Our Diwali

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Diwali was on a weekday this year so our Diwali was pretty laid back. I had work until three. I rushed home put on my pretty indian clothes and got my daughter ready in her pretty punjabi suit. We bought our candles , Nasreen picked out orange. We met my husband at the Gurdwara, he just came from work.

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We paid our respect to the Guru Granth Sahib. Everything was so decorated and pretty. We than had yummy pakoras and sweets and tea at the langar hall.  We went out and lit our candles, we were the first to do so outside.

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Nasreen loved lighting the candles. She got so excited and explained out loud to everyone that those were HER candles.

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  We went home and Nasreen and I made fresh Gulab Jamuns. It was a quiet evening but very sweet.

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Happy Diwali!, The Sikh Way

A traditional Diya

So today is Diwali. The famous Indian festival of lights! In Indian households around the world you will find people lighting Diyas, eating sweets and special foods, lighting fireworks, giving gifts, and wishing each other a prosperous time. There are three major religions that celebrate Diwali, Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs. Each with a different tradition.

Here is the Sikh tradition:

The Six Guru freeing the Hindu kings

For Sikhs, Diwali is particularly important because it celebrates the release from prison of the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind, and 52 hindu princes with him, in 1619.The Sikh tradition holds that the Emperor Jahangir of the Mughal Empire had imprisoned Guru Hargobind and 52 princes. As political hostages. The Emperor was asked to release Guru Hargobind which he agreed to do. However, Guru Hargobind asked that the princes be released also. The Emperor agreed, but said only those who could hold onto his cloak tail would be allowed to leave the prison. This was in order to limit the number of prisoners who could leave. Guru Hargobind had a cloak made with 52 pieces of string and so each prince was able to hold onto one string and leave prison. The kings/rajahs were freed and the Guru became known popularly as the “Bandi Chhor” (Deliverer from prison). He arrived at Amritsar on Diwali day and the  Golden Temple was lit with hundreds of lamps to celebrate his return. Hence the day came to be known as the “Bandi Chhor Divas” (“prisoner release day”, “freedom day”). This tradition continues today.

Golden Temple on Diwali

So Today we will eat both fresh made Indian desserts like Gulab Jamun and store bought ones like Papdi. I will made a special dinner, and then we will go to Gurdwara to light our candles in memory of that wonderful day! I wish I was in India for this festival because it really is beautiful to be surrounded by so much light and happiness! All those firecrackers, events, party’s, beautiful clothes, and food! It is on my bucket list to spend a Diwali in India before I leave this world.  Today I will enjoy the love of my family on this prosperous day!

Happy Diwali to all my readers, may the light of Diwali fill your homes and heart with happiness and prosperity!

A photo from our Diwali last year

The Importance of Cooking with my Daughter

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Hanging on daddys back while he helped mommy cook Paranthas

My daughter is three and since she was a newborn baby she has spent alot of time in the kitchen with me. As an infant she was either strapped to my back or sitting on the counter in a baby chair. As an early toddler she sat on the floor with a wooden spoon and pot making music. Around 16 months she began “helping” me cook. Honestly it was no great parent planning when it came to having my daughter in the kitchen. I needed to be able to cook and I needed her in my sight. My naughty little munchkin could not be left on own for even a moment. She can get into trouble faster than a blink of the eye.I learned that when I gave her things to do she enjoyed her time in the kitchen, which in turn made my job alot easier.

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every baby loves a spoon and a pot

She is now three and every time I go into the kitchen she is right behind me grabbing her apron and begging me to help in any way that she can.She helps me mix atta ( chapati dough) with her hands. She helps roll out her own little messy rotis. I cut the veggies and she puts them on the sandwiches or on a homemade pizza. She loves to help measure and I even let her push the button on the chopper or blender! That is her favorite job! Sometimes its easier to work without her in there, but I know that it truly benefits her in so many ways so I find a way for her to help.

