light diet

Diet Plan for weightloss

I hope you’re doing great. How is weight-loss journey shaping up? Do you have any goals you want to achieve before the end of the year? I was thinking of setting a mini-goal for end of the year within my project 50k. End of the year is a little over a month away. But there’s a lot you can do in a month. I am going to be sharing a diet plan for weightloss today to help you stay on track. Truth be told, I’ve barely stepped in the gym the last few weeks. I spent the past few weeks hugging a hot water bag, a pain relief spray in one hand and popping tablets every now and then. I’ve been plagued by a persistent back-ache that still hasn’t gone away. I know now how it feels to not be able to bend at all. I also realized that I bend only when I am putting on my shoes or photographing food. I lower myself gradually into the chair and get up even slower. Nobody dare hustle grandmas and grandpas for being slow! It is easy to slip off the diet when you are not exercising. There just isn’t that motivation. But it is so important to stick to your diet to stay where you are, to not ruin the work you’ve done all along. I had a few readers ask me about the diet to follow for weightloss. So I decided to put together a couple of diet charts for the benefit of those who wish to lose weight. There are two versions of these diet plans – the light version is for beginners and anyone who doesn’t want to make too many drastic changes to their daily diet. The Advanced version is for the seriously disciplined kind who are up for a challenge. I have the vegetarian and non-vegetarian options for both diet versions. Feel free to use the diet plan that suits your goals best. I am no expert, far from it. I have lost weight in the past with the “light diet” and regular exercise (5-6 days a week). Jagan follows the advanced version of the diet plan and has seen impressive results. He works out 5 days at the gym in addition to a cross-fit class he attends 3 days a week. These are also some of the things that I’ve heard from dieticians. This...
10 things we do on whatsapp

10 things we do on Whatsapp

I’ve been toying with the idea of this post for quite some time now. I wasn’t sure I could come up with a big enough list. I didn’t want to offend the Whatsapp folks I know of. But then I realized I’d exited most Whatsapp groups that I was part of. Also I don’t expect the serious Whatsapp-y folks to have enough patience or attention span to read this 900 word article. A video or meme may have stood out but not this one. So here goes. Let me know your experience with Whatsapp. I’d love to hear. HBD We never remembered birthdays and anniversaries of cousins, cousin’s wives, their kids, uncles and aunts. And rightfully we did not wish all these people either. Things seemed real. With Whatsapp when all these extended family members are cloistered together in a Whatsapp group just a tap away, every day is somebody’s birthday, somebody’s anniversary. The cousin’s wife or brother or sister gives the cue usually by changing the title of the group. Changing the title is the red carpet treatment of Whatsapp. Everybody else follows suit with their own “HBD” wishes. The more cake, balloon and confetti emojis you add, the greater your effort and therefore the heartier your wishes. Easy, quick and empty. Not wishing would make you a mean person. Vaguely texting a bunch of emojis would make you a vacuous but sensitive person. Choose.  There are the groups within groups. This is going to look like an analytical reasoning problem in CAT paper, but bear with me. There is a Whatsapp group (group 1) that has A, B, C, D and E. There is another group (group 2) that has just A, B and C. D and E don’t know about this group. Another group (group 3) has A, B, E and F. C and D don’t know about this group. A also talks to D one on one. A talks to everyone within the group and outside too. People need to keep track of the group overlaps when forwarding messages. You don’t want to send what was sent in group 1 to group 2 or group 3 because some of them have already seen it. You need to look up to see which group you’re texting in to make sure you’re not talking about D in the group that has D. Not easy. There are the office...
book review - the ministry of utmost happiness

What are you reading these days?

What are you reading these days, apart from types of plants, festivals of India, common nouns and shapes and patterns? And how exactly did this come about? At exactly which juncture, did you take up the homework portfolio? You were changing diapers. Dad did too at times. You played with him and dad recorded videos of his adorable little tantrums. You fed him. Dad maybe played a rhyme or two. You shopped for his clothes. Dad was browsing his phone. You bought him the cars and guns. Dad played with them. Dad and mom dropped him for his first day of school. You lingered on. Dad didn’t see the point. You waited for him to return from school to pamper the poor little boy. You quizzed him about school, his teacher, his friends. You got nothing. You sat him down and made him write his first letters. Dad felt it was too early. You felt dad wasn’t taking this seriously. You had to take charge. You made him study every day. Dad continued to be nonchalant. You couldn’t. You were being bombarded by other moms’ messages, elaborate discussions on the daily lessons, their kids’ class notes, their drawings, the prizes they were winning and their performances. You couldn’t let your child lag behind. But you aren’t as obsessed either. Study times are getting more arduous. You want help. You turn. Dad is not around. Dad has left long ago. Roles have been set. Once the homework manager, always the homework manager. Precedents are very very important. What are you reading? I won’t be surprised if you don’t remember the last real book you read or if you haven’t completed your last book. There was a time I slept with multiple unfinished books around my pillow as if I feared that I may not finish them if I put them back on my shelves. I didn’t finish them anyway. Things improved a little as Hasini and Yuvi grew a little older. And then Jagan gifted me a kindle. I still didn’t read a book a week. But I scrambled back into reading. I realized that my tastes have changed now. I’ve gravitated away from novels towards memoirs, epics and history. I wanted to share what I’ve been reading these days. I hope you’ll share what you are reading and we could do a reading club kind of thing. Sometimes I am...
Carrot kheer

