Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Thai Yellow Vegetable Curry

An other recipe to the list of 5 A Day the Color Way! after my Pav Bhajji recipe :)
The “5 A Day The Color Way” slogan reminds us to include a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables in the daily diet. Try to consume fruits and vegetables from the five color groups every day. The color groups are RED, ORANGE/YELLOW, GREEN, BLUE/PURPLE and WHITE. This item has a nice mild and rich taste which makes it a hit among the little guests at my place. The parents get happy as their kids are consuming a variety of vegetables as well :) This dish goes very well with coconut rice.


2 cans coconut milk

1/2 tsp. fenugreek

1 tsp. coriander seeds

1 tsp. black mustard seeds

1-2 green or red chillies

1 Tbsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. turmeric, dried, OR 1 thumb-size piece fresh turmeric, peeled and sliced

3 cloves garlic

1 thumb-size piece ginger, peeled and sliced

1 stalk lemongrass, sliced thinly

1/2 onion

3 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. dark soy sauce

1 cup fresh coriander

2 Tbsp. brown sugar or honey

juice of 1/2 lime

2-3 kaffir lime leaves, frozen or dried

2 cups baby bok choy, beans, chopped red, green, or yellow bell pepper, eggplant sliced

1 large carrot, sliced

1 cup broccoli

1 cup cauliflower

1 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped if the leaves are large (for garnish)

canola or other vegetable oil for stir-frying
- Place 1/2 can of the coconut milk plus all other sauce ingredients in a food processor. Process well.

- Add 2 Tbsp. oil in a large frying pan over medium to high heat. Add the curry paste and gently stir-fry for 1 minute, or until fragrant.

- Add the other 1/2 can of coconut milk and stir. Now add those vegetables that require the longest cooking time, such as the carrots and cauliflower. Stir well and bring to a simmering boil. Turn down heat to medium, cover, and cook for 5 minutes.

- Add the second can of coconut milk plus the bell pepper(s), japanese eggplant, and beans. Stir well and cover, allowing to cook for another 5 minutes.

- Lastly, add the broccoli and bok choy/Chinese cabbage. Stir well and cook for another 2 minutes, or until broccoli is bright green and cabbage has softened.

- Remove from heat. If the sauce is too bitter, add 1-2 Tbsp. more brown sugar, and/or 1 Tbsp more soy sauce

- Sprinkle with basil

This tastes very good with coconut rice. It has a good serving of all color vegetable as well!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Pav Bhajji

The “5 A Day The Color Way” slogan reminds us to include a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables in the daily diet. Try to consume fruits and vegetables from the five color groups every day. The color groups are RED, ORANGE/YELLOW, GREEN, BLUE/PURPLE and WHITE. Each of the color has its own implication and benefit. Some people I talk to agree but complain about the choice/availability. Below are a few examples that come on top of our head and what we normally consume. Just ensure that they are all in your food:
RED - Tomatoes, Beetroot, Red Bell Pepper, Raddish, Cranberries, Pomegranates, Rasberry, Red Apple, Straberry, Red Grapes, Water Melon
ORANGE/YELLOW - Carrot, Pumpkin, Corn, Yellow Bell Pepper, Cantaloupe, Apricots, Lemon, Mango, Orange, Peach, Persimmons, Pineapple
GREEN - Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Zuchini, Green Leaves, Cabbage, Cucumber, Beans, Okra, Peas, Watrercress, Avocados, Green Apple, Green Grape, Kiwi
BLUE/PURPLE - Eggplant, Purple Cabbage, Blackberries, Blueberries, PLums, Purple Grapes, Raisins
WHITE - Cauliflower, Onion, Potato, Banana

One of the Indian snack that covers all the colors for the day is PAV BHAJJI. The beauty of this dish is that you could modify it to suite your pallete. The recipe i mention below is just a guideline, Please feel free to make your own additions/deletions/modifications.

