Monday, 21 July 2014

Recipe for the Week – Undaputtu: Ramadan Special Guest Post on Gheza-e-Shiriin

The holy month of Ramadan is in its last leg, with only a week left to go. These last days of Ramadan are considered the holiest, with people spending most of their time in worship. Even though fasting is prescribed from sunrise to sunset, it doesn’t mean that we do away with food altogether! The time of breaking the day long fast is really special, and traditional dishes make their presence on the table. Today’s recipe is one such dish from the Malabar region of Kerala, called Undaputtu, or steamed rice flour dumplings with a prawn filling.


I know you’re waiting for the recipe, and for that you can visit my guest post over at Huma’s yummilicious blog, Gheza-e-Shiriin for her Ramadan event. Many bloggers have participated and today’s my turn!! Please hop over for the full recipe and show us both some love!




Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Morning Musings

Source

She stood there, hands folded across each other and resting on the balcony railing. She looked across the tops of the numerous coconut trees, interrupted by apartment high rises. One day, she thought, I’ll buy an apartment in one of those buildings. She loved her rental flat too, it was comfortable, but the dream of owning her own home never left her thoughts.

There was a cool breeze coming in from the sea, which lightly ruffled the stray strands of hair by the side of her face. Some days she hated her curly locks and made them go through all kinds of torture in an attempt to straighten the hell out of them. On some days like this one, she loved the pretty curls they made and wondered why people ever bothered hiding themselves when they were perfect just the way God made them.

The color of the sky was slowly lightening up. As she watched, the street lights went off. A few women came out their front doors and began sweeping the area around their houses. Malayalees were obsessed with morning rituals like these, she thought with a smile.


The sun came up all the way and spread its glorious warmth all around. The birds were chirping and she could hear the buzz of activity in the kitchen downstairs. With one more glance at the distant apartment buildings, she thanked God for a lovely new day and walked back inside. 




Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Recipe for the Week – Cheddar Oregano Scones (Baking Partners Challenge #23)

I’m back with a recipe!! I missed last month’s Baking Partners challenge with everything that happened, so I really wanted to do this month’s. All the more since I’ve never made scones before although they’ve been on my ‘must-bake’ list for so long. They are surprisingly easy to make, and the end result is more than satisfactory!

This month, we had two options – a savory tart and cheesy scones. This recipe doesn’t have those small cute scones; instead it features larger scone wedges. This is another reason the recipe is so easy and quick – no scone cutters required. The original recipe is from here, and was modified a little for us by Archana from The Mad Scientist’s Kitchen. Archana also provided some useful tips along with a step by step tutorial which was very helpful :). The recipe actually calls for sage, but I couldn’t find any and made do with oregano.


What you’ll need:

225 g plain flour, plus more for dusting
3 tsp baking powder
A pinch of pepper
50 g salted butter, plus more for greasing
50 g + 50 g cheddar cheese, grated
1 tbsp oregano + ½ tbsp oregano
1½ tsp English Mustard
100 ml curd
50 ml water

Note: The recipe calls for unsalted butter and added salt, but I skipped the salt and used salted butter. Also, I couldn’t find powdered English mustard as mentioned in the original recipe, so I went with regular English mustard.

What you’re going to do:

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and grease and flour a shallow baking pan. Cut up the butter into small cubes and put it back to chill.

2. Whisk the curd till smooth and add water till it hits the 150 ml mark. Set aside a tsp to brush on the scones. Whisk the mustard into the remaining buttermilk.


3. Sift the flour with the baking powder and pepper till well combined.


4. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips till it resembles breadcrumbs.



5. Add 50 g cheese and 1 T oregano and mix it all together with your fingers.


6. Make a well in the centre and add the buttermilk-mustard mixture. Roll into a soft dough.



7. Pat the dough into a circle 3 cm thick. Transfer this circle onto the prepared pan.


8. Cut the circle into 8 parts and separate the wedges a little on the pan.


9. Brush the scone wedges with the reserved buttermilk and then sprinkle the ½ tbsp oregano on top. Follow with the remaining 50 g cheese.


