northern lights

northern lights

Friday, 27 July 2012

From my Kitchen viii

The response to my  mango recipes was overwhelming. I must convey my thanks  for appreciating them. Today I  propose to present a few dishes prepared  from leftovers. In many house holds   the leftovers are confined to the dustbin.  We  should try  to utilise the leftovers.We can economise and also by our creativity churn out new dishes, which ,at times , turn out to be tastier than the original.I am confident that these recipes ,which are easy to make, will satiate the palates of my friends.
Leftover  rice
         Chouttu mutta(masala rice:0-
 Left over rice  2 cups
Paste of  two big onions   
Red chili powder  2 tbsp
Salt       as per taste
Coriander leaves   for garnishing.
Cooking oil   3 tbsp
Mix all the ingredients.Put them in a wok and  roast thoroughly  on medium heat.The more you roast ,the tastier  will  be   the  rice masala.Remove from the fire and garnish with coriander leaves
Note   We can also add an egg or two in this masala rice .This  rice can be served as a side dish in lunch or dinner or as a snack.
A  variation which can  be made with leftover rice is to mash  it well , add all spices and  some refined flour. Make crisp  cutlets .  The kids  love these  -cutlets.
We can  also make Lemon rice, tomato rice and coconut rice .Howver remember  not to reveal the ingredients to   the      family . lest you   receive more brickbats than bouquets.       
Leftover Vadas and Pakoras
              After a party  or a family get together,many dishes are left..Generally Vadas and Pakoras(fritters) are the victims. The  Vadas  can be  soaked  in Sambaar. We can make Dahi Vada using the leftover vadas. The Vadas can  also be converted into a spicy drink. known as Jal Jeera The method is given below
 Ingredients  Extract of tamarind 1 cup
                      Jeera powder (roasted and crushed) 1 tsp  
                       Mint leaves paste  1 tsp
                        Lime juice   1 tsp
                        Garam masala 1 tbsp.
Mix all  the  ingredients and add 6 to 7  cups of filtered water. This drink is very refreshing. We can add left over  Vadas after crushing them coarsely. After dipping the Vadas in jal jeera, allow them  to absorb  the flavour of  the  drink.  You will really enjoy  this  drink.
        Kadhi is prepared in all North Indian homes. In other parts of the country  it may not be known well; hence a quick  method is given below.
Ingredients:- Curd   3 cups         
                   Besan(gram  flour)  3 tbsp
                   Asafotida  a pinch
                    Leftover Pakoras  7-8
                    Red chili powder 1 tsp
                    Onion   1 (sliced)
                    Tomato   1 (chopped)
                    Coriander leaves  1 sprig
                    Turmeric powder  1/4 tsp
                     Fenugreek seeds 1/4 tsp
                     Cooking oil  3 tbsp
  Method:-  Add besan to the curd  and make a fine paste in the blender. Add the turmeric powder  and about  7 to 8 cups of water.Keep aside. In a wok  pour the cooking oil. When hot, add asafotida ,  fenugreek seeds and onions.Stir till the onions are  pink in colour.Now pour the curd mixture, salt and red chili powder.  When it boils add the tomatoes .  and green chillies.. Add the Pakoras and allow the kadhi to simmer  on slow fire. The Kadhi should not be too thick, Garnish with coriander leaves.  
 Left over Dal and vegetables can be converted  into very tasty Paranthas by kneading them with wheat flour.. To enhance the  taste , we can add additional salt, spices ,curry ,leaves and green chillies.. 
 Left over Ladoos
   For those who have a sweet tooth, I am presenting something interesting.If  we have Boondi Ladoos left over, a very tasty pyasam can be prepared from these ladoos. Just crush  4-5 ladoos and  add 3/4 litre of milk. Heat this  mixture on medium  flame, stirring  well.  till the milk thickens. After it is cool,  a few drops of vanilla essence  may be added. This Payasam can be taken hot or cold.
  One can realise  how the leftovers can be utilised. You can think of many more ideas and churn out tasty dishes with your imagination and creativity.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Scribbling to Scrabbling!1

