Chasing iftars! (*Image heavy alert*)

We have not had a food post in a while folks. 😉

Ramadan (I promise, this will be the last Ramadan post this year!) is just about wrapping up. Eid might (or might not) be less than 24 hours away. And boy oh boy, what a month it has been!

Chaotic, stressful, insane, (pious of course) and most of all fun 🙂

Apart from the extra chores, prayers and socializing (mostly virtual); being the insatiable foodie/ food demon incarnate, a lot of time and energy has also been put into chasing iftars.

Most days, it’s homemade fare. Some days we try to be good and healthy and stick to dates and smoothies and on many occasions I give into my fried-“nadan”/ country cravings and go on a fry-athon.

Recreating mum’s recipes has been a fun, roller-coaster ride. Some were roaring successes, and some epic fails. Some items turned out to be surprisingly complicated to master while others were deceptively simple.

Then there was the whole ‘eating out’ madness. We have systematically hit almost every Indian/ South Asian eatery in town. We even contemplated a couple of swanky, five- star buffet thinggys, but then one seemed more than enough. I would rather buy a Jimmy Choo rather than spend another penny on those (almost 600 QAR per couple) dos. Na Na mister.

Moreover, I have come to the realization that a starving tummy though not choosy or difficult to please, derives most comfort from the familiar.

I might consider being adventurous with food on a normal day, but after fasting for over 16 hours, I NEED ME some spicy, full- flavored, tongue- tickling, taste- bud firing fare. The bland, so called international/ continental, whatever else soup and meat just doesn’t cut it folks!

So yes, we moved on to homey,familiar “budget” iftars.

Soon though, another problem arose. At every iftar, we ate familiar stuff, special Ramadan treats that we grew up eating. But most of it did not match up to the culinary heights and standards that our palates (thanks to genius-in-the-kitchen mums) were accustomed to. 😦

Then there was the pre- iftar traffic. We almost missed an iftar once, and would have if Qatar Charity did not come to our rescue.

Finally, we deiced to go the non- traditional route. Especially at the fag end (aka last week), when all bets (i.e. health/ fitness) were off. We decided to give in completely and eat whatever our hearts desired.

Subway for iftar? Yes,please!

Pizza? Super!

Beach picnic? Sure, darn the heat.

Salad and celery sticks???? Why not? Yalla, let’s give it a go….

And so it’s been a truly fantastic gastronomic adventure folks. One that my inner demons thoroughly relished.

Le Belly has no complaints!

Tonight we may stay in, or may go out for one last adventure (for this year), Le Belly has not decided yet.

Next year, hopefully (iA) we shall have a full fledged food guide on this space and I shall try and be as enthusiastic about clicking photographs as I am about downing these aforementioned delicacies, but for now this is all I have…


Late nights and beach trips!
Late nights and beach trips! Aah, the things one has to do for a half- decent shawarma…

Literally chasing iftar! We seemed in perpetual hurry...
Literally chasing iftar! We seemed in perpetual hurry this month

On really lucky days, everyone was home already and the roads were clear
On really lucky days, everyone was home already and the roads were clear

Like so.
Like so.

And then there were days such as this
And then there were days such as this. We were running late for a reservation, and I was almost tempted to hop into KFC there.

For those who aren't familiar with this part of the world- there are usually a bunch of kind folks, handing out
For those who aren’t familiar with this part of the world-  just before sundown, there are usually a bunch of kind folks, handing out “iftar-snack boxes” at traffic signals. They are sponsored by companies/ charities/ individuals.

This one time, we were so late that we actually needed to accept one!
This one time, we were so late that we gladly accepted one!

