BE TRUTHFUL WHEN YOU CLICK

GET READY FOR THE NEXT EXAMINATION, ONCE YOU ARE DONE WITH ONE

I started to feel sick from the very first day of February this year. I felt, because I have accumulated a lot of hair on my head, I am feeling sick. So, on 2nd of February I went for a haircut. To save all my warm clothes from sick, wasted hair I went out with just a shirt. The climate was pretty weird during that time. I had a good haircut and I came back feeling lighter. I took a bath and had my lunch. In the evening, I started to cough. I had a paracetamol after I called my both doc brothers. I kept delaying for next two weeks, suffering with relentless coughing and fever. When it is out of my hands, (which was never in my hand from the beginning though) I went to the OPD, to see an able doctor. She asked me to get a chest X-Ray done. I followed her instruction. And after she saw the X-Ray, she asked me to get admitted right away. We were not ready and this admission was quite unexpected.

Life, is a word which is very vast in itself. The moment this life instills in a baby, it faces many challenges around it. And its struggles start from the day one though the degree of challenges increase gradually according to the growth of the baby.

When God created everything and given us life, He allowed us a freewill. And that freewill became the greatest challenge of all time for each and every human living on this earth.

How? Let me explain…

  • When something is served in front of us to eat, we ask ourselves, “Is it good for the health?
  • When someone asks us to do a certain task, we ask, “Is it right to help that certain person?” Or “Is the help someone asked lawful?
  • When we are on the verge of deciding on our career choice, we ask, “Is the career I choose morally alright?” Or “Will this career take me in the right direction?
  • When we are about to choose a life partner, we ask ourselves, “Will this girl be alright for me?” Or “Is she be compatible to me?” Or “Does this boy accept me as I am?” Or “Is the boy a drunkard or will he be faithful?
  • When there’s something that we are addicted to, we ask, “How long should I be struggling?” Or “Should I be leaving it for good or keep it moderately without affecting anything around me?
  • When we sit in front of the TV, we asked, “Is it okay to watch this movie?

The list of such instances can go on and on…

The recent experience that I went through which I described above, in the beginning of this article clearly talks about how I let my freewill be at its will and I suffered until I allow someone else to decide on my behalf to deal with my sick body.

At every step of our life, we had things to decide. And these decision-making questions that we ask at every step of our life are unending. Our freewill is challenged and put to test every now and then. Trust me, it is a struggle, because sometimes I wonder how it would be when I would be allowed to do whatever I just feel like instead of considering what is right and what is wrong. That was my sinful human tendency that is crying out to break free or freak out.

Life is indeed an examination. We literally, appear for exams once we are done with one.

Be ready to counter the challenges our freewill face, all the time.

Stay Blessed!

GO GUILT-FREE

Have you ever seen a child or a person stammering when he or she lied or done something wrong? When they walk, they look here and there… They speak with their eyes looking at the ground… They avoid other’s questions or interrogation…

It is our conscience that makes us feel like that. Our conscience is the only thing that speaks to us when we are all alone. It is a gift from God. A clear CONSCIENCE is a true friend which always speaks the truth and shows the things that are good and bad. When we are at fault, our guilt conscience makes us struggle to face people. As our guilt consciousness creates a barrier between us with the people around us. Guilt doesn’t allow us to live or walk or speak freely or at liberty. It binds us with a guilty feeling. It takes away our independence. It captivates our mind and soul.

But it is important for all of us to understand our guilt, because it can build us as well as can ruin us completely.

True guilt always leads us to true repentance. True repentance leads us to confessing of our misdeeds or sin and which ultimately leads to forgiveness and restoration… Restoration from being guilty, from a strained relationship and restored to have a clean conscience.

But there is something called false guilt according to June Hunt, one of my favourite personalities among all, who is an author, counsellor and the founder of ‘Hope for the Heart’ organisation that has been helping numerous people in desperation.

She warns about a few false guilt feelings which should not be within our hearts troubling us till the end…

She warns –

  • False Guilt is based on self-condemning feelings that you have not lived up to your own expectations or those of someone else.
  • False Guilt arises when you blame yourself, even though you’ve committed no wrong, or even though you’ve confessed and turned from your sin.
  • False Guilt keeps you in bondage to three destructive weapons – shame, fear, and anger.
  • False Guilt, ironically, is not resolved by confession. (The past keeps coming up again and again) 

False guilt can lead a person to depression and spiritual paralysis. False guilt tends to be very “me-centered,” rather than God-centered. And it makes the person feel that God has left him or her.

