The temperatures are hitting triple digits around here, and I'm inclined to hide out indoors. I'm even hitting the grocery store at 7 AM because any later than that and the heat gets oppressive. So what's the cure for escaping the sun during long weekend afternoons? If you have a Netflix account, I highly recommend some screen time with these two delightful Hindi TV series.
Stories by Rabindranath Tagore
is a series of Tagore's acclaimed short stories adapted for the small screen by director Anurag Basu. The series starts with Chokher Bali
told in 3 parts, and continues on to other stories, and Basu has an intriguing way of weaving the end of one story into the beginning of the next so the episodes sort of blend into each other. This was my first glimpse into Tagore's work- open ended, layered studies of human nature.
Some stories like Chokher Bali
are complex narratives and you can almost physically feel the ache of what it must have been like to be the young widow Binodini a century ago, an intelligent and vibrant woman who is chafing against a society that bars her from doing anything worthwhile with her life. Other stories are lighter- Detective
is a rather comical tale of a small town detective who rues the fact that his countrymen are too kind-hearted and refuse to engage in the kind of criminal conspiracy that would give him challenging cases to solve.
This series is so beautiful and fascinating- I am glad to finally be able to enjoy the work of the legendary Tagore, even if it is through translation both of language and medium. This blog
has some interesting and detailed write-ups of this series if you want to know more.
Raja, Rasoi aur Anya Kahaniyan
is a documentary series- the title can be translated as Kings, Kitchens and Other Stories. This one is all about regional Indian cuisine, which is something I have a deep and abiding love for. Each episode takes us into a region of India, and weaves a tale of historical influences and how it shaped the food and culture that you see there. I am loving this fast paced and well-narrated series which lets you chat with food writers and historians, peek into home kitchens and royal kitchens and wander around street food stalls and catering venues from weddings to langars. There is much fascinating history to learn- for instance, they talk about the Maratha invasion of Southern India and how it ultimately led to the words "chutney" and "sambar" being used for dishes that are now some of the most famous representatives of Tamilian food. I will warn you that watching this series will set off immediate cravings for all sorts of regional Indian food. I do wish they featured more recipes.
Have you seen either of these? What are you watching these days?
I'll leave you with a couple of no-cook recipes, if you can even call these "recipes". Both involve soft syrupy-sweet dates, which I keep on hand to make date tamarind chutney for chaat
, but they are great for use in these dessert-like treats.
This date and walnut smoothie takes only a couple of minutes to make and is such a refreshing dessert drink. These days we'll occasionally have a very light dinner and then blend up this smoothie to top it off.
Date & Walnut Smoothie
(For 3 servings)
1 cup whole milk
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
5-6 soft pitted dates
1/4 cup walnuts
1 ripe banana (frozen is best)
1 tsp. vanilla extract (change it up with cinnamon or cardamom)
Simply blend these ingredients together in a high powered blender and serve right away.
Another little treat that we've been enjoying around here- fruit and nut snacks that don't need cooking and satisfy the sweet tooth in 2-3 bites. They're a knock-off of the popular Lara bars and such, and endlessly customizable. If you want to please a mithai-lover, call them laddus. If you want to be posh, roll them in powdered sugar or cocoa and call them raw truffles. If you're taking them on a trip or a hike, call them energy balls. They are good treats for picnics and lunch boxes.