Sometimes all a girl needs to do is cry.

A writer I love once said “write about things that make you cry.”
But what if those are really mundane things? Nothing-to-write-home-about kind of things? How do I write about that? And if not, how do I get rid of that pressure I feel in my throat every few minutes, my heart wanting to get rid of those tears swelling up in my eyes?

The trigger could be anything, but the underlying events build up over a few days. The best solution I have found for times like these is to just cry. And let it out of the system. It might look silly, someone might ask you “what are you crying about?” And you may have no real reason to tell, but ignore them. And cry it out. It feels good.

Yesterday was such a day for me.

A professional colleague , apparently healthy but quite old, dies of a heart attack. I think of all the times I did not answer his call. Or the times I told him I was busy and cut short his call. How would I have known that there won’t be any more calls soon? It makes me think of my grandparents, I need to call and visit them, I note. But yesterday the thought just made me cry. Every-time I looked at my phone or the numerous technical books he has written which are lying in the office book-shelf, I had a lump in my throat.

My little baby. Last night while nursing before sleeping, he accidentally turned off the light switch with his leg. And the beautiful full moon shone in through the window. His face lit up, from the light and the new discovery. He pointed at the moon and wanted me to see it. We gazed at the moon and sang a little song. He giggled and clapped. I cried. The simplicity of his love and his complete trust in me made me choke up.

Husband said something which he did not mean, but I understood something that he did not say. How did we complicate stuff so much that we are saying words we ourselves don’t understand? Giving each other the silence treatment when all we want to do is snuggle up and sleep. Instead he stays up late – working and I cry my way to sleep.

There must have been a bucketful of tears yesterday. My eyes get swollen, red and my cheeks look flushed. But my head clears. I can finally take a deep breath and feel at peace.

I have been doing this as long as I remember. Earlier I would go to mom and tell her that I want to cry. Simple. I would put my head on her lap and let it flow. Being a teenager, I couldn’t or rather did not want to tell my mom the reason behind my tears. She did not ask. But as you grow up it ceases to be that easy. Grown ups have to bottle up and be an adult. Or so I thought.

At times, PMS gives a good excuse to be cranky and cry. But I don’t want to attribute the complexities of life to simple PMS. I want to be perceived as a deep thinker and not a silly girl who cries every month. So that is not happening.

In marathi we have a saying “sukh dukhtay”. Loosely translated it means feeling sad when everything is just fine. Sometimes that is exactly the case. And in those times hide and cry. Or watch a movie and cry. Or go to momma and cry.

Or snuggle up with your husband like I did at 3 am at night and sleep the best sleep ever. After crying, of course :)

I am my own boss. And the buck stops here.


Having your own business/ company is a tricky job.

Sure there are several benefits. You can decide your own work timings, you are your own boss and the boss of a few (or several) other people in the office, you can take a leave whenever you want etc etc. But the biggest point of worry is that every rupee you wrongly spend or any of your employees inappropriately spends is a direct hit on your take home money. The ‘company’ is actually you. And management is also you. The buck stops here and you are never away from that responsibility.

Especially being a Chartered Accountant and the Chief Financial Officer of our company, there are several days when I am just writing cheques – one after the other. It makes me so nervous. Where is all this money going? Courier bills, telephone, electricity, travel bills of 30 odd employees, hotel bills of foreign visitors, salaries, incentives, bank charges, bank guarantees, earnest money deposits, repair work for the office, stationary, it is an unending list.

When I was doing my internship or later working in a bank, these things never crossed my mind. We as auditors always got all expenses reimbursed. Once while auditing in Kerela, we went to the Pizza Hut and placed an order by looking at the right side of the menu. We ate the 4 costliest pizzas available there that night. I feel ashamed about it now, but I at that point it felt like a perfect revenge. Against the client who was a difficult auditee and against the boss of the CA firm who made us work long hours.

Now when I see bills under “guest entertainment” I know exactly what happened at those lunches. And it is not very pleasing, let me tell you.