10 Tips to help plan your next big party | Carrot Kheer recipe

Have you experienced “biryani fatigue” ever? I am in the middle of it now. I don’t want to eat biryani ever.. in the next 2 months. We were about to have a large family get-together of nearly 30 guests. We decided to order biryani and make everything else at home. I’d make carrot kheer, gulab jamun, mangalore ghee chicken roast, mutton kola urundai, rice, rasam, vegetable biryani, mixed vegetable jalferazie and curd rice. We wanted to make sure the biryani was top-notch. So the week leading up to the party we ate biryani daily, taste testing biryanis to decide the best place to order from. If you had seen a woman with a faint masala scent, walking up and down the store with a notebook in one hand and a fully loaded cart, kneeling down here checking the label behind the byadigi chilli pack, going back and adding an extra pack of everything and stopping every shop assistant for help, you should have probably helped her, without judging.   I made estimations and calculated volumes of each dish and worked backwards to calculate volumes of each ingredient I had to buy. I visited the grocery store twice a day during that period. I bought extra ladles, extra-large woks and steel buckets to serve from. I spent the 85 hours of the next 72 hours in the kitchen. I cooked each dish one at a time, slowly, tasting along the way, tweaking, taking a second opinion, fine-tuning again. I erred on the side of caution and made a little too much of everything. And about one-third of them didn’t show up. Nothing serious. In our part of the world, requesting for RSVP is considered rude. However not showing up is perfectly fine. And so I ate biryani the whole week after the party as well. The party menu was our family menu for the entire week after that. This after I dug out all the dabbas I possessed to pack food for my maid, for my parents, for my parent’s cook and for relatives who lived close by. This, my friends is what party hangover feels like. You’ll want to not cook even an omelette, you’ll feel like you’ve released “Bahubali”, you’ll crave a leg massage, you’ll want to eat out, watch a movie, rest for a week and want to go on a holiday alone. I compiled a list of...

8 Cool kitchen tools

I’ll start out online looking for a new wireless mouse but will find my way to the cast iron skillet or the no-drip oil dispenser or the cute milk bottle. I’ll buy the cast iron skillet, vacillate over the oil dispenser and forego the new mouse as a compromise.   I am a kitchen nazi (bajaari in Madras tamil), a hoarder of spoons, a dabba fanatic, a crazy collector of all things vintage and kitchen and a greedy kitchen-tool buyer. I am always on the lookout for that new nifty little tool that’ll peel the sambar onions for me. It is always the sambar onions. In pursuit of that elusive tool, I have amassed easily the largest amount of clutter that my tiny kitchen can hold. But I haven’t yet found the one that’ll peel sambar onions for me. Here’s a list of some of my favourite kitchen tools. My absolute must-haves are my knife and pressure cookers. I’ve not listed the staples here. I am not the one who’ll buy a yogurt maker or bread machine. I am not a fan of super-specialized gadgets. The tools I have listed here are a bit more diverse yet really good at some very specific tasks. Double blade Mincing (rocking) knife – I love to use this to chop up greens and herbs. I bunch up my greens and go over them once with my rocking knife, turn 90 degree and chop again, turn – chop, turn – chop and it’s done. What I really love is that I don’t have to be holding the greens but I can still chop them real fine. You could easily use this knife to chop or mince onions, garlic or nuts too. These knives are extremely sharp. So be extra careful while washing them. Popcorn maker that I never make popcorn in but roast nuts in all the time – I bought this one at an exhibition (its called Smartpop), the kind where there are these stalls that sell vegetable choppers and roti makers and they do such impressive demos, it takes all your will power to not buy them. I bought it for just under 1000 bucks if I remember correctly. You can air fry small vathals, fryums and nuts in them. Jagan likes to roast a big batch of almonds in them. He lets them cool down before transferring them into a jar....

