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Happy Mother’s Day- Kyunki, Mere Paas Maa Hai!

I left home in 2014.

No, I did not run away to join the circus. Undoubtedly, that would’ve been quite the story, but I chose a tamer route.

I left home to pursue my Master’s degree in Journalism and it was a move that made me the person that I am today. I knew it would be difficult, but somehow, I didn’t envision being thrown headfirst into the world of adulting, while barely knowing how to swim.

Me, Circa 2014; reaching for the stars.

Me, Circa 2014; reaching for the stars.

But honestly, the most important thing that living alone has taught me, is to appreciate home. Never again, will I ever take “home” for granted. Especially not home-cooked food.

 

Sunday lunch ❤️ #goodfood #home

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No gourmet restaurant can match up to a hot lunch of pepper kuzhambu and fried potato curry on a cold rainy day. No waffle or nutella pancake can ever come close to the feeling of biting into a crispy dosa dipped in green chutney. Somehow, even the cup of Horlicks mom makes me tastes different.

No place like #Home

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Sunday Lunch #Mom #HomeFood #Goodfood #mushroom #biriyani #Love #nothinglikeit

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It’s almost the end of Mother’s Day, and I don’t have my Mother next to me to celebrate. While living with family is indeed, a comfort (especially in an alien city), it doesn’t really change the fact that sometimes, I really miss my mom.

I’ve come to realise over the years that home is a hot cup of chai waiting for you after a long day at work.

The people who live in a house are the ones responsible for making it a home. They may drive you crazy or make you laugh till your stomach hurts, but family is family. You can’t choose them, and maybe, just maybe… That’s a good thing?

To end, I’m going to quote Amitabh Bachchan, in a dialogue that didn’t make sense to me, until I grew older.

 

 

Shubho Mahalaya

I first met a Bengali when I was 11. His name was Gogol Ganguli, and Jhumpa Lahiri spoke to me at great length about identity crises and generation gaps. That was the first time my curiousity was piqued by the culture as described in that book. I became increasingly fascinated with their expressive eyes, their ‘well-rounded’ language, their passion, their intellect and of course, their fierce love for Calcutta. The Namesake was my earliest exposure to Bengalis. Before I joined college at Symbiosis, never did I imagine that I would have the pleasure of meeting so many of them and that I would go on to become close friends with some of them.

So when you know as many Bengalis as I do, you’d know how they speak of home with an air of reminiscence and a twinge of nostalgia in their voices. Well, my beloved bongs took it a step further. They organised a feast, which is called ‘bhog’ to celebrate Mahalya.

So I went a step further and tried to find out what Mahalaya is all about. It’s an auspicious occasion observed seven days before Durga Puja. It was originally an invocation. When the demon king Mahisasura was increasingly cruel to the gods, the gods pleaded to Vishnu to annihilate this demon, unable to bear his tyranny. The Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva came together to create a powerful female goddess with ten arms- Goddess Durga or Mahamaya. Goddess Durga rides on a lion to battle Mahisasura and then slays him. After he has been slayed, heaven and earth rejoice at her victory.

Such a victory of epic proportions would certainly not go uncelebrated here at Symbiosis International University!

First up, we were served Luchi. Luchi is the Bengali name for Puri and I didn’t really find it different from the puris I’ve had elsewhere, but they had less oil and I really appreciated that. The first dish to be served with it was Alur Dom. That’s the Bong version of dum Aloo. A dish that (incidentally) I’m not very fond of, but I bit into it nevertheless and I was pleasantly surprised. The gravy that the Alur was in was full of flavour and spice without being overwhelmingly spicy and the potato actually retained its natural flavour, hence adding a few sweet notes to the dish.

Luchi and Alur Dom

Luchi and Alur Dom

Next up we were served Khichuri, which is their version of Kichdi. I quite liked it because it was warm and I could taste the slightest trace of ghee somewhere there. My friend Jui directed me to eat the Khichuri with Labra. Labra is a mixed veg curry that had carrots, beans and a few other veggies. Again what I loved about the Labra, was how the true flavours of the vegetables came through beautifully, despite the fact that it was cooked with oil and spices. The vegetables retaining their flavours puts a very interesting spin on the dishes and they make them feel so much more organic and beautiful.

Khichuri

Khichuri

My personal favourite was the Bhaja. Bhaja was thin crispy potato fries served with roasted groundnuts and garnished with a hint of chilli powder. The potato melted in my mouth instantly and though one would think that the flavours of the groundnut and the potato would clash, they didn’t. They formed the most beautiful symphony in the simplest of snacks.

