Beyond the URL – Amrita and Vishal

Okay time for the 3rd edition I got hold of Amrita-Vishal from Sweet n Savory and made her write the replies. 🙂 I came across her through an event on my blog. [This is a special post as it is the 200th 🙂 ]

She is creative, beautiful and has a huge heart. She and her Husband, Vishal, have come up with the excellent blog hence this time on it is one plus one blogger free 😀 They love their daughter Vaanya to bits and I am sure they are excellent parents.

Here is their first post of the blog, it has many insights to offer.

Read on more about the couple who cooks together 🙂

1. Who is the person behind the blog? tell us something about yourself.

 The Sweet ‘n’ Savoury Blog was started by Amrita & Vishal, a husband wife duo, toshare our culinary ideas, experiments and recipes. Vishal is mainly into savoury dishes and Amrita is passionate towards baking and desserts, though not restricting ourselves entirely in it. Vishal is working for a very reputed Tea Growing and Processing Company while Amrita, a physiotherapist by profession, has left her hospital job to enjoy being a full time mother for the most beautiful daughter, Vaanya.

2. Take us through your blog journey

Our blog was started to connect our respective food crazy family to a common platform where we could learn, teach and share our food and recipes. We love to learn and experiment and thus strive to make dishes that are not only simple to make but exotic in flavours. Our blog is almost like a journal into the culinary world where we make notes and try and improve on techniques and flavours.

Our blog has grown from there to sharing and knowing other amazing bloggers and foodies who share the same passion and enthusiasm. Together it has made the blog more diversified and the food experience has grown substantially, taking our interest to another level. It is an overwhelming experience to share, appreciate and to be appreciated by amazing bloggers who are becoming friends as well.

3. Share the most proud moment as a blogger.

The proudest moment was to win two amazing books, The Muffin Bible and Cooking with sprouts, in blog events hosted by Pallavi of Cook-Eat-Burrrp. And anytime someone tries your recipe and gives you thumbs up for sharing it, is a winning moment.

4. What are your tips to keep a blog worthy of it’s followers?

Simple achievable recipes with locally found products is the key to attract a reader into reading your blog. Nobody wants exotic looking dishes which looks impossible to replicate in a home kitchen. Simple illustrations with realistic pictures makes you believe in the recipe. We also do not like an over accessorized blog with ads and unnecessary stuff. A simple clean looking blog which has its focus on sharing our experience of the recipe is what we strive for.

5. What are your other interests that keep you sane

Vishal is a musician who loves to strum his guitar and sing country songs. He is also a lot into reading.

Amrita shares the passion of music and loves to sing as well. Apart from singing, she loves needlework of all sorts especially crochet and tatting.

6. What kind of food the family appreciates? Does it affect the content on the blog?

As a family we are very versatile and love all kinds of food both in vegetarian and nonvegetarian. It does not affect the content at all as we share what we cook and eat at home.

7. How do you promote your blog?

By taking part in various food blog events and sharing our blog recipes on our page in Facebook-Sweet’n’Savoury

8. List out your top 5 favourite blogs that you love to follow [Should include 2 Indian Bloggers]

1. Cakes and more

2. A Homemaker’s Diary

3. King Arthurs Flour Baking Banter

4. Easycooking

5. Simple baking

9. Do you sometimes feel that you will not be able to blog after “X” Years/months? If yes, how do you deal with it

Never felt as such till date. Just that sometime our respective schedule becomes so tight that it becomes a little difficult to dedicate time to the blog. But it’s a true saying that ‘where there is a will, there will always be a way’. Furthermore, it’s the passion and the interest that drives more than anything else. Therefore blogging on food is more of a relaxation and a hobby than a task.

10. Final Question on personal effects:

Favourite cuisine-

Vishal- Continental and Chinese

Amrita-Indian

TV Show-

Vishal-Masterchef Australia and Sports

Amrita-Masterchef Australia

Book-

Vishal- ‘Today Matters’- John Maxwell

Amrita-Kite Runner

Beverage-

Vishal- Tea

Amrita- Cold coffee

Resturant-

Vishal- One Step Up

Amrita- Mainland China

Birthday-

Vishal- 27 july 1981

Amrita 1 may 1979

Film-

Vishal- Gladiator

Amrita- Serendipity

Music genre-

Vishal- Country. Instrumental and Soft Rock

Amrita-Anything as long as it is melodious

Gadget-

Vishal- Global Positioning System

Amrita- laptop

My purse must have-

Vishal- Money and ids.

