Categories
Thought and Reason

Meaningfully Mindless

You are tired after a long day.. whether you work from an office or from home, whether you do a lot, or nothing. The daily grind does suck the life out of you! Tune into a ‘meaningful’ news channel, and all you get to see is scams, scandals and unimaginably horrendous crimes that make you lose faith! This is where ‘mindless’ television serials step in, to rescue us.

Tune into ANY Indian entertainment channel.. Star, Sony, Colours..etc. there are all the SAME!

The same glamorous bungalows, where nobody seems to have a 9-5 job like the rest of us mere mortals do, the same women dressed in all their finery, wondering who is plotting against who!

Watching the same shocked expression on every family member (in slow motion) can actually be quite therapeutic. Because it is in these moments, that I do not have to think! I get to ignore (albeit temporarily), the bills lying on the table, the books yearning to be read and the empty dishes that will soon have a dry crust!

How much effort can it take to watch a ‘mother in law’ dressed in finery, authoritatively telling her meek son and pretty daughter-in-law with long flowing hair (who by the way, is also decked in jewellery like she is a walking banner advertisement for a jewellery store!) what to do. How much do you really exert your senses to watch another grandiose creature ‘plotting’ to kill her own sister or sister-in-law for some vague reason that nobody remembers?! See, that is where Indian soaps can help us unwind. Watch it in zombie mode, and you will eventually realise that your office related stress is perhaps preferred 😉

So what is wrong with Indian television? (asked HT, and loads of us bloggers replied). Here’s what:

  1. ‘Super-women’: Almost all our programmes are women-centric. ‘Now what’s wrong with that??!’ The problem is, every protagonist is not just an average woman but a super-woman! Quiet, ‘docile’, woman of ‘inner strength’ (how do you even measure that???!!), dons a pallu and covers her head in the presence of elders, addresses her husband with a ‘ji’ suffix! Whatever happened to women who need not be perfect, and who need not be on a pedestal??! How about a normal women, perfect with all her imperfections?!
  2. Sense and sensibility: I know I said Indian television is therapeutic. Even in that ‘paradise’ however, we do need some semblance of sense and sensibility. Will it harm us too much, if we made more programmes like ‘Satyameva Jayate’ or ‘Laakhon mein ek’?!
  3. REAL problems: In the same vein, I wonder why every second story depicts the ‘trials and tribulations’ of a new bride in a joint family, or a girl who is unable to find a ‘suitor’ at all?! What about REAL problems like eve-teasing on the roads, gruesome rape in a moving bus, the ability to balance a good career with family-life? Will we ever get to watch a programme made about people like you and me?!
  4. Mush overdose: Ok, I’ll confess. I like M&Bs. I think they score much better than the over-rated ‘fifty-shades-series’. But the mush in our serials is a serious over-dose! Imagine copying some of romantic scenes – the gazing in eyes –soft background score – caresses in ‘slow motion’. Euuuggghh…gaze into my eyes for 2 minutes and I’ll wonder if you’ve lost it!!!
  5. Ancestral property: I have seen just one bungalow in my entire life. And even that was minuscule in comparison to the HUGE houses that feature on television! Can we get more real, please?
  6. Mini-Bollywood scenes: Forget the trauma of watching an overweight Ram Kapur romancing ‘oh so perfect’ Parvati bhabhi! What’s with soaps aping Bollywood romance? Show some creativity, folks!
  7. Hair: Yes, you read it right. Hair. I really do not get the point about every female protagonist having long, luscious, shiny black hair. How do they go about their daily life? Cooking? Cleaning? Just .. living?!! You want to make a woman-centric programme? Go ahead, do it. But please, show someone with normal dry/limp/frizzy hair! I promise you, it will not affect your TRPs!
  8. Where are the children? : Nobody is ever prepared for parenthood. When it strikes, it sucks you into an endless cycle of nappies, runny noses, bruises! Where have all the children disappeared from our television serials? The few kids that are infact around, only do a cameo! (But hey, to be fair, I guess being a parent myself, if I had to watch one more crying baby on TV, I might just suffer a breakdown!! Okay, I’ll leave the kids out!)
  9. Regressive dressing: One look at the attire of the artists, and you know exactly what is wrong. Heavy silks, light chiffons, matching heavy jewellery – makes me wonder if we are indeed living in the 21st century or some medieval era?!
  10. Recession, really? One unique feature in every soap that never ceases to amaze me is: None of the actors EVER has a 9-5 job. What is the scene? Recession or Ancestral wealth?!

So yeah, our soaps are absolutely mindless. However, since they do help the ‘unwinding’ process, it would be nice to infuse a teeny weeny bit of sense into these programs,. That would just ease our way back into the ‘real’ world the next morning!

Categories
Food and recipe Health n Fitness

Calling all lovers.. er.. ‘curry’ lovers!

There are lots of things different here in the UK as compared to India.

Like for example, many of us (Indian parents/grandparents) pride ourselves in saying our children are ‘Oh soooo naughtyyyy….’ whereas here ‘naughty’ indicates the kid is ‘bad’!

And when I say ‘tea’ I really mean the sweet, hot liquid with milk.. tea! Not the ‘London’ version of tea that means a nice evening snack (that tea is a part of!)

