31 December 2009

WIPGYOR series: Orange is for yummy carrot soup!

Vancity is pretty chilly these days. Of course, its not half as bad as last year...we had to brave knee-deep snow around this time last year..and though its not that bad this winter, its still quite cold. Most of the days its cold cold rain all day and on a few days, frosty roads make us slip and slosh all the way to work! So what better than than a yummy, healthy carrot soup to add some warmth on days like these?

After a little search on the Internet for a good carrot soup recipe, I settled on this one I found on Alanna's blog called 'Laura's carrot soup recipe'. Click here for the original recipe. I followed it quite closely but made a few changes in the spices to adjust the heat to our liking.

Here are the measures I used:
1 big clove garlic, chopped
1/2 medium sized onion, chopped roughly
1/2 rib celery, chopped
1 tsp butter
3 big carrots, peeled and sliced
1 small potato with the skin
3 cups hot water
1/2 maggi instant bouillon
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper +1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt (adjust as per taste)
1/2 cup milk

- Saute garlic, onion and celery in butter until tender in a thick bottomed vessel.
- Add all the remaining ingredients except milk and 1/4 tsp black pepper powder. Bring to a boil and cook until carrots are tender, it was about 25 mins for me. Cool the mixture.
- Puree in a blender and return mixture to the cooking pan. Add milk, 1/4 tsp black pepper powder, heat and serve immediately.

I also made some fresh croutons to go with the soup using bread I had at home by pan searing a couple slices with a little butter.

The soup is a hearty, delicious one and something I will definitely be making more often. Alanna has also posted the nutrient content if anyone is interested. As for me, the taste won me over, the fact that its light in calories is the icing on the cake :)

Come back tomorrow for the last (but not the least) recipe in the series- its going to be a fiery red seafood dish!


29 December 2009

WIPGYOR series: Yellow is for Khaman Dhokla

I used to enjoy dhokla once in a while in India. Especially when it came with the typical Gujarathi chutneys made from papaya and green chillies..yum!

Ever since we came to Canada, I have tried out several recipes to make a soft, spongy dhokla but all have been utter failures. Results have ranged from hard-as-a-rock dhoklas to started-as-spongy-but-lost-the-way-midway dhoklas. In fact, I had given up on the idea of ever making good dhokla at home. That is, until I came across Chefinyou's recipe. The recipe is a really simple one and with Chefinyou's detailed instructions and pictures, you just cant go wrong. Click here for the original recipe. I am not reiterating the recipe here as I followed it pretty much word for word and Chefinyou's instructions are really superb!

Here are some pictures of the dhokla as I made it:

Step 1: Mix besan (chickpea flour), yogurt, water and baking soda to form a smooth batter. I let it rest for about 45 mins.

Step 2: Add some lime juice, oil, salt, sugar, green chili paste and turmeric powder to the batter. Mix well.

Step 3: Heat water in a pressure pan. Once the water begins to boil, add eno to the batter and immediately set in to steam in the pan (without the whistle). after about 10 mins, my dhokla looked liked this.

Step 4: Make the tadka (tempering) using mustard seeds, green chillies, curry leaves, oil and water.

Step 5: Pour the tadka on the dhokla. Let it cool.

Step 6: Cut into bite-sized pieces, admire the sponginess for a moment and then EAT UP!!

See how spongy it turned out? I was so delighted!!

Will be back tomorrow with the orange recipe.

Take care,


28 December 2009

WIPGYOR series: Green is for Paneer tikka masala

Isn't green a beautiful colour? Say the word green and the first thing that comes to my mind is lush green meadows, serenity and beauty! Anyone ever wondered why people turn green with envy? :)

For my rainbow series, I decided to make some paneer tikka masala. This recipe is loosely adapted from a cookbook I got from the library called 'curry lover's cookbook' by Mridula Baljekar. It is a fairly simple recipe, so you could make the marinade ahead of time if you wish and simply bake the tikkas when its time to serve!

For the marinade:
400 g paneer (thats the standard Nanak paneer pack we get here in Vancity), cut into bite-sized cubes
1 cup cilantro/coriander leaves
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup thick curd
1 green chilli
2 cloves garlic
1/2 inch ginger
1/2 tsp sugar
salt to taste
1 tbsp lime/lemon juice

Combine all ingredients except the paneer in a blender until well blended. Marinate the paneer and let it sit it in refrigerator for atleast 20 mins.

When its time to make the tikkas:
-thread the paneer on to wooden kebab skewers. Meanwhile, preheat the grill.
-Brush the paneer pieces with oil and grill for about 5-7 mins. Occasionally turn and brush the paneer with more marinade.

