The Biriani-phile

site de rencontres nu My love affair with the Biriani started early in life. I love crafting a Biriani. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than serving a fragrant grain for grain, culinary work of art. It is an easy one dish meal, a favourite with most, that looks deceptively complicated, and can be served with a bowl of raitha and a sweet mango chutney.

watch Some Sundays, my Dad would drive down to the Islamic Restaurant in Singapore for their signature dish, the Biriani. This lingers in my memory, as a Persian, good looking, fragrant variant of the look-a-likes that I have met subsequently. The needle thin, long grained, aromatic rice, fell grain for grain, on the plate with an invisible tinkle, as its aroma filled the house. The dazzling, white of the rice was streaked artistically with the yellow from random strands of saffron, while the thick gravy enveloped the succulent pieces of meat cooked to perfection. Crisp fried onion roundels, cashew nuts and raisins lay as a colourful garnish on top of the Biriani. The finished rice dish was NOT an unappetising homogenous colour. The rice that fell on your plate had white bits of rice, saffron bits of rice and meat bits that belonged happily together. It was a piece of Art.

binäre optionen prozent signalgeber kostenlos I am a compulsive Biriani cook. On Sundays. unless I am gagged and tied to the top of a tree like Cacaphonix, of the Asterix Comic series, I will be found in my kitchen crafting a Biriani. I have stood on my head, trying to recreate the Islamic Restaurant Biriani of Singapore. I am close, but not really there.

source url Some Birianis that I have met in later years have been an unappetising homogenous colour , more like rice mixed clumsily in a curry. The Chicken in the Biriani sits in the Biriani, indifferent, detached and in total disdain, as if it had nothing to do with the rice it was buried in . The meat lacks flavour, because in most restaurants the meat would have been boiled separately, only with salt and pepper and thrown into different gravies, when assembled.

prove di trading binario Mutton Biriani

follow link I kg Mutton…750 gms boneless and 250 gms with bone. Each piece should weigh around 50-75 gms.
Use 1 kg of mutton mince if it is for a party, to avoid savage gnawing of bones in public. Add a 1/4 kg of mutton-with-bone for flavour, if you are using Mutton mince. Mutton mince works well for kids as they do not waste meat on the bones.

rencontres aquaboulevard 1 Kg Basmati Rice,

go site Ginger garlic paste…1/4 cup
8-10 slit green chillies
2 large ripe red tomatoes quartered
1/4 cup finely chopped mint leaves
1/2 cup finely chopped coriander leaves
4 large onions sliced thin
Thick yoghurt …1 cup
2 tsp Kashmiri Chilli powder
Turmeric 1 tsp
Juice of 2 big limes
4 large Potatoes sliced round and thin, soaked in salted water
Oil..1/4 cup
Ghee..2 Tbsp taste
2 pieces of cinnamon, 1 inch each, 10 cloves, 8 pods of cardamom, 2 Anise seeds, 2 Bay leaves. For parties, use 1 tsp Garam Masala Powder to spare guests the embarrassment of spitting out whole spices onto their plates.
1/4 cup cashewnuts
1/4 cup raisins

1. Marinade the meat in the fridge overnight if possible, with the Ginger-garlic paste, yoghurt, chilli powder, turmeric, salt and 1 tsp lime juice. If not, marinade for at least 1 hour.

2.Soak the Biriani Rice when you start the Biriani. The longer you soak the rice, the longer the grains become and shorter the cooking time.

3. To cook the Mutton, use the pressure cooker.

4. Heat 1/2 cup of peanut oil.
Add the whole garam masala spices.
Add the thinly sliced onions and caramelise them.
Remove 1/2 of the fried onions and keep aside for later.
Add the slit green chillies to the onions in the pressure cooker. Add the mint and coriander leaves and fry.
Add the tomatoes and let it cook.
Add the marinaded meat and stir well till the yoghurt blends with the gravy.
Close the pressure cooker and let the meat cook for 4 whistles depending on how tender the meat is. Let the pressure come down on its own to open. Do not force it open with water baths.

After opening the pressure cooker , check how much gravy you have, to determine how well the rice should be cooked. If the gravy is watery, cook the rice less. If it is thick, cook the rice more. The rice will continue to cook in the steam generated by the biriani. With experience your judgement will get better.

To cook the Rice.
Boil 8-10 cups of water, salt and 1 tsp lime juice, 2 tsp of oil, 1 piece of cinnamon, 4 cloves and 4 cardomoms and 2 anise seeds in a large pan.
Add the soaked and drained rice to the boiling water.
Do not cook the rice more than 3/4 done. The rice will continue to cook in the oven.

Potato base
Meanwhile, slice the potatoes, round and fairly thin.
Soak the potatoes in salt water to prevent discolouration.
Layer the bottom of the pan with the drained potatoes.
Sprinkle salt on the potatoes.
The layer of potato will prevent rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan and any excess of oil /ghee will trickle down to roast the potatoes to a tasty crispy “s’more please”, that kids and adults will fight over.
Keep the prepared pan over a low flame as you layer the Biriani. This will help start the browning of the potatoes.

To layer the Biriani,
Keep the boiling rice, cooked meat and the oven worthy pan with the layered potatoes close to each other for ease of handling.
Do not strain all the rice together.
Strain the boiling rice in batches with a sieve, to alternate with the cooked meat, so that the less cooked rice that is removed early, becomes the bottom of the Biriani and will not get overcooked.
As the rice is boiling , start with a layer of rice to cover the layer of potato and add alternate layers of cooked mutton ‘n’ gravy and lightly sprinkled sieve full of boiling rice.
Do not pack or press the rice down. This will make the rice gooey and cake-y.
Sprinkle the caramelised onions, mint and coriander,between the layers of rice and meat.
Finish with a layer of rice.

