Snack Idea| Surti Sev Khamni| Gujarati Gram Dal-Based Snack

It all started with a plate of Dhokla Bhel at Agarwal’s in HSR Layout. It is a great place to have North Indian-style chaats, BTW, but more on that later. Today, I am here to tell you about what that Dhokla Bhel inspired me to do.

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Dhokla Bhel at Agarwal’s, HSR Layout

The dish was a visual delight, with some pillow-soft khaman (known in this part of the country as ‘dhokla‘) strewn over some gorgeous-looking bhel. It tasted delicious, too. The khaman melted in the mouth, and the bhel was beautifully mixed up. All in all, a chaat lover like me couldn’t have asked for more. Before I tasted this, I never thought khaman and bhel could make such a lovely pair together! But they do!

The OH and I got over a big discussion over the Dhokla Bhel, and we talked about how it reminded me of Sev Khamni, a dish from the city of Surat in Gujarat. A host of memories flooded through me – of how Appa would get a packet of the khamni from a roadside vendor on his way back home from office every now and then, the strong garlick-y smell of it, and how I would sniff the packet out even before Appa had handed it to me. I told the OH of how some vendors would just crumble up leftover khaman, sprinkle lots of sev, coriander, and pomegranate arils over it, and try to pass it off as khamni. But that was Amiri Khaman, not authentic Surti Sev Khamni. Sev Khamni was an entirely different dish – made with soaked gram dal ground with spices, a whole lot of garlic and, of course, loads of coriander, sev, and pomegranate seeds. I told the OH of how the dish had to be made with a lot of garlic, so that the gas-inducing properties of the gram dal could be mitigated. I told the OH of how the stuff that Appa used to get home, all those years back, was the original thing, and of how I would love it so. Over the course of the high-spirited conversation, we realised that the OH has never had sev khamni, ever! Now, we can’t have that happening, can we? So, a quick shopping expedition happened immediately and ingredients were picked up to make it at home the very next day.

In spite of having loved sev khamni so much, I never attempted to make it at home all these years – it was always something that I had off of a roadside cart in Ahmedabad. A trip to Ahmedabad is nowhere on the horizon now, however, and it has been ages since we visited. I had to try and recreate the beautiful flavours of the khamni at home – I had to share the magic of it with the OH. So, that is how the khamni was made at home and, beginner’s luck or whatever, it turned out lovely, with exactly the same taste as I remember from my days in Ahmedabad. The OH loved it to bits, I am thrilled to say! I am happy I took the plunge, happy that I can now go back to this recipe whenever my heart longed too much for Gujarat.

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Surti Sev Khamni, made by moi!

There are a couple of different methods to make khamni, but I used the traditional method mentioned here. The quantity of oil that the recipe requires is a bit on the higher side, but I think, once in a while, it can be excused. The next time, though, I am going to try making a steamed version, relatively healthier, and see if I can still get the same taste.

For now, though, I will note down the recipe that I used. I made very minor changes to the original recipe, and will jot it down here, for the sake of reference.

Ingredients (for about 6 medium-sized servings):

2 cups gram dal/chana dal – soaked for 3-4 hours

Salt, to taste

1-inch piece of ginger, peeled

6-7 big cloves of garlic, peeled

A pinch of asafoetida

4 green chillies

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon coriander seeds-cumin powder

Red chilli powder, to taste (if needed)

1 cup milk

6 tablespoons oil

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

Sugar, to taste

Lemon juice, to taste

A small bunch of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped

Seeds from 1 large pomegranate

Lots and lots of fine sev

1 large onion, finely chopped (optional)

Some grated fresh coconut (optional)

Method:

