Humor: Do you wonder if…? Do you ponder why…?

Apart from the most famous & unanswered issue ‘what came first – the chicken or the egg?’ here are some perplexing questions that will make you wonder & ponder, over & over :D  :D

1.  Why doesn’t glue stick to its bottle?

2.  Can you cry under water?

3.  Why don’t birds fall off trees when they sleep?

4.  Why is it called ‘building’ when it is already ‘built’?

I won a Scharffen Berger Giveaway!

Scharffen Berger was a name I hadn't heard of until I came across Family Fresh Cooking's giveaway announcement.  I used to mostly nosh on Cadbury and Ferrero Rocher earlier, had tasted Lindt, Lindor and Godiva, tried Ghirardelli after moving to the States, and as a beginner, started baking with the good ol' and common Hersheys and Nestlé products.  From what I understand, Scharffen Berger falls under the premium category, more for the professional bakers and those who fancy finest dark chocolates.  Just how some prefer fresh, real coffee from coffee beans instead of instant coffee powder!

To my surprise, I won the Scharffen Berger giveaway (valued at $140!) and received it just before Christmas, with everything in the box enough to last me until after New Years!  This being the first giveaway I ever won in life felt even better when I saw the cookbook - the very first cookbook in my life that I now proudly own  :-)

Recipe: Mooli Ka Paratha (Radish Stuffed Indian Flatbread)

I detest mooli ki kanji.  I don't know what others call it as, but mooli ki kanji is radish chunks in some pickle-sorta liquid and super stinky.  Once the lid of the bottle of kanji opens at home, the stench is inevitable.  No offense to those who like it, but it is because of that kanji I started hating radish since childhood.

But this muli ka paratha (radish stuffed paratha) changed my view and I accepted that radish in itself is not stinky and does not taste as bad as I had imagined. 

This is a pretty simple & straightforward stuffed paratha recipe from Shobha Indani's cookbook for Stuffed Mooli Paratha & trust me, tastes good too.

Mooli ka Paratha - Radish Stuffed Paratha

The Rat Stole My Plum! True Story.

Roaches, lizards, and rats were not uncommon visitors back home in India.  Even monkeys, cats, and sometimes tiny snakes.  I've either seen some of 'em back then or have at least heard stories.  But having one of those visitors in our apartment here in US was a surprise.  More of a shock, if I may admit.  Especially because we figured out several days later after it made its small home in our home.  We had been noticing the fruits being nibbled, but thought it was probably some insect, until one night ...

Recipe: Spinach & Paneer Stuffed Paratha

This Spinach and Paneer Stuffed Paratha does not mean it is made of Palak Paneer gravy, no.  The chopped spinach and crumbled paneer is cooked with spices and filled as a stuffing into the paratha.  You can make these stuffed parathas for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, or freeze the stuffing and use later to make parathas when you are short on time.

Spusht | Paratha with Spinach and Paneer Stuffing
Paratha with Spinach and Paneer Stuffing

Recipe: Sugar Glazed Sweet Potato & Sweet Potato Kheer

Sweet Potato (aka Yam in North America; Shakarkandi in Hindi) looked more orangish-pinkish here in US than I’ve seen them as back home.  I used to love eating the creamish-colored sweetened shakarkandi & tried making the same, just gave it a fancy name ‘Sugar Glazed Sweet Potato’, haha.

And when I grated one, it looked like grated carrots, so I experimented Kheer with it & it worked.  Now I’m beginning to think anything can be added to make kheer, hehe!  I especially loved the color – it would have taken a tablespoon of saffron in a regular rice kheer to obtain the beautiful yellowish-orange color that I got with sweet potato itself.

Here’s both, for people with as sweet tooth as mine … enjoy :-)

Recipe: Puran Poli / Holige / Obbattu / Bobatlu (Split Bengal-Gram-Stuffed Sweet Flatbread)

Puran Poli (also known as Holige / Obbattu / Bobatlu / Bobbatlu / Puranachi Poli in different parts of India) is a Maharashtrian style roti-like flatbread called ‘poli’ with sweet split Bengal gram (chana dal) stuffing known as ‘puran’, mostly made during festivals or special occasions - but in my case, any time.

