Friday, July 31, 2009

Ovarian Carcinoma and my family

It snatched my Aai from me on 14th July 1994.

It has taken me 15 years to write about it so that it can benefit some one. This is not a medical advice. It is just my experience and observation of my Aai go through it. Only the person who goes through it can actually tell you what it truly is.

Around May 1993 my mother was suffering bad oral health. She had no vices at all. So it was my Dad's conclusion that it was due to poor maintenance. My Dad is a honorary Yoga Therapist since the late 60s so he understands physiology.

She developed mouth ulcers which became incurable. Nothing helped. She was seeing the general practitioner all the time. The ulcers would subside for a while and then just return.

Aai complained of hardness under the diaphragm. The general practitioner could not figure out why? She went to the gynecologist, she had increased flow and clotty discharges still the doctor did not suggest a pelvic scan.

Meanwhile she was loosing weight. She was wide at the waist, we blamed it on heredity and form, she was a person with the right weight.

None of us dream that a disease is taking root in our body as long as we are able to move around and be independent. It is wrong to have this mind set. Do see a good doctor if you have the slightest doubt.

Then in May 1994. She had lost more weight and was eating lesser. She had an active life though, discharging all responsibilities to the best of her ability. I was having exams at the time so she decided to go on her own to Thal. She wanted to attend the weddings there.

Then in June 94 she called up complaining of severe pain in the abdomen. We thought it was indigestion. She said it was unbearable and was returning to Mumbai with her aunt as she would not be able to manage traveling on her own.

She came home in the afternoon and my Dad took her to Dr. Koli, Sion. He immediately told my Dad that her condition was critical. It was not indigestion. It was ascitic fluid accumulation that was giving her discomfort. Dr. Koli diagnosed correctly and guided us to meet Dr. Sushma at Joy Hospital near Chembur Station.

Dr. Sushma counselled me and Dad and told us to get some pelvic scans, blood tests and a hoard of other test done for my mother. She then advised that my mother had very less time left. She told us not to spend on her treatment and not to put her through this ordeal, instead to give her a peaceful life.

I was furious. How much time Doc I asked? She said max 6 months. That is a lot I said and both me and Dad decide she go ahead with whatever need to be done.

I went to collect the reports the next day or so. It read Ovarian Carcinoma. I was doing my PG then. I was not uneducated. So when I read it I understood. I had lot of anger piling up. Why none of the medical practioners were able to help us before this. It was 3rd stage, incurable. The ovaries had already turned ascitic. They did not give any symptoms that they were affected. It is not a uterus that will discharge to show that there is a problem there.

I remember a Bengali doctor who was brought in to consult. Counselling me that the ovary is the most beautiful organ in a woman's body but very dormant. It never gives any symptoms and it easily turns ascitic.

Dr. Sushma operated my mother with the help of Dr. Irani from Tata Memorial. The operation was done in Joy Hospital itself. It was a two hour long operation.

After the operation my mother was in hospital for about a week. There was a huge tapping in the abdomen that collected the amniotic fluid for 3 days. Even the slightest movement caused pain. Later She was in a stage when pain only brings in silence and blankness. She was not in coma thank GOD!

I would go to bathe her and then go to work. I was an intern at a small company in Thane then. I never told them my problem. Made sure my research work completed on time. Went to the hospital in the evening and spent time with Aai.

I would read the newspaper to her. Then brief her on my day. She would ask, "Tula traas hoto naa? I'd assure her that till I was there no one else would touch her, I would not let anyone.

Then we got her home. For 25 days we would not be able to start chemotherapy. Then on 14th July 94 we took her to the hospital. My Dad went to Parel to get the chemotherapy injection that was available only near Tata Memorial. He came back at 1pm. A junior doctor administered it to her at 2pm. We were told that she might vomit atleast a 100 times as a reaction to it.

Not a single vomit. We had prepared her for it so she also was asking how come no reaction. Then at 6 pm while I was chatting with her she felt uneasy. She asked me to open the window. I saw her teeth jam and she hiccuped twice and head fell back. She was not able to breath. In that situation I was telling her to chant Ram Naam. I knew doctors would not be able to help any more. Yet I screamed for help. Got the doctors, called for the oxygen cylinder. The staff was trying to revive her breathing. They asked me to leave the room and I could see her lifeless body there and doctors administering electrical shocks. They could not find the pulse even in her ankles. Meanwhile I called up at home. My Dad had just reached home and was having tea. I told him I don't think the doctors can save her. He came back to the hospital. He was calm and composed. I told him she was gone.

