Saturday, August 31, 2013



Five thousand years ago, there came to earth a magical being called Krishna, who brought about innumerable miracles for the good of mankind. Humanity despaired of its fate if the Blue God were to die but was reassured that he would return in a fresh avatar when needed in the eventual Dark Age, the Kaliyug.

In modern times, a poor little rich boy grows up believing that he is that final avatar. Only, he is a serial killer. In this heart-stopping tale, the arrival of a murderer who executes his gruesome and brilliantly thought-out schemes in the name of God is the first clue to a sinister conspiracy to expose an ancient secret, Krishna’s priceless legacy to mankind.

Historian Ravi Mohan Saini must breathlessly dash from the submerged remains of Dwarka and the mysterious lingam of Somnath to the icy heights of Mount Kailash, in a quest to discover the cryptic location of Krishna's most prized possession. From the sand-washed ruins of Kalibangan to a Vrindavan temple destroyed by Aurangzeb, Saini must also delve into antiquity to prevent a gross miscarriage of justice.


A humongous amount of research has gone into this book. So much so, that the way it’s been presented makes the reader wonder whether the book is a work of fiction at all. It so reminded me of the novel ‘Prizes’ by Erich Segal. Prizes was like reading a physics text book. The author had obviously done a lot of research and was using his knowledge. That’s fair to him. But what about the one who is looking forward to reading a work of fiction? And then finding so much knowledge crammed down one’s throat. I am sure there is a subtle way of doing this. In fact, I have garnered a lot of my knowledge through reading fiction. The presentation counts, doesn’t it?

There is a point at which Professor Ravi Mohan Saini’s student Priya tells him to stop his boring lectures. She could not be more right. He does go on and on about history and mythology. I love both the subjects, but definitely not the way they have been packaged in this book.

How could the professor come up with his answer in a jiffy, every time? He guesses most of them. While they are based on his knowledge, it’s still strange the way he keeps going by hunches and the reader is given the impression that he comes up trumps each time. Everything is happening in Ravi Mohan Saini’s head. Difficult to swallow!

I have read Ashwin Sanghi’s (as Shawn Haigins) The Rozabal Line. Well researched, fast paced, logical, fascinating and beautifully written. It’s difficult to accept that the same author has come up with The Krishna Key.

I was so looking forward to reading the book and was terribly disappointed. Well, the book has its moments when I came across different religious symbols and stuff that are common globally. I was glad to read about those and could also relate to them.

The brief snippets surrounding Lord Krishna’s life in the first person were not too bad. But I could not make the connection between those and the present day scenario.

The end was worse. Everything is based on conjecture and the reader is left hanging in the air wondering about the purpose of the gruesome murders. It did make me question the reason for the book at all.

Friday, August 30, 2013


Rubina Ramesh is the owner of the blog The Book Club where she writes book reviews and author interviews regularly. These pertain predominantly to the romance genre while she also writes about other books.

Rubina has done me the honour of not just reviewing my book DOUBLE JEOPARDY, but also doing my very first interview as an author. I am super-thrilled to present it here.

Here is an excerpt:

Q: As a writer when you blog your stories, don't you feel that you are losing out on publishing your stories. That you would do more justice if you publish them, even as a self published ebook?

A: I am 'publishing' my books on my blog. Yes, I lose out on the royalty. There are two angles to publishing. One is being read by people across the globe and the other is money. For 13 years, I had neither. Atleast over the past 3-4 years, my work is read by a number of people. Even if I am published by the best brand, what is the guarantee that my books will be sold? Yes, it would be fantastic if I turned out to be a JK Rowling or an Amish Tripathi. So far there is no indication of that.  I just got fed up with waiting and 'published' my own work for free. I have no regrets. This way at least I write regularly and do get feedback occasionally. Then there are those page hits. Total nasha!

CLICK HERE to read the Book Review & Author Interview by Rubina Ramesh in her blog The Book Club

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Even as a kid, I absolutely loved the ‘lived happily ever after’ syndrome. I grew up reading all the fairy tales I could lay my hands on, Phantom comics, Mandrake comics and the like. It was always about good triumphing over evil and a happy end.

In my teens, I switched my attention from fairy tales to Mills & Boon. While I loved reading both of these, I always wondered what would have happened if there were similar situations happening in India; to a local hero and heroine. My imagination took flight and I have lived in a rosy cocoon of romance over the years.

