Sunday, May 29, 2011

Macroni N Cheese


Uncle Dheer spent one Saturday with us. He is fond of simple fresh food. Both Uncle Dheer and my Dad are very meager eaters. One cannot make an elaborate meal for these two so the menu was Thatte idli, chutney and sambhar for lunch. Dinner was going to be Gazpacho with Cream crackers and Fresh pasta.

Macaroni and Cheese is what I made, simple fresh and hearty. Uncle Dheer enjoyed it.

Ingredients

2 cups macaroni
Bring water to boil. Add the Macaroni into it and cook till al dente. Drain the cooked pasta on a mesh. Sprinkle some olive oil to avoid sticking. 2 cups raw macaroni gives 4 cups of cooked pasta.

For the sauce

4  large tomatoes
5-6 pods of garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 onions
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
salt and sugar to taste
Cheese for garnish

Chop onions lengthwise. Fry in oil. Cook the onions on slow meanwhile in a mixer grind together tomatoes, oregano and garlic along with salt and sugar as per taste. Pour the puree onto the onions. Cook till color changes to dark red of the tomatoes. Add the red chili powder for a bit of spice. Then finally add the pasta and cook till it absorbs some flavors and comes together as a dish. Plate out servings for 4 and grate your favorite cheese over it, as much as you like.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Shirtless Men and Mango Peach Cobbler on Mumbai's Summer Day

Shirtless Somu trying to hide behind the swing as he poses for me making faces as if I am not going to let him eat it. Showing of his wife's artwork, yes Sapna painted the plate.

Mumbai has blazing heat. It is showing every where. Not that in our family Men need reason to drop the shirt. Yes even before Salman Khan made the sculpted body a fashion the original Mumbai Men never shied from showing their big 'O' or '8', forget the six packs no one even knew anything about them. If at all it sounded like a takeaway order of may be medu vada chutney!

So now when it is this Mumbai Summer the Men do what the Women cannot. Drop the shirts and show off the bodies. Inspite of the problems heat creates on health this is the time for Mangoes and here it is only Hapoos. I decided to treat my very busy family to a Mango cobbler and the two Peaches too went into it. The cobbler recipe went for a change in type of sugar and believe it or not the taste changes completely.

Here is the other cobbler I made in the past Apple N Grape Cobbler

I think since then I have made it so many times and now the slight change let me record it here on my own blog instead of rushing to ET's everytime.

Ingredients

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup Demerera sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk
1 large pinch salt
1/2 cup butter
2 small peaches
1 Hapoos mango

 Preparing the fruit:

Heat water to boiling. Blanch the peaches for a min in the boiling water. Remove and keep aside. While they cool. Dice the Mango into cubes.

In a large bowl mix together all purpose, sugar, milk, salt and baking powder to smoothness. The mixing should not be for more than 5 mins. 
 
In the baking dish melt the butter in the oven. Remove from oven and pour the batter over the molten butter. Now layer the fruits over it peaches at the edge. Slice out the flesh and throw away the seed. Then layer the diced mango in the center. Put the baking dish in the oven on the middle rack and bake at 180 deg Celsius for 40 mins. Test by inserting a knife to ensure it is baked completely and the knife comes out dry.

Cool a bit and serve while still warm along with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Balgandharva : The Crowning Glory Of Marathi Musicals

 The epitome of feminine grace, Balgandharva

 The Naandi, the beginning with the Ganesh avahan
 
When Manjiri and Me met up for lunch at the Royal Orchid we gossiped for hours. I gave her company for shopping all the stuff she wanted to take along with her back to Singapore. Then she mentioned she was going to buy tickets for Balgandharva. It sounded really interesting so I tagged along and booked tickets for Dad and me.