I did not cry at all. Just gathered all her stuff and got her body checked. I told Dad I would suggest that the body be donated to Sion Medical College. Aai had lived for others and that would be the best then for us to do. She had not pledged her body, at 44 yrs you don't think you are going to die. We had not told her she had Ovarian Carcinoma. She wondered why her symptoms were like TB as she had ascitis.

We got only 25 days. The doctors did whatever they could. She had been through 18 blood transfusions. The end was in a major heart attack. Doctors blame it on the high no. of blood transfusions. It does shock the heart. What could have saved her was an open heart surgery on the spot but the hospitals are never prepared for such crisis surgeries.

After her...

Dr. Sushma and Dr. Irani both advised that since I was at risk I should get a checkup done every 5 years. I was young and keeping a check is the means to nip trouble in the bud is what they said. So far I am healthy with no major trouble.

Got to keep a check as this is a silent intruder.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Lipsmacking Banana Curry


I love the banana stir fry, Kachya Kelyachi Bhaaji.

Yet on this day I wanted something more complex. My need was for a gravy to dunk in the chapati as well a curry that feels good to mix with rice even before it is in the mouth. The tactile as well as the oral sensations had to be satisfied.

Let me tell you this is an original recipe. I am not sure if the ayurvedic principals are taken care of here, probably not but then our food no longer is strict in those criteria. Don't ask me questions on the chemistry and the physiological effect yet stay warned that if you don't try this one you are missing something for sure.

I use...

Ingredients

2 raw bananas peeled and diced
2 teaspoons oil
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 teaspoons heaped sambhar masala powder
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon Kokum extract
2 inch piece of jaggery
salt to taste

Heat the oil. Splutter the mustard seeds. As the crackle add the asafoetida. Dunk in the diced banana. Add water and cook till soft.

Now add the sambhar powder stir once. Pour the milk. Let it boil for couple of mins. Here now is the time to add Kokum extract or what we call agal in Marathi.

Incase you don't have Kokum agal use kokum sarbat but skip the jaggery as it would already have sugar.

Keep stiring to avoid curdling of milk. Simmer for 5 mins with jaggery and salt, the final addition. The curry thickens as it simmers.

It is one lipsmacking curry. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fresh Peanut Rice


I am going ga ga over the heaps of fresh peanuts that I am seeing everywhere in the market. I am the type of a person who hates to talk to the vendors. I like the superstores where I can go and pick up my stuff, pay and walk out. I hate the haggling with grocers, green or brown.

The peanut heaps on this cart which I eyed as I stepped down from the bus broke that myth about me. I went up to woman and asked her how much. As it always happens. She waived her hands in the air signalling 10 Rs per sher while she mouthed "hathu" in Kannada. Give me two and top it up a little I told her.

With my transparent plastic bag of peanuts I walked home happy as a kid. I knew what I wanted to make. This peanut rice and Shengdana Batata Bhaaji ofcourse!


I have followed a simple ghee rice recipe for it to retain the unadulterated flavors of fresh shelled peanuts.

Ingredients

1 cup any fragrant rice
1 cup shelled fresh peanuts
7-8 cloves
2 big cardamoms
2 small cardamoms
2 sticks cinnamon
3-4 crushed green chilies
1 tablespoon ghee
salt to taste

Wash and drain the rice. Use a fragrant rice for this recipe. The flavors are simple and fragrant rice enhances the taste. I use Basmati or Ambe Mohor for it.

Let me tell you a secret. Right now I am using broken Basmati for everyday use that I bought from Mumbai for a deal. I got 10kgs of it! Thanks Charu for showing me this trick.

Heat the ghee in the pressure cooker. Make the tadka with cloves, big cardamoms, small cardamoms, cinnamon and finally crushed green chilies. One following the other. Don't forget the salt, I am telling you as I always do.

