Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Are you a Carrot, an Egg or a Coffee bean?

Here comes another interesting article that motivates you and keeps you inspired. As you start reading the article, u will start analyzing few facts and figure  out what you are....Enjoy reading  it..!!! 


Put  three pots of water over the fire. 
In the first  pot, put some carrots.
In the second  pot, put some eggs.
In the third  pot, put some coffee beans that have been  grounded into coffee powder.
Boil all three  pots for 15 minutes and take out when done.

The carrots  went in hard. They are now soft. 
The eggs went  in soft inside.Now they are hard inside.
But the water has the colour and the wonderful smell of coffee. 
The coffee powder has disappeared.

Now think about  life. 
Life is not always easy. 
Life is not always comfortable. 
Sometimes life is very hard.
We work very hard but get few results.

What happens  when we face difficulties? 
Things don’t  happen like we wish. 
People don’t  treat us like we hope. 

Now think about  the pots
The boiling  water is like the problems of life.
We can be  like the carrots.We  go in tough  and strong.  We come out  soft and weak.We get very  tired.
We lose hope.
We give up. 
There is no  more fighting spirit. 
Don’t be  like the carrots!

We can be like the eggs. We start with a soft and sensitive heart. We end up very hard and unfeeling inside. We hate others. We don’t  like ourselves. We become hard-hearted. There is no warm feeling, only bitterness. 
Don’t be  like the eggs!

We can be  like the coffee beans. The  water does not change the coffee powder. The  coffee powder changes the water! The water has  become different because of the coffee powder.

                              See it....... Smell it.....Drink it....:)
                               The hotter the water, the better the taste.

We can be  like the coffee beans.
We make something  good from the difficulties we face. We learn new  things. We have new  knowledge, new skills, new abilities. We grow in  experience. We make the  world around us better.

To succeed,  we must try… and try again.
We must believe  in what we are doing.
We must not give up.
We must be patient.
We must keep pushing..
difficulties problems handle  with care...!!!!!
Problems and  difficulties give us the chance to become stronger… and better… and tougher.

What are we  like when things do not go  well? 
Are we like  the carrot…or the egg… or the coffee  bean? 

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hanuman Jayanthi / Hanuman Vijayotsavam

          ! Om! Ham! Hanumathey! Sri Rama Dhootaya Namaha !!!!

Hanuman Jayanthi is the birthday of Lord Hanuman, an incarnation of Lord Shiva. It is generally celebrated on the full moon day (chaitra poornima) of chaitra masa. 
Hanuman known as Bajranga  bali , Anjineya and Maruti is one of the powerful Gods, an exceptional brahmachaari and more importantly a sincere devotee of Lord Rama .He is also known as pavanasuta  or pavanakumara, as he was born to the Wind God (Vayu )- Kesari and Anjani devi.  Hanuman is either worshipped individually or with Rama. 

Greatness of Hanuman - is the significance of Hanuman jayanthi:-
The idol of Hanuman is generally coated with kumkuma / Sindoor/ vermilion because according to the legend, Hanuman once enquired Sita about her putting Sindoor to the forehead.... to this Sita replied that sindoor ensures the long life of her husband. Upon hearing this, Hanuman applied sindoor all over his body for the immortality of His Lord Rama. Such was the devotion of Lord Hanuma towards Rama, desireless and a selfless service without expecting any fruit in return for his worship. Rama  was deeply indebted to Hanuma for the deeds he did to him - like the crossing of the ocean simply by uttering the name Ram, burning the city  Lanka with his tail , bringing Sanjeevani from mountains and saving Lakshmana, sita etc.,..  Rama gave him a boon of an everlasting life and told hanuma that his murti will be placed infront of him and he will be worshiped first.

Yatra yatra raghunatha kirtanam;
Tatra tatra kritha masthakanjalim;
Bhaspavaari paripurna lochanam;
Maarutim namata raakshasanthakam

MEANING: “We bow to Maruti, Sri Hanuman, who stands with his palms folded above his forehead, with a torrent of tears flowing down his eyes wherever the Names of Lord Rama are sung”

Hanuman Jayanthi Celebrations: 
Sankata Mocha temple situated in Varnasi is one of the famous temples dedicated to Lord Hanuman.
On this auspicious day, devotees read Hanuman chalisa ( attached below) and recite the name of Rama, visit temple and apply sindoor/ kumkuma from his body considering it holy. In many temples we see that Vada mala will be put on Hanuman, so a special vada  made with Udad dal with lots of peppercorns is offered as prasadam to God on this day. Its a traditional recipe in South India.

