Dec 29, 2014

Hot Chocolate – the gift of the Gods.

If there is one thing a cold winter evening is synonymous with, it has to be a steaming mug of hot chocolate. All of us have our special ways to enjoy hot chocolate, be it sprinkled with salt, some cinnamon powder, topped with cream, marshmallows, or many, many more combinations.

Or, you can enjoy hot chocolate with minimal ingredients. Let the pure notes of cocoa hit like a wave, wash your palate and soul with its soothing aromas and lull you into soporific contentment. Add to this a heart warming book, and a crackling fireplace, and the picture is complete.

It does help to know that cocoa has been shown to have multiple health benefits. The flavanols present in cocoa are responsible for initiating a complex set of chemical reactions. This lends several protective effects to the body, such as, improvement in endothelial function, (useful in keeping arteries healthy) improvement in platelet health and also exerts beneficial influence on blood pressure, blood lipids as well as insulin resistance. Research findings also point to the type of cocoa that has the maximum benefits. It is the dark chocolate which is most useful followed by cocoa powder.

Any wonder then, that liquid cocoa was called ‘Theo broma’ – the drink of the Gods? So, this winter, let’s raise a toast to this dark, alluring,  liquid which is a gift from the Gods themselves. Who are we to decline their Blessings!

Milk chocolate or white chocolate do not create any of these desired chemical changes in the body. So to derive the best advantage that cocoa has to offer, be sure to indulge in a small piece of the darkest chocolate you can find. Hey wait, does that mean you can eat chocolate daily? Yes and no. Yes to the darkest chocolate bar you can find. Best would be one with 70% or 80% cocoa. Yes to eating a small piece of this daily. How small? Well, about a thumb size piece is fine. No to eating uncontrolled amounts. No to a sugar overload from eating sweet chocolate. Cocoa does not have sugar, but chocolate has.  Remember this, while indulging.

If finding such a chocolate bar is not possible, despair not. Cocoa powder offers some of the advantages of dark chocolate. So go ahead and make yourself a mug of steaming hot cocoa to drink up.

At our home, we like hot chocolate made with just natural unsweetened cocoa powder. Some steamed milk to carry it off and sugar to sweeten the deal for the children. A teeny-weeny drop of vanilla extract to elevate the drink to heavens. Call me a purist, but any cream added seems to take away from delivering that punch. Any other added flavour a deterrent to enjoying pure cocoa bliss. This is how we nurse our favourite winter beverage.

How do you down yours? I would love to hear from all of you. Do write in with your favourite recipes of hot chocolate.

Care to share a mug of hot chocolate with me?


  • Contains lactose from milk. People with lactose intolerance can substitute almond or soya milk instead of dairy milk in this recipe.
  • Does NOT contain gluten. I used Hershey’s Natural Unsweetened Cocoa powder. This product does not have gluten. Check labels if you are using any other cocoa powder or drinking chocolate.

Preparation Time – 2 minutes, Cooking Time – 5 minutes, Serves – 2.

You Need

Cookware – 2 Small saucepans, spoon, 2 mugs to serve


  1. 2 cups skim milk
  2. 3-4 tsp Hershey’s Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  3. 1-2 tsp sugar. Use as per taste.
  4. 2 drops vanilla extract

Steamy, foamy hot chocolate


  1. Place the milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. In a different pan, add the cocoa powder and sugar. Stir to remove lumps. Tip in the vanilla extract.
  3. Pour in the boiling milk into the saucepan with cocoa+sugar mixture. Stir well with a spoon. If you want some theatrical action, you can mix the beverage by pouring the milk back and forth between the two saucepans as rapidly as you can. Without spilling, of course.
  4. Pour into 2 mugs, put your feet up and relax. Enjoy the steaming mug of hot ‘Theo-broma’.

Winter evenings and hot chocolate go together..

Dec 22, 2014

Potato and Sorakayi Kurma

An unusual combination of vegetables. Brought about by necessity. That and the early morning rush. I found just a few vegetables in the fridge and had to create some packed lunch out of these in 30 minutes. So here is how I managed to pull it off.

In case I need to ‘repeat this accidental success’, I may need a recipe the second time. So I am documenting it here. Also thought of sharing it with my friends: harried moms who have to churn out delicious food, in school lunch boxes every morning, that too in record time.

Aromatic Potato and Sorakayi Kurma


  • Does NOT contain lactose, gluten, nuts, soya, eggs.

You Need


Knife, chopping board, pressure cooker, saucepan


  1. 1 large potato
  2. 1 heaped cup diced lauki/sorakayi/bottle Gourd
  3. 1/4 cup diced carrot (optional)
  4. 1/4 cup fresh/frozen green peas
  5. 1 small onion
  6. 2 tomatoes OR 2 tsp tomato paste
  7. 1/2 tsp garlic paste
  8. 1/2 tsp Garam Masala Powder
  9. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  10. 1/4 tsp red chilli powder (optional)
  11. 1/2 tsp salt or more if needed
  12. 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  13. 1/4 tsp mustard seeds (optional)
  14. 1 tsp cooking oil


  1. Rinse, peel skin and chop/dice vegetables(from 1 to 3) to similar size. Place along with peas directly in a small pressure cooker or in a suitable container inside a pressure cooker. Add 1/2 cup water, and cook for 2 whistles. Let cool on its own.
  2. While the veggies are cooking, set a sauce pan over flame. Heat oil, season with cumin and mustard seeds. (if using)
  3. Add finely chop onion. When it begins to brown, in a couple of minutes, add the garlic paste, let sizzle for minute. Keep stirring, lest it burns.
  4. Add in the tomato paste, the powders. Sprinkle a few tbsp of water. Stir and simmer for 4-5 minutes for all flavours to blend well.
  5. Combine the cooked vegetables (along with cooking water) and the simmering gravy. Check for salt and other seasonings. Mash the potato chunks roughly with the back of a ladle.
  6. When you have simmered this mixture for a couple of minutes, the kurma is ready. Can be packed along with rotis, bread or steamed rice for school lunch.
  7. TIP – If you find the gravy too salty or spicy, add quarter cup water, some chopped coriander leaves and squeeze half a lemon into it too. Hopefully you can retrieve it this way. Another way to salvage, is by adding another boiled potato to this gravy. But yes, you need time to boil another potato if you don’t have one handy.