Now, this is alarming and false guilt consciousness can be fatal. But in my opinion whether is true or false guilt it should be dealt carefully and needed to be given up at once or else it will literally torment the person day and night and ruin his or her life.

It is not very easy to get rid of guilts. It stays like, forever…

Usually, when I struggle with guilt, a true guilt and I have the realisation that I have wronged a person, I search for opportunity to ask forgiveness from him and restore my relationship with him or her and go guilt free. Trust me, you need guts to ask forgiveness. It is good that we have plenty of options to say sorry these days. Previously, we had only two options – face the person or write a note. But these days, we have Whatsapp, email, messenger and many more options to ask forgiveness genuinely. But nothing can replace the joy of restoration when we are in persons.

Many a times, I have struggled with false guilt, feeling responsible of something which was not in my control. There was a sister like friend who committed suicide and I felt guilty of not paying attention to her when she wanted to share her heart. For quite a long time, I was troubled but later I shifted that guilt into a responsibility or task in hand to train myself well to be sensitive to the needs of people. And I succeeded in my endeavour by God’s grace.

You heard it right, God’s grace is the best cure to our guilt. Once our vertical relationship is smooth and free flowing, our horizontal relationships become alright automatically.

Lastly, if we really want to go guilt-free or lead a guilt free life then we should follow the instruction given as under:

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things; center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart.”

Let’s take responsibility of living with a renewed mind and conscience by focussing on things of higher values, following which are good and live a transformed and guilt-free life.

Stay Blessed!

SPONGY AND SOFT COTTON LIKE BALLS – THE YUMMY ROSHOGOLLAS

From when I was a teenage girl, I had a keen interest in roshogollas. I am not a Bengali or had Bengali friends, then how do I know about roshogollas? The sweet shops in our hometown had a special section for Bengali sweets. Not all the sweet shops but the famous ones did. I believe most of the Bengali sweets are made from milk. Amongst those sweets, there was a large white ball floating in sugar syrup. It is interesting and intriguing at the same time. I have seen something similar, but a brown ball, yeah,, the Gulab Jamun. I inquired the shopkeeper for the price one day, and I realized I cannot afford to buy one. In our home we don’t buy or order sweets from outside, so I cannot ask my parents to buy it for me. That was a deadlock. I wonder how many times I would have stopped by the sweet shop only to see those roshogollas.

I love the spongy Bengali Rosogolla, though Oriya people also have their own version of it. There is quite a bit of technique and science involved in making those airy sponge balls that swell up in sugar syrup like balls of cotton. There is a certain amount of joy to squeeze some of the sugar syrup out, holding with two fingers and simultaneously checking out the sponginess of each Rosogolla before popping them into the mouth! These days, foodies have come up with hundreds of different flavors of Rosogolla made of fruit and vegetable flavors, and I learned that some of the flavors are mind-blowing. They also lose their quintessential white color when mixed with other flavors. However, nothing can beat the classic Rosogolla. For Bengalis, it is pure happiness.

As I grew up and started working, I could have lunch at the office. Typical south or north Indian thali it was for me until one day I saw roshogolla being served as sweet in one of those thalis. My mouth was salivating at the glance of that bowl of sweet in the display, and I couldn’t wait to keep it in my mouth. Ah, my first roshogolla tasting. It was yummy!!! I had roshogollas many times only in the office. Another time I saw a roshogolla that was too big, of almost 10 cms in diameter during pujo, and I wondered how they would have made it. I came home and started browsing for videos of roshogolla making. You see, that is called craving. I wanted to try making roshogollas. Made them, fed some others with my experiments. The process is a little tricky is what I thought at first, but I am a reasonably good cook with few failures. All you need are only three ingredients to make roshogollas and one flavoring agent. Traditionally cardamom is used as a flavoring, but you may choose to use any other artificial flavoring. I don’t use any flavoring, as I love the flavor of milk itself. 