helping to form paneer koftas

1. Teaches a love of food and cooking

Nasreen loves all types of foods. Since she is a Masala child we have a mixture of Continental and Indian foods. I enjoy teaching her the traditions of both of these cultures in the food. I try to incorporate language learning into the cooking as well. I remind her that in Punjabi apple is called a Seb. She holds the apple and says the word seb, and I know this is better than looking at a picture and saying the same thing. Nasreen is more willing to try new food when she helped make it. What might have been deemed “gross” is now yummy because she helped put it on the pizza. I have noticed since I started working more and not being able to spend that time with her in the kitchen she has resorted to only preferring simple foods like chicken nuggets. We will be having more cooking sessions in the future to bring back that eater I love so much

2. Practical usage of measurement and counting and science

Whenever I measure flour for a cake or put yeast to rise, or even boil water I explain the process to her. She has started to understand the concepts of measurements ( cups, tablespoons). When I put warm water and sugar with the yeast she has learned that we are feeding the yeast so they grow because they are alive. The same goes when we make yogurt at home, she knows we must keep it warm for the yogurt to grow. The kitchen is a great classroom.

3. Learning how to follow directions and follow through from start to finish

Helping in the kitchen my daughter has learned the value of perseverance. To turn flour and sugar and eggs and other ingredients into a cake . Its a long process and it teaches them the steps to succeed. When she is in the kitchen with me I just keep talk to her telling her all the steps. Its amazing to create something from all those raw ingredients. I know that this process has helped her become a focused child. For example Nasreen is a pro at puzzles. You give her a 50+ piece puzzle and she will sit until its finished. I know that some of that focus has come from her time in the kitchen with me.

4. Forming a special bond between parents (other family member) and child.

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Proud of her cooking achievement

Some of my greatest memories as a child are of my mom and I cooking. I especially loved cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Getting up early and stuffing the turkey, making the mashed potatoes, yams, and green beans. I loved the pleasure of seeing everyone enjoying the food I helped make. I also loved the relationship my mom and I had. None of my other siblings came in the kitchen it was just her and I. I am glad for the time that my daughter and I spend in the kitchen together. I hope cooking is a passion that we always share together. 

Malai Kofta: My Newest Discovery

So Yesterday I got off work early and I thought I would make something completely new. I wanted to be extra nice to my husband tonight.  I looked at pages and pages of recipes without finding anything that really got me excited. I have been married for over four years now, so I have cooked alot of different Indian dishes.  Finally I stumbled upon the Malai Kofta recipe by Chef Harpal Singh .

Malai Koftas are soft rich paneer dumplings stuffed with cashews and raisins. The gravy is made of rich cream and cashew paste. Its a bit of a process but it is well worth the taste!

Koftas:

12 ounces grated Paneer

1 tablespoon corn starch

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon ground cardamon

Gravy:

Onion – 1 big, roughly chopped

Green chilli – 1 (Adjust according to your taste)

Cashew nut – 18 cashews

Cardamom – 2 pods

Garlic paste-1 tsp

Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp

half and half – 1/3 Cup

Butter/Oil – 2 tbsp (I used 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter)

Cardamom powder – 1/4  tsp

Salt – as needed

Chopped nuts – 1 tbsp (Optional) to garnish

Method:

Koftas:

  • Grate the paneer and mash it with hand. Add corn starch and cardamom powder. Work into a dough.
  • Heat the chopped cashews and raisins in a pan.

    nut mixture

  • Make a soft dough of the paneer and divide into small portion. Roll into smooth balls. Make an indent in the ball and place a small amount of cashew and raisin mixture. Seal and shape them into balls. Roll in corn starch.

    Nasreen helping to make the koftas

  •  In a pan fill the bottom with oil. Place the paneer balls in the pan. Cook till they are very lightly cooked all sides, dont let it get too dark. It should be very light.
  • take them out and set aside.

