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Posts Tagged ‘food’

The sound of silence

November 15, 2012 Leave a comment

We had planned to leave from office at 4:30, but then I had to get on a phone call and we were delayed by 30 min. On the way home, we slowed near a traffic light – and saw a Safeway across the street. A plan was formed in an instant, and we drove into the parking lot.

My friends picked up two bags of chicken, chips and a nice cheese dip. 20 minutes later, I put the tea-kettle on the stove, and my friends started with the marinade. The marinated chicken was relegated to the fridge, and we picked up our cups of tea.

2 hours later, the chicken was taken out of the fridge and put in the oven. I am vegetarian, so I picked up some pita chips myself. As I gorged on the chips, my friends picked up their drumsticks and started munching out loud.

Normally I would have joined them, but today I am in no mood to hear barbarians lick their chops.

So here I am, in the bedroom, with another cup of tea. The bedroom’s much colder than the rest of the house, but then it’s immaterial today – my Skullcandy earphones drown out all background noise. Nothing is more important.

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High Fidelity

October 23, 2012 Leave a comment

A few days ago, my friend and I went to the local Best Buy for some window shopping. While my friend was busy checking out tablets, I headed to the music section and stopped in front of the Bose kiosk. I tapped the buttons, took the tour of the various systems, and admired the sound – clear, loud notes that you can only experience but not describe.

And as I stood there thinking, I was suddenly transported back in time.

In early 2004, I worked in Talawade – an industrial area outside Nigdi, hardly 20km away from Pune. Talawade is the local mecca for small-scale manufacturers, and is filled with tiny workshops interspersed with larger factories. If you approach Talawade from Nigdi, the road finally comes to a dead end, and then you either turn right towards Bhosari, or left towards Dehu Road.

Just around this corner, there was (is?) a small joint about 100 feet away from the tarmac. Trucks lined the empty space in front of it, and in the rainy seasons you had to watch your step while going in. From the road, it appeared to be just another dhaba, but as you walked closer, your senses were pleasantly assaulted – the smell of dal fry and the tandoor lingered in the air, truck drivers’ chit-chat was all around, and waiters scurried around attending to the patrons.

The owner sat in a corner, keeping an eye on the proceedings, and next to him was a small portable stereo. It was connected to two speakers installed in the rafters, and it belted out hits from the 70s through the early 90s. The speakers  were tinny, and the songs were always scratchy – no bass and hardly any “body” to the songs. But whenever a song ended, we would inadvertently stop chatting in anticipation of the next one.

Most of the times, you would get to hear classics from the likes of QSQT, Aashiqui and Hero, but once in a while the owner would switch gears and treat us to Kishore Kumar or even Gulzaar. Lunch would get over in about 25 min, but we would stay for longer. We would leave an hour after reaching the dhaba – stomachs gorged on dal-roti and mind sated with great music.

How not to cook breakfast

July 7, 2012 Leave a comment

One of my favorite Maharashtrian snacks happens to be “Sabudana Khichadi“.

On Friday morning, I decided to cook this for breakfast – the recipe is deceptively simple. The Sago pearls were soaked and ready, so I started with the tempering. I added the Cumin seeds to the heated Ghee, and then the potatoes . While I waited for this to fry, I switched on the T.V. – only to find Rene Russo dancing with Pierce Brosnan.

Now, Sabudana Khichadi is not as simple as the recipes make it out to be – one miss, and instead of soft, spicy Sago pearls you end up with a congealed mess that’s tougher than leather.

I ran inside the kitchen again – the potatoes were almost done, and it was time to add the chillies. I quickly stirred them, and was back in the living room – the T.V.’s not completely visible from the kitchen.

Honestly speaking, I was in two minds – one part was asking me to go ahead and watch the movie – at the cost of the khichadi. And the other – the foodie – was saying (and rightly so) that movie reruns are a fact of life, but good khichadi is hard to come by.

As I struggled between the horns of the dilemma, HBO came to my rescue, and someone from Airtel started singing about how good they are.

Relieved, I went inside the kitchen again, and the rest of the movie was spent with a steaming plate of Sabudana Khichadi.

