Life is what you make it


I wish, life was as simple as this recipe. Hibernate for a few hours, strain all the negative energies out, and come out shining. But the fact is, it’s not. Hell, it’s worse. Even if you live life on your own terms, it’s still tough. And you constantly have to fight crazy situations you never dreamt of. When I see winners around me; people who can’t stop celebrating, people who are too busy in raising kids; people who are living the lives of their dreams, I wonder, why it isn’t so with me? How I wish I came out battling every fear, every negative energy I get from a few people and every regret with ease.

August-September is officially the worst months of the year for me. And the current record has a similar pattern like the past times. So, how do you think I will cope now? It makes me feel even worse when I think of October, as I will be turning 30, and believe me, I have achieved nothing at all in life. Yes, I have the best support system in terms of family, but on my ‘own’ grounds I have reached nowhere. But, here’s how I think I can save my boat from sinking. I’m joining an art class from tomorrow for which I was waiting for years. I’m extremely thrilled to pick up the paint brush–instead of a phone or a keypad–and draw something beautiful. I hope, I learn a technique or two and can pat my back for doing something.

How I truly wish, life could be as simple as this recipe. Hibernate for a few hours, strain all the negative energies out, and come out shining.

Recipe: Shrikhand (Sweetened Greek yogurt)

If you come home at 7PM and you want to have dessert at 10PM, you can make this Gujarati dish. All you need is fresh curd. But, my experience says that it tastes better after 12 hours when kept in the fridge. Sorry for the dreadful timeline. Life is tough, buddy. But this wait would be rewarding, I can promise.


600 ml homemade yogurt (shouldn’t be sour)
3-4 spoons of sugar
½ tsp cardamom powder
a few threads of saffron
powdered, unsalted pistachio nuts (fresh and crunchy)
1 tsp cold milk

Things/tools you would need

White muslin cloth (don’t take the stained one with which you strained your beetroot juice; no, actually, you can)
Steel strainer (I use a round, medium-sized strainer that looks like a small wok)
3 shot glasses (why? it’s the best size you can go for with this much curd)


1. Cover the strainer with a damp muslin cloth (make sure you clean it properly; I wash it five times to remove all the detergent or dust from it). Now, slowly, put the curd in this; spoon by spoon. Make sure you have a deep container resting well below the strainer in which all the water can be collected.
2. Pull the four corners of the muslin cloth slowly and tie roll it till it’s tight. Don’t go ahead and press the curd with your fingers; it will strain from the cloth and come out. I have done this mistake twice. All you want to do is remove all the water from the curd, and this can happen slowly, and on its own. Just leave it to rest. Some people tie a knot and keep this curd muslin bag hanging on the kitchen tap, where all the water can dip in the sink. But, I find it a bit risky. Can’t see my curd falling down the sink. Anyhow.
3. Leave this for almost three hours. Yes, the yogurt will take this much time to completely thicken up.
4. After about three hours, you will be surprised to see the water. Mind you, this is whey protein. So, if you’re a health junkie, you can drink it to build muscles. Sorry. I was trying to be funny. Don’t ever get this thought going in your mind like me.
5. Now, remove the thick yogurt in another round vessel. Add the sugar and cardamom powder. And all you have to do now is whisk them with a ladle, whisker, spoon or whatever you have in hand. I usually whisk it for 3 to 4 minutes, till I taste the yogurt for sugar and it comes out fine. Also, you might find the yogurt a tad bit tangy, but, don’t worry. The poor thing was out of the fridge for three hours.
6. Take the tsp of milk in a tiny bowl and add the saffron threads in it. Give it a mix and throw in the yogurt mixture.
7. With the help of a tsp, add this mixture in your shot glasses. Once done, add a single thread of saffron on it. Store these glasses in the fridge (not freezer) for a few hours or say, 12 hours. Do add a thread of saffron on top, as it will leave a beautiful yellow colour the next day. And when keeping the glasses in the fridge, you will have to cover them. I just put a round plate on my glasses. You could use the fancy cling film.
8. Before serving, garnish the glasses with roughly pounded pistachio nuts. If the nuts are salted, ignore this step altogether.


After eating my Shrikhand, I almost end up eating up my spoon too. Hope you don’t. Until next time…

PS. There’s an epic joke attached with Shrikhand. Back in the days when we used to live in Mumbai, my husband usually went to Matunga to buy our veggies and kitchen items. So, one day, he saw Shrikhand in one of the shelves. He was about to pick it up, and I stopped him abruptly. “Don’t you dare buy this Shrikhand! I will make it for you in five minutes at home! That will be the best,” I answered him coldly. “All you have to do is whisk the yogurt,” I added. “I can do that like a pro,” and I went on. And, I never, ever made any Shrikhand at home. I never made any.

