Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Stuffed Capsicum
One more recipe that I made on Diwali! My husband and kids licked their plates clean.

Halved capsicums

Capsicum – 4 (small)
Potatoes – 2 (medium)
Ginger – ½ inch piece
Garlic – 3 cloves
Green chillies – 2
Cheese – 2 cubes
Coriander leaves – 2 tbsp (chopped)
Oil – 4 tsp
Corn flour – ½ tsp
Salt to taste

For Gravy:

Onions – 2 (large)
Dhaniya (coriander seeds) – 1 tsp
Jeera (cumin seeds) – 1 tsp
Saunf (fennel seeds) – ½ tsp
Lavang (cinnamon) – 2
Cinnamon bar – ½ inch piece
Khus khus – ½ tsp
Black pepper – 4
Elaichi (cardamom) – 1


Gravy cooking
1.    Cook the potatoes in a pressure pan. Let them cool, peel and mash them thoroughly with a pav-bhaji masher.
2.    Coarse grind the ginger-garlic-chilly into a paste.
3.    Grate the cheese.
4.    Along with the coriander leaves and some salt, mix the items in 1, 2 & 3. This will form the filling.
5.    Add a couple of spoons of oil in a non-stick flat pan and toss the capsicum pieces in it. Keep on low flame and cook with lid on for a short while. Keep stirring them till they are semi-cooked. Keep aside to cool.
6.    Stuff the potato mix into the capsicum shells and arrange on a tray or a flat pan.
7.    Grind the items under gravy, all together, with some water.
8.    Add 2 tsp of oil to a saucepan and when hot, pour the gravy mixture and cook well. Add salt when it is cooked half-way. Let it cook on medium flame for 5-6 minutes before adding the corn-flour that is mixed in 3-4 tsp of water. Cook for 2 more minutes before pouring the hot mixture over the stuffed capsicum.

Serve hot with rotis or puris as you please. It tastes just awesome!

Friday, November 26, 2010


Veg Biryani
This is a recipe I concocted on Diwali day. It turned out to be delicious and hence I am sharing it here on my blog.

Basmati Rice - soaked & drained

Basmati Rice – 2 cups
Shelled Peas – 1 cup
Beans – 100 gm (stringed and cut in inch-long pieces)
Carrot – 1 (peeled and cut in inch-long pieces)
Cauliflower – 250 gm (cut into flowerets)
Coriander leaves – 2 tbsp (chopped)
Oil – to shallow fry the vegetables
Ghee – 2 tsp
Salt to taste
Water – 3 cups
Cashew nuts – a handful (cut into pieces)

Dry Masala:
Jeera – 1 tsp
Black Pepper – 4 corns
Star Anise – 2
Mace (Jaadhi Pathiri) - a few strands

Bay leaf – 2
Cinnamon – 4
Cinnamon bar – 2 small pieces
Cardamom – 2-3
Dry masala ingredients

Ginger-garlic-chilly paste

Ginger – ½ inch piece
Garlic – 4 cloves
Green Chillies – 2


1.    Wash the rice and keep it soaked for half an hour. Then drain it before beginning the biryani process.
2.    Grind the masala ingredients into a coarse paste and keep aside.
3.    In a large saucepan, shallow fry the vegetables with salt, – one type at a time – drain the oil and keep in a bowl. Mix the coriander leaves with the hot vegetables. 
4.    In the same saucepan, heat some ghee and add the dry masala ingredients to the ghee. When they crackle, add the ginger-garlic-chilly paste and fry for a couple of minutes before adding water.
5.    Add some salt before adding the washed and drained rice to the saucepan.
6.    Close with a lid and cook on medium flame.
7.    Shallow fry the cashew nuts in ghee in a separate pan.
8.    When the rice is cooked, remove it in a serving bowl. Spread the cooked vegetables on top before garnishing with cashew nuts.

The biryani tastes yummy all by itself and does even better with raita.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Govinda Resorts
It was the Diwali weekend and suddenly on Saturday morning Venkat suggested that we go to Lonavla for an overnight stay. While aware that most of the hotels would be booked for the long weekend, Venkat pulled a few strings and managed to get us accommodation at Govinda Resorts, about 4-5 km before the town of Lonavla begins.