Apart from being the CFO, I am also a one woman HR army. It is really nothing considering it’s just 30 employees , but every morning I check my cellphone to see messages saying ‘I won’t come today as my daughter is sick’ or ‘I will come late as trains are running late’ or a simple ‘grant me leave today for personal reason’. I immediately approve (what other choice do I have) but I start getting worried about the tender which is due today. If Ms. X is absent, who will do that job and so on.

But honestly the real pressure of the business, the actual sales and marketing side is my husband’s and father-in-law’s area. I don’t have to to deal with tough negotiations with customers or even that “sponsored trip” to Mumbai to visit our office. I am glad for that coz I would have sucked at it. I am rather curt and in my head “a rule is a rule”. But I am learning. By looking at my husband and noting how he deals with the customers. Or studying the emails my father in law, the MD of the company sends out, how he easily sugar costs the hardest of truths.

When we meet fellow business owners or entrepreneurs of startups etc, we are often interested in how they spend their actual workday. Because a lot of time each day we are primarily doing fire-fighting activities at work. The E-tender website of some tender is not working, one day the internet connection fails, nationalised bank was on strike, the courier which was supposed to reach yesterday is lost in transit and oh I can go on an on.

Before marriage everyone I knew had a salaried job. And that was my aim too. In fact, I had met one guy for an arranged marriage proposal and I rejected it because they had their own factory etc and wanted me to work there. Whenever anyone suggested I should start my CA practice, I ran away from there. I thought I am just not meant to be in that place. The responsibility felt too much.

But now its been four years since I am working in our own company and it feels that I have found my place. The joy of working towards a common goal of expanding our own business along with my husband is immeasurable. Of course several times we keep on discussing work at dinner table, or we can never switch off our phones even on a holiday, but thats what keeps us together.

And I think a lot of that credit goes to my father and mother in law who started the company 33 years back but have very comfortably handed it over to us, with their expert guidance always available. They have given us space without alienating from us or the company.

It is now our moral and social responsibility to take it to the next level. We owe it to ourselves and our next generations.


Rutvika Charegaonkar

Ukadiche Modak – Hosting for Daring Cooks Challenge

Sweet steamed modaks

When the new year started in January, I had made a list of resolutions. Some of them like losing 10 kgs in a year etc. never work out, but one of them was hosting a Daring Kitchen Challenge. And I did! My favourite modaks for the month of September. The details and precision which go into preparing a challenge is tremendous. And then once I submitted the draft of the challenge, it went through a rigorous testing schedule by the volunteers at the Daring Kitchen. A few modifications later, it was up for the world.

Every year during Ganpati, we make these modaks at home. Essentially, it has two parts. One is the covering (ukad in Marathi) and the other is the filling (saran in Marathi). Different households have slight variations in making it, but basically the covering is made of rice flour and the filling is made of a mixture of fresh coconut and jaggery.

For the Daring Cooks challenge, I made three different varieties of modak. Two of them steamed, and one fried version. I am hoping cooks all around the world will try this little traditional western-Indian delicacy and like it.

Excerpt for the challenge :

“The legend of Ganesha , the elephant headed God goes this way – Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva, created a boy out of the sandalwood paste she used for her bath and breathed life in to him.  Then she asked him to guard her door while she went for a bath. Meanwhile, Lord Shiva who had gone out  hunting came back. Ganesha did not allow him to enter, as he did not know who Shiva was. Enraged, Shiva severed the head of the child. Parvati was very angry and disheartened by this. Lord Shiva promised to find a head for him and bring the boy back to life. His devotees tried to find the head of a dead man, but only found the head of a dead elephant. Shiva fixed it on the body of the boy and brought him back to life, and from that day was called Ganesha.

So this month I bring to you “modaks”, an offering made to Lord ganesha. A delicate preparation of coconut and jaggery (a sweetner made from sugarcane juice) filled in a tender rice flour covering and then steamed. It is an age old recipe followed by several generations in our family.”

