Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Delectable Afternoon In "Town"

That was an afternoon well spent in "town" - that's what Mumbaikars call South Mumbai. We kicked off the afternoon at Ballard Estate, with a delectable lunch at Britannia & Co. I have taken the liberty of reproducing some of the photos from my Dad's blog on Britannia - No Love Greater Than The Love Of Eating!

Ahhh! Britannia's rooster!

Yes, the raspberry does go well with the Irani meal!

What a magnificent Banyan!

Oh! They have the Gaz  too! That's the Persian version of nougat!

Weathered, but still not out! That's the magic of Britannia!

Just could not take my eyes off the Banyan!

It was already 2.30PM and there were at least 30 very hungry people waiting to hog on their Berry Pulaos!

An alley by the side - surely it had seen better days!

No Love Greater Than The Love Of Eating!

That's my plateful! 

Britannia's list of awards seems endless!

The Banyan again, in the golden afternoon sun!

A violation - parked right under the no parking sign! Right at the Customs House

The glory of the past!

Ballard Estate is seeped in heritage!

Another regal banyan!

The view across the Maidan!

Rajabai Tower! The heritage makes me love Town even more!

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Pleasant Surprise!

Joyous occasions in life are few and rare to come and when they come as a surprise, those moments become the real moments to cherish.
Something of that sort happened with us today. It was the first anniversary of our new home, and while we had it in our mind all along, the stress of the daily routine made us forget about the momentous occasion this very morning.
The whole day passed with one thought - is all this stress worth it?
After a grueling 1 hour struggle to get through the traffic, I reached home.
That's when I got a real surprise. My folks who are visiting had made us a treat to celebrate the first anniversary. My Mom had spent a couple of hours concocting a delectable Pahari meal, that comes from the serene hills of Himachal Pradesh. Pahari food is something that I had grown up with. This was the food that my grandmother used to painstakingly and lovingly cook to perfection every weekend.
A Pahari meal is generally had with rice. The meal is kicked off with Maddra - vegetables cooked in a thick curd based spicy gravy, with some rice.
Then comes the daal alongwith a khatta. The khatta is a sour gravy, which is based on either mango or tamarind. The daal, the khatta and the rice are all mixed together into something that tastes absolutely divine. The sourness of the khatta gives a different dimension to the daal chawal.
This time around Mom had made maa ki daal, aloo ka maddra and amchur aur pakodi ka khatta.
While the digestive juices were in a free flow, I diverted my attention from the lovely meal and we waited for Neeti to return and enjoy the surprise that folks had "plotted".
On her return, we had a small pooja, a thanksgiving of sorts. Our prayers were of the silent type - I recited the Gayatri Mantra to myself - this is a prayer for all occasions, which is said to have existed since times immemorial.
The prasad that followed the pooja was sooji halwa. And then came the time to dig in!
What a celebration!
Thank God for giving us a shelter and also the opportunity to enjoy surprises like these!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Plane Spotting at MAA

On my return from Chennai recently, I was amazed to see an Air-India Boeing 747-400 parked on a remote bay. This was "Khajuraho", VT-ESO, which is one of the five jumbos on the Maharaja's fleet. Khajuraho is now mostly used for VIP flights, ferrying the President and the Prime Minister across the globe.
Every time I see an Air-India Boeing 747-400, I feel a sudden exhilaration as though I had seen my crush! Indeed it is, I have been in love with the beautiful red livery on this sexy beast for over 20 years now!

As we were getting on to the taxiway, an IndiGo A320 was taking off from Runway 07-25. This livery pales in comparison to Air-India's!

Good bye to a bright and sunny Chennai!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Una Serata Italiana!

Of all 'alien' food, I enjoy Italian food the most for simplicity in cooking and richness of flavour.
It was time take out the rigatoni from the larder, which was cooked al dente for two dishes - pasta al forno and rigatoni pesto di verdure.
The pasta al forno was adapted from recipe section on David Rocco's website, with the freshest melanzana (aubergine) available downstairs.
The rigatoni pesto di verdure was my creation - onions sauteed with a few chunks of lardon to which pepper slivers were added. Then went in the rigatoni followed two tablespoons of red wine.

What an amazing evening it was - Una Serata Italiana!
Buon appetito!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Probably, That's What Love Is!

Often in life, one gets so used to something that one fails to value the true essence of it on a daily basis.
Dare I say, that holds true for relationships as well.
For Neeti and me, having a cup of tea together is a special occasion - those 15 minutes are priceless moments of togetherness, in a, normally, feverishly fast paced day.
A few weeks back, Neeti had traveled out of the city for work for two days. That evening after dinner, as is usually the practice! I coolly put two cups on the boil.
Oh! Then it dawned on me - Neeti was a good 100 kilometers away in Dahanu!
Man! What a pain to have that cup all alone! At that moment, I missed Neeti's company a lot.
Off late, I have been traveling down South very frequently for a minimum of two days on each trip. This time  around, after getting dressed to leave, I wore an old watch and left for the airport.
On the flight to Trichy that day, sitting on the window seat, admiring the beauty of the azure skies peppered with clouds that looked like cottonballs, I thinking of tough day that lay ahead.
To plan the rest of the day and fix my coordinates on the timeline, I checked out the time on my watch.
This was the same old watch that Neeti had gifted me at the end of our honeymoon, over 7 years back.
I felt happy, a warm feeling filled me up and I instantly forgot the worries of the day! I did feel Neeti was right beside me, though she was, at that moment, a thousand miles away, in Mumbai!
Probably, that's what love is!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Whale & A Lesson In Gratitude...

Today, RJ Keisha had a very interesting story to tell on today's Break Free on 107.1 Rainbow FM. This was a story of a humpback whale that got entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines way back in December 2005.
I am reproducing that story here:
She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body, her tail, her torso, a line tugging in her mouth.
A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farralone Islands (outside the Golden Gate) and radioed an environmental group for help.
Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so bad off, the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her...
A very dangerous proposition. One slap of the tail could kill a rescuer.
They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her. When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles.She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, and nudged them, pushed gently around-she thanked them. Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives.
The guy who cut the rope out of her mouth says her eye was following him the whole time, and he will never be the same.
May you, and all those you love, be so blessed and fortunate .... to be surrounded by people who will help you get untangled from the things that are binding you. And, may you always know the joy of giving and receiving gratitude.
I later checked out Google for this incident and came across a news report on this incident in the San Francisco Chronicle - it was indeed a true incident, which happened on December 11, 2005 near the Farallon Islands, in San Francisco.
What a lesson this whale taught us! If animals, like this whale, know what gratitude is, then why not humans?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Ein Deutscher Festessen!!!!

A few years back, my sister visited Frankfurt and got back a giftpack of sauerkraut and wursts for me. 
Then a few months back, I got this thought of reading about sauerkraut and making an attempt to prepare it.
Two cabbages were finely chopped and put into a glass container, mixed well with rock salt and a few drops of water. The cabbage was left to ferment for nearly a month in a cool dry place.

Sauerkraut, which essentially means "sour cabbage", that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria, including Leuconostoc, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus.The fermentation induced acidity gives sauerkraut a long shelf-life and a distinctive sour flavor. 
In the Middle Ages, this a preservation technique for cabbage, to be consumed during the long winter months - sauerkraut provided a source of nutrients during the winter. It is believed that Captain James Cook always took a store of sauerkraut on his sea voyages, since experience had taught him it prevented scurvy. Some research points to this probiotic preparation having anti-cancer properties.
This week, we removed the lid from the vessel and there it was - the distinct aroma of fermentation!
The time was ripe to get cracking - onions were finely chopped alongwith two cloves of garlic and that went into a few drops of heated olive oil. Into that went in five rashers of bacon, finely chopped.

After the bacon was done, we added the sauerkraut and mixed it well! After about 10 minutes in the pan, we added a teaspoon of sugar, one chopped apple and a dash of wine.

We had sauerkraut with pan-fried sausages, rye-bread and mustard, German style!

The sauerkraut was a bit too salty - maybe it would have tasted a little better if we had drained the sauerkraut through cold water to wash out the excess salt! That was a good lesson learnt.
But in any case, it was a German feast for us - Ein Deutscher Festessen!!!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Bonne année! & ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

Ushering the New Year, 2013 had to be a special occasion. And what better way than to try out our version of Coq Au Vin, a classic French preparation that had captivated me for over 2 months and about which I had written last November on this blog.
The preparation began a day earlier with bunching up herbs - fennel, thyme, chives, tarragon and rosemary in a  bouquet garni 

Next, chicken pieces alongwith diced carrots, shallots and fennel were mixed in a bowl togeher with the bouquet garni. In India, getting poulet de Bresse was out question, so I chose Godrej Real Good chicken . And though Coq Au Vin is supposed to be made from a rooster, I chose to ignore the gender of the bird I bought! A teaspoon of sugar and some salt was added. Next came a generous helping of red wine to marinate the chicken. No Burgundy here.... I chose the red wine I could lay my hands on!

Next, a few pomfrets were marinated alongwith carrots, ringed onions and carrots in olive oil and red wine and herbs for an Iberian fish braise!

The next day, New Year's Eve, fish braise and the Coq Au Vin was prepared.

Accopanying the Coq Au Vin and fish braise were herbed potato mash, crunchy steamed vegetables, rye bread and Lavache - an Armenian flatbread. Two dips - hung yogurt and wasabi-mayonnaise went along with the bread!
That was our way of celebrating the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013!
Bonne année! & ¡Feliz Año Nuevo! 
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