northern lights

northern lights

Thursday, 29 December 2011

much maligned new year resolutions.

The new year is round the corner. The spirit of  joy ,anticipation  and reflections  on past achievements  and failures  are  the thoughts that  are uppermost in the the mind of  every  thoughtful  individual. This is but natural.While  some one may proclaim that he has not  thought about  plans  for the future or contemplated   upon  unfulfilled  desires or tasks,  there may be others who rejoice over their  gratifications of the past  and look forward enthusiastically  towards the future.This is the genesis of new year resolutions! This is the time of the year when such thoughts  come to the fore.
   My rumination takes me  to  the distant  past. As a child I used to hear  seniors in the family discussing  their resolutions and how they succeeded in achieving their goals.As I started growing  up  the terminology  was heard more often.I think I was in class iv when I made my first resolution.I publicly announced that I would work hard and stand first in the class.My Mom and Dad were very happy that their daughter had determined to stand first in  her class. This  resolution remained only a resolution!! After a month or so the monthly tests were held.In spite of my steadfast effort my position   in the class continued to be as in the the previous tests.The whole resolution  forming  faculty  went haywire.After this incident every year  a new resolution was made only to be broken.I thus became an adept in making resolutions  and equally adept at breaking them!I have several times made a resolution that I will go for a walk early morning but it never saw  its  fruition. I am not the only person  who cannot  adhere to their own self made  determinations. There are many others  also who suffer from  the same malady. I recently  read  somewhere  that while 52% people feel happy at the success of the completion of their resolution,in reality  it is only 2% people  who actually  get the fruits of their efforts.!!
 The resolutions which people generally  make  on the advent of the  new year are related to health issues eg. wishing to reduce weight, going on  a diet,  giving up smoking   or drinking  alcohol etc.
 I am now in my twilight   years. I have seen life from very close quarters.I have seen several ups and downs in my life and  faced many detractors. I have suffered  many physical ailments. and have even undergone  major  surgeries including  cancer  surgery.All these adversities  have made me stronger. My only wish at this stage of life is to pray for physical and mental strength. As age advances you do not make any resolutions for your own future. Your thoughts turn to the well being and happiness  of   your family and near and dear ones.On this new year's eve I pray  that  God   shower  His mercy, prosperity and happiness on my family and friends. I wish every body a very happy new year 2012.


Friday, 23 December 2011

From my Kitchen Diary Part ii

  The importance of being a vegetarian is being realised by the people all over the world.The reason why people are shifting to vegetarianism  is that they are  becoming aware of the fact  that  vegetarian food is beneficial for health.Today I am giving recipes for making vegetarian cutlets.
Many people  confuse  cutlets  for  kebabs. Generally Kebabs are wrapped on skewers  and grilled on coal or in the oven. Cutlets are fried in oil. They can be deep  or shallow fried according to the taste and requirement of the family.If we know the basics of making cutlets we can use any vegetable. Generally people make mixed vegetable cutlets. They are very delicious. I am writing the recipes of cutlets,which many people don't make and are very  tasty.In our family these are favourites  with the adults and  the children alike.I will  write recipes of  four  varieties.Chick pea cutlets, Yam cutlets,.Sago cutlets and Beetroot  cutlets.
  • Chickpea cutlets    Ingredients:-
  • Chickpeas  (Kala Chana)  1  cup
  • Ginger/garlic paste 1 tb spoon
  • Coriander leaves
  • Bread slice             1
  • Potato                1 medium
  • Salt
  • Garam Masala(Ground black cardamom,pepper.cinnamon,)
  • red chili powder
  • Oil for frying
  • Method :-
  • Soak chickpeas in water for 5 to 6 hours.Boil it in pressure cooker  till tender(about 10-15mts).Strain the peas.Don't throw the water.It can be used to make soup.Keep the boiled peas aside. Boil the potato.Mash the peas, bread slice  and potato very well.(don't use the blender, otherwise the cutlets will not bind )Add salt, spices, finely chopped coriander leaves,  ginger garlic paste and red chili powder. Make balls of the size of a lemon and flatten  between  the palms of your hands. Now fry the cutlets.It is your choice.They can be shallow fried  or deep fried on medium heat.They should be evenly browned. Serve
  •  hot with mint chutney or tomato ketchup. 
  •  Yam(jimikand) Cutlets :-The cutlets with yam are prepared exactly like chickpea cutlets.The only difference is that the yam does not require to be soaked in water.You can cut medium sized pieces and boil them.
Both of these cutlets are very much liked in our family. Many times it has happened that when these cutlets are served to guests  people cannot believe that they are vegetarian dishes.
mouth watering cutlets

