Dolphia’s Bengali Garlic Spinach Sauté


“Eating healthy is important but so is eating well too. A hearty meal with family is the most important part of leading a meaningful and healthy lifestyle (my personal thoughts)“. For some reason though, we have forgotten to understand that health is not merely in wealth, it also lies in the wealth of real happiness than perceived ideas of joy. Don’t you think?

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For ages joint families dwelled under one roof living a symbiotic life. The house was full of laughter and happiness. The happiness that today we could only imagine. Everything was real and pure. The chores were assigned. Men practiced profession and earned bread while women nurtured the tasks of the family and home in general. The division was clear and unquestioned.

People had no issues with teeth and hair. Their health was perfect. The could walk miles and consume all the ghee and nuts they ate. Their skin was glowing and their life was not about capturing every minute on a gadget.

People were content in little that they earned and shared amongst community. The barter was healthy. Men and women walked distances to achieve their targets. They did not hence need a psychiatrist or a gym. The health was part of their lifestyle and they lived it.

Industrialization came in and men moved out of their nuclear families came about. Urbanization further distanced us from the roots of true concepts of health. Stress, pollution, independence and self-entitlement now govern our lives. We have become the slaves of gadgets and gizmos. My mind is buzzed off sometimes with all the overwhelming technology. Yes, it has enriched our lives but has made it a mechanical engine too. I know it’s debatable.

I notice the change in myself in last one year. This has been the most that I used social networking as a medium of leading life (for lack of better words). I have a reason to curb. But,do we really want to pause and retrospect? No,we (including me) want to get off our struggles and stress through social networks. The question is do we have the healthiest lifestyle and health status? So many amongst us nearing 30’s have health issues and yet they are gymming on regular basis.

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My father was my hero,the epitome of health,strength,wisdom and knowledge.He shall always be! My mind is contemplating what am I going to be an epitome of to my son? Definitely not a hero.

The point I m trying to convey is how important it is to value spending actual time with family laughing, sharing and crying after a whole day of struggles in the outside world. Hence dinner is very important meal of the day to me! I like to make a balanced meal that all of us could enjoy without any gadget interruptions!

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Aspiring to make the meal interesting and likeable I need new recipes to try on. Now everyday cannot be “Eureka” but something new (healthy) could make a difference. So, when I don’t innovate in the kitchen factory my fellow bloggers inspire me with their rustic recipes. I mentioned to Dolphia of my love for Bengali food. However, though Bengalis are known for their exquisite mithai (sweets) and fish of course, their vegetarian platters are equally delicious so requested her to share few traditional recipes.

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The sweet girl that she (Dolphia) is, she took all the trouble of making a variety of these and matched them with perfectly shot picturesque trip to Bengal! Thank-you is too little a word to say, for I have a warm hug for my Bengali sister transported all the way to the east coast! I promise to make each one of those and share pics 🙂 And yes I will dedicate that “Wada Bhaat” recipe to you soon!Please refer her recipe hereJ. The recipe is a simple Spinach-Garlic sauté with practically zero oil and extremely nutritious. My pre-schooler loved it and kept asking for more servings of “palak bhaji” (spinach side-dish).

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I haven’t tweaked much in Dolphia’s recipe much (Yeah, but I said not much:P). I added a kick of freshly crushed “rai” or mustard seeds for the lack of owning a bottle of mustard oil. Back home in Bombay, our Bengali neighbor Krishna aunty added a hint of crushed mustard seeds and cooked in mustard oil always. Dolphia, I hope you don’t mind J. Trust me the recipe overall came together beautifully and your instructions were just perfect. Especially about the quantity of salt, they directions were spot on!

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The combination of fresh greens with garlic and red chilis always is vibrant visually and tantalizes taste buds. We gobbled a power meal of 3 bunches of spinach at one go! So, good job-check J.

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For the love of good life a cure so simple as to having a meal together is really priceless, don’t you think? How many of you like to have meals with no gadgets around (Just “US” kind of thing) ?

I do definitely! ❤

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Steamed Banana Semolina Cake & Post A quote Challenge!


