Showing posts from 2011

Wattakka Kalu Pol - Pumpkin Curry Sri Lankan style

Well, it is always fun to cook for me. I would in fact say that it is akin to meditation for me, as it gives me immense peace of mind. I had tried a new recipe recently from the gourmet's paradise Sri Lanka, and though it is slightly different from the original, the end result tends to be the same. This time around, I tried cooking pumpkin a bit differently. The need to cook it differently arose from the problem that the cold weather poses - tamarind tends to spoil throats, and everyone is already fighting sore throats and sniffing noses. I recalled something I had seen on television aeons ago, and thought I's try. The end result was wonderful. Wattakka Kalu Pol roughly translates to Pumpkin Curry in Coconut Milk, and the recipe is a must try for it gives you an option of eating pumpkin with rice, something unheard of before. So here goes the recipe. Hope you guys enjoy it. This recipe is for 2-3 people, so just adjust if you want to make it for more people. INGREDIENTS 250

Death, You Have Been an Experience

I was driving the car. Having just dropped my mother and brother, I was turning around a sharp bend when a car came around and hit me hard. It jolted me out of my senses, and I was stunned by its impact. I got out of the car at that moment to see the rear totally mangled, looking like a piece of waste metal that is of no use to the smelting workshops and gets discarded. Anger boiled over as I walked in search of the person responsible for it. There were minor bruises on my forehead luckily, and just thenI saw the man, standing there, inspecting the wreck of the car. "You! How dare you do this to me and my car!" I shouted at the driver, running towards him lest he ran away. He looked at me, surprised, as if he had seen a ghost. "I'm sorry madam, but its not my fault. Believe me, I was just sitting by the side and eating some chocolate cookies." He was scarred on the forehead with a big gash, and yet the man had the gumption to pretend that he wasn't respo

The Intellectual Bankruptcy of India - When Will It Stop????

Today the Delhi based newspaper Hindustan Times reported the news that Nobel laureate Har Gobind Khurana, the man who decoded the RNA sequence, died on Wednesday at the age of 86. His story is little known to today's Indians, and perhaps life prior to the Nobel Prize is forgotten in India. I am raking up a dead man's past because I want to point out  certain things that happened in his life that continue to happen even today, and we should stop and think for a moment what we have 'achieved'. Har Gobind Khurana's story was like any successful Indian emigrant's story with the typically filmy twist. Very few people would know the fact that he had applied for the post of lecturer with both the Delhi University and Punjab University, Jalandhar. As every successful emigrant's story goes, his application was rejected just because he did not have any political affiliation. My point is that the reason we today suffer intellectual bankruptcy in India even today has

Inflation and the Manipulation Behind It

It has been some time now that we have had high inflation rates, and this has been pushed to the extent that for the first time in India we have a situation where housing loans now would perhaps pass on to the children of the lenders post their retirement because of ballooning interest rates spiraling out of control. It does not surprise anyone that this situation of super inflation (as I would call it) does not come under control. There are multiple reasons behind it. I shall talk about a couple of them, and hope others pick the signals up as well. Food prices have gone up across the world. Continuous monitoring by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has shown that prices have risen five times since 2007, when food was treated as a commodity and future trading was allowed with the blessing of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and big agricultural giants like Cargill, Dow and Monsanto. This has already created havoc across the world which frighteningly led to food riots in


हर्फ़ ब हर्फ़ किस्सा लिखा था जो तुमने मैं आज उसे मिटाने आया हूँ तसव्वुफ़ के दरीचों में जो बसर किया था तुमने मैं आज उससे अलहदा करने आया हूँ ताउम्र साथ चलने का वादा जो किया था तुमने उसकी रेशमी डोर को आज मैं तोड़ने आया हूँ मेरी बातें मेरे किस्से मेरी यादें जो चुराईं थीं तुमने मैं उसका सर्मायी चुकता करने आया हूँ जो अंदाज़े बयाँ से कायल किया था तुमने वो अलफ़ाज़ तुम्हें आज लौटाने आया हूँ तुम्हारा वजूद मेरे लिए मायने नहीं रखता अब बस इतना ज़हन कराने तेरे शहर आया हूँ  

