Kalpa & Ram recipes

Small discs of jaggery sweet Dosa layered with salted caramel and mint! Yumm…
1 part wheat flour, 1/4 rice flour, 1 part jaggery softened in water with elaichi, roasted desiccated coconut, dried ginger powder and a pinch of salt . Mini dosas made crispy.. create the towering sizzle….

  • Salmon curry – no coconut

    Sunday special – kerala salmon curry (super easy)
    Salmon pieces
    2 onions, Finely chopped
    6 garlic chopped
    3 inch ginger chopped
    Curry leaves
    Red chillies dry
    Sliced tomatoes x2
    1/2/3 tsp- haldi, chilli pd, dhaniya
    Kokum optional

    Heat oil, add mustard seeds, onion, ginger, garlic. Fry until translucent. Add sliced tomatoes and curry leaves. Stir till it becomes a mushy mix. Add hot water, drop the salmon pieces, Kokum and cover and cook till done.

    Serve with hot rice!

  • And my princess turns 18 👸👸

    Rhea’s favourite restaurant is Dishum…. Just like so many of us too. So when we realised we couldn’t go to Dishum, Dishum decided to come to us 😍😍. A birthday dinner fit for a princess….and she loved it! Nothing is more precious in this world other than a genuine thank you from your little adult 😍

    Menu –

    Lamb chops
    Gun powder potatoes
    Black dal
    Kiwi mango salad

    Naan, steamed rice

    Oreo cheesecake ( total flop!)
    Daddy’s lemon drizzle… Takes one straight to heaven 😍😍😍
    Subhash ‘s lemon drizzle…. And we go straight to heaven again!!! 🤣🤣🤣

  • Persian Rose and Pistachio cake

    This enchanting cake reminds me of a Persian garden in the late spring, adorned with the floral scent of rose water and citrus, and decorated with bright green pistachios.

    If it is not devoured in one sitting, the oil in the ground almond base ensures a moist, densely textured cake that will keep well for a couple of days, covered in foil. A sprinkling of dried rose petals looks pretty for special occasions, but don’t worry if you can’t get hold of any. It’s still a cake to win hearts.

    Prep time: 30 minutes | Cooking time: 45 minutes


    Six to eight


    • 200g unsalted butter
    • 150g caster sugar
    • 4 medium eggs
    • 12 cardamom pods
    • 100g plain flour, sifted
    • 275g ground almonds
    • Zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
    • 1 tbsp rose water
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • A generous pinch of fine sea salt

    For the drizzle topping:

    • 2 tbsp caster sugar
    • Juice of ½ lemon
    • ½ tbsp rose water

    For the icing:

    • 150g icing sugar
    • Juice of ¾ lemon
    • 2 tsp cold water

    To decorate:

    • 2 tsp sliced pistachios
    • 2 tsp dried rose petals (optional)


    1. Pre-heat the oven to 160C/140C fan/Gas 3. Grease a 22cm cake tin (one with a removable base) and line it with baking parchment.
    2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. When the mixture is thoroughly combined, beat in the eggs.
    3. Place the cardamom pods in a mortar and work with a pestle to get the seeds out of the pods. Discard the pods and grind the seeds to a fine powder. Add them to the cake mixture, along with the flour, ground almonds, lemon zest and juice, rose water, baking powder and salt. Mix well.
    4. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. To check if it is ready, stick a fork in the middle of the cake – it should come out dry.
    5. Towards the end of the cooking time, make your drizzle topping. Place the caster sugar, lemon juice and rose water in a small pan over a low heat and heat until the sugar melts.
    6. Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a wire rack. Poke holes all over the top of the warm cake and drizzle over the syrup.
    7. When the cake is completely cool, make the icing by combining the icing sugar, lemon juice and a few teaspoons of water until you have a smooth, thick icing. Spoon the icing over the cake and finish with a sprinkling of sliced pistachios and, if you like, rose petals.
  • Methi anda and parsi chow chow

    Eggs all over…..

    1. Masaledar Methi Anda ( fenugreek eggs)
    2. Parsi Egg Chow Chow
    3. Radish leaf with yellow lentil ( moong mooli)

    Yesterday i happily harvested our radish leaves ( well, truth is that the baby radish were rather premature and disappointing while the mooli leaves had taken over the entire pot!!!). Anyway, thanks to advice from another forum, i decided to make mooli moong dal.

    But the expression on mum’s face said it all and out came the eggs and the meat!!!!

    Methi anda is basically egg curry with lots of kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) in yoghurt and tomato gravy.

    Egg chow chow is a non spicy Parsi dish. Small crispy cubes of boiled potatoes in mild tomato gravy with chopped boiled eggs, topped with chaat masala or lemon juice.

  • Chicken katsu curry

    Katsu curry –
    Katsu curry is basically sweetish Japanese curry ( 1tsp curry powder+1tsp mild garam masala + pinch of pepper) mixed with flour and coconut milk.
    Easy to make and tastes heavenly.

    Recipe –
    Breaded chicken ( use readymade ones. I made my own but the coating was not as firm as readymade)
    Onions Finely chopped
    Carrots ( slices or batons)
    Vegetables if needed
    Flour 1tsp
    Cornflour 1tsp
    Coconut milk 1 can
    2tbsp Honey or maple syrup

    Heat oven and place breaded chicken in it.
    Heat oil, add Finely chopped onions and carrots and stir till onions are soft.

    Add 1tsp curry powder, 1tsp turmeric, 1tsp plain flour, stir lightly till a roux like consistency is formed.

    Add coconut milk.

    Add 1tsp cornflour, boil

    2 tbsp honey or maple syrup.

    Finally squeeze half a lemon and stir.
    Serve over the chicken with picked cucumber.

    Recipe for Japanese pickled cucumber
    Thinly sliced cucumber
    Rice wine vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, Finely chopped spring onions, chilli flakes, roasted black sesame seeds. Mix together with cucumber or radish thin slices.

  • Chettinad pepper fry

    Chettinad Chicken pepper fry –
    This is one of my fav dry chicken recipes, cooks in a jiffy. Love the flavour of pepper. Goes very well with chilled beer, espc on this weather!!!!

    Marinade chicken with turmeric pd, salt.
    Dry roast and grind handful of coriander seeds and  peppercorns each, 1tsp cumin seeds, 2 red chillies.
    Fry gree  chillies (Optional), sliced onions (2) and ginger.
    Add 2tbsp coriander-pepper powder
    Fry till well mixed
    Add chicken and keep stirring till soft and succulent.

  • Puranpoli, the marathi feast

    Following mouth watering discussions on our FB forum, a good friend Geeta Kamat finally revealed the deep dark secrets to the perfect puran poli. Bear in mind that she is one of the most perfectest of perfect cooks ever, making even the humble potato stir fry look like a Robuchan’s Pommes Puree on his degustation menu!!!! Thanks Geeta for that and the photos😍

    RECIPE –
    1 cup chana daal+3 cups water

    Pressure cook chana daal. Once cooked drain the stock and put it aside for making Kataachi Aamti.

    For making the filling use the over cooked chana daal & keep stirring in a pan to remove any moisture left then+ jaggery + cardamom powder + saffron/nutmeg for flavouring and keep stirring until it all gathers up in the pan. This is the filling.

    Kataachi Aamti –

    1 tsp cumin seeds, 5-6 red chillies, 4-5 pepper corns, 4-5 cloves, 1 tsp coriander seeds, 1/4 inch cinnamon. Roast all in a tspn of oil. After cooling grind + 1/2 cup fresh coconut and grind to a fine consistency.
    Next in a pan for tadka – oil+ mustard seeds+ curry leaves+ hing + ground masala + daal stock + a small tspn of rice flour if its watery & bring to boil. Add a small ball of jaggery or puran + salt.

  • Moqueca–prawn and fish stew

    Moqueca De Piexe (simple translation : fish/prawn stew)
    Orange cake (simple translation : cake with chopped dried orange bits and juice)

    Peeled prawns, white fish & peppers cooked in homemade creamy coconut, fresh tomato & lime sauce with a coconut farofa to sprinkle.

    Pre-birthday planning was on the cards but this perennially starved family was going crazy for their favourite restaurant foods, be it Nandos, Sushi or Chennai Dosa….. It is just not the same when you order a takeaway. So came across the Las Iguanas menu (while drooling over pics on their website) and decided to make some of their recipes…

    This is simple, easy to make. Sounds exotic but you will have all the ingredients in your pantry. It is not packed with punch as most Indian or Thai curries are…. It is rather mild with subtle sublime flavours. You will definitely not be a garlic machine but the end of it…. 😜

    Ingredients –

    White fish, cut into big cubes
    2 onions, Finely chopped
    5-6 cloves garlic, Finely chopped
    2 green pepper, in chunks
    4 tomatoes, in chunks
    1 tin good quality coconut milk
    1tsp each of paprika, cumin powder, jalapeños chopped
    Coriander leaves and toasted coconut to garnish

    Recipe –

    Heat oil, fry onions and garlic.
    Add dessicated coconut and sweet peppers
    Saute for 5 mins.

    Add chopped tomatoes and stir for 5 mins.

    Add paprika, Cumin pd, jalapeños, salt and stir well.

    Add coconut milk and let it simmer for 5-7 mins.

    Place white fish gently till it is completely submerged. Cook for 5 mins.

    Add cooked prawns and coriander leaves at the end.

    Sprinkle toasted coconut before serving.

    Serve with lime rice.

  • Pineapple rasam and vaangi bhaaji

    Aai’s vange chi bhajee ( or something close to it )- roast and grind dhania seeds 3tbsp, jeera 1tbsp, groundnut pd 1tbsp, sesame seeds 1tbsp, kaju 1tbsp, coconut 1tbsp, red chillies.

    Mix well with finely chopped onions,coriander, salt sugar, haldi, chilli pd, garam masala or good masala. Stuff this powder into slit brinjals. Heat generous amount of oil, add hing, mustard seeds and the usual tadka stuff. release the stuffed brinjals into the oil, stir till it changes colour, then cover and cook till done. Keep adding water if it thickens.

    Pineapple rasam- cook our daal , thin it to a desired consistency with water, add pineapple chunks, tomatoes, curry leaves, haldi, crushed black pepper, rasam powder. Boil till done. Add tadka at the end with red chillies and hing.

  • Quick bisi bele bhaath

    Best soul satisfying mid week dinner ( 10mins )

    Mark Twain- name the greatest inventor of all time: Accident!!!

    Left over dal
    Left over rice
    Cooked veg optional
    Bisi bele bhaat powder
    Tamarind pulp
    Handful of roast cashews and groundnuts

    Method- mix dal and rice well (with your hands if possible),  add a big dollop of ghee, a glug of  tamarind pulp , a handful curry leaves, jaggery,  masala pd as required and water to make it the consistency of porridge. Heat till it starts sticking to the pan. Add ghee tadka And serve hot!!!!

    Story of how it evolved-

    And so it was….. maybe the south Indians in the group may know this but I stumbled upon this wonderful quick soul satisfying, finger licking,  mid week bowl of sinful delight purely by accident!!!
    Tired and weary after work,  with thoughts of a take away in mind,  I entered home yesterday  and immediately saw 2 bowls of leftover dal and cooked rice,  kept on the table by a disapproving dad  . Trying to please dads  is every girl’s motto in life and so I decided to  heat and eat it myself with a bit of chilli powder added just for the kick. 
    Unknowingly,  instead I added a huge spoon of bisi belle bhaath powder and viola,  it was just amazing!!! Even hubby kept having extra helpings again and again!!!!
    It has even found it’s way into our lunch boxes  

    Try it and you will definitely be very very happy!!!

  • Tortilla soup

    Jhatpat mexican tortilla soup-

    A super easy, weekday meal to keep your calories and increasing waist line in control ( Aditi Gupte boss, aapka hukm sar aankhon par)

    Heat oil, add garlic and chopped red onion , saute
    Chopped winter vegetables ( I added sweet potato, butternut squash, parsnip) go in next.
    Can of marrowfat peas or any soft beans ( being a weekday, cans are favored)
    Fajita seasoning ( since there was no fajita seasoning at home , how typical, i used a can of fajita beans which was lying unloved in a dark corner ) like they say, every can has his day!!
    Add chopped tomatoes or puree, a dollop of ketchup ( masala chili tastes divine)
    After boiling, leave it to simmer ( The more it simmers, the yummier it is)
    Add a handful of tortilla chips and grated cheese just before serving.

  • Banana cake

    Rule of 2 & 1/2 : Quickie banana cake
    Always hated the idea of measuring while making anything! Not one to stick to rule when it comes to cooking. So this is an absolute delight in weekend mornings…
    I call it the rule of 2&1/2 cake
    2 bananas
    2 eggs
    1/2 cup butter
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 cup self raising flour
    1/2 tsp baking pd
    Blend together the first four ingredients and fold in the flour. Bake at 160 degree for 30 mins…. Viola!!!

  • Karela, will eat, won’t eat?

    Supriya Dharmadhikari ‘s karela fry-

    I have always disliked bitter gourd with a passion!!! Reminded me of childhood tantrums and fights with mum for hours! However this is ‘the’ karela dish that even a total anti-karela person has fallen in love with!
    Karela cut, scoop insides and boil with some imli till just soft.
    Take out, sqeeze water out and keep aside.

    Besan- Dry roast well.
    Add garam masala, goda masala, hing, haldi, mirchi, til, ground nut pd, sugar, salt.

    Stuff the masala in the karela.

    Heat generous amount of oil in a pan and stir fry the stuffed karela.

    Garnish with chopped coriander.

  • Dhaba chicken

    So, to continue inundating cooks forum with food made when you have nothing else to do 😂😂😂, here is an easy peasy DHABA STYLE Chicken made by Shreeram Deshpande

    Recipe –
    Oil heated 3 Tbsp,
    Chicken 1 kg stir fry till it starts changing colour,
    Ginger paste 1 Tbsp and Garlic paste 1 Tbsp, Stir fry to lose the raw flavour
    2 large chopped tomatoes, cook till soft,
    Add spices (1 Tsp) Turmeric, Chilli powder, Coriander powder, Cumin powder, cook on medium flame
    Add 1/2 cup water cover and cook for 15 mins,
    add Salt, garam masala, Salt to taste and all the chopped Veg (Chunky Onions x 2, Large Red Pepper, 4 green Chillies, Strips of Raw Mango, Julienne Ginger), continue on low flame for 10 mins.
    If chicken needs more time to cook add 1/4 cup water, cover and cook if needed.

    Garnish with fresh Coriander and serve.

  • Mango mishti dohi….

    Mango mishthi dohi ( adapted from Kalpa Sundar recipe )
    The first time I had this piece of heaven, I was hooked! And anything goes with mango, so mango mishthi dohi it was!
    Very easy recipe, done in less than10 mins..
    Greek yoghurt -one pot
    Condensed milk-1 tin
    Mango pulp-same as condensed milk
    Elaichi pd pinch

    Mix all ingredients.
    Steam in a steamer or pressure cooker ( don’t forget to cover with lid)
    Steam for around 30 mins.

    Variation- crush ginger nut biscuits and mix with butter. Use as base for mango cheesecake ( for those who don’t like the taste of cream cheese)

    PS- apologies for the image…. The dish was already dug into by the time I got the camera out 😂😂

  • Home made carbonara….. Really!!!!

    Carbonara sauce- home made (you need only eggs and cheese)!

