Delicious World of Chefette Spicy

formerly Ladles and High Heels


For the Love of Baking

I admit it. I am a compulsive baker. I love my ancient yet awesome oven and all the scintillating smells it can create when I am in the mood for it. When I first moved here, new to the country and my home, I took an oath: I will venture anywhere in this new land but I will never dare to open my oven to cook food. A few of my friends use it as a storage space of sorts and I actually thought it was a novel idea. Thank god I changed my mind!

Hours of watching Food Network and Cooking Channel actually made me curious about the forbidden territory that lay behind the dark door under my stove. For some reason, I hadn’t found the heart to stack my pots there so it lay hollow, like an empty cave. During one of our grocery escapades a month after the relocation, I found a packet of Betty Crocker’s SuperMoist cake mix on sale and decided to grab it.

Since then, it has been a journey for me. I read up some oven tactics on the internet and the Food Network website has always been a guide to me. My culinary gurus, Ina Garten and Giada De Laurentiis have never given up on mentoring me (of course, they would be surprised to know that!) For a haphazard cook like me,  I have had it pretty easy so far. First of all, I took Ina’s advice seriously.  Quantity is really the key to baking. Hence, I decided to move up a step by abandoning my faithful little coffee cup measuring device (I know Rachael Ray did). Lucky for me, I found an inexpensive plastic set at a local store. I didn’t want to give up baking but I was not very keen on taking giant steps either.

Oh, I remember the day so well! To celebrate my black cups, I made biscuits. Apart from a charred stray that set off the fire alarm, the rest of it was crisp, delicate and wonderful. So I have moved a few phases. Right now, I have a well stocked baking pantry and a couple of basic baking pans. I have a whisk that I use to mix pretty much everything. So in case, if you are planning to start baking after this “inspirational” blog, here is a small list of things you need in your kitchen:

Oven mits (keep those hands safe!)

Measuring cups (very very VERY important!)

Couple of basic baking sheets

Aluminum foil sheets


Whisk (for desserts in which you use dry and wet ingredients)

Baking soda

Baking powder

Vanilla essence

All-purpose flour (Maida)




Of course, I am still a beginner and making scones or croissants is a pretty far away dream to me. But I am hoping to get there. There are so many awesome bakers in this country so I am hoping that being in their radius will rub some of their goodness on me. Anyway, I’ll post a couple of my favorite recipes the next time. They are easy and delicious. Until then, look for a packet of Betty Crocker, Pillsbury or Cadbury cake mix in your local store and have fun. May the baking begin!

Ps: People in India can use the perfectly beautiful alternative for the oven there: the OTG. I bought one for my mother from Vivek’s (this is not the exact one but the closest one I could find) and it is amazing!



Those last pounds of muffin top…

It is said by work-out moguls that the last few pounds are the toughest to lose. You tend to feel overly happy with your new weight that you feel that one piece of brownie with your evening coffee is okay to eat. I’ve been carrying my last few pound for, lets see, forever and they have decided to set up camp and not let me go. My magic number is 33 and this is when you stop letting your Indian brain from doing wrong conversion. 15 kgs is a heavy weight to carry around and my most important reason for shying away from colors like white and peach. I mean, who wants to look like a golf ball when you can actually do dark?

So a couple of weeks back, I bullied myself into going to the forbidden land of community gym at home. It has not been dramatic: I haven’t magically fallen in love with the study-sized training room but I haven’t tried to cook up reasons for copping out either. My ritual, like playing the part of my couch’s cover, has been constant. I go and train around late afternoon. My ipod gives me much needed company and my water bottle always acts as the savior.

I feel like smiling when I get out. For a person who has been feeling like she needs to re-stock her wardrobe in goth colors, it is a welcome change. I love achy knees, stretchy arms and the urgent need to shower in cold water. So I am not going to say that I have officially become this health-conscious girl that I’ve always dreamed of being. But this is certainly a start to a little bit of health and action in my sloth book.

Update you, I shall. I mean, how can I not, my invisible ones (or visible ones who never leave a comment. Hint, hint.)?


H4 on my mind

Back home, we were living people, not just an alpha-numeric visa-code put together. We had lives, we had education and professions that kept us on our toes. We had dreams of feeling worthy all the time while keeping in sync with the social demands. Perhaps that’s what found us open to marriage and family duties. Not all of us seeked out NRI men from the USA but out of love, commitment and sometimes pressure, we signed up for the ride.

People back home judge us. They think it was our wild dream to live in the land of a million opportunities and we took the easy way out by getting married to a semi-Americanised, big brand wearing professional. Oh, they would be surprised when they toss the coin and notice the other side. As I said, we had a fulfilling life back at home and if we had had a choice to be married to the same man and live on in our motherland, we would have agreed to it only readily.

Instead, we have a H4 prefixed to our identity and spend our daytime surfing between Food Network and brushing off dust from the coffee table. We are far away from our indulgent parents and parents-in-law who are either waiting to dote on us or preparing to criticize us. And amidst all the transition, we wonder why our identities ditched us in the cold.

