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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Semiya Payasam for Dummies - Happy Onam!

It is Onam. The time of the year when my friends at Kerala wear traditional attires and pose away to glory and hog on Onasadya. As if it wasn't enough they take pictures and upload on facebook, turning their NRI counterparts go green with envy. Well I should say that Onam is as huge over here, thanks to the malayalee population. Yesterday we were at the supermarket and they were even selling stuff we think will be available only in Kerala! I was surprised.

More importantly I was on a mission. To make a payasam. Semiya payasam, For the dummy that I am in cooking this one was a very appreciable task I tell you. Usually I never leave any stone unturned to praise myself(blogging is one of the ways I achieve that).

So if there are any dumbos in cooking who is reading this, here goes a Semiya Payasam recipe, just for you!

(I followed the recipe from Mariasmenu. You can get the actual recipe here.)

Stuff you might need:
Semiya/Vermicelli -  200gm 
Milk – 2 litres. ( I used low fat milk- full fat milk is usually used in making payasams, but I used low fat so that something goes wrong L)
Sugar/Condensed Milk

Initially, I brought the milk to a boil and kept it aside. In another pan, I roasted the vermicelli until it turned golden brown. After some time my son who was sitting in the kitchen chair playing with some spoons wanted me to pick him up, so the rest of the cooking was done with one hand and him on the other- no it doesn't make any difference to the payasam.  Then I took a non stick small pan, added some ghee, and roasted the cashews and raisins. The raisins bloated up, and cashews turned golden brown and the I let it cool and ran to do some errands. The kiddo wasn’t happy with me concentrating on the stove when he actually wanted me to play with his blue helicopter.

Later I was back, and added the milk to the semiya , and kept stirring. I guess if the stirring is skipped, the semiya gets stuck or may even form lumps at the bottom which might provoke my husband to say ‘See? I told you to stay away from the kitchen’ and me wanting to pull my hair out. I checked the recipe and it said, “cook till the semiya is fully done”. Okay so when is that gonna happen? Will anyone specify when to know that the semiya is done? You are a programmer, get logical, my head said. I took a look at the picture in the recipe. It showed a payasam, all creamy, with semiya floating on top. Okay that means, when the semiya is done the milk will get thick and semiya will float. So the stirring was continuously done till that was achieved. My son wanted to stir too, but I advised him to wait until he gets a wife who is as good at cooking as I am. After that I added condensed milk and kept checking it for taste and thus consumed atleast a quarter of the payasam myself in the process.

Later thankfully the semiya floated and milk got creamy and I added the raisins on top. It looked beautiful and I immediately took a few pictures on my mobile and sent them to few contacts on whatsapp who ‘Oooh’ed and ‘Aah’ed at them..I  have amazing friends you see.

So that’s how I celebrated Onam. Today we have booked Onam meal at a very elegant Kerala restaurant. We are getting a parcel for my maid as well. My one year old’s lunch is not decided yet. The sad thing is, it’s a working day today and I will miss all those movies. Its okay…to be in a different country and being able to celebrate Onam itself is a blessing. I am content. *burp*

Happy Onam to one and all!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Weekend Dejunking!

Lately, I’d been basking in the success of my previous post, as it had become a runaway hit. Thanks to my sister who wrote it, and to Roshan Radhakrishnan the premium blogger at Blogadda who chose it as the Saturday pick of the week . My blog was thus bestowed with a much needed rejuvenation and attention. That is the benefit of having siblings who write well, and are kind enough to contribute (succumbing to torture).

Well, two weeks down the line I was still refreshing my page for any comments that might be waiting in the pipeline when realization dawned on me that it is time to update it.
So the update from my side is that, we are on the lookout for a bigger apartment here in Muscat and ALMOST landed one. We are in queue and may or may not get the flat. But if at all we get it, the thought of shifting from here had my head spinning. Two years it is, since we moved in here, and I cannot remember the last time I cleared junk out of this house. Well in all the two years I was pregnant for nine months, and now my son is one so you can’t expect me to clear the junk. My husband is totally unaware of any junk in the house, obviously because he is unable to identify junk from everything else, including me. I usually do not let my housemaid do any clearing, as she may clear out our degree certificates saying they were invalid pieces of paper.

