8

Never too old to miss mummy…

When I am bored at work, I start looking at recipe videos to take a break from my mundane simulations. There is something about watching cooking videos that gives me a lot of comfort. I feel like I am almost eating that and it also inspires me to cook up a meal as and when time permits. I really enjoy planning on what to cook that evening and the weekends and that is why pre-prepping for meals does not work for me.

When we were 20-21 year old, fresh of the boat, grad students, most of us had never stepped into the kitchen before. I had a couple of roommates who were already adept at cooking, but for some of us, it was an absolutely new ball game. The only things that I knew how to make were some fancy things that I would look up and make at home. I had zero idea about the basic curries and rotis. In the couple of months that I had between my final exams and leaving home for good(cue: fresh set of tears), my mum tried to teach me some recipes. I picked up the basic steps then, but even then, cooking largely remained a challenge for me. She tried hard, hiding her own emotional state about my imminent departure, and put her soul into prepping me for my journey ahead. She even made a little diary with recipe notes for me.

One of my biggest support during my endeavor to overcome that challenge was and is, a Marathi(my mother tongue) cookbook gifted by my mum’s best friend. ‘Ruchira’ remains a cult favorite and every so often, I bring it down from the shelf, specially during Diwali and other festivals. The other big supporter was obviously, Youtube. I can’t describe my obsession to look up all the recipes and jump from channel to channel, taking mental notes. Some of the channels that were my favorite were Veg Recipes of India, Madhura’s recipes for Mahrashtrian food, Sanjeev Kapoor for popular recipes, and one quaint channel called Nisha Madhulika. I used to follow her videos for traditional recipes because she actually used very classic, typical cooking methods and they worked for me. These channels took me over the mountain, and slowly, I really started enjoying cooking. I am not a Master Chef, but people appreciate what I make. I have also started enjoying potlucks and spending time thinking, prepping, and cooking for 10-12 people. I have hosted dinners for my non-Indian friends and cooked fun things for my Indian friend’ parties. Turns out, that my mom has also discovered youtube now and follows Nisha Madhulika and Madhura’s channels.

On a whim today, I looked up a video to make something that mum makes. The first video that I saw was Nisha Madhulika’s. Nisha auntie, I feel like fondly calling her now, went over the recipe step by step. If anyone has seen her videos, she has a peculiar, slow mannerism where she explains each step and teaches with a certain softness in her. By the time that video was done, I was a ball of tears and snot. I am not totally sure why, but I felt this gush of emotions towards her. And my mummy.

Related image

The way Nisha auntie was explaining the recipe, was like a mother taking pains to teach her child how to cook. She explained what ingredients to use, any substitutions, the right way of adding them, and so on. I have seen countless videos by now, and no one has the mannerisms of this lady. It feels like she has put her emotions and passion into it. I started thinking of my mum, who taught me in the same way, and even now will answer my doubts when I FaceTime her while cooking. My mom isn’t actually that detail oriented so she will forget about some or the other thing and then I have to question her again! But nevertheless, I can tell that my mum loves the fact that I take pleasure in cooking now. In her new videos, I felt this jolt of realization that she even looks like my mummy! Her hair pulled back into a ponytail, her kurtas with long sleeves, and the way her face lights up when a recipe is done, is so much like my mama! Obviously this did not help my emotional state. My mum taught me a lot, and is still teaching me. But most importantly, she is teaching me to enjoy the process, and put love and care into it. I know she wants me to do more and so do I. I feel there should be someone to keep taking the small traditions ahead. The small rituals that make up Diwali, Holi, etc, also make our lives sweeter.

Image result for nisha madhulika

It’s surreal how memories of home can rush back all at once, when you are least expecting it. I never thought that watching a cooking video will take me back into my home kitchen and refresh my senses with all the wondrous aromas. I was not prepared to have goosebumps watching someone like my mom talk, and then remembering my mom standing in her petite self, by the kitchen counter. The images of her making fresh rotis, stirring the curry, insisting on all of us sitting down and serving piping hot food, are all dancing in front of my eyes now. The lady takes immense pride in whipping up delicacies for people she cares about and making sure that no one leaves with a dot of space in their tummies. She thinks her job isn’t well done, until you lick your fingers and are deep into food coma. Oh, how I miss her!

