The 7 to 9 Chef/ Chapters 1 to 8 marathon

Author’s note- Hey guys! I’m posting all the chapters together incase anyone has missed on any of the chapters… You should sure;y let me know which one is your favourite!

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Its horrible how people are forced to do something. Like how that crazy alarm of mine pushes me off the bed every morning or how this crazy sister of mine is stuffing conflakes into my mouth right now.

“Cassie, why can’t you ever get ready on time? Your such a pest. Guess thats why Mama and Pa ran away to Chennai. Okay now grab your comb fast and come, we have to rush.” Vicky picks up her keys and I, my comb and gloss and we run to catch the lift.

So this is what my life officialy is. I get up, I rush to work( actually Vicky rushes me off and drops me), I come back home at 5 in the evening and then comes the best part of my day- I make dinner for Vicky, my bro, Jerry and myself. Then all of us eat and watch tv until we are sleepy. Yeah and then of course we doze off and my routine starts again. I always feel my best friends are my pots and pans. I have this connection with the utensils and grocery in the kitchen that only I can understand. Vicky and Jerry think I am mad most of the time.

Looks like I have to get down. So what I am facing now is the greatest enemy of my life- OPL PVT Ltd. OPL manufactures a lot of things like shampoo, soap, mineral water and what not. But I am not concerned with any of these. I work in the human resources department and I am only concerned about a harmonious relationship between the company and its employees. I sometimes feel I do a horrible job. I am here to protect the interests of the employees, which our department never does most of the time and instead does the opposite. For example if the research and development team bring to us that the company is not giving them a raise, then we organise a picnic for them on behalf of the company to pacify them. But truely speaking, I am happy with the pay and like everyone else here at this 5 storey office, I work for the money.

Seems like I have reached my destination- the 4th floor. As I swipe in my ID, I just pray everything goes fine today. Just then I hear a fruity, modulated voice, which sounds sort of familiar.

Oh my god! Did I just hear that right….I am sure I am hallucinating that voice or that name I am hearing right now for God’s sake. Already my day has been bad enough. I woke up late, I lost one of my earring in the car, hence I had to leave my hair down on this hot summer day and worst of all, I ran into my head of department while coming out of the lift and she gave me this horrible stinky look that said “I think I need to have a word with you about your timings Miss.”

Oh no I heard it right, it is him. I see Ananya running towards me.”Cassie, Cassie, guess what, that handsome chap standing there is Raymond Matthews, he is our new HR head.” Ananya was looking super excited and I was hyperventilating because the last time I had seen him, my hand had spoken to him instead of my mouth.

Lets just go back in time for while. I was eighteen, he was eighteen and it was our graduation ceremony at St.Stephen’s high school. He looked perfect in his black suit and red tie and I looked awful in my red chiffon saree with a silver border. After the ceremony, Ray walks upto to me and asks me out on a date and I, without a second thought had slapped him so hard that his cheeks looked redder than his tie. Now back to reality.

Avoiding his presence completely, I sneak into my cabinet and start checking my phone for messages. Yikes! My Mama has called me and if I don’t call her back, she will give me a hundred word lecture about how worried she was. As I wait for the line I can’t help but think about the possibilities of me running into Ray today.

“Hey sweetheart, how are you feeling?” As she spoke I could hear a crackling sound of something being fried in oil. Probably onions. Oh how much I miss her food. A year back Pa decided to shift his business from Bangalore to Chennai due to better opportunities there. Vicky, Jerry and I had to stay back because of our jobs and Jerry’s education. We moved into an apartment after renting out our own house because it was too big to be maintained by three busy people.

“I am fine Mama. Sounds like your making something yum for lunch.”

“Yes Cassie, I am making pulao. So anyways I called up to find out what have you decided. Do you want to move to Chennai or do want to get married.” Oh god she has to be kidding. The thing is Vicky is getting married in a month and Jerry will be moving to Vancouver for his post graduation and I will be left alone, hence my over-obsessive mother has set out on a mission to make things better for me from her ‘perspective’.

“Listen why don’t you meet up Rinky aunty’s son this weekend, Cass. He has just come down from London and seems pretty sweet.”

“No ways are you setting me up with someone Ma. Please keep the phone now. Bye.” I put down the phone on my desk with a thud just to realize that I had spoken a ‘little’ too loud in a fit of rage and had captured a few amazed gazes including……Yes you guessed right…….Ray’s.

There he comes walking towards me with a full-blown smile on his lips. I shift my feet, twirl my hair, meddle with my fingers and I am pretty sure I looked petrified too.

“Oh my god, look who we’ve got here- The Miss Ruth Cassandra Andrews. What a surprise! Its been nearly eight years I guess. So how are you doing?” He sounded absolutely calm and composed as he brushed through his lanky hair.

” Yeah, yeah, I’m great. Nice to meet you. I’ll catch up with you later k, I have work.” I sit down, avoiding his gaze, feeling really embarassed. He still continues though.”Okay so lets meet at the cafeteria for lunch. See you at 12:00 then Cass. Bye.”

I can sense Ananya’s inquisitive looks at us from her cabinet as he walks off.

“Cassie do you have an explanation for whatever that happened now?” Ananya pulls her chair really close to mine.

Throughout my one minute flashback she sat listening to me like a two year old listening to “Hanzel and Gratel” for the first time.

The Yummy Mutton Chops and The Story Of How Annoying I Can Be’

As the clock struck twelve, my stomach clenches so hard that I can’t breathe. I swallow hard and finally find the ‘mental’ strength to stand up and walk towards the lift. As I wait for the lift, I mentally practise different ways of apologising.

“Ray, I am really sorry about slapping you.” Noways, its too direct.

“Ray, you see we were really good friends and I was sort of a traditional person and all, so it was a big shock for me. Please don’t keep all that in mind.” No….no…noooo. I am the person who hates beating around the bush and now?..erghhhhhhhh

“Hey! Why are you looking so stressed?” I turn around to face Ray.

“Hmmm….nothing…nothing at all…eh..why would I be stressed..I am a happy person..right..Ray I am right…right?” I give the most awkward, crooked, forceful smile.

“Cass, are you alright? I mean you are behaving a little weird since morning. Are you feeling uncomfortable around me or something?” He looks at me with his raised eyebrows, waiting for my answer as we get into the lift.

“Hmmm..eh..hmmm..Actually you know what Ray, I want to get this out and get over with it.” Ray looks at me with a very concerned face as if I am about to tell him that I am going to die soon, as we get out of the lift.

“I am really sorry for slapping you eight years back.” I say it really fast and there he goes gwaffing like a mad kangaroo.

“Cassie your such a sweeheart sometimes…..haha!” I look at him in bewilderment. “I can’t believe you still remember all those stuff. We were young and it was just a school boy crush. Don’t worry yourself” It felt like someone had just unloaded something very heavy from my heart.

“Cool then. Lets grab a table fast because we have a lot of catching up to do.” I run to a table in an excited manner.

