Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Very Veggie Biryani

I love food, and I love recipes – quick, easy ones!  One of my favorite dishes is Biryani – an aromatic rice recipe that has innumerable variations and can be eaten with or sans curry, is very filling and absolutely delish.  There is a baked version, but we‘ll stick with the quick stove top recipe here ;-)
Veggie Biryani
1 cup cooked rice (not sticky, preferably Basmati)
1/2 cup mixed vegetables, chopped (fresh or frozen, time permitting)
¼ cup onions – finely chopped (red/purple is my personal choice)
¼ cup ginger/garlic paste
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. biryani masala (available at Indian grocery stores)
1 tsp. green chili paste (optional)
2 tsp. mint leaves finely chopped (optional)
Cilantro, finely chopped, for garnish
Salt to taste


Heat oil in a pan. Add onions and sauté until translucent.  Add ginger/garlic paste and sauté for a couple of minutes.  Now stir fry the mixed vegetables until cooked.  Add the cooked rice.  Finally, add the masala and optional ingredients.  Mix gently until even.  Garnish with cilantro.  Enjoy hot!
Tip: Use a colorful assortment of vegetables to make your biryani pretty - tomatoes or tomato paste, cauliflower, carrots, peas or edamame, green beans and the list goes on...veg. it up your style!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cabbage Curry

That's the lunch I am currently enjoying at my desk - cabbage with lentils, and it's all spiced up!  It's a great combination, health wise and taste wise.  Make a bowl for yourself, and eat warm with bread, rice, or as -is:

Cabbage with Lentils

1 tsp oil
a pinch of mustard seeds
4 curry leaves (optional)
1 cup finely shredded cabbage
Lentils (chana dal - split yellow gram), pre-soaked for an hour or so
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 bowl shredded red onion
1 green chilli, slit or finely chopped
salt to taste
chopped fresh cilantro to garnish


Heat oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds; when these sputter, add the curry leaves.  Stir for 10 seconds.  Next, add the onion and garlic, saute until pinkish brown.  Add the green chilli, saute.  Add the cabbage, salt and soaked lentils, and simmer covered, until cooked (stir and check in between!).  Garnish and enjoy!

Variations: Add greens, potatoes/yams, peas and carrots, peppers and broccoli, use your imagination for easy peasy healthy!  For extra flavor, add curry powder.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Thursday, July 5, 2012

What a Wonderful World

Come summer, all I ever think about is travel, and usually that is all I do - think about it!  Lately, I have come across so many articles where people have traveled to numerous countries and viewed several wondrous monuments.   Although I have not managed to launch my own travel undertaking (yet), I decided to embark on a journey around the world via the internet.  Here is one such breathtakingly real image of the Taj Mahal in India:



Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Appeal of Authenticity

I chanced upon one of Dr. Seuss' quotes this morning :

"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

In today's individualist, sometimes (cynics may read as "mostly") duplicitous world, authenticity is fast becoming an attractive trait.  People covet simplicity and the comfort of being able to just be (oneself).    This quote touched a chord in my heart today, as I am often given to being a people pleaser, and when stretched too thin, ache for the freedom of being (accepted as) just me. 

Since I am in such a philosophical mood today,  a mocktail seems fitting to nix the mope and lift the hopes (lame, I know!). 

Lemon-Cucumber Mocktail

3 cucumbers
1/2 cup lemon juice
3 tbsp agave syrup
1 cup water
Few sprigs of chopped fresh mint

Blend first four ingredients together and strain, garnish with mint. 

Cheers to being the authentic you!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Pleasure of a Good Book

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is to announce that I now have a new blog, in addition to this one, for my book reviews called Reader's Retreat.  If you are an avid reader, as am I, and I totally recommend reading as a great practice for anyone, please take the time to visit and feel free to post your comments and recommendations.  Like all of you great readers out there, I am always looking to fill any free time with a worthwhile book, and Readers' Retreat is the place to go for book recommendations and reviews*.  Check it out, yall!  Let me know what you think. 

*Note : Only one post so far on Readers' Retreat, first day and all. ;-)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

All You Need is Love

I had the pleasure of watching the movie 'The Help' recently and am profoundly impressed with it's portrayal of the individual and society.  It is a beautiful movie that evokes great emotions and inspires courage and hope. 

It reminded me of how selfish and ugly people can be, but how we can emerge as better individuals through our thoughts, attitudes and actions.  We can rise from being mere mortals to enlightened souls if only we allow our own inner light to guide us while on this journey called life.  It all starts and ends with love.  First, accept yourself, love yourself.  And then spread the love.

With that in mind, let us now venture into our kitchen and make ourselves something healthy to eat - fancy some Quinoa?  Quinoa (keen-wah)  is being touted as a superfood, being a protein-rich, gluten-free whole grain.  It's easy to cook and can be added to just about anything.  Let's throw some things together and make ourselves a delicious healthy salad. 

Quinoa Salad

1 cup cooked quinoa - soak in water for 10 minutes, drain water and rinse, then cook in vegetable broth until done

Add to this:
-Finely chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, jalapeno (optional - hot)
-Finely chopped dates and walnuts
-a few drops of lemon juice
-garnish with coriander.

No salad dressings required - just dig in !