Ingredients:

Milk – 2L (Cow or buffalo milk. I tried using both, and they were fine)

Vinegar – 2-3 tsp as needed 

Sugar – 4 cups

There are two essential parts of making roshogollas. Making the chenna balls and boiling them in sugar syrup.

Making the chenna balls:

  1. To make the chenna, boil the milk. Once the milk comes to a boil, simmer the flame and add vinegar little by little (Note: you can use lemon juice or citric acid as well) Keep stirring with ladle slowly. The milk starts to curdle. After 5 mins, you can remove the vessel off the flame and strain the liquid using a muslin cloth. 
  2. Add cold water to the milk solids. These milk solids are called chenna. Wash the chenna 3 -4 times under running tap water, tie the muslin cloth, and hang the chenna for 3 hours. After three hours, you would notice that the water in the chenna is drained, but it would still be moist.
  3. Take the chenna in a smooth plate to start kneading. Use the palm of your hand for kneading. Do not mix it like a dough. Remember, you should do this step at least for 10 mins. By the end of 10 mins, the chenna would become smooth to form a like a dough.  (Tip: Some people also add 2 -3 spoons of maida(refined flour) while kneading the chenna, this helps the roshogollas to maintain their shape. This makes life easy if you are doubtful of roshogollas holding their shape. I never used maida, but mine turned out just fine)
  4. Make small rounds of this dough. The balls are going to enlarge more than double their size once you cook them in sugar syrup. So, considering this keep the size appropriate. 

Boiling in sugar syrup:

I normally use a 1:6 ratio of sugar and water. I am not a sweet tooth person, but if you love sweets, you can go up to 1:3. 

  1. Add the sugar and water to a container. Ensure the container has enough space for the balls to swell and move around easily. Bring the sugar and water mixture to a boil and reduce the flame to medium. 
  2. Remove the scum, if any, from the surface of the syrup. (If you are using flavoring, add it now to the syrup)
  3. Gently add the chenna balls to the sugary syrup. Keep it on a high flame for the first 15 min. Then lower the flame to medium for the next 25 min.
  4. Cover with a lid (preferably a glass one so you could see). Note: Lid must be on all the time except for when adding water as in the next step
  5. Once in awhile sprinkle some water and roll the roshogollas with a ladle. Remember to be quick but gentle not to break the balls. Roshogollas don’t like change in temperature, so if you keep the lid off a long time, there is a higher chance for them not to have proper texture. Do this 3 -4 times in the whole course.
  6. After  40 mins on a medium flame, you would notice that the roshogollas double in their size.

The roshogollas are ready!!! After they cool down, you can enjoy them. I bet you cannot stop at one 😀 

I have made them 4-5 times till now and always in 2-liter batches, which produce around 40 roshogollas. You can store them in the refrigerator for up to a week. A couple of Bengalis tasted my roshogollas and found them to be similar to the ones they make back home. I recently tasted the authentic roshogolla made in Bengal, the last December I think, and yes, mine are really very close. I hope you also enjoy making these delicious spongy balls at home. 

 

