Saturday, December 22, 2012

Feminism and me

The grim Delhi rape case has shaken most women and a huge lot of men too except those that are animals. It is painful to hear about the girl's story. I have signed the petition

To: Supreme Court of India, Government of India

We want rape to considered a more heinous crime than terrorism and want very brutal punishments for rapists. By brutal punishments, we mean the type of punishments which will remind them, every single minute, that they have done something which is not AT ALL Acceptable in human society.


While my blood boils when women are treated shoddily and this is a heinous crime so you can imagine how shaken I am, just like most of you.

I love being a women, I loved it when I came of age. I always wanted to be a mother what if I have not yet had a child. I am a hopelessly positive person and hence I am strong willed and stand for what I believe in.

This post is the outcome of some things I have been observing over the years among the women I am surrounded by. I am putting it up here for you to think, to bounce your ideas at me and also am looking for assurance that I am doing the right thing.

 If you are a man not to support such farces and if you are a woman never play the farce.

Remember I grew up in a joint family of 5 daughters and several girl cousins. How I love all the women in my life. I taught my mother and aunts to stand up against male dominance if their word was disregarded in important matters of the family. As the eldest daughter of the family, I taught my younger sisters to stay through the thick and thin in the families they were married into, yet retain their identity. They are very traditional yet I am proud of them for the way they are living for the way they are bringing up their children. I take credit for what they are because I know I was their strongest influence. If they lack something I take that as my failure. That is on the family front.

Now on the work front, I have always tried to build those extra special relationships. Many reciprocated and lovingly. I had shared here about the baby shower we had for 3 of my friends from work, at the time we had 4 women in the team who were pregnant. I admire my then head of the team for supporting all of them through those happy days, yet days filled with struggles. They juggled jobs and health check ups, lows and highs.

I am a Mumbaikar and I admire all those women who travel by packed local trains thru all nine months and have a healthy delivery. It is only in the IT industry I have seen pregnancy the most abused phase by the women employees. From the day the conception is confirmed starts the abuse of the system. Some women game the system by declaring 3 consecutive miscarriages and enjoy month long leaves and return to work in the pink of health. Imagine what 3 miscarriages can do to a women. I shudder at the thought but see no signs such on that woman. Some who are lucky enough to have healthy pregnancies throw tantrums all thru the pregnancies. Unpredictable behavior upsetting workplans. What happens to their professionalism?

One wonders if in India having a baby is like having a baby for the country and the whole country rallies to support the bearer till it is born! I know of some European countries that provide subsidy with every child a woman bears. 

Some women who show inherent lack of honesty get benefit of doubt just because they are an expecting mother. Honesty cannot be cultivated one has to have it. The feminist in me becomes tough when I am faced with such a situation. This coming from someone who celebrates every woman's motherhood.

I may not have had a child yet but have mothered my 2 cousin brothers like my own. Yet I am the feminist of the Mother India kind, I do not support women who do not have honesty in them. Those that support are encouraging dishonesty. No one should try blackmail by throwing canned dialogues in the air.

I am a supporter of the belief that an organization or society that does not take the interests of women into consideration is likely to fail. Feminism to me is nurturing woman's interests, well being both health wise and behavior wise.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gits Shaahi Gulabjamun


Some time around Dasara I had tried this festive pack of Gits Shaahi Gulabjamun. It's one innovation in product that surprised me when I thought nothing more can be perfected with their regular gulabjamuns that I love. Several times I have hidden pistas in the center of a gulabjamun like they are made at Jhama's, my favorite sweet shop. What more can be done with a classic recipe?

So I guess you must be keen to know what's the innovation? Gits has added powdered nuts and saffron to the mix. 

Verdict

The Nice : It makes the gulabjamuns richer. Adds nuttiness. Saffron makes it exotic in color and flavor.

The Not so nice: The grainy texture, this is expected but since we are used to smooth gulabjamuns it takes a few Shaahi Gulabjamuns to ignore it.

On the whole I loved this enhancement in the product brought to us by my all time favorite brand for Gulabjamuns. My mother started using Gits in the mid 70s and I have been a fan and user ever since. There are several other brands now but Gits is still is my favorite. Try it out.

Disclaimer: This is not a paid review.



