A Lazy’s guide to cooking Khichdi

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About: I am no cooking pundit. I can’t cook well. In fact, while in a kitchen, I feel like a child lost in a Kumbh Mela. So, why this post then? Well, thats because you can’t go out to restaurants every night for dinner. Especially when there’s only one place for good food in your neighborhood and you don’t have a car. That pretty much explains why I HAVE to cook sometimes. Thanks to refrigerated ready to eat food, I don’t have much trouble. But sometimes, just sometimes, I feel that freshly cooked food tastes way better (of course, only if cooked by a good cook!) than microwaved ready-to-eat one.

Here is a quick way to prepare Khichdi. You can treat this as a Lazy person’s guide to cooking Khichdi sans all the usual troubles. Try this IF AND ONLY IF

  • you’re out of country AND
  • you absolutely don’t know cooking AND
  • you’re out of ready-to-eat microwaveable packets AND
  • you’re hungry (duh, so many ANDs)

In fact, I would be rather surprised if you even think of cooking this way, let alone following the recipe and cooking. Nevertheless, this recipe works really well for me. So, here you go. [I’m borrowing the style of recipe writing from Sudeshna]

Ingredients

Ingredients for Microwave Khichdi

Ingredients for Microwave Khichdi

  • Rice – 1 fistfull
  • Red Lentil (Masoor Daal, Musuri’r Daal) – 1 fistfull (well Clint Eastwood‘s Dollars trilogy seem to have taken a toll on my lingo )
  • Onion (Pyaz, Penyaaj) – half
  • Salt  (Namak, Nuun, Laubon) – as per your taste
  • Garam Masala Powder – half tea spoon. You can use Haldi (Turmeric powder, Holud) instead of this. I didn’t buy Haldi when I came to Austin and now I’m too lazy to visit an Indian Store to buy Haldi.
  • Carrot, Peas, Cauliflower – if you want, that is. I can never go this length but if you’ve tasted Khichdi earlier you’d agree that it sisn’t complete without this veggy trio.
  • Egg (Anda, Dim) – 2 (since you gotta have Omlette with Khichdi). You can skip this if you’re a vegetarian.
  • Mustard/Refined Oil – For frying onions and making Omlette

Preparation

  • Wash dirt off the Masoor daal
  • Cook for 5 min in Microwave (High)
  • Take it out and add salt to taste
  • Wash rice in a separate container and then add it to the Microwaved Masoor daal
  • Cook for 10 min in Microwave (High)
  • While the microwave is working, slices the half-onion into two type of pieces – biggest annular rings possible for Khichdi and miniscule pieces for omlette
  • Fry the onlion slices in oil on a frying pan. When they are dark brown, put them in the semi cooked rice + masoor daal mixture and stir.
  • Add some Garam Masala and stir
At 15 minutes

At 15 minutes

  • Cook for another 5 min in the Microwave (High)
  • Meanwhile, prepare your omlette.
  • When the Microwave beeps, take the bowl out and spread the Khichdi on a plate. Let it cool off for a few minutes and attack!
Khicdi Ready

Khichdi Ready

Well, if you’re serious about making Khichdi, try these resources:

Sudeshna’s BengaliCuisine, WikiHow, Anthony’s Kitchen, RecipeBazaar, QuickIndianCooking, IndianSnacks, Anubhavati, Aarti, Anupama, Sushma.

If you like this post, please consider linking to it or sharing it with others. I’ll love to hear your comments too.

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My Band Review surpasses band’s website in google search

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Google search continues to surprise me. Its not even 24 hours since I posted my experience with the live music of KatzenJammer, an all girls band from Norway. I listened to them twice during South by South West (SXSW) 2009 in Austin – at street side past midnight and at at ThreadGill’s during afternoon. And they were simply splendid. Read my post to know more. Today, when I searched for ‘KatzenJammer Norway’, my post got higher preference than the band’s own official website. I quickly took a snapshot, before it slips down. Here’s it:

 

Katzenjammer Norway Search results

Katzenjammer Norway Search results

Yahoo, though, rates my post at 12th position and their official website at 1st (and this is what you would normally expect).  Here’s a picture of their signature Balalaika with a smiley:

 

Contrabass Balalaika

Contrabass Balalaika

Please check out KatzenJammer’s videos on youtube, their Myspace profile where you can listen to the songs too, and their website.

SXSW 2009 surprise discovery – KatzenJammer girls

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When I learnt that I will have to shell out 470 USD to attend the fav keynote addresses and listen to some good music, I was literally heartbroken. And understandably so – after all it means almost 24000 Indian Rupees. Couple that with the bad weather in the first weekend of South by South West 2009 at Austin, I sincerely thought I’m in for a serial bad luck (I missed this year’s Mardi Gras despite being in Austin). Next weekend brought good news – luckily, there were plenty of avenues to find good music for ‘free freaks’ like me.