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Over-ripe Bananas sitting on the platter, what to do? Any ideas? I refer my Aji’s potli (Grandma’s bag of magic) full of simple recipes. And, make it time saving, economic, steamed, eggless and meatless too! Sounds a trip to heaven, doesn’t it? Believe me I cannot take the smell of meat and eggs on my dishes and gadgets! I just have to sanitize everything perfectly well until there is no trace of the foul smell. Monica Gellar I can beat you with my freakiness! Any other OCD’s for company??:P

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So without much commotion, I m going to share a detailed recipe of this healthy cake J

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Ingredients:

  • 1-2 ripe bananas (read over ripe in my case!!)
  • 1 cup. fine Semolina (Rava or Sooji)
  • 1 cup. finely chopped Jaggery (You can substitute with less than or equal amount of sugar).
  • 2 tsps. Cardamom powder
  • 3-4 strands of Saffron.
  • Chopped pistachios (You can add as many or as less. It’s an optional ingredient).
  • 1-2 tsps. Clarified butter (Ghee. It’s optional too. One could use olive oil too).
  • 1 big tbsp. Yoghurt/ Curd.

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Method:

  • Mix all the ingredients well until no lumps remain (not the nuts) and set aside for 5 minutes.The consistency of this batter is pretty thick (and sticky too) and not anything like the usual cake batter. So don’t get scared when you don’t see any folds of batter on tapping the spatula.Featured image
  • Add the chopped nuts.
  • Oil spray a steel container or the usual cake pan. I did not use any greasing and added a butter paper underneath into the pan.

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  • Spoon the batter into the cake pan.
  • Add water into the pressure cooker or steamer and set the cake pan inside it.Just cover the whistle hole with a bowl or just Al foil.
  • Allow it to steam cook for 8-15 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.

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  • Garnish with nuts and clarified butter!

I looked forward to summer vacations at my Aji’s place in Bombay. She would make this cake. What made it surreal was she made it with so much care. And truth be told, it was absolutely real. We did not have cameras and camera phones back then. I ponder if having them then could have helped me treasure the essence of my childhood for future. Reality is that memories may fade but the essence remains within the soul.But then I look at myself and see how she has passed on her looks to me 🙂

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My Aji stays across the globe. Every trip to the motherland my heart sinks another inch to see her grow older and frailer.

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Chanakya rightly said, he who lives in our mind is near though he may actually be far away; but he who is not in our heart is far though he might really be near by”.

I feel it better than ever before. Having lost so many dear ones in less than two years in my immediate family, the feeling of seeing incomplete houses is setting in. But, life goes on, doesn’t it?

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I have trained my brain to be thankful to the bag of goodies life has given me so far. And, having a family like mine in itself is a boon.

A toast of healthy emotional balance to all!

BTW,This is my First entry to the Post A quote Challenge By Sumana 🙂 Thanks again for the opportunity. I wanted to begin my quotes with my aji’s recipe who shares her name with you 🙂

All is Well!


A month and over of hiatus finally comes to an end! Ah, how I have missed being here. This being the space that keeps my spirits high! But, I m back recharged and lighter than before! Yes, the hourglass is on its way to be!! And All is well! (pic courtesy:google images)

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Where had I vanished? The house move finally happened in the wee hours of 25th June 2015 though our material existence (the boxes et al) had been moved on 18th the contractor hadn’t finished work enough for us to start living into the place we will finally belong. But our apartment lease was to end on 25th at 6.00 pm and we had no choice but to move in as-is! The contractor drama in detail for future posts! Trust me it has been one real life drama that moved me totally!

Anyway, the house is all set! We have had the fortune of visitors from all corners of the world visiting us in our new home. Yes, we are finally home! And not a minute goes that I don’t think about this house we bought and a home we made J. Every corner and every wall made specially for us to render memories that would last a lifetime.

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In the meanwhile, I have lost a total of 7lbs from May 10th.The inches have dropped down considerably. The moment of rejoice was when I could fit into a sleeveless blouse from circa 2008! That week of my saree pledge challenge made it ultra special to adorn the 5 yards of awesome-ness!

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And BTW, I successfully enter my 14th week of saree pledge challenge this week! My mother is busy cleaning up her saree closets and shipping some of her classics collected over last 50 years to my new home! Home seems home already with two packages already sitting pretty into my closet! Time to hit the red carpet J! And yes, wait for a big announcement about it soon!

