Sep 9, 2010

Missed you

Oh my dear dear blog...i missed you so much....staying away from you was as painful as staying away from one's own child. July was bad and August was no better, but hopefully things are little bit calmer now. I just keep my fingers crossed. I am tired of all the chaos.

Jul 8, 2010

Blogging and cooking

This is like the puzzle what came first the chicken or the egg, in my case it is replaced with blogging and cooking. I was always fond of food but never fond of cooking. It was to me like a very mundane chore that I did with a very grim face. We always had a cook and I always thought that the cook is the most indispensable person in my life. But as we all know that "change is the only constant", things didn't remain the same.the most interesting part is how it changed. After quitting my job in order to take care of my son, I was mostly staying at home. I became very restless. I decided to channelize my restlessness and started a blog. A blog that would primarily speak about me, my emotions, my daily chores, my vacations, my passions.Initially I wrote a short story in my blog and then inspired by other co-bloggers I wrote a recipe and then there was no looking back. I started filling up my blog space with recipes, this also led to a sudden surge in cooking. I do not know if I am passionate about the blog or the food. I suddenly started monopolizing the kitchen, which was ever since the sole domain of my book. She didn't naturally take this insurgence sportingly and left. The strange part is I felt good after she left. I suddenly feel free and am on a cooking spree like never before. lets see how long it lasts

Jul 7, 2010

Dal puri with a difference

I think very soon I will achieve the title of "re-use queen". I have started reusing leftovers to such an extent that I am almost getting addicted. Human kind should give me a standing ovation for this. In this age of global warming and food crisis I am trying to bring back equilibrium and push back the disaster with my reuses.
Well, I share this credit (I am assuming that you are already standing and clapping for me, being a Leo I survive on applauds)with both my mother and my mother-in-law. Both the women had OCD(obsessive compulsive disorder)in not wasting food. My mother used every single part of a vegetable to cook her meals, it included the skin, seeds, stem and what not. The same with my mom-in-law, infact my mom-in-law is so much in love with leftovers that she would even keep aside a single leftover aloo from a macher jhol to eat the next day. Although these habits of both the mothers irritated me once upon a time but now with age I have started realising their benefits. In today's age where preservation has become the key word for survival I think these age-old methods of our mother's should lead us to better future not only for our own families but for the entire world. Mothers take a bow.

Yesterday few of my husband's vegetarian friends came for dinner. I had prepared mixed dal, lauer torkari, begun bhaja(this dish is a hit with hubby's veg buddy's) raita and halwa for them. They loved the Bengali lau and begun bhaja so much that they literally neglected the dal, which I had prepared in a non-bengali style(hats off to simple Bengali cuisine). Negligence of the dal lead to it's leftover.I suddenly remembered both the mothers and following them I utilised leftover dal to make tasty dal puris. This Dal Puri is slightly different in preparatin nevertheless it is very tasty and above all it saves your leftover dal from heading the litterbin.



Preparation

Leftover dal (any variety)
2 cups wheat flour
1 pinch ajwain
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp vegetable oil
salt to taste

Take the flour in a bowl and add the dal, ajwain and salt to it. Mix well. Slowly add water to knead it into a soft dough. Make small balls from the dough. Roll them into small circles. In a tawa fry them adding oil. The same way as we fry parathas. Alternatively you can also deep fry them in a pan like puris.

Eat them with chilli pickle and curd/yogurt.

Jun 6, 2010

Fine Balance

Just finished reading A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. Well I was never a Rohinton Mistry fan but it was my Friend Kaustav's insistence that compelled me to read Mistry. I remember all those bus rides on our way to office when my dear colleague used to hammer me with Mistry praises that finally a bought a copy of Tales from Firozshah Baag. After completing it there was no looking back. I started reading Mistry the way many others read Harry Potter.. My beloved friend always said that Fine Balancewas perhaps Mistry's best piece of fiction, and I do not dare to differ.
Let me make a confession; I am a very classist person at heart, I am not the kind of person who would enjoy the Premchand genre of literature, infact I read them with condescending attitude and often never relate to them. Therefore I initially thought I would never be able to enjoy a novel whose protagonists are landless chaamarstrying to find foothold in Mumbai( strangely the name of Mumbai is never mentioned in the novel). contrary to my belief i ended up empathizing with the chaamars.
The novel takes on emergency head on. From nasbandi to city beautification to forced rallys everything is there. This novel deals with untouchability, loneliness upperclass snobbery, fraud godman, student politics, police torture, beggary, pavement dwellers, infact it deals with real India. The India which is often ignored by the upper class bourgeois. The India about which we often suffer amnesia.

May 22, 2010






Mom (o)



The craving for Momo is increasing by leaps and bounds. Craving for a food, she didn’t touch for 15 years after that fateful day. She used to feel a strong resentment towards Momo. She often thought the food as the reason for her tragedy. And therefore she kept herself away from it. But now suddenly she is feeling the strongest urge to have it. Initially she tried to fend off the craving, but it slowly overwhelmed her. Throughout the day she was only thinking of Momos.
Then one day she thought of ordering Momos from the nearest Tibetan delight. She picked up the phone and dialled the number but the repulsion crept back and she kept the phone.
More than anything she was scared of her father’s prying. Ever since that incidence she deliberately abstained from Momo, and her father always felt her abstinence illogical. No doubt her father would be happy to see his daughter forgetting the past, but she was too embarrassed to answer any of his questions.
Finally she abandoned the idea of buying it and decided to secretly prepare it at home when the others would be away. The very next day she clandestinely went to the nearby mall and bought all the ingredients. She kept them in the freezer behind other stuff, safeguarding them from peeping eyes.
Throughout the night she was unable to sleep. She was having a strange feeling. She was feeling guilty although she had no reason to feel so, but still she felt culpability. For the last 15 years she had always held this particular food responsible for her misfortune and now all of a sudden she was dying to have it. Throughout the night she felt uneasy and memories of that unfortunate day came back like a movie flashback.