I found this on net that on this day,the Principle of Sree Hanuman (Maruti) is 1000 times more active on Earth. Thus we benefit more by chanting 'Sri Hanumate Namaha' as much as possible...!!!
 Hanuman Chalisa - in English with meaning
Kannada - Anjineya songs by balamurali krishna

Facts Taken From Valmiki Ramayanam :- ( Info emailed to me by my friend Raji nallan)
1. most of the people think or say that sita is elder to rama but the fact is sita is younger to rama and the difference is 7yrs.
2. there is nothing called lakshmana geetha or lakshmana rekha that sita should not cross while lakshmana was going to search rama.
3. when Ravana came to the place where rama lived in the forest in the disguise of saint ..sita came forward to offer him fruits...then he asked who she was and why was she here...then sita herself said that she was sita and they came here for vanavasam ...then Ravana did not break earth and took sita...he changed his disguise to raavana and dragged sita by catching her hair and stepped into pushpkavimanam and he held her tightly with his hands and made her sit on his laps.
4.when sita rama kalyanam was going on  rama's age was 13 and sita's age was 7 and when they went for vanavasam rama's age was 25 that of sita's was 17.
5.rama ruled ayodhya for about 11thousand yrs

dhrutyaa sagara langhanam,hanumatho lanka madotsaranam
thatra sokha vanecha margana, mata srijanaki daarshanam,
rama kshema nivedanam,vanataru pradvamsanam,
samyuge raakshasamhananam ,puri pradahnam ,ramayane sundaram

Banana Bread Recipe

Banana Bread / Banana-Nut Bread

One can make various types of banana bread once the measurements are known. You can add nuts along with grated coconut for flavor. I sometimes add coconut milk to it by adding only one egg to the process.
Many variations can be done as per your interest and thats why I often choose to make this banana bread recipe.

First time I had no hand mixer at home , so I used the so called Indian Mixer and prepared the batter. I was surprised to get a very good banana bread .
Once u develop the interest you can always go for a hand mixer as its very handy and easy to operate.

Ingredients :
 All Purpose Flour - 1 1/4 cup
 Sugar - 1 Cup
 Eggs - 2
 Bananas ripe - 2
 Baking Soda - 1/2 tsp
 Baking Powder - 1/2 tsp
 Salt - 1/2 tsp
 Vegetable Oil - 1/2 cup ( I opt oil rather than butter ) / (If butter - 1/3 cup melted)
 Butter - 2 Tbsp (melted)
 Nuts ( walnuts/ cashew ) - 1/2 Cup (chopped)
Cinnamon powder - 1/2 tsp
nutmeg - 1/2 tsp (optional)
Vanilla Essence - 2 Tbsp

 Required Material:
Measuring cups, 2 mixing bowls, hand mixer / (Indian blender ), 9/5 inch Loaf pan

  • Preheat the Oven for 350 F
  • In a big mixing bowl, combine all the powder ( Flour, baking pwdr, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt) and mix it gently with a spatula and keep aside.
  • In another mixing bowl combine eggs and sugar. Whisk it properly - this is generally referred as creaming.  To this add mashed bananas, vanilla essence and oil. With the help of hand mixer, keeping the speed on 1 whisk it for 2-3 minutes. ( note: Do not over do it as it may loose the binding)
  • Add nuts to the above mixture and mix it very gently with a spatula. One can even add 1/2 cup of  unsweetened coconut to it. Tastes yummm..:)
  • Combine the above banana - egg mixture in the Flour mix bowl. Whisk it again till the flour and banana mixture gets a flowing thick consistency by adding extra 2Tbsp of butter for smoothness.  Speed should be 2 if using hand mixer. If Indian mixie -  press on pulse till the mixer gets combined and then switch to low/1 speed for 4-5 minutes.
  • Butter the Loaf pan or coat with cooking spray and pour this mixture. Keep the pan in the oven set the oven time to 60 minutes - temperature - 350 F.
  • Remove from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Then invert the pan and let the bread cool completely for slicing and serving :)
(Tip: First set the temperature for 50 minutes. Insert  a  knife/ tooth pick  in the bread, if it comes out clean , it means its properly done. If  bread is getting sticked to the knife/  tp, set for another 10 minutes and check.)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Passbook.... A Memory of Moments Cherished

