Finally, I discovered the library here and my little one and I have been haunting it ever since. Nupur of One Hot Stove had a list of books that I had been eying curiously for some time but never found them (most of them) in my old library. There is one hitherto unknown avenue of reading that food blogging opened up for me. My reading list never included food related books and now a book (not recipes and cook book though,) containing foodie ventures, memoirs packed with food memories, and information about different cuisines, cultures, not about the recipes per se but more about the methods, is fascinating to me. Obsessive, eh?
A lot of our traditional fare is dying out locally as people get enamored by McDs and fast food, but at the same time, other people are taking up preserving some part of these undocumented culinary traditions through TV shows, writing books and best of all by cooking it. So these food books.. what genre can you call these books? They are non fiction yet so deliciously filled with details that seem unbelievable that they could pass off as fiction.
One of the books on that reading list was Madhur Jaffery's food memoir, "Climbing The Mango Trees". (Maybe I am late in reading it in Blogosphere!!) It's a story of a child growing up in Pre and Post Independence Delhi, interlaced with the kind of childish memories we all have..eating chaats( spicy fruit salads, snacks), raw mangoes with salt and chili powder, ice creams etc, cramming for exams at school, holiday celebrations etc and a lot of memories that most of us are really unfamiliar with. It's a bygone era in a city that has since sped towards modernization but still the book holds a lot of insight into Delhi.
Most of you know Madhur Jaffery for her acting prowess (some of them were British-Indian productions)and for her numerous(13) cookbooks( by the way, none of which I have read.:)) The book covers the first nineteen years of her life, up to the point when she leaves India for drama school in London. She grew up in a highly privileged family in Delhi, influenced by the Muslim and British set around them in the changing times. Reading the book is like standing on a stool and peeking into the window of a large, fun filled joint family, with cousins, siblings, uncles and aunts and their myriad traditions.
One thing that struck a chord was a description of a picnic trip where 30 people were accommodated in 2 cars..15 piled into a car...mothers/ladies in the back seat, on whose laps went the 10-12 yr olds and on top of them the smaller kids.
I have a distinct memory on one such trip undertaken in my grandfather's Standard car, to Ooty to see a flower show. Counting the kids, there were easily 15 in that car.. not kidding..ask any of my cousins..The car was a hatch back and had a spacious boot, so four of us were in there.. or was it five? The three aunts went in the back seat along with one kid squished against the door. There were 3-4 kids on their laps, the youngest ones, I think. My grandfather drove while my uncle and two cousins sat in the connected front row( not two seats ). The flower show was a washout and there were incidents of motion sickness but it was one fun trip. And now I have family visiting next week and I can barely fit 5 in my car !!!
So give this book a try if you like reading about such small incidents that stay far back in your consciousness only to surface eons later. Maybe I am familiar with Delhi and so liked the book and maybe a lot of you will scratch your head as to what the charm is.:))
On the same note, here is another methi recipe. I buy methi every time if its fresh and beckons to me at the Indian store and then am wondering what to do with it. This time, one of my friends suggested cooking it with moong dal to make a dry subzi. This is a side dish for rotis that I like and makes a good filling for paranthas on day two. Now methi is a unknown leaf in Kerala and we are only familiar with its seeds(fenugreek seeds) and the slightly bitter taste needs getting used to. This is a pure non-mallu tasting dish which is sure to be disliked by most mallus.:) So try, but with hesitation if you are true blue mallu.
But in the spirit of all things Delhi, which is my frame of mind after reading this book, this is what I felt like making. :)) so take it with a pinch of salt (or garam masala).
You Will Need:
Split moong dal - 1/2 cup soaked for one hour and drained well.
Onion - 1
Ginger - 1/2 inch piece grated
Hot Green chili - 4-5 finely chopped
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 t sp
Fresh Fenugreek/ Methi Leaves - 1 cup.
Salt - as per taste
Oil - 1 tb sp
Water - 1/2 cup - 3/4 cup
Cilantro- 3 tbsp chopped
Lemon juice- 1 tsp
Heat the oil , add the cumin seeds and then add the ginger first, then the finely chopped onion and green chili.
Saute till the onion becomes translucent , then add the moong dal ( without water). Add the methi leaves, salt and turmeric and toss. Add 1/2 cup of water, lower the flame and cover and cook for 8 minutes. Check the dal and leaves, and add 2-3 tsp of water and cover if you need it to be cooked more. It should be soft but stand apart as grains, rather like cooked rice. Once the dal looks soft, open and stir fry for a minute to blend the flavors. Add the lemon juice, cilantro and serve.
Print This Recipe
Print This Recipe