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EXPECTATIONS

You dig out a hole and plant this seed

Water it but it turns out to be a weed

Dominant it becomes as it grows large

Carrying preconceived notions in a barge

People will come, laugh and sit with you

Most of them stones and diamonds would be few

They tend to water this weed

But pity you, you pay no heed

You go beyond your lane

To entertain them, you even bear pain

Happily you do so, but

The weed keeps growing close and shut

When your turn comes to get acclaim

No one is there to shower you fame

For the weed you grew

You only will have to get it through

Expect from others and you get empty dishes

Expect from yourself to fulfill all your wishes.

As under the bridge of fake praises and assurances

There flows a river of selfish adherences.

Thank you so very much for your time for reading and going through my post 😊.

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Choley Bhature

When you hear the name of any street food, before anything comes to your mind, your olfactory reflexes come into play and your mouth gushes in water (even writing this I couldn’t resistπŸ˜‹) and the very first thought that crosses by, is to just devour it any way possible.

There is a plethora of Indian street food to feast on but what I am sharing with you is “CHOLEY BHATURE”. It particularly hails from Punjab (North India) but loved all over India. The hot, soft, fluffy though oil soaked bhatura’s with spicy and tangy chickpeas, gives you many reasons to gobble it down unthinking of how much oil /calories you guzzle. After finishing, Of course, you will give it a count. πŸ˜‰

 TODAY, I am sharing with you all my mother’s recipe of this dish and let me tell you it’s rare did I eat choley bhature outside as I find my mother’s one the very best.

 So get your olfactory senses ready for this savoury aroma and your taste buds waiting as it goes into your mouth.

Preparation Time:  6 to 7 hours

Cooking Time: 20 to 30 minutes

RECIPE:

BHATURA:

Ingredients required:

All-purpose flour: 2.5 cups

Baking soda: 1.5 teaspoon

Salt to taste

Oil: 2 to 3 teaspoon

Dried fenugreek leaves: 1/2 teaspoon

Semolina: 1-2 tablespoons

Yogurt: 3 to 4 tablespoons

Water: As required

Refined Oil for frying

METHOD:

1. Take a bowl and add all-purpose flour, salt, baking soda, semolina and whisk a little to mix the dry ingredients well.

2. Then add oil, dry fenugreek leaves (it’s optional, you can use coriander leaves onto the bhatura’s prior to frying) and yogurt and knead to form a dough.

3. Add water accordingly. The dough should be soft, lot more than what your chapati dough feels like.

4. If your dough sticks, you can always add little more oil and after kneading apply little oil on the crust, cover it and leave for as long as you can. Minimum for 3-4 hours and maximum for overnight.

Frying:

1. Make balls (size would be little bigger than the chapati balls).

2. Keep the balls on greased surface and cover them with a kitchen towel for sometime.

3. Then take one ball, press with your hand a bit and with a rolling pin roll out to make an oval-shaped bhatura. Shape actually doesn’t matter, just make the shape you want, round, oval or somewhere in between πŸ™‚.

4. Lift it up with hands and put it in very hot oil for deep frying {Add a bit of your dough into the oil to check if it’s hot or not. The tiny piece of the dough would at once come up floating if it’s done}.

5. Fry with pressing the bhatura with a skimmer/strainer ladle every now and then. Fry on one side then change the side as it turns golden brown and swells up.

CHOLEY:

Ingredients required:

Chick peas: 1.5 cup

Tea bags: 2

Cinnamon stick: 1

Cloves: 2-3

Bay leaves – 1-2

Oil: 3-4 tablespoons

Cumin seeds: 1/2-1 teaspoon

Onions: 1 large, finely chopped

Tomato: 1 large, pureed

Ginger garlic paste: 1 teaspoon

Green chilly: 1-2 as per your preference

Turmeric: 1/2 teaspoon

Red chilly powder: 1/2 teaspoon (or as per your taste)

Kashmiri red chilly powder: 1/2 teaspoon

Coriander powder: 1.5 teaspoon

All spice powder/garam masala: 1/2 teaspoon

Cumin powder: 1 /2 teaspoon

Dry mango powder/khatai: 1/2 teaspoon

Chaat masala: 1/2 teaspoon

Pomegranate seeds/Anardana: 1 teaspoon, crushed (optional)

*You can use readymade choley masala as well and then you would skip the above spices

Boiled potatoes: 1 medium sized

For tempering:

Oil: 2-3 teaspoons

Ginger: few julienne cut

Green chilly: 1-2, cut in halves

METHOD:

Boiling the Chickpeas:

1. Soak the chickpeas in water overnight or you can even soak them in hot water and add a little bit baking soda if you are in a hurry.