Why Tamils fight for Jallikattu

The next time you take your dog for a walk and he goes bounding up to the neighbourhood aunty don’t yank him by his chain, you cruel moron. You’ll choke him, you’ll hurt him. Reason it out with him. The aunty shouldn’t mind a tiny bite. My mother likes to create a platter everyday for the crows and pigeons that visit our terrace. She keeps aside a portion of the day’s tiffen – idli or dosai or upma, the malai from the day’s milk and few biscuits and sets them up in a plate on the terrace. “Stop feeding them your upma. I am not answering PETA if those crows and pigeons suffer from an upset stomach. You are morally responsible.” As I write this, thousands of my fellow tamils are sitting in Chennai’s Marina beach, Alanganallur, Coimbatore, Salem, all over TamilNadu and across several countries, unrelenting in their demand to revive Jallikattu while national media and newspapers reluctantly turn their gaze on the third day to protests they distantly refer to as “an ancient bull-taming sport”. They conduct panel discussions usually comprising of a couple of socialite women who’ve never walked their dog and have therefore not had to hurt them, a lone passionate Tamil person who they cut short every time he is about to make a point and an advocate or historian to spew facts/laws. The non-Tamil news anchor doesn’t understand why the entire state is up in arms favouring this cruel sport. The rest of the panellists beat up the lone passionate Tamil person from what they perceive as their moral high ground.   This in essence is what the protestors are fighting. It is the fact that people who are far-removed from the state and the sport, who are uncomfortable with the sport, can do away with the sport that was being held for hundreds of years. Just like that. And call tamils “emotional”. If this isn’t fascism I don’t know what is. To decree that everyone should be like them is the most violent form of fascism. I am against any group that calls itself an advocacy group (including PETA). I don’t want anyone advocating anything to me. It’s easy to eliminate an un-organized sport, a farmer’s sport that happens only in villages with no sponsors, teams and bids. “Play cricket, hockey or chess like the rest of us.” One particular animal activist comments...

Jayalalitha, a hero

I was with my grinder, gazing at the rice being ground inside, adding water in little streams now and then, staring out the window while filling up the tumbler, thinking – Jayalalitha may well have never had the opportunity to grind idli batter in her life. I felt at once sad and discontented. There is comfort, warmth and a sense of security in grinding my weekly idli batter, in making the morning coffee, in reading the Sunday newspaper for 2 hours, in buying vegetables at the market, in little routines that make up life. For my dad, it is watering his plants every evening, picking the nithya-malli flowers teetering on a stool, doing his pujai every day. Two days into any vacation, my dad yearns for his hose pipe and step stool. Daily routines, boring rituals that make up domesticity was never to be for Jayalalitha. She says in an interview how she’d have been happy to slip into domesticity, marry, raise kids, take care of a home. “But a happy life is not for everyone.” I went back to that interview of Jayalalitha with Simi Garewal, I had seen several years ago and watched it again. I heard anew, things I did not comprehend then. “Seeing these failed marriages, unhappy marriages, I am happy the way I am – untied, unfettered… ” “Some of my worst critics have been women”    “People cannot bear the fact that a woman is independent, confident, dynamic. They cannot accept it” Truths of life. It wouldn’t have been as mind-blowing if she had got into Harvard, become a CEO or went on a NASA space mission. That she beat them at their own game, with no real backing, in a field that didn’t play by any rules, where women were deified and groped, was a feat. If the odds are stacked against you, if it seems improbable, if no woman has ever done it before, then remember Jayalalitha. What I wouldn’t do to write her biography! She will be a hero to women for generations to come.
almond kheer

