Saturday, December 26, 2015

Home - A feeling , few lines.

"How long will be able to keep them protected? Let them spread their wings and fly away. That's the truth of life. Only you and I, oldies will be together." That's what dad used to tell our over protective mom. Our mother was that quintessential hyper Indian mom who would be constantly worried for her children.

I still remember the day I packed my bag and left "home" in the sleepy little town of Dibrugarh to the bigger Guwahati city. That was right after my 10th and I knew that was it - my time to spread my wings and find my horizon. That was the day I was going Away from home.

What did I miss the most during these years? In hostels I missed my whole family and of course "mom cooked" food. I believe "mom cooked" food is something all of us and will continue to miss come what may. Yeah, but eventually in each hostel I stayed, I made a family too. Those girls also away from home, became closer to each other and would find solace in this adopted family of fellow hostel mates. And each of the girls' actual families became each of the other girls' families too. Each visitor had to keep in mind that he was in fact "visiting" at least 5-6 other girls too and must carry chocolates / sweets / snacks accordingly. Girl those were some days!

Then I moved from city to city - hostels, rented places, shared accommodations and back home to mom for a short period before leaving home again - this time to make a home of my own with P. The way mom had left her "home" and made a "home" with dad for us.

I am home now.

Written for the #blogchatter prompt 'Away from home'

Blogchatter is a twitter initiative where bloggers from all spheres connect, engage and support each other in taking blogs to next level. Also every Wednesday we have a chat session at 8.30 PM discussing a range of blogging topics each week. Do tune in!

#Blogchatter 23rd Dec to 30th Dec

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Flipkart Launches Flipkart Little Stars

I am very naïve when it come to online shopping! yes. I don't have any "apps" downloaded in my phone which people browse and shop - just like that. I tend to tread very cautiously in this online shopping arena. Having said that I also must admit that both I and P are big time bibliophiles. Especially P who goes berserk whenever there is a sale at CrossWord or Landmark. Or else these online stores to his rescue. Hassel free and quick, easy payment , easy delivery and most of the times  great offers too! Thus Flipkart has been an integral part of our life ALWAYS. Of whatever I have shopped online 90% are through Flipkart and I have to say I am "not so naïve" when it comes to online shopping on Flipkart!

Thus when I received an email from indiblogger about Flipkart launching #FlipkartKids called Flipkart Little Stars , the largest online store for kids, I was excited. There are so many little stars around us, in our extended families and friends. New borns, 1st Birthdays, twins, stating of school.. the list goes on and on. Near or far and wherever they are - Online order and delivery at their doorsteps ; how convenient can it be!

The event started by 3pm at Blue Frog, Lower Parel after a sumptuous lunch. Though there were mostly ladies, there were men too and equally enthusiastic about the whole event. It started with THE favourite star of all children across the country - Chota Bheem. Chota Bheem is one successful example of Make In India; completely home grown, conceptualized and created. There were no kids, but all present  grown ups were super excited to meet and shake hands with Chota Bheem and getting a selfie clicked. He obliged everyone.

We with Bheem - Thanks Tina.

Bheem dancing and my hand shaking. Hence this image!

Then Anoop introduced Kalpana Behera who very boldly confessed that she suffers from " Intense Narsicism" about herself and her 12 year old son. She has a very interesting blog called " My Little World" where she writes about her son and every year on his birthday she writes a letter to him and posts on her blog. It was a revelation listening to her. I thought I was the only one who suffers from this Mental Block where I just donot find the words to write. Glad to know that I wasn't alone and I was really impressed by the fact that no matter what, she made sure that she wrote one post each year on her son's birthday. Like a letter to her son on his birthday.

It was the time for the panel to take the stage and Anoop introduced each one of them - Rishi Vasudev and Panchali from Filpkart team; Seema Chawla from Mattel and Bharath from Chota Bheem team. Together they put a light on the changing trends of shopping in India, the changing tastes of both parents and children in India. Parents are more aware and very clear about what they want for their children. Children in turn have become equally sure of their choices and more assertive in terms what toys, books or accessories they want at the specific time. This panel discussion was very well reciprocated by the bloggers present as they took active part and asked questions and shared their experiences. One blogger asked about the toys for differently abled children to which both Rishi and Seema replied that they were sure going to be more considerate and keep this aspect in mind when putting up toys in Flipkart Little Stars. That's really commendable. However the onus of making any children responsible mainly lies with the parents - as Seema has rightly put out ; whenever there is a new toy at home, the child can always learn about sharing that. May be with cousins or friends when they visit. I would like to add, after few years when the child outgrows the toy, he can be taught to give it to the lesser privileged ones.


Children from all over the country can now get ready to welcome their favorite hero Chota Bheem to the Big Screen. Flipkart and team Chota Bheem have collaborated for a new film of Chota Bheem which will soon be released in theatres across the country. That announcement marked another highlight of the afternoon. In fact Bharath revealed that the most searched item of Chota Bheem is his "Dhoti". I can so relate to that as there's this son of my friend who was stuck with a tee shirt with the print of Chota Bheem eating a laddoo! His mother literally appealed to everyone to help her find that.

The afternoon came to an end with an ad mad contest. The bloggers were divided into 5 groups and all of us had to come up with an innovative ad featuring toys, accessories from Flipkart Little Stars. It was sure a fun and truly mad ad game. Suddenly all grown ups were kids again.

The session ended with the signature indiblogger sign off and it was fun like all indiblogger meets. Keeping the tradition of making a new blogger friend in these meets, I met Aarthi this time.

