Archive | February, 2014

{friendship series} Bedmi Puri – An Uttar Pradesh specialty

28 Feb

As a continuation to my last week’s post, I have featured Ankur’s very own Bedmi Puri recipe. For the uninitiated, Puris are Indian flatbreads that are deep fried in oil and they take a puffed up appearance. Bedmi Puri is a Uttar Pradesh specialty ( a state in the north of India) which uses a unique blend of spices and urad dal.

Urad dal /www.foodsubs.com

Generally, I avoid making deep fried food at home but Bedmi puri is an exception. On days when I am feeling generous and happy such as some work -free weekends, I do make a lavish spread of bedmi puri, dum aloo and kheer ( rice pudding) for my family.

Post this heavenly lunch, we all take a much needed afternoon siesta until it is time to head out for an evening full of social hobnobbing.  Life is good in Bahrain but I still cannot help but feel that familiar longing for my old friends. This post is again about Ankur because I am not done talking about her. When I talk about Ankur, I cannot do so with talking about Deepa.  I write this post from India where I have come down for a short trip to attend a relative’s wedding. Being back in the old space – Delhi/ Noida, brings back a bucket full of memories of Deepa and Ankur. On this trip, I happened to read this beautiful book called “Sister of my Heart” by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and I miss both of them even more. I feel compelled to constantly compare the two protagonists – Basudha and Anjali with Deepa and Ankur. If you are fond of beautiful, touching writing that evokes emotions that rise like tides on a full moon, you should read this book.

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Deepa also worked with us ( Ankur and me ) in the same organization and I found her as someone who could charm through the coldest of hearts with her enticing smile. I met her at a time when career-wise it was possibly the worst period and I wasn’t in the best of moods to be friendly. But Deepa danced and sang her way through my coldness. Publicly known for her dislike for the culinary arts, Deepa never felt the strong emotions that Ankur and I felt towards food and cooking. But there were other passions that we bonded over such as shopping from thrift shops, office -pantry singing and late night partying.

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This post gave me a chance to look back at my life – the carefree life with fewer responsibilities. I took this opportunity to go through all my old albums where I reminisced about our last Goa trip, the trip to Binsar, many a late night dinners and late evening coffees at Cafe Coffee Day and Barista in Noida. Ankur, Deepa and I have way too many memories and even if I try and jot all of them it will take very, many posts. I am afraid, I will only fall short of words reminding me that certain emotions are better remembered and felt. Putting them down in words can never do justice.

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Food and memories are central to my blog. Being blessed with terrible memory, this blog is my only rescue. Through words, I greedily try and capture all possible memories which time is hastily trying to erase. On 24th of Feb, this blog completed 4 years. It just slipped past unnoticed – ofcourse only I remembered because like a mother who can never forget her children’s birthdays, I cannot forget my blog’s birthday too. This blog has been my loyal companion for 4 years, changing and moulding itself into any shape that I gave it over these 4 years. I had planned  a lot of things for my blog – a new look, a giveaway etc. but none of it materialized due to the lack  of time which is such a mundane excuse that I cringe as I write it. I know I haven’t shown as much affection to the blog as it has and yet it serves me uncomplainingly. I am determined to change that going forward.

Now for the recipe of the Bedmi Puri that Ankur shared with me – thank you Ankur! Miss you and Deepa a lot.

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{friendship series} A terrific Dum Aloo recipe

21 Feb

Two years back I badgered some of my closest friends to share their favourite recipes with me. Soon enough I collected a good number of their favorite recipes for the ” Friendship Series”. Now that I have tried their recipes and I think each of them is absolutely stunning and worthy of all the praises that I can possibly shower. Apart from the agenda that included collecting of recipes, I wanted to capture the essence of my relationship with all these beautiful people. In this post, I share a wonderful recipe of Dum Aloo that my dear friend Ankur shared with me.

