I hate it when I miss my office bus. It's not because I'll have to travel by the BMTC and then bargain with auto drivers who quote more fare than is required to buy an entire auto stand to get to my office. It is just that I can't stand my co-travelers on a Volvo. I can get a better view of the ladies on a government bus than on my office bus (where everyone is seated) and these ladies look fresh and radiant in the morning like little rays of sunshine. And I don't like little rays of sunshine especially when I look like a storm laden sky.
How do they get the time and energy to take care of every aspect of their appearance, from the end of each strand of hair to the tip of their nails? It is nearly impossible to find a woman whose nails aren't polished beautifully, clothes ironed and crisp, eyebrows perfectly shaped, and faultlessly accessorized. Beside them, I feel like a sweaty and obnoxious teenager, a gorilla trying to appear human.
After several trips on the Volvo, I decided a drastic makeover was long overdue. I would be the caterpillar that turned into the technicoloured butterfly, I dreamed.
I gritted my teeth and determinedly walked into a fancy beauty parlour deciding to do a lot more than my normal threading. I was greeted by huge posters of L'Oreal, showing women in over the top hairdos. Why would anyone want to style their hair like that, I wondered, unless they were acting in some period drama. Anyway, I was asked to wait at the reception for my turn. I smirked happily as I noticed that many of the ladies assembled there in their home clothes looked far from perfect, nothing like they would look on their way to office. HA! But my new found confidence took a serious beating when the beautician assigned to me inquired whether I was pregnant. Things didn't improve when she pointed out that I had patches of my eyebrows missing, my hair was thin and limp and my skin was drier than the Sahara. "That's why I am here", I wanted to yell at her, but wisely refrained. Antagonizing a woman with a pair of scissors in hand is ever a good idea.
I was escorted to a room full of women in varying degrees of nudity. Most of them had green and white packs on their faces and cucumber slices covering their eyes (maybe to save them from the agony of idiots like me staring). Some of them had foul smelling creams on their heads while other were getting their feet scrubbed clean. I felt like I had stepped into an alien world but I soon became part of it as I allowed myself to be subjected to hours of plucking, trimming, hot wax, aromatic oils, massages, cutting, filing and polishing. As a bonus, I was also treated to lengthy discussions between the beauticians on all subjects ranging from the latest movie release to the mother in law's request for a boy child.
At the end of all the treatments, they gave me a list of other treatments I needed to do in the coming weeks, assured me that the red patches here and there (that weren't present when I walked in) would subside soon, and warned me of dire consequences if I didn't treat my hair regularly. My breath caught slightly as I looked at my bill, and I made a mental note to crumple the list they gave me at the first chance I got. Though in all fairness, I must say the massages were quite enjoyable and I did feel refreshed at the end of the day.
Anyway, while I waiting my turn in the parlour, I hid behind magazines, pretending to read so I could watch the ladies surreptitiously and gloat at them. Till I chanced upon Pachakam magazine that had pages of beautifully pictured food and recipes. I bought the magazine on my way home and my parents were equally impressed and they immediately set upon making the puff pastry with prawn filling.
We used beef instead of prawns. Guess you can use any kind of filling you like. It does not have the layers of normal puff pastry, but then, the effort involved was minimal. It turned out to be very, very good, and I'll surely be making this snack again.
300 grams plain flour
100+50 grams dalda (food shortening)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons water
1 egg yolk +1 egg white
1 tablespoon milk
Sift together plain flour and salt. Rub in 50 grams dalda. Mix in water and knead into a dough. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
Sprinkle some flour on your work surface and roll out the dough into a rectangle about 3 - 5 mm thick. Brush on the remaining dalda on the surface of the dough.
Cut the dough into three rectangles, each portion bigger than the previous one. Roll the smallest rectangle along its length. Place the rolled dough at the bottom on the next rectangle and roll again, such that the first roll is enclosed in the second. Now place the roll at the bottom of the largest rectangle and roll again. Tuck the ends of the roll inside and press firmly. Refrigerate for two hours.
Roll out the dough into a 15x6 inch (approx) rectangle.
Spread out 1 1/2 cups of filling lengthwise over the dough. Fold over both edges of the rectangle (the long sides), brush some egg white over one edge and stick together gently. Bend the roll into a 'U' or horseshoe shape and place it on a greased baking dish.
Mix together milk and egg yolk. Brush it over the pastry. With a sharp knife, make cuts into the pastry spaced about 1" apart. You should have about 16 pieces this way. Brush some more of the milk and yolk mixture on the pastry.
Bake in a preheated oven at 200 C for about 40 minutes.
You will need
200 grams cooked and minced beef + To taste, salt + 3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup onion, chopped + 1 tablespoon ginger, chopped + 1 tablespoon green chili, chopped
1/4 cup capsicum, chopped + 4 teaspoons chopped celery + 1/2 cup cabbage, chopped
1/2 tablespoon plain flour + 2 tablespoons milk
Mix together cooked beef, salt and water.
Heat oil in a pan and fry onion, ginger and green chili. Mix in beef, capsicum, cabbage and celery and adjust seasoning. Move beef mixture to the sides of the pan. Add flour and fry lightly. Next, the milk needs to be mixed in with the flour. Mix everything together and fry a little without drying out the beef.