Thursday, December 4, 2014

Looking back with DDLJ

It is a film that has redefined love in Bollywood. A film which has made the sweet love story of Raj & Simran immortal. This is a film that made the paddy fields of yellow mustard as romantic as the snow capped mountains or the flower carpets! And it is the film, which is still running and is completing 1000 week on 18th Dec this year.


This is a film which is a part of my teen years. Just out of school (10th) and landed in a hostel for further studies in the "then big bad world of a bigger city" - Guwahati . I came from a small town - Dibrugarh; my world had been protected and confined to school, tuitions, friends and family. I was scared, nervous and the fact that my room mate was a senior from same college, did not help either. That was one day and this is today when I am looking back and smiling as I type the words.  Few days back the new trailer of DDLJ was launched to celebrate the completion of 1000th week and it brought back a bucket full of memories.


I don't exactly remember which film I had gone to see when I saw big poster of the "Next change". It was a huge poster of paddy full of yellow mustards and no actors. With limited access to TV in hostel, I and my friends were clueless about this film. But in college the " day scholars" or the fellow batch mates who stayed at homes not in hostels like us would talk about the next big film of Shah rukh Khan we would be all ears. Came Friday 20th Oct 1995 and the film was released. It created a huge buzz and the film buffs all of us at the hostel were, we had to see it in the same weekend. So the planning started from Friday evening onwards. With limited pocket money we could not afford to pay the "Blacker". The only option was to make sure that we take the first few places of the queue. The theatre was Anuradha Cinema, one of very old cinema halls of Guwahati and closer to our hostel. Sunday we reached the cinema hall , believe it or not, at 7.30am for a 10am show! I was the first in the queue. There were total 5-6 of us. The sweeper was still cleaning the premises; and while standing in the queue, I was looking at the big poster which was wet! Yes wet. I tried to remember when did it rain last night. It did not. The poster was wet because they had just pasted it. It was the wet glue. All the girls were looking at the poster and giggling. That was the first time and then I have lost the count how many times I have watched this. On TV reruns of course.

And then there was Annie; my hostel mate. Crazy for SRK then and still is a big fan. She insisted I accompany her to one of shows in the following weeks. Since all the shows were going full, we had to again go through all the ordeal of standing in the queue for hours to manage tickets. She had missed coming with us the first time because of some class test. I still remember her watching the film totally engrossed, laughing and crying with Raj and Simran on screen. The most memorable part was when Amrish Puri came to know of SRK's real identity and slapped him real hard. Annie with her long nails squeezed my hand and almost went hysterical in the theatre. I tried to stop her and reason that that was not real. That was a film we were watching and people near our seats were watching us!! Annie being Annie, came out with the response " You are so unromantic". Annie would go crazy for SRK in each frame in this film. Her absolute favourite was when Kajol imagines SRK flashing his dimpled smile and waving his hand at the end of the song " Ho gaya hai tujhko to pyar sajna". If we had mobile phones and laptops those days, Annie would have gone berserk for sure.

But all said and done, that was one of those films which I had watched on big screen. In Dibrugarh, we would hardly go to the theatre to watch films. Dad had got us a VCR and we would get cassettes of the new releases from the neighbourhood Video parlour. The first film that I watched in a cinema hall without " Parental supervision" was Hum Aap ke Hai Koun. Yes, we had gone from hostel. A gang of 12-14girls. That was another story. That unleashed the filmy bug inside me and eventually I started going for films all alone too.


DDLJ was a film which we as 14 year old starry eyed, mills & boon fed generation of girls had watched and re watched. Over the years, the story of the boy and girl meeting during a Europe tour has reached new heights. I mean literally with the SRK and Kajol cut outs on top of Mt Titlis. Well if you ask me honestly, I personally think that's stretching the "fan"hood a bit too far. Anyway, since we Indians go there and get ourselves clicked next to it, no one is complaining.


Here's to my first hostel mates, watery curries of hostel, momos, the boys hotel in front and the  "rival" college's boys hostels which we had to cross to go to the theatre. Incidentally my husband was also one of the boys from the "rival" college staying in one of the hostels.


More power to love, laughter and happiness..DDLJ style.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A promise - To Bring Back the Touch

" Oh God, getting late. P will you please make me some breakfast." I shouted as I finished ironing my dress and rushed to the bathroom. P folded the newspaper he was reading and went to the kitchen without a word. 15 minutes later when I was dressed and ready, I had 4 slices with an omelette and hot coffee in front of me. I hogged in a hurry again. The phone rang. Somebody was getting late for a flight and he requested to get his boarding pass ready. Come on; did not you know you were booked on this flight and keeping in mind the Mumbai rush hour traffic, you should have started accordingly..I muttered under my breath as I dialed the airport manager's number. I just hogged the omlette and 2 slices, took few sips of the coffee and rushed out. I barely uttered "Bye Love" and ran. By the time I was down the stairs my phone rang again. I was speaking on the phone when I hailed an auto and left to the station. It was only when I was about to reach the station I realized I didn't look up as we always do, towards our balcony. I mean, it was an unspoken understanding between us. Whenever either of us goes out he / I would look up to the balcony and wave. Shit..How did I forget that. I so wanted to return but my professional commitments did not allow me to.

