a meal in a jiffy

June 29, 2008

i made channa pulav and milk curry with eggs for lunch this afternoon.  it took me less than an hour to prepare, cook, dish and take pictures of the same.  i am amazed at this myself because i am a pretty slow cook and i can never multitask in the kitchen.  that is how easy the recipes are.  for the curry, i think i can take entire credit for the recipe, though the idea is not original.

milk curry with eggs


  • 8 boiled eggs (pierce the eggs with a knife here and there so that the curry flavor can seep in)
  • 4 cups milk
  • one medium sized onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal
  • 1 teaspoon channa dal
  • 1 teaspoon saunf
  • a little cumin seeds
  • a little coriander seeds
  • 4 dried red chillies
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons of any other masala (optional) – i used a homemade sambar powder – courtesy my mother-in-law!
  • salt
  • finely chopped coriander

heat oil, add the cloves, bay leaf, cinnamon, mustard seeds, urad dal, channa dal, saunf, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and red chillies.  saute for a few seconds, then add the onion and a little salt.  saute till the onions turn translucent.  add the chilli powder, coriander powder and any other masala you wish to add.  saute till the masala gets fried.  now add the milk and salt.  once it comes to a boil, simmer it for a couple of minutes.   pour this over the boiled eggs and garnish with coriander.










 channa pulav


  • 3 cups rice (soaked in water for 10 minutes)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 big can channa
  • 1 medium sized onion (sliced length-wise)
  • 12 green chillies (slit length-wise)
  • 10 garlic pods
  • 1 tablespoon oil or ghee
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 6 cardamoms
  • 1 teaspoon saunf
  • 1 tablespoon grated coconut (optional)
  • finely chopped coriander

heat oil in a pan, add the cloves, cardamom, bay leaves and cinnamon.  saute for a few seconds.  add the garlic pods and saute till they turn a light brown.  add the onion and chillies with a little salt.  saute till the onions turn translucent.  add the rice and saute for a few minutes.  now add the channa and coconut and saute for a few more minutes.  transfer the entire content into an electric rice cooker, add the water and enough salt.  once this is cooked, garnish with coriander and cashews, and serve with the milk curry!













i will return with more recipes tommorow… if they turn out well.  and i hope they do, because a very special friend is coming over with her family to lunch with us!

val mcdermid’s

June 27, 2008

i could see the four guys trudging through the snow, bracing against the cold… alex, ziggy, mondo and weird… tipsy, arguing about music, fooling around, chasing each other and then alex falling down the slope and landing smack on the dying girl… he “squirming back” in horror… wow!  i was hooked until the end of the 1st part of “the distant echo” by val mcdermid.  then it all fell apart.

why, why, why would the obviously intelligent mondo withhold a vital piece of information – even from his friends – when it was so easy to work out that that is all that is required to work out who the culprit is?  mondo didnt have to use it as a trump card.  with that card, there need not have been any game at all in the first place!

also, why judge mondo’s wife when alex and his wife, mondo’s sister, themselves regard him in such poor light – they even groan when he comes visiting.  they should appreciate the fact that she loved mondo.  in fact, she was so decent throughout inspite of her loss and others’ accusations and disapproval.

i still liked “the distant echo”.  but “the torment of others” was a total let down – from the beginning.

the conspirator’s personality comes across as over-confident and aggresive but totally lacking in tact and inspires no confidence.  seems to have no persuasive power whatsoever.  neither liked nor looked up to.  but manages to perfectly hypnotize and brain wash the so called mentally-slow, socially shunned people into executing flawlessly a series of murders and outwitting the police and the entire world.  the first one, derek tyler, even manages to hold his silence for 2 years.  on the other hand, the very insightful, so-discerning, ingenious dr.hill does not even think of hypnotising derek tyler.  if he was so suggestible, how come tony hill had to go to so much trouble to get him to talk – and talk he does but only to say “i cannot talk until the voice says so”.  and that leaves him grinning?

it is just that though story was alright, the plot literally solved itself… the characters were a waste.  because they didnt seem to do anything but wait for events to unfold and then acting as if they MADE the events unfold.  the book seemed to imply that the trauma that paula undergoes is less than what carol went through during her undercover operation.  how insensitive and callous.

and carol taking the credit for thinking of calling the geologist – when it was paula’s idea originally to even investigate the background in the photo – was so petty and immature.  in this book, the author has insulted her own intelligence – and intelligent she is.  and that is why it is such a letdown to see so many holes in the plot and no “character” in the characters.

anyways, i am being too critical.  inspite of the shortcomings, i enjoyed both the books.  they were not as bad as some other books i have read.  in fact i am going to read the highly recommended “a place of execution” next.

so long then!

