Thursday, March 22, 2018

OPOS - A Magical Revolution in the Kitchen

For those who know me, know that I've never been inclined towards cooking. I can cook just enough to feed myself and my family and given the first chance, I'd gladly pass on any kitchen related work.

Well, the tables have turned. I look forward to cooking and trying new recipes every single meal! To be honest, it's not less than magical for me. And if you'd ask the secret, it's a magical technique - OPOS!!

Just imagine making just about anything, be it butter chicken, biryani, kurma or pulao, in a few minutes! And how? In a pressure cooker!! Yes, you heard it right. Opos is all about cooking food in its own juices while maximizing its nutrients and taste, and all this in a pressure cooker.

OPOS is not about cuisines, vegetarian or non vegetarian food etc, it's about techniques. And the person behind this wonderful concept is Mr Rama Krishnan, or RK Sir as most of us call him. A journey that he started over a decade ago is now a full fledged revolution and we all swear by it.

Here is Sir in his own words! A heartfelt thanks to him for agreeing for this interview.

A decade is a long time! Not many people have the courage to stick to their ideas for so long, and most quit after the first few years of non acceptance. What helped you stay put all these years? 

I'm very surprised myself. I am notorious for jumping fields. I guess I realised at the back of my mind that something really nice is shaping up. I would also like to believe this was my destiny! 🙂

What is the biggest challenge you've faced in all these years? (Any such moment where you felt that all that you've invested would yield nothing?)

When feedbacks were totally inconsistent. Some would rave. Others would slam. This had me completely puzzled. Do these techniques work or not? I was not sure. 

And the Eureka moment in this long journey?

1. Realisation that themes underlie all cuisines.
2. Realisation that food needs to be pressure cooked in its own juices, at the highest possible heat for the lowest possible time to intensify natural colour, taste, flavour and texture.  

Who's the first person who believed in you and Opos?

A small group comprising of Chitra Viswanathan, Varalekshmy Raghavan, Majula Natarajan, Saraswathy Jayaraman, Shymala Srivatsan and a few others.

You've mentioned that it's been the difficulty of trying recipes in cookbooks that made you look for something that any novice could make themself a meal. How did a pressure cooker come in your mind? What made you feel it had the power to change the way food is cooked? 

After spending a decade on writing One Page cookbooks, I could see no one was using it. It took a few more years to realise this is because there is no way to translate the recipes into food consistently. It later dawned that for the results to be consistent, the equipment needs to be consistent. And pressure cooker fitted the bill perfectly!

Your determination and focus are inspiring! Who inspires you?

People who suffer for want of food, in the midst of plenty. People who waste enourmous labour, fuel and food to cook up simple dishes.

Who's that one person who always has your back, no matter how crazy the ideas get or how worse the time?

The OPOStars! 

It's like the dawn of a new era in cooking with Opos. Did you ever have a premonition that this would happen? 

Not consciously. But I guess the subconscious belief was what kept me motivated all along, when I had no followers / no one trying the techniques.

What do you like doing when you aren't trying out new Opos recipes? 

Hang out with friends. Read. Travel. I love lazing for days doing absolutely nothing.

How is RK as a person after he takes off the chef's hat at the end of a day?

Difficult. Unpredictable. Unconventional. Easily irritable. 🙂 

And one last question - who do you love cooking for (apart from yourself)?

Friends. I do it almost every other day.

If that doesn't excite you as much already, Google OPOS now or better still, check the Youtube Chef videos! You can even buy the "OPOS COOKBOOK - 5 Minute Magic" on Amazon!

To put it simply, I'm addicted to OPOS. It's given me a whole new freedom with such scrumptious food on the table every single day. Whether you're single or married, man or woman, in a nuclear family or a joint one, OPOS is for you. Try it once and you'll be hooked for life. That's an OPOS promise :)

Friday, January 12, 2018

Raising Prabir - Humour All the Way

We had gone to see my skin specialist this Tuesday. The clinic is quite a distance from here and I was using the GPS on our way back.

At a point, the GPS voice-over said, "After 200 meters, make a U-turn."

Prabir immediately responded, "GPS Aunty, 'Take a U-turn. We need not 'make' a U-turn. It is already there!"

And like every other time, he had his Mumma almost rolling over laughing while driving. Dangerous...aint it! 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Raising Prabir - A Proud Moment

Last week, I needed to visit a bank branch. Usually, I run such errands when Prabir is in school; however, with vacations on, he went with me.

Now, we mommies tend to carry an entire pantry in our handbags because no matter when, the kids will get hungry once they are out of the house, even if they've just had their meal. So, while I was talking to the bank executive, came a very familiar hunger call from behind me. I quickly handed Prabir a little tiffin of snacks and he took a chair and began eating.

And then suddenly, out of nowhere, there was this little smashing sound along with a little cry. The entire tiffin was on the floor with the snack all over while Prabir stood frozen. Immediately, the executive I was speaking to told us not to worry as he'd get someone to clean it up. I went on to pick a little out of the way. By then though, my little boy was down on his knees, picking up each bit in his little hands. He then asked the executive where the dustbin was. The executive pulled back his chair back and moved the dustbin towards Prabir, who went on to pick every bit from the floor and put it in the dustbin.

All this while, the others in the bank, including the bank manager were watching Prabir. And I, a very proud mother, stood there smiling with a little lump in my throat. I, somehow, remembered to capture the moment much later. And I'm so glad I was able to.

It's these little moments that make it all so worth it. They reassure me that I'm doing something right somewhere. And they make me so so proud to be the mother of this wonderful boy!

In the picture is Prabir putting the last bit in the dustbin.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

A Letter to My Son - On Your First Day of School

My Shona,

It's a big day tomorrow. It's your big day! For tomorrow, you begin a brand new journey that will teach you so much, carve and mould your personality and take you places. This journey also means venturing out from the comfort and security of your home, as well as the paranoia of your mumma.

