Monday, August 25, 2008

10K, experience...

The patellas were terribly paining, lungs were lusting for more air, heart was pulsating as if exploding, body was perspiring despite drizzle, Bruce was inspiringly belting out Wicker Man in my ears, mind was constantly pushing the body to run - this was the precisely my state at 8th kilometer of the 10K running event that was held last Sunday, 24th August 2008, a day to be highlighted in the diary of my life. It's the day I participated in the first ever running event since I came into existence 27 years ago! Sad but true! I'd never been a runner throughout my life, I was better off as a swimmer.

Soriana along with City Club and other co-sponsors like Gatorade, Yoplait, EPura water etc., had organized a 10Km running event at Parque Fundidora, Monterrey. Dressed in gaudy saffron tee of the event, it was 15 minutes past 7 when I reached the venue with my co-runners - Chen Liyan, Mallesh, Lokesh and Vikram. I was a bit nervous, though I could hide it successfully from my folks. The weather Gods were so supportive that they never allowed the Helios to shine. The starting point was crowded with runners of ages ranging from sixteen to sixty or even more. I stretched my muscles a bit while waiting for the trigger to be pulled. The emcees were too noisy and annoying, I paid no attention to their words. There were a few young chaps holding boards marked "40 minutos", "45 minutos"...all the way till "85 minutos". They were the ones responsible for maintaing timings...in other words if I were to finish in 45 minutes, I had to follow the guy bearing the "45 minutos" board. And along with us ran some of Gatorade givers, dressed in green, skintight outfits.
It was 8 and the emcee started counting down...dies, nueve, ocho....tres, dos, uno - TUSHHHHHH!!!
The packed throng started moving slowly initially and I began gaining pace as the mob loosened out. If we were to be witnessed aerially, probably we would have looked like a gushing river about to flood the town. I maintained a steady pace...slightly less than 5min per kilometer, though my worst case was 6min per kilometer. At second kilometer I snatched a water packet from a gorgeous, electrifying señorita which boosted my spirits greatly. I drank half of it, poured the rest on my head and kept running wishing well to that señorita.

I felt I was in the middle of ocean when I had to take a sharp turn at 4th kilometer, there were runners as far as my vision could reach both ahead and behind me. I got mixed feelings...both inferior and superior. Former seeing some old men and ladies ahead of me, latter seeing some really well built muscly men and healthy women behind me. There was a certain degree of confusion too, I saw some runners overtaking me at times and at other times, I was overtaking them. Not sure if it was due to my speed changes or theirs. It was exactly 25 minutes when I crossed the 5km marking, I was rather happy.

All the great bands kept my spirits high - Iced Earth, Iron Maiden, Opeth, Led Zeppelin, Megadeth - helped me maintain the rhythm to a great extent. There were Gatorade arches sprinkling water which was so damn welcoming. At about 6th kilometer we exited the park and started running on the streets, guarded by cops and hazard warning cones. The public stimulated us by applause and cheerful screams. There were prettier señoritas handing out water packets. At 8th kilometer, we re-entered the park from some unknown, unseen entrance.

I was exhausted, I slowed down a bit. It was 38th minute, the fatigue made me stop worrying about timing. I kept running unhurriedly until I saw the guy carrying "50 minuto" board overtaking me when I was about half a kilometer away from finish line. I felt "I must finish it within 50 minutes, no matter what"...I pushed the volume on my iPod though I don't remember what track was playing. I started striding with all my energy, I overtook the "50 minuto" fellow. There were so many faces all around...applauding, photographing, cheering for their near and dear ones. I reckoned all that was being done for me and nearly sprinted the last 100 meters. It was exactly 49 min 34 seconds when I crossed the finish line.


I was panting and gasping for air, legs were sort of numb with pain and totally drained of energy. I cooled myself down with a couple of deep breaths. Got the chip pulled out from shoes, walked along series of stalls which provided us with 'free' Gatorade, water bottle, yogurt, fruits and in the end, the most anticipated finisher's medal. The medal has the magic of making you forget all the fatigue and bringing a smile of satisfaction on the sweaty, stressed countenance.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Indian Food Map

Received this wonderful food map of India from Ajit. I accursed myself for being ignorant of these many delicacies from my homeland.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mixed vegetable saagu

Ingredients:
  • Assorted vegetables cut small (potatoes, cauliflower, carrot, green peas)
  • Cinnamon
  • Cumin seeds
  • Green chilies
  • White poppy seeds (gasagase in Kannada or khus-khus)
  • Garlic
  • Grated coconut or decicated coconut powder
  • Bengal gram (kadale beLe, soaked in water)
  • Clove
  • Coriander leaves a.k.a cilantro
Procedure:
Parboil the vegetables and keep aside. Make a fine paste by grinding all the above ingredients except vegetables. Add the paste to parboiled vegetables, add salt and bring the mixture to boil. Saagu is ready!!! A perfect side dish for poori, chapati or tortillas. Yet another "Mom's recipe" which I tried last weekend and was happy with the results.

