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Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Father, Father's Day and much more

Life has moved on by a number of decades(who cares how many???) since I was a small child. Today in globalised India, we teach our kids about many many special days, beyond the Independence day, Republic day or Gandhi Jayanti. There's Environment Day, Earth Day, Water Day, etc etc etc....on one hand and the Valentine Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Friendship Day and many more such days which teach the nuclear family generation learn/ realise value of human relationships, even if it is for one particular day.

Today they learn, the importance of saying aloud, 'I love you Mom for all you did/ are doing for me' or saying 'Thank you Dad, for being there when I need/needed you the most'.

Our parents never thought it important to teach us to say that formal ' I love you' or the ' Thank you', which was never part of our culture, tradition earlier. How will they in fact, they were just the first generation of nuclear family parents raising kids independently.

While I grew up in a Bengalee family of two daughters,never ever was I in a disadvantaged position for my gender. So confident were we of our Dad's support in the outside world, that we roamed fearlessly in school. In fact the brief to us daughters was, if you are punished for fighting, I will defend you, but if you come back beaten up, you can expect the worst.

In all my moments of failures, I had my father by my side cheering me to stand up once more and take charge of my life. He taught me to dream, sometimes even beyond my abilities, but all that mattered was to dream, be ambitious, running for my goals.

Once like all working Moms with guilt pangs and back on the wall, I took a sabbatical, not even willing to return to work. Believe me, I was happy, cooking, watching tv, walking through super markets to avoid having lunch, picking up son from school, cooking exotic healthy dishes to spike up the dinner table. Only time I used to feel upset was while filling up any form and writing , occupation as Housewife/ Not working. The three men in my life, my father, my hubby and my little son pestered me bad to look for a job urgently, and get out of the house.

I am still running, today, running hard, but even today, I speak to my Baba when I stumble, fall down, or I am victorious. He is the happiest person to celebrate my success, my designation.

I salute my father, for everything he did to put me where I am today, to instill the courage in me to attempt anything and to instill the faith that I can do it and will be able to do it. I will not dare thank him for all these, as thanking him will only but belittle him and put a value for all he did to see his daughters succeed. What I am today is a tribute to my father, so Baba its all because of you.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A trip to Venice and Pizza Carbonara

Me and hubby D have been married for over 13 years. Hold it! Don't panic.... We have passed 13 years and are in the 14th year, ready to celebrate Ramji's Vanbas. But thankfully, Mr D is blessed with usual dementia and hence mostly fails to keep a count of the years. Over and above we know each other for almost 17 years now, of which had a well planned courtship of 18 months, post his daring decision to propose 'marriage' to me.

Placed at parity, we still are good friends, friendship has always remained a priority in our marriage. With our otherwise diametrically opposite character traits, food ,travel, and movies have continued to remain a passion for both, come what may.

We travel on short and long weekends, travel on holidays at least once a year, and on work separately. While by design my work profile demand less frequent travel, he compensates for that with both domestic and mostly international travel, 20 days a month.But post my little R was born 12 years back, never ever did we travel without him, except for work.

Last month was a rare occasion, when I accompanied him to Venice for some Corporate Award ceremony, where NO KIDs sign was highlighted in bold and black. After a lot of struggle, I agreed, my office agreed and my son agreed to be put up in Kolkata with his Grand Parents for the 6 days, we would be out of India.

Venice, our dream romantic destination. Ultimate luxurious stay and elaborate luxurious European meals were only some of the high points. The picturesque venue, the waterways and boat rides and a complete 'NO CAR ZONE' was unbelievable. Miles of walking within the property of Cipriani or up and down the alleys in St Marks will always be remembered. Just wished, sonny R was with us.

Among all the unforgettable memories of food, the taste of the first meal, the Pizza Carbonara is still yummily young in my tastebuds and in my brain.