- Cauliflower - cut into florets about a handfull
- Potatoes - cut into large chunks about a handfull
- Green, Red, Yellow Bell Pepper - sliced about a handfull each
- Green Peas (fresh or frozen) - about a handfull
- Corn (fresh or frozen) - about a handfull
- Beetroot - cut to small pieces about a handfull
- Broccoli - cut to florets about a handfull
- Tomato puree - 1/2 cup
- Onions chopped - equal quantity as that of tomato
- ginger-garlic paste - 1 tablespoon
- salt to taste, zeera powder, corriander powder, dhanya powder, garam masala, turmeric, chilli powder, kasoori methi, pudhina powder , aamchoor powder
- optional 1 tbsp Everest pav-bhaji masala (or more to taste)
- 2-3 tbsp butter
- oil - 2 tbsp
1. Boil all the vegetable in the pressure cooker till tender with a little salt and set aside
2. Heat oil in a deep saucepan; saute onions, ginger-garlic paste and some green pepper
3. Add tomato puree and all the spices. Saute for a few minutes
4. Add cooked veggies, pav-bhaji masala and smash them all to a coarse paste on the pan before saute
5. Add water as required. Check taste and add the butter. Simmer for 10-15 minutes to really get the flavors to blend together.
Serve with:
1. Fry the bread in some butter first. For an even spicier result, make masala pav...melt some butter in a skillet. Sprinkle zeera and pav bhaji masala in it, then fry the bread in this spicy butter until sizzling and golden.
2. Finely sliced/ chopped onions, minced cilantro and wedges of lemon.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Health Drink - Almond Milk/ Badam Kheer

Almonds mistakenly were considered too fatty to be a healthy snack! but research has shown otherwise. 90% of the fats in almonds are unsaturated, it is high in protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin E, and antioxidants.
Almonds are considered to be the healthiest and most nutritious nuts of all. Owing to this fact it is termed as the source of well-balanced food. Almonds make a great snack, as they reduce the blood sugar levels and free radicals from the body. Health & Nutrition Benefits of Eating Almonds include but not limited to:
- Help in the prevention of cancer, as they are low in saturated fat
- Contain protective nutrients like calcium and magnesium, which assist strengthening of bones
- Contains phyotchemicals, which protect against cardiovascular diseases and cancer
- Reduces the risk of heart attack
- Help in checking blood cholesterol levels
- Contain lots of fiber, which is good for the system
- Contain folic acid, which is believed to reduce levels of homocystein, the amino acid thought to contribute to the buildup of fatty plaque in the arteries
- Assist in controlling diabetes, by lowering blood sugar after meals
- Provide essential anti-oxidants and help in the clean up of the free-radicals in the body

Badam kheer or a health drink made of almond and milk has been my favourite ever since childhood. My mom used to make it frequently considering its health benefits. It enjoyed it most during the summer months when i got back from school.

Ingredients: makes 4 glasses

Almonds 40
Milk 4 glasses
Ghee/clarified butter 2 tsp
Saffron 3-4 strands or 1 pinch
Sugar 12 spoons
Saara pappu (telugu) chironji (hindi) 3 tbsp


1. Soak almonds in water overnight and peel the skin out
2. Puree almonds along with half glass milk in the blender
3. Bring the remaining milk to boil in the mean time
4. Add almond paste to the milk and keep stirring constantly till the raw smell goes. This might take 8-10 mins
5. Add sugar, stir well, turn stove off and then put in the saffron
6. In a saucepan heat ghee to roast saarapappu (pieces of cachew if desired). Mix this to the badam kheer

This could be consumed either warm or cold. It satys good in the refridgerator for upto 3-4 days.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What do you think about Angels and Demons movie?

Director: Ron Howard
Based on Novel: Angels and Demons
Novel Author: Dan Brown
Starring: Tom Hanks, Ayelet Zurer
"Though the novel "Angels and Demons" was published beore the "Da Vinci Code", much of the hype was attached to the latter. Apparently I read the Da Vinci Code first too. I was hoping that this be made to the movie taking care about the controvercies though... However it opened with international criticism.
The "Angels and Demons" movie though adhrered to the story line of the best seller by Dan Brown, did have certain fine modification to suit the big screen better. The tone of the movie was mostly narrative, with the narrator being none other than the the Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon.
“Angels & Demons” boldly insists that science and religion must coexist. The irony is Langdon a no favorite of the Holy rescues the belief of the Holy! Dan Brown has a good style in spinning stories with continuity, fiction and irony. Langdon was long denied access to the Vatican archives which would aid to his research on Illuminati; he is summoned to Rome to assess, a deadly threat involving antimatter - created by a scientist/holy man to only prove that science and religion co-exist. His foster daughter Vittoria Vetra who specialized in “bioentanglement physics” plays role with Langdon to help diffuse the anti-matter.
Some interesting scenes which was dipicted very well in the movie were the Vatican Archives episodes; following the Illuminati trail - so the most recent qualified member to the Illuminati would be Prof. Langon! ; The cardinals in the conclave; the anti-matter at the stroke of mid-night - Let there be light... The background music was stunning all through the movie keeping up the suspense.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Health Drink - Carrot Milk

Once spring comes, it brings along with it all kinds of flowers, fruits and veggies:) I normally buy 2 carrots during my weekly grocery shopping. The other day my husband got a 10 lb bag full of carrots from Costco!! I was wondering what on earth would I do with so many carrots. Then I started trying out all the carrot recipes I knew and had heard off. However, after 10 days I had hardly used up half the stock. I preferred making khajar ka halwa, carrot milk, carrot curd pachadi, as these utilize more carrots. When I was discussing this with my cousin Sunitha, she gave me her version of carrot milk recipe. So taking the best of hers and mine here is what I have.