Amrita- Money and lots of unwanted stuff!!

One habit I am proud of-

Vishal- Planning my day aheadeveryday.

Amrita-Cleaning


It was lovely to read about you guys and get to know more 🙂

Cheers

Karva Chauth- How and Why

Karva Chauth, contrary to popular belief, is miles away from being filmy. 🙂

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It is one of the most awaited and largely celebrated festivals among the women in Northern India.

So what is the deal with this festival? Here is a ready reckoner on KC \m/

When- The calculation of the date of Karva Chauth in 2012 is on the basis of the traditional Hindu calendar. Generally, Karva Chauth falls about nine days prior to Deepavali as Kartik Chauth somewhere in October and November.

Who- Karva Chauth is a fast kept by married women from Sunrise to moon rise who offer prayers seeking the longevity, prosperity and well being of their husband.

Story- Source: Wiki

A beautiful queen called Veervati was the only sister of seven loving brothers. She spent her first Karva Chauth as a married woman at her parents’ house. She began a strict fast after sunrise but, by evening, was desperately waiting for the moonrise as she suffered severe thirst and hunger. Her seven brothers couldn’t bear to see their sister in such distress and created a mirror in a pipal tree that made it look as though the moon had risen. The sister mistook it for the moon and broke her fast. The moment she ate, word arrived that her husband, the king, was dead. Heartbroken, she wept through the night until her shakti compelled a Goddess to appear and ask why she cried. When the queen explained her distress, the Goddess revealed how the queen had been tricked by her brothers and instructed her to repeat the Karva Chauth fast with complete devotion. When Veervati repeated the fast, Yama was forced to restore her husband to life.

In a variant of this story, the brothers build a massive fire behind a mountain instead and trick their sister by convincing her that the glow is the moon. She breaks her fast and word arrives that her beloved husband has died. She immediately begins running to her husband’s house, which is somewhat distant, and is intercepted by Shiv-Parvati. Parvati reveals the trickery to her, cuts her own little finger to give the wife a few drops of her holy blood, and instructs her to be careful in keeping the complete fast in the future. The wife sprinkles Parvati’s blood on her dead husband and, coming back to life, they are reunited.

Preparation-

  • It starts days in advance when women indulge in buying clothes, gifts, cosmetics, jewelry and puja stuff.
  • They put mehndi on their hand and/or feet.
  • This is a strict fast where women abstain from food and water. Also one needs to follow the same ritual as they do on their 1st Karva Chauth.
  • They wake up at 4am, take a shower, get dressed in some color preferably red or pink.
  • They are supposed to put sindoor, bindi, wear jewelry and most women change toe rings on this day.
  • They eat something before the sunrise and drink some water. This is called Sargi. It comes from the Mother In law. Usually it is Pheni, matthi, dry fruits and the kind.
  • Before the sun set, women gather for the puja. Here the women wear finest of clothes and jewelry. The puja thali is exchanged by women sitting in a circle 7 times.
    The eldest lady of the group is the one who recites the story. Cow dung is used to create Goddess Parvati.
  • The woman observing fast takes out bayna for the mother in law. One may give dry fruits, clothes or anything one pleases. This is placed with the puja thali.
  • In the thali there are 2-3 fruits, a pot of water and a diya made of wheat dough.
  • When the moon rises, women place the diya in a sieve and see the moon with it and then see the husbands face. Then feed some sweet and water to the moon. The husband then feeds some water and sweet to the wife, in turn wife touches his feet and receives a gift. 🙂
    The fast is then considered complete.

This being my first karva chauth there were a lot of things I had to take care of. Since I had to ask a lot of people for all this, so penning it here shall help someone sometime I am sure.
I am a punjabi girl married into a Gujarati family. This fast is not observed in their side. However Neemda teej is their version of KC.

