Monday, June 25, 2012

Somersaults & Summer Salts

Of late, I’ve been bitten by the blogging bug. There are numerous topics to blog, but not sure whether others are interested in reading my thoughts. Jill Savage’s blog hop for summer recipes prompted me to respond as here in India, our summer is just over – well almost as its the end of June and no good rain in sight to relieve from the sweltering heat.

Living in a coastal state means coconuts are in plenty. Besides plain water, coconut water is the best drink to hydrate the body. Apart from sipping directly from a fresh tender coconut, it’s also available packaged in tetra packs and cans. Its best consumed chilled.

Here is a picture of a coconut tree taken from my kitchen window.

Yoghurt and yoghurt based drinks called ‘Lassi’ (pronounced luh-ss-ee) are also options to beat the heat.This famous drink can be made sweet or salty.

For sweet lassi, blend the following smoothly:
1. A cup of yoghurt
2. Quarter cup crushed ice
3. Quarter cup of sugar, or as per preference
4. A dollop of cream (optional).

For salted lassi, omit sugar and add quarter spoon of salt or as per choice.

Mango the national Indian fruit is available in summer. Mango is not just consumed as a fruit, but used in umpteen preparations.

Here are two recipes. ‘Mango Cream’ and ‘Mango Lassi’

Mango Cream

Ingredients –
1. One and a half cup mango pulp.
2. Three tablespoons sugar.
3. 100ml cream.
4. One table spoon gelatin.

Method - Let the gelatin stand in a small bowl with quarter cup water for 5 to 10 minutes. Melt the gelatin mixture over a double boiler on the lowest heat or in the microwave.

Blend the melted and cooled gelatin with the rest of the ingredients. Pour in the serving bowl and refrigerate for about two hours.

Mango Lassi
Ingredients –
1. Half cup each of yoghurt, Mango pulp and milk.
2. One to two table spoons sugar as per preference.
3. Quarter teaspoon cardamom powder (optional)

Blend and serve chilled.

Happy somersaulting!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fathers & Father Figures an American TV channel announced on this eve of Father's Day that according to a recent poll released by - Dads just want time with the family.

In this frantic world, time has become the most precious commodity. It's not just 'Dads' but all of us would want more time.

As a child I remember before the academic year began my dad sitting for hours and helping us cover all our books so neatly. All four siblings would wait patiently for our individual monthly treat of 'Coca cola' in a 200 ml glass bottle or 'Joy' ice cream in a plastic ball container. The wait for the annual movie he took each of us on our birthdays seemed so long that we thought we hadn't celebrated for several years.

I've had the good fortune to have several father figures in my life. Having lived with extended family, my dad's brother has been an integral part of my growing up years. Once, I was upset that my dad and other family members did not keep to their promise of taking me on a planned outstation trip, my uncle asked me to pack my bags and off we were, much to the surprise of the others who had left me behind. There was Richie uncle who visited every summer to check on us in spite of having five of his own kids and being busy at work.

I've also been blessed with good neighbours as father figures in the absence of my parents who were working abroad at that time. One father figure neighbour, 'Jacob Uncle' assisted in our school essays and signed the report cards. Invariably, I handed out the report card as he was ready to leave for office and did'nt have much time to go through in detail. The other neighbour, 'Mendon Uncle' tapped the window on his morning shift to work with a cup of tea through the window bars as a morning alarm to study. He has no idea till date that several times I had snoozed off after a nice cup of tea.

Another father figure I remember very fondly is my friend Meenakshi's dad. Being a doctor he was concerned about our healthy diet. On many sleep overs at her place, he made sure we had a cup of milk and a banana before retiring to bed. The comic part I recall is when we were both sharing a Harold Robins' novel, a so called 'Adult' book at the time, he suggested to ask for help in understanding the story. By the way, we were 18 or 19 years then.

And of course in my tween and early working years, I cannot forget my Angle (Pronounced as Aangley) Kaka and Unna who played pivotal roles as father figures. If at all I served for thirteen long years in the airline was because 'Angle' Kaka shielded me from most 'angles'.

