Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hmm...what can you do with a single sheet of paper??

Apparently a lot! To see for yourself, check out Random Acts of Pondering. These artists have really let their creative juices flow!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Adrian Mole Diaries

Author: Sue Townsend

A totally lovable book! This is a diary of a teenager and I've been curious to find out if it's inspired from a true story but I don't know yet. Whether real or fiction, it is a feast for the senses :). It encompasses a period of 2-3 years and it is fun to watch the teenager go through various stages of his life. At times you can correlate with the character and realize how stupid you were when you did things like that. At other times, it is interesting as well hilarious to see the world from a teenager's point of view.

The teenager, Adrian Mole, is the only son of his parents. His intellect is much higher than that of his parents who can hardly claim to be his parents. They're always being kicked out of jobs, getting involved in extra-marital affairs or are involved in some other nonsense. Apart from his turbulent home, he goes through the regular teenage tribulations like falling in and out of love, etc. All in all his life is a roller coaster ride - you never know what's next.

Bottomline: A must read.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


(Teachings from Gita) One divya day is equal to our 1 year and hence our 30 years equal one divya month and so on. These divya months form a divya yug. Four such divya yug form a maha yug and 100 maha yug form a brahma day. After 100 brahma years the worlds dissolves. This is referred to as Mahapralay. Thereafter, God recreates the world, takes care of it and dissolves it; but he is devoid of any attachment to any of these tasks or pride in being the doer. Nor does he do favoritism. He simply assumes the role of an administrator. He delegates hi prakriti to do it. This is why he doesn't get pulled into the cycles of birth and death. The day we can learn to do that we too would escape this cycle.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Cabbage Koftas (Cabbage balls in tomato curry)

When I think of making koftas, I think of either mix vegetable koftas or lauki koftas; but this time when I wanted to make them I didn't have lauki and my DH didn't like the idea of mix vegetable koftas which have a primary base of potatoes. Hence started my search for a different kind of kofta. That's when I came across cabbage koftas. The credit for the recipe goes to Sunita's Kitchen. I used her recipe for the kofta (balls) and used my own for the curry. I made this for some guests and everybody seemed to like it a lot. The trickiest part when making a kofta is that the koftas shouldn't disintegrate while frying, which I've often encountered when making mix veg. koftas. However, that's the easiest part in this recipe. It uses besan as the binding agent and so your koftas will never disintegrate when frying. So if you've never made koftas then this is the recipe to try! Since I didn't quite measure all the ingredients while making this dish, I'll write it as I made it.

Here's how I made it:

For the koftas
  1. Finely chopped cabbage (approx 3-4 cups) and 1.5 medium size onion (approx 3/4 cup). I also used some traces of carrot. The key part here is that the ingredient should be finely chopped so that when eating the kofta one can't distinguish between the veggies. My guess is that onion should be in much lower proportion as compared to the cabbage. So just use your intuition and go ahead with it. If the cabbage has lot of water after it's chopped, squeeze it to drain some water. Let some water remain.
  2. Mix the finely chopped veggies in Step 1 with 1 cup of besan. Since cabbage already has some water, you wouldn't need to add any water. Even if you're skeptical that the koftas won't fry, wait till you actually fry a kofta. Only if you're having problems while frying should you add some more besan to the batter. Too much of besan will not taste good in the kofta. We want the veggies to be the primary ingredients and besan should only be the binding agent.
  3. Add some salt and chilli to taste.
  4. Mix well to form a batter. This batter wouldn't be runny; it'll be like a paste except more granular.
  5. Heat oil at medium flame (for frying). Once the oil is hot, drop some balls of the batter in the oil and fry. You must cook at medium flame to ensure that the insides of the koftas get cooked properly. If you cook on high, it'll get cooked from outside but not from inside.
  6. The koftas/balls are ready. You can also serve them as appetizers.

For the curry

  1. Chop 1.5 onions. Saute them in a few tsps of oil alongwith a tsp of ginger-garlic paste and a tsp of chopped green chillies, till the onions turn golden brown.
  2. Add approx 1/2 a tsp of turmeric, 1/2 a tsp of chilli powder and 2 tsps of coriander powder. Saute.
  3. Add approx 2 tbsps of tomato paste (or approx 2 chopped tomatoes) and around 2 cups of water (enough water to form a gravy for the koftas). Cover and cook till the tomato paste has mixed properly or till the tomatoes have become mushy.
  4. Add 1-2 tbsp of cream and cook for another 5-10 mins.
  5. Turn off the gas and one by one drop the koftas into the curry. Keep for 20 mins or so.
  6. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro/coriander and serve.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Author: Nelson DeMille

A brilliant novel! It's funny, serious, thrilling and everything else you want a novel to be.

