Puffed up on pastry

I grew up in Kuwait.

Anyone who has lived there will vouch for the fact that the place is not a harbinger of ethos, pathos and all things poetic. But despite that, there are so many moments this arid desert had given me, which are frankly, food for my soul.

Amma and Acha were always busy. Tuitions and school and the ubiquitous need for doubling the dinars were a part of their routines. This meant family outings were rare, and carefully budgeted.

Anyone who is thinking, that these penny pinching days were difficult on us kids, I want to assure you that would be the farthest thing from the truth. We truly enjoyed the rare occasions when the four of us would go out, throw financial caution to the winds and shop, eat and make merry.

On one such outing, I remember telling my mom that I was craving an onion puff.

Now, for anyone unfortunate enough to not have experienced this explosion of spicy deliciousness, wrapped in crunchy puff pastry, I tell you, grab one now! Your life will change forever.

Now coming back to that day and my stomach’s clamouring for some puffs, we went looking up and down the streets of Fahaheel, hoping that one of the various Malayalee stores, which Kuwait has no dearth of, would stock up on these yummy savoury treats.

No such luck. We were offered alternatives by the ever efficient bakery dudes. But, I am sure most of you will agree, when you want puffs, you want puffs. So we decided to get cooking and make the puffs ourselves.

Lets just say disaster does not even begin to describe the state of affairs in Mum’s usually pristine kitchen.

The enterprising monkeys that we were, we wanted to make the pastry ourselves, so there was measuring jars and weighing scales all over the place, along with a pile of flour and butter.

Of course, we were kidding ourselves. Our stubborn oven refused to stay lit up for more than a few minutes and by the time the puffs were finally made, they were so dry and hard and unyielding that it was like punishment to try and chew on them.

So we gave up and ended up shovelling the spiced onion mix with Pita bread as accompaniment. Since then I haven’t attempted to make these quintessentially south Indian snack. But the craving resurfaced on several occasions, throughout my stay in England.

And no amount of telling myself that Greggs pale version of a savoury pastry would do just fine, stopped my taste buds from yearning for the spicy splendour of the ‘Onion puffs’.

But now finally I have found THE recipe to help me deal with my puff love affair. And for that, I thank you, Arun Subramaniam. You are truly a life saver.  Of course, I don’t really HAVE to resort to making them myself because I’m back in the land of Iyengar’s Bakery, but hey its always good to have the option.


So next time, my Amma, Acha and sister come to Bangalore, I have decided to give the “Making My Own Puff” thing a go again. This time, minus the brilliant idea of making puff pastry in a temperamental oven. And of course, there will be lots of coffee and conversation to add to that mix. Are you hearing this. Amma, Acha , Gaachu?

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Shaadi, Shehnai and more: Part One

While the rest of the country was thrown in to the chaos of the general elections, our family was in the throes of another kind of frenzy; a wedding was happening.

And cousins, uncles, aunts, extended family and the whole paraphernalia had flown from all the far flung reaches of the world to drink, eat, laugh and most importantly share in the joy of seeing our Sree as a blushing bride.

For me, as a cousin who had spent a fair few years away from the boisterous, brash and almost blatant beauty of Indian celebrations, the feeling was quite simply overwhelming.

I marvelled at how my cousin, who once was the epitome of the capricious conversant revelling in the powers of snide sarcasm and cryptic cynicism, had transformed into a gentle, gracious, completely unbridezillaesque beauty. She smiled all day through, for four long days, without even the slightest bit of fatigue showing through, despite the crazy preparations keeping her awake into the wee hours of the morning.

At times I felt like screaming on her behalf, just to let out the steam. I always thought being the bride was the easy part. Surely, everyone else would do all the running around, and all the bride had to do was sit pretty and go along. But boy oh boy, how wrong was I! This was hard work!

For the rest of us, the entire thing was a long riot of blissful bonhomie lasting nearly a week, complete with vibrant colours, soulful music and effervescent conversations.

DAY ONE

Pungent aromas of Mehendi, and loud conversation from across four generations, presided on the first day of the gala wedding. While the girls were busy getting ornate designs on their hands, the heavily outnumbered lads, loitered around, taking photographs and trying to steal surreptitious glances at the congregation of pure oestrogen.

Image Courtesy: Ron Joseph

Image Courtesy: Ron Joseph

But the real bang in the Mehendi celebrations came with an impromptu, friends vs family, Antakshari. Without the slightest hesitation at displaying our complete lack of rhythm, all of us launched into what we clearly envisioned to be soulful renditions of a curious mix of English, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil and German songs!

Although, we did not keep up the cacophony for too long, it helped melt away that barrier between friend and family. We had become one loud amalgamated mass of friends, family and well wishers, all getting our vicarious kicks, out of seeing Sree, sit patiently as the dedicated artists, drew intricate patterns.

