Thursday, January 28, 2010

Recipe: NELLIKKAAI URUGAAI (Amla Pickle)

आमला (நெல்லிக்காய்) is Indian gooseberry. This particular berry never loses its nutrition whichever way you cook it. It tastes delicious pickled.


நெல்லிக்காய் - Amla – ½ kg
Water – 1 cup
Salt – 2-2 ½ tsp
Chilli Powder – 3 tsp
Turmeric Powder – ¾ tsp
பெருங்காயம் - Asafoetida Powder (हिंग) – ¾ tsp
Roasted and powdered வெந்தயம் (Methi) – 1 tsp
கடுகு - Mustard (राइ) – 1 tsp
நல்லெண்ணெய் - Sesame Oil – ½ cup (Idhayam brand preferred as I find that very fresh)


Wash the amla thoroughly. Place them in a pressure cooker, add water, salt and turmeric powder and cook for 2 whistles. Allow it to cool before breaking them into segments and removing seeds. Keep the water aside.

Take a saucepan and heat the oil before adding mustard seeds. Once they crackle add the amla boiled water, then the amla. Stir well and cook for a couple of minutes on medium flame before adding the chilli powder, asafoetida and methi powder. Mix well and allow it to cook on low flame for one more minute before switching off the gas.

The pickle is ready to eat with rotis or curd rice.

Warning: The pickle does not last beyond a week. To last longer, store in refrigerator.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Film Review: VEER Salman Khan

Cast: Salman Khan, Mithun Chakraborty, Jackie Shroff, Zarine Khan, Neena Gupta, Sohail Khan
Director: Anil Sharma

The Story:
The film is set in the 1860s when the British had established the English colony in India and hoped to take over the whole country. While many of the Indian kings including the ruler of Madhavgarh (Jackie Shroff) had taken the side of the British, the strong and rough Pindaris were keen to take a stand.

Prithvi Singh (Mithun Chakraborty) chops away the Madhavgarh king’s fore arm when he finds out that his tribe has been betrayed. The British cannons blow away a number of their men at this point. That’s when Prithvi swears to bring justice.

Twenty-five years later, Veer (Salman Khan), Prithvi’s son, is trained to take on the might of the British. Veer and his brother Punya (Sohail Khan) are sent to London to be educated. Veer meets Yashodhara (Zarine Khan) for the second time and gives his heart to her.

It is later that he finds out that Yashodhara is the daughter of his father Prithvi’s worst enemy and the Princess of Madhavgarh. The film goes on to show whether Prithvi is able to keep his promise to his tribesmen and whether Veer gets married to the love of his life.

Our Perception:
The film has been shot superbly, the cinematography nothing short of exotic. The historic scenes come to life in the many settings in the guise of the forts, the battlefields and the tribal get-togethers. The grandeur of colours and costumes are totally convincing.

The film is sure to bring joy to Salman fans. He has become quite fit and done total justice to the part of Veer. There were a few minutes that got me worried when the brothers land in London and Veer starts singing in the streets. At that point, I was quite sure that the film was going to the dogs. But luckily, it was but a dream sequence and the film picks of from there. Salman has already proved his prowess in romantic scenes in movies like Maine Pyar Kiya and Hum Aapke Hai Kaun? This is just another feather in his cap as he is subtlety personified in the romantic sequences.

Mithun Chakraborty is superb in his role as the tribal leader of the Pindaris and as Veer’s father. A special kudos to the veteran!

Sohail Khan’s acting is like a persistent fly that keeps irritating you however hard you try to ignore it or push it away. He does all his roles in exactly the same way, speaks in the same fashion and has the same expression. If he seriously believes that he is adding to the comedy quotient, he needs his head examined.

Zarine Khan – well, many of the reviews have insisted that she is fat or plump. Are people blind? If you tend to compare her to the pencil thin Katrina Kaif, yeah, Zarine might be called plump. But otherwise, she is quite alright. The young women of today are keen to have reed thin figures and are ready to starve themselves for the same. But here we are talking about history set 150 years ago. Zarine Khan looks very good in the part and she can act. I cannot say the same for Katrina Kaif even though she is extremely popular due more to her British accent. Zarine has a role that has very few words to say and she has to rely totally on her facial expression and she has played the part of Yashodhara really well.

