A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Archive for February, 2015

Please help?

Posted by Pepper on February 27, 2015

People of the internet, can you help me please? Something seems to be up with WordPress. I am unable to comment on wordpress hosted blogs about 80% of the time. It is very frustrating, because I am not the kind who comments just for the sake of it. I rarely type comments with only a smiley, or a ‘Haha, nice post’. When I comment, I usually take the pain to elaborately construct and lay out my thoughts. When I hit enter, these thoughts disappear. There is no trace left. Neither does my comment get published, nor does it tell me that it is ‘Awaiting moderation’.

At first, I thought I lost internet connectivity the moment I hit ‘post comment’. Of course, it was too much of a coincidence to happen all the time. After rechecking, I concluded that my internet connection was fine. For some time after that, I hoped my lost comments would magically reappear, but nope, they are truly gone. Sometimes I painstakingly type out the comment again, sometimes I mutter bhaad main jao.  It’s good to ask wordpress to go to hell, because most times the comments disappear even after typing them out a second time. Or third.

Does anybody know what the hell is going on? Sure, I manage to publish my comments sometimes, but those times are rare. When I do succeed, I feel like I have attained victory. Quite crazy. Can anybody help me fix this?

Posted in Er-rant-ic behaviour | 12 Comments »

The Food Tag

Posted by Pepper on February 23, 2015

I’ve been eyeing this food tag that Vidhya came up with a while ago. And because I want to write a lighthearted post and because food is one of the very few things I am passionate about in life, it seems appropriate to take this up. Here we go. Food makes me ramble on, you are warned..

What is the first dish that you cooked?
Paneer Anardana. It was a delicacy prepared with fresh cottage cheese and dried pomegranate seeds. It was a preparation I saw in a recipe book. I had a lot of spare time after my 10th grade board exams and I was pouring over recipe books. But at that point, I didn’t even know the right way to hold a knife, let alone ‘finely chop’ onions. So the first dish I prepared without any assistance was not exactly spectacular. The onions weren’t browned, all veggie pieces were uneven and the general taste was very blah. I still remember my parents eating it with great relish and making me feel exceptionally proud of my creation.

What is the first dish that you cooked for your better half? (If you are not married, you can tell us what you are planning to cook for him/her)?
The first dish I cooked for Mint was when he was visiting me in UK. Unfortunately, I didn’t exactly know ‘how to cook’ at that time. Every time we wanted a full blown Indian meal, P would cook and I would only assist with the chopping. Other than that, I survived on sandwiches, salads and other packeted pastas and ready meals bought from Tesco.

This is the dish I came up with one time when both Mint and I were sick of eating out and consuming store bought meals at home. I pressure cooked whole green moong dal until it was a soft wholesome mash. To this I added heaps of red chili powder, coriander powder, raw mango powder, turmeric and ofcourse, salt. Then I chopped onions, carrots and cucumbers and tipped them into the dal. We then ate it with store bought chapatis and it was a terrific meal. I have introduced this version of the moong dal to my friends, mom, mil and the entire world loves it. The trick is to NOT COOK too much. Boiling the dal is the only cooking you actually do. The raw flavours of the fresh masalas and the chopped veggies are what give it a kick.

This was quite a fluke invention that happened only because Mint was visiting me at that time, but it has gone on to become a popular meal in our home.

Which food were you reserved to try first but then liked later it since you acquired the taste?
Caramel popcorn. In my head, popcorn was always supposed to be salty and maybe, cheesy. I couldn’t imagine how a sweet flavour would blend with it, so I refrained from trying it for the longest time. Once I did, I really enjoyed the mild sweetness and the added crunch the caramel coating imparts to the popcorn.

What is your comfort food?
Undoubtedly, the toor dal my mom makes, teamed with steaming rice and simple potato fry sprinkled with the fat chunky variety of chili powder.

Which dish of yours you like the best?
This keeps changing. At present, I like the slow roasted tomato and basil pasta I whip up. I also like the peanut noodles and lemon tarts I sometimes make. At one time, both Mint and I enjoyed the dry aloo gobhi and the chole I made. It’s been a long time since I cooked these.

