Diwali Sweets – To eat or not to eat?

Most of us have grown up eating many homemade delicacies made by our mothers, aunts and other ladies, in our case dad and husband too. Indian food and festivals are inseparable. My mom used to have specific delicacies on festivals. She never made anything mismatch to that season of the festival. Say for example, for Nagpanchami ( It is a festival where we pray to the Snake God) she used to make naivedhya of Sakhar Bhat ( Sugar Saffron Rice). On the last day of Ganapati, that is on Ananta Chaturdashi, she used to make Banana Pachadi ( Kelachi Koshimbir) which she used to call as “ Anantachi Koshimbir,” these things were seldom repeated as may be those festive days would be perfect weather-wise to have this all. After her, I have never seen anybody so thoughtful with regards to food. Come rainy season and we used to refrain from Brinjal, Onion completely, and Garlic, the simple reason would be that rains make the digestion sluggish, if we eat something like onion, we would need a good digestive power, as the winter approach, the digestion gets back to normal and after Diwali, we can actually start eating Brinjal, Onions, and Garlic. There is a specific day called “ Tulasi Vivah” when one can start eating everything. Diwali sweets were made well in advance and were allowed to be eaten only on the Abhyangasnan Day ( Narakchaturdashi) the tradition which continues till date.

Why this much thought in eating?

Because our food science is very well advanced and it is as per the season. Seasons affect the gut and digestive power of the stomach. If we eat as per the digestive power, we are never to fail. I totally believe in eating seasonal food. Diwali is meant for eating. Good food and Good times equal Diwali. Diwali Palaharam is a matter of great interest across India. With the talks of diet and nutrition in place, life has become difficult.

How the supply in the market changes our perception of food.

7 to 8 years ago, PepsiCo introduced oats in India. The campaign was making India heart healthy. The campaign was successful and slowly other companies like Britannia, Kellogg’s also rushed to bring in the most healthy cereal of the world “ Oats.” Looking at the facts, it is apparent that slowly with these types of campaigns India has become 200 crore market for cereals which is nothing but packaged food presented wonderfully and advertised really well. Same goes with other packaged goodies such as Wafers, Noodles and so on. The question on my mind is why would we give up our food and go ahead to eat something which does not even taste a bit like Indian food. The answer is the power of ADVERTISING and BRANDING.

How colors, advertising, branding, and campaigns change the food scenario?

Nobody branded Poha, Upma, Idli, Dosa the way we are bombarded with Pizza, Noodles and Masala oats advertisements. Same goes with Diwali Snacks. After Navratri, you can watch Cadbury advertising about how to gift Chocolates ( Cadbury Chocolate Pack) this Diwali to your loved ones, neighbors and so on. I mean really? When did the warmth of homemade ladoo, murukku, shankarpali was replaced by something made in the factory with many other products with loads of preservatives?

Oats Chivda, Ladoo Without Sugar and Gluten Free Chakli

There cannot be Chivda without Poha, Corn Poha, or Sabudana Poha period. There cannot be ladoo without sugar ( palm sugar or jaggery are good replacements of sugar), and there cannot be chakli without gluten as Chakli wouldn’t happen if there is no Gluten in the mix. So, the gist of all the above is, as we always say, eat in moderation. Have those long walks every day consistently to feel good and fit.
No million dollar company can be worried about your heart, and it’s health though they claim. Ultimately, you are the only person who knows your body and its needs. So, eat homemade, think homemade and seasonal. Whether should you have all the sweets? Please have as you wouldn’t get the warmth and thought with which it is conceived and made.

Happy Diwali.

How do I decide the party menu?

How do I decide the party menu?

Festivities are around the corner. It is almost Diwali, there would be get togethers, family gatherings, friend meet ups and so on in the coming days. More often it so happens that the party food gets too heavy on stomach and there start the episodes of indigestion. The simple mantra for all the party hoppers is to eat moderately. This is not a great advice but I have something more to say.

As hosts of the party one has tremendous responsibility to keep the menu in check. Most places we see amazing spread of food. Loads of items but very little attention is given to the real nutrition factor or matching factor of the food.

Understanding the food groups and their right combination is very important as we have already insisted in our previous blog post.

Here are some pointers that all hosts can implement.

Age group and type of people you are serving

It is always better to identify the type of people you are serving, it also helps to know their age group. Old people may not like the same food as kids.

Food pairing

Our Indian food system has in built pairing. So, while deciding menus it is better to take a note of that. Also if you are serving multi cuisine food then have two items of the same cuisine complementing each other. Poori, Aloo, Shrikhand is a good pairing nutrition wise. It is a balanced meal. Biryani, Vengayam Pachadi and Gobi 65 is a complete meal in itself. Parathas with Pickle or Raita is a complete meal. While deciding food pairing never pair a chinese item with Indian.

