Many of you have asked me about the man behind-the-scenes of Manjula’s Kitchen…Well as many of you know, that person is my husband Sikander aka Alex. Alex is responsible for me being in the spotlight of Manjula’s Kitchen, while he prefers to stay in the background. The simple truth is my YouTube channel exists only because of his hard work and dedication. He introduced me to this new concept for me at the time, YouTube. Alex takes the lead on all of the hard work these videos take, from the editing to ensuring the recipes meet his quality control (i.e. taste testing!) Every recipe has to meet Alex’s high standards for being posted. Alex feels so proud when reading the comments on my posts and always tells me that he is my biggest fan. With a huge smile on his face, he will tell me your fans don’t know that the biggest fan of yours is standing right next to you!
Alex and I have spent over 50 memorable years together and of course with that comes ups and downs. Sometimes it feels like Alex and I still don’t know everything about each other, and I think that is a good thing! We still love to learn new things about each other. Every day is unique with different challenges. During another lifetime, we ran a business together. For 20 years, we worked in an office together, sitting side by side. It was nice that we got to spend so much quality time together. Now as we enter our golden years, we still enjoy working together, even though we are partially retired. We both work from home and can still enjoy sitting side by side! I cherish the fact that we are never alone.
Our marriage was an arranged marriage. In today’s times, I recognize that it sounds really outdated. However, ours was an arranged marriage with a happy ending. Alex was my father’s choice. At their first meeting, my father was extremely impressed with him. They first met Alex for about an hour, but it felt like they knew him for a lifetime. My father described him to me with great detail. I was amazed my father could pick up so much on someone he just met! What stuck with me is my father finished by emphasizing that Alex would love and respect me and that because we shared the same values I would be proud of the person I was when with him.
My father invited Alex and his family for afternoon tea so that I could meet him myself. I was so curious to see what my father had seen in Alex. I knew that Alex had already decided to marry me and told his father that he was already in love with me. Alex had been working abroad in the U.S. and at this time and was in India visiting his family and to get married. We had just one month before he had to go back to the U.S. for his work. It happened so quickly. We got married within the week. It was at that point it hit me. I would have to move to the U.S. too. My mother was not happy with this situation and was upset at my father. Of course, she didn’t want her daughter to move so far away. I was very confused, but I knew my father he will not take such a big step unless he was sure it was absolutely the right decision.
We got married and moved to the U.S. and settled into a brand new way of life. It took some time to get used to a new country, a new language, and most importantly new food. But it was a life we enjoyed discovering together. When my parents visited us in the U.S. the first time, my mother and Alex spent a lot of time together. The immediately formed a great bond, becoming best friends. My parents noticed just how much Alex cared for me and how happy we were together. They would say Alex would light up when I was near him.
Alex really enjoys pampering me. The gestures were small, but with great care. Alex happily makes me the best cups of hot tea and always with a smile. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I made tea for myself. He always makes sure I take care of myself, leaving my daily vitamins/medicines and water on the kitchen table to make sure I don’t forget. Then there are those times he can sense I need a break and I will see a fresh hot grilled cheese sandwich waiting for me. Everyone (especially our grandkids!) in our family has decided that Alex makes the “world’s best” tea and grilled cheese sandwiches.
Of course, we have our share of disagreements and arguments, as every couple does. Alex is not one to say sorry very easily so most of the time I’ll give in and say sorry. The next day I will see a beautiful bouquet of colorful flowers waiting for me and all is well again. I suppose that is how a good marriage works – you know when to give in. I can say with confidence that my father chose correctly for me and I married a man who truly takes care of me. We’ve made a good life for ourselves, with our two sons and their lovely families. More on them later… Stay safe & healthy everyone!
I did not like tomatoes as a child. My mom grew tomatoes in our garden and I always turned up my nose at them. What a missed opportunity to enjoy something so delicious! As an adult with my own garden, I was excited to grow a big harvest this summer. Unfortunately, both tomato plants died before they produced any fruit! If you’re lucky enough to have a homegrown bounty of fresh tomatoes still warm from the summer sun, I beg you to make this marinated tomato and avocado salad.
In fact, I beg you to make this marinated tomato and avocado salad even if you don’t have a vegetable garden. That is, unless you’ve discovered this recipe in the dead of winter and all you can find are bland greenhouse tomatoes. In that case, bookmark this page and come back in summer when tomatoes have the absolute best flavor. I used pearl tomatoes on the vine for this recipe because they’re the perfect bite size when sliced into quarters. Feel free to use whatever tomatoes you have on hand!
This marinated tomato and avocado salad is a fantastic summer recipe whether you’re barbecuing at home or headed out for a picnic. The tomatoes can chill in the fridge while you prep the rest of your feast, making this a really simple recipe to prepare if you’re in charge of multiple dishes. Dice and add the avocado just before serving for the best results.
While incredibly fresh and delicious on its own, there are many ways you can bulk up this marinated tomato and avocado salad if you need to feed a crowd. Try adding cooked quinoa, couscous, or farro. Or, turn it into a pasta salad by adding cooked and cooled shells or penne. I have big plans to spread this salad on crusty bread for a bruschetta-inspired appetizer.
1 or 2 ripe avocados, diced (depending on your preference and the size of your avocados)
⅓ cup cilantro, chopped
Quarter the pearl tomatoes and place them in a large bowl. Peel the red onion and cut it in half from tip to root. Place the flat part of the onion on your cutting board and carefully slice it into thin half moons. Add the onion to the bowl with the tomatoes.
Combine the chopped garlic, lime juice, olive oil, agave, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl and stir to combine. The marinade should be salty, tangy, and just a tad sweet – adjust the ingredients until balanced.
Pour the marinade over the sliced tomatoes and onion and gently toss to coat. Marinate the tomatoes in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Just before serving, drain any excess liquid from the tomatoes. Tip: if you’re serving this salad with cooked quinoa, couscous, or pasta, reserve the marinade for extra dressing. Transfer the marinated tomatoes and onions to a serving platter and add the diced avocado. Top with chopped cilantro and serve fresh.