This has nothing to do with the popular rock band or for that matter me taking a bullet for my Valentine in a metaphorical manner of speaking. Valentine’s Day is quite the bat signal in Gotham for the likes of a bachelor. A precarious time for singles out there. The perilous questions one has to dodge of getting ‘too serious’ or for that matter ‘having the talk’ of where relationships go in general.
My advice to avoid this entire drama- fly far away, meet a lovely lady in Andhra Pradesh-visiting 6th century undiscovered caves and ask her if she’s busy for the evening. No she wasn’t Lady Lara Croft though that fantasy still remains in at the top of my travel list. Ladies love adventure. So when a wanderer on a ‘bullet’ (read Royal Enfield), comes along with a camera and a penchant to cook a meal, it’s a surety that one is not meant to be alone this day.
The menu for dinner was working up the local flavors of the region to give her a taste of the state. Going ‘glocal’ for the global traveller. A gracious friend and foodie willingly allowed me to use his kitchen for this feat. Keeping in sync with the theme, I started out with a salad signifying the color ‘red’. Beetroot Thoran also known as ‘poriyal’ in the south of Andhra is an Ayurveda recipe with a 180 calorie count serving that requires 2 cups of grated beetroot, 4 tsp of grated coconut, 1 sprig curry leaves, 2 chopped green chilies, ¼ tsp mustard, ½ tsp cumin, 1 tsp urad dal, 1 tsp fresh grated ginger, 1 garlic clove crushed, 1/8 tsp turmeric and salt and oil as needed for additional taste. Heat a little oil in the pan, I normally use coconut for its health properties and add mustard and cumin and allow them to crackle. Add ginger,green chillies and curry leaves post and fry till the ginger gives you that flavorsome taste. Add the dals, red chillies and garlic cloves. Fry until the dal is golden brown. Add the grated beets and turmeric and sauté till lightly cooked. To speed up the process cover the pan. Add the grated coconut and fry for about 2-3 minutes and serve. It makes for a great salad option and can be had plain though locals prefer it with rice or chapatti.
As a starter option, Miss Croft wanted to help and participate. Cooking together does add spice to any equation. All you men reading this, try it at home with your ‘better half’. It makes you a rather dishy offering to your respective partner. Obviously groceries were an issue with my friend not having had the time to shop. A cabbage at the far corner of the kitchen had me work up a Cabbage vada.
Vada or vadai is a deep fried snack made from ground lentils that make for the perfect snack. Here’s what you need. ¾ cup chana dal, 2 /1/2 cups finely chopped cabbage, 1 tsp ginger paste, 1tsp garam masala, ¼ tsp red chili power, a handful of mint and coriander leaves, 2 green chilies chopped, 2 tsp rice flour (you can use more depending on the quantity you wish to make. This serves 10-12 vadas) and salt as needed.
Wash and soak the chana dal for 1.5 hours and drain completely. Cut the cabbage in quarters and dip them in hot water and leave for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse well and shred the cabbge into very small size bits. Mix with coriander leaves, salt, green chilies, the dal, curry leaves and pulse the remaining chana dal to a coarse mixture without adding any water. Add this to the cabbage mixture along with garam masala and red chili powder. Mix well and set aside for 10 minutes. Add 2 tsp of rice flour to the mix. Take a small portion of this mixture and check if it can be formed into a ball. It has to bind well or else add another tsp of flour and mix. Post which fry until golden brown and drain with kitchen tissues before serving for excess oil. In all honesty, the vadas did burn a little but even if I served her haggis at that time, she would have scored a 10 for effort.
I cheated on a fruit dessert with Figs. Also known as the forbidden fruit, it’s filled with antioxidants, flavonoids, fiber and potassium. Cleopatra couldn’t have enough of it, and the Greeks consider it sacred associated with love and fertility.
So men, the moral of the story lies in your ladle. Start cooking now.
As the year comes to a close, I decided to rant a little more and torment you poor sods every fortnight (yes, I’m considerate that way). Welcome to my column; aptly titled –a twit’s wit in Goa’s leading daily- OHeraldo.
I hope you all enjoy it and do send me your feedback on my rants through the gastronomic world currently resided in.
Click on the image to enlarge or read the text down below.