The sauces which chinese items have do not complement the Indian foodstuff.

Keeping Manchurian with Biryani is a no-no.

When you have sandwiches in your menu, having Parathas is like giving high dose of Carbohydrates.

Sandwiches complement with something like fruit salad or custard which is light on stomach.

About three course meals

If you are looking at a three course elaborate spread. Soups and Starters should be carefully chosen. Soups are to enhance the appetite, they also need to be light on stomach.

For any normal day, cream of tomato, pepper rasam are the best soups to start with.

If you plan a Chinese meal then mixed vegetable soup, manchow soup is fine. Starters can be selected based on that day’s your preference of food.

While eating in the restaurant too, keep the difference between Chinese Cuisine and Indian Cuisine in mind before ordering.

Desserts can be chosen wisely too. If you have served a very heavy dinner you can even skip one. For heavy dinners, you can keep something light as Rasa Malai, or Rasagulla. I prefer keeping dessert in my main course mostly.

 Items for Children

Children are picky eaters so it is better to know their preference before planning. As per recent trends pizza, burger, noodles are some of the preferred choices for kids. Including something which is not junk like Parathas (whole wheat), Puris, Rolls is a wise decision. Also you can insist on the importance of having no junk in your party.

Get-togethers are fun but it is time to celebrate responsibly. Deciding the menu with seasonal foodstuff and gauged nutrition is worth appreciation.

Seemolanghan – Going the Extra Mile

Dasara is on the 10 th day of Navratri. It is to mark the victory of Goddess Durga over Demon Mahishasura. In Maharashtra, we do Seemolanghan on this day. In olden times, we used to follow the ritual of crossing the territory of the village or town in the north-east direction. Being in the vast city like Chennai I can only imagine crossing the city and coming back in the evening on time.

Seemolanghan is a sandhi ( combination) of Marathi word Seema meaning Limit and Ulanghan meaning crossing.

In modern times, we should actually work towards crossing our limits not physically but mentally in terms of efforts, in terms of patience, in terms of restraint.

Pushing the limits – Knowing who you are

As we meet so many people across the world throughout our lives, we find different behaviors. No two people are same. But as a human being there is something familiar in all of them. They are all capable of going an extra mile, crossing the boundaries.

Be it acid attack survivors, cancer survivors, or the girl who has been termed as the world’s most ugly girl in the world. Be it the Army men or the Mumbai Dabbawalas who are on time every time. Be it Paralympians or be it any Successful Sports Person. Pushing the limits is something common in all of them.

They have successfully crossed the limits, and have made their mark ahead of that limit. Here, there is a magic of human effort and spirit.

The question remains, whether these people already knew to push the limits? How do they know what they should do? But there are so many constraints to achieve something extraordinary?

Nothing extraordinary can be achieved without crossing the boundaries. Comfort zone is the killer of success. You might be successful at the current place where you are but why not push a little more and see what happens. Why not take risks and give it a 110% of your effort.

The best thing about possibilities is that they are endless.

While you enter the risk zone, you would find it extremely tough to even survive, but there is where you will understand who you are.

Understanding your limits is the first step towards crossing it, so this Seemolanghan let us first identify what our limits are.

How far we can actually go. And then there would be a chance that you can successfully perform Seemolanghan.

This Vijayadashami, may you find yourself and your inner peace. And instead of traveling across the city, hope you go deep inside yourself and perform Seemolanghan.

 

A New Beginning and A New Experience

A new beginning is very exciting, it becomes more meaningful when shared with family and friends.

As our dear blog readers you all are our extended family members and we could not wait further to tell you about our new venture and the kind of experience it has been since last month.

Around a month ago, I had severe headache radiating to right shoulder to fingers. It was so severe that I could barely talk. One such afternoon when all the pain was getting settled, I went to Shrilekha’s place over a tea. We stay just a couple of KM apart so occasional tea is always welcome besides we consider it as a quick huddle over looming matters.

As we were discussing different things, Shrilekha being her usual very enterprising self came up with a thought that Chennai has very poor quality of Phulkas and we should certainly do something about it.

There was no further thought before we decided that we should do Phulkas.

Initially it just started with Phulkas and slowly, as per the demand we started serving dinner. Word of mouth was our main ally when it came to spreading word. We cannot thank enough to our friends who spread the word so quickly. As we were doing dinners which included One gravy and Phulkas, we slowly started getting requests for lunches too. All office goers needed a home cooked lunch, so that requirement was fulfilled. Recently, we completed one month of this endeavour called “Joshi Caterers”

The main mission of this venture is to reach out to people who need home cooked food. As people love pizza, they also love to eat Puran Poli. It is just about the right taste and on time delivery.

