Saturday, December 25, 2010

Hurray Indigo

I returned after an hectic and  joyful trip to India last week. We flew to Chennai and had to visit Vadodara to meet our friends.  We had confirmed bookings by the Indigo airlines from Chennai to Vadodara via Mumbai.  When the booking was made online through "Make my trip", the transit period in Mumbai was only 45 minutes.  Thinking that the job of shifting gates to the connecting flight in the same terminal should not be a problem, we went ahead with the plan. 

While boarding from Chennai, we were greeted by the friendly young staff of Indigo airlines.  After securing the boarding pass from Chennai to Mumbai, when questioned about the boarding pass of the second leg, we were told that we need to get it only in Mumbai.  On hearing this, a sort of uncomfortable feeling spread on us.  While arguing about the time factor in Mumbai etc etc, came the next shock.  The staff told us that we have to collect our baggages and then do another check-in with a new boarding pass which will be issued only in Mumbai.  45 minutes is all you have and having to do such jobs would be impossible.  Off ran my husband to meet the Manager of Indigo.  After considerable discussion and spelling out the impracticability of the situation, they came with a positive reply that one of their staff would be ready with our boarding pass at the disembarking gate in Mumbai. This seemed to be a tension-relieving solution. Now, the question of baggage!!!! After many calls to Mumbai, again the Manager came positive feedback of transfering our baggage immediately on landing in Mumbai.  He also promised that they would load the baggage directly to the Vadodara flight and we need not be bothered about it.  We both heaved a sigh of relief, but everything should fall in place as told to us.  Easily said than done !!!!!

On reaching Mumbai, an announcement was made to offload us first. We ran to the gate and was greeted by a pleasant looking staff who was holding our boarding pass.  We were even escorted to the boarding gate by another staff who ran as much as we did.  Finally, on reaching the appropriate gate, we thanked him and the staffs of Indigo.  It was our maiden flight through this airlines and found them very helpful.  Indigo has a young fleet of ground staff who are on their toes all the time and they claim that their flights are on time or ahead of time.  I vouch for that as all the flights were 5 to 10 minutes ahead of the arrival time.

Thanks to Indigo for making our trip possible without any hassle. 

Moral of the incident: Transit time should always be more than 2 hours, be it domestic or International.

"Sometimes when we become angry/upset/disappointed at others for not reacting to our wants and needs as we would like, it may reflect something similar about ourselves that we may not like and challenge us to become more aware of our own shortcomings."     Jenny Jimenez

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lip smacking Creamy Malai Kofta

This recipe is one of my family favourite and if the procedure is followed in dedication, nothing can go wrong.  It is a treat to dig into the Koftas and enjoy the paneer, nuts and raisins.

Ingredients - Koftas:
Boiled and mashed potatoes - 2 cups
Finely chopped and boiled vegetables (beans,carrots,peas etc.) - 3/4 cup
Paneer - 1 cup
Red chilly powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 3/4 tsp
Cumin powder - 3/4 tsp 
Chopped nuts (Almonds,cashew nuts and raisins)

Ingredients - Gravy:
Onions - 3 med.size chopped
Tomato paste - 1 1/2 tsp
Ginger-garlic paste - 1 1/2 tsp
Garam masala powder - 1 tsp
Cumin powder - 3/4 tsp
Red chilly powder - 3/4 tsp
Nuts (Almonds, cashew nuts) made into a fine paste -3 tbsp
Heavy cream - 2 tbsp
Finely chopped coriander leaves-1 tsp

To prepare koftas:
Combine the mashed potatoes, boiled vegetables, paneer together with all the spices and salt.  Make sure the dough is firm and can be made into balls.  While making balls, fill 1/2 tsp of nuts and raisins mix in the centre and seal it firm.  Pour little oil in the Kuzhipaniyaram pan and shallow fry the koftas by tossing them at regular intervals, so that they are evenly fried and gets the golden brown color.  Drain the oil and keep aside..

To prepare gravy:
Take oil in a kadai and add chopped onions till it becomes translucent.  Then, add the ginger-garlic paste, garam masala powder,cumin powder and the red chilly powder.  When the masalas are done, add the tomato paste and keep stirring till the raw smell disappears.  Then, add the nuts paste and keep stirring in low flame. Caution is needed at this point, as the nuts paste tends to stick to the base of the kadai, hence continuous stirring is advised.  Add enough water to make a thick gravy.  When it begins to boil, simmer the flame and add koftas to this gravy and cook for 5 minutes.  Garnish with finely chopped coriander.  Drizzle the heavy cream and then the sinful indulgence :):)

Yummy malai kofta is ready to devour.

'We are all dietetic sinners, only a small portion of what we eat nourishes us; the balance goes to waste and loss of energy' - Laiko Bahrs

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Yummylicious tea time cup cakes

Cup cakes are always a delight to bake and instantly devour. I made some simple cup cakes without any frosting, not to add more calories.  But, added some choclate chips  and nuts to some. This is one of the perfect cup cake recipe which cannot go wrong and courtesy of .  I made some slight variation to the original recipe.


All purpose flour  - 1 1/2 cups  
Sugar  - 2/3 cup granulated sugar
Eggs  - 3 large eggs
Butter  - 1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
Milk - 1/4 cup
Nuts of your choice
Chocolate chips
Baking powder - 1 1/2 tsp
Vanilla extract -  1 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp

Preheat oven to 350 deg.

In a bowl, add butter and sugar and beat it until light and fluffy.  Once the mix is done, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, add the flour,salt and the baking powder and blend well.

Add the flour mix and the milk alternatively to the butter sugar mix, beginning and ending with flour.Divide the mix and add chocolate to some and nuts to the rest.

Fill in the muffin cups and bake for 16-18 minutes.  Insert a toothpick to check if it is baked. Once done, remove it and keep in a rack to cool.

You can have it plain or top it with frosting. I preferred having it plain with tea.

'A compromise is the art of dividing a cake in such a way that everyone believes that he has the biggest piece' - Ludwig Erhard

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Where are we heading to ????????

