Thursday, December 29, 2011

My rendevous with ST Xavier's College, Calcutta

Life is a little more beautiful, a little more happy because of some people who come in our lives as angels and tie ribbons of happiness around them. Today has been one such day in my life. It was a break from the monotonous log in and log out from the office. Little did I realize that it would be so much fun and blissful when Brother Chinamoni of ST Xavier’s, Calcutta had invited me to his place a few days ago. This was not the first time though, but somehow it didn’t materialize. Blame it on my procrastination. He had been equally persuasive every time. I was a fool. It became apparent today when I stepped inside the hallmark premises of the prestigious ST Xavier’s college. He walked me through the sprawling corridors and conspicuous dormitories of the heritage building. Holiday season had made it easier.
To begin with, our destination was the third floor where the not so well fathers live. Brother Chinta takes care of the ill fathers.

It’s a nice set up with basic medical equipments to facilitate immediate domiciliary aid for the semi-ambulatory staffs before they are shifted to the major city hospitals. Fr Abello and Fr Mongal Das, who are stably ill longterm, are being taken care of by Brother China, sisters and doctor there only.
As we strolled along the beautiful corridors, through the mellowed orange sun, I tried to delay the moment to breathe and frame it forever. I saw septuagenarian Fr Noel, who has had put in permanent pacemaker recently waving at me. He was looking absolutely fit even with those small fidgety steps. I waved back.

I virtually went into every corner of the college and breathed the historical bricks. The College was founded in 1860 under the leadership of Fr Depelchin. The college campus is located at Park Street, Kolkata. It is now the first and only autonomous college in Calcutta. Bro Chinta, a true Jesuit, told me many stories - the stories of the hardships during pre-novice and novice period. How he spent 18 long days without a penny in his pocket yet never slept without food. He told me about the college, school, plans, projects his family. In between, I got the opportunity to chat with Fr George who has been stationed to Malta recently and not liking it at all. It was great talking to Fr George after so long.

The dining hall is big, just as it was expected, with round, considerable Victorian tables. We self served ourselves. Today’s menu was courtesy Bro Mani whose family is visiting him. The meat was delectable and so was the vegetable. I couldn’t eat all that was served. Bro Mani’s mother made fun of me. Brother Chinta is a small eater - 2 chappatis, one serving of the vegetables, fish and yogurt. He doesn’t eat sweets after he’s been detected with diabetes. He is not on med but maintains a stern lifestyle for he believes in healthy living more than anything else. He’s been doing well whatsoever.

Post lunch was beautiful with the sunset sun, oranges, cakes, tea and snacks, and more stories. We visited the nursery thereafter. The aquarium was small but nicely maintained. I couldn’t meet the 35 year old tortoise. He was happily hiding somewhere. The sun had mellowed down considerably. Having received lots of goodies from Brother, I had to leave St Xavier’s. I bade goodbye to the Rector Father, Fr Gaston Roberge, Fr Saju, Sebastian and a few others. I looked for Fr Noel, but he couldn't be found, neither in the corridors nor in his room.

And as I held the little Buddha statuette - the parting gift from Bro I looked back to have a glance for one last time. I saw Brother Chinta silhouetted against the setting sun, like an angel, against the Jesuits' building. An angel, who made my day so special, made me feel special and gave me much honor and love. I am going to cherish this day forever.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cutting down trees in the name of fire safety code

In a country where the fire department is inadequately equipped and inefficiently administered, it would be sheer foolishness to expect the medical and para medical staffs to perform the strictures of fire norms with finesse. The recent Calcutta AMRI fire opened up a new facet along with the callousness of the civil society. After a series of unhealthy, 'beeped' blaming game, the fire services are now geared up to inspect the top hospitals in the city. They have put forth innumerable points and have given narrow deadlines for the NOCs.

The hospitals have set up appreciable efforts with the trainings and the mock fire drills and to meet the fire codes. The approach roads are too narrow, there is no fire evacuation plan, the buildings do not have even ramps, no proper hose system - all are being taken care off. However, it's dis-heartening to see the people (visitors, patients) laughing at it. The civil society today is more concerned with others shortcomings, failures than theirs.

All said and little done, it feels killing to see the age old, beautiful, shady trees being chopped off in the name of upgradation of fire safety fire norms, and yesterday as I looked through my office window I heard the heart throbbing chirpings of the evening birds as the beautiful trees being cut to death.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chinese noodles with lots of farm fresh veggies and soupy love

As much as I love Chinese food I have developed strange taste buds for all kinds of Chinese variations and extensions. Soya sauce, vinegar, worcestershire sauce, chili sauce, garlic, ginger, onion and lot of farm fresh veggies like carrots, french beans, cauli flower florets, spring onions etc. - prove to be a great platter with metamorphosed Chinese flavor.

Chinese noodles is easy and fast to cook. Dip the beautiful long strands of egg noodles in hot water to make it tender and just rightly soft. Saute the freshly cut vegetables, sprinkle the sauces, add semi boiled shredded chicken, shrimps etc and plate it immediately. Chinese food is cooked even as you eat it. So relish it while eating and allow the flavors to melt into your mouth.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tips to shop on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

BBB (Better Business Bureau) has laid down a detailed memorandum to shop during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday. As I was reading through the guide, I thought it is relevant for anytime shopping. Shopping would be a better experience if we could follow most of the guidelines.The BBB recommends the following tips for shopping online this holiday season to help fight unscrupulous online retailers, scammers and hackers:

Start planning now. Many retail stores are already promoting Black Friday deals in ads and on their websites. Take time to print out or clip ads for items you are interested in buying to help outline your shopping day in advance.

Read the fine print on gift cards. These can be found on the back of the card and will let you know the terms and conditions for using the card. There could be limitations to in-store purchases or exclusions on certain items.

Ask about return policies. While many stores offer a 30-day return policy, it is important to read the terms and conditions associated with each purchase. And remember that the refund policy usually applies to the day you purchase the item not when you give the item as a gift. Be sure to request gift receipts for all gifts.

