82| Feb March Roundup

How have you all been?

I think the everyday a blog post thing is not happening. But, but, I am still glad that it’s forcing me to write as much as possible, which was the idea anyway.

I moved back to Delhi from Bangalore on 15th February. As expected, its been a whirlwind since then. I expected it mostly because of personal work that I and my family had to take care of post my move back. However, I was quite not ready for the hectic life that my new job would lead to. Not complaining though, its good so far. 🙂 I am hoping for a content and happy year!

Would love to hear from you, how things are at your respective ends. 🙂

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44 | Of Cities that feel like Holiday

Bangalore has always felt like a holiday.

As I step into the airport with a one way ticket to Delhi, this fact hits hard in a bittersweet way.

I guess it’s a lot to do with the kind of life that you have in a city more than the city itself. I was on my own here, so I was making all the decisions for myself, be it good or bad and being alone leaves you with less responsibilities and much more time to chill. Which means I had a lot of time to explore around, thus, making it all the more like a holiday.

However, it has a lot to do with the city itself. I first wrote about Bangalore here. When I was visiting Blore for the first time as mentioned in this post, I was staying at a particular spot in Indiranagar and very casually I just happened to think – if I ever move to Blore, I want to stay in this very area! When I moved to Blore for my job in 2017, I ended up renting a place right there! The universe conspired to make it happen? So, I was in one of the best areas which made me feel really good about this city. There are a lot of shitty areas in Blore, in fact, a lot more shitty areas than the good ones because this is a very unplanned city which never really bothered to ready itself for the influx of people it gets. I have barely been to any of these, so these pretty areas that I was in added to the holiday feel. My travel to work was taken care by office for a long time and rest of the time I had to go to my base location in this area itself, so that means I didn’t really have to kill myself over the infamous Blore traffic. All in all, the gorgeous weather, beautiful cafes & bars and bookstores in my area just lead to making this city feel a lot like a Holiday.

Bangalore, you will always be special. I have only gratitude for all the gorgeous places and experiences and gratitude to the almighty for the opportunity to explore within and around in a wonderful setting. 🙂

I hope this move back to Delhi for all the good reasons is as (or more) successful and full of happiness! ❤

38 | Rains

Just now, as I sit in the bedroom listening to splitter-splatter of raindrops in my balcony and around, I wish I could curl up with you, a good book and some hot snacks & beverage. 🙂

So much for always saying that I don’t understand what’s so romantic about rains really!

37 | Easy Recipes 101 | #1 Dahi Aloo Sabzi

I see a lot of recipes on the internet which mention that most of the things needed must already be in your pantry. Well, when that’s not the case, I feel disappointed. More like, duped. Haha, I know its nobody’s fault, but you get what I mean right? Sometimes the recipe is more work than you expected and then the enthusiasm for something quick but delicious goes off!

I hope that’s not the case with this one. Its fairly easy and as all recipes must say: you have mostly everything in your pantry already. 😛 Its my flatmate’s recipe and is really one of the quickest and filling things out there. Only issue is that only those people who like tart-y kind of food will like this. The best part? Since you can adjust the yogurt as per your taste, you can increase it for that extra protein and I usually reduce my number of chapatis to one with this dish to make it a low carb meal, because it already has potatoes for carbs. You can skip chapati as well if that’s your thing!

Oh, also, do let me know how you like this recipe segment on the blog which I was excited to start after this post. 🙂 I have jotted down a couple of recipes previously on the blog, and I loved doing that, so here’s bringing it back!

