Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Green Beans and Corn Bhaat

When I asked on this blog post how important commute time was in taking up a job, most of you said it was very important.

Which stage in life you are plays a big part in the decision. If you are just starting out necessity trumps all other concerns. Commute time perhaps does not enter the equation.

My first job here without a car, with public transportation the only option made me leaving home around 4.30AM and reaching home close to 6.30PM. I learned to survive on Potato chips and Doritos as the cafeteria food for someone new in a foreign country just was not appetizing enough.

In this situation some thing's gotta give and it was homecooked meals. Breakfast was I guess some sugary stuff like doughnut, muffin or toast. I do not do cereal so that was out. No time to pack lunch and dinner was a rushed affair. The cycle repeated itself for the entire work week. Weekend was spent cooking 3-4 different curries to last the week but by mid-week even the sight of it was nauseating.

Luckily being in my 20s and at an age where even stones can be digested it did not matter or did it? For someone who had no worries gaining extra weight I was packing on extra flab without realizing it.

Commute time is relative. Americans some but not all, do not think too much of driving 100 miles to work and there are others for whom even a 10 mile commute is too much. If you live in a place like DC a 10 mile commute can easily become a 45 minute affair. DC now has the dubious distinction of having the worst traffic delays having wrestled that from LA. The point is, commute adds on frustration, road rage and an unhealthy life style.

I had 2 colleagues both Caucasians who were married to Asian women. Both mentioned that their FILs advised them on finding a good job and then finding a place close to it to live. Asian fathers know a thing or two about these things I assume. (Just saying, don't want to start a war like Amy Chua did with her essay) Maybe a generation ago people worked with one employer their entire life so it made sense finding that job and then buying the house. These days nobody has an employer for their entire work life.

In a housing market like now owning a home is a liability. It ties you down to a specific geographic location. On the other hand is owning a dream home worth being tied to a bad job. Tough call.

No surprises, that when I started to look for my next job commuting distance became the top most reason, so much so that I turned down interesting and better paying jobs to be closer to home. Even time does not dull those regrets I guess.

Once children get into the picture the whole equation changes. It was the go-go 90s and I found a job where I could work from home. To some it might sound as perfect work condition. Working in your PJs right after jumping out of bed might seem perfect. Reality is not so rosy. Working in your home requires loads of discipline and determination. Resisting the temptation to do the umpteen things that can done around the house which has nothing to do with work - like doing laundry, cleaning the kitchen or doing prep work for meals, put your leg up and watch TV or run quick errands for yourself or other members in the family.

The worst kind is requests from friends with same age kids as yours to babysit while you are supposedly working! Lots of people think that working from home means a free pay without actually having to work.

To be upfront with your employer about your situation at home is very important if you want to keep the job. While DD was tiny and still not ready for school I informed my employer that I would be working before 8.00AM and after 2.30PM and so during the day when they called me they were not surprised to hear baby noises in the background.

I won't downplay the benefits foremost of which is not spending countless hours in traffic. There are also many down sides to working completely at home. You are not clued in to the office politics, the best projects that come about, changing ownerships of the team and the camaraderie that comes with working in a real office.

Right now I work very close to home. I have time in the evenings to prepare meals, take the kids out to their activities, enjoy some down time, watch TV, pursue my interests, exercise, relax, blog :) Is it the best job in the world? NO. But the benefits far out weigh having a perfect job. Compromise is the name of the game. In the end it is after all a job and it is important not to drop the ball on the other more meaningful things in life.

Not to forget even having choices is a great thing while there are many for are not that fortunate.

So in summary what are the conclusions?

1.Everyone's situation is different. Family situation, lifestyle, commitments all play a role in making a decision.
2.Increase in commute time is indirectly proportional to the time available for other pursuits. Commute time also takes away from time that could be spent on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This includes preparing healthy meals.
3.An altered and possibly bad lifestyle might be the burden of a longer commute.
4.Dream home or dream job?
5.Not all have the choice.