That evening when I reached home, I saw P sitting and watching TV. Being a free lancer; P's work hours are not regular. Whole day I couldn't forget I what I didn't do that morning. I was determined to say sorry and make it up by cooking his favourite dish for dinner. When I went to the kitchen I could see the chicken marinated. P said that he would make my favourite chicken that night. Wasnot he upset..I asked. I felt all the more guilty. Why did he have to do that. I almost forgot that that's why I had fallen in love with him. For his patience, his big heart and his forgiving nature. The love of my life, my man. I hugged him tight and said sorry. He held me gently and make me sit at the sofa. We talked and that was after so long that we actually talked. We both realized we needed to slow down. We both needed to find the person in each other that we had fallen in love with. We needed to touch each other. We needed to bring back the warmth to our relationship And most important of all we both needed to support each other in this. We promised each other that we will and we must #BringBackTheTouch that seem to have lost somewhere along the way.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Amla / Amlokhi ( Indian Gooseberry ) Chutney

Since childhood I love Amla or Amlokhi as we call it in Assamese. In Dibrugarh in front of our home there were 2 Amlokhi trees and I, my sister and all our neighbourhood friends would relish those Amlokhis with a pinch of salt. The other fascination was to drink water after having one Amlokhi. The water would taste sweet!

Ma would make Amlokhi Achar / Amla Pickle both sweet and sour and the spicy tangy ones. She would also make dried Amlokhi by cutting them into pieces in order to store them longer and to use them as digestives.
I am not very good at pickles. I did try once to make pickles with Amlokhi. They turned out really well to my surprise. Few days back  I came upon this recipe of Amlokhi Chutney. It was simple, quick and easy. I had to try this out.


3 Amlokhis or Amlas - Indian Goose berries
One handful Coriander leaves
2 green chillies ( I put 1 red and 1 green chilli)
Few Garlic cloves
A small piece of Ginger.
Salt to taste

The Chutney:

Boil the Amlokhis. Once they cool down, remove the seeds. Now put chopped coriander, Amla pieces, chillies, ganrlic cloves and the piece of ginger in the grinder and grind to a smooth chutney. Add salt as per your taste.

I am told, few use raw Amlokhis  too. But I preferred to boil. If used raw, the tanginess will be more.

This is one super easy and very healthy chutney. Since Amlokhis are boiled, can be stored in an airtight bowl like Tupperware for at least 3/4 days. I served that tonight with steamed rice and Assamese fish curry. P loved that. :)


Thursday, October 23, 2014

My Diwali this year

 Amidst the glittering and shimmering lights, I too light a small "Maati Saaki" ( Earthen lamp /diya) and I pray as this small diya lighten up the darkness near the windowsill; this festival of lights to chases away the darkness from my mind, my home and from my loved ones.

I am not bursting any crackers this year. Not even a simple "phool jhari". I wish to keep this Diwali simple only with lights.

The smell of mustard oil burning  in an earthen light is so soothing. It is the smell of those many diwalis of my childhood. I have written about that here

Yesterday while coming from work I found a stray dog sitting ; rather hiding from all the noise; in the stairs of our building. This has never happened. Even though there are many stray dogs in the neighbourhood , I have not found one coming inside the building in my last 2 diwalis spent here. It looked so scared as it looked up to me as if to plead not to chase him away. I felt guilty! Many are bursting crackers everywhere. I cant stop them. But there is something I can definitely do; I myself am not bursting any crackers.

I look out of my window and see those flickers of lights everywhere.  I revel in this festival of lights.

May this light spreads to all the corners of the world.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Diwali of Love, Light and Life

Have you seen the wonderful film made by Pepsi ?

#GharWaliDiwali ..Yeah Ghar Wali, the one spent at home, with family.

I came across this last night. The daughter who is now a wife and a mother, her parents who are now left with the memories of many diwalis of her growing up years; who now see , "touch and feel" their daughter's presence through video calls! This lovely film brought back so many memories. Memories of a childhood spent in a quiet sleepy little town tucked in the North Eastern part of the country, Dibrugarh. Of course Dibrugarh is no longer the little town it used to be; but my and my siblings childhood were spent here. Dibrugarh plays an important part in our lives and will always remain.

Our dad was not good at showing or expressing his emotions. Busy with his work, he would often forget our birthdays and at times which standard we were in! We ; I and my younger sister and brother. Ma would make it up. Being the wonderful cook she is, she would cook up a storm in all festivals, birthdays or just impromptu girls gang get-togethers in our teen years. In an Assamese family Diwali was not celebrated like the way it was celebrated in Northern or North Western part of India. No special sweets or laddoos were made. We did that during Bihu, the mail festival of Assam. In fact in Eastern India, during Diwali Goddess Kali is worshipped; not Goddess Lakshmi ! For us Diwali was more of a festival of lights and crackers and having fun with neighbours.

In Dibrugarh, we had a big house with a big kitchen garden. During Diwali dad would ask Madhu, our house help those days, to get a Banana tree ( which is actually a stem) cleaned and decorate it with bamboo hollows cut into 2. That decorated Banana tree/stem would be placed near our gate. In the evening Ma would get the diyas ready on the dining table. We used to light small earthen diyas ;  maati saaki as they are called in Assamese. I and my siblings would get busy in rolling cotton and then filling up the diyas with mustard oil. In big plates we would get the diyas and place them one by one on those bamboo hollows which were embedded into the banana tree. And then as darkness would fall, we would start lighting the diyas one by one. Madhu would help in lighting the diyas placed on top. The gate would be thrown open. Every house in the neighbourhood would light the same earthen diyas.  All our friends would go from one house to another to see the lights.Our small neighbourhood would lit up like a star.