Now is the time to add the washed and drained rice. Add the peanuts and stir once to mix. Top up with twice the amount of water. Close the lid of the pressure cooker and allow 2 whistles. Put off the heat, cool and then open after steam subsides. Lightly mix the rice so it is fluffed up. Remove to a serving plate.

If you wish you can add some sprinkles. I wanted to keep it simple.

I paired up the Fresh peanut rice with Lal Dal. It was a perfect antidote for a hassled week day.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Shengdana Batata Bhaaji


Shravan Maasi Harsha Manisi... is a poem that we sing like a song. It celebrates the rains which after the initial pouring has now turned to showers in the sunny day. These create rainbows that lift the spirits.

In Maharashtra as the rainy season is just for 4 months and is pretty heavy especially in the Konkan region, this is the time for fasting. Eating less or Fasting is what is done this time of the year that we call Chaturmaas. However there are delicacies that are made and the whole aim of Upvas is thrown out of the window. Well though that is very cliched, I am not complaining at all. One such Shravan recipe I simply love~~~ is Shengdana Batata Bhaaji.

Simple to make. Yet so good. The potato marries the fresh shelled peanuts with just the right amount of spice from the green chilies. The cumin seasoning with ghee imparts a fragrance that associates it immediately to the divine.

A hot plate of Shengdana Batata Bhaaji, a squeeze of lemon and a bowl of curd and you will keep promising your favorite God that you will fast more no. of times.

This bhaaji is never garnished with cilantro though you might want to do it to add color. Hey but hold it. Cilantro is out of boundaries during fasting.

You want to give it a try then here is the recipe.

Ingredients

1/4 kg Boiled potatoes
1/2 cup shelled fresh peanuts
2 green chilies
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoon ghee
salt to taste
a pinch of sugar

Peel and dice the boiled potatoes.

In a wok heat the ghee to smoking point. Add the cumin and before it burns be quick to add the chopped green chilies. Follow in with diced potatoes and fresh shelled peanuts. Stir well and cover and cook for 5 mins. Add the salt and sugar and stir. Cook for another 2-3 mins and you are ready to serve it.

Never use dried peanuts for this recipe. It is all about fresh shelled peanuts in this recipe. Biting into well cooked peanuts and just right cooked potatoes is bliss. I can gorge on entire platefuls.

This is again one of my Aai's recipes that I flip on. This month is when I lost her and it is also the month of a mother n daughter's birthdays. It is in her memory this recipe is posted here today.

"While I don't want to pull back your spirits to the world that you have left, I am still in those bonds that you brought me into. I remember you"

Monday, July 20, 2009

Manbhavan Muthia


Trupti mane tamari aa recipe bau bhaveli che. Muthia saras thaya, etle enu naam Manbhavan Muthia paaDi didhoo :).

Well after long I actually tried at Gujarati, what I am telling Trupti here is I loved her recipe. The Muthia were so good that I named them Manbhavan Muthia which means Muthia that please the mind.

On Saturday I called Alok and Varsha over for SNACINER, now "What's that ?", you will ask. Well that is Snacky Dinner. If people can come up with Brunch then why not SNACINER! We do it some times, have snacks for dinner. I made 3 things, Paneer tikka (see the pan fried version), Pizza and Muthia.

Alok simply loved the Muthias. This was meant to give him a small after exam treat and Varsha a little breather from the cooking. My dear friends are so busy these days, Alok with his work, studies at IIM and the toddler. Varsha is full time Mom right now, true to the word she literally does everything for the kid herself with so much patience. God bless! I love to spend time with them both and Aditya.

Here is what I did with Trupti's recipe...

Ingredients

1.5 cups Wheat flour, 3 tbsp Besan flour, 1-tbsp: Semolina
1/2 cup leftover cooked rice - mashed (skipped it this time)
2 cups Methi Leaves chopped
Salt, sugar, turmeric, to taste
1 green chili and 1 inch piece ginger- chopped coarsely and roughed a bit
Yogurt to bind the dough
1 tbsp- oil from your favorite pickle - this tastes great in this! (will try next time)
A handful of Cilantro leaves - chopped ( I didn't have on hand)

For the tempering:

2 tbsp: Oil
1 tsp: Mustard Seeds, 1 tsp: Sesame Seeds (I used black as that's what I had), 1 tsp: Asafoetida,
1 tsp sugar and a few drops of lime juice- if you like. (skipped)
Cilantro leaves - for garnish (skipped)

Combined all the ingredients in a large bowl. Kneaded together with yogurt.