“So Cassie do you still make those tarts and cakes you used to bring to school.” Ray asks me as we help ourselves some sandwiches and salad.

“Haha..why do you ask? Of course I make them and even more better stuff actually. Cooking is my only relaxation these days.” He gives me one his wry smiles and I knew he was about to say something really weird.

“You know what Cass, I have a confession to make. Actually I fell for you after I had your chocolate mocha cake…haha…” And now it was my turn to laugh.

“So how come you never chose cooking as your career?”

“Hmm..I don’t know Ray…See you were so good at singing, but when I ask you why you never chose that as your career, what will you tell me?”

“Now…now..now, who told you I don’t sing anymore. I have my own band actually and we make some great shows every now and then at parties, weddings and other places. We are called ‘The Super Tango’.” I just stare at him, while he ate his sandwich, in awe.

“WOW….That is so awesome…..I don’t know what to say…. So when do you find time to practice?”

“Mostly on Friday evenings and weekends. You can always do anything if you want to actually do it Cass.”

“But you have to be good at it right?”

“So you feel you aren’t that great at cooking?”

“Hmm..I guess so.”

“You amaze me sometimes Cass. In 9th grade itself you used to bake like a professional and now obviously you are going to be so much more better.”

“I am not really sure about that, but Vicky and my bro definitely love the dinners I make for us.”

He thinks for a moment. “I totally forgot to ask, so how is Vicky and everyone else at home.”

“Everyone is great. Pa and Mama moved to Chennai last year. Jerry got into UBC, Vancouver. Yeah and Vicky is getting married sometime next month.”

“That is just plain awesome. So who is the lucky guy?”

“Do you remember our senior from Vicky’s class, Sam or actually Samuel.”

I watch him as he tries to recollect.”Oh yeah…Of course….How can I forget!…Its that football team captain guy.”

“Yep, you are right. He is also my Papa’s legal advisor’s son. Vicky and Sam have also been best friends since 1st standard, then they went to law school together and now they also work in the same firm. I mean, who else could she marry?”

“Ahh..That is really sweet. Now don’t change the subject.” Ray was also too smart to be tricked. He is not the type to give up easily.

“Ok so what do you want me to do?” I better get to the point else he wouldn’t let go until he has sucked all the air out me.

“What is the date today Cass?”

“Hmm…2nd May.”

I can sense he is upto something by his quirky looks.

“So here is the thing. I want to give you this challenge to come up with 29 original recipes by the 30th of May. And if you are able to do it….You know what, do it and then we will see.” Yeah right, who was I going to kid.

“You are being a bit contradictory here. Do you except me to complete it or not?” He just smiles. “Anyways it sounds fun and you can count me in!”

“So what do you say we call it?…’The 29 recipe challenge’?” I give him one of my pleasantest smiles.

Five hours later I am at HSR Layout trying to find ‘Ramu’s Mutton Shop’, which is nothing more than a shack but it has the freshest meat in town, just because some crazy buffoon challenged me. Ramu bhaiya’s shop is the only one in the whole of Bangalore that provides goat meat unlike the others where only sheep meat is available. My mother always says that goat meat always adds an extra flavour and aroma to the food. Its been a long time since I tried making mutton and I couldn’t find a better occasion to do so. Ah…finally found it.

“Cassieeeee…there you are…Where were you and why was your phone switched off?” Vicky looks terrified as I walk into the house.

With a wide smile I say,”Just wait until dinner to know and about my phone, I think the battery drained out.”

“Oh my, my…What has happened to our Cassie girl. She looks unusually fresh and abnormally happy for once.”, yells my brother from the couch. I throw my bag at him and walk towards the kitchen.



Ingredients for the mutton chops:

  • Mutton chops, cleaned and washed- 1/4 kg
  • ginger garlic paste- 1 tbsp
  • chilli powder- 1 tbsp
  • salt to taste
  • turmeric- 1/2 tsp
  • water- 3/4 cup
  • 1 egg
  • bread crumbs

Method:

  1.  Add all the ingredients to a pressure cooker except for the egg an bread crumbs. After a whistle, simmer and keep for 15 min. Gently remove the weight and open the lid after the steam escapes. If there is water left in cooker then heat until it evaporates. Let it cool.
  2. Beat the egg well with some salt and pepper. Dip the chops in the egg and roll it in the bread crumbs and deep fry until a deep brown.

I am serving this with rice and spinach curry because Mama always insists on including a vegetable in our diet.

“Sis this is fantastic.”Jerry tells me as he grabs another of the chops.

“Curse you for buying only 1/4 kg Cass..”, laughs my sister.

I click a picture of the yummy chops and Whatsapp it to Ray and lie down waiting for my phone to beep. Wait……wait…wait…What did I just say!!!!!….JUST KNOW THAT I AM NOT WAITING FOR ANY BEEEEPPPPP!! OKAY???

The Awesome Chicken Bake and The Story of My Misfortune

Finally its Sunday. As I open the window in my bedroom and let the fresh air flow in, I can feel a relaxation striking me. Six days of hard work surely deserves a huge round of an applause.

CASS!!!!!….Are you ready?? We always get late to church because of you.” Ehhh…And just now I thought my week had got better. I could sense the irritation in the air from my sister’s voice. Vicky has always been obsessed with time all her life. She gets very nervous even if she is not a minute earlier than an hour before the scheduled time. When she was in school she made it a point to be at school half an hour before the bell and insisted on taking my bro and me too. Not only did she spoil her reputation but also ours. Even now there is an hour for the service to start and our apartment is only five minutes away from church, yet she freaks out.

“Vicksy, please chill out. There is an hour more for mass to start,” yells my brother from his bedroom before I could say anything.

I pick out the abandoned yellow floral dress from Vero Moda, which my mother had given it to me for Christmas 2013, from my cupboard. I finally realized it deserved a day out. I couple it with my favourite white crochet wedges.

Oh la la!!..Jerry I could bet ya that something surely has got into our Cassie darling lately,” says my sister as I walk into the living room.

“Don’t tell me your blushing now, Cass.” My brother makes it all the more worse for me. They are seriously making me wonder if something is wrong with me.

“Don’t you all think we are getting really late and have to leave!” I say in a vexed tone.

“Ya right…Look who is concerned about being late,” laughs my sister as we make a move.

As usual after service at sharp 10:00 am I get a call from my mother. I don’t understand why she never bothers to call my siblings. They have a phone too.

“Hi baby doll..” No one can change Mama.

“Stop calling me that mom.”

“Are you free to meet Neil tomorrow baby doll? In case your not please make yourself free after 5 in the evening. Okay honey?” I don’t know if she heard me or if she pretended not to.

“Sorry!!..WHO IS THIS NEIL NOW??” I ask my mother and simultaneously my sister shoots suspicious glances from the driver’s seat and as usual my brother is lost in his messaging world.

“Didn’t I tell you about Rinky aunty’s son yesterday. Don’t tell me you have amnesia or something Cass.” God!..I still can’t believe she is doing this to me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don’t even care to reply, she goes on though.

“Don’t tell me now that you are off to pick up that brat now.”

