My parents are here!
And that is why the absence from blogosphere.
And that is why I am posting GMT on a Wednesday, instead of the usual Tuesday.
Well, its the first time my parents are visiting me.
I was and am super excited about it!
They have been here in my house for only two days, and already the house is looking so much cleaner.
Sri Krishna taught us Karma Yoga. He strongly dictated in Gita that a man is bound to get the fruits of his actions. If he has done good actions/deeds throughout his life, he will get good results. Karma yoga is action (karma) performed without expectations or thought of reward. This selfless service of karma yoga is the path by which the mind is most quickly purified and its limits transcended.
Growing up as a Sikh, Janmashtami was just another holiday for me. But for V, a Hindu, its always been an important festival. His parents keep a fast the whole day on Janamasthami, only breaking it after offering prayers to Lord Krishna around midnight.
Though I did not keep a fast, I did not eat anything till I took a bath and first offered some food to the idol of Lord Krishna (I know that’s no feat but I thought I’ll mention it nonetheless 🙂 ). Sweets and desserts are the most preferred dishes for Janamashtami offerings, because Lord Krishna was known for his sweet tooth and generally some kind of kheer or Halwa is offered to him.
Halwa is a popular Indian dessert made from various kinds of fruits, vegetables, grains and lentils. If using fruits in Halwa, they are grated finely and fried in ghee and sugar. Nuts and milk may also be added. Halwas have the consistency of a very thick pudding.
My trials with halwa making haven’t been too great. In the past I have tried making Sooji Halwa (made from semolina), one of V’s favorite desserts. The first time was a disaster and the timing of it couldn’t have been more perfect (read about that disaster here). Of course now I have a failproof recipe for Sooji ka halwa.
This time I thought I would make halwa from whole wheat flour- atte ka halwa (atta/atte is the hindi word for whole wheat flour). Personally, I prefer the whole wheat one to the semolina one, probably because that was generally what my mom made and carries with it a lot of memories.
After my 10th standard exams, my dad got posted to Delhi. Now 10th and 12th are crucial years for Indian students- the Board exam years. So when my dad got posted to Jaisalmer, (Rajasthan) during my 12th standard, in the middle of the school year, my mom decided to stay back with me in Delhi, and join him after I was done with my exams.
Now, like me, my mom used to get lazy to cook elaborate meals with my dad not there. Plus, I was fine with eating easier to cook one dish meals like parantha, and rajma chawal. And for dessert, almost everyday, both she and I would have atte ka halwa. She would just make enough for the two of us, with each serving consisting of 5-6 bites. But she would make sure it was made properly, with no skimping on the amount of ghee. It was a thing my mom and I shared and I will always treasure those afternoons for the fun we used to have eating and enjoying the halwa she made.
“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”
While we celebrated India’s birthday (our country has completed 64 years of Independence), the culinary world was celebrating the birthday of one of the most famous personalities where food is concerned- Julia Child. She is the most prominent figure in revolutionizing America’s culinary scene, bridging the gap between the home kitchen and the professional one. For Mrs. Child, mistakes were not the end of the world, just part of the game. I guess even the big boom in food blogging can be attributed to Julia Child and the admiration that one person had for Julia Child’s cookbook. Julie Powell’s Salon blog may be the first cook-through blog. And of course, the movie itself introduced a lot of people to the food blogging world.
We have a lot to thank Julia Child for. Mostly, gratitude is due for the inspiration she gave to us home cooks to follow our passion and not to give up on something we are passionate about. Julia Child began learning to cook when she was thirty-seven years old. That in itself should be a testimony to the fact : It’s never too late to follow your dreams!
The other day, when my friend Ram Pyaari asked me to do a guest post for her blog, I was more than thrilled.
Imagine, someone else wants my random blabbering on their blog, and that too, someone who is the author of an upcoming book (translation: knows what writing is all about, unlike me who just goes on and on in unwinding sentences, mostly boring people with my mundane housewife life.)
