Tag Archives: Baking

154: Snapshots So Far

3 Jun

Some experiences are best described without words. 

Here are some of mine so far, and I’m letting these pictures do all the talking. 

Banana chips and post-dinner conversations


Saris, dosas, window shopping in Commercial Street.

Friday afternoons with family and these eyes

Impromptu visits, conversations, and homemade fish fry and prawn curry meals

Sunny, windy, shade-laden walks under these gentle giants

Andhra meals, laughter, and bubbly fresh lime sodas

Relaxing with baking

151: Magical May

31 May

Here’s what it’s been like in pictures. 

Hot. 

Relaxing. 

Experimental. 

Filled with debauchery. 


And just plain amazing!

149: A Day In The Lives Of Most Of Us

29 May

I woke up very early for a Sunday. Given that I had to go in to work as well, it felt oddly fine to get out of bed before 7am; after all, there’d just be more time to do the things I’d wanted to do. Sunday mornings, according to me, ought to be spent savouring the best the weekend has to offer – it’s quiet, it’s peaceful, it’s pleasant, it’s the calm you need before the rush of yet another week begins. Therefore, in order for my Sunday to be perfect, it needs to be hearty in a subtle, non-overpowering way. For that, I have always imagined either sipping my tea whilst inhaling the aromas of a freshly baked cake rising in the oven or while digging into said warm cake as I have my tea. There’d also be the ambient sounds of chirping birds, the rustle of a newspaper, the crack of a biscuit or two (though they don’t really feature in this act when there’s cake around), minimal conversation, and perhaps the subtle seduction of a guitar playing in the background as well. I achieved some of this yesterday; except there wasn’t any cake fluffing up in the oven because I’d run out of baking powder and hadn’t bothered remembering to get a new bottle. I sought the company of my blog instead, when I still had tea to drink and was done with my papers.

Today was a different set-up. It did involve the appropriation of my Sunday morning fantasies, except, it looked and felt a little like this; something that may be all too familiar to you as well.

Please note that this is the dream I was trying to achieve – sipping on my cup of tea with A, while reading the newspaper in the ambience of chirping birds and the aroma of a cake.

I woke up and by default put on some water to boil for tea. In the meantime, I got the ingredients for my cake ready, and was just about to start on this process when; and I will use the now atrociously common phrase “but first let me…” (not take a selfie, but…)

…add milk to this boiling water for my tea.
…scoop this cream that’s collected on top of this bowl of milk and keep it aside.
…gather all the cream I’ve been collecting and make some ghee (clarified butter) out of it, since I already have the cream at hand.
…turn the tea off (it was done by then and was listlessly boiling away and becoming too strong for our liking)
…get the process of ghee-making started
…put my cake batter together
…oil my hair so I can let it rest while I have my tea, leaving me with enough time to wash it once tea is done.
…turn the tea back on (it had cooled down by now)
…wake A up, because I’ve become his alarm clock now.
…get our tea and biscuits on the table (the cake was in the oven)
…say hello to my plants which are now outside my house (as A opened the door to get the newspaper)
…read while I have my tea
…but wait, let me Instagram this perfect moment
…skim the ghee off the kadhai (wok)
…enjoy my tea-time. Babska, enjoy the present moment, always.

This is endless. This happens to each of us. This has become a regular feature of my life which, if given precedence over everything else, takes over my ability to do one thing at a time (is that necessarily a bad thing?!, you’d ask), or anything else that I might wish to do (like sleep, for example).

Some may call it the ants-in-my-pants syndrome; I just call it the this-domestication-gives-two-fucks-about-living-life-in-the-moment. Sigh.

Having said that, I did end up having my (still) hot tea with biscuits, as I instagrammed a photograph and then proceeded on to read, while enjoying the ambience of birds, the rustle of trees, the shuffle of the newspaper, and the smell of freshly baked cake and homemade ghee that was bubbling away, all in the company of A. I hope you have a wonderful week ahead, and a great Monday today. :)

140: For Ma

20 May

This cake was a long time coming; one that I’d been dreaming of making but just never got around to investing time over, until today when it just happened. Needless to say, it was the most effort I’ve ever needed to put in for a simple tea-cake, but the results, as you can see, were fabulous, and just thrilling, to be honest.

