Monday, February 29, 2016

Action hero Biju

It was with great expectation that I walked into the theatre to watch this movie. 
Well, here I go, take the seats, popcorn in hand, the lights go out, the movie starts with a thank you note from Nivin Pauly to his parents, spouse, kid and fan association. It is then that my friend whispers in my ear that he has started his own production company. Kudos to him. Now the actual movie starts. And for the first 20 minutes I am left wondering what is happening. Is he trying to mimick Mohanlal- similar punch dialogs, music....but the dialogs lack the power and punch it is supposed to deliver. What am I seeing? Is this a movie or a vlog of some events? I sit there raking my brains to get a grasp of what I am seeing on screen.

Gradually it dawns on me that what is being portrayed is the day today life of a policeman. Nivin Pauly plays the role of the  protagonist SI Biju.

Characters walk in and out of the movie, each having its own important role to play. All the scenes feel so realistic because most of the roles of the common man are played by the
'common man' rather than established cine artistes. The movie which felt dragging in the beginning gains pace now as it shows some events which jolts you and gets you thinking.

The entire story revolves around the life S.I Biju and his life. 
The movie is an eye opener for the spectators that a policeman has emotions; he is not abnormal; he is also a normal human being like every one else. A big round of applause for Nivin as he has not copied the stereotypical policeman mannerisms which is usually depicted in Malayalam movies.

What I couldn't comprehend was the role of Anu Immanuel, who plays Biju's would be. She practically has no role; just the typical heroine who smiles and walks around and then disappears. But then when I think now, the centre of the story is Biju and the other characters revolve around him. They are needed to complete the story but only 'Biju' is in the limelight.

I left the movie theatre with mixed emotions. 
This movie was a realistic picturization of a demanding profession.
To the entire team of 'Action Hero Biju'- a job well done.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Custard powder halwa



I always have some leftover custard powder at home. What usually happens is, it sits in the kitchen cabinet without any use and then finds its way to the garbage bin. But this time, I was determined to find a way to finish it. Off to google.com and I came across halwa recipes using custard powder. My first reaction was 'What? Halwa! and that too with custard powder. Seriously!.'  

Now to the fun part.
I took it to work and asked my friends to guess the ingredient in the halwa. They came up with pappaya, carrot, mango, pineapple and even pumpkin. And the expression on their faces when I revealed it was custard powder was priceless...lol.

The colour is bright orange and the texture is smooth. It is so easy to cut. Believe me, there is no need to add any food colour.

This is one dessert recipe which can be prepared in no time if you have all the ingredients at home. It is definitely a keeper for those days when you have a party at home and you have prepared everything but not the dessert.

My recipe here is a combination of a lot of recipes on the net.

Ingredients
1. Custard powder - 1 cup
2. Sugar - 2 cups
3. Water - 2 cups
4. Ghee - 6 tbsp
5. Vanilla essence - 3 drops
6. Cashew nuts - 5 (chopped)

Method:
In a deep non-stick pan, add the ghee and fry the cashews. The pan should be on medium flame. Once the cashews are softened, lower the flame to a sim and add the custard powder. Fry it for about 20 seconds, then add the sugar, vanilla essence and water. Mix really well (without any clumps). Now bring the flame back on medium and keep stirring. In a few minutes, the mixture will start to thicken and turn glassy. Keep stirring till it thickens and it is a big blob of gooey halwa [approximately 10 minutes]. Dump it into a greased cake tin and level it with a greased spoon. Let it cool down completely. 

Cut it in the shape of your choice. 

This will stay good for a week if kept in the refrigerator.

Notes:
* Non-stick pan is best for this recipe
* Using less amount of ghee and sugar will affect the richness of the halwa.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

A stroll in Kuwait Zoo

The weather in Kuwait is lovely now. It is perfect for a visit to the zoo. 


The entry fee is 0.500 fils for an adult.




Some sights around the zoo.






