Hello, 2020!

I have read my favourite astrologer’s forecast and I must say, for me, this year is all about keeping patience.

Motherhood can be an overwhelming feeling. You are at a place where you can feel uneasy sometimes. You always have to be on your toes. On an individual level, my self-esteem is on an immense low. “You should celebrate motherhood and be happy,” my mum says. When I see other women, however, I wonder how they come out all stress-free and smiling. And when I see other women stepping out for work or dressed up for a party, I can’t help but wonder how my life has changed. I don’t even have time to comb my hair.

Talking about my writing life, I’m on a miserable state since a few months. I can’t stop checking my mails (spam box included), but none of the editors seem to like my ideas. What are the current trends? Am I not aware of them? Why can’t any editor trust my eight-year writing experience? I have no clue. You might want me to chill, forget all and be happy with the baby, but the fact is, I loved it when my bylines came in magazines and newspapers, but the reality is beyond belief. My heart aches every time I open my inbox and it’s a terrible feeling to face every day.

Talking about recreational activities and hobbies, travel has become a pain. There is so much of packing and planning required with a one-year-old that we often just sit at home and let the weekend go by on its own. So that’s a cut down on some travel inspiration too.

Yesterday, I was in an auto, on the way to my dentist for the last session of my root canal therapy, and I thought, what do I have to look forward to? No stories in print. No money of my own. No nothing. But then I thought, what does God want me to sense now?

May be, there is someone out there who has never been blessed with a baby. May be, there is someone with a slipped disc and cannot step out to work. May be, there is someone on a hospital bed, fighting a random disease. How can these people find inspiration then?

I need to look beyond my superficial issues. I need to practice gratitude and be hopeful about my life (no matter what the newspapers say). May be, God wants me to knock another door when it comes to my writing. May be, I need to try poetry or fiction. So, yes, I need to stretch every day, so that I can face life with the best of me, come what may.

We are in-charge of our own happiness and miseries. Certainly, it’s not my year to shine as an artist, but that doesn’t mean I need to lose hope. I have got an amazing story to share in my next post. Till then, I’d want you try a simple recipe in the kitchen. Be grateful of whatever simple things we have in life. Because, every day is not a party, and all stones are not diamonds.

Love always.

In the French city of India

On the way towards Pondicherry, I saw salt being extracted from huge field grounds. Little further, individual houses were seen on the coastal line and I wondered what it’d be for the dwellers to listen to the waves all night. And as we drove closer, I was overwhelmed to see the White Town of the city and the statue of Mahatma Gandhi on the majestic Promenade area. When I look back, I see myself staying right there with my husband while we explore the cafes and streets of this high-street area; living the French style. 

So, recently, we sisters decided to explore a new city (without our husbands). And we did not bad, especially with three kids in the group. When we reached Pondicherry, two of us knew it strongly that the driver had to be changed with a local one; that way, we won’t have to sit on Google Maps. 

The first night, we girls had an amazing dinner at La Villa. The cucumber punch and hibiscus mojito stood out for me. That unnerving feeling of how the next two days would be was palpable; needless to say, we were all a bit of anxious already.

Travel has become such a tedious task with one always hunting down reviews to make the perfect decisions. Every place should stand out. Every dish should stand out. Every hour should be well spent. It really can give you a headache. To be together on this trip, we had to trust each other, and keep those nervous veins calm. And I’m glad we managed to smile all along.

By the way, I wish I had picked up some jewellery pieces at the Meraki next door to La Villa restaurant. You leave some things for next time, and this surely was one of them. At the store, I spoke to the owner, a sweet lady who didn’t find it odd to speak in Hindi and suggested a few names that I could find out on my trip.

Our stay was booked at Le Pondy, and I must say, the king sized beds impressed me. With an infant, you keep looking out for more space. During the entire trip though, we couldn’t catch up on some pool time, so that was it for me. Also, the hotel’s kitchen staff was kind enough to pack baby food for us. Which kept our rhythm going.

I got to know the French side of the city at Auroville. It’s a forest kind of an area that runs on solar power, and is filled with many creative people who spend their time doing meaningful things be it meditation, baking, teaching, etc. There were many cafes here, but there was this one place where a poor man was being thrashed very badly. And that gave me an impression of two things. These old beggars just won’t move away from your car (we had experienced several times in the city too), and second, this foreign style cafe just couldn’t afford to spoil their image with this man sitting on their entrance. And I wondered what to make of it. And I still can’t decide on it. 

