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Upside-Down!

Sitting at home has made me experimental.

I was never famous for dishing out delicacies at the drop of a hat but I sure can rustle up something when I’m in the mood (which is usually rare ๐Ÿ˜€ ) . Regular meals are not a problem, I think I fare pretty well in everyday-dishes.

But.

(There’s always a B-U-T in my posts….I wonder why !! ๐Ÿ˜ )

I have a large convection oven and a regular sized microwave at my disposal. Since the day I landed here, the convection oven was calling out to me, begging me to use it. Well, almost! Because I really couldn’t figure out the controls which were rather dated (multiple dials on the dashboard ๐Ÿ™„ ). But (there I go again), since I had plenty of time on my hands and a large basket of oranges too sour to eat, I decided to try my hand at baking an upside-down cake.

Yup!

Egged on by the kids who were tickled at the thought of their mom baking a cake in their presence, I got the ingredients together and started the process. The batter turned out much more than the capacity of my baking dish, so I divided it into two parts. One went into the convection oven and the other went into the microwave. As usual, the microwave cake turned out fluffy and yummy in 3 minutes flat!

As for the convection oven cake…this is what it turned out like :-

Upside-down cake

Upside-down cake

The picture didn’t turn out too good but the cake was devoured by the BF and the twins. They LOVED it ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

Now don’t ask me for the recipe because I never measure my ingredients. If its too thin, add the flour. If too thick, add milk (in this case, I squeezed a few oranges for a cup of juice. Used that in place of milk). That my motto! And yeah, I add a teaspoon and a half of baking powder irrespective of the amount of flour I use . The cakes turn out fine in each case ๐Ÿ˜

Next time around, I’ll try ย the pot-roast ๐Ÿ˜€ (Dream big, I say ๐Ÿ˜€ )

By the way, I still havent figured out the dials. The convection oven took more than 3 hours with what I think was the timer going off every 30 minutes. I googled a bit for some help but apparently, the oven’s just too old a model ๐Ÿ˜ฆ . Doesn’t matter though, I think with enough fidgeting I just might rustle up something good ๐Ÿ™‚ .

If I start now, I think I can get baked Penne ready for tomorrow’s breakfast ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

Gotta go then. Adios amigos ๐Ÿ™‚

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Here are the pictures and recipes of our prize winning entries for the cookery competition at work last week.

Frankly, I had intended to do a big and long dramatized version of the two evening’s events, but unfortunately, I have a VERY early morning tomorrow (need to leave at 6AM for an out of town engagement) and I received all the pics by noon today. Though I had the time, I also had two tornadoes to handle and switching on the laptop in their presence is like entering a tiger’s cage with raw meat in your hands ๐Ÿ˜

Anyhow, I’ll start with the first round and then go on to the second round.

Here goes then –

Round 1

Mocktail : Splitzy Splash

Ingredients :

Almond Syrup (or any transparent almond flavoured syrup)
Kiwi Squash (we used Mapro)
Limca
1 Lemon
Crushed Ice
Fresh cream
Cherries, Lime slices, apple and fresh cream for garnishing.

Procedure :
Pour 1 Teaspoon almond syrup at the bottom of the mocktail glass.
Add 1 large teaspoon of Kiwi squash over the almond, pouring gently.
Squeeze half a lemon over the kiwi squash.
Top the glass with crushed ice.
Gently pour Limca over the ice making sure that the Limca does not rise over the existing crushed ice levels.
Beat fresh cream and gently place a dollop in the centre of the glass, right over the ice.
Decorate the glass with lemon slice and cherries. Provide a stirrer just before drinking.
Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

Splitzy Splash

So immersed were we in wrapping up our work in time that it never occurred to us to click snaps. This particular snap was taken nearly an hour after the mocktail was made, by which time the cream had melted away and our dear apples were on the verge of drowning :(. Luckily, the judges arrived in time to appreciate that little effort with the apple (by me) and those cute stirrer flowers by my teams mate DiCh ๐Ÿ™‚

Chaat : Jhatpat – Chatpat

Ingredients :
3 Types of base – Pani puri, papdi chat and Monaco biscuits.
Green coriander chutney
Tamarind Chutney
Fresh curd
1 Onion finely chopped.
1 tomato finely chopped.
Coriander finely chopped.
2 boiled potatoes
1/2 cup of boiled black gram (kala chana) .
1/2 cup sev.
Salt, chaat powder, chilli powder.

