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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ma Durga...Aashchhe bachhor Abaar esho...


Kucho nimki, narkol naru, malpua, mansher ghughni, keemar shingara, mishti r thalaa, dhok dhok pronaam aar kolakuli.... the childhood memories of Bijoya are too vivid, more so gastronomically.

Days have changed, so my son, who is at least 98% clued on Bong was surprised to find, kucho nimkis are manufacturable in Mom's kitchen as well beside the Chittoranjan Park Sweet shops in Delhi.

So this time, while I prepared to embrace and entertain a large group of family, Mr D prepared for his France visit for an unavoidable workshop. Little sonny R, upset with his Dad's funny tour plans was trying to find solace in visiting paternal Grandparents from Kolkata.

Saptami was chaotic. My Mamashoshur( Husband's Mama) and family had planned a surprise for his sister.... they were visiting us. So even though I prepared a pick up for them from railway station, my in laws were completely in the dark. Even my ten year old son was party to the conspiracy. Chaos bloomed post lunch, I had to leave for an emergency client meeting, my guests could not find the car sent for the pick up, neither could the driver find the guest..... AMAZING. I retraced 45 km to pick them up after reaching back.... and the family chat continued till wee hours of 2am.

Ashtami colourful as usual.... other than me struggling to keep a backup khichuri and accompaniments ready in case we miss the bhog at the pandal. On puja days in Gurgaon pandals, since we always end up behind 1000 at least, a backup plan is an absolute must. Afternoon, in true Bong way, we stuffed ourselves in a hired Toyota Innova and struggled our way through the terrible highway traffic to reach New Delhi Kali bari. Long travel, fights on right AC cooling, and finally we end up standing behind serpentine cues for a glimpse of the Goddess and the happening arati. Thousands were already sitting on the huge mandir courtyard waiting for Kumar Shanu to begin his performance. Terrified of the crowd, and asphyxation we finally plunge out and breathe well before locating a chaatwallah. Soft and crispy aalu chaat and spicy churmur we all had to our heart's content before reaching airport to pick up Mr D.

Navami we packed fast and quick and once again stuffed ourselves in two cars and left for a Jaipur Ajmer Pushkar trip. The days passed off in a whizzzzz.... and on Monday 3 am we came back home, almost crawling back.

House is still full, 24 hours, we are chirping and laughing with family, a rare incident compared to me and little sonny R walking back slowly,into an empty apartment, loaded with school bag, creche bag, Kumon hamper, laptop, a huge loaded purse and an equally cumbrous food tote bag....and getting prepared for the next day.

Me and little sonny R are not seeing eye to eye fearing the magic would go off and once more we would get slotted into the routine life.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Oooooh!!! Happy Days are here again

India is finally the Champion of the 1st T20 World Cup.

Those of us who grew up basking in the glory of 1983 Cricket World Cup win, it was a moment of reliving the past. Gone are the days of 120 overs a match, formats changed, its pace accelerated, and final structure is an accelerated entertainment crescendo, with an outcome quick and smart, win or loss.

20 overs is like picking up a fast food tray from Mc Donald driveway vis a vis a sit down meal, while appreciating the ambience and services and enjoying a well laid meal.

It is therefore a matter of choice. I love Mc D meals as much as I cherish a quiet sit down dinner by poolside of a classy restaurant. Hence absolutely no contradiction and the two can co-exist in my list of favourites.

All said and done, we Indians, who eat, sleep, drink, love, curse and swear cricket can rightfully celebrate the win and congratulate the fresh turks who beamed and jumped in glory last evening.

So, CHEERS!! to all fellow Indians, who think Cricket is the unifying secular religion and needs no accredition with any big or small, religion in this world.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Celebrating Independence at 60

Hi!

Happy Independence Day to u all...... Twenty years back, did I know that we had to wish each other on the Independence day?

Or rather we believed it had to be celebrated with sombre respect and pride by hoisting the National flag and singing the patriotic songs. The serious event had its share of parades and guard of honour, a few lectures and finally the a familiar pack of dry food, with Poori bhaji, sweets of different size, texture, type that mix and embrace each other in the packet and in course of time, lend taste and flavour to each other, so that at the end.

Time has passed by, so no more visiting school on independence day to take part in the prestigious celebration with some special guest of honour. Any way, coming back to reality....

On our trip to Neemrana, along the enjoyable NH8, we stopped over for a quick breakfast at Jungle Babbler, a Haryana Tourism Motel with a great property. Another 40 mins down, as we snail through the steep and narrow village roads to the Neemrana, my esteem clutch coughed and poohed and breathed black smoke and lay their burnt.

Though we walked the last bit up, the valets and staff of the Neemrana fort Palace Hotel assured us that all will be well once it cools down.

