Tag Archives: Cooking

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

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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. :)

142: Cheating

23 May

Today I’m cheating, and confessing about doing so. Yesterday was one of the best Mondays I’ve had in a long, long time. The school is at its fractional strength what with all the kids, except the senior students, already off. It was quiet, calm, serene, and it had rained. There was no clamouring, no crowding, no shouting, no hurrying. If this is a blessing, then I feel blessed. I even got to walk back home in a faint drizzle and under an overcast sky; there’s nothing more a Bangalore girl can ask for during a harsh North-Indian summer May Monday.

And then my internet died on me just when I was about to ease into some yoga which I haven’t been able to indulge in for an annoyingly long time. Therefore, out went my yoga and out went any chance I had of blogging as well. So here I am, writing about yesterday, today. And therefore I confess.

Yesterday was meant to be enjoyed in its entirety I presume. So there was some uninterrupted tree and sky-staring time, followed by a long conversation with P which ended a good hour later when her baby had a poop-blast situation. Because A also got back home much later than usual and I had time at hand, I did what most self-respecting domesticated wives do – cook. I made today’s lunch, dinner, and perhaps tomorrow’s breakfast as well, last night. There’s so much food in the fridge, A exclaimed, almost in fright. I’d say there’s no better friend than boxes of fresh home food to tide us through days when the last thing I want to do is cook.

There’s a box of black chana stew, dalia (a savoury broken wheat pilaf), cabbage stir fry (made in a mixed north-indian and south-indian style), mangalorean egg curry, leftover rice, dal, one piece of tandoori chicken, and some other essentials – that’s enough no? :P

134: Sunday Specials

14 May

While I stewed a brilliantly fragrant batch of dal, I hopped in for a leisurely shower (just before the water began to heat up thanks to the mad heatwave we’re undergoing), waltzed out, fried us some papads to go with our rice, dal, and salad meal, and had lunch ready for the two of us. A cooled down our hangout room, drew the blinds, poured us some beer, and had Bahubali 2 ready to watch. Little did I think I’d be watching the movie, forget watching it so soon. But watch it we did. I’ll tell you that I enjoyed both my lunch and the movie, but felt more satisfied by the former, and the experience, than the movie itself. At the risk of the many brickbats that have already flown my way, I am glad to have seen it at home, because it went on for longer than I could sit. As fantastical and intriguing as it was, I switched off periodically, especially when the sfx took over more blatantly than my unimaginative mind could stomach.

We had chilled mangoes to complete the experience, and as if that wasn’t enough, I cut myself whatever leftover banana cake I could, and had that with some ice cream as we closed the movie as well. It’s insanely hot outside, and everything has come to a standstill, including the forest that is growing on my arms and face, because we just can’t. It’s making me eat more, and eat sweeter colder things more. I cannot understand this shift in eating habits, but it has me scared because of just how much junk I’m consuming in the name of “light food”.

We watched planes last evening, once it’d become dark and was okay to step out for a drive. Of course a lot of me was tempted to hang on to a plane and get the hell out of this hell hole to a place where the breeze blows cool air and where the signs of rain really do usher in some rain and respite. I am not complaining, as much as I am lamenting the ghastliness that is this furnace we’re living in. And to think it hasn’t rained yet.

But I’m not letting this take away the specialness of my Sunday. Not now at least.

81: Two Steps Ahead

22 Mar

Today is a far cry from what most days generally feel like. When I’m not swamped in thoughts about how to tackle the many things that need doing even if I don’t want to or have to do them, most of the day slips past me till its time to hit the sack and begin all over again. Succumbing to the internally and externally placed pressures was not how I imagined myself to arise from these ashes, so to speak. In my head, everything was sorted, compartmentalized, and even dealt with with some amount of calmness and a great amount of self-efficacy. I’d even bought a planner for myself with inspirational quotes splashed all over it for added effect, not that my mind’s plans needed extra frills to feel productive or motivated.

