Thursday, March 24, 2011

Long time no Blog, Belated Holi Hai

The last two weeks have been very happening in both good and bad ways. There is the tragedy in Japan with a nuclear aftermath, the turmoil in Bahrain, Libya, Yemen and Syria, the icy onset of a much awaited spring, the colorful Holi (thankfully the weather was great), and finally today the fall of the Australian cricket team.
For those of you who don't know, I had the most special Holi in a long time this year. I volunteered with two other parents for the Holi celebration in Sanjana's school. We made a little presentation on Holi, told the kids a Holi story, danced to Rang Barse with the kids, snacked on Holi namkeens and jalebi, and finally played Holi with the kids and teachers, and some of the daring parents :)
The school had requested parents to send spare white t-shirts which the kids changed into. Teachers poured out trays of red, yellow and blue hand paint. The weather was warm and sunny so we took the kids to the play area, gave them a little demo of gently smearing hand paint onto each others' clothes, and then it didn't take long for them to figure out how to play Holi and go crazy with the colors. Given that these are very young kids and that not all of them are Indian, I doubt that any of them had ever played Holi before, but they seemed to get it just like pros! The teachers did a great job of keeping the kids from pushing each other or putting color on the face and skin. Some of the parents who came to pick up their kids were fascinated with the colors and joined in the celebration. Such is the joy of colors that they didn't mind getting paint on their regular clothes. I hope they were able to wash it off with ease! Like the other kids, Sanjana was also thrilled, albeit initially confused, about Holi and the color play. The colored T-shirts were sent home as a souvenir of Holi and I hope they will be preserved as works of an art and social studies project! I will surely be preserving the hitherto white Kurta that I got from that day - picture above :)
Its been 6 years since I celebrated Holi at home. It is my favorite festival of all and I feel sad and nostalgic each time that I am not home for Holi. So this year's was a truly special Holi for me in the longest time! Sanjana kept wishing us "Happy Holi" for the next 3 days. She also enjoyed playing with gulaal and roli at home. I hope that others had a wonderful and festive Holi too.
As for food, I have lost track but I can tell you this. On the day of Purnamasi when the moon was the largest in 18 years, a friend of mine had organized Satyanarayan Katha at her house. She made the most delicious chhole, matar paneer, alu gobhi, bundi raita, mixed veg pulao and halwa for 30 people single handedly. Once the katha was over, lunch was served with fresh hot balloons of puri prepared with the help of yours truly taking turns at puri making with some of the other ladies present. We don't have a count of how many puris were made and served but everyone devoured the puris in large numbers! Such is the joy of hot puris (that they didn't mind putting a few extra inches on their bellies - in keeping with the last "such is the joy of colors" sentence!). Apart from the food, the katha and havan had a deep spiritual cleansing effect on me. The Panditji who performed the havan is extremely learned and went into the philosophical aspect of the Satyanarayan Vrat Katha, rather than going over the standard Leelavati, Kalavati and Sut ji Maharaj stories. It was a very interesting experience to understand the deeper meaning of the Katha. (I remember going to a katha at another friend's house where the panditji had got print outs of the katha chapters in English. He distributed the print outs and asked those present to read each chapter out aloud. Which was not bad because everyone felt like a participant in the katha, but seriously, in English?)
As a result of the spiritual awakening I have taken to reading about the Vedas, the Sanatan Dharm (Hinduism)  etc. Perhaps that will be the topic of the next post. And perhaps I will have to expand the scope of this blog to go beyond food.
However, coming back to food, I am utterly bored of daal-roti-sabzi again and experimenting with kadhi-chawal today. Let's see how that goes.
Till then next blog...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tsunami, Earthquake, State of Shock....

