Saturday, June 29, 2013


ISKCON Temple, Bangalore
We had dinner at Ullas Restaurant and returned to our guesthouse at around 10.30 pm. By around 10.45 pm I was fast asleep until I was woken up by the twitter of birds at about 4.45 am. It’s been a long time since I had slept like a log. The bird song was quite loud and refreshing and I could not go back to sleep.

The Entrance to the Iskcon Temple, the only picture that I clicked
I lazed around for a bit, got up at 6.30, had a bath and left for Iskcon Temple by 7.30 am. For the past few years I have not woken up before 7.30 am on a given day - unless I was at Oneness University for classes. There, we wake up at 3.30 am to get ready for classes that begin at 5 am.

Click Here to see original pictures and write up about Iskcon Temple @ Chowpatty, Mumbai.

Prahlada Narasimhar
I did not wait for Vini as she was keener on talking a walk in the surrounding gardens. I walked for about 15 minutes before I got an auto-rickshaw. I reached the temple and just managed to click the picture of the entrance. I was totally disappointed to find that after that point, using a camera was not allowed.

Venkatramana Govinda!
You need to climb a number of stairs to get to the Iskcon Temple at Bangalore – probably around 150-200. There are three main sanctorums, each one housed within a gopuram (tower) in the typical style to South India.

After leaving my footwear and camera at the counter, I walked the stairs to reach the first sanctorum. This was of Prahlada Narasimhar. Narasimhar is the fourth avatar of Lord Mahavishnu and He appeared from a pillar that was struck with a mace by Hriranyakashipu who was Prahlada’s father.

Sri Radha Krishna
The Deity was beautifully decorated with a lot of gold ornaments and flowers. The lack of crowd was a big plus while I could pray very peacefully for a few minutes.

After climbing some more steps, I reached the second sanctorum. This was my favourite – that of Tirupati Balaji. I wouldn’t have tired even if I had remained there for the whole day. Venkatramana Govinda was a smaller replica of the same God at Tirupati. The temple was so calm and I was quite unaware of the few other people who came and went until a guard came and told me to go on. I just moved a few inches away and stood again for a few minutes until I realised I did not have much of a choice and walked out.

Lords Nitai & Gauranga
Some more steps and I finally reached the main sanctorum housing Lord Krishna & Goddess Radha in the middle flanked by the sanctorum of Lord Krishna and Lord Balarama on our right and Lords Nitai & Gauranga to our left. This is the main Iskcon Temple with a shrine for Srimad Prabhupada – Founder of Iskcon Movement – on the left side.

Lord Krishna & Lord Balarama
Placed in a large square hall, there’s a narrow line that takes you forward in front of the sanctorum. Luckily, the crowd was not much – at least it did not look that much as the area was spacious; there were about 200-250 people strewn around – and I could pray to my heart’s content. I moved to the centre of the hall to do my namaskarams before leaving.

Srimad Prabhupada
From there on, you find a number of shopping outlets – all run by Iskcon. There were spiritual books and CDs in many languages. Then there were a variety of sweets and cakes sold as Prasad. You walk down a few steps and find idols and dolls of Lord Krishna, Radha, Lord Rama, Meerabhai, Hanuman and the like – all for sale. Then, there were the restaurants. The variety of items sold was mindboggling. At one point, there was a man distributing Pongal as prasadham. I had that, washed at one of the many washbasins around the area, bought breakfast from one of the three restaurants further down, picked up my slippers and camera and left with a feeling of a well spent morning.

All the rest of the pictures besides the one at the entrance are thanks to How they could get these pictures are a mystery! But I am glad. Thank you!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Film Review: MAN OF STEEL

Henry Cavill definitely looks the part of MAN OF STEEL

Cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Antje Traue, Ayelet Zurer, Christopher Meloni, Russell Crowe
Director: Zack Snyder

Viggy and I had been planning to see this movie since its release. We finally managed to catch it a couple of days ago at Imax.