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MY LOVE FOOD

Food. The ultimate object required for the sustenance of life. It’s like the sun. All things revolve around it, it keeps all the organs healthy and provide energy for their functions and it should be taken hot. I never thought that I would marry a foodie and would cook his favourite foods and have an inclination towards food. Food was never a priority for me, rather I used to eat anything and at anytime. I used to skip breakfast and lunch when I was studying. It affected me adversely. During engineering, when I was hungry I used to either go have panipuri or make Maggie n cold coffee in our kettle. Maggie n cold coffee have had been a constant since. These were my go to foods. But the food that has always been in my heart n mind is the typical odia cuisine that consists of harada dal (toor dal), macha bhaja (fish masala fry) and alu bharta (mashed potatoes odia style).
For Dal:
Ingredients:
1/2 cup toor dal
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
5-6 curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon panch foran (five spice blend)
1/2 teaspoon Tamarind paste or 1 dried raw mango
1/2 teaspoon haldi powder
Salt according to taste
2 dried red chillies
1 tablespoon refined oil
Steps:
Pressure cook the toor dal along with some salt, haldi powder, 1 garlic clove cut n pressed and the dreied raw mango (if available) for 10-15 minutes. You can cook it on high for the first 5 minutes and then lower the heat for the rest.
While the dal cooks, cut onion into thin long slices. Heat a pan, put some refined oiland let it heat. Put some panch foran. While it sizzles add the remaining garlic clove which is cut into very small pieces, then add the onion. Let it turn golden then add the red chilles and curry leaves. Once they are fried a little, add the dal to it. Add soem more water if required.
Taste the dal, if u feel like the dal could be a little more tangy, add some tamarind paste. Simmer the dal for 5 minutes. Put off heat. The dal is ready.
For fish fry:
Ingredients:
4-5 pieces of fish
2 onions
4-5 cloves of garlic
1/2 tomato (optional)
1 green chilli (optional)
1 teaspoon haldi
2teaspoons chilli powder (u can use Kashmiri Lal)
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon sugar**
** Sugar is added for flavour and colour. We add salt in proportion to sugar so that the fish fry doesn’t tastes sweet.
Masala:
Grind the onion along with the garlic. If you want a little tangy taste add tomato or skip. If you want it little hot then add the chilli. Grind it into a smooth paste.
In a frying pan, put refined oil and let it heat. Add the masala once the oil is hot. Add haldi, chilli powder, salt and sugar n mix. Cook till oil separates from the masala.
Shallow fry the fish in a separate pan, till it’s soft n cooked. Add the fish to the masala. Add little water to it and cook. Cook till the fish is well fried from both sides and the masala sticks to the fish. Similarly, this masala can be used for prawn fry and boiled egg fry (halfed eggs) too.
The potatoes:
3 large potatoes
1 medium onion cut into thin slices
2 dry red chillies
Salt to taste
Method:
Boil the potatoes till they are cooked through.
In a pan, take some refined oil and let it heat. Put the red chillies and fry till it changes the color. Take it out n put it aside. Then add onion to the pan and fry till golden brown. While the onions are being fried, mash the potatoes and the chillies together. Add some salt to it. After the onions are golden brown in color add the potatoes to the pan and mix. Fry for a minute or two and then out off the heat.
The food is ready. Have these with hot rice and some fried papads. I hope you will love these as much as I do. Some foods leave such an impact that no matter where you go and no matter how many different cuisines you try, you will come back to them and be satisfied. Am I that impacting? Does people get attracted to me for my goodness? I think we all can ponder about it.
This above food is my love food. This valentines day I am indeed having it and loving it 😍

BAKE SOMEONE HAPPY

Tell me one thing.  Why can’t we summon the God sent Jinee 🡪 Swiggy or Zomato  every single day?

 Why is it heavy on the stomach and the pocket?

According to me the best part of a vacation is that we can just pick up the phone and order food. Room Delivery is the magic word. But vacations are few and far between and alas they don’t last forever.

So even people like me who are allergic to kitchen have to enter the kitchen and produce something edible on the plate every day. 

And to top it all I am a mother of two teenage boys who are perpetually hungry. Every time they want something tasty and stomach filling and I want it to be healthy as well. So the pressure on me is very heavy. 

Few years back on my insistence we bought a microwave oven. Even thought I had no plans to use it more than a reheating device I decided to buy the best model with the convection and grill options. The convection mode meant I could use it for baking as well.

My hubby was joking that this will be another piece of machinery which would just look beautiful on my kitchen cabinet but would be hardly used. Now this hit my ego and I decided to be a world class baker just to prove him wrong. 

So to cut the long story short I tried many cake recipes. After a few failed attempts I stumbled upon a recipe for making muffins. And my dream of becoming a famous chef became partially true. This fail safe recipe has helped me out on many a kids get-together, picnics etc. And  I have been able to impress my friends also with these muffins. I have shared this recipe with many so dear friends I will share it with you also here. Hope it works out well for you too.

Basically mix all the wet ingredients and dry ingredients in separate bowls.

Dry: Mix 2 cups of all purpose flour (Maida), 3/4 cup of cocoa powder, 1 tea spoon of baking powder, 1 cup granulated sugar and half a spoon of salt in one bowl.

Wet: Whisk 1 & 1/4 cup of milk, 2 table spoon of melted butter, 1/3 cup of vegetable oil, little vanilla extract and two beaten eggs together.

