April 28, 2008

Iruvili Kozhambu

This has been my all-time favorite kozhambu of my mom's. And I have never yearned to learn the secret recipe... Until I became a wife and had to think up of new exciting dishes to make everyday. In my defense, I love cooking and experimenting too... And I asked my mom for it and she gave me the recipe. But having the recipe is an entirely different thing than having the final dish made to perfection. I gave it a shot... and it was almost as good as mommy dearest's. So I thought I would be magnanimous and share this simple yet delectable recipe with you all to lend some difference to your taste buds. Its yumm... This pic here doesn't do any justice to the taste of the dish.. but I thought I'd post one anyways...

So here's what you need - (This recipe is for 4 people... adjust accordingly)

For the aracha vizhudhu or the grinding -
1. 1 teaspoon of white rice
2. 2 teaspoons of channa dal (kadalai paruppu)
3. 1/4 teaspoon of methi seeds (vendhiyam)
4. 4-6 dry red chillis
5. 1/2 cup of powdered coconut
6. 1 spoon of oil to fry 1-5 and 1 spoon more to fry 10.
7. 1 cup of buttermilk
For the kozhambu
8. 2 bowls of tamarind juice from squeezed from tamarind roughly the size of a lemon
9. 1/2 cup of chopped tomatoes/ brinjal/ ladies finger/ use your imagination for the thaan (the veggies that go into it)
For the seasoning
10. 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds (kadugu)
11. A pinch of turmeric
12. A pinch of asfoetida
13. 4-5 curry leaves (kadi patha)
and salt to taste.

So how do you go about it?

1. Fry 1-5 using oil and allow it to cool before grinding it in a mixer using sufficient quantity of water for the mixing.
2. Mix the ground paste in the cup of buttermilk and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, start boiling the tamarind juice with the thaan in it.
4. Once it starts boiling, add the turmeric and the asfoetida and let it boil another few seconds.
5. Add in the ground mixture while stirring and let it boil for just a minute before turning the gas off. Additional boiling may result in curdling of the buttermilk.
6. Fry the mustard seeds and the curry leaves separately and add to the kozhambu.

And serve with steamed rice and beans curry....... Delicious! Thanks Amma.

Back to the Basics

I relapsed into many old habits this weekend... I started watching Hell's Kitchen again (on youtube) and I renewed my pledge to the many free TV show links online... And I also got to conference with my best friends from UC... a 3 continent 2 hour conference that left me with a big smile on my face. I also started soaking in on many other TV shows that I had developed a taste for in my last months in the US... Gossip Girl, How I met your mother and some old ones like House and Grey's Anatomy. So apart from the fact that I was glued to the computer for many reasons like TV shows and IPL, I also got to go out quite a bit. The weather was absolutely brilliant and demanded nothing less.. And I also made adai for the first time from scratch and it was a big hit! All in all... not a bad weekend at all! And this week's a short week... Meaning that we are all off from Thursday.. With a trip to look forward to, the flu getting better, everything promises to be great! Happy week, everyone!

April 24, 2008

Winter Pockets

I have this habit of lapsing into the comfort zone with the winter jackets. I bet I have most of you very confused by now. What I mean is that I tend to dump a lot of my stuff in the usually large pockets of the winter jackets/coats. And because of what they carry, I am reluctant to change jackets till I absolutely need to. Today was one of those days... It was 17 C and sunny and warm and there was no way I could carry off a jacket used for sub-zero temperatures. So I rummaged my closet and pulled out one of my favorite sweaters. But that was the easy part. Then I started emptying the pockets of my erstwhile coat. An assortment of things poured out - coins, ipod, keys, monthly metro card, more loose change, cell phone, bills of a million things bought, grocery list, printout of directions to the post office, student ID card, a pen, and a credit card to name most of them. No wonder the coat weighed a ton and I had assumed it was because of the layers to keep me warm! Gaping at everything, I sorted them out and was left with the tickets, the cell phone and the keys to stuff in my jeans pockets and oh, the ipod. Bulging pockets, a lighter jacket and I was out in the sun to enjoy the brilliant Spring in Paris. Now all I have to do is find dumping ground to lighten my jeans.

