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Friday, December 30, 2011

Lucky Library Picks#4

Here is the last of Lucky Library Picks post this year. Check out this to know what it is all about! You can find my other Lucky Library Picks posts here.

This week I have 2 books to share from the library. I had brought them from the library before it closed for Christmas.
The first one is:
Ecilipse by Stephenie Meyer
I have read the first two books of the twilight series, Twilight and New Moon and I am really looking forward to read the rest of the series.
The second is:
The Goddess Village by Nuala Woulfe
This is a new author I have picked this time in my endeavor to read more of Irish author. The blurb from the back of the book is interesting and I am hoping to enjoy reading it.

Do you have any Lucky Library Picks this week? Leave a link and I will visit your page to check out.
Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

This is a scheduled post.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

All About Books~ The Death of Vishnu by Manil Suri & The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

It has been a while since I did a post on books. I am a regular reader but of late the books I laid my hands on did not entertain/impress me and for that reason, I have not been very enthusiastic about writing about them.

I picked up The Death of Vishnu by Manil Suri just by chance. The title of the book and the Indian name of the author intrigued me and the blurb was interesting too.
"Vishnu, the odd-job man in a Bombay apartment block, lies dying on the staircase landing: Around him the lives of the apartment dwellers unfold: the warring housewives on the first floor, lovesick teenagers on the second, and the widower, alone and quietly grieving on the top floor of the building. In a fevered state Vishnu looks back on his love affair with the seductive Padmini and wonders if he might actually be the god Vishnu, guardian of the entire universe.
Blending incisive comedy with Hindu mythology and a dash of Bollywood sparkle, The Death of Vishnu is an intimate and compelling view of an unforgettable world."

The book started in a promising way with the author dwelling on the lives of the inhabitants of the apartment block in question, where the man named Vishnu was lying, dying every moment. The author has done a commendable job on the character building of each of the character, but I found the story line itself very confusing. The author has tried to imbibe too many things into the story without focusing on anything in particular. I found the mythological mix in the story very weird and it is what that disappointed me. Vishnu on his death,actually imagined himself to be Lord Vishnu (from Hindu mythology) and was hallucinating about it through out the story. All thanks to the nutcase, Mr Jalal. I finished the book just for the sake of it even though I had lost interest half way into the novel. It was an unsatisfying read with a gripping start, vivid characters,too many sub plots, no main storyline and an absurd ending. I do not recommend it to anyone.

The second book that I picked up was The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai. 

I had a hard time reading this book. I was really looking forward to reading it and I had added it to my To Read List 2011. I gave up the first time I picked it up early this year. But, then again I felt I should trying reading it again. But, it couldn't hold my interest for long. There is something about these Man Booker Books that is above my understanding. 

 Here is the blurb from the book cover:

"High in the Himalayas sits a dilapidated mansion, home to three people, each dreaming of another time.
The judge, broken by a world too messy for justice, is haunted by his past. His orphaned granddaughter has fallen in love with her handsome tutor,despite their different background and ideals. The cook's heart is with his son, working far away in a New York restaurant, mingling with an underclass from all over the globe as he seeks somewhere to call home.

Around the house swirl the forces of revolution and change. Civil unrest is making itself felt, stirring up inner conflicts as powerful as those dividing the community, pitting the past against the present, nationalism against love, a small place against the troubles of a big world."

It was a difficult read and pathetically slow. The narrative was monotonous and unenthusiastic. I do not want to crib more about this book. It was just not my kind of read and I abandoned it after reading half way through.

 If you have read these books and have different opinion, I would like to hear from you. Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

PS: I am reading Deception Point by Dan Brown at the moment. It is a typical Brown novel and I am enjoying it. It will be 2012 when I write about it.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Samosa ~The Indian Appetizer ~ For Blog Hop Wednesdays

I know books are not featuring in my posts for a long time now. Of late I have been blogging about food only. I can't help it when the season is so festive. With Christmas over, we are at the cusp of new year. 