Here comes a beautiful story that states " Life is about correcting mistakes and not just regretting " using passbook as a main source of narration :). This article was fwd by my Mom..unfortunately, I don't know the author ...but he has really given a very good note and narration.

The story goes this way...

Priya married Hitesh this day - 21st Nov. At the end of the wedding  party, Priya's mother gave her a newly opened bank saving passbook.

With Rs.1000 deposit amount.

Mother: 'Priya, take this passbook. Keep it as a record of your marriage life. When there's something happy and memorable happened in your new life, put some money in. Write down what it's about next to the line. The more memorable the event is, the more money you can put in. I've done the first one for you today. Do the others with Hitesh.When you look back after years, you can know how much
happiness you've had.'

Priya shared this with Hitesh when getting home. They both thought it was a great idea and were anxious to know when the second deposit can be made.

This was what they did after certain time:

- 7 Feb: Rs.100, first birthday celebration for Hitesh after marriage
- 1 Mar: Rs.300, salary raise for Priya
- 20 Mar: Rs.200, vacation trip to Bali
- 15 Apr: Rs.2000, Priya got pregnant
- 1 Jun: Rs.1000, Hitesh got promoted
...... and so on...

However, after years, they started fighting and arguing for trivial things.They didn't talk much.. They regretted that they had married the most nasty people in the world.... no more love...Kind of typical nowadays, huh?
One day Priya talked to her Mother:
'Mom, we can't stand it anymore. We agree to divorce.. I can't imagine how  I decided to marry this guy!!!'

Mother: 'Sure, girl, that's no big deal. Just do whatever you want if  you really can't stand it. But before that, do one thing first. Remember the saving passbook I gave you on your wedding day? Take out all money and spend it first. You shouldn't keep any record of such a poor marriage.'

Priya thought it was true. So she went to the bank, waiting at the queue and planning to cancel the account. While she was waiting, she took a look at the passbook record. She looked, and looked, and looked. Then the memory of all the previous joy and happiness just came up her mind. Her eyes were then filled with tears. She left and went home.

When she was home, she handed the passbook to Hitesh, asked him to spend the money before getting divorce. The next day, Hitesh gave the passbook back to Priya.
She found a new deposit of Rs.5000. And a line next to the record: 'This is the day I notice how much I've loved you thru out all these years. How much happiness you've brought me.'

They hugged and cried, putting the passbook back to the safe.

Do you know how much money they had saved when they retired? I did not ask.I believe the money did not matter any more after they had gone thru all the good
years in their life.

"When you fall, in any way, Don't see the place where you fell, Instead see the place from where you slipped.  Life is about correcting mistakes."

Friday, March 26, 2010

Healing Properties Of Herbs and Spices / Tips

Today I happen to see my diary and found this article on my very first page of health column and thought of sharing the importance of our herbs and spices that we often include in our cooking and how these herbs are effective in all ways in our day to day life.

Healing Properties of Herbs and Spices :

Ginger : An excellent digestive and good for sore throat and common cold.
- Ginger pickled with lemon and salt makes a great accompaniment to meals and also palatable way to include ginger in our diet.
- Ginger mixed with honey is the best remedy for dry cough.

Garlic : Good to keep cholesterol and high blood pressure at bay. One or two cloves of garlic taken daily on an empty stomach in the morning is the best remedy to control high B.P

Mustard :  It is used to relieve arthritic pain. Mustard oil massaged into the scalp is believed to promote hair growth.

Cumin : It has cooling and digestive properties

Chillies : Very high in vitamin A and C. Good for skin as well

Cinnamon : Cinnamon when infused in warm water is effective in curing common cold, preventing nervous tension and stimulating digestion.
- Cinnamon oil cures gastric debility and is commonly used as an inhalation for sinusitis and colds.

