Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I am sure all of you have heard of Sambar, the delicious gravy from South India. Well, I am calling the new version Neo Sambar for want of a better name. The basics for this I had learned from my friend Asha who lives in Africa now. She is a Gujju who keeps experimenting with many variants of sambar. I improvised on what I learnt from her and this is the result. It is easier and faster to prepare as it saves one from cooking Tur dal in a pressure cooker. Believe me, this saves at least 30 minutes of the cooking time.


Tamarind – 1 ball the size of a big lemon
Onion – 1 (medium-sized, chopped)
Tomato – 1 (small, chopped)
Fresh Peas – 100 gm
Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
Oil – 3 tsp
Mustard – ½ tsp
Curry Leaves – a few
Coriander Leaves – 2 tsp (chopped)

Sambar Masala:

Channa dal – 2 tsp
Tur dal – 2 tsp
Urad dal – 2 tsp
Dhaniya – 3 tsp
Methi Seeds – ½ tsp
Black Pepper – 6
Red Chillies – 8
Garlic – 4-5 cloves (optional)
Scraped Coconut – 3 tbsp (optional)


Take a thick-bottomed steel vessel and keep it on the gas. Add a spoon of oil and after it heats, add chopped onions to it and shallow fry till golden. Now add the tomato, turmeric powder, salt and peas to it. Keep the gas flame slow and add the extracted tamarind water to the vegetables. Keeping the flame on medium, cook this mixture for about 7-8 minutes till the raw smell of tamarind leaves and the peas are cooked.

While the sambar is boiling, the masala can be readied. Take another spoon of oil in a small kadai and heat it. I have listed the masala ingredients in a particular order. Add these one-by-one in that order every 10 seconds or so as some of them brown faster than the others. Once the coconut is a golden brown, the masala is done. Wait for it to cool before making a coarse powder from it.

Add the masala to the cooking sambar and mix well. Let it boil for about 3 minutes. Add some water to bring it to the right consistency. Switch off the gas when the sambar boils for a minute.

Take the third spoon of oil in the kadai and heat it. Crackle the mustard seeds in it and switch off. Add curry leaves and chopped coriander leaves to this oil and mix. Now add this to the sambar. Adding the leaves to the hot oil will ensure that they don’t turn black after putting in the sambar.

Now relish the delicious sambar with hot rice or idlis. You will just love it!

Instead of or with peas, you can use yellow pumpkin, white pumpkin, drumstick, radish and/or carrots - all of them, any of them or any combination.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Cast: Ali Zafar, Praduman Singh, Sugandha Singh, Barry John, Nikhil Ratnaparkhi, Piyush Mishra, Rahul Singh, Seema Bhargava
Director: Abhishek Sharma

The film is a tongue-in-cheek take on the desperation the Bush administration showed in getting their hands on Osama Bin Laden and how the protagonist Ali uses this to his advantage.

The Story: Ali Hassan (Ali Zafar) from Pakistan has always dreamed of moving to Amreeka and settling down there as a reporter on NBC or CNN. He gets his visa and boards a flight to dreamland only to be deported after a chance incident on the flight. Ali returns home with his tail between his legs, but never stops dreaming.

Seven years hence, after his visa application rejected umpteen times, Ali is found working for a small time television channel. The unhappy Ali has still not given up on his American dream. Along with his friend and colleague Gul, he meets an agent who could arrange for a new passport and visa for a sum of 2 lakh.

Not having enough funds, a dejected Ali goes to make a report on a Cockerel fight. While editing the video, he is shocked to see that the owner of the winning cock is a Osama Bin Laden look-alike. What happens after that is to be seen to be believed. Catch the film to find out whether Ali ever moves to America.

My Perception: The low-key film runs for barely an hour and forty minutes. We went to the theatre without many expectations and were pleasantly surprised. It was a fun watch that had been directed and edited extremely well. All the actors have done their parts perfectly, right from Ali to Qureshi (Rahul Singh), the RJ who gives the voiceover for Osama.

The innocent looking Noora (Praduman Singh) who shakes up the US of A in a video footage has given a superb performance. It’s fascinating to watch the man interacting innocently with his hens and cockerels while on video he appears to be the vile Osama.

Sugandha Singh has a sizeable part as Zoya, the make-up artist and she has done a wonderful job. Nikhil Ratnaparkhi plays the sleepy Gul who is ready to follow in Ali’s footsteps wherever he leads him. His body language speaks for itself and makes the audience laugh every time he moves on screen.

