If there is one person who has a tremendous influence on my cooking, it has to be my grandmother. She is a thorough perfectionist and I think my love for cooking comes from her. After spending the major part of my growing years with her, I realized that to cook for almost 50 years (my grandparents celebrated their 51 years on marriage just a week ago), with love and deriving immense amount of happiness by feeding people requires passion-for food, cooking and everything related to it. Festivals, Birthdays, Sundays, Unannounced visits- Be it any occasion, she makes deliciously wholesome food.There are people who cook because they ‘have’ to and there are people who cook because they ‘want’ to. My grandmother belongs to the latter.
With times changing, she has developed a taste for continental cuisine too. Unlike a typical orthodox brahmin grandmother, she does not find noodles- worm like, in fact she relishes on Maggi! 🙂 She loves cheese, pizza, pasta and you’ll always find a bar of chocolate in her purse. 🙂 Our phone conversations these days basically revolve around food and groom hunting 😛 (No prizes for guessing for whom ). Talk about the pressures of being the eldest grand-daughter! Sigh! Ok! Let me stop cribbing and get back to business.
There is something about street food that induces unconcealed lust. My personal favorite street food is pav-bhaji, vada-pav, sabudana vada, aloo tikki, bhel puri, pani puri and samosa. I think I have included every possible thing available. This is called love for food. So whenever I pass across these stalls selling these greasy, spicy and unhygienic bites of pure delight, I tingle with desire! Of course I must admit that I am affected by the unnecessary modern day fad of hygiene. You know what’s the best thing about street food? It has the ability to harness all that is excitable about food, gathering all the taste notes that chortle with impish delight to give us an experience that is rarely sinful , but most of the times, dirty. You know street food is like the Pied Piper. It just draws us irresistibly out of our civilized selves.
Having spoken so much about the street food and my sheer love for it, I must tell you that it was a total no-no when I was growing up. Thanks to my not-so-good immune system. Back then it was all about home cooked, wholesome, nutritious food which was accompanied by its own set of rules: finishing everything that’s on the plate and only then asking for a second serving, no wastage of food and a token of appreciation for the person who has cooked. Actually the last one wasn’t the part of the ‘rule’, but somehow I think its really important to acknowledge and appreciate, for all the hard work that has gone into cooking.
My grandmother, is aware about our (me and my cousins) love for street food and she always tries to make her own healthy versions of it at home. This recipe is a healthier version of sabudana vada and I must admit tastier too. Sabudana or Sago is basically prepared from the milk of the tapioca root.
The best way to use Sago is to soak it in water (two inch above the Sago)overnight. You’ll find the Sago nicely puffed and soft the next day. The soaking fastens the cooking process. Note that sometimes the Sago you get in supermarkets, dissolves the minute to you soak them. My advice would be to check with a little amount first and then soak the remaining if it doesn’t dissolve.
This Thalipeeth/Pancake uses very basic ingredients which we use in normal everyday cooking.
One key ingredient in any traditional recipe is patience. Something which I need to learn. In today’s age, we are so used to get things ‘instantly’ that we have probably forgotten the feeling of getting things after waiting for it patiently. While making these pancakes, I was so impatient, that I panicked (read scream) while flipping it onto the other side. Thank god! I had my mom next to me who flipped the pancake for me. Yes! My little secret is out! I really get worked up, while flipping pancakes and unmolding cakes. It’s ok! We all have weaknesses.
I have decided to share some more recipes from my grandmother’s kitchen. I dedicate this post and the next three posts to my grandmother- the person who has taught me everything about spice and life! 🙂
SAGO AND POTATO PANCAKES/SABUDANA THALIPEETH- RECIPE
Makes- 8 pancakes
2 cups – Soaked Sago
4 medium sized Potatoes-boiled and mashed
1/2 cup roasted Peanuts
2 tsp Cumin seeds
3-4 Green Chilies
1 tsp Turmeric powder
1tsp red chili powder
2 tsp fresh coriander-chopped
Salt to taste
2-3 tsp oil.
Roast the peanuts, chilies and cumin and grind them to a fine powder.
Mix sago, mashed potatoes, roasted peanut-cumin-green chili mixture, coriander, turmeric, red chili powder and salt. Mixing these ingredients well, is the key to get soft yet crispy pancakes, plus its a really nice work-out for your arms 😛
On a clean butter paper, take some amount of the sago-potato mixture and flatten it. Smear your hands with some oil, to avoid the mixture sticking on to your hands. The thickness of the flattened pancake should be intermediate.
Slowly (patience!) take off the pancake from the butter paper and flip it on the pan. It takes about 5-6 minutes to cook on each side.
Tastes great when eaten hot with a bowl of chilled curd!
More to come… 🙂