For the tikka sauce:
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp almonds
1 cup water
1 tbsp oil/butter

-Heat the oil/butter in a pan and fry the onion for about 5 mins until brown.
-Add the remaining tikka marindate and fry for 2 mins
-Add the tomato paste, almonds and water and simmer for 15 mins
-Cool the mixture. When cooled, put it into a blender and blend until smooth. Return the sauce to the pan.
-Remove the paneer from the skewers and add it to the pan. Simmer gently for 5 more minutes
-Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and yogurt. Serve with warm chapatis or naan.


WIPGYOR series: Pink is for Strawberry smoothie

Remember about my earlier post on N and my breakfast banter? My search for quick, tasty and healthy breakfast ideas led me to this strawberry smoothie recipe! Here's one powerhouse of a smoothie recipe that sure kicks off your day with a punch!

1/2 cup fresh/frozen strawberries
3 tbsp vanilla yogurt
1 tsp sugar (skip or add more as per your taste)
1 cup milk

Simply blend everything together till you get a creamy, deliciously pink smoothie. I occasionally add bananas or blueberries to this smoothie and it tastes equally lovely. Goes superbly well with a fresh morning paper!

Thats my 'pink' recipe for the series. Wow, cant believe its three days already! The marathon is shaping up beautifully, don't you think? To read some more marathon recipes, click here to go to Nupur's website.

Will be back tomorrow with a green one. Promise it will be savoury!


27 December 2009

WIPGYOR series: Indigo is for Blueberry Sheera

Pre-Canada, if you told me about blueberry sheera, I would have said: Whats this blueberry man? and why is it in my sheera? And why is my sheera INDIGO??? I would perhaps even have given you a dirty look.

Post-Canada though, I have fallen in love with this berry. It’s a beautiful, healthy and very versatile berry! You could use it in anything from breakfast cereals, muffins and pancakes to the more decadent desserts like the pies or cheesecakes.

For those of you who don't know about 'sheera', this is a lovely Indian sweet dish (of the pudding family) made from rawa (semolina/cream of wheat) and depending on how you add your butter and nuts and fruit, can range from a mild, moderate to quite rich a dish. From where I come from, we like to make it quite mild in sweetness, with some nuts and mostly eat it for breakfast. Also adding blueberries to sheera is not common in India. Pretty natural as blueberries in India are not common. Which explains my dirty look pre-canada.

I first tasted blueberry sheera when N & I went to our nearby ISKON temple for Janmasthami celebrations...both N and I love this temple, especially the Radha-Krishna idols and make it a point to go there every year on the occasion of Janmasthami...lots of devotees turn up to celebrate baby Krishna's birthday and in turn he treats them with some lovely vegan treats...and this was exactly where N & I first had the blueberry sheera!

To tell the truth, we were both alarmed when we first saw the bluish-indigoish coloured sheera..but then we had the first bite and that was it!...the sweetness of the regular sheera is beautifully complemented by the tartness of the berries...both N and I like our sweets quite mild so this one won us over. We go back each year to the temple not only to say 'Happy bday' to little Krishna but also to get a bite of that wonderful sheera he makes for us!

Here's my recipe:
3-4 tbps butter (depending on how rich you want your pudding)
1 cup rawa (semolina, also called cream of wheat)
1/4 cup blueberries (frozen ones work well)
1/2 cup sugar (add more if you like it sweeter)
1 tbsp nuts (I used almonds)
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
2 cups water

-Melt the butter in a thick-bottom vessel and roast the rawa in the butter on low heat. Stir constantly until the rawa changes colour to a rich light brown colour and gives out a lovely aroma. The step should take about 5-7 mins
-Heat water and let it come to a boil. Add the blueberries, sugar and nuts to the water. Have the water ready and hot by the time your rawa is roasted.
-Once the rawa is roasted, add the hot water to the rawa (be careful!), the cardamom powder and mix everything thoroughly.
-Cover, lower the heat to minimum and let the rawa cook for about a couple minutes. Stir well and switch off the heat. Let it stand covered for another 2-3 minutes for all the flavours to come together.
-Serve hot for breakfast or cold for dessert.

Once done, your blueberry sheera should look like this:

N and I simply love this one and I hope you will too..Come back tomorrow for the pink platter! See you then!


P.S. Sorry for the late post today, but we have come to Seattle today and I am writing this one using the 'on-now-off-now' Internet connection at the hotel :)

25 December 2009

WIPGYOR series: White is for Ghaavne

Both N and I come from the coastal part of West India -'Konkan’ as it is fondly called….anywhere you go in this region, you will find scenic beaches, rows of coconut palms, verdant farms and the signature red soil!....add to this list historic temples, freshest-possible fish and nicest-possible people, and you know that you are in heaven!

Here are some pics from our trip last year:

The food in Konkan is based primarily on three staples: rice, fish and coconuts….superb staples, I say! Go to any Konkani house for a meal and you are sure to find atleast one of these ingredients in the meal- be it breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner or dessert. Today I am going to kick-off my 7-day recipe marathon with a breakfast recipe that combines two of these staples- rice and coconut.