Friday, December 14, 2012

Fougasse With Homegrown Mustard Greens


Deeba is a passionate baker who does everything from scratch, she is such an inspiration. I drool so often on her blog, this fougasse was made some time ago immediately after her post but I am able to release this post now. She uses a Thermomix, me just the regular food processor. Have made some changes in the ingredients to use what I had on hand and from my Green Balcony.

I used my own steps for the dough making and own sweet time for proofing and baking to suit my needs on that day and the next day. Stay interested you will love it.

It is so thrilling to be able to use the homegrown Mustard Greens, rather micro greens, they grew dense and I had to harvest them before the fungus could get the roots so a bunch of them found way into to the Fougasse.

Ingredients:
  • 450g all purpose flour
  • 300ml warm water
  • 1.5 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 30g olive oil
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 100g Amul Gouda
  • 100g walnuts, chopped (Oops missed this)
  • Extra olive oil for brushing
  • Sea salt for sprinkling 
    Roasted veggies
    • 1 red bell pepper, roasted, skinned, chopped
    • 1 head of garlic, roasted
    • 2 medium onions, sliced and roasted 

    Fresh herbs : Homegrown Mustard Greens cleaned and chopped rough


    In a bowl heat up the water to luke warm. Make a paste of handful of flour in a small bowl. Mix it back into the large bowl. Sprinkle yeast on it. Let it bloom for 10 mins.

    In the Food processor bowl measure out the flour. Run the FP and add slowly the yeast and flour slurry. Knead till it comes together.

    Leave to double in the FP bowl itself. Like you see here.

    While the dough doubles, get the oven heated and roast the red bell pepper, garlic and the onion.

    On a tray place the sliced onions, drizzle olive oil and salt and mix to get separate shreds of onions.

    In a bowl, place the halved and deseeded bell pepper and drizzle with oil and salt. Place the garlic along with it.

    Roast all the veggies for 45 mins.

    Cool and peel the bell pepper by removing the waxy skin. Peel the garlic and separate out the cloves.

    Chop the bell pepper into strips and garlic into slivers. Save.

    Now remove the doubled dough on to the floured counter and fold into the dough the roasted veggies, onions, garlic and the gouda cheese and the homegrown fresh mustard greens.

    Divide the dough into two. Roll out and shape the fougasse by slashing with a knife, three slashes in the middle to create a midriff and on the side. Spread the side cuts a bit. Traditionally a fougasse is designed to look like the ear of wheat but mine looks more like a banana leaf I think, Ha ha!

    Leave it to proof for an hour or till double on an oiled baking tray. Brush with olive oil and give the fougasse a nice drizzle of salt.

    Preheat oven for 10 mins at 180 deg Celsius. Bake the fougasse for 40 mins or till golden.

    My family chomped off the bread as soon as it was out of the oven, won't say more. Go try it and you will know what I mean.

    Sunday, December 09, 2012

    Growing Mustard Greens

    Growing Mustard Greens was something I wanted to attempt what with Bollywood glamorizing the lush green mustard fields of Punjab. Frankly I had eaten saag so many times at the best of Punjabi restaurants in Mumbai (were there any other kind in the late 70-80s) but had never seen the leaves used for the saag.

    In my mode of sprouting any and all seeds from the pantry I sowed the mustard seeds. In 8 days I had Punjab in my lil balcony I thought until I googled for mustard greens. The pics looked nothing like I had in my tray. The leaves when mature are large and the plant grows the height of a person in the fields of Punjab. My tray got a little crowded even with the micro greens and I had to harvest them by the end of 8 days. 

    These were not good enough for saag making and the quantity was too large for a salad of mustard greens. These are pungent to taste and have to be used as sprinkles if at all to be used in salads. So I found a super way of using them.

    For now since this is a post on the stuff I grow in my Growing Methi, start from the planting step. Then sprinkle the seeds and moisten the planting media and keep doing it till you see sprouts.

    Come back again to read about my experiment with mustard greens in a French recipe!

    Sunday, December 02, 2012

    Figs N Roses Cake



    Hrushi weds Rupa.

    That is the headline story of this week on this blog. Technically I was not allotted much of the wedding planning work yet as it should be foodies get to take care of the F&B by default.

