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Darling I can buy you a hermes, but what I can’t buy you is a husband to keep. No not even with a lavish wedding, not even with an arranged setup. As my friend’s one year old marriage falls apart bit by bit-a marriage that includes-a recent miscarriage, abuse and a kid who was just not ready for a commitment like this, she complains and plays the age old blame game. 

V should be standing up for me, she shouts in my ear from the other end of the phone, she claims she is suicidal, she sounds suicidal, suicidal because of a guy? been reasonably close to that place, okay, I empathize. We are on a three-way call. Ten years back we were discussing our new-found boobs, now we are discussing the asses we employ to suckle on them. Truly. But P has always made it about herself, K was and is the reserved one, and I would rather talk about P’s boobs than bring up mine. When I have had enough of it. Then I have to politely remind her that we too have boobs, and it hurts just as much to transition from trainees to real bras, so she agrees to go to marks and spencers near our school to shop. Ten years hence, I have to again remind this woman that we too have sailed her boat, that if she suffers from a broken marriage or a marriage that is breaking apart, we too have had our respective share of heartbreaks, so she agrees on a yoga retreat. K is on the sideline, with on-point advice and letting us heal each other as always. 

“But my dad spent 10 cr on the wedding”, she is complaining, “and my cousin’s dad? he spent 1cr (1cr=166,667USD) on her wedding, but look, she is happier”. Firstly, comparison is the thief of joy, and secondly, I am telling her how can she say that, how can she straight up put a price tag on it all? I could have a mere 10 rupee wedding tomorrow and heck it could be as much as of a fail as her’s or as much of a success as her cousin’s. Point is a wedding is not an investment, its an expense, from an accounting perspective. And even with the expense you dispense, you just can’t buy love and your place in someone’s heart. For that you need to put in some damn effort, and hey sometimes it works, and not so much the other times. 

India’s upper class and upper-middle class has a well kept secret, they have brought up a generation of kids who don’t work. Who don’t know housework, who have never cleaned a dish in their life or even fetched a glass of water for themselves! the rich dont let their kids work a “job” they have comforted them thus that it is hard for these kids to go off and sustain themselves on an entry-level salary. When girls are married, and married with dowry they expect to be treated exceptionally, you are tackling two evils here, the evil greedy in-laws(the frankenstein monsters you create) and your own damn attitude towards one of the most important relationships of your life, your marriage. You can’t expect money to fix it.

P also complains that V, the husband, doesn’t stand up for her. That when her estranged sister-in-law two years her junior, physically abused her, he should have stood up for her. How can you expect another human being to stand up for you, when you don’t even expect yourself  to stand up for yourself? A supposed MBA, from one of the wealthiest familes P is struggling in her marriage, and where all else fails she puts in our age old “kundali”(birth chart) argument, thats where my logic is truly raped and murdered with this woman when she says something on the lines of how her guru has recommended this and that. 

While I do commend her parents for standing up for her, I cannot help but foresee the problems with the system. A lot of cultures around the world have dowry system, but dowry is and shall remain evilly tabooed, because one cannot phantom how much evil it creates on both sides. The girl side, creates a frankenstein monster of the boy side, by first feeding into their whims and demands and then later falling victim to their increasing greed, the girl expects to be treated well, sometimes without putting in any effort because her family has given a lot at her wedding, on the other spectrum she also feels obliged to work on a sometimes failing and dead-end marriage because of the “capital investment” already deployed by her parents. In India a daughter’s wedding is something of a liability, if one reads enough paper female foeticide (killing the baby girl in a mother’s womb) is common for this same reason. They not only want sons, they also don’t want daughters, since daughters mean dowry in the future.   

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My tummy is in a turmoil, a culture shock of sorts. I cannot handle the spice and everytime I eat anything made in the conventional Indian way, I am ushered to the bathroom to sit myself on my jet powered pot.

I am in Delhi’s big belly, this city will charm you, and the people here will charm the pants off off you. Hahah please do not go with the media bias of the “rape city”. I have been here since sunday, and I can deffi measure my stay up until now by the number of times I have been to the bathroom, toilet, its called toilet in this part of the world.

Now that I am getting a hang of myself, and the food around me. Delhi means an oyster of new options for me. Specially breakfast options. I am not a sweet person, I cannot wake up in the morning and drown myself in syrup or float in cereal(although I make exceptions every now and then). I need something concrete and something I know is doing tremendous good to my body. Breakfast in India is notoriously unhealthy-aloo parathe up north and idli down south (read carbs carbs in the morning, yuck!), aah don’t ask the locals, ask me. Although I am a local.  

I am your oats and coffee kinda girl on good days, and just coffee on my confused days. I would rather eat nothing than anything bad. 