My parents hail from Palghat, Kerala  and hence obviously the oil used at home for cooking was the pure coconut oil. My mom used coconut oil for everything,  right from making puris, pappadams , vadams, curry etc etc. The re-usable coconut oil is called ' chuttennai' and is very aromatic when used for paruppu podi rice or for molagapodi.  But, the recent studies show that oil should not be re-used.   Inspite of  daily intake of coconut oil, my parents did not have  trace of either cholestrol or any heart related problems till their death.   Walking was the only regular exercise for them and a daily visit to the Kapali temple was a must.  My mother  used to sweep and mop the house on her own. We never had washing machine. Of course, we had a maid but my mother used to help her while manual wash.  My dad would never take his scooter or car for nearby visits. He would prefer to walk. Maybe those were the physical movements which kept them healthy. And indigestion means intake of either Dasamoolarishtam or Jeerakarishtam (Ayurvedic prep.). Headache calls for oil bath and other minor ailments is corrected with simple home remedies. I do not recall heaps and heaps of medicines at home except for a pad or two of Saridons and Anacins.

It would be injustice if I do not mention that my lunch and dinner should have at least two teaspoons of ghee liberally poured by my mother into my piping hot steaming rice.  No chapathis,only rice be it lunch or dinner.  Sweets were luxuriously prepared with generous portions of ghee and what not. I have not seen any of the elders in my household coming up with demands of sugarless coffee or 'no sweets' etc etc .

Present Scenario:
Gone are the days of Idli or Dosa for breakfast.  Now the main trend is either Oats or Raagi kanji or some Health mix for breakfast. I can see more of salads on the dining table. Toned or low fat milk is in great demand. I can also see young teens who say 'No to sweets' totally.  But, still the hospitals are flooded with patients affected by unheard diseases.

I find Gyms in nook and corner of Chennai now. But, with the same note, I can see many fast food joints too.  When I visit a Department store, I see lot of health products and health drinks and if I buy something I am advised. to look at the packet for %age of fat and transfat. :):).

On one hand, it is good to note that people are choosing healthy diets and feel nice about having a slim healthy figure.  But, there is also the concern of the fast spreading unhealthy quick bites at joints by youngsters and the old. I find more obese people among the age group of 17 to 30 which is very disturbing.    I wonder what could be the reason of this sudden  outburst of many unknown and new diseases even among the youngsters.   Is it the stressed life style? Is everybody trying to achieve something beyond their reach?I ponder and ponder but I am echoed by a stiff silence.

"So many people spend their health gaining wealth, and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health." ~A.J. Reb Materi, Our Family

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Deepavali wishes to all !!!!!!!!!!!

Deepavali wishes to you and your family

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A day of fender-bender!!!!!!!

This was  Monday and as usual the morning began with the so-called 'Monday blues' feeling.   I woke up at 5 am as usual and began to ponder about the chores spread in front of me for the next 12 hours.  The first job would be the cooking and packing dabbas for the family.  Then, the traffic and then the work place.  I put an end at this juncture and entered the kitchen with a big obeisance to the deities residing in my kitchen.  One portion of the kitchen which has a separate platform has been assigned to the Gods and Goddesses.  After lighting the lamp, dished out the required sabji and kept dal in the pressure cooker.  I had lots of coconuts (whole) (courtesy Navrathri visits to friends), so thought of preparing some dish with coconut.  Veggies cut ,dal getting ready, coconut getting ready for grinding, preparing masalas for the sabji, rice in the rice cooker - who says women can't  multitask.
I could see some of my clothes had entered the drying sector of the washing machine but not performed the action.  Immediately, upon checking the power, I found the wire has been plugged off and connected to the microwave which shares the same switch board.  Obviously someone in the family forgot to replug.  This means another 5 minutes of extra time to be spent on the drying part as I machine dry only 75% and then hang  the clothes in the clothesline.  Sulking at the extra drying work, switched on the washing machine.Phooof!!!!

The whole house  engulfed in darkness.  Bare silence for a few minutes and then I could hear one by one calling out as to what had happened.  I do not visualise any concern in the call, but the air conditioners in their respective rooms have tripped too.  If it had been Chennai, I would have happily opened all the windows for the fresh air to seep in, and that would have given my family few more minutes of the morning sleep.  But, in this place, they r all huge glass windows and numerous buildings nearby which would never allow any fresh air to the house during the grim summer mornings.

Now, it struck  me that this was the day of disaster and had begun early in the morning.  To top it all, the gas solenoid valve is also interconnected and that was the end to that too. The house in darkness and no gadgets working, my head was spinning.  For  a moment, I did not know where to begin and do what.  As the oil lamp was already lit, I tried to figure out for the torch and reached to the main switch board.  Scanning at close encounters, I could see the main switch had tripped. Slowly, I brought it back to position and could see all the gadgets back to action.  Heaving a sigh of relief, rushed to the kitchen. Already lost precious 15 minutes in all these activities.

Was wondering if I should go ahead with the drying and it took less than a few seconds to say 'NO'.  Cooking was in progress and the coconut was ready for grinding and whoops, the blender would not work. The fuse must have given away when the power tripped.  Too late to think of another recipe to dish out at this moment.  So, it was going to be just dal tadka:):)  My thoughts raced to my mother's place and in the same situation, she would have been there at the grinding stone completing the work without a complaint. None of us would have given much concern about the tripping and all the jobs would have been completed  as usual except that it would have been my mom's worry to set it right before we return back home, poor she.  One never realises the grimness of any situation unless u experience it on a personal level. 
The final tamasha was when I began to take the shower. The hot water would not budge in as I waited and waited and waited. It did not take much time to realise that this was another one who had taken casual leave without notice and brrrrrrr the water was cold and it was a real quick bath :):)  Now, I realise what it takes my boss to get triggerred, if anyone takes leave without notice, it is bad.

But, with the help from my family members, the day took off and ended pretty decent inspite of the spate of early morning activities.

