A huge welcome to you! !! I’ve been very irregular here but for once I do have valid reasons for this hiatus!!!
You know I’ve been bombarding you with some really interesting info on the Community Radio project that I’ve been supporting. I hope you took a couple of minutes to read about how radio can be a wonderful instrument of change. I will not deviate from today’s post which is a lovely recipe from the very talented Shubha Shashikanth. My little prince had been asking for spaghetti with veggie balls for some time. It looked complicated so I avoided it until Shubha posted her recipe on facebook. Made it this afternoon and it was absolutely brilliant. Do try it.
Ok, my version of Shubha’s recipe:
1) Spaghetti: As always, Boil lots of water, add a pinch of salt, throw in the spaghetti and cook until semi-soft. Don’t let it get squishy please! Drain the water and keep this aside.
2) The yummiest veggie balls EVER: I grated 1/2 carrot, 1 potato, 1/5 cabbage, about 100 gms paneer and added salt and white pepper. Add breadcrumbs. I didn’t have any, so I added a spoon of ‘sage and onion stuffing’. Added about a tablespoon each of rice flour and whole wheat flour. Make lemon sized balls from these and deep-fry in hot oil.
3) Sauce: Ideally, I would have fried onion, ginger, garlic, tomato and spices to make the sauce. But it was a busy day, so I used ready-made Bolognese sauce. And it was yum!!!
Tada!! This dish doesn’t take more than 20 minutes if your sauce is ready. Do try, do try. It was a huuuuuge hit at my place, especially because we are vegetarians. We loooooved it.
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.
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 🙂
I know I am old when…
1) While filling in any application (even a darn credit card), I have to scroll, and scroll, and scroll a couple of pages down, to reach my ‘Year’ of birth!!! I mean, seriously, it wasn’t that long since I was born, was it?
2) I watch the Idols of our teenage years (SRK or Juhi Chawla) on screen, and realise they have considerably aged!!! So if a young and vivacious’Ghoonghat Ki Aad Se’ Juhi is a comical-looking old woman now, that makes me.. er.. Ok, let’s skip!
3) My kid asks me, ‘Mummy, which is bigger? 4 or 33?’ I reply, with a smile, ’33’. He laughs happily. When I suddenly realise, the ’33’ he is referring to, is … me!!
4) An Alumni meet is planned, and we realise it has been TEN YEARS since we left college! How could T-E-N years have whooshed by??! 🙄 I mean, I don’t know what happened in this decade!
5) For the first 5 years of my career (or say, all 5 years of my career), people who used to report to me were double my age! I used to feel sorry for them. I suddenly realise, in a few years, I will be one of them!!!
6) All the ‘kids’ in the apartment block that my parents live in, greet me with a cheery ‘Hi AUNTY!’. I have gotten quite used to that one. But the next lines are what shock me out of my wits. I ask them ‘How is college?’ and they guffaw and reply ‘Whaaat Aunty! I have been working for 4 years now!’
7) I meet my parents every 6 months or sometimes, more frequently than that. And every time I see them, they seem more ‘sober’ and ‘quieter’ (considering that we are a strange family, in the sense that none of us acts appropriate to our age!!!)
8) I log into Skype to chat with an old friend, and we realise, that it has been 9 years since we saw each other!!! I mean, NINE years is a long, long time.
9) I read this lovely post on ‘decision making’ and the start of a promising career!! I realise I have come a long, long way. I mean, not that I have a career, but it has been a couple of centuries since I was at that juncture of ‘opening my first bank account’ 🙂
10) When you lovely readers read this post, and send me loving ‘Awwws..’ and kind ‘Hugs’, then I’ll feel like a total piece of crap. Aged crap!!
And on that cheerful note :lol:, I wish you all a very happy week ahead!! Live life to the fullest folks. You just don’t realise how Time flies. And very soon, you might be writing a post like this yourselves!!!!
Officially completed 33 years yesterday, and was completely overwhelmed by the wishes that all of you poured into my FB page 🙂 Danke Danke one and all!!! And since Count Bratula asked for a Cake, here it is… my all-time-fav Black Forest cake….
I had a great time, folks … made my little kiddo bunk a swimming lesson 😉 and introduced him to some yummy chaat (without spice) 🙂 On the whole had a very nice time. And before you girls ask, my Knight-in-shining-armour gave me a lovely perfume and Kiddo claimed that he drew a heart for me at school. Now I’ll have to find out the truth behind that this Friday, when the teachers give us the kid’s ‘work’.
