30 April 2012


Watch that video on Youtube, where the ladies explain how to make slightly healthier Chakli. If you've ever eaten this highly addicting Indian snack, you know that it can frequently call for obscene amounts of fat. 

Their version involves like a TB of fat to give it a bit of crunch, and then the rest of it is made up with daal! I didn't have moong daal, so I used some red lentils I had lying around. I'm fairly certain that the recipe will work quite well with even split yellow peas or something. The bottom line is that murukku and things like that don't require very expensive ingredients or a special trip to the Indian store. I was able to pick up rice flour from the Chinese store for around $1 for a 1-lb bag. I made a small~ish batch for a party that Steve was going to. It came to about 1/2 cup of uncooked red lentils that I pressure cooked, along with 2 cups of rice flour. The spices I had at home already. The only mandatory ones are the salt, asafoetida, and cumin. The rest are just bonus.

I didn't want the dough to fall out of the press in lumps, so I ground the spices in my mortar and pestle, so as to get them more incorporated into the dough. The ladies don't do this, so I guess that step is optional. Whenever my brother makes them, however, he grinds his, so I do the same. 

Here's to hoping that your snacks come out crunchy and tasty! 

12 April 2012

Rainy days and salad days

There are few things that give me as much joy as a giant bowl of salad on a cold, overcast day. I can mentally put myself away from the cold and blustery city, and pretend to be some kind of happy herbivore, stolidly munching through my day's rations. I can imagine the warmth of the sun, the cool of the shade, the peace and quiet. For someone who dislikes nature as much as I do, I imagine myself in it a surprising amount. I am currently working my way through an enormous bowl of red leaf lettuce, spinach, red cabbage, olives, black beans, red onions, lemon juice, olive oil, cucumber, and sunflower seeds. Munch, munch, munch. Granted, few happy herbivores in the jungle would have access to such delicious fare, but I can certainly pretend for a bit, and escape from the overcast, dark day that's surrounding me. It started off well enough. I bolted out of bed at the crack of dawn (OK, more like 7:30, but I can give myself a little license here), and made kale and urad daal fritters. I added so much kale, garlic, and ginger, that the urad daal wasn't quite holding together, so I threw in a bit of rice flour too. I made a fresh pot of brown rice, and used some leftover kale to make a kale red lentil daal. Y'know. To go with the brown rice. All this took no time at all, because the kale was already chopped, the red lentils already cooked, and it was just a question of grating up some more ginger to make the tarka. 20 minutes later, I'm triumphantly out of the kitchen, with a rather hearty breakfast ready to roll. Since I soaked the brown rice the night before, it only took about 20 minutes to cook. That's the secret to sorting out breakfast quickly: have most of the prep done the night before, so that the morning itself, you can look like a hero. Nobody wants to wait while the delicious smells of garlic and ginger waft through the air, so the sooner you can get food on the table, the better. By the time I finished eating my breakfast, I was exhausted, and managed to conk out for a long nap. This is generally a Very Bad Idea, but I didn't have much of a choice when I found myself nodding off. By 10:00, I conked right out, and slept deeply until noon~ish. By the time I was done with round two of my morning ablutions, I was already running late. I ran into the bedroom, changed, threw the computer and Kindle and phone into the bag, and dashed out the door. By the time I got into the train station, I made it in just enough time to watch the train roll away. D'oh! Fortunately, I get into work, and am immediately inspired to cook, which meant that I managed to get everything done in an hour and small change. Into the oven the roasting dish went. But then, I made the mistake of looking outside, and seeing how gloomy and overcast it all looked. So I'm sitting here, with my enormous pile of greens, working on the next pile of paperwork, and imagining the sunshine and pretty days coming in again.