Ask for gift receipts. When buying gifts, it’s important to obtain and keep receipts for all purchases in case the recipient needs to return an item. Many stores will provide gift receipts upon request, which allow returns but don’t show the recipient how much you paid for an item.

Protect your personal information. Check to see how your information may be used online. When shopping at stores, keep your card out of sight and make sure you get it back and safely in your wallet before you leave the store.

Check the site’s security settings and privacy policy. If the site is secure, its address should start with https://. You also may see a picture of a small closed lock in the lower right hand corner of the screen.

Know the company’s refund and return policies. Are there restocking fees? Do you have to pay shipping costs on returns?

Do not rely on pictures of a product. Read the description and check model numbers, if applicable.

Be cautious of free or low-price offers. Often, free offers are followed by an open-ended enrollment in a program that automatically bills your credit card account. Before ordering anything online, make sure you click on and read all terms and conditions.

Pay with a credit card.If you suspect fraud or don’t receive your order, you can challenge the charge in the event of a dispute.

Obtain a tracking number for shipments. If you need the product before the holidays, find out when the seller intends to ship it and if possible, how it will be shipped.

Print out the order. Make sure you have the documentation page for online orders and save it until the order arrives.

Be aware of phishing. Don’t respond to emails that ask for your credit card or bank account number or other personal information. Legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming there is a problem with an order or account to lure you into revealing financial information.

(C): BBB

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Soy Sauce Eggs: Easiest, fastest and yummiest eggs you have ever tasted!

Mahogany eggs dipped in luscious soy sauce - have you ever tasted something like that? If not yet just save yourself 7 minutes before your pack your lunch box for the next day and see how sumptuously you are served for the day. Besides, the taste is uncompromising. Soy sauce eggs are wonderful as snacks because they don’t need any additional seasoning.

Use super quality authentic soy sauce, which is darker in appearance and richer in flavor than regular soy sauce. One trick to note–when peeling your hard boiled eggs, peel carefully, trying to avoid nicking the surface of the egg whites. If you do nick the surface, the eggs will still taste delicious, but they just won’t be as pretty.

You will need:

Hard boiled eggs
Authentic soy sauce


Pour the soy sauce into a pan and heat it on slow flame. When the soy sauce starts foaming up, add the eggs. Roll the eggs around in the soy sauce to coat them, and continue rolling them around the pan until the eggs are a dark mohagony color and the soy sauce has been reduced to a thick sludge.

Remove the eggs, letting any extra soy sauce drain off, and place on a plate to cool.

And you are done with nice pretty and healthy mahogany eggs!

Learned from Malaysia Rasa.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Decoding Milk for kids by Wendy Donahue

Q: Why milk is important for children?

A: It contains so many nutrients that children need to grow. Calcium is obvious, but milk is also high in potassium — it has more than bananas — phosphorus, protein, vitamins like B12 and D and magnesium.

Q: What is the right milk for what age?

A: Birth to age 1 is breast milk or formula. Age 1 to 2 is the only time that whole milk is necessary; the fat content is needed for the brain when it's developing rapidly.

Q: If fat helps a brain develop, would it make sense to give a child higher-fat milk if obesity isn't a problem?

A: It's better to choose plant-based sources of fat or low fat milk. Try to get fats from olive oil, avocados and peanut butter rather than saturated fat from animal products, ice cream, butter and cream.

Q: Some older kids aren't getting enough milk?

A: The recommended amounts are 3 cups over age 9, 2 cups for ages 2 to 3. Kids aren't getting enough potassium, calcium and magnesium. Two ways the teens get to drink milk are in smoothies and yogurt parfaits, with low-fat granola and fresh fruit.

Q: Do we reduce liquid milk in their diet if they eat a lot of yogurt and cheese?

A: The trick with yogurt is you have to look at the nutrition label. If the calcium and vitamin D are equivalent to a cup of milk, go for it. But some have a lot of gelatin, which means less calcium, and some have added sugars or artificial sweeteners.

Q: Milk also has sugar. Is it good sugar?

A: Unfortunately the sugar grams on labels do not differentiate between added sugar and natural sugar, or lactose.

Q: What are the best substitutes for cow's milk?

A: For some ethnic groups that do not digest lactose well, there are lactose-free milks. Soy milk is very similar to cow's milk in the calcium content, because they add it.


Friday, November 11, 2011

The easiest snack to prepare: Healthy and spicy chickpea salad

This dish is surprisingly good and easy to prepare considering that the ingredients are so simple and easily available. Cooked Chickpea salad is very healthy and makes an excellent item to snack on. It also makes a nice accompaniment to many major dishes.

What you will need

teaspoons olive oil (any other oil will do)

diced onions, freshly chopped green chili and coriander leaves

turmeric, whole cumin

par-boiled chickpeas, drained and rinsed

lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

How to make

1. Heat a sauté pan large enough to easily hold the beans over medium heat. Add oil to heat, then add the onion and sauté until transparent.

2. Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander and pepper and continue to sauté until the spices are aromatic and a bit toasted, about 3 minutes.

3. Add the chickpeas, lemon juice, salt and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes to blend the flavors.

4. Serve with freshly chopped green chilies and coriander leaves.

Photo credit: NYTimes

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Surprise your guests with delicious Fish ball curry (Machher Kofta)

Koftas are essentially meatballs with lot of interesting Indian spices. There have been several innovations on the ingredients, shapes, texture etc. on the making of koftas. The most exciting of these possibly is the intrusion of vegetables which replaced the minced meat. A vast population of India eat vegetables and the meat is happily replaced by various seasonal vegetables to make delectable koftas. This is certainly a smart culinary move since that managed to include the whole veggie populace in no time.

Koftas are delicious. This is particularly so in India. You may have seen Malai Kofta on the menu at your local restaurant served in rich creamy gravy. In other regions Koftas are served steamed, poached and grilled on skewers.

Last week, when my mother bought bhetki fish, I literally snapped at her. Oh no, not again! The fish, mostly over hyped, doesn't seem to have any taste of its own. My mother knows this and to calm me off came up with this recipe. Later, in the evening, I was awed by the delicacy. I thanked her and she gave me a signature look that only we, three sisters, would understand. To others it is undefined and to us it is our mom.

