Sunday, January 31, 2016

Recipe : Kurkuri Arbi

Arbi... one of the humble vegetables, I loved eating it, but never dared to cook it. Reason was simple - the whole exercise of washing them, drying them, peeling them and cutting them like my mom, was too much of a task - it was time consuming and difficult. 
But then, I learnt a new way of cooking this humble vegetable post marriage from my mum-in-law. Not only, it was the easiest recipe but at the same time, it was even more delicious - made using most basic of ingredients.
Here's my mum-in-laws super simple recipe...


Difficulty Level : ☆
Time Required : 
          Preparation - 30 minutes
          Cooking - 30 minutes


INGREDIENTS:
Arbi 500 gms
Oil 2 and 1/2 tbsp
Ajwain 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida (Hing) 1/4 tsp
Salt To Taste (I used 1 and 1/2 tsp)
Red Chili Powder 1/2 tsp
Haldi 1/4 tsp
Dhaniya Powder 1 tsp
Coriander for garnishing

PROCEDURE:

1. Boil arbi. Let it cool and peel the arbi (this is the most easiest way of peeling arbi).
2. Cut it into pieces.
3. Take oil in a wok and let it heat.
4. Add ajwain and let it splutter.
5. Add remaining spices and mix.
6. Add arbi to the wok. Mix it well.
7. Cook on slow heat till its golden brown and crispy. Mix occasionally.
8. Transfer to serving bowl, garnish with coriander and serve hot.




ADDITIONAL NOTEWORTHY POINTS:
1. Keep the pieces big in size about 1 inch by 1 inch.
2. When leaving on slow heat to cook, spread the arbi across the wok so that it cooks evenly.

Cook with Love...

Friday, January 22, 2016

Nerdy Talk : Reading Challenges

So I thought, I will shed some more light on the reading challenges I have undertaken for the year. Like I mentioned in my previous nerdy talk post that I have taken up 3 challenges which are sort of interrelated in the sense that one challenge complements another and so they sort of overlap each other - let me discuss them in detail...

Goodreads Challenge :
40 books | current status : 3/40
It's s simple challenge, where you just set a target to read a certain number of books in the given year. Last year I had set myself to read 30 books, I managed 43. This year I have decided on 40 books which coincides with my PopSugar Reading Challenge.
The picture on the right is my summary from Goodreads for the year 2015 --->