Which dish of yours your family likes the best?
Sambhar. My family, including my sambhar snob South Indian husband, is quite crazy about the sambhar I make. I learnt the procedure from my MIL. And this girl taught me how to make the sambhar podi. It all started with her scoffing at me when I asked her where she sourced her sambhar powder from. When she told me she makes a fresh batch each time she makes sambhar, it was eye opening for me. I was all inspired. I took notes of the proportion she uses and started making fresh sambhar powder each time I made sambhar too. The results are fabulous. Thank you, Revs!

What is your favorite street food?
I usually avoid roadside chaat. The water used in the chutneys makes me a bit unsure. My streetside favourites would include the veg cheese toasts that are sold by small vendors on the streets of Mumbai. These toasts are grilled on smoking hot coal. They are  smeared with molten butter and sev on top. Other than that, I also love the spicy egg burjis and buttered pavs that is a late night, road side speciality of this city.

Tell us about any of your kitchen disaster story.
I stopped cooking regularly ever since I moved back to India. So I do not recall too many recent disasters. Despite that, I have managed to accomplish a few feats. I have burnt the food along with the cooker several times, sometime ago I added lemon tang instead of salt to the noodles I was making.

My favourite one however is the one in which I made the kitchen flood with white frothy lather by adding fabric detergent in the dish washer instead of the dish washer gel. 

Any one or two food confessions 😉 😉
1) When I am hungry, I need to eat something spicy or savory. I cannot wrap my head around eating something sweet when I am starving.

2) I avoid drinking water immediately after consuming yogurt. Even if I end my meal with yogurt, I always have a spoonful of something else and only then drink water.

Apart from basic stuff, like milk, yogurt, veggies what you have in your fridge or in pantry? (Name any 3 items)
Usual stuff I suspect. I quick glance showed me bottles of hot sauce, idli batter, beer, jar of peanut butter, container of mango pickle, cheese, eggs, red garlic chutney, stock of pulses and other stuff I can’t remember.

Any food related or cooking resolutions for this year?
I wish to eat out less. I would like to add more variety to our breakfast menu. I wish to healthify our diet. And oh, I really wish to take to baking. Something I’ve been wanting to do forever, but put off for reasons unknown.

In our custom when you go to Kasi, you need to give up one of your favorite veggie and fruit. So you cannot eat that veggie or fruit from then on. Which one you would you give up? (It should be your favorite one)
Damn, do I have to do this? I most likely wouldn’t. But if I was held at gun point and asked to let go of a favoutie veggie and fruit, I would choose brinjal and litchi. Sigh..

You need to prepare a 3 course meal for a party? What dishes will be there in your menu?
Instead of answering the question directly and stating would I would have on my menu, I will deviate a bit and talk about what I usually have on my menu. Since some of you bloggie buddies have come home for dinner, you will know that I usually lay out some home made dips, either hummus or a hung curd and mint dip. I typically serve this with chips, sticks of carrots and cucumbers and store bought lavash or pita bread. Since we recently bought a tandoor and are trying to not feel guilty about the purchase by making sure we use it enough, I would now try to throw in some tandoori starters. Either paneer, or baby potatoes, or mushrooms or if Mint is cooking, then chicken.

I usually play safe with main course and go in for typical items like a mixed veg pulav, raita, rotis and a paneer gravy. I also like to add a dry dish but more often than not I drop it because of a last minute fight I have with Mint in which he gets mad at me for overdoing stuff. Again,we throw in a chicken /fish curry depending on the food preferences of the guests and Mint’s ability to cook. If the guests are not desi, then it is either a pasta or a bake with a chosen salad and garlic bread. Other than that, I always resort to store bought dessert. Either gulab jamuns or ice-cream cakes, depending on the menu and the audience.

This was so much fun. Thank you, Vidhya!

Posted in Tags | 29 Comments »

That frightening phase

Posted by Pepper on February 19, 2015

I thought I was on the brink of insanity. I wasn’t sure I would survive that phase. Here is summary of all that happened after my last post. My dad was suffering in the hospital. After grimacing through the pain for over 72 hours, the doctors decided to use surgical intervention. The surgery by itself seemed to be a piece of cake. It was quite painless, and his abdomen pain too disappeared right after. But his kidney function was severely affected. His creatinine levels were high and the doctors told us the kidneys were not functioning in their full capacity. That was causing us tremendous stress. Like I have mentioned, my family is terrified of kidney ailments because of our past history.

