Chicken Alfredo pasta

Pasta in Alfredo sauce

I finally get excited about the Aadi sale happening all over town. I have terrible luck with discounts. So I am pleasantly surprised that the dressy slippers with glittery brown straps I like, is on 50% discount. I can’t remember when I last bought something like it. It must have been my marriage. I’ve since donned several different sizes of round, I’ve all but lost interest in clothes and consequently in shoes, bags and mirrors. Having finally lost some weight (although nowhere near my goal weight yet), I finally feel a faint interest well up again. I tell myself it’s time I dress better. I buy the dressy slippers to wear with sarees. The next day is the paal kudam festival at our temple. I wear the glittery strapped slippers right out of the box. I’ve never done that. I never wear stuff as soon as I buy them. I let them sit awhile, get a little old and familiar and not as precious before I wear them. This time though, I thought a change was in order. I was putting off things too much. I told myself I had to jump in and do things. I was feeling chirpy. Not normal. I left my slippers outside next to a flower-seller’s shop thinking to myself how pretty it looked. I returned a couple of hours later to find that my slippers were gone. The rest of the family’s slippers were intact. Only my new dressy slippers with glittery brown straps were gone. I asked the “poo kaari” (flower-selling woman) nearby about it. She didn’t for a minute ask me what I was talking about. She seemed too ready for the question. She told me it wasn’t her job to take care of our slippers. She wouldn’t look me in the eye. I knew then that the “poo kaari” shared my taste in dressy slippers too. I returned home barefoot. I was at my rotten worst the rest of the day. I swore. I cried. I threw a fit. Jagan, at the receiving end of all of this, offered to buy me the exact same slippers the very same day. I again swore, cried and threw a fit and then agreed. I went to the same shop and bought the same pair at 50% discount again. Jagan told me “You weren’t meant for the discount”. My maamiyaar told me that I’ve...
Chicken parmigiana

Chicken Parmigiana

Morning when I am working in the kitchen, I make a mental note that I am out of maida, mustard seeds, urad dal and basmati. I’ve used the last onion but still 3 more days before the weekend when I usually stock up on veggies. I need to clean the oven and take stock of the top shelf. I have a number of once used sauces, yeast and spices that I am afraid may have morphed into something else altogether.   I am doing poojai and I realize I need to take down all the frames and give them a good wipe down one of these days. I go to the bathroom. No, I don’t think I should get liposuction done. I’ve once again forgot to bring the new soap in. There is only a small sliver of the soap left and it looks strangely the same size as yesterday. What did Hasini and Yuvan use to bathe earlier? Did they? I have to enquire about this later. I also need to bring that new soap. I make do with the razor like soap for today. I come back from work late. I resolve to leave earlier in future. In bed, I scroll through about 27 videos of stretchy cheese on Instagram and feel my eyes getting hot. I put away the phone. I should be reading. I pick up the book I’ve been reading for 6 months. I want to go to the bathroom. I feel lazy. I decide to go after I finish the chapter. I fall asleep in 5 minutes. I didn’t finish the chapter, so I didn’t go to the bathroom. I wake up late. I wake into my onion-less kitchen. I make a mental note that I am out of maida, mustard seeds, urad dal and basmati. I need to clean the oven and take stock of the top shelf. I have tons of things to do. I am nowhere near. I need time off to simply catch up. I don’t really believe I can be caught up with everything but I believe I can and should get better. Do you guys have any tips for me?  How do you guys manage? I’d love to hear your tips and how you catch up with life. Please share in the comments. One of the few things I manage to catch up with is food. I made...
Aglio e olio

Aglio e Olio

I was watching the Bigg Boss show over the weekend. One of them (doesn’t matter which one) said that he wanted to call the other his dad. Then his dad would be his periappa, his periappa his thaatha, his thaatha a mama? I know Vijay TV shows are primed for drama. Judges on shows often become the dad, mom, brother, sister, grandfather or grandmother. No, not yet wifes or husbands. However this phenomenon is not restricted to TV shows. I see this everywhere around me. The auto and cab men are “Anna” (brother). The flower selling lady and the maid are “akka” (sister). I’ve seen people call their in-laws “Amma” (mom) and “Appa” (dad). How does that work? How do you manage that kind of love? Or conversely how do you manage that kind of insincerity? I am willing to believe it is love. I am just not comfortable with having to call them that. On one side is the insensitive undermining of important relationships. The woman who will make a new tiffen for me at 10 pm because I threw a tantrum about dinner, the woman who will hunt down all the lizards in the house for my sake, the woman who never made me feel guilty about waking up late (and left me totally unprepared for the rest of the world) can only be my amma (mother). No mother -in-law, aunt, teacher or anyone else can be my amma. I can call no one else “Amma”, not even Jayalalitha. The other side of the argument is the basic sincerity that I feel I owe to the auto guy, the courier person or my mother-in-law. I wouldn’t want to say something I didn’t mean, not even to the HDFC woman who calls me every day at 11 in the morning asking me if I want a personal loan. This atrocious metaphorical substitution for when you want to make someone feel extra special, when you are lazy to look for the precise descriptor, when you err on the side of dishonesty is a special kind of low that is unique to this age we live in. This is not even just about people referring to other people. Look at the food world. Cauliflower rice is not rice. It is cauliflower mince. Oothappam or dosa or flatbread topped with cheese and veggies do not make a pizza. They are vegetable cheese...