It gives me shudders to even think what would happen if all the  gadgets failed  at the same time.  We can manage the dining part with plenty of restaurants ready to cater us, but for washing,cleaning, grinding, storing etc. etc., there is  no other alternative. I cannot even faintly opt to do my grinding in the grinding stone or  hand wash all my clothes etc etc. 
Moral of the story: Do not wait till Monday morning to dry your clothes :):

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Awesome awesome banana bread or cake??? Tooo good

A beautiful morning and a mood for baking.   Off to the kitchen and saw some ripe bananas in hand, having recalled a banana bread recipe which I had bookmarked, rushed to have a look at it. It belonged to Sunitha of Collaborative curry with the original recipe here.   After seeing her clicks again, there was no second thought in my mind but to bake it then and there. With such basic ingredients and a very simple procedure, one can dish out a gorgeous cake like this.  Of course, I could not term it a 'bread', for it did not possess any typical bread qualities, the texture was more of a cake including the deep honey color.  Added some walnuts as I love to have crunchy bites in between the soft texture.

Butter       1 stick
Sugar        1 cup
All purpose flour    - 2 cups
Eggs    - 2
Bananas - 3 mashed well
Walnuts chopped - 1/2 cup
Baking soda - 1  tsp
Vanilla essence  - 1 tsp

Mash the bananas well with a fork, this works better than anything else.

Mix the baking soda in 1 1/2 tbsp water and keep aside.

Mix butter and sugar until fluffy.

Keep adding the other ingredients one by one to the butter sugar mixture and blend together.

Bake at 375 deg F for an hour.

The aroma of the bake fills the house and do not be surprised if it invites the neighbours to your doorstep.

Very contagious,one cannot stop eating with just a slice,so beware!!!!  After seeing this cake disappear, I would call this one  the perfect ' Gone in 10 minutes'.

Thanks Sunitha for a wonderful recipe.

When baking, follow directions.  When cooking, go by your own taste.  ~Laiko Bahrs

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chitchatcrossroads - One year old :):)

A milestone achieved and thanks to all my friends for the encouragement and the support. A big thanks to my fellow contributors for helping achieve this milestone. It is hard to believe that a year has passed since we started our blog. I still recall the healthy debate among the family members regarding the title of the blog, the contents etc etc. And 'Chitchatcrossroads' was chosen unanimously as ours was not an exclusive food blog and the title should truly relate to the contents published.

 My first blog was about my travel experience to the US, which was a true episode translated into words.  This ordeal  might have been experienced by many like me and it is to the individual to tackle the situation and come out of it.   Although I have made many trips to US since, this ordeal remains and would live with me throughout.  Again, the 'Lone Daniya' was about the whole and sole daniya (cilantro)  which sprung out, just to encourage me and indeed that was my hand in gardening for the first time too. Gardening is not as simple as just planting a sapling.  It requires the care and love almost as raising a child.  This Lone daniya made me develop a beautiful indoor garden with about 20 plants adorning my drawing room.  My other blog "Ignorance is a bliss" evoked much response as much as 'Platform No.1'.   Very often we come across people who play a small role in our moving life and ever remain there, thus making a dent in our hearts.  Thus, was this boy selling 'chai' in the Egmore station who I might not meet again, but he has carved a place in my thoughts and reached you all too. 

Small poems like the 'LIMIT' and the 'Forget not' were liked by many and happy that it reached out to their hearts. Children, unaware of the parents' feelings, does not often communicate and keeps them under suspense.   Those 'two minute' talk or chat would do wonders in their parents' lives.  'Specatular spectacles' and 'Gold facial' brought a smile into many and I personally enjoyed writing my experience at the parlour :) There are times in our lives which brings some sunshine to the routine life.  Very often, these are embedded in our daily lives and there is no need to go and look out for those moments, they always exist  around us and it is for the individual to watch out for those  and enjoy them thoroughtly.

'Sun lover' too was a true experience of the loneliness felt with the weather change.  This is quite prominent in the Western countries where there are distinct climate changes.  Weather plays an important role in our psyche.  Summer and spring brings in cheers and winters bring in solitude alongwith it. It is upto the individual to put on a brave front and overcome any anxiety associated.

As  my children are not  very conversant in their mother tongue  and that made me write 'Mother tongue=Native language=???' which was chosen as the 'Tangy Tuesday pick' by  Many of my frends were able to relate themselves to the story of 'My friend Kamala' and am sure there is a Kamala in most of our lives. 'Advertisement and the wonder years' brought back nostalgic memories to many  of us as we all reach out to ads and simply love them. My bloglist would not be complete if I do not mention about the four parts on 'Pranayamam and its benefits' by my husband which I hope would have benefitted many of my blogger friends.

When it came to the recipes, most of them were home cooked on a routine basis, but some were delicacies and it is a norm now to ask my children if they had clicked enough of the  new dishes they prepare :):)Learning the art of perfect photography too, thanks to blogging again.

That was a short glimpse of our journey of 365 days. Of course, acquired tons of friends during the journey and now blogging has become a daily feature in our lives.  This has gone to such an extent that if I do not get a comment from a regular visitor, I start wondering what is happening and  why they have not commented:):)

Happy Blogging!!!!!!!!
"A milestone passed, new things begun, dreams as shining as the sun, a goal achieved, a victory won!!!!! - Unknown

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lip Smacking Gulab Jamuns

Gulab Jamuns are one of those authentic sweet dish  which is universally loved.  It is a comfort dessert, be it party or a festival.  This is one of my best made jamuns and this version is quite easy and a hit as u can witness from the clicks :):)


For the jamuns:

2 cups milk powder
1/4 to 1/2 cup milk as required (at room temperature)
1 tbsp self raising flour
Butter for greasing

For the Syrup

Sugar  2  cups
Water - 2 1/2 cups
Essence as desired, I used few drops of Rose essence

Mix the sugar and water and keep stirring till the sugar dissolves. Allow it to boil for about 5 minutes and then add the essence.

Mix the milk powder and the self raising flour well and keep adding milk to make it into a smooth dough.  Milk should be added by teaspoon so as to not form a loose dough. The final dough should be of rolling consistency.  Grease your palm with butter and make small balls.  It is better to make small balls as the size almost doubles when it absorbs sugar syrup and also one can ensure that it is cooked well inside.

Deep fry them in oil which is not very hot. If the oil is very hot, then the outside of the jamuns would become dark quickly while the inside would remain uncooked. Keep the flame in low medium.  Keep stirring the jamuns till all the sides acquire a common shade.

