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Friday, April 28, 2017

Book Review | Fables from India – A Collection of Short Stories by Uday Mane


The blurb says:

A King's negligence costs the Prince his eyes. How will the King make amends?
 A farmer is torn between resurrecting his wife and upholding his duties. What will infuence his choice? 
A jester lives two lives - Masked for others. Unmasked for himself. His masked side brings happiness to everyone. But what brings happiness to his unmasked side? 
A magnificent tree bears fruits of different kinds, but the King wants it to be cut down to serve justice. How will the tree defend itself? 
An orphan boy is in search of the world's bestselling book. Will he eventually find it? 
A dog struggles to uncurl his tail. Will he break the curse that curled his tail in the first place? 
A young boy and his pet lamb are separated from each other. Will their friendship stand the test of 
time? 

Set in the ancient times, Fables from India, is a collection of 22 profound and unheard stories from a country known for its storytelling.

I received this book from Leadstart Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Reading Fables from India by Uday Mane felt like I was reading some folk tales – simple, short, easy to understand and with a moral message. To give you an idea – the stories in this book are like those in Panchatantra.

Do you know what exactly are fables?

Wikipedia says --

Fable is a literary genre: a succinct fictional story, in prose or verse, that features animals, legendary creatures, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature that are anthropomorphized (given human qualities, such as the ability to speak human language) and that illustrates or leads to a particular moral lesson (a "moral"), which may at the end be added explicitly as a pithy maxim.


This is the kind of book I would like to keep aside for my son to read when he grows up and takes to reading. Having said that, I must add that if you are into reading serious and complex short stories this book might not appeal to you. The stories are way too simple and straightforward for adding some depth to the characters or for adding some unexpected twists and turns to mundane plots. But, if you are like me - who read slow and ponder over what you have read, you may well revisit your moral science lessons and see how well you are applying them in your life now.

The book can do well if it is targeted to young readers between the ages of 8-12 years. Adults may read out these stories to their kids for some moral lessons.

There are 22 fables in the book are about kings, queens, common people, animals, life, death, and magic. Some of the ones I liked reading includes – "The Farmer and the Magic Objects" in which a husband seeks to resurrect his dead wife, "The Sacred Tree of Khamur" in which a tree speaks to appeal to a king to change his verdict, "A Night for the Demon" where a queen leaves her husband every fifteen days to spend a night in the jungle, "At Heaven’s Gate" where a child asks God why he took away his father from him. There were some more stories with profound messages and were a pleasure to read, but there were a couple of them which I couldn’t appreciate much - like The Jungle laws and Langu’s Calling.

One thing that didn’t work for me after reading this book was the title of the book. When I saw the title – Fables from India, I was really hoping for some profound stories from the land known for its story telling. But, I was a bit disappointed there. More than half of the stories didn’t seem to have any connection with India, or even ancient India as a matter of fact. Some seemed to be from Persia or Middle East, while some felt to be universal. So, I think the book could have been better named.

Overall, a light read that you can read or read out to your kid as bedtime stories.



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Purple Delight | Black Grapes and Pomegranate Cooler | Summer Cool Drinks



Colours are an important spice of life.  Imagine your life without colours – boring right? I believe it is the same with our food – it should be colourful and pleasing to eyes. When I was thinking about all the cool drinks I was indulging in this summer, I realized they were all of different colours. My Kairi Panna is a soothing shade of green as I use a lot of mint in it; the Masala Chaas is as usual white, my Herbal Iced Tea was a bright shade between orange and brown. That’s when I thought of creating a different coloured drink to sip on.

I had lots of black grapes and pomegranate in my refrigerator and with these two star ingredients; I set on to make a drink. When I was done, I was pleased with the result at hand, so much so that I took it to a friend’s place for her to taste. She has become my unannounced official taster for most experiments in my kitchen. When she okay-ed it, I made it again the next day and while sipping on it, this name – Purple Delight came to my mind.

The other day when I met her and amidst our usual banter, I told her I have named the drink – Purple Delight and she was into a riot of laughter.... which reminds me of another spice of life - laughter. Laugh as often as you can and be with friends who can make you laugh out loud.