Blog Checking Lines : “For the month of September , Rutvika the talented lady behind challenged us to make modaks: a delicate preparation of coconut and jiggery filled in a tender rice flour covering that is later steamed to produce a delicacy that is usually served in the Ganesha festival in India”

Recipe 1 : Ukadiche Modak

Servings: Makes 12 modaks


For the filling

  • 200 gm fresh shredded coconut
  • 100 gm chopped jaggery
  • 3 tablespoon water
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder

For the covering/ shell

  • 1 heaped cup of Basmati rice flour, sifted (310 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup water (180 m)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 35 grams unsalted butter


  1. Firstly, we make the filling of the modak. Take the fresh shredded coconut, jaggery and water in a thick bottomed vessel. Put it on medium heat and stir continuously till the jaggery begins to dissolve.
  2. Alternately, you can melt the jaggery in microwave for in bursts of 30 seconds and then add it to the fresh coconut, it will come together faster.
  3. Roast it for a couple of minutes, till the mixture becomes slightly dry.
  4. Add cardamom powder and mix it well.
  5. Take the mixture off heat and spread it on a plate and let it cool down completely while you make the covering.

Modak sweet stuffing

  1. To make the covering, sift the rice flour and 1 tablespoon all purpose flour with the smallest sieve twice so that it is very smooth. The all purpose flour is used to make the rice flour more sticky.
  2. In a thick bottomed vessel, take the water and add butter and salt to it. Let it come to a boil.
  3. Once water starts to boil, add the flour mixture all at once. Take it off heat and mix it together with a spoon.
  4. Then put the mixture back on heat and sprinkle 2 tablespoons water. Cover and let it steam for 1 minute over low heat.
  5. Take it off heat and let it stay in a corner covered for 10 minutes, It will get softened.
  6. Once it has considerably cooled down, pulse it in a food processor for a minute, take it out and knead with hands to bring it together to form a smooth dough.

Modak ukad covering

  1. Prepare the steamer. Fill a large vessel with water covering the bottom of the steamer. Place steamer on top and keep it ready. We place the modaks on a banana leaf for steaming, but you can use a plain tea towel instead.
  2. Make 12 equal balls of the dough.
  3. With a little water, flatten each ball into a thin disk with your hands or in a non-electric roti maker, about 4 inches in diameter. Then take it into the palm of your hand. Stuff it with some mixture leaving ½ inch on all sides. Start pinching the corners into petals with the use of your index finger and thumb and middle finger on each side. Make several such petals all around the edge of the disk.
  4. Then start getting all the petals together by pressing it closer with your fingers. Seal the top and keep it covered with a damp towel till a few are ready to be steamed.
  5. Immerse each modak in water before placing it in the steamer filled with boiling water. Steam for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Serve hot with a dollop of ghee (clarified butter).

Shaping a steamed modak

Ganpati Bappa Morya!


Note : I have tried to simplify the recipe as much as possible for the non-Maharashtrian and the non-Indian cooks. The shaping of the modaks can get quite complicated, my mom’s grandma used to make a tower of 7 modaks on top of each other, starting from one single modak.

Spicy Crisp Masala Cookies

Spicy Masala cookies

I have been a fan of Daring Kitchen – Daring Bakers and Daring Chefs Challenges since a long time. Although currently with a baby and all his shenanigans, I find it difficult to make the challenge every month. But I sure bookmark them for whenever time permits.

These Indian Biscuits were hosted by Aprarna of My Diverse Kitchen somewhere back in August 2013. I had them written in a tiny little recipe book I maintain. And finally last week made these crisp yet flaky (and quite spicy) Masala cookies. The crisp crunch of the cookies as you bit into the them with the chillies is quite good.

When I made these biscuits the second time, I replaced the curry leaves and pepper with a generous amount of homemade garam masala and it tasted delicious.

Here is the adapted recipe from Daring Bakers . You can sure make your own variations.