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I met Ankur in 2005 as a colleague with the first company I worked for after completing my Masters. My first impression of her was that she was extremely fastidious and diligent as far as her work was concerned. Also, I noticed she laughed a lot. A lot. Her infectious laughter drew me to her and we started interacting a lot more. She admired the way I could put my eye liner in a few strong strokes while I tried to absorb her indefatigable zest for life. We bonded over office gossip, short lived crushes and conversations about food and cooking.

BedmiPuri9Ankur has always been a good sounding board and even after we moved countries with our respective spouses and (now) children, we never lost touch. An occasional email, a quick phone call or chats on gmail have been ways that we have kept in touch. Sharing recipes. pictures of our children helps us keep track of what’s going on in each other’s lives. Recently, Ankur has taken to baking like a fish takes to water and it is amazing how quickly she is churning out one baked treat after the other.

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Some of my favourite moments with Ankur have been on our all-friends trip to Goa. It was once in a life time kind of carefree trip where we roamed on bikes far and wide on the roads of Goa.

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Ankur is a terrific  cook and it is no surprise that I turn back to her recipes time and again. This Dum Aloo recipe uses next to zilch amount of oil and is so quick to prep and whip up. This has become my go-to recipe whenever I have guests to entertain. As a brilliant accompaniment, I serve this dum aloo with Ankur’s very own”Bedmi Puri” recipe which I will include in the next post. 

Sneak peek at the luscious Bedmi Puri ( next post)

Sneak peek at the luscious Bedmi Puri ( next post)

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My friendship stories with Ankur will continue in the next post with her luscious “Bedmi Puri” Recipe which is a western U.P. specialty.

Until then, a brilliant weekend to one and all.

P.S. If you are interested in reading some exciting fantasy fiction, you can head over to my other blog to catch up with a book I had written last year for a competition. I am posting chapter by chapter, once every week.

Parenthood and other things + Chocolate Pistachio Fudge

19 Feb

Being a parent is the most fortunate thing to happen to anyone –  seems like an overstatement but I think it’s absolutely true. When Mimi was born, it took me a while to step out from the state of awe. Tiny and vulnerable, my new-born looked like the most exquisite thing I had ever laid my eyes on. Unfortunately, unlike most of you, I didn’t take to motherhood naturally. It took me a great while to figure her out. I was too scared to trust my instincts or for that matter even my husband’s as far as Mimi affairs were concerned. Be it her colicky experience, her natural tendency to run before she started walking, her difficulty in pronouncing ” Y” and “Th” words ( words like yellow were pronounced as Lello and Bath was Baff).  Rather than trusting my own instincts, I would look up the internet or talk to my mother who I thought is the authority in raising a child since she managed to make something out  of me! But over a period of time, I have understood Mimi and my instincts are better positioned to work and deliver.

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Despite having four solid years of experience of raising a child, both my husband and I still struggle when it comes to trusting our instincts as parents. It becomes increasingly difficult especially when a credible source like school and especially your child’s teacher tells you certain things about your child that you find difficult to refute. It was when Mimi joined nursery that I went back to work. It was  a trying time for both of us because we spent nearly 3.5 glorious years together before this abrupt separation happened. ( including the pregnancy months when I took a sabbatical from work)

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The first year passed incident-free but the second year onward we received a steady stream of complaints from school regarding her behaviour. Mimi suddenly resorted to displaying sudden bursts of temper and several cases of disobedience. These complaints did not cease even after several attempts of intervention with Mimi. We, as parents, were at our wits end. The teacher and school started to label her as someone with ADHD and that increased our anxiety levels beyond imagination. Every single day was spent trying to make Mimi understand about good behaviour but none seem to work. Somehow we resigned to believe that maybe Mimi did have ADHD and perhaps as the teacher suggested would need medical attention and therapy.  We spoke to several counselors, Psychotherapists and child psychiatrists and each one of them strongly recommended that we should wait it out because at 3  years it was too early to diagnose anything. It was the most grueling time for us as parents and midst all of this confusion, the school gave us a hard time questioning our parenting skills.

