Saturday, November 18, 2017

Mouthpiece #63

For the clinking-clanking love...
(Alert: it is a long one, please bear with me)
I don’t know how it came to me but it did one day. I think I can even remember the precise moment when it happened. While I have been at the receiving end of the joy it was bringing to me every single time but this was the moment when I acknowledged it and decided to write about it. I think now I know how it feels to be deeply in love. I wonder why did not I think about it earlier, but I guess, nature has its own plan of sending things one’s way. I very humbly accept it and thank the cosmos (the kaaynaat) for letting me bask in this fuzzy feeling which, I think, is definitely a little more than just love.

Without further ado, let me just plunge into divulging the mysterious ‘it’ - it is my adoration and fondness for the unsung heroes in any kitchen - the pots and pans, the friers and cookers, the scoopers and servers, the spatulas and turners, the griddles and skillets, the cutters and knives, the blenders and mixers… oh, the list is just so long.

Why, unsung heroes because we talk, hear and make a lot of fuss about what to cook, how to cook, which ingredients to choose, how to ensure quality and taste all along, but never give the ones who actually make cooking possible, their due.
So my dear companions in kitchen, I am feeling extremely happy to be expressing my gratitude for you today through this platform.

Well it began with the basic stainless-steel kitchen set that I began my journey in kitchen with. It had all the basic components from cooking utensils to serving dishes, plates, spoons and forks. Looking back at that time from now, I can say that working with familiar sonorous sound of steel utensils in the foreign land did play some role in making me feel comfortable in the new kitchen. Inaugurating the brand new metallic utensils with some sweet dish to mark beginning of their life with me, was a small ritual that I liked following at that time. Though the set had very limited number of pieces but it was quite sufficient to cook a decent meal and to even serve some guests.

My mother played a significant role in increasing my kitchen possessions. On every visit back home, she would have kept something to grace my kitchen even further. From new stylish stainless steel glasses, big thalis with raised edges, futura anodized cooker, sets of dibbas for pinnis/snacks to spatulas of different sizes, shapes and styles - she would keep one thing or the other ready along with innumerable other gifts to be packed with me while going back. My kitchen kept getting richer and richer and I enjoyed working with new utensils experimenting to my heart’s content. I think it was in Banaglore that I started developing a soft corner for tea cups and the sight of bright coloured, fancy, quirky tea cups started alluring me into buying some of them. Well, this softness did not remain restricted to tea cups only, it swelled and gradually engulfed many other items too.

Just the other day I was going through my prized possessions and realised that I actually have 9 kadaahis (pans). Dear readers, before you question my sanity, I can explain. There is one big iron one which I take out to make methi-aloo, kala-chana for the ashtami puja and for that lip smacking ajwain-waale-small-potatoes. How can I cook these three in any other kadaahi because that richness of colour can only be lent by an iron utensil. Moving on to three aluminium kadaahis of three different sizes. These were gifted by mummy from time to time and come very handy for all kinds of tadkas, dry sabzis, halwas, panjiris, and in fact, almost anything that needs steam cooking but not pressure cooking. There is one specific kadaahi for deep frying and using any other kadaahi for this purpose is almost sacrilegious. So I have already explained the reason behind the existence of 5. There are two small ones, one with lid and other without. The lidded one is typically used for keeping the leftover liquid-subzis because I prefer to reheat them on the gas-top. The other small one is to fit in where nothing else works like making ghee out of butter, small quantity of tadka for dal or for making manchurian etc. There is one super big kadaahi which sees the light of the day when besan-ki-pinni, gajar-ka-halwa or gobhi-gajar-shalgum pickle is to be made or even for cooking hakka noodles. It is wide mouthed and allows more surface area to work on. Okay, now for the last one which is my recent prized possession. This one is the latest addition in my kitchen which I purchased two years back and it is non-stick kadaahi. I like to handle it very gently for the sabzis which need just tender steam and not too much frying and scraping of the surface.

