Kitchen and food, Recipes

Red Chori (Adzuki Bean) Salad

On my last visit to Indian store I picked up a packet of small red beans called Red Chori. I had never seen or heard of them before so did a quick google search to find that they are a nutritional powerhouse.


These are also called Adzuki beans and are quite popular in Japanese and Chinese cultures. Like other beans Adzuki is high in nutritional value – rich in protein, fiber and folic acid. 100 grams of cooked beans contains about 28 grams of carbs, 8 grams of fiber, 8 grams of protein and less than 1 gram of fat. Carrying about 1.3 calories per gram, Adzuki beans make a low-energy-dense food, meaning they are a dieters delight!  

In addition they pack good amounts of Potassium, Iron, Phosphorus, Copper, Folate and Manganese and are very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. While having a high protein content, Adzuki beans do not contain all of the essential amino acids, making them an incomplete source of protein. It is therefore required to supplement your diet with other protein rich foods. 

Having no previous knowledge of how to cook Adzuki bean, I looked for an easy recipe and came across a Japanese bean salad which I modified to suit my Indian palate. Here is the salad recipe I tried:

Ingredients :

1/2 cup dried red chori beans

1/4 cup finely chopped spinach 

1 teaspoon olive oil 

1/4 cup finely chopped coriander leaves

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 pinch crushed red chilly flakes

1 tablespoon lime juice

2 carrots, thinly grated

Salt to taste

* 1/2 cup chopped green onion (Optional)

* 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger (Optional)

*1/2 teaspoon grated garlic (Optional) 

Method:

Soak beans in water for about 8 hours. Drain them and pressure cook with fresh water and a teaspoon of salt. Turn the gas off after 1 whistle. Drain and set aside to let cool completely. 

Combine all other ingredients and gently toss with cool beans to make a salad. 

Enjoy!

– A

 

 

 

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Book Review, Books

Karna’s Wife – Book Review 

Mythology was never a genre I paid enough attention to until I read The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Divakaruni. I was highly impressed by the book (read my review on The Palace of Illusions here) and it made me want to read more books on the subject. 

While Mahabharat is full of interesting characters, I found Karna a tad more intriguing than others. He was a good man but he supported the wrong side in the war, he was a noble person but he encouraged public shaming of Draupadi, he was the most generous soul but he craved for his birth mother’s love until the end, he was the greatest warrior but he died a pitiful death. I hoped Karna’s Wife would shed more light on his mysterious personality. The book does that but there are many things I could not digest. 

For starters, the book portrays a larger than life picture of Uruvi, who by the way is a fictional character created by the author Kavita Kane. Since she’s the main protagonist she was everywhere, she was even one of the reasons for the enemity between Karna and Arjun. I understand why the story has to revolve around her but putting a fictional new character in the centre of an epic I have heard and watched umpteen number of times made it sort of confusing.

Quite surprisingly Draupadi is mentioned everywhere in the book too. When Uruvi is having an intense conversation with Bhanumati about Karna and Duryodhan they don’t talk about Draupadi or anything that could be related to her yet the author writes about Uruvi’s feelings about Draupadi and Karna pining for each other. When Uruvi and Karna are relishing family time and talking about Karna’s sons Uruvi brings up Draupadi out of the blue. These frequent and unexpected references start feeling repetitive soon and Uruvi comes across as highly insecure wife thinking of Draupadi and Karna all the time. 

The book has glorified Karna beyond reason. Everything about him has been revered, even his role in the Vastra Haran. What Arjun did, rather didn’t do was shameful but what Karna did was no less. Uruvi’s mother and Kunti both tell her Karna is a better man than Arjun and that’s good enough to stay married to him.

I’m not convinced how someone with a heart of gold can be so spiteful that he forgot all boundaries and dignity. And he’s supposedly in love with the woman he publicly wanted naked!!! What kind of twisted love is that? How can someone glorify this disgusting emotion? How could Kunti of all people say it was OK to call Draupadi a whore because that’s what she is…. Maybe that was the mother in her talking, but I was so disgusted that I almost stopped reading the book. I was as aghast as Uruvi herself and couldn’t buy the logic that because Kunti was called a whore herself its no big deal if Draupadi was called one too.

