February 28, 2009

A Yummy Apology

Believe it or not… that’s the name of a font. This font in fact– A Yummy Apology.

While I was downloading it, as always my head backtracked to another topic – to actual apologies. The over-abused word, “Sorry” that has now stopped meaning something most of the time. I mean, it simply rolls out of our tongues to explain our actions, be it something as simple as colliding with someone unexpectedly or as big as, well, I couldn’t think of anything.. but you get the point. But here’s the twist in the tale. My thoughts were not about how easy it was getting to apologize… but how easy it was for someone to accept an apology.

As much as I loathe forgiving something, or so I’d like to believe, I accept apologies for simple things very easily. And I have witnessed that I stay pissed at something/someone for very little time for cheesy things like being late or for not calling and after steaming it out a bit with them, I relax and become completely ok. So when the apology finally comes from the person, I am all too happy to say - “Oh that’s alright” and be normal with them henceforth. However it is not that easy with everyone. In the time that I steam, some people stay absolutely calm and leave the steaming for when the apology comes. I don’t know which is worse. On the one hand when you yell away in the beginning, it’s all out in the open, the person you yell at has the time to reflect at it and then get back with a suitable apology. But when the yelling comes when the apology is issued, it ensues further apologies based on successive accusations. And so it seems like the initial apology is not accepted right away. And somehow the makes the apologizer feel like it’s a bigger fault of his/hers than it probably is. It’s a tricky thing, I guess.

On the other hand, certain things are best left uncomplicated. For silly misgivings, the best thing would be to view it in the grand scheme of things and give it the value it deserves. For example, tardiness these days barely evokes anything more than a smart comment from me about how my time is valuable. And that seems to get the job done better than all the yelling that I previously had to resort to. Like I somewhere discovered, simplicity deals with everything the best way that can be dealt. Simple but powerful.

February 27, 2009

Aloo Methi


So once you knew there was methi in the fridge, you knew there was aloo methi on the cards. So here it is… And it’s so simple that I am not going to insult anyone here by posting a recipe. If you do want one, just holler.

Until then, bon appetit!

Time is Galleons!

Note: Title courtesy J.K.Rowling

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a stickler for punctuality. Indeed, pompous as it may sound, I’ve NEVER been late to anything if it was left just to me. Sure, leave it to my friends like VR, and we’ve gotten a one hour window. Sorry VR. But I’ve honestly had more disagreements with most people because I’ve been on time and they haven’t than otherwise. Funnily, though I’ve learned to adjust my expectations of people based on previous statistics, it still doesn’t stop me from keeping time to any place. Take VR again… I know that she’ll be anywhere from 15-45 minutes late to the appointed hour. And I’ll still be there at the hour hoping against hope that she proves herself wrong and shocks me. It’s yet to happen and being continents apart doesn’t help her case. Lol.

As with anything, most people expect from others what they do themselves. Just like a straightforward person would expect frankness from the other person too, a punctual person expects punctuality from the other person. And if you’re anything like me, it irritates the wits out of me if people don’t value my time. And of course they needn’t know that I wouldn’t have anything better to do than the pre-discussed activity. Even still… the least I expect is a phone call giving me a window of anticipation time. Many of my friends find this amusing and in my time at UC, I’ve been asked “What’s the big deal?” a few million times to my snappy retorts to a late-comer. But old habits die hard. Here S and his gang have a habit of sounding eons ahead than they really are. For instance, one would say that they were at the destination train station while in reality they were at their own doorstep locking up. While it took time to adjust, I find it amusing all the same because everyone knows the other isn’t exactly being realistic. And it seems to work for them.

Where time really matters is in a professional environment, I suppose. When you have deadlines to meet, tasks to complete, every minute that you procrastinate or promise to deliver has an impact on the final schedule. Which is why I think it’s just practice that makes perfect and hence keeping time with even your friends can help in doing it where it really matters, right? Some food for thought?

February 26, 2009

Fight or flight?

One of the main things I learned in Biology class when I was in Class XI was about adrenaline and how it makes our brain react. I guess most people know that adrenaline is a chemical released in reaction to extreme situations - like sudden stress/fear/anger/happiness. Briefly, it is kind of surging energy running through your veins accompanied by a pounding heart. And it is the body's internal chemical reaction to deal with the unexpected situation. But the most important thing that I remember from that was how the reaction from this has been characterized as "fight or flight" which helps a person deal with the situation in a manner appropriate to them by releasing enough energy for a short burst for either action. Sorry about the biology lesson. But it occurred to me that we do not always choose the same type of reaction in different situations. But when it comes to the most important ones, the reactions are usually always the same.

