GUEST POST: Life Lessons From Food

So I figure for everyone who writes / manages a blog, there are probably tens or hundreds who don’t! And I also know for certain everyone has thoughts & ideas, which at some point they want to express to the world. I know some of my friends do! And I felt what best than to invite them to this platform to share their thoughts.

This is the first in this new series of Guest Posts, and I have my bestie Shruti JP Mehta (follow her on twitter) with us who writes about her love for food and the lessons it’s taught her. Its not surprising she begins with ‘I love food.’ She also shares a leaf from her recipe book, I hope you will give it a try, and enjoy reading what she has to say!

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cute girl bakingI love food. And I love cooking. And I love sharing these two experiences with people I love. And these make up some of the most cherished memories of my life. Some of the earliest memories I have of cooking are of making cakes with my best friend, Ramya. Her cakes used to be perfect but my cakes would often come out looking like a burnt crater or a balloon filled with air. I would put a generous helping of chocolate sauce to hide the disaster and she would encouragingly devour them all. A decade since then, now we often share recipes and success stories from our kitchens. So when she asked me to write a guest post for her blog, I decided to write about cooking and food, a hobby she introduced me to.

Sometimes, when I stand alone in the kitchen, cooking and enjoying the warmth of the stove on a chilly morning, I realize that there are many life lessons that food itself teaches us. Like enjoy the journey. I love cooking leisurely as it gives me many moments to find joy…the aroma of garlic getting roasted on low heat, the delightful colors of fresh vegetables, the sizzling sound of some melted cheese escaping a cheese sandwich and falling on the hot pan.

Patience. There are some dishes that take 2-3 hours to prepare, and these are the some of the tastiest ones. Like gajar ka halwa (click here to know more about this delicious Indian dessert). It has to be simmered on low heat for a long time as the milk slowly thickens… the aroma of milk and carrots fills the house and makes the whole family wait in anticipation. Some of the best things in life too need to be patiently waited for.

Focus on the present moment. Many a time, I have had something very delicious while watching TV or playing on my mobile and then been disappointed that suddenly the food is over and I didn’t relish it enough. I feel that good food deserves undivided attention. At least the first few bites… the enticing aroma, the amusing crunchiness or the mushy melts-in-your-mouth softness, the wonderful combination of many spices…there is so much to experience if we just pay a little attention to it.

Make memories. Life is indeed about the good memories one can look back at and cherish. The more lovely memories we accumulate, the more enriched our life becomes. Food is an excellent way to store memories. Like every time I make toast and scrambled eggs, in my mind I am transported back to Goa. From the time we went there for a week last year and lived in a charming studio apartment with a great view. We used to go for a swim in the sea early morning and come back famished. And quickly wash off the salt in a hot water bath and make crunchy toast with a generous helping of butter and eggs with just salt and pepper. Oh it was so delicious!

And like food, life too is best enjoyed with loved ones!

If you haven’t tried your hand at cooking yet and would like to just see what the whole fuss is about, try this super easy recipe:

Cinnamon Hot Chocolate with Rum

  • Level – Beginner
  • Makes two tall mugs
  • Uses a thick bottomed vessel to boil milk, a big spoon to stir and a strainer
  • Takes 15-20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Full cream Milk: 1/2 litre
  • Dairy milk chocolate: 30 grams bar
  • Bournville Rich Cocoa Chocolate: 30 grams bar
  • Sugar to taste: 1 teaspoon approximately
  • Cinnamon (coarsely powdered) : 1 teaspoon
  • Dark Rum: 2 Tablespoons (Optional)
  • A magic ingredient

Method of Preparation

  1. Bring the milk to boil (Give this part your full attention, as milk has a mischievous way of boiling and spilling over the moment you take your eyes off it :P)
  2. Lower the heat and stir the milk with a big spoon for a minute to make sure it does not spill over.
  3. Break the chocolate bars into 4-5 pieces each and add to the milk.
  4. Add cinnamon and keep stirring.
  5. Take a deep breath and enjoy the aroma of chocolate and cinnamon.
  6. Once the chocolate has melted completely, taste the mixture and add sugar as per your taste.
  7. Now it is time for the magic ingredient….wait for it….a pinch of salt! Yes, salt! I call it the magic invisible ingredient because it brings out the flavor of every dish and in most preparations, you don’t realize it is there unless there is too much or too little of it.

Add a pinch of salt and stir well. Let it simmer on low flame for two minutes more.

  1. Take the mixture off the stove and use a strainer while pouring into mugs to filter out the cinnamon powder.
  2. Add a tablespoon of rum to each mug. (Optional)
  3. Your hot chocolate is now ready! Best enjoyed slowly in chilly weather, in the company of loved ones or in solitude beside a big window.

Bon Appétit!

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We welcome your comments about the post and add any more lessons you think food teaches us! And yes, would also love to hear if you tried/enjoyed the recipe & have any more to share with my readers.

photo credit: http://www.fotosearch.com

Umm, This was Crazy – Part II

Read Part – I below before you read this.
Fortunately for the four of us, we did not have to try too hard for an auto outside the main gate at such an odd hour! He agreed for 300 rupees to take us to Mehdipatnam in the city.

Now as we ’embarked on the bumpy ride’, I thought of my BITSian juniors living in Hitech City. Mad as I might sound, I called one of them asking if she would be willing to let us in into their apartment post midnight because we had no place else to go and that we wanted to “do something”! Mugdha ever so willingly agreed.

