What do Ghajini and Slumdog Millionaire teach us?

Your 15 minutes are over

My friend over at The Buddha Bar writes about Ghajini, "
As I read newspaper articles reporting the nightmare some children have been seeing, post viewing Ghajini, many thoughts that winced to surface while I saw the movie, got crystallised. What are the problems with the film? Many in my mind. First of all, in Bollywood, this is probably the first time a movie has been named after the villain. In today's day and time, when even Spiderman is exploring his dark side, is it out of place? Maybe not. But is it necessary and could this pompous promotion of the negativities in life be avoided? Surely, yes!"

The fact that Ghajini with its red and grey matter splashed all over the camera lens goes on to become the largest grosser ever is not the most heartening of trends either.

And then we have the whole hullabaloo over Slumdog Millionaire being "poverty porn." As I write this, it has picked up 10 nominations at the Oscars too. Has the social activism spawned by a hyperactive and overresponsive media created a frankenstein, where nothing one does can escape the scrutiny of a moral police that really is a policing of convenience or perhaps consumerism where we live from moment to moment seeking to consume fleeting hysteria?

How many of us can relate back to Mumbai 26/11 with the same intensity that we experienced while watching it unfold? Is it just the passage of time that has blunted the pain or was it just the rush of being part of reality TV that is now giving way to the now breaking news?

Tough questions but ones that need to be answered if we want to move forward with hope.

An aside, I dont find the music of Slumdog particulary outstanding when compared to Rahman's body of work. Comments?

Mutton Dalcha

This post was written at a time when this blog was more of a personal journal. It was much later, when I was trying to learn about online writing and I started studying the art and science of blogging that I realized that this post was picking up an enormous amount of traffic. It also went on to be featured at a couple of blog events. I have allowed the post to remain as it is except for adding pics and links later, since it is the recipe that is important, not the packaging, and to me, a lot of its appeal of this post lies in its amateurish presentation.

I was the assistant for this preparation recently, but it turned out so well that I had to post this. The pictures got added later, from another round of cooking this dish. When I cook, I usually manage to take a few pics, but when I assist, well, you know how it is. This goes well with hot chapatis, or with basmati rice, and recently I discovered the Hyderabad combo meal of jeera rice with dalcha.

You will need
Chana Dal 300 g (the original recipe that we worked from called for 500 g)
Diced lamb 250 g  (go ask my Dad how to buy the best meat ever!!)
Ginger 1 inch piece chopped fine
Garlic 6 cloves chopped fine
Green chili 2 chopped
Cinnamon 1 inch stick powdered
Green cardamom 2 powdered
Onion 2 medium size, sliced fine, fried crisp
Onion 1 medium chopped fine
Juice of 1 lime
Coriander powder 1 tsp
Red Chili powder 1 tsp
Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
Oil (groundnut or olive oil) 3 tbsp
Salt to taste

1. Wash the dal in several changes of water. Soak it for at least 30 minutes. Add a pinch of turmeric, a pinch of sugar (skip if not to taste), and pressure cook for three whistles. Mash once cool and keep aside.
2. Clean the lamb. Do not wash in water, use a damp towel to wipe clean. Pat dry
3. Heat oil in a pressure cooker, add the chopped onion, fry till brown, add the ginger, followed by garlic, followed by green chili, followed by mutton. Stir frequently till mutton browns and oil separates.  Dont worry about your pan, it will look worse than what my pan does below, the worse the cleaning task, the better actually.  Add remaining turmeric powder, chili powder and coriander powder. Stir for another 2 minutes.
4. Add 1 cup of water or enough to just cover the mutton, and pressure cook for 3 whistles.
5. Once cooled, add the dal, the fried sliced onions, cinnamon and cardamom powder, lime juice and salt. Cook on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The pic at the bottom is from before letting it cook again.  The one right below this is the bhunoing lamb.
6. Serve hot.

1. I have only one pressure cooker, so I had a rush with the washing. You can also cook the lamb in a deep skillet and instead of pressure cooking it, double the quantity of water and let it simmer/boil for 15 minutes.
2. I had the bagara khana dalcha (jeera rice and mutton dalcha combo) at a standard restaurant and it is loaded with garam masala but tastes great. I also thought I tasted black pepper along with the red and green chili.
3. You could experiment with a mix of the yellow dals for this. I was also reluctant to go with the 500 g that the recipe asked for but later realized it would still have been fine.
4. Keep the lime juiced, and the onions fried crisp. Make sure you are not using the current days TV listings to soak the oil of the fried onions.  I got fried later in the day for having done this.  In case you do this, here is the remedy.
5. You can reuse the oil that you fried the onions in for the main prep. Start with 3 tbsp, and dont fret that it will not be enough, and add some more, which is what we did. The lamb will contribute some oil too.
6. The secret of cooking lamb is to not wash it in water. Use a damp towel to wipe it clean and a kitchen scissor to snip gunk off if needed. When buying the meat, make sure it is red and glistening. The fat is always welcome. (Edit: The fat is welcome a dozen or so times a year!!)

Thanks Mona, for including this in your Bakr Eid roundup at your fab blog, Zaiqa.
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