The pomegranate juice typically has a slight bitter note in the end which compliments beautifully with grapes juice which is sweeter. A dash of lemon juice adds a subtle tang to the overall flavour and the spices adds some earthiness. If you want to try something different from your regular lemonade, try it for sure.



Purple Delight

Serves 4
Ingredients:

1 cup black grapes
1/2 cup pomegranate pearls
2 tbsp sugar syrup (optional)
1/4 tsp black salt
1/4 tsp black pepper powder
1/4 tsp roasted jeera powder
Soda water to top up
Lots of Ice cubes
2 tbsp Chopped grapes and pomegranate pearls for garnishing

Process:
1. In a blender jar add the grapes and pomegranate pearls and churn till pulpy. Sieve the mixture to extract the juice.
2. Add the juice to a large jar; add sugar syrup, black salt, black pepper and jeera powder. Stir well. Add this to 4 medium glasses.

3. Add some ice cubes to each glass. Top up with soda water. Garnish with chopped grapes and pomegranate pearls. Serve chilled.


Notes:
1. The black grapes I used were quite sweet. If you are using grapes that are tart, adjust sugar syrup quantity accordingly.

2. It is best to consume it fresh and chilled.

Thank you for stopping by. Cheers!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Book Review - Half Pants Full Pants by Anand Suspi


“This is a book about childhood, best enjoyed after you have left it behind.”

What the renowned filmmaker RR Balki has to say about the book:

"After Malgudi Days, I could never imagine that somebody could create another childhood classic for adults to regain their innocence even for a few hours. Suspi’s tales would have made R K Narayan smile. Oh! That beautiful Kannadiga gene!"



'Half Pants Full Pants' by Anand Suspi is an endearing read. It is the author’s debut novel where he recounts his real-life childhood tales from Shimoga, a then sleepy town in the state of Karnataka.

This book was sent to me by paperboatdrinks (Hector Beverages) and was with me for over 2 months before I picked it up to read. Well, as the adage goes – better late than never; I am so glad to have read it. Reading it was such an amazing experience. As I turned pages after pages of this book, I often got transported to my own childhood days and to my own stories. A wave of nostalgia often hit me and I wished if I could relive my childhood again. It is perhaps our lives' biggest irony - when we are kids, all we want to be is grow up and when we do, we wish we could travel back in time and enjoy the pleasures of childhood again.

There are altogether 38 stories in the book – some from the half pant days and other from the full pant days of the author. And each one succeeds in evoking a sense of nostalgia in the readers. In some way of the other most of us – from the pre-internet and gadget-free childhood days, will be able to relate to these real-life childhood tales of the author in some ways or the other.

The first story in the book revolves around a popular idea that did the rounds in my school days too – when a coin in put on railway track and a train passes over it, it turns into magnet! Back then, I didn’t have any mean to check it. The author being the son of a railway employee had the opportunity to find out the truth of the idea first hand. But, instead of a magnet what he got was a 5 paisa badly shaped chapati!



The author has had a fair share of adventures in his childhood. Some of them are exclusive to him – how many of us can boast of driving a train? I guess none of us can boast of that. But, there are so many other anecdotes - on fighting mosquitoes to imagining self to be some sort of detective (most of us must have been thorough that phase after reading famous five books), to climbing trees, saving pocket money, to delving deep into philanthropy, to detesting gourds (same-pinch), and so on. One thing that is sure this book will do to you - it will make your revisit your childhood.

Thank you Anand Suspi for crafting a book of your childhood tales; and thank you paperboats for publishing it so that it could reach the readers.

Highly recommended. You can buy it on Amazon or Flipkart. It makes for a great gift to friends and family.

Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Chikoo Ice-cream | Sapota Ice-cream | How to Make Chikoo Ice-cream From Scratch

Chikoo Ice-cream

I have always been a fruit lover. My mom never had a chance to complain that I didn't had my share of fruits. The same cannot be said for veggies though - it was a different story altogether. Till date, I am very much a fruit person - in fact, there are very few fruits that I don't like much.

