Wednesday, September 25, 2013


The film calls out to your heart!

Cast: Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Director: Ritesh Batra

I had seen and heard a number of rave reviews for this film. Venkat and I went to catch it on Tuesday night at Cinemax Sion.

To be truthful, I love the glitz and glamour in Bollywood films and very rarely see realistic ones. I am not very fond of Irrfan Khan either while I agree that he is a great actor. I have not seen many of his movies.


Ila (Nimrat Kaur) makes her husband’s dabba with a lot of love and effort and is very eager to please. Unfortunately, the dabba with her newest recipes lands up in the hands of Saajan Fernandez (Irrfan Khan) who works in the claims department of a government office. Fernandez is widowed and is about to retire. He usually gets his dabba from a local restaurant and is surprised to taste the delicious meal.

After a couple of days, Ila realises that the dabba is being delivered into wrong hands. She sends a note along with it. That’s how the connection begins. She is lonely and so is he.


The heartrending scene of life in a metropolis like Mumbai hits one while watching the film. It is so sad that a person can feel so lonely in such a crowded city. But that is the story of the widowed Fernandez. He is also ‘khadoos’ by nature, works hard and has no friends.

Only Irrfan Khan can play the role to such perfection.

Nimrat Kaur as Ila has also done an excellent job as the lonely housewife. The letters the two of them write to one another via The Lunchbox is what keeps the film going. It would have been difficult to talk to one another in person. But putting things in a letter seems that much easier.

The relationship between the two is beautifully built through these letters. And one can so relate to the way the film ends, while not necessarily be happy about it.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui is a superb actor and he adds some humour to the serious film.

It gladdens one heart as one sees the letters bringing about a change in the protagonists’ lives. Fernandez is shaken out of his indifference to the people around him while Ila decides to leave her cheating husband.

The neighbour’s voice from the above floor adds value to the film. Ila’s little daughter speaks barely a few words, but her eyes say it all.

The film ran for an hour and 49 minutes, was just the ideal length and well edited by John F. Lyons.

VERDICT: A must watch!

RATING: **** ½ (A little short of super)


Monday, September 23, 2013

Food Review: CREAM CENTRE @ R-City Mall

Cream Centre @ R-City Mall
On one of our visits to R-City Mall, Vinny and I wanted to eat at one of the restaurants there. First, we went to Quattro, the Italian joint. Unfortunately, they did not have either the soup or the starters that we wanted. We left the restaurant to go to Cream Centre on the same floor. Cream Centre serves vegetarian fare – Mexican, Italian and Indian.

I was kind of wary of the place as my experience at the Cream Centre outlet near Shoppers’ Stop at Amar Mahal, Chembur, was not the best. But I am glad that we went to Cream Centre @ R-City Mall.

American Corn Cheese Balls with potato wafers, green chutney & ketchup
THUMBS UP 1: We ordered American Corn Cheese Balls for starters. They served it in ten minutes – hot corn cheese balls with potato wafers. They gave us ketchup with them. We requested for green chutney and got it immediately at no extra cost. The starters were perfectly cooked, just the right temperature and tasted oh-so-delicious! The chutney was also yummy.

Delicious Chole!
THUMBS UP 2: We asked for Chole & Tawa Parathas for the main course. We planned to share as they serve a good quantity of chole. I have never tasted such yummy chole in my life. It was cooked to perfection and the flavour was simply awesome. The accompanying Tawa Parathas were also tasty.

Along with the main course!
THUMBS UP 3: The bill for these two dishes turned out to be quite reasonable. I fail to recall the amount as we had done this trip quite a while back.

Definitely worth a visit!

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Yummy golden brown appams
I learned to make sweet appam from both my mother and grandmother. It is not too difficult to make, as in you cannot go wrong while making this sweet. Hence, this is a personal favourite and of course, we all love it at home.


