Sunday, 10 September 2017

Calming My Pain

Inspired by my friend's words ......

My friend Bart wrote this :

Distraction to help cope with pain: Creating a September afternoon on a lake. Not going to go into every detail here but you create the boat. You feel the texture of the seat. The gentle rocking. The lake holding you up. The surface tension of the water and the coolness underneath. The singing of the birds and bugs. The soft rustle of leaves. The wind with whispers of summer and clarity of fall. You can taste the metal in the air from the seats of the boat along with the brine of the lake. You take these static images, memories and a million more then you start to animate them. For me it's a good technique to help with pain.

When the pain hits you
Retreat into a weird world you do
Pain can be different and off the scale
Unbearable but I still live to tell the tale

So the world you retreat to is in your mind
Helps to relive peaceful memories from your mind
So have some lined
So to self you can be kind

Today’s choice is a September afternoon on a lake
You can take memory and a universe create
A boat is bobbing in the water
Seated in there listening to the lapping of water

Feel the texture of the seat
Gentle rocking of the water you cannot beat
The water cradles the boat
Leaving you happily to float

The birds are chirping and singing
The flies and insects are also buzzing
The sun is gentle as the afternoon advances
Sparkle of light on water slowly fades

The wind with whispers of summer and clarity of fall
The soft rustle of leaves that I clearly recall
The smell of moist earth and fading flowers
Will remain into the small hours

My mind is calm
The memory a soothing balm





Thursday, 7 September 2017

Relationships


There are so many relationships
Blood ties and friendships
One would expect that blood ties will be stronger
The proverb is blood is thicker than water

But in reality nothing is further than that
The changed society has seen to that
Friendships are the basis of family today
The affection and care has to be mixed with liking today

Liking is very different from loving
For I can love without liking
The relationships get complex over time
Some fade and some strengthen over time

I try to maintain contact, keep in touch
Expecting reciprocation, is it much?
Eventually one realises that people are busy
And letting go becomes easy

Maybe your karma with them is over
Relationship with them is then over
Struggling to keep it going is useless
The throes of dying relationship grow less and less

Friendships can also go that way
But they can also get stronger and deeper along the way
Friend is one you can rely on and lean on
Always on his mind even when you are gone

With the friend there is often a connection
A weird and wonderful same wavelength kind of connection
You kind of know when the other is looking for you
The meeting of minds that is a joy for him and you

There is no effort in keeping in touch
To support the friend is never too much
Friends are now my family
Just as much if not more than my family

Life is enriched by relationships
Blood ties and friendships






Tuesday, 5 September 2017

My Wednesday


It is a nice sunny spring day
So why do I feel this way?
The breeze rustling through the trees
To me feels cold enough to freeze
But of course today is chemo day
Leaving my head in a mess, what can I say?
All senses are more intense
The taste is dulled but hearing intense
Mood swings from cheery to sad
Perceived slight making me feel bad
This depressed feeling I am aware of
Active social contact can soon see it off
But lethargy of thought and intent rules
Positive and negative thinking duels
Effort has to be made for everything today
Everything feels too much today
The fever and chills that will creep up by the end of the day
The odd nausea often makes itself known on this day
Some days sleep is hard to come by
On other days the fatigue helps the shut eye
This is my Wednesday every week
Am thankful for the medicine every week






Friday, 11 August 2017

Pudla with a Twist (Chickpea Pancakes)


I finally mastered the art of making pudla (pancakes made with chickpea flour, also called besan ka chilla). I had got the spicing wrong and also adding soda bicarbonate was not right if you wanted a crispy pancake. In fact I was told to add some rice flour to get the crispiness. But I digress as I started out to make the courgette/zucchini fritters in the manner of corn fritters. I followed the recipe but realised that it would take time to cook it and I was hungry. So I popped more water into the mixture and got it down to pancake consistency. It worked well and a new version of pudla took shape.

Ingredients
  • 1½ cup of chickpea flour
  • 1 medium sized courgette/zucchini grated
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 small chillies finely chopped (you can add more if you wish)
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ teaspoon red chilli powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a cup
  • Water to make a pancake consistency batter – you should be able to pour the batter with a ladle and spread by moving the frying pan.