The only problem with the film is that it has been released at the wrong time. There is a mood that plays with film goers. Today, the trend is more towards sci-fi, horror and violence. A romance or a historical one at that is bound to take a back-seat and will not be able to receive as good a response as it could have otherwise. A film-maker needs to keep the trend very much in mind before creating a movie.

Otherwise, the movie itself has been so well made, the editing just right. There were no dragged out sequences and the music was also very good.

To see or not to see: It’s worth a watch on the big screen if you a Salman fan or if you like history.
Rating: ***Smart

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

Friday, January 22, 2010

Food Review: PIZZA HUT @ FORT

I saw this lovely picture of hot soups on the Hyderabad page of burrp and decided that I wanted to have soup last night. My son wanted pizza and so we all decided to go to pizza hut.

Flop show 1: There was a choice of two veg soups and since I am not too fond of mushrooms we opted for the tomato and basil one. It obviously came out of a can while the basil was burnt. Luckily for us, they offered to take it back, but there was no more stock of tomato soup. And while my husband and my son had chicken soup, I just watched on. :(

Flop show 2: We ordered a number of starters, out of which only the garlic bread exotica was good. Potato crispy was okay; cheese tortilla is not worth talking about and the nachos and salsa was just plain horrible. The nachos were definitely from a packet and old stock at that.

Flop show 3: My husband had a cold and so asked for hot lemon tea. The waiter brought a cup and saucer, hot water in a jug, a tea bag, a container with packets of milk powder, sugar and sweetener and a tray with lemon wedges. I requested him to make the tea. He added water, placed the tea bag within, added sugar, milk powder and squeezed the lemon into it. He gave a spoon to my husband and asked him to stir and drink it and left. My husband was startled to see a kind of fermentation and asked me what was going on. The milk powder had curdled. They were all profusely apologetic and brought him another cup of tea made properly, etc. But what the hell!

Plus point 1: The pizzas we ordered, cheesy bites with fiery vegetables and garden fresh vegetables were both very good. The place is a pizza joint, so be careful and avoid everything else.

Plus point 2: The service was just awesome!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


This is a side dish that works both with roti or rice. Ahem! I created it :)


Ivy Gourd - கோவக்காய் - थिनडली - ½ kg (cut length-wise)
Chickpeas - கொத்து கடலை – चन्ना (white or brown) - 200 gm (soaked overnight)
Oil - 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - கடுகு - राइ - 1 tsp
Black gram - உளுத்தம் பருப்பு - उरद डाल - 2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 pinch
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves - chopped
Optional - Onions - 3 (finely chopped)

For Masala:

Channa dal - கடலை பருப்பு - 3 tbsp
Coriander seeds - தனியா - सुक्का धनिया - 3 tbsp
Red chillies - 6
White sesame seeds - எள்ளு - तिल - 2 tbsp
Coconut - ½ cup (grated)
Tamarind - புளி - इमली - 3 strips


Take the chickpeas and water in one vessel, the washed kovakkai in a strainer. Place one on top of the other and pressure cook for ten minutes on slow gas after the first whistle.
Masala: Take a saucepan and add a spoon of oil to it. On heating, add the channa dal and shallow fry. When it becomes golden in colour add coriander seeds. When that turns red, add the sesame seeds and once that crackles add the red chillies. Turn around the chillies and add the grated coconut and roast till a light brown. All these to be done on a slow fire only. Cool the mixture, add tamarind and grind it dry to a coarse powder.

Add oil to the saucepan and crackle mustard in it. Then add the black gram and once that is red, add the drained chickpeas and vegetable to it. Cook them with salt and turmeric powder on a slow fire. After five minutes add the ground masala and mix well. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with rotis or rice.

If you are using onions, add the chopped onions after the black gram turns red and add the chickpeas and ivy gourd after the chopped onions turn golden brown. Tastes delicious either way!