  1. Once the gram dal has been soaked, drain out excess water if any. Grind in a mixer to a coarse paste, adding a bit of water only if needed. Do not make a very fine paste, make a coarse one. Keep aside.
  2. Grind the ginger, green chillies, and garlic to a paste in a mixer, using a little water if needed. Keep aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the mustard seeds and let them splutter.
  4. Now, add the asafoetida, the crushed chana dal, salt and sugar to taste, coriander seeds-cumin powder, and turmeric powder. Mix well. Turn the flame to low and cook for about 5 minutes. Keep adding the milk bit by bit to the pan, to ensure that the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom.
  5. Now, add the ginger-garlic-green chillies paste and red chilli powder (if using) to the pan. Mix well. Cook for a few more minutes on a low flame, adding the rest of the milk at regular intervals, till the smell of the garlic is not overly powerful.
  6. Switch off the gas and mix in the lemon juice.
  7. Let the mixture cool down completely before you serve the khamni.
  8. When you are ready to serve the khamni, make six portions of the chana dal mixture and place them in bowls/plates. Sprinkle generous amounts of chopped fresh coriander leaves, sev, finely chopped onion (if using), grated coconut (if using), and pomegranate seeds over each portion. Ensure that the coriander, sev, onion, coconut, and pomegranate are added to the dish just before serving, otherwise the sev becomes too soggy. Serve!

Have you ever had Surti Sev Khamni? Do you like it? If you haven’t tried it ever, you absolutely must give this recipe a shot!

 

 

Bittersweet Bubboo Moments

These days, almost every attempt to put a morsel of food into Bubboo’s mouth is met with violent shaking of her head. These morsels are usually grabbed away by her little hands before I can feed them to her. She then proceeds to put the food into her own mouth. The few times I do put in a bite or two of food into her mouth, just because I want to feed her, there is a loud wail, accompanied by the pulling out of said bites of food out of the mouth, and an attempt to put them back into the mouth on her own. Heights of independence, no?

Madame doesn’t want me holding her while she stands on our living room sofa and looks out the window, or when she is sitting on the edge of the bed. She has made that abundantly clear, too. Every attempt of mine to hold her at these times is met with a shriek, and the pushing off of my hands.

It looks like her breastfeeding days have come to an end, too. She doesn’t seem to need the comfort of her mother’s breast to get to sleep any more. There’s no holding or hugging her, either. She wants to wriggle out of my grasp as soon as she can, and get to exploring the world around her.

Where did my cute baby go? Who is this super-independent little girl who has replaced her? Could you please tell me something to make me not feel this bereft?

Easy Dessert| Eggless, Creamy Lemon Ice Cream Without Ice Cream Maker

I have always been in awe of the huge lemons that you get in the US of A, the ones that are the size of an adult palm. I have always wanted to get my hands on at least one of these lemons, and use the zest in some kind of dessert. So, when the husband brought home two such huge lemons from his recent work trip, I was enthralled and in no doubt about what to make.

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I chose to make lemon ice cream, a sinfully creamy and delicious dessert that is super easy to put together. I made it a few years back and proceeded to forget all about it, only to have the memories come flooding back as I held the two lemons from Turkey in my hands.

This lemon ice cream, as I said, is very simple to make. All you need to do is mix up a few ingredients, and let your freezer do the rest. It doesn’t need an ice cream maker, yes. It tastes beautiful, once you train your mind to get past the tanginess that is uncommon in an ice cream. At least, everyone in our family loves it to bits.

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Without further ado, I will tell you how I made the lemon ice cream.

Ingredients (for about 6 medium-sized servings):

1 cup fresh cream (I used Amul)

3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk (I used Amul)

3 tablespoons of powdered sugar

A pinch of salt

1/2 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon lemon zest (I grated the peel of the lemon finely, using an ordinary cheese grater, taking care not to grate the white part of the rind, as that would make the dessert bitter)

Method:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk for a minute or two, till everything is well combined together.
  3. Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to a smaller bowl, and place it, covered, in the freezer, with the temperature set at high.
  4. Let the ice cream chill in the freezer for at least a couple of hours or till serving. There is no need to churn it at regular intervals of time, as you would in case of traditional ice cream.
  5. Serve as soon as the ice cream is out of the freezer, garnished with a bit more lemon zest.

Does this recipe sound intriguing to you? If you do decide to try it out, please don’t forget to let me know how it turned out, OK?

Do you make similar simple desserts at home, too? If so, do share the recipes!

 

Easy Dessert| No-Bake Vanilla Ice Cream Pie With Fresh Grapes, And Strawberry And Butterscotch Syrup

I got to know of ice cream pies while I was reading up on how to prepare this tart. There are thousands of recipes for ice cream pies on the Internet, many of which seemed highly promising. In fact, you can do whatever you want to with these pies – you can go as far as your imagination can take you. You can use different kinds of ice creams, different types of cookies to make the base, different kinds of toppings, et al.

