There were times when as a kid I used to love devouring noodles from my friend’s tiffins . There were times when I used to love watching the road side vendor tossing with great finesse those never-ending strands of noodles. There were times when the noodle counter would be my first stop in a marriage reception party . And there were times, when noodles recipes, each with a different twist, were exchanged and debated over girly chatter.
Well, Noodles is what I learnt to cook after Tea . And one of the simplest noodles preparations is Egg Noodles. This requires only 3 core ingredients – noodles, egg, soya sauce.And the cooking time is short enough to fit within a commercial break on TV.In short, a direct competition to everyone’s favourite Maggi .
To make egg noodles, first boil some noodles in salted water with a few drops of oil to prevent sticking. This should not take more than 3-4 minutes because the recipe requires the noodles to be still firm. While the noodles is boiling, scramble 1 egg in a pan, season with salt and cook for 1-2 minutes. Now take out the egg and in the same pan, heat some oil. When the oil starts to get warm, add the 3 mother sauces (soya sauce, chilli sauce, tomato sauce). Maintaining a balance between the 3 sauces is important. Chilli sauce adds heat, tomato sauce adds tanginess and soya sauce adds colour and a salty, fermented flavour. Personally I use soya sauce, tomato sauce and chilli sauce in the ratio of 4:2:1, but feel free to tweak it according to your own preference. Optionally, you can also add a dash of white vinegar or lemon concentrate. Remove the pan from heat if the oil sputters too much while adding the sauce. Finally mix in the noodles and the egg and cook on high heat for 1-2 min, tossing and stirring continuously.
Egg Noodles can be had as a snack or as breakfast and can even be served as a tiffin item for kids. Given it’s superb flavour and simplicity and ease of preparation, it is an ideal recipe to be considered as anyone’s comfort food . Enjoy it!!
Veg Fried Rice
Veg Fried Rice, though having chinese origins, has over the years been re-invented in so many different ways, that it would be totally justified to call it an Indian dish . The recipe I describe here is something I had when I first came to Bangalore some 10 years ago. Needless to say, it was delicious enough to leave such a lingering impact on my taste buds .
For veg fried rice, one needs to keep two rules in mind. Firstly use fresh, colourful veggies and secondly, dice them very fine and uniform.I have used beans, carrots, red bell pepper, and corn kernels.Also for enhanced flavour, I have used Basmati rice.
Once all the prep is done, heat some oil in a kadhai. Brown off some onion slices and then add the chopped vegetables. Cook for around 5 minutes, and then mix in the boiled rice. Toss well over high heat so that the veggies are well incorporated into the rice. Season with salt, black pepper, white pepper and a dash of lemon juice. Optionally, you can also add 1 tbsp of soya sauce.Cook for another 5 minutes, and then serve hot garnished with coriander leaves.
You can have fried rice with any curry accompaniment. However it would be paired best with veg manchurian. Whatever your preferences, try out this simple recipe in your kitchen and enjoy it with your friends and family .
Chinese food has been popular in India from a very long time now. Chowmein has even become an integral part of the street food scene in different nooks and corners of the country. Maggi is something which most of us have been eating from the time we were kids. Momos is another chinese speciality that has made deft inroads in the Indian culinary scene. In short, Indo-chinese food has become the new hallmark of the “hindi chini bhai bhai” paradigm .
Today’s recipe is Hakka Noodles, deriving it’s name from the chinese province of Hakka. Hakka Noodles is basically noodles cooked with plenty of colourful veggies. In that sense, it is the Pasta Primavera of the Chinese cuisine .
Hakka Noodles is prepared using the chinese trademark stir-frying technique. Stir-frying is generally done in a wok, which is somewhat similar to the Indian kadhai, except that it has a wider bottom to provide a uniform heating surface.Also, stir-frying is done over a very high temperature and this is what makes replicating the perfect chinese noodles at home so difficult. Only in the industrial gas burners used in restaurants, can one cook perfect stir-fried food.Nevertheless, this dish can be tried by the home cook if one is not very particular about the elusive perfection of stir-fried food.
