A Toast to my favorite month

I am a summer girl. Yes – a true summer girl. Floral dresses, short shorts, tanks, beaches and a lot of margaritas!!!

Growing up in Bombay ,the only seasons we make friends with are summer and the monsoons. When everyone complained about the heat, I wasn’t far behind in joining hands for sharing the woes. But it dint take me too long to understand what people meant when they said that we realize the value of things in life, when they are not around. Well what can I say? – I moved to Boston.
Boston!! Where, the 4 months of summer is a luxury. It is treasured and pampered like the only girl born to a family of boys, after eons. When the winter season in Bombay is a complete stranger , moving to Boston meant not only befriending it – but actually moving in with it, because it lives with you for almost 3/4th part of the year !!

Living in New England has definitely taught me to appreciate the summers – but somewhere deep down I also have a secret affair with the winters here. It’s that kind of affair that you don’t talk about openly, like cheating with the winters on your beloved summers. But, there is something just so magical about the winters here that you can’t help but fall in love with them.

The early sunsets are notoriously blamed for making the days depressing. I beg to defer here .I feel the short nights and the long days call for the festive lights to be turned on soon. There is certain crispness in the air at all times of the day. When you have spent 21 years in Bombay, where snow is only seen in the movies, experiencing snow first hand, can bring out the child in you, every single time.

December itself is just so festive - a few days after celebrations of Diwali and a nice long weekend for Thanksgiving, enters my most favorite month of the year!!
The month of Christmas, Christmas holidays, the beautifully lit balconies, homes adorned with Christmas trees , the new year’s eve and ofcourse my birthday. Every single day is a festival and calls for celebrations.

Although we traditionally don’t celebrate Christmas, the trimming and decorating the Christmas tree has been a tradition at home right from the time I was a little girl. Waking up to find gifts placed under the tree, is something I look forward to every year. After coming to Boston, just walking down the Boston Commons, the huge Christmas tree visible from any where in the park, carols playing and the kids skating makes me so oblivious to the cold weather.

The first snow is oh so special – re-instills my love for the winters. Waking up to a white blanket that spreads across everything is a treat. I still remember my first snow in Boston, when I called up home and squealed like a little girl screaming into the phone – “its Snowing mom” and walked shamelessly with my mouth open trying to get the snow flakes in my mouth.

I shall not deny that there are times when I complain and crib and cry over the unbearable cold and the winds and times when I pray for the summers to come back – but the snow, these beautiful short days, the lights - this season will always hold a special place in my heart .


Officially - obsessed !!!

This time I shall spare the weather from bearing the brunt of my blame for my bout of baking. If something can make me almost skip my workout and rush home – it has got to be something serious. So now its official – I am obsessed with being in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes !!! :)

I couldn't wait to get home today evening and inspite of having a splitting headache,couldn't resist making what I had been planning since last 2 days,
to be precise when Mr.A goofed up “yet again” (not even getting into that right now !!! ) in getting stuff from the grocery store …huh !!! There are very few times when I ask A to pick something up from the grocery store on his way back home - so this time when I asked him to pick some bananas,he ended up getting half a dozen mushy , over-ripe ones.

Just looking at them , I knew they found their way to my house for a reason. They had a higher calling – a final goal to be part of something very delectable and satisfying – a banana bread :)

Its amazing that the preparation time for this bread is so less and needs so little work to be done and doesn't even result in too many dishes in the sink .Another great part of this recipe was that I made it without using eggs.

Ingredients :
3 ripe bananas
1 ½ all purpose flour
½ cup butter
2 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup sugar
1 ½ tbsp milk
½ cup chocolate chips
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Method :
Preheat the oven to 325F and prepare loaf pan ( 8in * 4 in )
Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla essence
Add the flour,milk,baking powder,baking soda and salt and mix properly
Mash bananas and add in the batter
Stir in the chocolate chips
Pour the batter in the pan and bake for 60 min.
Test with toothpick till it comes out clean.

I also made pani-puri today evening and with no excuse stuffed myself with banana bread ,then pani puri and then again banana bread . Cant wait to have it for breakfast tomorrow morning :)


Admitting to a simple pleasure

The Boston weather sure has been playing games with me. It looks like a cumulative conspiracy of the entire world including nature to stop me from going to my beloved mall.Living in Boston for the last 5 years ,has taught me that it is best to keep three fundamentals in my car at all times: an umbrella, an ice scraper, and a beach towel. I swear that I've used all three in one week, too. Last weekend was pouring incessantly, whereas this weekend called for such a heat wave , that the insides of the car were blazing and you couldn't’t step in unless someone turns on the A/c for atleast 10 hours before you want to step in.

Ok !!! I may be exaggerating, but it was so hot – that I just dint feel like doing anything but sit inside – watch a move, read a book… and COOK :)

Right from the day one of my colleagues' mentioned , that in the movie Amélie – breaking the caramelized layer of sugar on top of a crème brule is considered one of life’s simplest pleasures – I have been dying to make it and try it myself.