    How many of you buy your pasta sauce?
    Honest confession – have always bought pasta sauce rather than make it fresh…. Eeks, I how I don’t get kicked out of this group!

    Yesterday, Varun taught me how to make easy sauce at home with just eggs and cheese.

    Fry pancetta and keep aside.

    Boil tagliatelle , reserve a ladle of pasta water.

    Add oil to it, add whisked eggs (2eggs and 2 yolks) and a generous fistful of cheese ( usually parmesan, I added gruyere as we had run out of parmesan, typical!!), salt, pepper.

    Whisk it into the hot tagliatelle , turning well all the time till you get a creamy consistency. Add cream to get the right form, if needed.

    You will never go back to the store sauce ever.

  • Crispy chicken and Captain Ri….

    Spicy garlic chicken – Korean fried chicken
    Korean is the new kid on the block for me, ever since Captain Ri took my heart away 😍😍 ( well, if you have not watched Crashlanding on Netflix, your reading this is not worth it!!! ♥️♥️).
    Anyway, started looking up Korean delicacies and this is similar to what we have always made. The only difference is double frying chicken with a generous amount of coating, either cornflour or piripiri coating. The result is succulent, crispy, super moist chicken coated in the most delicious lip smacking sauce!
    Easy to make.
    Just heat oil
    Add lots of garlic, red chillies, soy sauce, siracha sauce, a tbsp vinegar, mustard, honey to fried chicken….. Viola

  • Sundays and lamb curry

    Lamb curry

    While growing up in Nagpur, Sundays used to be special, very special. Meat used to be a once a week treat hence Sundays were special indeed as it was the day when mum would get lamb from the local butcher and make the most delicious lamb curry and dad would painstakingly remove the marrow from the bones just for me (someone told him that it would make my mind sharp!). All this would be devoured instantly with steaming hot rice, followed by a long siesta below a loud roaring fan, with no care in the world. The lamb doesn’t taste like that anymore but the curry that mum makes still does.

    Sharing the centuries old family recipe which I realised has nothing to do with the ingredients or amounts added. It is what it is because of the love and passion with which it has been cooked and fed for generations….. Although it seems distant, but hoping that my kids will carry on the tradition.

    Recipe –
    Oil – half a cup
    Lamb – 1kg
    Onions – 4 Finely chopped
    Ginger – a thumb size chunk cut in small slices
    Garlic – an entire bulb
    Tomatoes – 4 chopped
    Whole spices – cinnamon 1, green cardamon 4, black cardamon 2, bay leaf, cloves 3, peppercorns 10, 2 star anise, red chilli dry 4

    Powdered spices –
    2 tsp chilli powder
    3 tbsp coriander powder
    1tsp garam masala powder

    1tbsp dry fenugreek leaves

    Lime and coriander leaves

    Heat oil in a thick pan
    Add whole spices and stir for 1 minute
    Add onion, ginger and stir till it becomes brown in colour
    Add chilli powder, Coriander powder, garam masala powder and stir till it is well mixed.
    Add washed lamb pieces and stir on high flame till it changes colour.
    Add tomato and garlic bulb
    Add a cup of water, salt to taste.
    Cover and cook till done.

    Add roasted dry fenugreek leaves at the end with a nice squeeze of fresh lime.

    Garnish with coriander leaves.
    Serve with steaming hot rice and yoghurt raita

  • Maa and Masala dosa

    Many people have eaten in this kitchen and gone on to live normal healthy lives – thus issued a plaque gifted by a dear friend to mum. And how true it was….. The lockdown has seen a plethora of talented wannabe cooks and a deluge of recipes, and that includes me (totally unashamed and unabashed of my FB cooking exploits 🤗🤗).
    But I have always wondered, time and again, frustrated and irked as to what was it that made my mum’s food so special?! So special that guests would glide past my elegantly served hors d’oeuvre to gorge on her carelessly tossed chilli chicken or fish fry. The guide to magical (or let’s say mumsical ) cooking however is not in the recipe or ingredients or exact measurements. It lies in practice and love, making it again and again and again, unlike fair weather/quarantined fausse cuisiniere like me 😝 and with the smile which beckons one and all. The irresistible combination.
    So here is one of mum’s regular offerings which seals one’s place in her heart, the unassuming masala dosa!!

