As we were growing up I remember my mother telling us that on the 14th of January, India celebrates the end of winter and start of spring, the change in seasons and wind directions. They celebrate with the festival of Uttarayan also know as Sankrant, Lohri or Pongal. In Gujarat, in particular, they celebrate by flying kites and she would tell us how the skies would be filled with lots of kites in different colours and sizes, and tell us about all the foods eaten that were traditionally associated with the season. However it wasn’t until I went and spent my university placement year in India that I really got the opportunity to understand or appreciate what this and other festivals really meant. I have very fond memories of my Uttarayan experience, the sky was really filled with colourful kites flying high. So many thoughts and memories, which are difficult to put into words – reach for your dreams and set your thoughts free to fly high ….
Associated with this festival are certain foods which are quite abundant around this time. There are certain foods that are eaten around this time like sesame seed balls, and various curries made with fresh green vegetables, like Undhiu. Undhiu is a good all round curry made with all the fresh vegetables of the season and some spicy dumplings (muthais), which are the best bits of the curry :). In keeping with this tradition I made undhiu yesterday, still remembering my experience in India, as if it had happened yesterday, even though it was actually 11 years ago. Isn’t it amazing how certain foods bring back fond memories and traditions which remain with us for life. The reason why I enjoy this curry is the fact that the masala mix is also made from all fresh ingredients, unlike the other curries which I normally make with dry spice mixes and a tomato base. I have created my own version of this traditional curry by looking at what my mother and other relatives have used, and by getting inspiration from Tarla Dalal’s recipe and other recipe books.
Today (19/01/2009) as I was looking at Jaya’s site Spice and Curry, and I came across a festival that is being hosted by Preeti (Indian Khana) for Sankranti or Uttarayan, so I thought that since someone has made an event out of a festival I should take part in it also.
Continue reading “Undhiu (green vegetable curry)”
Until recently I did not like sweet potatoes very much, I guess it was due to the variety that I used to have but now we regularly eat the orange fleshed variety. This is quite quick and easy to cook, and despite its naturally sweet taste works well with strong savoury flavours. This particular variety is said to be rich in antioxidants vitamin C and beta carotene, which can help to enhance memory, so it is a good food to give to growing children. When my son started weaning I had got a few books from the library which helped give me ideas of what kind of food to give him. Certain foods are very common to give to children when they are at this stage. Foods rich in carbohydrates are very common but rather than the normal basic potatoes, I increasingly started using sweet potatoes because, as mentioned above, they are good for us. I used to just boil and mash them and then slowly I started adding salt, pepper, lemon juice, ghee (clarified butter), olive oil, rosemary and lightly sautéing them giving a very good added nutty and slightly caramelised flavour.
For quite some time now I have seen many recipes for sweet potato soups, but never actually got around to trying any of them however yesterday I thought I would give one of them a go. I had to change the recipe that I choose as I did not have all of the ingredients but it turned out to be a sweet and subtly spicy flavourful soup, not to mention satisfyingly filling. It is very quick and easy to make and I think it is a good meal to have if you are trying to be healthy or wish to eat a light meal. I would say in the current cold weather it certainly warms you up. As I was making it I came up with a few ideas of how to make it different, for example by simply adding red Thai curry paste and soy sauce, it could be turned into an oriental soup.
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Wonderful crisp pastry filled with a combination of sweet, tangy and toasted flavours are a wonderful taste explosion on the taste buds. I first tried this recipe a couple of years back for a Thai themed New Year’s Eve party. I changed the filling slightly to what the original recipe had. You can create any type of oriental filling you like. The original recipe had mashed potatoes, grated carrots and toasted peanuts. I used sweet potato as to me it is a good vegetarian alternative to salmon (in colour, I would not know about taste being a vegetarian ! ). I would say stick to a mash as it makes it easier to create the bags. The trick is in the folding technique, a few tries and you should have a method that works for you.
Continue reading “Thai Gold Bags”