Saturday, 31 March 2012

Tangy Sweet Corn salad

We all love American corn. Healthy and tasty!!! But I'm not a big fan of the corn sold in theaters and malls. I find the salted ones too plain, and the flavored ones, too buttery and artificially flavoured. So, I have my own corn salad recipe. Everybody in my family likes this salad. My husband is not very fond of salads but even he likes this one because it has a tangy taste. I serve it as a starter with bites of salad leaves or some times use it as filler for canopies. This one is for my friends who like it hot and spicy...


1 tbsp oil/Butter
 2 cups packed American sweet corn
1 Green capsicum seeded and diced
1 Small red chili seeded and diced
2 Spring onions sliced
15 Cherry tomatoes halved
Chopped parsley/ green coriander
Salt and ground black pepper as per taste

For dressing

½ tsp brown sugar
1-1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
1 tbsp low fat mayonnaise or hung yogurt
¼ tsp chili sauce (if you like it spicy increase the quantity of chili sauce)


Sauté the sweet corn, green capsicum, chili and spring onions in oil for 5 minutes till the corn become soft. Keep the flame high so that you get a nice smoky flavor. Put them in your salad bowl. Add cherry tomatoes and parsley.

Mix all the ingredients of dressing nicely and pour over the sweet corn mixture. Add salt and pepper as per taste. Toss the salad well and serve warm with bites of salad greens or as filler for canopies.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Cabbage Parcels

       During my overdue lunch last week with a group of friends, two of them asked me to mail few healthy recipes. Then came the suggestion from a family member that instead of sending them to individuals, why don’t I post them on my blog. Few other friends who did not want to do hit and trial methods, before standardization, immediately appreciated it. I decided to go ahead with this idea, since cooking is an acquired hobby for me, which is always appreciated and encouraged by family and friends for obvious reasons.  
I decided to go for something very easy, tasty and healthy as my first step. This starter is very easy and convenient to cook. You can prepare it before hand. Just steam it when you want to serve and gaze the surprise in everybody’s eyes when different flavors hit the taste buds. So this is for Sumita and Parab and other friends……………
Cabbage Parcels

         Cabbage-1 (try to get fresh one of medium size)
        Keema-300gms. (Whatever meat your taste buds prefer)(boiled soya keema for vegetarians)
        Thai red chillies-2
        Garlic cloves-2
        Ginger- 1 inch piece
        Light soya sauce-1 Tbsp.
        Fish sauce-1 Tbsp.( one can use oyster sauce also but I prefer Fish sauce because  of my daughter’s allergy)
        Sesames Oil-1 Tbsp.
         Brown Sugar-1 and ½ Tsp.
     Ground nuts-1/4 cup

Make a paste (not very fine) of Thai chilies, garlic and ginger.
Roast the groundnuts in a dry pan. Remove the brown skin and make coarse powder of them.
Heat the oil in a pan and add the paste of chilies, garlic and ginger when it is hot. Stir it and roast it a bit till the flavor starts coming. Now add the keema and start cooking it. It will start releasing water. Add soya sauce, fish sauce and brown sugar. Keep cooking till the water evaporates and meat is granular. It will take 7-8 minutes.Remove it from the heat.

Separate the cabbage leaves from the bud in a manner that whole leaf is separated. Discard first 1-2 leaves. Take out 12-15 leaves for 300 gms. Keema. Take a big pan and boil enough of water in it. Now dip one leaf at a time in water while the water is still boiling. Dip it for two or three minutes and remove from the boiling water with the help of a tong. Put it on a dry kitchen towel and repeat the same procedure with another leaf. Basically this is to make the cabbage leaves tender so that they can be folded easily. You have to make all the leaves tender this way and let them dry on a towel.
By this time your keema mix is at room temperature. Add the groundnut powder to the mixture.
Take one leaf at a time. Trim the hard part of the leaf from where it was attached to the bud. Put 2 teaspoons full of mix on the leaf and fold it like a parcel. If your leaf is not tender enough and parcels are opening up, you can secure them with the help of a toothpick.

