Once Upon A Story…

Once Upon A Story…

Stories are a daily part of our life. We tell our families after returning from work nothing but stories. Stories of how it was a breathtaking event to catch/miss the bus, how we have convinced a client of the services we render or how we have solved a problem at workplace. Love stories, patriotic stories, mythological stories or the historical stories each genre holds a special place in our heart.I am all ears when I hear three golden words “once upon a time’.

What does your usual Sunday look like?

Well, mine is full of home chores and a little bit of prep for the week ahead. How mundane! You must be thinking.. but that is pretty much a life of every woman around the world. So, this Sunday was not so special. I wanted to finish my read “Mansfield Park by Jane Austen”. Well, if my SIL reads this blog post she would definitely say “ What?, You have not finished it yet?”. Well, I should tell her that I have been doing some “ Busy Nothings” since last 3-4 weeks. 🙂

“Busy Nothing” is a word which is coined by Jane Austen centuries before.

It still fits my schedule many times. I do not want to put the novel down. Who would not like to visit Northamptonshire every now and then to have English tea along with a little tete-a-tete with the British Folks of the 18th century. 🙂 🙂

Transcending to the places mentioned in the book is the general protocol of reading any book. Slowly the author starts speaking to you and you realize that you are in his/her world.

Before the kind of entertainment that we have now, it was through the folklore and tales by grandma that we used to do this time travel. Some are meant to learn a lesson while many are left to the audience whether what to take away.

Our paternal grandma whose name was “ Padmavati” used to weave so many stories and tell us after we came back from school. In her stories, she never referred to Ramayana or Mahabharata, she was always interested in telling folklore much to her audience’s ( Shrilekha and me) delight.

While telling us the stories she used to create simple rhymes which were easy to remember.

The stories have been etched in the memories of me and my sister. My grandma lives on forever in our memories through her stories.

One such “ Busy Nothing” Sunday noon, and I get a call from Shrilekha, asking whether will I be interested in a storytelling session by Vikram Sridhar. I said what??. Sensing that it might not interest me she said, “Okay, don’t come, but I will go.”

My home was bustling with guests by that time and I knew that they were all engaged in chatting.I did not want to indulge myself in those ‘Busy Nothings” yet again so, I just thought, let me take a look at this Adult Storytelling session.

We reached the venue which is a beautiful place on 6th Main Road RA Puram. The name of the studio is Wandering Artists ( So apt). As we reached there were around 20 people seated in a circle comfortably listening to Vikram who was dressed in kurta-pajama with a nerdy look.

The session started with a simple folk tale explaining why Sambhar is named as Sambhar?

Starting a new session with something related to food was expected but this simple story was awesome and involved the tales and stories from three to four different states.

The storyteller was smart enough to engage people’s attention who were from varied places and states. Once that was complete, he continued his narrative with a King and Queen Cobra story. The story was simple and many people must have heard it. But what made it special was the narrative.

The sound of a baby crying and the description of the function hosted by the King created a vivid impression.

By now, Shrilekha and I had become the small kids aged 7 and 10 years and were just watching Vikram as he was progressing with the story.

The story ended and the moral was left for our imagination. Vikram smartly moved to the next story of a goddess and that was another treat.

Again, there wasn’t a mythological account of any of this. It was a pure folklore, pretty much as my grandma used to tell me.

Post Yellamma, Vikram took us to a quick and simple story of a cow named Punyakoti. It was a heart-wrenching story of a new mother Punyakoti who promises the Tiger to return as his meal after feeding her baby.

Our next stop was Agra and the darbar of Mughal Emperor Akbar with Birbal. Soon after that, we went to Krishnadevaraya’s kingdom to watch the smartness of Tenali Raman.

By now, we were all immersed in the folklore and living every character.

Vikram smartly moved us onto a kind of Shaikh Chilli story. It involved inputs from everybody. Before we knew the session was over and we came out with a heart filled with joy and brain filled with different colorful canvases.