Coming to spatulas and turners, I would not bore you with the number of them that I have but there is good enough reason for each one of them to be present inside my kitchen cabinet. One cannot just work in a big kadaahi or pan with a small serving spoon, or serve with long handle-spatulas. There needs to be a specific one for a specific task - big scooper kinds for cooking gravy-sabzis, flatter ones for lifting and turning dry-sabzis, turners of different kinds for tawas and griddles, specific ones for deep frying, wooden spatulas for non-stick pans and pots - you get the point, right?

And cookers, let me just tell you that I have five of them and no, no one can replace any other. They are there because they are very much needed and used. The latest being the new Prestige cooker which is a delight to work with. I think I did mention it a few times at home how I have fallen in love with this cooker. I like the safety valve of it which actually starts dancing when the steam is building up inside. The cute podgy whistle sits prettily on the top. Another good part is that this cooker comes with a glass lid too, so the cooker can be used as serving bowl when the cooking is done. I think I have blessed that soul many times who came up with design. May God increase your tribe :)

I think I do get a certain pleasure in taking the right utensil and spatula out once I decide what is to be cooked and this combination is almost fixed for different dishes. It is fixed to such an extent that there is a designated pan for my peels and pips too. No, no, I did not buy it purposely. It came with my OTG, it was actually an iron baking dish but after many years of use, it started showing some signs of wear and tear but I did not want to part with it. So I employed it at another designation. I am sure, it doesn’t feel bad because it has no replacement in this new position. It is the first thing that gets picked up when I start my work in the kitchen every single day with raw ingredients. I think if we just go by the companionship, I think I have the maximum with this pan.

Since last Diwali I have started a new tradition, and to tell you frankly, I have complimented myself many times for coming up with this. I have decided to gift my kitchenmates a new companion every Diwali. It began with a set of microwavable casseroles and last Diwali it was, of course, my Prestige 2l cooker.

My dear kitchen comrades, thank you for being there and for being you. Each one of you is valued and appreciated for adding your unique 'clink’ and 'clank’ to my cooking.

What's new in the kitchen? Crispy Halwa
I was introduced to this dish by my mother-in-law, who is a wonderful cook herself. She knows how to bring out the best flavours with just some very basic ingredients. There are many dishes that I have learnt to cook from her but I think she makes the best crispy halwa. Crispy halwa? It sounds pretty strange isn’t it? The texture and the smart twist that it gives to the regular sooji halwa is just amazing. Since I had never seen her making it, I did not have the confidence of doing justice to it for a very long time. But as I got more comfortable in the kitchen, many things started feeling/appearing more logical. There is a feel that one begins to develop around various ingredients and their unique flavours. One fine day, I just attempted making it and it turned out to be a grand success.

After having made it many times now, I feel making this halwa is even simpler than the regular Suji halwa. Crispy halwa is one-pot dish which does not even require preparation of separate sugar solution. I would say, this is a jazzy and stylish version of the good old halwa and when you have guests over, it surely will earn you some brownie points as a chef.

Suji: 1 cup
Sugar: 1 cup
Milk: 1 cup
Cardamom: 2 (coarsely ground seeds)
Raisins and almonds: 1 cup
Ghee: ¾ cup

Take suji, sugar and milk in a bowl, mix well and let them rest for 1-2 hours. In a heavy bottomed pan, pour ghee and warm it up. Pour the suji-sugar-milk mixture in the hot ghee and immediately start scarping the bottom of the pan as the mixture tends to stick to the pan. Reduce the flame and keep frying while continuously stirring for partly crispy partly soft feel of the content. It will start leaving the pan gradually. At this time add the cardamom powder and nuts. Serve it hot for that mmm… experience. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Mouthpiece #62