What really bothered me was the people feeding the animals in spite of boards everywhere not to feed them. Seriously, can't you read! The monkeys,giraffes and peacocks are fed Pufak and kubboos. How horrible!
Then there are others who were teasing the poor animals; as if being in a cage was not enough torture for them.




There is a train that takes you around the zoo. You have to pay 0.500 fils per ticket (even for kids irrespective of age).






Those are water coolers :) :)












It was a wonderful day out. Enjoyed every bit of it.

Low fat fresh yoghurt from Alban Dairy


I picked up this from Lulu. The yoghurt is packaged in clay pots. This is a 100% made in Kuwait product (by Yasmin farms, Wafra). And it has no preservatives. The shelf life is 7 days.





The yoghurt is creamy and tasted good. 
The prices are on the higher side compared to mass produced brands available (0.750 fils for 239gm of product). Probably it is because its still trying to get a foothold in the Kuwaiti market and also yeah it is all natural stuff produced locally.

Alban dairy has a lot of products including milk and cheese. You can check out their website: http://www.albandairy.com/ (click here)
They also have a facebook, twitter and instagram account -@AlbanDairy


A really nice product but wish their prices was lower.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Vermicelli payasam




Vermicelli payasam is one of those easy to make, anyone can make kind of payasam.

I was introduced to pre-fried very thin vermicelli after re-locating to the middle east; this made the process of making the payasam even more quicker.
I don' even follow any particular recipe for this.
You can eyeball the ingredients and lo...you are done.
This payasam can be enjoyed hot or cold.

But for the sake of the blog, I am listing down the recipe.

Ingredients
1. Pre-fried vermicelli - 1 packet (broken into small pieces)
2. Milk - 2 litre
3. Condensed milk - 1 can (397 gm)
4. Sago - 2 tbsp
5. Cashews - 3/4 cup
6. Raisins- 3/4 cup
7. Sliced pistachios - 1/2 cup
8. Sliced almonds - 1/2 cup
9. Ghee - 2 tbsp

Method
Boil the milk and add the condensed milk to it. Keep stirring; otherwise the condensed milk will stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Once the milk and condensed milk is mixed well, add the vermicelli to the mixture. Add the sago now. Keep it on a medium flame and let it cook. 
Meanwhile, heat the ghee in another shallow pan. Fry the cashews first, remove it onto a plate and then fry the raisins. 

In about 10 minutes, the vermicelli would be cooked. Switch off the flame and add the fried cashews and raisins. Also add the almond and pistachio slivers.

Sit back and enjoy the thick and creamy and delicious payasam.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Beetroot poori



Don't these look beautiful.
That color...Oh my..it's to die for.
Beetroot poori is one of those foods to trick your kids (and adults too...referring to my hubby) to eat beetroot.

The poori's look like beautiful bright red rubies piled up on a plate.They are a feast to the eyes and tastes good too.

Now to the recipe.

Ingredients:

1. Beetroot - 1 (medium size)
2. Whole wheat flour (atta) - 2 cups
3. Salt - to taste
4. Semolina (rava) - 2 tsp
5. Oil - to fry 

Method:

Steam the beetroot. Wait for it to cool down. Then peel it and cut it onto small pieces. Make a puree of this beetroot by adding as little water as possible.

Add the semolina and salt into the wheat flour and mix it well.

Knead the whole wheat flour with this beetroot puree that you prepared. Remember that the poori dough is of thicker consistency than the chapathi dough (for this you have to go with your gut feeling).

Beetroot is a messy affair but you will for sure be gawking at the red coloured dough. It is a pretty sight.

Leave the dough covered for about 20 minutes.

Make small balls out of the dough, roll it into small circles.

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan or kadai. Start frying the pooris.

Once you slide the poori into the oil, use a wide spoon to pour hot oil from the kadai onto the top of the poori. This will help the poori's to puff up. In addition to this , lightly press the poori into the hot oil while it is cooking. This will also help the poori's to puff up. Flip the poori to the other side and once it is cooked, drain it with a slotted spoon onto a plate with a kitchen towel(to absorb the excess oil).

