55 Non-fiction~ Kitchen Nostalgia

“Pay close attention! You’ll need it someday.” she said, exasperatedly.

“Why? You are making it for me!” I retorted and waived it off.

Forlornly, today I missed the familiar sight and aroma of Mom making my favourite pickle.

Armed with memories and an expert’s lineage, I created my version.

Did I do it right, Mom?

Gulabjamun and Woman

​What does gulabjamun and a woman have in common?

They are both sinfully tempting, not everyone’s cup of tea yet mostly loved and lusted for (depending upon the drool quotient of a person) by everyone and beckoningly sweet (alright, this is debatable).

The most important thing though is that despite the inclusion of a certain ‘gulab’ and ‘man’ in their spelling, they are both fiercely unique and independent of their partial name-bearers. 

When I say I love gulabjamun, by no way do I mean that the gulab in it has any influence on my liking for it. Similarly, when we like, love or appreciate a woman, it is entirely owing to her own individuality. Nothing else.

After being flooded by messages everywhere on social media and chat groups yesterday on occasion of International Women’s Day, mostly by women, about how ‘There is a man in every woman’, honestly, beyond a certain limit I got tired of the whole drama. 

I had done a post about International Men’s Day some time back. A had simply waved it off, and I believe most men do that. Granted. Although, I do wonder if they acknowledged it and decided to celebrate, would they valiantly say that ‘A man exists even in a woman’? I guess not. 

I agree that the world is incomplete without both the sexes, but we are both complete within ourselves. I would give a slight edge to women here, since they are naturally more stronger within, nurturing and caring than men. 

I am a woman and proud to be one. Yes, the men in my life are priceless for me, but in my own, I believe I am, and every woman too, the entire world.

To Space and back! #ColgateMagicalStories

Handing A Jr an encyclopaedia that was way too heavy for him to even hold in his tiny hands and taking him to the Nehru Planetorium, Worli when he was just about 3 years old was entirely my doing. While a reluctant A kept elbowing me unremittingly for burdening him with too much information, I went ahead abashedly since I had discovered how receptive he was even at that young age!

A Jr loved looking at pictures and the chapter on space in his encyclopaedia was his favourite. Understandably, he couldn’t remember names of many planets back then but he did ask intelligent questions like why is one bigger than the other, why does only one have rings or why do they have different colours, and I tried to answer them all as earnestly and simply as I could.

Hence, to say that A Jr was thrilled when I received the Colgate space adventure pack would be a serious understatement. Before I could even cut-out the images from the pack he had begun spinning one story after another, trying hard to keep Angel’s curious hands from tearing away his space muses. As expected, he featured prominently in his space odyssey and made Angel as old as him so he could take her along!

A Jr and Angel are both 8 years old and love to read from the ‘Space book’ that their mother got for them when they were younger. Angel’s friend Pony often joins them in exploring the space world. They look at pictures in the book and then stare longingly at the night sky from their balcony wondering how it would be like to travel to those celestial bodies and see them for real.

Their mother and teachers are encouraging of their dreams, but their classmates often pick on them for talking about ABJ Abdul Kalam, Indian astronauts, satellites, space shuttles, UFOs, befriending aliens, rovers or rocket launchers relentlessly. Yet, all three of them continue with their imaginary space journey, confident that some day their time will surely come.

One day, a scientist from ISRO comes to their school to talk about the emergency situation they are facing with a few naughty kid aliens and how they would like a few fearless earth kids to help control them. A Jr and his space junkies are the first to volunteer for this exciting space mission and are completely ecstatic as it feels like living the dream they’ve all been seeing for a long time.

They interact with real scientists who’re harried because of the destruction of their property on Mars by aliens. They train extensively in their custom-made space suits and learn to drive a space car (without a valid license). When they are armed and ready, they take off in the rocket to Mars! Once there, alien kids attack on them and they respond with their own guns. However, soon enough all of them get tired (as they are all kids) and decide to take a break.

They don’t know each other’s language, but in time they realise that they aren’t that much different from each other. While A Jr and team give alien kids their chocolates and teach them how to operate the rover, the alien kids help them in putting back their broken stuff together and promise to never harm it again. They also give A Jr and his friends a sophisticated inter-planetary phone to keep in touch with them!

