Thursday, December 31, 2015

Tidings of 2015: and a Salute to 2016



Tampa, Florida, Dec 30th, 2015.










“You don’t need to be the tide to rise and fall, 
you don’t have to be a wave to touch the shore; 

just be a little sand-grain and feel them all” 
― Munia Khan



2015 was a giant tidal wave that left me breathless. 

I ushered it in with promises of a new career  - one that would offer me the flexibility that I needed while taking me a step closer to the path that I had always wanted to carve out for myself. The experience was still very new when I was challenged to confront the ghosts of the years past. Fears and my insecurities mocked at me, gave me no choice but to look them in the eye, surrender and embrace.

I had been looking forward to new professional path; just as fervently as I had been avoiding facing my own sorrow and despair.  Grappling with both, within the first half of the year, caught me completely off-guard and exposed my deep-rooted, carefully-hidden vulnerabilities to myself again. The first change was the one I consciously made, and was excited about; the second- even though I made the decision of my own will, was enormously heart-wrenching. But with both, I learnt that accepting the change as inevitable is the most difficult concept of all. Emotions and fear of the unexpected is just a way to come to terms with; and to cope with the change - of any kind. 

Krabi, Thailand, June 29th  2015.
The second half of the year threw more transitions my way. Not as emotionally exhausting; but equally inordinate. Looking back at 2015, I have learnt that however unforeseen or painful; life-lessons are meant to take us places we would never dare to go and transform us into people we were meant to be.

2016; will be.......2016.  An invigorating step forward in the path of life that is yet to come. As the sun sets on 2015 tonight, I promise to reflect on the years gone by; and ones yet to come; to again remind myself to face my fears, surrender and go with the flow of the inevitable, to be that grain of sand that soaks it all in and emerges stronger than the biggest tsunami.

For you, I will wish for Hope & Happiness; Goals & Successes; Love & Laughter.


I wish you a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR 2016.









Sunday, August 9, 2015

Daily Dinner (21): Weekend Indulgence - Paalak ki Poorie


Once in a while, I give in to indulgence- in the name of children, award to self for good behavior, or just because….

Weekends are especially tempting. I find it harder to stick to a diet and exercise regimen when I am at home all day. Goodies beckon, and everyday lunch salads are the furthest from my mind. It is a good thing that the kids love poories - the fried Indian bread. To break the guilt, I do keep a little green (as in salad) on the side. Plus, I try to sneak in veggies in the poorie itself for the kids.

Every mom I know of has her own way of making this universal kids’ favorite. But here’s how I make my Paalak ki Poorie for an indulgent weekend meal.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Ghee - A guide to slow cooker version.


Ghee is the name for anhydrous butter fat, an ingredient originating and deeply revered in IndiaAyurveda, the ancient medical science of India, recognizes ghee as an essential part of a balanced diet, and celebrates it as a  symbol of auspiciousness, nourishment and healing. Ghee is the very essence of butter; the end result of a long, slow, careful clarification process that removes all the moisture, milk solids and impurities. The butter is melted and the simmered long enough to boil off all the water, during which time it separates into layers and the fat takes on a buttery taste. Ghee is the layer of clear butter fat. The slow cooking needs to be precise, or else the fat layer burns and darkens easily.

One of the oldest memories I have is of my grandmother making ghee; and of me relishing every ingredient in the process. Naani began by starting to collect malai (milk fat) - she would buy cow’s milk for days, and simmer boil it for hours on end in a bronze pot. After the milk cooled down, she skimmed off the thick layer of fat that formed on the top of the milk. She was always gracious enough to ladle out large spoonfuls of this malai into our outstretched bowls. We’d layer our parathas with sugared malai for lunch, instead of the boring sabzi.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Warm Comforts - Savory Oats Upma

About a year ago, while I was still working at the University, a new student joined our group. After a long time, Having a fellow-Indian to talk to at work place meant that lunch-time conversations often meandered towards reminiscing about food in India. A month or so later, her husband went to visit his parents in Southern India, and when he returned, she came bearing some gifts for me. One of which were packets of the very popular, "Maggi" brand instant oats breakfast. Apparently, that product had recently been launched in India, and she really liked the convenience of it for breakfast. You essentially had to pour out the ingredients into a bowl, put in some water, zap it for a couple of minutes in the microwave and you had a warm bowl of Indian breakfast.

"I never eat Maggi"; I informed her, referring to the widely popular instant noodles available in India. "I hate the smell of it."

"This one isn't the same", she said. "This is made of oats and tastes like Upma. You do like Upma, don't you?" 

That is how I ended up with 3 packs of this Maggi Oats Upma product. 


The packs languished in my pantry for a few months. Then one night, I found myself alone, hungry and craving something warm without having to go through the pain of cooking or cleaning after. Rummaging through, I found these packs again. With no other alternative in sight, I decided to go for it. 5 minutes later, with a warm bowl in hand and a Hallmark movie on demand for company; I decided that I actually liked what I was eating. It was a tad too spicy for my taste, and still had that artificial flavor after-taste; but it was comforting and hearty.