Makes 4 cups

Carrots shredded 1 cup
Milk 2.5 cups
Cardamom powdered 1 pod
Sugar 5 spoons
Saffron 3-4 flakes
Cashew/almond paste (optional)

- Soak 2 cashews and 4 almonds overnight and grind to a paste with milk (after removing skin) - keep aside
- Boil carrots and puree
- Boil milk, turn to simmer add cardamom powder and saffron
- Let it stand for 5 minutes, then add the carrot puree and nut paste
- Boil the mixture together for abt 10 mins
- Add sugar
Drink either warm or refrigerate till cold and consume. It tastes better when cold after a bright sunny day. This drink is very healthy with the vitamin A + fiber from carrots, calcium from milk and one of the two "good" fats responsible for lowering LDL cholesterol in Almonds.

My half Cross-Stitch project - Srirangam Gopuram

Tiruchirappalli, is situated on the banks of the river Cauvery in Tamil Nadu. It was a citadel of the early Cholas and later the Pallavas. This is supported by archaeological evidence and ancient literatures. Trichy has a fine tradition built around its history.
My mother hails from this temple city. As is customary in our family, the married women go to their mom's place for delivery. Thereby, i was blessed to be born in Tricurapally, Tamil Nadu.

Srirangam, a pilgrim centre is located in an island 7 kms from Tiruchy. This island is surrounded by the waters of river Cauveri and its tributary Kollidam. The largest Gopuram in the first wall on the southern side was completed as recently as 1987, and now measures 73m. Besides the Rajagopuram there are 20 beautifully decorated gopurams in the temple complex that spreads over 600 acres.
I used to visit my grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins every year during my summer vacation as a kid. It mostly used to be for December vacations, as Trichy has only 3 seasons viz. hot hotter hottest. Jokes apart, many a time this period coincides with the Vaikunta Ekadesi - hence the trip. It is believed that on this day who ever passes thur the Lord's Inner Sanctum, of the temple will get direct entry into heaven. During this period, Lord Ranganatha is adorned is an armor of diamonds, pearls, rubys, emralds, etc and is brought to the Thousand-Pillared Hall from the sanctum. This gate is opened just once in a year. On this day it is auspicious to even be present on the sands of Tricy. I used to prefer to the sands of Trichy part, than the rush inside the temple! Irrespective we make multiple trips to the temple via the cauvery bridge. The bridge used to be a perfect visual treat - the breeze from the river, the colorful rajagopuram amidst lush green neem and coconut palms, orange sun raising, the ancient church tower, paddy fields with white pelicans flying across..... what a beauty - man and nature complimenting each other!!

The Trichy Innovative Ladies United Needlework Association – TILUNA members wanted to put this rich culture on the Guinness Book of Records as well as do some social act. They narrowed down to help giving vocational training to the children who finished special aid schools.

The plan of action to was, to make a half cross stitch of the tallest temple tower of Srirangam on a 36x26 inch canvas. The aim was to make a Record of 15,000 sq ft on a single theme of the Gopuram. Now they are into the Limca book of records as well.

My eldest aunt has made more than 11 Gopuram half cross-stitch before we lost her for ever. My mom and many other cousins/ aunts have also contributed to this amazing cause. I used to be quite busy with my work, so never gave it a hand. In 2008 i was in Bay Area. I had managed my to spare some time to stitch and soon I fell in love with it. The art form uses 10 brilliant colors to make this master-piece. The finished master piece looks like the one here.
In 2010, the TILUNA held an exhibition to announce the art pieces for sale! I pray that the entry of this art piece to peoples home, bring them a sense of the culture we hail from as well as help the spastic kids!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Masala Vada - Gara

Nothing could beat Masala Vada - an evergreen evening snack. It is a nutritious, cripsy South Indian delicacy made with 3 different kind of dals. Accompaniments though not really necessary due to its balanced taste, could include tomato ketchup, corriender chutney, mint chutney...

