Sunday, June 17, 2007

Lunchables – The Story of an Object Aggregation (Part I)

Object Aggregation - Composing simple objects into a complex one ,each object claiming an existence of their own.

“It is so hot”, cried my friend mansi as she was desperately trying to hold on to the vibrant ribbons tied in her hand. This is the year 1988- an eventful year of exams that judges your high school potential; and a year of school centennial celebrations. We were in the drill field of our school braving the hot blazing summers of Kerala, practicing difficult maneuvers using ribbons taught by our physical ed teacher for our impending centennial celebrations.

I studied in a missionary school. My early education beginning at kindergarten to high school, were taught by nuns, more nuns and teachers. They were all really good and brilliant educationalists, except for their constant need to discipline us. I was a good student in majority of areas according to the words of my teacher when I left my senior year. That in a nutshell meant, I was doing well in Mathematics and Literature. So when it was time for appointing students for our ribbon dance, I jumped to the opportunity to avoid attending classes that involves body parts, history and constitution. Luckily, our practice sessions were in the afternoon, allowing me to cool off my dislike for some subjects and return back to my beloved classes of numbers, arithmetic and geometry. I was joined by my friend mansi, her intentions not clear. The drill field was overflowing with students of different age groups, when we arrived for our first practice session. I didn’t know these many kids dislike biology!! As soon as we were getting acquainted with our fellow dancers, we were ordered to stand in parallel lines, rearranged based on our heights by our teachers. Our physical ed teacher showed us some dance movements. Soon, with a wave of her hand the music started to flow from the boombox and interestingly enough, we managed to form a circle from a parallel line ensuing dance steps. Although I tried hard to avoid classes, our intelligent teachers made sure we would attend some by shuffling the practice sessions. Moreover, as we were approaching the HIGH SCHOOL, we – the exuberant dancers who wished to contribute their time and know-how to the celebrations were asked to attend mandatory special classes on evenings. Well, I was not informed of these schedule changes when I started participating in the dance. Their verbal contracts looked like those cell phone agreements with fine prints.

Our education in the hot sun continued for few weeks with some exceptions on rainy afternoons. Though, I would have preferred to dance then. The days of celebrations arrived soon. There were festivities, long speeches and thunderous applauses. We were waiting for our turn to get this over with, feeling exhausted. As our names were announced and led to the field, we looked like gladiators in a Colosseum. Unaware of our surroundings, we moved, clapped and danced with music. We formed circles, trapezoids and then circles, then wheels and finally parallel lines. According to my friend mansi, the spectators enjoyed it. Perhaps it is the heat, I am not sure though. But how did they understand our dance formations of geometrical figures as they were all standing in the ground with no close circuit TV’s or zooming cameras with aerial shots. Beats me!!! Well who cares, mansi said, its time for our free lunch boxes. The day was over and we were rewarded with appreciation and a box filled with fried rice, meat cutlets, salads, pickles and papads from the school cafeteria. Surprisingly they were good.

Simplistically yours,

Kerala Fried Rice 101

What to get:
1 cup Basmatic Rice
½ cup sliced Beans
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup frozen green peas
½ size thinly sliced Onion
4 tsp Ghee
Ginger paste
1 ½ Garlic paste
8 Cloves
2 Cardamom
1/2 inch cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp Jeera powder
¼ tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Vegetable Oil

What to do:
Soak the basmati rice in water about 20-30 minutes.

Heat 3 tbsp of Ghee in a skillet over medium high heat; add cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaf and stir for couple of seconds. Add 1tsp each of ginger and garlic paste and sauté till the raw smell disappears. Mix in the rice and fry till it becomes translucent. Transfer the rice to a rice cooker with 2 cups of water, jeera powder, turmeric powder and salt, close the lid and cook .

Heat 1 tsp of Ghee and 1 tsp of oil in a skillet; add ½ tsp each of ginger and garlic paste and fry till the raw smell disappears. Add the vegetables, salt and stir fry for couple of minutes till it becomes nice and tender but with a crunchiness.

Add green peas to the rice in the rice cooker when it is cooked through, close the lid, and let it steam for few minutes. Stir in the cooked vegetables, mixing it nice and thoroughly. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

Enjoy it with curd, papads and pickles!

Meat Cutlets
What to get:
½ cup of cubed potato ( about ½ size of potato)
½ inch ginger
2 cloves of garlic
1 serrano chillie
¼ cup chopped onion
1½ cup of ground beef
1 egg
dry bread crumbs
salt to taste

What to do:
Place potato in sauce pan; add water to cover; bring it to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until tender. Drain and mash with a masher.

Grind ginger, garlic and chillies in food processor to a coarse paste. Heat oil in a skillet on medium heat till it is nice and hot. Saute onions and the paste till the raw smell disappears. Add beef; cook for 5 minutes, browned all through.

Combine beef with potato in a bowl and divide mixture into small balls, shaping each into a small patty. Beat one egg in a shallow plate with 1 tbsp of water. Dip the cutlets in the egg mixture; dredge in bread crumbs and place in a cookie sheet lined with foil paper. Freeze for 5 minutes.

Heat vegetable oil in pan over medium high heat. Add the cold cutlets; a minute on each side till it is nice and brown. Remove from pan and keep it warm. Serve with ketchup or salads. Good as a burger too. Delicious!

All-Kerala Simple Salad

This is a simple salad of sliced onions, chopped tomatoes, sliced Serrano chili and curry leaves. Add lemon juice or lime juice for extra tanginess, salt and drizzle with coconut oil ( juice of 1 lemon + 1/2 tbsp of coconut oil). Serve it with cutlets or plain rice and curd.