Although wiki says Puran Poli is a dessert, I have NEVER seen it eaten as dessert – it is almost like a one-meal main course (because it is so sugary & loaded with ghee!), known to be eaten along with Chana Dal Amti.  However, whenever I have had Puran Poli in Maharashtra and Hyderabad - whether for lunch or dinner - it was always with Kadhi (without the Pakora) – and that’s how I love it too.

Puran Poli and Kadhi.  There's something about the sweet, soft poli dipped in a tangy, salty kadhi.  Yum.

Puran Poli with Kadhi and Amti accompaniment

Coupons: Grocery & Skincare Products - Part 3

I shared quite a few links to several grocery, household, kitchen, and general coupons in my previous posts
here:  Coupons: Grocery, Kitchen Items & Household Products - Part 1
here:  Coupons: Grocery, Kitchen Items & Household Products - Part 2

In this post, since it's winters, most of the ones here are especially for skincare products.  Since we need to purchase lots of lotions & body creams for the forthcoming months, might as well save on them here & there!

Recipe: Chana Dal Amti (Maharashtrian Style)

After mostly cooking mixed-vegetable Toor Dals or Chana Dals [Split Bengal Gram] for regular meals, when I cooked Amti I was amazed at how such amalgamation of flavors of herbs and spices add so much punch to Chana Dal.

Amti is a Maharashtrian style sweet-salty-spicy-tangy Dal eaten with rice, more famous as an accompaniment to Puran Poli.  It appears that a special Maharashtrian style Goda Masala’ is used for cooking Amti, but in this Amti recipe that I’ve used (picked from Shobha Indani’s book) it’s a shorter version of the masala.  

So in case you don’t have all the ingredients required in actual Goda Masala (here’s a recipe on Sanjeev Kapoor’s page), then you may go ahead with the recipe below, still tastes great   :-)

Chana Dal Amti - Maharashtrian style Dal

How to Make Greek Yogurt at Home

Greek yogurt (aka yogurt cheese, strained yogurt, or labneh), simply put, is plain yogurt that has been strained in a cloth or some sort of filter to remove the whey, giving a consistency between that of yogurt & cheese, while preserving yogurt's distinctive taste [wiki]. 

If you think Greek Yogurt sells quite expensive outside, you can easily make Greek Yogurt at home using regular plain yogurt, it is not complicated at all.

how to make greek yogurt at home

How to Make Ghee / Clarified Butter at Home

Wiki explains it best:  clarified butter is milk fat rendered from butter to separate the milk solids and water from the butterfat.  Typically, it is produced by melting butter and allowing the different components to separate by density.  The water evaporates, some solids float to the surface and are skimmed off, and the remainder of the milk solids sink to the bottom and are left behind when the butter fat (which would then be on top) is poured off.

Clarified butter, aka Ghee in Hindi and several other names around the world, is used in many ways in India – in cooking, for serving, dipping into or brushing on food, for religious purposes, and also as skin softener for dry skin during cold winters.

how to make ghee at home
Here in the US, I get the 2lb bottle of Swad ghee for $8.99 – but in this post I am going to show you how to make ghee at home for under $2 but same quantity.  That’s right.  Totally worth it.

