pouring out stories abt me, my experiences, recipes of what i like to cook, my opinions about what i see around... etc. etc.

Friday, November 21, 2008

masoor dhal

I got interested in trying this variety of masoor dhal, again after talking to my best friend, who was then a boilermaker. This is a easy to cook and simple one that can be made to go with rice or chappathis...

I never came to know that there is something called masoor dhal until I came to the US. The day on which I landed (or rather it should read jumped out of a Greyhound bus) at Ames, past midnight, my future roomie had masoor dhal and rice for my dinner. I guess that was a Bangla version of it.

This is how I cook it, whatever version you wanna name it...

Things you need
- masoor dhal (that deep pinkish colored one)
- ginger-garlic paste
- a can of coconut milk (I prefer to use the thai brand of coconut milk)
- 1 big onion - finely chopped
- 2 or 3 medium sized tomatoes (finely chopped)
- 3 to 4 green chillies (again finely chopped)
- kasoor methi leaves (dried methi leaves) - just sprinkle the desired amount at the end
- jeera seeds

Steam cook or boil masoor dhal in desired quantity of water (pressure cooking may be alright when you are in a hurry, but just let about one whistle)

In a big cooking vessel, splutter some jeera seeds in oil. Then, add the chopped onions, green chillies and ginger-garlic paste, fry it until the onion becomes translucent and the ginger-garlic paste is well blended with the chopped onions.

Following that add the chopped tomatoes and wait until it becomes soft and watery, almost to a chutney consistency. Over that add the cooked masoor dhal and stir in for a few minutes. At the finishing stages, add about 1/2 can of coconut milk and kasoor methi leaves.

Thats it... a very fast and simple masoor dhal that would go well with rice and chappathis alike is ready!

I love to cook and here are recipes for some of my fav. dishes

This is one of my favorite recipes and a popular one. I have been a HUGE FAN of my amma's sambhar... and the 'arachuvitta sambhar', as I would like to call is closer to my heart, seated deep inside my left ventricle which pumps it to nook and corner of my body...
When I first tried it, it was largely due to the telephonic conversation with my cousin who was doing his MBA then at Cardiff...
Sambhar endradhum ninaivikku varuvadhu ------------->

aana naan solardhu... murungakkai-chinna vengayam sambhaar...

can be improvised with several choice of veggies to go with either idlies or dosai or rice...

So, below is the one I have tried and tested to go with steamed rice...

You would need
- 1/2 cup of thuvaram paruppu (or popularly known as toor dhal in North India)
- 1 table spoon of ulundhu (urad dhal for the non-tamil-literate people)
- 3 table spoons of coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp of vendhayam (fenugreek seeds)
- 4 red chillies
- 1 tbsp - kadalai paruppu (a.k.a. chenna dhal)
- Tamarind - 1 medium lemon-sized
- 1/4th tsp of turmeric powder
- Coconut gratings - about 1/2 cup
- 2 murungakkais chopped to 1.5 inch pieces (or can be obtained pre-chopped frozen at Indian grocery stores)
- 4 green chillies
- about 3/4th cup full of small red onions
- cooking oil
- seasonings, salt, garnishing, asofoetida (popularly known as perungayam) as preferred.

So, lets get to cooking it...
First, pressure cook the thuvaram paruppu. Meanwhile, prepare the 'arachu vidra' paste, for which in a frying pan, on medium to medium-high heat, fry the following things one by one - kadalai paruppu, ulundhu, vendhayam, red chillies, coriander seeds... as it fries, you would sense the flavour emanating slowly... now add the grated coconut and let it turn light brown... take it off the flame and set it aside to let it cool, before it could be blended into a good paste...

Meanwhile, tamarind is soaked in warm water and tamarind juice is made out of it.

In another cooking vessel, add some cooking oil and season with mustard seeds and cumin seeds. As it splatters, add some perungayam and karivepillai (curry leaves). Then, add the small onions and fry it until it loses the eye-burning phosphoric acid... followed by murungakkai... let it also fry for a while until it shrinks a bit...

Then, add the tamarind juice... let it boil in medium - to medium high heat until the raw smell volatilizes and vanishes into thin air. Meanwhile, prepare the "arachu vitta" paste in the blender, adding water such that it is like a thick and well blended out paste... add this to the boiling "pre-sambhar"... now add salt as you desire to allow it to penetrate the veggies, followed by turmeric powder.... and let the contents boil for like 7-10 min (standardization would come with experience :-)... afterall cooking is no different from research!)...

Meanwhile, mash up the thuvaram paruppu from the cooker and add it about 2 minutes before pre-sambhar moults to sambhar... and finally - add garnishings - like curry leaves and coriander leaves to please that "culinary eye"... taste a bit and adjust the salt to have the neurons in the taste buds depolarize and hyperpolarize to have some endorphins secrete in the brain and have your Parotid/Sub-mandibular and sub-lingual salivary glands to wake up from slumber...

Sambhar ready makkale... easyy....

Ippo yaarukaadhu improvise pannardhukku mood irundha - add a small block of jaggery in the final phases - ada ada adaaa... idhu dhaan da Sambaar...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My thoughts on one of the official languages of India - Hindi

I have been itching to write this for a long time and an incident that happened a couple of days back at a Chinese restaurant with my colleagues and friends during my dinner at Washington DC. So, I started enjoying my dinner and was having a very pleasant evening after a long day at the Neuroscience conference. And in the neighbouring table sat another research group that consisted of Chinese, Europeans, Americans and one Indian guy. I could not help eavesdropping, but, this Indian guy was talking in a loud tone about languages in India and how Hindi is the National language of India and how Tamil Nadu is the only “anti-Hindi” state in India. That is when I got annoyed and excused myself to interrupt him and I told him – I speak Tamil, what is your problem? He backed off and I went on to say – don’t spread false facts about our country. I could have gone further, but decided to end it because, it was a pleasant evening for my friends and for his group and did not want to spoil the good time.