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Finally, after months of sleepless nights, we decided to trust our instincts and take her off the school especially when certain stray incidents of discrimination came to my knowledge. It was as if the school did not want her too. Truce was declared and Mimi spent  several months at home doing what she liked – painting, writing, watching her favourite shows, eating wonderful food and chilling out. What surprised me was that she was  a completely different person at home as compared to how the teachers projected her – A devil child.

For a parent, there no bigger grief trust me.

Once she was off school, there was collective sigh of relief and life went on.  Towards the beginning of a new year, I went up to one of the smaller nurseries in town and requested them to take Mimi. The new school gladly took her and Mimi began a new life with new classmates, new teachers and a brand new atmosphere. By the grace of God, she took to this new school rather easily and the positive environment did a good deal of good. Her beautiful character sparkled through and she started to enjoy the new tryst. There were never any complaints from school and we thanked our lucky stars that she found a loving environment that cherishes her for what and who she is.

We are so happy that we trusted our instincts and got her off the previous school without falling for the teacher’s random observations of Mimi having ADHD. These days ADHD has become the easiest label given to a child who is slightly naughty. I feel it is utterly unfair when schools and their ‘qualified’ teachers assume this easy way of relinquishing all responsibility when it comes to handling children with different capacities and energy levels by pronouncing them as either developmentally slow or suffering from ADHD.

Hence a lesson to learn from our bitter experience would be always, ALWAYS trust your own instincts in matters relating to your child.

Only yesterday we got to know that Mimi got accepted at the “Big School” after a thorough interview process and fantastic recommendation from her current school. We are so proud of her and how she has transformed in the last 6-8 months with the new school. It is a big milestone for us as parents and a beautiful opportunity for Mimi. This joyous moment called out for something sweet and beautiful and the chocolate pistachio fudge was the right choice – instinctively. 🙂

It asks for very few basic ingredients and very little prep. It is fudgy and full of chocolate goodness. You would be surprised how quickly these vanish – these little bites of heaven. Enjoy these one at a time with your children and treasure every moment spent with them because time’s flying away. Wishing you all a terrific mid-week!

Click to see the enlarged picture of the recipe card

Click to see the enlarged picture of the recipe card

 

On why there is no need to lead a deficient life & a healthy Vegetable Couscous recipe

15 Feb

Now if all the Valentines gifts have been unwrapped and the chocolate puddings have been licked off the spoon, can we talk about something serious today? Not serious as much as important. Have you been feeling a little under the weather lately? For the past lets say one or two or three months or even more than a year? When I say under the weather, I mean a few aches and pains in the body, wee bit tiredness to chronic fatigue and mild depression even on a sunny day. Well then it is something you should not simply sit upon and do nothing about.

I started experiencing these symptoms for as long as I can remember. A year or two years perhaps but I attributed it to the fact that I was prone to depression from time to time. But lately for the past several months I began to experience chronic fatigue. The inability to get up from my bed to do normal chores and to go about my hectic day made me feel terrible. I suspected it had something to do with the new work-out routine or a change in diet perhaps. I respected my body’s wishes and didn’t push myself and waited for it to reach back to me with refilled buckets of energy. Unfortunately it did not happen. This lack of energy, a general lassitude and mild every-day depression began to affect me and the people that I love the most in my life. It was during a rigourous interval training session with my trainer that I confided feeling low and he remarked that I wasn’t giving my best to the routine. He then suggested to get my blood checked for Vitamin D deficiency and Thyroid. I got my tests done and found out that I had a Vitamin D deficiency. I was prescribed Vitamin D3 along with Calcium by the doctor.  It has been two weeks since I have started with the medication and I feel better already. I feel energized or perhaps these are my normal energy levels that are being restored. My moods aren’t dark and gloomy and I look forward to each day with renewed optimism.

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There is no feeling bigger, greater than feeling like your own self. 

