Tagged: side dish

Jaya’s Afghani Baingan

Boy, today was h-o-t! Yesterday was bad enough but this morning was unbelievable. April’s not even over yet and we’ve already had a record high of 92°F. To many of you it may seem that I’m overstating this, since you may live in much hotter places. Heck, I’ve lived in much hotter places. Bombay is far from a ski vacation and college in Texas had many sweltering days where being outside gave you a fairly good idea of what hell must feel like. The difference is, here in the Bay area, we’re spoiled weather-wise, especially in San Francisco. Think bright beautiful sunshine with your own personal air-conditioning around you. That’s what it is like, sunshine with heat optional. The fog ensures that we need jackets in the summer, because when there is no sun, it is cool. Even on hot days, the temperature difference between night and day can be as much as 30°, as it is supposed to tonight. And as I sit here writing this, smelling the ocean on this hot spring night, the breeze starting blow in through my window is telling me this will be true.

It’s a darn shame I can’t sleep on the roof of my apartment building. I would brave random nocturnal creature attacks to enjoy a few hours of cooling slumber. It is impossible trying to sleep when you are hot. You slowly roast where you lie, incapacitated and zapped to near death by the crazy heat. Living in these cooler climes has taught me that I prefer the cold. I love everything about summer except the heat. Crazy but true. Even as I continue to slowly type this at the rate of two words per minute, I’m getting slower as my brain continues to melt into oblivion. Oh my future and past kingdoms for an air-conditioned room! (Incidentally in case you are wondering, apartments here rarely have air-conditioning, courtesy the normally fabulous weather.)

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Guacamole

The need to be different and unique; I went through it too. That was before the time I realised I am different and unique, as are we all. No wait, come back…I wasn’t beginning to preach. This point will become a character sketch, you’ll see.

Anyway getting back to the need to be different; I believe it first truly struck me when I was five and in first grade. The teacher called upon us to each name our favourite fruit, as a prelude to the five sentences we would write about it. Right away, the aspiring teachers’ pet (moi) decided she was going to dazzle the class and the teacher with my sensational choice. As I listened to the litany of ‘mango (the easy highest favourite) apple, orange, banana, grapes……’ , I mentally whizzed through the fruits I liked and decided to go with watermelon which no one had mentioned. (Not very surprising; in India we are spoiled by an abundance of fruit, kids would largely think of melons last.) I had already started composing the write-up in my head, probably along the lines of ‘Watermelon is red. Watermelon is sweet. Watermelon is juicy’ (hey I said I was 5!) when the unthinkable happened. A friend stood up and said ‘Watermelon’. Black thoughts, probably along the lines of what Caesar must have thought of Brutus, passed through my head. But reeling from this unexpected blow, I rallied and thought of another fruit; the pineapple. That would show ‘em you can’t keep me down. At this point I’d probably eaten the thing once (who knows? I don’t have perfect recall), knew it was pretty good. Yup by the time the teacher got to the S’s, no one mentioned pineapple and I had my very own, only vote, favourite fruit. Was I cool or what? (*choke* sorry I can’t believe what a chump I was once.)

Life is not without its little ironies. While I didn’t know it then, pineapple is one of the very few things I grew up to be quite allergic to. Pineapple in its raw form can give me a sore throat a hypochondriac would be proud to acquire. Sad really, I do love the fruit, but I can’t eat it. Stuff like that cured me of any claims on being unique pretty soon.

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Jamie Oliver’s Asparagus and Potato Tart

San Francisco is beautiful no matter where you are in it. But the charm of the San Francisco Bay is unbeatable. Last weekend was bright and sunny and demanded a break out in the open. While Amey took a break from his day and flew his kite……


….I took a walk and watched the world shed its winter overcoat and come alive. There were fathers and sons checking out the grass and walks…

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Mom’s Goda Masala Batata Bhaaji

It’s no secret I love potatoes. Anyone who knows me a little could tell you that about me.  Sometimes, random strangers have been forced to hear about my life-long love affair with the aloo. I do my Ancient Mariner routine and they are forced to go through what it must feel like to be a patron of Hotel California. You can just see them, politely yet desperately move away from me while I prattle about boiled potatoes, steamed potatoes, baked potatoes, fried potatoes, the several ways the French cook their potatoes..(droool!! smack!!)…but I digress..

I am the self-anointed ultimate potato critic. When I go to a new restaurant, I will peruse it with the express intention of finding their pomme de terre dish du jour (or belonging to their permanent collection, I’m not too picky about the little things). I look to see how they serve it, what accompanies it, and then look through the rest of the menu. Yes, I know that it is most unlikely to find several dishes where the potato is the star on a menu. My philosophy is that the potato is the star, not the side, the chicken and lamb or (insert anything else here), serve only as a basis of a flavourful accompaniment. It gives me a feel of the essence of the restaurant when I find what they choose to pair my favourite with. While I’ve accepted that restaurants serving Asian cuisine are unlikely to serve patatas, most others do. So imagine my horror when I went to one that serves vegetarian food (pages and pages of it, you never saw such a vast menu!) but didn’t have a single potato on the list! Yes, Cafe Gratitude, bet no one told you that about your menu before! A combination of that, the pervading smell of pot and the bleary-eyed waitress (who didn’t know their desserts and made my friends accompany her to the display case to find out) has ensured that I will never again step through your doors. But mostly the ‘no potato’ thing.

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Chicken Tikka – our way

The trial of the licensing exams is upon me! It is why I sport dark circles under my eyes (courtesy trying to study into the night on workdays) that would be the envy of the most discerning raccoon. It also why I spend long periods at slogging away at books while I pretend to be oblivious to the sun shining outdoors. Without a doubt, this was easier to do in the winter months. The summer will be testing me on will power as well as subject material. As the exam dates draw nearer, I bury myself in books and cramming, accompanied by occasional rants at and about nothing and everything. Nights are reserved for incoherent babbling. My husband (who incidentally is very calm and collected through his licensing ordeal) bears all this with a good degree of forbearance. He takes over most daily requirements for living completely, thereby leaving me to my alternative lifestyle until the exam is done and I’m normal again. Among other things, he also takes over the cooking.

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