Thursday 25 August 2011

These Mughals sure knew their design

I'll let the pictures do the talking.
But one thing has been bothering me - I hope someone has the answer. How come such palaces do not exist in South India? Every minor Maharajah up North (Gujarat, rajasthan, delhi, uttar pradesh) seems to have built monumental edifices to their glory. Did the Cholas, Hoysalas, Pallavas, Chalukyas etc just erect temples? As far as I know (I've never visited some of these), Hampi, Belur-Halebid and Mahabalipuram etc are all temple complexes. What have I missed? I have heard of the Travancore palace and seen the Mysore palace, bot not sure if there are any others.
Getting back to Agra, one has to start with the Taj (head bowed in respect for the stunning beauty).

I chose this picture for a reason. This is actually the back view of the Taj as seen from a place called Mehtab Bagh. Totally symmetrical huh? What you see in the foreground is the site and foundation of the Black Taj Mahal, which was supposed to house the tomb of Shah Jahan. However it did not get built because ShahJahan was subsequently imprisoned by Aurangzeb. Our guide said there was no hard proof to substantiate this story/myth. Oh and btw that story about Shahjahan blinding/chopping off the hands of the stonemasons and architects of the Taj is totally untrue. Whew!
Oops....I said I'd let the pics do the talking :)
Moving on.....
Inside the Agra fort, very similar to the Red Fort in Delhi.

Balconies and balustrades inside the fort.

Entry into Fatehpur (the palace complex).

A pagoda-inspired structure where Akbar is supposed to have enjoyed moonlit nights :)

First view of Akbar's tomb - Sikandra.

The lush verdant lawns of Sikandra , with deers romping.

Itmad-ud-Daulah, the tomb of the "man of trust", Nur-Jehan's father, who used to be treasurer when Jahangir was emperor. Caught this as the sun was setting.

Itmad-ud-daulah marked a transition phase in Indo-Islamic architecture from red sandstone to white marble. It is beautiful, off the tourist track (relatively speaking since everything in Agra is on the tourist track!) and sits on a vantage point on the banks of the Yamuna. Very serene.

Look how well-maintained these floor tiles are. And how beautiful.

A section of the wall plus flooring.

I did say vantage point :) Not child-friendly though!

I noticed that all the monuments were beautifully maintained. Lots of trash cans, no spitting, rest-rooms everywhere (clean by Indian standards). The irony was that two of the world heritage monuments - the Taj and Fatehpur complex - were filthy outside. Horses, cows and dogs roaming around everywhere in the entry roads creating a general mess. Sikri is still a functioning village so that partly explains the filth. But I thought the Taj Mahal complex had no such excuse. 

To party or not?

