Saturday, March 31, 2007

Saabudana Khichdi

After almost a month of silence, and letting monkeys take over my blog, I, Sqrl, am back. :)

Well I like to play by the book. Especially when cooking. And there are a few books whose recipes I never ever mess with. One of them is 'Perfect Recipes'. The recipes in this book aren't exactly perfect, but is an encyclopedia for me. It is a book my grandfather gave me when I first came to the US, and I use it almost everyday. More than for new and exotic recipes, I refer to it mainly for the age old tried and tested recipes, just to check if I am missing out any ingredients as I cook.

So today I made sabudanaa khichdi. I used only the ingredients specified, though probably not in the same proportions. ( For me, cooking has never been about proportions, but more about timing and figuring out what to do next based on the smell and appearance of whats cooking)

The recipe called for the following ingredients

Sabudaana 200 gms
Jeera 1 teaspoon
4 hot chillies, chopped finely
1 small potato, finely sliced, such that each slice is almost translucent
1 palm full of peanuts. The original recipe uses ground peanuts, but since my mixer was in the dishwasher, I used peanuts coarsely smashed by my cutting board.

Things to be done beforehand:

Wash the Sabudaana and leave them aside for 5-6 hours before actually starting to cook.

Once that's done:

Heat 1 capful of oil in a pot
Add the chillies and jeera and keep turning them around in the pot till you can smell the roasted jeera.
Add the potatoes and keep occasionally turning till you can see that the potatoes have softened and become translucent.
Add the peanuts and keep going for a couple of minutes.
Then add the star of the dish, the saabudana.
Turn, turn turn. Occasionally.
If you think it's too dry sprinkle some oil, but no water please!
Add salt and sugar.
Garnish with cilantro.
Serve hot. Eat. Appreciate.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Unproductive Monkey

I cannot believe it. Just at the start of this week I was happy for no reason after my return from Florida. The sunny weather had made me irrationally upbeat. Like corn popping in the popcorn machine I was jumping about at work and at home, ready to take on anything thrown my way.
But today...I am back to the slow, feet dragging, pachydermish pace of doing things that I dread. How do I accomplish the emotional equivalent of kicking myself in the butt?

Options presented:1) Kick myself in the butt. Not very tempting. Would rather kick someone else. Not viable.

2) 10 Minute Yoga....
oh gawd...I cannot even complete a simple blog post. Something is really wrong with me.


This takes place between Lunch Time and Go Home Time.

Chumky Monkey Stares at screen.Chumky Monkey stalks people on Orkut.Chumky Monkey chatters with colleagues. Chumky Monkey gets minimal work accomplished.

Chumky Monkey is certain there is a terrorist in our group. That could be the only explanation for the extreme boredom and laziness she feels.

Chumky Monkey decides to take things in her own hands. She drives to QuickChek. Browses numerous aisles...ah there it is....right by Mikes Hard Lemonade. BLAK. Fusion Carbonated Coffee Drink. Yum.

The following takes place between QuickChek and Back to Work.

Chumky Monkey kills terrorists in the brain by gulping entire bottle of Blak in one shot. Parking Lot bevdagiri. Sort of. Uhm...weird.caffeine.takes.over...

Chumky Monkey cuts off evil 16 yr old kid who didn't hold door open for her in the shop. Laffs in his face. Accelerates to 25 mph ( Chumky Monkey is just high, not stupid so will not push the limits).

Back at work.Types out most random blog entry at a break neck speed. Bitch slaps colleague who dares enter her cubicle territory. Takes a moment to think of her Heros - Hanuman & MONKEY.

Back to being productive!!! I hope it lasts for a minute atleast.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

U no its st2pid

Seems like as the designated Chumky Monkey all my posts seem to be about what I hate. Oh, what the heck.

As I'm pret sure most of u r 2, d sms style o ritin gets 2 me. I cant even do it really. I take a min at least 2 send Sqrl a txt msg and 5 secs after hitting 'send' i get a reply frm her. Since Sqrl has free txting, she does not think 2wice b 4 making me pay cents on every incoming and outgoing msg. Well in India whr ppl r butbutbuting on d r phones all d time, the abbrevs r worse.

I don't mind a few abbrevs. But PLEASE. CUM is NOT an acceptable substitute for come. No. It. Will. Not. Do. As disgustingly hilarious the outcomes are, it is just wrong and you end up making a fool of yourself. ACTUAL Samples :

" wen r u cumin?"
" Let me take taxi so dat I can cum faster"
" cum on""cum fast"
" hey am working 4 news channel dats y it cums naturally"

Sqrl tries to censor me when I post such stuff, but hey...cum on!!!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

And then the man vanished into thin air..

Every now and then I come across people who vanish into thin air. Well, no they don't really vanish, but I tune their voices out, and so they vanish out of MY life. It's just that at some point, conversation takes a boring or ridiculous turn, and I end up making that person vanish, just to keep things interesting.

In any case, the conversation that leads up to the vanishing, is sometimes interesting, and reveals a part of my personality unknown until now ( Oh well, not to me, but you) .

So I'd like to share, ever so often, my conversations with vanishing people.

Here's one.

At the supermarket:

I am walking in an aisle, looking for the best cereal General Mills has to offer.

A booming voice asks me: 'What are you so angry about?'

I look up, the voice belongs to a surprisingly small man, who looks even smaller in the North Face laadi paav jacket he's wearing.

'Who me?' I ask in my most surprised tone.

Petite man with woofer in throat surprises me even more.

'Hey, hey! Don't get mad. Don't beat me up. I'm leaving', he says.

And then vanishes into thin air.

(Well, he actually moved on to the next aisle.)