“Her name is Evana, Mama, and not ‘brat’,”I yell back. Evana is my six year old best buddy from ‘Sweet Home Orphanage’. Sr.Monica, my Papa’s cousin, is the in charge there. The orphanage is inside the ‘Sisters of peace’ convent . Anyone is allowed to sponsor a kid for a decent private school education at St. Peter’s Girls’ high School, which is also part of the convent. Hence, I have been sponsoring Evana for the past year. Over the course of time we became really close and I bring her home for lunch on Sundays and drop her back by 3:00 in the evening. She is also one of the reasons I look forward to Sundays. So of course my mother disapproves of it just because she has to oppose everything I do.

“I don’t know why you take unecessary trouble to be so good. Isn’t Sunday the only day you are free?” Asks Mama.

“Ma I have already told you and I am telling you once again that I do this because I love to have her over and it is not service.”

“Okay now give the phone to your useless brother,” says Mama.

Ah finally she is done. I sometimes wonder how she has so much energy.

” Cassie, Mama is telling you to wear the red anarkali for tomorrow’s date,” says Jerry as he declines the call. Errrgh…Why can’t she ever forget something. I give him an awful look indicating him to stop.

“Cassie get down fast. I can’t find a place to park.” I scramble out of the car as quickly as possible. I try really hard to forget everything and enjoy my Sunday.

Every Sunday my sister drops me off at the orphanage and Evana and I pick up grocery for our super Sunday lunch and get back home. I can see Evana on the swing eagerly waiting for me and her face lights up like a hundred watt bulb when she sees me. She runs to hug me as I wave at Sr. Monica, standing at the doorway of the orphanage.

My phone beeps when we are at the supermarket.

Sry Cassie, just got mobile data.

Wow! this looks lovely. Why din you sav sm for me??

I reply-

You shud ve warned me. Ok i gtg now. will get bac hm and call!! join us for lunch if ur free.

My phone beeps again

Okie! bye…seeya then! Address???

“Cassie….What are we going to make today?” Did I say Evana is a great help in the kitchen!

“What does this little kitten want to have?” I say as i type the address.

“Chicken!!!”

“So chicken it is…”

I seat Evana on her favourite spot in the kitchen- the counter. I marinate the chicken and keep it in the refrigerator. I generally hate to marinate chicken on such a short notice but when I have to,I do it. I preheat the oven and simultaneously boil rice and season it with some kashmiri saffron to serve with the bake. Just then the door bell rings. I warn Evana not to touch anything and run to get the door.

“That was fast.” I tell Ray, as he enters the house.

“My house is only half an hour from here. Where is Vicky and your brother?”

“Vicky has gone to see a couple of dining halls for the wedding with Sam and Jerry has gone for his squash practice.”

“Cassie,where are you? The silver thing is making some noise.”

I run to the kitchen to simmer the stove with the cooker. Ray follows me.

“Who do we have here now?” Ray asks me,looking at Evana.

“I’ve to ask you that first mister. Who is this guy, Cassie?” Evana asks me,a little pissed. She looks adorable as she folds her arms. Ray starts laughing.

“This is Ray, Evana and Ray, this is Evana.”

Ray lends his hand and she shakes it with her usual proud attitude. A minute is enough for anyone to like this darling. I start greasing a tray for the bake and Ray tries his best to make her talk to him.

“By the way Cass totally forgot to ask, what is your special recipe for the day then?” Ray asks me.

“So this is that challenge guy.”Evana says before I could reply. I nod. Finally she smiles.

“Hi Ray, I am Evana.” I knew it they will get along well.

We leave the chicken to bake and decide to watch some TV in the meanwhile.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 kg chicken fillet
  • salt to taste
  • Chilli powder- 1tsp
  • Coriander powder- 1 tbsp
  • Garam masala- 1 tsp
  • Cumin powder- 2 tsp
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 pinch turmeric
  • 1 egg beaten with salt and pepper
  • bread crumbs

Method:

  1. Add everything except the egg and bread crumbs to the fillet. Let it marinate overnight.
  2. dip each fillet in egg and dust with crumbs. Bake on a greased tray in a preheated oven for 10 mins on each side at 180 degree celsius.

It tastes heavenly. Its bad my sis and Sam couldn’t join us. Jerry made it right on time though. Evana is absolutely relishing very bit of the bake. Ray praises me everytime he takes a bite. I am the only one who couldn’t enjoy it because I was so preoccupied about the misfortune that was about to befall upon me tomorrow in my mother’s form……….

Paruppa Vadais and the Story of my Awesomely Ridiculous Date

Monday again…and as usual my sister is screaming, but the good news is I am not running late for work. Sometimes…acutually everytime when our older siblings take the role of a parent in our life, I am sure its highly pissing off for anyone and the same is happening to me right now. I sometimes wish I had a life right out of a movie. A little bit masala, a little bit tadka just like the ingredients to my vadas can be spared to me.

“Is it necessary for you to make the vada batter Cass?” Why can’t she ever try to be a little bit easy on herself and on others..

“I am trying to do something in my life for once Vicky. Please don’t spoil it for me. I woke up at 4 to soak the channa dal, got up at six and made everything and I am ready by 7 right. I timed everything. Chill out. Just remember to deep fry the vadas when your back and heat the rasam I’ve made for dinner.”

Vicky looks amazed. “Since when did you become so active? Anyways Cass are you sure about meeting that Neil guy or should I speak to mama?” Vicky sounded very concerned. “You know mama right. She won’t listen to anyone. Let me just go and prove it to her that it was a waste. Probably he will be a good person. Who knows?”

“As you say. The anarkali looks gorgeous on you though, but just keep a bindi and darken you lip colour,” says Vicky. We get into the car and I ponder on the horrible possibilities of how my date can turn out to be as the car moves.

“Hey Cass hold the lift. HOLD IT!!” Ray screams from the main door as I enter the lift. He comes running.

“Thank you Cass.” He looks at me a little surprised and says,” Where are you going fully dressed up?”

“How does it matter to you anyways?”

“I just asked. By the way who is Evana to you. I didn’t want to ask yesterday,” he asks as we get out of the lift.

“That is really sweet of you to do something like that Cass,” he tells me once I tell him about Evana.

“Hmm..I don’t see that way though. Its fun to be around her and that actually makes me a selfish person because I sponsor her for my happiness.” Ray gives me one of his sweetest smiles ever.

Seven hours later I am in the office washroom trying to apply some liner. I realize I am pathetic at it and I need Ananya’s help big time. She really is a saviour. As my sister said I keep a bindi and use Ananya’s darker lip shade. That girl surely does spend a fortune on her makeup. Not to be too narcissistic but I really looked nice. The red surely enhanced my dusky skin tone. Mama is never wrong..hmm..only when it comes to dressing.

I reach Boca Grande by six and I ask for table number eight. Neil had actually sounded pretty sweet on the phone by the way.

“Neil?” He smiles. “I am Cassandra but please call me Cassie.” I lend my hand for him to shake.

