Friday Fun: Food Fiesta

Bonus recipe!

To make up for all the times I haven't posted one. And because this is a wonderful dish to follow the one below.

Sticky Cinnamon Pears

Time Required:
30 minutes.

Keep Ready (to serve 4):
4 medium (just-ripe) pears
Lemon juice
Cinnamon powder, 2tsp
Sugar, 50-60gm

Core the pears, then peel and cut into halves. Prick them with a fork and rub some of the cinnamon powder onto them lightly. Also rub a little lemon juice onto them so that they don't discolour while you're getting the sauce ready. Keep aside.

In a saucepan, on a low-medium heat, melt the sugar and remaining cinnamon powder till it's completely liquid.

Place the pears in a baking tray, pour the syrup onto them and coat them evently, and bake for 25 minutes at 200C (or until they're golden). Occasionally check on them and spoon some of the syrup over the pears so they don't dry out too much. You'll know they're ready when you can slice through easily with a fork.

Serve with a large dollop of plain vanilla ice-cream.

Why you should try this:
It's bloody marvellous, that's why.

You serve this on a gloomy grey day, and one bite into the sour and sweet and cinnamonny warmth of this, all offset by the icy coldness of the ice-cream, and you might just be ready to forget the shitty day you've just had.

If you can't eat ice-cream, or don't have any, some thick cream will do. You could even try it with custard, but that's just too sweet.

Friday Fun: Food Fiesta

See, I do fulfill requests. Eventually. It's a time thing - I have too much of it, so I fritter it away. Cynic, if you like, you can take the whole recipe (and any others) for the food blog - I'm too lazy to actually submit any.

Now this one takes a little more time than the others I've put up, but it's fairly simple to make. Perfect for a rainy monsoon day or chilly winter evening (or, if you live on this island, pretty much 95% of the year).

Colourful Moroccan Tajine

Time Required:
About 45 minutes.

Keep Ready (in order) (to serve 4):
A large tajine
Oil (preferably olive)
Two cloves garlic, crushed
One red onion, roughly sliced
Turmeric, 1tsp
Cumin powder, 1tsp
Harissa paste*, 2 tsp
Cinnamon, small stick
Star anise, two pieces
Mustard paste, 1tsp
Tomato paste, 1tbsp
3-4 medium P
otatoes, diced
2 carrots, diced
Chickpeas**, 250g
500ml stock
Mixed coloured peppers, sliced
Creme fraiche***, or curd, 5tbsp
Chopped fresh coriander

Heat the oil in the tajine over a medium-high heat, and add the garlic and onions. Cook till they just start to go golden, with the occasional stirring, then lower the heat to medium-low and add the harissa, cumin and mustard. Fry for about six to eight minutes (stirring continuously so that the spices don't stick to the tajine), till they are really aromatic.

Then add the tomato paste, potatoes and carrots and fry for a couple of minutes till they're well-coated with the spices. Add the chickpeas and the stock, bring to a boil, then cover the tajine and simmer for about 30 minutes till you've got a thickish gravy. Add the peppers, stir in the creme fraiche and fresh coriander and let cook for another 5 minutes.

Garnish with more coriander, and serve with hot pitta bread, hummus and olives. Or just serve on a bed of plain cous cous.

Why you should try this:
Cooking with/in a tajine is fun. It's like a mini-tandoor and very reminiscent of cooking biryani - it's slow, it needs attention so that the dish doesn't burn or become too dry, and the way the aroma slowly builds up and permeates the entire house is just divine.

This dish is not properly authentic (they wouldn't use mustard or anise in Morocco), but it is utterly filling and colourful, and makes for a great variation from only making channa masala with chickpeas. The creme fraiche or curd helps to soften the kick of the harissa, and when you dip in some hummus-lathered pitta and have a big mouthful of this - it's just wild.

1) Traditionally, you would add some form of red meat or chicken to this. If you do, then add it before the veggies, and brown properly. If you don't want to use either, but would like the taste, you could use chicken stock instead.

2) You could also add the peppers in with the chickpeas. I tend to add them later so that they retain a little crunchiness.

3) You could also garnish with spring onions, instead of just coriander.

4) You could add additional veggies if you really want to make it can't-possibly-move-an-inch heavy - cauliflower, courgettes, leeks.

* This is the key ingredient in the dish. If you can't find any readymade harissa paste, bloody well make some.
** Tinned chickpeas are the easiest. If you can only get hold of dried ones, please soak them for a couple of hours beforehand at least.
*** Creme fraiche is always preferable to curd, simply because it's not as sour as curd can be, and it also lends to a more thick consistency.


50 Reasons Why You Should Blog - #48

You might just get somebody in charge to listen* - and get a free book out of it.

* Check the comments. And just for that, I'm going to go buy a copy of her book. Nice people should be encouraged.


Friday Fun: Fpoor Fpuns

Q: Why are partying bachelors referred to as 'stags'?
A: Because they're very horny*.

This has to be the reason right? I haven't found any better explanation through much hunting onWeb.

* If you're pedantic enough to be going "But noooo - that's antlers", I've got two words for you....shuddup now.


A pome

People who go aww
are those who would go caw
at a hopping crow
found in the snow,
to see if it would
stay on for good

(to be turned into a pet
after first being taken to a vet
to clip its fat fat wings
to make it need that hanging ring
and be taught

to do tricks

with tiny tiny bricks
and to flutter
at the sight of creamy butter
and to blare a song
when they bring out the thongs
and to claw the remote
and use the phone to textvote
and to bring a beer
when the fridge is not near)

or if it would
fly back into the wood.


