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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Chp 762. Dinner by Christina

Continuing with my Foodie blog updates, here is a simple home-made Chicken Biryani that you can also cook at home, courtesy my dear friend Christina.

It was my friend Sanga's last day in Pune. And so Christina made him a farewell Biryani dinner before he left for the airport.

Why Biryani? Because, apparently, that is a romantic thing to do these days. Like, Sanga once said, "Beauty lies in the eyes of the Biryani holder", and Christina replied, "I'm just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love Biryani."

Anyhoo, I left work early that day and went straight to Christina's house. Sun was about to set in the distant Pune horizon.

By the time I reached her place, Christina had already prepared the Chicken base, so I don't have any photos of the preparation, but here is an easy step by step method on how to make the Chicken base, as described by Christina to me.

1. Take the raw chicken and wash it.

2. Cut it into small pieces (if not cut already).

3. Optionally, you can remove the bones.

4. Add salt, turmeric powder and Kashmiri powder to the raw Chicken (Christina used Kashmiri powder instead of Meat masala because the latter gives it a very rich Indian masala taste and smell that she doesn't like).

5. Grind ginger and garlic to paste.

6. Add Long (Cloves), Elaichi (Cardamom) and Thakthing (Cinnamon) to the paste.

7. Apply the paste mixture to the Chicken.

8. Finally add Dahi (Curd) to the entire Chicken. Let it marinate for 2 hours.

9. Heat oil in a frying pan and add finely chopped onions once heated.

10. Add the marinated Chicken. Let it cook like that while occasionally stirring it.

Once cooked, the Chicken base for the Biryani is ready!

Meanwhile, cook the rice separately.

Christina added Milk with the water to cook the rice, along with 5 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp salt to give it a really good aroma and buttery taste. And finally before closing the lid, she placed one Cardamom on top and then cooked the rice (in Mizo we call this "Chaw elaichi chhipchhuan" :P )

Once the Chicken base and Rice were ready, it was finally time to make the Chicken Biryani. Now here is something new that I learnt from Christina that night.

If you are going to use a normal cooking pot that is thin layered, ALWAYS apply salt at the bottom and then cover the entire vessel with foil.

Why? Because apparently Biryani must be cooked at low flame for a very long time, so if this is not done, the entire bottom of the pot gets black and deep fried!

Once the cooking vessel is properly covered with foil, add the prepared Chicken base at the bottom.

Fill it to around half the vessel, and then add the cooked rice on top of it.

Thadaaa, your Chicken Biryani is ready to be cooked. Also cover the lid properly with foil again.

Similarly, take the remaining Chicken base, and if you have a cooking pan with thick exteriors, then there is no need to put salt at the bottom and cover with foil, you can add the remaining rice directly on top and cook it just like that.

And so that is how you make a delicious home-cooked Chicken Biryani.

Once we were done enjoying the delicious cuisine, Christina packed some Biryani as tiffin for Sanga to eat on his long flight back to Kolkata.

And then yeah, we all saw him off as his Uber came to pick him up.

Farewell my brother.

So that was it. A really good and easy to make Chicken Biryani. Are you planning to make it this way? Do let me know in the comments on Facebook.

Until then, cheers for now everyone. More food posts coming up soon.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Chp 761. Dinner by Zodini

For the next couple of blog updates, I will be posting about the recent dinners I had at various homes here in Pune, with as much detail as possible on the food served and the recipes. A series of food blog post for all you food lovers out there. :)

One of the perks of being a single bachelor who live alone is that all your friends across town feel sorry for you, and so you get invited to dinners regularly. Sometimes the awesome food they cook can fill up the emptiness in your heart to a certain extent… *cue dramatic response* :P

First up, is of course my dear friend Zodini, well renowned across our Pune Mizo community for her delicious cooking. Wife of my bro Daniel, you have to be completely sober when you are invited to her place for dinner otherwise you may miss out on the delicious food she had made with so much passion and intensity.

That night, Zodini had also invited a few other people to equalize the male-female ratio :P

A really merry bunch of people - Mazuii, Duati and Zoey. They filled that night with a lot of fond memories.

