Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The foodie in me....

A couple of months ago, my aunt was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Her prognosis is good and doctors have assured us that her chances of a full recovery are very high. My grandfather passed away 3 years ago. He suffered from prostrate cancer. My nani passed away a few years before him. She died of stomach cancer.

Yup, I know all about family history and how significant it is when we talk about a disease as deadly as cancer. I am a foodie and I absolutely love eating. High metabolism ensured that I did not have to worry about putting on weight, and I got away with eating all kinds of unhealthy junk food. So high is my craze for oily, fatty food that not even the fear of acne in my teenage years could keep me away from all the oily, unhealthy stuff.

My aunt's diagnosis changed everything. Everyone in my family is scared. G (who is a doctor) freaked out and begged me to start eating healthy. Knowing my love for all things oily, it was G who suggested I try cooking food in olive oil. It will make food tastier and healthier, he promised. I have been addicted to olive oil ever since.

When I came across the The Del Monte Blogger Receipt Carnival,  I knew I HAD to take part as my favorite recipe uses most of products that Del Monte is famous for. This recipe gets a thumbs up from G every time I make it. Knowing how finicky he is about eating healthy, it assures me that the dish is very nutritious. And my taste buds vouch for its yumminess. I usually use mushrooms, but I didnt have them handy when I made this dish today.

Egg Noodles with Stir Fried Vegetables

Preparation time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins
Serves 2


100 gm flat beans
1 Courgette
2 Capsicums
2 red onions - 1 finely chopped and 1 chopped into larger pieces
1 tomatoes finely chopped
2 tsp tomato chilli sauce
100 gm mushrooms*
A handful of coriander leaves*
1 tsp pumpkin seeds*
1 packet egg noodles/spaghetti
3-4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp coriander-jeera powder
1 tsp soya sauce (optional)
A pinch of turmeric
A pinch of asafoetida
A pinch of oregano
A pinch of roasted sesame seeds*
Salt to taste

  • Cut all the vegetables (except the flat beans) into small pieces.
  • Boil all the veggies with a pinch of salt. This is how I ensure that my veggies retain a crunchy texture. 
  • Grind tomato and the finely chopped onion into a coarse paste
  • Boil the egg noodles as per the packet instructions
  • In a low pan add 3 tsp olive oil. Add asafoetida, chilli powder, coriander powder, tumeric and saute for a minute.
  • Add the onion and tomato paste and saute for around 5 - 8 minutes. I usually wait till the tomato loses its lumpiness and the paste stops sticking to the side of the pan. 
  • Add tomato chilli sauce and soya sauce (optional) and mix well
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Add all the vegetables and mix well
  • Add roasted sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds
To serve:
  • Serve a helping of noodles in a bowl. Top it up with the veggies as shown in the picture. Sprinkle a pinch of oregano. Garnish with coriander leaves.

The best thing about this dish is that you can use any combination of vegetables in it. G loves pitted olives in his noodles while I prefer mine without them. I don't like the flat beans and add them only when G is around as he loves them. My friend makes this dish by adding eggs to the tomato and onion paste before adding the vegetables, while G once experimented with chicken as well.

It is a versatile dish which will please any palate. Healthy and tasty, perfect for the foodie in me :)

Ingredients marked with * were not used when I cooked this dish today. However, I have used them on countless other occasions and they always add an extra zing.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

London Dreams

My love story or rather my infatuation with UK began 3 years ago. As a newbie in my organisation, I was chosen to be a part of a project which required me to travel to UK.

Those few weeks of anticipation saw me walking around the office with a stupid grin on my face, telling all and sundry that I was going to London. My mom called long lost relatives and gloated. My dad told all the uncles in our building how proud he was of his foreign jaane wali beti. My little cousins looked at me with awe and flocked to me for career advice.However, a few days before my flight, the trip was cancelled. Reason? Recession. And the project was abandoned.

For a few months, my parents and I contemplated changing our surnames to Popat*, such was the magnitude of our embarrassment.

So, when I was offered another secondment last year, I accepted it with a lot of skepticism. No hurrahs, no phone calls to long lost relatives and no career advice to cousins.

