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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Chp 685. Mizo Chilli


A lot of chilled stuff happened the past few days.

First, it was the glorious moment for India as Manushi Chhillar was crowned Miss World 2017.

And then came Sashi Tharoor who took a potshot at demonetization by tweeting, "What a mistake to demonetise our currency! BJP should have realised that Indian cash dominates the globe: look, even our Chhillar has become Miss World!"

His tweet was an attempt to make a pun on Chhillar (chillar) which means "loose change".

It got a mixed response though, with many people being offended by his tweet and even the NCW stepping in while others tweeted back saying this was a light-hearted humor and that the NCW should focus on more serious issues like the bounty placed on Deepika's head.

Ah, just another usual day at our Indian social media.

Finally, Miss World herself sent a classy response saying, "Chhillar talk is just small change - let's not forget the 'chill' within Chhillar".

And with that, I guess everybody chilled out...

For us Mizos, we had another reason to keep chilling.

Yesterday, our state government sent out an official circular stating that the popular and common chilli in Mizoram known as "Vaihmarchate" or "Bird's eye chilli" will henceforth be called "Mizo Chilli" from now onwards.

Wooohoooo! :D

I think this is a wonderful move. To celebrate this moment, as a long term chilli fan, I made this for dinner last night...


Just… just… appreciate the awesome art masterpiece display above okay? :D :P It took me a really long time to carve those letters out from my Prosciutto dry-cured ham dinner! By the way, the green pieces below the words "Mizo Chilli" above are the actual Mizo Chilli pickles. :)

It would have been more apt if I had made a Mizo cuisine last night, but it's a weekday and I cook Mizo dishes only during the weekends. Still, this was my contribution to mark this momentous occasion.

For those of you who want to see the circular, here it is (thanks to Rinkimi for sending this info to me) -


So, yes, ladies and gentlemen, from now on, all Bird's eye chilli or Vaihmarchate grown in Mizoram will now be known as Mizo Chilli.

There is a popular misconception within our Mizo community, especially among the Millennials and Generation Z, regarding our Vaihmarchate. I have heard many people say stuff like, "When we travel and live outside Mizoram, we call this chilli Mizo hmarcha, but when we are in Mizoram, we call it Vai hmarcha. That is so strange and funny."

Well, according to my good friend and brave firefighter from the USA Henry Vangchhia, he said that the "Vai" in Vaihmarcha has absolutely nothing to do with the term "Vai" used to describe a non-Mizo. The "Vai" here is used to denote something small, just as how Vaimîm means "small species of mîm (corn)", he said. This was something that his grandfather Pu Laldailova had told him many years ago.

And yes, this makes sense. This particular chilli specimen does not grow anywhere else in India other than the North Eastern states (and a few regions in Kerala), and is more popular in South East Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore etc. In fact another popular name for Bird's eye chilli is Thai chilli.

That is why every Friday evening here in Pune, I rush to Nature's Basket at KP straight from office to buy their freshly arrived batch of Thai bird chilli!


Because by Saturday evening, they are all gone. Sometimes I would get some for my friends Sanga and the others @ Aundh since their Nature's Basket over there doesn't have this particular chilli. Yeah, KP is the best :)

We usually prepare Vaihmarchate Mizo Chilli by grinding them and making them into chutney-like paste with roasted tomatoes and onions. Below is a recent Mizo Chilli paste made by my neighbour Zama. One bowl contains fermented soybean, and the other is without, because some of his non-Mizo guests that night didn't eat bekang.


Before writing this blog post, we had a brief discussion at out Mizo Bloggers WhatsApp group. I asked the others if the word "Hmarcha" has anything to do with "Hmar" people. The others laughed and ridiculed me for my assumption, but some of them said it was quite appropriate because Hmar cuisines are extremely spicy and they have a very high tolerance limit when it comes to spicy food (Hmar bai is sooooo freaking awesomeee!).

But later Hrangkhupa told us that the Mizo word Hmarcha was derived from the Hindi/Assamese word Marcha (Mirch/Mirchi).