Few years back, when I had the fresh fruit flavoured ice-creams at Naturals, I was sold to the idea. Since then I am in love with all sorts of fresh fruit ice cream. So, here I am today with a fresh fruit ice-cream - made with chikoo fruit. Chikoo is quite a sweet fruit and is particularly great in ice creams. I had some ripe chikoo fruits and I couldn't think of another better way to use them. I went ahead and made this ice-cream and I am so happy with the results.

Here is would like to tell you that when I was a kid, I didn't get to eat chikoo much. You see, this fruit wasn't local to my hometown and in those days eating local and seasonal was the norm. I remember having it first time when we had gone to visit our grand parents.  I remember enjoying it - it was sweet, tender and succulent. Today, I relish a scoop of chikoo ice-cream as much. Now,  I have one more weapon in my arsenal to beat the Pune heat this summer. The recipe is a breezy one, with no fancy ingredients. You can double or triple the recipe if you want to make it in bulk. 

Here is how you can make it.

Ingredients:

3-4 medium sized ripe chikoo/sapota/sapodilla
400 ml full fat milk
250 ml fresh cream (25% fat) - I used Amul fresh cream
200 g or 1/2 tin condensed milk - I used Amul Mithai Mate



Process :
1. Boil the milk in a thick bottom pan on low to medium heat till it is reduces to half in volume. It will take about 20 minutes or so. Keep stirring it while it heats to avoid burning. When done, let it cool down to room temperature.

2. Peel the fruit and cut them into chunks. Remove the seeds.

3. In a large blender jar, add the chikoo chunks and blend till finely puréed. Add the reduced milk and blend it for a few seconds.

4. Add cream to the mixture and blend it for another 1 minute. Now add the condensed milk and blend again for a minute so that the mixture is uniform.

5. Tip the mixture thus prepared to a freezer safe container. Put on the lid and freeze for 2 hours.

6. When it looks half frozen, take it out again and blend it in the mixer one more time and then put it back to freeze.

7. It will take about 5-6 hours to set. Take it out 5 minutes before serving. Scoop into serving bowls and enjoy!

Notes:
  • These can be frozen in kulfi/ popsicle molds for chikoo kulfi.
  • Use chikoo that are perfect ripe and not overly ripe and mushy for best flavor.
  • Instead of chikoo you can use equal amount of custard apple/ sitaphal pulp to get sitaphal ice-cream.
Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Yellow Moong Dal Dhokla | How to Make Moong Dal Dhokla From Scratch |Gujarati Steamed Snack


Summer is the season to stay away from oily and greasy food. No 'pakoras' and 'wadas' for me - at least till the rain sets in. So, when I think of snacks these days - I think of all the healthy things I can indulge in and things like Khaman Dhokla, Khandvi or a bowl of hearty Chickpea Salad comes to my mind. 

So, one fine day when I was feeling inspired I decided to try making yellow moong dal dhokla instead of this regular khaman dhokla. I pretty much made it the same way and the results were good. These Dhoklas are packed with nutrition and tastes best when eaten fresh with dollops of green chutney and tamarind chutney. If you are making in bulk, you can reheat it in microwave with some sprinkling of water and they are as good as fresh.




Yellow Moong Dal Dhokla

Ingredients:

1 cup yellow moong dal, soaked overnight 
1 tbsp ginger- chili paste
1/4 tsp hing
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp ENO fruit salt
Oil for greasing the dhokla plates

For tempering

A sprig of curry leaves
2-3 chilies
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 to 1 tsp red chili powder
2 tbsp oil
Handful of chopped coriander leaves




Process:

1. Drain the water from the soaked moong dal. Tip the soaked dal into a grinder jar and using about 1/4 cup water grind it to a smooth paste.

2. In a large mixing bowl, add the moong dal paste. Add rest of the ingredients except ENO. Mix it to form a batter. If it seems too thick add water little by little till you get a pouring consistency batter. 

3. Add water to dhokla steamer and put it on high heat. Grease the plates on which you will pour the batter.

4. When steam starts forming in the steamer, lower the heat to medium. Add ENO to the prepared batter and stir gently. Pour the batter into the greased plates and place them inside the steamer. Cover and steam for 15-20 mins.

