Friday, January 22, 2016

In a Pickle



Image Courtesy: Here

Also on the Huffington Post

Having attended several social events this month, I can safely surmise that most gup-shup veers towards two topics. Politics and food. More often than not, it begins with cocktails and food and ends up with Kejriwal and Modi. Given that food and politics hold a visceral grip on our imagination, it is interesting to note how we perceive our political chefs. Because politics is all about perception. Some will love you. Some will hate you. They will binge and purge. But you will always be on their mind.

In Delhi, master chef Arvind mastered the art of cooking for the common man, sunny side up. The pleasure you derive from his cooking is directly proportional to your tolerance for street food. Even as I write, he is cooking Hyderabadi biryani over an unfortunate incident. On odd days, when he says, “Pradhanmantri Ji, please humein kaam karne dijiye,” he is as syrupy as Aam Ras. And on even days, when he decides to spice things up, he is as tangy as Aam Panna. This week, when the High Court rapped the CBI, the BJP had to eat a humble pie for raiding his kitchen. And the jury is out on whether his odd-even recipe served the purpose, but Delhi roads definitely felt as clean as my tummy after one ripe papaya. Regardless, the man is one halwa cook, I mean one helluva cook who just can’t do without fail-ao-ing raita over Modi. 

In Bihar, Nitish Kumar government decided to impose 13.5% value added tax on sweets, kachoris, bhujiya, namkeen and samosa. Seriously? Tax on samosa tells us that memory can be bitingly alien when it comes to Lalu because in his own words Aloo and Laloo were inseparable at one time. Given that samosa-kachori are staple snack items in Bihar, collecting revenue from poor man’s luxury will reap negative political dividends. But who cares? Having won the Masterchef Bihar, Nitish can play with his recipes and ignore the perception of Rabri Raj.

Rahul, the princely cook bereft of his kitchen kingdom was back after pumping iron in Europe. It’s obvious that what his mother thinks of as a seven course Italian meal, Rahul thinks of as an instant pizza. He continues to jump from fire to the fire pan with his ham-handed actions to save his bacon. And the perception about his abundant grey cells lands him in a soup each time he addresses an audience.

Modi, meanwhile is cooking several schemes on the slow fire of a sluggish economy. No one knows when or how the dishes will turn out. In the politics of perception, NaMo is no longer a poor chaiwala, the outsider, or the underdog he was in 2014. It appears as if he breaks bread with buddy Barack and enjoys kheer with Nawaz even as Pakistan continues to scald us with homemade terror broth. Despite his savory schemes like crop insurance and Jan-Dhan yojana, Dal price, Dollar rise and Dalit voice continues to be his nemesis.

With China’s slowdown, the world economy is in Manchow soup. Unless Modi tickles the common man’s palate by addressing bread and butter issues, people will perceive him as someone who wanted to cook right but was unable to spice up the economy with his brand of Aji-Namo-To. As of now, we are in a pickle, stewing in sluggish domestic juice. Perhaps the Chinese fortune cookie can tell what the future holds.

53 comments:

  1. To me this was a buffet spread fit for a queen not on a diet!

    From starters till desserts, each course was scintillating.

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    1. Thank you Purba. I had fun cooking this one.

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  2. While our economy stews slowly, chef Modi has grand plans of stirring the global pot. As per half page ads in newspapers " you saw him change India's growth story, now witness him direct global economy". Me says Ho Ho

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    1. Right now, domestic issues, including handling of media and opposition need his attention.
      Thank you for tasting this Shital. Means a lot.

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  3. That was absolutely tantalizing! Wah! That was one halwa/helluva khichdi of politics and gastronomic delights you cooked up...burrp!

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    1. Thank you Kala. Glad you loved this khichdi.

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  4. There's a lot of food up there. It all tempts, not just with its taste as we know it but also the clever Alka-masala it has come loaded with. Loved an entire party's Waterloo, in a nutshell - 'It’s obvious that what his mother thinks of as a seven course Italian meal, Rahul thinks of as an instant pizza.'

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    1. Thank you Sakshi. Glad you enjoyed the bhel puri.

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  5. This is some delicious spread, Alka! I personally prefer the slow cooking, something I can at least figure out the ingredients of rather than the confused, opportunistic raita with sour curd and stale and rotten veggies :) Pizza boy I always prefer local one, so no need for the one who is more comfortable in Europe!

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    1. And for this reason the desi delivery boy has to deliver.
      Thank you for reading Beloo.