Apart from Mizo Chilli (Vaihmarchate), we also have Hmarchapui. It is bigger in size and used in a number of dishes as condiment. It is slightly thicker than the common green chillies (hara mirch) that we get all across India.

This is hmarchapui (pic courtesy Muantea, Mizo Bloggers group) -


We also roast it regularly to make different chutney paste…


Trust me, this chilli is also to die for. The normal green chilli over here does not exactly have the same zing, though I think it is the closest substitute to it. Here is John trying to roast normal green chillies at Sanga's place :D


So these are the two main types of chillies in Mizoram - Vaihmarchate, now known as Mizo chilli, and Hmarchapui. Other than this, there are also other types of chillies, though not as common as these two. For example, we have a popular chilli flake called "Hmarcha hmui rawt dip". It is a chilli that has been roasted, dried and grinded. This is made from neither Mizo chilli nor Hmarchapui, but just plain chilli.

Here's a pic of that particular plain chilli that Muantea sent me -


Once it is grinded to pieces, it is packed into smaller packets and they last for a very long time. I usually add this to my fried eggs or bekang chutney here in Pune.


I'm still trying to get accustomed to calling Bird's eye chilli as Mizo chilli on my blog, I'm sure I'll get used to it after some time.

I did have this brief discussion with a friend yesterday, who thought it was quite unnecessary to change the name.

"A bird's eye chilli by any other name is still a bird's eye chilli," he quipped.

"True," I replied, "But take a look at Raja Mirchi, aka King Chilly or Ghost pepper. It is also known as "Bhut jolokia" in Assam, "U-Morok" among the Meiteis of Manipur, "Malcha-Phoh" among the Kukis and "Naga chilli" in Nagaland. They're all the same and everybody knows that, I don't think it hurts to have our own regional name for it."

"But we already have a name for it - Vaihmarchate!" he said.

Well, he kinda got me there. But I think the name "Mizo chilli" is more catchy, especially to non-Mizos outside the state, and as a foodie who regularly takes part in different food fests and North East cookouts, I would be filled with so much pride if some of the guests exclaimed, "Oooh, this Mizo chilli is so awesome!"

At the end of the day, the circular clearly mentions that this is just a Geographical Indication, meaning only the Bird's eye chilli grown in Mizoram will be called Mizo chilli. I think this is more about patenting the name. I can still very much call it Bird's eye chilli if it is from someplace else. As David from our Bloggers Group said, "This is about preventing bio-piracy and establishing a secure place at the gene-bank so that in the future, outsiders will not steal our home-grown identity."

Touché.

So peeps, just chill. :)

Enjoy Mizo chilli if you haven't tried it out yet. You can order this chilli and a lot of other awesome spicy Northeastern chillies from giskaa.com and placeoforigin.in. And there's this new place I discovered recently called sprig.co.in that sells Bhut jolokia sauce! I have placed an order and will let you know how it is once it arrives.

Until then, keep chilling yo.

Cheers!

[Addendum: I did mention earlier that you will also find Bird's eye chilli in Kerala, but trust me, they are not as spicy as the ones from North East.]


Monday, November 20, 2017

Chp 684. Tattoo makeover makeover


Recently I got a tattoo makeover of my previous tattoo makeover :D

There's this really talented Mizo tattoo artist called Zuia here in Pune. He has his own Tattoo parlour. When Sanga heard that I wanted to retouch my previous tattoo makeover, he took me to his house. Zuia took photos of my tats and brainstormed on the best way to cover it up.

After a week or two, he told me that he was ready with his design. That day, some of my friends too went with me to his tattoo parlour as they wanted to see the whole process of someone getting inked.

Sanga drove us to the place with his car. Sanga by the way has an indirect connection to one of my infamous tattoos that only a few of our close friends know about. :D


The journey was a bit long as the shop was located at the suburban area of Pimple Saudagar. It was also my first time at this locality.



Finally, we reached Ink Land Tattoo. It is situated near the busy Kokane Chowk (the correct pronunciation is Ko-ka-ne, though it's sounds so cool to call it ko-kain :P )


The shop was awesome, with all the proper equipment and tattoo seats in place.


