Welcome 2016

Another year comes to an end. 2016 is here. Time seems to be flying just too fast these days.

2015 has been a year that has tested me like no other year. It’s been heart breaking, ‘pulled me in five different directions’ tough, the year which I will always remember as the year I lost my mother.

For a year with so much sadness, it has also had it’s highs, although they fade away in front on the lows, but still.

2016, what ever you might bring, please bring me the courage to face it all.  May we have the strength to pick up the pieces and move on.

Here’s to 2016, bring on everything, the sadness, the joys, the highs and the lows. Here’s to facing it with grace and having fun where we can!

On a completely different note, as has been tradition for the last few years, I’m joining the blog marathon again this year. I must be mad. I know I say this every year, but this year is extra busy. And this has been the most impulsive decision to join so far. When Maya asked, I couldn’t resist. I normally give it more thought. I do think I would have backed out if I thought any more. All the best to my fellow ‘marathoners’.

Living with Loss

Some things you want to believe will never happen to you. Like losing your mother.

It is something that I’ve come to realise never comes easy. No matter how old you are, no matter how aware you are, that it is imminent, it is something that you can never prepare yourself for. You can accept it, you do, because that’s the only way forward.. Because there is no other option. You go on, trying to move forward… But every now and again, it hits you. And hits you hard. You don’t know how to react. Sometimes it’s in the privacy of your home, sometimes, it’s when you least expect it, while walking down a busy street or in the middle of a meeting at work, where bursting into tears is not an option, even though that’s all you want to do. Every now and again you want to tell her something, share a joke, or ask her something only to remember that you can’t do that anymore.

We knew my mother would be taken from us soon, we knew that her condition came with a very grim prognosis. But when it happens, it’s still difficult to come to terms with. Nothing prepares you for it. So soon, such a young age. 60 is no age to be taken away. Of course, I would say the same for any age, but still.. Back home, right after she passed away, some of her school friends came visiting and I can’t tell you how that killed me internally, when I saw their young healthy faces.. Just reminded me of what my mother had been robbed off by a horrible rare disease. Just makes you so mad at fate. Why, why, why did she have to get this condition? But that’s life isn’t it? Nothing fair about it.

Death brings you face to face with reality, ugly reality sometimes, truly wonderful reality at other times. My mother’s passing, for me, showed me how much she was loved. Of course she was special to me, but then she was my mother, but when I saw the outpouring of grief and love from those around us, from those whose lives she had touched, that was when I saw how loved she was by family and friends. Her attitude, her magnanimity, her positivity (that deserves a post of its own) will stay with us forever.

Almost a month after her passing, I find myself trying to live life the way she would have wanted me to. To be brave, to accept what life deals us with, with a smile and a refusal to give into despondency.

That for me, is her legacy, that is what I want to remember her as, her smiling face, her refusal to drown in self pity, her strength is the face of her condition.

Ennai Kathrikai – A Recipe

Before I even start, let me tell you, that this is my version of the original, and may have you gasping with outrage to see how I’ve modified it. It is quite different from the orginal recipe. Also the pics are all bad quality phone pics. So please adjust😉

I had never come across this dish until early 2013. The time I was in India, husband had persuaded me to keep a cook for the duration that he was there on holiday. Once he left, it made sense to have her as she was that good. Actually, I just got lazy, but let’s ignore that for a moment. So one day, she said she would make me something special. That something special was this. I had never had it before and it was lipsmackling, fingerlicking delicious. Albeit, with a lot of ennai (oil). When I mentioned this to my cook, she chided me with, ‘What Akka, ennai kathrikai will have some ennai, no?’.

Couldn’t argue with that. So until we left Bangalore, this featured quite a few times on the menu. Each time just as delicious.

When we relocated back here, I tried it out for myself. Husband hadn’t had it while in India so it was an interesting new thing to try. He loved it too, but he ate only the gravy. The baby aubergines were left untouched. Which is when I had this lightbulb moment. I decided to combine two different dishes into one. Bengali Begun Bhaja with the Tamilian Ennai Kathrikai. National integration, wouldn’t you agree🙂 And this process reduces the time taken to cook too.

So here’s how I make it.

1 medium sized aubergine (not the baby aubergines that are traditionally used)
2 medium sized onions
2 medium sized tomatoes
Handful of curry leaves
3 Garlic cloves (I realise as I type that I forgot this completely)
1 inch ginger
2 tbsp dessicated coconut
2 tsp coriander powder
3-4 red chillies or the equivalent of chilli powder
Mustard seeds and whole black pepper to temper.
Salt to taste
Tamarind paste, a little to taste.


Slice the aubergines into nice thin slices. Rub some salt, red chilli powder and turmeric into them. Or if you are lazy like me, just pop them all into a bowl, clip it shut and give it a nice shake. Keep aside.


Heat a little oil in a pan. Chop onions into cubes. Once hot, throw in the chopped onions.
Let it cook until translucent.