Procedure :
Mash the potatoes with the black grams. Add salt,chaat masala and chilli powder according to taste.
Make a hole in the puris used for Panipuri and stuff it with the potato mix.For the puris used for Papdii-chaat, place the potato mix over it. The same goes for monaco biscuits.
Once the puris are done, decorate with green coriander chutney, tamarind chutney and curd. Top it all with a little bit of sev
Arrange on a platter.

Jhatpat Chatpat

The pic is not very clear, kindly excuse ๐Ÿ˜ I have better pics in my cellphone, but don’t have a cable to download it. Confession here, my only contribution to this dish is in chopping the veggies and also making that centerpiece rose ๐Ÿ˜€ . I have never really made chaat before and this dish belongs to my two diligent team mates ๐Ÿ™‚ .

Apparently, the judges liked what they saw, enough to get us through the first round at least ๐Ÿ™‚

Close Inspection by the judges!!

PS : Thats me on t he left. Had to cut out my snap because I’ve rarely looked this hot, sweaty and flustered in public ๐Ÿ˜ฆ (Blame it on the air-conditioning in the cafeteria that was turned out at 6:30 pm itself. By the time the judges arrived at our table, it was 8 pm ๐Ÿ˜ฆ )

—————————–

Round 2

Dessert : Gorge-ous

Ingredients :
1 Eggless cake
Fruits : Apple, mango,peaches,kiwi,cherries,sweetlime
1 bottle maaza
Fresh Cream
Raspberry jelly
Chocolate syrup (Hersheys)
Kiwi squash
Strawberry squash
Dry fruits and nuts

Procedure:
cut away the brown sides, base and top of the cake. Crumble it coarsely.
Chop the rest of the cake in 1 cm cubes and pour a little Maaza on them (not too much though, don’t want the cake to become entirely soggy)
Add a spoon or two of this crumble to the dessert bowls.
Add a layer of chocolate syrup.
Pour a little fresh cream over it.
Add a few pieces of peaches over the cream. Top it with a little Kiwi squah.
Pour cream over it.
Add the cake cubes. Top it with fresh cut mango cubes.
Pour cream.
Add chopped apples. Top it with scoops of jelly.
Pour cream.
Decorate the top layer as you like with cherries, dry nuts, jelly and squashes.

Gorgeous

Once again, the judges appreciated the decoration and those pretty spoon flowers made by my team mate ๐Ÿ™‚

Side Dish : Cous Cous Hota Hai
Ingredients :
1 packet (250 gm) Couscous
Capsicums : Red, Green and Yellow.
2-3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2-3 lemons
1 cup chopped cabbage
2-3 chopped babycorns
1 chopped tomato
1/2 cup cream cheese (Amul cheesespread would do)
1/2 cup olives (green and black). Set aside a few for decoration.
1/2 teaspoon Oregano
1 packet Tortilla chips

Procedure:
Soak the Couscous in boiled water with half a lemon, 1 teaspoon Extra virgin olive oil and salt to taste.
Set it aside.
Finely chop halves of the green, yellow and red capsicums.Add them to a bowl. Add the juice of 1 lemon to it.
Chop the babycorns, olives and tomatoes to the capsicum. Toss it well.
Add the cream cheese to this mixture so that the vegetables are evenly covered.
Add the couscous. Mix well.
The mixture should be in ‘upma’ consistency. Since our dish was served to the judges an hour after it was prepared, it had dried out.
To prevent this, you can also add a spoon of salad dressing to the mixture.
Chop the cabbage and the rest of the capsicums.
Add the couscous mixture to the centre of the serving dish. Surround it with the chopped cabbage and capsicum mix.
Surround the cabbage with the Tortilla chips.
Top the couscous with olives for decoration.
Drizzle some olive oil over the mixture just before serving.

CousCous Hota Hai !

