Sunday, August 30, 2015

1 Food Fix & 3 Lessons to Cherish

Food is an integral part of my life. Yes, I’m a foodie. No, it’s no confession, it’s a fact. A fact that I’ve accepted gracefully as a part of my life. More so, there have been instances where I’ve planned my day around food. So eating for me can be emotional, celebratory and sometimes irrational. I love hosting people for food as it builds wonderful memories. And of course I can share a story from some memorable experiences that have been closely associated with food.

I can recall a time when I was away from home. This was in the year 2010 in Bangalore, where I was visiting the garden city to appear for GD/PIs for higher studies. I was there for about a week, and a college friend had invited me over to her flat for the three day stay. I was overwhelmed with the hospitality that she showed me for the week that I stayed with her. She being a foodie like me, served me with yummy local cuisines as and when I was studying and preparing for the GD/PIs. Right from Gobi Manchurian, Kurma, Puliogare to Paneer Butter Masala with Parotta, Filter Coffee and Buns, I had the food and the effervescent company of my dear friend. After the GD/PI, I was spared with another day before I returned to Mumbai. Moved by her warm reception and hospitality, I promised to treat her and her roommates to dinner; I insisted despite her trepidation and her sincere "it-is-ok-you-don’t-have-to".

Lesson 1: Don’t make promises when you’re happy and don’t make decisions when you’re angry’. 

I had decided, I’ll order the food in from the same restaurant where I had sampled Gobi Manchurian and Paneer Butter Masala, at 8.30PM since the girls returned from work at 9PM. And so at around 8.00 PM I ventured out into the streets of Malleshwaram, searching for Ice cream. It was pouring in early of June – very unlike Mumbai I had thought – and I saw that the nearby shops slowing closing their shutters. I reached the Havmor ice cream shop and saw that it too was about to shut for the day. I asked him why they were shutting shop so early, to which he said in broken english-kannada – “Illa Closing time in Bangalore ees 8.30” And only some ice cream and chemists were open till 9.00 PM or so.


Lesson Two: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

And I shrieked! This was not Mumbai! Bangalore restaurants shut waaaaaaay early! No '10 PM parcel jaldi bhejna'- order here. There goes my dinner treat, I thought. When I asked where I can get a hot dinner to eat, he scratched his head and told me to run, literally run down the temple road street and look for a restaurant called Sairam’s who might be open right now. Sensing every minute ticking I rushed to the street with the help of his directions and made it to Sairam's. And it was no restaurant, it was a chaat corner!


I was wondering whether Mumbai-kar was tattooed to my forehead which is perhaps why the shopkeeper made the suggestion. Anyways, with no choice left, I had to make the best of the situation and ordered a variety of chaat to take away. I also packed a few piping hot Mangalore bhajjis that a nearby tea packed tea stall was churning. As I reached back and dumped the ice cream in the freezer, I smacked my head in the lack of planning I had. 

Having gotten drenched in the rains, I dried myself up and then headed to assemble the dining table, crockery and the “dinner”. I readied myself to withstand the disappointment and crestfallen face that my otherwise cheerful friend will have and the snide backhanded comments that she might get from her roomies after I leave. Sigh!
And in no time, it was 9 and the girls were back. Though there was no wafting aroma of the paneer butter masala welcoming them in, I made sure I at least had the presentation top notch. After they had freshened up I welcomed them with some lime coolers followed by the bhajjis. Oohs and Aahs commenced. I smiled wryly. I could sense their hunger and anticipation. Silently I brought out the food and placed it in front.

I remember to this day, all I could manage to say is 'Tuck in’. A long pause followed.

Because after that the three of them smiled broadly and loaded their plates with the chaats.
I was flabbergasted. They’re animatedly eating and enjoying the chaat platter. No. They’re stuffing their faces full. 

My friend managed a ‘so yum’ and a ‘I miss Mumbai’between bites of sevi puri and mouthfuls of pani puri. I had a broad grin on my face as I was basking in their moment of food bliss. Three rounds of ice cream followed with ‘thank you for the yummy treat’ in chorus.

Too tired to explain the chain of events that preceded the evening, I called it a night. The next day I explained to them over filter kaapi and buns of how I had goofed up.

Lesson 3: Always try and make the most of the situation.

Post the round of giggles and nodding that followed, my friend said to me “Arre yaar, honestly I was going to tell you not to order from the same place as we’re kinda bored of eating Bangalore food. In fact it was a welcome change. And you know how I crave sev puri!


