Choices, choices everywhere

So the rolls were a success, although once again dad decided to pass on them and stick to curry and paratha. He didn’t get the point of putting the curry inside the paratha, when it could be had in the normal way. Tastes the same whether its in or out. Mom did try pretty hard to explain the difference, but without success. But that got me thinking, Is there really any difference? We (Mom and I) changed the presentation of the same two dishes and felt happy that we were eating something different, something that was not “boring subzi paratha”, as mom said. Yes, it tasted good but wouldn’t it have tasted as good even if eaten in the boring old style?
In my parents’ childhood, every meal every day followed a fixed pattern. Lunch was always dal (generally tur/arhar/pigeon peas or whatever you call it), roti and dry aloo sabzi. Variations would only add rice or another sabzi. Sometimes there would be chutney or papad or salad. And that was that. Dinner would be lauki (bottle gourd) curry (because my great grandfather was under doctor’s orders to eat that everyday), paratha, curd and aloo curry made either with tomatoes or with curd. Too much aloo, I know, but at that time no one was really worried about diabetes or counting calories. Special foods like chole bature, puri, paneer, etc were also made at home, but on special ocassions. And the preparation of these dishes would be all that was required to make an ocassion fancy.
Now? I can’t eat the same dal two days in a week. I have to have paneer at least once a week. Aloo isn’t cooked twice everyday, its more like twice in a week now. Pakoras or samosas are no longer just teatime snacks, we make a dinner of them. Burgers, pizzas and noodles are cooked as often as puri and stuffed parathas – which is to say, very frequently. And that is only the food that has replaced the standard dal-roti-subzi combo of homecooked staples. A completely new dimension of eating out has emerged and has added so many new dishes to what I now consider standard fare… naan, kebabs, manchurian (!!!), biryani etc. And you know what? Despite all the variety that is now available to me, all the options I have when it comes to cooking and/or eating, I’m bored with my food choices half the time.
Not only is the variety not exciting anymore, sometimes it doesn’t even reach the acceptable mark. The problem of what to eat has suddenly taken gigantic proportions. I find myself bewildered, confused, and even desperate, every time I have to decide what I want to eat. Forget having to choose between rice and roti (which wasn’t all that long ago, even I remember those golden days of simplicty) today I have a greater number of options in just the kind of food I want. And of course there is the question of where. I’m not very good at math, but even I know enough to be able to tell you that there are near-endless combinations possible. Should I have pizza from domino’s or biryani from dhaawat or make myself a sandwich at home or a soup or maggi noodles or sambhar and rice from curry point or parathas from home or fried rice from campus or fruit or idly from vindu’s or chaat or kachoris or make pulao or egg curry or stuffed paratha or go to hot rottis for a thali or mcdonald’s for burgers or cook paneer tikka or pasta or maggi oh no I already rejected that or have chinese at wonton or popcorn or bhel or coffee or… or… or… ……………………………………..
I think I’m not hungry anymore. I’ll just stay home and read a book and go to sleep.

Anyway, I’d promised y’all the recipe for the Kathi Roll (even though after all that deconstruction of fancy food I’m not sure even I want to eat it again), so here goes.
Paneer – 200 gms
Onions (sliced) -2 medium
Tomatoes (chopped) – 2
Capsicum (sliced) – 1
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tsp
Oil – 2 tsp
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Tomato Ketchup – 2 tbsp
Garam Masala Powder (preferably Rajwadi) – 1 tsp
Salt and Red Chilli Powder to taste
Rumali Rotis from Siddique’s (or somewhere else if you are not in Hyderabad)

Heat oil in a non-stick pan (if you are not using nonstick, up the amount of oil to 2 tbsp.) Add onions and saute till translucent. Add turmeric, chopped tomatoes and ginger-garlic paste. Cook for 2 minutes. Add salt and 1/ cup water, cook for another two minutes. By now the tomatoes should have cooked and become a little sauce-y. Oh yeah, now is a good time to add the ketchup and the red chilli powder. Hold on to the garam masala a little longer though. First add the paneer, capsicum and another 1/2 cup water. Mix, cover and cook for 3-4 minutes. When the capsicum is no longer bright green and is a boring dirty green, its done. Now add the garam masala, check and adjust seasoning and your stuffing is ready.
Of course, if you’re someone like my mother, it can’t be ready till you put a large handful of chopped coriander leaves into it. So do that, and then its ready. Voila! Roll up in a rumali roti and enjoy.

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4 thoughts on “Choices, choices everywhere

  1. I guess reading this at office at 5:30 when u still have an hour to go before getting out was a bad idea…I'm MONSTROUSLY hungry now! I think its interesting that as spoilt as we are for choices, we usually settle into patterns…and keep going back to the same foods and same places sometimes. What do you think about that? OOOOOOOOOOh…and I really hope you write on the different "hungers" we all have…er…I mean…I'm hungry for Siddique's chicken today types 😀 hehe…~phew~

  2. Totally understand the problem of plenty and difficulty in making a choice. Passion leads you to search for ideal combinations and for someone who is so much into cooking and looking at various aspects of food, I guess you just can't arrive at that every time you think about cooking/eating out. Reminds me of Apple CEO Steve Jobs who had no furniture in his house at one point since he was obsessed with good design and no furniture design could meet his expectations when he went shopping. And yeah, just like Jyotsna, reading your blog has made me hungry. Lunch is long digested so am gonna go get myself a Biryani parceled from Dawaat 🙂

  3. Thank you Manu, although I wish I could have read your name and not have to depend on that tiny photo to identify you. I think you should make the kathi rolls next time you go home… what do you think?@ Jo: Thanks for the suggestion… maybe I'll take that up one of these days. Still sort of just going with the flow, so don't know when that will happen, but that's a brilliant idea! Will try to work it in sometime! @ Soumalya: I think the main reason for this problem is that we have gotten so used to our desires being fulfilled, its really confusing when there is no desire… There's no longer a 'standard' to go back to in the absence of your craving for something special. So when I'm not particularly wanting something specific, I don't know what to eat!

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