Tuesday, October 31, 2006

hallowe'en and judaism

tonight is the night.

children almost everywhere will be dressing up and going crazy collecting that valuable commodity otherwise known to them as CANDY!!

traditionally, more observant streams of judaism don't hold well to the celebration of this holiday. this is mainly due to its roots in history where at various times jews were attacked and even killed on this day and because of its pagan and christian origins. the holiday of purim is seen as the jewish equivalent to this holiday. this is not to say that there are not going to be many a jewish kid collecting candy tonight but according to alfred j. kotlach in the second jewish book of why,
Halloween originated in early Roman times (before the advent of Christianity) as a holiday celebrated by Druids (priests of a religious order in ancient Gaul and Britain). The celebration marked the end of summer, and pumpkins, cornstalks, and similar products of the earth were used in the feasting and merrymaking.

In the eighth century, when the Church saw it would not succeed in weaning people away from celebrating the pagan holiday, it incorporated Halloween into the Christian calendar. The holiday would be celebrated on November the first as a day honoring all saints, hence the name All Saints' Day. The night before, October 31, was called "holy [hallowed] evening," and many of the old pagan Druid practices were retained in its celebration, including the dressing up as ghosts, goblins, witches, fairies, and elves.

Some authorities object to Jews participatin in Halloween on the grounds that the holiday is chukat hagoy, "a Gentile practice," in violation of the biblical commandment, "You shall not follow the customs of the nation which I am casting out before you" (Leviticus 20:33). In Eastern Europe, Halloween was also a night when many pogroms would occur against Jews. Many Jews, however, consider the holiday secular in nature and, as with New Year's, its pagan and and Christian connections have long ceased to be a factor.

so without celebrating hallowe'en in this post per se, let me introduce some scary jewish characters:

לילית or lilith, who was adam's first wife, is a significant figure in judaism & kabbalah and is regarded as a she demon of the night. lilith has to this day lived on and figured within the lore of other cultures past & present. it is very interesting to note that it is said that lilith is the only one who ever knew Hashem's [G-d's] real name and is said to have left the garden of eden before adam & eve's demise of her own accord.

there are several superstitions surrounding lilith. these mainly regard young boys at the time of their circumcision where they wear an amulet which is placed around the neck or hamsas [protective amulets against the evil eye] and red ribbons go on or around the crib to be protect him against her lilith's daughters [the lilin] entering his young body. it is seen as a sort of demonic possession. another tradition and/or custom is the waiting to cut a young boy's hair until his third birthday. these customs still exist today, especially within the ultraorthodox communities.

image: Lilith by John Collier, 1892


another scary figure in judaism is that of the dybbuk. in folklore, the dybbuk is a disembodied human spirit that must wander restlessly. it is burdened by former sins until it inhabits the body of a living person. believing in such spirits was a very common thing in eastern europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. in order to cure this dilemma, people thought to be possessed by a dybbuk were taken to a ba'al shem who would then carry out rites of exorcism! you can read more in this ghostvillage article about the dybbuk and spiritual possession.


one more frightening figure in judaism is called the golem.

photo: seated golem, netcall.com.au

the golem is often illustrated something like this:

image: armagic.com

the following is said to be the instructional hints [in hebrew] on how to create a golem from rabbi eleazar of wormes (worms).

The famous Hebrew manuscript "Sefer Yetzirah" has been attributed to a source of how to create a golem from inert material. But, no where in this manual is a step-by-step guide on creating a golem. Yet, there are hints.

"Golem" is the Hebrew word for an unformed mass or body.

When you "roll" the body into a form, and utter phrases over its body, you can bring the golem to life.

The methods handed down over the centuries are usually the same: form a body for the golem; create a mantra to utter over it; transfer your soul or some named soul into the golem through your breath; and often, put a parchment with some sacred writings inside its mouth or write on its forehead.

The golem is suppose to move on its own- an independent automaton.
information & image excerpted from the golema site.

* * * * *

and if you celebrate hallowe'en ....

BOO! stay away from those goblins & black cats!

for some great, always tastefully-done ideas to celebrate hallowe'en, check out the martha stewart site. recipes, costumes and fun trivia.

roasted cauliflower

i have always loved cauliflower.