Moving and settling down could be extremely stressful. Especially the last 15 days before the move-out date we ate out a lot. I was so concerned about the weight then! But, to my surprise my weight remained the same through those 15 days!

The regimen after moving into the new home has changed a bit. I haven’t yet begun my 30-day Ab challenge that stopped suddenly a month ago due to the move. I regularly sweep the floors at the new place to keep them clean and myself lean :P! So far that plan seems to have been working well but need to get back to ab challenge!

Another highlight of the last month has been Sumana Doss Barman’s challenge of sayings/proverbs / idioms! Madam, I m going to take it up by horns! No further delays! And we will meet really soon!

Traditionally a social butterfly is not what I would call myself (instead a wallflower would be perfect for me) but last few weeks have been busy attending get-togethers and dinners! I probably am ready for a break there! “Oh Surely”, my husband would say!

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The new kitchen kicks me to try new recipes from the backyard basket of ingredients. I made this delicious basil plum sauce (from the plum tree here) that would be served that would be served with Chicken soon!

Yes, that reminds me to thank my lovely audience for being patient and sharing the pics of recipes from here that you and your family enjoyed! Chickpea crusted eggplant hearts on platter recipe seems to hit the right nerve! I m so glad to share a bite of my childhood with all of you!! Thanks for trying these!

In short, All is well! I m pretty much planning to be the hourglass mommy, not figuratively but in reality! And she is here to stay!! Gear up, buckle up!

Coffee-Cinnamon Ice Cream: As Good As It Gets!


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I ❤ Bombay and honestly don’t need a reason to miss it! I miss it the most during hot & dry summers here. (Really, you miss perspiring? Unbelievable must you think J. I can see eyes balls rolling already :D!). One has got to be born there to feel the empathy and love of hot-humid weathers!

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Summers were long and fun. I longed to eat Aai’s homemade Coffee ice cream & Mango ice cream. She made often during the summer holidays thanks to my tonsillitis (that made cold foods a taboo through the rest of the year as I would quickly fall sick). But thanks to her, I could enjoy homemade preservative free Ice Creams.

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So here’s a recipe of a hassle-free, no techno-gadget friendly recipe of my Aai’s (mother’s) Coffee ice cream with a twist of Cinnamon added by me!

 Ingredients: (10-12 servings)

  • 5 litres 1% organic milk (approximately 0.39 gallons. Separate 1/4th cup milk from it and set aside).

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  • In a saucepan, bring the milk to boil.
  • While it boils, add the ¼ cup milk in a cup and stir in all dry ingredients. Microwave for upto 1 minute or until the milk is lukewarm.
  • Add vanilla extract to the lukewarm milk in the cup and mix well until frothy.
  • Pour the liquid into the boiling milk.
  • Keep stirring the mixture in the saucepan (over medium heat).
  • Reduce the mixture until it begins to thicken (due to the custard powder).
  • Set the pan off the flame (Switch the burner off :P, add the bourbon now and stir quickly if making alcoholic version).
  • Pour into suitable cups or bowls and allow it to cool down.
  • Place them in freezer uncovered.
  • Fork them after 20 minutes and cover the bowls. (So, we don’t ice the cream totally and make it crunchy.)
  • Few hours later, heaven on earth has just landed into your tummy! Top it with crisp cornflakes! Gives a good crunch to every bite.

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Now some would be curious to know why I chose to use Nescafe when there are other sophisticated (dark-medium) coffee beans and powders available in the American market?

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Aai always uses it and to my mind that’s the way it should be! There are recipes that are branded and then there are those that are Aai made (made by my mother). So apart from the addition of cinnamon (which was to elevate the coffee flavor and It did) nothing has been modified in the original recipe of my Aai.

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I sincerely hope (& pray) that the coffee ice cream brings the love and affection of our nuclear families. The love that exists but we fail to express. And the reason for us to stay up is the late night chatter and never ending conversations with loved ones. Dinners I feel get the family together and desserts bond them! Do you agree? 🙂

I came across this beautiful quote by an unknown writer, “Conscience keeps more people awake than coffee” or so we hope (I must add).

