Where have you been? Making some Punjabi choumeen!

So I had been absent from this blog for quite some time. Ok, A REALLY LONG TIME!

It had been a crazy few months. For I think about a month out of those, I had lived without internet connection at home. That’s quite a feat, I think. Commendable to say the least. I had (not so recently), shifted house, from a well established residential community to a place which was absolutely bare to begin with. I had to do it up from scratch. And do a lot of things, trust me.

It was quite nerving with, and those with weak heart or depression tendencies, be warned. Those who live single, be warned!

*Thanks to all the folks who helped me, stood by me, during the strenuous phase where it seemed (even to me) that I was losing the plot!

—————–

Any who, things are much more easy paced now. I believe that I’m back to leading a comfortable existence day-to-day activities do not seem a chore.

So, after quite a stretch of eating regular Indian grub, I was longing for something new, something different, something that’d offer the good ol’ taste buds some sense of excitement. And I decided to make some Chinese food at home.

After a lot of deliberation and consideration I decided to make hakka noodles and chilly paneer.Fair thought, you’d think. I thought so too, till I got to the point of getting and boiling noodles. That was the time i realized i require some spring onions, ajinomoto, and some vegetables I could not possibly procure from my local vegetable vendor. Well, I had two choices . abandon all the processing, and go out to eat some spicy biryani, or stick around and make some thing from those boiled noodles, and whatever stuff I had. I decided the second option. The spicy biryani and me don’t go down so well together. My kitchen will need to be really broke for me to consider having that again . (Yeah once bitten, twice averse).

So, me and the punjabi in me decided to get working. and I put some nice “Yamla Pagla Deewana” soundtrack in the back ground on crazily loud volume. Gulped down a full Pepsi glass. I really needed some nerves to do what i was about to do.

I needed spring onions, I had regular onions : after successfully making “Bhindi do pyaza”, my confidence in onions has increased by leaps and bounds. I believe every dish must have a dash of those shallow fried onions, brown and transparent in color. Though the recipe prescribes, it should be done with only little frying, to induce the taste of somewhat raw onion juice in the dish. Yeah that flavor in authentic Chinese certainly is no tadka.

So I did, and I had some vegetables. I needed peas, capsicum and cauliflower and cabbage shred to make some nice Hakka noodles. I had some Beans, carrots and apple gourd (tinda).

Close enough!

I cooked it just like I would make some nice gravy. without spices, and the turmeric routine. Some similarity had to be maintained. ๐Ÿ™‚

Next up I needed some soy sauce and vinegar. Absolute essential to getting that tangy taste.

What I had > Amchur(dried mango powder) and lime juice! Will do, I thought to myself. Anything that can save me from that sorry excuse for a biryani.

And i cooked, and cooked with an unfaltering belief that I’d make something edible.

This is what it looked like. This is one of the best examples of the popular sayings, “appearances can be deceptive“:

 

You’ve got the music, in you!

A friend of mine decided to club together his work visit to Hyderabad with some extra weekend time, and decided to stay with me. Now, he happens to be from the fast paced city of India …. Mumbai. I had my fingers crossed on how he would appreciate the culture shock of the ways in Hyderabad.

One thing we had in common, to look forward to was exchanging the newly discovered sound tracks. We do have a sort of overlapping affinities when comes to what we like listening to. Though we diverge on those tastes often, there has been enough evidence in the past to suggest that our common choices are not merely coincidental.

Other than that, we had been (nearly) neighbours in Gurgaon, although he was always a Mumbaikar, where as I have never been to that place. Still, it wasย  the music that got us together and it is the music that kept us together ๐Ÿ™‚

He landed by evening, and these were his moving thoughts as the day progressed:

Saturday

6:00 PM The roads are so nice …. and empty.

7:00PM ISB is goooooood.

7:30 PM 5 minutes commitment by someone ??? really?

9:00 PM Why don’t the cars move it ? Why do they drive so close by?

9:30 PM That’s like an awesome track. I want to copy it on to my mp3 player.

9:35 PM That’s another super song. This one too.