April 23, 2008

Amayadha Naal

I am sure most of us have experienced this phenomenon. Its a vague twist of Murphy's Law. You go out shopping.. you have the money, the mood and the time. But nothing fits. Either the color is wrong or the size is wrong or the style is wrong and just about nothing is perfect. SM used to say this back when we were in San Diego that "love didn't happen". That roughly meant that -"Yeah it fits... yeah its ok.. but is it so great that I need to buy it?" Along the way, I noticed another phenomenon - the adaptation to the prices. Noticed how when you check out something in a new place for the first time you almost always never think its priced right? Either its exorbitant (which is my feeling 99% of the time) or its soo inexpensive that its got to be cheap (that's happened a couple of times too, believe it or not!). But eventually as you settle down to a place, you adapt to the price. And so 40€ boots sound perfectly reasonable. That's what happened to me yesterday. It was evening time... I was done with the cooking and I had about 2 hours before the husband returned. What better time than to visit the nearby shopping strip and take a look? So I went. The prices were reasonable.. the choices plenty but NOTHING fit for the exact same reasons I mentioned above. This was the AMAYADHA NAAL( tamil for the day that doesn't fit right). After 2 hours... 8 pairs of boots.. 2 dresses... 3 skirts and 2 tops later, I left the store.. with nothing.

April 21, 2008

My star cricketer

Nope... No one from any team on the IPL or anything. This one's reserved for my all time favorite player in whats called the Barclay's National League. Thats the team that my husband plays for here in the weekends. And they take their cricket pretty seriously. All practice and league games and all... So, this match was taking place a little out of the city and so I wasn't joining him for the game. But it turns out that I should've. S turned out to be the star player of the match! So his team, the Indian team scored 189 in a 30 over match which was a decent total. They were up against the Pakistani team in the league. And the Pakistan team got off to a blitzkreig and scored 97 for no loss at the end of 10 overs. S was keeper last season and I thought he still was... my bad. Turns out he was asked to bowl part-time. And guess what? He had them reduced to 130/4 in 20 overs.. all four wickets to S, all caught in the outfield. What seemed like a walk in the park was a game at hand. However the Pakistani team did manage to scrape a victory.. but my man was Man of Match with figures of 5/18 off 6 overs. And looks like the Indian team has now figured out what needs to be done to overcome their counterparts. Good luck to them. But oh, hey S came home with a souvenier too... the ball that won him those wickets. Here's the jubiliant picture...

Am sooo proud of you, my dear! And next match, I am coming :)

April 18, 2008

Friday Morning Blues

Everyone's heard of Monday Morning Blues... But I think everyone's exaggerating. I think that Friday Morning blues are far harder to get past than the monday counterpart. On Monday, its better if you don't have the blues because you have 5 gruelling days ahead of you whereas its much harder not to have them on Fridays when you know that in afew short hours comes the joy of the weekend. And so, here I am, an hour into work hoping the day just melts away and brings in the ravishing evening ahead. No wonder I am blogging away already...

April 17, 2008

Cooker Thrills

For anyone who hasn't used the traditional Indian pressure cooker, the tragedies of having a malfunctioning one can't mean much. Especially, if you wasted 4kg of your allowed 20kg into carrying this one piece (alright really 3-4 pieces including the gaskets and the whistle n all) of kitchen utility anticipating it to cook all your dals and chawals just the way it should. But tragedy struck pretty early in our relationship, the cooker and mine. For the cooker just didn't know how to whistle. Neither would he whistle (it had to be a he) nor would he give any warning as he gleefully spewed froth from all directions messing up not just my freshly scrubbed gas... but the walls around it and the minuscule cutting area as well. Not just that, he would slop water all down himself and it would hit the hot plate and burn. It was a mess beyond a mess and it warranted the requirement for a neat round of aluminum foil all around it so that the worst case would be that I took off the dirty foil and put in a fresh one. But this never really worked that great for something would happen to jeaporadize it... and I found myself replacing foil after foil. Especially painful coz I would have to cut openings for the hot plates themselves. It was here that I wistfully recollected that P's pressure pan never once gave us trouble back in Cincinnati. Sick and tried of our ever dwindling relationship and with the rice cooker unable to fulfill any other duty than that of cooking rice (hence the name I guess... duh), I complained to my folks that they'd been tricked ino buying a defective cooker. And instead of sending me replacement gaskets/whistles or valves, they prudently sent me a replacement cooker... which arrived yesterday, complete with spare gaskets, whistles and valves. I tried it out immediately and I have never been happier in our association than when he hissed shrilly and burned nothing.

Next experiment: Put in a new valve/whistle/gasket in the old cooker and try to coax him to function just as well. That way I'll be the only person in the whole of Ile de France with 2 functioning pressure cookers (on a person to cooker ratio)

PS: There's a new entry on the other blog. Check it out if you will.

