August 2015, Boston – U.S.A

Of good food, and foodie friends!!!


After a great vacation and a wonderful silver wedding celebration of my parents, made even more memorable than ever in New Jersey with Rupa, Ranganath and my dearest bundles of joy Priyanka and Vikram, it was time for mom and dad to return to Mumbai, and for me to return to my base in Boston. It was quite a dull night, back in Boston, more so because I had spent close to a whole month with my two most favorite people in this world. However, all said and done, it was time to get back to work, time to come out of the dream world of New Jersey and get back to reality in Boston. And what better a way make the most of the remaining three months of summer, than indulging in one of my most favorite pastimes-dishing out yummy delicacies!!!
With no load from courses and plenty of free time in hand, I found a great opportunity to experiment with my culinary skills; something for which I remain indebted forever to my mom and my grandfather, both expert cooks themselves!
I started of with a rich and aromatic Paneer Butter Masala and had Afzal and Anurag home for dinner, along with Sai and Khozaima, my roommates. I’m happy to say, it was really well appreciated. There’s been no looking back after that. Well, I have always been interested in cooking, and have dished out Mysore rasam and potato Kara curry, ragada patties etc. and other dishes every now and then. The interest has been there from the time I dished out my first maggi when I was nine I guess, under my grandfather’s watchful eyes. I can say that most of my passion for cooking and serving good food stems from his own undying passion for the same. For those who don’t know, to this date I haven’t eaten a phulka chapati that comes even close to the ones that he used to make- silky and soft, melt in the mouth!
Coming back to the paneer butter masala, I then thought, hey this isn’t as difficult as it seems. The best motivation a passionate cook can get is genuine appreciation. With no dearth of that, (enter Senthil), I was only prodded to dish out more delicacies 🙂
A fiery Bharleli vangi kicked of this culinary summer. Fiery it was indeed!! Pan khayla khup anand aala!
I have this penchant for googling recipes which we wouldn’t normally think of making at home and rather prefer having those dishes at our neighborhood restaurant (JMP Zindabad 🙂 ).
And so it started. Your friends can indeed be the best guinea pigs when you want to experiment your dishes on someone. Well, on that aspect, it’s  been a good going for me so far. One Sunday evening, it was lasagna for dinner. So off I went to our neighborhood supermarket, Shaws. And while buying the groceries for lasagna, I also bought everything needed to make well, uhm, burritos!!! That’s a good reason why a foodie must go grocery shopping. Well, it’s also the one reason why a foodie shouldn’t go grocery shopping, ‘coz he wouldn’t know when to stop buying :P. I am sure mummy would second me on this!
And we had a memorable Italian dinner indeed, not to forget Mr. Anurag’s quintessential ” amazing! amazing amazing!” and not to mention, his occasional bouts of switching to “shuddh” queen’s English every now and then, bhai, su vaat che!!
And we brought Mexico home two days later, with homemade burritos. Making guacamole at home isn’t a big deal at all! Another memorable dinner indeed, with my guinea pigs, (:P)err, friends, Khozaima, Anurag and Senthil.
Hmm, enough of firangi khana, it was time to get back to home ground now. And out.  of the blue, I remembered my trip to Udaipur with my parents back in 2012. Needless to say, I instantly recollected that piping hot Dal Bati Churma of Nataraj restaurant in Udaipur. Hmm, I needed Dal Bati Churma. But how and where? That too in the heart of Boston? Solution, make it at home!
With help from the vah-chef Sanjay Thumma’s video, his trademark “namaste satsriakal salamwalaikum” notwithstanding  I decided to give it a try. So here was Rajasthan, in.  my little kitchen at 75 Strathmore road. Same A-K-S trio again for dinner. Rajasthani bhojan we ” Jee Bavro Ho Gayo Bhaaya!!”
This was followed by a lull. A dearth of ideas maybe. You could call it the lull before the storm. Quite literally, ‘coz just last week, Boston was pounded by golf-ball sized hail and a downpour that reminded me of Mumbai monsoons! For all you folks out there, no, I wasn’t thinking of adrak wali chai and pakoras this time! Sorry, niraash kar diya!
But don’t get so Niraash yet! There’s bright sunshine once the storm passes. This time, sunshine reminiscent of the lush golden fields of ‘Punjab’.  Chak de phatte, Dal makhani was on its way!
With groceries, and naan from a little Indian store called ‘Allston market’ ( mind you, it’s your neighborhood kirana dukaan, not a market), voila! Finished it off with naan, (Allston market again!), with help from A-K-S again!
It’s only a little more than a fortnight left before all of us are back to the grind, with BU’s relentless schedule with assignments, midterms, and most importantly, job-hunt!! Sigh! In case u have forgotten, I’m also doing my M.S. here at BU! (Courtesy daddy :P)
For now, it would just be an encore of some of these dishes, more so with the Nizam of Hyderabad a.k.a. Sai back in town. But it won’t be long before my next culinary blog. Till then, enjoy, keep smiling, God bless!!!!
Lots of love,
Rohit Lakshmanan.