For anyone who might not know, ghaavne are healthy, light, rice flour crepes. Traditional ghaavne-making involved buying good quality rice (or else the crepes won’t come out nice), washing it thoroughly, drying it in the beautiful courtyard outside the house in the sun, powdering the sun-dried rice and then making a batter out of it. Whew!!! In today’s short-cut zamaana, ready-made rice flour available in the market works quite well. Of course its no competition to grandma’s crepes, but for the amount of effort it saves, it does quite well.

The crepes are pretty versatile and can go with a wide variety of accompaniments. Depending on the meal, you could pair it with plain coriander-coconut chutney (breakfast) or a spicy Goan fish curry *slurp*for lunch/dinner.

Here’s my recipe for morning-fresh ghaavne-chutney:
1/2 cup good quality rice flour (I used the Gagan brand available here in Vancouver)
about 3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt (more or less to your taste)

-Sift the rice flour so that its nice and light
-In a bowl, add water to the sifted rice flour little at a time until you get a milk-like batter.
-Add salt to this batter and if you have time, let it rest for 5-10 mins
-heat a non-stck tava/girdle and ladle out 1/4 cup batter at a time such that you get a thin crepe.
You know you have got your ghaavna right when you see the jaali (holes) in the crepe like this:

-add some oil on the sides and let the crepe cook
-you know its done when the crepe looks crispy and the sides of the crepe leave the girdle.
-Serve hot

Coriander-coconut chutney:
1/2 cup fresh coconut
1/2 bunch fresh coriander leaves
1-2 green chillies (depending on how hot you like it)
1 small clove of garlic
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
salt to taste

Simply combine all ingredients in a blender and grind until everything is well blended.

Now isn't that a lovely, easy recipe? N and I both love these crepes and enjoy having them for breakfast. At first I was wondering how easy this Grandma's recipe is but then I remembered that they didnt really use my store-bought rice flour shortcut :)

Come back tomorrow for my Indigo coloured recipe...see you tomorrow!


24 December 2009

Kicking off 7-day recipe marathon with WIPGYOR series

Remember I announced in my last post that I will be participating in Nupur's 7-day recipe marathon? So starting tomorrow, until 31st Dec, I will be posting 7 food recipes and that too with a theme.

When I first read Nupur's announcement, I knew right away this would be fun...but to make it even funn-er, I decided to add a theme of own. So here it is, each of my recipes for the next 7 days will be based on the 7 colours of the rainbow!!....with a slight twist, of course! Instead of VIBGYOR, I am going to with WIPGYOR....White comes in instead of Violet and Pink instead of Blue (racked my brain and books for recipes which would be violet or blue but just could not find any!)

Pretty cool, dont you agree? :) If you do, come back tomorrow and the 6 more days after that! To make it easy for my readers, I have now added an email subcription box at top right on the blog...do check it out.

I leave you with the warmest wishes for Christmas...here's a song thats sets the holiday mood!!

Season's greetings,

21 December 2009

The delicate business called 'Marriage'

The business of marriage is a delicate one. Especially for the guy. Being married for four years now I think I can say this with some authority.

Take Doug and Carrie for instance....this is a husband-wife duo in a popular sitcom called 'King of Queens' which is a regular feature on North American cable.

A picture of Doug and Carrie from 'King of Queens' (picture taken from here)

In one episode, Carrie asks Doug if he thinks she comes across as scary and strong (which she is- a strong personality, that is)..and the question itself scares Doug, who gets all uncomfortable and asks uncertainly 'Is this a trick question? Like the other time when you asked me if you had a moustache and that I should tell the truth and then when I told you the truth you got all mad at me????' Hilarious!!

And then N and I were having our coffee yesterday morning when we came across Ray and Debra (from 'Everybody Loves Raymond', another comedy sitcom on cable here).

Ray and Debra in 'Everybody Loves Raymond' (picture taken from here)

At the beginning of the episode, Deb and Ray, who have been married for a few years, decide to experiment with 'trying to be nice to each other'....something which gets difficult when Ray has to eat Deb's turkey sandwich (Deb's a not-so-good-cook)....so once all niceties evaporate, they come to a truce---he gets to throw her sandwich in the garbage and she gets to call her 'idiot'...good one, I say!

So I turn to N and tell him how much I pity his breed...in all fairness, these poor chaps have a tough job.....every time we ask them a trick question, they have to come up with an answer that is truthful, yet un-hurtful, yet un-patronising!!..or like N quipped, an answer that is 'nice....and to know what 'nice' is , all you need to do is be married long enough and you will know (most probably by bitter experience i.e. answering wrong to the trick question..doing this just once is enough to learn the lesson!).

Coming to trick questions, the mother of all trick questions is that involving a mother-in-law!!Take Ruchi in this video for instance..its not really a trick question for the husband and its a classic case of what is called in Bombaiyya language as 'kaadi karna-cum- kulhaadi pe paaon' ..check out this video!