May conscience be with all of us, active and alert as it ever could be!

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Let it be clear and clutter free so we can reach out to the extent of mankind to heal, nurture, endure and love. Stay awake with a compassionate conscience and bowl of Coffee-Cinnamon Ice cream. And indulge guilt free with a clear conscience! The whole idea behind sharing the quote was pure Gluttony :P!

Déjà-Vu?

Chickpea Crusted Eggplant hearts on a Platter


Do you believe in the logic behind ”What’s in the name?” I absolutely do.

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In my defense of POV, I’d say nothing is in the name, the soul lies in the identity of the object (living or not. BTW, food is a living creation for me J)

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On that note of having people confused, let me further say that the recipe I am presenting today is my personal version of its traditional and famous counterparts made with passion, love as well as finesse across India. And needless to say that such a commonly made delicacy has no universal name or taste, but a common emotion! Oh yes, food has emotions and human mind associates food with memories.

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I would stay over at my grandmother’s house every Friday since every Saturday was early morning school day unlike the other days when school started at 10 am. My Aji (my mother’s mother up and bouncing at 89) would make Vangyache Kaap” very often during my sleepovers at their place. The prime reason being I simply adored them! My granny called it the “Brahmin’s fish” (Brahmins, do not eat non-vegetarian traditionally,I m an exception :P)!

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Sounds extremely odd to most mothers, isn’t it? I had surrendered to my mother’s strict discipline about eating all vegetables early on and eventually learnt to like them. So, I fell for eggplant/brinjal too!

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However I renamed my version of the traditional Marathi Vangyache kaap” as “Chickpea Crusted Eggplant Hearts on a Platter”. Sliced eggplant dipped in chickpea flour and minimal spices, elegantly cooked on a flat pan! Isn’t that such a hearty sight? Hence the name! Don’t mind the re-naming please!

And now without any more of blabber or Bakar (local word used for chatter in Bombay) I detail the ingredients and method for this delicacy!

Ingredients: (approx. 10 slices-3 persons)

  • 1 medium sized eggplant/brinjal (sliced about 10mm thick, washed and soaked in water)
  • 4 tbsps. Chickpea flour/besan.
  • 2-3 tsps. Ajwain/Carom seeds.
  • Salt to taste.
  • 2 tsps. Asafoetida.
  • 2 tsps. Turmeric powder.
  • 2 tsps. Garam masala /all spices powder.
  • 1-2 tsps. Red chili powder.
  • Olive oil Spray.

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Note: The carom seeds, asafetida and turmeric help balance the heaviness of eggplant. The eggplant is heavy on tummy or gives gases but its very subjective. To make it lighter on tummy and ease out any trouble later, the addition of these three ingredients plays a vital role.

 Method:

  • Mix all the dry ingredients and set aside.
  • Lightly dap the moisture from the sliced eggplant with a tissue.
  • Coat the eggplant slices with the dry mixture.
  • Heat the flat pan on a medium flame. Spray the olive oil spray on it evenly. Use a brush if required to coat the pan.
  • Lay the slices on the pan.
  • Spray the topside with oil and turn.
  • Allow it to cook for up to 1.5 minutes on each side and spray while flipping to the side not facing the pan.
  • The eggplant would change colour to a beautiful golden from the white and the sides would turn darker.
  • Push a knife or edge of the spatula to check if the eggplant has cooked well.If the fork moves in easily, its done!

 It could be an appetizer or a sidekick with rice or bread! But,frankly it could be whatever you want it to be 🙂

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Good food needs no words, it’s a language by itself. So, relax and relish. Enjoying food and creating aromatic memories is more important. Have it with wine or Sol-kadhi (Maharashtrian Mangosteen Soup) as long as it delights you, nothing else matters!

What say? J

Kesariya Pistewali Sevaiiya (Sweet Vermicelli Pudding lightly infused with Saffron & Pistachios)


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I love recipes that are easy to cook and don’t require lot of preparation. With a work-in progress home renovation and an almost 4 year-old boy I cannot ask for more, can-I?