Kitchen Bloopers

When Vijay TV has no movie or show for the weekend what do they do? They would play re-runs of their award shows or bloopers from some long-over show. Or they may play “Nanban” or one of Mysskin’s movies. I am going to use the same strategy now since I’ve hardly cooked anything new the last month and a half. I am going to post the not-so-great, work in progress dishes that never saw the light of day on the blog. Not every dish turns out perfect. Not everyone likes every dish. And it is OK. It is ok to fail. It is ok to try things out. There may be some of you who think “Food bloggers can’t go wrong. They’re experts. I can’t try this recipe. It is too difficult/complicated/time-consuming/kids, husband, maamiyaar will not like it.” – Not true. You can never please everyone at the same time. And some of them, you can never please any time. You’ll never know if you don’t try. So just go ahead and give it a shot. On the other hand there may be some of you who think – “Food bloggers are vain, over-achieving braggart bitches.” – Hmm, Well, that’s not totally true. Either way, I just want to let you guys know that food bloggers make mistakes too. I am sharing here some of my not-so-great attempts here. I hope it encourages you to go into the kitchen and try out that cake you always wanted to bake for your kid, the Adhirasam that your paati made when you were a child and you’ve not found courage to try or that garlic pickle you don’t find on store shelves anymore. Classy rum cake turned drunkard Cake The idea was to make a light boozy rum cake for Jagan for his birthday. Jagan being a booze connoisseur would be pleasantly surprised by the wonderfully subtle rum undertones. That was the plan. But I wanted to make sure the rum flavour was not too feeble to be discerned. So I upped the rum measure. I must have used a cup and half of rum for the cake. Jagan later tells me that is “3 large”. The cake turned out moist, fine crumbed even and smacked of alcohol. I served the cake to my Maamiyaar without looking her in the eye, mumbling that it is a “plain mmm cake. No it is...

Summer plans

The heat is on in Chennai. I am feeling thirsty all day, every day. I am craving tall glasses of chilled fruit juices but I don’t want to pick out seeds, strain the pulp and wash all these dishes for a single glass of juice. I will also complain that juice shops charge exorbitant rates for a single glass of juice. And I just can’t seem to resist Watermelon juice and Jagan beer. Don’t worry. This is not a recipe post for Watermelon juice. It is not a recipe post because Vitamix, Hamilton and Kitchenaid and even Preethi mixie said they don’t want to sponsor this post. And I trust you my readers to chop up the watermelon, discard the green pith and blend the chopped watermelon to a juice. Promise me you won’t go wrong. Also since many of you told me you look forward to my stories more than my recipes, I decided to skip the watermelon juice recipe this time. I have big plans and bigger dilemmas come summer. I have a long list of vadams and pickles that I plan to make on my weekend dates with mambalam maami friends that I need someone to organize for me. I try to get out of calling people. I am not social enough. Before that I need to go shopping for the maa vadus (tiny tender mangoes) and ingredients. I need to make lists. Every time I look at the lovely low hanging mangoes in our terrace, I remind myself I need to go buy some maa vadu. I have two Hattori/Motu Patlu binge watchers at home that I need to keep from scraping their already battered knees doing cycle races through their very own dirt track over the siphon, into the puddle and through the mud track between the road and the pavement. I need to keep them away from the TV, away from all the smartphones in the house; pins and passcodes of all of which they have memorized. I need to keep them from razing all the crayons down to wax powder, from drawing on the newly painted walls, from raiding the cookie boxes and feeding the extras to crows, from drenching themselves under the garden tap, from bringing the garden into the house, from cooking their leaves and dirt curry in my non-stick kadai, from coating the living room floor in biscuit crumbs, sticky...

Chennai – Namme ooru pole varuma!

The frogs are getting too loud. I eye the long handled mop I’ve kept near the door to make sure I know exactly where it is when I need to grab it and clobber the snake that I’d seen earlier in the night slithering through the water outside our gate pausing to turn and wolf down a frog before gliding under my car parked outside, if it decides to return. I am terribly fortunate. I have electricity and internet, my phone is charged, I have clean drinking water and food and the frogs and snakes are still OUTSIDE my home. I am thankful. And I am terribly proud of this city and its people. Rains will no longer conjure up images of hot bajjis and pakodas, long drives or rain songs on radio. It will be a long time before rains would be #romantic or #awesome. Over the last couple of weeks, Chennai, the rain loving little city has seen nothing but rains, unrelenting rains that have battered the city, wrecked the roads, filled up canals, reservoirs, broken walls and flooded roads and houses. We never expected it would come to this. We never thought we’d have to travel by boats on our roads. We never thought we’d go without power for days together, unable to reach family and friends, that we’d need relief, that we’d be marking ourselves safe on facebook. These were things that happened to far off lands, never to Chennai. So we thought. We have seen nothing like this ever before. But these rains have brought to the fore this strange, most beautiful thing. I am getting all choked up. I am shocked and choked. People have been cooking extra meals for strangers, venturing out on to water logged roads driving over to donate things, passing on important and useful information on social media, connecting people through, welcoming people into their homes and caring for each other.     We have seen nothing like this ever before. I always had a strong unexplainable gravitation to my city. I had to always come back. This was my land. My gravitation has only got stronger. I am pretty sure it’ll take more than these floods to make me or any of my fellow Chennaivasis budge from this city. I can hear my sister say “When you have power, internet and TV, you bloody well won’t feel like moving your fat...

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