Below are the awesome dishes Zodini had made that night. She messaged me earlier about the description of each recipe, which I am reproducing here to the best of my abilities.

Arsa kan (Chicken Fry Mizo style)

After deep frying the raw chicken for a few minutes on high flame, take it out and then add onions, garlic, tomatoes, green peas, and other garnishes. And then slowly add the deep fried chicken back to the mix again and put the flame in simmer, until they smell like Heaven :)

Bawngsa leh Alu kan (Beef and Potato gravy)

Heat some oil in a pressure cooker and quickly add onions, garlic, a few pieces of ginger, one pinch of meat masala, turmeric powder, chilli powder and salt, along with leaves of Bahkhawr (Culantro). Add the meat and stir for some time until everything is mixed properly.

Add some water to the mixture and then close the pressure cooker and put the flame on high. Wait for the cooker to whistle at least 6-7 times, and then reduce the flame to simmer. After a few more minutes, switch the stove off, depressurize the cooker and open it. Add chopped potatoes in it, add some more water and then cook at high flame again. Wait for it to whistle 3 times, and then cook at simmer until it is ready.

Methi bai (Fenugreek Mizo stew)

Take salt, soda powder and ajinomoto and mix it in cold water. Once mixed properly, heat it to boil. As the water boils, add chopped brinjal (the small variant) and green chillies. Cook for some time and then add Methi and stir for a while until the dish is ready.

Tauh (Mizo mixture)

Take the sprouts of Moong dal (green gram) along with 3 different types of chana (chickpeas). Soak them in water until they hydrate and enlarge ("that's what she said!"). Mix them in a bowl with chopped onions, roasted chillies and salt. Squeeze some lime on the mixture. Heat a small quantity of oil and add that boiling oil to the mixture, hear that beautiful sizzling sound, and again mix it real well.

Hmarcha rawt (Mizo Chilli chutney)

This is perhaps the easiest to make but without it, no Mizo meal course is complete. Hmarchapui (large green chillies) are roasted directly on the flaming stove (yes, great care must be taken to ensure that there is proper ventilation in the house or else everybody's gonna cough and wheeze). Once they are roasted nicely, put it in a grinder with onions, tomatoes, and a pinch of salt and ajinomoto. Grind the mixture until they are all in small pieces. Thadaaa, Mizo hmarcha rawt.

Iromba (Fermented Fish Potato chutney)

This is a popular Meitei dish and not a Mizo one, popular across Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland. You can read about how to make a simple Eromba on my previous post Chp 738. How To Make Eromba. The way Zodini made it that night was a bit different though, she had put fermented fish, boiled potatoes, brinjal, tomatoes, bastenga, salt and ajinomoto in a vessel with water, and after boiling them for some time on simmer, she grinded them all together and then garnished it with onions with dhania (Cilantro). Super yumm!

And that was it, the awesome dinner Zodini made for us. My plate -

Here are a few bonus pics of that night. Great food, great time, great memories :)

Soon it was time to leave. Duati and Mazuii left, and I followed suit as my Uber arrived.

Overall, awesome dinner Zodin, thanks a lot for it. Looking forward to it again soon :D

I hope this post was useful to you all, do hit me back if you want more details about the recipes, tomorrow's post is going to be about Biryani. Signing off for now, cheers everyone. G'nite.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Chp 760. Haleem in Pune

Eid Mubarak everyone!

So this past one month, while my Muslim friends were all fasting, I was having the time of my life enjoying Haleem! :D

Haleem is a special Muslim delicacy we get here in India only during the month of Ramadan/Ramzan. It is a stew/broth like cuisine made from wheat and meat. I always thought Haleem was made from mutton, until my landlord who's from the Gulf told me the Haleem they used to eat back in the Middle East was made from camel's meat! I would love to try that out one day.

Back when I was in Hyderabad, I used to have Haleem almost every night during Ramadan. And then I moved to Mumbai and "Kakori House" was the only restaurant I found that delivered tasty Haleem. Now that I am in Pune, I looked at Swiggy and found six restaurants delivering Haleem to my location. I decided to try them all out! :D

Here's my journal.