I remember a time when I was helping out a co-worker at my part-time job in UC. This guy was on a ladder trying to fix something on the false ceiling while I was right below supposed to hand him the required tools. He lost his balance midway and the ladder started slipping. Instead of running away, which was the sensible thing to do, I plunged forward in an effort to steady the ladder. I don't remember much of the next 5 minutes till today but I can still feel the reverberating of the right side of my skull as he thundered down on me, ladder and all. That was a "fight" reaction. Sense would've been "flight". However on the other hand, in a less precarious situation, if I happened to spot someone with whom the vibes weren't particularly good, I'd choose a "flight" any day. Avoid the conversation instead of facing the unpleasantness. Makes sense? Sometimes it doesn't need to. Some other major "danger" situations where I've chosen the "fight" side is when I used to ride my Scooty around town in Chennai. Many a time I would be tailgated by a huge PTC bus. And I don't know why... instead of letting the bus pass, I would weave through the insane traffic with aplomb, I choose to believe, but sometimes in pretty daunting road traffic conditions. Again, it may not make much sense. But it's a split-second decision. In fact I remember the time when my bro was taking me doubles and crossing a major main road. There were buses coming from both sides towards us and we both started screaming and we barely made it to the other side. Another "fight". Maybe it's because of the age and I suppose these reactions will change over time. But right now, I am a "fight" person. What about you? Fight or flight?

February 25, 2009

Methi Pulao


I got pretty excited when I spotted methi at the Indian store here in Paris and I picked up more than 1 bunch. So in some of these forthcoming food blogs, you are likely to see methi as the key ingredient. I tried this dish today because as always it’s a quick fix and while it’s cooking, I can do other stuff as well. This is my mom’s recipe but pretty similar to any ‘rice dish’ nonetheless.


1. Veggies: Other than the methi (which has got to be thoroughly washed and finely chopped), toss in whatever you can find in your kitchen. I’ve used carrot, peas, onions, tomatoes and potato as part of my whole at-least-5-veggies-per-portion-of-food theory. You can also use a piece of finely chopped ginger and/or 3-4 cloves of garlic minced.
2. Oil
3. Cooked rice – finely separated.
If you get sticky rice often, keep a bit less water and try cooking the rice to get separate grains. The texture of the dish defines it’s taste to a great extent.
3. Seasoning: Mustard seeds, jeera, salt-to-taste
4. For masala (adjust accordingly): Coriander seeds – 1 spoon, jeera – 1 spoon, Cloves –2, Cinnamon – 1” piece, peppercorn –5/6, red chili flakes – 1/8 spoon
5. Garnishing: Washed and chopped coriander leaves.


1. For the masala: Dry roast the ingredients mentioned above and grind into powder without adding any water. Set aside.
2. Cook the rice separately.
3. Meanwhile, add oil in a saucepan and toss in the ingredients in the following order- (a) Mustard-jeera seeds (b) Ginger/Garlic (c ) Onions (d) Tomatoes and (e) methi, carrots, potatoes and anything else.
4. Add a glass of water to the mixture, add salt and then close the lid, turn gas to simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes till the water has been absorbed and the veggies all look cooked.
5. Add 2 spoons of the masala and blend it in.
6. Allow to cool for a bit before adding rice to it, bit by bit while mixing it along with the “gravy”. Take care not to break the rice. The easiest way to do this is to add rice to the mixture in small quantities and stirring with slow and deliberate strokes to mix the rice with the vegetables.
There you go.. you’re all done to decorate it with coriander. Serve with raita/chips/both. What the methi does is to add a very subtle yet distinctive flavor to the whole dish making it a ready hit with anyone who eats it. So, what do you have to lose? Bon appetit!


February 24, 2009

The joy from sharing

People are different in many ways. How they behave, how they talk, walk, blah blue, but of course... But here's an interesting one - The way people deal with joy. Traditionally, though I am a "private" person, I enjoy sharing my source of happiness with my closest friends. That's what makes it finite for me. What I mean by that is that by revealing my source of happiness to my closest gang/family, I have them revel in my success/accomplishment/blah and that's what makes it even more special, in that they validate the event for the huge happening that it is. Take getting accepted into the University of your choice for example. Sure, you don't tell "everyone" till you've gotten your visa and are all set to fly... but you do tell the people that matter. And their encouragement, appreciation and happiness for you is what makes the whole event seem even more special than it already is. It's sort of on the same lines of not saying something unpleasant loud for the fear of realizing that it is true.

However, I've come to realize that many other people deal with their joy in ways different from mine. And I've categorized them as the -
Rooftop Howler - Ava enna paathu sirichutaaa (Alaiypayuthey style... share-the-joy-with-the-rest-of-the-world-and-it-multiplies type)
Cautious Cat - Why tell everyone till everything is settled? (Better-safe-than-sorry type)
Apprehensive Hold-it-all - Not everyone has the best intentions/vibes to you, so why share with anyone just yet? (Share-the-joy-with-others-and-it-divides type)
Worry wart - Everything's going too well to be true. Can tragedy be around the corner?

