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August 2005
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September 2005

What's cooking in India today?

Many of us look wistfully at other food blogs , or magazines,or papers, with picures of food we cannot possibly taste, for the simple reason that the ingredients are unavailable or the style of cooking unnattainable. Indian Chinese , which admittedly has become a cuisine belonging to a tradition of its own, quite seperate from 'real ' chinese food, was the best we could hope to taste.

But all that has changed and in some cities at least our choices have increased. I thought it would be nice to give some taste of what is available to those who'd like a change.

Spanish: A plateful of paella.

Mediterranian: Moshe


Far Eastern: Shiok

Italian: Roma Aroma

          The Italian Connection

'European' :Ofen


Thai, Indonesian, Japanese:  Tian

There are many more to add and I will be updating this soon.

All herbivorous animals are peaceful by nature- Lin Yutang

I don't know about this . I mean there are times I could kill for a kebab. Right now though I must go with Lin-ji and veggie as a means of a. Losing weight and b. Losing weight.

September will be a lean month.


In an effort to add some spice to our daily bread, I have been scouring the vegetable market for variety. Not a good time to do so, Maharashtra having had over 100 centimetres of of rain this season ; it has been the heaviest monsoon in a hundred years.

The good thing about this is that the water table will have risen and farmers who use traditional methods of water harvesting are looking forward to a better year.

The bad thing about this are the awful tomatoes, soggy onions and generally pathetic looking vegetables on the market currently. During these kind of spells I go back to good old sprouts. And in answer to several requests here is a recipe for the very traditional Maharashtrian Matki Ki Usal.This is made in typical Nagpur style.

Matki Ki Usal/ Sprouted Moth Beans

250 gms sprouted moth beans / matki 1 tsp oil 1 tsp oil
1" piece of ginger
3 cloves of garlic
2 green chillies chopped fine
1/4 tsp of haldi /turmeric
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp gur/jaggery
A few kari patta kari leaves
1 tbsp grated fresh coconut.
A tbsp of hara dhania / fresh coriander
Salt to taste

Add sprouted matki to a pan of boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Drain.

Heat oil and fry green chillies , ginger and garlic.Turn heat to medium Add the matki and powdered spices and saute for a couple of minutes.

Add the gur and salt and stir well. Add two cups of water and cook for 5 minutes.

Temper with kari leaves fried in a 1/2 tsp of oil.

Garnish with grated coconut and chopped coriander. Wonderful with hot chapathis, fine with bread.

P.S.You can't see any coconut in the picture because it was eaten up  when my back was turned.

The Root of the Matter- A Recipe for Arvi

Arvi/ C. Esculenta Plant

Among many forms of the pictorial, I love botanical paintings, and here is one of " Colocasia Esculenta" from one of the best painters in her genre, Mary Grierson, once the official artist for the Royal Gardens at Kew. It was easy enough to incorporate this beauty into this blog as I picked up some Arvi and proceeded to make it for dinner.

Arvi / colocasia , is a corm, a kind of extension to the stem of a plant. It is known as taro in most other countries and dasheen in the West Indies. Dasheen as in 'de Chine'- from China. Actually Colocasia is native to India, not China . Evidence exists of ancient terraced fields made on slopes and hilly areas and planted with this crop , fields now used for cultivating rice.

The plant was carried to South Asia and China much later where it became a common crop as it could grow in well in tropical conditions.From there it spread to the Pacific,the Samoan, Solomon and Hawaiian islands, places where it remains a major part of the diet and is known by a variety of names.

Arvi is very easily digested, which makes it a good choice for children who are allergic to milk as well as people who have problems digesting other types of starch. It has several medicinal uses and contains significant amounts of Vitamin C and B 1 and B12 .

It used to be a regular in the kitchen garden in rural areas here, as cormlets would grow from the last season's corm without much effort or care. In fact it remains an important plant in subsistence farming and could do with a revival in general as a source of starch, healthier than cereals or other grains.Colocasia leaves are also edible and there are many recipes in India for this huuuuge leaf the reason why the plant is also known as Elephants Ear.

Arvi, as long as it is not cooked to slimy sludginess, is pretty nice to eat just as it is, with a few little additions.Here is my recipe for a really quick dish.

Arvi Roast

Arvi Roast


  • 500 gms ( app. 1 lb) arvi ./ taro
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 2 tej patta / bay leaves
  • 1 inch piece dalchini / cinnamon
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 1 green chilli ( optional)
  • 1 heaped tsp dhania/ coriander powder
  • 1 tsp jeera/cumin powder
  • Pinch of jaiphal / nutmeg
  • Salt to taste.
  • 1/2 a lime.( App. 1 tsp lime juice)

Boil arvi /taro in water till done. How long this takes depends on the size. I used arvi about two inches in length and 1 inch thick at the widest point..It took about 20 minutes to cook after the water had reached boiling point. The arvi should remain firm when tested with a fork. Remove from fire and wash immediately in cold water. Remove the skins which should come off easily. Cut into thick pieces and set aside.

Heat 1 tsp of vegetable oil. When hot put in the bay leaves, cinnamon and peppercorns. Add the green chilli at this point if you want it spicy. When the whole spices brown a bit add the arvi and the masalas. Turn the fire down and fry till the the the arvi gets a little crisp. Add the nutmeg and salt . Squeeze the lime juice over the arvi and serve.