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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chickpea Salad with Yogurt Mint Dressing ~ Healthy Food



There are days when I am in no mood for an elaborate meal. That happens mostly when I have to prepare something solely for myself. Cooking for self has never motivated me to go for elaborate cooking. In such cases I try to go healthy and make some healthy filling salad or a one pot meal like khichdi or sometimes a large glass of smoothie. This chickpea salad is one I make quite regularly because it is healthy as well as filling. And if I am in a mood to indulge a little, I can go for a decadent brownie for dessert (an ardent brownie fan I am!).

I used to make a simple Chickpea Salad often but I got the idea of pairing it with a minty yogurt dressing from Rachel Allen recipe I spotted in this book.

This is how I make it:

Salad:

1 cup boiled Chickpeas
1 tomato chopped finely
2-3 tbsp chopped red onion
2-3 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
2 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Dressing:

1/2 cup low fat yogurt
1 tsp crushed dried mint
1 tsp sugar/honey
1 tbsp lemon juice
Salt to taste

Process:

1. Mix the salad ingredients together and toss them well. Keep it in fridge until needed.
2. Whisk all the dressing ingredients and keep it in fridge until needed.
3. Before serving pour the dressing over the salad and serve. Enjoy!


Linking it to Show Me Your HITS~Lentils N Legumes and Lets make Salads.

Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Saturday Snapshot ~ Munnar in God's Own Country!

This week for Saturday Snapshot I am sharing some pictures from Munnar, India. We went for a holiday there a couple of years back and I still have sweet memories of a relaxing holiday there.


Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books. It’s easy to participate – just post a picture that was taken by you, a friend, or a family member and add your link on Alyce’s site.

Set at an altitude of 6000 ft in Idukki district,Kerala, Munnar was the favored summer resort of the erstwhile British rulers in the colonial days. Munnar is essentially a tea town with unending expanse of tea plantations. As far as you can see, you see a green carpet of tea plantation. It is breathtakingly beautiful, an the idyllic tourist destination in God's own country. It is a haven of peace and tranquility and is the place to be, if you are looking for a relaxing holiday! 

I will leave you here with some beautiful pictures.







Thursday, July 26, 2012

Blueberry Lassi | Blueberry Smoothie ~ To Beat The Heat


I find Irish weather very unpredictable. During this summer some days have been rain washed, some over cast and gloomy and a couple of times we are blessed with bright sunny weather. Such unpredictable weather poses more than one problem. For one thing one can't decide how to dress up. Each day is different, so simply cannot do away with the woolen clothes or shove the quilts and pull overs in the overhead drawers. You buy a big tub of ice cream and from then onwards, the weather gets cold and you feel like having Onion Bhajjis with a cup of masala chai.

Today is one of those few bright and sunny days and I was craving for a cold flavorful drink. On going through my fridge I found a bottle of 'Home Made Blueberry Syrup' which I usually use for making Blueberry Lemonade. But lemonade was not what I wanted to have and I whipped up this Lassi or Smoothie as it is called in this part of the world.

 Ingredients:

1/2 cup low fat yogurt
1/4 cup water
3-4 tbsp Homemade Blueberry Syrup (follow link for recipe)
Ice cubes
6-7 fresh blueberries, optional

Process:
1. In a mixer jar add yogurt, water, ice cubes and blueberry syrup and give it a quick whiz.
2. Pour into a tall glass and top with fresh blueberries. Serve immediately.
Linking it to my event - Cool Summer Sips.
Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahari

It has been a while since I read this book, but somehow I was not able to bring myself to write about it.  Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri is a collection of 9 short stories each distictly different from each other yet they collective serve as a mirror that shows various shades of our society. These stories are about Indian people in India or about Indians who have immigrated to United States. Some stories deal with personal lives of people, a few touches some social and poltical issues while others dwells on how Indian immigrants adjusts to the life in a foreign land.