I was trying to make it a family outing but my sudden appearance in Mumbai is not making anyone change their weekend plans. There are Kande pohe programs for Bal, Sumeet and Sapna are getting ready for their Himalayan Trek. Pranav has gone back to his home as school results will be announced soon. So Dad making a big fuss about going for a movie finally gave me company. Yeah he does these favors for me once in a while. He prefers to ignore that I do this for him. Uff!
 The entry of Balgandharva!

I expected this movie to be well made in the visuals. Produced by the Art director, Nitin Chandrakant Desai all I was expecting is spectacular sets, as his work is known. This movie is a piece of art which is not flawless but then what is imperfect is also attractive. I won't say that about Subodh Bhave's performance as Balgandharva. His finesse in acting is worth a standing ovation. He slips in and out of the onstage and offstage character of Balgandharva with ease. His personality carries the women characterization with equal savvy as the male character. 
 
The direction is patchy and adds to the tragedy of the biography of Balgandharva. As a child I have read a no.of articles in Marathi newspapers about him. I was in awe of how a Man could play a women's role with such ease and grace that even men fell for his characters. There were a few patrons who loved the women characters and Balgandhrva knew it. He also knew he was a trendsetter for women and was extravagant with his sarees, jewelry, perfumes etc.

Balgandharva  took the Marathi Musical scene to its pinnacle in the 1900s. His singing mesmerized the audience as much as this opulence on stage through costume and sets. The life story of Balgandharva is as dramatic as his performances. There are many a learning in his life and this movie brings it out very well. An artiste in those days without a formal education was vulnerable. He never took interest in the finances. The extravagance of presenting a play with the best costumes, jewelry and even making the experience romantic by spraying expensive perfumes on the audience as they are welcomed into the theater. The patrons were treated to lavish meals. Balgandharva's passion to please the connoisseur of art as well as the common man equally was the cause of his financial downfall.

The living of separate lives of a bill board king and his family's struggle to make both ends meet is heart wrenching. Finally his escaping into the arms of a younger women, Goharbai who extracts the life's juices out of him by making him perform with a deteriorated throat made me swear aloud. The greedy woman was the final reason for his downfall.

The death of his daughter was personal tragedy and The inaugural show went on the happen... 
That was an entertainer's commitment to his audience!!

The highlight in his life is when he inaugurates the show of Manapaman as Bhamini, he says the loss of his daughter is a personal tragedy but the show must go on. Yet for me the scene where his patrons offer to pay off his debts but he refuses it saying he will not accept alms from his audience was awesome. The mild mannered Balgandhrva coming out as a resolute human is played to perfection by Subodh Bhave.

This is not what you are thinking, It is fulfilling a spouse's wish.

The  scene where his new bride wishes to see him decked up as the glamorous woman followed by the romance dressed in all his stage finery in today's context may create a confusion in the mind. However look at the subtlety of a man who displays anger at such a wish being expressed by his bride but fulfills it nevertheless. It shows how sure he was of himself as a man! A man who cared for his spouse and her wish.

Another scene is where Shahu Maharaj gifts him a shawl and a bag of coins, he accepts it though hesitant and then as he is passing by a dargah he is drawn to the singing and offers the shawl and money there; is the spiritual height of the man called Balgandharva. Tainted by financial scandals, live in relationship at a withering age. His inability to adjust to the new era of cinema and its works. The pure soul whom Lokmanya Tilak conferred the title Balgandharva is what we would like to remember, the one who served the "Rasik mai baap" from a tender age untouched by the greed and unscrupulous people around him.

It was a great pleasure to see the theater full and with a lot of youngsters on a Sunday evening. It was a complete cultural experience. The movie ended with original pictures of  Balgandharva and in my entire life it is the first time I saw the audience standing up and clapping and watching all the credits till THE END!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Phodnichi PoLi / Chapati Upma


I am in Mumbai, working from home for a while. It's great to be able to handle all the personal pressures and yet be able to work in the comfort of ones home. This is the first time ever in the 8 yrs of my association with my org that I have used a facility like this. Feels great that company provides support.