Yeah! I can't really believe that 2011 is going to be over in  just a few days and I am sure most of us are making some new year resolutions or other. I know many would say, new year resolutions are crap, no one sticks to them. But, at the back of our mind we do set some goals for ourselves.  Wondering where this conversation is heading towards when you actually have a luring 'Samosa' picture at the beginning of the post! For those who  do not know what Samosa is:

Samosa is a pyramid-shaped pastry stuffed with a savory potatoes peas filling. It is calorie rich, deep fried, famous Indian appetizer/road side snack.

I am ACTUALLY thinking of abstaining from deep fried food at least for the first month of 2012, so thought it was a good idea to indulge in these yummy samosas, one last time this year. 

And why was I tempted to make them after all?

For Blog Hop Wednesdays, an bi monthly event by Radhika, I am assigned Sukanya's Saffron Steaks, a beautiful blog about food and travel. As I was browsing through her space, I found she blogs from Kolkata. She has posted a number of recipes and when I saw this, I knew I had to make it soon. I have just tweaked the filling from being cauliflower based to potato based.


This recipe makes 8 samosas.

Ingredients:


Dough:


1 1/2 cup AP flour.

1/2 tsp salt.
3-4 tbsp oil.
1/2 tsp carom/ ajwain seeds.

Filling:

3-4 large boiled potatoes peeled and mashed finely.

½ tsp cumin seeds
2 chopped green chilies
½ tsp garam masala
½ teaspoon mango powder.
½ tsp turmeric powder.
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
½ cup green peas.
1 carrot grated.
2 tsp grated ginger.
2-3 tbsp peanuts
Handful of fresh coriander leaves chopped.

Process: 

1.       1. For the dough mix the AP flour, ajwain seeds, salt and oil together to make dough. Use water little by little and knead the dough for about 1 to 2 minutes to make it smooth. Set the dough aside let it sit dough sit for at least 15 minutes before using it for the samosa.

2.      2.  For making the potato filling, heat the oil in a frying pan on medium high heat. Add cumin seeds, as it cracks, add green chilies, grated ginger and sauté for few seconds. Next add the peanuts and cook for a few minutes.

3.       3.Add the mashed potatoes, grated carrot, peas and all the spices and cook for about 4-5 minutes.  Add the chopped coriander leaves and mix well. Take the pan off the gas. Let the potato masala cool down.
4.       

4. Now to make the samosa knead the dough for a minute and divide it into 4 equal balls. Roll each of it into 6-7inch diameter rotis and cut each roti in half. 

5.  5.  Now fold the half roti into a cone shape. Pinch the side of this cone so that it is completely sealed. Use some water at the edges to help in sealing. Fill the cone with 3-4 tablespoons of filling. Press this filling down with your fingers. Now close the top of this cone into a triangle shape, pinching the top edge so that it is completely sealed. 

6.  6.  Heat oil in a deep pan on high heat. Once heated turn it to medium and after a minute add the samosas. Fry the samosas on medium high until they turn a light golden-brown color on all sides. Turn them when one side is done so that it is fried evenly on all sides.

7.   7.  Put samosas 2-3 at a time so that the pan is not crowded or it depends on the size of the pan. Once fried put the samosa on a paper towel so that excess oil is soaked out.

Serve Hot with Tamarind Chutney, Green Chutney or Tomato Ketchup. Enjoy it with a cup of Tea or Coffee!

Notes:
1. Fry them in medium heat only. If the oil is too hot bubbles will form on the shell of the samosa and the samosa shell will not be crisp enough. 

2. The oil added to the dough is important. Do not skip it, otherwise the samosa shell will not be crisp.

3. Add the filling into the dough pastry only after it has cooled down to room temperature.

Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Heartiest Christmas Wishes with Chocolate and Dates Cake (Eggless)

At the very outset my heartiest wishes to all who celebrates Christmas. Wish you a very merry and fun filled Christmas!
Whether you celebrate this festival or not, you can't miss the festivity in the air and of course good food is all a part of the festive spirit. As everybody, I can't miss the opportunity to indulge in something delicious and of course baking comes to my mind.


I made this cake for a small get together at a friend's place. I was received well by my friends and in fact my DH also gave a thumbs up to it even though he is not a very big dates fan. The taste of dates is very subtle and in this particular cake it helps to accentuate the chocolate flavour. This recipe actually comes from one of my friends. I have only experimented a little by adding cocoa to it. 
 