That's Venkat standing on the ground

While Vinitha stayed back at home to study for her MBA exams, Vignesh, Venkat and I were only too thrilled to take off at about 1 pm, looking forward to the outing. It took us a little less than two hours to reach the venue. The three of us checked out the last couple of rooms that were left at the resort. The owner said that the rest of the place was packed and it was obvious that he was telling us the truth. Of course, he made us pay through our noses but just then, Venkat was in a holiday mood and was ready to foot the bill. Viggy and I were only too happy to agree to stay at the lovely cottage on the first floor.

There were two bedrooms, one with A/C and the other without. Long windows gave us unencumbered views of the gorgeous mountains around the area. There was a fairly large balcony with comfortable chairs and a table for room service.

We stayed in the yonder cottage on the 1st floor
The highlight was the humongous bathroom with the huge tub that could seat two quite comfortably. As my son suggested, it was obviously a honeymoon suite with floor length glass shutters dividing the bathroom and bedroom with lacy translucent curtains.
The king-sized bathtub
A view of the bathroom & yours truly
But it was a lovely experience using the tub. Viggy and I enjoyed it in turns on both days while we nagged Venkat into using it late into the night on Saturday. We persuaded him to have a bath with a glass of chilled beer and he was quite happy with the experience. The water was heated by solar energy and I was extremely impressed with this.

There was a swimming pool that had a maximum depth of just about 5 ft and Viggy lost interest when he realised that he could not dive into the pool. The bathtub was a more interesting experience.
A view from our bedroom window
The compound was sprawling with a number of trees and flowering plants – very colourful flowers that I so wanted to bring the plants to Mumbai. But that will have to happen some other time.

We could take walks around there and late at night after a huge dinner, we walked around the huge compound for more than an hour. The property is set in about 8 acres of land with only a small section developed.
Delicious Russian Salad at dinner
FOOD REVIEW: The food was just superb at this place. What I liked best was that they served pure vegetarian fare with a choice of Jain food.

For lunch on Saturday, there was tomato soup on the buffet. It was piping hot and tasted yum. It was almost 4 pm when we had the lunch and all three of us were quite ravenous. We were served paneer makhani, veg kadai and piping hot rotis that were freshly made for us as the rest of the buffet was Jain and we were not too keen. The chaas (buttermilk) they served was out-of-this-world. The jeera rice and dal fry were awesome to round of with.
Roti, Veg Kadai & Paneer Makhani
The coffee they serve at this place was too good. While hard drinks are not available at the resort, they had waiters who were sent into town to procure beer for Venkat and Viggy.

The dinner on Saturday was also a tasty affair while I don’t quite remember what we ate. It was also typical Punjabi fare while I had sweet corn soup at the beginning.

Breakfast on Sunday was Idli, Medhu Vada and Dosa with sambar and chutney. We were served on our balcony. While the Methu Vada was fresh and crisp, the sambar was absolutely delicious. The dosas were not too bad but rather cold when they reached us. The chutney was mediocre while the idlis where like soft stones - probably the only two items that were not good here.

All-in-all, it was a super break while being waited on hand and foot. We thoroughly enjoyed the stay here at Govinda Resorts.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Eduardo & Mark
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, Josh Pence, Rooney Mara
Director: David Fincher

The Story: The film is based on the book ‘The Accidental Billionaires’ by Ben Mezrich. Mark Zuckerburg (Jesse Eisenberg) and his girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara) have an argument at the bar and they break up. Mark gets so upset that he posts a blog about Erica. His anger still unspent, Mark hacks into the Harvard University database and creates Facemash – a photo-sharing website and gets 22,000 hits in just 2 hours. His only intent is to humiliate Erica. While Mark is pulled up for hacking into secure networks, everyone in and outside campus gets to know about him. The Winklevoss twins (played by Armie Hammer and Josh Pence) have an idea for a social network and approach Mark with it. He agrees to work for them. But before that, he adapts their idea to create ‘The Facebook’. A grand sum of $1000 is invested by Mark’s best friend Eduardo (Andrew Garfield) and they enter a partnership of 70:30. The social network is a success from Day One while it had taken Mark a bare 6 weeks to get it in place. Things begin to get out of hand when Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), founder of Napster – an online music website – gets in touch with Mark. Mark and Sean hit it off immediately while Eduardo hates the very sight of the newcomer. A new contract is set up as The Facebook snowballs into the most popular social networking site. Eduardo signs for 0.03% share of the profits without realising what he is doing. Things turn ugly when Mark is taken to court by both his best friend and the Winklevoss twins. The rest of the film is all about how things get settled for The Accidental Billionaire who has already raked in $ 7 Billion after but a few months of floating his website.