You can follow Ink Land Tattoo Facebook page here as well. Zuia has kept a large collection of his past work there.

The moment we met him, Zuia got to work immediately, as he had a long list of appointments after me. He showed me the final image of the Samurai warrior that we both agreed upon.




He measured the required size and then printed the image out on a printer. He then traced that exact image on a special paper. That paper is something like those carbon papers we used to use before the age of internet.

Once done, he shaved the tattoo area of my arm with a disposable blade and then pasted that special paper and slowly peeled it off. The imprint of the image outline remained on my arm.




He applied a lot of disinfectant as well. While me and the guys were completely captivated with what Zuia was doing, what were the ladies up to?



Oh.

:D

By the way, Zuia admitted that most tattoo artists don't like to do makeover work because it is a big challenge for them, and since it doesn't turn out as good as new tattoos are supposed to, the artist ends up getting a bad rep for that.

But in my case, he was willing to work on it because of our Mizo-Mizo connection, even though this wasn't just a tattoo makeover but a tattoo makeover makeover! :)

To know more about my previous tattoo makeover, you can read my old blog post here - Chp 499. Tattoo Makeover.

To cut a long story short, I initially had this shitty tattoo…




The tattoo artist back then worked his magic on the above abomination of a tattoo, and managed to transform it into this -


For details of the process or the background story on my first shitty tattoo, do visit the link given above :)

And so I was a happy man. The makeover design covered up the old design nicely. But not for long. Within a couple of weeks, the new tattoo faded, and most of the Maori design and shadings completely disappeared!

It could be because of a combination of reasons - either the ink used was of inferior quality, or the artist didn't pierce deep enough, or I wasn't taking care of the post-tats treatment well enough.

Whatever be it, the so called "tiger" resurfaced and reared its ugly head again.

Now you can see why most tattoo artists hesitate to take up jobs like this.

But that did not deter Zuia and he got to work immediately.



Zuia also advised me that I should get this tattoo in different batches, waiting for each batch to heal first before the next sitting.

And so on the first sitting, Zuia did the entire outlines and important thick lines.


After that we all headed back to Pune Aundh.


It took two weeks for the outline to completely heal. I was taking good care of it, making sure the area was well lubricated with Vaseline or baby oil the entire time.

On the second sitting, Sanga went with me again. The others had seen enough I guess (and yes, it would be quite boring for those not interested in tattoos).

For the shading, Zuia used four different shades of black.


He also used two different types of needles - one was used to re-outline a few sections (single precision needle) and the other one used for shading had 12 freaking needles in it!



Good right? A very beautiful masterpiece indeed. No traces of that God-forsaken tiger, lolz.


But Zuia wasn't done yet!

After this, we again sat down for around an hour where he used only white ink. It was to polish the tattoo and give it a glossy-like finishing.


Check out the end result! :)


Really awesome.

On my third sitting, I didn't want to bother my friends again and went to his tattoo parlour alone. This time we decided to do both the outline and shading in one sitting as the remaining image wasn't that big.

The Dojo that he drew for the background looked really cool.


We quickly started off after that. Once he had done the outline, we took a break and had lunch. After lunch we continued again. There was an appointment at 3 PM so I gave way to the beautiful lady who came to get a feather tattoo done on her forearm.


Once she left, Zuia resumed work, and finally completed the Dojo.



We also put up a few other designs and shadings below the Dojo and till today, his work is clearly visible on my arm. I’m planning to get a few more designs and maybe even cover up my first tattoo which is the Chinese character (which means "East", and not "Schezwan Chicken noodles" contrary to popular belief :P )

So I'll update you all once I do that.

Do "like" Ink Land Tattoo on Facebook, and if you want to contact Zuia, his number is +91 7721084552. He'll even give you a discount if you tell him you heard about him from my blog post :)

Until then, cheers, and always try to live your life like a permanent tattoo. With no ragrets regrets. Ponder on that for a few minutes and you'll see how deep that sinks in. Ciao.