Ladies please remember these things 🙂

  • Wear something pink/red in the morning for the sargi.
  • Keep a thali, channi/sieve and lota [avoidable in case you use the earthen karva] separately. Dont use it for any other purpose.
  • The puja thali is given to the mother in law after the puja and she returns it to you with her blessings.
  • You must not use scissors and needles on the day of observing the fast.
  • Most women wear their bridal attire for the puja. However do cover your head with the chunni you get in the wedding.
  • The bayna for the mother in law that you take out on the 1st KC shall be the one you will be taking out every year.
  • After the puja aka around late evening, do take some tea/sip of water/juice as you please as in the coming years specially pregnancy time this shall come in handy. Remember there is NO harm in doing so.
  • My mom asked me to put 10 steel glasses filled with rice along with 2 glass bangles and a bindi packet in the puja. These shall be given as a gift to 10 married women.
  • Try not to wear anything blue/brown/white/black.

Dinner:
Generally a feast is prepared for the family which can be pooris, halwa, subzi, chole etc.

Tips to not think about food or water:

  • Remember what you are doing this for. No matter how advanced your career is, this is something to be done with all your heart without an iota of doubt or cribbing about the fact that this is a bygone ritual.
  • Have girl friends around, if not physically, then atleast on call/texts/BBM’s. [Love ya Sheelu, Suddu, Neha and Khushi :* ]
  • Keep yourself occupied.
  • Indulge in a spa or parlor if you are not at work.
  • If you are at work, just keep doing your bit but little consciously. 🙂 Also dont be afraid to dress up for the event. You can wear whatever you want and still do the work that is expected.

I shall be making Gobi-Aalu-matar  Ki subzi and pooris. On I love my in laws for being supportive and trying to help even though they don’t celebrate the function. The pati dropped me at work today so that I didnt have drive atleast 1 way and has promised to come early as well. 🙂

I hope I have no missed anything important 🙂 If I did then please write to me, I shall include it.

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November and its blessings

Yes Yes I know November is not here yet, but there are just too many things that are going to happen that I could not stop myself from writing the post. 🙂

Nov 1 is when my in laws arrive to celebrate Karva chauth and Diwali with us. Being the first diwali after the marriage, I am kinda looking forward to a great time with family and friends. Also I get to put Mehndi for karva chauth as much as I want ❤ aka to my hearts desire. This sounded never more cool 😀 But there are a few glitches, I need to manager evening snack n tea and Dinner. Moreover go to the station too. The MIL and SIL helped me plan a simple-ish menu for the day 🙂 So i hope I shall be able to manage it.

Nov 2 is Karva chauth. I need to make some sargi [food to be had before sun rise], take a shower, pray and get ready. Then I need to eat the sargi before sunrise and then live on no food and water for the entire day. With the erratic leave plan that I have, I dont have a leave to spare for 2nd. Hence I am working too wearing the taam jahaam [all the suhaag stuff aka choodis, mangal sutra, sindoor, toe rings n stuff]. I hope I can get to work early and leave early. But this shall also depend on the project I am assigned to. However post finishing work, I need to be home and cook a feast. There is puja that we perform where we read a story and sing a song while exchanging puja plates with other women. This is done 7 times. [More on this in a bit]. The we wait for the moon to show up [it is generally late-ish that day]. We then pray and get to drink water and eat something. Not to forget we get gifts too 😀

From then upto Nov 10th we clean the house to welcome Goddess Lakshmi.

Nov 11 is Dhanteras. It is the official beginning of Diwali. People but new utensils/gold and stiff and offer to the deity for blessings.

Nov 12 is Choti Diwali or Narka chaudas.

Nov 13 is Diwali. Lots of food, lights and prayers.

Nov 14 is Govardhan puja or Khenkra [Where we go to meet relatives and friends and exchange gifts]

Nov 15 is Bhai Dooj.  And this ends the 5 days of Diwali celebration 🙂

Nov 21st is Mom’s 50th  Birthday and our first Anniversary 😀

Nov 22 nd is Mom-Dad’s 29th Anniversary.