V for Vigorous
At a social air kissing party- discussing world peace, demonetization and its impact on the agrarian economy and vegetable vendors, monopoly currency fit for the Joker from Batman and world peace all in one breath, someone chirped; “Aren’t you rather thin for a food critic and blogger?”- A statement as presumptuous as the fake YSL clutch bag she held for dear life. Move over to the rapid fire round at the a la spread dinner table had her follow me around like a heat seeking missile to prod further about my eating habits and carefully scrutinize my choice of vegetarian delicacies that graced a table fit for the cast and crew of Game of Thrones. Winter was coming indeed and the Pork Roast across the spit was divine.
It took every ounce of desire to look away and head for the shriveled up after thought vegetarian produce that sat in the neglected remedial corner of the table. Ostracized and how- no consideration for its feelings, hello vegetables have feelings as much as veal does or did.
Before we delve any further into my tormented crazy world of consumption, here is a tad descriptor about moi. A born carnivore as much as a lover of the great single malt and everything related to ‘sin’ encompasses my mortal existence -from high cholesterol to the proverbial potbelly and lethargy that follows with it. Some would pit me as a rather ‘Vigorous’ lifestyle. A description fit for the perfect ‘foodie’ and field of gastronomy high priests and priestesses.
Back to Miss YSL, lets call her that for now shall we? Looking at the asparagus and figments of roman lettuce with cherry tomato grace my plate sent a gasp of disbelief that promptly had the server pour her a glass of fine chardonnay to appease her newfound horror.
Post that was a downhill conversation that has me talk about life, my bachelorhood, my vegetarian affinity and how I change from Clark Kent to Superman in preference related to red meat v/s the by product of their living consumption and had me speak a ‘dead’ language- Latin and break out into the did you know series unveiling the geek in me. ‘Vegetus’ is Latin meaning lively or vigorous. The folks at the Vegetarian Society of the UK purposefully derived the word ‘vegetarian’ from vegetus, not vegetable, or at least that’s what one of them said.
Living the life of a bachelor has its own trials and tribulations. As we carried on discussing my life much to a meek pitiful- Please come home and let my ‘maharaj’ feed you, you poor starving sod, delving into the obvious was shopping and procuring food out there. All the men reading this right now- What’s the current price of a kilo of onions on aisle 4? Exactly. You look just as dumbfounded as a deer caught in the headlights up front.
Ever been to a supermarket and wandered aimlessly up and down the isle wondering what to purchase? (This does not apply to henpecked husbands who have a doctor scribbled list handed over by their ‘better’ halves while they head over to the parlor for some manicure time.) For some bachelors, the hardest part of eating healthy is going out and getting the food. A supermarket is a large, complex place, and it typically operates on a purely capitalist basis: cheap, scientifically engineered, focus-group-approved charades is given more shelf space and prime placement because the companies that make said crap have large budgets for ads and kickbacks. By using a simple checklist system, you’ll always have a variety of food in your fridge, and you can avoid the lure of the garbage passing itself off as food.
The objectivity is starting with the basics and staples. It’s a upward approach understanding the requirements of fuel ones body needs, much like that of a diesel and petrol sedan. Once you get thinking like that you automatically build mechanisms in your head of how to curb the urge when presented in the format of calorific consumption. We call them power foods. And the list includes Raw almonds or walnuts filled with good fat, oatmeal high in fiber and low in cholesterol and one can use it to make healthy pancakes, olive oil (extra virgin please), canned tomatoes- believe it or not they contain more nutrients than fresh tomatoes and fresh fruits and vegetables, brown bread and the list goes on.
Time for dessert has her consume her last glass (read bottle) of that amazing wine and satiated with information that redefined her belief in the concept of vegetarianism and bachelorhood as an informed decision rather than a lifestyle choice. Having lived through the ordeal I decided to consume an apple given the lethargy of me running that extra mile the next day. After all yoga was a few days post. Miss YSL though turned out to be a fan and I even managed to get her number.
V for Victory.
But hey, that could perhaps be the wine talking.
Mr.NObody is your average bachelor blogger, critic, and food aficionado struggling to walk the fine line between healthy eating and carnal gastronomic delights.
Follow him on @nolansatwit
Enough of the hashtags already. Im dreaming of #waffles