A good idea to remove excess oil from the vada would be to blot it with tissue paper once the golden crisp is removed from the pan.
Makes 6 vadas

Urud dal 2 tbsp
Moong dal 2 tbsp
Toor dal 2 tbsp
Green chilli 2
Onion chopped small 1/4
Rice flour 1 spoon
asofortidia, salt, coriander

- Soak the three dals in water for 40 minutes
- Beat to a coarse mixture in mixie along with chillis
- Add salt, asofortidia, onion, coriender, rice flour
- Heat oil in pan, make round flat dumplings with the mixture and put in oil till golden brown

Art of Living - Sudarshana Kriya

Art of Living - Sudarshana Kriya

Sudarshan Kriya, is a powerful breathing technique taught at the Art of Living (AOL) centers. This unique rhythmical breathing process is said to have been revealed to his Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar during a spell of silent meditation that he had gone into for 10 days in 1982.

One of the breath's behavior; for every feeling or emotion there is a corresponding rhythm in the breath. Sudarshan Kriya incorporates specific natural rhythms of breath to release stress and bring the mind to the present moment. Thereby allows a healthy and pleasant mind to produce chemical messengers, which travel from the nervous system to the immune system, resulting in the overall betterment of both body and mind. It is preceded by Ujjayi Pranayam and Bhastrika.

Different people have different experiences at varied times while doing the long kriya. It is best that only an AOL teacher impart the kriya. The long kriya is felicitated at AOL follow-up workshops all over the world free of cost. Schedule for the same could be obtained from

Benefits I felt on doing Sudarshan Kriya

Clears mind of various unwanted thoughts
Feel good factor
Reduced stress and tension
Brings as un-intentional smile, relaxing facial muscles

The practice is instrumental in creating a sense of harmony in the body, mind and spirit. After the practice, there is a feeling of calm and centeredness, with a clearer vision of the world and self.

Health Benefits
As a pilot study, biochemists at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) studied the effect of Sudarshan Kriya on the antioxidant status of individuals. A team lead by Dr Neeta Singh and Dr Vinod Kochupillai, tested the blood of 42 persons who were practicing Sudarshan Kriya for over 1 year and compared it with the blood of 42 healthy individuals who were not practicing any form of physical exercise or stress management techniques.
What the researchers found was thought provoking. Clearly, the cellular activity between the two groups was different. The Kriya practitioners had a better antioxidant status at the enzyme and the gene level. Also they had less DNA damage and cell aging. Though biochemical science and spirituality may seem miles apart, it is heartening to see ancient practices and modern science converging to live a richer and healthier life.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cruise Vacation - The Caribbean Islands

The Caribbean Islands - Cruise Vacation

Finally the most awaited evening arrived! Mom, dad and me were scheduled to go on a 10-day cruise vacation. This was happening after so many years of patience, is a must say

Another reason to keep my excitement high was, on the way to Orlando, Florida we were going to meet my good old friend Srividya and her hubby Suyodhan for a whole long day! They were newly wed and I guess we were going to be their first guests. Well, we were all set, packing was done as I wound up my hour long call with Anitha. Mom and dad were driven to my apartment at Pleasanton by a friendly uncle Pramode. Sayed, our regular cab driver, was ready to drive us down to San Fransisco Airport.

Five hours later we landed at Atlanta. Srividya had booked a cab to pick us up at the airport. Unfortunately he did not turn up, later on calling him we realized that his wife had an emergency and he couldn’t come. Now started our adventure at the new place – dad was trying to figure out some means of transport to Birmingham, abt 2.5 hrs drive from Atlanta. Varied conversations with the locals out there led us to one cab, the driver agreed to give us a ride.

I dozed off while on way. I sleep like a baby on all the rides/flights. I generally do not prefer short flights, by the time I get cozy with my sleep, it is time to land L. Whom do I see at the corner of the road? Oh my goodness, it was srividya… I jumped out of the car as soon as it stopped. I was seeing her after 6 months. Srividya was my first good friend to be married. She made poori with potato sabji and channa masala. Ought to admit, she acquired skills of a talented cook, lucky suyodhan. They narrated us stories of the 6 grand special utensil with which she cooks her vegetables, how it retained the heat even after simmering the stove, consultation with the chemistry expert, her mom!!! Heheheh.

Woke up fresh after a power nap, to the aromas of mouth-watering lunch along with egg masala especially for me. We poised for couple of pictures at her place and then Suyodhan drove us to Atlanta, to take our next flight to Orlando.