The climate is another thing. We hate the cold, we just try to convince ourselves that wearing a coat and slipping on those boots were our longtime dream. We fool ourselves into thinking that New Delhi is nearly as cold as Washington DC  in winter and that the eclectic cuisines are hard to come across in India. We put our country down ignorantly while we know somewhere in our sub-conscience that we do that only to make ourselves feel better.

We know our next generation has a beautiful future in India, that the country is developing. In fact, for some reason, that is the only thing on my mind when I try to toss a Rava Dosa on a flat Dosa Tawa (instead of the concave one I am used to back at home). Yet we hold on, for we are strong, we are married and we have wonderful men who come home to us every evening with stories about Mandys, Sallys and Peters. We may still be looking for our identity, scouring in search of that one soul who would have a big enough heart to give us at least an internship while we try our best to ignore the judgmental comments from our India-based friends.

We try to believe it is worth all the mental strain. If it is worth it…


A fat girl confession

Lets admit it. 90% the world’s population wants to be thin. The ramp walkers to women on infomercials, they all look slim, wear their clothes well and don’t wonder about that extra pound of muffin waist sticking out. No wonder, beauty and clothing lines go huge on corsets and angled cuts to give the illusion of being thin.

I have always been on the plump side all my life. While I did look cute as a little kid, with rosy cheeks and pudgy baby fingers, I had a very difficult time coming to terms with my size. Being surrounded by skinny friends did not make me feel any better. While I used to spend more than half hour into picking my clothes and trying them on just to make sure I don’t look like a cup cake, I thought my friends had it easy. I have always been a perfectionist when we talk about dressing.

I have my own sense of style and I have my clothes fit me right, hence the extra minutes I spent at dressing up did not bother me. There was a short period in my life when I did lose a lot of weight and got to a size I not only loved but also felt sexy in. Gymming or other modes of working out did not do the trick. I fell ill. My medications curbed my appetite and hence helped me shed my pounds fast.  What did disturb me was the way people I know emphasized on their belief that I looked better chubby.May be  I do, I still don’t really know. And fashion is supposed to have made things easy for people like me.

There is a whole range of options for plus sized women and there are those easy ways out like cuts, colors and size of prints on clothes. While we do embrace these trends with open arms and try to incorporate them into our shopping escapades, some people, like me, do still wish for slimmer waists and thinner arms. What is it that makes us desire those <5 sizes? It cannot just be those models on the ramps, print advertisements and actresses at awards. It cannot be the lack of choice is clothing, if Dressbarn is anything to go by (the website sucks but the stores are awesome)

I know, I know, I am far away from the whole plus size phase of life, measuring 8/10 dress-wise. But does it mean I can’t feel huge?


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Call me delusional but I can hear my invisible audience laughing. Laughing hysterically at my total lack of ability to keep up my resolution. I did say I was going to write everyday, but in my defense, I have been swamped with other things like viral infections and non-blog writing.

The Atlanta trip was lovely, met friends, had cake, partied toddler style and ended up in Dulles very late on Sunday night to be greeted by incessant rains. The husband fell ill immediately (talk about weak resistance!) and I was busy pampering him for nearly a week. He is up and active now, thanks for asking.

But now, I am back on track, ready to write and give you, my invisible lovelies, something to scroll through. How does that sound?

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My Mistress of Spices

I am not writing about the Aishwarya Rai starer but about the heat, the Kaaram, the Mirchi we pack in all our Indian food. An all time lover of chillies, be it red or green, I was quick to notice when I started living in this country that the concept of spicy food has a different version. At home, bringing a humble portion of the Nellore side of my family to the table, my grandmother used to be pretty casual about chilies and chili powder. Our Sambars generally contain both and that’s the way we rolled. My mother too, who learned the art from her mother-in-law,  followed the recipe and so do I since I started cooking regularly.

Hence, when I got the first bite of Mexican food in USA (at Chipotle) a week after I landed, I was sorely disappointed to find it tame in taste. First of all, there was no jalapeno in my salad bowl and the hottest sauce (which my husband actually warned me about in length) was not hot at all! I thought that Chipotle, being a national chain, had perhaps moved a little away from authentic Mexican into an American version that the natives found palatable. I was wrong. A winter trip Mid-West to Texas found me completely desperate to try authentic Tex-Mex food that is supposed to be wild.

Our friend took us to this restaurant that specialized in the cuisine and I was warned of the heat yet again. My enchilada was awesome but I had to actually order a side of green chilies to add some spice to my food. When I cook at home here, I always have to remember my husband’s intolerance to too much spice. My two spoons became one and then shrank to three-quarters. Most of the time, my chilies lost their sheen half way through the box and I have to discard them.

I still love the fruit though and I am fantasizing about the next time I will get to eat food with chilies on full throttle. For now, my little teaspoons would suffice… until next time…