Very often short stories fail to hold my attention for long, or they don't intrigue as much as I would like them to, but that is not the case with this book. Each and every story kept me absorbed, some made me sad, some made me wonder but each touched me in profound way. The book started with the story - A Temporary Matter, a poignant tale of a failing and disintegrating realtionship. Taking advantage of a temporary electrical outage, the couple shared their most intimate secrets in the shelter of darkness. As their story unfolded you couldn't help but empathize with the characters and shed a tear or two at their predicament.

The next story, 'When Mr Pirzada came to dine' brought to the horrors and aftermaths of war through the perspective of a young girl. The title story of the novel, Interpretar of Maladies dwells upon the power of interpretation. Lahiri has the ability to spin a yarn out of the seemingly most ordinary things. One can't help but marvel at her deep observation. Real Durwan, Sexy, Mrs Sen, Treatment of Bibi Haldar, The Blessed House each have a different story to tell. Each of them is thoughtful and intense in their own way. It was make you sit back and ponder of it. They are mostly sad, yet they have a charisma of their own.

The book ends with a relatively positive story, The Third and The Final Continent, where the protagonist takes the changes in good strides and slowly adapts with the life in America. These short stories are not so much about the plot, but about the characters, their lifes, aspirations and dreams.

I will end this post with a quote that I find very profound, it reflects the author's ability to make ordinary things seem extra ordinary

"Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Small Island in a Big Ocean

 Ireland - A Small Island in a Big Ocean (Video)

There are times when I tell people that I live in Dublin, I am met with the question - where is that? I tell them it is the capital of Ireland. I get the answer, OK...and where is that?

 Image Courtesy- Wiki 

Yes, it's true and it has happened to me quite a few times. People from this part of the world might feel it a weird question or blame it to lack of general knowledge, but let me tell you many in India hadn't heard of this country until recently. You might ask why until recently? It's all because of Cricket.

Sometimes back, my husband showed me an article on Times of India which said that when Kevin O'Brien made the world record to scoring the fastest century, people in India went about locating Ireland on the world map. Team Ireland astounded the world by beating the veteran England team in a game during the Cricket world cup 2011.

 When I recounted my experience to him, even he asked me, what I knew of this country before coming here.. Well, my general knowledge is not very good and geography has never been my favorite subject, but I did know of a few famous Irish names.

  Jonathan Swift

 I am sure most of us have read Gulliver's Travel and have been fascinated by the little Lilliputs and the giant Gulliver's story. It was a part of our school curriculum and all thanks to that, I knew Jonathan Swift was an Irish man and was born in Dublin.

  George Bernard Shaw  
 The Bernard Shaw cafe/pub near my house.

Another famous Irish man I knew because of my school curriculum. I remember having read an essay as a part of my studies (I can't remember the name). Today, the place where this great man was born is just walking distance from my home.

James Joyce
I am sure most of us have heard about Ulysses. Again thanks to my English lessons, I remember having read a story named Ulysses and the Cyclops. I was very fascinated by the tale of Ulysses and the giant one eyed Cyclops. I knew then that Ulysses is the novel by the Irish author, James Joyce.

May be I could not have located Ireland in the world map then, but I did know something about this country. I had read about the great famine and I knew Dracula had its origin here. Long back when I had seen the video below, I was amazed and proud to know of the significant contribution this little country had made to the world. Do check out the video below.

Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Shyam Savera ~ Spinach and Cheese Balls in a Tomato Gravy

If you are bored of the usual paneer curries, then this curry - Shyam Savera can be a welcome change. The name literally translates to night and day as it offers. as is evident from the picture two contrast colours. Simply put, it is 'Spinach dumplings with a creamy cheese centre in a rich tomato gravy'. It is one of the favorite special curries in my household. Since, it require some time consuming preparations, it is reserved for special occasions.

