Friday, November 30, 2012

Life of P(a)i

Ever notice how it is the little things in life that give us the most pleasure? 

  • Snuggling up with a good book on a rainy afternoon.
  • Sniffing at the aroma of just baked bread, cakes and other goodies
  • Walking hand in hand in a leaf strewn park
  • Laaaazzzzing in bed on a Saturday morning
  • Sharing a glass of wine with someone you love
  • Inhaling the fragrance of freshly brewed coffee
  • Laughing your guts out at a silly joke
  • Enjoying a cool, refreshing nimbu paani under a sweltering sun
  • Listening to “Silent Night” at midnight on Christmas
  • Melting a pat of butter on a steaming paratha
  • Looking forward to a long planned holiday
  • Unwrapping a surprise gift
  • Losing yourself in the comfort of best friends.....

     Well, I could go on and on.  I certainly don't want to sound all preachy and talk about how we all let the rat-race consume us totally, and how we should not lose sight of what's important and all that jazz.  But what I'd like to share in this post is a glimpse of a life simply lived. 

   My parents have a little weekend home in a place called Khardi.  This is located off the Mumbai – Nasik route, just before Igatpuri.  A and I go there sometimes just to unwind and re-energize ourselves.  We often take different sets of friends to experience a bucolic weekend, and once a year we also get together there as a family especially when my sis, brother-in-law and niece come to Mumbai.  A had once written a piece about his favourite getaway... here's the link

A walk in the Khardi woods
      The picture that you see in the newspaper article is a rain-washed village road not too far from my parents' home, taken by A.  The best thing about Khardi is that there is nothing to do there but chill out.  Go for long walks.  Listen to birdsong.  And enjoy simple food.  Mr and Mrs Pai, a Mumbai couple set up home in Khardi over a decade ago.  They cater meals for lazy city dwellers like us, hiring local help when the demand gets heavy especially on long weekends.  Nothing fancy, mind you, just simple, rustic fare that satiates the appetite and warms the heart.  We both love Mrs. Pai's Kachryaas or Kaap, as some folk call them – potato and brinjal roundels, dusted with spices and flour and then shallow fried on an iron griddle.  A is also partial to her Tomato Saar.  It tastes quite like Rasam, but has coconut milk added to it. 

      Another endearing quality of the Pais is that they open their home to all the strays around.... dogs, cats, cows, calves, monkeys, goats, chickens, rabbits... you name it and they're around.  In fact, the local villagers always bring any injured animal to the Pais, knowing that the poor creature will get all the TLC it needs.

      In keeping with the theme of simple living, today's recipe features an everyday staple – good ol' daal.  Last night, I rustled up Lasooni Daal Paalak using leftover daal from the previous day.  I'm sending this post to Vardhini of Cook'sJoy, who is hosting the November edition of Dish It Out.  



Lasooni Daal Paalak


Leftover daal - 4 cups
Spinach – 1 bunch
Onions – 1 large, thinly sliced
Tomatoes – 1 large, finely chopped
Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tbsps, heaped
Green chillies – 1, finely chopped
Turmeric, red chilli, coriander-cumin, sambhar powders – about a tsp each
Lemon juice – ½ a lemon
Salt – to taste
Coriander leaves – finely chopped for garnishing

For Tempering

Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Garlic – 10 cloves, thinly sliced
Hing – ½ tsp
Curry leaves – 2 sprigs, roughly torn


1.       Heat a spoon of oil and add onions, green chilli and ginger-garlic paste.
2.      Cook well till onions start browning.  Add salt to quicken the process.
3.      Next add all the dry masalas and mix well.
4.      Tip in the tomatoes and cook till well done.
5.      Add spinach and cook till wilted and done.
6.    Pour in the daal and simmer on low fire till it boils and all the flavours are well mixed.
7.      Squeeze in the lemon juice.
8.     Prepare the tempering in a separate vessel and pour it over the prepared daal.
9.      Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations Maya. I am definitely going to visit your blog often. Read some of your recipes and I loved them. Best wishes. A. Myrna

Vardhini said...

Spinach - dal is one of my favorite combo. Healthy and tasty.

Event: Bake Fest