2. Boil them while adding turmeric, bay leaf, cinnamon, tea bag and a piece of ginger.

3. Tea bag is added just for the color. You can skip it if you don’t like that brown hue.

Cooking:

1. In oil, firstly add the boiled potatoes cut into small pieces and fry them until brown keeping the flame medium. Keep them aside for garnishing.

2. To the oil (add more oil if it’s been absorbed by the potatoes) then add cumin seeds. Let it splutter a bit and then goes in onion. Add ginger garlic paste. Fry until the onions become a little brown and smell of garlic goes off. The flame should be medium-high.

2. Add tomato puree to this. Then all the spices, turmeric, coriander powder, red chilly powder, cumin powder, dry mango powder, chaat masala and salt. If required add a little water to prevent spices getting burnt. Adjust the flame from low to medium. Cook for a while until oil separates.

3. Add the chickpeas and water. The quantity of water is your own choice, how thin or thick consistency you want.

4. Let it cook for sometime (6 – 8 minutes approximately) covered. Then with the help of a masher, mash little of your chickpeas to add thickness to the gravy.

5. You can always add water later on if you find the gravy too thick as after being cooked, the gravy thickens further.

6. Add garam masala.

Tempering:

In hot oil add ginger juliennes, green chilly and as the ginger starts to change color, pour this onto the choley.

Garnishing:

Garnish with fried boiled potatoes and coriander leaves.

And your Choley bhature is ready to be served!!

Thank you so very much for your time for reading and going through my post 😊.

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Strawberry Fields Forever

“The big tree vanished, there was no more darkness, no little being but a river flowing by, a beautiful daylight and an angelic beauty with wings standing beside me.”

It was 12:30 A.M. and I was watching a movie when I started to doze off, so I shut down my laptop and went to sleep. I yearn for a sound sleep and that day I thought I might get one as I was very tired.

I switched off the lights of my room and lay down. I started thinking what all I have to do this weekend and stuff like that when suddenly I heard this buzzing sound like that of a mosquito. I opened my eyes and tried to ward it off. But again after a while I heard it right on my ears and this time I can feel the air moving and stood up. I looked around, there was no sound now. So I reclined again to get back to my sleep when I saw something unusually glowing. I felt uncanny and this eerie feeling ran through me. The glow slowly faded and what I saw was beyond my imagination. There was this little human – shaped being with wings flying above me. She was a miniature fellow but a divine beauty. I was smitten and scared equally as she asked me to follow her. I asked her who she was, still she smiled and said “come, follow me”. Her euphonious voice was as if it brought tunes to my life and not resisting I followed her. She went out of the window flying and stretched out her hand for me to hold. Soon I was flying holding her hand and the euphoria I experienced couldn’t be described in words. I was wondering how a tiny being is able to carry my 70 kg. weight and then was damn scared as to where she is taking me and who actually was she? We landed in front of huge tree, I had my feet on the ground while she was still in the air.

She asked me to go inside the huge trunk to which I said, Are you serious? She held my hand and pulled me and in an instance I was there. The big tree vanished, there was no more darkness, no little being but a river flowing by, a beautiful daylight and an angelic beauty with wings standing beside me. She was no tiny anymore. Who are you and where am I?? I asked her. She smiled and said a fairy, you can say I am and you are welcome into my world. Neither could I believe my ears nor my eyes as I saw these fairies flying, laughing, and playing happily in their own world.