Then came the writing—a true bolt out of the blue! I could barely string two sentences together when I was younger. While my spoken English had always been excellent—thanks to my grandfather—I could not write to save my life. I was bad at writing essays in both school and college. Later, when it was time to teach my kids, I could manage everything from science to mathematics and history & geography. When it came to writing compositions, my kids found me of no help at all.

All this changed suddenly one fine day in 2000. I had just quit my job at a school’s office and did not know what to do with my life. I was saturated with reading books. When I came home one evening after my walk, I took some sheets of paper and began writing. It was like I was watching a movie that was running in my head and I just had to put it into words. It was as simple as that and my first novel—The Malhotra Bride—was born.

CLICK HERE to read the rest of the story....

You are welcome to post a comment.

My book DOUBLE JEOPARDY is being marketed on Facebook and Twitter today and tomorrow. You are welcome to LIKE Indireads on FB and participate in the promotions. Thank you all in advance! 

Some more reviews that I got from my readers:

Faye Remedios says:

Enjoyed this book thoroughly! Spent a perfect rainy weekend snuggled up in bed with some hot chocolate, crisps and Sun’s equally delicious romance. Who can resist a story involving two gorgeous brothers..that itself adds a dash of naughty fun. But the best part for me was Sanya’s character – I’m not a fan of simpering, weak damsels and this feisty character who was used to the best and made no bones about it was just the right kind of protagonist. And happy endings are essential and this frothy, fun romance didn’t disappoint in any aspect. I’ve had the pleasure and the honour of reading Sundari’s earlier work and she gets better with each story…Can’t wait for the next one!

Jeetu says:

Great Read! Romance is not one of my preferred genres, but this book is difficult to ignore or keep down once you have started!

Bhavana Murali says:

I had such fun reading this one, I decided to ditch a movie to finish the book. A cocktail of entertainment, this will definitely be treat for readers who love urban Indian romance. Double jeopardy, double the satisfaction!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Recipe: Self-invented THALIPEETH

It was my friend Nilima who introduced me to Thalipeeth, a typical Maharashtrian snack. We used to go to this joint near our office at Web 18 and have this dish at least once a week. After quitting my job, I never got around to tasting Thalipeeth until Vinny’s dietician introduced it to her.

The original Thalipeeth is deep fried. But I find that too oily and decided to make it using an iron skillet.

I have tried buying the special mixed flour for this one but one small packet costs about Rs. 25 and it will be enough to make just 3-4 pieces. Not the most practical, I thought.

Yesterday, I decided to make my own when I came upon a shop in Matunga that sold different types of atta. I got five types of atta, added wheat flour to them and made some delicious Thalipeeth at home last night for dinner. My children just loved it while Venkat was not too enamoured.


1. Bajri Flour – 3 tbsp
2. Nachini Flour – 3 tbsp
3. Makkai Flour – 3 tbsp
4. Soya Bean Flour – 3 tbsp
5. Jowari Flour – 3 tbsp
6. Wheat Flour – 3 tbsp
7. Grated Carrot – 1 cup
8. Grated Cabbage – 1 cup
9. Chopped Onion – 1 cup
10. Chopped Coriander Leaves – 2 tbsp
11. Dhania Powder – ½ tsp
12. Jeera Powder – ½ tsp
13. Mirchi Powder – ¼ tsp
14. Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
15. Amchur Powder – ½ tsp
16. Garam Masala Powder – ¼ tsp
17. Salt
18. Oil – 1 small cup
19. Garlic – 3 cloves
20. Curry Leaves – 8-10
21. Green Chillies – 2


1. Coarse grind garlic, curry leaves and green chillies in a mixer.
2. Add all ingredients from 1 to 17 in a mixing bowl. Add the coarse ground lasoon paste to it.
3. Add 2 tsp oil to it.
4. Mix well to the consistency of roti dough.
5. You will most probably not require to add water. If you find the dough too stiff, sprinkle some water and mix. Avoid otherwise.
6. Make the dough into balls the size of an orange.
7. Take a thick sheet of plastic and spread it on the kitchen platform. Applying some oil to the plastic, gently flatten a ball of dough to a round shape with your hand. Make it as thin as possible.
8. Heat an iron skillet on the gas, keep the flame to medium. Smear the tawa with oil before placing the Thalipeeth to cook on it. Add a few drops of oil.
9. Cook for a couple of minutes before turning to the other side. Add a few more drops of oil and cook till the Thalipeeth turns a golden brown.
10. Serve hot with Green Chutney, Sweetened Dahi or Srikhand.

