Lamb Chops Masala – Without a drop of oil!

I am battling with three issues : 1. Weight management  2. Withdrawal symptoms from quitting cigarettes and 3. Stress. To manage stress I usually cook. But this stress management method sometimes plays havoc with issues 1 and 2. Particularly when issue 2 plays havoc with issue 1. This is a recipe that partially dealt with all the issues.This is a recipe I adapted from two recipes that I read and tried with varying degrees of success. Most importantly, this is a healthy recipe that was a major hit with my guests! The recipe is simple, hassle free and very importantly has no added oil!

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Ingredients

24-25 Lamp Chops, cleaned
4 Medium Onions, chopped
4 Medium Tomatoes, chopped
1-1/2 cup Yoghurt
3 tbsp Garlic Paste
4 tbsp Ginger Paste
2 tsp Red Chili Powder
4 tsp Coriander Powder (Dhania powder)
4 tsp Cumin Powder (Jeera powder)
2 tsp Garam Masala Powder
Salt, to taste

For the garnish

Ginger juliennes
Lemon juice
Chopped Coriander (optional)
Garam Masala Powder

Procedure

  1. Clean and dry the lamp chops
  2. In a pan mix the lamb chops with all the ingredients except cumin powder, garam masala powder and the garnish.
  3. Place the pan on the gas and cook on high flame until the mixture comes to a boil.
  4. Cover and simmer until the lamb chops are half cooked. Add cumin powder and garam masala powder. Mix.
  5. Continue to simmer until the gravy thickens, envelopes the lamb chops. Cook until the lamb chops are fully cooked.
  6. Garnish with ginger juliennes and chopped coriander. Sprinkle lemon juice.

Serve hot with rotis/phoolkas/parathas or simply devour as a stand alone protein fest – without the guilt!

A Time for Audacity

I saw the honest, deceptively simple and thoroughly engaging Kaipoche last week. The film has apparently opened well at the box-office. It’s producers UTV seem to have backed a film without stars and without ‘safe’ ingredients to the hilt. Kaipoche is a triumph of conviction and a celebration of audacity. I believe this is the time. A time for the mavericks to shine. A time for the mad to blossom. A time for the honest to express. A time for the artist to create. A time for the fearless. A time for audacity.

kaipoche

4 reasons for me not watching (or not being able to watch) the increasing number of films released every week –

  1. I am perennially broke
  2. I am lazy
  3. I need to work
  4. My wife is not in the mood
  5. I am hoping I get invited for a preview/premier.

The past few weeks have been different though. The spate of films released and due for release stared at me in the face because

  1. They featured friends in lead roles
  2. They were directed by friends
  3. They were produced by friends
  4. I was looking forward to the films
  5. I felt compelled to watch them

I am going to limit my post to the Hindi films I saw because in the case of foreign films:

  1. I feel inadequate commenting about commenting on them
  2. I did not feel like watching many of them
  3. I am waiting for uncensored DVDs of some of them
  4. I don’t get invited for previews of these films

In the past few years, most significantly 2012, I am seeing a pattern in films that are successful (relatively) and appreciated. A majority of them stand out for their choice of actors, their choice of subject, their non-formulaic narratives and a host of other similarly intellectually stimulating reasons. One factor that has begun to increasingly stand out in these films is sheer audacity. The more I think about what drew me to watch the films, to like some of them, to dislike some of them and to find some of them memorable was the lack of apologetic film-making that has mostly led our films towards pathetic levels of mediocrity.

I’ve noticed that many film-makers no longer feel pressured to make the same formulaic nonsense with the same boring people over and over again. Many of the older directors also seem to realize the futility of formula and are trying hard to reinvent. Those who aren’t will soon be history.

Ever since I made Shahid I’ve been asked over and over again about how the trend of biopics is on the increase. The media unfortunately reads trends very poorly and looks for convenient analysis. Trade pundits who have in the past thrived upon silly generalization are very shallow in their understanding of artistic/creative decisions taken by film-makers or in analyzing the success of films that don’t fall into their formulaic comfort zones. The truth is that book adaptations, biopics and stories inspired by true events are an indicator and not trends in themselves. We now have film-makers looking for newer stories to tell. We have film-makers looking for new ways to tell stories. We have film-makers who are fearless. We have film-makers who are not afraid of audacity.

