Sunday, April 22, 2012

Iyengar Bakery style Carrot Toast/Sandwich

There are so many baked goodies to try from the iconic Iyengar Bakeries. But the 'Carrot Toast' is one of the most favored items of Iyengar Bakery. Recently, my dad and I got into a serious 'food conversation' which predominantly included talking about some delicacies that is nostalgic to him and me. Then popped up the famous 'I.B 's Carrot Toast' in our conversation and I immediately wanted to try it. 

Before going into the recipe, let me tell you the secret of this recipe. Though, it is an 'Iyengar' Bakery I doubt they add egg whites to the carrot masala(I'm not sure.. at least I believe!). So my recipe here calls for egg white. If you are not for it, you can omit that. But trust me, adding the egg white did bring out the exact taste of Iyengar Bakery's and also no one can tell there is egg in it unless you reveal it (I promise!).

One more tip for the authentic I.B's taste: Once you prepare all the toasts, transfer them in a serving tray and saran-wrap it while they are still hot. This way the steam gets into the bread, making it soft. When you are serving you can just re-heat in microwave. (Thats how exactly the bakery do!). So this is perfect for parties too :)

Prep Time       -   05 Minutes
Cooking Time -  10 Minutes   
Total Time      - 15 Mintues
Makes 4 Toasts/ Sandwiches

You will need:
1 large Carrot
1 large Onion
1 small Tomato
1 Green Chilly
1 egg white
1 tsp of Mustard seeds
1/2 tsp of Cumin seeds
1 tsp of Urad dal (split white lentil)
A pinch of Asafetida(Hing)
1/2 tsp of Red chilly powder
A pinch of turmeric
1/4 tsp of garam masala
1/4 tsp of coriander powder
Fresh coriander, finely chopped
Salt to taste
2 tsps of oil
4 Slices of white bread
Ghee(Clarified Butter) to toast

Chop the onions, green chilly and tomato very finely. Peel and grate the carrot.

In a pan, heat oil and add the mustard seeds,cumin seeds and asafetida. Then add the Urad dal and let it golden brown. (caution : do not over brown it!)
Add the green chillies and onions. Fry till translucent.

Add the spices(chilly powder, turmeric, coriander powder and garam masla) with salt. Mix well and then add the chopped tomato.

After a minute, add the grated carrot and cook covered for couple of minutes. Add the egg white and mix so well until it gets disintegrated in the carrot mixture. 

Heat a flat pan and spread some ghee on the bread slices. Place the bread slices and toast them on either side till it becomes golden brown and crispy.

Spread the carrot mixture on top of each slice and serve them as toast or as sandwiches.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Thousand Paper Cranes

'Senbanzuru' is a cluster of 1000 origami cranes tied together by strings. Crane is the national bird of Japan. The bird crane is considered very auspicious and every Japanese knows how to fold a paper crane. It is believed that anyone folding thousand origami cranes will be granted one wish by a crane.

Sadako Sasaki, a girl who got affected by leuekemia in the Hiroshima-Nagashaki atomic bombing wanted to recover from her illness. So, she set on to folding 1000 origami cranes. But she died when she completed 644 cranes. This touched the hearts of those who were around her. So they folded the rest of the cranes and buried her with 1000 cranes. In order to make her wish come true, they made a statue of her with a crane perching on her hand and thereby making her immortal.

The pile of 1000 paper cranes
It is common to see in Japanese weddings people gift a 'Senbanzuru' for the newly married couple and wishing them thousand years of happiness and prosperity. It is believed that having a Senbanzuru in home attracts enormous luck and benevolent charm.

After learning about this, I decided to take up the ultimate Origami project- 'folding 1000 cranes' and not wish for anything myself.
I had always been the kind of person who wanted to do many things but would never begin/complete as I get distracted easily. Also, I want to test myself if I could work towards something with out any reward and just for the joy of doing it.

It took me three weeks to fold, sort and string the origami cranes. I tied the cranes to form a long screen which is now hanging above the hand rail partitioning the living and visitors areas of my Dad's residence.

The whole project to me was very uplifting. The moment I completed the project I was so elated. And that feeling of accomplishment , I have never felt before for anything else.  Not even when I was graduating! All these three weeks, my mind was only in completing the project and never to give up.

Many would wonder how come folding 1000 cranes would grant one wish. The logic is pretty simple. Folding an origami crane is not a random act and it needs focus and some concentration. As you fold 1000 origami cranes thinking about something you want to get, you are programming your subconscious mind 1000 times what you wish for to happen-like a meditation. As a result, your sub conscious mind will make you work towards your goal and get it.

For those who are interested in the project, see this brilliant youtube tutorial and here is an easy way to assemble the cranes to make a beautiful curtain.

How to string the cranes:

  • Measure the length of each strand you want it to be on white thread. Using the sewing needle pierce through the bottom of the crane on the thread
  • Connect 10 cranes (if making 100 strands) per string.
  • Space out the crane with equal gaps in between the cranes. Leave 2 inches of the thread on the top.
  • Using a toothpick, take some  white glue and place dots on the bottom and top end of each crane. Let it dry before you hang the string vertical.

The glue prevents the crane from jamming together and they look evenly spaced out while hanging.
I find this method easier than beading and knotting.

I'm not an artist. But looking at the 'Senbanzuru' makes me feel like I have created a masterpiece. This project also refined me to be a better person. Patience, serenity, determination, persistence, magnanimity, optimism are some of the great virtues the cranes taught me throughout the project.