Oiled the plates from the dhokla stand.

Pinched off small portion and lined them on two plates. I need only two plates for this measure. Placed one in the top slot and the other on the middle slot. Thus allowing space between 2 plates so there is no sticking business.

Steamed for 20 mins or till the dumplings get a glaze. Once done removed from the steamer. I used pressure cooker without the weight as the steamer. That is regular even for Idlis or any thing that I want to steam.

Or like this fit a mesh lid into a wok filled with water and cover with wok's own lid and let the muthia steam. (added on 13th Jun 2010)


Got the tempering ready by heating a wok. Added 2 tablespoons oil. I was generous coz I wanted a little crunch on the outside of the muthias. Then in went mustard seeds, sesame seeds and asafoetida. Sauteed for about 10 mins.

The Manbhavan Muthia were ready for sharing with friends as I talked to them from the kitchen.

Notes:

I did not have cooked rice on hand so skipped it this time. I guess this must be making the muthia lighter.

Next time I will try with pickle oil. I noticed all the pickles in my pantry are low on oil. Yay! coz I am a pickle lover so lesser guilt. Like Trupti says this must definitely make a whole lot of difference.

When I use ginger I rough it up a little after chopping to tiny bits. I don't like biting into ginger piece nor do it like to use paste. So this is my way.

There was no cilantro in the herb mug so gave it a miss. I would have loved a sprinkle of cilantro at the end though.

I used black sesame seed purely because that is what I had in stock.

The sugar and lime juice dressing I know guarantees citrusy freshness which I will try another time.

This recipe is a keeper. Thank you Trupti!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Khara Pongal For Lunch


Last Sunday's lunch of Khara Pongal, crushed fried papad and mango pickle.

Well unlike always first here is the recipe.

Ingredients

1/2 cup rice
1/4 cup toor dal
1 chopped green chili
1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
a pinch turmeric
salt to taste

For the tempering:
2 teaspoons Oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
few curry leaves
handful of coconut bits

In a pressure cooker. Wash both dal and rice. Add the other items and top up with 3 glasses of water. Allow a good 5 whistles. It has to make the rice and dal really mushy. Cool and open after steam subsides. Open the cooker and mash the dal and rice with a spoon to bring them together.

Next heat a pot. Add oil and heat till smoky. Quickly add the mustard seed. Once the mustard crackles, add asafoetida, curry leaves and coconut bits in that order. Add the mashed dal and rice. Mix well and add more water if need be. Keep stirring to avoid burning.

Serve in a plate or bowl with fried papads and pickle. It is mushy comfort for the soul.

This Khara pongal is from Karnataka and is had for breakfast here. Me a Maharashtrian especially a Mumbaiite cannot imagine having rice for breakfast so I make it for lunch or dinner. The consistency is of a khichdi but the color and taste typically Karnataka.

Now that my need for some comfort food is met lets move on to a discussion, I hope to involve you in. Let me upfront say that this got me thinking so this post and I thank Chitra for igniting the thought.

Just yesterday she commented here about need, human need. We all agree that the need for food is the most basest need.

However it also got me thinking. In the world of loneliness and misery, people have all the money in the world but no love, companion and laughter. Are these not needs?

Shree Gondavalekar Maharaj says,
"Hunger is the only need that can be satisfied because even a starved man will ask you to stop feeding him once he is full. All other needs are endless."
All this started beacuse on my profile, I say,

"I am grateful for the Life I have. My day is done if I can touch someone's life in a special way."
Well yes I am grateful for the life I have with all its imperfectness. It may not be an ideal one and many may not find it interesting at all.

Yet I remember Osho's words "I am the savior of the rich, because the world is unsympathetic towards them."

Now I am not Osho but I am surrounded by people just like me, with regular needs of love, compassion and even sympathy. Remember at the bottom of all this there is a selfishness that I acknowledge. I need that so I give. It makes me feel happy so I try to make someone happy. How much I succeed I don't know but I am not looking at that. I love the process though.

