Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Safar

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  


Friday, September 23, 2011

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 during this period (see here to get an idea of what I mean).

So what does this have to do with the 2G spectrum, you may ask. Well, it was during this period of time that certain companies namely Reliance, DB Realty, Unitech, DLF, Indiabulls Real Estate, Omaxe, Parsvnath, Essar and many others came in touch with Mr. Raja. Gaining clearances for various kinds of projects was reduced to a mere passing reference, and a lot of these projects certainly deserve to be scrutinized again, and would certainly not stand even a casual scrutiny, given the flimsiness of their grounds for clearances. When Mr. Raja was 'promoted' to the position of Telecom and IT minister, he intimated his 'friends' so that benefits could be given out. This was brought to notice months ago by former Telecom Minister Mr. Arun Shourie (read here to know more), but curiously, no one has paid any attention yet.

Truth of the matter is that the money trails and the shenanigans have a much longer trail than is being made out right now. There is a convenient hush-hush, and accusations often fly about the deliberate attacking of this 'amazing growth story' of India. But a growth story that ignores the very builders of it, and that relies on putting at risk people at large, financially, physically and emotionally, is not any growth that I desire. I would rather be a poor country with honest people. Why is this government not trying to investigate these allegations, nor has the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) done anything about it? Is it not their duty to examine these issues in greater detail? Perhaps, fact of the matter is that the ramifications of all this are so large no one in the corridors of power has the guts to face the truth and take corrective measures.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

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 book and is called Nadeir Yakhean. Nadeir or nadru is Kashmiri for lotus stems, which are a staple in Kashmiri Pandit food. High in vitamins and iron, it also is an interesting vegetable in terms of taste and texture, and reminds many of raw bananas.

INGREDIENTS
1. Lotus Roots, of above 1" diameter 1 kg
2. Mustard oil 1 cup
3. Curd 1 kg
4. Milk 1 cup
5. Cloves 3 nos
6. Cumin Seeds 1 tsp
7. Asafoetida a pinch
8. Ginger Powder 1 tsp
9. Aniseed Powder 2 tsps
10. Black Pepper Powder 1 tsp
11. Black Cardamom Powder 1/2 tsp
12. Cinnamon Powder 1/2 tsp
13. Caraway seeds 1/2 tsp
14. 'Garam Masala' 1 tsp
15. Salt about 1 tsp
16. Sugar 1/2 tsp
17. Green Cardamoms a few


PREPARATION

1. In an earthenware pot, or in a steel or tinned copper or brass, boil, for half an hour, the prepared Lotus Root pieces, in enough water to keep these immersed wholly during boiling. To save time, only 5 to 10 minutes of pressure cooking is enough. Take out with a perforated ladle or strain through a colander, the boiled pieces, and retain the Soup in a steel bowl, and let it cool.

2. Add to the Soup the Curd, Milk, Aniseed and Ginger Powders, Sugar and Salt, and blend the ingredients, by churning with a small churn--stick (or an egg beater) to a Curdy Sauce.

3. Now, in the cooking vessel, heat the oil on a medium flame, till foam disappears. Add the Cloves, Cumin Seeds and Asafoetida. Stir with a steel ladle, and add immediately the prepared Sauce. Continue stirring with the steel ladle, so that Curd does not crack, till the Sauce comes to a boil.
 
4. Add boiled Lotus Root pieces, and let these cook on a low heat, for another 15 to 20 minutes, turning these now and then with the ladle. When the Curdy Gravy thickens, add Caraway Seeds and Cardamom, Cinnamon and Black Pepper Powders, along with the Garam Masala. Mix the Spices by stirring with the ladle. A few crushed Green Cardamoms may be added. Nadier Yakhean is ready for serving



I hope you guys like it. Refer to the book for more recipes. Happy Cooking everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

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 tsp (optional)
Mustard oil 3-6 tbsp (depending on the wok or the pan you use)
Garam masala for taste
PREPARATION:

Most people do not understand how to use paneer, and simply thrust it into dishes. The key to a delicious paneer is that you fry it beforehand. This is particularly true of Kashmiri food, where most ingredients including paneer are fried first-up. This ensures that the paneer will not crumble while cooking, and also allows flavors to seep into it. So, in a pan/wok heat the mustard oil and wait for the foam to disappear. Once the foam disappears, fry the paneer till its golden brown, and keep it aside.

Now, in the same oil, throw in the garlic and onion paste, and fry it till the onions are a tad bit golden in colour. (Throw in a half-inch piece of ginger grated to shreds if you did not find dry ginger powder.) Throw in the fried paneer into it, as well as turmeric, chilli powder and salt into it. Cook it for a couple of minutes only! It is preferable if Kashmiri chilli powder can be used - its less on heat and gives a brilliant color to your dishes.

Now gently pour in the milk into the mix and stir well. You will notice that the milk did not split. This is due to the fact that onions and garlic do not let that happen. Now, put in the cardamom and cloves after breaking them roughly and mix well and let the mix boil for about five minutes.

The final stage involves using the ingredients dry ginger and fennel powder (if you do not find it, just roast a teaspoon fennel and grind it). Putting in these ingredients is also typical of Kashmiri cooking. Interestingly, these ingredients are put towards the end. Mix the whole thing well, and let it cook for about ten minutes. Before you serve it, just mix a pinch of garam masala, and serve it with the Indian breads, particularly naans or tandoori rotis or even the humble chapati.


I hope you guys liked it. Give me your feedback. I shall put up more recipes from my crazy rasoi or kitchen, as we call it in Hindi. And yes, I need a better name as well. So suggestions please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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