5. When done, take off the lid and check for done-ness. Take the plates out. Set aside to cool while you prepare the tempering.

6. Heat the oil for tempering. When hot, add the mustard seeds, sesame seeds, green chilies and curry leaves. When it splutters add the red chili powder. Take it off gas and spread the tempering over the Dhokla.

7. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve with green chutney, tamarind and dates chutney or good old tomato ketchup.


Notes:

1. This recipe requires no fermentation. ENO is used for leavening, so put the batter to steam as soon as you add it.

2. Moong Dal need to be soaked over-night for best results. So, a bit of planning is needed if you want to make these.

3. I have used a dhokla steamer to make these. If you do not have it, then use a large kadhai or saucepan with lid to steam. You can use a can tin that fits into the saucepan to steam the batter in.

4. I used 2 around 6" inch plates for this quantity of batter. If you are adding all of it in one smaller plate/tin, you will have to steam it 10-15 mins more.


Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Herbal Ice Tea | How to Make Herbal Ice Tea from Scratch | Summer Cool Drinks





I have never been an ice tea person. I do order it some times at food joints, but it has never been one of my go-to cool drinks.

But, after trying this recipe I am a convert. I wouldn't mind saying that this herbal ice tea has become one of my latest favorite chilled drinks to beat the heat this summer. 

Long ago, I had tried a fruit punch recipe that used tea decoction and it turned to be a super flop. Since, then I was wary of trying any drink recipe with tea decoction in it. But, when I chanced upon a herbal ice tea recipe in one of the cookbooks I own ( did I tell you I am a hoarder of cookbooks?) I decided to give it a try.

The recipe involved making a herbal decoction first - a combination of lemongrass, ginger and mint. The recipe did interest me; but I had an even better reason to try it. Sometimes back I had planted lemongrass and mint in my terrace garden and I was delighted at the idea of using my garden produce.



The best thing about this recipe is that you can prepare the herbal decoction in bulk and freeze them in ice trays and use them when needed. You can play around with the ratio of the herbs, depending on which herb flavor you want to be prominent.

Here is how you can prepare the herbal decoction:

1/2 cup ginger, washed, peeled and grated.
1/2 cup lemongrass leaves, washed and chopped
1/4 cup mint leaves
1" cinnamon stick

Process:

1. Add all the listed ingredients in a saucepan and add 500 ml water. Bring it to a boil and then simmer it on medium heat for 15 to 20 mins.

2. Turn off the heat and cover the saucepan. Let it cool completely before straining. Strain and set aside the herb extract.

3. You can add another cup of water to the residue and simmer it for 15 mins. The decoction prepared the second time will be milder in flavor. You can combine both the extracts thus prepared or you can store them separately. If you do not need to use the entire decoction in one go, freeze them in ice cube tray. When frozen fill them in a zip-lock bag.




Herbal Ice Tea

Makes 2 tall glasses

Ingredients:

2 teabags 
100 ml boiling water
10-12 herbal ice cubes or about 60 ml of the herbal extract
3 tbsp simple syrup ( sugar syrup prepared by mixing and boiling equal quantity of sugar and water till the sugar is dissolved)
300 ml chilled water
Ice cubes, mint leaves and lemon slices to garnish (optional)

Process:

1. Add the tea bags in boiling water and let it steep for 10 mins. Take the tea bags out and set aside the tea decoction.
2. If you are using herbal ice cubes, add them to the warm tea decoction so that they melt faster. Else add the herbal concoction equally into two glasses. Pour prepared tea decoction. Add simple sugar syrup and top with chilled water. 
3. Add ice cubes, mint leaves and lemon slices as desired. Stir and serve chilled. 





Notes:

1. Add a squirt of lemon juice for Herbal Lemon Ice Tea.
2. You can add the herbal ice cubes to your regular lemonades for added flavor.