A chauffer driven limousine drove us to Holiday Inn, our tired bones got some rest. A fresh bath and continental breakfast gave us all the energy to start our cruise at Port Canaveral.

The Mariner of the Seas - last of Royal Caribbean's five Voyager-Class vessels looked magnificent. It stood in front of us with utter royalty. The Mariner of the Seas is the 2nd largest boat in the world. She was going to be our home for the next 7 days! She had over 14 decks; our accommodation was in the 11th deck overlooking the deep blue ocean. Shops, Restaurants, bars, jewelries, heated pools, Jacuzzis, sports, kids play area, mini golf, ice-skating, rock climbing, basket ball, theatres (savoy), boutiques, general stores…. so on and so forth were all housed in to entertain us guests. We dint enjoy the formal dining at “Rhapsody in Blue” even though it was gorgeous and looked like the dining place of the Titanic, this was more due to the extreme formal proceedings, limited knowledge on topics to discuss (mostly non IT) and choice of veggie food.

Windjammer was our favorite; we used to dine in here day in and day out. Sandeep Arora the Manager, took very good care of us! The Promanade on the 5th deck kept giving away cheese Pizzas continuously as much as you can eat. I had more slices here, than the sum of all the pizzas I had over 25 years of my life. As a matter of fact, I even started enjoying the soft yogurt cones on the 5th deck. Generally I do not consume ice-creams, cold yogurts, cold drinks, etc due to dentistry issues, but only exceptions rules in the boat!! There were photographers on the move constantly, capturing beautiful pictures and portraits of guests - of course for big bucks….

A day of sailing and exploration led us to Labaadee Island, Haiti. This was an awesome bright green island with mostly rather all colored people. The natives make beautiful handicrafts for a living. Labaadee is Royal Carrebean’s private island, bought and maintained for the pleasure of its visitors. Numerous water sports were at our reach here, such as parasailing, snorkeling, banana boats, water scooters, and scuba diving…. For our entertainment a classical Labadee dance and music show was hosted. This was audible till our room on the boat.

In the evening we departed from Labadee, a night of sailing was required to see Ocho Rios, Jamaica!!! Ocho Rios is a Spanish name. After the Spanish left Jamaica, the British took over and ruled, so your guess is correct - left hand drive!!! This place had similarities with Southern Sri Lanka, sluggish with respect to its agriculture, infrastructure, and people…. We boarded a bus and it drove through The Duns River falls, Dolphin’s Parade and then the shopping center. Surprisingly most of the shopkeepers were none other than our own gujju’s expect for 1 whom we met was a Hyderabadi Reddy.

Just before our cruise vacation there were consecutive hurricane hits, the worst being Hurricane Katrina. We had to deviate from the schedule and skip The Cayman Island as it had severe effects. This influenced the captain of our ship to reduce the average speed from 24 knots to 14 knots. Couzumel, Mexico was scheduled for Day 5. Couzumel looked so much like Mumbai, India. A part of its interesting history beauty is dedicated to the Mayan ruins. Here too we had a whole list of water sports at our reach.

Being vegetarians and non-swimmers, we thought we would have less to do on a cruise. To prove us wrong there were so many activities. One water activity we 3 could enjoy without getting wet, yet being in close proximity with the sea life was the submarine. A small boat took us to the middle of the sea, a submarine was waiting for us. We entered and took our seat near the window. We went 106 feet below the water level with stops at various depths to survey the beauty. For 45 minutes we were been maneuvered to explore the under water splendor.

Day 6, now I started feeling gloomy thinking about the return to the real world L. I began to sense the boat was going faster than usual though it wasn’t… went to Deck 5 to take the last bytes of my favorite cheese pizza, yogurt cone and balcony view. Wow, what I saw here is un-forgettable. Nature is marvelous, there was a dark black cloud pouring rain on the left side, bright dry sunshine on the right. The rain on the left was approaching the boat and in 2 mins reached us….

Phew!! L Woke up – I had never felt heavier, had my bath, dragged myself up to WindJammer to bid Sandeep a good bye… Went to the balcony where the bright florida sun shone, Oops, I realized my favourite Ray Ban sunglasses were missing. It happened to get misplaced during a photo session the previous night. What more did I need to make me feel worse at that point of time. I was feeling so low. Our boat reached the Port of Call, Port Canaveral. We went through customs clearance check, the officers had a tough time with some handwritten items in my Indian passports. Took a taxi to the Florida airport, flew to Oakland, California via Salt Lake City.

Now back to the Real World. This is the most impressive holiday of my life is a must say – Thanks Dad!