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My boy has his “ Craving for the day” a la carte that changes every day depending on his mood. The one in all things is his love of and for sweets! He just digs the dessert course better than the others.He does enjoy his daily dose (or should I say overdose) of “Poli-Bhaji” (Roti and Vegetables) but sweets are his soft point. His spouse (whoever and wherever she is, you are going to handle this crazy foodie, my respects!) is going to have a cakewalk into his heart if she manages to discover that detail about him!

Anyway, he loves this simple and totally delicious milk based, loaded with nuts and saffron, fused with cardamom and ready in minutes sweet that he longs to eat with Roti (mostly) or Puri (rarely).

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I like the minimal usage of ingredients to the fullest! Hence I let them shine on their own, without overcrowding them. Unlike the traditional version of Sevaii Kheer where a variety of nuts are used in the whole form, I used a powdered mixture of pistachios, saffron and cardamom. The Pistachios elevate the colour and flavours of this dish.

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I like to address it as “Kesariya-Pistewali Sevaiiya” (Sweet Vermicelli Pudding lightly infused with Saffron & Pistachios) for obvious reasons!

 Ingredients: (4-6 medium sized bowls of pudding)

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  • 1/2 cup. vermicelli noodles. (These are sold separately and are thinner as well as finer sold in rectangular boxes or coiled to form U in plastic bags in most Indian stores. The ones for Upma are little thicker than these and have more starch in them)-crushed with hands.
  • 2 tsps. clarified butter or ghee.
  • 8 strands of saffron.
  • 2-3 pods of green cardamom.
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg powder (optional).
  • 1/4th De-shelled and unsalted pistachios.
  • 2 cups 1% organic milk.
  • Honey as per taste or 6 tbsps of sugar.(as per taste)
  • 2 cups of water.
  • Good coffee grinder or any other grinder of your choice.

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Method:

  • In a deep pan heat (on a low flame) the clarified butter and roast the vermicelli noodles on it.
  • The aroma of the roasted vermicelli would soon fill the whole house. Add the milk and boil it. The milk and vermicelli cook together quickly. The mixture starts to thicken. Keep stirring.
  • Add half the water into the thickened milk.
  • Fine grind the pistachios, cardamom and saffron. Add the powder in the milk and bring to a boil.
  • Gradually add the sugar or honey as desired, stirring often to avoid burning.
  • As the mixture boils, the kheer turns thicker and thicker-almost on the verge of forming a thick soft cake. Add the remaining water. Bring to a boil and switch the flame off.
  • The kheer is ready

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I remember as a child my Aai (mother) used to make it at least once a week. We probably could not afford making it, as I think about it now. But she still made it so that her daughter gets the sweetness of life that she could not relish much.

In retrospect, all I remember is she wore the same pair of surgical footwear for years to make that kheer so enriching for her only child. Our generation did not have the pleasure of luxurious gifts for birthdays they say, I’d say we had better than that!

My Baba (father) would work 8-8 for the love of working. The numbers never mattered to him on his balance sheet. He believed that fame and money would follow if his efforts were honest. He worked for the love of working. And to see the man I loved more than myself for all my life and will do so for the rest, I feel our generation has had the privilege of witnessing the best luxuries of life that our children would never see.

2 years ago when he passed away, he was still the man who was world famous for his innovative engineering concepts and ground-saving solutions but wore simple footwear that costs nothing more than 500 inr. But I would say, our generation was luckier to witness the creased sole of the cheap footwear that walked such a remarkable journey of life.

The ideologies of need and want were different then or have we surrendered to the luxurious life way too much to be able to enjoy simplicity of life??

If cometh a day that I shall be able to treasure preciousness of life, I’d save my father’s creased and worn out footwear sole, his glasses and a copy of Bhagwat Geeta he read everyday. They will remind me that the richess I inherited have the sweat and blood of my Baba!Featured image

This kheer is a toast to the struggles that my parents went through to raise me and make me the person that I m. I hope that our generation could pass some sense of responsibility to our kids that they inherit naturally but have lost to the so-called ideas of privacy!

Closing in to a month: Day 28 & 29


As the moving date gets closer and closer, our days are getting busier by the day. Packing when is kid is around is so difficult, don’t you think?

