Senorita in the making

About 2 months back, I wrote that I try to channel my energy into learning something new every time i am faced with lemons in life.

This morning i received news of one of the lemonades that I have been making for the past 15 months. I cleared my A2 level fluency exam in Spanish.

Nearly everyone asked/ask me why I chose to learn a language now. I spend a good amount of my salary coughing up the fees, block all my weekends to attend classes, drive to another state in the early morning just to meet a bunch of crazy people who want to learn Espanol con mucho entusiasmo! Most of my classmates are students or young professionals. But I have also met some interesting people with sad/inspiring/quirky backstories.

Only one person never asked ‘why’ rather only said ‘i am proud of you’ and that happens to be the Man. The Man is a forced workaholic (partly by his choice as well i think); his entire workweek and a good portion of weekends are dedicated to work. He always supports skill acquisition but sadly isn’t left with much time on his hands these days. Guess that is why he is appreciative of the fact that I am keen on learning something and supports me in every possible way.

To all the people who ask me why do i study ‘at this age’, i simply ask them – what do you do on your weekend mornings? The answer primarily is ‘i sleep till late’. I then don’t bother replying to them cause they are really not worth my time and tengo que estudiar mucho…

Hasta la vista.. :-*

 

 

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When life gives you lemons…

My strategy to overcome a difficult situation is to invest my time and attention into something creative and learn something new….

When i look back, i realise that i have learnt so many new things in my life…

Estoy in nivel B en mi clase de espanol…(I am in Spanish B level)

Puedo preparar tortes complicados… (I can make some complicated cakes)

He hecho muchos amigos nuevos (I have made lots of new friends)

Life is giving me lemons again, so i am on the look out for something new to learn…

So when life gives you lemons, make lemonade by learning something new!!

Holaaa….

Every time I think I need to start blogging all over again…LIFE happens!

I have a habit of putting the blog on the back burner every time something ‘other than blog’ comes up. Sometimes (rather most of the time) its work, or another endless list of weddings in my family, travel (mostly to meet social commitments), or hobbies which has now totally consumed a good chunk of my weekends.

Till yesterday when I was chatting to a friend and she pointed out that life will ALWAYS happen, its for me to choose what needs to be prioritised and what not.

This space has been neglected by me for a long time now. Its like that ‘once-sexy-but-now-no-longer-fitting-black-dress’ which I pull out from the trunk every once in a while and remember the good old days. I remember the time I had blog friends from various parts of the world who would post every fortnight and each one secretly wished to be the first one to comment.

Most of them have stopped blogging now and I guess I stopped too when ‘life took over’. But this is still the space I come back to whenever I want a glimpse of a bygone ‘me’ 😀

I may ignore you blog space but you are still my black dress and like my black dress I will never throw you out of my life and will always try to fit myself into it 🙂

Choco pudding

In the meantime here is some chocolate almond cake with orange chocolate sauce  for some soul searching…

Let Them Eat Cake!

This year has been a year of cakes for me. On personal front, I really upped my game (purely personal opinion 😉 ), but when compared with the general baking stands, I still have a long way to go.

The inspiration started around September 2014 when I was inspired by a red velvet cake my cousin made for her fiancé. A talented baker that she is, she won the heart of her beau through his stomach and the rest is history. I came up with the plan to make red velvet cuppies, but the plan flopped as the ‘safe edible’ food color I got was not ‘Xmas Red’ but ‘Red’ which strangely gave out a hot pink color!! Next came learning the frosting- I spent a week trying to learn to control the piping bag!! Everyday I came back from office and kept piping swirls till midnight. I think I smelt of puke those nights with all the cream cheese and white butter! A week later I churned out this… Pink Velvet Cupcakes!

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Year 2014 ended I was on a yoga detox, travelled, didn’t cook much. May was Mother’s Day and it happened to be my MIL’s birthday. She loves pineapple! SIL and I decided to throw a surprise mother’s day-cum-bday lunch and the cake of the day was Pineapple Buttercream Cake!

