Medusa writes this post with much unhappiness, because medusa has embarked on the unthinkable- has started a diet. and medusa knows that the first days of a diet are the toughest (not that she has ever gone beyond the first day), and to make herself less miserable, she is trying to relive memories of glorious wedding feasts, nowadays too frequent to sit well with one's tummy. she's been to four feasts in January, and February promises four more, and with food such as this, it is not a surprise that the family insists that medusa goes on a diet. that she has been ill and away from work for a week and a half may also have contributed to their drastic decision. anyway, the thing on top is what medusa saw as soon as she entered the dining area of her friend's wedding reception. tacky mermaid with pearl and huge bowls of salad with cut fruit display. the next picture shows the contents of the bowls- clock wise from top right: Pasta salad in a bed of lettuce; salsa made of onion, tomato and cucumber; more onion, tomato and cucumber, and carrot, but this time in bigger slices; vinegar onions. for future reference- medusa loves vinegar onion and may have had a lot, which may have contributed to the fact that she could not eat much else.
What comes next is the quintessential fish fry- something medusa hates with all her heart! she just does not manage to understand why would anyone drool over a dry-ish betki fillet marinated in bread and biscuit-crumbs and deep fried? its texture is like that of biscuit, and its inherent fishiness makes it very fishy to eat. but then, some like fish!
And then you have to have bread, of some kind, and something to eat that bread with. in this case the rumali roti, followed by chicken kasha, filled medusa's heart. And then, everyone's favourite Mutton Biryani! Bengali Biryani, which some claim is actually awadhi (Medusa does not know, and doesn't care), is DRY, DRY, DRY. But somehow, the concept of raita hasn't caught on, however, big pieces of mutton, still attached to layers of fat and bone, being chewed to oblivion, is definitely stuff that male fantasies are made of. Medusa, she just loves the rice. Once again, the learned farts will tell you, you can not have pulao without meat. Well, if the proof of the pudding is in the eating, then here it is! One more chicken gravy, or was it mutton? filled with oil, rich and tender! After this, the wedding feast chronicle gets a bit sketchy, Medusa suddenly became conscious of her waist chain cutting into her flesh, and a distinct heaviness that made it difficult for her to navigate all the desert items. But she did have mixed fruit chutney and drooled at the gulab jamuns-
Having given the sandesh, the gulab jamun and the ice cream a skip, she consoled herself with several paans, till the paanwala started pointedly ignoring her.
P.S. there may have been something for vegetarians as well, but medusa did not bother to find out.
Now, what comes below is what gives Flame and Grill its name, and its charm. the table that one gets seated at, has a hollow in the middle, in which the servers place a tray filled with smoldering coal. and on it, a grill, and on top, meat; skewered, juicy, pretty, delicious, unending meat. and fish. and crab.
they provide you with tiny bowls of oil and paint brush look-alikes, and one can marinate their meat to their liking. the next photo shows medusa doing precisely that, but only for photographic purposes.
What comes below is a salad bar, part of the buffet. the two kinds of lettuce, the roasted paneer and the chicken salad were the best of the lot, and medusa had bits of it, mostly so that the she didn't feel too guilty about over indulging. after all, it is not indulgence if you indulge in salalds, is it?
The above picture, is of the platter of chocolate brownies, also part of the buffet. medusa wanted to take it all, and bring it home, and eat every time she felt down and out. instead, she tried to bring a plate filled with stuff from the rest of the buffet. from top to bottom: prawn curry, mutton biryani and chicken curry. there were more things on the vegetarian side, but she neither ventured in that direction, nor did she take any photos.
this was her dessert platter, and there were more to come. the buffet also had ice cream and orange and strawberry jellies, but she stuck to the tried and tasted brownies, the mousse, and of course the gulab jamuns.
the glorious, glorious, gulab jamuns. will go back, even if it is only for the dessert.
It started like this. Usually, on their way home, in the late late train, Medusa's colleagues discuss about stuff that they've cooked the previous weeks (interesting bit however, they're all men. Perhaps that's what contributes to the eagerness in their voices, not having to make the daily dal, chawal, and being able to dabble in the occasional delicacies). Usually, they can be divided in two groups, the Haves and the Have-nots. Those who have a microwave, and those who don't. Medusa falls in the second category, and being the one who's started cooking the last, she also listens reverentially to the wonders that can be accomplished with the magic box and the right marinade.
There is one among her fellow-travelers who has distinguished himself by the prodigious amount he can devour, and his willingness to cook even in the worst of weathers (actually cooking in the winter or maybe during heavy rains will be pleasant, a nice warmth creeping in from the fingertips and warming one, but its the heat that medusa dreads, and the cook in question doesn't seem to mind). So when this cook heard that Medusa planned to cook chick peas the next day, he launched into a lengthy diatribe meticulously describing what all spices needed to be blended together and then added in what order for it to taste good.
while the rest of the group took notes, medusa was somewhat miffed. she remembered one winter afternoon when a dear friend was likely to miss lunch, and medusa had slaved over a borrowed rice cooker and with one spice blend cooked chick peas, something that the friend had loved.
So medusa started. soaking the chick peas over night and then boiling them
chopping and mincing the vegetables
putting it all on the stove with oil, salt and some of this: And then stirring and stirring And finally, breakfast:
Family loved it. Medusa loved it even more 'coz it reminded her of an experience that can never be repeated.
Medusa has discovered garlic in the past few years, and now loves as much of it as she can get. so she decided to make a garlic pickle, faithfully following the recipe in Sananda. The ingredients called for were:But did she know how difficult peeling garlic was? of course she did, she had peeled a few flakes during her very very slim culinary life, but to peel 250gms + 350 gms, is no mean task!!!!! It took her two and a half hours straight, sitting on the floor, with a knife in hand, and at the end of it, her back ached and a drowsy numbness pained her senses.
Thank goodness for the feudal set up that her home has, and for Bobydidi, who ground and minced and mashed and pastedAnd in the end, there was it, to be bottled and sunned for three to four days, and then devoured.And, wonder of all wonders, it looked just like the photo in the magazine. the pickle tastes somewhat sour and salty at the same time, has a grainy texture, with the added delight of innumerable garlic flakes to chew on. enough of beating one's own drum.