Monday, September 15, 2014

Everyday Chicken Curry

Awkward moment: When your mom catches you reading the juicy bits of a Harold Robbins novel tucked in your physics text.  Or when your dad finds the wad of love letters to your favourite boy band hidden in the same physics text. Or when they finally understand how to check the browsing history on your computer and realize you weren't using it to study the Higgs particle. And they shout at you, "I was once your age and I know exactly what you are thinking!"

What’s that?! Your world turns upside down. "What do you mean you know what I am thinking? My thoughts are not all that clean. But you are aware of that from the browsing history. Surely, that can't don't mean...that you once had similar thoughts as I do now?"

Ofcourse, you don't say all this aloud because you don't question your parents especially when they are not in the best of moods. But it opens up a whole new world to you. You suddenly consider the possibility that the elders in your family weren't born as adults but went through the same cycle of innocent childhood, rebellious teenage and boring adulthood as you did. They probably ran around in shimi and valli nikar and pulled each other’s pigtails when they were kids. During their teenage, did they worry that their oily face and scary acne would put off their secret crush? Did their hearts skip a beat when they saw Vinodh Khanna fighting the bad guys and Hema Malini doing the Basanti number? And maybe they even failed exams and got mind numbing sermons from their parents! HA! It isn't easy to imagine that the parents who told you that you should be more concerned about a potential life partner's character than his appearance once dismissed a marriage proposal because the guy was a couple of inches shorter than Amitabh Bachchan or the girl was a couple of inches wider around the waist than Rekha

The lesson you learn is that you should never yell at your kids that you know every thought going through their heads. Because they are going to assume that you did every forbidden thing they are experimenting with now and unlike you, they will use this knowledge against you. Instead say that the kids in your day, including you, were just so angelic!

Recently, when my mom made this chicken curry and told me this was the first ever curry she learnt to make after marriage, I was taken by surprise. One, her statement meant that there was a period in her life - the pre marriage era - when she didn't know how to cook. Two, it was funny imagining a younger version of my mom learning to cook to impress my dad. I am sure he was impressed because the curry is a very good one. And frankly, I was once that age and I know he would have been happy with the effort even if the curry was the worst he had ever had.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Mathanga Erissery (Pumpkin Curry from Kerala)

There are very few things I enjoy more than the elaborate Onam Sadhya that is eaten on banana leaves. Nothing beats sitting cross legged on the ground and enjoying five to six servings of rice, each accompanied by different curries, stir fries, steamed vegetables, chutneys, relishes, crisps;  followed by a large selection of payasams or sweets. I guess we are supposed to eat in moderation, but well, Onam comes just once a year and I always take full advantage of the sumptuous spread without a single thought about my poor waist.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Plantain Sweet with Caramelized Coconut

I feel horrified when I see someone shake a bottle of soft drink before opening it. If it is someone I know, I scream and reach the culprit in great leaps and bounds to rescue the bottle, the way a mother would react when she sees her only child balancing himself on the wall of a 20 feet deep well. I mean, everyone knows that once the gas escapes, all that is left of a soft drink is a sugary syrup that is undrinkable. But in its effervescent state, a sip of it moistens the eyes and a glass of it zaps the fatigue away.  And inspite of every evil thing that the world says about aerated drinks, I can't stand to see it wasted.

I feel an almost similar (but not so strong) emotion when people waste the best part of a birthday cake on the each other’s face. I would have my fingers crossed for the corner piece since that has the maximum cream (or mousse or fudge icing or caramel or whatever goodness people put on their cakes) when someone decides to take it off and smear it on everyone around. What a criminal waste!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Bhindi Masala (Okra Curry)

In India, most women go to bed wondering what to cook for the next day's meals. And it is also their first thought as they wake up, long before the sun looks in through their window. Meals have to be healthy and need to satisfy everyone in the family; be it the husband who needs the food to be tasty but not get in the way of his efforts to attain that six pack goal, or the kids who demand a different thing every nano second, or the mother in law who has made it her life's ambition to find fault with everything you do. I would go as far as saying that women think about meals atleast once every six seconds unlike men who are said to think about eh, um, other stuff during this time frame.