“Hello there. Really nice to meet you in person.” He had this horrible shrill voice and I try hard not to laugh. “You sounded so different on the phone that I didn’t expect you to look so pretty.”

WHAT…THE…..HELL!!!!…Did this donkey just insult my voice. God knows if he has ever heard himself speak. What sort of weirdo has my mom set me up with. I fake a smile though just to be polite and pray that this ends fast.

“Please do sit down.” I wish I could throw something at him. ” I am a cardiologist. Your mother surely must have told you. I did my post graduation in London.” He emphasizes so much on the ‘London’ like as though he was the first one from India to go abroad for post grad.

“Yes she surely did.” I fake smile again. Why is this happening to me. But I’ve to say he really does look good. More than six-feet tall, perfectly combed hair, ironed shirt and most important of all great shoes. You can always tell a gentleman by his shoes. I can bet he is no gentleman though.

“So tell me something about you,”he asks.

“I tell you Vicky, he just asked me that for a courtesy sake because right after my 30 second incomplete interrupted introduction he started blowing his trumpet which didn’t end for the next two hours.” I haven’t stopped cribbing from the time I got home and my sis and bro haven’t stopped trying to make me feel better. My ears were exhausted from hearing his nonsense achievements and my tongue dry from giving false praises.

“Seriously why would anyone care about his Cacti plant that didn’t die unlike his friend’s or about his well maintained refrigerator or his specially imported french soap or his allergy for Chocolate Cosmos which is actually a flower by the way and not some chocolate as I presumed it was. He looked down upon me for not knowing it. Why would I care if his 7 year old niece knew what it was. Apparently it is a very rare flower from Mexico and I can’t even remember the story of how he found he was allergic to it. And..and.”

“Cass its ok…please relax.” Vicky says cutting me short.

“Let her continue no. It was so funny,” laughs my idiotic brother. I throw the remote at him but he catches it.

“That loser has already killed me enough for the day Jerry, you don’t make it worse.” My mother calls at the wrong time. Thankfully my sister grabs the mobile from me on time and tells her I am having a wash.

“Cass you must be hungry. Come and try the yummy vadas,” says my sister as she returns my mobile. Finally my mood lightens up. Vicky sure does know how to divert me.

“Yeah Cass, they were a masterpiece,” Jerry says.

The vadas sure do taste amazing. I am really loving this! I click a pic and whatsapp it to Ray.

Generally in the traditional vadas dry red chillies are added. The variation of add green chillies and garlic instead surely adds a wonderful flavour. When we grind them together, a totally new avatar is attained by them.  Urad dal is also not added but I’ve added it because it will make the insides of the vada puffy and the exterior crispy. It surely has done the magic.

IMG-20150421-WA0001

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup channa dal
  2. 1 tbsp urad dal
  3. 1 onion chopped
  4. 2 green chillies
  5. salt to taste
  6. 10 curry leaves chopped
  7. chopped coriander- a handful
  8. 4 garlic cloves

Method:

  •  Soak the channa dal and urad dal in 3 cups of water for 3 hours.
  • In a blender, add the chillies, garlic, salt. Pulse two times. Now completely drain the dal of any water and add it to the blender. Grind well until a perfect paste is obtained. Please note do not add any water to it while grinding.
  • Add the paste to bowl. Add the onions, curry leaves and coriander.
  • Heat oil in a kadai. Shape the vadas as seen in the pic and deep fry until golden brown. We can also store the batter to use later. It stays fresh for two whole days if we refrigerate.

My phones beeps as I gobble up the third vada.

Awesome Cass…..You are surely taking this seriously….XD XD. I am going for the 10:30 show to INOX at Lido. You peeps wanna join??

I ask my bro and sis and they are more than interested. Finally we rush to get ready.

Sure…Count us in…- I reply

Almond and Raisin Bread Pudding and The Story of a Beautiful Gown

Do you know the kind of people into who’s mouth you would love to shove a hundred bitter gourds until they plead for your mercy…yes that’s surely the sort of person sitting in front of me- my head of department, Mrs. Harshini.

“Miss. Ruth, so what you are trying to tell me is, choosing your sister’s wedding gown is so much more important to you than your work as of now.” First of all I hate it when someone calls me Ruth and second of all who the hell is she to question me like that. I just asked for the second half off today. I should have decently listened to Ananya and lied. What did I think?

“No Mam. Not at all Mam. You have totally gt me wrong. I am done with all my meetings for the day and I haven’t taken a day off for 2 months now and..and my poor sister has to go all alone. Its her wedding Mam. How many times can she pick out a gown like this…” What nonsense am I mumbling. But I know one thing for sure, wedding sentiments work miracles with Indian women. I can sense a relaxtion in her manner.

“Okay Ruth you can go.” She is not so bad after all. “But… “She is worse, of course! “…you have to attend the seminar for Human resources department at Leela Palace on behalf of our company branch day after tomorrow.”

OOOOOHHHHH NOOOOOOO…that was the thing everyone was avoiding since last week.. What have I got myself into for my sister. Its the world’s worst punishment. Every year the company makes and amends the rules for the employees. Of course if it concerns the employees it most certainly concerns us also. OPL holds it at Leela palace every year and a lot of HR consultants join in from various branches in the country. The board of directors play the main part and we are just puppets. Last year it was Ahmed and Anusha and this year its me and ?…

“Raymond will accompany you..” says Harshini as she signs and throws another of the million files piled up on her desk.

Probably it’s not going to be so bad..

My phone beeps.

Cass I’m in the parking area…how long will it take…Did that witch create a big scene..

I’ll be there in a minute- I reply

My sister promised me my current dream shoes for attending the seminar. What she actually doesn’t know is I am not too pissed about it. I don’t know why though..;)

“Cass, I feel something is up with you and Ray. You know you can tell me anything and everything because I am your sister and I care about you.” She is the best ever. We have always been very close probably because she is only a year older than me.

“Nothing like that Vicky. It is just fun to talk to him. He is really funny and I like him as a friend.”

“Why are you blushing then,” she laughs. I don’t understand why my sister and brother make such a big deal about Ray. We are just good friends.

“Hey, I think we are here. This is the Green Wills apartment,”  says Vicky. Thank God we reached else she would have eaten my head. Vicky and I are going to meet the legend of wedding gowns in India, Elsa Parera. We somehow got her number through Ananya and finally convinced her to design Vicky’s gown after a week of pleading and begging. Last month we had visited her with Mama at her office and placed the order and paid the advance. Now we are here to collect it. She wanted us to come over to her place because her office was undergoing remodeling.

I can smell a strong fragnance of lavendar as I enter her house. Everything looks just too pink to me. I have to admit that she has a beautiful apartment though. It must have cost her a fortune and the world a lot of pink.

“Hi Vicky and hi Cassie. So good to see you all.” There is something about her that will amuse anyone. She is certainly not that pretty. She is short but a fit middle-aged lady. Her dressing sense is fantabulous though. After all she wouldn’t be a designer if she had a dressing sense like mine. I feel like a beggar next to her.

