Well Done Abba is a delightful farcical comedy about corruption in India. Armaan Ali (Boman Irani) is a chauffeur in Mumbai who returns to his village near Hyderabad to get his daughter married. He planned to go back for a month, but ends up staying for three months. When he get to his village, he learns there is a water shortage. So he has the idea of building a well. (Hence the name of the movie, Well Done Abba, which I just put together now). (more…)
The sixties were such a defining period in American history, sometimes it’s easy to forget that it was a movement that happened worldwide. The hippie counterculture really peaked, as many in the Western world searched for a new kind of spirituality apart from or in addition to the Judeo-Christian constructs. Famously, one place people turned to for guidance was India. (more…)
About as long as I’ve known Puja, she’s shared with me stories of the Mahabharata and tried to explain Hinduism to me. Years ago, when we drove from California to Virginia, she passed much of the time telling me stories from the Mahabharata. These stories are deeply ingrained in her from her childhood. She always gets so excited about telling the various stories of gods and battles from the great epic. I’ve always struggled to follow along because the names are so foreign to my ears and many of the stories don’t fit the narratives I expect. (more…)
Perhaps to us Westerners, India is best known for it’s outlandish weddings full of bright colors, bright lights and many days of dancing, partying and celebrating. It should be no surprise that many of the best movies to come out of India have to do with these great parties.
There was a lone white cloud in the sky ahead of us. We watched it struggle against the heat of the sun, as it transformed from one shape to another. “A bird,” “An elephant,” “A frisbee,” Puja and I called out the shapes we saw as we watched it change. Each transformation threatened to obliterate the cloud. Death by evaporation. But somehow that little cluster of water particles stayed together, unwilling to give in. (more…)
One of my most eye-opening experiences after college was driving across the country. I’ve always been drawn to the beauty of nature and her landscapes, but the two thousand mile drive taught me something about what this California native had once taken for granted. It turns out, California does not have a monopoly on beauty. This became apparent within the first day. As Puja and I drove east, through the Mojave desert, across Arizona and into New Mexico where we stayed for the night. I had been to the desert many times in my life before, but I really saw it for the first time on that drive. Even while we were still in California, I was impressed by the vast open landscapes. (So vast and open that I almost got a speeding ticket before crossing the border in Arizona, somehow escaping with just a warning!) (more…)
Nearly two years ago, Puja and I started kicking around the idea for an Indian food and culture blog. We tossed back and forth ideas but they stayed off the page for a while. Finally I just sat down, set up some skeleton of a website that I barely remember. To really get it started, as our first post I put together a recipe for Chana Masala. I chose Chana Masala because it’s easy, it’s delicious and it’s the dish I’m always the one in our house to make. Can you believe we didn’t even take pictures for the post? (more…)
On a small boardwalk in San Diego, where locals run and tourists from nearby hotels stroll, sits a small but persistent piece of British Indian history. It is one of San Diego’s more underappreciated attractions, the Maritime Museum of San Diego. The Maritime Museum is comprised of a number of functioning ships, from the 1898 replica steamship Berkeley, to a decomissioned Russian submarine. But the real flagship, the one that got the museum started is this little piece of British-Indian history and is one of the oldest sailing ships left in the world, the Star of India. (more…)
The Bollywood system is quite powerful and moneyed, often relying on old formulas for the movies it produces for a pretty good guarantee of profit. However, in recent years there have been more and more attempts made to go beyond this, to present social messages in meaningful ways. Kai po che! makes a pretty heartfelt effort at doing this, without falling too deeply into melodrama. (more…)
The first year Puja and I lived together she asked me to make her Sticky Toffee Pudding for her birthday. What, I asked, is Sticky Toffee Pudding? She handed me a recipe and said this is what you are making.
I had done very little cooking or baking at this point in our relationship. But I went out and bought a bundt pan and all of the ingredients while she was at work. I believe I thoroughly trashed the kitchen, getting sticky caramel sauce and date splatters in various corners of the kitchen and stove. But the end result was amazing, and that’s what matters.
Every year since then, Puja has, let’s say requested, Sticky Toffee Pudding for her birthday. I’ve made some mistakes with it. One year I used Deglet dates and as a result I became a big champion of Medjool dates. Deglets just don’t compare in sweetness or depth of flavor. Another year I made the Sticky Toffee Pudding for a bonfire party and we didn’t have any way to warm the caramel sauce. That was disappointing. The warm caramel sauce soaking into the cake is what really makes it so delicious. (more…)
To me the perfect breakfast food is well-balanced but high on the protein side of things, and perhaps most importantly, quick and easy to make. Only on the rare weekend morning do I feel like putting in the work for anything complicated like an omelette before I’ve even had my morning coffee. There are so few foods that meet these restrictions. Eggs are wonderful but I get tired of them. Oatmeal is a little carb heavy and I don’t like it very much. Boxed cereals are pretty much all carbs, as are the great classics like pancakes, waffles, toast and bagels. (more…)