Fortunately for N, me and N's ma, we have neither the kaadis nor the fire!..N's ma and I get along superbly (touchwood!!!)...while on we are on this topic, here's what N's parents sent us for our fourth wedding anniversary last week....a super, duper surprise---a basket full of love and goodies!!!

An announcement: starting on Friday, 25 Dec until 31st Dec, I will be posting 7 food recipes!!.I am taking part in Nupur's (of One Hot Stove) 7-day recipe marathon!

I have an interesting theme in mind on which the recipes will be based...to find out more, come back next Friday.


P.S. When I told N about my plan to enter into the recipe marathon, he was first a bit worried about how much time I was going spend on this over the holidays...but when I told him that he would get to taste 7 yummy(?) treats each day, he was so much more supportive...hmmm, the business of blogging is quite delicate too, wont you agree?? :)

06 December 2009

The tale of I, me and potluck samosas

Scene: Last Thursday [day before the office department potluck], evening setting, I am in the bus on my way back home around 6 pm:

I: What to make?what to make?
Wiser ME: How about a ready-made salad platter?
I: No, no thats too 'ready made'...I toh want to make something baba..that too something that says Indian and that too something that everyone will like and that too something that is easy
Wiser ME: Hmmmm
I: Dont forget all the hype about my blog...people have been fooled by the 'dikhawa'..they think I am a good cook!
Wiser ME: Oye shucks!..what to make?what to make?
I: Shut up...thats my line....(dimaag ki batti suddenly lighting up...tinggg) hey how about samosas?
Wiser ME: Nooooo.....you have made them just once before and that one time was big-time disaster...dont you remember?
I (miffed): hmmmff...(I dont want to remember my bombed experiment about 4 years back...the samosas came out fine when hot but wilted like sunflowers in 10 mins!!..and I served them to my poor guests at a party..no one wanted to eat the soggy'mosas)
Wiser Me: Isnt it a safer idea just to just buy some samosas?
I: No, no thats too 'ready made'...i toh want to make something baba
Wiser Me(irritated): Then make the samosas...but I dont have a good feeling on this one!

So I get off the bus, go to the market, buy the potatoes and peas, brave the cold (Wiser Me seemed really wise at this point) and come back home!

I make the stuffing first:
1 lb (1/2 kg) boiled, peeled and mashed potatoes
1 cup peas (boiled)
1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
salt to taste
Mix all the ingredients together and let set aside! (yup, its that simple)

Then I search the blogosphere for a dependable-looking dough recipe...and I find Monisha's Coconut Chutney blog!!
Here's a pastry recipe that seems to just what I am looking for (even Wiser Me seems hopeful, after looking at Monisha's pics):
1/5 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup semolina (rawa)
1/2 cup baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter
Sift all the dry ingredients together, add the butter and knead with as little amount of cold water as possible. The dough should be firm but flexible. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside.

Dinner break...N pops his head into the kitchen and declares 'readymade samosas seem to be a better option' (N-the-wise has always been a supporter of Wiser Me...hmppf)!

Cut to post-dinner (which means I have let the dough rest for about an hour), I start making the samosas:
Make small sized dough balls, roll each into a small circle, cut into two semi circles, line the edges with flour paste, make into a cone, fill with a tsp of the stuffing and finally seal the samosa!(for better samosa-making instructions, check out Manjula's video here)

About 30 mins later, by the time I reach samosa #25, I am dead tired (Wiser Me is almost dancing with 'I-told-you-so' song!!)

I put all the samosas into a box, put them in the refrigerator..will fry them tomorrow morning.

Scene: Friday morning (day of potluck)..i start frying frying the samosas around 7 am in the morning (start seeing WiserMe's point...could have got extra half an hour's sleep...but its too late now..sigh!)......am done by 7:30! I save a few for N for the evening.

Scene: Office..lunch time..my samosas are served...not only have they stayed crispy, they are fabulous!!!everyone loves them...it is a hit!!!!!!(smirk, smirk, Wiser Me:D)

Samosas- served with two chutneys: the green coriander-mint chutney and the red (readymade) tomato-chilli-garlic sauce

Scene: Evening...I fry the remaining four for N...he loves them tooo!!!!!!And hey, he tells me its his lab potluck next week...may be I can recreate the samosa magic??
I: Oye shucks...what to make?what to make?
Kahani abhi khatam nahi hui, mere dost :)


04 December 2009

Weekday meal idea: prawn pakoras, sprouts usal and curd rice

Cooking is therapeutic for me. It really is!

Most people I know cook more on weekends than on weekdays (a few go as far as making advance meals for the week on the weekend and stashing away portions in the freezer for the week)...pretty smart use of time and energy? I agree....but that's not how I do things. For some unknown reason, I like to cook on weekdays...dinner happens to be N's and my most important meal of the day and I like to make sure its fresh and warm...which is why I guess, even after I am exhausted from working all day, I cant believe how much I enjoy making fresh meals each weekday. Does this make me weird, I wonder?

