Sunday, December 18, 2011

Recipe of the month - Vada Sambar

Vada also known as wada, vade or vadai is a very popular savoury doughnut-like snack from South India. It can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner or just as an evening snack along with a steaming cup of coffee. Medu vadas (in pic above) are extremely versatile in that they can be eaten just like that or with a variety of accompaniments. They can also be transformed into the equally popular rasam vada or dahi vada. 

This was one of my first few attempts at making Medu Vada. The shape and contour is not as perfect as I would like it to be but since these bite-sized snacks are so yummy, I have plenty of opportunities to get more practice! The strange thing is that I hadn't bothered trying to make vadas for several years because I was plagued by the notion that it was a very cumbersome affair and required overnight fermentation of the batter and all that. How wrong I was! A chance conversation with my mum on the subject erased my misconception. The urad dal used to make the vada just needs some soaking (ideally 3-4 hours) and after that, you can start to prepare them immediately. Usually, I soak the dal the previous night and then make the vadas the next morning but if I wake up and suddenly decide on impulse to make them for breakfast, I soak the dal for 2 hours in warm water. By the time I finish making the sambar and chutney (while the dal is soaking), the vada preparation can be started. So you see, it isn't really elaborate. 

All those wasted years.....sigh!

One more detail - I used to grind the urad dal for the vada in the mixie but I had to do it in 2-3 installments because my mixie jar is pretty small. It used to take too long so I started using my wet stone grinder for the same purpose - so much easier and you don't have to add much water either. I agree it is a pain to wash but it gets the job done much quicker and with far better results. 

Without further ado....here is the recipe. Hope you like it 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On my reading shelf: The Hobbit

 
The Hobbit is a fantasy novel written by J.R.R Tolkien, a prelude to the hugely successful Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit happens to be one of the best-selling books of all time with 100 million copies sold worldwide (something I discovered only recently). It proudly sits at the fourth spot on the all time bestseller list, just one spot lower than it's famous successor. I have been wanting to read The Lord of the Rings for over a decade now. I even stopped myself from watching the movies on account of not having read the books. An unexpected trip to the Kinokuniya bookstore in Singapore last weekend finally brought an end to this long drawn wait. There I was, pleased as punch to walk out with the entire series tucked firmly under my arm. I was however surprised to see another book in my prized collection. This was a book I had never heard of (I'm embarrassed to admit). After such a long wait, I was not really looking forward to reading a book that did not have the words 'Lord' or 'Rings' in it's title since that was not my original intention.  However, a background check on the Hobbit, made me realize that this was not something to be missed and it would provide a good insight into what I could expect from the Lord of the Rings.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Invigorating Indonesia!

Image source: www.wikipedia.org

Indonesia is the sleeping giant of Southeast Asia. With 18,110 islands (6,000 uninhabited), it is the largest archipelago in the world. Most of what I had read or heard about Indonesia before setting foot in the country largely had to do with the Komodo dragons, tropical forests, numerous islands, frequent volcanic eruptions and other natural disasters. I was very keen on visiting Indonesia as I knew it would appeal to the nature lover in me. This is one country richly endowed with natural resources and this desirable feature coupled with the ethnic, linguistic, and religious diversity within the country probably makes it an interesting destination from a tourist point of view.

So, in this post, I'm going to share with you my travel experiences in Bintan and Bali, two beautiful islands in Indonesia.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Movie Review: Rockstar (Hindi)

Image source: www.bollyspice.com

Rockstar, directed by Imtiaz Ali is a movie I have been waiting to watch ever since I heard it was being made. I have a lot of respect for Imtiaz Ali. He belongs to the younger generation of intelligent and talented directors who are steering Hindi cinema in a new direction. I have loved his previous movies especially Jab We Met. Even though he is known for his 'old-wine-in-new-bottle' brand of cinema, he has the uncanny knack of giving a refreshing twist to any love story. Love stories are his forte and even with a movie titled 'Rockstar' it is evident that he can't stay away from the subject. From the title you might think its a movie is about the rise of an underdog to become a rockstar, but basically, it is a love story with a few rockstar elements thrown in for good measure!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Recipe of the month: Poori and Dum Aloo