Drop the fried jamuns onto the sugar syrup gently and allow it to absorb the syrup at least for an hour. Devour them either hot or cold.

These are the different ways of enjoying gulab jamuns.
Eat it hot
Hot gulab jamuns topped with vanilla icecream (my personal favourite)
Can be refrigerated and topped with nuts and served

Monday, August 30, 2010

Authentic Bindi Masala

There are times when you are bored with the same method of preparation of a particular sabji especially Bindi where I have only a couple of methods.  I thought of mixing and matching masalas and voila, the end product was awesome and then on, this preparation is always a hit. Aptly termed 'Bindi masala', I am sure you would enjoy this.


Tender bindi - 1/2 kg
Onions (medium) - 1
Tomato (medium) - 1
Sambar powder - 1/2 tsp
Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Hing - a pinch
Urad dal - 1/4 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves- a sprig

Chop the head and the tail of bindi after washing and drying well. I chose similar size ones and was easy to cook and a visual treat too once it was done.

Take two tablespoons of oil in kadai, add urad dal, mustard seeds and when it splutters, add curry leaves and hing.  Add chopped onions and keep stirring till it turns translucent. Now, add the chopped tomatoes.  Keep stirring in medium fire till it becomes slightly cooked.

Add the bindi and then add sambar powder,coriander powder, turmeric powder,chilly powder and salt in that order.  Stir slowly and cover just for a few mintues. After two to three minutes, remove the lid.  Keep stirring till it is done.

This goes well with rice and a perfect combination with garam garam rotis.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Unique quotient of Relationships

Talk about any relationship, be it  between relatives or friends, is very unique and abstract.  Strange is the thought of how this develops. When a man and a woman enters into a marital relationship, they take a vow to be there for each other under the same roof.  Over a period of togetherness, they develop an unbreakable bond for which there cannot be a 'term'.  As time passes by, the man and the woman become very good friends surpassing their physical attractions.  This is only a general statement and might not be true in many cases.

A small example to cite: This is about a couple who had been married for a few months and the closeness between them is just building up.  The man meets with an accident and is in a critical state.  The wife is beside him 24 hours. His siblings fly from here and there to be with him.. When the man comes  out of the danger state, he tells proudly to his friends about the air dashing of his brothers and sisters who had come to see him and how much they love each other.  His friend replied that his siblings had to come as it is a blood relation and it is natural for them being drawn  closer in times of difficulties. But, he should,  in turn be proud of his wife who has been connected with him only for a few months and is there shedding tears and keeping vigil 24 hours with prayers at heart. That is the greatness of this relationship. This feeling of belongingness goes much beyond  the marital status. 

Relationship is the vibe one feels when you get along with someone. Not everyone can gel with anyone. It is an unique quotient .   Relationships widen as we grow and meet more people in different places.  But, do we recall each and everyone of them?  Travel is an ideal time when you meet new people but most of them bid goodbye once the purpose is contained.  I know of many of my relatives and friends who share the most wonderful relationship with their pets. This is an inner feeling which is shown and reciprocated.

It is difficult to build a relationship but dissolves so easily without we realizing that it has ended. There are other  times  when you meet your friend after a few years, you can sense the current flowing between each other. It looks as if you had not missed much and easy to get back to the news of the good old days and also updation of each other.

It is fact that we cannot live alone,need to have someone to talk to and exchange views and news.  I am sure many of us would be having someone , be it a friend or sibling with whom you can confide all your feelings.  For some of us, it may be the spouse himself.  Relationship develops on its own over a period of time and it is worth all the treasures of the world. There are some who come close to us and leave footprints and we are never the same again.

Was impressed by the following quote, hence thought would share with you all.  Do try to revive your old  friendship and also develop new ones.

'You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.' ~Frederick Buechner

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Yummylicious pepper cheese uthappam

Cooking can get very monotonous with the daily routine and a set of regular dishes.  Thus, came the concept of this pepper cheese uthappam and take my word, it is yummylicious and from then on, plain uthappams were history in my kitchen :):)


Dosa batter
Cheddar cheese and Mozarella cheese - grated
Capsicum/Pepper - 1 finely chopped
Onions - 1 finely chopped
Tomato - 1 finely chopped
Green chillies - as required

In a pan, pour a tablespoon full of oil and saute the onions and keep stirring till it is soft. Keep it aside.

Pour a ladle full of dosa batter in the dosa tava. Make it slightly thick.  Pour little oil around the uthappam.  Now spread the chopped capsicum/pepper, tomatoes and the onions. Cover with a lid and cook for three minutes in medium heat. Now, spread the cheese mix and cover again for just 30 seconds.

Yummylicious pepper cheese uthappam is ready to devour.Enjoy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You can add grated carrots or any other vegetable of your choice. The flavour that hits your palate is the melting cheese.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Zesty Lemon cake with raisins

I have been wanting to bake a lemon cake for quite sometime and nothing could have been better than baking it for my mom's birthday. It was an instant hit and the freshness of the lemon lingers in your tastebuds for a long time.


Flour - 1 1/2 cups
Sugar - 1 cup
Butter - 1 stick
Eggs - 2
Baking powder - 1/4 tsp
Baking soda - 1/4 tsp
Lemon zest grated - 2 tbsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Lemon juice - 6 tbsp
Buttermilk - 12 tbsp
Vanilla extract - 1/2 tsp
Raisins - 1/4 cup
For the glaze:
Confectioners sugar - 1 cup
Lemon juice - 2 tbsp
  • Sugar butter mix: Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.  Slowly add the eggs one at a time and then add the lemon zest too.  Keep it aside.
  • Flour mix: Sift together flour,baking powder and the baking soda and salt and keep it aside. 
  • Lemon buttermilk mix:Combine  lemon juice,buttermilk and the vanilla extract and keep it aside.
  • Add flour and lemon buttermilk mix to the sugar butter mixture alternatively beginning and ending with flour. Add raisins and gently mix.
  • Heat the oven to 350 deg. and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, checking on and off.
  • Once the cake is done, allow it to cool.
  • For the glaze, mix confectioners sugar and the lemon juice until smooth and pour it on the cake and allow it to fall over.