Vicky looks so excited. Hopefully the gown fits her and everything goes fine.

“Ronny bring order number 145D,” yells Elsa to someone out of sight. Seconds later a beautiful girl with a more beautiful gown in her hand emerges out of the door opposite to the couch we were sitting on.

“This is Ronny my assistant and Vicky, this is your beautiful gown,” says Elsa as she hands it over to Vicky, who carries it like a new born baby to the dressing room to try it on.

In went a normal workaholic, tired woman and now comes an angel. The door seems more like heaven’s gate way for a moment. I don’t know if words could make the gown sound more beautiful than it actually looks, but I am going to try my best.. Its a beautiful off-shouldered upper piece, into which a hundered zircon stones are sewn thereby completely covering the front portion. Elsa suggested swarovski crystals instead, but that was way out of our budget. These zircon stones are glimmering like diamonds and are surely doing the job. The back has some criss-cross work. The lower piece has layers of tulle one after the other making it look a little bushy and the final layer has few patches of elegant applique work here and there. The final layer is also lengthy something that Elsa calls as a court train. The gown is also off-white and surely brings out Vicky’s complexion better than the white we had suggested.

Vicky looks mesmerized as she looks into a long mirror.

“Cass can you pinch me?”

“Vicky, you look beautiful. Wait till Sam sees you..” I say

“She looks like an angel, doesn’t she Cass?” exclaims Elsa. I smile in reply.

“Cassie, click a pic and whatsapp it to mom and dad.”

“I think I’ll send it only to dad. He can show Mama.” Vicky glares at me as though warning me not to create a scene. I do as told….actually compelled. Mama calls right after a minute. I don’t get it why she calls to my phone always. I give it to my sister. I have had more than enough of her lecture in the morning. She was so worried about how bad that psychopath Neil would have felt after I left Boca Grande, complaining of a headache. She thinks I made it too obvious and have hence spoiled her friendship with Rinky aunty, who she has never met. Rinky aunty and Ma only got to know each other through a common friend and only because they were looking for a match for their kids. I can’t believe a 26 days friendship matters more than a 26 year old relationship to Mama.

Finally we reach home, after travelling 20 kms to and fro, in a miserable state. Thank God Jerry was home and we needn’t take the trouble to open the door. Trust me we are that tired.

After freshening up I get into the kitchen only to feel more relaxed unlike other people who take cooking as a stress.

Today, I certainly wanted to eat something sweet for dinner. I finally decide to make pudding with the loads of bread slices in the refrigerator. I know its weird to eat dessert as main course but I guess we are weird and moreover the pudding is really filling.

Ingredients:

  • Bread- 12 slices, buttered on one side with unsalted butter and cut into 4 cubes each
  • 500 ml milk
  • sugar- 1/2 cup or to taste
  • handful of almonds and another hanful of raisins
  • 1 egg- nicely beaten
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Grease a baking tin with butter. Using six slices completely cover the bottom of the tin such that the buttered side faces upwards. Now sprinkle all the raisins and half of the almonds over the slices. Layer rest of the slices over it. Add rest of the almonds. If we add the raisins on top they get burnt                                                       .
  2. In bowl dissolve the sugar in the milk. Then add the beaten egg and vanilla extract.
  3. Pour the above mixture over the bread and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degree celsius for 20 minutes.

“This recipe challenge thing is working good for me even if it is not for you Cass. Yummmm….It tastes too good,” says Jerry.

I have to say the bread-pudding tastes amazing with the strawberry sauce.

A get a message from Ray.

Amazing! 25 recipes to go and your surely on the right track…

The Custard Apple Payasam and The Story Of A Red Beauty

You know what, I don’t get the point of celebrating birthdays…Today is my birthday and its just like any other of my boring days. I have’nt grown wings nor have I got a new halo. Vicky and Jerry are not like that. They give a list of million things to my Pa for buying, buy new clothes, throw huge parties and do other cliche birthday stuff. But I so hate doing such stuff.

I open facebook to see millions of birthday wishes from peolpe who didn’t even know I existed after they wished me last year. Its funny how I suddenly become important to everyone. As I get off the bed my leg hits against something. I look down to find a beautiful red box decorated with glitter. I open it to find a note and another small red box. The note says:

Dear Cass Sweety,

Some things in this world are just made beautiful and don’t need that extra tinkering like a beautiful rose. You, honey are nothing less than that rose.  In this world of hypocrites and dramatists you chose to differ. Being different is not easy my girl and I know you know that. Millions of people claim they are diiferent but are being nothing but fake. Cassandra, my girl, just remember those million people will mock at you, criticize you, but just remember they do not matter to you. The ones who matter don’t send a birthday wish on facebook, their love for  you will be visible in their eyes. You have achieved your place in this world as a beautiful rose among a million dry roses for 26 years now and I hope you continue to do so. 

Love,

Papa

P.S- Don’t open the little red box immediately. Just go to the basement and then open it.

P.P.S- Please listen to me for once darling……

Omg I am crying. No one but my dad can say such beautiful things. He never talks much but he is the best.

As the lift starts moving I realize my sis and bro were not around at home. There is surely something fishy about all this red and the box and….Okay, whatever it is let it be a surprise. Probably I don’t hate birthday surprises as much as I hate birthdays.

THIS IS SURELY NOT HAPPENING!!!! AM I DREAMING OR WHAT????…….

The basement is completely empty except for a beautiful Volkswagon Red Beetle car. Suddenly Vicky and Jerry jump from behind the pillars in the basement screaming ‘Happy Birthday’.

“Looks like madam is not going to need me anymore for dropping her at work.” Vicky is all smiles and I stand dumbstruck. I can’t believe Papa actually remembered that I love Beetles. I then open the tiny red box to find a key..

My mom’s call surely brought me back to my senses.

“Happy birthday baby doll….. Did you like the car honey?..But I am pretty sure you would have liked a diamond necklace better. Your father never listens to me ever.”  I am so happy that I am least bothered about the ‘baby doll’ too. Anyways I don’t get the point behind Indian women’s love for gold jewellery. Not in a million years would I go for a necklace instead of a car.

“Thank you Mama and please, the car is a total beauts. Please give the phone to Papa.”

“Hi sweetheart. Happy birthday. hope you liked my gift.”

“Dad! Are you kidding me? Do i like it?….I am  totally  mad over it. I am so happy. Thank you so much.”

“So glad Cass. Okay go get ready now. Your going to be late for work. Bye honey. Have a good day.”

“Are you going to drive it or what?” asks my brother.

I tell him- “I think I am going to brush my teeth and have a wash first. I don’t want to dirty the car.” They start laughing.

As I search my cupboard for something to wear, my eyes fall on something lying on the bed. It looks a bag from Forever New. It surely has to be my sister’s gift because she loves Forever New.

It is a pretty lace knee-length dress. I decide to wear it for work.

“Thank you Vicky.”

