Friday, 7 September 2012

Of Being Zen & Creating Muffin (Tops)...

To understand simplicity, there must be chaos. And in simplicity, we find hilarity…  And I think that holds true for everything in life, from relationships to food.

I’m sure I don’t have anything more to add to what has already been said (about a million and one times) about “life in Bombay” (oops…Mumbai). The traffic, the pollution, the ever burgeoning population, the incessant rains, the omnipresent potholes…blah blah blah… But living in Bombay will make you realise how effortless everything becomes after a point of time (usually about a year and a half, which includes a lot of whining, cursing – from your luck to everything about the city, occasional bouts of crying, frequent trips back home – or at least trying to recreate home food to help you feel nested…)

I just returned home from our little Friday night date (masala chai and oatmeal biscuits – not home baked so no recipe for that tonight, listening to some great music in our car and enjoying the breeze at Bandstand. Simple, romantic and inexpensive!) (And believe it or not, I’m listening to the Backstreet Boys right now…*sheepish laughter*…I mean don’t let that be the yardstick to measure my taste in music…It’s just that I happen to be from that generation. We all grew up listening to & loving that sort of music – don’t deny it! Was feeling a little nostalgic, and figured there’s no better way to transport myself back to the 90s than a little dose of some sappy music.)

Anyway, the point I wanted to make (before I got sidetracked)…is something I’m trying hard to remember right now (damn the music!) Hmm… Oh yes, got it. With the right perspective, living in Bombay can be like being in a constant state of meditation. Being Zen, if you will. You just need to ignore everything that bothers you (and there’s a lot that will bother you), simplify things and look at the bigger picture. Once you are able to achieve that, life becomes pretty darn easy.

When I think of it, if I wasn’t surrounded by all this chaos, I would not have been able to appreciate the simpler things, the simpler times…and strive to keep things simple to create more fond memories for the future.

I had been thinking of the good old days of bunking college and yet somehow still managing to pass our exams, of hanging out and gorging on junk food and yet not putting on even an iota of weight (damn you, slowing metabolism), of crude jokes and heartfelt laughter… Beautiful memories. And for me somehow, thinking about the good times also evokes a yearning in my heart (ok, my tummy) for the food we shared that made those moments even more special. Like the yummy (& pocket-friendly) samosas we would gorge on at our college canteen with piping hot coffee on freezing cold Delhi mornings. And on days when we were feeling a little more extravagant (we were just a bunch college students living on meagre pocket money after all) and would head out to a respectable coffee shop, there would even be muffins!

And while there are no winters in Bombay (and alas, there’ll never be) there are few things that can match a good muffin with coffee (or tea) in the morning. And that’s exactly what I’m planning to do in the morning- bake a batch of muffins (ok, probably a little later in the day. I do have yoga in the morning… to sweat out like a pig and then come back home and hog like one…tehaha…talk about irony!) I was originally planning of baking plain muffins, but since I will be visiting MIL in the evening (yep, my turn now) I would probably be doing apple & raisin ones. I will surely be sharing the recipe and the pictures, depending on the outcome of course.

To eat muffins and then wonder how to ever get rid of that muffin top!

Here’s to all the simplicity and hilarity in our lives!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Eccentric Baker is Born - Let's Raise our Cup of Cinnamon Clove Tea!

As always, he had to abandon me at the time I needed him the most. And for what? A very important, secret, (cult-ish*) meeting to attend. That too on the day a giant meteorite strikes the earth (read MIL coming over home)… Hapless and confused, I decide to leave with him anyways and pay a visit to my beloved childhood friend (ok, again sub-text for self-centred, needy, oh-I’m-so-better-than-you sorta friend whom you can never shake off, even if you move cities… countries… planets… galaxies… you get my drift). A 20 minute cab drive and a lecture on “how it is absolutely abominable and contemptible it is to have women work and live off your wife’s/daughter’s money” later, I reach the narrow, crowded by-lanes of Mahalaxmi.

I am escorted by my beloved friend and promptly taken upstairs to her 6th floor apartment. She has just moved to town with her husband (whom I’m not particularly fond of…about which I could tell you but that would be digressing… and I NEVER do that, as you would come to know). It’s a nice little apartment she has got all to herself (fine, I’m jealous she gets to live all alone… you know what that means right? C’mon, I can’t spell out everything… there’s something known as discretion after all…) (I’m also jealous of some beautiful china she has got from my most favourite store ever, from where I cannot shop because I have no proper place to keep such beautiful china because even after a year and a half of marriage, the house renovation remains impending… talk about having an efficient husband. Humph!) Some snacks, delicious coffee (I have to give it to her. She makes the best coffee ever) and whining about our respective mothers-in-law later, we decide to take a small trip to the nearby mall.