Thank you for stopping by. Cheers!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Masala Chaas | Masala Taak | How to Make Masala Chaas | Indian Summer Drinks


Masala Chaas

The last week of March has seen mercury rising steeply here in Pune. The heat is relentless; one look outside the window in the afternoon will make your eyes squint and make your head dizzy. Forget about stepping out in the sun – else the menacing rays of sun with scorch your body.

Such is the heat that I keep all the curtains drawn in all the rooms; the fans are doing overtime running at full speed all the time. When things look unmanageable, the air conditioner also steps in. Apart from keeping the house cool, it is also important to keep our bodies cool and hydrated. Drinking lots of water and fluids is very important and they are the only things that are keeping me sane in this hot weather.




This time of the year is the time to indulge in some cool drinks and I am doing just that. Past few days, I am guzzling down large glassfuls of ‘Chaas’ or ‘Taak’ as it is called in Maharashtra. This yogurt based drink is not just yummy; it is very good for health in these summer months. It helps to cool the body, aids in digestion and keeps you hydrated. The best thing about it is that it is so simple to make it – just get all the ingredients and blend it and it is ready to be gulped down.

Looking for more summer drink ideas – check out Sweet Lime Soda, Ginger Mint Lemonade, Makhanya Lassi, Blueberry Lemonade or Strawberry Lemonade

Masala Chaas:

Ingredients:
250 ml yogurt
300 ml water
½ tsp roasted cumin powder
½ tsp black salt or to taste
7-8 mint leaves + extra for garnishing
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
1 tsp taak masala or chaat masala + extra for garnishing
Ice cubes for serving (optional)

Process:
1. Add all the ingredients in a blender and blend it till the mixture is frothy. 
2. Add ice cubes into two tall glasses and pour the Chaas equally into them. Garnish with mint leaves and taak or chaat masala. Serve Chilled.




Notes:

1. This yogurt based drink is common all across India. However, some regions have their own simple variations. Some common variations are adding a green chili for some spice or ginger, asafoetida (hing), curry leaves and black pepper. All of these helps in digestion.

2. I have used store bought taak masala. But it can be easily substituted with chaat masala.

What cool drinks you are indulging in to beat the heat? Do share.

Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Book Review - We Will Meet Again by Tarang Sinha

We Will Meet Again by Tarang Sinha
The blurb says:

Paridhi Mathur, dusky, beautiful, and (determined to be) single, is doing everything to keep her academic records high and her love life nil, but lady luck keeps frowning at her. When she meets Abhigyan Ambastha, rich - devastatingly handsome, intense and sometimes curt, her resolve wavers. Despite regular warnings from her ever-suspicious heart, she inexplicably gets attracted towards him. But she would not let him trespass her soul. Why? Is she scared of mendacious face of love her past has inflicted on her? Can Paridhi really trust Abhigyan? Will a blissful breeze of love ever kiss her heart? A heart-warming saga of dreams and desires, We Will Meet Again promises to make you smile and cry at the same time. Hold on to your hearts before embarking on this roller coaster ride of emotions!

If I could describe the novel in few words it would be – light and breezy romantic read. I had downloaded the book on kindle when it was available for free one fine day and soon forgot about it. After a few days, I had to take a flight journey with my toddler and luckily my baby slept most of the time during the travel. That’s when I started reading this book (these days I get to read only when my baby sleeps) and when I was home I utilized every opportunity to finish the book.

The story is infectious; once you start reading it you feel the need to know what happens next. I must add here that the story line is not something out of the box – in fact it is quite predictable and the plot is linear too. But, there is something about the book that connects it with the readers instantly. It is the author’s writing style and the characters in the novel which struck a chord in my heart and made the reading very enjoyable for me. I strongly have a feeling that the author is inspired by people around her to build all of them.

One thing that could have been done away with in the book are the typos and editing errors – they can ruin an otherwise good book.

Paridhi is a simple and down-to-earth girl. Her character is very well sketched by the author. The way her relationship with her father, sister, her best friend, etc., is portrayed, various shades of her character bloom. Various incidents throughout the story also bring out the finer details - how protective she feels for her family, how it hurts her self-esteem when someone not from the family offers her monetary help, etc. However, I was hoping for a stronger reason in her past which makes her determined to stay away from Abhigyan.