Monday, January 18, 2010


The 28th Rose Convention was held at the Kalina University Campus over this weekend. The university grows 221 varieties of roses or so I heard. I never got to see them when I went there for the show.
Special types of roses were entered in the contest from 20 states of India. I went on Saturday afternoon. Mrs. Kavita Vinod Khanna was the chief guest who arrived just then. Luckily, the viewing of the flowers and the formal programme continued simultaneously without any break.
There were about ten pots of rose plants placed outside in the garden. There were single roses and those in clusters in a myriad of colours, looking just gorgeous.
I learned quite a number of new terms while viewing the display in the main hall.
Rose Polyantha is a small plant that will cover itself with trusses of tiny blossoms.
Rose Floribunda are those flowers that grow in clusters.
Hybrid Tea Roses are the most popular in the world. They are a cross between hybrid perpetuals and old fashioned tea roses and are rose royalty.
There were more than a hundred roses that had been part of this contest. They looked gorgeous – the abovementioned varieties, single roses, bunches, roses in different stages of bloom and what colours! There were very many shades of white, cream, yellows, orange, vermillion, red, green (yeah, there were green roses too) and pink. There were combos too that were a visual treat.
One cream coloured bloom was a wide as at least three inches. I was zapped!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


HAPPY PONGAL to all my readers!

This is the harvest festival celebrated all over the country.
In the South: Four days are dedicated to the celebration of Pongal in South India, especially Tamil Nadu. The celebration is at the maximum in the villages and towns where farmers live.

Day One is called Bogi Pandigai when all old and unwanted stuff that has accumulated while cleaning up the house are burnt in a huge fire early in the morning. A special brunch is prepared and the family gets together and eat it after prayers.

Day Two is Pongal (Makar Sankranti), the day dedicated specially to the Sun God or Surya Bhagavan. It is to thank the Sun for the role he plays in agriculture – how he shines and brings forth the rains on time. Freshly harvested rice is combined with fresh moong dal (பயத்தம் பருப்பு) and along with fresh jaggery, ghee and cardamom, Sweet Pongal (சர்க்கரை பொங்கல்) is prepared as prasadam. The villagers usually get together and prepare this together in the village square or in a temple compound. Freshly harvested sugarcane is also served as prasadam.

Day Three
called Mattu Pongal is set aside for the domestic animals that help out in the farms, namely cows and bulls. The morning begins with feeding the crows with a feast consisting of rice coloured with haldi and kumkum, sweet pongal and curd rice with pieces of sugar cane thrown in. Then a special lunch consisting of mixed rice such as புளியோதரை (Tamarind Rice), தேங்காய் சாதம் (Coconut Rice) and அவியல் (A mix of vegetables in coconut gravy) are prepared for lunch along with fried vadams and pappadams. Those who have cows at home, decorate their horns, put garlands on their necks and worship them. Jallikattu - ஜல்லிக்கட்டு (Bull fight) is a form of sport that happens in the villages. It is a form of sport that has been followed over many centuries in the South of India. Unlike the Spanish bull fights, neither the humans nor animals are harmed, weapons are not used and there is always help at hand.

Day Four - The final day is all about going on a picnic. The villagers set out in their bullock carts. They deck up in finery while the carts and bullocks are also decorated beautifully and they set out for a long ride to a river or lake nearby and spend the day there relaxing under the shade of trees and playing games. They carry lunch baskets along with them that they get together and eat with great merriment. A well-deserved break indeed to the farmer and his family!

In the North: The festival is called Makar Sankranti and is celebrated in gratitude of a good harvest. Til-gud – a sweet made of sesame and jaggery – is a very important ingredient of the fest. Both items give warmth to the person eating them and are therefore ideal for the winter season. Then there is the flying of exotic kites that is followed especially in towns and villages.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Cast: Uday Chopra, Priyanka Chopra, Anupam Kher, Dino Morea, Advika Yadav
Director: Jugal Hansraj

Alisha (Priyanka Chopra) and Abhay (Uday Chopra) are both students at a California University. While she is revered as the beauty queen of the college, Abhay is a geek who goes unnoticed most of the time. Abhay loves Alisha and hopes to catch her eye one of these days. The lucky day comes when a drunken Alisha falls into a lake and our geek-hero jumps in to save her life. But unfortunately for Abhay, Alisha does not get a chance to even thank him or see his face before her father removes her from the university.