Drizzle a Tbsp of melted Ghee or butter on the top of the last layer of rice.
Sprinkle saffron softened in warm milk on the top of the rice.
Do not press the rice down.

Seal the Pan with silver foil and place in a preheated oven at 200 degrees Centigrade for 30-40 mts.

Remove the pan from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes before opening. If it is well done, the rice on the top will curl upwards slightly.

Do NOT use a spoon. Do NOT stir. Do NOT mix the Biriani.
Invert the Biriani into a larger dish so that the crisp roasted potatoes come on the top and the rice and meat fall down on its own.

Serve garnished with fried onions,fried cashewnuts, fried raisins, finely chopped mix of mint and coriander leaves.

Use a saucer to cut through the biriani from the top to the bottom of the pan to serve. DO NOT STIR. This way, there will be white bits of rice, yellow saffron coloured rice , succulent chunks of meat covered with gravy, and roasted roundel potatoes in every serving, on every plate.

There a zillion ways to Biriani. This is what has worked well for me over the years.

For my vegetarian guests I substitute the meat with Cottage Cheese or Paneer, cut into thick squares and fried. Cooked exactly the same way.

The Parable of the Ceemcee Kids

Once upon a time there was a grand multi named Ceemcee. She was a well respected Alma Mater, which translated in latin means “a nourishing mother “. A pivotal figure in the community, she was of immense help to all around and far away.

Ceemcee lived in La-La-Land with her mother Dida, the kids grandmother . They had homes on 2 separate campuses a few kilometers apart , connected by shuttles on 2 bus routes, the No 1 bus route and the No 2 Bus route.

Ceemcee had hundreds and hundreds of kids, despite all the attending complications. Even when she reached 100 years, she did not stop. Initially, she had a string of girls. Then she had a string of girls and boys. Sometimes even twins. The kids were of all shapes, sizes and temperament. They all grew up on the ancestral homestead exposed to the same values and opportunities. When they had organized sports or music events on Ceemcee’s or Dida’s birthday, they were divided into 4 houses to encourage healthy competition.

You could pick them up anywhere in a crowd, anytime. They all wore ribbons and ties of Silver and Blue.

Some kids stayed with their mother Ceemcee on the green, wooded, serene ancestral homestead, set among hills, one of which resembled the silhoette of a Toad, especially at sunrise on Easter Sunday. The others stayed at the second campus in the crowded and dusty epicentre of town, with their grandmother Dida.

Some of the teenagers who came of age, were taken in batches to visit and spend time with Dida in her campus, for a few hours every day. Ceemcee, the Nourishing Mother always sent her kids on their day trips with packed lunches from home. The older mature ones stayed overnight with Dida, sometimes for weeks on end and helped her with her lifelong work of tending to the sick and the suffering, brought in by road, rail and air for healing, increasing the rising footfall in the corridors of of Dida’s house. Some who needed long term care were given beds to stay in Dida’s large rooms. Dida, with her unwavering commitment to a Living God and Risen Saviour she served devotedly, had with loving dedication, built up a trusted reputation of caring with compassion, over the years .

All the Ceemcee Kids were given identical smart phones to learn from and communicate. Some of the kids were content to use it for basic stuff like incoming calls, outgoing calls and the occasional emails. Others were more adventurous and went beyond the basics and learned and excelled in all the apps on the smart phone, winning accolades and recognition from all the sites and service providers.

With time, they all grew up. Some stayed at home. Some went away. Some crossed the waters to distant shores. Some buried themselves in oblivion to serve the poor and needy in resource poor settings, serving the outcast and the marginalized. None of the kids ever forgot all that they had learned from their Alma Mater, bouncing on their Nourishing Mother’s knee.

With time and age , Ceemcee could not keep up with the whereabouts of all her kids at home and scattered over the different continents. One of her illustrious kids, Pee Zee , compiled a Directory, a chronological ready reference of Ceemcee’s kids with their birthdays, current addresses, telephone numbers, names of spouses and kids. This was a stroke of genius to let the growing family keep in touch. It served as an extensive and interesting data base for a quick and go-to-guide for B&B across the Globe. There was a Ceemcee Kid in almost any place in the world, at any point in time, be it the snow capped mountains of the Himalayas, or the deserts of Africa. The Ceemcee kids were an exclusive gene pool, a coveted kinship that many envied and would have given their right arm to join. A protective band that looked out for each other, often welcoming them and their families warmly into heart, hearth and home.

When news came in of success, recognition and accolades, Ceemcee celebrated with her kids . When news came of their passing on , Ceemcee and her family mourned and lit a candle in their memory,in the family chapel.

The family chapel was a dome shaped unique piece of grey granite stone architecture with brass and wooden fittings. The resounding acoustics that do not need enhancement with microphones is legendary. Set in a picturesque sunken garden, landscaped as a well manicured green oasis with a pond and lilies,dotted with a burst of magnificent and scented colorful blooms. This is the epic spot where playful duckings were held. This is the epic spot where jasmine chains were carried in celebration, through the years on proud shoulders. This is the epic spot in the homestead that housed a treasure trove of memories. This is the epic tableaux every Ceemcee kid embedded and nurtured in their hearts,fondly,when remembering one of the happiest and most carefree periods of their lives.