  • Salted Caramel Brownies
    Nigella Lawson, once purred these famous words -Salted caramel is the Class A drug of the confectionary world! How true, ah how true! One lick of the spoon and you are transported to a heady world of sheer bliss and pleasure. Like a stalker’s obsession, you want more and more but are more likely to swing between the yo-yo of self denial and graceful glorious acceptance. I, for once, would want to wallow in it, not just experience it, but wallow in the sheer gorgeousness of the smooth golden molten and utterly indescribably beguiling liquid flowing down my throat and straight to my heart…..ah, well, to the coronaries as well but who cares…..a year less than 90 with caramel is acceptable, isn’t it!!! Anyway, enough of salivating and drooling, lets get down to the facts…. mix together chocolate, butter, sugar, etc etc or just get a cheap help ( aka kids bribed with pocket money or emotional stale Bollywood maa dialogues!) and viola, welcome to sugar heaven….. Rhea made these as there is no way I can follow recipes with measurements…..http://www.foodnetwork.co.uk/recipes/salted-caramel-brownies.html?utm_source=foodnetwork.com&utm_medium=domestic Warning – post lunch, post shower, post exercise ingestion on a sunny day can lead to prolonged periods of inactivity.
  • New year 2020 park run
    E very park run has a story, in fact, every run has a story. For years, I used to dread saturdays, dragging myself groggy and puffy eyed , a bag of nerves, shifting uneasy glances at the lithe fluidity with which runners passed me by, feeling like a turtle stampeding through peanut butter! 4 years down the line, and here I am, dragging others to the start line, feeling the perverse pleasure of lifting someone from their warm bed into the chilly cold park run !! For years I have wondered why people flock together to do the park run. its only a 5k, some would say, its too crowded, its too early, we feel we are very slow….. but what they realise only after attending a few is that the only person you compete with is yourself. You instantly become part of a running family and start adoring your fellow runners. Today I ran with so many inspirational folks… Today I ran with Priyanka, who sorted her babies before rushing to the run. Today I ran with Aditi, who came all the way from Harborne, just because she had given me her word that we would start the new year run together. Today I ran with my running club buddies including my crazy Ann Spencer, who has become part of me in the last few years and continues to inspire me with her antics. Today I ran with Vijay and Viji, the first runner amongst us and who (in the words of Prashant) ran even before running became fashionable! Today I ran with Subhash , who instilled the discipline of running in me. But most of all, today I ran with Ram, something I never imagined would happen and boy, I am so so glad it did. Now we can talk about household chores and finances even while running 😛😛😛 In essence, you don’t need to run for speed or accolades. A mile whether done in 4 minutes or 14 needs the same effort from different groups. What counts is that you were at the start line….. there is always time to be at the start line. You just need to start ….. 2020 is that year
  • Cheesecake
    Cheesecake is a slice of heaven. There is a common sight when someone puts a spoon of cheesecake in their mouth. They close their eyes, lips curl into smile , a halo surrounds them and all you hear is mmmmmm…..tell me thats not right :)))) I have longed to make a baked cheesecake but being a stickler for NOT following rules and measurements, I had always avoided the painstakingly long process till I was forced to, purely in an effort to defeat the forces that were trying to make it not happen…..the first effort failed as the entire waterbath toppled in the oven ( well, i cleaned the oven instead). I tried again and conveniently forgot the time and ended up with charred cheesecake ( not recomended) 🙂 , so finally, it dawned that fate was fighting against my efforts and decided to do it once more. Yet again, I marched to the shops, got the ingredients and hey presto, it worked. Never been so happy with any of my desserts…..Its fresh, soft and delicious. Try it and you will not make anything else again. IMG_5237
    Crust Ingredients: 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/3 cup melted margarine Filling Ingredients: 900 gm ( 3 tubs ). cream cheese 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar ½ cup sour cream 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 5 eggs Topping Ingredients: ½ cup sour cream 2 teaspoons granulated sugar Canned whipped cream (optional) Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place a large pan or oven-safe skillet (that the cheesecake pan will fit inside) filled with about ½-inch of water into the oven while it preheats. This will be your water bath. 2. Combine 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon into a medium bowl. Mix in 1/3 cup melted margarine. Press the crumb into a 9-inch spring form pan that has been lined on the bottom and side with parchment paper. Use the bottom of a drinking glass to press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan and about 2/3 the way up the side. Wrap a large piece of foil around the bottom of the pan to keep the cheesecake dry when placed in the water bath in the oven. Put the crust in your freezer until the filling is done. 3. Use an electric mixer to combine the cream cheese with sugar, sour cream, and vanilla. Blend mixture for a couple of minutes or until the ingredients are smooth and creamy. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl and then add them to the cream cheese mixture. Blend the mixture just enough to integrate the eggs. 4. Remove the crust from the freezer and pour the filling into it. 5. Carefully place the cheesecake into the preheated water bath. Bake for 12 minutes at 475 degrees, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the top of the cheesecake turns a light brown or tan color. Remove the cheesecake from the oven to cool. 6. When the cheesecake has cooled, combine ½ cup sour cream and 2 teaspoons sugar. Spread the sweetened sour cream over the entire top surface of the cheesecake. Cover and chill the cheesecake in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. To serve, slice the cheesecake into 12 equal portions. Apply a pile of canned whipped cream to the top of each slice and serve. Makes 12 servings. nigella for the base 150 grams digestive biscuits 75 grams unsalted butter (melted or very soft) 600 grams cream cheese 150 grams caster sugar 3 large eggs 3 large egg yolks 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice for the topping 145 ml sour cream 1 tablespoon caster sugar ½ teaspoon vanilla extract CAKE Method Process the biscuits until they are like crumbs, then add the butter and pulse again. Line the bottom of a 20cm / 8 inch springform tin, pressing the biscuits in with your hands or the back of a spoon. Put the tin in the fridge to set, and preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4/350ºF. Beat the cream cheese gently until it’s smooth, then add the sugar. Beat in the eggs and egg yolks, then finally the vanilla and lemon juice. Put the kettle on. Line the outside of the chilled tin with strong foil so that it covers the bottom and sides in one large piece, and then do the same again and put it into a roasting dish. This will protect the cheesecake from the water as it is cooked in its water bath. Pour the cream-cheese filling into the chilled biscuit base, and then pour hot water from the recently boiled kettle into the roasting tin around the cheesecake. It should come about halfway up; don’t overfill as it will be difficult to lift up the tin. Put it into the oven and cook for 50 minutes. It should feel set, but not rigidly so: you just need to feel confident that when you pour the sour cream over, it will sit on the surface and not sink in. Whisk together the sour cream, sugar and vanilla for the topping and pour over the cheesecake. Put it back in the oven for a further 10 minutes. Take the roasting tin out of the oven, then gingerly remove the Springform, unwrap it and stand it on a rack to cool. When it’s cooled down completely, put it in the fridge, removing it 20 minutes before eating to take the chill off. Unmould and when you cut into it, plunge a knife in hot water first.
  • Ski 2019- to ski or not to ski
    Skiing holidays- the chance to spend a week escaping the relentless wheel of mundane existence by transforming into this super cool girl exuding positive vibes, zipping past upturned skis, long golden tresses flying impressively in the air…… nahhh, what am I talking about!!! In my case, even after many ski vacations, it is still construed as throwing myself down the side of a mountain over and over again, with bruises on the rearside the size of apples and pears and of course, totally bashed egos 😂😂😂 Dressed up like a puffy penguin, I still dream of a day when I would stand next to the svelte leggy Russian blondes (sans their bald, paunchy owners!) resplendent in shiny onesies and fur hats. No ugly black helmets for them, oh noooo….. 🙄🙄 The ski lifts, espc the button lifts, still scare me and so do the train of ducklings that glide past emerging into swans at the end of the week while I still pizza my way down, butt high up in the air, elbows and ski poles outstretched, ready to spear the unsuspecting snowboarder behind me !! But skiing holidays are not all that bad……. it amounts to hundreds of funny stories that my kids narrate year after year, of mum being the perennial tumbling clown on the slopes, long nights of wine and cheese, waking up to snow covered roofs with white smoke billowing out of chimneys and to the smell of fresh baguettes. Take me to the slopes again……
  • The romance of kappa meen curry
    Of the many things that can get a malayalee dewy eyed, puyungiya kappa with meen curry ( boiled tapioca and fish curry) comes in the top 5 ! My association with kappa ( tapioca) dates back to childhood when jute bags filled with this root accompanied us back after summer holidays in Kerala and proudly occupied a place of pride in the corner of our kitchen in Nagpur. I never liked it then but as years passed, these became part of those precious treasures that I wanted desperately preserve desperately as part of my identity. Kappa meen curry is served everywhere in Kerala, from ancestral homes to toddy shops and is eaten with gusto by rich and poor alike. We get frozen tapioca in the local supermarket and they are equally good. Recipe- Frozen tapioca ( from Asian shop) Place in a pressure cooker with 1/2 tsp haldi and salt to taste. Cook till very soft . Grind coconut 1/2 , jeera 1/2 tsp, lasun 3, haldi pd, chilly pd to a silky smooth paste. Add to the cooked tapioca and mash well. Fish curry Grind to a smooth paste- coconut 1/2, roasted dhania seeds 4tbsp, haldi, mirchi pd. Cut raw mango and fish pieces. Mix all together and cook on low flame with water. Add curry leaves, slit green chillies, salt to taste. Serve hot or cold
  • Amsterdam marathon- 2 weeks to go
    Groaaan , I can’t do it today because my Garmin is dead…. and Strava too 😋 And so it started with 101 reasons to actually not do the long run , including its too early, too wet, too cold, too little time, Romeo needs me, etc etc. I snuggled deeper into my duvet only to be unceremoniously kicked out by hubby who by now knew very well the consequences of my missing this long run! Miles 1-3 : Dreams, dreams, big dreams…. First 3 miles were pretty uneventful and steady. My brain was on overdrive.. I was the queen runner and everyone was admiring my long strides, while in reality, I was still the curvy aunty next door trudging along, avoiding the sympathetic glances thrown by amused passer-bys. I realised that my head was actually so stuffed with my plans that by mile 5, I was getting tired of it. Mile 3-6 : Excuses – the hallmark of a wannabe runner So the excuses manual came out and before I knew it, I had run 3 more miles conjuring up more excuses than a teen would come up with to avoid cleaning her room! The best so far was the thought of going back home for a trip to the loo even though i didn’t feel like it. Maternal instinct kicks in big time and so does the good wife manual. But i had to keep running….. Mile 6-9 This was my favourite part, the therapeutic part!. Here, even my traditional, conservative south Indian upbringing failed to hold back the slew of choicest swear words in Hindi and sometimes English, but mainly Hindi! In fact, this sport actually opened the doors of my repressed memory as far as swearing was concerned. Thode ch, bh, su, ha jaise shudh vyakhyaay muh se girte hi dil ko itni thandak pahunchti hai, kya batayein…..😎😎 Mile 9-12 – The mirage Now satisfied, the sounds in my head started fading away and the running continued. Soon, by mile 13, the sounds disappeared and I was surrounded by an eiree calm. I was floating away, no idea where and when. Mile 13-16 When are we getting there……. After that started the downhill. Not that I was tired but was bored. The rain and cold didn’t help either. Suddenly I spotted Romeo bounding towards me, his wonky , lopsided tongue flying in the air….. Ram’s appearance gave me a few minutes of peace and company for a mile. My mind wavered again with the thought of returning home with a rather drenched, dirty and smelly dog but I kept running. I was bored. I missed my running partner, I wished I had company. A trio running rather slowly in front of me now seemed like sprinters. I was slowing down… Mile 16-20 – The dementors My hair was wet, back sore , nipples chafed and legs hurting. The last 4 miles were painful but somehow i had to move on. The image of a nice warm car played havoc in my brain . I realised i was smiling, though it looked like a grimace, at anyone carrying a phone. The final mile home was the longest and I had to conjure up all the happy memories to slay that last dementor. I was dragging myself up the driveway of a white washed house, the landing strewn with shoes of various shapes and sizes, the appetizing smell of food wafting through the chimney, the muffled sound of a dog in the distance. The door opened and Dad smiled……. i was actually home and this time it was for real. A sign in the form of a card was waiting for me, as if someone was watching over me, my guardian angel, the third bird of my tattoo, Seema….. it was a sign indeed. The sounds in my mind loud again , asking why, why, why do I do it…….. and I smiled and asked why not 🙂
  • Sa Calobra Ride
    Sa colabra is a beast, a sinously laid out serpent, gliding its way lazily to the top and gracefully flowing back down to the sea. Built in 1932 by Antonio Paretti, it is stark and beautiful and a favourite among cyclists. Though not as challenging as the Italian dolomites or French Alp D’huez, it has its own 28 hair pin bends and spine tingling descent which make it a must-do on a trip to Majorca. img_20180626_0627181487611024716111627.jpg We started the climb early morning at 8am to avoid the traffic and parked the car at the base. The first part of the climb is fairly pleasant at around 6% incline and having gained a few minutes head start ( whining always helps!) I was happily chugging along listening to each and every chatter of Mother Nature.Warming up, the roads started bending more frequently and views started changing, each more spectacular than the next. The familiar sight of my men soothed the slight ache in my shoulders and I relaxed. 20180626_1018064970680355487983331.jpg For some time, my fears and attention was diverted by the stunning pine forests to the narrow steep gorges to the barren rock outcrops with their bizarre formations but after a few kilometers of solitude, I longed for the sight of the summit, eyes hunting up towards the distance for the first clue, following the road perimeters as much as it could see. img_20180626_0701482841929265788524118.jpg A narrow pass loomed ahead and my insecurities were dashed by another cyclist who disappeared through it with utmost grace and familiarity! IMG_20180626_103938 A few more bends later, the inclines started becoming steeper. I could see the father-son duo in the distance bridging the gap between us. 20180626_1014128871862722433142481.jpg The inclines peaked at the end to well over 10% and i could feel the familiar jelly like sensation in my calves and fire burning in my things. I dug my cleats in and after grinding through the final incline,  I was at the top of coll des Reiss at 682m which is cut through the rock , framing grand views of Nus de sa Corbata Sa Calobra (Tie Knot). 20180626_0948041238666216876429606.jpg The customary photos later, we relaxed and took our time to descend and soak in the blissful surroundings. Magical hills rolling into the sea into the distance. Looking down at the landscape, the enormity of the climb humbled us. 20180626_094537549620465743654631.jpg The next couple of hours, driving back, everything had changed drastically. The road, which was empty a couple of hours earlier, was thronging with cars and buses with cyclists dangerously weaving in a out. We hastily beat a retreat. Sa Calobra, we will be back again…..
  • London Marathon 2017: A dream we dared to dream
    IMG_3077 40 years ago, London was just a name in fairy tales and nursery rhymes. 30 years ago, the same London turned into a fantasy place, where I would often escape into, mingling with statuesque regalia. 20 years ago, London was real, in all its glory, flesh and sweat as I toured around for the first time, super excited, wide eyed, taking in all the monuments which I had read and re-read to the minutest detail. I was in London!! 10 years ago, London was in me. Living, working, partying- I was actually living the dream. Breathing the crisp air, swing in my step, and music to my ears at each bend. 1 year ago, I visited London in a new light, something I had never in my wildest dreams imagined possible. fb_img_14928629969804580354717407186087.jpg THE LONDON MARATHON – The Mecca of Marathoners worldwide A new entrant to the world of running, I would listen to all that the runners had to share, hungrily gulping each and every bit of information thrown my way in running clubs, magazines, internet and even random gossip sessions with those who had never run before! Friends from the K&D Running club swore by it. They all unanimously said that London marathon was an event to be experienced. We had to do it!!! Call it naive or foolish, having crossed the finish line of the Paris marathon just 2 weeks ago, we were ready!!  img_20170422_123444~36411872605507586267..jpg So as usual, ready and armed to the teeth with a plethora of information and anticipation, we jetted off to London. The expo was as amazing as expected. The customary fun and photo shoots followed and the rest of the evening was a breeze, pampered by Neha and Gaurav in their swanky Canary Wharf pad.   SUNDAY – THE D-DAY THE LONDON EXPRESSS Sunday morning saw 2 warriors on a mission, flanked by an army of loyal supporters. Hubby pampered me till I had to tell him off and kids were unusually kind. As soon as we reached the station, the enormity of the event struck me, full on. Out in front, was a sea of bobbing heads, runners and supporters, family and friends, lovers and children, a whole big community which had united for a purpose, whether be it to raise funds, to make a difference or just for personal strength.   I spotted Mr Potato Head pushing his way past a group of teenagers, Spiderman, hastily adjusting his chafing bits ( or should I say bobs ) , Stegosaurus trying to re-attach one of his spines while a nun puffed away at an E-cig, one leg resting upon a Pirate! There were others too caught up in their own world. A weather-beaten face who looked as if this was his umpteenth marathon sat eyeing the shoes of a stressed first timer, a kind dad accompanying his nervous daughter and a couple tied at the wrist, obviously very much in love with each other to notice anything around them. Prashant hopped over, as beaming as ever and soon, we were off. img_20170423_0936036705865920483867187.jpg Settling in our pens, we went over the plan again. The first half to be run in a relaxed manner and to stay steady and strong. Luggage deposition area was incredibly smooth and amazing, excellent organisation. The bags were deposited in alphabetical order of our names in open trucks and we stood, soaking in the atmosphere, still in disbelief that we were actually doing the London marathon. The first few steps, through the rough dirt path was crowded but resounded with screams of ‘go for it’, ‘you can do it’ , ‘go go go’…..We were flying. MILES 1-5 : THE HAPPY MILES We ran, happily chatting away on the incredibly crowded dirt path, Subhash stately and elegant and me, the bulky rugby player lookalike dodging the arms and legs coming my way. The 5k mark passed by quickly and I could see the novices stopping at the first sight of the water stations for their drinks, their faces flush with excitement. The couple who were tied at the wrist zoomed past, happily. I smiled at my fellow runners, picked up conversations with random strangers named Zoe and Fiona. All was well. MILES 6-10 : THE CRUISING MILES Mile 6 arrived and like clockwork, Subhash stopped and handed me a gel. I was too excited to have one but decided not to protest for the fear of causing distress to the ‘plan’! We seemed to be cruising along the serpentine lanes of London Docks, weary looking hamlets and non descript streets with their jaded shop facades. The thronging crowds cheered with increasing crescendo at each turn. By the end of mile 10, the first signs of tiredness crept in, the emotional high and excitement of the crowds adding to the claustrophobia. MILES 11-15 THE DEMENTORS By mile 11, I prayed for silence and magically the crowds thinned and their roars sounded distant. I was swaying and moving to the muffled beats of music in the far distance melting away my resolve. I started slowing down, invisible hands pulling me behind! Jolting free grfr the spell, i realised that it was fatigue thatthat making me delirious and so early on , it was not a good sign. It was only mile 13 and Subhash quickly forced another gel into my mouth. Soon enough, the shouts and roars came back again! We were running now along the smooth tarmac of Canary Wharf, our reflections unreal on the glass buildings on both sides of the road. MILES 16-20 ARE WE THERE YET? Fatigue was playing catch with me and I was busy trying to think of reasons to stop, to get a breath of fresh air and to shake Subhash off my trail so that he would go and finish the 26.2 miles on his own. My chimp told me to fake an injury but that was not to be! I longed to see the faces of our cheerleaders so that we would stop for a few selfies, but they seemed to have disappeared into the gallows of London dungeons. I even though of disappearing suddenly into the crowds only to realise that they would probably push me back again. Then I remembered Lisa Walker’s words- ‘when you feel like quitting, look down at your bib and remind yourself of why you are here in the first place! and so I carried on, grudgingly but carried on. My speed kept varying but Subhash kept moving and appeared stronger and stronger as the miles passed by. Ever so often, Ram, Rashmi and Neha with the kids would pop by, shouting and screaming away, giving me the precious gulps of water and fresh air. I clung on to Ram, not wanting to let go of him, wishing that he would whisk me away to the warm snug comfort of home.   Soon we were on Tower Bridge and that moment was what I had been waiting for. I don’t think i can ever forget that point in time when halfway along the bridge, I burst out in tears, emotional and happy. That overwhelming feeling that I had bundled up in my heart, burst its banks and I was crying and smiling at the same time. A camera popped up in the distance and immediately, I wiped my eyes, put on my best smile and sprinted towards it, chest out and strong. I was the only marathoner in the world on that majestic bridge and I was there to prove it. That I can run! And that I did run! That’s the moment when you actually realise that it doesn’t matter if you finish in 2 hours or in 6 hours. you are a marathon runner, you have done the distance, something that the hundreds of thousands of people thronging the streets could not do. You are already the winner! MILES 20-26 EXPECTO PATRONUM These happy thought immediately dispersed into thick air. A big booming voice in my head screamed at me to stop. It seemed to seize my ankles and I shuffled to a stop, bent over in agony, by the side of the road. I buckled to my knees and knew that I had hit THE WALL. The screaming group of onlookers suddenly fell silent. A hand pushed a bottle of water near my face, a toddler reached out with a fistful of jelly beans while a soft voice murmured ‘Smita, you are nearly there, just breathe…’. Tears welling up in my eyes, I turned around , defeatedly to Subhash, calm and composed. He held out his hand and said ‘ lets go, the end is just around the corner’…. Flashbacks of the past came flooding through. I thought of all our training runs, the fights, the little victories, of my kids who were so proud of their mum and of all happy moments sacrificed for training. It was as if I just had to get past the demons that were pulling me back to take charge of my life.. I took a deep breath and charged ahead, the crowd behind us erupting in joy and shouting out our names! img_20170423_1211133593980626600323148.jpg We continued from there, the crowds roaring becoming louder than ever. The sights of London came into view and we bundled past the West Bank and the river Thames when I saw it. The sign that I had been waiting for from the start! 2 miles to go. With renewed energy, we pushed ahead and suddenly in the distance, I heard my name being called out, a familiar voice that I could recognise anywhere and even in my deepest slumber. I thought I was confabulating again when I saw her, the most divine sight, mommy! There she was, a 5 foot formidable powerhouse, eyes ablaze with pride, pushing her way to the front of the crowds. My entire resolve and steel crumbled and I hobbled towards her, sobbing all the way. I just wanted to dissolve into her arms, to be hugged and comforted by her. I didn’t want to cross the finish line, I just wanted my mother….Subhash sensing the trouble ahead, suddenly dragged me back and pushed me forth, muttering ‘lets finish the race first, we are there…… MILES 26-26.2 THE GLORY and VICTORY londonmarathonpic17873049618110216498.jpg Rightly so, ahead was the FINISH banner. The rest of the distance was in slow motion. I was gliding and floating along , in no hurry or concern, towards the finish line. We stepped over the finish line, together and I knew that instant that i would never have had done it without Subhash, yet again. We staggered towards a bench and collapsed in a heap next to a First Aid station, smiling at the blue sky above us, taking stock of the runners sauntering across and the drums int he background. A few moments later, we were handed over our medals by the wonderful volunteers. The genuine smile and joy on their faces made all the difference. A volunteer hugged me and said that she was very proud of me. I believed her. What happened next was a blur, gliding down towards the exit in a trance, feeling the pride in the air, all victorious and emotional. I kept clutching the medal, not believing that it was real…..fearing that i would wake up from this dream. img_20170423_1706473016604997278842250.jpg My dream had come true. I was a marathoner, once again…… I was the lucky few to have had the good fortune to run the London MArathon.
    According to Phillip Schaff, the phrase  ” All roads lead to Rome” is a reference to the Milliarium Aureum – a marble structure speculated to be the base of the milestone  in the Roman Forum, the specific point to which all roads were said to lead. After attempting the Paris Marathon twice and the ‘bucket list’ London Marathon last year , Rome was naturally the next favoured in the quest for more marathon medal glory. Excitedly, we booked our places in the euphoria and invincible post marathon stupor. Training started in ernest and soon Strava and Garmin became my best friends. Each morning started with updating new stats of my ‘fellow’ runners and evenings were a blur discussing strategies for the next week. I flew higher and higher as the days, weeks and months passed, watching my beloved Garmin track my speed as it improved to below two digit figures. Soon, I was comfortable running 10k in less than an hour ( used to take 70 minutes or more a year ago). In a span of 8 months, from an average of 11, I could navigate sub 10 comfortably. But alas, like all things, the higher you go, the harder you fall…..that was so true. 12 weeks to go – Jan 28, 2018 We were on our long run, a 12 mile steady trot, steady pace, easy breathing. Floating amidst the bright blue sky and fluffy candy white clouds, i had no care in the world and absolutely no idea of what was coming the next day. 12 miles – 2:02:40 – 10.13/mile pace. Monday, the next day was the club training run. I knew that I was not prepared for it but greed took over. Within minutes, there was an excruciating pain in my right heel and it was difficult for me to run without wincing every few steps. I was reduced to a miserable hop and my old arch enemy, plantar fasciitis was back with a vengeance. 11-8 weeks to go – 3 weeks of total absence from running was more painful than the physical pain in my foot. When I slowly started, the toughness and tiredness struck , leaving me in tears once again. But I didn’t give up. The next 3 weeks were the most agonizing weeks of my life. Walking was painful and running was out of question. I thought that it would improve in a week, but it didn’t….a week, 2 weeks and in the third week, I ambushed a physio colleague in our car park. He introduced me to John, another physiotherapist, the angel in disguise who tolerated my tantrums and tears. He assured me that running would improve and that i needed patience. Moreover he got insoles for my shoes, and it was as if I had to start learning to walk again, that too on stone hard surface! Slowly I ‘broke’ into those insoles and did a run, gingerly, after 4 weeks! Gone were the days of long runs, here i was just trying to run! Took it gentle and slow, but felt alive!  64 min – 6.2mi – 10.24/mile 8 – 4 weeks to go –  Weeks rolled by and I continued running through the pain, hating it most of the times, sometimes with tears, with fears. But one thing i knew was that running was there to stay….. and so i ran. I limped through ice and snow, through gravel and sand, through howling winds and sleet. My speed slumped further to an all time low but I had faith in John so I carried on. But I did not lose hope. I will not lose hope. Contrary to the usual, I felt stronger and more determined to finish. Asif, my online mentor and angel too, kept encouraging all the time while hubby provided the much needed pampering with ice packs and kind words. 1:42:27 – 9.3 mi – 11.00/mile 3 weeks to go – Our running schedule is up in the air and the 20 mile run was reduced to a 10 mile trial by fire! Nowhere are we close to our marathon plan. A week ago, I told Subhash that the best plan is to finish half marathon distance after which he can carry on to the finish line while I fade away into the Roman ruins.  But this Sunday, week 6 post injury, everything changed. The pain vanished and I bounded like before on the treadmill. I think my plantar fasciitis has turned the corner and Subhash knew that we were back in the race together and stronger. I feel more rejuvenated and now, it is FINISH or BE FINISHED! The fastest run in 6 weeks saw my spirits soar. there was no question of doing up to half distance, it was all the way to Rome, nothing but the FINISH line! 40.34 mins – 4.1mi – 9:43/mile 2 weeks to go – So here I go , totally motivated, my chimp and angel riding high together. I am in no rush but I keep going back to the same question as to why I have continued, despite the pain, tears and setbacks. And I know it is because it has pushed my boundaries to the limits where I have never imagined I could reach. It has made me feel that I can take on tough challenges in life. If I can bear the pain and agony of a marathon, I can do anything that life throws at me. No matter how many times I fall, I know that I will always push ahead because you never give up till you cross the finish line. I am marathoner and I will be one, once again! THE ROAD TO ROME IS DEFINITELY SHINING BRIGHT !  
  • Grilled Peaches…
    Grilled peaches with mascarpone, toasted walnuts and drizzled with honey, on a bed of raspberry coulis 😍 Sounds exotic but is a kid’s recipe indeed. Tasted this a few years ago on a skiing holiday and still vividly remember the play of flavours, ever so exquisitely balanced on my palate. Healthy quick dessert, perfect for a Friday evening !!!👼👼👼 Recipe- Cut peaches into half, take the stone out and place cut side up on a hot grill till it gets slightly charred. Stuff the peach with a scoop of mascarpone cheese. Top it with toasted walnuts. Drizzle with good quality honey. Serve with any coulis ( pureed berries)
  • Pumpkin Vetthukozhumbbu
    Kalpa’s Vetthukozhumbbu There is something very exotic with all our regional names for various dishes we make in India….. one particular name that has fascinated me was the Vetthukozhumbbu ( vettu-kozhumb-bbu ) which is basically a classic Iyer recipe for chilli ( vettal) and tamarind based gravy ( kozhumbu). A regular member of Kalpa Sundar’s kitchen and one of my favourite. Sharing the recipe below, easy, tangy and yummy….
    _Q6A1316 Recipe: Chop pumpkin into chunky pieces. Heat oil. Add mustard seeds, dried red chillies, curry leaves, sesame seeds, chana Dal , hing and methi powder. Add pumpkin pieces and salt. Add tamarind concentrate . Add a spoon of sambaar powder. Add jaggery to taste. Stir well and serve with hot rice or chapati._Q6A1313
  • Dahi Aloo ( potato in yoghurt gravy)
    Imagine cold dark winter evenings, snuggled in a cosy blanket, watching your favourite soap and a steaming hot bowl of  comfort food. And by comfort food, there can only be one name at the top, the mighty potato!!! This dish hardly needs anything other than potatoes and yoghurt…easy and quick to make and soul satisfying to say the least! _Q6A1308A simple dish that goes straight to the heart…. RECIPE: Boil and peel potatoes, cut into big chunks. Heat oil, add mustard seeds, hing, sesame seeds, kadi patta optional ( the mallu gene insists on adding kadhi patta everywhere 😂😂)
    Add chilli powder and coriander powder to taste (i usually add a teaspoon full of each) Add potatoes and stir till it becomes golden brown. Add yoghurt, salt sugar. Finally add roasted kasuri methi ( dry fenugreek leaves). Serve with hot phulka or steamed rice. _Q6A1311
  • Dal Makhani
    Ah, for the love of dal makhani !! This name, for me, conjures up vivid images of the royalty of Tuli International, Nagpur in the early 90s. Dal Makhani used to be their signature dish and I always longed for that taste ever since I came to this country. This is, again, a very easy recipe. Yes, I have used readymade dal makhani masala ( shock horror!!!) but if the end result reminds me of my childhood favourite dish, who am I to complain 🙂 _Q6A1326 INGREDIENTS 3/4 cup urad dal ( bengal gram) soaked for 4 hours 1/4 cup rajma ( kidney beans) soaked for 4 hours 1 onion chopped 1 tin chopped tomatoes 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste 2 tbsp dal makhani masala ( readymade or home made- recipe at the end) 2 tbsp butter METHOD Pressure cook the dal and rajma till very very soft. Mash well . Heat oil in a wok, add butter and stir fry the onions till transcluscent. Add tomato puree. Add 2 tbsp of Dal makhani masala and stir well. Add boiling water and bring to a boil. Add salt to taste. Simmer for 30 mins. Add a dash of cream. Garnish with chopped coriander. Serve with hot parathas or steamed rice. DAL MAKHANI POWDER Roast and grind to a fine powder the following ingredients- 1 tsp cumin seeds ( jeera) 3 cloves, 3 green cardamoms, 1 black cardamom ( badi elaichi),1 cinnamon, 1 tsp red chilli powder, 2 pinches nutmeg powder, 1 tsp aamchur, 1 tsp kasuri methi, 1 tsp coriander powder) . Store in a dry tight container.      
  • Chicken in white wine sauce
    European cuisine has been the bane of my life! Ask me about any complicated desi food and I can whiff it up in a jiffy. But the thought of even putting together a sandwich fills me with dread. I accidentally made this popular dish ( only 6 steps) and it tastes even better than what you get in the restaurants. The kids were thrilled and soon, both, the dish and me, acquired cult status in the kitchen 🙂 _Q6A1330 INGREDIENTS : Chicken fillets 2 ( whole or cut into chunks) Mushrooms 2 cups sliced Onion 1 medium size, chopped Chicken stock 3 cups White wine, preferably dry 1 cup Double cream 1 cup Basil – few sprigs finely chopped METHOD : Heat oil in a non stick pan, add chicken fillets and fry till golden brown. Pour the stock over it till it is covered, close lid and allow to cook for 30 mins till done. Heat butter in another pan, saute the onions and mushrooms till soft. Pour the white wine and allow it to bubble vigorously till it reduces to 2/3rd the amount ( it should be thick and syrupy). Add the strained stock from the cooked chicken into this mixture. Add the double cream, boil , season with salt and pepper. Mix the chicken into this sauce and heat it thoroughly till evenly coated. Sprinkle basil leaves before serving._Q6A1335_Q6A1336 Serve with bread or steamed vegetables.  
  • Stuffed Tinda / Indian Squash ( bharle dhemse)
    Some recipes are forever! This particular one was my mum in law’s speciality. Aai used to make this with utmost pride and love, never rushing through it. Being raised in a purely non vegetarian household, I never understood her fascination for vegetables and to top it all, this was as bland and harmless as it could be!!! But once i tasted it, I was addicted. Aai may no longer be with us but she lives in me through the recipes and cooking skills she passed on to me and Deepa tai. We would protest and whinge about it then but now, it’s something I hold dear to my heart. Thanks to Deepa tai, her basic masala recipes are still intact and I hope , some day, kids, you will make this too….. Ingredients : 12-15 pieces of tinda ( Indian squash) cut the top and scoop the inside pulp out . 1 large onion finely chopped Chopped coriander (a lot) 1/2 cup of coarsely ground roasted peanut 1 tbsp of coarsely ground roasted sesame seeds 1 tbsp of roasted dessicated coconut 1 tbsp roasted khus khus (poppy seeds) 1 tsp of red chilli powder 1/2 tsp of haldi 1 tsp of hing 1 tbsp of red masala powder (recipe in blog) Salt Sugar Curry leaves Method Mix all the above ingredients and stuff it in the tinda . In a pan heat 2-3 tbsp of oil, temper it with mustard seeds, hing, add stuffed tinda, and remaining masala. Stir. Add 2 tbsp of curd and one cup water, cover and cook till tender.
  • Butter chicken
    Aditi Gupte’s Butter Chicken recipe: PS: tastes exactly as the restaurant dish! Ingredients: Boneless chicken 1kg Tandoori masala powder 3tbsp Yoghurt 5 tbsp Lemon 1 Onions 3, very finely chopped Ginger garlic paste 3tsp 2 cans chopped tomatoes ( prefer Napolitana tomatoes) Kaju paste 2tbsp Kasuri methi 4tbsp roasted and crushed Kashmiri chilli powder 2tsp Sugar and salt to taste 1. Wash and marinade the chicken pieces in yoghurt, tandoori masala, red chilli pd, lemon juice and salt. Keep aside for few hours. Bake in the oven at 180* till done. 2. Heat oil in a wok , add onions and ginger garlic paste. Heat till the onions turn transparent. 3. Add the tins of chopped tomatoes and keep stirring over low flame till the mixture thickens and becomes doughy in consistency. This is the main part of the recipe ( the make or break point)!! It takes time but is worth the effort. This is what gives the restaurant taste. 3. Add kaju paste and water to attain the desired consistency. Sugar and salt to taste. 4. Add some butter ( after all it’s butter chicken 😇) and a dash of cream. 5. Add the baked chicken pieces. Add roasted and crushed kasuri methi at the end. 6. Viola, and it’s ready to serve.
  • Aai’s garlic chutney
    Some memories forever entrenched in our hearts are our treasures indeed. One of them is early morning golden toast with amul butter topped with aai’s garlic chutney. 4 ingredients, 4 minutes I promise 😍😍 Ingredients and method: 6-8 pods garlic 1 cup grated coconut ( not dessicated) 2-3 tsp Red chilli pd 1 tbsp groundnut powder Grind all together, store in an air tight container.
  • The Italian Giro Files : Day 4
    Day 4 : “It’s not the mountains we conquer but ourselves”, Edmund Hilary . Distance 104 km, Elevation gain 3140 m, Moving time 7.55 min Conquering the Italian Dolomites was the dream we dreamt for the last 8 months…. And the day was here! The ride started as usual with a 5.30am bag drop. There was a eerie stillness in the air during breakfast, as if the riders were about to go to the battle front. And boy, battlefront it definitely was 😊😊. 8 miles into the ride, we came face to face with our first climb, Passo Valles, a 2037 metre climb over 26km …. The route was spectacular, resplendant with gushing waterfalls and pristine emerald green lakes. The company was varied. Caught up with Milind. Reminiscing of memories from our past from 1997, of experiencing the first snowfall together and long walks with the then chubby toddler Varun took us happily through a few miles. Cruising behind the father son duo Ashutosh – Parth / Sunil – Miheer was equally interesting. They kept pace with each other and encouraged each other to go ahead at times. Moments like these are the cementing blocks of any relationship and it felt beautiful. Watching them reminded me that somewhere in front even Ram and Varun were creating history together. The latter half of the climb was with Vijay, one of my ideal cycling partners….. We climbed slowly and steadily to the beats of music, trying to chat intermittently about life in general but knowing that nothing could distract us from the difficulties ahead. Soon we reached Passo Valles and after the customary photos etc, the thrilling and knuckle buckling descent started. My music playlist changed to all the soothing numbers and I was in seventh heaven on the loop of Ae Zindagi gale laga le…. Following lunch break, everything changed and soon the climbs started again. The much awaited hair pin loops went on for 30km and soon I realised that everything that I was holding on to dearly in this journey was slipping away from me. Ram and Varun zoomed past me. Vijay decided to take an extra long break in anticipation of the climb. At the 4th bend, when Parth declared that we had 29 bends in all, Subhash lost it and just charged ahead , disappearing for the rest of the day. My phone battery soon died down and at that point, I suddenly realised that I was on my own….. The feeling was immense, being surrounded by colossal mountains, the light air closing down heavily upon me, silence so loud that it was deafening. Soon, a new sensation set in, I felt totally disconnected from myself and everything that belonged to me. It was as if I was up in the clouds, watching this lone figure struggling her way up the killer climbs. All I felt was the need to just move on and that’s all I did. A cleansed soul, it was pure and devoid of any emotions….. But that didn’t last for long. At turn 17, I decided that enough was enough, my mind suddenly connected itself and chided me for my actions. I was not getting any younger, I was not getting any medals or accolades for this, was I? So why was I going thru this pain…..I tried to flag the support van down but they thought I was waving at them and they waved back merrily and went away. The skies opened up after that and as if laughing at me, soaked me to the bone. I took shelter in a nearby hut but it was only turn 20 and I had 8 more km to go. I was in tears, I just wanted to stop, I just wanted to be somewhere warm, but there was no choice but to carry on. My mind wandered to all those who had left me, to those who were going through either battles in life. My speed was barely recordable and I was stopping after every few metres. At a distance I saw the faint outlines of some of our cyclists and soon enough, Ram and Varun came up. They were such a beautiful sight to see and I immediately announced my decision to stop cycling. Ram cycled for a while with me, and reasoned that if I have done marathons, I should be able to do this easily. That was my wake up call….. Yes, I was a marathoner, and a proud one at that. How could I give up now?! One thing that the marathons have taught me was never to give up, and so with this renewed vigor, I pumped ahead, the end in sight….. Alas, a few minutes into my new pumped up avatar, I heard Ram shouting out to the support team that I wanted a break and a lift!!! I went into a total apoplectic shock, refusing velhmently to get into the support van! I had climbed the steepest and most difficult climb of the Giro d’Italia, not to give up in the last 800 m. A few metres ahead, I could see the happy yellow jersey of Nandu, waiting to push me through the final 500m and I cried out in joy!!! Nandu and me raced to the top, him running and me cycling and soon enough I was reunited with my flock. A blur of green helmet came rushing through and enveloped me into a tight hug, whispering we did it, we did it….. Kalpa!!!! My partner in crime in all these adventures, who savoured each and every breath of the mountain air…. Ram was waiting at the top, super thrilled and excited…..Passo Giau was finally conquered!! 30km of uphill climbing, 2230mt high. “It’s not the mountains we conquer but ourselves”, Edmund Hilary .
  • 2 cars, 3 days, 1200 miles: A road trip of a lifetime through the land of fire and ice!

