Monday, July 18, 2016

Joint Family Life thus far!

For most people, living with their In-laws would be a nightmare come true. It has been 2 months since my In-laws moved in with us, and it has been nothing less than a dream. 

Traditionally, most young newlywed couples (in India, at least) move in with the husband's parents as newlyweds, which can cause a lot of tension. There are loads of TV shows about joint family strife and drama. After getting to know my in-law's for the past 10 years and developing a solid friendship and rhythm with them, it is only now that they have moved in with usAnd you know what? I don't think I would have appreciated their help as much then, as I do now. I used to like to be an independent woman and do everything by myself...until I had kids!!! After having a child, it's impossible to do pretty much anything at all. Even the most simple tasks like going grocery shopping or using the toilet in privacy is difficult. Forget about ever having a nap during the day. Having my in-law's help, and their companionship has been incredibly comforting.

Like many mothers of young children who live in nuclear families, I have found it extremely difficult over the years to complete all my household work, prepare fresh meals for my family, work on my own passions, and find time for myself on a daily basis. Living in a joint family has alleviated ALL of that stress because I now have two extra helping hands around the house. My In-laws' unwavering support has made my life so easy, as a woman, as a mother, and as a wife. 

Just as I suspected (and hoped!), as soon as my mother-in-law landed, she hijacked my kitchen. She cooks 3 fresh meals a day and could arguably be one of India's top chefs. Her spicy home-style Andhra cooking is famous in husband-ji's family. Prior to her arrival, it has been a struggle for me for YEARS to cook for my picky-eater husband. Now all that stress has gone now that she has arrived. We are all extremely happy, well fed, and definitely plumpy!

(What dinner looks like!)

Probably the most surprising thing to me is how helpful my father-in-law is around the house. I have actually never spent so much time with him, as he has only visited us for a maximum of 1-2 weeks before because he was always working. I used to think he was one of the more traditional members when it comes to gender roles, however he has equally taken charge of household tasks. He takes care of the dog, feeds him, and walks him. He walks to the grocery store twice a day and buys everything we need. He is also obsessed with keeping the sink empty so he washes all the dishes and loads the dishwasher every day. Which means that my only responsibility in the kitchen is putting the soap in the dishwasher flap and turning it on. Yes, my only responsibility is pressing a button!!!

And that's not even the best part. Now that my In-laws are living with us, husband-ji and I can go on a date night any night of the week. My mother-in-law says we don't even have to ask her if we can go out. So far, we are averaging going out about 2-3 times a week, which is such a luxury. Before, we would have to pre-book the babysitter and eagerly covet our date nights, where we would basically be $200 broker after going to dinner and a movie (plus paying the babysitter). Not only that, but it was all limited in time and rushed, since we had to be back by a certain time so the babysitter could go home. My parents have tried to help out as best as they can over the years, but they are working full-time, both not in good health, and elderly. My in-law's are 10 years younger than my parents, so it's a completely different generation and they have a lot more energy.

I also don't feel any pressure to be the ideal bahu as I have felt in previous years. In years past, I have always wanted to impress my in-law's and have exasperated myself but now I feel like just being me is enough. I genuinely feel like they like me, and they are not judging me, and I can be comfortable around them just as if they were my biological parents. I really feel as though I am their daughter.

I knew when my in-law's moved in with us, that Maya would thrive the most because grandparents and grandchildren have such a dear, special bond. But I truly had no idea how much husband-ji and I would thrive...just as much as her!

Joint family life is definitely for me! I never want to go back!


Monday, July 4, 2016

Bibi's Nepali Style Chicken Curry (Khukoor ko Masu)

Hi, I'm Bibi and I'm honored to do a recipe guest post on Alex's blog today! If you'd like to learn more about me please check out my interview on Madh Mama here or visit my blog Keep Calm & Curry On.

From the heart of the Himalayas comes this delicious chicken curry. In Nepali, "kukhoor" means chicken and "masu" means meat. Chicken is marinated then slowly simmered until delectably tender in a richly seasoned sauce of traditional Nepali spices. Don't let that long list of ingredients in this recipe intimidate you, this is one of the easiest and tastiest chicken curries you'll ever make!

There are so many ethnicities in the tiny nation of Nepal it's really hard to generalize the cuisine. I learned this recipe from a lovely lady who once ran a small restaurant in the town of Malekhu on the banks of the Trishuli river in Nepal. She firmly insisted this chicken needs to marinate overnight or a full day for the best flavor. Although everyone cooks their chicken curry a little differently the marination in oil is typical of many Nepali meat curries. The liberal use of spices such as black cardamom, fenugreek, and cassia leaves or "tej patta" is common to many Nepali dishes too. If you've never made a curry this is a great "first recipe" to try. It really is so simple to make but so tasty!

- 1kg/2lbs chicken, skinless, bone in, cut into 8 pieces
- 2 inch piece cassia bark/dalchini (or cinnamon stick)

Grind to smooth paste for marinade:
- 1/3 C cooking oil (mustard oil if you wish to be authentic)
- 2 C onion, roughly chopped
- 2 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1 tsp cayenne powder + 1 tsp paprika powder)
- 2 tsp cumin/jeera, ground or seeds
- 1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
- 5 green cardamoms/elaichi
- 5 cloves/laung
- 10 black peppercorns/kali mirch
- 1/4 tsp mace/javitri (or nutmeg/jaiphal)
- 2-3 green chilis/hari mirch (omit for less heat)
- 2 tsp salt

Here's what to do:

1) Grind all ingredients listed under marinade to smooth paste in mixie, food processor, or blender. Coat all chicken pieces in ground marinade and place in a sealable airtight container. If you like, place the cassia leaves/tej patta and cassia bark/dalchini on top of the marinating chicken pieces in the container. Allow chicken to marinate for at least 2 hours up to overnight in the refrigerator.