The auto ride wasn’t particularly something I would like to remember. It was terrifying to say the least. Why? Well, the road was completely deserted, with only the auto’s headlights flashing – only every now and then. Not a single vehicle crossed us, ahh, of course there were a few bulky noise-making trucks that did but we are not considering them here.


And, to scare us further, the auto-walla’s phone kept ringing (and he was receiving those calls while trying to drive with one hand) and he said, “main aa raha hoon, jaldi aa raha hoon.” Terrifying scenes from all the Bollywood movies flashing in front of my eyes, I turned completely white, apparently. Well, it was something to be scared of, after all!


Finally, after a long and rather speedy drive, we reached Mehdipatnam, and looked for another auto to take us to Hi tech City. Mugdha had sent us directions to her place in an sms. So, huddled into a smaller auto this time, the four of us experienced Hyderabad post midnight.

A blank above is to tell you that there isn’t much to write about Hyderabad’s post midnight life.


Upon reaching Mugdha’s luxurious flat and a round of introductions, my BITSian juniors cooked some delicious late-night dinner for all of us. The menu was exquisite – Pasta, Chicken sandwiches, and cold drinks along with some chips and chocolate-chip biscuits; we couldn’t have asked for more! As it happens always, when a few BITSians get together, and then if they belong to the same Department too, there’s no stopping them from going into long sessions of lachha, ignoring the rest of the world. Pretty rude for an outsider, I agree, so to not look rude, we narrated some BITS stories to the non-BITSians in the room and the lachha-session continued for more than an hour or so.

Have you ever played Taboo? It’s a card-words game, an extremely enjoyable one. And, that is what we did for the next three hours after two more juniors joined us. Two teams of four each, Controlz Vs Non-Controlz; and boy! did we have a gala time or what! Controlz made a clean sweep, although my friends in the other team provided both good competition and great fun – with Dipsen using all of the Taboo words one after the other for cards after cards!


Oh Dipsen, you are the cutest I know.

Post 5.30am, the diligent student and the sane human in us woke up to reality. We forced my juniors to retire; they had to get to offices and internships in about three hours time.

We gathered our tired minds to work, and strained our eyes to read the fine print from our laptops. Only to fail, for slowly, all the four wickets fell one by one on the big black cushiony sofas into a deep slumber of about an hour!


By 8am, we were on the way back to our campus in a seven-seater. We had taken our camera with us, but in all the excitement and madness, we forgot to click for most part of the time. But, none of the eight would forget the night, ever. For Dipsen – it was the satisfaction of having done something outrageous, breaking college rules to be precise. For the two guys who accompanied us – it was the delight of having given us company through such madness. For my juniors – it was reliving Pilani days, graveyard shifts in the Controlz Booth to be precise. And for me – it was the addition of another great story that I would relay to my grandchildren!

Umm, This was Crazy – Part I

This post should have been here a long time ago. But, given the rather erratic MBA schedule and the regular succumbing to the whims and fancies of my professors, this post got inevitably delayed. Of course, I also went home in a rush which added to the further delay. Anyway, read on now.

Disclaimer: All names are real. And no incident here is fictitious.

This is the story of one night. A rather simple and funny story of just 12 hours!
It all started with Dipsen walking into my hostel room at 9pm. I was acting a slave to my laptop at that time, trying hard to start reading the case pending for Brand lecture the next day, with two more assignments nagging at the back of my mind. Ok, alright! I won’t brag about my academic schedule here but, what I mean to imply is I was busy with terrible work load. (In fact you know, to validate, just that evening I was chatting with Raghu and Anish, and they would willingly agree that I was dead meat then!). Anyway. So, Dipsen walked in with the biggest grin and even more intense sheepishness written all over her face. Then, she blurted, “let’s do something!”. Puzzled I stared at her for some time, obviously prompting her to explain! The next couple of things she said sounded just like her – determined yet confused. Mm hmm, Determined because she was sure she had to do something. And Confused because she did not know how to.


Half an hour later, some part of her craziness rubbed off on to me. The “let’s do something” had changed to “let’s run off from campus”. By this time, Nivi was also in my room and she looked at both of us very disapprovingly. And so, we knew she wasn’t going to “do anything”!

Like some random shots, we phoned and Googled a few places around our isolated campus. When I say isolated, I really mean Isolated! There is nothing around my college campus apart from vast stretches of green and only green. And, as expected our search was all in vain. But, Dipsen wasn’t to budge at all. About one thing, she was very true, “It’s a chance of a lifetime – to have this kind of crazy enthusiasm. We might not have the time and the place to do this again!”

So, like all management graduates, we tried to first set up a team of like-minded people – people on campus who were ready to take on a crazy night. Most of them did not agree. We finally called up Nishadh, almost expecting him to get convinced in a jiffy. But it was Tj who unexpectedly agreed almost instantly! Finally, Nishadh gave in too. And so, we found our team.


But what was it that we were “to do” exactly? Haah! We hadn’t decided yet.


As we all got ready to leave (with no planned destination), it was past 10pm. Now, like in all college campuses in real life, there are some rules you are supposed to follow. Like not go out of main gate without permission post 11pm, like sign in the Out-Register while leaving campus. And there are certain general rules of Life that you are supposed to follow too. Like not travel on a deserted road with no street lights in an auto at the middle of the night. Anyone would call you insane if you did that.

But, those are exactly the things we did that night. The four of us quietly packed our laptop bags, convinced each other that we were doing this now or never, and casually walked out of the main gate.