Sunday, August 16, 2015

That Tiranga Dhokla

A long time ago at The Red Curtain we needed a spectacular food for stage. Something big and unusual that could be made at home and brought to the venue, and I came up with these tiranga dhoklas and giant laddoos. Yesterday at our local Independence Day celebrations there was a tricolour cooking competition so I made the dhoklas again after so long. My mother-in-law, who's visiting us just now, kindly made the chutney and I made the dhoklas from scratch following some excellent recipes.

The top and bottom layers are this recipe. The orange comes from ketchup and a bit of chilli powder though any red sauce will do, keeping the flavours in mind. The green comes from dhaniya chutney. You need generous amounts of both for colour and also to adjust salt accordingly in the basic dhokla batter. The central batter is from here with no changes apart from fewer ground green chillies. I made a batch each on the stovetop and microwave simultaneously and much preferred the stovetop steamed dhokla for softness and texture.

If you give them a shot, here is how I work --
1. Make the basic batters except for the Eno/baking soda part. I made twice the amount of the yellow batter, divided it in two and kept all three bowls ready.
2. Add the red sauce to one yellow batter, mix it in. Add Eno and steam till just firmed up, not fully cooked.
3. Add the Eno to the white batter and spoon gently atop the mostly cooked red dhokla. Steam till just firmed up.
4. Add the green chutney to the second yellow bater, mix it in. Add Eno and steam till cooked. Check with a skewer inserted all the way to the bottom.

If you're microwaving you need to play around with the timings and see what suits your steaming bowl and microwave. I usually make these in glass tumblers in the microwave with another glass of water in there to keep the inside of the oven moist. At 900W I steam approximately 50-60 seconds per layer but this will really depend on how thick your layer is. Your last layer might need a little extra time.

Why am I telling you all this? Because it won first prize. It wasn't the prettiest but it was tasty!

Tuesday, July 07, 2015


There comes a time, every so often in my life, when I look about me, at a life filled with richness, and question whether this is all I get.

There comes this longing, for things that haven't yet earned the right to be named, for things that cannot be named if I have to live with the aftermath of naming them, for things I haven't earned the right to yearn for.

I will be 33 tomorrow. I wonder if I'll feel the same when I'm 73.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sew Much?

The great thing about being in households run by my mother, grandmother and aunts is that they always have sewing things handy. I've never seen my grandmother crochet but when I last visited her, I wished I had a hook handy and lo, out of her cupboard came yarn and a suitable hook.

My mother even has a sewing kit in Moore Avenue where she doesn't live and where I'd occasionally rummage to find threads in colours my own box was missing. To be in a place where you have access to not just basic repair materials but also embroidery floss, fabric, hooks and knitting needles is to feel more than a little at home.

Right now we're at Ro's and one of the first things I did was mend a few clothes of Puchke's using Ayaan's sewing kit. Yet another reason why this boy makes me proud... he has a sewing kit!

Before we left Calcutta one of the first things I sorted and packed was the contents of my sewing cupboard. Deep shelves full of fabrics and notions; wools and hooks and needles; all sorts of dinky thingamajigs I rarely use but which make me so happy; threads of almost every kind, from sewing to cotton yarn. If you sew (or embroider or knit or crochet or...!) you'll know the happiness I get from all this.