Author: obsessivemom

Eat Seasonal, Eat Local

Eat Seasonal, Eat Local

I never really was fond of winters. They’re just so cold, no? (Reminds me of Ross who doesn’t like ice-cream because it’s too cold!) They’re supposed to be cold I know, but that’s just me.

The one saving grace was food. And I’m not talking of Nawabi winter desserts like malai pan or malai makkhan I grew up on.

I’m talking regular everyday food.

Winter brightened up our daily dinner table

There was delicious matar aloo, my absolute favourite, peas and potatoes in a thick rich tomato gravy. Or we had peas simply sautéed with ginger and topped with lemon and coriander that could be had a side dish or a snack. Sometimes they teamed with carrots for the sweetish gajar-matar.

There was cauliflower made with potatoes or cooked elaborately into a dum gobhi. There were green chick peas to be made into an aromatic nimona or just roasted to be ready to munch on.

We had capsicums and tomatoes stuffed with paneer or potatoes and baked to perfection; not to mention a variety of greens – spinach and fenugreek and mustard greens made into a saag.

Even the salad dish looked brighter with brilliant white radishes, sweet with a tiny hint of bitterness, deep red beets, tomatoes and carrots.

There were peanuts to pass the time and til laddoos or gajak for dessert.

The rotis tasted better too. Besan ki roti with gur and ghee or makki ki roti with sarson ka saag were couples made in food-heaven.

It was such a relief from the entire gourd horde of the summer – bottle gourd, sponge gourd, bitter gourd, white gourd – lauki, torai, karela. Seriously!!

So why am I talking in the past tense?

Because it isn’t so any longer.

Now we get everything in every season

I find cauliflower throughout the year, the red carrots might disappear but the orange ones happily take their place and we have frozen peas if fresh ones get too expensive. And wonder of wonders I can even get kairis, raw mangoes, in December if I want to make a chutney.

However, it isn’t the same, is it? The peas aren’t as sweet, the carrots not so flavourful and the radish not crisp enough.

The other day I was at a hotel and they served watermelon for breakfast. I didn’t even feel like going close to it. Come  summer and it becomes the fastest vanishing fruit in our refrigerator. The Husband would go to the wholesale market and stock it up because we just couldn’t have enough of it.

There really is something to be said about having food in the right season. Click To Tweet

I’m not going to launch into a lengthy ‘Why’ of it because it is quite obvious. Seasonal food is fresher, cheaper, more nutritious and with fewer preservatives, as also so much more delicious, when had in the correct season. In the larger perspective, it is often sourced locally and good for your local farmer. Besides, half the excitement of it all is not getting it all year through.

And while on that, I have to take back the insults I heaped on the gourd family. They are perfect for the summer – cool and light and easy on the stomach.

It’s rather sad that the children don’t even know that specific vegetables are available in specific seasons, except perhaps mangoes. And that is why they remain an absolute premium fruit for them.

I’m no cook but prompted by Rachna’s recipe I tried sarson ka saag. It turned out really easy to make once I got all the ingredients together and absolutely scrumptious. Wonder of wonders, the children loved it, tucking into it with gusto, first with the makki ki roti and then with rice. It is set to become a regular at our table.

The makke ki roti looks like tiger pugmarks. I struggled to keep even this small a roti together.

Do drop by Rachna’s blog if you’re a non-cook like me and are looking for easy-to-make recipes.

Do you have a favourite food memory linked to a season? A favourite winter staple, perhaps?


Linking up with Shilpa for #FlavoursomeTuesdays

New Learnings and Kitchen Adventures

New Learnings and Kitchen Adventures

Last week I went down with a bad back. After the initial shock had worn off I settled down with my current read on my kindle. I was just beginning to enjoy the experience when the cook called to say she wasn’t coming. That was the worst kind of spoke in the wheel of my happiness.

As I sat there feeling rather helpless, the children offered to take up the cooking. It might have been the result of a phone call from the sister, which turned them from busy-without-business-tweens to Santa’s hardworking little elves.

Of course there’s much difference between good intentions and actually getting down to work. After staking claim to each task and fighting tooth and nail for each one, H disappeared behind his book leaving N to handle it all.