Interesting, isn't it? I guess it's each person's innate nature to deal with their lives differently and of course we all learn to accept it. The oldest expectation in human nature is perhaps reciprocation. Something along the lines like - I told you all of this, so why can't you tell me the same? Everyone is different and chooses to react to different situations differently from one another. Joy is one of those unexpected things. Happiness is not as easily shared with everyone by all. Of course in my unsolicited opinion, the others are missing out on something. Sharing with the right people does multiply joy. Opinions, anyone?

February 23, 2009

Milagu-Jeera Rasam


Since the husband got the cold, I took my chittipaati’s advice and made some hot milagu-jeera rasam today and once more, what impressed me enough to post it is it’s simplicity. And the aroma and taste are probably really good for the cold-infested person and the pepper clears out the nasal passage. So, it’s really a miracle bowl all at once.


  1. Whole peppercorns (10-15 kernels)
  2. Jeera ( 2 tsps)
  3. Tomatoes (2 – 3 mid-sized coarsely chopped)
  4. Tamarind (small lemon-sized) – enough to squeeze out 2 cups of juice
  5. Rasam powder – 1 spoon
  6. Butter (1/2 tsp)
  7. Seasoning: Mustard seeds, Curry leaves (6-8 washed thoroughly)
  8. Garnishing: 1/2 a sprig of coriander leaves, washed thoroughly
  9. Salt to taste.


  1. In the mixi jar, add all of the peppercorns, the jeera and the cut tomatoes and grind well into a paste. Set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, allow mustard seeds to sputter on 1/2 tsp of heated butter and add the curry leaves to it.
  3. Once the mustard seeds have crackled, add the pulp from the tamarind, roughly equal to 2 cups and allow it to boil.
  4. When it starts boiling, add salt and rasam powder.
  5. Then add the ground paste to it and allow it to reach a boil once more.
  6. Sprinkle fresh coriander over it and take it off the gas…

Serve with steamed rice.

And there you have it.. the perfect comfort meal. This blend of spices lends a fantastic aroma which in itself acts as a blocked-air-passage-repellant, if you know what I mean. And though the steps seem plenty, it takes under 20 minutes over all. As always, give it a shot. Bon appetit!

Shaan of India - Rahman

Of course all of us Indians just knew that Rahman would win at the Oscars.. so it was just an acknowledgment of the joy when the validation came from the international society and the world-acclaimed highest accolade for excellence in the Cine industry. Here are some news items on the victory of Rahman (2 Oscars) and overall of Slumdog Millionaire (8 Oscars).



And of course those of us who've heard Rahman before know that Slumdog isn't his best and his best will keep getting better by the day. I mean, we are talking about the man who scored Roja in his debut. He is not an ordinary composer and if the International society thinks he got lucky or any of that, it's just the opposite. They got lucky to hear a bit of what he's capable of and surely, they're back for seconds, thirds and what not. He's made us truly proud. But like I said, we've already been there. So, it's not a surprise that no Indian who's heard Rahman's music is surprised at his winning. Go Rahman... you make us proud every moment of every day we hear you!

February 22, 2009

Who’s Verbose?

When I was in the GRE-learning phase of my life, I wrote a long fictitious story, titled “When sparks fly”. My brother brought over a copy of that book when he visited me in Paris and I only just recently rediscovered it and went back to reading it. Call me a narcissist, but I usually enjoy reading what I write. I am sure that knocks off a few points from my “cool meter” in other people’s eyes but I figure that if I enjoy reading what I write, there’s a better chance that many others will too. Anyhow, when I read that book, I realized that back then I was prone to using “big” words. And it was sort of in keeping with my attempt to remember all the new words from the Barron’s wordlists. And I was using them in a lot of unnecessary places. Like using crapulence instead of hangover. I suppose I subconsciously took a leaf off Erich Segal’s book, “The Class”. When I first read it when I was in the 10th grade or something and I had to sit with a dictionary to understand a lot of words. Recently I read it again… and though the words were mature they didn’t quite require referencing. And so in my book, I’d gotten the concept wrong - I wasn’t using the words because I liked them, because I thought they were appropriate or because they just felt right… Instead, I was using them because they were fancy and they boasted my vocabulary. Over the years though, I’ve learnt that a simple prose is a clean prose and that there’s no need to be excessively verbose. It makes sense to use one or two big words here and there, sprayed tastefully perhaps… but to have an avalanche of them is so unnecessary. And deliberate.

I have been reading a few blogs over the past many days (not the same ones all the time) and I’ve noticed that a lot of people resort to using “big” words. And because I don’t know any of the bloggers personally, I cannot comment if their style is original or a very fake and deliberate attempt to ramp things up. For instance, I read some blog where a dude described his very personal experience of his first kiss. And he’d written it like a Mills n Boons novel. It icked me out.The other thing is that I believe it shows if you are natural at using these words or if you’re trying too hard. It somehow comes through from beneath the whole write-up. And none of the most famous and popular writers had to resort to using the big stuff just to get noticed. So why should anyone? It’s down to each one’s personal style I suppose. And the freedom of “press”, blah blah. But that also means, I get to bitch on my blog, don’t I?