Then add the ginger, garlic and red chillies.
Cook for a further two minutes.
Add the two tablespoons of coconut, saute for about a minute.
Add the tomatoes and cover. Cook until the tomatoes are nice and done.


While the tomatoes are cooking, spray some oil onto a baking tray and line up the marinated aubergines.

Bake in the oven at about 180 deg for 10 mins each side, or until nice and crisp. I got a little tired and didn’t bake it as much as I do normally.

Once the onion tomato coconut mixture has cooled down, whiz it in the blender, until nice and smooth.

Take a pan, add a little oil, pop the mustard seeds in, once they start sputtering, add the whole black pepper and then the blended gravy.

Add the salt, turmeric, coriander powder, and cover and cook for another 10 mins on low heat. I add some turmeric, but it might not be necessary if the gravy is already sour. I know jaggery is added, but I don’t add it. The coconut gives it a sweetish flavour, which is enough for us. If the aubergines are ready pop them into the gravy, cook for another two minutes and its done.

We love it with just plain rice. It is great with lemon rice! I wish I had taken a proper picture after it was done, but I was completely knackered. It tasted absolutely great though. This is one of the few curries I haven’t managed to mess up. Yet.

Day 31: An election that counts

This was not what I planned for the last post of the blog marathon. Funnily enough, this blog marathon hasn’t been as tough as the others so far. I’ve been having loads of ideas, the only problem was getting the time to jot it all down.

Anyway, as I said, this wasn’t what I had planned. I had planned a nice, ‘it’s been so much fun doing this blog marathon’ post. Also, this one is extra special, as this has been the only blog marathon, apart from that photo a day challenge, that I have actually completed. I normally fall off somewhere. Not this time, clearly. Maybe I should just do this, chose the busiest time of the year and do a blogathon. It was such a fun ride. I didn’t comment on posts, as much as I would have liked to, or read as much as I would have liked to, but still enjoyed it thoroughly. So thank you, Seema, for roping me in🙂

Getting on to the topic I wanted to discuss. Delhi elections. I’ve been a sporadic follower of events. I’ve been reading stuff off and on. My sympathies (and my vote, if I were eligible) are completely with the Aam Aadmi Party.

They have released their manifesto today, and it is such a thought out manifesto. So many points had me nodding away. Who wouldn’t vote for a party like this, I thought. But I am wrong. So many wouldn’t.

Why? Now that is something I can’t figure out. Why are we fine with voting in career politicians who have done little or nothing in all the years of being in power? Why do we jump on Kejriwal and demand explanations for all sorts of things? Let me clarify here, there is absolutely nothing wrong with holding politicians accountable and asking them for explanations. What makes me wonder is that the nobody seems to be holding a BJP or a Congress to the same standards. It is almost as if they have got some holy exemption on the grounds of having been in politics for long.

The vitriol against AAP also makes me wonder why BJP, for instance, is so worried that AAP might win. The only reason is that they know that they will be forced to be more accountable. They wouldn’t be in a position to line their pockets as much as they could. They wouldn’t be able to get away with doing nothing. That to me is the biggest reason AAP has to win the Delhi elections. We need an honest party, we need someone to keep the mainstream politicians in check, we need a party that is accountable. Hopefully, one day, all parties will be forced to the same high standards.

If they lose, we are in danger of losing the last chance of having an alternative. I’m not saying that AAP is the epitome of all things good, but I do think that they mean better than other parties. They have less at stake.

And all those who say, ‘Kejriwal was given a chance’, all I ask is, why are we so reluctant to give them another chance while we happily give BJP and Congress chances after chances.

I’ve got my fingers crossed (and toes). I do hope Aam Aadmi Party wins. Even if they don’t, I hope they get a sizeable number to make a strong opposition. And I hope that us, the people of India, question what our media, our politicians feed us and make a decision that will actually make a difference in our lives.

Friday Finds (30 Jan)

Day 30 post on the book blog.

Also apologies for not having responded to comments on previous posts. I promise, that’s on my ever-so-long weekend to-do list.

Any Excuse To Read

Friday Finds are hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading.


FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

So, come on — share with us your FRIDAY FINDS! 

Here are my Friday Finds




Can’t wait to start reading them! Sometimes, I pick up books that interest me slightly less, to prolong the excitement of reading a book I am truly excited about. A little bit like leaving the food you like the most, till the very end. Anybody else do that or is it just me?

View original post

Day 29: It’s all about food!

I’ve seen Srividhya’s tag  going around and had been planning to use it. One day. Today is that day. Desperate times. When I don’t have the energy to think. Actually yesterday was the same but I remembered something that I could make into a post. And given that we are this close to completing the Marathon, I would hate to give up now.

So here we go.

1.What is the first dish that you cooked?

Ooh! That’s a tough one. I think it was boiled eggs. Once my friends and I had a picnic. We used to live in a set of terraced houses and the end of the line of houses was a club house sort of place. It was a house which was used as a club, to be more accurate. And after they had some functions there, I vaguely remember that there were some sort of cooking stove, left behind. I can’t even remember what or how, but I remember my friends and I boiling eggs and making Maggi. I must have been around 13-14, and I do think my contribution must not have extended beyond shelling the eggs. But still, it counts, doesn’t it. I do remember us being super excited about it🙂

2.What is the first dish that you cooked for your better half? (If you are not married, you can tell us what you are planning to cook for him/her)?

