Lauki (Bottle Gourd) Barfi. And I Made It!

I follow the YouTube channel Zaikastreet for some good recipes. Here’s one which attracted me and I can’t believe, I made it!

The channel has recipes ably demonstrated, but some of them are in Hindi. This one is in Hindi and I will try and describe how it’s made.

The ingredients are Bottle Gourd about 750 grams, Kova (boiled down thick milk extract) from a litre of fresh milk, sugar, cardamom powder, nuts and food colour. Silver food leaves (I didn’t have).

Peel the gourd and cut into 4 or 6 pieces. Remove seeds and grate the entire gourd. Squeeze by hand or in a cloth to remove water.

Pour one tablespoon of pure ghee into a pan, and heat on medium fire. Add grated louki and stir till the remaining water is dried out and the vegetable is cooked (15 minutes). Add sugar to taste and stir for another 5 minutes.

Now mix the Kova and continue stirring. Add 1/4 teaspoon of cardamom powder and some of the broken nuts. I used cashew, almonds and kismiss slightly roasted in a teaspoon of ghee. Add two drops of food colour (I used green). Stir the mixture well till it become into a consistency for spreading on a tray.

Grease the tray with some butter and spread the mixture evenly in it to the desired thickness. Spread the remaining nuts sporadically on top and level using a wooden spatula.

Ideally the silver leaves on top would have made it look more store like.

Keep aside for an hour or so, if necessary in the chill tray of the refrigerator.

Cut into squares and the barfi is ready. I have the best taster at home who’s a fantastic cook too. And Sunu (my wife) said ‘simply amazing’.

Subscribe to YouTube channel ‘zaikastreet’ for more such recipes simply and ably demonstrated.

Here’s the video link to the barfi

Lauki (Bottle Gourd) Barfi. And I Made It!

Coffee Beans And A Chocolate

Amul has done it again! This time with a coffee flavour. Lovely chocolate with the goddess of coffee. I am now a total fan of Amul Chocolates.

Sometime back I wrote about their 55% cocoa dark chocolates. And then they came up with a fruit and nut one. There are other varieties too.

Another attraction is the price. Dark chocolate is ₹100 ($ 1.35) and this one is ₹125 ($1.7). All for 30 chocolate squares weighing 150 grams.

There is added sugar. But then, like the famous statement about Greta Garbo, ‘if mind has to sin, it can at least compliment itself on the best choice’.

Well done Amul. I like what you are doing.

Disclaimer: it has nothing to do with the most famous name associated with the company Amul. That it’s my namesake Kurian with an e.

Coffee Beans And A Chocolate

Fasting Benefits! We Haven’t Seen All Yet

Intermittent Fasting has numerous benefits. Starting with the basic weight loss to such unbelievable benefits like prevention or reversal of deadly diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and even Cancer.

There’s one beautiful thing also in there, anti-aging! How cute is that! Especially for someone like me.

A Japanese study in 2019, on four humans,reveal many things. Yes only 4 people, but humans. And if nothing else, it’s sure to lead to extensive studies to make us all look younger.

Scientists found 42 beneficial compounds, 30 more than previously found in 34 to 58 hours of fasting. These compounds that assist in slowing aging are activated some 60 times their normal when fasting extends to 58 hours.

I am already on a 20 hour fasting, daily, hoping to bring in ‘autophagy’ the 2016 Nobel Prize winning revelation that repairs damaged body cells for numerous benefits including anti-aging.

Perhaps I may move to a 58 hour fast, once in a quarter, to look young.

Fasting Benefits! We Haven’t Seen All Yet

Butternut Squash Into Pumpkin Pie.

Butternut Squash on grocery store shelf always attracted my attention and I bought one.

It’s a pumpkin family one and pumpkin pie came to mind. And I wanted to make it the Indian way for ease of finding ingredients.

One of Tarla Dalal’s Website recipe was adopted for this time consuming dish. It even said garam masala for ingredients.

Mix one cup of maida (refined flour) with cold butter and half a teaspoon of salt. Make into a coarse breadcrumbs consistency. Add some cold water to make into a soft dough. Cover and allow to chill for half hour.

Cut and deseed the butternut squash into wedges and bake on a slightly greased tray for about 45 minutes in a preheated oven.

Roll the soft dough on a floured surface into a 12 inch diameter crust base. Slightly grease a pie dish or tart pan preferably with removable bottom and place the crust base in and adjust the sides. (I didn’t have a proper tray for this in Bangalore and hence just used a silver foil).

Scoop the baked and softened butternut Squash wedges and mash into a purée. Add condensed milk, two tablespoons of baking powder, one teaspoon cinnamon powder, 3/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg, half teaspoon ginger powder, half teaspoon powdered cloves and salt. Mix well so that there are no lumps in the mixture.

With a spoon fill the mixture into the chilled crust and bake for about 40 minutes or till the filling is set and the top has turned into a nice golden brown.

Certificate came from one of the best cooks, Sunu, my wife who said yummy scrummy.

Butternut Squash Into Pumpkin Pie.

Size Matters! Of The Waist!

This is not to show off, as much more are to be achieved. This is a promotion of something I am passionate and upbeat about. That’s Intermittent Fasting.

I have been sincerely following Intermittent Fasting since January 19, 2019 and I love the results. I am in fact mentoring a group to showcase the best wellness program.

I used to be waist size 40 at one time. Well I was 38 when I started Intermittent fasting. Some 14 kgs down now, I am acquiring a new wardrobe with size 34.

