The quick HM chicken curry

It’s difficult to squeeze everything you want to do in one weekend. Do you cook, clean, chill, sleep, work, socialise or do nothing at all? 

I’ve had a crazy week and, as I waited for this weekend, I also made mental notes of what I needed to do on it. One of them was to cook. Cook enough for a few days (yup, I do that because cooking after work is tough!). 

After a satisfying Sunday morning laze, I decided to cook some chicken curry. I needed something quick, so that I could get back to chilling. 

So here’s my quick HM chicken curry (HM stands for Haurat Mulgi).

What you’ll need:

  • 500gms of chicken (I used boneless)
  • 3 onions
  • 2 teaspoons of ghee
  • 7 curry leaves
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Coriander leaves and mint leaves (I used a ton, but it’s really your choice)
  • 2 cups of water

This is how you make it:

  • In a deep pan, pour in the ghee and once it’s hot, add the chopped onions, garlic, green chillies
  • Give it a good stir. After a few minutes, add the turmeric, salt, chilli powder. Stir again
  • Once the mixture looks well blended, add chopped tomatoes, coriander and mint leaves. Give it a good stir
  • In 2 minutes, add the chicken pieces and pour two cups of water. Give it a good, gentle stir and let it simmer for 10 minutes
  • Turn off the heat. Your chicken curry is ready!

I’m going to eat this curry with rice, while I watch Romedy Now. 

Cook, explore, do more

A few years into your career, there comes a time when you reflect. It isn’t really one thing, but a series of reflections. “Why am I doing this?” “Does anyone care?” “Does anyone really benefit from what I’m doing?” The answers are vague.

I too had these thoughts after a year of working. Between all the ‘PFAs’ and ‘best regards’, I realised that I couldn’t let this be all that I do. It felt like the most unnatural thing. That is when I started my blog – my own space, untouched by protocol or rules.

But, the longer I am at work, the more I’m desperate to do more than just that. Work can be a black hole – sucking you in. Sometimes you can’t seem to understand how sucked in you are, because guess what?  Everyone’s sailing in the same boat, so there’s no frame of reference either.

A few weeks ago, I realised that it was time to do something beyond work.

Seniors normally land up telling you stuff like: “Work hard now and, when you get to my level, you can have fun.” It’s a load of bull. I want to do more now. My work often doesn’t allow it, but I am trying to expand my boundaries. I am painting again, cooking more and exploring with a vengeance. I feel more productive and happy.

In my pursuit of doing more, I celebrated my new bought induction stove by cooking some Kheema Rice. I posted this on my Facebook and a lot of people asked me for the recipe. This cook is dedicated to Vinit’s mom and Saima’s mom for feeding me always.

Here is the recipe.

(I don’t know the measurements, really. If you cook regularly, you’ll figure or ask a parent)

  1. Marinate chicken kheema (or whichever meat you prefer) in garam masala, garlic, ginger, lots of hand-crushed mint and coriander. Let it rest for at least half an hour.
  2. Rice: boil rice with 2 bay leaves, 3-4 peppercorns, 3 cloves, 1 cinnamon stick. Add ghee to the rice. Once boiled, keep aside.
  3. Kheema: in a vessel, add ghee (please be generous with ghee, it is yummy and good for you), add cumin, pinch or turmeric, pinch of heeng (asafoetida, LOL). Let it crackle. Add 4 diced onions, garlic and ginger (finely diced, I dislike using paste). Stir after you add salt to this mixture. A few minutes later, add some mint leaves and coriander (don’t think you are OD’ing on these, they are amazing). Give it a stir. Finally, add in the marinated kheema. Stir and let it cook.
  4. Lightly flatten the kheema with a spoon in the vessel. Add the boiled rice as the top layer and flatten lightly with a spoon.
  5. Garnish: (Marathi peeps love garnish) In a pan, add ghee, add two diced onion, fry until golden brown. Pour these onions (with the ghee in the pan) on the rice with some more mint leaves and coriander.
  6. Eat. Share.