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    Take a crazy idea, add equally crazy people to it and sometimes it comes to life in the most memorable way possible! 13 girls, all used to the various luxuries in life, decided to take a detour from their usual girlie holiday ( London, Paris, Portugal, Milan) and embarked on an adventurous road trip in none other than Iceland. We started our planning more than 6 months in advance, dates upon dates, chopped and changed, cars booked, hotels pored upon and routes scanned. Nothing was left to chance. The food department was adamant on packing a rice cooker, soup maker, 300 theplas and innumerable condiments, etc ( talk about garlic smell in iceland!) Thanks to the horror shock of paying a few extra quid for luggage, which was not acceptable to the ‘housewife’ mentality in us, we managed to leave without the rice cooker, upma mix and some snacks ( though someone still sneaked some into their bags). We reached Reykjavik and soon were whisked away to our car rental company Green Motion who provided us with a 9 seater and a 5 seater. And so we were off. Followed the plan as was mapped out ( chart below). ICELAND ITINERARY The pictures are proof to the wonderful journey ( details of where we stopped and what we saw including fun photos in another post) 36 hours , 1200 miles went by in a flash and soon it was time to leave this magical kingdom. Secretly chuffed at the prospect of boasting to our men folk about our driving and managing to survive on our own but more than that, carrying with us the memories of a peaceful and stunning adventure. LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL 🙂      
  • Ammu’s Kadala Prathaman            (paayasam )
    Onam and Vishu , two of the festivals that I used to wait for eagerly during childhood, not because of the new clothes or puja but because of this heavenly paayasam. I would excitedly hang around my grand mother in the kitchen, fascinated by the strength in her old, distorted fingers as they squeezed the milk out of the coconut, watch unblinkingly as the cashews would turn golden in the hot ghee and drool in sweet anticipation when she would swirl the beautiful, silky concoction at the end. But what has always, always been the most precious memory for me was when she would feed spoonfuls with her own hands, her eyes twinkling and moist hearing my oohs and aahs….. History now repeats with the same process involving  my mum and my kids. This is a poor version of the elixir of life that i hope will carry on and be saved in our homes….. Ingredients: Chana Dal, 1 small cup cooked  Sabudana ( sago ), 3tbsp , cooked in water till translucent Jaggery 2 cups Coconut , grate and extract milk ( thrice) – or just use a tin of coconut milk, good quality. Coconut slivers, cashew, raisins- fried in ghee Cardamom powder Method: Mix chana dal, sabudana and jaggery on low flame till it is thick in consistency ( like dosa batter ) .  You have to keep stirring all the time so that it does not become lumpy.  Add coconut milk to get the desired consistency and stir for another 5 minutes.  Add slivers of fried golden coconut , cashews and raisins.  Add crushed or powdered cardamom to taste. Serve with a smile 😍😍
  • The Running Diaries- ”you are tomorrow what you believe today…”
    ‘’You are tomorrow what you believe today’’. _q6a9724 I am not a runner; I can’t run for my life; I am not made for running; I have bad knees; I have a family history of arthritis; there is no way I can run; blah blah blah   These are just some of the reasons I encounter when I try to persuade friends to run. And believe me, I have tried each and every excuse in the book and more.  The only reason it changed for me was not the dream of becoming a ‘runner’ ( which I I still don’t think I am) nor was it the faint hope of losing weight ( blame it on the genes, are you reading this, mum!). I started running just to prove to myself that there is nothing one can’t achieve once you put your mind to it. Running was the most difficult thing and I had to prove to myself that I had the grit and determination to capture it. wp-1490788588873.jpg So armed with a plethora of information ( thank you google ), flanked by an ever so loyal running partner and boosted ( read as – kicked out at regular intervals for training) by an ever loving clan, the running games started! I did everything a first timer did, buy hordes of running apparel ( still the saga of matching socks  carries on 🙂  and magazines ( not as expensive as cycling gear, though ),  bought a fancy garmin ( I love it!!) and acted as if my malayalee heritage had raised me on pasta and sphagetti ( carb overload before tapering!)IMG_6513 I soon discovered that I was accompanied by two friends, both in my head, an angel and the chimp, who loved talking to each other about me, loudly and annoyingly all the time. All my planning and execution of runs, whether they were the failed 2 minute runs or the long 20 mile runs were discussed to the minutest detail, the chimp shooting down every plan and the angel encouraging me to rise above it! wp-1490788588868.jpg My RP and I soon joined the Knowle and Dorridge running club ( K&D). Every Wednesday evening, I would set out to run, every Wednesday, in my mind , I would fail. Within a few minutes, I would be nearly lost in the midst of narrow winding roads while my contemporaries would glide ahead. My lungs would fill up with fluid frothing from my mouth, oozing from my nose and out of all sweat pores. I would hop skip and jump from uneven pavement on to the road, only to be honked back to the pavement by an irate driver. I slipped on dry autumn leaves, scratched my elbows along dark walls and grazed my legs along tall brambles and ivy. In fact, I stumbled even when there was nothing to stumble upon! But we persisted and kept going, knowing that someday we will because we can…. wp-1490788589422.jpg In a couple of weeks, I became the queen of excuses. The chimp in me had an instant encyclopaedia of excuses ready to whip out even at the thought of the impending run while my angel would gently prise me away from those negative thoughts. Anything passed for an excuse, and in an instant, maternal instincts took priority. I was suddenly the conscientious mum and home maker, wanting the perfectly ironed towels and socks for my family…..really!!!  The lamest excuse was that Romeo was tired and wanted to go back, as if that can ever happen! However by this time, my angel was getting stronger and more vociferous, slamming the chimp back into place. RP bore the brunt of it all. My chimp made me avoid his calls, my phone would be turned off so that I miss the scheduling messages and one Friday, I even tried to get him into a late night party mode and bribed his wife to keep him in bed for some extra hours in the morning. Alas, nothing worked. 8am sharp, he would be ready, two bananas in hand, knocking on the door and gosh, how I hated him for that! We would start our run, me with a huge scowl on my face, him with his expressionless demeanour. wp-1490788588746.jpgMany a times, I have felt like turning back when he would be charging ahead, many a times I would curse him for ruining my dream of a perfectly perfect sun kissed morning sipping tea in the garden ( as if that will ever happen!!) and many a time, I blamed him for making me wish the earth would swallow me up whole when confronted by the fresh, immaculately dressed female fatales we would bump into, on their way to the salon or spa. But we persisted and kept going, knowing that someday we will because we can…. wp-1490788589453.jpg Soon, spring was around the corner. Within a month, things were looking better. I could run to the end of my mile long road without turning beet root red and without shooting the snot bullets that I became an expert at. I mastered the art of breathing and could hear the sound of silence. My chimp was happy to rest and my angel flew in front of me, clearing the clouds ahead. wp-1490788589106.jpg By the end of 3 months, I was no longer the straggler in the running club. I went into a fit of hysteria when Geoff, our running leader, casually said that I had become a strong runner. I would look forward to the club runs and the chimp no longer needed her excuses diary. RP and me were a team, once again and we were on a high. The  anger gave way to respect. Respect for bearing with all my demands, for tolerating my tantrums, for accepting my downfalls and for the support without which we wouldn’t have persisted.wp-1490788589687.jpg We ran fast and furious at times, scaring dogs, toddlers, parents, ducks and whatever came our way. At times, people in mobility scooters zoomed past us but we ran, happily…..we ran in the sun, in the rain and in the snow because we now know that one sentence that holds true: you never feel bad after a run. I no longer scrutinised myself in the mirror, just plain happy with the confidence I saw smiling back at me. I stopped worrying about size zero or party clothes, my mind was busy planning the attire for the next run. A change that was noticeable was the stance which changed, I was walking head held high, looking ahead into the future, just contented to have conquered my worst fears. However, what was even better was the post run ‘reflection’ or truth being the slumped and near dead pose on the sofa with the roller behind my head, where the body refuses to move but the mind is buzzing with activity, dreaming and thinking back about the last few hours, of future runs, heaving pizzas, washboard abs, medals, marathons and more marathons….( what the heck, we can always dream, even if it doesn’t come true, we can at least dream the dream!) Food for thought: persistence is the key, if you can continue for 3 months, you can achieve anything you aim for! Life begins at the end of the comfort zone…….and I love it!  
  • Paris Marathon 2017 , here we come again….
    ​Running bytes 1- Motivation, Discipline, Perseverance #Parismarathon2017 training ‘A marathon is only about 6.2 miles actually, the other 20 miles are just there to reach that point on the day.’ – Sushant Hegde, marathoner

