Food Tales: Let’s Chaat

If you are a not a lover of chaat (not Chat) then I would request you to stop reading at this point and move on to other blog posts of mine.

I am glad you are a chaat lover. Are you part of an elite crowd that eats chaat anywhere, even in roadside shops?
My affair with the chaat started when I was in school. I would be taken by amma to Ajnabee in Fountain Plaza and I would order the Bhel Puri everytime. It was my favourite chaat. Well I would rather say it was the only chaat that I had ever tasted until then. The Bhel Puri is such an amazing food item. It is not just a snack it can be a meal by itself. It has chopped vegetables, some chutney, puffed rice, and it gives out lot of joy. Have you ever wondered where that sound comes from when they make the bhel puri, it is from the bhel which gives out such happy noises from the vessel. For some reason I did not consider the Pav Bhaji to be part of the Chaat family. Ok I will come back to the Pav Bhaji in a bit.

It was only while I was in college that I discovered the variety that chaat offered. Dahi Papdi, Dahi Balle, Dahi Puri, Sev Puri, Raj Kachori, Katori Chaat, Samosa Channa, Kachori with mint and tamarind chutney and the list goes on… I would save up money and go eat in Gangotree usually on Saturdays with a few friends (Harsh, Pintoo) mostly for the chat but also for the bird-watching opportunities it presented. The other place we frequented usually on Wednesdays after bunking college was Bombay Lassi, off Ellis Road (Behind Devi Theatre). 1 Samosa, 1 Kachori and one glass Lassi and of course this was usually after fighting to get hold of Rs. 10 ticket at Devi.

After College I managed to go to Delhi for higher studies or “Delhi Return MBA boy” as my cousin calls me. It was only in Delhi that I managed to taste Aloo Tikki, Gol Gappas (It is just Pani Pooris but Delhiites swear that the two are different like the sun and the moon) and now entered Channa Batura into my view. The CB in Khan Market and Chandni Chowk are bleddy out of the world and it is not the same stuff we get in New Woodlands Hotel in Chennai. Also in Delhi they have this thing of adding Chaat Masala to everything. Fruits with Chaat masala, Chaat with Chaat Masala, Nimbu Paani with Chaat Masala, Orange juice with chaat masala. They seemed to be in love with the Chaat which made them Chaaty…

With all the weight loss diet available today online, huge misunderstanding and belief popped up about what to eat and what avoind eating, which foods makes you gain weight and which ones actually help in losing weight. Huge 5 foods to never eat conversation popped up among diet community and is pretty much controversial. After reading a few case studies, I believe that there are indeed foods that make you gain fat and one must avoid eating them. Basically they make your blood sugar levels rising and the same problem is one of the many reasons why people can’t lose weight. Simple said, take your time and make a nice online research.

In the mean time I had been tasting Pav Bhaji in Chennai, Delhi and Bangalore to name a few places but nothing appealed to my senses. When I was in Mumbai in 2008 I tried the Pav Bhaji at Chowpatty Beach and it was the most sinful, taste bud tickling, lustful Paav Bhaji that I had ever tasted. No wonder the people of Mumbai are in love with it. I think it has something to do with the speed with which people live the life in Mumbai.

I don’t eat at Gangotree anymore because of the unhygienic way in which the food is kept lying around. Even the roadside Paani Poori guy keeps better hygiene. Shree Mithai is what I am left with in the city and it is not the greatest chaat that I have eaten.

Ofcourse the greatest chaat you get in Chennai is in Mint street. So many roadside vendors and such great taste. What is your favourite chaat and where do you get your chaat fix in your city?

Happy Chaating!!!

Oh! Pakistan, My Child…

God is a funny fellow and sometimes even the most devout are forced to wonder if there could ever be a Supreme Being.

This post I write for the school children of Pakistan who were massacred in Peshawar.

Dear Children,

Why were you born in Pakistan? Why did you listen to your parents and go to school? Why did you have to be mass massacred. Even goats are slaughtered one at a time. But truly it is all your fault. See Children, you are were young and you committed a lot of mistakes and you had to be killed for all your mistakes. So the Taliban decided to punish you little children for the mistakes that you commited in school and at home. Some of you had refused to do your home-work, some of you back-answered your teachers, some made spelling mistakes and some did not show respect to your fellow students.

It was all your fault. The Taliban was just making an example of you children.

