My Bucket List had a book in it and I was not sure as to what and how I should be writing one. Some well-wishers suggested to write a travelogue as I used to travel for work or otherwise.
I was also lucky that I am a member of this blog group and help came up instantaneously. The sum total was the realization that I should be writing from the heart.
Encouraged by the support I decided to start writing and brought up an idea of forming the ‘Book Writers’ Club’ which was joined by a few friends. And I wanted my first few pages to be seen and reviewed by the club members.
I got a real review, ably correcting the plenty of mistakes and telling what should be taken care of from one of the members. She had one book published and here I am talking about her second and lovely book ‘Love.Exe’
If you have downloaded a complicatd software on an unreliable computer with moody internet, you get a picture of how the author unfurls the story. The story progresses like the exact stages in the software download, with the several yes/no, true/false confirmations concluding with the finish button.
That alone would make the book a hit among the tech savvy new generation. Particularly since the background is set on the dream destination for Indians for study and work – the U S A and Ivy League colleges, full scholarships and dream jobs with new gen tech and online companies.
About the Author
Manju Nambiar, originally from Kerala in India, after higher education in USA, now works in a leading frim in San Jose California and lives there with husband and daughter. Her first book ‘The Money Lender’ has been a hit.
The book is available on Amazon
The main character is a bright and beautiful girl from an orthodox South Indian family with ambition set on the typical Indian youngster intention of living the American Dream.
Marriage is what the parents think of daughters and that is what the compromise for any dream.
There is a transition from an attempted arranged marriage to love led marriage. Imagine the situation when the parties involved are the same in both the scenarios.
As a reader, I have a weakness of getting attached to the lead character. That is not the problem. The problem is that whoever is a villain to the good character (mostly heroine) has a red mark on him from me. And when the author cleverly brings the two close to where they work, I am not happy to see the villain making any gains on the heroine.
But I am unique. Almost all the others love the twist and are fascinated by the details of a real Indian experience in the campus and workplace in USA, especially when the love dominates the details. The book is a complete success in meticulously detailing every steps in the life of Indian Americans living the American Dream in the University and work office.
That’s when, though I wouldn’t like the villain coming anywhere near my heroine, all except me will be thrilled at the way the two get closer and closer and closer.
That makes a reader to get hooked on the book. That is everybody, young, old and even me.
Great romantic book and highly recommended.
It’s beautiful, she can convert ordinary vegetables into exotic flowers, my wife does this as a hobby and also to decorate her party table when she’s a house party hostess.
Then a teacher is a teacher. She’s a qualified teacher after acquiring a teacher training degree on top of her post graduation. But then she chose to teach in schools where our daughters went, and was the driver of our Ambassador car turned school bus.
She then became a much loved supply teacher in international schools in Philippines, HongKong and London where we were posted earning significant per diem pay.
However our final international location, Kuwait’s international schools had a blanket rule, teachers are to be native English speakers. That’s the passport should be of a English speaking country. No debate on it, but the students lost a good teacher.
I said, a teacher is a teacher and our guests in Kuwait were attracted to the explanations on what and how each flower was made.
One of them, secretary of British Women’s Association requested a demonstration for some 20 of their members. And 38 turned up at our residence. And thus started her Vegetable Carving classes. I am a beneficiary when she bought the Omega watch of the type James Bond wore, on my birthday with the money.
Once she got a call from the chef of a five star hotel wanting to be a student.
The best part was the vegetable flower soup after the classes.
Covid is taking it’s toll for people’s activities also, the second year in running. 2021 World Masters Games to be held in Kansai Japan was postponed to 2022 (it’s a once in 4 years event like Olympics). And we were in lockdown most of 2020.
Right now, in 2021 it looks like the same and definitely much worse in India. Activities are severely curtailed and vaccination process is slow.
On activities, the only silver lining this year, was the state level masters swimming which the organisers managed to hold in an excellent manner. And us winners were supposed to be competing in National meet in June in Hyderabad.
Now it’s canceled and the announcement said it’s treated as a zero event. 2022 national will be at the same venue in February. And Swimming pools are all closed.