Budget eats for homey treats
Budget eats for homey treats

Things from
Things from “my” part of town (not The Mister’s)

A couple of evening ago, another dash to break our fasts
A couple of evenings ago, another dash to break our fasts

Many of us know where this is :-)
Many of us know where this is 🙂 A couple of other families too, decided to brave the swealtering weather and break their fasts in the moisture laden sea breeze

Probably not a poster-iftar for healthy eating :-)
Probably not a poster-iftar for healthy eating 🙂

But an occasionally indulgence never hurt anyone, eh?
But an occasional indulgence never hurt anyone, eh? #Mum would consider this is the worst iftar meal EVER!# My brain concurs, Le Belly would never…

We waited to hear the canon shot/ azaan while Little Z inspected the grass qaulity
We waited to hear the canon shot/ azaan while Little Z inspected the grass quality

Yay! The sunset...We actually had a private call to prayer, and a random- stranger- public prayer session going on...
Yay! The sunset…We actually had a private call to prayer, and a random- stranger- public prayer session

Not sure what's happening there, but I was too busy with my Stuffed Crust Chicken Supreme
Not sure what’s happening there, but I was too busy with my Stuffed Crust Chicken Supreme

This isn't an everyday affair, let me tell you
We aren’t always this naughty folks!

A walk to get to kick start the digestion process going. Sorry, no run this night
A walk to kick start the digestion process. Sorry, no run this night. In fact it felt odd to stuff myself with worthless calories at a place where I usually come to burn them.

And some play
And some play

While The Msiter lay comatose on the grass
While The Mister lay comatose on the grass, chilling with his best bud.

Till next time.

Dr J.

Bad Shawarma Karma :-(

A Ramadan Friday at the HJ household.

Sleep in.

Then wallow in bed, till you can push it no further. The baby’s breakfast that is.

You might be fasting, but you better drag your arse off the bed and get some breakfast going for the tiny human. Feeding the tiny human is paramount.

Prep the food. And then hope the baby eats it. At least a quarter of it.

In short, hope for a miracle.

Laze around.

Do some customary spot cleaning. A smidgen of laundry here, some dishes there.

You want to conquer the home and world. Not today though.

Play silly games with the tiny human.

Contemplate what to make for iftar.

Clean the baby up. Pat it dry, clothe it and let it loose.

Discuss dinner options.

The Woman has no intention of slogging over the stove this day. Not today.

Baby wreaks havoc while the adults while away their time on the internet.

Suddenly, out of the blue, you are randomly struck by Shawarma craving.

The Shawarma Fiend strikes when you least expect it. And he strikes hard.  As always.

Your every fiber and breath craves the meaty, succulent, gooey treat.

More discussions follow, regarding iftar and dinner choices.

A ton of leftovers from previous  hearthy escapades languish forlorn in the fridge. You decide to give them all a chance. And thus, Iftar’s sorted.

Dinner is a no brainer. Shawarma it shall be. From this place that you have never been to, but one that everyone keeps telling you about.

To kill the draggy intervening hours, you will yourself to brave the blistering afternoon heat and perform a weekly exercise that is irksome but mandatory. The weekly LuLu jaunt/ grocery trip.

That done, you quickly get through the motions at Iftar and prayers; and even manage to squeeze in a “guilt-run” (aka quick 45 minute run in anticipation of further gastronomic indulgence) at the Corniche.

All done. It’s time.

10:30 PM. 16.4 km from home. Excited woman. Stoically duteous man. Tired, sleepy baby.

You look outside the car window. You are there. Almost. You have never been there before. But you know exactly where it is supposed to be.

And it is closed. Closed!

For renovation. By the municipality. For change of location. Forever. Who knows.

Who would have thought!

Plan A :-(
Plan A 😦

Aah! The anticipation. The long ride. All the talk. And the planning.

On this day, at this time; your craving shall not be satiated.

You are crestfallen.

The man’s secretly smiling. The woman’s belligerently “hangry”. The baby has given up and dozed off.

And this is life folks. There are no sureties. No givens. Plans are never fail-proof.  Desires often remain unfulfilled.

Hence the need to always have Plan B.

As in Plan Biriyani!

Plan B!
Plan B!

Till next time.

Dr J.

P.S. Gotta love a town where you can get steaming biriyani at 12AM. And gotta love Ramadan!

Of alter egos and food battles- 3!

I think food is disgusting. It’s a vile, despicable monstrosity which will one day lead to the downfall of humankind. Really!

It causes sheer wastage of anywhere between 5- 6 hours of my day. Hours which could be put to great use otherwise. I could run around in circles, climb up and down the couch about ten thousand times, chase the Barbie Ball endlessly, tear up Mama’s notes, fiddle with and poke at Papa’s wires and stuff….. and generally create “mayhem” (as Mama calls it). Heck, I might as well sleep (though it is another human activity that I’m particularly fond of)!