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Protein Packed Pancakes

Yum. Weekend breakfast sorted.

The Nisha Report

Who doesn’t love pancakes!! And what if I told you these ones were delicious, healthy, low in calories and wait for it… needs just 3 ingredients to make!!! (whaaaaa??) That’s right! Traditional pancakes as tasty as they are come with quite a calorie baggage and let’s be honest its quite hard to get a hold of a bunch of ingredients early in the morning when all you want to do is whip something up that’s fast and easy and not be late for work, school or whatever it is that you’re running late to. 😛  

So here is the recipe for these pancakes that are jam-packed with proteins and other nutrients that are good for your body and will satisfy your pancake cravings too!

What you’ll need:

1 Egg

1 Ripe Banana

1 Cup of Quick Oats

Directions:

– Put the oats in a blender and blend to a…

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A cook for my Aai

Being a parent is hard. Not that I really know how that is, considering I am not one. But sometimes you just know. The bond that a child shares with his/her parent/s is probably the purest. I know it differs for each one of us. But to me – and I am thankful – it is the best love I have ever experienced. I have always had this deep gratitude for it – even when I was a teenager.

When I moved to away from home to a city a few hours away, Aai (my mother) was my biggest support and still is. In the past year, I have made my own life, one that is sometimes detached from the life I had when I was home in Pune. That change sometimes is overwhelming but it feels good – like most change does.

Every morning when I am on my way to work and at night when I am about to sleep, I call or FaceTime with my mother. Our conversations range from a few minutes to several. Most of it depends on my mood, not hers. She is always happy and perky speaking with me, like I am the most important  human being in the world.

When it is a weekend or when ‘I am having too much fun with friends’, I can almost feel this doubt in her voice that wants to ask me if I really miss her. The answer is YES. But I’m not sure if I can be as convincing as I’d like to be.

So, this weekend, I thought, instead of telling her how much I miss her, I’d cook for her. This can’t be just another cook, I thought. It has to have elements of the life I have away from home. Also, it should be food she likes.

I had it planned. Every day when I ate from my colleagues’ lunch boxes, I made mental notes, asked how I could make that food.  My mom probably knows how to make it, but this would be special – and it was.

I cooked her a basic vegetarian, healthy and almost vegan (ha ha) meal – sooji-soya cheela and Mallu chutney, recipes borrowed from from the mothers of my friends Melanie and Isha.

My mother loved it! She even let me use her kitchen, no questions asked. It was one of the best evenings I have had in a long time. She even ate cheese, which she never does. That says a lot.

Here’s what I made.

Sooji and soya ka cheela

  • 1 cup – Sooji/Rawa/Semolina
  • 1 cup – Yoghurt (if you are vegan, skip the yoghurt increase the quantity of water)
  • 1 cup – Soya flour
  • 1/2 cup – water
  • Chopped vegetables (coriander, onion, tomato, capsicum (optional))
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Curry leaves
  • Cheese (grated)
  1. Mix rawa, soya flour, yogurt curd and water. Keep aside for at least 1 hour for fermentation. Add all the vegetables and coriander (if you want)FullSizeRender.jpg
  2. Add salt.
  3. Heat a non-stick tawa, add oil/butter/ghee (obviously butter or ghee)
  4. Spread batter over the tawa (like a dosa).
  5. On the cheela, add pepper, curry leaves and sesame seeds while it is wet.
  6. Once cooked properly, turn over and let it get crisp.
  7. Serve with the chutney (recipe below).

 

Chutney

  • 2 Onions
  • 2 Tomatoes
  • 5  Garlic cloves
  • Coriander leaves stems (my mother thinks they are nutritious)
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin powder
  • Salt
  1. Take a pan/tawa and roasted all the ingredients till they sweat
  2. Once the are dehydrated and the onions are caramelised, leave them to cool
  3. When cool, add them in to a blender
  4. Add salt, coriander power and cumin power
  5. Serve

 

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Media and big business: Happily ever after or nasty break-up in the offing?

