Pasta in creamy garlicky sauce

Pasta in creamy, garlicky sauce

Last week, my friends and I put to test one of our beloved childhood love-tests – FLAMES. If you’ve never heard about this ingenious little game then I am sorry to say you’ve really missed it. For you poor fellows, let me explain this path-breaking logic. You write down your name and your favourite person’s name and strike out all the common letters. Then you count up the remaining number of letters, say n. You then write the word “FLAMES” and strike out the nth letter. You keep going with the remaining letters until you have just the one letter remaining and that one letter is your relationship with that person – F – friends, L – Love, A – Affection, M – Marriage, E – Enemy and S – sister. Now that we’re married, if the test really works, the test should give an “M” for a married couple. As you rightly guessed, none of the real-life couples got an “M”. One theory that seemed to support this result was that none of the couples had any business being married to each other. All of us agreed to this at some level. The other theory is that there is no one absolute right path. There are multiple paths and we happen to have married ­­one of the possible candidates. The third theory is that FLAMES is bullshit which we were not ready to accept just yet. We continued to check our compatibility with some of our other favourite people. With Thalapathi Vijay, I get an F – friend and I am happy with that. Come to think of it, I need not have been as worried in college when my name didn’t go with the cute guy’s in the other class. It didn’t have to, for me to go talk to him. We’re always trying to find reasons for not doing the things we’re scared of doing. We’re afraid of failing, of being embarrassed, of being rebuffed. We should try anyways. We’ll laugh later about what stopped us today. It may be a formal degree, someone’s approval, public opinion, past mistakes, caution… I hope I managed to say something profound from all of that. You need some breathtaking pasta while you try FLAMES with all your favourite people. I made this creamy, garlicky, parmesan kissed pasta last week. I kid you not when I say that all seven people...
Chicken tortilla wraps

Chicken Tortilla wraps

These tortilla chicken wraps are unbelievably simple and quick to put together. It’s best had fresh off the stove – simple, earthy cumin spiced chicken, fresh coriander and melty cheese all wrapped up in warm, olive oil toasted tortillas!
Kurumba resort, Coonoor

Kurumba village, Coonoor | Travel Guide

Last year, after considering Scotland, Switzerland, Dubai, Bali, Sri Lanka and Shimla in that order, we zeroed in on Coonoor for a family trip. We were travelling with my best friend Menaka and her family. For the activities that the men had in mind for the trip, we decided that the setting would make no difference. We might as well save on costs. We were looking for an itinerary-less trip too – a trip that wouldn’t need us to move our butts from point A to point B, unless point B was the restaurant. I wasn’t looking to shop even. Aah, the pleasures of a zero activity vacation! If you’re considering such a vacation this summer, look no further.   Kurumba village in Coonoor fit the bill perfectly. There was nothing very remarkable around there that we were under pressure to tick off our list. The Kurumba resort is nestled in the foothills of Ooty which saves you a steep mountain ride as well. So win-win-win. Coonoor was roughly a 10-hour drive from Chennai including breaks. We started at the ungodly hour of 4:30 am. We always do on our road trips in order to put maximum distance behind us. We reached Coonoor around 2 pm, just in time for lunch. The restaurant has the most spectacular views of the mountains rising just across from where we’re seated. There is a faint drizzle and it is pleasantly chill. There was a huge array of dishes for lunch and everything was delicious. It was all so near perfect, there was little else you could ask for. And then somebody ordered beer. Kurumba resort is set in the most picturesque location, the rooms are located on winding paths that lead down the hill right down to a little waterfall that thunders right outside the rooms. This waterfall happened to be right outside our rooms. It was a short climb down from the balcony and up the boulders to the waterfall. We picked our way to the bottom of the waterfall and took turns to sit under the waterfall. Whoa! Icy chill sheets of water pounded our backs. Nothing prepared us for the onslaught. We looked at each other, laughed and shivered together. We couldn’t talk above the sound of the water. Playing in the waterfall made us hungry. So we dried ourselves, dressed and climbed up the hill to the restaurant. Swimming...
Thai yellow curry