Us "Pic courtesy - Tina Acharya"
Here's wishing Flipkart all the very best with Flipkart Little Stars. May this little star shines brightest for those little stars in our homes.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Just Bingge - That extra G!

If you ask me what do I look for in any new restaurant or eating place that I find, besides the
food obviously, I always look for the ambience. I am sure many of us do the same. Thus the other day I landed at Just Bingge who have opened their second outlet in Sector 17, Vashi, Navi Mumbai. Their first one is at Palm Beach Road which is a takeaway joint. However this one a cozy little all day café. The first thing that caught my attention was the handprints outside the door. When asked, I came to know that those are the handprints of the workers who had worked in the café to make the place how it is today. I was so happy to know that.

The interior of the place is warm, cozy and very modern with a retro touch. That cycle on the wall or that cute little window with a flower pot make for a perfect ambience while you enjoy a heart to heart conversation with your date / friend / spouse.

They mostly specialize in Salads, Sandwiches , Burgers, Wraps etc. I had a Vegetable Cheese Burger, Eggplnat Parmigiana with Garlic bread, Chicken Seekh Kabab, Nachos with Melting cheese and Salsa and a drink called Little Miss Havana.

Eggplant Parmigiana
The burger was superb, the patty was tasty and crisp just the way I like my breads and buns. The best thing about the burger that I liked was the size of the patty. It covered the whole bun properly was not lost somewhere in the middle. Eggplant Parmigiana was a very well prepared dish. I loved the cheese and eggplant combination thoroughly. Chicken seekh kabab takes away the prize for being the most neatly wrapped and superbly tasty roll / wrap. I was floored and could have had one more if I was not full already. I would highly recommend to try out this Seekh Kabab Wraps. They have a vegetarian version with Paneer too. Along with all these I had a cool drink called Little Miss Havana which for me was the perfect accompaniment.

That's Just Bingge with that extra G. People in Navi Mumbai or anyone who happens to be near Vashi , do go and find out what's the other G stands for. For me that stands for Good food, Good place and a Good vibe.


Address of the place


Monday, December 14, 2015

I Cannot do without - This!

I don't know how or when exactly I fell for it, but the truth is I just cannot do without this anymore. Whenever it is not with me, I feel restless as if something important is missing in my life. Even P at times shouts " what's important I or this?" Imagine P has a competitor and that too this. By "this" I mean a lip balm. Yes that very same nondescript not so important lip balm.

This is a long story.

As far as I can remember, this happened in a winter while I was still in school. I got a small jar of Vaseline Petroleum Jelly and I was hooked to it. I would apply that on my dry hands and legs and even on small scratches and cuts while playing. I had this problem of cracked lips during winters. In Assam for such things the easy handy remedy is "Boroline". In every household in late eighties and early nineties you would find a Boroline or an Aspoline. Ours was no different. Boroline was the indispensable item in our first aid box at home. Since I could not take that tube to school, hence came the Vaseline Jelly to rescue. I applied that on my lips once and voila "Love happened". That saga of love continues. I have not been too faithful to Vaseline, I have to admit! I have changed brands but my obsession with lip balm continues.

We girls/women have more than one bag. I am also no different. I keep one in every bag so that I don't have to search for one if I change my bag for that day. I learnt that the hard way. Whenever I forgot my lip balm, I had to buy a new one. Thus I ended up with one in each bag. Simple and no tension.

During school, in college, in Gwalior Institute and later in my work places - everyone close to me was / is aware that I have this obsession. It helped them too. A small scratch or cut; there was one lip balm available which could be used as the instant remedy.

Now after years of my lip balm experience let me share one tip for all of you out there : During winters apply Boroline on your face before going to sleep at night. Yeah on your lips too. It works wonders. Ignore if you have very oily skin. And by winter I mean REAL winter where you wear layers of warm clothes, sit next to the fire, sip a cup of hot coffee and discuss a dime a dozen with your loved ones. Not the kind of winter get in Mumbai.

This post was written in response to a #WritePrompt #CannotDoWithout from @Blogchatter - a wonderful platform for bloggers from every genre, that encourages, motivates and educates on everything blogging!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Egg Capsicum Burger as learnt at Keya Food Stall

It was a pleasant turn of events which made me land at the 13th Upper Crust Food and Wine show at World Trade Centre, Cuffe Parade on 5th Dec. I only had heard about that and had absolutely no plans of going there. Reasons - no 1. too far from my place and no.2 that's a weekend. And weekends I enjoy my siesta. But there I was and I was so glad that I went.
Actually what happened was there was an event at Parel where I had an invite and could not have missed. There I met Geeta Sridhar, who took me to the Upper Crust Show with her. I am ever thankful to her. When we reached the show, there was a demonstration of some easy and quick recipes was going on at the Keya Foods counter by Chef Amit Vashisht. There were some mothers and children surrounding him all ears and eyes for what Chef had to teach.

Chef Amit showed 3 really easy recipes which even children can try using Keya food products.
Egg Green Bell pepper Burger , Broccoli, Croutons and Feta salad AND a Pan cake with caramalised Banana.

Broccoli Croutons and Feta salad.
Keya Foods is comparatively new in the market. It was started only in 2009 and in their own words Keya Foods aims " to change our outlook on everyday food". Started mainly started as seasonings with various herbs and spices, Keya now has over 100 products including instant soups and ready to eat range of fruit and nut snacks. If you ask me, I have mostly used the seasonings from Keya food products. It was revelation to me about their Ready To Eat Fruit and Nut Snacks. What made me glad was when I saw some interesting "Sprinklers" like Madras Chutney Powder, Delhi Dahi Bhalla powder, Piri Piri. Those are sure some things I would want in my kitchen! 