Rich Indian folk lore has a long way to go.Today’s session was a revival of memories with my dearest Aaji who was an expert to share beautiful folk stories.I wish I get more opportunities to listen to more stories and handover them to the future generation.

For Vikram’s next session check out his FB page

https://www.facebook.com/vikram.sridhar.1?fref=ufi&rc=p 

 

 

Myths of Dog Food – By Canine Nutritionist Ishmit Chandiok

Myths of dog food

 

Dog food is the matter of discussion for most of the Pet Parents. In this guest post, Ishmeetsingh Chandiok, Mumbai Based Canine Nutritionist has debunked some myths of dog food.

The patter of little feet, the fuzzy hairball, the razor sharp teeth and the droopy, loving eyes….. all the traits of a loving puppy…. running around the house…. full of joy and fun!

Along with the joy of having a new life running around the house, comes the tremendous burden of being responsible, caring and loving Pet Parent. There is nothing more that we wish for our four-legged children than a healthy and fun filled life. The most important thing we need to give our dogs is TLC – Tender Loving Care…. And that, if followed by a healthy, nutritious and well-balanced diet.

There have always been opposing theories about how one should feed their dog. Some swear by the easily available dry kibbles while others swear by home cooked food. This is a debate that will, in all probability, be far from being comprehensively resolved in the near future.

I, personally, have been an advocate for home cooked food. This conclusion has been reached through a few years of research, trials on my very own “Bombay Settler” – Harley; and endless picking of vets’ brains to get a clearer picture.

While most of the vets will advocate home-cooked food to be the way forward, we, pet parents, make simple mistakes which, unknown to us, cause slow and long-term problems for our babies.

Common Myths:

Rice prepared for us is good for our dogs – WRONG 

the rice we use, which is mainly some form of Basmati, has higher quantities of carbohydrates than brown rice. This difference makes the dog put on more weight, with reduced fibers than if they were on a brown rice diet. Besides this, we salt our rice and most of us add a spoonful of ghee or oil to the rice prior to cooking. Both salt and oil/ghee are harmful to dogs in the long run.

Un-tempered daals (lentils) are ok for our dogs – WRONG 

the daals (lentils) prepared by us at home are boiled with basic ginger & garlic pastes along with salt. The quantities of ginger, garlic, and salt which is added to our normal food is too high for our dog’s digestive systems to digest.

Chicken removed from a curry and washed can be fed to our dogs – WRONG 

the spices, salt, and oils used during the cooking process seep into the chicken pieces and are retained within the meat in high quantities. Thus, even superficially washing the chicken, does not extract all the harmful ingredients and they are eventually ingested by the dogs.

Then what is the right thing to do?

The use of brown rice (unpolished rice), vegetables such as carrots, beans, pumpkin, cabbage, etc and boneless chicken is the safest combination of ingredients to use for preparing meals for your doggies. A conservative use of chicken liver is also advisable. Try and avoid mutton liver as it has a higher concentration of fats.

Advantages of Home Cooked Dog Food

Our dogs will live longer

With the absence of chemicals and preservatives in homemade dog food, our dogs will be healthier, happier and free from diseases, thus resulting in a longer lifespan.

Our dogs will be slim and have a perfect weight structure

Commercial dog food is usually higher in fats and sugars leading to obesity. We can prevent obesity and take control of the caloric intake of our dogs by feeding them homemade food.

Our dogs’ systems will be cleaner and smell better

Providing homemade dog food will keep their systems free of infections, keep their teeth cleaner and their breath fresher.

Author Bio:

**Ishmeet Chandiok is the founder of Harley’s Corner – India’s first Ready to Eat Wet dog food brand. A pet parent and chef turned canine nutritionist – Ishmeet consults pet parents on how they can give their dogs the very best food.**
List of Terrible Food Combination As Per Ayurveda

List of Terrible Food Combination As Per Ayurveda

Food that causes aggravation of doshas, which is the main reason for disease , is called viruddharam (incompatible food). The effect of this gets accumulated in the body and gives rise to diseases. It should be considered similar to poison and artificial poisoning (Gara Visha). Here are some of the examples, which so many of us take as regular food.

