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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Alu Papdi Chaat

During my initial years of engineering, our college functioned out of a leased premises. Other than a canteen that served bad meals but great tasting bread pakoras, there was nothing to munch on during the short breaks. And then, all of a sudden, this guy selling Papdi chaat perched himself near the gates at a predetermined time every day. Though he dished out a rather frugal version of the Papdi chaat that was sans any 'dahi' or chutney, it tasted awesome and was eagerly gobbled by the college students. His stuff would be sold out in less than an hour's time and he would count the money before treading home. With the chaat priced at just rupees ten per plate, he hardly made fortune. But he never thought of increasing the price or buying a bigger 'thela' so that he could sell more number of plates and make more money.

Then a year later, we shifted to a new campus and forgot all about this guy. But one day when I was looking into the ever burgeoning finances of our household, I was reminded of this poor soul after many years. How did his simplistic approach towards life fare in the face of rising inflation? How many plates did he still sell and is it enough to feed his family ? Is that guy covered by the financial inclusion plans that has been rolled out by the new government and if yes, how will it help him in the long run ? Can we trade our aspirational lifestyles in favor of something more simpler without being branded as social outcasts ?  Such questions kept hounding me for days and yet I was at a loss for any convincing answer.

Since this is a very minimalist recipe that can also be consumed on 'no onion no garlic' days, one can give more bite to it by adding some boiled chickpeas/yellow peas/kala channa, chopped cucumber and tomatoes/raw mangoes. Recipe here -

Preparation Time - 30 mins

For the Papdis
  • 2/3 cup maida/ all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup atta/ whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp semolina
  • 2-3 tbsp split gram dal ( I forgot to add this)
  • 2 pinch ajwain/ carom seeds 
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • oil for deep frying

For the chaat -

  • 10 papdis
  • 1 small potato (boiled, peeled and cubed)
  • 1/4 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • black salt as per taste
  • a pinch of chaat masala
  • cilantro for garnishing

Preparation - Take the maida, atta, semolina, oil, carom seeds and salt in a mixing bowl. Mix well and then add water little by little to bring everything together into a smooth dough. Cover with a moist cloth and keep aside for 20 mins.

Knead the dough once again before dividing into 3-4 portions. Roll out each portion on a flat surface. Take a circular cookie cutter or even a sharp edged bottle lid/cap and cut out small circles. Using a fork, punch holes in the small circles to prevent them from puffing up during frying.

Heat sufficient oil in a wok. Add the papdis, a few at a time and fry them on a medium flame. Lower temperature will turn the papdis chewy while high heat will brown them too quickly leaving the insides under cooked. Adjust the flame accordingly. Remove and place them on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

Allow them to cool down completely before storing in airtight containers. Stays good for 8-10 days.

For assembling the Alu Papdi Chaat -

Layer 10 puris/papdis on a plate. Throw the cubes potatoes over them. Sprinkle chili powder, chaat masala, lemon juice, chopped cilantro and black salt. Mix in and consume immediately.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Navratan Korma ( Without Onion and Garlic )

Navratan Korma derives it name from the nine jewels of Mughal emperor Akbar's court. The dish is supposed to consist of an equal number of vegetable simmered in a sweet and mildly spiced creamy gravy. While the regular version of this recipe makes use of an onion, ginger and garlic paste, I have prepared a no onion- no garlic verison that can be consumed on 'vrat' or auspicious day too.

The have used eight vegetables and paneer along with a paste of poppy seeds, almonds and cashews for the recipe. The vegetables have been boiled in milk instead of water to add richness and sweetness to the gravy. But since milk slows down the cooking process, it is best to have the vegetables half cooked by the time milk is added. Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 1 hour

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 cup carrot (small cubes)
  • 1/2 cup capsicum (long strips)
  • 1/2 cup beans ( inch long pieces)
  • 1/2 cup potatoes ( peeled and cubed)
  • 1/2 cup baby corn ( inch long pieces)
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 200 gm paneer/cottage cheese ( long pieces)
  • 2 large tomatoes (freshly pureed)
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 cardamom 
  • 2 inch long cinnamom stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp kasuri methi
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1/3 cup raisins and broken cashews (mixed)
  • salt to taste
  • 3 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp ghee

For the paste -

  • 2 tsp poppy seeds
  • 12 cashews
  • 4-6 almonds

Preparation - Soak the poppy seeds, cashews and almonds in a cup of hot water for 1-2 hours. Drain the excess water and peel the almonds before grinding everything into a smooth paste.

Cooking - Heat the ghee and oil in a wok. Add the whole spices followed by the chili, turmeric, coriander and garam masala powders. Roast for 10 seconds before adding the tomato puree. Cook everything till oil separates from the tomato paste.

Then add all the chopped vegetables and stir fry them till half cooked. Alternately cover with a lid for faster cooking.

Add the poppy seeds and nuts paste to the wok along with a little milk. Mix in. Add the rest of the milk, cashews and raisins. Adjust salt and allow the curry to simmer till the vegetables are completely cooked.