11:00 PM Any place like Turqoise Cottage or Jazz by the Bay ? Firangi pani is #$%&&^!

11:15 PM Where can I get some good local food?

11:30 PM The place closes at 11:30 ?

11:45 PM Where can I get booze, to take home?

1:00 AM ISB is goooooood , can we stay here?

1:25 AM Stop playnig Lady Gaga, again!

1:30 AM Doesn’t police catch you for driving like this at this time? This place is so deserted!

2:00 AM You’re playing the guitar too loud. What if neighbours complain?

 

I was a bit confused when he asked me what are the night places in Hyderabad ? (As if there are any). So with my limited vocabulary on that front, I took him to this pub I had seen some time ago in City Centre. Firangi Pani. It seemed good back then. Now, not so much :). Add to it the fact, that I go scouting for pubs in a new city. Confused is a very suitable word. Anyways, followed by a dinner at Ohri’s and a visit to ISB at night made up for it. By the end of it, we were happy, well fed and in posession of a new pair of shoes. What else can a guy want?

Sunday

7:30 AM Let me sleep …

.

.

.

.

11:00 AM Let me sleep …. shoo.

11:30 AM I’m hungry. What’s for breakfast ?

1:30 PM I gotta buy an iPod.

1:35 PM This song is so good, I want to take it.

3:00 PM This is the speed we move at, in old city?? I’ll be late for my call.

5:00 PM (Calls up, apologises). I know we had this call at 5 PM. I’ll be late by 5 mins. (Now that’s what 5 mins should mean ๐Ÿ™‚ )

7:00 PM Pista house biryani is good ! I’m loving it.

8:00 PM Let’s go buy that iPod.

8:30 PM Weather is nice, how about some beer?

So, we had a hectic day. had a trip to Pista house, got lot’s of Biryani, Rolls, Patties and cookies. Dashed back to KPHB for a very important call that had to be made. Picked up an iPod. Ate that stuff, and were set for some song track exchange. No beer for you mister! ๐Ÿ™‚

——————

I hope the stay at my place was good one, and that I did a decent job of being a host.

 

Burgers, pending .

Come again.

Bringing on the good times.

Ever since I’ve moved into Malaysian Township, I’ve always wanted to fire up my kitchen and cook me a meal. Overcoming many a hurdles, like procuring a gas stove, obtaining a gas cylinder, I made it to the point where I could manage to make some snacks, breakfast and other absolutely essential things in the first week itself. But never had I cooked a meal. The reason ? Cooking alone is such a drab. Also, to make a meal, one requires small quantities of lots of things. I decided to play “the lazy bum”.

Then came the long weekend. The three day weekend, due to the south Indian new year. The one in which I decided I’ll stay at home and set it up, have the things ready to have my kitchen humming (or I could have gone to Bangalore). By the end of the day two, I had done most of that, and day three seemed like a perfect day to start cooking the meals.

There was an interesting set of developments though during that weekend.

  1. India managed to win the world cup on day one. (Yo… )
  2. My cousin had given birth to a perfectly healthy, and a very cute looking baby boy (Yipee… ) on day two.
  3. Day three was Ugaadi. It’s like a new year in South India.

By the end of day two, I was feeling so upbeat, that I decided that instead of having the kitchen off to a elegant but tame kick off, I’ll have it roar and start with a blast ! I decided to launch it open with a house-warming party which I had been planning around here and there. I invited some friends over.

In the morning, I noticed my in box had been buzzing with activity, and I was expecting a guest count of 10 people. Now the situation was such that I have never cooked for so many people. Also my last cooking adventure was a fiasco, and people wouldn’t touch my creation with a 10 ft. stick, because they feared it might electrocute them. So feeling a bit out of sorts, I decided to face my fears and do it. I could have ordered, but I promised these people I’d cook for them.

And I bit the bullet.

My plan toย  the day was that I’d get the house thoroughly cleaned up by the maid, in the morning, after which I’ll get stuff to use, eat and decorate. Well, that day being new year, the maid conveniently decided to take it off (I was not even informed).