Thankfully, the judges had heard of couscous (unlike the rest of the populace who kept wondering what this secret item is all about. Once the judges left our table (after spending less than 5 mins with us), the audience demolished the couscous in minutes ๐Ÿ™‚

Frankly, we were disappointed by the judges’ reactions. They spent far more time on other people’s tables than our’s. In fact, we had to force them to take at least a bite of the dessert ๐Ÿ˜ . There were other tables where the judges had spent close to 20 mins!! We were a little disappointed initially but our mood was cheered up instantly when we saw that our entire project team had come to cheer us on ๐Ÿ˜€

These were some of the dishes made by other teams :-

As you can see, these dishes were far more attractive and tempting than our’s. When the results were announced (starting from the two consolation and 3 positions), we were expecting the above entries to win. After the consolation prizes were called out, we dropped all pretense of expecting anything. It was clear that if we didn’t get the consolation, we weren’t getting anything! After the 2nd Runner up was announced, we even turned back to clean up our table and wrap up for the day.

So you can imagine our delight when at the 1st runner up position, our team was announced ๐Ÿ™‚

The trophy and the smiles ๐Ÿ™‚

The medal and the Trophy

It was much later that I found out the true reasons for our winย  Teamwork + Effort + Taste !!

The judges were impressed with the efficiency with which we three went about our work.

Preparing the ingredients for chaat

They appreciated our neat table and the extra work we had put in. Most of the other teams had come prepared beforehand. Like the two dishes above. They were prepared at home and decorated during the competition. We were the diligent ones to actually start from scratch, right from peeling onions to plucking coriander ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyhow, this win would have been impossible without the contribution and efforts of Dich and RuSo.

So thanks Girls…it was wonderful to be a part of your team ๐Ÿ™‚

Love you all ๐Ÿ™‚



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I AM FAT

No, no. Don’t say anything on the contrary. It wouldn’t matter anyway !!

All these years I’ve been rather lax about myself. Frankly, I haven’t put in an iota of effort to make myself look presentable. So if my hair are wayward, I just use a clutch clip and tie my hair in a bun. I don’t take the effort to use a brush and tame the tresses. I wear mismatched shoes with my suits and barely bother with accessories. I haven’t hadย a facial in ages and believe it or not, have never had a manicure done. Appearance for me, was superficial. It didn’t matter how I looked. I was happy with my state, so was the BF. As for the twins, well, they haven’t ever really called me ‘beyootiphul’, but their sentiments are somewhere close to that word ๐Ÿ™‚

I piled on around 20kgsย when I was carrying the twins. I lost about 10 of it. The remaining 10 are still hanging on, as strong and cohesive as the hair on my head or the teeth in my mouth. Err…on second thoughts, not really, given that the hair are falling off faster than you can say, Shikakai!! and the teeth are already showing signs of mutiny.

Anyhow, fact of the matter is that the fat clings on to me like a second skin,ummm..actually under the real skin, that is. In the last couple of years, I’ve almost got used to the excess weight I lug around. So what if I have to tell the tailor to add a couple of inches to my new clothes, so what if my feet don’t fit into my wedding sandals, so what if my bangles seem too tight for my wrists (I don’t really like bangles that much!)?! I was happy because I was still the most prettiest looking wife in my hubby’s eyes. Or so I thought ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Until last Sunday, when the BF sat me down for a heart-to-heart.

He confessed that till date he continued to ignore my expanding girth because he could see how hectic my life was. With a job, family needs and two kids to look after, he could understand my lack of time to exercise.

But not anymore!!

Since we have a nanny to care for the kids during the day, a cook who comes twice a day, another maid to tend to washing and mopping, there was no reason whyย I couldn’t spend at least 5 minuets a day doing at least some exercise. This is just the crux of all that he said, albeitย put forward in a very discreet manner. The BF was not so discreet. No siree…..he was full of accusations and bad forebodings. He accused me of not thinking about the twins and their future. He spoke of people he knew who suffered a cardiac arrest at the age of 25!! He begged me to stay alive and healthy long enough to get our kids settled. He confessed he could never bring them up alone. He also said that he was sure his words fell on deaf ears and he would never see any effort from my side!

Suffice to say, I was a sobbingย heap of humanity by the time he was done. I could see myself the way the world sees me. Well-fed, overgrown and sticking out from all the wrong angles ๐Ÿ˜ฆ . I realized that I’ve been takingย the lift to my second floor house and alsoย doing the same at work. I realized that I’ve had a major craving for all things oily, sweet and starchy. I’ve been bingingย recently and the results are showing. Reality came crashing down and with it, a strong desire to prove the BF wrong.