Mix both the wet and dry ingredients for not more than 10 seconds. The batter should be lumpy. Remember 🡪 Don’t over mix it as it will lead to hard misshapen muffins. As soon as the wet and dry ingredients are mixed together, the liquid will activate the baking powder and the batter will have to be baked right away.

Take out cutely shaped silicon muffin moulds, grease it and spoon the batter into the mould. Make sure to fill it only three fourths. Sprinkle some chocolate chips on it and put it in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes and bake it at 180 degrees.

Now just sit and watch the oven work its magic. Watch the muffins rise in their mould. And after 15 minutes take it out and de-mould it.

now enjoy the yummylicious muffins. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Maybe this will be the stepping stone for you to go on and become a world class baker…

COOKING! – YAH, IT’S TOUGH TO DO!

My relationship with cooking can be well-explained from the humorous stand-point of our most trending tagline – “MEN WILL BE MEN”. 😊 Yes, like most of the men, I usually don’t like to cook and to be honest that predisposition still exists in a sleepy mode. Since childhood my relationship with kitchen is – kitchen means to grab food! As a matter of fact, my presence in the kitchen is always an indication to Mom that, I’m hungry! Furthermore, at home taking used plates from the dining table to the wash bin feels like carrying a bag of stones for miles. Whereas, one of the prime demands of my professional life is “I have to stay away from home”. Since 2010, hardly have I stayed a full-month at home. Presuming my professional life my mom used to advise me “to learn cooking” since I was pursing university studies. As I said, “Men will be Men”, my simple response to mom was – “Are you out of your mind? Think about the restaurants, how they will survive if people like me started cooking! Hail Restaurants!” 😊 Even with this idea I survived a year, when I moved alone to Kolkata at the beginning of 2016. I always quote myself that I’m an Englishman by Breakfast, Bengali by Lunch and now Odia by Dinner. During 2016, my permanent breakfast was Bread-Jam, Kellogg’s, Muffins/Banana, Boiled Egg, Coffee and at times Tropicana and the dinner was – Chappati and Egg tadka. 

Honestly, one of the good teachers in our Bachelor Men’s life is “After 15th, it hurts the pocket”. With the dawn of 2017, I realized that it was high-time to learn cooking. Co-incidentally, while I was returning from Christmas vacation my uncle gifted me a Pressure cooker on my birthday. Lo and behold, I kickstarted the journey of cooking and initially (almost the first couple of weeks) over-boiled rice was always on the dinner plate. The first week taught me, it is always too painful to waste food when you have cooked it. So, sweet pickle and good curry from the nearest restaurant made my over-boiled rice eatable. Gradually, I learned cooking a few more curries. Though I have prepared only a couple of times, but I really enjoyed cooking “Masala Prawn”. It wasn’t of Chef’s level but yea far-far better than some homely preparation. 

It was Saturday morning; I went to the market and saw very good prawns out there. Unable to control my foodie gluttony I bought some prawns. Since I don’t know how to clean them, I had to pay extra bucks to the vendor. Again, after cleaning them with fresh water, I marinated them with salt and turmeric. After sometime I deep fried with refined oil. Then separately fried onion, added salt, turmeric, coriander powder, red chilly powder and fried for a few minutes. Added ginger-garlic paste, tomato sauce, soya sauce and cooked it with fish masala for a few more minutes. Then added the fried prawns to the masala and with little water at a low fire cooked it for a few minutes. Then while removing the Masala prawn to the container, I added some fresh coriander leaves. It was one of the good Saturday lunches which I enjoyed all alone – no sharing, all mine. 😊 

Fun apart, to the reader’s vantage point, let me quote the well-known American author Zig Ziglar – “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”

Life, through its big and small challenges invites us to learn and kick the journey to do grow better both in the eyes of the LORD God and human beings. Eating over-boiled rice to enjoying Masala Prawn took 2 hard years for the “Men will be Men” thinker. While feeling bad to waste even the over-boiled rice and gulping it with the help of pickle, perseverance was the virtue in distress.

The Bible says,

“Let perseverance finish its work
so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything”.

Waiting and persevering to mature in the art of cooking too!!