northern lights

northern lights

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

From my kitchen diary vi

There is no exaggeration in naming  mango as the King of fruits. There are innumerable varieties of mangoes.It is believed that some mangoes are sweeter than Nectar.It is an exotic  fruit.The fragrance emanating  from the ripe mango is captivating  and seduces our senses.It is consumed throughout the world.The mango is cultivated in most countries, but the largest  production is in the  Indian sub continent..
   All parts of a mango tree are utilised  in our house holds. The leaves are considered auspicious and are used in  house warming ceremonies, marriages and religious  occasions.The wood  is useful for lighting in havans and other  holy fires.The mangoes can be eaten raw or fully ripe.Several mouth watering dishes are made  using mangoes as a main ingredient.I am sharing  a few recipes which are very popular and are equally  tasty. I hope  that my friends will like them.
1.   Mango Chutney
 a.Raw mangoes  250 gms
 b.Sugar       1/2 cup
 c. Water      3/4 cup
 d. Salt    As per taste
 e.Red pepper powder  1tsp.
 f.Lime juice       2 tb sp.
 g. Big cardamom  1 for flavour(optional)

Remove the skin of the mangoes and cut into  slices.Boil these slices in water on slow  flame till the slices are tender.(Add the cardamom if you like its strong flavour.) Now add sugar, salt and pepper powder  and stir till it looks like jam. Add lime juice when it cools down.Keep the chutney in  an air tight  bottle.This tastes good.
 2 Mango curry
1. Ripe Mangoes  4
2.Curd  2 cups
3 Besan (Gram powder)  2 Tb sp
4.Cumin seeds    1 Tsp
5.Asafoetida  a small pinch.
6.Green Chillies   2-3
7 Salt        as per taste
8.Cooking Oil      3 tb sps
9 Onion. One medium size
10.Turmeric powder  1/4 tsp
11.Red chilli powder  One tsp
12.Tomatoes   2 
Remove skin and  slice the ripe mangoes in medium size pieces. Keep covered  aside. Take the curd, add besan, turmeric powder and 1/4 cup water and blend it in a  blender. Place a heavy bottomed vessal on the fire. Add cumin seeds, asafoetida powder and finely chopped onions..Stir till the onions are pink in colour.Now add the diluted curd.Add another  two cups of water.When the water starts boiling,lower the flame and boil for another 2-3 minutes.Now add  salt,chilli powder and  mango slices.Let it simmer till the mango slices mingle with the gravy.Before serving,decorate the curry with sliced tomatoes and green chillies.The yellow curry  with red and  green toppings looks very attractive.The sweet,sour and tangy taste excites the palate.It goes very  well with rice.
 The mangoes are excellent for making a shake  with milk( milk shake) as well as curd( Lassi).
Before I close,a  quick Mango  Sauce recipe is given below.It is delicious and is made  when you have time constraint.
Method for making mango sauce;
Take two ripe mangoes, one banana,one lemon , two tbsps of honey and 3-4 spoons of milk.Put them in a blender  and make a smooth sauce.Chill it in the refrigerator.This can be served with cakes and ice cream. It is a hit with children.
 More exiting mango recipes will follow shortly. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