Never mind, I thought to myself. It is a big festival. To have the show go on, I decided to do the cleaning myself. Never mind the increase in effort here. There was the point when I realised that water taps had also decided to take a break. When I called the Facilities, I was told that there was some repair work going on near my block. (I was the marked man for the day ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). With no definite time frame to have this work finished, my cleaning plans were thrown off track. I had to improvise, so I used packaged water to mop, and clean my toilets. Talk about vanity !!

After doing all that, I decided to focus on the main task at hand. I had to cook. I had decided to make “butter chicken” (A nice, spicy, rich indian gravy), for those eating non vegetarian, and “Kadhai paneer” (Cottage cheese in capsicum and onion mix) for people who were vegetarians. The ratio of non veg people to veg people got skewed big time to favour vegetarians as the new year was accompanied by some days called “Navratris” (Days of abstinence, Hindu version ๐Ÿ™‚ ) .

I went out to get the raw materials. When I got back, I realised I was running late by an hour. Thankfully, to one of the guests, I had specifically told to be on time. I knew for certain the others would be running late, so I wasn’t really panicking. So this person, Mr. R.A shows up bang on time, and I explain to him the state of my current affairs. He was great and kind hearted, and he offered to make some “dal” (pulses), which I had decided that I’ll order. He started, and I must admit, hosting a party is always so much better with a co-host (sigh!).

Cruise mode on

With the presence of a friend (and he knew how to cook!). The things began to happen, thick and fast. We whipped out the gravy for the chicken, and I started to progress towards making the cheese dish, Pretty soon we were from tomatoes and onions to nice smelling puree. Also, exactly then other people decided to show up.

I suddenly remembered there was no booze in the house. Since I don’t drink, collect, etc. I’ve once used Vodka to effective use as a cleaning solution :). (Yeah, I clean toilets with packaged water, so this should not come as any surprise !!!) I asked this other friend, MR. RK and Mr. AA to fetch some things and whatever booze for me. They also obliged (I’m so thankful to both of them). Soon we had everything rounded up, and the music playing loud and nice. The atmosphere kept getting better, and we all chatted up nice and easy. These people belong to the same college as me, so we had that bit of common ground.

House full of engineers ! yay!

Endnote

  • My nicely laid out table and make shift coffee table were left unperturbed. The conversation was so engrossing that people did not bother getting up to eat. In the end, I decided to serve them on the floor itself.

    Table laid out, before and after
    Dining table.
  • When the food was eventually dished out and sampled by the connoisseurs :), I got a major thumbs up! So much so, that I affected one of the vegetarian guy to try it out. I’m not going to let the name out here, because we signed a Non Disclosure Agreement. My lips are sealed. Another emphatic embracer of Navratri routine decided to chuck the concept and he went at the chicken big time. :). I think I’ll put the picture of what was there on the serving dishes. It’ll give a better idea.
    Butter chicken
    Saluja ka dhabba - Butter chicken

    Kadhai Paneer - Saluja ka dhabba
  • The dal was made with a technique which I was not aware of till now. Now I am. It was good. End result : that was polished off too! Finally, the ice cream brought over by yet another of the kind hearted guest (Mr. TP), was consumed with as much vigour as one can exhibit.
  • In the end I think, the party went off quite well. We bonded, had a good time, and left happy.

    The king of Good times

 

I had a good time. The house might be nice and ornate otherwise, but with friends and people, it really comes alive. Here’s hoping we have many such events in the coming future. Cheers

 

BTW

Yaaraan da tashan โ€“ part 2

For those who haven’t read Yaaraan da tashan โ€“ part I’ve reached Gurgaon earlier than expected, thanks to my lucky day.

New Delhi 23’rd March.

Fresh Morning!

I got up early. Early enough to catch mom before she left for school. I wanted to have breakfast with parents. She asked me about my plans for the day, and she said “Do you seriously think you’ll do that, all of those items in your todo list?”. Also, between our various general talks she would come up with “Why bother driving all the way to Hyderabad. Let’s just contact some packers and movers? I’ll foot the expenses. You stay nice at home for some days“, “should I take a day off ? I could help you with your task list“. I wish I hadn’t gone to Delhi right in the middle of week. OK, I had taken off, but people at home were generally busy. She longed to be with me.