And since the time I opened my kitchen doors to eggs , there is a whole new variety of things that are waiting to be made.

If I may say, then Crème Brulee is one of the most easiest deserts I’ve ever made and the outcome is … you have to try it to know :)

Here goes the recipe ( courtesy Ohad's Recipe Blog )

.2 cups heavy cream
.1 Vanilla bean, split
.¼ cup sugar
.4 egg yolks

.Preheat oven to 300ºF
.Pour the cream into a small pot. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the cream. Add the two bean halves into the cream
.Heat the cream over medium heat, bring to a boil. Let cool a little.
.Whisk the egg yolks and the sugar until the yolks turn light yellow.
.Combine (Carefully) the cream and the egg yolks and mix. Do not whip.
.Boil water in a pot
.Place the ramekins in the baking dish and pour the boiling water in the baking dish – as much to cover atleast till 3/4th of the height of the ramekins
.Now, pour the mixture in the ramekins
.Bake for 45 minutes
.Let it cool for sometime and then put in the refrigerator for atleast 2 hours.
.Before serving : sprinkle sugar on top and caramelize with a burner.

(Disclaimer!!! I have to give some credits here to A for I am still hypocritical and not open to using eggs myself,my affair with the oven still continues where it touches me only when hot enough to leave love-bites on my hands and the burner was such a cool tool - that A was adamant on caramelizing the sugar himself )

Now I am definitely not of those people who believe in simple living and simple pleasures don't really mean much to me as much as my obsession with labels do. But I have to admit that the final product of this experience of making the crème brulee – which is -warm on top and cool on the inside – hard on top and soft and wobbly on the inside – almost gave me a high !!! Cracking the top layer of the sugar gives you such a pleasure – simple and unbelievable.

And to go give company the crème brulee, I made telepathic dahi vadas ( I say telepathic because more often than not – my mom and I crave for the same things and before I could ask her for a recipe, I see one in my mailbox )


When you’re happy and you know …

Weekend… isn’t this is the only motivation for dragging ourselves through the daily monotonous chores of life – home-work-home and the same routine again.
Now, I personally don’t feel the same (well, there are some exceptions always) – but that’s the general consensus that I have gathered. When you wake up on a weekend, you have an entire 2 days of just chilling out planned out.

Today,when I woke up, I just knew that today is a day to be made special. And talking about special, the first thing that comes to my mind is go to my “second” home – the mall :) But , since the weather Gods weren’t so supportive of my shopping plans, I decided to do the next best thing that gives me immense satisfaction – cooking !!!

Now, if you are wondering what was the occasion for having a special day – I’d come up with a hundred lame ones but the most genuine one being – do we need occasions to celebrate ? :)

So I decided to bake a cake and have a lovely spread of dinner to go with it.
As much as I am intrigued and in love with the whole concept of baking, I am equally intimidated too. More often than not, my Betty Crocker( cake-mix) ones also don’t come out as well. But this time, I gathered the spunk to bake one - right from scratch. I scoured through all my recipe books and goggled furiously to get something meant for a novice like me.

Finally, I zeroed down on a recipe for …hold your breath… Black Forest Cake!!!

I was so apprehensive in making this one, that I literally said a prayer before starting my mission: cake-from-scratch. But somewhere deep down I knew that my intent to have a celebrated day will not let anything jinx my mission.

And so I just did it …

Black Forest Cake: (adapted from multiple recipes available at )

2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 (20 ounce) cans pitted sour cherries
I banana
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups whipped cream

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease with Pam on all sides.
2.In a large bowl, combine flour, 2 cups sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, milk, oil, and 1 tablespoon vanilla; beat until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pans.
3.Bake for 35 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool layers in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Loosen edges, and remove to racks to cool completely.
4.Drain cherries, reserving 1/2 cup juice. Combine reserved juice, cherries, 1 cup sugar and cornstarch in a 2 quart saucepan. Cook over low heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Cool before using.
5.With a long knife, split each cake layer horizontally in half. Reserve 1 1/2 cups frosting for decorating cake; set aside. Gently brush loose crumbs off top and side of each cake layer with pasty brush or hands. To assemble, place one cake layer on cake plate. Spread with 1 cup frosting; top with 3/4 cup cherry topping. Top with second cake layer; repeat layers of frosting and cherry topping. Top with third layer. Frost side of cake. Tear the fourth layer and pat on frosting on sides.
Set a few cherries and bananas on the top layer.
6.Use the whipped cream to give different strokes of frosting.

A few things I shall change the next time I make this cake –
I am definitely replacing canned cherries with fresh ones and completely skipping the cherry juice,
I might add a little bit more milk, because the cake wasn’t as gooey as I would have loved it, buts that’s totally personal choice.