During this Deepavali, I was wondering what special dish to prepare. I didn’t feel like making the usual pulav/biriyani so after some deliberation, I decided to go with poori. Poori is a type of deep fried Indian bread that pairs well with almost any kind of dal, subzi or curry. Some people even eat them along with certain traditional Indian sweets as a side dish. There must be very few people in this world who do not like pooris and it is the same in my family as well. Although I generally shy away from making pooris (to keep the waist-line in check!), I do make exceptions on festivals and celebratory occasions. My initial attempts at making pooris almost always used to end in disaster followed by frantic calls home but after a few sessions of consultations with my mum and MIL and several trials, I managed to perfect the ‘skill’ (touchwood!).

I decided to make my most favourite accompaniment to poori which is dum aloo. It beings back a lot of memories because my mum used to make palak poori and dum aloo on special occasions and the aroma that came wafting out of the kitchen was enough to get me and my siblings bolting downstairs for dinner! Although I tried my mum’s recipe in the past, I was not satisfied with the results because it didn’t quite taste like the one she used to make. I always felt something was missing. After that, each time, I would experiment with a different recipe with varying degrees of success.

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is adapted from Tarla Dalal's website. I tried it out after incorporating some minor changes of my own and the result was finger licking good! It had the vibrant color of sunset (yes I know I'm being dramatic!), great aroma and a perfect balance of tanginess, sweetness and spice. The recipe is pretty simple and straightforward. It doesn't call for onions so you can save some of those precious tears! The best part about this recipe however is deep frying the baby potatoes with the skin left on. In the past, all the recipes I had referred to gave instructions to peel the potatoes which can be really cumbersome especially with baby potatoes. It never occurred to me to leave the skins on (duh!). It reduced the preparation time by about 15 mins and the end result was well worth the time spent in the kitchen.  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Golden years revisited: My Favourite Childhood Books

Image Source: iStockphoto.com

As I sit down to write, I often find myself victim of the 'Blank Screen Syndrome' which I'm assuming to be a common affliction that bloggers/writers suffer from. I often have to rack my brains to come up with an interesting blog topic to write about. For me it isn't writing just for the sake of writing. I prefer to write about my experiences or about the things that have impacted/educated/entertained me. Even now, as I'm typing, I swear I have no idea where this post is heading! But you know what....that is the best thing about writing. The words automatically appear on screen as your thoughts begin to unfold. I'm actually glad that I sat down to write because a ghost of an idea just started taking shape in my mind. Yeah, you know what? The more I think about it, the more I want to write about it. Alright, so here goes....this blog post will be dedicated to all those books that made reading enjoyable during my childhood years.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Restaurant review: Marché, Singapore

Source: marche.movenpick.com

Whenever I'm in the mood for some great tasting European cuisine, there is only one place that comes to my mind. Marché is undoubtedly one of my favourite restaurants in Singapore. The reason I love it so much is everything about is so refreshingly different from the usual dining experience. This is a Swiss market restaurant with the concept of on-the-spot cooking using seasonal and fresh produce (the USP of this restaurant). There are two outlets, one in Vivocity and the other at Somerset 313.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Simple tips to a healthier you!

Source: SafeHealthyEating.com

How many times have your eyes wandered to articles in newspapers or magazines telling you how to lose weight? And how many times have you actually followed any of the advice? I don't know about you, but whenever I read articles which suggest that I count calories, keep a food journal, eat 5-6 small meals a day or avoid fried food, I just roll my eyes and think "yeah right....like that's going to happen!".  It just seems so impractical to me. In the hustle and bustle of daily life, managing to eat atleast one healthy meal a day seems like  big achievement. But that said, I do realize how important it is to eat right and exercise on a regular basis. Everybody knows that a balanced diet and regular physical activity are the building blocks of good health. But even though it sounds like a no-brainer, in the context of real life and its demands, it can be difficult to implement. It is much easier to fall prey to unhealthy habits, such as leading an sedentary lifestyle, having infrequent meals and eating junk food. These habits, when consistently reinforced, can become hard to break free. Diet and exercise go hand in hand and are like the two oars of a boat. You ignore either one of them and reaching your destination takes much longer. Sometimes, making healthy food choices may seems less intimidating than exercise but without the exercise, weight loss results are largely underwhelming. Even though the couch does seem the most comfortable place on earth, it is important to get off it once in a while and get your heart pumping. A lot of people do not like working out in the gym (me included). The idea of putting your body through a series of repetitions on a limited range of gym equipment in a claustrophobic environment may be unappealing. I really envy those people who actually look forward to going to the gym! But there are a lot of activities that you can do without having to hit the gym. Running, jogging, swimming, cycling and trekking are great ways to get exercise and can be fun too. It is how you manage to squeeze these activities into your schedule and the consistency with which you practice it is what is important.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Recipe of the month – Vegetable Cutlets


