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22 October 2012

Khatti Meethi Kaddu Subzi : Punjabi style red pumpkin curry


There are some side dishes that make the calories of a poori worthwhile. Aloo subzi and Chole have always been my favourite accompaniments to this deep fried bread and this pumpkin subzi (curry) is a recent discovery. Tangy, spicy and sweet at the same time, it is a great way to make use of red pumpkin which is in season now. In Bangalore, we find the Disco pumpkin which are smaller in size, the Ironbark or the Japanese, all of which have a deep orange flesh. For this preparation, the former varieties are preferred over the yellow flesh pumpkin used for Olan like Koottu.

This is a Punjabi recipe shared by my friend, Kishi Arora of Foodoholics and this is the way her mom makes it. I think I have more or less followed the recipe she dictated to me on phone. We prepared this with Aaloo Bhaaja, Chole, Halwa and Poori for a perfect Navratri dinner. 



Khatti Meethi Kaddu Subzi / Sweet and sour red pumpkin / butternut squash
Time taken : Under 30 minutes
Serves 4 people

Ingredients
750 grams red pumpkin 
1 tbsp mustard oil 
Fat pinch of asafoetida
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi seeds)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp amchoor powder (raw mango powder)
1 tsp red chilli powder
1-2 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp crushed jaggery (or brown sugar)
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp salt or more to taste
Finely chopped coriander for garnish

Directions

  1. Peel pumpkin and scrape out seeds. Cut into even sized cubes, about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch big.
  2. In a wide wok / kadai, heat the oil. Add the asafoetida, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds. Once the mustard splutters, add the pumpkin cubes and toss well to coat with oil and whole spices.
  3. On medium flame, cook the pumpkin for 5 minutes or so, then add all remaining powdered spices, including crushed jaggery, add 1/2 cup of water, cover and cook on low flame. This will take at least 15-20 minutes to cook. Keep checking every 5 minutes, if any additional water is required, adding 1/4 cup at a time, if necessary.
  4. When cooked, you should be able to crush the pumpkin with the thumb with light pressure but the shape should be retained, and the whole dish should not turn into mashed pumpkin. 
  5. Adjust the red chilli powder, jaggery and amchoor to suit your taste such that it is a good balance of spicy, sweet and sour. If the pumpkin is inherently quite sweet, you don't have to add much jaggery.
  6. Garnish with finely chopped coriander.
Serve hot with pooris or rotis.


21 October 2012

Seven things to remember if you want to market via blogs

Off late, I receive at least half a dozen emails a week from PR companies or marketing teams, who have woken up to the blogging community as a cheap free and effective way of promoting their food product / beverage / restaurant. And 5 out of 6 get it wrong. At first, it would anger me. Now, it amuses me. I feel bad for the big brands who throw good money on bad PR, who more often than not, rub bloggers the wrong way. 

Dear PR Company, 
This one is for you on how to get it right with us food bloggers (or any blogger).

Seven things to remember if you want to market via blogs

What's in a name? Everything.
Most bloggers (except the anonymous ones, in case there are any) have our name revealed somewhere on our blogs. Spare a second to find it and get it right. Calling me 'Nandini' or 'Sangita' on the invite, isn't going to make me feel like reading any further. You aren't addressing me, after all. Some of you don't even bother with a name. It's just 'Dear Blogger' - that is a total fail. You are even worse than the ones who get the name wrong. 

Location, location, location
I have my location clearly mentioned in my blog. I live in Bangalore. And 50% of the times, I get invites for events in Bombay or Delhi or some other city. Dude, seriously, do you have *that* big a marketing budget, to fly bloggers to other cities? In these times of recession, I'm sure not! Then why not spend another second to verify location and send an invite only if the event is in my city.

The details
Don't be all mysterious in your mail. We do have other things to do than spend 10 minutes trying to decipher what is it that you are exactly trying to market to us. If it is a food brand that sounds baffling enough to masquerade like Viagra, you are not going to get a response. I understand confidentiality and all that - but some degree of clarity is surely required. 

Give us time
Believe me, I've got invites for events well after the event date saying please RSVP urgently and I've had to reply - "Sorry, I don't time travel well". Food bloggers are not utterly jobless people, even if you think that way. Most have a serious career, pursue hobbies, mind their kids, look after their family and blog in their spare time. Even if they would be interested in attending your event, they need at least a week's notice. Sending me a mail on the 20th October about a special cuisine week in your restaurant that is running from 13th October to 21st October is so not done. No one likes to be invited as an after thought. And that too, expecting an immediate RSVP. Sorry, no one is *that* jobless.

More details
In case you got the name and location right, and you were nice enough to contact us a week before the event, and you managed to get a 'Yes' from the blogger, please share other essential details like the exact venue, time of the event, the dress code and any other specifics that we need to know. A blogger friend who attended the launch of a certain beverage last week found herself in casuals when most of the (non-blogger) guests were dressed as though they were on red carpet. No thanks for the embarrassment.  

Transparency
Be honest about what you want from the blogger. Do you want him to tweet about the event / photograph the event and post on Facebook / write a post on her blog about the event / product. It's better than being all ambiguous and then you feeling all sore about having given a free meal for nothing in return. 

Lastly, some respect, please.
We are food-bloggers. We cook decently well. We eat out in restaurants regularly, pay our bills and leave a generous tip. Assuming that by throwing some free food and drink our way, you can get things done the way you want, is not the best way to go about it. Free food is NOT fees for a professional's service. The reason you are approaching me in the first place is that you realize that when I say a product / restaurant is good, the people who read my blog, follow me on Twitter or on Facebook will believe my word and be willing to try your product out. Since when does a free meal constitute as fees for a professional marketing service rendered? As a PR company, please realize you are the bridge between a food company / restaurant / brand and the blogger. It's a relationship that needs to be maintained if you are going to need foodblogs as one of your marketing arms. If you think foodblogs don't deserve the respect, then why bother with us anyway?


This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda
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