Contemplating an empty nest is my current nightmare. Like a bystander I watch my life morph into speedlines and do nothing while quiet panic spreads through me like spilt ink. I hear our son, spouting wisecracks and witticisms. It’s no longer knock-knock jokes; his humour gleams with a sharp, wicked edge. Straightforward strains of Linking Park have fallen by the wayside as Skrillex screeches out of his room and plays strange games with my head. A million symptoms of growing up (awkward pecks on the cheek, reluctant hugs) pop out at me without any warning and the silent, helpless scream in my head gets louder.
But I also feel pride at his newly acquired worldliness, his take on global politics, his logical and informed analysis of every issue related to football, not to forget his growing height which is a couple of millimetres shy of mine. This schizophrenia must afflict all mothers with its strange cocktail of happiness, pride, wistfulness and the realisation that time is not our friend. Yet it’s not all about letting them go, it’s also about discovering new conversations, sharing growing-up stories, changing our own outdated view of the world and being young with them while they can be grown-up with us. Continue reading →
Four days of incessant rain have brought with them a deluge of memories of monsoons back home in India. Pewter clouds, fecund greenery, cool caressing breezes, drenched afternoons reading romances, spindly-legged white cranes, ageing, moss-clad walls, swarthy silhouettes stealing kisses by the seaside and of course steaming cups of fragrant chai with pakoras ( fritters made with onions or a variety of vegetables dipped in a thick, spicy batter of chickpea flour). Having lived by the sea for most of my married life, monsoons by the coast hold a precious place in my heart. Somehow, despite the water logging, resulting traffic jams, wet laundry and omnipresent moisture in every surrounding surface, the rains have always evoked in me a sense of timeless longing, romance, nostalgia and renewed burst of urgency and inspiration to write and cook.
So yesterday, when I woke up to rain and reminiscences, I thought why not make a Sunday lunch that would fill my home with the smells of the Indian coast – seafood, coconut and spices. A Kerala-style prawn curry scented with kokum or fish tamarind (a tart fruit grown extensively on India’s western coast; it’s used to add a mellow sourness to fish and other seafood curries). Kokum, unlike tamarind has a less harsh acidic flavour and is an excellent digestive too. If you can’t lay your hands on kokum, tamarind pulp works too; just remember to use only a little since you don’t want the sourness to overpower the delicate sweetness of the prawns. The curry needs fresh grated, coconut but dried coconut flakes rehydrated in warm water for about 30 minutes would work equally well. The spices in the recipe are very easy to find and once you have made your spice paste or masala, the rest is a breeze. Continue reading →
A special prawn and rice dish for Sundays, holidays and even dinner parties. Ever since I picked up Pratibha Karan’s Biryani, my husband and son have been waiting for a biryani to pop out of the pages onto their plate. Their patience has been wearing thin and after months of broken promises, I decided to roll up my sleeves and grant them their wish.
Out of all the mouth-watering biryani recipes in the book, I picked the relatively simpler Karwar Prawn Biryani (since my Sunday plan included a morning of hitting the winter sales of GAP and Guess before rushing home to make lunch). Although less tedious than many biryanis, this one’s a keeper because its rich spicy South Indian resonance that’ll make you keep coming back for more. Not delicate or subtle like its Lucknowi or Awadhi counterparts, this South Indian biryani boasts a bold and voluptuous personality, much like the sexy sirens of South Indian films, defined by spices like pepper, red chillies, cinnamon etc. Continue reading →
Comfort in a bowl – that’s the reason I make this one-bowl stir fry. My boys enjoy it every time, no matter how frequently they have to eat it and I use whatever seafood I have, calamari, any firm white fish or a combination of seafood. I think if you don’t care too much for seafood, boneless chunks of chicken thigh or cooked duck or just about anything would work in this recipe. Vegetarians could use nice, meaty mushrooms instead. So no rules, just some ingredients and a very doable recipe. Continue reading →