These pooris' will puff up for sure and will be soft. They fell flat after an hour or so and but were still soft, exactly the way i like them.




Notes:
* Make sure that the oil is not too hot, otherwise the poori's will brown fast and end up burnt.
*Do not dump all the beetroot puree into the wheat flour at once. Gradually keep adding and kneading. Sometimes, you may not use all the puree. In such cases you can prepare a lassi out of the leftover beetroot puree.
* You can add 1/4 tsp of chilli powder and 1/4 tsp of ajwain to the dough while kneading, for a different taste.
Disclaimer: I promise to click better pictures next time I make them. :)





Wednesday, February 17, 2016

UNE nail polish - C23

I heard of this beauty brand from a friend of mine. She was raving about their lipsticks and so I had to check it out and bought the L09 lip color. I am totally in love with it. It's one shade which suits my skin tone. And on a second visit, I bought the nail polish 'C23'. 
The company refers to its product by numbers rather than names. 

[This is the link to UNE website.]

The company is promoting it's products as 'natural' - a tagline which I always fall for. 
Come on, who doesn't like the stuff that one applies on the body to be, natural.







 It has a double cap system. 
The brush is broad and thick - very easy to swipe on the nail.

It is printed on the bottle that the product is 75.2% of natural origin. 
Now why 75.2% and not a whole number!!!! Now that is confusing. But I can live with a nail polish which has 75% natural stuff :) :).




UNE claims that this is a 3 in 1 nail color i.e. it's base+color+shine all combined.

The consistency of the nail polish is quite thick. 
One coat can give you a really good coverage. It also doesn't take very long to dry.

And the nail polish will last for about 4 days without any chipping (which is a great plus for me). So, yep, their claim is true.



I am very happy with my purchase and next on my list is the nail polish C05.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Maybelline Baby Lips- Cherry me




I love lip balms...out of necessity :).
I use lip balms to moisturize my lips when I am not wearing lipstick and also before applying lipstick.
Not to mention those days when the temperatures go down and you have to deal with dry, chapped lips.

The discussions on Maybelline baby lips was all over the net and so I grabbed it when I saw them on one of my shopping spree.

The Maybelline website claims that it will moisturize the lips for a full 8 hours and that its like clinical care for baby soft lips.
(Link to website)

I bought the shade called ' Cherry me' (there is something about red shades that attract me; maybe its my asian genes ...lol)


The packaging is very cute. 
Cherry me is a dark red tinted lip balm housed in a yellow tube and the outer cover is transparent.
It is clearly printed on the tube that it is for adult use only. 
The expiry date is 24 months from the date of opening.
The ingredient list is not printed on the tube (even the Maybelline website doesn't give the ingredients).

I have used this lip balm for a while (the picture says it all :)) now before reviewing it.

The lip balm has a light berry smell (I just feel like eating it) and glides easily on the lips. It leaves a light reddish tint on the lips (the intensity of the tint will vary according to the colour of the lips). It leaves a glossy shine, not too much, to the lips. The lips are hydrated and remain so for a long time. Even after drinking a few cups of water/tea/coffee, my lips were still hydrated and I didn't feel the need to reapply. So I feel their 8 hour hydration claim is true.But honestly, who cares if it stays for 8 hours. I for one, automatically reaches for a lip balm after every meal or washing my face. This lip balm is a million times better than Labello.

The lip balm leaves the tint behind even though the glossiness fades after sometime. So, one can use this lip balm as a lipstick on those days when you are not in the mood to wear heavy duty lipsticks. And it did help in making my lips smooth.

Also the packaging is quite travel friendly. I am that girl who always has a lip balm and lip stick in her hand bag. So a big yesss for me. 

It's easy on the pocket too. I bought it for 1.750KD and it is available in Maybelline kiosks in LuLu hypermarket, Boots and Vavavoom.

Maybelline baby lips's cuteness factor combined with good performance, has earned my loyalty to it.

