Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A little lame on the other side

Morning started today a little lazy, a little fizzy and a little dizzy too. When I wake up and finally opened my eyes to see the morning coming through the window beside our bed I saw m husband..already prepared from head to toe to go office!! My mood swung down a low lane...he should have called me too. But anyways..his driver was late so  we had our coffee together..a rare occasion I tell you.
After almost two months of cooking and eating lots of chicken mind was looking for veggies...Everywhere I was looking for veg dishes. So started my veg journey with a very very simple dish. Actually its not a dish in a complete sense but its super delicious in its own simplicity and one of my favorite. Its boiled rice and dal ..cooked together and the water is not drained out. The rice and dal turned into a semi liquid semi solid consistency after I boiled and boiled and boiled them until I was happy with the result. That is the dal and rice was so intertwined with each other that it looked like soup. I mixed that with boiled and mashed potato and hard boiled egg with chopped onion, chili and a big tablespoon of mustard oil. My husband likes to add ghee but I like that sizzling smell of mustard oil. After mixing all of the ingredients altogether I prepared some French fries and papad. And it was good. The lunch was simple, veg and all hassle free and left me an uber time to think that what I will make in the night. Trust me this simple recipe is life savior and a break from all the masalas and oil. Try some time you will love it tooo...I can remember myelf in my school days this was an ultimate favorite of mine and I used to take the rice in a big bowl and took a big amount of the boiled rice water that we bengalis say Phyan and ate that in a whoop whoop sound!! Oh....how beautiful those days were. And after the meal the salty taste of the boiled rice water with some mashed potatos and ghee was savored until the next meal.
In the evening I made potato croquet with a coating of suji. I put a piece of Parmesan cheese inside that pakora. So when the melted cheese touched our tongue with the crunchy suji coating and masala potato stuffing...it felt CHATAKDAR!!! LOL!!!
In the night it was chola bature which was easy and simple to make. Bature is almost like making naan. And chole with lime juice squeezed on it with sprinkled pepper and salt and chopped onion made our diner all finger licking good!!!
Right now I am all prepped up to sleep and tomorrow my French teacher will come...I have a lot to memorize so au revoir!!!!

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Holandaise Sauce

Abidjan the financial capital of Cote d'Ivoire was a French colony so everythig here has a french effect on them. So when I heard that French is the national language here I thought there must be a popularity of French food here. But lo and behold....just like India..which was an English Colony here too French Cullinarry is not popular like their language. So there goes my chance of leraning the mouth watering French desserts and cakes....:(
Last week while watching some trailers of movies I stumbled upon a video of Julia Child's The French Chef  show and watched the method of making The Holandaise Sauce. Its easy, simple and can be done with simple ingredients like lemon, salt, pepper, water, egg and butter. All of them are so easily available in the kitchen that I thought of making the sauce. Now the sauce is generally accompanied with sweet dishes. So I made Pan Cakes with a topping of butter, sugar and cinnamon powder. This is when the tragedy struck. I used salt in the place of sugar and the entire dish was ruined. I noticed this when I was cleaning up the kitchen and saw that I have opened the can of salt instead of sugar. I ate a little to see whether they were edible or not. And they tasted like the dried sea water...yuck!!!
So I had to go through everything that I have completed again. Husband went to meet his colleague that time who just came from Vietnam to look after his restaurant which is just round the corner of our flat. My cooking was complete when he came home after nearly 1 and half hours. Making the pan cakes again was a tough task but not tiresome but while I was making the sauce I thought may be it would have been easier if I had two more hands because I had to put butter and stir the sauce with two hands simultaneously and it was really exhausting. Sweat started coming down my forehead and my arms started aching. But if I had left that sauce there the eggs would have scrambled making my sauce completely ruined again. So I stirred and stirred until and unless I saw the sauce has thickened and is not watery anymore.And finally the end result was more than just yum!!!! It was delicious. It smelled lovely and tasted....buttery, tangy and velvety!!! The combination of sweet pancakes with a tangy sauce left us with a trail exquisite appetizing taste that will linger the mind and tongue for a long time. of  I love love love it. Husband also loved it a lot. He even skipped sipping water to relish the taste for a long time.
Later I also saw Julia Child's chicken roasting video. The way she explained the different categories of chicken is really an informative lesson to keep in the mind. I am planning to buy her cook book so that I can learn some more of French Cooking but that is till I reach India again. So until then I am completely allowing myself to master the basic recipes of cooking.
Did you learn something new this weekend??