Eating was fun- about six months ago. It was novel and stimulating. Now, it’s utterly boring. Stuffing my face with puerile, unexciting calories is no fun I tell you. Mama labors over my meals and serves them with a lot of love. I wish I could tell her to not bother. Just give me some protein pills and calorie supplements please. Oh wait! I might not like that too. You see, I think I don’t like the act of swallowing. Spitting food is so much more piquant.

I have mastered the art of food spraying by the way. You tell me where you want it to land, and I shall oblige. On the floor next to Mama’s flip flops? Perfect. On the remote lying on the coffee table? Done. On the iPad in front of me? Done that. On Mama’s head? Brilliant I say!

I might detest the taste and smell of food in general. But I do love the feel of it. The squishy, mushy, slippy, firm, watery, rubbery….. I love ’em all. And oats make a great face scrub (full body scrub if you so wish). Chicken shreds look fantastic as hair adornments. I also save Mama some time by rubbing yogurt onto my hair- so she does not have to bother with oiling and conditioning my hair. 🙂

Everyday, Mama (or Papa) have a battle of wills with me at mealtime. Don’t want to sound like a brag, but I win everyday, hands down. I know I’m driving Mama up the wall, but she needs to get my point- serve me strawberries thrice a day lovely woman!!! Yes. Those darned, red little things, I can stomach. Give some to me on a plate, washed and cut into bite sized pieces….I shall polish them off in no time. Thank you very much. Everything else can go straight to food purgatory (or to landfills or wherever else it is that food goes to).

Mama is legendary across family circles for her love and passion for food. I don’t understand it, but to each their own I guess. Just don’t expect me to trip over some cooked chicken or salivate because I spotted some weird looking cake a mile away.

Sigh!

WP_20150404_11_04_41_Pro

Till next time..

Zoe.

Of alter egos and food battles – 2

Read part 1 here

How does one fight back from the desolate depths of heinously blasphemous gluttony?

Is there redemption?

Can one survive the brutal onslaught of it’s inner food demons?

Folks, it’s been a little over two weeks. Two weeks since I gave in to all my inner food monsters (The Dairy Demon, the Bakery Monster, The Shawarma Fiend and some other unnamed miscellaneous creatures). It started off fairly unobtrusively. I was “chilling” apparently.

It started one morning, when on the way to airport my lovely Bakery Monster decided cupcakes with extra sweet icing (which is just a fancy term for plain ‘ol butter and sugar) would make an excellent pre- dawn snack choice. I then gobbled a humungous breakfast of buttery, sugary, syrupy crepes at the airport, followed by the cold, hard, bland fare they served on board. At transit, the burgers called out to me….

It has all gone downhill from there.

About three days into this sinful existence (where my gut overrode my brain and was given free reign), I started calling this “an experiment”. I vocally declared that I wanted to see how far things would go. Few days later, I walked around muttering that exercise was getting boring and I needed to pile on some pounds so that I would have fun losing it. Twisted logic you say? Like most addictions, I needed an excuse for my addiction.

I have been feeding the Bakery Monster every morning and evening. Almost every night, The Shawarma Fiend has his fill. The Dairy Demon needs no excuse, he has a boundless existence; all in the name of “calcium for a lactating mama”.

I have had Biriyani for lunch, for ten straight days. I then missed a day, thanks to some unforeseen, insurmountable circumstances. I got back on track the next day, and have been on it since then.

I eat a Shawarma, every night. The justification given- I’m trying to find the best one in town!

I binge on muffins and croissants every morning, away from the prying eyes of The Mister; who is still in bed then.

I eat what my heart desires and till my gut says stop.

I had buttered toast and muffins and coffee for breakfast yesterday. Biriyani for lunch, Shawarma and tea for the evening and take- out pizza and bottomless soda for dinner. Pre- snooze snack- Pineapple preserve filled doughnut with generous sprinkling of icing sugar.

And there it is. My ugly, embarrassing secret is out.

Go ahead Mister, snigger away to glory. Make all the sarcastic, snide remarks that you want. Gloat and preen.

