Chicken Chili (Dry)

A couple of days ago I was watching something on Netflix and was almost moved to tears when I saw people hugging, as I haven’t actually touched another human being since Mid-March. I don’t wish to even discuss what watching porn felt like. It’s not like I don’t love living alone, but now I do know why the bachelor uncle in the family went crazy towards the end. Think of it as too much of a good thing.

Regardless, one of those few pleasures of living alone is the fun of sharing food. It’s been a while since I’ve done that and while yes, Joey Doesn’t Share Food, one does sometimes consider the minor trade off with food for company. That being said, I genuinely hate sharing some of my favourite meals. If you’re eating with me and I’m being a bitch about serving you, it’s because I know I should share food with you but I absolutely don’t want to. Think of it as an internal struggle of epic proportions.

Now, one of the other things I miss is drinking with other people. Obviously banning liquor for two months made all of us go dry for a while, but now that alcohol is back on the menu, but once again, the same problem persists. Thankfully, we have Whatsapp and Zoom, and while it’s not the same thing, it’s better than drinking alone. It also helps that I can show my friends what I cooked because making one’s friends jealous with my cooking is one of the few pleasures left to me.

The recipe is largely the same as the gravy dish, but still makes an excellent starter. That being said, I have some drinking to do, so let’s quickly Go To The Kitchen.

Sabudana Khichdi

My late mum was a practicing Hindu and for most of her life she fasted on Thursdays. While she did try to instil religion in me, it never took hold. However, I must say I absolutely love the snacks she’d make for fasting. This, undoubtedly is my favourite. I don’t care about which religion you’re from, you have to admit, Upvaas food is the bomb.

I used big Sabudana (tapioca pearls) for this, not the small ones.

In the past there were some major gross methods for manufacturing sabudana, now it’s mostly done by machines and markedly less vomit-inducing. Use peanut powder generously or you’re going to end up with a soggy lump that looks like it is the larval stage for some disgusting animal. To make peanut powder, roast peanuts, let them cool, peel them, and then powder them using a mortar and pestle or a mixie. Mortar and Pestle tastes slightly better but is tedious. I used a mixie.

Sabudana is made from Tapioca. The other main ingredients are potato and peanut powder. All three, tapioca, potato, and peanuts were all brought to India by the Portuguese and Dutch. Anyone talking about how this is a ‘traditional’ food is talking out of their arse.

So, to make this tasty ‘Upvaas’ snack, let’s Go To The Kitchen.

(click on Page 2 for ingredients)

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I am not even sure why I’m writing this down. This is dumb. The name is grilled cheese sandwich, it should be self-explanatory.

I call this a Toastie, but then I am writing for a wider audience and Toastie isn’t that self-explanatory.

I dedicate this article to my near and dear friend/sister Sukanya. She bought me a grill sandwich maker for my birthday. Also, yeah, my people get me kitchen equipment for my birthday because I ask for it. It’s better than receiving things I won’t use anyway.

I started this blog because all around me I saw grown, educated, working men as useless as a one-legged man at an arse kicking contest when it came to feeding themselves. I mean this seriously; I once saw a man who didn’t know you have to peel the cheese slice before making this sandwich. Apparently mummy always gave him peeled slices to eat. I’m surprised mummy taught him to wash his own arse. If you raise your kid to be that useless, you are not doing him/her any favours.

But yeah, if you’re here, you can learn, and you won’t be a man-baby anymore. So, in the spirit of growing up, let’s Go To The Kitchen.

Tomato Soup

If you’re a brown, middle class peasant like me, you’ve experienced the following situation: You are at a nice restaurant with your family. Food is served. Your mum takes a bite and says “We could have just made this at home!”

I say this whenever I see someone ordering Tomato soup in a restaurant. I get that you could order it, it’s on the menu. But why would you order it? Sometimes I think I keep my mother’s spirit alive by being such a bitch in a restaurant.

It’s really simple to make because literally peasants invented this soup. In the good old days, tomatoes were considered ‘poisonous’ and so not good for human consumption. However, if you’re a starving peasant you’ll basically eat anything. And so we got tomato soup.