It's definitely worth re-purchasing.

Now I have to try the other flavors/shades tooo.



Thursday, February 11, 2016

Home made Mukhwaas(mouth freshner)


Every Indian restaurant serves this at the end of a meal. Mukh means mouth and waas means smell.
Some restaurants serve slightly roasted fennel seeds with small sugarcane cubes while others serve it with candied cumin seeds and sesame seeds.

Mukhwaas not only helps in controlling bad breath, it also helps in digestion.

My last visit to an Indian restaurant got me thinking...Why not try making this at home? 
I am a person who likes to try out a lot of stuff at home. Lol. I should hang a board outside my kitchen which says ' Do not disturb; experiment going on;.

I tried making mukhwas by mixing fennel seeds and small sugarcane cubes. It was ok but the taste of the raw fennel seeds would deter me from having it :(.

So what to do next? Google of course...
I googled and found a million recipes on the net. Black sesame seeds, white sesame seeds, flax seeds, rose petal jam, coriander seeds etc etc a lot of stuff goes into making mukhwas ...phew; 

Finally, I made mukhwas out of what I had at home.

Fennel seeds - 2 cups
White sesame seeds - 1 cup
Lemon juice - half of a lemon 
salt - 1/2 tsp
water - 2 tbsp

Add salt into the lemon juice; add water and mix well. Pour this mixture into the fennel seeds and mix well. The fennel seeds will be wet. Leave it undisturbed for 5 minutes. Then dry roast the fennel seeds.The fennel seeds will crackle when they are roasted well.  After that dry roast the sesame seeds. The sesame seeds will roast faster than the fennel seeds, so you need to be extra careful. Mix  the roasted fennel and sesame seeds and home made mukhwas is ready. 

And it tastes good too. 

Yep, taste matters.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Moong Dal Kichdi- a comfort food



Kichdi is a comfort food for me. 
It is a one pot meal.
It is easy on the stomach and nutritious as well.
The mushy and colorful kichdi is a feast to the eyes. Even kids will like it (you can try this recipe for those picky eaters).
Pair it with some raita and pickle, or just plain yogurt and enjoy this plateful of goodnees.
Yum.


Here is my version of Kichdi.


Ingredients:
1. Basmati rice - 1 cup
2. Moong dal - 1/2 cup
3. Beans  - 1/2 cup (chopped)
4. Carrot  - 1/4 cup (chopped)
5. Potato  - 1 (medium size, chopped)
6. Green chilli  - 2 (chopped)
7. Tomato (medium size) - 1 (chopped)
8. Ginger paste - 1/2 tsp
9. Garlic paste - 1/2 tsp
10. Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
11. Coriander powder - 1/2 tsp
12. Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
13. Onion - 1 (finely chopped)
14. Oil - 1 tbsp 
15. Ghee - 2 tbsp
16. Salt - to taste
17. Water - 2 1/2 - 3 cups

Method:


Wash and soak the basmati rice and moong dal for about 30 minutes.

Heat oil & ghee in a pressure cooker. 
When the oil becomes hot, add the cumin seeds. The cumin seeds will splutter and will emanate a nice aroma; add the finely chopped onion. Let the onion turn translucent and then add the veggies, green chilli, ginger and garlic. Cook this for about 5 minutes and then add the chopped tomatoes. Continue cooking till the tomatoes are mushy and soft. Now add the coriander powder and turmeric powder. Saute till the raw smell is gone.

Now add the soaked rice and dal into the pressure cooker and give it a good stir. Make sure that everything is mixed well. Add water now. If you like it really mushy, add three cups or more water. Cover and cook for a maximum of 2 whistles.


Notes:
1. Fresh vegetables are the best to use in this recipe but you can use frozen vegetables too.
2. The water should be hot water.
3. The best oil for this recipe is vegetable oil.
4. You can add a few pieces of chicken to this dish (before adding the rice+dal mixture) to make it more nutritious and to trick those vegetable haters ;).