It’s only now and the first time, that I made Shrikhand at home (in my six years of marriage). And, now I can’t stop making it. Dear husband loves it so much!

When it rains, it pours!


I grew up in an apartment or condominium as you’d like to say. And my father’s house is still the same, since almost 29 years. Now, in our building, we’ve had many people coming in and going out. But a few of them have been living there since the start, including us and a Jain family. Almost a decade ago, when I was in my teens, a new member joined this Jain family. The woman happens to be one of the most inspiring people I have met in life till now, and we connected the moment we sat to chat.

When I first met Pooja, whom I call Pooja bhabhi, I got to sense what simplicity is all about. Pooja likes to live her life extremely simple, though she herself is a strong-headed woman. There are no frills or nothing fake about her. Her reactions are almost straightforward, and she is one of those women who will advise what’s right, and not what you want to hear all the time. So, when she smiles, you know she means it. What I also like about her is that she is a spiritual person, and believes in karma. In spite of being married to an affluent family, she never shows that every human being should have so much money, unlike most of the people like her, with whom I only feel suffocating.

Pooja came to Surat from Jaisingpur, Kolhapur district, Maharashtra. And I love her cooking. What was common between us was the hobbies we had, be it singing, seeking inspiration from the common people around us, cooking, and not to forget dancing in the rains. Pooja had to manage a huge kitchen as a newlywed daughter-in-law, but when she glanced the first pour of the season, she couldn’t control her feet. She had to rush to the terrace and enjoy the rains like a child. And I liked it too. So, I used to be back from school, and we happened to eat lunch or an evening snack together, and suddenly, we saw rains. Or, it would be a lazy Sunday morning, when we finished our breakfast together, and we saw the rains. And we knew, we had to dance in the rains at least once in the entire season.

After enjoying our singing and dancing session in the beautiful rains, we came back, changed, and met again to enjoy a sweet dish called Dudhi ka halwa (bottle gourd pudding). Now, I didn’t know that such a simple vegetable could be turned into a yum sweet dish. But, Pooja bhabhi did a brilliant job at it. She used to grate some bottle gourd, and make a quick halwa, and believe me, its satiny texture blew my mind with every morsel that I took from the hot bowl in which she served me this freshly prepared dish.

Dudhi ka halwa is very different from other halwas that are made of almond or wheat flour or semolina. Its texture is the winner for me, and the other thing that I love about it is the fact that it has minimal sugar. Yes, it still does taste sweet, but it hardly has any sugar in it.

So, the next time you see rains pouring, do go out, drench in the beautiful showers, and come back home and prepare this sweet dish. It’s only then will you be able to enjoy the smallest yet the most beautiful things about life. And just like me, you will find hope. Just don’t burn your tongue. 

Happy rains!

Recipe: Dudhi ka halwa (lauki/bottle gourd pudding)


1 small- or medium-sized fresh bottle gourd
4 tbsp clarified butter
½ cup malai or fresh cream (I take the first layer of the fresh milk that I boil and keep in the fridge)
3 tbsp sugar or less
1 or 2 cups milk (depending on the quantity of the grated bottle gourd)
2 pinch of cardamom powder, completely optional


  1. Peel the bottle gourd and grate it.
    2. Heat the ghee in a steel skillet on low flame. Meanwhile, press the grated bottle gourd between your palms and remove all the water from it. Remember, you don’t want to make this grated vegetable go dark brown. So, always be on your toes, and rush a bit faster. This way, you will always find the grated veggie white and fresh-looking.
    3. Once the ghee is hot, add the grated bottle gourd in it. Now, stir it continuously.
    4. The deal here is to get rid of the raw taste of the bottle gourd. I usually turn the heat to medium at this stage; me being impatient. After about 12 minutes of stirring, you will see that the quantity will go down slightly, and the veggie will throw out its natural aromas. This is when you know that the cooking process has begun.
    5. Now, add the fresh malai. I break all the rules here and add as much as I like.
    6. Stir the malai in, and now, you will have to solidify this malai into a khoya-style texture. So, keep stirring, and after about 15 minutes you’ll see that the malai has turned into tiny solid cream-coloured pieces.
    7. Add in the milk. I usually add milk till it covers the content in the skillet nicely. Let the boiling process begin. Also, you don’t need to cover it with a lid. It’s better to stir every minute then to let it burn under a closed lid.
    8. Once, all the milk evaporates, the halwa will leave out all the ghee from the corners. This is when I add my sugar. I take about 2 or 3 spoon sugar. You could add more if you want to.
    9. Let the sugar melt, and you can shut the flame.

Note: When you taste the halwa when it’s still in the skillet, you might find it a tad bit feeka or sugarless. This is because when it cools down, it gets its sweetness. In short, less is more, when it comes to sugar in Dudhi ka halwa.