Some window shopping (things are either too expensive or too tight… literally… fat thighs anyone?) later, we are joined by her husband. It’s almost 9.30 on a Friday night and the two of them are still indulging me because my husband is still too busy chanting hymns, performing rituals, and generally being a part of a secret cult (which he claims is a fraternity) and not answering his phone.

We decide to get some dinner. I feel guilty for not only intruding but also having them treat me to dinner (fyi, it was nothing special or fancy… it didn’t taste very good at all actually). So I offer to buy them dessert at a nice place (trust me, it was a necessity after that meal).

We prance about the mall and finally reach one of the city’s most famous eateries called… (Umm… wait a sec… I’m not sure how I feel about free publicity yet… if someone was to throw me a free meal or something, I could consider…because it would still technically be “free” publicity… if you can work out the link) And lo and behold, my phone rings! It’s my darling husband calling to tell me what an amazing time he had *dancing the chicken dance, wearing crow feathers on his head, wearing a garland made out of egg shells…(ok maybe he didn’t say that…but I’m not sure that that’s not what actually transpired… I would never really know… since it’s a secret cult, I mean “fraternity” and my husband takes his vows very seriously. Except for the ones he took at our marriage. Like keeping me happy and taking me around the world and buying me beautiful jewellery… so what if that’s not what the priest said? That’s just implied! But yes, enough digression!)

Darling husband would be joining us shortly he says. So we take a table for 4 at a booth for 8. I’m assuming the restaurant staff must have assumed it’s going to be a reasonably big order and so were being reasonable accommodating to us. We wait and we wait and we wait and finally darling husband turns up. Just a little over 40 mins after we spoke… (I was not mad at all… I perfectly understood… That’s just the sort of wife I am after all…) Trying to be at his usual charming best, he starts cracking jokes and has us all (at least me) laughing. We place our gianormous order comprising of 2 cappuccinos, 1 tea and a chocolate mud cake.

Now you would think that I would gush and fawn over how delicious the chocolate cake was, in case you are gullible enough to fall for my name and believe I’m going to write about cookies and cakes and all the things you bake… but don’t forget the prefix to the word “baker”. Eccentric.

The cake was not much too my liking. A little too bitter, if you ask me, but everyone else loved it.

What really had me transported to this world of absolute bliss was the divine Cinnamon and Clove Tea. Just a whiff of it and I was in heaven. (Lucky enough, they serve it in a tea pot so you get two cups…hehahaha… What? It’s recession!) That was easily the best tea I have ever had. Can easily gulp down innumerable cups of it (bladder permitting. Ok fine, I’m gross too) with some lovely cherry crumble or apple cake (that is not the only mention that cakes are going to get in this blog. Promise.)

With the heavy downpour outside, and the hoarse throat inside (I have a bad cold. And a bad sense of humour. Completely unrelated but totally relevant things to share) darling husband and I decide to recreate the magic. Of the Tea. The beautiful Cinnamon and Clove Tea. (what did you think? I mean seriously, get your mind out of the gutter). And since I’m busy writing my first ever blog post (yay!!!)  my darling husband, despite the multiple warts on his feet which make it difficult for him to walk
 (we used to think they were corns earlier and refer to them as cornfields…ha…ok, maybe funny only for us), very sweetly makes some aforementioned tea
for us (with the help of my instructions of course).

Did it turn out to be as good as the one we had at…?(you thought I would trip, didn’t you ;) )

Well, with my cold, there’s no way of knowing. I can’t smell a porcupine’s spray for heaven’s sake. But it did feel nice and soothing to my inflamed throat. And it does sort of comes very close to the best cup of tea I’ve ever had only because darling husband made it being in the condition that he is… Men do redeem themselves sometimes :)

If you care enough for the recipe, we used 1 and a half cups of water, one clove, a pinch of cinnamon and a teaspoon of Assam tea. I believe Darjeeling tea might be a better option but we used what we had. Just boil the clove and cinnamon in the water for about a minute or two and then add the tea. You don’t want the tea to overpower the flavours and aromas of the cinnamon and the clove so don’t brew for too long. We enjoyed it without sugar but feel free to add some if that’s not your cup of tea ;)