Cauliflower probably originated in Asia Minor, but was available almost exclusively in Italy until the 16th century when it was introduced to France and eventually to other areas of Europe. It was first grown in North America in the late 1600s.

Cauliflower is native to the Mediterranean and Middle East region and has been cultivated from at least 600 BC. It moved to England from Cyprus and was therefore known as Cyprus coleworts.

*Mark Twain said that cauliflower was "cabbage with a college education," and, indeed, it is a member of the cabbage family.

*The cauliflower head itself is a degenerate, sterile flowering structure whose buds are kept white by carefully covering them to prevent the formation of chlorophyll that sunlight would cause. Those "gourmet" green heads you see in fancy supermarkets? The product of lazy gardeners. Purple and green varieties, however, are especially popular in Italy. [*source: hungrymonster.com]

i have also always loved recipes which use this big, snowy white vegetable — or more acurately, flower head. and what could be better, if not easier, than roasting it using only 3 or 4 ingredients? the results are incredible. it caramelizes in the oven slowly and softens yet it remains firm enough to be pleasing to one's palate.

i often make it this way [among other ways which i will write about another time]. the variations are endless. this post, all i am making it with is simply oil, salt, pepper & a few fresh garlic cloves.

simple roasted cauliflower

1 medium to large head of cauliflower
2 -3 tbsp virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/8 - 1/4 tsp black pepper
3 large cloves of garlic [optional]

wash cauliflower and separate into florets. if the florets are very large, cut them. you want equal sized florets so they cook evenly and at the same approximate time.

wash the florets and let them drain well in a colander. i set them out on a tea towel to dry for an hour or so. water acts as a barrier and impedes the oil from successfully clinging to the vegetable.

prepare a large baking sheet with tin foil. preheat oven to 400 F.

chopped the garlic roughly and place it in a large bowl that will hold the cauliflower. add the oil and seasonings and mix well to sort of make a dressing. add the cauliflower and then with hands or a large spoon, mix well.

spread this mixture evenly on the baking sheet.

bake until well roasted. redistribute them half way through cooking time, about 40 minutes into cooking. the cauliflower will have released juices at this point. after turning each piece, return it to the oven to cook for another 20 to 25 minutes or until sufficiently browned.

and from foodreference.com:

Cauliflower should be stored at 35 degrees F with the leaves still on and good air circulation. With the leaves they will last 2 weeks, without the leaves only a few days.

Those with thyroid problems should avoid eating large amounts of cabbage or cauliflower. They both interfere with the body's absorption of iodine, needed by the thyroid gland.

Cauliflower may turn yellow in alkaline water. For whiter cauliflower, add a tablespoon of milk or lemon juice to the water. Do not cook cauliflower in an aluminum or iron pot. The chemical compounds in cauliflower will react with the aluminum and turn the vegetable yellow. While in an iron pot, it will turn a brown or blue-green color.

Stir cooked cauliflower into mashed potatoes to enhance their texture.

Cauliflower can be substituted for broccoli in many dishes.

Cauliflower can also add a zest to your favorite tossed salad.

Use chopped florets in place of meatballs as an addition to your favorite pasta sauce for a delightful vegetarian pasta dish.

Add fresh or leftover cauliflower to soups or stews.

Raw florets make a crunchy, nutritious appetizer with low-fat dressing or dip.

The white, edible portion of cauliflower is called the curd.

Monday, October 30, 2006

dopplegangers & wife hunters

on a local level, two interesting montreal related sites are:

the chronicles of a local guy now living in england trying to find his perfect life mate through a blog. check out his site:

are you my wife?

he also happens to be friends with the "one red paper clip" guy also from canada.