It is very easy for people to state "So and so  is addicted to the computer."I have come across this statement  innumerable times. Many a time  this statement has been directed towards me. Am I really addicted?.   The Dictionary meaning of the word  addiction is"the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma."I have no hesitation in admitting that I  can spend hours in front of my computer without getting  bored .The computer provides  me  an  effective  means to pass my time fruitfully. I may state that I am now in my  mid seventies. At this age I have   successfully discharged my professional and domestic  duties. At present I have  all the time in the world  to indulge in activities of  my choice.I learnt to operate the computer  at  an age when women    have nothing to look forward to. When I expressed my wish to learn the nuances of a computer, my son, Deepak briefed me hardly for fifteen minutes.These fifteen minutes aroused my quest to learn more of it.. I purchased books to know more  about the learning  of a  computer. Slowly I picked up some elementary points Whenever I got time I would go click, click click. I learnt to play Croc, Solitaire and  Free Cell games. I thought that I had mastered  the computer, not realising that  whatever I had acquired was  nothing more than a drop in the ocean. I remember that whenever  a guest came  avisiting, I  had queries  and more queries . Within four or five months I was fairly  acquainted  with the different aspects of the computer.I get both  bouquets and brickbats for spending hours  in front of the computer. I  take  all comments in  good humour because I  know that my critics are my  well wishers.
 My   friends ask me ,what do I do on the computer.An educated  friend who is computer illiterate once told me"computer is meant for match making and casting horoscopes.  What do you see in the computer?" I fully utilise my compee(my computer's pet name) in a positive manner.My day starts with  listening to devotional music. For about two hours  I am engrossed in soft and enchanting  songs.I go through the  news columns. I write Blogs to keep my brain active. I even managed to write a complete book,titled  'Reverse Gear' in just three months time. And  then starts my pet hobby, playing Scrabble. The game is my weakness. I am crazy for Scrabble.I can play the game  day in and day out.The whole morning and sometimes even more, is spent in playing THE game.It hardly matters whether I win or lose.The game should be there. I remember that in  our childhood we used to play Scrabble(Spell O 'Fun).Playing on line is  more exciting. It is  a game which is educative,  entertaining and addictive. I feel that this addiction does no harm to me or my family. In fact I have become more sociable.I have friends from many countries .who like me are 'Scrabblists'
.Sometimes I do play Mind Jolt games, which are also very gripping as well as entertaining. But nothing to beat SCRABBLE..Any takers? All are welcome to my favourite game of Scrabble.


Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Husband Exposed!

A husband's  qualities, if dissected,  will be reflected in the summary below:-
H   Humour/ Hot headed
U    Understanding/Ubiquitous
S     Simplicity/Sadist
B    Beck/Bug
A    Attentive/Arrogant
N    Naughty/Nutty
D    Docile/Dodgy 

Every woman will agree that her man possesses these some measure  or other.The  difference in the proportion in which your man exhibits them  may  differ from man to man, but basically every man is the same.My husband  is also not different. He possesses  a  dual if not hydra- headed  personality. He depicts two distinct personalities,  one for public consumption and the other  reserved  specially  for me. He is an expert in  escapology and it is an arduous task to pin him down.  On such occasions  he can be compared to an escalator as he moves very fast and can wriggle out of any uncomfortable situation with ease. Many a time I have felt exasperated at his antics. After  more than half a century  of bonding with him ,I find him inscrutable if not unscrupulous.
 He has a vicarious sense of humour. He can laugh at himself and displays it publicly. I will give a small incident  which he has narrated umpteen times in the presence of others. On the last day in office , before retirement  ,while handing over charge, his  strong and sturdy revolving chair broke and he fell down resulting in wild laughter all around.However in  the privacy of my company he is an entirely a different character. If I question why he is so serious  he quotes   a famous Russian  writer "If you  have a good wife you are blissful, otherwise you would  become a saint." I keep guessing whether he is blissful or is a saint!

His mood swings are  as unpredictable as weather. You never know when  he will flare up and when he will subside.If one thing pleases him one day, the same thing will annoy him the next day.Even the  Metrological Department will fail to predict   the vagaries of his mood. He is very fond of sleeping. He can drift into sleep without much  ado,  in any pose and any where. Sometimes it becomes very embarrassing especially  when guests are around and he  falls into deep slumber!

His  greatest asset is  procrastination.You may need something urgently or would need his  assistance in performing an urgent  task.His  reply would  invariably be "Not now."For that matter, if you want to purchase some essentials for the household, the foregone conclusion is that  he will repeat his favourite  words,"Not now."

Another  great 'quality'of  my dear husband  is  dodging  a matter,how so ever urgent it may be,  his pet  reply is, "I will do it."To a question,"when?"  he has no reply.That 'when' never comes.

A characteristic  behaviour  of my husband is that he loudly proclaims that he always allows me to have  my own way  but that way leads to no  where. He  also announces  ,"My madam has the last word," and that he is a 'yes man' but  the truth  only I know.

In spite of   all his idiosyncrasies and and eccentricities  mentioned above my husband is a gem of a person. He has,  as my grand daughter  states, "Silver in his hair and gold in his heart."There is a common saying,"Behind every successful man there is a woman," but in my case it is the opposite. Whatever I have achieved in my professional and personal life is  because of  the love, care, understanding and co operation on his part.I thank God  for giving me a husband, who is a companion in the real sense.I wish that he be my husband from birth to birth.

Monday, 9 July 2012

old age maladies and melodies!!

