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I can not remember when I started reading or why. If it is true that children ape their parents, then it is natural that I did. My father was to be always found with a book – whether at lunch, or in the moments he had snatched from the day for himself. All he wanted on Sunday afternoons was to be stretched out on the comfortable arm-chair with a book, with no one talking to him. Do you have any idea how difficult it is for little girls to leave their father alone on a Sunday afternoon? We got unceremoniously shooed off if we persisted in bothering him.

Our old ancestral home where I grew up was overflowing with books – books amassed by generations of Pendharkars that had lived there, starting from my Great Grandfather. There have been ardent readers in my family for generations and they all seemed to have believed in buying a lot of books. In that era, it was common to send your kids to the big town for higher education and more often than not, if there were relatives in the big town, that’s where they stayed. A multitude of my Grandfather’s and father’s cousins have called the place their home at some time or another and have enriched it by leaving behind books that they could not carry away. And because the contributors were so varied and so many, the collection contains books of an astounding variety.

It seems only logical then that living in such a house I became fond of reading. Most of the books were way above my level of understanding (which is not to say I didn’t have a go at them anyway), but my parents kept me supplied with a steady stream of age-appropriate books in addition to those. I’m sure my mother often wondered if they should’ve just kept me away from books because when I was reading, I was completely deaf to her (and so was Papa, so you know where I learned to do that). I have spent hours reading novels hidden behind textbooks, pretending to study, and while it probably wasn’t the right thing to do, it does not seem to have done me any harm and I maintain that it must’ve done me some good. My fondness turned to love, then obsession and is now just my way of life.

This ‘bibliomania’ has enabled me, among things, to form long-lasting friendships with other book lovers – we will always read and will never run out of things to talk about! One such friend is Manjiri. We have been friends for more than fifteen years and we are bound together by a shared love of books and reading and a propensity to talk nineteen to the dozen on any topic imaginable. We love discussing the books we read so much, we decided to have a dedicated space carved out for it and hence was born – So Much to Read, So Much to Say. Do head over there to see what we are up to, if you are fond of all things book. We’re just a few posts old and we’d love to discuss our favourite books with you and hear your thoughts on what you like to read and which books you loved/hated.

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And now, lets not ignore food any longer. This is after all a space reserved for food-love and I think only books have the power to make me write a whole post on a food blog without referring to food even once! Today’s recipe is Singapore Curry Noodles – a recipe I found on Chatelaine and which I tweaked a little – mostly because I didn’t want to use any curry powder – which is after all, a western shortcut for Indian cooking. I’d rather stick to the basics and use the regular spices. This dish has a slightly Indian twist to it and appeals very much to Indian taste-buds, even though it’s called Singapore Noodles. Maybe we ought to just rechristen it to India Curry Noodles! This is also the first time I tried these rice vermicelli, and immediately fell in love with them for their lightness and ease of preparation.

Serves: 4
Prep Time: 30 mins

WHAT YOU NEED:

250 gm rice vermicelli / thin noodles
20 Shrimp / Prawns, cooked
1 cup Carrots, julienned
1 Red Pepper / Capsicum, thinly sliced
1 Onion, sliced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 inch piece of Ginger, thinly sliced
3-4 Spring Onions, chopped
Coriander leaves, chopped for garnishing
1 tbsp Soy Sauce
2 tbsp Lemon Juice
1 tsp Cumin Powder
1 tsp Coriander Powder
1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
1/4 tsp Sugar
2 tbsp Oil
Salt to taste

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, an equal amount of water, 2 tbsp lime juice, 1 tbsp oil and the sugar. Keep aside.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large non-stick pan over high heat, add onions, ginger and garlic. Saute for just a minute, constantly tossing and stirring. The onions should not get soft.
  3. Add the juliennes of carrot and red pepper and the cumin, coriander, red chilli and turmeric powders and continue to stir fry for a few minutes.
  4. Add the shrimp and salt and cook until thoroughly warmed.
  5. Cook vermicelli / noodles according to package instructions. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again and add to the pan. Pour in the lime-soy mixture and stir until noodles are well separated and coated. 
  6. Cook for a couple of minutes more and remove from the heat. Stir in half the coriander and spring onions and use the remaining to garnish.

MY NOTES:

The rice vermicelli / noodles may be cooked a little before the stir fry, in which case, drain very well and drizzle with a little bit of oil and toss to coat so that it doesn’t turn into a soggy mess.

If rice vermicelli is not available, use noodles of your choice. Thinner the better.

If using uncooked shrimp / prawns, just add them before the carrots and red peppers to give couple of minutes extra cooking time. Remember to not over-cook, as they can get chewy.

For more flavourful noodles, add a little more of the lime-soy sauce.

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