The character of Abhigyan is like every girl’s dream hero. I did feel at times that he was too good to be true; such gentlemen are hard to find. Paridhi’s sister and her best friend Geet are very likable characters. The story is quite fast paced – lots of things happening and no dull moments. While it might not work for many – it did work for me as I was looking for a quick, breezy read. If you are looking for a beautiful romantic story for a journey or a light ready in between some heavy reads, just go for this one.

Typically, I do not include bio of the authors in my book reviews. But, since this book is by a fellow blogger I feel inclined to include it here. You can also check her blog:
http://tarangsinha.blogspot.in

About the Author:
Tarang Sinha is a freelance writer and editor. She is an avid reader and active Blogger. Her works have been published in magazines like Good Housekeeping India, Child India, Woman’s Era and Alive, and a bestselling anthology “Uff Ye Emotions 2”.                 

A science graduate, she holds a Diploma in Creative Writing in English from IGNOU. 'We Will Meet Again...' is her first novel.


Friday, March 24, 2017

REPOST - Thandai Syrup - Made From Scratch



Thandai is rich milk based Indian drink. It is most popularly consumed during the Indian festival of colors – Holi. I have been making Thandai syrup at home for past couple of years and believe me it is so simple to make it that you would never want to get a bottle of ready-made Thandai syrup.

It is one of those stellar recipes that I discovered when I started food blogging years ago. I had tried it from here and instantly I feel in love with the recipe. I had even done a blog post on it here and after all these years I think it seems to be lost in the labyrinths of this blog. So, I think it is worth re-posting it. Since, I am making it for quite some time now; I have fine-tuned the recipe to my own liking and taste.


I like to believe that Thandai is a drink fit for the royals – with almonds, saffron, cardamom, rose water, et al, in the right amounts you cannot go wrong. One glance at the recipe and it may seem to be a daunting one, but is NOT.  Read the recipe well; gather all the ingredients at one place before you set out to make it. 





Makes 1 litre of ready-to-use Thandai syrup

Ingredients:

1/2 cup almonds, soaked overnight and blanched

Soak these together in water overnight
3 tbsp poppy seeds
3 dried melon seeds

Soak these ingredients in ¼ cup of water and then grind it
1 tbsp green cardamom
3 tbsp whole black pepper 
3 tbsp fennel seeds

1 kg sugar
1 cup water + add 1/4 cup more if needed
3 tbsp rose petal spread (Gulkand)
25-30 strands saffron (Rub it in a pestle and mortar with  a few drops of water and sugar crystals)
1 tsp rose water 

Process:
1. In a mixer jar add the blanched almonds. Drain water from poppy seeds and melon seeds and tip them into the mixer jar and using very little water grind it into a fine paste. Strain through a muslin cloth and extract all the liquid and keep aside. You may add little water to the residue and churn it again in the mixer again and repeat the process of straining again.

2. Add the rose petal spread to the ground cardamom-pepper-fennel mixture and mix well. Strain through a fine plastic net and extract all the liquid and keep aside. It is okay if the extracted liquid has some fine residue. 

3. Mix both the extracted liquids and keep aside.

4. Add the sugar and 1 cup of water in a deep thick bottom pan and cook until the sugar dissolves.
It may take some time for the sugar to dissolve. Bring it to boil and simmer for a couple of minutes.

5. Remove from the heat and let it cool for a couple of minutes. Add the extracted liquid to it and stir.
Heat it again and bring it to a boil and then turn the heat to medium and simmer for 7-10 minutes, stirring constantly.

6. Remove from the heat and cool till warm and then add the rubbed saffron mixture and rose water and mix well.When the Thandai syrup completely cools down, use a funnel to pour into a sterilized bottle. It keeps well for at least 3 months when kept in refrigerator.

7. To make a glass of Thandai add 2 tbsp syrup and top it with 200 ml chilled milk. Stir vigorously. Garnish with almond slivers, chopped pistachios and saffron strands.