She could see and feel that fateful morning when her mother was preparing ingredients for Momo. It was she who had requested her mom to prepare Momo. From early morning her mom started chopping onions and garlic, kneading the dough, making small balls. She was served steaming hot Momos before she left for school.
Her mom promised Thukpa and Momo after she returned from school.
Even in school she was not able to concentrate. Her mind was only thinking of Momo and Thukpa. Just after the English period she was excitedly discussing the prospect of having momo after school with her friends, when the school office bearer came and asked her to come along to the Princapal’s room. She was surprised with this sudden summon and also scared. Even after thinking a lot she was not able to think of any recent misdeed that could lead her to the Principal’s room. She silently and anxiously followed the bearer.
After entering the principal’s room she was surprised to find her neighbour Mr.Tandon sitting in front of her Principal. Immediately she thought that this man has come to complain about her to the principal. She recollected that the previous week she had not taken Mr.Tandon’s daughter in the game of “chor police”. May be that has irked this man, and he has come to complain.
After she entered the room her principal called her and held her hand very politely, she saw no anger in the principal’s face. He very politely asked her to go home along with Mr.Tandon. She was surprised. Why was she being asked to go home? For a moment she thought maybe her mom wanted her to have the Momo right then. Maybe her mom was as excited as her and couldn’t wait to serve her.
With great anticipation she started for home. When she entered her home’s lawn she saw almost all her neighbourhood people waiting. She was surprised and thought that maybe her mom has called all of them to have Momos.
Mrs Tobden, came and hugged her. She was taken inside. Mrs Tobden was walking very slowly and carefully as if not to disturb anybody.
Slowly they entered her parent’s bedroom; she saw her mother lying on the bed. A plateful of momo was getting cold in the side table. She wondered why her mother was sleeping when there was houseful of guests. That was the day she last had Momo.

15 years later, today she is going to have it once again. Throughout the day when her husband and father were away she made the Momos. In the evening she sat in her veranda and had the first bite of Momo after 15 years, and with the first bite she felt her baby kicking inside her. She became sure that it is going to be a girl. She now knew that her mother is coming back. Her mother was signalling her to get back to her favourite food and not blame it.





Recipe for Momo

Ingredients for Momo
250 grams minced chicken/mutton
2 cusp flour
2 onions chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
4 green chillies chopped
1 inch ginger chopped
2 shallots chopped
Coriander leaves
1 tsp soya sauce
¼ tsp vinegar
2 lemon juice
2 tsp pepper
Salt to taste

Ingredients for the chutney
2 tomatoes chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 inch ginger chopped
4 red chillies
1 tsp olive oil

How to prepare Momo

Marinate the chicken with lemon juice and vinegar and refrigerate overnight. Take the marinated chicken and add chopped onions, garlic, ginger, shallots, chillies and coriander leaves to it. Mix thoroughly and add salt, pepper and soya sauce. Keep the filling aside.
Take flour in a bowl and add salt to it. Add water and knead into dough. Make small balls from the dough. Roll the balls into small round and put 1 tsp of filling in the middle. Fold the round into a semi circular shape and seal it. Steam it for about 20 minutes.

How to prepare the chutney

Put tomato, garlic, ginger and red chillies in mixer and blend it into a fine paste. Pour olive oil in a pan. Pour the paste into the pan, add salt. Simmer the paste for sometime. Serve the Momos along with this chutney.


Spending a considerable part of my childhood in Gangtok I naturally developed a liking for Tibetan food although, I never tried preparing them at home. This food fiction encouraged me to prepare momo for the first time at home. With all humility I admit it tasted awesome. This is my entry for the second edition of Chalks and Chopsticks hosted by Bong Mom. The first edition of chalks and chopsticks was hosted by Aqua.

May 18, 2010

Creative recession

I believe I am going through a creative recession. For the last 2 weeks I am trying to write a story for the second edition of Chalks and Chopsticks but not being able to do so. Lat time when Aqua held the event I wrote it almost in a day's time. What is happening to me this time?

Kolkata-The city of warmth


I received a forwarded mail today, and i must confess it brought tears to my "probasi"eyes. Ever since I left Calcutta, missing my city has become a daily ritual. Therefore today these words of kindness for my city really moved me.

I am copy pasting the mail.(as it is a forwarded mail, i hope there is no copyright issue)


Most modern Indian cities strive to rise above ethnicity. Tell anybody who
lives in Bombay that he lives in a Maharashtrian city and (unless of course,
you are speaking to Bal Thackeray) he will take immediate offence. We are
cosmopolitan, he will say indigenously. Tell a Delhiwalla that his is a
Punjabi city (which, in many ways, it is) and he will respond with much
self-righteous nonsense about being the nation's capital, about the
international composition of the city's elite etc. And tell a Bangalorean
that he lives in a Kannadiga city and you'll get lots of techno-gaff about
the internet revolution and about how Bangalore is even more cosmopolitan
than Bombay.

But, the only way to understand what Calcutta is about, is to recognize that
the city is essentially Bengali. What's more, no Bengali minds you saying
that. Rather, he is proud of the fact. Calcutta's strengths and weaknesses
mirror those of the Bengali character. It has the drawbacks: the sudden
passions, the cheerful chaos, the utter contempt for mere commerce, the
fiery response to the smallest provocation. And it has the strengths
(actually, I think of the drawbacks as strengths in their own way). Calcutta
embodies the Bengali love of culture; the triumph of intellectualism over
greed; the complete transparency of all emotions, the disdain with which
hypocrisy and insincerity are treated; the warmth of genuine humanity; and
the supremacy of emotion over all other aspects of human existence.