Then came the fun part. Bursting crackers. Dad always maintained that too much of noise and air pollution must be avoided. He would get us very basic stuffs like phool jharis , flower pots , chakras, twinkling wires etc. He would get us those small red phataka which in Assamese we referred to as "Jolokia bomb". Jolokia meaning chilli as they resembled long thin red chillis! No big sky rockets or those fancy sparklers which burst into a big bouquet in the air; as he would say that those sky sparkles might fall on  someone's thatched roof and it might lead to disaster. Not that it never happened. There was a colony of people near our area, who mostly had thatched roofs. In one such case, a family had lost all their belongings. And guess what; almost every neighbor uncle would say the same thing to his children and we all would end up with similar crackers. Talk of being dad!

I and my sister were scared of bursting those jolokia bomb or red chilli phatakas. Our brother was even smaller. Again Dad to rescue; he asked Madhu to cut a bamboo piece into 4 sticks. Then there would be a small cut in one end of the stick. You were supposed to hold the stick from one end and fix a Red Chilli Bomb in between the small cut in the other end and then light it. Simple. Its safe ,far from you and you also had the fun of bursting a bomb! Much like the way these days people carry those fancy sticks ( sorry but I don't know what they are called) to place their mobile phones or small cameras to click selfies.

Spread the Light...!
Our family albums are full of Diwali photographs. Over the years, we moved to a bigger city; eventually sold off that place and settled in Guwahati. Then slowly we; I, my sister and my brother, all started moving out. First for higher studies, then job and then finally marriage. As dad would say " leaving the nest to fly into the horizon". The cities got bigger; but the houses got smaller. While studying in Gwalior, I celebrated hostel Diwali. While working in Delhi,I celebrated Diwali with room mates and friends. Now in Mumbai its with husband. In Diwali, we try to be at home together. I still light up few maati saaki / earthen diyas. I try to make sure they do not get lost in the glittering, shimmering lights pouring in from all over. And then of course the Kandil. Every year for last 3 years, we both would go and get a Kandil for our home. That's now a part of my #GharWaliDiwali.

Dad left us 9 years ago. Thank you PepsiCo for this wonderful little film for taking me back to those many diwalis from my childhood.

May this festival of light spread love and togetherness everywhere.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

My Quick Fix Dinner of Super Simple Pasta Salad

Whenever I am home alone; my dinner becomes a quick affair. It's not that our dinner is an elaborate 3 course meal everyday. But being alone doesn't make me want to spend much time in the kitchen. Hence tonight its my real quick fix Pasta Salad for dinner.

How I  made it :

Boil the fusilli pasta in salt water for 7-8 minutes. ( Any pasta can be used. I had fusilli so I used that) Don't over boil or else the pasta will be soggy.

Let it cool completely.

Cut one Red bell pepper, One tomato and One cucumber into cubes.

Mix with the Fusilli. Sprinkle some freshly chopped coriander over it.

The Dressing :

This I consider to be the real game changer in this super simple pasta salad.

Mix one tea spoon of sugar into 3 table spoons of white vinegar.
Once the sugar gets dissolved completely, add a pinch of salt.  Salt can be adjusted as per your taste.

Now add 3 table spoons of Olive oil, dry oregano and black pepper powder / or freshly crushed black pepper. Mix everything thoroughly.

Pour this dressing into the salad and toss well.

Taaa daaa simple quick pasta salad is ready.

It is the sweetness of sugar against the sourness of Vinegar and a pinch of salt that I love in this salad dressing.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Fragrance to remember

It was a sudden decision like many of our trips and we decided on Kochi; Fort Kochi to be precise. Kerala in Monsoon; officially "off season". Got out tickets booked, applied for a day's off and reached the airport. A quick search in the ever dependable tripadvisor showed so many options of bed and breakfast in Fort Kochi. We zeroed upon Walton's homestay. There was something about the place which clicked. Yes even in the small screen of the phone. P made a call to the place to check availability and also to ask was it ok if we took a pre paid taxi from airport to Fort Kochi. A very cordial but firm voice said, rooms were available and advised us to opt for the AC bus from Airport to Fort Kochi rather than paying Rs.800 to the taxi.The voice also informed that since he didn't have commission paying policy to autowalas and cabbies, they would not know his place. If you ask us honestly, that made us confident of our choice as it showed the owners faith on what he offers to his visitors.
We landed in Kochi at 1pm. There it was, the AC bus waiting to carry passengers to Fort Kochi through the city of Ernakulam. Fare - Rs.70 per head.The bus takes about an hour to reach Fort Kochi from Kochi International airport which is about 45 KM. The Bus dropped us at the Kochi bus stand which is merely 5minutes walking distance from Princess Street.It is on Princess Street, Walton's homestay is located.
At the reception we were greeted by the man behind the voice we spoke in the morning ; Mr. Walton himself. He assured us that he was giving us the best room. Out of the 9 rooms, only 2 - 3 rooms were occupied as it was not the Tourist season.We got a room on ground floor which opened directly to a very well kept garden. Because of the rains, everything around was green and fresh. We entered the room and a very striking and sweet aroma of Lemon grass welcomed us. It was such a pleasant surprise! In our previous experiences, we had been to Inn or hotel rooms with all sorts of smells; mostly the strong room freshner and sometimes even the damp smell of carpets and walls.The room's flooring was wooden and the house keeper informed that they used Lemon grass oil while mopping the floor to keep the mosquitoes at bay.The room was big, airy and very very well kept. We stayed there for 3 nights. Every day they would clean with the same oil.