1. Biryani By KG, Viman Nagar.
Mutton Haleem + 2 Roti + Chicken 65 combo at ₹ 359

Yeah, "Biryani By KG" is the name of the restaurant, don't give me that look, I didn't come up with it :D Their Haleem was super yummy! I was a bit surprised though, as I was expecting Mutton Haleem and Chicken 65 to be served separately, but instead, it came together as one dish :D This was a special Swiggy Ramzan combo and it is not there on their menu now. I had it with some beef king chilli pickles and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

2. Cafe Diamond Queen, Camp.
Mutton Haleem x 2 - ₹ 360

This Haleem came with extra loads of deep-fried onions, making it super delicious. I ordered two for lunch since I was going to Teresa's place later that night and I wanted Nitin to have a taste of it. My only complain about this Haleem was that there were no cashew nuts in it. Cashews really make the Haleem tastes extra better, IMHO

3. New Paradise, Kharadi.
Mutton Regular Haleem at ₹ 200

See, this is what I meant by having cashews in Haleem. It really makes it tastier and the aroma can make any mouth water. I had it with fried eggs and raw onions. It might look simple but it was sooo gooood!

4. Faasos, Viman Nagar.
Mutton Haleem With Laccha Paratha and Kulcha - ₹ 319

Yes, even Faasos made Haleem during Ramzan :D Don't let the quantity above fool you, it might look less but it was extremely filling. Heavy and thick, this version from Faasos used almonds instead of cashew nuts and it gave it a very distinctive flavor.

5. George Restaurant, East Street.
Mutton Haleem at ₹ 200

This Haleem came with large chunks of meat, which was surprising since Haleem is supposed to be minced and broth-like. It was tasty anyway, and I had it with omelette.

6. Behrouz Biryani, Viman Nagar.
Gosht Haleem with mini Falafel-E-Khaasand mini Murgh Koobideh at ₹ 351

And finally, I ordered from Behrouz Biryani. I knew their Haleem was going to come with lots of dry fruits since Behrouz was known for adding such stuff on their biryanis. Also, you won't find this item on their menu again until the next Ramzan, so it was a must have.

Overall, that was my experience with Haleem this year, and I look forward to it again next year. My colleagues and I actually planned to go to this restaurant called "Arabian Bites" at Kondhwa last week to try out their Haleem as it is apparently the best Haleem in Pune, but unfortunately, my dear friend Siami met with an accident (she's ok now) and I had to take a leave the next day, and so we all cancelled the plan. But next year, if we are all alive and well, that's where we will be heading.

So, this is my short review on the Haleem that we get around Koregaon Park and Kalyani Nagar in Pune this year, hope you found it useful. Eid Mubarak once again everyone, see you all later. Cheers.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Chp 759. A Very Bed Experience!

It has been more than 6 months now since I've been sleeping every night on my bed with my legs up in the air. :D :P

Ok so I'm sure many of us had one of those really bad online shopping experiences, right? The shoes came in the wrong size or the dress came in the wrong colour or the vibrator came without the charger etc right? Well, I had the mother lode of all bad experiences.

On November last year, since it was Diwali, there were a lot of offers and discounts everywhere. I somehow decided that it was high time I have my own bed, instead of using the one my landlord had provided me. It was kinda like being independent, you know.

Plus, it would be a whole new experience if I can go up to a girl at a bar and tell her, "Hey sweetie, wanna come back to my place? I have my own bed, you know. Not the landlord's, mine. And maybe one day when you buy your own bed, you can keep it next to mine and you sleep on yours and I'll sleep on mine and we can look at each other as we both fall off to sleep."

I don't know if that pick-up line works or not but my dear friend Jacqueline of Ramhlun assured me that girls find that kinda intimacy hot :)

So coming back to my worst online shopping experience ever. I decided to buy my own bed for the first time. The offer on Flipkart looked really good!

It was around 10K after discount, which was not bad (I ended up learning a lot about the differences between Particle wood, MDF and Plywood bed). I immediately bought a Spring mattress to go with the bed, throwing in another 10K after around 70% discount (I also ended up learning a lot about the difference between Pocket Spring and Bonnell Spring mattresses).

