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Showing posts with label indiblogger contest. Show all posts
Showing posts with label indiblogger contest. Show all posts

Friday, January 23, 2015

Stupid are the ways of Cupid

Candlelight dinners are passe. Hanging precariously from balconies (a la Romeo) is increasingly out of question what with all the high rises that we live in. These days people are resorting to flash mobs and elaborate set-ups to pop that million dollar question to a loved one.

But mushy romance is not dead. For people like me keep thinking of doing crazy stuff now and then. My story is told in flashback mode, so hold on to your seat belts as I take you back in time.

Countdown begins. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Swoosh.

Year 2009. The pristine white beaches of Goa are witness to many a love stories. And the friendly natives go out of their way to help couple find love in this paradise. It was one such couple whose name was recommended to me by a friend who spent her honeymoon in Goa. But since it was a plan that was a little difficult to execute by myself, I had to rope in a couple of friends too.

A Valentine's day trip to Goa was planned. Once the tickets and hotel reservations had been taken care of, we went about working on the details. And as our plans were very much dependent on the high tide, prayers were sent up to heaven every now and then. Though our to-be hosts had assured us about the punctuality of tide, still I had my fingers crossed.

We reached Goa on Saturday morning and checked into the cottage of our friendly couple. Situated next to the beach, it was the perfect setting for a Valentine's day dinner date. After I had given specific instructions to the couple about the menu that I wanted for V-day dinner, all of us set out to explore the place on our bikes (hired ones to be specific). It was late afternoon by the time we returned. As my then-boyfriend took a siesta ( As a rule, we stop looking into the watch during vacations ), we ventured out to the beach.

The private beach made the task easier for me. A small section of the beach was marked, the trees on which the lights (concealed ones) were to be put were identified and our host volunteered to take care of the music. We planned to split up into two groups on the evening of the big day as everyone wanted the two of us the savor the special moment. I returned to the cottage as our friends and hosts set about with the execution of the surprise. I did not want to be absent for too long in case he got suspicious. From that moment onward, time seemed to pass in a fast-forward mode for me. Everything leading up to that evening remains a hazy memory. Even the flowers and gift that he had got for me did not quite register until later.

The moment finally came. It was a little after sunset and the last golden rays of the sun were kissing the still warm sand. Our hosts had laid out a small table beneath the swaying palm trees. As we walked on the wet sand, the waves gently licked our feet. I noticed that the waves were inching closer to the marked spot and felt my heart beating faster. In another fifteen minutes, it had turned dark and our host switched on the lights and the music started to play. He looked surprised as I suggested that we go and sit down on the table.

As we sipped the delicious cocktail served by our hosts, the waters of the high tide miraculously exposed the heart that had been concealed by the sand. Made with a whole lot of sea shells, it had a red box (also in the shape of a heart) in the center. He smiled as he walked up to it and picked it up. "Open it", I said. It revealed a piece of paper with the words "Will you marry me ?". He looked taken as I asked him if it had stumped him. He took time to reply but finally hugged me and whispered a 'Yes' into my ear. He later told me that among all the surprises that I had sprang on him with my take on gender equality , this one had impressed him the most.

Fast forward. February 14, 2010. Exactly an year later, we got married.

This post is written for Closeup Cupid Games .

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Inspirational Talks for the Litterbugs Amongst Us

Remember those days. One came back from school, threw the school bag in one corner, the shoes would be sent flying in different directions with one landing on the TV stand while the other lodged itself underneath the sofa. And the socks ? Must have shoved them under the carpet or under some cushion or maybe into the flower vase. The same story was repeated with the toys which wound up in each nook and corner of the house once one was done playing with them.

However, everything was back in order the next day even though one did not have to lift as much as a finger. Before one attributes this miracle to the higher powers, I, the Great Indian Litterbug must give due credit to the one superpower that I possess, the Great Indian Mother ( Now don't they keep quoting "Mere pass Maa hai" which translates into ' I have my Mother' in those Bollywood blockbusters ). Programmed to clean up every mess and if required, even own up to the messy act in the first place, she makes sure that I can get ahead in life without having to shoulder any responsibility.