Heart shaped cookies

Spicy Crisp Masala Cookies

What you will need:

  • 1 and 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon corn flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 tablespoon cold yoghurt
  • 115 grams chilled butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry curry leaves powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon powder sugar
  • 2 red chillies, very finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • Little oil

Method :

  1. Mix together all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, rice flour and corn flour.
  2. To that add diced cold butter cubes and mix it with a hand blender till the texture becomes like sand.
  3. Now add pepper, curry leaves, chilli powder, sugar, ginger garlic paste and yoghurt. Mix well with the blender.
  4. The dough should be moist, not wet.
  5. Pat the dough into a thick disk and place it in a saran or plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge for atleast 3 hours. I kept it overnight.
  6. Preheat oven to 160C and line a baking tray with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
  7. Lightly dust your working surface with all purpose flour. Roll out disks of flour to 2-3 mm thickness.
  8. Cut shapes with a cookie cutter.
  9. Transfer to the parchment line baking tray. Spread on with some sesame seeds and press down.
  10. Gently brush with some oil and bake for 20-25 minutes till the brown from the bottom.
  11. Let them cool on the tray for 5 minutes and further on a wire rack. Once completely cool they should be crispy.


  1. Baking time will depend on the thickness and size of your cookies.
  2. The first 8 ingredients form the base of the cookies. You can replace the next ingredients with spices of your choice. They will also taste good with Italian dried herbs and fresh basil.

Masala cookies


The day my heart went walking around outside my body

Version 2

This post is published on the fabulous Lalita Iyer’s bog Mommygolightly. It was written when Arjun was two months old. Now at eight months, is it time to start thinking about the next one? May be.

“When I look at my two-month old baby sleeping on my lap, satisfied after nursing for half hour, I often wonder: how did this miracle land up in my life?  The baby was just a thought up to a year back and now he is here. And then I realize: Oh, I made him. These tiny little fingers, that beautiful curve of his lips, the peach coloured skin, I made all of him.

Why did I decide to have a baby? Frankly, in my mind there was never any other way. Having a child was always the plan. Like millions of women, I always wanted to get married at an “appropriate” age, and then eventually have kids. Preferably two.

Having a baby seemed the most natural, instinctive thing to do.

When I started seriously thinking about it, I realised that the baby business was a permanent fixture, an irreversible act, which will be our responsibility at least for the next 18 years. Were we in the state of mind to make a lifelong commitment we could not run away from?

I had read many articles where women/men said most people have babies to make their life complete. That was not true for me. I felt complete enough. I have a good career, a challenging job and a baking and blogging hobby which filled my weekends. The husband and I love to travel and we travel very often. So I felt completely satisfied as it is. Even without the baby, I had a big list of things I wanted to do. Accomplishing those would already take a lifetime.

 So having babies to feel complete was out.

 The second common reason was ‘wanting to live your life, fulfil your dreams through your kids’. Hell no! I have to live my life, be happy with the way I do things and only then can I provide a stable, fulfilling life to my kids. I never once thought that I will live out my dreams through my kids. My dreams are my own. I want to fulfil them. Our kids will have a life based on their aspirations, their view of the world. Some of our goals may coincide and I hope they will want to do some things their parents like to do, but that’s about it. Thank you.

 Then why do I want kids?

Till now I have been a daughter, a sister, niece, wife, daughter-in-law etc. But not yet a mother. It is one role I get to play in life only after I have kids. So much has been written and said about ‘mom’ that in a strange way, I want to live up to that image. I want my children to grow up into enriched individuals and look back at their childhood and say, “It was good”.

My mom is my shrink. There is nothing in the world that she doesn’t understand by merely looking at me and nothing she can’t solve by a few soothing words and a warm bear hug only moms are capable of giving. I want to be my child’s shrink. I can’t give up on being that amazing person for my child as my mom is for me.

 Also, I want kids so that I can look at life from a different point of view. Life makes us all cynics. Growing up takes us away from innocence, one day at a time. I want to see things from my little child’s perspective. Everything in the world that we take for granted, is new for them. I don’t remember the first time I saw a dog, or sat in a Ferris wheel or felt rain pouring down my face. But I will see my children discover all these things and I will capture those moments as if my own. I want to take a swing so high that the world looks tiny. Dance in the rain, sing silly songs, go running after a butterfly, or simply kneel in front of a dog and stick out my tongue like he does. Only a little kid will give me the liberty of doing such childish acts. And to look at the world through a wonder filled kaleidoscope.

It is a going to be a beautiful journey, but right now I write this when my days and nights have morphed into one unending time slot of 24 hours which is on a continuous loop of feeding, burping, nappy changing, soothing and back to feeding again. But yes, now I know.”

