Pasta Alla Vodka

I took five days off and spent a majority of that time at a music fest in Pune which has been my third trip in the past 30 days. Honestly, if this is what adulting in your twenties looks like, I’m totally down! I love traveling, sitting alone in airports with shit wifi, and on planes with none at all. Music, a good book, or writing a blog are honestly things I love doing and a plane allows for undivided attention to such activities. Since I have repatriated, I found myself having lesser time for myself - moments of pure solitude where I was able to do one activity at once, completely alone. Being an only child of hard working parents who always chose to find homes inconveniently far away from their places of work meant that I had plenty of alone time growing up. Time to decompress, watch TV, read a book, do homework — all the things a kid loves to do, that really doesn’t involve active accompaniment. Activities such as these made me independent and conditioned to be happy alone. 

This helped a lot in college where I was able to make friends but found nooks of social refuge which allowed me to choose who I saw and easily switch off from others, if needed. Almost like a reverse panopticon, these nooks were strategically placed around campus. Some of my favorites were the study desks along the sides of the library on the fifth floor, the biology labs, and my apartment which was shared with 3 other introverts all of whom used it as their social refuges at specific times throughout the day. 

Moving back and living in a house filled with people and a city packed to the brim with pure noise made it harder for me to find refuge. The first few months were spent finding locations and the following months were used to beta test for viability, access, and ability to recharge spent social capital. I’m happy to declare that after thorough testing, I now have three such spots all of which are frequented and are usually the places where these blogs are composed. My most recent favorite time alone was my birthday. Story time: I recently turned 23 on the 29th of January. This was also the first birthday that I was home for in the past five years. This meant that it would be spent with family (also read what I made for my birthday here. And yes, it was amazing.), which to be honest was the only way I wanted to spend it. The 29th was also a Monday so we celebrated the birthday on Sunday and I elected to travel to Mumbai on my actual birthday to pitch for some new business. 

January's mornings in Delhi are filled with fog, traffic, and beautiful sunshine that sieves through the overcast sky making it perfect for narcissistic selfies. It's also all the right reagents needed for flight delays. So my 9 am flight only took off at 11:30 am, thanks to a backlog of 43 planes ahead of us. While it mildly stressed me out, I was heading for a meeting at 2pm which still seemed doable. Little did I know that as I switch from airplane mode, I would be introduced to an email saying “meeting cancelled”. Now, if this were any other day, I would have been pissed. But it was my birthday and for some reason, I took this as an opportunity. A unique adventure on a mildly unique, albeit repetitive day. I drove to marine drive, had lunch at Sassy Spoon (which was around the time, my boss’ boss messages me to go get drinks and enjoy my day). I ended up going and meeting the potential client just to show initiative and milk in our “commitment to our clients”. A quick coffee with a colleague after and I was sitting on the ledge looking at the sun setting over the Arabian Sea with a vada pav in my hand. Those 45 minutes that I spent on the Queen’s Necklace were amazing. My phone was on snooze and all I did was look around. See the people around me, take in the smog free air, and smile cherishing the journey I have had and excited for what another circle around the sun would have in store for me. 

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I love solitude. It was solitude that taught me how to cook. It was solitude that helped me write. It’s still solitude in which I shine (and rhyme!). That being said, fellow job employers, I work well in a team too! I know this has been long and most of you come here for the recipe, so here’s an easy one. Great for a singular quick meal between classes or when you literally don’t have the time to actually chop or dice anything but need something substantial. This pasta alla vodka is made with things all of you should have at home. If you don’t, stock up! The dish uses a tomato paste that gets cooked in some neutral vodka that helps reduce the acidity of the tomatoes and brings the flavors of smoked bacon to the forefront of your mouth. The only change I made is to use spaghetti instead of penne and that's because I find that spaghetti sticks lesser to the sauce which makes the dish less heavier when you have a creamy, fatty sauce such as this one. A genuinely easy recipe made for people on the fence of actual cooking— I am talking to you people who DM me telling me they will try making my recipes soon!

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Preparation

Ingredients

350g dried penne

25g  butter

125g pancetta or bacon bits or 2 slices cooked ham, chopped

4 tablespoon vodka

200ml double cream

3 tablespoons tomato purée

A small handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

Method

Step 1 

Cook the pasta in a large saucepan according to the instructions on the packet. Retain the starchy water the pasta is cooked. 

Step 2

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the bacon and fry for 3–5 minutes until golden.

Step 3

Add the vodka and allow to simmer for a minute before adding the cream, tomato purée and parsley. Simmer gently for 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Step 4 

When the pasta is cooked, drain and add it to the sauce and mix through. Add reserved water if the pasta is too dry. Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.