Sunday, 30 August 2015

My Food Gaffes

I have written time and again about food, whether I am on a trip or just in my city. Most of you who are my regular readers will know that food is central to most of my travel writeups. THAT is how much I love to eat! Even though I am a BIG foodie, I suck at cooking. I mean, I cannot even cook to save my life!

The first time I decided to experiment in the kitchen was when I was still in primary school. One lazy Sunday afternoon when my parents slept peacefully, I could not control the rumble in my tummy. I was craving some fried potato chips. Not wanting to wake my parents or satiate my hunger with biscuits or chocolates, I nudged my sister to follow me in the kitchen. Once inside, I was the head chef and my little sister, the sous chef! Now, my mum had warned me against getting anywhere close to the gas stove. I too wasn't very confident with operating complex cooking tools. (I still can't use a cooktop properly! :-P ) So, I decided to use a candle! (smart science student me! :-P ) I took out one of those old birthday candles from the bookshelf, snuck out a lighter (it was only a showpiece as no one in my house smokes) and got a dried potato wafer out of the packet.

Then I lit the pink candle with the lighter, let the wax melt a little so I could stick the candle on the granite countertop, and finally fried the potato wafer on the flame! In a few seconds, the wafer became too hot to hold, so I quickly put it in the deep freezer for a few seconds to bring it to room temperature. When it was finally ready, my sister and I split it into two and gobbled it down. I can't say how it had tasted back then, but I sure am scared thinking right now of what all that paraffin from the candle could potentially do to me. I hope I don't get cancer. The entire episode was hilarious though. When my parents found out, they (obviously) scolded me, but made some nice chips for the evening.

The sushi that made me cry :'-(

Cut to the present, I don't bother cooking lest I burn down my own kitchen. But I don't stop myself from trying out interesting cuisines. My first tryst with the Japanese cuisine was when I bought a DIY sushi box from a gourmet food store in Lower Parel. Now nobody had told me to go easy on the wasabi. I thought it would be a bland chutney sort of a thing and nicely spread it over my sushi rolls. One big bite into that thing and I had hot tears streaming down my face! I ran to the nearest water stall and drank a litre of water before I could tolerate the residual sting in my mouth.

Fortunately, now I know how to eat sushi properly. The trick is to mix very little wasabi with some soy sauce and very lightly dip your sushi in it. Sushi is actually quite tasty when you eat it the right way!

The "sweet" life that only Kings and Queens can afford

I have had a sweet tooth since I was a toddler without my realizing it until very recently. I absolutely adore desserts, especially ice creams! I have tried almost every brand available in the Indian market. (And I have also had icecreams in Spain, gelato in Italy and some more in the freezing winter of Russia!) Ice cream largely hasn't burnt any holes in my pocket, but I cannot forget my first "breakfast" at the Haagen Dazs restaurant in Hiranandani Gardens, Powai. Just one item on the menu ended in my footing a four-figure bill! The aftertaste wasn't so sweet afterall. :-P

The Tiny Owl App

I can recount countless food fixes that I have been party to over the years. Hopefully, I will have fewer of those now that there is Tiny Owl to the rescue! Through their nifty mobile app, I can now quell my hunger with the touch of my finger. I don't have to eat candle-burnt chips anymore as all the options are rated by several users. Their discounts will also ensure I don't go broke on ice cream! :-) Tiny Owl is solving a not so tiny problem in the lives of us foodies!

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Play it Safe with Condoms

India has a massively growing population - 1.2 billion odd individuals and counting! Even though sex is still a taboo topic in this country, the statistics show that Indians are having a lot of sex. Unfortunately, most of this lovemaking is happing without any sort of protection or birth control mechanism. While the possibility of pregnancy is a big risk that most couples take during unprotected sex, a bigger danger is that of catching sexually transmitted diseases or infections. Birth control pills can only help so much. To really stay safe, couples must use barrier methods of contraception. is one such brand which is trying to get Indians habituated to using condoms.

The good thing is that India now has quite a few players in the condom market and the government too is encouraging everyone to use protection. The variety that is available these days is quite impressive. There are dotted and ribbed condoms for more sensation, flavoured condoms for oral sex, lubricated condoms for a smoother intercourse, and ultra thin or skin condoms which feel like the man is wearing nothing. What quite a few of us do not know is that condoms are not only for men. There are special types of condoms for women as well. These are called female condoms, and are worn by women for their vagina. These type of condoms are more expensive than the ones for men, but give women the power to control their sexual health.

