Saturday, February 25, 2012

How to fry brinjal with minimum oil

Most Indians love to make some type of baingain (brinjal/aubergine) fry or the other. The preparation differs from region to region. However, as we become more calorie-conscious, we worry about eating delicious food and how to balance the amount of oil that is used to make them. According to Mallika Basu, author of the very popular, enticing cookbook, Miss Masala, here's an easy, healthy and effective tip to keep in mind:

"The trick to frying aubergines quickly and with minimum oil is to soak them in cold salted water beforehand. This prevents them from absorbing all oil in the pan and lying around uselessly for ages, refusing to cook."

Grab a copy of Mallika Basu's Miss Masala - Real Indian Cooking for Busy Living - that is full of peppy recipes that are easy to make, tasty to eat and has healthy tips for cooking too. I love the way she writers her recipes, it's like reading your best friend's confessions. Once you try out her recipes, you will have guests asking you to share them because her recipes are very delicious and easy to make. I must admit this: I've not had the courage to make her signature dish, Anda Raita, which has eggs in delicious raita. It's supposed to be one of the best and easiest dishes to make especially if you like serving biriyani to your guests.

The recipes that I made from Miss Masala - Real Indian Cooking for Busy Living and it turned out lip smacking delicious are:
  • Keema Matar - Minced meat with fresh peas and coriander
  • Dal Palak - Lentils cooked with spinach and aromatic garlic
  • Murgh Masala - The ultimate simple but tasty chicken curry



So, go fry the brinjals without worry and don't miss a chance to buy this book. You'll be able to show off your culinary skills even if they are non-existent to begin with (as is in my case!). Good luck!

♥♥  I thank you with all my heart for reading my post. I dedicate this post with love and gratitude to all those who enjoy cooking for their loved ones. REQUEST: Please SHARE this article on your favorite social networks. Every share, like or tweet makes me reach out to more people who enjoy experimenting with new and easy to make recipes. I am grateful and I appreciate you for doing so. ♥♥

How to make Creamy Garlic Potatoes

Here's another yummy, easy-to-make recipe I've got from Good Food magazine. It is from a French-born chef and well known cookery writer, Richard Bertinet. I've tried it and now its fast becoming a yummy habit, especially for my fussy son who loves this dish and demands it now as a matter of right. Kids will love this and so will grown-ups.

Here's how to get started while making creamy garlic potatoes:

Ings:
Enough potatoes to fill your tummy (cut in squares)
5 to 6 garlic cloves
Few drops of oil (i used peanut oil for this recipe)
Double cream 200 ml

Method: Heat the oil in a heavy pan, tip in the potatoes and let it get coated with oil. Season with salt and pepper. When all the potatoes are well coated with oil and you see them becoming sticky as they release starch into the pan, add the garlic and enough cream to just cover the potatoes like a warm layer. Take the pan off, check your seasoning. Tip the potatoes into the oven-proof dish.

Keep your oven-proof dish on a baking tray. It will keep your oven safe in case the creamy layer bubbles over. You can add a generous layer of grated cheddar cheese (it's not in the original recipe but I did this to make it yummier) and leave it to bake for about 30 to 40 mins. Serve with crusty bread and lots of love.



♥♥  I thank you with all my heart for reading my post. I dedicate this post with love and gratitude to all those who enjoy cooking for their loved ones. REQUEST: Please SHARE this article on your favorite social networks. Every share, like or tweet makes me reach out to more people who enjoy experimenting with new and easy to make recipes. I am grateful and I appreciate you for doing so. ♥♥

Friday, February 17, 2012

How to make Apple Berry Crumble

As a regular reader of GoodFood magazine, I picked up a simple recipe that I found to indulge my 'sweet' senses. It's really easy to make and its delicious. 
Here's the tweaked recipe:

6 red apples (finely chopped)
4-5 strawberries (cut into thin round pieces and then sliced into tinier pieces)
2 cinnamon sticks (broken)
5 tbsp sugar
1/2 an orange
75 gm butter
50 gm plain flour
50 gm oats

Method: Tip the chopped apple pieces into a bowl with sugar and cinnamon sticks. Squeeze the juice of half an orange and add to this bowl. Add the strawberries and mix well. Tip this fruit mixture into a baking dish. Pat it down. Chop three quarters of butter into small pieces and put it in the bowl with the flour. Make sure your hands are very clean because you have to use your fingers to mix the butter into the flour smoothly. Make it as soft as possible. So, knead it well. Stir in the oats and sprinkle it on top of the apple fruit mixture in the baking dish.

Dot the rest of the butter over the crumble. Let it bake in the oven for about 30 - 40 mins. You can serve it with ice cream or custard. I like to have it with Nutella hazelnut chocolate spread. Serve with lots of love.