Getting inspired by Chef Amit's Burger recipe I tried to recreate the same today for breakfast. I must confess, I am a thoroughly breakfast person. Without a hearty breakfast I cannot think straight. Since Saturday , I was dying to try that. Usually on working days I do not dare to experiment during breakfast. With this one I knew I would manage.

Thus I did the below and recreated my version of the Burger :
Egg Capsicum Burger by Chef Amit

I got fresh brown Burger bun when coming home from my morning walk.

One Egg hard boiled.
One Small Capsicum cut into thin strips
One Small Onion cut into thin strips
I had lettuce in my freeze, so used that too.

2 / 3 table spoon Tomato Puree and mix half tea spoon of Pizza seasoning from Keya Foods in to the puree.

Now sauté the Capsicum and Onions in Olive Oil. Chef Amit did in butter. Since I do not take butter, I opted for Olive oil.
My version of Egg Capsicum Burger

Cut the boiled egg into slices and slightly sauté the pieces.
In the same pan, heat the bun from both sides. As in Burgers, this needs to be opened into 2 pieces.

Take a spoon and spread the tomato puree and pizza seasoning mixture on one side of the bun. Place few lettuce leaves. Add some sautéed capsicum and onions. Add the egg slices on top of these. Sprinkle some black pepper over this.

Grate some cheese. Since I had a Go cheese slice, I just broke that in to pieces and put that.

Cover with the other bun side and gorge.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Towards Responsible Tourism!

We love to travel – claim many including yours truly. No no I am not doubting their love for travel. We all seriously love to travel. But how many of us “love to travel” and “love to travel responsibly?” We the blogger or the photographers or thinkers like to say or see things a bit differently – hat ke types. Rather than going there and striking off that place from the “to visit” list; we like to really be there, feel it, be one with it ( however clichéd may that sound to my own ears) Am I sounding too cynical? Because I have seen people do things they donot do at home, when they travel. Admit it, we all have seen that, many of us must have reacted too and what followed might be a story many would not like to remember. I am strictly referring to my fellow countrymen and women travelers here.

 So what is Responsible Travel. To sum up what the Capetown Conference on Responsible Tourism in 2002 describes – Responsible Tourism is that tourism which aims at “creating better places to live in and better places to visit”. It must encompass all kinds of tourism related activities to be successful for a particular destination or state that aim at Responsible Tourism.

How do we make sure that we all the indeed responsible people and we are serious about what we do and what we donot do when we travel. Pages after pages can be written on this. I admit I am no authority on Responsible Tourism. However I as a traveler would really like to contribute in my little way to “create better places to live in and better places to visit”. (I know I have repeated, but that’s what it is)

Here’s what I feel can be considered.

Tourists / Travelers must be more careful and really sensitive towards the local eco system. That habit of dropping everything on the road as you travel needs to be done away with, and done away with forever. You throw plastic packets, tetra packs, water bottles, spit on roads and walls – please for cleanliness’ sake, what sort of a habit is that! This country is not a dustbin as we would like to treat her. Why while travelling; many have this habit of just rolling down the car window and throw out everything on to the road even in their own cities and towns. All are ok with that as long as their own houses remain clean. Please learn to respect this planet, our own country and get rid of this ugly habit. Patriotism cannot be only during cricket matches! Bikers and backpackers on tents and camps must make sure not to leave anything behind except for some wonderful memories.
How aptly named!

Locals must be aware and strict about their place their surroundings. When tourists go to a place, the whole place changes eventually.  It has lot of positive impact. A whole industry comes up. But the local people must be aware that this industry will remain as long as they respect their own place and be responsible towards it. When one sees someone doing something which may be as small as throwing a candy wrap on road, say it. Make that a habit. I have seen in some places in Leh, there were signs offering to refill water bottles at a nominal cost. That’s such a wonderful initiative. No one has to keep buying those bottles of mineral water all the time. We may not realise, but those bottles are also hazardous.

The Travel companies must draw a line. Certain places are very very sensitive and cannot handle too many tourists. After some Bollywood movies Leh has become a favourite destination for people. That has indeed generated many livelihoods for the locals there. But at what cost? Whole of Ladakh region is ecologically highly sensitive and fragile. The way the tour companies are operating “Mesmerising Leh, Rooftop of the world” packages, the day is not far when this will collapse. My heart broke when I saw heaps of beer bottles and empty packets of chips lying in Ranbirpura near Leh town which is now a very popular place for film and ad shoots. I pray and hope the Indus does not go the Ganges way and we need to formulate committees to clean that.

Government must come up with strict rules for tourism. Boosting tourism in a place, must never lead to destruction of that place altogether.  There must be guidelines keeping in mind the eco logy and environment of the place for tourists, hoteliers, homestay owners, cabbies and even tour operators. Since travelling consist of a major part of tourism, use of transport means cannot be done away with. Those may not always be very friendly towards the environment. These complexities exist in tourism. However the right persons at the right places must ensure a middle path with minimum damage to the surroundings.

Whole of Tourism Industry must join hands together for Responsible Tourism. I am using the term “Tourism Industry” a very broad sense encompassing every element associated with it.

Travelers, Tour companies, Locals, Government all becoming one and working towards achieving the aim of creating Responsible Tourism - have I imagined too much!!

