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 deveined400 gm Basmati rice, soaked in water for 20 minutes2 Onions, sliced thin2 Tomatoes, chopped10 Green chillies, sliced lengthwise2 inch ginger8-10 cloves garlic1 tsp Fennel...
Schezwan noodles

Schezwan Noodles | “Who’s the right one?” tips for Valentine’s Day

Jagan is going to be away for 2 months on a business trip. He left last week. 2 months is a long time. We’d miss him. Romantic and ever thoughtful guy that he is, that evening he suddenly pulled me aside and showed me.. .. .. How to disconnect his car battery. He also showed me all the places under the hood where I should place the rat repellant. He made me practice opening and closing the hood. That reminds me – Happy Valentine’s Day! Never one to honour stereotypes, he has never recognized Valentine’s day. Jagan not in town also means lazy breakfasts, lunch leftovers for dinner, less chicken and little to no restaurant hopping. Hasini is already sad about the restaurant bit. As if on que, the day after he left, the light bulb in the study died and needs changing now. I read in bed till 3 am the other day like back in my single days. I woke up shrieking because I had to pack lunch for 2 kids in 20 minutes. If Jagan had been here, he’d have grumbled enough for me to switch off the lights by 12 and I would have woken up with a full 30 minutes in hand. I’ll need to wait 2 months to change my Mookuthi. Jagan is my official Mookuthi (nosepin) changer. It’s too tricky for me to do it on my own. He comes armed with two sets of pliers from his tool set to change my teeny mookuthi. He triumphantly changes my mookuthi and sits back. I look in the mirror and don’t like the new one and want to go back to the old one. He knows from experience and hasn’t put away his tools. He deftly does his thing one more time and switches up the mookuthi again. He’s an engineer after all. I write unhindered. The music is on the entire time. I am catching up on my reading. I am left to administer cough medicine to the kids and take full and complete charge of making them study for the exams. I have stories to tell him but I can’t remember them all by the time our timezones intersect. I have the TV remote when I manage to bully the kids. I need to drive everywhere and park myself. You cannot do with or without him. That means he’s the right one....
Masala omelette

Masala Omelette

I was wondering the other day what men would do if they had periods too, if they menstruated too. Don’t for a minute think I am talking about Sabarimala or any of that macro stuff. I was only thinking about what a big fuss they’d be making if they were to have periods. It’s a universally known fact that men suffer from vicious, body racking diseases like COLD, COUGH and HEADACHE which strangely don’t seem to affect women that much. It takes the loving care and constant attention of the entire family for adult grown men to recover from a cold – tablets, steam inhalation, Vicks vaporub, Kashayam and only hot water for drinking. Now imagine what these men would do if they were on their period. First of all, it won’t be a secret. Men will have pads in their back-pocket. Sanitary pads will be available in tea kadais and corner bunk shops. They’ll go with friends to change pads just like they go for a fag. Even better, they’ll call in sick. They’ll sit inside their leaf pandhal (enclosure) with their phones in hand all day while their mommies serve them refreshments from time to time. They’ll share jokes and memes on periods. Managers will enquire sagely about their painful period when they return to work and men will explain in great detail the pain they endured. During periods sometimes I have zero energy and don’t feel like cooking. Those days I just need to know there are eggs in the fridge. Last week was one such period. There was little else in the fridge other than eggs and a lone tomato. The signs were clear. I needed to make Masala omelette and take it easy. You can make this masala omelette as fancy as you want – add in chopped mushrooms, capsicum or grated cheese. This masala omelette will be delicious any which way you choose to make it. You need not be on your period to make it. Serve alongside toast, softened butter and ginger tea if you will. Now that’s one easy, yummy breakfast no one can pass up. Enjoy! Print Recipe Masala Omelette This masala omelette will be delicious any which way you choose to make it! Course main Cuisine Indian Prep Time 5 minutes Cook Time 10 minutes Servings 2 people Ingredients 3 Eggs 1 Small Onion, chopped fine 3 Green chillies, chopped...
Simple oven roasted veggies

Simple Oven roasted veggies

Oven roasted veggies are the yummiest way to eat your vegetables. This simple oven roasted veggies is as simple as it can get. It is super easy to put together and needs nothing more than chopping the veggies, tossing in the spice mix.
Nagoor chicken curry