London was definitely all that I dreamed of and more, for the initial few weeks. I was lost in the glamour of London, in the beauty of the immaculately made up girls and the handsome faces of 6 packed guys. I saw
'The one with the green headphones' and my infatuation shifted from London to the Londoner.

In my few months here, I have met some really nice people and some really mean racist ones as well.

Random strangers who went out of their way to help the directional-dyslexic me with directions, strangers who offered to help me pick up the right type of milk just by looking at the confusion on my face (trust me, with over 12 varieties of milk on display, there is bound to be a lot of confusion) to strangers took a moment to smile and say that I looked beautiful. I once had a long conversation with a lady who told me that she thought I had a gorgeous complexion and that she wished she could be as tanned as I was. Away from the mom's pampering and dad's protective eye, forced to do everything from cooking to the laundry to finding places using Google maps, London was the first place that made me feel beautiful and independent.

Managing a team of firangs showed me a completely different side of London. One where the difference between the eastern and western cultures and beliefs is huge. Where it was OK to be single and have a baby but it was not OK to believe in arranged marriages. Where it was OK to treat your parents like strangers, expecting them to call you before they come and visit you, but it was not OK to take a week off so that you can show your parents around. Treading with caution, keeping my opinions to myself (anything and everything can be construed as racist here), I managed to make a few friends - not best friends but colleagues I could call friends. They took me out for drinks and joked about the fact that I was a vegetarian and a non drinker. They pampered my sweet tooth and ensured that I add a couple of dress sizes by eating all the cupcakes and cakes they lovingly baked for me.

London is the place where I realized how much I loved my parents and Sid and how much I took them for granted. In the initial lonely days, all I could wish for was to fly back home and cuddle up next to mom. Food that I ran away from at home, now became my comfort food. From the girl who detested home cooked food, I turned into a girl who maintains a list of all the home cooked stuff that she wants to eat.

London is the place where I met G.

London made me realize that I am not as career focused as I pretend to be. When my company decided to extend my visa and asked me to stay on for 2 years, I resigned. I want to work, I want a career. But not at this cost. I want to stay close to my parents and my brother. I want a career closer to home.

As I now pack my bags to come back to India, I am scared. For the first time since I graduated, I do not have a job. I do not know where/when I will get my next job. But yet, I know everything will work out fine.

My mom says that the next 3 months will be a turning point in my life, one that will show me what course the future will take. I do not know what that future holds. All I know is that I soak no more in my tears, I will eat, sleep and chill for the next 3 months and spend some quality time at home. :)

*Popat is a Mumbaiya term used to refer to people who make a royal fool of themselves.

P.S. This post is an entry for the contest on Indiblogger  by Surf excel Matic #Soak no More Contest!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Yes, they made me smile.....

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one part of your life starts going okay, another falls spectacularly to pieces.”
― Helen Fielding,
Bridget Jones's Diary

Yup, that is true for yours truly as well. Just when things started looking OK in one sphere of my life, the other spheres started unraveling like balls of yarn. When I called my mom yesterday, she told me to focus on the positives and leave the rest to God (Someone told me that my mom is very wise, and I concur). So, this blogpost is an attempt to list down the things that made my life bearable this week...

What follows next is a list of totally boring,random things....read on at your own risk.....

  • One of the guys from my team won a bet that he placed on a dog race. Yup, you heard it right. Dog race. Dog races are quite a popular weekend pastime here. Honestly, it isn't something I fancy going to. So last week Dean walked up to me and asked me if I wanted to bet as well. He told me that he was planning to bet on a dog called 'Colourful Mark'. Now, Colourful Mark was a new entrant and had really high odds stacked up against him. The favorite for the game was Speedy J, who seemed to the favorite in my team as well. Inspite of everyone in the team asking him not to bet on Colourful Mark (CM), Dean stuck to his guns and did not change his bet. On Monday, he told me that CM had won, with a told you so look. 'How', I asked him, 'did you know that CM would win?'. 'His name' he smiled cheekily and said 'Colourful Mark sounds gay, doesnt it? I figured that rest of the dogs would rather have a gay dog in front of them then behind them'. It took me some time to understand what he meant, but when I did, I couldn't really argue with his logic :D :D