The homestead was never empty of Ceemcee’s kids. The babies and toddlers continued to sit at the dining table of the homestead long after the older ones left. They kept Ceemcee the Alma Mater, the Nourishing Mother, young at heart with their playful chatter,their repertoire of entertainment,their innocence, their youthful ideals and their eagerness to take on the world.

The kids who went away were homesick and missed Ceemcee and Dida terribly. Some more than others, especially when they interacted with other families outside and compared them to their own family. Many of them kept in touch with each other through emails, Whatsapp and the Facebook on Social media. Wherever possible they made little groups and met as often as they could if they were in the neighbourhood. When they had organised annual events as a retreat,in a idyllic resort, they called it the GOTC, the Gathering of the Clan. These meets were steeped in nostalgia and the music of 100 years on the campus would find its way with veteran and young musicians leading the group as they danced to the gypsy tunes of their youth. A must sing at the closing service, was a favourite from the Sunday Vespers at the Homestead Chapel, the haunting 7-fold Amen.

The ones who stayed at home with Ceemcee and their grandmother Dida all the time, looked after them with the utmost care. They tended to all their routine and mundane daily needs conscientiously, very often hard worked, undervalued , unappreciated and perhaps even taken for granted. Some of the Ceemcee Kids who stayed at home, took time out, on a sabbatical to travel to far and distant places of learning, to upgrade and rejuvenate.

The kids who went away, came back for short visits, usually around the second weekend in August. Those who had the same birthdays came back in batches together.There was a lot of fun and games at the Reunions, when they met at the homestead and reminisced. They even had organized entertainment steeped with Nostalgia-and-Remember-When’s, set to music on stage.

When the kids who went away, came back, they were excited to be back home, bright eyed, bushy tailed and rearing to go. They picked up details that the kids who stayed at home could not see, as they were seeing it all the time and had, with time, adapted to accommodating whatever they saw and were living with it, for a multitude of reasons, both cultural and financial .

Neither kids could be faulted. Circumstances had altered and with it, outlook, perspective and priorities had changed.

The kids who came back to visit their Alma Mater, their nourishing Mother, brought newfangled ideas that they had seen, heard and tried out during their stay away from home. They were eager to implement them at home and herald the global winds of change.

The kids who stayed back at home and kept the home fires burning, while they looked after Ceemcee and Dida sincerely day after day, were a tad sceptical and cynical about the changes suggested, as they, undoubtedly, knew the operational problems better at ground zero. They were not impressed with the fly-by-night advisors who left after stirring the water and ruffling feathers.

The simmering resentment between the kids would have escalated, if their Alma Mater, their nourishing mother Ceemcee and their grandmother Dida had not interfered.

Dida and Ceemcee gathered the kids lovingly around them and with great wisdom and patience, they explained it thus to all the kids, the ones who stayed at home and the ones who went away.

“We know that you love us dearly, as we love you.
We have no differences between any of you.
Each one of you is precious and much loved.
We cannot and will not allow these divides.
It pains us to see you disagreeing with each other.”

“Learn from each other.
Respect each other.
And please live together,
Happily ever after.”

“Remember that the kids who went away, love us no less.
Nor do we belong ONLY to the kids who stayed back”

“We love you ALL and belong to ALL of you.
Even the ones who never EVER came back “

Disclaimer….Any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental,

Ayurvedha and Rigor Mortis

Sam loves body massages . I hate it .
One day he dragged me protesting into Ayush, the Ayurvedic corner of the GRT Hotel. There were posters with beautiful Kerala girls on the walls that promised to make a new woman out of me and to banish pains and knots I did not know I had, with magic aromatic oils, reaching parts of my body I could no longer see or reach .
I was led into a candle lit room heavy with the smells of pungent oils . I laid my clothes carefully folded on a small table and wrapped myself in a soft cotton towel, before I climbed up a wooden stool and lay on the cold wooden plank half naked, shivering in fear and trepidation.
A few minutes later a cheerful masseuse, a young girl from Kerala entered and called me Ammachy and made soothing noises all the while stroking my anxious brow. Ammachy relax cheyyu, she coo-ed. All your aches and pains will be so much
better, she promised.
She positioned me carefully on the table as I had overflowed and slipped to the end of the wooden plank ready to flee. She stood at the head end of the plank and held a Muslin bag full of warm amber coloured oil right over my forehead just above my glabella and proceeded to gentle squeeze the oil. Calculated drops of oil fell in mathematical precision onto my forehead , as I lay waiting in anticipation of the next drop.
That done, she proceeded to massage my head and scalp in rhythmic strokes threatening to epilate any hair I had left on my hypersensitive scalp. She then moved to my rudimentary neck that passes insensibly into my trunk and removed the knots in it. She kneaded her way anatomically down to my toes , turned me over and started on my back to start again.
I lay there in Rigor Mortis whimpering “ how much longer? “. The masseuse was amused that I was anxiously waiting for the massage to be over. She told me that her all clients found the whole experience completely relaxing and they usually fell asleep under her magic fingers and had to be woken up when it was all over. AND they always came back, she said . She had never had an Ammachy who did not enjoy her massage. Ammachy relax Cheyyu, she cooed over and over again. Relaxing on the slippery plank was the last thing this reluctant Ammachy had on her mind. I could not wait to get out of the place. The hands on the clock on the wall did not seem to move at all. Are you sure the clock is working I asked her.
When she was done, I  jumped up unceremoniously from the plank and fled to the shower, vowing never to return to any pummeling and pushing and kneading of body parts ever again.
One Ayush massage would last me the rest of my life.