Coming back to Auroville, you will have an amazing time here. Make sure you find a nice place to stay here so that you can explore it well. We went to Maitrimandir, and loved it (unlike the average rated reviews). Just don’t forget your baby’s stroller, as there’s a bit of walking required. The more you read about this place, the more curious you’d be about this place.

Delicious ice-cream, dream catchers, crochet key chains, cotton clothing items, handmade soaps, solar panels, well-trimmed gardens, a 100-years-old Banyan tree, lots of good food and more, Auroville for me was a beautiful spot to slow down and unlike many commercial locations around the country. If you’re not with your tiny tots, you can cycle around and interact more with the people here.

Coming to White Town and beyond. While I couldn’t go inside Sri Aurobindo Ashram with my seven-month-old baby, I did explore a few bakeries in the nearby area. Zuka on MG Road blew my mind with its neat cakes. A must visit if you’ve a sweet tooth. Arulmigu ManakulaVinayagar temple nearby the ashram was great too. 

I wanted to skip buying plastic bottles, and was happy to see a big water cooler inside the temple. I didn’t have a steel bottle with me, but I drank water from its tap with my hands anyway. Also, there were water taps near Maitrimandir as well.

I loved shopping at Auroshikha. Got pure sandalwood powder from here and I can’t wait to try it soon. The candles here were nice too, apart from the usual incense sticks, cones, aroma oils, and all. 

There are some pretty corners in White Town, plus the architecture is a treat for the eyes. The mustard yellow walls, yellow and red-coloured Vespas being driven on the lanes, bougainvillea plants adding more charm to the area, and of course the many food joints and boutique-style shops you’d like to see. 

If I had time, I would have liked strolling at the Promenade, exploring quaint cafes and stores like Ma Pondy Cherie. I would highly recommend you staying one day at a resort to enjoy some pool and beach time, and one day in White Town to take up interesting tours and witness how the French influences the city.

Lastly, always watch for small communities that might ask for your time and helping hands. There are many NGOs here that undertake thoughtful ways of helping the underprivileged. For instance, there was this cart that sold bags made by differently-abled people. If I’m not wrong, it belonged to Snehan, a local NGO. So go ahead, and be kind.

Everybody has a way of working in Pondicherry. Local people (including the people who have flown from different countries from the world) have their own way of working creatively here, and that amazed me. 


Hello again, Bruschetta

It was in Julie & Julia movie that I saw Amy Adams make it. She roasts the bread slices really well with loads of olive oil on the pan, turned them with a fork, and seasoned her tomato and yellow pepper. There was a clear sound of the crunch at the dining table when her husband started to eat it, and I almost could smell the basil leaves and taste the tomatoes. It was love at first sight. That’s how Julia Child must have made it too, I wondered.

Now, I have had many versions of Bruschetta but somehow, this authentic version is stuck in my head. So, when I saw a huge piece of Baguette at a nearby food store, I knew what my mind wanted to make with it. I had announced it right then at the store before my husband, and luckily, used it on time at home.

I didn’t have fresh basil leaves in the fridge. Actually I did have some, but they’d gone black. But, nevertheless, I went ahead and made Bruschetta with whatever was in hand. And we loved it as usual; and, it had a nice crunch too.

Delicious food doesn’t have to have loads of cheese in it. Nor does simple food have to have a long procedure to be followed. You know, my favourite Greek dip, Tzatziki, or, say, the Middle-Eastern sauce, Tahini, are recipes that are extremely simple. But, we often overlook such dishes in the kitchen, and that feeling of triumph is non-existent when we make them.

I have always believed that in my kitchen, homemade shall be treasured forever, and whether it is simple recipes of peanut butter or just Bruschetta, these would never be undervalued.

This is just me trying some authentic food. Here we go.

Recipe: Bruschetta


Tomato – roughly chopped (I took two medium-sized tomatoes for 5-6 slices of my French bread).

Basil leaves – fresh ones (but, I used a super crispy and dried batch)

salt and pepper as per taste

a clove of garlic

olive oil

a small amount of butter

half a tsp of balsamic vinegar (optional; I didn’t have it)

onion or bell pepper of your choice (I almost always use none of these, but you can)


Chop the tomatoes, and season it with salt and pepper. Add in the basil leaves with a dash of olive oil.

Slice the bread and place each one on the griddle after drizzling some olive oil on it. Roast them golden brown. I do add a bit of butter here for that extra crisp.

