H and I have always showered each other with beautiful surprises for birthdays. H has sincerely taken off from his work on all my birthdays since our engagement. And every year, he would think of something special and beautiful; once it was a stay at a resort on ECR, next time it was a spa package and this year it was a barbecue lunch. For H’s birthdays, I usually surprise him with some foody stuff because that’s his sole merrymaking element in life. The year before last year, I had arranged a dinner buffet at home that included 17 new items that I’ve never tried before.
The most unforgettable of all his birthdays was the last year’s. In addition to food, there was an extra-surprise ingredient which I realized later, was the deadliest of all the risks I’d ever taken 😯 though as I recollect those moments of panic today, it seems a silly, knee-slapper reminiscence 😆
One of his fine tastes is for traditional cuisines. He had made casual remarks a couple of times about his fantasy of starting an exclusively traditional food outlet. So that formed the background of his birthday food surprise. I planned to make a few classical South Indian dishes that included Kuzhi Paniyaram (snack made of rice and black lentil batter), Kozhukattai (Modak), Pachai Payaru Sundal (dry fried green gram snack), Ulundhu Vadai (urad dal vada) and Jigarthanda (beverage made of milk, ice cream and almond pisin). If had lightly, these would form an evening snack while a little heavier stuffing can make a dinner.
I thought it will become like a usual day with just two of us having homemade snacks, the consequence of which was my idea of inviting five of his friends with their families. Yes! The deadliest risk I told you about! I began fantasizing behaving a unique hostess who can be at ease in making traditional food in such modern eras. I became thrilled imagining H’s reaction when he would get surprised seeing his friends at home. I was instantly filled with floating feelings of being praised and admired for my surprise-giving capability. Like the daydreamer milkmaid, my empty fantasies overpowered me and though I’d just had formal interactions with his friends earlier, I hunted through H’s Facebook profile for the contacts and proposed my invitation. Initially, I wasn’t sure if they would take my invitation seriously. Later, when I received encouraging responses, I was already in cloud nine, rehearsing every silly thing I would enact in front of the guests. In the hyper enthusiastic state, I made an hysterical mistake of revealing the theme of my menu – traditional – and suggested them to come in traditional attires as well (I know, a little too much!). Thus food and friends, perfectly planned!
Perfectly planned? That’s what I’d assumed. However, the reality had a different plan. Today, when I look back, it strikes me hard that I had then safely overlooked the three risk factors in my perfect plan.
Risk 1: I was no expert with the items I’ve chosen
In fact, they were a little complicated-to-make dishes, reserved for mommies, grannies and aunties.
Risk 2: The invitees were H’s friends
So it was critical to be that ‘perfect hostess’. When once I had sneaked into H’s whatsapp messages, I read one of his friends praising the culinary skills of a friend’s wife following their casual visit. So, by all chance, my invitation will be soon discussed there and I had to maintain my dignity in the virtual space. If it were my friends, I could have even offered them burnt food and requested to ‘adjustaaaa’ 😆
Risk 3: The above two had to be managed with a tantrum-throwing, two-year old kid, capable of messing up every little thing at home.
Goes without explanation!
You must have partly guessed by now about how the execution went. Let me narrate (in sobs) the most difficult household day I’ve ever encountered 😥
The party was scheduled to begin at 7 pm and I’d made a 5 pm deadline for myself to get everything ready including food, dressing up and arranging home. I began with making the modak. It was a long process to get the flour mix ready and it was then the first goof-up began. Within a few seconds of my absence in the kitchen, the little boy had happily drained up to the last drop of water from his sippy cup into what – can you imagine? Yes, into my modak batter 😳 “Cool, cool, you can fix it. Call the emergency doctor.” I did listen to my inner voice and called mom immediately for trouble shooting techniques but I learnt it was an irreversible deal. And I didn’t have enough time to restart the long process another time. All that I could finally do was scream at the prankster, but he ran away giggling happily. Left with no choice, I decided to exclude this item from the menu. There were still other dishes, I consoled myself though I could feel the nervousness running through my veins already.
Kuzhi paniyaram is relatively easier to prepare which I thought would boost my confidence after the pathetic attempt at modak. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that I had lent my non-stick tawa to a friend and all that I had now was the traditional stone tawa. Nevertheless, I tried to keep calm without getting disheartened while I switched on the gas stove. As expected, in a few minutes, the batter was getting stuck to the bottom of the tawa and the more I tried to set things right, the more it ended up getting burnt. At the end, I had only one good-looking kuzhi paniyaram left 😥 Now, the second disaster was enough to get me out of balance.
