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Almond flour gluten-free Vegan cup cakes

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This is a quick recipe that requires very few ingredients . It is loaded with vitamin E and is perfect for gluten free and vegan diets. This recipe also does not require any oil or butter as almonds have enough natural grease to make the cupcakes soft and moist. Honey replaces sugar to make it even more healthier.

COOKING TIME- 20-25 minutes

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups blanched almond flour
3 eggs
1 ripe banana
3 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup berries (whatever you like)

STEPS
1. Mix whisked eggs, honey and mashed banana together with vanilla essence.
2. Add baking powder and salt to the almond flour..
3. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together along with berries.
4. Spoon the mixture into cupcake moulds and bake for 15-20 minutes on 180C in a preheated oven on the middle rack or until brown.

HANDY TIPS:
1. You can choose to put any fresh berries to your liking. I use strawberries, blueberries or raspberries alternatively or together sometimes. You can also use thawed frozen berries by removing their excess water.
2. If you do not find almond flour in the market, grind almonds at home, this will give you unblanched flour which maybe a little darker in colour.

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Will the compassion last beyond COVID-19?

My thoughts today-
COVID-19 has taken over the world stage. As infections rise to an alarming number of 1.6 million globally, and with the whole or most of the world locked down, I am feeling compelled to share some thoughts that have been troubling me for the last few days. While it is encouraging to see that the whole world is coming together to combat this challenging fight against this extraordinary virus that does not differentiate between rich and poor, urban or rural, powerful or weak, Prime Ministers or clerks, I wonder why is this difficult time so different than other difficult times and tragedies that the world has seen and is going through as we speak? Why is everybody so in sync and collected this time?

Isn’t it just because it has now been proven that this pandemic affects the affluent, the powerful, the middle class, anybody and everybody alike so the world is taking note of it because we want to save our own precious lives?

What I find strange is how we have rarely given a thought or paid attention to the 1.5 million people from low-income and marginalized populations that die every year due to Tuberculosis. Or that about 3 million people do not even get the treatment for this ailment at all. This is because unlike COVID-19, TB is predominantly a poor man’s disease that breeds due to unhygienic and impoverished living conditions. It is contagious, but it does not affect affluent people as they are not exposed to those living conditions. I wonder if any of today’s self-sufficient souls, with well-stocked kitchens, secure homes, working-from-home status and maintaining social distancing have ever felt or done anything for these 1.5 million dying each year? They are just numbers, merely statistics for all. On the contrary, as COVID-19 kills rich and poor alike, the whole world seems be together in its fight.

I wish that this wave of compassion and empathy that has now suddenly but pleasantly emerged in the world stays for times to come, and that some attention is given to the eternally existing humanitarian catastrophes that continue to affect the world population. As an example, there are more than 71 million refugees around the world, some in camps, some in very dangerous conditions. There are people dying in hundreds of thousands due to HIV and malaria and much more. In India itself, there are now 5 million internally displaced migrants in isolation camps getting barely enough to eat, no money at hand, nowhere to go. All this due to incredibly harsh measures against the poor to enforce the lockdown. Wish it was handled better with some empathy.

People that are in their comfort zones are able to follow the precautions to prevent spread of this virus, but they often very comfortably look at the underprivileged with disdain for furthering its spread. Unfortunately, it’s not that people stuck in deprived conditions aren’t serious or sane, or do not love their lives or of their loved ones, or are not sensible human beings, or want to expose others to the deadly virus. They are simply unfortunate. We cannot blame them for prioritizing their day-to-day survival over the spread of the pandemic. We have to be sensitive to their conditions, their psychology and their limitations when it comes to blaming them. We need to push for a collective action to create conditions that enable them to take the measures necessary to contain the spread.

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Daily crunchy Guacamole

Living in Kenya is a blessing when it comes to availability of fresh vegetables and flowers . It is such a delight to have avocados in abundance and pay less than 40 cents for a big one. Getting raw avocados , tracking them each day as they ripe, move them into the refrigerator and then savour them every morning at breakfast time is kind of a ritual for us now. Here is a simple recipe for a crunchy guacamole that I make every day. I like broccoli and green pepper finely chopped to get the crunch and fresh feel. You could replace these with spring onions or regular onion or with any other raw crunchy vegetable you fancy. I add a bit of lemon juice, coriander leaves, hot green chillies too. A bit of salt and a pinch of all spice (गरम मसाला) makes it yummy!

