Categories
Incidents Thought and Reason

Sizzling South Indian Mela(m)

It is always tricky to plan weekends here, thanks to the lovely British weather (by the way, I do like cold n grey weather!). The last weekend was thankfully sunny, though a little chill. That didn’t deter us from making a quick trip to see what the South Indian Melam (an initiative by ‘INDIA NOW’) was all about. Actually, blame the TV adverts for luring us to it! All those pictures of steaming hot dosais/vadai, and ofcourse the cultural events 🙂 (lest I sound too shallow ;-)) were so inviting!

We reached the Mela venue by around 2 pm, and had originally planned to leave in a couple of hours, but ended staying till the very last show, which was a completely dhamakedaar performance by Shiamak Davar‘s team in London. (Will come to that later, as one sentence in passing simply doesn’t do justice to the amazing performance that it was!)

We were greeted with a mellifluous rendition of ‘Vaishnava Janato‘. Sadly, there was no encore 🙂 The compère Ms.Ambika, conducted a lovely little music exercise with all the children. There must have been atleast 20-30 participants, who sang along to Sa-Re-Ga-Ma with gusto.

It was a delight to hear, and an eye-opener too, about an art that we must not let die, but instead try to pass on to the future generations.

There were more performances – vocal, Bharatnatyam, etc. (I can’t review those as I’m not much of an art connoisseur) and an impressive ‘Kalari Payattu‘ performance too, that the boys were particularly interested in!

There weren’t as many ‘stalls’ as one expected. However, there was a great little massage offered at very reasonable prices. Another hot-dog/fries/coffee booth, that served awesome french-fries at delightful prices 😉

The stall for the ‘Save the Tiger‘ campaign, in my opinion, could have benefited with more prominence. The Diabetes UK team was strategically placed a few stalls away from the one with the droolworthy hot South Indian food 🙂

State Bank of India who were one of the Sponsors, held an exciting Raffle contest, with the prize being an iPad!!! Sadly, the winner of the raffle wasn’t around. Sigh!!! I wish…er.. never mind!)

Hot Dosai in the making… and different varieties of chutney to go with it… yummm…

Needless to say, the ‘food’ staff, hosted by Turmeric Spice (I hope I got the name right!), saw an endless queue 🙂 And it was well worth the wait. We ordered hot dosais and simple yet delicious lemon rice!

As they say, the best things in life come to those who wait! The last event was a Bollywood dance performance. I wasn’t expecting much, and the delay was putting me off.

However, when the troupe finally arrived, they took us by storm!!! The Shiamak Davar team in London pulled off a spectacular performance, making even the audience dance to the tunes of Chikni Chameli and Chammak Challo!

The compère /host, Rohan, did an OUTSTANDING job of drawing the audience into the performance.

Even the man behind the show, Mr.Manish Tiwari (Managing Director, Here&Now365) couldn’t escape grooving to the tunes of Chammak Challo 🙂

The audience learnt some easy steps, particularly some Shahrukh Khan motions, and the delightfully funny ‘nodding Indian head‘ 🙂 Team Shiamak had the entire audience spell-bound, and hungry for an encore (which again, they delivered beautifully).

We truly believed their quote – ‘Have Feet – Will Dance’. Add to that, they gave a gift voucher (‘free dance session’) for all the participants.

So, that was a truly scintillating finale to an exciting event.

Well done Team South Indian Melam 🙂 I think this was a good start, and do hope we see many more such events, that bring us closer to ‘home’ and help showcase our arts and culture.

Categories
Food and recipe

Cheese n Tomato Swirly Buns

I wake up each day, wondering what to pack in my child’s lunch-box! I prefer non-messy finger-foods, but they aren’t always filling. My Little Prince hates sandwiches, and you already know about my exceptional roti-making-skills! Therefore I often resort to jam-triangles (er, a fancy name for two slices of bread with jam spread inbetween them and cut diagonally into two halves), or rolls (again, paratha rolled like a cigar (oops) along with fresh fruits/vegetables/salad and a tiny pot of Yogurt.

So when I saw some cute little tomato buns on display at the Bakery section of a superstore, my heart skipped a beat! They looked (and tasted delicious!) and were rather filling too. Inspired by the lovely chefs I know I decided to come up with a recipe to make these on my own.

Those of you who know me, also know what a ‘fantastic’ cook I am (Hick! Please take that with a bucket of salt!). And this recipe (Ahem… my own, by the way :-)..pulls collars up!) is so utterly easy, that even a Baking-Duffer like me cannot go wrong. Seriously!

