Wednesday 17 November 2010

This or that...

Letters or emails-- letters any day
Phone call or text messages-- Phone calls
Starters or deserts--Deserters
Day or night-- Night
Fashion or comfort-- Comfort
Classic or modern-- Classic
Black or white-- Black
Dark or light- Dark
Sing or dance- Neither, ok dance
Pray or fight-- Both, cannot choose
Mountain or sea-- Mountains
Tall or short-- Tall
Girl or boy-- Girl
Fair or dark-- Dark
Sun or moon-- Sun
Veggies or fruits-- Fruits
Vegetarian or non vegetarian-- Non, of course
Bright or dim-- Bright
Moral or immoral-- Immoral
Straight or crooked--Depends, if it is a road, crooked, if it is a character trait, straight
Impulsive or cautious-- Again depends
Planned or spontaneous-- Depends on mood
Acting or recitation-- Acting
Reading or writing-- Both....but mostly it would be reading
Drink or eat-- Eat
Past or future-- Future but a bit of past too
River or lake-- River
Sea or ocean-- Sea, ocean is way too big for me
Science or humanities-- Humanities
Designer labels or local products-- Local products any day
Organic or inorganic-- Organic
South or North-- South, I am from South Kolkata, after all
West or East-- East, after all the sun rises in the east
Sailing or flying-- Sailing
Trains or planes-- Trains
Cars or bikes-- Cars
Hilsa or Salmon-- Hilsa any day and every day
Eggs or milk-- Eggs
Coffee or tea-- Tea
Gold or silver-- Silver any day
Jewels or furs-- Jewels
Shoes or bags-- Bags
Ear rings or rings-- Ear rings
Blue or green-- Green
Pink or red-- Red
Butter or jam-- Butter
Cakes or cookies-- Cakes
Sunset or sunrise-- Sunset....hardly seen sunrises in my life...but when seen, loved them....
Fish or meat-- Meet
Sculptures or painting-- Paintings
Marble or wood-- Wood
Hard or soft-- Soft

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Three's of Me....

Don't remember if I have done this one before. Got time to waste so here I go....

THREE NAMES I GO BY
1. Suchi
2. Guria
3. Tinku
I am so relieved that my pet names are pretty respectable compared to the rest of the Bong ones! Thank God for small mercies....

 THREE JOBS I HAVE HAD IN MY LIFE
1. Teaching Assistant
2. Project Manager
3. Volunteer Coordinator (fun job)

THREE PLACES I HAVE LIVED IN
Not mentioning Kolkata 
1. Delhi
2. Toronto
3. Oxford

THREE THINGS THAT I CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT
Now this is super cheesy!
1. Believe in God & self
2. Hopes and Dreams
3. Peace of mind

THREE THINGS I AM PROUD OF
1. My identity
2. Ability not to give up
3. Fighter instinct

THREE THINGS THAT I DO NOT LIKE ABOUT MYSELF
1. My figure
2. My nose
3. My height

THREE TV SHOWS THAT I WATCH
1. Sarabhai vs Sarabhai....love this show...
2. IT Crowd....cos of my husband, but like it too :)
3. Come Dine with Me...our fav show here in the UK

THREE PLACES I HAVE BEEN TO
1.Kalimpong
2.Quebec
3.Jaipur

THREE PLACES I WANT TO GO
1. Ireland & Scotland & Italy & Belgium & the Netherlands & France
2. Morocco & Turkey & Egypt & Mongolia & Tibet & Vietnam &.....
3. All of India
To make matters easy, can I just say the whole world and then some???

THREE FAVOURITE MUSIC GENRE
1. Rabindrasangeet
2. World folk
3. Country

THREE THINGS I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO
1. Finding my way back into the groove of things
2. Friends
3. Love lasting ever after

THREE FAVOURITE DRINKS:
1. Green tea
2. Cold water
3. Recently getting into coffee, black and strong...

THREE FAVOURITE DESERTS
1. Cheesecakes
2. Moong Dal Ka Halwa
3. Kaju Barfi


THREE OF MY FAVORITE CUISINE
1. Dimma ar Ma ar haat er ranna (food cooked by my mom and grandma)
2. Vietnamese
3. Biriyani (complete cuisine in itself)

THREE MUST HAVES IN MY PURSE/BAG:
1. Money
2. Cell phone
3. Oyster Card
Pretty boring? I know....;)

THREE FAVOURTIES FROM MY WARDROBE:
1. My saris...
2. All things black...
3. My new brown sweater...

