Saturday, January 7, 2017

Memories and Flavors

Here’s something to tickle your foodie brains - see if you can identify the very familiar food that finds itself into every Indian home for any special meal. The clues:
  • It stems from the Hindi word “to lick”
  • Found in almost every color and consistency
  • Can be made of anything -  from shrimps to dates, from sesame to fenugreek
  • Your Grandmother probably made the best variant, and you still haven’t found how to get it just right (this is from my various failed experiments to recreate the magic of my Ammamma’s kitchen)
  • Never mind the theme – this little addition peps up any party; whether you want a coastal seafood journey, or a vegetarian snack party – some avatar of our superhero dish brings out the best in every dish on the table

Still guessing? 

The humble Chutney that is a part of every Indian household across the length and breadth of the vast Indian subcontinent is the hero of our discussion today, folks!

Picture courtesy www.morethanjustcurry.com


From the coconut chutneys that grace the South Indian breakfast tables, to the fiery chutney that uses fermented fish and “bhoot jholakia” (the hottest chilly in the world!) in a Nagaland household; from the sweet and spicy mango chutney of the Gujarati feast, to the pungent radish Chutney with typical Kashmiri flavors, Chutneys instantly perk up any ordinary meal with its burst of flavors.

Chutneys originated as a quick fix to dress up a humble meal. But it also had to do with elongating the shelf life of perishable seasonal fruits and vegetables. In geographical conditions that sometimes became hostile, the Indian homemakers found ingenious ways to make seasonal produce last for weeks, sometimes months together by pickling, or curing them. These ingredients were then freshly ground, pounded and mixed together to form chutneys.

Chutneys also allowed clever cooks to bribe the palate a little – take for example the dried shrimp chutney in Kerala homes. In many Kerala homes that are non-vegetarian, a fish dish is the only way to coax family members into a satisfying lunch. But In the event the fish monger was a little late, or greedy, or the lady of the house was just feeling a little under the weather, she would just grind together a little dried shrimp with tangy raw mango and coconut, throw in a few curry leaves and ginger for flavor, spice it all up with a few whole red chillies – and voila! The shrimp chutney would bring a smile to the fussiest little eater.

And who can forget the spicy, flavorful garlic chutney that Vada Pav lovers swear by? I remember walking miles with a friend to find THAT particular street vendor whose chutney brought tears to the first time taster (some may claim they are tears of joy, but trust me, it’s the chilly), but once you got the hang of it, you couldn’t imagine a vada pav without it!

Sometimes, we are awed by the little flavor bombs that get placed, quite unceremoniously and without aplomb, next to its more illustrious main dishes. And when describing it to the less knowledgeable, we explain, with much pride and association, how our humble Chutneys fill our senses with flavors and tastes that stay in the mind for a long time.

And that, dear friends, is my New Year wish for you – may your year be filled with various flavors – sometimes intense, sometimes sweet, sometimes strange – but at all times enjoyable. Happy New Year !!

P.S. I have started the new year with a promise to myself that I would do stuff that makes me happy - so please say hi to my new venture with some like minded friends - More Than Just Curry - we are gourmet food tour curators... read more about us at www.morethanjustcurry.com or visit out FB page for a little more insight.


Monday, December 19, 2016

Golden Words




I chanced to speak with a mentor yesterday night. It was his birthday, and I remembered only just before the day had ended. The conversation was as it always had been - endearing, and inspiring. That conversation led me to believe that I was doing myself a great disservice by not writing my heart out.

So with a renewed vow to myself, and to all the beautiful people who have constantly reminded me that my last post was over two years ago, here I am, fingers poised on the keyboard, my mind taking slow, awkward steps to write a few lines.

Most of us have a personal hero-list. I mean the list of people we hero-worship..... parents, siblings, cousins, friends, teachers. I have managed to compile here, a few golden words by my personal heroes. Most of these, when I think back, have caused to change something in me to make me a better person.

But ofcourse, here I will NOT tell you the reference to context for fear of letting out more skeletons out of my closet than I really care to :-).