But, I could not abstain from venting out my thoughts here.
To start with a few facts:
1. Hindi was never and never ever shall be India’s national language.
2. Hindi is just an official language along side English for the Central Govt. for administrative reasons.
3. The Supreme Court of India speaks English and not any other language.

There are several official documents that stand as a proof, grow out of your retardation and educate yourself of the facts.

In my opinion, Hindi is only as equal as Santhali or Nepali and my great country can say with pride – India is multi-lingual and has more than one national language.

And now, to the point of Tamils being anti-Hindi. What is the deal about Hindi? It is after all, 'yet another language' among 100s of Indian languages and where from do you people conceive this false fact – Hindi is India’s national language and people who don’t speak Hindi are anti-Hindi and therefore anti-Indian? Give me a break. And you go on to talk about the anti-hindi protests of the 60s. Well, to start with the politicians who visualized the idea of one single language to unite this only sub-continent of the world were, in one word, “foolish”. For they ignored the fact that British has been in India only for over a century that time and that for centuries before British spread in India, there existed only kingdoms. For they sought to erase that strong fact over which the British Raj was built. For they were desperate to seek a “single-language-identity” for India, that was “non-English”. The anti-Hindi protests that took place in Tamil Nadu or elsewhere was not against the language, but it was just a fight equivalent to the ‘mothering instinct’ of a Big Cat protective of its new-born kitten.

The fight was not for asking the Hindi Belt to learn my language or one more language compulsorily, it was just for not asking me to learn your language. As once the great leader Annadurai resounded in the parliament of India about the big door- small door for the big dog and the small dog analogy for the linguistic politics at that time, it is more than silly and foolish to even think about single language to unite India linguistically. India is multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic, multi-climatic and that is the figment that unites us and that is our Greatness. And any person who would not appreciate this fact should be ashamed to call yourself as an Indian.

Now, I defend your anti-hindi rhetoric with the following points.
1. Newly released Hindi movies run to full houses in Chennai.
2. Local FM radio in Chennai or other metros below Vindhya-Satpura play Hindi movie songs.
3. Schools teach Hindi as a second language and waste the time of the school kids making them learn 3 languages in comparison to 2 languages for the school kids in the Hindi belt of India.
4. There are still Dakshin Bharath Hindi Prachar Sabha running in my part of my country.
5. Lastly, there are some popular “Hindi Pandits” trying to eke out a living by teaching the language.

That is enough for Hindi acceptance, for I wonder what would possibly happen if the converse was true… we would hear headlines like “Tamil Nadu Express torched by angry mob in Mathura”; “Frenetic mob vandalizes a movie hall that ran a Telugu movie and beat up the manager in Patiala”… and I could go on and on to rub it in my friends. But, I stop here, because, next time if I hear any crap from an Indian about National language of India and how some people are ‘anti-Hindi’ I would break that person's jaw first and then tell you the facts so that it will get engraved in your brain until you hit your death-bed.

In the end only “Ek Gaavun Mein, Ek Kissaan, Raghu Tha Tha…” that would prevail…PEACE!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

that mishievous thing you have done

I was thinking of recalling, remembering and registering some of the mischievous things that I have done as a kid and an adolescent...

Cutting classes and going for movies/watching cricket matches... during my higher secondary times... well, shd be in everyone's book...

During my 7th std., I had this Maths teacher, who used to punish students by caning for the no. of points the students miss out of a full score... and well, it was a monthly test - and I scored 1 out of 20 points... - 19 canings... and that was during adolescent times... dhill aa poyi adi vangittu... 19 canings on both the palms... and impressions on the forehand and wrist... and walked back to my seat and on the way back to my seat I winked at a girl student who felt sorry for my canings and shocked her :-) and her name has 1/2 of my name followed by a Priya...

6th std., I was so much hating my Hindi classes and the Hindi teacher... I decided to stay in Tamil class itself and not go to the Hindi class... hiding among the last benchers... and 10 minutes into the class... villain maadhri Hindi master sudden entry... and he grabbed me by my ears and dragged me out of the class... and on the way out... after talking to the Tamil teacher... who was annoyed by my misdemeanour, decided to cane me for his share... I walked out feeling heroic... and came to know who vathi-vechufied abt me to the Hindi master... LUNCH BREAK... after lunch an arguement and fight broke out between me and the guy (who was also a class-representative) and I pushed him over the benches and he fell down and came down with a bout of Ashthma attack (I did not know he was prone to ashthma)... and again punishments followed... kneel down in the play-ground sand for a couple of hours... and I would feel proud and heroic of waht I have done again when girls visited the playground water taps to fill their water bottles... haa haa...

I guess, this was in 3rd std or 4th std... my neighbour and best friend had this habit of poking others with his pencil on the thighs and head... and that was bugging me for quite some time... and I decided to put an end to it... I took out a compass from my geometry box and planted it on the top of his head... OMG... I felt so bad to see his bleeding head, his blood soaked shirt and blood stains on the bench and floor... it feels so gory looking back... and punishment again... this time in front of the school over-looking the road until the end of the day... but the very next day, this guy came back with a bandage and we again sat together on the bench and were best of the friends again...

more to come....