Glad to have him out of the way, we made up the simplest menu of Egg Curry and Rice. No cutting, no chopping and no need for the dreaded pressure cooker. N, dear little, careful, meticulous N went to work and did a pretty good job of following my instructions to a tee. H appeared from behind his book (after much coaxing) to cut the salad and lay the table.

H is rather unconventional when it comes to doing up the salad plate.

In the end we had a pretty decent meal.

While I prayed the maid would come back, an inspired H prayed harder that she wouldn’t, so he could prove his powers as a chef too. God, as they say, listens to the prayers of children. The maid didn’t turn up.

And so come evening, we chose another simple recipe – paneer in a ready-spice mix. The only tricky part was grinding the tomatoes which H said he’d manage given that he’s comfortable with the food processor (because he uses the juicer all the time).

They’re so very different, these two. While N is overly cautious, stopping at each step, confirming and reconfirming, checking with me and cross checking again, H blunders in full of confidence even when he hasn’t the foggiest idea about things.

And so it was that before I could give him a single instruction he had chopped the tomatoes, dropped them into the mixer and switched it on. Forgetting to put his hand on the lid. Yeah, you know what happened next. The kitchen looked like the site of a tomato tornado! H stood there, tomato pulp splattered on his spectacles trying to figure out the way to the kitchen sink.

I blew my top worse than any food processor and a rather remorseful H got down to retrieving the bits and washing and grinding them all over again.

Finally he did handle the paneer, completely on his own, while I managed the chapatis and we were good. He was so very proud as was I.

I told them to go write down the recipes in their recipe books and guess what was the first thing H wrote – “Never forget to take your hand off the top of the mixer while grinding tomatoes”!

So there, that’s my silver lining. Thanks to my bad back, the children took a small step forward in their culinary journey.

Be careful what you wish for 

Be careful what you wish for 

This week I went down with a bad backache. My initial reaction was pure disbelief. The thing is I never fall ill. The worst I ever get is a cold – it’s often terrible, but it’s a known enemy. I’ve learnt to manage it. Besides, despite the cold, I can go about most of my chores. This time, however, one attempt at getting out of bed brought sudden tears of pain to my eyes and I promptly retreated with a tube of Volini and a hot bag for company.

I think I’ve mentioned earlier that I’ve been going for yoga this past year. I’ve been rather a reluctant ‘yogi’, so to say. Somedays I develop a random reluctance to doing the plank, other days I get bored with the endless suryanamaskars.

That’s not to say I don’t do them. I do. And, despite my weight (which I seriously need to reduce) I find I have more stamina, greater flexibility and fewer aches and pains than a lot of others. A result, perhaps, of having had an exercise routine all my life.

However, instead of being grateful for all of that and feeling a sense of achievement, I began to resent it a little bit. I resented the fact that people who couldn’t do it were getting away with easier/fewer exercises. I sound stupid even to myself as I write this, but that’s how I felt.

So the other day I was chatting with some friends and I said, half in jest, that what I needed was a good backache to convince our instructor to go easy on me. And BAM.. the very next day just as I was on my 12th or 13th suryanamaskar I pulled a muscle or something and that was it.

Mercifully the instructor helped me with some relaxing exercises and I could get back home. Once home I was confined to the bed with that excruciating back pain.

I’m better already, with just a lingering pain now. I’m enthused enough to go for the Pinkathon this Sunday, that’s tomorrow. I figured if 80 year-olds could walk their way through it, so could I. And then of course there’s the handsome man-behind-the-run to consider. So yeah, I’m going, bad back and all.

And I’ve learnt my lessons. Here they are:

– Be grateful for what you have.
– Nothing in your life deserves half-hearted effort.
– Enjoy your exercise routine.
– If you don’t, give it up.
– Pick up something you do enjoy.
– Oh and don’t try to sit on a beanbag when you have a backache. Go for that hard, straight-backed chair you’ve written off as ‘most uncomfortable’.

Beyond the learnings, there was another huge plus to this whole episode. I’ll talk about it in my next post. Do check back soon.

