Love, bliss and shining stars


Selfless love, bliss and shining stars are terms I’ve always heard and cringed a bit. For those of you who know me know I am not a mushy person. Never would I’ve thought that I would put up with someone’s shit and still love them. But as always I was proven wrong…

Expression of ‘selfless love’ is unique at different ages & phases of our journey. I think mine came at the age of 20 when my first niece was born. Kyra took over my position of being the baby in the family. In fact, the first day I met her, she was this tiny package of sheer perfectness. Seeing her that day I just couldn’t close my eyes and miss a moment of admiring how flawlessly beautiful she was. Of course, the next morning wasn’t great but I think it was totally worth it !

I lived with her for her first 2 years and I can without any doubt say those have been the best! Each day was a new lesson with her. My first lesson came in week 1 with her, it was when I realised that it is in fact possible to clean someones shit (literally) and still love them more each day. That’s when it struck me selfless love can have simple and humble beginnings like this. I know this may come across as shallow and even trivial to some people but this is the strongest emotion I have experienced.

The best things always come to you for short periods of time and so was my experience of living with her on a day-to-day basis. Kyra, I wish I could watch you grow up each day and spend all my time teaching you things and warning you of every personal failure so you can sail through this journey of life. Having said that, I assure you the distance will not save you from me chewing your ear advising you and teaching you everything even if it is not in person.

As you grow up and face challenges of your own, I want you to know there are a lot of us looking out for you. I cannot promise to have all the solutions to your problems but what I can promise is to be a patient listener. To be there for you if you need to make any 3am calls or sharing things without the fear of being judged. I assure you there is nothing at all that can change the way I feel about you in this whole wide world. :)

But I have to warn you there is a one thing I cannot promise you. There is a price to pay for all of that abundant love (selfless love is a bit overrated huh?). I cannot promise you that I wont be that crazy aunt who embarrasses by hugging, kissing & chasing you in front of your friends.

In the end of this post, I want you to know you were the one who taught me how to love and what being blissfully happy means. Not like I haven’t already embarrassed you enough, but I will still go ahead and say you were, are and always will be my shining star!

KyraGuga

Zucchini rolls


Zucchini or Courgette is a very light veggie and goes well with pasta’s, salad’s and I personally think its lightness makes it a great starter for any party!

Here’s a quick (under 15 min) and delicious Zucchini rolls stuffed with olives recipe that is bound to be popular with any crowd.

Ingredients :
Zucchini – 1
Green Olives – 5-7
Oregano – a couple of pinches
Salt – to taste

Get thin ribbons of zucchini, I used the old school grater cum slicer that I have. Season the ribbons with a little salt. Ideally you need to grill these for a couple of seconds to get a lovely charred colour and taste but since I don’t have a griller I stuck to use a non-stick pan with almost no oil so as to get the charred effect. You can add a drop or two if your non-stick pan isn’t really non-stick anymore… Turn the ribbons and it would only take 30secs on an extremely hot pan. So you would need to be quick…

For the filling, throw some chopped olives, oregano and tiny crumbles of cheese or cheese shavings. Ensure the cheese is much smaller than the olives in size so olives dominate the flavour of the rolls and also you can make it that tiny bit healthier ;)

Next stuff your filling into the zucchini ribbons and roll away!

Zucchini rolls

Babies bring joy!


As of 12th February ’14 we have a new baby in the family, my niece baby Mehr! Yay!! Am an aunt again…. Mehr means ‘blessing’ in some languages, it’s also an alternative name to the Zoroastrianism divinity Mithra. I can tell you this little bundle is truly a blessing…

In just these few days I’ve seen the new parents on the block beaming with pride of their creation. Grandparents who just can’t get enough of admiring how perfect she is. A little 3yr old cousin who can’t wait to share her toys with her new playmate. And us aunt’s claiming our right’s over the little one always demanding more pictures and video calls to see those teeny-tiny yawns and dreamy smiles…

The atmosphere in the house is so upbeat & all the cloudy grey days seem a little less grey now. Let’s hope the happiness continues *Touchwood*. Here’s to you baby Mehr and all the joy you’ve brought us!