For the preparation, she par boiled the fish and took out the bones and separated the skin. Added flavorings such as onions cubes, parsley twigs, garlic paste, pepper powder and the boneless fish are mixed with lentil flour for tightening the mix. You can mix with soaked bread, rice powder, egg whites or any other binding agent also.

She then deep fried the fish balls in refined oil to make perfect golden brown snackie fish balls. For the gravy,  in a wok she heated white oil and sprinkled whole garam masala, bay leaves, onion ginger and garlic paste. She added red chili powder, salt and turmeric powder and continued to stir in slow heat till the oil starts to leave the wok. She then added the fish balls/ koftas, added little warm water and cooked till the gravy thickens to a nice spicy red gravy.

She served the fish kofta with gravy with steamed basmati rice and lots of love.


The fried fish balls can also be served on mini skewers and served as snacks and appetizers. Koftas can also be an exciting addition to alfresco dining and the perfect finger food complemented with yogurt dip.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Make this Diwali more special with home made besan ka ladoo

Ladoo. One word speaks enormously of its implications on Indian food and culture. A small rounded ball loaded with goodies (read calories) is conspicuously significant in our lives. No Diwali is complete without ladoos. It is of special significance and is considered auspicious. Though ladoo is of various types- the motichoor ha laddo, sounth ka ladoo, aate ka ladoo, til ki ladoo, dal ka ladoo, nariel ka laddo, the most loved and relishing of them is the ‘ Besan Ka Ladoo’. Here is the easy to make recipe and this Diwali you must try your hands at it.

Heat ghee in a non-stick pan or thick bottomed wok. Add the gram flour and fry it on a low flame stirring continuously till it turns golden brown.Once it is browned, let it cool. Add powdered cardamom and sugar. Add chopped almonds and raisins and more goodies to suit your taste buds. Shape into ladoos and serve.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sugary Coconut laddus (narkel naru, nariel ka ladu) - A must for festivals in Bengal

The festive fervor never dies here in Bengal and so does the food. The pujas has just passed. The remains of pandal structures almost cleared by the infamous KMC, the festive newness still lingering and will soon usher in the Kali puja with eye catching lights and crackers. It is around the same time, in fact the same day that we will celebrate Diwali - the festival of lights as well. The fervor of Durga puja never dies. it merges with another festival to yet another festival. The festive circle continues and before realizing it's puja time again.

The puja time is beautiful with all its customs, rituals and magnanimity. Food, perhaps, is one of the factors that makes it more alluring. Bengalis are known for their way with the food, and today I will share an age old Bengali custom festival food. It's called 'nadu', 'naru' in our part of the country. It's actually coconut laddus where variant proportion of grated coconut, sugar, jaggery are being mixed to give a lovely texture and taste.

Some use only sugar, which makes it white and some jaggery, which makes it dark brown and some mix both to attain a different texture.

First you have to grate the coconuts finely. Mix it with sugar/ jaggery and stir is continuously in a thick bottomed wok on slow flame. Keep stirring till you attain a sticky texture. Remove from flame and quickly make round circles by moving portions of the mixture between your palms.

Making 'narus' are not as simple as it sounds. You have to be careful to shape off the coconut mixture while the thing is still hot. Be careful not to burn your hands. The nicely shaped 'narus' look beautiful and they taste really good. Go ahead and try it out and keep me updated.

Photo copyright: Mimpi

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mutton Rogan Josh: Hot, spicy, irresistible kashmiri delight

Mutton Rogan Josh tastes as good as it looks. The lovely red hot spicy juice smears the tender mutton to make it the yummiest thing on earth. If you are counting on your calories then I would advise you to go through a serious lifestyle regime afterwards instead of resisting the temptation of not eating one of the world's best food.

Preparing the dish is simple too. Mix mutton with curd and little salt, and keep aside. Heat oil/ ghee in a pan and put whole garam masala, when they start to crackle, put chopped onions and fry till golden brown. Add ginger-garlic paste and fry again for two minutes. Add all the masala powder and fry till oil comes up.

Add mutton with marinade and stir fry on a high flame for 2 minutes. Now add water and salt and cook with closed lid till meat is tender and gravy is medium thick in consistency.

Add cream and saffrom dipped in milk, and stir well and cook for another 3 minutes. Garnish with chopped coriander. This best goes with basmati rice, pulao or tandoori/ rumali roti.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tomas Transtromer: Metaphysical visionary poet wins Nobel

Tomas Transtromer, the Swedish poet, sometimes oblivious and sometimes real and powerful, won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature for 2011. Even though well known in Sweden (and a strong contender for the prize for many years now) his works have been published in English, the poet is not on the known list for the poetry readers. Currently, I have the opportunity to read through a few of his poems. The nature transcends beautifully into the real world with a distinctive theme of isolation and togetherness. His poetry is universal and he lives poetry.

Mr. Transtromer, 80, has written more than 15 collections of poetry, many of which have been translated into English and 60 other languages.

“His poetry is both universal and particular, it’s complex but very direct at the same time. He’s worked for much of his life as a psychologist, and the work is characterized by very strong psychological insight into humanity.”

Two Cities

There is a stretch of water, a city on each sideÐ
one of them utterly dark, where enemies live.
Lamps are burning in the other.
The well-lit shore hypnotizes the dark shore.

I swim out in a trance
on the glittering dark water.
A steady note of a tuba comes in.
It's a friend's voice: "Take up your grave and walk."


The man on a walk suddenly meets the old
giant oak like an elk turned to stone with
its enormous antlers against the dark green castle wall
of the fall ocean.

Storm from the north. It's nearly time for the
rowanberries to ripen. Awake in the night he
hears the constellations far above the oak
stamping in their stalls.

The Half-Finished Heaven

Cowardice breaks off on its path.
Anguish breaks off on its path.
The vulture breaks off in its flight.

The eager light runs into the open,
even the ghosts take a drink.

And our paintings see the air,
red beasts of the ice-age studios.

Everything starts to look around.
We go out in the sun by hundreds.

Every person is a half-open door
leading to a room for everyone.