This is another one of my atthe's (mother-in-law's) recipes. It is my go-to recipe whenever I'm in the mood for a spicy evening snack. Vegetable cutlets are a staple on any kind of party menu in my family. In general, they can be made in many different ways using a wide array of ingredients. This recipe uses beetroot which gives the cutlets a beautiful blushing pink color but if you don't care for beetroot, you can just leave it out. The cutlets I have grown up eating have always had a distinctly Indian influence. I guess every Indian household would have their own version. You can play around with different vegetables and spices and tweak the recipe based on your preferences. 

I use beaten eggs to dip the cutlets in before breading them but if you don't wish to use eggs or are vegan, you can easily substitute the eggs with a thin mixture of plain flour and water. 

Here is the recipe. I hope you like this version!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Is fair always lovely?

"I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character".
 
                                                Martin Luther King, Jr.

Fair and lovely? Really?

Let me take you on a trip down memory lane to a time when I was still a teenager. 
It is a nice sunny day in a small city in India. I sit down to watch some television. I think of watching a bollywood movie or some peppy music videos for some entertainment. After a while I realize the only thing I have been able to catch on the multitude of channels are a string of daft advertisements. I get mildly annoyed but carry on channel surfing as always. Then I see it....the advertisement for a 'Fair and Lovely' fairness cream. A dusky, forlorn young girl appears on screen. There is an air of melancholy about her (am I imagining it or are there subtle tints of sepia adding to the dullness?). We see her hopes of procuring her dream job go down the drain when her application to a prestigious flight attendant training institute is curtly rejected. It seems as if she has nothing going for her. Her parents watch over her anxiously, their faces etched with worry. It is quite apparent that they are thinking on the lines of "Alas! What is to become of our dark (and potentially ugly) daughter?". And then, out of the shadows emerges a friend (the incarnation of an angel, minus the halo) and passes her a tube of fairness cream. The dusky girl looks unsure at first but then her expression changes as she is struck with the realization that her destiny is tied to this small tube of white muck. So she religiously applies it everyday....morning, noon and night. We are helpfully shown a color transformation chart with a shade guide as a reference. And then, lo and behold, in a period of few weeks, the ugly duckling has transformed into a beautiful swan! (by the way, at this stage, the sepia tints have been replaced by a glowing luminescence). Her skin is ghostly white and we see a obvious albeit unnatural radiance emanating from her. No prizes for guessing that she also nails the interview to become a flight attendant. The interviewer looks like he has been struck by the "thunder bolt" (I'm quoting The Godfather here), so mesmerized by her "loveliness" that it seems that all she has to do is sit in front of him and flash her pearly whites (which by the way matches her skin tone) to qualify for the job. Her parents are predictably elated and shed copious tears of of joy. Although, the advertisement ends on a happy note, I feel anything but that. On the contrary, I realize that I am quite incensed. Coming back to the present, I don't really know if such ads are still being telecast, but I sure hope to God that they aren't! 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My top 100 movies of all time

A film is - or should be - more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what's behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later.”

                                            
                                              ~ Stanley Kubrick

The all-time classics!


