• Vidhya S

May Favourites: Food, Shows & Games

May is coming to an end soon. Much like April, most of May has been spent indoors amidst the Covid-19 crisis. Being at home most of the time, I try to keep myself occupied by writing, cooking, and watching sitcoms online. Staying indoors and catching up with friends virtually have come to be our new normal. It’s in times like this that I truly begin to value technology and all it enables us to do from home. This blog, which has helped tremendously in keeping my sanity intact, for example, feels like my connection to the outside world.

This month, technology has indeed helped us keep up to date with what’s going on around the world, order things we need online, and stay connected with friends and family. It also provides much-needed comfort during these uncertain times in the form of entertainment and self-development tools.

Many of my favourites this month are thanks to the miracles of technology. Here are some of the things in May that brightened my day:

Food

1. Nadiya’s Time to Eat

In college, I used to binge-watch Nigella Lawson's cooking shows online. In between study sessions, before going to bed, while doing chores; almost always Nigella would accompany me and inspire me with her love for food. Recently, I stumbled upon a new cooking series on Netflix called 'Nadiya’s Time to Eat' and it transported me back to my college days. Nadiya’s love for food is infectious. I finished season one within a day and I truly hope that there’s a season two coming soon!

What I truly love about both Nigella and Nadiya is their unapologetic approach to food; they love it, but they aren’t purists who shrug off the idea of store-bought pastry or ready-made curry pastes out of a jar. They remind you that short-cuts or cheats are okay in the kitchen when you’re busy balancing so many things in life. You shouldn’t have to apologise for cooking the way you want to in your kitchen!

2. Bubble Tea


All throughout the month, I’ve been craving for bubble tea, but it can be so expensive! So, I decided to make my own at home. I went online and purchased two things: dehydrated tapioca pearls and thick reusable metal straws. When my packages finally arrived, I was super excited and I couldn't wait to get started!


Following the packet instructions, I began to prepare my tapioca pearls. I boiled them in hot water for about 30 minutes. Then, I drained the tapioca pearls and rinsed them with cold water. Next, I left them to rest in sugar syrup. The final step is assembly. In a tall glass, I added the tapioca pearls and sugar syrup, followed by black tea and fresh milk.

It was a rather long process compared to just clicking ‘Order Now’ online, but it was oddly satisfying to make my own cup of bubble tea at home. Granted this isn’t a practical everyday routine, but imagine how cool it would be to serve home-made bubble tea to friends (once the current situation settles down, of course)!

3. Sardine peratal (dry sardine curry)


As a kid, I used to hate sardine curry! On the car rides back home from school, I’d always ask my mum hungrily, “Ma, what’s for lunch today?”

“Rice and sardine curry, Vidhu,” my mum would reply and internally I would scream, “NOOOOOOOOOO!”

I don’t know why I despised it so much; I think as a kid, I just preferred poultry to fish. But as I grew older, I started to appreciate sardines more. Sardine cans are affordable and you can keep them in your pantry to whip up a quick meal whenever you need. Lately as we’re staying at home more, my husband and I have been cooking more sardine dishes. Our usual go-to is sardine fried rice.

Just a few days ago, I was thinking about what to have for lunch. I had leftover sambar/dhal in the fridge and I wanted to make something spicy to go along with it. So I cracked open a can of sardines and made a super quick peratal. I wasn’t expecting much, but that meal of rice, leftover sambar, and spicy sardine peratal was one of the most satisfying meals I’ve had recently.

As we grow up, our taste in food changes. So give all those foods you once hated as a kid another try. They just might surprise you!

Shows

Community

I recently started watching Community on Netflix. This show originally aired from 2009 to 2015. Granted, I’m pretty late to jump on this bandwagon, but I’m still down for #6seasonsandamovie. I don’t know why I didn’t watch this show earlier, it’s TV gold!

The show is about a group of unlikely friends who meet at a community college and all the crazy adventures they have together. It’s funny, it’s different, and the show often explores different styles of story-telling which is a pleasure to watch. Watching the show, I feel like I’ve discovered TV’s most iconic duo, Troy and Abed (cue music, Troy and Abed in the morning!).

I watch the show every morning now over coffee, and it makes me laugh so hard. I’m in the last season now and I’m slowly feeling separation blues. I’ve been watching cast interviews and reunions online to keep those blues at bay. Reading all the comments on YouTube, I realise the show has such a huge fanbase.