While all this was happening upstairs, downstairs other plans were afoot. Lets just say, love, drama and rock n roll does not even begin to describe the devious plan that was to follow. Stay tuned for more revelries, anecdotes and lots and lots of crazy!

 

Lured by Luru

I was actually super surprised that there was no post on Bangalore on my blog.

I mean , I’m telling even the most uninterested people I meet that I love the place. So here goes. This ones for you Bangalore, love of my life. home, heart and happiness.

Image Courtesy: http://www.maa.co.in/

Image Courtesy: http://www.maa.co.in/

If you ask me to point out the one thing I love about Bangalore, I simply wouldn’t be able to.

But I can assure you it has nothing to do with the gardens, or IT or any of the other mundane things that people keep insisting Bangalore is about..

Bangalore is so much more than that.

Its about discovering quaint books in the run down Mecca Stores. Its about haggling shamelessly with shady auto walas. Its about speaking broken Kannada with panache. Its about being a part of one of the most culturally diverse cities in India. Its about so many little things that make Bangalore, the babe of all cities, if such a thing were possible.

The city ingratiates itself into your life in so many little ways, holding a vice like grip on your heartstrings, making other cities look surprisingly insufficient. Don’t get me wrong. I am aware that most people feel this way about the cities they consider home. But there’s something unmistakably special about Luru.

Through my years in London, Manchester and Delhi, whenever someone asked me, “Are you going home?”, the only place that I could think of as home was Bangalore. Never, did I think of Kochi or Kerala, which, is my ‘hometown’ ; because Bangalore was always mine, and I belonged to Luru.

To the evergreen Brigade Road, the sudden showers, the hot cups of coffee and the wonderful people of this city, my humble thank you. For welcoming me back with open arms.

Its part 2 of our love affair, Bangalore. And I can’t wait!

 

Tinder for the Kindered?

Now all you need to do, to possibly meet the love of your life or the best in bed, is apparently join Tinder

For the longest time, I was meaning to look up this talk-of-the-town app. (Before people get any funny ideas, I meant look up, not hook up…) It was buzzing, and trending and popping up on feeds and basically making all the right kind of noises.

Quite obviously some of the tidbits were scandalous to say the least, but, most people seemed to think it had redefined the ‘Hooking Up’ concept and lent it a socially acceptable angle. Some called it the perfect mashup of dating and casual sex.

When the swipe hype came to India

As an Indian woman, with tall claims on my own ideas of sexual independence, I am torn about my opinions of the app. On the one hand there is the idea that it gives our women the freedom of choice. All it takes is a few jabs with your finger, to decide which dishy dude is going to get lucky. (Yes, pun very much intended).

This is obviously a far cry from days when all the woman was expected to do, was, oblige.

But on the other, there is the spectacularly sleazy aspect to it. I mean, lets face it. Most men, and I say this with the utmost apathy possible, are looking for an easy lay. I can almost see the cogs of their sexual mind, going at breakneck speed, trying to visualise a a totally guilt free romp in the sack.

The safety angle

One thing that really scares me about putting any information on an online platform is the very real possibility that, maybe half the world is viewing it. And cyber security seems to be questionable with Tinder.

One glaringly obvious case of cyber scary was that hackers could zero in on a persons location almost precisely. The error margin was just a 100ft.  Some cases were reported where the emails became accessible to the people who had been rejected and so on.

Now in a country where acid attacks and rapes are as commonplace as bread and butter, one needs to be super careful. No amount of promises of meeting THE ONE, or even a great sack session,  should incite you to relinquish the safety aspect.

Where did all the romance go

The romantic in me, is most offended that, you need to resort to some matchmaking app to help you get by. It may have been the startup of 2013, but I am seriously hoping I will never have to resort to becoming a user, to satiate any of my ‘needs’.

Mammary lapse

Well, if you don’t know what I’m on about , here is a bit of background on this comedy of errors 🙂

So TOI did the usual attention grabbing headline, and, thankfully, it backfired.

This sort of story is so typical of the most read English newspaper of the country, that I am actually surprised people have finally realised, it is beyond obnoxious.

But sadly, this is not the first time that such deliberate objectification of women has happened on Indian or International press. It is also not going to be the last.

TOI is not alone to come out with abject pieces of pathetic journalism, like: “Check out Bollywood’s busty babes.”, “7 worst wardrobe malfunctions.” etc.

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                 Image Courtesy: http://www.memecenter.com/

But at the end of the day, that story was an attempt to sensationalise. And guess what, that’s exactly what happened.

They say all press is good press, but, I for one, think, it will take TOI a while to battle this shit storm.

Until then, they can take to doling out unsolicited advice on online journalism and catchy headlines. Point to note: Nobody is listening to you lame idiots. Stop trying to come off worse than you already are.