While looking at earth from space, they suddenly get homesick and realise how tiny they are compared to the vastness of the universe. Beyond doubt, after this adventure A Jr, Angel and Pony are the undeniable heroes of their school and the country and are loved and adulated by everyone for their bravery!

I’m blogging my #ColgateMagicalstories at BlogAdda in association with Colgate.

Being there for someone

Have you ever been in a position where you are privy to someone’s dark and murky secrets, don’t feel any need to be the moral police, and what more, end up abetting/supporting some of the misplaced incidents because you hold that person very close and dear to your heart?

I consider myself accepting of others’ desires and am also ready to identify with their weaknesses towards them, much as most of us are capable of being weak about. Afterall, we are all free to make our choices and mistakes, if any.

Sometimes though, despite my blind allegience to people I love, my inner self pesters me about the unnecessary risk I’m putting myself at. Shall I take the higher ground and bow out, shall I confess it to someone or shall I simply beg to be left out of it?

These questions come and go and I carry on with the job at hand. Being there for someone, completely, without judging. Just, for the sake of it. That’s what friends do, right? 

Kyunki Main Hoon..

This post got selected in the Spicy Saturday Picks on Blogadda this week! Yay and thank you so much!

I had written this poem for the Women’s Day function in one of Mom’s social clubs. She had read it out on stage and gotten very emotional while doing it. Undoubtedly, this is one of my favourites! Hope you all like it too. ☺

A Vibrant Palette

ना खुद को बड़ा जाना, ना अस्तित्व को अपने,

जाना तो सिर्फ ये की इश्वर की कल्पना हूँ.

अधूरा सा जहां था मेरे बगैर शायद,

पूरा करे जो उसको मैं वो ही चेतना हूँ.

अगणित हैं रूप मेरे, अगणित सी छटाएं हैं,

समा सके किसीमे वो शब्द बहुत कम हैं.

ना एक नाम मेरा, ना एक ही जनम है,

कण कण में मेरे बसता पीढ़ियों का एक संगम है.

ममता की मैं हूँ मूरत, मुझमें ही प्रेमिका भी,

संसार चलता मुझसे, और मुझसे ही बढ़ता भी.

जिस राह पर चली मैं उसे पूरा निभाया है,

मैं जननी, अन्नपूर्णा और मार्गदर्शिका भी.

ना हार मानी मैंने, ना टूटना है जाना,

विपरीत भी जहाँ हो, खुद ना कम है माना.

इश्वर ने श्रेष्टता का वरदान जो दिया है,

उसमे यकीन करके,संसार को है पाना.

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Quickly fix your sweet tooth

There are days when I plan a meal or a dessert elaborately, and then there are some desperate craving days when I simply assemble something interesting I find stored in my refrigerator and quicken the whole process! 😍

The outcome turns out palatable most of the times, but on rare occasions it both looks and tastes absolutely divine. 

Make layers of cake slices, fruits, sweet cream and chocolate sauce. Garnish with jam and coloured chocolate vermicelli. Voila! Your quick-fix dessert is ready! ☺

You would like to get a bite, wouldn’t you? 😉

Colours on my plate

It would be a pity if I didn’t flaunt this creation of mine in the one place that has given me such lovely friends and truly makes me feel at home, isn’t it? So, here it is! 🙂

This homemade Pizza Paratha was made from a dough made out of mixed flour (Nachni, wheat and besan), grated paneer, onions, lots of coriander and the regular dry condiments.

Toppings change as per choice, as we know, but I tried to make my pizza healthy by using plenty of seasonal vegetables in it. It helps if you make a regular sabzi first and then top it with loads of cheese, so everything is cooked and difficult to separate. (Mom’s tip? 😉 )

Apart from the fact that the Pizza Paratha tasted awesome, I simply loved the way every colour got defined in it in it’s unique way (even the maroon Nachni lended its lovely shade to it)! 😍

I got a big heads up for this from A Jr, A kept looking at it romantically at length  and Angel learned to say and taste ‘Pizza’. :mrgreen: 😄 😄

If the guinea pigs are happy, the experiment can be deemed successful, yes? 😉 😉

Finding a new word

The other day I was writing an article and, as is my habit, was referring to the Dictionary app on my phone to be doubly sure about the context and usage of difficult and/or confusing words in it. 

