Recipes

4 Ingredient No Cook Chocolate Mousse 

Everyone in our house loves avocados except for the little miss. No matter how much we coax or attempt to bribe VMJ wouldn’t touch it. Given the health benefits I have been thinking about some creative way to incorporate it in her diet but never found any recipe which is concealing enough….. until I found this one!

Yes! The secret ingredient of instant chocolate mousse is avocado and before you start making that disgusting face let me assure you that the end product is absolutely delish and tastes only of rich creamy chocolate. That it takes only 5 min to make the mousse (before cooling) is an added bonus.

You will need:

1 medium Avocado

1/4 cups unsweetened coco powder

2 tbsp Sugar (I used unrefined cane sugar, you can use any kind that you have, or use healthier substitutes like jaggery powder or dates)

Milk as needed (about 1/4 cup)

Whipped cream and roasted nuts (for decoration, optional)

What you need to do:

Cut the avocado, discard the seed & any dark spots and scoop out the pulp. Add all ingredients in a blender and blend well. Add milk little by little to achieve the right consistency.

Pour in serving bowls and cool before serving.

Notes: 

  • I added choco chips but realized later that I shouldn’t have. 1. They are not blended as smoothly as other ingredients. 2. They don’t really enhance the flavor as the mousse is already chocolatey enough. If you do want to add, add them after you have blended rest of the ingredients.
  • You can make this dessert lactose free also by adding soy or almond milk and skipping the whipped cream.

Enjoy the healthy deliciousness without getting into the hassle of cooking and setting!!

Book Review, Books

Twenty Eight And A Half Wishes, Rose Gardener Series – Book Review


Shakespeare had said ‘What’s in a name’. I say – a lot, especially when it comes to a book from an author you have not heard of.

I stumbled across Twenty Eight and a Half Wishes when I was looking through free books on iTunes. I had not heard the author’s name before, there was nothing special about the cover but the name caught my attention. Needless to say I downloaded it right away.

Twenty Eight and a Half Wishes is the first book of the Rose Gardener series. Rose Gardener is a timid young girl, who lives in a sleepy little town and has been bullied by her mother all her life. With a boring job and ordinary appearance Rose has a dull life, barring only one thing – she has the gift of sight. She has visions of future and more often than not it lands her in trouble. It is the story of how her life changes when one day she sees herself dead! Having lead a sheltered life and being the prime suspect for her mother’s murder puts Rose’s life in a mess. A hot neighbor and a crazy crime lord add to the chaos. 

Why I waited until the last days of my life to feel pampered and beautiful. People tell themselves there’s plenty of time to do it all, but most of the time they never see death coming.

The book is very different from anything I have read before. It has mystery, drama, romance, comedy and decent measure of thrill towards the end. Denise Grover Swank is not a literary genius but her writing is fluent and fast paced. The story progresses with such slickness that you only look up once you reach the end. I enjoyed it so much that after reading the first book I went on to read the whole series:

Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons – Book #2

Thirty and a Half Excuses – Book #3

Falling to Pieces (Novella) – Book #3.5

Thirty-One and a Half Regrets – Book #4

Thirty-Two and a Half Complications-Book #5

Picking up the Pieces (Novella) – Book #5.5

Thirty-Three and a Half Shenanigans – Book #6

Ripple of Secrets (Novella) – Book #6.5

Thirty-Four and a Half Predicaments – Book #7

Thirty-Five and a Half Conspiracies – Book #8

Thirty-Six and a Half Motives – Book #9

The 9 book series is Rose Gardener’s journey from being a nervous naive girl to a strong and brave woman. She blossoms with each adventure she undertakes and becomes more enterprising and independent than she could ever imagine. Though trouble follows her everywhere and things don’t always go as planned, Rose learns to use her gift to her advantage and is able to form lasting friendships along the way.

What’s wrong with being different? Sometimes it’s good to stand apart from everyone else.

The threats in the book are menacing and some of the people she has to deal with are hardened criminals. People are killed and harmed but the books maintain a light-hearted feel. Things do go wrong for Rose from time to time when she is beaten, betrayed, hurt and fought with, so its not all rosy rosy for the lead character. But she learns from her experiences, has a logical way to approach situations, stands up for what she feels is right, believes in second chances and will do anything to protect the people she loves – even if it means crossing over to the other side of law. 

