Friday, 9 March 2012

Keeping it Simple

Every day on my way to work and back, I am surrounded by office going women in my train compartment. Some already have a thick layer of make-up layered onto their faces. Behind the artificial shine (which is actually meant to be a healthy glow), I can imagine the many layers of foundation and blusher that they would have patted on in quick and impatient strokes in the morning. There are also the stragglers who haven't quite managed to find the time in the morning rush to do the layering. They make up (oh yes, pun intended) for lost time in the crowded compartment as they stare fixatedly into their little hand mirrors and pat on the lipstick, mascara and what have you with a vengeance whilst jostling with fellow passengers.

I have nothing against make-up. But a little goes a long way I think. I am sure my thinking has something to do with my background and upbringing. When I was little, I rarely saw my mother use make-up. In fact, she hardly owned any. Her make-up consisted of moisturizer and lipstick, which she'd dab on hurriedly before self-consciously dabbing some off with tissue, lest it seem that she had overdone the lipstick!

There is, I think, something to be said about keeping things simple. That applies not just to make-up, but also, in my limited experience, to life and also food.

There are the ominous rumblings of a gigantic new M&A transaction at work, which is likely to consume my days once it kicks off. That prompted me to ensure that I make the most of my current quiet phase at work. So today, when I had the chance to escape work before six (I can assure you that it is a rare chance in the life of a lawyer), I took it with both hands and scooted from the office on my two little feet. And so I was home remarkably early today. I was also remarkably hungry. I stuffed my face with an entire pack of strawberries and also a handful of doritos, but clearly I was craving something a little more substantial than that. So I decided to make myself a quick meal: a dal and a side. It didn't take very long to put together, certainly no more than 45 minutes. So, within the hour, I sat down with a steaming meal of dal, a spinach side dish with some thick set yoghurt to go with it and a little pickle on the side. I haven't had a more satisfying meal in a long time. And this in a week where I have sampled everything from a high society grilled salmon with greens and pork vindaloo in the office canteen.


Here are the recipes:

Spinach and garlic stir fry

1 cup chopped spinach (I used frozen)
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 medium onion finely chopped
1/2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
1 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp olive oil (or more, as per taste)

Heat the oil and add in the garlic, red chilli powder and chopped onions. Once the onions have turned golden brown, add the chopped spinach and cook till the spinach has cooked through and most of the moisture has evaporated - else, you will end up with a really goopy and slimey mass. Once you are happy with the consistency of the dish, switch off the flame, add in the olive oil, which adds a lovely flavour to this dish.

I didn't actually note down the measurements as I was getting the dal together, but in a nutshell, all it took was boiled dal and a tempering, which is where all the flavour comes from. For the tempering, I used a generous measure of cumin seeds, some red chilli and turmeric powder, a pinch of asafoetida, and around 6 cloves of garlic (crushed) and 1/2 small onion finely chopped. The tempering is done once the onions are golden brown. Once you have added enough water and salt to the boiled dal to make sure it is as soupy and salty as you want it to be, let it simmer gently for a couple of minutes and then add in the tempering. That's it - done. Not much make-up, but delicious nonethless.

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