"Go play the game. If you win, we celebrate. If you lose, we celebrate the lesson we learnt." - Dad 

"There has to be some difficulties in your life. If not, would you ever remember to pray?" - Mom 

"Wait. Don't do anything stupid till I get there." - Friend 

"If you don't feel like jumping into your work clothes and rush to work, do something else - you've got only a few decades left to live!" - Boss

"You better take care of yourself, because I can't be there right now." - Friend  (yup! got married to the poor chap)

"Always put lesser salt than you think you need. Increasing it later is much easier than trying to save a dish with too much salt."- Mom 

"If you keep thinking that you just want finish what you are doing, in order to do something else, the task in hand will never get over." - Mom 

"If you feel the need to lie to me, just don't say anything." - Dad 

"Always have some boiled potatoes in the fridge."  - Mom (yup, she was one helluva life hack guru)

"I don't care what anyone thinks - what do you want?" - Sister 

"You will look back and regret it if you don't find time for your passion." - Mentor 

"You look nicer when you smile" - My kids

"I don't want a party for my birthday - just spend the whole day with me." - very young daughter

"You will always have people around you who love you immensely - you will never go wrong if you think of their well being at every step of your decision-making." - Mom

"Karma is your surest and easiest life insurance. Just keep doing the right things" - Mentor


I consider myself very lucky - not because I haven't seen difficult times. But because I have, and those difficult times have shown me the wealth I possess in the form of friends and family. This post is dedicated to all of you.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Celebration called Life

This post is for an Activity being organized and conducted by BlogAdda in association with Kolte Patil India

What does 'Celebration' mean? The Dictionary defines the word 'Celebration' as thus:
  1. To observe a day with festivity or rejoicing
  2. To perform a religious ceremony
  3. To extol or praise
  4. To make widely known; or display
Why do we end up waiting for an occasion to bring out the fine bone china dinner set? Why do we wait forever to wear that beautiful red dress we have tucked away for that 'special day'?Why do we wait for that rare get-together to meet up with people who were an important part of our lives at some point in time? Is not life, in itself, a beautiful gift worth celebrating?

Should we wait for the right occasions, the memories that strike us when it is a dear one's birthday, or anniversary; or when we reminisce the rituals in a festival? Or do we live each day to its fullest, breathing in deeply each lovely scent, filling our senses with each lovely sight - celebrating it?

To my mind celebrations occur each time:
  • You wake up to the sound of birds chirping, and the sight of golden filigree of sunlight through the leaves of trees streaming into your room.
  • You are able to hear muffled laughter of your children, who are trying to hide their own little jokes from you.

  • When you watch their sleeping forms, and realize just how much they had played in the sun the whole day; and then sigh as you know they will soon outgrow their games.
After a  full day at play 
Can't even wait to finish food !

  • In the midst of a busy day, you can sit with a cup of steaming coffee, with a book, right by that cosy corner in your room flooded with sunlight
My favorite spot in the world!

  • In the kitchen when the little one discovers a new recipe, and it looks just like it does in the cookbook - and it tastes good too

  • The uncomplicated, unconditional love you get when you come back home at the end of the day and your pet dog greets you like you have been away for years.
  • When you just cannot stop laughing even when you know that the little one should be reprimanded


Yeah.... I am just too cute for my own good 
And many more such little moments that can be found so often within the confines of our own homes. Isn't each one of them worth 'celebrating'?

My very skeptical sub-conscious immediately jumps at me with the "Buts"....  Life isn't a bed of roses - we have head spinning amounts of worry..... our careers, our daily commuting challenges, the difficult financial decisions, the corrupt state of affairs of our country, the stench of the garbage piling outside our homes, the burglaries and the unsafe environment - everything makes us miserable.

However, there is no denying that the right house can solve many of the worrisome parts of our lives.  Kolte Patil Developers feel that a good house is the best way to celebrate life every day. In an attempt to revive the spirit of celebrating life, they have created the Ivy Estate in Wagholi near Pune, a property spread over 85 acres in the lap of nature, which marries modern amenities and natural charm perfectly. 

#CelebrateLifeAtIvy by owning a dream home at Ivy estate, an 85 acre estate with 34 acres of greenery and open spaces. Join the 1600 happy families already living here. Check out this walkthrough video and decide for yourself.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Silver Lining

Ever have those days when you feel the walls are closing in on you? When you arrive at the point where you feel everything you do, anything you do, is futile; that the world is still a cruel, sad place to be living in? That all your endeavors as a parent may just not work out?

Well, I did have a day like that. A day when I wondered if anything we did as parents was enough to make good people out of these little projects we have called children.

Why do I call them projects? Well, because they ARE - they live with us, they thrive on what we give out to them, but they don't BELONG to us. They are handed over to us by providence, or nature, or God (if you aren't an atheist) to nurture and place, when they are ready, into the world - much like a project.

Anyway, going back to the realization that we have so little control when it comes to raising them; how do we actually know that we are on the right track? Well, we don't know it. We can only take subtle hints thrown in by the great Sensei (yes, am a Karate Kid fan) called life.

We must be in the right direction if we see signs like these right?