People who go aww
should make you wary
and chary
and use words like nary,
for they are
the truly scary.


Manual of Life - Alternative Defintions

Sticking it to 'emv., Indians holding 90-second-long flash mobs on 15th August outside Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, and the council office of every major city across England. Complete with waving of the tricolour, shouts of Jai Hind (and heck, maybe even Inquilab Zindabad), banners that go 'Who's occupying whom now, eh?', and ending with an a-capella rendition of JGM.

See also:

Insult upon injury
Reverse colonialism


Manual of Life - Alternative Definitions

n., Calculating the mean (day) of the birthdays of all your friends and family, and then announcing to them that you will wish them collectively each year on that day only, instead of wishing each one on their actual anniversary*.

See also:


* Hallmark, get your grubby hands off my idea. Birthday Day*** is patent-pending.
** It's arguable that such a person is unlikely to contemplate gifts and cards and the like, either.
*** What, it's less ridiculous than 'Birth
day'? Because we also go 'Happy weddingday'? Tchaila!


Talking of preconceptions

...you'd think by now I would stop being surprised by them, right? Nuh-uh.

Take this film, for example.

It got rented out a while back, because it looked interesting, and it had an interesting mixture of stars. Then, on reading the synopsis a little more, I assumed it was going to be too serious and melancholia-inducing, and decided I was only going to watch it when I was ready for it.

Which meant not when I was already depressed, not when I was very happy either, not in the night so I'd go to bed miserable, not on a Sunday evening because I really don't want to make those worse than they already are - just a very neutral day when things had been just medium-tedium.

Yes, picky. And don't you judge me for not wanting to watch hard-hitting films - sometimes you can have too many of them, and all you want is popcorn brain-numbers. Or a re-run of O Brother (Pop quiz: Is it possible to have watched that too many times? A: Irrelevant query).

Anyways, in the end I got fed up of having it around (plus those nice people from the rental firm were sending out polite reminder emails), so on it went.

And it was....lovely.

Quirky, and funny, and not too cloying or too preachy, and Rickman being typically snarky Rickman, and....just lovely.

So (Shyam, since you were asking), yes, I'm thinking of not seeing the description of an unknown film either and just watching it.


Of course, since we're on preconceptions and films, I have to bring this up.

Am I the only one who had no clue whatsoever that this film had been made?

And after watching the trailer, and taking into account the discussions of the past two posts, should I not be too quick to be yelling "Travesty!" at the top of my lungs and refusing to go watch the film or even stick around when it's being discussed? Despite the nice little boxing hat-tip, and despite RDJr (Jude Law....meh)?

Should I not give it the benefit of the doubt? And, even if I'm right, and the reviews find that it totally tarnishes the entire vision that Doyle created, should I still not put that aside and just go watch it as just an extremely drug-induced interpretation of his work?

Will you?


Book randomness

Increasingly, I find myself reading books without first reading the back cover or the sleeve, which carries the intro/summary. Of course, it's not completely random - I pick them from a certain genre selection, so I am somewhat aware of what it's going to be like.

I've been thinking about it, but I'm still not really sure why. I first noticed it when I started reading the latest volume in a couple of series, and realised I was 80 pages into it and I hadn't bothered to see what exactly to expect in this one. I shrugged it off.

Then I found myself doing the same with any book which had written by an author I knew and liked, but which I hadn't read. I sort of rationalised it away, figuring maybe it was because I already had some idea about the quality and tone of the book, having read the author's previous works.

But the last few times I've gone to my local library, I've found myself randomly picking up books - even though there are dozens of books that I want to read by authors I really like. And now I'm quite confused.

I'm certainly not bored of reading, or bored of the stuff that's out there. And no, I'm not four, so it's not about pretty bookcovers, ok.

Whatever the reason, there is this - I find myself reading the books more closely. You know how it is when you pick up a book that looks interesting and you sort of know how things are going to go until a certain point, so you sort of just skim through? Not happening.

Because I no longer know what the book is about, or what's going to happen, I'm reading every page like it's going to be the one where things really start to happen. And when they do, it's like that bit in a horror flick where the monster jumps out and shocks you. It's like being told a story when you're a kid, and you're just hearing it unfold, with no preconceptions. It's so much more fun.

Sure, you're likely to pick up some bad books in the process, but the experience of reading the good ones this way is worth it. Try it.

Talking of books and preconceptions, here's the reverse.

The Bride and I plan to try and read Joyce's Ulysses, as part of a we've-stopped-being-litty-readers-and-have-lost-our-culture (more details on her blog). In addition, I also plan to eat a lot of curd.

I've started the book at least five times, and have never gone beyond page 18 (hush, Falsie, no sneering now). For several reasons.

At first, I was put off because I felt I had to read the book, because it's such a wondrous masterpiece, dontchaknow, and how can you call yourself a bibliophile if you haven't read it, which immediately put me against it (I've posted about this attitude before - any sociologists/psychologists out there who know if there's an actual term for this?). So I picked it up, but resented every word, and eventually put it away.

Then, when I had cooled off enough (give or take two years), I picked it up again and got tired because I thought he was just trying to be clever and difficult for the sake of being so (which he was). And I was like, sod it if I'm going to be patronised. And the last time, well....it just didn't grip me (ok, enough with the gasps of horror already).

Still. There must be something in the book, right? So, once more into the breach, and all that. And in the interest of doing something interesting with blogs, we'll post our progress publicly, discuss how we interpreted/liked the latest bit, and so on.

Anybody want to join in? We could make this a group effort.