I wanted to make something different, something special to welcome the OH home after his big work trip, and decided upon an ice cream pie. Since it was to be my first time making one, I chose to do it very simply, as always inspired by several different recipes. I chose to make a no-bake base with digestive cookies, use the OH’s favourite vanilla ice cream, top them up with fresh grapes that are in season and the hazelnuts that the OH got home from Turkey (Greenboochi, are you reading? :) ), and add strawberry and butterscotch syrup for an extra zing. The result was stunning, if I say so myself, both visually and taste-wise. The pie turned out to be an instant hit at home.

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This pie is so very easy to put together! I so know this is only the first of the many ice cream pies that I am going to make at home. I am so going to turn to this recipe whenever I have guests over and I need to whip up a simple but satisfying dessert.

Here is how I made the pie.

Ingredients (for about 6 medium-sized servings):

For the base:

200 gm digestive biscuits (I used McVitties)

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

50 gm unsalted butter (left at room temperature for a couple of hours)

For the filling and topping:

400 ml vanilla ice cream (left at room temperature for a couple of hours)

Strawberry syrup, as needed (I used Dr. Oetkar brand)

Butterscotch syrup, as needed (I used Dr. Oetkar brand)

A few shelled hazelnuts, for decoration

A few fresh grapes, for decoration, cut into halves

Method:

For the base:

  1. Grind the biscuits to a powder in a mixer.
  2. Take the powder in a large mixing bowl, and add the powdered sugar and butter.
  3. Bind the biscuit powder into a firm dough.
  4. Grease a medium-sized pie tin or plate and spread the dough evenly all over its bottom and sides. Ensure that you do not spread it out too thickly or too thinly, and that it is evenly spread out all over. Let the plate chill, covered, in the freezer for at least 20 minutes.

For the filling:

  1. After 20 minutes, get the pie base out of the freezer.
  2. Fill up half the base with the vanilla ice cream.
  3. Drizzle strawberry syrup and butterscotch syrup over this.
  4. Add more vanilla ice cream over the syrup, till the brim of the pie base.
  5. Decorate with drizzles of butterscotch syrup.
  6. Cover the plate without disturbing the decoration and place it in the freezer for at least a couple of hours. You could leave it in till you are ready to serve the pie.

For the toppings:

  1. Once you are ready to serve the pie, decorate it with the halved fresh grapes and hazelnuts.
  2. If you want to, you could even use other fruits like kiwi and custard apple to do the decoration, as well as add a whole lot of other decorations like colourful sprinkles, chocolate shavings, cashewnuts and almonds. I restricted myself to just the grapes and hazelnuts.
  3. Serve immediately.

Ta da! Your pie is now ready to be cut and served!

Did you like the sound of this recipe? If you try it out, please do let me know how it turned out, will you? :)

If you have any suggestions/ideas for more such pies, I’m all ears!

 

 

 

Of Eating Turkish Kestane In Bangalore

Little carts with striped awnings are quite a common sight on the streets of Istanbul, the OH tells me. These carts largely sell boiled corn and smoked water chestnuts, the latter known locally as ‘Kestane’. I am guessing this is a winter thing, and that the corn and water chestnuts will soon be replaced by some other delicacies as summer sets in.

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A cart selling Kestane and boiled corn outside the Blue Mosque, Istanbul. Photo Courtesy: The OH

The OH knew that I would have wanted to try out the Kestane, had I been with him. He was quick to grab a bag of raw chestnuts from a nearby departmental store, to carry back home with him, in spite of being subjected to ridicule by his colleagues, he tells me. Just hearing that made my day, for obvious reasons. :)

One of the perks of having a husband who travels a lot on work is that you get to see the places you might never have thought about earlier, through his eyes. That, and the fact that you get souvenirs of all kinds, from all of these places, water chestnuts included.

For my benefit, the OH went on to take a few close-up shots of the cart, again only to be subjected to ridicule by his colleagues, so that I could know exactly how the chestnuts were cooked – on a charcoal fire. Apparently, there are no trash cans around and the peels left over after the smoked chestnuts have been eaten are added to the hot coals in the grate. They then create energy to cook more chestnuts.