I am the quintessential movie buff. I can watch movies in any language provided they have a good story line (along with sub-titles of course!) I have a tendency to write movie reviews on the movies that leave an impact on me. Off late, I have been trying to expand my movie repertoire by watching movies of different genres from the IMDb top 250 list (http://www.imdb.com/chart/top). Although I enjoyed most of the movies, there were a few that stunned me for making it to the top 250 list (Case in point: Monty Python and the Holy Grail/ Sin City/ The Bog Lebowski. I mean, seriously, is it just me??!). Also, there are quite a few movies that in my opinion are fabulous but failed to make the cut. So, I decided to make my own list! I must admit that I haven't watched all the movies on the top 250 list so I compiled my list with the movies from the list I've seen till now, the ones I think deserve to be on it and the ones I just simply like (for no particular reason). Just for your information, the highlighted movies are the ones which are not on the IMDb top 250 list as of today. 

Let me know what you think of my picks...


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Recipe of the month - Assorted Doughnuts

I have been obsessed with doughnuts for as long as I can remember! I can shun ice-cream, cakes, pastries and cookies without a second thought but when it comes to doughnuts, my brain signals start going haywire. I think it has to do with a variety of reasons: 1. Being a coffee addict, I have a natural affinity for doughnuts 2. I can indulge my sweet tooth without the feeling of uncomfortable heaviness and 3. I get to choose from a variety of decadent toppings. Last weekend, I embarked on the search for the perfect doughnut recipe. I got this recipe from Swapna's Cuisine (http://www.swapnascuisine.com/2009/04/doughnuts.html). For a first attempt, I must say, they turned out pretty darn good! I used a medley of some of my favorite doughnut toppings which include cinnamon, chocolate, sprinkles, vanilla and nuts. I thought I'd share the recipe with you this week. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Movie Review: The King's Speech



Yes yes I know....this movie came out ages ago and here I am writing the review now. I have the lamest excuse ever for watching it so late and that is that I was busy (yeah even I'm rolling my eyes as I'm typing!). Honestly, I really have been wanting to watch this movie ever since I first heard about it. All the Oscar attention made me all the more inquisitive. This weekend I thought why put it off any longer. Armed with a bag each of Garett CheeseCorn and CaramelCrisp popcorn, I sat down to watch The King's speech.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Something about Singapore…

"Oh! How lovely!"

These were my first thoughts as I gazed up at the delightful pink bougainvillea that adorned the numerous overpasses as I rode in a shiny blue cab on the way to my hotel from Changi airport. The year was 2000 and the place was Singapore. The occasion: a family holiday to three Asian tourist destinations - Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore. I recall that Singapore in particular had given me a lot of warm memories (no pun intended!). Little did I know back then that I would call Singapore home for a good part of the next few years.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Book Review: The Inheritance of Loss



"Could fulfillment ever be felt as deeply as loss? Romantically she decided that love must surely reside in the gap between desire and fulfillment, in the lack, not the contentment. Love was the ache, the anticipation, the retreat, everything around it but the emotion itself." 

                                   Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss

The Inheritance of Loss is a novel written by Kiran Desai, an Indian author living in the United States. The novel won her the 2006 Man Booker Prize. This book has been sitting on my bookshelf since the past 3 years but somehow until now, I never got around to reading it. This weekend I made up my mind that I would catch up on my reading. There is nothing that feeds my soul more that a good book! Here are some of my thoughts on the book.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Recipe of the month - Samosa


This weekend, I thought I’d make samosas at home from scratch. I love samosas and usually eat them whenever I’m out at Indian restaurants. I generally feel quite lazy to prepare them at home! On the occasions that I have prepared them at home, I’d take the easy way out by preparing the filling and then use the store bought samosa sheets to wrap them in. This time I thought why not do everything myself. It was not as time consuming as I thought it would be. In fact, I’d say it almost didn’t take much extra time or effort :)

Here is my samosa recipe. This is the way my atthe (mother-in-law) makes them. If you notice, the filling is very simple and I actually prefer it that way. I don’t like a hundred ingredients crammed into a samosa. I also don’t like samosas with fillings that are an alarming shade of yellow or orange! But then again, something like a samosa filling is very subjective so you can modify the recipe based on your preferences. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Social Networking - the good, the bad and the ugly!


