Stuffed Kuzhi Paniyaram, My Tribute To The Ravishing Rekha

The Foodie Monday Blog Hop has a very unique and interesting theme this week – Filmi Foodies! All of us food bloggers are paying tribute to Bollywood, in their own way, via food of course! 🙂

I decided to make Stuffed Kuzhi Paniyaram for the challenge, my tribute to the ravishing and hugely talented Rekha ji. Both these South Indian classics have stood the test of time – both never seem to get old! Like Rekha ji, this Stuffed Kuzhi Paniyaram might look simple from the outside, but it packs in quite a sucker punch!

Do check out the recipe, just in on my photo blog!

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The Crowning Of Miss South India 2017, Crowne Plaza, Bangalore

Last weekend, I was honoured to be invited to the crowning of the Femina Miss South India 2017, at Crowne Plaza, Bangalore. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the star-studded event, and watched agog as one beautiful nymph after another walked the ramp, wearing one marvellous creation after another.

Do check out my detailed blog post about the event, here. Thank you!

The 2016 Year-End Meme

It is the end of the year, and I am in introspection mode. Hence, this post.

  1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before? 
  • I took up a short meditation class with The Art Of Living group. I haven’t been following anything they told me to follow, post the class, but it sure gave me an insight into yoga and meditation. I hope to go deeper into this in 2017!
  • I delved deeper into the world of food blogging. I began to understand different types of ingredients and cooking processes better, started experimenting a lot more. I started attending various food-related events, and started getting to know the food bloggers’ community in Bangalore a bit better.
  • We celebrated the kid’s second birthday.
  • I experimented with a part-time job, quit after a short stint, and became a full-time stay-at-home mother.
  • We visited Calcutta, a place I had always dreamt of visiting! We got to be a part of the Kali Pooja celebrations there, something that I will always cherish.
  • We visited the Sai Baba temple at Shirdi, another place that I had always wanted to visit.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next?

The only two ‘sort of’ resolutions I had as 2016 began were: To lose weight and begin to lead a healthier lifestyle, and to figure out what I wanted to do with my time post baby.

I would say I haven’t succeeded at all, with respect to the first resolution. Today, I am even more heavy than I was at the start of 2016. 😦

With respect to the second resolution, I have been moderately successful. I still haven’t figured out exactly what I should do, but I can say I am on the way. 2016 saw me experimenting with a few different things, trying to understand myself better as a person. May 2017 make me see light in this regard!

Now, for 2017, I have the same two resolutions plus three new ones.

1. I want to seriously lose weight and move on to a healthier lifestyle (which is at odds with the food blogging that I do, to be honest).

2. I also want to delve deeper into myself and find out something that would keep me satisfied and productively occupied, without having to compromise on my time with Bubboo.

3. Moreover, I want to devote time, money, energy and attention to fulfilling those little dreams of mine, like travelling to a place on my bucket list or buying something that has always been on my mind.

4. I want to work on bringing Bubboo up really, really well – do what it takes for that. Not that I am not doing that already, but that is a large life area I’d like to dedicate more focus on in 2017.

5. Finish all those pending tasks that I desperately need to get around to doing. They have been pending for ever. Create a passport for Bubboo, for example, and get Aadhaar cards for us done, things of that sort. Hopefully, the house and our lives should run more smoothly once we get around to doing this.

3. What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

I would say there are a whole lot of moments from 2016 that will stay in my memory forever. Little moments doing silly things with Bubboo, for instance, or attending my first event as a food blogger.

4. What was your biggest achievement of the year? 

I began to accept myself the way I am, began getting comfortable with myself, began understanding myself a whole lot better.

5. What was your biggest failure? 

I failed at keeping stress at bay. I failed at keeping mommy guilt at bay. I failed at keeping my weight under control. I We failed at maintaining a spic-and-span house.

6. Did you suffer illness? 

Yes, I did, off and on. Let’s just say 2016 wasn’t my best year, as far as health was concerned. In fact, I have been appalled at just how vulnerable my health is, in 2016.

7. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? 

To be honest, my family’s. We were at loggerheads through most of the year. This is one thing I hope will improve in 2017.

8. Where did most of your money go? 

Baby stuff, the running of the house

9. What did you get really, really, really excited about? 

Nothing really, really, really excites me these days – there is always something or the other on my mind, things/events have been happening at the last minute, and I have been unable to really soak in the feeling that I am about to do something exciting.

That said, I was happy about attending the food-related events I attended, celebrating the bub’s second birthday, and visiting Calcutta.

10. What song will always remind you of 2016?

This song. I loved the wealth of meaning in it. And, yes, I heard this song only in 2016!

11. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder? 

I think I am at the same level.

12. What do you wish you’d done more of? 

Been more mindful of the voice of my heart, maintained a better home, maintained my weight, and paid more attention to my health in general.

13. What do you wish you’d done less of? 

Eat junk food.

12. Did you fall in love in 2016? 

Yes. I began to love myself more in 2016, I would say.

13. What/Who was your greatest musical discovery? 

To be honest, we haven’t been listening to much music at all. There has hardly been any music playing at home for the last 2 years, which does make me really sad. I can’t say I made any new musical discovery in 2016, except for the Mohabbat Hai Yeh, Jee Huzoori Nahin song I mentioned earlier.

14. What did you want and get? 

Time at home, with the bub.

15. What did you want and not get?

Peace of mind

16. What was your favourite film of this year? 

I didn’t watch many movies in 2016, but I caught up with some good ones that I had missed while living under a rock after childbirth. 🙂 Of these, I loved PK, Ki & Ka, and Piku.

17. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? 

I turned 34 this year. I had a mostly blah birthday – I got my periods the same day, I remember, and the hubby was working. The OH and I fought over some silly thing. We then went out for an Italian dinner, and the bub behaved – that was the only bright spot of the day. Oh, and my mom made me some awesome gajar ka halwa, just like the old days, and that totally, totally cheered me up!

18. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? 

Losing weight, for sure.

19. What kept you sane?

Blogging and cooking.

20. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013. 

I’ll tell you more than one!

  • If you love something about yourself, your life or the people around you, acknowledge it. Be grateful.
  • Keep doing the things that nurture you.
  • It is okay to put yourself first, if you aren’t harming anyone else in the process, that is.
  • Believe in yourself before you try to get others to believe in you.
  • Acceptance is important, but make sure you aren’t complacent. If there’s something about your situation that you would like to change, work on it.

21. Which new places did you visit in 2016? 

Shirdi. Calcutta. I saw Madras with new eyes, too.

22. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Dil dhoondhta hai phir wahi fursat ke raat din

That’s it for now, folks!

How has 2016 been for you? Do take up this meme and reflect on the year gone by!

*********

This is not the first time I have taken up this end-of-year introspective meme. Check out my previous versions of the very same survey.

In 2012

In 2013

Recos, please!

I realise I have been living under a rock for the last two years, at least as far as Bollywood is concerned. Not that I was a great Bollywood fanatic before the said two years, before the motherhood phase of my life started, but at least I was then a wee bit more aware of the goings-on in the industry, the ins and outs of celebrities, good movies and good songs. Now, the situation is that I can’t even recognise any actor, I can’t hum along to any song, and I don’t remember the last movie I saw. I don’t like this situation, especially the lack of music part.

So, this is a plea for help. Please get me in touch with the good kind of Bollywood gossip, celebrities I should keep an eye out for, movies I should be seeing and the music I absolutely shouldn’t miss out on. Anything from the last two years or so is perfectly fine. I hope you’ll play along, and shower me with a whole lot of recommendations. Thank you in anticipation of your co-operation!

PS: You could even tell me about exceptionally good Tamil/ English songs/ movies!

More randomness

~  The sister-in-law and her kids and the brothers-in-law are expected to come to our house for dinner tomorrow. The menu is ready, and the raw materials have been assembled. I am looking forward to the cooking and the camaraderie!

~  I have started reading Sandeepa Mukherjee Datta‘s Bong Mom’s Cookbook, because I didn’t seem to be making any progress with The Twentieth Wife. I am almost about to finish it, actually. So far, it has been a nice, light read.  and I am glad I picked it up. The book inspires me to try my hand at some of the Bengali recipes in it, too.

~ I am on a foodie memoir-reading spree, it seems. All I seem to be interested in reading these days is warm, personal and nostalgic food-based memoirs. Any suggestions in this regard are welcome!

~ Bangalore has grown a tad cooler over the last few days, with sporadic rains and cloudy skies. It is still hot and sweaty, but I think the weather is better than it was last month or so. I am craving for the old Bangalore weather that I so used to love!

~ I ordered a couple of books from Amazon last week, in separate installments. I am amazed at their efficiency and quality of deliveries. Lovely!

~  Considering that my cellphone had become little more than a useless dabba, we got myself a new Nokia phone yesterday. It is a touchscreen (my first!), and has internet, et al. The technologically challenged me has been breathless trying to understand how to use the phone to just type messages and make calls. I have no clue about how to use the various features of the phone, but I have been experimenting and learning. I am all excited to learn how to use Whatsapp. 🙂 It takes 21 days to form a habit, they say. Hmm, well, let’s see.