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A close-up of the smoked water chestnuts and the charcoal fire on which they are cooked. Photo Courtesy: The OH

The water chestnuts that the OH got home gave us the perfect opportunity to fire up the Rajasthani charcoal stove that we had picked up ages ago at a fair in Chitrakala Parishath, Bangalore, but never used. We set up the stove in our balcony, kindled the fire, smoked the chestnuts, and went on to hog them. They tasted delicious – sweet and smoky and very different in taste from the singoda aka singhada aka Indian water chestnut. Thanks to the Internet, I now understand that the singoda and this water chestnut come from different plants, and are not the same. This is the water chestnut that is used in the preparation of several Chinese dishes, and not singoda.

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Our charcoal stove being fired in the balcony yesterday

It was a beautiful experience to shell these chestnuts and eat the sweet kernels, enjoying the warmth of them in our hands just when the evening had started to get chilly. I can see why they are a favourite snack out of India on winter evenings – as I have read in quite a few books. I just love it when books and real life intersect like that!

I can only imagine how beautiful it would be to sit with the OH on a bench overlooking the busy Turkish street where he bought the water chestnuts from, eating them out of a paper cone. Some day…

From Turkey, With Love

My love affair with Turkey – Istanbul in particular – started quite a few years back, when I was working with a huge corporate, and I learnt that my colleagues from the Marketing team were headed to Istanbul as an incentive for achieving their sales targets. I was jealous, but more than that, I was intrigued by the place. It was then that I consciously began reading articles and blog posts and tidbits relating to Turkey – I didn’t do any research per se on the place, but listened with open ears whenever anyone had something to say about it. I attended Ruhaniyat a couple of years back just so I could see the whirling dervishes of Turkey in action. I read The Forty Rules Of Love just because the author was Turkish, and though I didn’t like the book much, it did get me intrigued by Turkey all over again. I saw loads of pictures of Istanbul, and knew that this was one of the many places I would definitely want to visit at least once in my life time. This post was written on a whim, inspired by my dream to visit Istanbul. So, I was more than a tad surprised when the OH announced, about a month back, that was expected to head to Istanbul for a work trip, soon. That is the trip I was talking about here.

Much as both of us would have liked it, there were several factors that prevented me and Bubboo from travelling along with him. Before he travelled, though, I made sure I downloaded all that I knew about Turkey onto him. :) He was utterly surprised to know that I knew a whole host of things about the place – from where one can go for a hot-air balloon ride to what souvenirs one can pick up there. I think it was then that he really understood how big a dream of mine it was to visit the place. “Next time, we’ll go to Turkey together,” I told the OH, “For now, you go. Experience the place for me. When you are back, tell me every single thing you did there in minute detail, so that I can see and feel the place through you.” And that is just what he did. The OH is now back from his trip, with loads of photos, experiences, memories, gifts, and things to tell me. Now, Istanbul doesn’t sound like all that distant a place. The OH’s visit there has made me crave even more to plan a trip there, and soon!

Now, I have bits and pieces of Istanbul in my home – hand-made soaps and perfume and evil eye souvenirs, and what not.

I have a box of baklava and one of Turkish delight sitting in my kitchen, waiting to be my post-lunch sweet treat.

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Turkish delight in various flavours
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Baklava in various forms

Sultan Spice and Turkish Biryani Masala from Istanbul’s Spice Market occupy pride of place in my spice rack now. A packet of Turkish coffee waits to go into my coffee filter, for tomorrow morning. Chocolates, walnuts, dates, and hazelnuts travelled all the way from Turkey to my home, too, and I am still figuring out what to do with them. I have a bag of water chestnuts off the streets of Istanbul, waiting to be roasted and devoured in the afternoon.

Most of the souvenirs that the OH has picked up for me are of the foodie type, yes. He knows his wife a tad too well!

The foodie in me is very happy at the moment, content. The traveller in me is yearning, and wants a release for all the pent-up wanderlust in her.

For now, I eat and dream away….

Just Read

Eat Cake – Jeanne Ray

Genre: Chick-lit, foodie fiction

Having enjoyed Jeanne Ray’s Julie & Romeo quite a while ago, I wonder what took me so long to pick up another book by the author. I did pick up her Eat Cake recently, though, and liked it just as much as Julie & Romeo.

