Sunday, July 22, 2012

The non existent culinary gene.


You know there is something called a culinary gene.  It is transmitted from the mother to the 'receptive' child in her womb. Unfortunately in my case, I’d been on indefinite strike when my Mother was trying to bestow those good genes and hence I was born (there was no other choice), and grew up to be a disgrace to every female in the family- in terms of cooking of course ;-).

Everyone takes food for granted. Because as far as the Indian male expectation goes, in every house, behind the relentless smoke and the stove there should be a female figure whose efforts will always be overseen. Everyone comes to the dining table expecting food, and never was it broken - everyone gulped down whatever was there, sometimes found absurd reasons to complain, washed their hands, burped and left. Noone cared about the number of onions that had to be peeled, washed and diced which were to be added in the right proportion and sauted for the right amount of time which was an important ingredient of the curry they ate. 

Later when I swapped roles to become this female figure who was expected to feed her family, I realized the actual pain behind the smoke and the stove. The effort from peeling an onion to making a curry, or rather the basic rules of cooking that one is expected to be born with. Being a south Indian, Idly is our staple food. Hot steamy idlis are a typical breakfast, which is also a convenient option when there are guests in the house, primarily because idly doesn’t need a lot of recipes or basic cooking knowledge to make. You have to pour the idly batter in the idly mould, close lid, and wait until the whistle comes or 15 minutes whichever happens first. 

When we were at Bangalore, all I knew was to make Dosas, which surprisingly came well for me - thanks to the days I sat at the kitchen holding my plate, eyes set on the tawa, mouth open and watery ,watching my Mom make paper thin Dosas with a touch of ghee. Droool..

Later I heard that Idlis were even easier than Dosas. Here is how one can easily mess up a day’s breakfast. So the idly mould was there, I smeared oil on it, and poured the right amount of batter and closed the lid. After fifteen minutes, I switched off the stove and opened the idli maker only to find the top row idlis to be in an edible form. The middle row was watery and the entire bottom row of idlis drowned ….and died.  Which means, there is something else to it - knowing how much water to pour inside the idli maker, that is what. Well, no one told me that did they?  (I am that female who missed the gene, remember?). Post this unfortunate incident, my mother and sister were so devastated … that they started feeling good about themselves. Knowing that there are people who can mess up something like idly which people like them can prepare in their sleep, boosted their self confidence at my cost.

But there is a determination factor to many things I did so far. So I went ahead and kept trying. Idlis soon became something I could make without errors. Even the bottom row, mind you!  Pepper chicken, channa, daal and even fish curry (after so many failed attempts, and no my husband hadn’t left me still) . Yes I have come a long way, but I am far from being an expert. Very far, that is. With work on one side and a toddler on the other, it is rather difficult to find time, but most weekends, I try something or the other to brush up my non existent skills. Isn’t that good enough? I even posted a cutlet recipe couple of months ago! I hope no one tried that out:-P

Anyway now I am determined. I am never going to be competition to my mother, grandmother or my sister in terms of culinary skills, but I will score a ‘not bad’ rating with hubby. Just wait and see, all of you jokers who are laughing at the screen now!


Sunday, July 15, 2012

A triangle of errors...


It was a cold rainy evening, when finally the hustle and bustle of a busy life seemed to part and Annie succumbed to a deserving solitude. She sat by the raindrop studded French windows, lost in thoughts. 
Thoughts,  which dint matter to her anymore.

Winding back to her college days was the last thing she ever wanted to do, but somehow the rainy evening took her to the doorsteps of that hostel room, the room which was undersized for two, which stood testimony to the rants and laughter of many friends. Especially, Diana.

She was still in touch with Diana, who wasn’t her roommate but her best friend. They shared every random thought that came to their minds. They were inseparable soul sisters who stood firmly by each other come what may. However it hurt when some people told her that Diana was not the person whom she thought she was.  But for her, it was like telling her that she was adopted. On those days when she fell sick, it was Diana who burnt the midnight oil checking on her, and made her rice soup..the days when Diana was a motherly figure to her. The least she did was to save Diana a space in her heart, right next to her parents and siblings, and established that water is sometimes blood thick.

