Torka-Ruti and Loads of Nostalgia

I am still unpacking since we moved in to the rental apartment just a week ago, and in the process, discovering stuff that I had packed in Pune and forgotten. Each instance I open a bag, something or the other tumbles out like a hidden treasure. There I was yesterday, holding an old bottle of Calcium Sandoz and wondering what had I packed inside it so carefully. It wasn’t the calcium for sure as the bottle wasn’t mine and had already travelled once from home to Pune. As I gingerly opened it, little green pearls of whole green moong rustled inside. The only way I have eaten this ‘gota’ daal is in the form of a warm bowl of Torka and I have been calling it ‘Torka’r Daal’ since forever. Some use this green moong in ‘gotaseddho’ as I might have written earlier, or consume it simply at the restaurants as ‘mah ki daal’ or daal makhani. I haven’t. Torka invokes enough emotions within me to sustain a lifetime than trying those heavily spiced and creamed versions.

I believe it’s serendipity that I’ve been stumbling onto posts and pictures of the Bengali style Punjabi Daal Tadka all around the internet today, leading to this little post of mine. Since we’re dealing with nostalgia, here’s my two pence on Torka.

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Break Away to Brussels

Breaking away literally implies running farther, far away from something that bothers you. When we were asked to relocate from Pune to Brussels, it seemed like a blessing in disguise, as we were flabbergasted in our stint there. Life was taking its toll and we appeared to be stuck in a hole, an obscure corner of the cobweb that none can see. Brussels came as a welcome break, to break away from the monotony that Pune imposed upon us. Of course, the primary attraction was Europe, a land that both M and I had dreamt of living at some point of our lives. Off we went packing, though the visa debacle took almost two months of our anticipatory survival. Thus I’d say, March to June has been a blur this year from departure to arrival and acclimatisation in a strange land.

Why strange? The cobbled sidewalks that haven’t yet been converted to smooth concrete ‘footpaths’ we have back home, the entirety and incredibility of living in a house built in 1900 AD, the joy and sheer awe of standing before altars built centuries ago but still sitting pretty beside modern superstores, eye-soothing greenery and little rose bushes that peek at you from unkempt gardens, holding a bowlful of the famous Belgian fries and loving them as well…there are so many stranger things that I’d write about in the days to come.

There have been glitches – slow paperwork by the government and banks, a peephole to live in the initial days, good weather playing truant and torturing us with the summer’s wrath – but these are a few and ought to be ignored comparing the bliss of living amidst such architecture. Yes, both of us are lovers of some good Gothic pillars, baroques, nouveau art, ancient cathedrals and old houses that smell of varnished wooden stairs.

I’d say Brussels has welcomed us with open arms, along with thousands of other immigrants and hasn’t been shy of our Oriental origin. I haven’t spotted any sneering glances or condescending remarks yet. In a sea of expats, we are just two more cogs in the wheels that run Brussels.

 

I’ll be back with more, much and soon.

Jukebox is here

Sometimes, it’s the journey which becomes more important than the destination. You begin at a point, pause for breath, lose your directions and embark on a different path altogether. Modified directions and better co-travellers make the new roadmap more interesting than your original itinerary.

I hadn’t imagined that a phone call in leisure with Priyanka Purkayastha, founder of Writersmelon, would result in me hopping on to the bandwagon and push more steam into the already running engine. 

That’s an excerpt from my Editor’s Note in Jukebox, presented by Writersmelon – a stellar collection of short stories by budding writers in India. Now available on Amazon.

Working as a pre-jury for our annual writing marathon Melonade for the past few years has been one of the best experiences I’ve gathered so far. There’s seldom a greater pleasure for me than to be lauded by young, creative minds for editing and polishing their already stellar stories. With hundreds of entries, Melonade has often drowned me with so much work that I’d forget I exist!

‘A short story creates an entire world in a few pages’ – Tejaswini Apte-Rahm

How often do we come across stories that have the ability to change our lives? Each story in Jukebox presents a choice – a choice from chaos to order, one that has life altering properties. Every track in this medley strikes a different chord at your heart with characters that speak up and stand alone for themselves and their choices. We, at Writersmelon, have handpicked, cut and polished each story till it emanates a beautiful message and stays forever with the reader.

As Preeti Shenoy said rightly in her foreword – ‘The stories had me enthralled, mesmerised and spellbound,’ – Jukebox is here to make an impact and linger in your mind for long. Published by Readomania, Jukebox is a venture by Writersmelon.com – a collection of selected short stories from the 5th edition of Melonade (a nationwide writing competition by Writersmelon).

The long wait is finally over, our path to publishing has been bumpy and came with lot of pleasant & difficult surprises. And now we are gearing up for the launch of this book in Bangalore. Yes, you heard it right. All those wonderful people decided to participate in Melonade – A nationwide writing competition, gave us their best short stories, highly acclaimed authors picked the ones they loved the most & we sprinkled some more magic along with our publisher Readomania.

If you are a book lover & live in Bangalore, don’t miss our first book launch celebration. Meet and chat with the best selling author Preeti Shenoy, the super talented authors of Jukebox and our some of our fabulous bloggers.

We’d love to see you in Bangalore on 8th July, 5-7 pm at Atta Galatta, Koramangala.