It tastes absolutely yummy. Getting so many ingredients together is the difficult part. Once you have them at hand, making Thalipeeth is child’s play.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Film Review: MADRAS CAFÉ

Madras Café is Simply Superb! 

Cast: John Abraham, Nargis Fakhri, Rashi Khanna, Siddhartha Basu, Ajay Ratnam, Prakash Belawadi
Director: Shoojit Sircar

Looking at the promos, I realised that the film was about Sri Lanka, India and the LTTE. I was not too keen on watching it as I thought it would be full of violence. I wondered why they wanted to dig up the past and irritate the world.

But when Venkat said he was going, Vignesh joined in and I decided to go with them. I am glad that I did. We went for the 11 pm show at Cinemax on Saturday night.


Major Vikram Singh (John Abraham) is in the Indian Army. When the Indian Peacekeeping Force is compelled to withdraw from Sri Lanka during the civil war, RAW Chief Robin Dutt (Siddhartha Basu) appoints Vikram as a special officer for RAW. Vikram is to go to Sri Lanka on a secret operation to find out what’s going on. Vikram’s wife (Rashi Khanna) is terribly upset and scared about her husband’s mission. Jaya (Nargis Fakhri) is an Indian-born journalist based in London. She is also at Jaffna to get information on the civil war. Anna Bhaskaran (Ajay Ratnam) is the leader of LTF (read LTTE) rebels. He’s ruthless and determined.

The spy thriller goes on to show a plot to assassinate the ex-Prime Minister of India. While the film is fictional, it is obviously based on the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.


I was worried that the film will be very violent considering that it’s based on the LTTE and Sri Lankan civil war. While there were a few scenes depicting this – they were absolutely necessary – the film has been too well made.

John Abraham as Major Vikram Singh is good. While John is not a great actor, he has done his best in this one. This role did not require much acting and hence did not tax the actor too much.

The role of a London based journalist suited Nargis Fakhri perfectly. She did not have to undergo a gamut of expressions and had to predominantly speak in only English - just perfect for the actress.

So, I suppose it was a casting coup as well as Shoojit Sircar’s directorial skills that made a success of these two characters.

Rashi Khanna is tearful in the few scenes that she appears in. Not too bad, I suppose.

I have seen Ajay Ratnam play the villain in a few Tamil films. In this one, he plays the role of the stony-faced LTF leader Anna Bhaskaran. He was good.

Siddhartha Basu is known best as a quiz master. He is also the producer of Kaun Banega Crorepati. Basu has turned towards acting for the first time in Madras Café. He plays the role of RAW Chief Robin Dutt. He has done an excellent job of his role and has proved that he can turn his hand at just about anything - something commendable for one who has begun his acting career at 59. Congratulations Siddhartha Basu!

Prakash Belawadi is another actor who definitely deserves a mention. He plays the role of Balakrishnan who is Vikram’s senior at Jaffna. He was very good.

The film itself has been tightly scripted and keeps one hooked throughout. Running for 2 hours and 10 minutes without a single song, the movie has been edited precisely without any part of it dragging unnecessarily. One has to congratulate Chandrashekhar Prajapati for editing the film so well.

A final Congratulations to Director Shoojit Sircar for delivering an interesting spy thriller after the hilarious and thought-provoking Vicky Donor.

VERDICT: The film was simply superb!

RATING: ****Snazzy


Saturday, August 24, 2013


Thailand Week 2013 @ The Bombay Store

My friend Bharati sent me the facebook link of The Bombay Store with info about the Thailand Week 2013 that was being celebrated from August 22 to September 1, 2013. The shop was keen that bloggers cover the event. I decided to go on August 23 to their outlet at Fort. By the way, the Thai Fest is on at their Fort Branch, their branches at Inorbit Mall - Vashi and Malad.

A display of Ganeshas near the entrance to the store
While I have been to The Bombay Store at Phoenix Mills, this was my first visit to the Fort one. The shop is huge, especially considering that it is in such a prime area. They have a variety of art and craft and the main theme near the entrance was Lord Ganesha as Ganesh Chaturthi is fast approaching.

Showcase with colourful Thai umbrellas
When I started taking pictures, one of the attendants told me that it was not allowed. I told him that I wanted to write about the Thai Fest and required pictures for the same. He told me that the fest was further down and I could take pictures there.

