Lauki/Ghiya Tarkari (Bottle Gourd Curry)

🎉Happy New Year 2015 Everyone!🎉

Bit late I know..but better late than never right? Actually I almost decided to give up and not return to the world of blogging! All the travelling I did over the holiday period took it’s toll on my health. Chronic pain is like a dreaded curse! You can only pretend so much that you’re absolutely fine when you’re clearly not. If it wasn’t for you all..my humble readers/followers out there I wouldn’t have felt motivated enough to blog again. Thanks for your messages and emails and the kick on my butt..I really needed that!! So here I am back and hoping I can last a little longer in here.

Hope you all had a great Xmas and new year break. I, for one had a fantastic holiday break with my family and relos back in India. Surprisingly my daughter Mishka had an absolute blast and even enjoyed the extensive travelling by planes, trains and automobiles. Food, of course was on the top of my list amongst shopping, manicures, pedicures, heavenly massages and more heavenly massages. I ate like I will never eat again!! I now have to wait a few more long months until I get to savour authentic Desi khana (local food) again. Honestly speaking guys..towards the end of my trip I started missing my less or zero masala Fiji chow. With the amount of fresh matar (pea) curries I was consuming daily I swear I could’ve made a trip to Mars and back…wheeeeee!!! 🚀 but..I will happily do it all over again!!!

Today’s recipe is for Lauki aka Ghiya aka Bottle Gourd. This recipe is not atypical of how many of us Fiji Indians cook this particular dish back home. Mine actually has a slight variation to the ingredients for added flavour enhancement. My recipe today, as you know is vegetarian but my story has an itsy-bitsy non-veg touch to it so minors refrain from reading because you’re just not going to find any spiders going up anyones spout (um..this is not sounding how I wanted it to). This event is based on a true story and the characters could possibly resemble your neighbour!!!

Hanging Body Parts oops! i mean Bottle Gourds.

IMG_2691-0Image credit – Bottle Gourds via photopin (license)

Before I move onto to today’s story and recipe I would like to briefly mention a very special person..a blogger pal who is an absolute inspiration to me. I admire her will to live life to the fullest in every way she can. She is truly amazing and such a gem of a person. I learn from her and her beautiful thoughts. She is Stephanae McCoy a Fashion blogger who blogs at Bold Blind Beauty. Please do check out Stephanae and her blog when you get a chance. I’m sure you will love her and her blog as much as I do.

Moving along…..

Have you ever had a slip of the tongue in the middle of a conversation? Well what do you know..a kind of funny but embarassing thing happened to me recently. It’s something I do a lot but this time I was at the receiving end.

I was involved in a very serious and intense conversation with a male acquaintance (let’s just call him Bob the builder shall we..although Peter the plumber will do me fine too 😉). The topic took a turn to spinal surgeries. Bob and I have had similar back problems so I was trying to get some info off him. He was trying his best to explain to me in simple medical terms about his complicated back issues and of the time he thought he almost didn’t make it.

This was part of the conversation that took place between us. Him, in his best Aussie Italiano accent plus the use of profanities especially the “F” word in every sentence (Dana – this ones for you girl lol) and me in my confused accent.

Him – “You see my limp?

Me – “Ummm…(my one track mind reading into things I shouldn’t)..err..ohhhhh..yes yes (nodding my head indian style) I just only noticed it today.”

Him – “It’s because I was f***** stupid and didn’t rest after my surgery!

Me – “OMG! Really? Aww..why didn’t you though?

Him – “Well you know what it’s like when you have kids and you have no choice but to work and earn and all that crap?

Me – “Ah!..yes of course..that’s sad to hear.

Him – “You know I actually ended up in emergency at the f***** hospital because the disc in my spine had shifted..and there’s a word for it c-something…c..cu..cun….

Me – (Panic stricken hoping its not the word I think he is about to say).