A well deserved long weekend came my way and the super enthusiastic me kicked off the cleaning ritual starting from my husband’s cupboard where he stored some papers and boxes. Holy Cow. How many keyboards are a person expected to buy in his lifetime? No prizes for guessing, as I am unsure too. I got countless boxes in which these wireless keyboards came from. Not to mention other boxes of hard disks, USB, tie, trimmer, router, mobile phone, camera , dishtv set top  box, and only God knows what. It looked like a warehouse of Jumbo Electronics. When I cleared the boxes, there was enough space in the cupboard for him and his friends to sit and have a beer. I proceeded to the next. There I found old magazines, at least 20 newspapers, dvd covers with no dvd in them, blank paper to name a few. Those were cleared too. 

It took me a whole day, but the outcome was fulfilling. The house felt lighter, the room looked bigger, the ac seemed to be working better and the overall feeling of tidiness was unexplainable. I haven’t started with the wardrobe yet, but once I do I am sure to find a lot of junk there as well. I hope to carry only the useful stuff if we are lucky enough to get the flat! 

On a different note - An incident happened last week when on a public forum a NRI woman insulted our country and its culture. I couldn’t control myself and wrote a graceful yet strong reply to it, and this woman started throwing brickbats at me using foul language. After reading that, my palm was sweating and forehead burning in anger and the feeling of revenge started engulfing me. I composed imaginary replies to it in my head. Later I asked myself… well foul language is a mirror to the upbringing and culture of a person. My parents wouldn’t be proud of me, if I replied to it on the same note, right? So I left it at that and did not respond. That person tried to email me repeatedly saying that she left me a message on the forum, thus provoking me in every way possible. I refused to respond. I even stopped thinking about it, except now ;-) By the way, Happy Independence Day, you guys!

So to sum it up, this weekend I cleared the junk off my cupboards ...and from my head. 
What did you do?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Anecdotes from my encounter with Life. - A guest post.

After three years of relentlessly torturing my readers, I decided to give you guys a break and requested my sister, Anjana Jaison for a guest post. She is basically an Electronics and Instrumentation Engineer, residing at Chennai, India. She is one person who will laugh at all your jokes - even the PJs. This hysterical laughter is her trademark, and she is solely responsible to have encouraged many people who started their efforts to be funny with poor jokes, and are now human versions of sheer boredom. Ironically, she has a good sense of humor herself :-| 

She also has a good vocabulary, a good command over the language but will not admit to any of it. She is also very good at Maths and English - the basics are right in place. She cannot make a drawing or a simple sketch, no not even a straight line. She has directly inherited the culinary skills from my Mom, and some of the most unforgettable treats for my taste buds were prepared and served by her. 

So here goes her first guest post on my blog, after months of requests, threats and torture. 

                                                                    That's us! 

So I finally give in to the sibling’s torture and decide to write a guest post for her blog. No, I have not written before apart from the 140 character limit tweets. So please bear with me!
Here are some of the biggest lessons from my life…

1.       It never rains, but pours.
Have you had a bad hair day? I’ve had lots of it. Some days I feel I might even have a no-hair day. These are days when you seem to have woken up on the wrong side of the bed and others when everyone around you seems to have woken up on the wrong side of their beds. The ones when the other queue seems to move faster and as soon as you move to that one, the counter closes for an hour long lunch break. Everything seems to go downhill from there… You might even wonder why all the bad stuff seem to come together. But that’s the law of nature. When it decides to screw you, it does a total good job of it. Murphy, the world’s greatest philosopher said: “If anything can go wrong, it will…and at the worst possible time”.

2.      Necessity is the mother of invention.
No truer words have ever been said. You think you can’t jump over a wall? Maybe. But if you are chased by a dog, it just comes to you!
I used to be a very quiet person. Then one particularly difficult day, I realised that no one will talk for me, and if I have to save myself, I have to open my mouth and talk for myself. Although the disappointment at suddenly being alone was great, it taught me an important lesson. It all seems hard till you really need to do it and you have no other go. The worst of times actually makes you strong. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

3.      Food is the biggest healer. Ever.
Do you console yourself by thinking that time heals all wounds? I don’t. Cos I know that time doesn’t heal all wounds. For me, food does it. I overeat when I am sad. I overeat when I am happy too, but, that’s another story! So, I have been going through a rough phase for the past one year. Yeah, you guessed it right. I ate my way through it. And now I am 10 kg heavier but I don’t worry about my troubles anymore. Cos now, I don’t fit into any of my clothes and have to worry about what to wear the next day!

