northern lights

northern lights

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

From my kitchen ... Borsch Soup

Many years  ago my nephew, who was working in Russia, came to stay with us. He is a very  affectionate  and lovable person. My grand daughters are very fond  of him and  are  informal with him. During his stay  with us, the girls   started   nudging him to cook Russian food for us.  I tried to wean away the girls  from making   such requests.  But they  were  adamant and finally succeeded in persuading him . He agreed (there was no  other way to wriggle out ) Typical Russian cuisine was  prepared in our house.  My husband ls a strict  vegetarian. His request was that nothing  non-veg should be cooked. One of the dishes  that was made  was Borsch Soup. All of  us  loved the  taste of Borsch  soup.In our enthusiasm we did not even ask him the  recipe.

          Today, after  a long period of time I came across   the recipe of Borche in a newspaper capsule 'Russia and India Report". My nephew is the editor of this paper. The paper carries the recipe of Borsch  presented by Elena Revinskaya. Old memories were revived. I am inclined to write the recipe for the benefit of my friends


medium potatoes 2

¼ medium cabbage, diced

1 large beetroot, grated (this soup has  a unique and unconvential flavour  due to beet root)

1 large carrot, grated

1 large onion, chopped

2 large tomatoes, chopped

4 garlic cloves chopped

1 tspCoriander leaves

1 tsp vinegar

¼ tsp sugar

Curd (substitute to sour cream)

Ground black pepper


Method of preparation

    Chop the potatoes into cubes and keep it for boiling

   Chop the cabbage into medium size squares and add into the pot soon after 

   Fry the chopped onions in the pan, add grated carrot, beetroot and 

chopped tomatoes and saute on a slow flame till they wilt and become soft. 

Then add the chopped garlic, sugar and vinegar and turn off the fire.

After the potato and cabbage are fully cooked in the pot, add in the sauteed vegetables.

Season with fresh  coriander leaves, black pepper and salt. Let it stand for some time, serve hot with curd (1 table spoon per plate) and garlic bread.

 Tip: In order to get bright red colour, do not overcook beetroot.

This soup  can be prepared  as vegetarian  as well as non vegetarian. If we are looking forward for a non vegetarian soup  we can add cooked meat after all the vegetables are cooked.

( Courtesy Sh.Ajay Kamalakaran  via India and Russia report)


Thursday, 25 October 2012

Hello,Hello,.Are you there?

Hello,Hello,are you there? You must have  heard  this  statement  innumerable times. The places where you  have heard and tolerated this statement  can be any where,and any time.They are not bound by  any fact or fiction.Whether you are  at home or in the market place makes no difference. It can be heard in the corridors  of power and  even in jhuggy jhonpry  clusters, in the cinema halls, in the buses, trains or any other conceivable  places. Yes, you have guessed correctly. These  words  see no time, are not dictated by any  legal or moral  dictums. We are  talking about mobile phones. Yes mobile phones!!
      Mobile phones have become a  common man's  phone. The  rapidity with which  the mobile phones were invented and the alacrity with which they have  taken a strong hold of the entire universe is   something  unheard or unseen in the  history  of scientific inventions. The variety of phones which have  flooded the market are diverse not only in looks but  in its features.It is the virtual  onslaught  on   mankind, which no other  commodity, which is an  invention of science,  has  ever  been able to achieve. The proud owners of mobile  phones range from the highest strata of society to the lowest jhuggi jhonpari  occupants. All our household workers like cook, mali, carpentar,plumber and maid  are  the proud owners of mobiles.  They may  be illiterate but the expertise in operating the phone has been mastered by them  accurately .They know how to make a call and how to receive  it.They know how to  tune on the music. Our grocery shop, vegetable  seller,and electrician also have cell phones. It is useful for them and for us too.
 Keeping in view such  diverse  uses, more  features  have been  added  or removed by the manufacturers. Hence the  prices too start from rock bottom  and  touch  the sky. Surprisingly the prices range from Rs. 1100 to  Rs.75000. The minimum priced ones only have the facility to make and receive calls  and sending and receiving SMSs.  As the prices  go up so do the  features.  There is a camera ,with video recording  facility,  sending faxes,   access to the Internet, facility for mobile banking, Blue tooth, and several other accessories. With all these  facilities  the   phones are called  smart phones.  They are a boon for the  society. 
   There is   another  side of the coin--the adverse effects of the mobile phone. Some scientists have pointed out that the mobile phone users are exposed to radiation,which is considered to be carcinogenic. They advise that the phone should not be used for long hours.It is also advised that when the phone is being charged  it should not be used..It is too late in the day to give such advice. .The Govt. should make it mandatory that the manufacturers must write what precautions  should be taken by the user. Schools ban the use of  mobile phones in the school premises.They fear that  the phones can be misused by taking vulgar photos  of the students and then  blackmail them. Whereas  I personally love my phone and feel it is a great asset for me. At the same time I realise that once I used to remember  each and every telephone number(friends used to wonder how l  could remember so many numbers). Now I do not remember  telephone numbers.  All  the numbers are  now fed in the mobile and  a mere  click is sufficient  to reach a person.
However all said and done mobiles  are a necessity.Especially  when you go out, the mobile phone helps   you  to be in constant touch with your family.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