Tata Motors launches brand new cars in Sri Lanka

Tata Motors is one of the leading vehicle manufacturers in Sri Lanka offering brand new cars and commercial vehicles. That’s a pretty well known fact but I wasn’t aware that Tata Motors has created a great reputation in the market of passenger vehicles. Primary among these is the Tata Indigo eCS in petrol and diesel variants at great prices. Those of us in India already familiar with the Indigo know very well that this compact and economical sedan car gives a comfortable ride even on bad roads (that are not too difficult to find in the Indian subcontinent)! The Tata Indigo is launched with a host of features like best in-class space, larger than most sedans, and duo float suspension for better comfort in rides.

Since Tata Motors claims ‘Best things in life are automatik,’ – it goes so well with the new Tata GenX Nano automatic cars. These are designed completely for the next generation with amazingly new design philosophy and it is a revolution in the category of hatchbacks with a new ‘sporty’ look. The GenX Nano is totally advanced with great technology and a mileage to die for. It is easily the best small car with automatic features in its segment.

Tata Motors in Sri Lanka also offers other models like Tata Bolt and Tata Zest apart from Tata Indigo eCS & Tata GenX Nano. Basically, you have a lot to choose from based on your requirements and comfort of driving. Welcome to Tata Motors in Sri Lanka!

An Ideal Bengali Vegetarian Meal For Summer

Yes, you read that right. Vegetarian fare from Bengal can lay out a spread of almost Chhappan Bhog for you, and they are delicious as well nutritious in peak Indian summers. While most Bengalis have begun following this trend of vegetarianism on Tuesdays and Saturdays, it is still a taboo at our place. A vegetarian meal is often compensated with at least an egg curry. However, living away from Bengal doesn’t give us the choice to go for fish shopping frequently. It is usually purchased on weekends and stored for four to five days which often leads to its depletion by Saturdays. As you must be aware of, mutton is reserved for Sunday afternoons, chicken in arid regions like Pune and Hyderabad is not very appetising in summer and smells awful; that leaves us with the choice of an odd egg. On rare occasions of fridge cleaning days or blistering summery ones, we decide to chuck the egg for a plateful of a cool vegetarian meal.

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Royal Indian Hotel, Calcutta

Biriyani and Calcutta have been going hand in hand since the Nawabs from Awadh set their foot in the British capital. Royal Indian Hotel in Chitpur is more than a century old (110 years) and has made its mark as arguably the best Biriyani and Chaap in the city. For those unfamiliar with the idea of a Chaap, I’d suggest a quick tour of Royal in Calcutta for this divine experience. Mutton Chaap is an item invented by the Mughals, using the ribs of a goat to their best faculty. While most recipes tend to serve the flat beaten Chaap pieces as a whole , Royal has its own way of chopping them with the ribs to bite size pieces in a delectably rich gravy of its own fat. They have begun catering Chicken Chaap as well, which is a gross misnomer as the birds are not blessed with generous ribs that ooze the same taste and flavour. On our previous visit to Calcutta, M and I were determined to try this heavenly pair of Biriyani and Chaap from Royal, still in quest of the best biriyani in our home city.

Address: 147, Rabindra Sarani, Bara Bazar, Calcutta – 700073 / 24A, Syed Amir Ali Avenue, Diagonally opposite to Quest Mall, Park Circus

Contact: 033 22681073, 9903369147

USP – Biriyani, Mutton Chaap, Firni

Decor

Royal is one of those serious no-nonsense no-frills old-school ‘hotels’ which don’t believe in fancy decor. It’s an eatery with heavy wooden tables and straight-backed chairs with just a jug of water on the table. Located in the busiest and congested wholesale market of Calcutta (Chitpur/Barabazar), the restaurant is cramped for space. The floor above has been renovated and added to the restaurant as I’m told. There’s a separate air-conditioned hall with slightly hiked food prices.

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Book Review : The Conspiracy At Meru

Blurb View:

Victory is Temporary the Battle is Eternal’.

Vikramaditya and his Council of Nine have fought valiantly to repel the rampaging hordes from Devaloka and Patala – but Avanti has been brought to its knees. Ujjayini lies battered; its citizens are scared and morale is badly shaken. Meanwhile, the barbaric Hunas and Sakas are gathering on the horizon and cracks are emerging between the allied kingdoms of Sindhuvarta…

The only silver lining is that the deadly Halahala is safe. For now.

Bent on vengeance, Indra is already scheming to destroy Vikramaditya, while Shukracharya has a plan that can spell the doom for the Guardians of the Halahala. How long can the human army hold out against the ferocity and cunning of the devas and asuras? And will Vikramaditya’s love for his queen come in the way of his promise to Shiva?

Review: 

For those who are familiar with my reviews, you already know that Mythology is not my forte. And it is a fact that I had liked the #1 in Vikramaditya series – Guardians of the Halahala. These two facts combine into a solution that I’ve implemented while reading this series – treat it is a thriller. I didn’t get boggled by the fact that I’m dealing with King Vikramaditya and the devas, asuras and super powers. Instead, I tried to ingest the story as a racy over the edge action-packed thriller. And it is safe to infer that the book met all the expectations.

The plot begins exactly where we’d left it in the previous book. The city is in shambles and the king tries to pick up the pieces with the help of his councillors. Each of them has their own story, Kalidasa has strange visions that want to convey some secret to him, Shanku realises her secret super power, and the Acharya has his own issues to resolve. With consistent attacks from the Devas and Asuras, Ujjaini is battered and bruised, struggling to even exist before considering survival. Will they be able to decipher what Shukracharya ‘The Healer’ has in store for them? Will Queen Vishakha regain her health and memories? Will the kingdom of Avanti resurrect gathering all its pieces together?

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