If you are wondering about how silly the title is, wait until you see the pictures. They are self-explanatory 🙂
I received an email from dear Swaram, about recipe exchange. The crux was that it should be a simple and easy-to-make recipe. And this is what I ingeniously came up with:
1- Take any left-over steamed or cooked veggies from the previous day, or the day-before 😉 as long as there is no mould/fungus on it, that should be fine 😈 To this, add, a pinch of Salt, Turmeric, Jeera Powder, Aamchur, Pepper powder (I use this instead of Chilli powder, so that even Kids can eat it. Psst: By kids I mean moi 😉 I hate spice ;-)), Ginger-garlic paste.
2- Now mash it up really well, or even better, just quick grind it in the mixie without any water. You should end up with an AWFUL looking gooey paste.
Btw, I used a little bowl of freshly steamed Beans, Carrot and Peas and another little cup of left-over aloo-gobi sabzi. No, I didn’t mix the two, now even I cannot stand such a disgusting concoction 😉 I made two different types of parathas 🙂
3- Take a small lemon-sized ball of dough, and divide it into two. Roll it out into little circles. Drop a lump of the awful mixture into one circle, place the other circle on top, and press the edges together to seal them. Now roll them out into a big paratha, but don’t let the goo get out through the edges.
4- Cook this on a hot Tava, and remember, wherever the goo has indeed squeezed itself out, just add a few drops of ghee and let it roast.
Trust me on this folks, the left-over-mixed-veggies-parathas taste AWESOME. Needless to say, they are extremely nutritious too.
Try it out for yourself…
(P.S: Warned you in the beginning : These look awful, but taste awesome. Do try!!)
It wasn’t until late December that I found the envelope. It was addressed to no one. It bore the seal of ‘Vrindavan Home for the Aged’. That is how I realised it (perhaps) belonged to my father.
Before you stand on high moral ground and fire me for having sent away my old (and ailing!) Dad to the Home, do try to understand, and if possible, even believe that I truly did not want to send him there. At sixty, he was fit as a fiddle. We used to fight over the TV every evening, and would both finally lose to my son, who decided that Ben Ten was the right programme for us. So we, the boys of the house, would sprawl on the sofas and watched the inane aliens fight gory wars.
I digress. Like I said, the envelope, slightly yellowed and crushed, was addressed to no one in particular. It just bore my address. I assume my Dad had written it for me! Which made me curious, as he was not the sort of person who would write letters! If my memory serves me right, he was particularly not fond of reading or writing. So this was special. I didn’t quite want to open it. The last two months had been rather painful. First, the agony of losing him. Second, the fact that I had left him to die alone. I can never get over it. Ever. And third (perhaps, the most important reason) – I was afraid… of what the letter might contain!!
It was my birthday. In no mood to celebrate, I decided I would open the letter after all…
You know how much I hate to write!
Bang on! This was definitely from Dad!! My lips curved into a smile.
I want to let you know something… its been on my mind ever since you left me.
I stiffened. It was not like I left him! It was HE who decided to leave us. Vidya and I pleaded. So did little Prithvi. But he had made up his mind.
I like this place they call ‘Home’. Its spacious, airy, the nurses take care of me. I have no complaints.
I visited him almost every Saturday. I would take his favourite food. Sometimes, Vidya and Prithvi came along, at other times, they didn’t. Dad would always recognize Prithvi, no matter what! The moment he saw his chubby little grandson, his wizened face would break into a smile. I felt relived that he liked the Home.
But you know… I want to write this before I can forget everything.. before my traitor of memory fails me. Sometimes I cannot even remember your face. At other times, I feel like you are standing right next to me. I know you are there. Its just, I don’t remember who exactly you are .. or at times, who I myself am!! I have to confess that part is a little scary.
So that was why he wrote the letter!! When he was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it had come as a brutal shock to all of us.
On most days, he was very normal. The same old Dad who steadily picked his nose as he sat in his oversized armchair, watching children play cricket on the street! On other days, he would turn into a complete stranger. He would just stare at the ceiling. At times, he would simply grab the nearest object and smash it into the wall. He would walk down the street, to buy a packet of chicory, and wouldn’t return home until dark, when one of us would go in search of him, only to find him sitting on a broken bench, looking dazed and confused.
Finally it was he who suggested being moved to the Home. We wanted him around. He, however, was adamant. He left a day after Prithvi’s fifth birthday. We had a great party. He joined in the fun. I almost called the Home to cancel the move. But the next morning, he woke very early, bathed, and packed a little holdall with a couple of shirts and bare necessities. He did not give us any opportunity to try and persuade him against going. Before he left that morning, he blessed us with wishes for a ‘long and happy married life’, and said, very simply, and as a matter-of-fact, ‘Tell Prithvi I love him the most!’