One gift shopping which made me crazy.

Oh! How much everyone loves to get a gift. Whether it  is  a  birthday, some festival,   or  marriage anniversary, people expectantly wait for a gift. Gift is a sort of communication between the  giver and the receiver. Right from childhood  we start getting gifts and  in  return give gifts to our friends, relatives and well wishers. People wait for gifts. I remember that when my son was only  four years old,  we invited  his whole class on his Birthday.He was in  the nursery class. All the kids were playing. like a 'thunderbolt' to them.  There was panic. All the children  heard this  that poor child .All of them 'Gheraoed' him and ordered  him to get out. Seeing the commotion I  interrupted and  took my son aside and told him  that his behaviour was wrong. I have narrated this incident only to emphasise  how important is a gift  for everybody,irrespective of age or gender.

 When we receive a gift we do not realise  how much preparation has gone into planning and purchasing  it. Recently I was invited  to my sister’s  birthday  party. This invitation set me thinking. What to buy for her.  There were ten days to think and acquire a gift for her. I discussed with my friends  what  to buy. There were multitudes of  suggestions, which confused me .  I called my sister and asked her preference for a gift.  She too  said that I should use my own discretion. This added fuel to fire. I discussed with her husband  and requested him to suggest what would be the best gift for my sister. He said that he himself was in a dilemma  and could not  make up his mind.  Disappointed from this quarter too, I started hunting the shops.  The first shop that I entered  had hundreds of gift items.Every thing that the shopkeeper   displayed attracted me. In the end I came out empty handed. This became a daily routine. Some days  I went window shopping  and some other days I sort of ransacked the shops. I was getting upset.   After all, I had to give her a gift. Only three days were left for the party, and  as far as I was concerned status quo  prevailed.Now even at night I could not sleep. What to buy, what to buy, was the constant refrain  in my mind. Ultimately the last day arrived. In the evening I had to go for the party and here I had no idea what gift I was going to buy and give to my sister. In my heart of hearts I decided that I would give  her cash and tell her to buy anything of her choice. After I made this decision  I was relaxed and went to office wondering why  I had  not decided earlier to give her cash. She would surely have bought  something of her liking. In the evening after I left my office  and was about to start the car, the  care taker came running  and  waved me to stop. I was puzzled.What has happened. I looked at him questioningly . Ma'am you forgot to take your Lap top.  I told him it was not mine. As I started the car something  just struck. Wow, why I did not  get this idea earlier? Why have I been confused all these days?  I must purchase a Lap Top for my sis. How  happy she will  be. I already felt her  joy .I could  vividly sense her satisfaction and her face beaming with  joy. I  went straight  to a shop and bought a Lap Top  for her. I got it gift wrapped. When I reached my sister's house I  felt on top of the world.  In my mind I was  showering so many Badhais on myself. I  reached the spot  where she was standing, surrounded by friends. I gave her the parcel. She immediately said, ”My best gift is here.”All her friends implored her to open the gift.    Enthusiastically she   started removing the gift paper. The moment , her gift was visible, she exclaimed “ Oh no." Her husband, who was also  there, took the parcel from her. His facial expression  changed and  he swooned!!    Every one was  dumb stricken. No body could even guess what  had happened. My sister went inside and brought a parcel which her husband  had gifted to her. She gave it in my hands. Oh my god! It was  a Lap Top exactly as I had bought, same  company, same model  and same features. It was now my turn to swoon!! This was one gift purchasing which had made me crazy.

This  post is a part of the contest at in association with                                                                                                                           

post is the part of the contest

Saturday, 20 October 2012

If I had the power to change someting I would have....