Ajwain : A sure cure for stomachache or over eating is to chew a spoonful of ajwain. Works well for Throat problems too.

Turmeric : Antiseptic for minor burns and wounds.

Saffron ; Prescribed for urinary disorders, skin and menstrual problems.

Asafoetida : Prescribed for respiratory problems like whooping cough and asthma.
Mint : Has a refreshing aroma that can be used as a garnish for many dishes and juices. Lemon Tea garnished with mint leaves is an instant energy booster after a long hectic day. Uses of mint - nausea and sore throat problems.

Oregano : This is one of my fav herbs that has a distinctive - strong flavor , mainly used in Italian dishes and soups. It has an antibacterial property and a good painkiller.

Coriander: Helps lower blood cholesterol, Its juice is rich in vitamins A, B, C and iron . Fresh aroma enhances any dish. 

Rosemary : Bitter to taste but has a very good flavor that goes well with all soups and sauces. Very good for digestion, appetite,blood pressure and migraines

SYMPTOMS                                    REMEDY

Throat Problem                        Cut ginger int small pieces and chew it       
Nausea problem        Smell green lemon by peeling a pinch of its skin                    
Cold and Cough          Boil 2 bay leaves, 5-6 Pepper corns  and 2" jaggery  in 1/2 cup of water. Strain,  cool and then drink it.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sri Rama Navami

Sri Rama Navami - 24th March 2010
Sri Rama Navami, a very important Hindu festival celebrated all over India irrespective of cast and creed. It celebrates the birth of Lord Rama, the 7th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. This festival occurs on the ninth day (navami) of shukla paksha ( the period between new moon day and full moon day) in chaitra masa as per Hindu calender.

Here are a few details about Rama 
Significance of the word Rama : Divided in 3 syllables : Ra + Aa + Ma
Ra = Rudra, Aa = Brahma, Ma= Vishnu.  Hence Brahma . vishnu maheshwara is Lord Rama. If chanted as Rama , it is a name and if chanted as Ram, it is a Mantra and if chanted as Sri Rama , Power of Goddess Sita is added to it.
Date of Birth : Chaitra Masa,shukla paksha, Navami thithi
Birth star ( karnataka Raasi ) : Punarvasu ( 4th charanam)
Place of birth : Ayodhya
Parents : King Dasaratha and Kauslya Devi
Step Mothers : Kaikeyi and Sumithra
Brothers : Bharatha ( born to kaikeyi) , Lakshmana and Shatrugna ( twins born to Sumithra)
Wife : Sita ( Eka Pathni Vratha)
Sons : Lava and Kusha ( twins)
Power of the word Rama ( Info given by my friend Raji Nallan) : 
1.The name "Rama" in telugu consists of 2 letters "Ra" and "ma".
2.The first letter "Ra" is taken from the ASTAKSHARI that is "Namo Narayanaya".In this astakshari "ra" is called Pranabeejam. Without this letter "ra" astakshari's meaning changes to "a shubham"(in telugu).
4.The second letter "ma" is taken from PANCHAKSHARI that is "Namah sivaya".In this "ma" is the Pranabeejam.without this letter panchakshari's meaning changes to "a mangalam"(in telugu).
5.So the name "RAMA" is the combination of 2 pranabeejam's and thus its found to be very powerful.

In many parts of south India , it is also celebrated as the wedding ceremony of Lord Rama and Sita, hence referred as Sri SitaRama Kalyanum which is performed very grandly at Bhadrachalum temple in Andhra Pradesh.  Temples of Rama are decorated with flowers and lights, vedic chants and mantras and special pujas are performed.

Procedure :
On this auspicious day, devotees observe fasting till noon .The idol or picture of Rama Sita is decorated with  flowers and fruits placed in front of it. A special prasadam is prepared for this festival known as Panakum (telugu) / panaka (kannada), which is a mixture of jaggery, dry ginger, crushed black pepper and cardamom. Also  Kosambri (in kannada)/ vada pappu , i.e.,  Moong dal (soaked) + grated coconut +  grated mango+ chopped green chillies is offered as neivedyam .An aarthi is performed at noon and special slokas of Rama are chanted on this day.