All’s well that ends well – III

April 13, 2012 5 comments

This is the third of a three-part series on our journey back to India.

All’s well that ends well – I

All’s well that ends well – II

We disembarked at the Mumbai airport, and made our way through the immigration formalities. As we headed towards the conveyor belts, we were accosted by two porters. I had hired a porter in Denver, and he had accepted what I paid him after he delivered his services. But this is India. A small part of me was happy to haggle – one more sign that I was really back home – but I managed to keep it from showing.

Outside the arrivals gate, our taxi was waiting for us (I had made arrangements before leaving Denver). We took our seats, but before the driver started the engine, I stopped him and stepped back out – to get some Vada Pav. Of course, we had eaten Vada Pav in the US, but then here was the authentic stuff – heaven served on a paper plate.

The taxi took us to Andheri, where we halted for a few minutes. I dropped my wife & daughter at my wife’s aunt’s place, and took the taxi to Vashi – where I was to deposit all the luggage in the guest house that my company had booked for me.

As we made our way past the Juhu Bus Depot, I asked the driver to stop for tea. He asked me if I could wait for another 15 minutes, for his favorite tea-stall was on our route. Of course, I agreed, and 10 minutes later, we stopped near the Sion station – at the fork in the road where you either go left towards Panvel, or right towards Dadar on the Sion-Panvel highway. The driver parked the taxi, and we walked over to the tea-stall.

It was a seedy joint, with fellow taxi drivers standing in a circle, each with a cup of piping-hot chai. A few also had Nankhatai in their hands for dipping in the chai before eating.

Do chai dena sethji,” I called out. Promptly, the owner poured two glasses and handed them to us. We drank the tea & returned the glasses. But I was not done yet, and asked for a Vada Pav – only to learn that they were fresh out of those.

“Bhajiya Pav chalega,” the vendor asked.

I had never had deep-fried battered potato slices instead of the Vada, but decided to taste it this time. The vendor prepared the dish for me, and poured a generous helping of a hot-sweet sauce on the Pav. I ate it, and it was fantastic. I wiped my hands on my jeans (the sauce had dripped all over), and paid the Vendor.

Satisfied and sated, I settled comfortably in the taxi as we made our way to Vashi. The bridge on the creek was empty of traffic – after all, it was just 7AM. As we made our way towards the toll bridge, a local train followed us along side – it was empty too. The sun had risen, and Mumbai’s concrete jungle had started to manifest itself through the mist over Thane creek.

Yes sir, it feels good to be home.

Restaurants that pay you to finish?

February 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Part of my morning drill (after dunking a coffee and reviewing the tasks for the day) is to read business blogs. There are a few that I read every so often, but BNet is one place that I turn to almost every day. Today morning, I stumbled upon an interesting post on Farnoosh Torabi’s You’re so Money. Apparently, there are quite a few restaurants here in the US that will pay you (or reward you, to be correct) if you complete a gastronomical challenge.

What a neat marketing trick! Lure customers with “get money for eating” and present them with something that they just can’t finish… But the reason why this post caught my attention is entirely different.

Three years ago, I used to live in Aundh, in the outskirts of Pune. There was a small eating joint where me and my wife would go on occasion. This was no “Fine Dining” joint; it was rather a place that bachelors frequented more often. A place to get good food for a reasonable price. The kitchen was inside the building, and the tables were set outside in the open.

If you sat at a table to the right (under the Neem tree), you could see a notice posted on the wall – “this restaurant charges patrons that leave leftovers in the plate.” Below it, in a slightly smaller font was the explanation – “Please do not waste food. You and I can afford it, but our nation cannot“.

I hope more people consider this and make it a habit. As they say, it’s little drops of water that make the ocean, after all.

Working on the side

January 25, 2010 Leave a comment

In office, I work. The stuff that I have to do, not necessarily want to do. Oh yes, there also are things that I love to do – which I try to do whether I am out of the workplace or in it.

So what’s on my plate right now? Here’s the list:

  • Writing a novel
  • Practising pencil sketching
  • Learning to make strawberries dipped in chocolate (and possibly orange slices too)

More on these later. Right now, work calls.