Sweet Potato Curry

So I was looking for new recipes to cook the other day, since vegetarian food across India has many many variations and ingredients used in making them. One of the recipes pointed out Sweet Potatoes. Now the four of you may start giggling after reading sweet potato. A humble poor man's snack as a main course dish? Yes of course. In fact, follow the way I made it, and you'd like it a lot. There are many options in the way you can cook it. And now, this is a recipe for three. Hope you guys try it out and like it. INGREDIENTS 2 big sweet potatoes  2 big onions four cloves of garlic one-and-half inch piece of ginger 3 green chillies 3 medium tomatoes 3 sticks curry leaves 1 tsp fenugreek ( methi ) seeds 1 tsp coriander ( dhania ) powder 1 tsp turmeric 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (preferably Kashmiri chillies) Salt to taste 2 tbsp oil (mustard/olive/canola) 1 1/2 cup coconut milk 1 cup water PREPARATION The way to use the sweet potatoes is up to you. You may wish


आज  मन दर्पण में जो झाँका तो पाया के मेरी पहचान धुंधली हो चली है वो धुंधली आकृति कहीं प्रतिबिम्ब के कोने में उदास दुखी बैठी है  न जाने क्यों ऐसा है के वो कुछ बोलती ही नहीं है बस टकटकी लगाए द्वार की ओर देखती रहती है  न जाने किसकी प्रतीक्षा है मेरी पहचान को शायद मेरे अस्तित्व की    


चलते चलते जो आवाज़ लगाई मेरे माज़ी, मेरी तन्हाई ने  मुड़कर देखा तोह पाया के मील के पत्थर पर दोनों आराम पसर कर रहे थे  हैरां परेशां सा हुआ मैं, पुछा मैंने "क्यों पीछा कर रहे हो?" तन्हाई हंसकर बोली "मुझसे दामन कैसे छुडाओगे?" "तन्हाई तो सखी थी मेरी, पर अब नहीं" कहा मैंने  "जो साथ न चाहूँ तोह क्यों संग चलती हो?" माज़ी ने मेरे मुस्कुराकर कहा मुझसे "मैं तुम्हारा ही माज़ी हूँ, तन्हाई की रूह हूँ जो मुझसे दामन न छुड़ा सको तो तन्हाई से क्या पीछा छुडाओगे?" "है तू मेरा माज़ी, मगर मेरे दिल में तेरे लिए नहीं है कोई जगह नहीं चाहता काँटों का बिछौना  नहीं चाहता आँसूं भरी रात" बस इतना कहा और मैं चलता बना कुछ दिनों बाद खबर आई थी मेरा माज़ी और मेरी तन्हाई वहीँ खड़े हैं  वहीँ, उस मील के पत्थर पर, इंतज़ार कर रहे हैं यादों के उसी रास्ते पर मेरे लौटने की  

2G - Paryavaran Bhavan Holds the Key

It has taken a while to come out, but the 2G spectrum scam has just cast a wider net. Puzzled as the four of us who read this blog may be about what has Paryavaran Bhavan, the office of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) got to do with the 2G spectrum scandal, the truth is far deeper than most of us, including even those fighting cases for getting top ministers investigated (pointed reference Subramanian Swamy) have perhaps imagined. The whole scam actually started with Mr. Andimuthu Raja becoming Minister of Environment in 2004. The period between 2004-2007 should be marked as one of the darkest chapters in the history of environmental governance in India. A lot of companies got clearances in ways that could make Somalia look like it adheres to law and order. Cronyism was at its peak. Clearances, officers, project reports - name any item, and it was bought and sold. Most of the controversial mining that has since been brought to the public notice obtained clearances duri

Kashmiri Cookbook by Shyam Rani Kilam and S S Kaul Kilam

I love Kashmiri food. That is an open secret to all those who know me well. Heck, I love food in any style from India, period. In my quest to teach myself cooking new styles of cooking, I came across this wonderful book put across by S S Kaul Kilam and Shyam Rani Kilam called the Kashmiri Cookbook. The Kilams are Kashmiri Pandits settled in the United States for some time now, and they came out with this book a few years ago. They were in fact gracious enough to share this book with the world by putting it up online on this website and just demand reference in turn. Food secrets should be shared with the world. I strongly endorse this line of thought and ask people to go across this book, for it wonderfully details the nitty gritty of Kashmiri food and also lists out the differences in both the Pandit style and the Muslim style of cooking. I encourage everyone to cherish this treasure as long as you can, and read the book as well. This recipe today is shared from the bo