If I had the power to change something I would have

Today India is standing at cross roads.We have achieved  great heights in many sectors which has increased the prestige  of our country.  The country is progressing towards becoming the next super power. In the sphere of Science and technology India has taken big  strides. For example, our Metro is one  achievement which has increased  the prestige of  our  country. The world powers are now realising  the strength of India's  will  and determination to achieve greater heights. The construction of roads and toll bridges which are comparable to  international standards. have been built.In the field of  Information Technology we have been very successful  and have  been acknowledged  as  a leader. At the level of higher Education we have made great strides.Our IITs and Research Institutes can compete  with  the comparable Institutions  in the world.Our students coming out of these institutions are  doing very well in  domestic as well as at International level.
 In contrast, the situation at the grass root levels, specially at the Primary and  the Secondary Education sectors,  is far from satisfactory. We are  an emerging Economic Power. In  the Education Sector  the Govt. has released  funds  but  the expanding  population  neutralises the effort.  Even though the number of schools  has increased manifold, we have not been able to attain the desired results.The primary and Secondary Education  is lagging behind.The Govt. has given several incentives to attract  children to schools but alas! it has  not been able to attract students to the  class rooms. The pupils have been lured to the classroom by giving them  incentives like free  dress, free tuition fee,  and free mid day meals. These sumptuous  incentives have  made only a marginal difference. 
            In   the year 2009  the Govt.  introduced  the  scheme of  Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation Scheme (CCE) for schools. This Scheme was formulated with the aim of reducing stress from the minds of young children. The Scheme  was well concieved but poorly impemented. This scheme envisages that the child's progress will be evaluated  throughout the year instead of at the end of the academic year. The Scheme was introduced without much groundwork,with the result that  it has created discipline problem in Schools. The students are aware that  at the end of the year they will be promoted to the next class. I have personally spoken to many Heads of schools who feel that  this Scheme has increased the element of indiscipline. The  majority of the children passing out of these schools will end up as Carpenters, Plumbers, Electricians. etc. The Teacher is a hapless  and helpless  spectator of this situation. She cannot even touch the child, what to talk of beating him. Those days ,when we were students, the situation was   so different.If  I  had the power to change some thing I would have changed the entire  fabric of School Education 
Some of the steps to improve the system as envisaged by me are given below:-
1. The teachers are the backbone of any system. They can make or mar any innovation. Every teacher, I mean one hundred percent of them, should be taken on board. They should be convinced about the utility of any system introduced or proposed to be introduced. 
2. The help of the electronic and print media should be sought to propagate the  positive aspects  of the scheme.  and introduce the parents to it  and increase their confidence in the measures taken.
3.Evaluation on a regular basis and strict compliance  the provisions .thereof are undoubtedly the best insurance for its success. 
4. Is it wisdom to promote children indiscrimiately to the next class without a healthy examination system which used to be the norm in earlier days?  What should have been done is to reform and reinvigorate  the old pattern instead of discarding it altogether.
5. Indiscipline is rampant in schools. Children have lost all fear and respect for their teachers. A healthy respect for the teacher should be restored. Some punitive measures will have to be brought in place to discipline the child. Parents have by and large failed to cultivate values in children presuming that teachers would take care of this aspect. The result is neither the parents nor the teachers are doing enough for the welfare of the child. It looks as if all have abdicated their responsibility towards the child. We should all rise as one person to remedy the situation and rescue the child from  further devastation.

.This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda


Friday, 19 October 2012

From my Kitchen

From My Kitchen Diary
 It has been quite sometime  that nothing has  appeared from My Kitchen Diary.  Some friends  have specifically  asked for  recipes   for making Pakoras . Many people complain that the Pakoras  they make are not crisp. If  you want really   crisp Pakoras , you have to follow the method given below.
   Pakoras are normally taken in the evening with tea.  But just as  any  time is  tea time, similarly any time is Pakora time. To make tasty and crisp  pakoras we need;-
  1.Besan(Gram flour)  1/2 cup
  2.Maida(refined flour ) 1 cup
  3. Pumpkin  ½ kg.  Sliced into square  shape
  4. Salt    As per taste
  5.Chaat Masala  1 tsp
  6  Jeera       I pinch

