The curse of an anxious mind

I never knew my life in my 30s would be like this. I mean, I’m happy to have an extra supportive family and ever so lovely husband, but if you look closer at me, I have really lost it all. The dreams, the rebelliousness, the constant riots of laughter… all seem to be lost. And here’s what has actually taken a toll on me: anxiety.

Living alone with my husband in a different city, having no great work at hand, and no friends with whom I can have a heart-to-heart, or share a few weird habits like listening to rock music, cribbing about life, etc. has shaped my personality to what has it is today. I don’t even want to look into the mirror. I only see hopelessness, so much so that my attitude towards life has gone down. I can never be able to see the glass half-full. It’s all empty for me. And I really don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. That’s what. And it would be safe to say that I need to find help, think positive and let go of the depressed thoughts that rule my mind.

What’s going to happen next? Will there be anything good for me? Will I fall in love with the city I live in? Will I ever be able to do what I want to do in life? Learning to dance, singing my heart out, being in touch with the magazine world, and creating beautiful memories with friends… can I even see these things happening to me ever again? Will the people around me like me? Can I have a happy home that I’m not running away from? May be yes. May be no.

I tried a few things to get over with over-thinking and to divert my mind, but really, nothing seems to work. It’s all bogus for me. The art classes, the heaps of books and the YouTube videos of awesome people… nothing seems to inspire me.

I’m at my mother’s place these days, and I can say, the people whom I know since decades cannot understand what’s wrong with me. Why is she so negative in life? Where has her spark gone? She has become so dull. These are the things I can hear around me in spite of no one telling me anything. And I agree with their reactions. I have lost all my confidence. The happy smile that I proudly used to put on my face is gone. Life seems to be stuck in a muddy place.

But I also think I should see what’s with me and record my thoughts. And I don’t want to stop writing, come what may. Dying with unaccomplished dreams is easy, hoping for good things in life is tough, and may be I need to be at it. Need to find some calm back in life. And live with a mind that’s alive!

Because things could be worse.

Anyway.

As I said, I’m at my mother’s place these days. And today, I tried to make some Thecha. A green chilli chutney (kind of) that is commonly made in Marathi households. It was my first time, and it didn’t turned out to be good, just edible if I may say.

If you’re into spicy food, do try it. But let me tell you that it has a strong taste of groundnuts also, which you might like or not. I’m okay with it. Actually the first time I tried Thecha was at Grant Road, Mumbai. I was at a fashion shoot, and my editor made me taste it. She had ordered it from somewhere in the area. I was really hesitant to try it, but I absolutely loved it. Till now, I haven’t yet tasted the same Thecha but many other versions of it. These versions have almost failed in my eyes. And this one, was edible, that’s it.

Here’s what went wrong. I asked my sister-in-law to grind it into a fine paste in the grinding jar. You need to hand-pound the green chillies for an authentic flavour. The chillies should overpower it; in my case today, the lemon juice took the focus. And the groundnuts should only add a texture; too much of it can also take from the chutney. Do you have it in you to try it and nail it? Let me know how it goes.

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Recipe: Thecha

This recipe was given to me by a former magazine editor I worked with a few years back. Her name is Archana Pai Kulkukarni, and I’m thankful to her for a many things, and of course, this. She didn’t mention cumin seeds, though; I just added it.

Ingredients

¾ cup – roughly chopped green chillies (the medium-spicy one)
a little less than ¼ cup – roasted groundnuts (with no skin)
1 tsp – lemon juice
a few sprigs of coriander leaves
salt to taste
a pinch of cumin seeds (optional)
1 tsp – oil
¼ cup – garlic flakes

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Method

1. On a hot griddle (tawa), roast the roughly chopped green chillies, groundnuts, a few sprigs of coriander leaves and garlic flakes with some a hint of oil. In about 12 to 15 minutes, after you’ve kept roasting the mixture, turn the flame off. Let it cool in a plate.
2. Now, in a mortar and pestle, add in the ingredients you just roasted with some salt, lemon juice, and some more coriander leaves. Serve with hot Bhakhri rotis (as my editor recommended; we might not work together anymore, but she will always be my editor).