~  I have, finally, purged my bookshelf. I have separated the books that I want to give away, sell as second-hand, and keep with myself. It has been a liberating experience so far, once you get past the initial I-don’t-want-to-do-it stuff. My bookshelf looks much better now, and I am happy to have finally reduced some clutter in my life.

~ I have been reading up on Bangalore for some articles for work, and have been enlightened. There was so much about the city that I didn’t know, there is so much about it that I still don’t know, so much that I need to see and explore. I am looking forward to it.

~ I made lauki ke kofte the other day, and they turned out delicious! Recipe coming up on blog soon. Don’t expect the authentic version of the kofte, do expect my own home-grown version. 🙂

~  Have you ever walked on a path strewn with eucalyptus leaves after a shower of rain? You should totally try it out whenever you get a chance, I say. The leaves smell heavenly when they get wet!

~ I have still not watched Queen. I so want to! Have you?

~ I watched part of the Govinda-Sanjay Dutt-starrer Haseena Maan Jaayegi a few days ago. Brainless, yes, but it felt good to watch something like that after a long, long, long time.

Today….

….. I have fresh mushrooms waiting in my refrigerator to be cooked. I picked them up from Auchan over the weekend. Mushroom masala for dinner today with rotis, it looks like!

….. I realised how something as simple as going for a walk religiously, every morning and evening, has the potential to turn into a social struggle. I didn’t sign up for that when I signed up to get fitter, to take good care of my health! Gah!

….. I am more in love with Will Schwalbe’s The End Of Your Life Book Club than I was yesterday. It is such a lovely book that I don’t want to finish it – I read it in short bursts and then spend some time savouring and reflecting over the words I read. I am totally in love with Will Schwalbe’s mother – I want to live like she did, I want to die the way she did.

….. my house is full of Nagpur oranges, thanks to an orange-crazy OH. I am tempted to make some orange rasam, which I remember reading about on a food blog, once upon a time. I need to look for the recipe!

….. I am craving for a girl friend who really gets me, who can read the expressions on my face, write long e-mails to me, discuss the colour of nail polishes and TV serials with me, talk to me about books, bring over food for me when I don’t want to cook, and pull me out for dinners and shows and movies. Someone with whom I can be the silly, dumb old fool without fear of judgement. Someone who will tell me what’s best for me, on my face.

…. I want to watch Ram Leela. On the big screen. Not for the story, but for the Gujarat connection.

…. I want to get my hands on a lot of books, different from the ones I usually read. I don’t care if they are bestsellers or not, but each one of them should be a sensitive read and move something within me.

….. I realised the immense power a hug or a cuddle can have, all over again. A heartfelt hug can really cure blues and make you feel more happy, more able to face up to the world.

…. I am craving for street food from Gujarat, thanks to posts like this and this. Wait, it’s not only the food. I am craving for a trip to Gujarat, to get up close and personal with the place once again. For the sounds, smells and sights of the place. I thought I would never feel like going back home again, after my parents shifted to Bangalore – after all, what used to be my house there is no longer my home, there’ll be no eager faces waiting for me at the airport or railway station. But then, the heart lives in a world all of its own. Turns out, I do want to go to Gujarat again, and show the OH the place that I lived in, from my eyes.

…. I realise, for the umpteenth time, that I haven’t really explored Bangalore the way I thought I would when I shifted here. I want to see the nooks and corners of the city, see them from the eyes of an outsider, discover new eateries and gardens that I haven’t been to earlier.

…. I am in love with my pink nail polish. Yes, GB, I finally got it! 🙂

…. I realised how much I love the locality that I live in. Not for the first time.

…. I am in love with Maharani jhumkas. I want!

…. I realised that Christmas is just around the corner. One of my favourite festivals, and I have begun to feel the festive fervour in the air. Lovely!

…. I am tempted to join the December Photo-a-Day Challenge, but am worried about all the space the pictures will occupy on my blog. I have a lot more picture posts and travel stories to write! A Facebook page, maybe? What say you?

…. I realised it has been oh-so-long since I wrote a short story or a poem. I seem to have lost the ability to do that. 😦

…. I realised I also seem to have lost the ability to see the beauty of simple things in life, to think of them and to write about them. I begin with a thought that is simple and sweet, but I end up converting it into something complicated and unable to be explained. Oh, well, maybe I need a break.

The men who wove magic with their words

He went on reciting one nazm after the other, and the audience listened, enraptured. People could not get enough of him, hanging on to his every word. His words, read out from pieces of paper arranged on the small table before him, spun a web of magic around the audience. The audience became one big cocoon, lost to the rest of the world, oblivious of its surroundings. Questions were asked, the audience wanting to know the story behind each line that he recited.