I have learned preparing this dish from my MIL. However, I have tweaked the gravy recipe a bit to make a bit more spicier and creamier. If you want to try this dish please make sure you read it first fully. It will make it easier to follow the steps. Here is how I make it:

Ingredients:

200gm Spinach
1 litre whole milk
3 tbsp lemon juice
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp white pepper powder
2-3 tbsp corn flour
Oil for deep frying

3 large tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp grated ginger
1 green chili, slit
2 cloves
1 bay leaf
2 green cardamom pounded
1 small piece of cinnamon
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp tomato paste, optional
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 -1/2 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
2-3 tbsp oil
2-3 tbsp cream
2-3 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

Process:

1. Heat the milk in a deep pan and bring it to boil. When it comes to boil, add the lemon juice and stir. Remove it from it and let it sit for 2 minutes. The cheese will separate from the whey. Pour the mixture through a muslin clothe lined sieve. Squeeze out all the water out of the paneer (cheese) and let it cool to room temperature.

2. Once it it cooled down completed add the salt and pepper powder and mix thoroughly to get smooth texture to the paneer. Make 12-15 same size smooth paneer balls by rolling them in your palm. Set aside.
3. Blanch the spinach leaves by pouring very hot water over it. Drain and squeeze out any excess water. This step is very important. Then chop the blanched leaves finely. Add them in a large bowl and add salt and corn flour. Divide the spinach evenly to cover each paneer ball with it.

4. Heat oil and deep fry them. Set aside.

5. To make the gravy heat oil in a pan. Add cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cardamom and cumin seeds and let it cook for a few seconds. Add garlic, green chili and onions. Saute them on medium heat until onions are slightly brown, stirring every couple of minutes.
6. 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  garam masala and continue cooking on medium heat onions and tomatoes mixture start leaving the sides of the pan leaving oil on the sides.
7. 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.
8. Now add  the garam masala and stir. Cook for a few minutes and then add cream and stir. Add handful of coriander. 
9. Just before serving slit the Spinach Paneer Balls in half and place them over hot tomato gravy. Serve hot with naan, chapati or paratha. Enjoy!

Ninepins by Rosy Thornton


Deep in the Cambridgeshire fens is an old house by the name of Ninepins where lives Laura  with her 12 years old asthmatic daughter, Beth. Laura rents out the pump house, once a fen drainage station to students every year to earn a little extra income. But this year she lets it to a girl named Willow on the recommendation of her social worker, Vince. Willow has a dubious past. Her childhood has been particularly disturbed as her mother, a hippy, had since been suffering from some bi polar disorder. On top of it, Beth who is entering her teens, is falling in the company of wrong girls and has been facing problems at school. She asserts that she is old enough to make her own decisions and seeks no interference in her matters from her mother. The once peaceful life of Laura is crumbling down and she does all she call to keep it intact.

How will Willow and her past influence Laura and Beth's life? How will Laura handle her daughter's demand for independence? There is also some sprinkling of romance in the story but that is always in the sidelines. The story revolves mostly around the 3 female characters as they try to straighten out their lives from a tangle of problems caused by emotions, surroundings and company.

This is the second book I have read of the author and I have realized that characters and landscape play a very important role in her novels. In her previous novel, The Tapestry of Love she brought the French country side vivid in your mind and in this novel you could get a picture of the atmosphere in the Cambridgeshire fens. The beauty of her novels also lies in the well sketched and entirely believable characters. As you read the story you can connect with each characters and empathize with them. I loved Laura's character and could understand her desire to protect her child as she is going a difficult period of age. I could empathize with Willow for all the problems she had faced as a child. All the emotions are heightened by the intricate details of the landscape the story is set in. Above all the author is very meticulous about the treatment of all the relationship portrayed in the story. The tone of the book is gentle yet assertive. But the best part is that the narration is entirely non judgmental. It doesn't judge things and situations as right or wrong, but shows how life takes unexpected turns much to our discomfort. There is even an element of suspense and mystery that makes it an even more compelling and enjoyable read. In a nutshell, Rosy Thornton latest novel, Ninepins explores the dynamics of relationship between a mother and a teenage daughter, complicated by the arrival of a stranger with a troubled past.