THREE FAVOURITE ACCESSORIES
1. Silver jeweleries spl ear rings, now and ever after....
2. Red boots
3. My scarves...

THREE MAKE UP ESSENTIALS
1. Kohl for the eye
2. Lip gloss/lip stick
3. Oli of Olay moisturizing lotion...

THREE BEAUTY/MAKE UP TIPS
Ghosh whoever thought a day will come when I will give beauty tips!!!!!
1. Wash your hair with beer/cider to make it shine
2. Clean your face after coming back from outside
3. Use organic beauty products...

THREE TIPS TO RELAX
1. Long bubble bath with scented candles...
2.Curl up with good book with a packet of crisps...
3. Evening with friends, laughing over inane stuff....

THREE INDULGENCES
1. Chocolates
2. Perfumes
3. Flowers
I could write about 300 of these :)

THREE ESSENTIALS IN MY GROCERY LIST
1. Meat
2. Yogurt
3. Fruits

THREE GOOD HABITS I AM TRYING TO PICK UP
1. Eat only organic food (have converted to the veggies and fruits, got to switch the other stuff as well...problem is budget shoots up)
2. 5 a day of fruits and veggie helpings....
3. Use  plastic as less as possible (in modern living this is almost impossible, but can be done with bit of thought and planning)

THREE LONG TERM PLANS
1. Live an organic, plastic free, chemical free life
2. Work at the grassroots with vulnerable groups
3. Be more creative

THREE HOBBIES
1. Reading (my salvation)
2. Cooking
3. Exploring and experimenting


THREE FAVOURITE FESTIVALS
1. Holi
2. Bhaiphota
3. Saraswati pujo

THREE THINGS I AM GOOD AT
1. Organizing, planning and executing with what my husband says surgical precision
2. Understanding and empathizing
3. Dreaming

THREE THINGS THAT CHEER ME UP
1. Gifts
2. Friends
3. Family

THREE INTERESTING THINGS THAT I DID RECENTLY:
1. Explored a bit more of London
2. Had great dinner on Friday, good food in nice ambiance and loads of laughter...
3. Made lamb roast with Indian masalas (came out really well)

 PEOPLE WHO EMAIL ME REGULARLY:
1. Angira
2. Soumitro
3. Srimanta dada

PEOPLE WHO CALL ME REGULARLY:
1. Chordi & Rima
2. Dupu (used to...till he got busy or....)
3. My parents

Friday 5 November 2010

Kali Pujo and Diwali Greetings...

It must be early evening in India now. It is Kali Pujo in Kolkata today and in North India choti diwali. If you want to know more about these festivals, check out here. Houses would be decorated with diyas and candles, the enthusiastic must have started with the fire crackers. Early evening  is the time of the kids and the crackers are mostly kiddish like phool jhuri.  As the evening progresses adults emerge with their stock of rockets and tubris. Some over enthusiastic people even make their own crackers.The sound of crackers become deafening and the air is thick with acid smell. Sometimes a tubri goes upto three stories, people would rush to their windows to watch the spectacle, the rockets would up in the sky and create their own magic.

The homes look bright and beautiful with all those fairy lights and the aromas of rich food waft around, Bengali households are also stocking up for Bhaiphota/Bhai Duj just two days away, so malpoas and narkol narus (home made sweets) are being prepared in earnest.  The kids are usually super excited because of the crackers, also they get to wear last of the new pujo clothes, carefully preserved for this last day of festivities. The elders are watching the kali pujo porikroma  (visiting the various pandals) on television, while some of the pious Bengalis fast till midnight for the kali pujo, while some other worship laskmi and ganesh for prosperity. The pujo pandals are all lighted up, each competing with the other to make their kali protima look as grotesque and fearsome as possible.  After a hectic day of business, the markets close down, the shopkeepers leave discussing how good the business was compared to last year.

For the non Bengalis this day is a runner up for diwali, so it is equally exciting.