Eat Cake is the story of Ruth is a middle-aged housewife who feels lost in all the chaos and stresses that surround her in everyday life. Her mother came to live with them after a burglary at her place, and seems to have lost all her confidence. Her daughter is sulking big-time, and seems to want to spend all her time alone. Her husband has lost his job. What’s more, her father has met with an accident and needs to come and live with them, as she is the only real family he has got. Oh, and her father and mother haven’t lived together since years, and they fight like cats and dogs, all the time. The only thing that gives Ruth solace in the midst of all this hullabaloo is baking cakes. Ruth has always been a baker of exquisite cakes, and that is the only thing that destresses her. With her father’s coming home, and all life as she knows it threatening to go downhill, will Ruth still be able to find the same kind of comfort in baking cakes? You have to read Eat Cake to find out!

The storyline is typically chick-lit, yes, but the author has built the characters and used her words quite intelligently, making the book an interesting read. At times, the storyline seems very frivolous, like something out of a highly commercial Bollywood movie, but the book still manages to entertain. That is what I liked about it. Some of the dialogues are really intelligent, and the characters are very realistic. And then, there are the cakes – fantastical confections made up of chocolate and lemon and sweet potatoes and what not! The descriptions of the cakes were gorgeous, absolutely drool-worthy.

I had one grouse with the book – it seemed a tad rushed towards the end. The story progresses smoothly and slowly till a point, and then it begins to hurry up like anything. I would have liked the book better, if the ending had been a bit more gradual.

Overall, this is a nice light read, a short one that you can read in a day or two. It is sort of a cutesy fairytale with some beautiful cakes thrown in, without it being too dumb or too blah a read. I would tell you to give it a try, in spite of the unrealistic elements that are part of the book – they only make the read more fun and do not detract from the experience. It is well-written and well-developed chick-lit, I would say. Why don’t you check it out?

Joy For Beginners – Erica Bauermeister

Genre: Chick-lit, fiction

I loved, loved, loved Erica Bauermeister’s The School Of Essential Ingredients, and, again, I wonder why I didn’t pick up another book by the author till very recently! I decided to read Joy For Beginners by Erica Bauermeister last week, and just finished it. Though it was not as wonderful a read as The School Of Essential Ingredients, it was a very interesting book nonetheless.

In Seattle, six women attend a ‘victory party’ for their friend Kate, who has survived cancer. Kate’s daughter has challenged her to navigate the Grand Canyon with her, and she has accepted. At the party, Kate challenges each of her friends to do something that they have been afraid of or something that they need to do, but never got around to doing. She didn’t get to choose her adventure, so it is only fair that she choose the challenges for her friends, Kate says. Her friends agree. Thanks to Kate, each of her friends comes face-to-face with a challenge that will change their life, change them. What are these challenges that Kate puts her friends up to? Will her friends succeed at them? That is what makes up Joy For Beginners.

Again, Joy For Beginners was chick-lit, but there were a lot of factors that elevated it above the level of ‘dumb’. The author definitely has a way with words; she has that ability of beautifully conveying the littlest of life moments, the subtlest of emotions, in a way that will capture your heart – and that is evident in Joy For Beginners. I would advise you to read this book only for the author’s writing style – that said, there is definitely more than writing style to this book.

The characters are very real, with real emotions and conflicts. I loved the way the author builds her characters, using little bits and pieces from their everyday lives. I like how she portrays her characters as ordinary human beings, with feelings and problems just like you and me, but makes them sound super interesting.

I didn’t connect with this book the way I did with The School Of Essential Ingredients. Some characters resonated a whole lot with me, but some didn’t at all. The book didn’t touch me the same way The School Of Essential Ingredients did, as a whole, but some parts were so impactful they were like a punch in the gut.

Here are some parts I loved from the book:

“You know,” Marion said, “I met a woman once when I was a teenager. I knew she had gone through a lot but she was so strong, so compassionate. I asked her how she could be the way she was, and you know what she told me?”

Hadley shook her head.

“She said, ‘You can be broken, or broken open. That choice is yours.”