Wheat Flour – 1 cup
Jaggery – ½ cup
Banana – 1
Cardamom – 6 (powdered)

For frying

A mix of oil and ghee in the proportion you choose. I use half of each.

Appams cooking in the appa kaarai

1. Add all the four ingredients to a mixer along with some water and mix thoroughly into a dough the same consistency as that for dosas.
2. Take an appa kaarai (a special kadai for cooking appams) and heat it on the gas.
3. Add some oil and ghee and keep the flame on medium.
4. Take a small serving spoon and add the dough to about three-fourths of the appa kuzhi (the small round cups in the kadai).
5. Allow the appams to cook for a couple of minutes before turning them around. Use a long handled spoon and turn them gently, or they may break and create a mess. I use a wooden chopstick and a spoon. By now, your kitchen must be smelling divine.
6. Cook for 3-4 minutes on the other side and remove the golden brown appams, before making the next batch.

Serve hot or cooled with a spoon of white butter. I promise you that your family will love you for the tasty appams. I hear they are also one of Lord Ganpati’s favourites.

NOTE: There is also a non-stick version of Appa Kaarai available in the market.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


It’s a fun watch if you are fond of masala flicks!

Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Ileana D’Cruz, Padmini Kolhapure, Saurabh Shukla, Darshan Jhaveri, Mukesh Tiwari
Director: Rajkumar Santoshi

Vinitha, Venkat and I went to watch this film on Friday night, the same day it released, at Cinemax Sion.


Even as a kid, it has been drummed into Vishwas (Shahid Kapoor in the adult avatar) that he should become an honest police officer. His mother (Padmini Kolhapure) is an auto-rickshaw driver in a small town where the duo lives. In the meanwhile, Vishwas dreams of becoming an actor, a hero.

On the pretext of giving an exam for the post of a police officer, Vishwas goes to Mumbai to try his hand at acting. There he meets Complaint Kajal (Ileana D’Cruz), who believes that he is a Police Inspector.

After taking a number of twists and turns, the film goes on to prove that Vishwas is a hero through and through. You have to see the movie to find out whether he realises his mother’s or his own dreams.


The film was a total fun watch with a number of hilarious moments. Shahid Kapoor is an excellent actor and even better dancer. There were a couple of songs that made for superb dance moves and Shahid has made perfect use of these opportunities.

It’s just that he disappointed me in the last scene. Just before he goes up on stage to receive an award, Shahid shows a strange expression on his face. There is a lot of emotion, but one is unable to make out whether he is feeling that way because of sorrow or joy. I was thoroughly confused and did not understand whether the film ended on a happy or sad note.

Ileana D’Cruz looks glamorous and has a very good dressing style. But her acting skills need to improve a lot. All the best!

I somehow did not like Padmini Kolhapure’s character of a loving mother. It was absolutely unconvincing. She dotes on her only child, but is absolutely clear that he should become only what she wants of him. She is aware of his childhood dreams that continue into adulthood. I am not able to understand how such an adoring mother does not give a damn about her favourite child’s dreams, not one jot. The actress did well as an emotional blackmailer, of course.

Saurabh Shukla is simply superb in his role as a local don. He brings forth ripples of laughter with his comic timing, again and again. Just loved it!

The rest of the cast including Darshan Jhaveri and Mukesh Tiwari performed quite well.

VERDICT: All in all, it is fun watching the film if you are fond of masala flicks.

RATING: ** ½ (could have been smarter)


Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Ganpati Bappa Morya!
Pudchya Varshi Laukarya!

Today being Ganesh Visarjan, I bring you pictures of Lord Ganesha from the different pandals - Sion & Matunga - that I visited this year.

This is my neighbour Ganesh's Ganpati. They keep the Lord for five days. The backdrop has been designed by his wife Shalakha, She has also made the flowers in the arch. Lovely, isn't it!

This idol was at Joglekar Wadi next to our building. This pandal is maintained by South Indians and as you can see the Murti is designed accordingly.