PopSugar Reading Challenge :
40+1 books | current status : 2/41
This is the first time I have taken up a challenge like this. Basically PopSugar has provided with 40 different categories without specifying the book, which you are supposed to cover in the span of the year. I'm using this challenge to diversify my Goodreads Reading Challenge as well as put a dent in my TBR pile by including as many books as I can fit under various categories listed.
Right below is my book list that I'm using for various categories of the challenge.
I have checked off two categories in the list (marked in bold) and I'm still undecided of the books for some categories (marked in bold and italics)
  1. A book based on a fairy tale ---《The Lunar Chronicles : Cinder (Marissa Meyer)》
  2. A National Book Award Winner --- 《Salvage the Bones (Jesmyn Ward)》
  3. A YA bestseller --- 《The Lunar Chronicles : Scarlet (Marissa Meyer)》
  4. A book you haven’t read since high school --- 《Lolita》
  5. A book set in your state --- 《Delhi : a novel (Khushwant Singh)》
  6. A book translated to English --- 《The Girl In The Spider’s Web (David Lagercrantz)》
  7. A romance set in the future --- 《》
  8. A book set in Europe --- 《Tess of the D’Urbervilles (Thomas Hardy)》
  9. A book that’s under 150 pages --- 《Hogwarts Library : Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (J K Rowling)》
  10. A New York Times bestseller --- 《Hopeless (Colleen Hoover)》
  11. A book that’s becoming a movie this year --- 《Allegiant (Veronica Roth)》
  12. A book recommended by someone you just met --- 《Burial Rites (Hannah Kent)》
  13. A self improvement book --- 《Ramayana - The Game of Life : Stolen Hope (Book 3) (Shubha Vilas)》
  14. A book you can finish in a day --- 《Hogwarts Library : Tales of Beedle and Bard (J K Rowling)》
  15. A book written by a celebrity --- 《Mrs. Funnybones (Twinkle Khanna)》
  16. A political memoir --- 《Mein Kampf (Adolf Hitler)》
  17. A book at least 100 years older than you --- 《Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)》
  18. A book that’s more than 600 pages --- 《》
  19. A book from Oprah’s Book Club --- 《Love In The Time Of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez》
  20. A science fiction novel --- 《Gone Series – Lies (Michael Grant)》
  21. A book recommended by a family member --- 《Swiss Family Robinson (Johann David Wyss)》
  22. A graphic novel --- 《》
  23. A book published in 2016 --- 《Cometh The Hour (Jeffrey Archer)》
  24. A book with a protagonist who has your profession --- 《Where Did You Go, Bernadette (Maria Semple)》
  25. A book that takes place during summer --- 《A Midsummer Night’s Dream (William Shakespeare)》
  26. A book and its prequel --- 《Divergent Series - Four (Veronica Roth)》《Divergent Series - Divergent (Veronica Roth)》 
  27. A murder mystery --- 《The Girl On The Train (Paula Hawkins)》
  28. A book written by a comedian --- 《My Horizontal Life (Chelsea Handler)》
  29. A dystopian novel --- 《Divergent Series – Insurgent (Veronica Roth)》
  30. A book with a blue cover --- 《Two Years Eight Months and Twenty Eight Nights (Salman Rushdie)
  31. A book of poetry --- 《Twenty Love Poems : And A Song of Despair (Pablo Neruda)》
  32. The first book you see in a bookstore --- 《Dumplin》
  33. A classic from 20th century --- 《Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)》
  34. A book from the library --- 《Shadow of the Moon (M. M. Kaye)》
  35. An autobiography --- 《》
  36. A book about a road trip --- 《All The Bright Places (Jennifer Niven)
  37. A book about culture you are unfamiliar with --- 《Pavilion Of Women (Pearl S. Buck)
  38. A satirical book --- 《Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)
  39. A book that takes place on an island --- 《Robinson Crusoe (Daniel Defoe)
  40. A book that’s guaranteed to bring you joy --- 《Gone Series – Light (Michael Grant)
I will of course return to this post from time to time when I have decided on another book to fit an earlier empty category. 


A to Z Reading Challenge :
26 books | current status : 1/26
This is another simple challenge wherein you read books that have their titles and/or author names starting with each letter of the alphabet - so 26 letters - 26 books
As for my part of the challenge, my first preference would be for the book title and if I am unable to read a book starting with a particular letter, then I would consider a book I have read by an author name starting with that particular letter
As of today, I have managed to check of the letter(s):

H : High Heels (A. V. Scott)

I can consider the two books:
> The Girl in the Spider's Web
> The Girl on the train
for letter 'G' but I am putting that on hold because of the word 'The' at the beginning, if by the end of the year I cant fill up a G spot, then these two can fill up that spot.
I will be using this strategy for all my future reads where a/an/the would appear in title.

That's all from my side, what reading challenges have you taken up - do leave a comment...
Ciao Fellow Nerds!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Written Affair : Why Me?

Imagine yourself, facing problems in every direction you turn... What would you do? Most people turn to God and ask him - 'Why Me?' But then, God never answers... not directly at least. He does drop in hints which we fail to see... And thus we continue questioning his motives... This poem is about those endless questions we ask him...
But then, do answer yourselves after reading the poem, whether you still have the faith in him? Whether you still trust him?

Whenever I am happy
You leave me all sad...
I ask you... why?

Whenever I dream
You wake me up...
I ask you... why?

Whenever I smile
You leave tears behind...
I ask you... why?

Whenever I decide
You leave me all confused...
I ask you... why?

Whenever I am ready to choose
You take the options away...
I ask you... why?

Whenever I try to mingle
You leave me all alone...
I ask you... why?

Whenever I see rosebuds
You show me the thorns...
I ask you... why?

Whenever I speak
You leave no one to hear...
I ask you... why?

Whenever I leave
You block my way...
I ask you... why?

Whenever I question
You never reply...
And I ask you... why me again??