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  6. This is some delicious spread, Alka! I personally prefer the slow cooking, something I can at least figure out the ingredients of rather than the confused, opportunistic raita with sour curd and stale and rotten veggies :) Pizza boy I always prefer local one, so no need for the one who is more comfortable in Europe!

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  7. This was witty and such fun, Alka. All this food especially by these chefs is giving me acidity. :-)

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    1. Ha ha, no wonder we binge and purge on them.

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  8. Hilarious! Aji-Namo-to - That was brilliant! None of those chefs is "dudh ka dhula" and maybe that is what makes it a really interesting khichdi!

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  9. Usually I prefer to taste a small portion of each dish and eat frugally during a buffet. But with MasterChef Alka's lavish spread, yeh dil maange more. You have managed to stir the ladle into the boiling cauldron of political soup with ease peppered with mirth and garnished with smiles. Keep cooking and serving us.

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    1. You are always so kind Kalpana. Always encouraging.
      Thank you.

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  10. This post has just made me feel one thing - hunger. So while politicians about cooking a variety of dishes and feeding them to their followers, I'll go have some puri chholle. Too bad no one serves an alcoholic beverage though... would be a good way to unwind after a hectic week ;)

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    1. I am tempted to write one on alcohol now.
      Thank you for stopping by Vishal.

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  11. Taste of a dish is decided by the peeling, appropriate chopping, dicing and right amount of spicing. Needless to say, your fare came out tops!

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  12. I think the final product will be a khichdi! :P
    Thanks to you, I am keeping up with Indian politics!

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    1. Ha ha, thanks Roshni. Never a dull moment here.

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  13. I can't even come up with a delicious comment :) Aji-Namo-to was the topping on the cake. Good to read you after a long time :)Like Roshni said, your posts make me keep up with Indian politics :)

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  14. Intelligent sarcasm. This is a difficult genre to handle and you are doing such a fab job. Will come frequently.

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    1. That makes my day Gitanjali. Would be happy to see you around.

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  15. Politics and food is a deadly combo and you've subtly summed-up the former in a sarcastic way! Great job, I however remain away from 'dirty' politics and their henchmen!

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    1. It has become a cesspool lately. The toxic fumes are not welcoming at all.
      Regardless, thank you for stopping by.

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  16. You cooked up quite the khichdi of political and world events, Alka.
    Loved it.

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  17. I'm trying to leave a comment in a manner which does justice to your brilliance as a writer but I'm blank, Alka..Only you could have brought food and politics on the same platter and present a meal worthy of a Michelin star chef ... Truly enjoyed it...

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    1. Your lovely comment has me grinning like a ten year old. Thank you dear. My week end is made. And the week ahead too.
      Much love.

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  18. Very delicious potpourri with the seasons best flavours! Who else can present this fare but for you ,Alka!

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  19. That's one delicious spread. No matter how many dishes the politicians are serving up you seem to be the best chef of all. Still laughing at Ajinamoto,

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  20. replete with sarcasm. Interesting read.

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  21. Haha! Wonderfully written :-) What better way to narrate the current events for a country obsessed with its food :-)

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  22. Aji Namo To , I cant stop laughing, nicely spiced up and fermented post I must say!!

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  23. This was fun! I wish newspapers had articles like these. The younger generation would have taken some interest in the dying world of politics. Thanks for making my day with this lavish spread, Alka. :-)

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    1. Thank you for reading and making my day Rekha. Means a lot.

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  24. Ha ha ! That was an awesome potpourri of "polit-ipes" :) Loved the way you have added the right mix of spice with a dash of political namkeen !

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  25. Aji-Namo-To.... damn how clever is that!! hahaha you should have been my social science teacher :D The only time I read politics is when I am on your blog :D Enjoyed this well prepared menu...

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  26. :) right first of all sorry fr what i am going to type.. :)

    forget all that Can i please have to eat all the food that has been mentioned ...

    and Samosa its almost 35pence here now . it used to be 15 or 20 pense ... ufffffffff so much mehengai..

    and the chinece fortune cookie no more tells the fortune

    Bikram's

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  28. Mind blowing piece spicing up Rajneeti and our tongue can't wait for more with Firangi Pani, fresh from Phoren Holidays. Oh!! The has been chaiwala is a pro now at cooking spoilt Biryani and selling very mehenga mehenga with freebie marked Sapne ke Saudagar, moving from Maut ke saudagar.

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