Ivy gourd stir fry (by other names, dondakaya, kundru, tindora)

“Indian cooking is about the right balance of salt and chilli.  There’s not much else to it,” remarked my husband when encountering yet another subtly salted and chilli-less dish.  I had been cooking for the children and for us all together, in one big pot, for months.  That meant no chillies – no cayenne pepperContinue reading “Ivy gourd stir fry (by other names, dondakaya, kundru, tindora)”

Dosakai pachadi: a creamy cucumber relish

We had hot steaming rice for lunch today with a most unexpected side – a cooling cucumber relish made with a paste of black mustard seeds and white sesame seeds.  Not much else was needed for a satisfying meal.  I was surprised by how good the relish tasted rubbed into the rice – it wasContinue reading “Dosakai pachadi: a creamy cucumber relish”

Vankaya Allam Karam

This Sunday morning we all woke up tired.  My husband rushed Agasyta off for an early soccer class after breakfast while I pottered around the kitchen, thinking about what to do for lunch.   Yesterday, I had found leggy thin-skinned purple Asian eggplant in an Indian grocery store.  I pulled them out this morning, wonderingContinue reading “Vankaya Allam Karam”

Kattu, toor dal with garlic

In the winter, Agastya starts sniffling.  One sniffle turns into the next and we start on a progression of back-to-back colds. Sometimes they start with a fever, sometimes with runny sneezes and sometimes with a bad cough.  They last a week, sometimes two, and a new cold often starts before the old one finishes.  IContinue reading “Kattu, toor dal with garlic”

Andhra-style potatoes

My husband introduced me to the food from his native state of Andhra Pradesh when we were dating.  The cuisine and its cooking style was a revelation for me.  For instance, a simple sookha aloo-pyaaz or dry potato-onion dish tasted completely different because of the cooking process, the treatment of ingredients and a slightly differentContinue reading “Andhra-style potatoes”

Pappu Charu

“What will your mother-in-law say? You don’t even know how to boil dal,” my mother would fret during my growing up years in Calcutta.  Strangely, she never actually required me to enter her kitchen or help with chores in any way.  “No, no, go study,” she would say.  Perhaps we both had an inkling ofContinue reading “Pappu Charu”

Eggplant

I wait all year for July when luscious firm glossy dark-skinned eggplants start appearing in the local farmer’s markets.   I see them piled in wicker baskets, and their tender freshness brings me to my first summer with Agastya and his paternal grandmother, Lakshmi. My South Indian mother-in-law had just flown in from Visakhapatnam to spendContinue reading “Eggplant”