  • I had to get my visa copied and sent to the HR team for some formalities this week. My senior manager checked my date of birth on the passport and said, 'Whoa, you are quite young, aren't you?' He then turned to my manager who was seated behind him and said, 'She is quite a youngster, isnt she?' To which my manager replied, 'Yup, she is my little dynamite' Needless to say, I left with a smile that remained on my face the whole day. :D

  • My friend N  was blessed with a baby boy last week. Although its been close to 3 years that we haven't spoken to each other, this news made me smile. She is quite older to me and has been trying for a baby for a few years now. We stopped speaking sometime in 2009, which arguably was one of the worst years of my life. I lost more friends that year, than in all my life combined. Although, there is no way we could ever patch up, the fact that she now has something she so dearly wanted, made me feel really happy for her.

  • My sweet blogger friend Sangitha got a promotion that she totally deserved and another thing that has been bothering her for quite a while, is getting resolved as well. Me cant wait to meet you here in London, Sangi baby.

  • Yummy cupcakes that S brought at work. He gave me 2 more than everyone else, coz he knows that I have a major sweet tooth.

  • Being asked by one of my team members to sign as a witness in her property documents, as she needed someone responsible to sign the documents for her. Hearing my name and responsible in the same sentence made me :D :D
  • Being told by K that I can't write to save my life, after reading my latest blogpost. Agreed, the stuff that I churn out on Fullon can in no way be called writing, but for someone who does not have any book writing aspirations, this level of writing will have to do. Hai na?
That's all for this week, folks. I hope things settle down and I am able to breathe freely again. Till then, I have my lists to keep me company :D :D

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The one with the green headphones...

He is a typical angrez cutie pie. Tall, blue eyes, spiked hair and headphones with blaring music. Green headphones. He takes the same train as I do in the mornings. In my initial days, I would stare at him from a distance, knowing that a cutie like him would never notice someone like me. But notice me he did. Noticed the sloppy me spilling coffee on my pink shirt. Noticed the lost me looking for a loo in the train. 

A couple of weeks ago, in my rush to catch an empty window seat, I spilled coffee from a discarded coffee cup on my pretty pink shirt. Although, I religiously avoid public loos, I had no choice but to go splash my shirt with water or face the prospect of spending the whole day with the unsightly stain. Now, yeh UK ke train loos bhi bade funky hote hain. Handle wandle toh hota hi nahi. Try as I may, I couldn't get the door to open.  Mr Green Headphones, who was watching my predicament from a distance, came up to me, pressed a button and the door opened with a whoosh! Having splashed my shirt with water, I came out and tried closing the door but it wouldn’t budge. My knight in shiny headphones came to my rescue once again and closed the door with the flick of another button. I smiled coyly. He flashed a bright grin. 

And we went our separate ways.

But fate had other things in store. 

A couple of days later, I was late for work. Running, I managed to squeeze into the train just as the doors were closing. I got in but my bag did not. I was stuck, main andar, mera bag bahar. Embarrassed, I kept tugging feebly at my bag, but it refused to budge. Phir kya hona tha, in true hindi movie style, Mr Green Headphones came to my rescue yet again. In a display of super human strength, he pulled the doors apart, muscles bulging, shirt fating, bisceps showing. That is how the scene played out in my mind. In reality, he pulled open the doors with help from a baldy uncle with an umbrella and a muscular guy who looked like he spent a lot of his time in the gym. Honestly, I now kinda feel like Mr Headphones was doing pulling ka natak and bechara baldy uncle and muscular gym guy were doing all the mehnat. My bag was rescued in the nick of time and I thanked the trio coyly. Actually, the coy smile was meant for Mr Green Headphones but continuity maintain karne ke liye I gave same to same smile to everyone.

And we went our separate ways.

But fate, obviously, had other things in store. 