A Jr was observing me closely and after waiting for an impressive five minutes his barrage of questions began.

A Jr: Mamma, why do you keep looking in the Dictionary? You don’t know the meaning of the word?

Me: I do, beta. But since this will get published, I have to be sure that there’s no room for mistake. Sometimes we use the wrong words in haste or overlooking.

A Jr: Yes, you are right. We should know the words we write. Like, when I write an essay I use the spellings I know. Marks get deducted for wrong spellings.

There’s a long pause after this. From the corner of my eye I notice him deeply in thought and am well aware that this is the ‘quiet before another question storm’. Me being at work and in need of silence has nothing to do with him. 

As expected, he starts again in some time.

A Jr: Mamma, how do you know which word to see in the Dictionary?

Me: *trying to choose the right words* Um, while writing something I try and remember a word which goes perfectly with the meaning I want to convey through a sentence. I don’t use Dictionary every time, just for words that I often don’t use.

A Jr: *confused as well as excited* But Mamma, if I want to see, how will I know new words which I can find in the Dictionary? 

Me: *pleased with his curiosity and the fact that I know the answer* That is simple, beta. You must read a lot, whether it is your course books, story books, your encyclopaedias or the newspaper. If you see or hear a new word, even in some cartoon or a movie you should try and find out what it means. You must be curious to explore and learn. Learning should never stop. See, I’m still learning too! 

From the look on his face I knew my point had gone across to him. Ever since he was a kid I’ve tried to instill good reading habits in him and, if not a lot, I’m happy he does it by choice now. 

I love that in his spare time he goes through his general knowledge books and encyclopaedia and asks me to explain whatever he doesn’t get on his own. I sincerely hope that his thirst for knowledge only grows with time.

Is it time for me to get him his first pocket Oxford Dictionary? ☺

The thin line

​Debates are a comparatively healthier way of exchanging ideas and opinions, because in case the parties aren’t prepared to concede others’ point of view and the atmosphere gets too heated up for comfort, the moderator can make them stop at any moment.

In case of informal groups though, discussions become rather tedious when someone not only considers himself well-informed about everything under the sun, but also isn’t willing to let others furnish their thoughts on a certain matter. Signs of a restrained mentality? Possibly.

I love talking to people a lot, online as well as offline. What I look forward to, even crave for, is a spirited conversation that takes a post or topic ahead and aids in exploring facets that weren’t obvious before. Interested ones can join in anytime and everyone has something to gain from it. 

However, people who disregard the presence and inclination of others in a group and continue with their banal chitchat with scant respect to others’ time and boredom are a big put-off for me, however educated or well-read they are. Flaunt your knowledge in your own time, please.

There’s a thin line between arrogance and confidence and one needs to be careful about keeping on the right side of it. You definitely have come across such people. How do you deal with them?

What’s cooking today?

What do you vegetarians eat everyday? You guys don’t have any choice!”

Many of my non-vegetarian friends have said, and still say, this to me sarcastically, sympathetically, dejectedly and even resignedly many a times, because they feel like a foodie like me is losing out on something precious due to my vegetarian food choice.

There was a time when I had heated discussions with them over this issue, but now I just shrug and let it go. I’m born and brought up in a Marwari family where even eggs were a big no-no in the kitchen. Eating chicken or other non-veg stuff was strictly out of question, although we were allowed to go out and eat eggs, if we wanted.

I love cooking a lot and try to ensure that my kids develop a taste for vegetarian home food, which is always healthier in terms of nutrition and freshness. Every ingredient has a different nutritive content and I believe vegetarian food has its own charm.

Like, I made Hakka noodles for dinner yesterday, Rawa dhokla for breakfast today and our lunch was this wholesome colourful plate full of mother’s love and a balanced mix of essential foods. Quite a varied menu for the boring vegetarian fare, isn’t it? 😉

I was truly not in cooking mood today, but nevertheless managed to create this tasty-looking spread for my family. Nothing beats healthy ‘maa ke haath ka’ home food, right? :)😍