Curious about Carom?

Carom seeds

Carom seeds

The carom seeds, popularly known as ajwain, have been a part of Indian cuisine from times immemorial. Southeast Asian countries have consciously included these aromatic seeds in some of their common and exclusive dishes. The spice lends a tinge of heat and freshness to any dish to which it is added.

Since ajwain has its own distinct flavour, it is best not to combine it with other spices. It is particularly useful in curing digestive disorders. The spice has a magical way of lending diverse genres of flavours when employed differently.

If you are planning to use ajwain as a seasoning, then heat some ghee or any cooking oil of your choice and toss the spice when the fat is hot. When the spice inflates, turn off the heat and toss it into your dish. You can give your dosas, salads and buttermilk a twist by adding a dash of ajwain.

While baking some breads and buns or Indian snacks using besan flour as base, make sure that you add raw ajwain to the dough. If you don’t like biting into the spice unexpectedly, then consider adding a pinch of coarse or fine ajwain powder to the dough.

If you want an uniform and all encompassing flavour then make sure that you use a decoction of the spice. Toss a teaspoonful of the seeds into quarter litre of water and allow it to boil down to about 200 ml, add a pinch of table salt and crystal sugar to the decoction before taking it off the heat. Use this decoction while preparing dough for breads, chapatis or paranthas. This decoction can be cooled and stored in the refrigerator and administered a spoonful or two after every meal to overcome flatulence or indigestion.

Dealing with Embarassment

Some of us go through embarrassing situations in life for no particular fault of ours. It becomes increasingly difficult to take a stand, especially when the people involved are the next of kin, good friends or well-wishers. A story in the Bhagavatha Puranam speaks of one such predicament.

Naabhaaga, an erudite scholar, decided to find his own fortune. He was well versed in all areas of rites and rituals. He knew that he could earn a great deal of wealth if he offered his niche services. For starters, he went to the Yajna conducted by sage Angirasa as directed by his father Nabhaga. The sage was very happy with the arrival of the young man.

On the sixth day, ceremonies, which involved a lot of nitty-gritty, had been worrying the sage. Naabhaaga did the needful efficiently. The Yajna was completed successfully. Sage Angirasa was very happy and satisfied.

In a moment of gratitude and generosity, he offered every bit of his frugal possession as Dakshina to Naabhaaga. The latter accepted his fee thankfully and took leave of the sage. Naabhaaga was waylaid by Rudra. The angry god accused Naabhaaga of walking away with what rightfully belonged to him. The young man was confused. Nevertheless, he walked back to the site of the Yajna along with Rudra. The duo found sage Angirasa in conversation with Naabhaaga’s father. Rudra presented his case. Almost immediately, Angirasa and Nabhaga realised that they had goofed up. Strangely, both of them in their zeal had overlooked that the last portion of the Dakshina had to be lawfully offered to Rudra. They admitted their fault sheepishly, clarified the matter and apologised profusely. Both of them found it highly embarrassing to dictate the future course of action.

Naabhaaga and Rudra understood the nature of the faux pas. Naabhaaga decided to iron out the matter. He did not play the blame game nor did he cock a snook at Rudra for being angry with him for no reason. Instead, he handed over the entire amount to Rudra. Angirasa and Nabhaga were overwhelmed with the turn of events. Rudra was touched by the integrity of Naabhaaga and blessed him with unlimited prosperity.

If any of us happen to inadvertently get involved in a slip-up, we will do well to display a generous and forthright spirit like Naabhaaga.

Spicy Healthy Delicacies from Curry Leaves

The ubiquitous curry leaf in Indian cuisine simply cannot be ignored. Every delectable savory and salted item is invariably seasoned with curry leaves to improve its colour and flavour.

Those of you who have green fingers will vouch for the fact that, growing a curry leaf shrub can be a very demanding task, especially in the sapling stages. Besides turning the soil gently and watering it in a limited way, traditionalists have found that diluted sour buttermilk poured at the roots of the plant can improve its colour and flavor.