Here's what I made yesterday night:

Prawn pakoras (completely my experiment, but they came out really good!), Sprouts usal/stir-fry (easy breezy and healthy), curd rice (since I some leftover cooked rice from the day before) and chapatis (Indian flatbreads) Here are the recipes for the pakoras and the usal:

Prawn pakoras (fritters)

For the marinade:
10-12 Prawns (good sized, cleaned, de-veined and salted)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp pepper powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder (substitute with garlic paste if you don't have the powder)

For the fritter batter:
3/4 cup besan flour
a pinch of asafoetida (optional)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp hot oil (makes the fritters light and crispy)
salt to taste

-Marinate cleaned and salted prawns with the powders and set it aside for atleast 30 mins
-After 30 mins, heat oil for deep frying.
-Meanwhile, make the batter using water as needed (the consistency should be quite thick, such that the batter coats the prawns easily)
-Deep fry each prawn till golden brown
Tada...prawn pakoras are ready! they go really well with ketchup!

Sprouts usal recipe:
2 cups sprouts (I used matki/moth beans)-pressure cooked till cooked but firm
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
a pinch of asafoetida
5-6 curry leaves
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 onion
1 tsp chili powder
salt to taste
coriander leaves to garnish

-Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. When they crackle, add the asafoetida, curry leaves, turmeric powder and saute for a few seconds
-Add the onions and cook until transparent
-Next, add the cooked sprouts, salt and chilli powder and mix well. Cook on a low flame for about 5 mins until all flavours combine well.
-Turn off the heat, garnish with coriander leaves and serve.

N-the-seafood-freak loved the prawn pakoras experiment so that one was a success (will be making them again for sure).

Ooh la la..that definitely was a nice weekday meal!!...So whats on your menu? Would love to hear some easy, healthy weekday dinner ideas!


26 November 2009

A book review (Scavenger by David Morrell), some unfinished business and lots of crappy weather

Long title, you think? Well, by now you should know about 'me and my laziness' (its on the same lines as Amitabh's 'main aur meri tanhaiyee'...looks like my laziness and AB's tanhaiyee will never ever leave us!)...well, I am feeling too lazy to split up the updates..hence the combo post!

Now, a part of my laziness (just a small part..most of it is God's gift..sigh!) is because of the crappy Vancouver weather we have had to endure in the last 2-3 weeks...its as dull as the Ranbir-Katrina starrer Ajab Prem ki gajab kahani (sorry if I hurt any sentiments there...but the movie was a total bomb for me)....and to add to the grey skies, we have had visits from Aunty Bigdrops Rain and Uncle Gusty Windy all week long....a recipe for foul mood, I tell you!..as for me, I am okay on the mood swings...just a little more lazier-than-usual.

Picture taken from: http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/

Now for the book review...well, I finished reading it last week. It is a New York best seller and a thriller-mystery kind of book by David Morrell, a writer apparently quite well-known in the world of fiction thrillers (this was the first time I read his work). Morrell's hero, Frank Balenger is forced on scavenger hunt for a 100 year old time capsule by an unknown 'Game Master' in order to save his love Karen. Overall, the book is a pretty fast paced, interesting read, though I found it a bit too fictional in some parts....a video game gone extreme!Read the book to find out more about time capsules, scavenger hunts, Frank Belanger and the Game Master.

That brings me to the final part..my unfinished business...there were two mammoth books I started to read over the last few weeks and inspite of loving the story lines, could not finish them...library timelines, you see:
- Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts (936 pages....I loved the part I read and have promised myself to go back)
- A suitable boy by Vikram Seth (1349 pages...finished reading just the first 150)


P.S. Even as I am writing this post over lunch, the sun seems to have come out of the clouds outside the office windows....yipee!!!

16 November 2009

Breakfast idea: Banana buns

Breakfasts feature pretty high on N’s-and-my-argument list…like any couple, we have a long list of issues about which we fight and debate…and breakfast is pretty high on our list. If you are wondering how such a seemingly benign meal can spark debates, you should see N and me!

Well, pre-marriage, N was used to lovely breakfasts each morning....N’s ma is an amazing cook and one of the most tireless people I have met..she wakes up early in the mornings and makes sure the family has a lovely breakfast to start the day with…circa post-marriage, N has to be content with bread-butter-biscuits-kind-of-breakfast....sweet thing that he is, after three years of marriage, he has now come to terms with it!:)

Anywho, I am now getting a little better at this meal than I was three years back, so I guess I can say I am trying to bridge the divide!...during one such search for easy breakfast ideas, I came across Ashwini's banana buns....these are not-too-sweet, deep-fried banana puris and go amazingly well with a garam cup of chai!..the best part about making these is that the dough is made the previous night so all you have to do is roll out the puris and fry them in the morning (it took me just under 20 mins in the morning to make them from start to finish) and even though they are deep fried, they were totally non-greasy!...perfect, I say!!