The town of Fort Kochi was under Portuguese, Dutch and British rule in different points of time. The whole town still has the remnants all over. We decided to discover the city on foot.Heard that during tourist period, one can hire bicycles too. One day we went to see the Jew Town and Mattancherry palace. Mattancherry palace or the Dutch palace. The Dutch palace was originally built by the Portuguese and was gifted to ruler of Kerala. Later it fell into the hands of the Dutch and they revamped it. The walls inside the palace are adorned by some superb murals. in the Jew town, there is the Jewish Synagogue which is now considered to be the oldest among all the synagogues in the commonwealth of nations.

Chinese Fishing Nets

We never wanted to hurry and go everywhere the tourism brochure mentions just to strike off the place. We walked, sat in the cafes, sat by the beach,enjoyed the fishing sessions in the evenings and mornings. After 3 wonderful days, we took the bus to airport again.

It remains one of our memorable trips. That sweet aroma of Lemon grass still lingers whenever we remember this lovely little unplanned trip. Some memories are forever. This is one of them.

A host of fragrances


Sunday, July 13, 2014

For the love of Food- Potluck at Prims

There is no sincerer love than the love of food..Said GB Shaw and I being a food lover, cant agree more. This love becomes even intense and interesting when you have like minded friends. For our love of food, we decided to meet for a Potluck lunch on a weekend. The potluck was planned a month ago. Only condition, everything has to be home cooked. A whatsapp group was created, date chosen,menu decided, venue fixed. We 4 girls were to meet at Prim's place at Wadala. 

This year Mumbai Monsoon arrived a month late. Entire June went without rains and on almost everyday in July, it poured and poured. On the D day which was yesterday 12th July it was no different. To confess honestly looking at the non stop rains, for once I thought of ditching it. But then we all had decided a month ago, I was infact the initiator, how could I back out at the last moment! Not done and aren't I glad that I didnot do that. 

The moment we entered Prim's home, the dining table was set for the grand spread. The mood for fun and food was set with this colorful table.

The menu was continental. Prim made the starter, Cream of Chicken and Mushroom soup. Shob made garlic bread. No she did not bake it. But to turn a regular brown bread to garlic bread, you need to work on that. She did and did that wonderfully. 

Garlic bread with Cream of chicken & Mushroom soup
With the rains pouring outside, we gorged on an awesome spread talking about a dozen things. The main course comprised of a whole chicken roasted and baked basa fish with potato wedges and sauteed beans. The roast chicken was by Gits who is a super duper food enthusiast and an upcoming chef who specialises in delicacies from North East India. The Roasted chicken with onions and herbs was the show stopper for sure.

Roast Chicken
 By the time we finished gorging on the soup, garlic bread and the chicken we were full. So we took 15 minutes break before hitting the dining table for the fish. Yes, I prepared the fish. Its simple quick and easy. Fillet Basa in olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and dill with a hint of butter. I used the oil only to grease the baking dish.

Baked Basa and Potato wedges with sauteed Beans
As per my regular weekend ritual, I even took a small afternoon siesta too. Come on, now this is one luxury people like me could afford only in weekends and holidays. It was time to wind up the fun get together. The gracious hostess made us Kashmiri Kahwas. Shob had got some brownies too. A fitting end to a wonderful Saturday potluck. 

Kahwa and Brownies. Pic by Prim.

Food brings people closer and I so strongly believe that. Here's to many more get togethers; potlucks or otherwise....Cheers!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Ek din Zindagi ke naam

It was planned that I would be in Delhi during the weekend of 21-22June. Then Husband dropped the bomb that he would be working full day on Saturday 21st June. Now that's wrong. What do I do in Delhi on a hot summer Saturday in June? As a blessing from the skies there landed a mail from IndiBlogger in my inbox informing about a interactive session with the team of the new Channel which was to be started from Monday. Zindagi from the family of Zee. The uniqueness of this channel - It will show some wonderful stories from across the border; from Pakistan. This meet was to be held in both Mumbai and Delhi simultaneously.Howzzat. In Delhi the venue was Taj Palace hotel in Man Singh road.

I registered myself for Delhi meet. Even though I was slightly apprehensive at first as I didn't know anyone in Delhi whereas in Mumbai many of my blogger friends would have attended. But then it reminded me of the day when I went for my first IndiBlogger meet without knowing anyone and now I have some really lovely bunch of fellow bloggers as friends.

The event started a little late. But please donot let that dampen your spirits. We were connected with the bloggers in Mumbai by a huge screen. Nihal, from IndiBlogger Delhi and Anoop from Mumbai did a wonderful job of connecting the bloggers from both the cities. There was a fun debate. The perennial debate between Delhiwale and Mumbaikars.
Q.Which city has the best public transport? ; Which city has more number of good looking men; Which city has the best weather.
Both Delhi and Mumbai came up with interesting details in support of their respective cities. All the while everyone had loads of fun. I, for one, a Mumbaikar sitting amidst Delhiwalon was having a good laugh.
Then came the creative head of Zee Zindagi TV and came along with her one of the lead actors from Pakistan Imran Abbas.   We all can surely hear the loud welcoming given to them all the way Delhi. Also joined us on the screen was Ms. Sultana Siddiqui. A very respected and well known TV producer and director. It was really wonderful to hear them talk about the life and the stories inspired by life in our neighborhood country with whom we share a bitter sweet relationship. Imran Abbas sang " Dharti sunehri" from Veer Zara which said so much of both the countries. While looking at the promos of the serials from Pakistan, one thing which I find heart warming is that we are so strikingly similar. They just look, talk , walk, wear, eat just like the way we do. There was no need of dubbing the serials because we speak the same language.