These leaves which are repertoires of iron supplements have therapeutic   values. Research has proved that these leaves influence lush growth of human hair and also plays a role in keeping its sheen and turning it jet black.

If one consumes eight to ten curry leaves very morning, it can control obesity and sugar levels. Yet most adults and children make it a point to identify these leaves and keep them aside thereby throwing a wealth of goodness away without a second thought. It will prove to be a good idea to grind these leaves and add it to the masala or gravy so that its intrinsic goodness is not entirely lost.

These leaves when cooked exclusively can turn into some very delectable dishes, full of the much requisite nutrients. These dishes when eaten with hot rice and ghee have been time-tested recipes particularly suitable for mothers to be both in the pre- natal and
post -natal period of time.


Curry Leaves Chutney
Curry leaves: 1 large bowl,

Urad Dal: 1 cup,

Red Chillies: 6

Hing: 1 Teaspoon

Salt:1 teaspoon

Cooking Oil: 1 Teaspoon
Tamarind syrup: 1 Tablespoon ( Soak a small lump of tamarind in a cup of boiled and cooled water for 10 minutes and extract a thick syrup of the same)

* Wash the curry leaves and allow it to dry completely on a dry towel.
* Heat oil in a pan and fry the urad dal, hing and red chillies till they are roasted completely.
*Run all the ingredients in the mixer till it turns into a coarse paste.
* Do not add water to the Chutney at any point.
*The Curry leaves chutney can be served with hot rice and ghee.A fresh salad or a raitha will complement this dish very well.

If one wants to enhance the shelf-life value of this chutney it can be done so with a little variation. You can substitute 3 of the red chillies with one teaspoon of roasted pepper a tablespoon of roasted jeera. You can follow the same procedure but use dry tamarind instead of the syrup. Make sure to tear the tamarind into little bits lest it gets lumped and interfere in the processing of the mixer.

Milagu Kozhambu/ Curryleaves Gravy

This traditional, and proven gravy not only helps out women during their pregnancy and nursing period but also transforms into a ready remedy for people suffering from constant bouts of cold and indigestion. This gravy can be eaten with hot rice and ghee as an appetizer at the head of a meal to smoothen the process of digestion for a couple of days. This food also can be an appropriate supper dish which relieves one of body aches and congestion of the lungs. Patients recuperating from simple flu, fever and other minor illnesses will find this dish a very  fine appetizer This dish has a long shelf life and can be kept in the open for a week and when refrigerated in air-tight containers can be stored upto six months.   .


Curry leaves: 1 large bowl,

Urad Dal: 1 cup,

Pepper: 1 tablespoon,

Hing: 1 Teaspoon

Salt: 2 teaspoon,

Til Oil: 1 large cup (For best results in terms of taste and effect do not substitute with any other oil)

Tamarind  50 grams,

Mustard:1 teaspoon.


* Wash the curry leaves and allow it to dry completely on a dry towel.
* Heat a little oil in a pan and fry the urad dal, Hing and peppers till they are roasted.
*Grind the tamarind along with all the ingredients in the till it turns into a coarse paste.


*Add some oil in the pan and allow the mustard and Hing to spatter and pour the ground gravy into the pan. You can add water from time to time in order to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.


* Once the gravy boils allow it to simmer for 15 minutes on a very slow fire after pouring the rest of the oil into the gravy.


* Once the gravy cools transfer it into an air tight container and it can be served with hot rice and ghee from time to time.




Curry leaves: 1 large bowl,

Peeled garlic cloves: 6

Urad Dal: 1 cup,

Red Chilli  6,

Pepper: 1 tablespoon,

Dhaniya 1 tablespoon

Turmeric:1 teaspoon

Hing: 1 pinch

Salt: 2 teaspoons,

cooking  Oil: 1 large cup

Tamarind  syrup:3tablespoons

Mustard:1 teaspoon.