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Green....greenwitch...Hariyali...

Just made Green Chicken today. It was a complete sudden decision. I mashed the coriander leaves in the mixer and added to the chicken.  And the final conclusion is Indian Chicken recipes are more or less same with just some variations here and there!!! Finally I have cracked the nail..ho ho ho!!!
So for the green chicken I prepared the chicken exactly like I do the Dahi Chicken and added a paste made of coriander and mint leaves with garlic and ginger paste and just a bit of lime juice and green chillie. In the end I added I added a bit of garam masala. And thats it...I made the Green Chicken. I added no water or anything like that. The chicken was cooked itself with the green paste when the juice started oozing out of it. After it was done there was a heavenly fresh flavor of coriander and mint and chicken. And the platter was server with hot rotis..:)

Friday, March 21, 2014

A day without water

Yesterday we did not have any water supply in all over Abidjan. Local people knew about the news but we had no idea and when in the morning we went to brush our teeth the nightmare struck us. We had all the used kitchen utensils left unwashed and we could not even wash our clothes. I could not have a bath or even could not sprinkle some water on my face...Thankfully there was some water left in the bathroom which our maid used to clean the room. All day I just lolled about and slept and read....and read... Oh...right now I am reading Hemingway's The Old Man And the Sea. Its a very small book...a novel kind of. But I am too lazy to finish it in a day. We ate Fried Rice and Chilli Chicken yesterday which mu husband took from nearby Vietnamese restuarant Nuit De Saigon. And in the night we ate Sawarma.I ate one and a half of them and then my stomach became so full that I was thinking about taking a hajmola. But my husband hates this kind of thing, He says eat because you have to live, Don't live because you have to eat. Which I kind of think true but again......sigh!!!!
So today I thought I have some light eating. Which is healthy. Then again whatever is healthy has a slightly little chance of being tasty!!! Some months before my marriage I started dieting and through which I totally lost my tummy fat...then I was all over the internet searching for some good tasty recipes. I can eat less...of course I can bear with that, it for staying well but I can not stand or bear the fact that I have to eat tasteless food...that is total bizarre!!! A walking nightmare!! I have gained a lot of weight because of the whole foor torment that we have to go through before we left India and I often talk and think about dieting and exercising to mu husband. And then I start talking about the delicious smoked smell of the Tandoori Chicken and cheese cake and Biriyani and Chicken Kosha and ice creams!! And my husband chuckles and says..oh...you are dieting right??
So today for the light and healthy lunch I made Khichri and chutney with some fried fish and left over Dam Aloo for my husband. And oh....I made some papad too. And I avoided the use of oil completely minimal...hope soo!! Phew!!
Seeing my constant quest of learning new recipes he told me that he will invite some of his friends after the Easter Fast is over. Lets see what can I do then!! At first  I was a little scared of making chutney. But it was all easy pissy!!  It reminded that I have to buy some dates tooo..they are essential in making chutneys!! Tomorrow is Saturday and another weekend came over!! How fast the time goes on... I have already made my lists...I  have to go for grocery shopping again!!:):) Till then I am coping up with my crazy life and try a new a new mind boggling recipe!! Yah..I know..I am under diet!!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

