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Wednesday, 6 November 2013

My Platinum Day of Love




We got married in a hurry.
A matrimonial column. A half hour meeting. And we were married
My friends were shocked.
Actually, so was I.
It was only after the wedding that it began to dawn on me that the two of us were as different from each other as chalk and cheese.
I was the dreamy eyed Princess who had never moved house in the twenty five years before I met my Prince Charming and he was the inanely practical Fauji who had been moving all over the country all his life.
I wasn't sure what I liked about him. Actually I wasn't even sure whether I really liked him.
And one year into marriage, when we visited Kolkata from Pune for Durga Pujo I was still actively looking for something in our marriage to fit my romanticized definition of love.
And on that holiday I fell in love.
Not with the man I was now married to - but with a beautiful wind chime.
It was a terracotta wind chime with birds and bells suspended at unequal lengths from a ring above, and it made a lovely tinkling sound in the breeze.
It was charming. It was exquisite. It was just beautiful.
It came into view, hanging tantalizingly in a stall on our left, as the serpentine line we stood in, to get into one of the famed South Kolkata pandals took us around a corner that brought the pandal into view.
I knew as soon as I saw it that I wanted it to hang in my balcony back home in Pune.
I could already imagine the bells tinkling as we sipped our morning coffee.
I jogged my husbands arm and pointed to it eagerly looking up at him waiting to see the joyous look on his face as he let his imagination run wild as I had.
But no.
One foot above me and six feet from ground level my husband's appraising eyes narrowed as he looked at my latest love. Then he pursed his lips, shook his head and said "We can't buy it. It is breakable".
The tinkling in my head turned into a resounding crash.
 I had forgotten that in the year since I had married this Fauji with a transferable job - the world had been distinctly divided into the Breakables and the Unbreakables.
The Unbreakables ruled in our new home.
They were smugly certain of their survival in our black trunks when we moved on posting across the length and breadth of the country without being dependent upon us for buffering and bubble wrapping and their tenacity popped into our heads whenever we looked at anything Breakable.
I disliked the Unbreakables
My heart was always with the Breakables. But I couldn't champion their cause, because my packing and bubble wrapping abilities left much to be desired.
My inabilities in the packing arena had become evident early on in our marriage, when the only wedding gift I had packed to be transported to Pune from Kolkata had arrived there in eight broken pieces.
Sadly I realized there was nothing I could say to convince my husband to buy my lovely breakable wind chime.
The line moved ahead and took me with it.
I looked back at the wind chime with a deep longing in my eyes until it was no longer in sight
The rest of the evening went by in a distracted daze.
My dreams that night were all about the wind chime and I could even hear it tinkling from time to time.
As the first rays of light came in through the window at my bedside the tinkling only got louder
Irritated I opened my eyes to end the dream but it just wouldn't go away.
Even with my eyes wide open in broad daylight the wind chime was all I could see.
I rubbed my eyes.
There was a grinning face that looked familiar in the same frame now. It belonged to my husband.
I sat up with a jump.
"Good choice"said my  husband, jerking his head at the wind chime  now hanging at the window in front of me
"Bbb..but its breakable "I stammered
"I'll pack it when we move" he smiled.
"I have to ensure that that my wife's heart doesn't break right?"He added with a wink.
I smiled - but I could feel tears pricking my eyes.
That was my Platinum Day of Love. The day I discovered ultimate everlasting love in my hastily arranged marriage.
 This incident turned our love that was as breakable as terracotta when we began our journey into "happily ever after" into something as resilient and unbreakable as platinum.
Only a set of matching Platinum bands on both our ring fingers could celebrate that.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