 

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While at home..what to do?

So many lives have been lost and disrupted by the deadly corona virus all over the world. My heart goes out to the families and friends of those who have lost their loved ones. As the situation continues to escalate, we must try to stay safe and not expose ourselves and others to risk of catching the virus. So stay at home please!
I have been reflecting on the “side effects” of the social distancing being practiced across the world: people are working from home with nowhere to go, no pubs, no bars, no restaurants, no cinema , no theatre and no socializing. WOW ! That is big!
To add to this, fewer flights , fewer cars on the road , less industrial pollution – perhaps Mother Earth is healing.
I wanted to write this post to offer some suggestions to people who are not used to being at home all the time and are in a dilemma about how to stay productive. If you are not used to it, it can be challenging to stay disciplined enough to be productive. However, this situation also could present a great opportunity to do those things that we never otherwise get the time for.
As for us, it is good to see Manoj at home now, though he is working most of the time with his conference calls and desktop big screen installed on the dining table. But it’s good to see him around all day and I try to make the most of the time that we get together at doing things for which Manoj never had the time or gave any attention to, like looking at family videos and pictures.
This is coming from my experience of being at home for the past few years. After you are through with Netflix and other binge watching, you might need something else to do.
Here is what you can try:
1. Dig out old home videos and watch them with the family – they could even be running in the background while you work or take a break from work at home.
2. Cast pictures on your phone on the TV screen. Trust me, you will enjoy it. Your family and any companion at home may have never seen these pictures ever.
3. Find out where all the board games are hiding in the house. I can assure you, this will be the quality time with the family that you have not had in last many months.
4. Think of what you always want to do if you were not working full time or having to go for work each day. Do it now.
5. Try your hands at things you have never done, maybe cooking , some Arts and crafts, abstract painting, gardening at home, growing plants in water or jars or make some lamps out of used wine bottles. Pinterest actually has lots of great ideas. I am sure you will find something very interesting for you to do and you will be proud of yourself when you make something out of nothing.
6. Read the books you never got time to read.
Remember this opportunity of being at home with the family with nowhere to go may not ever come back again (not that it should come back, at least not in this kind of medical scare situation), so make the most of it.
Bonding does need some time and undivided attention for all.
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Photo Culture..3

Continuing from my earlier posts on photo culture, I have to say that recently I have been taken aback by the undying love for perfect pictures at family events and celebrations. You would think that the most important purpose of these events would be to ensure everyone savours the moments, ceremonies and rituals. I have been both amused and annoyed at times when it seems that the primary privilege of doing so has been bestowed on several teams of professional photographers who get the best access and view. Not only this, they often have to push back the invited guests to ensure pictures are perfect.
I wonder what happens with these professional photos taken at private events. And to what end? I have witnessed first-hand that by the time the pictures are printed and ready to be shared, the intended audience is lost. I think the majority of those pictures/recordings are only seen a few times later likely by close family members who are privy to that professionally created memory. At some events like this, it seems like invited distinguished guests and family members are secondary guests and the photographers are the most important and primary ones.

Considering that it is important to create memories of the event in pictures and save them for future.. I feel instead of paying big money to these photographers with big bodies and big equipment blocking our view, there could be a couple of tech savvy family members taking pictures or a drone camera that does the job without making guests feel secondary, even though at the cost of not having some perfect pictures.

What do you think? Have your experienced something like this?

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The Sindhi Karhi

GLUTEN FREE
I usually make this karhi when I have varied veggies in small quantities in my fridge that I want to finish off: and also when I have lots of guests to entertain and I need to make something easy and delicious but in large quantities. A variety of vegetables in this recipe adds to the quantity and also makes it more flavourful.
IMG_6522

SERVES: 6-8

Why this recipe? How is it green? How am I contributing to making this earth green by following four steps or less recipes?

In an effort to continue to promote use of energy and time saving tools and gadgets, using pressure cooker for this recipe will take about 5 minutes to make the vegetables tender whereas it will take 20-30 minutes in a regular pan. The conventional recipe requires vegetables to be fried to make them tender and then put in the karhi. This alternative will have high trans fat content, 

You save: 70% to 80% of fuel energy and 15 to 20 minutes of your precious time that is about 10 to 15% of the total time you spend in the kitchen on an average(assuming you spend a total of 2-3 hours in a day in the kitchen).