Having wandered through Austin Downtown streets in the last 2 days of SXSW Film and Music Festival, I could honestly say – KatzenJammer girls blew me away. They were the best of all the bands that were ‘free’ (Metallica wasn’t free). But, I actually just ‘bumped’ into them. On friday late night (well, technically it would be saturday), while wandering through the 3rd Street, we (Sankar and me) found four girls playing rather old school musical instruments. In the first song, all I could hear was ‘Oh yeah. All right‘. But the energy was infectious. A couple of songs more and we were hooked. After the little road side show, they said that they would be playing next afternoon at ThreadGill’s. Understandably, it was a must on our to do list for SXSW on Saturday.

KatzenJammer Girls at Threadgill's

KatzenJammer Girls at Threadgill's

Threadgill’s was packed as we entered. On a bright sunny day, people were sitting on chairs and on the grass -donning a cap, holding a beer can/glass/bottle in one hand and a camera on the other. I found a seat nevertheless and started doing what everybody else was doing – enjoying Norwegian Music.

The Audience

The Audience

The Norwegian girls played better than the ‘demo’ last night. And it was amplified by the sound system at the bar and made enjoyable by the high energy songs. An interesting thing was that the girls took turns on each instrument. With almost every song, they kept changing who’s playing what. The instrument with a smiley is called Contrabass Balalaika. The instrument on the extreme right is Accordion, and reminds me of the song from Amar Akbar Anthony [here’s the youtube video]. Something really funny struck me. In the movie song too, Vinod Khanna was playing 4 instruments too!

Katzenjammer - Players changed

Katzenjammer - Players changed

At the end of an hour long show, KatzenJammer did the crowd adieu. The audience gave the girls from Norway a high energy applause. They sure did deserved it. I enquired about a CD, but they haven’t had any with them. And that was a surprise indeed – this is a Music Festival for Christ’s sake!

High enegy applause for Norwegian girls

High enegy applause for the Norwegian girls

Please check out KatzenJammer’s videos on youtube, their Myspace profile where you can listen to the songs too, and their website. Trivia:  Interestingly, KatzenJammer is also a British Piano Musical Comedy duo.

If you like this post, please consider linking to it or sharing it with others. I’ll love to hear your comments too.

Rowing at Town Lake, Austin

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Town Lake (also called Lady Bird Lake) in Austin is one of the Top 10 rowing water bodies in US. I was lucky that my first rowing experience is in this Lake. Wait a second – is it rowing or canoeing? Well, frankly it doesn’t really matter to me and shouldn’t matter to you either if you’re an amateur. There’s a 10 miles long hiking and biking trail along the Lake as well and thus, is a perfect place to spend a couple of hours a week while you’re at Austin.

The boat/canoe rentals were on the other side of the Lake, so had to cross this bridge. Here’s its sepia look:

Bridge over Lake Austin

Bridge over Lake Austin

The mild vibrations while standing on the bridge reminded me of LakshmanJhula in Rishikesh, though the vibrations are ‘visible’ in the latter’s case. It was enjoyable, not terrifying. The cool breeze, mild sun overhead, the view of lake on either side of the bridge and the sight of Austin Downtown building on the third side is a pleasant experience.

 

Lake Austin in an Overcast

Lake Austin in an Overcast

We were 4 guys – so rented two double boats. Rent was 15 USD per boat per hour. Being a first timer, I was off to a slow start and so even my not-so-amateurish partner couldn’t move ahead. The vessel moved absolutely in direction that we didn’t want it to go. As minutes passed, my rowing skills improved. We figured out that the best strategy to move fast and straight was – the rower in the back provides direction to the boat while the rower in the front ‘rows’; and after some time, vice versa.

 

Rowers

Rowers

Ducks, and birds of other categories as well, were having a good time – swimming, playing, surfing, flying low and eating insects/fish. In some areas, people were feeding the birds too.

 

Duck Tales

Duck Tales

The sight on both sides of the Lake was majestic, though the ‘point-and-shoot’ camera couldn’t do justice to the sight due to overcast sky. Several houses, surrounded by trees, lines the Lake periphery. Imagine sitting on your backyard listening to your iPod and gazing at the Lake from atop – priceless!

 

Woods Beside the Lake

Woods Beside the Lake

General Information: If you are new (or coming) to Austin and want to plan a visit to Town Lake for rowing,  canoeing, hiking, biking etc the following links will help you:

Note: All the pictures in this post are taken by Sankar Tejaswi (my co-passenger in the boat) and have been retouched by me using picnik.

Enchanting Mount Bonnell along Lake Austin

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Watching sunset on a clear sky evening is a bliss – be it on a beach, a coffee shop overlooking a lake or a hill top. A couple of weekends back, I had a chance to see the sunset from Mt. Bonnell.

Mount Bonnell is the highest peak of Austin. And, predictably, is a popular and free hangout for Austinites and tourists alike.  I found it a perfect place to spend couple of hours just sitting atop the rocks, overlooking Lake Austin and the Downtown. Also, this is one of the most romantic places you can find in Austin. Beat this – a couple sitting on a rock atop a hill overlooking a lake watching sunset, and without spending a penny!