Without much ado let's hop to the recipe:

Ingredients:

1 cup minus 2 tbsp AP Flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup pitted dates(About 15-18 soaked in water for 2-3 hours or overnight).
1 tsp baking powder.
3/4 tsp baking soda.
1/4 cup melted butter.
1/4 cup water used for soaking dates.
1/2 cup milk.
Process:

1. Grease a 6'' square cake tin and preheat the oven at 180C.
2. Churn the dates along the water and milk to make a smooth paste.
3. Shift flour, baking powder, soda 2-3 times together so that it is well blended.
4. Cream in the sugar and butter till well incorporated and fluffy.
5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients whisking all the time.
6. Whisk till the batter is smooth, around 2-3 minutes.
7. Pour into the pre greased tin and bake at 180 C for 20 mins and then lower the temperature to 160 C and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
8. Let it rest in the tin for 5-10 mins before turning it on a wire rack to cool.
9. Cool completely and slice. Serve.

Thank you for stopping by! Merry Christmas! Cheers!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Saffron Almond Milk

I have never really loved drinking milk. I used have have it daily as a child but as soon as I left home for studies, I forgo the habit. I love milk based sweets, smoothies, shakes etc but plain milk has never been my choice. Of late, I started having a lot of problem with my skin. It would crack so often. Medicines, ointments didn't help much. It was then my mom said have milk and almonds everyday, it will be good for the skin and it will help build immunity against cold and blustery weather. And she would specifically stress on having 'milk' being very important for women.

I googled about it and found that many people had the same opinion. It is sometime now, I am doing that and believe me I am noticing the changes already.


In this cold weather, I need a hot comforting drink and this saffron and almond milk is perfect option. I know I should have given heed to my mother's advise early. But as the saying goes, 'Better late than never'. I will definitely stick to this habit from now on.

Here is how I make it.

Ingredients:

5 Almonds soaked for 1-2 hours or overnight and peeled.
1 cup milk
1 cardamom pod powdered.
Sugar to taste.
A few strands of Saffron

Process:

1. Blend the almonds with a little milk into a smooth paste.
2. Boil a cup of milk with cardamom and saffron added to it.
3. when it comes to boil add the almond paste and simmer for a minute. Add sugar to taste.
4. Cool the milk to your desired temperature and serve.

You can strain it first if you like. I do not strain it as I love the almonds bits and the cardamom residue actually settles at the bottom on their own.
 Enjoy this healthy drink with biscuits or indulge in some homemade cookies. Thank you for stopping by. Cheers!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

#23 Teaser Tuesdays~ The Death of Vishnu by Manil Suri

 "Mr. Jalal stared at the words. The brown print stood like dried blood against the yellow of the paper. He ran his fingers across the letters, half expecting the clotted ink to come off against his fingertips, red and rejuvenated."


Page: 85


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page


BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists!

Do check out Lucky Library Picks on this blog.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Paneer Methi Malai ~ Restaurant Style!!

While updating the list of recipes here, I found that I have posted only 2 recipes of Indian curries. Now, that is really a shame as curries are an integral part of the Indian food. In fact, I have met so many people here who perceive Indian food to consist solely of hot and spicy curries. I know that would not be a very appropriate way to describe our Indian food, but none the less it is true that Indian food is famous world wide more for it curries. Don't you agree?

On scanning my drafts, I found that a few curry recipes were lying dormant. So, here I am with one of our favorite curry of all time- Paneer Methi Malai. As I have already professed earlier here in different posts, we are a paneer loving family and every other weekend DH would pester me to prepare a weekend special paneer curry. Even when we go for dinner at restaurants, a paneer curry is a must and I think this must be the case with most Indian vegetarian families.

Lets hop to the recipe now:


2-3 tbsp oil
¼ cup chopped onion.
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 garlic clove, grated
2 tbsp kasoori methi
200 gm paneer (Store bought) cubed and put them in hot water till needed.
2 cloves
Small piece cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 green cardamom pounded
pinch of asafoetida
Handful chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2-3 tbsp fresh cream.
Salt to taste.
Water as needed.