Ashraf Engineer

As night crept across the winter sky a few weeks ago, the discussion on the Express Tower lawns warmed up. Steve Coll – two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, book author and dean of Columbia Journalism School – was the picture of pragmatism as he spoke about challenges journalists face in this age and what the future will look like for them.

While Coll dissected several issues, including the changing nature of audiences, his views on journalists’ relationship with corporations were particularly illuminating.

coll Steve Coll was erudite and incisive. As dean of Columbia Journalism School, he has an interesting view of the media and its relationship with corporations. Copyright: Ashraf Engineer

“Corporations are trying to adapt to the digital age the same way journalists are. They have discovered they can tell their own stories. They can ignore journalists and still achieve their goals,” said Coll to the very involved audience comprising media students, veteran journalists…

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Most of us are slaves to a routine. Tied to a desk, our clients, something. I work in a digital communications agency, where our days are action packed – managing a horde of things while we pull our hair out every other day. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. All of it. Yes, some things could be different, but we’ll get there.

Every evening, however, on my way home I can’t help but notice how much of a world there is outside that I’ve missed. Then, I make mental notes – will do this over the weekend, will leave work early tomorrow, will do the laundry tonight… Most days, the mental notes don’t translate into action. But, there is always tomorrow.

Diwali lanterns seen in a chawl

Diwali lanterns seen in a chawl

View from a Aqaba, Lower Parel

View from Aqaba, Lower Parel

My work place is in Lower Parel in Mumbai, which was once home to Mumbai’s mighty cotton mills. Today, it is a hybrid of fancy commercial complexes alongside former mill workers’ homes. Massive glass-and-steel skyscrapers coexist with crumbling chawls and propah restaurants rub shoulders with hole-in-the-wall eateries that serve amazing food.

Sam and Melanie posing with their Aloo Paratha

Sam and Melanie (broworkers) posing with their Aloo Paratha

Authentic, well stuffed paratha in the making

Authentic, well stuffed paratha in the making

A complete thali

A complete thali

One afternoon, my friends at work and I – broworkers, I call them – tried out these tiny eateries. No ordering or delivering, just real food exploration. We found everything – sandwiches, dosas, parathas, complete thalis, chaat… and we tried it all. It was one of the best, most inexpensive lunches we’d had in a long time, and we stuffed ourselves.

As I watched corporate executives in fancy suits enjoying the meal, I couldn’t help but think how food is the perfect escape from everything that ties us down – the laptops, the overbearing air-conditioners and that to-do list.

Sometimes that’s all we need, right? No mental notes, just an hour off from our routines with people we love.

Taste life outside the routine

My plate, your plate

I remember the first time I had beef, I was 6 in a supermarket. I lived in Riyadh as a kid and the large supermarkets always had yummy food samples. I would hold my dad’s hand and tell him that we had to catch every ‘food sample-man’. My dad, a food lover like me, would happily agree. Also because with me, a child, he could conceal his excitement.

Getting back to the first time I had beef, it was a Thursday evening at a supermarket, where I saw a Al- Kabeer stall. I screamed with excitement. “Baba, we have to go there, Al Kabeer has the best chicken nuggets, comeee.”

The next minute we were at the Al Kabeer stall, there were nuggets, samosas and burgers. My dad handed me a chicken nugget and mutton samosa, ate some himself and said, “done!”. What happened to the burgers I thought?

“Why not that burger?” I asked, slightly confused. “Uh, that is beef, you want to try it?”. Obviously! I thought and nodded. We never made beef at home because apparently we weren’t supposed to. He smiled and offered it to me and said “It is different. You’ve never had it, but if you like it, let me know, OK?” I loved it! It was yum. “Let’s buy it? Please?” I asked him. “Let’s not do that, because it is kind of not OK, Aai won’t be pleased. But if you really like it, I will buy it for you outside, OK? he said. My dad was my hero and he always kept his word, so I didn’t argue with him.

