Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home |  Volume 6, Issue 10, Tuesday, March 08, 2011



Chronicles of Sam Q

By Sam Q

Dearest Diary,
I thank God for many, many things in my life but the one which tops the list is that he has made me a woman. So celebrating Woman's Day makes so much sense to me; today I am going to go all emotional, hormonal, philosophical, broody, goody-two-shooey…so let's see how well you handle me.

Why don't we keep things simple?
By this I mean, why can't we cook one simple dish everyday?
I am tired of listening to how one can't cook to save one's life. Cooking is not rocket science. You open our national cookbook, Siddika Kabir's Ranna, Khaddo and Pushti, Choose one dish according to your mental capability and you take it from there. How hard can that be? Everyone is always looking for shortcuts. They would rather pay me money to take cooking classes to teach them, than opening a book by themselves in solitude to learn the nuances of cooking.

Cooking by yourself is so therapeutic. So satisfying. My advice is, don't start your journey by attempting to make 'Kacchhi Biryani,' but by simple things such as a soup or a salad. Believe me; the amount of pleasure you will give and get from this activity will be worth getting your derriere off the couch.

Why don't we invest in a solid piece of human relationship than a Gucci handbag?
Not that we can't invest in both...ahem! I'm just thinking most women seem to enjoy the thrill of pursuing online limited editions rather than lifelong friendships.

Why don't we embrace the weight we are stuck with?
All this fruitless search for the ultimate pill; when will we realise that it isn't there? Sometimes this mirage tries to rear its ugly head under a lot of pseudo names such as Xenical, Atkins Diet, the South Beach diet, the cabbage-soup diet and so on. But tut tut, it does more harm than good, I have been told. I have reconciled with the fact that there is no shortcut to good health, no magic pill, but I sure wish for a pill, which some women call the el supremo confidence pill, which some women seem to have in abundance. Sometimes I just about seem to have a shot at it, but it evaporates the moment I realise that the truck I think I saw at the back…is actually...me.

Why can't we just disappear from everyone's radar for an hour at least everyday?
Sometimes being a mom, a wife, a daughter, a teacher, a home-maker, a career person can just be a tad too much to be. I wish there was a magic wand for every woman to fulfill this dream. Just to be the person we want to be. Whatever! A reader, a singer, a dancer, a lazy bummer. We can if we really want to. We just have to want it badly enough. Remember, nobody is indispensable. The world will be okay, without you, for an hour.

Why can't we just let go?
Not make issues. From my own experience I have seen, eight out of ten things which I used to get mad about, I didn't have to. I just made mountains out of molehills because I was young, immature and stupid. Now, just by association of nearly thirty years with a wise man, I have learnt to let things go, slide and slither away. Man! It's so good for the stress level. You will be doing your arteries a great favour if you follow this path.

But Diary, don't get me wrong. Of course I still have a lot of axes to grind. I have not suddenly become this sissy-pissy namby-pamby, wuss of a person. I have just learnt to deal with issues. I discuss, I pick people's brains to understand whether I am overreacting or not. I have also learnt to distance myself from situations and people who cause me heartache. It is their loss, not mine. So people, name of the game, don't worry, be happy (as some song goes).

And lastly, women, why don't we make small changes?
Like, let's not crib about our daughters-in-law, let's not burn the scalps of our hired ten year old helps, let's not feed our already overfed babies while the nanny/child looks on, let's give our house helps once a week holidays, let's teach our child to save water, let's talk to the rickshaw puller with the dignity he deserves, let's do all the right things to make Bangladesh a better place to live.


Vietnamese Noodle Soup
Preparation time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 35 mins
Serves 4
8 cups chicken stock
1 cup coconut milk,
¼ cup fish sauce
Shredded rind and juice of 1 lime
12 thin slices fresh ginger
2 tsp grated palm sugar
1 chicken breast fillet, cut into 2cm pieces
250g flat Chinese noodles
4 green shallots, thinly sliced mint leaves, to serve
Shredded lime leaves, to serve
2 long red chilies, thinly sliced, to serve
Lime wedges, to serve

Put stock, fish sauce, milk, lime rind and juice, ginger and palm sugar in a large deep pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Cook for 15 minutes. Strain over a large bowl. Discard solids. Wash pan.

Return soup to pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Add chicken to pan and cook for 5 minutes or until cooked through. Add noodles and cook for 2 minutes or until soft. Stir in green shallot. Ladle soup into bowls. Serve with mint and lime leaves, chili and lime wedges.

Italian Chicken Frittata
Preparation time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 45 mins
Serves 4
80g butter
1 red onion, sliced
100g beef salami cut into thin strips
350g chicken thigh fillets, cut into thin strips
10 cooked chat potatoes, sliced
50g tomatoes
8 eggs, beaten
½ cup grated parmesan
½ cup grated tasty cheese
½ cup basil leaves, shredded

Melt half the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add onion and prosciutto, and cook until softened. Add chicken and cook for 8 minutes or until cooked through. Add potato and stir until combined.

