Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Chicken Dumpling Soup

I love dumplings and have discovered they are fairly easy to make. Very easy in fact, if you have been cooking and know your way around a kitchen. This chicken dumpling soup is hearty and very satisfying AND easy to make. I normally make a big batch of dumplings enough for 3-4 dinners. These keep well in fridge for about a week. Sorry about the quality of pics. I cook at night ALWAYS and mostly am too tired to plan my pics. So, the pics here are meant to give one a general idea. Anyway, this is the recipe.
For the dumplings - Ground chicken 500 gms, celery 2 stalks chopped fine (optional - I love chicken and celery, so I use it), coriander about 2 tablespoonfuls chopped v fine, 2 green chillies chopped fine, 2 spring onions chopped v fine, 1 red onion chopped very fine, ginger minced - about 1 heaped teaspoon, salt to taste, fresh ground pepper, 2 eggs, corn flour
For the soup - basic chicken stock - about 1.5 litres/ 2 litres
Combine the dumpling ingredients and add enough cornflour to make a mixture that looks like this.
Heat the stock to a boil, then turn DOWN the heat and drop tablespoonfuls of the dumpling batter into the boiling stock GENTLY. I used my hands because thats how I cook. Keep adjusting the heat and when the dumplings rise to the surface, they are done. This takes about 5-15 minutes depending on the size of your dumplings.
Drain and take out the dumplings and keep making batches until your batter is finished. The dumpling look like this.
Since, I am greedy, I ate some just like that. But, if you have more self control, wait until all dumplings are done, then turn up heat of the stock until it boild furiously, tilt all the dumplings gently into it, let them bubble away merrily for 2-3 minutes and then ladle out and eat.
The above picture does not do justice to the wonder of this soup, but it is restorative and very tasty.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Afternoons and Coffeespoons

Afternoons encourage the exchange of confidences. Based on wholly true incidents - WHEN ONE JUST DOES NOT WANT TO BUMP INTO AN EX-BOYFRIEND:
1. On meeting your daughter's in-laws at her wedding, your longtime ago ex from school turns out to be your son-in-law's piano teacher. You think, "God! WTF did I see in this loser?"
2. You wait for an hour at the gynaecologist, only to come face to face with an ex, who grins and says, "So, are we ready to be examined yet?"
3. At an interview you are taking, for personal assistants.
4. While watching the latest action flick, the idiots sitting in the front row keep necking. Lights go on and it is an ex with some 16 year old.
Just for the record, none of the above happened to me.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

How To Say "No"

  1. Just say "No", I really do not care you killed a fake uncle or how tired your poor, hardworking husband gets after returning from ummm... whatever.
  2. If you have a story, stick to it. It can either be a dead fake uncle OR tired hardworking husband. Not both. One story per excuse is credible. Now, if you add a mumps ridden kid to it too, do you want me to write you a cheque too?
  3. If it is an excuse used often, remember what you used last time.
  4. Try to make it short, because rambling on and on makes your feeble lie even more feebler. Plus, just a "No" is enough. Most people dont really care about your reasons.
  5. If "illness" is your standard excuse, I'm not setting a foot into your house ever, because who really wants a slew of infections? Ewwwwww.....
  6. Most importantly, be gracious. Image is everything and you really don't want the reason why you were asked in the first place, flushed down the toilet, do ya?

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Around The World In 80 Blogs - Calcutta, India

I made a commitment to everyday stranger and being the primary cardholder of the better late than never party, here I go...

I also have to admit that lately work and my other commitments have kept me very occupied and I forgot to take pictures, so good people forgive the pictures I stole from the Internet and I fully promise to post my own very soon. Anyway, this is where I stay now and it now feels like home.

I live in Calcutta and I have a love-hate relationship with Calcutta. Also, for those of you who don't know, Calcutta was renamed Kolkata but to me Calcutta it is and Calcutta it will be. For those who want to know more about this distant city, you may click HERE. However, in this post I shall simply mention what I love about Calcutta and what has, despite most annoyances made me stay here.

I moved to Calcutta after being stood up at the altar and after a decade, I can look back and really laugh at that. In part, Calcutta has healed me, restored my faith in goodness, enabled me to laugh from the bottom of my tummy and this is where I met the loves of my life - yes loves - sweetheart, passions and my missions in life. Sounds dramatic, but thats me - surprisingly melodramatic, which may be attributed to this very, very melodramatic city.