Variations : You may add avocado, boiled potatoes, bell peppers, even pineapple for flavor and to get those fruits and veggies in. 
This salad can also be seasoned as follows:  Heat a tsp of oil in a pan, add a half a tsp of mustard seeds.  When the mustard seeds start crackling, add 2 curry leaves, a few coarsely chopped peanuts and a pinch of hing (asafoetida) to the oil.  Whole red chillies may be added for extra heat.  Pour this seasoning over the salad and mix.  Eat right away, with yogurt, or as-is, it is SO good!!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mini goals..Baby steps...

Everywhere you look these days, you see signs and posters telling you that you can do anything, you can be anything, if you just put you rmind to it.  Well, I have been thinking and dreaming about big changes in my life.  About being a better person, not just for myself, but in a way that I can make a positive difference in some one else's life as well. Like most of us middle class mortals, I have my daily trials and tribulations to deal with, and the weeks and months just zip by.  Most of all, I would love to do a one-minute meditation and  be transformed into an enlightened soul overnight.  To be rid of common evils such as anger and judgementalism.  To have complete control over my thoughts, speech and actions, and to throw myself into service towards mankind. 

Well, this is all very good, and seems quite possible.  But it takes time (a lot of it), and tremendous effort, and just the thought of doing anything more or different in a day where every minute is planned and accounted for, exhausts me!  So, I decided to do what a lot of self-help gurus advocate doing - take it one day at a time, baby steps, if you will, towards your ultimate goal.  For those of you who have been following this blog, we already have two things we do daily  - drink more water , and meditate for 30 seconds.  Cleanse the body, and the mind, easy, peasy! 

So, before we plunge into making a list of some of the things we would like to achieve in the near future ( I am one of those people who couldn't work without a list !),  I suggest taking another piece of good advice  - take deep breaths!  Now, calm and focussed, here is our baby-step list to becoming less frenzied and more "accomplished" beings (below is my personal list - please add your comments and suggestions - I value and love your feedback!) :

1)  Make weekly menu and shop accordingly in advance
2)  Keep car clean
3)  Exercise
4)  Have groomed nails, shiny hair and always accessorize to look well put together
5) Host tea party for friends

Okay, so I have a few more which are actually more like Big Foot steps and so I am going to leave those out for now, for fear of feeling overwhelmed just by reading them.  I think structure, focus and maybe even minimalism (zero clutter) will help me with the hefty ones, but let's start small and take it from here. 

I will keep you updated...don't forget to share your thoughts with me.  Cheers!

Friday, February 10, 2012

My new love...Grapefruit!

In an attempt to switch to a healthier lifestyle, I find myself hunting for great tasting raw foods, and I am  absolutely in love with grapefruit.  Most people I know always shunned them because they tend to be slightly bitter and/or sour.  I ,on the other hand, have always loved things with a slight bitter twist to them, like tonic water, for example (which is a no-no, since it is soda, after all).  Some prefer to eat grapefruit with a sprinkling of sugar. 

For those of you who 'd like to become fellow devourers (is that really a word?) of grapefruit, please feel free to indulge in some fresh grapefruit salad (recipe in one of my previous posts - Grapefruit Salad, this post also lists some of the myriad benefits of consuming this fruit).   Benefits extend to the peel, which is used for dual purposes.  Grapefruit peel oil is used for massages for it's anti-aging properties.  Grapefruit peel masks and scrubs act as great exfoliants.  Apart from all this, it comes in three great colors - white, pink and red.  So mix it up!

I always look forward to your comments on your experiences with healthy whole foods and your journey to a holistic lifestyle.  Do drop me a note sometime.  Stay Healthy, Stay Happy!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What's new in the New Year

So, at first, I dilly-dallied between whether the new year warranted one or more resolutions  (since it is so hard to keep 'em anyway!).   Now, after a whole month has gone by, after much thought and re-thought, I have decided on a new me!!  Yes, that's right - it's either no goals, or, a huge hefty ovewhelming one!  It is time for a new me - a more mindful, less stressed, much-more-pleasant-to-be-with me.  Which is not to say, I no longer care about my outward appearance, losing weight and looking great, but this time, I intend to put the focus on working from the inside-out.
Having said that (and, this is so much easier said than done...), I decided to launch a full blown attack on the best sellers out there on healthy living.  Also, I repeatedly pestered those people in my life who do nothing but support me (they may be very few, but I am so thankful to have them!), trying to evaluate my strengths and weaknesses, and how I could start on this journey to -ahem- 'nirvana'.  In my future posts, I am going to dish out advice on not just healthy food for the body, but also for the mind. For mastering the mind is mastering one's life, it is the only way to be truly happy (worded by yours truly after digesting several books and conversations on joy and peace!). 

To make sure I don't fall off the wagon without a fair shot at my new goals, I have decided to start off with easy and doable daily goals:

1) Drink plenty of water - Drink up, buttercup!   The benefits of drinking water regularly are many, including flushing the body of toxins, moisturizing the skin, increasing productivity and improving the immune system.

2) Half a minute of silence - This is not limited to observing a half-minute vow of silence, but also silence of the mind - to slow down it's galloping nature and rein in those endless thoughts of the past and future.  This helps us become aware of our inner self, our surroundings and feel at peace.  Half a minute sounds miniscule, but you will find that this is in reality a long long time to keep the mind still, at least when you first begin.

I am sure there are a lot of you out there that have similar goals and can relate and advise, and I urge you all to be a part of this excursion to attain peace and happiness.  Please feel free to post your thoughts and experiences and suggestions.