“You are totally welcome. The dress looks gorgeous on you.” Just then my brother walks out of his room with an envelope in hand and hands it right over to me. I open it to find a coupon for Anne’s spa valid over a year. He hugs me and wishes me for my birthday and says, “You surely need a day out Cass!”

I have always had a fascination for red cars espeacially if it is a beetle. As I drive it I am falling in love with it more and more by the second. There were times when I have wished my office was right next to my house, but now I wish it were kilometres away.
I have been working at OPL for two years now and yet haven’t been to the parking area even once. Just as I get out of the car, I catch sight of Ray walking towards me with open arms, in awe.

“Woah! Woah! Woah! Take it easy my girl..Looks like a birthday present to me. Anyways Cass, Happy Happy Birthday..”

“OMG…I can’t believe you actually remembered.”

“Haha. I am actually pretty okay with dates and when it comes to my school bestie, HOW THE HELL WILL I FORGET..Come give me a hug now!”

“Awww..Thank you so much Ray. That is so sweet of you to remember.”

“And…I also picked up something small for you, actually got it made. Now..Now..now..please don’t make a fuss about how you cannot accept it and all that nonsense, k?” He hands me something wrapped in a beautiful tissue wrap and walks a little away to attend some call. I open it to find a beautiful book with a collage of beautiful utensils and with the following words written on it-“To the girl who slapped me.” I couldn’t help but smile. I flip the pages to find the first few filled with pictures of my recent recipes and the recipes hand-written below it.

“You’ve got to fill the rest of the 25 pages for yourself now. I want this to be a motivation for you to prove it to yourself that you are an amazing cook.” He is just too cool a friend.

“I mean Ray..umm..I don’t know what to say. This is so thoughtful of you. Thank you so much.”

“No thank yous and sorrys between friends. Remeber who taught me that?”

“Haha..obviously such awesome stuff are proclaimed by only legends like me..”

As I press the button in the lift for the 4th floor, Ray asks me- “So where is the party?”

“No party and all that. I’ll make something and take it to ‘Sweet Home Orphanage’ and have fun with the kids there. Hmm..then probably dinner with family. Sam and Ananya may also join. That’s all. Join me for dinner then if you want a treat so badly..haha”

“I think I’ll come with you to the orphanage too and help you to make something for them.” I smile to give my approval.

All through the morning I had prayed so hard to prevent Ananya from creating a fuss at the office about my birthday. But as usual the birthday girl’s wish went unanswered. The worst part is everyone are wearing birthday caps!! What was oI, some 3 year old? Evana itself hates buying caps for her birthday. Then as usual I had to take around 10 people for lunch as a treat for the cheapo cake they bought me which would have hardly cost anything compared to the bill I was going to pay.

Ray and I bought some really fresh custard apples on the way back home. I decided to make some custard apple paysam. It is considered very auspicious to make payasam on special days by Tamilians. Ray is surely having a woderful time separating the pulp from the seeds for 10 whole custard-apples…XD… Of course I helped him but he told me not strain on my birthday. I finally realize his sweetness isn’t actually fake as I had percieved it to be.

Ingredients:

  • 500ml chilled milk
  • 1/4 tsp elaichi powder/ cardamom powder
  • Melt a few lumps of jaggery with 1 cup water by heating, strain this hot liquid. Use this strained liquid as required for the Payasam. The sweetness required differs from person to person.
  • 2 custard apples’ pulp

Method:

Mix all the ingredients together and serve. It tastes well when chilled or also slightly warmed. This measuremet serves two people.

Everyone loved the payasam and Ray is having a brilliant time with all the kids. He is so casual with them. Evana, the proud peacock itself has become his fan now. Sr. Monica takes me aside and asks me, “Cassie is that your boyfriend?”

“What? No!! He is just a good friend Aunty.”

“Ok dear. But he seems like a good guy though..”

An hour later we join Vicky, Sam, Jerry and Ananya for dinner at Mainland China. And the day ends with Vicky shooting suspicious glances at me throughout dinner.

Watermelon Mojitos and The Story Of Ray’s Slow-Wittedness

Ray is proving to be an awesome companion even for boring seminars for sure. I am totally a psycho for having turned him down in the most inappropriate manner ever. I should have atleast said a decent ‘no’. What’s the use to fret now anyways. He probably has a girlfriend already or worse, he could be engaged…or…or EVEN MARRIED. Why am I so bothered anyway?

“Cass, these guys are too much..I am simply raising my placard for every alternate suggestion..haha..” I can’t even laugh because my mind is preoccupied with the dead certainity of Ray being MARRIED. I just slowly try to take a peak at his finger. Obviously there was nothing. What was I even thinking??…XD

“Cass..Cassie??..Did like doze off with your eyes open??”

“Hmm..No no..I was just thinking of something.”

“About what to cook for today??.” I just realize he has really soft eyes and the world’s perfect smile. Only if I could muster the guts to tell him that I was thinking about him. Why the hell am I so egoistic?

“Yes.”

I think I should just concentrate on the two old men arguing about another old man’s suggestion. A few minutes pass by and the fact of his possible engagment hasn’t digested in for me just yet.

“Yes.”

“Sorry Cass, did you just say something?”

“YES..I said ‘yes’.” He looked more confused than I am actually feeling. What am I saying? Am I in my right senses.

“For what?”

“I said ‘yes’ for your question.” I am sweating pretty bad due to the stress I am under. He looks at me a bit startled. Poor guy…..

“Didn’t you already say ‘yes’ before for my question? Is this seminar causing you to forget stuff? You want to get some fresh air dude?”

“But Ray this ‘yes’ is for another of your question that went unanswered .” I am pretty sure of my nut being a little loose..a lot actually.

“HUH..What?…What unanswered question Cass?..Hmmm…Is this some sort of joke?” Why am I embarassing myself to such an extent?…. “Its ok, leave it Ray..I’m just being stupid..Forget this even happened..Okay?”

He is at a loss of words. All this was too much for him. “Cass…is everything fine?”

Why is he being so sweet..Ergggghhhhhh. “Cassie honey just be straightforward. You have made it this far and you can surely complete what you started”, I tell myself.

“Ray..” Its okay, just say it, Cassies dearest. “..I said ‘yes’ for the question you asked me on graduation day, eight years back.” I finally say it a bit too fast in a shaky voice. What a relief! He is suddenly all ‘not so confused.’ He doesn’t say anything though.

“I mean I know your probably engaged. But, I had to get this out of my system you see.. Please don’t hate me or anything.” I completely avoid any eye contact with him. He suddenly did something really pissing off- he laughed. I was trembling and literally on the verge of falling off my uncomfortable chair and there he was laughing.

“Shut up Ray..people are looking.”

“OOps..sorry…sorry”. He isn’t controlling his laughter yet though. Someone could’ve rather hit me with an iron rod instead..Why me???…ergggghhhhhh!!!!! Nooo!

” Cass..” I look away. How much insult can a common human put up with?

“Look at me for a second now, will you!” I lift my head to meet his eyes and the uneasiness I was feeling suddenly felt good.

” I am not engaged. ”

“That’s all you want to tell me, is it?,” I ask very disappointed.

