February 27, 2010

Baby corn manchurian

I found some baby corn at the Chinese grocery the other day and what better to make than baby-corn manchurian? Here’s a quick look at it -
And what better to eat it with than jeera rice?
Both being very traditional and well-followed recipes, I am not going to bother giving them here. If anyone needs to know, drop me a line… Bon Appétit!

February 24, 2010

The man.. the master.. the legend

This one had to be mentioned. By now, every single Indian in the world must have touted it wherever possible.. the immediate tweets and FB statuses said it all… Sachin Tendulkar, India’s own God of Cricket achieved the impossible – a double century in an ODI (One Day Internationals).

Read all you can read here.

Watch the highlights here.

For this moment in history, let us all take pride in this man.. in this game.. in this achievement. Hail Sachin! Signing off as a proud Indian…….

Does Karma exist?

Note: In this context, I am purely talking about "payback" and not the destiny cycle as defined by Hinduism.

Do you believe in Karma? Like if someone did something wrong, do you believe that eventually, surely it  will bite them in the ass? And even if you believed it, does it make you feel any better about the injustice that was meted out to you? No offense to anyone, but I only believe in Karma to the extent of limiting my own "bad" actions so as to not suffer from something else in the future and then wonder if that "bad deed" was what caused the sufferance in the first place. If only everyone followed this give-and-take policy, people would be erring on the side of caution. As for how it affects other people, I find no solace in consoling myself that they will pay for it, especially while I am nowhere around to witness it. You know what I mean? If someone stole your ideas and profited from it (not too scientific, mind you or on the lines of plagiarism), what good is it going to do you if you believed that he/she will somehow pay for it in the future? And that too after they benefited from your ideas. And it seems much more satisfying to take things in your own hands. And this isn't one of those take-the-law-into-your-hands kind of situations either. This is something personal... something you want to do... something for which laws don't exist.. something that just surpasses the moral boundaries that you've set.. something that is so irritatingly important for you to settle for yourself... something that you owe to yourself... something. Bah, Karma isn't waiting around to redeem you. It's off busy with the bigger bad-doers. So you might as well take this in your hands right? Glad you agree. Only the piece of your mind can bring peace to your mind. Ah wordplay! Time to grab the fictitious bull by the horns.

PS: Any violent actions against anyone/anything are strongly discouraged (unless it's a stress-buster/punching bag, in which case, go for it!!)

February 23, 2010

Save the tigers - PLEASE!

This is an appeal to all of you individually. And if any authority ever comes across this and they should, I wildly hope that this "park" is shut down, the tigers rescued and treated and their dignity, restored. The fate of my favourite animal literally moved me to tears. You can read and see evidence of this ridiculous cruelty here - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1252500/Exposed-Dark-secret-farm-tigers-bodies-plundered-make-185-wine.html. And please, please spread the word.... Blog it, Buzz it, FB it, whatever... The power of the word is greater than we think and it's the absolute least that we can do.

February 22, 2010

The mouthpiece

Are you one of those people who can speak to anyone else, stranger or not, with equal ease? Well, that just makes life simpler, doesn't it? Especially for the people around you. For as long as I can remember, the people in my life have used my unabashed-ness as their tool to information. I have always been the one they ask to call someplace and find some information, be it to check if someone's flight is arriving on time or make reservations at a restaurant. And in fact I was so used to getting on it by myself, that it took me a while to realize that everyone else around me was just as eager to dump the responsibility on me too. I suspect my mom was on the same boat as me. It's all ok now when you are old/young enough to get away with most things you are asking about on the phone. But being a trained "mouthpiece" from very young has it's disastrously comical outcomes. 

I once remember when I was really little, maybe 12, when my brother was back from some eye appointment and it hadn't gone well and he had had some allergic reaction to some drops or something like that. Me being me, I called the doctor's office to enquire what had gone wrong. The doctor's husband picked the phone and I asked for his wife. He asked me who was calling and as naive as I was, I didn't want to admit to being the patient's kid sister. And so I told the next obvious thing - that I was his mom. Now when I think back about it, I can laugh over it... but it was humiliating back then when the husband did handover the phone to his wife while audibly saying, "It's a child saying she is your patient's mother."  Gulp.

And so I learned early... don't let the others' excuses fool you. Be it improving your language skills, or interpersonal communication, the only reason you are doing it and they are not is because they've labeled you the mouthpiece. If someone else can do it better, you should probably make them do it, even if they convince you that you are the best person for the job. After all, how hard can it be to dump back some of that responsibility on them?