 Make all the parcels this way and steam them for 10-12 minutes in a steamer. Serve them hot with any sauce or dip of your choice, though I prefer hot garlic sauce or a mix of sweet and hot chili sauce.

 You can also store them in a box in the fridge and steam them when you want to serve. That is what I usually do.


Wednesday, 15 February 2012

A Story Around Alphabets

 A story woven around alphabets. Simple yet astonishing, that is how the calligraphy work of Nikeel Aphale can be described. It is fascinating to see letters expressing different human emotions. Medium is not a limitationn for him. On his blog , you can see his work in different mediums, even a green gravy in a plate in the form of calligraphy.

Recently he wrote about a nameplate, which he made for us, on his blog. It is a functional art piece and projects the personality of the people living inside the house. Devnagari script has given an edge to this. It shows our belief in simplicity and Indian culture but at the same time the blue ink and white color of plate gives it a modern look.

name plate in davnagari

Matching the name plate’s look with the design of the door was the main challenge for him. I wanted him to incorporate the hand made tiles in some way, since these tiles were already present in the door. Nikheel did it tastefully. Every time I get a compliment for my nameplate, I thank him in my mind.

co-ordination of door and name plate

Another calligraphy painting done by Nikheel is adorning the wall of my living room. Harvest, the painting has golden glowing letters of roman script like the ripe wheat crop ready to be harvested. Imagination of an artist has no limits!

side view of harvest 
ripened golden letters


Nikheel is a graphic designer and calligrapher and so is his wife Maithili. While Maithili is more into organized work, Nikheel left his job and is concentrating on his art full time. He has exhibited in groups and his work got honor of mention in reputed art magazines. I wish him the best in future.

p.s.Credit for first two pictures to Nikheel

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Animal Art

This is a much-delayed post. Many things happened in between. A close friend said good-bye forever, wedding in the family brought another member to family and welcomed the New Year with many new resolutions with family. One of them is to write the post on a regular basis. I hope I will not break this resolution, which usually happens with all of us.
After a long break, I was unable to decide what I should write about but a cow got me so inspired on my vacation that I want to dedicate my first post of New Year to it.
On a short holiday, away from chilling winters of Delhi, I was feeling more rejuvenated and full of enthusiasm, my usual self. During one of our shopping tours I saw this cow. The moment I saw it, I wanted to take it home. It was looking so pious and angelic, quite different from my other cows, which are more hoity and fashionable!!!
Yes! I am talking about my ceramic cows and stone bull.
Two years back, on a tour to Jaipur with my daughter, we stopped at a stone craft shop on the way. Outside the shop, few damaged pieces were lying. One of them was a grey bull, which drew our attention. Its one horn was broken. The look on its face was, “my horn is damaged but it’s not my fault!” We decided to take it home despite the shop owner’s warning that damaged statues are inauspicious. Of course, it is unlucky but only for the statues because they are ignored. It found a graceful place in my balcony, sitting there like the owner of the small green territory.

owner of green patch in balcony
my grey bull

Within next few months I found my trendy young cows adorning the show window of a kitsch art shop. The two of them were with an equally fashion conscious bull. They were wearing exciting body colors and flashing ornaments. I brought them home with zeal. Everybody found them very carefree and joyful. All three of them were too fragile to sit outside. So, I decided to make them sit in my living room. They are attention seekers and always get noticed by my guests. It seems when nobody is around; these three discuss every visitor to their territory.
fashion conscious cows

equally fashionable bull

Three fashionistas
The new member to my cow family, whom I had earlier mentioned, has a more mature look. She is very simple and unlike the three fashionistas sitting in the living room, she seems to have more of a bovine persona. She has a peaceful aura around herself. When I look carefully, it seems that she has just got up from her meditation session. Her simplicity is impressive. She does not seem to like the company of my fashion conscious cows. I was thinking of making her sit next to my stone bull, but I realized that probably he will not like to share his space with a new member and his male ego may get hurt. Besides this, she looks strong emotionally, but physically, she doesn’t look strong enough to bear the severe weather conditions. After all, she has the female fragility too.
A simple soul

After taking into consideration all the factors, I placed her in my living room. She is sitting at a distance from the other group. Her place is more commanding, where she can meditate without any interruption. Maybe her aura and maturity will motivate my young cows someday!!!!
In deep meditation

Thursday, 3 November 2011

har ek friend zaroori hota hai!

