The complicated life of health, food and relationships.
Author Archives: hema
I am a trained sociologist and an archival and UX researcher. I am currently the principal investigator for an archival research project on the brahmakshatriyasofhyderabad.com in Hyderabad and also researcher/ manager for choosingwellness.org. I also go by my other name Malini.
I am a translator of notes that remain in the margins to bring the user of technologies into sharper focus. I use the term community researcher, immersive researcher to talk about the work I do.
In the past, as a Director and user experience lead at Code for Princeton I worked with non-profits, community groups, users, and subject matter experts to identify areas of need. I translated this into conversations with brigade members, developers, potential users, and other stakeholders.
The applied ethnography and social research skills got me to meet with a diverse set of people across the broad middle class spectrum in Urban India. Living and working in New Jersey for the past several years has given me a breadth and width of understanding and engaging with people adding critical diversity to my bracket of "users" and experience all rolled in one.
As one sits through the day at a screen without movement (like I have for the last two hours, looking at the clock) and wonder at the amazing technology- I also lock up the circulatory system in a set route and obstruct energy movement. A physical movement keeps the body fluids in motion and at the same time registers the food energy to the remotest parts of the body if one were to think of the gut as the center.
The idea of movement, be it with yoga or with cardio, strength training or zumba, the rhythm of the body changes and takes on the form of the activity. The lymphatic fluid or blood- need to circulate and that is of essence.
Sometimes I jot down a recipe in any form and place and use it aplenty later. It becomes a staple because someone loved it a lot. And that’s how I roll when I look for favorites- I ask my family or friends for a recipe and they share it or I write it down. This tawa masala recipe survived my two iPhone notes-app and lived through a toilet bowl flush- almost. Then I salvaged it into an email folder that still survives- technology!Continue reading “Tawa Masala”
I make cauliflower in the old fashioned way with potatoes sauteed in oil and zeera. Slightly crunchy, slightly caramelized with a sprinkling of turmeric, salt and pepper. It is an amazing dish that over a period of time I changed to make without potatoes altogether and it still tastes great.
Slightly crunchy and slightly caramelized sounds oxymoron-ish since if you let it caramelize, it also becomes soft and looses the crunch. The way I do it is over high heat as I put the veggies in the oil and cover it. As soon as I see the steam escape from the sides I know to take off the lid and let the vegetables stick to the bottom of the pan and in essence, caramelize it. Toss it a few times if they are not done and repeat for a couple of minutes with the lid shut.
Salads in India are a summer solution to extreme heat. The fruits and vegetables are the juiciest during summer. The reason being that there is ample sunshine to hasten the growth and along with enough water- they reach a full growth potential.
Salads when added to the plate take on the burden of providing roughage as well as the cooling quality to the spicy food. We see a lot of salads have curds and buttermilk added to add to the cooling element. This salad is a standard one of chopped variety that uses firm vegetables most of the time. Continue reading “An Indian salad”
I went around the mandi for my vegetables and was chased by young boys looking to sell their wares: small clips, rubber bands, candles, nadas, agarbathis. It is an incessant force at the mandi to get your work done and not be distracted by the small kids who try to make a living. They are like guides to the mandi but at the same time we are short-term visitors who lug back our goods and disappear like tourists, like onlookers.
The phool mandi in Hyderabad, Jam Bagh as the old timers know it, is one such place that has changed faces. Now we also have flower markets in Gudimalkapur one of the largest flower markets in Hyderabad that gets the flowers from Shankarpally, Chevella, Vikarabad. Things change and not remain the same and it makes for the case of wabi-sabi, the way imperfections last.