Anyway, last two days could be better described as Summer-ized! Yes, the summers are already in CA. The area had already received a prolonged draught and cold wave so the summers might just get the heat burst as well. The sudden transitions hurt the routine a lot. More hunger and thirst pangs and yes added weight of electricity bills :P.

I wasn’t very hungry for last two days especially around the lunchtime (it’s the heat L). I decided to give some rest to my over-exerting tummy and ate simple Dal Khichdi (Lentils and rice cooked in a soupy style usually served as comfort food when ill J). However as the temperatures settled I was able to dine well. I m anyway a dinner loving person!

Since I skipped my 30 day ab challenge on Sunday, I decided to not have a rest day on Tuesday as per the schedule. This challenge is working out great personally. Takes 10-15 minutes of my time through the day and then I don’t have to feel guilty of inability to go for post lunch walk or evening strolls. It’s a must try if fixing up a regimen is an issue with you.

Have you heard about “Clean eating? I kind of believe in doing that at least once every month. No matter the organic stuff and products I consume, the body still finds ways to store junk in it. Fortunately, the only noticeable addiction I have is drinking ginger infused tea. Ice-creams and aerated drinks do not fancy me for last 32 years at least. Never took to liking them because of my tonsillitis issue as a child. Perhaps simplifying and making it friendlier to suit my likes, what say? I m working on it but any inputs are welcome!

We packed some stuff in the guest bedroom for the last two days. I have moved 9 times in my life! 2 times in Bombay (from Chembur to Shivaji Park to Mahim), 6 times within the bay are and once overseas :P. Many of our friends call us pros in moving and have suggested commencing a help centre for the same!!! As ridiculous as it sounds, the thought is quite intriguing!

The thought of a sense of belonging and a feeling of being at home (other than the parents home in India) finally seem to get more real now. As I sit in the middle of boxes packed memories, a poem written in circa 2008 (while dating Rohan) keeps my mind hydrated, daring to share it again J.

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 A Home Away From Home..

 A friend (was Rohan J) met me over a chat conversation on the internet,

To introduce to me a vision I was blinded with,

A view of a homesick toddler (at heart) wanting to revisit days of childhood,

Might it seem impossible to those who have forgotten to pause in the midst of utter madness!

 He requested in a humble yet persuasive tone,

“Build me a home, Build me a home”,

In the lush greens of motherly arms,

In the happy lap of the fields,

In the blooming smiles of buddies, 

Midst of swaying trees, dancing crops to the monsoon songs of my sisters swinging a heavenly flight!

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 A dwelling not merely,

A little deeper than that,

An enlightenment replicating my soul,

Hiding simplicity within its hearth with long and open courtyards,

A porch to nostalgia,

A garden essaying my childhood,

A comfort to the frames in the family room,

Tantalizer to the taste buds of low lying kitchen,

A tranquility for the soul in the neatly lined bedroom,

“Oh, dear builder, build me a home away from home!”

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 A mother in the disguise of subtility,

A father to humanity,

A brother to hospitality,

A sister to care and kindness,

A search so mythical,

A demand so selfish,

“Still, dear builder, build me a home..away from home”.

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A symbol of trust & a mirror to reality,

A shoulder to cry & lean on,

A shelter to cringe for,

A granny singing a lullaby to shut me away from the world’s demanding and illusive strings,

A maid who tamed my tantrums to the matured handsome advisory,

A home that holds, a home that straightens,

“Hey builder, build me a home, build me a home”.

I am sure there is a mixed bag of emotions associated with our life at some point of time about a sense of belonging. Finally, we have found a home! Hope all find theirs J too!

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I have lost half an lbs early this week! So I m happy!!

In the last two days I have walked quite a bit in all the leading hardware stores around the south bay J. Yesterday we were so late that I could only fix up Cilantro Theplas and onion salad for dinner! But, I still could have a happy healthy meal, low on calories and nutritious.

Constant blogging has gotten me nomination for awards (and a tough job of selecting blogs that inspired me truly! I am sorry to have disappointed so many of my blogger friends, but hope you understand) but my eye power has shot up as well, so visiting a doctor on Wednesday L. Keeping my fingers crossed J!

Too long right? I believe any health regimen is incomplete without the state d’optimization of our hearts and minds!

This week is going to be more about heart though my fitness routine continues.