The mattress was delivered within 1 day! It was a Saturday morning and I was at home. But the packaging was so huge that it didn't fit inside my apartment lift, and so I helped the two scrawny Flipkart delivery guys carry it slowly, step by step up the narrow winding staircase to my apartment on the 4th floor. Daymm that was tiring indeed.

The bed didn't arrive during the rest of the weekend though.

And then on Monday, when I was in office, I received a call that my bed was on its way.

So here's the thing you gotta know about me. I live alone. I don't have a girlfriend or a roommate or a pet, it is just me and me all alone at my apartment. I love my privacy, but there are times when I have to pay for my privacy, such as moments like this when I had to rush home from office in the middle of the day to receive the delivery.

I reached home and the delivery guys were there. Yayyy my bed had finally arrived. Surprisingly, the packaging was much smaller than the mattress and we managed to fit it inside my lift. Once delivered, they told me that the installation guys would come soon to construct the bed. Aaargh. And so I went back to office.

The next day, I received a call that the installation guys were there. I rushed back from office again. I greeted their smiling faces and we went up to my apartment. They opened the package. They inspected each part and realized the main part was broken!

After a long discussion with them and phone calls to their superiors including Flipkart helpline, they packed the stuff again and marked it "For Exchange" and left. I went back to office in a sour mood.

Two days later I received a call that the inspection guy was there. He wasn't even there to pick up the bed, he was just there to merely make sure the bed was properly packed and the reason for return was properly filled. I went back to office after he left.

And then a day later, the pick-up guys for the exchange items finally arrived and so I left office again in the middle of an important meeting and they came and picked up the bed packaging and left.

No words from Flipkart during that weekend.

And then the next week, while I was in a Call conference, I got a call from Flipkart telling me that the replacement bed was on its way. My boss said go, get done with it, and so I went home again. Same as earlier, they easily transported the package up to my apartment and left. I went back to office.

Two days later, I got a call from the installation guys again and I went back from office to my apartment. We smiled at each other as if we had been best friends for a long time. "Hope nothing is broken this time," they said with a laugh. I laughed back uneasily. They opened the package and inspected all the pieces carefully, and THANK GOD, none of them were broken. BUT. Fucking fuck. None of the screws and instructions were included!!!

I had a loooong, furious, expletive ridden call with Flipkart helpline. They told me to tell the installation guys to pack it "for exchange" again and I was like, why can't you just fucking send the missing screws and instruction manual and be done with it, but they were like, that's not protocol, the whole thing needed to be replaced, and finally I was like, fuck your protocol, and instead of again putting it "for exchange", I cancelled the entire order because I was in no mood to keep coming back and forth from office. The installation guys really understood my frustration. Flipkart didn't.

But I did have to go from office to home in the middle of the day twice, once for the inspection guy to verify the package and the second time for the pick-up guys to collect the package. The only thing that made me feel good was uninstalling Flipkart app from my phone. I had bought so many items from Flipkart but the way I was treated was downright appalling and it satisfied me to some extent that I would never be using the bloody app again.

Eight freaking times they made me go home from office, all for nothing.

At least my new mattress was awesome. I slept on the floor for a couple of weeks until my anger finally cooled down.

My friend Nghaka told me that he had just purchased a new bed from Quickr and it was cheap and the quality was good. I browsed on Quickr and finally found the exact bed I wanted, one without a storage compartment below (trust me, 90% of the double beds out there are with storage). I prefer a bed without storage because it was easier to clean beneath the bed, and I had no need for the storage space.

The Quickr order was soooo convenient compared to the bloody Flipkart order. They came within one day to deliver, and they themselves constructed the bed right there in my bedroom!

The only downside was that my new mattress was bigger than the bed!!!!

Ah you see, there lies the problem. Apparently, a "Queen Size" bed is NOT a standard size! There are apparently different sizes of Queen Size within its standard size range, or at least that's what I've been told.

Anyway, after all the trouble I went through with Flipkart, I had absolutely no energy to argue with Quickr or ask for a replacement or give my mattress for size adjustment. And so, till today, I sleep with my leg higher than the rest of my body, lolz. At least my leg is having a good blood circulation at night :P

What a bed experience indeed.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Chp 758. Pune Mizo Mothers Dinner

This is a post for food lovers :)

Earlier this year, the Pune Mizo mother's group of our PMCF church had a potluck dinner. For those who are unaware, a potluck gathering is where every participant brings along one or two dishes to contribute. It was a strictly mother's only event, and even the husbands were not allowed to participate. I was invited :D

And so this was how it happened.