    This was a small wedding compared to the weddings of my 3 cousin sisters, both my cousin bros opted for small weddings. We had a Halad or the ceremony of pampering the groom on the previous night of the wedding followed by a party at home. The wedding day began with the NahaNe or the bathing ceremony then the MangalAshtake and the Saptapadi at the temple hall followed by a lunch in celebration of the union of the two souls. The wedding food was catered by a Marwadi Maharaj. It was the regular popular fare of Suki batata bhaaji, Puri, Mutter paneer, Mix vegetables in a creamy gravy, salad, papad, pickle, Dal tadka, rice, gajar ka halwa and Kulfi slices. Everything was a crowd pleaser on taste. The guest list consisted of just 60-70 people who are close to the family.

    For the party at home I made Undhiyu, Chili paneer, and two cakes plus a regular dinner followed. One cake was a chocolate cake similar to Hrushi's BD cake for the kids. The Chili paneer is something the kids loved so much that they ate leftovers the next day too choosing it over even the cake.

    The Figs N Roses were the flavors of choice, Figs representing the sacredness and prosperity of the relationship and Roses for the love uniting the couple.

    This cake served almost 30 people quite generously. My uncle MJ loved the subtle rose scent in the cake and the cream. Most of the family described it as a moist rich and delicate taste. I started work on this cake 3 days in advance. First baked the sponge, second made the mascarpone and third day that is on the morning of the Halad, I assembled it and let it chill in the fridge till it was brought out to be cut by the couple.

    For the sponge I used Sanjeev Kapoor's eggless recipe doubling the quantity for my needs and the major change of using rose syrup instead of vanilla essence besides some adjustments in sugar.

    To recreate it later noting the recipe.

    For the sponge

    2 cups all purpose flour
    1 tablespoon soda bicarbonate
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    1/4 cup sugar (I used Demerera)
    100 gms Amul butter (regular salted)
    1 tin Amul mithai mate
    2 cups Milk
    3 teaspoons Kalvert's rose syrup

    Baking Dish size : 2400 ml round, glass dish, 275 L X 275 B X 70 H mm

    Lets begin by baking the rose scented sponge.

    Grease the glass baking dish with butter and dust it with flour. Keep aside the prepared dish.

    Fluff up the all purpose flour along with the sodium bicarbonate and baking powder. 

    Whisk together the sugar and butter till frothy. Drain the tin of Amul mithai mate into it and mix well.
    Tip: In the tin measure out the milk and mix with the spoon to get the max of condensed milk from the tin that's sticking to the walls.
    Mix everything together. In the end add the rose syrup and mix well.
    Pour the batter into the prepared glass dish.
    Since we are using a glass dish baking temp has to be reduced by 20 degrees to get the same finish as you would with a baking tin and this quantity is double than the original so bake it longer. I required about 40 mins of baking at 160 deg in Convection mode and 180 deg at the end for 10 mins more.

    Let the cake cool completely before frosting. Since I made it before hand I cooled it to room temperature and then put it in the fridge to chill.

    For the Filling and Frosting

    (made from1 litre Amul fresh cream)
    3 teaspoons Kalvert's rose syrup
    1 cup icing sugar
    5 large Fresh figs
    handful of roasted pistachios sliced rough

    Chill a splash proof bowl in the freezer. Measure out the mascarpone cheese. Tip in little icing sugar at a time, add the rose syrup and whisk together till all the icing sugar is used up and you get stiff peaks.

    Now remove the cake onto a plate and slice it horizontally into two sheets. 

    Place one sheet on to a decorative plate or board that can hold this large cake.

    Frost the top cut side with 1 cup of the creamed cheese. Cut up 2 figs and distribute them on the cream layer. Place the second sheet of cake. Frost it with the remaining 2.5 cups of rose mascarpone cheese cream. 

    Finally decorate with remaining figs. For the center piece cut up the fig upto 3/4th and then keep it in the center and spread it to bloom it like a flower. Cut up a fig into half and slice up and decorate the outer ring of the cake.

    Sprinkle the rough chopped pistachios on top of the figs. 

    For the glaze (optional)

    2 tablespoons honey 
    1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

    Mix together the honey and balsamic vinegar. Using a spoon drizzle over the figs.

    Let the cake chill completely atleast for 12hrs before serving.