The endless field under us.
Water glitters between the trees.
The lake is a window into the earth.

(C) Tomas Transtromer

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

3 negative experiences on Facebook and the effects

More and more kids and teens are spending time on social networking sites. Facebook is no.1 on the list of priority. Facebook and other social networking sites are great to revive, maintain and extend relationships. It just takes clicks to connect to your childhood friends or tether to new found friends. As much as Facebook is known to renew relationship its also a major tool in shattering relationship. A research shows that the more time kids and teens spent on Facebook, the more likely they were to suffer from ailments like personality disorder, paranoia, anxiety and alcohol use.

According to a new study, the three most-common negative experiences are:

Ignoring or denying "friend" requests
Deleting public messages
Seeing a 'Top Friends list' on which one doesn't appear or is ranked lower than expected

All three of the major negative experiences are ones that can be found only in the world of social networking. In real life, one does not walk up to another person and ask to "friend" him or her. Experience in social interactions in the real world often doesn't translate to the virtual world. Even the word "friend" means vastly different things to different people in the social networking world.

In such scenario, ending up having a shattered relationships have far fetched implications. Children, teens and even grownups get so involved that they do not know where to draw the line. Virtual friendship is healthy as long as you know the limitations of it. Many use social networking sites as important business tool marketing their products. it's but obvious that those people befriend with a purpose on mind. Without being judgmental, we should be mature enough to understand the limitations of the social networking sites. Ending up with broken hearts is the last thing we would want, both online or offline.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Roadside Masala Chai as good as Saffron Tea

Everyday I see a man sipping steaming hot tea on the roadside stall. The bus in which I travel invariably stops there and I contemplate the moment as much as the man does. The tea is served in semi wet earthen pot. Lots of milk, lots of sugar and lots of love in no specific order and you are served with the cheapest yet the most recharging of roadside teas. The stall man is eternally old. Ever since I have seen him he has been like that - frail, half-bent in tattered clothes and eternally happy. His defunct glasses, among many, are the first thing that would catch your attention.

He literally boils the milk, sugar and little dust tea in a tumbler that's never been washed off the stains. The boiling continues as the office goers and the morning walkers gather to the lovely aroma of the secret masala that the man never shares. The flavor is somewhat gingerish, cardamomish and something more and something different. The passengers are glued to the shop till the signal turns green when they are forced to take their eyes off the morning saga.

And as I watch the man and his insipid tea stall, I am reminded of the saffron tea, expensive and exquisite, that I had on one of the five star tea joints, many years back.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

We felt the tremors, the shudders of the earthquake !

Magnitude 6.9 - SIKKIM, INDIA

Never felt the quaking effect before. It was weird, funny and scary! It must be 6-15 pmish when I felt the tremor while still on bed with a book. The pages fluffed and fluttered and fell off my hands as if my fingers have gotten numb. The bed started to move to and fro. In the beginning I thought someone has gotten under the bed and trying to push it upwards. But soon, it was moving to and fro.This continued for about 2-3 seconds but I chose to say nothing. Have had a bad experience before when friends nullified my perception of the tremor. So kept mum.

After a while, I got up from the bed and called my mom, who was reading the newspaper the next door. She also felt it. But she thought it was her physiological changes. She even planned to see the doctor the next day. But when I told her what happened she was relieved and knew that it was the earthquake. Father was watching the TV on the 2nd floor. He attributed the tremor to his hypertensive bouts until he found out from the TV channels.

Later we found out, that the earthquake was of medium intensity and was felt strongly in northern India. It was terrifying to look at the extensive breaking pictures in the TV. The shakes, flutters, tremors, the cracks and even deaths - it was terrifying. It was 6.8 on the richter scale.

"Earthquake prediction is called the Holy Grail of earthquake science, and has been considered impossible by many scientists", however recent technology has possibilities of tracking seismographic changes. We will know in the future, sometime, an earthquake is going to occur. Awaiting that day.

Just hope the earthquake ends with the two bouts that we already have experienced. Just hope people are safe with little damages before the pujas.

Everybody be fine and stay safe.

Magnitude 6.9 - SIKKIM, INDIA

Monday, August 8, 2011

Luchi and kosha mangsho: every bengali's favorite guilt food

Luchi and kosha mangsha is something that every bengali would love to indulge in, especially today when the health regime being taken care of in almost every household. Let's face it. However delectable this dish is, it comes with associated calorie hazards. But, I do not mind indulging in it once in a while.

After all, we only get to enjoy it once in a blue moon. Perhaps the reason why it's more craved.

Luchi is much similar to puris and kosha mangsho is the most spicy, hot, red and gourmet's delight. It is the mutton/ lamb cooked with typical Indian spices like cumin, coriander, red chili, turmeric, garlic, onion, ginger, garam masala. Be generous with the spices and the grease (oil, ghee). More the better. Forget the calories, forget the health meter, eat it guilt free.

Image credit: Wordpress Bong Bong

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Uttam Kumar continues to exude the same hypnotic charm..

After watching “Nayak” in London, actor Elizabeth Taylor is supposed to have expressed her desire to meet and work with a versatile and effortless actor such as Uttam Kumar. Perhaps the greatest tribute Uttam Kumar received, Ray said after his early demise: 

I recently watched ‘Nayak' on Doordarshan. I admit there are flaws in my direction, but none in Uttam Kumar's performance. He is the most professional and equipped actor I worked with, after Chabi Biswas and Pahari Sanyal.”

Above is a picture of Uttam Kumar shot by Satyajit Ray in italy.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Chhole Bhature: A veggie delight

Chhole Bhature is a popular North Indian dish. The dish supposed to have been originated in the state of Punjab and is known throughout the country for its delicious, spicy distinctive flavour. There are several variants of the recipe though. However, the basic ingredients remain the same.


The maida (refined flour) has to be kneaded well with lot of beaten yogurt, little salt and sodium bicarbonate. It is then needed to be set aside overnight for the best result. Then the kneaded dough is divided into small portions which then have to be rolled into small circles like puris. Then they are to be deep fried and served hot with chhole.