I was going to blog about the trip, but then decided to first write about something else. Which is, public reactions to our joint decision (mine, S's and Ads') not to hold a birthday party for him this year. Why did we do this? There are several reasons. From my experience of several kids including mine over the years, what kids like most about birthday parties is a) the gifts and b) the cake. Everything else - the balloons, the games, the friends - in my humble opinion, is the .....err........icing on the cake. If I held a birthday party in the park, with no cake (Californian-style folks, only vegan snacks! It's happened!) and a no-gifts policy (again, we've been there), is the child going to love it? Nope! I believe, very very strongly, that birthday parties are nothing but ego-boosting exercises. The child gets to feel he is the center of the universe, however briefly. It's a feel-good thing. What is wrong with that, you say? Absolutely nothing! I like birthday parties, when they are someone else's and not my child's (or my own, for that matter!). I want my child to feel special on the day that is far more special for his parents than for him. I want to buy him gifts to demonstrate my gratitude to him for coming into our lives. But do I need to have a big bash to do this? Not at all. So, this year, Ads will have a cake to cut in the evening after dinner. We will all sing happy birthday. He has already been bought tons of gifts and may get a couple more this weekend. He has new clothes. He feels special. He is very very special and he knows it and I want him to understand that having a party will not make him more special. In fact, having a party will add nothing to his birthday experience except a few photographs, and, let's face it, a lot of gifts that he won't like anyway.
So, after all this rambling, what is the point I am making? The point is - I want Ads to understand a few things from a very early age, and I think this decision will allow him to think about some pretty fundamental stuff. At 6, I think he is old enough and mature enough to appreciate these arguments.
1. He does not need to follow the herd. Just because everyone else has a birthday party, does not mean you have to have one too. Yes the active encouragement to dispense with the party was mine but we have been talking about it with him for the last two months. In point of fact, I was mentally prepared for him to reject our proposal and had already made a guest list for the party. The turnaround and the choice was entirely his, and I am very very proud of him today.
2. Birthdays should be about gratitude and reflection. Not about acquisitiveness and show-iness. I've been told that Ads is too young to understand this now, but don't we always underestimate our kids and what they can and cannot understand? I have myself been guilty of this several times. Does Ads "get" it? Maybe, maybe not. Is he "beginning to get" it? Yes, he is. 6 years of having me as a mother has to have had some effect!
3. Make informed and considered choices. This is really a corollary to point#1 above. Any decision that he takes must be dictated by reason. Emotional reasons - hey, that's an oxymoron! More fundamentally, he needs to understand that most of the time, he will have a choice. It's up to him to exercise it.
So, I was talking about public reactions. Gasp! You are not having a party? He is too young for this! Paavom! All I can do is shrug my shoulders. This is an active parenting choice I make, like so many other less unpopular ones :( I want my child to grow up with certain values. Having parties every year goes against those values. Having said that, will I deny him a party if he really really wants one next year? No way. If that's how he wants to celebrate his birthday, I am all for it. I am grateful to him for giving me the chance to demonstrate my opinion this year. Next year, if he says "Amma, your principles are utter rubbish and I think I'm better off with a party", well then, atleast he has thought about it and I am happy to bow to his decision.
I didn't have parties as a kid. There was one for my 1st birthday. I requested one for my 10th birthday and another for my 18th. I had fun on both. I had fun on all the other years when I didn't have parties too. The same goes for S. 
I suspect that another reason that Ads capitulated this year was that with all the moves, he doesn't have a few really good friends that he wants to invite home for his big day. Last year in Noida, the party was at home. He had a couple of good friends and he did have fun playing with them. Now those kids aren't around and he is mature enough to realize that they made all the difference.
If you are going to comment, please I beg you, don't be a naysayer! I don't want to hear it :(( I'm getting enough grief from other quarters for this decision anyway! But if you think I did right, then do comment :)

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Thanks UoL!

It's been a very busy 5 days. Chronologically, then.
1. 3-day trip to Agra, Mathura and Fatehpur Sikri. 
2. My b-school roommate, and one of my closest friends, visiting for a day. Yak yak yak.
3. My results. I passed!!!! With distinction!
4. Ads birthday tomorrow, the 25th. 6 years old. And my birthday present - no party! :) Yes I convinced Ads not to have a party this year. This I consider a bigger accomplishment than passing the exams.
So, these were the events of the week. I knew the results were out yesterday but I steadfastly refused to go online. My friend being around helped. I kept the kids home from school, we all went out to lunch, and then shopped around because my friend wanted to buy the kids some toys. By the time we were home it was 5 pm. I was a little bugged because the previous day S had said that he had a gut feel that I would pass 3 subjects and fail in 1. What encouragement!! I finally logged on around 5.30 pm and found (rather to my surprise) that the lowest I had scored was 67%. I called up parents and in-laws, mailed my bro and obviously crowed about it on facebook :)
Relief is the predominant emotion. If I'd known the last 2 years would take so much out of me, I would never have taken the plunge. Ignorance truly is bliss sometimes.
Pics of the trip coming up, hopefully tomorrow :)