Despite the heavy use of condoms, one must not blindly rely on them. There is always the risk of condoms getting torn or slipping out during the act. After all, they are made of latex. Always exercise caution in handling condoms. Try not to use nails or sharp objects on the condom. Another aspect a lot of people ignore is the expiry date. Condoms do expire or become unusable if kept in the wallet for many days. The same condom must never be reused after one session of sex. And each used condom must be disposed off by wrapping it in a paper piece or tissue. We must take good care of our sexual and genital health. It goes a long way to play it safe!

Friday, 21 August 2015

The Power of Speed

I have always been craving speed. Speed in how fast I can shower, brush my teeth and get dressed for work ( I am always rushing to catch my office transport every morning); speed in how quickly I can read and understand complex concepts in the word of Finance and Risk (I learn many new terms and calculations on a daily basis); speed in how frequently I can write articles and churn out interesting posts ( I run two blogs and am always falling behind my post targets).

There is of course some speed I like in external entities too. I wish to be able to travel really fast (from work to home and vice versa, so I am never late for anything; from one place to another, so I never have to take extra holidays on my vacations; from one country to another, so I am never tired after a long haul flight). But one thing which on which I just cannot compromise is the speed of my internet connection. It becomes extremely frustrating when I am trying to browse for some important information which I need urgently, and it takes ages for the webpage to load. I also hate it when my existing 3G connection fails to work at many places and I am waiting for videos to buffer when they are ideally supposed to play realtime.

But thanks to Airtel's latest 4G network, things are going to be different. Now, I will have the power of speed! Airtel is the first telecom provider in India to roll out the 4G network. It is not just for one or two metro cities, but almost two hundred and ninety six cities! The best part is, the charges will be same as that for 3G. With cheap rates for higher speed, I will now be able to do many things which I previously would not have been able to. I can now watch movies on my long train journeys without worrying about the video to buffer or having to pay a lot of money. In fact, I won't even lose connectivity hopefully as the 4G network will be available at most places I visit.

This also means, I can work while on the go. I will not have to wait to reach office for the high speed internet. I will also not actually have to stay at home when I work from home. I can just hop on a car and go on a long drive while I work nicely in the backseat while waiting to reach my destination. Faster speed means, faster browsing experience, being able to Skype really well, having better quality images and videos during live streaming. All of this will be believable and a possibility with these unbelievable speeds under my hood!

Thursday, 20 August 2015

... Because Home is Where the Heart is

I have been living in my humble room since time immemorial. The walls in my room have seen a lot of wear and tear.

If I have the opportunity to have my room transformed, I would make it more like me. I am a travel enthusiast and also a writer. I love looking up at the sky and getting inspired by nature. I admire how the sun comes up everyday without fail. It never succumbs to excuses. Taking a cue from the sun, I face my day enthusiastically without using the crutches of  excuses. When I look up at the roof of my room, I do not wish to stare at a bland off white ceiling. Instead, I wish to get a glimpse of the clear, blue sky. My dream home will either have a glass roof with a real view of the sky or the ceiling will be painted to reflect a beautiful sunny day, with light clouds floating in a light blue background.

At night, however, I would like to look at some stars, constellations and galaxies. I am a big fan of the night sky, and stargazing is my favourite pastime on my trips to lazy villages which don't have any light pollution. I would love to have a ceiling which changes colours at night to glow with stars and turn pitch black when I sleep. A dark room is always good for a perfect sleep.

When I look at the walls of my room, I only see random colours and patterns which have been advertized on paint ads on TV. But what I really wish to see are trees and blossoms and animals running in the wild. I am an adventurous, outdoorsy kind of a person. I always love to get out and do something active rather than sit at home and do nothing. My dream home will have walls full of canopies of large leaves in different shades of green. Green is very soothing for the eyes and mind as well! I could also have some animals in my little forest. :-)

Home is where greenery is!

I feel the floors are most neglected in a room. We only think of some sort of tiles to fill up the space. It is either marble or granite or marbonite or mosaic. What I really wish to have on the floor is lush meadows - perhaps, grass-patterned tiles? Apart from being a traveller, I am also a long distance runner. My feet never tire even after clocking twenty one kilometers! A true runner loves her roads just as much as she does grass and mud. My dream room will be my world! It will not just be a designer brick and mortar cube with paint all over it.