February 21, 2009


I am usually very careful about things in general. And there's a definite method to my madness. My shelves/room/offices have always been messy but never dirty. And I hate it when someone tries to arrange my mess for me. I can find things easier in my mess than when it's organized according to someone else's vision. And so even when back in India, when my chittipaati tirelessly offered to arrange my bookshelf, I've vehemently turned it down each time. Sometimes though, because she ran out of other things to organize, she'd try to make sense of my bookshelf, missing the key point in it - to keep the titles visible. She would stack my books one upon the other, page-side-front while stacking the spines against the wall. Consequently it was hard to make out which book was which. I did appreciate her efforts, even though I took the first opportunity to revert it. Recently though I've been losing stuff. And if that means, I actually look for it, it means it was valuable enough. And the curse for me has been my earrings. And typically I lose 1 of the pair. I received a pretty pair of gold earrings as a wedding present from a dear friend... and I wore them to UK. Sure enough, I lost one in a friend's car I assumed. But they never found it. The other time was when I went to Rome this time. Another one of one of my favourite pairs vanished. And this one on the plane or while getting into it. Talk about bad luck. And these are not one of those places that I am likely to ever locate them again. I know that my messy organization had nothing to do with losing stuff. But sometimes you know when you are looking for something, you end up finding something else that you were looking for once upon a time. Sadly, that's not going to happen this time. And the only change that I've made in my pattern is never to buy the U-shaped, rubber-stopperless earrings which have a way of falling off... and they're usually so light that you don't notice one of them is gone till you catch your own reflection somewhere or someone tells you so. Hmph.

February 19, 2009

The Unlikely Confidant

As a person, I find that I take an instant shine to many people and learn to trust them instinctively, which is quite unlike any true Scorpion. However, true to my nature, I find that I can talk on and on endlessly on topics that are of intellectual/worldy interest to me but not necessarily of personal nature. In fact it takes me a while to confide anything remotely personal to anyone even when they are very close. Of course a select few make it all the way and they hold many keys to my many inner thoughts. But surprisingly so do a few others that aren't immediately apparent in the "super-close" category. They're in attendance by absence. Through the different phases of my life, I have trusted a select few individuals to my deepest and darkest secrets, so-to-speak. I suppose that the key to that is that they're not immediately identifiable to anyone as my specially-recruited confidant(es). And they are on a special level of connection with me and they know it and that's what completes the bond of trust. Perhaps the most important reason that they were bestowed (read cursed) with knowledge of my inner-most thoughts is that I don't expect any judgment from them. And this is the most important thing to me. My closest friends are capable of judging me.. of pointing out instances where I've erred in the past and of basically muddling my original views. Which I appreciate and expect in them. But this is also why I need these other people in my life. To talk to freely... to expect them just to be a sounding board of sorts and directly reflect at me with objectivity. Ironically, these people know me best. They are the unlikely people to hear first of anything of a very personal nature and I use them to decide if I want to share the thoughts with even the bestest of my friends. Of course they all hear of it ultimately... but only when I am finally comfortable talking about it and probably not while it's happening.

The reason I suddenly thought of this is because of this - Throughout our lives we tout so many people as our "best friends" and for many good reasons, they are. My best buds are the ones I would want to hang out with at any given point in time. I also realized that I probably don't openly give out the importance of these other people in my life. That's what keeps them special I suppose. And their presence in my life is as important as is restricted. And all this made me wonder if it was just me... with these different categories of "close friends". Or is there anyone out there who shares my weird trait? Speak up.

Unrelatedly, Happy Bday AS.

February 18, 2009

Tried my Fried Rice?

Sometimes nothing is more comforting than a one-pot meal. Ask my friends and they'll tell you that all these rice varieties are my specialty. So I thought I'd share this fast fast meal with the sparing few who don't know how to go about it.

1. Cooked rice - Basmati gives the whole dish a special texture and fantastic flavour. But if you don't have it or are not in the mood for it, just cook rice the way you'd normally do unless your 'normally' is soggy.
2. Veggies - use your imagination once more! Here I've used diced onions, brinjals, red capsicum, peas, beans and radish, yes, radish. It lends an unparalleled taste to the whole dish. Give it a try! Of course you could use just about anything else too - carrots, zuchini, asparagus and what not. That's the best part about this dish - the liberty of ingredients. And that's why this meal for me is almost always a last-minute choice.
3. Oil
4. Mustard seeds and jeera seeds, salt, red chilli powder for seasoning, and coriander leaves for the garnishing.