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Book Review : The Girl In The Spider's Web

Book Title : The Girl In The Spider's Web
Author : David Lagercrantz
Genre : Crime (Murder) Mystery / Suspense Thriller
ISBN : 9780857053503
Publisher : Maclehose Press
Publication : 2015
Pages : 437
Binding : Paperback


PopSugar Reading Challenge 2016 :
1/(40+1)《a book translated to English》
Goodreads Challenge :
1/40


Plot :
Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist return
She is the girl with the dragon tattoo - a genius hacker and uncompromising misfit. He is a crusading journalist whose championing of the truth often brings him to the brink of prosecution.
Late one night, Blomkvist receives a phone call from a source claiming to have information vital to the United States. The source has been in contact with a young female superhacker - a hacker resembling someone Blomkvist knows all too well. The implications are staggering. Blomkvist, in desperate need of a scoop for Millennium, turns to Salander for help. She, as usual, has her own agenda. The secret they are both chasing is at the center of a tangled web of spies, cybercriminals, and governments around the world, and someone is prepared to kill to protect it...


Goodreads Rating : 3.73 ☆'s
My Rating : 5 ☆'s

Review:
I love the Millennium Trilogy so much that when I first heard about the next book in the series, I was beside myself with joy. But it was short lived because of course the book wasn't written by Stieg Larsson but by David Lagercrantz. And then I was wary and I did something which I had never done before - I checked the reviews of the book on Goodreads and they weren't very convincing reviews. So I stalled buying the book till #flipkart sale happened and then I couldn't resist. But after that I stalled reading it - pushing it to the end of the year and then dragging it on into the next one -- only to realise what a fool I had been to do so (as is apparent from my rating). That's how much I enjoyed reading the book!
The biggest concern - author transition - it was seamless. Mr David has done justice to Larsson's work and I am quiet happy to see that Lisbeth Salander is in good hands. At no point in the book, did I feel the book was written by a different author - and you cannot do better than that! Hats off to you Mr David!
Yes, like all the other reviews say, Salander makes an appearance quiet late in the book - but that is not so, her presence is felt in there since the beginning and it's quiet fun to read how she was introduced and interpreted by different people.
Of course the books are about Salander and not really Mikael Blomkvist but the buildup before her entry is sort of needed.
I especially like how the character of Lisbeth's twin sister is developed as well as August Balder's. The plot is quiet well developed too - it's more closed, tighter if I may say so, which is actually better.
There is the required action and the anger and drama, oh and of course there's Lisbeth Salander because own it, we loved the Larsson books because of her. The book is fast paced and a page turner.
And the ending, the way, Lagercrantz has concluded the book, we know it's not the end - we know our favorite Lisbeth Salander will be back and will be back with a bang! My sorrow at the end of Millennium Trilogy has evaporated - I was sad because I knew there would be no more of her, but Lagercrantz has made sure that there will be more and it will be good.
If you loved Larsson, pick up Lagercrantz - you won't be disappointed guys!

Happy Reading!

Nerdy Talks : Happy New Year

Yes, yes I know, we are already 10 days into the new year and it's probably too late to be talking new year wishes and resolutions - but hey, never too late than never. So on this note, let's get on with the post, shall we...
Another year has gone by and I had tons to be thankful about in the year gone by - but about that in a different post; because this post I want to dedicate to saying my thanks to the #Bookstagram community on instagram.
It is only by chance, that I discovered this community but it helped me combine a multitude of things I love which is definitely worth thanking for.
Thus with a big thank you to everyone in the community I wish everyone a very happy and prosperous new year. And like every year, this year too has brought with it some 'new year resolutions' but a bit different than all the previous years. In the past, the resolutions have been broken and the excuse given is that resolutions are meant to be broken. And then each year, last resolution is to not break any of the resolutions.
So, what's different this year. Well it has to be the tone of the resolutions - because this year I made some bookish resolutions instead of the normal ones which are so hard to keep and go out the window before the month ends - so here goes nothing (*wink* tell me where you heard that phrase - hint, a really hot shirtless guy says it in the movie adaptation of a book *wink*) :