Krypton is a planet outside the solar system. The core of the planet has become unstable and it might blast at any moment. The ruling council is keen to vacate the planet while General Zod (Michael Shannon) and his supporters want to continue there. Jor-El (Russell Crowe) is a scientist. With his wife’s help, he sends his newborn son Kal in a space capsule all the way to earth. The baby’s cells have been infused with the genetic codex of the Kryptonian race. Zod murders Jor, is captured and banished to Phantom Zone.

When Krypton explodes after some time, Zod and his supporters are freed. They are keen to lay their hands on the genetic codex of Krypton and set up base on a new planet. When they find out that Kal-El is on earth, the General and his men decide that Earth is where they want to be. But that would mean the destruction of all human beings. Will that be possible?


The movie is very different from the earlier Superman films starring Christopher Reeves. Those were fun films with Superman being just a superhero who goes around helping people in trouble.

Christopher Reeves as Superman
Man of Steel is way more serious. The first half is all about Kal being born on Krypton. His parents, especially his mother, are extremely upset sending their newborn so far away to earth. As the child grows up as Clark Kent, he has a tough time adjusting to the earthly way of life. He is so different from the other children and is not able to understand his own super powers. He feels alien – pun intended – and curbs his instincts on his adopted father’s (Kevin Costner) advice. Clark (Henry Cavill) is a young man when he finally gets to know the truth about his birth.

The scenes with spaceships travelling back and forth and the rest have been very well made and the 3D visuals are just wonderful so far.

In the second half, General Zod comes to earth along with his men to extract the genetic codex from Kal-El aka Clark. Things turn extremely violent from this point. There is only fighting, destruction and more. The Kryptonians begin to terraform the earth smashing the skyscrapers in their way. The rest of the film is about Clark, now called Superman, destroying General Zod and his people before they wipe out humanity.

This half is totally violent and was rather sickening, especially for me as I had gone to the film expecting something in the lines of the earlier Superman movies.

Henry Cavill as Superman is a perfect choice. He’s handsome, well-muscled and plays his part very well. Amy Adams as Lois Lane has also done an excellent job as a newspaper reporter. While the rest of the cast have all performed well, it is Michael Shannon who takes the cake. As General Zod, he makes for a fantastic villain and a vicious one at that.

VERDICT: If you are fond of superhero movies, then this one is a must watch. But do be prepared for the extreme violence in the second half.

RATING: *** ½


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Food Review: ULLAS REFRESHMENTS @ MG Road, Bengaluru

Vini on the verge of checking the menu
Vignesh visits Bangalore at least 2-3 times in a year as his music gigs happen in the city. He recommended Ullas Refreshments pretty highly and Vini and I were determined to have one of our meals there. That’s how we landed up for dinner at Ullas Refreshments after the visit to Lal Bagh.

The half-eaten rava masala dosa with its accompaniments
The restaurant is open from 9.30 am in the morning till they take last orders at 9.30 pm. We managed to get there famished at around 9 pm.

The huge rava idli garnished with dill
The waiters could speak Hindi comfortably as neither of us knew one word of Kannada, the official language of Bengaluru.

The not-so-tasty dahi vada
We ordered Onion Rava Masala Dosa. It came with regular coconut chutney, a red chutney with garlic, super delicious sambar typical of South India, a masala gravy distinctive to Karnataka (highly recommended by the waiter and it was yummy) and the usual potato masala. The dosa was cooked evenly to perfection. Many-a-time, we find that the dosas are well fried on one end while rather soft on another. This one was so evenly made that we enjoyed every morsel. As you can see from the picture, we both were so hungry that we grabbed the dosa the moment it was served and I remembered to take the photo only after it was half gone.

Yours truly awaiting my order
The Rava Idly we ordered was huge. They served one piece instead of the usual two. But it was equal to three idlis that one makes at home. While it was tasty with the accompanying chutney and sambar, I was kind of disappointed with the dill that came along as garnish. It took away from the flavour.

Dill - the greens with a special flavour.
I don't like it 
Then came the Dahi Vada that we asked for. This was also a single piece and I was glad it was so. It was not the kind of dish that I had expected to eat in South India. It came with sweet dahi and was pretty mediocre.