I hope and wish that the Taliban corrects all the children in Pakistan. But I wonder what happens when they have no more children to correct. Will they correct the civilians? What after the civilians? The Government? The Army? How many more people will be made examples of? Will Pakistan, a once fine country cease to exist as you have known it? How can the Taliban’s blood thirst be satiated? How much more blood will appease these demons?

I am so sorry little children I don’t think anyone has the answers to these questions. I definitely do not. I live so very far away from your country. Our cultures are hardly common, our religions are not the same, The children I see here make a lot of mistakes just like you, you children were so happy with the kind of happiness that comes only with childhood. But you are gone and I can’t seem to accept it.

Even though I have questioned the existence of a supreme power, I will still pray to him and ask him to take care of you children. But remember children forgive the Taliban for they know not what they do.

May Your Souls Rest in Peace,

Just Another Indian

 

The Wipro Chennai Marathon 2014

The biggest Marathon in Chennai and I wouldn’t want to miss it for the world. So after the Dusk 2 Dawn Night Marathon I had a fortnight to run The Wipro Chennai Marathon ’14 and I was definitely looking forward to it. Running a 10k is just like your regular morning run but it is the crowd which makes all the difference. You are either running with the crowd or running away from the crowd. I belong to the second type only difference being I was far behind the crowd. (No, I am not the Marathon Mama)

I am a newbie run-walker (Will definitely let you folks know when I graduate to being a full time runner.) and was excited to run the Napiers Bridge – Tharamani route. A car drive later I found myself at the start point doing some stretches with some folks from Tower Twisters and Sprinter Navin. I had vowed to start late and avoid the crowd and thats precisely what Mr. GP. Kamath(K) and me ended up doing. K and me crossed the start line at around 7:15am and we continued running together until the 4km mark where I stopped for some rest and water. The Marina stretch had taken it’s toll on my sweat glands and for some reason my legs felt like stone. It usually does till I am 3kms into any run. But here I was resting at the 4km mark and it was still hard as stone. I was looking forward to the Santhome-Greenways Road stretch which is relatively well shaded and would help me cool down.

Funnel a crowd into a bottle neck and they behave like sweaty wild people. Precisely what happened at the 4km water point. People were jostling to get water and gatorade and fruits. I understand why they do it but I hate it. Sweaty people hitting against you when your legs are not co-operating is definitely not my idea of fun on a Sunday morning run. But I had expected much worse crowds. I think that was the only hydration point which was all bottled up with too much sweat and adrenaline. Mr. K did not stop at this point and I asked him to carry on because I knew I was slowing him down.

The next incident happened at the MRC hydration point. It was my biggest and only irritant during the entire run. One of the onlookers on the side of the road was all pumped up and was cheering us on and I was jogging during that point. The bugger literally brought his hands in front of my face and clapped twice I slapped away his hand and continued, though I wanted to slap him too. Bugger if I ever catch him doing that in future I probably might.

Kept running down Greenways Road and when I was running past Dr. MGR Janaki College a policeman was cheering on all the runners. Certainly a happy policeman. Wish we had more such friendly policemen in Madras. But when I saw that policeman cheering on the runners it felt great and it was with that really great feeling I ran over the bridge and finished at the Central Polytechnic Grounds.

But wait, I got the medal but I felt no emotional connect to the run. No joy of having completed a 10k. I realized I was feeling lightheaded and exhausted. Managed to get to the food and down the juice and I surely felt a lot better. After meeting some of the folks from the tower twisters I was headed back home.

It was a good route but the 7am start sure brought in it’s own set of pros and cons. The view of the sunrise from Napier’s Bridge was amazing but the same sun was being cursed by me 30 minutes later. 🙂 Well I should have probably cursed the organizers for scheduling a 7am start for the 10k run. But It was a good run which was well organized and I brought back some lovely memories and one not so lovely memory and of course the beautiful medal. Will be back to run at the TWCM15 even if they start the 10k at 12 noon. Anything for Running and Chennai.

P.S.: The Chennai City Traffic Police (CCTP) does a terrific job in re-routing traffic and helping us run safe. A big thanks to them.

Dusk to Dawn Chennai Night Marathon 2014

If I had told myself last December that I would be running in the second half of 2014 I would have definitely laughed at myself. I don’t remember running ever. Even as a kid. I would never run to field while playing street cricket. So invariably I was made the umpire every time I played.

In fact when I started to run in August I did not aim to run even a 5k. But after the Heritage Run I decided that I could run walk and complete any number of kms. My only worry was ending the race last. Clement Williams a blogger friend had been running with this group called Tower Twisters and one day I decided to go run with them. When I started running with the group I could hardly run. Infact I was the guy everyone left behind when they ran. It felt good to be left behind primarily because I preferred running alone. I wanted to do my own thing. Run at my own pace.