That's why Calcutta is not for everyone. You want your cities clean and
green; stick to Delhi. You want your cities, rich and impersonal, go to
Bombay. You want them high-tech and full of draught beer, Bangalore's your
place. But if you want a city with a soul, come to Calcutta.
When I look back on the years I've spent in Calcutta - and I come back so
many times each year that I often feel I've never been away - I don't
remember the things that people remember about cities. When I think of
London, I think of the vast open spaces of Hyde Park. When I think of New
York, I think of the frenzy of Times Square. When I think of Tokyo, I think
of the bright lights of Shinjiku. And when I think of Paris, I think of the
Champs Elysee. But when I think of Calcutta, I never think of any one place.
I don't focus on the greenery of the maidan, the beauty of the Victoria
Memorial, the bustle of Burra Bazar or the splendour of the new Howrah
'Bridge'. I think of people. Because, finally, a city is more than bricks
and mortars, street lights and tarred roads. A city is the sum of its
people. And who can ever forget -or replicate - the people of Calcutta?

When I first came to live here, I was told that the city would grow on me.
What nobody told me was that the city would change my life. It was in
Calcutta that I learnt about true warmth; about simple human decency; about
love and friendship; about emotions and caring; about truth and honesty. I
learnt other things too. Coming from Bombay as I did, it was a revelation to
live in a city where people judged each other on the things that really
mattered; where they recognized that being rich did not make you a better
person - in fact, it might have the opposite effect. I learnt also that if
life is about more than just money, it is about the things that other cities
ignore; about culture, about ideas, about art, and about passion. In Bombay,
a man with a relatively low income will salt some of it away for the day
when he gets a stock market tip. In Calcutta, a man with exactly the same
income will not know the difference between a debenture and a dividend. But
he will spend his money on the things that matter. Each morning, he will
read at least two newspapers and develop sharply etched views on the state
of the world. Each evening, there will be fresh (ideally, fresh-water or
river) fish on his table. His children will be encouraged to learn to dance
or sing. His family will appreciate the power of poetry. And for him,
religion and culture will be in inextricably bound together.

Ah religion! Tell outsiders about the importance of Puja in Calcutta and
they'll scoff. Don't be silly, they'll say. Puja is a religious festival.
And Bengal has voted for the CPM since 1977. How can godless Bengal be so
hung up on a religions festival? I never know how to explain them that to a
Bengali, religion consists of much more than shouting Jai Shri Ram or
pulling down somebody's mosque. It has little to do with meaningless ritual
orsinister political activity.The essence of Puja is that all the passions
of Bengal converge: emotion, culture, the love of life, the warmth of being
together, the joy of celebration, the pride inartistic ex-pression and yes,
the cult of the goddess.

It may be about religion. But is about much more than just worship. In which
other part of India would small, not particularly well-off localities, vie
with each other to produce the best pandals? Where else could puja pandals
go beyond religion to draw inspiration from everything else? In the years I
lived in Calcutta, the pandals featured Amitabh Bachchan, Princes Diana and
even Saddam Hussain! Where else would children cry with the sheer emotional
power of Dashimi, upset that the Goddess had left their homes? Where else
would the whole city gooseflesh when the dhakis first begin to beat their
drums? Which other Indian festival - in any part of the country - is so much
about food, about going from one roadside stall to another, following your
nose as it trails the smells of cooking?

To understand Puja, you must understand Calcutta. And to understand Calcutta
, you must understand the Bengali. It's not easy. Certainly, you can't do it
till you come and live here, till you let Calcutta suffuse your being,
invade your bloodstream and steal your soul. But once you have, you'll love
Calcutta forever. Wherever you go,a bit of Calcutta will go with you. I
know, because it's happened to me. And every Puja, I am overcome by the
magic of Bengal. It's a feeling that'll never go away.

May 16, 2010

Fuchka

fuchka@prathampadokhep.blogspot.com

One food I absolutely love is Fuchka. Therefore after leaving Kolkata, the first thing that I started missing was fuchka. My life became dull and depressed without the presence of fuchka. My evenings were no more spicy and hot. At times I felt so desperate for fuchka that I used to think of paying a two day visit to Kolkata only to have fuchka.
Pani puri is definitely a dish from the fuchka family, but the similarities are as same as between Nirupa Roy and Rakhi Sawant. Therefore my taste buds were never satisfied with the sweet pani puri and craved for the hot and spicy version. Initially I felt a total repulsion towards pani puri, but slowly I started giving it some benefit of doubt. Still it was not able to conquer me the way fuchka did. I often used to direct the panipuriwalla to make it like puchka. In most cases I became the butt of ridicule.
Finally my hard days came to an end. Last week I had fuchka here in the city of hopes itself. Thanks to hanglas for importing a fuchkawala from Kolkata. This man has brought relief to troubled and starved souls like us. I almost felt orgasm after having the first bite of Kolkata’s fuchka after three long years. May this man not face the wrath of Raj Thackeray. Amen.

May 14, 2010

Aamsutra part II

After the "aamras" it was time for the pora amm er sharbat. My only objective in life was to get rid of the crate of mangoes.
As they say every food item has a story to tell. Pora amm er sharbat reminds me of Prof Ratnabali Chatterjee. She was my guide when I was doing my M.phil term paper. Often she used to call me at her residence to discuss the paper. One such sultry afternoon when I reached her home, she served me a cold glass of Aampora sherbat. She prepared it herself. Ever since whenever I hear Aampora sherbat, that afternoon comes to my mind.Nothing is more soothing than this in a hot summer afternoon.




Ingredients

4 Raw green mango
200 grams Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Rock Salt
1/2 teaspoon Red Chilli flakes
1 teaspoons Roasted and ground Cumin powder

Preparation

Roast the mangoes in their jackets over a flame.
Cool the mangoes and then remove the skin.
Scoop out the pulp and mash it after removing the seed
Pass the pulp through a sieve, so that the fibres, if any, are removed.
Add powdered sugar, chilli, flakes, rock salt and mix over medium flame for a minute or two.
Sprinkle roasted and ground cumin powder.
Take it off the flame. Cool and store the concentrate in glass bottles.
To make a drink, add 1/4 glass of the concentrate. Add ice cubes and chilled water.