Nagoor Chicken curry

You can never have too many curry recipes in your repertoire. You’ll need all of them plus more. This curry is absolutely breathtaking – perfectly rounded flavours and fragrant from the freshly ground whole spices.
Kambu dosai

Kambu Dosai

Kambu dosai has a faint nutty flavour and is crispy and super delicious. I wouldn’t mind eating this dosai over regular dosai any day.
Murghir Jhol

Murgir Jhol – Bengali chicken curry

I am still on the movie subject. People go to a masala movie and complain that it’s just masala. People go to a movie with a solid script and fret that it is slow. They go to a movie like 2.0 and tut-tut that it’s too absurd (the very same ones who rave about the transformer series). They’re disappointed that gangster movie A does not have all the elements of gangster movie B, different story notwithstanding. All of them will claim that they thoroughly enjoyed “Inception”. I am surprised that people do not employ simple everyday logic in movie criticism. A movie is what it is. Take it as it is. Do not ask for Nasi Goreng in Saravana Bhavan. Don’t complain that the sushi place has very few vegetarian options. They are what they are. A masala movie cannot be an art movie, an animation movie and a “Hey Ram”. Comparing movies and expecting one to be the same as the other is dumb. If it’s the same, it’s a copy. Every gangster movie need not be like “Godfather”. Let me say it. I wasn’t as taken by “Godfather” as the rest of the world. Just my opinion. See I am not comparing “Godfather” to “Billa” or “Basha”. That Hollywood movies are by default the better, superior versions – I refuse to accept. Nitpicking little details in the movie and taking offence is absolutely ridiculous. I cannot imagine what people would do in a Karan Johar movie? I suppose they’d do the reverse of what they do in a regular movie – sit in for the songs and go out to smoke the rest of the movie. Enough about movies. Let’s move on to food. I am drawn to Bengali food the way I’ve been drawn to Kerala food. I’ve never eaten Bengali food before. I just know I’ll like it. I stocked up my pantry with Nigella seeds and mustard oil. I’ve been reading about Aloo Posto, Murgir Jhol, Chana bhapa.. I am smitten. I started with Murgir Jhol. It seemed like just the kind of thing to make for a Sunday lunch. I was weary of Sunday biryanis.  Also my last couple of experimental biryanis did not turn out too well. I was wincing from that memory and I wanted to take some time out from biryani until we could both reconcile. As much as a Sunday...
Mixed vegetable curry

Mixed vegetable curry

I realized recently that I am quite possibly irrevocably infatuated about food forever. The minute I decide I am going to go on a juice fast, the smell of the parotta kadai korma beckons me, I notice a lot of just-what-I’ve-been-looking-for recipes on Instagram/in my inbox, I am beset by a sudden desire to cook everything and my mother arrives with a dabba of vazhaipoo vadai. How does she know? I saw someone on facebook who had lost a lot of weight. Lots of eager fat friends asked him how he’d done it in the comments. Many other fat but shy friends didn’t ask but went through the comments to find out the secret. He had been on a diet of just fruits and fruit juices for 2 months. Wow. I thought I could do that. 2 months would be brutal. Maybe 10 days or a week. I could see how much I lost and then do it again after a break. Now go back and read the 1st paragraph. It’s like the whole world is conspiring to keep me fat. If you’re still eating healthy, do give this mixed vegetable curry a shot. It’s light and creamy and beautiful with phulkas or crusty bread even. You can use any combination of vegetables. Everything goes. It’s a king of clean- your-fridge kind of recipe.   Print Recipe Mixed vegetable curry Creamy, veggie-packed curry to sop up with your favourite bread! Course main Cuisine Indian Prep Time 10 minutes Cook Time 25 minutes Servings 4-5 people Ingredients 200 gm Baby potatoes, halved or quartered 200 gm Baby corn, sliced diagonally into 1 inch pieces 1 capsicum, sliced into large pieces 1 Onion, sliced into large pieces 1/2 cup peas 1 large tomato pureed 2 cups cups Coconut milk Salt to taste 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder 1-1/2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder 1 tsp Cumin powder 1/2 tsp Sugar 1 tsp Kasoori methi 3 tsp Coconut oil (or preferred cooking oil) Course main Cuisine Indian Prep Time 10 minutes Cook Time 25 minutes Servings 4-5 people Ingredients 200 gm Baby potatoes, halved or quartered 200 gm Baby corn, sliced diagonally into 1 inch pieces 1 capsicum, sliced into large pieces 1 Onion, sliced into large pieces 1/2 cup peas 1 large tomato pureed 2 cups cups Coconut milk Salt to taste 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder 1-1/2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder 1...
Paavakkai crisps