Alu Gobi...South Indian Style

Ingredients:
  • Potato (peeled and cut into medium sized cubes)
  • Cauliflower (stripped to medium sized branches)
  • Coriander a.k.a cilantro
  • Garlic 6-8 cloves
  • Grated coconut or decicated coconut powder
  • Green chilies

Procedure:
Grind grated coconut, garlic, coriander and green chilies into a fine paste. Boil potatoes with little water and when it's half cooked, add the cauliflower and the paste. Add salt and cook till the vegetables are done. The colour of the dish is dashing green due to the coriander and goes well with chapatis or tortillas. A personal favorite of mine which I learnt from my mother. The best part of the dish is it's easy to make, contains no oil, looks and tastes great.

Monday, August 18, 2008

La Presa el Cuchillo

On a boring Saturday evening, we were searching the internet where to head and we found "La Presa el Cuchillo". Presa translates to dam and cuchillo to knife, supposedly this lake is in the shape of a knife when viewed aerially (check the map below). Getting there, though, is not so difficult is a tad expensive because of those damned tolls which Mexico is famous for. Follow the road that directs to Cadreyta, from Cadreyta you'll start seeing boards pointing to China. Yeah!!! China in Mexico!!! It's about 100Km from Monterrey.


Once you arrive at the outskirts of China you can witness the bank of the lake on to your right. There is no signboards, no indications, no entrance gates for this lake. Just park your car anywhere near the bank, ascend the bank and you see a vast stretch of water. It's an ideal spot for fishing, canoeing and chilling with beers (unfortunately we did nothing of that sorts). You happen to see unhappy lazy bones cursing over their fishing failures and some cheerful souls cruising on boats. The walk on the bank reveals an entirely new world of moths, dragon flies, butterflies and spiders...there are plethora of them filling the air and bushes on edges of the banks. The dam area is prohibited for visitors.









Thursday, August 07, 2008

Weekend Gastronomy

Away from all the mountains and precipices, forests and deserts, gorges and gullies my weekend was, almost, spent in the infernal kitchen. It was both good and bad, good for it was too hot to do any hikes...mercury levels are well above 40 degrees; bad for the same reason, the kitchen was indeed infernal to spend so much time.

Now you might be wondering what gastronomical Satan had entered me that I cooked so much, there are multiple reasons. Wife of a certain Mexican friend, threatened his life to cook something without any animal in it and this friend knew nothing other than baking beef on barbecue. He turned to me for help and I agreed. Secondly in the evening we had planned a surprise birthday party of an Indian friend. Normally in such Desi parties, we have the "one dish from each home" practice and I had to contribute my part. And finally on Sunday, it was our mundane cooking for dinner and Monday's lunch.

Off late, I've started showing too much interest in culinary activities. Not that I've said good bye to writing or photographing, but cooking has become one of my favourite pastime activities. So I shall be dishing out recipes for some of the dishes which I learnt from various sources - mom, friends, Internet and a great extent from self-experimentation and this particular article would kick start the gastronomy part of my blog. It's gonna be both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, south and north Indian and sometimes international. I will try my best to find the English equivalents for most dishes and ingredients, but I can't assure you that. Don't forget to try it out and write to me the feedback and suggestions for improvement. Bon Appetite!

I made broccoli fry, tamarind rice and mashed potato to save my friend's life; made egg-curry for the aforementioned birthday party and DoNmeNasinkaayi majjige huLi (Capsicum in curds) for our Sunday dinner. Below are the recipes for those.