Kumror Chakka

My mother was a great cook (I know, I know, all of us think that our mothers are great cooks). She had the competence of turning mundane items into tasty delights. Unfortunately I am not a good cook and unlike her I often turn expensive rare items into gourmet nightmare. Therefore I think the gene factor is not really working.
My mother had a habit of never throwing away anything. This had its adverse effect as our house was always overburdened with old clothes, furniture, old souvenirs and toys. Nevertheless, when it came to cooking this habit mostly bore fruitful results. She used to fry the skin of potato or gourd and turn them into crispy fryums. She used to paste the skin of raw banana along with mustard and poppy seed and prepared a concoction that tasted awesome with steamed rice.
One of her dishes that were very simple but tasty was Kumror chakka. Pumpkin is not my favourite vegetable infact I wonder if it is anybody’s favourite, but this dish I simply loved. After my marriage even my husband seems to love it. I do not prepare it much often, occasionally when I do prepare I try to put my entire heart and soul. It is my tribute to my mother. My mother always panicked that I will never be able to cook anything (forget being a good one). She often expressed sorrow for the guy who would marry me as she wondered that the poor chap would stay unfed and uncared. Therefore today when I am able to prepare one of her dishes efficiently I feel happy and content that at least my mother’s soul is resting in peace that her daughter has finally become a cook.

To prepare this recipe you need Pumpkin and Pumpkin and Pumpkin.

500 gms Pumpkin
100 gms Chola(soaked overnight and boiled)
3 tbsp Cumin seeds
2 Red Chillies
2 Grenn chillies
1 tsp Turmeric powder
Mustard oil
Salt to taste

Cut the pumpkin into small pieces. Roast 2 tbsp cumin seed and 2 red chillies and dry grind them into a fine powder. Keep aside.
Heat oil in a pan
Add remaining cumin seeds and green chillies.
When the seeds start spluttering add the pumpkin
Sauté for some time let it turn brown
Add turmeric and salt
Cover the pan and cook in medium heat
Once the pumpkin is soft and mushy add the chola
Cook for some time
Add the roasted cumin and chilli powder
Cook for some more time



Serve with hot rotis.Alternately you can also serve them with luchis. I remember my mother used to serve it with triangular paranthas or parotas (as we Bengalis pronounce them).

May 13, 2010

Aamsutra

My next door flat is always rented out to queer people. Earlier a young girl stayed who used to feel ghosts in the night. One night at around 3:30 am she texted me that there was a ghost in her room and she was not able to sleep. Slowly in a months time the ghost scare turned her insomniac and even before the lease license for her flat was over she decided to leave.
A young obese man with a boyish face, in his late twenties, occupied the flat soon after. From the first day of his occupancy I became the official keeper of his duplicate flat keys. Every alternate day I get a call from this guy which inevitably says “Bhabiji, sorry to disturb you, but I have forgot my laptop charger at home, could you please open my flat door and collect it and send it, I am sending someone to get it”. The laptop charger is on different occasion replaced by palm top, folder, USB drive, sunglasses and so on and so forth. Every time, I have to open his flat and search for the things in his highly messed up bachelor’s flat. I am not complaining about this fellow because I kind of like him. His forgetful nature amuses me more than irritates. At times he gives me a call and asks me to handover the keys to his friend who came over to stay with him for a couple of days.
Now last week one of his friends came to stay with him- incidentally this guy also collected the keys from me-who brought along with two crates of farm fresh mangoes.
Now these two guys were unable to decide the fate of the mangoes, so eventually the poor fruits landed at my place. It was also my neighbour’s way of returning favours. Incidentally these mangoes instead of amusing me burdened me whatsoever. What am I supposed to do with two crates of mangoes?
My neighbour promised me that he would help me finish off the mangoes. But, the very next day he left to the US for two whole weeks. I don’t know if it was deliberate to escape from the mango overdoing.
Now I am left with two crates of mangoes and only two souls to finish them. The mangoes are ripe and if not eaten now they will perish in a couple of days. My house is now invaded by yellow sweet things. I have now started using them in every possible way. My maid suggested that the easiest way to get rid of bulk mangoes is “aamras”. So off I go.


Ingredients
Ripe mangoes 5 -6
Milk 2 cups
Sugar 50 gms
Ice cubes

I first peeled the mangoes and cut them into small pieces. Then I put them in a blender along with milk and sugar. After it turned smooth I added ice cubes and served. Alternatively you can also put it in the refrigerator for some time and then serve chilled. Nothing is more soothing than Aamras in a hot summer afternoon.

May 11, 2010

Happy Mother's Day




They say becoming a mother is the most amazing thing. Motherhood makes a woman complete. Children are god’s gift to mankind. What they never say is that being the mother is the most challenging, stressful, hectic, erratic, insane, time consuming, painstaking, nerve wrecking, demanding, patience requiring job. You need to have nerves of steel to pass through this.
Often I hear celebrity mothers say wonderful thing about becoming a mother. They never speak about the stress factor. Maybe they never realise it, as they can afford a contingent of nannies, caretakers, governesses to look after the ugly chores of child rising so that they can only enjoy the bliss of motherhood which mothers like us are too exhausted to even notice. Being a mother is stressful. Period. Being an almost single mother is double stressful and being a totally single mother is..oh my god I can’t even think of that.