Honestly, I don't know what to wish for myself. Right now, I feel pretty contend with my life. There are thousand cranes here, so whoever visits this page make a wish for yourself and I wish the crane would grant you :)

Best Indian summer drink~ Cumin Mint Swirl

Cumin Mint Swirl Lifewater- A fantasy product that we, me with two other friends, made up for a our MBA marketing Project. SoBe  with its cool lizard logo caught our attention and we decided to market our product under Pepsico's SoBe brand. SoBe is a famous brand that markets flavored water, teas and smoothies.

In the  past couple of decades people began to seek healthy alternatives for sodas, sugary beverages and plain water. Then came the 'Flavored water'- water enhanced with artificial flavors, vitamins and sweeteners. Soon 'Flavored water' became the buzzing word for all the beverage companies in the recent decade.
In India, we have been drinking flavored water for several centuries. Yes! flavored with different spices and aromatic roots which have immense healing properties. Ranging from the humble 'Cumin seeds' /jeera to 'Vetiver roots'.

SoBe is always on the look out for exciting, new, tropical flavors. And it had been only having fruity flavors. So we decided to give it an heads up with a bunch of flavors that uses the 'healing spices'.
Though, we never directly suggested SoBe to include our suggestions but our idea was to imagine that our Professor as the company itself and convince her to take up this as line!

As we were working on the project, we came to know those secret healing properties of mint and cumin.

The astounding health benefits of Mint and Cumin :

Cumin -Stimulates appetite, increases metabolism, relieves insomnia and detoxifies the body. Since this is rich in iron content it is also helpful to cure anemia and also believed to treat cancer and piles.

Mint- anitbiotic in nature, rich in vitamin C, cures asthma and flu,helps in indigestion, stress and sore throat. This ultimate refreshing and cooling herb is best suited for tropical climates.

Research says consumption of iron with Vitamin C helps to absorb iron better in the blood. 

Also, I would like to recall a particular region of people who consume cumin water everyday. Kerala- No body would deny the fact people from this place look radiantly beautiful and healthier. One of the reasons for their good health is that they had been drinking this sassy water for centuries.

So why not include them in everyday diet?

I know I did my best marketing it to my professor for grades. But now, I am not marketing it for any personal gains but for the well being of all.

Summer is almost here. Buttermilk is the ubiquitous drink of India. There are like zillion variations in consuming it ranging from the sweet lassi to masala chaas. Here is how I like it.

Cumin Mint Chaas Recipe:

A handful of fresh mint leaves and 2 teaspoons of roasted cumin seeds ground to fine paste. Mix this paste with required salt in half a liter of buttermilk.

Cheers to good health!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Writer with a difference..

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness---Mark Twain"

Muthukrishnan made me to agree with Mark Twain's words. In a nutshell, Muthukrishnan is an impressive Writer, Social activist, Traveller for Peace , regular debator in popular Tv shows like 'Neeya Naana' and above all a great humanitarian.

I have hardly blogged about any subject that is other than food. This post is to bring awareness about this great-person and most importantly a wake up call to all those who failed to look at various issues that are revolving around us (including myself!)

How many of us rely on news channels and news papers to know what is going on around the globe?
99% of us believe whatever is shown in the media is the reality. We never question the integrity of the news we read. If we did, our world would have been a altogether a different/ better place.

Muthukrishnan does not fail to question what he hears from the media. In addition to that, he travels to the site himself, researches the actual scenario and finds out the truth. Not all of us can do this.
That is where his service comes to rescue. He writes essays and books on all the issues he has investigated with refutable evidences to support what he has observed.

Not only that, there are many social issues which have not been in limelight due to the media's bias. As a part of the humanity, its our duty to know what happens in the world we live. And we should try to reach out to those in need with our empathy. We all cannot quit our jobs and travel to create awareness. But at least we can render our contribution by maintaining peace and humanity with our fellow neighbors.

Like Muthukrishnan, there are so many eminent persons who have been working for social justice. And they all say, in order to overcome all these social problems a huge attitudinal change needs to take place in people's mind. Why?
Because everything is interconnected. Government, corporate, public, media, religion, social classification, environment , money and many more to list-all have its role to play in the vicious circle of whatever good or bad happens.
A single body alone (say for example government!) cannot be blamed.
Who is government? Our representation! ---there lies our answer.
So the change should begin from us. Again we all have this question, what positive impact is going to take place if I alone change? The rest of the billion population should also change. Well, they might also want to change but they would be thinking like me and not make an effort to change. So this is how the present scenario goes.

The solution ?
Somebody have to motivate us to create/be the change. I see, a person like Muthukrishnan as 'the change agent'. At first, I felt whatever he said and wrote in his books questionable and that led me to research further on the internet. And most of them 're convincing to me.
So I am here to ripple the change he initiated within many of those who attended his meeting yesterday. Not that I am endorsing a particular person, I just started reading his books and there are so much of valuable information which everybody needs to know.

There are so many good hearts out there doing great work for the society just like him. Its high time, we all need to shut down our usual ,stereotypical way of seeing things and have a deeper insight on any issue before taking a stand.

What this post has to do with travel? 
My treks page is calling me to post my long due travel posts.
Muthukrishnan with 120 other International fellows travelled from Delhi, India to Gaza Strip,Palestine via land. His experience of this significant journey was shared with us.
He mentioned how each place they visited was a big 'Revelation' to him. For example, Pakistanis were more friendly to Indians than Indians are to Indians!

Well, I see 'Gaza returned' Muthukrishnan as a great inspiration for all the globe trotters and small trekkers like me! All these years, I have been excited to travel just for the fun of it. But recently, did I discover that there are more to it.

 The Persian Poet Saadi says,

"A traveler without observation is a bird without wings"

So,every travel we do can be a life-changing experience if we do not fail to observe.

My present visit to Kuwait itself turned out more rewarding in that aspect!