But that’s the difference between figuring out things from afar and actually diving headlong into them. A week into the work scenario, this time armed with additional responsibilities and duties, juggling them all became more overwhelming than I’d fathomed. How do women around me do it, I’d ask myself repeatedly. What’s their magic mantra? Most often I’d find the spirit to drown my fears by seeking inspiration from living examples all around me, sometimes I’d give in and just sleep.

It’s now been three weeks since I started work, which hasn’t even begun in full-swing yet, and here’s what I’ve learnt so far:

Don’t think too much.

Don’t take on too much.

Too much does not mean too much.

Also, no one cares about how much.

Planning works.

Planning ahead with lists works even better.

Creating mental menus for the week is a God send.

Working for today and tomorrow is the way to go sometimes.

Stop caring obsessively.

Stay two steps ahead.

And while you’re at it, get some or a lot of sleep, if you can.

*******

It all looked easier than it was, when I put this in practice. Planning and preparing two three meals ahead in time was more mentally strenuous than physically; because as it turns out, if you’ve got everything in place, 3/4th of your work is done. The hardest times are those when I’ve no idea what to make – for our upcoming dinner, for breakfast and lunch the next day.

Besides, getting myself to not care or obsess or just stop was harder still.

But each passing week seems to give me a little more space to gain some footing.

I’ve got three meals, two snacks and one class prepared for before 5pm; which makes me feel like a queen, I’ll tell you.

It helps to give time and experience the advantage.

And it also helps heaps to just be two steps ahead for anything and everything, in general. :)

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. 

14: Saturday Wins

15 Jan

See, I was supposed to come here and write yesterday, except that when it’s the weekend, things don’t necessarily go as per your weekday routine or schedule. Let me rephrase that to this: weekends never ever follow your weekday schedule. But of course you knew this rule of thumb, I needn’t have had to state it. Haha!

Yesterday saw wins on so many fronts:

I made dosa batter from scratch for the first time in my life, and finally, after over 24 hours of resting, for it to ferment, it was ready at the ripe time of Saturday morning. We had dosas and chutney, and there’s nothing more comforting to me than a good, crispy dosa. I’d say that I’ve a long way to go on this batter front because it wasn’t perfect – my dosas were a little drier than I’d have liked; but I feel immensely satisfied to have started somewhere and tried.

I then proceeded on to make a comforting batch of chole bhature the way my mom in law makes this dish. Again, this one was a win even though it wasn’t really perfect. I’ve begun to realise that chasing perfection comes only after having tried. Also, that it doesn’t really matter as much.

I watched LOTR 3 (we watched the second part the day after the first one was watched). That’s four hours of straight winning, if you ask me. Four hours for a movie is a little too overbearing, and I did wish it’d move faster at many points, but that the main purpose of the plot was met, made me feel better than worse. While I’m not a fan, I’m thankful to have my knowledge base expanded…in that if I ever have guinea pigs again, I’d name one Sam, and the other Frodo, that’s for sure.

While we were in the middle of the movie, and a little after we’d had lunch, the two of us stuffed our faces with some leftover cold pizza. If gluttony was an experience, that would be it a 100%.

And then we went out for drinks for the very first time this year; just the two of us.

I think the day can easily be summed up in two words – couch potato-ing.

So there wasn’t really any time to dedicate to writing, as much as I would’ve loved to. But no regrets, and no regrets at all. :)

So Far

9 May

Seldom is my conscience forgiving or even kind to me on my rather long (and unnecessary) absences from my blog. This sheer lack of discipline time and again makes me feel silly and completely incapable of achieving even the simplest of goals – after all, how hard is it regulate the one thing I love doing into what can only be called a good habit? Maybe it’s the hot weather which makes everything feel so sluggish and energy-consuming or maybe it’s my expert ability at making excuses…who knows when we’ve stooped so far below our own set standards, right? Either way, poking jibes at my already bruised conscience, while annoying but totally unhelpful, seems to make my Superego (happy belated birthday, Mr. Freud!) feel a little more in control and a little better about itself for reasons best left an enigma. Therefore on a day like today, when my thoughts are colliding into each other because my head feels rather full and (very) tired of them, here’s how I’m choosing to spew them out today…spew because my mind feels particularly vengeful about renting these thoughts space for longer than they should’ve stayed in the first place.