For the recipe, please click here to go to Ashwini's blog.

For my breakfast, here are the pics:
Needless to say, this was one morning N and I didn't bicker over the big 'B' :)


13 November 2009

Let's take a moment to remember

It was Remembrance day in Canada yesterday...once a year, on this day, Canadians remember and honour their soldiers lost in wars & battles. Everywhere all around poppies are sold as an act of remembrance to fallen soldiers at war.To read more about Remembrance Day, click here.

'Poppy' picture taken from here

I wish we had something like this in India...could we not add one day to the long list of the existing religious holidays where we honoured our brave soldiers? It need not even be a holiday for that matter!...if we can adopt all the Mother's day/Father's day/Valentine's day from the West , why not inherit something more meaningful like the Remembrance Day? (dont get me wrong, I think these are great too...but I dont really need just one day in a year to take a step back and let my loved ones know that I love them!)

Anywho, whether or not we ever end up spending a full day commemorating our brave soldiers, lets at least take a moment to thank:
-all the brave soldiers who gave up their lives so that we can be safe
-all the brave soldiers who continue to live a life of hardship and danger so that we can be safe
-and finally, all the families who let these brave soldiers go so that we can be safe

An Indian soldier at the Taj hotel, Mumbai on 26/11 last year, picture from here.

Lets be thankful. That's the least we can do anyways.


06 November 2009

'A'mazing Chicken curry

Last Sunday we had our dear friends-cum-family, A and A over at our place for lunch..the As also brought along their lovely little son A, who is now a chirpy, chweetie, totally-adorable-two-month-old..with so much 'A' involved, I had to make sure I made something that would be of 'A' class!

So I sat down with my laptop to search for some interesting chicken curry recipes, and then (cant believe my luck) in just some time stumbled on Sailu's blog 'Sailu's kitchen'...this is a goldmine of Indian food recipes and if sailu's recipes don't make you drool, her photos will!!..I don't know how she manages to have an unending treasure of recipes...totally cool, I say!

I ended making Sailu's 'Spicy Chicken Masala recipe' but with some changes to the recipe...please do see the original recipe here!


2 lbs chicken, washed and cut into small pieces (I used just the legs and thighs)
3 tbsp curds
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
1/2 tsp kasuri methi (my tweak; omit if you don't like it)
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste (again, my tweak)
Marinate in the fridge- preferably 2-3 hours or at least for 3o mins

When you are ready to make the curry:
Dry roast and make a fine powder:
1” cinnamon
3 cloves
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp black pepper seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
(I tweaked the recipe just a little here: went in for some fresh coriander and fennel seeds. I LOVE the flavour of freshly ground coriander and fennel seeds in chicken curry. Also, Sailu has 10-12 curry leaves in her recipe- I omitted these simply because I am not a fan of curry leaves in chicken curry)

6-7 cashew nuts
4-5 tbsp milk

Rest of the ingredients:
3-4 tbsp oil
2 big onions finely chopped
1 large tomato finely chopped
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
3/4 tsp black pepper powder
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1tbsp coconut milk
1tsp lemon juice
coriander leaves for garnish

-Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a cooking vessel. Add the onions and saute till pink. Add ginger-garlic paste and saute further for another 3-4 minutes on medium heat.
-Add cumin powder, pepper powerd and combine well and fry for another minute.
-Add the tomatoes and let it cook for 3-4 minutes. Combine well and cook till oil separates.Turn off heat. Cool and grind the cooked masala, along with the soaked cashews and milk. Keep aside this masala paste.
-Heat 2 tbsp oil in a cooking vessel and add the marinated chicken and cook on high flame for 4-5 minutes, reduce heat and cook covered for another 4-5 minutes.
-Add the ground masala paste, and the freshly roasted masala powers and combine well. I also added a tbsp of coconut milk and a tsp of lemon juice for some flavour.
-Cook till chicken pieces are soft and you get the desired curry consistency. Adjust salt.
-Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.

The verdict? This is one 'A' class chicken recipe..the cashews-onion-tomato paste gives the curry a superb consistency and the freshly ground spices add perfect flavour and heat...my guests loved the curry....this one is definitely a keeper!


P.S. Dont go by the pics; unfortunately, they just dont do justice to the curry!

28 October 2009

Book Review: Eat, Love and Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert

Picture taken from here

What do I say about this book? If there ever such thing as a book-writing-soul-sister, Elizabeth Gilbert is mine!!!....we share the same passions- food, language (in fact, we are as specific as loving Italian..most of my friends like French but I like Italian~ohh...I don't understand a word but I just love the sounds of the language), spirituality and love!..Now wouldn't that qualify me to be a blog-writing-soul-sister to this book-writing-soul-sister?:D

The book narrates Gilbert's feelings and experience as she travels across Italy, India and Indonesia in search of herself following a bitter divorce and a failed rebound romance (the book cover says its her search for'everything' but its really her own true self she ends up searching). Gilbert's writing is funny, heart-warming and candid-something I thoroughly enjoy! I loved how she neither blamesnor credits anyone but herself for her life- something we all should realise too....aren't we,after all, the makers of our destinies?