They say the key to ridding an addiction is to first admitting you have a problem. We have a problem on our hand folks. A big one.

I have to drag all these demons back into their cages (for they can only be caged not killed) before they ravage my bloodstream and pummel my conditioned body into fatty submission. I wonder what damage has been done already. Will the scale bear any consequences? Or should I get a lipid profile done stat?

Either way, all my lovely, friendly monsters- It’s time. I love you and shall miss you, but tis time. I let you run amok and fill your souless selves with your drugs and vices of choice. No more. For a while at least. Till then, hasta la vista baby!

Till next time..

Dr J, in association with all her alter egos.

Grubbie Tuesday- The ultimate love affair!

I might not look like it, but I love food.

Not the superficial, just- saying- it- coz- everybody- does, flimsy, fleeting, reasonable sort of love. No sir, no.

We are talking about the hard-core, wild, unhinged, loony, bizarre love.

The kind that can make you laugh for no reason. That can better your day and lift your spirits.Depraved of which you are fractious and dour.

Red velvet cupcakes with lightly sweetened cream cheese frosting has a better effect on my ill- natured mind than an hour of meditation does.

A well- made Shawarma and it’s moist, succulent innards can make my evening, and even the morning after.

Spicy prawns, fried in fiery Indian spice- mix and clarified butter, and served with pristine white ultra- short grained, cardamom and cinnamon spiced, fragrant, butter rice is equivalent to nirvana.

Cheese crust pizza and Parmesan suffused pasta…Lord!

Heck, even an expertly made cup of tea, or the perfectly ripened banana or mango will do.

It’s the ultimate love affair.

The love that never fails you.

The lover that never deserts you.

A true soul-mate.

One that feeds your body and fills your soul.

That brings your unadulterated joy and unrestrained pleasure.

 

If only I had a plate of these with me right now….

Shawarma Wrap  Fries

 

All my troubles would be forgotten for the night!

Wine and narcotics be damned. You are The Intoxicant Supreme.

I miss thee my sweet love.

Soon we shall meet again…

 

Till next time…

The Shawarma Fiend (in association with The Dairy Demon & The Bakery Monster)

 

P.S. Dr J and The Health Nut are fast asleep- in a calorie induced stupor! They shall return tomorrow, hopefully….

Read about us here….

 

 

Grubbie Tuesday- Alas, I have nothing! Except love…

I have nothing to post on this Grubbie Tuesday. Stove and I have broken up. Scalpel and I have gotten back together.

I’m back to eating for sustenance rather than pleasure.

Hmmm…. the above sentence may not be entirely true!

Anyhoo…

I thought, I’d ditch Grubbie Tuesdays. Maybe make it my Blog Holiday.

But here I am, powering up my lappy to blog when I should be reading up for tomorrow. Typing with no preordained topic in mind.

I was flipping through Whuthering Heights as Zoe slept on me. (We miss each other terribly when I’m at work. So, we are inseparable once I come back home!)  And I thought I’d let you folks know why I keep going back to the book. And why it is an ageless, timeless classic.

 

“I cannot express it; but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is or should be an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation, if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff’s miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning: my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it. My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.”

“I’m wearying to escape into that glorious world, and to be always there: not seeing it dimly through tears, and yearning for it through the walls of an aching heart: but really with it, and in it.”

“Treachery and violence are spears pointed at both ends; they wound those who resort to them worse than their enemies.”

“I wish I were a girl again, half-savage and hardy, and free.”

“I have dreamt in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind. And this is one: I’m going to tell it – but take care not to smile at any part of it.”

“I gave him my heart, and he took and pinched it to death; and flung it back to me. People feel with their hearts, Ellen, and since he has destroyed mine, I have not power to feel for him.”

“He wanted all to lie in an ecstasy of peace; I wanted all to sparkle and dance in a glorious jubilee. I said his heaven would be only half alive; and he said mine would be drunk: I said I should fall asleep in his; and he said he could not breathe in mine.”

“Why did you betray your own heart Cathy? I have not one word of comfort. You deserve this. You have killed yourself. … You loved me – then what right had you to leave me? Because … nothing God or satan could inflict would have parted us, you, of you own will, did it. I have not broken your heart – you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine. So much the worse for me that I am strong. Do I want to live? What kind of living will it be when you – oh God! would you like to live with your soul in the grave? […] I forgive what you have done to me. I love my murderer – but yours! How can I?”