  • I’ve no idea why exactly, but I’m back on Facebook. And nothing seems to have changed except that it still feels too noisy for me to be enthusiastic about my return…which makes me feel happy in a way. I’m not sure for how long I’ll stick around it though, especially since nothing really has changed on this forum or in the posts that spam my feed.
  • Given yesterday was Mother’s Day, it was just a matter of time before every single online space was flooded with this sudden outburst of expressions of love and gratitude. Frankly speaking and at the cost of so many brickbats falling my way, I found it rather sickening. I think we will truly ever respect and love a parent when we either are one or when we attempt to become more self-aware about just how much we bestow on them, daily; whichever happens first. To me, it’s like saying thank you, I love you for all the crap we put you through, but hey, you’re my parent and it’s your duty, so here, take some more of my crap starting 00:01 hours after Mother’s Day. It’s rather shameful if you ask me, because you’ll only ever really be thankful when you’re really in the shoes they wear. It just all sounds too patronizing and commercial to me; something which no mother ever wants or needs, really. I’m thinking a clean, sane house with loads of peace would be on top of her list…very far removed from shallow words and fancy flowers or lunches even. As opinionated as this sounds, I can’t help but believe in this and say it over and over again, actually.
  • There’s a newfound respect for Kangana Ranaut who has come so far from when we first saw her and still didn’t know or care to know about her. She’s what a self-assured woman who hasn’t got it all but doesn’t give a shit, looks like. It really is so heartening to see a real life example of these million existential quotes our feeds are jammed with on every single day – someone who is alone yet not lonely, someone who has arrived but has such a long way to go, someone who doesn’t live a reel life in reality and someone who is far from following the herd even if that means taken the road not taken. I love how real she comes across to be which is such a breath of fresh air from the lives of stars we see around us and are somehow fascinated by. But most importantly, I love how faithful and loyal she is to her own self…it really isn’t easy but she seems to do it with great ease and with a history of struggles she neither patronizes nor glorifies, but uses as stepping stones to what lies ahead.
  • The husband and I ended up watching Jungle Book this weekend and while the story feels more grown up than its original, the fact that no rendition will ever match up to the original, stands true; come technology, SFX or whatever else it is that wows audiences today. This one is not a patch on the one we grew up watching.
  • I’ve befriended two dogs in my area and now they sit by my house which makes me feel beyond happy. It’s also very heart-warming to know that my first friends in my neighbourhood were animals and not humans. I call one Potato and the other Susie. Potato is aggressive and is a healthy but lazy canine while Susie has the kindest eyes and is always welcoming of a belly rub (which I haven’t ventured into giving her). I’m taking my time with these two because while Susie is gentler (also what prompted me to call her that), Potato is moody and takes a longer time to show signs of affection, despite the regular egg and meat treats that greet him especially.
  • There are an unusual number of drafts in my folder, all hanging mid-air for reasons one two many. From travelogues to random musings, from food reviews to blatant bantering, there seem to suddenly be too many for my own liking. Perhaps it’s time to set goals and tick them off one at a time…perhaps the key lies in being a little more stern and organised. Who knows?
  • The heat here is unforgiving, as are the dust storms. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether we live on a Rajasthani desert or in a cosmopolitan (haha!) city. Everyone is tired and everyone is sluggish – even the erstwhile restless reptiles who relentlessly find cooler spots to go get stuck in till the heat wave slips away for the day.
  • My neighbourhood, apart from housing many a variety of birds to thousands of stupefied pigeons, also is home to quite a few peacocks who are suddenly resplendent in their new, shiny avatars complete with their royal colours and feathers. Their conferences across roofs and trees makes me feel like I live in a jungle, which is a great feeling, till I open my eyes; sometimes in relief and sometimes in disappointment.

