Category Archives: Events

Sugar and spice and all things nice

In which we remember our blog, our Telugu-ness and our lunch. (not necessarily in that order.)

Mango Rice and Ugadi Pachchadi

Yello. Please note the conspicuous absence of apologies and excuses. I have evolved so much, no?

So we woke up this morning feeling all wholesome, traditional and festival-ey. As this tends to be a bit of a rare occasion we usually like to commemorate it with wholesome, traditional and festival-ey food. And nicely enough, today be Ugadi. As they say, timing is everything. So here we have for you two things —

First, the Ugadi pachchadi, the traditional chutney/mixture combining the six primary tastes (shaD-ruchi) that symbolizes the different experiences that make up life. (Yes, deep philosophy can be found anywhere, you just have to look for it.) The six tastes in question are sweet, bitter, sour, tart, chili and salt. Jaggery for sweet, tamarind for sour, raw mango for tart, red chili for chili and salt for salt. Neem flowers are used for bitterness, and if you cannot find them then please don’t substitute karela/bitter gourd. It doesn’t work. Really. I’ve tried.

The tart and sour thing confused me for a while, but try sucking on a piece of tamarind versus a raw mango and you’ll quickly know the difference. Tart is what makes your tongue click against the roof of your mouth with a ‘tcha’ sound. Yes, that is tart. I think they call it vagaru in Telugu. Its that tongue pricking feeling that is most prominent in baby raw mangoes.

The funda of eating this pachchadi, as mom explains it, is that you have a spoon of this the very first thing in the morning on Ugadi. The first taste you encounter (after the taste of your toothpaste, preferably) determines how the rest of your year will be. I imagine the system can be rigged easily enough by putting copious amounts of sweet, but that’s a whole different ball of jaggery.

The second entity in the picture is the luminescent raw mango rice, that symbolizes the presence of one too many raw mangoes in the fridge that were bought for the aforementioned pachchadi. No, but seriously. Raw mango rice (known as maamidikaaya chaddi in Telugu. No, not chaddi as in what Dada Kondke used to wear. This is the softer d sound.) is truly a work of art. One of the simplest of rices to make (the only thing simpler is perhaps lemon rice) — it combines cooked rice, grated raw mango and tadka (also known as phodni, bagaar, popu, seasoning, whatever-you-wanna-call-it) to create a simple, flavorful dish that is so much more than the sum of its parts. Heavenly, it is.

Anyhoo, if you want recipes, please ask. If you want to eat it, cook it.

Happy new year, Ugadi, Gudi Padwa, Yugaadi, and Cheti Chand to all!

Um, erm, oops ..

Birthday cake

.. eeps .. err .. Hello! And Happy Birthday, Bloggy!

Yes yes, it is me. Today is the day this blog (well an almost-dead blog is still a blog, pliss) turns four and since one has never missed a birthday post before, one didn’t want to mess with tradition and all. (Mess with the habit of writing posts to keep the blog alive, sure, gladly so. But mess with tradition? Noooo! Never!)

Yes, I am guilty of all the terrible things you are about to accuse me of and fully deserve every squishy tomato and rotten egg that comes my way. But for now, I just want to say a big heartfelt THANK YOU to all of you who continue to stop by and check in on this blog despite its three-month silence. If you’re still wondering, yes, this blog is alive. (As is the blogger, thankooverrymuj). And the festivities too, shall return. Soon.

Now, eat some cake, give yourself a sugar-high and let us all resume the nonsense! Yay!

Gaul stones

*tiptoes into room hoping nobody notices her return only to be greeted by a bunch of angry stares*

Um .. er .. hello. Didn’t see you there. *gulp* Well, we have been a little busy. Yes, fruitful paychecks and such. Sinful stomach asks questions, as you know. What’s that? The blog? No no, it didn’t die. We thought it wrote itself. Clearly we were mistaken. But that would be a pretty neat thing, no? A self-writing blog. No? You don’t find that clever? Fine. Poop on all our ideas.

So in exciting news from the countryside, we will be doing a bit of traveling at the end of August. Where to, you ask? Paris! Yes, Paris, France. La ville lumiére, city of lights and all that exciting hoo-haa. As you can imagine, we are fluttering around like an annoyingly chirpy ballerina whose tutu you want to set on fire. And of course, we are furiously practicing to say oui oui in a way that would make Rajendranath proud, telling everyone the PJ about the Pakistani hooker in Paris called Lahore, practicing to smile like the Mona Lisa and generally figuring out how to stuff an entire city into three days. It seems impossible, but if we manage to do it, we’ll be sure to come back and tell you how. With pictures to boot.

And if that were not enough we are also going to Belgium! Antwerp and Brussels. Hee haw. Yes yes, we will wait while you are done turning an appropriate shade of green. Finished? Good. Now, the only things we associated with Belgium until a month ago were 1) Tintin 2) Hercule Poirot 3) chocolates 4) waffles and 5) diamonds. And while the last few weeks have taught us that there’s more to the country than sharp men with a penchant for cracking mysteries, our desire for items four and more so five, remains. In fact, it seems our folks brought us up on a steady diet of kitschy Hindi movies for this day only. So we have decided to buy ourselves that ugly wide leather belt with a secret zippered pouch and by golly we are going to smuggle them diamonds back in it. So what if we have to wear a golden wig and red-tinted sunglasses and speak like Ajit? Of course, there is the minor detail of how we will come into possession of the said rocks, so if there’s a good heist movie you know, now would be a very good time to make recommendations.

Oh and we forgot to tell — we had a delightful little chat with an entertainingly rude Delta Air Lines customer service representative. After a frustrating half hour of explaining to her that it was the airline’s fault for screwing up the ticket and we shouldn’t be charged the penalty, she chimed back with a — Even if it is Delta’s fault, that is a mute point! We politely told her that if we muted the phone while she was trying to make a point, *that* would be a mute point. In fact, we’d be happy to demonstrate what we mean. Strangely, she didn’t seem to like that. Heh.

Be back with lots of pictures, stories and fun things to tell you. Keep the blog alive until then, will ya?

A cool race and a lame contest

We interrupt our usual profundity to bring you two important public service announcements —

  • Fellow blogger and ridiculously talented photographer Akshay Mahajan and a couple of his friends, are doing this awesomely cool thing called the Rickshaw Run. They have volunteered themselves for a race that takes them driving 3750km across India, in the monsoons, in an auto-rickshaw. Wait. Pause for a second, chew, swallow and digest that completely. Monsoons in India. 3750km. Auto-rickshaw. Oh and it is through the Himalayas. Yes indeed. They have completely lost it. (No, not the auto-rickshaw.)

    This crazy run is meant to raise funds for charity and they need your support to make it happen. Head over to Akshay’s site to read all about it, find the Paypal icon and donate generously, and then spread the word and get others to do the same. Contributors will naturally get some inherent good karma that comes with such things, but also get a print copy of one of Akshay’s pictures, which in some circles is worth more than all this karma-warma business. So go do the needful.

  • Fellow blogger and ridiculously jobless grad student Kaushik Gopalan has announced the unimaginatively titled Lamest ever Orkut challenge. Unsurprisingly enough, this is a contest to find the lamest, most hilarous and yet effective will you make friendship with me line. The prize is a neat little blogging T-shirt, so there’s good incentive to use your Orkut skills and help build the mother of all ships.

The first will likely ensure that you run into fewer auto-rickshaw drivers in your life who ask for return sawaari. The second will provide romantic hope for lame desi grad students everywhere, which as you know is a noble and mostly impossible task. So go be part of both and earn some cosmic brownie points.