I found this Murti at a pandal outside Hotel Ashray International, Sion West. I think this was probably started recently as I have never seen a pandal in this area before.

I found this idol of Lord Ganesha at Mira Mansion, Sion West. The blue colour is for Lord Vishnu and the leopard robes denote Lord Shiva. Ganesha in the combination of Shiva & Vishnu is what I understood. A few kids were in charge here. One little girl of probably 10 years, gave me prasad and thanked me very sweetly for visiting their pandal. I was impressed!

This Murti was at Indira Market, Sion West. You can see the Lord sitting atop an trumpeting elephant. Doesn't he look majestic?

I found this idol of Lord Ganpati near the gates of Mira Mansion in Sion West. It was on the footpath and taken care of by a poor old man.

This Murti of Lord Ganesha had been installed at a pandal organised by Sion Cricket Club on Road No. 3, Sion East.

This Grand Lord is environmental friendly. This pandal at Prem Sagar Society has received awards from Times of India, many times over.

This Supreme Lord had been installed at a pandal opposite Asthika Samaj in Matunga. It was so crowded that even I don't quite know how I managed to get a picture without people in it. I just have to thank the Lord for that.

This Tamil Lord was located at the car park outside Matunga Station. I think this pandal is maintained by the famous or notorious (as one sees fit) Varadaraja Mudaliar's family.

Lalbaugcha Raja (Pic courtesy: Jeetu Gursingh)
I have been to see Lalbaugcha Raja just once in my life and that was very many years ago. A friend gave me this picture when I requested him. Jeetu visits this pandal every year along with his family. Don't miss the crowd at 5.30 am. Amazing!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Ragada Patties aka Ragada Pattice
I have my friend Pooja to thank for this recipe. She makes excellent Ragada Patties and I am an able student.


For Patties

Potato – 1 kg (Boiled, peeled and smashed)
Bread – 4 slices
Turmeric Powder – 1 pinch
Salt to taste
Oil for shallow frying

Cooking on the skillet
For Ragada

White Dry Peas – ¼ kg (soaked for 4-5 hours)
Turmeric Powder – ½ tsp
Salt to taste

For garnish

Green Chutney
Imli Chutney
Ginger-garlic Chutney
Crunchy Puris (those used for Sev Puri)
Chopped Onions
Chopped Kotmir (Coriander leaves)


1. Pressure cook the soaked white peas along with turmeric powder and salt. Keep it on for 8 whistles.
2. Soak the bread slices one by one in water for a few seconds, squeeze the water out completely and add to the mashed potatoes.
3. Add salt and turmeric powder and mix well to make a dough to the consistency of roti dough.
4. Make balls the size of a small orange and flatten it into half-inch thick patties.
5. Heat an iron skillet or non-stick tawa and smear it with oil.
6. Cook the patties on the skillet on both sides, adding a few drops of oil now and then, till they turn a golden brown.
7. Take the cooked white peas in a large vessel, add two glasses of water and boil it on the gas for a few minutes before switching off. This is the ragada.

Place the patties over the bed of ragada and chutneys

How to serve

1. Take a small plate and pour two serving spoons of hot ragada in it.
2. Add two teaspoons of Imli Chutney over it.
3. Top that with one spoon of Green Chutney.
4. Sprinkle a few drops of Ginger-garlic chutney over this.
5. Place two patties on this bed of flavoured ragada.
6. Garnish with one teaspoon of chopped onions, a couple of crushed puris and a few bits of chopped coriander.

Tuck into the most yummilicious Ragada Patties. You will soon become an addict, I promise.

Monday, September 16, 2013


Palak Paneer
I have been making Palak Paneer since many years, adding and deleting ingredients but never satisfied with the taste. The last time I made it, I hit upon the perfect recipe. My family members loved it.