Barry John as American officer Ted is an ideal fit for the role. One can well relate to Ted’s character as he does his best for the country with the sole purpose of improving his own status with the government.

If my memory serves me right, I last saw Rahul Singh (RJ Qureshi in this film) playing villain in the Karishma Kapoor starrer Zubeidaa. He plays the RJ Qureshi who hates America and all things American. Ali persuades Qureshi to give the Arabic voiceover to the Osama video and Rahul Singh fits the role perfectly.

The music by Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy needs to be mentioned as it complements the film beautifully. The songs and their lyrics are just right for the scenes and the tunes very catchy.

All in all, the casting is faultless and Kudos to Abhishek Sharma on this fun movie that has you laughing your heads off throughout.

VERDICT: It’s still running in the theatre folks. Do catch it! It’s most definitely worth a see.

RATING: **** Snazzy

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

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Last night it was the Shahid Kapoor-Vidya Balan starrer Kismat Konnection on Zee Cinema. While browsing channels, we landed here as there was nothing more interesting. We (my family) had already watched the film and decided to see it again for want of anything better to do. While criticising Vidya for her dressing sense (more like the lack of it) and her shabby hairstyle, we were enjoying Shahid and Vishal’s antics on screen when advertisements kept interrupting the film.

Fed up, my daughter connected the DVD and we continued to watch the film from were we left off on Zee Cinema. The billiards game was on and that’s why we were hooked. We went on to see the movie completely continuing to compliment Shahid while trashing Vidya Balan. While she is an excellent actor, the woman needs to take a lot more care about her appearance.
'Arre, just look in the bloody mirror before you step in front of the camera!' Anyone looking at her can see that the hair style, make-up and clothes are all wrong. I thought that probably the rats had taken a few bites at her tresses before she began the film – it looked that bad.

Despite the kind of ridiculous concept, we watched the film as very rarely do Vinitha and I give up in the middle of movies as we would rather see it till the end. Shahid was suave, smart and just walked through the film as if it was his birthright. The songs were a pleasure to listen too and we enjoyed Shahid’s dancing. I don’t even want to discuss Vidya’s chaniya choli during her engagement – the constricted top left me breathless, literally. I was holding my chest, feeling the pressure of her clothes on my heart.

Vinitha and I did not stop with Kismat Konnection. We went on to watch Jab We Met.

I have never caught this at the theatres and have always watched it in bits and pieces. Every time I catch the film at home, I see another piece of jigsaw falling in place. In the same way yesterday, I saw the film till the last half an hour was left. I did not want to see Geet’s personality take a dukbhari turn. I preferred to see Kareena’s over-the-top performance as the talkative Geet. The film was a total fun watch with Shahid beginning as a very serious businessman who is heartbroken over the love-of-his-life getting married to someone else. Later, in the company of Geet, Aditya transforms into a cheerful person who can see the lighter side of life.

The dialogues are all extremely well-written and the song and dance was just awesome. Overall, the film is extremely well put together and the two of us really enjoyed catching it on video. Having had our dinner at 9.30pm, it was time for a late night snack and it was Maggi-time at 2am.

An absolutely fun-filled Friday night, thanks to Shahid Kapoor!

Thursday, July 22, 2010


This is one of the most popular South Indian restaurants in Matunga. It is right there at the centre of the market. While service is quite fast, chances are that you would find a queue outside on most days. The restaurant opens at 5.30 am with fresh upma, sheera and idlis along with hot sambar and the yummiest coconut chutney.

The ambience is simple with comfortable tables and chairs. Not a place to hang out, it is where one can go to fill one’s tummy to the hilt by spending as less as 50-100 rupees. I had been to this place along with my family last Sunday. We had to wait 20 minutes to get a table.

Plus point 1: The service is always quick and efficient with the waiters keeping an eye out for the needs of customers without crowding them.

Plus point 2: The Mysore sada dosa, masala dosa, upma, pineapple sheera and tomato-onion uthappa that we ordered turned up fast, fresh and delicious. The accompanying sambar and chutney were also very fresh despite it being 9 pm. The special lasoon chutney that they serve with the Mysore dosa was too tasty for words.

Plus point 3: The sweet lassi that we ordered came in small bottles and was fresh.