Happy Birthday to you...
Dear Mummy,

It is your 76th birthday today, of which 72 summers you spent in this mortal world. Though you have concluded your worldly journey already, but for us, this day is significant and will remain so till we breathe our last. This message is to update you on what all occurred and happened in our lives since the time you bade us goodbye. Yes, it still feels like a scripted goodbye when we all got just enough time to be together for that one last time - the five of us, who held the fort together when we found ourselves at the receiving end of a visit of death God in our house. It took away with it our big umbrella who was supposed to be protecting and guiding us through all ups and downs of life which had just started to unfold for us. The path was never hurdle free post that but borrowing from your seemingly inexhaustible reservoir of fortitude, we managed to walk continuously - sometimes sprinting while at others just barely dragging our feet. We became your identity and you ours although our individual paths took us all in different directions and to different destinations. We were rather unware of this strong coupling and reliance, nor perhaps was there any reason to register it consciously. Sometimes the absence of something makes one realise the indispensability of the same much more clearly. It is almost like air, we don’t see it but it nurtures us with its life giving nature. Your going away felt like a huge jolt to all of us, so much so that we were almost stunned into complete silence for many months that followed. Disbelief that this could happen to us, extreme grief of the ultimate separation, sad sinking in of the new reality of losing both the parents and unappealing future of walking without you - all of this was too overwhelming, much beyond our capacity to handle. During that unprecedented difficult time, what eventually gave us direction and some semblance of normalcy was your way of handling things - seek refuge from none other than the supreme power and continue dispensing the duties that are expected of us.

God’s benevolent grace was at play once again, as we started experiencing peace in the state of immersing ourselves in more and more work in whichever capacity we could do. This was the period when we all practically got detached from the outer world as a big churning was happening in our insides. I being the youngest can confidently say this on behalf of all my elder siblings because I know and to tell you the truth, I feel, this is an outcome of what all you worked for all your life. Our four different hearts still beat to the same rhythm that you had so lovingly composed and compiled.

We have moved on. We have moved on from the time when we cried our hearts out for losing the unconditional love, care and support to the current times when we are trying to be the one for someone in our lives. If not for many, at least for a few. You have made even this goal seemingly achievable for us because we have seen a live example in our lives in you. You truly epitomised the meaning of unequivocal devotion in your life.

With each passing day, month and year, we admire you even more, for - your divine grace in equally unmatched simplicity, your strength of character in front of formidable hurdles, your wisdom in weeding out complexity from the thoughts, your immense ability to forgive, forget and smile, your poise in choosing to be insignificant while working as a fulcrum, and your unflinching faith that we all are always well taken care of by the divine hand.

You went away with a deep sense of satisfaction that you did what all you could in every phase of life and in every role that you were entrusted with. We wish and hope that we all achieve that state when it is time for us to conclude our journeys. Deep in our hearts we know we have your benign hand on our heads always.

So long.

Hostel Evenings and Break Pakora...
Often some foods get associated with places and people and just the mention of one reminds the other. For me, bread pakora is one classic example which brings back the memories of hostel days. After attending long day of lectures and after having endured non-palatable lunch, evening tea and the accompanying snack were the most sought after and the most delicious offerings of the hostel mess. The snack was either two small cutlets, a bread roll or a bread pakora with potato stuffing. If one was lucky enough to reach there on time, one could even have it right out of the frying pan. By default each person got one helping of the snack but the bonus used to be the extra one which landed up amongst us thanks to those who could not have ‘such an oily’ food. I think bread pakora rose to being one of my favourites only during that time and since then it has retained its position among the most loved snacks.

These days I purposely prepare a little extra aloo parantha filling and save some for the evening bread pakoras.
Here is how to prepare the filling:

Potatoes : 2 (boiled and peeled)
Onions : ½ medium size (finely chopped)
Green chillies : 1 (finely chopped)
Coriander leaves : 2 tbsp (finely chopped)
Ajwain : ¼ tsp
Anardana powder : ¼ tsp (optional)
Garam Masala : ¼ tsp
Red chilli powder : a pinch
Salt : to taste
Mash the potatoes in a big bowl and add all the ingredients to it . Mix the whole thing really nicely so that it forms a smooth and consistent lump of mixture.
Ingredients for the batter
Besan : 1 cup
Water :
MDH chana masala : ½ tsp
Cumin seeds : ½ tsp
Baking soda : a pinch
Salt : to taste
Mustard oil : 4 cups (for deep frying)