Whether or not anyone reads the book (not everyone may want to read about a woman, her feelings and her spirituality), I wanted to pass on some very interesting thoughts that stayed with me even after I finished reading the book:
Eat (indulge yourself):
Contrary to the social norm, Gilbert (and in the past few years of married life, I too), think each one of us should do something each day, or least once in a while, just for our own selves....mind you, I am not talking about being self centred or selfish here...just that we do something that gives us some pleasure....many-a-times, we (especially women) forget that we have our own loves and choices...all I am saying is we don't forget indulging our own pleasures...doesn't matter what it is- read a book, watch a movie, go on a shopping spree, cook a meal, play a game, sing, dance...as long as it is therapeutic! Like my wise friend at work, V, says: wouldn't a happier me have a better chance of making everyone else around happier too?

Pray (stay connected)
This one I love: Gilbert says don't try to change your personality just for aping someone...of course there are better people around but try to find whats your best trait and enhance it...if God wanted you to have another personality, he would have given it you!..just stay connected with your soul, try be yourself and try to be good, the rest just falls into place!

Love (be open)
Finally, never shut the door on love....you never know when it could come knocking! and I am not talking just the romantic love here...love in all forms and shapes, be it from your parents, your friends, your siblings, your kiddos- is precious!!!Hold on to those delicate strings cause they have the strength to save you should you ever fall!

Sorry folks if this seems like philosophy blabber but I couldn't resist...I absolutely loved the book! My funda in life is exactly the same- pleasure, laughter and a little bit of spirituality. Read the book if you these three things excite you as well!

Happy reading,

P.S. Has anyone else read this book? Wondering what they thought about it!

21 October 2009

Dil Bole Diwali!!

The splash of colour
the sparkle of lamps
the tinkling of laughter
the celebration of joy
the delicious food
the feisty firecrackers
the welcoming of light
the farewell to dark
the celebration of love
the loveliest of times!!!!

This Diwali, N and I sat down with our morning tea reminiscing our childhood memories of Diwali...about the innocent excitement that buzzed through us as kids and everyone else around on the day of Diwali...the rituals, the worships, the rangolis, the lamps, the lanterns, the food, the firecrackers and more than anything else, the people....super-duper times, I say!!! Less than 30 mins into this flashback mode, and both N and I got charged up...we too wanted to 'do something' (overflow of 'kuch toh karte hain yaar' emotions)!!

So here's what we did over the next two days,
~We conjured up an instant version of the utna (this is a Diwali-special, Marathi traditional version of Fair and lovely)...using coconut oil, sandalwood and orange powders :D (hilarious, I know but when you are this far from home and desperate, anything works!)

~N put on some lights, as after all, isn't that what Deepavali literally means? The chain of lights??

~We made masala dudh as offering to Dev Bappa for the Diwali puja

~We went to a nearby Mahalaxmi temple for the Kanakabhishek puja....this is an amazing puja, where they literally do an abhishek of Goddess Laxmi with new (gold-like looking) dollar coins...rumor has it that if you witness the puja, your next 7 generations (at least) wont face poverty (this was my second time of witnessing this puja, does that make my next 14 generations immune??!!)

~We went to a lovely get-to-gether at UBC, where we made new friends and laughed as the kids lit the sparklers (fulbaajis) and enjoyed some of the most amazing food ever!!

~And, believe it or not, I also made some faraal (both the aais were very happy to hear this!)

-the besan ladoos are microwave ones using Bhatukli's recipe...this one is an amazing, super-easy recipe and works really really really well, especially for first timers like me!!..click here to find out more.
-for the chaklis, I followed Chefinyou's recipe...these came out quite well too, considering I made them for the second time in my entire life!..check out the recipe here.

Happy Diwali everyone, I know I aam a little late but I hope you too had a lovely time with your loved ones....may the coming year be full of happiness and prosperity!

Festive wishes,

14 October 2009

Rava Dosa- restaurant ishtyle!

Last Monday, N & I were invited to one of our Bengali friend's house for lunch...anyone who has Bengali friends should know how much these folks love their food (on second thoughts, its not just them...ALL Indians absolutely LOVE their food!!)...anywho, after a bigggg meal of chicken, fish, veggies, rice, cheesecake, misthi doi, N and I were heavy as stones!

Come dinner-time and both N and I wanted 'something light'...so I rummaged the fridge and in keeping with my typical-weekend-fridge-situation, I find no groceries left!!!After a little bit of thinking, I finally decided to use two staples you will always find in my kitchen no matter what...rice flour and rava...and then used them to make rava dosa!!....I love this one because this is a jhatpat recipe (no fermentation involved)...and all you need is a good nonstick tawa/girdle and a clean set of hands!!

