Friday, July 08, 2016

Must-See TV, and DateTreats

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)
Crushed ice

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. 

Fruit and Nut Treats

Adapted from this recipe

1 cup dates
1/3 cup cranberries
1/3 cup cashews
1/3 cup almonds
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Pulse in food processor until you get a chopped down mixture.
Form the mixture into bars or balls.
Store in fridge.

Enjoy the weekend, friends. 


  1. What a coincidence, Nupur! I chanced upon these two shows when I was browsing Netflix and am currently watching (and loving!) these exact shows. I am also watching OJ: Made in America on ESPN and highly recommend it. Also, I am reading H is for Hawk and highly recommend it as well.

  2. Hi Nupur, thank you for finding these gems and sharing them with us! I checked out Stories by Rabindranath Tagore on your recommendation and loved whatever I've seen so far. Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  3. Those two serials are a favorite here too besides Pickle nation. We are hooked to Crime Patrol and watch all 3 shows every night. I will make those fruit n nut treats and tell you how they turn out, without the cranberries though I'll use black currants instead.

    1. They will be wonderful with black currants! Pickle Nation sounds interesting- I am a big fan of pickles in all forms ;)

  4. Love both the series. Getting to know of regional indian cuisine is awesome. The episode on delhi, with all the street side chaat, got me craving so badly for chaat! Every week, based on which episode I watch, I will announce to the hubby that I am craving xyz food, and we should go out in search of it! He was relieved when he found out the source of these cravings was the documentary and nothing else. lol

    1. I know- you can't watch that show and not get hungry! I had to raid the pantry for snacks.

  5. What a coincidence I am about to finish the series on Rabindranath Tagore and watching the other one too. I should admit that they are well made considering the soap operas that are churned out everyday on the Indian Television.

    1. Yes, well made and interesting and something different from the usual saas bahu stuff.

  6. Yes it is a coincidence. I recently watched both shows. Felt a little underwhelmed by Tagore series. Watched only Choker Bali and thought acting was only so so, but how oppressive it must have been being a woman in those days.

    The Raja Rasoi series, watched it only until Kashmir. Me being from Tamilnadu, I thought the whole episode was made by someone not from the South. The Maratha influence was very good information. But I would have liked to know how idly and dosa originated and how the chettinad cuisine evolved.

    1. Some of the acting was not great, agreed, but I was thrilled to get a chance to watch some of the Tagore classics! As for raja rasoi, the raja (royalty) bit is not interesting to me, I hope they do more of the home kitchen/ street food stuff.

  7. Nupur
    Please suggest more Netflix shows. Or must see movies. The Tagore series is so captivating.

    1. I will suggest them for sure, if I find any!

  8. I saw those two shows pop up on Netflix -- thanks for the reviews, I am putting them on my list.

  9. Nupur - the show suggestions are awesome! I remember watching episodes of these when I was in India. I am picking up on your blog after about 6 months and it is such a joy to read your writing and recipes again. Pure pleasure.


The spammers are out in full force so I've had to turn word verification on! Thanks for leaving a comment- I read and respond to every single one.