Summer is here, with hot afternoons, bright colors and happy faces. Parties are in full swing with grilled food and chilled drinks. Memorial Day at the end of May is the start of the grilling season.
Grilling is an All-American tradition. It is a method of cooking food at high heat over direct flames. Grilling is different from bar-b-que. Bar-b-que is cooking marinated foods at temperatures between 200 and 300 degrees F. Grilling is about cooking foods at very high heat, well above 400 degrees F. Most barbeque sauces are tomato and sugar based and will burn if they are used for grilling.
I have fond memories of my early years in Kanpur, India. Situated on the banks of the Ganges, Kanpur was as fertile as it could be.Our home had crisp green lawns with roses of every hue. My favorite pastime in the summer months was counting the number of tomatoes on the vine, which stretched on to the side walls of the house. I remember admiring the red plump fruit against the faded brown wall. While my dad brought home red juicy apples and healthy bunches of grapes, mom would cut a bowl of fresh tomatoes and sprinkle a little sugar, for us to eat. This was when I fell in love with fruits.
I looked outside through my kitchen window at the cloudy cold day. I remembered the vegetable sandwiches mom would make for us, she would smear 2 slices of bread with butter and add the vegetable of the day – spicy beans or hot chole, or potato fry in between and toasted it on a hot skillet. It tasted awesome.
“Want to get a Hot sandwich break” I said my husband.
He jumped at the offer. As we were driving trying to figure out the best places that made a good sandwich – TOGOs, nah! Quiznos –like it but been there too many times. I asked him what he wants, he said “your chutney sandwich” – toasted warm wheat bread spread with spicy homemade tomato chutney, layered with pepper jack cheese, warm sautéed onions and bell peppers, a layer of grilled chicken…
We all have our own special ways of remembering people. Some of us have photos, writings or clothing to keep memories alive. Cooking keeps me connected to my mom. She was an extraordinary human being as well as a fabulous cook.
Our home was the hub for extended family’s vacations, job hunts, festival seasons and weddings. My mom made sure that anyone who walked into our house never left hungry. Food was always available, well prepared and on time. Her philosophy on cooking was simple and I follow that to this day
-Cook food with love, people will enjoy it no matter what. Food cooked with negative emotions never digests well.
I was at a party the other day. I watched people chomp down on a wide array of snacks; and as they were eating, I could see the guilt on their faces. Many were making promises of an extra workout that week.
This got me thinking. Since when did we forget the sheer joy of enjoying a snack, just for what it is? Have we forgotten what “guilt free snacking” feels like anymore? So here’s to eating in moderation and relishing every bite. Here’s my all time favorite snacks:
Onam is one of the great festivals of Kerala (my home state in India). My friend Poornima throws the best Onam Party in the Bay Area. The array of Kerala food, mix of people, dressed in Kerala colors (white/off white) is something to experience.
Back in India, I remember waking up early for Onam, with the pleasant smell of sandalwood being rubbed on a stone. My job was to collect flowers from the backyard for the “Poo Kalam” (a floral design in the front of the house). The grand finale was always the “Onam Saddhi” or “Great Feast” on the day, Thiruvonam. It signified prosperity, abundance, and to me, some absolutely delightful food. Continue reading Malabar Memories: About Onam→
Indian Food has such complex flavors and tastes, that pairing a good wine can be quite a challenge. There is the easy way. You can skip the wine, and have a beer instead. Or finish your wine, cleanse your palate, have an appetizer, and then sit down for dinner. This way you will do justice to both the wine, and the food.
Here in California we are blessed with a broad selection of exquisite, and yet reasonably priced wines. We also have a wine revolution underway in India. It is now possible to pair a wide range of wines with Indian food.When selecting a wine, the mantra goes, “Simple wine with complex food, and complex wine with simple food”. Spicy food goes well with wine that is less tannic. Tannins come from the stalks and skins of the grapes, and give the wine a tinge of bitterness.
Since all our palates are varied, here are some general guidelines for choosing wines with your favorite Indian food: