Category Archives: Opinion

Grill’n and Chill’n

GrillnChillnSummer 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.

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Fruitfully Yours

tomatoesI 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.

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The Rise of King Corn

CornNative Americans call it the food of the gods that created the earth. Corn has an important place in history. Its origin dates back to 5000 years and takes us to Mexico.

With the shocking prices of rice and wheat at Indian stores, I have consciously begun to include makki ki roti (corn roti) into our weekly menu. Corn flour is abundant and a healthy substitute for other staples.

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Blips and Bites of Life

This occasional post will be on everything under the sun except food and cuisine…. It is my thoughts on life, living, politics and people.

I wrote this post back in 2004. We don’t know how a simple human being can impact us until we miss them.

Love You Mom!

It was a clear California morning, I sat down with my cup of tea, wondering if my mom would have liked this house. For the past several years, mom was a part of every major decision we had made. She would have said, “It’s very spacious, its like our Patambi (ancestral) house, I like it”. She would never say anything negative to your face. Being with her, I had learnt to read between the lines at a very early age.

Like the word “spacious” meant a few things “do you really need this big space, you will have to clean it, its more work you”.

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Remembering Mom

Mom's Recipe in TamilWe 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.

Here are some of mom’s favorite recipes: Continue reading Remembering Mom

Caribbean Calypso

Caribbean IslandsBeautiful turquoise beaches, sky scraping palm trees, silver sands, glistening sunlight and romantic sunsets: the Caribbean Islands are a colorful treat for our eyes, and their cuisine is equally something to relish. There are more than 7000 islands in the Caribbean plate, that we call the West Indies.

The early inhabitants of the islands were from the northern part of South America. Their cuisine included corn, cassava, squash yams and sweet potatoes along with an extensive selection of seafood. Eventually ravaged by disease and their conquest by the Spaniards, English and French, most of the early inhabitants were wiped out. The native cuisine, called Creole, was influenced by European, African and Spanish cuisines.

One toasty Sunday afternoon, we had a few friends over for a Caribbean party. Here is a peek at the menu. Enjoy! Continue reading Caribbean Calypso

Count Down To A Healthy Life Style

 

count downA few years ago, my husband had come back from India, and casually stepped on the weighing scale. My son’s jaw dropped and he said “Wow Dad! One more pound and you will be 200.” This was the moment when a switch went off, and my husband was a changed man. He went from eating just about anything, to eating healthy. And what is more remarkable is, he’s kept it going! Here is my Top Ten Steps to a healthy life style:

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Thanksgiving: Old Traditions, New Recipes

My first encounter with Mr. Gobble was on my very first day in the U.S.A. I walked into my husband’s apartment from the airport, with a heart filled with hope. The refrigerator had a ‘Welcome Home’ sign, and some delicious food from his friends. I casually opened the freezer door…and there he was, looking straight at me. He was 12 lbs of sheer fat…huge alright! “Who is that?” I asked. “Oh! yah! That’s a turkey”, said my husband, and paused “from last year”. My jaw dropped!

Thank You America!Life here was filled with this, and many more interesting surprises. My first Thanksgiving was in Dallas, TX. The tradition at our cousin’s place was that the men would cook the Thanksgiving meal. We (the women) hung out, sipping margaritas. I learnt then that my husband could chop onions. The next year it was a “Tandoori Turkey”. A year later the turkey gave way to a stuffed chicken.

As we embrace this All-American tradition, we have all adapted it to reflect our own individuality. One tradition we follow is to give thanks to everyone who has touched our lives in different ways. Another tradition is donating to our local food bank, and volunteering at the shelter.

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Nourishing Your Face: The Natural Way

It’s 10 AM on a Saturday. You have a party to attend in the evening. You have been running around all week, with no time for a facial. You look in the mirror. Your eyes are tired. Your face is pale. You are wondering, “What do I do now?”. Well, look no further that your own pantry and refrigerator!

Curry LeavesIndia is home to some of the best natural remedies. For centuries, people have used plants, vegetables, herbs and leaves to nourish their skin and bring out their beauty.

I remember a Sunday morning ritual growing up. My grand mom would heat up curry leaves, cooked in coconut oil, with fenugreek seeds. My mom would mix cream of milk, turmeric, lemon juice and chickpea flour. I would pick Hibiscus leaves from our backyard, crush it down for its juice, and mix it with shikakai (herbal powder).

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Malabar Memories: About Onam

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.

Onam Poo KalamBack 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.
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