked tamarind with fingers and separate the pulp from its seeds.
β€’ Combine the tamarind infused water and the pulp with the all the ingredients for the paani except for the salt and black salt in a blender/food processer.
β€’ Grind to a fine paste using only the tamarind extracted water.
β€’ Pour the paste mix into a large jug or bowl and add remaining water & black salt to it. Mix really well.
β€’ Chill in the refrigerator for later use.

Method For The Stuffing
β€’ Add all of the ingredients of stuffing into a bowl and mix well.

Preparing For the Puri Consumption With Pani
β€’ Take a puri in your palm and lightly tap the top in the centre to make a small hole in the puri.
β€’ Fill the puri with a tspn of the mashed potato stuffing.
β€’ You can also add 1/2 tspn of chopped onions and 1 tspn of Sweet Tamarind Chutney as extra garnishing.
β€’ Finally fill the puri with the chilled spiced pani.
β€’ Stuff the entire mini puri in your mouth and gobble it down. Worry about wiping your chin later. Enjoy!

IMG_2507.JPGRecipe courtesy – Cooking Thumb

Phulgobhi Tarkari (Cauliflower Curry)

Woot! woot! I have managed to reach the milestone of 10,000 views plus. A huge warm thanks to all my readers and wordpress family for all your support. Thanks for your kind and encouraging comments, follows and your likes. I hope all of you will continue to provide your support as long as my blog is in existence.

With winter (which is almost nearing an end at our side here in Australia) comes dry skin. The environment can be quite harsh. With temperatures reaching in lows -5 at nights we have our heaters turned on at highest to keep ourselves nice and toasty. Heaters and hot showers dries my delicate ageing skin. Although I can moisturise most parts of my body but we all know it’s difficult to reach our backs. I once invested in a moisturiser applicator for the back but it didn’t do a great job like a pair of hands would. My DH dislikes the stickiness of the creams so he refuses to put it on for me bahhhh! 😫 When I beg and plead him to put some on he responds with a “yeh peeth hai??😱 Isko peeth kehte hai kya? yeh toh peettha hai peettha!!! Hinglish translation – is that a back? You call this a back? It’s not a back it’s a surf board!! Such wonderful terms of endearment lol. Now that leaves my daughter Mishka who is too young to understand how and what to do.

So if there’s no moisturising then your poor back ends up suffering from severe draught followed by cracks, flakes and an itch that makes you want to force someone at gunpoint to scratch it!!! I’m sure you don’t need to know all these gross details on a food blog but please continue reading. Anyways, recently my back was itching really bad…bad enough to almost bring me to tears. I tried the back scratcher mum gave me (shaped like a hand attached to a long handle with slightly curved fingers) but that felt like I was marking crop circles with the hairs on my back. I tried to guide my daughter to scratch but she got in her acting mode and pretended to be my masseuse instead. I was on the verge of throwing myself on the floor and rolling around like “I was on fire” kinda crazy when I remembered something my mum used to do back in Fiji. It used to make me giggle everytime I saw her do it. She used to look so helpless yet comical.

I then decided to use my mum’s method as the last resort. So there I was, with my back leaning on the corners/edges of the hinged side of my bedroom door looking like I was attempting a seductive salsa with it from the rear. Just lean your back against it (unclothed of course) and move side to side and wriggle up and down. Like your hesitant scratchees fingers this method doesn’t target only certain spots…it gets to your entire back! Woohoo!! With your scratchees method you actually end up more frustrated as you plead with them to move a bit to the right, no left, no up a bit and just a little down and they just never seem to get it! With my mum’s method I was in scratch heaven. It was almost euphoric! Just make sure no one catches you in action or they will think you have a strange fetish with your door! As for mine we now share a special bond. This winter it was the Salsa…next will be the Lambada! Wooppaa!!!πŸ’ƒ

* Kids please do not attempt this stunt at home and adults ensure your doors hinges and corners of your walls are strong enough to cope with the rough handling – try at your own risk!

3-4 Cups Of Cauliflower Florets
1 Small-Medium Sized Onion
2 Medium Sized Tomatoes (I used Roma variety)
1/2 Tspn Jeera/Cumin Seeds
2-3 Garlic Cloves
2 Tbspn Oil
Salt To taste

β€’ Cut Cauliflower florets, wash and set aside.
β€’ Slice onions lengthwise and crush the garlic.
β€’ Chop tomatoes roughly.
β€’ Heat oil in a pan and add jeera/cumin seeds. Allow it to lightly brown.
β€’ Now add onions and saute till browned.
β€’ Next add chopped tomatoes and cook till slightly mushy.
β€’ Finally add the Cauliflower florets and cook covered on low heat settings until done.

This dish is best served with roti/chapati.