I was really relieved to hear this that I had not disappointed her and not embarrassed her in front of her friends. And her roomies had asked me for the nook’s place that I had found thanks to the shopkeeper and the law of serendipity. To this day, this wonderful food memory remains a talking point between my friend and me. We may be in different parts of the world, but whenever we have chaat in a foreign city, we’re bound to recall this incident.


So that was my tale. Me in a different city, with different social timelines and languages and of course different food. This situation could’ve perhaps turned out differently, had I know when the restaurants shut and open for business, what was best to order from those restaurants and save me the trouble of the commute.

Only a Tiny Owl could’ve perhaps been my knight in shining armour in this food fix. The Tiny Owl app. is what I'm referring to. How? The app tracks my location to check the restaurants in my area. Where I could’ve seen where I could order Paneer Butter Masala and Gobi Manchurian from and when cravings overcame me – Sairam’s chaat. Moreover, it could’ve given me a heads up as to when the restaurants would shut and save me the effort of running around in deserted Bangalore streets searching for sustenance.

TinyOwl is a mobile first food delivery app available on Android and iOS. They don’t have a web version. Don’t be deceived by the name – this tiny delivery app delivery to 400+ people with 2000+ daily orders in association with 4000 restaurants. They also have an app for home-made food delivery called Tiny Owl Homemade. What’s more, Tiny Owl is going to launch a platform for internet-first food start-ups. As they expand their footprint across 50 cities in India, I hope they help foodies like me to find food faster devoid of any food fixes and goof ups.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Speediriffic 4G

Speed is everything!

Really, is these fast paced times where every split second matters, speed is everything. We want in fast and now! Be it beating the clock to reach work or school, finishing our daily chores or googling the latest AIB video!

If you ask me, personally, in this day and age I feel speed is synonymous to the internet. How fast can one search, access, consume, interpret and analyse the terabytes data and information that is penetrating the inter-web every nano second? Videos, images, music, movies, blogs, podcasts, tweets are consumed on-the-go and on demand in personal screens and devices.

Did we picture this, say just 15 years ago?

Of course, not! It was then that India has just been bit by the internet bug and the information age had begun. Back in 2003, I can recall how it took me half an hour to connect to the internet at access my emails, on my personal home computer.

And fast forward to 2015, where it takes one barely 30 seconds to stream a 2 minute video on YouTube. But, what is more phenomenal is what has just been introduced for the first time in India by Airtel: Airtel 4G.

The fourth generation of mind-blowing internet speeds is perhaps the essential ingredient to a digitally powered nation!

Across India, 296 cities will be able to effortlessly stream high quality HD videos of Sunny Leone’s Baby Doll for the umpteenth time, download an entire Sunny Deol movie, listen to the music from the latest chart topping hits on Saavn, access real-time tweets on Twitter from the Prime Minister himself, upload and share Honeymoon/Karva Chaut/Doggie birthday photos on Facebook and upload videos to YouTube of their children dancing to the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Hot Dog theme song!

Personally life for me will get 4X better with 4G. 
On a regular day, I would download the Zomato app, quickly scan for the newest restaurants in Mumbai, download the UBER app and book a ride to the restaurant, download and play candy crush till I reach the restaurant, then upload gastronomically yummy food photos on my Instagram account as and when it gets served to me. While I savour the food, I would check-in through Foursquare and Swarm, rave and tweet on Twitter and later write about it in a blog post on my blog and post it on blogger networks and Zomato. All this speedirrifcally!

Airtel is ready to give 4G services at 3G rates, and even home deliver your 4G SIM card! So get ready to say your goodbyes to buffering videos, slow download speeds and mood dampeners of the past. Say hello fast internet for real time generation and real time consumption. So fasten your seat belts for this joy speed ride. I bet it is going to be AMA-no need to wait for it-ZING!

Amazing opportunities with #Airtel4G await! 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

My recipe for an Italian escapade

A decade ago, the only Italian food I knew of was 'Pizza'. I used to junk on Pizzas so much that Italy was the destination I craved to visit (And still is).

Gradually, I was introduced to 'the brother of pizzas', the pasta. Usually, to Indians, pasta is what one eats at a pizza place as a starter. At some point, I too believed the same. But as I was educated to the world of Italian cuisine, thanks to my dear husband, I was now well acquainted with the types of pastas, the types of sauces, the flavour combinations, the cheeses and was proud to have the knowledge to distinguish between a lasagna and a ravioli.

And then one fine day, Del Monte came along with their flavourful contest - Del Monte: Blog Your Way to Italy- on creating an original recipe of their Pasta to win an all expenses paid Italian escapade. (I bet some of you reading this, did not know Del Monte beyond their ketchup. You're welcome :P)

Thoroughly eggcited, I signed up. A few days alter, as promised, I received a packet of Del Monte's Durum Wheat Premium Chifferi Rigati Pasta, all carefully packed with a printed letter. My gastronomical adoration for pasta knows no bounds, but I needed to get my creative juices flowing in in creating an original recipe.