Thursday 18 August 2011

Roundup- a third of a year in Gurgaon

A friend whom I met up for coffee the other day (a coffee shop in a mall, where else *rolls eyes*) asked me how I like Gurgaon, and have I become a Gurgaon-ite yet. Nope, I haven't, and I hope I never shall (in the context of the article and in terms of how the writer defines a Gurgaonite). I gave my friend a very honest answer. If you move around as much as we do, you tend not to be too fussy. Indeed, you simply cannot afford to be because then you'd just be miserable. Having said that, both S and I believe that when you move to a new place, you need to go in with a positive vibe and truly believing that it's a city/town/country that you will like, enjoy and explore. (Isn't that true of any new undertaking in life?). If you go in determined to be happy, chances are, you will be. Moving from the US to Noida wasn't easy for us and it wouldn't have been easy even if we had moved to UP from our last-but-one home, Bangalore. The gulf that separates a cosmopolitan city in South India from a city on the borderline of the Hindi heartland is very very large. On the surface, it all looks similar and familiar but people's attitudes and preferences are very different and one has to adjust accordingly. From that aspect, Gurgaon is a much more easier city to fit into. For example, English is much more widely spoken here than in Noida. The large number of MNCs have attracted a large pan-Indian crowd and in our complex, for instance, you hear snatches of every language -Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Haryanvi, Hindi, Punjabi, not to mention some Cantonese and Korean!
Where we live is very central to all the shops/malls, office complexes and we have 2 metro stations at a half-kilometre walking distance. Every couple of days, I end up with a long list of errands and to-dos and I enjoy walking to our local market, just a 7-8 min walk away. Our grocery store, stationery store, drycleaner, vegetable vendor and tailor are all there and I can't tell you how much I enjoy going into each and every shop. I love shopping local, in small businesses (have I said earlier how much I detest malls? :)))) so this gives me a huge thrill! In the US, S and I would often argue about where to shop. I preferred buying supplies at the weekend farmer's markets but S would always like to shop at Safeway or Target (economies of scale=lower prices). At Noida too, because of where we lived, I had to get groceries delivered home or else drive to the supermarket which just didn't give me that local flavour.
I have recently discovered a walking group, a running group and a drum circle in the city. None of which I have the least intention of joining but what it proves is, one needs to just look a little below the surface and any city can and does yield up pleasant surprises. Yes, Gurgaon is hot and humid and freezing in turns, traffic is chaotic, people are crazy (!!!) and the infrastructure -- I could talk about it if it existed! But well, it's our home for the next few years and all the complaining I'm going to do about it will pertain to the weather only. I reserve that one inalienable right!

PS: Am I blogging too much? I have so much to say. If a lot of it is drivel, ah'll be fun to read it all after a couple of years :)

The score so far - I

Books read in the last month (Thanks everyone for the recos!):

The Great Indian novel - Shashi Tharoor. I really liked this. The Mahabharata theme, and the parallels with modern Indian history were fascinating. Most of all, I liked his writing (this is my first Tharoor book). Very evocative.
The argumentative Indian - Amartya Sen. I was a little hesitant to pick this up even though it has been on my reading list for ages. I've done enough heavy reading over the last 2 years to want to stick to fiction for the time being. But among academics, Sen's writing is extraordinarily readable and clear and I have enjoyed (and learnt a lot from) most of the books he has written. In particular, I love the philosophical approach he brings to economics! I took the book slowly, and it was very interesting. To be re-read.
The remains of the day - Kazuo Ishiguro. Again, a long-pending book. It justified the wait.
The girl with the dragon tattoo - Stieg Larsson. Ok, I don't know about you, but I had got some rave reviews of the Millenium series. I plodded and ploughed through this but failed to understand why it is supposed to be unputdownable. Didn't manage to finish even half. Well - that's 2 books less to read!
Charlie and the chocolate factory - Roald Dahl. Any review needed of this?? I finished the book in 30 minutes flat but I am reading it to Ads, a few pages every day. And I am finding this task far more pleasurable than reading it for myself!
The vine of desire - Chitra Divakaruni. this was picked up even though I did not like her other book - The Mistress of Spices. This one is better but it reminded me of all the reasons why I am not impressed with her writing (ok, ok, personal opinion of course :)). There's too much imagery in it. It's too laboured, too much of a "creative-writing-course" feel about it, when all one needs is for a story to be told in a straightforward fashion. So, anyway, again not impressed though multiple people have recommended the same author's Palace of Illusions. 

