Sunday 28 September 2008

Because You don't mess with the Zohan!!!


I still can't stop laughing!! This movie should ideally have been reviewed 5 minutes after I left the hall. For the sole reason that my opinion on the spot and in retrospect is strangely varied. One thing is common though - the movie is a complete laugh riot!

Zohan is a superhuman of sorts whom no one can beat in a fight....he also happens to be a casanova who thinks his purpose in life is to make women happy! And he does this in a manner that makes you still believe that he is innocent and pure! Unfortunately, he happens to be the answer to all prayers of the Israeli Army. All said and done, he manages to flee from his life to live his dream - to cut and style hair.

What follows is a hillarious narrative where he takes New York by storm. Adam Sandler was always funny but he almost outdoes himself! The thing is this - the movie is a riot but go alone or with your partner. Do NOT go with parents or little children as many in the audience realised. The movie should ideally have been given a 'A' rating but somehow it scraped through.

For a fun evening out with popcorn on the side, go watch this flick....be careful not to fall on the floor laughing....after all, You don't mess with the Zohan!!!

Rating: 3 on 5

Wednesday 24 September 2008

Dahi Chicken - at the cost of a burnt hand

After much cajoling and many a threats, dad finally agreed to come home for dinner last night. He's been bitten by a strange how-can-I-go-eat-so-often-in-my-daughter's-home type of bug. Which ofcourse is completely out of the blue and very uncharacteristic of him!!

Nevertheless, now that he did agree, it so happened that he and The Husband both had sore throats. And Indian food is a cuisine where the lack of spices is almost equal to lack of taste. So I took up the challenge (yet again), and decided to take matters into my own hands. The cook was asked to make the staples of daal (pulses), salad, rice etc. And yours truly decided to make Dahi Chicken.

In the process, I did manage to burn my hand (quite badly in my opinion) when the hot oil came splashing out of the wok....take my word for it - bay leaves may look very innocent but put them in hot oil and they can be as notorious as mustard seeds!

Nevertheless, the dish did come out quite well, if I do say so myself....considering that I made up the recipe myself.

Dahi Chicken
Serves 3

Ingredients:
Chicken (washed and cut into pieces) - 1/2 chicken (around 400 gms)
Onion (thinly sliced) - 1 (large)
Garlic paste - 1 tsp
Ginger paste - 1 tsp
Bay leaves - 2
Oil - 1tbsp
Salt - To taste
Coriander Pwd - 1/2 tsp
Cumin Pwd - 1/2 tsp
Chilli Pwd - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric Pwd - 1/2 tsp

For the marinade:
Curd - 3/4 cup
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Chilli Pwd - 1/3 tsp
Coriander Pwd - 1/2 tsp
Garlic paste - 1/2 tsp

Method:
1)Mix all ingredients of the marinade and coat the chicken pieces with the same. Keep aside in the fridge
2)Heat a wok with the oil. Put in the bay leaf and after around 20 seconds, add the onion. Fry till limp.
3)Add ginger-garlic paste and cook till light brown
4)Add the pieces of chicken. Do not add the curd marinade (put that on the side for the time being). Add salt and the spices. Cook on low heat for 10-15 mins till chicken looks cooked and its water starts drying up.
5)Add curd marinade and 1/4 cup water. Mix, cover and cook on very low heat for 15 minutes. Do not worry if the curd looks like its curdling. Its supposed to look this way.
6)Serve hot with rice or chapati.

Tuesday 23 September 2008

Chicken Stroganoff and Monday blues

It’s strange how I write most of my articles in my head. Much before I put it down on paper (or the keyboard thanks to technology), I have already finished writing it. Have done the layout and structure, decided the tone, and even written most of the text.

Cooking is a similar experience for me. Much before I reach home (on the few days I feel like cooking after work), on my drive back, I am already planning on what to make, what I will need, how I will make it etc. I can almost taste the dish even before I have started.