The property has a private section operating as a 5 star heritage hotel and a public section open for public viewing and day spend available for a cover charge. My son was excited to walk up and down the steep stony slope of the fort palace while the adults faced the steepness with different degrees of ease.

After sitting on the swing, or looking through the same jharokha that the Rani of Dholpur Estate had once used to view the hill slopes and appreciating the architecture and the property, it was time to head for the lunch room. We had opted for the thali option.... with paanchmel daal, paneer bhurji, laal maas, raita and gulab jamun, served in traditional copper thali, katori and spoon.... awesome authentic Rajasthani fare, satisfying not just one but all sense organs.

Rest of the journey was uneventful, other than we stopping by roadside to change gear and start off once more.

As a closing note for the day, I had cooked Fiery Hot Crab Curry, early in the morning before leaving. Crabs though popular among Kolkata Bongs, slowly and steadily lesser and lesser number of people are patronising a crab meal at home sheerly because of its non-availability and a little elaborate cooking procedure.

My hubby loves Crabs very much and I am allergic to crabs.... but can take on this much for my hubby and best friend.

Crabs I managed to get from Chittaranjan Park. And the recipe is inherited from my MIL..... now for all of you readers

Fiery Hot Crab Curry

Ingredients:

1. Fresh crabs- 4, cleaned, limbs and claws cracked, but not shelled
2. Red Onions...2, large, ground into a paste
3. Ginger paste...1 tablespoon
4. Garlic paste.....1/2 tablespoon
5. Tomato....2 large, blanched, skinned, grated fine
6. Turmeric powder.... 3/4 tsp, level
7. Hot Chilli powder... 1 tsp, or to taste
8. Kashmiri Chilli Powder... 1 and 1/2 tsp, level
9. Potatoes... 2 medium sized, skinned and cubed(optional)
10. Mustard oil... 200gms (max)
11. Whole masala... Bayleaf(2-3); small green cardamom(2-3), clove(1-2), and cinnamon stick(1 inch)
12. Salt and Sugar to taste
13. Garam Masala powder...1/2 tsp


Process

1. Cleaned crab pieces rubbed with salt and 1/2 tsp turmeric
2. Heat oil till smoking. Reduce flame. Deep fry crab pieces for 2-3 mins or till they turn red, strain and keep aside
3. Fry the potato cubes in the same oil and keep aside
4. In rest of the oil, when hot, reduce flame and add the whole masala, stir for 1-2 minutes and put in the onion paste.
5. As the onion turns transluscent, add garlic followed by ginger, keep stirring.
6. As onion starts browning, add tomato and stir well.
7. Add turmeric, kashmiri chilli and the Hot chilli powder and keep stirring. As the masala starts leaving the edge, it is time to add the potato cubes and mix well.
8. After 2 mins of stirring, add garam masala powder and stir well.
9. Add 2-3 cups of water to avoid burning the masala and for gravy. Cover and simmer.
10. When gravy boils, add the crab pieces, keep covered and simmer.
11. Take off the cover and put flame on High, to dry up the gravy.
12. Keep stirring till gravy has dried up and gives a fiery red look to the crabs.
13. Serve hot with steamed white rice.

14. Never forget to serve with an extra empty side dish for all the shells and claws emptied.

Happy dining with Indian Crabs.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Sunday breakfast

Today, we woke up to a cool breezy cloudy April morning. Felt like being back in the autumn or spring mornings in Europe. While the chores happen in its own speed, I put on the TV. The usual ones, I suppose, Post Mortem of Cricket, Election results, and Nandigram. The last one made my mouth go sour in the morning. Zipping through channels I found on one Bengali channel, a popular cookery show happening.

Cookery shows in India are just over a decade old, with Sanjeev Kapoor today, being a star TV Chef. In fact, if you all visit India or Dubai(no idea if he has a franchisee in US), you can drop in at any of his outlets.

Coming back to our breakfast, after a long time, we decided to have just sweet and crispy Malpuas for breakfast.

In Kolkata, at least a decade back the roadside shanties selling samosas(shingara) and kachoris (Kochuri), often fried some malpuas as well along with the usual jalebis. Unhealthy, unsanitised, yet yummy... close but un matched is the new avtar in my sanitised kitchen.

But the best achievable in our constrained conditions.... We licked, and wiped them clean.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Why do we need to connect?

Motherhood is a bliss, till you need to strategically juggle, a demanding work responsibility and schedule, a baby at the pallu's end, the uncertainties and anxieties of adjusting with the super-necessary human being with bagful of attitudes called the 'Child's maid', the'Ayah' or the 'Messiah' and the'others' in the family.

Looking back, nine and a half year after my son was born, I have the luxury of delivering such intellectual, eclectic discussions/ blogs, which I am sure would inspire and reassure thousands of Moms like me, suffering and deferring a sabbatical, after a day is done and dreaming of a brighter morning the next day