The Angel and the Goat

We had Sunday school classes after the morning service.  Mrs Beebee and Mrs Eames were the faithful duo, the glue that held us all together with the stamps we were given for attendance and good behaviour. They taught us hymns from the Golden Bells. Thanks to their dedication , we knew most of the hymns by heart.

Every Christmas, there was great excitement as the Christ Church Sunday School got ready to do the annual Nativity play. Every year I waited in vain to play a significant role in the play.  The glorious and coveted Angel Gabriel’s role always eluded me.  I would look on in envy, when the Angel Gabriel appeared on stage. She wore a flowing white dress with sequins on it that shimmered under the bright lights that heralded her announcement about the birth of Christ. She  had a pair of magnificent wings that were stitched onto the back of her dress. A pair of wings that arched majestically behind her. A pair of wings she she could spread at will by pulling at a pair of ribbons attached to her flowing gown. A tiara sat on top of the ringlets that crowned her head. In her hand she had a wand that she waved as she flitted across the stage.  Being a trained ballerina, she would pirouette on her toes and glide across the stage.  Here , there and everywhere. She was all of an angel and a fairy rolled into one. An epitome of Grace . And everything that I wanted to be.

One year, I remember, I was a goat again and what was worse, I did not even have a costume to dignify my four footed status. I was mortified. I was covered with a white bed sheet on which “GOAT” was written with a blue marker.  I crouched in front of the stable on all fours and tried not to scowl.  As instructed, I raised my head periodically to go “Baaaaaaaaaaaaa, Baaaaaaaaa”. My mum and Dad never complained. They just smiled and went about their business. Just do what they tell you to, Susie. Don’t sulk…Do it well, they said. If they want you to Baaaaa , Baaaaa well, they said.  They were just pleased that the Pathriar’s daughter had not been exalted in any way.

One year, to my utter delight, I got to be one of the three Kings. I had a crown on my head and I had one of my Mum’s beautiful sarees draped around me and belted at the waist. I carried a carved Kashmiri box depicting one of the gifts of the three Kings. I even had a piece of dialogue to deliver and it did not go ‘Baaaaaaaa”.  I walked on stage with a spring in my step , delivered my lines with flourish and placed my gift at the stable, where the baby Jesus doll lay.

I was a king. A very happy King. I was not a goat .



The second wife

Our first posting in 1973, was to The Gida Kom Leprosy Hospital in Khasadrapchu, a few miles away from Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan.

Before we went to Bhutan, we traveled to Singapore for Rekha’s christening at Christ Church, before My Dad retired on the 31st of December, 1972,  the day before his Birthday on the 1st of January. It was an emotional time for all of us, as my Mum and Dad said goodbye to their extended family, the congregation of Christ Church. Saying goodbye to families that grew up around you, was not an easy task. And, they were moving out of The Parsonage at 118 Keng Lee Road which had been their home for 33 years . Ruthlessly discarding memorabilia to downsize, they moved to a flat in Thomson Ridge.

Soon after he helped settle us into the flat, Sam went to take charge at Gida kom. Rekha and I stayed back, as the Himalayas would have been bitterly cold for the baby in January. The plan was, that we would join him after 3 months when we hoped it would be a little warmer. A few weeks after he landed , he sent me a desperate message, asking us to join him, as he could not stand the loneliness. He said, that as long as he was working and busy, the loneliness did not worry him. But, when he returned to the empty cold house, he said that it was so silent, he could hear his own breathing and it was driving him nuts. Except for the howling of the wind, that rattled the glass panes of the windows, that were shut tight to keep the cold out, the house, he said, was a Mausoleum.

We were on the first flight out to Calcutta and were delirious to be all together again. From Calcutta we flew to Bagdogra, to travel by the Leprosy Mission Landrover to Gida kom.

Whenever I asked Sam how much further we had to climb, he kept dodging saying, Its just here…just here . I believed him and we sat huddled in the land Rover for what seemed like an eternity. We stopped at Taktichu at 10,000 feet above sea level to have coffee at a small kiosk. I could not believe my eyes, when I met the proverbial mundu clad, Malayalee Chettan, bundled up in a monkey cap, muffler and sweater , selling yards of steaming coffee in a tea shop atop the Himalayas. He was just as delighted to meet a saree, someone that he could chat with.  Someone, who knew Malayalam. Out of respect he kept addressing me as “Saar”. Unused to being called “Saar” , I kept looking behind my shoulder to see if he was talking to a gentleman standing behind me.

He’s talking to you, Susie, said an amused Sam. He is talking to you. Get used to it !

After the welcome break , we were bundled up in the Landrover, as we continued to climb. The roads going up, were narrow winding challenges, that managed to let traffic up and down mountain, simultaneously, without metal touching metal, as the vehicles crossed.  The traffic coming down hugged the curve of the mountain. As we were going up, we drove on the cliffside of the road , which sported a sheer drop of several feet. If a car went down , rescue operations would be futile, I was told.

At some spots, I closed my eyes tight, clutched Rekha, who slept through it all, close and whispered Dear God… Dear God…Dear God, through clenched teeth. I had no clue what I was praying for. I could not get past the two words, Dear God . All I knew was that if I called on Him, He would get us safely, to wherever it was that we were going.

