Friday, October 27, 2017

#590 : People Called Shillong - A Review


Shillong has been on my bucket list of places to visit since forever. Nestled between never ending blanket of trees and cloud, this place is every writers dream destination. Nothing like using the help of nature  to bolster your creativity. This  book provides a unique perspective of Shillong. It talks about the flora, the fauna, the culture, all via it's inhabitants.

First Impression

The cover, the introduction, all of it reeks the flavor of the North Eastern part of the country. The stories have evidently been carefully compiled based on various aspects of Shillong. Of the 10 stories, I read, I learnt about the Shillong tryst with Rock music, the hottest pepper - Raja Mircha, their food, their cultural music, their tribal culture and a lot more. The stories were followed by a beautiful and a meaningful sketch of various things related to the city and it's culture.


As stated earlier, the stories have been very thoughtfully compiled to give a complete sense and feel of shillong. These stories are not typical ones with a proper plot and a conflict. They are stories about people, things, culture and what not. Essentially it's all things Shillong. However, if the prime focus of these stories had been to highlight the facts, then the book would have been a boring collection of nothing but facts. Also, it can be safely said that these stories aren't fact based fiction either. They are just the lives of people who live in the place or have been to the place narrated in a such a manner that they don't become as boring as plain facts. The human touch is what made the facts and facets more interesting to read.

Writing & Editing 
The writing is as simple as it can get. No fancy words, no fancy phrases. Yet the stories were so effective in terms of feel, visual imagery, characterization and what not. The people felt real, the scenery felt surreal. If reading this book wouldn't induce you to travel to Shillong, nothing else really would enthuse you to book that ticket and go backpacking.

The editing also was just perfect given that the book is a compilation. It is extremely hard to understand the mindset of a diverse group of people and bring out a single theme from all the stories. The editor and the compiler surely has done a stellar job of it.

Though the stories were way too good, it would have made a bit more sense to talk a bit about how the author of each story a bit in the end of respective stories. It would have given a insight into what made these stories that they are.

My favorite stories were Tale of Interpretations, The haunted valley and Conversations around a Phuga.
Note : I received a sample copy for review from The People Place Project. Do check them out! You can buy the book on Amazon!


Monday, October 2, 2017

#589 : Milk Delight!

With Diwali around the corner, it's high time one experiments with sample recipe so as to perfect making them during the actual festival. Preethi appliances gave me one such opportunity. I got to attend their very informative blog jam event last month which was conducted to introduce their new range of Wet Grinders which brought back the traditional mechanism of wet grinding. Apart from the introduction, there were two other informative sessions - One on SEO by the famous food blogger - Archana of Archana's Kitchen and the other by Chef Umshankar Dhanapal on Food Styling. The company also introduced their range of choppers including the Turbo Chopper.


The Turbo Chopper is one kitchen appliance that I swear by. I've been using this chopper long before I went to the event. In fact, it was one appliance that my mother personally gifted me for my wedding. Given my very limited chopping skills, I would probably take eons to chop one onion and in the process would also probably cut my fingers. Onions and my eyes don't really go well. I'm ultra sensitive to strong fumes and tend to water up at the slight exposure. She wanted to make sure I didn't shed tears. Literally.

It's compact, it's easy to use and it gets the job done very quickly without much effort. Peel off the skin, slice into half, dump it into to the chopper, press the motor and voila, you have finely chopped onions without shedding tears. This is one appliance that every woman needs in her kitchen.

This chopper is essentially a cross between a full fledged mixer grinder and a traditional vegetable chopper. However, this appliance is not as versatile as a chopper, but serves the purpose it is intended for rather well. Here are the tech specs

  1. A 450 Watt motor as the head. You need to gently press the motor to operate it.

  2. Stainless Steel blade ( 2 wings)

  3. An adapter to interface the container with the motor

  4. A sturdy container with level graduations

Here is a little tutorial I found online just in case you are in doubt as to how to operate this simple yet very efficient machine -

I've been using the chopper extensively for chopping onions, making tomato/steamed carrot puree apart from the occasional chopping of cabbage. This time around, I used it to chop nuts for the experimental recipe - Basundi.


What you need :

  1. A heavy bottomed pan

  2. A liter of Full Fat Milk

  3. One Tin of Sweetened Condensed milk

  4.  Nuts - Pistachio, Badam and Cashew - Not chopped too finely.

  5. Strands of Saffron - Optional

  6. A lot patience!

The method :


  1. Boil the milk well over the heavy bottomed pan.

  2. Keep stirring over the edges initially so that the milk solid doesn't stick to the pan

  3. Keep stirring a bit more

  4. Stir a little more - Gently there!

  5. Yeah, you need patience for this.

  6. Now add the condensed milk.

  7. Give it a quick stir and let it settle.

  8. Now add the nuts/Saffron. Here is where the chopper comes handy. Chopping nuts can drive you nuts. Throw them into the chopper and press gently to chop coarsely.

  9. Finally you are done :-D

You can slurp away all the milk goodness once you've transferred the contents to a nice bowl and refrigerated it. A milk delight truly this dish!

Note : Thanks to my colleague and friend Ramakrishnan! You know for what I'm thanking you :-D