Seven years later, Abhay lives in Mumbai with his father (Anupam Kher). He has created a software that could be used on all kinds of PCs and mobiles. Before he could get around to marketing it, the suave Varun Sanghvi (Dino Morea) steals it from him. Soon, Abhay gets news of his software being brought to the market by a company in Singapore. He rushes there at his father’s behest and sees the divorced, single mom Alisha of all people. The rest of the film is all about whether Abhay gets back his software and gets together with the woman of his dreams.

Uday Chopra is good in his role as a geek who is in love with the beauty queen. Priyanka is sizzzzzzling hot! She looks awesome, with a fantabulous figure and her acting is excellent too. Young Advika Yadav as the little Tanya – Alisha’s six-year-old daughter – has done a creditable job.

The storyline is nothing new and there is nothing different or unique about the film. It is just a fun watch and the best part is that it is only two hours long. The songs flow with the film without interrupting or clashing in any way.

Verdict: The film is good and worth a see.

Rating: *** Smart

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

Thursday, January 7, 2010


This is one of my own creations and tastes awesome, even if I say so myself! Do try it out and I promise you that you will not be disappointed.


Green chillies – ½ kg (Choose those that are large, not spicy and generally used for making bhajias and cut them lengthwise into two)
White Til (Sesame seeds) – ½ cup
Methi seeds – 3 tsp
Red chillies – 6-8
Hing (Asafoetida) – ¾ tsp
Haldi (turmeric powder) – ½ tsp
Salt – 3 tsp
Til Oil – 1 cup (Idhayam Sesame Oil should be ideal)
Rai – 1 tsp
Juice from four lemons


Take a saucepan and roast the sesame seeds till they crackle. Keep them on a plate to cool. Next, roast the methi seeds till brown in colour and add the red chillies to them. Turn around a few times and add to the cooling sesame seeds. Once they are cool, grind them to the consistency of rava in the mixer.

Add the oil to the pan and heat it. Add rai and allow it to crackle before adding the cut green chillies. Keep the flame low and fry the chillies adding salt, hing and haldi. When the chillies are half-fried, switch the gas off and add the powdered masala and mix well. Add the lemon juice and mix again. The delicious Green Chilly Pickle is ready to eat.

Why use Sesame oil and none other?

Sesame (Til) oil tends to cool the system. I have noticed one thing about traditional recipes. They have ingredients that balance one another. I have tried to adopt this method to make this pickle. Chillies are heating while sesame seeds, sesame oil and methi seeds are cooling. Rai and hing take care of the digestion while turmeric and salt act as preservatives. Red chillies and lemon juice add to the flavour.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Film Review: 3 IDIOTS share the last laugh!

Cast: Aamir Khan, Madhavan, Sharman Joshi, Kareena Kapoor, Boman Irani, Omi Vaidya
Director: Rajkumar Hirani

The film is loosely based on Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone or so I heard. I have yet to read the novel to relate to this.

The Story: Farhan Qureshi (Madhavan) stops an Air India flight by feigning a heart attack. He wants to rush to meet Rancho (Aamir Khan), his college buddy. He calls Raju (Sharman Joshi), another friend, and rushes to meet Rancho whom they have not heard from over the past few years. The two friends rush to the top of the college tower only to meet Chatur Ramalingam aka Silencer (Omi Vaidya), the smart-aleck they used to hate. It has been ten years since college and Silencer wants to show off his success. When threatened, he offers to take Farhan and Raju in search of Rancho. A large part of the rest of the film is shown in flashback over their college days and the balance in their search for Rancho. How they find him and what Rancho has become forms the end of the plot.

In the end it was the 3 Idiots who share the last laugh!

Our Perception: The film has been very well made with the plot keeping you fixed to your seats despite being three hours long. A couple of songs may have been avoided. Aamir has done an excellent job, but then so have Sharman and Madhavan. Boman Irani as Veeru Sahasrabudhe aka Virus has done a super job. His make-up and lisping have gone a long way in ensuring that the role is not the same as that of Dr, Asthana in Munnabhai MBBS. Kareena was okay as Pia. I would award the first prize to Omi Vaidya as Chatur Ramalingam. The guy was just fantastic – he did not seem to act but to walk through his role.

By the time this blog is up, most of the Mumbai population must have seen the film at least once or twice. I am glad in a way as I can go ahead and write anything about the film without spoiling anyone’s fun.

