Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Reunion and a Breakfast

College Reunions seemed always to be something older people were attending and suddenly I was attending one myself. They say life begins at 40 and yeah, some parts of life were beginning all right! The excitement and anticipation built up as we found class mates and friends through our best online friend finder, Facebook. And then one Friday after frantically finishing work, we were off to Pune to our beloved Deccan College to meet friends we hadn't seen for years. Some we last saw roughly 16 years ago. Much revelry, much fond abuse and many hugs later there we were, together again.

A reunion is a strange animal...it brings back memories of a time long past but that time feels like it was just yesterday or the last week. The intervening years feel like the blink of an eye. I felt I could simply reach out and touch that past, touch the person I was, the people we all were. So much has changed for all of us yet there we were, the same as we were all those years ago. The same sense of friendship, of closeness, of belonging. Everything had changed yet nothing had changed at all...

A regular haunt in the old days was Vohuman Cafe near Jehangir Hall hospital. With Hormazd uncle reigning supreme at the counter shouting at Mohammad or Satish to hurry up and collect the toast butter, or at some poor hapless customer for not having change to the loud buzz of conversation, the smell of eggs frying and butter melting on to hot toast, it was all familiar and comforting to be back. Prices have gone up and the place is a bit spruced up - a fresh coat of paint and a new false ceiling with lots of lights - but the feeling of being back at Vohuman is as wonderful as ever.

Here is a picture of Hormazd uncle with big star Salman Khan, that uncle insisted we all admire :)

And here's Hormazd uncle again, the eternal ladies' man..

Endless plates of bun maska, toast butter, masala omlette, double half fry (palti marke) and chai after chai after chai. What a perfect breakfast we all had as we sat around the old marble topped tables joined together higgledy piggledy.

Replete after a huge breakfast and a flood of memories we were all quite full.

One never quite grasps the impact a reunion has till one has been there. For hubby and me it was a journey back in time as we relived our courtship, completed writing his PhD thesis, attended endless excavations across the country, sat up endless nights playing cards, drank litres of booze, learned about archaeology and about life. It was like it happened again. I spent nearly 10 years at Deccan College, undoubtedly the best years of my life... I would go back in a heart beat.

Photo credits go to my friends Tridib and Jubal. Thanks :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares by Nigella

The first Nigella book I bought was How to be a Domestic Goddess and it is one of my most favourite books of all time. Not just among cook books, but among books in general. After drooling over the pictures and sighing over the delicious recipes and enjoying her seductive writing style it was time to get into the kitchen and try out some of the goodies for myself.

The recipe for Peanut Butter Squares called out to me! They were, she said, a homespun version of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Now these are never available here in India and if I had a chance to recreate them in my own kitchen who would dare get in  my way?!

So I did try them out and they were gorgeous..simple, no fuss, straight forward gorgeous. What makes me like them even more is how ridiculously easy it is to make them. No cooking involved, no fancy techniques, no fiddly equipment, nothing. A cake tin, a couple of mixing bowls, a spatula, a fork and a microwave, if you have one. If you don't, a saucepan works just as well.

So here's how you make the Peanut Butter Squares. My recipe is slightly adjusted using ingredients that I had.

50 gms dark demerara sugar
200 gms icing sugar
50 gms butter (unsalted if you can get it, I used regular Amul )
200 gms smooth peanut butter

300 gms chocolate
1 generous tbsp butter

1 8x10 square brownie tin

Take a clean mixing bowl and mix the two sugars. Make sure the icing sugar is not lumpy. If it is just whizz it in your mixer and it will be fine. Add the butter and the peanut butter and mix it all up. Use a fork and work it together till you get it all fairly well mixed. Butter the tin and dust with a bit of icing sugar. Press in the peanut butter/sugar/butter mix to cover the entire base of the tin and press nicely into the corners. Smooth out the top with your spatula or just go in with your hands and flatten it out nicely.

Melt the chocolate in your microwave or in a double boiler. Heat water in a saucepan and place a heat proof bowl on the bubbling water with the chocolate in it. Be careful, don't let water get into the chocolate. Once the chocolate is melted add that tablespoon of butter and blend it in nicely. Your chocolate should glisten beautifully. You can use plain dark chocolate or a combination of dark chocolate with milk chocolate, whatever works for you.

Pour the chocolate onto the Peanut butter base in the brownie tin. Smooth the surface and let it cool in the fridge till it is set absolutely firm. Resist temptation and leave it alone for at least a couple of hours so it sets properly. Cut into squares and enjoy!

As simple as it is to make them, these little babies are sinfully rich. Indulge only occasionally :)