EGD http://www.egeedee.com It's me! Sun, 08 Sep 2019 20:29:19 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.4 120547040 being creative http://www.egeedee.com/2019/09/08/being-creative/ http://www.egeedee.com/2019/09/08/being-creative/#respond Sun, 08 Sep 2019 20:29:13 +0000 http://www.egeedee.com/?p=16326 I have been making things for as long as I can remember. My creative journey didn’t begin or end at any specific point in my life. It has always been a huge part of everything I do. I am not exaggerating when I say that I can make almost ANYTHING I think of. I have...

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I have been making things for as long as I can remember. My creative journey didn’t begin or end at any specific point in my life. It has always been a huge part of everything I do. I am not exaggerating when I say that I can make almost ANYTHING I think of.

I have been more or less writing this blog for 7 years now. In that time, trends have come and gone and circled right back, social media has turned into a monster and whatever I knew of “sharing” has become less and less appealing to me.

Does that mean I’m not being productive enough? What’s that tree falling in the woods analogy? I don’t remember how we were viewing the creativity of others prior to tumblr and Instagram. I know I used to go to a lot of art galleries or rummage through old book stores. But most of the independent art that I knew of was being made entirely by people an arm’s length away.

I’ll admit that I let the Internet influence when and where I’m making my art. I felt like if I wasn’t “showing” what I make to my followers, then I wasn’t really doing much worth at all. I am still trying to understand my relationship to posting work online. Am I doing it just for likes? No. I want more of an interaction but it seems like it’s very hard to get it when the “<3” button is so easy to tap and move on.

I will try to share more here instead. I don’t seem to get much in way of comments here either but this is my space entirely and I’m the most myself here.

Flowers

These are all flowers that grew in my garden this year. I like using them in photos and try to do it every year. This year I used one placement and added digital lettering. The second placement was a piece I sent to a website/Instagram platform that accepts contributions from the public. It features my Grandma. I will be making more of these this week so let’s see where it all goes.

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Grilled chicken kebabs + quick sautéed tomatoes and herb oil over yogurt http://www.egeedee.com/2019/08/30/grilled-chicken-kebabs-quick-sauteed-tomatoes-and-herb-oil-over-yogurt/ http://www.egeedee.com/2019/08/30/grilled-chicken-kebabs-quick-sauteed-tomatoes-and-herb-oil-over-yogurt/#respond Sat, 31 Aug 2019 01:27:45 +0000 http://www.egeedee.com/?p=16315 When we were growing up, we spent a lot of our vacations right in our vast Goan “backyard”. We either went to hotels, used a family friend’s timeshare, went to the beach or to another family friend’s wilderness hut where 10-15 adults and kids slept in close quarters to the sound of rushing water from...

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When we were growing up, we spent a lot of our vacations right in our vast Goan “backyard”. We either went to hotels, used a family friend’s timeshare, went to the beach or to another family friend’s wilderness hut where 10-15 adults and kids slept in close quarters to the sound of rushing water from the stream behind the house. Sometimes, we went to shop in Bombay.

I don’t think about these memories as much as I should but I did today so I thought I should write it down. As an adult, I feel so pressured to see the world and take faraway vacations. As a kid, just a body of water to go into all day until it was time for lunch was all I needed.

After lunch, we would have to wait for an hour before going back in the water because in our circle of friends, we all agreed that if we didn’t, we would cramp and drown. Or vomit blood. This was kiddie folklore. It was based on no research and we wouldn’t dare test it.

I don’t remember any adults being worried about how long we were in the water. At the beach, our fingers turned into raisins and we would compare how much darker our skin was around our swimsuits. As much as I love the mystery of a foreign country, I think I still get the most joy from escaping to a place not so far away.

The benefits of international travel are many. Some people need it a lot more than others, but there is a privilege involved in terms of where you’re born, how much you earn and in what currency. Real travel can happen just by leaving your comfort zone and traversing places you know nothing about.

Maybe you’re with someone you know or maybe alone. You might run into the kindness of strangers or be the only person in the woods. There is always something to learn when you’re “teetering in the unknown”. Hopefully there’s a body of water and definitely lunch.

Grilled chicken kebabs

Balk all you like that these kebabs are made with chicken instead of mutton because they were delicious. You can make the meat mix about 2 days ahead but leave out the salt until you’re ready to cook them.

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch piece ginger
  • 455 gms/ 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1/4 large red onion (1/2 cup), finely diced
  • 1 cup fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp amchur (raw mango powder)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder (like Kashmiri chilli or ancho chilli)
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • Lots of fresh lime, to serve

Special tools

  • 12 inch wooden or metal skewers (if using wooden, soak them in water for 1 hour before using)

Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and ginger into a paste. If it seems to take too long for the ginger to break down, sprinkle a tiny pinch of salt over it and that should help.

Put the chicken in a large bowl and add the ginger-garlic paste to it. Next add all the rest of the ingredients apart from the salt and pepper. Using your hands, mix everything together like you would do a dough, (do a dough) making sure all of it is spread evenly through the chicken.

Add the salt and pepper to taste and set the bowl in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up. You can also sprinkle the salt on the kebabs right before cooking.