So driving back on Monday, I decided that I needed something to lift my mood, drive away the Monday blues. And besides writing and traveling, only cooking can help me do that. The dish I finally decided on was Chicken Stroganoff. And wow what a dish. The quantity that was meant to serve 4 was cleaned out by the 2 of us within 10 minutes. Don’t believe me? Try it out for yourself!

Chicken Stroganoff



Serves: 2 if you are foodies like we are. Else 3

Ingredients:
Boneless chicken 200 gms
Mushrooms 200 gms
Capsicum (cut into thin strips) 1 small
Onion (chopped finely) 1
Garlic (crushed) 4 cloves
Oil 2 tbsp
Flour 1 ½ tbsp
Cream ¾ cup
Tomato puree 2tbsp
Tomato ketchup 1tbsp
Salt, Pepper, Chilli Pwd To taste


Method:
1)Cut the boneless chicken into small pieces or strips. Marinate with salt, pepper and chilli powder for half hour
2)In a thick bottomed pan or pressure cooker, heat 1tbsp oil (can be substituted with butter for better taste but more calories). Fry onions till lightly brown.
3)Wash mushrooms thoroughly and cut each into 2. Add to the onions and sauté for a minute or 2.
4)Remove the onions and mushrooms from the dish and keep aside. Add 1tbsp oil to the dish and sauté the chicken on medium heat till browned from both sides
5)Add 1 ½ cups water. If cooking in a pressure cooker, give one whistle and cook on low heat for 2 minutes. If in a pan, cook on medium heat for 15 minutes.
6)Remove ½ cup stock from the pan and cool. Add flour and stir so that no lumps are formed.
7)In the pan with the chicken and remaining stock, add onions, mushroom, salt, pepper, chilli pwd, tomato puree, ketchup and garlic. Give one boil. Add flour mixture while stirring continuesly. Just before it is about to boil, take it off the heat.
8)Add cream. Stir. I usually substitute the cream with milk for a healthier option. Put it back on the fire. Cook on low heat for a minute and remove.
9)Serve hot with sticky rice or garlic bread. Can also be served on top of a bed of fettuccini or fusilli.

I have made my own version and recipe for sticky rice. Try it at your own risk.

For sticky rice, take the appropriate amount of rice in a pan and add water. Do not wash the rice or drain the water. For one cup of rice, add 1 ¾ cup water. Cover (but leave a corner exposed so that it doesn’t boil over) and cook on medium heat. When the water is almost dried up, add ½ cup milk, salt and oregano. Cook covered for a few minutes. Add more milk if needed. When the rice tastes cooked but is still al dente, remove from fire and serve.

Monday 22 September 2008

Bangalore Calling

The new and swanky Bangalore Airport was honoured with my presence last week. As I got off the Jet Airways flight (which surprisingly served an amazing chicken and cheese pizza inflight) and entered the arrival lounge of the new airport, I was a tad bit disappointed. Relatively large and airy though it was, the airport did not seem anything to talk home about. It took them all these years to build this, I thought to myself! I briskly walked out and located my cab. The facade outside was much nicer though with a well planned parking and pick-up area that reminded one of the Dubai airport.



The drive from there into town was another matter altogether. It is no secret that Bangalore has worse traffic than most cities in India. Add to that the fact that the airport is more than 40 Kms outside the city in the OTHER direction from the area with all the IT offices. It took me more than 7 hours after I left my home in Delhi to reach my regional office there!

On the way back, after a harrowing 2 hours drive, I entered the airport and checked in. The atrium was nice and large similar to the Mumbai domestic departure. Climbing up the stairs, I proceeded towards Security check. It was here that I discovered what the hype was all about. Built on the lines of an International Airport, it had a variety of shops to spend your time. A crossword (A chain of book stores) was the obvious priority given my love for books. A book heavier and several hundred rupees lighter, I proceeded to check out the stuff at Shoppers Stop - which had a full fledged store in there. There was also a shop that sold the regular airport gifts like Snickers, Mars, Nuts etc. A nicely laid out Barista (coffee shop like the Starbucks) and an Illi (American coffee shop) were all there for one to sit down and relax.