 

“Okay, everybody ready?” Tubas burped and clown horns blared. “Okay, but before we go…” A drum rolled, badly, and laughter erupted. “What is the motto of the race?” the announcer yelled out. The crowd roared back, the words muddied.

“What did they say?”Sara asked her father. He looked down at her and smiled.

“They said – Adults need to have fun so children will want to grow up.”

 

I think love is kind of like those waves out there,” she said. “You ride one in to the beach, and it’s the most amazing thing you’ve ever felt. But at some point the water goes back out; it has to. And maybe you’re lucky – maybe you’re both too busy to do anything drastic. Maybe you’re good as friends, so you stay. And then something happens – maybe it’s something as big as a baby, or as small as him unloading the dishwasher – and the wave comes back in again. And it does that, over and over. I just think sometimes people forget to wait.

Like The School Of Essential Ingredients, Joy For Beginners too doesn’t have a proper beginning, middle, and end. The book is divided into chapters – one for each character – and each chapter describes little segments from the lives of the characters. It takes some getting used to, the style, but once you are into it, there is no looking back, I think.

As I said earlier, I would recommend this book to you just for the beautiful writing style of the author’s.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think about them?

What are you reading at the moment?

The Birth Story

This is Bubboo’s birth story, for all those of you who have asked me for it. I narrate it my way, the way I know I can do it best.

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I was in the seventh month of my pregnancy when my gynaecologist told me the baby in my stomach looked quite small, and that it was not growing as well as it should. I was told to eat very well, every two hours or so, protein-rich food that included boiled eggs. I religiously followed her advice, even though I had never had boiled eggs before and I hated them from the start, even though it was so very difficult to eat every two hours.

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A month later, when I was about 32 weeks pregnant, I underwent a scan. The gynaecologist told me the baby appeared to be developing normally, but was not gaining weight as anticipated. She told me to continue with my diet and a normal lifestyle. I would have to meet her weekly henceforth, she told me. ‘Be prepared for the fact that your delivery might be earlier than we anticipated initially. Some babies do not grow well in the mother’s stomach – they are better delivered sooner, when they are active and the mother’s fluid levels are normal. The baby can then grow out of the mother’s womb, and we have seen a high success rate with that. The maximum I would advise you to carry this baby is 36 weeks, after which your baby will be full-term. At 36 weeks, if you do not have labour pains automatically, please get admitted, and we will have to start delivery proceedings,” she told me.

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I kept visiting my doctor every week, and she monitored the baby’s movements closely. I religiously kept at my diet and tried to remain as calm and collected as I could. I couldn’t wait for the baby to be out, by this time. I was tired. The 36th week came and went, and I didn’t have any labour pains. All throughout, my fluid levels and the baby’s movements were normal. It was a perfectly eventless pregnancy otherwise.

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I visited the gynaecologist again after the 36th week, and she told me to choose any day in the next week, to inform her, and to get admitted. The OH applied for leave, and all of us started counting down, palms sweaty and biting our nails.

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Just one day after the last gynaecologist appointment, I developed a bad cold and cough and the beginnings of fever. I couldn’t sleep all night, thanks to the cold, and was shivering. Apparently, someone at the hospital had had a bad bug while I was visiting, and I was vulnerable enough to catch it. All of us were super scared, but were gratified to feel the baby still actively kicking inside me. At this stage, I was dead tired and wanted the baby out, any which way. I couldn’t even imagine how I was going to go through the delivery. That night, I just managed to catch a few winks, and when I woke up the next day, I felt different. I knew that something had changed. I hadn’t read up much on the Internet, but I knew what the ‘breaking of water’ meant, and I had a feeling my water had broken. The OH took me to the emergency room in the morning, where I was checked by a junior doctor. I was kept under observation till evening, but there wasn’t enough water for them to be concerned. My gynaecologist co-ordinated with the junior doctors over the phone. In the late evening, I was sent home, with instructions to take it easy, and to come back if I had pain or bleeding. False alarm, we said, and headed back home. The mother and the OH watched over me like hawks.

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A couple of hours after we were home, I started getting very uneasy. I was not able to eat or sleep or read or eat or drink or focus on anything. I started getting a faint pain in the lower abdomen and back, but was not sure if it was the beginning of labour pain. I was still coughing and sneezing and shivering, but there was no fever, thanks to the mild medicines my gynaecologist had prescribed. I told my mother and husband to take me to the labour room immediately – I knew that I was not alright. The OH called my gynaecologist immediately, and we headed to the labour room, carrying the bag we had packed and kept ready a couple of days before. It was about 10 PM when I got admitted.