Mix all the ingredients really well and keep it aside for 10-15 minutes so that there are no lumps left. The batter should be as thick/thin as idli batter. It should not be runny as it will spread when put in the oil. Now once the batter and the filling are ready, cut the bread slices in half (preferably diagonally because bread pakoras look good in that shape). Spread potato mixture on one slice, cover it with another, press it gently, dip it in the batter and drop it in hot oil. Fry it from both the sides and serve it hot with tamarind and mint chutneys. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Mouthpiece #61

मन के मोती...
एक पथिक मैं किसी राह की,
एक मुसाफ़िर अपनी ही धुन की |

कूद-फाँद के कभी संभल के,
फ़ूँक-फ़ूँक के या मस्ती में,
रुके नहीं पग थमे नहीं पग,
था भी कहाँ कोई और विकल्प ?
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For that Glimpse from the Past
(This I wrote for another platform, posting it here…)
Bags were packed, weighed, not once but multiple times. Not more than 24 hours were left for one more journey to begin. In fact, one of the smaller journeys within a bigger journey of life. Where did the last few days fly away, she didn’t realise. Now with a cup of tea in her hand, she could actually feel the frantic pace at which she had been working for the past week or so. Her mind ran through all the lists that she had made as she prepared for her impending journey to meet her children in USA - gifts for each one of her children and grandchildren, her signature delicacies for every family - various sweetmeats (especially besan laddoo), a medley of pickles and what not. Not to forget innumerable things that needed to be taken care of before closing the house for 3-4 months.
continue here...

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Mouthpiece #60

Say 'yes'
During any single day, the kind of activities we indulge in, has a big component of our own interests, preferences and likings. This is because, our inclinations comprise our basic innate nature and we tend to drift towards what feeds them. However, there are times when it feels that the demands of people around us (usually our dear ones) are expecting some adjustment in the way we want to spend our time or energy. I call it a classic stage setting for a mental conflict. 
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Hide and Seek
There is something very strange about grief. With time you feel you have overpowered it, you notice that perhaps grief has left your side after what seemed like just a big blob of time barely resembling days or nights. A daybreak starts getting noticeable again and so does a nightfall. It doesn’t go unnoticed that your mouth has not lost its ability to stretch itself into a smile after all. Once again you naturally start participating in the conversations that happen around you without the same getting phased out completely.
continue here...

What's cooking? Dahi-bhalle
Story behind dahi bhalle? Yes, in fact there is one, though a very small one. As I have mentioned earlier, there are some foods which get associated with certain places and certain occasions. Dahi-bhalle fall in this category as they were strongly associated with astami-puja at our home. Ashtami kanya pujan is done with traditional poori-chana-halwa combination and I remember how the same were prepared with highest degree of cleanliness and purity. Mummy was very particular about a few things. The kitchen should be sparkling clean before this puja, not even a single unwashed dish should be anywhere in the kitchen. The cooking used to begin pretty early in the morning so that puja is done well before school/office time. Along with the regular combination of poori-chana-halwa, dahi-bhalle were a part of the meal too. I did not much care about dahi-bhalle on any other days but they somehow held a great importance on these days which fall twice in a year.
Though this was not the tradition in my marital home but dahi-bhalle as chaat (with tamarind chutney) has been a regular feature on any special meals. The perfection of the bhalle is in their softness while retaining the shape intact.

recipe here...

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Mouthpiece #59

Sometimes one just needs a nudge for the deep-seated feelings to come pouring out. This happened with me recently when I was asked to compose an article on Bangalore for a prestigious magazine ‘Atulya Bharat’ and after writing it, I felt, perhaps this is what I have been wanting to do for a very long time. So here is a tribute to my soul-city : Bangalore. 
बैंगलोर - कुछ ज़्यादा अपना सा
जीवन पर्यन्त हम अनेकों शख्सियतों से मिलते हैं | कइओं को करीब से जानने का मौका मिलता है तो कइओं से सिर्फ औपचारिकता का सम्बन्ध ही बन पाता है | पर कुछ ऐसे व्यक्तित्व के मालिक होते हैं जो हमारे अति आत्मीय जन बन जाते हैं| उनके साथ चाहे कम ही समय व्यतीत किया जाए पर ऐसी अनुभूति होती है मानो वे हमें सदियों से जानते और समझते हैं और ऐसी ही भावना हमारी उनके लिए भी होती है| उनके साथ किसी भी औपचारिकता की कोई आवश्यकता ही महसूस नहीं होती| उनके साथ बात करना ऐसा जान पड़ता है जैसे हम अपने आप से ही बात करे रहे हों|