Thai yellow curry

I love me my Thai curry. Jarred curry pastes just won’t do. I always make mine from scratch. I of course don’t have the authentic ingredients – Galangal ginger, kaffir lime leaves & birds eye chillies. Like a good Indian, I adjust.
Mee Goreng

Mee Goreng

We have two more exams to go before the end of the school year. The school whatsapp group is buzzing with notes exchanges and exam paper doubt clarifications between mothers. We have a study holiday in between. Afternoon I was scrolling through SPI cinema to see which movies I’d watch next week after the final exam. I can’t wait. I need to watch a movie to mark the successful completion of the school year, to unwind, to feel alright, to reward myself. I came home from work and Yuvi tells me this – “Shall we please watch a movie tonight? I just feel like it. Viswasam?” He is my son alright. Am I a good mother? I don’t know. We watched Viswasam, on Amazon Prime. There are some scenes that were a real treat. There weren’t a whole lot of them but I really liked those. Ajith is the George Clooney of Indian Cinema and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that nobody else can rock grey hair or an unfit body like he does. What I loved about the movie was how Ajith does all the right things, says all the right things and makes it look good. He has quit drinking and he beats up anybody else who dare drink when he doesn’t. He is wearing his helmet when he swerves and does his stylish bike wheeling, he wears his seat belt when he sits in the car, he smiles and brushed aside his wife’s reprimand saying that’s the world order. Ajith commands respect, but Vijay steals my heart and Jagan is waiting on the phone. I’ve got to go. So I’ll quickly share with you a lipsmacking recipe for Mee Goreng with you my dear readers. As you’d have it, I didn’t have kecap Manis, the key ingredient in Mee Goreng and most other Malaysian dishes. I am an Indian and I know there is a substitute for everything. So I made my own Kecap Manis. I simmered soy sauce, brown sugar and star anise till it reduced to a thick syrup and used that as Kecap Manis. Mee Goreng is a hot and sweet kinda noodle dish, bursting with flavours and packed with all the good stuff – eggs, chicken and your favourite veggies. Top with a fried egg to really take this Mee Goreng over the top. Hasini and Yuvan loved this Mee...

Paniyaram from leftover Dosa batter

Kids of lazy moms will know that Milagai podi and Kissan Jam are universal side dishes. One of the two will go with anything. That’s what these kids have been raised to believe. Ask Hasini and Yuvan if you wish to check. In my book, milagai podi is game for all kinds of idli, dosai, oothappam, paniyaram, upma or adai. I smear jam on dosai, chappathi, poori, bread, use it as a topping over oats, porridge, ice cream and sometimes eat spoonfuls straight from the jar when I am craving something sweet. I got caught doing just that. Since I am a responsible mother, I don’t let them eat out of the jam jar but I’ll do it when no-one’s around. When I got caught, I had to explain my veto powers and how nobody else can be trusted to handle the jam jar the right way. The other day I made paniyarams and served it with milagai podi with no qualms. I’ve always made paniyaram with leftover dosa batter. There is a point in the lifetime of a dosa batter when the dosa turns too sour and rubbery. That’s the point when wives and mommies unleash their creativity and come up with all sorts of ingenious recipes to make use of that leftover dosa batter. This paniyaram is one of the recipes I make often when I am left with sour dosa batter. I also make vengaya dosai, podi oothappam or these sweet and sour leftover idli batter fritters. These paniyarams are dumb-easy to make. Prepare a tempering of some basic ingredients – onion, chillies, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Mix this into your leftover batter, pour into paniyaram moulds and cook. As simple as that. These paniyarams are convenient to pack in tiffin boxes too. Print Recipe Paniyaram from leftover dosa batter Dumb-easy to make, these paniyarams are soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. Yum! Course main Cuisine Indian Prep Time 5 minutes Cook Time 15 minutes Servings 15 paniyaram Ingredients 3 cups Leftover Dosa batter 1 Onion, chopped fine 1 Green chilli, minced 1 inch Ginger, minced 1 stem Curry leaves 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds 2 tsp Oil, for tempering 3 tbsp Oil, for paniyarams Course main Cuisine Indian Prep Time 5 minutes Cook Time 15 minutes Servings 15 paniyaram Ingredients 3 cups Leftover Dosa batter 1 Onion, chopped fine 1 Green chilli, minced...
Prawn pulav