Plus point 4: They also serve a variety of other snacks such as medhu vada, bhajjis, potato vada, a variety of dosas and more. I would recommend the kadi-vada there. The excellent taste is quite unique to this restaurant.

Plus point 5: You would always be quite happy to see your bill as it feels that is very less for what you have eaten.

Flop show 1: The wash area is between the kitchen and dining area and is always in a state of mess. May be it is difficult to keep it clean, but I wish they would provide tissues so that a trip there may be avoided.

A wonderful experience overall that I would not hesitate to repeat.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Jewels of Mumbai is a new section where I will bring to you some unique places of interest in Mumbai that are a must visit for even the locals. This will mostly be a photo feature that will speak for itself.

This one is about this Irani place at King Circle aka Maheshwari Udyan in Matunga. It is called Koolar Restaurant. Koolar is probably more than a century old and maintains an olde worlde charm that is totally appealing. This is one place where time stands still and one can while away the hours gossiping and relaxing over chai or the kickass Irish coffee that they serve.

The restaurant is set on the ground floor, facing King Circle. It has doors in all directions, making it very airy and cool. They serve the typical cuisine of Irani Cafes such as the distinctive Irani Chai, Bun maska, vegetable puff, chicken puff, cakes and the like. Breakfasts here are a joy for eggetarians with egg burji and omelettes being the specialties on offer.

The entrance to the Irani Restaurant with a glass case on one side displaying the many provisions that may also be purchased here.

The seating arrangement with square tables covered in pink and white chequered cloth and wooden chairs.

This is my son Vigneshkumar sitting near a long window with yet another ceiling to floor display case behind him.

Even as the place is quite large by Mumbai standards, one wall is taken up with mirrors, making it appear all the bigger.

The colourful cakes on display in a glass case in the front of Koolar Restaurant.

This clock was behind where the proprietor sits and is definitely an antique. It has Victoria written across its face and probably is from the Victorian era.

This is the outside of the restaurant where both my daughter Vinitha and son Vignesh are sitting.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


It was our neighbour Chitra’s wedding reception and we got to visit the Hyatt Regency. The reception organised in the Grand Ballroom was lovely and we had a really nice time.

The above picture is of the Ballroom where the reception was held. The cold drinks and starters that were served were delicious. My husband, daughter and I had reached by 8.30 pm while not many others including the bride and groom had reached.

It gave Vinitha and me a wonderful opportunity to take a tour of the Hyatt Regency Mumbai.

The above picture is of the Glasshouse Restaurant at the Hyatt. Just as the name suggests, it has glass all around, even a glass staircase leading to the next level. Just beautiful!
Stax is the restaurant at the next level and serves Italian food.
The Bar is where the FIFA match was being shown on a screen while guests, mainly foreigners where sitting back on comfortable sofas to watch it while enjoying the drinks and snacks served there.

This is Club Prana. Vinitha and I just went in to check the facilities and the rates. Not too bad for a five-star considering that many spas out there in shopping malls charge very little less.

I hope you enjoyed the tour of Hyatt Regency Mumbai! I did :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sharing: A NEW BLOG

This is to announce my new blog that will run parallel to this one. Cupid Strike Series will bring to my readers one chapter per week from my novels. The first one that will be published on this blog will be The Malhotra Bride.

You will be able to read the first chapter of this romantic drama on Friday, July 16, 2010. I hope to have a number of followers and their valuable comments on this blog. Of course, suggestions are also very welcome.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


This restaurant serving Delicious Thalis is totally Paisa Vasool!

We had to wait for ten minutes outside for a table as it was a Friday night but it was definitely worth the wait.

Plus point 1: The thali that costs about Eighty rupees was just too good. It consists of Sambar, Rasam, Dal, 2 Vegetables (dry & with gravy), Rotis/Puris, Rice, Fried Papad, Curd and Chaas.

Plus point 2: The food served is Kannada-style with the sambar and rasam having unique flavours that were delicious.

Plus point 3: The vegetables – both dry and the one with gravy – were perfectly cooked, while the curd was just right – not one little bit sour.

Plus point 4: The phulka rotis were obviously made very skilfully as they were cooked just right and yummy. They also serve puris.

Rice was served too, but I could not manage to eat that as it was too much.

Worth every rupee spent!