Add the paneer cubes, kasuri methi ( rub it lightly between palms before adding ) and honey. Simmer for 2 minutes before removing from the flame.

Garnish with coriander leaves before serving hot. Goes best with all Indian flat breads and mildly spiced rice dishes.

Monday, February 23, 2015

HiFi in Bollywood - Rishi Vohra (Book Review)

Now I have to say that this is 'hatke' (slightly different) book than the types that I usually read. The protagonist Rayhan is a guy who is besotted with Bollywood and dreams to making it big . His father on the other hand is a guy who thinks that a respectable career in finance and a future in America is what his son should be looking at. In purely filmy style, Rayhan lands up in Mumbai without the knowledge of his father. And needless to say the incidents that follow have a very filmy flavor to them. Right upto the climax. Yes, this book is an ode to the Hindi Film Industry and the millions of dreams that it has inspired.

Along with our hero who is a guy with a Finance degree, we have a small time goon who aspires to be the first Catholic villain and a dark skinned girl who wants to become a heroine. It speaks volumes about the lure of celluloid which spares no segment of society.

Throughout the book, the Hindi film industry is refered as 'HiFi' instead of Bollywood which is a welcome relief given the Tollywood, Sandalwood, Ollywood type crappy names that it has spawned. The author has covered a lot of aspects of the film industry like having the importance of having the right contacts, the egos of the big stars that always need assuaging, the fact that actresses have a limited shelf life and the general insecurities that folks from the industry possess. Darker aspects like the casting couch and drug abuse also get a mention. It also gives a detailed insight into the work environment on the sets and the amount of hard work that is put in by everyone who work behind the scenes.

This book is a lighthearted read that should be picked by all Bollywood fans. Or even those who want a quick insight into the ways of this industry.

[And no I would not compare Rishi Vohra to Chetan Bhagat as I never think of comparing the latter to Paulo Coelho and Khaled Hosseini. It is just like people do not compare a Rohit Shetty movie with a Sanjay Leela Bhansali one. Take a chill pill and enjoy the diversity.]

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Baby Corn Masala

With baby corn becoming popular in India sometime during the early twentieth century, another popular vegetarian dish captured the imagination of restaurant owners and their patrons alike. The Baby corn masala or Baby corn butter masala became part of the menu and has remained a popular choice ever since. The natural sweetness of the baby corn is accentuated and complimemted by a lightly sweet and rich gravy which has just the right amount of tang in it !!

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 40-45 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 1/2 cup baby corn ( chopped into centimeter long pieces )
  • 1/2 cup capsicum (cut into strips)
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chili powder ( I used the regular one so made it 1/2 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/5 tsp turmeric
  • 1/5 tsp garam masala
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp Kasuri methi
  • 1 1/2 tsp honey 
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • salt to taste

For the gravy

  • 1 medium onion ( chopped into chunks)
  • 1 large tomato ( chopped into chunks )
  • 5-6 garlic cloves
  • 1 inch ginger (roughly chopped)
  • 1 1/2 tsp oil
  • a pinch of salt

Preparation - Heat a frying pan . Add the oil and thrown in the onions first and fry for 2 mins. Then add tomatoes, ginger and garlic. Fry for 4-5 mins and remove from the flame.

Allow to cool down a bit before making into a smooth paste.

Cooking - Heat the butter in a wok. Add the finely chopped onion and fry till translucent.

Add the chili powder, turmeric, coriander powder and garam masala. Roast for 10 seconds and then add the above paste. Fry for 2-3 mins before adding the baby corn. Sprinkle a little salt and cover with a lid. When the baby corn is half done, add the milk and bring it to a boil. Simmer till the baby corn is almost done.

Add the capsicum strips, kasuri methi and honey at this stage and allow to cook for 3-4 mins. Remove from the flame.

Garnish with a dollop of butter and chopped cilantro and serve hot. Goes best with Indian flat breads or a simple rice dish.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dahi Kadhi/Kadhi Pakoda

Kadhi Chawal is a very popular North Indian meal. Immensely soothing and low on effort, it qualifies as comfort food on almost every level. Another good thing is that there are quite a many variations possible with it. I usually stick to a simple kadhi base (without any onions and garlic) while I keep changing the addons. Sometimes I go for the usual pakodas and at times tinge them with some greens ( palak/methi) . If I am in the mood for veggies, I fry some okra or eggplant or even tomatoes and add to the kadhi. And at my laziest best, a simply prepare the kadhi and put some store bought boondi (Haldiram's) in it !! Simple yet delicious :) .

This is the regular version of Kadhi Pakoda. Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients -

For the Kadhi -
  • 1 cup dahi
  • 2 tsp Fortune besan ( I insist on this brand as it is best I have tried )
  • 1/2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1-2 finely chopped green chili
  • 21/2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • a pinch garam masala (optional)
  • salt to taste
For the Tempering -
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 2 dry red chili
  • a sprig of curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • a pinch of fenugreek seeds
  • a pinch of cumin seeds
  • 2 pinch asafoetida

For the Pakoda -
  • 1/2 cup Fortune besan
  • 1 medium sized onion cut into thin long pieces
  • 2 tsp chopped coriander leaves
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp jeera powder
  • a pinch of garam masala
  • a pinch of amchur
  • pinch of baking powder
  • water to make a thick paste
  • oil for deep frying

Preparation -
For the kadhi - Take the curd in a mixing bowl. Beat it lightly  to break any lumps. Add everything else and mix well.