Boil the Chana (chick pea) till tender. Heat oil in a kadai, add cumin seeds and mustard seeds and let them crackle. Add grated onion and saute till golden brown. Add Ginger garlic paste and saute for another minute. Add tomato puree, coriander-cumin powders, chhole masala or garam masala, chilli powder, salt and turmeric powder. Saute till all the moisture is absorbed. Add tamarind paste and sugar, and saute for another minute. Add the boiled chana along with water and mix. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with hot bhature and green chili and onion rings.

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Prepare Bengali garam masala at home

Friday, July 15, 2011

The July Hiatus: Hardest of all

I get highly disconcerted by the online hiatuses. But at times, we do not but have any choice. The July hiatus ended up in a sad tone inspite of all the fun time I had. With lot of work pressure, unwinding schedule and a lazy body that needed to relax every now and then, I was sort of composed and delivered my best.

So, how well was I? Well, not so bad. Work is good, better is the complacency of the productivity. Nothing like being done with your job in time and well. The accolades are the incentives.

This hiatus, however, will hold a heavy feeling forever, for always. Nothing could reverse the heavy heart when long associations are being cut short, unprecedented. It was a unanimous decision though and for the better. Three of our very old and good friends left the organization for better opportunities. They deserve the best and I wish them success and best of luck in life. I know we will meet up, hang out and continue to have the fun, but still it’s not going to be the same. Lunch time would be not the same without them. Neither would the impromptu parties, pizza breaks, the fun faces...

The July hiatus was the hardest of all.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

You are beautiful!

Look within to see the inner self. You were never hopeless or helpless. Wake up, find a reason, follow your heart and get going. Love yourself more than ever. You are beautiful!

Photo credit: webMD

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Leafy Fish Mustard Fry: A delight for the fish lovers

Some days you just don't feel like eating the usual food. You want something interesting, different, filling yet healthy. Yesterday was one such day. Something different, something new, experimental was the need of the hour. So, my mom tried something new for the night. She prepared Leafy Fish Mustard Delight. This is nothing but small fish stuffed in gourd leaves, dipped in mustard, rice and gram flour paste.

How she thought of the recipe

She sorted and cleaned the leafy vegetables which you would always find in our house. We also never run short of fish in house. Mom selectively took the small fishes and mixed it with onion cut into small rings, chopped garlic and chopped green chili. She then poured mustard oil, salt for seasoning.

Stuffing the fish

She then placed the seasoned fish stuff in the middle of the leaf, folded it from all the sides and locked it with toothpicks nicely.

Making the batter

She mixed mustard paste, rice powder and little gram flour with a pinch of salt and sugar and water to make a nice thick batter.


She dipped each patty into the batter and fried it in oil. I prefer shallow frying so she did that.


The Leafy Fish Mustard Delight goes best with freshly cooked boiled rice. It should be eaten hot and fresh to get the best of it.

You will feel the individual flavors of the ingredients with each bite. And if you are a fish lover you will just love it and want more.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bengali Kalo Jams: sweet dark balls soaked in sugar syrup

Kalo-jams (bengali term) are dark colored, almost black, sweet balls, soaked in sugar syrup. They are a little larger and darker in color than the Gulab Jamuns. It is a hot favorite with the Bengalis who are known to have sweet tooth.


Khoya or Mawa

Paneer or Indian Cottage cheese

White flour or maida

White oil or ghee for deep frying

The sugar syrup should be prepared the usual way. Add 1/2 tsp of green cardamom powder, 1 tsp. rose water or a few drops of rose essence, or a few strands of saffron (optional).

Making the kalo-jams

Grate and mash mawa and paneer solids into a bowl.

Add flour and make a smooth and soft dough. Knead it well.

Make about 1- 1 1/2 inch balls and then shape them into round shapes, by rolling between your palms.

Heat oil to low-medium hot, not smoking hot or the kalo-jams will burn very quickly.

Fry kalo-jams in small batches, until they are dark brown in color.

Dip immediately in warm syrup. They will absorb syrup and enlarge in size but remain floating in syrup. They roughly double in size after they are soaked in syrup.

Serve at room temperature.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Super fast Egg Omelet:: what else do you want!

One food that I just cannot get enough of is egg. I invariably like any preparation that has eggs in it as major ingredient. So, it goes without saying that omelets are my all time favorites. They are not only
easy to prepare but also has varied mix and match recipes catering to your taste buds and kitchen ingredients.

It would be interesting to trace the origin and metamorphoses, however, today I will stick to only one omelet recipe that makes me a complete person even amidst the surrounding incompleteness. And if you forget the rhetoric, egg makes contribution to a healthy diet as well.


3 eggs, separated

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

Freshly chopped green coriander leaves, onions, chilies (optional)

Tomatoes, capsicum cubed (optional)

1 tablespoon butter/ white oil

1/4 cup shredded cheese (optional)


In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, salt, pepper, and other ingredients.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy. Gently blend the whites into the yolk mixture.

Add the chopped coriander leaves and onion cubes.

Melt the butter/oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the egg mixture and cook, without stirring, until the eggs begin to set but are still slightly runny in the center.

Sprinkle the cheese. (optional)

Fold the omelet over, forming a half-moon slowly. Cook until set.

Serve hot.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

What to ask Your Doctor before Coronary Angiogram?

Coronary angiogram is a complex yet arty procedure where the cardiologist dexterously inserts a narrow tube called catheter through the femoral/ radial artery with plastic introducer sheath. The catheter is guided through the artery into the heart and then dye is injected into the artery. The dye flows through the artery to the heart and stops or goes slow at the clogs in the heart arteries. The percentage of block is asserted by the cardiologists. This whole process is monitored through a highly defined x-ray machine managed by specialized technicians. As much as it sounds easy, coronary angiogram has immense risks attached if not performed by specialized team.

This article will give you insight into the urgency of the procedure or if at all you require it or if you will benefit from it or not

How important or necessary is this test for diagnosis?

Angiography is an important procedure that confirms the ailment. It's just an invasive diagnostic that help the doctors decide on the treatment thereafter. The urgency and the immediate need of the procedure can only be decided by the consultants, who will be knowing the degree and the importance of the procedure.