Overall, a very good read. A story about love and relationships. It asserts the belief that love alone goes a long way in mending relationship, keeping them intact and bringing harmony in life.

Highly recommended.

I received a review copy from the author.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir


Synopsis:

A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir tells the story of two heroines, separated by time, but intriguingly linked by history's most famous murder mystery.

Lady Katherine Grey has already suffered more than her fair share of tragedy. Eight years ago, her older sister, Lady Jane Grey was beheaded for unlawfully accepting a crown that was not hers. Now, in risking all for love, Katherine incurs the worth of her formidable cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, ho sees her as a rival for her insecure throne.


Interlaced with Katherine's story is that of her distant kinswoman, Kate Plantagenet, the bastard daughter of Richard III. Kate loves her father but all is not well in the court, and before long she hears rumors that threaten all she holds dear. Like Katherine Grey, she falls in love with a man forbidden to her. Then she embarks on what will prove to be a dangerous quest, covertly seeking the truth about he fate of her cousins, the Princes in the Tower.


But time is not on Kate's side - or on Katherine's either...


Alison Weir's new novel skillfully mixes fact and fiction, telling a page turning story within the frame work of historical authenticity..


This is the first historical fiction book set in Britain that I have read and I found it really fascinating. Two stories run simultaneously in the novel, with each heroine trying to find the truth about the fate of the Princes in Tower. Kate is interested in their fate to clear her doubts about her father whereas Katherine chances upon some letters by Kate where she writes about her doubts and fears, and becomes intrigued and hence interested in the knowing the fate of the Princes.

Only draw back of the way the novel is written to me was the fact that both heroines were similarly named. It needed my constant effort to keep them separate in my mind. Once it was clear in my head, there was no looking back. The story kept me hooked till the end. I am definitely going to pick up more books by the author.

If you are interested in historical fiction, this is surely a book you should pick.

I received a review copy from the publishers, Random House.

To know more about the author and her works please visit http://alisonweir.org.uk/

Monday, July 16, 2012

Kaankari


There are some dishes that we have grown up eating, that sometimes it doesn't seem special to be have them to eat. One such dish is the one I am sharing today. It is a Rajasthani sweet dish and it is made regularly at home by my Mom and MIL. I had never given much thought to it until recently, when I had to make it myself. It is simple and yet delicious. The gum grains puff up in ghee (clarified butter) and the resultant dish has melt in mouth texture. Don't use ghee sparingly here other wise it will be dry and will not taste nice.

I tried to Google for this recipe, but didn't get a single hit! May be it is called by different names by different people. Do let me know if you know of anything similar to this one.

Serves 2:

Ingredients:
1/2 cup wheat flour/atta
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp ghee
2 tbsp edible gum grains
3tbsp powdered sugar
5-6 peppercorns, optional
5-6 almonds roughly chopped

Process:

1. Heat a pan and add ghee. Keep the flame on medium high and add the peppercorns and the wheat flour. Stir continuously till the colour is a shade or two darker and it emanates a nice flavor of being roasted. At this point if you feel that mixture is looking dry then add another spoonful of ghee.
2. Turn the heat on high and add the edible gum grains and stir slightly. The grains will puff up. It will take at the most 2 minutes. When all the grains have puffed up remove it from heat and let it cool.
3. Once cooled add the sugar and almonds and stir gently.
4. Serve it warm or cold. You can garnish it with thin almond slices.

Linking it to Walk Through Memory Lane . This event is the brain child of Gayathri

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Skid Marks of Logic by Divya Diana Dias


Skid Marks of Logic by Divya Diana Dias is a collection of 3 stories each of them dealing with young women who are trying to deal with their sexual awakening and sensual desires. The author has tried to dwell on the moral, mental and societal issues modern Indian women faces when it comes to embracing their physical needs, given the fact that Indian society is not very open or liberal about it. The author takes us through the life of 3 women from different strata of society, passing though that phase of life.

I am just quoting the blurb to give you an insight about what the book is all about.