To make matters worse, the Cricket extravaganza IPL is postponed when the Covid bubble created burst and players got infected.
There’s nothing to do, we’re all forced to be indoors as no one knows which way the virus will enter!
That’s when Rummikub is coming to the rescue. We have a fantastic wife-husband bonding, playing this game which apparently combines the properties of Rummy and Mahjong. It challenges the brain adequately, not excessively and thus perhaps less boring as Chess.
Putting it in perspective, Chess has no jokers, but Rummikub has two.
The food we buy are those we can’t make ourselves easily, may be too unhealthy but we certainly have a craving for them.
The food we make are flexible, can be made healthier and should satisfy mostly the hunger.
If we choose to make food, we could be healthier as we can use healthy ingredients. When we buy, the selection is led by what we crave for. They are mostly refined, processed and with added taste.
When we avoid unhealthy food, it’s a sacrifice. When we buy our favourite things, it’s indulgence.
Perhaps a middle path is possible. And the best route to the middle path is through intermittent fasting.
That’s why intermittent fasting is important. I can buy my favourite ‘Kunju’s Jamroll’ and eat it too.
This is a traditional and special Kerala dish, including the name of it. Poocha is Malayalam for cat. Eenth is a practically extinct and unique tree which I have covered here a few days back.
Here the Eenth seed powder is replaced with roasted rice powder. The flavour deficiency is compensated with chakka varatty. The key change is the healthy and conscious avoidance of refined carbohydrate jaggery.
1 and half cups of grated coconut is mixed with one tsp of crushed cumin seeds and 1/2 tsp of cardamom seed flour and a pinch of salt. Crush this in a mixer.
I added a tbsp of pure cow ghee to the mix. And there goes the chakka varatty instead of the usual jaggery. Add the roasted rice powder slowly into the mix while mixing with hand to make into a consistency like a chappathy dough.
Now bring in the flavourful edana leaf, make it into a cone shape and secure with tooth pick. Fill the cones with the dough and steam them for about 40 minutes.
The tasty, exotic and traditional poocha is ready with some compulsive modifications.
No no, not the work for bread, it’s the cleaning work. With the alarming spread of the virus, we have given the maid a paid holiday till the situation gets better.
That means bringing out my gadgets to do the cleaning and mopping the floors. My wife took over the washing of vessels, which also I offered to do, perhaps knowing fully well that she won’t agree.
Cooking, well with two cooks in us topped with my intermittent fasting is never a problem.
The vacuum cleaner in the middle is from Walmart USA, it doesn’t have the charging wires running behind. It’s rechargeable battery operated and has separate speeds for the floor and carpets. It picks up even tiny particles.
I have two mops with water spraying mechanism. The green one releases tiny quantity of water to mop the wooden floors. Wood cleaning additives go into the water.
The other mops sprays a bit more water and cleaning liquids and used for cleaning tiled floors.
These gadgets which have very flexible adjustments, make cleaning fun. And gives me the title of a ‘Professional Cleaner’.
The Chandrakaaran mangoes from the tree in our Thevara compound is the best variety of Naadan mangoes with an exclusive taste.
I put a few seeds in a bag with soil, planning to take it to my hometown to replant in the land there. These trees could grow 30-40 feet in a number of years.
But the acute covid situation and the discouraged travel prevent this 70 km trip. In fact I should have been going there to attend the funeral of my first cousin’s daughter who sadly left us due to delivery related complications.
I have to think about Bonsai, a wild thought, for these little seedlings.
Jackfruit and it’s seeds (Chakkakuru) used to be abundant to the point that many were wasted in Kerala. Not anymore!
It’s difficult to get the superfood jackfruits and the seeds are to be dried and stored differently.
But when it comes to making a dish with jackfruit seeds, the mezhukkupuratty is the default solution.
Removing the skin is difficult. So I pressure cooked the seeds for four whistles, took them out and removed the skin. and cut them into medium sized pieces.
In a vessel, poured 2 tbsp of coconut oil and allowed to heat well. To the boiling oil a tsp of mustard seeds were thrown in. When it crackled added ten sliced shallots, one tsp of turmeric powder and the steamed and cut jackfruit seeds.
