Saturday, June 27, 2015

Snapshots of my India trip 2015

It's been more than a month since I got back from India and I finally found made time to put down my thoughts on a wonderful holiday that was both eventful and fulfilling. 

This holiday was also uniquely memorable because it marked the maiden International trip for my little ones. The very idea of travelling with a child is something many new mothers find nerve-wracking so you can imagine my plight with two! You can probably tell if a woman is travelling with a child or not just by the look of sheer exhaustion and worry-lines etched on her face!

On the bright side, nowadays, with much better means of communication, far more comfortable modes of transport, advanced facilities and a newer generation of parents who do a lot of research beforehand and are prepared for any eventuality, travelling with a child (or children for that matter) isn't exactly rocket science. In our case, we did the required groundwork and preparation before the trip such as making a detailed list of all the items to be packed, completing the babies scheduled vaccinations, requesting for double bassinet seats on the International flight, doing online check-ins, booking domestic flights/taxis/hotel accommodation in India well in advance, getting cartons of diapers, wet wipes, tissues and baby bath essentials delivered to my parents and in-laws houses, getting their cribs ready in both houses, sourcing baby-friendly natural means of repelling mosquitos and so on. Looking back, it was considerable work but the effort paid off  

I am now much more confident of traveling with the kids and though I'm sure that they will have their bad days where I will regret that I ever left the house, I will take comfort in the fact that exposing them to new situations and people will help them learn more about the world and adapt quickly to unfamiliar situations.

So here is a write-up of our escapades in India....

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Movie Recommendation: Rahasya (Hindi)

The time is 5pm on a weekday. My cell phone rings at work....tring....tring....

Me: Hello?
Hubby: Hi!
Me: What's up?
Hubby: Movie this evening?
Me: Sounds good. Which one?
Hubby: There are a few good ones that are out. We can go to the multiplex and decide.
Me: Cool
Hubby: I'll swing by your workplace at 6pm. Be ready. We can have dinner at the mall and head back home. I feel like Thai tonight.
Me: Okay. Seeya!

No....this has absolutely nothing to do with the movie I'm going to talk about shortly. These are just a few snippets of conversation from what used to be my life. Hahaha! ☺ When we were just a couple, we used to watch an insane number of movies. It used to be a spur-of-the-moment thing with no planning required. The general thought process was - feel like watching a movie? Let's get going! Needless to say, that sort of thing doesn't happen anymore. I haven't been to the theatres in ages. So naturally, writing movie reviews seems like a thing of the past. But then again, there are always DVD's that one can watch at home. It isn't the same thing but something is better than nothing right? 

Anyway, last weekend, we watched a hindi movie directed by Manish Gupta called Rahasya, loosely based on the Aarushi Talwar murder case. Looking back, the disclaimer at the start of the movie said - "any resemblance to any character living or dead is purely coincidental" but unless you have been living under a rock for the past decade, you will know that to be quite untrue! Rahasya hit theatres way back in January of this year so if you notice, I have titled this post as 'movie recommendation' as opposed to 'review' ☺ I had never heard of this movie before and I noticed that the star cast didn't boast of any big names so I wasn't expecting anything out of the ordinary. After a run time of approximately 2 hours, I was pleasantly surprised. I found the movie riveting and having closely followed the Aarushi Talwar murder case in the media, was glad that this movie didn't end up merely being a sensationalized celluloid account of the incident. Cheers to cinematic liberties! After the first hour, the movie completely deviates from the expected into unchartered territory. The shocking twist at the end leaves you at the edge of your seat which is what you would want from a murder mystery.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Recipe of the month: Dill Pulao (Sabbasige Soppu Pulao)

This Dill Pulao is one among the simplest rice dishes I know. Judging by what I've seen, I'd say that dill (sabbasige soppu in kannada) is a herb that is not to everyone's taste. The green wispy, fern-like leaves of fresh dill have a strong and distinctive flavour. It is used as a flavour enhancer in European, Asian and Middle-Eastern Cuisine. I know many people who are crazy about it (me included) and many people who cannot stand it (such as my hubby, dad and father-in-law). But whether you like it or not, it has a plethora of health benefits which is reason enough to incorporate it into your diet. Lactating mothers take note - this herb will do you a world of good!