Here is what I ate for breakfast this morning. 

ImageSprouts! baby Sprouts, my amino acids for the day (check) sprouts are my go to snack, salad toppings and breakfast. I say when in doubt sprout! It takes a day to sprout them, after rigorous rinsing and cleansing. This is an awesome power food, and definitely better than pancakes and cereal, a great pre-workout snack. I added red onions to fight the heat.

All in all, am happy. I am finding my balance. One sprout at a time.   

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I love love love fusion food, and new innovations in food. Micro-greens is this new phenomena, and with summer around the corner(although you can grow them all year round, I just say summer, because thats when I feel like doing some gardening) I feel like planting these little beasts.

micro-greens-shoots-sprouts
Usually really expensive (like a hundred bucks for a pound! in your posh farmer’s market) they are super foods, very few places actually serve them, but they taste awesome. They are the caviar for us vegetarians. They have a really intense flavor and are usually used as garnishing. Nevertheless I am excited and waiting on my kit.

So here’s the skinny on ’em

approx 118 varieties
grown all year long
really expensive
packed with nutrients
beautiful aromas

health benefits you ask? maybe 40 times more than mature plants!
They may be called micro greens, but they come in many colors. Having recently rediscovered them again, and by recently I mean this weekend, these are superbly awesome. But looking at my wallet, I think I’d rather grow them, than buy them on a regular basis. Although I must confess, microgreens only cost hefty in this part of the world, back home these microgreens are regularly used.

My other posts on food:
https://kshity.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/cinnamon-sugar-wheat-bread-recipe/
https://kshity.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/paneer-tikka-crepe-recipe/
https://kshity.wordpress.com/2010/05/15/old-delhi-charm-paratha-gaali/

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While I was in college, my relatives back home and even the local ones who had a fully stocked Indian kitchen, constantly worried. What did I eat?

Have you started eating meat?

What do you eat?

How do you cook?

Four years later, I am still a vegetarian. And there are too many lean vegetarian options to choose from. You don’t have to depend on gross ramen noodles(although I love them) and starving yourself (well on days, when everything tastes like cardboard you will end up doing it)

Four words: “Cereal + milk” and “Other Cultures”

When in doubt, eat cereal and milk, here in America that is your go to food. If you don’t want to get fat, drink 2% or skim milk and bran and wheat options in cereal. Those sugary frootloops didn’t do anybody good.

And the wisemen said, stay away from corn. And anything with high corn fructose syrup. America is only fat of of corn. Stay away from tomato ketchup, and when in doubt top it with sriracha, you can hardly go wrong.

And my other mantra was/is, explore other cultures through their food, you will shocked how much of the middle eastern food you can actually eat, yes those arabs sound fancy with all their lambs and shesh kebabs but a lot of their dishes are vegetarian. Turkish and Greek food is very similar. Most people say that the closest substitute to Indian food is Mexican food, because of the beans, I wholly disagree. While there are many vegetarian options in the Mexican cuisine. Asian food also has a separate Zen menu, but Zen menu is when you want to shell out that extra cash. But by all means, crash into African and Middle-Eastern markets. Although the stereotype would be that these two groups of people eat a lot of meat, well my african roommate loved her meat in every meal. But a lot of their gravy is similar to ours. From cous cous to quino there are a lot of healthy options. A lot of Moroccan food is also very vegetarian friendly. Italian pasta with a wheat option is a great meal. Stay away from anything white. White bread is suicide. And so is white wine.

When I started to cook, I personally love cooking with olive oil and non stick. It is healthier and has a beautiful aroma. I have prepared rajma in a an open vessel rather than a pressure cooker. And they came out fine. Good tamarind is rare to find. And I confess the haldi isn’t ripe enough. Lime is my best friend. Because it works with most foods. I personally like spices that aren’t pre-grounded. Nobody has to buy those expensive McCormack spices in the gourmet aisle. Just go to local markets and look for the good brands there. That ofcourse requires research. Have friends who will help you out.

While in India box food tastes gross, the opposite is true here, with the time crunch and all that you really don’t have the time to prepare everything from scratch. So those 99cents dinners aren’t a bad option, you can always add your spices to it.

I learned quickly in America that the store brands, or the so called generic brands are almost the same things. Infact big companies give stores their own product to fill up their generic boxes. So while in India and ROW we like to buy our food by the brand, in America buy the generic brand. You will save money.

Never be afraid to ask the chef to just remove the meat from your meal, they will happily do it.

Although frozen vegies also seem a healthy tempting option, but low and behold, they are only a tempting option. Make that trip and buy fresh vegies, cut them up and use them. You will save future liposuction money and some grocery money too.