*Blogging*
Okay, *touchwood* I am doing a good job at maintaining the blog so far -- I just need to continue doing it!
*Maintain and Follow TBR jar*
There are so many incomplete books and books in my "To Be Read" pile - because after starting them, I thought maybe this genre, some other time when I'm in the right mood for that, which is never right -- and those books have been lying around for years now. Thus this resolution.
*Maintaining a Reading Journal*
As a kid, I used to jot down gist of the books I read, especially non fiction and then when fiction happened, that habit  was sort of lost to the 'want of reading books faster so I can read more' -- I want to pick it up again
*Book Buying*
Now that's a big one - since I have started reading extensively, I have become a book hoarder of sorts - so the plan is, now that the husband has been excessively generous and bought me a kindle this anniversary, to rationalize my buying -- buy physical copies of collector's editions (preferably on special occasions) and buy / get ebooks for everything else
*Reading Challenges*
So I decided to do two challenges - Goodreads challenge is to set a realistic goal of minimum reading to be done; but then it doesn't do to read and read whatever comes my way - thus the popsugar challenge which I'm using to diversify my reading. Popsugar challenge is also helping me accomplish my 1st goal since I'm adding those books to the challenge which I own but haven't read
Goodreads Challenge - 40 books
PopSugar Reading Challenge 2016 - 40 + 1 books
A to Z Reading Challenge - 26 books
(Will do another detailed post on reading challenges)
*Instagram (Bookstagram) Resolution*
Post at least one pic on instagram daily or try to (of course travelling and other unforseen circumstances will be excused)
And to facilitate that -- take up at least one monthly book challenge
Monthly challenges for the month of January are hosted by :
@thebookishfae (#tbfbookchallenge)
@brookenicole.reads (#bnrbookchallenge16)

So with the hope that this year, because the resolutions are related to what I love doing, I will see them (resolutions) through the year and with fingers crossed, let's kick in the new year!
Ciao Fellow Nerds!

Book Review : The Girl On The Train

Book Title : The Girl On The Train
Author : Paula Hawkins
Genre : Murder Mystery
ISBN : 9780857522320
Publisher : Random House Publication 
Publication : 2015
Pages : 324
Binding : Paperback

PopSugar Reading Challenge 2016 :
2/(40+1)《a murder mystery-》
Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge :
2/40

Plot :
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. 
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Goodreads Rating : 3.84 ☆'s
My Rating : 4.5 ☆'s

Review :
The book is written in self narrative of three women in form of their diary entries. It is an interesting format, but makes it a little bit difficult to grasp what is happening in the beginning when the time stamps of the three women is drastically different. It truly confuses the reader - I myself went forwards and backwards a several times. But once you get the hang of the events and their occurrence, you will manage to sail through easy.
So, once you're into the story - it's a fast paced, nail biting mystery. Towards the middle of the book, I felt like I am not reading fast enough - as the suspense build-up was so strong that you just wanted to know who killed the lady; but there were too many loose ends to be tied before you could get to the centre of the whole mystery.
It's a very nicely woven plot, the way the lives of the three women has been interlinked is so smooth. The suspense factor is great too as you cannot nail down one person - who is the murderer; you keep jumping the suspicion from one person to another as the story moves ahead and then back.
But once the culprit is revealed, the story doesn't end quickly making it a bit of a drag towards the end. Despite that, the end is quiet unexpected.
Leaving aside the two factors of the story, it being confusing in the beginning and a drag at the end (the reason for a 4.5 rating and not a 5.0 rating), it is a great read. A complete page turner which won't leave you disappointed rather wanting to know - what next? So pick it up and get ready for a roller coaster ride as you move through the lives of the three women.

Happy Reading!

Monday, January 04, 2016

Book Review : Something Happened On The Way To Heaven

Book Title : Something Happened On The Way To Heaven
Edited By : Sudha Murty
Genre : Anthology
ISBN : 9780143423928
Publisher : Penguin Publishing Group
Publication : 2014
Pages : 201

Binding : Paperback

About The Book :
The inspiring true stories of the interesting people who inhabit the pages of Sudha Murtys books leave an indelible impression on us. But the books are able to chronicle the stories of only the men and women Mrs. Murty has actually come across herself in the course of her social work. There must be so many more wonderful stories that many others have to share. Something Happened on the Way to Heaven is a collection of twenty such memorable true life stories. Handpicked by Sudha Murty from a contest run by Penguin, they capture the hope, faith, kindness and joy that life is full of, even as we make our way through the daily grind. Moving and uplifting, this is an anthology that will engross and delight every reader who believes in the goodness of the human heart.