Taking care of a child 24x7 is leaves you totally stressed out. After my child was born I haven’t slept properly, haven’t ate properly, didn’t bathed properly, and even didn’t relieve myself properly. I haven’t read a book, watched a movie, played scrabble, gone out for dinner ever since my child was born. My wish list to Santa asks only some time for myself.
I envy working mothers. They can atleast spend some time away from their kids. I know they have their own guilty pangs, but they should start counting their blessings. They can atleast afford the luxury of spending quality time with themselves. No, I apologise, I sincerely admire the working moms. I consider them super woman, but still I feel that they can read a book on their way to office. Gossip over lunch with female colleagues, when work pressure is less they can surf the internet which miserable beings like us cannot.

I remember the words of one of my friend’s mother, when I was almost eight months pregnant, I told her that I wish that the child was born and being pregnant for so long was really trying my patience. What she told me is one of the wisest words ever spoken. She said “after it is born, you would wish that it gets back inside you. Epiphany of all times.

After becoming a mother, I feel like a dull student, who in spite of all the hard work is unable to score good grades. Accused and scolded by everyone from parents to teachers to neighbours, relatives with little or no effect. I was unable to understand mathematics; I used to try hard but never could really manage it. I can feel the same sentiment now, I am unable to understand the howling and crying and tantrums of children. I try hard but still can’t understand the complexity of a one year old. My score card in baby care also scores miserably bad irrespective of my hard work.

The only difference between mathematics and a child is that maths never smiled back at me. Maths never hugged me. Maths never kissed me. Maths never played with me and above all maths was not born out of me. When I see my child sleeping (the only time when I feel a tsunami of love for him) my heart goes out to it and I feel like giving it everything that I possibly can. When I see my child laughing and giggling I forget my pain. Maybe that is the bliss of motherhood.

May 7, 2010

My story finally there

It was great to see my story in Aqua's blog. It really inspire me to write more such stories. There are also some other exciting stories. Do check out served with love.

Aurangabad Trip




Aurangabad is approximately 400 kms. Initially we had planned to take a bus or train to go to Aurngabad. At one point in time we also thought of flying there but lastly we decided to take our own car. It was indeed an wise decision because later on when we went to places like Ajanta and Ellora our car really saved us from the hassle of finding a taxi and bargaining on the price etc. I am anyways very bad at bargaining.

It took us about 7 hours to reach Aurangabad from Andheri (West). Instead of going via Pune we took the bypass route through Talegaon and then travelled through Ahmednagar.When we reached Aurnagabad it was almost 10pm.

Finding a hotel in Aurangabad is not difficult. You can book a hotel through the net, as we did or you can reach and walk into any hotel. Usually you will get occupancy. the weather is Aurangabad is hot, so always plan your trip in early morning so that you can avoid the scorching sun in the afternoon. Especially if you have kids never venture out in the afternoon. The mercury level really rises high.
Next day early morning we travelled to Ellora. If you have a car, take the car inside the premises. You will not be able to walk all along. There are numerous caves in Ellora but if you are not keenly interested in cave painting or archaeology then you can highly skip few caves and only see the chosen few. Do make it a point to visit the musical cave and the Kailasnath cave. The former is a engineering marvel and the later is the famous Kailash temple as mentioned in the movie and book "Kailashe kelenkari".

From Ellora you can straight go to the cemetery of Mughal ruler Aurangzeb. The man really asked for a humble burial. The next spot to visit was Daulatabad Fort. This is the famous fort of the mad king Mohammad bin Tughlaq.Do make it a point to visit the dark chamber. On your way you can also check out some Paithani weaving mills. Aurangabad is famous for Paithani and himroo fabric and in these mills you can have a first hand experience of the weaving.
This entire trip we covered in 6 hours time. In the afternoon it is best to rest A/C rooms of your hotel. Keep the evening free to visit the various gates of Auarnagabad. Very few people know that Aurangabad is called the "city of gates" for it numerous gates.

The second morning should be set aside for Ajanta trip. It takes about 2 hours to reach Ajanta from Aurangabad. You cannot take your personal vehicle inside Ajanta. You will have to depend on the govt tourist bus to reach the top of the hill from where you need to clinb the stairs to reach the caves.Climbing those steep steps was strenuous for me. In Ajanta there are about 24 caves and unlike Ellora you cannot skip them. They are lined up in a circular pattern. In Ajanta you will get to see some photographs directly from the pages of your history book and the posters of incredible India.The last cave is worth mentioning. Peace of mind can be really attained in this cave where Lord Buddha is lying in his Mahaparinirvana posture.


Ajanta trip would leave you quite exhasuted so plan to rest in the aftrenoon. In the evening try to visit the Bibi ka Maqbara. If it is a full moon day you are going to have a treat for your eyes.This structure was a reply to the wonderful Taj Mahal. A poor replica or should I say poor man's Taj Mahal was built by Aurangzeb's son in memory of his mother.

The last day of our visit we went to Panchakki which I personally felt nothing special. It gives you an idea of the water system during the old days. We did made it a point to visit the Bibi Ka maqbara again in the morning, and I must say it was really worth a visit.
In the afternoon we started off for Mumbai.

