Friday, October 29, 2010


When the magazine goes to press, a happiness descends, light and sparkling after all the vulgar exhausting hard work. One needs to listen to music that doesn't demand anything from you. Like really, Norah Jones types.
And then a huge chocolate cake arrives from some arts council. 
Delight, well deserved. 

Also, since I am free for a day, I feel like vomiting all thoughts on blog.

Rats,Dogs and me.

"First you lived in a godforsaken village, then you moved to a rat hole, and then to a dog hole, and now you are insanely ill." This is how C described my life recently and I suddenly and self indulgently began to indulge in (the in retrospect kind of) self pity.

Dude, seriously, ever since I moved to North India, I have been facing insane situations 

1) So NINE months ago, I ventured north of the Vindhyas to a village in Uttar Pradesh.The experience to me was almost, well, hate to use the word, but EXOTIC. 
   I loved the err..quaint villages, the quiet Ganges, the long boat rides and of course the daily trips to dozens of villages, collecting data and realising the ridiculousness of government schemes in UP . I  had been frivolously exposed  to what they(who) called real India  - Covering Deprivation trip, Rural School Teaching Program- you know the excesses of alternative education na? Uttar Pradesh was more than I was prepared for. Pradhan Confrontations, teenage girls eloping with boys while pretending to be in school and then hiding in sugar cane fields, milk served warm from buffalo breast, twenty cups of chai a day,"I killed him because he looked at my sister", being told that it was bad Hindus like me who pollluted the ganges, awesome lunches and birthday parties,dawats for the birth of sons, nose ring shopping, squeezing cute children,the best holi ever,salwar kameez shopping, the begining of immune system breakdown etc. Also, long rides on buffalo carts-aiyo how to explain all this without sounding like gora volunteer who flew from Alabama somewhere to Anoopsheher direct? 

2) Now, after my work was done in the village, I had no interest in returning to the comforts of Bangalore.In Bangalore. I had only two real job options- one was working for the features page for a daily or financial reporting for some wire that paid pretty insanely well. Death only. 

 So, I continued at this very generous and amazing NGO in Delhi and considered looking for another journalism job. I lived in their office which was full of rats because it also doubled up as storage space for all sorts of things. Every time I entered the kitchen, a rat would dash past.So, just in order to avoid this sight, I would warn him before I entered.Make a lot of noise, put on the light(while not looking) and then enter the place. Because, if I don't see him, he doesn't exist and his sewaged footprints are not  resting under the dal and rice on my plate, na? (IF anyone has seen Khirki Village, where the office is, they will know the potency of sewage there.) 

3)Dogs.I finally found a job and a house with room mates and  two street dogs.I am animal lover enough to be vegetarian.But these dogs would shit and piss in the living room so much so that in the morning I had to daintily walk an obstacle race so as to not desecrate my Dilli haat chappals with canine urine.Plus one of the dogs was named Pussy and was schizophrenic. Also the drain in the bathroom was always clogged with dog hair and for the longest time I accused C of hair fall because my hair is black and straight and not like the dirty blonde fuzz in the drains.He became vain and started googling hair doctors.

Now, I am a messy girl. I curl up on my mattress in a way that I don't disturb all the magazines and books lying around. But this experience was so traumatic that I seriously began to develop a vulgar form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that according to C makes it impossible for him to travel with me in the third world. Yeah right, only South of France from now on. 

UFF . I want to stop existing with such uncool predicaments. 

Anyway, finally I have clean nice house with nice room mate. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Because leaving Delhi for a bit

makes you realise you don't like it as much as you thought you did....


fried now,no time 2 tell y,bye. 

Whaaaaaaaaat why and all you ask da macha?lets put off one beer.