As Viggy had mentioned, we should have stuck to having only dosas. The restaurant is renowned for that and the Rava Masala Dosa that we had was proof enough.

Well, now you know the best thing to order at Ullas Refreshments when you visit Bengaluru! Believe me, the restaurant is most definitely worth a visit for the dosa experience.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


While he lacks in the looks department, Dhanush more than compensates with his acting skills

Cast: Dhanush, Sonam Kapoor, Abhay Deol, Swara Baskar, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub
Director: Aanand L. Rai


Kundan (Dhanush) is the son of a Tamil priest who serves at a temple in Benaras. Zoya (Sonam Kapoor) is a rich Muslim girl living with her parents in the same place. He falls in love with her the very first time he sees her. They both are in school but that does not stop Kundan from pursuing Zoya. Soon, she is convinced that she loves him too. When her parents find out, they send her away to another city to complete her studies. It’s eight years before Zoya returns to Benaras. Kundan can’t wait to get back together with the love of his life. But will Zoya feel the same way?


The film is set in a colourful Benaras amidst Holi and other celebrations. The music by AR Rahman is awesome as usual. Dhanush and Sonam’s song and dance sequences fit in quite well with the story line.

While he lacks in the looks department, Dhanush more than compensates with his acting skills. While Kamal Hassan, Rajinikanth and many others have tried their stints in Bollywood, Dhanush’s entry is made special by the role he has chosen to do. He is a Tamilian in the film and hence has made a sensible choice. I believe he has spoken all his dialogues in Hindi. It’s pretty amazing that his accent is not too bad either. Kudos Dhanush!

Sonam Kapoor has also done very well as Zoya. She looks cute as a high school girl and eight years later, a lovely woman. Only I was not too fond of her character in the movie.

Abhay Deol breezes through the few odd scenes that he takes part in – nothing to write home about.

A special mention has to be made of Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub as Kundan’s friend Murari and Swara Baskar as Bindiya, the woman who is crazily in love with Kundan. They both absolutely added value to the film.

While the film begins with a bang, it tends to drag in the second half. The film runs for about 2 hrs and 20 minutes but I still found it a tide too long. I wonder when the directors and editors will stop dragging a film to death. It would have been better with crisper editing, especially the second half. It appeared as if the director had set off in a direction and then did not know how to take it further.

VERDICT: You can see it once for Dhanush’s acting skills if nothing else

RATING: ***Smart


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

eBook Review: FACEBOOK PYAR By Arti Arlene Martyris

Prateek lives and studies in Patna. An only child, he is very close to his mother who is constantly beaten up by his father. Gunjan lives about 1500 km away in Hyderabad. Belonging to a Christian family, she lives with her mother and school-going sister. Her father had left them long ago for another woman.

The two of them come in touch with each other on Facebook. Over many chat sessions of sharing their family histories and many other things, they fall in love. Enter James – Gunjan’s childhood sweetheart. Will the long-distant relationship with Prateek stand a chance against James’ proximity?

A cutesy love story that is very much contemporary. I fell in love with the title and that’s what made me buy the book.

Arti has penned a romance between two strangers who meet on the social media network, how they go on to trust each other and fall in love. It makes for a fun read and will surely appeal to all the college students. At the end, the author got me a mite worried whether Gunjan will ever get together with the man of her dreams. Good work Arti Arlene Martyris!

The cover illustration by Upasana Govindarajan is very appealing.

Click Here to buy your copy of FACEBOOK PYAR by Arti Arlene Martyris on Indireads  

Monday, June 24, 2013


Kempegowda Tower on top right. This is Peninsula Gneiss rock
After some hot tea served by the caretaker at the guesthouse, Vini and I took a rickshaw to Lal Bagh, the famous gardens that I had visited when I was a small kid. The weather was simply amazing – so cool whatever time of the day. In fact, it was quite cold in the night. Can you believe that in the middle of June? I just loved it.

