Thursday, December 13, 2007

Congee At Home - Warming Up Them Old Bones

I first had congee for breakfast in Singapore. Since then, I have had congee cravings, especially during cold, miserable days when the idea of a hot steaming bowl of starch seems especially satisfying. More than the congee, I think I like the accompaniments.

Yesterday, after work, all I wanted was a bowl of hot, steaming comforting congee. So, since, I am good at cheating, (and there was no way, I would wait for the 6 hours or whatever godawful amount of time it involved to make me a bowl of starchy rice) I devised a quick (1.5 hours max) method. I am sure food purists would frown and pout and look down on my methods but who cares? At the end, I had a bowl of very satisfying congee.

Without too much blathering, here's Cheater's Congee for you:


Short grained Rice - 1 cup (I used gobindobhog and it worked out fine)
Water - lots of it, about 7-8 cups
Chicken Stock Cube - 1 (Now, I hate using stock cubes, but I ran out of home made chicken stock)

Boiled Chicken cut into 1 cm pieces
chopped scallions (green onions)
Garlic minced - fried golden brown to a crisp in 1 tsp peanut oil and 1 tsp sesame oil
Ginger shredded finely
Coriander - cut fine
green chillies - sliced fine and soaked in a mixture of approx. 2 tbsps of fish sauce and 1 Tbsp vinegar


Heat the water up and dissolve the stock cube in the water, add the rice and pressure cook until the pressure cook whistles 6-7 times. Take it off heat and let the pressure go down. In a huge pan, boil about 2 glasses of water, and add the cooked rice to it and let it cook on a simmer for 25-30 minutes. That's it.

Take a bowl, add some chicken pieces, ladle some piping hot congee, top with scallions, garlic, ginger, coriander, chillies according to your taste and enjoy! This is guaranteed to warm you down to the tips of your toes.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Mushroom Cutlets

At the end of a 1.5 hour video conference, my colleague mentioned they had some amazing chicken cutlets for lunch (food is very important at my workplace, hehehehe...) and since then, I had my mind set on having cutlets for dinner. I just couldn't get cutlets out of my head. So, I went home and checked the refridgerator for cutlet amenable ingredients. I found a large bag of oyster mushrooms, and my usual stock of carrots, beans, peas. So, I made my maid chop ginger, green chillies, coriander post haste and boil and mash potatoes. A quick mix of the ingredients, seasonings, a dip in egg, a roll in bread crumbs, a flash in the pan and voila! I had my mushroom cutlets. I was in cutlet heaven! Anyway, here's my recipe:


200 gms of oyster mushrooms - diced and boiled (but not mushy)
2 cups of a mixture of carrots, beans, peas, cauliflower and corn - diced and boiled (but not mushy)
5 small-medium potatoes boiled and mashed
a handful of coriander - cut very fine
3 green chillies - sliced very fine
1/2 inch ginger - minced very very fine
2 eggs
salt to taste
mustard - 2 teaspoons
a little lime juice
cornflour - 3 teaspoons
1 slice of white sandwich bread
Breadcrumbs for the final roll
Skillet/ Tava/ Non Stick pan
Oil to pan fry cutlets


Keep one egg aside and the breadcrumbs.
Mix all the rest of the ingredients really well so that the veggies are slightly mashed and form a uniform dough with the mashed potatoes. Beat other egg in a plate, not too much though, season with a little salt. Keep breadcrumbs ready on other plate, ready for the roll. Form cutlets of the mashed veggies and potatoes. Heat the skillet/ tava until hot, add oil and ensure that the skillet is coated well (with oil). Lower to medium heat. Take the cutlets, dip and coat in egg mixture then coat it well with breadcrumbs and add to the skillet. cook, fry on medium heat on both sides until golden brown or done, drain on kitchen towels and serve with salsa, ketchup or mustard kasundi.

This made 9 large cutlets, out of which yours truly ate 4 for dinner, my maid ate 2, and I am preserving the other 3 for lunch tomorrow.

Sorry about the lack of photos. We ate them up and I packed them before I thought I would post about them.

I am also sorry that my recipes don't mention exact ingredients because I cook by estimation and I really don't know how to cook by weight or by following a set recipe. However, these cutlets really are yummy and I'm already looking forward to lunch tomorrow.


Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Difference Between Delhi and Calcutta

Over Dinner, FnF and I were talking about how terrible it is that women in India have to face so much unpleasantness in daily life, viz a viz. sexual harassment. Both of us stopped going for morning walks just because the everyday nuisance of having men brush past, ogle, pass lewd comments and just try to bully you into submission is not encouraging at all. I have nearly slapped many men or threatened to do so and abused them severely. I don't wish to do this when I'm on a walk supposedly for relaxation, however I don't want to be raped or to be brushed against or bullied in any manner. Then we compared cities and since she actually stayed in Delhi while I merely studied there and was on campus all the time, I think she would be a better judge. She said that in Delhi, the harassment is merely sexual in nature, but in Calcutta there is a belligerence and frustation.

I have never thought about this. I would like to know if there are any women from Delhi who read this and who agree with this. Also, women from Calcutta. Do you also feel the frustation and belligerence of men in Kolkata?

I am very upset about how India treats its women. Why is everyday life made so unpleasant? Why can't we punish eve-teasing and sexual harassment with castration? I am sure that would deter people. If I was a man, that would deter me. What do Indian men feel about this?

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Epiphany - Cuts of meat

I make a pretty neat thai curry both green and red and occasionally I even make the pastes at home. Even though my curries are lip smacking, I was never satisfied with the meeting of the meats and the curries. I was having dinner at the newly reopened zen when I had an epiphany. My meat cuts were not right! I was simply chopping up my chicken or mutton into bite sized pieces. This was wrong. I needed to have flattish slices.

Today, I made a chicken green curry and it was near perfect. I sliced the chicken into thinish flat pieces and my curry has finally achieved the rightness. Sadly, I did not take pictures but next time, I shall.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Gimme Gimme Gimme

Cadbury's drinking chocolate powder in a tin. This is what I drink when I have hit rock bottom. This is what my mother would make on rainy days, when I was PMSy because milk is my crack. Seriously. What I love about it is the entire process. I've got my mom's steel pans, the same one she used for close to 30 years and I still use those to warm my milk. Then I pour it into my black ceramic mug, heap three heaped spoons of drinking chocolate, stir it into my milk and feel right at home. I think the day Cadbury does away with the tins for drinking chocolate, I shall stop my habit.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Why I Should Be Awarded The Highest Civilian Award In India

1. I never file my tax returns on time, because I HATE doing taxes. I would rather take another functional analysis test if given a choice. Thats how much I hate it. My accountant sighs long and hard because he now knows I am a lost cause. However, I still feel I am a model citizen because I end up paying the GOI hefty penalties, so I contribute largely to an increase in the collection. I'm never later than a year though and I really feel nice that my hard earned money will be supporting business class tickets of totally useless ministers, or towards gun toting security commandos for barely educated members of parliament.

2. Despite the fact that everytime I want to go for a walk and I don't because the experience is so disgusting (dirty roads, high pollution, eve teasers, hecklers, Indian men, yuck, yuck, double yuck), I don't run down India in front of people who are instrumental in getting businesses and investment into India.

3. I don't vote any imbecile into parliament because I CAN'T vote because I apparently do not exist as far as electoral rolls go, despite the fact that I have a PAN card, I have a passport, I am on municipal records because I have purchased property and despite the fact that I want to and am trying to make this city home.