    Saturday  4th February 2017

    Time taken – 2 hours, 39 mins

    Difficulty Level- 5 ( range 1-10)

    Positivity score *****

    It was a 15 mile target day. 9 weeks to go….

    Last night was a Friday night , a typical weekend night with Mexican food and mind blowing wine. And of course, when coupled with Bridget Jones baby on TV, who could get up from the couch….. Slept late and obviously woke up late. Thanks to lack of discipline, I felt like a dough ball in the first half of the run. Slowly and steadily, we picked up pace.

    Reaching 13.1 mile mark was not difficult as it was already in the bank while training last week. The remaining 2 miles did stretch and we had to muster all the inner strength to continue.

    Arguing with my mind has become a routine. Tossing a question sarcastically, my mind taunts me and challenges me while I reply back by running faster, tightening my core and breathing smoothly. It is this ping pong game that makes the last few miles bearable.

    Mind over matter…… That’s all there is to it.

    Sharing some nuggets of wisdom which have eluded me for ages….. Still struggle to stick to it 🤔🤔 1. Just run, just get out and run. Doesn’t matter if you have only 20 minutes or an hour or three hours, just run. 2. No late night excesses- I slept late, pigged out on food and drink last night and didn’t fuel well today, so I suffered in the first half 😂😂 ( bowl of cereal gobbled up in a hurry with brufen just before the run, no no )! 3. Make sure you have company for long runs, either a running partner or great music!! They encourage you and help you go ahead. When the going gets tough, the toughies get you going…. 4. Start slow. You don’t have to do 5k straightaway. Let your heart beats guide you, not the miles…. 5. Just run….
  • ​Varhadi Gola Bhaat 
    I have been fortunate to have had two of the best cooks in the world guide me when I entered this amazing world of culinary  heaven.  On one hand, my mum, a totally and utterly eccentric chef, who could whip up the tastiest of food in an instant for as many people you could think of. But there was never a recipe not any measurement not any reasoning or any  science behind it. Nonetheless I inherited the traits and most of her recipe purely by being there and watching her mesmerised while she threw aromatic spices into sizzling woks of fiery chicken curry, drained with complete abandon perfectly golden discs of pooris and served the most perfect fried fish which would put the most perfect Michelin chef to shame.  There was a method in her madness ( maybe !)  My mum in law, on the other hand, was the most scientific chef ever.  There was a method in her kitchen but no madness. Food didn’t just happen, it was created. An act of discipline and devotion.  She taught me the fine nuances of the art of cooking, why step 1 was important to perfect before step 3, etc. Naturally she made heavenly dishes which we passed on to the next generation.  Gola bhaat was one such item which was a regular favourite during navaratri festival. It is coupled with chinche chi aamti ( sweet sour tamarind soup) . Quick and easy to make.  INGREDIENTS Roasted chana dal, coarsely ground. Rice Tamarind water, jaggery. METHOD  1.Cook rice in a covered sauce pan. Meanwhile roast chana Dal  2.Grind the roasted chana dal coarsely.  3.Add salt, sugar  dhaniya powder, haldi, mirchi and a bit of jeera powder to taste. Make a firm dough with yoghurt.  4.Add 1-2 tbsp of hot oil, mix well. Make firm dumplings with the palm of your hand. 5. Once the rice is half done,  please dumplings on top of the part cooked rice, cover and cook again till the dough balls are well done. 6.Chinche chi aamti ( sweet sour tamarind soup) Heat tamarind water and jaggery in a saucepan, add salt to taste.  Heat  butter / ghee, add tadka of jeera, kadi patta and hing. 7. Serve hot with dried red chillies in oil. Don’t forget to smile 😍😍
  • Deer Workshop
    Some sample pictures of the deer workshop we attended, one summer morning, at Bradgate Park, Leicestershire. Great experience and that too right at our doorstep. It was the rutting season and our tutor Danny Green educated us about the behaviour patterns of these beautiful animals.
  • Aubergine Sabji  
    img_5045   Every  Indian state and family has their own secret recipes which they swear by….. It is known by many names ie vaangi bhajee, vayudennengya masala, kathrikai curry, badanaekai, etc etc. These are all perfect and we have all been witness too many duels between varying factions of the fairer sex as to which recipe is the best. I don’t claim any of those lofty titles, all i know is that this is a variation of my MIL ‘s and mum ‘s recipe and something that has always worked well in our parties. img_5031 Ingredients Coriander seeds 3tbsp Jeera 1tbsp Khus khus 1tbsp Sesame seeds 1tbsp Ground nut 2tbsp Red chillies 4 Dry roast all of the above Fresh coconut 2tbsp Onions 2 Ginger garlic paste 2tsp Cashews 5-10 Salt Haldi Grind the roasted spices  with the above ingredients. Stuff this paste into 10-15 slit aubergines. img_5023 Heat generous amount of oil Add tadka Slide the stuffed aubergines into the oil and gently stir. Add half a cup of water and 2tsp of tamarind paste , sugar and cover. Cook till nearly done. Add curry leaves or Coriander leaves at the end. Serve with hot rotis or rice.
  • Sharmi’s Mango Curry (Menaskai Mango Gojju)
    This is one of the best mango dishes ever. We tasted it for the first time at Sharmila’s place and I was hooked!!! It is an Udipi recipe and goes by the name of Menaskai Mango Gojju. Easy to make and can be stored in the fridge for a few days. This can be made with raw as well as ripe mangoes. Ingredients and Method 1tsp methi seeds 1tsp urad dhal 1 tsp jeera seeds 2/3 red dried chilli Curry leaves Roast the above with 2tsp of oil 2-3 tsp black sesame seeds , dry roast on low heat. Grind all these with 2 tsp of fresh grated coconut. Separately cook raw mango (with skin cut in to pieces ) or pineapple (tinned one) till just firm, add lime size piece of  jaggery , then add the above masala , salt and bring to a boil. Take it off the flame and serve hot or cold. img_5021  
  • Vaatli Dal- of time past, comfort food galore 
    There is a certain nostalgia when it comes to some food. While vada sambar reminds me of our indian coffee house, alu poha is associated with mohan ki tapri and vaatli daal is strongly ingrained with chaitra gauri during gudi padwa ( and the haldi kum kum with it). The freshness and simplicity is amazing and nearly all households have their own version. I have added raw mango here just like aai used to. It can be used as a chutney or sandwich filler too.  Ingredients- Chana dal- soaked in water for few hours, coarsely ground  Raw mango- grated Oil, mustard, hing, haldi, curry leaves Salt, sugar Method- Heat oil, pop mustard seeds, add hing, haldi and curry leaves. Add coarsely ground chana dal, cover and cook till the dal is soft and done. Add grated mango ( fresh coconut optional). Add salt and sugar to taste.
  • Thai Cooking Workshop 2016