Thank God Its Monday


I hate Sundays. Earlier it used to be the most coveted day of the week, now it has turned into the most dreaded. Earlier Sunday meant waking up late in the morning, then sitting in the balcony with steaming hot coffee and newspaper. After delving into the newspaper, I used to have a relaxed bath, practising my singing skills and rehearsing for the next Indian idol. Next, after much trepidation I used to go to the kitchen. Lunch used to be nothing elaborate, simple but scrumptious. Lunch was followed by a long siesta. Evening was reserved for movie, shopping, and friends. Ideally the first stop used to be Crossword or Odyssey. A long book reading used to rejuvenate me. After buying couple of books for the coming week I used to head for a movie. A late night dinner and a taxi ride home used to make me feel so tranquil. At the end of the day I used to retire in my small but cosy room and lie down on my favourite bed with a book and slowly transit into a deep slumber. Long gone are those days.
Now Sunday means madness, insanity, losing temper, restless and hectic. The day leaves me exhausted. No later waking up. No more skipping breakfast. This is the day in the week when I have to cook elaborate breakfast followed by elaborate lunch with four course meal. Lunch is never on time as that is the day when my better half goes on his shopping expedition. He starts off quite late and just when I consider my lunch prepared he comes up with new raw vegetable asking me to cook them. This really irks me to no extent. Spending hours in the kitchen is my last prerogative but Sunday is the day when I am forced to spend most of the day cutting chopping, grinding, mixing and standing in front of the flame for as if ages.
Then in the afternoon I cannot sleep as the “master” of the house needs rest and I have to take care of my son who usually plays truant. By the time evening sets in I am already drained out of all my energy.
Then comes the evening the “quality time spending” time. I have to get dressed for a mandatory visit to the mall, or shopping plaza. This leaves me double exhausted as nothing new or exciting happens during these visits. At times we dine outside or else it is dinner at home. Finally the day ends. The moment the clock struck midnight I feel TGIM (thank god its Monday)

Apr 29, 2010

It has been quite sometime that i did not post anything on my blog. Actually i was planning to write a short story, but somehow the mood was not building up. let me see if today i can write anything.

Apr 21, 2010

Fish and chips


On Sunday, my neighbour sent me a very yummy malwani style chicken curry. We all gorged on the food and finished it in no time. She had left her plate at my place so I had the obligation of returning it. As you all know returning an empty plate is so un-courteous therefore I had to put on my kitchen apron to cook something interesting.
I found four Pomfret fish pieces in my freezer and decided to utilise the same for my cooking endeavour. I did not want to cook any curry neither did I want to simply fry it. I decided to prepare something which is neither Indian nor continental. Fish and chips seemed perfect. Although it is an English dish yet it to me has a local flavour. The entire evening I spent on preparing the dish. Thankfully I was able to deliver them the food just when they had sat for their dinner. What an achievement for a clumsy cook like me.

Ingredients

4-6 Fish (any) fillets
2 cups of corn flour
2 eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoon beer/wine (optional)
6 tablespoon milk
6 tablespoon water
Salt to taste

How to prepare

For the batter

Separate egg white from yolk
Take flour in a bowl and add egg yolk, sugar wine and salt to it
Stir the mixture very well
Add milk and water to the mixture
Leave for 30 minutes


Meanwhile:

Peel the potatoes and cut into 1cm chips
Soak in cold water
Take the fish
Wash the fish in cold water and pat dry with kitchen paper
Place the fish in the flour and coat thoroughly

Back to the batter:

Beat the eggs whites until they are firm
Then add gradually to the batter folding the eggs whites in carefully
Dip the floured fish fillets into the batter and cover thoroughly





Frying the chips:

Heat oil in a pan
Remove the chips from the water and dry thoroughly
Place the chips into the oil and cook for in medium heat 10 minutes
Remove the chips from the oil and leave to drain
Increase the volume of the gas
Place the chips back into the oil and fry until golden and crispy
Remove from the oil and leave to drain on kitchen paper

Frying the fish:

Dip the battered fish into the same oil that the chips were cooked in and fry for 4-5 minutes until golden brown
Serve with tartar sauce


Apr 17, 2010

Not being able to add link to a post

Today I am tired. I know I am technologically challenged, but today i guess is the height. for the last 3-4 hours I am trying to add a link to my post but in vain. Can anybody please help me.

Apr 16, 2010

The Christmas Dinner- Food Fiction


Swati entered the kitchen and opened the cabinet on her left. She found nothing meaningful that she could use for her cooking. This is going to be the worst Christmas ever since she got married. She looked out of her kitchen window and saw that it was still snowing. It is snowing since yesterday night. She again looked into her cabinet only to find it empty. The snowfall this time is continuous and all roads to Siliguri are blocked due to a Landslide, leaving this small town with no supply of food and other items.
Swati opened the right cabinet and found a packet of bread. The breads were hard and Swati remembered she had bought them from the local grocer almost three days back. She was going to throw them away but suddenly changed her mind and decided to keep. The phone started ringing in the hall. Swati rushed to pick it up.
“Hello” she said
“Hello” she heard the voice of Deepak. “How are you dear?” asked Deepak.
“I am fine” she replied.
“Why did you not call last night? Don’t you know I get worried if I don’t get your call” Swati said all this almost in one breath.
“Oh god! There is nothing to worry dear. I am absolutely fine. There was no signal in my mobile therefore was unable to call” said Deepak in his usual calm and relaxed tone.
Swati gets anxious if she doesn’t get Deepak’s call. This anxiety is shared by everywoman married to an army man. Deepak understands her worry and tries to call her everyday so that she unnecessarily does not panic, but at times due to unavoidable circumstances he can’t.
Deepak asked “what are you cooking for Christmas tonight?”
Swati dejectedly replied ‘nothing” she added “there is no supply of grocery for last three days due to this wretched landslide, I have no clue of what to cook” she said in a grim voice.
Deepak wanted to cheer her up so he enthusiastically added “but you are a magician in the kitchen dear, I am sure you can cook a storm out of nothing”
Swati laughed at his comment and added in the same grim tone “let me see”
Then she quickly asked “would you be able to join me tonight?”
“No my jaan, how can I come? Who would protect the country?” he said this with a tone of artificial mimicry. Swati laughed. Suddenly she felt very lonely. Deepak hardly spends any occasion with her. Be it her birthday, anniversary, Holi or Diwali. After three years of marriage she has kind of got used to it, but still at certain time she still feels lonely.