But then as John Lenon said “ You may say I'm a dreamer
                                       But I'm not the only one
                                      I hope someday you'll join us
                                     And the world will live as one” --- A responsible one!
Leave a place as you found it



Friday, December 4, 2015

A Very Cheesy Affair - Go Cheese Tasting Event

Cheese and Wine - That Classic combination and add to that a chance to meet an old friend. Cherry on the cake, Master Chef Judge and Celebrity Chef Ranveer Brar was going to host the evening. What more could you ask for when all these came together and served to you on a platter. Thus I was at Blue Frog on the last November Saturday in the afternoon looking forward to a wonderful session of Cheese and Wine with an old friend Aditi. This event was organized by Go Cheese in association with Femina India. There I also met Geeta Sridhar a fellow blogger and a wonderful human being. Girl, wasn't I happy! Blue Frog was full of beautiful ladies and few gentlemen too; all ready to enjoy the afternoon full of Cheese and Wine.

Met Aditi after ages

The event started with Angad Singh Ranyal who goes by the twitter handle @piratedsardar. He sure brought the house down with laughter. The mood was set and we all were even more enthusiastic and looking forward to the events to unfold. Mr. Mahesh Israni, the Chief Marketing Officer of Parag Milk Foods Pvt Ltd spoke at length about "Go" the brand and Go Cheese. He gave a very insightful speech about Cheese and it's place in India. In countries like France the per capita consumption of Cheese is approx. 2 kgs a month whereas in India it's only 200 gms. That too because of eating out, cheese is yet to find a permanent place in Indian kitchens and Go Cheese is exactly aiming at that.
Friends and Conversations over Cheese
Parag Milk Foods started with products like Milk Pouch, Dahi,Ghee etc under the brand name "Gowardhan". As they themselves say " GO is derived from Gowardhan and has a dual meaning - apart from resonating with the Sanskrit word for Cow, it also embodies an energetic spirit with the act of going." Go Cheese is made from cow milk hence it is leaner than other cheeses made of goat milk or buffalo milk.
Chef Ranveer Brar
Keeping with this energetic and on the go image in mind, Go Cheese now has Chef Ranveer Brar as their brand ambassador. Mr.Israni invited Chef Ranveer to the stage. Chef talked extensively about different types of Cheese and Wine and also how Cheese can be used in Indian kitchen. For him, this classic combination of Cheese and Wine is a holistic experience. Indian snacks offer a great opportunity to experiment with cheese and chef recommends blending cheeses while using them in your kitchen. Meanwhile we were served with a Cheese Platter with the option to choose wine, red or white. I chose white. I loved the different flavoured Cheeses from Go that were served apart from the Gouda and Mozarella.

 My favourite was the Go Pepper cheese.

Cheese Platter

Snacks Platter

As the event progressed, there came a plate of completely "Cheeseful" snacks. So cheesy. The eating session was wrapped up with a very interesting Fruit tart and a mousse.

The audience which was mostly comprised of women asked a lot of questions to Chef Ranveer during the Q&A session. He very patiently answered everyone. Everyone wanted a selfie with the celebrity chef and he obliged all with a smile.
My moment with the chef!

The session was over by 5.30pm and Go Cheese presented us with a goodie bag full of Cheese and more Cheese. I just loved that goodie bag.

Wishing Go Cheese all the very best and hope they achieve what they aspire to do - find a place in every Indian household.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Not a very fond memory ...!

What is the worse travel memory that I have? Honestly I have not thought much about it. But the other day I was reading about The Worst Trip Ever on Natgeo Travel, and it made me think about that too. There have been instances which were not so pleasant. But I don't know why I have never written about them in my blog. Yeah just once I had this really awful experience in Goa ( one of my fav. place) and I wrote about that on Tripadvisor . Here I am today looking back at the one trip which till date my Mom considers as a "very bad trip" and guess what she was not even a part of that trip.

Here is what happened.

It was a school trip. I was in 6th or 7th standard may be. A group of students and 3 teachers were to go to Nagpur from Dibrugarh to take part in some conference / activities by United Schools Organization of India (USO of India). We had practiced really hard for group dance and I was also to take part in Hindi Speech. If I remember correctly the topic was "United we Stand". For us coming from a vernacular medium school (Assamese medium) and from that part of the country where Hindi was not widely spoken; to take part in a speech competition in Hindi was a BIG thing. I practiced and practiced. That was my first trip without parents and family to somewhere so far. We were to reach Kolkata by some train and then from Kolkata get into another train to Nagpur. I do not remember either of the trains names now. My mother was really worried. She met the teachers and told them two hundred times to "take care" of me. In fact one of my batch mate's mother was our teacher and both my friend and her mother were part of the group.
Thus we reached Nagpur without much drama. I took part in group dance and also in that Hindi Speech. I got a consolation prize too :) I came fourth among all those students from "mainland" India where people spoke Hindi more than us. ( That's some consolation for me) So far so good. Now was the time to return. One day all of us went to Nagpur city for sight seeing and shopping. One of the teachers had really gone overboard with her shopping and had 2 bags full of goodies. So when we reached the station to catch Gitanjali Express from Nagpur to Kolkata, we were heavier with more luggage. I am sure if we were to fly, we would have to pay excess baggage. Everyone got into the train. It was a chaos at the station and inside the coach and one bag of that teacher was left behind on platform. She told me that the bag was still outside. I came out quickly to get the bag and the train started moving. My heart skipped a beat and did not know what to do. I just spread my left hand with the heavy bag on my right hand and pleaded to no one in particular "Mujhe chadha do pls" ( Please make me board the train) Someone held my hand pulled me into the train. After few seconds of stunned silence I burst into tears. I did not know where I was, what to do and what will happen now.  I was inside a general compartment which was full with all sorts of things along with people.The people around me made me sit and gave me some water to drink. Then asked me which coach I was booked. I told them my father my brothers all are in this coach. I was scared and wanted to tell those strangers that I was not alone. My family was with me somewhere in this train. I am referring to nineties here. No pager no cell phones. Those strangers were constantly reassuring that since my family is in the same train, in the next station I could go to that coach. I stopped crying and started to pray for the next station to come. When the next station came 2 persons from the general coach took me out and we ran towards the sleeper coaches. From a distance I could see one of my school senior and her father (who was with another school group where he teaches) running obviously looking for me somewhere. I just ran towards them. A quick bye to the strangers and my senior and her father took me back to the correct coach. My teachers and other students could breathe normal only after our reunion which was no less than Bharat - Milap. Later I realized I did not even thank those strangers. My friend's mother's blood pressure had shot up but luckily nothing major happened and I was back. All this while I had the big bag with me. But the teacher whose bag lead to all these drama did not utter a word. Everyone was upset with her. Later things slowly went normal and all of us reached home in one piece.

