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!