Yup, I was beyond thrilled. Of course, a few seconds later I had nervous sweat beeds all over my face.
If I am writing on a writer’s blog– I have to do a really good post. And there was this 50 kg load on my brain- and I was busy scouting for ideas that would result in an interesting blog post- worthy enough to be put on a writer’s blog. But then Ram Pyaari assured me its my random blabbering that she wants on her blog, along with a recipe of course.
Poor thing, what can I say, she really did ask for it!
My first thought was to share my experience of the first thing I made at my in-laws place right after I got married- halwa!
What a disaster it was!
Luckily, my in-laws weren’t at home when the kitchen catastrophe happened and more luckily enough, their cook was, who came to my rescue and made a great halwa. I masqueraded that as mine and scored brownie points! Well, actually I did not. The honest-me could not take credit for someone else’s work and told them the truth. Well, we all had a good laugh. They liked that I made an effort in the kitchen, knowing very well I had not cooked at all before. Yup, I did score brownie points after all!
But, then today when I started writing the guest post, I wanted to write something else. Also, I had made this lotus root curry that I wanted to post about for Garam Masala Tuesdays. So, I scrapped the original plan and since Ram Pyaari’s book revolves around arranged marriages I thought I’ll tell my “arranged” marriage story today.
Parantha is nothing but a flat bread. Its an unleavened dough made from whole wheat flour and cooked on a tawa/skillet. Paranthas can be made plain or stuffed and aloo (potato) is most popular when it comes to stuffing paranthas. Paranthas can be eaten just like that, on their own, but a really good way to eat is to pair the paranthas with yogurt/curd and your favorite pickle. Aloo paratha is a great one-dish meal for the family that can be served anytime of the day!
The best paranthas that you will ever find are served in small shops on the roadsides, called dhabas. Some of the best ones I have had, were outside the GE call center (BPO) in Gurgaon, India. The first time I had a parantha there, was when I was an undergrad and my cousin and his then girlfriend (now wife :)) took me and my brother out partying. After a fun night, my cousin took us to this dhaba for paranthas. Even at 2am the place was crowded with people. My cousin ordered aloo paranthas for us and after a brief wait, a small boy came with our plates of paranthas with a cube of melting butter on top. The parantha was huge and I was sure I would end up wasting it- but one bite and I could not stop myself. I had to really restrain myself to not order another. I did take a few more bites from my brother’s second parantha! Well, I could afford it then!
The second best I have had were when my senior sneaked us out from our hostel during my first year in undergrad and took us to a dhaba next to the IGI airport, Delhi. You should all know Delhi is not a safe place for woman, even during the day and at night time it gets worse. So there we were- just us girls out at 2 at night in a place that was full of scary truck drivers, waiting for our paranthas. And boy, were they worth it. I would still not recommend any girl to go their alone- it did not look like a safe place. But, if you have bodyguards with you, do pay this place a visit!
So, I had an awesome 4th of July weekend. We went to the Grand Canyon. Spent the night in Sedona. Had a day trip to Flagstaff. Watched a Bollywood movie and thoroughly enjoyed it. Saw Transformers: Dark Side of the moon. Weren’t too impressed by it. On our way back home, got caught in a major dust storm and thunder showers. Overall, a tiring but fun weekend.
The weekend started with a night out with my girlfriends.
Now, the thing about me is that I just can’t hold my alcohol. My drinking capacity on most days is just a glass of wine. On certain days its a little more. But, most of the days its just one glass. When my body is a little brave, I can hold in 2-3 glasses. But, some god-forsaken days, I try to be braver than usual. And those days are followed the next day by a very horrible, sickening feeling called a hangover! The girls’ night out was one such day- where not only was I braver than usual, I was trying to be smart as well and mixed my drinks! Now, mixing drinks is a no-no especially if you want to avoid really bad hangovers. But, that night I tried to act too smart with my alcohol. And like anyone who tries to act too smart but actually isn’t- I fell down real bad the next day.