  • Heat very little oil and roast the garlic, urad dal, dhaniya and pepper together and grind them together.
  • Wash and dry the curry leaves and grind them separately without adding water
  • Add little oil to a pan and toss in the mustard seeds, turmeric powder and hing.
  • Pour the tamarind paste into the pan, add salt and add the ground curryleaves when the gravy starts simmering.
  • Reduce the flame and add the remaining oil little by little and keep stirring the mixture for a while.
  • Just as the oil starts collecting towards the fringes add the powdered spices, bring to a simmer and put off the fire.
  • The Curry leaves gravy can be served with hot rice and ghee. Sautéed or deep fried papad will complement this dish very well.

The gravy can have a shelf life of about three months. The gravy tastes best when mixed with rice and allowed to soak up the gravy for at least two to three hours. If you make the gravy for just one time use, adding cut drumsticks or broad beans along with the curry leaves powder can add to the flavor.




If you have drying up or dried up curry leaves on your hands, do not throw them away. Dry them in the shade along with a handful of lemon leaves and couple of green chillies. When the ingredients dry up without retaining an iota of moisture grind them with a little salt and hing and store the powder in an airtight container. The powder can be used to flavor buttermilk instantaneously.






Did you know?

Curry leaves have divine connections.  There is an interesting folk tale which speaks about how the king Thondaman lined up a whole range of gifts for his daughter Padmavathi on the occasion of her wedding with lord Srinivasa. The gifts consisted of just about everything that a bride could need. Expensive clothes, jewellery, furniture, make up items, provisions, flowers, fruits, nuts and vegetables among other things. The king and his queen were proud of the rich array of their paraphernalia as they took the grooms mother Bakulamalika on a guided tour around the presents. When the king said that they had not spared a single item that could be possibly be included, Bakula gently pointed out that they had missed out on gifting their daughter something important. The royal couple went through the itinerary but could not zero in on the missing article. Then Bakula gently pointed out that they had forgotten to keep curry leaves which is a mandatory ingredient in most of our traditional cuisine!




Finding Your Footing


The other day, I was swollen up all over. Not with importance! And no, nobody had beaten me up. The long hours of travel caused edema in my limbs. I knew that some professional massage will set matters right.

Along came the therapist – a slim, young smiling lady. She ushered me into a room to knead my limbs back to normalcy. We indulged in rambling small talk. She casually mentioned that she was a student of engineering. I thought she was kidding. Why on earth would she be rubbing oil down my limbs then?

I gave her a long look. She appeared to be serious. She told me she had completed three years of the course. She could not continue with the seventh semester because she had not cleared any of the examinations thus far. In answer to my questioning look, she said that her father’s unreasonable tenacity to make good of his money compelled her to study engineering.

After a moment of fleeting silence, I asked her how she had landed this job. I realised that I had unconsciously switched over from vernacular to English. The lass lapsed into the queen’s lingo when she said that she had trained for six months as a masseuse. I noticed that her language was deliberate and heavily accented.

The teacher in me popped another query. Should she not be working on her backlog and passing the examinations? She agreed. That would be the most ideal thing to do. However, she could not do it. I wondered why not? She said that she could not cope with the course. I blurted, “Then, why did you take it up in the first place?”

“Ah! That was a mistake. My dad worked for the local MLA all his life, so the politician gave me a free seat in his engineering college as payment for my dad’s services.” She nodded away and swore it was true. She had passed her class 12 with difficulty and that had proved to be unfortunate. She had switched back to Malayalam. She did look earnest. I decided to take her word for it.
When I reflected on our interaction, I realised that the girl had essayed the role of the obedient child quite like Casabianca. When she could take the heat no more, she had the courage to accept her limitations and abandon the beaten path.

Practical common sense had ruled her decision. She had donned her new hat with ease and relief, without ever feeling apologetic. By choosing her own path she had carved a niche for herself by alienating herself from the rat race. Hats off to her!

Thieves on the Prowl, Residents Cry Fowl

Thieves on the prowl, residents cry foul

Last updated: 24 September, 2016
Chethan Misquith and Meghana Choukkar September 25, 2016, DHNS

 Preferring anonymity, a businessman from Byadarahalli seeks more patrolling to instil a sense of security among residents of his locality. I have seen rowdies hanging around street corners in the evenings. There are police in the area, but I feel it would be better to have CCTV cameras installed as well, he elaborates.
As Bengaluru transformed from a manageable city to a metropolis of 1.2 crore, the city has seen a corresponding rise in crimes, more apparent in the new, outlying areas. Here are some citizens voicing their concerns about this unwarranted trend, suggesting a few solutions. 