Below is what Mehr’s grandparents whipped together for her homecoming, I melted with the warmth of the gesture. 
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Beechwood Cafe & Bakery


This is my first restaurant review for NYC (NJ) and I wanted to start with my absolute favourite, so here I am reviewing Beechwood Cafe and Bakery. I L.O.V.E Beechwood & I refuse to tone down the emotion just in case you are unsure about visiting this spot. 

Even when it comes to their decor there is hardly anything you can pick fault with. From the cosy feel, to their striped canopy, Marilyn Monroe poster to juice served in mason jars it’s all perfect.

Almost every component in the dishes I tried was spot on. Will start listing out my favourite dishes @ Beechwood.

The freshly squeezed orange juice in the mason jar was indeed fresh (no behind the scenes Tropicana I assure you!).
Orange juice 1

Berry Mix Pancakes – These are by far the best pancakes I have had with real berries even in the pancake. Cherry on the cake (or here pancake) was of course the berry compote. Loved the fact that there was no berry jam thrown in. With real berries and lovely (non-soggy) pancakes one cannot ask for much more…

Berry mix pancake 1

Fried Tofu Eggs Benedict – I was a little weary of ordering fried tofu as a lot of places serve rubbery chewy tofu in the name of frying it, thankfully that wasn’t the case here. The tofu was breaded, very light in texture & not oily. The soy based sauce with chillies for the tofu was another stunner. Eggs were of course done to perfection (as expected).

Fried Tofu eggs benedict

Home fries – This was the next surprise Beechwood had in store for us. They were crispy, perfectly seasoned with peppers and scallions, most importantly they were not oily or soggy. Though I have to confess that the home fries were not consistently as good on multiple visits… Sigh!

Home fries

Belgian Waffles – These looked welcoming like the other dishes but I just had a bite so I cannot tell you much more than my friend definitely ate her plate clean and claimed it was good.

Belgian waffle

Pecan pie – Spot on, the pecan nuts were perfectly roasted and caramelized. The pie itself wasn’t overpoweringly sweet which was a welcome change.
Pecan pie

Cranberry Walnut Tart – This was just an ok dessert. I guess it was the freshness that it was missing…

Cranberry Walnut tart

Overview :
Where : Grove St, Jersey City
Meal : Brunch
Pocket pinch : $$
Ambiance : Cosy
Links : Yelp (Please do not judge by the reviews on yelp alone as this place was recently renovated or so I hear)
Will I visit again: Having visited 4 times in 6 weeks I think this is a no-brainer… YES!

I was itching to give it a 4.5 but owing to the lack of consistency with the home fries, I had to hold myself back. 

Rating : 4/5  

Chicken with boozy mushroom sauce


Being accustomed to Indian food where there are a dozen or more spices in one dish it was difficult (baffling even) for me to imagine a meal with just salt and pepper as spices. But I guess that’s where you fall back on true flavour of the ingredients. So here is my attempt at working with just salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne…

Ingredients:
2 Medium sized Chicken breasts
Potato – 1 Small cut into half
Mushrooms 100 gms
Flour 1Tbspn
Vodka/White wine 1/4 Cup
1 Small sized Onion –  finely diced
Salt – to taste
Black Pepper (freshly cracked) – to taste
Cayenne Pepper – a pinch
Olive oil or butter – 1Tblspn

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Lets face the hardest part of this recipe first – its the choice between olive oil and butter. It translates into appeasing your taste buds vs going healthy. For me it was the former (clearly!) so I went for the butter but nothing stopping you from being good! ;)

Now that we are through that, lets get cracking. Take the chicken and add some salt, freshly cracked black pepper and a pinch of cayenne and rub these in. Let it rest for 5mins until you chop the mushrooms and onions. Next, in a non-stick pan add some olive oil or butter put the chicken breast in till you get a light golden colour on both sides but do not fully cook! Put the two pieces of potatoes in the pan, sprinkle salt and get a nice golden colour to the base of the flat face of the potatoes. As earlier make sure you do not cook them fully. In a preheated oven, add the chicken and the potatoes to cook for about 20mins at 280 degs.

