Sunday, February 21, 2010

What's for Dinner Tonight?

During one of my conversations with M, I was telling her of how I cook for the week on Sunday. Weekdays for me are very hectic and by the time I return home, it is any time between 8 PM and 9 PM. I don’t have the inclination or enthusiasm to cook after that. M remarked to this routine that, “That way you don’t have to think everyday as to what make for dinner?” And I told her that for three years, I cooked food every evening. But somehow that question never arose in my mind.
Growing up, like several of you, my mom would also ask, “What do you want to eat for dinner tonight?” As we grew older, we realized that this was the story of many households. When I got married, I consciously made a decision not to bore A with this question and ask him in the morning or afternoon as to what to make for dinner. And somehow, four years after being married, and add to that three years of living in Mumbai where I took turns cooking with my flat-mates, I don’t run out of ideas of what to cook. In these four years, would not have asked him more than twice or thrice to help me decide what to cook. The question that was asked by my mom, I see the same question being asked by girls of my generation too. And I’ve seen their significant others not particularly being interested in answering this!
I’d attribute several reasons for this. An over dose of watching Food Network! I still have not gotten tired of watching Giada and Rachel Ray and Paula Deen! Another reason is reading some really wonderful food blogs by some amazing Indian women/ moms/ cooks. They try out authentic Indian recipes, some recipes that have been passed on from one generation to the other, they’d try authentic recipes from other countries like Italian or Mexican or Mediterranean cooking. I have really liked some of their fusion recipes and the way they use some vegetables, etc. Must say the photographs on the blogs of these women are the reason I am tempted to try them. Even if you simply Google ‘Indian food blogs’ or something to that effect, you’ll get an entire list of some really nice websites.
The third and one of the most important reasons is that I’ve somehow always been around some really good cooks. To start with – I would love seeing the way my nani (mom’s mom) cooked. And the patience she had to be in the kitchen and churn out amazing food so effortlessly. Just remembering the way she cooked, and what she made sometimes gives me ideas for dinner. And then was my mom, who still makes such amazing food. After coming to the United States, I saw my friends in Connecticut cook some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. I’ve already written a blog about them. Scroll down to read about them. Anand even ate eggplant when one of them made baingan bharta (cooked/slightly smoked eggplant, mashed and cooked with onions, garlic and other Indian spices)! Their cooking techniques, flavorful food and our weekend get-togethers were things to cherish! Even in Columbus, R, a friend and a colleague is a great cook and makes delectable food.
Oh, and yes, I am able to experiment on my cooking because A is one of the best guinea pigs I could ever have! By now you’d have guessed how much I enjoy cooking, and knowing more about recipes. :-)
So the next time you run out of ideas as to what to cook, try implementing one of these ideas. Who knows, along with some wonderful food, you’d enjoy a trip down memory lane that you can share with your children, parents, better half! Trust me, with these things, you’d find yourself asking the ‘What’s for dinner tonight’ question fewer times than before.

Is Gangtok the Capital of Sikkim? Is Itanagar a capital city or not? What about Dispur?

The title of this blog does give an idea of what this blog is going to be about. Will start with telling how this discussion started and evolved over time. A and I were returning home from a party about two years ago and he was telling me that someone from his family had lived in Itanagar several years ago. All I knew was Itanagar was in the eastern part of India and was a capital city. But was not willing to admit to him that my knowledge ended there. And thus started a quizzing session. I didn’t go too far before A knew that I was ignorant of the capital cities of India. I knew most of them, but the capitals from eastern India got me really confused. And what surprised me or probably didn’t was that he knew all of them!
I was willing to bet that most people would be like me, who wouldn’t know their capital cities too well. It started first with our close circle of friends in Connecticut. Of the 7-8 of them, none of them knew the capitals. Gradually, this mini-quizzing session started with several close friends, family, relatives, colleagues, etc. I don’t think I have met more than two people who know all capital cities of India. It definitely doesn’t look good on us when we don’t know the capital cities of our own country.
Recently, A’s school friend put a statement on Facebook of a survey done by Hindustan Times. That the children of International schools in India didn’t know the capital cities as compared to children from state board schools. (For those who are not aware, for a very long time, India had three types of schools. State board schools where the state government controlled the syllabus of all schools. There were CBSE schools that had a centrally or federally controlled syllabus. And then there were ICSE schools). Who was at fault for this? The education system? Children’s inclination to remember? Too difficult to remember? Is India not that open to tourism?
The point I am trying to make here is that it is not just children who do not know capital cities. I feel like adults like us, whether you studied in India or any other nation, should have basic knowledge like this. Ask yourself. Are you aware of all capital cities of the country you studied in? Maybe both children and adults should know the capital cities of states. What do you think?
Here are capitals of some states.

Arunachal Pradesh – Itanagar
Assam – Dispur
Sikkim – Gangtok
Tripura – Agartala
Orissa – Bhubaneshwar
Nagaland – Kohima
Mizoram – Aizawl
Manipur – Imphal

Did I take you back to 5th grade?