I asked her as to why she brought me here? She said just to enjoy and live for a while what she lives. We sat near a dream-like waterfall and I asked her, every house here is more or less the same, why?? She replied that because this is not your world, there is no poverty, no rich, no upper class or middle class or poor. We are all the same and live our lives equally. I saw one green colored beautiful stone lying down there, I looked at it and she gave it to me. At once I kept it in my trousers pocket. Then she took me to an enthralling strawberry field. I was mesmerized to see the sprawling field and the laughing fairies flying over it. I asked her how come you people here look so happy, nobody looks sad, nor alone? She told me, because we are contended with whatever we have, we help each other grow, we don’t envy anyone and are happy in each other’s happiness. Meanwhile, I also had those strawberries and they were delicious. She asked me I can take some home if I wish to and at once I put two of them in my pocket. Now, I was getting a bit comfortable with her though the fear was still lurking inside me. I asked her what was her name as she didn’t told that, she answered smiling, “Fairy”. I told her, you didn’t asked mine either, I am Rajneesh Singhal. She said, I know. What’s in a name, your heart should be pure and I know, yours is. I was a little embarrassed but extremely grateful and floating with happiness yet surprised to what she said. She said to me, you are doing a great job in your world.

To tell you, I work in an IT firm but I also do charity and run an NGO in collaboration. Most recently we rescued children working as labourers and pledged to provide them shelter and education. Besides, I also have blessings of those aged parents whose children abandon them as we provide them shelter.

 The Fairy then took me to an astonishing meadow with blooming pink and yellow flowers. I enquired her about the crime rate in her world. She laughed this time and told me, this is not your world, dear. Here, there is no crime. We are God fearing people, we don’t commit crime. While still laughing, she picked up a flower from the ground and gave it to me, Bye, take care, she said.

I heard a sound coming from far off place and slowly it grew closer and louder and louder and I stood up. My heartbeat was racing and sweat dropping down, I opened my eyes. I threw away my blanket and got out of my bed. I looked around to find the fairy, her beautiful world. She was nowhere. It was my mobile phone ringing.

Was it a dream? I asked myself, flabbergasted. I sat down, gulped little water and laughed. Oh seriously, how could that world really exist. I remembered this Beatles song then..

….”let me take you down

‘Cause I am going to, strawberry fields

and nothing is real

and nothing to get hung about

STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER”….

While humming the song, I ran my hand through my pocket and felt something there, my heart bounced and my mouth wide-opened, as awestruck I took out the green stone, two strawberries and the pink flower.

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Wake Up

Wake up you oblivious

Get over your sleep

You were in your sweetest dream

And look where the world has had its leap

The birds singing for you

Are no longer yours

They found a new perch and bid you adieu

Your garden once abundant with flowers

Is on the verge of senescence

You didn’t watered them and they lost their vigor and power

Wake up you oblivious

The time is slipping by

Storms and tornadoes have passed

And you remained aloof hearing lullaby

Your boulevard stands empty today

Awaiting your dawn

Get Awake O beloved and keep your loneliness at bay

Your birds shall return

Your garden will bloom

You will get what all you have had yearn

Just get out of this oblivion

And

Wake up

Wake up to turn the tides and fight

Wake up to reclaim what was once yours

O beloved, this should be your awakening, get up with all your might.

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She… The Woman

She arrives in this world

Bringing happiness to many

And forces some to start collecting penny

For many she is their crown

For some she is their reason to frown

She arrives in this world

For promises to keep

Sadly but she’s often made to weep

She hollows out herself to color your existence

But rarely gets credit for her persistence

She arrives in this world

To reflect love and trust

But with time she often gets covered with dust

She generates a new soul to life

And happily she goes under the knife

She arrives in this world

To be the Rock of Gibraltar

With situations so, she sometimes falter

Yet she know how to sew her torn aspirations

To fulfill her unfulfilled imaginations.

And she arrives in this world

To be an ivy flower

To not to perish but blossom and prosper with power.

