Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Shape Of Puddings To Come

This past week, weird and unlikely things happened to me.

I saw (and ate) green chaklis

A khakra arranged itself like the crescent moon

My niece told me she wanted a "snake cake" for her third birthday and certain promises (from the tailor, the electrician) were kept. I wanted to not go to work at least one day this week but kept accepting various assignments that came my way, despite myself. I also made fair use of two mangoes that The Spouse bought the previous week.

The skin of one of them was just beginning to pucker so I told him to put them on the dining table so that we couldn't miss them when we walked in from work. Increasingly, the thought of merely peeling, slicing and dicing them and eating them as a pre-good night's sleep snack in a cool air-conditioned room seemed less appealing than a hot morning spent making mango payasam. (I have a sadomasochistic streak, I suppose.)

Over that sleepless night, though, I discovered I didn't really want to make mango payasam if it involved looking up recipes, measures, proportions and the rest of that stuff. I did try, half-heartedly, but gave up soon enough. After all, what was the guarantee that I'd have all the ingredients? I wanted to use up the tin of condensed milk that I have but I really didn't feel like braving a rice and mango combination in oversweet milk, nor did I want to wrestle with the thought of how much ordinary milk I should use and how I should use the rest of the condensed milk because the recipes didn't call for an entire tin.

But there was Mikcee and it has been rather neglected since I bought it a month ago. A mikcee being used just four times in a month in a South Indian home? Shameful! A new mikcee at that? Shameful and worse! It was time I gave it its due.

But I wasn't done with the payasam yearning just yet. All these confused feelings - thrift (use up mangoes, condensed milk, mikcee), craving (dessert, Indian flavour) and novelty (it had to be different) culminated in this ... pudding, shall we call it? Glop is more like it but that's what happened after it stayed in the fridge for hours - when I beat it in the mikcee, it attained this pneumatic, souffle-like quality that had me wonder at my unlikely and rare potential for serendipitous happenings. (If only I knew it was going to be shortlived and fall flat, I wouldn't have wasted any grey cells marvelling and feeling grateful.)

Glop connotes something unappetising but this isn't so boring, and it was tasty, and it is summer and you should have mango-something, so here's how you go about it:

Milk: 1/2 litre (500 ml)
Mango pulp: 1 cup
Sugar: 4 tbsp
Semolina/Rava/sooji: 1-2 tbsp
Ghee/clarified butter: 1-2 tsp
Cardamom: 1, heated and crushed/powdered

Boil the milk well. Turn the heat down completely, stir in the sugar and let it dissolve.

Meanwhile, heat the ghee and fry the semolina lightly. Turn off the heat and add this to the milk. Mix well but gently till milk thickens. Add the cardamom/powder.

Turn off the heat and cool it completely.

Add the mango pulp to the milk-semolina mixture and whiz in the mixer.


By the way, did you notice the mango shape inside the green chakli? Quite season- and situation-appropriate, don't you think?

Here's the second of the promised five links to Haritha's blog. (I know, I missed out three posts in between, but I don't think it's fair to retrofit them into old posts.)

Don't forget Of Chalks and Chopsticks - get that imagination working and send me your entries by May 31.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Slap of Paneer & How I Moved My Cheese - Again

Recently, I got a new mikcee. A no-frills, three-jar affair which doesn't even have a jooser. As fate would have it, I've used it very little in the three weeks since I bought it.

A few days later, during my weekly shopping for vegetables, I saw nicely sliced jikini in the store - this store cuts and packs some vegetables everyday but as I almost always go there on Sunday evening, I rayrely buy them as I no longer like to store them in the fridge for whenever I next cook, which could be too days later or five days later. This time, I couldn't help myself, I bought the pack.

I also had a slap of paneer, a couple of carrots and I don't remember what else, the photo may offer some cluse.

I had coriander and I knew there were some kashyoos in the fridge. I had also seen some fresh red chiles in the store so those were there too.

So I desided to make a miksed vegetable currry - and I could test the mikcee too. After all, hadn't I bought it after a lot of research - all the Internet opinion slammed it but real-world opinion was dayametrically opposite so I went for it.

Mixed Up Paneer And Vegetable Curry

Paneer/Cottage Cheese, cubed - 250 gm
Zucchini, diced - 2 cups
Carrots, diced - less than a cup

Cumin - 1 tsp
Oil - 2 tsp
Salt - To taste

Grind the following to a fine paste with a little water (only as much as you want):
Coriander - 1/2 a cup
Cashewnuts - 10-12/a fistful, soaked for a little while
Fresh red chillies - 2

Heat the oil and pop the cumin.

Lightly fry the paneer and then add the zucchini and carrot. Saute for a couple of minutes

Turn the heat down, sprinkle a little water and cover and let it cook till done (but I wouldn't want my zucchini to be shapeless).

Then, add the salt and the ground paste/liquid, whatever it has become.

Turn the heat up just a tad, mix well and simmer for a minute or two.


Don't forget Of Chalks and Chopsticks - get that imagination working and send me your entries by May 31.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Of Facts, Fiction, Food, Chalks & Chopsticks

In the last few months, a few things happened that were rather stranger than fiction: Long-ago people I was busily and blithely investigating on the Internet got in touch; The Spouse misplaced his mobile phone only to find it on the slope of his car roof, after a 45-minute journey; and for the first time ever, in my entire life, someone told me I looked like the Telugu film heroines of yesteryear. I exchanged my 8-year-old-but-mint-condition fancy food processor for Rs 900 off on a no-frills mixie and wondered if it would ever forgive me for sending it away and almost checked it to see if it was shedding tears. It may be inanimate but couldn't it not have soul?

I'm sure I'm deeply empathetic and highly sensitive but when these qualities cross over into physics and metaphysics, I know it's high time I stuck to something more real. Like rolling up my sleeves and making a better effort at my blog posts, which have been less voluble and more infrequent. I've been missing Of Chalks & Chopsticks, the food fiction event that was Aqua's idea. Some discussion with her, Desi Soccer Mom and BongMom yielded an enthusiastic response and another idea - how about giving participants a picture, or a set of words that can be used in the story they are going to write?

So here it is: This is the picture that you will use for your story. It's up to you to use it or not in your post, but if you do, please mention that it's mine. It's my photo and the copyright to it is mine.

And here are some more rules, most of them copied from Aqua's page:

1. Spin us a yarn - an original one. It could either be based on a real incident or could be something competely imaginary. Explore any genre: humour, romance, mystery, paranormal etc.

2. The story you write has to have some food - it doesn't have to be a recipe.

3. There is no word limit on the story you write, but it has to be written in one single post.

4. Posts written for this event CAN be shared with other events.

5. Please link to this post and Aqua's original post mentioned above.

Post your story and the recipe between now and May 31 and mail it to me at: srablog (at)gmail(dot)com

Include the following details in your mail:

1. Name and URL of your blog

2. Title and URL of your post

I have a reputation for being a strict host and I fully intend to maintain it, so if you have any questions about the event, please leave a comment here, I will answer it and clarify the rules if need be. Happy imagining!

And here's the second of my five promised links to Haritha.