May your all wish come true



When I was in school I was perhaps the most extrovert girl any one has ever seen. I talked loudly. I laughed with my heart out. I remember myself talking to a total stranger in a long conversation. Those were the time I loved being at home. I looked forward for the Sunday because mother will cook something special that day. I could spend a sleepless night just with gossiping with my sister. But then day by day...nothing changed. But one day everything seemed to be different for me. Be it the home or outside. Rather than talking with everyone I started being comfortable with just a few of my close friends. I talked less and I started smiling rather than laughing. I realized that I cannot trust everyone here. Not everyone will understand my problems. Not everyone will be happy with happiness. And not everyone is worthy of trust with my secrets. Of course everybody has secrets....and they are special to themselves. Some will win the trust but will miss no opportunity to make your life miserable. And these people are the most dangerous ones that I have seen so far...they act like a friend but they are the worst enemies.
And I have only one precious life that the merciful God had granted me. And I will rather choose this one to be full of one good friend than making it full with thousand peoples with masked faces.  After seeing all the foul faces around myself and encountering some distressed situations I got to know how the real world works here. Those childhood fantasies are over. Time was ripe for some  grown up actions. But then I met my husband. Well he was not my husband back then. But he is now...so lets refer to him like that. And after meeting him and after I started knowing him I was so surprised and sometimes I also could not believe that can a person, in a society like ours, posses such a great moral character like him?? Can anyone be so good that referring good also seems a little less?? It may sound a little exaggerating but his friends and family and one of my friends who met him knows how much truth is in the above words. With him everything is good. With him every negative side has a positive sign. With him I feel safe, taken care of and loved. And most importantly with him I can feel the very word trust. I know I can trust him with my life. I trust his words that if he has promised anything it will be done..and if he has said no..then I  either have to convince the rightfulness of yes or just accept the NO.
Life has its own way of giving things to its people and I think I have got everything. May be life has given me more than what I deserve. Life has given him to me..

Monday, March 10, 2014

Lazy lamhe

When I was in India Sundays used to bring a lot of peace and appreciation. Because on that very day I did not have any work to do. I did not have to o out and teach my students. There was no rush, no traffic and no sweat while walking under the heated afternoons. So Sundays used to be my lazy day.. I used to sleep until it was very late, I used to go to the rooftop and gaze at the blue sky and enjoy the evening breeze.
But now Sundays are not lazy anymore. They are the busiest of the rest of the days, because that is the off day for my maid and I have to do everything. Cooking is okay...I prefer to do that myself but other household chores gives me creeps. I generally avoid cleaning the rooms and try not to mess them up as it will eventually come back to me to clean up all. And then after the coking there remains a heap of utensils which we wash together. After the Sunday lunch the day becomes full of lazy lamhe..We talk, we see movies, we stand in the balcony watching the roadside restaurant L'automatic filling with crowds and having sips of coffee. Laziness is not always defined as doing nothing and wandering aimlessly..it is also finding moments inside the moment itself and cherish them, savor them like I will never have this time again...so much so that the moment lingers with me, within me and I  become so lazy that leaving those moments and engaging myself towards something more active makes me feel lazy.
This is the only day of the week that I can see my husband for a long time. But there are times when he heads for the office in the evening and comes in the night.Yesterday I was cooking pasta for both of us and he had to go to the office for a meeting. I cooked pasta, left it on the dining table and started cooking dinner. Now making the Pasta episode was trouble free. As usual I did not have a clue of making noodles or pasta. For ages I have eaten them but never had the time or interest to look into the process. So I searched the internet and found out the easiest recipe. Turned out that the taste is not so average and my husband ate it delightfully. The only mistake was I gave whole black peppers in it which stuck in between the teeth giving sudden hot flavors. So next time I am going to crush them before putting into the sauce pan.
On saturday I went to the beach. It was a 2 minutes visit but I liked the view. Its a local beach named The New Cocoa Beach. We are planning to go to the Bassum Beach after the Cashew Seasons are over here and planning to visit another city too. I forgot its name but he said it takes a 2 hours drive from Abidjan. I could not go to Orca this weekend because time was short and after all the hassle we took to select our curtains we thought its better to be home for the rest of the days. Its too hot here now. When the rains come the place looks beautiful and the weather becomes very cold in the night. I love rains here. They are always heavy rains and not like cats and dogs that I have seen most of the times in Kolkata.
I also watched Hunger games : Catching Fire and 12 years a slave in the last two days. Both of the movies are too good to be praised for. Specially 12 years a slave is a heart touching story. It reminded me of the novel " Uncle Tom's Cabin". I also watched Garden Of Words, Monster's University, The Wolf of the Wall Street and finished reading A Little Princess. Now I am watching Lost in Translation and on my way to finish the book " The English Patient".  There is also a movie based on this book and its beautiful. Have you seen it??