April 15, 2008


Being in Paris and not owning boots seems to be a crime. I have noticed over the past couple of months that everyone (women) and I mean everyone wears boots... With skirts, with jeans, with dresses, with shorts with stockings, without stockings... They are less likely to be wearing a proper jacket/shirt than a pair of boots. They come in all sizes and all lengths and all colours and all sorts of heels with ot without stuff dangling from them. Its fascinating the multipurpose usage that they are put through and finally with the weather warming up a little, I decided I would get myself a pair of boots too that would go fabulously with all my skirts that I soon planned on wearing. But first, I needed to decide what type I was going to get... And hence the bootwatch. I have been observing the women on the street... But the variety is soooo large that all I have been able to decide is that my boots should probably be black (will go with all colors and types of clothes), should not have any heels (flats are the best for your back) and should not be made of leather (poor cows/crocodiles or anything else that they kill to make 'fabric' these days). And I plan on going shopping for them over this week... Of course the main thing I haven't decided is how much of a hole I am going to let this fancy of mine burn my hubby's pocket... Some things are better decided by him I guess. :)

April 13, 2008

My Travel Blog

I just reinaugrated my new travel blog. It has more pictures than any useful information about THIS place maybe because I live here. :D Visit it here. And do let me know what you think about it..

April 10, 2008

French Shopping

One more insight into daily life in this country... So, we've all seen shopping carts in stores...
The French stores have these carts as well.. But most people (me included now), tag along a modification of this cart in varied colors, designs, sizes but quintessentially the same...

These are very handy considering that most people here use the public transportation to get across... Not just that... even when the grocery is a few blocks away, carrying back heavy stuff like water or milk cans can be quite a pain. So instead, people tag these along on their shopping trips and stow away stuff while shopping into it and out for checkout and back in to carry home. It really is handy. At first it sort of felt like everyone was lugging a golf club cart or cricket gear but soon you get used to it and once you've realized its convenience, you know that every household in France probably has one/ two of these. Not just that... its more important coz these carts double up as laundry carts, and as carry-anything-heavy carts. It was of big help when we moved into our apartment last month just from a few blocks up... There was no point in getting a moving truck.

Besides another major motivation is that most stores in Paris at least charge you for a sturdy plastic bag, something of the order of 30 cents. thats not much but it does strike you as ridiculous, doesn't it? So after yesterday when I had paid my 3rd 30 cents of the week to lug back stuff home, I finally had the much-awaited clever idea of stashing away 1-2 of these plastic bags in the bag I carry everyday. Some other stores sell you real sturdy bags but at a higher price... And the fact of the matter is that one never remembers to carry along one of those bags especially on impromptu shopping trips when you most need it. Guess the shopping cart wasn't made without reason, huh? Makes me wonder why such a thing wouldn't flourish in a student locality in places like the US where students can't afford cars or don't want to take taxis for the measliest trips. I for one would've been really happy if this had been an option in the pre-SO-car-days when we had to take taxis from Kroger for every grocery trip... This would've definitely been the practical option. Business ideas, anyone? And if it does start appearing in the US, I claim royalty for having made the suggestion first!!

April 9, 2008

The practical guide to being vegetarian at a French Cafetaria

Carry your own lunch. Just get the bread n extras at the cafetaria. For those who don't understand what am talking about, read this.


I have an ipod shuffle that hubby dearest got me before our wedding. It works for me... I don't see myself watch music videos or any videos at the gym or in transit.. ever. So, this is all I need.. some music in my ears as I hum along, sing along, run along... or whatever. (The husband thinks I should take the PSP - I soooo see myself concentrating on Prince of Persia while train-hopping). In any case, I have noticed a pattern with the ipod... I likely hit FF/Next and jump to the next track on atleast 15 of the 100-odd songs in it. Sometimes its as if the ipod knows.. It plays all those songs I don't want to hear in quick succession. You may ask - why have those songs if you are not going to listen to them... Its a valid question and yet I have no answer... Everytime I repopulate the ipod with songs, invariably I retain most of the unheards as well... I think its a mood-based thing... Like you don't wanna listen to Enigma when you are waiting for the train - time seems to drag (or maybe its just me) and similarly I have explanations like this for every song that I skip. Unbreak my heart makes my mood pensive as does Yevano Oruvan... I can't listen to Say shava shava because its too bric-a-brac - what I mean is that its tune falls into tooo regular a pattern - I know it doesn't make as much sense to anyone but me... Yet I can't bring myself to delete them. And then again, there are those songs which I have heard literally millions of times and still can't bring myself to skip them - most Alaiypayuthey songs are like that. Saaki is like that as is Ipanema. Totally and completely weird, isn't it?