For the pakoda - Take all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and add water little by little to make a thick batter/paste.

Cooking - Heat sufficient oil in a wok for deep frying. Add spoonfuls of the pakoda mixture and fry till golden brown. Remove and keep aside on paper towels.

Bring the kadhi mixture to boil in a separate wok.

Heat 2 tsp oil in a tadka pan. Add broken/whole red chili, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves. When it starts spluttering, add it to the kadhi and boil for 15 mins on low flame. Finally add the pakodas and switch off the flame.

Serve immediately with steamed rice.

Note - The pakodas remain crispy when added at the end but if you want them to soak up some of the kadhi, add them 5 mins before switching off the flame or let it sit for a couple of minutes before serving.

Bedtime is Bonding time with my Baby !!

Babies are cute. At least for folks who have encountered them only in telly advertisements and maybe sometimes in the parks/malls. But for those who have had a chance to see them up, close and personal, it takes almost a miracle (or sometimes a miraculous product) to keep them at their happiest best. And being a mom to a hyperactive three year old, I can vouch for such a product that I have used ever since he was a week old. And I still use it when we are travelling long distance or going over to a friend's place as I am a bit skeptical about my young one using a toilet outside our home.

My baby did not sleep for the first few nights after he was born. He would fall into a fitful sleep only to be awakened by the wetness of the cloth nappy. After 2-3 hours of howling and a few dozen lullabies, he would doze again for roughly the same time before waking up yet again. And then I discovered Pampers and its miraculous effects on my baby thanks to a dear friend. I can never thank her enough as it helpful put some kind of order into the madness that had suddenly gripped our world. With all babies being different, some may argue that diapers may irritate a baby's tender skin or that a little bit of wetness would not hurt a baby. But with Pampers, I have never faced any such problems. The cloth like breathable diapers are infused with Aloe vera and have very soft adjustable waist bands. And I would never take a chance with wetness especially in a place like Bangalore which has a cool climate almost around the year.

Once I started putting my baby in diapers, it was easy to embark on a night time routine to get him to sleep peacefully. Till he turned one year old, I would start this ritual by giving him an oil massage for 20-30 minutes. With his tiny muscles all relaxed, I would give him a quick bath. After drying his skin and hair, I used to rub a gentle baby lotion all over. This would be followed by sprinkling baby powder especially on his bottom and skin folds. Finally I would put on his diaper and a set of loose cotton clothing. By this time, he usually started to yawn and nod/rub his head ( a signal that he is sleepy ). Once he was settled in the bed, he would fall asleep even before I completed the third lullaby. And he would wake up all refreshed and smiling after a good 9-10 hours sleep.

When he entered the second year, I substituted rhymes for the lullabies during his bedtime. And after another six months, the lullabies got replaced by stories which had animals, birds and even people in them. As he completed two years, I introduced him to picture books which had him hooked. With kids having too much energy, it is difficult to get them to concentrate when they are fully active. Hence, with this ritual I get him to relax and learn something new at the same time. No wonder he sleeps blissfully and dreams of the objects that he had come in the stories or books that I told or read to him.

This post is written for Pampers.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

5 Things to do before I die !!

Life is all about bigger goals interspersed with smaller moments of joy that add spice to an otherwise mundane existence. Everyone dreams of things like owning a house, buying that swanky car, sending the kids to a big school/university, taking a world tour and yet having a large enough corpus for retirement. Yes, I am no different from such folks and there are the things in my Bucket List (in no particular order though) -

1. Owning an independent house /villa with a small patch of garden. With most apartments offering tightly crunched flats with hardly any sunlight or ventilation, some good old fresh air is what I always crave for. And a nice little patch of soil to plant those fresh herbs and vegetable plants. Imagine the joy of plucking the fresh produce and heading straight to the kitchen to rustle up a colorful and healthy meal. Also, it should be located near to our respective offices so that we have ample time to appreciate and enjoy our home instead of wasting it in commuting

2. A date with those adorable kangaroos and penguins comes next on my list. With Australia offering so much, I want to take a really long vacation and savor every bit of it. The awesome food, the beaches and the vast oceans, the lovely streets to be explored and of course a lot of shopping that goes with it .

3. Like every parent, I too have big dreams for my kid. While I would love to see him playing tennis at the international level, I would do every bit to allow him to make his own career choices. And choosing the right school is the first step. An international school with a curriculum that excels in introducing children to activities and interests beyond studies is what I have in mind. Such schools offer the flexibility for a child to nurture various talents instead of simply cramming up on the written word. Plus I would love to take him on a vacation to Disneyland while he is still young so that he can enjoy the pure fantasy of it.