“Be with me always – take any form – drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I can not live without my life! I can not live without my soul!”

“And I pray one prayer–I repeat it till my tongue stiffens–Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living! You said I killed you–haunt me, then!…Be with me always–take any form–drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!”

 

This is why!

And please do note, I am not the hopeless, romantic sort. (We don’t do the roses and chocolates routine. A nifty, new gadget or a calorie – laden treat is welcome though :-)) I still can relate to the story. No idea why!

Pray do tell me folks, does such a love exist?

 

Till next time…

Dr J.

P.S. Meanwhile let me ask Mr H if he’d rather be stuck in the abyss or does want me to haunt him 😉

 

The last supper..

Hours 1 to 12….

The “packing expert” fits everything but the kitchen sink, into three bags.

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Packed but not ready…

 

The Last Supper…Mister’s choice.

Flavoured rice cooked with a dash of clarified buter and spicy, aromatic lamb curry.
Flavoured rice cooked with a dash of clarified buter and spicy, aromatic lamb curry.

 

Will sorely miss the morning cuppa together and the gossip and ranting that goes along…

One's coffee and the other is tea...guess who is which?
One’s coffee and the other is tea…guess who is which?

 

A favoured breakfast at the H household!…

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French toast with cinnamon, cardamom and icing sugar to garnish

 

And finally…the last meal….

Chicken Chukka!
Chicken Chukka!

 

More to come…

Till next time.

Dr J.

Of alter egos and food battles…

Morning Y’all!

Our tale for today, commences a little over 48 hours ago.

Dr J announces that she will make masala dosa (rice and lentil pancake/ crepe) with sambhar, chammandi and potatoes for breakfast and that dinner would be special fare.-Thalassery Ghee Rice (Thalassery is a place in Kerala while ‘Ghee Rice” is rice cooked with clarified butter and spices/ condiments), charcoal smoked Mughlai Dal and chicken something (she was yet to make up her mind).

Now, we have get a few facts straight. Dr J is a well- meaning health/ fitness enthusiast who would like to eat healthy and in moderation. But the problem lies within her alter- egos. The Dairy Demon, the Bakery Monster and the Shawarma Fiend. All of them reside within her and are constantly leading her astray from the path of health and fitness.

Let us get back to our tale….

 

MORNING

The alarm rings at 6 am. J bashes the darned thing against the night stand and swears silently. She had woken up atleast half a dozen times during the night. The last time was at 5 am, when Lil Z wanted a snack. The little one was fast asleep now. J decides that another 15 minutes or so will do no harm. Potatoes will be cooked in no time. Chutney may take ten minutes. And the sambhar was ready anyway. She dozes off again, even before she can finish the thought thread.

J is on a ship deck, a cool but damp sea breeze against her cheek. The water an azure, flowy carpet; all around her. Mr H, who is The Captain of the cruise ship strides toward her in his all- white attire and sailor’s hat. She gazes at him, lovingly. He draws closer, with his trademark lop-sided grin and crinkly eyes that are masked by his multi- coloured, reflective aviators. He looks a bit like Tom Cruise from Top Gun actually.

Suddenly, she is jarred. The ship seems to have collided into something. J is shaking. Mr H is calling out to her. Everything is hazy. She is not sure what happened….

J is being violently shaken. She opens her eyes. The dirty green- hazel eyes that she is so familiar with, stare at her with concern. The grin of mischief  has been replaced with a grimace of worry.

It’s 7:45 woman! I have a meeting at 8!! You must have switched the alarm off……

Breakfast for Mr H was almost- burnt, buttered toast and over- sweetened coffee.

J had a muffin, three slices of toast and milk. The Dairy Demon made absolutely sure that the toast has extra- butter and the milk was full fat.

The Health Nut within cringed and looked away.

 

AFTERNOON

Baby breakfast- check.

Baby oil massage- check.

Baby bath- check.

Rock, lull, sing, shush, jump baby to sleep- check.

Make the bed- check.

Do the dishes- check.

Mommy bath- check.

Talk to parents over Skype- check.