2

Swati went back to the kitchen and started fiddling with the bread packet. She was not feeling like cooking anything. But then she wanted to cook something as it was Christmas and it has been a ritual for her ever since marriage to cook something special for dinner. She considers it auspicious to cook on that day and she believes this very act of cooking brings good luck to her family. For an army man’s wife everyday has to be a lucky day.
She saw the packet of bread again and suddenly remembered that her hen had laid one egg in the morning that she had collected and kept in her refrigerator. She has a pet hen which is now her only supply of eggs. She rushed to her fridge and took out the egg. Then she took the bread packet and made herself busy in the kitchen.
When the doorbell rang it was almost evening. Sun sets quite early in this part. So it was already getting dark. Swati was quite surprised to hear doorbell at this time. In this sleepy town hardly anybody disturbs at this time. Swati thought maybe someone mistakenly rung the bell. She opened the door quite carefully and was pleasantly amused to see the person who rang the bell.
Deepak was standing in front of her in his army uniform. She was so excited that she could hardly utter a word. Deepak flung Swati off her feet and lifted her in his arms. Then he lightly kissed her lips and said “see I am home for Christmas”
Tears came to Swati’s eyes; she was still unable to say a word. Every time when Deepak comes back from his posting Swati feels the same numbness. Every time he comes back it is a victory. And his every return makes Swati thank the god for his survival.

3

Their humble Christmas dinner had nothing special to eat. Deepak had brought along with him some tin food from his camp; he also brought some fruits and a can of fresh cream which he used to prepare a fruit salad. The only thing that marked their dinner special was the pudding that Swati prepared using those almost hardened bread, butter, one egg that her hen laid, sugar and some flour. It was not just a pudding but it was her expression of love. It was prepared to celebrate not only Christmas but also Deepak’s homecoming from the China border and most importantly their togetherness. This was the most special Christmas that Swati ever spent.



Recipe for Bread Pudding

4-6 bread pieces
2 eggs
½ cup flour
1 cup sugar
½ cup molten butter
Pinch of baking powder


How to prepare

Soak the bread pieces in water for 30 mins
Squeeze the water and crumble the bread pieces
Whisk the egg white until it becomes creamy
Add flour to the egg white
Slowly add the sugar and keep whisking.
Add the molten butter and whisk
Add the crumbled bread pieces
Put the mixture in a blender and blend well
Add baking powder
Pre-heat the oven
Take a baking bowl and grease its base with butter
Put the baking bowl in the oven and bake at 250 degree Celsius for 45 minutes
Decorate it with dry fruits and nuts and serve.


This is my entry to Of Chalks and Chopsticks hosted by Aqua.

Apr 15, 2010

The Japanese Wife


After women centric trilogy of Paramitar Ekdin, Mr and Mrs Iyer and 15 Park Avenue, this is Aparna Sen’s attempt on a man centric movie. The movie was labelled as a love poem. Truly it was a lyrical love ballad. It almost transcends to a surreal world. It reminds us of all the epistolary love novels. It reminds us of all those platonic love lyrics where the couple never meet. Strangely while watching the movie I suddenly recollected another B grade Bollywood pot boiler “Sirf Tum” which incidentally had the same theme of pen friends falling in love and remaining faithful to each other throughout. Even a sizzling dance number by Sushmita Sen in her sexiest avatar was unable to seduce the hero and distract him from his love. Similarly, in The Japanese Wife Raima Sen was unable to seduce Snehomoy.
Raima Sen’s character was short and somewhat forced into the narrative. Her character was manipulated to show the dedication of Snehomoy towards his Japanese wife. The crying sequence in the middle of the night was quite imposed to create a situation where Snehomoy was forced to caress her. It was quite amateurish on the part of a seasoned director like Aparna Sen
Rahul Bose is a tremendous actor and in this movie he tried his best but his ultra suave image stood as a hindrance. Rahul Bose is one such actor who speaks impeccable English and highly anglicised Bangla. Weirdly in The Japanese Wife his character demanded him to speak in a regional Bengali and atrocious English, thus making his dialogues appear onerous.
The cinematography earns applauds. Sundarbans was explored like never before. This is the time Aparna Sen should start thinking of buying the rights of Hungry Tide.
Moushumi Chatterjee did justice to her part. the only hilarious part in the movie was when she mistakenly heard the name Miyagi as “maagi”. Raima Sen is maturing as an actress although here she hardly had any role.
When Raima sees Miyagi she almost feels a sadistic pleasure. The ironical smile says a lot. Both the women were unable to posses Snehomoy completely. One was able to posses his soul and the other was partly able to possess his body. But in the end both stood widowed of him. They almost became comrades in their grief.

Mar 29, 2010

Unaccustomed Earth

Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth talks about the same homesickness of Bengalis living in the US that we have already read in Interpreter of Maladies and Namesake. I believe her characters are now becoming very predictable. The Bengali woman from Calcutta getting married to a Man in the US who is doing some research work. The woman is unable to adjust to the US lifestyle and sticks to her Bengali roots. She is always homesick and visits India every summer. her parents and in-laws dying without her being on their bedside. Then comes the children who are very American but she wants them to stick to their Bengali roots which makes her unlikeable to her kids. In all three books we come across these characters over and over again. Be it Ashima in Namesake or Mrs Sen or The female characters in Unaccustomed Earth or Hell and Heaven. The husbands are always slightly unromantic, introvert, reclusive and in most stories the couples are hardly shown bonding romantically it is more of a co inhabitance. The next generation is always inclined towards the American way of living, hating the Bengali gathering that they are forced to attend, having American Girlfriends or boyfriends at times even spouses.
Jhumpa Lahiri's own experience as a Bengali child caught in the transition of two worlds in captured in most of her stories. But after three novels she should grow as a writer and come out of her own cocoon and write something new. At least she should introduce some new characters.Although I personally still like to read about all those Bengalis living in the US but at times I would like to read something new something that has not been told before from her. She should not fall into the trap of Bollywood potboilers who repeat the same formula films again and again to get the box office ringing.