When my little prince tasted the Swirly Buns, he said ‘Mummy, these don’t look like the store ones, but they taste quite similar’ J Good enough for a first attempt, huh?

I hope you do try it!!

What I think you need to have:

1) For the bread/roll:

2.5 cups of flour, 1 cup of warm water, 1/2 spoon sugar, 1 spoon salt (I prefer my food a little less salty, but feel free to add more if you wish!), 1 tablespoon Del Monte EVOO (extra virgin olive oil). 1 tablespoon of butter (I can’t measure out xy.z gms for nuts 😉 but again, feel free to add more if you like), 3/4 spoon dry-active-yeast (I bought the yeast that you add directly to the flour, and not the one that needs preparation. So if you are using yeast that needs to be proofed, then do follow the instructions on the pack 😉

2) For the cheese n’ tomato spread/filling:

I believe life is too short to waste time making tomato sauce from scratch!!! Blanching tomatoes, peeling and grinding them.. argh..takes the pleasure out of cooking doesn’t it?! So do take the smarter way out and use good quality ready-made store-bought pasta sauce. Like Del Monte pasta sauce (You can use any of the Del Monte range, but I prefer tomato-garlic – which translates to ‘Siliciana‘), Grated cheese, a handful of Dried herbs, and if you want, a few drops of milk for  basting (you could use egg, but I chose to go completely veggie on this one). I actually found the Swirly Buns go a little soggy if you baste them. They turn out light and fluffy if you don’t baste them. Up to you of course!

What I think you should do:

As always, mix all the ‘bread’ ingredients in a bowl, knead into a soft dough and leave it covered with clingfilm for about 20 mins until it has doubled in size. Then knock down the ball of dough, and roll it out into any shape. Rectangles would be nice though. (I got 2 big size rectangles for this quantity of flour.) Now slice these into thin LONG strips. Or make one medium length strip, and slit it into two halves (length-wise) to make it one looooong roll.

Onto each strip, spread some Del Monte pasta sauce, throw in some grated cheese and dried herbs. Now roll it inwards like a circle. Once you get a cute little Swirly Bun, top it with a generous spread of pasta sauce, more grated cheese and a pinch of dried herbs again.

OPTIONAL: Brush with a drop of milk or egg-wash if you like, but certainly don’t let them get soggy! I didn’t brush/baste it, and it turned out great anyway!


Now the dear husband decided to try his hand at the Swirly Buns and made an interesting variation, of Italian Pasta + Swirly buns 🙂 He included a few bites of lovely little Tomato+Basil Tortellini  and a dash of Pesto and made this huge dinner-roll 🙂 that tasted awesome.

Cheese n Tomato Swirly Buns and in the Right-hand top corner, the pasta Swirly Buns 🙂 ready to go into the oven.

Pop these pretty little Swirly Buns into the oven (180 degrees, 20-25 mins). And voila! You have an amazing-looking-and-tasting batch of Swirly Buns!!!

Take a look at these babies!!!

And on the inside…

 

The Swirly Buns are good to eat hot or cold! Pack these rolls into your kid’s lunch box for a lip-smacking snack 🙂


They make a nice accompaniment to soups as well. Or WTH, just munch on them while wasting time on Facebook 😉 😉

I think the shelf-life should be quite good. Unfortunately, I never get to find out, as they get polished off the day I make them!!

(PS: I am sending this as an entry to the Indiblogger Del Monte contest) (https://www.facebook.com/worldfoody).

Categories
Awards Incidents Short story Thought and Reason

Long overdue – Bagful of peanuts and more

This happened a couple of months ago, and I only remembered to write about it now (thanks to my friends on an online community).

Remember the innovative ‘Blogsplash’ conducted by Fiona Robyn (author of ‘The Most Beautiful Thing’)? My contribution to the Blogsplash was a little story about a touching incident that took place on my last trip to India. I’m very glad to say that of all the entries, mine was chosen as the top entry!

I’m very happy about this, particularly because it was the gesture of one humble man that has moved people (across the globe) to tears. Please do read it. Here: https://writerzblock.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/a-bagful-of-peanuts/

God bless such simplicity and humility. Need I say more!!

Once again, thank you Fiona for conducting the event, and many thanks to the One and Only: Shail for inviting me to it. It was a learning experience.

