Monday, May 31, 2010

Were You Looking For Me?

It's a long time since I listed the keywords/ search terms people find me by. Here are some gems from the past few months. I find them funny because I'm sure some very earnest, solemn soul sat at a computer and chose these combinations of words, probably unaware that they would strike others as amusing

1. Fish pickle project report - which sent them here

2. How to make traditional AFAM soup (AFAM being the monthly fruit event started by Maheswari about three years ago)

3. Red coloured creeper, small bunch flower

4. Showered with raisins and nuts - here

5. Words for pickles in my soup

6. Blogs about a doctor, the wiz and old chopsticks

7. Colour coming out of black beans

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Quinoa - A Love Story

It was late evening and Sri, who had just come back from work, was washing the quinoa thoroughly. That involved quite a bit of dexterity, the way She would have it. It had been almost a year since she brought it back with her from her vacation abroad, and life had begun to take form, little black creepy-crawlies making their way among those pale brown grains. She had almost lost it when she saw him squeezing the quinoa well under water. "Sri!", she had screamed, "You're going to squish all the insects, just run water over it several times till they all float up and pour it away, then maybe you can wash it vigorously. Call yourself a most intelligent guy but I have to instruct you in the most common of sense!" she said, her face all twisted in irritation.

Sri opened his mouth to yell back but closed it as a tidal wave of dejection washed over him. Why why why had he said yes to this girl? What had possessed him? He should have read the warning signs. At what was supposed to be a romantic evening on the beach soon after they got engaged, she told him she couldn't and wouldn't cook breakfast and other meals as per convention. Well, it must have been romantic, because all caution and instincts of self-preservation deserted him and he leapt to the occasion and told her, "Why bother about all that, I can cook and I'm not particular about traditional breakfasts."

But she had tried, that one year that she couldn't work because of the shift - mango milkshake, just mango, something or the other ... and he had rejected a series of whatever she offered - cereal, upma, cornflakes ... And then she had begun working and life had been fine as they had had a cook for most part. Then they moved again and decided a cook was a luxury ...

But they had had fun, hadn't they? Even though there were times when she wasn't suitably appreciative ... "All you've done is dunk paneer and peas in a pack of tomato puree and heat it up," she would cry; at other times, he was "the most thoughtful spouse ever, thank God you aren't like my friends' husbands!" They had kneaded flour, experimented with yeast, made naans and sheermals, grilled paneer, fried breaded chicken, laid out five-course meals for friends and family. Where had all that gone?

They had gotten older and busier. More world-weary. And while food wasn't the last thing on their minds, and they had learnt a lot more about it, its preparation at the end of the day was a chore. It was past 9 p.m. Why couldn't they just go out to dinner? When would this quinoa boil, when would the entire salad be put together and when, finally, would they have dinner and would he be able to play Hearts on the computer?


Her voice interrupted his reverie and he hurriedly filled the bowl of quinoa with some more water to give it another rinse. "You're still at it, Sri? Just finish with it and spread it out in a plate to dry."

"What do you mean? This has to dry before we make the salad?"

"Well, of course!"

"So when will we have dinner?"

"Whenever you want!"

"What about the kinowa?"

"It's keenwah. Keen-wah. Get it? I told you that twice already."

"Alright, keenwah. What about the darn salad?"

"The darn salad is for the darn blog. It's for tomorrow. Finish up and come soon - I've brought fried chicken and chocolate mousse and ice-cream, they're waiting."

Healthy and hurry don't go together. She understands!

It was hard to tell which came first - the rush of joy at the mention of that unabashedly unwholesome menu or the sigh of relief that the salad could be put off! Or was it neither of these but a surge of love, coupled with the reassurance that he had chosen right, after all?

This piece of fiction goes to Bong Mom, who's hosting Of Chalks and Chopsticks, Aqua's idea.

The original recipe came from here.

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
2 cups frozen shelled peas, thawed
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
Red peppers or de-seeded red chillies - I used pickled red chillies but washed them clean before I used them.
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds

Toast quinoa in a pan over medium heat, stirring often, until it begins to pop, about five minutes. Transfer to a fine sieve and rinse thoroughly.

Boil the water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the quinoa and return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for eight minutes. Remove the lid and, without disturbing the quinoa, add the peas. Cook another 7-8 minutes, until the peas and quinoa are tender. Drain any remaining water.

Whisk lemon zest and juice, oil, coriander and salt in a large bowl. Add the chillies and the quinoa mixture. Toss to combine. Top with toasted sunflower seeds.

As it contains a substantial amount of legumes, I'm also sending it to My Legume Love Affair 23

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Salad Days

It's often the very small things in life that can make you feel wildly happy.

(Ah yes, the armchair philosopher has begun spouting Wisdom for the Week - but do humour her - just as you would a rather green-behind-the ears DJ on a music channel proffering love and life advice - it's just some home-spun experience extrapolated to a world, nay, universal view ...)

Well, yes, how would you account for the fact that one of life's happiest moments, perhaps the only one, was when she discovered how to get dry yeast to work?

And the second happiest moment, just a few days ago, when she discovered her favourite brand of frozen (cleaned and deveined) prawns had made a comeback?

And the third happiest moment was when she discovered that she had refrigerated the avocado at the perfectly ripe moment so much so that when she cut through it, there was a paragon of green, glossy, buttery perfection in her hand?

Out went plans for an avocado, papaya, tomato salsa, in came what we shall now call a 'shrimp' and avocado salad. By the way, the difference between a shrimp and a prawn is this. (But I didn't go through it because it seemed boring, and who knows, my prawns might have been shrimp anyway!)

(It's a synthesis of various recipes I found on the Net, try as I might, I cannot zero in on the two I synthesised.)

But enough of meandering, here's how this impressing-friends salad is made!

Shrimp 500 gm
Oil: 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder: 1 tsp
Garlic, minced: 2 tsp
Salt, a pinch

Avocado: One, diced (sprinkle lime juice all over immediately to prevent browning)
Hard-boiled eggs: 3, cubed
Tomatoes, de-seeded and julienned: 1 cup
Carrots, julienned: 1 cup

Olive oil: 3 tbsp
Lime juice: 4 tbsp
Sesame oil: 1 tbsp
Crushed black pepper

Stir fry the shrimp/prawns in the oil with the ingredients for just 2 minutes.

Now add the tomatoes, eggs and carrots.

Whisk the dressing ingredients well and pour over the salad.

Mix well, but with a light hand so that the eggs don't disintegrate.


This salad goes off to Marija of Palachinka, who's hosting Kalyn's WHB this week.

In other matters, the second edition of Chalks and Chopsticks, Aquadaze's idea, has rolled around and the Bong Mom is waiting for you to spin your yarns and send them to her. Go on, do that and delight all of us, yours truly is a co-host.