In the mean time I had registered for the 10k at Dusk to Dawn and I just wanted to finish it. So in November I ran in the night to Metallica’s ONE in loop. I did finish that run in 93 mins while acknowledging claps from some people who I had met while running with the tower twisters. I finished the run looking at the skies and when I finished and had the medal around my neck I had to literally hold back my tears It was a feeling I am still trying to comprehend. It was not joy, it was not sadness it was something beyond that. It was like a connection with a higher power.

While theTerry Fox Run had me running for a cause, The Heritage Run got me running for Madras. It was at the Dusk to Dawn that I realized that I need to keep running.

I went to the booth where they were giving out the munchies (pun unintended) and I told the droopy eyed fellow manning that stall that I did not want food but 3 bottles of water. I downed all three and headed home, heated up the food that Nandy had ordered for me and went to sleep. It was a lovely night. No one finished last and I had finished a 10k run with a group of about 7000 people.

But it was not until next morning when I figured out what chaffing was.

A Billion Reasons not to Shop when the sale is on.

For those of you who think that a sale is genuine here is why you never, NEVER, EVER buy during a sale or offer.

What is the motive of a business? To let customers save on bucks. If that is your answer then please think again. Any business is here to make a profit. Ok let’s forget the business for a while. What is the purpose of an individual living in this world? The real reason for an individual living in this world is benefit or profit.

When you were born your parents and family benefited with the cute smiles you gave away. How did you benefit? They cleaned after you and fed you so you could repeat the cute smiles. If you got grumpy your parents were not happy because they did not benefit.

Then you grew up and went to school, the school benefited by the fees you pay them, You benefited by making great friends, learning absolutely nothing and getting whacked by your teachers.

Then you go to college and you benefited by looking and teasing girls and they in turn benefit with all the attention and sometimes they demand that the police give you some extra attention.

Then you get married. Well, this is one point in life where the woman is benefited and the man is at a loss, especially with words. But come, on you were mean to girls before that.

So when an individual life is all about benefit then a business is all about profit. So there is no business out there which will not want you sell at lower profits. No Not even Saravana Stores.

So my dear thondargaley, when some business announces a sale please be aware that the tag prices could be raised and then discounted, the business is trying to push old stock, the place is pushing damaged stock.

By the way all those offers from Pizza places offering Buy one Get one free or some brilliant offer of Garlic bread and pizza and Coke and dessert is probably the company pushing old stock real quick.

CAVEAT EMPTOR… If you actually expected me to give you a billion reasons not to shop during a sale, Well, Stop handling money.

Flipkart naamam Vaazhga, Amazon Naamam Vaazhga, Vaazhga e-Shopping, Valarga Tamilagam, Valarga Tamil Makkal.

Also I love this video clip… simply brilliant!!!

Food Tales – Sam’s Pizza

Decided to get some pizza love this evening. Have been hearing about Sam’s Pizza for a while now so headed right there with Nandy. I don’t have any pictures to post because of this new rule that Nandy and me have implemented. No phone, social media, photographs while eating. Whoever does it first will have to pay for dinner. Have not won even once until now. Hope to soon.

Ordered a plate of Salad from the salad bar. OD’d on the salads. Liked the soya chunky salad, kimchi, carrot and raisin salad.

Ordered the thin crust Hawaiian Pizza 9incher. Toppings were some chunks of pineapple and some chunks of paneer on a Cheese Pizza. The crust was crunchy at the edges and soft on top just the way I like it. Cheese was not up to the mark, too chewy and tasted quite bland. Pizza was way too greasy for my liking.

Service was OK. Water was served in a dirty plastic glass I asked for a replacement and it was done quickly. Had to wait for the salad bar to be refilled. Also the tables and chairs look really worn out from regular use.

They have a wall painting with the nutritional value of pizza. But no mention on what basis.

Bill came to Rs. 670. Will definitely go back for their salad bar. Will give the pizza a miss. For more info please visit : lovecustomwaterbottles.com

Help thy Liver to Help thou

The liver is the largest organ organ in the human body. I am sure you don’t need me to tell you that unless you did not pay attention during biology class in school. The liver works tirelessly to kick out all the toxins from food that we ingest. Yes, there are so many toxins out there and we don’t even know what we are eating these days. Do you know what went into that pizza you gorged on last night? But when the liver can’t handle stuff anymore it gives up on us. We would not be happy if that happened to us.