For the sauce use the same pan & oil you used for frying the chicken to not lose the lovely flavours, add extra oil/butter if needed. Add the onions & cook only till they are translucent do not wait for them to get brown/crispy. Next add the mushrooms, salt, pepper and let it cook till the mushrooms are soft. Next add the booze and stir till it evaporates. Here is where you can either add some chicken stock if you like, I personally prefer to stay true to the mushroom & booze flavour so I add a little bit of water and a already mixed flour-water mix to avoid any flour balls in the sauce. Simmer until the sauce till it thickens and its done ! 

Thai steamed Fish


Healthy, easy and tasty are things that everyone wants their meal to be but lets face it getting all three of them together is rare. Don’t those curly fries or sausages look way better than what the salad bar has to offer? Believe me you’re not alone, I have been guilty of picking sausages, mash & fried chicken over all those healthy looking not-so-tasty things.

Eaten by my guilt decided to look for any dish that was healthy (not a drop of oil) and tasty and most importantly something that would be hot. Thai-style steamed fish is just the thing that meets all of the criteria and the best thing is it is easy and takes about 15 mins only. Which makes it something you could try making on a weekday!

Ingredients:
White fish fillets
Chopped ginger
Chopped garlic
Light soy sauce
Sea salt
Coarsely ground red chilly to sprinkle
Some spinach or bok choy

IMG_2020

In a foil put all of the ingredients and make a package out of it making sure there is some room for the steam to escape. Steam for 15 mins and enjoy this with rice or cous cous if you want to go healthier!

Mission : Regret free 2014


So after a long long time I am back here! Considering I was speaking of new years resolution in my previous post, there is some level of continuity here…

I tried not telling people my new years resolutions last year and that dint get me very far so I am going to try the opposite approach this time around. I know I am late in updating these on the blog but in my defense I was still working on the finer details…

Moving on, here are my resolutions for the year :

Explore restaurants : Let’s get started with one of my personal favourites. If you know me, you’d not be surprised to know this is about food. My friends & I have decided to go to one restaurant we haven’t been to before every week. The key here is it needs to be our first time to the restaurant! This was so we could discover NYC and the food places here (Yes, I moved from London to NYC earlier in the year)…

Gym : After all that yummy food, its not hard to guess that gymming would be next on the list. I’ve resolved to go to the gym at least thrice each week plus an extra time for each meal that I eat outside (other than the one covered by resolution 1, come on I need to make it sound do-able!). Target is to to be able to do a 5K under 30 mins by the end of the year.

Say sorry : This one is a bit tougher, its about saying the first sorry… Its about making a genuine attempt to break out of cold-war’s you get into with close people. By the end you don’t even remember whose fault it was just that the outcome isn’t what you want. So say that first sorry and make the effort to amend those important relationships.

Travel : After one serious one, time for something easy to digest… My biggest regret when I moved over from London was that I dint travel enough in and around the UK. I was certain I dint want to harbour the same regret even in this new continent. So I have decided to travel around and not wait until all the factors are perfect. Travel alone if that’s what it comes to but travel!

Invest time getting dressed for work : To understand the next one, you need to know a tad bit about how lazy a person I am that I even dress sloppy to work. While people at my workplace actually dress like the characters in the show Suits! So I clearly am an aberration there, I hope to fix this… This would be the hardest resolution I think,  as I’d need to forego my sleep and spend that extra half hour blow drying my hair or finding the right shoes. Sigh! I am a bit skeptical this one would work but I think its worth putting in any way.

Learn how to dance: With my two left feet and 20-something years of moving like a robot I don’t think I can pull this off right away but I just wish I am no more that girl people can chuckle at when I ‘dance’ more like attempt to move when inebriated.

Read : I wish I had more time to read that I could commit to a book each week but I think it would be far from realistic. Sticking to at least one book a month is pretty much all I can with all my other commitments. Though I will do my best to read books outside of my comfort zone.

Connect with friends : Get in touch & meet up with friends and family in this part of the world. Something I decide to do ‘tomorrow’ for the past 6 months…

Update the blog regularly : The last and final one is to not ignore my blog! I must find the time to document each restaurant we visit weekly.

Now that it’s all in black and white, there is no escaping! Bring it on 2014!

What’s your New Years Resolution?


This happens to be one of the most common questions as we step into a shining new year. Just in case you are thinking this post is about my resolutions then no, that’s not what this is about.