Whether is it threatening the parents of my classmate (who nose I incidentally broke), fighting with my geography teacher for extra marks ( I did mark the capital of Namibia on the map...just that it was a centimeter off), rebuffing my numerous girlfriends (who had anyways got too clingy for comfort) and even heckling my wife (and her parents), she has the multitasking abilities that can put even a Lumia/Galaxy/iPhone 6 to shame.

Secure in this knowledge, I step out of the house into the outside world. I can happily continue with my ways while someone else takes care of setting things right. 'What if it is beyond the reach of her powers?',  some skeptical folks may question. Worry not, for the mother of all mothers, our very own Mother India aka 'Bharat Mata' is there to take care of matters through her appointed servants (I do pay tax, don't I ?). These are the people who pick up the wrappers, bottles, cans, etc from the streets/parks after I am done with the obligatory duty of feeding myself. They even clean up the beautiful red graffiti that I have put on the walls with my paan-staking effort (nobody appreciates art these days, do they ?). If you happen to remain skeptical, let me inform you that they are even running a campaign called the 'Swacch Bharat' to clean up after me (and the millions of others like me). But what I cannot understand is why they chose someone like Amitabh Ji to be the face of the campaign. Wouldn't it have been better if they had appointed his wife instead ? After all, cleaning up after her son is part of the legacy that a mother-in-law passes on to her daughter-in-law.

This post is written for The Great Indian Litterbug, which is an initiative by The Times of India and is brought to us by IndiChange.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

(Z)its just not my day !!!

For someone who had battled with pimples/zits for the better (read worse) part of my life, any mention of the topic is enough to trigger the floodgates of memories. Right from the early teenage days when one just started to discover the other sex (and it suddenly become important to look good), it was my faithful companion till my mid-twenties. And finally when we parted ways, it left behind a trail of destruction in the form of scars and potholes on my face.

Pimples were the primary reason I adopted a proper skin care routine, gulped down 10-12 glasses of water in a day and controlled my diet to exclude chocolates, pickles, pani-puris, fried food and red meat. I would religiously wash my face 2-3 times in a day and splash it with cold water whenever possible. And I applied everything on my face ranging from Margosa(Neem) paste, Fuller's earth (aka multani mitti), turmeric, sandalwood, gramflour(besan)-curd mixture, tomato, lemon juice and even garlic paste (please do not ever try this..it stings like hell). And yeah, I forgot to add the toothpaste that a friend's sister had suggested. But that is not all. These home remedies were in addition to the countless bottles of Cetaphil, tubes of prescription medicine and strips of antibiotics that I have had to consume. But these remedies/medications would only reduce the severity of the eruptions and that too for a limited period of time.

By now you would have guessed that my life had turned into a living hell. Standing for hours in front of the mirror and wishing those zits to simply disappear, I dreaded to venture outside my home. It was as if everyone I bumped into was bound to peer into my face and ask about it. After hearing about my losing battle with the zits, they would cluck their tongues and impart a few pearls of wisdom about a remedy which magically cured the pimple problems of someone known to them. It was a different story that none of this stuff worked in my case.

After the initial struggle, I kind of resigned myself to fate. Instead of pondering over a problem on which I had no control, I decided to concentrate on extra-curricular activities, reading books and do whatever I could to distract myself. I would give pep talks to myself to deal with the problem of low self-esteem and convince myself that it is just a passing phase. After all, there is more to a person than just looks.

My efforts paid off and by the time I joined Engineering college, my pimple problem had substantially subsided. Yes, there were those scars, and there would be 3-4 of those eruptions on my face at any point of time, but it was manageable. By the time, I was out of college, most of the scars had faded substantially and I heaved a sigh of relief. But my happiness was short lived as I suffered from yet another bad bout of eruptions six months into my new job. The stress of job training and the frequent change of cities had not gone down well with my over-sensitive skin. But this time I came in touch with a good dermatologist. She gave some medications which showed good results within two months and then there were a few sittings of chemical peel and microdermabrasion after the pimples had reduced. Her treatment was remarkably good (the best actually)  and I was delighted because my skin had never looked better.