None of the cramped surroundings, no scrambling for seats. No buses to put you on the aircraft (they used the chutes like International Airlines). Walking into my flight, I bid adieu to Bangalore, to the memorable time I had there and to the latest addition in its cap - it's cool new airport!

Tuesday 16 September 2008

Kaffiiaa Reviewed

Now I know how proud one feels when your child does well...for me, my articles have that place as of now :)!! So when one of my favourite reviews gets published, it does make me happy...

Check out my latest review on rediff...it's about an Italian Restaurant in Noida called Kaffiiaa. One of my favourites these days, for their splendid food and unbeatable prices.

You can find the article here


The decor


Outdoor Seating

Sunday 14 September 2008

Delhi attacked...shaken but not stirred.

The inevitable happened. The Capital (Delhi) was rocked by bomb blasts yesterday evening. It wasn't shocking as it was bound to happen keeping in line with the series of blasts happening these few months across the nation. So this post is not about the futility of such violence. It is not even about where I was when it happened and how I felt, because the people who want to know that already called and asked...

The post is about those people. A catastrophy like this acts like a distiller in one's life sometimes. You see clearly what you mean to people. People who'se lives would be affected drastically were you injured, called within 5 minutes of the blast. They didn't bother with sms, they picked up the phone to hear your voice and if you were ok. My list was quite predictable. Ras heard it on the news in the middle of Canada at what must have been breakfast time for her and went frantic. My best friends did not miss a beat either....

People who care about you in some way, messaged within the hour to check on your family's well being. Again predicatably, my friends in other cities wrote in to see if all was ok....

Not so predictable was the indifference of a few though.

As I said, those few hours acted as a distiller. The blasts themselves deserve another blog...perhaps in a couple of months when it has sunk in and the fear has gone though....

Thursday 11 September 2008

To write or not to write - It ain't a question no more..

A few minutes back, a friend introduced me to a treasure....the works of Henry Charles Bukowski. A poet that I had not heard of, but a man after my own heart. Below is a poem of his that seems as if it came straight from my head:

So You Want To Be A Writer

If it doesn't come bursting out of you in spite of everything, don't do it.
Unless it comes unasked out of your heart and your mind and your mouth and your gut,
don't do it.
If you have to sit for hours staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your typewriter searching for words,
don't do it.
If you're doing it for money or fame,
don't do it.
If you're doing it because you want women in your bed,
don't do it.
If you have to sit there and rewrite it again and again,
don't do it.
If it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
don't do it.
If you're trying to write like somebody else,
forget about it.
If you have to wait for it to roar out of you,
then wait patiently.
If it never does roar out of you, do something else.

If you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you're not ready.

Don’t be like so many writers,
don't be like so many thousands of people who call themselves writers,
don't be dull and boring and pretentious, don't be consumed with self- love.
The libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to sleep over your kind.
Don’t add to that.
Don’t do it.
Unless it comes out of your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would drive you to madness or suicide or murder,
don't do it.
Unless the sun inside you is burning your gut,
don't do it.

When it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

There is no other way.

And there never was.

------------------------------------------

And if there ever was any doubt in my head, I now know for sure that I was born to write. Because anything that happens in my life, the first thing that comes to my head is - "How will I write about this, what tone will I take...". Its like the words are dying to come out...

The Husband sometimes kids (or maybe not) that if I talked aloud whatever I write, I would be a very talkative person...more social as well....words on a paper (or now a keyboard thanks to modern science) express more than I will ever say out loud. Now I know its not strange, it just makes me who I am...

Tuesday 9 September 2008

On a busy Monday evening...

I was driving home yesterday after work. As much as I love to drive, the stretch of 18 Kms. choco-block with traffic is not my idea of fun. While driving, I got a call from a colleague about a website that had not been updated with our information. I opened my laptop on the passenger's seat and connected to the internet while driving. Everytime the traffic would slow down, I would type 5 words on the keyboard. I would go slow on red lights so that I would have the time to reload the page.