Monday, November 13, 2017

Chp 683. Experimental Intoxication


Recently, Indigo Delicatessen had opened a new branch at Lane no.6 Koregaon Park, and so I went with my school and college mate Vara to check it out.

One of the cocktails I ordered was called "Boozy Lemonade - Watermelon, basil and ginger with vodka". It was bloody amazing!


What I really loved about this drink was that, there were large chunks of watermelon in the concoction, and taking a bite overwhelmed me with this awesome sensation of watermelon and vodka taste. It was obvious the fruit pieces had been dipped and infused in vodka for a long time.

I decided to try it for myself too!

And so one day, I bought a watermelon and a bottle of Smirnoff :D


Gently slice the watermelon in half. Speaking of slicing, I just watched "Blade Of The Immortal" last night and it was AMAZING, I really recommend you watch it too, definitely movie of the year for me. Directed by the legendary Takashi Miike (Crows Zero, 13 Assassins, Ichi the killer, Visitor Q, Gozu etc etc).


Scoop out some of the watermelon and pour a shitload of vodka in its place.


Why waste the scooped-out pieces? Pour vodka into that as well. Why so much vodka? Because, cyka blyat :D


Freeze it for 30 minutes.


After that, take it out from the fridge. Grind some of the pulp into juice and pour into a glass along with large chunks of the vodka-infused watermelon pieces.

Enjoy!


Looks awesome right?

Well, wanna know a little secret?

It was horrible, lolzzzz.

The vodka was too strong so it completely killed the taste of the watermelon! I mean it was still drinkable, and you'll like it if you love vodka, but this was not what I intended on making. And the taste was FAR from the drink I had at Indigo Deli.

So I googled and found out that apart from adding too much vodka, I made two other big mistakes.

Mistake number 1. This wasn't how a vodka-infused watermelon was supposed to be made. For that, I was actually supposed to make a small hole on a watermelon without cutting it up, and through the help of a funnel or direct insertion, let the vodka slowly seep inside the watermelon. And then plug the hole and leave it as it is for a couple of hours as the vodka slowly infuses with the watermelon inside. Some people even wait 12-24 hours for this process to take place! And I did it for 30 minutes, lolzzz.

This is how it's actually supposed to be done [source: rachel's pinterest]

Mistake number 2. Lack of other ingredients. As I read up more on all the other recipes and ingredients of making different vodka-based watermelon cocktails, I realized I should have added a lot of other stuff like Triple Sec, Sugar syrup, Mint, Lemon etc.

Ahhh Rookie mistake indeed.

Next time, I promise I will be ready with all those stuff and will update you again on how it turned out :)

Since I had vodka lying around in the house anyway, the other day I decided to make Bloody Mary.

And to make sure I didn't repeat the same mistake again, I read up a lot on all the ingredients and method of making it. I noted down all the basic ingredients and then went to Nature's Basket with a long shopping list. Finally I was ready:

Vodka. check.
Tomato juice. check.
Lemoneez juice. check.
Tabasco sauce. check.
Celery salt. check.
Black salt. check.
Ground black pepper. check.
Paprika. check.
Thai bird chilly. check.

I bought all the requirements, except for Worcestershire sauce because they didn't have it. I got Sriracha Extra Hot Chili sauce instead as a substitute.


I followed every instruction by the book, not just about the preparation of the cocktail but on how to correctly salt the glass rim.

Shake shake shake. I worked my magic on the shaker. I also realized it was really hard not to shake one's ass while shaking the mixture :P

Finally here's the result of my endeavor.


And yes, this turned out awesome!

It was so good that people from all corners of the globe flew in to Pune just to taste my awesome Bloody Mary :D


And so it became a regular thing I made from that day onwards.

One more post for all you teetotalers. I think you will like this very simple mocktail.

Take some lime.


Squeeze them dry.


Pour passionfruit juice into the glass.


Add salt. I would also recommend Black Salt rather than this.


Voilà. A refreshing Summertime non-alcoholic drink!


So that's my quick update for today. I will return later with a better watermelon vodka drink and a few other new cocktails. So until then, cheers everyone! :)