As my doctor had made it clear that I was in for a long term struggle, I was advised to stick to a mild yet effective cleanser twice a day, regularly apply a medicated cream at night and a medicated sunscreen while going out in the sun. My skin continued to behave well though I would still get a few eruptions at times. But the turning point came with my pregnancy when I had to stop applying all those medicated products. I was scared that the pimples would be back with a vengeance. However the hormonal changes worked in my favor and the pimples just went away by themselves.

The status quo has been continuing for three years now. But I still follow a regular skin care routine which includes a cleanser and a weekly face pack featuring a natural ingredient with known anti-bacterial properties/pimple fighting abilities like neem, mint, clay or aloe vera. Yeah, I do get a pimple once in a while due to some hormonal fluctuations but that is quite rare.

This post is written for Garnier (No Pimples No Marks) and Pure Active Neem Face Wash .

Monday, December 15, 2014

Drive Smart Stay Safe

Did you know that the fatal car crash that killed the much loved Princess Diana and her then partner Dodi al Fayed might have had a different ending if those two had their seat belts on ? This one was the first such accident that instilled the importance of wearing a seat-belt in my mind .

Then there were two more such accidents, this time much closer to home. Couple of years back a family friend was killed while driving back from his elder brother's wedding. The strain from the journey and the lack of sleep proved fatal as he ended up dozing at the wheel. His father was also deeply injured and stayed in a coma for years. This incident radically transformed the financial condition of a well to do family and somehow things could never be the same again.

Another one was quite recent. A much adored cousin was returning home after dropping a newly married couple (who happened to be his wife's close relatives) at the groom's house. In both the incidents, the person driving the car was in a state of sleep disorientation after a night of wedding festivities and most importantly, not wearing a seat belt. Various studies and research has always thrown up figures which claim that wearing seat belts can reduce the rate of car crash fatalities by more than fifty percent and cut down on moderate to critical injuries by an equal number. A simple habit that can save many lives. That is what road safety is all about.

These are some general guidelines which I feel that people should adhere to in order to make the roads a lot more safe than they are  -

1. Do not drive if you are in a sleep deprived state. The same holds true if you have consumed alcohol. It does not matter if you think that things are under control. Both slow down your reflexes.

2. Do not talk on the phone while driving. Instead use a hands free if the call is critical. Though most of us like to believe that we are great at multi-tasking, it is better not to put lives at risk just to make a point.

3. Do not brake suddenly if a stray dog/cat comes in your way and your vehicle is going beyond 70/kmph. Though animal lovers would cry foul, it is the practical thing to be done as the vehicle travelling behind you will not be able to anticipate your move. Still worse, your own vehicle may skid/spin out of control.

4. Avoid driving in fog or during heavy rains. The reduced visibility sharply cuts down the response time available to one under normal circumstances.

5. Do not jump a red light even if the roads are deserted. There might be another idiot out there doing the same thing.

6. Do not use a high-beam while driving on the city roads. It temporarily the driver of the vehicle travelling in the opposite direction. High-beams are exclusively meant for poorly lit roads on the countryside and the highways.

7. Most importantly, use the seat belt. Even the passengers in the rear seats should abide by it.

With some common sense and discipline, we can make the roads a safer place for all.

This post is written for Nissan Safety Driving Forum which is committed to safety on the road. It endeavors to bring about a much needed change in the mindset of the people so that they realize their responsibilities while driving on the roads. NSDF is an annual activity that started in 2012 and has been conducted in cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Beauty Lies beyond Fear

Whether it is the fear of addressing a large crowd or the fear of looking down/jumping from heights or even something as common as the feeling of being stuck forever within a small space (also known as claustrophobia), each one of us has a personal Goliath that we would like to conquer. It keeps us from reaching greater heights and often doing things that we would love to do. Dragging us down into a vortex of self-doubt and ignominy, it makes life miserable till we decide to overcome it with sheer grit or will-power.

One of my personal fears was getting into water. Obviously not the crystal-clear aqua blue sort of waters that one finds along the beaches of Thailand or Maldives but the dark murky waters that make one fathom what lies beneath those. To my virile imagination they seem to hold a great many secrets in those churning waves and I only keep wondering about how many lives/boats they would have swallowed. That fear kept me from exploring places that I would have given a hand and a leg to visit.