Serves 4

Process:
1. Heat oil in a pan. Add asafoetida, cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cardamom and cumin seeds and let it cook for a few seconds. Add garlic and onions. Saute them on medium heat until onions are slightly brown, stirring every couple of minutes.
2. Blanch tomatoes by adding them to very hot water and peel off the skin. Chop them into pieces. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and add all the spices except kasoori methi and garam masala and continue cooking on medium heat onions and tomatoes mixture start leaving the sides of the pan leaving oil on the sides.
3. Now take the gravy off heat and churn it in a blender into a smooth paste. Take out all the whole spices before grinding. Put it back to the pan. Add water to get the desired consistency and cook for another couple of minutes.
4. Now add the paneer cubes and stir. Add the kasoori methi, garam masala and stir. Cook for a few minutes and then add cream and stir.
5. Add handful of coriander and use some of it to garnish.
Goes well with Naan, Roti or Parathas. Enjoy!
Thank you for stopping by. Cheers!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

A look at my to read list 2011 and I realized that I had not touched the Twilight Series after reading the first novel of the series sometime early this year, which by the way I really enjoyed. I felt it was just right to pick up the next in series right away and I did.

The story in New Moon starts from where it ended in Twilight. Bella is back to Forks after being rescued from the clutches of the evil vampire- James, by Edward and company. Life goes on fine until Bella's birthday. Give it to her all known, characteristic clumsiness, she has a paper cut and blood trickles out of her finger at a birthday bash at Edward's home, in the full company of his vampire family. As what can be well guessed, Edward jumps off to protect Bella from being prey to any hungry vampire. It it this incident that makes Edward realize that things can't go this way forever and that he is risking Bella's life every moment he is with her. The whole of the Cullen's family decides to leave Forks and find a new dwelling. Edward leaves Bella and asks her to move forward in life. From there on Bella is inconsolable, melodramatic and sulky. In trying to bring her life to normalcy she renews her friendship with Jacob Black. Things in Bella's life gets complicated when something happens to Jacob, a transformation, that makes him the eternal enemy of the vampire clan. Still, all is until Edward is out of picture. But how long can he be out of Bella's life?

I think I have given enough of the story line, but still I can assure you that there is much more to the story. I liked the book in parts. I was really loosing my patience after reading some 50 odd pages. Bella was depressed, sulking all the time and living her life as a lifeless zombie. She constantly talked about THAT hole in her heart, that was not healing and was constantly getting worse with time. She had recurring nightmares that truly established that something is not quite right about her. I was almost getting irritated, the way she behaved, until the author added the new twist of Jacob Black to the story. I found Jacob's character very warm and like-able. Bella herself describes him as one cheerful person who spreads smiles and warmth. In fact Bella's character in this part struck me as selfish at times. Of course, she was using Jacob to diminish her own sorrow and I wonder if she would be there when Jacob needs her. The high point for me in this part was the friendship of Bella and Jacob. But as is known that 'Bella and Edward' are the couple and in the next part of the series, I am sure the author is going to come up with something to portray him as a bad character which I am not really looking forward to. Having said that, I must add that I will definitely read the rest of the series for I find the whole premise of the novel fascinating. I did not think that a vampire - human love story could hold my interest this long. Even though there are things that seem very predictable, the author has given finer details that makes it an interesting read.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lucky Library Picks#3

Here is another edition of Lucky Library Picks. Check out this to know what it is all about! You can find my other Lucky Library Picks posts here.
 I have 3 three books to share this week.
Touchy Subjects by Emma Donoghue

Ever since I read Room by Emma Donoghue I wanted to read some more of the author's work and so I picked this book up from the library as soon as I saw it and I am really looking forward to it.

Ghost Light by Joseph O'Connor


When this book was released this year, it was there everywhere, from shops to billboards. But, the title of the book did not seem to me as alluring. When I read the blurb from the back of the book, I was really intrigued and hence picked it up. I am also trying to read as many Irish authors as possible.

Arranged Marriages by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

The Palace of Illusions by the same author is one of my favorite reads this years. That naturally left me yearning for more from the author. Being an Indian, I can naturally relate to the topic of this book, Arranged Marriages and I am eager to see how the author has treated this subject.