I think the arrow that stuck me the hardest was the one about the kids, of them needing me and me not being around to fulfill their needs. Hoo boy!! If he had taken a club and socked me on the head, it would have hurt lessย  ๐Ÿ˜

Anyhow, I pledged that from henceforth, I should aim to lose at least 0.5 kgs per month (don’t you dare laugh at my target!!). To achieve my aim, I have started getting up half an hour earlier and spending 15 minutes working out (if you can call it that!). 10 minutes on the exercycle , 5 minutes of squats. This is for starters ….planning on increasing the time as the week progresses. There has been a slight change in meal plans too. I’m having loads of water and fibre and cutting down the carbs after sunset. I can’t really go off dinner, but I’ll be having either rice OR chapatis, instead of both. The portions are reduced too.

Frankly, my enthusiasm for weight loss is fading fast (as it usually does). Just when I should be thinking of these :-

I end up dreaming of this –

Sinful, I know ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

*Images sourced from Google images

The going’s tough, but I guess I’m tough enough to get going. The only problem is, like all my earlier fads, I guess this one will go out of the window pretty soon. I know the BF will be around to remind me time and again, but how soon will it be before I turn a deaf ear to him, how soon before his words don’t hurt me anymore to make a difference ๐Ÿ˜ ?!!

See? Thatsย the pessimist in me talking!! Thats why I see no way out for my weight issues ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Anyhow, to all my blog friends, if you could kindlyย take an interest and ask about my weight now and again, say maybe , once a month, I’ll be shamed enough into working out and giving you the updated figures ๐Ÿ˜€ . I’m the kinds who needs loads of motivation to do something ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

So what say folks?? Will you guys help me through??



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(I have reason to believe that the above statement would be widely disputed ๐Ÿ™‚ )

…..is because I have found a blog site that has ensnared me like a fly in a spider’s web!!

I try to free myself from it, I struggle, I close down all the browsers, I try to focus on my work, but it doesn’t let me live. I’m drawn back to it, against my will, with the innate knowledge that I won’t return dissatisfied.That each visit would fill my heart with glee and relieve me of my worries ๐Ÿ™‚ .

Friends, without much ado, please do visit “Cake Wrecks” (if you don’t already know about it!!) .

It is simply, delicious!! A sight for sore eyes, mineral water for the humour starved mind!!

Some of the monstrosities out there might put you off cakes forever, but don’t let it affect you too much. I know I didn’t ๐Ÿ™‚

And that’s why, I’m finding it impossible to tear myself away from it ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy ogling ๐Ÿ˜€

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While doing the previous post on food, I went on a tangent with a different line of thought.

Being an Army kid, I had the privilege of living in different parts of the country and being introduced to various types of food. Some were attractive, some weren’t. Some were healthy and some were plain invitations to diabetes and blood pressure ๐Ÿ˜€

But overall, though the ingredients were more or less the same, the actual dishes were very very different.

This post is regarding that one special ingredient which distinguishes one Indian cuisine from another. We know that there are different cuisines like Punjabi, Keralite, Bengali, etc. So, if a dish was placed in front of you and you were asked to identify which state it comes from, would you be able to do it??

I took this ‘test’ myself many years back. By test, I don’t mean the actual scenario where I’m presented the dish on a platter and asked to identify its origin. I did what was best explained in “Ratatouille” . I felt the food. I closed my eyes and sensed what I was eating. And then tried to identify the predominant spice/condiment that lent it its special flavour. I got quite good at it and could immediately identify some of the most famous cuisines ๐Ÿ™‚

Its a pity that in today’s rushed atmosphere, I don’t get the chance to feel the food anymore ๐Ÿ˜ฆ . With the minding of kids and homely responsibilities, I have to wrap up dinner time as soon as possible. Alas!!

Anyhow, I came up with a list of some items which distinguish the cuisine of a state from another.

Feel free to add to this list.

Rajasthan – > Ghee

Pure Ghee

Gujrat -> Sugar

Sugar

Maharashtra – > Peanuts

Peanuts

Karnataka -> Beetroot

Beet Root

Kerala -> Coconut

Coconut

Tamil Naduย  -> Curry leaves

Curry Leaves

Andhra Pradesh -> Tamarind

Tamarind

West Bengal -> Mustard

Mustard

Punjab -> Garam Masala

Garam Masala

Jammu & Kashmir -> Kashmiri Mirch

Kashmiri Mirch

There may be other distinctive ingredients, but I’ve found that the ones I have listed , help classify the cuisines broadly. For example, most Maharashtrian dishes would have at least a smattering of ground peanuts in them. Salads included. In Tamil Nadu, from vegetables and currys to egg and non-veg items, curry leaves are a must!! In Kerala, I doubt there exists any dish which does not have coconut in it ๐Ÿ˜€ . And I don’t know any other place in India where beetroot is consumed in the proportions that are done in Karnataka.