Because the boss said so behenchodddddddddddddddd

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Welcome to the museum of Contemporary art. In the shadow of the Qutub, large bright rooms are framed by flowing white curtains, and all the exhibits are exceptional and edible. Here a pecan pie marries Diwali with a topping of Cardamom ice cream. Ingredients put on costumes never seen before and staid dishes are demolished and glamourised by the wand of artistry. You start with breathing some Reconstructed Minestrone. A collage of tomato, onions, truffle oil and pasta with a whiff of parmesan ice cream, all like mousse, not soup. Warm bread (bread with soul, not New India multigrain bread) and you hand grind pesto with roasted vegetables with a mortar and pestle taking your time to ponder over a starter. Goat Cheese Souffle(`425) ,the robustness of goat cheese with the silk of a soufflĂ© and then a fusion drama of caramelized pecan nuts, chilli jam around the main piece. We also picked the Mystic Salmon with Poached Organic Egg (`545)-salmon fresh as if caught an hour back an a Norwegian fjord,smoked in-house with apple wood and cured. Between sips of dreamy berry toned Chilean red wine, we were served mango sorbet with watermelon caviar to usher us into the main course. The Meditteranean (`525)Vegetable Filo Pie disappointed, relatively, a bit plebian like veg patty at the metro station although the tossed vegetables and honey sauce tossed around the main affair added a nice touch. The Cajun and Roasted Pecan Nut Basa (`695) was served on bed of thinly sliced potatoes with a creamy caper sauce, perfectly offset by vegetables and fresh Thai lemon. To end, try the Maple glazed pecan pie `395 with warm toffee sauce, fig and honey ice cream or Tiramisu (`325) reinterpreted somewhat, airy coffee and chocolate , not confined by cake like limitations. Here at Olive, the produce shines, speaks for itself and if we could give a ****1/2, we would.



Meal for two: `4000

OLIVE AT THE QUTUB One style Mile, Behind, Mehrauli Ph: 29574444

Chef Saby's interview 

Describe the Delhi customer.


 Oh. Very refined. The reason that I have made Delhi home is that. Bombay of course has its charm and glamour and its Bollywood. Here I was cooking for the Bacchan family and the Ambani family and everything in between. If I have to do a dinner for Neeta Ambani who is having five ambassadors of different countries there is no question of experimentation, you know. This is my 17th year of cooking and now I am trying to do little here and there. I feel that I have traveled enough, done enough; I understand basic flavours and recipes very well.


What cuisines are you most inspired by?


Internationally, food barriers have broken; there are not cuisine boundaries anymore. In London they will say new or contemporary, not Italian and Chinese. I personally am inspired by European, American as well as Eastern - Japanese and Chinese cuisines.


Food as art/philosophy



As I got into cooking, I realised I wanted to express myself and please people with art or music and that food was the best medium for me. As an artist you get inspired by landscapes and portraits and nature. I started taking my inspiration from fruits and vegetables and these are the basics. In art school, in the first few months they tell you to stick to drawing straight lines .If you are good at it; you can go to a circle in six months.  I wanted to start copying Vincent Van Gogh on day one. No body wants to go through those steps anymore. Earlier we were fighting to get ingredients but now lots of the chefs get very confused with so much choice and it ends up being khichdi cuisine. I see a lot of people using Wasabi. If you don't know its background, its origin, what it is, and you loosely start using it, it just doesn't work. Today it is a very big world. You can do anything from anywhere I get lost at times. What do I cook with there is so much options. I am so worried, so scared -280 varieties of cheese in a grocery shop. , cuisine is lot about the culture, understanding the people the food, the ingredients, the philosophy. It's more than just cooking. Unless you understand that, food is not going to have soul.


Signature Dish

I don't have one. I give equal importance to every dish I make. But here's the recipe for Goat cheese soufflé.


What are the best wines to accompany European food?

To start with I will recommend some Indian wines. If you are looking at Indian wines, sula has some decent white wines, and Grover does lovely red wines.

Recently I was so upset with myself because I had two bottles of wine from London and I didn't keep them in the fridge because , you know wine vibrates , it isn't good but I discovered they were spoilt. You should take care of wines, make them breathe well, buy them from shops with air conditioned cellars.