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I replicated the Pineapple BC cake for a colleague- who didn’t want a lot of ‘jazz’ in her cake.

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Come September again, MIL wanted to invite the new BIL’s family for lunch and I had immediately grabbed the dessert duty. This was my first attempt going eggfree and for a week my colleagues kept receiving test samples of eggfree chocolate cake. After playing with BC a lot, I wanted to try the ‘simple’ ganache frosting. I thought the cake was the tough part and ganache frosting is very simple according to the youtube videos I saw… but boy it was NOT SIMPLE!!! While making ganache is simpler than BC, handling ganache even with water and palate knife tried my patience to the max. End result was an eggfree Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache. According to the man, this is my best cake till date.

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I did a boozy version of the same cake for his birthday 2 months later, pics of that will soon be updated.

Lessons Learnt:

  • Good skills learnt over the last one year.
  • So many more skills to learn in the coming year.
  • Lots of kilos piled on just ‘tasting’ the frosting!
  • And why eat bread when you can afford cake! 😛

Delhi by-cycle

Delhi by-cycle

Our life at the moment is a bit like the famous malayalam movie ‘Midhunam’, where I behave like Urvashi’s character Sulu while the Man is toiling away like ‘Sethuettan’ in office and at home. In the last few days, the scene in our house was somewhat like the initial parts of this video. Our trip didn’t happen and I was sulking more because the airline company refunded me only Rs. 800 and lost 9k! I cringe at the thought of the manner I behaved… (eeeeeeishhhhh)!! Don’t judge me pls… I am just human and the Man super-human!

In an attempt to do something interesting, yesterday I booked myself on a DelhiByCycle tour of Old Delhi. I tried rounding up the Man, tried coaxing my friends, but to no avail. Had a few security concerns since I had to be in Daryaganj at 6.30 am. But considering that this initiative was set up by a cool Dutchman Jack Leenaars, had very positive feedback on Tripadvisor from non-Indians and only a passionate adventurer will be ready at 6.30am in Old Delhi, gut said I was in safe hands. Since I was in a bad mood, all the Man warned is to ‘be safe’ 😀

So 5.45 am, I zoomed down the Expressway, made it on time, met the charming Sudheer and his co-guide Raju. And my ‘cycle-mates’ were 4 brit babes and 2 german gents. Armed with our orange bikes, we headed out to walled city. We cycled through the wholesale chicken/lamb market (the perfect sight to kickstart you into vegetarianism), narrow gullys, twisted turns watching the city waking up. While some people snuggled cozily under their blankets on the pavement, others were busy at work.

First stop was Turkman Gate, the 17th century structure standing next to the modern (read ugly) glass Delhi Stock Exchange Building. Our Guide Sudheer set the mood- this contrast yet co-existence of the old and the new worlds. Peddled our way to Charwi Bazar, which I didn’t know was the pick-up hub of the olden days. I wasn’t even aware that the buildings looked very beautiful since whenever I didn’t have the courage to look up due to chaos during normal hours! We then headed to Khari Baoli and en route saw sacks of marigold dumped in the flower mandi- bright yellow wave amidst dirty sacks.  A trip to KB is good for the respiratory system as the spices choke you and then you sneeze your way to a clean pair of lungs! KB was quite active at 7.30 am- labourers loading and unloading sacks of pungent spices. Climbed up 4 floors to the terrace of a huge warehouse, which we were told was a haveli that served ONE family!! The view from the terrace was the highlight of the trip for me- rose petals set out to dry, the serene Fatehpuri Masjid on one side, the bustling warehouse on the other and the kabootarbazi training. Kabootarbazi is the coolest thing I learnt on this trip- men training flocks of pigeons to fly in a certain direction post which teams send their flocks out together, the pigeons get confused

and land up in different flock only to then be returned to their rightful owners upon payment of money. Remember Om Puri’s antics in this song- kabootarbazi is what he is doing and the sounds in the song other than the female singers are the calls made by the kabootar keeper to his flock. 😉

Old and new peaceful coexistance

Old and new peaceful coexistance

To experience the ‘contrast’, we then left KB via Mori Gate and headed to the serene Civil Lines, riding past Raj Bhawan, St. Xaviers School and came to office of the District Magistrate for tea- while sitting on the pavement! 😛

A cutting chai later, we got back into the chaos and headed to Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi Railway Station, labour market, Red Fort and finally for a much deserved breakfast of nihari at Karim’s. The huge khameeri roti served with succulent lamb floating in oil and fragrant curry was devoured by one and all. A 15 min ride later, we were back at our starting point.