* * * * *

has anyone ever told you that you look EXACTLY like someone they know? this montreal photographer has a site dedicated to dopplegangers, or your unrelated twin.

people from all over the world have participated. you can read more about this project if you click on the "press" [newspaper] button; there are newspapers from all over europe.

a lekker south african challah

i decided to do this post because i want to try to eventually highlight many of the different forms which the traditional sabbath and holiday loaf of bread, known as challah, can take.

image: muchnikarts "the challah ladies" Lithograph Signed & Numbered

this loaf of bread can appear in a myriad of diverse forms. it is more than just the ubiquitous standard braided north american one with which we normally associate challah. not that you'd ever find me passing it up save for a burnt or dried out loaf.

so what is lekker, anyway? i guess you could say it translates from dutch and afrikaans as tasty.

the following south african permutation of challah is called kitke. it is a word which some of my south african friends i met long ago in israel mentioned, one which evoked for them warm memories of the sabbath & holiday celebrations back in "zout afrikke".

a funny story happened when i was on kibbutz with these guys. i could not understand what the h*ll they were saying most of the time. as the story goes, it was the sabbath and we were all sitting together at long tables. one of them wanted challah and asked me to pass him the "kitkeh". i can quote him as saying something to the effect of, "pass me the kitkeh, china" --> having no clue what he mumbled to me, i wondered — did he want stuffed derma? or i thought perhaps he wanted this neither of which were in front of us. silly me. i think he thought i was just stupid for not knowing what he wanted. i still, to this day, don't know what half of them were telling me anyway. most of it was unintelligeable from those heavy accents mixed along with their own slang.

within this same vein of memory provocation, there is a fascinating article i found which echoes this same sentiment written in the forward's english version of their online newspaper. it can be read here.

as for why this bread is called kitke and not challah, it seems that its roots may be derived from german, lithuanian [a large part of s.a's original jewish population is of lithuanian descent] & slavic languages. an excerpt from the forward's article states that:
Kitt in German means “putty,” which is to say, a quick-drying plaster or cement that is used as a filler or adhesive, as well for making ornamental patterns or figures on such surfaces as walls and ceilings. Indeed, in some areas of Lithuania, kitke referred not to the whole challah but simply to the braids or decorations that were attached to the challah like putty before baking, and the word must have originally referred to these. (Kitka in Polish, also from Kitt, means an ornamental plume.) In many places, however, kitke came to designate an entire kind of bread — one that, like a koylatsh or a shtritsl, differed from a plain khale by virtue of its decorative features. And in still others, kitke replaced khale entirely as the word for a challah of any kind, as it also did in South Africa.
on one rare occasion and in a very yiddish sense [from a very frumm {religious} person], i heard mention of a kitkeh. it was used to described a decorative braid on top of a wedding challah.

according to israeli chef oded schwartz,
The Jewish community here has strongly Lithuanian roots. Schwartz says he has identified a "special Jewish cookery style" in South Africa that is not present anywhere else. "The Jews come from a rather narrow ethnic background.

The fact that the community lives in the Southern Hemisphere also contributes to the unique food culture. "So the traditional Rosh Hashanah fruit is served on Pesach because that is when they are in season. The wine for Pesach is made from fresh grapes instead of the traditional raisins used in the rest of the Diaspora. The classic "mock crayfish" is a South African invention, as is the word "kitke" for challah. "Also, the way that you serve meals -- this luscious South African table with a choice of seven starters and desserts and about 15 main courses is because of the particular circumstances of having servants in the home, allowing the housewife to be as extravagant as that."

the rest of the article can be read here concerning his collaboration on a south african jewish cookbook used as a fundraiser.

the kitke is composed of, from what i know — and correct me if i am wrong [this is what i was told] two sets of braided strands, one larger than the other with the smaller laid atop the larger set. i would not be surprised if there were other forms or variations on this same theme.

in this article, the author says that the kitke is an israeli invention. surprising. she offers directions and a recipe for making your own kitke.

this site offers a variation made with two strands. look at the bottom of the article. a totally jewish.com article says it is a wedding loaf.

to read more about jewish south africa, please look at the following sites: a virtual jewish history tour [south africa] & the jews of south africa & jewish food in africa, a pan african view about african jews & their food [very interesting].

this is the site for the south african jewish museum of cape town. it looks to be a well-done website.

lithuanian jews are also called litvaks. here is a little something about these belarusian jews.

one of the groups of jews in [south] africa is called the lemba. they are allegedly one of the lost tribes who can trace themselves back to the high priests or cohanim. i remember seeing a pbs special years ago called, the lost tribes of israel, and they supposedly traced the men's dna back to ancient israel. both pictures and more about them, here and here.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

another update on the bathroom ... or how i love inhaling noxious fumes

after a weekend of breathing nauseating paint vapours and suffering a massive headache from it, the work is still not complete. even catten didn't like the smell.