Rose starts the journey as a lonely bashful girl and by book 9 she evolves into a confident self-assured lady. Most readers will enjoy her transformation with each book. The books also get progressively mysterious when Rose’s mother and her past life come into the picture. There are some side stories too but nothing takes attention away from Rose for too long. The author has used funny phrases such as ‘crappy doodles’ and ‘stars and garters’ throughout the book. I wonder if there are people who actually use such phrases in everyday language. Some phrases and expressions have been used repeatedly. A little more creativity with words would have made the books more amazing.

The author has been able to sketch some fantastic characters, the one that stands out most is Rose’s best friend Neely Kate. She is sassy, smart and not to be messed with. She’s the best friend you wish to have yourself. Rose’s love interests change and have complex reasons for the way they are. Her relationship with her sister Violet goes through ups and downs most women will be able to relate with. I especially liked that the author has given much depth to all characters. There is a reason why a character is the way it is and the back story helps you understand each character’s quirks and demeanor better.  Sometimes the story is realistic, sometimes it is not but it never fails to entertain. It is easy to fall in love with heart warming Rose and admire her strength. You feel a tremor yourself when she puts up a strong facade even though she’s scared to death. I also found myself holding my breath everytime Rose got into a predicament.

We can’t know everything,” I said quietly. “Sometimes we have to write our own future.

I finished reading the last book in the series yesterday and was bowled over by the way the series was wrapped up. There were a lot of secrets that were revealed, quite a few surprises and the excitement kept me on the edge throughout the second half. The author was able to get great momentum going in the last couple of books which lead to a grand climax. The built up and the finale were both very thrilling and I couldn’t put the book down. I was sad thinking its the last book in the series but much to my relief Denise Grover Swank is coming up with another series with the same characters – Family Jewels. There are still a couple of unanswered questions which I am sure will be unraveled in the new books. I can’t wait to read more about Rose, Neely Kate, Jed and Skeeter – all very interesting and endearing characters.

Do give it a try. The first book is free on iTunes anyway, but beware, it could be very addictive! 🙂

If you enjoyed this review and love reading books join me on The Book Club .

Cheers,

A

Recipes

Oven Baked Kurkuri Bhindi

I have always loved Bhindi. My mom makes this dry crispy bhindi that I took to school in my lunch almost everyday until the season lasted. Till date lot of my friends remember my tiffin’s Bhindi Parantha. 

I’m so embarrassed to admit that till date I haven’t been able to master my mom’s bhindi recipe. She’s given me all tricks and tips but it just doesn’t come out the way hers does. And after years of trying I have given up.

When I discovered kurkuri bhindi it was love at first bite. I learned to make it but didn’t cook often enough because it’s deep fried, until one day I found a baked recipe. I have made it successfully many times since. It’s super easy to make, no mess of frying. It’s healthy because it uses very little oil. And it’s 100% as crunchy and tasty as the fried version.

Cook time: 45 min (10 min to cut, 15 min to sit and 20 min to bake)

Serves:

Ingredients: 

250 gms Bhindi 

1/2 tsp Turmeric 

1/2 tsp Dry coriander powder 

A pinch of Chat Masala

A pinch of salt

A pinch of red chilli powder (optional)

1 tsp Oil (Any oil is fine. I used Olive oil)

Method:
Wash Bhindi and dry it on a kitchen towel. Once it’s dry cut in 4s lengthwise. Add salt, red chillies, turmeric, dhania powder, chat masala and oil. Mix well so that the masala sticks to the Bhindi uniformly. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees while you let the Bhindi with masala sit for a while. Cover the baking tray with aluminium foil and brush it lightly with oil. Spread the bhindi on the tray evenly and bake for about 20 min. Enjoy the crispy deliciousness!!

Note: Each oven is different so the time to get it perfectly crisp may vary.


Sorry for the bad pictures. Everytime I make they are gone within minutes, leaving me no chance to take a nice picture. 

A

Book Review, Books

What Alice Forgot – Book Review 


After thoroughly enjoying The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty, I wanted more. I got hold of What Alice Forgot which is a story of a girl with short term memory loss. I had read a book on the same theme by Sophie Kinsella couple of years ago and hadn’t liked it at all. Though I have always enjoyed Sophie Kinsella’s writing, ‘Remember Me?’ is her worst work in my opinion. Having already read a similar concept I had a fair idea of what to expect, but Liane Moriarty bowled me over again.