When my mom got to know, she looked at my dad and said “dharmabhrast” – which basically means you’ve gone against your faith. She then looked at me and said, “anyway, it is your choice. Every human being has the right to make his/her choices. But use your brain when you do” she said. I nodded, not sure what was that all about.

As I grew older, my parents kept their word, I was allowed to make my own choices. Some they didn’t get, some they were proud of. Whether it was boys, food, education or alcohol. There were some choices that didn’t work too well. There were heartbreak nights and mad hangover mornings. Sometimes there were hugs to console me while I cried my eyes out, sometimes there were dialogues like, “drinking like a fish will only make you feel this way.”

When I look back today, these experiences and freedom helped me become a more respectful person. The team I work in today, my colleagues are vegetarian, Jain, vegan and non-vegetarians. The lunch table is quite exciting. There are a lot of questions about the ingredients, the dishes, the rules. It works out best for me because I eat almost everything.

In the past six months, the hardcore non vegetarian I am, I have tried everything, Jain food, vegan food, vegetarian food and an alcohol free meal. There is nothing that is less impressive than the other. Lunch at work is with a bunch of people who have made individual choices about food – eating without judgement – is great. It makes me appreciate and respect my colleagues more – something which makes work meaningful.

The past few weeks, where most of us talk about what are the right or wrong food choices. I can’t help but think of my parents and appreciate how they let me make my own choices, which only helped me respect another’s.

The Solitary Girl/Woman

I loved English classes in school, especially after a frustrating Math class. I still remember this one English class in class 8, we were reading the poem ‘The Solitary Reaper’. I enjoyed poetry classes, they were confusing, yet interesting. I remember someone ask my teacher, ‘what does solitary mean?’, to which my teacher answered, ‘to be completely alone’. Man, I thought to myself that day, living alone is probably the worst thing ever. Why would anyone want to live alone? Then the 13 year old me vowed that I would never do that to myself.

Fast forward to 2015, when I decided to break the vow and do it. It has been over 6 months, since I moved to Mumbai- and I have done a ton of ‘solitary things’. It has been tough but it has also been quite liberating. When I lived at home, my family never really babied me, I managed it all on my own, but this has been something else.

Being alone makes you stronger, yet vulnerable to a point that you doubt if you are truly an adult. Somehow everything looks like a task.

Like one day, I woke up on time all ready to get dressed for work, but, as I opened the fridge I saw how my landlord’s 50 year old freezer somehow looked like Antartica. It is going to explode, I thought. The last time I used a fridge like this was in my grandparents’ home when I was 5. How do I fix this?!

I stared at all ice for 10 minutes and then I saw a defrost button. Well, this should work, I thought. Then I quickly got dressed for work and managed to somehow get through the day not thinking about the  freezer. When I was back, the fridge stunk of water and there were huge chunks of ice everywhere. I cleaned up and celebrated that I fixed this herculean task by not cooking, drinking milk and sleeping.

I am actually laughing as I type this. It has been mad, frustrating and quite brilliant. Killing cockroaches, scrubbing the kitchen and the toilet, cleaning the drain (man!), getting a Wi-Fi connection installed at 11 PM, assembling a shoe rack and cooking for one. I am actually getting better, I think.

One of the weirdest things that happened to me in all this is that I didn’t like cooking for a while. Which was a very strange thing for me. Maybe it was the stress, I am not sure. Or maybe how do you cook for one? Or how can I cook when I am managing a ton of things?

Once my body revolted, I just had to cook at home, and I did. It was amazing. Yes, there is a lot of chopping, stirring, thought and cleaning involved. But it has been great. Also, when your friends compliment your food, you can’t help but gloat.