I have just finished reading New Moon by Stephenie Meyer, so it's review is up next. Stay tuned!
Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Eggless Nutella Brownies

I have recently become an ardent 'Nutella' fan. I look forward to having it with toasted bread, or in my shake or in cold coffees. Even sometimes, I have the urge to have a spoonful of it by itself, licking the spoon to polish it off any trace of it. I know it is not all good, but sometimes I really want to indulge myself with whatever I like. For a long time I had set my eyes of these brownies and finally I did bake them. In this festive season when everyone seems to be on baking high, when the blogging world seems to be flooded with baking recipes, I simply couldn't resist myself baking one. Just to make sure I do not end up eating all by myself, I shared them with a few people at work, and the way they came to thank me for these delicious brownies, I knew it was a hit.
I have tweaked the original recipe to lower the fat ingredients and also to suit it to my taste. Without much ado let check the recipe:
Adapted from: US Masala
(Click here for the printable version of the recipe)
Ingredients:
200 gm Nutella
1 cup AP Flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup low fat yoghurt
1/3 cup oil, I used sun flower oil
1/2 cup milk
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup dry toasted chopped hazelnuts
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp instant coffee powder
a pinch of salt.

Process:
1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease and dust a 9X9 inch square pan. Heat Nutella in a microwave safe bowl till it is runny in consistency.
2. Shift all the dry ingredients. Add nuts to it and stir.
3. In another bowl, whisk oil and milk. Add yogurt and sugar and whisk for another minute. To it add Nutella and vanilla extract and stir again. Pour it into the dry ingredient mixture and stir till well incorporated.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake it at 180C for 25-30 minutes, till the top looks done ans skewer inserted comes clean.
5. After 30 minutes, take it out of the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes before taking them out. Slice and serve them warm with vanilla ice cream for that ultimate treat!

Linking it to Suma's Cookie Fest, Bake Fest #2 started by Vardhini hosted by Sangeeta of Spicy Treats,
 Thanks for stopping by! Cheers!

Channa Masala ~ Chole ki Subji ~ Chickpea Curry - For Blog Hop Wednesdays From Tickling Palates





For Blog Hop Wednesdays, this week I am assigned Radhika's Blog. Radhika is the brain behind the concept of this Blog Hop Event. To Know more about it check this.


Radhika has a beautiful blog with recipes of a wide variety. You could find recipes from South Indian Cuisine, Mughlai food, Indian Street food, Cakes and Bakes etc. I have tried a couple of recipes from her blog already. Aloo Anardana Chaat is one of the hits and also I have bookmarked a couple of her Mughlai Cuisine recipes. But, for todays' post I chose this Channa Masala as I and DH were in the mood for chickpea curry. I have tweaked the recipe a little to have more gravy than hers as I was intending to serve it with Jeera Rice.

Ingredients:

½ cup chick peas.
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 tomatoes, blanched, peeled and pureed.
2tbsp concentrated tomato paste,(It gives the curry a beautiful red colour).
2 green chilli chopped finely.
1 tsp grated ginger.
3 tbsp oil.
1 tsp cumin seeds.
1 tsp red chilli powder.
1/2 tsp turmeric powder.
1 tsp garam masala(or you could use whole spices, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves and cardamom)
1 tsp chole masala.
2 tsp coriander powder.
2 tsp salt or to taste.
2 tbsp tamarind paste.
2 tbsp ketchup.
A handful of coriander leaves chopped finely for garnishing.


Process:

1. Soak the chick peas for 8 hours or overnight. They will increase to twice their volume. Cook them in pressure cooker. Add 2 cups of water, ¼ tsp of turmeric powder and ½ tsp of salt and pressure cook for 2-3 whistles. The chickpeas must be nice tender but not mushy.

2. Heat a heavy bottom pan. Add oil and when heated add cumin seeds such that they crack right away. Add the chopped chillies and grated ginger. Sauté it for a few seconds. Add the chopped onion and sauté till it is light golden in colour. Add the tomato puree and cook for 2 minutes. 

3. Add all the spices. Cook for 2 minutes, so that the spices are nicely roasted. Add the boiled chickpeas. Mix well. If the consistency of the gravy is too thick add ½ cup of water and cook for 2-3 minutes. 


4. When it is cooked add the tamarind paste and ketchup. Stir well. Heat for another 2 minutes and take it off the gas. Transfer in a serving bowl and garnish it with chopped coriander leaves.