Zesty lemon cake is all set to devour. I am sure you would want to make this over and over again.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pathanjali Pranayam - Part-4

In continuation to Part-3,the  remaining 4 Pranayams are explained below. To get the perfect rhythm,  it is preferable to get a couple of  demonstrations from someone who does regularly so that there is no major deviation from the specified methods and style expected for maximum benefit.

5 Bhramari Pranayam
Cover your ears by pressing tragus with your thumb. Place your index fingers on the forehead and middle fingers positioned between the nose and the eye corner and close your eyes. Position the ring finger at the middle of the nose at a comfortable position as it has no role to play. Use the little finger to throttle the nostrils while exhaling. While inhaling,  keep all the fingers in position but do not apply pressure. Inhale through both the nostrils, taking a real slow deep breath. Keep your mouth closed and begin  exhaling slowly, making humming sound of a bee like “hmmmm”. While exhaling with humming sound,  throttle the nostrils with little finger and creat vibration on the face. While practicing Bhramari keep reciting “OM” mentally and concentrate your mind on Agnya Chakra (between eyebrows).
How much to do
First Six Months: 5 to 6 times   After Six Months 10 to 15 times

6 Mundak Pranayam
Take deep breath, exhale forcefully keep the hands at liver and pancreas location such that the thumbs are positioned on the liver and pancreas locations, bend forward keep the chin up face looking front and rotate the eye balls clockwise and anti clockwise and stay for 10 counts and return to normal position by slow breathing.
How much to do
First Six Months: 3 times     After six month  5 times

7 Udgeeth Pranayam
Take slow and deap breath into the lungs without much pressure, without inflating the stomach and chant long ‘OM’ while exhaling.
How much to do
First six months:  10 times    After six months  15 times

8 Ujjayi Pranayam
It is the best pranayam for thyroid problems and also to cure all throat diseases.
Take long, deep breath with both nostrils along with contraction inside the throat which makes the breath long and thin. The friction of air should be felt inside the throat when it is contracted and a hissing is produced itself while inhaling. Now close the right nostril with the thumb and exhale out very slowly. 
Those who have thyroid problem and on medication please check the levels after one month as for sure, you will see a major change in the thyroid levels and then consult the medics to adjust the medicine.
How much to do
First Six Months: 3 times   After six months if required can be increased to 5 times.

Courtesy:Baba Ramdev's demonstration on ZEE TV and

Reference :

"The body is your temple. Keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in." (B.K.S Iyengar)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pathanjali Pranayam - Part-3

This part highlights the mudras, their effect and different types of Pranayams with our personal experience with respect to "HOW MUCH TO DO".
We are keen to indicate how much to do for 2 reasons:
1) Gives an insight on optimising your time and still reap the benefits. Normally takes 25 to 30 min.
2) For beginners,  there would be discouraging symptoms like mild pains here and there till the body metabolism is put to positive changes and the bad actors in the body and mind are pacified.

However, if someone desires to follow few of those, the must are Bastrika, Kabalbhati, Anulom Vilom and Udgeet Pranayam. Enjoy the art of breathing. In this part we have included the first four pranayams and  the remaining will follow in Part-4.

Sit either in any of the Asanas, viz. Sukhasana, Arddha Padmasana or Sidhasana or Padmasana, whichever you find convenient. The sheet or cloth (cotton or wool etc.) on which you sit must be a non-conductor of electricity.

Types of Mudras commonly used while doing Pranayams:

The tip of the thumb touches the tip of the index finger, stimulating knowledge and ability. The index finger is symbolized by Jupiter, and the thumb represents the ego. Gyan Mudra imparts receptivity & calmness.

The first joint of the index finger is bent under the first joint of the thumb, imparting active knowledge.

Tip of middle finger (symbolized by Saturn) touches the tip of the thumb, giving patience.

Tip of the ring finger (symbolized by Uranus or the Sun) touches the tip of the thumb, giving energy, health and intuition.

Tip of little finger (Mercury) touches tip of thumb for clear and intuitive communication.

Types of Pranayams

1 Bhastrika Pranayam
Breathe in smoothly  through both nostrils as deep as possible to fill the lungs and then exhale out slowly and completely to evacuate the lungs. Breathe in and breathe out with equal force. The breadth should be filled in the lungs upto the diaphragm, and not in stomach. Do not try to over practice, stop immediately when you feel tired.
How much to do
First Six Months:  5 strokes three times      After Six Months 10 to 15 strokes three times

2 Kapalbhati Pranayam
Kapalbhati Pranayam is a wonder breathing exercise. Kapalbhati is sanjeevani (one that infuses life) on earth. Numerous patients have gained healthy and happy life by adopting it in their daily life.
Sit in a comfortable asana with normal breathing. Inhale normally and exhale forcefully (moderate force). Abdominal area also makes inward and outward movements and moderate force is applied to the Manipura, Svadhisthana and Muladhara Chakra. While forcefully exhaling,  the stomach should go inward in the same rhythm and move outwards alongwith inhale.
How much to do
First Six Months: 10 strokes three times   After Six Months  20 to 30 strokes three times

3 Bahya Pranayam
Breathe inside deeply then exhale completely to evacuate lungs as much as possible.
Now, bend you head/ neck forward and try to touch your chin to the chest (Jalandhar Bandha or Throat lock), lift upwards the muscles of diaphragm (Uddiyan Bandha or Abdominal lock). This will pull your stomach muscles inwards and also lift the muscles of the groin area.  Stay in this position for 5 to 10 counts,  then slowly return to normal position and breathe normally.
How much to do
First Six Months: 3 times   After Six Months 5 times

4 Anulom Vilom Pranayam
This does wonders in reducing your BP. Every time you come out of your boss's cabin after heated arguments, sit in your chair and do anulom vilom and release the pressure !!!
Close the right nostril with the right hand thumb. ‘Inhale’ slowly through the left nostril till the lungs are completely filled (Puraka). Then close the left nostril with the second and third finger and open the right nostril to ‘exhale’ but slowly (Rechaka). Exhale till the lungs are completely empty. The process of ‘inhale with left nostril and exhale with right’ is “one cycle”. Then ‘inhale with right nostril and exhale with left’ is the “second cycle” and so on. While doing anulom vilom,  please remember to sit straight upright and face looking straight. You may close your eyes and experience the change in your blood circulation pattern  as you do anulom vilom.
How much to do
First Six Months: 10 strokes three times   After Six Months 20 strokes three times