So, here are a few things I cook to make things better for me. If you live alone, or don’t, you should try them. You eat healthy, you feel good and you save a lot of money. All these are tried and tested.

EGGS: I am an egg fanatic. I can eat eggs all day, everyday. They are so quick to cook and yummy. Also you can do so many different things with them to make them fun. Like this.

Smoothies: So my mom says I should eat my veggies and fruit, not drink them. But sometimes it is just simpler to drink them. Especially when the bananas you bought get soft and black…ugh, not fun. Here are 50 smoothie recipes. Don’t get intimidated by these. Sometimes just combine whatever’s in your fridge, you will be just fine.

Oats, chicken and veggies: This may seem boring as hell, but it is yum. I actually ate this 4 days in a row one week. Buy veggies of your choice, chicken (if you eat it), oats and cook! I love adding a lot of mint leaves to this dish, it works brilliantly. Read here, you can skip the coconut milk part. It is not required.

Good old Khichdi: You never underestimate what your mom fed you when you were sick. Especially moong dal khichdi. Easy to make, don’t forget the dollop of ghee when you eat!

Stir-Fry chicken: Again veggies of your choice and chicken. Many versions of this on the internet, pick your favorite. Here is one. You can totally skip the sherry, cornstarch or broth. Or add your favorite sauce. You will be just fine.

Pulao: I love a pulao because it is an investment. You invest an hour, and then you are sorted for a few days (God bless refrigerators). Haha. I make mine in a pressure cooker because it is just easier for me. Try this recipe. Also, if you don’t have the all the whole spices, things won’t come crashing down. I promise.

These should work for now. I will probably have a part two of this post. The next one will have pictures of my food, I promise.

Lastly, I am adding a few pictures of my time here in Mumbai. They are quite fun. As I was picking these out from the pile, so many memories came flooding back. I want to go back to the 13 year old me and tell her, it is actually not that bad. You manage just fine.

Taken one morning on my way to work. Trains are the most annoying but convenient ways to get to places in Mumbai.

Taken one morning on my way to work. Trains are the most annoying but convenient ways to get to places in Mumbai.

Made this for a friend who was having a rough time. Boiled eggs, salami and cheese toasted. Can't go wrong!

Made this for a friend who was having a rough time. Boiled eggs, salami and cheese, toasted. Can’t go wrong!

Mumbai auto rickshaws are entertaining in their own way. I guess this one allows you to express love to your loved one in the back seat.

Mumbai auto rickshaws are entertaining in their own way. I guess this one allows you to express love to your loved one in the back seat.

Another fun rickshaw. The driver even posed with my friend in a selfie. Haha!

Another fun rickshaw. The driver even posed with my friend for a selfie. Haha!

Summers in Mumbai are beyond crazy. But there are yummy ways to be hydrated. This lady made the best lemonade.

Summers in Mumbai are beyond crazy. But there are yummy ways to be hydrated. This lady made the best lemonade.

Quick, corporate lunches. This one was taken at Indiabulls Finance center with my favorites.

Quick, corporate lunches. This one was taken at Indiabulls Finance center with my favorites.

Best lunch with Ashraf and Parveez in Sarvi. https://hauratmulgi.wordpress.com/tag/sarvi/

Best lunch with Ashraf and Parveez in Sarvi. https://hauratmulgi.wordpress.com/tag/sarvi/

The walk towards 'home'.

The walk towards ‘home’.

Drinking with Neelima and Vinit at Hoppipola. Complaning, whining, cursing, crying and laughing a lot.

Drinking with Neelima and Vinit at Hoppipola. Complaning, whining, cursing, crying and laughing a lot.

VT/CST- call it what you want. This was taken from a moving car. Every time I pass it, I think of my time at XIC.

VT/CST- call it what you want. This was taken from a moving car. Every time I pass it, I think of my time at XIC.