This is my unintended mommy appreciation post. Here’s to my mom, and all of ours, who moved mountains to turn us little monsters into what we are today. They taught us with love, patience, and a little whack here and there, to give us this life. These are important life skills, and they taught us to mix them up with TLC and pass it on. Mamas are really the best! Give them a squeezy hug today when you see them, even if virtually! ❤

My sweet mummy, even if I achieve a 10% of what you are capable of putting on our plate, and in our lives, I will consider it my biggest achievement.

Advertisements
6

A tragedy called ‘the college diet’.

My buddy at work is sick. He has something that I will not mention, but it is because of his terrible diet, complete lack of physical activities and him thinking that he is an invincible 24 year old. I have already given him earfuls about how he is ruining his health by giving him my own examples from my early days in USA.

Continuing with the nostalgia from my SDSU days, I had a trip laughing my glutes off about some of the weird habits I had developed in year 1. Obviously, I was away from home, and had to make all my decisions myself, that included lifestyle choices. Add to that the facts that I was supremely lazy, loved sleeping, and was practically jobless, broke, and had classes on alternate evenings at night. Things were okay in Lonavala, because the college mess/cafeteria was really good and provided healthy food. I had developed a very weird day cycle for myself. I would sleep at 3-4 am and wake up by 1-2 pm everyday. This continued for a while till I got a Grader position finally. I bucked up and started going to school at 10 am even if I had nothing to do there. I would simply sit in the library and work on my assignments or watch shows when I had nothing to do. There was this nice secluded booth that I preferred, where I could eat my lunch in peace.

Speaking of my lunch, it usually looked like cat food. I barely got a month to learn cooking before I moved away from home and my food of choice was Khichdi(rice-lentil stew). I would make as much as my pressure cooker would allow and put it in tupperwares and refrigerate it. Anyone who makes khichdi, knows that it is disgusting even after an hour, so please use your imagination to think what 2 day old khichdi could be like. Or dont.

I had totally failed to learn how to make roti/paratha(indian bread like tortilla) while at home, and I was left to my own devices. I had tried tortillas from the store and ready-to-make roti, but something about the preservative smell really grossed me out. It is not an easy task when making the dough, rolling it and cooking it is involved. So I would make around 10 paratha at once that would be enough for 3 meals, and freeze them. That had to be the worst idea ever because they would get insanely hard and crispy flatbread like when reheated. Abhi used to laugh at my parathas and still remembers the crumbly mess I would make while eating them. I gave up pretty soon, and switched to bread instead.

I was eating in the worst possible ways. I would eat milk poha for dinner(Abhi remembers that as well and never fails to make fun of me for that, rightly so). I would skip lunches and eat a giant meal of rice with a variation of lentil-potato curry made by whichever roommate’s turn that night was. I had forgotten about the concept of breakfast. I would sometimes simply have coldstone creamery’s strawberry cheesecake icecream for dinner.

All this lead to my amazing metabolism from my teenage years breaking down completely, and I had invariably packed on an extra 25 lbs. My face looked ridiculous, I got wayyyy curvier and I was huffing-puffing if I had to walk another 10 minutes or climb another flight of stairs. Finally, it hit me that I was no longer fit. That’s when I decided enough was enough. That, and vanity. I tossed out the terrible eating habits, started including breakfast and a snack in my diet, switched to green leafy salads for lunch and cut down my dinner portion to the right size. I still was overloading on carbs, so I started walking to school which was a good 2 mile away, and joined the SDSU gym. That’s where the health bug bit me. Things are okay now. I still over-indulge, but maintain some discipline during the week, and I work out. I am happy where I am with respect to health. *Touchwood*

It is hard. It is difficult when you are thrown into the unknown when you leave home to reach for your dreams. We have all lived such sheltered lives, that it is so easy to forget what is important. Everybody tells you to study hard, be successful, be good, but your own body gets forgotten. Assignments, jobs, commutes pile up, and health and fitness become secondary. Sleep becomes a nuisance and black coffee becomes our best friend.