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Panipuri Party

Panipuri or most commonly known in Kolkata as Phuchka is an ultimate favorite of mine. Be it with chutney or curd or the tikha imly water or tamarind water...I can go on with them as far as my stomach permits!! When I was in India once my mother bought some packets of readymade phuchkas and I bought only the potato stuffing and the tamarind water from one of the panipuri walla and savored most of them...of course I had toshare with my family. Otherwise I could have eaten all of them...
But..ahem..past is past. I am no longer in a place where I can eat roadside or even restaurant style phuckas..!! Sob..sob!!:( So either I have to wait another year to eat them or make them at home. Both equally being difficult I tried to make them on my own. But in between the time that I actually found the recipe and making them I found out that they are available here in Abidjan in the Indian Market. The difference is I will have them in the raw form and will have to fry before eating.
Along came my problem to make the potaoto stuffing and the tamarind water. I added all the masalas as well as lime and some tamarind and lots of chillies there was something missing from both the stuffing and the water. Later I realized that it was the mango powder that was missing. So I mixed it...and voila!!! I had my own panipuris ready just in my kitchen..ready to be served and eat. So I prepared some hot and sweet sauce along with the chilled dahi and made dahi phuchka!!
My husband was so happy that immediately he made plans to call two of his friends for those panipuris and have a panipuri party!!
The next day I fried some more of the panipuris and again made the stuffing and tamarind water. As a wise man has said so very several times was proven true again!! Practice makes a man perfect. This time the puris were better in taste and looked less clumsy on the plates.
Once my husband said that a cook is most satisfied when his foods are completely finished with eagerness and licking fingers. Yesterday I saw the exactly same scene and was surprised on myself. Before barely one month I could not even think of feeding myself properly and now I can cook for 4/5 people with ease!! Later that night we had chicken kosha and rotis and rice with gulab jamun and ice cream!!
After they have left the actual work caught my attention. There was a heap of utensils ready to be taken care of. But I was too tired to look and do anything and went straight to the bed and dozed off.
But my husband is the dearest one. He cleared off everything and woke me up to freshen myself. The Saturday night was a busy one but left me with more confidence and happiness. Now I believe every person should see and live and experience every aspect of life. I have lived in city as well as I have lived the very village life. I have lived the most carefree free life and now I am on my way to become a responsible person..(hopefully..:)), I am studying and I will try to be in the professional field too...but not now. I am now just too happy to work with my husband and care nothing but only our lives and family. May be I am talking like a typical Indian girl...but in my opinion personal and professional lives are two very different things to be dealt with complete different aspect and mentality. May be I could have done both and as everyone says I can be anything and everything I want and I want this. At this very moment I just want to do...I will say it in Bengali as I have once said to my husband before marriage " chutie sangsar korte chai"...

Friday, March 7, 2014

Pity pity...

Sometimes I pity myself. When I fight, when I cry and when I am misunderstood. Life is not a bed full of roses. If there are happiness there must be sorrow behind. And if there is suffering there will also be salvation coming next to it. I used to think that those poor things are not required to live the life. It makes us sad and miserable and in some moments of desperation some breaks the hell loose, some stands against it. It took me years to realize that unless I feel sad my embrace towards happiness will not be so strong and pure. Unless I have suffered I will not realize how blessed I am to be loved, to be cared of and have a happy life.
Today is the day that I pity myself again. Nope...I am not sad. I am not suffering also. But I am angry with myself. I am angry because I fought with my mother today. Why...I am not going to tell. But I fought with her. While I am feeling that I was right during the conversation she was thinking the same too. Then how two persons being right can fight over the same subject unless one is wrong??? I don't know how I am going to deal with it or strike another happy conversation with her but I am sure I will come up with something.
We don't live in the same house anymore and there is only some skype calls that maintains our connection now. And I feel so so helpless.
And in this situation sometimes I realize that I have an ego which constantly holds my back while I try to bend towards her. Still have to work out with my anger and still have to go a long way before I can tame my ego. And until then I hope I can try to do my best in loving everyone who cares for me, and whom I care because no matter how much angry we are and how hard the ego holds my back I can always count on my love for them.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Je parle ampère francais