Paneer Curry

So I love cooking as well, as some of my friends have figured out by now. I keep experimenting with styles of cooking to see what can we come up with. In the course, I certainly have come up with a recipe that is inspired by Kashmiri cooking. I hope you people try it and like it, though for people in India, it is advisable to cook the same during the bitter winters as the ingredients used are heat generating as per our traditional medicine system. I do not have a name for it, but I am searching for suggestions, so please be generous. INGREDIENTS: Paneer(cottage cheese)400 - 500 gm cut into small cubes Milk 2 glasses Onion 1 whole, paste Garlic 2 cloves, paste Turmeric 1 tsp Red chilli powder 1 tsp Dry ginger powder 1 tsp (alternatively, you can use fresh ginger) Fennel seeds powder 1 tsp Brown cardamom 1 Cloves 3-4 Salt 1 tsp Sugar 1/4 ts

Lokpal For Dummies Like You and Me

Is Lok Pal is necessary to fight corruption? Yes we need one. That the conduct of a large number of officials as per our Constitution is not governed by anyone at all, especially the elected government is appalling in itself. Every democratic set up has to ensure its people transparency in the governance process. The example of free economies with less government is fraught with serious flaws of thinking. The United States is perhaps the freest economy, and yet on the Transparency International's index why does it not sit on the top? To think that this country does not deserve what our founding fathers promised (remember Jawaharlal Nehru in the 1960s) is fallacy. Moreover, our Constitution, when it gave powers to a host of elected representatives, did not define the scope of their conduct and what would be considered Unparliamentary. Current criminal laws already allow investigations; however, they require sanction of prosecution. The requirement thus is of a body th


इंतज़ार का तो बस लम्हा  भर ही गुज़रा  है न जाने क्यों लगता है सदियाँ  गुज़र गयी हैं मिटटी के तिनके धीरे धीरे मेज़ पर तशरीफ़ टिका रहे हैं और सूरज की नर्म रौशनी सेंक रहे हैं वो कागजों और किताबों से भरा बुक शेल्फ टकटकी लगाए बैठा है न जाने क्या सोचता है बैठ यूं गुमसुम तन्हाई में बाहर खिड़की के पार दरख्तों में फूलों का इंतज़ार है कोई गुलशन होने का मौसम इन्हें भी नसीब करा दे यूं मुरझाये से पड़े हैं वो इंतज़ार में बैठ खामोश देखता हूँ सरसराते पत्तों को हवा के तेज़ झोंके से लहरा उठे जो हौले से, दबे पाँव आ खड़ी मेरे पास वो कह गयी न जाने क्या, समझ न आया मुझको लम्हा भर गुज़र गया यूं ही, देखता रहा मैं खिड़की की ओर राह देखता रहा आने वाले लम्हे की पर न आने की आहात उसकी, न करता वो शोर

The Relevance of Corporate Sustainability for Indian Enterprises

Corporate sustainability is a paradigm that has been evolving rapidly and continuously. It never has a fixed definition; rather there is fluidity in its limits, and keeps expanding in all directions just like the universe does. The definition of sustainability, which was earlier defined by the Triple Bottom Line of John Elkington of environment, economics and society has been broadened and translated into other critical areas such as respect for human rights, corporate governance, fair trade ethics and stakeholder engagement, all of which do not in any way take away anything from the original components; instead, they can be considered to be a revised definition of the triple bottom line to match the need of the hour, as subsets of the original three sets laid out by Mr. Elkington about two decades ago. Today, corporate sustainability is an engagement process. It is a dialogue between companies and corporations with their customers, with their shareholders, with their employees, and wi

Land Acquisition in India and the Debate Going On

In the hoopla associated with the land acquisition, including attempted padyatras thaat have been capturing more than necessary headlines, considering the ruling disposition's double standards over the same (people forget that it was Jawaharlal Nehru who had revoked the Fundamental Right to Property when the tribal people had started to invoke it in courts against mining projects) a closer scrutiny is certainly required over the oh-so-controversial Land Acquistion Act of 1894 and the subsequent amendment that governments have been searching for more than a decade now. A major flaw associated with the Land Acquisition Act has been the lack of any proper rehabilitation package being promised under the original Act. Under the Act, there were provisions for compensation, but this was not linked to the market price of land, and is to be distributed through the local district magistrate's office in the form of actual handouts, a perfect system of this money disappearing. Moreover, t

REC Mechanism in India - What is Wrong With It

I had attended a workshop on REC mechanism on June 17, 2011 in Delhi organized by the National Load Despatch Centre, which is supposed to be the nodal agency for this mechanism. Having started in 2010, it was indeed a unique learning experience to hear first hand from people involved in the process including people AB Power Infrastructure, Central Electricity Regulatory Commission and National Board of Irrigation and Power as well as the representatives of Indian Power Exchanges (yes, we have two of those as well!) talk about the policy, the teething issues and listening to people clear their doubts and give their suggestions, which were duly noted. Any typical trade mechanism in the world is based on Coasian economics, about which I had discussed briefly here . In the case of the REC mechanism, the tradeable property or externality identified is the environmental credential associated with green energy, and it is a trade in this benefit which is surplus in some states while non-existe