The funniest part of baking this cake was the hypocritical me. I am a vegetarian on paper – and only eat eggs in forms where it cannot be seen (e.g.: pancakes, cakes, cookies …) But when you bake a cake from scratch and you really wanna use egg – what do you do? Simply be hypocritical ;)
I asked A to pour the eggs in my cake-mixture and asked him to blend it, and I re-entered the kitchen only till all signs of eggs being ever used were gone.

I loved the cake, loved that it wasn’t too liquid or burnt. Loved the fact that I did not cringe on adding those extra layers of frosting and loved the fact that devoured almost half of it without feeling guilty.
After all – I was in a mood for celebration. Celebrations go hand in hand with calories!!! dont they ;)

To stick to my celebratory mood – I also made Cheesy stuffed tomatoes and Tri-layered stuffed capsicum.

Tomorrow definitely calls for an additional 30 min of workout, but for now I am just chilling out, celebrating with another slice of the scrumptious cake in bed :)


Generation Gap - what really defines and justifies it ???

I don’t know what or how many years define a generation gap. Is it the age difference between parents and kids, or the in vogue definition of the Gen-X and Gen-Y?
When I was a teen girl (ya… it’s been eons that was true), I heard my mom telling my dad to be more supportive of my never-ending phone calls and late nights and using generation gap as the defense mechanism to appease him.

But today, I see a whole new meaning of generations and thus the formation of meaningless generation gaps. My younger brother and I are just 4 years apart and I feel that he belongs to a completely different generation. He doesn’t spare a single opportunity to make me realize that we are generations apart.

What is it about the time that has passed between then and now that make things so different? Everyone everywhere seems to be talking about their time and the time now.
With the economy so dynamic, the fashion becoming family, and the fast moving technology, I would imagine the rate of a dinner dipping and soaring and the requirement of a bag from Fashion Street becoming a necessity from LV and that of a floppy disk changing to the saturated markets of iPods. But how did every change in life get to revolve around the passage of generation?

If ballroom dancing was the classical dance of the past time and I hate to admit that the “grind” is become the classical of today. With time moving forward, the strength in relations has started disintegrating and I can’t accept how people attribute the disintegrating relations to changing times. I also cannot accept how the different generations are claiming their own moral and cultural values.

Its fine that now not even the smallest village is immune from a coffee joint or the apparel industry is now booming with tatters called clothes. I’d call that moving forward and embracing change – but to attribute the misunderstandings between kids and parents, the friction between families, the negative mismatch of ideas at the work place and the disregard and disposal of values that have been laid down by the “generations” is definitely not justified- if given the support of generation gaps in defense.

People continue sulking about how times have changed from their time to now. I just don’t understand why this time couldn’t be theirs too. Times are really not changing, we are … aren’t we?


Statutory Warning : This addiction is not injurious to health

When I mentioned to one of my friends that I was working out while on vacation in India - I was taken aback by his reaction. He said just one word which dint even mean anything closer to what I was looking for. He said - DEPRESSING...yes just one word -depressing!

For starters - I fail to understand how can being religious about workouts be termed as depressing. I would have rather expected someone to say “wow - that's impressive" because the hell it is. To drag yourself out of the bed early in the morning when you are on vacation and snuggled under your favorite comforter in your own bed...your own room - it does take a lot of effort to get up and go to the gym. But fortunately for me - depressing as it may sound to anyone - working out is an obsession.

I hate to join the bandwagon of people where they claim to be obsessed about their morning coffee, or evening runs irrespective of weather - but cant deny it - I have climbed the train full of people where we carry an obsession to survive.
To some, my obsession for working out comes across as an act, or rather an act to overact … but who cares!!!

I am no fitness guru - and neither my diet nor my body can contradict that. I don't intend to give any lectures on eating right and workout regimes. I hog like crazy and eat sweets in my sleep and don’t have a Victoria Secrets model-body ( oooo how I wish :) ) body that would say something. But all I know is that working out is an important and inevitable part of my daily routine.

The rising heart rate – gives me a certain high. One of my workout-buddies tells me it’s the secretion of the hormone “dopamine” that pulls us back and back yet again to the gym. Could be!!! But I don’t believe in all that. The reason I go to the gym is because now it is a part of my system as much as brushing teeth first thing in the morning.

I am not anorexic and won’t starve myself to death if by some unfortunate reason I missed my workout – but now I would definitely be highly “depressed”. It’s an addiction – yes – and a good one.

People have innumerable excuses for not working out – the one I find most stupid and funny is – what if I stop going to the gym, I will put on weight. But my dear excuse-maker – why even let that happen in the first place. Just the way nothing can stop you from gorging on food – nothing should come in between you and your gym.
There’s a certain freshness you feel after a workout inspite of all that sweat. It’s also an amazing stress-buster. And if something that offers you all this and as a bonus helps you maintain that bod of yours – why run away from it?