Couscous

Couscous

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Vitamin D deficiency occurs for the following reason:

  • Darker skin. The darker your skin the more sun you need to get the same amount of vitamin D as a fair-skinned person.
  • If you spend a lot of time indoors during the day.  I stay indoors in office most of the time and when I go home its quite late.
  • If you cover your skin all of the time. If you wear sunscreen or wear full sleeves clothes
  • If you have been a vegetarian all your life. Growing up I have had a vegetarian diet thereby excluding crucial Vitamin D food sources such as Fish, eggs (very sparingly) and liver.
  • You are obese. Vitamin D is extracted from the blood by fat cells and people with body mass index of 30 or greater often have low blood levels of vitamin D.

And many more. You can look up for material on the internet to educate yourself on the causes of this deficiency.

Suffering from Vitamin D deficiency can have several implications:

  • Not having enough Vitamin D through food sources or the sun or supplements can lead to your body absorbing less calcium and there by affecting calcium metabolism in the body
  • The above reason would lead to the general aches and pains in the body
  • Not feeling enough sun is a common cause for depression as well
  • Above all the fatigue is killing.
  • Long term deficiencies lead to  increased risk of death from cardiovascular diseases, asthma in children and even cancer.

I am not a medical practitioner but since the time I got to know of my deficient levels which in turn made me live a deficient life, I educated myself about its implications and causes. Hence by all means you can question all the matter that has been included in the post but if you do feel any thing like I have felt in the past 1 year or so, its worth considering a blood test.

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Since good health is the topic for the day, I have included a healthy couscous recipe which is not only filling but also extremely healthy. The couscous that we get in a packet here is pre-cooked so all that is needed is soaking it in hot stock or simply boiling water. The coucous fluffs up beautifully absorbing the flavour of the liquid of choice. To this I added some stir fried vegetables such as broccoli, aubergines, beans, carrots, onions etc. Basically, you can add any vegetable that you like. I used up the lot that was in my vegetable tray for a week and couldn’t think of a better way of using them up.

It is one of my favourite recipes that is extremely easy to whip up and is delicious too. I alter the quantity of couscous and use more vegetables to make it healthier. You can reverse the equation and make it couscous heavy and less vegetables. The other option to make this dish rich is to add lightly fried paneer or even raisins and nuts. Eggs match well too. So the versatility of this recipe is boundless. You can use a vegetarian stock or a chicken stock and the couscous swells up beautifully to the chosen flavour.

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With this I come to the end of my post. My next post would be about a chocolate pistachio fudge which is beyond addcitive. I share my foodie life on Instagram at @sliceofmylyfe and if you like what I do on my blog, I am sure you would love my Instagram feed even more.Happy weekend everybody!

Hello, I love you….

12 Feb

It is that time of the year where corny rules and cheesy is the flavour of the day. Valentine’s Day is a week away and my inbox is spammed with emails from chocolates and flower companies with shopping suggestions. As years have rolled on, Valentine’s day for me isn’t about fluttering heart beats and romantic cards anymore. As a matter of fact, the only times I have been aware of this love-day was when my husband surprised me with gifts. Even he knows that this day doesn’t stir me though I appreciate all his efforts. But this year, it was different. This new person in my life just blew my mind away with the most wonderful gift. I know now that you can never be too old for mush.

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Do you see that little red heart in the center of the red velvet I and U?

My baby made it for me. She drew a heart which she claimed was only as big as her own heart that beats “thud thud , thud thud”. She coloured it with her red colour pencil and used her child-friendly scissors to cut the heart out. She came up to me while I was busy with something in the kitchen and called out, “Hello, I love you..”

I turned around to see her holding out this little red paper heart out to me.

“Happy Valentines Mamma. Keep this in your purse. I made it for you. Don’t ever lose it.”

I took it from her tiny fingers that were dented from the intense pressure of colouring the paper heart.