Thai lanterns as you enter The Bombay Store
I walked in and came upon this Thai woman and man who were working on some craft. There was no demo as such. They were talking to themselves and working on some umbrellas, flowers and there were a few miniature facemasks that were displayed on a stand. I hung around wondering if someone was going to demonstrate their work, but nothing materialised.

Flowers made Thai style
I went in further to check out some ceramic and glass dinner sets and the like that were from Thailand. Nothing unique there! They could have been from any part of the world, maybe even India.

I walked around the store checking out the other wares on sale. I was interested in the cloth bags. But the pricing was crazy. There’s no other way to put it. I have seen similar bags selling for half the price at good shopping outlets and I don’t mean the vendors on the streets. The Bombay Store obviously caters to high-end clients from SoBo and foreigners, of course. I thought it would be stupid to spend hard-earned money on their products.

Bags galore! All horrendously priced
There was a variety, of course. There were mounted pictures of old Bombay scenes, statuettes in clay and bronze, incense sticks, aromatic candles, bags of different types, mugs, glasses, lamp-shades, jewellery, hand-made stationery and the like. It was a feast for the eyes, definitely.

There was this theme bag that I liked. It depicted couples from different states of India with a greeting in the local tongue. There were bags representing Maharashtrians, Punjabis, Gujaratis and more. I searched a bit and came upon one from Tamil Nadu. The cartoon of the couple was nice. But to my horror, the word on it was ‘VADAKKAM’ instead of ‘VANAKKAM’ meaning ‘Namaste’ in Tamil. How dumb could that be!

Checking out the prices on the incense sticks and candles, I decided that even they were priced too high (by at least 50%) and left the shop without buying anything.

Friday, August 23, 2013


Royal Garden Resort
On Sunday last, Venkat offered to take us all for a ride to Lonavla. Viggy was not too keen to go away for the whole day and finally we decided to go to Royal Garden Resort on Mumbai Ahmedabad Highway. Actually, we used to visit this place often when Vinny and Viggy were kids. We had been there about 5-6 times and remembered that the food was excellent.

The bar at The Orient
We left home by about 12.30 pm and went by Sion-Panvel Highway on to Godhbunder Road. Luckily, there was not too much traffic and despite bad roads we reached the junction where this road met with the Mumbai Ahmedabad Highway and took a right from there to reach Royal Garden Resort. We were there before 2 pm.

The spacious restaurant - The Orient
The place had changed a lot since our previous visit. They have added more rooms as well as a water park to the resort. The restaurant that used to be housed in the open air had been covered by a proper building. It is called The Orient now. We thought that they served Chinese food. Luckily, that was not so. The Orient serves Indian, Chinese, Mexican and Italian. But, they are still best known for the Indian cuisine as we found out.

A view of the resort rooms and the garden in front of them
We took a round of the place. We missed the large open space that has been swallowed up by the myriad constructions. There used to be a small pond with many ducks. But the resort still sports a lot of greenery and it looked beautiful in the rains.

Boiled channa salad; Masala Papad
We finally settled down in the spacious restaurant with floor length windows. Venkat and Vignesh ordered beers. They served boiled channa flavoured with onions, kotmir, etc. It was simply delicious.

The four of us at The Orient
We asked for Masala Papad and they were brought to our table crunchy as ever. What I have noticed with this is that usually the papads gets a bit soft by the time they are served. But the Masala Papad served here was anything but. They tasted absolutely yummy.

Tandoori Chicken
We asked for starters. Viggy ordered a Tandoori Chicken. Father and son totally relished it. Then we asked for a plate of Mixed Bhajjias and Paneer Tikka. Venkat requested the waiter not to add food colour to our dishes. They obliged us.

Mixed Bhajia Platter
The mixed platter consisted of potato, khanda, cauliflower, capsicum and green chilli bhajias. They all tasted awesome. The Paneer Tikka simply melted in our mouths. The kachumber that came along was delicious. I had a Virgin Pina Colada with my starters. It was superb!

Paneer Tikka
We ordered a round of Cole Slaw Salad (well, that’s what it was called on the menu). It was fresh and yummy and consisted of yellow and red bell peppers along with the usual cabbage and carrots. Yummy! Venkat insisted on having a second round.

Cole Slaw
By now, Vinny and I were quite full and decided to take a walk while father and son decided to order a Mutton Biryani. When we returned after ten minutes, they were tucking into the biryani with great relish.