Divide the mixture into six balls. Set a bowl of water next to you and lightly wet your hands to help with any sticking. Form the kebab mixture around the skewers, by rolling them longways into a kofta of (more or less) even thickness. I mimic a rolling pin action to help out a bit and then smoothen out tears or any gaps.

Press the skewer into the centre of the kofta and wrap the meat around it. Lay the kebabs on a sheet pan and place it in the fridge while you heat up the grill.

Heat a charcoal or gas grill to high heat, creating a zone for high-heat on one side and a zone for lower heat on the other. Basically put most of your charcoal on one side of the grill.

Put the skewers on the cooler side of the grill and cook for 4 minutes on one side and then flip them around to the other side and cook for 4 more minutes. Once the outside is set, move the skewers over to the warmer zone and cook for 2 + 2 more minutes on each side. The kebabs are ready when they register a temperature of 74 C/ 165 F. Another way to tell is by pressing on them and seeing how firm they feel to the touch. Firmer is best.

Serve warm.

Quick sautéed cherry tomatoes and herb oil over yogurt

This recipe is very forgiving. Although I have given you measurements, I expect you to follow your instincts (as always!). This is a good one to do just that!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup full fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup herbs like coriander leaves, rosemary or oregano
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 pinch of Kosher salt
  • 1/4-1/2 cup + 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Fresh lime, to serve
  • More Kosher salt, to taste

Spoon the Greek yogurt onto a deep serving platter and spread it out to cover the plate in a single layer. Season lightly with salt.

Take the herbs, garlic clove and salt in a mortar and pestle and grind it to a paste. Put it into the 1/2 cup measuring scoop and measure out the olive oil. There is no need to be exact. You can’t go wrong with anything here. Mix well and set aside.

Heat a pan on medium-high heat. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan and let it warm up. Add the cut tomatoes to the pan and saute them for 3-4 minutes, allowing them to bump into each other and gently release some of their juices. Sprinkle a little salt over at the end and take the pan off the heat. Again, you can’t really overdo this step, unless your tomatoes burn to a crust of black char.

Spoon the tomatoes over the yogurt and let them drip their juices to the edges of the plate. Drizzle the herb oil over the tomatoes and season with more salt. Sprinkle fresh lime juice of the top and serve with the skewers.

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Salmon cutlets with a garlic yogurt-mayo dipping sauce http://www.egeedee.com/2019/08/23/salmon-cutlets-with-a-garlic-yogurt-mayo-dipping-sauce/ http://www.egeedee.com/2019/08/23/salmon-cutlets-with-a-garlic-yogurt-mayo-dipping-sauce/#respond Fri, 23 Aug 2019 20:07:53 +0000 http://www.egeedee.com/?p=16306 I sprained my ankle at the beginning of June. I was hiking and the sandals I was wearing didn’t hold my left foot very comfortable. As a result of all that walking + weak hips, I twisted it just a little bit. It was enough for me to tear a ligament but not as badly...

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I sprained my ankle at the beginning of June. I was hiking and the sandals I was wearing didn’t hold my left foot very comfortable. As a result of all that walking + weak hips, I twisted it just a little bit. It was enough for me to tear a ligament but not as badly as if I fell right on top of it. I managed to catch myself (thank you shoulders) and it was all good.

For the next few weeks, I rested, iced and did all the things I was supposed to. I knew it wasn’t broken because I walked with no discomfort. It did swell from time to time, which made me cautious and concerned. Eventually I decided I could not live this low-activity life anymore so I went to get the green light from a doctor to go to physiotherapy.

Currently, that’s what I’ve been doing with my body. I have high hopes that I will be back to my ways with minor adjustments. But there are exercises and they will only work if I work at them.

When I made the choice to become more physically active, it was 2011. On my first day at a gym, I couldn’t even walk down stairs after 10 minutes of whatever it is I did. My friend was sitting at his laptop in the lower level of my parents’ house and I was groaning about how much it hurt to walk. But I went back to the gym and kept going until I got sick of it two years ago.

Now I have an indoor activity aversion. So if it’s outdoors, I’ll do it. Indoors at a gym after an exchange of money? My face turns sour. (“WHY WHEN THE OUTDOORS IS FREE!!”). I know what I like for now. The fact that I can’t pursue any of it at a level I’m used to has given me a lot of anxiety.

“Level”: I’m not sure how to define this. It has changed so much over the years. Right now, the level is mostly walking, stretching and riding my bicycle. These are all physiotherapist approved until my ligaments get stretchier.

This is the first time I’m even writing about exercise and reading all these words that I’m typing is making me cringe. I feel like (social media rant coming up) SOCIAL MEDIA has turned us into such 1-dimensional versions of ourselves that I desperately cling to whatever sense of self I have in terms of sharing my interests. How did we get here? I am even wondering why I cared whom someone voted for.

We can be many things in our bodies. We can stretch, run, bounce or fly all the little ligaments and nerves as time goes by. Some might not be as limber but that’s a level and levels change.