Part of personality revealed: The lack of choice in breakfast cereal make me hopping mad. Don't mess with me in the cereal aisle.

A Midsummer Afternoon's Story

Last summer I was sitting at one of the picnic tables on campus enjoying my lunch, when suddenly I felt someone next to me. When I looked up and saw a man who looked straight out the Matrix. And completely out of place amongst people dressed in white, beige or pastel shades.

He was holding something in his huge hands. I could not see what it was.

He asked me in a deep, calm voice. 'Are you really happy with your life?'

My own reaction surprised me. Without missing a beat, I answered with a big beaming smile," Yes, actually I am.'

And the man's smile quivered. I thought I saw a tear drop, but it could have been sweat. In any case, I was breaking this man. Recomposing himself, he asked me, 'Are you sure? Is there nothing in your life that is making you unhappy?'

'No, there isn't! I am completely satisfied with the way my life has turned out until now, and I dont have any regrets. In fact, today might just be the happiest day in my life so far!'

(Confession: Making his smile droop like that made me a little happier than I was before..)

Poof! First the smile disappeared and then the man vanished into thin air. I don't know who he was or even if he was real, but all I know is that I will remember that day, as a day when I realised I was truly happy, and there wasnt anything to worry about.

(Confession: Ok, he didn't really disappear into thin air, he was just trying to sell me some Scientology, but making him vanish made my life sound more interesting.)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Sterilizing sponges in a desi kitchen

So in the recent past there were many reports out there about how microwaving is efficient to sterilize kitchen sponges.

Now while this is indeed an efficient technique to kill all the offensive buggers hiding in your sponges, it is also a fire hazard if the sponge dries while you are nuking it. (Thus warn the people who did the study)

So, is there an alternative way of killing those offensive critters?

Yes, there is.

The answer is your generic pressure cooker.Yes, I know it is a more labor intensive and time consuming method than simply nuking your sponge, but at the same time you can sterilize it without using any chemicals that might be harmful if not completely removed from the sponges before using them in the kitchen.

I am certainly not saying its an amazing thing you should do regularly (while I will), but hey, its a fun way to apply lab know how in the kitchen.

I got the obvious idea while stocking my labware into the autoclave, which works in the exact same principle as the pressure cooker. (ie: 15 psi pressure causes steam to reach 121 C, which sterilizes lab ware efficiently/cooks food much faster)

So I tried this technique on 3 handi wipes and 2 sponges, all put together in a pressure cooker with enough water to submerge the items. Ek seeti bajaao and you are done. As proven in my lab ( kitchen) the items do survive the cooker seeti, and can be successfully re-used after pressure cooking This can be a problem in certain plastics which are heat sensitive. However handi wipes and regular sponges do pass the test. That the sterilization was achieved is of course, assumed, as I don't have a petri dish and an incubator to perform the test at home.

I believe the pressure cooker is also used by several doctors in India to sterilize equipment in places where an autoclave is not accessible and disposable equipment is not easy to obtain.So I don't see why critters in sponges will be able to survive the heat.

Ah.. the joys of balancing homemaking and research..

Friday, March 02, 2007


IMHO, Vidur Kapur is funnier than Russell Peters.(And a lot less abrasive) There are many clips on youtube, but here's one I really liked.

The one thing I like is that his accents dont sound fake. Apparently he grew up in India, and in fact probably went to the same school as SRK (random gossip insert #1), thus the normal accents.

Hope to see more clips his on youtube...

Cricket confessions.

I dont get cricket . I really dont. I mean there were times when I used to watch a few matches here and there, but that was such a long time ago, and purely because of peer pressure. Soon the cricket crazy peers left the building, and I was back to being a cricket zero. The last time I showed an interest in cricket, Sehwag actually had hair. Now, he's a taklu uncle.

Yes I still pretend to watch related news, and I know some names, but I cannot tell the difference between irfan pathan and 'i-forgot-his-name-he-looks-like-akshay kumar and (arbit gossip insert #1) apparently is/was dating kami kapde kim sharma.(YES! Yuvraj singh!) In any case, vengsarkar totally looks like a school principal who would love to cane his kids if he had the chance. Apparently his wife recently launched a jewelry store (arbit gossip insert #2). And then there is that speed petrol guy who I'd love to give a haircut (dhoni?). And not to forget Mr.Patil who thinks his beard looks so cool.(he hosts some silly show called wah cricket, which loves to make some random comments about complete non issues) I know dravid, sachin and ganguly, not from their cricket, but from a long time ago, and TV ads.

But now all that might have to change. The maniac in the household has decided to spend some of the hard earned money ($199.95 to be precise) on the world cup package. So I am going to be left with no option but to watch it. Negotiations led to the Thurday 8-10 pm slot still being devoted to ABC, but I might still call another meeting to bargain for CBS Mondays as well. But the maniac has also found a local cricket team, and is actually excited about playing cricket in April ( 40F is not a bad temperature to play cricket, it seems). I am dreading the impending matches during which wives get together and make pav bhaaji while their husbands play cricket..I dont know whats giving me more nightmares. That image or the fact that I will have to go back into the 'i like criket' pretense mode, in front of people.

On the bright side, what is warming me up to the whole cricket jhamela, is this ad.

Even in the ad, its not the cricket, but the song thats doing the job.:) I cant get the words, because the singer gets really garbled once the action starts: but what I get is enough for me to sing it. And it's been my pep song for some very important events that occured in the past week. So I am going to make it my anthem for the coming few months. And who knows, maybe I might genuinely end up liking cricket. (pray pray pray)

The song actually also reminds me of an extremely explosive and bitter debate a few people , regarding the language. Perhaps I shall write more on that later. Benji, are you listening?