Monday, October 20, 2014

[Review from the foodie in me]: Sam's Pizza

I've heard about this unlimited stuff at Sam's pizza for quite a long time. So, a friend of mine and myself decided to check it out today.

The vegetation buffet costs Rs.249 and the non-vegetarian buffet costs Rs.299. Taxes extra.

Since we both were vegetarians, we tried out the vegetation buffet. The spread was quite elaborate. Let me rate each of them on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being poor and 5 being excellent.

They had two varieties of soups - Manchow soup & tomato soup. The soups were average. I tried both of them. Would give them a rating of 3.

They boast of having a spread of 26 salads. But trust me, the salads were excellent. I tried most of them. The macaroni cheese, Russian salad and American sweet corn salad were the best. They also had a good variety of vegetables and fruit salads. I would give them a rating of 4, or rather 4.5.

Next came the pizzas. We had the choice of Margareta and Paneer pizza. We tried both. Paneer pizza was average. The crust was hard. Margareta pizza was quite good. The crust was soft and the pizza was tangy. I would give the pizzas a rating of 3.

Now the dessert. It was vanila icecream with chocolate sauce. It was not unlimited. But not very tasty too. Could have been better. I would rate them as 3.

Coke was not included in the buffet. You have to buy it separately. So, that's some extra bucks from your pocket.

Now, let's talk about the service. Well, I would say it was good. Not excellent. But good. Nobody seems to know the regional language over there. So, if you don't know English, errr... Don't go there.

Finally, the pricing. Rs. 249 was ok. But, they add service charges and VAT which comes to another 20% approx. For the level of service and the quality of food, I don't think they deserve this much service charge.

Overall, I would rate it 3 on 5.

Happy eating.
Eat Well & Be Merry...!!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

[My Experiments with the Kitchen]: Saabudana Kichidi

Saabudana Kichidi...!! Hmmm... This has been one of my favourite dishes right from my childhood. My mum used to make it really well. She had learnt how to make it from my aunt in Mumbai. Only after quite a few years, I knew that it's a Maharashtrian delicacy.
Last evening, I tried making the Saabudana Kichidi for the first time. Let me attempt to explain how I prepared it.

Saabudana - soaked in water for 4 hours
Peanuts - Roasted, skin removed and grounded
Refined oil
Green chilies - 2
Red chili powder

In a pan, heat a tablespoon of oil. Add a teaspoon of jeera and mustard. Once the mustard starts crackling, add the green chilies and saute them till the raw smell of the chilies fade away.

Now add the roasted groundnuts and fry them moderately. Then, add the sabudhana and mix it well with the groundnuts. Add salt, little bit of red chili powder and half a teaspoon of sugar. Cook for about 7 minutes till the bottom most layer of the kichidi becomes crispy and starts sticking with the pan.

Serve it hot with curd.
Please do try it out and post your comments.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

How Ads Misguided Us for Ages

I had been thinking for over a month on what shall I write on my blog. I'm sure I've not run out of topics but I just couldn't find time to spot one.

I've been gathering my thoughts on this one for quite some years and I thought I'll pen them down now.

Right from our childhood, we've been seeing zillions of advertisements. Moat of them pertain to the consumer products. Toothpaste, shampoo, soaps, detergents and what not...!!

Let's now talk about toothpaste ads. We've constantly seen them advertising their toothpastes as ones containing calcium, and by bruising with that toothpaste, your teeth become stronger because of the calcium. We hear similar stories about shampoos. They call it protein shampoo.

Basically, we don't eat either the toothpaste or the shampoo. So, how does the calcium or the protein get into our body and strengthen the teeth and hair? Everyone knows that milk contains a lot of calcium. Going by that theory, we must be brushing our teeth with milk to get the calcium into our body. But it doesn't make sense. Does it? The salt in the toothpaste still makes some sense now.

So, we've been seeing this for ages. I have a strong feeling that all these are false claims and that the regulator is totally oblivious to them. If some expert reads my blog and proves my hypothesis right, then I think these kinds of ads are some of the biggest frauds. They've totally misguided the naïve consumer.

If any of you guys happen to read this blog post, please do share your thoughts.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Funny Story of a Sales Review Meeting

I heard a really funny story from one of my friends who is a senior sales manager at a large private bank. The story describes the monthly sales review (which happens in almost all companies) in a very funny way. And, if you are a salesman, you'll definitely understand what this story tries to say.

It goes like this...

The sales team of a company had six hens. It was the start of a month and the sales manager called all the six hens for a meeting. The purpose was to give targets for the month and discuss the so called strategies. The target was that each hen had to lay 30 eggs by the end of the month. He also said that last month's performance was really poor and they have to achieve their targets this month. He also said that those who fail to achieve their targets would be sacked with immediate effect.

The meeting got over and the hens left the meeting room with a puzzled look on their faces. They had no clue about how to achieve their targets. And gradually, each hen went in its direction to start laying their eggs.