For the recipe, I combined two recipes from the blogosphere:
1. For the ingredients, I followed Usha's Veginspirations recipe from here....my tweak to the recipe? I didn't add any flax, instead went with some fresh coconut and cashews to get the restaurant feel
2. For the actual dosa making, I followed Sanjay's VahreVah procedure...interestingly, rava dosa recipe calls for sprinkling of the batter, unlike the typical dosas which involve spreading the batter in a circle on the girdle. Check out the video here.

The final product looked like this....I served it with some coconut chutney:

A closer view

The dosas turned out fabulously light and crispy, just like the restaurant ones...N and I gobbled down quite a few(out went the 'eating light' funda)...and when i asked N how he liked the dosas, he said they were 'totally blogworthy'!!!:D


P.S. I realized yesterday that I haven’t posted anything about food of late (and when the blog name beings with the word ‘Food’, this is just not done!!!)

10 October 2009

Time to say some thanks!

Its Thanksgiving in Canada this Monday...unlike Americans who celebrate Thanksgiving in November, Canadians express their gratitude in October...traditionally, this was an occasion to celebrate the harvest and give thanks for a successful bounty of crops....this Monday, my Canadians colleagues and friends will be enjoying time with their families, stuffing themselves with turkey and pumpkin pies!! Lovely, I say!!

Picture from here

N & I will be celebrating Diwali this weekend....but then its never a bad idea to express your thanks, right?? I strongly feel that in Indian culture, one of the things we lack is sincere expression of our gratitude....while the Western culture is very vocal about the things they are grateful for, we tend to assume that everyone should just know ('whats-the-need-to-say-thanks?-they-should-know-how-I-feel' syndrome).

So here are my top five things I want to be thankful for (in no particular order):

a. N.....my love, my friend, philosopher and guide....Do I need to say anything more?
b. My family, especially mine and N's parents....I could not have asked for nicer parents
c. My work...without which my gray cells would rust
d. My blog....for giving me a platform to express myself
e. My Guru...my spiritual anchor for giving me my inner strength

So many people and things to thank for and so little words!

Whats on your list? Give it some thought...believe me, its worth the effort!


P.S. I am also very very thankful for the long weekend, of course!!:)

20 September 2009

Marathon of Hope: Terry Fox legacy

I believe the difference between ordinary people and legends is how each face life and death....especially the latter....ordinary people cant meet death in its eye, they collapse and plunge into an abyss of despair and pessimism (the 'why-did-this-happen-to-me-only' syndrome) while the legends stare at death in the eye and go on to do such deeds that they continue to live in the hearts and minds of generations that follow even after death takes them over.

To me, Terry Fox is a true legend, a true hero.

Imagine this: It is 1977, you are 18 and come to know that you have been diagnosed with terminally-ill bone cancer in your leg. Cancer research is relatively young and the doctor tells you that the only way to stop the cancer from spreading to other parts of your body is by amputating your leg and fixing you with an artificial prosthetic leg. Its bad enough to know that you have only some time left to live (especially when you are just a teenager) and to face disability in the little life left can be earth-shattering.

But not for Fox...what he did next was unbelievable! He trained himself with the prosthetic leg and began the Marathon of Hope in April 1980- he began by dipping his right leg in the Atlantic Ocean on the East coast of Canada...intending to dip it in the Pacific Ocean when he arrived on the West Coast!!!...He planned to run 42 km (26.2 miles) each day...day after day!!! and he wished that all the money raised along the way to be donated for cancer research...Can you imagine the strength , the stamina, the willpower and most importantly, the goodwill to start this Run??? Sadly, his run was cut short when, 143 days. after starting his quest, it was found that his cancer had metastasized to his lungs...in the meantime, he had run 5,373 km or 3,339 miles!!!! UNBELIEVABLE!!!!

(Picture taken from here)

Fox died soon after at a tender age of 22..but his Marathon of Hope continues to inspire millions of people worldwide....every year, people raise funds for cancer research by participating in the Terry Fox Run...N and I were able to do our bit this year..we helped some some funds and then participated in the Run/Walk last Sunday (we did the 4 kms walk) and hope to go back again next year!

Terry Fox Run 2009, Burnaby

On 11 July 1980, Fox said 'I am not doing my run to become rich or famous. to me, being famous is not the idea of the run. The only important part is finding a cure for cancer. Don't forget that. I am no different that any of you-- I am no better, no worse. You are cheering and clapping for me but if you have given $1, then you are part of the Marathon of Hope. Even if I don't finish, we need others to continue. Its got to keep going without me'.

To me this is a true legend...he led by example..and he left behind a legacy for mankind (not for any country, not for any religion) but for hope...to me, he truly lives till this day!