The hand puffed pizza dough, baked with a topping of lots of fresh ham and egg with select herbs.... Can I call it 'gooeyi'? I am still drooling over it. On the last night in Venice, after the final parting cocktail party, braving the rains, we visit St Marks, desolate on a Sunday evening,oncemore.Hand in hand we run through the drizzle to that cafe once again and dive into the same pizza once more for a lingering taste while we travel back to India the next day.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Veg Mahabhoj

While I struggle to eat down the refrigerator, or fix a menu for the week, the mini-God of my universe, my 'would be teenager' decides otherwise.

Off late he relishes a 'thali', the Indian platter, North Indian or South Indian, preference slightly in favour of the North Indian one.



Hence, we ended up treating ourselves to the 'Rajdhani Mahabhoj' to our stomach, sorry sorry heart's content. At the end we felt satiated, he was overthrilled for being charged half for all the goodies he got to lay his hands on.

Could not control myself from clicking the huge spread/ thali. Hope you too salivate at the sight of the Mahabhoj

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mon kharap koraa bikel maanei megh korechhe....

In an otherwise coccooned life on a highrise in Gurgaon, the only contact we enjoy with outside air is in the morning these days till the Sun decides to shine too bright, right over our head.

Braving the sun, heat and dust, day in and day out, the sudden exposure to the somewhat cooled down air or a look at the setting sun or a sudden overcast sky makes you choke with emotion, fleeting memories, incidents, moments of life.



A look at the sky on a quiet Sunday evening does a prompt overchurn of emotions. Nothing more apt to describe the feelings than the famous Sumon Chattopadhyay song...." Mon kharap koraa bikel maanei megh korechhe. Durey kothao du ek poshla brishti hochchhe....."

While I enjoyed the sky over a tall cup of lemon tea and Sumon's songs pouring from my ipod, I dedicate this post to all Calcuttans missing the afternoon shower and Kalbaishakhi.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dim er Malaikari

It is weeknight once again and once again I am dog tired as I drag my feet home, late into the evening.

While I do the long forgotten 10-20-30-40,... or Ina Mina ....to decide whatz to have for the most important meal of our day, the last lap of the office work and concalls keep my ears and mouth busy. Yap-yap-yap.... I continue.

My little sonny is already irritated with my ongoing calls as well as the 'mime show' of series of instructions to stand by. Hence the need to spike up the ' shadaa mataa' home-cooked dinner with a magic wand.

The pre-boiled eggs in my refrigerator are too inviting in this moment of hurry. So, I decide, it is going to be a simple spread of bhaat(rice), dim er malaikari(Egg Curry with coconut milk) and roasted punjabi papad. And my almost 12 yrs old son finds the menu inviting enough to finally force an ear-to-ear grin.

OK, while the 'almost teenager' finally settles down to complete his 'homework', I concentrate on the 'dimer malaikari'.

Dimer Malaikari



Ingredients:

Hard boiled eggs-4, shelled and slit at places
Onion- 1 large, grated fine
Ginger/Garlic paste- 1 & 1/2 tsp
Tomato- 1 large, skinned and grates fine

Whole Garam masala - green cardamom (3-4); clove(1-2), cinamon stick(1 inch ); large cardamom- 1

Coconut milk - 1st extract- 1 cup( if using ready to use, 50 gms should be fine)
Turmeric- 1 tsp
Cumin powder- 3/4 tsp
Salt, sugar, red chilli powder to taste

Process

The boiled eggs, rubbed fine with salt, turmeric, red chilli powder and light fried till golden brown. Please take care not to over-fry, else the skin crinkles and does not allow the masala to go in.

In 1 tsp oil, put the whole garam masala and cover(to avoid the cardamoms and cloves popping out of the wok. Add onion, simmer and stir well to fry till translucent. Add ginger-garlic paste, grated tomato and stir fine. Add salt, and fry till masala starts leaving the sides. Add remaining turmeric, cumin, red chilli powder and 1/2 tsp sugar. When masala is done, add coconut milk and simmer. Add warm water for the gravy and cover. Let it boil. When gravy thickens, add 1 or 2 green chillies, slit into the gravy. Add the eggs and let the gravy cover the eggs. Thicken the gravy to suit your taste.