Phulkas with Kurma for lunch

Lauki and peas doing a happy tango  

Dec 2, 2014

Peanut and Potato Salad

It is the season of peanut harvest in and around Bangalore. There is an interesting story around peanut harvest in our city.
Legend has it that a bull would roam over the fields every full moon night destroying the peanut crops. Flustered farmers offered their first harvest at the Bull temple and the roaming of the bull ceased!Local farmers offer their first crop to Nandi, the bull devotee of Lord Shiva at the Bull temple in Bangalore to this day. The temple vicinity wears a festive look during these two days. A village fair unfolds in the middle of the city. This annual fair is known as ‘Kadalekai Parishe’.
I love the earthy aroma of freshly dug up peanuts here. Call me biased, but the aroma and incredible, sweet, nutty flavours of peanuts that I buy from this fair every year beats all other. I cook the peanuts in their shells in salted water. All of us then gather around the steaming hot bowl of boiled peanuts, shell them and gobble them before some one else grabs it! Warm bonding  during chilly evenings over hot boiled peanuts!
Mostly I have no peanuts left over to include in any dish. However, I managed to make this peanut-potato salad from some that survived the onslaught. Even if the salad was made up from simple, readily available ingredients, it was bowl-scraping, finger-licking, slurp-worthy good. Ok, I’ll stop now.
I am documenting this recipe as much for myself as for sharing with all of you. Fresh seasonal ingredients. A good mix of crunch, soft, and crisp textures. A tongue tickling interplay of flavours. No fried ingredients. Healthy carbs and protein with a giant dose of fibre and vitamins. Do you need any more reasons? Just try it once. I am sure you’ll be hooked.
Peanut Potato salad served with baguette
  • Does NOT contain gluten, lactose, corn, soya, eggs.
  • Suitable for lactose or gluten intolerant people
  • Contains peanuts.
  • NOT SUITABLE for people with nut allergy.
Preparation time – 30 minutes + 30 minutes optional chilling time, Cooking Time – 30 minutes, Serves – 3-4.
You Need
Cookware - Pressure Cooker with 2 containers that fit into it, Metal/Glass Bowl, Colander/Salad spinner, Knife, Chopping Board
  1. 2 cups peanuts in their shells
  2. 2 medium potatoes, chopped with skin into quarters. 
  3. 3 heaped cups Iceberg/Romaine Lettuce
  4. 1 big Tomato
  5. 2 tsp salt
  6. 2-3 cups fresh water
  7. a big bowl of ice water
For Salad Dressing
  1. 2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  2. 1/2 a red onion
  3. 8-9 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive oil (EVOO)
  4. 2 generous pinches crushed black pepper
  5. 1/4 tsp salt
To Assemble
  1. Dunk the peanuts in shells into a huge bowl of water. Let it sit for a few minutes. Rub the shells vigorously with both hands to loosen the dirt on them. Drain the water and repeat with 2 more changes of water. You can omit this step if using shelled peanuts. Just rinse peanuts once in water is enough.
  2. Now place in a container, pour enough water to cover all the peanuts,  scatter 2 tsp salt over it. Place the rinsed and chopped potatoes also in another container. Place both containers in pressure cooker and pressure cook for 3 whistles.
  3. Rinse the lettuce first under tap water, then place in ice water.
  4. Peel and dice/slice the red onion. Place in a bowl, add 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar to it and let steep.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining vinegar, EVOO, salt and crushed pepper into an emulsion.
  6. Shell the peanuts and peel the potatoes. You can dice the potatoes into smaller size if you wish. Chop the tomato finely. Place all these together in a bowl.
  7. Drain the lettuce, use a salad spinner if you have one. Else just drain in a colander and shake it well. Tear up the large leaves into bite size ones by hand. Add to the other vegetables.
  8. Combine the onion and dressing from step 4 and 5. Drizzle over the salad vegetables. Mix well.
Combine the dressing with salad ingredients
The salad tastes best if allowed to chill for half an hour before serving. But, if you are in a hurry, just dig in and enjoy! We coupled it with 2 slices of warm toasted baguette for an after school snack.
A complete meal -warm toast and chilled salad

Nov 25, 2014

Cabbage and Carrot Thoran

Cabbage does grow all year round, but acquires its best flavours only in winter. Since cabbage is quite sweet and less pungent in these months, it is easy to include it in several dishes. I often make a cabbage soup in this chilly weather too. It actually tastes much better than we would imagine. None of the bitter, sulphurous, menacing notes to it – just some crisp sweetness and heart warming honesty. Well about the soup, later. About cabbage first.

Cabbage has most of the vitamins and minerals we need daily. It has a high content of vitamin B and C. Besides, it is also high in fibre, potassium as well as low in sodium. It is also a fair source of Omega 6 fatty acids. These point to it being an excellent vegetable for people with high blood pressure, or are pregnant, or suffering from constipation too. Cabbage has small amounts of an ‘anti nutrient’ called as ‘protease inhibitor’. This prevents proteins from being digested well in the body. Hence it is better to cook cabbage lightly and then eat. Cooking deactivates the inhibitors and improves digestion of the vegetable and the entire meal.

Stir frying cabbage is the best way to cook it. The vegetable is stripped of its anti nutrients through minimal cooking, yet, the vitamins lost by heating are reduced too. Adding carrots to this recipe is optional. I’ve just added them for extra colour.

Select cabbage that has a compact oblong head vs a flat-ish round shape. Also, if a smaller cabbage weighs more than a larger one, then you can be sure the smaller dense cabbage will taste better.


Cabbage Thoran


Now I’ll walk you through one traditional Kerala recipe. It is as simple as it gets. Thinly shredded cabbage is tossed in a seasoning of oil, mustard and curry leaves. It is salted, stir fried and finished off with fragrant coconut and green chillies. A worthy accompaniment to tangy spicy sambar or kadhi/ moar kuzhambu and steamed rice. Can be tweaked a little to work as side dish to bhakri or phulkas too.


Dal and Cabbage stir fry vying for attention


  • Does not contain egg, gluten, soya, corn, nuts, lactose or dairy.
  • Suitable for people with lactose intolerance or gluten sensitivity, or nut allergy.

Preparation Time – 15 minutes, Cooking Time – 15 minutes, Serves – 4.