Although it is very hard for my non-vegetarian friends to wrap their heads around the fact that I do not eat meat after five years in this country, yes, not even chicken, not even fish.

It really isn’t all that difficult.

 

 

 

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I don’t get easily impressed when it comes to food, oh you can make bhindi masala or a quesadilla? good for you, so can a million other people. But I love fusion food, the east meets west or a little of Israeli couscous with idk maybe an Italian touch? Indian Chinese, which btw is pure finesse! The latest, Chinese watercress in an omelet (Smart and healthy!). 

All in all I like it when people do something innovative and create something I have never tasted nor predicted.

I had to be waiting on the 30th street train station, Philadelphia for a bus, around lunch, and since it was too hot outside to enjoy the city and not trying to risk getting sick, I decided to sit around with coffee and a book. After a while I decide to walk around. I come cross this place called Express Crêpe. Looking thru the menu, I came across “Paneer Tikka Crêpe”

WOW

Really?

I told them, “do your thing, and make it as Indian as you can!”

Well I savored it with the utmost delight, and the googler I am, I started googling the recipe right when I was eating it, figuring there is none online. I decided to go back to the shop and ask for one. Uh you know just in case a volcano emerged and erupted in that very spot and the shop got destroyed?

 Image

Ingredients

For the Crêpe

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
 For the Paneer Tikka:
1 Large block of Paneer (curd cheese)
1 onion
1 Capsicum
1 Tomato
Few Mushrooms
Finely chopped Coriander leaves
To Marinade:
1 tsp Garlic paste
1 tsp Ginger Paste
2 tsp Tandoori powder
1 tsp cumin (jeera) powder
2 tsp Chaat powder
Salt to taste
Red chili Powder to taste
 

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs. Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth.
  2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crepe. Tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.
  3. Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side. Serve hot.
  • Cut Paneer into long 1/2″ thick cubes.
  • Cut all vegetables into cubes.
  • Mix all ingredients for marinade and keep aside.
  • Add the left marinade to the vegetables. (typically in Paneer Tikka curd s used to marinade, but they didn’t use it here to prevent sogginess)
  • Brush the marinade to the paneer and refrigerate it for 3 hours.
  • Heat oil in a kadhai and fry marinated paneer till fully done.
  • Also fry other vegetables.
  • In a plate arrange fried vegetables and then paneer.

4. Now take the above and put it on your Crêpe

and vollllaaa

why this works?
well because Crêpes and Cheese do go together! they both lend a similar yet complimenting texture and character to each other! Here they used Paneer that is basically curd cheese and mostly made at home with lemon vinegar and milk (please google recipe). Its a win because it gives the necessary proteins and paneer is also one of the few cheese that doesn’t get you fat.

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For sometime, I forgot I was using a psyedoneum and I could really say it like it is.. so here it is, older generations from my culture are almost always accused of racism, and I am not denying that. But neither am I justifying it. They especially get their defenses up when their child wants to get married inter-racially. I will start of by what is a typical Indian parent’s mentality like. This is just a rough generalization.

Reasons they are Racist in general
1. They are too proud of their culture, once someone is convinced they are nothing but the best, everything else doesn seem to make any point of relevance

2. They have a society, and a social circle back home, wherein they have to answer probing questions about their kids. google: nosy indian relatives. This has not only caused problems outside the country but also within the country, when even inter-caste marriages happen. Google: Honor Killings

3. Xenophobia: They genuinely think their kids won’t be happy and their marriages won’t last, if they married inter-racially, because this person from another race doesn’t have anyone common with them to whom he/she is answerable for their bad behavior. It’s important for Indian parents that their children’s marriages sustain, because as parents they invest heavily in us. Even people with contemporary thinking, however humble, are still gonna pay for their children’s education and other expenses, in the periphery it might seem we are over-protected, but it’s also true we are expected to look after our parents when they get old.

4. They believe firmly in children after marriage, in India, the single mother deal, doesn’t cut it, at all. There is no way, this will be allowed, leave the parents aside, I will say this myself, I would never ever want to do that. Not only a kid is called a bastard, a father’s name is of utmost importance in the Indian culture.

5. They don’t trust people outside their sub-caste, so going inter-racial is a big deal.They fear mixing the races, would cause confusion in their future generations.

Additional reasons they are gonna be racist, when their kid brings in someone of African/Hispanic descent
6. Fairness is put on a higher pedestal, google : Fair and Lovely, this is the highest selling skin bleaching cream in India, it is sad but true, a lot of people in India equate beauty with fairness. This is a very ridiculous thing to do, specially when a lot of Indians are dusky themselves, I don’t support it, but this is how it is.

