Well: I haven’t posted anything here for over one week - because I’ve been real busy! Life is a bit of haze at the moment. In fact, come to think of it - life has been a bit of haze for quite a while. I don’t know about you - but over the last few years or so - life has seemed to be a constant haze of URLs, meetings, emails, text-messages, meetings, laptops, emails, meetings, text-messages, laptops, URLs, wireless LANs, websites, meetings, BBC News 24 and so on - all mixed up in a fuzzy sort of haze - where it’s impossible to work out whether the thing that’s occupying your mind is something that was stimulated by something that someone said - or whether it was stimulated by something that you read on an email or on a web-page, or on BBC News 24.
Or perhaps it was something I read whilst in the men’s bathroom at work? Read on … (and thanks to Ritu for providing the stimulus for this topic!)
Because modern-day living involves being bombarded with these 21st century things that we take for granted - e.g. emails, URLs, text-messages, 24-hour news, laptops, websites, meetings etc. - from the moment we step out of the door on the way to work in the morning - to the moment we get into bed last thing at night, a new kind of advertising is becoming commonplace. I call it “bathroom advertising”. This form of advertising acknowledges the fact that 21st-century living involves being bombarded with all things URL and text-message. It acknowledges the fact that today’s busy work-life (and home-life) involves being inundated with information. A very real information overload - where everyBODY and everyTHING is competing for as many brain-cycles of attention-span as possible.
Yep - bathroom advertising has arrived. For example - if you were to visit my office at work - and more specifically, if you were to visit the bathroom at my office - you would notice that there are bits of paper stuck to the wall: at eye-level just above the mens urinals - or at eye level on the large mirror just above the row of washbasins - or stuck to the chrome of the hand-dryer. And even outside the bathroom: just above the “call-lift” button of the lift-lobby on every floor - and even inside the lift - next to the button panel. And even on the the dispenser of the Flavia coffee machine - the bit that you insert your sachets of coffee-ground into when you go to the kitchenette to make yourself a cup of tea. Each little advertisement competing for your attention: Advertising the fact that email viruses are deadly - or that somebody is having a leaving do - or that some department has changed its processes or that there has been a recent departmental reorganisation. Whatever: it’s obvious that corporate culture is acknowledging the fact that corporate “global” emails do not have the impact that they once had. And this is entirely down to the fact that we are suffering from information overload; it’s not surprising that the only few moments of free time that we get are those that we spend in the bathroom pissing - or stand at the hand-dryer drying our hands, or standing in the lift-lobby waiting for a lift to arrive.
Totally unsurprising actually: ask yourself: how many of you have had lunch with your laptop lately? (i.e. sandwiches from M&S, Tesco or Pret - taken at your desk.) Or no lunch at all - because the only time that you can get a meeting room is at lunch time? Many I bet. (I reckon that I clock up at least 3 “no-lunch days” every week.) Ask yourself how many unread emails you have in your inbox? Emails that you haven’t read yet - or simply won’t read at all - ever. Your decision to read or not to read being made by “sophisticated subject line scanning technique” - or “senders name judgement”. I bet you’ve got loads of unread email with subject lines something like “Departmental Workstack Report for Week 43” or from senders something like “IT Department”. Just hope that people aren’t making judgements about you based on non-returned read receipts … (Have you ever been embarassed by someone coming up to your desk and bringing up a topic that they feel that you shoudl already be aware of because they sent you an email about it a few days ago? The embarassing moment arising when you swing round to your inbox and scroll back to emails from a few days ago - where said person watches over your shoulder and notices such large quantities of unread email - including all the ones from themself. Oops!)
The “ordinary members of the public” have even resorted to such forms of “dead time” advertising: I was sitting on the bus home earlier this week and I noticed a bit of “marker-pen” graffiti the back of the seat in front of me advertising the URL of somebody’s website - perhaps a blog site? Guerilla Marketing .…
Anyway - all this 21st-century information overload caused me to go back to basics: Tonight - being a Saturday night - Ms.79 and me decided to cook a simple but delicious dinner for ourselves: simply saag. A simple, uncomplicated, wholesome and very fulfilling Punjabi dish that we try to make a tradition of cooking every Saturday morning - to eat on Saturday night. And here follows the recipe:
All you need is a couple of medium-size finely chopped onions. some spices: haldi (turmeric), garam masala, ground coriander, salt - as well as some thawed, frozen lumps of chillie, garlic and ginger from your freezer. (For an explanation of what I mean by “thawed lumps” - you have to read a previous recipe) And some maize flour (otherwise known as polenta or cornmeal). Oh - and you also need some spinach leaves and leaves of “spring greens”.
