Tag Archives: Coffee

95: Weekdays In A Picture

5 Apr

One ginormous swig of adult coffee OTR!


I’m buzzed, and clueless about where my days go. Meh. 

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From 15 Kilos To 20

17 Aug

I miss dosas — eating them, making them, smelling them, biting my way through them, watching my joy crunch its way through them. I miss dosas and I fondly remember the time I had not one but two benne (butter) dosas in one sitting at Airlines, during my visit to Bangalore last month. That was a first for me. And that was a downright shocker. But you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, yeah?

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Before I left Bangalore and ventured to that part of my country which sells this staple at exorbitant prices, I learnt how to actually make one, minus it breaking apart in front of my own eyes and my sense of dosa-making self esteem. Of course it only just took me over 28 years to figure the process out — I think that’s a fair time frame to pick up dosa making by, right? I’m those fussy, yet not-fussy dosa eaters because my preference lies in just two types of dosas – plain dosa and butter plain dosa. Sometimes it infuriates me to be so, erm, rigid, because I end up feeling this weird half-full sensation, unsure of whether I can eat my way through dosa number 2, but still desirous of dosa number 2; which wouldn’t really be the case if I ate a masala dosa in the first place. But I fall under that category of people person who thinks dosas and potatoes are just not meant to be together. I feel very secure in this community of one person. Do you feel the same way? If yes, that makes us two — so yay!

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I also came back armed with a suitcase overweight by five kilos, which I pretended was only 15 kilos. How that story at the airport went is better kept under wraps. So yes, these five extra kilos comprised masalas, masalas, masalas and filter coffee powder. One of my favourite and mandatory picks was a batch of rasam powder — enough to last me past the horribly cold winters we have, which are still months away, btw. But now that I’ve dived headlong into this rasam-making business over here, it seems highly unlikely that this rasam powder batch will last me till before winter starts. Wow. So much win.

So rasam was made this time and what an absolute thrill the entire experience was. The smells, the process, the feel of the ingredients, the anticipation, the tempestuous bubbling, the flavours, the sounds…the splutter, the gasp, the sizzle…it was worth it all. My kitchen felt like it was transported back to a Tam-Brahm’s house and I felt like I was walking down the lane of my childhood memories, filled with the sights, sounds, and smells of rasam. What a glorious moment, what a sublime experience. I’m sure to walk down that road again, and again, and again some more.

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This post has turned out to be more South-Indianish and food related (I’m not surprised), than I had planned it to be. The other thing I’ve been wallowing very shamelessly in and reaping the maximum out of is, of course, my very dear mug of filter coffee. No matter how judiciously I use this, I always go back lusting for more. This current potion of magic has been the cure to not just those random mood swings, but pesky headaches that appear out of nowhere, and also works wonders on relieving stress in a jiffy. All it takes is a whiff of its earthy aroma to encase my senses and make me feel better in an instant. And I’ve been trying quite earnestly to better my hand at making my desi cuppa joe better. This is what my coffee looks like on most days, and I’m stoked at how it looks, tastes, smells and feels. All senses spellbound – check!

It looks like I’ve brought back more of Bangalore with me than I did from my previous visits. Sometimes the memories of home; its sounds, smells, experiences, treats, sights; can be debilitating in that you need some form of instant gratification to reassure your leaving and moving on, which can be hard to find in a place so different from home. But it’s at times like these when you realize that home resides as much within you, as it does anywhere else. And with that thought, I came back to NCR with more Bangalore in me than before.

The Call Of Home

23 Mar

The last time I went to Bangalore, I brought back with me two measly packets of filter coffee powder. Measly because I’m not an everyday coffee drinker and even if I felt like my coffee drinking habit was going that way (because omg it’s filter coffee and what’s not to love and get hooked on to!?), I’d put a stop to it immediately…therefore the option to carry a very limited supply of coffee powder that we do not get so freely over here, was chosen. Not having it every single day also ensures that it retains its novelty, its crisp ability to make me feel all that I want to in an instant when I miss home…stocked enough to give me my sense of happiness when I need it. There’s so much attached to an experience of sipping (sometimes loudly when no one’s around) that mug of strong, hot, aromatic, earthy coffee.

But then I had a chance to restock my supply and so I’ve been drinking it with more freedom and less guilt the past few days. However, it was just yesterday when I was sitting all by myself with this mug of rustic goodness only to be immediately transported back home on sipping it. It’s not the first time, but I let it soak in and see where the experience would take me. I have a home of my own now, like my previous posts have been testament to. But here is this one association that has become so innate, so spontaneous and so powerful that sitting so far away from my mother’s home, I feel like I’m immediately surrounded by the essence of her place. No, she isn’t a filter coffee drinker as such and neither do we perform the (sacred) ritual of preparing a decoction and going through the entire experience on a daily basis. But filter coffee has, over the years, become a very strong and definitive link to what I associate with the feeling of being home.