Apart from trying to get some more routine into my life by way of making goals and check-lists, writing here makes me feel more complete and productive as well. There are a string of things to do and complete; chores which have long shot past their due date, which I’ve still left untouched. It’s no wonder that sanity is a hard facet to come by these days, what with so much unfinished business everywhere. Hopefully some order and discipline should help; but in the mean time, there’s a long list of things that just seems too overbearing to even confront.

On a more positive note, I tried my hand (yet again) at making biryani. While the outcome had bags of flavour and looked pretty darn decent, both the husband and I thought it felt more like a chicken pulao of sorts than a biryani. Maybe it’s because I didn’t want it to be overly rich or dripping with oil/ghee which made it a tad bit drier than how a biryani is or maybe some people aren’t cut out to make one which perhaps answers why this second attempt also wasn’t as I wanted it to be. But that’s a battle for another time.

Hot Winters

12 Jan

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I woke up to this one fine morning last week and I was absolutely delighted. The idea of being surrounded by so much visibility-breaking fog was just exciting because I have to admit that this, to me, is the idea of what a north Indian winter looks and feels like. This was at about 8am and while the effect of a blanketed sun can be so saddening, to wake up to this took me back to the winters I’ve grown up in. Of course back then they were less romantic and more arduous what with having to get dressed for school and such at an unearthly time during those frigid morning hours. They say that this has been the country’s hottest winter in a long time and while I’m new to it all over again and while I do still feel quite cold, it is a fact. These foggy mornings are tales of mid-December onward; however, we’ve seen just one such instance so far and that too in January. While I’m a tad sad about this lost foggy winter, I’m ever so thankful that it hasn’t been as harsh to this newcomer. I hear it rains during January and that the sun seldom shows up. But let’s not think about these unwelcome things right now and focus on happier ones.

Of course the moment I stepped out and saw all this fog, I also ran around the place to try and get pictures of just how beautiful it looked. It’s another thing that I looked completely bonkers in the eyes of my husband and whoever else was sneaking a peek at their weird neighbour going gaga over this cumbersome weather condition. While I wished to have taken a walk and captured this fog at its best, I decided against it because I do love my lungs. This smog in the guise of pretty winter fog isn’t something one wants to voluntarily inhale into their system. Besides, what better an excuse than this to get right back into the arms of a warm quilt and bed, do tell?

Embracing the romantic side of me which surfaces very prominently on the kitchen front, I’ve been taking this winter season business very seriously. Also because it’s not very comforting to have cool, crunchy salads in this weather as say, soothing stews and soups are. I love a good, hearty, healthy meal that makes you feel ensconced in warmth and what I call a mother’s touch…there really is nothing more comforting. And so I’ve been using the weather and these most beautiful winter vegetables as an excuse to go berserk in the kitchen. It’s just so exciting, it’s hard to express otherwise. Here’s one of my absolute favourites that I posted about earlier and one that I can have 987342 times in a day – chicken/veg English stew.

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It has a marketful of vegetables in it, as is visible, along with chicken I’ve added (because I love my husband) and that’s a sight for sore eyes, in my very honest opinion. Dunk chunks of garlic bread in this or have it by itself by the bowlfuls and you’re set.

And then because my husband decided to catch the sniffles and because they say chicken soup is really the best for the soul and all that jazz, here was my next experiment.

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Of course he looked at this and asked if it was for him or me because all he could see were mushrooms – to which I kept a straight face but LOLed so much in my head about. Ah, such fun!

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These colours just make for a very healthy, happy and slurpy meal. And also act as proof of this being more than just a fungi soup. And also makes winter feel a little more energised. Again, it’s a meal that spells ‘add all you want in it’. Speaking of which, I also tried my hand at this:

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It’s a horribly messy and tedious affair especially since it was my first time. I’m not a parantha person at all and now that I live parantha land, it only makes sense to become a little more adaptable to my surroundings. But the comfort of a hot parantha with some butter on top just steals the show for it truly is the capital C in comfort that we all look out for from time to time.

It feels like not just the hottest winter generally but the hottest one in my kitchen so far as well.

Of course it’s another thing that this is my first ever any season in the kitchen. Oh well. :)