The driver’s skills were wasted on me. I was sure that this was the last ride I would ever take on this earth. We were going to hurtle down an unknown mountain to oblivion.  The only mountains I had climbed, growing up on the Island of Singapore, were The Fraser’s Hill and The Cameron Highlands, when we went on holiday in Malaysia. They had now shrunk to pimples on the horizon, when compared to the mountains of the Himalayas.

When I had my eyes open, the sheer beauty of the landscapes we crossed, took my breath away. The mountainside was covered by green forests, with Rhododendrons and Poinsettias waving out from the foliage, that covered the mountain side. Linear Tibetan Prayer Flags, wafted as reassuring colourful strands in the chilling wind, welcoming visitors to the ancient Himalayan Kingdom, instilling a calm and peace, as we rode up . Sometimes a spectacular waterfall would break the monotony, to gush and tumble down the side of the mountain, spraying rainbow colours, as the water spray burst in the air. Far in the distance, the snow capped mountains, peaked as they stood tall and proud, in silent witness of God’s Magnificent Creation.

After about 9 hours of telling me that it was only a short distance away , Sam said Look there it is.   We had finally reached Gida Kom. The Hospital Campus was pitch dark, as there was no electricity. They only had a Hydel Plant that supplied a faint and temperamental flicker of light for about 2 hours in the evening, after which the whole place went to sleep, with Kerosene lit Hurricane Lamps for emergencies. It was several hours after “Hydel Time”, when we finally reached.

We creaked and cranked up the last lap and stopped at the dimly lit Superintendent’s Bungalow.  A crowd of staff and patients were waiting to welcome us. They had been tracking the head lights of the Landrover, for an hour,  as it climbed the last lap of the climb.  Crowding around, they inspected us from head to toe, holding their lamps high up above their heads. Shaking their heads they muttered “Tsk Tsk Tsk “.…and something in Bhutanese that I did not understand “.  I had no idea what was happening. Neither did Sam.

The next morning, we found out what the “Tsk Tsk Tsk’ was all about. Sam had tried to set up the home before we arrived. He had placed some random photographs on the Mantelpiece of the Fireplace. Some of them were from the wedding album. Apparently, they had inspected the photographs on display and they were expecting the slim wife from the wedding photographs, to alight daintily from the car. They were confused to see a chubby person, several kilos richer, stiff with several hours on the road, roll out of the car, bundled up in several layers of warmth.

Thats when they did the Tsk Tsk Tsk. What they muttered in Bhutanese, I believe was …..Poor thing the first wife died and the Doctorsahib married again…  Tsk Tsk Tsk… 





A Perspective

A mother in Delhi had to go to work. She works as a maid in a few houses to earn Rupees more, but she can not afford a babysitter. All that she and her husband earn goes towards running the home. She used to leave her baby with their sister-in-law, who lived in the neighbourhood .

On the 28th of January the sister-in-law’s 28 year old son, raped the 8 month baby left in their care.

You could not blame the rape on the clothes that the baby wore. You could not accuse the baby of flirting or being provocative.  There was no dark alley and you could not blame the rape on the hour she returned home. There was no alcohol on her breath. Just a faint smell of her mother’s stale milk. The drugs and IV shots came much later, when she was admitted bleeding to AIIMS.

The incident happened on the 28th of January and it was reported in the news. The viewers gasped for a minute, froze in shock and went back to what they were doing.  It was business as usual.

The Parliament discussed the New Budget. The TV Stations projected figures and graphs and had debates with panels of experts who translated the SOPs in laymen’s terms to the Viewers. Every Indian discussed the budget.They discussed it with their families and with absolute strangers, They discussed it in the train, in the plane , in the plains and on the mountain tops.

No one remembered the mutilated, maimed for life,  8 month baby , a hospital number , a mere statistic .

We had some visitors in the evening. They were young gentlemen from sound and studious backgrounds and inevitably the conversation veered towards the Budget. When I asked if a country will ever have a robust economy, if they do not address the Relentless Rot of Rape of its Women and Children, they looked uncomfortable and squirmed in their chairs.  Was it not threatening to ruin the fibre , the fabric and the future of the Country, I asked.

They looked at me, as if I was a senior cretin, having a senior moment , talking out of turn and context .The Economy and the Rape of women are not related,  explained the young man seated next to me, in a patient and tired voice, as he patted my hand .

The parliament discussed a law for two hours on the 3rd February, that would pass the death sentence on humans caught slaughtering a cow. No mention of stricter laws and punishment for Rapists, child or adult.

The injured and mauled eight month baby, old news by now, lies in an ICU in AIIMS fighting for her life, after multiple surgeries. She does not figure in any vote bank. She will not be able to vote people into power. Not for a long long while, given her prognosis.

Will all the cows saved by stricter laws, vote people into power, I wonder ?

What is our world coming to ?






The Bridal Makeover

To preserve our Indian-ness, I was never allowed to cut my hair short.

I had thick, long, straight, black hair that lived on my head, but belonged to my Mum and my Aunts. It did whatever they wanted it to, on a time-table of its own. It was oiled and washed and combed and sprung like 2 braided antennae, from the top of my head, just above my ears. Never cut, at some point, it fell down to the back of my knees.

Now that I am Bald and Bootiful, how I wish, I could have, what I once thought, was the bane of my life , back on my head.