Preferring anonymity, a businessman from Byadarahalli seeks more patrolling to instil a sense of security among residents of his locality. “I have seen rowdies hanging around street corners in the evenings. There are police in the area, but I feel it would be better to have CCTV cameras installed as well,” he elaborates.

Kiran Aithal, who lives at Nobo Nagar in Kalena Agahara on the city’s outskirts has this to say: “I have seen police patrol the area in the late evening hours, around 7 or 8 pm. But I do not think they patrol late in the night. Otherwise, incidents of theft will not be rising here.”

Radha Prathi, a resident of Mathikere, has a different take on patrolling. She says the police do go on rounds, asking residents to be on alert. This goes on for a few days after such incidents. Residents too are wary. But once normalcy returns and patrolling slackens, the burglars strike again.

More than thefts, what really scares residents are the heinous crimes. Three weeks ago, an IT employee was raped at knife-point right inside her paying guest accommodation near Parappana Agrahara on the city’s outskirts. She was alone in the room when the assailant barged in.

Ten days ago, the Kengeri police arrested six persons from a desolate area when the gang was conspiring to commit dacoity. Interrogations revealed that the suspects had murdered a man six years ago in Sandur in Ballari district. They were also involved in more than 50 other cases across the State.

These recurring incidents have made residents even more insecure. They feel the frequent thefts could easily morph into more dangerous crimes. A Kodichikkanahalli resident, M N Kulkarni recalls how thieves had struck three houses in his area over the last few months.

Besides the usual loot, the culprits have also begun to take away gas cylinders. Kulkarni points out that the culprits had once fled with 16 cylinders. Complaints were lodged, but the police never caught the thieves.

Many residents now feel police-public partnerships such as the Community Policing campaign could work better in ensuring law and order. Tilaknagar police sub-inspector Tanvir notes that the crime rate in his jurisdictional area has actually come down after the campaign struck a chord with the public. Across the city, around 1,000 volunteers are now part of the campaign.

Here’s one instance where the partnership worked well: Two months ago, a resident, Zameer, grew suspicious of a man who was parking a scooter without number plate near his residence on Bannerghatta road. When Zameer questioned him, the man sped away from the spot. Immediately, Zameer alerted the police, who in turn urged a volunteer to chase the scooter. The suspect was nabbed. Upon interrogation, it was learnt that the scooter was stolen.

Enclose With Elegance

neat Get a small quantity of white acrylic paint and colour the insides of your showcase. photos by author

Did you know that the showcase that adorns your living room is perhaps one of the features that is almost never missed by your guests and visitors? They pay special attention to the showcase because they are aware that it is the hotspot in the house which conveys a lot about the residents.

The trophies that assert one’s success, the souvenirs that stand witness to your travels around the globe, the antique piece which speaks about your aesthetic inclinations, the family heirloom that display your affection for your grandparents and so on and so forth, jostle with one another and proclaim your collective personalities as a family.

It is true that all of us who have arranged our showcases must have spent some time giving it our thoughts and exercising our creativity. However, we may have noticed that not all of them are always appealing or exotic. This does not for a moment mean that your stuff is not good enough nor does it mean that your showcase has become redundant. All the same, the lacklustre aspect could be attributed to several reasons.

For one thing, it may have collected dust and grime. Otherwise it could be overcrowded or sparsely filled up. Sometimes, we leave essentials like keys, bills, torches, money, matches etc in some section of the showcase for easy access, not realising that they could be an eyesore.

If you think that the above reasons are not applicable to you perhaps, you have never changed the arrangement over the years, giving it a sense of predictability, which will fail to garner the attention of your visitor. So, here are a few tips that will ensure that your showcase attracts renewed attention:

Remove all the contents of your showcase and clean them thoroughly.