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HOT CROSS BUN

“Hot cross buns, hot cross buns, one a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns”

 Who wouldn’t have grown up singing this rhyme.. We all have πŸ˜€

Hot cross buns have rich history and traditionally eaten on Good Friday but now available round the year in parts of Europe, USA, Africa, India, Australia, Canada and more. They have a sweet, bit spicy and tangy flavor.

So, here is my attempt in making them (the recipe may differ a bit from the traditional one) after searching tonnes of recipes.

So, join me and sing “hot cross buns” while we make it. πŸ™‚

Cooking Time:   2.5 hours approximately

RECIPE:

Ingredients:

All-purpose flour: 2 cups

Yeast:  2 tea spoon

Castor sugar: 1 table spoon

Dry milk powder: 1/4 cup

Cinnamon powder: 1/2 tea spoon

Egg: 1

Butter/ Refined oil: 1/2 cup

Salt: 1/2 tea spoon

Dried cranberries: 1/2 cup

For the cross:

Lemon juice: 1 tea spoon

Flour: 2 – 3 table spoon

Castor sugar: 1 tea spoon

METHOD:

1. Take half a cup of water and add yeast, sugar and mix properly. Keep it for about 2 minutes.

2. In a bowl, add all-purpose flour, salt, dry milk powder, cinnamon powder and mix them together with a whisk. Then add the yeast mixture, butter/oil, beaten egg and assemble everything together.

3. On a clean platform either use dry flour or oil or knead the dough properly. I used oil.

4. Just few drops of oil on the surface and knead the dough back and forth with your palm until it becomes smooth and stops sticking to the surface.

5. Now add the cranberries (instead you can use any dried fruit of your choice, you can add raisins as well) and fold the dough.

6. Now grease the bowl and keep the dough to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or more.

Best is to keep inside your oven or microwave (switched off, of course πŸ˜‰)

7. Punch down the risen dough and make small balls out of it. Size you can make as you wish, I made 8 small buns out of the given quantity. Place them on the baking tray dusted with flour.

8. Cover with a kitchen towel and keep them for another 20 – 25 minutes to rise more.

FOR THE CROSS:

1. Add Castor sugar, flour, lemon juice and mix. Add little water to even the consistency. It should neither be too thin nor thick.

2. Take a piping bag or if you do not have one, like me πŸ˜›, take one zip lock bag. Put one corner of it inside a glass and add the mixture. Press down the mixture and then cut off the tip of the bag.

3. Now make cross on all the buns and keep them to bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 20 – 25 minutes or until done.

Do remember to keep a check after every 5 minutes. Baking time may vary.

HOW TO SERVE:

1. Take a bowl and add jam of your choice (I used mixed fruit). Into it, add hot water about 2 to 3 tablespoons and mix well.

2. Brush the jam onto the buns.

3. You can avoid jam and use the flour mixture again to make a cross.

And now, they are ready to serve.

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If I Could…..

If I could, I would be a nightingale

Sitting on the boughs and singing my tales

And everyone loving my voice

Even though the fables being of my choice

I would freely soar high without any end

And thus setting up my own new trend.

If I could, I would time travel

Rectifying my past mistakes beyond my level

Reliving twice the most happy moments

Not caring much then, I now lament

Doing what I didn’t at that time

And setting up subtly my new paradigm.

If I could, I would be a phoenix

Even if I fall after a jinx

I would again rise and arise

Much stronger than my previous size

Not just I will sit back and regret

And falsely assume that I can never move ahead playing my already run out cassette

If I could, I would become invisible

And thus becoming highly invincible

I would go business class around the world for free

How much will I love not to pay and be on a shopping spree

I would help the poor and needy with loads of gifts

And watch their elated faces without getting sniffed.

If I could, I should be my own

Not being a nightingale, a phoenix or time travel or be invisible but hone

But the qualities and capabilities they symbolize, we should retain

And reflect it to others and entertain

Don’t go the easy way pretending someone you are not, so be a little wise

Thus carving in this world your own niche, your own little happy paradise.

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FEAR OF THE KNOWN UNKNOWN

Short Story (Fiction)

The narrator is Mrs. Suruchi Narang.

