This was a good weekend past

I met Kosh after 3 years, though the last time when the two of us bonded like we did last weekend was more than 15 years ago. I love where he lives. He lives in a flour-mill-converted-to-apartments place. It is as downtown as you can get to Bangalore, with an Indian Army encampment across the street, and a plethora of kebab joints that attract all of Bangalore’s nightlife because they stay open till the wee hours of the morning. His place has a little garden within its walls, with high trees and bushes to keep out the city [Not the city noise, that will invade every fiber of your being].

This is what it used to look like before:

Source: http://bit.ly/1cXfnyL
Source: http://bit.ly/1cXfnyL

 

 

This is what it looks like now:

Source: http://bit.ly/1cXfnyL
Source: http://bit.ly/1cXfnyL
Source: http://bit.ly/nkdipt
Source: http://bit.ly/nkdipt
Source: http://bit.ly/nkdipt
Source: http://bit.ly/nkdipt

I’ll add my own photos when I’m there next. This place is an oasis!

I went over to his house on Friday and we sat around a 12-year-old single malt, shooting the breeze, reliving old memories, talking about the present and the future. Doesn’t it feel great when you reconnect with an old friend and you carry on as if it were 20 years ago. I can do that with very few people in this world, and I can also safely say that they are the majority of this blog’s readership. Thank you.

I intend to get more active. During my school days, I was a natural athlete. I excelled at the sprint races [slightly slower than Bolt, but I always ran barefoot and I believe i could have saved a few 1/10 seconds off my time if I used proper equipment]. My 11th grade 100 m timing was 11.1 seconds, and I thought that I could have gone faster with shoes. I was also a natural basketball player. Once I discovered the NBA, Earl Boykins was a hero for making it in the NBA while short. 🙂 Ping pong [a.k.a table tennis] and tennis [a.k.a tennis] were my other main activities. I now wonder, at what stage of life did I lose interest in pursuing these fun activities? oh I know, medical school! As medical school, and later grad school and jobs, took over my life, I let my athletic skills die out. Even today, if I practice for a bit, I can give any good basketball or tennis player a run for his/her money [Here’s looking to you, Pat! I still have the recording of our 3-hour marathon ping-pong session. I’m putting it up as soon as I’m done editing it to look like I was winning].

On being active – I hate going to the gym, cycling, jogging and the like. In my 1 year contract with the Boston Sports Club, I believe I used the gym a total of 5 times. In retrospect, I paid a hefty sum [~$600] to realize that I am not gym-active. In my discovery phase over the past year, it has hit home that I am genetically un-inclined to use a gym or go jogging. But there is one activity that makes me want to go out and get active: Yoga. I found a yoga studio nearby [in Koramangala]. This week will be a trial run to see I can mesh with the instructors. I’m picky that way. I have had many instructors, but Jean Stawarz is the only one who has inspired me to keep practicing. If you are ever in the Jamaica Plain or Roslindale area, find out when Jean holds classes and drop everything to get to it. At some point during my journeys, I hope to spend a week or so at the Iyengar Yoga ashram in Pune. And, i’m going to cycle over to my class. That should be fun!

As Suman and Kosh told me over this weekend [as was Lisa, during our therapy sessions], I’ve to work with what I have [I will not “shake what my mama gave me”, for the sake of world peace]. The posts will hopefully get more positive to show my changing outlook, and there will be far fewer rants [I have one in the tank about being denied a visa by the Embassy of Spain even though I am an invited speaker at the International Conference on Nutrition, because I am not a “resident” of India, by their reckoning; I may, however, let this rant slip through the cracks.].

So, Peace out!

This song from Pitch Perfect has been an earworm all weekend [Yes, I bought the soundtrack]. I am discovering a newfound love for a capella even though I resisted all efforts by Lex to enjoy it [and The Voice] when I was in the Land where A capella is King.

[The Breakfast Club, Don’t you forget about me, and Bee Gees’ Massachusetts – a theme here?]

Also this:

And this:

and to cap it all, this classic:

Curry Pizza Adventures in Kolkata

This post is dedicated to Chi and Neel, who started me on the journey to the delicious kingdom of Curry Pizza.
What is curry pizza, you may ask? It all started with an innocuous dinner invitation. Chi and Neel have had me over for dinner at their house on numerous occasions; on one of those pre-dinner planning/ invitations, we had a to and fro about the choice of cuisine. Chi suggested anything but chicken curry, our default dish. Neel suggested pizza. And I suggested, somewhat in jest, “how about curry pizza?” The Legend was born! We made delicious chicken curry pizza that night, and repeated the feat a few days later. We also made pizza with traditional toppings but the curry pizza was the star of the show.