She remembered that fateful morning when a casual conversation with the jovial and very mature batch mate Shilpa, led to a serious argument. The verbal argument may have stopped, but it continued even after she went back to her room, in the form of text messages. Of all the spiteful messages exchanged, she remembered that one message which came from Shilpa:, “Everyone knows about the affair Diana has with your classmate. But you don’t. And you call her your best friend?  Lol You don’t know you are a laughing stock yet”. It’s been at least 13 years since she got that message, she changed at least 5 mobile phones since and the message is long gone, but she remembered every word of it. She never questioned Diana and thus be the suspecting moron who doesn’t know that any relationship is built on trust. Or was it?

She recollected bits of instances when she felt Diana knew this classmate too well, but pretended not to take notice. She remembered the phone calls Diana made in her room and how she tactically ended them as soon as she entered. It happened too often to ignore. Was it friendship then, by any means? The fear of losing Diana to misunderstanding was huge and scary. But the thought of remaining a fool for the sake of losing someone was cowardice.

13 years. 
She remembered how it was she who started the argument with Shilpa and lost a good friend forever.  Thoughts whether she should try to make up with her stormed in her head, as the rain poured heavily on the window pane. Finally she made up her mind. She opened her laptop and typed a breezy, yet honest email to Shilpa fighting back any ego that came her way. Within a couple of days, came a heartwarming reply. Shilpa was equally touched and wanted to get back with her. Tears welled up her eyes as she read through Shilpa’s letter, and she assumed that she too must have cried as she typed it.

Annie closed her laptop, sat back and heaved a sigh of satisfaction that now she has no enemies as far as she could remember. Unless she wanted to create one. There is Diana and Shilpa. Continents apart, but they are there. It was a refreshing feeling, one that she hadn’t felt in a long time.

She closed her eyes, but sleep was not in the vicinity. Thoughts of being betrayed lingered in her heart. Did Diana hide the most important things from her and talk behind her back… when all she had was her and trusted her like no other? It was unbelievable. Or perhaps she dint want to believe it . Diana would never do that, would she…? She was caught in a whirlwind of contradictions. Is it the geographical distance that is making her doubt her best friend?  Shilpa was mature as a person, and even during an argument wouldn’t say anything untrue. All odds were against Diana. All those little incidents she ignored without questions. She couldn’t imagine being laughed at. She cried.

As she wiped her tears, she felt the rush of a fresh onset of thoughts in her mind. That Diana might have thought that she wouldn’t approve of her affair, and kept it secret for the fear of losing her. May be, Diana thought she was too precious to lose. May be. As the rain subsided, she lay back on that chair and noticed the clear sky. She breathed in the moist, fresh air and slowly drifted off to sleep.
 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The food path to happiness!


Its been over two years since I was uprooted from Bangalore and replanted in Muscat. I hated everything about Muscat initially, because I believed that Bangalore was an incomparable place. But then there is a destiny factor which plays the protagonist in our lives and we are the supporting actors who adhere to it. So two years down the line, I still miss my friend s in Bangalore, but I cant complain about Muscat too.

Although it took us long to settle down and find an amicable group to connect with, we found a cool place to hangout couple of miles from our home, quite early on. It is Camilia Turkish Restaurant, where we get the best Turkish Shewerma and Grilled Chicken, ever. I am not saying it is the best in the world ONLY because I haven’t been to a lot of places outside India, and hence do not have the proof enough to say it.

Now Camilia is the best thing that happened to us I must say. Every week, we have dinner there atleast once. To top it, we also get fresh juices ! What else does one need in the scorching Gulf summers!
Camilia is also reasonably priced, has open air as well as roofed air conditioned space, and very friendly staff. Although it is a casual outlet and one wouldn’t choose it for a birthday or anniversary dinner, hubby and me are happiest at Camilia and would prefer it over any high profile restaurants around. My one year old also enjoys the hot French fries they serve with the chicken!

So what I am trying to say is, wherever destiny takes you, just find a good place to hang out and most importantly to EAT, and you will be happy.

Here is a picture of the salt and pepper mills at Camilia – can these get any more creative? How cute!