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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tomato Soup with Herbed Croutons and Garlic Butter



As days are passing by, it is getting colder here. The most comforting thing you can have in such weather is a hot bowl of soup. This soup is by far my favourite soup and gets a place in my menu very often. Here is how I make it.


Ingredients:

6 medium sized tomatoes
1 small onion
1 large carrot
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Sugar to taste, optional

1 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic grated
A generous pinch of Italian mixed herbs or basil

2 slices to breads
A splash of olive oil, about 1 tbsp
1/2 tsp mixed herbs


Process:

1. Chop the tomatoes in large chunks. Peel the carrot and chop it in chunks. Slice the onions and mince the garlic. Add all these in a pressure cooker and add about 200 ml of water and cook it till 1 whistle on medium high.
2. While it is cooking mix butter, grated garlic and mixed herbs/basil and prepare a flavored butter.
3. Remove all the edges from the bread and cut into small equal pieces. Toss them with olive oil and mix herbs and spread them on a lined bling tray. Put them in a a oven preheated at 180 C and bake for 3-4 minutes. Toss them again and bake for another 3-4 minutes. Keep an eye, as they get burnt very easily. When baked, they will be crisp and light golden in color.
4. One the ingredients in the cooker are cooked. Cool them a bit and then churn into a fine purée.
5. Sieve the purée to make it smooth. Heat a pan and add the liquid mixture into it. Add salt, sugar and pepper to taste. If you want the soup to be thinner, add water accordingly.
6. Serve it hot topped with a little flavored butter and herbed croutons.

Tip: If your soup gets thinner than you like then it can be rectified in the following way. Mix about 1/2 tsp of corn flour( or more to make it more thick) in 3-4 tbsp of water to make a smooth paste. Add it to the boiling soup. Keep stirring and the soup will get thick.

Enjoy this soup on a cold evening!

Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Siege of Mithila by Ashok K. Banker




 Siege of Mithila by Ashok K. Banker 

One genre of books that I have started enjoying a lot recently is, without a doubt 'Indian mythology' or 'mythological fiction'. The two great epics of the Indian history are Mahabharata and Ramayana. I have already read two Mahabharata centered book – Jaya by Devdutt Pattanaik and Palace of Illusionsby Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, so my next choice of mythological book was Ramayana centered. One of my blogger friends suggested me to read the Ramayana series by Ashok K. Banker. That I did as I got the first book of the series from the local library here. I enjoyed the book thoroughly only to discover later that the library does not have any other books of this series and hence I had to wait for my India visit to get my hands on the rest of the series.

Synopsis:

The bestial demon hordes roar towards Ayodhya having swept all before them. Rama cannot return home to defend his family. He must journey to Mithila—a city lying directly in the path of destruction—to join a small band of heroes planning a valiant stand against the armies of darkness. Can Rama unearth a hidden dev-astra to help in his battle against his nemesis, the demon lord Ravana?

Of course, we all know that Rama will be able to defend the city of Mithila. That is the beauty of Banker’s writing, despite knowing (almost) what happens in Ramayana, the reader’s interest in the story doesn’t waver even for a moment.  The author’s has used his own imagination in sketching the characters and in describing the events that place during the course of the novel. The story builds on where it was left in ‘The Prince of Ayodhya’, so if you want to read this book, I would suggest you to read it as per the series.
For me that star character of this book was Sita, of course, apart from Rama and Lakshmana. She is introduced not as a delicate princess but, as a warrior princess who is well versed in the art of archery and swords play. The demon lord Ravana is depicted as pure devil whose only aim it to conquer Ayodhya. There is Manthara who to please Ravana plots one evil plan after another to poison the sisterly relationship between Queen Kausalya and Queen Sumitra. She even schemes to get rid of Rama. There is also the story of Ahalya and how Rama releases her from her husband’s curse. The story seems to pace slowly as by the end of the novel we only reach till the swayamvar of Sita. But, the novel is filled with numerous sub plots and stories that keep the novel interesting and enlightening. All the sub plots culminate toward the bigger picture and a momentous climax. 

Ashok K. Banker takes you on an amazing fascinating journey, from Ayodhya to Mithila. It is an enriching experience. You will feel drawn towards the world of Ramayana as you turn pages of this book, that is the magic of Banker’s writing. I am very looking forward to reading rest of the series.

Highly recommended.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Untruly Yours by Smita Shetty



Untruly Yours by Smita Shetty

"To some Natasha Iyer has it all - living the life of an affluent NRI, wife of a prominent psychologist and mother to a cheeky 11 years old. However, behind closed doors, cracks are beginning to appear in her seemingly comfortable relationship with her professionally consumed husband , Rakesh.

Although Rakesh seems content with his alpha neatness- fetish , melodramatic wife and bright son; Natasha yearns for romance, passion and excitement. Ironically, the psychologist husband fails to read between the lines and Natasha is left to her own devices to deal with her unresolved emotions.

An unexpected call from India takes her through a journey of self discovery with her devastatingly handsome work colleague, Steve. She uncovers in some aspects urban India has changed considerably but equally, deep rooted social issues still prevail in the so called modern, educated, changing society. A chance encounter with her blast from the past - Veer, adds to the emotional roller coaster ride. Her one-man - women status of many years has failed to equip her with vital tools to deal with the unanticipated surge of attention from Steve and Veer.

As she attempts to master the finer points of courtship, flirtation and seduction; her life spirals out of control. Natasha is compelled to make tough decisions about her love,friendship, marriage and parenthood."


Untruly Yours is the debut novel of the author - Smita Shetty. The story line is obvious from the blurb. In the 150 pages of this fast paced chic-lit novel, the author tells the story of Natasha who seems to feel that the spark in her relationship with her husband has vanished. She is restless and yearns for some excitement in her life. If you look a delve a little more deeply into the character of Natasha, you will discover that there is a bit of Natasha in most women. Sometimes, the zeal of life is lost in the daily mundane chores, one feels people takes you for granted and it brings a feeling of love-less-ness and loneliness. Many a times it is far from the truth and it is just a passing phase. The author has told the story of a woman passing through this phase of life and how she copes with it.

The strength of the novel are it's character - entirely believable and relatable. In particular the author's description of Natasha' s MIL as Godzilla of Godzilla as hilarious. The story is packed with a lot of drama and has a lot of laugh-out-loud moments. I thoroughly enjoyed turning pages after pages, only that there weren't too many of them. I think the author could have done with another 50 pages towards the end. I felt the ending was quickly wrapped up. A special mention for the cover of the book, I loved it. It is chic and stylish and catches your attention. At least, it was so in my case.

If you are looking for a quick, light read go for this book for sure. I am sure most of my female friends will be able to relate to at least something in the novel.

I received a free copy of the book from the author in exchange of an unbiased review.

Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!
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