Saturday, June 28, 2014

Beautiful Bhindi and Borosil !

This is my entry for ‘My Beautiful Food’ contest by Borosil @ Indiblogger.in

I have always been a foodie and I firmly believe that good food, when served with affection, becomes a panacea for emotional wounds. This is the reason precisely we yearn and remember the food cooked by old granny (or mother) and her calm persuasive style in which she made us eat double of our appetite! Ask any globe-trotter or a solider posted on border what he misses the most and pat will come the reply- “homemade food, what else!” My granny used to prepare lip-smacking aloo-baingan and kadhi-chaawal that I remember till date. She was an expert cook and her mere touch gave the food a magical element!

Food can heal and cure and food is what that makes the world go round.  From fine dining to street chaats and from rural Indian palate to foreign fare, food in India comes in every shape, size and type. I love the rural flavor more than anything else. Another thing is that I am a staunch vegetarian so for me fruits hold a special place. Anything prepared with fruits like salads, desserts and custard, becomes lovable! The vegetable I love the most is our humble Bhindi (ladyfinger).

Here, I would love to talk about one of my most favorite recipes and that is Bharwaan Bhindi & Paneer-Paratha’ (Bharwaan means stuffed). This is to be avoided if you have a high blood pressure or are allergic to paneer (fresh Indian cheese); otherwise I can bet it will be something you will send me a ‘Thank-You’ card for!

The Ladyfinger or Okra, or bhindi as we call it in Hindi, can be grown very easily in a pot/gamla. I remember when I was a kid, we had various bhindi pots that gave us around a kilo of it every week or so. I have eaten loads of home grown vegetables and I can confidently say that it is one of the most easy to grow vegetable; just give it a try!

So, there are various ways to cook this wonder vegetable that contains high quantities of vitamins A, B, C, E and K and minerals like iron, calcium and potassium. You can like make it dry, or with a little curry- that is also common. Here, I would talk about my favorite and most preferred type, the roasted one. Please do not roll your pretty eyes, it is really simple to prepare! You do not have to be a celebrity chef; even guys living in PGs can prepare it easily.

Cut bhindis  along the length and fry them after stuffing with mixture of various spices. Then prepare piping hot stuffed paneer parathas! You can also add Raita to it. Take fresh curd and add chopped tomatoes and onions into it along with usual spices and you are ready!

The typical oily and spicy whiff of roasting bhindis and the low noise that they make along with freshly cut ring onions is divine. The paneer paratha, as soft as butter along with mixed pickle adds to the aroma of the meal. I love the tang of Indian spices esp cumin and garam masala. Oh! Do not forget to add three-four pinches of the latter on the top of the cooked bharwaan bhindi, without which the dish will be incomplete. For garnishing, take some fresh coriander leaves and sprinkle its chopped pieces on both, the bhindi and the paratha, for it is mood enhancing. Some lemon drops with their fresh and invigorating odor adds to the tanginess of the dish.

The presentation of the food is equally necessary. Take two candles, preferable scented (I prefer Rose/ Lavender) and some flowers in a small vase and keep them along with clean table mats. Take out the curry in a Borosil glass serving bowl so that it looks even lovelier and spread out sparkling Borosil dinner set pieces (check out their beautiful ‘Melamine Collection’ in pretty designs) so that the beauty and the aesthetic element of the meal is enhanced many times. Glassware by Borosil is not only sturdy and tough but also increases the beauty of the cuisine many-folds, providing it a very royal appeal.  So, we are done- candles, good dinnerware, flowers and if you like some soft music like ‘Spanish eyes’ (Backstreet Boys)’ or ‘Young and beautiful’ (Lana Del Ray) playing in the background are enough to make the day as well as this meal memorable!

If you enjoy your own company, then go pamper yourself; nothing like it! Otherwise, call your beloved and feast on the aromatic, spicy and tangy bharwaan bhindi and yummy soft and delicious panner parathas along with a bowl full of appetizing and colorful Raita!
She/he will love you for life- take my word!!

Check out the full Borosil range@ www.myborosil.com

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Haiku Horizons - Comfort

This is for Haiku Horizons and this week's prompt is 'comfort'

Your deep wail, each sigh
Gives me perennial comfort
Revenge is justice

Seething pain, tears gush
Lips murmur a small prayer
Comfort reaches soul

Monday, June 23, 2014

Bits & Pieces 2

LOL- Gappa!

I am a huge fan of gol-gappa but not when they are presented like some exotic French dish and are priced insanely. Yesterday only I had had an overpriced plate in a mall but the taste was nowhere near to our local vendor renowned for his perfection in making this heartthrob recipe! From pregnant ladies having their never ending craving for spicy things to old aunties as if revisiting their youth and from college students to chirpy kids, at any hour one can see people queuing up for chaat and all that stuff.

Some things can never taste good in a formal setting; for instance, I bet you cannot enjoy a D-I-Y gol-gappa kit in a flashy restaurant! A friend told me a few days back that she once paid Rs 85 per plate (5 pieces) for gol-gappa at Dilli-Haat! I was shocked! At Rs 17 per piece, it should be rather called ‘lol gappa’!