My Perception: What can I say? I was spellbound by the movie. The Social Network ran for exactly 2 hours with crisp dialogues and superb acting.

Jesse Eisenberg did such a wonderful job of playing Mark. The quiet anger that he portrays when his girlfriend leaves him, keeping a cool head during the law proceedings, his smart-alec answers to everyone around, his loyalty to Eduardo, his instant friendship with Sean – he was just superb in just about every scene. I just loved the way he is quite chilled despite the billions growing in his bank.

Andrew Garfield as the hurt and humiliated Eduardo does an excellent job. The rest of the cast also played their roles very well.

There was not one extra scene or an out-of-place dialogue that one could complain about. You need to stay alert while the film is on if you don’t want to miss anything important – that’s every second of the movie. The film takes the viewer back and forth during the court proceedings and the story is built in flashbacks.

Verdict: Just awesome! Don’t miss this one in the theatres. I am planning to see it again soon.

Rating: ****** (That 6 stars and the rating is Stupendous)

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

Friday, November 12, 2010


Breadsticks & White Butter served with the Soups

I have been to this restaurant many times but got an opportunity to write about it just now. The food here is excellent most of the time while they come up with ‘shockers’ sometimes. They serve only vegetarian.

Sweet Corn Veg Soup

This trip was on the eve of Diwali and it was Vini’s treat. The four of us had to wait for about 25 minutes before we got a table. By the way, you cannot book a table at Oven Fresh. You have to go there and wait for one. The wait is a minimum of 20 minutes on any given day whether it is lunch or dinner. That goes a long way in proclaiming the restaurant’s popularity.

Pesto Minestrone Soup

Plus point 1: We all ordered different soups – Sweet Corn Veg Soup for me, Smoked Pepper Soup for Venkat, Cream of Broccoli for Vini and Pesto Minestrone Soup for Viggy. We all relished the soups. They turned out with perfect taste at just the right temperature.

Smoked Pepper Soup
Plus point 2: The half plate of cheese garlic bread and another half of just garlic bread were just yum.
Cream of Broccoli Soup & Garlic Bread

Plus point 3: Venkat asked for a Veg Sizzler with Pepper Sauce - it looked colourful and tasted delicious as all of us had a bite from it.

Veg Sizzler with Pepper Sauce
Plus point 4: Vinitha asked for Corn & Cheese Enchilada. This is a hot favourite and was as good as it always tastes.

Corn & Cheese Enchilada

Plus point 5: Vignesh ordered a pasta dish – Ravioli in Sundried Tomato Sauce – rounds of stuffed pasta in sundried tomato sauce. He just loved it.

Ravioli in Sundried Tomato Sauce

Plus point 6: I did not want anything too heavy and ordered Nachos with Beans. We all had a go at the perfectly turned out dish.

Nachos & Beans

Plus point 7: I could not resist asking for a slice of Black Forest Pastry and relished it all by myself.

Black Forest Pastry with Strawberries

Plus point 8: Viggy’s Lemon Iced Tea was great, he said.

Flop show 1: The service at this restaurant can be way better than it actually is. The waiters are slow and have a don’t-give-a-damn attitude. They wear it on their sleeves quite proudly, in fact. There are times when we place four main course orders for four of us and the food turns up at different times. They don’t understand that the food needs to be served for everyone at the same time.

But we keep going there because the food is superb.

Note: They don’t accept credit cards but do take food vouchers such as Sodexo.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


What is it about the Obamas that makes us want to get closer, hear the speeches and get to know the interactions and more?

I heard a few people on TV say that the Indian media is giving too much coverage to the US President’s visit. It was mentioned that the US media would not care two hoots about our President’s visit to their country. There was a channel that went on and on about the 900+ crore rupees spent on security and what a waste it was, etc.