This was one experience I would always remember. I decided not tell that to my mother and requested my teachers and friends too. Though reluctantly, they agreed. It was much later one day I narrated this to my mother. I was no longer a school student then and had started travelling alone from Dibrugarh to Guwahati. Mother of course was appalled as how could I keep that a secret all these years and let her wildest imagination run wilder and imagined me in all sorts of places ( read red light areas). She was even ready to confront my school teachers after all these years! I calmed her down and made her think of those 2 strangers instead who helped me that day. She is ever grateful and wishes all the luck and happiness in the world for them.

After so many years, that post in NatGeo Traveller made me look back and recall this incident. All the fun and excitement of the trip was overshadowed by this freak incident. Even I could not imagine what could have gone wrong had it not been for those 2 strangers.

Can I confess that whenever someone mentions Gitanjali Express this one memory come rushing back to my mind and I send a silent prayer to those 2 strangers still. But there is always a "what if" that remains.

Gitanjali Express

Friday, November 20, 2015

Pomegranate & Coriander Chutney

There are few food blogs that I follow and try out the recipes at times. One blog is Sindhi Rasoi which I so love. I agree, I have not tried too many dishes from there. But this one quick and simple chutney caught my attention. It's called Dhaarun Ji Chuntey or Pomegranate chutney and the original recipe can be viewed here .
Pomegranate has always been a fruit which I had as it is or juice, and of course as a garnishing item. I have never heard that one can make a chutney of it.
Pomegranate Chutney
One cup fresh Pomegranate seeds
One cup fresh Coriander
Few Mint leaves
1 tea spoon roasted cumin seeds
Few black pepper corns
3 - 4 green chillies
1 piece of ginger
¼ black salt
Salt as per taste

I roasted the Black pepper corns and Cumin seeds together for 1 min. Then once cooled used my mortar and pestle to grind them.  
Blend all the other ingredients together and make a smooth paste. Add the powdered Cumin and Pepper to it. Give a quick whirl in the blender. Pour the chutney out in a bowl to serve.

The sweetness of Pomegranate along with the fresh taste of coriander, mint and green chillies make this chutney really tasty. This is a perfect dip for nachos or any other chips or fries or snacks too.

Dhaarun ji Chutney

Friday, November 13, 2015

Vegetable Manchurian Gravy - Diwali Dinner 2015

Diwali - My favorite festival. Diwali opens a flood gate of memories each year with the glittering shimmering lights all around. After shifting to Mumbai, I was introduced to the Diwali delicacies or Faraal  that my colleagues get from home. My favorite is the Poha Chivda. I just love that. Even though in Assam also we have a variant of the dish, I have not tried making the Maharashtrian way yet. Need to go to my colleague's house to learn the trick soon!

This Diwali I thought of trying out something which I have not tried before. Cabbage Manchurian gravy! I thought since the Chinese lights have become an integral part of Diwali, what's the harm in having an Indianised Chinese dish. So here goes my version of Cabbage Manchurian Gravy.

It's an easy and no fuss recipe.

Ingredients :

For the Vegetarian Balls

One small Cabbage - (grated)
One medium Carrot - (grated)
One medium cup Besan ( some use Corn Flour and Maida but I used only Gram flour or Besan)
2 Green Chillies Chopped
2 Garlic cloves Chopped
Salt as per taste
Oil to fry the balls.

For the Gravy

2/3 strings of Spring Onions - both white and green parts
One full pack of Tomato puree
4 table spoons of Dark Soya sauce
3/4 Garlic cloves chopped
Salt as per taste
2 table spoon of oil

Mix all the ingredients for the vegetarian balls and shape these into round balls. I could make 5 balls of the size of table tennis balls. I suggest not to keep these balls for too long as they will get soggy otherwise. Heat the oil in a wok and place the balls as you round them. I deep fried them since I don't have any air fryer. But I plan to try baking them next time!! Once fried, put them on tissue so that the excess oil is soaked out.

Now for the gravy. I used 2 table spoon from the oil I used for frying the balls. Add the chopped spring onions ( please keep some green portions to garnish) and the chopped garlic cloves. Once they turn slightly golden, pour in the tomato puree and add soya sauce into it. Stir well. Add half a cup of water if you feel the gravy is too thick. Add salt as per taste and mix everything well. As the gravy comes to a boil, add the cabbage balls. Let them simmer for 5 minutes. Switch off the gas and garnish with chopped green spring onions.

Serve hot with fried rice or noodles. I served with plain noodles.

I just boiled the noodles. Then added little olive oil and freshly ground black pepper into the plain noodles.

P loved the dish.