  • Kiddo aged seven, in all earnestness, wants to bring home every stray dog he can find. Though he was crestfallen when we told him dogs do not like to be kept indoors in his room, he decided he was going to feed them every chance he got.
  • His elder sister, all of 11, wants to donate her books to a kid who cannot go to school. We have gone to great lengths to un-label, put in fresh covers and re-label her old books to give them out - all at her insistence.
  • When the adults in the house (that translates as me and hubby) fight over things that matter little to them, the brother-sister duo spare no words to let us choose between being "sent to the Principal" or "shake hands and be friends again". 
  • They call up their grandparents to tell them how much they loved the biryani they ate at their place. (And then promptly proceed to tell them embarrassing truths of my home!)
  • Little fellow comes home from cricket match one day singing "Chikni Chameliiiiiii, Chup ke akeliiiiiiii, Kowa chadhake Ayi"  When we explained to him that the song was not really about a pet crow (Kowa) - and that kids don't actually sing these songs, he promptly replaced the song with "Jungle jungle baat chali hai......." (You know the rest!)
  • Little one propped his pudgy little hand on my cheek and asked me how mosquitoes knew the blood group of the people they were drinking blood from. (we had just filled out his medical form where we had filled out his blood group as well)
  • 11 year old wears a dress, but looks at the mirror, and decides she looks fat. However, she changes her mind when the little fellow looks at her closely, and gives her the best compliment she has ever got - "You can sit with me in the birthday party." 
  • After a PTM meeting (let me assure you, its more stressful than business meetings) that went particularly well, little one asks, "Mom, are you inpred with me?" (that is 'impressed' in baby talk)
  • Elder one comes home one evening upset that a friend spread lies about her in school. So when I asked her what she wanted to do, she said she would ask her friend about it. Because, "she is my 'bestest' friend!"
  • On another occasion, when she found out that our domestic help could not understand English, she was distressed and started tutoring her. Watching the elder sister tutoring, the little one promptly brings out his crayons, and declares to the bewildered woman, "Now I will teach you coloring!"
Amidst laughter and tears I realize how maybe, just maybe, we are doing it right!
copyright @Pinterest




Friday, April 17, 2015

Living Life Queen Size

This is a post towards Housing.com

Everyone knows that the first time you do anything, you need tons and tons of courage to take that first step forward. Especially if that one step means changing your entire life! And we do come across many such crossroads in our lives - one of which is when you leave the home you have lived all your young growing up years to become an independent adult.

I am sure we can all relate to the feelings and emotions that course through our hearts at that point - apprehension of actually, really being on our own, alone, fear of not being able to manage fending ourselves, excitement at getting a chance of living life on our own terms, pride of having been able to take that step.

I moved out of my parents' home quite early on. Professional college not only taught us the ropes in the academic world - it also taught us what taking care of ourselves really meant. It meant that when you walked into your tiny rented apartment you shared with 3 more (similarly mortified) strangers, you could not call out to your Mom that you were famished, and find hot, delicious food on the table. It meant that every scrap of paper, every piece of clothing that you left on the floor, was still lying there waiting for you when you came back tired and irritated. It also meant that water bills, electricity bills and anything that had to do with you paying for something, was your responsibility.

Four clueless individuals (including me), with no experience of living alone and armed with glorified visions of 'living on our own' thrown together to fend for themselves, DO NOT make for smooth, dignified existence. Needless to say, we had hilarious moments of learning in our lives.

The first few days we made do with basic amenities, which meant a bed, some bed spreads borrowed from Mom, a couple of towels and (the so important) bucket, mug and toiletries. And we guarded them with our lives!

As we learnt more things about surviving on our own, we discovered packaged foods, and also how to keep them hidden from plain view. We also learnt that parents sending food to us DID NOT mean that we ate all of it ourselves. Gradually, we learnt the art of keeping count of spending. We learnt that money somehow had this uncanny ability to stretch itself out during the last few days of the month - which meant that the last 100 Rupees in the wallet stayed untouched during the last lap of the month.

We also learnt to clean! Yes, frequencies were a matter of much heated debates, but we did learn how to keep our corner of the room clean. Bedspreads on the beds were protected (with requisite threats and violence if required) from dirty feet of others - even if that meant spreading out last week's dirty sheet ON TOP of the current one!

The landlords were a sweet middle aged couple who sometimes took pity on us and called us over for dinner, only to be shocked at the amount of food that we puny skeletons (we then were) could tuck into our bellies. We were given tips on how to wash clothes, how to keep them from flying off in the wind when drying them, how to fill out water in the morning so that we are not left high and dry (literally) in the middle of a shower.