I am participating in the Upload and Transform #HomeCanvas activity in association with Godrej Interio and BlogAdda. If you are not blogging, you can still be a part of this activity. Here’s how.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Tricolor Pasta - Where India Meets Italy

On the eve of the Indian Independence Day, my best friend and I shopped for some of my favourite things so we could surprise our family with a tricolor pasta dish. Italian happens to be my favourite cuisine, and I decided to use the Independence Day theme to highlight my patriotism for India and love for Italy. For all of my regular readers, here is my secret recipe:-

Tricolor Pasta - Where India Meets Italy


1. Del Monte penne rigate pasta - two fistfuls
2. Napolitana sauce - for the saffron (for India) or red (for Italy) layer
3. Cream cheese - for the white layer
4. Pesto sauce - for the green layer
5. Olive oil
6. Mushrooms - button mushrooms (champignon de Paris) and Indian portobello
7. Olives
8. Broccoli
9. Bell peppers - red, yellow and green
10. Lemon and coriander seasoning
11. Salt to taste

Apparatus (Utensils Required)

1. Saucepan
2. Spatula
3. Colander
4. Laddle
5. Spoon
6. Cooking pot
7. A couple of bowls (to transfer the cooked dishes)
9. Knife
10. Wide bottomed tumbler (for plating up)
11. Dessert glasses (for plating up)

Here is all you will need - the Italian ingredients

Time to prepare

90 minutes

The entire dish took us only an hour and a half to make. This includes everything - from cutting the vegetables to plating up.

After the veggies and mushrooms are cleaned and cut...


1. Add some water and salt to the penne rigate pasta and bring it to a boil in a cooking pot.
2. Strain the pasta in a colander and collect the water. This shall be our broth for later. (We do not waste food) Keep both the boiled pasta and strained water aside.
3. Heat some live oil in a saucepan.
4. Chop the coloured bell peppers on the side.
5. Lightly stir the bell peppers (keep the green ones separate) in the pan.
6. Keep the bell peppers aside.
7. Wash the mushrooms and scrape off their skin. Now, cut them in halves or quarters depending on how big you like to have your mushrooms.
8. Saute the mushrooms in the pan. Add salt to taste. Take care not to mix the two types of mushrooms as each type will be used in a different layer of the pasta. You may use any mushroom of your choice - oyster, shiitake, shimeji, etc.
9. Set the mushrooms aside.
10. Now, cut out small florets of the broccoli and wash them in a colander.
11. Blanch the  broccoli florets to make them soft yet retain their dark colour.
12. Now, lightly saute them in the saucepan.

Now that all our individual mini-dishes are ready, we will start making the layers of the tricolour.

13. Take one third of the boiled pasta and cook it with the orange-red coloured Napolitana sauce. If you have more time, you may prepare your own tomato based gravy.
14. Add the red and yellow bell peppers to this layer, and sprinkle some lemon and coriander seasoning. Keep replenishing the olive oil in the pan. You may add some button mushrooms to this layer.
15. When the saffron layer is ready, pour it out in a bowl.

16. Next, prepare the green layer (bottom layer) with half of the remaining pasta and pesto sauce.
17. Add green bell peppers and some button mushrooms too.

18. For the white layer, add cream cheese generously to the saucepan full of the remaining pasta. You may control the consistency with milk and the broth which we had kept aside.
19. Add the portobello mushrooms to this mixture.
20. Pour out the white layer. This can be called the alfredo sauce layer.

This pasta dishes are now ready to be plated up! :-)

The Indian flag for your tastebuds

Serving Tips

1. I chose dessert glasses for my dish. Serve each coloured pasta in a separate glass Now you have orange, white and green dishes.
2. Make the Ashok chakra on the white layer  using olives.

India on my dining table! ;-)

3. I have an alternate plate up style - pour some green layer at the bottom of a wide glass tumbler.
4. Next pour the white layer.
5. Insert an olive slice towards the edge of the glass so that it is visible form the glass surface outside.
6. Fill the glass top with the orange layer, and you are all set!
7. You may choose to serve this with garlic bread.

Tricolor Pasta served in a glass tumbler

Let's have a quick recap through this video which I made only for you!

If you liked my recipe, do cook this Tricolor Pasta and tell me how it tastes. I'm eagerly waiting for your feedback! :-)