Happy Diwali.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

I am me

I am me  ( Not a poem)

I was born a daughter
I became a sister
Then a girl friend and one day
I became a wife
I slipped into being a daughter in law
From sister to sister in law
But I was always a girl
As I grew to be a woman
A girl who sings, laughs,  runs, jumps and dreams.
I am special because
I remain me.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Our India Travel Bucket List - States & UTs

The Road always beckons

It's November already and we are just 2 months away from 2016! Oh MG! 2015 went off in a jiffy. I know it's not "that time of the year to look back" yet and I am not exactly looking back. I am looking back and forward too. The other day while casually chatting P & I thought we would make a list of the places we have to go in India. Since that was sure going to be such a H-U-G-E list; so we thought of finding out the states we have not been yet.

I took out my "travel notebook" to jot down the names of states within India that we have not been and must make a plan to go soon. No sooner than we started, P declared he had been to ALL the states. Ok, here we don't mean the extensive travelling. For us it meant, atleast one place within that state we had been to. Well that's not entirely wrong. P's work takes him to different places and thus he had been to all the states. It's only few Union Territories that he is left with. So I decided I will note down the States I have not been yet, including UTs.

The List :

1. Arunachal Pradesh
Walk Roam Explore

8.Andaman & Nicobar Islands
9. Dadra & Nagar Haveli

All the 3 UTs common between P and I.

It was shameful realization that I have not been to 3 sisters from the 8 sisters of the North East India. Arunachal Pradesh is actually just on the other side of the river Brahmaputra from Dibrugarh where I grew up. I guess I never paid too much attention to Mizoram and Tripura. Same goes for Jharkhand. Guilty I plead.
I had the chance to be in Bihar about 6-7 years ago when one of our batch mate invited me to his wedding in Gaya. I could not go and thus I am yet to be in Bihar. After planning for 3-4 times to visit Jagannath Temple in Puri when I still couldn't reach Odisha , hence I concluded - Lord Jagannath does not want me in his State! But dear God, this will change and I am sure soon.
Golden temple
(Pic source :

Punjab is one state I would love to go. Blame that on my fully filmy inclination that I have such colourful and vibrant image of this State. I had been to Anandpur Sahib and Virasat E Khalsa but let's not count that as being in Punjab. That was just a day trip from Chandigarh. I will strike off Punjab from the list the day I land in Amritsar and go visit Harmandir Sahib.

Going to Andaman and Lakshadweep is a cherished dream of both P and I. We do not want to rush there. We would want to spend some days in these two places. Managing leaves and planning a holiday will take time but we will be there too. Dadra and Nagar Haveli honestly never thought of, but now I feel why leave that place. Let's explore that too.

It is not that in all States we have travelled every nook and corner of the State. Like in UP I had only been to Agra and Lucknow whereas P had been to Agra, Lucknow, Kanpur, Varanasi and Allahabad. We both have not been to Agra together for that quintessential photograph on the iconic bench with Taj Mahal at the back! I know cheesy; but we both love cheese.

Taj Mahal
(Pic source : )

Sunday, November 1, 2015

3 reasons why I love BNLF and ALL IndiMeets!

Finally I could make it to BNLF (Blog Now Live Forever), the mega event for bloggers by IndiBlogger. Yes. I thought I wont be able to. You know with a day job and the other things ( read household chores). But I could and aren't I glad about it. Actually to say "glad" will be a little too less. I am super happy, excited and very very thankful to P who agreed to stay in a mess of a house for one more day. You see we were home just 2 days back from a week long vacation to hometown in Assam. I kept the cleaning part to the weekend as usual; forgetting about the BNLF. Then I realized while cleaning my mail box that I have to attend BNLF this weekend. P the good guy he is, said no problem. But I am also not a bad girl either. Hence skipped the second day to clean the house and the whole mess! You see marriage or any relationship it's is all about this only, right? You adjust somewhere for the person you love / care for.

Nonetheless I woke up quite early on Saturday 31st Oct which I normally don't do. Weekend after all. I reached the venue, The Lalit near airport at 8.45am. There was already a queue. There were people woke up before me. Wow. Wasn't I impressed. The morning crisp air was bubbling with the enthusiasm of the bloggers. I plunged in too and what a day it turned out to be.

Here's the 3 reasons why I so loved attending the BNLF even if only Day 1.
The stage is set
THE Bruce Dickinson
1. Blog Now Live Forever / BNLF was epic. From the day I received an email few months back I knew I had to be there. This was going to be THE event for bloggers. And then with the line up of speakers and sessions this was sure a not to be missed event. I promptly signed up and confirmed my attendance. It was inspirational listening to all the speakers. Those witty but honest confessions of Purba Ray, Arnab Ray, Kanan Gill, Preety Shenoy and the insight of  Anshul Tewari, Jeff Bullas, Christoph Trapp and Bruce Dickinson really made an impression on me. All the speakers talked about things we as bloggers would surely take home as guidance. I learnt so much and looking forward to more such sessions.

2. I admit I am a very lazy blogger. One can have look at my blog and can easily make that out. I am really ashamed of it and trying hard to "do something " about this. However somehow it's just not happening. Yeah I have a full time day job. I know it's not correct to be this inactive and hence whenever I get the chance to be in these wonderful blogger meets I try and be there. Meeting all those enthusiastic bloggers really inspire me and I come home energized and super charged. This goes in fact for all meets and BNLF was the biggest of all.

3. Living in a city like Mumbai and with a full time job, I find it a bit difficult to physically meet people to stay in touch. Thanks to phone, whatsapp and social media that atleast staying in touch is possible. I have met some wonderful fellow bloggers over the years in such meets. Some of them out of the city. I knew many of them would be attending this event. Thus I met Maniparna from Kolkata after an year. Met Zainab and Tina too. Though they are from Mumbai, we hardly meet each other. There I met these lovely bunch of ladies Somali Radhika and Irene 

Kanan Gill recommends "THIS" book

Cheers to the whole team of Indiblogger for #BNLF. More power to you!