The years spent in that little apartment, with well-intention-ed, but clueless friends amidst all the chaotic learning, were perhaps the best lessons we have learnt as young adults.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Make way.... the "Smart" phone is here!!

Have you noticed how people end up buying the kind of stuff that are an extension of their own personalities? It is more so when it is something that you are literally going to be living with - let's face it - today you do end up spending more time with mobile phones than you do with flesh-and-blood counterparts right?

In such a scenario, it would be relevant to spend oodles of time researching why a certain phone would suit you or not. 

The recently launched ASUS ZenFone 2 is one such phone we discuss today. While my technological knowledge is matched only by my uncanny ability to speak fluent Mongolian (that, folks, is my way of saying I know neither of the two ), I will still attempt to understand 5 ways in which my life can be made easier by this phone - just in case someone out there was planning to gift me one :-). 

  1. Speed : The ASUS ZenFone has 4 GB RAM. Now what that translates as to me is that I can, without much hair-pulling frustration, move between the cake recipe on a sumptuous blog post, and the videos that my friends send me on whatsapp - while also navigating through Google maps. Simply put, there is far less waiting time between the apps. Heck maybe the laptop can be given a miss when travelling!!
  2. Battery Life : Phones today are the lifeline to people who have to be moving, yet have to be accessible all the time - and I am no exception. Whether it is our kids, the babysitter, the office, the better half, one needs to be connected all the time. Who isn't familiar with the pangs of fear that strikes our hearts when we have the battery in the red, with not too much time to charge it? Ask and you shall get, apparently! Lo behold - this phone charges itself like Superman on an energy drink!! 
  3. Pictures : How many of you have had the disappointing moment when the baby gives you a killer smile, you try to capture it, and baby decides to squint right when the flash goes off? What say you get a camera with zero shutter lag and no need for a flash? Yeah! That should do it, right? Picture perfect.
  4. No hanging : Need I say more? Switching off and switching on the phone to get the damn thing to un-hang may just be a thing of the past with this phone. Just this one feature could be a life-changing experience.
  5. The looks : Judging by the pictures, the phone would be drool-worthy. From the high screen to body ratio, to the shining metallic back cover, this is a luxuriously fine looking piece of art, which at the price, looks much more expensive than it actually is. Wouldn't hurt to be seen holding it huh?
Well.... that's my list, am sure there are more.

This was a post about ASUS India .

Home is where the Heart is

I had finally made it back home. The delayed flight, the extra few hours spent in horrible city traffic, and my few days of separation from my family was wearing me down. With each passing minute of delay in the flight, in the traffic on the road, I could feel my heart beating faster than ever before. I was supposed to have reached a couple of hours earlier. 

One would think whats a few hours after three days of being away, right?

Wrong! Every minute was taking me closer to being paranoid - even though I was constantly in touch with the kids on phone. Random negative thoughts crossed my mind 
  • What if the kids are not well? I'd just called them... they seemed fine....
  • What if they go off to sleep before I reach? ..... Well, it is a school night ...its better that they do... I can see them tomorrow.
  • What if they were angry with me for being late?
 I was thinking of every imaginable thing that could go wrong if I wasn't there with them.

I reached the doorbell, and before I could ring it, I heard shouts from inside.

"Mummmmmmeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee......." Music to my ears. My little kids ran to me vying with each other to get into my arms. I had to switch from standing to hug my older one, to kneeling to get to the little one. Sloppy kisses and lots of deafening 'I love you's, I was able to disengage from them enough to get out of my travel clothes. I was so glad my husband had kept them awake till I reached home.

My older one, the seven year old girl, gave me a good night hug and rushed to her bed - she had school tomorrow and it was well after midnight. My two year old, however, had other plans. He snuggled up close to me and brought out his favorite book. And then he said something. Something that sounded like "Wound-wound-shircle" .......

I asked "What, baby?" And he repeated the same. I look around to see if my husband heard him too... then I looked at what he was pointing .... sure enough, he was pointing to a very large, very round circle indeed!

I shouted out to my husband.... "Did you hear that? He knows a circle!" 

I was happy and excited, till I saw my husband walk in with a smile.... he had heard it earlier!! I had missed the first time he said that!

Husband laughed and said, "He knows a Wectangle and a Twi-angle too"....... with a look that I usually have when I report a 'first time'. 

He then proceeded to hug me, and tell me we had so many more firsts to come - the first fallen tooth, the first day at school, the first scraped knee........ and we would be there, to share the news with each other. Needless to say, my son must have said many words by now.... but I will fondly remember "Wound-Wound-Shircle" for as long as I live.


This is a post towards Housing.com