More suggestions welcome. This is one to-do list that I like to be as long as possible.

Wednesday 17 August 2011

"Be a guest in your own home"

I simply had to share this article, about rediscovering (or, as in most cases, simply "discovering") our own cities and towns. As the author states "Your city is exotic for someone else." So true! Do go ahead, and read. As for me, my master list of "to-dos" in NCR is growing longer by the day. We ain't ticking them off as fast as I'm adding them :))

Monday 15 August 2011

3-day staycation

While the whole city and his mother seemed to be heading out for the long Independence day weekend, we were staying put in Gurgaon. I thought we'd take the opportunity to do a few things around Delhi that we hadn't managed to do/see yet. Those plans didn't work out but we still had a nice relaxed long weekend.
Saturday, we celebrated Raksha Bandhan. We had invited some friends over for lunch that day so I was busy cooking. I learnt the proper way to make kuzhi-paniyarams from my Chettiar friend! So, true to form, I patao-ed her into slaving over the gas-stove and making them for everybody!! I'm such a bad hostess :((
The same evening, we headed out to a nearby park for the kids to get in some playtime before dinner at Gurgaon's (only?) slow-food, organic restaurant. The food was YUM and knowing it was organic made it taste even better! I would have taken some snaps of the moong-dal chila stuffed with paneer if Ads hadn't been busy projectile-vomiting. Poor guy had a stomach bug and has been on a curd-rice diet all weekend.
On Sunday, we were meeting friends at Hauz-Khas for lunch. The kids love the Hauz-Khas deer park. It's clean, extremely green, has deer, peacock and rabbits, a duck-pond AND a children's play area. What's NOT to like???? The adults like it because it has some kick-ass restaurants, one right inside the park. I adore it most of all because of all the 13th century monuments. It's astonishing and enticing to be roaming down a shady avenue of trees, take a random turn and suddenly encounter this.

Or this,

Or this one.

Today, a rainy overcast day, will be spent indoors doing Hindi maatraas with Ads. He has a test tomorrow. Soooo boring! But a mommy's gotta do what a mommy's gotta do.

Sunday 14 August 2011

Raksha Bandhan 2011

Since last year, the kids have been celebrating Raksha Bandhan. I find it a very sweet festival, a celebration of the wonderful intimate bond between bro and sis. Plus, for lazy people like me, the work involved is so minimal - no dishes to be made, no puja to be done :)
So, on Friday, Y made a rakhi for Ads, with a lot of help from me :) The blue one on top is what she made at school (I'm guessing her teacher made most of it since it's so neat) and the white one with the red ribbon is what we made at home. 

This is the puja thali assembled by both of us :) Brown toblerone for Ads and white chocolate for Y (she won't eat brown!)

Yukta quite distracted while tying the rakhi because she had spotted the gifts!

Ads wanted to tie a rakhi for his sister so we did that too.

I bought small gifts for them to exchange with each other. Y got a pair of hair-clips and Ads got a set of plastic wild animals. Soon after the rakhi "ceremony" was over,  they were fighting like cat and dog over the plastic animals.....sigh...........was all that effort for nothing???