PS:: All photos by Zainab Attari. Thanks girl.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

At the launch of Dabur Vatika Jasmine Coconut Hair Oil - IndiBlogger event.

Go Green - Says so many of them these days and they also mean so many things. Like going vegetarian, going environment friendly, being responsible etc etc. Green is the colour for such good things in life then how come Green is also the colour of the vice called " Jealousy"? You see that " Green eyed monster" " Green with jealousy" sort of stuffs. But trust IndiBlogger when they invite you to a meet and ask to "Go Green" that this would be something different / total "Hat Ke". And with they told us to come memorizing the lyrics of the Cult classic by Pink Floyd "Another Brick in the wall (Part 2)". So all set then, Saturday 10 Oct from 11.30 am at Ville parle .We i.e. women bloggers from Mumbai, are Going Green while Dabur Vatika launches their " Vatika Jasmine Non-Sticky Coconut Hair Oil".
I reached the venue just on time. Searching for familiar faces among the beautiful women there, I met Tina Acharya. It was her first IndiBlogger meet. We started talking and by the end of the event, we  already made plans to meet at #BNLF again! There was Natasha whom I knew already. We had met in one of the IndiBlogger meets about a year back and then stayed in touch. IndiBlogger meets are always the best place to meet fellow bloggers, make new friends, share ideas and so much to learn. I was attending one after missing out on quite a few. Wasn't I glad that I could make it. 

the lovely ladies

As the event started and the IndiBand took the stage. We sang along " Another Brick in the wall" . After so many years Pink Floyd..whoa; I so loved that.

Then came the officials from Dabur India who shared an over view of the product. This Coconut oil along with the fragrance of Jasmine and nourishment of coconut oil enriched with vitamin to help lock hair moisture. Thus this oil aims at giving you manageable and less frizzy hair.

 I believe we all women have this little connection with Coconut hair oil in some way or the other. Our mothers and grand mothers all advised us to apply Coconut oil for betterment of hair. I must have followed that till my teens. Then that rebellious bug bit me and I had to do things the way I like; not how others ( read Parents & Grand Parents) told me to. So along with many things, applying Coconut oil ritual was also lost somewhere. I solely cannot blame the R bug here. My laziness is to be blamed too. Staying in hostels with no one to check on my hair care routine, I lost that habit. Then I grew up and along came the stress part. In professional front, personal front, social too. I have naturally straight hair. But my hair tends to get frizzy and when I comb I would lose so much hair. Hence most of the time I keep my hair tied. I apply coconut oil a night before shampoo. The day I shampoo my hair, it remains bouncy for sometime but as the day ends, I have knots in my hair. I DONOT want to apply oil after I wash my hair. Please..! who wants to look chipkoo to work or to go out! Solution - tie my hair when it gets dry even after wash.

Dabur vatika jasmine coconut oil

Yesterday after I washed my hair, I just applied a little bit of the Dabur Vatika Jasmine Coconut oil, just to see if that works. The oil was not sticky at all which is very unlike most coconut oils. I liked the fragrance and even though my hair looked little oily, it wasn't entirely chipkoo looking. I had less frizz and very less knots at the end of the day. I am game for this one.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Beautiful Birthday in Bastar

It all started with a tweet! I tweeted to Chhattisgarh Tourism's official twitter handle ( @GoChhattisgarh ) requesting for an email id to enquire about Chitrakote fall. P and I had been planning to visit this place for quite some time. Mainly for 2 reasons; One : we wanted to be in a place we had not been before & Two and more important; we wanted to spend my birthday in a quiet place just being together. They replied within 10 minutes and thus the ball started rolling.

Few mails were exchanged, we zeroed upon an itinerary suggested by Chhattisgarh Tourism and we landed in Raipur on the eve of my birthday. Destination - Chitrakote Water Fall. The nearest town of Chitrakote is Jagdalpur which lies approximately 284 km from Raipur by road and from Jagdalpur another 38 km beyond is Chaitrakote. Here I must mention the warm welcome that we got from Vikash and others at the Tourist Information counter of Chhattisgarh Tourism Board at Raipur airport. We were welcomed by roses and a hot cup of coffee.Vikash then introduced us to Sushanta who was going to be our driver cum travel companion for next 3 days in Chhattisgarh.

We set off to Chirtakote via New Raipur which is the newly developed town at the outskirts of Raipur city. As we were out of city limits, the landscape changed to green paddy fields with occasional villages / small towns on both sides of the road. We made a stop at Makri Dhaba at Kanker for lunch. We could not help but notice that unlike many places around India, the highway leading to Jagdalpur from Raipur , NH 43 is still not laden with lot of roadside eateries / dhabas. Makri Dhaba served decent food but most importantly it had a clean toilet. This still continues to be an issue while travelling in India.
As you move towards Bastar, the scenery turns greener with big trees adoring both sides of the road. At times the road would be through a forest. Sushanta kept updating that those were the "disturbed" areas.We were slightly sad to see those trees marked out to be cut soon as the widening of the road was in process. The flip side of development!

By the time we reached Jalgdalpur, it was getting dark already. We made a quick stop for a cup of tea and continued towards Chitrakote. As we were getting nearer to Dandami Resort by Chitrakote falls, it was getting darker and our mobile network started playing hide & seek and after a point completely disappeared. Sushanta said only Reliance network worked there. After sometime Sushanta pointed towards a light and said " That's chitrakote fall" We rolled down the car windows. We could hear the gurgling water. He stopped the car near the water fall. I wanted to get down. But P said " Let's check in first and then we will come back." Sushanta said the lights will remain on till 9 pm. It was only 7.30 pm.