Salmon cutlets with a yogurt-mayo dipping sauce

Ingredients

Serves 3-4

For the salmon

  • 226gms or 1/2 lb fresh salmon
  • 1 cup + 3/4 cup panko (Japanese style breadcrumbs)
  • 2 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 green onion, cut into rounds along the vertical
  • 1 tsp fresh garlic, grated
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp + 2 tbsp. black sesame seeds
  • A dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1 egg
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Cooking spray or neutral tasting oil like safflower
  • Fresh lime, to squeeze on top

For the dipping sauce

  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • A pinch of salt

Take the salmon and lay it flat on a cutting board. Ideally, your salmon should still have its skin on since this helps to keep it in one piece while you cut.

Using a sharp knife, cut the salmon horizontally into 1-2 inch thick slices and then further cut them vertically into smaller pieces. Gather the salmon into the centre of the cutting board and run your knife through it. What you end up with should look almost like ground meat with a few sizeable chunks dispersed through it.

Preheat the oven to 205C/ 400F

Put the salmon in a bowl and add 1 cup panko, soy sauce, vinegar, green onion, garlic, ginger, 2 tbsp. sesame seeds and a dash of cayenne. Mix all of it together making sure the panko is nicely spread throughout the salmon mixture. Break an egg stir it into the salmon mixture until everything is combined. Set the bowl in the fridge for about 30 minutes while the oven is heating.

Take a baking sheet and coat the bottom with cooking spray or oil.

Take a plate and scoop out about 3/4 cups panko and 2 tbsp. black sesame seeds onto it. Mix well.

Remove the salmon mixture from the fridge and add about 1 tsp of salt to it and mix using one of your hands. If you need more, then go for it. I usually taste just a tiny piece of the mixture to decide if it’s good.

Set up an assembly line of 1) salmon 2) breading 3) baking sheet. Form about 9 small balls from the salmon mixture. Taking one salmon ball at a time, gently press it down into the panko-sesame mixture to flatten it into a cutlet. Coat the other side with the breading as well. Set it on the baking sheet. Repeat with all of the salmon.

You can also make a lesser number of salmon cutlets and make them bigger instead.

Place the baking sheet with the salmon cutlets into the oven and cook for 10 minutes on one side. Take the sheet out of the oven and lightly drizzle more oil onto the bottom of it around the salmon cutlets. Let them cook for 5-10 more minutes and they’re done.

While the salmon is cooking, mix all the ingredients for the dipping sauce together. This can be made 3 days ahead and kept refrigerated.

Serve with the a generous squeeze of lime of top + the dipping sauce.

More salmon recipes:

Cedar plank grilled salmon
Salmon noodle salad with chilli lime dressing
Grilled salmon
Steamed clams and salmon in a tomato and white wine broth
Spicy salmon kebabs with a creamy cilantro yogurt sauce
Salmon cakes with jalapeno aioli

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Flowers! http://www.egeedee.com/2019/08/22/flowers/ http://www.egeedee.com/2019/08/22/flowers/#respond Thu, 22 Aug 2019 18:32:10 +0000 http://www.egeedee.com/?p=16291 I wanted to add some beauty into the world today so I compiled some photos I’ve taken in the last two months. Most of these plants are just a walk away but for some I had to literally stop and smell the roses. I spent a lot of time planting mostly flowers this year and...

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I wanted to add some beauty into the world today so I compiled some photos I’ve taken in the last two months. Most of these plants are just a walk away but for some I had to literally stop and smell the roses.

I spent a lot of time planting mostly flowers this year and not so many vegetables. I think they will pay off over time and that thought pleases me very much. I know that it’s almost the cooler season here and as much as I dislike that – I am cold-blooded – I know I have something to look forward to in the spring.

I have taken a lot of time off Instagram and facebook and replaced all that mindless scrolling with other activities. Mainly, I have been trying to read a lot more with all that time. I know there are a lot of benefits to reading books and in this hyper digital age, it feels more crucial that we – no I – put that shit away and hide in a book. I have learnt a lot from social media and read a lot of interesting things but that’s all I’ve done…surface stuff.

I also remember how much I love watching regional cinema so that’s another of my goals, to watch moe independent movies. This is all in preparation for something and nothing at all. I want to feel like I’m in college again, waiting to soak in ideas like a sponge.

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Chaat made with French green lentils http://www.egeedee.com/2019/07/31/french-lentil-chaat/ http://www.egeedee.com/2019/07/31/french-lentil-chaat/#respond Wed, 31 Jul 2019 20:34:27 +0000 http://www.egeedee.com/?p=16273 I factory reset my phone 2 weeks ago. It alerted me that it would stop working as a phone should if I didn’t. I made all the necessary saves and uploaded all the selfies I didn’t want to lose. I made sure my WhatsApp was backed up so I would never lose the few messages...

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I factory reset my phone 2 weeks ago. It alerted me that it would stop working as a phone should if I didn’t. I made all the necessary saves and uploaded all the selfies I didn’t want to lose. I made sure my WhatsApp was backed up so I would never lose the few messages my dad sent me since I got this phone and he got WhatsApp. That’s all I cared about, really.

Once I knew I was in the clear, I tapped “OKAY”. All the notes I wrote myself right after my father died, poems, lines, ideas – gone. I forgot to back those up and I’m not that annoyed as I thought I’d be. I mean, I am a little bit but I can’t do much by being sad. I can just keep documenting on a book instead of relying on technology. Duh, Edlyn.

