Saturday, April 26, 2008

Recipe time!

Today I made Orzo stuffed bell pepper for dinner. (Orzo is a kind of pasta and looks like rice).
This is a really simple dish. Saute some onions and whatever veggies you like in a little oil. I used bell pepper, onion, peas, mint leaves and carrots. Once the veggies are a little done, add raw orzo and salt and pepper and saute for a few minutes. Then add one and a half cup of water per cup of orzo and let it all boil until the orzo is cooked throughly.
Meanwhile, cut the peppers in half, remove the head and the seeds and brush the halves with oil. Spoon the orzo mixture into the halves, top them with half cherry tomatoes and bake at 300C for about 45 minutes or until the peppers are a little soft. Alternately, you can also saute the halves in a little oil.
Once done, spoon a lemon on each half and enjoy!

We enjoyed ours with some Maaza!

The bell pepper dish turned out quite well and one half was quite filling. I have made a stuffed pepper recipe with potato filling before. I imagine one could also use some simple rice dish as a filling(tomato rice, pulao etc). Makes a complete meal!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Stepford Wives

I watched the 1975 version of this movie last evening and was taken aback by it! I expected it to be a saucy women's tale, a la Desperate Housewives but this was something.
The story runs thus:
A family of 4 moves to Stepford, CT from New York city, to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The husband takes to the place right away, joining the weird men-only organization, and having a good time, whereas the wife starts to feel lonely and disconnected from the women of Stepford, who are the epitome of so-called femininity. They dress in white smock gowns, are always presentable what with makeup and all, and spend all their time baking, cooking, cleaning their houses and taking care of the children. The wife starts to talk to a few of them about forming a women's group that could meet and talk once in a while but finds few takers. She realizes there is something wrong, something amiss about the whole society, and starts to investigate. Meanwhile, the husband is busy attending the secret meetings of the creepy men's organization, and starts to call the men home whenever the wife isn't home. We are also shown that one of the men actually makes a lot of sketches of women, and yet another has a habit of recording women's voices for some 'research'. Cutting a long story short, finally, we learn that the men of the town have actually killed their 'real' wives, and replaced them with perfect robots that only look like the dead women. The robots now represent the perfect wives the men always wanted: beautiful, well dressed (rather matronly), submissive, calm, respectful (rather fawning), devoted to keeping the house sparkly and having a supreme love for all housework. The movie in a sense conveys the message that men want their wives to be like the Victorian woman - one who runs a respectable household, and secures the happiness, comfort and well-being of her family. The movie ends with showing the city-wife also being turned into a bot (called a Gynoid)!
For almost a day after I watched it, the feeling of disgust, anger and fear stayed with me. I kept asking my husband the same question - didn't the men need their better-halves to be cerebral? Didn't they want to have a meaningful conversation with their wives? Would you like a wife who keeps saying `yes' to whatever you say, rather than actually disagree sometimes, and talk about her point of view?
Maybe the depiction of the perfect woman was taken too far in the movie, but I can actually see some 'stepfordian' wives in real life. Possibly the best example of such a phenomenon would be the Bachchan 'bahu'! What a transformation the marriage has caused in the way she talks, dresses, and in general communicates with people! In fact, I feel like the Bachchan 'Khandaan' (huh) does that to its women. Strip them of all their individual talents and emotions, and make them `family bots' who keep saying they are proud to be running the household. Don't get me wrong, I am all for women not being stereotyped into feminists, non-feminists, family types etc, but I also am a BIG proponent of a woman continuing to have a passion for something in life, especially if she used to be one of the top actresses of her time (applies to both Aishwayra and Jaya). You CAN follow your passions AND run an effective household. And the men? The Bachchan men seem to be big chauvinists, killing every iota of creativity left in their women. Someone tell me what Jaya has been doing all this while? Did she really do all the housework in spite of having a bevy of servants at her beck and call? Why do they make women so submissive? How come Abhishek is imposed on us in spite of being a lousy looker, a mediocre actor, and an utterly lousy dancer, whereas we haven't ever heard Shweta speak?
I guess Stepford wives and the Bachchan household give us a clue as to what would happen when men rule the world! And that is why I would say: more power to women!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Barack Hussein Obama!

In the first week of January 2008, back when the democratic presidential nomination had barely started, I had a discussion with my colleague at work with whom I car-pooled. She wanted to know if I had any favorites among the presidential candiates and parties. I told her as a matter of fact that I would love to see Barack Obama nominated, and then elected as the President. I instantly felt that she was uncomfortable with my answer. When I asked her what she thinks, she immediately quipped, 'Anyone but Obama'. When I asked her why, her answer was simple, that he was a muslim. This was my first 'political' conversation with someone in the US and here I was confronted with what to say. I just smiled. But I realized one thing at that moment. If this person, a colleague of mine with a graduate degree from a prestegeous American University, someone who has access to the internet and all the fact checking resources believes against all evidence that Obama is a muslim, what about thousands of Americans who have no access to information but radio talk shows that are inundated with narrow conservatism? While its a personal matter to like or dislike or select or reject a candidate, to wrongly assume something without even bothering to use the tools available at ones disposal is being absolutely lazy, in my opinion.
Well, as time passed I forgot about this issue and continued to be interested in the democratic party political process keenly. But somewhere at the back of my mind was the thought about the various rumors doing the rounds, like Obama is a muslim and the like and how the Obama campaign was vehemently denying he was one and then he going on talking about this Christian faith etc. The question I am bothered by is, So what if he is a Muslim? Doesn't the US constitution say that there has to be religious tolerance in the country? Didn't the founding fathers say that US is NOT a religion-based country? Have Americans become Islamophobes? What are all the Islamic Americans thinking now? Are they sad that being a 'muslim' is a slur these days? Being from India, I am used to the radical views of other religious groups against Islam but I could never understand how being a Muslim could cause someone to be looked down upon, or be less qualified for something. Is it because the people who brought the WTC down on 9-11 were muslims? Does that mean we should hate Christians because of the crusades they waged against the other religions? Does that mean we can hate each other just because we were hurt by someone who happened to be of the same religion?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Special Ugadi recipes!

Its been such a long time since I last posted and my sis seems to have slipped into a comfortable hibernation, I thought I shall break this hiatus with a post on the new year. This Ugadi was good as we cooked a lot and ate a lot :D.

Maamidikaya Pulihora(my version)

2 cups rice(sona masuri)
1.5 cups grated raw mango(kairi)
1/2 cup peanuts
Popu/tadka ingredients(chana dal, oil, mustard seeds, jeera,curry leaves, slit green chilies)

Heat some oil and add all the popu ingredients. Toast for a minute.
Add the peanuts.

When the peanuts turn light brown, add the grated mango and heat for 1-2 minutes.

Cool the grated mango mixture and mix thoroughly with cooked rice.
Yummy pulihora is ready!


1/2 cup rice
1/2 cup chana dal
1/2 to 3/4 cup jaggery

1 spoon ghee
1-2 cups milk
chopped toasted cashews
1/2 cup grated fresh coconut

Mix the rice and dal and cook in milk until rice is cooked and the dal tender.

Add the jaggery slowly until its thoroughly melted and mixed.

Add ghee to this mixture and stir until the mixture thickens.
Finally add the cashews and the coconut and mix and enjoy!

We worked hard to make a traditional meal and enjoyed the heavy lunch!