A group of politically powerful people want to bring back the peace and security in US that once prevailed in the pre-9/11 era. They intend to set the security level permanently to green and the only way they can see of doing this is to wipe out all those countries, in the middle-east and elsewhere, which support terrorist factions. To do this they want to make use of the mutual assured destruction policy of the government which says that if any country does a nuclear attack on US then within seconds the US would reply with a nuclear attack. They have everything in place but two FBI officers - John and his wife, Kate - get suspicious about their activities.

John's character is adorable especially because of his witty and humorous comments. I've heard that there are other books by this author based on this character and they are better than this one. So I think I'm going to catch up on them - "Plum Island" and "Lion's Game". It was after a long time that I came across a book that was hard to put down. Even though it wasn't a mystery I had the same feeling while reading it as I used to when I read "The Three Investigators" by Alfred Hitchcock or Perry Mason series when I was a kid.

Bottomline: A must read!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

What goes, comes back.

(Teachings from Gita) When you leave this world, you go to heaven. When your time in heaven has expired, you merge into the sky. From there into the wind and from wind into dust. The dust goes into the clouds and clouds fall onto the earth in the form of rain. This water is absorbed by the flora on the earth which is consumed by man in one form or the other other and hence plays a role in the genesis of a new one from the womb of a mother.

Gulab Jamun

I always make Gulab Jamuns using the Gits Gulab Jamun mix and initially even though they would taste good, their appearance wasn't. They didn't have that nice shiny surface as was shown on the box;but with some help from serendipity and my mom I found the secrets to the perfect gulab jamun. Being a sweet connoisseur, it's very important to me that if I make sweets they turn out well in taste and appearance - in that order. I think when it comes to food, it's more important for it to taste good than look good. The ideal situation, of course, is when it's both. In a perfect world, a gulab jamun should be soft and should've thoroughly absorbed the sugar syrup so that not even a iota of it is dry. So here goes my tips:
  • You needn't stick to the quantity of milk mentioned on the Gits box. Use as much is required to make a nice soft dough. So start sparingly with milk and keep adding little by little. Keep in mind that the gulab jamun flour gets moist very soon so be careful.
  • Knead the dough well to ensure minimum cracks on the dough balls.
  • This tip is there on the box too but I want to stress on it - oil your palms before you make the dough balls and oil as often as you deem necessary.
  • When you make the dough ball, knead it in your palm with your fingers to give it a nice texture.
  • Here's the most important tip: like all frying expeditions, the temperature of the oil is the key. The temperature should be between medium-low and medium. If it gets very hot at medium reduce it to medium-low; but as you start frying more and more the temperatue will go below optimal so go back to medium. I noticed that when the temperature was lower than optimal, even the smallest surface cracks got bigger and bigger as they took longer to fry. We all know what happens when the temperature is higher than optimal :). If it's the right temperature: it fries quickly getting a nice brown color, doesn't burn and has a smooth surface.
  • The sugar syrup should be quite watery. This ensures that the gulab jamuns absorb well. The more they absorb the more they swell and the softer they are.

That's probably all. So if you've had problems like I did then next time you're going to get perfect gulab jamuns!

P.S. This time when I made them they looked so good that I wanted to post their photo but laziness took the better of me.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

Wish you all a very happy new year! I was looking for something nice to post for new year and came across this link which has such nice words to say for new year. I got the following from it; it brings out the essential elements of life and tells you why they're a part and parcel of life.
Not by shielding you from all sorrows and pain,
But by strengthening you to bear it, as it comes;
Not by making your path easy,
But by making you sturdy to travel any path;
Not by taking hardships from you,
But by taking fear from your heart;
Not by granting you unbroken sunshine,
But by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows;
Not by making your life always pleasant,
But by showing you when people and their causes need you most,and by making you anxious to be there to help.
God’s love, peace, hope and joy to you for the year ahead!