Pad Thai

Today I begin my first full time job. I will be working in digital marketing in a PR company and while four years ago, I wouldn’t even think of this as a potential occupation, my experiences and degrees suggest otherwise. One of the things people have started telling me is that “Oh, Archit now that you have started working you will have no time.” I found this constant opinion that in college I had time and now I won’t, hilarious. College was hard y’all! I’m not going to lie, my last semester was a lot less busy but every other semester, I was constantly moving from a class to a meeting to working on homework. In fact, because I lived on campus I didn’t even have commuting time which I could use as respite from constant engagement.

In all this craziness, I also had to keep myself fed which meant either eating the same food in cafeterias or actually cooking. While I love cooking, it’s a little time consuming: prepping, the actual act of cooking, and washing dishes all add up. Therefore, I had to think of recipes that needed less equipment and minimal prep time. Enter Pad Thai. All it needs is rice noodles, any (or all) of the veggies you have in your fridge, and a sauce with which to caramelize everything. The important thing here is the sauce. All the flavors are introduced by the sauce which means it needs to hit the three palette tenets of asian food- spice, sweet, and savory. The traditional pad thai recipe asks for tamarind paste but I substitute that with lime juice and rice vinegar which simulate the tang and acidity of tamarind.

I miss original thai food all the time. One of my favorite places to eat in college was a small thai restaurant called Royal Thai, which was run by this tiny but energetic woman that we called “Thai Queen.” She used to love us and always gave us free refills of thai iced tea. I do miss college, but food like this keeps those memories alive. This week I had an unique opportunity to head back to Denison and begin a life there but I chose against it. I do believe that I made a good choice of starting a life in a country that does accept me but I guess only time will tell how smart of a choice this was.

Anyway, I hope you like recipe and give it a try. I have been hearing back from people who have been making some of the recipes and I am excited that you seem to like them. Send me pictures so that I can blog about them!

Pad Thai

 

Ingredients

Serving Size: 2 people

4 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoons Sriracha

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic minced

2 red chillies or 3 green chillies

200 g of chicken breast or shrimp

2 well beaten eggs

15 large cremini mushrooms sliced thinly

1/2 red or green peppers

250 g of rice noodles (3 mins on boil)

6 Spring onions

handful of coarsely chopped cilantro

handful coarsely chopped peanuts

Preparation

Step 1

Boil noodles for 3 minutes or as per package instructions.

Step 2

To make the sauce: add sriracha, fish sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar, and sugar. Mix well.

Step 3

In a wok, add oil and heat on high until oil begins to smoke. Add Shrimp or chicken and cook a minute under it’s done. Remove protein, and add garlic, ginger, and all the veggies. Cook well and add rice noodles. Add the Beat the egg whites in the center along with your pad thai sauce

Step 4

Reduce the heat and let the sauce caramelize. Mix well and serve with peanuts.

 

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Pesto Pasta

I LOVE pasta. I mean it’s not something rare but I genuinely have a deep appreciation for how simple ingredients like flour, water, and eggs can make something so delicious and versatile. Pasta comes in a multitude of shapes, colors, and sizes. However, there is one thing intrinsically about any pasta– It can absorb flavor. The reason why we love pasta is never just the pasta alone, it’s the flavor that we infuse it with (though there are some people like my roommate that can eat it with no flavor and if he is really hungry, raw). It’s the sauce that has made Italian food so versatile. With a base like a flavorless noodle, the real magic is in giving the base character.

My go to sauce is Pesto. It’s traditionally a basil, pine nut, and olive oil infusion that has a variety of new combinations. Its fresh, light on the palette and works extremely well with long strand pastas such pappardelle or linguine. While its light on the palette, both the olive oil and pine nuts give it the fat content of a filling meal. Which means, that it really doesn’t need an accompaniment of a protein (such as chicken or shrimp) or veggies. I usually cut the fat with lemon and fresh cherry tomatoes, as a way to introduce some fresh elements to the dish.

When to make this dish?

