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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.

 

Ganpati Bappa in Pune is the true definition of larger than life.

Ganpati Bappa Moriya!

Image courtesy: Dekhnews

Image courtesy: Dekhnews

 

Punekars bid goodbye to their favourite Elephant faced God- Ganpati, Ganesh, Vinayak, Pulaiyaar, Ekadanta, or whatever name you want to use to address him. This Ganesh Chathurthi has been a significant time in my life because of how I was tested. But I’m going to save that for later.

If I was in Chennai, I would’ve woken up to my mother (in all probability) yelling at me for sleeping in (read as sleeping till 8 or 9 a.m) and me hustling to get out of bed. I’d quickly shower, wash my hair and get dressed and rush to help my Father make Kozhukattai, all while hungrily eyeing the hot and crispy vadas my mom was making as the divine smell filled the entire house. My sister and I would join hands and say a prayer that we learnt back when we studied in the same school together and we would then fall silent as we prayed for each other’s health, success and joy.

This year's Ganesh Chathurthi spread at home.

This year’s Ganesh Chathurthi spread at home.

After lunch, and our prayers and offerings,  we’d all gather around and watch a hit movie that was being played on Sun TV or Vijay TV. Most probably involving Rajinikanth ( <3 ).

*Deafening whistles and screams* Image courtesy: Indiannerve.com

*Deafening whistles and screams*
Image courtesy: Indiannerve.com

I felt miserable and alone when I woke up to cloudy skies at Noon this year, on Ganesh Chathurthi. I spoke to my mom who seemed preoccupied and slightly distant on the phone. There were puja celebrations happening in the recreation and wellness center of our campus as well, but I felt so poorly motivated to actually be a part of them. I’d taken a trip home only recently, but somehow that day I missed home more than ever..

Then we were handed an assignment by our professor to go to the city and cover Ganesh Chathurthi celebrations in Pune. I was reluctant to, but I did go, and when we went, I was speechless at the grandeur of celebrations left me stunned, finally lifting me out of the misty gray dullness that had enveloped me over the few days that followed Ganesh Chathurthi’s first day.

Ganpati Bappa in Pune is the true definition of larger than life.

Ganpati Bappa in Pune is the true definition of larger than life.

As I roamed the streets, I understood for the first time in my life, what the phrase ‘larger than life’ meant. There was festive splendor everywhere and I couldn’t take my eyes off the sights and sounds. It was so invigorating to be part of that crowd and report.

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Found outside a pandal: If you can throw a coin into that pot in the middle, then all your desires will be fulfilled.

Make a wish.

Make a wish.

On the last day of our reporting assignment, I felt like we had come around to a full circle. It had been almost 4 or 5 days of continuous shooting. Those days were filled with fun, despite the hard work and running around we had to do. We were walking on a narrow footpath on a busy crowded road when we chanced upon a small shop that sold sweets and (of course) modaks.

Yay! Modaks!

Yay! Modaks!

My friend and I eagerly dug in as a huge smile spread across my face. It was like tasting something my dad had made. I smiled kindly at who appeared to be the shop owner and told him this was the best modak I’d had in a while and that it reminded me of the ones I ate at home. The outside was soft yet firm and on the inside was jaggery and coconut. I took my time in relishing and eating the dish as never before had a sweet dish come so close to what we eat back at home.

That’s when I realised… Home is not a place that you leave behind. Home is everywhere, if you look hard enough. Home is in the same blue skies and the shining sun that warms your face. It is in the people, whose hearts you happen to touch merely by the virtue of you saying hello. You can never leave home behind. Home is somewhere you carry in your heart.

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.

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