What a feast it was! Photo courtesy: Swastika De Sarkar

What a feast it was!
Photo courtesy: Megha Varier

The organisers, hard at work Photo courtesy: Swastika De Sarkar

The organisers, hard at work
Photo courtesy: Swastika De Sarkar

Overall, the experience was absolutely magical. It made me feel satiated without feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. I felt a sort of comfort that lulled me from deep within when I finished my meal. I may not be Bengali, I may not understand their language, but in those few beautiful fleeting moments when I was eating food, so lovingly served to me by my own friends, I finally felt like I was home.

 

The best foodie music ever

So instead of writing about food today, I’ve decided to try something slightly different. Here’s a list of songs that I love listening to while eating or when I’m having a fun night out in general.

1. Madari- Vishal Dadlani, Clinton Cerejo and Sonu Kakkar.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=L-9s4nTLSdA%3Ffeature%3Dplayer_embedded

This song obviously HAD to be the very first on this list because it is an eternal favourite. Everytime I hear it, my mood instantly perks up and I have to resist the urge to sing along because I can never get the words right.

2. Naan Nee- Madras

This mellow song is perfect for those days when you should be cuddling bae on a rainy evening, but you know you got Pizza, which is even more freakin awesome.

3. Wish you were here- Pink Floyd

One of my favourite things to do is to head over to the NCC canteen in Pune and just lose myself to a glass of coffee, listening to this masterpiece by Pink Floyd. Trust me when I say, it is nothing short of blissful.

4. We are Young- Fun

Night on the town? Check. Best High Heels on? Check. Favourite cocktail. Check. You are all set to belt out the words to this beautiful (should-be) teen anthem as you make the most of every moment of your night on the town.

5. Thode Bheege- Kaminey

[https://youtube.com/watch?v=juhpOvGTzSQ%3Ffeature%3Dplayer_embedded%22%3Ehttps%3A

If you ask me, this is one of the most underrated songs in the film. It’s one of the most beautiful melodies I have ever listened to. I like to listen to this song while its cold out and I’m cuddling under the covers with my favourite paperback novel and a mug of hot chocolate. Love, indeed.

6. Banana Pancakes- Jack Johnson

This is my absolute favourite Sunday morning song. It’s one of those light, happy, catchy songs that you can listen to while you contentedly munch on a delicious home-made Sunday brunch.

7. A beautiful mess- Jason Mraz

This is the kind of song I like listening to when I’m alone. It helps me feel like I’m listening to someone speaking to me, addressing me. Also, it sounds great when you’re eating it with Falafel.

8. Yellow- Coldplay

A song I could listen to on loop and not get tired of. Yellow by coldplay is, in my opinion one of their best tracks. Listen on a Saturday night in with your girlfriends with a tub of ice cream and a night filled with gossip and fun.

Have any tracks that go well with good food? Do drop a comment and let me know :)

The most non-veg things that have been said to me

Image courtesy: Zomato

I was going to write a long theoretical post about how non-vegetarians hardly ever seem to understand us vegetarians, but instead, I’ve decided to come up with something better. Here’s a list of the funniest things that people have said to me, with reference to vegetarianism.

1. “You’re a vegetarian? How do you live?”
– I’m Anti-Matter. You are the first to uncover my secret. Congratulations.
2. “Why don’t you just pick the chicken off and eat the pizza?” – On being offered a slice of chicken pizza.
– No. I ain’t touching that tainted pizza.
3. “This tastes like cow fodder”- When someone took a bite of my granola bar.
– Um Bro. You can’t ask to take a bite of my food and then insult it. That’s just wrong.
4. “I would never marry a vegetarian”- On discussing marriage with a male friend.
– You should list that on your next matrimonial ad. ‘Bride wanted: Fair, slim, carnivorous’

5. “Maybe they’ll have a paneer steak”- when a couple of friends were planning a trip to a restaurant whose speciality was steak.
– Thanks but no thanks
6. “Come over to the dark side… We have kebabs”- On being ‘persuaded’ to turn non-vegetarian.
– Tempting as that sounds, I’m sure my side has an equally delicious alternative. Vegetarians can be quite creative. 😉
7.”I can’t imagine my life without chicken… I don’t know how you do it.”
– I do it in the same way that I speak Turkish. I don’t speak Turkish.
8. I once complained that my salad felt raw because it had no dressing, and someone actually made a snide remark about how I should be used to it by now.
9. “A little chicken soup would make you feel much better”- when I was down in bed with a cold, during the rainy season, in hostel.
– Shut up and give me my meds.

