January 5, 2011
December 5, 2010
November 30, 2010
1. PhD is time-consuming - Who knew?? But apparently being in the final year can have its toll on personal effects like the blog and such. I vow to bounce back soon!
2. Kindle! - Not so shockingly, every spare moment I have in commute or in transit is spent poring over the contents of some book or the other of over 100 of my favourite books all queued in - give or take a few new ones bought from the Kindle store. So I walk Kindle, I hop and jump Kindle, even. Admittedly its not smart to cross roads engrossed in reading. But stopping short of that, every spare moment is gone in rekindling my passion for non-stop reading! And the delight, oh delight of e-ink cannot so much be stated as experienced!
So enough excuses. I am here to bid adieu to clearly the best month of the year - November!
Lets hope this blog ends this year not with a whimper, but with a bang. Stay tune in December! Happy Holiday season everyone!
November 14, 2010
As always here I am celebrating my birthday on MindBlogging with all of you! For everyone who wished me through every means possible – Email, Facebook, Orkut, GChat, and most of all phone calls, thanks a million! It did make my day further super-ultra-special! You know how I love getting wished and never shy away from reminding everyone who doesn’t want to be reminded either. But so be it! Happy Birthday to me!
S did all he could to lift the day as well. And last evenings’ friends night out was capped at 12am right in the midst of the colourful Opera quartier and was super special too! Thanks S, SA, KB, AB, AI, PA, and RD! And today was a lunch-movie-phone day and I couldn’t have asked for more. But I did get one little extra perk to step up this birthday’s ego. And I have a variety of hints and puns for it.. So here goes.
I am a kindled spirit… pretty easy? Here’s one easier – I have a kindle of joy… well, DUH.. S got me a Kindle for my birthday and really, there couldn’t be a better present! Thanks, S!
I leave you with an image, as always..
And so, Happy Birthday to me once more! Thanks everyone :)
November 12, 2010
November 10, 2010
I wish it were the popular musical/novel to which I was referring to. What I actually mean though is the immensely lousy weather that seems to have descended upon France and decided to wreak havoc in our happily mundane lives. It has rained like there’s no tomorrow over the entire week. And by that I don’t mean a convincing downpour. I mean an annoying in-between thing which is halfway between a drizzle and a downpour. Something with wind and something with wrath. It has torn down 2 umbrellas of mine, has had me soaked on more than 2 occasions and returned my dreaded cold back to me -- something that prompted my first ever doctor visit in a foreign country (yes including my stay in the US). Add to that we had visitors over the last 4 days, who I am sure have not left with a happy impression of Paris, thanks to the soggy weather, the chilly winds and early darkness.
Add to that I was in Lille on Monday and yes I brought my readers on MindBlogging a soggy postcard from a rain-filled day. This is the main station at Lille.
Lille, which is predominantly a University town probably has less to offer in terms of sight-seeing and such. It only boasts of modest sights like a church and an opera, something you can find in most cities in France. Its popularity stems from its proximity to Belgium and the kinds of beers available there.
But every cloud has a silver lining, right? Ours is a long weekend that’s already begun. Bon weekend!
Has this ever happened to you? You make dosai/idli batter and once you’ve used it a few times for breakfast/lunch/dinner, you’re left with one last bit. An amount that won’t make another filling portion for everybody, is a waste to throw away and cannot be mixed with a new batch of batter. Typically I used to make the 1-2 last dosais and put them in the fridge only to certainly throw them away a couple of days later.
This time I decided I wasn’t going to do that. I decided to try something different – micro dosais or uthappams if you will. And here’s a first look.
Interested? What’re you waiting for? Use up that last bit of batter creatively!
I will leave the toppings bit to each of your creative ideas. Here I’ve gone very plain-jane and I literally used my thaalikara paathram (tadka pan) to make the toppings. I’ve used 1 clove of garlic, 1 green chilli, 1 small onion and 1 small tomato, all chopped and shallow-fried in oil with the usual tempering agents and seasoned with nothing more than salt and turmeric and garnished with chopped coriander. Small is beautiful (excuses!) Once that’s done, it’s just spooning up and serving.
And once you make enough of your micro dosais, plate them up and add the toppings!
Surely people haven’t haven’t given simpler explanations for simpler things? Anyhoo, the reason I shared is just an exciting idea for left-overs. These bite-sized dosais make for great appetizers and even better conversational pieces (try them and you’ll know what I mean). And if your batter is anything like mine, when the end of it is near, it attains this slight tanginess, pulippu, which only adds to its flavour and taste.
On the other hand, you could also try something innovative like making these little things and making bits of them and try a dish akin to idli upma but only call it dosai upma instead; Because the sizes are little and both sides cook so well, there is no reason that this shouldn’t work! In which case, all you have to do is instead of add the “topping” you made, mix in the bits of dosais to the topping material in the skillet it cooks in. Another breakfast idea!
I leave you with one last look from the Nanoscientist in me – Micro dosais! Bon Appetit! Enjoy!
Ever had guests over and looked for some dessert to make.. something that’s easy yet tasty.. subtly sweet yet light… and definitely drool-worthy? Think carrot halwa! Okay, I admit.. shearing the carrots is the least part of the fun. But once you see past that hurdle, you have this really amazing Indian dessert that wows most people with it’s simplicity and okay – cheap shot… but Vitamin A points?