Palak Bunch

Palak – 3 bunches (coarsely chopped, I don’t remove the stalks)
Turmeric Powder – 1 pinch
Paneer – 250 gm (cut into cubes or lengths)
Jeera – ½ tsp
Bay Leaf – 1-2
Oil – 5 tbsp
Salt to taste

To grind

Cashew nuts – 6 (soaked in water for ½ an hour)
Onion – 2 (peeled and cut)
Garlic – 4 cloves
Cubed Paneer (cottage cheese)
Ginger – ½” piece
Green Chillies – 3-4

Masala Powders

Dhania Powder – ¼ tsp
Jeera Powder – ¼ tsp
Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
Mirchi Powder – ¼ tsp
Garam Masala Powder – ¼ tsp


1. Boil the palak along with a little salt and turmeric powder. Once cooked, use a hand mixer to coarse grind it. If you are using a regular mixer, wait for it to cool down.
2. Grind the five ingredients listed together into a smooth paste.
3. Take a saucepan, heat the oil and shallow fry the paneer pieces and remove to a bowl.
4. Heat the leftover oil and crackle jeera and the bay leaves in it.
5. Add the ground masala and fry for 3-4 minutes.
6. Now, add the masala powders to the cooking mixture.
7. Mix well and add some salt. Take note that some salt is already added to the palak.
8. Cook for another couple of minutes before adding the palak to this.
9. Mix thoroughly, check for salt and cook for 3 more minutes.

Add the aromatic palak gravy to the shallow fried paneer and there you have the Palak Paneer. Serve hot with rotis, puris or rice as you please. It tastes absolutely delicious.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Originally, I learned to make this chutney from my friend Pooja. Later, I added a bit of my own innovation to end up with this final product.


Garlic – 10 cloves
Ginger – 2” piece
Red Chilli powder – ½ tsp (if you like it really spicy, increase this quantity)
Oil – 1 tsp
Salt to taste


Add all the ingredients to the mixer and beat into a smooth paste. Add a spoon or two of water only if absolutely necessary. The chutney is quite pungent and should be used sparingly. It can be refrigerated for about 10 days.

Ginger-garlic chutney adds flavour to Pav-Bhaji and Ragada Pattice. It will probably work for a few Chinese recipes too. I am yet to try that. Will keep you posted!

Saturday, September 14, 2013


They had a fabulous combination of actors and still managed to botch up the film. That needs talent, I am sure! 

Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Parineeti Chopra, Rishi Kapoor, Vaani Kapoor
Director: Maneesh Sharma

I thought Shuddh Desi Romance was the tagline and kept searching for the name of the film for a while before I realised that that was the movie title. I was keen to see it as it is starring Parineeti Chopra and Sushant Singh Rajput. Vini was also keen on seeing it and we managed to catch it along with a friend a week later on Friday, the 13th at 11 pm at Cinemax Sion at one of the mini theatres.


Raghuram aka Raghu (Sushant Singh Rajput) gets cold feet at his wedding to Tara (Vaani Kapoor) and runs away just before tying the knot. There is a reason to it. He meets Gayatri (Parineeti Chopra) on his way to the wedding and feels the instant chemistry.

Later, he meets Gayatri again a couple of weeks later. Soon, they are living together. After some time, they decide to get married. Again, Raghu is nervous at the mandap, but this time it is Gayatri who runs away.

There’s more, but I will not bore you with it. If you still feel you would not mind watching the film, you can catch it at the theatres. If not, there’s always the idiot box where you can see it a couple of months down the line.


The film is actually made from a short story – I am sure – that has been expanded into a film that runs for 2 hours and 20 minutes. The same sequences and dialogues repeat over and over. If the film had been any slower, a snail would have beaten it at the race.

I could so relate to the concept of the fear of permanence of marriage in today's youngsters. It is a huge commitment and quite difficult to face when you want to feel free.

They had a fabulous combination of actors – Parineeti Chopra, Sushant Singh Rajput, Rishi Kapoor and Vaani Kapoor – and still managed to botch up the film. That needs talent, I am sure.

