Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Easiest Steamed Veg Momos Ever!

"In the mood for (indian) Chinese" is a real thing, and when it hits you have to either go out there and grab a place at Chinese Room, or make it at home.
I decided to make these momos at home and hence the post!

By the way, we associate dumplings or momos with Chinese cuisine, they are after all, an essential dish in every Chinese restaurant here, but many believe that the dish is native to Nepal, popular among the Newar community in Kathmandu valley.
Bet you didn't know that!

Anyway, the recipe..

Makes : 6 (i had dough for 2 more left over, my filling ran out, so makes 8)

The dough for the cover

1. Maida (all purpose flour) - 1 cup
2. Salt - a pinch
3. Baking powder - 1/4th tsp
4. Water - about 1/4th cup. enough to make a stiff dough

Combine all these ingredients and make a stiff dough.
Keep it aside to rest

Filling -

1. Cabbage - 1/2 cup grated
2. Carrots - 1/2 cup grated
3. Onion  - 1/4th cup, cut thinly
4. Garlic - 3 cloves, sliced thinly
5. Oil - 1tbsp
6. Soya sauce - 1/4th tsp
7. Vinegar - 2-3 drops
8.Salt and pepper


1. Heat oil in a pan. On a low flame, add onions and saute till translucent
2. Add garlic and cook for 2 mins.
3. Add cabbage and carrot and saute over high heat. Do not let them burn / become mushy. They should still have a crunch - about 3 mins.
4. Add soya sauce, vinegar, salt and pepper
5. Mix well and take it off the gas.

Making the momo -

1. Roll the dough out completely, spread it quite thinly. Use some flour on the counter so that it doesn't stick. Thinner the rolled out dough, better will be the momo.
2. Cut into rounds, about the size of your closed wrist.
3. Add filling - 1.5 teaspoons to each round, in the center
4. Bring edges close together to make a complete momo. Twist and seal to make them as one on top.
5. Steam for 10 minutes. If you don't have a steamer, use any utensil with water boiling in it and place a strainer plate with momos on top. Cover the strainer plate as firmly as possible with another plate.

Schezwan Sauce

Ingredients and Method

1. Rinse and soak 6-7 dry red chillies in a bowl of warm water
2. After 30 mins, de -  seed them (if you want to), and grind them in a grinder with a little bit of water to make a paste
3. Heat oil in pan and saute 3 cloves garlic (roughly chopped) and 1/2 inch ginger (sliced thinly). Do not let it brown.
4. Add 1/2 cup onion (a little less than 1/2 cup actually) and let it ook till onion is translucent
5. Add the chilli paste that we have made and saute well.
6. Add water (about 4-5 tbsp). Keep checking the consistency of the mixture after every tablespoon and only then add more. You want a thick, but moving consistency of the sauce
7. Add salt and pepper as per taste,. Add 1/4 tsp soya sauce and 1/2 tsp vinegar
8. Cook for mins. Add sugar, again as per taste ( i added 1 tsp)
9. Cook for another 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning
10. Serve with the momos made!

Note : Eat the momos as soon as done, while they are still hot. Cold momos taste like rubber!

1. Tarla Dalal - Schezwan sauce
2. Spice up the curry
3. Veg recipes of India / Momos
4. NDTV Food

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Continuing - The War on clutter

For those of you wondering about the War On clutter Project, fear not, it is still on.
And no, we are not waiting for the summer to pass, nor have we fraternized with the enemy. The War Is On!

I took over the strategic port of "Dressing table" - the place where clutter has been ruling, like a tyrant, since the founding stone of the dresser was placed.
It might seem like a small niche, a corner carved in, but it has the capacity to absorb maximum number of small objects and place them in underground prisons, away from the eye, so much so, that you forget the very existence of these small, humble objects.
If you are a small, uncommonly used object, the dressing table is the worse place to slip into oblivion.

I kept some time and mental energy aside for this task.
I had to be ruthless, throw out things not used. I had to be heroic, and rescue things forgotten and locked away, i had to creative and turn it into a pretty little place to live again for all my things.

And this was the end result -

And i am so happy with it!
Husband's stuff is delegated to the top most shelf. (i have no control over that, i do not know how soon the enemy - "clutter" will regain that piece of land, that insists on being autonomous, and not affiliated to the rest of the clean  kingdom!)

This also gave rise to another DIY project using recycled Pringles container and my DIY pattern paper (This was the chips container we bought on our flight from Ethiopia back home, which i had asked Sagar to keep in his baggage to his intense discomfiture).

Now, i rest on my laurels and eye the vast arena in front of me. Before long, i will be out fighting in some corner or the other.
But, today, right now, i am enjoying the view of my dresser in front of me!