In our Sastras eating food is just like performing the yagna into the fire in the belly.  Now the aahuti which we put in the yagna has a lot to do with the well being of the body. There are some rules which should be followed while cooking and eating food.

Do sizzlers,  brownie Ice creams,  Milk Shakes invite you? Well, here is what you should know about it.

Milkshakes and Smoothies:

All sour substances are incompatible with milk.So are all the fruits.

Now a day most of the people are taking milkshakes, thinking that it is very nutritious, but in contrary it is a causative factor for many ailments like skin diseases.

Packaged Cereals With Milk

Milk and salt are incompatible with each other and yet we add milk to the packaged cereals. In case you are wondering about the ingredients of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. Here they are: Corn (88%), sugar, salt, barley malt extract, vitamins(vitamin C, vitamin E, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, folate), minerals (iron, zinc oxide).

Green Leafy Vegetables and Milk

After consuming leafy vegetable drinking of milk should be avoided. Many fitness enthusiasts swear by the green smoothies. But

Green Smoothies is an example of blending incompatible food.

Horse gram with milk

Horse gram is the next superfood. Drinking horse gram porridge with milk is not advisable.

Mixture of hot & cold things

We all love sizzling brownies. Mixture of hot and cold things should be avoided as they are incompatible with each other by nature. Even adding cold water to hot water to make it drinkable should be avoided.

Heating of curd.

For many recipes, curd is the important ingredient.  For example, to prepare morkuzhambu, people use curd instead of using buttermilk. It is always better to use buttermilk instead of curd for preparing curd based food.

Banana with curd or buttermilk.

Overnight oats are the greatest example of combining incompatible foods.

Soaking oats in curd or milk and topping it with banana and fruit of your choice is something people love to eat as a breakfast in the morning. It is easy to make and ready to eat but it should be avoided given the ill effects of incompatibility of these ingredients.

Wheat + Sesame oil, Wheat + Hot water.

Wheat with hot water and with sesame oil should not be used.

Fish with Dairy, Sprouts, Black Gram, Honey, and Jaggery.

Those people who have been non-vegetarians and have been eating fish all their life would always say that fish with dairy is not a favorable combination. So if you are eating your fish with curd rice, please eat it with rasam rice going forth. 🙂

Radish with soup of black gram.

Radish with black gram is a bad combination and should be avoided.

Ghee kept in a bronze vessel more than 10 days.

Ghee if kept in the bronze vessel gets poisonous, so it is better to avoid it.

A mixture of the equal quantity of ghee & honey.

We should not only avoid consuming processed & packed foods but also food with a bad combination because it is one of the main reason for all lifestyle diseases like BP, DIABETES OBESITY & also CANCER.

Author Bio:

Dr.Prabhakantham

About me – I have been practicing Ayurveda for the past 18 yrs in a traditional way, I have experience in all Panchakarmas, I’m part of an NGO – AVAS, where I’m educating & treating underprivileged children.

 

The Story of a Biryani

The Story of a Biryani

Today in the want of a one pot meal, I made a vegetable biryani. It tasted great. Mind you, it took me 10 years to make great biryani.

I am a Maharashtrian, raised in a orthodox deshstha brahmin household. All my life I have religiously munched on whatever my mom cooked. Though she was an ardent devotee of so many gods, for me there was only one religion “ FOOD”. Deshastha is a branch of Brahmins which has Koknastha brahmins on the other side ( this is just for information) . My mom used to cook amazing food. She was a very pious lady and used to cook exactly the same menu during different festivals. For example, for Nagpanchami which is celebrated in Maharashtra, we never remember having anything else other than “ Sakharbhat” and “ Dind” (which is a type of small pancakes) there were many logical reasons behind her cooking. All the food which she used to cook involved seasonal vegetables and grains. Her cooking method never involved a lot of masala or a lot of frying. She seldom used onion, garlic, eggplant in her cooking. I wonder how she used to cook delicious food without using many ingredients.