    Thai Cooking Workshop 2016

    _q6a9871 Thailand is a place where all your senses come alive…..in all aspects, whether it is the jaw dropping scenery, the people full of mirth and joy or most importantly the lip smackingly delicious food! I have never been a follower of ‘exact’ recipes, so when I witnessed a Thai cooking in action, I realised that this was the one for me….. As my grandma used to say- you can create magic with just your five senses: taste, sight, feel, smell, sound ….. And it stands true in this workshop too. We marveled at the colourful display of the crunchy cucumber cheese rolls, took in the sinful pleasure of the tongue tingling hot and sweet taste of the spicy tom yum soup, the fresh fragrance of lemon grass and kafir lime leaves intermingling with lime, the silken texture of tofu clashing with the roughness of peanuts in the Massaman curry and the peels of laughter and squeals of delight all around the kitchen ….. Who can’t, but fall in love with cooking!! Recipes of the Thai workshop as below: CUCUMBER CHEESE ROLLS NOTE- please let your guests gently know that this is an Amuse-Bouche, and not to be eaten to fill their tummy (mine pounced on it and devoured it in an instant and ordered another bunch straightaway!!) img_6890 INGREDIENTS: 1 cucumber, sliced longitudinally with mandolin slicer 1 pack Philadelphia cream cheese Fine chopped red chillies and water cress for garnish METHOD: Make long strips of the cucumber with the slicer. Add a dollop of cream cheese to one end and roll into a tube. Stand upright on a platter and garnish with red chillies and watercress. WATERMELON WITH CRUMBLED FETA CHEESE, LIME AND BALSALMIC VINEGAR NOTE: this is a crowd pleaser, a visual treat, so please keep several trays prepared. img_6892 Cut watermelon into cubes, arrange on the serving platter. Crumble feta cheese on top. Drizzle lime juice, balsalmic vinegar and mint leaves. the freshness of the mint leaves and tangy lime blends beautifully with the crunchy sweet watermelon….just try it, its magical 🙂 MISHRA’S MAGIC MUSHROOMS  I always disliked mushrooms till Rashmi made this which blew my non existent socks off…..Quick easy and makes you fall in love with mushrooms again!!! img_6741 INGREDIENTS Good quality clean mushrooms, stalks removed 1 pack Boursin garlic cheese Finely chopped garlic, pepper and red chillies Grated cheddar cheese Butter melted Rock salt METHOD Clean mushrooms, remove stalk and fill the cups with cheese. Arrange on a baking tray, drizzle with butter. Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese, garlic, pepper and red chillies. Season to taste. Bake in the oven at 190 degrees till the mushrooms are done. TURKISH FLATBREAD WITH HUMMUS, POMEGRANATE, LIME JUICE Okay, not technically Thai, but had to add it to the menu because of my fascination for this quick dish. Guaranteed to disappear even before the plate lands on the table. INGREDIENTS: Tomato-garlic flatbread Hummus Lemon/lime, pomegranate seeds Nando’s piri piri sauce METHOD: Heat the flat bread in the oven till crispy. Spread hummus generously over it Drizzle with spicy Nando’s sauce….carefull not to drool over it!! Scatter chopped coriander, pomegranate seeds. Sqeeze fresh lime juice over it. TEAR AND SHARE!!! TOM YUM SOUP Guraranteed addiction, you will be making it every week…. INGREDIENTS: 5-6 lemon grass stalks 12 shallots, halved 2-3 galangal 2 cups coriander and basil chopped 20 cherry tomatoes, other chopped vegetables ( mushrooms, baby corn, mange tout, etc) 3 or more lime 10-15 kafir lime leaves Siracha sauce Tom yum paste ( home made below or store bought) METHOD: Crush lemon grass, add sliced galangal, ginger, torn kafir lime leaves, coriander/basil leaves. Cover and boil till you prepare other vegetables, add the others. Add lime juice, siracha sauce and tom yum paste. Serve hot. TOM YUM PASTE: Heat little oil, add finely chopped onions, saute. Add tamarind concentrate, palm sugar, fish sauce / shrimp paste ( if you want- it enhances the flavour and does not smell), sliced red chillies, chilli puree, lots of soy sauce. Heat till the mix thickens and adjust the taste according to your choice. I prefer sweet and spicy, henc emore sugar in mine. CHEAT’S VERSION ( Shhhhh….) : Mix Maggie Tamarind ketchup, sweet chilli ketchup, siraccha sauce, maggi chilli sauce and lots of soy sauce.Place water to boil in a large vessel. MASSAMUN CURRY: Lovely clash of flavours and colours…..mughal inspired dish Remember its all about the paste, peanuts and coconut cream! img_6906 INGREDIENTS Massamum curry paste ( store bought- MAE PLOY) 4 tbsp appx Boiled baby potatoes Mushrooms, baby corn, mange tout, tofu Roasted and crushed peanuts – 1 cup Coconut cream- 2 cans Kafir lime leaves – 8-12 Maggi tamarind sauce- 4 tbsp Cinnamon, star anise, cloves Sliced red chillies METHOD: Heat little oil, add masamun curry paste and stir in with the boiled baby potatoes. Add coconut cream , 1 can and mix well. Add rest of the ingredients including spices and mix well. After 10 mins or when the vegetables are done, add the remaining can of coconut cream, tamarind sauce, peanuts and chopped red chillies. Garnish with coriander , serve hot. PAD THAI NOODLES: Quick, instant noodle dish. Remember the 2,4,6,8 combination for sauce img_6910 INGREDIENTS : Cooked pad thai noodles- flat rice noodles Crushed peanuts Sliced spring onions Bean sprouts Bok choi 2 onions sliced Garlic mince PAD THAI SAUCE: 2,4,6,8 2= lime 4tbsp- sweet chilli sauce 6tbsp – brown sugar 8tbsp = soy sauce Red chillies fine chopped Mix all this with hot water and keep aside. METHOD: Heat oil in a wok Add sliced onions, spring onions, garlic minced, stir Add eggs and stir well, Add the noodles, stir Add the sauce and season to taste Add bean sprouts, bok choi and peanuts and serve instantly….
  • Black and white paris

