mostly about food and cooking, but also the stories about the Bread and the Butterflies!

Archive for the ‘Ruminations and rants’ Category

Another One Bites…

In Ruminations and rants on February 19, 2007 at 9:35 pm

I debated if I should. I must. Tell you. Though you are sure to discover it anyhow.

treasured clips

There is a new blog. You could call it old, though. Did you read one of my earliest posts here on Adai, the other Dosa? If you did, then you may remember I mentioned a certain CY Gopinath and his wonderful writing. He used to write a most delicious column on food in TOI back in the early 90’s when TOI was still readable (they were always sloppy it seems; look carefully at the pic in the ‘dosa’ article, it is upside down!). And since you probably know by now that I was a Dravidian in my previous life and not this one, his descriptions became the source of many of the South Indian staples I continue to make even today. His writing style conveyed trusted authenticity of the food he shared wrapped in wonderful stories.

Those of you who were in Kindergarten at the time, and limited by their reading skills (or lack of them), can rejoice. CYG has decided to re-publish his writings as a blog! There are no two opinions – it is amongst the best food writing there is! And the tone is truly Indian. It’s a treat. Apparently, I had something to do with it 🙂 – he came across the mention on my post and decided to start Gopium (great name too)! Ahem…so feel free to send a tiny “thank you” my way too. 🙂

The trouble is, he’s on a roll – as of this moment there are 16 very delectable posts out already! You have lots of catching up to do. Read this one on Kashmiri cooking to know why there are so few Kashmiri recipes here!

And, you are very welcome.



Three Things…

In Ruminations and rants on January 17, 2007 at 6:55 pm

First Lakshmik (Veggie Cuisine) and then Shaheen (Malabar Spices) tagged me for this meme. I always need lots of time for the ‘meme’ stuff – thankfully, unlike in real life, for a blog I can take the time to think up witty one liners what I think are witty one-liners. So here goes:

3 Things that make me laugh
Watching Friends
Watching Seinfeld
Watching Friends again… and again and again. (I know, that adds up to a lot of TV. They also say laughing is a good thing. So there.)

3 Things that make me cry
Watching our Saas-bahu serials from the K-factory (looking at those decked-up conniving women with an inch thick make-up makes you want to pull your hair out. And that is very painful. So I don’t. Watch the serials, I mean.)
Watching movies like Stepmom – a totally different kind of crying. Not painful, but feels like something’s stuck in your throat.
Chopping onions. Not very original. Or witty. But true.

3 Things that scare me
There you have me. I’m not really scared of things other than being put on the spot! In the limelight I mean. Like that will happen! So, I’ll say I don’t scare easy. I hate cockroaches but I am not scared of them – I can always stomp on them (yuk).
But I am mortally afraid of riding a bicycle, with good reason.

3 Things I love
Reading the Sunday papers (especially The Hindu)
Delhi’s Four-seasons Climate, always sunny!
A good cup of tea

3 Things I hate – too strong an emotion, let’s make that – I can’t stand
Dealing with corrupt officers (I can’t offer bribes you see. Big problem.)
muggy-cloudy weather for too long (London is not for me!)
Roaches/ Salman Khan

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Step into My Parlour….said the Spider

In Ruminations and rants on January 9, 2007 at 11:14 pm

my kitchen
Morning cuppa..the sun’s not up

Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,
‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;

The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I’ve a many curious things to shew when you are there.”
Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”

“I’m sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?” said the Spider to the Fly.
“There are pretty curtains drawn around; the sheets are fine and thin,
And if you like to rest awhile, I’ll snugly tuck you in!”
Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “for I’ve often heard it said,
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!”

Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, “Dear friend what can I do,
To prove the warm affection I’ve always felt for you?
I have within my pantry, good store of all that’s nice;
I’m sure you’re very welcome — will you please to take a slice?”

“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “kind Sir, that cannot be,
I’ve heard what’s in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!”

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VCC Q3 2006, Voting Has Begun!

In Ruminations and rants, Traditions and Customs on November 5, 2006 at 7:22 pm

Many of you out there already know about the Virtual Cooking Competition (VCC) that was started by VKN at My Dhaba. The third (quarter) edition entries are currently in and all of you can participate in voting for the entries of your choice. The theme for VCC Q3 2006 is Festival Foods (any cuisine).

Check out the delicious spread here and decide the wining entry. I am off to cast my vote!

Badrinath, Auli, and Har ki Pauri

In Ruminations and rants, Travel on September 18, 2006 at 7:10 pm

Part I (Valley of Flowers National Park)

Part II

We were never ready when we said we would be. The others, not Vijay and I. But we were happy with the unhurried pace of the whole trip. After planning to be ready by 6am, we all left the hotel for the temple at 7:30. Still early, some might say.