Usually, my dad would have been up at the same time, and been up to some exercise and yoga, but I suppose he decided to sleep till late. I get a call from him, and in a sleepy voice he tells “Usually, it’s your sister‘s duty. Today, since you are here, you go drop off mom to school“. I was like sure, no problems. My mom said “Why don’t you play some music in your music system. We find it too difficult to use, so we only watch TV“. This was the cue I was so desperately waiting for. I had recently discovered some awesome songs, and promptly fired up leopard. Leopard is tiger‘s replacement. Tiger is the name of my media centre machine. Generally, the music I find is also well appreciated by my folks. This time was no different, and they quite enjoyed the morning blast. Later, when I drove mom to school, and was talking about things in general, she said “When your sister drives me off to school, she’s usually half asleep, and just stares at the road. Never talks“.

So, after I got back from mom’s school, I was just roaming around the house. Shops and places were not open as yet, for me to go head on with my todo list. I spoke to some people who were up. Mr. SR, Mr. SD joked around in the morning.ย  SD would be meeting me for a bit in the evening. SR stays at an end of NCR diametrically opposite of where I do. We made some tentative plans to meet in the evening in some central location. If he and I could find time. Damn the middle of the week? what joy?

The birds do chirp here and the flowers bloom!!

Hectic day

Well, after lounging around for a while, I got dressed, and first stop was to be at RTO office, Haryana. I went in, and was stumped to see that government officials had decided to take an off that day, and office was deserted, and there was this group of Haryanvi kids, cursing around, for they would need to wait another day to get their license. I joined them and mouthed out some profanities :). This is the raw, uncivilised and extremely passionate group. This was like a time freeze moment for me. Never gonna see this in Hyderabad :).

Any ways, I had to do what I had to do. Paid of an agent to get my paper work done, gave impression of my car chassis number, and other documents he wanted. He was gracious enough to have it sent to me, once my NOC is done. When he asked me what’ll I do till then, I told him “Drive my car telling I’m a tourist“. I left for other work. Time it took me to get this done, and negotiating a decent rate – 2 hours.

After doing this NOC thing, I decided to blast my stereo, to see if the speakers sound good. Although my sister said that the music system is the best, I had to check it off myself. There was a problem. Just what I was afraid of. The left channel to my amp was sounding like a damp squib. Crap. Utter crap! I took it to one of those big show rooms, and I was squarely told, that some capacitor had been damaged, repair or the guy suggested “saaar buy a new amp“. I knew the stuff, so I was aware I was being bullshitted to. Yep, I was back in Delhi! He took one hour, inspecting and fiddling with various knobs and wires, and I had a lunch with team people from Nagarro. I was famished too, so I called them up, and told them “Guys I’m coming over. Be ready

I reached my old workplace, in decent time, and it was interesting. The guard bhai just smiled at me, and let me in without asking for an ID. I told him that I’m an outsider, and hung out with him for a while till the people came down. Mr. RJ and Mr. PY were sitting at their usual place outside the office ….. Pappu bhaiya’s dhaba. Meeting them was so exciting. Mr. T and Miss PAGS walked out as though there was enough time in the world to even sleep and go. I booed them from behind and got some spring in the step. Mr. AA was going to join us in Mainland china itself. Just one person missing, I asked T where the hell Mr. X is ? I called him and off we went to Mainland China.

Lunch and mocktails later, I parted ways with Nagarro folks. They left, I stayed back, cause I had to meet with a couple of people form ARSD. Mr. S called me, and immediately came to where I was. We sat and chatted inside a cafe near Mainland China.ย  Mr. RT was supposed to join, and he messaged multiple times about how he was stuck in a meeting and will be out in just 5 mins :). Dude, we did not meet, but it’s the thought that counts, and I appreciate that you cared to at least plan to join. Mr. AM said he’ll catch up at dinner time!