So dear Mr. Chia, unless you want to be fed with a tube for the rest of your life, get your running shoes out, and stow away all your instant ramen packets. Get on it!

Auntie PB, signing off!

 

26

Glutton’s my middle name

I did a very strange thing on Saturday.
I made some egg curry for my dinner and thought of having it with some buttered brown bread instead of roti. So, I gathered my bread slices and the butter and started heating my pan. As I was about to dribble butter on the pan, I noticed a funny smell coming from the butter. I remember once I had melted it completely but stuck it back into the fridge, because we used to do that all the time with Amul butter and nothing happened to it ever. So I assumed this butter would be okay too. But the smell seemed really off. And then I noticed teeny tiny two spots on the top part of the tub. I stared at it for a bit hoping to figure out what they were. They could have been bread crumbs since I don’t really clean my knife between spreadings. Really, who does? So, I just scraped the dots off the tub and proceeded to spread butter on the hot pan. Even then, I felt like it smelt different, but I just couldn’t figure out if my butter had really gone bad or not. So, what does PB do? She continues to toast her bread like nothing is wrong! Haha! Seriously. I just somehow thought that we’ll see whatever happens. And I am just going to eat my dinner as planned. It tasted a li’l bit different, but by then I was so confused if it was all in my head or if it really was spoilt.

I finished my dinner, and waited for quite a bit for my tummy to hurt or something. Nothing happened. I woke up the next morning anticipating an upset stomach, but nothing! 😀 So now, I really don’t know if something was wrong with the butter or my head was playing tricks on me.

I do have this terrible habit of not caring for expiry dates. I just go with the assumption that best before date mans that the product will last for a few months after but just won’t taste as awesome as ‘best before’ date. 😛 Go figure.

This reminds me of an incident in college. Bff, the great, Ani, had gotten a jar of Haldiram’s rasgullas from home for all of us. We totally forgot about it during the week and I remembered about it on a Friday, a day before going home. I can still recall that I was sitting on a study table and Ani told me to open the jar and have some. I went ahead and I started eating them. Rasgullas are my absolute favorite, and I just cannot resist them. While I was on my 2nd one, I started to read the jar. And then, I noticed that the jar said that they had a best before date of about a month ago! I yelled out across the room to Ani that the rasgullas had expired. She was shocked and told me to throw it promptly. I stared at the jar for a bit, with my mouth full of the succulent sweetmeat, gulped it down, and proceeded to take another one! She saw me put another in my mouth, came running, snatched the jar from my hands and trashed it away. Oh my goodness, I felt so so so bad for the wasted rasgullas! My dear rasgullas. They were calling out to me, ‘we are not so bad, come eat us.’

Sigghhh. I can’t help being greedy. I think out of the seven sins, the one I am most guilt of is gluttony. Or lust. Or… No, it is gluttony, I think. I overeat everytime I eat out to the point of being unable to move. Buffet’s are my poison. I am like, ‘OMG! So much food’. I am known as the chocolate monster in the company. They say I have a chocolate radar. I can’t stop with one piece of cake or chocolate. I lurk around for a second helping. The xBF is also a major chocolates and cake eater. At his office, they did a monthly birthday celebration. He would wait and wait for the clock to strike 2, so they could gather for the cake cutting. He would stand closest to the cake cutter and would gladly take a big helping. Then he would eat there, talking to people with one eye on the remaining cake, and take another piece. Then he would go back after an hour to see if anything was remaining and he would take a third helping. Sometimes his co-workers would tell him that everyone is done and the cake is his. Haha. Whenever we have food at work like donuts, cakes or cookies, I do the same. *hangs head in shame*