But what really struck me were these points at the end of the Obamas’ trip to India:

1.    Both Barack Obama and his wife Michelle came across as very down-to-earth with no pomp or ceremony governing their actions.
2.    There was an innate honesty in everything that Prez Obama uttered, I thought. A very rare thing that could be seen in politicians.
3.    When Barack Obama spoke about Mahatma Gandhi, it was obvious that he meant every word he said. Could any of our local politicians swear by the Mahatma’s principles?
4.    I could not see the US President making any promises that he did not intend keeping.

I, for one, was totally enamoured with the President’s visit to our country, his speeches and especially the Q & A at St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai. One part that I liked best from this was: 

“It's hard to preach to an empty stomach. If people have severe, immediate material needs - shelter, food, clothing - then that is their focus. And economic growth and development that is self-sustaining can liberate people, allow them - it forms the basis for folks to get an education and to expand their horizons. And that's all for the good.”

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Mattar Paneer gravy
The next few recipes are for the dishes I made for lunch on Diwali. The spices used may seem the similar but give or take one or more makes all the difference to the taste. Indian spices – each of them has its own exotic flavour and give out a different aroma when used differently. For eg.: garlic tastes one way when you grind it and very different when you grate it. The same goes for tomatoes too.

If it is a quick method you are looking for then check out the Quick-fix Recipes section of my blog. The section with ‘Recipes’ is all about proper cooking methods that bring out the flavour and aroma of the dishes created.

Mattar Paneer is a gravy with peas and paneer just as the name suggests. It is not so difficult to make and tastes delicious too.


Peas – ½ kg (I used frozen ones as fresh peas were not available) 
Paneer (cottage cheese) – ¼ kg (cut into cubes)
Tomatoes – 2 (cut into pieces)
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder – 1 pinch
Masala ingredients
Red Chilli powder – 1 pinch
Oil – 2 tsp (for the gravy)
Cream – ½ cup (you can use less)
Chopped Kotmir (Coriander leaves) – 2 tsp
Some oil for frying the paneer


Garlic – 2-3 cloves
Green chillies – 4
Ginger – ½ inch piece
Masala cooking
Onions – 2 (cut into pieces)
Dhania – 1 tbsp
Jeera – 1 tbsp
Saunf (Sombu) – 1 tbsp
Cloves – 3
Black pepper – 3
Cinnamon Bar – 1 tiny piece
Elaichi (Elakkaai) – 1
Khuskhus (khasakhasa) – ½ tsp


1. Boil the peas in water with ½ tsp salt and a pinch of turmeric powder. Switch off gas and drain the water when peas are soft.
Tomatoes added to masala
2. Grind the masala ingredients along with some water into a smooth paste. Ensure that all ingredients are well ground.
3. Place a saucepan (kadai) on the stove and add the oil to it. When hot, add the ground masala to the oil. Allow it to cook for a while, stirring regularly. Add a bit of turmeric powder and the red chilli powder before adding salt. Let it cook some more. You can cover the saucepan with a lid and keep the flame at a medium level.
4. Grind the tomatoes and add to the saucepan as well.
Fried paneer
5. Stir for a short while and add the peas to the mixture. Cook for a couple of minutes.
6. Beat the cream and add to the peas gravy and cook for 2-3 minutes before switching off the gas.
7. In another saucepan, heat some oil and shallow fry the paneer cubes in two or three batches till golden brown. Drain the oil and place them on a plate.

Add the fried paneer to the peas-gravy along with kotmir before serving hot along with Puris or Rotis.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Festival: HAPPY DEEPAVALI 2010

Wish everyone of my readers a very Happy Deepavali 2010!

These are diyas that I lighted at the entrance of our flat. I wish each and everyone a very Happy & Prosperous Diwali and a Happy New Year too!

We decided to 'go green' this Deepavali and did not purchase any fire-crackers. Looks like the sentiment has been shared by many as the noise level is quite low this year. 

Diwali lunch
This is the lunch I made at home for today. I veered away from tradition to make a North Indian lunch and my family members were quite thrilled about this. You will get to read the recipes for the items made. The Paal payasam (kheer), Stuffed Capsicum, Mattar Paneer, Puris, Pulao and Raita were indeed yummy, even though I am saying so myself. ;)