It had to be overcome if I had to realize a long standing dream of exploring the beautiful Chilika Lake, the largest brackish water lagoon of India. Spread out over an area of 1100 square kms , it covers the Puri, Khorda and Ganjam districts of Odisha. It host a large number of migratory birds in the winter months and offers a whole plethora of scenic spots within the body of the lagoon. One such spot is the famed temple of Maa Kalee Jaee, the reigning deity of the lake. Legend attributes the birth of the Goddess to the appearance of the spirit of a young woman who drowned while traversing the lake to reach her husband's home situated on the other side of the lake. While her life was tragically cut short by the cruel waters of the lake during a storm which suddenly engulfed the boat, she decided to save others from a similar fate. To this very day, people offer their prayers to the Goddess while boarding a boat on this very lake.

This time however I decided to put my fears to rest and take that boat ride to visit the Goddess and enjoy the beauty of that lone island during the sunset hours. Most of the boats that ferry people to that island are old fashioned ones which lack even basic amenities like life jackets and a light. And my resolve almost gave away the moment I stepped into the boat and it started to sway wildly. But I held on amidst the growing nervousness as the boat moved away from the shore and the likeness of any civilization grew increasingly smaller. After around thirty minutes we reached a point where we were completely surrounded by water and there was no sight of any shore. This was the point where I was so taken by the glorious beauty of nature that I completely shed any lingering fear and started to truly enjoy the sights.

The sea fowl serenely sailing along the waters, a few birds swooping down to catch fish, some kind of crane/ergot standing on one leg on a protruding piece of rock and flocks of birds flying very low over the waters and the golden rays of the setting sun which had colored the lake in beautiful hues of green, blue and red were some of the rewards that I received in lieu of conquering my fears and making the journey. We reached the island just as the evening prayers (or 'aarti') was about to begin. My mind was at peace as the Goddess had already answered my prayers and freed my mind of fear. I made the return journey in a great state of mind and survived to share this wonderful experience with my readers.

This post is written for Mountain Dew . Check out their awesome video -

Friday, November 28, 2014

Kyunki Bolega Nahin Toh Badlega Kaise

Female foeticide/infanticide is one of the major problems that plagues India (and quite a few other nations too). Not surprisingly, it is a reflection of the status of women in such societies. The girl child grows up into a woman and is married off, and therefore she is hardly able to contribute to her parents' family. An additional burden is incurred in the form of her food cum clothing expenses, education and an evil called dowry. On the other hand, the male child contributes to the family wealth once he completes his education. An additional incentive is the prospect of his bringing home a handsome dowry if his parents are able to able to showcase his correct value in the marriage mart.

It somehow affects the standing of women in overall society with women receiving less pay as compared to men in some of the work sectors. Our Bollywood and Hollywood stars are a such an example with lead actresses getting paid lesser remuneration as compared to their male co-stars. This disparity is also apparent at the other end of the economic spectrum as is the case with the daily wage laborers.

It also affects our day to day life with Indian women doing the lion's share of the household work. The Times Of India recently ran an article which was headlined "Indian men spend a mere 19 mins a day on housework". Such negative attitude is so deep rooted in our minds that even working women do not get any help from their spouse or in-laws in completing the daily household chores.

Unfortunately even our teachers are not exempt from such thinking. Many years ago when I was in school, the class teacher had appointed the students to clean the classroom, scrub the blackboard and arrange the desks everyday before the first period begin. This was to be done on a rotation basis and boys were exempt from carrying out such duties. While everyone meekly followed her instructions, I was not too happy to toe along. My protests resulted in a punishment which involved kneeling down outside the classroom for the entire day. This brought the matter to the open as other teachers stopped along and questioned why I had been punished. It helped that I was a good student. Though not immediately, there was a change over the next few weeks. New housekeeping (we used to call then 'ayah') was appointed to take care of such duties instead of students doing the cleaning. That incident instilled in my mind that any change is possible if we have the courage to stand up and speak for ourselves.