Serves with Rotis, Parathas or Rice.


 Check out what other Blog Hoppers are up with . Thank You for stopping by! Cheers!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

#22 Teaser Tuesdays- New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

Before sharing today's teaser, I would like to tell you about a meme I have started, Lucky Library Picks which happens every alternate Friday. Do check out the details here and see if you are interested in participating. It is very simple. Lucky Library Picks#3 is happening this Friday 16th December, do play along! Also check out Lucky Library Picks #1 and #2. Thanks.

 "I chased him back to the truck. Wait! I called as he turned towards the house. He spun around to face me, and I saw that his hands were shaking again."
Page: 270

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page


BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists!


Reading List and A2Z Book Challenge 2012

Time flies! I can't believe, its December already and we are just a couple of weeks away from the new year!

The last month of a year is the time for me for contemplation, to look behind at all the months gone by and to rejoice the successes that were there and to learn from the stumbling blocks. It is also the time of the year when I make plans for the coming year, some resolutions and some personal milestone etc. Last year, I had made a list of To Read Books 2011 and its time to check how I have been faring. Of all the books I had listed to read, I think I am going to leave a few of the deliberately. You must be wondering why?


I came across this A2Z Book Challenge 2011 in Lindy's Blog. It is hosted by Lindsey of Babies Books and Signs and I have made up my mind to gear up for this challenge. It is a simple concept but somewhat challenging, you have to read a book starting with each letter of the English alphabet. Here are the two ways how Lindsy says it can work:

A - Make a list now of 26 books, picking one for each letter of the alphabet. For example: A - Atonement B- Black Beauty C - The Count of Monte Cristo D - Dances with Dragons etc.

OR

B - The lazy way (how I do it) : Make a list on your blog from A-Z. Throughout the year, as you go along, add the books you are reading to the list. Hope that by the end of the year you have read one book for each letter. Towards the end of the year, you can check and see which letters you are missing and find books to fit.

Since it is really hard to find titles beginning with X, the letter X just needs to be in the title somewhere.

Of Course, I am in for the lazy way and here is my alphabet list which I intend to fill up by the end of next year!

A. Arranged Marriage by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
B. Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel
C.
D. Deception Point by Dan Brown
E. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
F.
G.
H. Home by Manju Kapur,
I.
J.
K. Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer
L. Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga
M. Miss Masala by Mallika Basu
N.
O. Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer
P. The Playgroup by Janey Fraser
Q.
R. The Rescue by Nicholas Sparks
S.
T. Touchy Subjects by Emma Donoghue
U.
V.
W.
X.
Y.
Z. 

The books I intentionally choose to leave will fit in this list. I will write about my 2011 reading experience in a different post later!
Thanks for stopping by! Cheers!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest by Steig Larsson

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest by Steig Larsson is the 3rd and last book of the Millennium trilogy. I really do not know how to start about it. I am kind of sad that we won't be able to read anything else by the author and that the millennium trilogy is over. It is indeed sad and a rather cruel turn of destiny that the author died shortly after writing the phenomenal series.

The story starts right from the point it was left in the 2nd series. Lisbeth is badly wounded with severe injuries and a bullet lodged into her brain and has been rushed into a hospital. So, also is the man who tried to kill her, her father, Zalachenko, a Russian gangster. She is fighting for her life and even if she recovers her worries are far from over. She has been charged for a number of crimes in Sweden and after recovery she has to stand her trail and fight not only to prove her innocence but also to bring to light those in the government who misused their power and did injustice to vulnerable people like her. Her journalist friend Blomkvist is more than ready to help her but there are forces that are constantly working against them. Whether and how Lisbeth would be able to free herself from the charges and bring down the criminals behind closed doors is a thing to read in the novel. Take my words for it, you won't be disappointed.

Crime fiction is not a genre I usually read and it was only after one of my friends told me about how fabulous the series is, I picked up the first book and the second and then the last. As a reader, I can appreciate how the author has structured the story and brought about to the reader. One of the main strength of the series is the characters. They are so plausible, believable and real that even if they are doing things that seems unbelievable, you are inclined to think that, yes it is possible. The ingenious hacking skills of Lisbeth for one thing, is an important aspect of the story on which depends how the story is going to take shape. The story seems very straight forward at first and you feel as you can guess what is going to happen next. But, wait! It takes a totally unexpected turn. That is the quality that keeps the readers hooked to it till they have turned the last page. There are some sub plots, like Berger getting anonymous threatening mails, which does not have much to do with the main story line and still it is accommodated so well that it actually works for the story.