My dream - a more Immune India

A sick child is every parent’s night mare.
I am a parent and I know how often a little running nose, a thermometer that has shown a reading above normal or an upset tummy has brought my beautiful world crumbling down.
In the past seven years – ever since I graduated into a Mom – I have learnt, that the one thing I want most in this world is that my daughter should be healthy and happy. Because, when she is sick - even if it is a minor illness that I know will pass in a day or two – my life turns into a chaotic mess.
And this realization has taught me to value Immunity.
Immunity is an almost magical gift that nature has bestowed upon us.  While we are healthy we don’t really think about all the cells tissues and substances in our body that are fighting against germs 24x7 to keep us safe from infections and diseases. But when you think about the hundreds of millions of germs surrounding us all the time – waiting to attack, and realize how rarely you actually get sick, it is truly amazing and awe inspiring.
My top priority then is - to boost my child’s immunity, so that she is sick less often and my life is not thrown out of gear frequently.
I now understand that there are several things that I can do to create an environment where my child’s immune system can function at its optimal best.
I firmly believe that if every parent commits themselves to boosting their own children’s immunity – we will have a more ‘Immune India’ 

Immunity in children
When a baby is born it already has some immunity in place. Immune substances called antibodies are passed down by the mother to her baby while it is still in the womb to ensure that it is protected from germs when it comes out into the world.
This baseline immunity is further strengthened by more antibodies that are present in breast milk.
These antibodies protect babies until they are about a year old but after that they start waning.
The child’s body then slowly works towards building its own immunity which takes a considerable amount of time.  It is during this time when the immune system is still developing, that children fall sick again and again. 
How can we bestow our children with better immunity?
It is impossible to speed up the development of a child’s immune system, but it is possible to help it to function at its best and that is what every parent should hope to achieve.
Ways to boost a child’s immunity –
1.      Give your child’s immunity a head start by breast feeding
When a child is breastfed for at least six months he becomes less prone to infections and allergies later in life. Colostrum which is the thick golden milk that is produced for the first four or five days after birth, is extremely rich in antibodies and every baby must get this. Breastfeeding for six months ensures that the baby’s immature gut is safe from germs for that period and that his immunity is maintained at a high level until he is able to produce his own immune cells and antibodies.
Creating environments that are conducive to breastfeeding will ensure a much more ‘Immune India’
2.      Tip the balance in your child’s favour by providing a balanced diet
A diet that provides all the nutrients in optimal amounts is vital to keep the immune system functioning at its best. Minerals like zinc and substances like anti oxidants are essential to keep the immune system going. Complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, pulses, unsaturated fats, fresh fruits, green leafy vegetables, nuts and pro-biotics such as curd must be part of your child’s diet.
 If families forgo the comforts of packaged processed foods and champion the cause of eating fresh food cooked we can have a more ‘Immune India’.
3.      Keep every cell in the body happy with hydration

Every cell in the body requires water to function and immune cells are no exception. Water is also needed to wash away accumulated toxins and wastes which do not allow the body to function appropriately and cause a drop in immunity. Children must learn to love drinking water in its colourless odourless and tasteless form.
Rising above the flood of sweetened aerated beverages that are drowning us is the way to a more ‘Immune India’.

4.      Clean up the environment – let the immune system breathe
The cells of the immune system need clean and smoke free air to breathe in. Parents are now acutely aware of the pollutants in the air that their children breathe and in their attempt to minimize exposure to this contaminated air, they lock their children away in air conditioned atmospheres. Air conditioned environments themselves however are health hazards due to air pollution of a different kind. Fresh air in natural surroundings is the only way to keep the immune system healthy.
 Recognizing that flipping a switch to create a clean environment is doing more harm than good, actively working towards creating safe outdoor play areas for children and attempting to reduce our carbon footprint is the way to a more ‘Immune India’.
 Above all endeavouring to reduce children’s exposure to the hazards of passive smoking is the way to a more ‘Immune India’. We need to say ‘No’ to smoking.
5.      Catapult immunity to its pinnacle with physical exercise
The immune system loves regular physical exercise. Exercise increases the number of immune cells and enhances their function. This results in fewer sick spells. Children need all the physical exercise they can get.
Getting ourselves and our children off the couch and out in the open for a little while every day for some physical exercise can go a long way in creating a more ‘Immune India’. 
6.      Help immunity win by dealing stress a killer punch
Children today are stressed about their school work, their extracurricular activities, their looks, their clothes and their possessions and parents constantly add their own stress to all this stress. Stress suppresses the immune system. The fight or flight mechanism triggered by stress leads to high cortisol levels in the blood which suppresses the production of immune cells like T and B cells.
Actively working towards reducing stress in the lives of children and helping them to combat and overcome existing stress is sure to make a more ‘Immune India’

