July 15, 2007

The fishy cook

Recently, I got into a discussion about my not-so-exemplary culinary skills with ahem ahem, a hotel management student I know. As I waxed eloquent about the art of "cooking" Maggi, his smile kept threatening to get so wide that his lips were in danger of falling off his face.

Then I went on lecturing him on how to make a dosa. He innocently asked me what the batter was made of and I had to give him an extremely venomous glare. But tossing a dosa on a pan is something I can do, albeit with extreme trial and error. The first two dosas invariably have to be scraped off the pan with a calorie-shaving vigour. And after that, there ARE dosas, some thick, some thin, but never round. The same goes for my chapatis...whenever anyone dares to question me about the shape, I claim it is a paratha...now I thank my stars my dear friend here hasn't come across my idea of a paratha yet!

Thinking about my sporadic trysts with the kitchen brings to mind several culinary bloopers. One of the most labour-intensive ones was my attempt to make a sev sandwich. I spent two hours cutting the vegetables, all the time wondering what a lousy sandwich seller I could have been, with my speed ensuring that if I started preparations at 8 in the morning, I would probably have a few sandwiches ready by lunchtime. When I finally assembled it and grilled it, I got down to the most important bit - eating it. And as I triumphantly raised a piece of my creation to my mouth, I was subjected to the sight of the vegetable-moistened bread disintegrating into a hundred bits like one of my mother's besan laddoos. Followed by a colourful shower of vegetables from the sandwich to the plate, only to land in a heap that looked messier than the colourful condom heap that I once saw at Falkland Road.

Yet another of my favourites involves a brave attempt to knead atta/dough. I confidently dumped three cups of flour into a shallow pan and added a little water. After a while, I thought it was too dry, so I added more water. I ended up adding two cups of water to three cups of flour. And after a while, I realised that my dough possessed an uncanny resemblance to soup. To rectify the situation, I kept adding dough and water. When the pan threatened to dispense its soup mixture by brimming over, I stood back and realised...I wasn't trying to make dough boats in dough soup. I have no recollection of attempting to knead ANYTHING ever since.

My list of culinary misadventures and malfunctions does not end here. It involves dubious attempts to make chocolates and a particularly noteworthy effort to make tomato mozarella sauce. By the time I was done with my experimentation on the mozarella cheese, its consistency resembled that of a granite block...the overall appearance of my dish was quick to remind one of Bombay's potholed streets filled with muck in the monsoons....that sums up my cooking skills. Cooking is best left to others...I'd rather eat a paratha than make one.


Pics from Sivayan...
Think pink...


July 02, 2007

A cycle of cycles

It is an experience in itself, to bicycle on the roads of Bhubaneswar. For broke denizens of this world, like yours truly for example, there is hardly any other option available. The auto rickshaws here have taken it upon themselves to charge prices that make your pockets feel as weightless as an astronaut stranded in space. And well, buses are a non-existent rumour. One does occasionally hear of this fabled town bus that is as difficult to spot as Abhishek Bacchan on a local train. So well, bicycles that only need the occasional ek tanka for air seem the best option.

All the gorgeous women in those lovely Orissa sarees don't seem to be doing much. Because male cyclists always stare at my sweaty face and mismatched clothing and dirty sports shoes as if they've just seen an apsara from heaven. And then they sidle up close to you and say things they think are cute. Not that they are a major problem. All one has to do to shake them off is yell 'Problem hain kya...chal mere saath udhar signal pe police khadi hain baat karte hain!'

Then there is that demented lot that is so used to roads without footpaths that they prefer walking on roads even when there are perfectly decent footpaths. The really exceptional cases I've come across include a woman in Cuttack who landed up looking at her torn sari pallav with a shocked face after the handlebars of my cycle put an end to her fashion parade with swaying sari on a narrow street. The second incident involved this happy family of three who were thrown into sudden chaos after I almost drove right into them while they were holding hands and sauntering along a busy road like it was their private apple orchard.

Apple orchards apart, it is a lovely way to pick up some cool street slang and also discover a city...and psst...the best gupchup places in the city. :P