Because of the same premise I continued to compare the book to Palace of Illusions, I know it’s not fair but I couldn’t help myself. It doesn’t even come close. The language is fine but the author has spelled out every single thing to the readers which I found very annoying, especially because it’s something we have watched, read and heard atleast a thousand times already. For example there was absolutely no need to tell the Arjun and bird’s eye story, she could have just referred to it and moved on with her tale. Similarly few scenes between Uruvi and her parents seem to have more dialogue than required. Overall there seem to be too many words in the book, and considering Uruvi is the central character more than required are written on Draupadi and Karna.

Uruvi’s confrontation with Kunti is the best part of the book. It’s harsh but spot on. Although here also the author has said the same thing in a couple of different ways making her arguments a bit repetitive. 

While the book has its flaws, the author did her research well. I learnt some new things about Mahabharat which is a huge deal given the number of times we have heard the story before. There is a tale about Shakuni’s brothers which tells why he pledged to end Kuru clan, then the story of Duryodhan’s defeat at Dwaitvana and seize by Gandharva King resulting in his fast unto death and some more. 

Despite the lengthy details there appear some gaps in the story –

“Arjuna shot another astra—the Aindrastra—at him. Karna could have invoked the invincible Brahmastra to counter it but he suddenly froze. It was as if he had lost all his ability to think! I tried to distract Arjuna so that Karna could have time to retaliate, but it was futile. It was as if no one stood between them now—it was just Karna and Arjuna.”

So what happened after the Aindrastra was shot but not countered by Karna?? How was he not hurt? 

Kavita Kone writes that Salya was impressed by Karna’s skills the day of his death and had apologized to him, if it was indeed so why did he not help when the wheels were stuck. Kavita Kone hasn’t mentioned Salya even once during the duel between Karna and Arjuna, even though Salya’s behavior that time ultimately lead to Karna’s death.

At some places the book lacked the right emotional balance. Like after the war when the Pandavas visit Vrushali and Uruvi, Uruvi starts naming the six people who deceived Karna and how. The facts she presents and the details she shares make it seem like a well rehearsed speech rather than a mourning wife telling Arjun to not feel guilty of killing his own brother. During the same visit Krishna telling Uruvi why they had to kill Karna the way they had to feels more like another way to sing Karna’s praises and lacks the right emotion given the situation. And why did they say they have come to take Uruvi and her son with them, why not Vrushali? Vrushali was their brother’s wife too!

Overall, it’s a very detailed and lengthy read which didn’t meet my expectations. I feel the book can be edited and made more crisp and enjoyable. If you do want to read it please do that before picking up The Palace of Illusions. If however you have already read The Palace, you should skip this one.

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

-Aparna 

Book Review, Books

Shopaholic To The Rescue – Book Review

Shopaholic series was my first introduction to Sophie Kinsella and boy I was hooked! The first couple of books were so entertaining and addictive that I looked up her other books and over the years read them all. When my daughter was born reading took a deep dive. I was too busy being a mom that I forgot to take time out for reading.

Couple of years later I stumbled upon Shopaholic To The Stars in an in flight entertainment package and it ignited a spark. I had read every other book in the series and adored them all. Shopaholic To The Stars was not a great book but I sort of felt obligated to read it and when it ended with a cliffhanger I had to read the next part Shopaholic to the Rescue too!

Sophie Kinsella created a brilliant character of Rebecca Bloomwood. She’s silly but funny and charming, vain but generous, is extremely spendthrift but has a heart of gold. She is always getting in trouble but with a sweeping stroke of luck she’s not just able to fix everything but also ends up helping someone in a sticky situation. Her stories are shallow but fluffy and heartwarming at the same time. No wonder she was such a hit in print as well as on screen. But by the 8th book Rebecca started to feel more annoying than funny, more stupid than smart and her stroke of luck became all too predictable.

Shopaholic to the Rescue is too stretched and lacks the fun quotient of the earlier books. There were a few times while reading when I questioned myself why I’m reading this book. I do hope Sophie Kinsella doesn’t write another Shopaholic novel because if she does I will HAVE to read it and then I’ll curse myself for not reading something more worthy of my time.

Please avoid if you can. If like me you can not NOT read Sophie Kinsella then I hope you find it more fun than I did!!

I do like to emphasize that I LOVE Sophie Kinsella and would continue reading all her books, its just the Shopaholic series that I have gotten tired of.

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

– A