Now, it’s soup so it’s considered healthy or whatever and I’ve seen too many dates go gaga over this soup for reasons beyond my understanding. I always pair this soup up with a grilled cheese sandwich though, so it renders the whole ‘healthy’ part moot. Pro tip, buy really ripe tomatoes that are available at throwaway prices and make this. If your garlic taste uncooked just add a lot of water and let it boil off for half an hour. It always saddens me to see someone order this at a restaurant, or worse, make this from one of those dehydrated packets. If you don’t want to be one of those paupers, let’s Go To The Kitchen.

Manchow Soup

Manchow Soup available in most restaurants and street vendors in India. As far as I know, it has been named ‘Manchow’ after the Manchuria province except the Manchurians haven’t a clue about this. Regardless, it tastes good, so why not try it.

As I’m writing this the COVID 19 pandemic rages on, and people are coming up with several ‘cures’ and ‘preventive treatment’. I have no reason to believe this is either. This is just soup. It makes you feel good inside. If you have a cold this might help you get some fluids and some food into you, but that’s about it.

That being said, it’s one of my favourite choices for when I’m down with a cold or fever. To make this soup veg/vegan, just skip the chicken and Maggi chicken bullion cube. It tastes decent without the chicken too.

The recipe uses fried noodles which you can just buy over the counter nowadays, and adding them makes the soup filling. However, if you don’t want noodles, skip them. (Indo) Chinese food means you have to cook on a high flame while stirring regularly.

Now, if you want to eat a nice, tasty soup, and don’t want to order in, let’s Go To The Kitchen.

Saambaar

So I’ve always said this, Dal Chawal is the baap of comfort food. And, as an Indian, you have so many options for this stuff!

In 2016 I went for a long ride around Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Goa, spending around 23 days with the love of my life, my Iron Bitch, Champa. I always think of it as my ‘honeymoon period’. I stopped for breakfast near Srirangapatna, Karnataka which was the capital city of Tipu Sultan. Unfortunately, it had rained like crazy and I had an appointment to keep so I never got to see the city and I hope to return sometime. Now, I did stop for breakfast and watched this road side vendor make kickass saambaar and he let me watch so I made a few mental notes. He was a Shetty apparently, so that’s the saambaar I make.

Now, saambaar originates in Tamil Nadu where apparently (later) Chatrapati Sambhaji of the Maratha Confederacy, ordered a dal made for himself like the Marathi Aamti. Now, the similarities are right there, the spices, the coconut, the use of tamarind, etc. However, ‘South India’ is a diverse place, so saambaar is different in different districts, let alone states (I’m told caste differences also exist). I’m sticking to the Tulu (Mangalore/Udipi) one because that’s the one I like. Also, I use a whole bunch of shortcuts and this might not seem like an ‘authentic’ recipe to most, but then again, I won’t lose any sleep over it. I can’t stress this enough, this blog is not to make you an expert, it’s just to make you independent.

Now, this stuff is like your basic accompaniment with Idlis and Dosa or whatever, but I’m a bit of a traditionalist sometimes and love me some saambaar and rice. Now, if you want to eat the Tulu answer to the Marathi Aamti, let’s Go To The Kitchen.

Vatana Ussal

I have a small caveat about making this, do not under any circumstances make this or eat this if you’re having a new girlfriend or boyfriend stay over. This dish is known to make one feel bloated, and this meme sums up my thoughts about the subject.

I say this because it happened to me. I had to keep leaving the room to fart. I think amorous relationships have what is known as a ‘fart barrier’, that is, you won’t break the wind in front of someone you don’t know very well, just like you won’t do something particularly kinky or dirty with them.

In essence, it might be even a show of vulnerability and trust, showing that beyond all the gentlemanly bullshit a man might do, or the sophisticated ladylike behaviour a woman might present, we’re all the same underneath but we only show it with someone we trust.

Unfortunately, I did not appreciate this rule, and I made this dish for a lady who stayed the night.

What’s worse, I made this for the lady and then after a nice dinner and some amour part of the aforementioned amorous relationship, we both fell asleep and I farted at the poor woman all night. The relationship never grew after that. Needless to say, I don’t blame her. No one wants to be farted on for the rest of their life.