  1. When you are alone, hungry, and are in the middle of a master of none binge session.
  2. Date night: its easy enough that you don’t get into a fight with your boo thang but intricate enough that you don’t think it was take out.
  3. When you have a lot of people coming over: It’s not hard to find the ingredients to make a large quantity of this dish and its very filling. Only caveat, you might have to add veggies or protein because not everyone can appreciate a simple dish.

Pesto Senior Year 2

Give the recipe a try. It’s a little different and based on my taste. Being an Italian sauce you can literally change any of the elements. Let me know how it was!

Ingredients

1 Cup Fresh Basil

1/3 Pine Nuts

1/3 Cup Olive Oil

2 Cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1/2 Cup Parmesan (though I have tried it with Gouda, Manchego, and Mozzarella all tastes good)

1/2 a lemon

A fist full of your favorite pasta cooked according to the cooking instructions

Salt and Pepper to taste

Optional: 10 cherry tomatoes cut in halves, 1 tbsp of toasted pine nuts

Preparation 

Step 1

Wash the basil well rinsing about 3 times and submerge water as you prepare all the other ingredients. In the mean time, start boiling water and cook pasta as per the instructions.

Step 2

Start by emulsifying the fats. Add the pine nuts, olive oil and garlic into a food processor and pulse until the nuts are well ground into a paste

Step 3

Add the basil lightly draining the water, along with cheese, salt & pepper. Pulse until a thick green paste is formed. Approximately a minute. Check in the middle for consistency. Finish by adding lemon juice and mixing with a spoon

Step 4

Add 2 tablespoons of pesto into your pasta and mix well. Add some pasta water if the mixture looks too dry. Garnish with fresh cherry tomatoes and toasted pine nuts

From paper to pulp to paper, again

Take one mug full of pulp and the sheet you get is thin and dilapidated; take one and a half and the sheet you end up making is thick at the edges and thin in the centre. Take one mug full and a tiny sliver more and you get the perfect 100 GSM sheet of hand made, recycled paper. This is something I learnt from The Kalyanmayee Paper Factory.415357_566017986753515_1634622851_o

The paper factory is situated in Vasant Kunj, New Delhi and is part of the Airport Authority of India’s CSR policy. Their work at the factory is remarkable. They collect paper from 80 airports around India and convert it into usable stationary for the AAI. I was impressed by the NGOs commitment to sustainability it only uses harvested rainwater from its factory’s in-house catchment areas and the drained water is then re-used as a solvent for the pulp.

The factory had come with great products but they had no name or popularity. They were doing this amazing work but no one knew about it. Thats when I decided that in order to publicise the factory I should bring people in to see what they doand allow them to buy their products. However then I thought what if you invite school students during the summer holidays for an internship. Students learn about the interesting and tedious process of paper making, which makes them understand and feel for the work they do.

538613_405498349472147_573830156_n  This is how in 2011 “The Kalyanmayee Project” came about. Our original batch consisted of 18 students that worked 5 hours for 15 days. They designed and made their own products and then sold them later on. The money generated would be donated to an NGO chosen by the students of the batch. Till date their have been two batches of the internship from which we have generated more than 11,000 rupees.

The aim of the project was to create an awareness about the work the factory was doing, however as the internship progressed further, the aim became far deeper;to instill the need for recycling and environmental sustainability within the students.The internship program had students working for not only production of products but also had the job of making a documentary and blog where the interns would talk about the work that they did.

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By 2012, the internship had a big name in Delhi amongst students. So much so that I had to hold interviews to screen the students and choose a select few. Being a student myself I  somewhat enjoyed the authority I held. The 2012 batch were a bit more enthusiastic. Their enthusiasm led to incorporating full schools into the Kalyanmayee program. The Shri Ram School started collecting waste paper from staff rooms and administration offices and sent it to the factory in return for printer friendly paper for their internal use.

The students that came here had their own agenda. Some came to cut their holidays, some to make new friends and some even came to beef up their resume for colleges to look at. However I am happy to know that at least a some of them were inspired. These inspired students are now heading the 2013 internship, which will commence this june.