With the help of a fork keep turning the slices. Once done, peel a clove of garlic and rub it on each slice. This is the best thing to do, as adding them with the tomatoes add too much of a pungent smell. When you rub the clove of garlic on the bread slice, it leaves a hint of aroma and is just perfect for your Bruschetta.

Garnish the seasoned tomatoes on the slices. Add a basil leaf or two for that picture-perfect look. When serving on the plate, you can drizzle that last bit of olive oil on it. It won’t harm.

Happy eating!

Simply turmeric

So, these days, I’ve gone back to cooking. It’s been a month, and I had to revisit my memory though; refer notes, call my mum, and so on, for even the basic recipes. There’s a new cook to help me in the kitchen, who comes to make dinner for us every day. I had gotten some veggies the other day, early in the morning. Turmeric was one of them, although I hardly knew what to make with it. Had known a few recipes but nothing that I could make properly. That’s why it was a big relief when the cook suggested a side-dish that could be made with turmeric. 

Known as Pachak, it can be eaten like a pickle alongside your usual thali and aids in digestion. We had it with a sabzi, and at least I liked its fresh taste. The husband found it okay. See, we all know that with new dishes, one needs time to develop a liking for a particular taste. But with regularity, this can be achievable. I’m certainly going to make Pachak more because one, this is simple to make, and second, it is amazing for your gut. What say? 

Recipe: Pachak

Fresh turmeric – I took four pieces 
one piece of ginger
a pinch of mustard seeds
juice of half a lemon
salt to taste
coriander and curry leaves for garnish – optional
one teaspoon oil of your choice
a pinch of asafoetida  


Peel the ginger and turmeric; then grate them. In a small wok, heat up some oil. Add the mustard seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves, and stir for a few seconds. Switch off the flame. Add this to the grated turmeric and ginger mix. Now to this, add some salt and lemon juice. Give it a mix. 

PS. Don’t mind your yellow hands; the turmeric might leave a stain or two, so keep your favourite kitchen linen away. I do so! 

Mal maas

Here’s some religious gyan. Once a year comes Mal maas (the month of Mal) according to Hindu calendar. This time it fell from December 14th to Jan 13th. And one of the charitable deeds that one can do is to distribute pakoras (the importance of frying oil basically). You just need to do it on any Saturday of this timeline.

These pakoras (gram flour batter made by mom and fried by dad) will go to the underprivileged people and animals. You can also distribute it to your neighbours. There were sweet pakoras (made with jaggery) and spicy ones (with onion and potato filling). May be our ancestors thought that these will keep you warm in the cold climate. Who can tell.

Raw beauty

Nothing beats the warmth of a flavourful chutney on a chilly winter morning. This one was an eye-opener for me for I skipped the baby fenugreek leaves from adding to my list. I always find it admirable when you can create something in the kitchen in minutes; especially when there is a use of the healthy ingredients. And hence this chutney scores high for me. A handful of items, a bit of hand-pounding (oh, I love using the mortar and pestle) and a great aroma to go with it too. Try it and you won’t get enough of it! Here’s its quick recipe: clean and wash the baby fenugreek leaves, dip them in hot water once to remove its bitter taste, pound it with cumin seeds, green chillies, salt and garlic and there you have a fresh and earthy chutney to relish with rotis!

PS. I’m sorry I haven’t been so active on this space lately. I was on bed rest for long and this November, I was blessed with a healthy baby boy. But I promise to be back with more writing soon. Anyhow. Have a blessed and thrilling holiday time, you guys!

Ivy Gourd, anyone?

I could never get creative with this veggie that is Tindora (Ivy Gourd). But this quick recipe is just what I needed. Just like that quick cabbage Gujarati dish, Sambharo, this version of ivy gourd offers a fresh flavour and a crunchy texture to your Indian thali.

Also, there is something else I would like to mention here. You know the issue with the trending smoothie bowls that are made with nut pastes and nut milk, garnished with seeds, etc is that they just don’t look appealing to my tummy. I need these local recipes and follow the traditional way of cooking. That’s what I call food, and which is why you will never find those on my blog.

So, anyway, here’s how you can make this:

Wash and cut some tindora (I really don’t know what to call this as I haven’t had it in my kitchen before) length-wise. In a skillet, add some oil, a pinch of asafoetida and turmeric powder, slit green chillies, curry leaves abs of course, cumin and mustard seeds. Stir this for five seconds then add the ivy gourd to it. Now add some salt and cook this for 30 to 45 seconds, and remove from flame. Lastly, add some lemon juice and chopped coriander leaves and you’re good to go!

