The motherhood paradox in mammels

Dastkar. Kalakshetra. Middle of september in Chennai. Sunday evening. An artsy, peaceful, colourful, soulful experience. 

We walk back to the car park and there we see him. The size of my palm. Pale. Petrified. Shivering. His heart racing. Uncertainly hovering around the security gaurd. Powdered marie biscuit lay next to the chair of the two big burly men in blue uniforms. Sarang has a natural way of attracting animal attention. He comforted him almost instantly. Kedar followed suit. 

“Please take it ma! It has come last night and it is refusing to eat the biscuit. I dont know what to do with it…” blurted the gaurd, helpless.

I look outside the gate. The clouds seem to suddenly descend and the pleasant evening turned to a scary dark. Vehicles seem to scream throwing their mighty headlights at each other as if they were in a war zone. The transition between daylight to dark seemed to have happened in a flash. 

The big decision weighed on me as I stared at my kids’ loving eyes and pleading voices, leaving me with no choice but to bring this little fellow back home. He was already clinging on to sarang for dear life. It was kids’ happiness and the kittens safety vs my inexperience and hectic schedule- the former won the battle!

I have never had a pet at home before. I told myself it is a matter of a day or two until we give him away. He clung on to sarang through out the drive back home. 

I had my first sleepless night with a child in my arms after almost 7 years! He woke me up every couple of hours for a feed. He isn’t well as he is passing blood everytime he eats. Fingers crossed am taking him to the doctor, after promising my son that he would be there when he returned home from school. 

It is strange how ‘mothers’ among other mammals are protective alright, but only for her healthy kids – those that can survive. Others are left out of the pack! She lets her kids learn the hard way at the same time is a rock to them!

Food for thought! 

Paradox is here- we humans claim we are evolved mammals. We pay too much attention to our children and protect them too much. When we raise animals too, am afraid, we spoil them just as much! If we let our children fight it out like the other mammal mothers do, they should theoretically be much better fighters right?

I might say all this but I am spoiling my kitten silly alright!! Wink wink..


Olives and red beet savoury pancakes

Ok! That was hard – making parathas sound mastercheffy!

My kids love red beet parathas. Today I thought of trying to add a tangy ingredient to the recipe as I did not have aamchur powder with me.

Olives is something both my kids love. I know bottled olives are no where close to organic and has a lot of preservatives, but I do keep stock of green and black olives at home for those cheat days.

Today, the ‘pinggg’ happened in my head when I thought – why not add olives in parathas and see how it tastes.

I added these to the 3 cups of wheat flour for the dough.

1/2 a tsp of fennel seeds,

A pinch of caraway seeds,

6-7 bird-eye green chilies finely chopped,

5 small red beets washes peeled and grated

5 small potatoes, boiled and peeled

Salt to taste

1/2 tsp of turmeric powder

1/4 tsp of red chilly powder

1/2 tbsp of sesame oil

2 tbsps full of chopped preserved olives (washed)

Washing the olives removes some brine from them, helps get rid of the ‘preserved’ taste.

Turmeric – This I always add to anything that I add chilly or chilly powder to because it negates the cancerous content of chillies.

I kneeded all this into soft dough. Water wasn’t required at all. Divided them into balls and rolled them out into soft parathas..

The taste of tangy olives with bite of  sweet fennel seeds was a refreshing taste that all of us relished. We had this with honey. You can even have it with achaar or jams.






Organic corn can be a bit of a challenge!

My kids love soups. Sweet corn and mushroom soups are their favourite.

However, I dont like to buy frozen corn packets or processed cornflour. 

This time in OFM I found fresh corn cobs with golden orange corn inside! I grabbed it and dreamed of corn soup.

I dont know why but organic corn cobs are always tough to work with. Kernals are always hard, no matter how much we cook it, it never turns soft.

This time I decided to work it no matter what. 


Two carrots

Ten bush beans

One onion

One medium potato

Four cloves of garlic

All these diced fine.

Olive oil to glaze the wok

One bayleaf

Three small corn cobs

Salt, pepper powder

One tsp oregano flakes

Handful of coriander stalk and leaves.

Half a lemon juice


Glaze hot wok with oil and add the diced veggies and the bayleaf. Throw in some salt and water and let the veggies cook in boiling water.  

Steam the corn on cob and remove kernals. Beat them in a food processor with some water. Strain it and add the corn milk to the soup.

Grind coriander leaves and strain the juice into the soup. Once it comes to a boil, switch it off and add the oregano leaves, lemon juice and pepper powder and adjust the salt.

Lovely sweet corn soup is ready!

But what happens to this now?

Dont discard it just yet. Wait till the next post!

´╗┐Chilly chocolate with coffee almond

It is time for the next sweet experiment. This time I decide to go a little bit wild and indulge myself.

Chemistry of chilly and chocolate are unmistakable. And the marriage of chocolate with coffee is eternal. Almonds are my protein base for this season.

As always, with arunachala on my lips and Ramana in my mind I stepped into this experiment.


Five cloves

Five cardamoms

Two small redchillies

10 black peppercorns

Half a cup of chocolate powder

Quarter cup of instant coffee powder

Grind the above into a fine powder.

Four cups of almonds soaked and peeled

Add this to the powder and grind into a fine paste preferably with no additional water.