Har ek friend zaruri hota hai” we all love this advertisement because we all love our friends. We bump into them in the early years of life and are glued to them throughout our life. This is one relationship, which has different stages, flavours and maturity levels but no caste or status barriers. Inspired by this commercial, I thought of categorizing all my friends.
Childhood friends were with whom I shared my tiffin and pocket money and competed with for the teacher’s attention. We also cried together over tough exams and bad marks. Unfortunately, I lost them touch with me as we grew older and our lives took different courses.
As I grew into an adult, I got a new set of friends. They were full of energy, josh and enthusiasm. We wanted to touch the sky with our dreams. Life was so promising and beautiful. Never worried by anything, we were always in a hurry to get what we wanted. All our mischiefs and adventures still bring a smile to my face. Thanks to Facebook, I found one of them. Let’s hope, that enthusiasm is still persistent should we ever meet again.
As I moved from school to college and from college to university, I was lucky to have a new group of friends. This was the most worrisome and fun filled period of life. Tension to submit the assignments and experiment files on time, pressure to do well in exams, big question-what after college. But amongst all these growing tensions, we found reasons and time to have fun. We bunked classes, shared our crushes, sneaked out of hostel without out pass to watch movies and did all the possible things to make the 
rival group’s life difficult.

I am fortunate to be in constant touch with these friends and when we meet, we are back to being the same mischievous young girls within seconds. Our families are often surprised to watch their composed mothers and wives go into fits of laughter and behave like carefree juveniles.
As I grew older and got married, I met new people at every new station wherever my husband was posted. Many of them became good family friends. Few of these friends, who were experienced, helped us find solutions to trivial issues of  family life. As time passed, we lost contact with some but few became friends for life. They are always there for us in times of happiness as well sorrow.
As parenthood arrived, so did new friends: parents of our daughters. These friendships arose as a result of logistical conveniences and later developed into deeper relationships. We wanted to be the best parents. We arranged birthday parties, picnics, fancy dresses, pick ups and drops of our kids; school projects; annual days; PTAs; hobby classes; swimming competitions etc. as we worked tirelessly for happiness in our little ones’ eyes. If they were happy, so were we.
As children grew older, their friends changed and so did these “parent” friends. In this journey of parenting, I found few friends for life. Even if our kids grew apart, our friendship matured with time. However, at this stage when kids are now young adults, we don’t meet their friend’s parents. Complexity of age and generations!
As my daughters have grown up, I have found two honest friends at home, who do not shy away from criticizing me like a true friend does but at the same time they stand by me when I need their support.
Besides all of these friends, I have my relative friend, doctor friend, neighbour friend, artist friend, dress designer friend, hairdresser friend and so many other friends whom I meet very often in my daily life. With many of them my relationship is professional but very friendly!
I give credit to every friend of mine for making this world beautiful, for bearing my undue demands at odd hours, for sharing their joys and supporting me in my difficult times. I can’t imagine life without them. Afterall, har ek friend zaroori hota hai!