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In the labour room, I was checked by a team of doctors who told me my water had broken in the morning, but that the sac had broken from the top instead of at the bottom, as it usually does. That was why there hadn’t been the gushing of water, as it usually is. By sheer chance, all the fluid in the sac hadn’t drained out, and the baby was safe. My vitals were constantly monitored, and they appeared to be normal. By then, I was getting regular contractions, along with the coughing and sneezing and shivering. I had already had a discussion with the OH about a C-section, and both of us were fine with it. I requested my doctor for a C-section, and she told me it was my right to choose the mode of delivery, as the mother. I was slated for a C-section the next morning at 6 AM, as soon as the operation theatre would start functioning. All night long, we waited, with bated breath.

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I was rushed to the operation theatre at 4 AM, instead of waiting till 6 AM, as the baby’s heartbeat had started dipping. I opted to be conscious through the delivery, so that I could hear the baby’s first cry. I was cut open, but I didn’t feel a thing, honestly. I wasn’t even scared by that point. Bubboo came into the world soon after.

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I happened to have a rather sweet anesthesiologist during the surgery, who told me I could take my glasses into the operation theatre if I wanted to see the baby post the surgery. :D I did just that. It was he who asked me if I could hear the baby cry. It was only then that I knew the baby was out. :P ‘Is it a girl?,’ I asked him, and he nodded in the affirmative. The very next question I asked him was ‘What is the birth weight?’. Yes, I had grown so knackered by the lack-of-weight-gain thing by then that I could think of nothing else. He told me she weighed 2.94 kg, and told me my baby girl was perfectly okay. I could feel nothing but relief. He laid the baby next to me, and asked if I would like to kiss her. Feeling like a dumb fool, I kissed the gorgeous bundle, swaddled in white, that lay next to me. She is tiny, but not as tiny as I had thought, was my first thought.

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The baby was then checked by a team of paediatricians, and declared perfectly healthy. She was sent to the labour room, to be watched over by my mother and the OH, while I was asked to stay back in the operation theatre till I got back the sensation in my body. I hadn’t slept for two nights, and kept dozing off, much to the worry of the operation theatre attendants. They kept waking me up to ask if I was okay, to make sure I had not passed out, and I told them I was extremely tired and only wanted to sleep. :P It was only by noon that I could move my legs, and was wheeled to the labour ward to be with our baby.

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In retrospect, the C-section had been a good decision, as the gynaecologist told us later. The umbilical cord had wound three times around the baby’s neck, and a normal delivery would have been very painful and traumatic. It is good we didn’t waste time on trying for a vaginal delivery and went straight for a C-section, she said. I heaved one more sigh of relief on hearing that.

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Bubboo’s being safe in spite of my sac having been open for almost an entire day, her heartbeat dipping just before the delivery, with my severe cold and cough, and the umbilical cord winding itself thrice around her neck, is what made me feel that she was destined to come into the world, come what may. Bubboo was pretty determined to make it, too, as I said here.

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I think it was only when I reached my bed in the labour ward, with my baby placed in my arms, that my head cleared. It was only then that I realised I was a mother, that my baby was out of my body, and in my hands. I then fell in love with Bubboo bit by bit. By the time we left the hospital, three days later, I was utterly besotted with her.

Tuver Lilva Ane Bateta Ni Kachori | Gujarati Fried Dumplings With A Potato And Pigeon Peas Stuffing

I am a big lover of tuver lilva or pigeon peas, as you might already be knowing. When they are available in abundance, in the winters, I usually use them to make Undhiyu, one of my most favourite Gujarati dishes. This year, I made undhiyu a couple of times and this Gujarati shaak, but didn’t get the chance to cook much of anything else using tuver lilva. Recently, I came across what are probably the last of the tuver lilva this season, and couldn’t resist buying some. I used them to make a Gujarati-style kachori for a tea-time snack, which turned out delicious and was much loved.