You Need

Cookware – Knife, Cutting Board, Wok/Fry pan of about 4 litre capacity, metal spatula, mixer grinder,


  1. 1 whole cabbage weighing 800-1000gms
  2. 1/4 kg Orange/Red Carrots (optional)
  3. 2 tsp cooking oil
  4. 1 tsp salt
  5. 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  6. 1/2 tsp urad dal
  7. 10-12 curry leaves torn up
  8. 1/4 cup grated fresh coconut
  9. 2-4 green chillies depending on heat preference
  10. 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  11. 1-2 cloves garlic(optional)

To Assemble

  1. Remove outer bruised leaves of cabbage, if any, and shred/chop finely.
  2. Peel carrots and grate on the large hole of grater.
  3. Heat up oil in a wok. Season oil with mustard seeds and urad dal. Add curry leaves when the mustard crackles, and tip in the chopped vegetables.
  4. Stir fry over high heat for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of water, cover and let cook for 3-4 minutes. Open lid and mix well a couple of times in between for uniform cooking.
  5. Meanwhile, whizz the grated coconut with chillies, cumin, and garlic (if using) in a mixer to a coarse mixture. Do not add any water while grinding this.
  6. After 3-4 minutes, when the cabbage feels cooked through, yet retaining some crispness, add salt and then add the coconut mixture and fold through the stir fry well. Keep stirring over high heat, especially if using garlic, to eliminate raw odour. Remove from flame. Cover and let flavours mingle for 5-10 minutes.
  7. Serve warm with steamed rice, and tomato dal, or sambar, or kadhi. I served it with a ‘Basella greens’ and tomato dal and steamed rice.

The red chilli in the dal does not taste as sinister as it looks!

A complete meal

Nov 17, 2014

Roasted Brinjal Raita / Eggplant Raita / Roasted Eggplant Dip

The best meals are often the simplest ones. Those which can be rustled up with really few ingredients, in minimum time, and deliver high on nutrition, as well as satisfaction. Quick cooking=happy eating=content tummies.

This raita is one such recipe. Besides, the dish is versatile in that it can be used in many ways. The day I made it at home, we used it as raita, dip, as well as a substitute for mayo in sandwiches! So does it taste like baba ghanoush? Well, not quite. Tzatziki? well, maybe. Punjabi Baingan Bharta? mmm, not that either.

Why don’t we  just delve in and find out? Shall we?

Chilled bowl of smoky raita

The secret to an amazing brinjal raita lies in how it is smoked. While purists will tell you to rub some oil on the skin and roast on all sides over an open flame patiently turning it over and watching lest it char beyond recognition, i am going to let you in on a secret!

Just rinse the brinjal, wipe dry, slit into four long pieces, place in a microwave safe glass bowl and cook on the highest power for 6-7 minutes. Now take each piece and roast them individually over an open flame for just a minute per piece.  Dunk them in a bowl of cold water, peel the charred skin and reserve the pulp. This whole process takes less than 15 minutes. This gives the right amount of smokiness to the pulp without being overpowering. It also frees you up to attend to the rest of the meal while it cooks in the microwave. No need to tend to it constantly. Plus a total reduction in cooking time.

Now that I have simplified it for you, go ahead and make yourself some fragrant raita/dip/sandwich filling/meal by itself.

Come and eat me!


  • Does NOT contain gluten, nuts, corn, soya, eggs.
  • Has dairy in the form of skim milk curd (yoghurt). Usually tolerated by people with lactose intolerance.

Preparation Time – 15 minutes, Cooking time – 15 minutes, Serves – 4

You Need

Cookware – Knife, Cutting Board, Small Sauce pan / Tadka pan,  Bowl of 1 litre capacity.


  1. 1 Big Violet Brinjal/Eggplant weighing approximately 500gms
  2. 1 cup Fresh curd
  3. 1/2 tsp salt
  4. A pinch sugar
  5. 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  6. 1 small green chilli
  7. 1/4 tsp cooking oil
  8. a pinch of asafoetida powder
  9. a few curry leaves and coriander leaves for garnish – optional

To Assemble

  1. Prepare the brinjal/ aubergine/eggplant as described earlier. To repeat – wash, wipe dry, slit along length of brinjal into 3 pieces. cook for 6-7 minutes in microwave safe glass bowl at highest power. You may add 2-3 tbsp water to the bowl to help cook without shrinking. I find this method works best for me.
  2. After this, place each piece individually over an open small flame and char the skin. Dunk all of them into a bowl of cold water. When cool enough to handle, peel the skin off and reserve the pulp.
  3. Mash the pulp with potato masher/fork.
  4. Whip curd with sugar and salt. Add the mashed brinjal, and stir in well to combine. Raita just needs seasoning now.
  5. Prepare the seasoning by heating oil in a small sauce pan/tadka pan. Add mustard seeds, when they crackle, add slit green chilli, asafoetida powder. Switch off flame. Pour over the raita. Add the curry leaves and coriander leaves, if using, stir in and let it rest for few minutes.

Your delicious fragrant raita is ready! Serve with hot phulkas, paratha, bisi bele bhath, biryani, filling for sandwich, dip for crudites, wraps. Don’t want to make anything else? Just have it chilled. A bowlful. As it is.

Get me a bowl of this,quick!

Notes -

  • This method of cooking first and smoking next allows for a good desirable smokiness. Even agnostics of smoky flavours will find it appealing.
  • Do not omit the seasoning. It is crucial in bringing all the flavours together.
  • Some chilling will really help in elevating this simple creation. However, if you are in a hurry, don’t worry. Just dig in.

Nov 9, 2014

Chole Kachumber Salad

Hearty, nourishing, vibrant, colourful. These are the descriptions that come to my mind as I think of the salads we make often at our home. And I am talking about vegetarian salads here. No, we do not miss the meat in salads or in anything else for that matter. Actually nobody would.
If we know how to bring together a medley of textures, colours, aromas and flavours, we can create amazing fresh, healthy salads for ourselves with just about as few or as many ingredients.
Salads such as these can be rustled up and forked down with guilt-less relish. At any time of the day. As part of a meal. As a meal in itself. As a filler between meal times. As a post workout snack. As an after school snack. …
Which is why I stock some soaked and cooked beans such as mung, brown or green chana (varieties of chickpeas), rajma (red kidney beans) or lobia (black eyed beans) in my freezer. They come in handy to spruce up a salad like this one.
I am calling this as chole – kachumber salad. It also closely resembles ‘Balilah’, a salad from Middle Eastern or Moroccan cuisine which is centred around chickpeas too. Here is the recipe for my chole – kachumber  salad.
Luscious colourful salad
  • Does NOT contain lactose, soya, gluten, nuts.
Preparation Time* – 15-20 minutes + 30 minutes chilling, Cooking Time – nil, Serves – 4-6.
You Need
Cookware – Steel/glass mixing bowl, Knife, Grater
  1. 1 cup of cooked chickpeas/kabuli chana
  2. 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  3. 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  4. 1/2 cup diced/grated cucumber**
  5. 1/2 cup grated  carrots
  6. 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
  7. A few lettuce leaves torn by hand (optional)
  8. 1 tbsp chopped parsley OR 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  9. 1 tbsp lemon juice
  10. 1 tsp sesame oil
  11. Salt and pepper to season
To Assemble
  1. To make the dressing, mix salt, pepper, oil and lemon juice. Whisk well and set aside.
  2. Prepare all the vegetables as mentioned for the salad.
  3. **Peel and core the cucumber if you find it has big seeds. Then chop or grate as preferred.
  4. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, drizzle the seasoning. Add salt and pepper. Toss well.
  5. Chill for half an hour before serving.
* The preparation time is lesser only if you have cooked chana ready. Else, you may have to soak and cook ahead to use for the salad.  In that case, allow for 8 hours Soaking Time + 1 hour Cooking Time.
Single serve bowls of salad
High protein snack - chole kachumber salad

Nov 4, 2014

Mung Dal with Ash gourd

Often the food we crave for is simple, nourishing, soul satisfying food which we grew up with. Steamed rice and tempered dal is high on most people’s comfort food list. Especially when we are far away from home. Or returning to normal life after an illness. Or trying to renew the jaded palette. Or seeking a respite from a frenzied social life. Or even if we have no energy to cook and much less to venture out to eat!