Mar 26, 2010

Often I feel very sorry for my mother. At times I really feel how selfish I have been. I always took her services for granted. Now that I am in her shoes I really know where it pinches hard. Being a homemaker is a 24x7x365 thankless job. Here you are expected to deliver your best without fail. A home maker is giving her labor of love, but what is she getting in return? I think this is the time when I should truly thank my mother and all mothers all over the world for everything they did.

Recipe of Doi Mach



I am not a very good cook. Infact I am one of the few Bengali women, who is always trying to skip the kitchen apron. But at times I do tend to cook. Mostly for myself. I recently managed to cook a fish dish using curd/yogurt. I believe many are already accustomed with this recipe.


Ingredients

8 pcs of Rohu Fish
1/2 cup yogurt/curd
1/2 cup green peas
2 onion chopped
3-4 green chillies
1 tomato chopped
1 tsp cumin powder/paste
1 tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1tbsp mustard oil
1/2 tsp sugar
1/3 cup finely chopped coriander leaves
Salt to taste



How to cook

Wash the fish pieces and marinate them with turmeric and salt. Keep aside
Heat oil in a kadai and put the fish pieces. Fry till brown. Remove and keep aside
Put some more oil in the kadai
Add the chopped onions. Fry till golden brown.
Add tomatoes and green chillies. Stir till the tomato turns soft
Add green peas and stir for 1-2 minutes
Add cumin powder, ginger paste and turmeric and stir till the oil starts to separate from the spices
Beat the curd/yogurt adding little water
Pour the curd
Cook for some time in low flame
Add the fish pieces and let it cook for some time in medium flame
Add sugar and cook for sometime
Garnish with coriander leaves


This dish can be best enjoyed with steamed rice on a Sunday afternoon.This dish is both delicious and easy to cook. Hope you would enjoy cooking and eating it. Do post your comments.


day in the life of an Instructional Designer


9:30 am, Ruchi is running to catch her office shuttle. Today she really needs to hurry up. The storyboard is expected to be back with client reviews. She needs to do the fixes and send it across by late afternoon. She would barely get time.

Today is going to be a hectic day in office. She has a meeting scheduled with the graphics team at 11 am for her AMD project. Last night, Ruchi sat late to go through the AMD introductory screen and was exasperated to find at least 35 bugs in one single screen. She wants to give a piece of her mind to the graphics team in the meeting.

Thankfully today the roads were empty. 10 am Ruchi entered the office lobby. She was feeling thirsty and wanted to head for the coffee machine. She controlled the temptation and instead went to her workstation. The first thing she did was opened her outlook inbox….”oh my god’ she gasped, it was full of mails. No time to go through all mails so she started prioritising them and searched for the storyboard which she was expecting. She found the storyboard with client comments and immediately started working. The unopened mails were making her curious but she concentrated on the storyboard. The clock was ticking fast and her work was not being able to keep up with the pace.

One mail that she managed a glimpse was particularly bothering her, the one that she dared to open was the meeting request from her onsite project manager Rohit Shetty, Ruchi dreads this man. Unable to control her curiosity she finally opened it. The content disgusted her. Rohit wants to fix a meeting at 9 pm India time.

All her plans went haywire with this one single mail. Today is her mom’s birthday and Ruchi wanted to go to her mom’s place to wish her. Rohit’s meeting usually lasts for more than 2 hours, so now the chance of making it to the party seems remote. She would have to abort that plan. She felt disgusted but has no time to sulk. She concentrated on her current task.

At 11am her outlook started reminding her of the impending meeting.

Ruchi was the last person to reach the meeting room. The graphics team were ready with their clarifications. The meeting ended at about12:30pm. Straight from the meeting room Ruchi headed to the coffee machine. She desperately needed a cuppa. She poured coffee and almost ran back to her workstation. On her way back she barely managed to say few customary hi-hello’s to her colleagues, all of whom were glued to their PC screens.

Ruchi started working on her remaining fixes. She wanted to be done with the fixes and start her new storyboard. Suddenly, her intercom started ringing. Naveena the Content Lead was on the other side of line. She asked very politely ‘ hey Ruchi, are you busy right now? Could you please come over for a minute? I just wanted to discuss the design template with you’. Ruchi wanted to say she was busy, but she did not want to upset her content lead. She obliged and went to meet the Lead. The discussion with Naveena exceeded much more than five minutes and when Ruchi finally came to her workstation it was 1:30pm.

Ruchi was feeling hungry but she had no time. There was too much to do and too little time. First she had to finish her SB, and then she had to work on the design template that Naveena gave her. She also needed to prepare for her meeting with Rohit.

The fixes and the design document were finally completed at 6:30 pm. She was already feeling exhausted. At last she got time to go to the cafeteria. Although she was hungry but she was not feeling like having anything heavy so she settled for instant noodle and a cup of coffee. In the cafeteria she occupied a corner seat and started eating.

In the meanwhile Urvashi and Geetha entered the cafeteria and finding Ruchi alone they joined her. After a hard day it was for the first time that Ruchi was relaxing a bit. But at the back of her mind, the meeting with Rohit was ringing hard. At 7pm she came back to her workstation, and finally started writing her new storyboard. She also quickly jotted down the agenda for the meeting with Rohit. At 8:30 pm she was done. She again went to the cafeteria to refresh herself before the gruelling meeting. At 9pm sharp Rohit was on the other side of the conference call. Randy the SME was also roped in. The meeting lasted for a gruelling 3 hrs.

At 12:30 Ruchi came back to her workstation. The office was almost empty, but many of the graphics team were still working. Ruchi asked them how long they are going to stay. They sadly replied that maybe the entire night.

After leaving office Ruchi called her mom. Ruchi said ‘happy birthday momma’. Her mom replied “thanks beta, but it is too early for my next birthday”. Tears rolled down Ruchi’s cheeks. Work has left no room for her dear ones.

confused

i am slightly confused about how to create this blog thing...pls help

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