At one point when the trail of Lisbeth was over, I really thought that this was it. But, no, there is more - that is Larsson for you! The novel has all the ingredients from the first and the second series, namely child abuse, sex trafficking, financial fraud dealings, misuse of power by the ones in power etc etc. The author has provided us with a story has a good balance of all these and it is indeed thought provoking. The only thing that didn't work for me was when the author goes into minute political details of Sweden at times. But all in all an excellent read, one of the kind that will be in your memory forever. I am kind of at a loss that it is over.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Some Pictures and Some Tales

I am not very good at deciding on a title when it comes to a post where I just want to talk. Deciding on a title for a recipe or a book review is down right simple, isn't it? So, bear with this weird title for a post that has neither recipe nor book reviews but some pictures and tales.

The weather here is right now very unsettled. If you watch the weather report on national television here, you will notice that the just keep repeating a few words like, it is going to be cold and blustery with persistent rain and wind, with chancing of frost etc..etc..so much so that I actually feel very depressed. In those moments, memories of the good sunny Indian visit comes flashing in my mind. Talking of that, I remember how I grumbled about the heat and humidity there but, definitely now the cold weather is taking its toll on me.

After coming back from my India visit, I took my time to settle down here and then got busy with the Diwali preparation. That reminds me that I didn't share pictures of my Rangoli here, which I am doing right now because, we all know 'Its better late than never'. I searched the net for a Ganesha Rangoli and decided on the simplest design and I did it with rice. I was happy with my amateur design and was actually over the top when my DH said it came out nice. I must say that praises doesn't come from that way often.



Now coming to the tale part of the post. I had told you about our Puri visit in this post. It so happened that we went to the famous Jagannath temple there. We are Jain by religion but that is no hindrance to our paying a visit to temples to pay our homage. I had been there last year as well. Since, Puri is just a over night train journey, it is very convenient for us to go there for a short trip. We knew what we would face if we went there in the morning, the temple is usually very crowded in the morning, so we decided to go there in the evening when the rush is relatively less.

We bought 'prasad' to offer to the deities which were available to buy in the temple premises and went inside. As expected we were surrounded by a number of 'pandas', the so called priests who pestered us to come with them so that they could help us in our 'puja'(prayers). We decided not to hire one and went inside. There were priests inside who would take our 'prasad' and offer it to the deities and bring it back. That was where the unexpected happened. The priest would not take our prasad if we did not put money in it! We do prefer to make our offering through the donation box. After much nagging, my husband parted with a fifty rupees note, which for the priest, was not sufficient and he asked for more as there we two of us to make the offering. My DH was reluctant and some what irritated and angry with the demand and did not give in. It was then another priest came in and said that he would do it. And you know what, that fifty rupees went into his pocket.

That was not the end of it.

Then we went around the temple and came across a sacred tree. It is said that if you sit underneath it and and wish for something and then tie a thread to it, you wish will be granted. Like most people we wanted to do it. But when we went closer we found that there was a make shift place there where a priest was sitting. We went ahead sat there and as soon as we went ahead to take a thread from the pile, the priest said, it is Rs 100 per thread. Now, this was too much and we decided not to do it, not because that sum was too much for us, but because they had made a business of the sacred temple and it was this practice that we did not want to support. As we were making our way back, I could hear the priest saying that if you want to make a wish you have to pay it!

I personally feel such practices in temples are actually make a joke of the sacred shrine and I do not see that things are really going to change with most people ready to give in such demands to avoid the wrath of the priests. Have you ever come across such situations?

I remember talking about the nephew- Pranay too in my post here. Here are a few more pictures. Like most kids he enjoys his time in the bath doing, chabal, chabal (his words for splashing water).

I pampered him a lot with chocolates. My sis was really angry about that and threatened to do the same with my kid (when I have one, she will have to wait for her sweet revenge). I think there is no other better way to make friends with kids other them offering them chocolates. 