4. Buying a set of wheels that would make all my friends and relatives go green with envy. Whenever I looked at names like BMW, Audi and Mercedes, I always associated them with success. Whether it is the success factor that gives it that exclusive feel or the other way around with people using the exclusivity card to make themselves seem more successful has always been debatable in my opinion. But this argument notwithstanding, I would still like to own one of these names.

5. Writing my book and having enough funds to publish and promote it. Yes, finding that first break as a writer is tough and one needs to put in the right amount of investment to ensure that it reaches the targeted audience. Of course quality matters most but in this age of self promotion, one needs sufficient funds to open the right channels.

All this is possible with correct financial planning and the right amount of investment. And IDBI Federal provides just the right plans for me to live life to the fullest while staying secure.

This post is written for IDBI Federal Life Insurance.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

An Incredible Valentine !!

A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others. -           Frank Morgan 

And unconditional love is the best thing (though not the only thing) that I would want from my Valentine. Yes, that is what the ASUS Zenfone gives me. Many would find it incredible that a phone can actually display what has traditionally been considered as a human quality. But isn't love all about feeling great or even awesome about oneself ?? And more importantly, it lets one be oneself without making one take a guilt trip. Read on to find the reasons why this phone is the perfect Valentine -

1. It makes me feel beautiful. Thanks to the 5 MP camera ( with comes with brightness enhancing lenses which is a first at this price ) that captures me in all my moods on any given occasion, I have all the arsenal required for a little self gratification. No wonder all my girlfriends keep wondering why my pictures turn out better than theirs'. 

2. It keeps me entertained all the time. It answers all my queries, keeps me updated on the latest happenings, plays out my favorite songs and even my favorite videos. The 64 GB (expandable) memory takes care that I do not run out of memory as I carry my personal entertainment channel with me wherever I go. 

3. It is dependable. Unlike boyfriends who have cricket matches / football matches, booze buddies and what not buddies, it provides me unconditional company. All the care that it has ever asked for is a little bit of charging and it is good to go for hours and hours. Also, it does not come with a disapproving mother who is always on the lookout for opportunities to tick me off for getting close to her son.

4. It has that 'flaunt' factor with looks to die for. Don't we all wish for that dishy hunk/gorgeous chick as a trophy boyfriend/girlfriend to make others turn green with envy ?? Well, this phone scores a perfect ten on that criteria. Especially for girls, do check out the lovely red one !!

5. It knows when to shut up without any protests. Yes, we girls have our moods and we just want to play reclusive for sometime. It could be a tiff with someone close or maybe those exam scores that are nothing to write home about or even without any tangible reason. It happens to all of us and we are entitled to those quite moments. Unlike a person, a phone can be set on a silent mode anytime and for as long as one wishes. 

Still looking for more reasons ??

6. It ensures that I get to catch my favorite flicks at my favorite multiplex. That too first day first show. And makes sure that my travel plans are right on schedule with a reserved train/bus/flight ticket booked from the comfort of my sofa.

7. It is cheaper than the combined cost of a Valentine's day dinner, gifts, roses and a card. Yes...that one's a clincher.

This post is written for ASUS Zenfone. To buy it, click here . Meanwhile check out the lovely video !!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Angoori Rabdi (And a Happy Valentine's Day!!)

'Angoori Rabdi' or 'chenna'/ricotta cheese' balls soaked in flavored thickened milk can be called as a distant cousin of the Bengali dish 'Rasmalai'.  However it is made richer by the addition of almonds, kesar and pista. Though it takes time to prepare the chenna and reduce the milk,  this is one dish which can truly qualify as a labor of love !!

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 1 hour

Ingredients -

  • 2 litres whole milk
  • 3-4 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp maida /all purpose flour
  • 4-5 tbsp chopped almonds
  • 3-4 tbsp pista
  • 1/2 tsp gulkand
  • 1-2 pandan leaves / kewda
  • 2 cups sugar + 3 tbsp
  • 3 tbsp condensed milk
  • 2 pinch saffon strands
  • 2 pinch cardamom powder

Preparation - Bring half of the milk to boil in a saucepan. Do not let it boil for more than 4-5 mins.

Dilute the vinegar with equal amount of water and add to the milk. This should be sufficient to separate the cheena from the green colored water. However if the water still looks milky, add some some water-vinegar mix. Once all the chenna is separated, add a few ice cubes and 2-3 cup water to the saucepan. This prevents the chenna from cooking further.

Strain all the chenna and wash it under running water to remove any traces of vinegar. Gather it in a piece of cheesecloth/muslin and hang for 20-30 mins to remove excess water.

Transfer to a plate. Knead it with the heel of your palms for 10 mins to get a uniform mixture. Add the maida at this stage and knead for another 5-6 mins.

Divide into 25-30 lumps and shape each into a smooth ball with no visible cracks on the surface.

Add the 2 cups sugar along with 5 cups water to a pressure cooker. Let it boil for 5 mins before adding the chenna balls. Close the lid and cook for 25-30 mins. Remove from the flame and allow to cool down to room temperature.