No scramble to leave your shoes, none for making your purchases of the offerings. Again we were the exceptions, choosing to say quiet prayers with our hands folded in reverence (Vijay, the non-believer that he is, probably didn’t do either).

Badri Badri
Steam rising from hot springs at the foot of the temple; the street market

Nestled in the lofty Himalayas are the char dhams (four pilgrim places), Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath, four of the most holy of pilgrimages for Hindus. Scenic mountains combined with holy waters (the Yamuna at Yamunotri, the Ganga at Gangotri, the Mandakini at Kedarnath, and the Alaknanda at Badrinath) present a picture of sacred tranquility.

Modern roads have made these remote places easily accessible and, at peak times, the queues for the darshan have become the rule, taking away from the spiritual experience; the reason behind the remoteness of the sacred spots, much diluted. It really is in the journey, not the destination. All of the four dhams are snow bound and inaccessible for much of the year. He must need the time to recover!

I can now check one dham on my list, though the order that they ought be visited is Yamunotri-Gangotri-Kedarnath-Badrinath. Trust us to start at the end!


After a hearty breakfast of idli-dosa we were on our way to Auli famous as a ski resort. We took the ropeway to the top through the most beautiful meadows and forests. The oak forest gradually turned to majestic pines and then the open meadow with lazily grazing cows. At last,we knew the reason behind the sweetness in the milk and the reason I did not need to sweeten my tea. Seems to me free-grazing cows do give tastier milk. Now I understand what Barbara, over at Tigers and Strawberries, has been talking about all this time!

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The Valley of Flowers National Park

In Eating Out, Ruminations and rants, Travel on September 17, 2006 at 11:20 pm

As I promised, this blog was going to be also about other stories..and the butterflies (along with the caterpillars) finally make their appearance.


Our group consisted of the husband and I, three of his college-mates from BKPS, Pune (Kiran-Anju, and Prasad) and Anagha, Prasad’s wife. Barring Anagha, we are all over 40 and strong believers in ‘life begins at 40’. You’ll agree once you get there. For the record, none of us felt a day over 25.The first day’s drive out of Delhi was the usual grime and noise of small UP towns and we reached Rishikesh in the evening. Next morning we drove leisurely through the Shivalik lower Himalayas to arrive in Joshimuth for the night halt. The following morning we parked the car at Govindghat and started our trek to Ghangria.

lazy villages on the way

Govindghat to Ghangria
What a crazy bunch we were (Kiran and Prasad more than the rest)! The only time we felt we were 40+ was when climbing the last bit of the 15km from Govindghat to Ghangria. There are no overnight halts on the way and the distance has to be covered at a stretch. It took us all of 8 hours! The locals do it in 3! But then we did stop often to eat and drink (and catch our breath!).

Maggie break on way to Ghangria

The last 3km stretch is the killer! It is steeper and with the day and your energy ebbing, you finally hit the wall. Anagha felt some high-altitude sickness and Anju tried to feign a heart-attack, but Prasad made them walk anyway! I would like to state here that I was walking ahead of the pack, with only Vijay and Kiran (on ponies) beating me to the ‘summit’.

The Valley of Flowers
The trek had begun…We were to visit the Valley of Flowers the next day, 6km up and 6km down! Anagha and Anju played safe and hired piththoos (porters with baskets to carry luggage or people!) this time. Ponies are not allowed inside the National Park area, and we were glad for that. Definitely more pleasant without the stink. I was the only one that made it to the memorial grave stone for Joan Margaret, a botanist who slipped and died in 1939, while collecting and researching the flora.

Piththoo carries Anju!

The narrow stone trail along the Pushpavati River which emerges from the glaciers here, was exhilarating. The sun was bright and we were lucky to see the snow-kissed peaks of Rataban. The flowers were at the end of their blooming season, and we saw the beauty in the seed-heads and the grasses turning golden as they go dormant for the approaching winter.


Two young girls (Kiran and Priya) were our informed guides. It gladdened me to see young rural girls working away from home. They were employees (four months every year) of the Eco Development Committee, Ghangria. The committee has done some very impressive work in cleaning up years of garbage from this area. The documentary at the interpretive centre in Ghangria presented a model of mobilising local participation. The entire trek route is clean. Garbage is collected regularly and transported down to Goving Ghat and out from there. The Valley of Flowers National Park has been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO this year.

For a map of our travel area click here.