Today is ma’s birthday, and it was absolutely fitting to have this bubble up in my oven and fill my house with the fragrance of love, and all things that ma is to me, and each of us. Besides, she loves her teacakes, and I cannot wait to make this for her, because we all have an Alex in us that needs to bite the Marty in us too. :)

This reminded me of two years back when I made ma her birthday cake at home; it was also the year I was moving away from home and her nest. It had to be doubly special for reasons still too emotional to describe.

Time flies, and here I am, sitting with another cake over yet another year that has arrived at our doorsteps.

While I can’t be with her on this day, and couldn’t be with her on this day last year either, this sense of serendipity makes up for it somehow.

Love is ma. Love is a freshly baked homemade cake, too. :)

91: Sublime Saturdays…

1 Apr

…are made of this

A breakfast of leftovers: chicken sausages, pork sausages, mushroom + pepperoni omlettes with toast and OJ to go.

this

Browned clarified butter + vanilla sponge cake.

and this.

Grilled begun(i) bhaaja (brinjal/eggplant fritters) to complement our lunch of daal (lentils) bhaat (rice).

18: What We’re Eating

18 Jan

There’s been a shift in the weather, this week. However, we’re still feeling cold, and I find myself wrapped up in no less than four layers. Come sunset, that becomes five. 

Given the weather, our diet has also naturally made way for the promise of warm, hearty, comfort meals. We’ve kept the concept of salads and cold foods aside, and welcomed dishes that I especially love – soups, stews, bakes. 

Yesterday I made this impromptu dish which featured in my kitchen for the first time since I got married. It’s a regular must-have dinner, otherwise. It needs an oven and whatever else it is that you’ve got in your vegetable basket. Baked vegetables. :)


I’d obviously fallen in love with it, as a child. In my opinion, I don’t think there’s a more hearty, and comforting way to have your vegetables. And they never taste as good anywhere else. 

In this pot, I added quite a basket of veges – handsfull of spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, beans, and mushrooms (only because I had some in my tray). Along with it, I added chunks of chicken to make this more appealing to my non-vegetarian loving husband. 

We sat under our throws, had bowls full of this, accompanied with garlic toast, and  we have no leftovers to fall back on, today. Sometimes it’s great to not have leftovers, tbh. The best part is the thick, brown crust right on top, thanks to the facelift this dish got with a small grating of cheese, for good measure. :)

As much as it’s a pain to cook in winters, especially, I think this season has the best dishes to offer any kitchen and hungry tummy. 

Today’s That Day

20 May

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It’s mamma’s birthday today and I’m not anywhere near her, physically, though I make up for the fact that my brother is with her, as are our friends who love her. This is what I made for her last year because I knew 2015 was the year I was to leave home which made it all the more necessary to live every single moment of it together. It’s funny how we take each other and time, most importantly, for granted. It’s when we’re given a deadline that that panic attack sets in, that urgency to do all the things you wanted to do and had kept on the back burner for no apparent reason. I miss her terribly, but the heartening bit is that I love her much more than how much I miss her. That sort of love is infinite and overpowering, often making everything else seem smaller and less significant. It’s almost a catch-22 sort of thing but I’d rather not get overly intellectual about it. My love for her is a love only I know and only I can have. That’s the beauty of it – we all get to love and no one’s love can be the same as yours, which makes it feel all the more exclusive and special, no? I cannot love her like my brother loves her, or her sisters love her…I can love her only the way I can.

It’s a tough but important lesson – to leave home and the fine wings of one’s parents. I really wish it wasn’t necessary but it is. Sometimes I hate it and sometimes I’m happy that it happened sooner than later – it gets harder to leave, you know.

Today I would’ve taken her for her customary Friday beer which she savours and loves, and gotten her a few surprise ones more.
Today I would’ve smelt her cheek as I kissed her face.
Today I would’ve made her her tea and laid it by the side of a springy, vanilla tea cake.
Today I would’ve bickered with her anyway, because she would’ve wanted to go to office and I, for her to take a break.
Today I would’ve baked her another cake, if I was there.
And today, we would’ve had our fresh, crunchy Greek salad and fries along with our drinks.
We would’ve clicked some selfies after another round of bickering because she likes to click pictures of her children especially when they’re engrossed in enjoying their favourite meals.
We would’ve gone for a drive if I could muster the courage to drive,
Or gone for a walk and found poetry in every passing tree and flower.