But yeah it tastes good and is a staple, so in my opinion, it’s worth the risk with someone with whom you have broken the fart barrier. So, if you’re someone in a comfortable (I am not going to speak of happiness) relationship, and wish to eat this, let’s Go To The Kitchen.

Fried Rice

One of my exes once told me that the thing she loved the most from my kitchen was the Chinese food I make. I don’t think my Chinese food is that great and since the woman never ate any meat I genuinely don’t think she ever sampled the entire variety of my culinary experiments. This is the basic Fried Rice, and work as a vegan dish.

This recipe is almost the same as the Noodles recipe. It just needs you to cook the rice separately first, the way you would cook your noodles first. Now, I usually adore rice because I grew up eating a lot of it and frankly, I do not know how to roll rotis. It’s not that they’re not round, in fact my rotis look more like the sculpture of an amoeba trying to move towards food. Moreover, I absolutely detest having to knead dough and again, it’s a lot of work for very little payback and I’d rather just survive on rice. Whenever I crave roti I just buy it from the shop. I have often been told this is the reason why I will never be able to find a wife and settle down.

Either way the thing I love about rice is what one of my historian friends once told me: if you’re starting off a civilization, rice is one of the best things to have on your tech tree. You don’t have to process it like say wheat or barley into bread, just boil the damn thing and you’re done. Besides, there is literally no scarcity of variety in rice dishes, so you can never really run out of ideas. However, I have a confession to make, I rarely if ever make Fried Rice for myself, as I am a Noodles person.

Now, this is an Indo-Chinese food, as I’ve said before, you need to keep moving the stuff around and cook it fast, else it’s no fun. Also, this is a basic fried rice recipe and you can screw with it to get all the other fancy stuff you see in restaurants. You could throw in some fried egg or pieces of boiled chicken if that’s what you fancy but I am keeping it simple for this basic vegan dish. It goes down pretty well by itself or as with a gravy, like Chicken Chili.

So, for basic competency of the stuff you get at a Chinese ka Thela, let’s Go To The Kitchen.

Chicken Chilly (Gravy)

This bad boy is a classic of every Chinese restaurant or street vendor. Now, it’s an Indo-Chinese food so obviously Chinese people will probably say it’s not something they identify with. There’s also an American version of Chili which uses both beef and canned beans in tomato sauce. I’ve never had it and the ingredients are controversial because the world doesn’t lack for stupid people.

Now, I have a grievous fault which is that whenever I drink, I drink like my liver owes me money and called my mother a whore. As an accompaniment, I can think of few things better than Chicken Chili. My friend/brother Russel is an especially huge fan of it, something that I did not fully appreciate. One day we ended up talking about weddings, and I expressed my idea of a budget cocktail party. I wanted it to happen after the wedding because I don’t understand why you’d want to get married while you were hung over. I also suggested that there should be a very, very limited number of guests, as I have never in my life wanted to pay for the drinks of people I did not particularly like which includes most of my extended family, colleagues, etc.

A simple venue like a beach house somewhere, a DJ to play some good tracks, a table with enough assorted alcohol to make Al Capone blush would be added. Food? I figured that a guy making kebabs on the side for everyone and perhaps a small amount of biriyani for anyone who wanted main course. Russel however had one issue with this. He felt that there should be some Chinese starter, especially Chicken Chili to be added, because, get this, and I quote: “You make that really well.”

“You don’t actually expect me to cook at my own wedding, do you Russel?” I asked.

“Who else is going to be cooking then?”

Leave it to my family who would literally have me slaving over a hot stove at my own wedding.

Anyway, if you are hoping to learn how to make Chicken Chili, let’s Go To The Kitchen.

Jeera Rice

Jeera rice is kinda like hair gel that dudes put in their hair to make themselves look marginally better. It’s tasty and fun, but for some reason people order this shit when it’s easy to make at home. Also, if you have a gravy or something that’s not that much fun it totally adds that extra punch to your food.

Now, if you look up recipes online people add like a ton of stuff to it and honestly, I don’t understand why. It’s lightly spiced rice not fucking pilaf. Secondly the name is self-explanatory. It’s Jeera Rice, not “shit tons of spices rice”.

Come on you lazy bum, let’s Go To The Kitchen.