Things you will need (for 2 servings/bowlfuls):

1. Boiled potatoes cut into cubes – 2 medium

2. Curd/Yogurt – as per taste, you will be putting it post potatoes, so you can choose how much you want to “cover” the potatoes, like, thick gravy or thin (guys, I will always be like this with measurements 😦 )

3. Kasuri Methi (Dried fenugreek leaves) – as per taste (This is the only ingredient which is slightly fancier and not everybody may have in their kitchen but mostly do :P)

4. Cooking Oil – 1.5 to 2 tablespoons

5. Jeera (Cumin Seeds)

6. Red Chilly Powder

7. Black Chilly Powder (Not necessary)

8. Coriander Powder

9. Turmeric Powder

10. Amchur (Mango Powder & Not Necessary)

11. Garam Masala (Not Necessary)

12. Salt

*All spices as per taste

How To:

1. Put oil in a pan and wait for it to heat up for around a minute. Heat should be medium or medium-low.

2. Add jeera and let it crackle.

3. To this, add the cubed boiled potatoes.

4. Add all spices except no 3, 10 and 11 mentioned above. Add them as per your taste & if you are just starting with cooking, half a teaspoon each for all these should do for 2 potatoes. You can taste once the dish is ready if you want to increase anything.

5. Mix everything so that potatoes are well coated with the spices.

6. Start adding kasuri methi to the pan. Again, you can decide how much based on the coverage you are getting on the potatoes, I feel 2 or 3 tablespoons maximum. A lot of people find it bitter when quantity is a bit too much, so you might want to start with little.

7. Now, turn the heat to low. Start adding yogurt/curd and stirring simultaneously so that curd doesn’t split a lot. For how much curd to add, go to point 2 in the ‘Things you will need’ section.

8. At this point, add amchur and garam masala if you have those. Again, as per taste or half a teaspoon each and give a good mix to the pan.

9. Taste the recipe to adjust for salt etc.

That’s it really! Do try this out once at least. Only thing remaining for me is to make Rahul taste this, who loves my regular yogurt sabzi (will post that someday). I am not a big fan of that one, but if he ends up loving this version, then it will be a win-win as I love this one!

36 | The Tale of the Most Ornate Blouse

Let me tell you a little bit about my sartorial choices – Whenever I have to decide on Indian festive wear outfits, say, for weddings, Indian festivals or parties where ideally you should wear Indian, I always try to get something unique. What I mean is I am sure a lot of people want that, but I am willing to go that extra mile. Basically, I don’t stick to just looking for ready-made garments, I try to have a picture in my mind of what I want to wear & then actively work towards making it come together. This is not so difficult if you do not care about how much you spend on the said outfit, because then you can simply leave it to a designer and tell her your vision, but I try to get these outfits for cheaper than the most obvious way to get them, because let’s face it, these outfits only have a face value & you cannot get a lot of re-use out of them.

More importantly, I love working on making these outfits come together, then just handing over the task to an expert, because I love when the end result is a fruit of MY vision!

I thought I’ll share some of these outfits on the blog from time to time, because the stories about how I ended up getting these made excite me a lot 🙂 Maybe, you will also find them as interesting!

Onto the story of the most ornate blouse:

When I graduated engineering college, we were preparing for our farewell & one of the most important bits for such events (especially when you’re young :P) is what to wear. Since we were supposed to wear a saree, I had a clear vision in mind of a plain thin material (like georgette) sari in hot pink! Being in the student life, I wanted to go as cheap as possible, so I bought a very pretty looking hot pink fabric for sari but it was a mixed fabric, not pure georgette, so it came for dirt cheap price-wise. Then, I looked for a border to put on the sari and another pretty sequin fabric for the blouse. This sari turned out way, way better than my expectations. Both I and my mom have re-worn it several times afterwards and I for one do not seem to get over it even after 6 years!! I am pretty sure I’ll re-wear it sometime again! Below is a bad quality picture from 2013. 🙂 That’s me wearing the sari for the first time. 🙂

Afterwards, I planned to wear this sari again for a close friend’s sister’s wedding in 2015 & I really wanted to do something new with the sari this time. I already had this purple blouse made and I paired the hot pink sari with the purple blouse. I would like to believe that this combination is match made in heaven.