Him – “Oh man!! What’s that f***** word? Ah yes!! it’s called calcified. You know I was in that bad of a shape. If I would’ve been a little bit late things could’ve been so much worse.

Me – “Oh gosh! 😱tch! tch! tch! (feeling remorseful and shocked!) aww you poor thing! (holding back the urge to console him).

Him – “This f***** problem with my spinal disc almost cost me my livelihood. The day I ended up in emergency I thought I was a goner (tone getting louder as the story reaches it’s climax) Oh man I’m telling ya my d**k” had become so hard!!! It was bloody painful I tell ya!! I just can’t explain!!!

Dead silence….🙊

Me – (After a few seconds silence which felt like hours)…Hahahahah ehehehe good one Bob!! (both turning red like an organic over ripe tomato).

Well yes, it was a “I wish the earth would open and swallow us up” moment. I don’t know who was more embarassed me or him!!

Luckily I’m blessed with a great sense of humour and the conversation just continued like nothing “Tom, Dick & Harry” like had happened. I was giggling so hard (from inside of course and trust me that’s one difficult task). Now I feel I will never able to look the acquaintance in his eyes ever again! 👀

There was no stopping my mind from then onwards. How would you have handled this situation? Do share your “clean” thoughts.😉

Ingredients

1 Large Lauki/Ghiya/Bottle Gourd

1-2 Tbspn Yoghurt 

1/4 Tspn Haldi/Tumeric

1/4 Tspn Garam Masala

1-2 Green Chillies

1 Medium Sized Onion

1 Tbspn Ginger & Garlic Paste

6-10 Curry Leaves

2-3 Tbspn Oil

Pinch Of Hing/Asaofedita

Tiny Pinch of Sarso/Mustard, Jeera/Cumin & Methi/Fenugreek Seeds

Salt To Taste

Method

• Peel the Lauki and remove the seedy flesh from inside (optional since some people love the fleshy part as well). Cut into small to medium pieces.
• Chop onions finely.

• Add a little water(room temperature) into the yoghurt, whisk and set aside for later.

• Pour and heat oil in a pan and add Hing followed by Sarso, Jeera and Methi.

• Once the Sarso seed starts to pop throw in the finely chopped onions along with Ginger/Garlic paste and brown lightly.

• Now add the Haldi, Garam Masala with the curry leaves and give it a quick stir.

• Add the diced Lauki pieces into the pan along with a 1/4 cup water and cook in low heat settings until done. It’s a bit similar to cooking potatoes so a spoon break test is required to check the texture. It should break away easily when fully cooked. Don’t forget to add a little water into it if it starts to get too dry.

• Once it’s cooked turn the stove off and allow it to cool a little before adding the whisked yoghurt and giving it a good stir.

This dish is best served with Roti/Chapati.

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Baingan Aur Pyaz Raita (Seasoned Yoghurt With Eggplant And Onion)

Todays recipe for Raita is inspired by my sister Annu’s version of Eggplant Raita. I’m not sure if my version exists out there but I like to think it doesn’t and that I created it. I love onions cooked and raw or in any which way so I decided to give it my twist and add that into my Raita. I absolutely loved it!!! Do give it a try and see if you like it too. It’s simple, it’s easy and a unique take on your usual Raitas.

Well as you all know by now my post won’t be complete without my totally unrelated to food prattling. Let me tell you a bit about my adventure in my favourite travel destination Thailand. You see I was always apprehensive about travelling to Thailand only because I had so eagerly watched a movie called “Shocking Asia” many years ago. It left a jaw dropping, eye popping, thought provoking effect on me. Well in fact I was amusingly traumatised. So here’s a little snippet of my very first trip there. Mind you my trip there wasn’t an option it just so happened that the cheapest route to India was via Thailand so off we went.

When I first landed in Bangkok my first impression was wow! I’m in a clean version of India..oh wait or is it Middle East? Umm why do I feel like I’m still in Australia. Yep! that was my reaction. I somehow felt I hadn’t left Sydney at all..Liverpool to be precise. Now if you’re a fellow Aussie and been to the wonderful western suburbs of Liverpool you will know exactly what I’m talking about.