This post is written for http://www.abmontubolega.com/. With the Swach Bharat wave sweeping India, let us all take the initiative to sweep out the dirt from everywhere including people's minds. Find out more about the #AbMontuBolega campaign on their Facebook and Twitter page. Afterall, this is your chance to speak up and be heard.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

More than Just Luck(y)

Gaming. Lottery. Social Networking. Competition. And a genius to bring it all together. Lo and behold. The first App that revolutionizes gaming is born. While it allows one to indulge in that secret desire that everyone nurtures, it makes 'Getting Lucky' sound much more feasible than ever before. And unlike lotteries which are never transparent, this one is simple and easy. What's more, one can also turn it into a much more enjoyable and productive pursuit by tagging some friends along.

For one to play the game, one just has to download it and pick the shares of six companies (all it takes is a few taps on your smartphone screen). If the chosen stocks register the highest gains, one automatically wins. With all the brands being renowned ones, it requires one to do minimal homework before betting on the most alluring stocks. Nothing that most stock crazy Indians have not done before. And for the first time in the history of gaming, the prizes involve something more tangible than the ego-assuaging chest thumping among one's friend circle. Yes, there's cash and holidays to be won for all the time and effort that one has put in. Sounds much better than buying lottery, doesn't it ?

But since this is a game that thrives on social interaction (read 'sharing') like all others, it needs the help of social media to make the most out of it. So, say adieu to inviting friends to play 'so& so' games, only to be ignored or turned down. This time around, your friends are going to be grateful for receiving such an invite as it allows then to play and win something big. And as a bonus of your magnanimous gesture, Lucky 6 rewards you every time a friend wins. And this reward is a good 25% of what your friend has won in the game. So, the more you share, the more are your chances of winning in this game. And add that to the goodwill that one gets from a friend who has won. Friends that play together, stay together. Isn't that super cool ?

Another plus is that 'Lucky 6' being a fun social game, it is completely free. There is no catch as with other internet games that get one addicted and make one pay to go through the higher levels even as one keeps competing among friends. Sadly there are no rewards for the free publicity that such Apps/Games get via the users playing and sharing them. But it is soon going to become a thing of the past with 'Lucky 6' and Fat Cat Gaming. Excited to be going the Fat Cat way with "He who shares,wins".

This post is written for Fat Cat Gaming. Do try out and enjoy their new game....Keep playing keep winning

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Garnier Saved My Day !!

It is 5 am. A new mother finally gets to hit the bed. But sleep eludes her as she keeps getting up to check on her bundle of joy. "Is he too cold ?? or maybe too warm. It has been two hours since his last feed, won't he be hungry?". Her thoughts wander in every possible direction. Finally the alarm goes off at 7.30 am. She gets off hurriedly to shut it lest it disturb the little one.

As she splashes cold water on her face to get rid of the grogginess, she notices the dark areas that are beginning to develop under her eyes. Her once luminous skin is not longer that radiant. Her rigorous skincare routine has gone haywire after the arrival of the baby. Not that she regrets it. "Thank God for small mercies...at least I do not have to go to office looking like this...most folks would easily mistake me for an endangered member of the bear family".

The day passes by in blur. Feeding, changing nappies and soothing the little one takes up all her time. A sudden ringing of the mobile disrupts her routine. Her husband informs her that two of his colleagues would be dropping by around 7 p.m.. She checks the time and it is already 6 p.m. which leaves her with less than an hour to get ready to receive the guests.

She runs through her mental checklist. The fridge is stocked with frozen snacks which would be ready to serve in 10 mins. The house looks a bit untidy and will take up another 15 mins. With the baby scheduled for a feeding at 6:45, that leaves her with just about 20 mins for herself. Deciding to tackle the living room first, she gets to work. It turns out that she grossly underestimated the effort. It is 6:30 by the time she is done with arranging the house.

She hurriedly takes a shower and dons a fresh outfit. The baby has begin to stir and needs immediate attention. A feeding session and a lullaby follows. The baby settles down and she puts him in the rocking chair. With the snacks are laid out in the microwaveable dish and the coffee maker kept ready, the food arrangements are taken care of. Turning her thoughts to her makeup and hair, she hurriedly opens the makeup kit which has been gathering dust ever since the baby was born. She sighs at the sight of the neatly arranged primer, foundation, concealer, highlighter and the pressed powder. These things have to wait for another day. Closing the kit, her reaches out for a little pouch. Her vanity is at stake and she cannot afford to look less than presentable.