Here is wishing you a great kali pujo and diwali.
In the words of my friend Anu  "As much as we enjoy the fireworks, let's also keep in mind the child labour, environmental damage, petrified animals and the amount of money that is blown up into smoke in the process. Let us celebrate Diwali in it's true essence and put away our insensitivities, and teach our children the real meaning of this festival of lights. Happy Diwali."  


My sentiments exactly, could not agree more with her, nor could I put it in better words. Have a safe and happy celebration!

Thursday 4 November 2010

3 girly stereotypes...

Was speaking to a young cousin of mine in her late teenage. To my surprise the cliches which were prevalent during my teenage are still there and the girls are still falling for those. Some of the cliches that I found  very prevalent are listen below.

If you are a girl, these are some of the things or behavioral patter that society/media/peer/boy friends expect you to like and follow...but if you think about it, they are pretty clichéd and just another stereotyping excecise. Ultimately limiting a girl and taking away her individuality.


  • Pink has to be your favorite colour...says who? Oh well if you are a girl, the idea is that pink has to be your favorite colour-- baby pink, hot pink, fuschia ...it is so tiring to see girls dressed in pink (right from the really young ones to the teenage girls), shoes and accessories too, decorate their rooms in shades of pink, even have pink birthday cakes and pink cocktails. This colour has become synonymous with all things girly and is used to portray girly traits like innocence and sweetness. But in the process it has become so boringly clichéd.  Come on girls it is time to move beyond pink and explore other colors-- the blues, the greens, the russets, the maroons, the reds, the yellows...there is a whole vibgiyor  waiting for you....


  • A man has to propose-- to my dismay many of my ultra modern girl friends are also waiting for the men in their lives to propose marriage to them. These women otherwise so very confident and smart, seem to turn completely traditional when it comes to proposing.  Come on women be pro active, take the bull by the horns and just pop the question. Been there, done that and as a result can gloat over it for a lifetime. There is lots to gain, believe me. As for the young girls, stop dreaming about the knight in shinning armour coming to sweep you off your feet. Yes I am saying this even after reading all those M&Bs for the last 15 years. In real life, it just does not happen that way. For starters you fall for guys your age, who are just as clumsy and inexperienced as you and they have not been given given any reference books on how to please girls. So stop expecting all things romantic and make a team effort of create romantic times with your boy friend. 
I am sure there are many others. This is just my reaction after speaking to her. If you have some in mind, please do share.

Disclaimer: The photos are all taken from Google images.

Wednesday 3 November 2010

Able & Cole organic veggies and fruits...

One of the main problems of super market shopping is the not so tasty veggies they sell. Ever since coming to the UK, I was feeling really fed up with the tepid veggies. Once or twice in Oxford we visited the farmer's markets...we loved exploring the markets and then picking up the fresh veggies. Also we did that from the Covered Market veggie stalls. They so reminded me of the veggie stalls in the markets back home. But somehow that did not become a habit and we mostly sourced our veggies and fruits from the super markets.
When we moved to London I was determined to break this habit. And just when I was wondering what to do, Able & Cole's leaflet came through the door. It seemed just like the thing we wanted...organic, chemical free, fresh and produced locally. We started ordering.
I must say its been a really long time since I tasted such lovely veggies. We get the deliveries on Tuesdays...I love opening the boxes and finding out what is there each week. Thanks to Abel & Cole, we have tried lots of new veggies. Normally if we are shopping in the super market or any other market for that matter, we hardly ever pick up strange veggies. But this box has loads of those. To simplify matters, their website has recipes or if you want to be more adventurous try other recipes. I have been using a lot of Jamie Oliver recipes and they have all come out lovely. So my cooking horizon has also expanded and I have learnt to cook veggies like celeriac, zucchini, red cabbage and lots more new ones.
Another important thing is our eating out has reduced a lot. When you have a fridge full of veggies, you hardly feel like wasting those and eating out.  So eating out has become twice a week, which is pretty healthy I think.
Right now we are taking the medium veg and fruit box, but they give so much stuff in this box, that our fridge is literally swimming with veggies. I cannot keep up cooking or eating them up. I am thinking of reducing the box size and see if the small box is better for us.

Monday 1 November 2010

November to November

How time flies...I was going though some old posts of mine and stumbled across this silly poem written last November. We had just come to the UK, was in the processing of acclimatisation. Needless to say for me it took longer, coming from the land of sunshine and warm breezes. For my husband it was just a shift from one cold place to another.