Few weeks ago I had the opportunity to watch a very wonderful little film called " Filmistaan" There the protagonist Sunny Arora who got kidnapped by terrorists by mistake and has been kept a hostage in one of the villages there says " Kaisa pata chalta ke Pakistan main hoon. Ghar, rehna, khana sab same hai" ( How would I know that I was in Pakistan. The homes, living, food everything is same)
That's what I felt when I saw the promos of the serials from across the border. Everything is same!

Zindagi comes with the message of Joday Dilon Ko - to unite the hearts.I hope Zindagi manages to bring a "Aman Ki Aasha " between the two countries and unite the hearts someday.

Another reason to watch the channel and serials : they end in 25-26 episodes. Beat that!!


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Being A Global Vegetarian

I admit I am not a Vegetarian. I love fish specifically river fish. I am from Assam where fish is considered a " regular vegetable" to have with either lunch or dinner every day. Besides that, I love Chicken and Duck too. Red meat I have to avoid because of my health reasons. Having said that, I also admit that I do not consider people who donot eat fish and meat as a bunch of losers. I respect their food choice and I expect everyone to respect mine.

My kitchen experiments have not been limited only to Non Vegetarians dishes. Proof - All links in my page " My Experiments in the Kitchen " Last week I got hold of the book " The Global Vegetarian " published in India by Body and Soul Books of Leadstart . The book is a compilation of Vegetarian dishes from across the Globe by 3 enthusiastic ladies -  Mridu Shailaj Thanki , Juhee Prabha Rathor and Vandana Shailaj Thanki. As mentioned in the gist outside of the book - " This book brings together international flavours, foods, and cooking techniques , culled from the world travels of the three authors and their passionate interest in gastronomy , one of the finest spices of life....This vegetarian collection of delicious dishes is an integral part of the mainstream, culinary experience."

The Global Vegetarian

In the Introduction of the book the authors provide a glimpse into what to expect as one turns the pages. They very honestly admit that the book " provides neither an extensive nor an exhaustive list of vegetarian recipes. It is simply a selection of dishes we consider an appropriate reflection of various places and people,and the food they relish, as we have come to do" The recipes can be placed in 3 categories.

1. Travelogue recipe
2.Recipes from our doorstep
3.Recipes of creative imagination

For anyone who goes through the book and find the ingredients unfamiliar and hence hesitate to try it out, please do not worry. The book provides the Techniques and has a list of Tips & Suggestions. This sure helps amateurs like me. They even have listed a glossary on select ingredients. This helped me in finding out what was required or atleast the close substitute.

I have started with one recipe at a time from this book. Today I have made ShakShuka for breakfast. This is a popular dish in the Mediterranean, parts of Middle East and some North African countries. Shakshuka is eggs in a savoury tomato sauce.

Here is the simple recipe for you.


1 each of red and yellow capsicum, finely chopped.
1 small onion finely chopped
4 - 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp sugar
A small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp paprika
200 gms canned tomatoes, chopped.
2 -3 eggs
Salt as per taste
Feta cheese ( optional)


Warm the oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the onions, peppers and garlic and sauté until they are soft but not brown
Add in the chopped tomatoes, paprika, salt and sugar. Stir and then simmer over low medium heat for10 - 15 mins. Stir occasionally until the mixture becomes a thick but still runny sauce.
with the back of a spoon, create a couple of shallow dips in the sauce and crack the eggs in to the dips. Do not stir. Cook and cover for 4 min, until the egg yolk become semi - firm.
Remove from heat, sprinkle with parsley and feta cheese ( if using) Serve with either some crusty bread or warmed pitta pieces.

That's my version without the greens..sorry but I didn't have any parsley or coriander in the my fridge today!

My version of Shakshuka
Although I would have loved had there been actual images of the dishes prepared rather than illustrations,  I do not miss them while going through the recipe. In a way it eased me off the tension of matching the perfect photograph of the final dish.

I will surely be trying out many dishes from the book. I will keep sharing them in my blog.

Priced at Rs. 399, this book will surely help you, if you love to experiment with Global cuisine in your kitchen.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Raw Mango Juice / Aam Panna

This year the heat is getting unbearable. I think I say that every year! But this summer Mumbai is turning to a furnace. In my endeavor of avoiding bottled juices and any kind of aerated drinks, I had to stick to Nimbu paani. Other juices like water melon,mausambi etc need time prepare. Lazy me , peeling, cutting, swicthing on the juicer every time I want to have a glass of Water Melon juice seem too much. I would prefer something which can be stored for atleast 4 - 5 days. So oneday I decided to try Aam Panna or raw mango juice. This one is one of my favourite summer drinks too.
I checked with one of my colleague how she makes Aam Panna at home. She shared the recipe of her mother. I tried the same. Trust me it is easy to prepare and tastes super.
Here's the recipe :
One kilo Raw Mango - I got 2 big sized Mangoes weighing a kilo.
2 Cups of Sugar or same amount of jaggery.
One table spoon of salt.
50 gm black pepper
20 gm cumin seeds
Few mint leaves.
Wash the mangoes thoroughly. Put them in the pressure cooker and cook till 2 whistles. Let them cool.
Dry roast the cumin seeds and black pepper for 3-5 mins.Crush them in a mortar using the pestle or you can give a quick whirl in the mixer too.
Now back to the cooled and boiled mangoes. Scrape the mango pulp completely. Mix the sugar or jaggery and salt into this and mix well with a spoon.
Put this mixture into the blender, pour a cup of water, put the mint leaves and whirl into a smooth paste. Mix the spice mixture of cumin seeds and black pepper in this and give another quick whirl making it even a finer paste. Taadaa..your aam panna is ready.
Dissolve 3-4 tea spoon of aam panna with into a glass of water and enjoy the cool drink completely chilled.
The Chilled Glass of Aam Panna
Alternatively , if there is anyone in the family with sugar and jaggery restrictions, dont add either. Later while preparing one glass, a tea spoon of sugar can be added into the water always.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Dove Play Date

The time was set for 3.30pm; the venue JW Marriott; the date 11th May and The Event - A play date with Dove for the bloggers. Organised by Dove and Indiblogger. Fun part - Its ONLY for girls!!