Phew…Hope I am not missing out on anything 🙂

Between this I have blogging events to be a part of, events to host, round ups to be made. God Bless me.

Have a blessed November guys.

Love

 

Ashtami puja at home

Ashtami or the 8th day of Navratri is one of the very dutifully celebrated days.

In my family [Mom’s family] we worship little girls/Kanjaka’s as Goddess Durga and seek their blessings. They are invited to the home and their feet are washed as a mark of respect for the Goddess Then they are offered gifts and food by the worshiper.

Due to change in lifestyle and working women around, the inviting girls at home got tweaked and we are allowed to give the offering to the girls without calling them our house. I followed suit and make little packets with 2 pooris, halwa, kala chana, banana, choco pie and INR 10.

I gave only one packet to a girl in our apartment. The rest were distributed to the less fortunate girls.

So like my mom has been doing for ages, I woke up early, took a bath and washed my hair [Its a part of the pooja ritual] and cooked the meal. I also made Dahi wale aalu for us in addition to the above. All the food was offered to the Godess. I performed the puja by reciting chants, Durga chalisa and aarti. A diya was made from wheat dough and it was lit with ghee and a cotton wick.
This Diya is then offered to a cow to eat or places under a tree of the temple.

This is the offering to the girls

And this is our Brunch 🙂

Cheers 🙂

Beyond the URL – Sheelu Agarwal

Oh she is my pet ❤ I met this wacky, crazy-for-crax, full of life girl after I got engaged to the pati, i.e. around April-may 2011. She was DH’s ex-roommate’s  wife. Phew it sounds kinda formal now 🙂

We are in love with whatever that comes out of her kitchen. The most note worthy things have been the kadhi chawal, mah ki dal, chole *slurrrppp*

Saurabh and Sheelu have just moved in to their own beautiful house/villa which is our vacation house. Once we plan to go to their place, we make sure we stay the night and come back only the next day. She blogs here and is an IT Manager.

Read more on her:

  • Who is the person behind the blog? Tell us something about yourself.

The person behind the blog… Sheelu Agarwal, now I don’t know how to put this… I am a software engineer, who used to love her work… but lately is out of work… 🙂 [She just joined an org.]

I am very patient… this my husband says is the best quality in me… so even if I have to make a dish that needs cooking for 1 hour.. I end up spending even more time on it.. But just want it to be perfect… 🙂

I am not a foodie but I love to cook… but thankfully my husband is a big time foodie and so are my friends… 🙂

  • Take us through your blog journey.

This blog started just like that… My brother in law was at our place and was making me go through his blog where he had completed around 97 posts and was like once 100 are done I need to publish an ebook and stuff…

I liked the thought and so started with my first post of Sooji Ka Halwa… My husband was like you should first post things you are best at… So came the name Ghar Ka Khana… 🙂

Then it was just, whatever I was making in the kitchen daily started appearing as a post on the blog… And of course thanks to you, Pallavi, for being there and guiding me throughout and also promoting my blog… 🙂

  • Share the most proud moment as a blogger.

My first award… 🙂 One lovely Blog award… That is till date my proudest moment… It was not at all expected… People have shown lots of love to me in just a little time…J and I cannot really say much thanks to all…

  • What are your tips to keep a blog worthy of it’s followers?

I try to put in my real experiences with every dish… and how that dish actually made me its proud chef… I think the daily things that we do in the kitchen even the smallest tip or trick might be helpful to someone… So anything I pen down should be blog worthy…

  • What are your other interests that keep you sane?

Music… I love it… I can listen to it at any time of the day any place… it is always soothing…

Books… I just cannot live without one… I always have one on me…J they say, Books are your best friends…

  • What kind of food the family appreciates? Does it affect the content on the blog?

We being a nuclear family, just me and my husband… so it is quite easy to prepare and experiment almost anything… But I mostly cook Indian dishes… Trying to explore some other cuisines lately… Let’s see how they come out…

The other people who are regulars at my home, are the friends… who are not at all fussy about the food and they eat anything… 🙂

  • How do you promote your blog?