But what if we did not give up on the liver and somehow cleansed it.

There are so many natural foods which will help us in doing just that. I am not a scientist so I am saying this from personal experience. Here are some.

Garlic does wonders for the liver. Just boil it in water or milk for a while and then chew well before you eat it.

Water flushes out a lot of unwanted stuff from the system. Not just the liver. So stay hydrated.

Turmeric is is a wonder root which not only cleanses the liver but is also a antiseptic and soothes any ulcers you may have in the mouth or stomach.

Greens rush nutrition is a MUST eat and the leaves should form part of everyone’s diet. But the Keela Nellii is the the best for the liver. It flushes all those toxins out.

Food is the best medicine. So starting the Paleo diet is alcohol paleo. You need to listen to your body closely, it tells you what you need to eat. Remember most times you just hear the tongue talking because it is closer to the ear. 🙂

Chennapatnam to Madras to Chennai

Usually there is this 2nd Part Jinx theory. But that sure does not apply to the CBC Tablog-2. Running successfully in blogs near you.

I was born in Madras and now live in Chennai. As time goes on who knows what else it would change into. But what’s in a name? The city has changed with the times but Madras is unbreakable. Madras has been ruled by so many countries but it was during the British rule that the Madras Presidency covered part of present day Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. No wonder the North Indians still call people from the south as Madarasis. While I was in Delhi I tried to educate the northerners that all South Indians are not Madarasis and that the language that we speak is not Madarasi. Futile efforts.

There is hardly anything I want to change about the city, well expect maybe the drainage and the garbage collection and disposal system. But what I would really like to change is the attitude that people have about Chennai. Madras is what you think it is and it is much more and as a friend used to say you can expect to see a person praying at the temple in the morning and he could be seen later in the evening at Shastri Nagar Sharks Bar with a mug of beer chilling out with friends listening to Heavy Metal Music. So anyone who wants to experience Chennai all that they need to do is be Open Minded. Madras is a relatively young city compared to the other metros. But there is so much happening here that people need to change their opinions about the city. The city has always been about change. Well any great city is about change.

And as Rocky says “If I can change and You can change, then everybody can change.” Embrace Chennai!

Dedicated to the city of Madras

Next Up is Dr. Jennifer Divia Clement who blogs at Princess of God and also at Dr. JC’s Classroom The zoology blog has some interesting stuff and I hope to read more blogposts from her especially on the Zoology blog..

Independance Day 2014 speech by Shri Narendra Modi

Modi is a great speaker and for the first time I listened to him speak and such a great speech. Stuff like this must be listened to every time one doubts the self and the nation.

1. Say no to violence
2. Teach responsibility and accountability to sons
3. Build toilets in every school for boys and girls.
4. Clean India
5. Bank accounts to every person in the country.
6. Create model villages. Model villages will make a model country.

And for the manufacturing sector

1. India is not isolated from the world so let’s think the world.
2. Zero Defects – in the goods and Zero effects – no negative effect to the environment
3. Manufacture Goods which we can proudly say “Made in India”

The strength of the saviour is greater than the strength of the destructor.

And all these points and more were made not by the Pradhan Mantri but by the Pradhan Sevak Shri Narendra Modi.At one point during the speech he mentioned how standing on the lofty ramparts of Red Fort he can say a lot of things and then he added that if the people work for 14 hours he will work for 15 hours.

A motivating speech and if the crores of people can take one step forward then the entire nation would have taken a step forward.

First time I heard a Prime Minister call out Bharat Mata ki Jai and Vande Matram in addition to Jai Hind for .

Vande Matram!
Bharat Mata ki Jai

Jai Hind!

Food Tales – From The Past

Food tales is a chronicle of my experiences with food. I love what I eat but do I write about food with equal passion. These tales are an attempt to explore that and of course share my love for food.

I am a proud product of Don Bosco, Egmore. I spent 14 years of my life studying there and recently at DB Converge our alumni meet I had a chance to interact with a few of my teachers. I realized that the only people other than your parents who still get to hit you hard (even if you are old and have a huge belly to prove that you are old) are your teachers. Teachers definitely hold a much higher position than the Gods. So Mrs. Sarojini Govindan who was my Hindi teacher in primary school saw me and recognized me in a split second (even though I have lost all my hair and grown a huge paunch) and whacks me on my shoulder and says “You don’t have what you should have and have something you definitely should not have, lose your paunch Aravind.” That was indeed an eye opener for me.