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What's Cooking? Samosa's Twin-Sister
If anything comes close to my all time favourite samosa, then it has to be aloo tikki. And if served with mildly-spiced chole, chopped onion, tamarind chutney, mint chutney, grated radish and curd on top - what else can one ask for? A perfect tikki brings about the perfect contrast between crispy exterior and the soft inside part. While samosa making is a little more involved and time-consuming process, tikkis can be prepared in relatively much less time for satiating the taste buds royally.

recipe here...

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Mouthpiece #58

Precarious first steps...
The first couple of pencil marks on a blank paper, in an attempt to begin a sketch; the first few stitches of an embroidery on a fabric laying the foundation of a beautiful tapestry someday; the first sparse strokes of a loaded brush hoping to give shape to a beautiful image on canvas; the first few disjoint sentences jotted down to build a fluid story over a period of time, the first few jerky steps taken, hoping to get in a rhythm of running and many similar such - all begin with a mixed feelings of unsureness and an optimism of seeing something getting created sooner or later.

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Psychological impact...
I feel, psychological influence is quite underrated. Sometimes, in very mysterious ways, logic and reasoning don’t seem to work at all. However, what can work as magic is the confidence that one seeks from the loved one in the time of personal crisis. I remember the time when I was coping with grief a few years back, dragging of days and nights during that phase is nothing more than a blur to me now. 

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What's cooking? Wheat-flour halwa
This dish has a very special place in my heart for many reasons. How can I forget that this was the first dessert that I attempted to cook independently and can still recollect those doubts that were creeping up almost at every stage of halwa preparation. It was the day when I was to remove my auspicious chuda (a set of red and white bangles that are traditionally worn in a Punjabi wedding and are taken off after minimum of 40 days) in US. I was advised by the family back home that I should prepare some sweet dish to offer to the Gods and to mark this occasion. In my parental home, Suji halwa was a regular but not the wheat flour halwa so I had not seen it being cooked from close quarters. But my fascination for wheat halwa had started long back when I partook it in one of the Gurudwaras in Chandigarh and later many times in Dukh Niwaaran Gurudwara, Patiala.

recipe here...

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Mouthpiece #57

I am who I am
I think I chose to let go of my “identity” when I quit the job to be a stay at home mom. Because usually what we do, forms our identity, especially in our society where the work is tightly associated with certain designations outside, monthly pay checks, growth in any organisation and climbing the ladder towards zenith.

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What's cooking? Vegetable pakoras
I very vividly remember those wintry and/or rainy evenings when the dinner used to be ‘something different’, different from the regular affair of dal-roti or sabzi-roti. Why not rice-dal or rice-sabzi because rice at night was quite unheard of, especially in traditional Punjabi households. But those evenings, followed by those dinners were, well, DIFFERENT because vegetable pakoras adorned the menu for those nights. The preparation for pakoras used to begin pretty early - vegetables were cut in specific shapes and sizes, besan (chana flour) was mixed in water well in advance, the batter was infused with multitude of flavors of - grated garlic-garlic, finely chopped green chillies and coriander leaves; and the mustard oil was heated up in a big wok. The whiff of flavours emanating from the kitchen used to be just too irresistible. I clearly remember how those minutes waiting for the dinner call were so killing. Now when I look back, I really wonder, how big and special were those little joys of life.

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Mouthpiece #56

Paradoxical or what?
न बाँधो इस अनवरत उन्मुक्त उड़ान को
समय की बेड़ी से इसे सरोकार ही क्यों हो ?
आंतरिक संयम को बाहरी चर्या क्यों,
मन के भावों को शब्दों का बाना क्यों ?

