Friday, May 17, 2019

Cold salad on a hot hot day

I have been meaning to post a couple of recipes lately, and trust me when I say this, I have struck gold - in the quick meal category - numerous times these past few weeks! But each time I thought of cleaning up the sketchy notes I had saved in my drafts, I would instead plug in my earphones to partake in my newest hobby. Audiobooks on Audibles. I finished 'listening' to my first audiobook on this fantastic platform, and boy, am I hooked! My cab rides are suddenly quite entertaining, and I no longer feel the need to hold a book up straight when I am reading late at night. Of course, it still begs the question, are audiobooks the same as reading a book? Perhaps not. But, on the whole, I would rate it as quite an enriching experience, especially when an able 'reader' lends his/her voice to the characters of your book.   

So, instead of my regular food talk, I thought I'd do something a little different today. Write about a book instead (followed by the customary recipe, of course). If you hate it, forgive me, I am completely out of touch - the last time I wrote about a book was during my time at the university, and it has been many years since!

So, here goes.


Dear Life by Alice Munro


This is my first Munro title, all thanks to an aunt who recommended her. Usually, when testing waters with a new author, I prefer to opt for an earlier work by the writer. It usually makes for a smoother introduction somehow. I have done this successfully many a times before; for example, two of my most favourite books of all time, are the earlier works of Milan Kundera and Herman Hesse. With Munro, I am not sure why I selected this title - her latest collection of short stories published in 2012. Perhaps, the title itself drew me to it. But, whatever it is, I don't think I could have asked for a better introduction to Munro's work.  

Dear Life is a compilation 14 short stories, with the last four being somewhat of an autobiographical nature by the author's own admission. Poignant yet truthful, they are simple, almost colloquially written. It is as if you were siting right next to Munro herself, on a cold winter evening, a mug of cocoa in your hands, listening to a retelling of an incident from her childhood, or perhaps an acquaintance, or neighbour. If I had to fit this book into one single genre, I would say it represents what is essentially a slice of life story. An event, a lover, a parent, or perhaps just a memory cut out from the lives of her characters. There is nothing grand about these stories, rather what makes them stand out is Munro's extraordinary treatment of her characters. And, in doing so, they come alive as vibrantly as her robust imagery of a Canada, 30, 50, or 70 years back. 

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. If I had to read this once again, I would want to do this, curled up the top bunk of a long-distance train. It is one those books. Short. Sweet. Memorable. 


Before I end this post, let me share the recipe for a quick meal on a hot summer's day.   

 
Cold chicken amaranth salad


1/2 cup amaranth seeds
1 chicken breast, grilled or pan-fried and shredded
1 cucumber, chopped  
2 small tomatoes, chopped 
1/2 onion, chopped
1 carrot, grated 
1 spring onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp almonds
2 tbsp raisin
Lemon wedge, for garnish
A handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped

For the dressing
Mix 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, juice of a lemon, and salt

Soak the amaranth seeds for 3 to 4 hours in water. Then rinse with clean water. Cook in the amaranth in a pan with 1 cup water. Add some salt to the water. 

Cook covered for 15 minutes. Remove lid and cook until the amaranth seeds are soft and slightly mushy. The cooked seeds have the texture of a semolina halwa. Keep aside. 

Mix all the other ingredients - chicken and veggies.

Pour the salad dressing over the salad. Mix well, and serve.

This salad taste best when chilled. Enjoy with a glass of wine on a hot summer afternoon.


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