Kerala Chicken Ghee Roast

Isn’t everything we do in life a way to be loved a little more?

This morning on my way to work, a sight on the train caught my attention and left me thinking for hours. As a standalone incident, this might come across as trivial or not worth any more than just a sneer to most of us. But for some strange reason today, this got me thinking.

There was a really good-looking girl standing opposite me on the train, right next to the large automatic door. A vision so lovely that I could not help but spend a few moments admiring her perfectly done make up with a beautiful red pout, hair put up in an elegant bun with a few wisps framing her razor sharp jawline ever so naturally, perfectly manicured nails, and the on-point outfit complete with a pair of ankle boots (which is in fact, what caught my attention at first instance). Anyone who has ever known me would stand testament to my obsession with all things footwear and as a matter of consequence, I have the habit of making subtle judgments on people based on their shoes. Bad habit, I know. Anyway, let me not digress-the girl’s boots.

They were a pair of immaculately made beautiful high heeled leather boots; in black. I saw them and I knew I was in love, until this particular moment when she decided to adjust the zipper on the side of her left boot; which is when I saw that her feet were terribly bruised. So bruised to the extent that there was blood (and quite a bit of it) and let me spare you the gore and put it this way. The sight wasn’t pretty and the bruises, certainly not new. At all. I think she got a glimpse of the horror on my face (especially given the way emotions refuse to hide from my face) and sheepishly gave me something which was a smile with a hint of embarrassment. I asked her if she was okay (of course she was not, but you know that’s about the only line available to be used in such situations lest you overstep the line and come across as creepy or interfering) to which she nodded with the same half smile on her scarlet lips before getting off the train and going about her own business.

And I got down at the next station and by habit walked past the scores of dozens of people all hurrying to work, glanced quickly at the majestic church tower around the corner before dashing into the beautiful, unspoiled white Viennese structure that houses my office. But long after I got to my room, long after I warmed my hands cold from the commute, and long after I checked my email, I realized I still had the girl from the train on my mind.

At this point you must be wondering why. Was that pretty girl on the train worth any more than just a fleeting thought? Everyone bruises their feet, what is the big deal? Well, that is not how I saw it. The moment I saw her give me that half smile, I knew deep down that she wasn’t exactly enjoying it; maybe she was just being another “Monica” stuffing her feet into shoes that were beyond uncomfortable just to make the hundreds of Euros invested seem worth it; or maybe she just wanted to look pretty; maybe the pain was the price she was willing to pay for the few (or maybe many) glances of approval that came her way (like the one I gave her) in re her rather impeccable sartorial taste.

In the end, maybe everything just boils down to one word- validation. Is that not the one thing that keeps us doing everything we do? It really is not just about that one gorgeous woman I saw on the train. It is about each one of us. Yes, you (especially if you are being illogically defensive as we speak) and me for sure. This thought took me back to one of my favourite movies of all time- Before Sunrise. The fact that this spectacular movie directed by Richard Linklater  is set in Vienna is nothing but sheer serendipity. Let me take you to what is probably that one line that Celine utters that had me thinking then and has me thinking now. “Isn’t everything we do in life a way to be loved a little more?”

Let me explain.

To me, the word “loved” in this line transpires into a lot more. Respected? Admired? Sympathized with? Thought of as cool/chill? Befriended? Maybe even envied? And I believe this is the end we have in mind (mostly sub consciously) when we do everything we do. We live in probably what is the pinnacle of the social media era and I believe that would serve as a solid example or case study for this thought. We, as a generation, have absolutely no qualms in showcasing to the world the life we(sometimes) pretend to live; the life we want to believe we live; the life that we want the world to stop and stare at. Within or out of social media, let me clarify.

Just think about it. All the pictures we decide to showcase to the world are more often than not snapshots of events or items from our respective lives, that we believe are worthy of flaunting; worthy of a dash of envy; aspirational. All we expect from the activity is people you barely know (and oftentimes, strangers) to praise you (expressly or not) for your skill, or your lifestyle, sometimes your appearance, and at times even something as fickle as your money? All you want in life is to get the set of positive adjectives to be associated with your name and everything you stand for. Why look for another example around when you have your own face staring right back. I will shamelessly admit that all the feedback and positive validation I get for all the pictures I put up on social media, especially about the food I whip up in my kitchen, rejuvenates me and keeps me motivated to do just that. And as much as I hate to admit, I have my days when I feel low solely because a post of mine did not “do as well” as I might have expected. Sounds stupid much? Similarly, I know I put up pictures of my face only when I am happy about my skin or my hair or my makeup. That does not in any way mean I look anything like that on a day if you were to catch me unawares.

Having said that, I do realize that we, as mere mortals have the innate tendency to go overboard with “looking to be loved” as much as with everything else. Maybe the dude who decides to keep shoving into your face, pictures of  his plush seats from traveling on first class every week, is merely “looking to be loved”. But that will not preclude me from branding him a douchebag in my head. And we have the other set; the funniest yet. The brooding intellectuals. Walking around judging poor, lowly souls based on their choice in music or literature or wine or anything that fits into this little list of items accepted by such mighty souls, while they determine your exact worth. Yet again, although their approach may seem different, all they crave for is validation and love too. Well, I don’t claim to be a saint right here to see only the good or the thoughts behind the way people act. I try, it is true, but such comedians still make me chuckle in my head. See, we all hope to be loved and admired but whether we end up receiving it is beyond our control. This probably is the flip side of entrusting the world with your happiness and letting them dictate what keeps you motivated and pumped up- food for thought?

I realize I could go on forever about this but maybe I should keep it for another time. For now, maybe if we try to see the world outside the windows we have as eyes in this light, I believe we would probably take a moment before we sneer at someone, before calling them names, before judging. At the end of the day, Instagram or Facebook is yet to create a feature where we show the world the true battles we fight every day or the demons within ourselves that peek out only when the cameras are stowed well away. Until they do, let us resolve to maybe love a little more and hurt a little less. Not much to lose with that, have we?

Okay on that note, here is a little something from my kitchen, a delicious ‘Kuttanadan Chicken Ghee Roast‘ recipe, especially for those days you don’t feel particularly loved. Food makes everything better and you know that. Haha. So here goes.

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Things you will need:

  • Chicken- 500 gms on the bone
  • Red Onions- 2 medium sized, sliced finely
  • Tomatoes- 1 large chopped
  • Ginger 1 small stick ground
  • Garlic- 4-5 pods ground
  • Garam Masala- ¾ tbsp.
  • Red chili powder- 1 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder- ½ tsp
  • Mustard seeds, dried red chilies and curry leaves for tempering
  • Ghee
  • Coconut oil or any other cooking oil

How to go about it.

  1. In a pressure cooker, add the chicken, all the powders, ginger, garlic, onions, salt, tomato and two table spoons of ghee and cook it for one whistle.
  2. Once the pressure releases, separate the chicken pieces from the gravy. Heat a bit of ghee in pan and shallow fry the chicken pieces till they turn slightly brown.
  3. Next, in a large wok, heat some coconut oil, splutter some mustard seeds, dried red chilies and curry leaves. Add the gravy along with the chicken pieces and let it boil until the gravy is nice and reduced.
  4. Add some more ghee (2 table spoons at least)to the wok and sauté the chicken along with the beautiful thick gravy, till the masala acquires a lovely, deep brown colour. Add some more curry leaves in the end, fry it up nicely and serve hot.

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