Sunday, January 22, 2017

Mango Ginger Pickle - maanga inji oorugai

Last week we went to watch Hidden Figures a true story about 3 African American women who worked for NASA. The story is inspiring, moving and leaves you wondering what happened to the culture of math and engineering education among women in general and black women in particular. Taraji.P.Henson one of the actresses in the movie had said that even though she had gone to college she had not heard about the women before starting to make the movie.

These women are inspiring by not only overcoming the racial prejudice of the time which in unimaginable to begin with besides working in a men dominated field as space engineering and holding their own while also having families. If you have daughters in particular take them to the movie and see how easy it is for some of us today and also to give them the confidence they are no less.

With a new twitter happy thin skinned president in the white house it is good to go lose your self in something that is fun. With the man in the white house who seems more like a school yard bully than a president it is going to be 4 long years. The current occupant is not any less experienced than the previous one who promised a lot of things and ended up doing pretty much nothing. While I am not completely torn and am ready for some of the silliness and political correctness to stop I am not sure how much I can take of the bully and his rants.

If the rallies around the world on the first day of his presidency is any indication he is not a very popular person leave alone a leader. Moreover the news focus is the so called president's issue is with the crowd numbers that came to witness his inauguration as if that matters. This is the person that people elected to solve the problems of unemployment and other serious problems. Seriously?

I for one will be doing a lot of cooking just to immerse myself in something fun and interesting. Now on to the recipe,

I found fresh mango ginger in the Indian grocery store and bought some on a whim. They look like fresh turmeric or thin ginger and have an amazing scent similar to mangoes hence the name mango ginger. My paternal grandmother used to make this pickle and she was pretty much the only one who made this pickle that I knew of. She also added this to her very famous lemon pickle. I wish I had learned how to make these pickles from her. Her method of cooking was very different from my maternal grandmother.

Scrape the skin of the mango ginger and slice them into thin round. Heat oil in a kadai, season and add the mango ginger pieces.
Add in the lemon juice and cook for 6-8 minutes. Add the chili powder and powdered fenugreek and mustard powder and turn off the heat after cooking for 2-3 minutes more.

This is also a very easy and not very time consuming.

Mango Ginger Pickle
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
  1. 1/2 lb of mango ginger
  2. 1/2 cup of sesame oil
  3. 3 tbsp of red chili powder
  4. 1/4 tsp of mustard seeds
  5. a little less than 1/4 tsp of fenugreek seeds
  6. salt to taste
  7. seasoning: a pinch of mustard seeds and few fenugreek seeds
  8. juice from 2 lime/lemons

  1. Wash and dry the mango ginger, use a knife to gently peel of the skin and cut into thin rounds.
  2. Heat a small saute pan and roast the mustard and fenugreek seeds, cool and powder and set aside.
  3. Heat a kadai or wide mouthed pan and heat the oil.
  4. When hot add in the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds and let the mustard seeds pop.
  5. Add in the chopped mango ginger and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Pour in the lemon juice and salt and let it boil and cook for about 6-8 minutes or so.
  7. Add in the chili powder and the roasted mustard and fenugreek powder and cook for 2-3 minutes more and turn off the heat.
  8. Transfer to a sterilized glass jar.
  9. Stays fresh for 2-3 weeks and a lot longer refrigerated.

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Hillbilly Elegy - Book Review

In the very liberal county that I live in the school board believes that dumping money at the achievement gap problem is the solution. They have been doing this for a couple of decades with the problem exacerbating rather than improving. One of the school board members protested and refused to run for reelection because she believed that without the support of the family from which the student comes from there is only so much a school and the teachers can do. The bleeding heart liberal view that some people need handouts to survive or the conservative view that people should simply lift themselves by their bootstraps are both negative and the solution to the problem lies perhaps somewhere in the middle.

The hand wringing that the half of the country went through after the elections and our collective disbelief at the victory of the foul mouthed reality TV star who is the perhaps the biggest moocher by the sheer amount of government handouts boggles our mind. Why? Most of us live in bubbles that only reinforce our own world view perhaps.

What does any of this have to do with this book?

J.D.Vance the author of this book was a sought after voice around the time of elections. He is from one the communities that seemed to overwhelmingly support Trump in the election - the Applachia hill country which has suffered enormously during the past couple of decades when the manufacturing moved overseas. Places which have overwhelmingly fallen into the opioid/heroin addiction.

The book is at once sad, moving and extremely uplifting all at he same time. How someone with great odds managed to succeed with the help and support of his grand parents when his mom got afflicted with the addiction that is common in those parts. For a young person surviving to deal with the day to day problems and come out on the other side and manage to get an ivy league education is nothing sort of miraculous.

A steady and supportive presence of an adult is required for success more than money. Who does not like a rags to riches success story? Almost all of us have a soft corner for people who overcome their adversities and come out on the other side successful don't we? Intact families and supportive adults will do more for the success of a youngster than money. Government policies most often ignore this important aspect when they come up with programs aimed to help.

The book is extremely well written in a matter of fact tone. We have all heard of the saying "Fact is stranger than fiction" When I finished this book I could understand a bit more why some people supported Trump so much. He projects this machismo image , does not worry too much about what comes out of his mouth and does not seem too to care too much about what elite people think of him. This is appealing to a group of people who are sick and tired of being condescended to and who most often settle scores with the fist and hitting and fighting is a part of life.

Obama might be the polar opposite of what Trump stands of but how many people really understand what he or Hillary Clinton had to say. Trump did not say anything new, he put it more in layman terms what Obama said 8 years ago. Obama put his fingers on the problem and pretty much forgot about it. Hillary seemed to not grasp it all. Sad!

If not for the political significance of the book, read the book for the gripping narrative and the true story. You won't be disappointed.

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

5 Ingredients Curry Masala Powder

Happy New Year! Wishing you a Happy and Healthy 2017!

While DD2 would like nothing better than to eat out everyday I am not a huge fan neither are the rest of the family members. I bet there are a lot of people who love and enjoy eating out. I like it too when at the end of the day food magically appeared on the table from different places on different days. The problem though eating out comes with its own set of problems. The cost to health and well being for one thing and having to tolerate bad food being another. So if you are stuck between a rock and a hard place you come up with solutions.

There are a few small things that can be done ahead of time to make the process of cooking a bit easier when one is pressed for time. Before my mom back to India after her stay here,she made a small batch of some quick masala powder which can be used for curries. Saute onions, maybe ginger & garlic and some tomatoes and throw in a table spoon of this powder and voila you have a decent meal on your table. This works well with vegetables like cauliflower, zucchini, potatoes, okra, eggs and chicken. Chicken recipe coming up soon.

This recipe is simple as they come with none of the garam masala spices which you can always add later if you want.

5 Ingredients Curry Masala Powder
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
  1. 1/2 cup Coriander Seeds
  2. 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  3. 1 tbsp pepper corn
  4. 1/4 cup Red Chilies (adjust to taste)
  5. 1 tsp fenugreek seeds (optional)

  1. Dry roast the coriander seeds first for about 4-5 minutes. Add in the cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, pepper corn and the red chilies.
  2. Roast till the red chilies start to get black here and there. Turn off the heat and let it cool.
  3. Transfer the roasted ingredients to a blender and blend to a fairly smooth powder.

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