Whatever may be your reason, there can be nothing easier to rustle up than a typical dal-chawal meal.(Steamed Rice+ seasoned Lentils) A meal that can be put together in as less than 30 minutes with just a handful of ingredients. If this meal also nourishes, is curative, soothing to the tummy, and alleviates gastric discomfort as well, then we do have a winner at hand, right?

Bowl of wholesome comfort

Allow me to introduce you to the humble Ash Gourd. Also known as Winter Melon, White Gourd, Wax Gourd. Quite underestimated, un-glamorous, under used vegetable in most cuisines. It is a creeper, grows easily, available at low cost through the year, cooks quickly, has a bunch of health benefits, and yet not included enough in daily meals.

In clinical studies, Ash Gourd is proven to soothe hyper acidity, heal stomach ulcers. It is used as a diuretic as well. Besides, this humble vegetable contributes plenty of easily digestible fibre, moisture. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels, so useful in treatment of diabetes and obesity. It packs less than 20 calories per 100gms. So it is a weight watcher’s delight. Do we really need any more reasons to add more of this unpretentious vegetable in our meal?

If you are a single person, cook this in bulk and freeze in single use portions for simple weeknight dinners. Or halve to serve 2-3 people. Works well with phulkas, brown rice or use some pita bread to mop it up too.

Simple meal in 30 minutes


  • Does NOT contain gluten, soya, egg, corn, lactose, nuts.
  • Suitable for gluten intolerance or lactose intolerant people or for people with nut allergy.

Preparation Time – 5 minutes, Cooking Time – 30 minutes, Serves – 4

You Need

Cookware – Pressure Cooker of minimum 3 litre capacity, Small Saucepan, Knife, cutting board


  1. 1 cup diced ash gourd
  2. 3/4 cup Mung Dal
  3. Pinch of turmeric powder
  4. 1 tsp Cooking Oil
  5. 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
  6. 1/4 cup finely diced Onions
  7. 1 Green chilli (optional)
  8. 1/2 tsp Salt

To Assemble

  1. Rinse the ash gourd, peel skin, remove seeds, dice into even sized pieces. 
  2. Rinse the Mung dal in 3-4 changes of water, place the dal and ash gourd  in a suitable container, add the pinch of turmeric, fill water up to cover contents. Pressure cook on high flame until first whistle, and for 5 minutes after that over a small flame. Switch off and let cool. Open the pressure cooker only after all the pressure has released. This should take about10 minutes. (In this interim, you could rinse your rice for the meal, and set it to cook over another burner. The rice will be done by the time you have tempered the dal.)
  3. Peel onion and dice them really fine. Slit the green chilli lengthwise.
  4. Add salt to dal and set to simmer.
  5. Add oil to a small saucepan, heat it, add cumin seeds. When they crackle, add slit chilli, onions and fry over high flame until just beginning to brown.
  6. Pour the fragrant seasonings over the dal. Switch off, cover and let flavours blend for a few minutes. You may remove the green chilli and then serve too. Or omit the chilli entirely.
  7. Serve with hot steamed rice and a salad.

Enjoy your comfort food

Mung dal with steamed rice and salad

Oct 21, 2014

Ragi Chocolate Laddu

Deepawali, the festival of lights, eagerly anticipated and celebrated throughout India, is here. There is so much excitement, happiness, festivities in the air. It is also fun to run around shopping for new clothes, gifts, fire crackers.

As with most festivals, the stories behind celebrating this festival too are several. Sri Krishna killed Narakasura on this Chaturdashi day. Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after His exile after killing Ravana and freeing Sita from his evil clutch.

Whatever be the legend, the common theme is the victory of good over evil. The assurance from Divinity that evil, cruelty, jealousy and hatred do not last long. That truth, goodness and virtuous living always triumphs. A very heartening reminder in a world where the opposite seems to be true. An assurance for those who believe. A great reason to celebrate. To meet up with family, close or extended. To renew friendships, to form new ones, to look forward with hope.

So here is wishing you happiness, good health, joy in your lives!

In continuation with my efforts at finding and documenting healthy recipes, I am very happy to share with you this new attempt of mine. The nutty aroma of roasted ragi combined with seductive cocoa, taken a notch festive with fragrant ghee all come together delightfully in this healthy dessert.

Rich, fragrant Ragi Laddus

Millets are quite the rage in the diet of every health conscious person and rightly so. They are packed with several nutrients, richer in calcium, fibre and other vitamins than grains like rice or wheat. Ragi, or Finger Millet forms the staple grain of a large part of rural India. Here is my shot at making a festive dish with this humble grain. A successful undertaking, even if I say so myself. This Diwali, when you dig into this dark, mysterious confection, you can feel a tad less guilty at indulging knowing that there is this super healthy millet at its base.

Dark, handsome laddus ready!


  • Does NOT contain gluten, lactose, egg, soya, peanuts, any nuts.
  • Suitable for people with gluten sensitivity, lactose intolerance, nut allergy.

EDITED – A reader expressed concern about using butter or ghee in this recipe for lactose intolerance. Usually ghee is digested even by people with lactose intolerance, since it is ‘fully clarified butter’, but if you are intolerant to ghee as well, do use margarine warmed in the same proportions. I have not used margarine myself, and am only suggesting it as an alternative.

Preparation time – 30 minutes, Cooking time – 5 minutes, Makes – 12 laddus


Cookware – Thick bottomed fry pan, Mixer grinder, Metal spatula, Small Saucepan.