“Will you ever let me say anything.” He surely looked helpless. Probably I should just shut up. He tries to say something but stops. Finally a minute later he opens his mouth and I wait eagerly.

“You spoiled the flow Cass, its hard now…” Why hadn’t I shut up decently? “..So let me just say it in simple words. Where do you want to go Hitler?”

I can’t believe he called me ‘Hitler’. He joined Stephan’s only in eleventh grade. We never spoke initially. During a debate for a workshop on ‘Hitler’s ideals’, I spoke for it and he against it. Then eventually we became friends and I’ve been known as ‘Hitler’ since then.

“Haha Hitler??…that was so weird…I don’t know why everyone came up with it..”

“Cause you was always a Hitler, Cass. Okay tell me where should we go?”

“This is so not the perfect date I expected…” I sigh..

“Do you wanna like start again..???”

“Yeah better!”

He takes a deep breath.

“Dear Miss. Ruth…oops you don’t like that, do you?..okay.. Dear Miss. Cassandra, I would really be greatly obliged if you would honor me by coming for dinner with me this Sunday night.

“Haha…not so formal either..but yet Mr. Raymond, I would love to join you for dinner this Sunday only if you could do me the favour of letting me make it.”

“My pleasure dearest!!.. Haha…that was so good.. I was so scared to ask you cause of your slap. I’ve not asked anyone out since then, you know?. You scared me for life Cassie…hahhaa!” I look at him apologetically.

“But I wouldn’t have got a chance to go out with an angel if you hadn’t slapped me then.” Should I say something for this or just smile and not spoil the sweetness with my inappropriate lines. Latter sounds so much better..XD.

A few hours later…

You did not do that!!”

I walk from the couch to the refrigerator to avoid my sister’s looks and pretend to drink some water. She looked too mad.

“Are you mad Cass?…A girl does not ask a guy out. Oh god!!.. Your so immature baby sis,” sighs Vicky with anger.

“Don’t be such a sexist..” I sneer back. “…and for your info I just answered an unanswered question.”

“Jerry reduce the TV volume for God’s sake,”she yells. My brother’s annoyance is clearly visible but he cleverly decides to shut up knowing Vicky’s ways.

“And you..” I am going to be dead meat today. “..what stupid question your talking about? Your 26. Did u get that. Not 16. I don’t know what he would be thinking. Your such a kid Cass, such a kid! Only if Ray would know that. You don’t know this world. What would anyone think if they knew this? What would papa and mama say? They left you under my guidance and…oh god..I should..!”I stop her immediately. I sometimes wonder how she gets so much energy only while fretting.

“Vicky, I know what I am doing and Ray is my friend, and he likes me and will never hurt me. And I told Mama everything, she was like this is the sweetest thing ever and went to the extent of planning my wedding.. Haha..can you believe it? Mama is so ridiculous sometimes right?”

“No all the time.” This didn’t sound very funny to me though. “What is mama thinking? First she sends you off on a date with a psychopath and now supports your psychotic ideas. I should talk to her right away. If you are behaving like a teen, she is behaving like a baby.” As she picks up her mobile, she gets a call. If Ray hadn’t called her and reassured her of my mental stability, my mom would have also become dead meat by now. Thank god he read my message……XD

Too much of summer and too much of my sis is seriously hitting me hard. A chill drink is needed to cool my heated brain for sure.

My eyes fall on a juicy watermelon as I open the fridge to pour me some Sprite. Mmmm..I have to surely make something.

Ingredients:

1. 1 glass watermelon+2 tsp sugar blended

2. 12 mint leaves

3. 6 lemon slices

4. 6 ice cubes

5. Sprite

Method:

1. In two glasses add 6 mint leaves, 3 lemon slices, 3 ice cubes each. Slightly crush them with a spoon and squeeze some lemon too.

2. Equally add the watermelon juice.

3. Fill rest of the glass with sprite.

Yummmmmm….these taste divine!!!!!!! A perfect treat for summer for sure.

Methi Rice And The Story Of A Big Problem

May 8th, 6 recipes done, 23 to go- I count as I jot down the recipe for my watermelon mojitos in the lunch break. Ray picks up his tray from the counter and walks towards my table.

“Sorry got held up cause of a call.”

“Not a prob dude. Chill! I had to update the book you gave me anyways. There was no time last night.”

“Yeah, obviously. Your sister was so mad. If you had waited until last evening, I would have asked you myself Cass! There wouldn’t have been so many problems,” he sighs.

“Really?” I enquire a bit out of curiosity.

“Do you remember the first day I saw you yelling into the phone, sulking as usual?”

“Yes.”

“Well, that very moment I was knocked down. You hadn’t changed a bit. Which adult would scream into a phone like that, tell me? Only your hair is a bit longer, otherwise you are still my same old high school bestie!!”

“Mama made me to.” I try to make him understand

“Still the same old stubborn Cassie you are, can’t you see it?. Even now you try to defend yourself with that innocent little voice of yours and that’s why you shatter me to bits every time we meet.”

“But everyone say I have a pathetic voice,” I say, remembering Neil.

“HAHA..Yes! A pathetically cute voice,” he laughs.

“Whatever! As long as you like it.” I smile and get up to leave.
…………………………………………………………..
” I need a day off. At least Sam has to do something! I am so irritated Cass. So many case studies to do and so much of shopping too. Should I work or should handle my wedding work, tell me Cass? At least Mama can come over nah?…” Poor Vicky, she is looking so worn out! But mama coming here will never happen! NEVER!

“Vicksy relax. Let’s list down the undone stuff and do one each per day. Once we write down we will know how little we have left to do. Tomorrow is a second Saturday, so I am free.”

I think this stuff was a really really bad idea. We did know how much was left, but that certainly wasn’t little.

“Cass, I don’t think I can get married any time soon.” She is actually, literally wailing. Even my bro came out of his room.

“Vicky stop crying like a baby! What’s the time Jerry?”

“5:36″

” I’ll give you a minute Vicky, freshen up and come fast. Jerry I’ve kept some Methi rice in the cooker. Correctly switch it off at 5:41, k?” The pleasure I get bossing over my siblings!

“What’s the plan for today Cass?” Vicky asks me as she gets into my car.

“I just spoke to Ananya, she said the ready made lehengas at Tamanna, commercial street will be really good for the Sangeet.” Vicky has been behind having a Sangeet after she went for a north Indian wedding. Its a traditional function for them but nothing of that sorts for us. In Tamil Catholic wedding things go a bit different and hence neither I nor Mama have a clue about Vicky’s Sangeet thing. Thank god Ananya is there to help me out. She has told me to keep it a week before the wedding, as the mehendi will take a week to wear off and will spoil the look of the gowcould30 minutes after getting stuck in the traffic we reach Tamanna only to Ananya waiting for us.

“Vicky! Cass told me everything. Come on don’t get so upset. All of us will help and every thing will be done in the wink of an eye! Whishkkk!!!”