Un-zipping the pouch, she turns it upside down on the dressing table. A Garnier BB cream, a kajal stick and two lippies tumble out. Though minimalistic, these have become her savior. An impulse buy from an online portal, the Garnier BB cream has worked its way into her hectic routine. While she had initially been skeptical about the lack of a shade repertoire to match every skin tone, she discovered that it matched beautifully with her medium skin tones. It gives that beautiful flawless finish with a dewy shine which stays in place for a good eight hours while the in-built moisturizer ensures that skin stays hydrated. And it has SPF too which abolishes any need for applying a sunscreen. No need for layering multiple products.

She dots her face with a tiny amount and spreads it evenly with light fingers. A second layer ( mixed with a dot of matte foundation) applied right under the eyes takes care of the dark circles. After a swipe of kajal to brighten up those tired eyes and a bit of lippy to add some color to the face, she looks every bit her old self. With those extra minutes to spare, she quickly runs a straightener through her wild hair. She is just putting it back in its stand when the doorbell rings. As she opens the door, the look in her husband's eyes says it all. Garnier BB cream has once again saved the day for her.

[ Note - Garnier BB Cream has been my constant companion ever since the arrival of my baby. Though I have been using it for more than a year, I jumped at the chance to do a blog post about it. Thanks to Indiblogger and Garnier for providing me a free sample and the lovely opportunity.]

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Diverse Cuisines, Different Meals, One Serveware

With rocketing real estate prices it is hardly surprising that our homes are steadily becoming smaller and smaller. Less floor area often translates into lesser storage area. It is in a scenario like this that innovation comes into the picture. We are constantly on the lookout for furniture and appliances that can multitask. Such conditions also apply to the kitchenware that we use. The need of the hour is something that can directly go from the gas stove to the dining table and if need be, also into the refrigerator. Sigh not, for Borosil is here to save our valuable kitchen space and even more valuable time ( with the need to do away with washing multiple utensils ).

Here comes a serveware that works with every cuisine and every meal. Find it hard to believe my words. Well...the pictures below say it all ! Now don't they say 'A picture is worth a thousand words'.

It is breakfast time. The soft white idlis and the sambhar are invitingly displayed in the beautiful glassware. Can you resist their appeal ??

In case idlis are not your thing, how about sampling some of this glorious poha served in a deep round Borosil dish??

Even if it is a special lunch prepared for Ramzan, my Borosil serveware does not fail me. The Hyderabadi Dum biryani is displayed in its full glory using the deep rectangular dish. The glass doubles up as a 'easy-to-pour' raita jug .

Coming to the 'royal' dessert, the creamy white 'Shahi tukda' is beautifully set off by the glass walls of the deep square dish.

It is snack hour and this time it is an 'Italian' favorite. The Chifferi rigate pasta is roasted red pepper sauce looks beautiful and aesthetically appealing in the round casserole.

A regular no-fuss dinner made special with Borosil. A simple yet tasty sweet corn-green peas-mushroom pulao with yellow dal and a dry chicken curry.

Seafood lover ?? Opt for a crab stir-fry instead of the chicken !! Still looks incredibly good, doesn't it ??

Vegetarian ?? No worries.........try a veg Manchurian instead !!!

But the real star of the package seem to be the pint sized vision glasses!! They are surprisingly versatile and I have simply let my imagination run wild with them...

A simple fruit custard certainly looks sublime when presented in a glass. Not the one to be outdone, the delicious 'Tiranga' faluda with its resplendent colors makes for a vivid display !!

In the mood for some hot jalebis dipped into chilled rabdi ?? Well...try serving this classic dessert in a sexy new avatar.......good enough to tempt even the hardcore weight watchers, isn't it ??

Here I have even used one as a holder for these delicious home made chocolates...

Thank you Borosil and Indiblogger for making my food come alive !!! ( This is my entry for the Round 2 of the contest )

Monday, June 30, 2014

My Food Canvas!!!!!!!!!!!

"Do not judge a book by its cover". Haven't we been hearing this lines ever since we can remember. But I cannot recollect a single meal that I have not judged by appearance. In fact, good food to me is something that seduces by the looks, titillates the tongue and finally satiates the soul. As a food blogger, I do keep thinking about food at all times of the day and conjuring up tantalizingly colorful image in my mind. Well, I am about to share a meal about which I have been dreaming lately. ( Shhh....this is a secret between you and me. If you have been planning to make that someone special fall in love with you, this meal is the good old fashioned way of doing it!!!)