So there I was along with 100+ other beautiful women bloggers, all in whites; different shades of it!! Few of the bloggers were flown in to Mumbai by indiblogger team from other cities like Kolkata, Indore, Delhi too. That's so cool. I even got to tweet from the Dove official handle too.

The event started with registration and we were handed over the itinerary and a ribbon mentioning team numbers. I along with 2 of the lovely ladies whom I had just met there got the same Green coloured ribbon with Team 1 mentioned.At least we knew 3 of the members of Team 1. The activites began with the emcee on stage dividing the teams officially. We had to name our groups in hairstyles and we named our Team 1 as Waves. And the fun evening began.

The stage is set

2 Zoomba instructors took the stage and urged all of us to join when they swayed to perfection. What energy.... what moves. Most of us were doing Zoomba for the first time and we all managed Oppa Gangam Style. The mood was set; everybody was geared for some fun. The first game was Hoola Hoop; which I failed miserably but had absolute fun trying. We found and threw white Dove balls among pools of colourful balls;tried our hands at hair styling each other; race against time to complete the pieces of a puzzle. We laughed, giggled , behaved like little school girls out on picnic.

After all these, we got our hairs pampered by the Dove hair stylists. Sipping into a glass of White Wine I got my hair done. Bliss.

The Team 1 -- Waves

Then there was an announcement of another fun activity by the poolside. The poolside At JW Marriott is the place to be during evening. One member of each the teams had to make a drink and name it. The in house Bartender gave us tips on mixology. Full on Mixology gyaan, we all enjoyed the fun contest to the core.
Now again back in the main hall. Dinner was served. JW Marriott put a wonderful buffet with a live pasta counter. The Bar was open too. It was the time to enjoy food, drink and wait for the announcement of the winning team. The prize vouchers of Rs. 5000 for each of the 10 team members. Team 2 won as we all cheered on. Well deserved I must say.

As we all were sitting back just sipping our glasses of cocktail or with the dessert plates; there was a flash mob. Whoa..few girls went to the middle of the hall and started dancing to Pharrel Williams' "Happy"..Girls..Weren't we happy to clap along like a room without a roof.

Clap Along Happy
Kudos to team Dove and team Indiblogger for such a wonder event. They even took care of the transportation back home too. Thats not all; while leaving we were handed over a lovely goodie bag with Dove products, a hair straightener, Indiblogger Tee shirt and a cute Dove pin. Thank you so much for this lovely Play Date.
The Goodies :D

I reached home happily singing. Husband loved my hair style and I loved the look on his face.
I declared " Yes it is Dove !"

Sunday, April 13, 2014

My Big Leap in Baking - A Stromboli

All this while I was taking those baby steps in baking; but this time I gathered up the courage to take a big leap and try out Stromboli. A stromboli is a turnover sandwhich / pizza which is filled with various cheeses - as described by Wikipedia. This for someone like me was a big experiment as that also happen to be husband's birthday. He was working since 7am till 11pm. I decided to make something different , something special for dinner and tried out stromboli.

I opted for whatever was available in the kitchen and hence the filling was vegetarian.


Mix one tea spoon of sugar and one tea spoon of salt in warm water. The water must not be boiling hot.
Once sugar and salt are diluted, add one and half tea spoon of dry yeast and stir the water vigorously. Keep this aside for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, the water will be foamy and a smell will start coming out of it. This is the sign that the yeast is active now.

Mix either refined flour / Maida or Whole wheat flour or equal mixture of both in the Yeast - water mixture and kneed to a smooth and soft dough. I used one cup of whole wheat flour and one cup of refined flour each. If the dough is too sticky, put some more flour till it comes to a smooth consistency. Pour 2 tea spoons of Olive oil on the dough and kneed for 2 - 3 minutes. Now cover the dough by a clean muslin cloth and let it rest for 1 and 1/2 hours in a warm and dry place in the kitchen.


Boil 2 - 3 medium sized potatoes and mash them. Cut yellow and green bell peppers into small cubes. Saute one thinly sliced onion in some oil and add the cut peppers in it. Once the vegetable cool down add the mashed potatoes, some salt, some black pepper powder and mix well.If you have paneer, that can be used too. Similarly chicken or mutton can also be used as filling.


After 1 and 1/2 hours, the dough will rise to twice the size. Put your fist into the dough to let the air out. Do this atleast 3 - 4 times. Now separate the dough into 3 medium sized balls. 2 if you like the crust thick and 3 if you prefer a thinner crust. Use a rolling pin to roll out one ball into an oval shaped roti. Maintain even thickness in this step. Spread tomato pasta sauce or mayonnaise in the middle of the oval base. Keep the sides dry. Pour the filling in the oval shape and grate a cheese cube on it. Use a butter knife or a table knife to cut the sides of the oval base. Cut diagonally about 1 inch each stripe. Now gently fold the stripes over the filling in a criss cross manner. I used a beaten egg to glue one stripe on the other. One can use milk too. 
Ready to go to oven
Now brush the beaten egg over the stromboli and sprinkle some white sesame. I forgot the sesames in the first one. 

