Posted in Breakfast, Recipes, Snacks, Traditional Gujarati Recipes

Surti Khaman / Vati Daal na Khaman!

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.

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Posted in Bollywood, Cinemascope

{ Movie Review } – Amit Masurkur’s Newton!

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.

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Posted in Fiction, My Bibliothèque, Romance

{ Book Review } – The Ingredients of Love by Nicolas Barreau!

The Ingredients of LoveThe Ingredients of Love by Nicolas Barreau

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this book in the week before I watched the movie Bareilly Ki Barfi. The movie is only loosely based on / inspired by the book, borrowing only the basic plot. Everything else is quite different, with the Parisian flavor being quite dominant in the book while the movie is charmingly Desi.

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Posted in Indian Curries, Recipes

Kadhai Paneer, or let us just say, my take on Jigg Kalra’s Kadhai Paneer!

Growing up, Paneer Butter Masala was my favourite thing to order in restaurants. The oily, creamer texture was something never made in homes for obvious reasons, so naturally, that is what I wanted to eat then. Fast forward to the present and I like spicier curries, not necessarily heavy on garam masala, but with more flavours than just cream, tomato and sugar. But Indian restaurants are a funny phenomenon if you ask me: every restaurant will serve a Kadhai Paneer or a Paneer Butter Masala, that is different from the next one in colour or in texture or in taste, or if your luck is particularly worse on that day, all of the above. So, now my bench mark for North Indian gravies is set on on a particularly nondescript place in Hyderabad, rather than what the high-end restaurants serve. For the brief spell of eight months that I stayed in Hyderabad as a newly wed, I had a chance to eat a tiny, 2 room eatery called Delhi 39. It had exactly 4 tables and 16 chairs and nothing else, so I guess I don’t have to explain the ambience. But

For the brief spell of eight months that I stayed in Hyderabad as a newly wed, I had a chance to eat a tiny, 2 room eatery called Delhi 39. It had exactly 4 tables and 16 chairs and nothing else, so I guess I don’t have to explain the ambience. But food was amazing, the fulkas ( sorry, no tandoori bread here ) as soft and round and puffy as home made, the curries tasted like they were from a North Indian friends Lunch box ( Rajma was sublime and paneer curries are the best I have tasted!! ) and the paranthas, simply the best paranthas ever. The curries were priced between 45-65 rupees, ( not kidding!! ) and well, that is what I want now whenever I feel like eating north Indian fare. Sadly we moved to Bangalore then, and even the famed Manjit da Dhaba hasn’t been able to match that.

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Posted in Breakfast, Healthy Snacking, Recipes

Doodhi na Muthiya – Steamed Dumplings made from Bottlegourd and Multigrain Flour!

Muthiyas are a Gujarati snack made from fresh seasonal vegetables and a mix of several flours, that is made into a dough, shaped into logs, steamed and then deep fried or tempered in some oil to give it a crisp texture on the outside and a soft, melt in the mouth center. Mutthi ( મુઠ્ઠી ) translated from Gujarati means a fist, and hence the nomenclature since traditionally, Muthiyas are shaped by shaping the dough into fistfuls. It is not compulsory though, I usually divide the dough into 3-4 portions, each much larger than a fist before steaming them. Once they cool down, I cut them into bite sized chunks and shallow fry them to give them a crisp crust.

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Posted in Bollywood, Cinemascope

{ Movie Review } – Bareilly Ki Barfi !

If Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch is to be believed, there are only 7 central plots or stories in the world of fiction. So I am not really surprised when the storyline of a movie or a book becomes predictable. But what makes movies like Bareilly Ki Barfi noteworthy is the introduction of local flavors and the embellishments that strike a chord with the audience. Loosely adapted from ‘The Ingredients of Love’ by Nicolas Barreau, it is a light and breezy tale, a comedy of errors of sorts.

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Posted in Fiction, My Bibliothèque, Thriller

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier!

My Cousin RachelMy Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My Cousin Rachel is not a straightforward story of whodunit if you ask me. Yes, it is tightly knit, full of suspense and ambiguity and everything about Cousin Rachel screams guilty. But, it doesn’t take a straight path. It is an old fashioned mystery and I was partly charmed by the elegant and yet strange backdrop of an English Estate. If you have watched Downton Abbey, you would know what I mean at once. Rachel is a character whose entire persona is shrouded in black. There is a sinister, creepy feeling about Du Maurier’s Rachel that gives you a tingling sensation every time she appears in the book. I do not know the answer to most basic question of this story, and while it would be a blatant lie to say that I don’t care about the answer, the truth is that it was far more fascinating to watch her in action, peep from behind the door of her boudoir than to actually know if she killed her husband. The reader knows that Rachel is no saint and yet, you don’t want to put the noose over her head just yet. The feverish curiosity that du Maurier’s writing invoked in me rendered me pretty much incapable of playing detective. I had sort of surrendered myself to become a mere witness to the series of events without becoming the judge. I read the whole book with a mixture of burning curiosity and a paralyzing helplessness.

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