thoughts on education

Recently my maiden book 'Reverse Gear'was released. I got comments from most of my friends in the form of  appreciation,suggestions and of course some positive criticisms. A good friend ,without any prejudice  asked me," Madam, in your long  career you did not come across a single person who did not pain you or was against you?  No mention has been made in the book about any person with whom you had differences."This comment set me thinking.My motto has always been "I praise loudly; I blame softly."This is the principle that I liberally utilised in   my career  and my book reflects that philosophy. Moreover the book is my autobiography(?) and not a tool to mend others ways.I am reminded of a famous couplet of the poet Kabir,"Bura jo dekhan mein chala bura na miliya koye,Jo man khojia aapna mujhse bura naa koye."Translated in English it means"I went in search of a bad guy, but I did not come across any bad person. When I  pondered, I  found that there was no one as bad as me." How ever  as an educationist I met several persons  who were not very enthusiastic  to display exemplary qualities of workmanship but were content in the dictum, 'sab chalta hai.'
 Today when I look back I am pained to see that there are  hardly any teachers of the calibre of  Dr.Radhakrishnan or  Dr Zakir Hussein.Slowly and surely   a downward trend is visible.The Schools boast of good result only due to the sincerity and hard work of a handful of teachers. Let me describe a scene from an average school. The school bell  rings.The Principal is unconcerned.She is engrossed in discussing the price of a shawl which a teacher has worn for the first time.The late comers are enjoying the tete-a-tete.The day starts on a  very casual note.The morning assembly, which is a solemn affair is taken casually. The classes start.  Within a few minutes the Principal summons three teachers from their classes and gives them orders to complete the budget, which has to be submitted to the Head office on that day. These teachers are required to assist the office clerk. After an hour or so another set of  teachers are seen heading towards the Principal's office.  These teachers have to go the market to purchase a gift for  one of the staff members, who was to retire  shortly. This sort of orders are repeated every day. Now have a look at  at the actual class room teaching. Its a History  class. The pupils are given directions."open your books on page---.Now start reading one by one" (Tu Padh Method) The Teacher  herself is enjoying the scene out side. Suddenly she says"some people have entered the Principal's office" Two pupils are directed to go outside and find out  their identity and what refreshment was being served to them.  She again addresses another pupil and asks her where did she have her hair styled' It is time for the period to be over. All of a sudden she says,'Children  thus the whole tea was thrown into the sea.This was the Boston Tea Party'.The period comes to an end .The teacher writes in her diary that she taught Boston Tea Party to the class.
  The scene described above is not any piece of imagination. It is a reality.The scenario is not very different today. Many teachers are  giving tutions  out side school hours. On reaching School they are exhausted and go to sleep in the  staff room or where ever they find place.(in 2nd shift schools), Even the Principal has a word of sympathy for them.After the introduction of CCE(continuous comprehensive evaluation) the things have gone from bad to worse.This scheme envisages that the performance of the pupils will be  continuously evaluated on the basis of not only the  text book knowledge, but all round development of a child.The aim is to cover both the scholastic and and the co-scholastic achievements of the pupils.The assessment of the child's  progress  is made by giving them projects in and out of the classroom. No marks are to be given. Instead evaluation is done by giving Grades.The objective of the scheme is  very appreciable.But  alas, in practice it has not been accepted  in the same enthusiastic spirit  in which it was formulated. The good Schools have taken up the responsibility  very creditably.But the masses have given a good bye to teaching. The teachers and the taught both are nurturing the fact all the children will be up graded to the next class.This is a negative approach, but unfortunately  this is true.not that all Schools are complacent .There are many Schools  which are taking  great interest and  and thriving to make the best of this scheme. But they are only in a minority. It is learnt that that the Govt. is taking concrete steps to revise the scheme., which will remove all loopholes.If you take a neutral view, the scheme  can be very effective in developing the personality of a child.This a healthy sign. Let us hope that the revised version is announced soon and enables our school children start a march towards   perfection.Long live our country!!


Sunday, 10 June 2012

welcome rain

'Rain, rain go away, little Jhonny wants to play.'This is a nursery rhyme we learnt in school. Well this is only a rhyme. In real life rain is always welcome.After the dust storms and  scorching heat every body pines for a whiff of  cool breeze  and showers  which  lift one's mood and inspires you to dance in gay abandon.Fauna and flora , birds and animals  all soaked in the drizzle  seem to enjoy upto the hilt.After the dreary afternoon and gloomy evenings of summers,the little rain drops that  gently fall on us   make us ecstatic. The first shower of the season is 
seductive and is heartily welcomed.The soothing fragrance of mud, the damp grass  and little puddles formed around you instantly raise your  spirit and  soul.
  I remenber that as children while walking outside on a rainy day we  enjoyed  splashing  our legs in a pool of water and getting completely drenched.Now when I see my children and grand children  dancing out in the rain and getting soaked in the rain.I become nostalgic.Though I protest, arguing that they will catch cold(grand parents are over protective) I dont mind their indulgence!!  Rains  cheer up their drooping spirits and seem  to quench  their thirst for fun.
  We find nature in its best form.The sight of  plants and trees merrily  swaying in the cool breeze in gay abandon is exhilataring. The sun baked leaves seem to have aquired a new attire.Seeing nature in its glory  is a sight that engulfs  the whole being of the spectators in utter delight. Nature seems to be at its best.
       Film makers  depict rain as symbol of romance. The  hero and the heroine, soaked in rain water, hand in hand singing 'Pyar hua ikraar hua'(Nargis and Raj Kapoor in Shri 420) and Kishore Kumar  singing 'Ek ladki bheegi bhaagi si'and a mutitude of rain/romance songs have won the hearts of the viewers. A scene in many movies show the love birds seething in sorrow when they are separated.The rains  touch the cord of their hearts and they burst into sad songs.Remember the song'Saawan ke badlon unse yeh ja kaho, taqdir mein yahi tha saajan mere naa roh'.
  Rainy evenings tend to tick  our palate. We yearn  for  hot, hot pakoras and pipng hot tea or coffee. I am  giving some useful tips for preparing these items.Even though every home prepares these mouth watering  dishes,a little  special  touch will go a long way in enhancing their taste.
                                Tips for making pakoras
a.The  paste for pakoras must be prepared  at least10 minutes in advance.
b.Add a little rice powder to  the paste. It  makes the pakoras crispier.
c.The oil for frying should not be over heated
d. The pakoras must be served hot. Reheating destroys the  taste and crispiness
                                 Tips for preparing coffee
 a It is ideal to use fresh coffee beans.
 b.For preparing instant coffee the ratio of milk and water  should be according to an individual's taste.Same proportion should not be used for every one.
c.The water used for coffee should be filtered.
d.Coffee must be served piping hot.
                               Tips for preparing tea
a.Water should be fresh 
b.Milk and water must be boiled separately.
c.Sugar must be served seperately.
d.Tea leaves should not be boiled
 Though the first showers of  rains are welcome, they become destructive if they last for long periods. Floods and certain diseases  are associated with rains.This proves the maxim that every thing in excess is bad.