How to Make Paneer / Chhena (Ricotta Cheese) at Home

Paneer, aka Chhena in India, is an unaged, acid-set, non-melting farmer cheese or curd cheese made by curdling heated milk with a food acid [wiki].  Some call paneer as 'cottage cheese' whereas some call it 'ricotta cheese', but I think it is closer to ricotta cheese because making Paneer does not require rennet, cream, or buttermilk the way cottage cheese does.  It is still a highly debatable question.

how to make paneer at home

How to Grow Wheatgrass & Make Wheatgrass Juice at Home

Wheatgrass can either be grown at home or you can buy from health food store.  You can drink the juice at juice bars (such as Jamba Juice, too expensive for a shot of wheatgrass juice!) or there are bottled juices and wheatgrass in powdered forms to be mixed with water.  I grow wheatgrass at home regularly and being a vegetarian, I personally drink wheatgrass juice because of its high iron content in comparison to spinach, broccoli, etc.

how to grow wheatgrass at home
how to grow wheatgrass

Update (19 Feb 2013): FAQ on wheatgrass growing procedures and wheatgrass juicing at home, answering reader's questions. 

How to Make Green Chili, Ginger & Garlic Paste at Home

There are times in the kitchen when I am in a hurry to cook, but I would need to chop some ginger, garlic, or green chilies ... or require adding one of those pastes real quick.

Everything is available at grocery stores, but provided you have some time on hands, would you want to spend $6.99 for a bottle of garlic paste that you can make at home within $2?  

When I realized I could prepare and store garlic paste, green chili paste, and ginger paste very easily at home, I started making them in bulk without using any chemicals or artificial preservatives, also saving some bucks alongside.

How to Make Curd / Yogurt / Dahi at Home

Yogurt (US) / Yoghurt (UK)  / Curd (India) / Dahi (Hindi) is a dairy product produced by bacterial fermentation of milk, the bacteria called as 'yogurt cultures' [wiki].

Used in various cuisines around the world, from condiments to snacks, desserts to dips, and much more, even used for face masks & as natural hair conditioner - yogurt is one of the most versatile products to have in the kitchen.  And what's better than knowing the fact that you can easily make yogurt at home?!

spusht | fresh homemade yogurt | how to make curd at home
fresh homemade yogurt - how to make curd at home

Coupons: Grocery, Kitchen Items & Household Products - Part 2

With reference to Sunday newspapers in my earlier post Save Your Money – Use Coupons!, the upcoming P&G brandSAVER® coupon booklet with savings over $102 will be published on 30th October 2011.

And in continuation to the list from Coupons: Grocery, Kitchen Items & Household Products - Part 1, here are more links for some useful household products & grocery items.  You might want to read the notes & explanation & tips in Part 1 about using these websites.  Clicking on the link takes you to the offer/promotion/coupon page right away.  Also read notes below.

Recipe: Shrikhand (Indian Sweet Dish) | Greek Yogurt Dessert Idea

I cannot believe how easy it is to make Shrikhand and how long it took me to actually realize this!!!!!  If you are looking for a no cook, no bake, no gelatin, no agar agar, extremely simple, super easy, delicious and flavorful eggless dessert - then this Indian sweet dish called Shrikhand is your answer.

spusht | easy dessert recipe | indian sweet dish shrikhand

Coupons: Grocery, Kitchen Items & Household Products - Part 1

In an earlier post (Save Your Money – Use Coupons!) I mentioned 5 ways to save & shared the already-popular-yet-ignored links  :-)  Well, beside the Sunday newspapers, as time passed, I made a list of some brands / products / websites that provide printing coupons online.   I found it impossible to match the amazing 'extreme couponing' videos where they pay just few dollars for some $200 of shopping!  So I collect & clip coupons in ways that anyone else can also do without wasting much time.  Here I'm listing out simple ways to find/search/get coupons along with some direct links to help you add up your savings  :-)

Stuffed Khandvi (Pittod / Suralichi Vadi / Stuffed Chickpea Flour Rolls)

When invited at a snack potluck last week, I searched hours for various snack ideas but most of them seemed humdrum – at potlucks you want to take something unique because you like it when people appreciate, right?

I knew some others were bringing cutlets, samosas, a baked dish, sandwiches, and Mexican pinwheels.  Amid those, I thought the light snack Stuffed Khandvi from Gujarat (also known as Pittod in Rajasthan & Suralichi Vadi in Maharashtra) would be different (being the only item with chickpea flour).