Got these pretty cheap from Asda
We got some green leaves from the supermarket. Spinach and Spring Greens - 300g and 500g respectively. See how cheap they are! Wash all the leaves in your kitchen sink - and then chop them up in batches into coarse ribbons on a chopping board. Dump the chopped-up leaves into a large-ish pan one-third full of boiling water on the stove. (Thanks to Ms.79 for providing the graceful, sexy and sensuous, saag-cooking hands modelled in the kitchen photos.)
Boil the leaves for about 1 hour on a semi-agressive simmer
After about 45 mins of semi-agressive simmering - use a magi-mix blender to “zap” the mixture in 5 or six very-short bursts in order to break-down the coarse, stewing ribbons of leaf into more finely shredded bits:
Zap the mixture about six times in very short 1-second bursts
After another 20 minutes of simmering - give the mixture a good stir - and then prepare the cornmeal mixture: put two heaped dessert-spoons of maize-flour (polenta/cornmeal) into a glass and then add some water from the tap. Give it a good stir - ensuring that there are no lumps - and then add to the simmering saag mixture.
Add the polenta mixture to thicken the saag
Let it simmer for a few minutes - and then chop a generous knob of butter and add to the pot - stirring until melted.
You will especially enjoy the fact that at this point - the saag is not simmering as such - instead large bubbles start to form just below the surface of the mixture - and erupt like mini-volcanoes - making a gloopy sound - and splattering your kitchen in a 2 metre radius around the pot. So make sure that you keep a lid handy - just haf-covering the pot so that some of the water evaporates and thickens the mixture. Simmer like this gently for another half-hour - stirring occasionally - and then turn off the heat after it has reached your desired consistency.
The pot has been simmering for around 1.5 hours now.
Then get another small pot - put in a little oil - heat up and then add onions. Fry until the onions are slightly golden-brown. Then add the ginger, garlic and chillie. Stir-fry for a few minutes until the smell of it all spreads across the kitchen.
Then add the spices to the browned onions: 2 teaspoons salt, 3 teaspoons turmeric, 3 teaspons garam masala, two teaspoons ground coriander. By now - the special aroma will be wafting its way out of your kitchen and into your garden - and from there - onwards into the kitchens of your next door neighbours. They will be envious.
Add the spices and stir-fry until the spices are roasted and the aroma prevails
Then add the onion-spice mixture to the saag pot - and stir until well mixed:
Adding the spices to the saag
Then - when you are ready to eat - heat-up the completed saag until it’s just about to boil - serve into a bowl and accompany with either fresh roti - or naan bread (or pitta bread) and a fresh salad of chopped cucumber, halves of cherry tomato, chunky strips of carrot, halves of small radish, and chunkily-chopped red-onion - all tossed in a few dashes of tangy vinegar. Simply delicious!
Serve with fresh roti, naan or pitta bread - and a colourful salad!
Now turn up the volume loud, click on the red button below, close your eyes and immerse yourself in the sound and rhythm of traditional bhangra music as you imagine that you are a Punjabi village farmhand celebrating the end of a harvesting season by feasting on saag-roti, drinking whiskey and dancing into the night …
If there’s any saag remaining in the pot - just put it away into a microwaveable container with a lid - and store in your fridge. It will keep for around 2 days. Just take out of fridge at any time and put container in microwave for a few minutes of reheat - stirring and reheating until piping hot. You can even store in freezer - and will keep for weeks like that. Just make sure you defrost for a few hours before attempting to reheat in microwave. You could also try making “aloo saag” or “paneer saag” with the leftovers: in either case you simply get some cubes of potato or paneer and fry them until golden brown - perhaps adding some more masala spice and salt to the frying cubes - and then stir them into the saag and serve piping hot. Wonderfully simple - very nutritious and extremely delicious!
It’s funny - cos whilst I was researching links to embed in the above posting - I happened across a page with some interesting stories and facts regarding “Chicken Tikka Masala” as the UK’s national dish - even more popular than Fish & Chips. I just had to laugh when I heard that Chicken Tikka sandwiches from Marks & Spencer are the most popular!Posted by jag at November 01, 2003 10:36 PM