May be I talk more than I actually workout… but I know these talks have always made people around me feel guilty and at the same time - motivated. No one around me can escape the sourness that comes innately from within me – when they try to “boast” that they have been slacking about working-out or have been too busy. I think they are rather lucky to have me in their company… atleast my sarcasm and ranting works in their favor .They have nothing to lose by listening to me – actually I take that back – all they will lose is lethargy, stress and those calories !!! :)


Brand Prostitution

It’s not the tallest tower in the world, or the artificially made palm islands that are still stuck with me. I am back from a vacation in Dubai and not sure what part of the city I shall be keeping with me for a long time – the super-cleanliness and the impressive management and architecture of the city OR the fake-brand markets.

I have expressed earlier my aversion for fake things, but what Dubai had in store is beyond my imagination. The city tour guide who was giving important exclusive information about Dubai – interesting facts, stories, tips about shopping and along with all that did mention about the “copy market”. Initially I dint realize what that would be – but when we entered the Gold Souk ( Gold Market) of Dubai – where on one hand Gold jewelery was ostentatiously displayed, on the other hand the fake business was in full force.

Instead of calling it business – I should rather call it as brand prostitution. Because the way it is conducted is no less than the prostitution we see in the movies.

Picture this - Men standing outside almost each and every shop and without making eye contact with you – they would go – bags? Purses? Watches? Louis Vuitton? Burberry? Prada? Oh my God!!! Out of curiosity Mom and I agreed to see their booty. Now the pimps as I’d prefer to call them don’t have their “stuff” displayed easily. We were taken through narrow streets and then to some dilapidated building whose elevator definitely was creepy. And taking us to the top floor of that building – a small room which was locked from the outside and the key is given to all these “pimps”.

Once we entered inside – the place was bustling with European and African tourists. But the stars of the show – all the walls were covered with purses from almost all designers – LV,Prada,Burberry, Dior,Fendi. Besides they had watches from Tag Heur, Rado, and Cartier… The pimps sell those as the “first replica: - whatever that is !!!

What’s more interesting is the designs these bags were in – some dint even have any resemblance to the original designs. Now for a person who is not a connoisseur of brands – these might come across as genuine. But a close look – and you see that a small thread is coming out or may be the inner-living is not leather . I saw various interesting creations at that shop. Some of which the LV designers couldn’t have come up by themselves either. But what does need a mention is the LV dustbin!!!

Almost every girl in Dubai had either a LV or a Prada or a Burberry. Now I know where it all came from ;)

I would never buy a fake – but one thing I couldn’t resist was the LV blanket that I saw at a general store near my hotel. The store owner dint even know it was the LV print…and was trying to prevent me from bargaining for the “flower-print” blanket.I eventually got the “red-LV-suede-blanket” at a verrrry reasonable unimaginable price. And for the record - I dont consider it fake - coz Louis Vuitton doesn't even have something like this especially in this red this is actually an original LV-print creation - ALLRIGHT ? :)

I have to say that Bombay is not far behind in the brand prostitution business. I saw something being openly sold in stores – that would probably make the late Louis Vuitton stir in his grave … LV Lingerie!!!


My Soul-mate

You are the only one who can make me fall in love with you over and over again- each time I see you. There is this amazing inexplicable quality about you that draws me towards you each time I go away.

My connection with you dates so long ago that I don’t even remember the time when we struck the chord. I’d rather not sit and count the number of years we have had this relationship as it will seem too meager. I sometimes feel that you know me more than I know myself and I say this with great reason. You have always molded yourself in ways to adjust to my moods and have come across in ways that have always made me open mouthedly realize how can someone be so embracing.

I have always had my tantrums and have compared you to others at times – only to feel guilty because there can be just no one like you. Some of my friends criticize you for various reasons … they sometimes don’t like the way you look or sometimes think that you are too much maintenance and very expensive to be with. But the funny part is- inspite of that, I know they love your company and moreover make great plans to be with you. That’s your charisma.

Coming back to us – we have spent so many intimate moments together that I don’t see anyone else I can ever be so close to. You have given me niches in you when I was sad and wanted solitude and were with me when I was highly exuberant and wanted to celebrate. But we have had our ups and downs too like any other relationship. I wouldn’t be too modest in saying this – you have given me a lot on one hand but have taken back as much from me too.

Today we have been separated by distance... by the decisions I have taken... but I know and almost everyone around me knows how much I love you. How difficult it is for me to be away from you. And how much I crave each day to come back to you...

But I know that it won’t be too long that we will us away now… for I know that being with you is what completes me... like a soul-mate.

So Bombay meri Jaan… we shall be soon together. Inshallah :)
As there is no one who can make me fall in love with oneself – just again and yet again!!!