I just love the country for the warmth of the Thai people and the multiculturalism however I was still a bit wary. I had read and been warned so much about the things of the weird kind happening there that I jumped everytime someone said “Sawadee Kha” (hello) feeling they all had an ulterior motive. Although in Hindi Swad similar sounding to sawadee is tasty and Kha means eat…hmmm what shall we make of this then? I leave it to your imaginative minds.😉

You know when tourists visit Australia for the first time they are almost always on a lookout for Kangaroos and Koalas in our cities, airports, parks but mainly at the beach hoping to see them in their speedos, wearing an Akubra hat, enjoying a BBQ and skulling some schooners (just kidding!). Well what do you know..when sightseeing in Bangkok I was on a lookout too. I had my eyes on full sos scanning alert for “ladyboys”. They are so called gorgeous males adorned as divas and pretty much well tucked “down under”. I remember getting Thai massage services in my hotel room (such luxury) and being super paranoid that my masseuse was a ladyboy. Now it’s not that I had a problem with it..I just didnt want “her” to envy my jalti jawani (burning) beauty that’s all.

I looked at everyone in a suspicious manner so much so that I feared my DH will be lured by gorgeous Thai women to the region of “Thai-Sutra”. They would entice him by saying “sawadee krab (you might just end up catching it if you ain’t playing safe) come she teacha you ping pong..she maker you happy“. But in reality what I found was that almost everyone (except the dodgy few) were pretty cool there and having a ball and letting their hairs and what not down. We also bumped into a few fellas from back home who had several Thai beauties hanging off their arms..”lucky buggers!!”(DH’s words not mine). What does this say about our men? Well drink yer beers, enjoy yer barbie..just make sure you can spot the difference mate! Can’t wait for my next trip!

Ingredients
1 Medium Sizes Eggplant (I used the thicker dark purple variety)
1 Large Onion
1 Clove Garlic
1&1/2 Cup Yoghurt
Oil for Shallow Frying
Salt To Taste

Method
• Wash,dry and slice eggplant into medium to thin half moon shapes.
• Slice onion into ring shapes.
• Crush the garlic and add into the bowl of whisked yoghurt with salt.
• Now heat some oil into a non-stick frypan and shallow fry the eggplant pieces until lightly browned and drain into absorbent paper.
• Repeat the same with the onion rings.
• Add the onion rings and fried eggplant pieces into the yoghurt and stir. Serve with Roti or Chawal.

This dish is best served with Biryani and Pulao or anything else you fancy.

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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? 😉

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

Ingredients
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

Method
• Puree tomatoes and finely chopped onions.
• Pressure cook Rajma beans with salt and water for 15 minutes.
• Heat up oil in a pan and add Cumin/Jeera seeds and allow it to brown lightly.
• Now add ginger and garlic paste with the green chillies and brown lightly.
• 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.
• 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.

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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.

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.

Ingredients
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
• Soak Tamarind pulp in 1/2 cup of hot water for 10-15 mins.
• Mash the soaked tamarind with fingers and separate the pulp from its seeds.
• 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.
• Grind to a fine paste using only the tamarind extracted water.
• Pour the paste mix into a large jug or bowl and add remaining water & black salt to it. Mix really well.
• Chill in the refrigerator for later use.

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

Preparing For the Puri Consumption With Pani
• Take a puri in your palm and lightly tap the top in the centre to make a small hole in the puri.
• Fill the puri with a tspn of the mashed potato stuffing.
• You can also add 1/2 tspn of chopped onions and 1 tspn of Sweet Tamarind Chutney as extra garnishing.
• Finally fill the puri with the chilled spiced pani.
• 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!!!💃

* 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!

Ingredients
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

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

This dish is best served with roti/chapati.

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