But I’m here and she’s there and there’s no room for sadness, heartbreak, or yearning today; because those are for days when you’re not feeling too good or for days that aren’t so good. And today’s a great day, so I’m only going to wish her the very best, which I always will. I’m going to power her with only great things – energy, thoughts, wishes and magic – as she reaches for that beer and gives me that big, satisfied grin which only a beer lover can give you after that first sip.

<3

Inspiration

8 Jun

I oftentimes wonder why or how writing went from being so easy and spontaneous to an act that needed more than just an impulse. There are times when you know you need absolutely nothing to write and all those words flow out in a congruous whole as if you’d spent hours stringing them together in your head; except you never did. And there are times when you try and try and you’re left saving yet another draft. I haven’t tried. I haven’t fought myself to sit down and write. It was something new I was trying out with pretty much everything — to stop fighting and wanting to control everything. I’ve been successful at times, and that’s what has brought about some peace in knowing that sometimes it just doesn’t matter. Those words will flow when they will. But that didn’t have to necessarily imply my putting everything else to a stop just so I could write or read or do whatever I had planned on doing.

One of the things I’m growing to learn is the importance of time and how, while it continues to do its own thing in its own manner, it can never ever be rushed. It’s almost like that beautiful cake you’re eyeing rise in the oven…open the door midway and it wouldn’t be close to what we imagined or toiled for. Everything has its time and its place…its right to bloom just when it is ready to. Everything else can be so premature and bitter…or less valuable. So yes, time… I’m growing to let go of it. In a world filled with shoulds and musts and existential labels, it’s hard to close yourself off without branding yourself in ways you never intended to. You needn’t be a rebel, a castaway, a slowcoach just because your clock didn’t match up to the pace of somebody else’s.

With half the year over, I reflect back only to find reassurance in the fact that there is an insurmountable inner peace in the act of just letting go. Letting go to thrive, to feel, to understand…to just live. It’s overwhelming just how difficult and simple it really is.

And from nowhere, I find myself back here…because I know, like I said earlier, that my words will flow when they are ready to. They will speak and my silence will feel content. The year so far has been jam-packed with that sort of craziness that I’ve never experienced before – it’s been trying, testing, overwhelming, rewarding, exhilarating… I see a part of me I have never seen before… it’s taking me some time to familiarize myself with her… to understand her… and I like what I see.

I’m finding my peace in the catharsis of food and cooking all over again… it’s that kind of therapy which needs no words, no explanations… no taking… just giving. It gives me a sense of time, patience, love and peace like nothing else. So you can imagine the magic I’m surrounding myself with because who can ever have enough of magic? And when it tastes good, if I may say so, then really, why not?

I’ve been on a baking spree trying to concoct things I imagine in my head. Sometimes it turns out top notch and sometimes I ask myself what I was thinking! This year round, I decided on walking the icing route and baking mom a cake for her birthday because homemade chocolate birthday cakes are one of those things that make a birthday, in my honest opinion, complete. Tell me you haven’t felt as close to perfect with that large chunk of beautiful chocolate cake in your mouth only to be too satisfied to even speak? Admit it. There is nothing like a homemade chocolate cake to get you going and also make you feel masterchef-like. Of course it takes more than that, but a good chocolate cake speaks. So here’s what I put up. It was comforting, warm, dense, light, healthily unhealthy and felt like home. That’s all one ever needs. :)

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Of course it’s also that time of the year when you let go of all your ladylike mannerisms and your appropriate, society-preferred prim properness to sink your teeth into the magic of what can only be a mango on a hot summer’s day. Nothing, and I mean nothing, can ever come close to spelling or feeling like summer than this gorgeous, gorgeous creation. Thank you, God. You’re more magical than I can fathom.

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Here’s also why I never bothered to do much. Because when the weather is languorous and sort of rainy and pretty, it makes best sense to let go, put those feet up, preferably with a parent or a loved one, and just allow the aromas of freshly brewed coffee take over.

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And bake olive bread to be had hot from the oven. And imagine for some time that your home has been ported to, let’s say, Italy, shall we?