So it was close to 5PM in the evening, and I had stuck of 3 things off my list, but had gotten aware of the fact that Dhanno was croaking, and I had to drive here for some time non stop. She’d cry. I suddenly thought of this place where the scale was smaller, but people were talented, and competition was cut throat. I had him look at my audio gear. First he was awed. He said “yeh kahan se liya hai?” I told him. I explained and showed him the problem. He immediately cross connected my good speaker to all the channels of my amp, to determine that my amp is fine, and fixed one speaker up after some sand papering and interesting tape work. Now we were talking engineer to engineer. So I was 3 speakers up now, and with just front left not working. This took time of an hour, and I started to get edgy. I called Mr. SD and told him I’d be running a bit late. He said he was running a bit late, so it was OK.

Now I took off my check list, and cut off visiting the optician in Delhi. You think I had time? Consequently, meeting SR was out as well.

So we had a problem with one of my 6inch non component giving out just out of fatigue I guess. The guy at the shop said he could not give me some thing equal to bull audio, but gave me some cheap Sony explod, and promised he’d tune them to make them sound good. He was already in my good books, so I told him to do it, and do it in half an hour. And boy did he. He came through, got another fella, both of them doing different things in my car. After a while they gave me an audition. Not the same stamina as Bull, but they had more jingle, and they were composite with tweeters on them. So now, my car has effectively 8 speakers, haha.

Relaxing Evening

SD called and said he’s on way. I was too, so we met on way, and drove back to my place. He was riding the most majestic punto (belongs to Mr. CS, who was at the time, in bangkok). It had the bass tube that could make the seats move! literally. I got home at about 7PM, with most things on my list checked off, and just partying with friends remaining. So I told my parents, just chill sit and talk with me friends will come over, and we’ll order food.

There were some things that were left undone, but hey, I’m no Oriya!

Friends who visited

  • Mr. AMTG (Buddy you are, as your name says)
  • Mr. KSC(Fun, Fun, and more fun. Keep smiling)
  • Mrs. RSC(I think you are family!)
  • Mr. SD(Man I never knew, you had so many facets. Next when we meet, we won’t drink but yap the brains out!)
  • Mr. X(You’re passionate, but you surprise me at times with the detachment you exhibhit)
  • Miss DC(Will See you, see you on the other side :). The world’s maddening. Just hang around )
  • Mr. Simba (for first time out, ever. Kisses)
  • Others : Mr.ย  SR, Mr. RT, Miss RM, Mr. GaGa did send best wishes. Luvย  you guys. this is what maters

My day transformed from Fresh morning to hecticย  afternoon to relaxing evening! The friends did turn up. In the middle of week. After work. Ain’t I lucky!!!

Is it so bad if things don’t turn out as expected?

Fortune does favor the brave.

But it is most considerate on fortunate ones. ๐Ÿ™‚

Well, life’s like that and every day brings up such a heady mix of circumstances, that one does begin to wonder … yea baby, I’m loving it. If it gives you the impression that I live a lucky life, and probably am killing it at the moment, let me reinstate. I live a very normal (boring for some) life, follow a 9 to 6 work schedule, and work for some one.

That being said, simple things and moments do bring out a smile every once and then.

So, what happened?

Well, if you might have observed, and I might be talking about a significant lot of people here, you’d probably go to a restaurant, and order the same thing every time. You have a favorite, and you stick to it. While it is awesome and I am, by no means questioning your choice, you have cut down (or shall I say excluded) the possibility of anything else impressing you.

I tried to break that circle, and decided to ask for a random thing to be delivered for eating at home. Now it does sometimes (but very rarely) happen, that I order something, but get a wrong person’s stuff delivered. I suppose it would be fairly reasonable to expect the same happens with you. Generally when it does, I return the order, and some mouthful as a bonus to the delivery person, or the person whom I spoke to while placing the order. In the normal circumstances, it gets picked back, and I get my original stuff dropped off, as a courtesy thing.

Don’t we all do this?

Anyways, this time around, since I was ordering random stuff out of the menu, I decided to add this additional randomness add into the equation, and just play with it. I kept the stuff, and decided to try it out. (Random randomness, right).

Guess what . I have a new favorite . ๐Ÿ™‚ , and I wonder how I ever lived without it.