I had never ever been to a Beauty Parlour in all my life, till the morning of my wedding. After the Communion Service for the family at Christ Church, I was packed off to a Chinese Beauty Parlour with Mrs. Beebee, the Organist at Christ Church. She dropped me off at the Parlour and drove back, to complete the Flower arrangements in the Church, saying that she would pick me up when I was ready.

I had no idea what I was in for. The girls in the Parlour could not believe their ears, when I told them that I had never been to a Beauty Parlour before. They could not believe that I had never had a facial, a manicure, a pedicure, a bleach, wax or threading done. They could not believe that a young doctor at 25 , could be so unsophisticated.

Unbelievable……they exclaimed

Shaking their heads, they led me to a chair facing a huge mirror and took my glasses off. Without my glasses, I cannot see a thing, not even my dreams. I cringed as they breathed on me and examined every square inch of my face. I was wondering if I could make a dash to the door, when they pinned my arms down, tied me up in a pinafore and went to work on my face.

Ignoring my anxious whimpers of pain, they started with my eyebrows. I had a pair of furry caterpillar like eyebrows, that met comfortably on my forehead. They never bothered anyone and no one ever bothered them. The Beauticians tilted my head back and two of them worked on each side. They threaded each one, into thin shapely arches which made me look as if I was in a constant state of startled surprise. What they could not thread, they plucked out mercilessly.

Then they started on my upper lip. I must have looked like Jenghis Khan, as no beautician’s hand had ever traveled there before. They spread warm wax, on strips of mull cloth and plastered it down, onto my upper lip. In one fell sweep, they pulled off the strips of mull cloth, with a layer of me on it. The pain was excruciating. They were treading on dangerous ground, my Little’s area, the anatomical triangle between the bridge of my nose and my upper lip. Any injury or infection would go straight to the Cavernous Sinus in my brain and cause certain death, I remembered. Did they care? No, they did not and they continued to wax, thread and pluck out everything I had ever owned, on my upper lip. Smarting with tears, I let them numb the area with ice cubes, experiencing pain at a different level.

They then propped me up and let my hair down. This may have been the distraction that saved my life. They had never seen straight black hair that reached anyone’s knees. They held a huddle to see what would suit me best.

A flat hairdo for a corpse in a coffin, I thought, sure that I would never leave the building alive.

Finally they dragged me off to a sink. I had to sit with my back to the sink with my head tilted precariously back in it. I am not tall. Nor, do I have a long swan like neck. My head passes insensibly into my trunk, with no apology. I placed my rudimentary neck gingerly on the edge of the sink and closed my eyes, as I waited for the onslaught water. When they had washed and conditioned all three and a half feet of my hair, they let me go, only to pin me down again and dry me off.

Exhausted and hungry I sat there, while they curled and crafted, a coiffure, that perched on top of my head, quite different from the sensible everything-pulled- back-knotted-out-of-the-way hairdo that I normally wore to work. When they finally turned me around to face the mirror I stared at a stranger who looked vaguely familiar. Not one bit like the unsuspecting naïve nerd, who had breezed into the parlour a lifetime ago.

How on earth are the veil and tiara going to sit on top of all this? I wondered to myself.
Sam will never recognise me.

They stepped back to survey me. They seemed quite satisfied with their handiwork and finally let me go when I said that my best friend, Evelyn, was coming home to dress me up and do my make-up, another first for me.

When I reached home for lunch, Evelyn was waiting for me. I was sent off for a shower with strict instructions not to damage my hairdo.

Evelyn had come with her Magic Make-up box. She whipped it out and opened jars that cleansed and toned my face. She then applied the make up, matte, highlights, and blush, finishing with the lip-liner and the lipstick. While she worked on my make-over, Evelyn gave me the pep talk of my life, including a primer on the birds and the bees. She felt she was in a POA, position of authority, as she was married to Joe and had just become a young mother to Yohindran.

Its going to streak down my face, Evelyn .…I moaned
It’s such a hot afternoon
Just shut up and keep still, Sue ...she ordered 

When she had finished with my face, she made me step into my shoes. The high heels matched the cream of my wedding saree and were quite delightful.  They had straps with bling and little bells that chinked when I moved.  Evelyn then helped me drape my wedding saree. Normally, bridal sarees are bought in Madras, but My Mum and I found this exquisite saree, we both liked instantly in Mr. P. Govindaswamy’s Saree Shop in Singapore and we did not look any further.  It was a cream Benares, with small motifs, in a matt gold weave, that shimmered in the light.

It was the most amazing saree that I had ever worn in my life. It draped well with every pleat in place. Evelyn then placed the tiara on my head and threaded my veil through it, with half of it covering my face and half of it trailing down my back to my waist.

I felt like a bride.

Never thought of contact lenses?  Evelyn asked
I did , I replied , in my third year of College,
What happened? she asked. They popped out during the trial… I said. The optician and I were on all fours, groping for them.

Then she did the unthinkable. She whisked my glasses away.
You are not to wear them for the wedding , she ordered.
They are so ugly…. she hissed, pretending to puke They are so ugly…
I don’t know who you look like, Sue..
Batman or Catwoman

Only a good friend, with whom you have grown up, can make outrageously rude remarks like that and get away with it. Only good friends can then roll about and cackle in gay abandon.

Blind and veiled, I walked up the aisle on my father’s arm. After the service I walked down the aisle on Sam’s arm. Up and Down, I was lead blind. The smartest thing that I could do, in this state of Utter-Blur, was to flash a fixed blank smile at the crowd, so that I would not appear rude, if I did not greet smile with smile.