COOKING TIME- 20-25 minutes
INGREDIENTS:
2 Tablespoon besan (chickpea flour)
1 Litre water
1 Tablespoon cooking oil
2 Teaspoons fenugreek seeds (Methi seeds)
2 Teaspoons cumin seeds (Jeera)
4 Whole dried red chillies (i like using rounds more than the long ones)
1 Tablespoon turmeric powder (Haldi)
1/2 Tablespoon red chilli powder
50 gms of tamarind pulp (without seeds) after soaking in water
1 Kilo assorted vegetables cut into 2 inch dices (I use all veggies that are available in my fridge like Okra (bhindi), egg plant, zucchini, beans, any kind of guard, cauliflower, lotus stem, potatoes, broccoli, carrots).
Salt to taste ( approximately 4 teaspoons)
STEPS
1. Heat oil in the pressure cooker, add fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds and whole red chillies, once flavour is released, add chickpea flour and sauté it for 2-3 minutes
2. Add water, cut vegetables, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt. Close the lid of the pressure cooker and let it get one whistle or 5 minutes until pressure is built in the cooker. (just enough to get the vegetables tender, this is to save time)
3. Open the lid after the pressure is released, add tamarind pulp and let the karhi boil for 10-12 minutes .. And it is ready…
HANDY TIPS:
1. Keep the karhi on low heat even when it is being served.. The more it boils, more flavours are released of different vegetables, it continues to get more delicious.
2. Sindhi Karhi typically is served first as a stew or soup, and in the main meal with rice and sweet boondi (chickpea flour droplets fried and then dipped in sugar syrup, see picture above)
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No hassle-No sugar-Easiest Gajar Halwa

GLUTEN FREE- SUGAR FREE

Why this recipe? How is it green? How am I contributing to making this earth green by following four steps or less recipes?

Easy to make, gluten free and sugar free classic indian dessert made in less than half the time of usual conventional recipe. Saving time and energy thereby reducing the carbon footprint on our precious planet. 

 

gajar halwa 1
SERVES- 6
COOKING TIME- 30-45 minutes
 
INGREDIENTS:
1 kilogram carrots grated
1 litre fresh Milk (full cream optional)
½ tablespoon Ghee
2 green cardamoms
10-15 pitted dates(about 100 grams) cut in small pieces
15-20 almonds cut in slices (about 25 grams) (optional)
15-20 cashews halves (about 25 grans) (optional)
20-25 raisins (about 25 grams) (optional)
10 strands of saffron beaten on a cutting board or pastel (optional)
 
STEPS
1. Put ghee in the pan and add cardamoms after cracking them open so that the flavour is released.
2. After a minute or so add grated carrots and sauté them for 3-5 minutes until the colour changes to little dark (excess moisture will evaporate during this process).
3. Add milk and place the heat on low after the milk starts to boil. Let it simmer for 20-25 minutes. Keep stirring at intervals of 3-4 minutes. You will notice carrots cooking, absorbing milk, becoming more tender and getting cooked in milk.
4. Add cut dates , saffron and nuts and let it cook for another 10-12 minutes until all milk is absorbed and the milk dries out.. surface f the pan will greasy now without traces of water/milk…and it is ready to serve..
 
HANDY TIPS:
1. If you leave the heat on low all through the process you don’t need to stir as often.
2. I usually use low fat milk, you could use full cream milk to make it more creamy and rich.
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Photo Culture..2

As I mentioned in my earlier post, there are many changes happening in the world that I am just not able to fully grasp. Continuing on the trend of talking about photos, I wanted to share some thoughts and see whether my friends can share their experiences to help me learn more on this topic.

In today’s maddening photo culture, life seems to revolve around the camera. If you wear something nice, eat something good, go to a beautiful place, meet friends, celebrate an occasion or simply go to work, the first instinct is often to take a picture.

It commonly seems that if you go somewhere or do something without taking a picture, you have not been there or have not done it.

This and the innumerable selfies that people take worries me that this is a sign that society is moving towards more self-centredness.

I wonder — what are the unintended consequences of this phenomenon?