Paavakkai crisps | Bittergourd chips

I am getting all tangled up trying to put down what exactly I want to do in the new year. My first line is about cleaning the combs and hair-brushes regularly, my second one is about writing a book and the third one is cooking a new vegetable every week. My canvas encompasses my home, the beings in it, the dust on the windows, writing a book, losing weight, worrying about all the plastic… I am mixing up things on so many levels, it makes my head spin. So I decided to take each area of interest and write down a list of resolutions for each. So I’ll start with my favourite place – the kitchen. These are my kitchen resolutions I will cook one new/rarely cooked vegetable a week. I plan to fast once a week or go on an all-fruit diet one day a week depending on my mood that week. I have seen enough whatsapp forwards to believe that fasting is good for the body and lemons can cure cancer. I will use up my exotic ingredients before I buy more exotic ingredients. I have some un-identified millets, a pack of phool makhana, a big jar of shrimp paste among many other things. I’ll plan the weekly menu every Sunday so that I am prepared through the week and we’re not forced to order in. I don’t want to deal with all those plastic containers and plastic covers. I will be more patient while frying onions and waiting for the oil to separate from the masala. It makes a lot of difference. I’ll try to cut down the sugar in my coffee and Horlicks, but I don’t promise anything. I will try a little harder to seek out the plumpest seetapazham (sitaphal / custard apple), the sweetest sapota (chikku), the best long-grained basmati rice. Many times, the big chain stores don’t have the best produce. The paati at the market has the freshest greens. I am going to try buying produce anywhere I see them like my maamiyaar. She will stop on a highway, on a jammed road and walk into unknown farms to get her hands on fresh fruits and vegetables. I’ve never bought Paavakkai before because I could not process that much of bitterness. I hadn’t devised a way to make it better. Until now. On a recent shopping trip, I thought I needed to...
Ragi dosai

Ragi Dosai

Exams over, a wonderful next week that looks rosy and peaceful with no-homework evenings and with tickets to 3 of the 4 movies released this week, I am tempted to sing “Idhu podhum ennaku, Idhu podhume. Vera yenna vendum idhu podhume…!” I saw Seethakathi this morning. I loved the movie.  One down, three more to go. I need to give a little bit of background before I plunge into the story I am going to share with you. Watching cinema is serious business around here. A Friday night movie is what wraps up a week for me. I drive bordering on reckless just so I don’t miss the opening “S” “U” “P” “E” “R” “S” “T” “A” “R”. I have no courtesy and I don’t wait for late-comers. I won’t give them a recap of the story so far. I make my kids go multiple times to the bathroom before we leave for the theatre so that they won’t disturb me during the movie. I don’t talk during the movie. Now that you have the background, here’s what happened. I went for a mid-morning show of Seethakathi which was half-empty. A big group of young girls and guys, likely college students were seated in the front rows. The movie was starting. As groups of guys and girls this age are wont to do, they were trying very hard and very loud to impress each other. I thought they were settling into their seats. Let’s give them a few minutes. The guys made a lot of loud un-funny jokes. The girls giggled excessively. We were well into the movie. I hoped they’d stop now. In the next 2 minutes maybe. I couldn’t hear the dialogue. Last chance – one more minute. That is it! I marched out to find the theatre staff. I told him if he didn’t tell them to shut up, I would. He promised to address the problem. I went back to my seat and waited. Two of the theatre staff walked down to the front rows and spoke to the guys and girls seated there. He told them that if they didn’t keep quiet he’d have to throw them out. Even better I thought. The group were offended that they would be “thrown out”. They argued with the theatre staff for a bit and the whole group then walked out in protest. Success! It’s surprising to me...