    Notes: 

    1. This cake is quite moist
    2. Very sweet obviously for Indian tastes. If I am making this for my family I would skip the 1/4 cup sugar altogether.
    3. Since I baked this in a glass dish I got a really golden cake. Baking it in a tin would fetch me lighter shade.
    4. This cake uses condensed milk, I used Amul's which in thinner than Nestle's Milkmaid.
    5. Next time I would reduce the milk by half a cup and the batter is just slightly thinner than foldable cake batter.

    Verdict :  

    We really enjoyed this cake and though the decoration is simple the taste is sublime as you bite into it. You first taste the rose mascarpone cream and the fresh bite into the slice of fig and finally the deliciously soft milky cake. Delicate fresh flavors is the character of this cake.

    Sharing here the cutest click of the wedding.

    Friday, November 23, 2012

    Weekend Takeaways!

    In today's life we work so hard, both the man and the woman of the house. As we approach Friday we start planning our indulgences of a good breakfast that one has missed during the week. We also think we deserve a little dessert that can spike up our mood. Then as it happens just the thought of it is too much and a weekend meal ends up as a brunch or a one pot meal. Who has the energy to churn up something that we drooled on all thru the week in the dreams. Especially for the vegetarians it is so difficult, unlike the non-vegetarians who can have a celebration with just one non-veg dish.

    I love to cook and feed. So have decided to start "Weekend Takeaways"

    How it will work is thru the week I will announce a breakfast item and a dessert. You can order just breakfast or just dessert or both. The items will be available only on order. All orders to be placed before Friday noon every week.

    The order can be placed thru mail annaparabrahma at gmail.com , sms or Call 9930094812.

    Weekend Takeaways as the name suggests will have to be picked from Nerul and Dadar. The address will be shared with you after the order is placed.

    Looking forward to cooking for you some superb vegetarian and non vegetarian treats! 

    Since this in a new service we are launching I am letting you pick one breakfast item and a dessert from the blog that you would enjoy. Majority vote will be the pick for the launch on 1st Dec 2012.

    Tell me what would you like, Kothimbir vadi, Veg Cutlets, Misal, Chow chow bhat, Kobi vadi, Muthia or Peanut butter Elvis Sandwich? There is more on Morning Glory

    Dessert : Mascarpone with Fruit, muffins, Mawa cake? There are 113 choices on Sweet Tooth

    You can also order any of the breads, a fresh loaf, pull apart buns, Fougasse, Bagels, Pretzels etc. Select your Bread

    So hurry now! The first three orders will get a delicious dessert free!!

    Saturday, November 17, 2012

    Growing Cucurbits



    They grew from the compost, I did not sow them so I don't know what they are, could be cucumbers and pumpkins I guess.

     Flowering started within a week.

     The first cucurbit! YaY! I thought it was ivy gourd, Dad says its a pumpkin.

     It is getting fatter. I still don't know what it is. May be a cooking cucumber.


    Yes it is a cucumber, gifted it to my Uncle MJ, Aruna Kaki made sambar with it.

    Diwali is over. Stop over eating right away. Get hold of some fresh veggies, have a nice crunchy salad. Detox for a week, join me.

     Posted on FB, 31st March 2013 : It smells beautiful, the freshness of the just harvested! Aha!

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012

    Shubha Deepavali

    Completed all the deliveries. Spread the light of Diwali and warm the heart. That's what we believe in. Thank you each one of you for the orders, support and love.

    A special one to my readers you make me want to keep doing new things.

    Shubha Deepavali to you and yours!

    Friday, November 02, 2012

    Diwali Faral 2012


    Orders in and around Mumbai and Navi Mumbai will be accepted till 12th Nov.

    Dhanteras is just 10 days away from today. Have you ordered the Faral yet? 

    We take orders for homemade Diwali Faral. Our Faral will  have you smacking your lips!
    If you need to send Faral to US or UK  or across the Indian states you need to order now for it to reach the destination just in time for Diwali.