4.      Move on.
I am notorious for dwelling in the past. I just can’t let it go. Regrets are my favourite past-time. I think about what should have been, could have been, shouldn’t have been and what ought to have been and anything else from what is to be done right now.
Living in the past, robs today’s happiness. By worrying, you are letting the past cripple your progress, when you actually just need to move on and do what is to be done next.
Moral of the story? No one cares if you are miserable. So you might as well be happy!!! Simble! :P

5.      “By the time a man realizes that his father was right, he has a son who thinks he's wrong.”
I am sure you don’t like to admit this. I don’t too. But then, this is one of the things you get to learn the hard way. Yesterday, I was screaming at my 7 yo during the morning rush (that’s when she eats my head for breakfast), and realized with horror that the words that were coming out of my mouth, were my mom’s! Verbatim. I bet at least some of you have experienced this. After the initial horror has passed, you realize that your mom/dad was right. And then on, you are desperately waiting for the kid to grown up and have kids, and realise that you were right!

6.      One man’s food is another man’s poison
I am sure all of us have experienced this in our lives, in various degrees.
An example: Papa: “Sardines? They stink up the whole place!”
Me: *GASP* *hurt* “How can you say that? They smell/taste heavenly.”
You get an idea!
Apart from the very literal translation, there are other examples too:
Friends: “You like Azharuddin?? :O What are you? Blind?”
Me: “What do you mean by like? I LOVE him!!”
Get the idea?!
Apart from the jokes, yes, I adored the man. I even wanted to marry him! Stupid desires of teenage! An uncle consoled me thus when he got married to his second wife, “Don’t worry mole… He is a Muslim. He can marry thrice. You still have hope.” That stopped the tears for a very long time! :D

7.      Never judge a book by its cover.
My first impression of people always changes and most often for the better. But unfortunately, by the time you realize that most people are like white-washed graves, it is always too late.
I have also learnt to have my own opinion of people/things, no matter what my friends thought of him/her.
And about judging people, I am careful now. The Universe has made sure that I go begging for help to every person I had underestimated/biased against, for no particular reason.

Corollary: A mule dressed in a tuxedo is still a mule! :P

8.     Assumption is the mother of all fuck ups!

I assume a lot. A LOT. Almost 80% of the things that happen in my world, happens in my mind! If someone doesn’t answer my call, I assume that they are mad at me. In my mind, I make up possible reasons for them to be mad at me. Then I go ahead and have a conversation with them in my mind which consists of mostly heated arguments. By the time, this person wakes up from sleep, sees my call and calls back, I am mad at them for being mad at me and for calling me names in my imagined conversation!!! Of course, they have no idea why I am cranky!
The typical story of “Borrowing a jack”!!! Those of you who have not read the story can read it here:

If assumption is the mother, comparison must be the father. Comparison is the root cause of all agony. I have looked at my problems closely. I had to. When my assumptions were getting out of hand!
I realised that every mental agony is, in one way or the other, caused by a comparison I made. This must be the best realization that I had in my entire life. This however, did not stop me from making comparisons from time to time. Nothing good comes of it though. After all, life is all about accepting yourself the way you are, and being happy with it.

9.      Laughter is the best medicine.
Someone in office said that I have the weirdest laughter she has ever heard. Once upon a time, I would have been offended by that. But now, I have seen enough in life to take it as a compliment. Because, if you take the time to look around at the kind of problems people face, you will realize that being able to laugh itself is a blessing. Yeah, I do have a weird n loud laugh. But it never fails to make me feel better. It is not a laugh if you don’t do it heartily.

10.  The best trait that can ever be inherited is the habit of reading.
Enough said!!! Keh diya na, bas keh diya! :P

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