Incentivization, Externality Pricing and Coasian Economics

Debate over the method to tackle environmental issues has been under debate since the eighteenth century, when Adam Smith came out with the Bible of Capitalism "The Wealth of Nations" whereby he argued an absolute free hand to markets with the firm belief that the markets will find the solution to every problem. This can be argued to be a novel position with respect to environmental issues, as till then laws were passed in England for curbing pollution (or at least the visual aspects of it). Though Marx and Engels did believe in the absolute control of the State, a middle path alternative to incentives and State control really turned up in the nineteen twenties, with A.L. Pigou coming out with arguably the Socialis't Holy Book, "The Economics of Welfare". He argued consistently for both aspects, saying that while it is okay for enterprises to make profits, to tackle problems arising due to industrial activities, profits must be taxed and the monies turned around

What Should be India's Energy Policy?

What should India's energy policy look like? There has been endless debate and countless number of posturings people on every corner of this quadrilateral have adopted. However, we all fail to miss the woods for the trees. History is a great teacher, and we should certainly look back at world history to look at the curious case of Denmark to understand where it succeeded while others failed. I remember sitting in class when Mr. Benjamin Sovacool was passionately discussing Denmark's conscious shift towards renewable energy that started way back in 1973 after the oil shock caught them with their pants down. I confess to not having thought too much of it then. Since then, however, a lot of water has flown under the bridge, and looking at things as they stand now, Mr. Sovacool stands vindicated. One should look at the Denmark model of energy self reliance and how they consciously moved their national grid from being dependent on fossil fuels towards being one dominated by renewabl

I am a Fool

I am a fool for believing that people should care about each other. Truth is, we always were a selfish lot of creatures, and will always be. Helping each other is of no use, as we all look for ways to benefit from each other and go our separate ways. Being an idiot to believe that people can be good to each other, can come forward to help each other is just loads of bullshit.

What is the Idea of India?

What is the idea of India? I have been struggling with the idea for a few years now. I talked to people who think on these lines, who themselves, being of the same age group, have been grappling with the idea of India, and what it means to us, to them and to me. And yet, none of us have been able to find a definitive answer to it. It is almost like the Hindu philosophy of the Upanishads, which keep saying ‘Neti, Neti’ (‘Not that, not that’). The only answer to each clue that cropped up in our investigations was that this is not it. Is India the idea of geography? Maybe; maybe not. People from other countries said it must have been really difficult to attend school geography about our country, with so many states, cities, towns, climates, vegetation types. We all eat different varieties of rice, and yet all of us eat rice! We seek maize for different purposes, and yet it is inescapable that we eat maize. We seek barley and wheat for different purposes, and yet the fact that we eat them

Nation and Patriotism

What really is a nation? There is no standard answer. You only have an idea of what constitutes a nation. But the idea varies depending on your demography, your geography, your language and culture and a million other factors that exist, and will continue to exist as long as humanity exists on this planet. My favorite author, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore had written in his most political novel ever, Gora "The idea of the Nation is one of the most powerful anaesthetics that man has invented which is individual and spiritual, and is untainted by racialism or religious orthodoxy." A nation is much greater than me or anyone else who reads this long boring monologue. A nation is a collective of consciences, of people who come together and unite against the ills of society; who unite to fight discrimination, who address grievances of their own and who move forward together while attempting to ensure that no one is left behind. A nation is much bigger than just a race, a culture or

My Budget is huh????

Experts scratching their heads, said one 'expert' from Singapore on Times Now, when asked about the Annual Union Financial Budget 2011 and what one should make out of it. This perhaps was a good way to sum up what was going on in the ramble of a speech that Pranabda (my favorite politician by far) dished out for three hours on a stretch, where he barely drank a drop of water, and bravely marched on, reading out page after page of absolute garbles (not to be mistaken with garbage, for Pranabda's accent makes it difficult to understand what he really means to say). Social spending remains nearly the same, especially for NREGA, but taxing hospitals restaurants with AC? Seriously? What are you trying to achieve? Rob the poor people further? Naina Lal Kidwai pointed out that the budget sends a green signal. The only green that I saw was the green of money that is being robbed from my pockets all the time. SO many taxes, and yet there is no improvement on services. In fact, India