  1. 1 heaped cup Ragi flour (I used store bought)
  2. 1 scant cup powdered sugar
  3. 1/4 cup cocoa powder (I used Hersheys)
  4. 1/2 tsp Vanilla essence
  5. 1/4 cup ghee (Can use melted butter too)


  1. Set a thick bottomed fry pan/ skillet on fire. Dry roast the ragi flour on medium heat stirring briskly all the time. This step removes the raw flavour of the flour and gives it a good nutty tone. 2-3 minutes later, you should sense a change in aroma. The flour is then ready.
  2. Switch off flame, add in cocoa powder, mix well with ladle. Also add the powdered sugar,  and vanilla essence, and mix in thoroughly. You could use a wire whisk to mix well too.
  3. Heat up the ghee over a low flame in a different small sauce pan. If using butter, heat a similar quantity of butter for such time until you find the butter slowly changing hue to a pale gold.
  4. Drizzle this hot ghee over the ragi-sugar mixture. Mix again with ladle, and when it is of bearable heat, grab a fistful and compress using fingers to a round ball shape. The laddu can be set aside to rest when it keeps its shape. It will harden on cooling. Finish off making laddus with the rest of the mixture. Halfway through, if you find the mixture cooling and the laddu does not shape well, then warm the flour mixture gently again to help shaping the laddus.
  5. Your delicious, laddu redolent of cocoa with a hint of vanilla is ready!

DSC_3959Happy Deepawali


Oct 16, 2014

Awadhi Food Festival @ Feast, Sheraton Bangalore

What’s in an Awadhi food festival for a vegetarian like me? This was my query when I was asked to review the Awadhi Food Festival running currently at Sheraton, Bangalore. After being assured that I would not suffer for lack of choices, I agreed, with residual misgivings though.
I need not have worried. The entire F&B team at Feast along with Visiting Chef M Rehman, had plenty in store for all – vegetarians and the non-vegetarians alike.
The Dal–Dalchini Shorba set a good expectation of what was to come. Delicately flavoured as a good shorba should be, with just that edge of cinnamon to whet the appetite. Starters followed soon enough. One with paneer and another with potato as main ingredients, finished to doneness in the tandoor. Good but not spectacular. However, the Veg Seekh Kabab was extremely well done. Fragrant, flaky, evocative of Nawabi cuisine. The Badam Doodh was refreshing, with ground almonds and notes of honey.
A basket of the amazingly fragrant Sheermal Roti and Awadhi Naan arrived. Hot, flaky, fragrant, they were delicious. It seemed a sacrilege to combine the roti with any other main dish. The Sheermal begged to be enjoyed as is.
Of the mains, I cannot talk enough about the merits of the Nawabi Baingan Bharta. While the greenish golden hue piqued my visual sensors, the sublime flavours had to be savoured to fully appreciate this masterpiece. Are you surprised that I mention elegant, sophisticated and brinjal in the same breath? Then you must try this Nawabi Baingan Bharta and you would not be! The Dal Makhani only shared its name with the famous Punjabi version. The texture, aroma were quite unique. Quite unlike any I’ve tasted so far. Another dal made with whole white urad was creamy and interesting too. The Paneer Begum Bahaar looked elegant but did not appeal to my palate. The Subz Dum Biryani was refined as well. Deft layering ensured it delivered wonderfully on flavours.
Chef RehmanNawabi Baingan Bharta
The Awadhi RepastSweet endings
Shahi Tukda and Anjeer Halwa were among the other Awadhi special desserts of the day. At the risk of sounding redundant, I have to mention that the Shahi Tukda was distinctive.
The Awadhi Food Festival is on till the 19th of October at Feast, Sheraton Bangalore. #sheratonbangalore This food festival runs along with the restaurant’s standard buffet. Coupled with the exemplary hospitality offered by staff of Sheraton, this royal feast will pamper all your senses. Be warned that all your weight loss plans will go for a royal toss. There is nothing in it for the calorie conscious. However, if you are in a mood for celebration or indulgence, would like to feel like a Nawab, do visit for this gustatory experience fit for the kings.
The Awadhi spread
Cheerful Ambience @ Feast

Oct 4, 2014

Sprouted Mung Bean Sagu

A sensible diet does not mean fasting for most part of the day. Rather it means eating smart, deriving maximum nutrition for every bite, making the right food choices. For vegetarians, a healthy diet also means an intelligent blend of cereals and proteins. You may ask why?

Egg is called a complete protein source because it contains all the 20 amino acids needed by the body.

Does that mean you lose out on the proteins if you follow a vegetarian or a vegan diet? NO!!

Nature has provided so much variety that we can easily make every meal a complete protein meal simply by smart pairing of a cereal and a legume. This is because, cereals and legumes have complementary amino acid profiles. In simple speak, cereals will supply the amino acids found missing in legumes and vice versa. By consuming both at the same meal, every time, we can compensate for the amino acids missing in each of these grains and make the meal a nourishing and strengthening one.

Power Breakfast - Idlis and Sprouts Sagu

Enter - a favourite South Indian breakfast. Rava Idlis are made with wheat semolina unlike usual idlis which are made from a rice based batter. Rava Idlis are always paired with Potato Sagu in homes and restaurants in Bangalore. In Tamil Nadu or other Southern states, the dish is usually paired with a mixed vegetable ‘kurma’, or chutney. All these dishes are great spicy accompaniments to the bland, soft rava idli.

However, I wanted to take this meal a notch up in the nutrition ladder. Looking for a protein ingredient to accompany the ‘rava’, I felt the best one would be mung bean sprouts. Several reasons for this – mung beans are a pantry staple in most homes, they sprout with little effort, are quick cooking, and lend character to any meal. Still, with great trepidation, I waited to see the reaction on my family’s faces when I served this up for breakfast. One look at them all, and I was satisfied we have a winner at hand.

I urge all of you to try this out too. Enjoy it for breakfast, brunch or even dinner. And let me know your thoughts. Here is how I made our weekend breakfast.


  • Contains gluten from rava. NOT suitable for celiacs, or people with gluten sensitivity.
  • Contains buttermilk. Usually suitable for people with lactose intolerance.
  • Does NOT contain egg, corn, soya, nuts. Suitable for people with nut allergy.

Preparation Time – 30 minutes, Cooking Time – 30 minutes, Serves – 4-6.


Cookware – Idli steamer, Pressure Cooker, Mixer Grinder, Sauce Pan


For the Rava Idlis – I used an Instant Mix of Soulfull Rava Idli Mix. This was part of the goodies we received at the IFBM. Quite fresh and convenient. Mix the contents of the packet with enough sour buttermilk to make a thick pouring batter. Grease idli moulds, pour in batter and steam in a pressure cooker/idli steamer for 10-12 minutes until done.