Synopsis quoted from the back cover of the book:


Some people stop themselves from doing what they want because of what their friends would think about them. Some people are too afraid to accept what is right in front of them. Some people regret their silly reasons, wondering why they did not succumb to their desires at the time.

Janvi, Danielle and Payal are some people. But now they want to change.

They want to shatter the chains that society has bound them with and win the war that rages within them, once and for all.

Will they succeed? ‘Skid Marks of Logic’ reveals... 

…how Payal cons Xerxus into kissing her

Stuck in Ahmedabad, in a sad life surrounded by sadder people, the only saving grace in Payal’s life is her two best friends. Known as the ‘Timid Mouse’ for her strangely quiet ways and shy demeanor, she longs for a guy to steal her away from her life of drudgery and enforced hypocrisy. Then she meets Xerxus at her cousin’s sangeet practice and her heart stops. And she knows she can’t rest till she’s found a way to be with him...

…Danielle’s answer to Satya’s preposterous question

 
Dani is 21. She’s never been kissed. She’s never dated. No guy has even asked her out. Seeking ways to satisfy her curious void, she writes a scene that’s hot enough to burn the page. It’s naughty and fantastic and she is ever so proud of it. However, she hasn’t counted on her best friend Satya reading it nor the scandalous question he proposes… 

 
…the results of Janvi’s face off with Rhys

Janvi is at her wits’ end trying to manage the company her dad left her. Then an employee goes behind her back and commits a crime that could put the company at risk. If that weren’t enough, Mr. High and Mighty Rhys Callahan comes demanding vindication for said crime… Janvi wants to say ‘to hell with men’, but how does one say ‘to hell with the Devil?’


The book deals with a topic that is not discussed very openly in our Indian society. So, I was expecting the author to treat the subject adroitly. However, to me that is the not the case. The narration is very vocal about the subject. The book started well, I loved reading about Payal, it was interesting and to some extent hilarious. But, then I found the second and third story monotonous and somewhat repetitive. The stories were too long for short stories. It would have been better if they had been edited to a little shorter version. I found the narration childish at some points and the stories a little over spiced up. Over all it was an OK read.


I received a review e-copy from the author.



Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Papdi Chat


Papdi Chat is one of the famous Indian fast food and it is one of my favorite too. When the weather is dull and gloomy, a plate of this crunchy, spicy delicacy can do all to make your day and perk your mood. Most pf the time I have papdis made well in advance, as they cant be stored and keeps well for a month or so and as in most Indian households, I always have a jar of tamarind chutney and green chutney in my fridge. With these things readily available, making 'Papdi Chat' is just a matter of chopping some veggies and assembling them. It can be made in under 10 minutes.


 Ingredients:

2 medium potatoes, boiled.
1 large onion.
1 large tomatoes.
1/2 cup yoghurt beaten with 1/4 cup water, salt and sugar to taste.
2 tbsp chat masala
¼ cup nylon sev.
¼ cup tamarind chutney. (follow the link for the recipe)
¼ cup green chutney. (follow the link for the recipe)
Juice of 1 lemon.

Assembling the papdi chat:

1.Peel the potatoes and dice them into small pieces. Keep them in a bowl and drizzle lemon juice over it.

2. Dice tomatoes and onions into small pieces.  


3. Arrange the papdi on a large plate. Place a teaspoon of potato over each papdi. Then add a teaspoon of diced tomatoes and onion.

8. Drizzle 2 teaspoon of yoghurt on each papdi. Sprinkle a pinch of chat masala and add teaspoon tamarind chutney and half a teaspoon of coriander chutney. Sprinkle sev over it and chopped coriander over it.



Devour one papdi at a time.. Ah Bliss!
If you think that is too much of work, then crush the papdis and place them on a plate and heap all the ingredients over it one by one! It won't look that beautiful, but I tell you it is as delicious as the other one! My DH likes it this way while I prefer to have it the other way.


Linking it to Priya's Olympics Games Event. This event is the brain child of Jagruti

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