For once, I am actually ahead on my blog posts. Usually I end up hurriedly posting something at the end of the month after my friends ask me whats happening !!! Its spring break and I figured I will use this time to get in as much as I can……..lets face between the kid’s schools, the house, their various classes and me trying to figure out what I want to do now that I am all “growed up “ like A says, its amazing I have any time at all !!!
As you know , my parents were staying with me till recently. While they were here, I cooked three meals a day and though we did eat out , we more often than not cooked at home. Between the kids pickiness and my need for variety , I found myself perusing my really old cookbooks in search of things to make ! These are the books that I maintained during college……it has recipes I collected then, some recipes from my friends at college……many of them have gone on to work in various restaurants around the world. One even became a very popular TV chef on a tamil network. He passed away a few months back. It was a huge shock !!! I spoke to him when I was in India just a few months before that. We did the usual “catching up ” and he told me to call before I left . In fact he made a point of it ……saying he wanted to say bye. One thing after another prevented me from doing so and I regret that. I never got to say bye and now I never will !!!
Anyway, this is one of the two dishes I made for him in college. One was Maggi Noodles ( ramen to you in the US ) not the kind you pour hot water over, the one from scratch ….we were Culinary students !!! The other was a rice my aunt taught me …..I lived with my dad’s younger brother , his wife and my baby cousin during college. I had some very good times there. I always feel at home there, even after all these years. God, I sound so old !!! Back to the food……my aunt taught me how to make CARROT RICE and I would in turn take it for lunch. Jacob once ate it and after that he asked me many a time to make it for him. I recently made it for my parents and it bought back memories. To me , memories associated with food are more stronger than any other. I guess it makes sense for a person as obsessed with food as I am !!!!
Its a simple recipe, made with ingredients found pretty much in everyone’s fridge and pantry. For once I am not claiming that its different or anything like that but it is delicious !!!! Carrots provide a sweetness to this basically savoury rice. Onions sautéed till almost caramelized also add to it. The spices are simple , just cumin and cayenne. I add just a little lime juice for tang. I served it with a BUTTERNUT SQUASH RAITA. I had some frozen butternut squash left over from the fall. I had this huge squash, I used some for a soup , some for pav bhaji and still had some left over so I just froze it. I have to say this raita is now my favourite fall standby. You do need great butternut squash for it !!! Sweet butternut squash in a tangy greek yogurt enhanced with bitter mustard seeds. It is a great flavor profile. Did you know that Asian cultures including the Indian subcontinent embrace bitterness . They think that in order to achieve perfection all flavors including bitterness have to present !!!
This is one of those dishes that you learn and then make again and again….for me ,as I said earlier….it brings back memories of some happy times, some sad times but most of all it brings back memories of friends !
1 ½ cups peeled and finely chopped Carrots
¼ cup finely chopped Red Onions
1 Green Chilli, chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped Ginger
¼ tsp Turmeric
½ tsp Cayenne or Red Chilli pwd
½ tsp Cumin pwd
1 tsp Salt
juice of 1 Lime
2 tbsp chopped Cilantro
1 cup Rice
Cook the rice in 2 cups of water. Once cooked, using a fork fluff the grains and cool .
Sauté the onions, chilli and ginger in oil till the onions are soft and a light brown in color.
Add the spices and salt . Sauté for 2 minutes.
Then add the carrots and 2-3 tbsp of water. Cover and sauté on low heat until the carrots are cooked.
Add the cilantro and lime juice.
Now add the cooled rice and mix well. Serve with any raita.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH RAITA
1 cup peeled and cubed Butternut Squash
1 cup Greek Yogurt
½ tsp Black Mustard Seeds
2 tbsp chopped Cilantro
¾ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Sugar
½ tsp Cumin seeds
1 Green Chilli, chopped
1 tbsp Oil
Steam the squash until soft.
In the oil, sauté the cumin seeds, green chilli and squash until it is slightly caramelized.
Meanwhile whip the yogurt with ¼ cup water , salt and sugar.
Crush ½ tsp mustard seeds with the back of a knife or a mortar and pestle.
Add to the yogurt along with squash and cilantro.
Chill until ready to serve.