Easy cheesy starters in your plate!

So, what’s there on the menu? How about mouthwatering appetizers before you order the meal? Usually, if you are at a hotel, you order starters before the main course. For a glass of mocktail, cocktail, a beer, wine or just a juice, you turn over the pages of the menu card and order a drink that makes your tongue dance. What about the starters? They are never ignored. Are they? Chips, groundnuts, salads, roasted papad, the choice is yours. I would call them appetizers.

And if you have invited your friends and relatives at home for a dinner party, you would still prepare atleast one or two starters. Wouldn’t you! Umm

Cooking is a drug. You can’t turn off the gas flame just after a single dish is cooked. You are always hungry for more, for some more dishes. And when you yourself cook them, it goes without saying that you like them more.

So what’s your idea of starters? Something spicy or do you like it crispy? How about preparing something simple, a cheesy delight? Cheese, yeah, we all love it as much as Jerry does in the cartoon. lol

So, cheese-cherry-pineapple on a toothpick! As simple as poking a toothpick in sliced pieces of cheese, pineapple and cherry! Sounds good? It tastes better! Irresistible indeed!

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It’s not a recipe actually as it takes less than a minute. It is the most simple-to-make snack that, even a kid can arrange.

Ingredients:

  • Sliced cheese cubes
  • Sliced pineapple
  • Half cut Cherries
  • Toothpicks
  • Ice

Recipe:

  • Place crushed pieces of ice in a dish
  • Poke one piece each of pineapple, cheese and cherry on the toothpick
  • Prepare as many toothpicks as you want
  • Place all toothpicks in a dish filled with ice
  • Serve chilled cheese-pineapple-cherry on toothpicks

The more chilled it is, more delicious it tastes. The pieces of cheese and pineapple keep your tongue twisting with a cherry on top. And that’s not all! If you like to sweeten the taste further, dip it in honey before serving. Cheese-pineapple-cherry on toothpick is a great snack. Name it as a cocktail snack or a quick teaser to eat in between the meals. Fresh juicy pineapple and cherry when paired with cheese not only tastes yummy but also helps in digesting the proteins.

Cheese-pineapple-cherry on toothpick is just a perfect healthy and quick snack. Simple to make in rush hours, isn’t it?

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Being amongst the ‘Warkaris’ of the Palkhi!

Today, as the Palkhi enters Pune city, I remembered my journey last year. In 2011, I was a part of it. Tell you what, you get Goosebumps when you see the streets filling up with thousands of devotees. I still remember! I walked as a Warkari amongst the ‘Warkaris’. I marched as a devotee from Swargate to Saswad. I will cherish my experience throughout my life.

The tradition of the Palkhi is followed since 1685. The ‘Warkaris’, they walk almost 450 kilometers every year. Yes, 2.5 lakh devotees begin their 450 kilometers journey from Alandi and Dehu road to Pandharpur. For them, it’s a journey to remember! ‘Dnyanba Tukaram’, ‘Dnyneshwar Mauli Dnyanaraja Mauli Tukaram’ is what they sing, when they carry the ‘padukas’ (wooden sandals) of Sant Dnyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram.

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You just cannot describe the atmosphere that you see on the streets. Lively and colorful! They dress up fresh white kurtas, dhoti and a pair of chappals. Thousands of devotees walk barefoot. Men wear green, yellow, red, orange, blue, white and maroon color turbans, ‘fetas’. Women wear sarees and jewelry.

Streets fill up with people. Old and young, men and women, everyone walks. So, do they get tired? No way! You won’t see any pain or tiredness on their faces. The pleasure of walking such a long distance reflects with a smile. Every step is taken with an urge to reach their destination Pandharpur. Hats off to their stamina and to their devotion!

In 2011, I walked 35 kilometers, from Swargate to Saswad. For me, walking up the Dive Ghat was more than a challenge. As I reached Dive Ghat, I came across a few devotional scenes. While climbing the hill, the devotees were picking up fallen stones and arranging them one on another. When asked about the act, they said, “Pick up the stones and keep them one on the other. The number of stones you pile up on each other indicates how big a home you desire. If you desire a 3 storied house, you should place 3 stones one upon another.”

Nice, I did my part too, and prayed for my dream home. Home, sweet home! Throughout the walk to Dive Ghat, my muscles were on fire. The last few kilometers, till Saswad bus station, I kept pushing myself to walk. The people around me farmers, devotees, their songs, ‘bhajans’ and the lively atmosphere kept me going. Ofcourse, when the Palkhi arrives, the rain has to follow.

For a change, being a Warkari, walking amongst the ‘Warkaris’ during the Palkhi Festival, was a dream come true. A walk to remember, a life time experience! It’s worth being a part of the Palkhi again.

Quick tangy tasty recipes of Monaco biscuits

Last week, we had a small get-together at my place. On a nice lazy Sunday, at 5.00 pm, with sun flashing mild rays of light, the air around was getting nice and breezy. I was sitting in the kitchen, chitchatting and my mom was preparing tea. A pack of Monaco, kept in the shelf, attracted my eyes. And then what, a simple recipe tempted me to decorate the biscuits. What a perfect timing it was! Bang on!