Pre heat the oven in 200 C for 20 minutes. Place the stromboli in the baking tray over a parchment / butter paper or a silver foil. Bake it for 20 minutes at 200 C. Take it from the oven and let it cool for 5 - 7 minutes before serving. 

With my dough I managed 2 full sized strombolis and one small one. The whole house was smelling of freshly baked pizza and i was extremely excited with the result. When husband got home and on dinner table he saw these, he gaped at me with surprise and sheer disbelieve that I managed to bake strombolis at home.That was for him on his special day. That look on his face made all the effort worth. I feel more confident with the OTG now. Do try this out and share your feedback / suggestions. 

The Final 3.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Bad Touch by Payal Shah Karwa

It could have been a Saturday like any weekend when  husband has work and I spent the weekend home alone, doing nothing much but still be super busy in doing nothing! But yesterday was a different saturday. Though I get to know about few bloggers meet in the city, I never had the chance to attend one. But this one caught my attention. The event was Preview of a book called "The Bad Touch". Written by Payal Shah Karwa, The Bad Touch talks about the sensitive issue of Child Sex Abuse ( CSA) and tells the stories of survivors like Harish Iyer, Amrita Purkayastha, Anurag Kashyap and few others Divya ( alias)Lata(Alias) Nidhi ( Alias) and Mrunalini ( Alias). The book also shares some practical information and technical guidelines for parents sourced from the NGO Arpan . So I was there on a Saturday afternoon at Cafe Infinito, Bandra Kurla Complex looking forward to an interactive session with the author and fellow bloggers.

Payal Shah Karwa
Photo courtesy : Dwitiy Revankar

The event was moderated by Kiran Manral and in the discussion were Payal, the author, Harish Iyer, noted social activist and Puja Taparia, Founder and CEO of Arpan; who offers a helping hand to victims of CSA and is trying to create awareness towards the same.In attendance was a large group of bloggers from across Mumbai. The session was highly interactive and insightful.

Kiran, Payal,Harish and Puja
Photo courtesy : Dwitiy Revankar

Child Sex Abuse - is a very touching and a highly sensitive issue.The author spent almost 5 years in researching and preparing the stories for this book. This meant treading  on a very slippery path, as she had to deal with individuals who went through such harrowing experiences that one may not ever imagine. To ask them about those could lead to the opening of a flood gate which may threaten the present. For obvious reasons, many people did not want to share their real identity. There are others like Harish Iyer , Anurag Basu and Amrita Purkayastha who suffered but not only survived but thrived from their experiences. They are no more victims but they emerged victorious from the agony. 

When asked why she decided to write a book on such a subject, Payal replied that she wanted to write about something which is socially relevant rather than fiction or romance. Harish Iyer was also her inspiration when she met him for the first time in 2006 in a Child Sex Abuse awareness programme and learnt about CSA and the man himself. In her own words  " I was looking to write a book about a real story which would add value to the society and millions around the world. Child Sex Abuse was an issue which was grossly being ignored by the Government,the Law and Society as a whole. I chose to write on CSA inspired by Harish Iyer and his story."

Harish Iyer
Photo courtesy : Dwitiy Revankar

The stories in the Bad Touch shock and at times numb the reader. The book also tries to equip the guardians or parents with sufficient and necessary information to fight against this menace. 
This is the time to talk,share and create awareness about CSA. Donot hesitate to point out if you think something is wrong in the relationship between a child and the care taker, be it a parent, grand parent, relatives and anyone around.Raise your voice. Educate your child or any child you know of about the good touch , the bad touch; the safe touch, the unsafe touch; the right touch, the wrong touch. Teach them to protest and thus protect themselves.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Eggless Ragi Cup cakes

My confidence in baking is increasing every time I bake something; be it cakes or vegetable or fish. Along with it , the number of experiments are also increasing. Today I tried baking Eggless Ragi flour Cup Cakes.
Ragi Flour,also known as Finger Millet or Nachni is much healthier than refined flour or maida.

Here goes my recipe

One small teacup of ragi flour
One small teacup of sugar or one can use sugar free as per taste.
One tea spoon of baking powder
One pinch of baking soda
One tea spoon of Cocoa powder.

Half a cup of oil ; I used Ricebran oil.
Half a cup of milk ( in room temperature) 

Mix all the dry ingredients together.Add the oil and mix the ingredients. Once oil is mixed well, pour in the cup of milk. Now beat the mixture thoroughly until it is smooth and runny. Keep aside.

Pre heat the oven at 180C for 10mins. 

Now grease the cup cake mould and place the paper cups. If you have a silicon mould, then the mixture can be poured directly into the mould. Mine is an aluminium cup cake mould. 
Please do keep in mind that the whole cup must not be filled up as the cakes will rise. Just fill up half of the cup cake moulds and put in the oven for 15 minutes at 180C.

Once done check with the toothpick test. If done, let it cool and serve.

Eggless Ragi Cup Cakes

PS : I put 1 or 2 pieces of dry fruits in the cup cakes. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

My High Five in Malaysia

       For everyone who has been bitten by the travel bug, certain places on the planet find a place with BOLD letters in their wish list and I am so sure that Malaysia features in each one of them. If you ask me, Malaysia features not in just BOLD letters but in BOLD RED letters and yet I haven’t had the chance to visit this magnificent country! Such is life. But does that stop me from dreaming about the things that I wish to do once I land up there; of course not. So here goes my wish list of what I look forward to in Malaysia.