Most of the customers which we came across never ate outside because one can not eat food without onion garlic outside. Similarly, food we should eat when we are fasting like Sabudana Vada or Sabudana Khichadi is never served in any restaurant in Chennai.

We served it and people liked it very much, we are so grateful to each of them who encouraged us with their amazing feedbacks.

Having home cooked food is a bliss. I was outside for 8 long years of my life and I have always felt the dearth of good home-made food so much so that in the last 2 years I started cooking on my own. Even if there was food, it was not made with quality ingredients which is even more harmful to the body.

As every business has its challenges, we too come across some difficulties every now and then. But when priorities are set right and as a team when we work towards getting a solution it all falls back in place.

Apart from Shrilekha and Me, there is a team of 5 people who are constantly working at making this experience better with every delivery. Our families have been extremely encouraging, without them we could not have pulled it up.

Meal planning was being done at the micro level and now it is done at Macro Level. We think and plan all our meals carefully so that they are nutritious and include seasonal varieties of vegetables.

I would always say that nothing can be accomplished without collaboration.

My people Khaleel, Kamakshi, Vignesh, Murali Mama, Mr.Joshi have been an integral part of the whole process. They encouraged us to take a step ahead and are with us in this satisfying yet challenging journey. Deliveries and procurement is entirely looked after Khaleel, Vignesh and Murali Mama. Culinary doubts and issues are quickly sorted by Baba. Kamakshi is an efficient cook and an amazing help. These people are my people and as a close knit family would stand by each other in the ups and downs of the life, they have been there just behind us as pillar of strength.

Well begun is half done..the journey so far was satisfying and god willing, it would be so in future.

 

How to Manage Stress And Make Your Job Easier

Today, my 7 years old niece took me to a surprise when she promptly ticked on her bullet point in her to-do list for the day after her cycle ride. As they say,, the children are the best imitators. They copy, or most of the time they ape the elders. We, my sister and me, have this habit of writing down a journal since we were kids. I have been a fan of a routine which is followed religiously even during my leisure days. I remember of keeping a timetable for my vacation too. No one forced me for this diligence. But I think I am wired to have a tab on time spent.
That was childhood. Time of course flew in no time(sounds filmy) isn’t it! But when I look back, I realize that this prudent habit has made my job much easier now.

Once a pattern is persuaded regularly becomes a way of life.

Journalling for me meant writing down how am I going to spend the whole day given so many activities and my varied interests. And mainly it helped me gauge myself when Mumma was not around during my vacations. Wise allocation of time, putting the same on the wall, decorating it and sticking to the timetable was all an easy task for me. It used to give me a sense of achievement when I had ticked 90 percent of my day’s task. It involved reading books(academics/shlokas/or story), cleaning my mess, helping mom in her chores, watching TV (MTV with Nikhil chinnappa, and Gaurav Kapoor on V TV), watering the plants, drawing/ painting, playing indoor/outdoor games, eating and chit chatting around.

The habit continued for my good, and now it has become a part of my life. The daily life today isn’t easy, but when priorities are jotted down in the form of a journal or to-do list, then it is just a cake walk.

Many successful people have emphasized a lot on the process of Journalling for million reasons. Journalling is a process of writing a diary. It is a simple activity where you note down what has to be achieved by you for the day/month/year. It is often said that when you write or record, you give clarity to your thoughts. Journalling helps in prioritizing the tasks. Important and urgent tasks can be written on the top followed by the rest.

A continuous tab on what has been done and what has to be done gives an idea of how much we have achieved of what we had set for at the beginning of the day. With multiple tasks at hand, now, at this stage of my life, I always resort to my journals. They are the mirror which tells me what to do and what has been left out.
This is a time saving simple method for people who have a lot of tasks and can’t keep a check mentally.

Let it be office work, household chores, payment of bills, meal prep for a week, a vacation planned or diet and fitness related regime, Journalling is the solution to ease your life.

Today, I go by the ‘done list’ which is to write down what has been done throughout the day instead of what is to be done which we l talk about in the next blog along with the various methods of Journalling.

Colors play an important part when It comes to writing a diary. It is in fashion now to also be expressive at Journalling than the monotonous tick and cross method.

I play multiple roles and have many hats to wear. With two hands full and a mobile in my hand which is the most essential gadget of my life, I feel the popular applications of Journalling are booming up.

I prefer my old school of writing a to-do list early morning than the various apps. And why not a pen and paper have a magical impact.

When you sit, think and write, you visualize the day further adding to the power of its manifestation. Achievements are seen to multiply when you exercise this one activity religiously.

With this blog, I am 10/10 for the day and heading off to sleep. Are you a fan of Journalling too! If yes, then share your secrets and experiences about the benefits. Else why not try once this awesome art to success.