We have taken many technologies for granted without fully understanding their broader social impacts. In this case too, I fear that the easy access to taking countless photos, and the way this is promoted in the media and popular culture, is leading to society falling prey to the natural human tendency of narcissism, in some cases perhaps even bordering on a diagnosis of NPD (Narcissist Personality Disorder).

What do you think?

Do you think our photo culture enables/promotes narcissism?

Is this a problem? If so, how can we solve it?

 

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Photo Culture..1

Continuing on with my musings, I wanted to share my thoughts on a subject that is very close to my heart: the changing trends in photo culture. I often think about photos because I enjoy taking lots of photos myself, especially of special moments with family.

I think one of the most dramatic changes to our society has happened because of the advances in technology that allow billions of photographers to use their smartphones to take trillions of photos every day.

Photos were once precious, and I still think they are. There used to be a time when we had to be very careful and conservative because of the cost of taking and developing pictures – they were reserved for those most special moments and printed to cherish the memories at a later time.

I still think that there are many benefits to everyone having a camera. This easy access has empowered many to showcase their artistic talents, capturing amazing images of new places or experiences and sharing them with useful information. This is so valuable for others that may not have a chance to travel or have those same firsthand experiences. Seeing such pictures is always a delight — it’s something I look forward to when using social media.

In my case, I love taking photos and capturing videos of my family. I think it is so important to keep these records of all the special events, family get togethers, travels and new milestones.

I also spend lots of time curating and archiving photos – many times getting frustrated with the Apple Photos app which I use to store and catalogue.

I like to revisit them to keep the best ones in my records and organize them in an accessible manner. I now have a reservoir of about 40,000 pictures capturing memories of 6 to 7 decades of the whole Mehra and Masand Families.

With many technological advancements over the years, I have found many ways to put these photos to use to create memories for family, friends and myself in the form of coffee table books, personalized daily use items, home décor items that carry pictures that we all love to see often. Memorializing pictures on these personalized items and coffee table books seems to be appreciated by almost everyone I know. Every time I have tried it, I have seen peoples face light up with that smile.

I am curious — how do others approach photos?

Do you take many photos? What do you do with them? Do you have any tips or tricks on curating or archiving the many photos we take? Any suggestions on how to best memorialize special photos or bulk photos?

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Missing you so much..

mummy oct 2019.jpg
आज दो साल हो गए आपको miss करते हुए..
मेरे सामने की मेज़ पर आपकी यह फ़ोटो हर समय रहती है
तो लगता है आप पास ही हो।
फ़ोन पर तो बात नहीं हो पाती पर अब तस्वीर से ही बातें कर लेती हूँ
तो लगता है आप पास ही हो।
आपको पुरानी विडीओज़ में आपको जीवंत देख लेती हूँ
तो लगता है आप पास ही हो।
ढेरों कॉफ़ी table बुक्स जो बनवाती रही हूँ, उनमें आपको देख लेती हूँ
तो लगता है आप पास ही हो।
हर त्यौहार मौक़े पर आपकी बातें याद करती हूँ
तो लगता है आप पास ही हो।
आपके अक्सर बोले जाने वाले मुहावरे दोहराती हूँ
तो लगता है आप पास ही हो।
आपसे सीखा खाना-पकवान बनाती हूँ
तो लगता है आप पास ही हो।
पर असलियत तो यह है ना – कि आप पास नहीं हो।
आपकी सुंदर साड़ियों में आपकी प्यारी छवि बहुत याद आती है, मेरी हर साल की April fool tricks और मेरी बहुत सी और अजीब बातों पर आपकी हैरानी बहुत याद आती है, फिर पड़ने वाली आपकी प्यार भरी डाँट बहुत याद आती है, आपकी जीने की ललक बहुत याद आती है, आपकी हर नयी चीज़ करने कि चाहत बहुत याद आती है।
यह बात बहुत ही खलती है कि मेरी बातों का अब कोई जवाब नहीं मिलता।
कहाँ चले गए आप और इतनी जल्दी क्यों?
पच्चीस साल की थी जब आपके पास आयी थी। इतने ही सालों से कुछ ज़्यादा उम्र आप के साथ बिताने का मौक़ा तो मिला पर यह काफ़ी नहीं था। क्या है यार मम्मा …अभी हमें इतना कुछ साथ में करना था।
Your not being around is simply not acceptable- Come Back!