only one or two days left. it's enough already. the workers told me that i am going to have to clean the tiles and floor after they are finished — not such a task but currently the walls' tiles are covered in this sort of greasy, dusty stuff and the floor is covered in dried up plaster and specks of paint. looks like i am going to have to "pull a cinderella" and get down on my hands and knees and scrub. i am sure i will need paint thinner to remove the paint specks over everything. it's ok, it's not like i haven't been cleaning constantly the whole week they've been here.

so here are some pictures of my "almost" finished bathroom. it's mostly up and running. looks a little bare and echoes at the moment but who cares — i have running water!!

the medicine cabinet & ugliest mirror on earth. [bad night shot of it!] did i mention they installed it upside down?? have to have that fixed on monday [watch, they'll tell me they "can't"].

the new shower & bar for a my shower curtain complimented by large-style tiles.

in the background is the window with its most amateur looking mouldings. i was not pleased by this at all, not to mention the cracked tiles they didn't fix. the cheap-skate guy who was in charged didn't want to plaster around the chipped gyproc for the outlet fixture. i told the other guy i wanted it done anyway. it really looked ridiculous. he was very nice about it and "sort of" fixed it. sigh.

the new faucets. strange as i no longer have separate hot and cold knobs.

only one or two more days to endure of this.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

cool tool

wouldn't it be fun to have one of these to cook in? tagines were the originally used as portable ovens and braziers in north africa, specifically morocco, by nomadic tribes. lightweight and moveable, these conical "ovens" produce some of the most delicious dishes.

this sexy one is manufactured by all-clad metalcrafters, an american company which puts out some of the best pots & pans around.

this most moroccan implement — the tagine —can be used for cooking or serving and even for storing such things as spices. they range in size from huge to little, teeny tiny ones.

the particular stainless steel one pictured below can be bought through a number of second party companies, such as sur la table which has many interesting kitchen tools & objects. worth a visit.

check out fantes.com for a selection of traditional tagines they carry. many are made from clay.

if you are interested in this cooking vessel, there is more here or here about it.

both le creuset and joanne weir of california show how to cook with a tagine.

some may contain lead [pottery], so be careful. read this canadian article about safety concerns before purchasing a tagine, usually ones made in countries which do not have specific regulations concerning lead content.

Friday, October 27, 2006

and on a related topic ....

this just came to mind a propos to my brigadeiros post:

while jimmies are "safe", did you know that those silver dragees used to decorate cookies and confections are very controversial?

this subject may be a little old {by a few years} but it is still interesting nonetheless. i have been eating these things since i was a kid and i NEVER suffered any ill effects, as have none of my friends or anyone else i know, for that matter.

to hear about this controversy, listen to this npr broadcast, entitled toxic cookie decorations. fun & informative.

you can also read about the controversy a bit as it relates to their use in indian sweets.

apparently you can still find them at sur la table. i will continue to buy mine and use them.

if you ever wondered what exactly is in a dragee, according to sprinkle king it consists of:
Corn Starch24.1001%

So...if you ate a 25 g package (which has hundreds of individual dragées), you'd ingest about 20 mg of silver. The amount of silver in a bunch of cookies would be more in the range of tenths of mgs.

info taken from here
gelatin?? not in the ones i ate.

my RIP should only read:

died as a result of eating silver dragees.
what a way to go.

don't forget to set your clocks back this weekend
after 2 am saturday night!!

yay, an extra hour of silver dragee eating!


as the days get shorter and it gets darker earlier, one of my friends starts to get depressed that winter is on its way. she longs for her native hot brazil where the sun is always shining and there is no snow.

because my friend has a sweet tooth like i do, i decided to try to cheer her up and made her these sweets she always talks about called brigadeiros.

these truffle-shaped balls covered in jimmies are quite popular in brazil and show up often at all kinds of celebrations. they are made from the much loved sweetened condensed milk, with the addition of butter and cocoa.

a very easy recipe to make, they are quite sweet and as colourful as you decide to make them depending on the decorations you choose. these confections have the consistency of a fondant and are chewy. do not expect fudge as we know it [in north america] though they are described that way sometimes. to read about the history of this world war II sweet, look here.

i blundered in that when i made them this time around, i added the cocoa without sifting first as i usually do. do not make this same mistake or you may end up with a granular brigadeiro. mine turned out fine, thankfully. that's what happens when you are doing too many things at once.

the following recipe is as i learned it from my friends. here are some others to look at and/or try: option 1, option 2, or option 3.


