Monday, July 30, 2007

Satyanarayan Katha

We performed Satyanarayan Katha yesterday. One can read more about the Satyanarayan Katha in english and hindi. As part of the prasad we'd panchamrit and kasaar (or panjiri): both are my favorites. Here's the recipe for kasaar, it's my mom's recipe and the best!

What you'll need
1 cup Whole Wheat flour (Atta)
3-4 tsp. Ghee (clarified butter)
0.5 cup fine-grained Sugar
2 tsp cardamom(elaichi) powder
chopped roasted nuts

Let's Start
  1. Roast the flour with the ghee on a low flame, I used the med-lo setting. Keep roasting/stirring till the color of the flour changes to a nice brown (not burnt brown). It is important to roast it on low flame, otherwise the color of the flour will change but the flour wouldn't get cooked properly.
  2. After it's roasted, let it cool.
  3. Mix in rest of the ingredients.

Vermicelli (Sewiyan) Lime Bhath

I picked this recipe from the wrapper of Bambino vermicelli and made a little changes to suit our taste like made it less spicy and added some vegetables. You can use any vermicelli for this, doesn't have to be Bambino's only. We liked the dish a lot and it's easy to make. It makes for a good weekend breakfast!

What you'll need:

1 cup Vermicelli
10 tsp lemon juice or 3 lemons
1 Green chilli

2-3 tbsp Groundnuts
1.5 tsp Jeera (Cumin seeds)
1.5 tsp Mustard Seeds
2 tsp Bengal Gram
2 tsp Urad Dal
0.5 tsp Turmeric powder
pinch of asafoetida
3 tsp oil

2 dried red chillies
3-4 curry leaves
0.5 cup vegetables
Salt to taste

Let's start cooking:
  1. Boil 2 cups water.
  2. To boiling water, add the vermicelli, salt and oil.
  3. Once the vermicelli is cooked, take off the flame and drain the water. Put the vermicelli in a colander/sieve and rinse it in cold water.
  4. Heat oil at medium-high flame and add jeera and mustard seeds.
  5. Once the seeds splutter reduce the flame to medium or medium-low; add green chillies, red chillies, black gram, groundnuts and urad dal.
  6. Fry them till the groundnuts are well done; at the same time ensuring that other ingredients do not get burnt.
  7. Add turmeric and asafoetida; fry for a minute.
  8. I used frozen vegetables, so I first heated them in microwave for 2-3 minutes, till they were half-tender and then added them to the above mixture. Fry the vegetables till you think they are well done.
  9. Reduce the flame to low and add the cooked vermicelli and mix for a minute. If there's a little water when you add vermicelli, mix till the water dries. But don't mix for long or else the vermicelli will get mashed and sticky.
  10. Take off the flame and add lemon juice. Mix.
  11. Keep it for a little while before serving so that the tanginess of the lemon is well absorbed.
  • The key thing is to cook the vermicelli the right amount: neither over-cooked nor under-cooked. When it is added to the boiling water, it gets cooked really fast; within 1-2 minutes. So keep checking.
  • When mixing the vermicelli with the other ingredients, do it lightly so as not to mash the vermicelli.
  • Vermicelli should be rinsed well in cold water so that it's not sticky.
  • If you eat it immediately after adding the lemon juice, you will not get the citrus flavor of lemon. You must keep it for 5-10 minutes for the flavor to be absorbed.

Friday, July 27, 2007


We have all heard about Muhammed Yunus, the Nobel Peace prize winner, and his micro-financing project for the lower income group, which has turned out to be a boon for the people belonging to this category. His work focusses on giving loans of small amounts to villagers at easy terms.

Recently I was reading an article and came to know that there are a couple of organizations that have adopted this model and helping out the needy. If you thought that only banks can give loans then there's news for you: people like you and me can also loan money to those who need through these organizations. Some of them let you loan the money while others let you donate. So in the former case, you will be repaid back whatever amount you loaned depending on the term of the loan. That means, if you loaned a $100 for 12 months all you lose is the interest you would've gained on it. Assuming 8% gain, you only lose $8. In other words, by just donating $8 you are making a world of a difference to some people in this world. Not to mention that it would add to your karma.