Spusht | Stuffed Khandvi | Chickpea Flour Rolls
Stuffed Khandvi | Chickpea Flour Rolls | Pittod | Suralichi Vadi
Basic Khandvi is made without any stuffing & still tastes & looks great, but I added a slight variation, and had everyone complimenting on how soft & good the Khandvi was.

Recipe: Grapes & Walnut Raita

I had one whole packet of grapes at home.  Grapes that were about to rot, actually.  I needed something beyond salads to use them.  Found this raita recipe - a delicious combination of seasoned yogurt (raita) with fruit + nuts + herb + spices that turned out sooooo good!  This Grapes and Walnut Raita is going to be addictive if you have a taste like mine.

Grapes and Walnut Raita

Paneer Potato Rösti (Indian Touch to Swiss Dish)

One evening I did not have much time to cook and wanted to make something simple yet filling for dinner, so I found this Indian version recipe for Paneer Potato Rösti.

Rösti is a famous Swiss dish made primarily with potatoes, is a common breakfast item, and goes along best with sour cream (just like mashed potatoes do).

Save Your Money - Use Coupons!

In the initial days after I moved to the USA, I used to convert the currency & find some things so expensive [do I see you nodding? :D ]  Then I learned about the different kinds of coupons they use here & how it really helps save up at least a little bit each month.  Several people might not know about coupons, some might - but never use them.  And if it’s about feeling shy, stingy, or “what people may think” ... then trust me no one cares.  And even if they do, you shouldn’t – they’re not working hard to pay your bills  :-)

How Facebook Has Evolved - From Social Networking to Social Stalking

From what I've heard, in the initial years after Facebook launched in 2004, it was a university's prestige to have special access to Facebook for its students.  Then it became public.  Then it became a trend; the first thing you'd ask if someone was on Facebook, the next thing was to add them immediately.  Over the years the developers introduced several applications, improved privacy settings, launched advertisements and sponsorships, created Fan pages, added video-sharing and chat, connected and reconnected friends, families, and strangers around the world, and enhanced overall user experience.  Basically, Facebook became the only other thing (apart from women) having the power to attract people of all ages.

Recipe: Apple Kheer / Apple Rabdi / Apple Pudding

Apples were about to rot at home so while searching for Apple recipes to use them up faster before it is too late, I found this quick easy and simple recipe for Apple Kheer / Apple Pudding (you can also call it Apple Rabdi if you make it thicker!).  Should serve about 4 persons.

Apple Pudding - who would believe this kheer is made using apples?!  Try it.

Eggless Chocolate Cake | Egg-free Baking | Chocolate Cake Recipe using Yogurt

Amid the hundred of different kinds of recipes for eggless chocolate cake, here I found another one from Shobha Indani’s cookbook ‘Swad Sugandh’ that worked.  It interested me because of the use of yogurt in this cake, but in the end the taste or smell of curd is just not noticeable at all in the cake.

I also used Almonds & Walnuts (totally optional), for this cake but you can add anything else you like.  As for the frosting, out of several trial and errors I came up with something that turned out fine.

Eggless Chocolate Cake using curd
Eggless Chocolate Cake (using curd ... shhhh!)

Make the most of your appetite and money at all-you-can-eat buffet!

I actually came up with this theory (yeah right!) when I had to dine alone one day.  Since I was eating alone, I wanted to make the most of my appetite and get more value for money at this all-you-can-eat buffet.  I came up with some ways that I can apply at the salad bar restaurants, such as Sweet Tomatoes, Souper Salad, Fresh Choice, or Sizzlers.  You may try these at other kinds of restaurants or buffets and see if it works!   Since I don't eat meat, this list is limited to vegetarians.

Overheard - Wives Discussing Husbands!