I was at the coffee machine at work a couple of days later, blabbering away with my friend T. Coffee cup in one hand and a bottle of water in the other, I was oblivious to the tall and cute guy standing behind me. My phone rang and in my haste to answer it, I dropped my coffee cup. Coffee splashed out and splattered all over the guy's light coloured trousers. Scared, I turned to apologise. And came face to face with, no prizes for guessing, Mr Green Headphones!! While I apologised profusely, he shrugged and walked away. 

As Mr Fate would have it, Mr Green Headphones urf Matt works in my office. In an office full of tall, cute guys, he seems to just blend in. Waise bhi all angrez ladka log look the same to me. If it weren’t for his green headphones, I dont think I could have lusted after recognised him on the train everyday.

He walked up to me at work yesterday. Smiled and sat on the chair next to me. And in cool dude style asked "Do you want to meet up for coffee today."
I smiled coyly, jhukofied my nazrein and answered "I hope the coffee is in a cup and not on your pants this time".

And that is the reason why, yet again, we went our separate ways. :D :D

Sunday, April 22, 2012

To Mr Sexy Forearms....

Tumhara yun mujhe chedna, muje yaad rahega,
Every smile I smiled with you, mujhe yaad rahega,
Tum mujhe yaad rakho ya na rakho ae sexy forearms wale,
Tumhare saath bitaya hua harr pal, muje yaad rahega ♥ ♥ ♥

Woh tumhari katilana hassi, the way you looked into my eyes
Woh tumhare deep, deep dimples, the way you touched my arm,
I read between the lines, I overanalysed your words,
I tried, I promise, but I just couldnt resist your charms 

Tere saath parking lot main ghumna, mujhe yaad rahega
Woh tera mere paas chipak ke baithna, mujhe yaad rahega
Tumhare kadamo main toh pade hain sekdo dil, ae dil churane wale,
Lekin hume humara khoya hua dil, humesha yaad rahega 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Chicken Soup for the Dying Blog’s Soul....

3 stories. No connection. Just a small stab at a huge writers block J

Age 8:

Chotu Shanu rushed down the stairs. At a distance she could see all her chintar pintar friends engrossed in a game of Catch and Cook. Screaming, all ran helter skelter trying to avoid getting out. Her little eyes searched for her best friend Anagha. A quick scan revealed that Anagha was standing on top of the water tank looking around at everyone running about. Shanu understood Anagha’s plight. She was stuck on the water tank all by herself and could be caught by the denner any moment now. She needs my help, Shanu realised.

“Tu ghabru nakos, me yete” yelled Shanu and climbed up the water tank. Anagha looked at her with happy eyes, came rushing to her and with one mild stroke touched her hand and shouted “OUT”

Age 12:

Shanu felt pretty as she walked towards the playground. Her new jeans and new shoes shone in the summer sun. Out in the distance, she saw her crush standing with his buddies. 4 years older and several inches taller, he was the best batsman in her school cricket team.

Everyone knew about her crush. A teacher had caught her doodling his name in her Maths book and had shown it to the whole class. News spread like wild fire and now everytime her path crossed his, she heard whispers and snickers.

Today was no different. People snickered and whispered as she walked. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw his buddies push him towards her. Her heart raced as she saw him approaching. The wind blew his silky hair and he looked absolutely yummilicious.

As he crossed her path, he stopped and looked right into her eyes. And with his beautiful lips whispered ‘I think tera zip khula hai’

Age 16:

Shanu hated kids right from bachpan. They were irritating, cranky and pissed/ shat at the drop of a hat. She avoided holding them till they were potty trained. Potty trained kids were easier to handle and they didn’t wet your clothes every 15 minutes.

Adi was 2 and roly poly. He had gorgeous curls and a beautiful, round dusky face. And most importantly, he was potty trained.

Shanu watched as he played with the toys and sipped milk from his little bottle.

Tired from all the running around and playing, he looked at her with sleepy eyes and smiled. A slight nod and he came rushing to her and sat in her lap. As he ate the mashed bananas she was feeding him, he turned to her and planted a kiss on her cheek. Her heart melted. No more hating bacchas, she decided. Spotting an unexplored toy, he dashed off to play but not before he adorned her lap with a batch of fresh puke.

Abhi ke liye itna hi….I shall be back soon. With something funny and original. I promise.