I still remember amma asking me to study but I simply hated school work though I loved reading everything other than my school books. At one point my mother even locked me up in my grandfathers office room asking me to study a few chapters and when she opened the door a few hours later I was found reading the telephone directory. So amma figured that the best way to get me to study was not to use the stick but to use the carrot. I was not a bunny to go eat carrots so what did I love the most?

We simply called it “Urundai” at home. It was besan (Chickpea flour) mixed with powdered sugar and ghee and formed into the shape of a ladoo. Sometimes cashewnuts roasted in ghee would also be added.

So the deal amma made with me was, I had to finish a chapter then she would ask me questions and if I answered it to her satisfaction I got one Urundai. I would finish chapters which I didn’t have to so I could get lots of bonus urundais. So things were fine at home because of the urundais. Back in school it did not look too good. My teachers would keep complaining to my mom that I was a brilliant student but my lack of effort made my brilliance very dull. My teachers would not give me urundais when I did well in class.

So life went on with me studying well at home in the company of Urundais but only scrapping through in exams. My maternal grandfather would keep telling me that I should not have exam fear. Little did he know about my love for Urundais.

And then in 1991 Narasimha Rao became the prime Minister of India. He along with Finance Minister Manmohan Singh opened up the Indian Economy and in came food pouring in. Food that earlier could only be brought in select stores in Madras or you had to ask people who went abroad on trips.

Recipe for Urundai

1200 gms – Chickpea flour
200 gms – Powdered Sugar
200 gms – Hot Ghee
Cashewnuts

Mix the chickpea flour and powdered sugar with the hot ghee and mix well.
Make them into the shape of ladoos. I am sure you will get a lot of urundais with so much kadalai maavu.

Simple recipe, right.

We now do a healthy version of the Urundai. No Ghee, No Sugar and no Kadalai Maavu (Chickpea flour). But I will keep that for another post.

The Leh Trip – 5 years From The Past

It has been 5 years since a group of friends decided to go on a trip to Leh, Ladakh. It was a high that has been pretty much un-beatable since literally we travelled the highest roads in India. This trip happened much before the bollywood movie 3 Idiots. So not too many Indians. Actually it felt like I was in some foreign country. Leh was flooded with foreigners. We had a chance to taste food from different countries. Of course we were there for a different purpose. Capture the beauty of the region.

Like my friend Joel aptly said “Even a blind man can take beautiful photos of Leh.” Beauty is all around you. If you get a good home-stay from removals eastbourne then you get the additional experience of living the Leh life and also drink endless butter teas. We stayed at the Sia La family at their guesthouse. Lovely family. Great place to stay and walking distance to the Bazzar.

I wish I could do this trip again sometime soon. Only regret I had was we could not spend enough time in Pangong Tso and Nubra Valley. But we visited so many monasteries and the plates of momo’s and bowls of thukpa that I consumed were innumerable.

This trip was one that I cannot forget. Cheers to my friends Adele, Erina and Joel. It has been 5 years guys. Let’s go on our next adventure soon. 🙂

Kakoos, Latrine, Lavatory, Toilet

Each of those words mean the same thing to me the place to SHIT.

A healthy body needs to excrete and excrete it does. But at times it tends to get clogged and create problems for the body and the mind too. Similarly when people shit in the open it clogs the smooth functioning of the society. If people in the cities think that open defecation is common only in villages please think again. It happens in every place where there is a huge density in population. People in the Indian metros will agree that open defecation happens not just in slums. Parents let their children defecate in public. Women have to attend natures call in the dark because of lack of toilet facilities. Men claim that there is great pleasure when they get to crap in the open with the breeze caressing their arse.

Several schools in the country don’t have toiletable or any other toilet facilities for girls. Of course the boys can do it in the open. Bus Stands, Railway Stations, Parks there is so much shit everywhere. Dog Shit, Cow Shit, Human Shit, Shit in railway stations. By the way our Railways leaves the shit in the open. You Shit in their stinking Lavatory and it drops right to the track. There is so much shit in railway stations. Someone’s got to clean them. Say hello to the scavengers. People who make a living cleaning shit. See how I put the Shudras in their right place.

If we need to progress as a nation we need to get our shit cleaned.

UNICEF is running the Poo2Loo Campaign. You might wanna check it out.

Also there was this interesting video about a group in Kolkata which hoses people urinating in public. BEWARE!