10. “My food poops on your food. It’s the circle of life.”
– Real classy bro.

11. “How will you ever get any nutrition?”
– Oh Gosh, I don’t know- how about from the food I’ve been eating all my life?
12. I once asked a friend what chicken tastes like- “It’s like trying to explain what the meaning of life is.”

13. “Do you really think that the plants that you killed for your food haven’t been alive?”
– I bet that took every last bit of intellect you owned!
14. “Everytime I order something and you ask if its vegetarian.. It’s a little sad”- on being let down by a delicious looking non-vegetarian dish.
– Well excuse me for not wanting to eat food that had a face.

15. “You can’t call yourself a true foodie if you don’t eat non-vegetarian food”
– You. Over there, with the ignorant opinion. Shut up right now.
Food doesn’t discriminate. Food doesn’t care :) It’s all a choice you make. So guys, don’t forget to go easy on us vegetarians at the end of the day, because we all love you as much as we love our aloo and paneer. <3 Don’t forget to show some love. You can leave a comment and tell me what you think of the post.

My first baking experiment!

It was a dark stormy night in hell when I first decided I’d enter the kitchen to bake a cake.

Actually, no. Let’s rewind a little. As a part of my undergraduate course, I was required to select a non-major elective. Time pass wala stuff basically- we didn’t have a final exam or a grading system based on this particular elective. So this meant cool things like online trading, arts and crafts, painting, fabric printing, entrepreneurship, and of course baking and icing. I’d get home at 7 every day after these tiresome classes that usually involved us watching on while our teacher explained to us the nuances of baking, and shortly after, the hungry group of 40 odd girls would fight for samples of cooking that were handed out. This involved all sorts of deliciousness- like red velvet pastry, cheesecake, chocolate ganache icing and even things like marinated panneer that would melt in your mouth while simultaneously setting your tongue on fire.

It was all going so so well.

Our teacher would dictate ingredients and measurements while we wrote them down in a notebook. It all seemed easy enough.

I first stepped into the alien land of deliciousness, where my mom (and sometimes sister and rarely, dad) ruled over with an steel spatula and a magic hand of deliciousness. You had every possible [vegetarian] delight to the senses emanating from this land, right from the smell of melting ghee to the sizzle of mustard seeds, to the spicy scent of schezwan chutney and chinese style pulao dishes.

I looked around cautiously, half expecting something to spontaneously combust at my very touch. When I determined that all was safe, I proceeded to pick my favourite cup and tumbler to measure out the ingredients with.

Bad idea.

Foodie tip #1- Equipment matters!

Baking is a really really precise science. You need everything to be perfectly measured if you don’t want your cake to turn out tasting horrible.

The recipe called for 2 cups of flour. I suddenly realised that I had only one cup and a little more left.

Foodie tip #2 – Always check if you actually have the ingredients that your recipe calls for before embarking on your  culinary adventure.

“Eh. What’s the worst that could happen?” I thought to myself as I dumped a cup of corn flour in to compensate.

Foodie tip #3- NEVER replace one ingredient with another. There is NO excuse for this. None. At all.

You’ll find various food blogs and experienced chefs who tell you its completely alright to substitute one ingredient for another. But when I’ve tried this, it has ended in nothing but disaster. And weird after tastes in my mouth.

I then proceeded to approximately mix all the ingredients together and mix with a wooden spoon lying around. Because who actually needs a whisk for the ingredients to mix well together?

But you know what was funny? The mix didn’t even look like batter. I’m not that dumb, hey, I know that the batter has to be liquid. That’s when cross checking the recipe helped me realise that I had forgotten to add the milk.

So, after a whole lot of sweat and sore arm muscles from beating that damn near impossible cake batter, I finally came up with a batter that was a rather stubborn liquid… but liquid. Yes! Success!!

Little did I know that my battle had only just begun.

We have ALL been this dog at some point in our culinary lives

I started looking for something to actually make the cake in. I didn’t own a cake tin- or any baking equipment for that matter because I’m the first in my family to take a walk on the wild side. So I ended up putting the batter in a cooker tin. (the same ones that you use to make dal)

Since I didn’t own an Oven Toaster Griller (OTG), I ended up putting the cake into a cooker. Which is not unheard of, but you need to know Foodie tip #4- if you’re baking with a cooker, look for cooker recipes. Search for recipes according to the medium you actually own.