My ticket to Italy :D

So I sought some expert guidance (yes, from my hubby) on creating pasta with some subtle Indian flavours for those who cannot have a lot of spice (the elderly and young children).

So sample a taste of Gauri's original recipe, with step by step instructions:

Chifferi Rigati with Saffron and Garlic

Serves: 4

Preparation Time: 15 minutes


About 250 gms Del Monte's Chifferi Rigati Pasta
1 Zucchini cut into bite sized pieces
1 Yellow Bell pepper cut into bite sized pieces
1 Broccoli cut in florets
1/2 Onion finely chopped
7-8 cloves of garlic finely chopped
3-4 tsps of Oil (Olive oil is best)
1-2 tsps Oregano flakes
Salt as per taste

For the White Sauce:
7-8 Strands of saffron
1 tbsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
200 ml Milk
2 tsps Butter
2-3 tsps Refined flour (Maida)

For Garnish:
Grated Mozzarella cheese


  • In a pot, bring water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook till al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander and add a tbsp of oil. Set aside.

What I really adored is the thoughtful little hack Del Monte has adapted on their pasta packets with a reclosable safety seal, to seal back your pasta packet for the next use.

  • In another pot, bring water to a boil. Add the veggies till cooked. Drain in a colander and pour cold water over the veggies to retain their crunch and lively colour. Set aside.
Blanched zucchini

Blanched Broccoli

You can also add mushrooms, red bell pepper and other veggies if desired.

  • In a thick bottomed saucepan, melt the butter and add the cornflour little by little. Beat vigorously using a whisk. 

  • Reduce the heat, and gradually add in about 150ml of the milk till there are no lumps. Take off the heat and let it cool.
  • Warm the remaining milk in a microwave for 5-10 seconds and then add the saffron strands; soak the saffron, till it dissipates the rich colour and aroma. Add this to the other milk mix.

  • Once this mix cools a little, add the kashmiri red chilli powder and add salt as per taste and strain.

  • Heat the oil in a wide saucepan. On high heat saute the garlic for 1-2 minutes. Toss in the onions till translucent. Add the veggies, and saute for a few minutes.
  • On low heat, add in the sauce gradually mixing in with the veggies. Mix well. The combine with the cooked Del Monte pasta.

  • Sprinkle the oregano flakes. Serve hot with a garnish of grated cheese and garlic bread sides.

And then served it to all in my family. And I basked in the reflected joy in their content faces!
And in Italian as they say,"Bellissimo!" sums up my experience!

That's my pasta story, lemme know your thoughts!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Taking the #Airtel4GSpeedTest

Necessities 20 years ago - Roti, Kapda, Makaan.
Our necessities today - Roti, Kapda, Makaan and 24* 7 Internet access.

Don't you agree?

Technology is an indispensable part of our lives, the internet adds life to technology. In fact with majority tech users wanting to access information on-the-go, internet is as essential as oxygen. And with a faster internet speed, life is undoubtedly better. And who wouldn't like to be the zippiest in accessing information at the go on one's fingertips?

The latest advancement in internet surfing is - 4G. This fourth generation wireless technology adds a whole new dimension to internet surfing. For the first time in India, 4G speeds will be the fastest mode of surfing the internet - literally lightning fast- thanks to Airtel.

Gone will be the days of staring at the screen for the website to load or for the HD video download to complete. With apps for ordering the latest trendy Dior earrings to disposable nappies, one needs a fast, reliable internet connection.

So, I checked it out for myself. Airtel has recently introduced 4G and has pioneered a unique initiative where users could interactively assess downloads using 4G speeds in comparison with 3G and 2G speeds.

All you need to do is Tweet to Airtel's twitter handle @airtelindia in the following format:

Intrigued and excited to check out the most advance and latest technology, I tested it out myself.
I took the #Airtel4GSpeedTest to check the download time for downloading the Instagram app.
And I was truly amazed with the speed results!

Here, check out the results yourself:

The Instagram app is 8.03MB in size. Download of which takes more than half an hour in 2G speeds, 53 seconds in 3G and a mere blink of 8 seconds in 4G!

Who wouldn’t want to get 4G - the latest piece of technology with high-level speeds of up to 100 Mbps in an ideal environment - for accessing high definition-HD video streaming on YouTube, photo uploads on Instagram, music downloads on Saavn and much more.

4G opens up possibilities!

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