शायद कभी क्षितिज को न छू पाऊँ,
शायद कभी सबसे ऊँचा न उड़ पाऊँ,
शायद क्षमता की सीमा में बंध जाऊं,
पर मन की स्वछंदता को क्यों न पाऊँ |

लौट कर आऊँगी अपने घरोंदे पर फिर भी,
विस्तृत आसमान अधिक अपना सा लगे तो भी |
मन की एक तार काया के बंधनों से है जुडी,
चाहे बाकी सब अपने आशियाँ में हैं सिमटी |

This verse that I wrote a couple of years back, often comes to my mind whenever I introspect or rather open my eyes inwards. I do see myself as a free spirit that soars beyond all borders and boundaries, that cruises in a trans like peaceful state and to whom all restraints, whatsoever, are unknown.

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On Raksha-Bandhan
Came across this beautifully written poem by Prasoon Joshi, so sharing it here:
बेहेन अक्सर तुमसे बड़ी होती है,
उम्र में चाहे छोटी हो,
पर एक बड़ा सा एहसास लेकर खड़ी होती है,
बेहेन अक्सर तुमसे बड़ी होती है,
उसे मालूम होता है तुम देर रात लौटोगे,
तभी चुपकेसे से दरवाज़ा खुला छोड़ देती है,
उसे पता होता है की तुम झूट बोल रहे हो,
और बस मुस्कुरा कर उसे ढक देती है,
वो तुमसे लड़ती है पर लड़ती नहीं,
वो अक्सर हार कर जीतती रही तुमसे,
जिससे कभी चोट नहीं लगती ऐसी एक छड़ी है,
पर राखी के दिन जब एक पतला सा धागा बांधती है कलाई पे ,
मैं कोशिश करता हूँ बड़ा होने की,
धागों के इसरार पर ही सही ,
कुछ पल के लिए मैं बड़ा होता हूँ,
एक मीठा सा रिश्ता निभाने के लिए खड़ा होता हूँ,
नहीं तो अक्सर बेहेन ही तुमसे बड़ी होती है,
उम्र में चाहे छोटी हो, पर एक बड़ा सा एहसास लेकर खड़ी होती है |

Mouthpiece #55

बहुत याद करती हूँ

माँ तुम्हें मैं बहुत याद करती हूँ,
असीमित प्यार के भण्डार को याद करती हूँ |

तुम्हारे हाथों की गर्माहट को याद करती हूँ,
तुम्हारी आँखों के भावों को याद करती हूँ,
तुम्हारी प्यारी मुस्कुराहट को याद करती हूँ,
मुझे ‘बेटी’ कह कर पुकारने को याद करती हूँ,
मेरे अनकहे बोलों को समझने को याद करती हूँ |

मेरी गलतियों को भूल जाने को याद करती हूँ,
मेरी हर बात को मान देने को याद करती हूँ,
मुझे जानने के एहसास को याद करती हूँ,
मेरे साथ होने के संतोष को याद करती हूँ,
तुम सब जानती हो, उस भरोसे को याद करती हूँ |

तुम्हारे साये में बैठने को याद करती हूँ,
तुम्हारे किस्से कहानियों को याद करती हूँ,
तुम्हारे सुझावों सलाहों को याद करती हूँ,
बात-बात में बात कह देने को याद करती हूँ,
तुम्हारी सरल जीवनशैली को याद करती हूँ |

सालों ही बीत गए तुम्हें देखे हुए,
तुम्हारे होने की अनुभूति को याद करती हूँ |
माँ मैं तुम्हें बहुत याद करती हूँ |

Reading time...
Read ‘Same Soul, Many Bodies’ by Dr. Brian Weiss. His books dispel almost all doubts about soul being immortal and take up different bodies at the right time. His cases highlight the fact that what we are experiencing has explanation in our previous births. In this particular book, he is even able to make use of his progression theory on some of his patients to heal their present. An interesting read. Have ordered another book by the same author.