Three cups of refined white sugar ( if you have a very sweet tooth you could do four cups­čśť)

Bring together:

Mix this with two table spoons of water in a wok and bring to heat. Once it comes to a stringy consistancy, add the almond mix and stir till fat leaves the sides and it comes together like a thick dough.

Biscuit powder:

This is optional, but it does add to the texture. Beat a pack of bisuits (any kind).

Keep a plate ready with ghee smeared and spread some of the biscuit powder on it.

Then pour in the almond cake and spread the rest of the powder on top.

Leave to cool in the fridge for an hour and cut it into shapes or make small balls and pop them in your mouth!


Chaat- concept food!

Coming from Delhi – the land of fast food, chaat is high up on my list of mouth-watering delicacies, be it home-made or bought out.

During both my pregnancies I craved madly for chaat. Pregnancies are over, children have grown up but craving doesn’t still subside!

Chennai is far away from the land of chaats- Delhi, Bombay, or Calcutta, however, in the last ten years that I have been here I have seen the city grow and adapt itself to the needs of us immigrants, gracefully. Right from small thela- valahs to well constructed neatly glazed cha(a)t rooms with a/c have propped up everywhere! 

The way I understand chaat is a bit different. It is more a concept than a mere recipe. I make it at home with this in mind; I use the concept and bend the recipes to include crazy flavour combinations to create a quick lip-smacking snack. 

For example- pani poori balls, freshly fried filled with spicy salsa with tomatoes and chillies, topped with hung curd dressing flavoured with cool cucumbers and garlic. Corn salsa mixed with date sauce, topped with green chutney mixed with thick yogurt, garnished with sev and coriander leaves. 

I recently came across a chaat joint in Chennai that has adopted this idea of creating chaat items with a twist – a place called Indiska Magic, Harrington road.

Here there is chaat with an interesting dimension. Each item on the menu is well thought out and brought on a plate testing your taste buds! And by that I DO NOT mean cheese is the most innovative addition! (By the way I think adding cheese to everything makes it nothing but ABCD!!!)

They have some originals on the menu which are unbeatable! The elusive pav bhaji.. It arrives on a sizzling platter, hot with the goodness of melting white butter straight from the hot wok with soft buns toasted with crunchy golden corners. It took me straight back ten years – to Haldirams in Delhi!

These are their special items. Their Lucknowi galoutis are crispy nan breads greased in fresh fat rolled with tangy goodness of veggies blended with soft panner. Each bite is a trip into flavour paradise!

Their Mathura ki bedmi poori aloo is NOT the usual ‘boorisaeedishh’ that we get everywhere else. The aloo is well cooked and seasoned, soaking in the goodness of a gravy with a yogurt base flavoured with rich turmeric and a spice powder that travels all the way from Mathura. It IS a secret! This is served with a pickle – soaked fenugreek with tamarind and greenchillies thrown in with whole fennel seeds. The combination is another trip all the way to food heaven and back!

They created the yummy but unhealthy aloo chaat into a healthy replacement with sweet potatoes instead of potatoes. Trust me you wont know the difference unless you have a keen sense of taste! It is so worth adopting this trick with difficult children and conning them into good food!

Their slushes were also very original. Kala khatta did not taste like an essenced cocacola like it usually does and their aam panna was filled with colour but had a naughty sweet and salt flavour that brought a smile on my face with each sip.

All I will say is DO NOT miss this place! 

That is not it. They are the only outlet in Chennai to sell various kinds of baklawas and kunafas which are delicacies straight from the land of the Mediterraneans.  

One trip will not ever do justice to this haven of fast food!

Travel theplas

All women know what a weekend getaway with short notice entails – left over food check! Dosai maavu back up check! Emergency Veggies and fruits for arriving day check! Dishes in the sink wash check!
Except this time for me it was a shorput size ball of chapati dough left over. 

Making plain chapatis and carrying them with sugar is ghee is not my idea of responsible motherhood. 

I got an idea.

I made a dry spice powder and mixed in more atta and some chickpea flour along with the left over coriander leaves.

Ingredients for dry spice powder

Onion seeds – one tsp, 
Coriander seeds – one tsp
Fennel seeds – one tsp
Carom seeds – one pinch
Red chilly powder – half a tsp
Turmeric powder -half a tsp

I put in all seeds in a morter and pestle and ground them to a fine powder and mixed them with red chilly and urmeric powder.

I added the powder to the old chapati dough along with,
One more cup of atta
One table spoonful chickpea flour
Two table spoonfuls sesame oil (use any organic nut oil)

Coriander leaves
finely chopped 
And salt.

As I rummaged the fridge I also saw an old bottle with the last bit of pickle left in it which the spoon in there found difficult to reach out to! I emptied that into the dough.
I mixed the dough well and added some water when required. I made sure the dough wasnt as soft and hydrated as chapati dough should be. It was more like a puri dough consistency. I then rolled them into small balls and flattened them like we make rotis, only this time, I used oil instead of dry atta for rolling. And then cooked them off on a hot tawa. And I basted them all with ghee to let them remain soft for the next two days for travel.

Yup! We were taking a road trip down south the next day early morning. Back up plan for kids­čśł­čśł

A few packets of ketchup and yumm theplas were ready for the backpack along with water and fruits!