Broccoli fry

Ingredients:
  • Broccoli (cleaned and stripped)
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic
  • Pepper powder
  • Green Chilies (slit vertically)
  • Lime
Procedure:
Heat a table spoon of olive oil, put the slit chilies and garlic. Once the garlic cloves turn brownish, add the broccoli. Make sure that water is fully drained from broccoli after cleaning it. Saute the broccoli for 2 minutes on high flame. Sprinkle required amount of salt and pepper powder. Switch off the flame and squeeze in lime. Thing to remember is not to fry broccoli for long time since broccoli loses both its nutrition and taste. It's more of a Chinese dish, which I learnt from self-experimentation.

Tamarind Rice (Not Puliogre)

Ingredients:
  • Onions (finely chopped)
  • Mustard seeds
  • Bengal gram
  • Urad dhal (white lentils)
  • Peanuts
  • Sambar powder
  • Turmeric
  • Curry Leaves
  • Olive Oil
  • Tamarind
  • Cooked white rice
  • Coriander leaves (finely chopped)
Procedure:
Soak a medium sized lump of tamarind in water and keep it aside. Heat a tablespoon of oil and add mustard seeds, urad dhal, bengal gram, peanuts and curry leaves. When urad dhal turns brownish, add chopped onions and some turmeric. After the onions are soft, add sambar powder, salt and tamarind juice and a bit of water and allow the mixture to boil and subsequently reduce to paste. Add the cooked white rice and mix well, garnish with coriander leaves and serve it with plain curds or raita. Now this one is not any typical dish of any place, I learnt it from my mother and is a good change for the ubiquitous chitranna (lemon rice).

Mashed Potato

Ingredients:
  • Potatoes
  • Onions (chopped)
  • Ginger (finely chopped)
  • Green Chilies (finely chopped)
  • Mustard seeds
  • Bengal gram
  • Cumin seeds (jeera)
  • Urad dhal (white lentils)
  • Turmeric
  • Curry Leaves
  • Olive Oil
  • Coriander leaves (finely chopped)
Procedure:
Pressure cook the potatoes (Tip: Cutting potatoes into halves or quarters would accelerate the cooking, don't forget to add salt) for about 20-25 minutes. Peel-off the potatoes after cooling, mash and keep aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, urad dhal, bengal gram, curry leaves, chilies and ginger. After the urad dhal turns brown, add chopped onions, turmeric, salt and fry the entire mixture until onions are sufficiently cooked. Add mashed potatoes and mix well. Saute the mixture for about 2-3 minutes, garnish with chopped coriander leaves. This is a typical south Indian dish which goes well with dosa, chapathi, tortillas. It forms a good side dish with rice and rasam too.

Egg Curry

Ingredients:
  • Eggs
  • Onions (chopped or blended)
  • Tomatoes (chopped or blended)
  • Ginger (finely chopped)
  • Garlic (finely chopped)
  • Green Chilies (slit vertically)
  • Cumin seeds (jeera)
  • Cinnamon
  • Turmeric
  • Garam masala
  • Chili powder
  • Olive Oil
  • Coriander leaves (finely chopped)
Procedure:
Boil, peel, cut the eggs into halves and keep aside. Heat 2 table spoons of oil, add cumin seeds, garlic, ginger, cinnamon and chilies. After garlic turns brown, add chopped onions and fry it until it's well cooked (the raw smell of onion should disappear). Add blended tomato, salt, turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala and little water, keep the vessel closed until it starts boiling. Add the eggs and cook for about 4-5 minutes on low flame. Garnish with coriander. It's a north Indian dish and goes very well with rotis, chapathis, tortillas or with biriyani.

DoNmeNasinkaayi majjige huLi (Capsicum in curds)

Ingredients:
  • Capsicum a.k.a Bell peppers
  • Coconut
  • Curry leaves
  • Mustard seeds
  • Red/Dry chilies
  • Cumin seeds
  • Curds
  • Asafoetida (hing)
  • Turmeric
  • Olive Oil
  • Coriander leaves (finely chopped)
Procedure:
Grind the coconut fine in a mixer and set aside. Heat a tablespoon of oil and fry the finely cut capsicum. In a deep vessel dilute curds with water, add the ground coconut, fried capsicum, curry leaves and required amount of salt and start heating. Once the mixture starts boiling, switch off the flame. In a small ladle, heat a teaspoon of oil, add mustard seeds and allow it to pop, add red chilies and asafoetida; add the whole thing into the mixture slowly (adding it fast would splash the mixture due to intense heat) and garnish with coriander. Tastes great with white rice accompanied by pickle. This one again is typical south Indian and I found it on thatskannda.com website.