My beloved Unna filled the gap where my dad left, after his demise barely three months before my marriage. I can vividly remember Unna on his cleaning spree during our London posting, celebrating our house warming and most importantly, being part of the biggest event in our life - welcoming our daughter's arrival.

Last, but not the least, my-father-in-law steals the show as a father figure. If for any reason I can be called a decent cook, is due to my F-I-L's meticulous methods. Almost, like an engineering feat. A man of few words, I cannot forget his warm smile and hospitality to a fault.

Now, comes the turn of my daughter's father. He is the apple of her eye. (Both her eyes actually!) Couple of our friends have commented on his T-shirt collars gone round from being pointed as he has willingly allowed her to chew on them while fussing her on his lap. He has let her paint his big toe with glitter nail paint just so she can pick out the stars from the paint and put on her nails. He has taught her multiplication by skipping on the tiles in our home. The neighbours I'm sure felt the tremors.

Now in her teen years every pimple that erupts causes him grief and shrinks his wallet.

His detailed planning on our recent holiday has put her father on the highest pedestal. My husband had noticed that she would often change the wall paper on our desktop to display the world's tallest buildings, waterfalls, fountains, etc. as she had an affinity towards heights. No camera could have done justice to the gleeful look she gave her father when she looked out of our hotel window over looking the Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur. It reminded me of Shah Jahan, the Moghul Emperor who they say admired the view of Taj Mahal from his window, as this girl of mine didn't let us draw the curtains at night. She fell into slumber just staring at the beautifully lit building. All credit to her father for having gone the extra mile to ensure she got that view.

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to all the men in our lives. We couldn't have done without you guys! (Pun intended) Let us pledge to give them all the time they deserve.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

World Environment Day:
Yesterday, returning from the so called newly opened largest mall in India, we took a by lane to avoid traffic. We were aghast at the sight. There were piles and piles of garbage dumped in that area.

The icing on the cake is that the garbage is in the path of the 'Mithi river'. The same 'Mithi river' which overflew causing great destruction in flooding Mumbai in 2009 monsoon. Of course now being summer the river is almost dry. We are into the first week of June and the rainy season being so close I am hoping that 'World Environment Day' does not remain just a topic for school projects and headline news.

Browsing through the web one finds many initiatives taken up by various organisations to make our planet a better place for us and our future generations and we have to support and cooperate with them.

Two web sites I found informative are & The one close to my heart and geographically is They have been doing some amazing work for eons.

Lets not be arm chair idealists but look closely in our homes, neighbourhoods, workplaces and the whole environment where we could make a difference.

The famous slogan 'Reduce, reuse and recycle' should be our daily mantra and not just on 'World Environment Day'

Try and join a local community centre in their drive towards garbage segregation, banning plastic, spreading awareness regarding wasting water, sharing transport, disposal of e-waste, planting trees, composting waste, etc. The possibilities are endless.

Now on a more lighter mood - Since I live to eat, I can think of reduce, reuse and recycle with regard to food.

All our left over food can be transformed into delectable new dishes.

Here is a recipe for Bread caramel custard with the left over ingredients.

Milk - 2 1/2 cups thick milk / Bread - 2 slices or 1 Mumbai pau / Eggs - 2 medium size / Sugar - 6 table spoons / Vanilla essence - 1 table spoon

1. For the caramel - Take a metal pan which can hold up to four cups of liquid and in which the custard will be steamed or baked. Sprinkle a few drops of water and 4 table spoons of sugar all around the pan. On an extremely low flame heat the pan. Do not stir, but gently swirl the pan as the sugar melts. Caramelize till it reaches a nice brown colour. Let it cool.

2. In a mixing bowl, soak the bread in one cup of milk for 5 to 10 minutes. Blend with the balance sugar and vanilla essence. The bread must be well mixed.

3. Add the balance 1 1/2 cups of milk and the two eggs to the above mixture and blend lightly.

4. Pour the mixture gently in the caramelized pan and steam or bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

Live responsibly, Love wholeheartedly.