Friday, December 17, 2010

Happiness Quotient

A colleague told me this little incident, a jolly fellow, who seems to be a person with unimaginable normalness living a worry free life (if there ever was). He was on his bike on a cool Sunday afternoon going about his way when suddenly a lady in a car swerves and stops bang in front of him practically toppling him over from his Sunday afternoon cruise. A petrified silence later, just as a mini mob was gathering around, he decided to do something which a normal person wouldn’t. He smiled, he had a large smile on his face and that was all what was needed for that lady to get that color back on her face. She got off from her car; automatically the crowd dispersed as though assuming that these two knew each other and there was no major “scene” going to take place; and she profusely apologized for her misjudgment and they went their way, shaking hands, relieved that nothing untoward or disastrous had taken place.

Now fortunately no one was hurt but just a little shaken up, and ultimately, it left both parties with just a scary memory. What ticked in me was the fact that this reaction can only come from a content person. Look back, every time you lose your mind, short fuse your temper or merely snap at someone in anger, it’s all the bottled up frustration of a past memory, situation or experience. If one is truly content and happy, it shows, and it shows in every possible situation.

I try and keep a cheerful aura around me whenever I can, this could be anytime – from the drive to work in the morning with the music on full blast or when I sipping on my coffee during a short break at work staring out from my cabin onto the vast uninterrupted view of the ocean (thinking about what’s cooking next), or even in the maddening crowds in the train ride back home some day’s (yes, I admit with my Ipod plugged in). I have attuned myself into dividing my stress time during stress time and cheerful happy content times at any other given moment. I have come to realize that the more I keep this feeling around me, the easier it is to deal with the other elements of life. Yes, there are times when things are out of hand or uncontrollable, but there’s always a break and that’s the moment you should seize to shroud yourself in happy thoughts.

Cooking makes me happy; creating dishes makes me even happier. I am the most content when I am with my ingredients and kitchen. You can wake me up at an unearthly hour and ask me to whip up an omelet and I am raring to go (yes, it has happened one summer over at a cousins place, he did not know the “C” of cooking and that fat ass was hungry at 3:00am). I love getting creative with food, and it usually does snowball into a marathon session of crazy plotting and planning which takes the better part of my time, but the end result – accolades, which in turn – makes me happy!

A small creation I whipped up during a talk-a-thon with my photographer. We were tossing around ideas on what to shoot next (another major role player in my happiness quotient), I was going Asian she wanted to go “something on bread” and that got my creative juices flowing and decided why not combine both. This little dish I created, is quite a hit, though have to still make it for a larger audience, I’d definitely like you to try it out. It’s a breeze and sure-fire hit at your next cocktail do.

1 French Loaf (Sliced thickly)
1 clove garlic (minced)
2 tablsp Sesame Seed oil (you can use olive oil)

Crispy Spinach Topping
3 large bunches Spinach (washed, dried and chopped into thing strands)
1 tablsp Sesame Seeds (Til)
1 Green Chili Sliced
1 tsp Sesame Oil (Or Olive Oil)
1 tablsp of – powdered sugar, salt and white pepper (mixed)
Oil for frying

Spicy Mushroom and Tofu Topping
6 white button mushrooms finely chopped
6 Babycorn – sliced diagonally into roundels
100gms – Tofu, cut into small squares
4-5 cloves – sliced garlic
2 tablsp Light Soy Sauce
1 tsp Celery chopped finely (optional)
1 tsp Red Chili paste
A sprinkle of five spice powder
Salt & Pepper to taste

Mix the garlic and oil and keep aside (the longer it is kept the better it is)
Place the slices of bread on an oven proof tray and spread some garlic oil onto each slice.
Place under a grill and toast till lightly crisped.

For the spinach topping
Heat oil in a deep bottomed vessel and add half a bunch of spinach strands in the oil. Make sure you don’t add too much as the hot oil tends to spill over the sides if not in a deep enough vessel. Deep fry till the color changes to a dark green. Remove with a slotted spoon over layers of absorbent paper napkins. Fry all the spinach, this should leave you with about 1½ cups of fried spinach leaves.

In a wok, heat a little oil, toss in the chilies and sesame seeds, when the seeds crackle toss in the spinach and toss around, remove and sprinkle generously with the sugar-salt-pepper powders. Keep aside.

For the Spicy Mushroom and Tofu Topping
In a small wok, heat the oil till smoky, throw in the garlic and almost immediately add the mushrooms, after a quick stir add the rest of the vegetables. Toss around with the soy sauce followed by the chili sauce. Remove and sprinkle some five spice powder and keep aside.

To serve
Top each slice of bread with the stir fried spinach, top with the spicy mushroom mix and pop into the oven for a few minutes to heat it up a bit. If serving immediately, toast the bread right before tossing your toppings.

This dish is a bit over the top with fried spinach, but the finale is a yummy toasty crunch with a spicy soft topping.

1 comment:

Sassy Fork said...

Sweet! And Nikita Modi's photo is wonderful!