We recently had a weekend abundant with heavy food: snacky chaat and popcorn at the movies, my dad and I made a dinner of 'bakarkani' (a buttery baked bread with almonds and raisins... lovely), and a rich, buttery daal (equally delicious), pancakes, kulfi etc.
I was motivated to try and invent my own recipe, after reading about Izy, as mentioned in my previous post.
The subtitle says 'reinvention' because of Masterchef (:P). I've often read about making zucchini pasta, with zuchinni ribbons substituting for the regular noodles. I figured that going full-out vegetable would be a little too health-freakish for my clientele, especially given what a hardcore pasta fanatic my sister is.
So I met them in the middle: The sliced zucchini and the carrots play te role of pasta, in the form of papardelle. I chopped the fusilli and the penne in order to make them the size that chopped vegetables usually are in pasta dishes. The proportions remained the same: the amount of pasta was greater than the vegetables, however I'd like to try swapping them around sometime, and using wholewheat pasta would be perfect.
The idea behind this dish is that it's a kind of detox: fresh, minimally cooked vegetables; heart-healthy walnuts and almonds; no creamy sauce, just a generous dose of olive oil (again, insanely good for you); chili flakes, salt, pepper, fresh basil and real parmesan provide all the flavour necessary for a dish that leaves you with a really clean and satisfied feeling.
Everyone goes through ups and downs. There are times when I make something stunning, or I am enjoying myself at school, and I feel like I'm on top of the world.
Other times I'm not proud of what I've created, or school isn't as fun as one would like, and I feel... like kind of ignoring the world.
I'm sure I'm not alone in that sentiment.
I came across a lovely blog called Top With Cinnamon the other day. Actually, lovely is an understatement: it's absolutely amazing.
It's neat, it has cute, colourful icons, the logo is professional (and one of my favourite colours), the photography is impeccable and the food is mouthwatering.
Here's the cherry on the cake (or icing. But I like cherries): the girl who started it is 17.
I went to the 'about' page and was suddenly blown away... 17!? And she started Top With Cinnamon when she was 15, which is my current age.
When I was telling my family about it, my sister tried to reason with me: "Yeah, but you don't know what her blog was like when she was 15."
But in fact at 15 Izy was making gorgeous chocolate cupcakes and taking professional photos of them. And you know what else? She invented the recipe- it took her 5 tries and she created a healthy chocolate cupcake recipe.
And if all that wasn't enough, she scored all A*s on her GCSEs, the same exams for which I am awaiting my results right now.
Don't get me wrong, seeing this blog made me happy: It's exciting to see teenagers emerging on the food blog scene, as well as pairing it with working hard academically. Izy's photo greets you with a bright smile and cute glasses and she writes with typical funny teenager-speak. All in all, I think she's the kind of person with whom I'd totally get along.
But it simultaneously awakened in me the fact that there's so much more to do. Success isn't measured by the grades you get. For me, what matters more is what I make of myself, what I can create and contribute to the world. And Izy has managed both of these flawlessly. I made her chocolate cupcakes the other day, after itching to try them for hours. They weren't a huge success, but I'll try again.
The process of writing this post helped me: it showed me that Izy's blog is inspiration, the same way adults' blogs inspire me. In fact, I took it on board with my semolina porridge post, attempting more interesting photos.
We all have aspirations, we all have our strengths and we all have our motivation. I need to learn to take something that doesn't boost my confidence, and turn it into something that boosts my energy and efforts.
I'm proud of Izy, for showing the world and me what teenagers are really capable of.
Grießkoch, griesmeelpap, mannagrynsgröt, blåbärsgröt, klappgrö, mannavaht, basbosa, semolina pudding, suji halwa, helva, basbousa, pizza dough, pasta...
All the words above are the names of various different dishes from around the world that use semolina- and there are dozens more.
I read about this porridge on What Should I Eat For Breakfast Today- a gorgeous and upcoming blog- and it seemed like the perfect warm, quick and healthy breakfast. What's more, it said that the porridge tastes great topped with fresh jam, and my mum had just made a pot of cherry compote.