This also means that the recipe notes I made for this here thing are all gone. I have no idea how many cups of each thing I used off the top of my head but I can only guess. The saving grace here is that I’ve made this so many times I know it’s impossible to mess up.

So play this game with me, alright? I’ll estimate everything and you make it. It’s one of the most forgiving recipes I know so experiment away!

Chaat made with French green lentils

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked French green lentils
  • 1 cup celery, finely diced
  • 1 cup cucumber, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup green onions, cut into rounds
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 1 Fresno chilli
  • 1 lime, juiced (about 3 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 – 1 tbsp chaat masala

In a large serving platter-like bowl, mix together all the ingredients upto the Fresno chillies.

Whisk the lime, olive oil and chaat masala until combined. Pour over the lentil salad and enjoy!

Can be made 3 days ahead and kept refrigerated. It tastes better if you make it a day before because it gets marinated in that yummy limey chaat masala mixture. Makes a world of difference, if you have the time.

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Green chilli and cherry tomato achaar (pickle) from Indian-ish http://www.egeedee.com/2019/07/25/green-chilli-and-cherry-tomato-pickle/ http://www.egeedee.com/2019/07/25/green-chilli-and-cherry-tomato-pickle/#respond Thu, 25 Jul 2019 18:36:26 +0000 http://www.egeedee.com/?p=16269 I recently wrote a personal essay/review of Priya Krishna’s new book Indian-ish – a book she wrote with her amazing mother Ritu. The article made it to the Everett Herald, a local newspaper here in Boring land. Oh sorry, I meant Boeing. It didn’t just appear out of nowhere on the paper. I wrote to...

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I recently wrote a personal essay/review of Priya Krishna’s new book Indian-ish – a book she wrote with her amazing mother Ritu. The article made it to the Everett Herald, a local newspaper here in Boring land. Oh sorry, I meant Boeing.

It didn’t just appear out of nowhere on the paper. I wrote to them and told them I wanted to review it and they were on board. I really enjoyed the book so I wanted to share why.

If you don’t know this about me, I used to work as a journalist in India. I edited, wrote and did all the other fun stuff. I still enjoy writing immensely – AHEM blog – so it wasn’t something surprising. I’ve just never had a byline in America before so I’m so excited for this one.

If you’d like to read it, here is the link. The article only has 2 recipes and you’ll have to buy the book for the rest. It’s worth it for the writing, extremely simple recipes and illustrations by Maria Qamar of @hatecopy.

I know my father would log into facebook just to share all of this so I hope you do as well.

I am sharing a recipe that’s in the book (and the article) because it has been on my to-do list for the summer tomatoes, none of which are in my garden. But! I’ve seen them! They are in the gardens of better planned folks and farmers and groceries with money to ship them to their displays. If you find some baby ones, make this. It’s amazing!

Green chilli and cherry tomato achaar (pickle)

If you’re pepper-averse and prefer less heat, use half the amount (or one) of chillies and/or deseed them. The heat dulls the next day and like most Indian dishes, it tastes even better. Goes great with papad or on top of yogurt for a smacktastic dip.

Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ tsp fennel seeds
  • ¼ tsp nigella seeds
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp black mustard seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • ¼ tsp asafetida (optional, but really great)
  • 4 long Indian green chillies or serrano chillies, halved lengthwise (no need to remove the stems)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice (from about half a lime)

In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer, toss in the fennel seeds, nigella seeds, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, and fenugreek seeds and cook until the spices are slightly browned and start to sputter (watch the cumin – that’s the best indicator), about 1 minute max. Stir in the asafetida (if using) and then add the chiles. Cook for 2 minutes, until the chillies brown and crisp on the sides.

Turn off the heat, mix in the tomatoes, and immediately transfer to a serving bowl so that the tomatoes stop cooking. Gently mix in the salt and lime juice. Serve warm or at room temperature. This will keep, covered, in the fridge for a few days, but it’s best polished off day-of.

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Dear friend, http://www.egeedee.com/2019/07/09/dear-friend/ http://www.egeedee.com/2019/07/09/dear-friend/#comments Tue, 09 Jul 2019 19:39:04 +0000 http://www.egeedee.com/?p=16250 As I sit down at my desk to write you this note, it’s 11.21 AM here in the Pacific Northwest. The weather is mild for this time of the year, for summer and yet, the grass in the backyard is parched. From this brown and very dead meadow, hundreds and hundreds of dandelions (and creeping...

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As I sit down at my desk to write you this note, it’s 11.21 AM here in the Pacific Northwest. The weather is mild for this time of the year, for summer and yet, the grass in the backyard is parched. From this brown and very dead meadow, hundreds and hundreds of dandelions (and creeping buttercups) are blooming as if to say, “beauty can come from anything”. Yes, they are a nuisance and a weed but ever since last year, they have become my friends. A metaphor for how fast life and seasons change. How everything – even when you cannot see it – holds beauty.

I am drinking a beer, which is the main reason why I started this letter with the time of day. In the past, alcohol or any other intoxicating substance have never helped me in the pit of despair. I’ve always felt like instead of brushing it away, I needed to either sit with it or write about it. During my moments of grief, that rationale was hollow.