Navami celebrations in south India is the narration of stories from the epic Ramayana. It is believed that listening to the stories of Rama and chanting His name cleanses the soul. One is advised to Read/listen Vishnu Saharanamam (1000 Names of Lord Vishnu ) or Sri Rama Rakshaka Sthothrams (audio attached below) this day in praise of  Lord Rama.

 Slokas that are generally recited on this day: -

Sri Rama Mantram :
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

Rama Slokam :
Rama Rama Namoustute
Jaya Ramachandra Namoustute
Ramachandra Namoustute
Jaya Raaghavaaya Namoustute
Deva Deva Namoustute
Jaya Devaraaja Namoustute
Vaasudeva Namoustute
Jaya Varadaraaja Namoustute

Taraka Mantram :( Sthotra from vishnu Sahasranamam ) - Taraka mantra means the one that helps to cross the ocean of samsara and free us from the bondage cycle of birth and death. This is the family mantra of Lord Shiva.

Sree Rama Rama Ramethi Rame Raame Manorame
Sahasranama Tat Thul-yam Rama Nama Varanane

Meaning : It is only Rama Naamam which is equal to thousand names of vishnu.

( Prayer sloka of Hanuma) :
Yatra Yatra Raghunatha Keerthanam
Tatra Tatra Kruthamasthakanjalim
Bhashpavari Paripoorna Lochanam
Maruthim namatha Rakshasanthakam

Meaning : Hanuma says that wherever rama Naama is sung, He is present though not visible, with eyes full of tears and hands folded in prayers to His Lord.

Attached below are some links related to Rama bhajans, songs and slokas

Sri Rama Songs

Sri Rama Nama - Nama Ramayana

Taraka mantramu - A beautiful song composed on Rama, sung by Priya sisters.

Paluke Bangaaramayena - heart touching song

Jagadapi Ramudu Sri Ramudey : Beautiful song from LAVA KUSA

Inviting Lord To come Home : Tyagaraaja kriti

Sri Rama Naama Maruva maruva -  Balamurali krishana

Lyrics : A very simple and peaceful song. Enjoy the song singing along with the audio :)
Sree raama naamam maruvaam maruvaamSiddhamu yamuniki veruvaam veruvaam
Govindunevela koludaam koludaamDevuni gunamulu thaludhaam thaludaam [sree rama]
Vishnu kadhalu chevula vindaam vindaamVere kadhalu maaku mandam mandam
Raama daasulu maaku saaram saaramKaama daasulu maaku dooram dooram [sree rama
Avanija pathi seva maanam maanamMariyokka golante mounam mounam
Sribhadra gireesuni kandaam kandaamBhadramutho manamu undaam undaam [sree rama]

Sri Rama Raksha Stotram

Lyrics and Meanings in English

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Karnataka Delicacy - Spinach Dal

North Karnataka has a special tinge of flavor added to dals and chutneys. People who love spicy food should try north Karnataka food.  Mainly jolada bhakri/ jonna rotti with brinjal curry, chutneys and specially a dal which can be made with any leafy vegetable, generally the dal is referred as mudhipalya :).
 I wanted to make traditional dal which my grandmother used to make it, so I took the recipe from my cousin. It turned out well and everybody at my place enjoyed it.....thanks to my sis Shilpa :)

For the festival Ugadi I made the dal using raw mango instead of tamarind. Here is the recipe :

Ingredients :
Spinach/Palak - 2- 3 bunches / 1 packet
Toor Dal - 1 cup
Raw Mango pieces -  1/3 cup or mango seed with the pulp can be used for the tangy taste
green chillies - 5-6 ( can add even more )
turmeric - big pinch

cumin seeds- 1 tsp
mustard seeds - 1 tsp
asafoetida - a pinch
curry leaves - 1 sprig
Dry red chillies - 2
salt to taste

Method :

1) Pressure cook the dal for 3 whistles 

2) In a pan put a drop of oil and saute green chillies and make a paste of it and keep aside.

3)Take 2 Tbsp oil and add finely chopped spinach, mango seed ( I used the remaining mango seed with the pulp)  . Mix well till the spinach turns to dark green color and then add the above paste, turmeric, dal and salt. Cook  this on medium for 15-20 minutes. add 1/3 cup of water if you feel the dal is too thick. 
I  prefer dal to be thick as it goes well with rotis also.