Usually a thick smooth gravy tastes fine. It can be eaten with rice, jeera rice or roti.

We took a dive into it with plain rice only, with a quick fix accompaniment of roasted papad and 'green chillies'.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Weekly Menu Planner-Week starting 29/3/2009

Delhi weather is still beautiful, tolerable and we can do without AC. But for a silly mistake of mine spent the whole weekend sneezing, coughing, red rubbed nose and itchy eyes.....I ate two bites of a Chicken crepe, which had a handsome portion of mushrooms as well. I was callous and spared the waiter of my regular speech of "No Mushroom, No Crabs". Hence Sunday onwards I am busy with " allergic effects"

Funnily, There are too many school holidays cluttering this week. Kid's school was off on 3rd for Ram Navami, will remain closed on 7th for Mahavira Jayanthi and 10th for Good Friday. Too many holidays means, too much junk food goes in, which is irritating. Since weekends are the only time I think and cook rather than handle it in firefighting mode during the week.

While I am trying to be more conscious of the 'grocery purchased' and 'food wastage', I was quite touched with some blogs working on 'Eating out of refrigerator and cleaning up rather than wasting the stored food'. This week actually I penned down the food I am cooking for the week, so that I do not end up 'cooking in excess', or ' be under-prepared for a week, and have outside food'

The basic staples readied, cooked and stored are as follows

1. MugMushurir mixed daal fry.... Equal portion of moong and mushuri, boiled till tender, added to phoron of finely chopped onion, ginger, garlic, tomato and green chillies

2. Alu gobi r sukhi sabji: Paanchphoron in at most 2 teaspoon of white oil, with dhania jeera haldi powder, grated tomato, ginger, mirch powder etc. Does well with daal and roti

3. Sambhar: A portion of sambar with pieces of lauki and drumsticks

4. Dry sabji(chachchari) with Alu parwal(patol)... with flinely sliced pneyaj and tomato

4. Doi Chicken in 1 tablespoon oil

5. Dim er malaikaari... Eggs are boiled and kept ready for one weeknight meal. Malaikari gravy can be made as and when required

6 Oriental fried rice (with corn, peas, finely chopped coloured capsicum,fried prawns, omlette,spring onions and pineapple.....all chopped, cleaned, fried(prawns) and stored in refrigerator for saute ing on a weeknight for a wholesome meal

7. Atta kneaded for the week and refrigerated

Hopefully by end of the week I should be able to finish all cooked food and contribute in the ' no wastage' campaign

Sunday, March 29, 2009

An hour of darkness to save the Earth

While cyclonic winds, pelting rain and loud thunder lashed on Delhi, the Delhiites observed an hour of darkness in search of sanity to save Mother Earth. Though 'conscience' and 'rising to the occasion' are not usually the most known traits of true Delhiites, the past few months of changes and surprises the country witnessed since 26/11 have brought in some changes.

Yesterday therefore, the city along with its citizens reinforced the pledge to fight climate change and save Mother Earth. Be it the Resident Welfare Associations or the Corporate Houses, the Multiplexes or the ITDC Hotels, the lights went off completely or partially(non-essential ones)between 8:30 to 9:30pm on 28th March.

A large number of Delhiites turned up at Dilli Haat, where WWF had organised an event. Hundreds of Delhiites braved the downpour and lit candles to join hands with fellow citizens from all over the world.

What makes me write on this is the natural awareness that is being slowly seeded in the children through school initiatives in raising awareness among future citizens.

As a continuation today, I found my little kiddo, putting small flags with messages on environment in his small treasure of potted gardens.



Our small potted garden has a curry patta ,some sunflower and Okra saplings. Today they were freshly decorated with some flag bearing a message on environment.