1                    Cameron Highlands, Pahang : I come from that part of India which is known to the world for tea. Yes, Assam it is. Tea in THE drink at my household. Naturally Cameron Highlands is one place I wish to experience in Malaysia. Located in the Titiwangsa Mountains, Cameron Highland is almost the size of Singapore. The beautiful cool climate allows lot of plantations around this area; mainly Tea, Strawberries, flowers and vegetables. Roam around enjoying the vegetable gardens or the strawberry fields; watching colourful butterflies. One can also just enjoy his/her cuppa and sit looking at the picturesque tea plantations blanketing the undulating hills. Imagine a sunset beyond the lush green acres of tea plantation on the slopes of the hills.

        Melaka City, Melaka : To know about the country well, look back to her past and where else in Malaysia than this UNESCO World Heritage City of Melaka or Malacca. The is the city which was once the capital of Malacca Sultanate and the centre of the Malay world in the 15th and the 16th century. Centuries of colonization by the Portuguese, Dutch and the British culture have influenced the architecture of the town which is visible in landmark building around the town like the Portuguese “A Famosa” and the Dutch “Stadthuys”.  
Source :

       Batu Caves:  This famous limestone cave temple with the 140 feet high statue of Lord Muruga is one temple I want to visit in my lifetime.  Not that I am a very devout Hindu with regular visits to temples, but this one with 272 steps to the main temple cave is one Hindu temple outside India which I would love to go. This is the centre of Thaipusam Festival in Malaysia where thousands of devotees carry milk as offering to their Lord Muruga in colourful kavadis.

     Sarawak Cultural Village, SarawakThis village known as the “ Living Museum”, showcases the rich cultural heritage of Sarawak. Located in the foothills of the legendary Mount Santubong, this award winning living museum is wholly owned by the Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) depicts the heritage of the major racial groups in Sarawak and conveniently portrays their respective lifestyle amidst 14 acres of tropical vegetation. Here, it is possible to see Sarawak's ethnic diversity at a glance. 
The village residents provide information on their various traditional cultures and lifestyles. One can see replicas of buildings that represent every major ethnic group in Sarawak; longhouses of the Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu, a Melanau tall-house and a Chinese farm house among others. 
Source :

       Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur : No visit to Malaysia can be complete without a visit to the most iconic monuments; the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur. At 451.9m from street level these two are World’s tallest twin towers  and the sky bridge that links the two towers is also the world's highest two-storey bridge, doubling up as a superb viewing platform. The 88-storey building features glass and steel on the outside, and a traditionally-inspired interior, reflecting Malaysia's aspirations in moving forward while maintaining its national identity. The towers were designed by Argentine American architect César Pelli. They chose a distinctive post modern style to create a 21st-century icon for Kuala Lumpur. Today these two towers is most prolific symbol of modern Kuala Lumpur and thus of Malaysia.

Ok, those are the top five experiences that I look forward to in Malaysia. But the list doesn’t end here. I want to go a gastronomy tour in the famous Jalan Alor in Kuala Lumpur which transforms in the evenings into a foodies delight; wander through the streets of China Town and Little India enjoying vibrant colours of the Malay Chinese and Malay Indian communities; A walk through the pre historic rain forests of Taman Negara and I can go on and on.

Here’s to the hope that I can soon set my foot in this fascinating Malaysia, Truly Asia.


I am participating in the MalaysiaJao Blogathon Contest in association with

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Lemon Semolina Cake

      This Valentine, husband gifted an OTG. So now no excuse for not baking, I mean serious baking. 
Since then my experiment with the OTG is going on full swing. Besides the regular cake with all purpose flour aka Maida, I am trying to find out if this chief ingredient of cake can be replaced with some other flours like whole wheat ( atta ), semolina ( suji ), ragi (nachni) etc. In such attempts, I came across a recipe by none other than Nigella Lawson about a "Lemon Polenta Cake". Here she uses Cornmeal or Polenta and butter both of which I replaced to what I had in my kitchen and of course for health reasons. ( Both I and my husband are trying to avoid butter as much as we can). I will call it Lemon Semolina Cake.

        Here's my version of the Lemon Semolina Cake:

Ingredients for the Cake

One small cup of Semolina / Suji
Same cup full of refined oil; I used Rice bran oil.
Half a cup castor sugar or as per your taste
One teaspoon full of baking powder
2 eggs
Half a cup of milk
Zest of one lemon. Keep the lemon aside as we will need the juice for the syrup. 

Few almonds to garnish

Mix all the dry ingredients together. 
Beat in the eggs and oil first in a bowl.
Add it to the dry mixture, add the cup of milk and beat thoroughly so that it turns to a smooth paste. Of course it will not be as smooth as maida mixture. But smooth enough. Leave the batter for 10 minutes.

In the mean time pre heat the oven in 180C . Now transfer the batter into the greased baking tin. Bake it for 40 minutes at 180C. When you try putting in a fork in the middle and it comes clean, the cake is done. Also the cake will start to shrink from sides and come out of the walls of the tin when it is done. Leave it inside the tin while we make the syrup.

For the Syrup
Boil the juice of the lemon whose zest we used in the cake. Add a spoon full of castor sugar to it.

Prick the cake all over with a fork or the cake tester. But go very slow while you do that because it may lead to disaster since the cake is still hot. Now pour the syrup all over the cake. Let the cake get soaked in the syrup while it cools down.

Take it out of the tin and enjoy.

Trust me it tastes equally good like an all purpose flour cake.