Spongy soft Rava Idlis

For the Mung Bean Sprout Sagu

  1. 1 heaped cup Mung Bean Sprouts
  2. 1/2 cup finely chopped Onions
  3. 1/2 cup diced Tomatoes
  4. 1 tsp Ginger garlic Paste OR make a paste of a thumb size ginger piece and 2 cloves garlic
  5. 2-4 green chillies depending on your heat preference
  6. 1 tbsp khus khus (poppy seeds) soaked in hot water for half an hour
  7. 2 tbsp fresh grated coconut
  8. 1/4 cup roughly chopped green coriander leaves with stem
  9. 1/2 tsp salt
  10. 1 tsp Cooking Oil
  11. 1/4 tsp Mustard seeds
  12. 1/4 tsp Cumin seeds

To Assemble

  1. Set the khus khus to soak in 1/4 cup very hot water.
  2. Rinse the sprouts, place in bowl, add 1/2 cup water and pressure cook for 2 whistles.
  3. Rinse, dice, prepare all vegetables as mentioned in ingredient list.
  4. Grind these ingredients into a smooth paste – khus, fresh coconut, green chillies, fresh coriander leaves, ginger and garlic. You can add some water to help grind too.
  5. Set a sauce pan over heat, add oil, tip in mustard and cumin to season.
  6. When they crackle, add the onions, fry till soft, then add tomatoes. Add salt, fry till tomatoes are pulpy.
  7. Pour in the cooked sprouts, add the ground paste, mix well, and simmer for 5 minutes. Do not boil on high heat. Add 1/2cup water to thin down if needed. We want a liquid dipping consistency. Check for salt. When the sagu is well blended, remove to serving bowl and enjoy with hot steaming rava idlis.

Enjoy hot breakfast with a view

Bowl of fragrant sagu

Sep 24, 2014

The Tastiest Lentil Stew

I have finally found my tastiest lentil stew. Also the most versatile. Also adaptable to any cuisine. Also really quick to make, and totally slurp-worthy. Vegan to boot. As usual, such great discoveries happen by serendipity. For long, I had been drooling over the hearty bean chillis that many folks make. For long I’ve been toying with the idea of a chilli with an Indian flavour. For long, I’ve been dreaming of making a meal of a hearty soup-ish stew. For long, ....OK, I’ll stop now.

Dinner in a bowl

I had some leftovers to be used up. In a crazy moment of devil-may-care, I just poured some things into a pot and seasoned them with fragrant fried onion, a couple of green chillies to notch up the heat, and finished off with some aromatic chopped coriander.

You could make the same stew at least three ways. Use a seasoning of oregano, cumin powder, chipotle peppers, flat leaf parsley, and topped with Greek yoghurt. Or dress with Sriracha, chopped spring onions, and drizzle some sesame oil on top. Or you could go the Indian Garam Masala route seasoning with fennel seeds, a couple of green chillies if you like, top with fried onions, chopped coriander and if in a indulgent mood, some fresh cream or butter as well. Did I not tell you this is the most versatile?

Tasty Lentil Stew

These are the ingredients I used. You could change the ingredients if you wish, but the flavours and textures will differ accordingly.


  • Does NOT contain gluten, soya, peanuts, other nuts, corn, yeast, egg or dairy.
  • Suitable for gluten and lactose intolerant people.
  • Also suitable for people with nut allergy.

Preparation Time – 20 minutes, Cooking Time – 30 minutes, Serves – 4 – 6 depending on whether it is your main meal or as an entree.


Cookware – 2-3 litre capacity Pressure cooker, mixer grinder, knife, cutting board, Small fry pan


  1. 1/2 cup Tuvar Dal
  2. 1/4 cup Chana Dal
  3. 1/4 cup Pearl Barley
  4. 2 heaped cups of chopped Lauki / Bottle Gourd
  5. 3 ripe large tomatoes
  6. 1/4 cup chopped carrot
  7. 2 cloves peeled garlic
  8. 1/2 inch piece ginger
  9. 3/4 tsp salt
  10. 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  11. 1 tsp Cooking Oil
  12. 1/4 cup finely chopped Onion
  13. 3 green chillies (optional)
  14. 1/4 tsp Mustard seeds
  15. 1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds


  1. Rinse, peel bottle gourd, and chop into 1 cm squares. Rinse, peel and chop carrot similarly. Peel the ginger, garlic. Leave them whole.
  2. Place the Dals and the pearl barley inside your pressure cooker directly or in a vessel that fits inside the cooker. Rinse the dals once,drain the water, then add the chopped vegetables, peeled ginger and garlic, and the tomatoes. Top with water to cover the contents, (approx double volume of water) and pressure cook for 3 whistles. Set aside for pressure to release on its own.
  3. Once you open the pressure cooker, remove the vegetables from the top to a mixer jar, leaving the pulses inside. Discard only the ginger piece. Whizz the rest in a mixer grinder to a coarse-ish paste. Return the paste to the dals+barley.
  4. Add salt, and simmer over a very low flame for 10 minutes until the stew is thick, flavours blended well.
  5. In a separate small fry pan, add the oil, heat it up, add the mustard, cumin, let crackle, add chopped onions, green chillies if using. Sauté the onions until they are light brown, or for longer if you wish. Pour over the simmering stew, stir the seasonings in and cover immediately. Let the stew rest for half an hour to allow for flavours to mingle.

Serve warm just by itself, or with a corn muffin or with a salad with herb dressing. Else, you could also top it with some fried chips, add a dollop of Greek yoghurt, and enjoy.

Or serve the Indian way. Pour some stew into a bowl, drizzle with some green chutney and sweet chutney, top with finely chopped onions, scatter some fine ‘sev’ over and serve.

Whichever way you choose to indulge, this dish is extremely tasty, incorporates several grains, has loads of vegetables, makes a meal by itself or is a worthy accompaniment to any meal.

Healthy, filling Lentil Stew

Sep 20, 2014

Stir fried Bitter Gourd–Nothing Bitter About It

Is it really possible? Can bitter gourd turn sweet? Bitter gourd cannot become sweet, but with this recipe, you will convert the haters into lovers. If you are a lover of the vegetable already, then this recipe is sure to seal your love affair with it for life.

Stir Fried Bitter Gourd

The first step to a successful stir fry is selecting the best produce. If you are a hater, but are going to try this vegetable for the first time, then choose bitter gourd with light green skin. Alternatively, you can select the tiny bitter gourd also called ‘kantola’.

So what is special about this recipe? It can be put together with minimum ingredients. Tastes like a star dish on the table. You can earn brownie points for feeding your family as healthy a vegetable as bitter gourd. Would you like to try it out too? Read on to find how we make it.

Allergy Information

  • Does not contain eggs, soya, dairy, corn, peanuts, any nut.
  • Suitable for gluten intolerant and lactose intolerant people.
  • Suitable for people with nut allergy also.