That one beer when it isn’t really morning or isn’t really noon comes highly recommended by only me and probably some of the greatest thinkers of our time. I have made some of the most profound observations about life after my father died because of that beer. I let it all go just a little bit. In that moment when the buzz hits, nobody was trying to take away the loves of my life from me.

What I’m trying to tell you is: Have a beer or a counterintuitive shot of something strong when it’s the most inappropriate. Have it for your dad and mom. In their memory. I won’t judge you. Just remember to think about it a little longer if it starts to take too much control over you. Right now, your grief always comes first.

That’s a damn good excuse to do whatever the fuck you want. Somebody is pissing you off? Tell them to eat shit. If someone wants to offload their life’s worries on you a month after the person who birthed you is no longer living and breathing in your midst like they used you? Tell them to drive 1000 kms away….. and then fuck off. Anger will come naturally. Use it. I used to be so good at keeping my feelings bottled up for fear of being perceived as negative. Now? Fuck it. Swear incessantly. It’s amazing how good it will feel.

My father chose a very inconvenient time to die. It was the day before a public holiday so of course, everybody would be able to come to his funeral. My past experiences of watching him plan family members’ last rites made me think that he was emotionless or something. My father! He who never liked to waste any time putting people in the ground. Some would say that’s heartless. Going through his own funeral as a daughter, I am now of the opinion that he was right. Funerals suck and the sooner they’re done, the better. I imagine cremations suck as well.

At funerals, people are all trying to shake your hand when you’d rather just make fun of the man asking to play the violin at the remembrance mass a month later. That’s what your dad would have done too. But he would have also made a note of everyone *not* there so for the sake of being petty for all the shit line of “how, where, why” guilt-inducing questioning you’ll have to go through for the next few months. If you want to, stand outside the cemetery and take attendance. Be that bitch.

Death is so loaded. That single word is enough to send people shaking into a corner. You might lose a lot of friends and that’s okay. Societies don’t give enough space for people to be sad and maybe you can’t blame them for not showing up but blame them anyway. At least for now or until you can figure out if you’re forgiving Edlyn or vengeful Edlyn. I took a year off myself but for some people, I have chosen to take longer.

Grief is everything. Everything. As soon as you’re in it, you can never be out of it. The aches dull with time but right now, it is all consuming. Your heart is ripped, stepped on, stabbed. You have no concept of time, except you know it’s getting dark and your dad is supposed to be home by now. You are a baby again, you want your mom.

You wonder why you’re even alive. What is the point? This vulnerability is a pain in the brain in the early days. I wrote it all down because I knew I would long for those days in the future. The further away my father’s death is, the harder it becomes. And that my friend, is the biggest irony of it all. It doesn’t get better or worse: It gets different. It’s complex. It’s ever-changing and it’s the most natural, organic thing we will ever observe up close in this lifetime. It is precious. Just like a birth- beautiful, implausible like the miracle of a small tiny bird anticipating its next meal that’s never coming.

Death is common. You will hear and remember all the people that died in tragedies on the news or close to home. Life will become a timeline of befores and afters in relation to that day you lost your person. That intensity of grief is not permanent but it’s comforting to know that you’re not the only one.

Sridevi died a few months after my father. Sridevi! It’s humbling and it spares nobody. That’s not to say that your grief isn’t the most important thing in the world. It always will be the biggest part of you from now until forever. Bad relationships, shitty bosses, rude encounters on the train are close to nothing compared to this. This is your becoming. Treat it as such.

I can’t finish this without telling you what an amazing, resilient, wonderful, brave and marvelous person you are. Your body heals. Your mind does too. You of all people know this better than I ever will. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m sorry it sucks. I’m sorry life just goes on. There are seasons for everything and everyone. This is yours right now. Cling to hope in the midst of your despair. Ask questions, seek answers and don’t ever forget that the only real and true reason you lost so much is because of that one thing: Love.

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Cedar plank grilled salmon with ponzu-dill mayo and fried capers http://www.egeedee.com/2019/07/04/cedar-plank-grilled-salmon-with-ponzu-dill-mayo-and-fried-capers/ http://www.egeedee.com/2019/07/04/cedar-plank-grilled-salmon-with-ponzu-dill-mayo-and-fried-capers/#respond Thu, 04 Jul 2019 23:29:26 +0000 http://www.egeedee.com/?p=16222 My memory has gotten so much better and so much worse with time. I attribute the latter with how much I use my phone. When I’m on it, I cannot piece together parts of a conversation I just had. I can’t complete my sentences and I genuinely feel lost until I put it down and...

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My memory has gotten so much better and so much worse with time. I attribute the latter with how much I use my phone. When I’m on it, I cannot piece together parts of a conversation I just had. I can’t complete my sentences and I genuinely feel lost until I put it down and yes, forget about it.

When I say that it has gotten better, I don’t really know what I’m comparing it to. I never had myself tested and I’m not a genius. Today, I was sitting down with a pencil colour in my hand. I was holding it parallel to the paper as I rubbed it against the paper. “Shading,” I thought. “Didn’t dada teach us how to do this?” was my very next thought. I have no idea how I remembered that and there is no way I can verify this.

