Friday, October 16, 2009


One more festival in the long line of celebrations that have been running over three months in a row. And Deepavali is the best of all – a time to celebrate, make merry, visit relatives and friends, a time for giving, one for sharing, wearing new clothes, buying gold and other assets, eat sweets and savouries, burst crackers – let me catch my breath – and whatever you all want to do. The idea is to enjoy and be happy.

The Legend the North Indian way:

Lord Rama slew Ravana of Lanka and rescued Sita Devi from his clutches and that occasion is celebrated as Dassera. Just after the war, Rama, Lakshmana and Sita complete their fourteen years of exile outside the home country of Ayodhya. Lord Rama’s triumphant return to Ayodhya is celebrated as Deepavali. The people were overjoyed to have the rightful heir to the throne return to take up the reins.

How Deepavali came about in South India?

Narakasura was a demon who was born to Bhumi Devi or the Goddess of Earth. He performed severe penances and became very powerful. So much so, that he threatened the city of Indra. He battles with the King of Devas and wins over his crown. A petrified Indra goes to Lord Krishna and seeks his help. The Lord went into battle with the asura and after a long fight, cut of his head with the Sudarshana Chakra. The dying Narakasura requested Lord Krishna to grant him the boon that his death day would be celebrated as Deepavali. This is the day when good triumphs over evil and the people celebrate it by taking a Ganga Snan – a ritual oil bath – early in the morning. The Lord had promised that the divine River Ganges will flow through all the water ways on that day. People wear new clothes, light a number of lamps, burst crackers and eat sweets to celebrate the end of the demoniac era.


One more easy-to-make sweet recipe that you can relish this Diwali! Another recipe from my Grandma’s kitchen! :)

Rava – 3 cups
Sugar – 2 cups (ground to a fine powder)
Ghee – ½ cup
Elaichi – 8 (peeled and powdered)
Kaju – 6 (broken into small pieces)


Take a saucepan and add two spoons of ghee to it. Once heated, add the rava and roast it in the ghee till golden brown in colour. Stir continuously to ensure that the rava is evenly roasted. Cool the rava and grind it to a coarse powder.

Mix the powdered rava and sugar and add the elaichi powder to it. Heat the rest of the ghee and fry the broken kaju in it and add the whole thing to the rava ladoo mix.

Mix well and mould into round balls the size of lemons. The delicious Rava Ladoo is ready to eat now. Have a wonderful Diwali, one and all!


We can’t just manage with the sweet, can we? So try out this salt item that is easy to prepare and yummy too!


Rice flour – 3 cups
Besan flour – 1 cup
White butter – 1 cup
Water – as required
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying


Take a flat vessel and add the two flours and salt to it. Mix it lightly before adding the butter and mix well. Then add water and mix into dough the consistency of that you make for rotis. Heat oil in a saucepan. Use a hand-press (check out picture) to squeeze the dough in the requisite shape – that of ribbons – directly into the hot oil. Be careful so that the steam rising from the saucepan does not hurt you. Wait for a few moments for the pakoda to fry before turning it over to fry the other side. The oil stops bubbling once the pakoda is cooked. Make sure that it is cooked to a nice golden brown colour and does not become too brown. That is the right time to remove it and place it on a tray lined with paper towel. Store it in an air-tight container once the ribbon pakoda is cooled. The crunchy Ribbon Pakoda tastes delicious with Godhumai Halwa or with tea or coffee.


Otherwise known as Wheat Halwa, this is one of my favourite sweets. I remember my grandmother, Pattu Paatti, making this so many times. After all these years, while I handle my kitchen, I appreciate the way in which Paatti took care while cooking anything. I used to think that she took too much tension. Looking back, I realise that it was not tension but a load of respect to the process of creating a dish. Thank you Paatti, for making me aware of the value of great cooking!


Wheat – 1 cup (soaked in water for about 4 hours)
Water – 2-3 cups
Sugar – 2 ½ cups
Elaichi (Cardamom) – 6 (peeled and powdered)
Kesar – a little
Badam, Kaju, Pista – 3 each (sliced into slivers)
Kesar colour – 1 pinch
Ghee – 1 cup


Grind the soaked wheat along with water into a fine paste and strain the white milk through a tea strainer or a fine cloth. Grind for 3-4 times till the milk extract is quite thin. Keep the thick milk in one vessel and the last thin one separately.

Take a steel plate or tray and apply ghee to the surface and keep aside. Shallow fry the dry fruit slivers till they are crisp.

Take a thick-bottomed vessel (a pressure cooker or pan can be used) and add the sugar and a cup of water to it. Heat it on the gas till the sugar dissolves. Filter the sugar water before heating it again till it thickens to the consistency of honey. Keep the flame low and add the thick wheat milk extract while stirring non-stop. Add half a cup of ghee while stirring the mixture as it thickens. Make sure that it does not get stuck to the bottom of the vessel. Stir continuously while adding kesar colour, kesar and elaichi powder. The mixture must be quite thick now. Add the thin milk and mix in well. Add the rest of the ghee, fried dry fruits and cook till the mixture begins to leave the sides.

Pour the hot halwa mixture on to the prepared steel tray. Wait for the mixture to cool for a while before cutting the halwa into squares.

You can have the delicious melt-in-the-mouth halwa immediately or wait for Diwali morning!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Film Review: WANTED

Cast: Salman Khan, Ayesha Takia, Vinod Khanna, Prakash Raj, Mahesh Manjrekar
Director: Prabhu Deva

Well, what to say – it’s better late than never. I know it’s almost a month since the release of this Salman Khan starrer. But what the hell, I saw it after I heard so much of praise for the film from some of my friends. I played it safe.