Method
  • Sieve the flour into a bowl so air is introduced and it is easier to get a smooth batter.
  • Add grated courgette / zucchini, onions, chillies and mix it with the flour.
  • Then add water little at a time, mixing the batter so that you can reach the required consistency.
  • Then add the spices – turmeric, red chilli powder and salt. Give it another stir and rest the batter for a few minutes.
  • Heat a non-stick frying pan and then add ¼ teaspoon of olive oil. You can use less oil after the first pudla is done. I tend to just drizzle a few drops on the pan only.
  • Using a ladle or a large serving spoon pour the batter into the pan – about 1 to 1½ spoonful. You can spread the batter using the back of the spoon or by tilting the pan. Then drizzle a few drops of oil over the spread batter.
  • Wait till the edges begin to lift off the pan just like you would a pancake and flip the pudla over to continue cooking. You can press down on the pancake with your spatula if you want to ensure even cooking.
  • Check when it is done and serve it on a plate.

You will get about 6 – 8 pudlas depending on the size. The thickness of the pudla should be about ½ cm so it cooks evenly and quickly.

Mix and match ingredients for different version of the pudla –

I have made them with just finely chopped onions, chillies and tomatoes.
I have also made them with courgettes / zucchini, onions, chillies and kale. You can substitute kale with spinach.
It ensures a fair portion of vegetables in your meal and tastes good.

Tips for Serving
You can serve it with the green chilli and coriander chutney or tomato ketchup or even some raita.

Raita can be of different styles:
  • Sometimes it is plain yogurt with just some salt and pepper to taste.
  • Also you can have plain yogurt with finely chopped onions, tomatoes and chillies to make it spicy.
  • Sometimes it is easy to make a milder version of green chilli and coriander chutney by mixing with a few tablespoons of plain yogurt.



Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Nature's Power


It is so dark and gray
No sight of even a ray,
It’s thundering
Is it going to rain? We are wondering

At last, down the rain pours,
And the clouds roar,
Harsh winds are blowing
And the leaves are rustling.

The sun then shines later in the day
Children come out to play
While the trees sway.
It is such a beautiful day!!!

There are raindrops on flowers
It is amazing to see Nature’s Powers
Sometimes lightening…
Sometimes shinning….

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Paneer Parathas




I love stuffed parathas of all kinds. By far the one most loved by all in the family is aloo parathas. I remember going to Southall for Indian food. We used to eat the chats, pakodas, makki ki roti and saag but the eye was on getting a take away of a whole variety of stuffed parathas - aloo ones, methi ones, gobi ones and paneer ones. Now I cannot eat the gobi ones so paneer ones are the other choice after aloo. Eventually I learnt to make my own paneer parathas and after a couple of trials I think I have got the version that I am happy with.

Ingredients for Stuffing

  • 300 gm of fresh paneer finely grated / crumbled
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 1 medium sized green chilli also finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of whole jeera /cumin
  • 1 table spoon of olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon of chilli powder
  • Salt to taste

Ingredients for Paratha

  • 400 gm of plain wheat flour / chapatti flour and keep 100 gm of flour for dusting when rolling out the parathas
  • Water about 225 ml
  • 5 table spoons of olive oil


Preparing the Dough

Place the flour and 1 table spoon of olive oil in a bowl mix them together.
Then start adding water a little at a time while bringing the dough together.
Once all the dough is brought together knead it for a few minutes.
Finally take a teaspoon of olive oil in your hand and knead the dough to make it smooth.
Normally I set aside the dough of parathas and chapattis to rest for a while. Often I make the dough a couple of hours ahead and leave it covered with a damp tea cloth or an upturned bowl to keep it from drying out.

Preparing the Paneer Stuffing

In a medium sized saucepan heat the table spoon of olive oil and cumin.
As the cumin starts darkening add the onion and chillies and sauté them.
Once the onion turns translucent add the finely crumbled / grated paneer into it.
Add the spices and stir the paneer.
It will take a few minutes to warm through and get the spices incorporated into it.
Then put aside the cooked paneer stuffing to cool before you can begin preparing the parathas.