I put the cooker tin with the batter in the cooker assuming it would take the same time as an OTG to bake.

I’m going to go back to Tip #1 because I cannot stress on it enough. Equipment matters!

*Ignores a 13 year old giggling somewhere*

nearly 30 minutes later, my cake looked baked, but when I pushed a knife in it to check, the knife had both uncooked cake bits and cake batter itself sticking to it when it came out.

45 minutes later, I could faintly smell something burning. I consulted with Mom who advised me to switch off the stove and get it out ASAP. I heeded her worldly wise advice and the end result was something I will never forget all my life.

When I inverted the cooker tin, not only had the base of the cake burnt, but it was stuck to the bottom of the cooker tin. I cut the base off to check if any other part of the cake was edible. There were still bits of batter here and there (Damn that stubborn liquid!) and some parts appeared somewhat edible.

I stared hopelessly at the cake. My mom took one look at my face and burst out laughing. This was the first time in my life that I had tried my hand at something and failed so astonishingly. I cut out cautious pieces of the cake and attempted to eat it and blanched. Mom had an equally pained expression on her face as she gave me a brave smile. There was no substance on the planet that tasted less like a cake.

Another round of laughter ensued and mom told me not to give up. I took her advice and strangely, I actually got better at it eventually. The saying “try and try till you succeed” actually worked. A couple of failed attempts later, I actually learnt enough to make delicious chocolate cake that melts in your mouth. Cake that would disappear from the box within seconds of me opening it in college. It was nothing but positive feedback from there, but my mom and I still laugh over that very first cake that I attempted to make and all the dumb mistakes that went into ruining it.

So here’s to one of the yummier tasting cakes I’ve baked

Because… Sprinkles

Chocolate cake with chocolate ganache… God it was delicious

Meet the Foodie

There are scores of people who can offer you ‘helpful’ unsolicited advice. “Follow your dreams”, “stay true to yourself!”, “Carpe Diem!”, “YOLO!”. These vague statements can be really confusing if you’re someone like me- 21, still kinda young, uncertain, and lost. However, there’s one thing in my life that has always been constant- my love for food. When I was younger, I was quite the fussy eater and my parents would have the toughest time getting me to eat right. Can you believe I refused to touch Pizza till  I was in second grade? *shudders*. Luckily, time has passed and standards have dropped. I am now an eggetarian who will eat anything anywhere, as long as it doesn’t contain meat. (If you’re going to come to me and argue that eggs are non-vegetarian, don’t bother. They’re amongst my favourite foods.)


It was when I was 11 that my love for writing came to the forefront. Incidentally, my first poem was about a trip to the bakery 😀 It was fun writing it indeed. There is literally nothing I love in the world more than food. (Sorry boys 😉 )

Nothing describes me more accurately



I have a pretty amazing relationship with food- I love eating good food, I’m interested in trying new dishes and I enjoy baking/cooking occasionally (read as almost never). Starting this blog was my sister’s idea. I jokingly told her that I would love a job that paid me to eat good food. She looked me straight in the eye and told me not to wait around for a job like that, so here I am, actually going after my dream- writing about food.


Allow me to introduce myself-my name is Aishwarya. I’m currently pursuing my Master’s degree in Journalism at Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Pune. [It only looks like I have my stuff sorted. Trust me, I don’t]. I was born in Hyderabad, and I’ve lived in Kerala, but Chennai is my hometown and my heart beat. Oh, how I love this beautiful city of mine! Moving to Pune was hard, but it was worth it. Now I’ve grown to like Pune just as much as I like Chennai, thanks to the people in it. Almost all my friends are like minded foodies and we love exploring new places and trying new things together.
Us, happy after binge eating at Barbeque nation.

As far as food is concerned, chocolate milk, dosas and thayir sadam (curd rice) are my biggest weaknesses. My tam-brahmness betrays me in this regard. I would willingly give up anything in the world except these things! However, “Variety is the spice of life. That gives it all its flavor” said William Cowper, an English poet. Well, I believe that taking this quote a little literally and applying it to food makes life worth living. I strongly believe in the fact that life can be one crazy adventure, and I hope you enjoy reading my blog as much as I know I’m going to enjoy writing it.

Also, always remember this