Present ma’am…

Hi guys… I feel like I should explain my absence on this forum. Well… I have been busy with my doctorate entrance exams (PhD.) these past three weeks and I couldn’t really invest myself in the kitchen, so I figured I should only come back when I am completely free. The only reason I came back today to write a blog (or an explanation) was because I missed this platform so much. I will come back with recipes and stories soon… believe me, I have so much to share. Wish me luck for my exams!

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Hummus: recipe

This was the first time I made hummus, so, I followed a vary basic recipe, and it turned out pretty good. I have replaced butter or cheese spreads with hummus on my morning toast and it tastes heavenly!

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Ingredients:

  • Chickpeas- 1 cup
  • White sesame seeds- 3-4 Tbsp
  • Olive oil-4 Tbsp
  • Garlic-3-4 cloves
  • Lemon juice- 3 Tbsp
  • Salt and Pepper-to taste

Method:

  • Soak the chickpeas overnight, and boil them till they are all mushy.
  • Blend the boiled chickpeas, sesame seeds, olive oil and garlic together, then add salt, pepper and lemon juice according to your taste.

Tips:

  • You can add any variety of ingredients to get your own version of hummus, like paprika, roasted garlic, etc.
  • I tried making the first batch with butter rather than olive oil, came out just as well.
  • I prefer a little chunky texture, but if you want a smooth consistency, blend the sesame seeds separately for use (or use store bought tahini), and remove the skin from the boiled chickpeas.
  • You can store it in refrigerator for up to a week, make sure to use an airtight jar. To avoid moisture collection, jam a tissue on the inside of the lid while closing the container.

Healthy breakfast: Vermicelli Upma

Here is a nice and healthy breakfast recipe: vermicelli or sevai upma. Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

  • Vermicelli- 250 gm (roasted)
  • Carrots- 1 cup (coarsely grated or chopped)
  • Capsicum- 1 cup (chopped)
  • Green chillies- 2-3 (sliced) 
  • Tomatoes- 2 large (chopped)
  • Onion- 1 large (diced)
  • Mustard seeds- 1 Tbsp
  • Peanuts- 2 Tbsp (roasted)
  • Curry leaves- 10-12
  • Tumeric powder- 1 tsp
  • Red chilli powder- ½ tsp
  • Coriander powder- 2 tsp
  • Dried mango powder or aam chur– 1 tsp
  • Salt – to taste
  • Oil- 3 Tbsp
  • Water- 2 cups

Method:

  • Roast the vermicelli and peanuts separately and put them aside.
  • Heat the oil in a skillet on medium heat, add mustard seeds, curry leaves and green chillies to it and when it starts to splatter add the diced onion.
  • Cook the onion till they are translucent, then add tomatoes and let it cook for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add carrots and capsicum and let it cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the turmeric, red chilli and coriander powder and cook the mixture well till oil separates. At this stage, add dried mango powder and salt to it.
  • Add the roasted peanuts and vermicelli and mix every thing well before adding water to it. Cover it with a lid, and let it cook on simmer for about 5 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and let the water dry out or until the vermicelli is soft and swelled up.

Tips:

  • For roasting the vermicelli, use about 1 Tbsp of oil, but the peanuts can be dry roasted.
  • Some people use urad dal in the recipe, I don’t like them so I skipped it. If you want to use it, you can add the urad dal at the very beginning with mustard seeds and curry leaves.
  • Use less water to avoid the vermicelli from getting lumpy and sticking together; it was a hit and trial for me, but covering it to let it cook in steam is a great way to avoid excess water usage.

When at home…

So I came back from my parents house sometime ago after a short visit, and it took me all of the following week to get back on track; to restart my gym and writing. For most people who live away from home, family visits must be great for unwinding. I wonder what that feels like. For me, it is that many days of stress and awkwardness. Mostly, because of all the uncomfortable conversations between me and my dad. My non-social marriage and my decision not to work for a while bothers him, as it should; he is after all entitled to worry about all his kids.

But I made some interesting observations while our little talks. Lately, we have been having more disagreement than ever; I noticed that there was an undeniable mitosis of our universe. I also realized that with time the gap between our respective worlds will increase. While my father was lecturing me on the importance of a social ceremony and why it was important for him to marry off at least two of his girls before he retires from service, and other worldly affairs, I glanced at my mother, who was sitting behind him, nodding with agreement. And it occurred to me in that moment; did I ever get a chance to disagree with him before? I couldn’t remember.

There was this unsaid system in our house. My mother would always check with dad if she should wear a certain sari for the functions, or what kind of meals were to be prepared, even the curtains were to pass my dad’s approval before they were hung. And my mother was comfortable doing that. There was a certain harmony and mutual understanding between my parents on how to run the household and raise us, and it worked for them. I respect that. But the day I moved away from home, this bubble I was living in burst. I have been living on my own for quite sometime now, and I am used to making my own decisions. I guess every parent have a hard time letting go of their kids, but at 28, it is astonishing that my standing as a individual is still challenged.

I am not saying that he is not a good father, he has always been an amazing dad to us, but I believe he too, like many others, is a victim of a patriarchal society. He does not know any different and he and my mother raised us the only way they knew. You see, women are meant to comply and all their decisions are taken on their behalf.  This is something that is not only conditioned into the minds of women, but also men. So, the burden to look after sisters and mothers and wives and daughters fall on the shoulders of the male members of the family. Even though today we are independent, able and contributing members of this society, there are still these small things, that we are used to let the men decide for us. It would be unfair if I did not disclose that at times I have also felt this unnecessary urge to get my husband’s approval over certain things, even when they had nothing to do with him or us. I guess, even I have not been able to completely embrace the idea of my own individuality.