As a woman, I can understand your pain even if I don't experience it myself (my mom experiences it for me) and I feel duty bound to give you options when it comes to cooking. And this bhindi masala is a curry that you are going to be super happy about.

For this curry, you need to fry plenty of onions till they are a crispy brown. The okra need be to fried as well till tender. Grind spices together and saute with tomatoes to make a beautiful, red curry paste that is bursting with flavour. Bring the curry to boil, and there you are! You would never have imagined it was possible to make something so good with okra.

Before you go to the recipe, check out the giveaway on my blog over here.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Shahi Paneer


It's been a long time since I blogged, and I would like to thank my millions of considerate readers for not bothering me with emails and comments inquiring about my well being, though I am sure you were worried to tiny bits. 

Inspite of the long break, I have to start my post on a bitter note. All because of the receptionist at my office who refused to lend me a pen that she was idly twiddling about in her fingers. There I was, with a cheque and a deposit envelope from the nearby ATM and all I wanted was a tiny drop of her ink to write down my account number. But madam wasn't in a mood to share. She looked at me as if I had asked to borrow her husband, declared she had only one precious pen and continued twiddling it about with a smug expression that made me want to throw her across the room.

(Deep Breath)

As I walked back to my cubicle to borrow the elusive pen from my neighbor, shock and shame all over my (rather pretty) face, I couldn't help thinking about Karma, the "whatever you give the world comes back to you" thing. In my case, it's what I didn't give that is the root of all my problems. There I was, on a BMTC, laptop bag and fruits of a mindless shopping routine comfortably placed on my lap and the adjacent seat (didn't I say mindless shopping), when a woman asked if she could borrow my pen to sign her bus pass. But I was too lazy to dig it out of my purse. I looked at her with an expression of deep sorrow, declared I didn't have a pen and turned away quickly before she caught my lie. From that day onwards, I have faced a lot of difficulty in getting a pen or any other writing instrument when I needed one. 

I've heard people say Karma gets you for all your good and bad deeds in the next birth. This means that your fortune this birth is based on what you did the last time you were around. But she is giving me instant punishments for my bad deeds in this birth itself. (Yes, Karma is a she! If she had been a he, he would have been too busy watching the Fifa World Cup 2014 to be chasing around people). That, plus the punishments for whatever cruel deeds I may have committed in my last birth, and my shoulders are sagging slightly with whatever burden she dishes out.

But what if we have absolutely no control over what happens to us - in this birth or the next? What if everything is predetermined by a long bearded someone sitting somewhere on the clouds above us? It would mean that I was destined to be refused a pen by the receptionist and it had nothing to do with my act of refusal on the bus which was destiny as well. (It would also be the reason why I don't loose weight. What am I supposed to do if many burgers, fries and pizzas are destined to meet their ends in my mouth?)

Either ways, I feel a strong need to please whoever is in charge (Karma/the bearded gentleman) so that I may have better days (if Karma is charge) or the strength to bear whatever is in store (if it all comes down to fate). So I am giving away my copy of  "I Love Curry" by Anjum Anand . Yes, it is a used copy, but I didn't want to overdo things with a brand new book in case anyone got suspicious of my hidden agenda. The book is a delicious collection of 50 curries and 25 accompanying dishes from India. I have tried a few recipes from this book, such as the mutton roganjosh here, and they are a great mix of tastes to suit all kinds of palette.

That's the book one lucky person will get here. To win, 

1) You must have an Indian shipping address
2) Like my FB page here.
3) & leave a commenton this post!

The results will be announced next month!

Meanwhile, I have a delicious Shahi Paneer recipe for you. As the name suggests, this is a royal dish. But for those of you watching your waistline, I have included a few low fat options.
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