Do you ever have those thoughts? If they were a food, I would call them a consommé. It’s all rich and egg-y to begin with but when all the impurities cling to the albumin cloud, what is left behind is a crystal clear delicious stock.

My brain is consommé most of the time. How did I not think of this before?

I don’t know if you’ve lost someone significant in your life yet but this superpower turns out to be my one and only favourite part of grief. I can remember so many tiny beautiful moments of my life that I have never thought of until right now when I was shading address labels and turning them into stickers.

Some of the time I am 100% sure of the memory. Today, I wasn’t. I just felt something light up in my brain and assumed it was true. For all I know, it could have been Jane who taught me the art of literal and metaphorical shade but I will chalk this down to the dead people fairies who visit us from time to time, sometimes bringing with them smiles and other times metal hooks to rip out your heart from your chest.

Food, now.

Grilled salmon with ponzu-dill mayo and fried capers

I realise that I’m in a dill phase with these recipes but this is a real-time real life food blog. If I have a lot of dill to use, I am going to make recipes that include it. If you have another herb like parsley or mint at your disposal, those would go very well as a substitute. The fried capers here are a true revelation. They tie together everything in this recipe. Don’t skip them.

Ingredients

Special equipment: A grill and 1 cedar plank, soaked in water for at least 2 hours

  • 230 gms or 1/2 lb fresh salmon, centre bones removed
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained and patted dry
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp. ponzu
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1/4 small onion, sliced into thin slivers
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • Salt, pepper and more dill, to finish

Heat the grill to medium-high heat. Debone and salt the salmon 15 minutes before putting it on the grill. You might need a 1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons of Kosher salt. You can do these step while the grill is heating up. Place the salmon on the plank and put it on the grill.

If you’re using a charcoal grill, don’t put the plank directly over the coals. Instead, use indirect heat by setting it to the side, adjacent to the hot charcoal. Cover the grill and let it cook for 20-30 minutes. Remove it off the grill with grilling mittens or 2 pairs of tongs pinching the plank on either side. Basically, be careful.

Once the salmon has cooled, flake it into bite sized chunks and set aside.

Heat a frying pan on medium-high heat and pour in the vegetable oil. Heat the oil till it starts to look shimmery on the surface. Add the capers to the oil and fry them until they darken in colour and get a little crispy. This should take about 2 minutes. Remove them from the pan and allow them to cool.

To make the dressing, mix the mayonnaise, ponzu, rice vinegar, ginger, dill and paprika in a small jar. Taste it and add in the salt. Some of you might think it’s salty enough without the salt but I didn’t. This is my sneaky way of training you to always taste and salt everything as you go. Dressing can be made 2 days ahead and kept refrigerated.

In a large serving platter, create a base layer of spinach, half the onion slivers and half the tomatoes. Add the chunks of salmon on top of this and then top with the remaining onion and tomato. Spoon dollops of the mayonnaise dressing on top of the platter and top with the fried capers. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle more dill on top for garnish.

Serve at room temperature.

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New Orleans: Part I http://www.egeedee.com/2019/06/28/new-orleans/ http://www.egeedee.com/2019/06/28/new-orleans/#respond Fri, 28 Jun 2019 20:45:03 +0000 http://www.egeedee.com/?p=16171 Catching an evening flight out of Seattle to Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans seemed like a great idea when I was booking my tickets in March. I had the place in my mind, the time I wanted to go (May) and absolutely no idea what I wanted to do there except arrive at...

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Catching an evening flight out of Seattle to Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans seemed like a great idea when I was booking my tickets in March. I had the place in my mind, the time I wanted to go (May) and absolutely no idea what I wanted to do there except arrive at our destination. It would have been midnight and that didn’t seem to faze me. I was used to being in an unfamiliar city after dark and I figured New Orleans is all about late nights music shows in dark jazz clubs so someone would definitely be arriving along with us.

I exited the doors after walking down a grand ballroom style staircase and a blast of humid air enveloped my brown arms. Breathing felt different but exactly the same as the place I grew up, very far from there, in Goa. I didn’t want to jinx it but not having to feel cold was already jumping to the top of my list of “I’m glad I came because…”. A Sharpie’d sign pointed us to the ride share area in the parking lot, we caught a Lyft with the driver playing Reggaetón videos on YouTube over his phone. Just like that, we were on our way to our home for the next few days.

While the airport was buzzing, the neighbourhood we stayed at in the Lower Garden District didn’t make a peep. We were close to a Wal-Mart, right off Tchoupitoulas. the street closest to the Mississippi river. I learnt that the name meant “people who live by the river” in Choctaw, a Native American language from the Muskogean southeast. I already regret having put those two sentences so close to each other. We found our Airbnb, which was one of those shipping container homes, one stacked on top of the other.

When I travel, I don’t like to sleep in. I get the gist of a vacation but I feel compelled to seize the day. The curtains in the room barely kept any of the light out so that mission accomplished itself without the use of a phone alarm, something my body clock is always a step ahead of.