Boil the remaining milk along with the pandan leaves in a wok till it reduces to half. Add the sugar, saffron, cardamom powder, condensed milk and half of the dry fruits. Simmer for 2-3 mins before adding the chenna balls (squeeze them with light fingers to remove excess sugar solution before adding to the rabdi) and the Gulkand. Switch off the flame.

Allow to cool down before putting into the refrigerator. Garnish with a few strands of saffron, rose petals and more chopped cashews/almonds.

Serve chilled.

Click here for rasmalai recipe !!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Puddina ( Maltese Bread Pudding )

Gooey, moist and loaded with cocoa and dry fruits, this Maltese bread pudding had got a very festive  feel to it. And that is what makes it a perfect dessert for a Valentine's day dinner.

When I made this recipe, I was in a hurry. I did not have time to soak the bread and hence it could not pick enough moisture. Also I had set the timer for 45 mins and did not check in between. So, it cracked up due to loss of moisture which made for a sorry sight. Else, it turned out perfectly delicious.

Without much ado, read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 1 hour

Ingredients -

  • 1/2 of a bread loaf (thick and crusty is better)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tbsp custard powder
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup cherries
  • 1/2 cup sultanas
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 3-4 tbsp whisky/rum/sherry (optional)

Preparation - Tear up the bread into small pieces and soak them in water for 30 mins. Drain and squeeze out all the water and mash it up in a big bowl.

Add sugar, cornflour, custard powder, cocoa, cherries, sultanas, cashews, almonds, whisky/sherry and vanilla essence to the bowl (keep aside some of the cherries and dry fruits for decorating). Break the egg into the bowl. Mix up everything.

Cooking - Pre-heat an oven to 180 degrees celcius for 10 mins.

Pour the pudding mixture into a baking tray. Decorate with cherries and dry fruits.

Place in the center of the oven and bake for 34-45 mins or till a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool down.

Cut into generous pieces and serve.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mango Ginger Puliogare

Mango ginger is not a very common spice and quite a few folks would have never come across it. Belonging to the ginger family and possessing a smell that mimics mangoes, it is usually added in chutneys and some pickles too. And in Odisha, I have seen people frying it up and adding it to farsan, chat, dal, etc. I feel that it does lend a special flavour to any dish.

However when I was making Pulihora or Puliogare yesterday, I realized that I was out of the spice powder. There was no time to go to a shop or make a batch myself at home, so I made a rather simple recipe by adding mango ginger instead of any spice. Of course, I put in the usual tempering but nothing else. And my family was blown away with the result. Even my three year old loved it.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 20 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1  1/2 cup cooked rice
  • 1 1/2 tsp mango ginger
  • 1 tsp tamarind juice (adjust as per taste)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1/3 tsp mustard seeds
  • 4-5 fenugreek seeds
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • 2-3 dry red chilis (byadgi)
  • a handful of peanuts
  • 2 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • cilantro for garnishing

Preparation - Cook the rice in a regular manner (pan/pressure cooker/electric cooker). Keep aside for 5 mins.

Cooking - Heat the oil in a wok. Add the peanuts and fry for 1-2 mins. Remove and keep aside.

Add the broken red chili, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, curry leaves and asafoetida to the same wok. Fry for 30 secs.

Add the tamarind juice, 3-4 tbsp water, salt and sugar. Let it boil for 2-3 mins till it turns thick.

Add the cooked rice and mango ginger. Mix in. Cook for 2 mins.

Finally mix in the peanuts and cilantro. Remove from flame.

Serve hot !! (I served it with a brinjal raita /dahi baigana)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Which one would you buy ???

Ever known the feeling of being cheated by a loved one ?? Well...it is akin to what shopaholics feel when their favorite online retailer goes on to behave like this !! We all happen to know about the contributing factors that enables an online retailer to offer discounts on a product but selling something at a premium ??

Despite all that hooplah surrounding these online ventures and the funding that they receive, buying that first big ticket item (expensive saree/ gold or diamond jewellery/ branded watch) online is what can be called a leap of faith. Cash on Delivery/ easy returns policy are some of the factors that build consumer confidence but the greatest attraction remains that one gets the product at a lesser price.

It was yesterday that I posted an article about the biggest online watch sale on Jabong but this is what I came across today. Sharing this with you guys even if it means contradicting what I posted yesterday (the post has been deleted).

What is your pick ??


check the price printed towards the top right corner !!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Poppy encrusted Rohu Fish Fry

Was in a very relaxed mood this Sunday after a great dinner @ Village restaurant (Total Mall, Sarjapur) and did not want to ruin the mood by indulging in too much cooking. Hence decided to keep it simple with a fish fry and a simple vegetarian side along with dal-chawal. But did not want to repeat the regular style that we usually adopt while making the fish. That is when I noticed the packet of poppy seeds peeking out from the grocery bag (which was unpacked as I was feeling lazy) and decided to go for an encrusted fish fry. The mild flavours that I used in the marinade complemented the nuttiness of the poppy seeds. While I used fish slices which still had bones in them, I feel that this would taste even better with fish fillets.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 10-12 mins (plus 30-40 mins marination time)

Ingredients -

  • 4 slices of Rohu fish
  • 4 garlic flakes
  • 2 green chilis
  • 4 tbsp coriander leaves
  • 4 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 egg white 
  • 1/2 tsp corn flour
  • 2 pinch turmeric
  • 2 pinch black pepper
  • 4-5 tsp oil
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Make a paste out of the garlic, green chili and coriander leaves. Add salt and turmeric to the paste. Rub it all over the cleaned fish slices and allow to rest for 30-40 mins.