February 19, 2010

Spicy Sabudana Vada

Ahhh it's been a trillion years since I food-blogged and I am sure most of you must’ve wondered if I’d stopped making different things or what. To be honest, I kinda did… Getting home late only meant that I was whipping 15 minute dinners on a daily basis. If it wasn’t quickfire bisibela bath, it was some fried rice. If it wasn’t subji-chapathi, it was noodles. And so on.. But today I soaked some sabudana (jevarusi in tamil or tapioca for the rest of you) to make sabudana khichdi. However once I got home, I thought it’d be more fun to make sabudana vadas instead. Here’s a first look-
So here’s what you need..
Tip: The sabudana becomes more than double the quantity once soaked 6-8 hours. Plan accordingly. So it's just enough if you soak half a cup of sabudana in half a cup of water. Filter after 8 hours.
Soaked sabudana 1 cup
Mashed/Grated potatoes 2 large
Green chillies 3 large finely chopped
Onions 1 finely chopped
Rice flour 3 tablespoons
For seasoning
Salt, turmeric, red chilli powder To taste
Mix all the above ingredients into a thick dough. To get the consistency right, make sure you squeeze out the potatoes and the sabudana well enough to avoid excess liquid hampering the consistency. The dough should look something like this -
Ah the simple part! Make patties off them and deep fry! That’s the one-line version and that’s pretty much all there is to it. Comply with typical deep frying funda -
1. Wait till the oil is hot enough. Test it by putting a small bit of “dough” into it and see if it rises immediately.
2. Put in as many patties as your container can take and let them sit and turn golden brown on one side before turning them over and letting them brown on the other.
And voilà, here you go, one more look -
Serve with ketchup/chutney and enjoy.. Bon Appétit!

February 18, 2010

Truth or mad?

How many times have you told sometimes ridiculous truths only to be scoffed at? And what's your reaction at those times? Here's a lousy example to get you in the groove of the discussion. You missed a meeting because Murphy made you project-of-the-day. Still don't know what I am talking about? Something like this happened. You narrate your sorry tale to anyone who'd listen only to be smirked at in response, as if to say "as if". What's your reaction then? Are you just satisfied that you have indeed told them the truth and they in return, believing you or not is something that you care about or are not concerned with - after all, you did tell it as it happened. Or are you a bit like me? Going to some length to prove that it did indeed happen? Being a predominantly honest person, in that I never lie in situations of importance, it irks me if someone gives me the yeah right take on something that really did happen to me. And so I feel the need to prove it, not just to show that as far as that instance was concerned, I was right, but also to prove that every other time I have come up with something as unlikely, it did happen. Know what I mean? So where do you belong? Calm, composed and devil-may-care or just a little pissed off that people have no value for credibility however incredulous it maybe? Truths only please.

February 16, 2010

Heal the world..

Is it me or has the world totally gone mad? This is no trick question and as a matter of fact, it's only terribly easy to answer this one. Yes, the world has gone mad. Look at what's happening around us. The bomb blast in Pune... the train crash in Belgium... the earthquake in Haiti. And that's only the top 3 disasters off the top of my head. Everyday I open any news page, there's nothing to rejoice. If it's not about the Afghan war, it's about the poverty and starvation in some country. If it's not an Olympic death, it's about an Italian landslide. And what's with all those unexplained bulk airplane crashes in recent times anyways? Be it Air France or YemenAir - what's going on?? After witnessing the events that the world has undergone in just the recent past, suddenly the 2012 predictions for the end of the world is not looking so implausible after all.

Just take our basic behavior with one another. It sort of reminds me of a Frasier episode in which Niles wonders aloud if all social etiquette has died. So many people are no longer considerate about the many basic courtesies that at least some of us are used to... and these are not even the antediluvian chivalrous acts like holding a door open for a lady or something. These are basic at best -

1. The verbal courtesies - When did it become uncommon to thank someone for something? Not just that, taking someone for granted ranks high up there in the social non-etiquette. Returning pleasantries is another thing. Being rude is an entirely new level, which seems to occupy the most-opted for pedestal in recent times. Is it too hard to be polite upfront? Like someone once said, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all. Go figure.

2. The physical courtesies - One can only wonder how it is possible to go wrong here. And I am not talking extremist-terrorist behavior, but just ordinary everyday people in everyday interactions. You bang into someone.. you're in a hurry, but yes, everyone's in some world's-rushing-by-and-I've-got-to-catch-up hurry too, but it's only polite to apologize, no matter whose fault it was. You knock someone down.. please apologize even more profusely and help them on their feet. Do not run away in either situation, unless you tried to steal something from them and actually succeeded. Simple? You'd think so.

3. The mental courtesies - No matter whom you are pissed of at, do not take it out on another innocent person. It may have been bad service at a restaurant or just a bad dream, but taking it out on someone else only spreads the ill-humour, like ripples in a pond. So do everyone a favour, including yourself, and let it rest. Deal with it.

Don't you think just including these ultra-basic courtesies in our everyday lives will make domestic and social situations much more pleasant and easier to deal with? And yes, I realize that none of this is going to solve any of the worldly problems that I began with in the first place. But it will help us remain civil with one another and help one another out in situations that demand it. And while we are on etiquette, please show some respect for the place you dwell in as well. And yes, that means, please find a dustbin to stow away the trash or cigarette butts and refrain from spitting that gum on the road or sticking it what you think is a hidden corner, no matter how tempting it is. It's a humble request on behalf of everyone who's found gum in the unlikeliest of places and been icked out by it.