7.      Strengthen immunity – do not sanitize
In their bid to keep away illness it is not uncommon for parents to sanitize the environment that their children live in. However such extreme cleansing is detrimental to a child’s developing immunity. Some exposure to pathogens is essential because minor pathogens that are present all around us serve as the teachers that teach the immune system about the big bad world of pathogens and equip it to combat disease. Overuse of disinfectants in households in the form of floor cleaners or in bathing soaps must be avoided for better immunity.
Embracing cleanliness without an obsession for sterility can create a more ‘Immune India’

8.      Suffer through minor illnesses with a smile – do not misuse drugs
For parents, it is extremely distressing to have a sick child on their hands and resorting to drugs and antibiotics for every little thing is commonplace, especially since most drugs are available over the counter. However, a minor sick spell is like a coaching class for the immune system. When antibiotics are used to cut short the sick spell, it leaves the immune system with half baked knowledge on the basis of which it is unable to combat the same pathogen when it attacks a second time. This results in the child falling prey to the same germ again in a few days.
Resisting the temptation to misuse or overuse drugs can lead to the immune system  graduating with honours and lead to a more ‘Immune India’ .

9.      Wash your hands – give immunity a hand
Hand washing has proved to be the most effective way of preventing illness. It is important to teach children the importance of hand washing and tutor them to follow the right technique to wash hands.
When hands are washed frequently, disease causing organisms will have fewer places to hide in and we will have a more ‘Immune India’

10.  Sleep well to wake up your immune system
Sleep is an essential prerequisite to an optimally functioning body and the immune system is no exception. Sleep deprivation leads to a decrease in production immune cells and immune substances in the body and makes the body more prone to infections. Unfortunately in our media bombarded world, a large number of children are sleep deprived and therefore not as immune competent as they could be.
Ensuring that children get their requisite sleep is a very important step towards boosting immunity and creating a more ‘Immune India’.
11.  Give immunity that magical jab – Vaccinate
Several deadly diseases are now preventable by vaccines. Unfortunately the current lot of parents are not ones who have experienced the scourge of these deadly diseases and a certain amount of callousness has seeped into the vaccination schedules of many children. Every child must be vaccinated according to the prescribed schedule.
Age appropriate vaccination is the way to create a more ‘Immune India’.

We can create a more immune India. It is in our hands. Let us do it.

 Let us join hands to ensure that the germs do not have the last laugh.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Festivals Foodie genes and Kale Chane

My family is a curious mix of Bengalis and Punjabis.
 The Punjabis are arguably more Bengali than the Bengalis and the reverse applies to (some of) the Bengalis.
With an equal mix of both these genes fighting for supremacy in my system, I sometimes find that I am neither.
 Fortunately however, I am married to a Fauji Bengali who is the only thoroughbred Bengali in the family who is worse off than me. He is as un-Bengali as a Bengali can get and is my solace in moments of misgiving.
My Punjabi mother is unidentifiably Bengali.
This may be justifiable and suitably forgivable considering that she has been married to a Bengali for many years now. But my emphatically Punjabi Mami and the rest of her Punjabi family are not so easy to brush off. Having lived in Kolkata for many years now, they outdo us half bred Bengalis at our language, literature, songs and dance. And that is certainly not easy to excuse.
These glaring misdeeds by certain sections of my family fortunately, are easily forgiven and forgotten when we meet at the dining table, thanks to the foodie genes that dominate both sides.
Salivating tongues merge the Punjabis indistinguishably with the Bengalis. The love of Kathi rolls, Tele bhaja (pakodas), Shingara (samosa), Mishti     (mithai), Aloo parathas and Maanh ki Daal and their consequences on our waistlines, unite us seamlessly and irrevocably.
Once a year however this unison is threatened by a festival.
The Autumn Navratri is the acid test of loyalties. The Punjabis fast as the Bengalis feast.
As mantras hammer themselves out in the minds of the devout fasters, the feasters can only hear the loud growling of their stomachs.
Luckily, harmony is just seven days away.
Ashtami restores harmony with dollops of ghee and oil. The gorging feasters unashamedly devour the kale chane, puri and halwa offered by the fasters.
The burps of ecstatic stomachs merge with the audible sighs of relief as the fasters join the feasters in the gastronomical orgy of the devout - called Durga Puja.
Kale Chane
  1. Soak a katori of Kale chane overnight in water. If you are in a hurry like I always am, soak the kale chane in boiling water for at least two hours.
  2. Wash the soaked chane well in at least 3 changes of water
  3. Put the chane in a cooker, cover it with water to submerge, add salt and pressure cook. After the first whistle lower the flame and cook for 30 minutes on lowest flame. Open the cooker when it cools
  4. Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a kadhai
  5. Add a pinch of Hing.
  6. Then add whole jeera and let it sizzle. 
  7. Then add 2 teaspoons of chole masala and fry. Be careful not to burn it
  8. Now add the kale chane with a slotted spoon in order to get just the chane in without the liquid.
  9. Fry this for a bit
  10. Then add the cooking liquid of the chane and boil.
  11. Continue boiling until all the water evaporates.
  12. Sprinkle bhuna jeera powder if you like
  13. Serve with puris. 