Kokonda – Fijian Fish Salad

A couple of posts ago I mentioned to you all that I was working on getting my readers involved with my blog by inviting them to contribute their recipes as a guest. Well here is my very first and special reader Simon Deo from Sacramento who has offered to do a guest post for me today.😊 Just so you all know this isn’t a sponsored post. I am merely helping the people in my community to spread the love of our Fijian cuisine. Oh and also because I’m just damn sweet! Careful now..so I don’t give you diabetes.😁

I approached Simon on a Facebook foodie group. I asked Simon if he could prepare a native dish for me. He immediately agreed and offered to cook up Kokonda which happens to be his favourite. I happily accepted. I, of course have my own selfish motive behind this because just like South Indian cuisines I don’t know the a-b-c of native Fijian cuisines either.πŸ˜‰

Simon has been very kind to accept my offer and honour my blog with his speciality today. I believe he is feeling a wee bit nervous and apprehensive about the outcome so I hope all my readers, fellow bloggers and buddies will give him a very warm welcome.

Over to Simon now…

Hi everyone my name is Simon and I’m from Sacramento Ca. I am a college student who loves to cook and take photos. My interest in photography started in high school which is when I fell in love with images I took that turned out natural and captivating. I do photography professionally as extra work here in Sacramento or sometimes around California. Some of my photography samples and gallery can be seen on my website Simon Deo Photography or you can check out my Facebook page link https://www.facebook.com/simondeophotography.

20140731-232346-84226207.jpgSimon says…give me a pout!!!

I self taught myself cooking just like my photography. My passion for cooking started in my childhood. I started with playing and experimenting around in the kitchen with foods and from then on I just couldn’t help but discover new flavors all the time. After graduating from high school I decided to take the two things I love the most, combine it together and share it with everyone.

I first began sharing my photos via Facebook and Instagram. Later I discovered a group called Mai Kana via Facebook. There I was able to share my food photography and recipes. I received very encouraging feedbacks and compliments which felt absolutely stupefying. From there I was approached by Sanjana Soni. She invited me to do a guest post for her blog. Of course I immediately said yes. It was a great opportunity for me to share my knowledge of cooking with others all over the world. So today I will be sharing with you a native Fijian dish called Kokonda which originates in Fiji. It’s basically fish cooked in citric acid mainly lemon/lime.

I first came across Kokonda in Fiji where I tried it at a restaurant and absolutely loved it. Biting into it I remember tasting a creamy and tangy soup. Than as I continued the journey of taste there was a bit of a crunch and then a tender piece of seafood went in my mouth. It was absolutely scrumptuous. Years later I came up with my own version of Kokonda. It was equally delicious but I threw in a my own twist to it by adding a sweet factor. When I normally cook I try to balance my recipe as much as possible. For Kokonda I already had the sourness from the lemon but I wished I had a sweet factor so I decided to add a sweet fruit to it. The addition of a fruit gave this dish a bit of a kick! I hope all of you will enjoy my recipe.

20140731-232312-84192200.jpgSimon with his parents and sister.

2 cups of Fish of choice
1 1/2 cup of Lemon juice
1 1/2 cup of Lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Green chilli for taste
1 cup of Peach, pineapple or mango (I used peach)
1 cup of Coconut cream or milk
1 cup of Bell pepper (preferably red)
1/2 cup of Onions or shallot.

Slice your fish in 1/2 or 1/4 inch bite sized pieces.
β€’ Add 1 and 1/2 a cup of lemon and 1 and 1/2 a cup of lime juice to the fish in a bowl. Make sure your fish is fully submerged in the citric acid.
β€’ Add salt and pepper and give it a quick stir.
β€’ Cover it with a plastic wrap and let it “cook” in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
β€’ Meanwhile, chop your fruit, in my case a peach (or any other fruit of your choice). Also chop bell peppers and onions in cubes (keep the cubes about half the size of your fish bites) and then set it aside in the fridge tightly covered with a plastic wrap.
β€’ After 2hrs (or maybe more as per your preference) add your chopped veggies and fruits into the bowl along with the coconut cream and give it a good stir and cover once again.
β€’ Slice your green chilies very thinly and add into the bowl with the fish. Give it another good stir and taste to check for salt. I like to serve this with tortilla or potato chips (using the kokonda kind of like a dip) but you may choose to serve however you desire!


Nariyal Chutney (Coconut Chutney)

I had tried on many occassions to perfect my coconut chutney but was never satisfied with the result. It really wasn’t that bad or unedible but just not as delicious as I had hoped. Then a few years back I inherited a recipe from my friend Sammi’s late grandmother Yenktamma Naidu. Everyone fondly knew her as Awa. Coming from a South Indian I felt like I had been handed a family heirloom and felt mighty proud.😊Since then I have been making my coconut chutney Awa’s way. I will forever be indebted to her for passing her recipe to me. God bless her soul.

