Chutney Challenged 101

Recently I was in Mumbai. It’s a fascinating, frustrating, bustling, busted-up, breaking-out kind of city. There’s so much going on, progress has been made, folks never stop eating, talking, giving you advice you never asked for and second-third helpings of food you never asked for. Mumbai also is dirty – monsoons, mega-population, corruption, infrastructure needs might help to explain the city’s gritty, dusty, weather-beaten look. I tried reading “Maximum City” about five years ago. It just did not go well, which says more about my attention span than about the quality of the book.

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Take all this as clear confession that I know very little of or about Mumbai. Thinking I would avoid passing down this ignorance to my own children, I gratefully purchased “366 Words in Mumbai,” a kids’ guide to Mumbai published by FunOkPlease. Pages 36-37 feature “Cuisine of Mumbai.” I had tried nearly every dish on the spread: dosas, ragda patties, pani puri and pav bhaji (!!!) to name a few. But make them? I couldn’t. I can’t. I would never…

…or would I? Oh yes I will. Hence, the name of this blog might become more meaningful to my reader (hi mom!). Last week I initiated my Chutney Challenge with a crowd-pleasing classic: bhel puri. “Bhel” rhymes with “whale.” “Puri” translates roughly to bread and rhymes with Suri (Cruise; sort of).

Bhel puri is colorful, versatile, and easy-enough to make and to eat. Here in the U.S., you might not find it on an Indian buffet or the menu of a pricey fusion restaurant. But in India you can find it anywhere: street corners in big cities, backroads in beachy southern towns, at your aunt’s place because your mother-in-law will tell every living relative from Mumbai to Madurai that her American daughter-in-law loves bhel puri. Then everybody makes it for you. This is a good thing, because nobody will let the American laughter-in-law buy bhel puri from vendors on the street or on the beach. For sanitation reasons, street food is not considered a wise choice for the western GI system. In an upcoming post, I will share with you my own experiences making, sharing and explaining bhel puri. Or you can just google some recipes. They’re out there. But I have shortcuts and funny musings to supplement my recipe. So maybe you’d best stick to the buffet for now and come back to Chutney Challenged in a day or so.

Tip: bhel puri pairs best with Corona Light.

On Surviving the Mayan Apocalypse

If you’re reading this, congratulations! Like me and some six billion other people, you have just survived the Mayan Apocalypse. Perhaps you can relate to my feeling of oh-great-now-what(?) malaise. You see, with the gift of another day and several inches of snow, I have some things to do, some promises to keep, some nagging obligations to attend to.

  1. Brush & floss – just did that
  2. Shovel snow – it’s 12:30 a.m. and still snowing; let’s wait a while. 
  3. Start a blog – Christmas came early for all those folks who’ve asked me to start blogging/write a book/fulfill my potential over the years. To my darling friends Nisha and Jennifer and to my mom, I say: “Merry Christmas, I hope you like this blog I got you!”
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This is what I look like on Fridays, or when I wear a black cardigan.

There are more points and purposes to this blog. The name “Chutney Challenged” describes me in ways that shall become clear as my writing becomes more fluid, and I learn how to blog. I tried starting this blog days ago, but was momentarily set back by the vast amount of templates, font choices, color palettes available on wordpress.com. I felt like my two journalism degrees were really not up to this, that what I needed was an interior design background. The colors! The mastheads! Look at the swirly things hanging onto this template. Oooh. Pretty. So, obviously, it might take me a few weeks to six months to post my next entry. 

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