Prawn biryani

Sunday morning, I was deveining prawns in my kitchen. It seemed to take forever. I wondered how many hours in life a person would spend deveining prawns. They must have statistics for that surely, like they have for how many hours in life we spend at traffic signals, how many pads a woman goes through in a lifetime, how many hours people spend on whatsapp debates… Somebody somewhere must have thought of quantifying the time spent on deveining prawns. I made a mental note to google it later when my hands were not yucky. The deveined pile was still small. I felt I was going too slow. I needed to set myself a goal. I decided I’d have to finish deveining the prawns before I picked up Yuvan from his class. I was quite pleased that I finished in half an hour. I was late to his class by 10 minutes though. I reckoned he would have enjoyed the extra time to run around with his buddy. His bud had left and he wasn’t pleased. It also meant I was late to pick up Hasini too. I braced myself for her grumbling. She didn’t notice me. She painted away and let me wait 10 minutes before she packed up. What do you know? It happens all the time when I want to fix a bug or send a particularly verbose mail before I go to the restroom. When I finally finish, the restroom is busy. The reason people spend all that time deveining prawns is because it adds an unbeatable flavour to any dish. I made prawn biryani. Let me tell you this. This Prawn biryani is just about perfect – just spicy enough from the green chillies, fragrant from the whole spices and kissed by the delicate coconut milk goodness. Everyone who ate it loved it. That includes Yuvan, Hasini and my dad. That’s one hard bunch to please. I served it with raita, boiled eggs and tawa fried fish fillets. Let me know if you make this prawn biryani. Print Recipe Prawn biryani Perfectly flavoured Prawn biryani made in a pressure cooker! Course main Cuisine Indian Prep Time 40 minutes Cook Time 20 minutes Servings 5-6 people Ingredients 1/2 kilo Prawn/Shrimp, shelled and deveined 400 gm Basmati rice, soaked in water for 20 minutes 2 Onions, sliced thin 2 Tomatoes, chopped 10 Green chillies, sliced lengthwise 2 inch...
Carrot coconut milk

Carrot coconut milk

Mornings I wake up early to the sound of birds before everyone else. I brush my teeth and brew coffee. I read the paper while drinking coffee from my coffee mug. I take a shower, dress up and with my wet hair wrapped in a towel, I head to the kitchen to make breakfast and lunch. I then wake up the kids and husband. I gently chide them for being lazy. Kids smile and go get showered and dressed. I lay the breakfast on the table. Kids say their prayers and sit down for breakfast. Jagan is reading the papers. Once done, kids hug me, say bye and walk over to wait for the van. The van arrives and they climb inside and wave to me. I wave back and walk back home. That is my morning routine – said no one ever. The actual morning routine has all of these elements but inside out and upside down. I wake up last along with the kids. So it’s kind of a tie. I head straight to the kitchen to make breakfast and lunch. There’s no smiling in the morning. There’s a lot of yelling, blaming, searching for socks, shirt, jatti and science classwork but no smiling. Nobody dare sit down for anything least of all to eat breakfast. You may sit down to put on your shoes but that’s about it. We don’t wait for the van; the van driver waits while we scoot across the road. He always turns onto our road when I am tying Hasini’s first ponytail and we can see him from the balcony, so I have to hurry downstairs while still tying the second one and it ends up being a bit lopsided. Hasini seems to go with uneven ponytails on most days. Hasini is sometimes angry I haven’t given her money for the canteen. She doesn’t wave to me. Yuvan is not pleased that he doesn’t get the window seat. He doesn’t wave either. I walk back home marveling that I’ve somehow managed to send them off successfully to school yet another day and take my first bathroom break since yesterday night. Jagan is reading the papers. The bird call happens last. Our neighborhood crow calls out to me from outside my kitchen. He hops aside while I place his breakfast. He eats once I walk way. I then make my morning drink. I...