When is it done?

Doctors recommend angiography when you are symptomatic of pain in your chest, jaw, neck or arm (that can't be explained by other tests), unstable angina, a heart defect you were born with, a heart valve problem that requires surgery.

What to keep in mind before angiogram?

If you:

Are allergic to iodine dye used in the test
Have ever had a serious allergic reaction
Have asthma
Are allergic to any medicines
Have any bleeding problems or are taking blood-thinning medicines
Have a history of kidney problems or chronic diabetes

What will happen during the procedure?

During a coronary angiogram, a type of dye that's visible by X-ray machine is injected into the blood vessels of your heart. The x-ray machine rapidly takes a series of images (angiograms), giving a detailed look at the inside of your blood vessels and the heart.

What are the risks?

Most of the times, major complications are rare. However, potential risks and complications include: heart attack, stroke, injury to the catheterized artery, irregular heart rhythms, allergic reactions to the dye or medications used during the procedure, kidney damage, excessive bleeding, infection, blood clots, radiation exposure from the X-rays

What does it reveal?

An angiogram show doctors what's wrong with your blood vessels. It can:

Show how many of your coronary arteries are blocked or narrowed
Locate the blockages in your blood vessels
Show how much blood flow is blocked through your blood vessels
Check the results of previous coronary bypass surgery or stenting
Check the blood flow through your heart and blood vessels
Check the size and movement of the heart valves

Based on the results, your cardiologist decides on the treatment from which you would be optimally benefited. For instance, that you would benefit from having coronary angioplasty, bypass surgery, valve replacement or just medical management.

Monday, May 2, 2011

OSAMA BIN LADEN DEAD: Some important questions to ponder upon

After decade long search for the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Centers in New York City, Osama Bin Laden is dead. US National Security Team discovered a lead on bin Laden’s whereabouts in August 2010.

Several months of investigations to follow-up on these leads finally led to ‘actionable’ evidence that bin Laden was living in a Pakistani mansion just outside of Islamabad in a city called Abbottabad. It is located in the northeast part of the country, just 75 or so miles from the seat of government in Islamabad.

A strike was authorized by President Obama on April 29, 2011. Reports state that bin Laden was shot at least once in the head. It is believed the operation was carried out by The Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). JSOC is a component command of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and is charged to study special operations requirements and techniques to ensure interoperability and equipment standardization, plan and conduct special operations exercises and training, and develop Joint Special Operations Tactics.

It is also known that the leaders of the Pakistani government were not informed about this mission until after the attack. The President Obama gave an order without informing the Pakistan about his intention. This was due to a suspected informant or informants inside of the Pakistani government leaking information to bin Laden.

Senior White House Officials said that Bin Laden was hiding in a custom compound built in 2005 located on a secure land, 12-18 foot barbed wire walls, and two security gates. The total property value is 1 million dollars. Osama was living there with a few family members and his youngest wife. It was actually a mansion compared to the expected hiding in a cave similar to the finding of Saddam Hussein. It is also believed that bin Laden had no phone or Internet running into the house to secure the best hiding possible.

Three adult males were also killed in Sunday’s raid, including one of bin Laden’s sons, whom officials did not name. One of bin Laden’s sons, Hamza, is a senior member of al-Qaida.


Now, Osama's death shoots up a few queries:

1) How to cudgel the al Qaida legacy? The battle is won but not the war. How will be the demolition of Al qaida possible?

2) How will now Pakistan stand clean? How come Pakistan did not know about the whereabouts of Osama when it was right in the heart of the military residences, right under the nose of the urban Pakistan?

3) What will be the strategic political development between US and Pakistan? Reportedly, US was suspecting informant or informants inside of the Pakistani government leaking information to bin Laden and did not keep them in confidence.

4) How safe are really we are?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

You can actually earn money from your YouTube account!

View YouTube videos and get paid for it!! Yes, that's what does for you! Here you just view YouTube Videos and it is quite easy actually.

1) Open an YouTube account, if you don't have one yet.

2) Signup with

3) Click a video and view to earn money.

4) Refer to friends and earn even more.

You will get paid $0.005 for each video you personally view, $0.10 for each comment you leave, and $0.15 for each subscription you make. You'll also get paid $0.001 for each video your referrals view, $0.01 for each comment your referrals leave, and $0.05 for each subscription your referrals make. Payment requests can be made every day and are processed through PayPal. The minimum payout is $10.00.

Signup by clicking here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The much deserved french toast: Eat it guilt free!

Today was one of those days when you do not plan things, things are planned for you. A very long day in the hospital with patients pouring in just from everywhere. All of them want to barge in at the same time little realizing that there is a 'taking prior appointment' thing. Later in the evening, when you manage to sneak into your inbox, you get the message (delivered in the morn) that your sister has been hospitalized, and you realize that your day has just gone from bad to worse.

You come back home winding up just about, spending hours on the semi-empty road plastered in political festoons which hammer, non vocal, yet again, that tomorrow is the D-day. A change is bound to happen this time after 35 years of communist rule. That's for destiny to decide, you need not bother.

You enter home to mom's grim face who gets the news of my sister. She was not supposed to until the OT was over. Anyway, the phone rings to some good news after all. Sister is in the recovery, still awaiting relief from the anesthetic numbness. What a relief! All of a sudden you realize that you have not eaten and you are dog hungry!

Handing over the phone from BIL to mom, you rush in to the kitchen. The pangs of hunger make you slouch now. You see some bread slices, butter, honey, condensed milk. Without even reconsidering you toy with the ingredients. And voila! You just make yourself some delicious, glutenous and devouring french toast which you deserve. Now, it's time you ate it guilt free!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Five brown eggs and Happy Easter

Five Brown Eggs

Five brown eggs in a nest of hay,
One yellow chick popped out to play.
Four brown eggs in a nest of hay,
Another yellow chick cheep-cheeped Good day.
Three brown eggs in a nest of hay,
Crack went another one, Hip hooray.
Two brown eggs in a nest of hay,
One more chick pecked his shell away.
One brown egg in a nest of hay,
The last yellow chick popped out to say,
Happy Easter!

