Wednesday, 13 April 2016
Sunday Bowl Of Fun With Quaker Bowl IndiBlogger Meet 2016
Sunday. The best day of the week. The day even your parents don't disturb you if you sleep beyond the 8 AM mark.
Unless you have told them to wake up early :P
This is a feat only Indiblogger can achieve. Make normal people want to wake up early on a Sunday so that they can spend at least 1 hour wondering what are they going to wear to the Indimeet where a celebrity chef is gonna regale them with something special,just like I was doing on 10th April 2016 :D
This invite to attend an event related to Quaker oats obviously raised a 1000 questions.
Who is this celebrity chef?
What in the name of sweet Jesus are we going to do with oats? I mean, seriously, OATS!
When will I dream about my date with Leonardo di Caprio, a process I keep reserved for Sunday mornings?
What is meant by Healthy Food? Do I want to have healthy food on Sunday? And what is up with OATS?
So after grappling with these mysteries of life for about an hour,I did sign up for the meet because if there is one thing I know about Indiblogger in my 2 years of association with them is that they serve brilliant food in all their events. Also, they are a bunch of really sweet and passionate (about blogging) people. And I always learn something new in all the Indimeets. And did I say how brilliant the food always is? :D
So there I was, ubering my way to JW Marriott Juhu on Sunday morning with my sister who has very recently joined the world of Blogging & Indiblogging :) We reached early which just gave me ample time to roam around the premises and take photographs of all sorts of knick knacks around PLUS meet other awesome bloggers. Some tea, coffee and cookies AND a huge ink stamp on our hands later, we were ushered in the regal ballroom to meet our surprise celebrity chef and start the fun + healthy session. It started with the usual bonhomie and some quirky fun when Taher Shah's 'Angel' song was played and we did some crazy ninja dance as a tribute to him :D
I have a confession to make. My relationship with Leonardo has been rock solid for 2 decades now, but sometimes, oh I simply cannot stop myself from dreaming about someone else, who goes by the name of Vikas Khanna. Shh, let it be our secret. Yup, the inspirational, talented and world famous Michelin starred MasterChef Vikas Khanna with his baby restaurant Junoon in New York. Him. Now guess why I am mentioning him here? Well, because he turned out to be our surprise Chef. Yup, take a moment to swoon as we all did :D
So he walks in as our host & dost for next 2 hours and we all lost our minds. After a while, when we could focus on his words rather than his eyes,his hair (yada yada :P), we realized he has tied up as PepsiCo's Nutrition Ambassador! Frankly, when I hear the word Pepsi, I can only think of soda and that is as far from 'health' as it can be. So it is a pleasant surprise to see this giant multinational working in tandem with someone like Vikas Khanna to spread positivity, message of health and battle problems like malnutrition in our society. Good work and Great Karma there :)
The invite was not wrong. There was quiz, prizes, fun, jokes and discussions not to be missed. All because Vikas Khanna is such a charmer. It is not just that he looks good, it is because he radiates goodness. He is kind, compassionate, jovial and probably the most down-to-earth person one can meet. We were in a ballroom with more than 200 people yet every moment of this Indimeet is registered in our minds as if we spent it with him alone :) We discussed about the problem of malnutrition and obesity, the health problems that are engulfing us because of our hectic lifestyle and how oats is one of the best grains to incorporate in our daily life.
Yes, OATS! That dreaded thing :P In my home,I am actually the only one who can bear to eat oats. My sister would rather kiss a dragon that eat anything to do with it. Maybe because none of us are chefs. We enjoy eating but don't really cook anything and when we do,it usually ends in disaster. So the only way we know how to use oats is,put milk and sugar and some chopped fruits in it. So when the conversation veered to oats,I was skeptical. But then Vikas Khanna told us that it can be used to make any dish we make with other grains-sweet or savory. We can use it in soups or even in our Indian gravies as thickening agents. That was a revelation!
There was a little quiz session too,which owing to my complete lack of culinary wizardry, I was a complete failure in :P Anyway, I was too busy swooning over Vikas Khanna while he ran around making sure everyone got a chance to answer and win some cute food hampers :D Oh,he punctuated the session with plenty of homegrown jokes and anecdotes of his childhood, his job and Punjabis in general. He even gave away hampers for people who did not know the answer yet had the courage to stand up for the challenges he put forth...hey,wait,I could have won an hamper too!!! *Light-bulb moment*
The best part was when we had an impromptu cooking contest. When we had walked in the ballroom, I had wondered about the purpose of these cooking stations that were set up along one side.
Turns out that we were all divided into different teams and had to cook up a storm involving oats and a host of other ingredients within 10 minutes which would be reviewed on the basis of taste + their instagram-ability by none other than Vikas Khanna himself. Of course, I was a complete failure when it came to cooking but my teammates were up to the challenge. So we made 2 dishes - first,we sauteed a bunch of veggies and cooked oats in plain water and just mixed them up and second, we cooked oats with jaggery and I,not being a completely useless bum, helped decorate it with macaroons,fruits,chocolate sauce and jalebi. Surprise, surprise, our savory oats dish was actually rather good and was the runner-up. The fact that Chef Khanna did not die of food poisoning or something worse even after tasting our monstrosities was prize in itself for me :D
Actually it was during this impromptu contest itself that the main message of this event resonated with me. Our lives are busy. We are often under the impression that making a good,healthy, nutritious meal is a humongous chore which needs hours of preparation and special culinary skills. Thus we often end up making pizzas, pastas, oily noodles as our staples which are easy to get home delivered whereas we can whip up a lot of healthy food within minutes using something as basic as oats! Brilliant :)
Thanks be to Indiblogger and the whole Quaker team for not making us feast on our own creations and actually serving lip-smacking brunch where we had the pleasure of feasting on several dishes including Oats Brownies as well as Oats Paneer Makhani! Remember when Vikas Khanna was talking about how versatile oats are? Yeah,they really are. We left after getting a free cookbook enumerating various ways in which we can use them to make everything from breakfast to dinner PLUS a pack of Quaker Oats to try these recipes out :)
Oh you wanna know what I made with that? Well, my sister and I, both of us not being even remotely chef-y, decided to try out something simple. And we did! Here is what we made :-)
Just took about 25 grams each of tomatoes, carrots, capsicum, cauliflower and peanuts. Sauteed them in 3 tablespoon of olive oil for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, roasted about 250 grams of oats till they turned brown. Then we mixed them together along with about 150 grams of left-over rice and cooked for another 5 minutes. Voila, Oats & Rice Veggie Delight is ready ;D For the first time in my life, my sister actually ate something with oats in it!
#QuakerBowl was a big bowl of fun indeed :)