Whether it is Talaash, Gangs of Wasseypur, Ek Main aur Ek Tu, Vicky Donor, Special 26 or Kaipoche I notice a fearless streak in the directors and the team that has made these films possible. Even potboilers like Dabbang or before that Wanted or the recently released ABCD have displayed a certain audacious vision. Rockstar had the audacity to be deeply philosophical and sometimes meandering while pretending to have commercial trappings. A certain Anurag Kashyap whose films either got banned or termed as jinxed is now celebrated because of his delightfully indulgent Gangs of Wasseypur or his subversive take on Devdas. Sujoy Ghosh redeemed himself with the surprising Kahaani. Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Pan Singh Tomar was commercially successful. English Vinglish marked the successful return of a Bollywood diva who churned out some of the most cringe-worthy films of my growing up years. Tanu weds Manu with it’s unconventional cast, relaxed pace and fresh music created a new benchmark for the romantic genre. The list could be exhaustive and I’m sure it will soon dominate successful box-office lists. On the other hand there has been a steady increase in films (Ship of Theseus, Miss Lovely, Peddlers etc.) that have found appreciative audiences in international film festivals and critics. These films have shown a fierce independence in their making while giving alternate Indian cinema a new lease of life and an unpretentious, fresh form of expression. They have been audacious in their abandonment of what we perceived as ‘art-house’ or ‘parallel’ cinema in India. They were unabashed in their treatment, style, narratives and expression. These and many other films that I have viewed over the past year and this year have challenged audiences, provoked critics and subverted formulaic convention with amazing audacity. Even more encouraging is the fact that producers, actors (including some stars) and trade have begun to embrace the audacious breed, backing them to the hilt.

So what is the point I’m trying to make? It’s simple. Audacity is in. Safe is not safe anymore. Take the second installment of Dabbang. It disappointed because it succumbed to ‘ingredientization’ and failed to live up to the fearless audacity of the first part. Films like ‘Zilla Ghaziabad’ or ‘Jayantabhai Ki Love Story’ are passé. They will continue to get made. They will continue to remind us of everything that is unimaginative and about how we have allowed ourselves to be taken for granted all these years.

So here is my two bit gyaan. Whether you aim for the mainstream or the alternate space, make it audacious. Just making it big will soon cease to work – neither for the makers or the audience. Yes we will have regular installments of successful franchises. We will have ridiculous remakes. We will have mindless, storyless films – but my guess is that all of them will work for their audacity and not for their adherence to convention.

Audacious will soon be safe. Safe is already dangerous. It could soon be suicidal.

Rape and Outrage

One more rape. And yet more outrage. Newsreaders screaming louder and louder. Social media reeking of anger. Newspapers filling up space. Houses of Parliament spewing rhetoric. The noise, the din, the unbearable torture of a nation that is clueless, helpless and directionless. Yet again. The carnage continues. A nation is caught reeling under one more heinous act. One more brutal display of inequality rears its ugly face upon us.

Rape is despicable. Yes. Rape deserves severe punishment. Yes. But do we need more rallies? Do we need more rhetoric? What about long-term solutions? What about trying to identify the root cause of these atrocities? What about trying to eradicate these?

How about bringing up our boys better? How about teaching them that being macho means being cultured and treating women equally? How about sensitizing men and mobilizing them to ensure gender equality?  How about doing away with regressive traditions, cultural norms and rituals that are blatantly discriminatory to women? How long will we keep a ‘giving’ attitude towards women?

I despair because of the gravity of the crime. But I despair more because of the way our nation reacts. Every cruel action has a jerky response. We ask for the death penalty or something even more severe for the perpetrators. Has severe punishment ever deterred a criminal mind?

We hold rallies, candlelight vigils, hold bombastic placards and strut through the streets in ethnic outfits asking for change. And we resume our lives soon after. Until the next crime.

We are an impatient nation on the lookout for overnight solutions. Result : Nothing is solved. The problems persist. Gender bias, inequality, human rights violations, corruption, discrimination, segregation, cruelty, violence continue to be rampant as we await the rise of messiah after messiah – only to be thoroughly disappointed.

Long-term solutions, positive change can only be possible when we as citizens put our faith, time, resources and energy in initiatives for systemic change.  Solutions are possible only if we change. Eradication of societal evils will happen when we recognize and eradicate our own inner demons, when we become the change.