No, it does not feel like I’ve been transported back to Bangalore when I sip on my coffee. On the contrary, it feels like Bangalore has come to me, that my associations with the city and its ways, habits, culture, have come right to me and intermingled with my space here. It’s a heady feeling to experience this amalgamation really. Isn’t that really the essence of home in its entirety…to be able to feel comfortable wherever you are…to not feel out of place? Sitting in Delhi, steeped in a climate so unlike Bangalore’s, surrounded by people so different from Bangaloreans, walking its ways characteristically far removed from Bangalore, will always be a reminder that I’ve left home for good. But like I’ve been saying in my earlier posts, we do tend to add facets of what we’ve left behind into our present spaces to give it that added touch of comfort, familiarity and soul. It’s no wonder traditions never fade, at least the ones that really matter.

For me it’s a cup of filter coffee and the taste of coconut that lifts me up and makes me feel like I can be here and there without physically moving. It’s beautiful to see how strong these associations are and how we realise them only after we’re so far removed from where they buried themselves into our very core. It makes me believe that home can, and will be wherever we want it to be…it brings to me the realization that perhaps we never really leave home at all. Such a radiant moment of realisation, isn’t it? I’m thinking we carry home in us, because as clichéd as it sounds, haven’t we always been told or haven’t we always read that home is where our heart is? These clichés really are more weighty than we credit them with.

But it’s a good thing, and so very, very reassuring…it makes moving out that much more comforting and less daunting.

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Just a simple cup of desi joe, some quiet morning time interspersed with the ruffle of a newspaper and the chiming of birds, the whir of the fridge, the seduction of crisping toasts, the fine fingers of sunshine touching yours, the tease of the breeze outside, the call from Time to tell you to just sit still… I’m thinking this is nothing short of meditation. Except, this has food. So it’s got to be more than great right?

Some Days

25 Jun

There are some days that mandate not many words and fewer actions still. It’s those times when not just your physical, but your mental, emotional and logical capacities take a backseat, or fight to. You know? Where you want to be on autopilot and let things roll out seamlessly except the paths of our plans and days aren’t as meticulous and foolproof as those well-laid out, pre-planned paths that planes on autopilot can afford to take. However, days have whizzed past us, especially the ones of June, and while we’re past half the year already, I wonder what really happened and where all these +182 days went. Time has this funny way of making you feel like you’re in control but how much is always that question that remains unanswered. And then you wonder if you were on autopilot after all.

Today has been one of those days; actually the week began with a kind of heavy inertia I tried so hard to fight. Monday was one of those days I’ve seldom felt before and so I guess it’s just the week percolating right into every part of my being that wants nothing to do with it. The quarter is almost at its end and it’s time to rewind all our batteries and get set at the line of a new quarter all over again. New goals, new targets, new work, new strategies…and all I can help think about is a beach. Or the idea of not having a schedule for as long as I please, till I’m really, really back to feeling ready. I’m sorry if, through this post, some of my weariness has become contagious. But here I am, trying to keep it together without waving the white flag. It’s not all bad. It’s just the desperate need to get a damn break that is a break from start to finish; one where the only stress you feel is the inability to lift a finger because you’re so dang relaxed, you couldn’t care less.

So, in the meanwhile, apart from craploads of work, I’m making it a point to go out and do this.

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Drown my listlessness in cups of black coffee and egg puffs/snacks. Not. But black coffee; my latest discovery that caters to both my caffeine and lactose-sensitive digestive needs, is such a life saver. I’m sure you knew of it and its magical powers a long while ago, especially if you are a coffee drinker/person, but I *most obviously* take my sweet time to get to places 9,833 years after people first set foot in them. And let’s not talk about the precious memories most of us have of puffs; egg puffs to be precise. I think these munchies were synonymous with time spent at college during my Master’s degree and since it’s near impossible to get one in my grasp at this very moment, I’d like to keep an entire post on the beauty of egg puffs for later.

But no, said listlessness is tackled not by unhealthy food, but by the sheer simplicity of this.

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To be able to get some fresh air and to be surrounded by even a little bit of green, I undoubtedly believe, is one of the best cures for anything. Especially when you work in an air-conditioned work-spaceship where people don’t know how to shut their mouth and sneeze. Jesus Christ.

But yes, do you take a moment or two or more to compulsorily leave whatever it is you’re doing and just head out, if even for the shortest of breaks? Small things, I guess that’s all it takes. And with the weather that it is in Bangalore right now, it would be a shame to spend every waking minute in said sneeze laden work-spaceship.

Hopefully whatever I’ve contagiously passed on to you gets overridden by this picture because it has definitely helped me. And I’m going to stick with that feeling to end my day with. :)

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!