'6 seasons and a movie' was a popular tagline used on the show and Community was so close! It had 6 seasons and the fans are still waiting on that epic movie! Despite going through challenges like main cast members leaving the show in season 5, Community still remains very entertaining in its last season.

If you haven’t watched the show, I can’t stress enough how much I recommend it. Go to Netflix, watch Community, thank me later.

Games

The Categories Game


I love games! I’m always that annoying cousin who midway through a family function asks, “Hey, want to play Jenga? Or hide-and-seek? Or UNO?”


I enjoy playing mobile games with friends, but I’m a sucker for old-school board games and traditional pen and paper games. Recently, my friends and I were catching up via video call, and we decided to play a word game together (because I’m also the annoying friend who asks, “Hey, want to play a game together?” midway through a video call when it’s close to 12 am).

So, I looked for games online and came across the categories game (click here to learn more). To play this, you just need 3 or more players, pens, paper, and a timer. Since we had all of this, we decided to give it a try. One hour into the game, we're still playing and laughing our heads off!

This game was very nostalgic for me; it brought me back to a simpler time when we didn’t need much to have fun. I’m oddly competitive, so this game can get intense. Trust me. More time is spent debating the validity of your friends’ answers than actually coming up with the answers themselves. I’ve played this game with family and friends on a number of occasions this month and it never fails to amuse me. Every round is different and oh-so intense!


If you’re looking for something to do with your family over the weekend, give this wholesome, old-school game a try.

***

I’m very self-critical. As a result, I’m often very hard on myself when I stumble or fail. But that shouldn’t be the case! Failures are merely opportunities to learn, better ourselves, and they give us a funny story to tell our dearest friends. So, along with my monthly favourites, I also want to include a small section on my ‘Fails of the Month.’ I hope this will serve as a reminder for us to celebrate our failures and not beat ourselves up so much over them.

Fails of the Month


1. Chocolate mousse


Not too long ago, I learnt that we can use aquafaba (the liquid we drain out from a can of chickpeas) to make desserts such as chocolate mousse. At the time, I had a can of chickpeas in my pantry, so that night, my husband and I attempted to make a decadent vegan dessert.

I read some pointers online about the do’s and don’ts of working with aquafaba. The general advice was not to overwhip the aquafaba; once stiff peaks form, stop whipping. Despite being armed with this knowledge, I still ended up overwhipping.


We spooned the mixture into cups anyway and chilled them in the fridge. After dinner (chickpea curry, of course), we immediately grabbed the chocolate mousse and gave it a try.

I don’t think I could describe the taste accurately even if I tried. It was unlike anything I had ever tasted before, and not in a good way. There were more bubbles than substance and it felt like I was eating chocolate flavoured air. We froze the remaining mousse in hopes that this would give it a little more body, but we were terribly mistaken. Somehow freezing the concoction made it worse.

So, the lesson here folks is this: never, I repeat, never overwhip!

2. Kimchi Maggi


You know those ideas you suddenly get that makes you go, “Holy smokes! This would be genius!” Well, my kimchi maggi catastrophe started out that way too.

I was making fried maggi one night and suddenly I thought, “I don’t have a lot of vegetables left in the fridge. Why not add some kimchi? That way I get my dose of vegetables and amp up the flavour too!” So, I tossed a number of things into the frying pan along with a generous amount of kimchi and finally, one packet of cooked Maggi noodles and seasoning.

It looked pretty good! I was excited to try my new invention, all the while wondering whether this would be the next big trend. Well, I quickly got my answer. The kimchi felt out of place and I ultimately enjoyed neither the Maggi nor the kimchi. What started out as an attempt at fusion, ended up very much in confusion.

So the lesson here is this: sometimes the things we try work out, sometimes they don’t, and that’s alright. On the bright side, I had a funny story to share with my dad that night!

***

This difficult time reminds us to appreciate the simple things in life: a plate of home-cooked food, a walk outside, late-night chats with friends, shows that lift our spirits and leave a smile on our faces. As this month draws to an end, let’s savour the simple comforts we are blessed with and make the best of the months to come.

This GIF's got me walking down memory lane. Click here to walk down with me :)

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Image by RetroSupply

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