    Faral Item
    Love Jodi Hamper
    Sab Ke Liye Hamper
    Qty
    Qty
    Rava ladu
    5 nos.
    10 nos.
    Besan ladu
    5 nos.
    10 nos.
    Karanji
    5 nos.
    10 nos.
    Bhajani Chakali
    250 gms
    500 gms
    Shankarpali
    250 gms
    500 gms
    Chivda
    250 gms
    500 gms
    Uttana
    50 gm
    50 gm
    Rangoli sticker
    1 no.
    1 no.
    Diya
    2 nos.
    2 nos.
    Handmade soap
    1 no.
    1no.
    Kandeel
    1 no.
    1no.
    India Price

    1475 Rs.

    2475 Rs.
    UK Price

    50 £

    60 £

    US Price

    80 $

    95 $


    Free Deliveries all over Mumbai & Navi Mumbai.

    US and UK prices inclusive of deliveries.

    Express Parcel Service is available for deliveries across India at actuals.
    (Rs. 120 per hamper for a max. radius 1000 kms.)


    How to order:

    You can mail me at annaparabrahma at gmail.com mention your choice of hamper, date and address for delivery.

    I am on twitter and FB too.


    Order Now!

    paypal id : hrushikoli@gmail.com




    Sunday, October 28, 2012

    Growing Tomato

    This post is a log I will maintain as the days, weeks and months pass... Will publish it afresh every time I update it. Go to the latest update at the end of the post.

    Day 1: (Planted in the week of 10th June 2012)  Found a rotten tomato in the fridge. Did not want to throw it in the Daily Dump so squeezed out the seeds in a container that I had kept ready for sowing seeds. The container is a 1 litre milk carton filled with hay 3/4th and 1/4th with planting soil. I forgot about the seeds until after 4-5 days.

    Day 4-5: (16th June 2012) Seeds sprouted, couple of inches of sprouts with leaves. I noticed the sprouts today and am thrilled!

    Week 3:
    The real leaves forming shape now.

    8th Sep 2012: @ 3 months

    There were four tomato plants that grew strong in a cluster, I accidentally broke one while replanting them. Now there are 3 growing in 3 corners of a wooden crate lined with a plastic bag. The media in the crate is 10 inches hay, topped with 10 inches planting soil and 1 inch compost from my Daily dump. This transplanting was done a month ago and soil went down to sit with the hay quite a bit. The 1 inch compost also acted as mulch for the plant. One FB friend suggested nipping the apex to get more branches and it worked. In a month I think they will need support.

    Month 5: 28th Oct 2012

    The  tomato plant is about 4ft now. It is flowering since couple of weeks. These are the captures in the last 2-3 weeks. I have added a 3inch layer of compost with the dual aim of feeding nutrients and mulching for a good yield.

    I have been nipping the suckers (the branches that spring up in the notches) since a few weeks, so the plants have fewer branches but every week I see fresh flowers.

     Tomato blooms and the hairy stalks

     Wilted flowers and swollen ovaries. I felt such joy seeing the baby bumps :)

     There they are baby Beefstakes!

    Will post the pictures of the vine ripened tomatoes once they are ready. Am sure you will be checking here.

    The beefstakes ripened on the plant but gave miniature fruit the size of small grapes. When the other plant started flowering I removed the Beefstakes from the crate. Topped 5 kgs soil. It turned out that the other tomato plant was a Roma.

     16th Dec 2012: The Roma are rewarding.

     12 Jan 2013: At peak season 12 tomatoes!

    Sunday, October 21, 2012

    Saat Kapache Ghavane




    Kavita young and demure had just married Shailesh and come to live next doors to my Cousin Vijay’s place. When I’d visit Virar and if my SIL was at work this lady would take care of us in her absence. Lovingly she would help my SIL with all the extra work that came with visitors. She had quit her job and in this remote suburb there was not much of an employment opportunity available except as sales staff in shops. This was 10 yrs ago. Later after the birth of her daughter she was completely home bound, without support of family she managed everything herself. She then started a crèche with a few kids coming in for the day. As the trust built with people she started cooking for the kids at an extra cost and their Mom’s did not have to bring them in with food for the entire day, what a relief for those working Moms. Soon requests followed for dinners. She started cooking and distributing Poli –bhaaji.

    Finally on 7th July 2009 she got her first big order for a housewarming party, she had to cook up a 20 item menu for 50 people. She did a fabulous job with a helper in tow. Today she has a shop at home from where customers pick up lunch packs of Poli/ Bhakri-bhaaji thru the window. On fasting days, Mondays, Thursday and Saturdays there is Sabudana Khichadi. Other snacks are sold thru out the year too along with the Modaks on Chaturthis and Vinayakis.  Alu Vadis and Kothimbir vadi steamed rolls are available that you can take home slice up, fry and enjoy.