Radhe (Salman Khan) is a loafer who also doubles as an assassin. He belongs to no group and plays for himself. He is always ready to kill for money. The higher the bidder, the more enthusiastic is Radhe. He is clear that he will never touch women or children. Into this highly-principled man’s life comes Jahnvi (Ayesha Takia), a beautiful young lady working for a call centre. She lives with her widowed mother and young brother. Jahnvi is from a middle-class background and she falls for the handsome uneducated Radhe. But she is shocked to find out how violent he is. Whether the two of them will get together and why Radhe is what he is forms the rest of the plot.

From the promos that I had seen on television, I was convinced the film would be too violent for me. That is why I refused to go near a theatre during the release. There is quite a bit of violence, but nothing that you cannot take. The film is woven with a lot of comedy and that was the best part. That’s when I realised that many of the Bollywood flicks have enforced comedy that runs parallel to the main plot. This copy of the Tamil flick Pokiri has excellent comedy and the timing is just awesome. This could make all the difference to a film.

Like, even the villain, played by Prakash Raj, has many funny moments. Not that they make him seem ridiculous or any the less dangerous. That was the best part of it. Salman Khan’s comeback is definitely worth a watch. He plays the role of a guy who must be in his thirties and he has done it so well. Welcome back, Salman!

Ayesha Takia was cute and plump and she could act too – in that order. Prakash Raj was awesome and Vinod Khanna was good. Mahesh Manjrekar as the bad police man has done his role so well that you want to kill him with your bare hands. Kudos!

Verdict: Definitely worth a watch. If it is too late to find the film in theatres near you, I am sure the DVD will be out soon.

Rating: ****

* Silly
** Shaky
*** Smart
**** Snazzy
***** Super


Rakshita, this one is for you!

This is a common recipe from typical South Indian households. Any changes from the regular recipe are my own. A hot cup of rasam during the monsoons tastes out of this world. It is also very good for the stomach. A diluted version of this is served at five-star restaurants as mulgitawni soup. I suppose they mean milagu thanni (pepper water, literally) :)


Tamarind – a small ball the size of a lemon. Soak it in hot water and squeeze the syrup and extract two cups of tamarind water and keep aside.
கடலை பருப்பு  - Channa dal – 1 tsp
தனியா - Dhania – 1 tbsp
மிளகு - Pepper – 1 tsp
ஜீரகம் - Jeera – 1 tsp
கிராம்பு - Cloves - 2
வெத்த மிளகாய் - Red Chillies – 2
பூண்டு - Garlic – 10-15 cloves (optional)
Ghee – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1 pinch
கடுகு - Rai – ½ tsp
Curry leaves – a few
Salt to taste


Take a vessel and pour the tamarind extract into it. Add salt and turmeric and keep on the gas to boil. Take a sauce-pan and add half a spoon of ghee to it. Shallow fry the channa dal and as it turns golden, add the dhania and when that turns a light red, add pepper, jeera, cloves and red chillies and roast them for a minute. If you are using garlic, add them at this point and shallow fry till golden in colour. Otherwise turn the gas off. Cool the masala and grind it as a powder and add to the tamarind mix that has boiled for at least 7-8 minutes. Bring the mixture to a boil and add water – about 3-4 cups should be fine. Wait for the mixture to boil and taste the same and add more salt or water if necessary. Crackle the rai and curry leaves in the balance ghee and add to the rasam. Drink the rasam in a soup bowl or add to white rice and relish the same.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


I know it sounds pretty self-involved talking about my birthday celebrations. But I have to share this with one and all.

I had the biggest surprise of my life when a group of friends from WEB 18 barged into our section - Nicky, Sagina, Nilima, Shilpa, Vaishali and Chaitanya - in the evening around 4 pm. They were loudly singing Happy Birthday and almost had me blushing.

They were armed with a fruit cake from Mongini's, a knife and a camera. What more could a birthday woman ask for?

They sang wildly while they made me cut the cake, fed it to me, ate some themselves, helped themselves to the chocolate bars (tiny ones) on my desk, wished me loudly, caught me on camera a number of times and burrped loudly before I shooed them away.

They made my birthday absolutely memorable. Thank you Guys! :D


It was Pankaj Udhas' ghazals on Monday, September 28, 2009 on Dassera day. Venkat and I were really looking forward to it and reached the MMRDA Grounds along with Pooja and Maya quite early to get good seats.

We reached there and got into the fourth row too and were mighty excited. The programme began with Udhas singing the song Zamana karaab hai. It was nice and after this he spoke about how he has been singing for over thirty years. He also explained the lyrics before every song and gave due respect to the poet who had written them.

I liked best the explanation he gave about Nazam - stories that are written in the form of poetry in Urdu and sometimes in Hindi. It contains four verses or bandh. The first speaks about daada-pardaada, the second about the father, the third about oneself and the fourth about the forthcoming generation. The nazam that Udhasji sang for us spoke about the first generation living in mud houses and working on the farm while leading satisfied lives. The second generation lives in brick houses and worked in offices. The present generation lives in bungalows and races by in huge cars but are not so happy with their lives. The poet hopes that the future generation would lead a happy, peaceful and satisfied life. All this came across in the lyrics as Pankaj Udhas sang Dukku sukku ek sabka... ek o bi tha zamana, ek yeh bi hai zamana. It was beautiful.

Jiyo tho jiye kaise... bin aapke is what I liked the best. The artist did sing the much-awaited and eagerly-looked-forward-to song Mohe aayi na jug se laaj main itna zor se naachi aaj, ki ghungroo toot gaye but the background music was too loud and Udhas' voice was buried under. Sad!

Overall, the show was good with the flautist and tabla-artist playing exceptionally well.