It took my sister 2 hours to finalize her lehengha and another 1 hour to finalize mine. Seriously I am okay with anything and everything. I don’t get the point of any of this anyways. It isn’t even our tradition to have a Sangeet and neither theirs to have it a week before.

Ananya and Vicky are perfect for each other. The only fruitful thing was, I could text Ray in the mean while they tried and tried stuff. He completely understood my plight.

A girl who cannot choose her sister’s lehengha on time, isn’t surely going to choose her tiara, her band, her shoes, her silk Saree, her gold accessories for the Saree, and of course her dream platinum necklace for the gown, her veil, her invitation cards, etc, within a month! She really isn’t going to get married anytime soon!

We are now heading to the Swarovski shop for Vicky’s tiara.

Similarly, another hour later my beloved sis picks up the very first tiara she liked after trying everything else that was available. She kept the store open for half an hour after their closing time, can you believe it? I really feel sad for these staff. I can actually see the relief on the guy’s face, who had shown her the tiaras, while he helped bill the precious tiara Vicky eventually chose.

We left home at 5:40 and now its 10:15 and we are still stuck in traffic. At least Vicky gets to text, actually torture Sam about her tiara. I mean it really looks cute with all those tiny crystals embedded into a beautiful floral base, somehing like the applique work on the final layer of tulle of her gown. She was lucky to find something similar. But it certainly doesn’t sum up for so much of excitement and enthusiasm.

Back home and she is still blabbering her way into the phone about the beauty of her lehengha. I am glad she got over her tiara though. I am pretty sure Sam has dozed off on the other end. He does it quite often and later pacifies her with gifts.

I wonder how she isn’t hungry. My stomach is growling like hell and my mouth salivating to taste my awesome Methi rice. Jerry has already fallen asleep on the couch, watching cricket, waiting for us. But it looks like he has already had his share. He would have never known Vicky would take so long. Wonder what he would have done if he were the escort!

Ingredients:

  1. Jeera sambha rice/ Basmati rice- 1 cup soaked in 2 cups of water for 1/2 an hour.
  2. 2 elaichi/ cardamom
  3. 2 tbsp dried Methi
  4. Fresh coconut milk- 1 cup
  5. water- 1 cup
  6. 1 1/2  tbsp ginger garlic paste
  7. 2 green chillis slit
  8. 1 onion chopped
  9. 2 tbsp oil
  10. 1 bay leaf
  11. 1 inch cinnamon stick
  12. ghee- 1 tbsp

Method:

  • In a pressure cooker, add the oil, the elaichis, bay leaf and the cinnamon. When the elaichi crackles, add the chopped onions and stir until translucent. 
  • Add the ginger garlic paste and the chillis. Stir until the raw smell of the paste vanishes.
  • Add the rice and mix well.
  • Add the coconut milk and water and dried methi. When the water boils,  close the cooker and put the whistle.
  • After a whistle, simmer and let it cook for 10 minutes.
  • turn off the stove and let it cool down. let the steam escape. now add the ghee and mix the rice well.

Wow! Absolutely marvelous! Cassie would never be Cassie without yummy food!

As I get ready for bed, I get a call from an unknown number.

“Hello”

“Cass, this is Ray! I don’t have much time. Just listen to me and don’t ask questions.”

“Ray is everything alright?” He sounded pretty tensed.

“Please come to Cinnamon Cafe right away, alone.”

He cuts the call. What the hell was wrong? A normal HR calling like this certainly wasn’t normal. What if he was in some huge trouble? I certainly don’t want to get involved. Just a few days back I had wished my life had a bit more of masala. But I didn’t mean it. Should I go or should I not. This isn’t a movie where batman can come save me if Ray turned out to be a serial killer nor some soap opera where the heroine will escape death after a horrible gun fire. One bullet and i’ll be over, forever. What am I thinking? Ray is my friend and more over I like him and Mama wants me to marry him and here I am sitting and wondering whether to go or not. He is probably a drug addict and is being held ransom for not paying the dealer. I really can get vague thoughts. I can make a mole hole seem like a mountain. Everyone has told me that. SO I better get going. What’s the worse that can happen? ME DYING? I sit back on the bed with the same speed I got up. I should actually just go….

It takes only 5 minutes to Cinnamon cafe from my place. But I wouldn’t mind if it took me five hours today.

As I park my precious beetle a little away from the place, I have this urge to drive straight back home and wrap myself up with a bed sheet. I fight it with great bravery though. My feet turn so cold as I walk to the cafe. I take a peak at my phone only to see its 12 in the night. Certainly not the right time. Cinnamon Cafe won’t even be open. God knows what Ray is doing there at this weird hour of the day. WHY MEEEEE? I wanna scream. One turn and I’ll be facing Cinnamon Cafe. I could always run back and forget any of this happened. But I have to do this for Ray.

I notice that the hoarding lights are on. I open the door to the cafe and find two men sitting at a table. I suddenly feel something poking by shoulder.

“Just move to that table, without shouting, without turning, else you die.”

OMG! What have I got myself into? So many things left undone…So many places to be visited…So many..The voice doesn’t even let me complete my thoughts..I cry mentally. What else can I do?

“I doeen’ttt knnnnow annnyything!” I blabber out of fear as I sit down at the table. I haven’t felt so scared since my encounter with the Scary House at a water park when I was 10. Suddenly some music starts playing and a familiar voice is on a mike and some laughter.

I turn to see my brother with a pencil in his hand, laughing. Do I feel happy that I don’t have to die or do I get angry or feel supid for not knowing the diffrence between the touch of a pencil and a gun ?

“To the girl who broke my heart and my cheek bone at the tender age of 18, I dedicate this song,” shouts Ray into a mike with a few others standing by his side on instruments. So I guess that is ‘The Super Tango’. I also spot Vicky with her DSLR. I wonder how they got here without my knowledge. Soon a lot of people gather into to the cafe, half way through his beautiful song. I find Ananya, Sam, Anu, and also some old school friends. Nearly 20 people were there.

“Cassie, will you come up here please?” asks Ray.

“Why should I?” I yell back.

“Cause I want to ask you something stubborn brat!”

“Hmmm…It depends. Right now I am too frightened to even move. If you want me there you got to come and take me yourself,” I tell him with a devilish smile. I can’t believe he actually came running, picked me up and took me to the stage.

“Remember Cass, you told me you wanted someone to ask you out dramatically?” Ray asks.

“I probably did.”

“Well, is so much drama enough?”

“Hmm..I’ll tell you that when the climax is over..”

He kneels down and says, “Cassie will you go out with me and promise not to slap me ever again.”

“Former certainly gets a yes, but the latter needs to wait for this.” I slap him, not too hard though.

“ouch.”

“Well I promise you Ray, that I won’t slap you ever again, but I’ll punch your nose instead though.” Everyone starts laughing.

“So is this much of drama enough?” Ray asks.

“Yes!” and we magically kissed….

The night ended with more music, dancing and a huge bill for Ray….

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3 thoughts on “The 7 to 9 Chef/ Chapters 1 to 8 marathon

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