Before they could realise, the month ended and the manager called all the six hens for a review meeting.

The review went like this.

The manager, though not happy seeing the numbers (which was always the case), was not disappointed either. There was definitely an increase in the overall productivity of the team.

He then started reviewing individual performances. Two hens over-achieved their targets by laying 35 & 32 eggs respectively. The manager was really pleased with their performances. The third hen just achieved the target of 30 eggs. Out of the remaining three hens, two of them missed the target by a small margin. They could lay only 28 eggs each. The manager could still accept it. But he was really shocked to look at the last one's numbers. It had laid only 2 eggs. The manager got extremely angry and started shouting at that hen. He asked the hen as to why its performance was extremely poor when the other hens could deliver good numbers.

This was the hen's reply. "Sir, I tried. Gave my best. But still, I could lay only 2 eggs. I am a cock, Sir."


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

[My Experiments with the Kitchen]: Daal Kichidi

Daal kichidi is basically a Maharashtrian dish, which I first tasted in Pune. It was actually introduced to me by one of my friends when I had been to Pune to visit him. I liked it so much that I started having it atleast twice a week.

Ok. I also learnt how to prepare it. I actually learnt it from a very close friend who is an amazing cook. (By the way, she is in China now).
Now let me try to explain how I prepared Daal Kichidi.

Ingredients (To serve 2 people):
1 cup Rice (Either normal or basmati)
1 cup Toor Daal
2 Onions
2 Tomatoes
1 Tablespoon Ghee
Turmeric powder
Black pepper powder
Red chilli powder
Curry leaves

How to prepare:

First soak the rice and daal in water for about half an hour. In the mean while, cut the onions and tomatoes.
Now take a pressure cooker, add 1 tablespoon of ghee and heat it. Now add a small spoon of mustard and jeera. Once you hear the mustard crackling, add the curry leaves, onions and tomatoes. Saute them till they become golden brown in colour.

Now add a small pinch of turmeric powder, black pepper powder and red chilli powder (Quantity as per your requirement). Add little water and cook for about 3 minutes.

Now add the soaked rice and daal to it and mix properly. Add water now. Make sure that you add enough water so that the kichidi doesn't become dry and sticky. Now add salt to taste.
Mix it properly and close the pressure cooker with its lid. Cook well till you get about 7 whistles from the cooker.
Serve the hot daal kichidi with onions, curd and pickle.

Hope you enjoy the daal kichidi.
Thanks to my friend Sharanya for sharing the recipe.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Follow Every Colour in your Rainbow

I took up my current job in 2009 after rejecting an offer from a huge IT company. It took me about 4 years to reach the starting salary that the IT company offered.

It was indeed difficult for me to manage with the salary I used to draw. Many times, survival and sustenance itself became a huge question mark. It was a hand to mouth existence. But why did I go through all this pain and hardship? One word. "Passion". Yes. I took up this job to pursue my passion, which is Investment Analysis. In 2009, when the economy was in doldrums, it was really difficult to get a job in the finance industry. That too when you are a fresher and from a totally different industry, forget it. You'll be the first one to get rejected. But when I got this opportunity, I grabbed it with both my hands. The pay was just peanuts, but it didn't matter to me. I had the thirst to pursue my passion. And I knew it would payoff in the long run.

So, as I mentioned before, it took me four long years to even reach the starting salary which the IT company offered me. In September 2013, I got transferred to Mumbai, which is the financial capital of the country. Within four months, I got an interview call from a huge international private bank (a company which anyone would crave to work for). I had about 3-4 rounds of interviews. At the end, they didn't offer me the role I was originally interviewed for. They offered me a role which I was not interested in. But the remuneration they offered was awesome. Double my current salary. I had to reject the offer just because the job profile was not what I wanted.

I am gonna get married in about 4 months from now. This is the stage of life when I need money the most. But my heart didn't allow me to accept the offer. There is only one reason for that. Passion.

I just want to follow every colour in my rainbow and never compromise on pursuing my passion, how much ever big is the price I have to pay for it.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I too have a Love Story

I was someone who always believed that arranged marriage is total bullshit. When my parents asked me whether I'll find a girl for myself or should they find one… I told them that I don't have time to search for a girl.

Little did I know that they'll start the girl-hunt immediately. It was October 2013 when they started it.

I think they paid for 3-month subscription for in November end. By December mid, they got a call from a girl's father. Her name was Aparna.

So, that's how it started... In a very casual way, my parents told me that they'll be meeting the girl in the last week of December. I was really surprised with the speed at which things were moving.

You know what I did? I asked my best friend to go along with my parents. Why? Because he knows me better than anyone else. His opinion meant a lot to me. I also wanted his wife to accompany them but she was held up with her exam. So, it was 22nd December when my parents, my brother, my uncle and my best friend went to see the girl and her family at Anna Nagar. I was sitting at my home in Mumbai eagerly waiting for their phone call.