I plan a menu that is simple yet elegant. With a play of colors on my mind, the next step was to finalize a canvas (read 'Plate') that whispers subtle and understated class while providing the perfect backdrop to showcase my creations . The 'English Summer - Milano' collection by Borosil is what I have in mind.

Starting the meal with something healthy, a colorful salad which is a mix of lightly fried aubergine slices, baby corn, yellow peppers, red peppers, thinly sliced onions and cherry tomatoes tossed with the right amount of lemon juice, paprika and some roasted cumin powder would provides the right color and crunch. The round casserole used for serving the salad showcase the riot of colors infused into this recipe. It gets one into the mood for the good things yet to come.

But the Pièce de résistance on this table happens to be the square variety platter whose elegance is rivaled only by the Hors d'oeuvre that it showcases. Reaching out for the Murg Malai Tikka, one cannot stop admiring the sophistication crafted into these pieces. The tender white chicken pieces which have been marinating overnight in a yogurt, cream, garlic and nut paste are cooked just to the extent required to preserve their succulent character while allowing them to develop a few of those 'aah...so perfect' brown spots. Slice through them in a single stroke to reveal the moist juicy interiors, dip them in that tangy minty chutney and embellish with an onion ring or two before popping a sinful morsel in your mouth. Doesn't it just melt into your mouth leaving your taste buds begging for an encore.

But the golden fried prawns with their upright tails have been beckoning you and one just cannot resist going after them. With their shells still on, they glisten with freshness and the only word that can describe them is 'Gorgeous'. One knows that inside the crisp exterior, the moist flesh would leave a divine sensation on the tongue. You bite into them, chewing slowly as you relish each bite. "This is not one of those meals that should be hurried through", you mutters to yourself.

By this time the "Chenna matar" has began to sulk, having been kept waiting for too long. Holding the elegant glass casserole gently in your hands, bring it up to your plate all the while appraising the aromatic gravy that has the dainty green peas gently jostling for space with brown balls of fried cottage cheese or 'chenna'. 'They look so fragile. Wont they break as I pick them ?', a quick thought crosses one's mind only to be squashed the next instant. The heady aroma is sufficient to overpower ones' senses, leaving one with no other option apart from giving in to its lure.

Glancing though the walls of the 'Deep round Casserole', one can see a beautiful white canvas that is dotted with cumin seeds and sweet corn. Helping oneself to the long grained Basmati grains that have been cooked to perfection, one cannot resist taking in a lungful of that heavenly aroma . Not even a single grain sticking to each other, but the corn pulao reveals more with each bite. The subtle aromas from the rich spices and the desi ghee which accompanied it while cooking still linger on. Cinnamon? Yes. Black cardamom ? Yes. Mace ? Definitely. Nutmeg ? Maybe, I am not too sure. A mental debate goes on.

Last but not the least, the delicious looking 'Dal Tadka' comes around in 'Souffle Dish', its transparent walls revealing the layer of ghee/butter that has separated from the glorious yellow. Spotted with kasuri methi, ginger juliennes and slit green chillis , it has been generously tempered. Spooning some over the fragrant rice, one cannot wait to taste it. The grains look to be in one piece but are surprisingly soft as they melt into one's mouth. It is a match made in Heaven ( or the host's kitchen in my case ).

At the end of it one is full to the brim but which meal is complete without a dessert. And for one that has been going so good, it should end in a double celebration. Arrives the 'rasmalai', delicate cheese balls soaking up in a semi thick rabdi and sprinkled generously with saffron and pistachios. The elegant mini plate sets used to serve the dessert heightens the excitement of tucking into it. 'Should I take in a spoonful of that deliciously creamy liquid or do I directly go after one of the fragile looking balls ?', one contemplates . 'Utter bliss', one exclaims after the first mouthful. One tries hard to prolong the moment of bliss, tucking into the dessert now and then, but it is all over too soon. Nevertheless, for a meal that is so good, the memories would still linger on.

This post is written for the "My Beautiful Food", a contest hosted by Borosil.

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