Vegetarian Pho

This month has been eventful, to say the least. I know I say this every month but this was special. There were specific events this month that made the month so unique. To begin with, I got promoted to a manager at my full-time job! I now run a tiny team and lead the digital marketing wing of a PR and Marketing startup. This genuinely feels great— not the fact that it is a promotion but the fact that my work has been noticed and there is someone out there who believes that I can be decision-maker after working in the industry for just under 23 months seems like the best achievement ever. A kind achievement that I have only when I did well in academics (which, to be honest, was rare even in then). I was notified of the promotion in June and took up the new role in July and while I have been managing people since April, the weight of my role only seemed to set in this month. I focused a lot more on feedback, giving up portions of my work to others, and spending many more hours in the office since all the work I could start would only happen after my team left for the day. This month also started a new tradition in my life— falling asleep in my work clothes with the lights on, and waking up at 3 am to finally change only to wake up again at 6. While I love my sleep (lie) I do love my current role (truth).

The other events this week have been fun too. We celebrated Besan’s (my Rottweiler puppy) first birthday! Mom was travelling but dad and brought the celebration in with a little party. I made this peach cobbler with a vanilla bean whipped cream. And yes, we know that giving a dog sweets is not the best thing, I dare you to look into those doggo eyes and say no! On a relationship life front, I do think something great is brewing as well (about time! Its been 4 freaking years since my last relationship) but we shall see as we go. This month has been all-consuming and while I know I will be writing more about the cobbler and the relationship, I do want to talk just a little bit more about my full-time job because more than anything, that has been the most time-intensive.

While at home, I am very disorganised at work I am a whole different person. I track my time well, make plans in a jiffy and stick to them as much as I can. This means doing reviews in a timely fashion, working with different stakeholders at the same time and setting hard timelines for all my expectations— something that college taught me well and my first boss appreciated. This enabled me to transfer this work culture to this new role as well. However, the big chink in the chain came in when I became responsible for managing other people’s times. This means not only expecting work from people but ensuring the work comes in the standard and presentation that I have been providing for all this while. This became a big challenge. It takes time for people to get used a system that at once took you time to get used to as well. But seeing that it has been 18 months since I felt comfortable in the work I was doing, it seems unfair for me to expect the same from 22 year olds in less than 3 months. While struggling on accepting work that may not be the standard of work that I would like to show my boss, I found refuge in an interesting articles in the Smarter Living section of the New York Times about how work is never going to be perfect, but getting it done is the bigger achievement in the grand scheme of things. They divulge into the explanation of this by classifying people between “maximizers” and “satisficers.” The former are people who go the extra mile to get things done in a particular way— whether that is a mandated expectation or something that they can be proud of, while the former use less time and just get something on paper. The kicker was finding out that according to research, satisficers are on average a lot more satisfied by their work than maximizers. Which just means that, for the most part, there is no need to agonise over the minutia of things. This reading helped me with how I allocate work and how anal I want to be with reviews.

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I took this article to not only my job but to also how I plan my meals. Ever since I made my first pho back in 2017 for the blog, I have always wanted to come back and make some more— this time a lot closer to the Vietnamese staple with a pork shoulder and a bone broth that takes eons to make but that dense umami flavour just seems to be unmatched. However, this article changed some of that maximizer in me. It made me question “why make something that will take me a week to get all the ingredients when all I want is some yummy hot soup?” I ditched the bone broth and made one with veggie scraps and a cheesecloth full of aromatic spices— I made a veggie broth. It doesn’t have the depth and that grittiness that a fatty bone broth would but the satisfier in me is very pleased.

Glimpses from the week


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Serves: 2 300 ml bowls


450 ml of water

Stalks of 10 mushrooms

1 stalk of lemongrass

10 mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 medium-sized bok choy, coarsely chopped

2 large red onions

1 full head of garlic sliced in half

3 inches of ginger

1 tablespoon of fish sauce

1 tablespoon of brown sugar

1 tablespoon of veggie oil

200 grams of flat rice noodles

Spices (choose what you like the best)

15-30 dried juniper berries

2 black cardamoms

3-4 star anise

2 cloves

a pinch of fennel seeds


  1. On an open flame, place onions and ginger and roast the tops of the veggies to get an even char all across

  2. In a saucepan filled with water, place on medium-high heat. Add veggies and wrap the spices in a little cheesecloth baggie. Bring to a boil, about 10 minutes

  3. Reduce heat to low, add brown sugar and fish sauce and let boil for another 30 minutes.

  4. Pull out the spice pouch and strain the broth into a bowl

  5. In a saucepan on medium heat, add oil and begin toasting your spices: juniper seeds, fennel, cloves, and whole pepper. Add mushrooms cook down for 2 minutes and then add bok choy and let it wilt. Once wilted, add broth. Heat and serve.

  6. Serve in a bowl with a bed of flat rice noodles and top with spicy sambal, peanuts, and a wedge of lemon.