Beat the blues

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Recently, I got a chance to visit London, which I happens to be the most beautiful city I have ever been to. I was there for more than two weeks, and eating outside food for this long was not in my plan. So, one day, being tired of all fancy food, I craved for a simple raita. But, I only had the store-bought yogurt with me, which is something I loathe. Can I possibly be making a yum Raita out of it? I asked myself and went ahead anyway.

Pyaaz ka Raita is one of the dishes my mother is famous for in our huge community. This recipe goes back to the days when she used to live in a desert in my maternal home. Pyaaz ka Raita was made with fresh curd and chopped onions, and it hardly took any time to cook. Which is why, it used to be made a lot in the house. And it tastes yum. So, it wasn’t like anybody was adjusting with it.

For me and my brothers, this Raita is what our home is all about. After returning from a family trip or at the end of a long day when all feel tired, it is this recipe that comes to our rescue. Even in those busy Sunday mornings when a guest kept us busy, my mum manages to cook this Raita and impresses one and all.

So, the next time you’re clueless in the kitchen, tired of the colourful veggies, need something simple and tasty, you know what to cook. You will thank my mother for this one, I promise!

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Recipe: Pyaaz ka Raita

All right, so I generally make this Raita in an earthen pot that I got from Dastkar exhibition (Delhi). When I cook this way, it comes out to be nice with a great texture. You can cook this in a mixed metal skillet as well. We don’t use non-stick pans, and I hardly connect with them so you could avoid them too. Do I make sense?

So, first, we will cook the onions on high flame with the spices. In fact, my mum just adds the onion with the spices and tosses it a bit. You don’t need to cook the onions till it’s completely soft. You just need to mix the spices and let it be crunchy.

The second step is to add the slightly beaten curd. This is a quick process. You see, it took me quite some time to crack this dish. It is simple, but there’s this one rule.

Cook the onions on high flame. Add the beaten curd. Switch off the flame. Transfer the Raita in another pan. Cook the onions on high flame. Add the beaten curd. Switch off the flame. Transfer the Raita in another pan. Cook the onions on high flame. Add the beaten curd. Switch off the flame. Transfer the Raita in another pan.

This way, you will get a Raita that has crunchy onions, and because you transfer it into another vessel, it won’t curdle. So, are you ready?

Ingredients

½ tsp cumin powder
a pinch of asafoetida
¼ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp red chilli powder
fresh curry leaves (I didn’t have it when I clicked the picture)
salt to taste
oil for tempering the spices
¼ tsp black sesame seeds
1 big onion, chopped
2 green chillies, long-slit or chopped
coriander, chopped
½ tsp coriander powder, optional
1½ cup curd (I use homemade curd that is fresh and lightweight, but you could use those tight/stiff/thick looking store-bought yogurt that comes in a plastic box. Though, I avoid those completely)

Method

1. Add oil in a skillet. Add the curry leaves, asafoetida, turmeric and red powder, cumin, and sesame seeds, and green chilies. Sauté it for 10 seconds and add the chopped onion. Remember, the flame is on high.

2. Add salt, coriander powder and sauté for a minute.

3. Now, add the beaten curd and chopped coriander leaves. Stir it ever so quickly and transfer the whole thing into another bowl (in room temperature). This will give it a nice texture. Voila! The Raita is ready!

My mum serves it with roti, jowar ki roti (sorghum) or bajre ki roti (pearl millet). In the picture, you can make out a thali (prepared in last winter). To keep us warm, we keep having bajre ki roti and lots of jaggery in the colder months. With this type of roti, I like to have lots of clarified butter or ghee as well. During summers, you could have this Pyaaz ka Raita with crispy jowar ki roti (it’s gluten-free, rich with nutrients and my mum keeps sending me a small bag of it every couple of months so that I’m never out of it.)

I hope, this Raita helps you beat the blues that might hit you when you are stuck in a weird situation, a clueless dinner prep time or after an uninspiring day at work.