Friday, 12 July 2013

Gaffes at a Mumbai Irani Cafe and Dal Ghotala

Gaffes at a Mumbai Irani café and Dal ghotala
In the guerrilla war of the bulge you never know when your diet will be ambushed. There are traps and lairs everywhere and you are ensnared when you are most unprepared.
Two Saturdays ago, on a morning that appeared magically cholesterol free, our diets were accosted once again.  
It was a beautiful day in June and for once, instead of food, we had music on our minds.
We were reverently visiting Furtado’s - the iconic historical music store opposite the Metro cinema in the Dhobi Talao area of South Mumbai.
When we stepped out of the melody steeped environs to meet friends in Navy Nagar for lunch then - we were brimming with music. So satiated was I with my musical encounter that I almost said I didn’t think I could eat lunch.
Fortunately for me however, I swallowed my words just in time.
As we turned the corner a nondescript board made its appearance. And it read ‘Kayani’
Kayani? Kayani!!! Mumbai’s famous hundred year old Irani café – Kayani!!!
I could hear some music again.
The Pianos at Furtados?
 No. This was a familiar rumble and it was moving away from me.
It was coming from under the green T-shirt on the tall man striding away from me. A man I had thought was my dieting ally until a few seconds ago.
I stared disgustedly at the receding green T-shirt on the man I had married twelve years ago. One look at the Kayani signboard and he had turned traitor to our weight watching cause.
So what if he had long legs – I would overtake him!
We raced to the marble stairs of the eatery and then suddenly we could walk no more. The menu in large white lettering on the blue board outside and the sight of the jellies and custards in the display at the entrance made us weak in the knees.
That was when we spotted the knotted blue rope considerately hanging at the entrance.
A hundred years of having weak kneed customers like us had prompted the owners to hang that rope there to help people in predicaments like ours. And that day the rope rescued us. We grabbed it to help ourselves up the stairs.
There was no doubt this place belonged to the previous century. It certainly belonged in the Pre Cholesterol Obsession era.
A hundred or more eggs grinned unabashedly at us as we stood there. The Caramel custards and jellies were a little more covert in flaunting themselves but their inviting looks were unmistakable. As we stood rooted to the spot their cousins – the creamy chicken patties arrived in tray loads and plonked themselves in clear view next to the chicken lollipops and laughingly beckoned us.
There was no escape.
The contemptuous waiter with his knowing smile waved us to the red and white gingham print tablecloth clad table. Perspiring and breathing heavily we collapsed there.
Ch …….ch…….chai?” I queried hesitantly with an apologetic smile.
Haan, haan……. Bun maska chai na?” The generous waiter corrected me irritatedly.
We nodded eagerly in relief. We hadn’t dared to hope for the maska (butter) but what the hell. We had gone back a hundred years in time (the prices on the menu under the glass slab on our table confirmed that) – we needed the calories.
Our waiter disappeared.
Another appeared. We asked for chicken patties. He hung around suggestively with a knowing smile.
“Chicken lollipop, chicken farcha, mutton cutlet, keema ghotala aur eggs akoori bhi le aao” my husband muttered hurriedly in a single breath and ducked under the table in anticipation of a reprimand from the present era.
The tea was tear-jerkingly sweet. The bun had so much butter on it. Everything was deliciously deep fried and egg coated. And to reassure us as we ate the thin wizened owner of Kayani sat in full view at his counter - allowing us to hope that no matter what you ate here, you could still look like him.
Every cell in our bodies protested as we left.
We rode the ten kilometres from Dhobi Talao to Navy Nagar in guilty silence for lunch.
Lunch???????? Oooops!!!!!!
Through lunch our friends gave us looks of confusion and irritation. They complained several times that we looked dazed and distracted. And as the clock struck five they exasperatedly said goodbye.
The taxi driver looked at us for instructions.
Dhobi Talao” we mumbled without meeting his eyes.
Ch……ch…ai?” I muttered again to the same waiter who had served us that morning, looking steadily down at the tablecloth in embarrassment.
Chai, khari, nan, khatai…………..?” he asked scornfully
We nodded quickly.
Aur ek chicken nuggets aur do fish and chips parcel” we added with eager nervous smiles.