I digress from food talk this time when the mind is cluttered with horrific images of devastation in Japan. Cars, ships, houses and other massive structures being engulfed and consumed by the black monster like waters, belittling all things living and all things we consider "big". Making us realize how helpless and insignificant we are in the grand scheme of all that constitutes this universe. As if the tsunami and earthquake were not enough, the nuclear reactors are melting down posing a serious radiation threat to the survivors. There is shortage of food, water, shelter. There are logistical challenges in providing supplies because of the nuclear threat. The death toll is anybody's guess.
The world is sympathizing with the victims and the economists are wondering how does a nation recover from a tragedy of such an epic proportion. And it makes me wonder - what (on earth) is going on? Did we bring this upon ourselves? Is 2012 really inevitable? Can someone tell me if this is the beginning of something bigger? Is this how the existence of civilizations is threatened? That ancient Egypt, South America etc were really once home to a civilization as advanced as ours? My mind is reeling with a ton of thoughts that I'd rather not put to print. Call it an abrupt ending but I think I want to stop writing here. There are no words to express the emotion that you and I are feeling and there is no point trying. Let us pray for the victims, and help in any way we can. Insignificant as we are, let still us pray for safety and peace.
As my friend Purvi pointed out in her comments to this entry, let us learn from the Japanese to be graceful and dignified even in the face of disaster. It is worth mentioning and so I am adding this last paragraph after reading the comments.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tarantino inspired Apple Strudel

Over the weekend we saw Inglorious Basterds for the nth time. One of my favorite scenes is the one that takes place in a fancy Paris restaurant. The superficially elegant Nazi Colonel  Hans Landa interviews Shoshana about her background, the theater she owns etc in light of the Fuerher's plans to attend a movie premier in her theater. He is not aware that she is the same girl who had fled from him a four years ago when he ruthlessly assassinated the rest of her family in suburban France. During the scene, he orders an apple strudel, telling her its the best in town. Once the strudel arrives, he says - Ah, I forgot to order the cream. She begins to start eating. He stops her with a smile - wait for the cream. Cream arrives. Close up of crispy flaky strudel. Close up of deliciously swirled layers of fresh cream. Dollops of fresh cream served with a silver teaspoon. Close up of Shoshana cutting a piece of strudel with a knife, scooping some of that mmmmmmmmm cream on it, and finally savoring it. "Verdict?" he asks. She nods her head in approval.
The scene is a work of art. And the strudel close ups are just tantalizing!!!
Sigh....What I would do to sit in an upscale setting like that and devour a crispy strudel served with that yummmmmmm cream. That scene is the best scene in the great movie. Its the best food porn ever made.
So inspired by the strudel scene, I picked up a pack of 6 Pillsbury Toaster strudels (frozen of course), which came with 6 tiny sachets of cream, on my weekend grocery trip.
The strudels were toasted and served for breakfast on Tuesday with thawed cream from the sachets. Doesn't come anywhere close to the original of course but that's the closest I could get to fulfilling the desire to dine on a strudel.
Meals for the rest of the week have been quite uneventful, but just to write them down -
Tuesday lunch - Alu matar, roti and rice
Tuesday dinner - Daal, rice and alu beans which got burnt and wasn't highly palatable.
Wed lunch - Pret a Manger Chicken wrap, quite good.
Wed dinner - I was too bored with daal so I made a soup, knorr sweet corn soup mixed with daal, and skipped rotis.
Today lunch - Korean Ramen soup
dinner - Alu-capsicum-matar, daal etc.
Sanjana is recovering from her flu and is back to having full meals for the past two days too.

Before I sign out, if you haven't watched Inglorious Basterds you should watch it. Not as gory as the other QT movies, and quite entertaining too.

Also, the picture above is not something I took, I am not trying to violate any copyright laws here and would like to give credit to whoever it may be that shot it, and whoever posted it on the internet.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Monday - march 7

nothing fancy - stayed home as little one has flu. The only thing she consumed throughout the day was milk, juice, and at one point a bowl of cheerios :(
For us, lunch was daal, alu methi, roti and rice. Dinner was same as lunch, with bhindi made in methi-mirch substituting the alu-methi. Had a minor tiff with hubby cos I didn't make rice for dinner cos there's always some left over and I can NOT keep storing katoris after katoris of bird meal sized rice leftovers! So I let him huff and puff - which didn't last long because he didn't stand a chance against my very rational and reasonable arguing. LOL.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Weekend - Chinese, Steak, Leftovers