The doctors decided to keep him in the hospital till his kidney function improved. I’m not sure why, but the improvement seemed to take forever. The hospital stay was painful. We had to share a room with another patient, an old man, 87 years of age. He would groan through the night. It was depressing. When I think of it now, I realise that it wasn’t just my dad’s hospitalisation. We were carrying with us the past trauma of daddy’s very recent hospitalization and subsequent passing. And since it was immediately followed by dad’s hospitalisation, I had begun to hate hospitals with a passion.

Work was killing me. I tried my best to effectively divide my time between the hospital and my office. My mom would mostly stay with dad at night. I spent half of my day there, with him. One day as I was padding across the hospital room bare footed, I stepped onto a glass splinter. I felt the jab. Since there was no blood, I ignored it. What was I thinking? I don’t know. All I know is that I felt a sharp pain each time I put my weight on my right foot, where the splinter was. After 2 days, the pain was too severe to ignore. So I got my foot checked. The doctor showed me the puss and infection that my negligence had caused. The splinter was also pushed in too deep. So they had to remove it with a small surgical procedure. I was asked to rest after that, but I certainly didn’t the luxury at that time to sit back with my feet up. So I limped around with a huge bandage for days. This made me more miserable and I wondered how it could all go wrong like that. I was tired, mentally, physically, emotionally. I felt sick. Work gave me no respite. And the hospital was driving me mad.

After enduring all that crap, they decided to discharge my dad although his kidney function was still not fully up to the mark. I was anxious, but happy nevertheless. They asked us to follow up with other doctors eventually. Atleast we would be home now. By the time we completed all the discharge formalities and got home, it was evening. I was so exhausted, I thought I would finally try and calm my nerves, watch a movie to lighten the mood and then go to bed. Clearly, I wasn’t asking for too much. Just a quiet evening to myself.

Just when I settled down on the couch, I got a call from Mint. He asked me to come downstairs. That is when he told me with much trepidation that he had injured his knee. He was playing soccer with his colleagues after work and one of them rammed into the side of Mint’s knee with full force. I broke down. In between sobs I kept asking Mint why he had to do that to me. Why did he have to play soccer and put himself at risk? Clearly, I wasn’t making much sense, but do you blame me? Mint kept apologising to me and told me he was terrified of breaking the news to me.

Right after, I was back to the place I hated the most. The hospital. I wondered again how it could happen. My dad had just been discharged that day. And now I was back in the hospital for Mint? While we were waiting to meet the Orthopedic surgeon, I got a call from my sis saying that dad was feeling extremely sick. Really, that is when I thought I would pass out myself. I was worried, would we have to take my dad to the hospital again? What would the doctor say for Mint?

We decided to give dad a day’s time and thankfully, his health improved. The orthopedic surgeon asked Mint to get an MRI done. He was worried it was a ligament tear. In which case, he would need a surgery to get it fixed. While the doctor was suspecting a ligament tear, he did not anticipate a bone injury. That is what the MRI reports showed. Bone contusion. The doctor held up the MRI films and showed us the areas where it had occurred. He also explained to us how the bone marrow fluid had leaked. They didn’t think an immediate surgery was required (Thank you, God), but Mint was asked to cut down all physical activity and wear a knee brace. Ever since, he avoids driving, he doesn’t walk or put weight on his injured knee unless required and he has been working from home since the past few weeks.  We need to have a follow up appointment with the surgeon and discuss what lies ahead.

Right in the midst of this, the sister and I had a couple of episodes wherein we fell quite ill. It all seemed endless and depressing. It has been a week now, and that mad phase seems to be over. Dad is much better. His kidney function has improved drastically. Mint has started moving out. The sister and I are okay. Work is still crazy, but I just need to manage work related stress better. I am slowly learning to disconnect after putting in x hours. Life is gradually creeping back to ‘normal’, and I can’t tell you how much I cherish this normalcy. Thank you for all your comments and concerned emails. Hopefully, I will get back to blogging soon. See you.

Posted in Slices of life | 67 Comments »

 
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