Dal ghotala
  1. Measure out a cup of Sabut Masoor Dal.
  2. Wash it and add 5 cups of water to it. Add salt and half a teaspoon of garlic paste.
  3. Close the cooker and heat it on high flame until the first whistle. Then turn down the flame and cook for another twenty minutes.
  4. Turn off the flame and allow the cooker to cool.
  5. Meanwhile cook a packet of frozen seekh Kababs (Chicken, Mutton or Vegetarian as you prefer) as per packet instructions. Actually just microwaving for a minute at maximum power also works.
  6. In a karahi heat two tablespoons of oil. Turn down the flame and add 1 tsp of jeera seeds, 5 cloves of chopped garlic, ¼ tsp of garlic paste, a green chilli and ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder and fry until golden. Be careful otherwise it will burn.
  7. Pour the dal into the karahi and boil well for about 5 minutes. Mash the dal against the sides of the karahi as it boils.
  8. When the dal has attained a smooth consistency add 5 tablespoons of milk and boil some more.
  9. Now cut up the seekh kabab into centimetre wide pieces to get rings.
  10. Add these rings to the dal and boil some more.
  11. Serve hot.
  12. Garnish with sliced onions fried golden brown if you like. 

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Of Swords and Guns and Cheesy Garlic Bread


So the Ram Navami Holiday started with a distinctly worded complaint from the man.
“You never make puris” he said accusingly - wolfing down the puris that had made their way to our house as part of the Kanya Pujan Prasad from an assortment of neighbours.
Now I have to tell you, I am a meek and submissive wife almost all the time. I never object to the racket he creates when he gets up early in the morning to make bed tea. I don’t even murmur when he burns the toast. And I am very accommodating when he leaves a minor job undone from the long to-do list on Sundays.

 But when I am criticised – my hackles rise.

“Watch it Mister” I warned him sternly. “Your bulging midriff and that allegation you just made is the material for a deadly blog post.”

He gave me a wary look and a goofy smile. He apologised for his reckless remark and sang lengthy praises of my cooking abilities.

 I then deigned to forgive and forget.

Ah! The joys of being a blogger………..

Well my blog celebrates its first anniversary this month and I must admit I have found that the pen (the keyboard in my case) is mightier than the sword.

In the eleven years that I have been married, I have often wished for a sword. Unfortunately it is a wish that hasn’t come true and I have never been able to lay my hands on one.
 My friends in the kitchen - the frying pans and the rolling pins have been privy to my yearning as I have muttered and mumbled about the wrongs being heaped on me to them. In their own sweet way they have done their best to make up for the absence of a sword in the house and have allowed me to use them for purposes they were never created for. Unfortunately however they have never been successful in denting the six footer at whom they were hurled (and have often got dented themselves in the bargain).