Each time we are asked about our new year’s resolution, we are quite excited to share them with our friends and family as these are things we have carefully thought over and makes sense to share them. According to a study by Derek Silvers, when we share our goals or resolutions – we are less likely to stick to them and see them through. We might just need to come up with a witty way to brush this question aside each time it comes up  and may be our resolution would last a week longer… Who knows? ;)

Lets hope we manage to zip our mouths and achieve what we aimed for! :)
Have a successful & happy 2013 :)

Water for Elephants


waterForElephantsIn essence this is clichéd love triangle where a guy meets a girl. She plays a damsel in distress and the guy rescues her from her evil husband. I know this doesn’t in the least sound new or exciting but I have to confess that an unusual setting and a great narrative is all it takes to make even such a clichéd story line gripping and  entertaining.

This story is set in the post war depression period in the US. Jacob who is a medical student at Cornell university – studying to be a vet. He looses his parents in a car accident and doesn’t have a home or money for tuition. In a moment of daze he leaves he climbs onto a train which happens to be the Benzini Brothers circus train. Soon he finds himself as the vet for the exotic animals there.

The circus here reveals something dark and grim under the glamorous and entertaining appearance. When the number of people on the train grew more than its capacity or if some employees suffered from incurable diseases due to contamination, the solution was to simply execute them by pushing them off the moving train.

Another classic example for this is Marlena’s marriage to August. On the exterior their marriage is rosy and picture perfect. August seems charming, caring and more. But on looking a little deeper you realize the reality isn’t quite this. Marlena suffers in the relationship as August is a schizophrenic – she eloped from home for the charming August who in reality did not exist. Not having a home to go back to, Marlena silently suffered in this dysfunctional relationship. And then Jacob comes along and there is an instant attraction and rescues her.

Overall, this is a good read. But like I said earlier the main story line is not unheard of but the setting in a larger than life post-war US circus is a winner. Another positive is the narration – the whole story is narrated by Jacob who is in his 90s and in a nursing home. A casual summer read – not something that will knock your socks off.

Overall verdict : 3.5/5

An Ashamed Indian


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Today for the first time in my 23 years have I felt ashamed to be an Indian. I used to be the one talking about Incredible India,  our culture and value’s, our traditions. Today I feel I have lost every right to boast about my country, society and culture after the recent Delhi gang rape case. We have seen other negative portrayal of our people and government – be it the Common Wealth Games scam or the 2G scam – we have seen it all but there was still a hope somewhere that not everything is lost. Unfortunately I doubt I can say the same today or any more.

In our Indian society when a woman is violated her skirt or high heels are blamed. Its not only lazy politicians or a laid back police alone that need a kick in their backside, the problem is much deeper and more fundamental. It is the ingrained mentality where women are not seen as equals but as mere objects that are can be treated in any way and thrown away.

This third-class school of thought unfortunately is not something that prevails amongst the illiterate or less fortunate section of the society this mentality infiltrates into the elite (by status and not thoughts) class. Our very own President’s son – Abhijit Mukherjee refers to the anti-rape women protesters as ‘dented and painted’ women. With such leaders and such ‘dented‘ thoughts where are we heading – there doesn’t seem to be a silver lining to this cloud.

Sheila Dixit ji (Chief Minister of Delhi since 1998) – I bow in respect to you – not only because you are our Chief Minister saahiba but because you have been managing face yourself and the world every morning knowing that you were responsible for this. After a 14 years of having a woman CM, the last thing you expect is the state to transform into the rape capital of the country – you are unbelievable to have achieved this. Also, if you think lighting one candle in front of the media is going to make the world think you are a concerned or sorry – then CM saahiba you are anything but right. You are and will be responsible for her murder.

Dear Amanat/Nirbhaya/Damini - whatever your name was – who ever you were. I am extremely sorry for what happened to you. I like all Indians need to be blamed – I am sorry as sorry as I can be. I am not even going to attempt to say RIP because I am not going to pretend that you are or will be at peace after what happened. Despite my ever growing guilt and desire for things to be different I CANNOT promise you that you will be given justice or something like this will not happen again. I am nothing but yet another ashamed Indian

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