“… My heart missed a beat and my blood ran cold”

It’s been a year since we shifted to New Delhi from Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand. My husband is Divisional Forest Officer and we came here on deputation after spending few years in remote places for field work.

So, talking about Pithoragarh, we (my husband and two children) lived there for about 8 months and let me tell you it is a beautiful place and those 8 months were really the most beautiful days of my life.

The forest guesthouse was under renovation and the place they were providing us was not good enough to live in, so we decided to live on rent as we found one astounding pristine house located not too far off from my husband’s place of work. We also got a small primary school not far off from this place, so we were sorted. Though on little outskirts, it was a serene place with vivid and delightful woodlands. We lived on the ground floor as we wanted one and on the first floor there lived one family of four. My kids were 5years and 3 years and with time they got mingled with the kids upstairs (7and 3.5 years old) quite much. In the evening, these four children used to play in our garden and I used to sit there watching them with a cup of tea and waiting for my husband to come. Their mother, Bhawna was a little bit reserved but very elegant and composed. Quite often I asked her to join me for a cup of tea in the evening and we talked while the kids played. Her husband was a wildlife photographer and rarely did we get to see him. Sometimes, both of us ladies also went for an evening walk around our premises and I was the one mostly talking while she smiled and listened. Our 8 months stay there went by very fast but beautifully.

Two days back, I came to know that our Pithoragarh’s house landlord welcomed a baby boy. Our landlord belonged to quite an affluent family and lived in New Jersey, US.

So, I called her to congratulate. It was really kind of her to receive my call though a welcome party was going on in her house. She talked to me very nicely and I told her how pleasant time we spent at her place in Pithoragarh. I asked her about our upstairs neighbors there as how were they or were they still there or moved somewhere else. She answered me, Neighbors, who neighbors? I told her the ones who used to live in her house upstairs, she answered again, you were the only ones living there, and nobody lived upstairs. My heart missed a beat and my blood ran cold. My lips went blue as I sat on my sofa speechless, hello she said. Are you hearing me? I could hear her voice and the voices of the guests in her house but I just froze and words didn’t came out of my mouth and thinking a network problem she disconnected the call. If nobody was there all that while, who were actually those 4 people. I trembled like a leaf. Bhawna’s voice, her face, her children started to engulf my whole mind and sent chills over my spine as I relived every instance I met them in those 8 months.

I called my landlords wife again, she did not received. I called her again after few hours, she picked the call and after enquiring a bit she told me that the last time somebody had lived upstairs was 5 years back. But unfortunately, the whole family died in a car crash. And since then the house was vacant until we moved in. At once I recalled Bhawna once telling me that they had a very bad accident once. I had asked her you must have been really injured, to which she had just smiled. Her infectious smile scares the daylights out of me. It’s been two days now and I haven’t slept and I don’t know when will I be able to. I am just waiting for my husband to come. He is off to Almora for some official trip for a week and am here with my kids and house maid.

Bhawna and her mystery will always haunt me. I still remember our last day there, she hugged me to say goodbye. I can still feel her cold touch. I also asked her to stay in touch and she told me she had to change her phone number and as she has my contact she will call. She never did. And am highly thankful for that and I pray she never will. Her last view was waving her hand along with her kids and then fading off. But will she really fade my memories? She never will. Neither will I get the answers nor do I truly want them to be answered. Some things are better if not unraveled. I have to live with this fear of the unknown which is really the fear of the known my whole life.

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RASGULLA (COTTAGE CHEESE DUMPLINGS)

As promised at the onset of my blog that you will also witness some of the easy-to-follow culinary options, here’s the first to start with.

Let me clarify that I am not a professional cook nor do I hold any such professional qualifications, and not a beginner (5 years back though) as well but still have lots to learn.

So why would you follow my recipes??

Because I have somehow tried to lessen the amount of work you would actually do by searching ample of recipes to select the very best and consider cooking as simple as it can be.

So writing this post, I was wondering from where to start with.