All things bright and beautiful

All things bright and beautiful

I had almost forgotten how much fun going to an exhibition could be. I  used to love going to them. Correction – I love going even now. It’s just that I cannot/do not do it any longer. During my working days, visiting exhibitions and writing about them was part of my job. That was such absolute fun.

My favourites were the crafty ones, you know the kind where craftsmen come by with their wares. Not because I’m a great shopper or because I have a great eye for pretty things. I do not. I love them because there’s always the chance I’ll stumble upon something quaint and quirky.

But it’s not just that; it’s the whole atmosphere I love – colourful stalls dotting a wide open field, shoppers laden with bags, children running around – yeah there was a time I could actually enjoy watching children running around without the face of an exasperated mom looming up in my imagination to spoil the picture!

But I am digressing. What I like even more than the cheerful vibe, are the craftsmen. They’re not mere sellers peddling their wares. In most cases they’ve made the products themselves so there’s a love for their craft that comes through way more warmly than the slickest sales speech of a savvy salesman in a swanky store. That’s quite a tongue twister but you do get what I’m saying, right? The craftsmen share a connection with and a love for their product. And that makes it special. It’s like I’m carrying a little bit of them with me when I buy their wares.

Remember my last post where I wrote about missing out on going to an exhibition? Well as it happened I did make time for it during the week – the delightful Dastkari Haat. It turned out to be all I loved and more. Colourful buntings welcomed us, a group of musicians all the way from Barmer, Rajasthan were singing folk songs and the air was filled with happy chatter.

Events such as this one are a bit of a rare treat for me.

Sharing a few pictures.

Rajasthani folk singers – looks like they spotted something interesting!
How I resisted buying these colourful kites! The thing is what do i do with them? There are only so many walls to do up.
An army in metal. Gorgeous!
Platters in blue and green


Did I mention quirky?
Camel leather lampshades. Such intricate designs.
… and there was food which I struggled to resist.
Slowing down

Slowing down

This past week has been one of the busiest, not just for me but for the children as well. After the rather lazy Diwali vacations we were all struggling to come to terms with our schedules. The weekend promised to be even busier what with the children’s hobby classes, a PTM to go to (which takes up all morning with some 10 to 12 teachers to be met) and two birthday parties.

My head was reeling as I tried to schedule pickup and drop timings for both the children while also trying to make a few hours to help them with their studies and also adjust the maid-timings!

My SIL called up to chat and raved about a must go-to exhibition that she’d spent three hours browsing through. She offered to accompany me if I could make time over the weekend. I am rather reluctant for such a plan on a busy weekend but this time I was sorely tempted. A quick mental check and I figured I could squeeze it in.

A little later, however, on an impulse, I cancelled the trip. Yeah I flip-flop a lot.

Sure enough, as I picked up H from his guitar class, the exhibition had lost all its charm even though barely half the day was through.

Instead of running home to let the maid in, I called and instructed her to get the keys from the neighbour and took H off for a coffee/drink at a close by cafe. I was done with the driving around. I ordered a huge Latte while he got himself a tall glass of Iced Tea. There was still an hour before N had to be picked up and so we settled down for some one on one conversation.

We talked about our tentative move to a new house next year. He said he’d miss his classmate who lived close by and we planned future play dates. We discussed his teacher’s comments at the PTM that he needed to mix with other children apart from his two closest buddies. He told me about his much-hated football coach who had been nasty yet again to another friend of his.

We got back relaxed and in good time to pick up N. Not going to that exhibition proved to be one of the best decisions I made.

There was a time I would load up my day with a list of things to do and would go through it systematically. At the end of the day the ticks on that list brought a huge sense achievement.

However, I can no longer do that.

I find I cannot go through a list of back-to-back tasks as easily as I used to. Click To Tweet

The physical effort might not be too much but the mental effort of not just planning but also of getting the children ready, the constant calling out to them, of sorting their hundred tiny disagreements and listening to and solving their myriad problems is exhausting. And so I’ve learnt to take things easy, to slow down.

As we drove back home the image that remained with me was of H carrying the tray with our drinks, his tongue stuck out as he concentrated on not letting them spill. Nothing I’d have found at the exhibition would have been as precious.



Linking up with Mackenzie at Reflections from Me #mg

Meet me on Instagram @obsessivemom06

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