But when did this ornate blouse happen? Come on, woman, people do not have time for so many of your silly stories!  I had gone to the Gujarati market in Janpath to look for something, don’t remember what and I was just walking back in disappointment on not finding it when my eyes fell upon this really ornate kurta. It was bright purple & full of golden & pink embroidery all over. It immediately reminded me of Madhuri Dixit’s ornate blouse in the song ‘Didi tera dewar diwana’ because of the color! Now, the Janpath Gujarati market deserves a post of its own because of its uniqueness. You end up finding absolutely one-of-a-kind fabric pieces or clothes there because its mostly hand-embroidered stuff which Gujarati families make & bring there to sell. I love going there because even if I don’t buy something, there will be just so much artistic stuff to look at! Sorry, back to the ornate purple kurta. It was a kurta but it reminded me of Madhuri’s blouse as mentioned above. Immediately I envisioned that I will get this made into a blouse & pair it with plain sarees or lehengas or whatever works! I ran to the shop and bargained the kurta from 1500 to 600 INR probably 🙂 (it was a long time ago!) and ran back with my prized possession! I was elated with my vision.

Never even once did it cross my mind that tailors will refuse to cut apart a kurta and stitch it into a brand new blouse because its extremely difficult to re-stitch something which has such heavy embroidery. I got refused by several tailors and my mom, who is anyway not into experimenting for outfits, suggested that I should simply wear the kurta as a kurta because who knows it will end up well even if some tailor agrees to put so much effort for us. This was unacceptable to me! My mind was set on the blouse. Finally, after a lot of coaxing, one tailor relented and the best part is that he stitched it very well also. 🙂

Afterwards, I also got a plain lehenga made to go with this blouse for another occasion. Whenever someone compliments this blouse or asks about it, and I tell them that it was a kurta I saw hanging in some market, they find it unbelievable. I am just happy that it’s a very unique piece.

33 | Getting food to the table

When I moved to Berlin in 2016, I started cooking proper meals. Not just for myself, but for 5 people. We were 5 friends living together, and the others used to take up different chores around the house while I took care of the cooking bit, with each of us helping each other as required, of course. When I started, I was fairly amateurish, but I improved, obviously due to practice. When you are making chapatis for 5 people almost every other day, you are bound to get better at it.

After our semester ended, we all relocated to different places in Europe and I was living alone in the new city (Ljubljana, Slovenia) in a shared apartment. This meant cooking only for myself. I really didn’t feel motivated enough to make chapatis for just one person, so I must have made chapatis maybe once or twice in a span of, say, 3 months. I think its pretty weird for an Indian who is perfectly adept at making chapatis. However, despite not getting my hands dirty with chapati making, I did not feel too lazy about cooking my own meals. It almost became second nature. At this point, I was clear that whenever I move back to India and start living on my own, I will not hire a cook till the time I can do without it so as to not lose my habit of cooking every day meals without feeling lazy. (I assume every one reading this post is aware that its pretty affordable to hire a cook in India compared to western countries).

Till this day, I have not kept a cook. This also includes a 6-month stint in Dubai where I had an office provided serviced apartment which basically has a kitchen with bare essentials. I was perfectly comfortable cooking my own meals there as well.

However, there is one thing I have realized in this bringing food to the table journey of mine. I am a very ‘jugaadu’ type of cook. This is a Hindi word which means someone who wants to do stuff the street smart way, without doing everything by the book. What I mean is that my prime goal while cooking is always to fix a meal in the shortest span of time possible with it being delicious. However, I am not too patient with following recipes, nor am I one of those who will rush to get that one ingredient to get the recipe right. If I don’t have it, I’ll mostly do without it. Why am I writing this post then? That is because I feel a little envious of those who carefully craft a recipe around me and it usually tastes fabulous. I don’t want to change the way I cook entirely, I am more of going with the flow kinds, but sometimes I wish I had that kind of patience on few days at least. (Only few days though, because I know these careful crafters will not be comfortable cooking such elaborate recipes everyday :P). For me, even when I am hosting people, I find it hard to cook patiently. :/

Do you cook? What are you – the patient & elaborate recipe cook or the fix a meal quickly like myself? Tell me below!

Also, on a related note, I am thinking of chronicling my quick recipes here! Do let me know how that sounds. 🙂

Take care!