To make Hakka Noodles, first boil some noodles (I have used egg noodles) in salted water for 5-8 min. Add few drops of oil to the water to prevent the noodles from sticking.Next cut a few veggies into juliennes. I have used red and green bell peppers, babycorn, carrots and spring onions. One can also use shredded cabbage and bean sprouts.Once the noodles is cooked, drain it. Now heat some oil in a wok (or kadhai). Using groundnut oil is recommended. Now one by one add the vegetables into the wok and stir-fry by stirring continuously for around 3-4 min over high heat.Next season the veggies with salt, ajina moto and white pepper powder. Then add 2-3 tbsp of soya sauce. This will impart the dark colour to noodles. You can also add a dash of white vinegar for tanginess. Finally mix in the boiled noodles and stir for another 2-3 minutes, till the noodles is uniformly coated with sauce.
Chinese cooking is easy to master, but most often requires a lot of ingredients. But having said that, it’s always worth it.So next time you are having a craving for chowmein, then instead of making a dash for your nearest chinese outlet, try out this recipe in your home. It will cost you only a fraction, not to mention the joy of stir-frying .
What is it?
It’s a hot dog.
It’s a hot hot dog.
It’s a hot dog.
-Keanu Reeves in Sweet November
Hotdog is one of those popular American fast foods that’s steadily making it’s appearance in the Indian street food scene.And for those bewildered by the name (as I was for a very long time ), of course, it’s got nothing to do with dogs
Hotdogs traditionally consist of meat sausages placed within rectangular pieces of sliced bun and topped with some kind of sauce (tomato, mustard, mayonnaise etc.).And to justify the “hot” in the hotdog, it is grilled on a hot plate before being served. And it is eaten in the same manner as any other sandwich.
With hotdog buns and packaged meat sausages easily available in superstores these days, it has become very easy to prepare hotdogs at home; even easier than sandwiches I would argue. Just fry off a couple of chicken sausages and heat the buns on a pan with little amount of butter/oil. Place lettuce leaves in the slit of the bun, then the sausage pieces, and finally onion slices and jalapenos(optional). Top off with a sauce of your choice. I used tomato ketchup and mustard sauce. Don’t forget to have it hot
And in case the “hot dog” turns out to be a “hot hot dog”, then you can take my cue and have “thanda thanda cool cool Roohafza” . Strange combination, I know…..but it helps .
In many ways, the Parliament is the keystone, the chief flag-bearer of democracy in India.It’s the forum where legislation is enacted, where pressing civic issues are debated and where the government is held accountable. The Parliament, constituted of people’s representatives, directly or indirectly elected, represents the voice of the nation.However, even though the architects of the Indian constitution gave a lot of thought into designing several innovative checks and balances amongst the various government institutions, the Parliament and the Parliamentarians were surprisingly given a lot of leeway.The Parliament functions as one of those institutions that’s accountable neither to the executive nor to the judiciary. And as for the Parliamentarian, the only time they are held accountable is at the end of their 5-yr or 6-yr term when elections come knocking, and even then their performance within the parliament is almost never a voting issue.
The Parliament is in several rudimentary ways a business house, where the daily business is to debate issues and pass legislation after deliberating on the pros/cons.The effectiveness of any business house is ensured by demanding accountability from the corporation as a whole, which in turn is ensured by demanding accountability from every single employee.And this accountability is measured informally on a day-to-day basis, and formally during the annual/bi-annual appraisals.So why should the Parliament be any different? In fact, the accountability demanded from the parliamentarians should be even more stringent, since they are responsible to the whole nation, while a business corporation is accountable only to it’s shareholders.
One of the ways of fixing accountability is by ensuring transparency.On this count, our parliament scores quite well. The daily proceedings and records of the parliament are open to public scrutiny through live telecasts and information published on the parliament’s website. It is also possible to view the record of every individual parliamentarian on these same websites. Although it can be argued that most of the data is in raw form and not entirely suited for direct interpretation by the masses. Apart from transparency, independent monitoring is another way of ensuring transparency.While transparency lays the onus of preparing the report-card on vigilant citizens, monitoring ensures that report-cards are drawn in a professional manner and with authority.
While the Parliament as a institution does have a lot of transparency built in, it’s the individual parliamentarians who are hardly ever held accountable for their functioning and performance in the Parliament. It is in that context that I suggest the following bullet-points for fixing accountability on our parliamentarians.
- Just like every publicly traded company has to be audited by independent firms on an annual basis, likewise, the parliament too should be monitored by an independent statutory body.
- The findings of this independent monitoring body should be captured in an annual report and placed in the public knowledge. It should also be adequately broadcast through press conferences and media briefings.This report should be the final word of authority as far as the functioning of the individual parliamentarians are concerned.
- The suggestions, recommendations and punitive measures contained in the report should be considered as binding on both the houses, and it should be the obligation of the House Speaker to implement the same, probably after due consideration from a Standing Committee.