Beat the egg white with the cornflour, pepper and a little salt. 

Cooking - Heat the oil in a non stick frying pan. 

Remove the fish from the marinade and coat it with the egg wash.

Place the fish slices over the pan and drizzle the poppy seeds generously all over the pieces.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sri Lankan Egg Curry

"Why egg curry ?", asked my husband."Why not egg curry ? Eggs are wonderfully delicious and they also contain a bit of almost every nutrient that we need. And they actually help us lose weight as they are incredibly filling. Plus they  provide protection from eye disease, blood clots, strokes, heart attacks, and promotes healthy skin and hair", I replied back. Argument won, we had a comforting egg curry and white rice for lunch.

Even if I were to ignore the above health benefits, I would still go for eggs. An egg curry seems special when compared to any vegetarian fare yet it is somehow comforting than any non vegetarian preparation. For me and lots of other folks, egg do not fall into the 'strictly non vegetarian' category. And I know for sure that almost everyone enjoys a good egg curry. Here is a simple Sri Lankan style egg curry recipe that I picked up from the internet and modified it a bit . Yeah you guessed it right...it is the Peter Kuruvita effect !!!

Read on -

Preparation Time - 25 mins

Ingredients -
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 small tomato
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp Sri Lankan Curry powder
  • 1/5 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1 pandan leaf
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1 green chili
  • 3 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • cilantro for garnishing
For curry powder -
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 3 cardamon pods
  • 2-3 dry red chilis
  • Sprig of curry leaves
  • 1 1/2 inch long cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon rice
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder

Preparation - Heat a frying pan. Add all other spices (except for turmeric) mentioned under 'For curry powder' and roast till they give off their fragrance.

Remove from flame and allow to cool down. Grind into a fine powder and mix turmeric with it. Since this is more than what you need for the curry, keep the rest of it in an air-tight bottle in the fridge.

Boil the eggs for 10 mins. Immerse them in cold water for a minute, crack them and remove their shells.

Chop the onion into medium sized pieces and the tomato into smallest possible bits.

Cooking - Heat the oil in a wok. Pierce the eggs with a fork and add to the wok. Sprinkle a little salt and fry then for 3-4 mins till they turn brown on all over. Remove and keep aside.

Add the onions to the same wok and fry till translucent. Add the turmeric, chili powder and sri lankan curry powder and fry for a minute.

Add the tomatoes and cook till mushy.

Add the coconut milk along with 1/2 cup water. Throw in curry leaves, slit green chili and pandan leaf. Add salt and bring it to a boil.

Add the eggs and cover with a lid. Let it simmer for 6-7 mins.

Remove from the wok and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Serve hot with white rice.

Note - Sri Lankan egg curry is traditionally served with Idiyappam.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Eating out in Namma Bengaluru !!

There are lots of cities in India which are hailed as a foodie's paradise. However, if one looks closely, then you would find that such places only cater to a specific type of cuisine. It could be something like awesome street food, finger-licking Punjabi fare or even delectable seafood prepared in a typically South Indian style. But Bengaluru happens to be one such food destination which can be aptly described as the 'melting pot' of various food cultures which truly reflects the cosmopolitan nature of the metro. No other city in India offers the kind of multi cuisine food that one can find in almost every corner of the city.

Image courtesy: Zomato 

Whether it is the Mumbai-ya staple 'vada pao', the quintessentially South Indian 'dosa' or even the delicious melt-in-the-mouth momos, Bengaluru is a paradise for street food lovers. But if you are the kind that prefers to dine in a restaurant, do not fret as there are lots of options for places to eat in Bangalore. But in case you are in dilemma about the nearest food joint or whether you would find a table in time , there is askme to help you out.

My husband and I also prefer to visit multi-cuisine restaurants in Bangalore as they offer a wider variety and are able to cater to different taste buds. One such place that is very near to our locality is the Palki's restaurant. Situated in Bellandur, it boasts of North Indian, Chinese and even some finger-licking Biryani. One can choose whether to dine indoors or enjoy the pleasant weather while eating out in the open courtyard. For folks who love non-veg food, do try their Murgh Lasooni Tikka and Maharani Platter. And do opt for the corporate discount (20%)  if eating out with office folks.

Image courtesy :Zomato

Another favorite of ours' happens to be Absolute Barbeque which is situated in Marathahalli. Apart from being located near a major shopping hub (especially for electronics and home goods), it has an ambiance that spells relaxation. The restaurant itself is spread out over a large area and there is a lot of open space. This is the place to be if you are looking to chill out with friends and a couple of kids in tow. With the place offering a wish grill (you get to mix & match the ingredients which can be quite exotic like emu, rabbit, octopus, etc) , a live barbecue, a great main course and of course the heavenly selection of desserts, one cannot ask for more. Despite the amount of meat being served, the vegetarians would also enjoy the fare being served here. Also, look out for a lovely performance by the waiters during the evening hours.