Simple Things

21 Mar

IMG_9345 IMG_9341 IMG_9343 IMG_9344 IMG_9361 IMG_9362 IMG_9363 IMG_9309To say that it’s been a hectic week is pushing it. Pinch me, I can’t believe the much awaited weekend’s finally here. It’s time to kick back and just be.

There isn’t much to say. I think my pictures will do all the talking that needs to be done. My head feels a tad bit overcrowded and maybe I need the caffeine to sort things out before I figure out what’s going on.

In the mean time, here’s what I’ve been hooked to ever since I heard it. It’s a track that played at the end credits of one of the episodes of this series called Girls. Have you watched it? I just about managed to catch up on its latest episodes and this one track stood out for everything it speaks of and of course, its placement in the episode. Give it a listen. It’s beautiful. It’s apt. It speaks my mind.

Smoke with me babe
And lay with me babe
Laugh with me babe
I just want (the) simple things
I just want you.

So simple. So powerful.

It’s been a week of indulgence all through. Which reminds me, I’ve been talking to my friends about randomly wanting a burrito loaded with goodness and that occasional cappuccino because sometimes you just want that random burrito and cappuccino. And from nowhere, both happened. It’s strange how things happen. Not that it’s hard to find these things today. It’s just strange how they come to you when they do.

You could give California Burrito a try, if you haven’t already. I can just about manage to finish (and by finish, I mean stuff my face beyond belief) a mini burrito. I still feel rather full from lunch, that’s the only hiccup. But I can’t bare to waste that mini burrito. It’s just wrong to do so. I quite like the spicy chicken one. My friends do have their rice bowl and they quite enjoy it. But I don’t think I have the stomach for it, not for the time being at least. Sigh.

Simple things.

That’s what the good life’s all about.

Thank you for listening to this random post.

Have a beautiful Friday.

PS, Mexican food is…rajma-centric and still so top notch!

Sinful Saturday

16 Mar

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Adrak chai (ginger milk tea) on a Friday and Saturday are much savoured by the over sensitive caffeine me. It’s something I look forward to minus the worry of having to toss and turn in bed for most of the night. But, as much as I love the idea of it, I think the turn in weather has brought about some changes as well. It’s slowly time to keep them hot beverages aside for a summer afternoon and reign in that blessed cold coffee. Well, that is what I’ve been craving for, for a bit now.

In between catching up on Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and Downton Abbey, the craving made me head all the way to the grocery store in order to get whatever I needed my dose of weekend cold coffee to have. It was sumptuous and a tad bit sinful as well. I’m not complaining. I never really complain about sinning over food, really. What can I say, I’ve been converted and have moved over to the other side before I even knew it.

So there it was, and it was quite the welcome break from that cup of hot tea. Of course, this can only ever be a weekend affair thanks to that over-sensitivity I was talking about. Also, I don’t think I can afford to sin on an everyday basis. :D Plus it was pasghetti time again this weekend, so it was sin written all over my Saturday. Sumptuous sinning. :)

The visit to the grocery store also had me pick up this new series of ice cream bars called Magnum that I’ve been hearing the rounds of. Have you had them before? They’re supposed to be more chocolatey and rich, is what I heard. I gave them a try. And I don’t think I’ll be trying them anytime soon again. For one, a single bar cost me 85 bucks. It was a chocobar. After having paid anywhere between 5-25 bucks on a chocobar all my life, I think this was too rude a shock to me. Why was it 85 bucks? Because the chocolate coating around the vanilla bar is thicker, for sure. Also, the vanilla bar in itself is so much more rich and creamier and therefore, thicker.

My brother tried the chocolate truffle one and said it was all chocolate and lots of it. If that’s your bar of chocolate, then go for it. Having grown up on chocobar and having so many associations with it, I wouldn’t rate this one too high. It’s like paying excessively for something you’re so fond of, except it isn’t really the thing you’re so fond of. Toying with a consumer’s idea of associations and concept of brand is quite a tricky lane to go down on. For the company that tried doing it, I hope it works for them because really, nothing for me could ever beat a simple chocobar. I really could do without the richness. I’d save that for a more sumptuous dessert than a bar of ice cream. Besides, the vanilla bar inside tasted more milky than vanilla-y to me. Fail.

Give it a try. Maybe I ought to try the other flavours as well. But if the simplest of them all made me feel this burdened with unnecessary richness in a time when I would like lighter dessert options, I’m a bit wary of trying the more decadent ones. After all, chocobars and their other counterparts always bring back memories of waiting to hear the ringing bell of the mobile ice cream cart on your street, of running over to the ice cream guy and buying whatever your mind fancied, even if it was that orange/mango iced candy bar that so sealed the deal almost every summer afternoon. It’s hard for anyone to replace that which is so etched in one’s memories of something as deeply set as childhood.