We expect Narendra Modi to usher in an era of progress while feigning amnesia over his atrocious human rights record. We look upon Rahul Gandhi as a vehicle of change because of his impressive genealogy and cute demeanor. We look for others to bring about transformation while we continue our apathy towards ourselves, our people, our surroundings and our conditions. We will continue tolerating red tape. We will find illegal short-cuts for short-term gains. We will let fascists reign in the name of democracy. We will let our women get raped. We will continue to vote for gangsters. We will continue to follow illogical rituals hoping for instant karmic rewards. We will allow our fundamental rights to be violated. We will suffer in stunned, scared silence. We will fast. We will rally. We will strike. But we will not change.

Sorry, but we have been raped for many generations. And we will continue getting raped for many.  Rape is inevitable as we continue to exist in contempt, disrespect and lethargy.

Until the next rape.

The Stink Operation

I was in a meeting with two friends this evening. We were talking about getting another friend’s film made and about how there was a businessman who wished to invest in the film. We had no idea about the business of this businessman. We had no idea about whether we would get money or not. All we wanted was to get the film made.

As we spoke I got a call from my father. He told me there was some sting operation on CNN-IBN exposing black money in bollywood. That conversation with my dad had me intrigued enough to trudge back home with the ‘noble’ intention of deriving some vicarious, voyeuristic pleasure from this sting operation.

I normally sleep by 10.30. I stayed up to watch the drama unfold. I wish I’d watched Bol Bachchan instead.

I was expecting a potboiler spiced with titillation, drama and some comedy. Instead, I was subjected to a cheap tragedy. Here was a stink operation that looked for an unidentified, unbearable stench in lowly gutters of the neighboring slums without bothering to flush its own toilet.

An aspiring movie mogul, a director on the decline, a producer who was once big, a producer who wants to be big, two starlets and a faceless voice that did most of the talking. Correction. A faceless voice that put words into their mouths. The ‘sting’ exposed desperation of people either on the decline or people on the periphery of an imaginary land with an unfortunate name – bollywood. This was not an expose on black money or the dark underbelly of bollywood. Once again our news channels bereft of ideas and anchored by brain-dead loudmouths subjected us to a shoddy operation without investigation, research or basic understanding.  It is disturbing that an opportunity to expose those who exploit this desperation for money (black or white or any color/currency/form) has been totally wasted.

A system has been in ruin with tainted money from politicians, brokers, gangsters, betting rackets being laundered in films (also perhaps in property, but that is another story).  The film industry in particular has always been an exploitative place. Stars have exploited producers. Producers have exploited workers. Financiers have exploited producers. Distributors have exploited producers. Producers have exploited directors. Directors have exploited writers. The list is endless. The web is complex. Corporatization of the industry is simply the introduction of management jargon to justify traditionally exploitative practices. Here is an ecosystem in total ruin. Lack of transparency, mistrust and manipulation form the core values of the film business. Lies are freely traded. Nepotism thrives. Sycophancy flourishes. This is a safe haven for a larger system that creates unimaginable sums of ill gotten wealth. This larger system will continue to flourish while our government will continue floundering, while our fourth estate will continue regressing, while our desperation will continue increasing.

I have a lot to rant on this but I will stop. But this much I will say… Hamaam mein sab nange hain

Friends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anger. Disappointment. Desperation. Envy. Pride. Resentment. Joy. Melancholy. Love. Hate.

Friends. All of them.

Available. Ever present.  They crowd. An abyss. Called the mind.

They occupy. A meaningless chasm. Called life.

Their party. Never ends.

The chaos. The noise. The deafening silence. Never leaves.

They envelope. My existence.

Like. A band. Of hooligans. That I can. Neither ignore. Nor tolerate.

Without them. I am nothing. With them. I am nothing.

Spaghetti Bolognese – My Version!

This is my version of the popular sauce (ragu alla Bolognese) that originated from Bolgna, Italy. Traditionally this is made with beef mince but my version uses lamb mince. The recipe is a variation of many recipes that I have tried earlier and it incorporates the best of both worlds – knowledge derived from expert chefs and my own unique ‘genius’!

Without further ado I present my version of a dish that is easy, delicious and a great prelude to a romantic night.