But as they say β€œBeginnings should always be sweet” so get ready, open your mouth and savour your taste buds with  the indispensable Indian sweet ” Rasgulla” or ” cottage cheese dumplings”

RECIPE:

Cooking Time: Approximately 25 to 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

Milk: 1.5 liters (makes around 10-12 Rasgullas)

Vinegar: 2 to 3 tablespoons

Corn flour /all-purpose flour: 1 teaspoon

Sugar: 1 cup (or more as per preference)

Water: 4 cups

Rose water:  1/2 to 1 teaspoon

Step 1. PREPARATION OF COTTAGE CHEESE

A. Place the milk to boil and as the first boil comes, add little by little vinegar into it. Do not stir and if you fear that the milk will come out of your vessel, just place it half on your gas. The moment you see cheese and water separates properly, it’s done.

B. Place a Muslin cloth on a sieve, drain out the water and wash the cheese properly under tap water to remove the sourness of the vinegar.

C. Squeeze the water out properly from the cheese by holding the ends of the cloth together or you may even hang it for a while. Remember, to let a little moisture be in there otherwise your dumplings will dry.

Step 2. MAKING OF DUMPLING BALLS

A. Now it’s time to knead your cheese as smoothly as you can. Better you do it on your clean working station. With the help of your palms knead it for about 4 to 5 minutes. Then, add corn flour /all-purpose flour (not more than a teaspoon) and knead again until all your cheese sticks together firmly and form a dough.

B. Now make balls, size depends on your choice but shouldn’t be too big as the balls will be double their sizes afterwards.

** If the ball is not rolling up properly, then knead it again for a while.

** If you feel cheese is dried up, just add few drops of water and knead.

Step 3. SUGAR SYRUP

A. Add sugar and water and let it boil for about 5 to 6 minutes.

B. In the boiling syrup, add the balls 2 to 3 at a time. Don’t add them at once. Gap should be few seconds not minutes πŸ˜‰

C. Let them boil at high flame uncovered first for 2 – 3 minutes and then cover it with a lid for about 5 to 8 minutes. The lid should have an opening to let the steam pass or else just keep the vessel a bit uncovered.  Until now, do not stir.

C. Open the lid, turn the balls slowly with a spoon and again cover it and cook on low to medium flame for 4 to 5 minutes.

D. By now, they should be done. How to check?? Take a glass of water and put one ball, if it sinks, clap for yourself πŸ˜€πŸ‘and if it floats, cook it for a while again.

**Remember to take wide-mouthed and a deep vessel.

Step 4. HOW TO SERVE

A. Let the balls sit there in the syrup until it cools down. Once the temperature drops, add rose water. You can add dry fruits also.

B. Garnish with saffron sticks and place in the refrigerator to cool it down.

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THESE LITTLE FINGERS

These little fingers

Oh you my tiny happiness bringer

You give me joys and liveliness untold

Each day thus becoming memoirs to hold

The day you were born

I didn’t knew later on you will wear a horn

All day you run and hop like a bunny

Can you please really stop being so funny

I can’t even just sit relax and have my cup of tea

Oh why you are always hovering around me like a bee

You leave no stone unturned to create a mess

And now you have started to choose your own dress

Whole day you are just crazy for cars

There is not a single one now without a scar

Your plush husky is the most dearest to you

And washing it makes you go blue

Making you eat is one of the greatest dare

The agony and anguish of which I can’t even share

Whole day you are my storm in a teacup

Your infectious smile, even if I am tired, makes me go up

Since the day you were born, you are my alarm

I long for that sound sleep, my little charm

Your movement I tell you, is so swift

You don’t know but it’s your father’s gift

You were six months old when you started crawling

And mind you, since then when you sleep

I am sprawling

You have now started to babble

But let me tell you, you are no less than a rabble

When you run with those long locks

With features so, you will look a girl if you wear a frock

Day by day, we all are getting older

One day you will be taller than my shoulder

That day I will see my whole house, everything will be in place

Then I will realize, it was better in the previous phase

Today you follow me like my own shadow

Then, I will long for this very beautiful meadow

And these little fingers which are to be held upon today

Will hold ours when our hairs will turn grey

This is the life’s cycle and I am sure you will love me and agree

After all, an apple doesn’t fall far from a tree.