About: There’s a short trail of .3 mile and 190 ft high (yeah, really short but enjoyable nevertheless). The place felt more like a tourist spot than a hiker’s paradise.  The trail begins at the stairs that leadup to the summit, and is marked by the waypoint “Trailhead” on the topo map. In early 1830s, a woman named Antonette jumped from this peak when Indians killed her fiance. In her memory, the place was called Antonette’s Leap then. Later, it got its current name from George W. Bonnell. Address – 3800 Mt. Bonnell Drive, Austin, TX 78731. Locate it on Google Maps.

There are 3 parts of Mt. Bonnell each with a distinct charming view:

Meandering Lake Austin

Meandering Lake Austin

At the first spot, you can see Lake Austin and houses built on each side. Boats wheezing along the Lake’s length, leaving a trail behind, is a worthy sight. The lakeside houses look pretty similar. Their backdoor opens up to the Lake. Just imagine – wake up in the morning, grab a cup of tea or cofee and sit on the porsche viewing the lake.

Sunset from Mt. Bonnell

Sunset from Mt. Bonnell

From the second spot you can see the sunset. Beyond the lake and over the horizon.  You can also see a Bridge and several towers (probably telecom ones) in a distance.

Lake side Dwellings

Lake side Dwellings

There’s a pavillon on the third spot, standing atop which you can have amazing view of the Austin Downtown. The pavilion, though, may be crowded at times – after all, who doesn’t want to see the sckyscrapers from such a far distance that they are even difficult to spot. However, there is a house just nearby on the hill that blocks off a part of the view. It is an eyesore for the visitors. But I’m sure the people in that hoise must be having an amazing view of Austin. Lucky folks!

In short, a must see place in the evening while you are in Austin.

Links

Websites: AustinExplorer, Austin City Guide,

SXSW Live Blogging

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7:15pm – Heading to Woodrow’s on the 6th Street.

6:05pm – Came out of ACC. Would walk down a couple of blocks to the hotel now.

5:35pm – Mocha is good. Lotsa folks tweeting using laptops. I thought there would be more iPhone tweeple than lappy tweeple.

5:32pm – A coffee joint. Getting Cafe Mocha with cream.

5:30pm – A lot of things going around – keynote speakers on marketing, web 2.0, entepreneurship and web 2.0 etc. But all need badges. Let me figure out what can I do for free!

5:15pm – Came out of SunBurn. Lemme check out other things.

5:05pm – T-shirts with ‘Geeky’ quotes being sold here.  Sample this – ‘SCIENCE. It works. Bitches’

5:00pm: People are playing games all around – kids, teenagers, young and oldies alike. Interestingly, can’t spot Strategy Games here – everywhere I see there is a Gun Battle.

4:50pm: OK, so it was about growing vegetables in your backyard. and in case you don’t, then buy them from local vendors sice you get the same stuff and the local farmers benefit more. The logic being, of 1 Dollar that you spend on fruits and vegetables, only 22 cents reach the farmer who produced them – rest is spent on packaging, transportation, marketing etc.

4:45pm: The guy at ‘Austin Green Art’ caught me. Had a conversation. He asks me ‘Do they grow vegetables in India’?

4:40 pm: A gallery of  ‘Into the Pixel’ looks cool. Especially the picture that shows Capitol being devastated in attacks. Cool game huh.

4:25pm: Checking out Games section at SXSW. ScreenBurn Arcade. More info.

4:15pm: Just spotted Austin Convention Center after quite some search. I noted 500 West Caesar Chavex street. Too bad, since what I found is a Waste Water Traetment Plant at that location! ACC is in 500 East Caeasar Chavez.

South by South West, Austin

Consider this: You’re in Kolkata and you come to know about Durga Puja only on night before it starts. Or, you’re in Mumbai unaware of Ganesh Chaturthi till you actually see someone shouting – Ganapati Bappa, Mourya. I consider it a cardinal sin.

I was close to commiting one. 

SXSW  (South by South West) is supposedly a kick-ass annual Music and Film festival in Austin. Too bad I came to know about it only a couple of days back and even then didn’t appreciate the enormity of the event – supposedly 4 million people from around the globe come here for a week. Though this figure is very small compared to what happens at Kumbh Melas , or even Durga Puja, Rath Yatra or Ganesh Chaturthi; it is a huge number for a small US city like Austin. My cab driver told me today the number today – I haven’t verified it at any website though. He was very excited when he declared – ‘You’ll hardly get any cab the next week. Everyone moves to downtown during South by South west. There is just too much money to be made driving a cab at that time.

I started surfing about it this evening and realized its importance only after that . You can look for sxsw tweets here. With so many things to plan for, I’m having a hard time finding out what to miss. The only glitch – it starts on Friday the 13th.

Just decided an hour ago that I’ll try and use the New Media to share the experiences. Will experiment live blogging in my blog and micro-blogging with Twitter. Tune in for the flavor.
Any suggestions on what to write about?