I can’t remember what I first made for husband, but can assure you that whatever I made was definitely a complete disaster. I was a horrible cook. Not that I’m any good now, but at least it is marginally edible now🙂

3.Which food were you reserved to try first but then liked later it since you acquired the taste?

Chicken. My family is a little different. My mum is a non-vegetarian but my dad is a vegetarian. He had no problem with us having non-veg, but it was quite rare for us to have non-veg at home. When we were little, it was mainly when we went to my grandparents place in Wayanad that we had non-veg. Mainly chicken. Now, I would never eat it. For the longest time, I refused to touch it. Until I became friends with a girl called M. She used to describe chicken with such detail that I had to try. Absolutely had to try. And once I tried it, I fell in love with the taste.

4.What is your comfort food?

Anything at all that Amma makes. And if that is not an option, Dosa with chutney.

5.Which dish of yours you like the best?

I adore my version of ennai kathrikai.

6.Which dish of yours your family likes the best?

Daughter loves her green curry. That’s my secret curry which allows me to sneak in all sorts of vegetables.

Husband loves my coconut chutney, my dosas and rava dosa at this point in time.

7.What is your favorite street food?

Chaats and golgappas in Jamshedpur. Nothing, absolutely nothing comes close.

8.Tell us about any of your kitchen disaster story.

Now here’s a question I can answer with aplomb. I can just walk into the kitchen and create a disaster. You can read about how efficient I am here and here and here.
And if you are still not satisfied, let me tell what I’ve managed to do just the other day. I’ve managed to mess up my Dosa batter. Big time. Something has gone wrong with it. It is stinking instead of having that lovely smell of fermented batter.

9.Any one or two food confessions ;-) ;-)

I hate sweet in savoury dishes. Even in chaats, I’m not too fond of the sweet chutney.

I love salads. Almost all sorts of salads.

I can’t stop eating some sort of snacks, like biscotti for instance.

10.Apart from basic stuff, like milk, yogurt, veggies what you have in your fridge or in pantry? (Name any 3 items)

1. Hummous
2. Pita bread
3. Desiccated coconut

11.Any food related or cooking resolutions for this year?

I don’t do resolutions but I’m always trying to eat lunch on time and carry healthy snacks to work. And carry lunch if possible. And to avoid sweets.

12.In our custom when you goto Kasi, you need to give up one of your favorite veggie and fruit. So you cannot eat that veggie or fruit from then on. Which one you would you give up? (It should be your favorite one)

Oh dear me! I would just give up this tradition😉

13.You need to prepare a 3 course meal for a party? What dishes will be there in your menu?

Aloo tikki chaat / panirayams with peanut chutney

Pulav/Jeera rice/lemon rice with methi malai mutter/ennai kathrikai/ dal makhani/ Kerala style egg curry

Store bought naans

Tiramisu or a Tres Leches cake for dessert.

And I’m done! I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed doing this tag!

Teaser Tuesdays 3

Day 27 post on the book blog.

Any Excuse To Read

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:


• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here’s my teaser

Indu did not like everything changing around her. It was like being on a merry-go-round from which you couldn’t get off. First, Achan had left her and Mani and gone off to jail; this was bad enough. Why did he have to do things that other children’s fathers did not do? And now Devi was acting strangely…

View original post 128 more words

Musing Mondays 3

Day 26 post on the book blog.

Any Excuse To Read

Musing Mondays are hosted by Miz B.


Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:
I’m currently reading…
Up next I think I’ll read…
I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
I can’t wait to get a copy of…
I wish I could read ___, but…
I blogged about ____ this past week…

I’m currently reading Shards of Sunlight by Anand Nair.

Shards of Sunlight is a coming-of-age novel that follows Indu’s life as she negotiates the hard, traditional world of her extended family. Although Indu’s father is considered a local hero within her community, the harassment she faces from the police only makes her life harder. To make things worse, Indu and Mani soon find that they are vulnerable to predators from both within…

View original post 26 more words

Book Review: Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Day 25 post on the book blog

Any Excuse To Read


Jodi Picoult has always been one of my favourite authors. I love the way she handles subjects. She has a wonderful style of keeping you in the dark until the very end. Even if you do get an inkling of where the story is going, she manages to pack such a punch, that I find her books irresistible.

Two mini e-books (When There’s Smoke and Larger than Life) were available on Amazon as a prologue to this book. I read When There’s Smoke a while back. I had Larger than life downloaded for ages before I started reading it in December. After reading that book, I couldn’t resist buying Leaving Time and reading it right away.

For over a decade, Jenna Metcalf obsesses on her vanished mom Alice. Jenna searches online, rereads journals of the scientist who studied grief among elephants. Two unlikely allies are Serenity Jones, psychic for missing…

View original post 590 more words