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Great Indian Jugaad

Everyone has heard of it - the Great Indian Jugaad - an easy solution to complicated problems, an innovative, albeit temporary fix to problems.
A workable solution to a complicated problem using available resources  - is how it is meant to be seen. An innovation borne out of necessity.  
But the other side of this jugaad - is the compulsion to by pass systems and procedures in favor of make shift solutions.
We see it around us all the time.
You step out of the house, and you realize a part of the parking shed in your building is broken, it is fixed temporarily by putting patra on it, weighed down by bricks.
You move out on to the road, you see big drums being used to mark lane borders, where dividers are not present.
You glance up and see a hoarding and you see it chipping of in a corner, held together by a contraption of rope and wire.
You even glance into your own car and see a piece of cello tape holding up some part of the dashboard, a piece of cello tape holding the cover of the remote to its back.
I see this in our factory- nuts and bolts that don't fit, electrical switch covers taped in place.
Crude, though extremely innovative steps taken as a temporary fix to a problem.
This attitude stems, I believe, from two things -

1. A willingness, almost eagerness to bypass established systems. 
2. Scarcity of resources, leading to innovative use of existing resources

The second is a macro problem faced by our society, where our governments and institutions struggle to get the resources distributed to us. In such an environment, innovation thrives. Simple, easy solutions are valued and practical. This is jugaad at its best.

But, the first condition is something that is ingrained in us. And i am not so sure how good a thing that is. 

At work, in the factory, i see it in the form of systems being bypassed to complete tasks such as production, quality systems being by passed on the authority of marketing, management systems being by passed in favor of shop floor operations.
Delegation systems being by passed to complete deadlines, audit systems being by passed for daily operations.
This happens everywhere, our customers, our suppliers, our accountants talk of by passing systems - not with a criminal intent, but with an intent to save time and effort.
We by pass established procedures when we do not use the zebra crossing, break a signal, over or under speed, stop at no parking spots, pass a live wire lying unattended and do nothing about it, ignore noise restrictions after 10 pm, throw garbage on the street, spit on the road, drive without a license, ride without a helmet and drive without a seatbelt, drive when an indicator does not work, or the number plate that is partially broken, attempt to bribe a cop, ask for a plastic carry bag from the neighborhood grocer, honk loudly, talk loudly on cellphones in public spaces, don't clear our plates in self serve restaurants, leave the bathroom unclean after our use, accept bad roads and not demand accountability from the municipal corporations, not report street lights left on after day break, use water and electricity carelessly, not pay our taxes, not pay our bills on time. Think about your whole day and you will be able to come up with a dozen more offences.

So many instances, that we do not even recognize them as minor offences, disrespecting rules set up in a civilian society,
And then we complain about the state of our country, lament about the conditions in which we live, blame the government.

The minute we accept that by passing the systems is never a solution, we will have made a beginning, a very strong step towards a coherent future, where systems work in equilibrium, and a checks and balances system will be instituted.

Most systems are broken because at that point in time, it is the easiest thing to do. 
The harder thing would be to halt, think about what was wrong, and correct its root cause. So for example if your indicator is broken and you have tapes it together somehow (a temporary solution), the first thought should always be - "I need to get this fixed as soon as possible, and not drive until its done" and not "I will bribe the cop if he catches me with my indicator broken" (a thing we know never happens here)
But what we fail to realize is breaking the system, will reap benefits right here, right now. But what about the long term? 
Do you really think its safe to drive with an indicator broken, posing a hazard to not only yourself but other on the road? Do you really want to see your broken indicator every morning and fret about the cops catching you?
The problem worsens when you study the political class - which ignores systems to the extent of making the act a criminal offense.
But as a common man (and woman) we can take steps to ensure the movement starts from the grass root and flows upward. Not everything has to be, or can be provided by the government.

Isn't it just better to endure short term hardship rather than long term pain?

Its this comparison, between the now and the future efforts, that we fail to do at that point in time, which makes us reach for that easier solution, to the detriment of long term benefits.
When by passing a system is never a solution, we will truly have world class factories, world class cities and a truly developed country.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Unconditional Acceptance

We, as a younger generation, have a lot thrown at us in the form of how our generation is selfish, ambitious, materialistic and cold.
Women have to take a bit more than that starting from the above mentioned characteristics to being un-sanskari to not respecting our culture.

Some allegations may be true, some false, some borne out of malice, some out of genuine despair. Some out of misplaced concern and some out of nostalgia.

But the one characteristic about this generation that no one talks about is unconditional acceptance.
This generation and the coming ones are proponents of individuality - where every individual is just that - an individual, without a need to form a part of a homogeneous set up.
Where personal choices are just that - personal, not evoking judgement or even discussion.
Where one's caste, creed or sexual orientation does not form basis of a friendship.
Where age does not determine to need to be married or have kids.
Where long distance marriages are not thought of as a sham.

Of course, i am talking about pockets, urban minuscule pockets of living.
But the change has to begin somewhere.

We still live in a country where homosexuality is criminal, inter caste marriages are frowned upon, sometime even killed over, gender inequality is stark, where we still get questioned if we have friends in our circle who are of the same caste. But we are also living in an age where live in relationships are gaining some acceptance, homophobia is acknowledged as inappropriate, where advertisements like The visit, and shows like the Fosters, strike a chord and resonate the sentiments of a minority.