Don't be horrified by what I have written in the title. It means I speak very little French. Yes....now I live in a French country. Actually it was earlier a French Colony which went on to making its national language into French. So everyone speaks French here in public although people here have their regional language. The shop keeper speaks French, the driver speaks French and my maid also speaks French. There is a difference in their accent which you will understand but still its French and it all appears to be all gibberish for me. I have learnt French a bit but that is not enough to carry on conversations here. So I have to take my support for the symbols and gestures to make my maid understand whatever I am trying to say. Sometimes I fail and she does something which otherwise undone would have been better. Here is an example. I have a dupatta made of crape cotton..that is its a bit crippled in design and that is the style. So after washing I told her in gestures not to iron that and continue with the rest of the salwar suit. But when I came back from bathroom I saw that she had me the dupatta completely smooth. I was dumbstruck. I laughed at myself and came back to my room. And one day I left some oil in the kadai and later saw that she had washed the kadai . She said to me something which I could not understand. After 2days I saw that she actually collected the oil before washing the kadai and kept that in a corner of the self. So this is how my cookery sessions are going now a days. Rest of the work is previously discussed by my husband...in pure French so I don't have to worry about them. I just check that whether they are perfectly done or not.
So you see life here is perfectly mute. No one understands me and neither can I understand them. And this period becomes pretty much boring if I don't engage myself into something productive. Mainly I read books and watch a lot of movies. I call my family. I talk to them over skype or just phone. I organize the wardrobe. Search some good recipes for diner or make some snacks for my husband. And in some days I just loll around or lie down the bed and enjoy big gulps of ice cream while watching the sky, or the road nearby.
Africa is famous for its cacao and no wonder that its chocolate ice cream tastes heavenly...they are yummy, creamy and supppper delicious. I f you are heading for Africa...then ice creams and cashews and chocolates are must haves. I am gradually liking this place. And the liking began with chocolate....curse my sweet tooth!!! But chocolates here are not sooo sweet here...they are dark chocolates so tastes a little bitter but the  feeling afterwards, that remains in the mind and tongue is what I crave for and can bite a little more bitter blocks tooo...:)
So far I have visited 2 super markets here. One is Orca Deco..its for decorating your house. Its loaded with such things. I nearly dropped my mouth when I visited their candle section. I was actually giving a thought on having candle light diners everyday. But then I resisted. They have a wide range of products with innumerable varieties. If you are in Abidjan, then I think its a place you must visit. Another one is Cash Center. Its for the groceries and foods and kitchen tools. It also has an electronic section but that is not very impressive. This is the place from where I pick the yogurts, cadburys and ice creams. Trust me the varieties are seductive to the taste buds as well as eyes.
I am planning some long visits to them again on this weekend as our dining table and dressing table is coming today. Will tell you later that how I am going to decorate them. Till then bear with me...:)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Having the fullest

These days I am enjoying the place...my new life and  I have undertaken a complete different task with a big enthusiasm....cooking. Before writing anymore I just want to say that I am happy with my thoughts and my  life.
So I was telling about my cooking. Before getting married I never ever cooked anything. But when my husband asked me that whether he would get a maid for all the household works including cooking or except cooking...I went for the later. I collected recipes from my mother, mother in law, aunts, sister in law and friends and now I can say proudly that yes...I do can can cook. And mostly to the fear of my family my husband has never eaten any burnt dish till now. I have got hold of the fish a little bit and now I am going towards desserts and chicken. Its a different experience and I am very happy...very happy. Its the moment when he eats the dish and I can see his facial expression that he is enjoying....my day is made then and there. I can no compare this satisfaction with anything else. If you are a pampered girl like me who did not know the difference between jeera and kalo jeera...you may feel my happiness. I just feel blissed.
Besides this is what I wanted. To be with him. So what is the problem if I can not see him throughout the day...I can see him all through the night, I open the door when he comes back from office, I hold on to him when he watches movie after dinner. This is more than what I have dreamed of....and I am blissfully happy. We are happy.