RVB3I stood in the kitchen holding the paper heart long after the little artist was gone. I placed it delicately in the palms of my hands wondering how much I loved this little person. To have her reciprocate in this fashion was the ultimate joy I have ever experienced. My child is growing up and she is exploring different emotions. I sense a change in her and in the way she reacts to the world around her, including me. Her reciprocation blew my mind away. For that moment, I felt she loved me more than I thought I loved her. I slid her precious heart in my purse and as I looked up I saw her observing me. She smiled because she was happy I was following her instructions.

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When I got back to my chores, I noticed her rummaging through my purse to make sure her heart was in the right place and safe. Satisfied, she went back to doing her own thing. That is when I thought of making these lovely red velvet chocolate brownies to show my 4 year old how much I appreciate her gift of love. I used a red velvet recipe to capture the colour of her red paper heart that went “thud,thud thud thud”.

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The recipe makes a very small batch – just enough to please a 4 -year-old girl. 16 pieces in all but full of chocolate and red velvet goodness. I refered to Averie Cook’s recipe to make these decadent plum coloured beauties.

The recipe is below in the recipe card (click on it to see the enlarged version). I urge that you make this small batch of beautiful red velvet brownies and see how happy it makes your loved ones.

RVB5It is remarkable how love takes different forms as we grow older. Its meaning and its essence changes over time and becomes mellow and enduring. My daughter’s eyes lit up the moment she saw this chocolate covered squares and I realized I hit a home run.

Hope everybody has a beautiful Valentines.Celebrate love, celebrate closeness and feel lucky.

“Crabby” Chocolate Croissants from Nigella Express & why cooking can change your life

7 Feb

My love affair with Nigella’s recipes is legendary. I already have all her popular cook books and by the end of April this year, I will have added another one of her books to my ever – burgeoning collection of books. My poor book case in groaning under the weight of so many books and soon I would have to buy a new one or build a make shift one to accommodate the new ones.

On back to the point of this post. In this post, I share Nigella’s Cheat’s chocolate croissant. When I watched the video, I couldn’t believe making a croissant could be this simple. Well they are cheat’s croissants and so they had to be quick and hassle -free. This year, I hope to undertake the real croissant challenge working my way through the layers of pastry sheets and tubs of butter.

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When I made mine, they turned out to be slightly different looking as compared to Nigella’s.  Says a lot about my incredible crafting abilities. My chocolate croissants looked like crabs heavy in the middle after a large meal. But, but , but, they were enormously delicious! Isn’t that what we want at the end of it all. So I thought I should rightfully call these croissants “Crabby” ( only in the way they look and not crabby- mood inducing)

Step-by-step instructions

Step-by-step instructions

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For the recipe you could see this incredibly engrossing video of Nigella doing her cheat’s chocolate croissant for Nigella Express.

Usually I am a very keen cook and I love spending time in the kitchen dishing out home made meals. But off – late, I am all about lazy cooking and cheat’s meals. Guess its the weather in Bahrain that is making me snuggle up on my couch and eat whatever I can lay my hands on. It was then I came upon this very interesting video my Micheal Pollan ( Fantastic , fantastic author of the book called “Cooked“) To anybody who enjoys to read about now culture intersects with food and behavioral patterns, this book is for you. 

I want anyone who is reading this blog to watch this video with all the care and attention you can. In here, Micheal Pollan stresses why and how cooking can change your life! It completely transformed my perspective about how powerful it is to take control of what we eat and feed our families. Learning how to cook and/or applying ourselves in the kitchen can result in long term health and other benefits.

 

C2Michael Pollan’s empowering thought process sure had enough pull to get me off the couch and start cooking again instead of reaching out for comforting / addictive packets of food that are so easy to make. Hope it makes you all who don’t cook enough at home, sit up and make that conscious promise to cook and eat healthy.

Next weekend, I have my favourite comfort food – Couscous and vegetables – that I will cover on my blog. Make sure you come back for this healthy couscous recipe. Take care and happy weekend, all!

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