You're super excited, as any toddler would be. You've ensured your bag is packed and picked the tiffin you're going to take too. In fact, you wanted to go to school right away (at 8.30 pm!), but this mother of yours put you to bed instead.

To say that mumma is excited wouldn't really be very apt. Your mumma is super nervous and jittery. If course, it might not be a big deal for others as every child eventually goes to school, but only you and I know how critical and big a moment this is for both of us.

We've not been apart for more than a couple of hours in all these three and a half years, and that too you've only been with your Dadda. To put it in short, we both are like Velcro, isn't it?

Your second home, your school, will teach you a lot and give you plenty of friends. I wish that you also learn the basic life skills as you learn what the books have to offer to you. Always be kind, betu, with everyone, irrespective of everything. And learn humility. No work is big or small, neither is any profession. Treat everyone with respect always, like you do now. Thank a person when you should and apologize when you need to. To make it big in life, it's important to be a good human first.

It's going to be fun out there, betu, and a little crazy too. While this journey is long and often challenging, it's super adventurous, I assure you! You'll tread new paths. You'll falter. You'll learn. You'll grow.

And as you spread your wings and embrace the teachings from your teachers and create new relationships, your mumma and Dadda will have your back always, at every step and in every decision. Put your heart in everything you do and believe me, the rest will simply follow. For only where your heart is, you can invest all the required time, dedication, and effort. As you strive to achieve your goals and fulfil your dreams, remember our love for you will not waver with your grades or your rank. You are our world and in your happiness, lies ours.

Go on, my little sunshine. Do not fret. Do not be afraid. This world is beautiful and will be even better as you step into it. Spread your love and laughter everywhere. Live every moment to the fullest and never cease to learn.

You are our rockstar! We love you!


Friday, June 30, 2017

Raising Prabir- Humour Amid Chaos!

We were stuck in the (in)famous Delhi rain traffic jam, trying to look for a way out, exasperated. Just then, the title song from the Dhoni biopic started playing.

Puzzled, Prabir asks, "Mumma, har gali mein Dhoni hai! Dhoni toh ek hi gali mein ho sakta hai... hai na?"

And we all burst out laughing.

There's life in every moment... even in the middle of a pathetic traffic jam. And we adults tend to take life too seriously. Just a little reminder to laugh more, enjoy the rains, hum along with the music and live a little more :)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Lessons from My Life

I was never a brilliant student, going by the academic standards set by our system. Though I did fare a little above the average usually, it was never good enough, neither for my parents nor the teachers. I still have a few of my report cards and the remarks have been consistently similar through the years - Neha is a bright child but needs to focus more and can do much better.

Though there were things I happened to be naturally good at, like sports, public speaking and even a bit of dramatics etc. Yet, it was never good enough. If I participated in a competition (and I participated in most of them!), it was expected of me to win. A second position or (God forbid!) a third meant failure. It had to be No. 1 or nothing at all.

And it was this incessant pressure to excel and win that broke me on those several occasions when I didn't get the top spot. Most of the times, the sheer fun and enthusiasm involved in participating was crushed with that pressure. And often, I had cold feet, numb fingers and a dry throat just before my turn at the mike or before aiming a basketball during a high intensity match. And I'd fail! It wasn't nervousness as much as it was the fear of failure and the consequent rejection I knew I'd face. Like every child, I wanted to feel loved and make my family and teachers proud of me. Yet, more often than not, I felt helpless and gave in to mindless self blaming and even guilt.

Today, as I look back at those times as a mother myself, I understand better as to why I was expected to excel in all. And that my parents did just what most parents do - make me fall in line and adhere to the standards set up by our education system and society. For it is, sadly, only the academic brilliance that is still noted and encouraged. Creativity and professions related to it weren't and still aren't given their due. Children are still measured by the digits they are able to rake up in the report cards through rote learning, which make or break a child's career as well as confidence.

My professors in college wanted me to prepare and sit for civil examinations. They'd tell me about the greener pastures in the IAS part of the world. When I defied them and took up a course in mass communication instead, most thought I'd lost my mind. That was over a decade ago. And even after so many years of work experience, I still am in the process of finding a profession or work I can give my heart and soul to.

Would that mean I've lost out because I didn't follow the norms or the herd? No. Instead, I've learned and grown. I've tested more waters than many others would have. I've failed and succeeded and learned a lot in that process. I've known hard work and most importantly, I've followed my heart. And that makes me happy.

As a mother, I pray that I don't get influenced by social and academic pressures as my parents did. While I'd want my son to excel, it shouldn't be at the cost of his confidence or never should he feel the need to excel to rise in my eyes. I want him to know that coming second, or even third, isn't a failure. There's just one top spot out there and it goes to the one who performs the best on a given day. And that doesn't mean that others weren't good. It's what he learns in the process which is important. Success doesn't necessarily imply self worth, for a child is much more than the medals and trophies (s)he brings home. I want him to know that his mother will stand by him through his failures and achievements and that she'll have his back always. 

For that's all I needed as a child and I know that's all my son would ask of his mother, in words or in deeds. And for that, I'm prepared.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Raising Prabir- Talking Shapes

Prabir (just now, looking at our marriage pic) - Mumma, woh jo tumhari shaadi ki photo hai uss mein aisi mumma kyon hai? (In that marriage photograph, why does mumma look like this?)

Me- kaisi thi mumma tab? (How was mumma then?)

Prabir - round round

Me- ab? (Now?)

Betu - Oval

I always knew motherhood reshapes you and your life completely. Hence proved!!

#RaisingPrabir #ToddlerTalks