Preparing the Parathas

Divide the dough into 6 equal parts and give them a round shape like ball. Take one dough ball, press it between your palms to make a flat patty and dust with dry flour. This use of flour as you are rolling out keeps the dough from sticking on to the rolling pin or the surface you are rolling it on.

Place dough patty on rolling board and roll it out with a rolling pin into a thick circle of about 4-5 inch diameter. Put 1½ - 2 tablespoons stuffing in the centre, wrap it with sides of rolled circle, seal the edges and again give it a round shape like ball. I tend to have the centre thicker than the edges as when you pull the edges together you want it to be similar in thickness all round. If the side with sealed edges is thicker the paratha can split on its other side while rolling it out.

Press the stuffed ball flat and dust with flour and roll it out in to a 6 – 7 inches circle.

Put a flat griddle or tawa on the hob to get it heating. Have a small bowl with the rest of the oil and teaspoon to brush the paratha with oil as it is cooking. It is useful to get a foil ready to cover your parathas once they are done to keep them warm. 

Put on the hot griddle and wait for it to warm up and start to get cooked. Turn it over once and brush with oil. Then turn over again and brush the other side with oil. The cooked paratha will have some blistering and darkening patches.

These parathas can be eaten with raita or just some hot and sour pickle made from mango or chilli or lime.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Paneer and Peas Sabji






 

Usually recipes start with some sort of a story or an anecdote about the dish but I have none save that I like paneer but my husband is not a fan of it. This is the reason why I do not cook it often plus I guess I have been lazy to experiment with it. I am not sure why as he is happy with cooked cheese but I guess paneer is the bland variety that needs good spice mix to flavour it. Also in the past it was not as readily available as it is now, both as fresh and as frozen. I generally see paneer recipes like palak paneer or shahi paneer or mater paneer and also paneer tikka.

Tomato gravy is not always appreciated. I wanted to try something different to go with my palak parathas even though the rich tomato sauce of shahi paneer would go down well with them. I have not yet found the patience of making tikka. However, I am happy with the peas with my paneer but again decided that I did not want gravy maybe as I find it hard to thicken the gravy. Some recipes suggest frying the paneer before putting it into the gravy and I do not wish to make the dish heavy. This gave rise to my bhurji style sabji which we enjoyed and I will be making it again.

Ingredients
250 – 300 gm of paneer
250 – 300 gm of peas
1 medium onion
2 green chillies
1 medium ripe tomato

For tempering:
1 teaspoon whole cumin
3 whole cloves
1 tablespoon olive oil

Spices:
 ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon red chilli powder
Salt to taste
Some fresh chopped coriander to add fresh flavour and as a garnish

Method
Crumble the paneer with your fingers so that you get small uneven pieces. Grating paneer as you would for a paratha stuffing makes it too fine and liable to clumping. If you are using frozen diced paneer, defrost it by putting it in a bowl, adding hot water till all the paneer is covered and leave for a few minutes before crumbling it.

If you are using frozen peas defrost in a manner similar to the paneer. Fresh peas should just be washed and put aside ready to add into the saucepan.

You can change the proportions of peas and paneer to suit your taste.

Finely chop the onion and chillies. Chop the tomato small and leave to the side.

Put the oil, cumin and cloves to heat in a saucepan.

Once the oil gets hot and the cumin starts turning dark add the onions and chillies to it. Turn the heat down to medium so that the onion sautés but does not burn.

Once the onion has turned translucent add the paneer and stir to ensure all of it gets coated with the hot oil and starts to heat through. After a few minutes the paneer will soften, at this time add the peas.

Add the salt, turmeric and chilli powder and stir it in. Leave the paneer and peas to cook. Do not cover with lid as this creates moisture that gets added back into the paneer. Add the tomato when the peas are nearly cooked. This will allow the tomato to cook without making it mushy.

Finally add the coriander leaving a few sprigs as garnish.