Usually you would dip them in your cup of tea or coffee and eat an entire packet of Monaco. Yeah, they are that much tasty. Monaco biscuits leave behind a salty tango taste in the mouth. Today, you get them in many flavors and with added ingredients. The simply salted ones taste the best. But Monaco biscuits aren’t just the ‘chai’ time biscuits. Naah they are more than that. Right?

Talking about simply salted Monaco biscuits, they are the party appetizers. You can make them taste the way you want. Although one full pack of round, salted, crispy Monaco biscuits fulfill your ‘chai’ time hunger, they are a perfect snack in-between the meals.

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Flavor them, sauce them and decorate them the way you want. Here is a simple Monaco delight recipe, a snack that everyone is aware of. Enjoy them in-between the meals.

Ingredients:

  • Monaco biscuits-1 pack
  • Sliced cheese cubes
  • Tomato ketchup
  • Corn pieces
  • Green salad leaves/ lettuce
  • Pepper

Recipe:

  • Place Monaco biscuits in a plate and sauce them up with hot-n-sweet tomato ketchup (any sauce of your choice)
  • Slice-up cheese pieces on the biscuits
  • Sprinkle pepper and place small-cut green salad/ lettuce leaves on top
  • Decorate the biscuits with corn pieces and any other toppings of your choice

A tea time biscuit, Monaco, is a popular snack, a great appetizer before a meal. Talking about with what toppings to decorate the biscuits, it depends on your choice taste.

Hot-n-spicy groundnut chatni for your meal!

Like, if you are good at rice, you might just try different biryanis or pulaos. If you are good at chicken you might bake or fry different chicken dishes. Or you might simply like to stick around with your cake recipes. Why is this so? Simply because you are good at it, right? Exactly!

But cooking isn’t restricted to just one kind of recipe. Whether you’ve done it before or not, you can always try your hand to make different dishes. Rice, noodles, parathas, pizzas, curries, salads, pickles, chatnis, shakes and desserts, you can try them all. There is no harm in trying. The dish might not taste good, the first time you cook it. But the second time you will definitely mix accurate ingredients to cook a perfect taste. Finger licking perfect taste!

You just can’t say ‘no’ to cook when you yourself are a foodie. I am a foodie. I’ve tried many different recipes and enjoyed cooking them all. I like spicy food as much as desserts.

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Parathas and chapatis taste awesome when served hot. They taste the best when served with a chatni, pickle or curd. To kick off, I tried making a chatni, a very simple yet spicy recipe.

Here is the recipe for hot-n-spicy groundnut chatni that I made:

Ingredients:

  • Grinded groundnuts-1 bowl
  • Garlic-8 to 10 petals
  • Oil-2 tablespoon
  • Rai seeds-1 tablespoon
  • Salt- 1/3 tablespoon
  • Black pepper- 1/3 tablespoon
  • Red chili powder- 1/3 tablespoon
  • Sugar- 1/4 tablespoon

Recipe:

  • Heat the oil in a small pan
  • Boil the rai seeds until they make noise
  • Fry the garlic petals in oil until they turn reddish brown
  • Pour the oil-rai seeds-garlic mixture in the bowl of grinded groundnuts
  • Add salt, black pepper, red chili powder and sugar as per taste
  • Stir well to get an equal taste
  • Serve the chatni with hot chapatis or parathas

As the chatni was ready, I ate it and …wow! The crunchy little pieces of garlic made my tongue twist. It tasted sugary spicy, mouth-watering!

Hot-n-spicy groundnut chatni, just what the parathas in your plate wanted!

The Dabbawalas Of Mumbai

Posted: June 2, 2012 in heroes
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The Dabbawalas Of Mumbai!

They are in the Gunnies Books of World Records! Their management lessons are taught to students in schools like Indian institute of Management in Ahmedabad, IFIM Business School in Bangalore and Richard Ivey School of Business in Ontario. Their operations are 99.9999 percent error free, no wonder their performance is Six Sigma registered. They are now the management gurus for many industrialists. They are non-other than, The Dabbawalas of Mumbai. Hats off to them!

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Irrespective of what weather says, the dabbawalas take efforts to fulfill the hunger of Mumbaikars, every day. Every morning, they pick up lunch boxes from the houses of office goers to deliver them at their respective office. After lunch, they collect the lunch boxes and deliver them back to their homes. Not a single day is missed and not a single dabba is misplaced. This routine is being followed by the dabbawalas since past 120 successful years.

They sweat in the sun and get wet in the rains, just to fill the hunger and thirst of thousands of residents in Mumbai. And thats not all, they are a subject of major television networks and BBC documentaries for their error free management of operations. The dabbawalas hardly miss out on any delivery. Strong communities of 5000 dabbawalas reach out to over 250000 Mumbaikars for timely delivery of their lunch boxes. The dabbawalas of Mumbai city are popular for their punctuality, organization, efficiency and management of daily operations.