Courtesy:Baba Ramdev's demonstration on ZEE TV and
Reference :

"It is your birth-right to stay disease free, healthy, slim, fit, look beautiful & younger, in complete peace of mind and get back robust health." Baba Ramdev

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pathanjali Pranayam - Part-2

I have come across the following successful cases within my very close circle of relatives and friends and I narrate to justify the effect of Pranayam and to provide an insight and motivate you all to possibly adopt in your busy or lazy life style.   It costs you only 20 to 30 minutes of your valuable time. It is worth living trouble free life instead of searching for the hospital that caters to your medical needs supported by your Health Insurance!!.

Case-1: The gentleman had very high triglyceride for over 15 years despite  regular work outs and controlling the diet. Doctor related this to his body metobolism and put him on medicine.  He  adpoted pranayam and within 3 months the level came down from 300 to 126.
Case-2: The gentleman with high BP now lives with normal BP within 15 days from the start of the pranayam and Anilom Vilom does wonders for BP. His level was 95/160 got normalised to 85/125 and bp medicine stopped.
Case-3:  A lady with thyroid problem,  her health has improved and thyroid problem brought under control with pranayam and in paerticular the Ujjai pranayam does wonders.

The Part-3 will address,  how to do and how much to do . Beginners should  note how much to do because  the bad actors in your body tends to discourage you by developing some shooting pains now and then. Hence it is preferable to start in low profile and gradually increase over a period of time to avoid such discouraging symptoms till your body metabolism is slowly put to change. Your body is the right indicator to know how much to do in the initial stage. Do not stretch or overdo.

Some rules of Pranayam

1. Select a clean and peaceful place for doing Pranayam.

2. Sit either in any of the Asanas, viz. Sukhasana, Padmasana, Arddha Padmasana or Sidhasana whichever you find convenient.

3. The sheet or cloth (cotton or wool etc.) on which you sit must be a non-conductor of electricity.

4. Breathe only through the nose, because by doing so the air which you take in, is filtered.

5. Like 'Yog', Pranayam should also be performed four or five hours after taking food. In the morning Pranayam should be done after finishing daily routine acts like cleansing mouth, emptying of bowels etc

6. Keep your mind calm and composed. However, Pranayam can also calm down the disturbed mind and keep one happy.

7. Methods of Pranayam may be varied according your own physical make up and mental attitude.

8. Do not over do or put pressure or force while doing pranayam. If you feel fatigued in the course of doing Pranayam , rest for sometime and then begin deep breathing, which will remove the fatigue.

9. Pregnant women, hungry persons, persons suffering from fever and those who are lustful having no control on their passions should not do Pranayam.
10. Do not strain yourself while doing 'Kumbhak' i.e. retaining the breathed air inside or keeping the air out after exhaling (Breathing in is called 'puraka', retaining the breathed air in is called 'Kumbhak' and exhaling the air is called 'Recak').

11. Pranayam does not mean just breathing in, keeping the breathed air in and exhaling it. It also means establishing control on the entire breathing process, and maintaining mental equilibrium, and concentration of mind.

12. Peaceful mind is very essential while doing Pranayam .

13. See that while doing Pranayam , none of your organs such as mouth, eyes, nose, etc. feels any strain. All the organs of the body should be kept in normal condition. While doing Pranayam sit in an erect posture. Keep your spine and neck straight. This is essential for reaping the full benefits.
14. You may start by watching others. But it is always preferable to take expert guidance to fine tune to achieve perfection. It is for sure that pranayam does not cause any negative effect if it is not done accurately but the benefits will be slow.

Following the above rules and practising pranayam is solely individual skill and passion and blogger does not bear any responsibility whatsoever.

Courtesy:Baba Ramdev's demonstration on ZEE TV and

"To keep the body in good health is a duty... otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear." ~Buddha

Sunday, May 16, 2010

100th post - A must read - For the benefit of your health

Chitchatcrossroads has reached a milestone and this is my 100th post. I would like to dedicate to my family, friends, my blog followers and  blogger friends.  I have been trying to maintain a mix of posts instead of focussing unidirectional and  received over whelming response and support from my blog readers. Thanks to all of them who have posted comments and encouraged me.

The next 3 posts will be on Pranayamams and  keen on posting these as I have seen a successful case in my family who has a good control of the Type-2 diabetes, stopped BP medicine and living a normal life with normal diet/with minimal diabetic medicines. I have come across similar success stories in Abu Dhabi among our friends who have adopted the Panthajali Pranayam. This post is by my husband who is practising Patanjali Pranayam.
Chapter-1  Benefits of "PATHANJALI PRANAYAMAM"

Different treatise advocating or dealing with the subject of Pranayama describe several methods and each of them has its own importance. However, it is not possible for most people to do all these exercises daily. Hence,  seven simple methods of Pranayamam evolved , which incorporate into themselves, almost all the peculiarities of Pranayama rendering them scientific and useful from a spiritual point of view. All these seven types of Pranayama can be done, as a routine and in a time bound programme of about 20 minutes. The person who does these exercises daily and regularly can attain following benefits.

1. All the three Doshas (Humors) - Vata , pitta and Kapha get adjusted in proper proportion and abnormalities in them are removed.
2. Digestive system improves and diseases pertaining to digestive organs are cured.

3. Diseases pertaining to lungs, heart and brain are also cured.

4. Obesity, Diabetes, Cholesterol, Constipation, Flatulence, Acidity, Respiratory troubles, Allergy, Migraine, High blood pressure, diseases pertaining to kidneys, sexual disorders of males and females etc. are also cured/controlled.