I got out of bed, changed into day wear, filled up my water bottle and went on my walk. I still remember every first day in a country. With fresh eyes, I see the way that world works. I feel like a baby, everything is stimulating. New Orleans has no dearth of these moments. From self-induced to environmental, the place exists on a magical plane separate from the rest of the country. Its historical inhabitants know they are part of something special but it is their routine and like such, they are blasé about it. I wasn’t going to play it cool.

I took my own guided tour of the neighbourhood, walking on lop-sided footpaths and passing by shotgun and double shotgun Creole cottages decked in every colour of the rainbow. New Orleans does not do sublime. I brushed my fingers through beads hung on a wrought iron fences as I peered at the foliage in front of a double gallery home. Tropical, I thought. The coastal humidity was the balm for my homesick soul. The sun got hotter and I just became easier to love.

Stay tuned for Part II

Recommendations

Here are some New Orleans things I liked. I don’t plan vacations like items to check off a list so please keep that in mind. Most of the places we ate at were very close to the area we stayed in. I like keeping it that way because it lets me get to know a place up close. I like running into the same people everyday and carrying on like old pals. It seemed to feel extra special when that happened here.

Food and drinks

Molly’s Rise and Shine Whirled peas toast for President!
Slim Goodies Diner where the crawfish etouffee should go over every order of eggs. It’s SO delicious.
Atchafalaya Resturant The boudin Benedict. My first choice was the oyster benedict but *sad days* they didn’t have it.
The Rum House Carribean Tacqueria Every taco and cocktail!
Joey K’s Monday’s are for red beans and rice in Nola. This place serves it daily. Get that with a daily special and some roasted vegetables.
Gris-Gris shrimp and grits but I also loved everything else they put in front of us so have a great meal!
Cochon I wish I could eat here on the daily and definitely those wood-fired oysters with chili garlic butter and pineapple upside down cake.
Café Beignet I just liked their beignets and line compared to Café du Monde. Sorry.
Stein’s Market and Deli for their sandwiches and root beer/beer selection
Napoleon House for the Pimm’s Cup and muffuletta and great service!
Backatown Coffee in the Treme has great coffee and even better art.
La Boulangerie If I had one travel trip, it’s to always buy a good almond croissant for your morning flight the next day. This one delivered.
Parasols just an easy evening dive bar with great po boys (and some mosquitoes if you sit outside). Beer and wash it down with a shot of bourbon, as you listen to the crickets and people-watch.
T & T Seafood was right on the corner from where we lived. Small grocery stores in New Orleans serve some of the most delicious seafood and po boy’s you can find in the city. Walk in hungry, walk out happy.

Music

Frenchmen street always has music and parties, every night.
Tipitina’s You will have plenty of venues to choose from, but this was in our neighbourhood. “Our”. Okay Edlyn.
Preservation Hall (make reservations or stand in line to get in. Lines are long but worth it)
Second line Sunday season runs from August of one year to June of the next. It stops right when it’s too hot. If you’re lucky enough to find one, join it. Don’t ask why.
Sunday drum circle at Congo Square According to the Congo Square Preservation Society, “on any given Sunday at 3pm in the vicinity of Congo Square, the sound of drums still echo and call for people to gather and connect to their ancestral memory, invent  new creative expressions  and organize African-American artists and communities”.

Parks and sights to see

Audobon Park
The Garden District
Lafayette Cemetery is free to explore on your own but there are also tours if you’d like on.
The street cars are a great way to see the city. Although, they can get quite full on the main tourist tracks. Still worth it.
The art studio of French-born Nola artist Simon on Jackson Ave, right off Magazine St. You will probably see him working on his art and he’s very nice to talk to.
Audobon Butterfly Park and Insectarium was where I went on by birthday. It was SO cool. I highly recommend it.

Tours

Know Nola Tours by Malik Bartholomew

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Grilled chilli-garlic prawns with lemon-dill couscous http://www.egeedee.com/2019/06/25/grilled-chilli-garlic-prawns-with-lemon-dill-couscous/ http://www.egeedee.com/2019/06/25/grilled-chilli-garlic-prawns-with-lemon-dill-couscous/#comments Tue, 25 Jun 2019 21:13:15 +0000 http://www.egeedee.com/?p=16156 When I first started cooking for myself, I relied on the knowledge passed down to me by my great-great food blog search that I serendipitously stumbled upon on the internet. I was in America and I was bowled over how fast I was taken from a keyed in search word to a website, which wasn’t...

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Dill and spinach couscous is served along with grilled shrimp in a tapas style bowl. The bowl also contains lemons. There is a plate to the side of the bowl that has shrimp tails.

When I first started cooking for myself, I relied on the knowledge passed down to me by my great-great food blog search that I serendipitously stumbled upon on the internet. I was in America and I was bowled over how fast I was taken from a keyed in search word to a website, which wasn’t very fast at all. Compared to dial-up and Goa internet though it was a lightning bolt. (Strange how I take these things for granted in 2019)

I learnt about al dente pasta and minimal green pepper usage, crisp vegetables, salads that *crrrrrunch*, cayenne pepper, store-bought puff pastry and mild stews that could only be finished with a fistful of cheddar cheese on top. What a life! Once I started associating cooking with these styles that were nothing like what I ate growing up, that was it. I was like “I will not call this luscious, soupy hug in a bowl ‘pasta’ because I cooked it for 12 minutes instead of 7.” I also wanted my green beans to snap when I bit into them, quite unlike the fragrant, fine-cut, fresh coconut laced stew that I preferred soggy and happily rolled in a chapati just a few years earlier.