It was already 12 pm. I made a quick-lunch for my son and put him to sleep. In the next few hours, I gathered courage to make vadas which did taste like vada though looked like bondas. Well, it wasn’t presentable but at least the guests wouldn’t go empty stomach now. Finally, I hoped to get the sundal right but unmindfully, I misread the “add 1/4 teaspoon salt ” as “add 1/4 tablespoon salt” from the recipe. Needless to say, you know how miserable it could have turned out. I was in no mood to try the beverage now. And the worst of all was that, amidst the turbulent cooking time, I forgot all about ordering the birthday cake 😯
My day dreams of acting the ‘perfect hostess’ were getting shattered. Neither could I ask H for help nor was in a state to think for a solution. If at least I hadn’t proudly announced the ‘traditional’ thing to the guests, I could have arranged for samosas and cold drinks for the party. But now, I felt impulsive to keep up my theme. I sat quietly for a while and knew I had to quickly decide upon something now. I hunted Google for nearby traditional food outlets. I found a couple of places where I could get all the items in my list except the modak. It was 4 pm and I had to hurry getting ready to leave for the food shopping. After 15 minutes of waiting under scorching heat, an autowalla came to my rescue. When I reached the first place, I was almost dead to hear that kuzhi paniyaram wouldn’t be served until 5 pm. I had to wait, drenched in anxiety, while already one of the guests called to confirm the landmark. I wanted to act as though I never invited them and even worse, redirect them with wrong landmarks 😆
Without wasting time, I went to the other outlet where things went fairly well except for a petty quarrel for the long wait. When I returned back to the first at 5, I could no longer bear the blow that kuzhi paniyaram will get delayed by another half an hour. I somehow gathered courage to argue for a home delivery for extra bucks. In between, I had to rush to two ATMs as half of them in the city would be out-of-order all the time. And get the cake ready! Phew! Finally, I managed to be back home by 6 pm with the pirated stuff, exactly when I still had ten minutes for the first guest to arrive. And that was enough to clear things and make our place presentable. But wait! When the guy with the kuzhi paniyaram would arrive, it would be a pull down for my dignity and capability in front of the guests, isn’t it? Yeah, I had one last thing to fix up now.
Two of the families had arrived. I had served them jigarthanda and already begun my ‘perfect hostess’ enacting. That’s when the kuzhipaniyaram guy called me for the route. I let the little boy entertain them and quietly sneaked to my room which opens to a balcony. The guy would have to park his vehicle exactly under the balcony area. Before he could reach, I had to arrange for something that I can throw from the balcony to collect the stuff. I managed to find an old basket with torn handles. I was sure I didn’t have a rope in the room and thoughtfully used a dupatta to tie to the basket. Exactly when his bike stopped, I had let my basket down. At the same time, he called me to ask the door no (though by now, I’ve already told him 5 times). I said, “Just drop it in the basket in front of you.” He gave a strange look but for the smooth fixing up of everything now, I didn’t feel bad at all 😀
All is well that ends well! Thus the party went fabulous, shading in totality, its stormy preparation and of course, I was bestowed the ‘perfect hostess’ title 😆
It all seems funny today. But it was one of the terrible situations I’ve faced.
Recently, while we had kuzhi paniyaram at a restaurant, I recollected my food fix experience and that was when H enlightened me about a food ordering app called TinyOwl. Man! How I wish it was launched before H’s birthday.
I’ve ordered food through TinyOwl a few times now. Here’s how TinyOwl could have secretly helped my food fix. A tryst I wish had happened 😦
I need not have wasted time in ransacking Google.
TinyOwl is a mobile-based food ordering app that lists nearby restaurants with dishes available. The app detects the place automatically. If it doesn’t, one can manually key-in the location. For example: Koramangala 5th Block, Bangalore. Here comes a list of nearby restaurants. Additional information such as the location of the restaurant, the kind of food available, minimum order amount, time for delivery and user rating are also available.
I could have directly searched for the dishes I wanted
One can also opt to see a list of the best dishes available or any specific dish, instead of restaurants from the the drop down menu on the top. When I heard about the app, I had a prejudice that it would focus only on exotic dishes. But the fact is, it offers varieties of anything that you want to eat; of course, it depends on the place you live.
Ordering food via TinyOwl couldn’t have been made any simple. Items of our choice need to be selected. The total order amount will be displayed at the bottom of the order page.
At checkout, contact details and delivery address need to be entered. First time users will be sent a verification code via SMS.
TinyOwl lets one make payment through card, cash, net banking or TinyOwl wallet, depending on what mode of payment the chosen restaurant accepts.
Once the order is confirmed, the app lets one track the order in real-time. And that’s it. I could have merrily sat back at home, waiting for the items at my doorstep and gained the ‘perfect hostess’ title with just a few clicks 😦
Most of all, I need not have panicked.
Here’s a little more info on TinyOwl based on my experience:
- From downloading to ordering, everything about the app is simple. There was never a thing I felt clueless about where to find. I would rate 5/5 for user-friendliness. You can download TinyOwl app through the Android and iOS links.
- I liked the fact that wide options for payment was available.
- Delivery was as promised. The best factor that made me try for the second time!
- For the first order, I got Rs. 150 cash back credited to my TinyOwl Money. Apart from this, there are additional promo offers every now and then like ‘Order 2 Biryani, Pay for 1’, Uber ride discount etc. They do make the orders worthy. For your information: At the time of payment, enter the promo code and avail the offers. Some offers could be specifically for a certain mode of payment like net banking. All first orders through the app can avail a 100% cash back (a maximum of Rs.150), credited to TinyOwl Money.
- TinyOwl has additional delights to users. There is a cash back offer for inviting friends to use the app.
- Another relief was that the app saves our contact details. That means I need not type it every time I make an order.
- A big thanks to TinyOwl for not spamming my inbox and SMS folders 🙂 I hate this with the other apps.
- TinyOwl isn’t hassle-free. However, I experienced excellent service from their team. During my first order, the dishes I had chosen was not available with the restaurant. In no time, I received a call from TinyOwl, apologizing for the unavailability and gave me options for other items available. I was glad that I wasn’t made to waste time for long to know the fact.
- The second time, because of a network problem, money from my bank account got debited twice. I sent a message to the Email ID provided and their quick response and payment reversal was appreciable.
- If there’s something I would like the app to add more, it is a customer service number. Not that I specifically wanted to inquire about something during my order but I think it can make the app perfect.
If you’ve used TinyOwl app, please leave your feedback below, I would like to hear. If you want additional information about the app experience, do ask me. I shall help you with what I know.