I was at this place where I overheard a group of 10 female friends discussing about their troubles, their marriage, their kids and husbands, and as you know women – they were talking about any and every other topic under the sun :-)  Out of the whole 5-hour entertaining conversation that I was a part of (as a silent spectator), I thought of writing about the one that interested me the most.  For now, I’m jotting as much as I can before I forget; more to be added as I recall.  Enjoy…

Rose: How many of you fought with your husband before you came here?(Everyone raises hand and nods)

Gobi Gulistan / Tandoori Gobhi Recipe

This recipe for Vegetarian Gobi Gulistan or Tandoori Gobhi (the vegetarian version) is adapted from Shobha Indani's 'Swad Sugandh' & serves 4-6 people.  This makes a very impressive dish to serve at a party.

Gobi Gulistan: cauliflower marinated and baked in the oven

Beverage: Watermelon Chiller

I needed a cool drink to beat the summer heat and found this cool watermelon drink in Shobha Indani’s book ‘Swad Sugandh’.  This Watermelon Chiller recipe serves 6.

Rajasthani Teej Dalia Sattu | Teej Pinda

There are various types of Sattu made from rice flour, chickpea flour, wheat flour, and split roasted gram dal for the festival of Teej.

This is a simple and quick recipe of making Saatu for Teej using Split Dalia (aka Phutaani Daal).  The same recipe can be used to make Dalia Ke Laddoo as well.

(Click here if you're looking for some Marwari Teej Saatu Decoration Ideas.
Click here if you want to learn about some customs for Badi Teej festival.)

Spusht | Saatu for Rajasthani festival Teej
Saatu for Rajasthani festival Teej

Humor: World May Change; Friends Will Never!

Result agar accha ho:
When you pass your exam:
Maa – Bhagwan ki kripa hai.
Mom:  Grateful to God.
Papa – Beta kiska hai.
Dad:  My son after all.
Dost – Chal daaru peete hain.
Friends:  Let’s go drink.

Result agar bura ho:
When you fail your exam:
Maa – Aag lage is college main.
Mom:  Your college sucks.
Papa – Laad pyar ne bigaad diya.
Dad:  Our love spoilt you.
Dost – Chal daaru peete hain.
Friends:  Let’s go drink.

Naukri lagne par:
When you get a job:
Maa – Apni sehat ka khyal rakhna.
Mom:  Take care of yourself.
Papa – Khoob mehnat se kaam karma.
Dad:  Work hard.
Dost – Chal daaru peete hain.
Friends:  Let’s go drink.

Naukri chootne par:
When you lose your job:
Maa – Naukri hi kharab thee.
Mom:  Workplace was bad.
Papa – Koi baat nahin, doosri mil jayegi.
Dad:  Don’t worry, you’ll find another.
Dost – Chal daaru peete hain.
Friends:  Let’s go drink.

Birthday par:
On your birthday:
Maa – Jug jug jiye mera beta.
Mom:  Wish you a long life.
Papa – Hamesha aage badhe.
Dad:  Wish you success always.
Dost – Chal daaru peete hain.
Friends:  Let’s go drink.

Love main fail hone per:
When you’re heartbroken in love:
Maa – Beta Bhool ja usko.
Mom:  Forget her.
Papa – Mard ban.
Dad:  Be a man.
Dost – Chal daaru peete hain.
Friends:  Let’s go drink.

Shaadi par:
On your wedding:
Maa – Sadaa sukhi raho.
Mom:  Wish you happy life.
Papa – Khush raho.
Dad:  Wish you happy life.
Dost – Chal daaru peete hain.
Friends:  Let’s go drink.

Bachha hone par:
On birth of your first baby:
Maa – Bilkul mere bete par gaya/gayi hai.
Mom:  Looks just like my son.
Papa – Khush raho.
Dad:  Blessings.
Dost – Chal daaru peete hain.
Friends:  Let’s go drink.

Moral of the story:
Moral of the story:
Duniya badal jati hai, dost kabhi nahin badalte!
World changes, but friends don’t!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Note:  Received original in Hindi in an e-mail; just translated it!  No idea where it originated from!