Barley and vegetable soup


By Ratna

Barley and vegetable soup-4

It  was  one  of  those  days when  I  was  spending  a  bit  of  time  ( read  all  my  time ),  gawking  at  the  delicious  photographs  on  Foodgawker.  This  one  picture  caught  my  eye  just  because of  its simplicity.  Few  ingredients,  few  steps  and  a  soul  warming  result. With  the  weather the  way  it  is , It  didn’t  take  me  long   to  decide  on  the  menu  for  supper.

The  temperature  outside  plummeted  from  three  below  to  thirty  below  zero  celsius in  a  matter  of  a  day.  The  migratory  birds  did  not  need  the  report  from  the Meterologists,  they  left  for  the  warmer  climates  just  in  time.  The  lakes  are  frozen solid.  The  evergreens  are  bowed  with  the  weight  of  the  snow  on  them.  The  branches  of  the  deciduous  trees   look  highlighted  with  the  snow  on  them.  The furnitures  on  the  deck  covered  with  half  feet  of  snow  only  reminding  us  that summer  is  only  a  dream  now.  The  sun  so  strong   yet  powerless  to  melt  the  snow.

Barley and vegetable soup-5

I  have  tweaked  the  recipe  a  little  bit,  added  a  bit  of  heat  and  countered  it  with  a  couple  squirts  of  lemon  juice  and  apple  puree.



Barley                                                             One cup

Mushrooms                                                    Half cup chopped

Carrots                                                           Half cup,  cut  in  small  cubes

Apple                                                             One,  pureed

Cauliflower                                                     Half cup,  in  small  florets

Kaffir lime  juice                                              Half  tsp

Red  chillies                                                    Optional,  Few  flakes

Salt  and  Pepper                                            To  taste

Ghee                                                               One  Tbsp

Bay  leaf                                                          Couple

Peppercorns                                                    Six  or  seven

Lime leaves                                                      Optional,  a  couple.



Take  a  Tbsp  of  ghee  in  a  pan  on  high  heat.  When  it  melts  add  the  Bay leaf  and  peppercorns.  Saute  for  a  few  minutes.  Add  the  carrots  first  then  cauliflowers.  Cook  for  a  few  minutes  till  the  florets  get  some  colour.  Add  the  mushrooms  last.  Add  two  cups  of  water,  cover  and  cook  till  the  vegetables  are  done.  Throw  in  the  apple  puree.

Boil  the  barley  with  two  cups  of  water  till  done.

Add  the  vegetables,  salt,  pepper  to  the  boiled  barley.  Throw  in  the Kaffir  lime  leaves  for  flavour.  Garnish  with  green  or  red  chillies  and cilantro.

Mango and Soya Chunk Summer salad

By Ratna

summer salad blog-3

I was skimming  the  pages  of  the  latest  Conde nast  Traveler  that  I  carried  with  me.  We  had  a  short  break  to  the  Canadian  rockies  for  a  couple  days.  As  I  lifted  my  face  and  looked  at  the  mountains  in  front  of  me  I  soon  realised  this  is  not  the  place  to  bury  my  face  in  the  magazine.  Adjusting  myself  in  the  deep  seats  of  the  Adirondack  chair,  I  shifted  my  gaze  in  front.  Standing  majestically  were  the  Mountain  range.

mango and soya chunk summer salad for blog-5

Although  it  was  early  August,  some  of  the  peaks  were  still  snow  capped. That  wasn’t  the  case  when  the  mountains  started  their  life  though,  few  million  years  ago,  a  blink  of  an  eye  in  geological  years. For  a  brief  moment  I  was  transported to  that  day.  The  tectonic  plates  shifting  and  grinding  against  each  other,  finally  one  plate  rising  above  the  other  giving  birth  to  what  we  see  today.  It   was  beyond  my  imagination  as  to  what  it  must  have  sounded  like.  How  searing  high  was  the  temperature?  It  boggled  my  mind.

mango and soya chunk summer salad for blog-6mango and soya chunk summer salad for blog

I  was  brought  back  to  the  present  by  a  familiar  sound. The  fresh  mountain  air  on  the  face  had  lulled  my  husband  to  sleep  He  was  snoring  comfortably  with  an  open  book  on  his  lap  and  arms  languishing  on  the  long  armrests..  The  water  in  the  lake  at  the  foot  of  the  mountains  was  as  clear  as  a  mirror.  As  the  sun  rose  higher  up  in  the  sky  the  colour  of  the  water  changed.  It  felt  like  someone  had  sprinkled  glitter  in  the  water. It  shimmered.

mango and soya chunk summer salad for blog-2

Sitting  there  that  day  I  felt  dwarfed  by  the  surroundings.  The  ” I “,  ”  Me “,  ”  Mine ”  didn’t  seem  to  have  any  meaning. I  was  put  in  my  place  in  this  universe.  A  tiny  speck  in  the  galaxy.  However  my   soul  felt  in  sync  with  the  all  encompassing  surroundings.

mango and soya chunk summer salad for blog-3.

The  rocky  sidewalks  were  home  to  some  beautiful  flora.  At  times  small  white  flowers  covered   them  while  in  other  places  the  Indian  Paintbrush  (  Castilleja  miniata )  was  in  bloom.  Their  reddish  orange  blossom  against  the  ash  coloured  rocks  was  a  painter’s  inspiration.