April 7, 2008

The gift

Getting gifts is always fun... Whether just another trinket or something fabulous... I have always loved getting presents... the more surprise in it, the better. So when my hubby called me yesterday and told me we'd gotten a belated wedding present from his friend, he dropped a subtle hint saying - "This will be a big surprise for you." And my overactive imagination prepared an extensive list of things... But nothing had prepared me for what it really was..

I was waiting for him of course with the wifely instinct blended in with excessive proportions of dying curiosity. And when he placed the package in front of me, my mouth literally dropped open. Getting an SLR camera has been in my plans for ageeeeees... and amongst my hubby n I, I am the more camera-crazy one (and the more behind-the-scenes person). That explained why it would be a BIG surprise for me. Of course, for all that wanting the SLR camera bit, I don't know a thing about using it. But thats something I started figuring out last evening.

Praneeth, I truly wanted to write a glowing blog thanking you for this gift.. but I am soo overwhelmed that this is it for now... And I can thank you more by covering you all play cricket... after all a picture is worth a 1000 words. :)

Of snowfall and slipping tongues...

It snowed in Paris!! Here.. check out a shot of the school's railway station...

I thought I'd seen enough snow to last me a lifetime through my three chilly winters at Cincinnati... But I was mistaken. I was unduly thrilled when I threw open the front door this morning and saw a sheet of white over everything around. And the feel of the snow crunching under my shoes was nice as well... Yeah, you probably think I'm crazy. But snow sort of became a part of my life abroad and it was unnatural without it. The air was as always crisp... that goes with the territory when it has snowed and there was no wind... And as usual, I scooped a palmful of fresh snow and compacted it delighting in its texture and showing my husband who no doubt thinks I have lost it (he's already called me to find out if I reached college safely!)

But thats not all... You'd think with snowfall came accidents of people slipping or falling. Only in my case, my tongue totally compensated for me saving grace. In a fantastically good mood for a Monday morning, all thanks to the snow, I was humming to my Ipod and snaking my way through the monday morning rush to the other side of the train station to get on to my second train to get to school. As is customary, I bumped over someone and instead of mumbling "Pardon" or "Desolé", which would've been more appropriate meaning Excuse me or Sorry, I actually said "Merci", which is Thank You. Its probably because Merci sounds like Mercy (in English, sort of like - have mercy) or I don't know what but I reacted off the amusement on the guy's face. And I hastily corrected myself... "I mean sorry.. Pardon." His face cleared a bit and as we hurried up the steps, he said -"Tu parle anglais..." I nodded furiously, "Je parle anglais" I said claiming complete allegiance to the only European language I could. And then I lost sight of him... I suppose it could've been worse.

I leave you with one more shot of this snow all captured by my hubby's compact camera (which I now carry always in case of such emergencies). I bet the people on the street who saw me clicking away probably thought it was my first ever snow sighting. Little do they know....

April 6, 2008

Flash memory

I mean here, a flash of memory... and not the storage device. As is habitual when the hubby is out playing cricket, I do the household chores and watch reruns of some of my favorite shows. After a long long time, I decided to revisit Sex and the City. I didn't so much as watch it as I did relive my Cincinnatian memories with them. It was one of those shows that we caught late at night on Fox19 or WB64 while working on our theses... In fact we had a girls night out with the whole Season 1 on one of my bday weekends. I think another show that was "Roommate Special" was Medium... It took us a couple of episodes to even understand what was about but once we did, we were hooked. Ah... as much as life's taken a turn for the better, I miss my girls!

April 3, 2008


I bet this has happened to most of you if not all... You tend to visit a restaurant/cafe/bar often and after having tried a bunch of stuff(or not), you develop a favorite and knowingly or not end up ordering the same combo day after day... And of course after a while, the waiter/waitress catches on and nods along even before you have completed ordering. Apparently, I develop favorites at most places... I think that has been derived from the fact that being vegetarian gives me few options in other countries and its easy to deveop a favorite among say, 2 choices.