Despite knowing about most of the places I visited today, this trip was still an eye opener for me:

A Dutchman set up an amazing cycling tour in the heart of old Delhi- how enterprising is that!

minerets in spice markets

minerets in spice markets

Cutting chsi

Cutting chsi

Kabootarbaazi- such a delightful sport using birds who, till now I thought, were things that pooped all over my balcony!!

Venturing out of my comfort zone and solo explorations are actually enjoyable- I didn’t miss company- I think I liked it A LOT!!!

We Indians treat our visitors disrespectfully- no! lack of education of labour class/lower class is no excuse for shouting out foreign maal, videshi cheez dekho, hellooo welcome to india jee while rubbing your balls! You don’t need education to be cultured! The non-indians on the tour were aware of the catcalls but still enjoyed the trip and were quite excited. I think I was more overwhelmed by things around than them!!!!

I gave Raju, the co-guide a tough time as I had confidence issues with the bike- the only indian on the trip had issues cycling on indian roads!!!!!

There exists another India which is diametrically opposite from the part where I live in and I consider myself blessed for all that I have. There are genuine issues that need urgent attention such as population control, cleaner environment, sanitation facilities, job creation, creation of a culture that respects women and our guests!!!!!!

PS: special shout out to Sudheer and the ever helpful Raju who I gave a very tough time with my low confidence cycling!

Plain-Jane Paranthas

Vyapar Kendra in Sushant Lok, Ggn is my go to spot for groceries, veg/fruits, electrical parts, etc. VK is also famous for its tapris/thelas- On Diwali eve I saw 25 people queuing up to buy jalebis! (I was too busy that day, but I will join the herd and try that jalebs :P) They even have a Japanese ‘bakery’ Iroha at VK. Ok time for me to stop waxing lyrical abt VK and its wonders.

Last Sunday I reached VK for my weekly grocery shopping as usual. While lugging my 7 kgs of vegetable kingdom, I saw ppl flocking a thela. Now I have a problem- whenever I see hordes of people thronging a certain eatery, I too want to join the gang. Yes herd mentality it is, but mine is restricted only to food!!

Roll roll roll the dough

Roll roll roll the dough

It was a Parantha Man!!! I was hungry after foraging through the crates for fresh vegetables and fighting with line-breaking-uncles/aunties. Paranthas seemed to be the perfect mood ‘uplifter’ :p

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Parantha Man, as I now call him, has the Big Three- Potato, Cauliflower and Paneer. Greed overtook calorie crunching and I order one of each. It’s a treat to watch PM make the paranthas, tearing the dough from the large basin, skilfully filling the dough with the stuffing, carelessly rolling the dough into a neat circle, to deftly placing it on a tawa for it to be cooked to perfection. The end result- golden discs which are crispy on the outside yet soft inside. The stuffing is sufficient- not overflowing, the paranthas are simple- only spiced with green chillies or red chilly powder in case of paneer.

Frying them up

Frying them up

Most members of the herd tuck into the paranthas and finish off their meal with some hot tea from the Tea Uncle, whose tea borders on kheer. The damage was Rs. 110 for 3 paranthas and rajma, but I wasn’t keen on the rajma. We savoured it with some homemade mango chutney. The paranthas are value for money- three paranthas were a bit too much for the Man and me.

Crisped to perfection

Crisped to perfection

PM is now my go to man when I feel lazy to cook on Sundays (which is a regular feeling as far as I am concerned). If you ever land up in VK, do give Parantha Man a try. Sometimes you have to turn a blind eye to the location of the thela… 😛