Is it so wrong to want to "heal" the world? Let's give it a shot.. one band-aid at a time.

To my Paati who bore the brunt of one of society's uncouth examples, get well soon.

February 6, 2010

Saving the souvenirs

Ever gone to a place and collected all sorts of bizarre things by telling yourself you’ll keep it as a “souvenir'”? Of course I mean those things which aren’t actually the ones sold at stores exclusively for the purpose of keeping something as a token of your trip like shot-glasses (want to see our collection? See it here. Of course it’s far expanded now) or refrigerator magnets. I mean the later meaningless things like travel tickets, or entrance tickets to the various attractions, coins and currency notes, visiting cards from interesting places and what not. More often than not, once you are back from the trip, it’s all about the photographs and all these other “souvenirs” you picked up along the way either remain ignored or worse, trashed. So for a change, when S and I picked up all these things along the way in our Prague trip, we decided to put them to place. So here it is -


Fortunately, we found all our stuff from the Rome trip last year as well.. and hence that’s a work in progress. So here’s something saved as a different sort of memory, this time in honour of the place alone and not the way we visited it. Here’s to more trips and more memories! Cheers!

February 4, 2010

Postcards from Prague

So here it is… 4 days , 1330+ pictures later, just 3 photos.. to represent the wholesome spirit of Prague. This first one says it all – a beautiful castle overlooking the entire city, a lovely river that separates the castle and the Old town and the medieval architecture if that wasn’t enough..

Photo1 105a

And then this one of the twilight. Twilight is brilliant in Prague, making the entire sky a beautiful inky blue. What better to see it against but the gothic church of Old Town? Here, decide for yourself..


And here’s one last picture.. this one for a quirky fact. The longest escalator in all of Europe in the Metro station of Namesti Miru.. At a whopping 88m high and an arduous 2 minutes 30 seconds long and over 400 steps, it’s one hell of a “ride”. What’s worse? The advertisements on the side walls are also posted at an angle. So, if you lean to read them, you may feel a slight spin of vertigo chugging along with you. And the worstest part? The escalators are at least twice as fast as anything normal you’ve gone on before. That means quick step-on and quick step-off. With no elevators in sight on most Metros and the extra'-tall, extra-long ride ahead, it’s an everyday amusement for the “fearless” and intimidating for the rest. Ok ok, I sense it’s enough build-up. Here’s a pic; And what you think is the top, is not. Go figure.

Photo1 033a

Dobry Den from Prague!!

February 3, 2010

Playing the trump card..

Of course in many situations what I am about to say won't probably matter... but if it does, would you be complaining? For instance, merely asking the flight check-in people if there are seats available in first class on a sparingly-filled plane has enabled many people who wouldn't otherwise buy an exclusive first class ticket to be able to travel in first-class comfort, all because of one thing - they asked. The people who asked certainly aren't going to be the ones complaining. But I bet it'd invoke a bout of incredulity or grumbling from others in earshot at the "luck" you chanced out at... But here's the thing... not many people bother asking at all. They either think it's embarrassing if turned down or unethical or plain weird. Mostly it's the first one. They are too embarrassed to try. But here's the other thing - where better to "embarrass" yourself than in front of a bunch of strangers you are hardly likely to set eyes on again. And even if you did, it's not like asking for first class seats is going to reduce your standing with them in any significant manner. So, why not?

So after all this subconscious analysis about similar situations, I decided it was worth a try to get a piece of all this action. People were kinder and more giving than we gave them credit for, after all. So what was I to lose by trying?

First try. So when I sent an email reminder to our hotel in Prague, intimating them of our time of arrival, I dropped in the hint that it was our wedding anniversary trip. And guess what? We'd only booked a simple double room but they gave us a spacious top-floor suite at no extra charge. And I am only guessing that this and the part where they threw in the complementary breakfast every morning was all because of this simple mention on the email or sheer good luck.

Second try. Mention the occasion at Hard Rock Café at dinner. And voilà, chocolate fudge sundae on the house with a souvenir

Third try. The word at Khajuraho, the fabulous Indian restaurant on Old Town. And? Free gulab jamun for dessert and a handy little embroidered purse for me.

So there we go.. three attempts and no strikes. Of course none of the attempts were totally legitimate in trying to get extra favours from the attending staff. What was just a mention of the date was acknowledged for it's merit. And that's why there was no risk of embarrassment and a weird sense of "accomplishment" in these deeds. So is there any of you out there with tried and tested experiences to share? Find the comments section and tap away...

And yes, some Praha pictures are lining up to make their way up on MindBlogging. Keep watching this space! Thanks :)