- In this age of open governance, it should be made mandatory for every parliamentarian to maintain their personal websites, where they constantly provide updates on the debates they participated in, their opinion on crucial legislations and the manner in which they disbursed of their MPLAD funds.They should be provided with all the support and assistance needed to accomplish the same.
- Attendance is something which is enforced religiously in our academic and business houses. So why should exceptions be made for our parliamentarians? Monitoring the attendance of individual parliamentarians is not enough. Punitive action should be taken on erring members by means of levying hefty penalty fees.
- Every election, our politicians do a lot of drum beating on their supposed achievements.Nothing is wrong with this, but no one verifies their statements. So it should be made mandatory for every sitting MP and MLA to submit their individual records on their performance in the parliament and status of their MPLAD-funded projects, along with the affidavit that they currently submit.All these personal statements should be ratified by the Election Commission and any discrepancy should attract punitive action.
- The same records that are mentioned in the point above should be condensed into pamphlet advertisements and mandatorily distributed in their constituency along with the daily newspaper.
Some of the measures suggested above may be too radical to be implemented. But in these days of adjournments, unruly behaviour, parliament stalling, walkouts staged by opposition,passing of important bills without a reasonable debate,demanding of resignations on smallest of pretexts etc etc, only stringent measures can bring about decorum in the house. While it’s perfectly alright for the parliament to exercise oversight on the functioning of the executive, a breakdown in governance by the executive should not lead to a ripple effect of causing a breakdown in the functioning of the Parliament. Only by demanding accountability from our elected representatives can we ensure that our Parliament functions in the spirit that was conceived by the founders of our constitution. And only by demanding accountability, can we ensure that laws are made to protect the common man and not to protect the tainted politicians and crony capitalists.Only be demanding accountability, can we ensure that landmark reforms such as the Lokpal Bill, Land Acquisition Bill, Representation of the People Bill and the Communal Violence Bill, all see the light of day without being diluted beyond the point of being effective.
Egg in a Nest
Recently, I was catching up on some old movies, and I happened to watch V for Vendetta.One of the unusually engrossing scenes in the movie (no idea how it escaped my attention earlier), is when Hugo Weaving (and later on, even Stephen Rea), cook this dish called Eggy in a Basket, for the lead heroine played by Natalie Portman. I call it engrossing, because Hugo cooks it with all the theatrics of a pan flipping chef worth his salt .And bingo, this recipe was immediately on my checklist.
Eggy in a Basket, Egg in a Nest, Egg Basket etc etc…this dish goes by several names. It is a creative re-interpretation of the traditional English breakfast, Egg n’ Toast. It’s one of those dishes that’s full of buttery and eggy goodness …and a strict no-no for the calorie conscious!
With this disclaimer, let me now talk about the dish. I am sure you are wondering how the egg managed to fit so cosily in the center . Well, the secret is that the egg is resting in a hole cut in the center of the bread slice. For this recipe, take any bread slice that’s big enough and firm enough. Cut out a round (or any shape you desire) hole in the center with a sharp cutter. Coat one side with a generous amount of butter and toast it butter-side down on a fry pan. While the bread is on the pan, coat the other side with butter too (I know, that sounds unusual, but if you can coat both sides of the bread with butter while balancing it in your hands, then go for it!). Once the bread is sufficiently browned on one side, flip it, por some oil in the hole, and then break a egg into that hole. Season the egg with salt and pepper. The temperature of the pan should be tuned in such a way that the bread does not get burnt, while the egg cooks. After a minute or so, sprinkle some oil on the egg, and then flip it deftly, so that the egg can cook on it’s sunny side. Remove after 30sec or so and serve it hot.However, if you like your egg runny, then feel free to leave the sunny side uncooked.
Egg in a Nest makes for an ideal, lazy and romantic Sunday breakfast. And though only a single toast, trust me, it’s filling enough. Enjoy this with a hot cup of tea
Spanish Omelette with Stuffed Mushrooms
This dish elevates the humble omelette to all it’s glory . It’s a far cry from the dreary bread omelette which is a staple breakfast and snack item in Indian homes. Stuffed Omelettes are one of those versatile dishes which can be tuned to one’s imagination. Stuffings can be one’s favourite veggies or minced meat or even mushrooms as in this case. And one can have this as a meal all by itself or along with any bread accompaniments.