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

500gms Lamb mince

2 Medium Onions, finely chopped

6 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped

1 Glass of Red Wine (any decent, cheap red will do)

2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar (optional)

½ tsp Dried Rosemary

¼ tsp Dried Thyme

1 tsp Dried Oregano

3-4 Fresh Basil leaves (optional)

8-10 Medium Tomatoes

2 Green tomatoes, chopped (optional)

Salt to taste Parmesan / Cheddar Cheese

Half a packet of spaghetti

2-3 tbsp Olive Oil

Procedure

  1. Boil water (approx 500 ml) and throw in the tomatoes. Let them boil until the skins begin to peel off. Remove the tomatoes from the water. De-skin the tomatoes and blend into a thick puree.
  2. Heat oil in a pan. Throw in the dried rosemary and thyme. Fry for around 1 minute or until slightly brown (do not burn)
  3. Add the chopped onions and garlic. Fry until they turn soft.
  4. Add the mince. Fry for another 4-5 minutes until it just changes color.
  5. Add the wine and balsamic vinegar. Cook on high flame until the gravy is reduced to nearly half.
  6. Add the tomato puree and chopped green tomatoes. Season with salt. Bring to a boil.
  7. Cover and let the sauce simmer for approximately 30-40 minutes or until the mince is cooked. This is your bolognese sauce – simmering gently waiting to be done and gently put over steaming spaghetti!
  8. Boil some more water in another pan. Add a teaspoon of olive oil and some salt to this. Cook the spaghetti in the boiling water as per the instructions on the pack.
  9. When the spaghetti is done, drain and keep aside. (Ensure that you do not make the spaghetti too early as it will dry up really fast)
  10. Tear the basil leaves and mix them into the bolgnese sauce.
  11. Make a bed of spaghetti on the serving plate. Put a generous amount of the bolgnese sauce on this.
  12. Generously sprinkle grated parmesan or cheddar cheese. Enjoy the meal!

I was so delighted with my recipe that I had my son make it the following night. It was successful. I polished off two glasses of good Indian wine in celebration of this wonderful dish. Dim the lights, serve this to your beloved in a nice white plate, with a glass of wine, soft candle-light and even softer music. A fresh salad on the side will be great but not essential.

How to Succeed without Success: Surviving in ‘Bro-World’

Disclaimer : Today was a dreadfully boring day in office. My utter boredom has led to this utterly useless and ridiculously indulgent outpouring of wisdom. Read it at your own risk.

Here is my randomly ordered list of 12 survival strategies in the world that so many of us inhabit, dream to inhabit, grudgingly observe or admiringly follow. Gentlemen (sorry ladies, nothing in this for you) here is my valued guidance – with malice towards none!

 

1. Remember! The world is male-centric

This is a guy dominated world. The opposite sex is purely an object of gossip, a target of lust and a recipient of false chivalry. Films succeed because of heroes. Films sell on the strength of the leading man. The leading man chooses. The leading man disposes. Obviously, I will restrict my ‘analysis’ to the dominant sex.

2. Never take sides

Things change. Nothing is permanent. In an act of bravado if you do take sides, do it in a way that you can conveniently deny, alter or contradict your stand.

3. Brother is the operative word

This is the ultimate expression of male bonding in B-town. Every contemporary, every rival, every threat, every drinking partner is your brother. Every question on every other male has the standard answer ‘He is like a brother to me’.

4. Without a camp you are nobody

Always park yourself in a camp. Play loyalist to the hilt until you get a chance to swear loyalty without having to pay a price for shifting loyalties. Camps have regular jesters, some tabloid editor/journalist for company, many desperate/aspiring filmmakers, personal attendants, business managers/star secretaries, compulsory attendance at all dos, forced laughter at all repetitive inside jokes, the same conversation over and over again. The camp has a leader who unfortunately foots the bill most of the time and in return gets the same spellbound audience for the same riveting speech or recounting of ‘that’ life-changing experience every single drunken night.

5. If you screw up, you are screwed

It’s a lonely world out there – particularly when you screw up. And if your screw-up is splashed across the screw-up-hungry tabloids only God can help you. Your camp will disown you. They begin to ignore your calls. Your brother remains your brother only for a persistent journalist who needs to stop his awkward questions. But take heart. Like everything else this is also temporary. Things change. Suddenly someone else screws up. You and your screw-up will be forgotten.

6. Criticism is NEVER welcome

If you are privileged enough to be invited for a sneak peek, preview or ‘trial’ of your buddy’s (brother’s) film be nice to him. Be lavish in your praise. You have been invited to find something praiseworthy and to dwell only on that. Criticize and you will perish. If there is nothing praiseworthy a nice, long, big hug will suffice.

