Friday, July 27, 2012

Tomato Rice

Fresh tomatoes and home grown mint.
When we were kids, my Grandma used to make something called "Ketchup Pulao".  It was nothing but adding tomato ketchup to pulao, which had onion and potatoes.  It has been almost 15 years since I last tasted that.  She wasn't keeping well for a few years before she passed away in 2004.  She never told anyone the recipe (which I am sure was something she cooked up on the go, with whatever ingredients were in the house, without all the fancy herbs.  I'm sure she didn't even know what thyme and parsley is) and so in a way, the dish died with her.  I can still remember the flavour of onion, which had become sweet on being fried in ghee with some cumin seeds tadka.  I once tried recreating the recipe some years back, and failed miserably.

I had been craving for her pulao since sometime now, and though I know I couldn't create what she did, I looked up some recipes online.  Of course, I didn't have the fancy herbs at home, but had the basic tomatoes and onions and capsicum.  Good enough.  Plus, Mom has grown some mint in the garden.  If the peacock, whom I consider my Mom's adopted son, and also inheritor of 1/3rd of the jaaydaat, leaves some mint after feasting on it, we use the remaining for tea.  I felt like putting some mint in my "Tomato Rice" (because pulao sounds too desi, and I'm cool like that) and quickly went and plucked some pretty fresh leaves, as shown above.  An hour of hard work (I'm slow) and burning my hand with super hot tomatoes (a girl can be only that careful) wonderful Tomato Rice was ready to be consumed.

So what went into creating this masterpiece? And how I created the magic? ZOMG. I am so modest! Please read the rest of the post so that I can rub some of my awesome cooking skills to you.

Awesome Tomato Rice garnished with Fresh Mint

Basically, to cook something, you need to love food.  Unless you can differentiate between the sourness of tomato and that of lemon, you should only do one thing with food: eat.

So what I used as ingredients.

1.  7-8 tomatoes (I used 7, blanched, removed skin and then made puree with a blender, super easy)
2.  3 Onions (finely chopped)
3.  1 Capsicum (chopped in thin slices - now, I only had 1 green capsicum at home.  You may want to add yellow and red for colour)
4.  1 cup rice.  (basically, 7 tomatoes make roughly 1 cup puree - you need as much rice as you make puree. ok?  Also, I used basmati rice.)
5.  1 cup boiling water. (yeah, ratio between rice and tomato puree+water = 1:2/2.25, depending on how much water it needs to cook your rice.)
6.  Bunch of fresh mint leaves.
7.  1 spoon olive oil. (it adds to flavour, really)
8.  Salt (स्वादानुसार ) and chilli flakes (3 spoons, or again स्वादानुसार )
Now, I wanted to add corn in it too, because I love corn, but there was no corn at home. :( Some recipes I looked up online also added fancy herbs like thyme and parsley and basil. Didn't have any, so meh.  But add herbs if you like the flavours, I wish I had basil though. <3

How I cooked?

Wash rice and soak them.  You'll need them in about half an hour.

Blanch the tomatoes - bring water to boil and drop in the tomatoes.  Once the skin starts coming off, remove and put them in cold water.  That will ensure you don't burn your hands while trying to remove the skin.  Also, you may want to let them cool down.  I don't have patience, and my palms feel little raw right now. Anyway, once that's done, use a blender and make a puree.

In a pan, put some olive oil.  Once it heats up, add onion and capsicum, and let them cook.  Also add the herbs.  Enjoy the flavours and smell. <3

Add salt, and chilli flakes and mix well.

Remove water from rice and add to the pan.  Now, mix slowly.  You don't want to break the rice, especially if you're using the long grained basmati rice. <3  Enjoy the smell.

Add the tomato puree and boiling water to it and mix well.  Bring it to a boil and then cook it on a slow flame while covering the pan.  Should take about 6-7 minutes.

Now, you may want to check it after 4-5 minutes to ensure the rice hasn't stuck to the pan.

So while I was cooking, the rice was still little uncooked but it was sticking to the pan.  I panicked.  So I put the rice in a microwave safe bowl, and cooked it in microwave oven for about 4 minutes with a closed lid.  After sometime, I could still see it looked little liquidy, and I worried it may end up being some disgusting soupy rice. :(

Kids, this is where mothers come to your rescue.  She told me how it was okay, and sprinkled some magic water (it was plain water, but I'm sure there was some magic element to it - mothers are awesome that way) and microwaved it for another 5 minutes.  AND IT WAS DONE!

You may want to let it rest for a while, like 10 minutes or so before serving.  Because I don't like things served piping hot - it burns the tongue and you can't feel any flavours after the first spoonful.

So that's it - my tribute to my Grandma's recipe.  My Tomato Rice was awesome, even if I say so myself, but it was still nothing compared to her "Ketchup Pulao". :'( I MISS HER!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

So the other day my 2.5 year old niece visited.  She's adorable.  Sadly, she's reaching the danger bracket of annoying kids.  I will skip that part, but will tell you how she's incredibly cute.

So I had gone to drop them off at their place, which is a good 30 minute drive in traffic, but because I love her, I'll go an extra mile for her.  Her mother, my cousin's wife, asked me to go up to their apartment, but I kind of ignored.  Mostly because I like being by myself, and making a small talk with my uncle is a pain because he's kinda annoying.

But then, the kid asked, "Ninu, tu ghar aav ne' (meaning, Ninu, Y U NOOO COME UP?)  and it's hard for me to break someone's heart like that.  So I kind of gave in to her cuteness and oh god, she played with me so much.  Let's just say if she were 20 years older, all that she did with me would've been considered domestic violence.  But then, when she said, "Ninu, I love you", my heart kind of melted, and I let her continue what she was doing for some more time.

