Hey everyone, I’m still alive! That’s what I’ve been reminding all my friends and family who have almost stopped calling or checking on me. Well, mostly because I have been “off the grid” because of all this moving and packing madness going on in our household. Its only when you have to pack them in boxes that you realize how big of a hoarder you are. I’m writing about this just to tell you that this is what’s keeping me from coming here on Indian Simmer and doing what I love to do. So please hang in there with me!
Alright, lets talk about some happy things! I might have told you how fun and special my recent trip to India was. I got to do a lot of things, some of them new and some after a long time. Rode around the city in an auto rickshaw after years. What an experience it was to walk on the same streets you grew up in, this time with a camera in hand and a different perspective maybe.
This was the first time I got to spend a few days with A‘s family (my in-laws) without the husband! I was anxious and nervous, very nervous. I had friends telling me that its a whole different ball game with his family when the husband is not around. Hence the anxiety and nervousness to see how that experience was going to be. Well, it really was a different ball game! I got to know them in a way I was not able to do before and got closer to them like never before. Papa (his dad) is a simple man. You just cook him his favorite dal makhani and he’s all yours. He will talk to you about politics, world issues and stock market at the same time he can tell you about what’s the latest trend in India right now or which movie is not doing very well in the box office. You can have a conversation with him on any topic and he’ll be right there with you!
Mumma (his mom) is not very much a talker. You will have to either meet her in the kitchen or talk about her kids or maybe both! Stand by her side learning how to make A‘s favorite gulab jamun or pani puri. Through her glasses you can see a sparkle in her eyes when she shares those recipes and every little story attached to them. She would religiously try to learn my recipe for his favorite pasta or chocolate cake so that the next time when the son visits she can surprise him with some. We would climb the mango tree (well, I climbed the tree but she was the one who motivated me to!) to get some raw mangoes so that she can make her signature mango mint chutney that A still misses. I was nervous how I would relate to them with A not around, but forgot that it is A who relates me to them.
You know how there are a few dishes that only your mom can make the right way? Every person has one, so does Mumma. These stir fried noodles is one of them. Its a very simple recipe using sevaiyan (thick vermicelli) with few ingredients involved but however hard I tried, I could never get it right for him. Sometime the noodles were too thin, the oil too little or sometimes it was just about the curry leaves. I wondered if it was simply about a different set of hands or cook. So one of my agenda’s from this trip was to perfect the art of cooking his mom’s stir fried noodles.
I shared the same with mumma and I could see the excitement on her face just hearing that. She made several trips to the chaurahe waali dukan (corner shop) until she found the right noodles, managed to pluck some curry leaves from the neighbor’s plant while they were having their afternoon siesta and made sure I listened! Yes, I listened and took notes. After coming back home this was first thing that I cooked. Did it again and again until I exhausted the whole stock of vermicelli that had she sent with me and until I came close enough to her taste. I guess I can never make it taste like mumma’s but close enough is good enough for me! Here I am sharing the recipe with you.
2 cups thick vermicelli (wheat vermicelli that you can find in any Indian market if not in your local store)
1/2 cups finely chopped onion
2 tbsp curry leaves (roughly chopped if the leaves are too big for you)
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp lemon juice
In a saucepan boil some salted water. Add salt to taste. Set aside.
Heat oil in a separate wide pan or my mom-in-law uses an Indian wok. Add mustard seeds.
Once they start to pop, add curry leaves. Step aside after adding the leaves as they can pop and splatter oil on you.
Add chopped onion and cook until its translucent.
Add coriander and curry powder. Mix and add the vermicelli (if you got long vermicelli, break them smaller – 2 to 3 inch in length).
Fry the noodles for a couple of minutes for them to nicely coat in oil.
Start adding water slowly. A little less water can leave the noodles undercooked and a little extra can make them soggy. So the trick is to add a little water, keep stirring for noodles to cook and at the same time extra water to evaporate. Keep doing the same until the noodles are just a touch undercooked.
Turn off the heat, add a splash of lemon juice, mix and cover the noodles for a few minutes. Steam trapped in the pan will cook the noodles through.