Not come up to that yet… I try to participate in the ongoing events to the max…

  • List out your top 5 favourite blogs that you love to follow [Should include 2 Indian Bloggers]

Now this can be tricky…

  • Do you sometimes feel that you will not be able to blog after “X” Years/months? If yes, how do you deal with it?

I don’t know, never thought about that… I think I will keep blogging till I have something new to cook…

  • Final Question on personal effects:

Favourite cuisine- Chinese

TV Show- I prefer watching movies

Book- Many to name… Hobbit maybe, or Atlas Shurgged…

Beverage- Tea

Resturant- Sahib Sindh Sultan

Birthday- 5th May

Film- Serendipity

Music genre- Old Movie songs

Gadget- Grinder in my kitchen… will soon be a food processor…

My purse must have- Comb

One habit I am proud of- Washing everything (maybe multiple times) before cooking

Thanks for the lovely replies Sheelu.

Much Love

Kids Delight – Chocolate – Winner

Well well I didnt brag much about it yet. 😀 But yes I won the Kids Delight- Chocolate give away. yayyy *trumpet*

It was held at Ribbons and Pasta and Vaishali ji is a fabulous host. In fact she is the hostess with the mostess.

This is what I won

I got a mini beater, a brush, sandwich cutter and cup cake moulds.

I was thrilled to bits. I have shown the gift to probably everyone possible within 12 hrs of receiving it.

Sharing this here because it is because of this space that I am getting to where I want to be.

Love

Beyond the URL – Nandita Pai Shirali

I got to meet a really creative blogger during one of my blog event. She has a vision of the food she is going to cook in her head and that’s it, she shall go for it.

She loves food blogging and photography. She is one happy-go-lucky person 🙂

The blogger I am talking about blogs here and here.

The name is Nandita Pai Shirali. She is the first guest at Beyond the URL 🙂

More about her…

  • Who is the person behind the blog? Tell us something about yourself.

Hello there, I am Nandita Pai Shirali, a Konkani born in Cochin, Kerala; brought up in Chennai, Tamil Nadu and now settled in Bangalore, Karnataka! 🙂 I love to bring colour in everyday life and find happiness in those little moments in life. I love to reminiscent nostalgically over the treasured moments of the past, live up each moment as it comes by and dream of a lovelier tomorrow! 🙂

  • Take us through your blog journey.

I was not much of an enthusiastic cook back at home, when mum was the chief chef. Kitchen was a mum-thing and I used to venture in mostly to check out what was cooking and only at times to really work my hands around in there. It was an official trip to the States and a 2 yr stay away from home, which made me realize what a joy cooking can be. And this joy only increased in bounds post wedding, when I had one more tummy to feed and of course my very own kitchen kingdom!

My cooking was mostly experimental and I would click pictures of the final outcome to share with family back home. One day, around a year back, those many clicks of my successful experiments made me think of starting my own blog page, (mainly to help me remember the dishes I had successfully prepared in order to be able to recreate them!) What started in a very small way, has come to become one of my most cherished hobbies and a platform for me to reach out there and make new friends in the blogosphere.

  •  Share the most proud moment as a blogger.

When I started out, readers were very few and were trickling in very slowly.

One day, one of my readers sent me an email with the subject ‘Many Thanks!’ and ecstatically claimed she had ‘made her daughter proud of her’ for successfully baking Stuffed Bun from my blog and she had also attached a photo of delicious looking stuffed buns that she had baked! Oh, that made me realize my posts were actually of help to people out there! It definitely was my proudest moment so far 🙂

  • What are your tips to keep a blog worthy of it’s followers?

My moto is to keep it simple. Blog pages with too much going on distracts readers and I personally find it annoying when there are too many advertisements, bling animations and other fancy add-ons.

Recipes that are easy-to-follow, quick to dish out and that use every ingredients work well with readers. Step-wise pictures help. Being interactive and appreciative of your readers is important to keep them coming back.

  • What are your other interests that keep you sane?

I am deeply passionate about writing. I portray my writing here: My Little Space. Music, movies, long rides and good company of friends and family keeps me happy.