After around 40 odd minutes of driving when I finally sent the email that I was working on, still driving home, I suddenly had a strange experience. It was as if I saw myself as a third person would see me. On the wheel of my car, trying to focus on the road at the same time as stealing moments to work on the laptop. And it hit me. It hit me how completely ridiculous I was being. How could I let myself get so involved in something that I would risk my own wellbeing. Leave alone the danger factor in what I was doing. The point is that it was so completely irrelevant in the larger scheme of life. And I was becoming a slave to the system.

Needless to say, the laptop was forced shut that very instant. The next 20 minutes were spent singing loudly along the soundtrack of 'Rock On'. And that is the story of how I yet again saved myself from becoming the exact person I loathe.

Sunday 7 September 2008

A Wednesday - watch it NOW....

Bollywood amazes me often these days. We are not churning out dated scripts with the same formula anymore. Rather, the same subject is being treated differently. To be frank, when I heard that 'A Wednesday' was based losely on the Mumbai blasts, I sighed to myself. The subject has been done to death and yet another film playing on the emotional angle of the blasts did not excite me. Nevertheless, being a good sport, I agreed to go watch it.



The film not only surprised me, it made me sit up and say 'Wow'! The script itself is unique and I wouldnt want to spoil it for you by telling the story. So I wont. Let us instead discuss the cast. The movie is built on 2 pillars, one being the extremely talented Anupam Kher and the second equally if not more - Naseeruddin Shah. Anupam Kher is so brilliant in his role that you find yourself hanging on to every word of his. He's smart, sharp and composed....characteristics that make him believable in his role of Commissioner of Police - Mumbai.

Naseeruddin has time and again proven himself and he does it yet again...in a role where he has to play various characters at once, he does a job par excellence. The rest of the cast does a good job as well. Jimmy Shergill plays the angry young man in an interesting fashion. He's put on some weight and thankfully cut his hair...all in all, surprisingly he looks good as well.

The movie is fast and the plot races on. When you feel you've got it all figured out, it takes a complete U Turn and leaves you speechless. The script also questions right and wrong and confuses you on what emotion you should feel at the end. If you like cinema that makes a statement, go watch this film. It will make you sit up. If on the other hand, you watch movies only for entertainment and songs, give this one a skip, my friend.

Rating: 4 on 5

Wednesday 3 September 2008

Moment of Truth

With the recent influx of game shows, all of them tend to look alike after a point. American Idol merges into America’s Got Talent… ‘Are you smarter than a fifth grader’ is only a step away from ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’…So in the middle of all this cacophony, I stumbled upon a show called ‘Moment of Truth’ on Star World

The format is a question – answer show. The participants have to answer questions on their lives in front of their family. There is a polygraph that decides whether the person has spoken truthfully or not. The more questions you answer truthfully, the more money you make. Simple, isn’t it? Not so, my dear.

The questions range from a simple ‘Have you ever stolen money’ to more intimate questions. Take for example last week’s show. This sweet looking girl sat on the answering chair. Also present were her husband, her parents and her sister. Imagine her quandary when she is asked ‘Were you in love with someone else on your wedding night’. More than that, imagine her husband’s reaction when she replied ‘I have to say yes’. The follow up question was even better and as a surprise was asked by a guest – her ex-boyfriend. He asked her ‘Do you think I am the man you should be married to’. On national television, the girl replied ‘Yes’. As if this wasn’t enough in wrecking her marriage, the next question did the trick. When asked ‘Have you had any sexual relations with anyone other than your husband since you have been married’, any self respecting person would leave the show if the answer was affirmative. In the quest not to lose the money, she went ahead and said Yes.

Ofcourse she lost all the money on a simple question like ‘Do you think you are a good person’. But the point is that she was ready to risk her marriage and the stability of her life for the money.

And it makes great viewing. Our natural instinct to see someone squirm in their seats makes us all voyeurs. And makes the show a great hit!! Go check it out…