Preparation time – 20 minutes, Cooking time – 20 minutes, Serves –4-5.

You Need

Cookware – Knife, Cutting board, Deep fry Pan with tight fitting lid


  1. 3/4 cup finely chopped red onions
  2. 1 cup finely chopped vine tomatoes
  3. 1 cup finely chopped bitter gourd
  4. 1/2  tsp turmeric powder
  5. 1 heaped tsp salt
  6. 2 tbsp jaggery powder (optional)
  7. 1 heaped tsp of the most fragrant sambar powder you can find
  8. 2 tsp oil
  9. 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  10. 1 tsp Urad dal
  11. few curry leaves


  1. Chop all vegetables.
  2. Heat a fry pan, pour oil in. Add mustard seeds, Urad Dal, and curry leaves in that order.
  3. When mustard seeds sizzle, add chopped onions, stir well over high flame. When the onions turn light brown, add tomatoes and fry till mushy.
  4. Crank up the heat, and toss in the bitter gourd, stir real quick over high flame. After 2 minutes of action on high heat, add turmeric powder, salt, jaggery powder (if using) and half of the sambar powder.
  5. Mix in the seasonings well, and cover with a tight lid. Lower the heat, and allow to simmer for 5-7 minutes.
  6. You can sprinkle a few teaspoons of water once, if the contents become too dry. Stir a couple of times in between the cook.
  7. The stir fry is done when it tastes soft but not mushy. Add the other half of the sambar powder and mix in well.
  8. You could finish it off with some chopped coriander leaves too.
  9. Do remember to scrape off the delicious burnt bits from the bottom of the pan, add them to your serving bowl. Those caramelised onions and tomatoes take the stir fry to blissful levels.
  10. Enjoy with a bowl of hot steamed rice or just by itself too.

Nothing bitter about it

Come pick me up and enjoy.

Sep 15, 2014

The Quickest Kathi Roll

The original Kathi roll is a street food from Kolkata. This legendary dish has taken on many avatars since and has evolved into a versatile snack popular all over India. Kathi rolls are a great way to jazz up boring meals. The best part is there are no rules. While street food dishes out less healthier options, (read fat drenched, artery clogging, refined flour) we need not fret at all. We can easily make these at our homes using much healthier alternatives too.

Home made kathi rolls on a platter

To begin with, I always use organic whole wheat flour for the rotis. I normally have a stock of home made skim milk paneer in the freezer as well. This 5 minute 3 pepper paneer curry is my go-to recipe when hard pressed for time. Throw in a few salad vegetables and some fresh lettuce, and a wholesome meal / snack / appetiser is ready. Cremica’s Korma Sandwich Mayo came in handy this time around. This was part of our goodie bags at the IFBM.

Now, I am no friend to convenience foods or ready to eat products. While I am all for economic growth, feeding on chemicals which get added to foods to increase shelf life or flavour or taste, is really not up my alley. In this recipe, I have used the Cremica sandwich spread. It is definitely handy and does zing up the roll. However, you can choose to omit or replace with a different home made spread too.

You could hop over to these blogs to view their favourite kathi roll recipes as well.

Vegetable Platter’s Alu Gobhi wrap here, and Hamaree Rasoi’s Paneer Kathi Rolls here.

Here is how I assembled my kathi roll last week. Helped to satiate the hunger pangs of the teen and the tween. Ticked all boxes - flavour, crunch, health, easy assembling . Need I say more?

Kathi Rolls with elegant companions

Allergy Information

  • Contains wheat and dairy.
  • NOT suitable for gluten intolerant or lactose intolerant people.
  • Can be made dairy free by substituting paneer with tofu.
  • Does NOT contain egg, corn, soya or nuts.

Preparation Time – 20 minutes, Cooking Time – 30 minutes, Serves – 3-4.

You Need

Skillet, Rolling Pin, Shallow steel mixing bowl, Plates to assemble


  1. 2 cups Whole wheat flour + extra for dusting
  2. 1/2 tsp Salt 
  3. 3/4 cup Water (more or less depending on flour)
  4. 1 tsp Oil
  5. 1 recipe 5 minute 3 Pepper Paneer Curry
  6. 10-15 leaves of leafy lettuce or Romaine Lettuce
  7. 1 medium cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced into semi circles
  8. About 6 tsp of Mrs. Bector’s Cremica Korma Sandwich Mayo


  1. Take a shallow steel mixing bowl. Place the flour and salt in the bowl. Mix the salt and whole wheat flour with finger tips. Drizzle water slowly and knead into a smooth dough. You may need more or less water depending on type of flour. I used 24 Mantra Organic whole wheat flour. Once dough is smooth, gather into a ball. Press the top of the ball with thumb. The dough should spring back. If not, knead again for a minute or more and check again. Grease the dough all around with 1/2 tsp oil, cover and leave to rest in a cool place for half an hour.
  2. Pinch or cut out equal portions of the dough. 2 cups of flour can make 8-10 balls depending on the size you cut.
  3. Roll out each ball into thin flat round.
  4. Heat a flat iron griddle / skillet. Place the roti on the skillet. Turn around when brown spots appear on one side. Cook both sides of roti well taking care to adjust flame and not burn, smear with a few drops of oil if you wish. Remove to a platter. Repeat with all the balls of dough. Set the rotis aside.
  5. Rinse the lettuce well and drop in chilled ice water.
  6. Follow the recipe for the 5 minute 3 pepper paneer curry. Set aside.
  7. Peel the cucumber, remove the seeds if any and slice into thin semi circles.
  8. Assemble the kathi roll just before eating.
  9. Smear the sandwich mayo around the roll leaving a cm around the sides free.
  10. Place the paneer curry, cucumber slices as shown in picture.Just wrap up and chomp away
  11. Drain the lettuce, shake well, tear up and add them along to the roti too.
  12. Wrap the roti inward from both sides, secure with toothpick if needed, and enjoy!

While the individual components of this roll can be made ahead, the roll is best assembled just before consuming. It does get soggy in half an hour. So it may not work well in a packed school lunch box. It does make a great after school snack. You could also prepare and pack the different components of the rolls separately and assemble at a picnic.

Dear friends, How do you like your rolls / wrap / frankie / meals on the go? Would you make it any other way? I would love to hear from all. Please do write in at my facebook page here or in the comments section below.

Till next time, eat healthy, stay happy.