Sago (Sabudana) cutlets  Ingredients:-
  • Sago  1 cup
  • Potatoes   3 medium
  • Paneer(cottage cheese)  1/2 cup
  • Salt
  • pepper powder
  • Oil for frying
  • Method
  • Soak the sago in  one and a half cups of water for about forty five  minutes.The sago should  look translucent and and not lumpy. If  some water remains, it should be  discarded. Mash the potatoes and paneer to form a very smooth paste.Add salt and pepper.Mix well  Now fold in sago gently into the potato paneer paste.Ensure that there is no water in the sago.If you find some traces of water ,dry it with tissue paper.Shape   like cutlets and deep fry in medium heat.The sago granules present a very attractive look. Serve hot. The children just love to have these cutlets.
  • Beetroot Cutlets Ingredients:-
  • Beetroot  1/2 kg
  • Carrot     250 gms
  • Green chillies  two or three finely chopped
  • Ginger garlic paste  1ts spoon
  • Garam masala
  • Salt
  • All purpose flour about 1/2 cup
  • Cashew or peanuts  coarsely ground
  • coriander leaves
  • Oil for frying
  • Method:-
  • Grate the beetroot and the carrot 
  •  Squeeze the water
  • Add all the ingredients, mix well and fry(deep or shallow)
The recipes given above  are all very simple to prepare.I am sure you will enjoy  preparing  them and your family relishing them.Happy eating!!


      Saturday, 17 December 2011

      Happy is the person who lives for others

      An old adage ‘A man is a social animal’ has been coming to my mind for the last few days.I have been compelled by my mind to give it a serious thought.We exist in a society.We all need the society as much as the society needs us.It is a  case of give and take,  mutual trust and understanding.Some people adopt the ‘I don’t care’ attitude,but at some stage of their life they come to terms with reality.The question arises after all what comprises human relations. Human relations as I understand, is the  interaction  between  individuals .This interaction can be  at the level of:-
      1.   family  members 2.neighbours place  associates  and  4.society  at  large,  which includes relatives and friends.
       No  one can survive without communication. For  the  water  that we drink,  the delectable food on our dining table , the house  that we live in and  hundreds of luxuries that we enjoy  are the result of  mutual  human involvement.  Even  a  hermit , living in seclusion, is indirectly the beneficiary  of the labour  of others.

       We learn our first lesson of maintaining  good will from our family. If a family is well knit and has a positive outlook, it will be transmitted to the members. Here the Mother’s role is very significant.  It  is the mother who has to inculcate   good values in the children.The concept of  tolerance, concern for the feelings of others  and to a  large extent selflessness  and good behaviour  and co-operation  is acquired by the children  in their early years . These  values get ingrained  in their system. The mother, therefore,  is  a psychologist.who can  effectively  judge the emotions of her  household.  The  Mother  is the  first and foremost  teacher.
       Next  comes the School. The school plays a very important part  in the development of the child.  The character  building process starts within the boundary of the school.The qualities of  sharing,  give and take  and shouldering responsibility  are acquired at the school level. It is within  the precincts of  the school  that the qualities of head and heart  and  discipline are imbibed in the individual  and  equip   him to face the challenges  of   life.  Education  will not be   complete if the child is not  exposed to the vagaries  of  the harsh world.  It is generally noticed  that the  children who have not taken  any  formal education are by nature  not very  co-operative and do not possess a very pleasing disposition. The  habits that we have acquired in childhood in our school  and college  always remain with us. In fact these experiences form  the basis  of human relations.  Education  leads us to the royal path of virtues like good will,
       equanimity,  and  fellow feeling.         
       As we grow  we   come across various characters,  young and old,  pleasant and not so   pleasant, fun loving and morose. We have to tackle  them  all. Human  nature varies from person to person. We have to adjust  with every one. I  have  come across  characters of all sorts during the course of my professional life. Dealing  with  human beings enabled  me   to  judge the natural  bent of mind  of individuals  to a great extent.The test of  a person’s credibility  in maintaining harmony starts from home.We have many times noticed  that  some people  who  show exemplary behaviour, have a co operative  approach  and are very helpful  to others in the outside world,  are  dictators at home.They are intolerant  and  virtually abusive  and insensitive   towards the feelings and  requirements of their own family. Such  persons    are   utter failures  in  life. If we are good  within  the four walls of our home,   it is beamed  on our  face  and personality. We are all familiar with the saying that charity begins at home.  But at the same time it should not end there.
       While browsing through the Internet I chanced to see a formulation  titled ‘Ten  Commandments of Human Relations”. I am reproducing it below for ready reference  and emulation. Here I also acknowledge my indebtedness  to the author of this  Happiness formula :

      10 Commandments of Human Relations

      1.      Speak to people.
      There is nothing as nice as a cheerful word of greeting.
      2.      Smile at people.
      It takes 72 muscles to frown, only 14 to smile.
      3.      Call people by name.
      The sweetest music to anyone's ears is the sound of his own name.
      4.      Be friendly and helpful.
      If you want friends, you must be one.
      5.      Be cordial.
      Speak and act as if everything you do is a joy to you.
      6.      Be genuinely interested in people.
      You can like almost everybody if you try.
      7.      Be generous with praise...
      and cautious with criticisms.
      8.      Be considerate with the feelings of others.
      There are usually three sides to a controversy: Yours, the other fellow's and the right side.
      9.      Be eager to lend a helping hand.
      Often it is appreciated more than you know.
      10.  Add to this:
      a good sense of humour, a huge dose of patience and a dash of humility. This combination will open many doors and the rewards will be enormous.