There is still no sword in the house but my husband claims that there is an AK47 somewhere. He insists that he is often peppered with bullets from it especially when he arrives home late.
 I have spent several hours looking for that gun because it would certainly make up for that sword I have been pining for - but I have never found it.
On the rare occasions when I have subjected my impeccable persona to introspection I have wondered if perhaps the bullets he has been referring to are my words of wisdom that are frequently directed at him.

 Whenever this has happened however, I have noticed that the introspection has suddenly come to an abrupt end.

 Anyway my trustworthy kitchen has finally ended my quest for a weapon. My innocuous cooking blog intended to share shortcut recipes has slowly morphed into the ultimate weapon.

Long live – Shortcut Indian Weekday Cooking!

On my blog's birthday I want to thank all you guys who have been reading my posts over the last year. Many of you have actually followed me as well and that has made me feel fabulous. All you guys who kindly comment on my posts - I really don't know how to thank you enough.
On days when the words dry up and the clock ticks away menacingly trying to pry me away from the key board - it is you guys who keep me going.

The lovely Rajni Sinha has tagged me for the Leibster award. I dont know any German but I Googled the word and discovered that it is an extremely complimentary word and implies 'sweetest kindest endearing and most valued'. Thanks Rajni - that has made me soooooooooooooooooooooooo happy.

Well Rajni tagged me in January but I still haven't got around to tagging anyone else and so I think Ill just let it go now. I'm sorry Rajni its not that I don't value the award but this year has been a little tough on the family and I truly haven't been able to pin down the bloggers I wanted to award. Thanks again.


Here are 11 facts about me - 
  1. I am not even 5 foot tall
  2. I love to live life
  3. Amazingly I love to move cities which I do frequently with my husband who is in a transferable job
  4. I am a 3rd generation doctor in my family and my husband is a 2nd generation one in his.
  5. I am a trained kathak dancer
  6. I love to read
  7. I hate watching television but I like watching movies
  8. I really like driving
  9. I love to cook and entertain
  10. I am passionate about throwing kiddie parties
  11. I love being a practicing doctor but funnily enough I am really enjoying my sabbatical where I am doling out a lot of medical advice anyway
And now to answer Rajni's questions -
  1. My favourite flower is the Sunflower
  2. About my favourite period in History - actually I am really bad with history but I do find the Mughal era fascinating
  3. My favourite woman politician would be the late Mrs Indira Gandhi.
  4. My favourite Indian singer is Sunidhi Chauhan
  5. My favourite Indian sports person is Sachin Tendulkar
  6. My favourite food is Aloo ke pararthe
  7. My favourite book is 'Gone with the wind'
  8. I think I would prefer to listen to the sitar over the violin
  9. My favourite ghazal singer is the late Jagjit Singh
  10. No I don't suffer from stage fright. I love the stage in fact. Public speaking is something that comes naturally to me
  11. Yes I certainly prefer to read the newspaper over watching TV
  12. Yes I think blogging does relieve stress. I think the wonderful people you meet in the virtual world actually relieve your stress. You feel great when you find that the world is still as wonderful as you imagined
Since I am not tagging anyone I am not including any questions.

And Oh! I am almost forgot! Last but certainly not the least I want to thank Indiblogger. Love you guys! you're the best.


Garlic bread with Cheese
I love garlic bread with cheese. Over the years I have tried a lot of recipes for this dish. The results have been great but the procedure has always been too cantankerous for me to handle.
Recently my daughter has decided she likes it too and has requested that it grace one of her snack boxes in school. After the first few times of doing it in an extremely complicated way (and getting really really late) I have figured that this is the method the works the best (and is the quickest).
1.       Buy a loaf of garlic bread. There are ways to make regular bread garlicky by mixing crushed garlic in butter and lathering it on the slices, but that is certainly not for rushed mornings. OK so slice up the loaf. A knife with a serrated edge always makes the cleanest cuts and I love that.
2.       Meanwhile set the oven to the grill mode and set the temperature to a 150°C. The oven is empty at this point. For the uninitiated this is called preheating. Set the timer for ten minutes and let the empty oven heat up.
3.       Now on a small plate sprinkle a little bit of olive oil with a spoon. Let the oil coat the whole base of the plate.
4.       Now pick up each slice of garlic bread and mop up the oil on the plate with one side of the slice. Do this for all the slices.
5.       Once you have oil on your bread, take out a cheese slice or a cheese single. You know the ones available from Brittania and Amul and other brands to put between sandwiches. Take the cheese slice and tear it up into four squares. Put one square each on the oil soaked side of each garlic bread slice.
6.       Wait for the oven to ‘ting’ and tell you that your ten minutes of preheating are over.
7.       Put the slices in a baking dish and pop them into the oven immediately. Once again set the oven in grill mode at 150°C – this time for 5 minutes.
8.       When the oven tings again, take out the bread.
Mmmmmmmm…………….. garlic bread with crisp edges and a soft centre with cheese melted onto it. Heavenly.
I am always tempted to dig in but just in time I remember that I was packing my daughter’s snack box.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Obstinate Taste buds and Tomato chutney