It so happened that one day me and my sis and the kid went to a tailor. While she went inside his shop, I waited outside with Pranay. He was getting uncontrollable, since his mother was paying more attention to the tailor than him and subsided only when I offered to buy him chocolates. I took him to a near by store to buy him a candy. But, no! He had already set his eyes on a big Dairy Milk Celebration Pack and wouldn't budge an inch without it. And I had to buy it for him. No doubt my sis was furious! That was not all, he teared the packet and stuffed all the chocolates into his pocket. Guess what, he knew his mother well!

You can see he has long tresses and now it is all one, as he is done with his 'mundan' ceremony. These pictures are about 2 months old and he now has a grass like hairs. But, I loved his previous look.

Doesn't he look like Junior Dakku Kalia! But, look at that smile.. After shedding a few tears when his head was shaved off, he was back to normal. I wish I could be so care free too!

So, this is all for today. I am finished with 'The Girl who Kicked The Hornets' Nest' By Steig Larsson. Stay tuned for the review. Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Nan Khatai ~ The Indian Cookies ~ For Sweet Punch

For Sweet Punch this month, the bloggers were given the choice of baking anything of their choice. After some thought I decided to bake these Indian cookies, Nan Khatai
It is December already and in less than a month we will step into the new year.The air is festive and you can feel Christmas all around. What better time to share this easy cookie recipe. Bake these goodies to gift it to your friends and family.


Laced with cardamom and saffron, these little cookies are rich and have a melt in the mouth texture. The whole house will be filled with fragrant aroma as they are baked in your oven. Without much ado, lets hop on to the recipe:



Recipe Source: Joy of Cooking

Makes 35-40 pieces

Ingredients:

250 gm AP Flour( About 11/4 cup)
200gm ghee, clarified butter or use unsalted butter
110gm caster sugar
4-5 cardamom pod seeds finely powdered
A pinch of saffron, 6-7 strands.
2 tbsp gram flour
1/4 cup semolina
1/4 tsp baking powder.
Handful of nuts of your choice, chopped or pounded roughly(I found a few cashews and pistachios in my pestle and mortar)


Process:

1. In a large bowl add sugar and ghee and whisk till sugar is dissolved in the ghee and the mixture is light and fluffy.
2. In a separate bowl, add AP flour, gram flour, semolina, cardamom powder and baking powder and sieve it. Add saffron and nuts to the flour mixture. You could also punch these nuts on to the cookies but I like them inside.
3. Now add the flour mixture to the sugar and ghee mixture and stir. Use your hands to make a soft pliable dough.
4. Make 35-40 even golf sized balls and place them on two large prepared baking trays, keeping some space between them. Flatten them slightly with your fingers. You can also bake them in batches.
5. Bake them at 175 C for 12-15 minutes. Keep an eye on them as they may turn burn if over baked.
6. Once out of oven let them cool in the tray for 5-10 minutes or they will crumble.

When completely cooled store them in an airtight container. Enjoy them with a cup of tea or coffee.
Linking it to Suma's Cookie Fest, Kavi' Jingle all the way and Radhika's Let's Cook#10 Baked Goodies

Enjoy! Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

#21 Teaser Tuesdays~ The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

Before sharing today's teaser, I would like to tell you about a meme I have started, Lucky Library Picks which happens every alternate Friday. Do check out the details here and see if you are interested in participating. It is very simple. Do check out Lucky Library Picks #1 and #2. Thanks.

 "She opened her eyes to narrow slits. She saw the face of a complete stranger and memorized every detail."
Page: 75

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page


BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists!


Friday, December 2, 2011

Lucky Library Picks #2

This week, for the Lucky Library Picks, I have these two books to share:

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
This is the third and the last book of the famous crime thriller trilogy by the Swedish author, Stieg Larsson. You can find the review of the first book and the second book here and here.

The second book is Home by Manju Kapoor.
I have been meaning to read something by this author for a long time now and when I spotted this book in the library, I was very happy. Home by Manju Kapoor is a tale of three generations, and the acts of compromise and secrecy that lie at the heart of every family.

Check out what this meme is about here. Next Lucky Library Picks post will be on 16th Dec 2011
 

Thank you for stopping by. Cheers!

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