There are many, many places to visit in Calcutta and things to see, and when one visits Calcutta, one should know that this Indian city takes art and culture very seriously. When I moved to Calcutta first, I checked out all the touristy spots - the many (dilapidated) churches and the even more interesting cemeteries, the markets, the temples (though Kalighat put me off temples for life), the botanical garden and the bridges. Over the years, I have few favourites that I visit over and over again.

This is St. Paul's Cathedral, located in the middle of Birla planetium and the Academy of Fine Arts. This is where I go sometimes to feel calm and midnight mass at Christmas is traditionally Anglo Indian and very very interesting to me. I go to the Academy of Fine Arts that is located right beside St. Paul's practically every week and it is always very pleasant to look at the peace and calm of the Cathedral during the drive. The Academy of Fine Arts lets out its galleries to artists or whoever wishes to exhibit anything! It is always an interesting visit, as one can bump into famous artists, Calcutta Culture Vultures and a lot of people with intellectual/ arty leanings. Sometimes, one also comes across very talented lesser known artists and it gives me a lot of pleasure to discover and encourage them. So, this is the general vicinity in which I spend most of my Saturday evenings.
After checking out the Academy, more often than not, I like to go to Oxford Bookstore on Park Street, which used to be one of the swisher shopping addresses. Right now, it has dropped in popularity because of the millions of malls that are being built around the city, but Park Street has a charm and air that is truly unique to Calcutta. Oxford Bookstore, I think is well over 85 years old and a great place to browse. Nobody disturbs you, you can read full books without salespeople shooing you, has a great Tea Shop where you can settle down and read a book and sip hot or cold tea for HOURS at an end. You may also come across an old Gentleman in a tie (ALWAYS) pottering about. That, is a dear friend of mine - Mr. Motwani, who I feel has worked at Oxford for ever and if he likes you is most helpful. This behaviour, long forgotten is what contributes to the charm of Calcutta. A visit to Calcutta is incomplete without dropping in at Oxford and Flurys a tearoom, which is another Calcutta fixture. Now, I have LOTS of complaints about Flurys, even though I get excellent service because, well, I eat out a LOT. Foodwise, there is nothing outstanding about Flurys, but the atmosphere is charming and it is the best place to people watch.
Again, for most regular readers of my blog (Ok, who am I kidding - nobody, sigh!), my annoyance with clubs in Calcutta is legendary. Calcutta society identifies itself by the clubs it belongs to. Said society being umm.... on the wrong side of fifty now, which is my hugest grouse, since I am still very much on the right side of 34! Most clubs in Calcutta - Calcutta Club, Tollygunge Club, Bengal Club, The Calcutta Cricket and Football Club (which is practically opposite where I live), the Saturday Club, The Royal Calcutta Turf Club, Royal Calcutta Golf Club, so on and so forth are mostly social clubs. Walking into them, one is transported into another world, and though I feel there is much that I dont like about polite Calcutta society clubwise, it is often interesting to indulge in gossip over a cocktail at whichever club you belong to. That said, MY the good people of Calcutta LOVE to talk! They even have a special word for conversing - "Adda". Adda at clubs over cocktails - that is also typical Calcutta for you. This is a picture of Saturday Club - a club I frequent sometimes and where I again indulge in people-watching! Another really interesting place that I have grown to like is the Calcutta Race Course. No, I don't gamble, but winter afternoons spent at the Race Course, particularly on Derby days is very pleasant. Soft winter sun, beautiful thoroughbreds, the pleasant grounds of the Royal Calcutta Turf Club, the Victoria Memorial gleaming in the far distance - interesting and fun occasionally.

Now, most of what I have described above is mostly South Calcutta. I live in South Calcutta and though I am sure there are many interesting places in North, East and West Calcutta, I dont know them well enough to talk about them. Hey, Calcutta is a HUGE 13 million people city afterall! Do you expect me to know everything?
I live close to the Birla Mandir(Temple). Well, what do I say? The picture below looks ok, but the temple itself is very artificial and kitschy. I dont like it at all, though it is a convenient landmark. What I like about the Birla Temple is the concert hall below the temple in the anterooms. The concert hall is used for classical music concerts, plays and the like. Very convenient for me and just a hop, skip and jump away from home!
Apart from Art/ Culture/ temples etc. food is the other passion in Calcutta. People in Calcutta live to eat. I could go on and on and on about food in Calcutta. One never can be ill-fed in Calcutta and if you are, well, you dont know me. Heh!
Sure, there are a LOT of annoyances in Calcutta. The local government, the poverty (an annoyance because one feels helpless in the face of local apathy), the grime, the lack of professionalism, the lack of young professionals my age and the lack of quality entertainment. However, Calcutta is still charming and very interesting. I like to think I am contributing positively and if one has the patience, one may even start loving this crazy city.