Could anyone cover the rest of the states for me?? The ones I have listed are the places I have visited often. I’m not privy to the secrets of the palate of the remaining states.

And yeah, if there are any other ingredients which distinguish the cuisines of the states listed above, do let me know.

It’ll help add to the knowledge base of this foodie (thats me ๐Ÿ˜€ )!!

Before I end this post, let me tell you that there exists one secret ingredient which actually gives any dish that particular punch. Its called LOVE.ย  So the next time you stand their cooking, just add a little bit of love….and hear the praises coming your way ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy cooking, people.

๐Ÿ™‚

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My office (not the client side where I work currently) used to have this amazing lunch item made from karela (bitter gourd). It was finely sliced karela fried with loads of onion and roasted peanuts. The only flavoring added was a dash of salt and chilly powder. To say it was yummy, was an understatement. Considering that generally karela is the most avoided vegetable, it was a testimony to the cook’s skill that people used to pile his fried karela on their plates. It was the most sought-after item on the lunch menu!!

Anyhow, I tried my hand at the recipe today. It wasn’t as tasty and attractive as the one available in office, but suffice to say, it was edible. The BF, as usual, gave it a wide margin. BIL and GMIL liked it ๐Ÿ™‚

Well, the reason for this post is not to plug my culinary skills with the bitter veg. But while making it, I realized how wonderfully, this vegetable has turned the tide with me. There was a time when I couldn’t tolerate the thought of putting a morsel of it in my mouth. Those were the days when the Pater used to sit at the head of the dining table , taking note of which child tried to be generous with his veggies with his neighbor. His stern eyes were enough to make us gobble the thing down, without even bothering to chew. Aapa had a knack of simply swallowing it whole with a glass of water. We hated it that much!!!

Over the years, gradually, but surely, we learned to accept it. It helped that Mom tried many different recipes and kept it new and fresh every time. Surprisingly, ALL my siblings LOVE this vegetable now.

One such time, when I was in B’lore, Mom had sent me and bro to buy vegetables. One of the items listed there was karela. Now, we had eaten the veggie many times, but I didn’t recollect any instance of me personally buying any of it (subconsciously, we were still vary of it, I guess ๐Ÿ˜€ ). Mom’s parting words were ,”Khushrang karele lana” , or something to that effect. Roughly translated, it means, “Get happy coloured bitter gourds”.

“Happy??”, mused the Bro, “Mom bhi na….!!”
“Happy…!!”, exclaimed moi,”Karela???? HAHA!!! What a joke!!”

Anyhow, we sped off to the veg-bazaar to hunt for Happy-coloured Karelas. Going through various stalls, we came across karelas that looked like these :-

Bitter Gourd. Does it look happy??

Did it look happy to you? What was a happy-coloured karela supposed to look like anyway??

We saw the same in various sizes, varying from dark green to grey-green in colour. But they did not invoke the ‘happy’ sentiment in us. Unanimously, bro and I rejected those karelas outright!!

We weren’t satisfied. Something told us that this is not what Mom meant. We kept on hunting and had practically rejected every stall selling the veg. When we were almost ready to give up and take the karelas home, we came across these :-

The Happy Karela

Voila!! the Khushrang karelas indeed ๐Ÿ™‚

Its not just the light effect. The happy karelas are indeed a vivid shade of green. The green of fresh leaves and moss. It almost looks too pretty to be eaten.

We happily packed our parcel and headed home. Mom was right after all. There do exist happy-coloured veggies ๐Ÿ˜€

And it tastes bitter too (HA! I cracked a pun !!).

So the next time you plan on buying karela, buy the ones which are fresh green in colour. Don’t buy the ones which are dark and dull. And in case you want the recipe for the fried karela, you may mail me. What the hell?? I KNOW you wont, so don’t bother. I’ll take the secret recipe to my grave ๐Ÿ˜€ .

I guess you think I’ve lost my marbles, dedicating an entire post to karelas, of all things!!

Sigh, good things come in bitter packages my friend! You won’t find me complaining of diabetes in my old age ๐Ÿ˜€

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