Poem (C): .nurseryrhymes4u

Photo (C): MouD

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How to keep your germs to yourself

Pathogenic germs are there everywhere, all around us, in the environment. The so called filthy, dirty places are the hub of germs and deadly infectious diseases – this we all know but it’s the clean and supposedly germ free places that should be our concern. For instance your dinner plate can have millions of germs thriving on it. Or the sparkling clean floors, walls, your kitchen? All could be the thriving place for tiny warmongers. You never know!
There are various ways by which you can keep yourself germs free – both preventive and curative. Beside, vaccinations and inoculation, which are the popular ways, antibiotics impede the growth of germs by killing their growth and spreading all over the organs. Our personal hygiene and the consciousness of a cleaner environment add to the germs free and disease free life. It’s also important that you know the priority of keeping the germs to yourself. Here is how:
How to keep your germs to yourself
Cover your nose and mouth while sneezing, coughing, blowing nose.
Discard used tissues in the trash immediately. Cover the trash bin.
Wash your hands after sneezing, blowing your nose or coughing.
Use warm water and soap or alcohol base gel, sanitizers, disposable wipes to wash your hands.
Try to stay at home since that not only helps you recover fast but also helps the environment from spreading the contagious germs.
See a doctor and abide by his prescription. Take rest.
If asked, use face mask.
This doesn’t take much, does it? So, make sure you do your best to keep your environment germs free and the people safe. Happy living safe and healthy!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Self Medication: How safe is it?

Popping pills without prescription: How safe is it?

Self medication is the practice of talking medicines, mostly for generalized symptoms, for oneself without consulting the specialist. In India we are privileged with the right to buy medicines over-the-counter (OTC). However, many forget where to draw the line, and go ahead buying medicines for illnesses that might get them to trouble later in life.

OTC drugs have certainly made life easier for average Indians. However, the same could lead us to irreversible health damages. It’s a common practice to buy anti-fungal creams, analgesics, sunscreens, anti-dandruff shampoos, which are also considered as OTC drugs. We all do that. These are common dermatologically proven health products that hardly get us into reverse medical conditions.

Some even go over the board buying Aspirin, Paracetamols, Vitamin tablets, expectorant and non-expectorant syrups. Buying these does not harm us as much as taking the wrong dosage does. We do not have the medical expertise to decide for the correct dosage. There are so many factors associated with the taking in of the medicines. The prevalent medical conditions of a patient should be taken into account first and foremost. Some people increase the dose without consulting; assuming that two pills would make them feel better than one and so on. They go onto share these tips with family members and friends and influence them as well. Lack of knowledge could be fatal and what seems like a harmless thing could easily lead to disaster.

Self medication is the practice of talking medicines, mostly for generalized symptoms, for oneself without consulting the specialist. In India we are privileged with the right to buy medicines over-the-counter (OTC). However, many forget where to draw the line, and go ahead buying medicines for illnesses that might get them to trouble later in life.

OTC drugs have certainly made life easier for average Indians. However, the same could lead us to irreversible health damages. It’s a common practice to buy anti-fungal creams, analgesics, sunscreens, antidandruff shampoos, which are also considered as OTC drugs. We all do that. These are common dermatologically proven health products that hardly get us into reverse medical conditions.

How safe are Vitamins?

Self medication even while taking vitamins is a big NO. Millions of people who are popping in vitamins are risking their lives to various ailments. Malignant melanoma is now proven to be one of them. Even the water soluble vitamins could lead to dire medical conditions like kidney stone, liver damage, muscle cramps, diarrhoea.

Some do’s and donot’s

Consult your doctor before taking self medication, if you are not sure
Read the warnings and instructions to avoid the possible cross reactions
Get you closet clean of expired medicines
Take the medicines when prescribed
Never share or decide medicines for others
Do your bit of research and know what you are taking
Be a smart citizen, know your life

It is always better to take the natural food supplements like farm fresh vegetables, fruits, cereals, milk, hand made bread, dry fruits. Going back to nature and going back to minimalism makes living safer and healthier.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Homeschooling in India

When Pali came back from the US, deserted and heart broken, she had only solace in her eight year son Ved. Pali was fighting her battle with the family for a few years and finally terminated her relation with Rishi’s father for life. It wasn’t easy for her but what became more difficult is to ensure a good future for her child. India has grown since she had left after her marriage. People are more open, more accepting and more vocal. It seemed, it wouldn’t be difficult for Pali to live single in the small flat that she had inherited from her parents. The challenge came when she had to look for the schools for her son. No school was readily accepting the child who came in between the session. A countable few who did wanted a huge donation. After days of pleading every possible school she knew of, Pali decided to take it no more.

Homeschooling is a common concept in the US. With so many resources, and community support you are never alone if you are homeschooling your child. In India, it might sound a new concept but who can forget the likes of Rabindranath Tagore and Shri Aurobindo who were homeschooled and propagated the true concept of homeschooling!

Pali decided to homeschool her son. She had had a Montessori training after she got her degree in Major. Even though, that would mean nothing, but she decided to pull up her socks to go about the bestpossible ways to educate her son with the best kind of resources while still at home. She had a few basics to be answered before that though.

How it works in India?

There is no separate syllabus for homeschooling children. The parents solely decide on that. Some follow regular board syllabus and others design their own curriculum by referring to syllabi of different boards.

In 2009, a new education law was passed that mandated compulsory school attendance. This law (Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009 – RTE) did not address home education options, or alternative forms of education. The RTE was designed to assure that the poor children would not be deprived of an education. But at the same time it did not intent to force school attendance when parents want to homeschool their children.

Can a homeschooler join regular classes ever?

On reaching Class 10, or whenever the parents feel their children are ready, can take the board exam privately by registering with the National Institute of Open Schooling or International General Certificate of Secondary Education. The degree is acceptable all over the world.

What about the expenses?