When I told my dad about the dish he instantly knew what I was talking about: "Oh yeah, that's griesmeel." he said nonchalantly. He proceeded to describe the way in which it's cooked, how it looks, how he enjoyed it, and the ways in which it sells in Dutch supermarkets today.
Apparently he, too, has grown up having semolina porridge, and he told me about a lovely Dutch version: the semolina s cooked with sweetened milk and chilled in a cup. When you tip it out, it emerges like a dome of jelly, and it's topped with hot jam, stewed fruit or hot syrup. It sounded so tempting, but for the time being I've tried the reverse- hot pudding with a cold topping- as it seemed more fitting for damp, chilly mornings. However I'll be sure to post about the other version once I try it.
I'm so intrigued by semolina now- until a couple of days ago it was just the coarse stuff that we used in pizza and pasta dough, but now I'm dying to try out all the different dishes out there. I never realised one could make halwa (an outstanding, fluffy Indian sweet dish) from semolina, and considering it's loved by my family it's definitely on my list of things to make this summer.
Summer? Monsoons? It doesn't matter...
Oh, man. Few countries in the world experience this strange phenomenon, and India is certainly one of them. Rain, rain, ceaseless rain for at least 2 months.
I'm kind of caught in this hybrid of two seasons: on the one hand it's summer, but on the other hand it's damp and often depressing.
Last weekend the monsoons really hit Bombay and we were actually excited, as the huge overhead clouds (read: air conditioners) rolled over the city, and one could almost feel the mercury in the thermometers plunging.
We went all-out with monsoon food: my dad and I made a fresh batch of banana muffins for breakfast (as promised, I have not posted about them... but they were probably the best recipe we've tried yet: insanely fluffy and perfectly flavoured). For lunch my mum made a gorgeous lentil soup and what made it outstanding was the roasted red bell pepper she added into the pressure cooker with the lentils. Along with parathas she made a fresh mango chutney- something I've never tried before, but I absolutely loved. In total contrast, I made a peach sorbet; something that screams beaches and scorching afternoons at the park. It was nonetheless welcome: it's simple and light, and the added-on-a-whim almonds were a lovely little touch.
Warm creamy soup, sweet refreshing chutney, crispy comforting parathas, sweet 'n sour sorbet, and watching the curtains of rain compete with our flapping, wind-blown curtains.
In India monsoons aren't complete without bhutta: Indian corn roasted on a fire and smothered with lemon juice and chaat masala. It's a typical street snack, but is just as common in all households. We had an evening snack of crunchy, nostalgic bhutta and steaming masala chai, the ginger, lemon, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom wafting through the whole house, carried by the pervading mist.
However this cross of weathers has its downsides:
Family: "Have some warm, sugary tea, oh and why not add a muffin- they'll taste so nice together."
Me: "I'm alright, thanks, I just had breakfast."
Family: "Oh, come on, it's monsoon season! You have to have them!"
Family: "Let's have some ice cream!"
Me: "Nah, thanks, I'm really full."
Family: "But it's summer! It isn't summer without ice cream!"
So you see my dilemma. But all in all, I'm not complaining. This weather brings out the best and the worst in people: it can be catastrophic, a potential bonfire of frustrations of sitting all day indoors, or being cornered by dozens of honking cars and merciless rain and mud outside. You don't want to stay indoors all the time, and you don't want to go out.
But when you do stay indoors, you make the most of it with laughs, books, good food, music and lovely company.
I wrote about the fantastic fruit earlier, so here's a visual version:
My mum had the idea, and she and my sister are to thank for doing the layout, fresh after the fruit delivery.
In other news, while peeling the peaches I came across this:
I knew almonds were from the peach family, so I honestly thought I had found an almond. I was so excited to try it... and it was the most disgusting, gag-inducing thing I have tried. It was translucent, watery, and shockingly bitter. At least I tried it.
How's your summer going? Are you in rainy Europe? Enduring the Chicago heat? What do you make of the Bombay 'Summonsoon'? Or is your summer something totally different?