But the thing to be drawn here is that every once in a while, I’m going to switch to my “wanderer hat“, and decide to try new things out. I would never know what I had been missing.

You can cook, but should you …

I consider myself a rather decent cook. So much so, that I can try out new things, and don’t mind coming up with innovative fillers when the situation demands.

Novice would be a good word to describe me, definitely not in the league of chefs such as my dad,ย  and those professional people.

Anyways, so for I party Iย  hosted on my birthday, I pitched in with my idea of “pineapple raita” . For people unfamiliar with the dish, a riata is an indian dish, made by mixing a variety of things (which range from fried crunchies, diced up vegetables to exotic fruits) in curd, and is consumed along with something in the main course, which otherwise might be dry.

So there was this unused pineapple lying in my kitchen, which I thought I’d put to good use, and so I was inspired to dish out the pineapple raita.

There were certain hindrances to what seems like a trivial thing to do, but I was a man with resolve.

One of these days, I'm gonna cut you into little pieces.
Pineapple

I could not cut a pineapple on my own.

I really does not occur to you until you actually get to doing it, but seriously how does one cut a pineapple. It is such a thing with hard and scaly exterior. My knives simply gave up, and even if I forced cut the fruit, I would have wasted a lot of that juicy part. (A pineapple is like hard from the outside, with sort of cylindrical shell which is sweet, and an interior which is more sour than that shell part).

There was no taker for the job.

So, I decided I’ll get the pineapple cut from a professional fruit seller. I was wrong in assuming that just any fruit seller would slice it up for me. For those unaware, the ones who sell pineapple, only sell pineapple. Like fruit specialists. So, I had to find a pineapple seller in gurgaon. Another task.

The pineapple I had, turned out bad.

Luckily, (oh really) I managed to find one, while roaming in a sabzi mandi. But when the guy did get to chopping off my pineapple, it was bad from inside.Like really rotten or something. He showed it to me, and I told him to discard the piece. By now, I was convinced that maybe some unseen force is trying to stop me from having the raita made. But I did not lose any determination. I told the guy to cut up a new pineapple from his stock, and give it to me. I specifically asked him to give a sweet one.

The Raita was a complete disaster.

Towards the end of my party, I decided to sample the raita myself. Unfortunately,ย  I had already bragged about it before tasting it myself. So the foot in the mouth situation was already imminent. :). I tried it, and I must say it was the worst tasting raita I’ve had in my life. I mean a curd gone sour, because of the over activity of ย  lactobacillus bacteria probably tastes better.

I’ll analyze the reasons that might have affected my raita in another post. Needless to say, a thorough investigation would be initiated. Results shall be published on a later date in a separate post.

To the people who had to eat it (out of good manners, I’m sure) … Sorry for the bad taste. I’ll make it up to you.

Cholle bathure …. yum

So, today, after like what has been ages, I decided to give my gastrointestinal brain, a breather
For the unacquainted ones .. yes I do believe I have two brains. One that drives me to food, and one normal, logical one, that is pretty well documented in any school’s textbook. I say so, because I have seen the “other” one totally blemish the normal, ever so logical one and take charge of my body.

I daresay it wasn’t the sheer instinct kicking in , cause I was far from the point of starvation.

My friend suggested “why not go for some cholle bathure?” . Now those who know me would understand how important that dish is to me. I mean there’s probably just butter chicken which is a notch above, but I am guessing the abysmal frequency with which I consume cholle bathure lately, had pushed my brains craving for cholle bathure way up . Perhaps more than rational thinking as well.

“But we should go to Shadipur Depot on a metro”, I whined. The shop there supposedly gives out the best of cholle bathure, at least as far as I have had. “All the way from DLF” …, my friend here did not have the extra brain that was taking reigns as i was arguing.

Anyways, we didn’t go to Shadipur depot. We’ve postponed the trip to next weekend. ๐Ÿ˜‰
As for today, we went to Bikanerwala in Gurgaon, had a round of Dhoklas, Cholle , extra helping, and washed it all down with a glass (actually a kullhar) of Lassi.

Delhi food. I love you!