Recently I was reminiscing and went straight back into my Fiji flashback.πŸ’­It was the weekend, Saturday to be precise, a day I knew I will be allowed to catch up with my school mates and go and show off my “mufti day” clothes. I loved not having to wear my school uniform and letting my hair out which was a change from having to coconut oil it to plait it with ribbons. I wore my best outfit and waited for my friends to turn up so we could just hang out and do a full round walk of our small city. We made sure we walked slowly (not much choice in the heat) so it would take the max time to cover from one end to the other. Yes, that was our Lautoka city small and cute. Then after lunch we would stroll to Marine Drive harbour and sit and watch the ships sail by and throw rocks into the sea.

Most of our weekends were spent watching any and every Bollywood movies at the cinemas. Even better when your parents owned one. It was free VIP entries for us. My parents always knew where to find my missing siblings and I….hiding in the cinema which was our second home. We would snack on fried peas, bhuja mixes and sip soft drink. Soft drinks were luxury items to have those days so you can imagine how much I looked forward to enjoying each sip followed by a burp or two. The downside was watching the actors feeding themselves on screen which made us all more hungry. As soon as it was intermission men darted towards the loo or outside to kill their lungs. Women and children made a quick dash to the takeaway shop to buy hot mutton pies and fish and chips. I would love to hear everyone sigh whenever there was a climax scene and say “saaa” (for ahhh or ohhh) or in sad scenes everyone of them in unison will begin to “tch! tch! tch!” (for awww nooo you poor thing) or in fight sequence there will be a very loud Oilei!! (for what I belive is maybe OMG!). And if the movie stopped or the reel finished in the middle of the most exciting scene of a son reuniting with his mum then itll be a mild hurl of abuses like “oyye operator kani kani” (basically meant operator wake up from your Kava induced sleep). Oh! how I miss all that.

As much as I loved watching movies I absolutely hated the cinema halls. I could never relax once the lights turned off. No, not out of fear from being kicked by smelly tinea ridden feet from behind but from far more dangerous things. The “thing”…the thing that petrified me..the thing that could make your skin crawl…the thing that was brown and had antennaes….yucky and gross cockroaches!!!! And those “malteser suckers” could fly I tell ya! Yikesss I could just die.😱I as an adolescent was traumatised by those evil pests. Anyways I managed to survive to see many more movies and finally when I discovered the cinemas in Australia I was cured…aaaah!

Getting to the point…so as soon as it was Saturday I knew mum will be going to the markets to buy some vegies and freshly cooked Idlis and coconut chutney. I always looked forward to that and it wasn’t often the vendors at the markets sold it. I will never forget how delicious the chutney was. I was recently craving it badly so I decided to make a few in experimental batches and see if I could replicate the taste. Finally I think I did it!! I believe I was very close to it. This chutney is my experimental version inspired by Late Awa’s original recipe with a slight twist.

As you all know I cook the lazy way so I’ve used frozen shredded coconut. I have tried many frozen brands but Vadilal’s is by far the best. Obviously you can’t compromise on the fresh taste of grated coconut but this brand comes quite close to it. It’s moist and fluffy in texture and smells heavenly. Hailing from the tropics I happen to know my coconuts (no pun intended😁). A few years back I did it the old fashioned way by placing the coconut grater (shaped somewhat like a cricket bat with prongs attached to it) on a chair with my butt firmly on it and grate away. This chutney is for those lazy cooks who wants something quick because they’de rather be spending time with their family or enjoying “tutti frutti”.πŸ˜‰

This recipe is a special request by a reader and a friend. Roberta Movick this ones for you.

2 Cups Frozen Shredded Coconut (I have used Vadilal Brand)
1 Tablespoon Tamarind Pulp
1 Small Garlic Clove
1/2 Medium Sized Onion
5-6 Small Red Chillies (adjust to suit level of hotness)
5-6 Curry Leaves
Salt To Taste
Oil For Tempering

β€’ In a bowl of hot water (about a 1/4 cup) soak tamarind pulp. Set aside for water to cool down.
β€’ Once cooled squeeze the pulp with fingers to release flavour into the infused water? Discard squeezed pulp. Set the paste aside.
β€’ Chop onions, garlic and chillies finely.
β€’ Heat oil in a non-stick frypan.
β€’ Throw in the garlic, chillies, onions and saute till translucent.
β€’ Now add curry leaves, shredded defrosted/thawed coconut and salt and cook till lightly browned.
β€’ Set aside to cool and throw it all into the food processor with the tamarind liquid paste.
β€’ If chutney is too dry to grind add a little bit more water to ensure it turns out moist and fine.

This dish is best served as sides with Idlis and Dosas.