Welcome old age or is  it  golden age!! The beauty of childhood and the glory of  youth has given way to quietitude and tranquillity of  old age.Looking backward I see not only a life of  fulfilment and success but  also that of trials and tribulations. The arrival of old age  has unfolded  new hopes and aspirations of a kind never  experienced before.Our life is now  more regulated.We find pleasure in things which we never even noticed  before. We have all the time in the world to  give fruition to  our hobbies and desires  lying beneath our  subconscious mind.
       I spoke to some oldies  to know their views about ageing.Majority of the people feel that they are now relaxed and at peace with themselves. I remember Somerset Maugham's  words,
'Old age has its pleasures,which though different,are not less than the pleasures of youth'.It has been observed that  as we grow older, we become more tolerant;we acquire the ability to control our emotions  much more notably than when we were young.The transition from youth  to old age is much more smooth  than we anticipated.A very unique  feeling of  spiritual  glory overtakes an individual.The vision of the God Almighty which  brings harmony and a sense of surrender  is  visible. This is not to say that  in a youth  there are no such emotions but  with the passing of years this affinity   with the Supreme comes to the fore.
   There is no doubt that physical infirmities slowly  make their way and take charge of the human body.One has to be  fortunate  to  be spared of the onslaught  of these irritants. Fading vision ,  hearing capacity   diminishing, and weakening of  joints  are common ailments of old age.In olden days such problems might have prevented people  from performing their daily  activities but  now  prompt and effective  medication is available at affordable  price and do not in any way become a hurdle in performing   daily chores. Now is the time to observe and enjoy the wonders of nature, little birds twittering ,squirrels running at jet speed and  hordes  of  monkeys descending  from no where and disturbing the  flora and fauna  of the neighbourhood!! In our  younger  times where was the time  to even notice  such  captivating and bewitching sights.A saying by a famous poet' Sans eyes, sans teeth, sans every thing', no longer holds true in  the modern age.
 Most important  factor at this age  is  family bonding which tend to get  strengthened  in old age. In our youth we were so much engrossed  in our profession that  we  could hardly pamper and  cuddle  our children.  We were more concerned about  teaching them good manners and  disciplining them.  Now when  we are  old we are more indulgent towards our grand children. Every move and every action of our grand children  thrills us .The roles are now reversed. In fact  they   decide and dictate and  we don't have the heart to disappoint them!! To maintain  harmony  and peace we allow our children  to have their  own space and  privacy. They are where we were once! They must have the liberty to manage their affairs.
         It  is unfortunate that  in some households harmonious relations  are not maintained. On one side the aged parents  feel neglected  and on the other side the children   treat   their  own parents as  a  burden. Generally  lack of understanding and adjustment lead  to such a situation. In fact both sides  need counselling.
  I  must end with a happy note that old age  is melodious and  not malicious.


Friday, 6 July 2012

From my Kitchen Diary vii

Last time I  had written some recipes  in which the main ingredient is mango. I am happy that my friends appreciated these recipes.Encouraged by such a tremendous  response, I am penning  down  a few  dishes made from mangoes.
 In olden days housewives used to make mango pickles in large quantities.I remember my mother used to make pickles. At least 10 to 15 kgs of raw mangoes were purchased. It was a Herculean job cutting them in equal size pieces. Preparing the masalas was not an easy job. All the ingredients were purchased fresh and pounded.Those days there were no sophisticated electrical gadgets to grind  masalas. In a nutshell, it can be concluded that pickle making was a two or three day job. Every thing was done at snail's speed. Now people have no time to indulge in such 'luxuries'. Therefore quick and instant methods have been devised to churn out  tasty dishes. Today I propose to write a few dishes made with mangoes as the main ingredient.
 1. Instant Mango Pickle:  
  i  Raw mangoes  2
  ii  Red chilli powder  2 tsp
  iii. Salt as per taste
  iv  Cooking oil - 4 tsps  ( I use coconut oil)
  v.  Asafoetida - a pimch
Method -  Cut the mangoes  in very small pieces. In  a container
mix salt, chilli powder  and the mangoes. Heat the oil, and  add asafoetida. Pour this oil on the mango mixture and  mix  it  very well. This pickle can be used for 8 to ten days if stored properly in a refrigerator.
2.Mango Raita  
i  Mangoes medium size - 4 ( we can use raw or ripe mangoes)
ii. Green chillies  -  4
iii. Curd   -  2 cups
iv.  Jeera powder ( cumin powder) - 1 tsp
v.  Grated coconut - 1/4 cup (optional)
vi.  Sugar (if raw mangoes are used)  - 1 tsp
vii. Mustard seeds  -  1/4 tsp
viii. Cooking oil - 2 tsps
Method - Beat the curd so that it becmes  smooth. Add  all the  ingredients except  the last two (serial no. vii and viii). Add grated coconut, if desired.  Stir very well. Heat the oil and add mustard seeds till they splutter. Add this to the Raita.
   3.Raw Mango Salad.
  i. Raw mangoes -  3. 
 ii. Tomato    -   1 (medium)
 iii.Bell pepper  - Yellow  1
 iv Bell pepper  - Green   1
  v. Onion   -   2 (medium)
 vi. Vinegar    -   5 tbsp
 vii.  Honey  -   2 tbsp
 viii.Salt  - according to taste
 ix. Pepper powder - 1/4 tsp
 x. Coriander leaves - a small bunch
 xi. Green chillies - 4
Cut all the mangoes, peppers, tomatoes and onions in small pieces. Add salt, vinegar, pepper powder and honey, mix well and keep in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Decorate with coriander leaves and green chillies. Serve cold.
Hope my friends will enjoy preparing and relishing the above recipes!