When Prithvi returned from school that afternoon, he searched for Dad in every room of the house! And when he didn’t find him there, he cried himself to sleep.
There’s one little person I always seem to remember. A lovely cherubic little boy. Let me try to recall.. Preetham.. or was it Prithvi? Yes, I think it is Prithvi. My darling little angel. He visits me often. I can’t often remember his name, but I know that he is part of my soul.
I fought hard to blink back the tears. Dad wouldn’t be kind to anybody who cried at the drop of a hat!!
So, my dearest, I had better finish this letter quickly, as I might just not remember about it in some time.
Very often, nurses wipe tears rolling off my cheeks. Sometimes, they say ‘tut..tut..’ and walk away, cursing (in a rather filmy style!) my ‘supposedly wicked’ son who they think has left me here.
Little do they know, that these, in fact, are tears of joy.
Joy at a life well lived. This is the happiness of a husband, who found a good and loving wife. The pride of a father, who raised a strong and caring son. And also, the yearning of a grandfather. Whose only (albeit greedy) wish was that he had a few more years to spend with his grandson, frolicking in the park, or sneaking away from the watchful and loving eyes of his Mummy, to lick an ice-cream cone. But then, I’m just being ungrateful.
I could have lived with our children. But you know, much as I hate to boast, I think our son adores me! So does Prithvi. I want them to remember me as their Hero. Not as a senile patient who couldn’t recognize them! No. That wouldn’t work for me.
So, this is my big secret. I want you to know, my dearest, that every time I remember us, and cry, it is only to say that I have lived a very happy life.
I think I will see you soon.
Dad’s last letter. It had not been written for me. Or for Prithvi. But for Mum. I was stunned, at how Dad never let us see how much he missed her. I hoped they were together again.
To me, the letter had a cathartic effect. I don’t know if I can ever stop feeling guilty, but this day, I felt a little better. He knew what he was doing. And he did it not just for me, but also for himself.
I guess he was right afterall. When I think of Dad, I only recall a tall, strong man, who would throw Prithvi up into mid-air and catch him as he fell squealing with delight. I remember him as a level-headed counsellor, who simply declared that every workplace had its share of politics, and it was upto me to handle it or steer clear! Vidya remembers him as a loving father, who would make her a cup of ‘straang filter kaapi’ when she returned home from work every evening.
And Prithvi.. well, he does not remember much of him. When we happen to mention Dad, he perks up, curious to know more about his childhood friend. We cite him examples of how Dad used to pretend to be his Horse and ‘giddy up’ as Prithvi ordered him to! Prithvi chuckles shyly when we mention such incidents.
Often, he walks into Dad’s old room (that has now been converted into a Study) as if looking for something.
Sometimes, I follow him, and find him gazing at a picture of Dad’s. At other times, I find him dozing in the big arm-chair.
Well, whatever it is he is doing (or not doing!), I get the feeling this room is his favourite haunt. He seems happy here.
As for the letter, I placed it back in its envelope, labelled it as ‘First Letter Written’and tucked it far, far away inside my wardrobe. I could perhaps give it to Prithvi when he is grown up enough to be deceived by ‘Success’ manifesting itself in the form of money or fame?! Will it make any sense to him, I wonder…
Or perhaps, I will simply start writing a letter of my own…. hoping that I too, can be a Hero to my son, as Dad is to me.
I was wondering if my Friday Feast posts were turning boring, when Deeps said she was actually looking forward to it!!! So I plunged into writing this post, on a Tuesday, and scheduling it to be published on Friday (Whoa @ my commitment to blogging, no?).
This Friday, I have not one, but Two Feasts for you!
1- ONE-POT STIR-FRY MEAL
As always, a quick n easy one-pot meal idea : Stir-fry noodles/rice
Utterly simple – Roughly chop up loads of veggies – Spring onions, onions, baby corn, carrot, capsicum (all colours), cabbage, mange tout, beans – toss them into a pan with a tablespoon of oil. Stir-fry them on high heat, for about 2-3 minutes, until they get slightly brown, but not fully cooked. Do remember to keep the veggies crunchy.
Now add in some salt to taste. I don’t usually add Ajinomoto as I cannot serve that to my little brat. If you like, you could add in a tablespoon of soy sauce and vinegar. Or a ready-made packet of Knorr hakka noodles masala (which tastes quite good!).
Finally, throw in the cooked rice or noodles (as you like), toss briskly, without mashing either the rice or the veggies. Basically, you are doing a stir-fry and not cooking food.
For the more enthusiastic folks around, a side-dish (cauliflower manchurian or paneer manchurian and the likes!) could be made as well. I usually just stock up on the Knorr Manchurian or Knorr Schezwan packets, and use them sparingly on my feeling-lazy-days!