On  our  way  back  we  were  held  up  by  a  family  of  Bighorn  sheep.  They  had  a  family  outing,  the  young  calves  under  the  sharp  eyes  of  the  elders.  Unaware  of  the  half  mile  long  traffic  gridlock  waiting  on  either  side  of  the  road,  or  the  constant  clicks  of  cameras  from  the  lucky  visitors,  they  took  their  time  crossing    the  road.

summer salad blog


We  enjoyed  a  fresh  salad  in  one  of  the  quaint  cafes  nestled  by  the  lake. I  tried  to  recreate  the  same  in  my  kitchen  today  with  minor  changes.

summer salad blog-2



Ripe  mangoes  skinned  and  chopped  small                                  Two

Skinned  and  finely  chopped  Cucumber                                         One  medium

Soya  Chunks                                                                                     Half cup

Red  onion  chopped  fine                                                                  One  and half  tsps

Roasted  and  roughly  ground  Peanuts                                            Two  tsps


Olive  oil                                                                                              One  Tbsp

Lemon  juice                                                                                        One tsp

Salt                                                                                                        To  taste


Roasted  ground  cumin  seeds                                                      One tsp

Mint  leaves                                                                                      A  few


Soak  the  Soya  chunks  in  a  bowl  with  boiling  hot  water.  Cover and  let  it  sit  for  ten  minutes.  Drain  the  water  and  chop  them  in  half.

In  a  bowl  assemble  the  mango,  cucumber,  soya  chunks  and  red  onion  pieces.

Throw  in  the  peanut  pieces,  drizzle  the  garnish.  Give  a  good  stir.  Add  the  garnish.

Inside  Scoop;

All  measurements  are  to  my  taste,  it  can  be  altered  to  suit yours.

Soya  chunks  are  available  in  Indian  grocery  store  as  Nutri  Nuggets.  It  is  considered  vegetarian  meat.  The  chewy  texture  imparts  a  similar  taste  and  can  even   be  substituted  in  any  recipe  calling  for  meat.  They  are  high  in  protein.

The  mangos  were  quite  sweet.  A  bit  of  honey  can  be  added  to  the  dressing  if  it  is  tart.


by Ratna

My  daughter  and  I  were  Sari  shopping  in  Mumbai.



The  list  looked  long  and  convoluted.  The  pile  of  “Short  listed”  saris  grew.  “Doh coke  la” (Get  me  two  pops),  the  man  behind  the  desk  shouted.  A  little  boy,  no more  than  ten,  ran  across  the  floor  and  handed  us  the  chilled  drinks.


Working  steadily  through  our  list,  the  “must  have”  pile  of  saris  grew  in  size.  “Khana  mangateh  hain”  (Let  me  get  some  food)  the  salesman  suggested  this  time.  The  smell  of  melted  cheese  was  followed  by  the  two  plates  of  sandwiches. All  promises  of  not  eating  street  food  was  broken  that  afternoon.

DSC_0999 DSC_1033

As  we  came  out  of  the  store,  I  noticed  this  “hole  in  the  wall”  with  Sandwizza written  in  faded  letters.  I  could  barely  see  the  man  sitting  between  an  assortment of  tin  containers,  plastic  packets,  fresh  produce,  Foreman  grill  look- alike  and  old china.  I  chose  a  safe  distance  to  stand  and  watch  him,  much  to  my  daughter’s disapproval.


His  deft  fingers  methodically  working,  cutting,  assembling,  ingredients  at  ease.  A sprinkle  of  this,  and  a  dash  of  that,  while  maintaining   a  conversation  with  his customer.  His  beetle  juice  stained  teeth  peeked  through  his  thick  moustache.  I made  mental  notes.


I  tried  the  same,  here  in  my  kitchen,  a  few  times,  before  I  thought  it   was somewhat  close  to  the  taste  from  that  day.  So  here  it  is,  Sandwizza.



Brown bread – 4 Slices
Olive Oil -2 Tbsps
Green Chutney _One third cup. See recipe below
Boiled potato _2 small thinly sliced
Chopped onions _1 small
Finely sliced tomatoes _ 2 medium
Chat masala _1tsp, according to taste
Thinly sliced Zucchini _ 1 small
Swiss cheese grated _1 cup


1.Brush olive oil on both sides of the bread slices.
2.Lather the green chutney on the inside of the bread slices.
3.Assemble the sandwich. I put the potato slices first followed by Zucchini,tomato,onions and grated cheese. Sprinkle the chat masala according to taste. Put the other slice of bread on top.I used a Breville grill 360 degrees F, for 4 minutes

Inside scoop:

1. I used Brown bread, but white bread can also be used.
2.Butter can be used instead of olive oil.
3.I had Zucchini at home, long English Cucumber or green Capsicum can also be used.
4.Recipe for the green chutney:
Cilantro choped: 1 cup
Mint leaves; Half cup
Green chillies 2
Garlic cloves 2
Ginger Half inch
Salt Pinch
Lemon juice 1 tsp
Grind all of the above with very little water.
5. I used store bought chat masala.