    This woman works so hard and supports the family in every way. So here is what we are joining hands at.

    This Diwali, Annaparabrahma launches Diwali Faral hampers and we are accepting bulk orders in joint venture with Kavita and her team of home cooks. The team is trained on recipes from Annaparabrahma. The quality is monitored by me, personally. The packaging will be done by my creative cousins. Shailesh, Kavita's husband will help with large scale deliveries and the supplies etc. Watch out for more on this blog in the days to come...

    I have always wanted to write about this woman of substance on this blog. So here is a recipe she shares with us…

    Saat Kapache Ghavane

    This recipe gets its name from the technique used for layering, seven times the ghavane with the coconut filling. Kavita learnt this recipe from her Aai. It is a traditional recipe from Malvan made to welcome a guest at home. Malvan is abundant in paddy and coconut so that is what is available easily to a homecook when a surprise visitor needs a special treat.

    The skill of the cook is in folding the layers without tearing the ghavane as they are turned over, certainly not for a novice cook. Selecting the rice for the ghavane to cooking them right is where experience plays an important role.

    The griddle used here is a very traditional one called Kahili in Koli

    Ingredients

    For the Ghavane
    1 cup Medium aged rice
    Salt to taste
    3-4 cups Water

    For the coconut filling
    ½ cup Jaggery
    1 Fresh grated coconut
    ¼  teaspoon nutmeg and cardamom powder

    Begin with the Coconut stuffing preparation. This coconut jaggery mix is called Chun is Malvani. In a wok mix in the fresh grated coconut and jaggery, heat it. Keep stirring till it leaves the sides of the wok. It should have the consistency that can be sprinkled on the ghavane. Remove from heat and mix nutmeg and cardamom powder for fragrance.

    Making the Ghavane batter. Wash well and soak the medium aged rice in enough water for atleast an hour. We choose medium aged rice as we need a medium sticky rice batter which when cooked will give crisp on the outside and soft on the inside crepes.

    After one hour of soaking discard the water. Now put the soaked rice in a blender. Add equal amount of water. Grind to a fine paste. Finally add water to get a watery batter. It should be thinner than dosa batter. The final batter should be about 1litre. Add salt to taste and let is sit for 1 more hour.

    Now take a well-seasoned griddle, as I mentioned above we use the Kahili here, oil it well. Heat on high. Pour the thin watery batter into the griddle. Start from outside and move inwards. The first time you make a round crepe or ghavane. Cover and cook for a minute. Remove the cover. Do not brown it. Sprinkle the Chun or the coconut jaggery mix for the stuffing on half the side of the ghavana and turn over.

    Now here is where an experienced hand exhibits the skill, leave the folded and stuffed ghavana on the griddle. In the half empty griddle pour batter to get a half moon ghavana. Let it cook for a min. Then sprinkle some more Chun. Now the first folded whole ghavana is turned over on to the new halfmoon ghavana. Now you should have half space empty on the griddle. You are done with three layers. Similarly repeat the steps for 4 more such layers of ghavana and Chun. Ensure you pour just enough batter to get thin crepes and carefully turnover without tearing them. When you are done with the seventh  layer of ghavana fill with Chun and turn over.  Put off the heat. Remove carefully the layered Ghavane onto a serving dish by inserting a spatula under the last layer and holding lightly on top with your palm down so the layers do not topple or tear.

    While the ghavane are still warm cut through the layers with a sharp knife into wedges.  Press lightly to make the layers stick as they cool.

    A single Saat kapache ghavane serves 3 people generously.

    Kavita insisted on making a simple ghavana to go with a chutney and savory Matikichi usal. She said a visitor would be served the entired dish and since it is sweet to offset the sweetness would be a single plain ghavana with the savory. Those are stories from the past, it is known visitors were fed in the manner even when puranpolis were made or a gula cha sheera was made. They would be fed with the dessert in the main and only a small portion of the regular meal to complete the celebration. That is the culture to treat the visitor as God, Atithi Devo Bhava!


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