Sunday Brunch: Gobhi Paranthas

Gobhi Parantha
A lot has happened in the past four weeks since my last post.  I am back to eating foods through the week that are usually reserved for weekends!

It’s not a very long story, actually.  Over the past few years I gave into TH’s helpful insistence on delegating more housework to the maid so that I had less on my mind and hands.  But that is more complicated than it sounds.

There are two kinds of people: those who like to have extra hands to do their work, and those who wish they could do without.  If you have a slight OCD regarding how you want things in your home and kitchen, you may have to start by teaching the maid everything.  And then you have to remind her constantly (about the same thing) in a kind of continuing education for her (which has nothing to do with your OCD).  If you can look the other way, then it is all fine and dandy.  I cannot.  I cannot drink out  of cups with the lightest tea-stain; I have to have my veggies cut exactly so; the rug centered, the doors shut, and the windows open.  All this takes supervision.  I mean, really super-vision!   One time I caught her about to chutney a roach along with the coriander!  I  don’t know how I saw from the corner of my eye what she could not while putting the ingredients in!  Enough to say that after that there was little chance of her being allowed to cook unsupervised.  To me it always felt as if the maid was in control of my time!

pizza dinner
Pizza dinner on Monday

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Movements and Mah di Dal or Dal Makhni

If you live in India then you have all just been witness to a new kind of activism – the non-violent, light-a-candle protest for a cleaner, corruption-free India.  You may well ask what is new about that – did the Mahatma not start it all those years ago?  I beg to differ.  Those were sustained movements that had mass support from people who knew what they were struggling for.  Anna Hazare rightly said that the struggle has just begun.  But the masses that turned up to support him, especially those in this most corrupt of cities, do they really know what it means to be part of a clean society?  I will be amongst the happiest people if Delhiites really want to be honest and clean.

But I seriously doubt we understand the meaning of signing up for never paying a bribe.  It will mean waiting in line for our turn.  It will mean following rules and living by the laws.  Even when we don’t agree with them.  It will mean no unauthorised constructions, building within prescribed FAR, no encroachment on public land.  It will mean paying our taxes.  It will mean jail time every time we break the law (imagine that!).  It will mean being civil! Those who were there at Jantar Mantar the past week to support Anna in his mission, do they understand the full portent of being part of a non-corrupt society?

The visual media came into its own and declared it a revolution.  If these journos spot a white person in a crowd they assume them to be experts and ask, “So, do you think India has changed?” ??? What kind of a question is that for a tourist?  The forthright white woman told this senior journalist she couldn’t answer that but she might call what she was witnessing a spark perhaps. I think it was lost on our reporter from NDTV who (and many others like him) went on to then compare it with the recent uprisings in the Arab world!  Don’t ask.  Here’s another perspective.

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Another pickle for you

gajar, carrots

Something strange is going on with the weather.  We have had the wettest spring ever and the frequent showers have kept the temperatures down.  I start my day wearing a vest by habit and then within an hour find myself going back down to change into a full-sleeved sweater.  Climate change?  Maybe that is too drastic but this is definitely not our usual Spring.

Beating the Retreat

I did indulge myself in some typical spring activities anyway, such as drinking kanji and enjoying the sunshine; the spring did start out sunny. Mid-January found us traversing the city on a few occasions.   One Sunday morning was spent at the IGNCA viewing Delhi: A Living Heritage exhibit.  On our way back we decided to criss-cross a little and take in the city lights.  We found ourselves joining the crowds watching the rehearsals for the Beating the Retreat ceremony.  We stood there awhile, soaking in national pride and such emotions.

India Gate

Another Sunday afternoon we first hopped on the Metro,  took the city bus next, and then walked to the National Gallery of Modern Art where we heard the very articulate Anish Kapoor talk about his work (and even enjoyed a cup of tea with him!).  Later we walked from the NGMA to the Chinmaya Mission auditorium for TH’s student’s Kuchipudi dance performance, and then took the Metro back home. Continue reading “Another pickle for you”

Palak Panir

Palak Paneer

I have been cooking a lot of express-Indian these past few months. In fact, my usual cooking is reasonably Express, and predominantly Indian. But this was additionally challenging because I was looking for 6 ingredients or less. I am going to take some creative license and add oil to the list of not-to-be-counted ingredients. There is just a tablespoon of it anyway.

Yes, really. And, no cream. Sorry to have been the harbinger of this disappointing information but it is true that in the ‘real’ palak-panir (pah-luk-pun-nir) there is no cream. The creamed-spinach is likely the contribution of some restaurant-cook to fulfill the expectations of Indian food (quasi-Punjabi-Mughlai in most restaurants abroad) shimmering in that layer of floating fat. You do serve sarson-ka-saag makhan mar ke (splattered-with-butter) but not palak panir. Or, maybe, the name-change that this dish underwent when it was exported to the Western shores might have had something to do with this. Palak-(ka-saag)-panir got mixed up with the aforementioned saag and somewhere along the way became saag panirSaag is the generic word for ‘greens’ in Punjabi, but when used by itself usually refers to mustard greens. I believe I have come across recipes (on food blogs) for mustard greens cooked with panir. Inspired? ConFusion? I will keep my counsel.  Maybe Punjabi-kudi can shed more light on this subject… Continue reading “Palak Panir”