At my workplace we have a support group for employees in need of emotional support. I think it is a fantastic initiative for an industry having young people uprooted from their comfort zones regularly and have all the insecurities in work and personal life. Those who have had a safe emotional haven will not know this side of the world. It does not show tangible symptoms like starving does on a man but impact if not the same is still destructive to a life.

While feeding hungry people is easy. You have the money, you know to cook or not you can feed. However try providing emotional support to people. It takes a toll on the giver. The giver is so involved it is difficult even for clinical psychologists to keep themselves impact free.

How many of you think emotions is a need that we are unsympathetic towards?

Hope to see a discussion going here.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Cheese Pakoda


Last Sunday was a pretty lazy one. I made Khara Pongal for lunch with other peripherals but still it was a meal assembled in a rush. So in the evening pulled out the cheese and cut out nice thick slices. Dipped them in Besan batter and dunked into smoky oil. The result purfffectly delectable Cheese Pakoda! Gooey, crispy, crunchy all at the same time.

For those who need a recipe for the cheese pakodas can follow everything mentioned on Banana Fritters post except that you are using slices of cheese instead of Raw banana here. This time I did not use cilantro in the batter.

The Cheese Pakoda did me a lot of good after a cranky Friday that I had. We washed it down with a hot cuppa.

No Chimi you cannot have it. Fried food is not good for your coat.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mishti Doi

Every year after school sports at Brabourne Stadium having Mishti Doi set in a glass at K. Rustom's was something we would look forward to. Last year it was the first time I tasted it set in a terracotta tiny bowl where else but in Bangla land. The flavor of terracota adds the earthy essence.

Mishti Doi cups vanish in a moment. It is lapped up as quick as possible not savoured slowly.


The recipe is such a breezer and yet satisfies your need for a delicious desert. Plus you can make it before hand and chill. These terracotta cups came with me from the North East Tour with a target to make Mishti Doi at home. It has taken me more than a year to put them to use.

Mishti Doi for Dad who has put up with my last minute meals while I was busy with work.

Ingredients

2 cups milk
4 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoon curd
1 cardamom powdered

Heat the milk with sugar. Reduce to 1.5 cup milk. Let it cool a bit but is still warm. Seed the milk with curd. Mix well. Pour into cups you would like to set it in. Choose the cups you want to serve it in as there is no transfering involved.

Before serving give the cups a sprinkle of cardamom powder to add the special touch. On a regular day I don't use cardamom and it tastes delicious even without it.

If you like the taste of "Adhmoora dahi" which means just set curd in Marathi, then you will love this. It finds place in Slim N Trim as no desert can get lighter than this.

Stare at it enough wondering how to begin. Then scoop it up with a tiny spoon to enjoy thoroughly. You will be dead if I see you mixing it with a spoon. One needs to be elegant while enjoying Mishti Doi!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Gurupoornima at Bangalore Math


7th July 2009 @ 7 pm

Easy to locate address:

Shri. Satguru Brahmachaitanya Maharaj Gondavalekar Mandir
16th Main road
Near Srinivas Nagar
Banashankari stage I
Bangalore 560050

The Postal address:
Shri. Satguru Brahmachaitanya Maharaj Gondavalekar Mandir
10th Main road, 6th cross
Banashankari stage I
Bangalore 560050

Directions:

by Bus:
Take route no. 45 from Majestic Bus Stand. Get off at Bata shoe shop at Srinivas Nagar Entrance entrance. Walk to 16th Main. It takes just 5 mins. Spot the temple on right side.

by own vehicle:
Coming from Vidyapeeth Circle: Come straight down. After Bata shoe shop take right at 16th Main. Spot the Mandir on right hand side. Park vehicle on the same road or take right and go to frontside of the temple. Entry available from side gate on 16th Main road or Main gate in front of the temple.

Coming from Outer Ring Road: Enter from Hoskarehalli cross. Come towards Bank Colony bus stop. On 16th Main take left. Park vehicle on the same road or take right and go to frontside of the temple. Entry available from side gate on 16th Main road or Main gate in front of the temple.



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