The cost of homeschooling varies on what and how the child learns. At times it may exceed the expense of regular schools. Apart from routine requirements like books, CDs, learning and fun kits, one also needs to pay for extra classes as and when required.
After getting into it, Pali had only one area of concern – Rishi’s social networking skills. So, she decided to join the homeschoolers community both online and offline. She also got her son enrolled for the guitar classes, something he had great interest in. She decided to work harder and worked on the possible flaws of the board curriculum that crammed the children. She went for her own that was more stretchable, practical oriented and fun to learn.
And, Pali never looked back after that.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Tribute to Bob Dylan

Not a day goes by without hearing or remembering at least one of his songs. Bob Dylan, one of the most successful artist and songwriter of the century, has had an overwhelming presence on me. Innumerable hits over the past forty years and his songs are still so relevant and popular.

Bob Dylan's lyrics can't be beaten. The phrasings are subtly beautiful and still pertinent today. It isn't just the songs and the performance – he is clearly somebody who has a real sense of purpose and conviction. He stood up for the cause he believed in and this got him turned into the "voice of a generation".

As I got older I became more interested in Dylan's mythology. Dylan's magnaminous mythology is a matter of perspective that changes over the years, as you grow, as you become wiser. You get to discover this fascinating human every day in a new way. He is an endless mystery.

How else would you explain the phrasing of 'Blowing' in the wind..."!!

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, 'n' how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

How many years can a mountain exist
Before it's washed to the sea?
Yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head,
Pretending he just doesn't see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

(C) Bob Dylan

Photo Credit: DG

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bunions and Heel Spur: Two painful feet conditions

The two terrible feet conditions that people often suffer from are heel spur and bunions. Both are inexpressibly painful and are persistent so much so that it becomes hard to get rid of them. 

Calcaneal spur, commonly known as heel spur, is the in-growth of the calcaneal (heel bone) mostly due to deposit of calcium. Bunion is a foot condition where the big toe bends towards the second toe forming a sharp bony prominence. Pains, from mild to severe, are caused by the inflammation and the bone pressing against the shoe.  Bunions are more common in women and are caused by a number of reasons, including wearing shoes that are too tight, years of abnormal motion, poor foot mechanics, bone deformities, flat feet and arthritis. However, common to both feet conditions are our body weight. Obese people are more prone and it’s generally reported that being overweight is an aggravating factor.

 Symptoms of heel spur:
Excessive continuing pain on putting your heel flat
On slow and less walking it decreases temporarily
On fast walking, jumping, carrying weights the pain increases


Stretching exercises
Losing body weight
Wearing shoes that have cushions, heel cradle and heel cup all over and absorb shocks
R.I.C.E therapy

Symptoms of bunions:

Moderate to severe pain on walking
Bony growth of the big toe
Big toe bent towards the other toes
Both feet usually affected


Choose shoes with roomy toe box, cushioned cradle and padding all over to accommodate the bony prominence.
Losing body weight
R.I.C.E therapy
Surgery is an option when conservative treatment fails and you have chronic pains.

What is  RICE-(M)?

R – Relative Rest
I – Ice
C – Compression
E – Elevation
M – Motion

Thursday, January 13, 2011

When you goof up with your words

Jack, my friend in another forum, had written about foot-in-the-mouth disease where people, as a matter of fact all of us, goof up with words. However, it isn't a headline when I mess up with words. But when famous people do they certainly cannot undo it! It gets written in the pages of history. Here are some infamous quotes from famous people:

"Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life." -- Brooke Shields, during an interview to become spokesperson for a federal anti-smoking campaign.

"I've never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body," -- Winston Bennett, University of Kentucky basketball forward.

This one is senseless:

"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air & water that are doing it." -- Al Gore, Vice President

And this one, very gross:

"We don't necessarily discriminate. We simply exclude certain types of people." -- Colonel Gerald Wellman, ROTC Instructor.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Why I Admire Sachin Tendulkar

We all are aware of the legendary feat of Sachin Tendulkar. He has enthralled his fans all over the world with many great cricketing moments for 15 long years. The superlative innings are carved in the history of cricket. Having said this, I look up to the man for many other reasons that make him a person of great human values.

His untainted career and personal life

This is something hard to believe! He has always been in the limelight but for all the right reasons on earth. Never, can I remember that he is in the news for anything wrong or anything not so cricket. It certainly takes a lot of discipline and dedication to do that.

Modesty, humility, being down to earth, deeply rooted

I have always had this on my mind while watching him play and grow. Be it on field or off field, he has been an exemplary persona right from his building years. Never have I come across as an angry or seething Tendulkar who is puking words or snapping at the fellow players. Does that mean that he hasn’t been criticised ever? We all know how raw and bitter the game of cricket can be. So, Sachin too had his days when he was met scathing criticism for not being in performing form. But the great man of composure that he is, he has never lost his cool. He has dealt with the life’s untoward hassles with grace and maturity.

Carrying the legacy of Tendulkar family

He is a complete family person. In order to shine out in professional life the role of family is very important. Tendulkar family is one of the few families of India that still lives and thinks the same way as it used to, before and the after the birth of the master blaster on field. The values and morality that have been instilled in young Sachin is the legacy of the Tendulkar family, and I am sure he is passing that on to his children as well. I salute the whole family (the members of which are good names in their respective fields) for having being such a support all through his career.

Discipline, dedication, self-restraint

Discipline is something that makes or breaks a man, and Sachin has been an epitome of discipline. This has been reflected in the way he has carried himself all these years. His sense of time and punctually is something worth cultivating.  I am deeply moved by his self-control, restraint, and ascetic discipline.

Non-publicized charity

Sachin Tendulkar has an income more than many of us put together and the amount of charity he does is a matter of mere speculation since he loves to stay away from publicizing it. This makes him even greater human.

Intrinsic strength

Sachin has dealt with the hurdles and the life’s odds with composure and poise. He too had his days when he was heavily critiqued for his bad patch and also, more recently, in an incident recently when a major political party in Maharashtra wanted him to blabber its words. Sachin, on the contrary, resolved the matter with an off field communicating excellence that’s hard to beat.

Kudos to this man who is my favourite cricketer not merely due to his cricketing ability but also for being a man of stupendous stature as a person.

Image: cricketclub