I am talking about poet and author Gulzarji, at his poetry reading at the 2013 Bangalore Literature Festival, Aao Phir Nazm Kahein, which I had the good fortune of attending yesterday. THE Gulzar. Along with the rest of the audience, I was awed by his words, too, falling in love with the man and his poetry all over again, for the umpteenth time. Who wouldn’t be spell-bound if the man who wrote classics like ‘Mera kuch saamaan‘ had written little nuggets of poetry exclusively for them, reciting them in his story-teller’s voice?

Gulzarji is sheer genius, and, yesterday, he proved that all over again. I was struck dumb by his imagination. Beautiful little moments, lamhe, from everyday life; a man coming across his old crush years later in the street, by accident; the poems of a poet sitting in a semi-circle around him, conversing with him about whether they made him or he made them – these are just a little sample of the poems Gulzarji went on to recite during the session.

Words like ‘pilpile‘ and ‘baingani‘ are not what you come across in the course of routine conversation today, and, knowing this, he was sweet enough to explain to the audience what they meant and how they came about to be used in his poems. His wit and kindness were evident in his quick repartees to audience questions, as was his naughtiness. Dil toh bachcha hai ji, anyone?

Joining him for the poetry reading session was famed Bollywood lyricist Prasoon Joshi, who created magic of his own with his nazms. Then he went on to surprise the audience by singing a few of his own creations in an amazingly melodious and beautiful, clear voice. This prompted a comment from Gulzarji that the younger man gave him a complex, with his many talents and his ability to recite poems from memory.

The camaraderie between the two men was very much evident. Gulzarji enthusiastically applauded each nazm recited by Prasoon, nudging him gently to repeat certain lines, and to share ‘that poem from the Jaipur literary festival’ and ‘that poem which he had loved so much’.

The audience showered their love and respect on both the poets, especially Gulzarji, which was very, very obvious. It was, obvious, too, in the huge queue of people who wanted to catch a moment with Gulzarji and get their books signed by him. Gulzarji obliged everyone with his trademark special smile.

Together, Gulzarji and Prasoon gave me a morning that I will cherish for a long, long time to come. Honestly, you had to be there at the event to understand the charisma that the two exuded and the spells that they wove.

I came away from the session refreshed, awed and totally in love, clutching to my chest a precious addition to my home library.

The Liebster award

I am both glad and humbled to receive the Liebster award for my blog, from Aditto. I am glad he thinks my blog is worthy of mention, worthy of reading. I am humbled because I think my blog posts are mostly the rambles of my mind as I go about making sense of life and the world around me. It is heartening to know that other people are finding solace, sense and fellowship in these ramblings.

Thank you for this, Aditto! 🙂

Now, to receive this award, I need to state 11 facts about myself. Here goes:

1. I have been reading Sam’s Letters To Jennifer, a book that I picked up at the Daryagunj book market when I was in Delhi. I am sorry to say I haven’t been having a great time reading the book. 😦

2. I am totally in love with the side plaits that I have seen many Indian actresses sporting of late. I wish I could have the kind of hair that you need to do such a plait!

3. At the moment, I am craving for some proper North Indian subzi with roti, something that is not too oily or spicy, but tasty.

4. I made savoury muffins the other day. They didn’t taste all that great, but it sure was a joy to peek into the oven and see them rise!

5. I have been toying with the idea of trying out this lemon olive cake with lemon glaze. I hope I get to it soon!

6. I met a couple of blog friends over the last few days. It is always nice to see the face and hear the voice behind the words I have been reading!

7. I can’t wait for Saturday to come! Phew, it is so difficult getting back to work after a mid-week break. (We had a holiday yesterday for Janmasthami.)

8. I happened to listen to Zumi Zumi recently on the cellphone of one of the OH’s colleagues. The tune has been stuck in my head ever since!

9. I watched Chennai Express with the OH. A totally dumb movie, stereotypical to the core, but I still liked the comedy!

10. I tried Nestle’s Alpino chocolates recently. They are supposed to be competing against Ferrero Rocher, but I don’t think they are as good. They are not too bad, either.

11. I just finished reading Nicolas Barreau’s The Ingredients Of Love. I enjoyed reading the book, even though it is not the most perfect of stories.

I also need to answer 11 questions.

1. What is that one moment that defined you?
A. There are many such moments that made me realise what I am. Difficult to pinpoint one!