(Comments disabled. Thank you all so much for your warmest wishes :-))

Categories
Thought and Reason

Everyone needs a grandparent!

There’s no questioning it. Everyone needs a bit of pampering. A little love, much adoration 🙂 and even some unquestioned ‘authority’ that leads them to believe ‘they are the boss’. Who better for this role, than a grandparent?

We live miles (and miles!) away from home, but do head back once or twice a year. The bond between child and grandparent is simply beautiful. It does not matter that they have a 60-year-gap between them. It also doesn’t matter that they don’t always understand each other’s accent! Neither does it makes a difference whether they are communicating with each other or simply sitting in amiable silence, watching some crappy TV program.

Kids who receive absolute adoration from the grandparents are ‘blessed’ if you ask me! I think the admiration builds much confidence in them, and it lasts a lifetime. I remember reading these lines somewhere, sometime (but even Google isn’t able to retrieve it for me!): ‘if you have a heard a river in your childhood, it is likely that you will hear it all your life’. That’s the way it is when one is blessed with loving grandparents. I have had the fortune of having one adoring grandmum 🙂 Just thinking of her makes warms the cockles of my heart. Senility will catch up one day,and perhaps turn her into a nit-picking and grumpy lady 🙂 (I’m nearly there myself ;-)) but nevertheless, my love for her is just as unconditional as hers for me 🙂

Why is it that kids are relatively de-stressed with the grandparents around, as compared to the parents? Do we push them too much? Do we want them to be ‘perfect’ (despite not managing it ourselves?!) Or do we use their behaviour as a benchmark of our success as a parent?! Whatever be the reason, in general grandparents seem to share a better rapport with kids than do the parents. Their relationship is quite stress-free, with not much expectation or conditions from either side!

Let me also confess that I am a little envious of people who can leave the kids at the grandparents’ every now and then! Bringing up a child is quite a challenge. I would go so far as to say managing a career is easier than bringing up a child. Yes, every job is difficult, but the task of looking after a child beats them hands down! So if we have grandparents to sneak in and take the pressure off, that, is sheer heaven 🙂

Now that’s another fact that grandparents don’t always want to ‘look after’ the kids as their previous generations did! They enjoy doing this ‘part time’ 😉 but not as a full-time job, and I think they are right! Afterall, they have lived their entire life working really hard to bring us up and provide everything we needed! It ain’t quite fair to expect them to become full-time baby-sitters at this age. I wish more people realised it!! Having grandparents is a luxury that not many can afford!! So the ones that do, add this to your blessings 🙂 🙂

So here’s to all grandparents. No matter how loving/bitchy they are, or how generous/stingy they choose to be. And certainly, irrespective of whether they ‘look after’ our kids or ‘not’. Just ‘being there’ and ‘supporting our children’ is a blessing 🙂 whether we accept it or not.

Rant Warning:

On a related note, I find it annoying when people say going to India once or twice a year ‘is very lucky’.

Honestly, it is a choice! One chooses to either save money, buy property/jewellery/gadgets/etc and go on exotic holidays around the globe! Or one chooses to save every penny and travel 5000 miles to indulge one’s self in the familiar sights, sounds (read, cacophony!) and smells (er, anyone heard of Onyx?) of the home town. Now that calls for another post altogether!!

So all those lovely folks who say this to me again .. er.. please, please don’t!! Danke 🙂

Categories
Uncategorized

Pull ’em apart!!

And finally!!! After drooling long enough over posts by Mon of ‘Sin-A-Mon’ fame and by lots of other blog buddies (Deeps, Smitha to name a few), I have finally managed to shake the laziness off, and put up these pictures.

The famous garlic-pull-apart-buns 🙂

ImageOkay, so I didn’t have coriander, therefore decided to turn them into ‘Sun-dried-tomato and garlic pull-apart buns’. Warning: The pack of sun-dried tomatoes I had were on the salty side 😦 so next time I’ll have to be more cautious!

(And this is my Little Prince having fun with the dough)ImageAnd these are ready to go into the oven….

ImageYou know, there is a good reason why the ‘after’ pictures aren’t too good. There wasn’t enough time to take pics before these got gobbled up!!!! This is the only one I could manage!!

ImageSo there!! Finally finally. The much-yearned-for garlic pull apart buns. I’m going to try this next time with Mon’s original recipe containing coriander.

Thanks folks!!!! Go try this out. If I could do it, there’s no reason why you can’t!