Allowed the mix to cook for 5 minutes and added 1 1/2 tbsp of Kashmiri chilli powder, and salt.
Now I did an innovation. Added half a grated coconut and some water for further cooking for 5 minutes. Curry leaves were thrown in and cooked on reduced heat till it turned semi dry.
Delicious Chakkakuru Mezhukkuvaratty is ready.
When I made Tamarind Balls last time I mentioned about using dates to bind them together. Took the powder with that idea, but entered into a conversation with my ingredients.
Tamarind Powder (TP): Make sure to roast me well. And Grind the roasted rice (Rice) too.
Rice: Hmmm I have been the staple food. Now the newcomer TP is telling what to do with me. Anyway use Nutribullet to powder well.
Cranberries (Cranbe) from the fridge: Hey I have sitting here in the cold for long. Try me instead of dates. Use Nutribullet to prepare me.
TP and Rice: Good idea. Will give a tangy feel.
Grated Coconut (Coco): I am ready to go in.
Me: I am mixing all of you. But a bit dry still.
Chakka Varatty (CV): I am here. The best of best.
Me: Come on in. But why are you not mixing.
CV: Mixing, I am like the queen bee. The super food and your favourite. Let them all join around me. Woooohaahaa.
Cranbe: No way, I am the imported one. You paid in dollars. I am the superior.
CV: Remember your daughter said in London. Cranbe is for old people.
Rice: He is not old. Look at him. And the mind is of a teenager.
Me: But CV, when you’re there, I will have to eat all. You’re Sautan (other wife) according to her. She may refuse to eat.
CV chuckles. And by then the 69 balls ( laddus) are ready.
I have done it, always wanted to make the Donne Biriyani which my wife Sunu likes very much. I am adding this to the Adiga Sambar which again is Sunu’s favourite and Thai Green Chicken Curry (which is our favourite) for the Michelin Star feel items.
The recipe is from YouTube channel ‘Cook With Tabu’, of the instagramer @cook_with_tabu.
The YouTube video is in Hindi. But very easy to follow as long as you can understand the names of the ingredients. Of course the pictures are shown.
The modifications I made were to start with pressure cooker and steaming for 4 whistles when the marinated chicken was added.
Another was to use a rice cooker which stops automatically when the added water gets over. So I added 31/2 cups of rice and 5 cups of water so that rice is cooked 70% only.
The third modification was to do the elaborate Dum. For this I used 1/2 cup hot milk, pinch of saffron, little turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp garam masala, 1 tbsp ghee and two teaspoons of Rose Water.
And the modification I like is roasting cashew nuts and kismis and spreading them on top.
The only thing missing is the Donne, the boat shaped serving plate made of the bottom part of the areca nut tree leaf.
Sunu loved it, I too love it.
Thank you Tabu for the recipe. Her channel is:
When I made Chakka Ada, some friends got it confused with ‘Poocha’, a traditional kumbilappam (bottom right) made in Edana, the Indian bay leaf (bottom left).
Traditional poocha of my childhood was made with enthanga (top in picture) powder, processed from the seeds of enth trees in our land.
Enthapana, the Malayalam name for the tree suggests that it is a palm. But google tells me that it’s a cycad, trees of the Jurassic age, unevolved over the ages. Apparently no relation to date palms, which is termed a palm, though the look etc are the same.
Like in date palms, enth also have male and female trees. Male ones grow a big cone shaped flower while a certain type of bees transport the abundant polen in the cones to the flowers of female enth to produce bunches of enthaga.
The ripened seeds are washed, dried, skinned and powdered for exquisite use for poocha, porridge, sweets etc. By the way it’s also called sago.
Enth is declared as endangered. And the solitary tree in my land will not bear fruit or produce pollen, even if I am willing to do a manual polination.
The tree has rings, denoting each year of it’s life. So even if I plant some, it will be years before we can see fruits/ seeds. But at least it’s a pay back to future generations.
In the meantime let me make poocha with chakka varatty and rice powder, as I have edna leaves in my land.
Watch this space.