10. Bake for about 15 minutes till the scones are browned and the cheese is completely melted.



Check out that beautiful brown and all that glorious melted cheese:


The recommended way of serving these scones is with butter, but we skipped it.


Instead, we had it for breakfast with sausages and some Tabasco sauce on the side :).


This is perfectly lovely for a cold rainy morning. Doesn’t take too long, and doesn’t need the butter to be left out or anything. I think it would go really well with some scrambled eggs too :). Or maybe baked beans; the options are endless!!



Have you ever tried baking scones? If not, do try out this recipe!! Till then, here’s a little something for Game of Scones….err….Thrones fans:

Source




Friday, 6 June 2014

Website Review: Zoutons.com – The Loot is On!


I bet that catchy tagline caught your eye, didn’t it? The Loot is On! I can’t think of a better way to describe an online shopping experience where you can make huge savings on all your purchases, and that’s exactly what Zoutons.com promises you!!


India is shopping online in a big way nowadays. And why not – there are so many options, with practically every kind of product available online. And having coupons that cut your costs just sweetens the deal! The Zoutons.com website offers you coupons for nearly all the major shopping websites in India today, like Flipkart, Myntra, Jabong, Amazon India, Snapdeal – the list goes on and on!

The website itself is  very neat and comes straight to the point without any unnecessary graphics or fuss. The tabs at the top clearly indicate how you can search for coupons – by category (apparel, electronics etc.), by stores (flipkart, jabong etc.) or by brands (Adidas, Puma etc.). There are even coupons that you can use on shopping using specific credit cards!!

The main page shows you all the hottest coupons on the online shopping scene: the latest ones as well as the most popular ones. The availability of common categories like apparel, footwear and electronics is obvious, but did you know that you can also get deals on hotel booking, holiday packages, movies, restaurants and even bathroom fittings?? How’s that for variety!!


One of the things I like the most about this website is the customer interaction part. Every venture requires the support of everyone involved to be a true success, and Zoutons.com handles this beautifully. Every coupon deal has a Yes/No button where you can specify whether the coupon worked for you or not. A user rating is created based on votes and is displayed right next to the store name at the top.


Another useful feature is the ‘Submit coupon’ form on the landing page. If you find something new, you can use this form to submit your coupon and help other shoppers avail the same discount. You can also sign up to get deals of the day straight in your inbox.

Overall, the website is really user friendly, loads quickly and has a clean and neat interface. So the next time you want to shop online, don’t forget to check out Zoutons.com or you’ll be missing out on some really good deals!



Thursday, 5 June 2014

In Memoriam



Sometimes, life has a way of surprising, or rather, shocking you out of your skin. Everything’s going fine, you’re making plans, and then…. wham!!!

I’m guessing that through Facebook, many of you already know about what I’m talking about – the sudden death of my Mother in law. She was in her late sixties, a diabetic and with arthritic knees, but otherwise okay with no life threatening disease. We spent Friday and Saturday at her place, leaving only after dinner on Saturday. She was perfectly fine, making big plans and sounding really excited about her U.S based elder son and family coming to visit in June. She was especially thrilled at meeting her grand kids after two and a half years. How big they must be!!

Sunday passed as usual, she saw a few patients (she’s a doctor), pottered about the house and then went to bed. She got up on Monday morning complaining about pain in her left arm, applied some balm, said she felt too tired to eat breakfast and went to lie down. My father in law had his breakfast and went to check on her, but she seemed fast asleep. Suddenly, she made this gasping sound and looked like she was choking. My FIL called a doctor from the nearby hospital, who came and said that things looked really bad and that she was unlikely to make it. Within 10 minutes, she was gone. Just like that.

I couldn’t believe it at first. But she was perfectly okay, how did this happen?? A thousand questions. Disbelief from everyone who was informed. Relatives, friends, family members - pouring in from all directions.