We do not ask women their family planning status, out of sheer respect for their privacy. And when a woman says she never wants to have children, we accept it as a way of life chosen by her and move on. But have you ever notice the raised eyebrows, and questioning stares of the meddlesome to the same answer?
Honesty is valued, even at times when it sounds crude.
A simple yes or no is preferred, to a long winded maybe, may be not
Where friends are few, but enemies never permanent
Where personal choices and consequences are made and borne by the same person

Of course we have been exposed to this free culture via media, ease of access to other cultures and free movement. And that is why it is easy for us to accept a person unconditionally for who they are, and allow people around us to have beliefs different to ours.

Tolerance, better still, acceptance of everyone's individuality is a very unique change that I noticed. There are a lot of things that we as a generation are doing wrong, many things we should be wary of or not doing at all, but this way of unconditional acceptance is something very unique that we need to foster.
And maybe instead of focusing on, and trying to change the attitudes of this generation, rigid people can take a leaf out of this book.

After all, the winds of change are blowing, strongly.

Source of image :

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Dreams and Us

My husband turns 30 this year.
And to mark this step into the official adulthood of man, he did what most responsible men would, he bought a super bike. Let me correct myself, before he hacks into my account and corrects it himself, it an adventure tourer - The triumph tiger XCX. (yes i remembered that without having to run down to check the bike).

The first time Sagar told me about his dream to buy a bike, a serious dream that he was considering turning into a reality, i resisted. The financial implications, the safety issues, immediately sprung to my mind. I asked him for some time to think about it.
He is a person who has very little wants in ordinary life. I persuade him to buy  clothes when i get tired of looking at the same things on him, i urge him to buy jeans because he is not 16 anymore to wear pants torn at the knees. Shoes are bought when current pair snaps under the pressure of constant use. He has no particular restaurant that he HAS to visit every month, or any coffee place that he NEEDS to go to every evening. Entertainment for him is not to go clubbing or for a movie, but have an evening on the terrace with me, or his friends. He can sit evening on evening at home and not get bored.
So when a guy with such few needs, comes up to you and says he wants a bike, you know he means it. You know he has thought over it, studied all implications and after over analyzing it, has come to you for your opinion.
So i knew he had thought about the financial implications, he had thought about safety issues, he had thought about parking and he had thought about accessories. 
But a doubt lingered.

When i asked him about which bike he wanted to buy, the spark in his eye and the gestures of his otherwise rigid hands gave away how much he wanted it. 
He had come to me not to ask me for my opinion of which bike to buy, but for my reassurance. To tell him that he should go ahead, take the plunge.
I did just that. 

Despite a lot of pressure from family, from some friends who advised against it, i asked him to go ahead. Becasue i had seen how badly he wanted it. And if he could not gather courage to buy the bike at this age, there was no way he would be buying it at any time after that.
That's when i realized the saying that when you have age on your side you lack money, and when you have money you have missed out on age, couldn't be more true, And if by a little struggle it was possible that the two things were actually overlapping, why should he not go for it?

With all these deep thoughts, many of which i am sure never reached the right conclusion in his head, he decided to go ahead. A day or two before, he asked me - i really want this. But i am scared. is it worth it? 
The question of whether it was going to make him happy - was too simple to solve his doubt. 
That's when i gave him my bag philosophy, (Finally i had found something that might convince him that no matter how many bags you buy, you never have enough is true!) It's simple - if you buy it and you realize it is not what you wanted or not what you can afford - you lose a little bit of your money, you enjoy the bag (bike) as best as you can, and in a few years you get over it. But if you don't buy it at all, you will never know whether it was the bag (bike) of your dreams, in which case your dream may have come true and happiness would have been for you to have, or you realize it was not what you wanted, so you work a little harder, earn a little bit more money and continue dreaming! The never knowing bit will eat at you every day though.
It sounds so dramatic, but it is so true. 
How many times have people looked at their dream across the abyss, but never taken that leap of faith? How many people express regret every year that they grow older, of things they missed out on?

My father took this leap of faith, when he quit is job and started his own business in an obscure little town 25 odd years ago. My mother took this leap of faith with my dad, supporting him and moving from her home city to Aurangabad without a single word of complaint, my grandmother took this leap of faith too, when she moved with them to support her son and daughter in law, leaving behind an established social circle, so important at an older stage in your life.
My sister took a leap of faith when she refused to study the usual science, commerce route and studied liberal arts, and lived in a village to understand organic farming, and went to Ahmedabad to work with innovators in the field of education and today we are all very proud of the work that she is doing for the AMC and the city of Aurangabad. 

Today, Sagar is a proud owner of a bike of his dream and i am so proud of him.
We are busy planning trips on the bike, he gets up every Sunday morning to go on a bike ride with his friends o placed near and around Pune. Who would have thought he would get up early on a Sunday?! He goes down every morning to have a look at his bike like it is some precious baby that has been locked up in another room. He goes to the gym on his bike, he talks about it like it a person with a heart and feelings. It has a name. It has a place.
He says he has me to thank, quite sweetly, but every time i hear the bike rev i wonder if the roads are safe enough, if his helmet is sturdy enough, if his jacket strong enough. 
I think it's time i ask for a bag. That is the only thing i can think of that is going to calm my nerves :)