Saturday lunch was purely re-engineered leftover food - alu gobhi leftover spiced up with leftover paneer masala, and parathas made from leftover rotis from Friday.
For dinner I threw in finely chopped onions, beans, carrots and peas in a wok, added some soy cause, vinegar, chilli sauce (from India street) and Ajinomoto (courtesy Susheela), and added some rice to it to prepare a desi style Chinese fried rice meal, served with anda bhurji.
Sunday started with the Ireland-India cricket match served with peas-poha. Since it was a light breakfast, I made a full lunch with fresh daal, rice, rotis and a medley of subzees lying in the fridge - alu from dosa filling, paneer tikka, anda bhurji and cabbage-gobhi-alu sabzi.
For dinner I decided to experiment a little and cooked a juicy piece of steak and baked croissants with a ready to bake Pilsbury dough. I wasn't confident I would be able to consume the steak so I also made mushroom-matar and daal as my Plan B, which is what I ended up having, though hubby did devour a large part of the steak.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Friday evening

As is inevitable in a technology job, a last minute "urgent and critical" task came up which I was involuntarily volunteered for, and didn't feel good about refusing as it was in the interest of the greater good. That was the end of my plans to go out for a free wine tasting event, followed by dinner, with friends in Hoboken.
I was hoping that I would still be done by 9pm and the client that I was doing this for - a billion dollar hedge fund employee - would have a life and not bother to take a status check till the next morning. I was wrong. It turned out that the guy really didn't have a life and was sending emails back and forth till 12am about how disappointed he was with the state of progress and the speed of data retrieval even though he was promised that things would be rosier once the "patch" was applied.
Anyhow, my plans of going out were more or less ruined but the friends we were supposed to go out with ended up coming home to make things better. And they brought a bottle of a 2006 Italian Chianti in tow. Even better!!
At 9:30pm, after one round of wine, I managed to topple the second glass of wine from the side table and spill the liquid all over our precariously configured phone, internet routing Vonage device. Which means that our phone no longer works and wifi was temporarily disabled. However at that moment I was thrilled because now I had a very valid reason for not being able to login and requesting the very coworker who dropped the Friday evening task in my lap to come back, pick it up and nurse it to finish, and that too at a later hour! AH! The sweet buzz of delicious wine complete with the feeling of revenge!
With that done, I could focus on the biggest purpose of life - FOOD! We ordered kolhapuri chicken, handi mutton curry and butter paneer masala from a low budget take-out place called Canteen in Journal Square. I hadn't eaten from there before and I was skeptical about it. The food however was the tastiest Indian food I have had in a long time. Every dish was carefully prepared and had its own distinct flavor, unlike the food from high end places like Raaz and Amiya which all ends up tasting bland and made in the same sauce. And it was very reasonably priced. The whole meal, for 4 people, was under $30!
All in all, it ended up being a pleasant evening.
Saturday morning now, with frozen idli-vada and home-made sambar and chutney was scrumptious as well. The downside to this weekend however is that the little one is down with fever - side effect of the flu shot she got yesterday. She is napping right now and we are hoping that she will recover in a day or two.
Till the next meal! 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cooking chronicle for the past week

Monday - I am blank.cannot remember...i guess it was omelette's for breakfast, lunch was some leftover gobhi alu, dinner was daal and alu spinach.
Tuesday - oatmeal, roti n spinach leftovers for lunch, chinese fried rice and home made gobhi manchurian for dinner.
Wednesday - Shivaratri, suji halwa, salad, puri paneer tikka
Thursday - poha, salad, dosa-sambar
Friday - omelettes again, TBD, dinner in Hoboken

The idea is to avoid plain daal roti types khana and i want to see how far I can go with it. Writing a journal will just help me come back to it for ideas instead of thinking afresh each time. This is solely for my reference but others are welcome to read it. Can't be helped! :)