Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Classic Indian Beauty

April 10, 2012

It was a rainy and cold Saturday night when I felt like watching a good old Amitabh movie and after going through the list, I decided on a more romantic one, Silsila . This movie was loosely based on the alleged Amitabh-Rekha affair. But despite some great acting and a poignant story it was a flop.

However, what inspired this blog is not the movie but Rekha. She was at the peak of her career. She had lost some weight which she attributed to Jane Fonda workouts which made her chiseled features and expressive eyes stand out. Added to this were her husky voice, acting skills and perfect diction of Hindi that made her reach dizzying heights professionally. Who can forget her in Umrao Jaan where she even spoke Urdu like a pro!

"Rekha in Umrao Jaan"

A beautiful face with expressive eyes is the quintessential classic Indian beauty which you will not just find in Bollywood but all over India. A few years ago a fellow American had asked me why Indian women are not sexy-looking (he worded it respectfully so it was not derogatory). The background for this question was that we had a huge bunch of Indians in our office, no thanks to outsourcing and he being a young guy and still unhitched was constantly on the lookout. His question got me thinking and in a way he was right.

An average Indian woman has a freshly scrubbed beautiful face, deep set huge eyes with hardly any makeup. They are usually petite and have a pear-shaped figure which unfortunately diminishes their sex appeal in Western clothing because the clothes are cut to perfection and proportion. But drape us in a Sari and lo behold! Do we look sexy? The sari plays peek-a-boo with the body accentuating and exposing only the best at certain angles. Added to this with our culture being a little conservative towards exposing skin, those who do have hour-glass figures go unnoticed.

How about some more examples of such beautiful faces from Bollywood through the years –

Madhubala: She started her film career when she was barely 14 and won the hearts and minds of not only all the Indians but also Hollywood. Did you know that she was featured in many American magazines Theatre Arts had an extensive Article on her “The Biggest Star in the World (And She’s Not in Beverly Hills)”. Her captivating looks and her enchanting smile has transcended style, ethnicity and time.

"Madhubala"

Waheeda Rehman: A graceful dancer and a talented actress with high cheek bones, expressive eyes and a teasing smile!

"Waheeda Rehman"

Sharmila Tagore: Well, not many people would call her a classic Indian beauty. She did not have typical Bengali features with a perfect round face but she had her own appeal with eyes that spoke volumes coupled with dimpled smile. She also had a great slim figure, one of the rare Indian women who could confidently sport a two-piece bikini in those times and looking good too.

"Sharmila Tagore"

Aishwarya Rai, Miss World 1994: She is one actress who has equal and opposite reactions among women. There are intense hate clubs who cannot fathom this flawless creation of God and hate her superfluous beauty and then there are fans besotted by this shockingly perfect woman. I too am torn and confused by her looks. She is too perfect to the point where she comes across sometimes as an overly made up doll. Her giggling persona fills me with disgust but again I wonder if that’s her way of diverting a journalists’ brazen questions. I think she needs a reminder every five minutes that “less is more”.

"Aishwarys Rai"

But if anyone in today’s times were to symbolize classic Indian beauty then it is Vidya Balan. Always criticized by journalists and fellow colleagues in the film industry for being on the heavier side and wearing clothes that only brought out the fact that she was not thin, she has kept her head high and has clinched the best roles and more recently a National Award. She too has a beautiful expressive face with a great acting talent and all I can say is she truly represents an average Indian woman.

"Vidya Balan"

Of course, make-up has played a huge role to enhance their beauty since they are professional actresses. But an average Indian woman hardly uses any. Make-up in India usually consists of an occasional moisturizer, pressed powder, kohl liner for the eye or eyeliner and lipstick. I never knew what a primer was until I came to the US. I think it could be lack of commercialization in Indian society until the 90s that I survived this heavy make-up gluttony that we see in the US. However now that India is an open market, the international cosmetic companies with mega advertising budget are changing the mindset of the younger people. The need to look and dress like a Westerner has reached a never before high today but the love for food is equally at its peak. Let’s see what the future generation of Indian women will warp into.

But for now I can still say it is the simplicity and natural looks that adorn Indian women. There is a love for a good life, friendship and lots of food.

"Indian Woman"

Image courtesy: “Indian Woman”

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Way to a man’s heart?

March 23, 2010

I am sure all of you have heard of this old adage “ Way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”.  🙂 I think I came across this saying when I was 12 or 13. You see, my mom used to read Woman’s Era a lot and I would sneak intoa couple of pages especially to read a column called “How I met my husband” where the readers would share their love stories. I know, I know, Woman’s Era and me? I was 12, c’mon! And, till date I am a die-hard romantic and love reading real love stories.