Tuesday 9 August 2011

2007 revisited

First, allow me to indulge in some reminiscing. A recollection of the happiest year of my life. Funnily enough, it happened after I became a mom...who would've thought?? :P We moved to the US and I fully intended to look for a job there, after a couple of months of playing with my toddler boy and enjoying his company. What I did not know then was that, I would start having so much fun with him that all plans to work and gain some US experience would fly out of the window. S would say, with a slight hint of jealousy, that Ads and I were (in his words) "on your own trip". And we were. We would be soundly asleep while S left for work around 7 or 8 am. We would wake up, eat a leisurely breakfast and by 10 be outside in the sunshine and clean air, playing in the park. I joined a moms club and the week was filled with kid-friendly events and playdates. Our social life rocked! We'd come home, I'd do a spot of cooking, feed Ads, wait for him to wake up from his nap and in the evening we'd be off again! In 6 months, I knew more about the Bay Area than my hardworking corporate-slaving spouse :)
My defining emotion of that entire year is contentment. I read a lot, ate a lot (put on a lot of weight too!), and enjoyed every moment spent with my child. It was a welcome change from the last few years of work politics and trying to establish myself in a new career, a difficult pregnancy and the challenges associated with being a working mom. There was no past and no future, only the present. 
Now, I have that feeling again, now that the last 2 years of work, work, work, moving, moving, moving and  so many adjustments seem to be behind us all. I feel more settled, more able to focus on the important things and not multi-task as much as I have been doing. That same old feeling of contentment. At the same time, I'm also aware that this is a temporary phase of calm since I have already started (in a languid no-urgency sense of the word!) preparing myself for joining the workforce again. Updating the CV, reaching out to old colleagues, adding new connections on Linkedin and so on. I'm only looking for a part-time, work-from-home assignment and I will hold out for as long as it takes to find something of that nature, in my chosen field. It's too late in my career to second-guess my own choices, be anxious about my prospects and jump into something just because it's available now
I'm not nervous about whether I'll find a job. I'm sure it will happen, when it happens and I know I'll know the right one when it comes along :) In the meantime, it feels good to soak (sometimes literally!) in the languidness of Delhi's monsoon (which is still playing hide-and-seek with us Guragon-wasis), and indulge in some 2007-like enjoyments with my little kiddies.
Speaking of little kiddies, we found during our pediatrician's visit last weekend that it is Ads who is underweight and Y (about whose size-zeroisms I have lamented loud and often in this blog) is sitting pretty at the 50% percentile for weight! (Good improvement, huh?) Now when Ads is already a good eater, where do I improve his diet? We've been asked to up the butter/ghee quotient. Ads is helping me by ensuring I add an extra dollop of ghee to his rice/rotis and don't shortchange him :) Of late, since they are learning about food groups at school, he has been annoying me by loudly examining and critiquing the protein/carb/fat/vitamin content of every meal!

Monday 8 August 2011


The weekend was busy. We were out the door by 9 am on Saturday. We split up for efficiency's sake - S with the kids to the doctor's for annual checkups and vaccinations, and me to Y's school for her Parent-teacher meeting. As you can tell, I gave him the harder job :) I had time to kill after the PTM since S was still not done with the doctor, and I had fun browsing through the huge collection of children's books on sale in the school. I don't know if this happens in other cities, but it seems to be a regular feature in many NCR schools. Outfits like Scholastic hold a day-long display and sale of books during the PTMs. In Y's school for example, a large Delhi kiddie bookstore called Eureka was selling books. Psychologically sound tactic I say. If the teacher tells me my son needs more work on his reading abilities, what are the odds I am going to come out of the meeting and grab a large pile of phonics books and early readers???!!! I'm a little wary of such stealth marketing, but that didn't prevent me from buying a bunch of books for Ads (early readers......what....he really DOES need to work on his reading!!!!) I also picked up a bunch of Hindi worksheets. Now that they have started maatraas for him, his lack of knowledge of Hindi words is showing up and at this point we are learning a whole lot of new words everyday and writing/memorizing them.
By noon, S had picked me up and we went ate a stupor-inducing buffet lunch followed by a long nap at home. On Sunday, we visited the Garden of 5 senses in Delhi - a long-overdue outing. It's near the Qutub, just a 15 min drive for us. The garden itself is very nice, very calm and peaceful; full of little steps and cobbled pathways and mazes, in addition to a solar park, a sundial, a lily pond and a chime 'tree'. I stared at the latter tree, forcefully willing it to chime but the air was so still and humid that not a tinkle could be heard :( Clearly, this is not a season for the outdoors. We were all dripping with sweat, me most of all. I kept biting my lip to avoid cribbing which is what I would have done if the kids were not with us. They were not complaining about the heat and dampness - how could I? Some people had told us that the garden was nothing great - Its just a park - that's what we were told. I think so much of what we do as adults, our prejudices and snobbishness, rubs off on our kids. Yes, basically and fundamentally it's just a park, it was nothing fanta-fabulous but if we go around saying " What the hell is this place, why have we come here, look at the lousy weather" and so on, well then we just teach our kids to do the same and NOT see the beauty in everyday things. So, although, I really really wished for some Bangalore-type weather right then, I kept my trap shut and the kids had a blast, climbing over rocks, running through the maze, playing with pebbles and leaves, spotting centipedes and disturbing the scores of cozy couples desperately seeking some privacy from nosy children! Y was most thrilled to spot a tree with lots of pink flowers and insisted on being photographed under it since she was wearing a matching pink dress!
We have bookmarked this place for autumn/winter/spring picnics. We'll definitely be visiting again.
Leaving you with some pictures of the garden.