7. Africans/Hispanics are perceived as people who won’t stand by when the going might get tough.

8. There are very few Africans that are Hindus (85% of Indians are Hindus)

9. This is surprising but true, might seem of little relevance too, but the food you eat. A lot of Indians are vegetarians, and almost majority are non beef eaters. Although this is last on the list, but it is one of the things.

As a consolation, you do have a better chance if:
1. You come from a strong family, this means parents not divorced. Big factor. Similar family structure lends a credibility.

2. You have a good career, money doesn’t really drive Indian parents to approve, they just want a secure life for their kids.

3. You can show your respects.

4. If their child really loves you, has a career of their own. Even seemingly conservative parents try and understand their kids.

5. If they can somehow sense, you will be there.

PS: don’t worry about the person you are with, he/she are obviously not racist.

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They say it is not the destination, but the journey that makes all the difference. I also believe that mostly our experiences are subject to our state of mind and how receptive it is, you can’t send a lonely mind to a party or a lively one amid some serene place. Its all about matching you mood, and deriving the experiences hence. I took a train once, to Bangalore it was called holiday express, and trust me it was a holiday in itself. I guess that was my first journey alone, I needed time off from Delhi, and wanted a long vacation. I never really explain why I am doing certain things, its just that at that time I told my parents I needed inspiration. I can be very persuasive when really I want to be. Truth be told, I really was seeking inspiration, a change of scenery all for the heck of it. I was naive enough to think myself as some song-writer in those days.

I don’t really remember what day of the week it was, but definitely march, I sat in the train, I had got it booked since I thought I would be in bangalore in about 24 hours, with my calculation I was going to be there the following evening, as I sat there someone instigated a chat, it wasn’t long before I realized that I was actually gonna reach B’lore not the following evening, but that of the next day! too bad the train was already moving. I remember, at that point I thought maybe I should call up my parents and tell them to arrange a return ticket for me from the next station. Yet for some reason, I did not. Maybe the fifteen year old me was intrigued by that stranger sitting right across, who btw kept sleeping all the way and got down at mid-way. Damn! There goes my first love, I thought to myself. Haha I was just kidding. I didn’t call because I love trains, unlike planes well unless you travel first class, and I regularly can’t do that, in trains you have the liberty to move around. And lie on your back. There’s nothing better than that constant motion you experience in trains and ships. Its like our mothers cradling us, lovingly, putting us to a deep slumber. Whenever i come back from a cruise now, I can’t sleep normally in my bed, I am so used to the constant rocking of the ship. Same used to be when I used to travel trains. I hate how we have become too fast and too eager to get to the destinations these days, that no one really takes the train.

Although this train didn’t serve food, I relied on the station food, which was quiet pathetic, and ended up eating potato chips for 48 hours! Ofcourse diahrrea hit me once I reached B’lore. Bangalore is as unlike Delhi, as it can be. But you do get the burnt of being a north indian. This rivalry between the Aryans and the Dravidians doesn’t come as a surprise. it is expected, we all know it. But it does shake you a little when you experience it first hand. I had my first racist experience in Bangalore, I don’t revisit things that have disturbed me in the past. Zora Hurston once wrote in her book titled Their Eyes were watching God “Now, women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.” …so apt.. and truly true of woman. Woman are the best when it comes to fooling their hearts. Any which way, but I love bangalore nevertheless, the family I stayed with was an old intellectual one, I think interesting stories written by Ruskin Bond and such came from, looking at them. I have never felt so much at home and at ease anyplace else. In three days I left for Ooty, a small hill station in Tamil Nadu.

I can’t recollect for some reason, that wheather I took a plane, a train or hit the road to get there. But I got there. It truly is the queen of hill stations, my dad had booked a private cottage for me at the far end in the line, and my caretaker lived with me there to prepare meals and etc. I had never been any place more serene in my whole entire life. I remember sitting in that small courtyard upfront just trying to take in the mesmerizing view. It brought in an inner peace in me, and I was introduced to the finest home made coffee there was. The very kind lady who took care of me, would make masala papadm and delicious dals as if my senses weren’t on a grand feast already! Walking barefooted absorbing that morning dew, and breathing in an air so pure was like myy dream come true. Srinagar, later has only been one place that could come to the comparison of this. It was not about the beauty of this place, it was about the fact that it was untouched, not commercialized like many other places. It was quiet, sometimes so quiet inside the cottage that I could hear the sound of silence. I have never experienced that ever again. I stayed there for half a month, had to return to school. I still remember walking up the road accompanying her to buy the groceries for the house. Reading almost five novels in that short period of time, and actually contemplating distance learning and staying there for good.

Ofcourse, we have to wake up from our finest dreams. And so we do, jut so we can go in for better bigger experiences.

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