Virgin Pina Colada
After some more time, Vinny asked for Dal Makhani and Roti while Viggy asked for a Lachcha Paratha. I ordered Pasta in Spinach and Cheese Sauce. While my kids found their food simply great, the Pasta was extremely mediocre. I just could not finish it despite the helping being just enough for one person.

Mutton Biryani
We asked for two small cup ice creams to finish off our lunch. I would recommend the restaurant highly for its Indian cuisine. They serve absolutely delicious Indian food here.

Dal Makhani; Roti; Lachcha Paratha
They have a full fledged water park and rooms to stay in if you plan to spend a weekend there. There is also a poolside restaurant that is functional in the evenings, I think. You can check out the details in their website that I have mentioned below.

Pasta in Spinach & Cheese Sauce
We left after lunch and drove back by the Western Express Highway and got stuck in traffic as there is construction work going on near the airport. We finally got back home at around 6 pm. A lovely outing indeed!

Royal Garden Resort
Mumbai Ahmedabad Highway,
9 Km from Dahisar Check Post,
Taluka Vasai,
Thane District
Phone: 0250-2230017/19

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Beans-Tuvar Dal Sabzi

While French Beans are very healthy and packed with nutrients, they can taste quite boring. In Tamil Nadu, we make it along with grated coconut and it goes well with sambar rice or rasam rice. But to have it with rotis, it usually needs to be used along with other vegetables to be tasty. A few days back, I just wondered how to make beans interesting when Bhagavan gave me this idea. Believe me, it worked very well, it was easy to cook and very delicious.


French Beans – 250 gm (stringed and chopped fine)
Onion – 1 large (chopped fine)
Tomato – 1 medium (chopped fine)
Tuvar Dal – a handful (soaked for ten minutes)
Rai – 1 tsp
Jeera – 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder – 1 pinch
Mirchi Powder – ¼ tsp
Dhaniya Powder – ¼ tsp
Jeera Powder – ¼ tsp
Garam Masala Powder – ¼ tsp
Kotmir – 1 tbsp (chopped)
Oil – 2 tsp
Salt to taste


1. Boil water in a vessel and add the beans, soaked tuvar dal, salt and turmeric powder and allow it to cook for about five minutes.
2. Switch the gas off and drain the water completely.
3. Heat the oil in a saucepan and allow the rai to crackle in it. Then add the jeera before adding the chopped onions.
4. Keep the flame on medium and stir the onions till they are golden brown. Now add the tomatoes and stir for a couple of minutes.
5. Add all the masala powders and salt. Mix well.
6. Finally, add the beans and tuvar dal and continue to cook on medium flame with a lid over the saucepan.
7. Stir from time to time and cook this mix for about 7-8 minutes or till the water completely evaporates.

Garnish with kotmir and serve hot with rotis or puris. It tastes simply yummy!

Sunday, August 18, 2013


The dialogues were sharp, smart and interesting!

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Imran Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Sonali Bendre Behl, Mahesh Manjrekar, Bala Manian
Director: Milan Luthria
Writer: Rajat Arora

I have not seen the first one starring Ajay Devgn and Emraan Hashmi as I am not too keen on action films. As this time Akshay Kumar had promised that ‘it is personal’ and after the Chennai Express fiasco, I decided ‘what the hell!’ and went to see the movie along with Venkat and Vini on August 15 itself. I am glad that I did!


Set in the 1990s, Shoaib (Akshay Kumar) is a ruthless gangster who would do just anything to have his way, whether for money or women. Shoaib meets Aslam, a street smart kid and takes him under his wing. Twelve years later, Shoaib, who had been in the Middle East, returns to Bombay to kill his rival Rawal (Mahesh Manjrekar). Aslam (Imran Khan) is now a young man who is totally loyal to Shoaib. Jasmine (Sonakshi Sinha) has recently moved to Bombay from Kashmir and is trying to become a film heroine. She meets Aslam and soon the two are attracted to each other. In the meanwhile, Jasmine meets Shoaib and he falls for her innocence. She gets a chance as heroine in a film that Shoaib backs. Watch the film to see who gets Jasmine – Shoaib or Aslam.


I am a sucker for romance and so the film worked for me. The best thing about the film were the dialogues. They were sharp, smart and interesting. Congratulations to Rajat Arora for the same. I so wished that my grasp of Hindi was better than what it is so that I could have appreciated it better. I will probably catch the film again on TV just for that.

The music was good and so were the songs. I especially enjoyed the sequence, “Tayeb Ali Pyar ka Dushman…” The scene was also very well made.

