To say that Theplas are a favourite snack in Gujarati homes would be an understatement they are a staple. They are so easy to carry along and such favourites that Gujaratis might probably forget their medication at home but not theplas. I probably don’t need to describe them in detail, but for those who are unacquainted with Indian cuisine, Theplas are flatbreads made from a dough consisting of finely chopped or shredded vegetables ( mostly greens like fenugreek or spinach ), whole wheat flour and spices.
Winter is here and so is the craving to eat deep fried, rich and indulgent winter fare. While that is a little tricky balance to achieve, I have slowly started making curries and daals which go with the mood. I have started making curries like Shalgam Matar or Gajar Matar and have been loving more earthier daals like Maah ki Daal (Urad/Black lentils). While it is believed that Urad Daal is more difficult to digest owing to its high protein content, so moms all over the India advise indulging in recipes involving black lentils once the mercury starts to dip. And for good measure, they also add a strong aromatic tempering of ginger and garlic, which along with aiding in the digestion, lend a lovely flavour and aroma to it.
I have always believed that that Literary Award Winners do not turn out to be great for me. So, when my previous pick, “All the Light You Cannot See” turned out to a good one, I started on The Han King with a lot of optimism. But, I wish I could say I could I enjoyed it. Because The Vegetarian by Han Kang did not turn out to be the book that left me revelling in its after-effects. I say this because that is what usually happens to me when I really enjoy a book. And that is also the reason I don’t rate books in x number of stars or points out of 10. How I liked/did not like the book is often impossible to quantify in numbers or stars. To begin with, The Vegetarian was nowhere even close to what I had thought it would. The book and its premise had got me super curious and super interested but it was way off my expectations/initial impressions of it. Not that it is always a bad thing, but when that happens, I am no longer 100% invested in finishing it. In this change, it is a short book so I hang on to it, but the progression didn’t translate into the book getting interesting for me. I already suspect that anyone reading my review will find it inexplicably bizarre, which is exactly how I found the book to be. But I will give it a try.
The Secret Superstar is a charming movie in its spirit, soul and intention, and therefore, while there might be several aspects in which it was lacking, I cannot bring myself to be scathing in my opinion of it. I may not have eloquent praise for it, but at the same time, I must admit that I liked it enough be incapable of being supremely critical of it either.
I had added this book in my TBR because of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction it won in 2015. But books that win literary awards don’t always go well for me. I started with the audiobooks, and I have to admit, listening to all the proper nouns in their correct pronunciations/accents/inflections was what helped me get into the mood. It was only after the first few chapters, that I really developed an interest in the mood, which basically means that I found it interesting enough to make to the end. The title refers literally to the vast segment of the electromagnetic spectrum that is invisible to human eye. The visible spectrum is just a slice of the huge spectrum we cannot see. Metaphorically, it means the tragic stories, traumatic experiences of another set of people that never even made it to the mainstream news. Here is how I liked the book.
I am pretty sure Dhoklas need no introduction. There are numerous versions of Dhoklas. Khatta Dhokla ( made of rice and Urad Daal ) is easily distinguishable from the Khaman because of the colour and composition. While the Instant Nylon Khaman ( made with Besan/Chickpea flour and eno/cooking soda ) is immensely popular among folks, popular even among folks even outside Gujarat, we South Gujaratis ( especially folks from in and around Surat ), favour the overnight fermented version much more over the instant ones. Vaati Daal Na Khaman is distinct from the Nylon Khaman in the sense that they are made of Chana Daal, that has been soaked, ground and fermented overnight and does not have any soda or citric acid in the batter, at least my version doesn’t. It is dense and crumbly at the same time unlike the soda-induced sponginess of Nylon Khaman. The ground batter is then spiced with ginger chilli paste, turmeric powder, lemon juice and salt. Instant / Nylon Khaman has a slight aftertaste of cooking/baking soda which puts me off personally.
I tried to get myself to call Newton a beautiful movie or a great movie or give it any number of pleasant adjectives. Because, for me, the adjective that defined Newton was haunting. Yes, it is a “great” movie as per the regular standards of judging a movie, but if I were to say how I felt watching it, I would say that it is mostly dispiriting. It is a movie filled with blank faces, resignation, apathy, neglect and total disregard for sensitivity in some case. The haunting feel of the movie is only enhanced by who simply it has been shot, sometimes with handheld cameras, and evocative feel of the sound of Sal leaves crunching on the forest floor throughout the movie. The half barren Sal trees of this forest, also known as Dandakaranya from the age of Ramayana, seem to mock you. Yes, they do, because, in today’s times, the only folks bearing the hardships of proverbial Vanvaas ( banishment to the forest ) are the tribals, for whom, the forest has been their home for as long as they know.