Eggplant Parmigiana

The whatsapp had been going off non-stop with first the news about Jayalalitha’s death and then about controversy theories about her death and then the cyclone. Amidst this mayhem there were these messages – “Yes Ma’am” “Yes Ma’am” “Sure Ma’am” “You are looking so beautiful Ma’am” “You are so sweet, Ma’am ” “Your handwriting is too good” “Please be safe Ma’am.” No, these were not students. These were mommies falling over each other in being sugary sweet to their kindergarten kid’s teacher. I cringed. But then I laughed. I remembered that Jagan by a strange twist of events was part of that mommy-teacher watsapp group and was witness to these exchanges. I imagined how these converstions would look juxtaposed with car mileage/gearbox debates, porn pictures and topic –less but expletive filled ribbing. As expected, he was traumatized by these mommy exchanges and asked me if women talk this way all the time. Poor guy. I suggested he take a combiflam and exit the group.   Mommies, really? Really? Do you really have to? I wanted to tell Yuvi that he was out on his tiny ass. Don’t expect sweet nothing texts from me – “Yes Ma’am, okay Ma’am, I love you Ma’am, I miss you Ma’am” because your number work is untidy, because I would like you to speak in the assembly. I know I am not setting it up for you to be the teacher’s favourite in school, the sweet mommy’s boy who teachers will remember from the top of their mind when it comes to choosing the house prefect, choosing the one to give the school address. I am not giving you a step up. I am not giving you privilege. I am sorry. I can’t bring myself to. I know how much I hated those teacher’s favourites in school. Plus I am simply un-equipped for being that sweet. I did not tell Yuvi as much. I suspect he may share it with his sweet, beautiful teacher with good handwriting. We were eating eggplant parmigiana for lunch, Yuvi and I. He slurped the pasta noodle in.  Do you like it? He made a sign with his hand to say it was. Spaghetti pasta in marinara sauce wasn’t one of his favourites. Really? “Yes, it is. Very nice, but little bit not nice.” I smiled. I realized he wasn’t going to be any better than me in lying. But...

Basil Pesto Pasta with mushrooms and lemony chicken

In other updates, I’ve been wildly successful this year in getting things done. I got myself a new scooter. I’ve started composting at home. And I got a scooter.    I bought myself a pretty little notebook-cum-planner that I am constantly jotting down things in. I am so excited to cross things off that sometimes I haven’t listed a task at all but I’ve completed it. I go back and write it in and strike it off because I’ve rocked and I need to register it somewhere. Call up hasini’s friend’s mom – done order idli rice – done make idli – done pack idli – done eat idli – done transfer money for gift – done Trim eyebrows – not done I like to believe I’ve been productive.  I strongly urge all of you to get yourself a planner. Marking off things gives a great sense of accomplishment. Apart from making uncomfortable calls, I managed to wade through my stash of card pins and change my card pin, collect my old books and drop them off and even score off a couple of small DIY projects I’ve been postponing forever – I made a thennai olai broom (coming soon on the blog) and made a batch of homemade orange peel face pack. Would you believe that? All this buoyancy could also be the effect of having completed the tax formalities for the year. It always gives me a high. I managed to score off this basil pesto pasta which has been on my to-try list for as long as I’ve known pasta and pesto. If you don’t have basil on hand, you can use coriander but it won’t be the same. The aroma of the pesto is breathtaking. It’s fresh, herby flavours marry well with the sharp lemony chicken and I love the way fried mushrooms round out everything. I would put fried mushrooms on anything, just as I’d put a fried egg on anything. I did just that with the leftover pasta. I reheated the pasta stove top, added bonus was the golden fried cheese, plonked a fried egg on top and devoured it.  Just skip the chicken if you want to make it vegetarian. You could easily substitute cauliflower (parboiled and marinated) or paneer for the chicken. Making the pesto is the easiest part. Just combine everything together and grind to a smooth paste. For day-in-day-out professional chutney makers...

My Lasagna search ends in my kitchen

Is it possible to be possessive about cheese? To covet cheese? What about knives? Tell me it is normal. I guard my best cheeses for the very best recipes, the foolproof ones, the ones I know would work. I then made this Lasagna. Cheese well spent. A short while back, but for quite a long time I was going crazy. Reading that sentence makes me think I really am. I really was going nuts. You know that famous saying “Order Lasagna and you’ll know what the restaurant’s worth!” You didn’t? It is not a saying. But it could be. It should be. Just saying.Well, I ordered Lasagna everywhere I went but I didn’t get any. I got hybrid, indigenous versions that tasted like baked korma pasta which made me even more determined to have my lasagna. At “That Mad#$%  place” the lady told me that that was how they made Lasagna at their restaurant, it was their signature Lasagna and that was how they’ve been making it since they opened (opened when? 1930?). Tell me something – When you order oothappam at a restaurant wouldn’t you expect to eat that slightly thick pancake like thing made with slightly sour dosa batter topped with onions, green chillies maybe, maybe a sprinkling of milagai podi, the oothappam we’ve always known? Would you take a toasted idli topped with onions if it is their signature oothappam, if that is what they call oothappam, if that is how they’ve been making it since they’ve opened? Would you take idlis dunked in kara kuzhambu as somebody’s signature sambar idli? Imagine my horror, my disappointment, my misery. Time to take things into my own hands. The best way to make lasagna I’ve learnt is to ready the components the previous day. First the Bolognese sauce – It is a cinch to make if you give it the time, if you can wait, if you can resist slurping it all up. It needs to cook slow and long and scents your kitchen. It is quite heady, divine really. With the Bolognese in the fridge, I slept a little more confident that the Lasagna would turn out well. I made the béchamel sauce, grated up the cheese and cooked the pasta sheets. I cleared the entire dining table to lay out my Lasagana cast – Bolognese sauce, very slightly warmed with a ladle, cooked pasta sheets carefully spaced out...