Akshay Kumar has been improving with age. That is probably because he is choosing good roles. I have seen a consistent improvement with Oh My God!, Special 26 and now Once Upon a Time in Mumbai Dobaara! In this film, the actor plays the negative role of a cold-blooded gangster. And he has enacted the part perfectly – with a chilling smile on his face and cold-blooded to the hilt. Good one, Akshay Kumar!

Sonakshi Sinha is excellent as Jasmine. She has a very expressive face and she has used it well to portray different emotions. Her dialogue delivery is just perfect.

Imran Khan! Well, I am never confident that the actor will perform in every film. He was superb in Jaane Tu… Yaa Jaane Na, Meri Brother Ki Dulhan, Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu, Delhi Belly and I Hate Luv Storys. In contrast, Imran Khan was terrible in Luck, Kidnap, Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola  and Break ke Baad.

But Imran Khan was simply superb in this movie as Aslam, Shoaib’s protégée. He has a chunky role and he has delivered. Kudos! Hope to see more of great acting from Imran Khan in the future.

I have to mention here that the role of Vardhan was played by Bala Manian who is my maternal uncle. He is my mother’s youngest brother. He also goes by the screen name of R. Balasubramanian (Monsoon Shootout – Click here to read review of the film). Balu, as we call him, has been acting since many years and has acted in Tamil and Hindi films as well as in TV serials. He was very good as Vardhan in Once Upon a Time in Mumbai Dobaara! Even if it was just the one scene, he has a few dialogues in it. Congratulations Balu!

Two other really good things were that the film was not too long and the fight sequences were also relatively short.  

VERDICT: I thoroughly enjoyed the film.

RATING: ***1/2 (Better than smart)


Friday, August 16, 2013

Recipe: DAHI VADA (North Indian style)

Dahi Vada
While I have eaten Dahi Vada a number of times, I have never made it before. Thayir Vadai in South Indian style is what I know how to make and have done a number of times. Venkat said that he would like to have Dahi Vada - the North Indian way, a few days ago and that’s when I decided to give it a try on Independence Day as it was a holiday for everyone. It was quite yummy and not too difficult to make.


For Vada:

Urad Dal – 250 gm (soaked for 2-3 hours)
Red Chillies – 3
Curry Leaves – 6-8
Salt to taste
Oil for frying
Curd – 4-5 cups
Sugar – 3 tbsp


Green Chutney
Khatta-Meetha Chutney
Chaat Masala

For Garnish:

Kara Boondi – 50 gm
Kotmir – 2 tbsp (chopped)
1. The dough for the vada; 2. Frying vadas; 3. Vadas soaking in curd & water; 4. Vadas in sweet curd


1. Drain the water completely from the soaked urad dal.
2. Add the dal, red chillies, salt and curry leaves to the mixer. Adding water little by little, grind the mixture into a smooth and thick dough. You need to be careful while adding water as a watery dough will not make proper vadas.
3. Take a couple of spoons of curd and beat it in a large bowl. Add 3-4 cups of water to it and mix well. This is for soaking the fried vadas to make them soft.
4. Heat the oil in a kadai. Keep the flame on medium once it’s hot. Now wet your hand and shape the dough into small balls the size of lemons and deep fry till golden brown.
5. Remove the vadas from the oil and put them directly in the curd mixed water. Turn them around a couple of times to make sure that they fully wet. You will find that the vadas sink down in a few minutes.
6. Beat the rest of the curd along with the sugar in a large bowl.
7. Add the water-soaked, softened vadas to the sweetened curd. Take spoonfuls of curd and pour over the vadas to ensure that they are fully coated.
8. Refrigerate the Dahi Vadas for about half an hour before serving.

For serving:

Take 3-4 vadas in a serving bowl. Pour some sweetened curd over them. Add a few blobs of Green Chutney over this. The next layer will be a couple of spoons of Khatta-Meetha Chutney. Take a pinch of Chaat Masala and spray over the Dahi Vada. Spread some Kara Boondi over all this and then some chopped kotmir. Now the Dahi Vada is ready to eat. It looked lovely and tastes absolutely delicious, I promise you!

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Khatta-Meetha Chutney
Khatta-Meetha Chutney is yet another ingredient that adds flavour to chaat items. It is used in Ragada Pattice, Dahi Vada, Pani Puri, Bhel Puri, etc. I don’t know of any shop that sells this readymade. Then again, it’s quite easy to make.