"It's not what you know but who you know that makes the difference" 

                                                       -Anonymous

I am a self-confessed social networkoholic! I wouldn't go to the extent of calling myself an addict because I'm confident that I can bear the trauma of all my connections to the world of social networking being severed! Although I must admit that on occasion, I do have to keep myself in check to prevent myself crossing the fine line into addiction. I used to be a member of several social networking sites but when it started eating away my free time (which was not much to begin with), I restricted myself to Facebook. I often wonder how I used to spend the time that I now spend on FB  before I got sucked into it. I think that my life must have been far more productive back then. The worst phase of it was when I was hooked onto a motley assortment of games at the same time. I used to fervently go about tending my make-believe crops, fish and restaurants on a daily or sometimes even hourly basis! But after a while the whole ritual started to tire me out. Not to mention the annoyance at seeing all the invitations and news feeds by similar idle people. I decided from then onwards that I would not waste my time on such pointless applications. For a while after that I began to play more mentally stimulating games like Word Challenge and Geo Challenge but that slowly lost steam as well. On the upside, they did contribute significantly to my vocabulary and geographical knowledge. Hey, I can correctly identify the flag of Lesotho you know....hahahahaha. Anyway, if games weren't enough to distract people from their "real" lives, absurd and trivial status updates are considered useful tools to provide an alternative route of escape. Hey, I'm guilty of that too! I remember that I actually used to call my friends more often and e-mail them from time to time. Nowadays it is just so convenient to just write on someone's wall or send them a message on FB. I often even wish my friends and family for birthdays or anniversaries on FB and then feel guilty about not making a greater effort. After all, its not as if you need to do to jog your memory cells with remembering a friends birthday.....FB will even do that for you! Seriously, it is so tempting to become lazy since the advent of these social networking sites.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Movie review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2)


If you have read some of my previous posts, you will know that I am a die-hard Harry Potter fan. I have read each book more than 4 times and watched each movie umpteen times! The books are far better than the movies though; there is no question about that. I have always felt that a movie can never do justice to a writer’s brilliance. I can’t help but wonder if people who haven’t read any of the books can really understand what’s going on.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Recipe of the month: Ragda Patties






Chaat includes a wide array of savoury snacks, typically served at roadside stalls or carts in India but have over the years (due to their growing popularity), started to appear on the menus of even the most sophisticated Indian restaurants. With its origins in east India, chaat has become immensely popular in the rest of India and even the rest of South Asia. 

Most of my family and friends are major chaat junkies! Though I am not really a hard-core fan, there are certain chaats that I am extremely fond of. One of them is Ragda Patties. The main components of this dish are a shallow-fried potato cutlets and a warm and spicy yellow peas gravy. The potato cutlets are smothered in the gravy, garnished with finely chopped onions, tomatoes, coriander leaves and topped off with a spicy chutney and a sweet and sour date-tamarind chutney.

This dish actually serves as a complete meal and doesn’t take much time to prepare provided you have planned ahead and done the prep work.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mesmerizing Mauritius


Mauritius is an island nation known for its unparalleled scenic beauty off the coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean (east of Madagascar). We had been to Mauritius for a week in October 2008. It was a family holiday that came together after months of planning and discussion as we had to coordinate mine and my husband’s schedules with that of my parents and siblings.

Interesting trivia...

  • The main languages spoken are Mauritian Creole, French and English
  • The currency is Mauritian rupee
  • The cuisine is a blend of Indian, Creole, Chinese and European influences
  • More than 50% of the population of Mauritius is Hindu.
  • Mauritius is renowned for having been the only known home of the dodo bird as a result of which, most souvenir shops in Mauritius bear the image of this bird on their merchandise!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fashion 101

Ok girls, this article is for you! I am not a fashionista by any stretch of imagination. In fact, most of the time, I am quite clueless as to what clothes would be flattering on me! There have been plenty of instances where my dress etiquette has been downright sloppy. However, off late, I am more conscious while shopping and make a lot more effort to pick out clothes, shoes and accessories that are fashionable while being comfortable at the same time. I think it is important to look good. It isn't about being materialistic.....it is just taking the time to look after yourself. After all, our choice of clothing does reflect our state of mind, attitude and thoughts towards a particular event, person or activity. Don't you agree? We always look at celebrities and envy them for their flawless appearance, slender figure and fabulous wardrobe but isn't it their job to look good?! They have the best fitness trainers, dieticians, beauticians, stylists and designers at their beck and call so its no wonder that they manage to look gorgeous all the time. For regular women with careers, families and countless other responsibilities, it is much harder. But with the adequate fashion know-how, you and me can look just as good minus the celebrity tag!  