Make Up Not Made Up

Today a friend casually remarked that girls who stay prim and proper are often perceived as vixens or high-maintenance-attitude-throwing types. She pointed out that a girl with tidied hair, manicured nails and a slight make-up reflects not only a person who has taken pains to wake up early to ready herself but also as someone who is not casual about her image. I could not agree more. I am reminded of an article I read sometime back about an Indian millionaire who was ridiculed by an American investor for being  obese and that if he could not manage himself how he could be trusted for managing  their investments properly; and that’s not an invalid point! The deeply humiliated millionaire came back into an enviable shape within months and since then has maintained a very healthy lifestyle, setting an example for everyone.

You do not have to look as made up as a bride straight out of a mandap but well fitted clean clothes with a little ironing, properly cut and managed hair, clean nails along with a little make up goes a long way in making good impressions and elevating one’s self confidence. It doesn’t take much time but those few extra minutes can make you confident and happy for sure!


Birthday Bloopers

A few weeks back, I forgot to wish a friend on her birthday and I cannot even describe what an emotional drama she created! She called me up and then after two-three taunts, all of a sudden hung up and then, sent me many longggg emotionally stirring messages hitting straight at my conscience. Accusing me of being an emotionless android and a detached self-centered apology of a human being, she has snapped all ties too.

Honestly, I was more concerned than annoyed. She needs to visit a psychiatric councilor and I believe if someone takes such petty matters to heart, the problem is indeed deep, what others bear are just some tremors.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Haiku Horizons - Open

This is for Haiku Horizons and this week's prompt is 'open'

I open old diary
Choked on tears, I still smile
Kissing that dried rose

From clay cage I flew
To open gates above
‘Missed you kid!’ He cried!

(Each haiku has 17 syllables arranged in 5-7-5 pattern)

Monday, June 16, 2014

My First Haiku Attempt!

This is my first attempt in writing Haiku. I hope you will like it. Suggestions and corrections are most welcome!

Drizzle taps waiting earth
Its salubrious whiff escapes
I breathe after ages

Sobs fill dark silence
Moon peeps out
Atleast someone cares 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Bits & Pieces

This weekend I ordered three books from an online shopping portal. One of them ‘Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra’ by Ruskin Bond has won the prestigious ‘Sahitya Akademi Award’ in 1992. Since 2010 I have purchased almost all the books online only. The traditional brick-and-mortar bookstores have been shrinking fast with the advent of online book portals. There was a particular bookshop I used to frequent. The collection was outstanding and for being a loyal customer I received up to 20% discount too- this was pre-2010. A few days back I happened to visit that store and to my dismay found that it is running only for clearing the stocks. The racks were half-empty and a bored sales girl was busy chatting on her mobile phone all alone in the store that once brimmed with customers. Gloomy sight I must say but, change is inevitable.
I saw a few samples of paper jewelery somewhere and since then it has caught my fancy. Some four years back I tried making paper mache bangles and other artifacts but that project was not very successful. I will surely try making a few pendants and bracelets from old glossy magazines and coloured papers. All you need is a pair of scissors, a bottle of glue and a dash of some girly creativity!                                        
(Pic: www.craftstylish.com)
My disgust with burgers seems queer to my friends. However, I really dislike the very sight of people opening their mouth like a demon to let in highly oil soaked stuffed buns about to burst like a moron’s suitcase. The ads too show people staring at it like hungry dogs and then pushing the entire potpourri having a bit of every single eatable you can find in kitchen into their mouths opened wide, I mean really wide! I am happier with traditional Indian chaat and Gol Gappa!
(Pic: www.karryon.com)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Book Review- The Diwan of Zeb-Un-Nissa

Book Review -          The Diwan of Zeb-Un-Nissa (1913)
Author-                      Princess Zebunnissa 
Translation-               Magan lal and Jessie Duncan Westbrook

My last read was definitely a memorable one, for it was authored by none other than princess Zebunnissa, the erudite but hapless daughter of Mughal ruler Aurangzeb. This book, a collection of 50 selected poems, was translated from Persian into English in 1913. The translation itself is in verse and is quite good. Given her father’s disgust with arts and poetry, she acquired a pen name ‘Makhfi’ that means ‘hidden’ in Persian. The original book, ‘Diwan-e-Makhfi’ was an anthology of 400 of her poems which came to light 50 years after her demise.

Princess Zebunnissa was born in 1637 to King Aurangzeb and his intellectual Persian queen Dilras Bano. However, she was exactly opposite to him in nature and temperament. While the princess was well versed in various languages, astronomy, mathematics and was an ardent lover of art and poetry, her tyrannical father had a deep disdain for such things. He famously remarked once ‘mousiqui ke murde to itna gehra gaadh do ki phir kabhi ser na utha sake’ (the corpse of music be buried so deep that it may not raise its evil hood again). How ironical! This disparity only gave her a slow and lonely death, but also some really memorable poems to the world to read and wonder about the poetic prowess of the princess for centuries to come.

