Who doesn’t like to sit back, relax and have fresh, homemade food make it’s way to you?! I sure do! It usually happens once in a while when mom comes over and takes over the kitchen.

I have to admit; as much as I love cooking, I love it more when I can get mom to make all my favorite things like lip-smacking chutneys, crunchy pohe chivda, spicy hot green chilli pickles that I can relish for a long time after she’s gone back home and not to forget her very own signature concoction. While I make all the dishes she makes, somehow they taste better when mom conducts the orchestra!

Of course, when she’s in my kitchen, I too join her and get a crash course on Maharashtrian cooking and we have our impromptu recipe exchange sessions – some old, some new, and some that are created together on the spur of the moment. Only this time, we had one more chef putting her little nose in our soup!

Now, this last trip, she got the blogger bug from me and created a few recipes that are internet ready!…So, for Mother’s day this year, I am sharing a couple of concoctions that mom whipped up, right here,  in my kitchen. Join us as we have fun cooking with my mom!

Red Pepper Raita

(Red Pepper Salad in Yogurt Dressing)

I make all kinds of raitas but I was blown away when I had the red pepper raita that mom made for dinner one night. It’s one of her recent creations! She spices up the yogurt with some yellow grain mustard seeds, green chillies and cilantro and then tosses in slices of red pepper after quickly blanching them. This gives you some complex flavors – the strong pungent flavor of the mustard, the sweetness from the red pepper, the heat from the green chillies and the cool, refreshing yogurt – all come together in a unique concoction. Think of it as a salad, relish or a side dish served with naan, parathas or rice dish, like we did on the side of mushroom and wild rice pilaf.

Makes about 2 cups/4 servings

1 large red pepper

Yogurt Dressing:

1 cup yogurt (any kind)

1 small green chilli (bird-eye)

a handful of cilantro leaves

1 tbsp split yellow grain mustard seeds (alternatively, you could use ½ tbsp of any regular mustard)

Cut the pepper into thin rings and then cut across the rings to make slices out of it. In a small sauce pan, bring water to a boil and blanch the peppers for about 3-4 mins, till they are slightly cooked, but firm and crunchy to bite.

Combine all the ingredients for the yogurt dressing in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Pour it over the blanched peppers.Mix well and refrigerate until serving.

…………

Fanasachi Bhaji

(Sautéed Green Jackfruit)

My mom takes on all kinds of vegetables and occasionally some fruits! Back home, we had a huge jackfruit tree in our backyard that would yield a ton of jackfruits every year. Some were left on the tree to ripen and many were plucked while they were green for making homemade chips, pickles and the classic Maharashtrian delicacy – fanasachi bhaji. Growing up as a kid, I had the messiest job of cutting the jackfruit!

During her last visit when we were grocery shopping at the Indian store, we found these beautiful green jackfruits and both, mom and I, couldn’t resist. It’s my favorite and I just had to have her make it for me. It’s a simple preparation where diced green jackfruit is sautéed with basic spices such as turmeric, cumin and mustard to bring out its natural flavor.

Serves 3-4

1 green jackfruit (about 1.5-2 lbs in weight) (alternatively used a can or a packet of frozen green jackfruit)

2-3 tbsp oil (canola, sunflower, corn, vegetable) + some more needed for cutting the jackfruit

½  tsp mustard seeds (rai/mori)

½  tsp cumin seeds (jeera)

1 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)

1-2 pinches asofoetida  (hing) (see Concoctions 101)

salt

½  tsp cayenne pepper or Indian red chilli powder

½  tsp sugar

grated coconut, fresh or frozen thawed (optional for garnishing

fresh cilantro/coriander, finely chopped for garnishing

Oil both sides of the blade of a large and sharp kitchen knife. Cut the green jack fruit into quarters. Cut the quarters into halves. Peel the jack fruit pieces and cut into cubes (about 1 inch in size). Drop into a bowl of cold water to prevent the jack fruit pieces from oxidizing (browning).

Heat oil in a sauté pan and add mustard and cumin seeds along with the turmeric powder and pinch of asofoetida. When the seeds splutter, drain the water and add the diced jackfruit. Sauté for a min or so.

Season with salt, sugar and red chilli powder. Add a splash of water , mix well and cook covered for 10-15 mins on medium-low heat, stirring once in a while to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom, till it gets well cooked. Garnish with fresh cilantro and grated coconut. Serve hot on the side of rotis.

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