Rutvika Charegaonkar

Pistachio Cake with orange zest and spices

Pistachio cake

I love baking with fruits and nuts. It gives a very distinct colour and flavour to cakes and other baked goodies. For instance this Pistachio cake with orange zest. The nuttiness of pistachios with the aroma and the kick of the orange zest is mesmerising. A little bit of cardamom powder and a hint of cloves intensify the pistachio taste in the cake.

I baked this cake and sent it to my friend as a birthday gift, some 350 kms away by courier. And it stayed moist and delicious for 2 days and survived the travel well. Of course there was no frosting, it was a beautiful and delicious naked cake.

Pistachio Cake with Chantilly cream

Recipe taken from Epicurious

Makes one 8/9 inch cake

What you will need :

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 3/4 cup pistachios
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 110 grams butter at room temperature (I use Amul salted butter)
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2-3 cloves softened in 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoon orange zest (from about 3 oranges)
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • powdered pistachios for garnishing

What to do :

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon water and immerse 2-3 cloves in it. Keep it aside for 5-10 minutes till the cloves let out the aroma into the water.
  2. Pulse pistachios in a mixer and sieve it to remove any clumps. Pulse the clumps with a little bit of powdered sugar to avoid the pistachios from becoming oily.
  3. Mix flour, baking powder and cardamom powder in a bowl. Add pistachio powder to it and mix well.
  4. In another bowl – cream butter and sugar till light and pale. Add eggs one at a time and incorporate well.
  5. Discard the cloves and add the water to the egg mixture. Add vanilla and stir.
  6. Add the orange zest and whisk.
  7. Now alternately add the milk and dry ingredients to the egg mixture and fold in well, till there are no lumps of flour.
  8. Pre-heat oven to 180C.
  9. Line a 8/9 inch round baking pan with parchment paper at the bottom and butter the sides.
  10. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes till a skewer inseted in the centre comes out clean.
  11. Let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning it over on a wire rack.
  12. Meanwhile, beat the whipping cream till it forms soft peaks. Add powdered sugar and whisk till stiff peaks are formed.
  13. Once the cake is cooled completely, spread it with the whipped cream and drizzle with some powdered pistachios.
  14. Serve at room temperature.

Pistachio cake with cream

Notes :

  1. This cake without the frosting stays well at room temperature for 2-3 days.
  2. If you want a bigger cake, this recipe can be easily doubled and made into a stacked layer cake.
  3. You can omit the clove water and replace it with some rum.

Mint and Pepper Butter Chicken

Mint and pepper butter chicken

I have often heard people lament about the fact that chicken breasts are the least flavourful of them all. But I was a vegetarian before I got married about 4 years back and though we love some really good tangdi kebabs, we prefer the boneless breasts when cooking at home. So I have a collection of very easy to make yet delicious boneless chicken breast recipes for everyday cooking. And they don’t need a lot of marination time. Just half hour of marinating it in some spices or lemon or curd and they are ready to be cooked.

This today is a house favourite over the last few months. Mint and Pepper Cream chicken. I have adapted it from the The original recipe does not have pudina or mint leaves in it, but I love the of zing of mint leaves in fresh cream based gravies.

Mint and Pepper Butter Chicken

What you will need :

  • 400 grams boneless chicken breasts cut into 2 inch or so pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or more as per taste)
  • 3 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper powder, freshly ground
  • 2-3 tablespoon mint leaves (pudina), crushed + few for garnishing
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12-15 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups fresh cream + 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup milk

What to do :

  1. Marinate the chicken breasts in soy sauce, salt, pepper and chilli powder and mint leavesfor about 30 minutes
  2. In a pan or kadhai, heat some olive oil, fry the chopped garlic till translucent. Add the chicken pieces and cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes till 80% cooked.
  3. Then add the cream, water and milk and mix well. Check taste and add more salt if required. Cover it and let it cook further for 5-6 minutes on medium heat till chicken is fully cooked and the sauce begins to thicken.
  4. Serve hot with bhakri or rotis.

Pepper and cream chicken