What are food trends to look out for?


24 hour restaurants, not coffee shops but places that actually serve good food all night, not necessarily gourmet. Breakfast places like Balthazar in New York. There aren't any here. Parisian Style Cafes which serve coffees, paninis, sandwiches all day. I see a huge demand for quick Japanese takeaways.


What are the food trends in the art of cooking itself?


Ingredients. In France people want to know where the chicken is coming from, what it was fed, how many metres of space it got to roam around, Was it caged? We are coming out of the phase of the economic crisis, the idea of being a third world country, our outlook will change we will start demanding this knowledge here.



You are known for sourcing local ingredients and adapting it to the cuisines you cook, tell us ingredients you have discovered?


Many Many. I am always traveling and discovering. I discovered this sticky black rice in the North East which I use for sushi and it is not even known to the Delhi palette but it works beautifully. I pick up snails and oysters from the Indian Ocean. I use wild mushrooms picked by tribal women in the North East. They can never imagine why I'd want to buy them because it grows abundantly there. I get passion fruit which I am very proud of from there too. Fruits from Garwhal. I have Thai suppliers too.  



An ingredient you can't live without?

Nothing. People have come up to me and said they want food without salt and I have done it. The most basic ingredient. Nowadays you can't say you need this particular ingredient or you can't cook.


What is your comfort food?

Indian food always. Kerala food. A Malabar Paratha with fish curry maybe.


Favourite restaurants in Delhi


I keep eating a lot of street food; you know during the whole Id season, I was at Purani Delhi. I love Food Chowk. They bring street food but it's the experts from Parathey Waley gulley, then the Nizams etc doing it. It is food with History and not just the regular mall food courts which can be soulless. I like these snacks, a Pav Bhaji, a Dabeli , a nice Dosa.


blooper of the day:
Mein ek patrika hun. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I put so much nazar on my immunity by
1)laughing at all fragile bellied white people
2)at people who don't do things-like drink cold water etc , because they WILL fall sick
4)people who think a 6 hour work day is bad
5)people who crib, who have weekends off

that God punished me by making me so ill,always.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Compulsive Decadence

IT is quite alright to be practically decadent, to spend your money on a fridge, a closet full of shiny synthetic sarees you can drape 
at weddings, a cupboard to keep books in , instead of piling them up on a floor. But I am the other kind of decadence, I invest in things that will ultimately be dispelled out as shit. Merde.

Yesterday, I went shopping, hoping to buy something decent to wear for a friend's wedding.I obviously do not , or more importantly, can not 
afford a designer lehenga that costs a whole month's salary. So I thought I'll look for something cheaper and went to shopper's stop but every thing was too tacky for my taste so have started begging sufi slut, room mate etc to bail me out of this mess. 

The point however is that, we decided to go to ai after failing at shopping. And ordered insanely expensive Japanese food. (I can never like Japanese food. I am vegetarian and I love veg sushi however uncool that makes me sound but nothing else.) And suddenly , it occurred to me. 
If I actually gave up my expensive food addiction, I would have that much money every month with which to buy these fancy clothes. 

That's how much I spend at expensive restaurants week after week. I need rehab. Fast. 

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Camel Back!

Just got back from Jaipur and Pushkar. Jaipur dissapointed,crowded and slightly blah.Even the shopping wasn't gush-worthy.The last time I was in Jodhpur, I was 17 and I found myself in the godown of a shop amidst a mountain of bags, going utterly crazy. Either Rajasthan isn't still amazing or I have grown up so much that I buy crap only discerningly.
Anyhow, Pushkar was quiet, kaliyug and beautiful if in a dry decidous way.I took a camel safari hoping for Saharan sand dunes but only got patchy green stretches of land.Of course, I took pictures in the few patches of sand that were available,omitting the green. I will post pictures soon.But the camel ride and the bus ride that followed (with babies lining the aisles) has destroyed my back. I can't walk properly aaaaaaaah, it really hurts to be in office sitting all day in front of a computer.