I enjoy looking through blog archives. Mine and everybody else’s. Seeing the year stamped right next to an essay about that time in our lives where we didn’t think we knew much about what we were doing, yet we did it anyway. It’s brave to attempt any creative work and sustain it. Seeing archives, even if they are 3 years old – feels like winning a prize.
I’m not sure whom I told this to but a thought came to my mind a few weeks ago. I remembered when my sister Jane brought up the fact that she was envious of my having a close knit group of friends. I collect them, for sure and there are a few people that come into my life that I will never ever give up. If I ever do, for being unable to keep in touch, I get this intense feeling of nostalgia for the memories we made. I guess you could call me a friend collector. Jane on the other hand, was the sister we used to hide behind when we were meeting a new group of people. If she is jealous of my flock, I am jealous of her ability to make almost anybody feel completely at ease when she’s around. Gayle and I would be always be the ones saying: “Where’s Jane? Let her talk.” It was incredibly awkward when she left the room. My friends are her friends and Gayle’s friends are her friends too. My whole silly teenage and early adult life I went on thinking that she had it all because she was so loved. Yet, there she was envying me back, neither of us having any clue.
I put the two together because I was having a deep thinking session about how afraid we get when we think we’re being judged. How amazing it would be if we didn’t have to wait until we were 30 (sometimes even later for some) to stop giving a shit?! We are all perfect just as we are. Zero people can do what we do so I’m leaving more room for admiration and less for jealousy. Jane, it took me a while to figure this out but we both make me proud! And I can share friends.
Which brings me to the stage I feel this blog is currently in. It has a lot to do with how my opinion is evolving as a woman in society. We are always succumbing to perfection in our bodies, in our work and in our personal interactions. We know it’s an impossible feat yet we’re still competing with ourselves and others to win a never-ending race, where insecurities always win. Lately, I have begun to consciously leave behind what I thought was the “right way” to conduct this space. I make messes, I don’t do the whole prop scene. If it’s getting weird and too professional-y while I’m making a photo I stop and remember why the f I’m doing this. Because I love it. There is no prize. Also, I have no idea what I do while I’m making a photograph. To me, that’s the best BEST best part about this work. I am no expert so why do I still feel like I have to fake like I got it all under control? Oh right, I don’t.
A lot of people, some very good friends tell me I keep an interesting blog, that they would never be able to do it as well. Hey, I can’t either! And oh, that’s not the point. Your voice matters. If like me, you choose to share a bit of it in the guise of of food blog, you will be great. It’s not about who makes better toast. It’s about who says “Hey toast is awesome! Let’s eat together!” If unlike me, you want to just meander the world admiring good work, do that! Give deep and lovely compliments, but don’t feel worthless because you aren’t doing the same. We can’t all have every white room we see on Pinterest. Let’s be kind to ourselves.
I took a look at my own archives and found my very first post. The more I read it, the more I realise I’m still that person. I’m still feeling my way through what seemed like a rush of growing up that swept over me in the past few years. I was 23 two seconds ago. I’m not sure what happened but I’m glad I continue to show up.
Grown-up chutney sandwiches
I can’t remember how many times we’ve eaten a version of this sandwich at birthday parties, weddings, and just for funsies. Chutney sandwiches are a Goan party staple for a reason: They are the best. If you’d like, you can also add butter or cheese to the mix, which is what more people do since sliced cheese became a thing in India. I like mine with only chutney. The cucumber and tomato are a step up and I changed it ever-so-slightly by pickling the cucumbers. It was so good. It is everything I want to eat all the time. I’m lucky. Thank you mama for sharing the stuff you put in your chutney. It also goes well with this pulao I made a while ago. Archives 4 life.
For the cucumber pickles
- 1 cup pickling cucumbers, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
- 1/2 cup cilantro, loosely packed
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp sugar
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Pour it all into a glass jar. Shake the bottle and refrigerate. The pickles will settle better into the vinegar the next day and they keep well in the fridge for a week or two.
For the green chutney
- 100 gms/3.3 oz cilantro (you can use the tender parts of the stems as well)
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, roughly chopped
- 1 big clove of garlic (about a tbsp), roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup red onion, chopped fine
- 1 Thai green chilli or 1/2 serrano pepper (remove seeds to reduce the spiciness)
- 1 cup frozen or fresh coconut (fresh is always better)
- 1 tsp tamarind paste
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp kosher salt
Place all the ingredients into a food processor or high-speed blender and start it up. While the machine is working, add about a tablespoon of water to help get everything moving. Scrape the sides and grind it to a spread-like consistency. Scoop the chutney into a glass jar and refrigerate for up to a week.
To assemble the sandwich:
- Your favourite sandwich bread, toasted
- Green chutney
- Cucumber pickles (use the cilantro leaves too)
- Round slices of delicious tomato
- Sprinkle of salt, pepper and red pepper flakes
Spread the chutney on both or one side of the toasted bread. Place the pickles on the bread. Add the tomato slices on top. Sprinkle the seasonings. Cut in half and eat as soon as its ready.
PS: To keep things real, none of these photos are edited. That brown paper came stuffed around a tiny item in an Amazon box. That saucer is from Goodwill (thrift/charity shop), and the bowl came with our first dinnerware set we bought after we realised shit was all broken/breaking. It’s my way of telling you that you’re already awesome.
PPS: Allow me one brag: I grew those yellow tomatoes.