1. As simple as can be! Heat a spoon of oil in a pan and allow crackling of mustard-jeera seeds. (If you want, you can add garlic, green chilli at this step. I wasn't in the garlicky mood today n hence skipped it).
2. Once the seeds sputter, add the veggies in this order - onions first, red capsicum and beans next, radish-brinjals and peas last. Add salt and simmer at medium-high with the lid closed for 5-7 minutes till the veggies become all lack-lustre indicating they've cooked.
3. Add the red chilli powder to taste. You can add turmeric if you want a yellowish hue to your rice.
4. Once the veggies are done, add the rice little by little while making sure to blend it in with the veggies as you go along. And this works best when the rice is separate-separate (udhiri udhiri). Garnish with washed, chopped coriander leaves.

And voilà! It's simple... easy to cook (less than 20 minutes overall once you have your veggies ready - shortcut method: break open a pack of frozen veggies) and absolutely delicious.

Serve with yogurt/potato chips or both. Bon appetit!


The term "housewife" is pretty antediluvian in this 21st century. It was coined ages ago to indicate the female head of the household who basically did just that - managed the household. As essential as this maybe, somewhere along the line, the term sort of transcended into a mildly derogatory one.

Oh, Rakesh's wife doesn't go to work. She's just a housewife. This is one of the examples of it's usage in this connotation. As if it were that easy! Surely, anyone should know that you don't have "go to" work to have work to do. And so the term evolved into the less-offending homemaker. This is an American term which has been adopted in the rest of the world to describe the genre of women who stay at home and manage the household. Who ever thought it was easy to manage a household especially when it involves children is probably nuts. That's a full-time job in itself. The same term when applied to an equivalent man would be a stay-at-home dad and not a househusband. Funny.

These days however, is the age of the superwives. Though no one calls us that. We "go to work" and we do work at home. We have office hours too, but we are also adept at cooking, cleaning, washing, laundry, tidying, managing accounts, shopping for household things, and a multitude of other things. Who knows... maybe some day this term will catch up, something along the lines of Soccer-mom or super-mom

February 17, 2009

Uthappam anyone?

And so there was a craving for this pizza-uthappam or rainbow-uthappam as I call it because of the magnitude of colours it offers. And what was stopping me? Absolutely nothing. And no, MindBlogging hasn't turned into a full-fledged food blog (yet). But it's delightful sharing recipes once in a while (especially when there's a dearth of anything else to post... hehe).

What you need
1. Dosai maavu (usually made by grinding well-soaked rice (parboiled puzhangal arusi is preferred) and urad dal in a 3:1 (little less than 1) ratio and then fermenting it overnight - For softer dosais, add a few seeds of methi(fenugreek/vendhiyam) as well). Keep in mind that the batter needs to be kept out of the fridge at least a couple of hours before you want to make the dosais/uthappams.
2. Veggies for toppings - use your imagination! I've used finely chopped onions, green chillies, tomatoes and grated carrots (it is important to squeeze out the juice so as to not have a messy uthappam). I was out of fresh coriander or that would've made it there too. This is in keeping with my yellow(onions), red (tomatoes n carrots) and green (chillies) balance for a good meal. Lol.
3. Oil
1. Pretty simple. Keep the gas on medium-high for 2-3 minutes with the frying pan on it before pouring the batter on it. It needs to be hot enough to cook it well. So, take a large ladle-full of batter and pour it on the center of your pan. It assumes a naturally circular shape and the big advantage of uthappam as opposed to dosai is that you don't need to spread it. You only need to lightly distribute it into a mildly bigger circle than the one it originally formed. Do this in one quick circular motion.
2. Pour a few drops of oil along the edge of the uthappam and while it cooks, you can leisurely decorate it on one side, sprinkling a bit of each of your toppings.
3. Once the sides turn crisp clearly indicating that the bottom has cooked, you are going to have to flip it over. It may seem tricky to do it without spilling your toppings. But with some experience/or two spoons, you should manage it quite easily. Once it's face-down, press on it a bit with your karandi (ladle) so that it cooks faster and better. It is important for it to cook well because you have raw veggies sitting on top of it.
4. It's probably ready in 2-3 minutes. Flip it over once more to make sure. All the veggies must be toasted (as on the pic above) and nothing should be sticking to the pan.
PS: For the health-conscious, the little glistening drops along the periphery aren't of oil, but of precipitation from the heat on the pan. :D
Serve with sambar/chutney/pickle/plain old curd or eat it by itself. It makes for a delectable supper. Bon appetit!

February 16, 2009

Winter special - Piping Chole

With the cold weather, our mouths crave piping hot food, both heat-wise and spice-wise. So this is what was cooking in J's kitchen today. Chole!

Traditionally, chole is a bit of a dry dish. But today we were pairing it up with jeera rice and so it had to be a bit of a gravy. The colour and texture are richer than the camera afforded at this late hour. And according to me, there is a world of difference between Channa masala and Chole. If you're interested in this chole recipe, read forward.