Saturday, May 7, 2011

To my mom....on Mother's day



"A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie" 
                                                  
                                                       ~ Tenneva Jordan

I love this quote because it is so typical of my mom! Only a mother can exhibit such selflessness. I think it comes as a default trait with the whole "mom" package! I think celebrating mother's day on one day of the year does absolutely no justice to what they do for us on a day to day basis. I can honestly say that my relationship with my mother is one of the most significant relationships I have in my life. On this mother's day I thought I'd write about all the things I love and appreciate about my mom.

Mom, this is why I am grateful that you are my mother...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My bucket list - 101 things I want to do before I die...


"Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans"
                                                      -John Lennon


This week I decided to prepare a bucket list of 101 things I want to do...before I kick the bucket! As morbid as that sounds, I thought I'd better make this list when I'm still in my 20's so I'd still have plenty of time to go about completing it. It's actually kinda fun! I don't think anything on my list is impossible to achieve and even if it does seem that way, I'm hoping that it would motivate me even more to complete it             

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Recipe of the month: Cinnamon Pancakes with Fresh Fruit




I love pancakes and I love fresh fruit. Combine them together and you can never go wrong! Pancakes are delightfully versatile in that you can combine them with a variety of sweet or savoury ingredients and they taste great. The best part about pancakes is how easy they are to make. I am sure there are hundreds of different recipes for pancakes out there but I always stick to this particular one. I have slightly modified the recipe to suit my taste. I make sure to measure my ingredients each time so the pancakes turn out consistently good.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

My great American adventure!




United States of America - The largest and richest 'melting pot' of cultures from around the world



My first trip to the USA was in 2007 and came about after my hubby was sent to Milwaukee  in Wisconsin on work for a year. My second trip was in 2009 when I went as a grad student to present a research paper at a conference in Seattle in Washington. Writing this piece has helped jog my memory and relive all the moments that made both trips truly special.



Here are some snippets of my experiences in USA.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Welcoming our World Champions!

ICC Cricket World Cup 2011
  
As you many have heard before, cricket is not merely a sport in India....it is a religion! We take our cricket very seriously. Probably every little boy in India acquires a plastic bat and ball by the age of three. Drive through any Indian city on a weekend and you will most likely see groups of kids and adults of all ages playing cricket in empty fields, streets, backyards and narrow gullys. It is the only sport we care passionately about and in front of which all other sports take a backseat. Sure, we have an International football and hockey team, tennis greats like Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati, chess grandmaster and world champion Vishwanathan Anand, Olympic medal holding athletes, promising badminton players and our own Formula One racing team....still, when it comes to popularity, all the other sports pale in comparison to cricket. It does seem a tad unfair since the domination of one sport takes away credit from all the other sporting heroes who have time and again brought pride to our country. Cricketers in India enjoy the same level, if not greater popularity than celebrities do. They are always in the news, be it their on-field performance or off-field antics. Having said that, being a cricketer in India is not an easy job for as much praise and honor they are lavished with after winning a tournament, the same intensity of anger and disappointment comes their way after experiencing defeat. They can be worshiped and placed on a pedestal and the very next minute dropped unceremoniously to the ground. Major cricket tournaments always generate much hype and excitement in India. Friends and family get together to watch the match, the streets are devoid of traffic and usually empty, special prayers are performed to seek blessings for the team, the release dates of new movies are postponed and you don't anticipate any power cuts on those days. It goes to such an extent that any knock-out match featuring India in a tournament such as the World Cup which takes place once in four years can have most educational educations and offices declaring half day off!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Movie recommendation - Udaan