i am already on the third novel from the list… i finished “the oxford murders” and am now reading “the distant echo”.  when i read or watch a murder mystery, i want to be able to predict “who dun it” but i do not like it to be deliberately shrouded in mystery when there is no intrigue (like the movie “taking lives” – maybe it was the actor – his act gave it away) or blatantly implied when it is deliberately misleading.  the clues have to be there… the story has to be logical even if not realistic.  and most of all it should not insult your intelligence.  it is rare for a plot to be perfect with no loose ends… but even that you can discount if the writing or the characterization or the story or something about it had the magic to capture your fancy.

i remember reading agatha christie’s “peril at the end house”***…. it was a complete surprise when the murderer was revealed.  i could never have guessed.  a twist like that is also quite welcome.  but then again, i was pretty young when i read that.  with age and, dare i say, experience and exposure, the cynic in you gets tougher and tougher to please or convince.  even then, you have a soft corner for some authors even if you have out-grown them.  many of poirot’s series do have the downsides that i mentioned earlier… but to me, they are enthralling, nevertheless.  when it comes to books, agatha christie is my first love.

i also managed to tear myself away from “the distant echo” long enough to make some dal and mess up the chilli gobi.


  • 1:1:1 of toor dal:channa dal:moong dal
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1 tomato sliced
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 8 green chillies slit
  • 1/2 teaspoon asofoetida
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 4 dried red chillies
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal
  • 1 teaspoon channa dal
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon sambar powder (optional)
  • salt
  • coriander leaves

wash and soak the dal in warm water for 10 minutes.  then pressure cook the dal with the onion (3/4th of it), tomato, green chillies, garlic, asofoetida and a little of the turmeric powder for 10 minutes.  heat oil and add the mustard seeds, when they start sizzling, add the channa dal, urad dal, cumin seeds, red chillies and curry leaves.  stir, then add the rest of the onion and saute.  add the masala and stir for about 15 seconds.  add this to the cooked dal – you may add water if needed – add salt and simmer for 5-10 minutes till it reaches desired consistency.  garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

mixed dal









like i said, the chilli gobi was a wash-out.  my mother-in-law made phulka-like-chapathis… the chapathi was yummy and the dal was alright to go with it.  but for this kind of dal, i prefer rice!

well… i had better get back… the echo is beckoning. 

***UPDATE  i meant “endless night”, not “peril at end house”.  its been a looong time and i just remembered, so i googled to make sure that i got the name right this time around.

brocolli and eggs

June 8, 2008

that’s the order of the day!  i love eggs… and i love brocolli, especially, the way my mother taught me to make it.


  • 1 pound brocolli
  • 1/2 onion (sliced)
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon channa dal
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon asofoetida
  • 10 dried red chillies
  • salt
  • chilli powder and/or any other masala (optional)

boil the brocolli with a little water for about 6-7 minutes.  keep it aside.  heat oil and add mustard seeds. when they start spluttering, add the urad dal, channa dal, curry leaves, red chillies and asofoetida and saute for about 15 seconds.  add onions and salt and saute till onions are cooked to your satisfaction.  add the chilli powder and toss in the brocolli.  stir, saute and serve!

i followed the recipe at http://deepann.wordpress.com/2006/03/09/naadan-egg-roast/ to make the main course – egg masala.

my mother-in-law had made rasam.  and we had a sumptuous lunch!

“…. and then, i held her while she wept.”

now i can move on; i have finished reading the book.

i love reading… fiction mostly.  but not all best sellers appeal to me.  i have read almost all of the standard list of authors that probably every average indian reads.  and even those authors, the ones still alive, dont write books in the same standard that they used to.  so it has turned out to be tough picking a book these days.  and not everybody likes the same kind of writing as you do, so it is also tough to get anybody to recommend new authors or books.

sometime back, i read “false impression” by jeffrey archer.  the characters and the circumstances were so contrived that i was curious to see if anybody even read the book to completion and if they did what they thought about the book.  so i started reading reviews of it on amazon and thus i discovered debra hamel!  here is a reviewer who simply hit the nail right on the head!  we all have favorites.  and debra hamel has become my first ever, favorite reviewer.

i totally agreed and identified with her sensibility and taste in books that it struck me – here is a way i could discover new authors!  i could just blindly pick books that she recommends in her reviews.  so i went through some of her reviews and made a list of a few books that i found interesting for which she had given 5 star ratings.

1. By The Time You Read This – Giles Blunt
2. No Time For Goodbye – Linwood Barclay
3. The Thirteenth Tale – Diane Setterfield
4. Remember, Remember – Sheldon Goldfarb
5. The Oxford Murders – Guillermo Martinez
6. The Distant Echo – Val McDermid

the second in the list is the book i just finished reading.  as debra hamel put it, it was “deliciously thrilling”!  after a long time, a book that i thoroughly enjoyed.  and the aptly titled “false impression” perfectly impressed upon me the philosophy that everything happens for a reason, and a good one at that, by indirectly leading me to a great reviewer which in turn led me to an exciting way of discovering new authors.

so i am off to the library tommorow for another from the list!