2) When ready to cook place marinated chicken pieces, tej patta/cassia leaves, and cassia bark/dalchini in kadhai or deep heavy bottomed skillet. Reserve marinade. Allow chicken pieces to fry on each side for 3 minutes, chicken should just be turning white.

3) Add reserved marinade to chicken pieces in pan. Stir well and fry for 5 minutes. If mixture begins to stick or scorch add 1/4 C water, stir, and reduce heat.

4) Add 1 C water to pan, stir well and allow chicken pieces to simmer uncovered over medium heat for 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and oil has separated from the sauce. If mixture begins to stick or scorch add 1/4 C water, stir, and reduce heat. 

Salt to taste and serve with rice, rotis, or naan.

Helpful Hints:
Never cook chicken in a pressure cooker as the intense high heat will make it rubbery.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and do come visit me at Keep Calm & Curry On for more culinary fun!

Calmly currying on,

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Now Featured On: Masalamommas (15 Common Stereotypes about Intercultural Relationships)

As many of you know, I am doing a once monthly cross-cultural feature on Masalamommas online magazine. It is wonderful to have a platform to voice issues and stories faced by our multicultural community. This month, my article is about the misconceptions that intercultural couples face regarding our relationships. Here is a small excerpt from my article:

"4. That you only married your spouse for a green card or to immigrate to a different country.

This is one of the misconceptions that I despise the most because it implies that intercultural unions are not as valid as others, or that it is based on an ulterior motive. In reality, intercultural relationships are based on love, just like any other relationship. Any married couple would want to live with their spouse and not be long-distance, which is why one partner eventually has to immigrate to the other partner’s country. Because of this, people doubt our love for each other, no matter that many of us have to uproot our lives just to be with our partner. Married couples should not have to live separately due to strict immigration laws, and families should not be divided by borders.

The “marrying for a green card” belief is also only assumed if one of the spouses is from a Western country like USA, Canada, Australia, England, for example. People always assume my Indian-born spouse married me to gain Canadian residency, but nobody ever assumes that I married my spouse to get an OCI (Overseas Citizen of India card)!"


Read the whole article on Masalamommas HERE!
And don't forget to share it if you like it!

What about you guys? What misconceptions have YOU faced? Comment below...


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Best Children's Books about Daddies

Father's Day is right around the corner and I have been on the hunt for books that celebrate the beauty of fatherhood. Compared to all the great books about mommies, there are actually a lot less books about dads - which is unfortunate. In particular, I was looking for books that captured dads doing all the daily tasks of parenthood that you'd traditionally only see moms doing. This month, Maya's school is doing a nice Father's Day party and she has already designed an invitation for daddy and thatha!

Here are some of our favorite books about daddies:

Hop on Pop
This Dr.Seuss book is a classic for your child's library, and one of our personal favorites. The book features quick, rhyming language that is great to keep young children engaged in the fun story. This book is also good for children who are just beginning to read as it uses short words. This book was first published in the 60's and it hasn't gone out of style!

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale
This is a hilarious book about a toddler that goes to the laundromat with his dad and his favorite stuffed toy, "knuffle bunny" mistakenly gets thrown in the washing machine. He has a huge tantrum and the dad gets frustrated because the toddler can't communicate with words. It is a very relatable story that all dads can connect with.

Saturday with Daddy
This book is about a baby elephant and his dad spending the day together on the weekend. They do all kinds of fun things, like have breakfast, go shopping, and nap together. I loved this book because it told "a day in the life" type of story and it portrayed the special bond that kids have with their dads when they spend uninterrupted quality time with them.

Papa, Do You Love Me?
In the white-washed world of books, this one adds a welcome diversity to the mix. This books takes place in the African countryside and it gives a taste of Masai culture, while reminding kids that children all over the world have a universal love their daddies. It is a good reminder - for kids and parents - to think globally.

Nelly Gnu and Daddy Too
This book comes from the same author that did the wildly popular Llama Llama Red Pajama (one of my top picks for books about mommies). This book focuses on Llama Llama's friend Nelly Gnu, who has a special day with her daddy. It is an inventive and creative story that shows Nelly and her dad building something special out of leftover cardboard. Anyone who loves Llama Llama will also love this book too. 

This book is a seasonal story that it specifically about Father's Day. Four year old Susie has big plans for her dad on Father's Day, including taking him to a carousel ride and a fast food restaurant. It is a humorous story about children's excitement, and also about parents' exhaustion to keep up with young children's non-stop energy. This book is great for preschoolers who are just beginning to comprehend what Father's Day is.
This is an award-winning book that is perfect for a starter library, young babies/toddlers, and especially any child who is obsessed with trucks and construction. The book has engaging, bright illustrations in primary colors. The story is about dads who support and encourage their children and who are proud of them.

This book is a sweet & tender story about all the reasons why kids love their dads - ie. "I love my daddy because he is big and strong". It is depicted by beautiful illustrations of a good variety of baby animals and their daddies. This one would be perfect for a first Father's Day present.

When I was little, I used to look at my dad's big hands and think that he was a giant. This book portrays the amazement that kids have about their dad's powerful size, paired with a wild imagination - ie. the dad is so tall that clouds rest on his shoulders. I liked this book because it had an accurate perspective that a child would have.


Check out my other children's book lists HERE.
What are your favorite children's books about daddies?

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