There was a riot of colours in the form of Bougainvillea at the entrance to Lal Bagh
The rickshaw ride took us via a golf course and Cubbon Park before we finally reached the botanical gardens. It’s a wonder that Bengaluru has so many green spaces. The Karnataka Forest Department takes care of maintaining all the gardens in the city and I must say that they have done a superb job.

Vini and Yours Truly
Wikipedia says: Lal Bagh or Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens, meaning The Red Garden in English, is a well known botanical garden in southern Bangalore, India. The garden was originally commissioned by Hyder Ali, the ruler of Mysore, and later finished by his son Tipu Sultan. It has a famous glass house which hosts an annual flower show. Lal Bagh houses India's largest collection of tropical plants, has an aquarium and a lake, and is one of the main tourist attractions in Bangalore.

A view in reverse - yonder is the entrance to the park
We walked over one small section of Lal Bagh. The garden is set in 240 acres of land, said a map. There was a mound of rock with some roughly cut steps. We climbed over it and walked around before getting off. I found it quite scary but fun as well. Then we walked around the garden for about an hour and a half. It was so calm, quiet and oh, so green! A feast for the whole system!

Click here to know more about the rock which is called Peninsular Gneiss.

The adorable Pomeranian puppy
We met a Pomeranian puppy that had come for a walk with the owners. She was adorable and we stopped to play with her for a few minutes.

Vini with the little pup
There was the glass house on the right of our path, only it was too dark and we could neither see it properly nor take photos. In fact, it was already twilight when we reached there. Just about 15 minutes before we got out of another gate, a small snake crossed our path. It was about a foot long and quite thin. I am not too familiar with the species and don’t have a clue of what type it was, but it was an experience. I am not sure who wanted to get away faster, the snake or us. It slithered away into the greenery without stopping to say ‘hello’.

The next time I visit Lal Bagh, I hope not to miss the rose garden if nothing else.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


RMV II Stage, Bengaluru
Vini needed to go to Bengaluru on official work. She asked me whether I would like to go there for a couple of days too. I jumped at the chance. I look a National AC bus on Thursday last and set out on what turned out to be an 18-hour journey. We were supposed to reach in 16 hours or less. I got off the next day around 2 pm and with another passenger’s help got an auto rickshaw to arrive at RMV II Stage. The guest house was on the third floor and was extremely comfortable. Better yet, the whole area was surrounded by greenery. I hear from a lot of people who are familiar with Bangalore that the city is not as green as it used to be. Well, I was visiting after 22 years and I thought it was absolutely beautiful. The view from the bedroom window was simply gorgeous.

Andhra Meals at Mayuri Restaurant, ISRO Road, Bengaluru

Luckily for us, it was just Vini and me at the 3-bedroom flat. I had a bath and immediately took another rickshaw to get myself some lunch. I had to travel quite a way before I managed to find Mayuri Restaurant. I had enquired with a couple of people to find typical Karnataka food. This restaurant served Andhra meals. I did not argue as I was too hungry and hogged. The food was cold. When I told the waiter that, he immediately removed my plate and served on another one – with a fresh plantain leaf. The second time round, the food was piping hot. There were two sabzis, a chutney, hot tandoor roti, sambar, rasam, curd, chaas, papad and rice – unlimited and priced at Rs. 73. The food was not too bad either.

The lane below the building we stayed at
Once I was well fuelled, I began my adventure in the city. I had barely 24 hours there and I meant to make full use of it.

At the guesthouse

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sharing: DOUBLE JEOPARDY on Indireads

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy of DOUBLE JEOPARDY on Indireads

CLICK HERE to LIKE my author page on Facebook

CLICK HERE to LIKE Indireads page on Facebook

Indireads is launching tomorrow (June 12, 2013) with Summer of Love – a collection of 30 romance novellas. I am proud to say that my novel DOUBLE JEOPARDY is one of them.

They have loads of offers through the whole month

Special book bundles that couple the best books together into great deals for you. They will be running 2 book bundles a day for the entire week.