That is how all our wedding photos have me smiling like a Cheshire cat, wearing a prophylactic, plastic smile, plastered on my face. When the wedding photographs arrived, my mum took one look at them and gave one of her disapproving Hrmmphs that conveyed more than a thousand written words.

No shy blushing bride this…. she said.
All her teeth are out……………Hrmmph

Rekha and the Goat

When Rekha started her driving lessons, she did them around the Defence Colony grounds.

Every morning, before she left for Medical College, the driving instructor would arrive and take her for a lesson on the open grounds that extended from the Main road that lead to the Defence Colony, to the National Highway of the War Cemetery . This was also the open space that many of the villagers used to let their livestock loose to graze. It was not uncommon to see Red L plates weaving nervously between cattle and goats.

One morning, Rekha came back from the driving class,  a little shaken.  Mummy , she said, throwing the car keys on the table. I think I had a close shave . Alarmed I looked up . I almost knocked down a baby goat, she said. Thank God, I slammed the brakes in time. I agreed thankfully. Thank God Rekha , I said with enormous relief.

Neither of us thought anything more about it . We left in a little while, she for College and I for the Clinic. I picked her up from College after work and brought her home. Our gate is always kept locked, as the dogs would run out, given half a chance. When they hear the car horn, all 4 dogs would rush out and jump at the locked gate barking wildly. They made such a ruckus, I was sure that our neighbours, the Chadas of 209, would have complained bitterly , or moved , if they were not dog lovers themselves, with half a dozen dogs in their compound, at any point of time.

Clayton our Cook , would come to the gate and shoo all the dogs behind the dog’s wicker gate, in front of the garage and close it carefully,  before he opened the iron gate to  let the car in. This could take from 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how frisky and excited the dogs were to see us back.

This was all the time it would take Anish, who would have come back from school and would be hanging out of his window on the first floor, to give me a blow by blow account of all of that had happened in my absence. Mummy you will never believe what happened today, he would start in his best conspiratorial voice, as he proceeded to tell me exactly what had happened. I was always so well informed before I entered the home. I knew exactly who had done what, to whom , when and where.

As we turned in, I noticed that he was more excited than usual and was brimming over with news to tell. Rekha, you know what you did… you killed a goat. You killed a goat. Rekha paled in fright. Mummy, she whispered, I never touched the goat. She looked as if she was going to burst into tears. Calm down Rekha. Let’s find out what happened, I said, as we parked and ran in. By then Anish was doing an elaborate re-run with audiovisuals.

Luckily, Sam was at home when the Mob arrived to extort some money from us, as compensation for the goat they claimed Rekha had run over . They arrived half an hour after we had left. They were belligerent and demanded that we pay for the goat, they claimed Rekha had knocked down, during her driving lesson in the morning. We are not leaving till we get the money,  they threatened menacingly hanging over the gate. Sam listened very carefully and commiserated with their loss. Of course we will pay for the goat , he said. Of course we will pay for the goat. Just bring the goat and we will pay for it.

In his mind’s eye, we were sitting down to Mutton Biriani for dinner.   

The Mob was flummoxed, as they had no dead goat to produce as evidence. They conferred among themselves and said that they would come back with the Goat and left. Keep the money ready, they hissed as as they dispersed. We will be back, they promised.

Nobody came back and no dead goat was brought as exhibit A. Sam thought that we had seen the last of them, when a thinner, more subdued crowd arrived at the gate, with the head of a goat, at 4 pm. It was a dry specimen with no blood dripping down and it looked suspiciously like the dismembered head of a goat that is usually hung as display, at the Butcher’s shops, after the goat was sacrificed for meat.

Sam never lost his cool. A deal is a deal, he said. I told you that we would pay for the goat. Give me the goat, take the money and leave. The hemmed and hawed and shuffled sheepishly. Eventually they left with the forlorn head of the goat, without any money passing hands. Good try thought Sam mentally as the Mini Mob left the gate.

Rekha was visibly relieved . Mummy and Daddy she said in a quivery voice, I never killed the goat. I never even touched it. Shut up Anish. Tell him to shut up Mummy. 

She was extremely reluctant to go for the driving class when the driving instructor arrived. Get into the car , Rekha , I told her as I pushed her into the driver’s seat the next day. You did not do anything wrong . Go and finish your lessons. You did not do anything wrong.

She finished her driving course and she did get her driving license. But we could never pass a goat, a Capra Aegagrus Hircus, without Anish teasing her as only a brother can.

Look Rekha …Goat….Mutton Biriani…look Rekha …Goatie…Goatie…look Rekha , Look…




Anish and his Menagerie

Anish’s love for animals surfaced early in life.

His love of fish is legendary. We have had fish in every shape and colour swimming in tanks all over the house. Tanks that leaked , tanks that creaked, tanks that overflowed and tanks that did not.

At one stage, when we lived at 208 Defence Colony, we had 4 dogs of different ages, breed and gender , 2 man eating baby piranhas in a cement tank in the garden, a golden Arrowana that swam alone in a 6 foot tank in the front verandah, an Oscar and an assorted school of fish swimming in a tank in the Dining Room , a rattle snake that roamed the house, when it wasn’t in his pocket , Dodi, a baby bull tied to the mango tree in the centre of our back yard and a blur of white love birds that pelted poop indiscriminately on the back verandah.

When he brought the dogs home, he would look as woebegone as the K9. You will never see him Mummy, You will never hear him, I promise, I will walk the dog, I will feed the dog, I will bathe the dog…just watch…Please Mummy…Promise Mummy…Wild promises on his part and wishful thinking on mine.