When Stupidity Reigns Supreme

I must admit - I am not a big fan of the UPA or of Manmohan Singh as others are. And so the tone may seem biased here. But the issue was such that I could not refrain from commenting upon it. Today's news story carries the following article on the UPA government 'seriously' considering an Act that prohibits the number of people that can be invited for a function or social gathering. This is in support of the argument that food wastage can be reduced this way. Please read the story for more of this. This is another way of the government trying to act Big Brother over us. It seems that personal liberty is not only going for a toss, so is common sense with it. Won't people simply bribe policemen to lie about this? Moreover, I do agree that the crass manner of wedding celebration needs to be controlled, but seriously people, is this any way to stop food wa

That Scandal Called Spectrum

Well this is perhaps an apt title. There are no heated debates on it anymore, neither are there front page covers on trying to understand what really happened in 2008. A Raja has been arrested; blood has been bayed; we can all go rest in peace now. Or can we? Mr. Kapil Sibal has brought out a report under Former Justice Shivraj Patil (not to be confused with former Home Minister Shivraj Patil, that suit changing man), that states that the rot began with 2003 under the NDA. Also, he has been loud and upbeat in disrespecting the Comprtoller and Auditor General (CAG, the Indian government's accountant) report on the perceived loss due to allocation of 2G spectrum by trashing it on the grounds of 'accounting procedures adopted'. I don't know why people do not bring the following points to light: 1. Be it any government under whom the scam had begun, the truth is that there has been a scandal. Start investigating and stop hiding behind the curtains of allegation-counter-alle

Biodiversity and Sri Lanka

For those who do not know about Sri Lanka, it is one of the world's most endangered biodiversity hotspots. Some of the greatest specie richness in the world is located in this beautiful paradise, that was ravaged by war for over three decades, till it was finally ended (worth a thought though). Efforts on reconciliation and restoration of the environment in the North of Sri Lanka are now being undertaken on a war footing. What role does biodiversity play in it? David Without Borders is a brilliant initiative started by two guys in recording efforts on biodiversity conservation, and their recent episode on Sri Lanka reconciliating through biodiversity conservation is certainly worth a watch. 07 Sri Lanka - Building peace for Sri Lanka, the power of biodiversity from David Without Borders on Vimeo . Dr. Sarath Kotagama came as a pleasant surprise. An ornithologist by profession, he is a delightful person to know. He certainly deserves an award for this initiative of his. Try and se

That Thing Called Bamboo

Indian culture has a wonderful relationship with Bamboo. Most prominent among them must be the fact that the flute is made out of it, and the flute was played by none other than the revered Lord Krishna. However, among other things, it is a material of great commercial importance across the world. What surprises me is the way in which the media tends to ignore such critical issues of development and internal security, and how these issues are so critically interlinked. So it was great surprise for me to read that the Times of India (more appropriately the Trash of India *nudge nudge wink wink*) came out with this article that discussed in great detail the great fraud we did till recently with the marginalized people in our country over the past fifty years. What is bamboo? Most people, including scientists, say its grass. But according to the Indian Forest Department, it was a tree! Why? Here's the answer.

Water Privatization and the Media

It is interesting to see the kind of issues that gain coverage in the Indian media, as I have often stated. What makes it interesting though is the selective screening of certain kinds of news items that could be of potential national interest. There is never a debate conducted over matters of national importance in an objective manner. One such area is the privatization of water supply systems in India. It is of no surprise to me that very few papers in India dare to discuss the issue of water supply systems being privatized in the name of reforms. The side usually taken is the one that is often quoted by proponents; it will be a panacea for all the ills that plague the current systems. Thus it is rare to come across articles on opposition to it in Karnataka, especially in cities like Mysore and Bengaluru. Moreover, the issue is being discussed about the inclusion of the private sector in Delhi as well, with the electricity distribution privatization being quoted a 'success'.

Why is Sanitation Not an Issue for the Indian Media?

A scan of the media coverage of issues poses an insight into what are the hot topics of today's media. It is easy to list these issues, for they number only a few. Be it the Hindutva terror, Karnataka land deals, the CWG scam or the 2G spectrum allocation, these issues are still a rage with our media. Though it is shameful to see shameless politicians scream their lungs out saying "My corruption is less than your corruption", it is fascinating to note why issues of grave importance are either dropped quickly or are not even picked up by the Indian media. A lot of them, which I believe are the real issues India faces, are never covered by our so called 'senior' journalists, which is shameful because their voice might lend credence to the efforts of the activists, workers and government servants who are struggling on this issue for decades now. Ms. Teresa Rehman has been a revelation in that sense. An award winning journalist from Assam, she has been a strong insigh