Image : courtesy Zomato 

For more choices in multi cuisine dining, look no further than askme.com !!


Horse gram Sundal

Sundal is a popular roadside snack from South India (mainly Tamil Nadu). Boiled pulses stir fried with simple spices and garnished with fresh coconut, lemon juice and cilantro, it is high in fiber and low in calories.

And quite interestingly there are lots of variations even for such a simple recipe. Some prefer to make it with the sprouted lentils while others prefer to add grated carrots/beetroot/cucumber to it. The regular version has lots of onions (and sometimes even garlic) going into it while the one made on festive days especially 'Ganesh Chaturthi' or 'Vinayaka Chaturthi' is sans these condiments.

Click here for more horse gram recipes !!

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 20 mins

Ingredients -
  • 1 cup horse gram /kolotho/kollu
  • 1 large onion (chopped into medium sized pieces)
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 2-3 dry red chili
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • a pinch of turmeric
  • 2 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • freshly grated coconut/ finely chopped cilantro for garnishing

Preparation - Wash and soak the horse gram overnight.

Cook it with 2/3 cup water, a pinch of turmeric and salt to taste in a pressure cooker. Allow for 4-5 whistles. Remove from flame and keep aside till steam escapes.

Open the lid and strain the boiled lentils. Do not throw the water as it can be used for making rasam.

Cooking - Heat oil in a wok. Add the broken red chilis, urad dal, mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Once the urad dal starts turning a little brown, add asafoetida, curry leaves and onion. Fry till onion turns translucent.

Add the boiled lentils and stir fry for 2-3 mins. Adjust the salt if required.

Remove from the wok and garnish with fresh coconut/cilantro. Serve as a healthy afternoon snack .

Note - Add a little lemon juice and finely chopped green chili to add extra zing.  Avoid the onions when making it for Navratri or on any other fasting occasion !!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The day he remembered forever

It seemed to be just another day as I got up at 7:00 am and looked out of the window. There was a thin fog hanging around and the chirping of the birds was matched the cacophony of the vehicles as the early commuters were already on their way to office in order to avoid the rush hour traffic of Bangalore. I nudged my husband to wake up and gave him a fleeting kiss before getting out of bed. 14th February seemed no different. And one cannot expect it to be any different when you have been married for six long years.

As I picked up the newspaper, I just wished for a genie to pop out of somewhere and make the morning tea for both of us while I savor the news. And suddenly I could see two hots cups of tea right in front of me. I rubbed my eyes to make sure that I was awake and it was still there. Putting down the newspaper, I tentatively reached for one cup and took a sip. It was real and just the way we liked it. My husband ambled in and expressed his surprise when he saw that the tea was already made. I smiled back without any further exclamation. As we sat and sipped the tea, I thought of making something special for his lunchbox and wished for an encore of the magic that I had just seen. Miraculously, it happened yet again. As I walked into the kitchen with the soiled tea cups, I saw that half of my work was already done just the way I had wanted.  After all, no magic can replicate the love that one can add to a dish. I thanked the higher powers as I finally finished packing his favorite lunch of choley-bhatura and kheer.

Once he was off to office, I did a quick rethink of the small celebration that I had scheduled for the evening. Though I had already bought the gifts, I decided to make best use of this special power till it lasted. I quickly surfed through Jabong, Myntra and Watchkart to check out the great stuff on offer. Once I was done with the selection, I wished for all of it to magically appear in front of me. Though these retailers do offer home delivery on the same day for selected products, I had an early date on my mind and did not want anything going wrong.

Then I called up my husband to ask him to come home earlier than usual saying that I had a special date in mind. By 3 p.m., I was ready for the date. I had decked up in a beautiful Vero Moda sleeveless dress and a pair of golden sandals . The door bell rang as I was putting the final touches to my makeup. As I opened the door, my husband looked surprised with my makeover. Without letting him into my little secret, I gave him the gifts and asked him to change. The Tommy Hilfiger shirt looked great with the Calvin Klein jeans and the cream and brown Fossil chronograph watch was something that he had been eyeing for sometime. It was a pleasure to see him look so happy.

Without waiting any longer, I took his hand in mine and wished for us to be transported to the beaches of Goa. And the next moment we found ourselves standing on the pristine white sands with the waves dancing at our feet. I explained to my bewildered husband that I had been bestowed with special powers and I could make things come true with something as simple as making a wish. We walked on the sand for a long time discussing about the things we could do with the magical powers and then settled down as the sun disappeared on the horizon. It felt like the early years of our relationship where we could just be ourselves without any responsibilities weighing us down. Then as we started feeling hungry, I wished for a table to be set up on the beach itself and all our favorite dishes to appear on it. We chatted and ate under the stars for a very long time. But I had secretly started eyeing my watch for I had a feeling that this power would disappear at the stroke of midnight. Maybe it stemmed from my fascination for fairy tales (Cinderella to be precise) as I kind of loved them as kid but I could not shake off that feeling.