Gujarati tuver lilva kachoris are very different from the Rajasthani kachoris, which look like big, hard pooris and need to be filled up with sweet and spicy chutneys. The Gujarati kachori is more like a deep-fried dumpling, with a samosa-like stuffing in it. The stuffing could be anything – plain pigeon peas with a variety of spices added to them, a mix of pigeon peas and potato, just potato, green peas and potato, dry fruits, daal, or just green peas, to name a few. For my kachoris, I used a stuffing made up of potatoes and pigeon peas.

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I made them exactly the way we used to make them all those years back, in Ahmedabad. These kachoris take a lot of work, and back then, making them would be a family affair. Everyone would pitch in with their little bit – someone would boil and peel the potatoes, someone would shell the pigeon peas, someone would get the spices ready for the filling, someone would bind the dough for the outer shell, and so on and so forth. After all, there were kilos of pigeon peas to go through and several scores of kachoris to be made for all of the joint family! Aah, do I miss those times or what?! Anyways, I limited myself to making just about 20 kachoris or so. The nostalgia did hit me big time, though. :)

Now, without further delay, let me tell you how I made them, ok?

Recipe

Ingredients (for about 20 kachoris):

For the stuffing:

About 500 g of pigeon peas

3-4 medium-sized potatoes

A 1-inch piece of ginger

4 green chillies

A small bunch of coriander

About 5 large cloves of garlic

Juice of 1/2 large lemon

Salt, to taste

Red chilli powder, to taste, if needed

A pinch of asafoetida

Sugar, to taste

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

2 teaspoons garam masala

4 tablespoons oil

For the outer shell:

1 cup wheat flour

1/2 cup maida (Using only wheat flour doesn’t yield crispy kachoris, so a bit of maida needs to be mixed in)

Salt, to taste

1 teaspoon oil

Other ingredients:

Oil for frying

Method:

Get the dough for the outer covering ready first, and leave it to rest while you prepare the stuffing.

For the dough:

In a large mixing bowl, mix the wheat flour, maida, salt and oil.  Adding warm water bit by bit, bind the ingredients into a hard dough. The dough should be pliable, but not too squishy. Let the dough rest, covered, till the time you get the stuffing ready.

For the stuffing:

  1. Cut the potatoes into halves. Boil them in a pressure cooker for about 4 whistles. When they have cooled off completely, remove the skins and mash them thoroughly. Keep aside.
  2. Shell the pigeon peas. Pulse them a bit using a hand mixer or an electric mixer. Do not crush them to a paste – you just need to pulse them coarsely. Keep aside.
  3. Peel the ginger and garlic, and grind them to a paste with the green chillies, in a mixer. Keep aside.
  4. Chop the coriander leaves finely. Keep aside.
  5. Heat the 4 tablespoons of oil in a deep-bottomed pan. Add the asafoetida and the ginger-garlic-green chillies paste. When the raw smell of the ginger disappears, add the crushed pigeon peas. Cook for a few minutes, till the raw smell goes away. Now, add the mashed potatoes, salt and sugar to taste, turmeric powder, garam masala, red chilli powder (if using), and the coriander leaves. Mix well. Let everything cook together for a minute or two, and switch off the gas.
  6. Now, add the lemon juice to the potato mixture. Mix thoroughly. Let the stuffing cool down completely.

Assembling and frying:

  1. Heat the oil for frying in a deep-bottomed pan, till it starts smoking. Meanwhile, get the outer covering for the dumplings ready.
  2. Divide the dough for the outer covering into equal-sized balls.
  3. Using wheat flour for dusting as and when required, roll one of the balls of dough into a small, thick round.
  4. Place a generous portion of the stuffing inside the round. Cover the dumpling, and pinch off the excess dough using your fingers.
  5. Deep-fry the dumpling in the hot oil, keeping the gas on low, till it turns brown. Turn it over a couple of times, to ensure that it is fried evenly. Remove from the oil and place it on tissue paper to drain out the excess oil.
  6. Prepare all the kachoris in a similar fashion. Serve them hot with sweet and spicy chutneys or with tomato ketchup.

The hint of lemon and sugar in these kachoris give them an awesome taste that is very Gujarati. If you aren’t a big fan of sugar, you might want to skip adding it altogether.

Do you like kachoris? How do you make them at home? Tell me all about them!