I begin my work day at 6.30 am and work right upto noon. Then take a lunch break upto 2pm and resume work till 6pm. Go for a walk in the evening and work for another couple of hours at night.What is great is while I am working longer hours I am connected with friends in the outside world as well as surrounded by family and in my home clothes at my relaxed best. Downside is making calls is not as easy as when you are on the backbone. You have to schedule them. However this is only a minor thing.

On the personal front I am waiting for some things to work out and that is very stressful. I am just counting the months, hours, minutes, seconds and wishing this investment of time and more will result in a bumper. I am hanging onto the words "Patience is the PRIZE".

The bright side is being with family, Pranav, my nephew was here with us. He went back on Sunday and we realized that we have a batch of PoLi/ Chapati that was leftover. He is a big eater being a growing boy in his voracious tweens. Me and Sapna laughed at the mound of chapatis leftover after he went back. She was wondering what to do with it. I made this Phodnichi PoLi / Chapati Upma, which is very common in Maharashtrian homes when we are faced with PoLi that no one would otherwise touch. You see everyone wants a hot PoLi just off the girdle if given a choice!

This makes a nice breakfast though. Phodnichi PoLi in English is seasoned flat bread. Get going...

 Ingredients
5-6 chapatis/ PoLi
1 large onion chopped long
2 green chilies
a handful of chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
salt to taste.
sugar to taste
Lime to squeeze over

In a grinder put the chapatis and grind them to coarse flakes. Heat oil and fry chopped onion in it. Add the chopped green chilies and the spices. Now add the chapati flakes. Sprinkle the salt and the sugar. Mix well. Cook for 5 mins till all the flakes are evenly coated with spices. Garnish with the chopped cilantro and give a stir. Serve while still warm. This upma might dry out if served cold so serve warm if you like it soft. Don't forget to squeeze lime juice over it for the zing!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Urundai Sambar


It's been a long time since I made this sambhar. Way back in May 2007 we were doing a roadshow in Chennai and my friend Nimmy suggested that I must try this specialty. Yeah she is the philosopher, thinker, creative, outspoken friend of mine. We were at Day's Inn and those days are remembered fondly for many more reasons. So on recommendation for someone who knows her Tamil roots well but when it comes to food becomes a bumbler and she was recommending this. So it must be something. I did take a spoonful and then went back for more.

Now while making this at home I googled for this sambhar but the version I ate at Day's Inn was different from the result I checked out. So this version is the Day's Inn version and not what you see on so many blogs.

Ingredients

For the Urundai/ Dal balls
1/2 cup Chana dal / split chick peas
1/2 cup Tur dal/ yellow lentils
1 fine chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
salt to taste

Soak the dals separately after washing clean for 2 hrs. Grind to paste. Leave it crumbly coarse. Mine got too fine. Mix in all the spices and salt and roll up into balls. Keep aside.

For the gravy
1 cup Tur dal/ yellow lentils
2 onions chopped
1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
1 green chili
2 tablespoon grated fresh coconut
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 tomato fine chopped
1 tablespoon thick tamarind extract
1 small piece of jaggery (optional)
few curry leaves
mustard seeds
oil
salt to taste

Pressure cook the dal for 3-4 whistles. While the pressure cooker is cooling down make the masala. Grind together all the spices with coconut. 

Heat oil in a deep vessel. Make the tadka with mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add the tamarind extract, tomatoes and cooked dal. Beat it with a beater to get smooth consistency. Add the masala paste and bring to a rolling boil. Add the shaped dal balls. OK mine fell flat as the dals got ground to fineness. Leave them untouched and allow simmering for 15 mins or till cooked completely. Balance the taste with salt and jaggery.

I served with hot steamed rice. Sprinkles of fried Vathal Sundakai  makes a nice crunchy garnish besides the standard splash of green in the form of cilantro. Dal balls or balls gone flat still tasted awesome.

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