The chimes that wouldn't!

The lily pond

View of the Qutub minar from the top of a hillock

Can you tell I am fascinated with this monument? It's so majestic!

Friday 5 August 2011

Veg pancakes

No, this is NOT turning into a food blog!!! I forget my own recipes so easily so I'm looking at this as one way of remembering what I made :) I'm not a great cook but I am passionate about getting my kids to eat right and call me crazy, but I never once mind getting up at 5 am to make the kids' lunch/tiffin. It's a labour of love, putting all that healthy stuff into the lunchboxes. Never mind that one set comes back almost untouched. Sigh. Yesterday Y came back with a sad face drawn on her hand. Apparently the teacher drew it when Y refused to eat her lunch!
So -- back to the food. Ads loves pancakes. I didn't know until a few years ago that pancakes could be made at home without the aid of Aunt Jemima and Betty Crocker :( Ads will sometimes ask me to make pancakes for breakfast (on weekends) or for afternoon snack. The health nut that he is, he will drizzle honey/agave on the pancakes, turning away the chocolate syrup and maple syrup. I love this guy!!!! Anyway pancakes are yummy and all but I thought for lunch I should send something more wholesome. A stuffed dosa or uthappam would be healthier of course, and also it would be nicer if it was eaten warm but we'll just work within these constraints. Ads asked for a pancake, and a pancake is what he got :)
This morning, I used finely shredded beetroot, spinach (palak) and yellow bell pepper. I cooked them in the microwave until well done. 

My pancake batter was comprised of maida, salt, pepper, 1 large egg, milk and baking powder. For additional seasoning I added a tsp of Chinese spices that I had on hand. Don't ask me in what proportions I added everything because I never know that - basically you just need to get the usual pancake batter consistency. I added the cooked veggies to that and mixed them all up, and poured the batter into a greased omelette pan, adding a generous topping of grated cheese. And this is what the pancake looked like.

I was out of hummus so I sent some ketchup as accompaniment. Unfortunately my kids don't eat any kind of chutneys and I am yet to hit upon some chutney which they will like.
Next time I am thinking of making a fruit pancake which would be sweeter and more interesting for the kids (maybe?).

Thursday 4 August 2011

Tagged! Why I read

I've been tagged by Aparna of Life as a Mom to write a post on Why I Read (Thanks, Aparna!). I've been reading for as long as I remember. My more vivid early memories are not of people or places but of Noddy and Amelia Jane, which I think sums up the role books play in my life. In the last few years, after the babies came along and other responsibilities took over, I haven't read as much or as voraciously as I used to; but even today, the feel of a book in my hands is one of my life's greatest pleasures.
Why I read is very simple. I don't read as a form of escapism. I read because very early on, I realized that there is magic in the written word. This magic permits me to do two things. One, enjoy various aspects of life vicariously, without moving an inch (one reason why I love books and blogs about travel). Two, it can move me the way nothing else can. People are moved by different things - maybe art, perhaps movies or music. Maybe something else. But nothing in the non-real world excites feelings of wonder, adventure, joy and sorrow for me as much as a good book. I've been known to be found reading, tears streaming down my face and sniffing sorrowfully; or walking around with a broad smile the whole day while reading a funny book!
Sometimes, when I am very fortunate, I find a book that may or may not have a superb plot line but is so well-written, so powerfully-expressed, words used so tellingly and so mindblowingly that I am just awestruck with the writer's artistry and just...the way he can take the right words and twist them around and put them together to create that perfect symphony of language. I think -- that's when I love reading the most. 
I tag Sangitha and Yuvika. Hope to hear from you, ladies!