Bah who cares… sometime's you’ve got to indulge! Here’s a look at today’s recipe (made for S’ birthday 2 weeks ago – see this blog)
Okay I admit, that’s the only shot I managed to get before we devoured all that was made. Oops! But here’s what you need to recreate it -
|1. Carrots||8-10 large, peeled and shredded (not too fine, mind you) equal to about 4 cups of diced carrot|
|2. Cashews||a handful, chopped into halves|
|3. Raisins||1 tbsp|
|4. Cardomom||a couple of pods|
|5. Ghee or clarified butter||2 tbsp|
|6. Milk or cream||I prefer using concentrated milk (like milk maid but unsweetened) – 1 cup|
|7. Sugar||1/2 – 1 cup – to taste. I prefer my desserts to be only subtly sweet so I use lesser sugar, but really, it’s upto you.|
1. So simple! In a heavy bottomed pan, melt your butter/heat your ghee.
2. Toss in the carrots and stir well so as to coat the carrots with all the ghee. Lower the flame, stir occasionally so as to not burn the bottom and cook for about 10 minutes till you think the carrots have cooked.
3. They reduce dramatically in volume. So when you think they’re semi-cooked, which should be about 10 minutes on a low flame, add your milk/concentrated milk to allow the carrots to absorb all of the milk. Stir well and cook till the milk has reduced.
4. Add the sugar little by little.. stirring well and tasting occasionally to make sure you stop at the right level.
5. Cook for another 5 minutes and set aside.
6. For the garnishing – In another small vessel, heat a little butter and shallow fry the cashews, raisins and cardomom.
Once they’re done, top them on the carrot halwa. You’re done!
Personally I prefer eating it piping hot. It reminds me of winters in Delhi where street vendors sell street-made fresh carrot halwa topped with mawa and made with red Delhi carrots. And its the perfect antidote to the biting Delhi winters. However S prefers his halwa chilled.
So go and enjoy this versatile dessert any way it makes you happy. Bon Appetit!
PS: You can add mawa to your halwa as well. Mawa is just reduced milk (khoya) used in many Indian sweets to lend them body. You can check it out here. And reduce the quantity of milk accordingly when you mix in your mawa.
November 9, 2010
Anyone hailing from India surely loves veg./egg puffs! It was something available at every bakery in any street corner and perfect to quench the hunger pangs that struck with renewed fervor especially when one crossed by the bakery. That fresh-baked aroma and the convincing crunch of the puff made it an instant favourite with one and all. Fast-forward to France. Sure we have a Hot Breads at Paris and they make excellent Indian baked goods. But lets be practical. Who’s going to go 10km to eat a puff? Well, we might.. if it wasn’t so easy to make them at home! Here’s a first look. I apologize for the poor quality of the photographs. It gets dark very soon these days and I had very less enthusiasm to setup the soft box and such. So I used one of our corner lamps as lighting and hence the unfortunate yellowish hue. The picture below though is from one of our exploits at Cincinnati with making puffs (thanks PT, VV and VR).
Considering I don’t make the pastry sheets and they’re store-bought the entire process of making a filling batch of puffs takes a little over 30 minutes. Which is next to nothing in the grand scheme of things.
If you’re interested, here’s what you need
|For the exterior|
|Store-bought pastry sheets – you can find this in the refrigerated section of your store||1-2 packets, depending on how many puffs you plan to make|
|For the filling|
|1. Onions||1 large, finely chopped|
|2. Potatoes||3-4 medium sized, peeled, boiled and mashed|
|3. Peas||1/2 cup|
|4. Carrots||1 medium-sized, finely chopped and preferably boiled. Hint: Put in the potatoes and carrots together in a pressure cooker to boil.|
|5. Green chillies||2, slit length-wise|
|6. Garlic||2 cloves minced|
|7. Salt||To taste|
|8. Oil||1 tsp|
|9. Turmeric and asfoetida||a pinch each|
1. Set out the pastry sheets by unwrapping them from the package and let them thaw at room temperature while you get the filling ready.
2. For the filling.. use a heavy bottomed pan and heat the oil.
3. Throw in the asfoetida, followed by the green chillies, garlic, onions and the salt. Allow the onions to cook very well on a low flame.
4. Add the potatoes, carrots, peas and turmeric. Stir well and allow it to cook. If it becomes too “hard”, add a little water to make it’s consistency pasty. Think thick and not watery.
5. Once everything’s cooked, give it a taste test to see if you’d like to add anything to this mixture. I like to add a hint of amchur powder (dry mango powder) and jeera powder to it to enhance the taste. Also, 1/4 tsp of sugar gives it an enormous boost.
There.. you’re done with the filling! Set it aside to cool a bit while you work with everything else.
6. Turn on the oven and set it at approximately 180°C.
7. Get a baking tray ready with aluminium foil to protect the bottom. Spray gently with baking spray or coat with a thin layer of oil.
8. Cut squares from your pastry sheets, large enough to fold into triangles reasonably big enough to stuff with the filling you’ve just made. Think 8cm x 8cm types.
9. Fold it into a triangle and seal 1 side by pressing it together. Stuff some filling on inside the pocket you’ve created and then seal the other side. Note: If you let the sheets thaw too much, you might have a hard time holding shape while filling. It’s better to do it when it still hasn’t defrosted entirely.
10. Repeat 9 for as many puffs as you want to make and lay them on the tray. Shove them in the oven for about 10 minutes. This brown ands hardens the “bottom”.
11. Now you’d want to transfer them to a grilling tray so that you get the nice browning lines evenly everywhere. Alternately, you could do the entire thing on the grilling tray. Note: Place the “top” side of the puff face-down on the grilling tray to get those lines. Bake for another 10-12 minutes.
12. And that’s it! Take them out, allow to cool a bit and serve with ketchup, chai or both!
Bon Appetit! Enjoy!
PS: Any of the fillings can be altered to suit your taste. Experiment and enjoy!