Sunday, June 19, 2016

Thoughts- some but not all related to Father's Day

It is Father's day and my Facebook feed is a stream of people putting up sepia tinted pictures of their fathers.

I cannot relate. I love my father, and I wish I could see him more often, but I am unable to channel all of this on Father's Day.

At the moment I am trying to get him to send me the phone number of my grandaunt so I can call and check on her. He is in Bangalore and I am in the U.S- the time difference matters and if he doesn't get on this within the next ten minutes or so I will have missed my window to make this call for yet another day. He is in the middle of dealing with his own mother, who has Alzheimer's and has of late been hitting the young girl we have hired to help care for her. I doubt my father can relate to the way we think of Mother's Day. Loving and caring for his mother have changed him, just as her illness has changed her.

 Every day we try to hold on a little bit more to the memory of who she used to be, so that we can handle who she has become now. Doing that hurts too, because things are so different, and we wonder how we became this way. Old age is horrible. Let no one say otherwise.

On Father's Day I think to myself, I hope I can be as present for my parents as they were for their own. I am all the way across the world, and have a decade or so to make it possible for them to live here, or convince myself that life would be better if I moved back.

What this means is that in my father's best years, and my mother's, which are now, I will be far far away. We are missing out on having fun with each other but there isn't a way in the world you could get me to move back to Bangalore at this point. I am so happy to have grown up there, but it now it makes me sad. Landing there and not being at the little airport near Indiranagar makes me sad. The long long road back to Koramangala makes me sad, as does the visible evidence of the corruption linked to the new airport. The air is impossible to breathe, and I feel the grime coating me- settling on me as I settle into the city. All the bisibelebhath and lunch thalis in the world cannot make up for the loss of the city I grew up in.

Landing in Delhi or Mumbai do not have the same effect. No matter how unbearably hot, or noisy Delhi is it will always have my heart. Delhi was ever uncomfortable- you just accept it and move on. Mumbai I have no feelings for- so landing there or not landing there have no meaning to me. Bangalore was my home, and I am having trouble accepting that it has changed so much, and become so very unlivable.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Skinny Broccoli Gratin

Makes 2 generous serves.
280 calories per portion.

Garlic- 1 small clove
Shallot- 1
Nutmeg- one small pinch
Mustard powder- optional- I used this because I saw the Colman's sitting in the pantry looking neglected
Milk- 1 cup, 240 ml- I used skim
Butter- 1 tbsp
Flour- 2 tbsp
Cooking spray, or a couple of drops of oil

Broccoli- 4 cups frozen, 400-450 gms
Onion- 1 or 2
Mozzarella- 28 gms

Salt and Pepper to taste.

  • Heat up a small saucepan and put in a few drops of oil. 
  • Put in the chopped shallot, and 2-3 min later the chopped garlic. 
  • Keep on heat till you can smell the garlic cook. 
  • Put in the butter and lower the temperature to keep it from burning.
  • Add the flour and cook till it stops smelling raw- 4-5 min. 
  • Add the milk mixing as you go. I did it in two rounds and settled in for a lot of stirring, but you can be more elegant about this and add the milk little by little. 
  • Add the nutmeg, mustard powder and some salt. 
  • Keep stirring, seek out the lumps and eliminate them. 
  • This should thicken in 5-10 minutes, over medium heat. 
  • Add water if needed and bring to a boil. 
  • Add salt and pepper as needed and take off the heat. I made sure there was enough sauce to cover the vegetables that I had put out in a glass baking dish. 
  • I used frozen broccoli- which I steamed for 2-3 minutes before setting aside. 
  • Mix the chopped onion with the broccoli, and a little salt before putting into a glass baking dish. 
  • Cover with the b├ęchamel and bake for 20 minutes at 400F. 
  • Pull the dish out, add the mozzarella to the top and bake for another 15 min at 400F.
If the cheese seems too meagre you could increase the quantity, or add some flaked almonds to the topping.  I ate the almonds before they could get to the dish, so had none to put on, and it worked fine anyway.
I ate this over some plain pasta, but can see it going very well with warm bread.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Kale Palak Paneer

Some weeks ago we bought a bag of kale, thinking that we too should get with the times. Kale is terrifying, and I don't know too many ways to make it palatable, having failed more than once. Using it in Palak Paneer worked out well and here is the recipe.

Spinach leaves- I used 1 cup of frozen spinach to one handful of fresh kale- 2-3 cups
Kale- take it off those awful stems2-3 cups
Ginger- by eye- approx as much as the garlic
Garlic-not crazy amounts
Green Chili- I like lots
Cream- I add this tbsp by tbsp, and find myself adding 4-6 before I am happy.
Onion- who has time to cut more than one?
Tomato-chopped fine
Cashew nuts- one small fistful
Paneer- as much as you have. I'd use at least 400 gm
Coriander Powder
Garam Masala
Milk- one cup (maybe)

Heat the oil.
Add Cumin.
Add the Onion- cook till soft.
Add the chopped Ginger and Garlic- cook till this stops smelling raw.
Add all the spices except for the Amchur and cook roast off.
Add the Tomato, Green Chili, Spinach, Kale and Cashew nuts. Add some milk to help things along.
Cook all of this till the Kale is softened and the Spinach cooked. This should take 10-15 minutes. Make sure it doesn't get too dry by adding milk.
Turn down the heat and transfer to your food processor in batches to blend. Kale has a very odd texture, and I did my best to get rid of this by pulverising it.
Add a little bit of oil to another pan, heat up, and brown the cubed Paneer. (Don't do this if you like the Paneer to stay soft)
Add the Amchur, Cream and Paneer to the pan, with the kale-palak mix, and bring to a boil.
Keep adding Cream and Salt till happy.
Finish by stirring in some Amchur.

I have no measurements for the spices. Just go with your gut, and be generous with the Amchur. It fixes everything. As does Cream.