Special discounts throughout the day for people who wish to purchase multiple books, including special coupons that are only available from the authors, so that you can get to know them better. My Coupon Code is SVN10. Please use it! It gets you a discount of purchase over $5 (currency converter available on page). You can use the code any number of times from June 12 to July 12 2013.

Well folks, this is just the beginning - there’s loads more to come.

I would like to share some of the reviews that I have received from those who have already read DOUBLE JEOPARDY. Do check them out.

Sujatha says…

A complete story in less than ninety pages! Totally absorbing and a very good read. Well dealt characterizations, clear and concise situations written in well thought out dialogues.
The absorption of a young woman in her childhood memories of twins who were her friends and her present growing understanding of the difference in their grown up versions leading to the congruence of her mind and heart are handled with sympathy and logic.
In all, I totally enjoyed the mini novel. All the very best for all your other attempts also. Looking forward to more and varied reading.
Your proud and loving sister

Jaya Biswas says…

Love makes life worth living. Isn’t it? I’m sure eight out of 10 women would vouch for it. No wonder M&Bs are still a rage among women of all ages. But in this age and time, when you’d rather prefer reading an e-book on your phone than flipping pages of a paperback, romantic stories can indeed make your journey smoother — transporting you to a different word altogether. Take for example, Sundari Venkatraman’s latest offing, Double Jeopardy. This short and sweet love story makes for a nice and quick read.

All of 80 pages, the book talks about teenage infatuation and how, gradually, it matures into love. The protagonist, Sanya, seems real — someone you can immediately relate to. Sanya is in love with Arth and to meet him, she comes to Mumbai all the way from UK. To her disappointment, she is received by Arth’s twin brother Ansh at the airport. Sanya hated Ansh ever since she was a kid and she makes her dislike apparent from the very beginning. But where is Arth, her knight in the shining armor? Will Sanya finally get to meet her true love?

Sundari has kept the language really simple, which in fact adds a certain pace to the storyline.  For a love story, this one too has its share of twists, but surely that could have been handled in a bit matured way. The story almost runs in a linear pattern and lacks depth. But if reading romance is your staple diet, no harm trying this one.

fmj says…

I have to say Double Jeopardy surprised me. I expected a completely fun and frolic kind of romance but it is much, much more than just that. Extremely well written, Double Jeopardy explores sensitive social issues, fraternal bonds, a young girl’s journey of self-discovery and of course love.

Sundari’s rendition of an Indian household is interesting and gives a non-Indian a wonderful insight into it. One can’t help but fall in love with all the characters, because Sundari’s etched them all, with such sensitivity and depth. I really, really enjoyed reading the novella and look forward to reading more from Sundari.

Jaya Siva Murty says…

A really really sweet story, Double Jeopardy takes us through the life of a woman who battles between her heart and her head. A quick read that’s woven well by Sundari’s easy storytelling style, this one is all ready to be rolled into a film!

roopa80 says…

Sundari Venkatraman’s Double Jeopardy is completely contemporary-right from its cover, title to its overall feel. Set against the backdrop of urban India, Sundari Venkatraman has successfully managed to weave a sizzling, Bollywood style love story with ease. The liberal attitudes and mindset of all the characters clearly keeps with the urbane milieu of the book making it a very refreshing read. With her perky writing style Sundari Venkatraman has effectively managed to let the reader indulge in the headiness of young love and crushes without any inhibitions. This one is a really delightful read!

ShwetaGK says…

This one is so Bollywood!

A gorgeous heroine who finds her calling when she returns to her roots and two handsome hunks, twin brothers who are alike only in appearance and nothing else.

A quick read about young love and old crushes – Sundari Venkatraman’s Double Jeopardy is a fun read with characters that make you want to fall in love all over again.

saimini says…

Sizzling! That’s what Double Jeopardy is. I love the way Sundari has penned the electricity between Sanya and Ansh. The intimate scenes and deliciously lyrical and sensuous without being vulgar or erotic. The end seemed to drag on a bit, but the romance between the lead characters in the climax more than made up for any shortcoming . The first thought that came into my mind after reading this was, “THIS is what romance novels are all about!”