Tamarind – 1 ball (the size of a gooseberry)
Jaggery (Gur) – 100 gm
Seedless Dates – 6
Salt – ¼ tsp
Mirchi Powder – ¼ tsp


1. Soak the tamarind in hot water for about half an hour.
2. Extract the juice twice to have about a large cup of tamarind juice.
3. Heat the tamarind juice, jaggery and dates for 2-3 minutes and switch off the gas.
4. Allow the mixture to cool down before running it in a mixer to make a smooth paste.
5. Add mirchi powder and salt to the mix and stir well.

Delicious Khatta-Meetha Chutney is ready to be used in any of your chaats.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Kotmir-Pudina Chutney
While I am calling this Kotmir-Pudina Chutney, a whole lot of other ingredients go into it. This super-delicious chutney can be used in sandwiches and chaats.


Kotmir (Coriander leaves) – 1 large bunch (cleaned and cut)
Pudina (Mint leaves) – 10
Roasted peanuts – 1 handful
Onion – 1 (medium, cut into pieces)
Garlic – 6 cloves
Green Chillies – 6-8 (add or minus according to how spicy you want the chutney to be)
Salt – ½ tsp
Sugar – 1 tsp
Juice from half a lemon


Blend all the ingredients to a smooth paste in the mixer. Aromatic and yummy Kotmir chutney is ready. It’s as simple as that!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Chaat Masala
Chaat Masala adds punch to many dishes, especially items like Sev Puri, Ragada Pattice, Dahi Vada and the like. Of course, this is available readymade with many brands. But I prefer the Chaat Masala that I make at home.


Jeera – 50 gm
Pepper – 1 tsp
Black Salt – 50 gm
Salt – ¼ tsp
Mirchi Powder – ½ tsp


1. Roast the jeera well till it turns brown.
2. Add the pepper and mix well just a couple of minutes before you turn off the gas.
3. Allow the jeera-pepper mix to cool down.
4. Add jeera, pepper, black salt, salt and mirchi powder together in the mixer and grind to a fine powder.

If you think you might use this quantity over a couple of months, store half of it in an airtight container in the kitchen and the other half in another container that can be kept in your freezer.

You can even make delicious chaas by adding Chaat Masala to it.

Monday, August 12, 2013


There’s a very strong divide between ‘class’ and ‘crass’. Shah Rukh Khan bridges the gap with total ease

Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Sathyaraj, Nikitin Dheer
Director: Rohit Shetty

I was not too sure that I wanted to see the film after looking at the promos. But Venkat is an ardent fan of Shah Rukh Khan and wanted to go. I tagged along out of curiosity for the paid premiere on Thursday, August 8, 2013. That’s right! Curiosity did kill the cat. And as you can see, it has taken me four days to post the review.


Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan) has been orphaned since he was eight and brought up by his grandparents. The family owns and runs a sweetmeat shop. Rahul is tied down to his grandparents till he is 40 years old and his life revolves around them and the shop. His grandfather dies on his 100th birthday. Rahul is set the task of taking the old man’s ‘asthi’ to Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu. He plans to have fun with his friends in Goa instead. As his grandmother insists on taking him to the railway station to catch a train to South India, Rahul pretends to travel on Chennai Express. His life goes totally out of control from then on.


I used to adore Shah Rukh Khan – please note the past tense. He’s an excellent and versatile actor. DDLJ is my most favourite film till date. Of course, there have been some debacles – especially under the helm of Red Chillies Entertainment – such as Ram Jaane, Guddu, English Babu Desi Mein, Paheli, and Ra.One, to name a few. I personally liked Paheli, but the film was not a success.

I so wish the actor will take up interesting roles as he gets older. Chak De was an excellent film and SRK’s performance was just brilliant. If I remember right, the budget for this film was not too big and there was not too much marketing involved either.

I see a kind of desperation in the marketing tactics for Chennai Express. Is it because the content is so ‘khokla’ that it is so? Every TV channel you tune into is talking about Chennai Express, while they are trying to get Kashmir and Kanyakumari together by selling it all the way from the North Pole to the South Pole.

Yes, I also heard the news that they have crossed the 100 crore mark. Why not? Ticket rates are soaring, especially so for the Eid weekend. Everyone wants to see the film – including me – because SRK is starring in it. But does that mean I made an intelligent decision when I spent Rs. 250 for seeing this crap? Most definitely not!