Next day we decided that we did not want this trip to be a test of endurance and stayed put at Ghangria, where there is, unfortunately, nothing to do. No one was up for the 5km hard trek to Hem Kund, ponies or no ponies. We missed out on a unique landscape.

Sikh pilgrims
Sikh pilgrims on way to Hem Kund Sahib

Our spirits were high for the 15km return to Govindghat next morning. We were amazed at the variety of flowers and butterflies we observed on our way down! All the ones we saw in the Valley and then some. Whatever were we preoccupied with on the way up?!!



This time we stopped to watch the butterflies and ended up taking a good 6 hours to climb down! By now our knees were giving way. We were glad to be in the car and on our way to Badrinath.

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A Me…me

In Ruminations and rants on September 16, 2006 at 12:21 pm

I have been tagged again! This time by Priya (and, since I have taken so long, by Nandita as well!) to tell you all about myself! I was planning to post on the VOF trip before tackling this, but that post is taking longer. So, on to the Me Me:

I am thinking about:
catching the early-morning Shatabdi to Amritsar (work).
I said : but I just got back! The VOF trip was a blast, but since accomodation was so-so at most places, plus all that walking, and your own bed being the ultimate in comfort, I would have liked some time to unwind.
I want to : see Lage Raho Munna Bhai. I really liked part I. At last there was again a truly original Hindi movie with dialogues that were our own, culturally and temporally, and a sense of humor that did not start and end at characters slipping on banana peels or making funny faces. The reviews for the second story are very good; look forward to seeing it soon.
I wish : there were no wars. There are no winners. Just more pain, more hardship, and more hatered and vengeance. And women and children bear the brunt. And yet, enough of us continue to believe it can bring resolution!
I regret : not downing that second Margarita (long ago in Boulder)…it was soooo smoooth…I was afraid to! I should have…
I hear : when I should listen.
I am : an optimist. I look for the silver lining, and it will surprise you, there always is one. It’s all for the better (how else would you believe in tomorrow?!).
I dance : like Elaine! (Seinfeld). Therefore, I don’t.
I sing : but I shouldn’t. Really.
I cry : but I shouldn’t. And at the silliest moments! Sometimes, even at happy endings – they so tug at your heart. The ‘Vande Matram’ video (AR Rahman) brought tears to my eyes; the National Anthem always does! Go figure! I must be getting old or something.
I am not : a morning person. Not that I am grumpy when I have to be up early. Just that I would rather sleep-in.
I dream of : owning a tiny home-farm and grow my own food (in Belgaum!). I would like to chuck this city life, go to a small town (that was big enough that it would have some cultural life – I don’t want to be far-far-away from the city – too much of the city in me for that!) and experiment with organic farming. But, it doesn’t come cheap. I have to put in my time in the city first…
I am with my hands: a miracle worker (chances of sainthood in the future, you think?).
I write : to connect with like-minded people. I am an introvert in a big group. So this blogging works for me. I can be a part of the big group (or maybe it is small!) without really knowing!
I laugh : while watching Seinfeld (and Friends) for the n’th time
I confuse : huh?!!
I value : my family. They are and will always be there for me.
I need : lots of hugging! Recent research has proved what I knew all along: hugging can bring down blood pressure (especially for women). Yet TH has to be reminded every now and then.

Maybe Vaishali would like to be tagged? She is part of my small group, maybe? I see that Krithika has already been tagged!

PS: Vaishali has been tagged already too! I think, this thread ends with me!

Back from the Garhwal Himalayas with a quiz

In Ruminations and rants on September 12, 2006 at 7:48 pm

Okay, I’m back. But that was not a trip designed for 40+ city dwellers with sedentary jobs! Will give you details after full recovery. Just kidding. It was a swell trip. The mountains are always beautiful and the Garhwal Himalayas wear their beatious cloak of green with such grace.

Food was, sadly, not the high point of the trip but I managed to put on a couple of pounds anyway. Garhwali cuisine, like many a cuisine of the world, is not for public consumption yet. One of the hotels we stayed at I was able to convince the staff that we had had enough of the dal makhni-matar paneer-kadhai paneer-jeera aloo routine and would really love some homey stuff of veges that were obviously plentiful. And he obliged with a simple dish of (home cooked!) bottle gourd, some dal and, on his own initiative, added a delicious dish of stir fried rai (mustard greens).

Now to the quiz: Can you guess what ‘fruit’ is in the following picture?


While I will not be able to supply any recipes for Garhwali dishes, you may take the opportunity to drool over these pictures…a feast for the eyes.