Sumeetha says…

Sanya is in love with the warm hearted son of her host in Mumbai since childhood. But handsome Arth is polite and friendly but sadly he does not set her heart on fire as opposed to his twin Ansh. But faithful to her childhood memory, Sanya tries to rekindle the love that she felt for Arth but things do not always happen as we plan. Instead of Arth, it is playful and wickedly sexy Ansh who is buzzing around her trying to catch her fancy.

Loved Sanya’s character as her bewildered heart falls for Ansh but is too proud to accept the truth. Very interesting read!

Monday, June 10, 2013


Onion Chutney
I have seen people making different types of Onion Chutney. I finally ended up making it in the simplest possible fashion, mainly to get the yummy chutney ready at short notice.


Onion – 4 (large – peeled and cut)
Red Chillies – 6 (add more if you like it spicy)
Tamarind – one ball the size of a small lemon
Salt to taste
Oil – 2 tbsp
Rai – 1 tsp
Kotmir – 1 tsp (chopped)


1. Add the first four ingredients in a mixer and grind to a smooth paste.
2. Heat the oil in a kadai (non-stick is preferable) and crackle the rai in it.
3. Add the paste and cook for 8-10 minutes till it turns into a thick chutney.
4. Garnish with kotmir and serve hot or cold.

Onion Chutney tastes delicious with Idlis, Dosas or Rotis. It can even be had mixed with plain rice. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Ranbir Dewan is a multimillionaire businessman. Mira has recently moved to Delhi from Meerut. Sparks fly when the two meet. He offers to bed her for a price and Mira is scandalised. But she is unable to refute the deep attraction she feels for him. Would the boss of Dewan Group of Industries be interested in the assistant cook working in his office cafeteria? You will need to read the book to find out.

What can I say! I felt transported to my teens when I read this book. It was like falling in love with romance all over again, only this time it was set right here in India and not in some remote corner of England. Boy! George aka Mimmy Jain has woven a lovely story in superb English that is simply delightful. I could not stop midway as the story flowed so smoothly and just had to be finished at one go. Ranbir is an ideal romantic hero and Mira is his perfect match. A drool-worthy read indeed!

Mimmy Jain, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your book and look forward to more.

Click Here to purchase your copy of A SCANDALOUS PROPOSITION by MM George on Indireads  

Saturday, June 8, 2013


Channa Masala
Hotel Ramdeo in Sion used to serve the most delicious Channa Masala that I have ever tasted. While the restaurant is still very much part of Sion West, the standard has deteriorated so badly that we have stopped going there.

But I did my best to reinvent the Channa Masala in my own kitchen and the result was quite delicious.


Kabuli Channa – 250 gm (soaked for 6-8 hours)
Kabuli Channa
Bay leaf – 2
Jeera – ½ tsp
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder – 1 pinch
Oil – 2 tbsp
Jaggery – 2 tbsp
Kotmir – 2 tbsp (chopped)


Onion – 2 (medium)
Tomato – 2 (medium)
Garlic – 5-6 cloves
Ginger – ½ inch piece

Masala Powders

Garam masala powder – ¼ tsp
Turmeric powder – 1 large pinch
Chilli powder – ¾ tsp
Dhania powder – ¼ tsp
Jeera powder – ¼ tsp


1. Cook the soaked channa along with water, salt and a pinch of turmeric powder for 8 whistles.
2. Grind the masala ingredients to a smooth paste.
3. Take a saucepan and heat the oil in it.
4. Add the jeera and bay leaf and wait for them to crackle before adding the ground masala.
5. Allow this to cook for 4-5 minutes with a lid on it. Stir from time to time.
6. Add all the masala powders and mix well before letting the mixture cook for a few more minutes.
7. Switch off the gas when you see the oil separating from the gravy.
8. Now add the gravy to the channa in the pressure cooker and mix well.
9. Add the jaggery and allow the whole mixture to cook together for 5 minutes.
10. Remove to a serving bowl and garnish with kotmir.