4) Finally prepare tempering and add  to the dal. Garnish it with coriander leaves.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Quick Fixes - Khichidi's - Rice cooked with Lentils

Its afternoon and I thought why not post something quick and easy food item. Every time I think what to cook for myself when at home, what comes in my mind is some jhatpat khana and one single item which should be filling, healthy and quick. I consider consuming some carbs in the noon as we need some energy. I read online and in some magazines that lentils and rice should be preferred in the noon rather consuming at night times.So, I generally end up cooking some mixed veg rice or khichdi's in my daily diet.

Here I write about the various types of khichidi's that can be made delicious, different, healthy and quick..:) 

 Masala Khichidi :

Ingredients :
1 cup - Rice
1/3 cup - Moong Dal (split)
 2 Big - Tomatoes
1 small - onion
Ginger - 1"
1/2 Tbsp - Cumin seeds/ jeera
1/2 tsp - Turmeric Powder
1/2 tsp - Garam Masala powder
1/4 tsp - Pepper powder ( or freshly crushed)
1/2 tsp - Coriander powder / dhaniya pwdr
3- 4 - curry leaves
2 - green chillies
2-3 - cloves
1" - Cinnamon
2- 3 Tbsp - Oil
Hing / asafoetida - a pinch (optional)
Salt as per taste.

Method :
1. Wash Rice and Dal and soak it for 15 minutes.
2. In a pan or pressure cooker, heat oil, add jeera, colves, cinnamon, Hing and curry leaves. 
3. Add finely chopped onions, green chillies and turmeric. Once the onions turn transparent, add in tomatoes and cook well.
4. Add all the masalas, mix well and add soaked rice and dal. Saute for a minute.
5. Add 2 cups of water and salt as per taste. Close the lid once it starts boils and cook on medium for 20 minutes. Garnish with corriander leaves or chutney ..:)

Serve hot with salad, chutney or raitha

Moong Dal khichidi: 

Ingredients :
Basmathi rice - 1 Cup
Moong Dal ( yellow split) - 1/3 Cup
Green chillies - 2 - 3
Ginger - garlic paste - 1 tsp
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Cloves- 4-5
Cinnamon - 1"
Cardamom - 2
cumin seeds/ jeera - 1/2Ttbsp
Bay leaf - 2
Oil/ ghee (clarified butter) - 2 Tbsp
Salt to taste
1. Wash Rice and Dal and soak it for 15 minutes.

2. In a pan or pressure cooker, heat oil, add jeera, colves, cinnamon and cardamom  Saute for a minute. 
3. Add Ginger -garlic paste, chopped green chillies, turmeric and bay leaf.. Mix well and add soaked rice and dal. Saute for 5 minutes. 
4. Add sufficient amount of water and salt as per taste and cook
5. Finally garnish it with coriander leaves.
 I generally enjoy with pickle, plain curd, sals and one masala papad.

Looks yumm..also tastes yumm :)

Mixed Vegetable Khichidi :

Ingredients :

Rice - 1 cup
Moong Dal - 1/2 cup
Grated carrot - 1/3 cup (approx 2 carrots )
Spring Onions chopped finely - 1 cup
Green peas - 1/2 cup
Cauliflower florets - 1/2 cup
Chopped beans - 1/4 cup
Capsicums (yellow/red/green) - 1
ginger- 1"
green chillies paste - 1 tsp
turmeric - 1 tbsp
cinnamon - 1"
cloves - 2
curry leaves - 2-3
Cumin seeds/jeera - 1 Tbsp
salt to taste
Oil/Ghee - 2 Tbsp

Method :
1. 1. Wash Rice and Dal and soak it for 15 minutes.
2. In a pan or pressure cooker, heat oil, add jeera, colves, cinnamon and cardamom  Saute for a minute. 
3. Add curry leaves, turmeric and all the vegetables. Mix well for 5 minutes and add ginger paste and green chilli paste.
4. Add soaked rice and dal. Add water, salt and cook till the rice is done.
5. garnish gently with finely chopped corainder leaves and serve hot....!!!

Brown rice Khichidi :
 Refer link - Brown Rice Khichidi