Some of such organizations are:
  • Lets you loan the money.
  • Minimum amount is $25!
  • You can choose the person whom you want to loan the money.
  • They have projects almost all over the world.
  • Online payment facility.
  • As the loanee pays back, money is credited to your account.
  • Many ways of giving: donation, funding a child's education, stocks, etc.
  • Minimum amount is $10.
  • Project of Muhammad Yunus.
  • They have projects all over the world.
  • Online payment facility
Global Living
  • Provides you the facility to donate your money for a good cause.
  • There does not seem to be a minimum amount specified.
  • You can choose the project that you want to donate your money to.
  • They have a variety of projects from AIDS to environment to education; you can choose whatever area you want to focus on.
  • Again, they also have projects almost all over the world.
So what are you waiting for?!?! As small an amount as $10 from your pocket, can help: build somebody's house, educate a child, provide healthcare, empower women, save environment, provide food to somebody, etc. Did you know that your $10 went such a long way?!?!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Author: Daphne Du Maurier

A brilliant book! It's set in a background similar to what one witnesses in a Jane Austen's novels: victorian england, gossiping ladies, rich estates owned by handsome men, so on and so forth. However, the plot is very different. The latter half of the novel is spent biting your nails and every chapter keeps you guessing as to what's going to happen next.

A young and penniless girl falls into love with Maxim, the owner of a rich estate near London and 20 years too old for her, who has come to visit France; and gets married to him all of a sudden. All is well till they reach Manderley, their home. From then on her life is surrounded by Rebecca, ex-wife of Maxim, who is no more. When she met people they compared her to Rebecca; when she directed servants they told her how Rebecca did things; people ask her if she'll maintain the place like Rebecca did; almost everything in and around the house was bought and placed by Rebecca and everybody around her seems to cimply love Rebecca. She becomes daunted by this image of Rebecca. The young bride feels that even her husband hasn't overcome his love for his first wife but he never talks to her about it. The less he talks about it, the deeper the connection she perceives and the more curious she grows. The happiness that she imagined is nowhere to be seen but then suddenly one day a body is found in a boat near their property. Since that day her life changes completely.

This is a book which has emotions and mystery. The protagonist is so much in awe of Rebecca that she starts day-dreaming and is always enacting in her mind what would happen if did something: what would people think and say about her, how would Maxim react, etc. Towards the end of the first half it started coming on my nerves because she would have this chain of thoughts even if all she'd to do was choose between "yes" and "no". That just shows how she lived under a constant fear. The first half takes you down the road of romance and emotions and the second half builds up the mystery.

Being a Jane Austen fan, I was not expecting the story to take the turn that it did towards the second half and maybe that made it all the more fun.

Bottomline: A must read!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Healthy Living

(Teachings from Gita) The following was said with regards to excelling the art of Dhyanyoga but I think it's true for excelling in life.

Neither eat too much nor eat too less. If you eat beyond what you can digest then not only will you feel sleepy and lazy, you will also be vulnerable to various kinds of diseases. On the other hand, eating too less or too much fasting is also not good as it adversely affects your mind, body and senses. Thus hampering your ability to meditate.

Neither sleep too much nor sleep too less. You must have an optimal sleep which would relieve you of your exhaustion and make you fresh. If you sleep too much, even after waking up you'll feel sleepy and lazy. However, less than required sleep will leave you tired and fatigued leading to reduced productivity.

So the guide to healthy living is to eat right and sleep right. Once again the teachings reflect the importance of discipline in one's life and what a significant role it plays in your success.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Kings of infinite space

Author: James Hynes

Paul Trilby, with a PhD in hand and meant to be a professor lands up a job in Texas Departments of Services; lives in the cheapest motel and is haunted by a cat! Paul finds himself trapped in the land of gray cubicles but soon his ennui is broken by suspicious events in the office - strange post-its on his computer screen, death of his office colleague, queer behavior of his peer group - and outside - sighting of odd people. Just when he thinks life has a lot to offer - a raise, a girl-friend and what not, he is about to experience the worst moments of his life. Moments that would have no parallels in the future and would be unparalleled in the past.

James Hynes writing vividly paints a picture of the scene in your mind; the story is quite interesting leaving no room for swatting flies; the first half proceeds like a normal story while in the latter he keeps the reader guessing about what's going to happen next and finishing off with a totally unexpected end. The end disappointed me a little though. It's unexpected but neither spectacular nor something that the reader wishes for. Instead of ending the story with a bang, it ends with a whimper.

Even though the title has a mention somewhere in the story, I didn't understand why the novel was named so.

Bottomline: A nice read.