I am always on the look out for recipes that are quick, gives an opportunity to use stuff from the pantry or fridge. When I come across one of those I do not let it go without giving it a try. I came across one such recipe on Masala Magic for Tendli Bhaat. Having no tendli cannot be a reason for not giving it a try. So green beans and corn were substituted. The Double beans pulav that I had tried once before from Masala Magic has become a go to recipe for what to cook days.

Green Beans and Corn Bhaat
1. 2 cups of green beans cut to 1 inch pieces
2. 1/2 cup of corn (I used frozen corn)
3. 1 1/2 cups of sliced oniones
4. 1/2 tbsp of grated ginger + 3-4 garlic cloves minced
5. 3-4 slit green chilies
6. 1 tsp red chili powder (or to taste) + 1 tsp turmeric powder
7. 1/2 tbsp coriander powder
8 1 tsp cumin powder
9. 1/2 tbsp chicken masala powder (original recipe calls for goda masala)
10. 1/2 inch piece of cinnamon, 2 cloves powdered
11. 2 bay leaves + 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
12. salt to taste + 2 tsp oil
13. 2 cups of rice (I used a small grain raw rice, Basmati can be used)
14. 1 tsp of ghee
1. Wash and soak the rice
2.In a pressure cooker heat oil add the bay leaves and cumin seeds and powdered whole spices(from 10 above), followed by the onions and green chilies, saute till it turns translucent
3.Add in the ginger and garlic and let it cook till the raw smell leaves
4.Add all the powders and let give a good mix
5. Add in the green beans and corn and salt and 1/4 cup of water and let it cook for 5-6 minutes
6. Add in the rice and mix into the masala well. Add the required amount of water and let it come to a boil and let it cook till the rice is half cooked. Add in the ghee
7. Place the lid with weight on and cook for 7-8 more minutes and turn off the heat. Do not wait for the whistle

Serve with raita and chips.


  1. I totally agree with your points on working from home.

    That rice dish looks perfect! Yummy.

  2. A nice write ISG. I hear you on the working from home front ... people take it for granted that you are always available and drop in without a thought ... and those in the office think you are having a whale of a time at home!
    Love the idea of adding chicken or goda masala to a pulao ... must try. And what are those on the side? Chips? Look crunchy ... homemade? Recipe please. :-)

  3. I agree that everyone has their own situation. Glad to see you are happy with urs! Bhat looks yum!

  4. a thoghtful post... and totally agree that each own has to deal with varied situations. Evening living in this tiny red dot, commute time is a major consideration, then can imagine how much it would matter for you!

  5. I am sur elot of working mom would say it is abslputley wonderful to work from home.
    Wow leaving so early for work.
    I know here wheni tell my friends my sister back at home gets up by 5 every day they all are shocked and when she was working she even got up earlier. There was a time when it was all getting too much for her and she quit her job and now she is stay at home mom.
    But then I think not everybody want or can do that.
    I am glad that your work is near by so ther is no more junk food :-) an no more flabs :-)

  6. Oh, that's a tough life for sure..starting your day at 4.30 AM! Time, health and passion always struggle for space in life and you are managing them quite well. Best wishes.

  7. Your write-up made a interesting read. Though I am not a working woman, I loved the way your put forth your say.

  8. Wow, leaving home at 4.30 when you had just started... and then returning so late... gosh, little time for anything else. Happy to hear the situation has changed.

  9. good read and ur thoughts are very understandable ! loved the recipe for the yummy looking dish !

  10. I totally hear you on the entire commute thing. Living in Omaha all these years was a breeze - if you have heard of the place, its a small enough place - you can cover the city in about an hour - in whichever direction you go....thats how easy it was. After movign to India, its been a totally different ball game - boy the traffic here in the big cities is horrific! It takes a little getting used to after living in a small town... but we've found our way around it and are actually enjoying it since the pro's outweight the con's...totally depends on how you look at it!
    Nice article... and the rice looks good :-)


Thanks for stopping by. Appreciate you taking the time.
Comments embedded with links, spam and in poor taste will not be published.