I like to have this salad (yes, it’s a bit cooked, but it’s salad for anyway) with my usual fare of roti and sabzi.

Let me know how you like this.

An uncommon feast

Yesterday, on the occasion of Nirjala Ekadashi, we didn’t cook any of the common grains like wheat and rice in the kitchen for it’s considered the biggest Ekadashi of the year.

Apart from fruits and Dudh Chai, today’s menu comprised homemade potato chips, Rajgira ki roti (amaranth), potato curry, Sabudana ke khichdi (tapioca sago), Samak ke chawal ki khichdi (barnyard millet), chaas or buttermilk, lassi (sweetened buttermilk), aam ras (hand-pressed mango juice), Singoda ke pakode (water chestnut flour fritters) with grated potato filling that was served with coriander chutney. Mind you, all this was seasoned with rock salt.

The sweet dish of the day, however, was Aloo ka halwa (potato porridge). Dear dad was given the duty to make this (only he has the patience to stir the large slotted spoon continuously) and of course that was accomplished with some finishing touches given by my mum.

Here’s how he made it: Roast the boiled and mashed potato in ghee (until you can see the ghee on the sides). This may sound easy but it’s not, as you don’t want to brown the potato. Next, add a cup of hot water and sugar with saffron threads and cardamom powder to it. Keep stirring till the water and sugar gets absorbed well. And there you have it; it’s that simple!

So, yesterday, every member of the family observed a fast and rather enjoyed the scrumptious fare of food items that was prepared in the kitchen. What are your favourite potato dishes?

A hint of bitterness

Fenugreek seed is one of the superfoods in an Indian pantry. As a kid, however, and even today as a grown up 30-year-old, I haven’t developed much liking for it. And so, most of the times, I just remove it aside in my plate when I see it in my curry or Kadi (made with buttermilk). The elders in my family, however, love fenugreek seeds (methi or मेठी as we call). My dad used to try feeding me Methi ki Kadi–that my mum makes especially for him–ever since my childhood days, but I always ran away when he brought a big morsel towards my face.

With age, however, I have started liking the flavour it gives to the Kadi or any other dish, but there’s still a long way to go. Yesterday, my mum made Methi ki Kadi with a side dish called Methi ki Launji (or loon-jee). It’s extremely healthy as it keeps digestion in check and controls inflammation. But there’s more to it. Methi ki Launji is both sweet and tangy in taste, and has a hint of bitterness to it; at least I feel so, unlike my dad. The raisins in it add a soft element to the dish, and it surely gives you a break from the regular vegetable recipes.

Recipe: Methi ki Launji


3/4 cup – fenugreek seeds, salt to taste, oil for tempering, 1/4 cup – raisins (soaked for half an hour), 1.5 tsp coriander powder, 3/4 tsp red chilli powder, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tbsp sugar, 1/2 tsp mango powder, a pinch of cumin seeds and asafoetida.


Boil the fenugreek seeds (my mum simply boiled it for 20 minutes); once done, strain it and keep it aside. Now take a kadai (skillet), add oil (according to your preference), and let it heat up a bit. Add the asafoetida, cumin seeds, turmeric powder and quickly add the boiled fenugreek seeds and the raisins. Now add all the other spices, salt and sugar. Let the fenugreek seeds soak in the spices for about five minutes and switch off the flame. Serve it with a parantha or roti.

I think when I start eating Methi ki Kadi and Methi ki Launji wholeheartedly, my dad would surely be proud of me. For this, according to him, is the good stuff! Make this and tell me how you like it.

Khoka, one of the wonders of Khejri tree

During our summer vacations in Jaiselmer, we kids munched on these Khokha pods and spit its seeds aside. It was something that was done while playing or talking to the cousins. It requires no cooking or washing. Khoka is mostly sweet in taste but not overtly sweet. When the Leeli Sangri (the green pods) grow up on the Khejri tree, they become stiff in texture (when not plucked from the tree) and are called Khoka.

When a bag of Khoka is kept in a room, its sweet fragrance takes over so much so that you can almost find it difficult to bear; but not me! I love it! My Nani got this bag full of Khoka for her eldest son, Deenu (one of my dear Mamas).

The nearby deserts of Jaiselmer enjoy the goodness of Khejri tree; each stage of the tree gives back to its caring keepers. No wonder people worshipped trees back then. And for someone living in the desert, each tree mattered so much!