What's cooking? Rava idli
‘जैसा देस वैसा भेस’ - When in Rome, do as Romans do. I would rather modify it to ’जैसा देस वैसा खाना’ - When in Rome, eat what Romans eat. I don’t know about Rome but happily adopted this when we were in Bangalore. It is in fact a great way to make use of the local produce as well. Coming to Rava idli now. Idli’s various avtaars were absolutely unknown to me before Bangalore became our home for almost seven years. I especially liked a good number of options for healthy, light and not very expensive breakfast options that are available at almost every other corner throughout the city. I think this is true about most of the South Indian cities as well. There in one of the Darshini hotels we ordered Rava idli for the first time and there was no looking back post that. It immediately got an entry in my 'to try dishes’ that day itself. I checked with some of my friends for the exact proportions and ingredients. After many iterations over the years, I have come up with the following recipe which gives consistent results every single time. This usually works as a handy option when nothing else comes to mind. Moreover, it can be prepared quickly as one is spared of soaking and grinding part of the regular rice idlis.

recipe here...

Mouthpiece #54

आज फिर वही छोटी सी बच्ची बन जाऊँ,

जिसे प्यार से बुलाने के अनेकों ही नाम थे,
स्कूल में लिखवाए नाम को कम ही जानते थे |

जिसे झालर वाली फ्रॉक पहनने का शौक था,
फ्रॉक पर बने फ़ूलों से भी ज़्यादा खिला चेहरा था |

जिसे खूब ज़िद करना आता था और मनवाना भी,
जिसकी आँखों में ही बसते थे अनगिनत सपने भी |

continue here...

What's cooking in the kitchen? Classic Aloo-parantha
Nothing beats a good aloo parantha as a breakfast delicacy in Punjabi homes and the good part is, it can be prepared all through the year, as the main ingredients - potatoes and onions are always available.

continue here...

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Mouthpiece #53

My elixir of life...
Over the years I have realised that nature inspires me in many more ways than one and I feel at peace just soaking the outdoors with an aware mind. It brings in me the realisation and the perspective of being a tiny part of something so grand, so magnificent. 

continue here...

Reading time...
I can hardly remember the last time I laid my hands on a seriously ‘unputdowanble’ book. Just happened to pick 'The kicking the bucket list’ while browsing the displayed books in a bookstore. Memory of those summer holidays came rushing back to me when reading unstoppably had become the routine for those two months. 

continue here...

Kitchen tales...
Garlic-pepper rasam
Over the years, I have seriously worked on perfecting this simple yet integral accompaniment of a South Indian meal. I do feel that now I can freeze this recipe for posterity.

continue here...

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Mouthpiece #52

When we covered Shimla...
As sun is shining almost ruthlessly on us these days, the other day I was trying to divert my mind to another extreme experience - of bitter cold. Yeah, I know, it wasn’t Arctic or similar such, but going by the range that I have seen in my lifespan, those few nights do qualify to be in this category.

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Mouthpiece #51

Me and My Kindle...
It has been over a year since Kindle came into my life. Initially I was super excited about it as it instantly became an epitome of instant gratification of the desire to read a particular book. Just a few clicks and one can get the pleasure of seeing the book downloading within a few seconds. It also gave me the privilege to switch among various books, which, of course, is possible with print books too but then one needs to make the effort to look where one left that book after the last reading. For people like me who are already knocking at the door of senility since long ago (or vice versa), sometimes this becomes a big challenge in itself and the urge to pick that book just fades away without leaving any remembrance even.

continue here...

What's brewing (err.... frying) in the kitchen?
Ingredients - 
Urad dhuli : 1 cup
Rice flour : 2 tbsp
Onion : 1 medium (finely chopped)
Green chillies : 2 (finely chopped)
Curry leaves : 10-12 (coarsely torn)
Asafoetida : ¼ tsp
Red chilli powder : ¼ tsp
Coriander powder : ½ tsp (chopped into thin slivers)
Cocounut : 2 inch
Salt : to taste

recipe here...