Although Mumbaikars are used to crowded local trains, it is a tough task to carry any luggage along with. Kudos to the dabbawalas, they load and unload thousands of dabbas in the boogies. And that’s not all; they rightly remember which dabbas belong to which address. Not a single dabba is misplaced, thanks to the code which they memorize! By unloading the dabbas at stations, the dabbawalas load them back on their cycle or on their hand-carts to deliver them from door to door.

After all hard work, the only thing these dabbawalas carry on their face, is a smile. Dabbawalas of Mumbai, they are the real heros!

Cooking -As Tasty As It Can Get

Posted: May 29, 2012 in cuisine
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Cooking -As Tasty As It Can Get

So, when did I come to know that I am a good cook? Well, during my school days, I used to roll chapatis in shapes of maps, cut vegetables and even boil the eggs for breakfast. Now, I have learnt many recipes. Yeah, I do cook at home often and have tried many recipes so far. Being a foodie helps me try different recipes.

It was a year ago, when our office had planned a cooking day. I was the first employee to get excited when the HR announced about ‘Cooking Day’ being planned in office. We all had to form groups and cook for the entire office. This was the first time that I tried my hand at Veg Pulao, for as many as 25 people. Yeah, right, I did cook for 25 people, and tell you what, it tasted awesome. Finger licking good!

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On the Boxing Day, the ‘Cooking Day’ I came to office all bags packed with required ingredients. The gas cylinder and utensils was already set-up in the lunch room with other basic requirements.

Here is the recipe of Veg Pulao that I cooked

Ingredients:

  • Rice-2kg
  • Onion-1kg
  • Paneer-500g
  • Carrot-500g
  • Pineapple-250g
  • Mava/khava-250g
  • Green peas-250g
  • Butter-250g
  • Cauliflower-250g
  • Fresh green chilies 2
  • Salt (as per taste)
  • Pepper (as per taste)

Recipe:

  • Heat some butter in a hot pan and fry the green chilies until they turn brown.
  • As the butter melts, fry the onions, carrots, green peas, cauliflower and paneer until they turn golden-yellow.
  • Add salt and pepper in the mixture and set it aside.
  • Cook the rice in a normal utensil, not in a cooker. Add some salt as per taste in the rice as well.
  • Mix the cooked rice in the above mixture and stir well on a low flame.
  • Sprinkle the mava and pineapple chunks equally in the rice at the end.
  • Serve hot Veg Pulao with a cherry on top.

For me, icing on the cake was, the rice recipe turned out to be very tasty. I enjoy cooking and enjoyed it this time more.

Cooking is exciting, yes it is! No matter how good or bad you are at it, you can at least give a try. When you see seeds of green chilly pop-up in the hot pan, or fresh green peas swim in the butter, you will have water in your mouth. Wont you? When the butter melts on those juicy paneer pieces and when the mava/khava sweetens the slices of carrots for a yummy taste, you feel like being the first one to taste them.

Anyone can cook and when it comes to the recipe, choice is yours. At times, you get tempted to try your hand to cook your favorite recipe! Don’t you?

The message was beautifully passed in the Hollywood film Ratatouille, ‘Anyone can cook!’ So did me!

Running up the hills, hard to say ‘no’

I see myself as a guy who likes to exercise regularly. Being a foodie, I make sure to work-out on a regular note. Visiting a gym is optional for me but doing natural exercises like warm-ups, push-ups, dips, Surya Namaskar, jogging and crunches is a routine.

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Waking up early in the morning at 6.00 am to reach a nearby hill for a jog is always there on the cards for me. It’s the best time of the day, a pleasure to run in fresh air. I consider running on the hill as a beautiful fitness routine. Even if you walk, up the hill, it does make a difference. As my home is positioned in between Chatturshringi Temple, Symbiosis College Hill and Law College Hill, I always have a choice to make.

What I like the most about jogging, up on the mountains is, I get the best chance to test my speed, stamina, fitness and capacity. When I run a distance, my tongue does come out like a dog and my tummy gets a painful pinch. Lol

Running up on the hill drains out every drop of water from the body, but the feeling that I get after covering a distance is just priceless. My experience of running says, ‘the slower you run, more the distance you will cover. ‘Slower’ doesnt actually mean very slow. Just avoid to sprint from the word go. The only thing that you need to do well to run more is breathe, breathe hard.

A slow and steady start is what you need to make to cover more distance. Maintain the pace, control the breath and move your hands to support your run. Carrying a bottle of water to sip in between is good. Infact, it is a must! It’s a low-risk approach actually. More the water your body drains out in the form of sweat, more you need to drink to regain lost energy. Even a fresh lime juice would do the trick. For those who exercise regularly, it’s never hard to say ‘yes’ to run up the hills.

The pleasure of running on the hill is truly magical. It is different! It’s an amazing feeling when you run in between tall green trees surrounded by rocks. When the sun peeps out from the trees, I just feel like saying ‘Good Morning, thanks for the light you share’. Nature is at its best, when I jog on the rocks, with trees standing tall.

Jogging is priceless! When the sweat rolls down the body, when calf muscles feel the pull and when tummy gets the crunches, you’ll get the feeling of a perfect run. Don’t forget to drink water in breaks, just smaller sips to regain energy lost in sweat!

Running up the hills! It’s really hard to say ‘no’ to it!