Taste buds have their own personalities. Mine are obstinate spoilt brats.
Parenting them has been an unending rocky ride and the headstrong little monsters are determined not to grow up.
At thirty seven they still insist on continuing their teenage affaire with chocolate and drool shamelessly at long legged French fries. Self control is a distant dream when they see pakodas and parathas and greed is the one truth in their lives when they see ice cream.
As their guardian, who is also answerable to various other parts of the body I often crumble with shame at their appalling behavior  I frequently recite my (now) well rehearsed apologies to my midriff that wordlessly expands another centimeter in response.

It is not often that I chance upon an opportunity to avenge the wrongs heaped upon me and my midriff, but when I do – I grab it with both hands.
 I still revel in the vicarious pleasure that was mine when I broke up my taste bud’s long standing romance with Pepsi.

About twenty years ago my taste buds were madly in love with Pepsi.
 Now I have nothing against Pepsi, but unsurprisingly as I acquired my licence to drink at eighteen - I aspired to graduate to the adult drink.  
My taste buds however still had a lot of growing up to do. With the first sip of alcohol they decided they were having none of it.
My friends with more submissive taste buds succumbed to the magic of the drink. They flew over potholed crowded roads, sang lustily in tuneless voices and danced in abandon despite two left feet. I watched sadly from the sidelines.  
A life devoid of such pleasures was what we were destined for - I regretfully told the other parts of my body. The honour of selflessly and gallantly sacrificing first our livers and then our lives would never be ours I sighed.
I resigned myself to being ruled by Pepsi.

But a coup was brewing that I didn’t know of. Several gastritis episodes later the other organs compelled me to launch an offensive.
They decided on my behalf that henceforth I would only drink water!
I still remember relishing every moment of the shocked dismay of my taste buds at that assault.

Twenty years later, the assault is still on.
My taste buds hate me, but the love from the rest of my body makes up for that.

Tomato chutney

My mom used to make this chutney almost every day when I was little. It was the one thing that made me look forward to meal times at a time when I was fortunate enough to be in the category of poor eaters

1.     Take five large tomatoes and chop them up roughly. The smaller the pieces the faster they cook but anyway if you dislike chopping (like me) just do whatever size you like.
2.     Take a 1cm piece of ginger and peel it. Peeling and chopping ginger is something I abhor and steadfastly avoid but this recipe leaves me no choice. Anyway since I don’t like chopping I crush the ginger in the mortar and pestle. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, give it a solid whack with your rolling pin (belan). That should do it.
3.     Now heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a karahi.
4.     Crumble one whole dry red chilli into the oil
5.     Add the ginger followed almost immediately by the chopped tomatoes. The ginger should fry a bit to give off its pungent taste but it should not get bunt so watch out.
6.     Cook the tomatoes stirring sometimes until they begin to disintegrate.
7.     Add 3 tablespoons of sugar to the tomatoes and mix.
8.     I like my chutney to be slightly watery so I add about half a cup of water to the tomatoes at this point. If you want a thick chutney don’t add water
9.     Cook the mixture for about five minutes by which time the whole thing should begin to look like a jam.
10.                        Cool and serve.

This chutney can be kept in the fridge for upto 5 days but it tastes so good, one invariably falls short of it. If you can keep yourself from counting calories, try eating this with fried papad. It is delicious. I save this indulgence for the Ashtami bhog on Durga puja.