7. Cultivate common hobbies

Outside drinking hours you must have common passions. Gym buddies, fellow bikers, car lovers, home theatre experts, gizmo freaks are frighteningly attractive and make great brothers. Did anybody mention cinema buff? That is an utterly ambiguous, uselessly exclusive and dastardly boring hobby. After all people (brothers) who are united by their love for cinema need to have a life beyond cinema.

8. Have a great DVD/Blu-Ray collection

You must possess the ability to spot plagiarism in work not featuring your brother, to smartly plagiarize for work featuring your brother, to unabashedly compare your brother to Cruise/Caprio/Pitt. Do not waste time watching anything seminal, cerebral or intellectually challenging; these are great decorative pieces for exquisite DVD shelves. Remember to continuously refresh yourself with an in-depth understanding of some popular Brando/Pacino/DeNiro films. These are often discussed at length; they are important reference points for some of the challenging work undertaken by your camp leader. American TV series are in. A thorough study of these masterpieces are an indicator of your passion for the unusual.

9. Reading is very important

Of course you visit the Jaipur Literary Festival every year. You brave the cold as you carelessly put on your casually purchased ethnic outfits. Always memorize the names of writers that have the largest audience. If you manage to remember the names of their books it is an indicator of your vast intellect. Besides the 4 days spent in Jaipur cultivate the daily reading habit. Recommended reading :

  1. Mumbai Mirror
  2. Mid-Day
  3. Bombay Times
  4. Twitter
  5. Shobha De

Your knowledge of these constantly updated reservoirs of vital information will determine your wisdom, awareness, standing, intelligence and capability.

10. Get Invited

It is crucial that you attend every event, every party, every ceremony, every celebration and that you are armed with a decent camera on your cell phone. Get yourself clicked. Inflict these pictures on your growing followers around the social media world. Use your superior memory to remember jokes, jibes and one-liners that you get exclusively on your messenger/messaging service. Always look like you are having a blast. Every picture must display your wide smile (visit your dentist regularly to ensure that your smile is always attractive). It is also a great pleasure to interact with the same people all the time; often at the same place most of the time. Revel in that pleasure. Take back unique stories/incidents/anecdotes from your outing. Note them in a diary. Narrate them to all your brothers to create avenues for stimulating conversation on a daily basis.

11. Stories of your sexual exploits

Here is a test of your ability to conjure up tales of sin, sex and digression. It is also the best excuse for a night of absenteeism from the camp meet. Brothers always support your eternal search for carnal salvation. Talk about a starlet that you might have seen at some event or a boisterous conversation that you might have struck up with a random attractive woman at some ceremony. Tell them how you got lucky. Tell them how you scored. Tell them how she is a beast in bed. Tell them how kinky she is. There is nothing more engaging or engrossing as stories of forbidden sex. Give your brothers a ‘deep’ insight into your story telling skills.

12. Terms of endearment

  1. Bro is the most endearing term of endearment. It is personal, intimate and essential for insider conversations. Advice often begins with Bro. Admonishment is softened by a Bro somewhere appropriately placed in a sentence. Affection, good wishes, exclamations, proclamations, public displays of warmth and all other things inclusive are generously sprinkled with a Bro here and there.
  2. Baba, Bhai, Kaka, Dada, Da either as a suffix or by themselves irrespective of age
  3. Innovative versions of your pet-names (Tony becomes Tones, Lucky becomes Lucks, Lovie becomes Loves so on and so forth…)
  4. Even more innovative versions of your surnames (Gupta becomes Gups, Kapadia becomes Kaps so on and so forth…)
  5. Imaginative derivatives from your first name (Sanjay becomes Sanju, Akshay becomes Akki, Govinda become ChiChi, Salman becomes Sallu, Sharukh becomes Shah so on and so forth)
  6. Respectful prefixes such as Big, Junior, Badshah, King are effective means of reverence and brevity
  7. Sir and Saab are widely utilized in the quest to attain Bro status.

Sorry but I will have to truncate this list now. I have failed to relieve myself of the boredom I hoped to abandon by writing this nonsense. I will need to find another avenue, another unsuspecting audience, another cure for this disdain of the mundane. Maybe I need to find myself a new ‘Bro’.

Until then… Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna!