31 January 2013

Makki ki roti - Sarson ka Saag

Come winters and ‘saag - roti’ become a staple in our house. (along with Gaajar ka halwa - now that's another story altogether)

Here are my recipes for the saag and roti if you'd like to try it out.....
Saag is made with a combination of greens where mustard leaves are the dominant ingredient with an addition of spinach, bathua leaves etc.

Note before cooking:
The quantities may seem large but once cooked the leaves wilt to a much smaller quantity.
I use the stems of the mustard too -  if they are tough you can peel the outer layer like you would an asparagus spear.
You need a pressure cooker to cook this dish.
Put the cooker on the flame with about 1/4 cup water and as you chop the greens keep adding them in. Within minutes they'll wilt and all of it will fit in the cooker.
Wash all leaves well before chopping.
Bathua - Chenopodium album - and spinach are added in a very small quantity for a very distinct flavour.
Bathua can be hard to find so can be optional - instead I like to use a bunch of tender radish leaves. I sometimes add a chopped radish too.
As it is so time-consuming to prepare you can make this in bulk and divide it into portions and store in the freezer. Thaw and heat well before eating. It only improves with time.

To make the Saag:

List A:
1kg           mustard stems and leaves (sarson) chopped fine,
150gms     spinach leaves chopped fine,
100 gms    bathua leaves chopped fine,(optional)
4 tbsp        ginger-garlic paste
4-5            green chillies chopped fine - or according to taste,
1 tbsp        salt (you can always add more later)
1cup          water

List B:
100gm       cornmeal or makki ka atta,
2-3            diced onions,
2-3 tsp       chopped garlic,
1-2            chopped green chillies (optional),
2 tbsp        cooking oil 
2 tbsp        desi ghee

List C:
Dollops and dollops of home made white butter.
Sliced onion for salad.
green chillies for salad ..:)

Pressure cook all ingredients of list A for about 30 - 45 minutes on low flame.
Open the cooker and sprinkle about half of the cornmeal/ makki ka atta over. Mix it into the greens and place on fire without the lid, stirring well so the atta doesn't form lumps.
Add the rest of the cornmeal a spoon at a time. Let cook about 5 minutes or till you see the excess liquid all absorbed by the atta.
Now for some elbow-grease at this stage - while still on the fire, use a wooden 'madhaani', as we call it, to mash the saag up and make it into a paste. ( a 'madhaani' is a wooden tool used in Punjabi kitches to churn curd to make lassi) 
Yeah, that wooden thing in the middle of the picture below.....
(These day most people churn up the saag in a mixer/ blender which gives a very smooth paste that is unlike the texture of authentic saag - I like the coarser texture you get when you mash it by hand. The choice is yours.)

The tadka or tempering:
Heat up the oil, add the ghee into that. (this prevents the ghee from burning).
Add the chopped ingredients from list B and saute' till golden brown. Add the cooked greens and fry for a minute. Taste the salt and adjust if required.
You are done!!!!
Serve hot spooned on top of a makki ki roti and dollops of home made butter, slices of onion and slivers of gree chillies.Yum!!!!
Or ....

To make the Makki ki Roti:

This dough kneads up soft and fluffy and is difficult to roll out. You need to pat it with your hands into a flat roti. This roti is thicker that a normal wheat chapatti.
To make it easier you can add wheat flour in the 1:4 proportion.

For 4 rotis:

2 cups      cornmeal/ makki ka atta (depends on the size of the roti too)
1/2 tsp      salt - optional
1/4 cup     wheat flour - optional
warm water

Mix the warm water to the flour/ atta to make a dough. It will be a soft crumbly dough.
Pat out into rotis with your palms (dampen them first) to a medium thickness - maybe 3-4mm. 
Or you can pat them on a flat surface.
Or pat it out on a plastic sheet as the dough tends to stick to any surface. 
Better still, you can sandwich the dough in two sheets and roll it out with a rolling pin.
Also, you can pick the roti up with the plastic sheet and turn onto the griddle without breaking it. Peel off the plastic though  :)

Pat it out....
Or try a plastic sheet....
Cook on a moderately hot griddle till one side is half-done. Turn with spatula and cook other side and back to the first till all done and golden brown.
Spread with ghee or butter and serve with the saag.
Enjoy!!! hope you like this and try this out. I would love to see how it turned out for you!!!

30 January 2013

SpeedPost to Shanghai!

Package to Shanghai!!!
I never thought I would ever mail anything to China!! 
A package originally meant to go to New York ultimately went to Shanghai. 
This is what happened.
One of my favourite social sites is Ravelry - in fact Ravelry is my Facebook.
To celebrate a Rav anniversary, in one of the forums a game was organised and I sponsored a gift for one of the winners - I would sew a project bag and throw in a few extra goodies with it. 
I was matched up with Jaya, who was one of the winners. While this was going on Jaya moved to Shanghai. Thus something meant for New York got a Shanghai address and China became the final destination. 

Indian SpeedPost and Chinese customs officials are awesome!!!! The packet was opened in China for checking but everything reached Jaya in A-one condition with a printed note telling them the pack had been inspected by them!
I am so happy!!!!

Here are the hand-mades I sewed up for her. 
(Part of the package I put together ....... no, the planter was not part of the pack  :))
In the foreground - the project bag - folded double, and a small lavender sachet.
In the background - a spinner's lap cloth - light coloured on one side and dark on the other. 
After some research I found Jaya liked the colours red, black and  grey. So my fabric choice for the project bag went with these colours. And Jaya is a spinner so I tried to make the bag big and broad and roomy to accommodate her spinning bits and bobs - hopefully. Threw in a lavender sachet for her new home - hope she likes that fragrance :)
To these hand-made things I added a set of teabags, an oven mitt and potholder set and a tea towel (store bought) - Jaya has just moved to China and her luggage is yet to arrive so these could help in the kitchen  :)
Bag measures:  
Width :  17",
height:  9.5",
base  :   2.25".
A flat/squared bottom.....
A red fabric flower (with edges left raw) and a red button......

- a black-white-red check weave for the outside and a red printed pattern for the inside lining. for info: this is a reversible bag that can be used with either side outside. To embellish it I added a fabric flower made from the red lining fabric.
For size reference - the green project yarn is a 100 gm ball.
Note:  the green project is in the bag for picture purposes only  :)
Jaya's reversible spinning lap cloth.... that measures: 22" x 13". The requirement was one side be dark and one light so contrasting coloured yarns would be visible while spinning.
 A lavender satchel that measures 4" x 4".
This has been a wonderfully satisfying project to work on and I hope Jaya finds the bag, along with the other stuff, useful in some way or the other.

I'll be writing out a simple 'how-to' for this project bag ....soon........

08 January 2013

Quick Garlic Mushrooms

Instant Gratification in a bowl.....
These are great for an instant snack to fill you up between meals ........

Chop up some mushrooms in big chunks - heat up 2-3 tsp oil in a pan - add 2-3 cloves crushed garlic to the oil - let fry for 5-10 seconds - add the mushrooms and turn up the heat, stirring all the time - add salt to taste and a sprinkling of chopped coriander - another minute and your mushrooms are done. Simple.
Mushrooms release a lot of water and you need to let that dry quickly as you fry them.

Eat them up while they're still hot and crunchy...:)
Yum, yum....

05 January 2013

A Denim bag and A T-shirt Flower

Another sewing project, another project from 'jeans' legs cut-offs' ...... a simple rectangle bag to dump your stuff in and carry along.....reversible carry-all - brushed denim on the outside, striped cotton fabric on the inside, t-shirt fabric flower and few leaves sewn on as embellishments - done!!!!
One patchwork flower....
The flower was made like so - 
Cut up the bottom of an old t-shirt into 1 1/2" strips, then start rolling a strip into a round while twisting the strip into a spiral side-by-side. Tuck the end in under and tack with a few stitches to hold in place. Sew onto the bag with a needle and thread.
The flower was sewn on to the denim before the lining was attached.
The leaves were from another old t-shirt - just cut into leaf shapes (double layer of fabric), pinned to the fabric right on to the bag and sewn over, 1-2 mm in from the edge, with a contrast colour. I ran one or two seams down the middle to imitate a vein. Done!
If the flower patch seems a little off-centre that is because it is - it was placed there to cover a grass stain :) .....
Love this bag....
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