I do like masala flicks – the Rohit Shetty kind – Golmaal: Fun Unlimited (only the first one in the series, mind you); Singham and Bol Bachchan were quite good. But there is a limit to which one can tolerate beefed up thugs, smashed jeeps and prolonged fight sequences. They get more ridiculous with each film.

Chennai Express takes the cake! The thugs are taller and wider with Nikitin Dheer topping the list. I wonder what kind of steroids they must be consuming to be like this. They stand around like baboons with vacant expressions, not adding an iota of value to the film.

Shah Rukh Khan insists that Rahul is all of forty years old. Why the hell does he not behave his age? Rahul’s antics suggest someone who is in Junior College. Need I say more?

The ‘kashin bradhars’ don’t understand Hindi anyway. Rahul and Meenamma (Deepika Padukone) could have comfortably conversed in the language. Why sing antaksharis and torture the audience? If they thought it was comical, they surely have another think coming. Many of the dialogues were in Tamil and then translated into Hindi. To someone like me who speaks both languages, it was prolonged agony. I am sure they could have handled it differently - maybe with captions.

I originate from Chennai and have travelled by Chennai Express at least a hundred times. I have not once noticed the scenes that unfold in the film. Yes, they are scenic, but absolutely inauthentic. Kathakali is the regional dance of Kerala; a Tamil woman wears her nose-ring on her right nostril; a guy carrying his wife up the staircase of a temple is probably borrowed from Karnataka. While Meenamma wears a nose-ring on the left, the other sequences don’t have anything to do with Chennai or Tamil Nadu. Well, these are the goof ups that I noticed. There could have been many more. Shoddy research indeed!

The final fight sequence was the extreme limit. Rahul is a ‘halwaai’ and quite small in stature. He is just a ‘common man’ as he screams to us at least 30 times during the film. He is forty. How could he fight thugs who are thrice his size just to prove his love? Bizarre!

Among all this mess, I was truly impressed with Deepika Padukone’s performance. The actress has obviously been working hard and improving her skills. She’s excellent as Meenalochani despite the stupid accent. In fact, it quite adds to her charms. And she looks gorgeous too! Kudos Deepika! You are truly a Bollywood Queen today!

I would like to believe that Shah Rukh Khan is quite bright. Did he not see the final cut of the film? Anyone with half the intelligence would have seen it for the crack-pot film that it is. The film will probably appeal the people in the slums, thanks to its slapstick humour and sickle-wielding thugs.

While SRK has grown in years, it does not appear that he has matured as an actor. If you want to do romance, do one as a fifty-year-old or have a script written for you in the lines of Amitabh Bachchan’s Cheeni Kum. Do not torture us with this kind of a stupid film.

VERDICT: Watch it at your own risk

RATING: ** Shaky (one star belongs to Deepika Padukone and none to SRK)


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sharing: 6D THEATRE @ R-City Mall

Vini had an office programme at R-City Mall on Friday last. She went early to reach there before two pm. I left later and got there by 5 pm. The crowd was incredible as it was Eid. It took me a while to enter the compound.

I waited for her programme to get over outside Starbucks while I read a book – The Krishna Key. I attended the tail end of their show and then we took off checking out what R-City Mall had to offer.

One of the attractions was 6D Theatre. I am not sure what they mean by 6D. But we decided to check it out anyway. The tickets came for Rs. 150 per person for a half an hour show. I have been to one such show at Imax Wadala some years back.

We got in at 8.15 and took our seats. They gave us 3D glasses. We had been warned that the seats would move and we would feel sprays of water as well as air blown into our faces. All of that happened and it was such fun! I have not laughed so much since long. Vini kept swearing as she got scared a few times. I had promised myself that I would close my eyes if I got afraid. Well, I did not bother as it was anything but frightening.

There were three small movies. The first – Snowy Rocket Mission – was of a rocket travelling too close to the surface on snowbound peaks. We escaped so many near-crashes. It was exciting as I could feel my body moving in tune as if I was piloting the craft myself.

The second was in a jungle – African Jungle Safari. It was quite pathetic with a couple of spiders, a prehistoric mammoth and a few snakes. But quite amusing!

The third was the best of the lot – Roller Coaster. It was a roller-coaster ride. The only time I sat on a real one at Esselworld, I had sworn to myself never to take this type of ride again. But this virtual trip was simply fabulous, with my feet barely a few inches from the floor.

Actually speaking, all the three films were of mediocre quality. But what the hell! It was pure unadulterated enjoyment. I felt like a kid.