1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 - 4 tbsp cocoa [i used a mixture of valrhona & ghirardelli]
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp finely ground instant coffee [optional]
different coloured "jimmies"

small paper confection cups


in a pot over medium heat, add all the ingredients and mix well.

keep stirring, without leaving the stove for the next 15 to 20 minutes.

the mixture will come together and will eventually start to darken and bubble.

after a little while, the mixture will thicken considerably and start to leave the bottom and sides of the pan.

once this happens, place the mixture onto a buttered dish to cool.

when the mixture is cool enough to handle, use a spoon to break off pieces.

roll these into balls. in another dish filled with your jimmies, roll them well into the jimmies. some will stick better than others. it is a matter of experimentation. i find the little balls stick better than the longer chocolate ones.

place these in small confection papers and refrigerate. let them come to room temperature as they will harden in the fridge. remember these are chewy candies much like fondant.

makes about 20.
hopefully, these little surprises will send my friend's "blues" away!

paint fumes & grout

it's almost over. soon, i will have a new and improved bathroom. i won't have to breathe in dust or smell paint fumes wafting through my apartment for hours on end. i guess the pay off is a spanking new washroom so i shall not complain.

the electrician, or "wire guy", arrived at 8 am to tell me that i had to take out half of my pantry so he could access the electrical system. i was not amused. i wish they could have told me this the night before and not at 8 am when i was still in wake-up mode.

after shlepping everything out — and trust me i have a lot of food packed in that pantry — he starts sawing and drilling and eventually goes into the bathroom and saws and drills there too. after about an hour he leaves. i check out was was done and find out that he has installed, finally, an electrical outlet in my bathroom. it has been a real pain over the several years i have lived here to have to charge my bathroom thingies in another room. here is my nifty little outlet.

the other guys showed up later and they went over the area around where the medicine cabinet is to go and painted over it.

later in the day, the workers came back to clean up the grout and finish the details of the tiling. the next thing they need to do is affix the rest of the chrome fixtures for the water and redo the ledge where the window is.

the part i am not happy about is the fact that they cracked two or three tiles and cannot fix them. so i have to live with this ugliness now. sad cause they were perfect before. when i asked about them, they told me there was nothing they could do.

i imagine the next post will be the last of this series.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

two funny slash cute pix

the first is of my catten's behind. he took off before i could photograph him properly and all i was left with was his little butt. cute, nonetheless. on second thought, perhaps weird [yeah, yeah, i know].

the second is a pic of an african pygmy hedgehog or atelerix albiventris, sold as pets. i seriously want one! too damned cute. apparently they make good little pets though they are nocturnal.

c'mon, doesn't it make you want one, too?

a visit from "the kid"

when a certain little kid visits, i always have to think ahead. what to feed this finicky eater? what to make, what to make?? well, can't go wrong with sweet 'n sour meatballs, right? this batch was made without any extra "things" in it that would have otherwise made it unpalatable in a child's mind.

here is the recipe based on the one from a "famous" canadian jewish cookbook published in the late 60s, called second helpings, please. my copy is so old and well used, with stains on certain pages and a mangled spine — not to mention notes on page after page from recipes i have tried over the years.

for some reason, this doesn't bother me. it would seriously annoy me with other books that i paid a king's ransom for though. i guess those ones are more coffee table type books you are afraid to dirty, especially in the kitchen. silly since that is where they are meant to be used. while the recipes are not on the level of — or anything near — say, escoffier or julia child, many of them are excellent, like the one for challah or the brownies that everyone always loves.

the following recipe is simple and no fuss. i suggest using canada dry gingerale if you can get your hands on it. all the recipe requires is a regular sized can of soda.

sweet 'n sour meatballs
with or without pineapple

ingredients for meatballs:

1 lb ground beef
1-2 tbsp matza meal [or use breadcrumbs]
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
[optional: garlic & onion powder, paprika]

ingredients for the sauce:

1 can ginger ale
1 c. ketchup

1/4 c brown sugar
1 c pineapple chunks
1/2 c sliced green bell peppers


mix all ingredients together for the meatballs and make small pingpong sized balls [or smaller, as i often do when "the kid" eats them]. set aside on a plate. sorry for the blurred picture!

in a pot, mix together the ingredients for the sauce and bring to a boil. add the meatballs and let simmer on low heat covered for a full 2 hours. the meat will release its juices and the sauce will boil down and thicken by the end of the cooking time. stir every 20 minutes or so and replace the lid.

serve with steamed rice. i use parboiled rice often for this dish.
nothing could be simpler. enjoy!

yesterday's reno update

it is amazing how, even with the door closed during the work, so much dust managed to escape and blanket every object in my home. i was left with a thin film of gyproc dust over every single last thing in my apartment. i will be dusting for days to remove this. i don't think breathing it in was too healthy either.

after they finally finished putting up the boards to cover the wood structure, they began putting up the new tiles.

they also plastered over the part where they are putting in the new medicine cabinet/mirror. i loved my big mirror that was there before. no chance of recovering that; i saw them crack it to remove it.

also installed were the new fixtures for the bathtub. yay!

by the end of the day, i had all new tiles which had to dry before they could start with the grout. i took this at night, so the lighting is a bit off.

tomorrow the electrician comes. why? I FINALLY GET AN ELECTRICAL OUTLET IN THE BATHROOM!! now i can recharge my toothbrush and shaver. welcome to the 21st century.

more tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

world pasta day

october 25 is world pasta day. according to the world pasta day site,

"These are principles based on the idea [that] —

On 25th October of each year, the world over, World Pasta Day is celebrated in the form of events and promotional initiatives in different countries of the world.

The objective of World Pasta Day is to draw the attention of the media and consumers to pasta.

Communication should underline the fact that pasta is a global food, consumed in all five continents, having unquestionable merits, appropriate for a dynamic and healthy life style capable of meeting both primary food requirements and those of high-level gastronomy;

Every country celebrates World Pasta Day in absolute autonomy, while respecting a global strategy, and making use of the official logo of the event;

The key messages, recurring in the various communication initiatives, emphasise the economic feasibility, gastronomic versatility and nutritional value of pasta."

here are a few nice pasta recipes for the event from a canadian site.

barilla has a great site for all sorts of information and recipes for pasta too. this pasta is everywhere in italy as a number one selling dried pasta. they have an italian site also which is very good if you understand italian. if you look under il mondo barilla, and further click on le paste you will see the wide variety available [not all of them in the usa].

this site also has an amazing collection of different shapes of pasta to ogle. i think my favourite pasta are called caserecci & strozzapreti.

so what are u making today? or what is your favourite pasta dish of all time?

more fun with chickpea flour, aka besan

indian snacks made with chickpea flour are plentiful and come in a vast variety, from savoury to sweet.

besan, or indian chickpea flour, is made from the desi variety of chickpea. this chickpea is smaller than the mediterranean one and is an essential staple ingredient in all its forms in indian cookery.

both of the two varieties of chickpea are grown here in canada. pulsecanada.com has information about [and photos of] both these types, as well as the other types of pulses grown here. if you click on the health & nutrition tab, you will find a large variety of recipes for a myriad of dishes using these beans. there is also nutritional information about the benefits of eating beans and legumes.

two snacks i sometimes make which use this flour are called chakli & masala sev.

to make these, both need to be fried in oil. this is something i do only a few times a year and consider it more shallow-frying since it is done in just enough oil to fry them in a shallow pan such as a cast iron fry pan. a shallow pan also gives you a much wider surface and therefore more space. i open all the windows and turn on the fans and exhaust system on my kitchen range to eliminate as much of the smell of the oil as quickly as possible. invariably, i always end up smelling like i was deep fried. no big deal, just change your clothes and take a shower. in the end, you end up with great snacks to be eaten over the course of time when you feel the need for a spicy snack.


there are various ways to make these crunchy snacks using different kinds of flours. i chose to make them with besan and used a recipe from yamuna devi's most well researched and detailed œuvre, called lord krishna's cuisine: the art of indian vegetarian cooking. these are also fortified with sesame seeds and coconut. this recipes will yield 24, more or less, if the chakli are "properly" extruded to the right size.