On way
on way to Joshimath

Tea Break
ginger tea at Joshimath

puff, puff..from Govind Ghat to Ghangri

in the Valley of Flowers

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Tea Break

In Ruminations and rants on September 2, 2006 at 7:42 pm

It is finally feeling like monsoon-time in Delhi. The heavens have opened and it’s been raining here in Delhi for the last 3 days…just when I was leaving for the mountains! And it will be raining even more there. Keeping my fingers crossed that the hiking trip will not be a complete washout.

Perfect weather for the fat-free potato chips I made in the microwave just now. Shall tell you all about those when I return.
See you soon with notes from Uttaranchal and the Valley of Flowers!

Five Things To Eat Before You Die

In Ruminations and rants on September 1, 2006 at 8:19 pm

five thingsI have been tagged!! I am thrilled! But is not the easiest of lists… Five Things To Eat Before You Die meme started by Melissa of The Traveler’s Lunchbox has been sent my way by Carolyn who writes the wonderful stories from the Field to Feast. And I agree with her that it is the stories that make the food. Most of our comfort foods are that because of their associations.

I remember my first Hot Chocolate Fudge sundae at Nirula’s in CP, shared between three friends to split the princely price of Rs7.50 three way – we were in X grade and it was our first outing so far away from home territory (12 km?); and the most delicious hamburger I ever had was at a small place in the mountains near Denver after a long hike (part of which involved some reluctant mountain biking for the last stretch that resulted in badly scraped knees and elbows; I couldn’t bike on a straight road if my life depended on it). We decided I should walk when I flew off the handle (yes, really) and fell, no crashed, for the third time. Kevin felt so sorry for making me ride the bike that he didn’t even let me pay for the burger! No ketchup, btw.

There are a lot of foods that I love. And that is the case with all of you out there; we are passionate about food to the extent that we are willing to make it the focus of our writing (and reading!). But ‘…before you die’ has a yearning tied to it of repeating an experience before we pass over to the other realm (new lives and newer experiences for some of us :-)). That is how I have approached this list of experiences tied to food, that I wish to happen (again) (and again) before I die.

1. Mutsch – Kashmiri Meatballs: An integral part of a Kashmiri wedding banquet, these are also popular at regular meal times. Ground lamb meat gently simmered in a spicy gravy to make the most succulent meatballs. These are so versatile that they can be served with any bread, Indian or otherwise, or as is the tradition, on a bed of warm starchy short grain Kashmiri rice. The promised recipe will be posted as soon as I have figured out my mother’s secret ingredient! No matter how closely I try to follow what she ‘says’ is her recipe, it never comes out like hers. My son vouches that “no one makes it like Nani“. I have gotta master this so that my grandchildren can have the opportunity to say the same (in my case, it’s going to be Dadi though!).

These meatballs are truly delicious and you always want more. It is true, my son (then six years old) had tears in his eyes at the prospect of sharing the last two pieces with his mom whom he was visiting after a one year separation! This when my mother was cooking it for him every other day during their visit with me! That time she used ground turkey since lamb is not readily available in the US and my father would not eat beef. I personally feel that turkey is the better substitute for this dish.

2. Japanese country food at Domo’s, Denver: On a weekday in the winter of 1997, Steve at work suggested we try out this new place for lunch. Most of us there were interested immediately, including Catriona, who would rarely come for leisurely lunches with the rest so that she could be home early for her son and husband. I was acting ‘single’, with my family far away in Delhi. So the group set out to try out Domo and what it was about. Like all things Japanese it had an unpretentious but aesthetic air to it. Very Zen, I will say. We entered a room that was rustic in style with thick wooden tables and a view of a picture perfect garden to tell you the time of day and what was going on with nature. I had no idea what to expect since I had never before eaten Japanese food.

I had teriyaki chicken that was served with rice, a few side dishes, and a miso soup. The food was so delicately flavoured, and I fell in love with Japanese country food in that instant. Simple food that can touch the soul and the serving size, most unlike American portions, was perfect. Satiating as against filling. So unlike the feisty Indian food I am used to yet completely satisfying. And they serve no soy sauce, salt or pepper at the table. Everything was perfect: the ambiance, the company (I never did understand the American thing against socialising with people from work – here is a group of people I have a lot in common with – good conversation is always assured. Perhaps it is not applicable to people in creative fields?), and the food. No sluggish after effects at work either.

I checked before writing if Domo was still around. I am very happy to report that not only has it been around for these last nine years but it has also been judged the best Japanese restaurant in Denver and 5th best in the US! And the prices are amazingly the same as they were nine years ago. (How I wish Delhi restaurateurs would figure out ways to serve good food without it costing an arm and a leg!). I pray they open a place here before I die.

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