Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Occupied: work, Vegas, you know how it is.

Buried under a pile of papers at work at the moment, and off to Vegas in a couple of days.

Will get back to cooking and writing next week.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this fun list I came across
here which was originally from Lulu's vintage.

10 Good Reasons to Choose Vintage Gifts

10. It is the ultimate eco-gift! No landfill packaging. No new use of resources or labor.
9. Craftsmanship. Vintage items were made out of high quality materials and feature unique design details.
8. History. You are buying an item that has proved to be fashionable throughout history.
7. History (part 2). It is fun to own something vintage and think of how a person from a whole other generation appreciated it as well.
6. Uniqueness. No chance of hitting the streets with a new scarf only to see three other people with the same one!
5. Supporting a small business. Instead of lining the pockets of big box stores, you can support an independent business owner.
4. Authenticity. Why buy rip-offs of old designs, when you can get the original.
3. Authenticity (part 2). Why buy something that has been "distressed" to look old when you can get something that has genuine patina.
2. Save some cash. Vintage items are often times much less expensive than new.
1. Don't participate in the mad rush to the mall. Vintage is easy to find off the beaten path.

And while I rarely gift vintage items, my family will be horrified to learn about me wearing old jewellery and clothes (and yes, even shoes!) that I didn't inherit from them, but I do love all things vintage!

My friend Elizabeth has a
lovely website selling unique vintage stuff. (Have a look - she cycles through stuff quickly so check back if there's nothing listed).

More from me next week!

(picture credit:; hopefully I'll have my own next week!)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Kheema (the real deal)

Now, back to food.

My family and I were always part-time meat eaters.
The pattern of meat consumption in our household was sporadic: meat was only prepared 1-3 times a week and was, therefore, a huge TREAT. Meat was served at parties, which usually happened at least once a week, and on another couple of nights depending on how bored we were with the usual ‘ghar-ka-khana’. Almost all the favourites that my brother and I lusted after were “non-veg” (as we like to call it in India). Meat also never made it into our school lunchboxes.

All this led to the rise of the “tastes better than meat” myth that my parents propagated regarding certain veg items. (I say parents, but in all honesty, it was mostly my Dad who presented us with these wild exaggerations of the power of vegetarian dishes that were doctored up with spices usually reserved for meat.) I’ll mention the top ranked offender here, and discuss the rest of these items another time – I think the thought of too many of these dishes at once would overwhelm me.

So, the ultimate outrage was when this “better than meat” myth was applied to the bizarre and inexplicable item: Nutri nuggets. Now these strange, spongy, soy based things were either cubed or minced, (the mince being only very slightly superior), and then cooked up like kheema (a most delicious minced meat dish that tastes nothing like this soy situation). This nutri nugget version frequently turned up in my lunchbox, and I can’t say I remember ANY of my friends being willing to trade on those days.

So I’ll spare you that too, and pass on a recipe for the real thing – kheema – but now you know that you can modify it as you please with any number of vegetarian options and obtain the “tastes better than meat” flavour that my Dad raved about.

This recipe is adapted from one by the amazing Madhur Jaffrey, and is very easy and quick. (It's usually wetter than in this image, but that's your personal preference too).

Kheema (30-45min)

1.5 lb minced meat (I often use turkey, but lamb or beef are richer and more authentic)
Green peas (frozen ones are what I usually use – these are added to taste, 6-7 oz)
1-2 onions (finely chopped)
6-7 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1-2 inch cube ginger (grated or shredded)
Cilantro/ coriander (fresh leaves and dried powder both)
Seasonings to taste (salt, pepper, cumin and garam masala)
1-2 Green chilies (depending on how hot you like it)
Lemon or lime juice (this is critical in my opinion or the dish tastes too meaty and will need heaps of garam masala)

1. Fry onions in medium-hot oil until lightly browned. Add garlic, fry for 1 min.
2. Add the minced meat, ginger, green chilies, dry cilantro powder, cumin.
3. Stir and fry mixture for 5 min, breaking up lumps, add some water to the mix (meat should all be covered in water, no more).
4. Cover the dish and heat on low for 20-30 min until it’s thoroughly cooked and has absorbed the flavours of the masala.
5. Add peas, fresh cilantro, lemon juice, garam masala, and salt to taste.
6. Cook until peas are ready.
7. Taste the mix and add more lemon juice or garam masala depending on your taste.

Serve with rice or parathas : )

Another kheema recipe coming with (with tamaatar as per Priya's request)

P.S. My issues with nutrinuggets seem validated when one of the first things that pops up in a google search about them is a way to make bacterial culture media from nutrinuggets - ew

Friday, August 17, 2007

Shout Out..

to all my school friends out there!

The class of 1992 has re-surfaced and it's great to be back in touch with you all.
I dedicate this photo to you : )

If you're ever in Boston, do get in touch. It would be great to meet over a coffee (or a martini) and laugh about our military-style bloomer checks!

Hugs to you all, N

P.S. I found this sweet bloomer pic here which I came across at this wonderful craft blog the dotted line.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Lives of Others...

Saddened by the news that the German actor Ulrich Muehe who played the Stasi agent in Lives of Others recently passed away.

His was one of the most touching performances I've seen in the cinema. I'm sorry that he is no more.