Revisiting childhood - Indian style macroni and Wheat halwa

7:08 PM

Memories are like a maze, like a treasure chest...once you get in, you don't know where it leads to. Which nook and corner of your life you end up revisiting. You might some emotions that were lying dormant for so long. Or start thinking about someone you thought you had long forgotten. Yes its a fun ride.
But unlike these guest visitors, some memories are stamped in your heart and minds...forever. And memories of childhood, the house you realized was home, the family that you were born with...all of them, and much , are part of you. They don't need a revisit...its simply part of the whole you have become.

The simplest and the mundane of life can be a chip of the old block. And food I believe is a big torchbearer of such memories, habits and traditions. I don't remember being a foodie while growing up, nor did we used to visit fancy restaurants. Take aways meant samosas and chaat. So yes I grew on simply homely meals, the type that still keeps our kitchen fire burning. Its sweetly gratifying to see my son loving the same simple meals that I did. In fact every morning when I pack his lunchbox, I'm taken back to my old house of twenty years back.

The house with the kitchen opening in the backyard garden. And my mom lovingly waking me up in the morning for the school. And me being not-so morning person, forever trying to steal a few winks of extra sleep! Yes, it was a ritual. And so were my lunchboxes, with my favourite poori – aloo or parathas with paneer bhurji (scrambled cottage cheese). This simply meant that my tiffin would vanish into thin air as soon as the lunch break came, or many times, even before that. Well this magic was also magnified by the fact that we were a group of four – a muslim, a pahari, a south indian and me the bihari one. And since we belonged to different communities and lifestyles, our lunchboxes were also varied, which made the whole food exchange process soo much more fun. My love for dosa with gun powder started that young. And yes their love for poori and parathas can also be traced back to this lunch break union.

Another tradition that was as religiously followed was the evening snack one. No there were no packed cereals or granola bars. But freshly made food, to be relished right after we came back from our evening stunts (read play time). Today I'm a mom of two and have all the gadgets in the world to assist me and lots of packaged food options, yet I feel that I can never match up to that super lady. It has to be some magic that all our moms managed so much, so beautifully, filled our life with love and laughter, and our tummies with delightful food every single meal. Hats off to you mom. I'm still learning....

For this eveing ritual the favourites were halwas – sooji, atta, besan or pan fried bread pakodas or this unusual creation of my mum. Fusion style macroni with potatoes and peanuts and a secret ingredient. I believe mum discovered this ingredient long before the word pasta had got access in Indian middle class. And as an enthusiastic cook that she, she created her own dish, which is enjoyed by her grand kids too.

So here are two simple dishes from my mum's kitchen. Will share some of her special curries ome other day..till then try these.

Fusion Macroni
(Indian style no- cheese macroni with potatoes and peanuts.)

Macroni pasta – 1/2 cup
Boiled potato – 1 medium
Cumin – 1/2 tsp (optional)
Onion – 1 small (chopped)
Tomato – 1/2 (chopped)
Green Chill – 1
Coriander powder – 1/2 tsp
Red chilly powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt – To Taste
Oil – 1 tbsp
Roasted peanuts – 1 tbsp
Soya sauce – 1/4 – 1/2 tsp
Chopped coriander for garnish

  1. Cook macroni, with salt, as per package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat wok. Add oil and let it get hot. Then add cumin, let it splutter. Add chopped onion and green chilli, saute till lightly browned. Add chopped tomato and spices. Cook for a minute.
  3. Now add chopped potato. Cover and let it cook, till completly done. Stir in between, to avoid burning. Add salt.
  4. Now add cooked macroni, and mix it well. Add peanuts and soya sauce and give it a good mix for all flavours to mix. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.

Atta Halwa
(A very popular and traditional sweet dish, made from whole wheat flour or roti atta. Even served as offering to god)

Atta (Whole wheat flour/ roti atta) – 1/2 cup
Sugar – 1/2 cup - 1 tbsp (See Note)
Ghee – 1/4 cup
Water – 1 cup
Cardamom – 2 (Crush the seeds. Discard the skin)
Nuts – 2-3 tbsp (finely chopped)

  1. Heat kadahi/wok/pan and add ghee (reserve 1 tbsp)
  2. Add atta, and cook on medium-low heat for about 12-15 mins. Till lovely aroma comes and nicley browned. Keep stirring continuously to avoid burning.
  3. Once atta is well roasted (it smells heavenly)...then add sugar and mix for 1-2 mins.
  4. Finally add the water, and mix well, crushing all lumps. The mixture will start leaving the sides and becoming “soft ball” consistency.
  5. Add crushed cardamom and 1 tbsp ghee. And cook on low heat, for naother 3-4 mins to get a nice color of the halwa.
  6. Garnish with chopped nuts and serve warm

Note – This amount of sugar was just perfect for me. Suggest you go with this and then taste and adjust.
Similarly the texture of halwa is deeply dependent on amount of ghee. In fact for temple offerings, the amount of ghee is further up and so a wetter consistency. You can start with less and more as you go

Sending these yummy snacks for the Kid's Delight event hosted by Priya's versatile recipes.

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