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    Mural above Place de la Justice , next to the Eiffel Tower
    Fontaine st Michael, 5th Arrondissment
    A random cafe, in the heart of Paris
    The facades of Louvre
    Enter a caption
    Rainy day
    A different perspective
    Ornate poles
    Version 2
    Architecture at its best
    The Royal Palais
    A Bridge
    Early morning Sacre Couer
  • Venice
    You can never have enough of Venice, I realised after my fourth trip to this jewel of an island. This time, I didn’t want to return and rightly so….. People ask me about itineraries in Venice, places to see, places to stay, places to eat and all I can say is that the best itinerary in Venice is not to have one at all! It is to experience the sights and smells of Venice, to melt in the shadows of the crumbling houses, to just be in the moment wherever whenever you are…… img_0883-1 Venice, at first sight, is a labyrinthine mess of alleyways, serpentine canals, moss coloured or jade like waterways and small quaint shops with equally small doorways selling priceless glassworks and crystals along side cheap masks with equal gusto. But soon enough, you realise that there is a structure and a pattern to this mess and your eyes are drawn to the artfully peeling paint of the flats above which merge seamlessly into the canal waters and their ever so smooth reflections of the gondolas gliding past. Of course, it does rest for a fleeting moment or so on the sinewy shoulders of the handsome gondola man in his unique striped jersey and hat, but that is a different story. img_1157-1 Hence, to see Venice in its full glory, we walked away from the hustle and bustle of the heaving and thronging St Mark’s square into the least crowded direction where you can peer into the most intriguing doors, colourful windows. We walked on, narrowly avoiding a football which appeared from thin air, kicked in utmost style by a Messi wannabe, almost instantly followed by a blood curling scream by a big Italian mamma, the boy’s mother, who swore at the boy and apologized to us in equal fervor  before disappearing into the mass of clothes that were hung out to dry from her balcony. Ducking into the nearest cafe, we sipped expresso, chatting happily in our very scant Italian to the locals who were more than gleeful and happy to correct our language. A long long lunch followed at a non descript hole in the wall trattoria with amazing wine as a bonus.
    The moment when time stood still….
    Waiting for the ferry….
    Embarking on a ferry to Burano, I was in seventh heaven. Burano, one of the top places for photography was always on my bucket list and it was due to come alive soon. The village appeared as if some playful kids had splashed different colours, all bold, vivid, stark, over the houses.  Burano was a fishing village and the houses were coloured differently so that businesses were easy to identify for the sailing folks. You can never have enough photos in Burano, that’s for sure. Of course, due to the mishap earlier in Venice, where my camera lens decided to take a tumble in the canal, I was left with no choice but to take pics with my Iphone, but someday I hope to return and hopefully soon. 
    Reflections in Burano
    The been there, done that moment
    Home, yellow home
    Reflections in Burano
    Rays of hope
    A bygone era, still present
    Bold and beautiful
    Random reflections Burano
    Of course, the signature pose
    Old is gold
    New is platinum
    Some priceless  moments
    My treasures….
    LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL…..      
  • I am a Marathoner – Paris Marathon 2016
    Paris Marathon 2016 “Noooo……” That was the sound to which i jumped out of bed. The alarm had gone off at 4am, i had dutifully shut it and went back to the victory march near the arc du triumphe. And then it was 5am. We scooted to the airport and barely managed to catch the flight, huffing and puffing, heaving and sighing, ecstatic to have made it through.       Paris, upon arrival, was abuzz with activity. The expo area filled us with a mix of emotions- dread, apprehension, hope, worry, all mixed in one. We soon collected our bibs, did the customary photo shoot and boy, the atmosphere was electric. I glared, enviously, at the lithe lean bodies of the star runners, resplendent with slick calf contours. The “all too familiar ” flutter returned with a vengeance, this time occupying my tummy and my chest. I glanced around and saw the same expression on Subhash and Viji ‘s face and was perversely relieved to see that we were all in the same boat 🙂    
    My ever so solid support team!!
    The man who made the impossible possible !
            The D Day!!! The hotel room Champeret Elysee, was nice, pretty basic but nice. A relaxed thai meal, a cosy nap and a glass of wine in a cafe in front of the Eiffel tower tower followed. The evening was magical, had all the elements of Paris, sunset enveloping Eiffel tower, lovers kissing in the rain, pushy pedlars selling cheap lighted imitations, etc.   Breakfast  was exciting. There was an unspoken respect, a slight nod of approval at the sight of anyone with a bib. We stepped into the golden ray of the morning sun and everything after that was a haze…..  the magic had started.   Arc du Triumphe, majestic as ever, looked glorious in the rain kissed sun. Runners thronged the  cobbled Avenue Foch and soon, we elbowed our way into anonymity. I spotted a slight clearing by the side and we hustled together. A funny smell kept us distracted and soon we realised that we were standing next to one of the open urinal pots! Seemed a bit sexist though as there were no facilities for women in the pens. And soon enough, the marathon started… Miles 1-5 The first few yards, we just shuffled towards the green arch which was the start point and soon people started dispersing. The road was straight, with a looming giant wheel in front. We passed through the Grand Palace, Concorde and Place de la Bastille . We soon enters the leafy park, Bois de Vincennes which virtually was transformed into an open urinal.  We turned left and spent the next 2 miles flying at a comfortable pace, happy, chatting, laughing, busily pointing out the signs to each other. Caught sight of the delightful hubby and  kids, whooped in delight and sped away. We grooved with the fabulous bands feeling that it was a dream. Alas that was not to last and soon, the punishment of not paying heed to the well researched blogs set in. Viji developed runners diarrhoea and looked with longing at any structure vaguely resembling a portaloo. My thighs started chafing after an hour and soon started bleeding. The route continued nevertheless, gently uphill from mile 4 and then went down after mile 8.  We stopped at a local shop, got some plasters, which I dutifully threw away instantly…..i called hubby and begged him to get my running leggings. Met him after an agonizing 13 mile by which time, back spasm had set in. Boy, he was such a pleasing sight and he waved something black in front of me. I grabbed it screaming – my leggings, my leggings, thank you thank you…. But they were not my leggings!! Hubby had mistakenly grabbed a tummy/thigh trimmer shorts. I held it out with contempt, proudly announcing I am not going to run my first marathon in my chaddhi ( underwear) . One look down at my blood stained shorts and i marched behind a van to change. I was greeted by the sight of batman, weeing in true batman-style, up in the air! Seriously! This is a marathon, you are at mile 13 and you still spray patterns on any wall, cmon boy, get a life! He muttered an apology and we both turned out backs and continued. Several tunnels passed, one of which was transformed into a spa with gentle music, water sprays and the promise of blue skies and white sands on lcd panels along the tunnel walls. The new “leggings”  were a life saver but the damage was done alrdy. Because of my running style, i developed back spasm which continued to the back of my thigh and cramped my knee and calf. I hobbled till mile 18 and collapsed by the eiffel tower, drained and in pain. Viji ‘s runs were getting worse and she started spending a good part of her race in the toilets. Subhash, the only one standing, encouraged us gently  and we continued. A blade runner passed me by, giving me hope and courage.   Several old hunched folks strode past, proud and erect in their attitude. The parisians overdid all our expectations in their genuine support. Everyone was hailing us. A angel along the road chanted ‘allez, allez, allez….bravo’ making us forget our sweat. We crossed a “wall ” at mile 20 and i knew i was hitting my wall.   Leg cramps refused to budge and gels were of no use. The last 6 miles were the most painful in my life. Passing mainly through the leafy windy paths of the Bois de Boulogne which was so accurately described in another blog as a death walk, I could actually hear the sounds of the  bugle of the firing squad 😂😂 . By this time, i was finding it difficult to walk, let alone run. I sat, refusing to move on. Viji stood by my side, confused. But subhash came up, sat beside me and calmly said- you can do it, remember what we came here for…. We started together, we will finish it together. It gave me strength, not bc I could finish it but for him, i would finish it. A true friend in all respects. I faltered again and again, stopping by an ambulance. The paramedic said to me that i had cramps and that i should stop. That frightened me so much, the very thought of stopping just 3 miles short of the finish line, just when we could hear the cheers and beats of the drums….. How could I give up now, never! We were by now in the stragglers league….. From being in the 4.30 hour flag to the “no point in giving then a flag” team. But we were still proud, still together. My steps faltered but all of a sudden, i started sprinting at the sight of four cameramen. I was a champion, i must look like a champion and i must feel like a champion.  The uproar from the crowds resounded in my  ears, unreal, reaching a crescendo when i saw the green finish arch in the distance. A flash of red was hurtling full force towards me…. Varun !!! Followed by the ever so fresh Rhea, her gorgeous hair flying in the wind. They clambered over the barricades screaming- Mum, Mum, you did it, you did it and suddenly the flood gates burst out. I started bawling like a baby in their arms. Varun supported me and gently pushed me forward. The security personnel came and escorted both of them away.   Subhash and Viji came closer, we held hands, a moment of unison, and we proudly stepped over the finish line. Hugs, tears, gratitude to each other, no words spoken but a lot said….. It was the test of a lifetime, my personal victory. Ram scooped me up in his arms and i was home…. I am officially a marathoner…….. and the journey continues 🙂
  • Paris Marathon 2016 – the plunge!
    1st January 2016 ‘Every great dream begins with a dreamer’ The beauty of our dreams is that there is no limit to it. But sometimes, we do like to test the limits of our dreams, to take on our dreams. This was the maniacal thought that made us ( subhash, Kalpa, Viji and me) take up the challenge  few months ago. Training however stalled due to several reasons, laziness being prima facie…. So the main 2016 resolution was to train hard, train smart. My CP ( crazy partner, my soul) is with me throughout in body and mind, but somehow surrounded by a lot of darkness.  That is my main hurdle. I can’t do it without my CP and somehow it is a double challenge, ie to get my CP on board and to train well in a positive note. It is indeed an uphill task but if my heart is in it, I know I will do it. Ram, as always, is the one with full faith in us and always encourages us especially when i feel low . He is our  sole trainer and mood elevator. Subhash is my training buddy, both need desperately to rise upto the challenge and mainly, lose weight ( which is more of a herculean task than the actual marathon!) , though he is better prepared mentally and physically for it. Day 1 (2/1/16) – 10.4k (1.11hrs) Difficulty Level- 10 (hilly welsh terra in) Positivity score ***** Very very difficult run, through the ups and downs of the welsh country side! Felt easier after 3k and could have gone for longer. Feel positive now….. Tuesday 5th January 2016 Day 2  (5/1/16) – 40 mins Difficulty Level- 10 ( not well ) Positivity score * Reeling under the effects of viral fe ver, day 3 , slightly better but still chesty. Thought about canceling today ‘s run but decided to take the plunge. Did 2 sets off 20 minutes on the tread mill. =============================== Day 3 (7/1/16) – 11.75k (1.28hrs) Difficulty Level- 7 (Solihull) Positivity score ***** The Ice Age Lesson learnt today- be well covered in the cold. It was a chilly 4 degree, subhash was sensibly wrapped in 3 layers and I decided to go in a single half sleeve cycling jersey with no gloves or anything else. Stopped feeling my fingers after 40 mins. Reached home and started shivering uncontrollably. Three layers  and heavy duvets still took time theto bring  core body temperature to normal. Never again! Lesson learnt!! ———————————- Day 4 (9/1/16) – 16k (1.43hrs) Difficulty Level- 7 (Knowle) Positivity score ***** The miracle it was ! “The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” Jon Bingham Today was a day of surprise . It was the much awaited long run and with lots of anticipation and trepidation, we started the run. The starting was smooth and i was gently surprised because it was the first time, we appeared to cruise along. Viji joined us and inspite of  her worries, was right in the front. Subhash tried to be a hard task master and made sure we went on and on. I am sure i would have given up after a couple of miles. I starred flagging after the 8th mile but kept going some way or the other. The last 2 miles were on autopilot and finally we DID it. And boy, so proud I am, thanks to my running partners. Another day, another milestone achieved. Feel fresh and rejuvenated. ———————————- Day 5 (12/1/16) – 20 mins varied run , 40 mins core training (1.11hrs) Difficulty Level- 10 (the gym) Positivity score ***** Today was the return of the prodigal daughter 😁 back to stephen and it felt great. Did a set of 3 circuit repetitions. Realised that my BFI is 29 😂😂 and that i must must reduce weight. Well, on a positive note, my fitness pal is being kind anyway ….   Day 6 run – 3.3 miles (0.40hrs) Difficulty Level- 8 Positivity score ***** This time it was different. Was running alone, at 2 degrees an determination was key. But just the thought of all these days of training, of good friends and of course paris, kept me hoping, well barely !!   Day 7 ( 16/1/16) – 13 miles (2.20hrs) Difficulty Level- 7 Positivity score ***** Today was a different story altogether…. It was a long run and for the first time in my life, I found my rhythm. Like they say running is all a game of the day and today it was definitely my day. I don’t think  i will be able to do this so smoothly again, do reliving this glory. Subhash was recovering from his flu and still did very well, and so did Viji, so hopefully I will be able to match up to them in paris 🙂 So far so good, the efforts of the week paid off:))) 19/01/2016 Setback 1: The shin villain hits again! Two days post and my old friend, the shin villain has started hurting again! Possibly in keeping with the four hour dance session…. Have to be careful 🙂 Setback for this week. No running. Full rest. Did core and cardio with stephen. ———————————- The long run Day 10 ( 31/1/16) – (2.40hrs) Difficulty Level- 8 Positivity score **¥¥ Today was another long run day, did 13 miles but awas really tough because of the terrain…… We follow the cycling route with its ups and downs. Felt that it went on for hours but somehow managed it. My shin splits hurt in the beginning but eased off later. Evening, got the girls to do core exercises and they all enjoyed it thoroughly 🙂    ———————————- The lazy losers 😜😜 Day 11 ( 04/02/16) – (1.12hrs) Difficulty Level- 7 Positivity score ** Felt very very full and lethargic, didn’t feel like running at all. Somehow gathered the mental strength and pushed each other through. Had visions of gliding along the chic parisian boulevards, followed instantly by stronger images of our sweaty, crumbling bodies alongside pretty lithe lycra class runners……ah, the mind games continue 😂😂😂. Managed 10k with difficulty bc of shin pain. Better luck next time. Romeo ‘s welcome at the end made up for it. ———————————- Sunday 7th February 2016 Day 12 (7/02/16) – 40 mins Difficulty Level- 10 ( bad weather) Blame it on the weather! It rained incessantly for 2 days so decided to run in the gym, barely managed 7k, didn’t feel like it at all. Hung around just enjoying the calm of the usually buzzing gym. Subhash, on the other hand, was heading towards the 16 mile mark in reading!!! ———————————- Tuesday 5th January 2016 Day 13 (12/02/16) – 90 mins Difficulty Level- 5 The lazy spell continues… Another lazy week…. Both subhash and me were on a mission to see who would encourage whom to move their butts into running mode. Each day, we came up with new excuses for not running. Managed to get out on friday but felt great afterwards. Celebrated with prosecco in the evening 🙂 and why not! ———————————- Sunday 14th February 2016 Day 14 (14/02/16) – 2.40 mins Difficulty Level- 7 The 17 mile run Today was amazing. Did my longest run ever, felt on top of the world. But that was after all the pain and jelly legs feeling😂😂 First 9 miles were okay, then the cold set in, legs felt rock solid, we started relying on gels, and more stretches along the way! The last 3 miles were sheer torture but that was when w crossed my longest threshold….. Thoughts kept playing throughout the run….. Gliding through the arc de triumphe, waving to the cheering crowds at the eiffel tower and so on till towards the end, all I could see was home :))) ———————————- The 2-0 trophy 👑👑👑👑👑 Day 15 ( 20/02/16) – 20 miles (4.12hrs) Difficulty Level- 8 Positivity score ***** What a feeling….. Irene Cara The feeling , was being alive….. Throughout the four plus hours of running…… Not one moment did a negative thought cross my mind. This run was the sweetest and most satisfying run in my life. Felt the rhythm, felt one with my surroundings and felt free 😄 I know that its always good days and bad days, and this was deficient my good one. Will savour this feeling…… What a feeling, being’s believin’ I can have it all, now I’m dancing for my life  , Take your passion and make it happen, Pictures come alive, now I’m dancing through my liFe…… ———————————- Day 16 ( 28/02/16) – 13.3 miles (2.30hrs) Difficulty Level- 8 Positivity score *** The coventry half marathon The vision There is always a vision, everyone has a vision and standing non-descript, amongst thousands of runners of varying shapes, age and sizes, I had a vision. Of the super fit me, in bright lycras and endless legs, bounding away to the muffled beats of music, pony tail tossing in the wind, evoking all sorts of responses from the appreciative crowds….. and the half marathon started . We placed ourselves near the 2.15 pacer flags, smiled at each other with the confidence of an Olympian about to claim his third medal and all seemed perfect. Mile 1-3 I woke up with a jolt in the first mile itself. Somehow those long strides seemed to drag and it continued. We told ourselves that this was the warm up run and it is common to feel heavy. The route was crowded and we avoided the temptation to rush ahead. The 2.15 pacer flag kept bobbing in front and it was a sense of security. The locals were great, lots of oranges offered, music bands cheering us and of course the jelly beans on offer. Regular water stops kept us hydrated. Some army cadets carrying large loads on their backs bundled past, their pert backs offering enough eye candy in the vast expanse of grunting wannabe runners. Lesson learnt- FUEL: Carb loading 24 hours before and ample breakfast on the day prevents jelly legs. Mile 4-6 The pacer flag disappeared and soon, we latched onto an orange turbaned Sikh gentleman and a Supergirl. My thighs started their jelly wobble and my legs felt weak. I knew I was being punished for not eating enough at the start. Supergirl flew away rather quickly and the Sikh guy also sped past. Lots of people overtook us and my morale started sagging as it seemed that the whole crowd seemed to be pulling past us. We, subconsciously increased pace, but I still didn’t feel the rhythm. We were now slowly moving out into the countryside and the route seemed to go uphill and downhill more frequently than expected. We passed a rather fit man who was running with 2 women , encouraging them, giving them reasons to step up and forward. It turned out that he was a seasoned runner and was just running with his mates to help them out. A great individual, he taught us what we already knew, marathon running is all about helping each other. Subhash probably understood his plight as he was suffering the same with me, offering gels at regular intervals and volunteering to hold my unnecessary paraphernalia. Lesson learnt: SUPPORT: a reliable running mate works wonders, gets you out of your cosy comfort during the late raining cold nights, will challenge your inner voice and will motivate you to achieve your dream. The African proverb rings – if you want to go fast, run alone. If you want to go far, run together. Mile 7-9 This was where it all changed. My trance and slowly fading vision was shattered when there was suddenly a flurry of activity around us. I turned to see a real lean mean running machine charging ahead, in a barely there green hot pants and resplendant with a blonde pony tail bobbing in sync to the steps of a sudden surge in half marathon runners. My running partner also surged ahead only to be reminded that we were meant to keep pace together. For a few miles, she kept us company but then soon, I realised that slowly the tables seemed to have turned. WE seemed to be overtaking more than falling back. This was true on the uphill and the sweet rewards of regular training were ours. Lessons learnt- PACE: Always run at your own regular pace. Rushing too far ahead leads to fatigue and overall disappointment at the end. Remember, there is a place for everyone at the finish line. Mile 10-13 Last 3 miles were relatively easier than the mid-section. The thought of finishing kept us going. Sore, tired, a little sounds inside my head screamed louder and louder now, ordering me to stop, cursing Subhash for getting me into this, cursing Ram for supporting me throughout and cursing my all other friends who were always willing to listen to my never ending saga of the Paris marathon preparations. The only way was to distract my mind. Usually, while running, we love the sound of silence, of being one with nature. But now it was time for some sing alongs and soon Bollywood bhangra tracks shrieked through the British countryside followed by Jessie J and Beyoncé. Subhash even did a mini jig and pumped his fists up in the air to the beat of music. I pretended that I didn’t know him J and towards the end, we were racing away, overtaking weary bodies slowly. I guess it is your frame of mind since we ignored those who overtook us. Lessons learnt- PERSEVERANCE: There is always a gnome inside our head that will hold us back. Just ignore it and charge ahead. Every step is one step closer to the finish. I overheard this sentence several times during the race, runners encouraging the huffers and puffers along and it is so true. Just keep going and you will do it. Mile 13.3 The finish line was there in sight, after unending curves and corners and we strode past, together, proud, broken, exalted, and dazed. A quick respectful greeting and we slumped onto the nearest bus stop bench and just sat in silence, taking it all in, respecting each and every mortal who was hobbling in. A stuffed Peppa pig arrived, dragged his sweaty costume off and started kicking it furiously. Lovers kissed, families wept and kids hugged their superhero parents. We watched, together, proud, broken, exalted, and dazed. The ride back was all music to my ears…. Paris, here we come …..and we can build this dream together, standing tall forever Nothing gonna stop us now ….and if this world runs out of runners, we’d still hobble together Nothing gonna stop us now Conquering the wall 💃💃💃💃 Throughout this journey, ie trolling through varied blogs and running sites, something called the wall always emerged…… The dreaded wall at 21 miles, where stragglers collapse and stalwarts crumble. It didn’t refer to Dravid ,the much revered wall of the indian diaspora but an imaginary 21 mile mark during the marathon where your body and mind seem to give up…… Since it was the highest peak of our training plan, it had to be done! So we prepared ourselves, meds, carb over load, multiple weather forecasts etc etc and so we started. The auspicious coconut breaking ritual was substituted by a barrage of verbal onslaughts by Viji for changing the time, yet again 😁😁 The first half was a breeze, like always and mind games prevailed. One thing we realised is that futile it may seem, we always try to fool our mind. Do we run back the same way or do we run a downhill route , don’t want to run in home territory, etc etc….. The second half stretched but not as painfully as last time. The boom box emerged, yet again and so the three musketeers trudged off, happily following britney ‘s girlfriend and thalaiva ‘s lungi ( thrice😁😁😁)….. Day 17 (05/03/16) – 7.6m (1.29hrs) Difficulty Level- 10 (just not in the mood) Positivity score * The week after the half marathon and any excuse needed, i guess, to  not perform. It was cold, it was windy, it was just not right and hence didnt feel like getting up and running. But we had to and hence, off we went, grumbling and moaning….And soon enough, were aptly punished for it. Split up and kept running grumpily, and returned after few miles. Felt sorry for ourselves at the end. But i guess, some dips are needed ….better luck next time. Day 18 (08/03/16) – 3.6m (0.47hrs) Difficulty Level- 5 (contemplative mood) Positivity score ***** Mid week runs are never easy and this was just a peace keeping run for us, to reflect on how and why we had a bad session last time and also plan future sessions. Planning is our favourite, doesnt need much effort 🙂 Day 19 (12/03/16) – 22m (4.27hrs) Difficulty Level- 5 Positivity score ********** On top of the world!!!! We are positively, definitely, happily going to do it. in fact, i believe now that we have already conquered it. Day 20 (18/3/16) – 2.6m (0.36hrs) Difficulty Level- 10 (tired) Positivity score * IT was a Friday, it was a tiring week, it was a dull sad day and i just couldn’t run. feel in the dumps and feel that i have let Subhash down. need i say more, the stats speak for itself. Day 21 (19/03//16) – 14m (2.30hrs) Difficulty Level- 5 Positivity score ***** The final frontier…. The tapering starts now and boy, we were pleased. Did a half marathon distance and felt great. Day 22 (22/03/16) – 3.5m (0.35hrs) Difficulty Level- 4 (indoor training) Positivity score ***** Part of the tapering session, only 35 mins of running. This tastes sweet 🙂   Day 23 ( 31/03/16) – Paris , here we come…
  • Amalfi Coast 2015
    IMG_6029 IMG_6016 IMG_6018 IMG_6051 IMG_6052 IMG_6097 IMG_6109 IMG_6122 (2) IMG_6140 IMG_6151 IMG_6171 IMG_6175 IMG_6193 IMG_6223 IMG_6233 IMG_6234 IMG_6242 IMG_6295 IMG_6330 IMG_6336 IMG_6403 IMG_6421 (2) IMG_6433 IMG_6448 IMG_6450 IMG_6458 IMG_6486 IMG_6503 IMG_6505 IMG_6512 IMG_6513
  • Coventry half marathon
    THE VISION  Image result for hot runner cartoon   There is always a vision, everyone has a vision and standing non-descript, amongst thousands of runners of varying shapes, age and sizes, I had a vision. Of the super fit me, in bright lycras and endless legs, bounding away to the muffled beats of music, pony tail tossing in the wind, evoking all sorts of responses from the appreciative crowds….. and the half marathon started . We placed ourselves near the 2.15 pacer flags, smiled at each other with the confidence of an Olympian about to claim his third medal and all seemed perfect…… Mile 1-3 I woke up with a jolt in the first mile itself. Somehow those long strides seemed to drag and it continued. We told ourselves that this was the warm up run and it is common to feel heavy. The route was crowded and we avoided the temptation to rush ahead. The 2.15 pacer flag kept bobbing in front and it was a sense of security. The locals were great, lots of oranges offered, music bands cheering us and of course the jelly beans on offer. Regular water stops kept us hydrated. Some army cadets carrying large loads on their backs bundled past, their pert backs offering enough eye candy in the vast expanse of grunting wannabe runners. But my legs felt weak and i yearned for some energy shot. Lesson learnt- FUEL: Carb loading 24 hours before and ample breakfast on the day prevents jelly legs. Image result for hot runner cartoon Mile 4-6 The pacer flag disappeared and soon, we latched onto an orange turbaned Sikh gentleman and a Supergirl. My thighs started their jelly wobble and my legs felt weak. I knew I was being punished for not eating enough at the start. Supergirl flew away rather quickly and the Sikh guy also sped past. Lots of people overtook us and my morale started sagging as it seemed that the whole crowd seemed to be pulling past us. We, subconsciously increased pace, but I still didn’t feel the rhythm. We were now slowly moving out into the countryside and the route seemed to go uphill and downhill more frequently than expected. We passed a rather fit man who was running with 2 women , encouraging them, giving them reasons to step up and forward. It turned out that he was a seasoned runner and was just running with his mates to help them out. A great individual, he taught us what we already knew, marathon running is all about helping each other. Subhash probably understood his plight as he was suffering the same with me, offering gels at regular intervals and volunteering to hold my unnecessary paraphernalia. Lesson learnt: SUPPORT: a reliable running mate works wonders, gets you out of your cosy comfort during the late raining cold nights, will challenge your inner voice and will motivate you to achieve your dream. The African proverb rings – if you want to go fast, run alone. If you want to go far, run together. Mile 7-9 This was where it all changed. My trance and slowly fading vision was shattered when there was suddenly a flurry of activity around us. I turned to see a real lean mean running machine charging ahead, in a barely there green hot pants and resplendant with a blonde pony tail bobbing in sync to the steps of a sudden surge in half marathon runners. My running partner also surged ahead only to be reminded that we were meant to keep pace together. For a few miles, she kept us company but then soon, I realised that slowly the tables seemed to have turned. WE seemed to be overtaking more than falling back. This was true on the uphill and the sweet rewards of regular training were ours.   Lessons learnt- PACE: Always run at your own regular pace. Rushing too far ahead leads to fatigue and overall disappointment at the end. Remember, there is a place for everyone at the finish line. Mile 10-13 Last 3 miles were relatively easier than the mid-section. The thought of finishing kept us going. Sore, tired, a little sounds inside my head screamed louder and louder now, ordering me to stop, cursing Subhash for getting me into this, cursing Ram for supporting me throughout and cursing my all other friends who were always willing to listen to my never ending saga of the Paris marathon preparations. The only way was to distract my mind. Usually, while running, we love the sound of silence, of being one with nature. But now it was time for some sing alongs and soon Bollywood bhangra tracks shrieked through the British countryside followed by Jessie J and Beyoncé. Subhash even did a mini jig and pumped his fists up in the air to the beat of music. I pretended that I didn’t know him J and towards the end, we were racing away, overtaking weary bodies slowly. I guess it is your frame of mind since we ignored those who overtook us. Lessons learnt- PERSEVERANCE: There is always a gnome inside our head that will hold us back. Just ignore it and charge ahead. Every step is one step closer to the finish. I overheard this sentence several times during the race, runners encouraging the huffers and puffers along and it is so true. Just keep going and you will do it. Mile 13.3 The finish line was there in sight, after unending curves and corners and we strode past, together, proud, broken, exalted, and dazed. A quick respectful greeting and we slumped onto the nearest bus stop bench and just sat in silence, taking it all in, respecting each and every mortal who was hobbling in. A stuffed Peppa pig arrived, dragged his sweaty costume off and started kicking it furiously. Lovers kissed, families wept and kids hugged their superhero parents. We watched, together, proud, broken, exalted, and dazed. The ride back was all music to my ears…. Paris, here we come …..and we can build this dream together, standing tall forever Nothing gonna stop us now ….and if this world runs out of runners, we’d still hobble together Nothing gonna stop us now
  • 2016, a gift….
    Passion for any particular thing is a gift from God…. It may survive the length of time or it may not, but its important to nurture it while it lasts. My experiments with photography is one such example. This is a series of photos that have been taken with the iphone6 on the eve of 2016      
  • The Salad Fraud……
    I was never a salad person, always made fun of the salad eaters and the ghaas phoos gang. It was always so annoying to spend ages chewing like a goat or cow, my jaws always hurt and there was never a sense of fulfilment that one usually encounters when you actually eat meat 🙂 One day, however, something happened , no idea how, where and why ( psssttt….a little bird called aditi probably 😉 , but I found myself in the midst of a salad workshop, organising and thinking and soon little ideas took shape and my fantasies of butter chicken ,  lamb rogan josh and chilly pork divine were replaced by the colourful medley of a mixed vegetable salad, resplendent with pearl barley and quinoa!!! The salad workshop was a super hit. Below are the salad recipes, all of them divine and easy to make. Hope these come in handy and you enjoy making them just like I did 🙂 IMG_5337