  7. Coriander leaves  two twigs
  8. Baking powder   ½ tsp
  9 Oil for frying.
Method ;-
  In a bowl mix besan  and maida,  and add the baking powder.Pour water and mix very well.Ensure that no lumps are  formed.  The batter should be of the consistency of a dosai. Add jeera,coriander leaves, salt and chaat masala.In the end  dip the pumpkin slices( few at a time).  In the meantime keep the  oil on the gas and allow it to become hot. When the  oil  is hot,  slightly reduce the heat and fry  the pumpkin slices one by one  till they  are  brown . Remove from the fire very carefully  so that  the oil  is drained out.  Sprinkle chaat masala  over the  pakoras. Serve with mint chutney, tomato chutney or tartar  sauce .
We can make Pakoras with many vegetables.The vegetables commonly used are potatoes, cauliflower,paneer etc. You can prepare pakoras with some lesser known vegetables such as  lotus stem(bhey), spinach leaves, bell peppers  and many more by using your creativity and imagination.  
 Here are some tips for the kitchen
1.  If too much salt is added  by mistake in chicken or  mutton  cut one potato , add it  to  the gravy and boil again for a couple of minutes. Discard the potato.
2.  If we keep a small piece of bread in a jar of cookies  or cake, they will remain fresh  for  quite sometime
3.  When preparing dough for rotis(specially when we are  travelling and carrying food)add some milk. The rotis will remain fresh.
4.  If we want to have crisp potatoes, we can  sprinkle some salt on them before frying.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Grand Mother's Musings

“A garden  of love grows in  the grandmothers  heart.”These are the famous words of an unknown  author. While  going  through a news paper I came across the  quotation  mentioned above, which immediately caught my  attention. I read them again  and again.The more I read these words, the more  deeply they  moved  my heart. How true  are these words!!  Each petal, each stem and  each bud growing in the grandmother’s heart  is fully drenched in the love and affection of her grand children!!

Becoming   grandparents  is  an honour,  a reward and a  wonderful repast.  I personally feel that  the arrival of  a grand child is  much more rejuvenating  and fulfilling, than when your own child is born. In olden days the grandparents were not  so much involved in the upbringing of the grand  child. With the passage of time  the grand parents  have been  placed  on a   higher  pedestal. The grandmothers are now educated and   
mart . With the changing trends in society  more  and more housewives are taking up jobs  outside.The role and the importance of the grandmother  has  shot up manifold’.The children get closer to the granny. Many schools  have also realised the  special bond between the  GM(grand mother) and GC(grand child)
 I am a grand mom of four grown up grand children. All the four are now more than 18 years and above. I remember  how each and every  innocent  prank of  these little ones made  us ecstatic. I recall that I used to be invited  to various schools   as chief guest . Occasionally I used to take my elder  grand daughter  with me.She was  very fond of dancing(even now she loves to dance). She had no inhibitions.In the midst of some dance,she would jump down from the  dais  and join the  children  performing  on the stage. There was great applause   in the  hall. When we   delve into the past,we feel thrilled   by recalling their  innocent actions and talks. The younger grand daughter  used to go to school by a taxi.She wanted to sit by the side of a window but the other girls  would overpower her.  One day she came home crying. (I cannot see small children crying) .  She told us that nobody allows her to sit near the window. My husband  told her  something, which made her laugh  whole heartedly. Next day she announced  in the  taxi ”my grand pa  eats  small  girls for  breakfast.” All the children   were terrified and tried to  hide in the back seat. How innocent are small children!! The next day onward  our little one  got the window seat.  After some  days my husband   told all those baby girls that  he does not eat children   and that they were all good girls and  should be friendly with everyone. He gave toffees to those children. This assurance  made them happy
W e have two grand sons. We love them . The elder one  is brilliant. He loves to participate in Quiz competitions He has travelled far and wide  and brought several awards. He achieved Ist rank in the PMT(pre medical  test) and made the family proud. The younger one is very  creative. Once  his school organised  Grand parents  day.  While other children left their grand parents  alone our little  child proved to be a very good host. This child  is  very responsible  right from childhood. When he was three years old,  he went to US with his parents.He was very particular about the safety  of the Passports and  ensured that the  Passports were  safe in his custody.  How cute!!             

We are very proud of our grand children.They are also  very fond of us. Their love and affection for us  sustains us.  I close this post with  the remarks made by our two elder grandchildren  in my book’The Reverse Gear’ about me.

My granddaughter proclaimed that I have  silver in my hair and gold in  my  heart. And my grandson observed that I was  getting better  with age….. also  my  technological skill and sharpness of mind was increasing.
 May God Bless Them.