Growing up, I never even knew about the existence of this herb, forget about what it looked or tasted like because my mum never cooked with it. The style of cooking in my family is the typical Tulu Nadu-Udupi style and dill is a herb that does not feature in recipes from this part of Karnataka. Many years ago, it so happened that someone brought a bunch of fresh dill to our house in Mysore and my mom (who doesn't believe in wasting or discarding any kind of food), made this rice dish. I loved it from the first bite and from then onwards began badgering her to make it at every given instance that my dad wasn't around during meal times (he still hasn't come around!). My mum uses dill to make this pulao, akki rotti and masala vada. All three dishes are among my favourites which is proof of my love affair with this wiry herb.

You can make this dish with leftover rice which is what I usually do. I didn't have leftover rice this time round so I made fresh rice and continued from there. If this is the first time you are sampling this herb, go easy on the proportion that you use as you may find it overpowering. Discard any leaves that are yellowing and avoid using the thick woody stems of the dill. You don't have to add any spice powders to the rice if you don't want to. It tastes nice plain too as the dill imparts plenty of flavour just by itself. I just add sambhar powder and garam masala coz my mum adds them.

I had exactly 60 seconds to photograph this dish before one of the twins started bawling at the realization of my sudden disappearance. I feel disheartened that instead of my food styling and photography getting better with each post, it has been slowly deteriorating. So I've decided that henceforth, I'm going to cheekily blame my kids for any shoddy work that you see on this space! hahaha 

More later!


Saturday, June 6, 2015

Baker's Corner: Vegetarian Baked Rice

It's time for another guest post by You-Know-Who. Okay....that just made him sound a little evil! hahaha ☺ But jokes apart, after having the twins, blogging has gotten about ten thousand times more difficult than it used to be. I have had no choice but to constantly bug my husband to keep his contribution towards my blog going (which he does and which is why I love him so much...tee...hee). 

I got back from India with the girls three weeks ago and boy! was it a marvellous two-month long holiday. Travelling with them was much easier than I expected and despite teething and the dreaded 6-month growth spurt, they adjusted remarkably well to the constantly changing environment. Right from getting their ears pierced to their cradle ceremony, naming ceremony and attending a wedding, they were basking in all the attention during all the social events. Thank heavens stranger anxiety hadn't kicked in yet! They were all over the place and on many occasions I had to stop and make sure both of them were accounted for! I never expected to enjoy myself so much during this trip but I did and I'm incredibly thankful for that. Anyway, more on our escapades of the past two months in a later post....

Given my newfound 'first-time-mom-of-twins' status, elaborate cooking is pretty much out of the question now. I had help in some form of the other during the first 6-months of the girls lives but now I'm on my own (until the husband gets back home from work that is). Caring for the little ones is a full-time job with little time or energy for anything else. Any cooking that I do has to get done within 30 mins tops (earlier would be even better!). So now our weekly dinner menu features stuff like sandwiches, salads, wraps, pasta, dal, mixed rice, instant dosa, upmas, and get the drift right? I spend more time and effort steaming and pureeing an assortment of fruits and veg for the girls! The only exception is during weekends when their daddy is around and he can keep them occupied while I get busy in the kitchen.

Last weekend, for a change, we decided to have something special for brunch and hubs offered to make this baked rice which has been a speciality of his. This is his own version and after many minor improvisations over the years, it has evolved quite a bit. In the past, we've used this recipe as a way to use of whatever vegetables we had sitting around in the fridge. This dish is extremely versatile and you really needn't bother too much about following a recipe or using the exact same ingredients mentioned. You can use a mixture of carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, bell peppers, zucchini, sweet corn, baby corn......whatever you like. If you like it bland, you can skip the jalapeños and dry red chilli flakes. We are spice junkies so we tend to add quite a few fiery elements into all savoury dishes that is prepared at home. This time round, we didn't have jalapeños so we haven't included it. The same goes with the cheese. You can use whatever cheese you like but the baking kind (mozzarella) would give the dish nice color and texture. I wouldn't recommend using leftover rice for this dish coz it just wouldn't taste as nice (but maybe that's just me). Apart from its adaptability, this is a great dish for dinner parties too. You could prepare individual ramekins of this creamy baked rice for each guest. Just imagine how happy it would make them 

Okay handing over the person in charge now.

More later!