My Rating : 5☆

Review : 

The first book I read by the author was Wise and Otherwise and I was instantly hooked to her books and her writing. I definitely cannot claim that I have read all her works, indeed I have read only a few. But I do love reading her every chance I get. So as soon as I knew, her new book was in the market, I knew I had to buy this one.
Though on further reading about the book, I came to know that it wasn't a book truly authored by her. She just happened to select the stories that came her way through a competition organized by Penguin Books, edited them and compiled them into this book. But as Mr. Ravi Kumar commented on my review posted in Goodreads - "Reading her books is like getting her whole life experience without actually living it" and this book is no different.
Reading this book was a pure pleasure - you read one story and you felt this is the best inspiring story you could ever come across but that feeling only lasted till you finished reading the next one. Each story was completely different from others in the collection, unique and truly inspiring and it would either leave you heart filled with gladness, love, gratitude or it could leave you with goosebumps all over. Or maybe with a feeling, that cannot be described in words.
We have all felt disappointment at some stage of our lives or other, but these stories will help you restore your faith in yourself, in God and all things that happen - for you come out only stronger after having lived through each dark phase of your life.
This book is a must read for all. I hope you pick up the book and find inspiration in its pages that makes you stronger, restores your faith in all things possible and help you move forward.
Happy Reading!

Book Review : The Fountainhead

Book Title : The Fountainhead
Author : Ayn Rand
Genre : Psychological Novel
ISBN : 9781101990896
Publisher : Penguin Publishing Group
Publication : 
Pages : 720

Binding : Paperback

Plot :
The Fountainhead'​s protagonist, Howard Roark, is an individualistic young architect who chooses to struggle in obscurity rather than compromise his artistic and personal vision. The book follows his battle to practice what the public sees as modern architecture, which he believes to be superior, despite an establishment centered on tradition-worship. How others in the novel relate to Roark demonstrates Rand's various archetypes of human character, all of which are variants between Roark, the author's ideal man of independence and integrity, and what she described as the "second-handers". The complex relationships between Roark and the various kinds of individuals who assist or hinder his progress, or both, allow the novel to be at once a romantic drama and a philosophical work. Roark is Rand's embodiment of what she believes to be the ideal man, and his struggle reflects Rand's personal belief that individualism trumps collectivism.

My Rating : 5☆

Review :
First time I had read this book was in college, during my architecture years; when I was told that every architect should have read this book - at that time,  it was about fitting in and being able to say - yes I have read the book.
But for quiet sometime now, I had been wanting to reread it and boy what a beautiful read it was - not just architecturally but psychologically as well.
It's how Peter or Toohey manipulate to meet their ends and how they aren't even guilty for they can justify all of their actions with impeccable logic. The thought process behind their actions is something worth reading about - for it makes for such an interesting read.
It's how Roark sees his work, worships it. It's how he ignores everything except the function of the building to design it. It's about the principles he upholds with regards to his work. It's how he brings justice to himself and his innocence. Its just about his overall personality.
It's how Dominique and  Wynand compliment each other so beautifully - how they are replicas of each other but then they are not. It's how they appreciate what they love and what their criticism really means.
Each of these characters had such a strong personality and Ayn Rand did such a great job at character development that you really cannot pick and choose one over the other - of course not idealistically for according to her, Roark is the embodiment of ideal man and thus superior to others. And then there is how she has described the buildings - which is a sheer joy to read.
And as beautiful her writing and her character development is, as beautiful is the plot development - how she interlaced the lives of such diverse characters and made understanding their complex relationships to each other so easy, is worth mentioning here. Also the way she brings about a closure to the novel is also complete and you don't feel like you are missing out on something important, something crucial.
But there is just one thing and only one thing that makes me sad... I'm sad that when I reread it, it was an ebook and not a physical book for I couldn't put those markers or highlight the portions I would have loved visiting again - yes I know, bookmarks in any e-reader work just the same way, but it never truly is the same thing, at least not for me :/
Anyways, jokes apart, the book is a perfect balance of drama, romance, and psychology. Yes it's a must read for all architecture students and professionals alike, just because of Roark but at the same time, the book is a must read for anyone trying and wanting to understand human nature and psychology. And if you do pick it up, you won't be left disappointed - that's a promise. 
Happy Reading!