She did assist her father in decisions regarding state and politics but her dark period began when her brother Akbar rebelled against Aurangzeb in 1681. Aurangzeb here played a true male-chauvinist and hypocrite; he forgave the his rebel son but jailed Zebunnissa for keeping in touch with Akbar during that period, for he considered this as a betrayal on her part. The princess was imprisoned in a Delhi fort where she spent the last years of her single life in painful solitude.

Not much is known about her romantic life but she was said to be very fond of a maid named ‘Miyan Bai’ to whom she even gifted the ‘Chauburji Gardens’, now situated in Lahore. This relationship was not only a subject of gossip but in her poems too, that affection peeps through in some verses. Sample this one:

The love of Thee the bulbul sings,
The moth that burns its silken wings
Thy love has drawn into the fire
And, see, the wine of Thy desire—
On every goblet's lip it clings.

Another paragraph of the same poem:
Thou, Makhfi, in the burning fire
Of love and unassuaged desire
Tossing in wild remorse, shalt dwell;
Love's secrets weakly didst thou tell,
So thou shalt pay with penance dire.

And see this one from another poem:
Long is my bitter tale of grief, of separation
    from my Friend,
Unfinished is it even yet, although my life has
    reached its end.

Rest of the poems, I feel, are completely devoted to Sufism and spiritual concepts like the Day- Of- Judgement, liberation, sins and repentance. Most of the verses are laden with remorse, pain and lonesomeness. Sample these (random) –

Here she accepts her pain and becomes stronger from within-

We, by our pain made brave,
Seek not despair nor hope; neither outlast
Their little day. We take but what Fate gave,
Not as Zuleikha, brooding o’er the past.

Here she talks of philosophy-

Mortals we are, and, fashioned thus of earth,
Vain, Makhfi, is this world in which we trust,
Dust is the rank of kings, the pride of birth,
    Yea, thou thyself art dust.

And yet, O Makhfi, if with eyes made clear,
    Freed from the world's illusion, thou shalt see,
Lo, the faquir's torn garments shall appear
    More regal than the robes of majesty.

Here she talks of a complete submission to God-

But here before the garden door I wait;
Why should I deem myself unfortunate?
For by Thy holy threshold shall I stay,
And with my lashes sweep its dust away.

Haply indeed, O Judge, wilt thou be kind,
    And pity in thy heart for sinners find.

So were we not, O Master, led by thee
Vain were our struggles, scant our victory!

A wilderness this lonely heart of mine
Till love transformed it to another guise,
And now it shines as fair as the divine
      Gardens of Paradise.

Here she talks of the relief prayer gives her-

Dawn comes, and despair
Has vanished before the miraculous arrows of prayer.

Though evil days are mine, of joy bereft,
    With pain that never ends,
Fate, do with me your worst, there still is left
    The Friend beyond all friends. (GOD)

Her verses also reflect a pride for her religion-

The world through Islam light in darkness saw
   And walked safe guided by thy Scroll of Law,
      Bowing to God in hope and holy awe

 O Prophet, o’er the world
Thy soul-compelling banner is unfurled:
    See how thy faith hath spread
Till Iran and Arabia are led.
    Thy lips unclose
Like petals of a newly-budded rose,
    And from them flow
Thy words of wisdom, till not only know

To Thee, first,
From the clouds of Whose mercy is born
The rose of my garden, I look!
Let the praise of Thy love the beginning adorns
    Of the verse of my book.

Most verses are colored with pain and hopelessness-

Unto the fields like pecking birds I go
To gather up the ears of golden grain,
But only tears, not corn, I gather—lo,
      They fall in floods like rain.

   Behold my luckless heart,
    So broken, so dissolved by pain,
It even flows in tears between my lashes;
      And yet how can I part
    With it, while still to me remain
Its shards—I wait till it is burnt to ashes.

 And in my desolation tears of blood
Gushed from my stricken, widowed heart in
      never-ending flood

The wine of my delight has lost its taste;
The earth of my existence turns a waste,
No wholesome grass grows there, but only weed;
My flaming spring of life has passed indeed.
I searched for joy, but never found the end;
My empty hands, outstretched, can greet no friend

O, I have drunk my cup of cherished grief,
    And love the torment of my wounded heart;
    As the scars heal I tear their lips apart,
And in my pain find rapturous relief.

The verses are beautiful, profound and tell us about the futility of transitory human life. The life of the princess was more of a tragic tale and her poems will always remind us of two things- first, of a double-faced and cruel attitude towards women, and second, that by believing in and submitting to God, we can tackle our inevitable pains.

You can check out the book here

·  The term ‘Sufi’ comes from ‘Suf’ the Persian word for ‘wool’ as those spiritual dervishes (later called Sufis) used to wear garments made only of pure wool.

·   In Sufism, God is perceived as a romantic partner but in a very pure and platonic way.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Grammar Mistakes On Twitter

Check out this interesting info-graphic that Nikolas, my friend from 'Grammarly' has requested me to share!

Grammarly Celebrity Twitter Mistakes