Dhathri chemparathi thaali

Thaali is used to clean the hair. The leaves (and sometimes the flowers also) of the hibiscus plant was crushed and the slimy liquid was used as shampoo. It was all so natural - no sulphates, no parabens, no added scents. No wonder our grandmoms and their moms and grannies had thick black hair , well into the old age. And here we are, the new generation, already cribbing about grey hair and hair loss.

Now a days who has time for all this
I came across Dhathri Chemparathi thaali while in India.
Thaali in a bottle...how convenient...now I definitely want to try this.
So I just grabbed it :D.
I have tried to make thaali at home by grinding the hibiscus leaves in the mixer grinder (much to the horror of my mom :D) and then using it to wash my hair. I used bucketfuls of water to get the tiny leaf particles out of my hair. When I saw this bottle I was like 'Phew, this saves so much of trouble of plucking, cleaning, grinding, cleaning the mess etc etc.'




This comes in a white bottle with a screw on cap. It is quite travel friendly since the quantity is less and it can be screwed tight.

It claims that it supports hair growth and can control dandruff. The expiry date is 18 months from the date of opening and three years from the date of manufacturing. And it is also stated on the bottle that it is clinically tested.


It is a light greenish coloured liquid with a herbal smell.The consistency is thick and slightly runny like a shampoo. The instructions says to use about 5ml of the thaali (i.e. about  a capful) on wet hair; massage well and leave it on for about 2 minutes. Then wash the hair with plenty of water. 

This does remove dirt from hair and can be used as a everyday cleanser. It doesn't strip the hair of all the natural oils and leaves the hair shiny. There was a noticeable difference in dandruff reduction as well.But heavily oiled hair will have an issue. I thought I would have to use the entire bottle if I have to remove all the excess oil.

The ingredient list doesn't state about the presence of any preservatives but then one starts wondering how does a product in a bottle will stay good for three years (but you will use up the entire bottle before three years since the quantity is less). 

All in all its is a mild cleanser which can be used everyday. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Corn flakes laddoo

Are you craving something sweet?
Here is one recipe that can be made in a jiffy that can double up as an evening snack as well as curb those sugar cravings.
This laddoo will be enjoyed by both kids and adults.... I promise :)
The ingredients are stuff which are available in your pantry almost always.
(Recipe adapted from here or https://www.facebook.com/UppuMangaa/)



Ingredients:

1. Cornflakes - 1 cup
2. Grated coconut - 2 tbsp
3. Sugar - 4 tbsp
4. Cashew nuts - 5
5. Peanut butter - 2 tbsp
6. Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp

Method:

Coarsely grind the cornflakes in a dry grinder. 
Transfer this onto a plate and powder the cashew nuts and sugar next. 
Heat a wide pan on the stove (preferably non stick) and add the coconut. 
After about 20 seconds, add the ground cornflakes, sugar and cashew mixture as well as the cardamom powder. Stir well. Then add the peanut butter to this mixture and keep stirring until all is combined well.
Switch off the flame and immediately make small balls out of the above mixture.
Serve it immediately and I promise it will vanish in no time.


Notes:
1. You can use desiccated coconut if fresh coconut is not available.
2. Add a bit of melted ghee if you find it difficult to make the balls.
3.You can grind the cornflakes, sugar and cashew together. Since I prefer the cornflakes to     be of a coarse texture rather than a powder, I prefer to grind them separately.



Monday, February 8, 2016

Semolina(rava) Upma



Upma is a breakfast item in south Indian households and it is one dish which can be prepared in no time if you have all the ingredients ready beforehand,
You can use semolina,or wheat rava or oats to make upma. I  tried quite a few recipes till i found a method that works for me.

So here goes my tried and tested version for soft fluffy upma.