Image source: Indiabuzzblog

Udaan is a 2010 hindi movie directed by Vikramaditya Motwane, written in collaboration with Anurag Kashyap. I watched Udaan recently, having never even heard about it until the awards season began. After noticing that it was bagging awards left, right and center, my curiosity got the better of me and I has to see what it was all about. Udaan is a small budget movie with no star cast (most of the actors are from television or newcomers), no exotic locales and no song and dance routine. In other words, it is anything but your typical bollywood fare. That is exactly what makes the movie work! The lack of stereotypes and cliches makes it refreshingly different from all the run of the mill movies that are churned out every year. The simple and realistic approach that the film makers have taken in showcasing the story of an adolescent boy who attempts to break free of all the shackles preventing him from living the life he had always dreamed of is incredibly relatable and heart-warming.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Women's Day - Saluting the spirit of womanhood


"A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water".
                                                                                                                                         - Eleanor Roosevelt

This is one of my favorite quotes on women. For every instance that a woman is ridiculed for being physically weak, impractical, irrational and emotional, there will emerge another who will silence all the naysayers by demonstrating extraordinary strength and resilience in the face of great adversity. I read somewhere that when the question was asked as to why there is no man's day, the instant reply was, "isn't everyday man's day???" I thought to myself how true that statement was! This is a man's world and I don't know if a day will come in the future when that skewed equation will change. 

I consider myself to be a liberal feminist. I believe in equal political, economic and social rights and equal opportunities for women. After all, women are the the source of life, the heart and soul of every family and the emotional backbone of any relationship. It isn't easy being a woman - multitasking, putting everyone else's needs first and juggling different roles and responsibilities throughout a lifetime of constant prejudice and judgment is something our gender can never escape from. In spite of that, I can honestly say that I am proud to be a woman and I wouldn't have it any other way! The bonds that a woman forges during her life, be it the one that a daughter shares with her parents, a mother shares with her child, a sister shares with her siblings or a friend shares with her best friends is something a man can never surpass. Somehow, every relationship gains more depth and becomes more heartfelt when a woman is involved. It is true to a great extent that a woman thinks with her heart rather than her head.....but is that such a bad thing?? Maybe that's just the way the creator intended it to be!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Recipe of the month: Goli Baje (Mangalore Bajji)


Conversation 1

Me: "Hey hon, what snack should I make when we have guests over for dinner this weekend?"

Hubby: "Goli baje"

Conversation 2

Me: "It's one of those rainy evenings....wouldn't it be nice to munch on a fried snack with coffee? What would you like?"

Hubby:"Goli baje"

Conversation 3

Me: "We're leaving to India in a few days. What special dish are you going to ask your mom to prepare for you?" 

Hubby: "Goli baje"

Conversation 4

Hubby: "Babe, you know what you haven't made in a long time?

Goli baje!"

Me: ***rolls eyes***

Now that you've read these snippets of conversation between me and my hubby, no prizes for guessing what his favorite fried snack is! 

Goli baje is popularly known as Mangalore bajji and it is something that is prepared regularly in my family. This is a really simple snack to make and you will find that the ingredients for it are something that are commonly found in every Indian household. So, in addition to being easy to make and delicious, there is the added bonus of not having to rush to the store during those fried food cravings.   

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day - Hip or Hype?


February 14th - Valentine's Day....a day where couples profess their undying love for each other, take out time to do something thoughtful for that special someone and exchange flowers, gifts, chocolates and heaven knows what else. Doesn't it make u think "why couldn't everyday be Valentine's Day?!"

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My favorite movie of all time - The Shawshank Redemption


Source: Wikipedia

The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 movie directed by Frank Darabont starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. I clearly remember the day I watched this movie. It was a lazy Sunday afternoon and all I wanted to do was sit back and enjoy a good movie while devouring a gooey slice of pizza! It was my husband who recommended this one after pointing out that it was number one on the IMDb top 250 movies of all time. When I asked him what it was about, he told me that it was a story set in prison. I frowned and shook my head in disapproval. I thought to myself, "here we go again - another Hollywood drama portraying the gruesome prison scene". He then told me that it was based on a Stephen King novel which actually made me protest out loud! Don’t get me wrong, I think King is an extraordinary writer but horror is a genre in any form of print and media that I absolutely detest. I had already made up my mind that this movie would be cringe-worthy and repulsive…..a premature and unfair assumption I have to admit.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Recipe of the month: Pesto Walnut Pasta