The Dandami Luxury Resort is the only option to stay at Chitrakote water fall. There we were welcomed with flower bouquets by Mr. Srivastava, senior tourist information officer and Mr. Thakur, the resort manager. All our tiredness from this long road journey disappeared by this warm welcome. They said that we were booked in Cottage no 1 and assured that we would love that. We came to our room to drop our things. The moment the lights were on and Raju, who showed us our room, turned the curtains away from the window, I and P were awestruck. We could see the fall straight from the room! We dropped our bags in the room and headed to the fall. It was a sight to behold. Chitrakote water fall was in it's full monsoon glory. We could have sat there the whole night. But the lights go off at 9 pm. So we returned to the resort.

A priestess at Chitrakote
Next day was my birthday. Both I & P woke up at 5.30am and headed to the fall. We wanted to catch the sunrise. There was no one and since the sky was cloudy, so there was no sunrise too. That did slightly disappoint us; but spending those absolute quiet morning at the Chitrakote fall just the two of us was priceless. Slowly people from nearby places started coming. First the temple priest came to have bath. Then few others. There were women and children too. I have to admit, I am used to being glared at as a woman. I have even seen male guests in 5 star hotels checking out women in the swimming pool. But there the so called " not so developed" part of the country, men & women were bathing together in the river and no one gave a damn.
Chitrakote fall is the widest water fall in India. The river Indravati at this point in Bastar, near Jagdalpur falls from a height of about 98 feet and from a wide gorge shaped like a horse shoe. During monsoon, the water fall covers the entire stretch of the mouth of the horse shoe from left to right banks. The water turns brown as the river carries slit during monsoons. But we heard that during  winter though the water fall gets smaller and less in intensity, the water is clear. There was a small temple as we climbed down near the fall. The deities were made in Dokra.
When we returned to the resort, an unexpected surprise waited. Mr. Srivastava came to wish me with a bouquet and a gift! My My. Both P and I were overwhelmed. I could not stop smiling. That was the second best thing to have happened on my birthday. The first one is that we were in Chhattisgarh, a state we always wanted to go. At the breakfast table also Mr. Thakur and all the restaurant staffs came to wish me. If morning shows the day, I was prepared for a wonderful birthday already.

After breakfast we headed to Tirathgarh water fall. This lies approx. 35 km from Jagdalpur. It is inside Kanger Valley National Park. But the park was closed because of Monsoon. Kanger area is the heart of Naxal activities. But trust us, we did not find any discomfort anywhere. It was absolutely safe. Tirathgarh water fall is actually the small tributary of Kanger river called Mugabahar falling from a height of 300 feet in steps. 
Tirathgarh Waterfall

Both I and P were awestruck. The small calm river which we crossed just before reaching the parking point, turns into a milky white water fall gushing down non stop. If Chitrakote fall impressed us, Tirathgarh fall sure mesmerized us. Since we were there in a moth which is officially "not season"  there were not many people. Then we realized when Mr. Saumik from Chhattisgarh tourism told us that mostly we would be the only "tourists" in these places. There is a Shiva - Parvati temple nearby. Sushanta said many people come to that temple. What I liked the best in the temple was the fact that the priest did not insist on a "Chadhawa" or offering even when P said that today was my birthday. He just chanted some mantra as we folded our hands and gave us coconut pieces as prasad. As were returning, we noticed that even though there were rows of eating places most of them did not have the chulah burning. That's because there were not many people coming. We just sat at one place which was selling chips, biscuits and cold drinks and had few cold drinks.

Jagdalpur had another surprise waiting for us. We found a restaurant named "Mayuri". Where else but in a namesake place for my birthday lunch. Regular food though, nothing very special. We had planned to be back at Chitrakote before sunset. We also wanted to stop at the Anthropological museum at Dharampura on the way from Jagdalpur to Chitrakote. This museum provides a glimpse into the history, life style, culture and the diversity of the people in this region. I would recommend a stop at this museum even for 10 minutes to understand the region well.

Chitrakote as a storm approached
We reached Chitrakote well before sunset and realized that there had been a heavy downpour in the afternoon and hence the sky was still gloomy. So no Sunset either! After missing out on the Sunrise, we were really disappointed on missing the Sunset too. But that did not deter us from enjoying the beauty of the Chitrakote water fall which was now almost thunderous. As darkness set in, the sky turned gloomier too. That was another magic. People hurried to leave before the sky poured again. P & I stayed back and watched the sky turning into dark grey and then into a dark shade of blue. The water fall looked magical in that light. So what if we missed watching the water fall when the Sun rises and sets. We witnessed it in a different glory; just at the beginning of a storm.

The calm Indravati river
We left only when big drops of rains started falling. We headed straight to the restaurant at Dandami Resort and asked for hot pakodas and tea. The rains lashing the windows outside and inside piping hot pakoda and tea; it was pure bliss. As we thought that the day had gone well; we were in for a surprise at dinner too. The chef, cooked a special chicken dish for us. The food at the resort is very good. We had brought sweets for all the staffs that night. Happy and contended we returned to our room. From our room one can have a lovely view of the fall. Both P & I just sat outside the verandah for sometime and looked back at the day.

It was a day well spent. We were in a place which is known for all the wrong reasons. But nature has blessed this unique state abundantly. Chhattisgarh tourism is doing a great job in promoting their state.
As for us, we will be back for sure.