    The center of the cooked Kolfta

  • Gravy:

    The fried Kofta

  • Add about 1 cup of water to a pan and bring water to boil. Add chopped onions and cook them. Strain the water and cool the onions. Once the onion comes to room temperature, blend them into a fine paste without adding water. set aside
  • Add water to the pan again and bring water to boil. Cook the cashew and cool. Blend them into a fine paste by adding little water. set aside
  • Add oil in the pan, when the pan is hot add the cardamon powder
  • Add onion paste and ginger garlic paste and saute for 3-4 minutes
  • Add cashew nut paste and continue to sauté for 2-3 minutes. Then add chili pieces
  • Add milk and 1/2 cup of water. When the mixture comes to  boil, add  half and half and green cardamom powder. Cook until well cooked and smooth
  • Place the koftas in a serving dish and pour the gravy over the Kofta (Make sure the koftas are in room temperature, else they will break)

Nasreen’s first field trip: Pumpkin Patch

Nasreen has been in Preschool for a full two weeks and is loving every minute of it! Her teacher is named Miss Betty and is a wonderful grandmotherly type woman, who truly cares for each of the children. I finally had the opportunity to meet her yesterday and I was just delighted about how sweet she is!

Nasreen holding Ms Betty’s hand

Nasreen hauling her pumpkin

Yesterday Nasreen had her very first field trip to the pumpkin patch. I was lucky enough to have the day off. We all met at the preschool and went in. Ms Betty counted the kids to make sure they were all there and told them about what we were doing. I took Nasreen with me in my car to drive the short distance to the pumpkin patch. My silly little munchkin started to cry because she thought we were going home. She was crying in the back saying I want to stay with my preschool class. She howled the entire way to the pumpkin patch. Finally when we got there and she saw the corn maze and jump house she stopped instantly.

The Pumpkin Patch was really wonderful and as a class we got to go on a tour of the entire thing. The kids got to play in the dried corns, which is like a sand box. Even Ms Betty got in! Then they got to do the corn maze! They each got to pick a pumpkin. Nasreen had a blast finding the best pumpkin. The rule was that it had to be the size of your head. So she loved comparing the pumpkins to her head! She finally found the perfect one! Then they went to a large blown up jumping area. It was not a jump house, more like a GIANT pillow! The Children then got to go to wonderful petting zoo. It was wonderful to see how strict the organizers were about the rules about the animals and how they were to be pet. I hate seeing children mistreat animals and this was not allowed here at all. Nasreen loved petting the animals. Nasreen also got to go on the big slide. Take a tractor ride. She even got to peddle her own little tractor! 

It was great to see how she behaved with the other children and her teacher, and I was proud to see her be such a good listener and followed instructions from her teacher. I was thinking to myself why cant you listen this well at home. She was also great with the other kids. The funny thing is she cant remember any of their names, but they are all her friends she said.

At the end of the day she really did not want to go home, but she had such a great time. I was glad I was able to be there for her first ever field trip! I know this will be one of many!

Nasreen’s first Day of Preschool

First Day of School with her special lunch box!

Nasreens First day of school was supposed to be October the 2nd, but my Grandmother’s funeral was on that day so she had to start the next week.

Sadly I took alot of time off for the funeral so I was not able to take the day off for Nasreen’s first day of school, so my Mom took her to her.I was sad to be missing this important day but so happy for her!  It was a little stressful because my mom had to register her for school but the office said that only a parent could do that! My mom explained the situation and told her how her granddaughter had packed her lunch box so she could not go back home now. The women agreed and Nasreen started school that day! So glad my mom was there!

My mom gave me all the details of her momentous day!

She got ready in her first day of school clothes. Her lunch box filled with snacks. They waited for the preschool to open and Nasreen chatted with the other children! My mom told me that her and another girl were talking about their lunch boxes and dresses! The teacher opened the door and all the kids put their coats and lunch boxes in the cubbyholes, and Nasreen did it as well, following suit. She played with the children and the toys right away. No fear. When my mom picked her up the teacher said she fit right in! I was so happy. She came home with a project she had done where she colored, cut and pasted! She had never cut and pasted before, I was so proud. I can not wait to hear more about her days at school. My baby Girl is now a school girl! 

Fitting right in!

Tina Goulart-Rallhan's photo.