1. 2-3 pods of garlic, finely minced
2. 4 green chilis, finely chopped
3. 3 medium-sized onions
4. 2 medium-sized tomatoes
5. 1 medium-sized potato, boiled
5. Grape-sized tamarind piece/piece of lemon
6. 2 bay leaves
7. 1 spoon mustard seeds, 1 spoon jeera seeds, asfoetida, 1/2 spoon red chilli powder and 2 spoons of oil for seasoning
8. 1 medium-can of chickpeas
9. Finely chopped onions and coriander leaves for garnishing.
10. Salt to taste

1. Roughly chop 2 onions and 1 tomato and fry them in 1 spoon of oil in a saucepan. Add salt to taste and 2 cups of water and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes till the raw taste of the onion and tomato are gone. Set aside.
2. In another saucepan, heat 1 spoon of oil and allow the mustard seeds and jeera seeds to crackle.
3. Add asfoetida, bay leaves, garlic and green chillis and cook for a minute.
4. Add the last onion and tomato, finely chopped and simmer along with salt for a few minutes.
5. Add the potato and the chick peas, close the pan, turn the gas to medium-low and allow to cook for a while (~6-8 minutes)
6. Meanwhile, grind the onion-tomato mixture that you set aside into a course gravy.
7. Add this to the contents of the present saucepan and mix it up and cook thoroughly with closed lid.
8. Once the chickpeas have softened considerably, mash about half of them using your ladle to encourage them to blend into the gravy. This makes a lot of difference in the taste and texture for some reason and so don't skip the step.
9. Make pulp off the tamarind and add to the mixture or directly squeeze the juice of half a large le,on into your subji. This adds a very important tangy flavour to the chole which makes it taste very good.
10. Garnish with finely chopped onion and fresh coriander.

Serve with chapathis/puri/ or good old steamed rice. Bon appetit!

February 15, 2009

Winter Blues

Paris had another bout of snow last week. I am about done with winter here. I am told by the Parisiens that this winter's been especially bad. We had a low of -7°C this season and that was the first week of school. The regulars probably remember a complaining post back then too. But seriously... the black ice and slippery roads apart, I have other complaints too. I am bored of my winter wardrobe and of not wearing open-toed sandals/shoes. Yeah these are frivolous issues... but they do exist. The only thing I see myself in is my variety of sweaters, sweatshirts and jackets. And its gotten boring to me more than anyone else. And the cold weather and dreary climate outside have a way of making your spirits gloomier too, brightened only by the occasional hot drink. And that's not sustaining enough. If that's not enough the barren tree branches don't call for any cheer either. The literal bright side of this is that finally the daylight has started extending past 5:30pm. For a period in between, I was leaving home in complete darkness and returning in darkness as well. And the only daylight I caught was outside my cold office's window which was minimally comforting. I guess I didn't complain much about much harsher Cincy winters because I didn't have anywhere to go to. My life was encompassed around the 1km radius of UC and home and that's all I saw. Everyone I knew lived near me and we had a blast in each others well-heated homes n such and barely skipped the UC perimeter. We even saw movies and everything in the big screen of ERC 427. That was life there. Life here has the potential to be a bit more happening. There are places that we'd like to go, things we'd like to do but we find ourselves modifying plans in keeping with the sad weather. The good part is that the lament has struck in the latter part of winter and the snow is slowly melting away to admit Spring. Soon, it'll all change.

February 13, 2009

Love me for ONE day

If you guessed that this post was about Valentine's Day, you're dead on. It's one of those things that you probably frowned upon when you were single. Or if you were anything like us, went out with all your other single friends and had a blast yourselves... or it's one of those things with astronomical proportions, now that you are hitched. What gift to buy your significant other? Is it really required? What if you don't buy him anything as you both had agreed and he surprises you with something? And all those other dimensions in the whole game of sexual politics.

But I find it extremely odd that someone chooses ONE day off 365 to feel loved. As in, every other special day probably directly relates to you (think birthdays, anniversaries) or to your culture/religion (Diwali, Christmas). But this whole Mother's Day, Father's Day, Brother's Day and Valentine's Day business is just that - business. Apparently even in this economic crash, the United States is expected to spend close to $14.7 million (Google News) over gifts/chocolates/candy and what not. And this is what has brought what is predominantly a Western culture thing eastwards to India and other countries. Not that I think you should go boycotting it and massacring people the way Ram Sene is doing in Karnataka. It's people's own decision to celebrate what they want and any political party cannot assume the rights to tell them what they can/cannot celebrate. Many people keep it simple and make reservations for dinner and go out just as a couple. That's fine, considering if you were to dine out on any other day, why not strategically on a world-wide romance day? But the whole "Be my Valentine" thing is overrated, especially if you are in a long-term relationship, like marriage. Wouldn't it make sense to celebrate a more personally special day such as your anniversary, for instance rather than jump the bandwagon with a bunch of romance-crazed teenagers? Small gestures by either of you would normally be considered sweet on any other day... but the reputation of the day somehow demands something bigger. Like, you are hardly likely to consider it a gesture worthy of Valentine's Day if your husband did the laundry/picked up the groceries/washed the car/put in 100€ into your savings account, etc. on this day. On any other day this would've probably meant a lot more. And somehow the expectations of this day are far more personal. And they illogically do not fall into the 'you-love-me' category unless it's especially for you. Be it a card, flowers, candy, jewelry, lingerie or whatever else that it is that people buy these days.