The delivery scene was over-the-top but then again, truth can be stranger then fiction.

Most of the people I know thought the movie was damned funny. I agree to a point. But beyond that, I would say, it was a very thought-provoking film and I cried quite a bit in a few scenes. Especially the one when a student plays the guitar wishing that he could live life once again with different choices. It was heartbreaking to see it more because it is so true in today’s society. I have seen so many youngsters forced to study subjects that they never want to. Worse is not being allowed to pursue the career that one adores. I sincerely wish that people would not just see the jokes but look beyond to what, I am sure, the director was trying to say.

Education for the sake of learning VS getting marks is a subject close to my heart. I am glad that more people will become aware of this after seeing Aamir Khan saying it on screen. Another one that touched the heart was when Rancho explains ‘machine’ in simple language while Silencer rattles off a book definition and the teacher’s reactions to both. Totally realistic!

I only wish that the ragging had not been shown as if it is the best that could happen to one at college. The scene also was very similar to the one in Munnabhai MBBS. I was under the impression that this is not permitted in colleges nowadays.

The best scene was probably the speech given in Hindi by Silencer. It was just hilarious. I have copy-pasted the speech for your reading pleasure, thanks to my friend Diti.

Adarniya sabhapati mahodaya …atithi vishesh shikshan mantri shri R D tripati [tripathi] ji ..maanyaniya shikshagan aur mere piyaaare [pyare] sahpatiyo [sahapathiyon] …aaj agar I.C.E aasmaan ki bulaaandiyo [bulandiyon] ko chhu raahaa [raha] hai uska shreya sirrf [sirf] ekinsaan [ek insaan] ko jaataahai [jata hai] shri veerusahastra buddhe ..give him a a big hand ..he is a great guy really .. Peechle buttis saal se inhone nirantar is college mein balatkar [balaatkaar ] pe balatkar kiye ..umeed hai aagey bee [bhi] karte rahege [rahenge] ..hamine to aashcharya hota hai ki ek insaan apne jeevan kaal mein itni balatkar kaisi kar sakta hai …inhone kadi tapaasya se apne aapko is kaabil bunaya [banaya] hai ..waqt ka sahi upyog ghante ka purna istemaal koi inse seeke [seekhe] ..seeke inse seeke ….aaj hum sab chaatra yaha hai ..kal desh videsh mein fail [faael] jayenge ..waadaa hai aapse jis desh mein honge waha balatkar karenge I.C.E ka naam roshan karenge …dika [dikha] denge sabko jo balatkar Karne ki shamtaa yaha ke chaatro mein hai wo sansaar ke kisi chaatro mein nahiii ….No other chaatra No other chaatra Adarniya mantraji namashkar aapne is sansthaan ko wo chees di jiski hamein sakht zaroorat thi ...sstunn ..stunn hota sabi [sab hi] ke paas hai ..sab chupa ke rakte hai ..detaa koi nai …aapne apna stun is balatkari purush ke haat mein diya hai…ab dekiye yeh kaisa iska upyog karta hai.. Sloke..... Utamamm dadh dhadhattt padam…….. madhyam padam thuchuk thuchuk…….. khanishtham thudthudiiiy padam…….. sursuria pran khatkam..!!!!

: Definitely worth a watch. I went for a late night show and was wide awake throughout the film.

Rating: ****Snazzy

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

Monday, January 4, 2010

Sharing: HAPPY NEW YEAR 2010!

Yeah, I am aware it is the 4th day of January 2010 and this blog should have been in place four days ago. Well, I thought that it is only four days since the New Year began and since we still have 361 days to go… why not?

To begin with, I wish all my readers a Terrific 2010!

The past few years have brought on a lot of pressure on all human beings around the world, what with accidents, calamities, economic crises, water shortage, etc. etc. etc. Then there was the film ‘2012’ that must have dashed the flickering hopes of most of the people who saw it.

Well, we are on a roller coaster ride towards a tremendous change that is happening on the Earth. We are living in a special time when the planet and we, those living on it, are undergoing a dramatic change – FOR THE BETTER – and we are the luckier ones as we have seen the worst and will be seeing the best there is.

So, put on your seatbelts, hold on tight and do not give up hope – 2010 is the beginning of great times to come.