Check and apply for job positions- check.

Upload blog post- check.

Load laundry- check.

Fold previous day’s laundry- check.

Pick up toys from the floor and clean- check.

Baby lunch- check.

The morning chugs on…

Before J can blink, it is 2 pm and she is hungry. When J is hungry- she is impatient, irritable, short-tempered and if you ask Mr H- SHE IS STARK RAVING MAD!

J can’t wait for the rice to cook or be bothered with chopping vegetables or pottering around with pots and pans.

She opens her fridge and eye- balls it’s inhabitants. A Tupperware box full of leftover pasta from two night ago stares back at her. Arms pop out from the box and beckon her.

Aah! Her gut jumps in delight.

Health Nut is now truly pissed.

She heats up the pasta with Lil Z on the hip. The cheese in it has dried up and become stringy. Hmm….Not cool…

She goes back to the fridge and whips out a bag full of shredded mozzarella. She rips the bag open with her teeth (she only has one hand to spare you see) and tries to get some out on the pan.

It’s all stuck together. She shakes it vigourously.

Half the packet tumbles out.

Ooops.

The Dairy Demon stirs awake from his slumber. He looks into the pan, holds his breath…

It immediately melts and becomes a gooey mess. It looks divine. Oh well…

The Dairy Demon exhales a sigh of pleasure and anticipation. Aah! Such a beautiful day!

 

EVENING

Mr H has a good day at work. He wants to surprise his crazy lady- love. He picks up some freshly- baked cheese croissants. He knows it will get J into a good mood.

J is ridden with guilt. After the extra- chessy lunch, the Dairy Demon convinces her to have a bar of white chocolate.

She is livid with herself. She decides to be a good girl for the rest of the day.

She tries to patch things up with an utterly dejected Health Nut.

The door bell rings. The little one floats toward the door in her walker. J follows her. As soon as she opens the door, J can smell it. There is no mistaking it-

It is the sweet smell of the BAKERY.

The Dairy Demon nudges the Bakery Monster. They snigger.

The Health Nut contemplates suicide.

J wavers. The butter, the cheese, the chocolate, the bread, the pasta, the milk, the bananas, the biscuits for tea, the glass of Pepsi to down the pasta….. and now this?

The brown bag is still warm. The croissant is soft, flaky. “it’s cheese…” Mr H call out from the bedroom. J fights.

She buckles.

She will run an extra half hour she counters.

Yes.

And not eat dinner.

Yes.

Maybe just an apple.

Yes.

And no hot chocolate at bed- time.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Now just eat the darned thing you crazy woman!

They have tea and cheese croissants and watch a documentary on World War I. Simple pleasures!

 

NIGHT

J makes dinner. Mr H has to eat after- all.

She nibbles on her apple as she splutters some mustard seeds for the Dal.

Not the decadent, ghee plus butter Muglai Dal but the humble, poor man’s version. She decided it’s better if Mr H has some “healthy” food.

The Thalassery Ghee rice too is out of the window. Plain ol’ water cooked rice will do.

To make everything palatable, she cooks some spicy side- veggies and fries some Pappadam. Mr H loves his Pappadam.

Dinner is served. As Mr H spoons in some lovely yellow, fragrant dal over his pristine, white steaming rice, he says ” Why don’t you eat a little, it will do no harm.”.

J shakes her head and fiddles with the remote.

Mr H crunches some Pappadam over his rice. J walks out of the room.

She gets a plate from the kitchen. She serves herself some rice and silently eats. She avoids eye- contact with Mr H.

Just as she she takes her second helping of rice, Mr H asks,  Is this MUGHLAI DAL? And did you forget about the Thalassery Ghee rice….

It is healthy woman. There is no ghee, no butter…

J concentrates on her mango pickle. Mr H smiles.

 

PAST MIDNIGHT

Lil Z finally falls asleep. Mr H is well on his way to dreamland. J is wide awake.

She decides to read for a bit.

She tiptoes out of the room. And snuggles into the living room arm chair with a book.

Two pages in, she feels a void.

Something missing.

She thoughtlessly gets out of the chair and wanders into the kitchen.

She seems to be be on auto- pilot as she gets the milk carton out the fridge and heats up some milk.

