Back and Bouncing!!

A month! A whole month!

More than a month, if I have to be completely honest, since I’ve posted!

Now that I’m typing away furiously at the keyboard, I realize how much I’ve missed it… 🙂

Wow!
So much has happened since then…
Update 1: I’ve moved to Mumbai with a brand new job and currently loving it to pieces! The workload is crazy (reason why I haven’t been blogging since I started), the clients are fantastic to deal with, and I get to boss around my juniors! Ye-ah!

Update 2: I’m living in this crazy awesome apartment with one of my closest friends!

The damn flat’s got a terrace garden in front!

Update 3: I’ve made a whole lot of new friends. Obviously.

Update 4: I have time to cook!! Yes, believe it or not, I finally stabilized my routine so I end up with enough time to whip up something at the end of the day….

We made a chocolate and rum-vanilla soaked strawberry cake for Christmas…post coming up later!

Update 5: By the time my first week in Mumbai got over, I had already lost my cellphone, my favorite pair of sunglasses and a very expensive purse. Yes, that’s right….all my resolutions to be a super-cool, sophisticated, succesful woman, in a new cool city, with a cool job  have gone out the window in the first week itself.

I’ve already started showing my true colors.

Update 6: I’ve eaten out at eleven different seafood restaurants (ELEVEN…you heard me) since I’ve been here. And I plan to go back and review them all. The snap below is that of Shweta, Foram and me in one of the restaurants, Gajalee (in Juhu). Their stuffed Bombil fry is to die for.
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Anyway, that’s it for now. The city’s awesome, treats me well and gives back as much as you give it. It feels new, confusing, exciting and even scary at times…but thats what makes it all the more fun. It feels so good to be back!

Until later…

Cookies and Bandhani

I’ve been obsessed with my mother’s closet since I don’t remember when.

Its weird if you think about it – I’m a full-grown twenty-three (almost twenty-four) year old woman who can cook and housekeep like an expert (at least, by now I can), but I still cannot resist rummaging through my Mum’s dressing table or try on her saris, whenever I get a chance.

I know, I need help.

Anyway, while my dark chocolate & walnut cookies were baking, I pulled out all Ma’s old dupattas. Cottons, silks, chiffons, crepes, lace and what not…she even had one in a ‘fishnetty’ lycra material.

OK.

Most of them have faded and some have huge holes in them and some are torn in half, literally. But what caught my eye was this hot pink bandhani-work dupatta, which was surprisingly intact, kept twisted properly and not the slightest bit faded. The color just popped and said “HI!” to me!

For all who’re wondering what on earth is “bandhani” – bandhani work is a type of tie-dyeing art particular to Gujarat and Rajasthan, India.

As for the cookies – well, they’ve got chocolate, walnuts and honey in them.

What You Need –

1 and a half cups regular, all-purpose flour

– 3/4 cup dark cocoa powder (Dutch is preferable, but any good quality cocoa powder would do)

– Half cup of walnuts, chopped coarsely

– 1 teaspoon salt

– 3/4 tsp baking soda

– 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

– 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

– 3 tablespoons of honey

– 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

– 2 large eggs

How-To:

– Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Prepare cookie sheets.

-Sift the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda together.

– Cream the butter with sugar till smooth and fluffy.

– Add the eggs one at a time beating continuously. Add the vanilla essence and honey.

– Add in the dry ingredients an stir to make a creamy batter.

– Add in the chopped walnuts and mix well.

– Spoon out the batter (1 tablespoon for each cookie) onto the sheets leaving enough gap between each lump.

– Bake the cookies for 10-15 minutes. Cool the cookies on cooling racks and serve with…uh milk? I prefer vanilla ice-cream though.

Ssshhh…

If you keep really quiet, you can almost here a pin drop…if only the crickets shut up.

I know I know, I’ve been away for God knows how many days. Weeks, rather.

But, in my defense; I WAS BUSY. No, really.

The festive season in Bengal is infectious and a hectic one. It affects everybody and somehow, work and hobby takes a back seat. I don’t know exactly what is it about Durga Puja, that makes every red-blooded Bengali jump up and go in a frenzy. Maybe its the faith, the aarti, the idols, the fumes of dhunuchi, the red of vermilion, the sound of dhak, or maybe its just the idea of wearing a new outfit everyday, dancing carefree to the beats of the dhaaki, gorgeous aloo bhaja and biting into the occasional naarkel naaru, the pandal-hopping, and everything else that follows. Whatever is it, I know this is one occasion everyone comes home for.

Well, honestly, I seriously didn’t have time to breathe, what with the proshad bitoron, and running around trying to gather the kids together for the evening performances. But I did get a few chances to click away happily at everything around me.

Mum and the ladies lined up for sindoor khela

Buli (the one in yellow) and me…yes yes, I know I look drunk….I’m not though…

Pears for Autumn

Late September and its already impossible to walk down the pedestrian pathway without ending up with leaves on your shoulders. I can literally smell the fumes emanating from the dhunuchi and the air is filled with sound of a dhak playing…radio stations trying to get everyone into the Durga Puja mood.

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. Neither is it sweltering hot, nor unreasonably chilly. I feel lazy and excited at the same time, now that the Indian festive season is upon us. I can’t wait for October!

Meanwhile, here’s an almost “funky” pear fruit recipe, to make mid-morning a little fizzier.

The pears in our refrigerator have been ripening since last Tuesday. I know.

So I pulled a couple of them out. Poached ’em in a lime-vanilla-cinnamon bath and added some fizz (which I honestly didn’t think would work)…but amazingly, it turned out yummy and fun!

Fizzy Pear fruit Drink (or soup, if you may) – Serves 2

– 2 medium sized pears

– 3 cloves

– 1 medium-sized cinnamon stick

– Half a pod of vanilla, bruised slightly (you could also use vanilla essence)

– Juice of 1 lime

– 2 cardamoms, flattened with your knife

– 2 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup

– 1 cup of water

– 7Up or Sprite to serve

Halve the pears and remove the seeds. I did not peel the skin off, but you can, of course, if you want. Set the water to simmer on low heat. Add the cloves, cinnamon, vanilla, lime juice, cardamoms and honey. Drop the pear halves in the simmering water, cut side down. Cover and cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the pears have softened considerably. Turn them over (skin-side down) and poach for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes. Chill the fruit in the refrigerator. Cut the halves into thirds. Put them in a shot glass and fill it up with 7up or Sprite. Top with crushed ice (optional) and serve.