My husband had sensed the change in me. He attributed it to my being tired and asked if we should return. So, I made a final wish for us to be transported back. Only when we had reached the safety of our sweet little home, I shared my concern with him. He laughed it off saying that one does not need any special powers to attain happiness and that is something that we could always have as long as we are together. He thanked me for the special evening and said that he would remember it forever.

The next day when I woke up and wished for the tea to appear by magic, I realized that my powers were gone. But my loving husband had very sweetly woken up and made the tea for both of us.

This post has been written for Baggout's Blogging Contest on Valentine's day. Baggout provides awesome deals on Flipkart, Myntra, Jabong, Snapdeal, Amazon and 100+ online stores.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Banana Stem Cutlets (Kadali Manja Bara/Tikki/Cutlet)

How many of you were disappointed when Gautam Gulati went on to win Big Boss Season 8 while Karishma Tanna was literally left stranded ?? Yeah, even Pritam went home with a cash prize of Rs 25 lakhs. India has once again proved that it prefers sons over daughters. While it is a much debated topic that Tanna's chances were adversely affected by her relationship with Upen Patel, Gautam escaped unscathed though he had a fling with a much older Diandra. The 'maa ka beta' or Mamma's boy images worked well with the audiences while that of a much independent woman ditching her old boyfriend for a new one obviously did not click. This is one debate that could go on and on but I would very much like to hear what most of you think about it . Do share your comments on this page.

And these banana stem cutlets are the perfect snacks to munch on while discussing about this development. Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 25 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup finely chopped banana stem 
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 3-4 garlic flakes
  • 1/2 inch ginger
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/3 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 2-3 pinch turmeric
  • 2 tsp besan
  • 1/2 tsp cornflour
  • 4-5 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • coriander leaves for garnishing
  • a handful of peanuts

Cooking - Dry roast the peanuts on a pan. Remove and keep aside till they cool down. Crush them lightly t break into smaller pieces.

Heat 3 tsp oil in a wok. Add the onions, ginger and garlic. Fry till onions turn translucent.

Add the banana stem pieces along with all the spice powders. Cover with a lid and cook for 12-15 mins till it becomes soft.

Allow the mixture to cool down slightly before transferring it to a grinder jar. Give it a whizz or two.

Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the besan, cornflour and chopped coriander leaves. Mix well and then divide into 5-6 equal parts. Shape each portion into a flattened disc. Roll it gently over the crushed peanuts.

Heat a non-stick tawa and drizzle the remaining oil on it. Place the discs on the tawa and cook on both sides till tiny brown spots begin to appear.

Serve hot with some chutney or raita.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Quikr just got Better !!

If you have ever had the chance to sell your stuff online, then you would have come across folks who agree on a set price over the phone but once they come over to check the goods in question, short term amnesia sets in. The expressions on their face range from anything from alarming to accusing to even disbelief when you mention the quoted price. Having faced such a situation earlier, I can tell you that you tend to feel pretty outraged during such moments. And I guess even some of the genuine buyers might have faced such a situation at times. But Quikr being a leading player in this classifieds segment has puts its finger on the exact problem and come up with a great solution in terms of Quikr NXT.

Unlike phone calls which cannot be recorded (unless you happen to be one of the detective types) and every minute detail memorized, this chat feature has a great advantage that every conversation is recorded in the form of a chat history. This reduces the chances of a mix up occurring when one is negotiating with multiple buyers/sellers. And one can also share the additional photos (if required) during a chat session in case an interested buyer asks for it. I once sold an old Microwave on Quikr and an interested buyer (a lady) was very particular about the temperature, cooking modes, preset cooking menu settings on it. But since I had clicked the photo at a distance, these details were not clearly visible and I had to spend a lot of time explaining the things to her over the phone. And when I saw this latest feature on Quikr, I realized that it could have saved me a lot of trouble had it existed back in 2012.

Since one can immediately connect with others using the chat App, it nixes the chances of any buyers/sellers calling you up at odd hours. This is something that can get very annoying at times especially when people call you during a meeting or even when you are catching up on your beauty sleep on a Sunday morning. One can log in at one's convenience and connect with the desired folks. However after logging off, one does not have to wait endlessly for any callers or even worry about missing a call.

Apart from the above features, the number privacy feature is something that is most desirable when you are a woman. It ensures that your phone number does not fall into wrong hands which reduces the chances of any prank callers disturbing you later. Definitely a great feature when it comes to ensuring the safety of women. This feature is also very effective when dealing with people who tend to play the gender card when striking a bargain. For example, when the seller is a woman, people think that they can try and avail more discount. To test this theory, my husband and I had uploaded pictures of the same TV using different email IDs. Though we had quoted the same price initially, there was a difference of a thousand rupees in what the buyers were willing to pay us. And needless to say, they were ready to pay more in my husband's case. This problem is effectively solved by the Chat feature where one can carefully choose an neutral/unisex login name .

Three cheers to Quikr for introducing three awesome features !! This post is written for Quikr .

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