She drops three tablespoons full of hot chocolate powder into the milk and mindlessly stirs hers drink. Breaks some pieces of chocolate into it for good measure. She likes the gooey bite.

She takes the steaming drink back to the living room.

Adjusts the back pillow, picks up the book.

And then takes a sip of the creamy, frothy goodness.

Aah yes.

The void is gone.

All seems complete.

The Diary Demon is content. It was a fantastic day.

The Bakery Monster is happy too. The croissant made his day.

The Health Nut’s tears have dried. He knows it was a bad day. But he has been through these days before. HE has seem them all. He has survived worse days.

Days when the Diary Demon pummeled him into submission.

Days when the Bakery Monster almost killed him with sugar- poisoning.

Days when Shawarma Fiend clogged up his arteries and plugged his gut.

He survived those days.

HE shall survive this too.

The key is to keep fighting.

To let THEM win somedays. J would go completely insane otherwise.

The fact that J is considered skinny and healthy is testimony to the battles he has won.

She would be morbidly obese otherwise!

 

Till next time…

All the food alter- egos of Dr J.

The Grubbie Tuesday “How Not To” Series- Puttu!

Morning, Afternoon, Evening!

Get ready for a quick post with crappy pictures, folks.

‘Twas a busy, busy morn. We woke up late, Lil’ Z woke up early, there was a rat scare, the grated coconut was frozen solid, the internet was shifty, the baby was sleepy, traffic snarls, news from home- all in all, it was pandemonium in here.

I always have great plans for my “Grubbie Tuesday” posts, but they never quite make it. I always end up hurrying, taking substandard pictures on my phone/ iPad and then hastily putting the post up while the Lil’ Ms Z takes a cat nap. I shall try to do better next time folks. I shall honestly try!

PUTTU!

Breakfast dish of steamed cylinders of ground rice layered with coconut or also known as rice and coconut funnel cake.

 

It is the poster- child of the “Mallu” breakfast line-up. Right next to Appam and stew.

My Mum is a bit of a puttu cognoscente. An acclaimed expert in the art of puttu making. She starts from scratch. Washing and partially drying the rice, then grinding/ powdering it just enough. The mixing in warm, salted water comes next; then the steaming. Even with the multiple steps involved, she gets it right every single time. It is always soft, almost crumbly, super- absorbent, perfectly cooked.

I seemed to have not inherited the “puttu- gene”. Or maybe it is yet to be activated.

I have never gone through the trouble of washing/ drying/ powdering rice. I use store bought “puttu- podi/ powder”. Even then, it took a while to make edible, decent puttu. Trouble is that Mr  H likes his to be slightly lumpy while I like mine to be fine. We tried the middle path- it was always either too lumpy for me or too powdery for Mr H. So now I make it in two batches. Live and let live I say.

Mr H makes it well too. In fact, he was the one who initially taught me some tips and tricks. I have now surpassed him, I’d like to believe!

Let us get on with the program, shall we?

1. DO not mess with the water level. Water- level is key, yet again. Like in several of my earlier posts on this series, here too one must know exactly how much water to pour into the puttu vessel. Too much and you’ll have a water- steam spitting puttu- maker dragon and too little will lead to a charred bottom and some uncooked rice cake. Fill the pot to a little less than half. That seems to work. Even today, I was dim-witted enough to let a dry and empty pot keep burning away on the stove.

3376_front
The puttu contraption…

 

2. DO not add too much or too little water while mixing the rice- flour. This takes practice. It is a very fine line between a perfectly cooked puttu and a badly cooked one. Too little water and you have a dry, over-crumbly, hard mess and too much …well…it might even lead to an explosion (an over- watered mix will not let the steam rise through the vertical component and stuck- steam is never a happy- chappy). Beware!

3. Do not “pack” the vertical funnel- pot too compactly. You want the steam to permeate all the way through and come out through the holes at the top. It is also a health and safety hazard.

4. DO not let is cook for too long. Once the steam gets going, the puttu cooks in less than ten minutes. A few minutes longer if the flour is made of brown rice.

5. DO not keep refilling and placing the top- vertical portion without checking the water level in the bottom portion. Distaster calls. Daft Dr J did that today!