  • What kind of food the family appreciates? Does it affect the content on the blog?

My family loves the food I cook. Each person has a different preference… that works both ways for me… it gives me an avenue to try out different cuisines while it also makes it difficult for me to make a single dish and please one and all! But I have nothing to complain, as they are appreciative of my cooking and yes, it does help me get more content for my blog.

  • How do you promote your blog?

I do not do much to promote my blog. I have a Facebook page for my blog where I share my blog posts. I also participate in events that interest me. My family and friends encourage me by spreading the existence of my blog by word of mouth.

  •  List out your top 5 favourite blogs that you love to follow [Should include 2 Indian Bloggers]

I admire the patience and dedication of most bloggers out there. I have not browsed through too many non-Indian food-blogs as yet. The top 5 of my favorites from India are:

Sharmi’s Passions

RAK’s Kitchen

Edible Garden

Sizzling Tastebuds

Easycooking

  •  Do you sometimes feel that you will not be able to blog after “X” Years/months? If yes, how do you deal with it?

No, not really. I am doing this purely out of passion. There is no pressure here. Down the line, if anything, the posts may not be as frequent as they are now… but that doesn’t matter, as I have no boss here, who does my performance appraisal 🙂

  • Final Question on personal effects:

Favourite cuisine – I love variety in my food. So my favourites just keep changing 🙂

TV Show – Not too much of a TV person really. Some of my fav shows are: Big Bang Theory, Two and Half Men, Masterchef Australia, Highway on my plate.

Book– Chicken Soup for the soul series.

Beverage– Watermelon juice.

Restaurant– Again, since I love variety… I have a no particular favs. Some of the good ones I have been to – Sangeetha and Saravana Bhavan from Chennai, Kumarakom, Veekes and Thomas

Birthday– August 29th 1984

Film– Life is beautiful (there are many more, but I like the name of this one…… )

Music genre– Not too particular. Love listening to most types of songs that have good music, lyrics and voice.

Gadget– My cell-phone and laptop

My purse must have– Money!!! 🙂

One habit I am proud of– I do not procrastinate much. I make sure I make time for things that matter to me and do not blame lack of time for such tasks.

Thanks Nandita for the wonderful replies.

Beyond the URL

We all drop by at a log of blogs, comment on their achievements and be a part of their happiness and sorrows. How about getting to know them a little more?

Through this feature I shall ask bloggers to open up to the readers through series of questions. I hope to feature 2 bloggers every month. The blogger featured, shall be allowed to put up the same post on their blog once I have posted it. 🙂

Do drop me a message at thoushaltcook(at)gmail(dot)com in case you want yourself or someone else to be featured.

First one in the series coming up soon.

Cheers!!

The Simple wedding from home Menu

Day 1: Thursday [The Bride Arrives]

Breakfast- Sprouts on toast with Tea

Lunch- Aalu Gobhi Matar, fulka and Salad

Dinner- [Bride’s kith n kin arrive] Baigan ka bharta with peas, Dal Tadka and fulka.

Day 2: Friday [Shop, parlor and Groom’s dinner]

Breakfast- Aalu Paratha with Tea

Lunch- Chips at the mall 😛

Dinner-  home made pizza, 3 packed curry and Paneer matar from home with Laccha paratha and Fulkas AND the chocolate orange cake :*

Day 3: Saturday [Day of the wedding]

Breakfast- DH made dosas for all ❤

Lunch- BBQ Nation

Dinner- Aalu Gobhi – Punjabi Style and Gujju Style and fulka

Day 4: Sunday [Pag phera]

Breakfast- Gobhi ka paratha

Lunch- Aalu matar gravy, moong sabut dal and fulka. Sweet dish- Ghevar

Dinner- Pizza for pati n me.

Phew…all paid off well as everyone appreciate it and my darling bride was gleaming with joy after the wedding :*

I wish S and T a very very beautiful married life ahead.

Ooooh I forgot to mention I got Dorie Greenspan book as Birthday gift from the 2 now-married-clowns (Hugs) I know u are reading :*

Love