Monthly Archives: March 2004

Atheism vs agnosticism

Read an interview today with one of my favorite authors — Douglas Adams. He very eloquenty, and full of the dry wit that is his trademark, talks about his atheistic leanings and how he doesn’t like being confused with an agnost. It occurred to me that I never paid attention to the difference between the two words up until now.

All along, in my head, atheism and agnosticism were essentially the same thing — A lack of belief in a higher power/supremo aka God. However while atheism is more about the disbelief in all deities and the supreme being, agnosticism suggests the view that the existence of deities is either unknown, or inherently unknowable. A firm conviction in the former versus an unsurety in the latter. Glad I got that cleared up! :)

Here are the Wikipedia entries for Agnosticism and Atheism, if interested in reading more.

Margao margao!

Yetanudder recipe for a friend. This is turning into a cookery blog, at this rate. Ah well, all part of what I do I guess. :)

Goan Vegetable Curry

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chopped mixed vegetables (e.g. potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, French beans, and shelled green peas)
  • 2 medium onion chopped fine
  • 1" piece ginger chopped (optionally, use ginger paste 2 teaspoons)
  • 2 flakes garlic chopped (optionally, use garlic paste 1 teaspoon)
  • 2-4 green chilies, chopped fine (number of chilies will depend on how hot you want this to be)
  • 1-2 teaspoons) garam masala
  • 2 cups coconut milk (available in Indian/Thai stores in a tin)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons butter (unsalted) or ghee (clarified butter)
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 bunch coriander leaves (cilantro) chopped fine to garnish

Method

  1. Parboil (half-boil) the chopped vegetables and keep aside. Heat half the quantity of butter / ghee (clarified butter) in a pan on medium level till it is hot. Add the chopped onions. Sauté on medium heat for 4 minutes or till the onions are transparent and soft. Now, add the chopped ginger, garlic and green chilies and the garam masala. Stir fry briefly for a few seconds till the onions are golden/brown. Let it cool. Grind this to a fine paste (optional — if you had chopped the onions very finely you don’t have to grind). Keep aside.

    (Note — if you are not grinding the onions, you don’t have to heat butter and add the paste back to the pan. Once the onions appear done, simply add the veggies)

  2. Heat the remaining quantity of butter / ghee in the same pan. Stir fry the paste on medium level till all the water has evaporated and the butter / ghee has left the sides of the pan. Now, add the vegetables and salt. Mix well. Cover and cook on medium / low heat for 3 minutes or till the vegetables are fully cooked. Add the coconut milk and water. Simmer on very low heat (so that the coconut milk does not curdle) for about 4 minutes.

    Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with bread or white rice.

    (Note — if worried about coconut milk being too high in fat, cholesterol and other delicious but unhealthy elements :), reduce its quantity to 1 cup. 2 cups of milk will be richer in taste, but 1 cup works just fine too)

Anupallavi

Pallavi is undergoing a metamorphosis. No, not my childhood friend Pallavi, but the music group I perform with. Some members have left and so many more new ones have joined that it has practically been reborn. The ideology remains mostly the same though — get together, have fun with music, listeners be damned. Well not quite that harsh.. but the focus still remains on having fun and feeling excited about the music we create rather than getting ‘gigs’ and performing. The new name being tossed around for the group — A-new-pallavi. Now anupallavi is usually the second line of a song which builds upon and enhances the meaning of the pallavi/opening lines. This is kinda what we hope the new group will do.. build upon what Pallavi stands for and add something extra. Nice hm?

Rishi (our self-appointed PR guy) asked everyone to write a lil blurb about themselves so he could put together a bio of all the people involved. Spent about an hour trying to come up with something witty and intellectual to say about myself; something that eulogizes my quirks in that ‘eccentric genius artist’ sort of way. Failed miserably so this is what I turned in instead —

A musician trapped in the body of a geek. This blurb, much like her life, is a perpetual work in progress.

Chole, balle balle!

Realization for the day — It is far easier to cook something rather than try to describe the same process in writing. A friend asked me for a recipe for Chhole/Chana, hence the pearls of wisdom..

Said friend being a non-desi cook, I’ve stripped the recipe of all the extra thrills and frills so as to make it easier for a beginner to Indian cooking. Reproduced here verbatim, in case I ever need to refer to it —

Chhole or Chana

Ingredients

(The spices used in the recipe can usually be found in a speciality Indian store.)

  • 1 can of garbanzo beans/chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1-2 green chilies chopped (optional, for extra spice)
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 2-3 whole black peppers
  • 1 small stick of cinnamon or 1/3 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1 big onion finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon Chhole masala/Chana masala (a special spice blend for making garbanzos. If not available, then substitute with a mix of 1/2 tsp garam masala, 1/4 tsp cumin powder and 1/4 tsp coriander powder)
  • 1 big tomato finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tbsp sour cream or thick yogurt (optional)
  • 6-7 mint leaves chopped (fresh)
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro/coriander leaves chopped (fresh)
  • A few drops of lemon juice
  • Salt to taste

Method

  1. Drain garbanzos from the tin and wash thoroughly to get rid of the preserve liquid.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan, add the ginger paste, garlic paste and chopped green chilies (if needed). Fry for a minute, add cloves, whole black peppers, cinnamon and fry lightly.
  3. Add chopped onion, fry for another minute. Now add the turmeric powder and chhole masala. If chhole masala not available, add the substitute masalas at this point. Fry till onions are a golden brown.
  4. Add the chopped tomato, sprinkle salt over it, and stir fry till tomatoes lose shape and turn into a part-puree. Add the sugar to the puree.
  5. Add the garbanzos, and 1.5 cups water to the pan. Let it boil 10-15 minutes on medium heat till the water mostly reduces and the garbanzos are cooked (and loose the tin-ish taste). Check to see if cooked, and if doubtful, add 1/2 cup more water and boil another 10 minutes or so. Basically, adjust amount of water and boiling time as needed. Also adjust for salt at this point.
  6. When garbanzos appear cooked, add sour cream/yogurt and chopped mint and cook for a minute or two.. Remove from heat, sprinkle chopped cilantro and lemon juice. Serve!