Parineeti Chopra was excellent in the role of Gayatri – a woman living by herself, running through boyfriends as she is disappointed with them, every time. She’s independent and fun-loving. She is not able to relate to marriage, as in a permanent commitment.

I saw Sushant Singh Rajput in Kai Po Che. While I did not like the film, the actor was good in it. He’s handsome and dashing and can act very well. The chemistry between Parineeti and Sushant sizzles. Their eye expressions are definitely worth a watch.

Newcomer Vaani Kapoor is quite good, considering that it’s her first film. Her character Tara is also interesting, quite cheerful and could not care less whatever happens.

Rishi Kapoor literally glows in the character of Goyal, a marriage contractor. His second innings in Bollywood promises to be even better than his earlier stint.

Then why did I not like the film?

I couldn’t stand it, in fact. With all these features, the presentation was terrible. It’s like you have the right ingredients to prepare a dish and it fails because of overcooking. The film deserved to be 40 minutes long. There was only that much story and dialogues in it. The rest of the time, everything was repeated. I am sure you get what I mean.

I realised why the theatres are crowded even one week later. A lot of cheapskates land up there to watch the smooching scenes and making lewd comments throughout. There were at least three such guys in front of us and it was obvious that they were not watching the film for the first time. It was just too irritating for words.

I am glad that we could go only to the mini theatre where the ticket costs Rs. 150 per person instead of the usual Rs. 250. But still I feel the film was not worth it.

VERDICT: Watch it at your own risk!

RATING: ** Shaky


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Product Review: ECOFILS

It was by chance that I came across Ecofils highly recommended by my friend Pooja’s son, Jeetu. I got a few water bottles of Ecofils to check them out.

The water stored in these bottles does not acquire the plastic smell that is usually carried by water stored in the regular pet bottles that I have at home.

Ecofils look cute and I hear are also extremely durable. They have the clarity of glass but the advantage of being non-breakable. They last long, I believe. This I am yet to find out, of course.

They are also scratch-free. So far, so good!

One thing that I really liked about the bottles is that they are leak-proof. The lid closes so snugly that there is no fear of carrying this bottle around in one's handbag. Even if it lies down flat inside the bag, there is no chance of the bag getting wet.

What I liked best is that Ecofils are made keeping the environment in mind. There is no wastage during manufacture. The raw material is manufactured in the USA and the product itself in China. This is then imported to India and sold here at various retail outlets.

They don’t just have water bottles, but also steel tiffin boxes with Ecofil lids that are transparent. I am yet to try out those.

There are other manufacturers and importers of similar products. But, what I can see from the material I came across on the net is that Ecofils offers the most competitive rate and this is probably because the product is manufactured in China.

What Mayank Dedhia, the ECOFILS importer has to say about the product

We would like to introduce to your stores our brand "Ecofils" which is a range of 100% BPA Free Products made from certified food-safe materials. We would like to bring to the consumers food-safe & eco-friendly products complying with international food safety standards that are highly durable and definitely a health & safe alternative to regular plastics.

The following are some of the key features of ECOFILS

Made from eco-friendly materials that comply to international food safety standards & FDA Approved, NFS51 approved.
Break Resistant making it incredibly tough
Can be used for hot water as well
Odour resistant
Stain resistant
No residual aftertaste
Glass like clarity without the weight of glass
Vibrant translucent colors
Highly resistant to wear & tear

What is BPA-Free?

BPA is an ingredient used to make everyday plastics. Research has shown that regular plastics made with BPA (bisphenol-A) are toxic for everyday use. Over regular use BPA seeps from such plastic products into our water/food & enters our body when we consume such water/foods. This BPA has been linked with brain & hormonal development problems in fetuses of young children as well as a higher incidence of heart diseases, & growth abnormalities in adults. Further research has shown that BPA can promote cancer in humans.