Clean the showcase and the covering glass using soap and water. If the walls of the cabinet have yellowed or scaled due to age, rub the surface with sandpaper and scrape it completely.

Get a small quantity of white acrylic paint and colour the insides. If your cabinet is made of wood, a coat of ready-made wood polish will do the job.

Check if you have one too many articles that will look good when hung. Take stock of the number and fix little sticks on hooks (easily available in the market) on the ceiling of the partitioned area.

Sort out your showpieces either in terms of size or theme. If you are the sort who likes to rearrange memorabilia time and again, it will be a good idea to stick to a theme. On the other hand if you want to take things easier, identify a few things that you always want to display and change only the other items from time to time.

Make sure that all the unsightly wires that run through are carefully stapled and hidden away.

Toss in a few pieces of camphor in every shelf to keep it pest-free and fragrant.

Use an old newspaper to wipe the glass clean from both sides before sliding it over the showcase. Make it a point to wipe the glass clean at least once in a fortnight.

Repeat this exercise and bring variations in the display once in every three or four months.

Do not place damaged pieces, picture postcards or family photographs amid other things, unless it happens to match the theme.

Eco friendly is the Way Forward -Ganesha Chathurthi

3rd September 2016

One cannot simply miss the terracotta images of gigantic Ganeshas peering through transparent polythene sheets serving as rain protection, lining the highways leading to the city and the main market places. Smaller versions of the lord and his mother goddess Gowri flank the bigger images. It is interesting to note that quite a lot of them are in earthy colours, with a glint of gold in places. They have been made by conscientious artists and will be bought by likeminded devotees whose hearts beat to the rhythm of nature. The online portals and niche studios that make and sell eco friendly Ganeshas had their order books completed several weeks ago. More and more people celebrating the festival publicly and privately are clearly responding to the cause of mother earth. It is heartening to note that little communities and social groups are coming together and working on sustainable solutions that can take care of the disposal of festive waste and the customary immersion of the idol post festival without wreaking havoc on our already overburdened lakes and ponds.

Well begun is half done! Looks like years of green campaign by the earnest are beginning to bear fruit albeit sporadically. The recent rains which flooded our cities over have also given a very clear signal that if we fail to take cognizance of violating the basic rules of nature, we must also be ready to face nasty surprises.

For those of us who are still not very convinced about all the furor over using idols that have been fired and painted gaily in toxic colours, we must realize that these idols run colour for a long time. The chemical nature of the dyes used may dissolve in water but not before first polluting it and taking a toll on the life of the fish and other creatures in the tank. Then the idol will take an extremely long time to disintegrate and disperse in water. Even the idols which use coir or hay as skeletal system to give it shape take quite as long too. The residual clay will enhance the silt layer of the water body. It will in turn enhance the height of the lakebed and become instrumental in rising water levels and consequent overflow of water during rains. Then there will be really no point in wondering how, the very Ganesha whom we worshipped reverently made life miserable for us.

An episode from Nilakanta Vijayam underlines the importance and divinity of eco friendly worship. Indra the lord of gods never failed to venerate the deities at the dawn of each day. He would complete his ablutions and then collect a handful of fresh flowers before making a beeline to the banks of the celestial river Ganga in the heavens. Then he would carefully select a couple of rounded pebbles for worship, clean them thoroughly and place them on the sands along the rippling waterline. Then he would offer his prayers and floral tribute reverentially to those little stones (saligrama). Once done, he would return the pebbles to the water, (quite on the lines of how we immerse Ganeshas today) and go his way only to repeat the process the following day.

Now Indra the lord of Gods as we all know had everyone and everything at his beck and call. If he wanted to, he could have availed the most precious of resources to conduct his daily worship. Nevertheless he chose to pick pebbles from the river and return the same to its source the very same day. By doing so, he ensured that he did not disturb the natural order of things to display his devotion or faith. When the lord of gods can abstain from exploiting nature to express his faith, can we not?

This year around, let us ensure a pollution free Ganesha Chathurthi, filled with faith and lots of fun and the one that we will remember to be a model worth emulating in the years to come!