They are extremely simply and taste divine. Just follow the instructions on the pack and its really easy to make the side-dish. Otherwise, ofcourse, you can do it from scratch, and there are loads of recipies on the internet, that I don’t want to bore you with now!!
Personally, I am very happy with this one-pot meal. Its simple, easy to make, tasty and well, let’s face it -what could be healthier than vegetables?
2- THOMAS DOSAI!!!!
The second Feast for today, is specially meant for your Kiddies and Kiddos: A yummy dosai in the shape of a Thomas train (with wheels!), decorated with cooked potato and spinach 🙂
My mum used to make dosais in the shape of Ducks and Houses when we were young!
The important thing to remember while making dosai in different shapes, is the temperature of your tava. Heat your dosai tava slightly, not too hot (otherwise the batter will become clumpy), and not too cool either (as then, the batter will not cook!!).
When the tava is warm, ladle the batter onto it. First draw a circle, and then a little rectangle adjoining it. Lastly, spoon a tiny bit on the top to make a funnel! Don’t forget the wheels!!! Cook little circles of batter, and just arrange them under the train before you serve.
You can top this with any veggies to make a face. The possibilities are quite endless, really! I am quite sure your child will wolf this down in no time 🙂
(a) Chapati dough (b) Beat together: 1 egg, a pinch of salt (add pepper, if you like), some chopped coriander
Step 1– Roll dough into circle, spread few drops of oil, fold into half, spread another drop of oil, fold again to make it a triangle. Roll out into a bigger triangle, taking care to not smash the layers into each other 😉
Step 2– Pop this onto the Tava (griddle/pan), cook for a few seconds on one side, turn over the chapati and cook for a few more seconds on the other side. Don’t let it turn brown, just cook it very very little, so that the layers are ready to peel away from each other.
Step 3– Take the semi-cooked chapati off the Tava, and gently peel the layers, without tearing them apart! Use a spoon (not a knife, please)
Step 4– Now place the chapati back onto the tava, and spoon half the egg mixture into the triangle. The cheeky mixture will try to leak (outside the chapati), but ‘you’ can be smarter and do a little acrobatics with the Tava. Tilt it a little, to help the mixture run back inside the chapati. Yeah yeah, you can also cheat a little, and scrape any mixture off the tava and spoon it right back into the chapati!
Step 5– Give this a couple of minutes to cook well on both sides, and ensure the egg is also fully cooked inside! The chapati turns into a yummy filling paratha.
Step 6- Actually, there’s no step 6. All you have to do, is E.A.T 🙂 You could dip this in ketchup or a salsa dip to make it tastier. The only real drawback is, you have got to eat this hot, not cold.
EDITED TO ADD:-
I guess the shape and technique seem a little daunting. It really is quite easy, once you practise making the parathas a couple of times. For those who don’t wish to try, there is a really easy way.
Roll the dough into a regular chapati, make it really thin though.
Cook the chapati slightly on one side, then turn to the other. Turn back the slightly cooked side now, and spoon in the egg mixture. Now fold the chapati from both sides, and also slightly seal the top and bottom so that the egg remains inside.
Leave this to cook on medium heat for a couple of minutes until the egg is fully cooked. You could turn this over and let it cook for a minute longer.
This post is for the sweet-lovers 🙂 And this is seriously simple. If I can make it, then ANYBODY can!!
What to keep ready:
– 1 cup cashews
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1/4 cup water
(That’s it!! Can you believe it?!! :shock:)
How to make this thingy:
– Grind the sugar (10 secs or so, to turn it into a fine powder)
– Boil the water, add the sugar, let it simmer a while (5 mins or under)
– Grind the cashews (ditto), add to the simmering sugar syrup thing
– Let it thicken, no lumps, until the mixture turns dry 🙄 Don’t let it get burnt though.
How to test if its ready: In about 6 – 8 mins or so, if you take out a drop (don’t you DARE touch it by hand, or you won’t forget me or this blog in a long long time!!) of the mixture and leave it outside, it should ideally become hard. That means your mixture is ready.
– Pour it onto butter paper and wait till it cools a little (5-10 mins). Trust me, you don’t want to even touch it at this temperature!! 🙄
– Knead it well into a ball (for about 2 mins) – roll out into a circle (I kneaded it using butter paper, as the mixture was way too hot for me to handle, and I couldn’t wait that long for it to cool 😉 )
– Once fully cooled, cut into diamonds 🙂 That is my favourite part 🙂 I remember my Paati making Beda (Jeera Para) this way. Its very therapeutic, actually!!
End to end, this should take less than half hour or so. Not bad, huh?