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Or when you’re feeling rather adventurous, do you go and bake a lemon pound cake and try your hand at icing. I’m not a fan of icing. But sometimes, you might want to hop over to the other side.

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And if it’s not rainy and pretty, you speed things up with a cold coffee that reminds you of summers spent in the wait of that prized beverage right off the hands of your grandmum. Topped with crushed ice. And maybe ice cream. And accompanied by cold coffee moustaches.

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And here’s one that literally took the cake! I do dream of getting that cookbook in place and hopefully I will drink as many cold coffees as it takes to get my ass moving on it. But in the mean time, I have to take a step back and marvel at this beauty which I can gorge on minus wondering which part of my butt it went to. No yolks, no oil, no butter, a fraction of the flour one would normally use — now isn’t that just the best thing ever? It’s like telling a person who gets fat quick (me) that they could eat all they want and never get fat. Woot! Except I may want to omit the “you’ll never get fat” bit when I speak to myself. Bite into your reality and cake, will you?

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And then this. What stands between that marvelous poached egg and crisp toast? My teeth. And a million disastrous trials, of course. Next up, hollandaise, let’s touch baze!

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So yes, I’m getting fat on some kitchen experiments and essentials. Because, that my friends, is where my inspiration’s rolling from. Except, I wish, the fat would stay away. Gosh darn it!

Sun Chasing

25 Jan

The last week of January is making its way in with this weird time warp and all. It does feel like time is moving both slowly and fast; it’s confusing, and disorienting because I can’t ascertain how I feel. But it is here and post Sankrant and Basant Panchami, there has been a noticeable change in the shift of seasons. It is cold, but a cold that is comfortable and happy; cold enough for me to be able to roll down my window at 6am and embrace the morning air. It doesn’t get depressingly dark by 6pm anymore and the sun takes his time to stick around a bit longer, till about 645 or so. It’s heartwarming for a sun-chaser. It makes me undeniably thrilled. I love winter and will miss it, till next time. Spring has arrived. And everyone’s chasing the freshness of a Spring sun almost desperately. It’s a happy scene.

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Talking about happiness and desperation, I dreamt of the most vividly gorgeous red velvet cake day before. It was the kind of vivid that ensured I remembered just how it looked, felt, tasted and smelt; enough to drive me into the kitchen and bake one. Of course it wasn’t even close to being as ornate as the one in my dream was, but it was moist, tender, red and well…tasty. So it compensated in its own way.

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I’d reckon this is a fine way to begin any day, if you ask me. Cake and coffee hit the spot and always will. It’s the zing, the pep, the joy, the shot, the love we could do with once in a while. Really.

It’s turning out to be one of those weekends that doesn’t go as per plan. It’s the one weekend I was prepped to step out for some chores but ended up staying put at home, catching up on movies and books. Greasy Indo-Chinese food in the form of Chilli Chicken (dry) and Dragon Chopsuey (all of which can never ever be replicated at home or any decent Chinese restaurant in India) was had in the company of Sholay. It’s one of those combinations that is so typically Indian, so typically homely and so gorgeously sumptuous that one can never have enough of it. You know what I mean. Of course it’s another thing what that addictive Indo-Chinese grub can do to your system when mindlessly consumed because you can’t ever totally focus on your food when you’re watching Sholay. You’re either caught up with Gabbar and his (mind-blowing) acts or you’re singing along or you’re doing the obvious – mouthing lines along with the characters because really, can you count how many times you’ve watched this legendary Bollywood movie?

Talking about which, Birdman and The Imitation Game have been watched. The former took me a while to warm up to because I didn’t know what was going on…until I went and read its blurb on IMDb post which it started fitting in. And the latter, well, I’ve been waiting to watch it ever since I first watched its trailer sometime last year. I’m so glad there are people in this world who write books and make movies because really, who would’ve ever known about Alan Turing, The Enigma, and his contribution to this world, unless I was a computer engineer or a mathematician? It’s heartwarming to constantly learn and discover the many pages this worldbook is made up of; to bring to light unsung heroes and their passionate dedication to making this worldbook more intriguing and fascinating beyond the ordinary. And I of course thought that Benedict Cumberbatch was just right for the role. However, now it makes me miss Sherlock even more because I need to see him in his original role; because it’s been too long and because there technically should be no justification required.