5. Resistance against diseases is stepped up. Immunity develops.

6. Hereditary diseases like diabetes and heart disease  can be avoided if started at an early age.

7. Falling of hair or  premature graying, appearance of wrinkles on face or other parts of the body at young age, diminition of eye sight, forgetfulness, etc. are relieved and process of ageing is retarded.

8. Face becomes bright, luminous and calm.

9. Energy Chakra is cleansed and enables the practitioner to awaken the Kundalini.

10. Mind becomes stable and tranquil. A sense of contentment and enthusiasm or zeal develops. Conditions like depression is relieved.

11. Performance of yogic exercises like meditation will be easy.

12. All the physical and mental disorders and abnormalities are cured and toxins eradicated from the body.

13. Freedom from negative thinking is achieved and the mind develops the habit of positive and constructive thinking.

Courtesy:Baba Ramdev's demonstration on ZEE TV and

'Inhale and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation and God remains with you.  Exhale and you approach God.  Hold the exhalation and surrender to God '- Krishnamacharya

Friday, May 7, 2010

Today's yummy snack - Jaal moodi / Masala moodi

I got introduced to Jaal Moodi way back, when I lived in Durgapur and later in Calcutta. It used to be our time pass while travelling from Durgapur to Calcutta during weekends. Burdwan station is famous for this Jaal Moodi and even today the authentic taste lingers.  Later, I lived through several cities in North India and Middle East and tried to get the same taste in the chaat shops but to my disappointment. During my last visit to Chennai,while shopping at the Spencer's Mall, came across a chaat shop in the second floor who  brought back the nostalgic taste. To acquire the perfect flavour, the tip is the dash of mustard oil. Here it goes,

Finely chopped cucumber
Finely chopped onions
Finely chopped green chillies
Black chenna (boiled)
Potato boiled and diced
Chopped Coriander
Roasted groundnuts
Diced Tomatoes
Kala Namak (Rock Salt)
Chaat Masala
Mustard Oil
Puffed Rice/Murmura/Arisi pori (Dry and Crisp)

Mix 2 cups of Puffed Rice with a tablespoonful each of Chenna, Roasted ground nuts, Potato, Tomato, Cucumber, Onion, Sev,  half teaspoon each of Kala namak, Green chillies, Coriander leaves. Add Chaat masala ,Lime juice to your taste.   Finally, a dash of mustard oil to the mix and enjoy!!!!!!!!

"Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside. ~Mark Twain"

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Is ignorance a bliss?????

Recently, one of my close friend was complaining of  severe stomach ache.  The pain was unbearable and extended for more than a week and it was not subsiding with painkillers. There were numerous suggestions and kitchen remedies pouring in and dutifully, she observed everything but in vain. I strongly suggested that she should stop self medication and visit a doctor soon. After a couple of days of me making the suggestion, when I called her, she was a bit reluctant to speak about the subject and began to give me excuses for not having visited the doctor yet. I was quite upset by her sluggishness and decided to take the first step of escorting her to the hospital myself.

She was too scared to even think she would have any problem. After the physical examination, Dr.wanted a few tests to be done. The basic tests were OK with her but when it came to ultrasound, she out-rightly refused and would not budge. After so much coaxing and advises, I took her for the scan. When the results came, they diagnosed a growth in her uterus and further investigations need to be done. I cannot describe the night when we received the result. She decided that she is having cancer and that is the end. No amount of consolation or cajoling was working with her. It was just sobbing and crying. I felt really bad for the situation but things had to be done. A Hystoscopy was conducted and we were awaiting the biopsy result. The results were to be got after a couple of days. When we called the hospital, they conveyed that the Pathologist wanted a couple more days in stain to get the exact result. This again raised the blood pressure and tension of all of us at our homes, and you can imagine the plight of my friend. She was throwing tantrums, would not eat but just keep telling what she would be missing in life, especially the marriage of her children, etc etc. (Now, she had reconciled to herself that she is having cancer and she could remember someone in her family had similar symptoms too )

Finally, when we received the result, it was a benign growth but had to be operated upon. On hearing that it was not malignant, I can still remember her sobbing of relief. There was the happy ending with the surgery and she is recovering well.

As we have the desire to get educated of various symptoms for various diseases either through hearsay or thro' the net and television, when we have a simple health problem, immediately our minds work faster and co-relates to the extremes like cancer or any such major illness. This induces so much stress and pressure to the self and the family till the results are obtained. No doubt, we should be alert of any abnormal symptoms of our body and get diagnosed at once, but this acquired knowledge proves to increase mental strain and unwanted tension. So, now I am pondering if Ignorance is bliss but at what cost????? Confused !!!!!!!!

"We live longer than our forefathers; but we suffer more from a thousand artificial anxieties and cares. They fatigued only the muscles, we exhaust the finer strength of the nerves. ~Edward George Bulwer-Lytton"

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Platform No.1

I was travelling by train to Trichy with my family about a month back.  Since, it was a last minute travel, we could not get air tickets and so decided to go by train.  It was a much awaited train travel after a long time and so was the excitement.  We had to board the train from Egmore station.  The departure was at 10.15 in the night so was quite happy with the timing.  Very ideal in the sense that we would have a quick dinner at home and would reach Trichy for breakfast.  This was the best that could happen. No hassle of packing dinner etc. Just a bottle of water was suffice. 

But, when we reached the station, the first thing  our eyes met was the Adyar Ananda Bhavan Stall flooded with sweets and savouries. I, especially love their Chivda mixture, Butter murukku and the Kara sev.  With meaningful exchanges with my daughters, we headed towards it and came back with a few filled plastic covers.  We also collected some magazines from a book stall nearby.  The train journey itself calls for munching and reading, not to be missed at any cost.  As we were settling down in our seats,  we could see a small boy selling  'garam chai' in mud pots.  We could already sense the aroma of the same and was ready for a hot cup.  We got 4 chais and started sipping, it was heavenly.  As he did not have the change, he told he would come and collect money from us later. By the time, our chai  was getting over, we could hear the whistle and the train started moving.  The boy, not to be seen anywhere.  As it was the air condition coach, there was no way of calling  or looking  out for him from the window.  A peep from the door did not yield any results.  Our spirits were dampened.  What a way to start our trip !!!!!