Start with this...
Start with this…
Till you obtain this...
Till you obtain this…
Layer with this
Layer with this
Looking down the barrel!      fill into this...
Looking down the barrel! fill into this…
Top off like so..
Top off like so..
Lumpy batch for the Mister!
Lumpy batch for the Mister!
The fine version being enjoyed by the Mrs- with some good ol’ Kadala (chick- pea) Curry. Mr Muster is obvious by absence- Note to self- Buy Mr Mustard…

I am a tad scatter brained today, hence I’m sure to have missed several Don’ts. Will update. Or the lovely reader can… Any puttu connoisseurs here?

Random puttu facts:-

  • My paternal grandmum’s onion and cumin spiced puttu is my gold standard. The Rolls- Royce Phantom Coupe of the Puttu world.
  • I like my Puttu with loads of coconut. It is a personal preference.
  • Puttu can also be made with brown-rice (I have even seen/ eaten “wheat- puttu”!)

    The brown-rice puttu
    The brown-rice puttu
  • Traditionally it is eaten with chick-pea curry or green- grams. But it can also be had with banana and sugar, ghee (clarified butter) and sugar, rasam (south- Indian tamarind based soup) and meat curries.
  • Before all the steel/ aluminium puttu making thingamajiggys came into being, our grand mums made them in bamboo shoots over a wood- fire.
    New- age, olden-style puttu- maker!
    New- age, olden-style puttu- maker!

     

     

  • It can also be cooked over a pressure cooker.

 

Till next time…

Dr J.

 

The Grubbie Tuesday “How Not To” Series- Idlis!

You know it’s going to be a great day when your 6 month old finally sleeps through the night (first continuous 5 and a 1/2 hours stretch of sleep in almost a year!) and then you enter the kitchen with a perfectly soured, risen idli batter greeting you.

idli-with-idli-rava7

 

Morning doc! Mr Batter seems to say. I’m all done dear, please let’s get going….

Idlis. Well how does one describe them. I once saw them on  5 star menu- they called them soft, fluffy, fermented rice cakes.

Cake?

To me, cake never sounds right when there is no baking involved. But for the lack of a better word, I shall go along with CAKE.

But let us improve the description, shall we? We shall call our idlis- Soft, fluffy, sour, fermented, steamed, rice and black- lentil/ gram cakes. Hmmm… Much better.

They can be had with chutney/ chammandi, sambhar, or chutney powder. In some places, they are even enjoyed with meat curries. I am not sure if anyone else does this, but I sometimes eat them dunked in a hot bowl of milk with some sugar sprlinked on top. Am I a total weirdo for doing that?

There are several variations of the idli, but let us stick to the basics. The plain ol’ version.

So, how do we NOT make idlis?

1. DO NOT use a flat, unfermented batter. Might as well have toast for breakfast.

2. Do not add too much water to the steaming pot. The idlis become soggy and gross. Been there….

Just enough...
Just enough…

3. Do not add too little either. It dissappears in no time and then you have black, charred, stuck idlis. Done that…

4. Do not pour the batter into the idli plates directly. Always grease the plate/ pan with some oil.

photo (36)
The scratch marks tell a not-so-pleasant story!

 

Otherwise this ensues…

It is usually much worse...
It is usually much worse…

5. Do not over-fill the idli plates. Under-filling them does no harm except your idlis won’t look right.

photo (31)
For demonstration purposes only 😉

6. Do not be in a hurry to get them off the heat. No matter how hurried you are and how much your spouse haggles you. Whether you use a pot with a whistle or no, give a good 8 to 12 minutes (depends on the size of the pot and the number of idlis in them).

7. Once cooked, DO not try to scrape it off the plate immediately. Wait for it to cool.

8. Do not eat less than four idlis, at the very least. It is an insult to the idli- maker/ cook. Lick the plate and your finger’s clean.

photo (37)
Breakfast perfection!

 

photo (30)
Comfort food!

 

It's onion and coconut chammandi today. Courtesy - Mr H.
It’s onion and coconut chammandi today. Courtesy – Mr H.

 

Sambhar!
Sambhar! Tastes better than it looks- I promise!

 

That’s all for today folks!

Till the next how-not-to…

Dr J.