Melt remaining butter in a large heavy-based frying pan over a low heat. Transfer chicken and potato mixture to pan, spreading evenly. Sprinkle tomatoes over chicken mixture. Put egg, parmesan, cheese and basil in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Pour mixture over chicken and cook on a low heat for 20-25 minutes or until mixture firms and sets.

Preheat grill to high. Put pan under grill and cook for 5-10 minutes or until golden. Remove pan from heat and leave to stand for 5 minutes. Cut around edge of the frittata with a knife. Turn out onto a large plate and cut into wedges. Serve hot or cold.

Warm Chicken Gado Gado Salad
Preparation time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 35 mins
Serve 4
3 small potatoes
3 eggs
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 cup chicken stock
¼ cabbage, finely shredded 100g green beans
1 tbsp olive oil
2 chicken breast fillets cut into 3cm pieces
½ cup fresh orange juice
1/3 cup chunky peanut butter
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup honey
3cm-piece fresh ginger, peeled, finely grated
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ cucumber, thinly sliced

Put potatoes in a small pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil over a high heat. Cook for 5 minutes or until tender. Drain. Put eggs in a small pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil over a high heat. Cook for 4 minutes. Drain and crack shells. Rinse under cold water.

Put carrot and chicken stock in a small pan and bring to the boil over a high heat. Cook for 2 minutes or until carrot is tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and put in a small bowl of ice-cold water. Add cabbage and beans to boiling stock. Cook for 2 minutes. Drain and transfer to cold water.

Heat oil in a medium frying pan over a medium heat. Add chicken and cook for 6 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside.

Put orange juice, peanut butter, soy sauce, honey, ginger and garlic in a small pan and heat over a low heat. Cook, stirring, until heated through. Put chicken, carrot, cabbage and beans on a serving platter. Cut potatoes and eggs into quarters and arrange on salad with cucumber. Spoon over sauce and serve.

Thai Chicken Cakes
500g chicken mince
1 cup bread crumbs
? cup coconut milk (fresh)
¼ cup sweet chili sauce
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 bunch of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
2 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled, finely grated
1 tbsp olive oil
1 long red chili, thinly sliced
4 lime leaves, thinly shredded
Lime wedges to serve

Put mince in a large bowl. Add cucumber, chili sauce, coconut milk, fish sauce, coriander leaves and ginger. Stir until combined. Form 2tbs of the mixture into a patti. Repeat with remaining mixture.

Heat oil on a medium heat. Add half the patties and cook through.

Serve hot with lemon wedges.


The Ovi Craze

The influx of different kinds of smart phones in the market has led to a huge boom in demand for the product. Head of Marketing of Nokia, Sajid Rizwan Matin sees this as a growing opportunity for cell-phone makers but underlines Nokia's soon-to-be forefront runner position in the market. 'Our aim is now to make these smart phones smarter.' Sajid says. Nokia promises blending in seamless experience with price-friendly hand-sets which are affordable for everyone. 'We consider Nokia to be the phone for the masses, he adds.

Apart from the price factor, Nokia also impresses with the availability of a seemingly inexhaustible number of applications. Any Nokia phone user can easily register to enjoy a wealth of applications just by logging into Ovi Store, which is the application wizard. 'It takes a maximum of five minutes to register. Each and every application goes through a quality check.' Sajid adds, discarding any notions of virus infections or low quality applications.

The Head of Marketing for Nokia re-affirms the need for developers and the need to provide consumer benefit. 'This is a large market for anyone who wishes to be a developer. You don't need experience but rather a good idea and five minutes time in hand,' Sajid states, citing the example of Victory Day wallpapers which were made by the users for displaying and promoting their pride and culture. It was higher than those made by any other country in the world before and surprisingly the sketches were not restricted to a Bangladeshi market but transcended borders.

Nokia's newest set of smart phones come equipped with a Facebook widget, QWERTY keyboard, Push mail, wi-fi, Ovi-store, Daily Star widget and tons of other applications. Nokia has strived to make social networking, the latest craze, much easier.

Ovi Store also provides Ovi Sync to back up all your contacts and SMS and more importantly it also has Ovi-Map. Though hard to use in Bangladesh, it can act as one's personal tour guide the world over, without the requirement of a SIM or even roaming charges. Apart from showing one's position and the area around, Ovi-map can also aid in real time information on places and immediate booking.

'Also, consider the 'Rock the Legends' concerts. We asked the people using Facebook to vote for the performers and the playlist.' Sajid said, highlighting the use of social networks to edge closer to their customers. Songs which aren't usually played at concerts were also requested and delivered. The x2 QWERTY was also launched at an unplugged LRB concert. Ovi store also brought about the King of Games competition which one of the publishers launched. The highest scores were submitted and there were three winners from Bangladesh in this worldwide competition, winning every time, in every level. 'Ovi stor is a community in itself' Sajid stated. With over 3 million people joining every day, it is no wonder then that Ovi store is currently the fastest growing community among cell-phone users.

Though some applications are free and others need to be paid for, based on customer reviews and the Ovi store's own data, users can easily know the best applications by browsing through the recommended category. Ovi store is bringing about a second revolution and one must become a part of it.

By Osama Rahman


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