In my mind, the classic ways of cooking that permeated the popular food blogs I read at the time was the right way and every other style of cooking in Asia (except Japan….I get it but not really) was not trendy enough. During all that time I spent internalising what I read, I missed home. From time to time, I would look through the kitchen cupboards and add whatever Indian ingredients I could to the recipes I was making. Just a little whiff of toasting cumin, frying onions or a sneeze brought about by chilli powder hitting the oil, made me feel like this was how I needed to be cooking. Their lure was unmistakable.

I get a good laugh thinking about the me of those days. I could have spent so much time writing down family recipes and asking my parents how they made things. Instead, I was copying the Pioneer Woman. That’s not to say I didn’t learn anything. I got a peek into the items available in American grocery stores from blogs like theirs. I also learnt how to write recipes and take photographs.

These days (or years), I’m unlearning everything. If Americans are using ghee as moisturizer then what the hell, I’m throwing my hat in the ring. I want to do everything the fastest way, the way that demands the least dish-doing time (which I learnt recently is very low-waste of me). I will ignore the pot on the stove a little past when I should because I like my kormas that way. Also, I like veg kormas. Please forgive me. I am not going to feel ashamed that I prefer my cabbage to be “fall of the bone” instead of crunchy in coleslaw, when curry powder is still a thing. I have had that jar since 2010. Help.

It feels good to cook however the heck I want and grow my culinary repertoire in a direction that makes sense for the way I want to eat these days. No trends, once in a while I get the desire to make something elaborate but most of all, I just want to be content not content.

Grilled chilli-garlic prawns with lemon-dill couscous

A lot of this recipe (like any!) is about sampling to get an idea of what tastes good to you. Our palates won’t be the same and I’m going to let you embrace that. It’s such an easy recipe that you will be forgiven for almost anything.

Ingredients

For the couscous

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 cup coscous
  • 1/2 packed cup fresh dill with stems, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2-2 packed cup(s) baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Ground fresh pepper
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, quartered

Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Once the water has boiled, take it off the heat and pour in the couscous. Cover the pot and let it sit to hydrate for 10 minutes. Fluff it with a fork and put it into a serving bowl or bowl-like plate.

Add the chopped dill and spinach to the couscous and toss it all together.

Now comes the fun part where you get to improvise. Squeeze the lemon juice on the couscous and toss it, allowing the lemon juice to spread its magic into the mix. Taste a little bit – it should have some tang, yes? Okay. Add the balsamic vinegar and olive oil to the couscous and give it another few stirs to mix. Now it should have a good balance of sweet-acidic taste (from the vinegar) and the tang from the lemon. The olive oil should add a glossy texture a.k.a fat, to the bowl along with its fruity, peppery taste. Taste it all together. If you’re happy with the balance, great. If you want more sourness, add more lemon. The balsamic vinegar will add more of a sweet taste, if that’s what you want. Make sure to balance it all out with more olive oil at the end.

Add the cherry tomatoes and their juices on top of the dressed and ready to impress green couscous. Crack some fresh pepper on top and season with more salt, if needed.

Couscous can be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

(If you want to gain more experience blending a vinaigrette like this, do it in a small bowl and add ingredients in increments of a tbsp. at a time from the measurements I’ve written above.)

For the prawns

  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1-2 Thai chilli, sliced into rounds (deseeded if you want a milder heat)
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 prawns, shelled, deveined with tail attached
  • 3 large wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes (if grilling)

Add the garlic, chilli and salt to a mortar and pestle and pound it to a rough paste (some larger pieces are still okay at this point). Sprinkle in the paprika, cumin and continue grinding it until smooth. Squeeze in the lemon juice and add in the olive oil. Mix it all together using the pestle.

Dip your pinky finger into the paste and taste it. If it needs more salt, add some. Lemon? Squeeze the lemon half with all that you got. If it’s really too much pepperiness for you, sprinkle 1/2 tsp of sugar. Although, it will balance out once cooked and also when eaten along with the couscous.

If grilling, heat the grill to medium-high heat.

Place the prawns in a bowl and pour the marinade over it. Use your hands to toss it well. Put 4 prawns on each skewer and place it on the hot grates, cooking for 2-3 minutes on one side and 2 on the other. The prawn body should feel tighter and the flesh should have a whitish-pink colour.

If cooking on a pan, lightly coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil and place it on medium-high heat. Once the oil looks like it’s shimmering, add the prawns to it, making sure you do not crowd the pan. If you do, they will steam instead of fry. Cook for 3 minutes on each side.

Once you’re done cooking the shrimp using your preferred method, serve it on top of the couscous. Top with more fresh dill leaves, lemon wedges and fresh ground pepper. Serve the shrimp warm on top of warmed, room temp or cold couscous.

Tip: If you have extra lemon, slice it in rounds and grill it or pan fry it with or after cooking the shrimp.

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