Serve hot with puris, rotis or rice. Believe me when I say it’s super-yummy.

Friday, June 7, 2013

eBook Review: GIRL FROM FATEHPUR By Sarita Varma

Sanjana is shocked when Krish proposes marriage. She is not sure she wants to marry her colleague but he appears to take her for granted. That’s when she escapes to Fatehpur to attend a family wedding. Rajan turns up unexpectedly. In her teens, Sanjana had believed herself in love with Rajan. But he had not been interested. When opportunities throw Sanjana and Rajan together, again and again, she begins to dream of a second chance. But Krish turns up at the wedding in pursuit of her. Read Girl From Fatehpur to find out who will be the lucky man to get Sanjana.

It’s a lovely story woven together in well written English by Sarita Varma. I enjoyed the building up of relationship between the main characters. The wedding scene, the Kumbh Mela and the car ride taken by Rajan and Sanjana to Fatehpur make for an interesting read. The love triangle between Krish, Sanjana and Rajan keeps the reader hooked till the end, hoping that she would land up with the right man. Congratulations Sarita Varma! Way to go! Looking forward to more from you!

Click Here to get your copy of GIRL FROM FATEHPUR by Sarita Varma on Indireads 

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Karari Bhindi
Well, I am proud to say that this recipe is my own creation. It’s not only a hit with my family, but also my friend and her family. Bhindi or lady’s finger is very good for health. That said, it might be difficult to persuade people to eat it unless it is deeply fried. That way, the chances are that it loses all its healthy properties. The way I make it, the dish is quite tasty as well as it retains at least some of its vitamins and other ingredients.


Lady’s finger (Bhindi) – ½ kg (cut into ½ inch pieces)
Oil – 3 tbsp
Rai – ½ tsp
Jeera – ½ tsp
Kotmir – 1 tbsp (chopped)

Raw mix

Besan – 4 tbsp
Salt to taste
Dhania powder – ½ tsp
Jeera powder – ½ tsp
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Chilli powder – ½ tsp (can be more or less as per taste)
Hing powder – 1 large pinch
Garam masala powder – ¼ tsp (optional)


1. Take a large mixing bowl and place the cut lady’s fingers in it.
2. Add all the items under ‘raw mix’ and gently mix with the bhindi till each one is well coated.
3. Keep aside for about half an hour, while mixing two or three times in between.
4. Heat a non-stick kadai and add the oil to it. When the oil is hot, crackle the rai and jeera before adding the bhindi mixture.
5. Cook gently on slow to medium fire, stirring gently from time to time. Make sure that the bhindi pieces don’t break.
6. Once it’s well cooked, switch off the gas, remove to a serving dish, garnish with kotmir.

Karari Bhindi tastes super yummy with rotis and puris.

NOTE: If you prefer to have Karari Bhindi with South Indian sambar or rasam rice, avoid using garam masala powder.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


The Kapoor waaris keeps getting better and better! 

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Kunaal Roy Kapoor, Kalki Koechlin, Farooq Sheikh, Tanvi Azmi
Director: Ayan Mukerji


The film begins with Aditi’s (Kalki Koechlin) wedding invitations being sent to her best friends Naina (Deepika Padukone), Kabir aka Bunny (Ranbir Kapoor) and Avinash aka Avi (Aditya Roy Kapoor). Aditi is getting married to Taran (Kunaal Roy Kapoor). Seeing the invite takes Naina down memory lane eight years back. We see in flashback how the shy, introvert Naina, became friends with the other three. Naina falls in love with Kabir who does not want to be tied down to one woman. Back to the present, Kabir is living his dream of travelling the world as a photo journalist. Avi runs a business that is going down the drain while he drinks and gambles his way through life. Naina is a practising doctor living in Mumbai. The rest of the film is set against the backdrop of the many programmes that take place at Aditi’s wedding in Udaipur. Naina falls in love with Kabir all over again. Will he ever return her feelings?