At about 1.30 pm, I got a call from my friend saying that my engagement date is almost fixed. I was like, "What the hell? This is too fast". Then after about a couple of hours, he called me again to tell me in detail about the girl and her family.

He told me a lot of things. She was bold, independent, good looking and confident; and that her family was really sweet. I knew for sure that if my best friend says all this, it would definitely be true.

So, I decided to meet the girl. The date of the meeting was fixed as 27th Jan 2014. Luckily, we got the tickets too.

On 1st Jan, guess who called to wish me for New Year? It was Aparna's parents. They sounded really sweet.

Fifteen days passed by. It was a Wednesday. 15th Jan. I got a call from Ram (my best friend I told you about). He told me that Aparna had sent him a friend request on Facebook. I incidentally opened my Facebook. I was surprised to see that she had sent a friend request to me too. I accepted it instantly and started chatting (she was online, obviously). Within about half an hour or so, we exchanged our mobile numbers and started chatting on Whatsapp. Ok. That was really quick. I know. We chatted till the evening... About our likes, dislikes, friends, and all those general stuff you wanna know about each other. She asked me why didn't I try getting her number or sending her a friend request on FB. I told her that it really didn't strike me and that I'm not a frequent user of FB. She told me that I'm a "Manga". She meant that I'm good for nothing. Lol.

Btw, her parents knew that we started chatting. But my parents didn't know (for obvious reasons).

So, we chatted till the night. She told me that she was home alone. I asked her if I could call her. She said yes. And... It began. We started talking. We were up till about 3 pm that night talking about each other. After I started talking with her, I realised that whatever Ram described about her... Sweet, bold, independent & confident... It was all true. We continued talking daily. She used to call me in the mornings on her way to work. And sometimes in the evenings too. My parents had no clue that we started chatting.

We were eagerly waiting for the 27th of Jan. At last, the day came. My parents, Ram, his wife and I reached her house at about 4.30 pm. I was really hungry that evening. Luckily, they served hot idlis, sambar, vada qnd carrot halwa. Guess who made the carrot halwa. It was Aparna. As we sipped our coffee, her parents asked us if they could ask the girl to come. We said yes, and she flashed in a beautiful purple saree. Oh dear god...!! She was really pretty, man. I actually couldn't take my eyes off her. I don't believe in love at first sight. But that was the moment I felt a wave in my heart. The wave was beyond words. It was an amazing feeling. They asked us to go to a room and speak things out. So, she took me to her room. We spoke for about 20 mins. We liked each other, and we decided to say Yes.

So when we came out of the room, I said openly in the forum that I like the girl. When her parents asked her in front of everyone, she nodded her head with a smile on her face. I could see her blushing (She would deny blushing. But I saw her do it). So, we left with a positive note that evening. After meeting my friends, I left for Mumbai the next morning. That day, we had a very long chat over the phone. As I told you, I don't believe in love at first sight. But, I don't know how or why. I just proposed to her saying "I love you". And guess what she replied. She just said "Ok". I couldn't find out if that was a Yes or No. But I realised that she needed more time to feel the love towards me. I decided I'll give her all the time she wanted.

Within a couple of days, our engagement date was fixed as 3rd March 2014. I reached Chennai on 2nd March night. I asked Aparna if we could meet up that evening. She said yes. So, I was waiting for her at the station. Guess who showed up? Aparna, her parents and her aunt. I was surprised. After a quick chat with her family, Aparna and I left for a coffee at Cafe Coffee Day, Anna Nagar. We then exchanged engagement gifts. She gifted me a cute keychain, a sand clock and a beautiful candle. And I gifted her a Titan Raga watch. Minutes later, Ram dropped by. He brought his Activa. He asked me if I would like to drop her off at her house. I was really excited. But, Aparna rode the bike. I sat in the back seat. As she rode the bike, I smelt her hair. It was nothing but absolute bliss.

Next day was the big day. It was our engagement. But wait. We met up again that morning. She took her to the school where she works. She introduced me to all her colleagues.

So, that evening at about 7 pm, Aparna and I were engaged. It was a beautiful evening with he hall decorated beautifully. And the food was awesome, man.

I left for Mumbai the next morning. We continued talking to each other on a daily basis. I was still waiting for the moment when would feel her love towards me.

About a couple of days ago, she told me, "I love you Venkat". And that was the moment I was waiting for. We haven't known each other for a long time. We have met hardly thrice. We had very few things in common. We had about 5 years age difference. We had both likes and dislikes about each other. But none of these mattered to us when we fell in love with each other and decided to spend the rest of our lives together.

I will be going to Chennai this weekend to spend some real quality time with my sweetheart.
I just can't wait anymore.

In love. Deeply, madly, truly and crazily on her.