Side note:I learnt to toss pizza dough from a Youtube video. Its dough-stretching effects are wonderful; better than holding one part of the edge/circumfrence at a time and letting gravity do its job.

When I landed in Kolkata, I raved about the delicious curry pizza with Chi and Neal, and my pizza tossing skills. Noah and Evangeline decided that the time for words was at an end, and we needed action. The date for Curry Pizza night was set, and to make things a bit more challenging, it was night when they were hosting their friend Mindy for dinner. And it was to be a vegetarian curry pizza. No pressure!

The recipe for the dough we used is here. We made the dough in the morning, assuming the the hot and humid weather would give the yeast a boost to rise by the evening [instead of 24 hours as suggested by the recipe].

[Note from Chi on the pizza dough: “I usually use half of the quantities listed on this recipe and divide into 5-6 balls for personal size pizza. The last time we made pizzas at Monique’s house, I used a stand mixer to knead the dough for 10 minutes. Then let it rise for 10 hours (morning to evening). Normally, I just mix the dough as instructed and leave it overnight for 24 hours. The dough needs to proof 2 times. Once for a long time and the second for 1 hour after divided into individual balls.”]

It rained that day in Kolkata, and the temperature hovered around a humid 70 degrees F. I was worried that we may have underestimated the time needed for the dough to rise. We squeezed every last minute of the time we had allotted for the rising. It turned out fine.

The ingredients were bought from Spencers (we, *ahem* Noah, found the mozarella hidden in the frozen section with sundry other items as opposed to, say, the cheese section where the “pizza cheese” [which is apparently a mix of mozarella and cheddar] was kept.

We decided the curry was going to be a panner butter masala [without the butter; and panner is a kind of indian cheese] and I set about making it while sous chef Noah got busy with slicing the vegetable toppings [if you must know, it was onion, capsicum aka sweet bell peppers, mushrooms, garlic, and basil] and also cleaning every bowl, cup, pan that needed to be washed.

By the time the curry was done, and the vegetables were chopped, the dough had risen enough for me to separate them into individual portions, each of which would become one personal pizza. This is what they looked like when separated:

By the time we remembered to take photographs, we were down 2 personal pizzas
By the time we remembered to take photographs, we were down 2 personal pizzas
This is a shot of the assembly line:

Toyota Production Systems, eat your heart out [iterally and figuratively]
Toyota Production Systems, eat your heart out [iterally and figuratively]
You can see the first two personal pizzas all laid out, waiting for the oven to get to 500 deg F. Boy, it was hot in the kitchen.

I rolled out the ball of dough and then I did my tossing thing. We did take a video of the tossing and I’ll post it when I have it. Suffice to say, it was good enough that the pizza did not touch either the ceiling or the floor. Nor did it tear apart in my hands. In the words of Farmer Hoggett: “That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.”

A shot of the curry pizza, all loaded up with the paneer and mozarella. We used corn flour on the baking sheet before placing the tossed pizza on it [we planned on using corn meal but didn’t have it on hand]; we also brushed olive oil on the pizza base before loading it up with toppings

Waiting to get baked!
Waiting to get baked!
Unfortunately, from a story-telling perspective, the pizza was so yummy that we couldn’t wait long enough to get an after-baking shot [yeah, that happened with the second curry pizza too]

The third pizza was loaded with the traditional toppings:

It was tasty too!
It was tasty too!
We waited on this so here is an “after” shot to compare with the “before” shot:

Baked is always better
Baked is always better
This is me, holding my traditional pizza creation:

And Noah in the background
And Noah in the background
Do we look content? The curry pizzas went down the hatch quickly

Happy because we are feeding *cough* eating
Happy because we are feeding *cough* eating
All photo credits: Evangeline Ambat-Levinson

Evangeline calls these “Chi Curry Pizzas”. Let’s make it ChiNeel Curry Pizzas. If you see this signature item featured in your neighbourhood curry pizza chain , you saw it here first.


Another side note: If you have thought of a million ways to pun with my liberal use of “baked”, “tossed”, “on hand”, etc, [I know I have!] please do so in the comments