Tuesday, August 21, 2012

fishy thinking

the heart always, always craves for sushi. like some primitive yearning for fish and rice and an unfragmented simplicity of food that makes the same intense amount of sense to the eyes, the tongue, the belly and the heart, all at once. wish to move to japan for a while, work at a wwoof farm, eat only japanese. when do these kind of dreams come true?

salmon sushi, although what i like most about it must be the tangy rice, and the wasabi

wouldn't have imagined these would be so good, but the veggie in my heart went a bit woohoo when these went in

because coffee goes well with everything, even a faulty phone camera

Monday, August 20, 2012


pomees from the baari

They fell, but not alone. I was going to pick one up for you, but they didn't belong to either of us. Their bellies, home already, for worms. I would have cursed my luck, but then to realise how sweet it must be for the worms. How sweet, indeed, for those worms.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

those deceptive kiwis

I spent most of my little girl days eating suntala in the sun. Or pondering over the brilliance of a grape that can be so multifarious in providing a fruit experience; those unassuming balls just bursting in the mouth with so much flavor. Regular fruits filled most of my childhood.

I may have known of kiwi as a fruit, but it was more the name by which we called New Zealand cricket players. A real kiwi rolling in the tongue and bursting into flavours blue and wild is not something I'm used to.

But let me tell you the most exciting thing that has happened in my household this past year. It is also called the story of kiwi.

So we have a kiwi plant in our teeny, weeny vegetable garden. My father toiled for days trying to figure out how to get - what do you call it - the mating of kiwi plants done. Balla talla he found a he ho ki she plant and got them to mate. And months after that three little kiwis showed up tuplukka on the jhaadi covering our wall.

The kiwi triplets soon became the talk of our neighbourhood. Bua's friends would come over, sit on the lawn next to the kiwi ko bot and talk about it with the same gusto with which they talk of politics. Some of them came and took pictures. They were the first kiwis of the entire housing colony in which I live. There was a lot of contemplation about what was to be done to the kiwis when they did ripen. There was talk of having a photo shoot, of putting it on a puja ko thaali and just doing some puja-suja to it. One of my neighbour aunts suggested that we invite everyone from the colony, put the kiwis on display for everyone to look at, and serve other fruits for them to nibble on while watching those kiwis.

As if aware of all this drama, the kiwis took their time getting ready for slaughter. After hanging from the jhyaure grove for over four months, the triplets showed no signs of ripening. They were as stiff and inedible as stones. You could hit them with a small hammer and easily they would fit into the shoes of percussion instruments. My parents had already tried eating one as soon as they'd picked it, but realized their mistake. So we waited for the remaining kiwi twins to get ready for us.

the adorable pair. parents ate the third one while i was out of town. saboteurs. 
 Over at my cousin's house, kiwis had grown by the bundle and already been delivered into satisfied bellies. But we waited and waited. Every day in the morning, as soon as I went into the kitchen for my daily dose of warm water, I would inspect those pale, green looking fruits. With each passing day, I was more and more doubtful that these objects were actually fruit. They seemed more like the manifestation of nature's desire to taunt our family.

After almost two months of lying on our veggie rack, the kiwis finally gave way to some softness. I decided I would cut them, but by now, anything less than a ceremony would be really sad.

Even with ceremony, it was kind of sad. By now, I was expecting nothing palatable to come out of that stubbly brown skin. Plus the fact that we were trying to eat them without letting the rest of the town know - after all the drama that had already surrounded the kiwis - made me feel slightly guilty as well.

Nevertheless, I did get down to work. And when the kiwis were ready on the plate, they glistened with a shine that suggested that they weren't going to taste that bad after all.

And they tasted awesome! Kasto meetho! All that waiting and pining for those two kiwis (shared within a family of five, how many slices did each of us get?) was worth it. They turned out to be ali ali amilo, ali ali guliyo and altogether refreshing (after two months of being picked, I fail to fathom how).

Can't wait for next year when - hopefully - the kiwi yield will be a little better.

different renditions of the caterpillaring trail of kiwi slices

Saturday, December 24, 2011


There's been a lot of yinyang happening in my life lately.

When I bought these mugs from Mahaguthi this week, I had no idea that they'd be yinyanging with each other.

But now I see how they make a perfect pair. It almost seemed like they were teasing me. So I took this metaphor a step further. :)

harmony in my mugs of milk and coffee
There was a time when coffee used to make me sick. Many dark nights of my tender youth were spent chugging mugs of Nescafe, back before organic filter were all the rage. And then running into the bathroom to poop every twenty minutes. As soon as my first mug was gulped down, there would be a wild beating of the heart, accompanied by wilder thoughts. Essays would be finished with a touch of caffeine-induced brilliance. And there would be hours spent lying on the bed, facing the darkness, unable to sleep, weaving thoughts into more complicated thoughts, ideas into daring challenges.