Monday, July 5, 2010


Cast: Imran Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Samir Soni, Sammir Dattani, Kavin Dave, Khusboo Shroff, Bruna Abdullah, Ketki Dave, Anju Mahendru, Shireesh Sharma, Aseem Tiwari
Writer & Director: Punit Malhotra

The Story: Jay’s (Imran Khan) parents are separated and live in Long Island. He has left home to pursue his dreams of becoming a Bollywood director. While he hates love stories, he works for Veer (Samir Soni), the most successful director of romantic films so as to have the experience on his CV. Simran (Sonam Kapoor) is an art director who believes that romance is the only way to live. She goes to work on Veer’s latest film and Jay becomes her assistant. Thus begins the chemistry between the opposite poles. While Simran is engaged to Raj (Sammir Dattani), the man of her dreams, DDLJ-style, she slowly but surely begins to fall for bad-boy Jay who befriends her. Jay is your typical Casanova who just wants to have fun. Simran and Raj are quite serious about their love life, even to the point of colour-coding their clothes. While Raj meets her every day with a white flower, he does not even know enough about Simran to realise that she hates white. Simran falls in love with Jay, but he does not believe in love. Will Ms. Romance get together with Mr. Romance or Mr. Bad-guy forms the rest of the story.

Our Perception: While the end is absolutely predictable, nothing else in the film is. To begin with, it is totally hilarious, the dialogues witty and keeps you hooked throughout. Every scene you believe you know what to expect in the next, only to be surprised at every turn.

Unlike Farah Khan’s Om Shanti Om and Sajid Khan’s Housefull (also spoofs) this film spoofs most scenes from romantic flicks such as the famous DDLJ, Dil Chahta Hai and Hum Tum in a beautiful fashion. It’s been done so subtly and makes for a fun watch.

Imran Khan – I thought the actor was a one-film wonder after the flops like Luck and Kidnap. Well, I am glad to say that I was proved wrong. Imran Khan’s role as Jay has been executed extremely well. We have heard of actors’ eyes speaking volumes. Here, we get to see the actor’s eyebrows speaking. That’s right, you read right, Imran Khan’s eyebrows speak a lot. He was totally suited for the role and has done it with absolute ease.

Sonam Kapoor was good. I read a couple of reviews that said otherwise. But, she looks beautiful with a young and innocent face, best suited for this role. She has a stupid smile on her face most of the time but then the role demands it. She plays a girl who is always coochie cooing romance, what else can you expect? She looks good and acts good and considering that she is still on the threshold of her acting career, she has a long way to go. But this babe will go a long way in Bollywood and that’s for sure. I sincerely look forward to seeing her in Aisha along with Abhay Deol.

Samir Soni as director Veer was very good in his role. So was Sammir Dattani as Raj. In fact, the casting overall was perfect with each actor playing his/her role to perfection.

The hot babe Bruna Abdullah as Giselle sizzles the screen with her presence in a few scenes that are worth a mention.

That’s one big Congratulations! to first-time director Punit Malhotra for giving us a wonderful, time-pass film with good actors doing their roles just right.

Verdict: If you go to the theatres to acquire gyaan, then this is not your film. If you see movies just to have fun and be entertained, then don’t miss this one. I am glad I did not.

Rating: ****Snazzy

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

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Quick-fix Meal: SWEET CORN SOUP

This soup is pretty simple to make, tastes delicious and is quite filling.

Sweet Corn – 1 can
Onion – 1 (big, chopped fine)
Beans – 10 (stringed and chopped fine)
Carrot – 1 (peeled and chopped fine)
Corn flour – 1 tbsp
Milk – ½ cup
*Ajinomoto – 1 large pinch
Oil – 1 tsp
Salt to taste

To coarse grind:
Green chillies – 2
Grated ginger – 1 pinch
Garlic – 2 cloves (peeled)

To add while serving:
Chilli sauce – 1 tsp
Soya sauce – 1 tsp
Chilli in vinegar – 1 tsp (optional)


Open the can of sweet corn and pour the contents into a vessel, add some water and mix thoroughly to remove lumps.

Boil water and add the beans and carrots to it along with a pinch of salt and switch off the gas. Drain the water after five minutes to ensure that the two are crisp and not overcooked.

Heat the oil in a saucepan and add coarse ground mixture of chillies, ginger and garlic. While frying, add chopped onions and continue to stir till onions are golden in colour. Now, add the beans and carrots and turn the mixture a couple of times. Then, it is the turn of the corn mixture. Pour it over the vegetables and add salt and Ajinomoto.

