Book Review | A Life of Adventure and Delight by Akhil Sharma

IMG_0753.JPGThis collection of short stories, each previously published by The New Yorker, deals with Indian characters, mostly involved in love or interpersonal social issues. The eight included stories share common themes including love, physical relationships, arranged marriage, sickness and other threads of daily life.

These stories of varying lengths are direct and the writing easy to follow. The subject matter is best suited for adults, though scenes of intercourse are brief. Despite being a fairly quick read, I did not find this book to be very enjoyable. The dark humor I was hoping for seemed quite sparse. Certain reader’s may also find some of the female character’s situations to be depressing. That said, the book could serve to increase Indian cultural knowledge for an outsider. Check it out from a library near you!

I received an advance reading copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

*If you’ve enjoyed reading A Life of Adventure and Delight, you may be interested in Malafemmena by Louisa Ermelino (2016).

Making Homemade (Mutter) Paneer (cheese curds) with an Indian Mother

To my surprise, making homemade paneer from whole milk and vinegar or lemon juice is a very straightforward and fairly simple process. I will provide the detailed directions below that I was taught by a native Indian for making both the paneer itself and a sauce that goes along to make mutter (peas) paneer or similar dishes. Paneer is an Indian style cheese, similar to raw cheese curds or cottage cheese without the wet part. It resembles tofu in appearance.

Making the Paneer

Ingredients: Gallon whole milk, 2 teaspoons vinegar or 3 tsps lemon juice, 2 tsp salt. Yields about 2 cups paneer

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  • Bring the milk to a boil
  • When boiling, add 2 tsp vinegar and remove from heat
  • Let rest / curdle (visible separation should occur within 2-3 minutes, if not, put it back on the burner)
  • When it appears fully separated, strain through cheesecloth and press out excess moisture (be careful not to over squeeze, it will be very soft at this point)
  • Press the paneer in the cloth between heavy objects for 3-4 hours to remove moisture
  • When done pressing, cut the solid block into pieces
  • Put them in boiling water with 1 tsp salt for about 10 minutes, turning off the heat after 5 minutes.
  • Refrigerate over night and they are ready to go!

Making the Sauce or Making Mutter Paneer

Ingredients: 4 medium tomatoes yielding 2 cups grated, 2 tbs oil, 1 tsp cumin seed, 2 tbs grated fresh ginger, 2 tsp turmeric, 4 tsp coriander, 1 tsp garam masala, 2 bay leaves, 1 tbs yogurt /cream/ cashew paste, salt, 2 cups paneer, mutter/peas, extra tomato sauce as desired

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  • Use a grater on the tomatoes to separate the pulp from the skins, should yield about 2 cups
  • Peel and grate the fresh ginger, yield about 2 tbs
  • Heat the oil in a deep pot
  • When hot, add the cumin seeds. They should pop if it’s hot enough.
  • Add other spices and tomatoes. Mind the splatter.
  • Bring all to a boil and simmer 5 minutes before adding precooked peas, paneer and yogurt
  • Simmer together another 5 minutes
  • If not enough sauce add extra milk and 4 oz tomato img_6430sauce
  • When the oil starts to separate, it’s done. Remove bay leaves before serving with rice or roti

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Pictorials | Lucknow, India – market month photo 31

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Amrood Walla / Guava Man at Aminabad bazaar. 2015. Lucknow, India.

Pictorials | Lucknow, India – market month photo 12

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Noodles in Aminabad bazaar. 2015. Lucknow, India.

Pictorials | Baroda / Vadodara, India – market month photo 05

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रात की बाजार में गुब्बारे वाली लड़की / Raat ke bazaar mein gubbare wali ladki / Balloon girl at night market2015. Vadodara, India.

Pictorials | Agra, India – market month photo 01

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Women at Vegetable Cart. 2015. Agra, India.