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Sugar Baby

If I had to eat just one kind of thing again and again and again, I would eat dimsum. Cheating, yeah, but yeah, dimsum.
So, in memory of dimsums that I dont remember where I ate...
The condiments...
Mushroom and chicken - Too, too good.
Prawn hargaos. Not bad, not bad at all.
This was actually the dessert, a sago and mango dessert. Words cannot describe the wonderfulness.

There is something to be said in that I tried to remember where I ate this meal but I still remember the flavors - Singapore? San Francisco? Seattle? Was it last year? Was it this year? What is wrong with me? Why cant I remember this? I think it was either San Francisco or Seattle. Still that dessert - Wow!

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Rudest People I Know

  • Chinese lawyers - not to be racist or anything, but chinese people can very successfully make you feel like furniture if there is white skin around.
  • American women lawyers - again not be racist or anything, but most American women lawyers are so entitled, the world exists only for them, the sun rises only to shine on their day and Apple made ipods, only to provide music to their ears, which is a blessing actually because this way atleast they don't talk to you.
  • American stewardesses - I'm sorry, I didnt know asking for water was a crime against humanity. Enough said.
  • NRIs - OHMYGOD! Most NRIs have the solutions to ALL of Indian problems and never stop talking about them whether you want to listen to them or not.

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Square Peg In a Round Hole

Growing up, my over-polite mother's greatest horror was that I and my siblings would have no "tameez" and the importance of minding our Ps and Qs was dinned into us like nothing else. Mother shouldn't have worried. In a world rapidly forgetting "tameez"/ manners, I'm a fish out of water. I RSVP like nobody's business. I am polite mostly, not a pushover mind you, but very, very polite. I am always punctual - unless millions of people decide to get married on the same day and inconveniencing those who do not by driving in droves to shaadi-baaris (marriage houses - just dont ask). I don't ask rude questions. I don't inconvenience people mostly. I am not rude or deride people generally, whatever I may think of them. I don't play loud music. I don't talk loudly. I don't like intruding on anyone's space.
Which is why I feel the world would benefit greatly if the fear of being ganwaar was paramount. It would certainly make the earth more bearable. I think it has been the greatest failing of our generation that nobody is ashamed of anything. Not of ignorance, not of being rude, not of being uncouth, not of being uneducated, not of even being philistines. The only thing people are ashamed of is being poor and that is what has ruined my generation. I'm not glorifying poverty, afterall I love making money, but in a correct manner, what I mean is that forgetting everything in a mad rush to make pots of money is sickening.
These are the top of my grouses about ganwarpan and I can already imagine nani with a satisfied smirk in her babulal dhobi starched saris and matching jewellery beaming down at me from heaven -
  • People not teaching their kids manners in public places. For the millionth time - NO, it is not cute when your brat comes and stares at the food on my table and exclaims loudly, "Mummy, ye kya hai?"
  • People staring. Seriously, Indians stare a lot and I hate that.
  • People talking loudly in cellphones in public places, especially places like hospitals, banks, bookshops, restaurants and movie theatres. Seriously, I have zero interest in your ganwaar life, just shut up and stop imposing your loud, ganwaar conversation on me. Ladies - The world REALLY is not interested in you or your love life, so speak softly.
  • People who cant queue and who constantly move into my space by standing too close to me. I just hate that.
  • Social climbers
  • People who cant focus on a conversation and who's eyes keep darting around the room while you are talking to them to keep a tab on who to latch onto next.
  • Most men in Calcutta. One word - UGH! Either too creepy and slimebally or ugly and pot bellied and unfit and having not achieved anything in life but mediocrity - just very, very uninteresting to me. Now, why dont they get that?

Anyhow. I could go on and on, but sadly life has other pressing demands, so over and out. For Now.

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