Friday, 9 September 2011

Art In Gaon

Gurgaon or the millennium city, a town of aspirations and hopes!  Migrants came from different countries, states and cities to fulfill their dreams. It embraced everybody with open arms on its path to development. They all brought a part of their culture with them and tried to live that. Before the development of new Gurgaon, we had never heard of Durga Puja and Ganesh Chaturthi being celebrated in this city. But now it has become an annual celebration. A true cosmopolitan city!
Whenever I think about Gurgaon, another culture that comes to mind is mall culture. Swanky malls with national and international brands attracting people of different economic backgrounds. Malls have also contributed to culture by offering Christmas discounts and Holi bonanza. I cannot forget the time of the 2011 Cricket World Cup Tournament. All the malls had put up big TV screens for viewers and euphoria was perceptible when India won the match. It was like a flash mob. People were dancing uninhibitedly till four in the morning.
Besides all these, another type of culture is developing in this town is “Art Culture”. Very few people know about this. Many prominent artists of our country have made this city their address. They have either their residences or their studios in this town.
Gurgaon can always boast of Bharti Kher’s Art factory in Udhyog Vihar and husband Subodh Gupta’s state of the art studio with storage space for his shinning steel utensils or Arun Kumar HG’s Eco sensitive studio close to sector 55. Jagannath Panda’s studio at sector 54 also enhances the arty culture of Gurgaon.

Thukral and Tagra, of T&T, who have their studio in sector 23, were probably the first one to move here. Contemporary Indian ceramic artist Vineet Kacker’s studio in DLF Phase 2 is the place where he brings soul to the clay. Pottery designer Anju Kumar operates from her studio in Sushant lok 1. Mukul Goyal who is famous for utility based steel figures is also now a ‘Gurgaonite’.

All this brings another dimension to the city. Epicentre- a cultural centre, Devi Art Foundation and so many art galleries are like jewels of the crown of this young and unorganized city.

People come with lot of expectations and lack of infrastructure disappoints them, but nobody can stop us from having dreams. After all we have kingdom of dreams only in our city!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

A primary school project

A few years back, I had gone for a parent-teacher meeting to my younger daughter’s school. Discovering your child was the challenge for the parents. Students of this pre-primary class had made cards for their families. Parents had to locate their respective ward’s card. This particular card brought smile and inquisitiveness on everybody’s faces.
“My mother makes lovely cakes
My father eats and sleeps
My sister gives me lots of hugs”
That is how my little one explained her family without knowing that when her father came home, he was on leave from his out-station postings. It was not easy for me to explain her observation to teachers and other parents. That little girl has grown up now and is going to a residential school within next few days.
She is unable to hide her enthusiasm for her new school, new friends, new place to live and most importantly for her newly achieved freedom where no parent is around to hassle her. But I am worried. Will she be able to deal with everything?  Will she get lost in her new surroundings? We all go through this when our children want to sail alone in the wild sea. For me this is déjà vu. Same feelings rushed to my heart and mind when my elder daughter left home for her boarding school and then for college. I held myself that time, and will be able to do the same again.
Memories take me 17 yrs. back, the day this bundle of joy had arrived bringing happiness to everybody in the family. Till today she is the baby of the family who can drive everybody mad with her negligence and at the same time can bring a smile on everybody’s faces with her jovial mannerisms. That mischievous look in her little eyes, which I adored when she was younger, is still persistent.  

                                                       The World From A Child's Eyes

                                                                One Of The Projects        

I have tried to preserve her childhood innocence hidden in her primary school projects. She made lovely cards on my birthdays and lovely biscuit cakes (she could only manage that without any help) on mother’s day. It is a different matter that she always wanted a return gift for her hard work.
There will be a void at home without her.  There will be no noise of our TV or music, no nagging for going out with her friends, nobody to argue with to prove her point of view and if not accepted, then furious. But at the same time there will be nobody forever ready to help the whole world, nobody to hug me over small issues, nobody to welcome even the smallest gestures of gratitude from others.
But her innocence, her ability to speak her mind naively is intact. I wonder if the world around her will appreciate it or hate her for this. This concern will always worry me because the ways of this world are very strange.
Maybe one day she will be able to take a few underprivileged kids to McDonald’s for a treat with her own money to let them experience every child’s favorite eating place. That’s her current dream!