Then came Mambalam and Tambaram, he was not to be seen.  By this time, we had no hope of seeing him again.  As we were  settling in our beds, came the Chengalpet station and we could hear the train stop with a 'thud'.   We could hear a faint 'chai chai' sound too.  At 11.30 in the night, there he is,  in all smiles.  He apologised that he was late to collect his dues.  He also gave us some more news that he is happy, his pot was over finally.  He happily collected not a paise more from us and was waiting to get down.  I was too happy to hand him the Anand Bhavan snacks too which he started to devour immediately, sure must be hungry.  I am sure,by the time he reaches his so-called home, it would be past midnight, only to awake to sell more ' chais' the next day.

We headed back to Chennai within a couple of days.  As we were reaching Egmore station, all our eyes were looking out for the boy selling chai.  There he was :):) Not to miss the moment, we had his chai and then proceeded home.  These are some moments of life, to be remembered at all times.

Getting a cup of 'garam chai' at a station especially,  is a very uneventful incident to most of us.  Thinking deeply, I wonder what this boy would be doing after 10 years, maybe still selling 'chai' or maybe elevated to the post of managing a stall in Egmore. Life is very uncertain for him but appreciate his spirits of working hard to earn a rupee instead of resorting to begging.  Next time when you travel, please be sure to get a cup of 'chai'.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Forget not !!

Couple of generations back, where the system of joint family set up was widely prevalent, as the age progressed in the family household, there was no loneliness or the fear of abandonment.  The house used to be flooded with granchildren and other family members who was always ready at their call.  Now, I could visibly see elderly couple staying alone as their children settled abroad in search of better prospects. Recently, at a wedding in Chennai, I noticed that the majority of attendees were elderly people and the younger generations were visibly absent. Most of the elders who attended had a recent trip abroad and was engaged in, who saw what.  I was feeling happy at these dialogues but at the same time could sense some sort of remorse in their voices. 

They were a happy family
With children, a couple
Huddling in their small house
In warmth and full of love

As children grew up,
So were their dreams
They dreamt to give them
Whatever they could not achieve

As years passed by
They found the children away
Miles and miles apart
But close to their hearts

Technology made them feel closer
With webcams and chats
But  missed the caress and touch
And little odd things

Still they claim
They have done their best
To find better pastures
For their children

Would love to tell u all
Not to miss a mail
Or a phone now and then
For two souls would be waiting for them.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tasty,healthy,yummy Gol Gol Alu Patties with Salad

An Evening with IPL

IPL3 is really taking big toll on our health and time. The life goes around watching the match from 2.30 pm till mid night. It makes us to be a couch potato. Being from Chennai, I am a strong supporter of Chennai Super Kings and my husband not so emotionally attached to Chennai supports Rajasthan Royals since IPL1 and the reason being RR were underdogs then and won the trophy. Unfortunately RR not so successful so far in this season,  he is on and off out of his couch!!. One such outing from his couch to the kitchen brought out this excellent combination and was a treat to me. You may try his instant time pass attempt and enjoy watching IPL.

Gol Gol Alu Patties:

Potatoes - 3 medium sized
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Red chilly powder - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - a sprig finely choped
Coriander leaves- 2 tbsp finely chopped
Salt to taste

Boil potatoes and mash it well. In a pan, add little oil, then add mustard seeds. Once it begins to splutter, add curry leaves  and keep stirring in low flame . Then, add turmeric powder and chilly powder and then add the mashed potatoes, salt and mix well. Finally add the chopped coriander leaves and allow it to cool. Once cooled, make small balls and shallow fry them in the non-stick Appam pan/Kuzhi Paniyaram Pan.

He found frying in Appam pan very easy and consumes less oil too. Further when it is done, the outer layer was crunchy while inner was soft and spicy.

The Alu Patties along with awesome sprouts and  salad was a real treat while watching your team win in IPL.   I loved it. The combination of the salad and the gol gol alu patties is incredible.
"It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes - Douglas Adams" - Certainly not Rajasthan Royals' losing spree!!!!!!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Tasty,tangy Mango Thokku

Mango season must be on in Chennai.  I can imagine the scene in Mylapore Mada Veedhi where roadside vendors would be flooded with Avakkai mangoes and the small Vadu mangoes too. The vendors are very enterprising that they would offer to chop the mangoes for Avakkai with the shell after the purchase. You need special chopping knife to do the cutting.  Of course, nowadays one can find 'Kili mooku mango' (Literally meaning, the tip of the mango is slightly hooked and resembles the parrot beak ) almost 365 days in one place or the other.  This mango is best suited for 'Thokku'.  While visiting the temple in Dubai, I was overwhelmed to find these in the Indian store near the temple.  Grabbed some and here is the outcome.

Raw mangoes - 2
Chilly powder - 3 to 4 tbsp
Methi seeds - 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Sesame seed Oil - 1/4 cup

Dry roast Methi seeds and grind it finely and keep aside.  Wash the mangoes and dry it well. Peel the skin and chop into thin slices. You can either chop or grate too. I prefer chopping into thin slices as I love to have some pieces too in the thokku.

In a thick bottom pan, add Sesame seed oil and add mustard seeds. When it splutters, keep the flame in the lowest and add the chopped or grated mango pieces.  Keep stirring at regular intervals so that it does not get stuck to the bottom of the pan. After 15 to 20 minutes, you can see the mangoes becoming mushy.  Mash it well with a spatula and keep stirring.

 Once the mashed mangoes are devoid of water, add salt, red chilly powder and the dry roasted Methi powder. Stir well. In another small pan, add little oil and add Asafoetida to it. Once, it gets roasted in oil, add to the Mango thokku mix. Mix everything well and keep stirring.  It is done when the final outcome is thick and the oil leaves out.


Mangoes have to be dried well for the Thokku to have more shelf life.
Refrigeration is necessary.
I prefer adding Asafoetida finally as the flavour stays in the Thokku.
Do not cover while the mangoes are getting cooked. It may take a little more time, but it has longer shelf life this way.
Use a dry spoon always and do not keep the spoon inside the pickle jar permanently.

Enjoy preparing this pickle and goes well with anything and everything but my best option would be with curd rice.
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