Stuffed Omelettes are thicker than the regular omelettes and a tad well-cooked. To prepare this dish, first saute some chopped button mushrooms in a generous amount of butter along with salt, herb seasonings and chopped coriander leaves. Cook until dry. Next fry an omelette in the traditional way, except make sure that the base is twice as thick. Once the omelette is cooked on both sides, spread the mushrooms in the centre and fold the opposite edges to form a roll. Serve hot.
My dad gave me pass marks for this dish . So do try this in your homes as well. It is a bit unusual combination, but trust me, it tastes awesome . Enjoy cooking!!
Aloo Bread Roll
And I present to you yet another potato based snack . Aloo Bread Roll is one of those delicacies which I used to savour in my childhood days. Indeed, it was prepared only on special occasions, such as iftaars or when guests came visiting.I not only used to love eating it, but also used to love watching my mother and sister preparing it. For some odd reason, the preparation process always caught my imagination. And it’s one of those snacks which I have eaten on the sly several times
Well, Aloo Bread Roll is a very simple, but kinda lenghty recipe. Firstly, boil and mash some potatoes. Next in a pan,fry some chopped onions, chopped green chillies and peanuts (optional). Mix in the mashed potatoes along with coriander leaves and add salt and any other seasoning of your choice. Cook for 5 min and then allow to cool.Once cooled, shape the potato mix into small cylinders (or rather sausage). Now, take a slice of white bread, lightly soak in water, and then press gently to remove excess water. In the centre of the bread slice, put the potato cylinder and then pull up the opposite edges of the slice so that the potato is completely covered by the bread. Use extra bread if needed.This step requires a lot of love and care, so don’t hurry . Once done, keep the pieces in the fridge for 5-10 min, so that the bread can properly adhere to the potato. Finally, deep fry until golden brown.
Aloo Bread Roll will taste best when served with an accompaniment of tomato or green chutney.So try this out and enjoy with your friends and family . Happy Cooking!!
Pasta with Spinach
Any fan of Italian cuisine would love experimenting with Pasta, and I am in no way different . Pasta is a very versatile dish and can be given a multitude of tones and colours and flavours.Almost any vegetable in the world can be married into a pasta dish, with utmost ease and fantastic end-result. So today’s recipe is one such marriage made in heaven – Spinach and Pasta!
Well, firstly Spinach is packed with vitamins and minerals and is considered very healthy. It’s also easily available and widely used in Indian cuisine.Spinach itself is a very flexible ingredient and can be easily incorporated into several dishes.
To make Spinach Pasta, cook any variety of pasta ( I have taken fusilli) until it’s al-dente.Next take some fresh Spinach leaves (discard the stems), and chop roughly.Cook the leaves in a pan with a little bit of butter and salt for around 1 min. Next, in a separate pan, prepare some white sauce, which is a classic Italian sauce. Melt some butter in a pan, and then add 1 tbsp of refined flour (maida). Cook for about 1 min and then add 1 glass of milk. Cook this mixture for 5 minutes or until it acquires a sauce-like consistency. Season the sauce with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning(oregano, parsley, chilli flakes). Finally mix the pasta and the cooked spinach leaves into the sauce.Optionally, sprinkle some grated parmesan cheese from top.Serve hot
Personally, I am a huge glutton when it comes to White Sauce and I can lick dry any pasta dish that’s cooked in it .The charm of this sauce lies in it’s simplicity, not to mention it’s flavour.
So do try out this recipe in your homes and enjoy it with your families. Bon Apetite!!
Methi Paratha is one of those simple and healthy paratha dishes that’s perfect for breakfast.Methi or Fenugreek, like any other green leaves, has lots of medicinal properties and is used in Indian Cooking in a variety of ways.One just has to be a tad careful when cooking with methi leaves, because it is slightly bitter, and hence should always be used in small quantities.
In methi paratha, methi is combined with the dough instead of being used as a stuffing like in traditional parathas. To make the dough, take some flour in a bowl and add roughly chopped methi leaves, diced onions, chopped green chillies, salt, 1 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp curd(for smoothness), and a little amchur or mango powder (to take away the bitterness). Knead the dough with little water till it is soft and non-sticky. Leave aside for 15 minutes. Next shape into balls (slightly bigger than chapati balls), and flatten and cook it like any roti. When it’s almost cooked, add little oil or butter on both sides and cook on the tawa till it’s done.
You can have methi paratha with pickle or curd.Unlike other parathas, it does not require too much effort to prepare and is also lighter on the palate. So include this in your weekly menus and live a happy and healthy life