This particular recipe I got while watching Sanjeev Kapoor’s show Khana Khazana one weekend. Although I had never made a pesto sauce before, I decided to give it a go since it looked healthy, simple to make and required only a handful of ingredients. What a winner it turned out to be! You can hardly ever go wrong with it. You get the fresh sweet flavor of basil, aroma of the olive oil, earthy pungency of garlic, the heat from dry red chillies, creaminess from the parmesan cheese, a sweet tartness from the cherry tomatoes and the crunchiness from the walnuts. It has become one of my favorite dishes in recent times and has a special place in my treasured recipe book. This is one recipe for which my hubby will venture out even at the most unearthly hours, to  buy the required ingredients if he craves for it for breakfast the next morning 

This pasta features as a staple item on our weekly menu. I hope you try it out and love it as much as we do!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A tryst with Thailand…

Thailand is one of my favorite countries in Southeast Asia. In so many ways, it reminds me of my home country India yet it has a strong identity of its own. Some things I love about Thailand are the friendly people, great food, fascinating culture and gorgeous beaches. It is no wonder that Thailand is a magnet for travelers the world over.

My first trip to Thailand was more than 10 years ago during the summer of 2000. It was the start of a new millennium and my family and I wanted to do something special to commemorate it. The major chunk of our holiday was spent in Bangkok where we stayed at the Narai Hotel with a few days in Pattaya spent at Siam Bayview. I don’t have pictures of this trip as it took place a long time ago and we were using a film camera at the time! I do however have many fond memories of it. I vividly remember riding the Jet Ski at Pattaya Bay in the scorching sun, admiring the marine life sitting in a glass bottomed boat, spending a relaxing day at Coral island, doing lots of street shopping, enjoying the scrumptious breakfast at Siam Bayview and taking in the splendor of Bangkok’s Grand palace. Everything else seems a bit hazy...another trip would definitely jog my memory! 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Food Network Asia – My current obsession!


Images obtained from Food Network Asia television stills. 
Top row (L-R): Ina Garten, Bobby Flay, Rachael Ray. 
Bottom row (L-R): Paula Deen, Giada De Laurentis, Pat and Gina Neely

Like many people, I believe that cooking is an art. I also believe that food should not merely serve as a fuel for the body but be an ultimate gastronomic experience. Food is one area in which being adventurous can seldom be a bad thing. With cuisines crossing borders and the availability of International food products increasing, there is so much that you can do with food. In today’s times, a large majority of people are on the lookout for jet-set meals because of their hectic lifestyle and home cooking is taking a backseat. It is unfortunate because food cooked at home is healthier, more hygienic and offers an opportunity for more family time.  

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Recipe of the month - Coconut Burfi

You know when you go through transitional phases of not liking certain things to suddenly liking them and vice versa? If there was an Indian sweet that I disliked before but I now absolutely love, it would have to be coconut burfi. This is a festive sweet that many an Indian will associate right from their childhood days. The reason I never liked it when I was younger was because I never fancied coconut that much. Bounty was the only chocolate that I would not eat while I was growing up. The texture and smell of the coconut would put me off. But as I grew up and my tastes matured, I began to appreciate everything about coconut - the natural sweetness, the flaky texture, subtle flavor and its incredible versatility. Coconut in different forms (coconut oil, tender coconut water, coconut milk, grated fresh coconut and dried coconut) has a multitude of uses especially in Indian cooking and is used both to prepare savory as well as sweet dishes. 

Coconut burfi, as its name suggests is primarily made from grated fresh coconut and sugar. Here in Singapore, all I have to do is walk 2 mins to the vegetable market opposite my place and for a paltry sum of 2-3 dollars, the coconut vendor gives me a whole bag of freshly grated pristine white coconut. From here, making coconut burfi is a breeze! I am so spoiled that I don't really know how to grate coconut on my own *grins sheepishly* The best thing about this sweet is that it requires very few ingredients, is easy to put together and tastes delicious. 

This recipe results in coconut burfi that is slightly soft and almost has a fudge-like consistency. Try it and you will be amazed at how simple it is :)