Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tarquin Hall just became one of my favorite authors

Tarquin Hall, a British-American writer and journalist is now one of my favorite authors. He is not 'world-famous' nor has he received accolades and critical acclaim for any of his works, but he manages to glue the readers' eyeballs to his books. He is after all the creator of India's Most Private Investigator, Vish Puri (also known as the Indian Sherlock Holmes). Currently dividing his time between Delhi and London, he has traveled across U.S.,U.K.,India,Turkey,Kenya, Pakistan, middle-east and south Asia and has based his writings on these countries and is married to Indian-born BBC-reporter Anu Anand.
The first book I read was To The Elephant Graveyard, a true story about a mentally-ill rogue elephant who goes on a killing spree, trampling to death more than forty individuals in and around the Kaziranga National Park in the state of Assam, India. The elephant is originally a Kunki (a domestic elephant under a mahout) but becomes crazy after ill-treatment by a previous owner. The book describes how Tarquin Hall, travels from Guwahati with a professional shooter into the deep forests of Assam and tracks down the elephant who is later shot by the shooter, Dinesh Choudhary. Adventurous and thrilling, though the book is supposed to be a serious read, some depictions are so hilarious that they make you laugh for several minutes.
The second one was the Case of The Missing Servant, the first book among the Vish Puri Murder Mysteries. A young maid servant in the household of a well-known lawyer in Jaipur goes missing and he is blamed for her murder. Vish Puri, stereo-typically Punjabi and obese, residing in Delhi, takes up the case and travels as far as the Jadugoda mines of Jharkhand, to prove the lawyer's innocence. Both funny and mysterious, this book is a good read.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pasta with cilantro-basil pesto

1 n half cup fusilli/farfelle/macaroni pasta
1/4 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup cilantro or coriander leaves
2 tbsp walnuts
1/4 cup grated cheese
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp butter
1 n 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion
1 small tomato
salt, sugar and pepper to taste

1. Add the basil and cilantro leaves, walnuts, olive oil, cheese, 1/4 tsp salt and garlic into the grinder and grind into a rough paste. The pesto is ready.
2. Boil the pasta in salt water and let it cool.
3. Heat butter in a vessel and fry the finely chopped onion till translucent. Add the milk and the pesto and mix well. Let it simmer for a while and add the pasta, chopped tomato, salt, sugar, pepper to taste.
4. Mix and cook for 2-3minutes.
5. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Me, then and now

I have no idea how this amelioration took place in me after I came to college. But the beginning of college life definitely suddenly meant the end of rebelliousness and pugnacity. It suddenly transformed me into a very "Sidha Bachchaa", I don't know how!! I used to be funnier, 'ridiculous-er' and naughtier, during my school days. Enter college and I became a relatively serious, more mature and less fun-loving individual.

Back at school, my environmental science teacher used to call me 'a major source of noise pollution', while teaching, well, noise pollution. Being thrown out of class when I was in the 10th grade was a daily regime. Being asked to keep quiet or being scolded was every day's story. Trips to the principal's office were not that often, but when the time came to visit the office, the scoldings were not in scanty either. During my school days, I have been called many names by the teachers such as 'thick-skinned', 'naughty', 'useless' and downright 'outrageous'. But these were no implication that I stop the madness I had been creating in class or the school corridors; because I knew the teachers loved me. When I left school, I heard from other students that my teachers were full of praise for me. I got fairly good grades, so that helped a lot, I guess. My accomplices, on the other hand, didn't obtain such praiseworthy comments from the teachers, unfortunately, being average in both behavior and marks.

Whereas in college, I've seldom been lectured about my demeanor, always have submitted assignments on time, never been caught eating in class(in school, it was quite the opposite! :P) and maintained a decent CGPA. I have only once been thrown out of class as my teacher most probably overheard that I said that he has a 'piggish' face, and that too, on the first day of the Bengali new year. Otherwise, my etiquette has been close to perfect for the past 2years. Wonder how this drastic change could ever be possible? :O

Friday, May 13, 2011

Chicken Bharta


500g chicken
1n1/2 cup tomato puree
200g chopped onions
3 black cardamom
3 green cardamom
3 bay leaves
3 to 4 cloves
5tsp white oil
3tsp ginger garlic paste
1tsp red chilly powder
1tsp cumin powder
1tsp turmeric powder
1tsp coriander powder
3tsp cashew paste
1/4 cup curd
1tsp butter
2tsp fresh cream
1 boiled egg
salt to taste


Add the cloves, cardamom and bay leaves along with the chicken and boil. Separate chicken from bones. Add oil in a pan and fry the onions till golden brown. Make a smooth paste of ginger garlic paste, red chilly powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder and water. Add this paste into the pan and stir well. Add the tomato puree, cashew paste and chicken and mix well. Strain the broth obtained by boiling the chicken into the pan. Add curd, salt and butter to the pan and let the mixture simmer for 5-10 minutes. Garnish with fresh cream, boiled egg and coriander leaves. Serve hot.