Personally, I think people should opt for the watered-down version. Keep it simple. Do something together that gives you joy, if you feel the need to celebrate the day, that is... Maybe go for a hike, a riverside picnic or maybe just reserve the specialties for your own personal milestone days. Makes it far more special, don't you think, when you are celebrating something that is known just to the two of you, rather than the entire universe... Something to think about.. On that note, advance Happy Valentine's Day :)

February 12, 2009

MindBlogging revamped...

So if you've been wondering where I've been these past 3 days without posting or anything, by now, you must've gotten your answer. Templates are a pain (atleast for me) to change... but yet on some level I enjoy doing it too. And the need arose when I saw a sudden escalation of the number of blogs out there touting the same template as I had been for the past few months... sure, they didn't have my fancy header.. but of course the similarities were very obvious. And so I decided it was time for a change. And voilà... Do drop me a line if you think this change is for the better or for the worse. I appreciate all the feedback from all of you... and I must thank Priya for her role in my HTML lessons.

And I promise to post other stuff soon... Au revoir!

February 9, 2009

Grey Matters

This series of posts is written in collaboration with my mental-twin, Vidhya. We're calling it the VJ Diaries.

As children we are taught how some things are right and some are wrong. It's pretty simple, really. You copy on a test - that's wrong. You report someone who bullied you to the teacher - that's right. Lying is definitely a big resounding wrong. Easy enough, right? Well, at that tender age, probably yes. As we grow up, the matters that concern us are not so simple, nor are the answers to the seemingly simple question - Is that the right thing to do? The motivation behind this post was a recent discussion that we were having. It was based on the movie, A Wednesday. You can read a short review here. At it's core the discussion involved the ending of the movie, as to whether it was 'right' for the police officer to let the civilian who got 4 terrorists killed go scot-free or not. However, the discussion transcended the movie and went on to generic issues as well. On how it was no longer a simple yes or a no answer (black or white) once issues increased in complexity. Take the Mumbai terrorist attacks of 26/11 for example, can one completely answer the basic question of - Should the last remaining terrorist, Kasab, be given a lawyer for defence? The answer to this question is likely to vary with every person that you ask, based on their connection to the Mumbai attacks, based on whether they lost someone they knew in it, based on whether they live/lived in Mumbai, have family there and probably a million other factors. Sure, the textbook answer, if we were still children, would be pretty black n white - Yes, legally he is required to be given a lawyer. It's not that easy when your age and comprehension of matters increase. It all fades into a zone somewhere in between... something grey - an answer with arguments playing on both sides, something that different factions of people will agree/disagree with - the grey area.

In life, you either turn out to be a black n white person or a grey person. Most of us knowingly fit into the grey zone. You are surely 'greyed' if you've ever considered the other side of things in any matter. Killing someone for instance is a crime punishable with death. However what about cases where it was self defense or life long emotional and physical abuse (as shown in the movie "Provoked")... The black n white people would be crystal clear in claiming murder is murder and punishment should be irrespective. However if you contend that circumstances of the crime should be an essential factor in deciding the punishment, you sure as hell are a 'grey' person. And it's far easier to forgive/forget things and view things objectively when you are not at it's core. Take the Mumbai attacks again, it's all faded away in the hearts and minds of many living abroad who've never lived in Mumbai or don't have family there, etc. only because it's hard for them to relate to and not because they don't care. The fire for justice still burns strong in everyone else who's actually more involved in it and that is why so many of us think it's ridiculous for some lawyers to offer to represent the lone remaining terrorist for a 'fair trial'. I bet the family of the terrorist, however against all reason, hope something comes off it and the guy is spared. It's all about perception and the side/faction to which you belong.

The other thing is that obviously the black n white people and the grey people don't see eye to eye on many things. While the grey people realize the fact that most of our decisions and views are colored by our emotions, the black n white people probably (Don Quixote-cally) view everything in terms of logic. Logic. Logic is something that entirely justifies things but can also be just as easily thrown out of the window by any other strong human emotion. That doesn't make logic wrong. It just means that logic has been overpowered and most often, quite involuntarily. How many times have we been caught in a situation of having done something illogical because of love/anger/hate or anything else? Quite a few, I'd bet. Eventually it's upto us to accept that while in life, being black n white would probably make a pretty picture, nothing really is. It's all pretty muddled.. All monochrome n grey.