145 g or 1 1/2 c. besan flour
80 g or 1/2 c. coarsely ground rice flour
45 ml or 3 tbsp shredded coconut, fresh or dried
40 g or 1/4 c. sesame seeds
0.5 ml or 1/8 tsp asafetida
6 ml or 1 1/4 tsp chilli powder
6 ml or 1 1/4 tsp salt
0.5 ml or 1/8 tsp baking soda
15 ml or 1 tbsp ghee or oil
180 ml or 3/4 c. water [more or less]

oil for frying


briefly cook besan in a pan until it starts to change colour, about a shade or two darker and it loses its raw taste. let cool.

coarsely grind your rice to make a flour which is both gritty and powdery at the same time. do not overgrind or undergrind. do this in a coffee/spice grinder using basmati rice.

measure and add all spices to bowl.

add liquid and mix to make a soft paste.

load this into a chakli press or you can use a pastry tube with a large star tip or a cookie gun.

on a very lightly rice flour sprinkled piece of parchment [to avoid sticking], pipe out streams of dough tightly winding around several times to about 2 1/2 - 3 inches. start from the middle and work your way around slowly. it takes a little practice but is not hard to do. if you do not want to do this, you may also just directly extrude streams of dough into the oil.

while you are forming your chakli, heat your oil for frying. oil temperature should be 335 F or 170C. using peanut oil is best, however with all this allergy to peanuts being so prevalent, use only if you know people who will eat these will not be in any danger.

using a spatula, carefully lift the chakli and put them in the oil and fry til browned on each side about 3 minutes per side. if you fry too long, they will be extremely hard. not long enough and they will be soft and uncooked. test one or two to determine the outcome first, is all i can suggest.

drain the chakli on paper towel. let cool and store for future snack attacks.
masala sev

taken from the same book by yamuna devi, these are very crunchy fried spaghetti type strands of spicy chickpea flour. you break them up and eat as a snack or mix it in with other things to make other kinds of snacks. there are whole shops in india which specialize in these snacks. sev can be made in different thicknesses also depending on what you plan to do with it. note again that if these are over fried, they will be extremely hard. this recipe makes a lot. you can halve the ingredients.


2 1/4 c. besan flour
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp ajwain seeds, slightly crushed
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
3/4 c. water

oil for frying


the method for making sev is much the same as chakli but this time the dough is extruded directly into the oil in a spiraling motion.

measure ingredients into a bowl.

add liquid and make the sev paste.

heat the oil and add the paste to the sev maker or cookie gun. oil temperature should be 345 F or 175 C.

with a spiraling motion, extrude the dough into the oil and cook several minutes until several shades darker on both sides. remove and drain on paper towels. you may make thinner sev noodles. they will cook faster however.

break up into pieces and store.
check out naughty curry, if you love indian food. an interesting site.

reno update

ok, so the next day they arrive again at 8 am. prior to this i was laying in bed, warm under my covers, fantasizing that it was really only 5:30 am and not 7:30 am and that i still had two more glorious hours of snoozing with catten and my duvet/comforter. no such luck. grrr.

today seems to have gone quicker. and was less messy than the day before. the noise, on the other hand....

they boarded up the disgusting looking old wood to my comfort. i am sure there were dead and dying things in there.

once that was done, the "pipe guy" showed up and turned off the hot water and started sawing pipes and soldering things . my catten freaked out and hid behind the fridge. however, as the story goes .... curiosity killed enticed the cat. he quickly forgot he was frightened and needed to check things out for himself.

i realized part way through that the "pipe guy" took off with the part of my shower nozzle that i bought and needed for the shower attachment. after hunting him down, he later returned it.

once that whole job was done, in came the other two workers who boarded up the area. of course, i was left with a mess on the floor which buréka decided to play in and was sniffing up bits of solder. after shoo-ing him away, i swept up and admired the fact that i would not be viciously attacked by spiders and flying things at night any longer. ;p

that's it for today for the renovation update, folks. exciting, isn't it?

oh yeah, this is supposed to be the "new" medicine cabinet/mirror set up.