2. The best thing someone has ever said to you?
A. ‘I am so glad you are my wife!’

3. If you weren’t doing what you you’re doing currently, what would see yourself as?
A. I would be a magazine writer or a freelance travel writer.

4. The best place you’ve travelled to, and the best memory associated to it.
A. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to some great places. I have good and not-so-good memories associated with every place I have ever visited. Difficult to choose one, but I’ll try. My first trip to Ooty with the OH after marriage was simply magical. I could just live in that moment forever.

5. How did you deal with your first heart break?
A. I realised that life had to go on, and that I was better off without a person who broke my heart. Later, I was thankful for it because it opened me to a much better, more passionate life.

6. What is the worst piece of advice you’ve given someone?
A. I have advised the OH to visit a lot of bad restaurants. Totally disappointing experiences, those! But then, you never know how something really is until you yourself try it out, right?

7. If you could choose your name, what would you call yourself?
A. I chose to call myself ‘The Girl Next Door’.

8. Have you ever done something stupid, and absolutely loved it? Temme about it.
A. Yes! On our recent trip to Chikkamagalooru, I developed a bad cold and cough, body ache and was on the verge of developing a fever. It was a bad idea to get into the freezing cold water of a waterfall that we had the pleasure of visiting there, but I did. It turned out to be an absolutely amazing experience!

9. What is the worst Youtube video of yours, that became a viral sensation among your friends?
A. I don’t have any Youtube videos.

10. Have you ever considered shaving your head, just for kicks? Would you?
A. I haven’t yet. I might, sometime. You never know.

11. Favorite way to waste time?
A. Random internet surfing, sitting in my balcony doing nothing.

I also need to pass on this award to 11 of my favourite bloggers, but I am going to skip that step. Most bloggers I read have received this award already, and it is incredibly difficult to choose a few favourites out of the blogs that I read frequently. Each one of them is special to me. So, if you are on my blogroll, consider yourself awarded!

Music magic

You don’t really need to understand a piece of music in order to enjoy it, shake your body to it, and fall in love with it. That is the magic of music – it is not bound by language. I have always felt so, and this post of Visha’s only served to reaffirm my faith in this belief. She had listed a couple of songs that she doesn’t understand fully, but still loves due to the feelings they invoke in her. I gave them a hear too, and loved a couple of them too, in spite of the fact that I didn’t understand them, too.

Over the years, I have heard several such songs and liked them enough to play repeatedly. Here is my list:

1.         Ekla cholo re

I am a big, big, big fan of the lyrics. They are so full of meaning, and so very inspiring. A wonderful hear! I love the rendition of Ekla cholo re in Kahaani, too. Big B’s baritone makes the song all the more richer.

2.         Teri looni looni si

I liked this Punjabi song the instant I heard it, while watching Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana. Very sweet, very melodious.

3.          Habibi dah

I love the slow, seductive tone of Arabic songs – well, in case of most of them. Arabic music is no stranger to Bollywood and Hindi music videos. I don’t know how I first came upon this song – a mix of Hindi and Arabic – but I can say it has been a favourite for quite a few years.

4.         Las ketchup

I first heard The Ketchup Song when I was in college, and loved its swaying, gay, peppy tone. I don’t understand one word of this Spanish song, but that hasn’t stopped me from playing it several times over since I first discovered it.

5.         Contradanza

I don’t ‘get’ instrumental music the way some people do. This piece of violin music, however, speaks to me like no other. It is super happy and chirpy, and never fails to uplift my spirits whenever I listen to it.

6.         Holiya mein ude re gulaal

This song used to be a regular at our school dance programmes, and I always loved its fast beats. I am confused about whether it is Bhojpuri or Rajasthani.

7.         Anjan ki sitti

This girl pointed me to this song only recently, and it was an instant hit with the OH and me. I love the image this sweetly sung Rajasthani folk song conjures up in my mind – that of a shy Rajasthani village belle travelling for the first time on a train (to meet her beloved?), scared, but excited.

8.         Gangnam style

I am sure Gangnam style needs no introduction. After all, the song was all the rage in 2012. I am not a fan of the dance in the video or Psy’s antics, but I somehow like listening to this song again and again. Maybe, again, it is the peppiness of it!

9.         Waka waka

No, I am not a great lover of football or anything – in fact, I hardly follow sports – but this song has been a part of my life since 2010. I love the video, too, just as much as the song. This one for Africa!

10.       Macarena

Macarena, again, is no stranger to Hindi film music. While I do like those Hindi adaptations, I like this original version even better.

Do share your thoughts about these songs, too.

Do you have any such songs on your playlist, ones you do not understand, but still love hearing? Please share the links in the comments.