Last year around this time in Oxford the weather had become really bleak and from our window it looked like we lived in the end of the world and the doors of doom are about to open and the devil would come galloping out.

This November in the middle of London, the idea of doom is less prevalent, though the weather is as grey and chilly as last year.

Another Halloween gone, this time a bunch of kids came knocking. We did not have any candies, had to make do with some Kit Kats.

In search of perfection: Experimenting with Biriyani yet again...

If you have grown up eating  biriyani (rice flavoured with spices, slow cooked in meat juices with potatoes and eggs) served in the various Mughlai eateries of Kolkata, no other biriyani can ever satisfy you. Ah that look, that smell, that taste, that flavour...be it the popular eateries like Shiraj, Ameenia, Bedwin, Ar Salan or the upscale caterers like Bijoli Grill, Anada, Bhoj...chefs in Kolkata know how to make their biriyani.

For two lost souls craving for Kolkata biriyani and deprived of home (as in Kolkata) food for over a year there are two options open--either try out the Indian restaurants here or try cooking it at home.

Trying out the Indian restaurants so far has been laced with disappointment. The biriyani they serve either has tomatoes (yuck, do not get me wrong, I love tomatoes, but not in my biriyani please) in them or just does not have the right flavour or is too bland or too greasy etc etc etc.

Now for the second option...we tried out the old recipes but they are way too time consuming and labour intensive. So we kept searching for the perfect tasting, yet easy to make biriyani recipie. I think the following recipe is pretty near to what we are searching for. Could try it out and let me know how it goes for you. Best of all, it is no fuss, well almost.

Ingredients:

Boneless lamb: 1 kg
4 big potatoes
4 eggs
8 big onions
2 cups of rice
1/2 cup of yogurt
1 cup of chicken stalk or 2 stalk cubes (optional, if liquid stalk is added amount of water has to be reduced proportionately, under all circumstances 2 cups of water for 2 cups of rice should be added)
2 cups of warm water
Whole garam masala and a bay leaf
4 table spoons of biriyani masala ( I use the Everest Biriyani Masala)
4 table spoons of ginger garlic paste
2 table spoons of cooking oil
2 table spoon of ghee
A pinch of haldi
Kitchen foil
4/5 strands of saffron soaked in milk or yogurt (if not using the saffron, please increase the amount of haldi)
2 tea spoons of rose water (optional)
Salt according to taste

 Preparation:
The day before wash the lamb very well and cut into medium pieces. Once all the water is drained away, marinate the lamb with half a cup of yogurt, 2 table spoons of ginger garlic paste and 2 table spoons of biriyani masala. Refrigerate the meat.

On the day of cooking make four pieces of the each potatoe and boil them (take care not to make them too soft) and drain all the water away. Also boil the eggs. Wash the rice throughly until the water runs transparent and soak the rice in water for 3 to 4 hours. Slice the onions very thinly. Take out the meat from the fridge and drain away the extra water. Pre heat the oven.

Take a oven proof big rice cooker type pan with a lid. Heat the oil and the ghee. Deep fry the potatoes with a pinch of salt followed by the eggs. Drain the excess oil with paper napkins and set this aside. Put the whole garam masala and bay leaf and once they brown add the onions and fry them till golden brown. Once the onions are done, add the ginger garlic paste, 2 spoons of biriyani masala, a pinch of haldi. Once the masala looks done (the oil with separate from the masala), add the lamb with the marinade. Cook the lamb for half an hour, once the lamb looks well fried, add the  warm water/ stalk etc. Bring it to a boil, add the rice, draining the water, stir and mix it well. Add the fried potatoes and eggs, add salt to taste. Stir again to mix this well. Turn off the heat, add the saffron and seal the pan with double layer of kitchen foil, put the lid on top and put the pan in the over. Cook for 40 mins at 165 degree centigrade. If the pan has plastic handles, cover those with foil to make them oven proof.

After 40 mins bring out the pan from the oven, let it rest for 10 mins before opening the lid. If you want that extra sweet smell that wafts from Kolkata biriyani, add two spoons of rose water before serving. It is the nearest we have been able to make, only the mixture of white and yellow rice does not come this way.