My lonely single bachelorhood had grown to such an alarming rate that even the mother's group was concerned about me. "No bleeding heart should beat alone", that was the motto of our Pune Mizo mother's group (even they may not be aware of their motto :P ). So in the hope that my rusty frail heart might find hope again, they invited me and gave me advice and encouragement about relationships.

Left to right: Pi Remruati, Pi Carol Mazuali, Pi Teresa, Pi Baby Sainguri, Pi Athari, Pu Lonely heart, Pi RSPy, Pi Mateteii, Pi Rosy, Pi Zodini and Pi Madiki.

I loveee how Pi Rosy's son is looking at me in the above pic! :D

As Khalil Gibran once wrote, "Love one another, but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls." Well, I am here standing and waiting by the sea, all by my lonely self, with the full support of our Pune Mother's group acting as the lighthouse that will guide the boat towards me… don't let me drown… :)

The mother's group had a prayer meet, which was followed by them learning a song they were going to perform at Church later.

I on the other hand was in the other room babysitting all their children. I managed to teach some of their kids Shakespeare and Quantum Physics, so it was a productive night :P

Once the mothers were all satisfied with their song rehearsal, it was finally time to eat! Here are some of the lovely dishes they brought to the potluck dinner that night. Thanks to Teresa and Zodini for giving me details about the dish and the names of the "cooker". All the moms were great cookers. But that night Teresa was under a lot of pressure, so she was a pressure cooker. :P

Yummy Pork boiled with Mustard leaves by the host Pi Baby Sainguri.

Drumstick buhchiar! The drumstick leaves were brought by Pi Madiki, and Pi Teresa turned it into bai buhchiar (kedgeree) at the venue. St. Teresa, the Patron Saint of Bai :D

Nice Mizo style Dal by Pi Baby Sainguri.

Delicious Beef fry by Pi Madiki, though I suspect her husband might have a role in cooking this :D :P

Chicken with skin buhchiar by Pi Teresa. By the way, is it correct to translate buhchiar in English as "Kedgeree" or are "Broth" or "Stew" closer to it?

Top: Chicken sausage by Pi Mateteii. Methi tauh by Pi Remruati. Correct me if I'm wrong, but if I'm not mistaken, "Tauh" is a method of preparation by mixing crushed peanuts, garlic and chillies.

Bottom: Nutrela bawl by Pi Carol Mazuali. Bawl is another indigenous method of preparation where ingredients like Zawngtah (Parkia speciose aka stinky beans) along with Soda, Salt, Ajinomoto and Saum (fermented pork fat, Teresa said the English word for Saum is Saums) are added to the mix.

Clockwise from top: Tomato, Capsicum and Dhania mix fry and Mula salad along with Changkha (Bitter gourd boiled) with Bastenga by Pi Zodini. Hmarcha muh (grinded roasted chillies with some pork fat) by Pi Teresa. Chicken fry by Pi Athari.

Apart from all the delicious dishes above, there was also Alu Chops prepared by Pi RSPy, and grinded Baibing (Alocasia fornicate) prepared by Pi Rosy. However, I somehow missed taking their photos.

So I had to search on google for the images for those two dishes to put on my blog in case Pi RSPy and Pi Rosy feel left out. Here is a picture of Mizo style Alu Chop from Google image search:

And here is a picture of Baibing from Google image search.

Yeah that's Professor Baibing Li :D

Anyway, we really enjoyed the awesome dinner. Mothers are the best when it comes to cooking awesome cuisines. We all ate so much that night.

And so that was my memorable escapade with our Pune Mother's Group. They filled my empty stomach with food, and my empty heart with hope. I felt less lonely that night as I reached my single bachelor pad. I even listened to "Nobody knows" by Tony Rich Project only five times before sleeping that night, for a change.

Here's to the awesome support system from our Mizo community. Hope you enjoyed the scrumptious Mizo food. Cheers for now everyone, happy weekend.