It was heart breaking to look at my father in law’s face. After their children flew the nest, it’s been just the two of them for the past twenty years. Their relatives and extended family live quite far away, and with age, visits dwindled down to once or twice a year. I can’t begin to imagine how he must have felt at that moment.

We debated about how to tell Cub. His paternal grandmother was the playmate grandparent, the one who didn’t mind the mess as long as he had fun. My mother eventually explained what happened and waited for questions. But he had none. Probably the only one who didn’t have any. He just nodded his head and walked away. He never asked for her after that, but he was in a bad mood all the time, throwing tantrums and acting out.

It has been a hard time, these past few weeks. The American brother arrived with his family two days later, and we’ve all been with my FIL. Everyone’s presence has offered him some comfort and he seems better. But they’ll leave this Sunday, and Cub’s school starts on Monday as well. Living arrangements are being discussed, since FIL can’t be left alone, but he’s reluctant to leave his old home and move in with us. Nothing’s the same anymore. Everything’s changed and we have no choice but to accept those changes and move forward.


In spite of everything, I think we’re doing okay. My FIL has restarted going for his morning walk and seems more interested in his food. Cub has settled down and is now looking forward to going back to school. I’ve restarted my writing, though the internet and electricity are quite shaky here. The rains have offered some respite from the heat and it somehow feels like it’s washing away the dust and clearing up a way to look ahead.



I am glad that my Mother in law was happy and content when she died, although she didn’t get to meet her other grandkids. I pray that she rests in peace. I pray that the family recovers soon and finds its way forward, accompanied by happy memories of a beloved mother and grandmother. 

Source



Sunday, 1 June 2014

Book Review – Sita’s Curse


Title: Sita’s Curse

Author: Sreemoyee Piu Kundu




Plot: A beautiful young girl from a village in Gujarat, Meera has barely come to terms with the death of her twin brother, when she is married off to a stranger in Mumbai. The groom seems aloof from the start, and Meera realizes that she is stuck in a loveless marriage that fails to satisfy her desires and longings. She meets several people through the years, though she fails to strike a bond with anyone. Finally, a rainy, flooded day in Mumbai changes her life.

Review: I’m sorry if the plot seems so short and incomplete, but that’s all there really is to it. I’ll be honest here: The title of the book and the blurb misled me into thinking that this was a feminist story – a woman breaking free of all the oppression around her. Only much later did I realize that the genre was erotica but even then, I had high expectations. This book, sadly, doesn’t really fall into any of those categories.

Broadly speaking, this seems like the screenplay of a C grade Hindi movie, like the ones that get screened in shady movie halls in the corner of a town or village. The heroine Meera is immensely unlikeable, as she cruises through the wafer thin storyline, her pallu slipping all the time, revealing her perky assets, ‘like the ones foreigners have’.

Meera is so beautiful that she has the men of the colony thronging the streets when she walks. Even the gigolo ends up getting smitten by her. Unfortunately, she is just as obsessed with herself and comes across as callous and unscrupulous.

At the risk of sounding like a prude, I’m going to say that this novel was actually disgusting for me. After a point, you get tired of reading about all the sex Meera has (which is quite boring) and just want the story to move on. And she does get a lot of action with practically everyone; no one is spared, not her brother, her cousin, her dance teacher, her second dance teacher, the family Guruji etc.

There are also some cringe-worthy conversations with her Mother, Mother in law and her husband, the bra salesman. Among all these, there are a few digs at the hypocritical Indian society, but by then you are just tired of hearing about how much she loves chest hair on men. Eww.

The title of the book is surprising, since other than the fact that she played Sita at Dussehra every year in her village, there is no relation between the plot and the title. At least there aren’t any typos or grammatical mistakes.

Verdict: By now, you must have a pretty good idea about what to expect from the book. You are free to give it a try, of course, but my recommendation would be to stay away. I’m sure you’ll find several other options if you want either erotica or feminism which are miles better than this tiring book.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!



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