      Courtesy Google

      Tuesday, 13 December 2011

      From my Kitchen Diary

      I had posted this blog last year. I have upgraded it and presenting the recipes for my friends. If you prepare them, kindly give a feed back about the taste of recipe and how it was welcomed by your family.

      Cooking is an art which requires not only the know how
      of a recipe but also how to make variations in the ingredients and
      procedure of cooking according to the requirement and taste of
      the family. The  secret of good cooking is innovation.You must
      fish for new ideas to cater to the taste buds of your own near and
      dear ones. There is no finality in cooking.It is an art which is
      continuously evolving.A good cook should always be on the look
      out for recipes, which can be churned out of basic ingredients.
      Many times a recipe requires items which you have not heard of,
      or something which is not available in the local market.In such
      an eventuality it will be a wise step to invent,innovate,and
      incorporate new ideas of your own. The end result is the one
      that matters. I remember that I tasted sandwiches in a party, which were very delicious,something I had never tasted  before.
       The next day I obtained the recipe from  the hostess.To my consternation I found that it contained many ingredients which were fat rich. I made some modifications cutting out on fats and adding some greens and more proteins.The sandwiches turned out to be tastier  than the original. I bet that the original inventor of that brand of sandwiches will lick his fingers.My efforts were rewarded I still relish the old world food  dished out by our grandmothers. The modern snack bars and other eateries will have to bow in obeisance to that type of food.Take for example our 'Cholle Bhature,' which went into  coma for some time. It became a victim of the modern fast food culture. It  returned  with a bang and can outwit any competitor on its own merit.The age old favourites like Carrot Halwa, Kulfi, and Kheer can any day withstand  onslaught from the modern Ice cream Bars.Also have a look at our South Indian food.
      The age old Idli,Dosa,Vada and Sambar  still hold an important place in the modern food all over the world.
      My Mother's  preparations are still fresh in my mind.They were simple but at the same time a treat for the taste-buds.I wish to popularise these recipes with the younger generation.
      Of course I have made additions and subtractions and minor
      modifications so that the youngsters can appreciate them.The recipes are(i)Kadhaiwali subji(ii)Paneer kofta and (iii)Jaggery rice.

      1.   Kadaiwali subzi                   

      Ingredients :-
      •   spinach(palak) 500 gms. brinjal, potato,bell pepper,lotus stem (kamal kakdi), raw mango, green chillies, carrot -- all combined 500 gms 
      • tomatoes 250 gms   
      • Oil for cooking 4 tbsps. 
      • salt, spices 
      • amchur (in case raw mangoes are not available)

      Method :-
      • Cut all the vegetables medium size, wash them well. Take a Kadhai (preferably iron) heat 1 tbsp oil  and add all the vegetables except tomatoes.
      • Stir for a minute or so and then add salt, cover it and allow to cook  on medium heat,till the vegetables are half cooked. A lot of water will ooze out.

      • Now add all the spices. When water is almost dried up, add tomatoes and stir. You will notice that all the vegetables are well mixed

      • Remove from the fire. In another wok, put the oil.When the oil is well heated,pour it on the cooked vegetable and mix well.
      • Garnish with green chillies and tomatoes. Serve hot.
      2.   Paneer (cottage cheese) Kofta

      Ingredients :-
      For kofta                                                       
      • cottage cheese 250 gms
      • all purpose flour 4to5 tbsps
      • boiled potatoes - two, medium size
      •   ginger a small piece,salt, pepper and coriander leaves, oil for frying. 

      For the gravy
      • Onions two- big in size, tomatoes three
      • ginger garlic paste, curd 2 tbsps
      • salt, red chili powder 
      • garam masala  powder, bay leaf one, black cardamom one.

      Method :- 
      • First we will prepare the Koftas. Mash the paneer very well. It should be a very fine paste. Add the boiled potatoes, grated ginger, salt, pepper and finely chopped coriander leaves and finally, flour. All these items should be kneaded and formed into a soft dough.
      • Now form small balls (size of a lemon) and deep fry them on medium heat until golden brown. Remove from the fire and keep them aside. About 10 to 12  koftas. 
      • For the gravy,put two tbsps oil in a pan.Put finely chopped onions and roast it very well, add ginger garlic paste, and further roast. 
      • Now add the curd and roast well till the curd is completely absorbed. 
      • Next add the very finely cut  tomatoes salt and all the spices and keep stirring till the oil leaves the sides of the pan.
      • Add water (about two glasses) and allow it to boil first on high  flame and then on slow heat.
      • Remove from the fire. 15 minutes before serving boil the gravy. 
      • Discard the bay leaves and cardamom and add the Koftas. Garnish with coriander leaves.
      • Jaggery Rice                                           
      Method :-
      • Boil one cup of rice.After it is cooked keep it aside.
      • Warm  2 tbsps of oil, add jaggery and let it melt.
      • Now add nuts like  roasted almonds, raisins and cashew nuts, stir and put boiled rice and mix very well.
      • Serve hot or cold.

      Let us give a try and then see the result.