Old friends surprising me at work when 'shit's hitting the ceiling'. This phase is used a lot at work.

Old friends surprising me at work when ‘shit’s hitting the ceiling’. This phase is used a lot in my office.

Beautiful Aakanksha and Rewati at my favorite Mamagoto. Yummiest Asian. Must visit.

Beautiful Aakanksha and Rewati at my favorite restaurant Mamagoto. Yummiest Asian. Must visit.

This was the spread at my first house party. Yes, I am quite serious about the food part.

This was the spread at my first house party. Yes, I am quite serious about the food part.

Seafood in Mumbai is heaven. This one was taken at Sushegad Gomantak, Mahim. Must visit. Thank you, Schubert.

Seafood in Mumbai is heaven. This one was taken at Sushegad Gomantak, Mahim. Must visit. Thank you, Schubert.

Gulab Jamuns with my beautiful Abhishek. We started at Janata, Bandra and ended up at Papa Pancho to gorge on Gulab Jamuns. What a night.

Gulab Jamuns with my beautiful Abhishek. We started at Janata, Bandra and ended up at Papa Pancho to gorge on Gulab Jamuns. What a night.

With my favorite people at Doolaly.

With my favorite people at Doolaly.

So I show up at a friend's house with a broken foot one night. This was what he served me for breakfast. While I was crying like a child because of the pain, I broke in to the widest grin.

So I show up at a friend’s house with a broken foot one night. This was what he served me for breakfast. While I was crying like a child because of the pain, I broke in to the widest grin.

This was one of the most fun things I did in Mumbai. Taken on a sailboat. Watching Mumbai from the sea is breathtaking. You get amazing offers on Groupon to do this. You are welcome.

This was one of the most fun things I did in Mumbai. Taken on a sailboat. Watching Mumbai from the sea is breathtaking. You get amazing offers on Groupon to do this. You are welcome.

Mumbai monsoons- you can't live with them or without them.

Mumbai monsoons- you can’t live with them or without them.

The Real Mistresses of Spice

Last year when my friend and I completed Mission Bladder Burst 2014, it was a day to remember. Sipping 10 yummy Indian drinks in one hour, was something else.

I’ve said this before and I say it again, Indian summers are special. Not only because of the mangoes available but how people get together to plan out the rest of the year, making papads, spice mixes and pickles.

As a kid, I watched my grandmother, aunt and mother, make pickles and spice mixes in the summer. This would happen at my uncle’s home, then these goodies would be distributed in the family and would last for most of the year. There was this beautiful aroma in the air and the sound of grinding and gossip.

This year, summer’s in Mumbai. The kind of summer that’s hot and very, very humid. Sweaty, uncomfortable mornings, afternoons and, well, nights too.  Sigh.

This Saturday I woke a little later than usual to the sound of a bunch of women chatting. As I opened my window, I watched these women wearing Nauvari sarees. They looked like they were on a mission. I wasn’t sure what, but I just had to wait and watch.

An hour later, there was the same spice aroma and the same sound of grinding and gossip. When I opened up my door, I watched them spread out red chilies, and other spices like coriander seeds and peppercorn in the sun. After some time the aroma strengthened as they roasted and ground these spices.

Organizing the spices. Don't miss the red chilies spread out in the sun

Organizing the spices. Don’t miss the red chilies spread out in the sun

Still sorting out the spices.

Still sorting out the spices.

I stood there watching them, sneezing a number of times and taking pictures of them as they posed for me.

 

Roasting the spices. Here you can see her roast cinnamon.

Roasting the spices. Here you can see her roast cinnamon.

Grinding the spice mixture.

Grinding the spice mixture.

Spices passing through a sieve.

Spices passing through a sieve.

I couldn’t stop and smile as here I was in the middle of one Mumbai’s most urban areas, watching these women make spices from scratch in the most traditional way.

Did I find one more reason to not hate summer that day? I think so.