I thank God for blessing my child with a heart and mind to comprehend the bigger picture.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Saraswati Pujo 2009 and Ritualistic Gota Shedhdho





This year Ma Saraswati decided to visit us on a weekend; Thank you Ma, else, being out of Kolkata, it is too great an effort to work out a visit to the Puja with son decked up Bangali style.

Jan 31st, an usual Saturday morning for us in probaash. Hence no sound of conch shell or no smell of the auspicious aggarbatti or a puja yagna around us.

On our first visit to the Community hall for a recce in the morning, we found 12 noon should be the puja/ anjali time and hence time for us to come back. Being an irregular visitor for the Saraswati Puja, I prepared a back up lunch of Khichuri, Beguni and kool-tomato r chutney at home.

Since little sonny R would soon be moving to Grade 7, we are about to appear for the final(IInd Term) Exam for Grade 6.... hence, blessings of Ma Saraswati are little too critical at this point in time. In our true Bong upbringing, the prayer must boil down to " Bidya daao, budhdhi daao, porikshay jeno bhalo korte paari".

We had good fun in giving anjali and meeting many Bangalees we know is usually nostalgic and good fun.

But Saraswati Pujo does not end with Saraswati Pujo..... it extends into the next day with observance of "Sheetal Shashthi" by "mothers". Though doing the Shashthi is not quite my cup of tea, but being an energetic and experimentative cook, I have been doing the fabulous Gota Shedhdho that I have picked up from my Ma in law.

It has been 11 yrs since I am doing it in my household as well. The background to this might be as follows. Since on the Puja day, Moms are too tied up with Pujo, an all inclusive sabji and accompaniments are prepared, to be eaten on the next day, without heating(.... for Moms to relax and get leave from doing rounds in the kitchen).

This has different versions in different parts of West Bengal. But, I love my Ma in law's version the most. The recipe is as follows for all of us, living away from Kolkata and missing the ritualistic Gota from home.

Gota Sheddho(Bhaja)



Ingredients

Whole Green Moong 400 gms
Baby brinjals 12 pieces(in multiple of 6)
Sheem 12 pieces (in multiple of 6)
Small or Baby potatoes: 12 pieces (in multiple of 6)with jackets on
Peas in pods(Matarshnuti in chhilka)....24 pieces(in multiple of 6)
Sheesh Palang(Baby Palak leaves with strong stems as dnataa)....500 grams... washed, cleaned thoroughly and broken into 3 inch pieces
Green Chili 6 or 12(depending on how much jhaal or teekha you can take)
Red Chillies 6
Pnaach Phoron 1-2 teaspoons
Mustard oil

Procedure

Soak the green moong overnight. Preboil the potatoes and the green moong till done.Separate the potatoes, and wash clean but not to be peeled. Keep aside.

In a wok, boil water with salt to taste. When it starts boiling, add the baby brinjals, Sheem and Peas in shells to it. When the brinjals are parboiled, drain the water out and separate the brinjals.

In another wok, boil mustard oil (enough for deep frying..... forget health checks). Deep fry the boiled potatoes and parboiled brinjals. Drain on a paper towel.

In the remaining oil(you can keep aside some of the oil), on high flame, add Red chillies and pnaach phoron. As the phoron stops spluttering, add the boiled moong, parboiled sheem, peas, green chillies, fried potatoes and cover with the saag(Sheesh Palang. Cover and reduce flame.

As the saag softens, releases water, the same can be stirred well from time to time. Add salt to taste. Keep cooking till the water dries up, and the sabji gets a thick consistency. When it starts sticking to the sides, stir well till done. Add the mustard oil kept aside.

In the serving tray, arrange the brinjals. Pour the gota sabji uniformly on this, and the yummy gota shedhdho is ready.

Usually it is eaten cold on the next day with cold luchis, but trust me it is yummier if had warm on the same day.