As I got married to a South Indian household, I was not very sure what to expect because everything was very very new. All I knew that they would be having dosa and idli more than my home. I came to Chennai keeping my mind open and slowly I realized that there is a lot of difference in the cooking method of my mom and south india. Being computer savvy, I could easily get information about different recipes which people had generously put on their portals may be to help people like me.

But to tell the truth “ NOTHING” worked.

I could make the “Kozhumbu” but it quite never tasted like one. I could make “ Sambar” but it used to be much like “Dal” and not the sambar that my people were used to. Idlis were not as they would make and I could barely make good dosas. Those were the starting days of our married life. Couple of years on, I could now make okiesh food which people could eat. They say as you become a mother, you slowly become a good cook. But my daughter also could not completely change the way I cooked. Some poriyals, some sabjis were amazing. I could make soft fulkas from the day one and that was my plus point. But that was it.

After around 6 years, I appointed a cook, Kamakshi. She is from a village near Karaikudi and has worked in a Chettiyar household. An amazing cook and a very efficient househelp, Kamakshi realized the different ways of eating of my household quickly and adapted to the same. She makes great food. She is my first source of knowing authentic tamil dishes. The kozhumbu that she makes is lip smacking and so is the tomato thokku. The rasam made by her has its own fan following. The vegetable biryani that she makes is our staple food on EVERY sunday. The gobi pakodas which she makes as an accompaniment is my daughter’s fav food.  

Before Kamakshi, I could never know the real authentic taste of tamil cuisine.

Every dish is to be made a certain way and that certain way can be known only when somebody makes it in front of you or you have the taste engraved in your mind that you can replicate the ingredients and make the same.

Kamakshi is a god sent help for me to learn from an authentic source. But did I learn with her. NO.

It is her absence which taught me to remember the taste of each dish that she made and replicate the same. Today in the want of a one pot meal, I made a vegetable biryani. It tasted great. Mind you, it took me 10 years to make great biryani. It was not learnt from anybody, I just used my senses remembering the taste of Biryani made by Kamakshi and a lot of ingredients to make it great. Slowly,

I am realizing that good food is more about the exact ingredients that we add at the right time and nothing else.

Cooking is not an art but simple mathematics which I was ignoring all these years and was wondering why my mom never taught me to make great food like her. Perhaps she wanted me to come out of my shell and take my own time to learn cooking so that I love it all my life.

How did I make Biryani?

Prep:

  • Peel a generous amount of garlic and clean the ginger, peeling off its skin.
  • Cut beans ( ½ inch pieces) and carrots in julienne
  • Cut couple of onions ( long )  and dice tomatoes as usual
  • Make ginger garlic paste in a mixer ( I have recently bought a mortar pastle so I made it in that)
  • Make sure you have star anise, couple of cloves, couple of big cardamoms, cinnamon,  bay leaf and fennel seeds. ( if possible take it out and keep it in a plate)
  • For today I got Biryani Masala because I had to make stuff in giffy. If you have the patience and know how to make biryani masala, please make it beforehand. I used “Aachi Biryani Masala”
  • Curd around a cup
  • A couple of spoons of ghee ( clarified butter) and a spoon of ground nut oil.
  • Soaked Basmati Rice ( 1 big cup )

The Making:

  • Cooker is the best utensil you can make the Biryani in. So use your cooker. I recently bought a prestige clip on cooker which is an amazing cooker serving as a frying pan and a handi. You can use any of the available cookers though.
  • Make the cooker hot and put ghee as well as oil.
  • As it gets warm put star anise, cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon, bay leaf and fennel seeds.
  • In a couple of minutes, the aroma of these spices will prompt you to add onions.
  • Fry the onions for a minute and let it get soaked in the oil and heat till it turns golden brown. Add tomatoes to it.
  • Once onions and tomatoes leave their juice into the oil, add veggies and saute.
  • As they mix together and make a fantastic visual with their colors, add biryani masala.
  • Give it a good stir, some people also add lemon juice but I avoided it.
  • Add curd and again stir well.
  • By now, the whole stuff would be looking like a gravy. Nice and thick. This is the indication of adding soaked basmati rice.
  • Mix it well and add 3 cups of water. ( The Basmati rice which I have is new and soaks less water, check instructions on the cover of basmati rice to prevent Biryani turning into Khichadi ( LOL)
  • Add salt as per your taste.

NOTE: Clip on the lid and DO NOT PUT ON THE WHISTLE ( Thank you Shrilekha for this invaluable tip) in 10 mins please check whether the water content is fine and if it is then your Biryani is ready….Let it rest with the steam.

What are the takeaways:

  • You get a gorgeous Biryani Color
  • Nice Aroma
  • Well cooked basmati grains
  • A great taste.

I am not a fan of garnishing ( and lazy too) but you can always garnish it with freshly cut coriander and pudina… Take pics and post it on social media for extra satisfaction  🙂 🙂

 

Shopping Hacks for Busy Moms!

Shopping Hacks for Busy Moms!

Shopping has always been fascinating. We definitely have vivid memories of Sadhana dancing to the tunes of Jhumka Gira Rey Bareilly ke bazar me. Markets enthuse us with huge amounts of energy. Then let it be the Budhwar Bazar of Mahal or Sitabuldi Nagpur, Kamothe Bazar of Navi Mumbai or the hustling and bustling market of Mylapore, Chennai.

One of the prime reasons why I love marketplaces is that as a buyer I get to meet new people. Engage in a conversation. Talk to them in their local language. And yes here it is how I learned Tamil! We all have that preferred and favorite vendor who we wish to buy from. We trust her trade. We try to reach them for the best deals.

The lights at the night time at a marketplace, the arrangements of vegetables is many times love at first sight.  After a great shopping of grocery, vegetables one often tends to eat up at some local hawker to make up for the tired, dehydrated self. With changing times, we have to acclimatize with the newer situations.

I underwent a transformation when it came to my buying habits, after marriage. Now I had less time at hand to spend with my husband, for me and for the household. It was then, at that time when our late Perippa Mr Vishwanathan told me and cultivated the idea of buying the grocery and vegetables online. Local baniya was a popular online store in Mumbai, then.

And that decision to trust the new found love “APPS” gave my marital life and now postpartum life a breather. Four years and still on, I am a dedicated online shopper for grocery, vegetables, and other daily needs of the household.

Online shopping is indeed an order of the day and how?

 

  • It saves time:- Time for me is money. With my little one demanding all my time and attention, I invest this very dimension of my life very calculatingly. Just a day before if you order, you get the stuff right at your doorstep. No need to stand in long queues of time-consuming billing counters.
  • More variety:- Some of the online stores claim that they have more than 1000 brands of a particular item. I am sorted in this aspect and hence options don’t confuse me.
  • Good quality:- Four years my relationship with online shopping has always been a qualitative one with reasonable rates. And what if you find rotten carrots? Well, you can always return the same and get the money credited to your account.
  • Deals, Offers, and Bonuses:- A huge amount has been credited to my account as I avail many offers and bonuses. Loyalty comes with a price.
  • 24*7 customer care:- Most of the online portals selling vegetables and have great support. You can always chat with them or call them and they are indeed happy to help.
  • What more? Well, you can also avail their gifting facility. Present your loved ones with anything and everything.

Online shopping of vegetables and grocery is constantly evolving. Life becomes easy and hassle-free. Some of the online stores in main cities are

  • Bigbasket
  • Zopnow
  • Godrej Basket
  • Grofers
  • Spencers
  • More
  • Onlinesabjiwala

I am a Bigbasketeer! Are you?