We strongly believe in the safety of our materials & are proud to present ECOFILS - 100% BPA-free bottles that comply with international food safety standards.

Do you think it’s viable for a market like India at the prices mentioned?

Consumers in India are very price conscious & we have priced them very reasonably. It is complete value for their money as the consumer is buying a product which is made from raw materials that comply with international food standards, are BPA-Free, appealing & the quality of our products is acceptable internationally. We have also packaged our products accordingly, to empower the consumer to make an informed purchase.

We have received very encouraging reviews from the consumers & our products are stamped "BEST PRICE PROMISE" on We believe that consumers are willing to pay the price for Quality, rather than spending repeatedly on buying a sub-standard product. And we are offering them a product which qualifies across all requirements like durability, quality, safety and appeal while giving them their money’s worth.

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In Mumbai, you can buy ECOFILS at Alfa- Juhu; Amarsons, Premsons - Breach Candy, IIFA- Matunga

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Book Review: TWIN OF ICE by Jude Deveraux

Twin of Ice is a Historical Romance set in pre-independent America. Houston Chandler is engaged to Dr. Liander Westfield aka Lee, the man she has been in love with since her childhood. She lives with her mother Opal, her stepfather and her twin, Blair.

Her fiancé calls Houston an Ice Princess as she does not respond to his kisses. She is a cool lady and believes that passion does not exist.

Kane Taggert arrives in town. He is filthy rich and owns the biggest house. But that does not stop him from being uncouth. His manners are terrible and he is a total misfit in society, not that he is interested in fitting in. Every woman around appears to be interested in him. It looks like Kane is keen to wed a lady and that is none other than Houston.

She refuses his proposal of marriage in the beginning. Things change on the night when Blair takes Houston’s place for a date with Lee while she herself goes to see Kane’s grand home. But will marrying Kane bring Houston happiness?


I thoroughly enjoyed Jude Deveraux’s TWIN OF ICE. It’s romantic and witty all in one. Houston is one fiery character under all the ice. Then, there is Kane. Having grown up as a stable lad, he is keen to become a millionaire when his employer kicks him out for loving the daughter of the house. He achieves his dreams. But revenge is not as sweet as he had imagined it to be.

The story is set in a coal mining town and shows the pathos the people suffer. The mentally strong Houston gets together with her husband Kane to help the townspeople. And they finally find love with each other.

The author has written a lovely romance with a lot of humour entwined in it. I found myself laughing a number of times while reading this book for the second time. It was as absorbing as it was the first time round. It is most definitely worth a read if you like romance genre.

Great one by Jude Deveraux!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


I finally got my hands on The Perfect Groom a few days ago. After reading a few pages the night before last, I got time to read it only last night at around 12. I could not stop reading till I finished Sumeetha Manikandan’s book at 1.30 am. All I can say is The Perfect Groom is a perfect novel with all the right ingredients.

Nithya is the elder daughter of a widow and they are dependent on an uncle and aunt who are quite nasty. When Nithya gets married to Ashok in the USA, everyone insists that she is the luckiest woman on earth as all expenses are taken care of by the groom’s family. But is that the truth?

There is Vasu who has also been ill-treated by the same uncle-aunt duo. His is a rags-to-riches story. He goes to California to receive an award. That’s where he meets Nithya after a ten-year gap. Nithya is excited, but feels that she has no right to be. Will she ever find happiness?

From Chennai to California to Mumbai, Sumeetha Manikandan has woven a lovely story about Nithya’s life in the first person. Having lived in Chennai myself and also having undergone immense interference from a number of relatives, I could so relate to the circumstances surrounding the widow and her young daughters. There is an excellent twist in the tale and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The best part was that the author has not shown any of the main characters as bad, just different. Beautifully penned! Congratulations Sumeetha!

And why would Ashok get married if he is not interested in his wife? You will have to read the novel to find out.

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy of THE PERFECT GROOM by Sumeetha Manikandan on Indireads.