Would I be writing about it if I was a boy. Would I not take over my father’s position in the family and make decisions for my mother and sisters. I wonder…  These small visits to home, these awkward conversations and these moments of realization, no matter how uncomfortable, are teaching moments for me.

 

Fresh water fish: Rohu & Bata- Recipe

I am sure everyone has their own must do’s when they visit their hometown. I was visiting mine, a few days back. It is located on the banks of Ganges river, so every time I visit, I make sure I get to eat freshly caught fish. Our love for fish goes back generations, and is so evident during occasions like Durga Puja when on dashmi a special fish meal is a must and auspicious event like marriages are incomplete without machli-chawal (fish and rice). 

So, the day I reached my place, my father visited the fish market early in the morning like a ritual, and brought home some Rohu and Bata (types of fresh water fishes). I want to share this recipe I learnt from my mother.

 

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Ingredients: 

  • Rohu- 1 kg / Bata- ½ kg
  • Plain flour or atta – 3 to 4 Tbsp
  • Mustard oil- to fry

For marination paste:

  • Yellow mustard seeds- 100 gm
  • Ginger- 100 gm
  • Garlic- 100 gm
  • Turmeric powder- 2 Tbsp
  • Red chili powder- 2 Tbsp
  • Salt- to taste

Method:

  • Wash the fishes under running water and clean the innards. Pat them dry and keep them aside separately.
  • Make paste by mixing mustard seeds, ginger, garlic and little bit of water (if needed) in a grinder.
  • Mix turmeric powder, red chili powder and salt into the paste. Divide the paste 2:3, keeping the larger portion for Rohu.
  •  In separate bowls, rub the Rohu and Bata fishes with plain flour, around 2 Tbsp each.
  • Now mix the respective paste portions to the fishes and make sure to coat each piece properly. Cover and leave for 20-30 mins.
  • Heat the oil and start frying 3 to 4 pieces at a time, at low to medium heat, 6-8 mins each side or until they are golden.

 

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Tips: 

  • Rubbing the plain flour on the fish rids it of any sliminess, so I use this step for every kind of fish preparation.
  • The marination paste can be kept in refrigerator for up to 10 days, and can be used to make the base of curry in case you want to make curried fish. So, you can make this paste in bulk and store for use accordingly later.
  • For me, mustard oil is the key ingredient that gives the fish a bit of a kick, so I would not suggest replacing it with any other vegetable oil.

Mojito: Quick fix

I have this refreshing quick fix cocktail recipe for hot summer days. Mojito with a twist…

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Ingredients:

  • White rum- 60 ml
  • Sugarcane juice- 180 ml
  • Lime juice- 15 ml
  • Mint leaves- handful (crushed)
  • Ice- large chunks

Method:

  • Mix all the ingredients and serve chilled.

Tips:

  • Sugarcane juice substitutes for all the sweetness needed in this cocktail.
  • Do not shake this cocktail, simply stir everything to mix well.
  • Use larger ice cubes, it will dilute the drink slower.

Being fat…

Society defines, nay demands certain body standard for women. We all grow up under the constant scrutiny of people judging us for being too fat, or too thin, or too dark skinned or too short or too tall; the list is endless. I was the ‘Fat‘ one in my family. Getting tagged like that from childhood does something to you. I always focused on my flaws and my self- image was so distorted that even when I was gaining weight dangerously fast in 2017, I couldn’t realize it until it was too late; because in my eyes, I had always been that way. 

It was only when I crossed that pre obese line and was now at my heaviest, did I get some perspective. I fished out my old photographs one day, and to my shock realized that I never really was ‘fat‘. I was just the right weight for my age. Sure I had a chubby face, and I was not skinny like most women in my family, but was I fat? NO!  Then who was this fat girl I had always seen in the mirror year after year. When I began my weight loss journey, the biggest challenge I had to face was to accept the fact that I had lost all those years hating my body. Always dressing up so that I was covered head to toe, and slouching so that nobody notices my extra large breasts, or never tying my hair up so that I could hide my double chin. What a waste… but at least it was a start.

As mentioned in one of my earlier posts, after completing my masters, I took a break from everything and focused on my body. I regulated my diet and worked out 4 to 5 times a week at a Gym. I managed to lose 12 kgs in 5-6 months. My transformation really boosted my morale. For the first time in ages, I liked what I saw in the mirror, even though I was not as thin as I used to be, and even though I was still the biggest girl in my family, I felt pretty, and not out of place.

What I have learnt from my weight loss journey, is how important self love is. I still haven’t reached my body goal, I slipped last month, gained back some 3-4 kgs; but a week back, started working out again. Losing weight is difficult, it takes a lot of discipline, motivation and support from people who matter. There can be days when you just can’t drag yourself to the Gym, or when you just can’t control your eating habits. But the important thing one must realize is that losing weight, and keeping those extra pounds off of you is an ‘ongoing process‘, so you can’t let these small slips affect your goal. I hope to achieve my goal in a few months , and being so close to it now, a small set back only makes it more real and makes me wanna work harder.