So, I remember asking my mom about this stomach and heart connection. I was pretty good in science and I knew that the esophagus doesn’t touch the heart in any way. My mom explained to me about how guys love food and blah, blah, blah! No, it’s not because it’s blah but I just felt like humming Keisha’s song! But you know, women of that generation revere men and I am a Generation X and I believe in an egalitarian society.

So, as I grew up, I had a mixed feeling about cooking and cooking for your husband. Anyway, most importantly, I hated the daily routine cooking but if it’s a new dish, a gourmet food, I was game. ‘Coz I love challenges and believe me please, simple things are too complicated sometimes!

So, I knew how to cook dishes like Palak Paneer or Chole (I am a South Indian so these dishes are specialty to us) but didn’t know how to make sambar or even a simple curry. And, I fell in love with a guy who not just loved food but he knew “taste”. He liked all kinds of food as long as it’s done well, a true food connoisseur. When we were dating, I hadn’t realized it yet and I used to take my mom’s best dishes that he loved, especially for him to eat. There, I was already living the adage but I wasn’t the cook. I don’t think I even made the effort to fill the box by myself. And, I don’t think even he realized what he was getting into. Oh! The best days are when you are blindly in love.

So, we finally got married and the reality sunk in. Forget reaching his heart, my inability to cook a perfect dish was a blow to my own sentiments, ultimate bane on a woman. For those of you who know me well, they will understand that I don’t like losing. Well, who does, anyway!

Sweet guy as he is, my husband did not criticize anything or me. In fact, he would help me. I finally learnt how to make sambar. Don’t laugh but by far that has been the hardest dish for me to learn. A South Indian sambar is a delicate mélange of salt, spice and sourness with a tinge of sweet. But you see I cannot cook the Indian way, measuring with my eyes! I like to measure everything in a propah English way with a measuring cups.

Anyway, 2 years into my marriage and after coming here to the US, I finally learnt cooking, not just Indian but I dabble into all kinds of cuisines. I have more time in the evenings as we come home from work on time, one of the few luxuries of being here. So, I am putting this axiom to full use. Although I already have won my husband’s heart, that is not the goal but it’s the look on his face while he is eating a dish that has been cooked to perfection. And, a couple of times he has even remarked that it tastes just like his mother used to make. Wow! It is the best compliment that a woman can get trust me.

A Vegetarian in a Steakhouse!

September 23, 2009

What happens when a vegetarian finds herself in a steakhouse?

Her choices are probably going to be one of the following –       

a) She starves

b) She eats just the salad

c) She succumbs to her hunger and eats meat (Impossible, right?)

d) She doesn’t go in the first place (spoilt sport!)

You probably might have guessed by now that I am a vegetarian. Before I go any further, I just want to clarify one thing because I get this all the time (eyes rolling!). I am only a vegetarian, not a vegan. A Vegan eats neither the meat nor dairy while vegetarians do eat dairy, just not the meat, although, I sneak in eggs in my diet much to the chagrin of my fellow vegetarians.

Couple of weeks ago, I had to attend a business dinner at a steakhouse, not just any steakhouse but a Brazilian steakhouse, Fogo de Chao.

Fogo de Chao

One of my colleagues who had been to this restaurant before, gave me a heads up saying that they don’t just serve steak but they carry it around on skewers and they go around continuously bringing 15 different kinds of meats or until you are done and flip a sign card at your table to show red. My colleague is not a vegetarian but she warned that the sight is a bit overwhelming and that the restaurant reeks of meat.

Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse

Hmm! Trepidation and anxiety almost set in but at the same time I consoled myself with the thought that an upscale restaurant in Scottsdale Arizona, cannot smell like a fish market. You don’t want to ruin your favorite Prada jacket!

I am not a faint-hearted vegetarian and I love to try the different cuisines of the world as long as the dishes have no meat in them. It may be difficult to fathom for some but I really have discovered some great tasting food wherever I have gone. In fact, I could easily host a vegetarian food sojourn on Travel Channel.

Another fact is I am married to a wonderful man who loves to eat meat. But this was never a moot point as long as I don’t have to eat it or cook it. No, wait, sorry, sometimes it is when I get a whiff of seafood.

Okay, so I arrived at Fogo de Chao. I did get a faint barbecue smoke smell but it was not intense and suffocating. In fact, you don’t even realize it after a while. And, dinner was awesome and enough for me! They have a huge salad spread with not just greens and vegetables but also different kinds of cheese including fresh mozzarella, polenta, breads and garlic mashed potato. I know it’s not a lot of variety but I had room to eat dessert for once without feeling full. Their Crème Brule is to die for and so also their molten chocolate cake.

Chocolate Molten Cake

 

So, if you are a vegetarian and are fine with the sights and smells of meat, try out the steakhouses too. You never know the treat that might await you!