In other news, I've managed to alienate more of my relatives by pretending I'm not home and staying locked up in my room for 4 hours while they sat downstairs and kept asking for my whereabouts.  I felt bad for my Mom, because she cannot lie, and she had a tough time making up new excuses why I've not yet come home, while I was busy losing myself in the mystical world of internet.

In last one week, I've been called 'a brave girl' by a few people for having fought my CA exam battles which I still have to pass. I just wish the bravery was enough to get me the bloody degree.  When I cried like one mad woman, my dad was being super supportive of me on how at other times of crisis, I've been the strong one to hold the family together and how I cannot be weak.  It made me cry even more, because that was the first time my dad ever said anything good about me. Ah, well.

You still wonder why I am emotionally unstable?

Anyway, decided to get discipline back into life.  Which means, trying to wake up and sleep at a normal time, and stop being a stupid owl.  Lately, the neighbourhood uncle, who has insomnia, tries to have a small chat with me in middle of the night.  Which is creepy because he shouts from his balcony, while I am happily watching a crime drama, and only says one thing, "So jaa". Dude, YOU GO SLEEP.  It's kind of freaky when someone tells that in middle of a crime drama, especially when the psycho killer has been hiding in the bushes.  Anyway, I digress.

Coming back to discipline in life, I'm going to wake up early tomorrow.  I've set an alarm for 5:30 am.  Which means that since it's almost 1 am, I should sleep, but then, the anxiety of waking up early is not letting me sleep. I'm kind of cool that way.

Anyway, since I have nothing more to say to this, and I'm pretty awful with ending posts or whatever, I'll just say, kbai.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Questions, questions.

So you think, "shaadi kab karogi/karoge?" is the worst question you have to answer every time you meet your relatives?

Try answering, "iss baar bhi clear nahin hua?"

Or, "abhi bhi CA kar rahi hai?"

Yeah, yeah, give them benefit of doubt, on how they don't know that even if you clear everything at one go, it takes easily 5 years to clear. Or that they don't know how tough the course is.  Or they are just idiots.

The fact that I have to answer such questions with an awkward laughter makes me desperate to leave this city.  Oh, go ahead, smirk that I am trying to run away from problems.  You are not on the receiving end of accusatory glances.

As if I had gone out of my way to flunk.

Listen. I don't know what goes wrong.  When the exams got over this time in May, I told my Dad if I pass in Direct Taxes paper, I'll pass.  I was so desperately praying that I get 40/100 in Direct Taxes because I was very hopeful for rest of papers.  I got 53 in Direct Taxes.  I didn't clear any of the remaining 3 papers.  Last time, I had cleared all, missed out on aggregate.

Institute of Chartered Accountants of India thinks it's God.  Working in mysterious ways. But no, it sucks. (heh, pls don't debar me. I'm just angry and venting, ok?)

And of course, everyone has a suggestion on how I can clear it next time.  The best is joining a coaching class.  Now I have nothing against coaching classes.  But all these years, I have not taken a single tuition.  I have cleared all my CA exams till now without attending coaching classes.  How come my achievements till today are overlooked over the fact I didn't clear exam this time? It's not that I got marks in single digits.

There is nothing new the coaching classes can teach me.  "But you'll get a discipline", they say.  According to them, attending crash batch, where I sit for 10 hours in one room, where my mind gets distracted because I already know what the tutor is teaching will be less fruitful than me practicing on my own.  And honestly, if I don't decide to bring discipline to my life, no coaching class will be able to do that. I'm kinda stubborn that way. Not something I'm proud of.


I'm annoyed.  I'm angry.  And I've been crying all day today.  So much that my eyes are burning now and I should probably sleep.  But yes, I could do with a kind word or two! :'(

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

God Particle की कहानी

शिवजी और पार्वतीजी कैलासपरबत पर बैठ कर चाय की चुस्कियां भर रहे थे। गर्मी ने नंदीजी की हालत बेहाल कर राखी थी। देवों के देव, महादेव अपने चिल्लम में से एक कश लिए।
पार्वतीजी बोली, "स्वामी, यह god particle  क्या होता है?"
शिवजी मुस्कुराये और बोले, "प्रिये, जब हमने यह सृष्टि का सर्जन किया था, तब हमने इंसानों को confuse करने के लिए procedure  को document  नहीं किया था।  आज सदियों बाद उनको लगता है की उन्हें पता चला है की हमने दुनिया कैसे बनायीं होगी।"
पार्वतीजी बोली, "स्वामी,  लेकिन आपने ऐसा क्यूँ किया? अपने भक्तो को परेशां करने में आपको बड़ा मज़ा आता है।"
शिवजी की गर्दन पे लिपटा सांप फुर्राया और हलके से मुस्कुराया।
शिवजी बोले, "प्रिये, आज हम आपको एक विशेष टिप्पनी देना चाहते है। दुनिया में ऐसी कई चीज़े है जिनका राज़ सबको नहीं पता होता। उनको जानना ज़रूरी भी नहीं होता। कई बार चीज़े हम पर छोडनी चाहिए। इंसान हममें विश्वास करे या न करे, हम सब देख रहे है। उन्हें सिर्फ थोड़े और विश्वास की ज़रूरत है।"
पार्वतीजी बोली, "आपके तरीके तो मेरे समझ के बहार है।"
शिवजी मुस्कुराये और कहा, "कई बार मेरे तरीके मेरे भी समझ के बहार है। जैसा मैंने कहा, हर रहस्य जानना ज़रूरी नहीं है।"