Or for example, ‘curry’, which to me, means vegetables, diced/chopped/etc, tempered with mustard seeds and seasoned with regular, mundane spices and not a thick gravy flavoured with cream or coconut milk! Which by the way, reminds me of what a local tour operator once said… ‘Britain’s favourite food isn’t Fish n Chips, but ‘Chicken Curry’!

So here is a dish, that we absolutely LOVE! With a Japanese/Chinese flavour, this is a one-course dish, scrumptious, filling, healthy (well, in part!) and absolutely droolicious.

Its actually a signature dish of Wagamama, called ‘Yasai Katsu Curry’ (Fried vegetables curry with rice). Obviously this is the ‘vegetarian’ version (actually, ‘eggetarian’ as you do need a little bit of egg to coat the veggies in). However, you could easily replace the veggies with slices of chicken and it would taste just as good (my non-vegetarian friends would claim it tastes even better!) The curry here refers to a Japanese style of curry. Wiki says it all!

First, let me post a picture.. to see if it tempts you!!

Did you like this, did you? Did you?

Ok, so I hope I have your very kind (stomach-growling) attention now!

Before I very generously share this magic recipe with you, let me give you an estimate of how much time this dish takes, to make. Er.. around an hour (more, if you make all the ingredients from scratch, and less, if you decide to play smart like I did, and buy some of it from the store).

The trick, really, is to get all the ingredients ready before-hand, and then the actually cooking/serving is actually quite quick.

I can guarantee you, the effort is really worth it, considering this is a one-pot meal, that your folks are going to LOVE!

So, for the ingredients.

We actually have FOUR sets of components here.

1) For the main Yasai Katsu:

(a) Vegetables like Brinjal (aubergine), Butternut squash and Sweet potato work best. Just slice them. This really depends on how you want your veggies. Wagamama serves thick slices, whereas I like em thin 😉 so I sliced a brinjal into 0.5 thickness.

(b) Half a cup of ordinary white flour with a pinch of salt

Crisp bread crumbs mixture

(c) Two full cups of a mixture of crumbs (Bread crumbs and plain salt crackers (I used Melba Toasts) ground into fine crumbs, to add a crisp texture to the veggies)

(d) One egg, beaten lightly.

You could add your choice of spices to any of these, really. I just added some salt to the flour, and some more salt, coriander powder and tumeric powder (Tee hee… an Indian cook after all!) to the bread crumbs mixture. But make it the way you like it. If you like your food spicy, then go for it!

2) The side: Now you could serve either crunchy vegetables or a side salad. I chose the veggies, simple because I had no salad at home 😉 Take your pick of colourful capsicum(peppers), baby-corn, mange-tout… vegetables that will suit a quick stir-fry.

Mmmm... stir-fried crunchy vegetables!

3) White rice. You could either use plain ponni rice/sona masoori rice or basmati rice. It tastes good either way. Wagamama serves this dish with some yummy sticky white rice, that I have NO clue how to make. So I faithfully stuck to our aromatic basmati 🙂

4) And lastly, the curry sauce. Now, Google says it is to be prepared this way.

Onion, garlic, ginger, tomato, turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder – Fry it all, simmer with a little water for about 15 mins, cool it, and grind it with a little more water. Simmer again for about 15 mins.

Now, how do you cook this delicious meal? Really , truly simple!

Step 1: Cook your rice. I washed 1 cup of basmati rice, added 2 cups of water to it, and chucked the bowl into the microwave, first for 10 mins, then a quick stir, and another 7 minutes.

Step 2: Now, while your rice is getting cooked, take a couple of minutes to grind the bread and the crackers together to get a fine bread-crumbs mixture. Beat an egg, and keep it aside. Keep the flour ready. Start heating up the oil. Don’t slice your brinjal until it is time to fry them.

The Yasai and Katsu stuff

Step 3: Get your curry sauce organized. I’ll be honest. I didn’t make the curry sauce myself. Just bought a pack of ‘curry sauce powder’ from the supermarket and added it to boiling water. Voila!! A nice, thick, sticky curry sauce.

Side aside

Step 4: Roughly chop your side vegetables into 1-inch pieces. Heat one teaspoon of mild/medium olive oil (for health reasons… well, don’t ask me why I insist on olive oil, when the bleddy veggies are going to be deep-fried!!), and throw the veggies in. Stir-fry on high heat for about 3 mins and take them off the pan. Puhlees, for heaven’s sake, don’t cook them soggy!

Also, if you have a couple of minutes to spare, do peel a carrot, and slice slivers of it, for garnishing. It adds that ‘special’ touch, you see 😉
Step 5: OK, now for the frying bit. By this time, you should have your rice, your curry and your side salad/veggies READY. So take those slices of brinjal (if you are using sweet potato/squash, please cook them in boiling water before frying them), coat them lightly in flour, dip them in the egg, and load them with the crumbs. Once you have about 3-4 ready, slide them gently into the hot oil. You know how to fry, don’t you? Just ensure it does not get burnt! And, drain excess oil onto tissue paper.
Step 6: Pile your plate and serve Hot Hot Hot!!!! Invert a cup of rice, arrange the fried veggies, add some side veggies, ladle the curry sauce, and garnish with carrot!! And.. Bon Apetit!!!
Mmmm.... Yasai Katsu Curry!

So, tell me, did you like it? Did you?