One of the burdens that has to be borne by reasonably musical adults who have had anything to do with children, directly or indirectly, is the retention in memory of nursery rhymes set to music. My knowledge of nursery rhymes was extensive - even before I spent a lot of time with my little cousin (right from when she was a baby to until she was about 11 years old). But at least I didn’t sing any of them, because I’d only ever read them. Unfortunately, however, Hema as a toddler was extremely attached to her nursery rhyme tape, with the songs sung by some famous(ish) Indian female singer whose name I can’t remember. (For some reason Tarla Dalal comes to mind, but it was NOT her, that much I’m sure of. She doesn’t sing, does she?)
Anyway, coming back to unintentionally selective programmed memory, I assure you that I hardly ever think of nursery rhymes in normal circumstances. BUT – let a trigger word happen and, like an obedient robot, my brain clicks on and plays the relevant rhyme on a permanent loop. Yesterday, somebody in the office mentioned a problem with mice in their home, and all day my brain was singing “Three blind mice, three blind mice. See how they run. See how they run. They all ran after the farmer’s wife, she cut off their tails with a carving knife, did ever you see such a thing in your life as three blind mice.” (I wrote the entire rhyme down in the faint hope of someone else acquiring the ear-worm. Misery shared is… well, misery doubled, but at least I won’t be alone.)
So. All that was merely a prelude to posting about the one-pot vegetable-and-pasta dinner that I made to accompany what remained of my pav buns. One of the ingredients in this recipe was macaroni. Yep, I made the recipe to my personal internal music system which had set itself to play “Yankee Doodle went to town, riding on a pony. He tucked a feather in his cap and called it macaroni. (chorus) Laa la la la la la la, laa la la la laa lah. Laa la la la la la la la la la la la laa lah” all the time - and, as it turned out, all night.
(My brain didn’t leave out a single la, and neither have I. Just thought I’d mention it.)
Recipe for: Vegetable-macaroni hotpot
1 large cup macaroni, slightly undercooked
1 large onion, chopped fine
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 potatoes boiled, cooled and grated
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 cup canned or frozen sweetcorn kernels
2-3 spring onions, chopped fine
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp red chilli powder (or to taste)
1/2 tsp sambar powder
1 tsp sugar
1 htbsp corn flour
2 tbsp grated cheese of choice (sharp cheddar is good - jalapeno or habanero cheese if you like it spicy)
1 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
1 tbsp butter
Salt to taste
1. Heat the butter in a pan till it melts.
2. Add ginger-garlic paste, fry for 15 seconds, then add the chopped onion and spring onions.
3. Add the capsicum
then the tomatoes and corn and fry for 2 minutes.
4. Mix the cornflour in 1 cup water till dissolved, add chilli powder and salt. Pour into the pan, stirring well.
5. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, then turn down the heat and simmer until thickened but not till it becomes solid. It should still be pourable.
6. Place the cooked macaroni in a buttered oven-safe casserole dish.
7. Pour the vegetable sauce over the macaroni.
8. Mix together the cheese and grated potato
and sprinkle evenly over the sauce, followed by the chopped coriander.
9. Bake in a hot oven (200C) for 15 minutes or till the potato-cheese topping becomes golden brown.
10. Serve hot with warm, lightly buttered dinner rolls.