But the post-coffee poop cravings vanished as my body got accustomed to the caffeine. Coffee no longer makes me buzz nor keeps me awake late into the night. But the waft of freshly brewed filter coffee stirs up old memories. 

There was a time when the taste of milk used to make me feel sick. But I don't know when I grew into liking it so much. The trick, I've learned, is to drink it in its purest form, without diluting its taste with sugar or chocolate or Horlicks or Boost. With enough practice, I've learned to discern the subtle taste of milk, it's delicate sweetness.

The whole family loves reading newspapers in the sun. Weekends are the only time when there's opportunity for such leisure. I take my copy of this week's On Saturday and try to read. 

I like my newspaper with coffee and some greenery
Getting distracted by sunlight, browning winter grass, still-green leaves on the guava tree, the start naked stark blue sky, white plastic chairs and the shadows of others reading newspapers in the sun (and perhaps forgetting to read myself) is part of the whole experience. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

lapsi ko achar

Oh lapsi ko fruit! You are the apple of my distorted eye!

Mummy makes the best lapsi ko achaar.

She tells me, "Hamro ghar ko gate baahira lapsi bechna lyaaechhan. Taile nai ta khaane ho. Man lagyo bhane kinera lyaa,"

As if she doesn't know how much I would love that. As if I don't know how much she would love to make some for me.

gorgeous, sexy, chic lapsi ko dallos

Mummy's hands dance with the lapsi ko bokra

the khursaani and jimmu le bejeweled achar being tamed by a daadu

Monday, December 19, 2011

Coffee and Orange

Morning sun

A mug of coffee

And an orange

Do the trick for me.

the most oddly beautiful mug in the world

orange and coffee and windowsill

can you see the steam rising from the hot coffee?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

a chumbak dinner

Chumbak is Nepali for magnet. But, the way I mean it here, it's derived from Hindi and means very, very kissable. And that is exactly how dinner was.

So because by the time the sun sets, we've already prepared so many meals at our house, none of the ladies of the house are particularly thrilled about making dinner. And that is how I got trapped to make dinner.

It's not like I don't like making food, but much like anyone else (or anything else) I need something to kickstart me before I can transform all the potential culinary energy into kinetic energy. And I always get really excited if I can experiment with food and make something that we've never eaten before but when it comes to making the same old daal-bhaat-tarkari everyday, I turn into a sad little thing. Eating it is fun though - I have new found respect for my mom and her mom.

But today, Nana was being a nuisance. She said she'd help me by making some stir fry, but she turned her back towards the kitchen and began to watch TV. I loved playing the mom and was constantly yelling and complaining and being a total nautanki while she was completely distracted by multiple episodes of Hitler Didi. Balla, balla I got her to make her share of the food.

chop! chop! preparing everything from scratch is more fun
than having someone else prepare it for you
In all my experiences of cooking, I've come to realize that simplicity is the best ingredient for great tasting food. Often, keeping things raw is also a great way of cooking. When I was a kid, my parents used to make fun of me, saying how I should have been born a cow since I love raw vegetables so much. Even now, I try to keep cooking to the minimum.

All I did to make this pasta was take a handful of almonds and chop them up, then went to my trusted pot of basil (the only plant in my garden that I have a relationship with - basil is like a phoren version of tulsi and it has such an intense fragrance when picked fresh and chopped up and sprinkled on anything), plucked some wilted leaves (my plant is getting old, I need to save the seeds and plant a new one for next year).

Going with the feel is so important in food. My brother, who used to make great food from before I knew how to handle a spoon, once told me that you just know when to put in the next ingredient into the food. The way he nimbly chopped the vegetables, picked them up and put them in the frying pan, it felt like he was doing some sort of interpretive dance - without any worry about the result. The food he made had no name, culture or identity but whatever he made always tasted delicious.

Being intuitive - it seems - is the most important skill you can have while cooking. And cooking seems like such a great way of practicing our intuition.

this stuff tastes soooo yummmmmmmy!
My gut said, "Garlic!" and add I did. After whipping it in some olive oil, salt and pepper and tossing the pasta into it - ke bhannu ra. 

Whenever we make spaghetti at home and we're seated at the dinner table eating, Mummy (my grandmother) gives out this loud burst of a giggle. All of us look up from our plates, and we see her struggling to twirl the slippery strands of spaghetti on her fork again and again and again and again. She's barely done with half her dinner when the rest of us have cleaned up our plates. It's like it's a joke the universe is playing on her that she's still trying to understand.

So to spare her, we've started buying other kinds of pasta. And that is how we arrived at a meal that looks like this.

the chumbak plate (with some chinesey stir fry Nana made)
got demolished in five minutes
(yep I don't eat, I hog!)

The darkness in the picture must paint a somber mood to the dinner, tara batti nabhaako desh ma yestai photo matrai khichnu mildo raichha. But does that really matter if everyone was well fed with warm, happy bellies?