It happened in Subway back in Cinci.. It wasn't the sub that got branded as my taste... But the way I prepared it. For instance, I was probably one-in-a-million who had the weird request of wanting her sub toasted after the veggies were in. After the first few quizzical glances, they started doing it by themselves whenever they saw me. Goldstar Chili was my next joint-of-choice. I used to order the café salad with extra olives and tomatoes and light on cheese. After 3 times, they started making the salad when they saw me in the vicinity. Most of the time, this stuff makes you feel special... like you are their regular and they know that and want to please you. But sometimes, its annoying. I always feel like they think they have me figured out. Now I can't exactly say why that matters to me.

It happened here again. So there's this really handy café downstairs that serves the typical coffees, juices and a bunch of breakfast baked foods apart from sandwiches and salads. Many mornings when I have heroinically skipped breakfast, I find my tummy grumbling in response to the delicious smell of fresh-baked croissants that wafts in to me from the café as I head upstairs to my office. And my order usually goes -"Bonjour... Café Créme Grand la porte et un croissant si'l vous plait" (Goodmorning... A large coffee with milk in a take-away cup and one croissant please). I think it happened fairly enough for her to brand me large-coffee-in-portable-cup-and-croissants-in-the-morning girl. Usually she hears me out even though she knows whats coming and then proceeds to complete my order. Today, she heard me again but she didn't listen. And I said petit - small cup.. But no, there arrived my large steaming cup of coffee and 1 freshly baked croissant. So much for feeling special. Nobody listens. Hmph.

April 2, 2008

Diana - the warrior princess

No no... This isn't a post about how ironical it is that Princess 'Diana was named after the Goddess of War and yet she was the most hunted person on the earth' as quoted by her brother Earl Spencer at her eulogy. Instead its about something far more trivial - PlayStation 3!!

S and I got a PS3 to go with our fabulous TV and we've been hooked ever since. We've been playing this game called 'Drake's Fortune' which for all its dramatic intros and interspersed dialogue boils down to a simple point n shoot with your gun game. It does have splendid graphics though. So all through my free time, I get to hear dialogues like "He's over here" and then bang bang of the guns and a "Son of a bitch.." or a "You've got to be kidding me" as our hero catches sight of the villains he needs to overcome. So to cut a long story short, my overimaginative brain decided to create its own night-time entertainment for me... in my dreams! And so I was Diana, this bimboistically realistic heroine who is hunting for her crown which gives her the authority to rule La-La Land... Whatever! If it wasn't enough that I hear everything through the day... I had to be fighting people all night and assuring my 'subjects' of 'good times to come'. Considering the amount of money that the papparazzi and newspapers have reeled in from the poor Princess Diana, I bet such a game probably exists in some other form in the market. As for me.. I should probably try to read and then fall asleep so that I can fuel my dreams in a different direction.

April 1, 2008

Happy Fool's Day

Here's Orkuts gag on Fool's Day - calling themselves "Yogurt"...

In case you want it see it fresh, log in to your Orkut Page.

Other gags - CNN IBN actually had a totally fake 'Rakhi Sawant assaults reporter' video. It was fake from the first microsecond and anyone who'd not guessed as much has some serious disorder.

Rediff had the headline - "Sorry Ranbir.. But Deepika weds Yuvi" - again it was soooo fake you could smell it. And then there have been the usual Jolie-Pitt wedding rumors. People should grow up and post believable April Fool's gags... Google usually does a great job.. In fact their ever-increasing mailbox storage was introduced 2 years ago on April 1... which led many people to believe that it was joke.. With the storage still increasing, we all know now who the joke's on. They also had a great one on some pigeon-flying search method or something similar...

Check out this year's Google Gag here.

Traditionally though, for me... April Fool's Day in India at least as long as my brother and I were there held the charm of fooling all my really naive family members. Mostly my brother and I would fold an 'Inland' Letter (remember those blue-coloured one and a half page paper which would fold into an envelope and had a printed stamp?) in which we wrote nonsense in Tamil, fold it, stick it and address it to our Chittipatti (Granny's younger sis who lives with us). Then we'd take turns in going out the door and ringing the bell. The other would open it announce loudly, "Babu letter." She'd come over expectantly before we screamed "April Fooooooooool" at her.

Soon, everyone else caught on... making fake calls from the mobile phones to the landlines, saying they cooked something else as opposed to reality and what not, and everything got the April Fool's tag with it. Now I suppose the charm has slightly faded on me... Or I would probably have attempted a gag post on my blog. That would've been fun... Lol.