Mouthpiece #50

Have a nice day ???
I was about to write the very customary ‘Have a nice day’ before signing off while writing a mail when a thought just flashed through my mind. The intensity of it was so strong that I had to erase the 'Have a nice day’ sentence and then I just pondered over it for a little while. Why do we wish that our dear ones should have a nice day? Any day is a day and will bring with it what it has to bring, what it is destined to bring. By wishing, that the day that comes to them should be good, we are actually underestimating the prowess of our dear ones. 

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A milestone of sorts...
I enjoy celebrating festivals, special days and significant milestones (in fact sometimes the milestones need not be that significant even). As I began composing this mouthpiece, I realised this is the 50th edition of this newsletter. Though a very humble one but still a milestone which gladdens my heart. Hope to keep sculpting my thoughts through this medium. 
What's cooking in the kitchen? Classic Bread Rolls
There are many dishes that I have carried forward without any variation, from my childhood days. Bread rolls is one of the fancy breakfast options, which goes with any weather and any mood. It is a great snack time dish too. Being a person who has special liking for traditional Punjabi snacks like samosa, aloo-tikki and chaat, bread rolls is the home made version to satisfy that craving whenever it arises.

recipe here...

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Mouthpiece #49

What's in the routine?

‘Routine’, the word sounds even more mundane than what it stands for. What can possibly be so special about routine because it is what everyone has to engage in anyway. Moreover, one can never outgrow it no matter how revolutionary one tends to become. But is that really so? Here I am not talking about the regular ablutions that every new day expects from us. I categorise those along with food, under the very basics, which are absolutely required to maintain the bodily machine. 

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What's cooking?
Potatoes and pooris - can anyone ever go wrong with this combination? This particular duo has immense capability of being anything that one wants it to be. From being part of religious bhojs, travel item, tiffin option to being a comfort food - aloo and poori can work best at all times and for all occasions or no occasion. Now when these two can come as a real saviour for all seasons and reasons, it is but natural that these can be prepared in a variety of ways too. So here are a few ways how I prepare aloo-sabzi. 

continue here...

Mouthpiece #48

Remembering you...
It was 24th of February, three years back. I got a call early in the morning from my mother that she is going to see a doctor for her persistent stomach pain. She had mentioned this pain to me earlier but would also tell me the possible reasons - must be some indigestion because of something that she ate the previous night or because of her being sedentary the whole day and not having gone for a walk. In the same breath she would stress upon the fact that currently she was feeling alright and nothing to worry about. I think this continued for a few months, but that day, the phone call did ring some strange bells in my mind - she was going to hospital willingly and was calling up to inform me, this itself was pretty strange. After a brief thought, I just pushed it like how I treat many other worrying things and then the normal chores do the rest. A phone call again jolted me out of my stupor of being on autopilot mode of time. This time it was my brother who wanted me to come over as he had some disturbing news to share with me.

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Mouthpiece #47

To you, with love and reverence...

I am a fiercely emotional person, erring on the side of being temperamental many times. While we all aim to bring in that elusive tranquility in our disposition, yet, I feel, experiencing the waves of emotions is equally important to live every moment to the fullest. I have likes, dislikes, passions and aversions and feel no qualms expressing them whenever emotions get the better of me.

continue here...

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mouthpiece #46

To New Beginnings...
“Inertia sets in with age”, I often hear it and myself am guilty of saying it many times on various occasions, and I don’t say it casually, I believe it and say it with full conviction whenever I do. As we keep adding years to our lives, the innate adventurous streak in our personality keeps getting more blunt because with experience we tend to weigh the pros and cons more and sometimes the analysis part itself tires us out and then one can just forget about taking it further.

continue here...

What's cooking? Besan ka puda/cheela
Chana besan : 1 cup
Onion : 1 big (finely chopped)
Ginger : 1 Inch (grated)
Coriander leaves : ¼ cup (finely chopped)
Green chillies : 2 (finely chopped)
Salt : to taste
Red chilli powder : ¼ tsp
Garam masala : 1 tsp
MDH Chana masala : 1 tsp
Coriander powder : 1 tsp
Oil : to grease the pan for shallow frying the pooda

recipe here...
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