One day, he came home with a snake. It was a checkered keelback snake. It came out of his shirt pocket, crawled around his neck and wriggled back into his pocket. I looked on in horror while Baba looked at his performing reptile, with pride.   Look Mummy …Look. The bored snake rattled the rest of the family, when it decided to explore and  disappeared from the confines of Anish’s front pocket . All hell broke loose when Anish ran down the steps yelling The snake has gone , the snake has gone.  We dropped everything we were doing and searched high and low, for something we did not really want to find. It took us all day to find Mr. Snake, comfortably curled around the cross on the altar we had near the entrance.

When he was older, Anish ran a business from home.  He made Biriani and sold it to the local departmental stores. When he made a little money, he decided to buy a Bull. That was around the time, that Princess Diana had died and Dodi was in the news.  The Baby bull was christened, Dodi. We tried to persuade him to leave Dodi at our acre on the ECR road. Dodi could roam free, graze where he wanted and would have the under worked and overpaid caretaker, who was just a phone call away, to look after him. He refused. He would not be parted from Dodi.

Dodi was tied to the Mango tree in the centre of our cemented Backyard and shared space with our 4 dogs,  Snoopy, Tootsie, Tiny and Papoo. if you looked out of our window, you would see a baby Bull and four Canines living in Peace and Harmony under the shade of the lush and luxuriant Mango tree. That was fine during the dry months in Chennai. When it started raining one night, the dogs ran for shelter, without a backward glance at their differently hoofed friend. Poor Dodi could not run, as he was helpless and tied to the mango tree.

Anish woke up to thunder and lightening and came charging into our Room. Mummy, wake up, wake up. We have to get Dodi out of the Rain. Mummy wake up.

I leapt out of bed and followed him down the stairs.We opened the back door, ran out and untied Dodi, who was shaking and shivering in the rain. Clutching him close , Anish ran and placed him on the tiled back verandah. Four wet hooves on a smooth tiled surface can only go one way.  Dodi slipped and slithered all over the place , as did Anish, who was also drenched. Not to be left out, I jumped into the fray and the three of us glissaded in gay abandon over the green tiles of the Balcony. Finally, we managed to grip the railings of the window and hoist ourselves up.

Running into the house, Anish reappeared with a mattress, no correct that to the new spare mattress, from the guest room. I was speechless, but watched silently, as he laid it down on the floor and carried Dodi to dry cotton. Relieved, Dodi decided to relieve himself and rained even sized, black pellets all over the mattress.

Meanwhile the white love birds, who were rudely awakened and watching the tax free entertainment from the safety of their dry cages, perched in single file and protested in shrill, discordant notes of fear. The sets of the Opera were now slipping from the Gross to the Ridiculous.

In the morning, when it stopped raining , without a single word, Anish packed Dodi and the worse for wear, new mattress, into the back of his Gypsy and took him to the Acre and left him to graze in freedom on the ECR.












My Grandmother’s Chicken Curry

Most meals at the Cadavanaltharayil House were served on a long wooden table  with two long benches on either side when the family sat down in batches to be fed. The younger ones were carried around on the hip and force fed.

The elder siblings would straddle a younger sibling on their hip and walk around the compound with a bowl of food in their hand.  Distracted by the butterflies, the birds and the bees that flew around their heads, the babies would open their stubborn mouths and food would be pushed in unceremoniously. Till the babies were uncomfortably full and spat in protest

Ducks, turkeys and chicken squawked in coops at the back of the house, closely guarding their eggs.The hoofed cows and buffaloes that shared the backyard were milked, while some were used to plough the fields.

My Grandmother’s Chicken Curry, is a light, flavour full ‘SMORE kind of Chicken Curry that tastes best when cooked on a slow wood fire in an earthenware Chatti.

The pieces of chicken are cooked in thin coconut milk and the curry is seasoned only after it is cooked. It is not confused by conflicting spices or dripping with oil. Its the kind that you drown bowls of steaming hot rice in.

                                    My Grandmother’s Chicken Curry

1 Chicken, skin removed and cut into medium pieces, 2 cups sliced shallots, 4 large ripe tomatoes quartered , 1 whole head of garlic peeled and sliced fine, 8 green chillies slit, 1.5 ” ginger slivered, 10 pepper corns, 1 stick of cinnamon, 10 cloves, 6 cardamoms, 2 Star Anise, curry leaves with stems attached, 4 potatoes quartered, 1.5 Tbsp Chilli  powder, 2 Tbsp Coriander Powder, I tsp Jeera, 2 tsp roasted Fennel powder, 1 tsp Pepper Powder, 1/2 tsp Garam Masala, 1 whole coconut scraped and squeezed to yield 1 cup thick coconut milk and 2 cups thin coconut milk, Juice of 1 lime, season with 3 tsp Coconut oil, 1tsp Mustard seeds  .

Place the chicken in the pot and marinade with everything, except the thick and thin coconut milk, for half hour or more if possible. Place the pot on a low flame and slow cook till the juices flow out, without adding any water.  Add the 2 cups of thin coconut milk and cook till done. Add the thick coconut milk and take the pan off the fire before the curry curdles. In a separate pan splutter the mustard seeds in coconut oil , add sprigs of curry leaves till crisp and add to the curry. Serve with hot steaming rice and salad. binäre optionen rentabel Absolutely divine comfort food