Of beauty and beauty sleep!

Constantly amazed by the greenness of America – no one ever seems to speak about how much of the land is forest-covered! In the last three weeks, we’ve driven through almost three thousand miles of the country – from Cincinnati to Columbus to the Niagara to Boston to New Hampshire, New York, Washington and finally back to Columbus today through miles and miles of some of the most beautiful countryside I’ve ever seen.

Hubby adds here – through some of the most beautiful countryside I’ve ever snored through!¬†Okay, okay, so I need my little naps now and then and there’s something about the combination of road and wheels and being driven rather than driving that brings on a stage of gentle somnolence followed by a stage of deep and gentle (well, I like to think it is gentle anyway – though I’ve occasionally woken myself up – am sure that I’ve heard rumbles in a tunnel!) snoring.

But this countryside is so beautiful – I swooned over the prettyness of the New Hampshire region, the incredibly lush forests of West Virginia (yes I had to sing THE SONG – how could I not – when the country roads were so inviting!) and the rolling fields of Pennsylvania and Ohio. Well, I did miss bits because to truly appreciate the country, you have to be fully awake and what better way to stay alert than take little naps – an occasional hour off makes the green greener!

Except when I am at the wheel myself, I have had a lifelong habit to drift off when someone else is driving… something which seems to drive a lot of people nuts – no, not hubby! I simply do not see the point in two people doing the same job – it seems such a waste of storage resources. For instance, for two people to apply their minds to exactly the same thing and remember exactly the same telephone numbers, say! Think of computers, for instance – would you build two RAMs in one system? That too not a crucial system but rather a random set of info like which is the best restaurant in town for Mexican food or dates for family birthdays! No way – it’s a far more efficient way to carry one set of info around with you and let the other guy carry around his own set of info! Solves the problem of two people being competitive too – no more arguments like, “You never remember our anniversary!” or “What are the passwords to all our bank accounts, insurance stuff, investments, blah, blah..?!” I don’t KNOW! And I don’t WANT to know! Do you remember YOUR mom’s birthday? NO. I will remind you – it is in my RAM!

See how simple it becomes? Assign tasks according to people’s abilities (basic management stuff!) at home too and life will be a breeze! Like for instance, one person drives, one navigates and one helpfully keeps the peace by snoring away in the backseat!

After weeks of American food, I am dreaming too – of quintessential travel food in the south of India and one variety of Andhra pulihora which I love – come to think of it – I love ’em all!

AAVAPETTINA PULIHORA (TAMARIND RICE WITH RAW MUSTARD)

  • Cooked rice – 3 cups
  • Tamarind – soaked for an hour and juice extracted twice – 1 lime sized ball
  • Jaggery – 2 tbsp
  • Salt
  • Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
  • Sesame oil – 3 tbsp +1 tbsp
  • Peanuts – 1 handful
  • Chana dal – 1 tbsp
  • Urad dal – 1 tbsp
  • Mustard seeds – 1.5 tsp – soak in 1 tsp water along with 1 red chili – grind to a paste and set aside
  • Sambar powder – 1 tbsp
  • Sesame seeds – 1 tbsp – roast and powder
  • Curry leaves – 3-4 sprigs
  • Green chilies – slit – 2
  • Chili powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Asafoetida – 1/8 tsp

Heat 3 tbsp oil in a saucepan and add the peanuts.

When they are fried, add the chana dal and the urad dal. Fry till golden.

Add curry leaves, green chilies and chili powder.

Add sambar powder, turmeric and asafoetida.

Pour in the tamarind juice, add salt and jaggery. Cook till thick and the tamarind smells cooked – about 20 minutes. You may need to add water if it dries out too soon.

The consistency should be of a thick paste – pourable rather than spreadable – pulihora mix.

Mix one tbsp of sesame oil with the rice and spread out to cool. Add the pulihora mix and mix well with your fingers.

Add the mustard paste and the sesame powder and toss well.

For a different flavour, add fried ginger juliennes to the rice – about 1 tbsp (optional)

Let it soak for at least two hours before serving with appadams and roast potato curry.

This rice tastes even better the next day.

Just like the countryside looks totally refreshed after a nap – your nap, not its, I mean!