While the mixture is cooking on a slow gas, mix the milk and corn flour in a bowl and add this to the cooking soup, stirring non-stop. Let the soup boil for a few minutes. Add water to ensure consistency of soup. Switch off after five minutes.

The Sweet Corn Soup is ready to be served.

The three sauces are to be added only while serving in individual bowls and as per taste.

*Ajinomoto is an Oriental salt and is used for additional flavouring. There is word around that it does not suit some people. As I understand it, using baking soda on a regular basis is less healthy compared to using this. Anything used in moderation should not create a problem.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


We were going to this restaurant after a few years. It has been extended. But despite that we had to wait a good twenty minutes before we could get a table.

Plus point 1: My son liked his beer. Suppose the restaurant did not have much to do with it.

Plus point 2: My daughter ordered a Cream of Tomato Soup and it was perfect.

Plus point 3: The Shole Kabab (non-veg) was very good, said both Venkat and Vignesh.

Plus point 4: A Hyderabadi Sabzi recommended by the waiter was excellent. The Jeera Rice was yummy and the Hazelnut Ice Cream that we ordered for dessert was delicious.

Flop show 1: The Bloody Mary that Venkat ordered was bad and the mocktail – Pavilion Punch – that I asked for was terribly sweet, even after I got the waiter to rectify it. In the end, I added some water to finish it off.

Flop show 2: The Chinese Veg Platter was good but not even warm when it reached our table - can’t make out how, especially with a continuing crowd of diners. One would expect that a busy kitchen would bring forth fresh and hot food. Bad management!

Flop show 3: The Bhindi Sabzi that we ordered for the main course was very average and the Roomali Rotis were uncooked.

The bill was huge for the food and service offered by this restaurant. Not one of our favourite places to dine any more.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


I have this craze for cats and just adore them. We used to have a few at home a few years ago. They are the cleanest animals and it is very easy to take care of cats as they are so independent. The main problem might be that they breed voraciously. If you have a female cat at home, you might land up with a dozen or more cats in about a year’s time.

With cats around, especially kittens, you are never short of entertainment. They get into the oddest of places, climb whatever and play with just about anything, especially things that roll on the floor - old batteries, pens, tiny plastic balls - just anything will do. They settle down for a good clean up just about anywhere - window sill or the top of the TV. Our cat used to sit on top of the TV and wag her tail in front of the screen in a lazy fashion. Or she used to bend her head way down, covering half the screen. Don't know quite what she could see there, except maybe light as cats cannot see images on screen or so I have read somewhere.

And what they say about cats not being loyal or attached is just not true. They get quite close to human beings and are an absolute comfort when we are in blue moods.

There was Kitty who lived with us for about a year. Kitty was snooty and did not make friends with everyone very easily. She was a cat with an attitude. She will let us pet her only if she is in the mood. She appeared to understand everything we told her. It was absolutely fascinating. Her babies were Little Ginger and Jilly, the cutest, adorable kittens ever. Sadly, both of them died at different points in time. After a few months, Jupiter, Neptune, Venus and Mars were born. Two were guys and the other two gals. We kept them for a while, but they became too mischievous for words. We just could not manage them and were also worried at the speed at which they multiply. We had to give them all away.

Big Ginger forced himself into our home, literally. However much he was shooed out, slapped with wadded newspapers, whatever – Ginger had come to stay. He was a handsome orange and white cat who loved to be petted. He never found the way down our first floor balcony like how Kitty used to go down. So, every time he wanted to go out, he used to meow loudly. One night, my husband was so disgusted, he told Ginger that he should not meow in the middle of the night. From the next night on, Ginger used to sit there in front of Venkat and stare, so hard, that my husband used to wake up with a jerk. Don't know what kind of mesmerism Ginger used to get his own way. I would not have minded waking up, but Ginger used to trouble only Venkat. Venkat also adored Ginger so much that he used to pander to the cat's ego. He lived with us for more than a year before he just died one day.

I found this little kitten in our building compound and it was just love at first sight. The little guy gave out tiny meows when my son carried him home for a short while. However tempting it was, we kept him for a short while before leaving him back with his young mother. We know with experience that a farm house is the best suited place for cats, unless you get all chauvinistic and have only Tomcats for pets. But then, the females are the smartest and snootiest ever that so tempt you to make them yours.