The story begins predictably – Alice had a great fall and loses 10 years of her memory. She remembers being pregnant with her first child, crazily in love with her husband, being socially awkward and very close to her sister. However in the decade that she forgets lot of these things have changed. What Alice Forgot is a story of her constant struggle to come to terms with the life of her 39 year old self with the innocence she had when she was 29. 

Liane Moriarty writes books that are a notch deeper than your regular chick lit. In this novel also she brings up serious issues such as infertility, death and divorce without making the book heavy. When Alice is fumbling to get control over her brand new life you tend to reflect on the choices you have made in the last decade yourself.  It made me sit back and think where I was 10 years ago, what kind of person I was, what were my dreams, what were my relationships like. I reflected on how I have changed in the past decade, things that have not turned out the way I was planning for them 10 years ago, things that turned out way better, things I would do differently now if I was my 23 year old self again, and things I like or dislike about the older me.

This book makes you realize that life is a rainbow of all kinds of memories. The good, the bad, the highs and lows all make us the person we are today. Sometimes all we need is to pull ourselves out and look at a situation from a distance to be able to see more clearly. Often we get so entangled in the minuscule details that we lose track of the larger picture. Who called first, who didn’t call back, who didn’t turn up for a party or arrived late, who didn’t give the ‘right’ reaction to a news, who was not supportive enough….. The list is endless. What’s funny and sad at the same time is that most of these things don’t even matter a few days later. You forget what had really happened and only remember the major fight you had over it. Lot of times relationships turn sour and looking back you can’t even identify one justifiable thing that created the rift. Sometimes you wish if only you could start over… 

Unfortunately like Alice we don’t get that chance, but the book does make you want to be a better person. Like Liane Moriarty earlier book The Husband’s Secret, What Alice Forgot also gives you food for thought and stays with you long after you have finished reading.

I have mentioned in my earlier review that Liane Moriarty seems to be an expert in human psychology. In this book also she has successfully captured the freakingly honest thought process of Elizabeth and the candid observations of Frannie. I also liked how the author discloses details one at a time – like slowly peeling the layers away, instead of getting the characters straight and then start story telling. It is very clever way of writing and makes the book more interesting. 

I associate lots of my memories with smells and could completely relate to Alice getting flash backs when she smells something familiar. The way her memory comes back in snippets is fascinating yet believable.

There are some stark similarities to The Husband’s Secret. Alice seems to be very similar to Cecelia of THS, Frannie seems to be like Rachel and Elizabeth seems to be like Tess. Though this book has a happy end, you do feel sorry for one character the way you do in THS. Maybe that’s the disadvantage of reading books by the same author back to back.

Overall a great read. Very entertaining and compelling. Highly recommended!! (4/5)

If you enjoyed this review and love reading books please join me on The Book Club .

-A

PS: A movie is being made on the book. I would want to watch even though I know I’ll say “the book was better” 😛

Motherhood, Mundane musings

An Everlasting Bond


The moment a girl is born,

The mother glows in maternal pride-

The pride of creating a new life.

She’s the first teacher who teaches her say ‘Ma’

She shares her first solitary hesitant steps,

And is always there

When her daughter needs love, support, inspiration.

She knows very well all her feelings – 

The occasional blues, the conspiratory giggles….

After all, she was also a girl at a time.

She watches her grow into a gorgeous lass,

Reaching her own shoulders,

Slipping in her own shoes.

She sees in her daughter her own youth.

 There comes a time, when she realizes

Her daughter has grown

To be a promising young lady.

And then, she stands back,

To let her take her own flight into adulthood.

She lets her move away from her shadow and her caring hearth.

Despite the distances,

Her words linger in her child’s life forever,

Scenting it with an aroma of love and goodwill.

At her daughter’s each sensible act

 She sees her grow a little older,

 And herself grow a little younger!

-A

PS: I had written the above piece way back in 1999. Don’t remember now what had inspired me to write something which I knew so little about. This poem is true for a son too but this is the way it was written. No bashing on that please!