The film is a typical modern romance with a lot of glamour and glitter. The trek to Manali has been beautifully filmed. The music and dance during the events leading up to Aditi’s wedding are quite entertaining and well made.

Deepika, for a change, does not play a dumb party girl and has added a few depths to the character of Naina. She’s has come a long way and finally, it was nice to see her in a proper role.

Ranbir Kapoor! Well, what is there to say that has not already been said? He’s just amazing and does a superb job of playing Kabir – an affectionate son, a loyal friend and a man desperate to live his dreams. All the while, he appears to be someone with no heart. Ranbir’s subtle acting adds so many layers to the character and we can but sit back and applaud. He has his mother Neetu’s eyes and they are so expressive. Kudos!

Aditya Roy Kapoor – I probably would not have noticed him if I had not seen Aashiqui 2 before this one. While he has a major role, I felt quite fed up of seeing the same act of a drunkard throughout the film. He was passable.

Kalki Koechlin was very good in her role as Aditi. From being an irresponsible youngster who is so in love with Avi, she grows up to being a responsible adult who genuinely values her relationship with Taran. Well done, Kalki!

While it was a fun watch, when you get back home and sit back to think about it, it makes you wonder what was really there in the film. Well, just as the title suggests, ‘Jawaani is Diwaani’. The film is all about how these four friends – rather three, not counting Avi – grow up to become mature adults.

One thing that I could not quite digest is how everyone keeps drinking non-stop. There appears to be a kind of desperation as each and every scene is with all of them – with the exception of Naina, sometimes – drinking away their lives. Are today’s youth so brainless?

VERDICT: It’s worth a watch, especially to see Ranbir in action! He’s just amazing!

RATING: ***Smart


Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Garam Masala Powder
Garam masala is a common ingredient used in Indian cooking, especially in North India. Of course, the easiest way to stock this is to get a ready made packet from your grocer.

Only I find that the ready made garam masala does not have a strong flavour. It’s also red in colour as it probably contains more chilli than anything else. That’s why I make my own recipe at home.

If you love to cook from fresh ingredients and don’t mind the little bit of extra effort, then you have come to the right place.


Fennel Seeds – 50 gm
Poppy Seeds – 10 gm
Cloves – 10 gm
Cinnamon – 5 gm
Cardamom – 10 gm
Black cardamom – 2
Star Anise – 4
Black Pepper – 1 tbsp
Mace – 5 gm
Stone flower – 5 gm

1. Cloves; 2. Star Anise; 3. Fennel Seeds; 4. Black Pepper; 5. Mace; 6. Cardamom; 7. Black Cardamom;
8. Poppy Seeds; 9. Stone Flower; 10. Cinnamon


1. Take a dry saucepan and roast the fennel seeds till they slightly change colour.
2. Add the rest of the masala ingredients and roast for a short while so that they have no dampness in them. This ensures that the masala powder does not get spoilt over a long period.
3. Cool the ingredients and then grind them in a mixer to a fine powder.
4. Store in a glass jar and use when required.

If the garam masala will last you more than three months, it’s best to store it in an airtight container in your freezer.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

eBook Review: ONLY A DREAM By Jazz Singh

Rhea holds a senior position in a hotel chain. To her shock, the chain has been sold out to Varun and his father. She had never thought she would set eyes on Varun, ever again. They had been so in love a few years back – until Varun had betrayed her in the worst way possible. Now it looks like he wants them to get back together. Is Rhea ready for her heart to be broken once again?

A cute love story with a five star hotel in the background! Then there are Varun’s friends Ajay and Kirpal who also become Rhea’s friends. A very typical Indian scenario with the parents of both main characters in the background and a lot of back and forth between the two in the form of dialogue throughout the book, keep the reader hooked.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Only a Dream by Jazz Singh. I look forward to reading another book by the same author which is called Against All Odds.

I have to mention here that the cover by Mariyam Iftikar looks delicious.

Click Here to buy your copy of ONLY A DREAM By Jazz Singh on Indireads.