In August 1987 when we moved from Columbus, Ohio, to the Bay Area, little did I realize that a phone call to Arvind Kumar, the editor ofIndia Currents, would lead me to write a monthly vegetarian food column for almost 14 years. I started out with a half-page column in 1987. It was easy to put together, with an accompanying recipe and a hand-drawn illustration. The editor liked my work and soon the half page turned into a full-page food column.

I liked creating unique recipes, sometimes “Cilantro rice topped with avocado curry” one evening, or “Spiced curried chicken and mussels biryani” on another occasion. My major in Chemistry came in handy. Nutrition, meat, and poultry and seafood courses were helpful. Gradually, writing and food innovation became a passion. I continued to write and contribute articles and recipes to newspapers, national magazines, and developed a working relationship with many editors in the food field.

India Currents

I have received numerous letters and emails from

India Currents readers over the years. I thank the readers for the lovely letters and the encouragement you provided. I remember one occasion specially. A few years ago, Carol W. invited me for luncheon. She offered me the menu— Pumpkin Bites with Chutney (IC 1987), Vegetarian Rogan Josh (IC 1989), Masala Bhat (IC 1990), Mixed Vegetable Raita (IC 1989), Mango Pie (IC 1988), Masala Chai (IC 1988). All my recipes from India Currents—truly, I was touched.

On the humorous side, when I met reader Shobi P. she said, “I always pictured you as being fat because you write about food, but you are slim and tall.” Another reader said, “Your columns in India Currents are refreshing.” My advice is—eat right, the food will take care of you!

Last year I started a business, Laxmi’s Delights, a product line selling Sweet Spiced Roasted Walnuts. I began with five stores and today my products are sold in more than 100 stores. Buyers and customers are requesting other flavors and I have to make more time for the business. At this time, I have decided to take a hiatus from my column. I have enjoyed working with India Currents and sharing recipes with the readers. So long! Thank you, India Currents.

ALU-MAKKAI PARATHA

Corn-potato Flatbread

1 fresh hot green chile, stemmed

1½ tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves

1¼ cup corn kernels, steamed until tender

1 large russet potato (½ pound) cooked, peeled and mashed

1½ teaspoons grated fresh ginger

½ teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting

¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

¼ cup rice flour

Melted desi ghee or butter, for brushing

To make the dough in a food processor: Drop chile and mint through the feed tube and mince. Add corn and process until finely pureed. Add the remaining ingredients except the ghee and process until the dough begins to clean the sides of the bowl. By hand: Finely mince the chile, mint, and corn. Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Knead to make medium-stiff dough.

Lightly coat your hands with oil and shape the dough into a smooth ball. Divide into 6 portions and roll each portion between your hands to form a smooth ball; put on a plate. Preheat a cast iron or heavy frying pan or a griddle over high heat for two minutes. Reduce the heat to medium.

Place a piece of the dough onto a floured work surface and roll to a 4- to 5-inch circle, dusting with flour as necessary. Transfer the flatbread to the hot griddle and cook about 1 minute until it starts to puff in places. Using a metal spatula, flip the bread and continue to cook until the bottom is speckled lightly. Press with the back of a spoon to ensure even cooking. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Place the breads on a serving platter and brush with desi ghee. Cut the bread into neat wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 6 flatbreads.

Note: For the right results, the potato must be freshly baked and the corn freshly steamed, and both ingredients must be warm while you make the dough. You might want to have another medium-size baked potato handy to adjust the consistency of the dough. If the dough is very stiff mash the potato and process along with the dough in the food processor. In warm and humid weather, the dough may get soggy and sticky; add a little more flour if this happens.

The flatbreads keep well for several hours in a towel-lined breadbox in a cool place.

Laxmi Hiremath is a cookbook author and contributes regularly to the food section of the SF Chronicle. Her products, under Laxmi’s Delights, are available at specialty food stores in Northern California.

was a sounding board for queries and recipe requests. Over the years, I innovated hundreds of recipes, which I shared with readers. The feedback from readers was very encouraging. I tested recipes on family, friends, and my children’s peers. Armed with their feedback I decided to write my first cookbook. My book was published in 1995.

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