Credit goes to Intermittent Fasting, given that my regular workouts of swimming and gym are in jeopardy. Of course I workout with modified exercises and intense yoga.

Weight loss is just a side effect of the benefits rich intermittent fasting. But reductions in waist size and belly fat are just priceless.

Size Matters! Of The Waist!

Family Onam Google Meet.

There were about 73 participants including kids in this Onam celebration on Google Meet of Vellukunnel, Vettimuttikkavil, Thazhathu Vettikulam family wing.

What if we can’t meet in person, due to the virus related restrictions, the second best option is equally fun too.

Originated from the idea of my wife Sunu, and ably programmed by her, we had a good crowd of family members of us ten siblings from all over the world.

There were talks, games, dances, songs, quizzes and Onam rituals and greetings.

Dressed in Onam clothes, family members celebrated the happy festival, the best way possible.

We even had a Maveli (ancient king Mahabali, whose return to visit his Kerala subjects is what Onam is about) visiting us during the meeting and celebrations.

Happy Onam.

Family Onam Google Meet.

Onashamsakal! Happy Onam.

Onam is special, the festival of Keralaites. Nanma (goodness) is in focus here, and not any religion.

I remember the childhood days when we used to have the Onasadya (a sumptuous meal of umpteen dishes served on banana leaf along with rice). All vegetarian, which in itself is something special for a family having non-veg three times, if not four, a day.

We Malyalees celebrate return for a day of the Asura King Mahabali, who’s the role model for anyone wanting to be a good ruler. The goodness breeds jealousy and he was banished by the celestial powers in what was a cheating game. The only goodness shown to the good king was permission to return and see the subjects, once a year. And we celebrate the season of his return as Onam.

And we want to show our good king that we are good, so that he can go back happy.

So Onam is of plenty, happiness and above all goodness.

Job took me to different places, different continents, but the tradition was preserved, except that the sadya (food) was mostly brought from outside.

But this year it’s getting back to tradition when my dear wife decided to cook the entire thing, herself. And here I am, ready to relish the feast.

By the way, the absolute tradition is to have the meal squatting cross legged on the ground, along with family and friends, and served on the banana leaf by enthusiastic youngsters. Along the way, there was a stage when sitting on the floor cross legged was a challenge. Now that I can do it again, may do it, perhaps next Onam.

Happy Onam.

Onashamsakal! Happy Onam.

Book Review- 21 at 21st, by Adithya Sasikala.

Poetry comes from the heart. There’s poetry in everyone as we all have a heart. But all of us may not be able to write down what the heart says in the required style.

That’s what happened to me. I thought I should also express what’s from heart and penned down a couple as blogs in WordPress. Though nobody told me directly, there were comments elsewhere on people writing something and call it poetry. And I know.

It’s in WordPress that I met Adithya. I liked her poems and became a good follower.

Then I heard about her book. And I realised that she’s just 21. Curiosity got me to read the musings of the young heart and I am completely taken in.

Here are 26 poems in her beautiful book. Each one tells the feelings of a young girl. There’s angst, fear, sadness and perhaps joy in love. There are stories and concerns of a young girl. Of the treatment, discrimination, cruelty, deprivation and such social stigma. There’s insecurity and dependence. And there’s love as the burning light.

An author at such an young age. A 21 year old in the 21st century! It’s something for us to be proud of. It’s not about feminism, it’s about the fact that being female is superior. That’s a beautiful world.

Published by Xpress Publishing of Norton Press, the book is available on Amazon at a price of just ₹100.

Hats off to the young poetess.

Book Review- 21 at 21st, by Adithya Sasikala.

Jackfruit Krisp! Quite Enjoyable.

I missed the jackfruit season this year, except for a few times that I managed some in Bangalore. That’s when i found this new product.

It’s jackfruit, vacuum fried, retaining the sweetness and feel of jackfruit, except that it’s crisp.

Yes it’s crisp, so crisp that you can be heard in the neighbourhood.

I did try a new innovation, frying jackfruit like banana fritters and it has been quite a hit.

With this lovely product, the opportunities with jackfruit is multiplying. Be it chakka undas, chakka velaichath, chakka chips, chakka fritters, chakka puzhukk and this.

It’s certainly an idea to grow some trees myself. After all it’s now recognised as a health food.

Jackfruit Krisp! Quite Enjoyable.

“Ente Pranaya Kathakal” by Elaine:- Book Review

Translated as “My Love Stories”, this Malayalam book of 30 short stories in 125 pages touches the heart in many ways.

I was fascinated reading snippets in Facebook and blog, and decided to buy the book. And enjoyed reading each and every one of the stories.

In many of the stories, one would find himself or someone who is close and I may say it’s something like our stories.

More so, if you are, say 40 or above, you may feel that it’s your story.

Missed or postponed love is beautifully enacted in the stories. Sometimes I felt there could be similarities and it’s a continuous story.

The author describes even small things so beautifully. Be it the ‘kolus’, (anklet, the jingling leg ornament) or manchady / kunnikkuru (red lucky beeds), the author take the readers to the inner rooms of the characters to watch them actually wearing them.

Definitely it’s matured love, cleverly handled by Elaine. I must say, I love the stories.

Imagine him writing his favourite words on her naked belly around the naval with manchadikkuru. The reader can actually see it.

I am not an expert, but these stories merit an award or a prize. If you can read malayalam, make sure to read it. It’s available with Notion Press, the publisher and I believe, even with amazon. The price is just ₹200 for this priceless book.

“Ente Pranaya Kathakal” by Elaine:- Book Review