And as if there wasn’t enough of a British influence on my days already, I’ve finally started reading The Silkworm. It’s been long, long overdue but then again, my kindle took over and I’ve refrained from starting anything new on it till at least this one gets done with because I spent some big monies on buying what is ultimately just a crime novel.

Before I return to reading, here’s what living with sun-chasers everywhere, feels like. Poppy (my last standing guinea pig) has his spot in the sun where he gathers all his food and also has his numerous REM sleep cycles. Every flower, plant and human hand in this balcony also seeks the sun, after mild tussles and pokes from thorny plants who may actually not appreciate sharing sun-time with the human and her hand.

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Soak up that blissful springtime sun, won’t you? Have yourself a lovely Sunday!

Sundays

9 Mar

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The pigs were given a bath yesterday after a long time. Now that there are signs of summer aplenty, fortunately (or unfortunately for them), it’s a better time to bathe them and have them figure what ever happened to their dry and filthy fur. I’m more than happy. I like my pigs bathed, groomed and clean. Poppy (Poppins, the first one with a big black patch on his face) is such a pleasure to bathe. He’s the baby of the family and he sits put on the balcony while I lather him. He even lifts his chin so I can bathe/rub his neck, which he really enjoys so much. Fuzzy (the last in the series of pictures), makes bathing her a little more challenging. This is perhaps the only time that she shows me that she, indeed, can run. Because she’s the laziest pig you can ever find. Thankfully she isn’t reading this blog post. But she knows what I think of her, so she and I just have to deal with the reality of it all.

I haven’t seen them clean in such a long time. And now I find it hard to let go of them because a) they’re so clean and white and soft and neat, and b) they’ll go roll around in their cages and become brown all over again. Gosh, it’s such a pain being a parent. I’ve figured that this is as close to having kids as I will ever get. :)

So everyone’s happy this morning. They’ve been combed, their noses and ears have been sponge-bathed and are more presentable, and they’ve been groomed. Fuzzy believes she can run for being prom queen again. But I was telling her that maybe she should give someone else a chance. Vanity, I tell you.

Sunday breakfast of Bombay toast, adrak chai and cake has been had. The sky looks beautiful laden with wispy clouds going their own way, and taking their time to do so. The plants in the balconies are happy because they’ve got their dance partners – the breeze – back. And in the midst of all this, it’s been a good day of reminiscing. It all started last night, actually. It started last night when a friend and I were talking about love and how foolish we are in love, in her words.

Of course I thought I’d wake up late today or at least get up after having spent a good amount of my Sunday morning, reading in bed. Isn’t that the best feeling ever? But today started off early and post all the extra productivity that did its rounds, we continued our conversation. I hope it carries on. We reminisce ever so often. Because we really did have such a lovely time.

In her words, “a few years back when we were in love, we were sooo in love.” And it was true. We were so in love. We were in love with our new-found freedom. We were in love with life. We were so in love with the boys that we were so in love with. We loved without consequence. Or without thought. Or without preconceived notions. Or without fear. We loved with such abandon. We loved keeping happiness in mind. We loved in the moment. We loved without hesitation. We loved with so much joy. We loved without the prospect of heartbreak.

None of us is with the boys that we loved without a care, today. None of us hurries to meet them for hurried breakfasts before rushing to work. None of us runs to the train station in time to see them off. None of us spends evenings with them. None of us stays out late and has the other cover for us. None of us has immense phone bills testimony to innumerable conversations about the infiniteness that was our relationship back then. All of that’s gone. And we made it out okay. Or have we?

Because we’re not the same anymore. We’re more cautious, guarded, afraid. We’re more sure of ourselves, but really, are we? We’re more “grown up”. We’re more “independent”. We’re all that we wanted to be but I don’t know where that abandon went, where the ability to just let go and trust yourself went. I don’t know where the fear crept up from. I don’t know how the years that have passed have made us more fragile. Life is so strange.

But on this particular day, I choose to think of all that we were and of all that we did, without a doubt, without a thought. There’s something about that kind of youth that fades. Unfortunately. But we’ll always be fools in love. That we’re all very sure about. And that’s the thought I’m going to hold on to. :)

Have a lovely Sunday, you guys.