Notes: 

1. Don't be tempted to add more than 1+ 1/4 cup of water to 1 kg sugar, else the final syrup will be very thin.

2. If the syrup crystallizes in the process of cooling, add 1/4 cup of hot water and give it a good stir.


3. If you do not have all the ingredients listed to make thandai, you can try a combination of almonds + cardamom or almonds + kesar to get almond syrup. The process will be same.

4. The residue of almond+poppy seeds+melon seeds can be used in gravies if used on the same day.

5. In order to sterilize a glass bottle with no metal parts on it, place a thoroughly cleaned, washed and dried bottle in microwave and microwave it for 1 minute. Use it to store the Thandai syrup when it comes back to room temperature.

I hope you try out this recipe and enjoy a glass of chilled Thandai to beat the heat this summer. Cheers!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Stolen Hope by Shubha Vilas (Book #3 of the Ramayana Series - The Game of Life)


Stolen Hope by Shubha Vilas (Book #3 of the Ramayana Series)

For the past half an hour, I am typing… and deleting as I type. I am not sure how to start the post. It has been than a year now since I blogged here the last time. A lot of changes have happened in the past that can account for my absence in the blogging world. I am a mom now and that explains it all.

And talking about the review of this book - Stolen Hope by Shubha Vilas - it should have been posted long ago, a year ago to be precise. Here is a picture of the New Year message the author had jotted down on the signed copy for the year 2016 and here I am posting the review in 2017.



My sincere apologies to the author for not being able to do it sooner. As a reader, I love reading books on Ramayana and hence, even after the inordinate delay, I couldn’t live with not posting a review of this book in particular. So, here I am here with a quick review. 

Author: Shubha Vilas
Title:  Stolen Hope, Book 3
Series: Ramayana: The Game of Life
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House
Publication Year: 2016
ISBN 13: 9788184958249
Binding: Paperback
Number of pages: 312

Price: Rs 299

Re-telling Ramayana is a mammoth task and the author is doing it with utmost dedication and sincerity. This is the third book of the Ramayana series - The Game of Life by the author and you can read my review of the first two books - Rise of the Sun Prince (Book1) here and Shattered Dreams (Book 2) here. In his series of Ramayana, the author has tried to stay true to Valmiki Ramayana. As you read the book, you will realize how much research has gone into the writing it. I came across many unheard-of small tales which made the reading experience even more enriching.

The story in the book takes off from the point it was left in the last book. The trio - Rama, Sita and Lakshmana are settling down in Dandankaranya. Things are not meant to be monotonous for them - something or the other is always happening. Sometimes, they meet enlightened sages and sometimes they are fighting off demons. But, a chain of events start when Surphankha - sister of Ravana, the demon king of Lanka lays her eyes on Rama which ultimately leads to the abduction of Sita by Ravana. 

The writing style is lucid and engrossing. Everything is described in such detail that you could imagine it happening in your mind. The foot notes by the author are gems of wisdom. Just reading the book as you would read any other novel won't let you understand the crux. You have to go really slow with the book- absorbing the meaning and how the values it teaches holds good in our lives from the foot notes. At times, it does feel that they are disrupting the flow of the story. I too had such moments while reading the book and so, I would re-read chapters again. That is the beauty of Ramayana; you can read it again and again without getting bored. 

Another beauty of the author's writing style is that every character bloom and shine in his words. Every character, even the tiniest ones, gets their due share of space without being overshadowed by the main characters. That is the hallmark of a great story teller.

If you love reading books on Ramayana or Indian mythology, this series of books is a must have on your book shelf.

Some lessons in crisp lines quoted from the book.

Historical travel creates road maps.
Historical speeches create mindsets.
Historical habits create cultures.
Historical mistakes create wisdom.

The depth of contribution, the height of value system and the width of tolerance determine the real size of a human being.

Responsibility is not a choice, it's an honor.

Fame is like riding ocean waves.

In the absence of somebody's presence is revealed here true value. What presence cannot accomplish absence can.

Real faith is not about having insane, intense belief for a short duration but about having progressively increasing conviction for a longer duration.

Righteousness is like a surf board that keeps you afloat even in the midst of shifting tides of immorality.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.



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