     My Grape fruit and orange salad with ginger and red chilly dressing


    This is a special favourite of mine. I always believe in the saying that you first feast with your eyes and eat with your mouth later!!! Theses one of those moments…..Make this and you will have your guests eating out of your hands forever!!!!

    And I mean it :)))

    Layer slices of grapefruit, large sized orange, kiwi fruit and small oranges. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds and sliced red onions. Dressing: 3 portions olive oil, 1 portion balsalmic vinegar, half a lemon, 1 tbsp honey, salt, pepper, fine chopped ginger, red chillies Shake well

    Niyati bowled us over with her selection of salads, simple but very impressive. The beauty is in experiencing each and every flavour rather than combining lots of flavours together. Loved them all ,especially the courgette salad!!!

    Niyati’s Beetroot, baby spinach and goat’s cheese salad


    Niyati’s Beetroot, baby spinach and goat’s cheese salad

    Marinate sliced beetroot in walnut oil honey lemon salt and pepper dressing

    Serve on spinach/rocket/mixed leaves , add crumbled goats cheese and toasted walnut or mixed seeds.

    Drizzle the dressing

    Niyati’s Caprese salad IMG_5354

    Insalata Caprese ( salad of Capri) is usually served as an antipasti ( starter) and is meant to resemble the Italian Flag.

    Love the simplicity and flavours.

    IMG_5391 Whole Ripe Tomatoes, Sliced Thick Mozzarella Cheese, Sliced Thick Fresh Basil Leaves Olive Oil and balsamic vinegar For Drizzling Sea Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper

    Arrange tomato with mozzarella slices on top in a platter. Arrange basil leaves on top.

    Drizzle olive oil balsamic dressing with salt and pepper over the top of the salad, getting a little bit on each slice.

    Alternate halve plum/cherry tomatoes and mozarrela pearls arrange on spinach/salad leaves as individual servings.

    Drizzle same dressing

    Niyati’s stuffed peppers with cheese

    Stuffed pepper with ricotta – top with basil drizzle olive oil with salt pepper

    Niyati’s Courgette salad with mint, garlic, red chilli, lemon & extra virgin olive oil

    4 courgettes sea salt freshly ground black pepper 1 red chilli ½ clove garlic (optional) 1 handful of fresh mint extra virgin olive oil 1 squeeze lemon juice

    1. Prepare the courgettes using the vegetable peeler and place into the serving bowl.

    2. To make the dressing, squeeze the lemon juice, and mix with 3 parts more of olive oil. Grate the garlic finely, and add the chilli and mint. Season to taste.

    3. Dress the courgettes and combine together well.

    Sraboni’s Vietnamese Salad recipe: 

    OK, now this salad deserves special mention because it was the first time I was experiencing such flavours and ingredients too. Just loved it. Will be a permanent feature in my culinary journey now.


    Dressing – light soy sauce generous proportion 
    1 spoon sugar

    1/2 sp mushroom powder
    Lemon juice 

    Chinese cabbage, Leek fried, Basil chinese, coriander, mint, Peanuts

    Mix well

    Krishna’s Mixed Beans Salad

    Loved the fresh flavours of this salad and more importantly the flamboyance and style with which it was presented. Totally won us over. Just realised that even a small flower here or there, or a simple crust of bread makes all the difference.



    1 can mixed beans , 1 red pepper, chopped, 1 bunch green onions, chopped1 stalk celery, finely chopped, 1 small red onion finely chopped, ¼ Beetroot finely sliced.

    Mix all ingredients a big salad bowl and keep in the refrigerator

    Dressing:1/4 cup olive oil 2 T. wine vinegar (I used white-wine vinegar) Juice from half a lime (or 2-3 T.) 1/4 tsp. salt 1-2 tbs RedHot wings Buffalo sauce,1 tsp – Red chili flakes.

    Mix dressing in a separate jam jar, and pour over beans salad.Serve salad mix on delicate inner leaves of romaine hearts, sprinkle some fresh lentil sprout mix and freshly clicked dwarf basil leaves.

    Voila!Bon Appétit!!

    Aditi’s papaya and mango salad

    Another quick and amazing salad with an explosive array of flavours that will leave your taste buds tingling for a long time 🙂


    Raw papaya grated in thin strips

    Raw mango

    Raw carrots 
    Some red onions 


    In a mortel grind 2 pods of garlic with red chillies as per taste , add freshly squeezed lemon juice with palm sugar , keep grinding to maximize the flavours and salt to taste ! 
    Add fish sauce , if u are allowed , i omitted it as many vegetarians 

    Then mix with the salad , add crushed peanuts and garnish with coriander  

    I love this with stir fried prawns coated in corn flour salt and pepper !

    Many thanks to Aditi Gupte, Krishna Thakur, Niyati Shah and Srasboni Dasgupta for showing us these recipes.

  • Mango Raspberry Pannacotta: For the ultimate wow-factor
    Presentation is the key to success, my teacher always stated…..and this is the main theme of this dessert. Its beautiful and deceptively easy to create. It needs only 4 ingredients and can be made well in advance . I made it the other day and now i know that I will be making it time and time again. Pannacotta literally, in italian, means cooked cream and does actually taste so too. The beauty of this dessert is int he simplicity and blend of different tastes. IMG_5224 INGREDIENTS Mango pulp (good quality ) Cream full fat Raspberry ( pureed or coulis readymade ) Gelatine METHOD: Prepare gelatine by sprinkling gelatine powder ( one satchet) over cold water. Mix mango pulp to the dissolved gelatine. Place your glasses tilted onto an empty egg carton or muffin case and pour the mango mix into it. IMG_3599 Allow to set int he fridge for around 2 hours. Repeat the same procedure with cream and raspberry and add the layers, first cream and then, raspberry. Allow to set in the fridge. IMG_3606 To serve, place your glass upside down on a plate ad garnish as you please. Viola, stand back and enjoy!!!!!
  • Why we named our son Jai…
    To amazing people who cross our paths and teach us so much more….
  • Resistance is futile…..when it comes to chocolate !
    IMG_5204 There is what i call the ‘MUMMY PYRAMID’ that all mums dream about. This is the top mum who is always there for the kids, all their matches, parent teacher meetings (omg), who bakes lovely cakes and has amazing parties for them and who is always discrete so as not to embarrass the kids in font of their friends. However, as much as i have tried to , ( just tried to!! ) take part in this ratrace for the top of the mummy pyramid, I find myself diggging a hole deeper than the deepest one could ever imagine. till I found this recipe ( thanks to the supermoms of Minnesota and their amazing party ideas, thanks revati and jayanti) ) There are amazing desserts to serve up in a jiffy, takes only 5 minutes and will instantly zoom you to the top of the perfect mummy pyramid, way past the 4×4 driving mums, in perfectly matched shoes and bags, and of course make up, at 8am in the morning and who, actually walk to the school with poise and grace rather than charge into the school, dump the kids and rush back to an illegally parked car, nearly getting a sticker and lots of tsk tsk expressions from their alien counterparts!!! All you need are these glorious beauties : strawberries, milk chocolate, white chocolate. IMG_5183IMG_5188 What do you do: Simple, just melt the chocolate under LOW/MEDIUM power in a microwave till soft, checking every 20 seconds. Dip the DRY strawberries in them and leave to dry on a rack. Drizzle some melted chocolate on the strawberries with a spoon  ( no icing or fancy stuff needed) Hide it in a fridge ( most important), I made around 15 and there were only 8 when i took them out for the party!!!! Enjoy you position at the top of the pyramid :))) as long as it lasts!! IMG_5197 IMG_5204 IMG_5193 IMG_5199
  • 50 Shades of Aloo…..


    No connection to the movie, sorry to disappoint you all 🙂 but this dish as christened as such by the original chef after seeing the various golden brown shades of these beautiful baby potatoes coupled with intense discussions over various dinner parties about the film and its psychology!!! Its great cooking with friends and its even better when you cook with people who have OCD in general. Hence, for the first time in my life, I cooked using exact measurements ( though a teaspoon for me is two fingers and a tablespoon is 3 heaped finger full ) but that was allowed, after a lot of moaning and groaning by our Masterchef!!!


    The beauty of this dish is its simplicity and low spice quotient, again something which was so painful for me to follow but the end result was surprisingly delicious! IMG_5143 IMG_5144 RECIPE: MASALA : Grind or crush finely the following – 1 tbsp coriander seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 3 cardamom, 2 cloves, 2 pepper corns, 1 small piece bay leaf 15-20 BABY POTATOES, boiled and shallow fried in oil, till it turns beautifully golden. Keep aside. 3 tbsp oil 1 onion finely chopped 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste 1 cup yoghurt, well beaten 1 tbsp kasoori methi ( dry fenugreek leaves ) 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp red chilli pd, salt to taste METHOD: Heat 3 tbsp oil, add chopped onion and stir till it turns transparent. Add ginger garlic paste, stir well. add the ground masala, stir with potatoes till well combined. Add 1/2 tsp turmeric and 1 tsp red chilli powder, stir. Add beaten yoghurt and combine all carefully and let it cook till oil leaves the sides of the pan. Add kasoori methi now. Finally add 2 or more cups water and cover and let it boil for 5 minutes. Garnish with coriander seeds. The trick is to use these measurements and not give way, like me, and start using your own spices here and there :)))


    Sharing a tiny bit of trivia, in passing….. Dum aloo is a kashmiri cuisine and has been adopted by Bengalis who of course added the ‘o’ to it and called it floor Dom ( gosh, i really love the way they speak!!! ). Wikipedia tells me a very interesting story about the origin of Dum Aloo in Bengal. The Oudh famine in 1784 introduced Nawabi cooking in Bengal who substituted beef with baby potatoes ( supposed to be a dutch novelty then and hence taken up by he intellectual and westernised Indians in British India ) and slow cooked them according to the tradition of Ain-i-Akbari ( overnight beef stew).

Picke and Podi (powder)day

Now with COVID enforcing home stay, the idle mind wants to explore things we have not attempted before .
Kalpa went on to do some lime pickle and Udupi Rasam podi.
If you have ever been to a Andhra restaurant you would have seen a 4 Dish dispenser on the table. One. Would have Gonkura pickle, an Avakaya pickle and salt and then there is the Garlic powder!!
The Taste of hot rice with the garlic powder( podi) and ghee with the Avakaya pickle is to die for!
My attempt at the podi

Dry roast the following

  1. Dry roast equal quantity of Toor dhal, Moong dhal.
  2. Toast slightly less roasted Channa dhal ( Pottu Kadalai).
  3. Dry roast dried red chillies.
  4. Dry roast curry leaves till they dry up
  5. Garlic pods sliced and fried in oil till all water content is lost
  6. Toast sesame seeds.
  7. Once cooled down grind to a fine powder with required salt adding the sesame seeds in the end.
  8. Enjoy with hot rice and ghee!!!

Smita Deshpande

Masala gnocchi – the one with an Indian touch

Boil and peel potatoes or use left over baked potatoes
Finely chop onion, green chilli, ginger. Sauté in hot oil/ butter with a pinch of turmeric
Add mashed or riced potatoes and fold together
Add sugar salt and lemon juice to taste.
Once the mixture is cooled add flour and grated Parmesan and knead into dough
Roll out to a rope cut to size and dimple with a fork
Boil water and touch of olive oil and drop the gnocchi and take out once they floa to the top with a slotted spoon

For the pesto

Blend Rocket, parsley, coriander, pine nuts garlic salt pepper lime juice salt and olive oil

Add butter to pan add veggies and sauté add gnocchi and sauté add full fat milk and the pesto paste
Once ready serve whit shavings of cheese