Sep 4, 2014

Happy Onam with Nendra Pazham Nurukku

Traditional Onam Flower Carpet Decoration
Wishing all Keralites across the globe a very happy Onam. The very mention of the festival sends happy shivers down the spine. The excitement of meeting relatives, the rustle of new clothes, the joy of decorating the house with flowers, fills everyone with gleeful anticipation. Cooking the special Onam Sadya, the house smelling festive with the heady combination of curry leaves, coconut milk, simmering vegetables, with the inviting aroma of Payasam, with the fragrance of Nendra Pazham that lovingly follows you to every nook of the house.
That brings me to my much loved fruit – Nendra Pazham. A variety of banana grown extensively in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, it is longer than the usual Robusta or Dole variety and has a different unique flavour. It takes pride of place in Malayalee cuisine.
Ask any one from Kerala, and Nendra Pazham will count as one of their favourite fruits. Ask anyone from outside Kerala, the answer may not be the same. it could take some time to get used to. Fortunately, everyone in my family likes this special banana.
At our home, we wait patiently for it to ripen just so. It could then get plonked into the microwave for a quick steam bath, or into the sauna of a fry pan with jaggery to sweeten the deal, or if in a ‘lavish mood’ get batter fried for that crisp outside, soft, sweet, melting inside Pazham Pori. Each of these methods of enjoying the Nendra Pazham merits its own post. For now, I’ll confine my gushing to the jaggery sweetened, gooey, syrupy golden blobs called Nendra Pazham Nurukku. This is often served as part of the festive Onam breakfast menu.
Whether you celebrate Onam or not, this is a good chance to indulge in this simple sublime dessert. It fits the bill for a quick healthy snack, a solution for any time hunger pangs as much as part of an elaborate festive meal or as dessert after a spicy meal.
Don't they look smashing?
Here is how I go about making it.
Allergy Information
  • Does NOT contain gluten, egg, soya, corn, peanuts, tree nuts.
  • Suitable for gluten intolerant or lactose intolerant people.
Preparation Time – 10 minutes, Cooking Time – 15 minutes, Serves – 5-6
You Need
Knife, Kadai / Frying pan.
  1. 1 kg (usually 4-5 bananas) Just ripe Nendran banana
  2. 1/2 cup Jaggery OR Brown Sugar. Can take 3/4 cup if you prefer more sweetness.
  3. 1/4 cup water
  4. 1/2 tsp ghee (clarified butter) – optional
  1. Rinse the bananas, peel and slice into 2 inch chunks.
  2. Combine the bananas, jaggery and water together in a kadai and set it over flame.
  3. Keep stirring once it comes to a boil. Lower flame if you find the corners browning.
  4. The bananas are done when they get a glaze and look translucent. This should come about in 7-10 minutes depending on flame and quantity cooked.
  5. Top with 1/2 tsp ghee if using, mix well and remove from fire.
  6. Serve when warm.
Golden chunks of Pazham Nurukku

Day 2 At IFBM

A month later, IFBM still weaves its magic. Read on for events of Day 2.

Even as the realities of navigating the city’s famous weekend rush hour traffic tried to dampen spirits, I refused to get bogged down. I was eagerly waiting for the events of Day 2 to unfold.

Ashish Verma, Digital Strategist for Ogilvy, got down to business with us soon enough. What is SEO?  How to optimise content for SEO? How to use plug-ins to advantage? How does Google Analytics help? What type of title or keyword should be used? Being a newbie to the technical details that runs the web, some of these, well, OK, most of these were unknown to me. Suffice to say, I have resolved to learn more of the workings of the web. Ashish, thank you so much for opening up a new vista of information for me.

Ashish Verma in action 

Good Food Writing, by Rushina Ghildiyal. Boy, was I waiting for this one. Veteran food blogger, successful cook book author, food writer, owner of cooking studio in Mumbai, Rushina wears so many titles with panache. Above all, superlatively helpful, gracious, Rushina is a role model person for all to emulate. How to structure your article, how to write a recipe, how to be your own ‘harsh editor’, how to write reviews, and the list went on. So generous was she in sharing her knowledge and information, that I want to fly right away to Mumbai and sign up for her classes. God, and the Universe, please make this happen soon.

Tea break again was an excuse for the Aloft folks to pamper us silly.

How to self publish your book – Aparna Jain from Patridge Publishing gave us the low down on the lucrative (that is not) aspects of book and e–book publishing. It was very good to get down to the brass tacks of the publishing business. I’ve stored away all information she shared generously to be used when I am ready to publish my book. Wish me luck, folks!

A panel discussion by six great food bloggers followed. This was stimulating. Sanjeeta of Lite Bites shared her experiences of working on food styling assignments, while Harini Of Tongue Ticklers spoke about her photography. Rushina shared candidly her ups and downs of launching her cooking studio. Kalyan Karmakar of Finely Chopped spoke about his famous food walks in Mumbai. Ruchira and Ranjini, the tadka girls spoke about their successful launching of 2 e-books. There was a lively group discussion on how to move beyond blogging. We also discussed how to explore new territory, how to price your work in unchartered domains, how to delineate free content from charged services. All of us benefitted from their collective wisdom.

I have an idea. Why don’t we have online webinars or Google hangout panel discussions similarly instead of waiting for a whole year for another meet?

Experts sharing their experiences in the panel discussion 

Lunch was again an extravagant affair. Laid out at Nook, Aloft Cessna Park’s 24 hour restaurant, the place is very cosy, cheerful, open and inviting. I love the green chairs as well as the bright cutlery.

Chef Sameer Luthra paid great attention to the choice of menu and quality of food put up. The buffet is vast. A wide selection of salads, starters, and a bit of International as well as regional Indian cuisine in the mains. Vegetarian Phad Thai was very welcome as was Vankaya Igguru. Toning down the oil in the Indian curries would be well appreciated too! After the sumptuous meal, the desserts were fighting for attention and demanded complete justice. Gulab jamun was a heavenly mouthful. The tiramisu and mango mousse were likeable too. I am planning to spend a leisurely Sunday at Aloft Cessna, lunching with my family.



Post lunch, we were eagerly waiting for Chef Sameer Luthra. A product of Le Cordon Bleu, France, he blew us away with his loving treatment of ingredients and whipped up potato rosti and another dish with fish.

Chef Sameer Luthra in actionChef Sameer Luthra - Aloft Bengaluru. Pic Courtesy-Jayashree Mudaliar and Team IFBMTeam Aloft with Team IFBM. Pic courtesy - Sarah SamuelBloggers in a happy frame at Chef's cook demo. Pic courtesy - Sarah Samuel

I had to leave mid way and missed out on the rest of the evening proceedings. I heard the rest of the folks had a fantastic tea to revive their spirits, set by the poolside.

Did I mention that we were virtually flooded with goodie bags too? It would take an entire blog post to do justice to the goodie bags. For now,

Time to say good bye to IFBM2014. Eagerly waiting for IFBM2015! What do you say, folks?