Methi biryani

Methi Biryani

Every restaurant, juice shop, or roadside frankie stall I go to, there’s already a couple of Swiggy and Zomato guys ahead of me. I see them at every traffic light. On the road, there’s always one of them behind me who is trying to overtake me from the wrong side. When I step out on the balcony I see one of them zip past my house. What are the odds? But the one I am waiting for always goes to my neighbour’s house instead. I then provide all my id proof details to persuade him that I am the rightful owner of that biryani. We’re not cooking as a people, I conclude. What’s happening?! I find that disturbing. This is one of those small, innocuous little changes that just happen and seem perfectly reasonable but are actually harbingers of a much bigger shift. It can’t seem right that we’re cooking less and less at home. We may well forget how to cook. There’s nothing more tragic. Cooking is a life skill. Jagan believes checking the car’s coolant, changing a punctured tyre and cleaning the AC filter are important life skills too. We agree to disagree. Cooking is zen. Cooking is power. Cooking is freedom.   I know I can make biryani if I was tempted by all the Bhai biryani but I had no muslim friends to give me Biryani. I know I can make Thai green curry if I really wanted it. I need not eat Pongal if everyone else in the family loves it but I hate it. I can make myself a sandwich instead. Note that this is not applicable if you’re in a joint family. You’re screwed. I am eating healthier. I am eating fresher. I am also avoiding all that plastic packaging that comes with home-delivered food. Cooking is work. It has taught me patience and compassion. I am more understanding now when my mother’s vadai is not as fluffy one day, when the hotel’s tiffen sambar is less stunning today than last time, when my own biryani is ear-shattering hot this time. There’s nothing more fulfilling, more soul-satisfying than a sitting down to a favourite home-cooked meal. Yes, it’s a little work but so worth it. I know what you’re thinking in your minds. “Then why do you order on Swiggy and Zomato?” I try my best not to. Sometimes I need to. And...
Milagai bajji

Milagai Bajji, 3 ways

You know that spring of joy when you look out the window and see rain? It’s hard to make sense of it. It’s almost visceral. Rain means happiness, that everything’s going to be alright, that this too will pass, that good things will happen. Whoever said “rainy is gloomy” watched too many Wimbledon matches. It’s like the rounded R’s that people mouth when they return from the US. It’s what we think we need to say. It’s not what we feel deep inside. Rain always, always means happy things. We’ve got it down to a well-worn formula in life and in cinema. Rain means traffic, so we can be late. Rain means cheery rain songs on radio & hot crispy snacks in the canteen. Rain means cancelled classes and school holidays. In cinema rain means heroine introduction, rain means a happy dance, rain means romance, rain means an important twist or the climax. These are the clichés that we love and cherish. For me rain means “Oho Megam” song from “Mouna Raagam” or “Vaan Megham” from “Punnagai Mannan”. Only those two and nothing else. My mind seems stuck in the late 80s. And only Ilayaraja songs will do. That’s just how it is. I am an 80’s child. Rain also means a big plate of piping hot, sinus-opening, throat-scorching Milagai bajji. I love the classic Milagai bajji – the entire chilli, seeds and all, dunked in bajji batter and fried to golden brown perfection. My nose may start running and I may appear to be weeping. But don’t take the plate away from me. It’s the kind of dare-devil things I like to do. I long wanted to try a few other variants of the milagai bajji. One was a potato stuffed bajji that I thought might be a milder, just as tasty version for less adventurous souls. In this one, I make a slit and scrape out the seeds from within the chilli and stuff with spiced potatoes. The third version is a mini milagai bajji bomb. If wolfing down an entire chilli seems forbidding, you can start with these mini milagai bajji bites. I cut up the chilli into little roundels and dunk in bajji batter and fry. These are like the bijli vedi (the little cigarette like single-shot deepavali cracker) – small and cute but still explosive. Last Saturday, I woke up to a cool, drizzly, cloudy...
Prawn masala

Prawn Masala

Did you ever think what someone would make of your youtube viewing history and browsing history if they ever got hold of that information? I am not talking about cookies and sophisticated algorithms that place an ad for the vacuum cleaner you looked up on Amazon on every site you visit. They do a pretty good job of profiling you. I am talking about what a real person would make of it when he goes through your internet activities. It’s worse than having someone go through your diary. If someone were to profile me purely on my internet activity with no prior knowledge about me, here is how I think it will go: Instagram feed is chock-full of runny eggs, stretchy cheese, melting chocolate Fat glutton – Not totally inaccurate, but I am only eating raita today Watches a ton of nail art videos Nail artist, Has pretty nails – The last manicure was about a year back before a marriage. Has the shortest convent-cut, trimmed to the max nails. Is simply mesmerized by the nail art videos. Likes every funny baby video out there Mommy – Yes Watches tamil cinema songs, Shinchan, Home Décor DIYs, Craft DIYs, Cleaning DIYs, Shaun the Sheep, Ted talks, tamil comedy youtube channels Is a local tamil person with tamil sensibilities – Yes Is a child at heart – Has unruly kids at home Is an enthusiastic DIYer. Does everything on her own – Mannangatti! Translates to No. Likes DIYers and secretly wishes husband can be that all-in-all DIYer. Has thoroughly researched cleaning products, brooms, mops & brushes Part of the housekeeping team – Not really, kind of… at home Uses Google maps regularly for a lot of the same places near and far Maybe a part-time ola/uber driver – Is Dory’s real life character, cannot remember directions Overall, you see it is a fun exercise and not totally off the mark. Try imagining what your online profile will look like to others. If you do try this exercise, share your comments. I’d love to hear. I also realized that my blog is being perceived as a mostly non-vegetarian blog. Funny, how that came about. I would have thought I blog more vegetarian recipes than non-vegetarian recipes in general. I am surprised.I don’t want to deliberately share a vegetarian recipe now in order to prove my point. So I’ll go ahead and share the...