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Sunday, 16 December 2012

A Rocky Honeymoon and a Shortcut Chicken Bake

Every husband unfailingly is an accomplished architect of his wife’s monument of grouses.
My husband is certainly one. He has a large number of such creations to his credit.  Fortunately for him and unfortunately for myself, inundated by the large numbers of such creations – I have lost count.
Not every husband is that lucky however. My Dad certainly isn’t.
My Mom has only one lasting protest to date and it occupies a place of pride in her museum. Forty years later she still lights a lamp to it every wedding anniversary. My Dad knows he will never be forgiven that one grievous offence.
It was an ill timed offence. It happened on their honeymoon when they were on the Scan Tour.
 When I first mentioned the Scan Tour to my own husband he instantly assumed it had something to do with the interpretation of CT Scans. He imagined it would be a heritage walk through a jungle of CT scans and he was instantly hooked. When he found out that it was a tour of the Scandinavian countries of course he instantly acquired partial deafness and I added a storey to my latest magnificent monument of complains.
The straight forward X rays of the seventies fortunately did not have much room for sightseeing. So unlike my prosaic husband, my gynaecologist father remained a poet at heart.
His romantic wedding gift to his bride was a poem. The verse waxed eloquent about how they would now always sip their morning cups of tea together. The poem ended with the surprise he had planned - a trip to a place where the sun did not set.
They landed in Helsinki in Finland.
Early the next morning, they rang for bed tea.
Tea what tea? This was the land of Coffee drinkers. There was no tea here - bed or otherwise.
A chaste Calcuttan who had to be kissed awake every morning by her cup of tea, Mother was scandalised.
The exploration of the new land soon morphed into a quest for the elusive cuppa, as a splitting headache followed her around.
Finally as she relented and sipped the coffee she looked daggers at her new husband. His promises in his elaborate poetry were already coming apart.
Not Sweden, not Denmark, not Finland and not Iceland. No one in the peninsula served tea.
The incident scarred my Mom forever.
She replaced her tea cup with a beer mug.
 She still drinks beer mugs full of tea every morning to make up for the tea she didn’t drink that week.
Happy anniversary Mom and Dad!
Chicken Bake
There is something about December. Maybe it’s the chill in the air (though it is almost imperceptible in Mumbai) but it makes me want to bake. I would gladly join my husband in the category of people who only like to eat bakes but if I did who would bake? So I bake – but of course I cheat there as well.
1.    Open a packet of boneless breast of chicken.
2.    Chop it up into small pieces (as small as you have the patience for – is all I’m going to say). Then wash it well.
3.    Peel a good number of potatoes. I used five. Chop them up as well.
4.    In a pressure cooker, add two tablespoons of oil.
5.    Tip the chopped chicken in and then add some pepper and salt to it. If you like masaledar continental khana go ahead and add some garam masala as well.
6.    The chicken tends to stick to the pan and so you need to stir.
7.    Then tip in the chopped potatoes. Fry for a few seconds and then add about 1 and a half glasses of water. The water should just submerge the potatoes.
8.    Now close the cooker. Give it one whistle at full flame and then another four at minimum flame. Keep the cooker closed for a while even after you turn off the gas.
9.    Now open the cooker and find that the potatoes are over cooked and crumbly. Be cruel just pick up the nearest spatula and murder them. Stab until they turn into a kind of a mash. Since I am taking a shortcut I forgive myself even if the potatoes are not uniformly mashed.
10.                       Now sprinkle two tablespoons of maida over the contents of the cooker and mix it in vigorously.
11.                       Then add half a glass of milk. You will find the mixture coming together and the water disappearing. This is a time to be really cautious so spend those 2-3 minutes stirring.
12.                       Now you should have a gooey mixture. Tip it out into a baking dish. Grease the dish for easy washing later.
13.                       Just before you want to eat it put it into the microwave and microwave on high for 3-5 minutes.
14.                       Aaaaand.........your bake is ready!
15.                       Admittedly it is not golden on the top but to get that golden effect you need to put in butter or cheese. I settle for this version because I am unable to afford a new wardrobe.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Scheming Wives and Deadly Egg Scrambles

The moon I’m certain would be meekly handed over to me by my husband if I were to ask.
Of course there would be some scheming involved - like there was some eleven years ago.
One August day my husband was embarking alone on a fun trip to Kolkata. A blushing bride then, all I diffidently asked my departing husband to bring back with him from there was -the Joy Nagar’er Moa.
This Moa is an exquisite sweet. Made of date jaggery and puffed rice, its existence is a closely guarded secret that only true blue Bengalis know of.  
Classically Fauji, my husband of course is not privy to such secrets. He was delighted at my innocent request. Secretly congratulating himself on finding a bride with such meagre demands he flew away, happy enough to comply.
The suitcase was large and the sweet shops were within easy reach. So the holidaying man decided to pursue the promised gift only on the last day of his weeklong trip.
On the morning of that day, he strode into the nearest shop and nonchalantly asked for the Moa. They politely said it wasn’t ready yet. He missed their amused tones and twinkling eyes as they replied and assumed that the sweet would be prepared a little later in the day.
He made several trips to the neighbouring shops that day, but every time was met with the same answer.
As his train’s departure began looming large, the vision of an innocent young bride waiting hungrily at the other end of the journey began to plague him. The Moa however was nowhere in sight.     
 His brewing tantrum spewed. What was taking them so long he demanded?
The reply was politely Kolkatan. “I sympathise with your desire to please your new wife Moshai,” said the shopkeeper.”Date jaggery unfortunately is not that considerate. It still insists on arriving only in winter. The Moas will be ready only in December”
Going back from his weeklong gastronomic orgy of a holiday empty handed was unthinkable. Desperate measures were called for. The space in the suitcase for the large box of Moa was taken up by a tiny box with a gift that was not subject to climatic disposition.
I loved the little box and its exquisite diamond ring.
Egg and Sausage Scramble
The worst thing about going on vacation, is knowing that one day the good time is definitely going to end.
 Coming back and unlocking the door, opening the windows to let out the musty smell and plonking down on the dusty sofa are visions that plague me on the flight back. Club that with an empty stomach and it makes for a sure shot nightmare.
Then eggs jump in to brighten the scene. I always leave eggs in the fridge and some frozen delights in the freezer before I leave.
1.    Crack and beat as many eggs as you think will be enough. With the voracious egg eaters in my family I never take less than eight.
2.    Add a pinch of salt to the egg. Not too much. You’re going to add more salt to the other ingredients later.
3.     Chop up a few sausages into small pieces. About half of what could be considered bite sized.
4.    Heat oil in a non stick frying pan.
5.    On a regular day when the kitchen is well stocked, fry a chopped onion and a chopped tomato in the oil. In emergencies skip this step.
6.    Add the chopped sausages to the oil and sauté until they are cooked. They swell once they are done.
7.    Sprinkle some salt if you’ve added onions and tomatoes, if not don’t because sausages are salty anyway.
8.    Now add the beaten egg to the pan. Beat while adding otherwise the salt tends to sit in one place.
9.    Once the egg is in - scramble it around in the pan with a spatula for a minute or two. Don’t overdo it – allow the eggs to be fluffy.
10.                     Take the scramble off the fire, toast a few slices of bread (if available) layer the eggs on the toast and take a bite.
A sure shot remedy for the blues!