Tuesday 2 August 2011

Vegetable-paneer cutlets (or somethin' -- need a proper name for these!)

Ever since I got myself a non-stick kuzhi-paniyaram maker a year ago, dishing out afternoon snacks has been a breeze. I love this baby, definitely the single most useful cooking utensil I have ever possessed. For starters, my kids (ok ok one of them!) ADORE kuzhi-paniyarams. Most of the time, most of the idli batter I make at home never gets used to make even a single idli. It gets exhausted just in making KPs and dosas (probably a good thing now that my idlis are coming out like rocks nowadays. In my defence, I learnt how to make idlis using the idli rava instead of boiled rice and I have always got amazing fluffy idlis with it. This rice and urad dal combination mystifies me). Anyways, back to the point. Which is, that the KP-maker is a very versatile piece of work. I have hardly ever made any snacks which involve deep-frying. Both S and I have been health freaks for too long to indulge in more than the occasional pakoda/bajji/cutlet. When we had people over, the most I could bring myself to do was shallow-fry the starters. But with this thingy, I can now indulge in some guilt and oil-free treats and my son will NOT perk up with "Amma, why are you feeding us unhealthy stuff?"!!!
I've dipped paneer, potatoes and green gram dal in batter and cooked in the KP-maker and they've all been pretty good to eat. The recipe below is the one we had yesterday.
First, I made a thick batter of gram flour and rice flour with water, salt and red chilli powder. I cooked peas and sweet corn (in the microwave) and ground them coarsely in the mixer with 1 green chilli, salt and coriander leaves. I grated carrots and and added them to the above mixture and made small balls with my hand. These were dipped in the batter, then coated with home-made bread crumbs. I'd heated up a little oil in each of the compartments of the KP-maker and now I placed these vegetable balls in to cook, turning them over after a minute for even browning. For Ads, I added some paneer to the vegetable mixture separately since Y doesn't care for paneer.
Unfortunately I have no pictures but bar any vegetable cutting/grating, this recipe hardly takes any time. I've stopped buying bread crumbs now that I learnt how ridiculously easy it was to make them at home and we have bread every single day, so I always have a stash of bread slices to work with.
YET - it's still BOILING out here and I was running out to the dining room every minute or so to stand under the fan :) I hope my children remember and are suitably grateful for all the sweating and toiling I have done for them :(

Monday 1 August 2011


This is a variation of the pizzas that I usually make, except that calling it a pizza is a bit of a stretch of the imagination, being a pizza in looks only! BUT - big advantage - it's very quick and handy especially for the lunch-box meals, not to mention supremely healthy. You do however need to get hold of some whole-wheat pita bread for this, and some hummus (store-bought or home-made) would be great too.
So here's what you do. Take a bunch of veggies that don't need much cooking. I chose red and yellow bell-peppers, zucchini, spinach and carrots, all shredded finely. Mix them well along with salt, pepper and any Italian herbs you have. Cut each pita into 4 and carefully pull off the tops from each slice. On each slice, spread some hummus (or any butter/spread), layer the veggies and sprinkle some cheese/paneer on top. Bake for 2-3 minutes at 180 degrees and you're done. If the pitas have pockets, another idea would be to use the veggies plus cheese as stuffing and then bake.
This picture was clicked just before I put the pizzas into bake mode.

This is what they look like after baking.

This is one no-brainer recipe and next time I plan to use pesto sauce as a spread - that should be yummy!