Thursday, April 7, 2011

Of Sabbaticals and Saag...

I'm quite tired of people asking me - 'So when are you getting back to work?' I know they don't mean to pry (yes, my belief in human kindness is amazing!). It just seems like a polite question you ask someone who has been working since the day she turned 18 and has now suddenly turned into a housewife I guess... But it unsettles me, because I do not have the answer to that question. When am I getting back to work? I don't know. What do I want to do next? I don't know. Will I ever get back to work? I don't know!

People who know me well may say that this is what happens when an innately lazy person like me goes on a break... You get so used to the laziness that you can never quite bring yourself to get back to the grind. Could be true considering how I haven't woken up before 9am on any given day since the day I quit my job. Unless of course we have breakfast plans (which become brunch plans coz I still don't wake up), or a flight to catch, or in-laws are home (in which case it lasts for all of 2 days before in-laws feel sorry for the bleary-eyed, zombie-me and insist I sleep in :)

So whenever I get too many of those 'what are you going to do next' kinda questions, I either cook to make myself feel useful, or blog about what I have cooked - again, to prove I'm not just wasting my time. Sigh... ok, I do know that trying to prove I'm useful IS wasting my time but who said I'm perfect?!

So the last time these questions got to me, there was nothing left to do but head to the kitchen for 10min of stress-busting! Yes, this is what I rustled up in just about 10min.Saaga Bhaja

Saaga Bhaja
is a traditional Oriya dish that we used to have almost every other day during the winter months in Orissa. I have no clue if the greens (Saag) we used to get in Bhubaneshwar is the same that we get here in Mumbai, but I basically use Chawli ki Saag or Green Amaranth leaves. It's a super-quick and healthy recipe great for the winter months, and trust me it tastes nothing like 'healthy' greens :D


Amaranth/Chawli leaves - 1 large bunch
Mustard Oil - 2 tbsp
Garlic - 5 to 6 cloves
Black gram/Urad Dal - 1/2 tsp
Split Chickpeas/Channa Dal - 1/2 tsp
Dry Red Chillies - 2

Wash the amaranth bunch well and separate the leaves from the stalks. Pat the leaves dry and set aside. Crush the garlic cloves with the back of a spoon or ladle. In a shallow pan or non-stick vessel, heat the mustard oil and add the garlic, dried red chillies, urad dal and channa dal just as the oil starts smoking. Fry them just till the lentils turn golden brown and then quickly add in the washed and dried amaranth leaves. Sprinkle some salt and keep tossing till the leaves wilt.

The way I like it:Now in the picture above you can also see this misshapen brown thingy which is called badi/vadiyam/vadiyan. The ones here are made with ash gourd pieces dipped in an urad dal-
spice batter, sun dried for weeks and then stored and deep-fried whenever you like. I use store-brought ones that you can find in any city in South India. But my mom and grandma used to make them at home for using all the year through.

These badis taste great when added to the Saaga Bhaja. Just deep fry them on high flame till they swell and turn a nice shade of brown and crush them gently into the cooked greens. Great as a side-dish with rice or rotis and dal.

PS - I promise my next post will be one full of awards received and passed on. Thanks all you guys for all the love!