I have always been a foodie and I firmly believe that good food, when served with affection, becomes a panacea for emotional wounds. This is the reason precisely we yearn and remember the food cooked by old granny (or mother) and her calm persuasive style in which she made us eat double of our appetite! Ask any globe-trotter or a solider posted on border what he misses the most and pat will come the reply- “homemade food, what else!” My granny used to prepare lip-smacking aloo-baingan and kadhi-chaawal that I remember till date. She was an expert cook and her mere touch gave the food a magical element!
Food can heal and cure and food is what that makes the world go round. From fine dining to street chaats and from rural Indian palate to foreign fare, food in India comes in every shape, size and type. I love the rural flavor more than anything else. Another thing is that I am a staunch vegetarian so for me fruits hold a special place. Anything prepared with fruits like salads, desserts and custard, becomes lovable! The vegetable I love the most is our humble Bhindi (ladyfinger).
Here, I would love to talk about one of my most favorite recipes and that is ‘Bharwaan Bhindi & Paneer-Paratha’ (Bharwaan means stuffed). This is to be avoided if you have a high blood pressure or are allergic to paneer (fresh Indian cheese); otherwise I can bet it will be something you will send me a ‘Thank-You’ card for!
The Ladyfinger or Okra, or bhindi as we call it in Hindi, can be grown very easily in a pot/gamla. I remember when I was a kid, we had various bhindi pots that gave us around a kilo of it every week or so. I have eaten loads of home grown vegetables and I can confidently say that it is one of the most easy to grow vegetable; just give it a try!
So, there are various ways to cook this wonder vegetable that contains high quantities of vitamins A, B, C, E and K and minerals like iron, calcium and potassium. You can like make it dry, or with a little curry- that is also common. Here, I would talk about my favorite and most preferred type, the roasted one. Please do not roll your pretty eyes, it is really simple to prepare! You do not have to be a celebrity chef; even guys living in PGs can prepare it easily.
Cut bhindis along the length and fry them after stuffing with mixture of various spices. Then prepare piping hot stuffed paneer parathas! You can also add Raita to it. Take fresh curd and add chopped tomatoes and onions into it along with usual spices and you are ready!
The typical oily and spicy whiff of roasting bhindis and the low noise that they make along with freshly cut ring onions is divine. The paneer paratha, as soft as butter along with mixed pickle adds to the aroma of the meal. I love the tang of Indian spices esp cumin and garam masala. Oh! Do not forget to add three-four pinches of the latter on the top of the cooked bharwaan bhindi, without which the dish will be incomplete. For garnishing, take some fresh coriander leaves and sprinkle its chopped pieces on both, the bhindi and the paratha, for it is mood enhancing. Some lemon drops with their fresh and invigorating odor adds to the tanginess of the dish.
The presentation of the food is equally necessary. Take two candles, preferable scented (I prefer Rose/ Lavender) and some flowers in a small vase and keep them along with clean table mats. Take out the curry in a Borosil glass serving bowl so that it looks even lovelier and spread out sparkling Borosil dinner set pieces (check out their beautiful ‘Melamine Collection’ in pretty designs) so that the beauty and the aesthetic element of the meal is enhanced many times. Glassware by Borosil is not only sturdy and tough but also increases the beauty of the cuisine many-folds, providing it a very royal appeal. So, we are done- candles, good dinnerware, flowers and if you like some soft music like ‘Spanish eyes’ (Backstreet Boys)’ or ‘Young and beautiful’ (Lana Del Ray) playing in the background are enough to make the day as well as this meal memorable!
If you enjoy your own company, then go pamper yourself; nothing like it! Otherwise, call your beloved and feast on the aromatic, spicy and tangy bharwaan bhindi and yummy soft and delicious panner parathas along with a bowl full of appetizing and colorful Raita!
She/he will love you for life- take my word!!