February 6, 2009


I had the opportunity to catch a live show right here in Paris... and it was a Bollywood show at that. It was a Bollywood musical called "Bharati" featuring an all-Indian cast at a huge auditorium here. The French turned up in thousands to watch and appreciate a show with songs they couldn't identify with. However, the narration was in French and by that Swades uncle (Rahul Vora - who comes as Mohan Bhargava's friend). And he speaks awesome French. Wiki-ing him later revealed that he holds a Master's degree in French. So no wonder. The story is quite cliché in the Bollywood scheme of things. NRI Boy meets village belle. Falls head over heels in love. Dad is strict. Of course there's another contender. But true love prevails. All this told with hit Bollywood numbers amongst which are Silsila ye chahat (Devdas), Bole choodiyan (K3G), Maiya maiya (Guru) and a couple of regional Tamil/Telugu hits as well. The singing was excellent and dancing outstanding. You can read more about the show here -http://www.bharatitheshow.com/music.php. It was excellent overall and what made it more enjoyable was the whole atmosphere. The French people absolutely loved everything. They were very appreciative, applauded like crazy, followed dance steps and even gave a standing ovation. And the girl who played Bharati, Bhavna Pani deserves a special mention. She was mindblowing. The fact that the people around us enjoyed it so much made it easy for us to enjoy it as well. You can catch a few videos on Youtube if you are intrigued. In all, it seemed like a very civilized way to spend an evening in Paris.

Playing Mommy?

I saw a screen t-shirt that someone was wearing yesterday at school. It read "I don't need to have kids. I married one." Yes, it's funny. And I know it's supposed to mean that the person they married is childish. But it also set me thinking on a parallel track. On whether some of the new generation married people had gotten the whole marriage deal right. I, for one think that many women tend to turn their mommy-ing instincts to the wrong object of attention - their husbands. Maybe that's because of the lesser age difference between couples these days as opposed to our previous generations, as SM pointed out. And of course, not being one of them ensures that I can look at it objectively and point out how weird the whole idea is.

Sometimes it's tempting I suppose to tell someone you can, for example your husband to do certain things. And well in the grand scheme of things, you are replacing his mom's role in his life, in that you take care of him now. So it's easy to place a misguided sense of babying on the husband and what's worse is that I've seen some men enjoy it and wrongfully take that to mean that their wife "loves them so much". Don't get me wrong... I love my husband as much as the next girl on the street loves hers, but I don't take it up to me to baby him around. He is free to do what he pleases however and whenever he wants. For instance, although I enjoy eating together with him, my rumbling tummy has sometimes propelled me to the dinner table sooner than him. And I know when he is hungry he'll eat. I don't have to keep going on about it or worse, spoon-feed him. Believe me, I've seen that happen. So what's wrong with that? Many women in the situation, I think want to make sure that they are a stellar wife. While it's easy to understand that urge, it does affect you finally. How? It makes your husband depend on you too much, makes him unwilling to do anything unless exclusively requested or told and anything that remains undone will turn out to be your fault because you did do it sometime in the past. And then throw-in the baby-talk and you have a muddle here. Yes, we all have pet nicknames for the 'significant other'. But does it really have to go- 'Does my honey-bunny need a huggie-buggie?' or something? Sorry if that sounded weird.

I guess it's time for wives to realize that they can be stellar in their "wifely" duties without going overboard. Being attentive is an entirely different thing than being nagging. They can be compassionate without being smothering. And if they are too much 'in-love' to notice it, maybe the husband who no doubt enjoys all the attention for a while should snap out of it and point it out. Think of it this way. As a wife, Mothering may just be smothering.

February 3, 2009

Boot camp

Ever made a choice that you know in your heart is going to bite you in the ass but you still make it anyways hoping against hope that you might just be wrong? I do and I did. I chose fashion over comfort and I promise that it's the last freaking time. I chose to wear boots to our Rome trip rather than my trusty old sneakers. Mind you, these boots were as comfortable as any other pair of shoes that I had on flat terrain. So basically, I chose heels over flats. And that's enough to wreck a good part of a weekend especially if you are trotting around from one attraction to another just coz it seems sooo nearby (while in reality it most certainly is not). Oh and did I mention that Rome doesn't have roads? Instead it has what is called a Viae, which is basically many polished stones laid next to each other and the gaps between them filled with rubble. It's very European and is the predecessor of our modern day tar roads and that means there are a lot of ups and downs on the walkways. So, it's quite a challenge walking without falling with heel boots and add to that the pressure on the soles and heels of your feet. By the end of Day 1, I was sure I was blistering because my feet were pretty darn sore and tender and I would've utterly wasted the Day 2 if I didn't do what was the only sensible thing to do out there. Buy a pair of flats. And that's 15€ that I am never regretting. This one was a perfect decision.

February 2, 2009


We were in Rome this last weekend. And we had a total blast... a cultural lesson in the lap of one of the most ancient and richest empires in the world, Italian food... cappucinos, the works, we had it all. And we drank in the sights, sounds, and smells of the imperial city. Here's one sight, a sight to remember, one of the Seven wonders of the World, the Colosseum.

There's more to come... Enjoy!