♥♥  I thank you with all my heart for reading my post. I dedicate this post with love and gratitude to all those who enjoy cooking for their loved ones. REQUEST: Please SHARE this article on your favorite social networks. Every share, like or tweet makes me reach out to more people who enjoy experimenting with new and easy to make recipes. I am grateful and I appreciate you for doing so. ♥♥

Friday, February 10, 2012

How to run without letting your enemy catch up with you


I have not read a book by Thomas Perry before but I picked 'Runner' up because the plot excited me. It was about a fiercely independent Native American guide called Jane Whitefield who has an unusual profession. She helps people run to places so that they can disappear from their identity forever. The book, besides being a stunning, gripping thriller, also serves as a fantastic guide to be ahead of one's enemies in every way possible  way.
The story takes off when Jane finds herself helping a pregnant girl to run and escape from a bunch of hired hunters who are out to kill her. The girl is young and Jane keeps giving her tips on how to be ahead of the enemies once she's alone.
Here are some tips that I liked and thought I'd share with you: 
1. Don't want to be noticed by enemies? Look for signs that a place is safe before you even turn off your engine. Leave your car where its less conspicuous.
2. Do what it takes to defend yourself. A gallon of coffee won't kill anybody but it could send the person to a hospital.
3. It's important to walk through the world with your eyes open. You'll see danger ahead of time and you'll always find ways to escape.
4. Always take precautions that fit your situation. The point is to take every option that is available.
5. When running for a new identity, remember that any manufactured identity can be penetrated but most aren't. Why? Because all you have to do is behave in a way that makes everyone around you want you to succeed because you are nice to people and your presence doesn't threaten anyone.
Last but not the least, Jane tells the girl who is running away from the enemies, "They're dogs, we are rabbits. If the dog wins once, he gets to eat the rabbit. If the rabbit wins, all he gets is a chance to go on being a rabbit."
The book's a real treasure. Read it if you can. There's so much more in this book about human behavior that you'll love reading it. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

How optimistic/pessimistic are you?


One of my friends on Twitter and now Facebook, Jeena R Papaadi put an update on Facebook stating, "Optimism is like a spoilt child, who shoves food away when we try to spoon-feed it, remains defiant and refuses to grow despite our best efforts. Pessimism, on the other hand, is well-nourished, takes care of itself and grows at the speed of light."

All my life, I've been an optimist even in the most trying circumstances. I've developed it as an armor against all the struggles, tests and trials of life at every point. While I believe it has helped me grow, Jeena's point interested me that pessimism is well-nourished, takes care of itself and grows at the speed of life.

Another friend Shalini Puthiyedam stated in response, "Okies...coz I think this failing to say "I can" is a problem with perfectionists. :) Always tend to feel it is not the best result. So many a time I feel it is more perfectionism than pessimism that impedes progress."

That perspective from Shalini brought me a kind of new perspective to the topic. The fun part of being on Facebook is that these discussions happen real time and one gets an idea of how different people from one's own circle feel about these things based on their own experiences in life.  Shalini's point hit home, so to speak. Why?

I've been writing poetry, short stories and novels from the age of five. My parents always encouraged me. I have many publisher-friends who keep telling me to send in my work. I never do. I collect my works, keep them with me, read them on and off but I don't send it to any publisher because I feel it's not yet 'perfect.' I keep striving for perfection to be applied to something I am intent on bringing out into the world. I cannot simply let go believing it has a destiny of its own.

Shalini's observation on Jeena's update on optimism and pessimism is that it isn't pessimism that impedes progress, it is perfection. In my case, I'm bound to agree.
 
Tell me your thoughts on this. Any interesting quotes, observations and comments? I'd love to hear.

Cultural Performance of Bal Vikas children from Australia

In January 2012, a group of Bal Vikas children from Australia made a beautiful cultural presentation in Prashanti Nilayam. They explore the similarities between the beliefs of the aboriginals and the Vedic culture. 

In aboriginal cultures, every atom of life is the essence of God. Their dreaming philosophy is identical to our Vedic culture. That came as a new learning for me.

If you are interested to see the entire presentation here from the Bal Vikas children, please visit:

Start of the Day: Take pride in your language

Dunno why but at the start of the day, a quote of Jawaharlal Nehru sprung to mind, "The only way for a people to grow, for their children to learn is through their own language."


Last year, while I was traveling in Kochi with my sister, the driver who was taking us told me, "I heard you and your sister studied outside Kerala most of the years. But you both speak our language beautifully better than most people here. How do you do that?"


I said that my parents insisted we learn to speak, read and write Malayalam wherever we were. That's as simple and effective as it gets.


Start of the Day: Do our kids know their own roots?
Today, our kids learn the names of plants, trees, rhymes and everything from other countries more than their own. Gradually, it is from the home or sometimes from dedicated teachers they learn about their own local facts. For example, our kids know about trees, birds, plants in other countries more than what is in their own backyard. 


Start of the Day: Are we going overboard with 'global' thinking?
Spiritual masters - take any of them - spent years trying to explore and understand their own roots before going to any place else. We think that we are doing a favor to our kids by telling them to learn what is globally relevant. Good enough but should it mean that we don't teach them what is locally relevant as well?


Start of the Day: Languages have real, original gems that we know little about
Try translating a beautiful proverb in an Indian language to English. You will find that it loses its soul and essence. So, imagine the great loss that each Indian language faces when each generation loses touch with it. The power and reach of one's own language cannot and should not be underestimated.


It could be because I meet many Malayalis in India who take immense pride in saying they can hardly speak their mother tongue Malayalam. I also have many Bengali friends who complain the same that their children have lost touch with their language and cannot read or speak it well. So, this is a far spreading malaise that can wipe out the beauty and essence of a variety of Indian languages.


English is a global language but to put it plainly, you don't switch mothers when you see a beautiful English woman, do you? Mother is always a mother. The same applies to one's own language, religion and country.


As globalization and its effects embrace us, lets respect that and teach our kids about their own roots. Let them embrace their identity with more awareness and understanding.


Or, do we want to bring up children who are totally ignorant about themselves - their language, their tradition and beliefs, their country?


I don't and will not take such a risk.

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India is my Country & my Pride