Ingredients:
1. Upma (semolina)  - 2 cups
2. Shallots - 8 - 10
3. Ginger (minced) - 1 - 11/2 tsp
4. Green chilli - 2
5. Cashews - 10  (optional)
6. Raisins - 1/4 cup (optional)
7. Water (hot) - 2 cups
8. Oil - 1 tbsp
    Ghee - 2 tbsp
9. Urad dal - 1/2 tsp (optional)
10. Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
11. Curry leaves - a sprig (optional)
12. Salt - to taste


Method:

In a wok, heat the oil and ghee. Add the mustard seeds to this. When it starts spluttering add the urad dal(if using). 
Then add the chopped green chillies, give it a stir and add the minced ginger. 
Fry these for about 30 seconds and then add the chopped shallots. Add the curry leaves if you are using it.
When the shallots turn translucent, add the cashews and the raisins.
Keep sauteing on a medium flame till the raisins become plump and the cashews also starts to brown.

Now add the semolina. Mix everything really well. Keep sauteing till the semolina is roasted (this will take about three minutes). 
Add the two cups of water into the semolina mixture. Add salt at this stage.The semolina will absorb all the water and become lumpy. Keep stirring it to break the lumps and cook the upma for a further 5 minutes. 

Soft upma is ready.

You can have upma with pickles or coconut chutney or chickpeas(chana dal) curry.
But my favourite combo is upma and banana.

Notes:
* Even roasted semolina needs to be heated up a little; so don't skip this step.
*You may feel that the amount of oil and ghee is used too much but honestly, this is the first meal of the day and I say you should feast like a King :) :). The ghee is really good for the stomach (according to Ayurveda) and it keeps you satiated for a long time.
* You can add carrots, beans, peas and capsicum to the dish if you wish. Just add them after adding the shallots and cook them before proceeding to the next step. Alternatively, you can add steamed veggies also.
* The semolina to water ratio should be 1:1
* It is always best to use hot water for this recipe.




Thursday, February 4, 2016

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Tea infuser





I bought this cute tea infuser from Centrepoint.

What i found attractive about this was its shape and the colour. There is something about green colour which you automatically associate with nature ,tranquility, peace and calm.

The base is made of stainless steel and the top is made of silicone. The top fits snugly into the steel bottom. 
It's really easy to clean as well.


Now I am off to drink my green tea.....
I prefer to use loose green tea leaves instead of tea bags because i had read on the internet of the potential health hazards associated with tea bags and that really scared me. Another reason is : I had the chance to visit a tea factory in Srilanka and one of the guys there told me that first the loose green tea leaves are packed and the left over green tea leaves and tea dust goes into making green tea bags. So that was like him confirming what someone had told me earlier. Why go for second hand stuff eh! lol[there are a lot of varieties of tea out there but my favourite is green tea and so the emphasis on green tea here]




Monday, February 1, 2016

The Body Shop - Almond hand & nail butter



The Almond hand and nail butter from the body shop is definitely one of the best hand creams out there. I have dry hands and the cuticles also get very dry and this butter is a life saver. It contains sweet almond oil and brazil nut oil, both of which has moisturizing properties.
Sweet almond oil is produced from almonds that are edible[bitter almond oil is from wild almonds]. Almond oil has excellent moisturizing property.Brazil nut oil hydrates and moisturizes the skin.
A combination of both in one hand cream  = happy hands :).

It is thick and creamy with a slightly sweet smell. It is not greasy and gets absorbed into the skin very easily. I keep washing my hands throughout the day and a tiny amount of this cream is required for me to keep my hands hydrated.

As stated on the lid, it is suitable for all skin types. A small amount is required to moisturize those dry cuticles and hands.

It is available in tubes (i guess its aluminium) with screw on tops;which is travel friendly; and for those who have hygiene issues.
Personally i feel there is product wastage if it is in a tube. The tube will look ugly (battered and crinkled and crushed) after sometime. But on the positive side, it is not a plastic tube.

I had tried the cranberry hand lotion also from the body shop but the almond hand butter was far far far better than that.

Final verdict: i love the almond hand butter and will definitely repurchase it.



Athapookalams 2017

Onam was celebrated way back in September and there was a Pookalam competition also held then. My post is a bit late and but none the less ...