Getting mad makes me more productive!


This is how we scowl.

Anger is good. Occasional bouts of suppressed anger makes me a very productive person.

This weekend I was mad at the husband for some silly reason and look at what I accomplished! Cleaned my cupboard shelves, sorted and gave away a stack of clothes that I don’t fit into anymore (and gave up hope that I will fit into them ever again), re-arranged the stationery drawer, discarded chipped cups and saucers, cleaned the fridge and threw away all expired masalas, read through the articles which I have been marking ‘to-read’ for over a month and now I am producing this blog-post. So you see how insanely beneficial anger is? And all of this done in utter silence. Beneficial for the husband too.

Earlier when I got angry, I would study. Take notes vigorously. Solve difficult accounting problems with lightning clarity. In fact one of the main reasons I cleared CA final in the first attempt was because of a heartbreak which had left me angry beyond belief. And hence I studied. Cut away from the rest of the world and study all the time. With a zeal that calm often cannot bring.

Before that, as a teen, anger used to manifest itself by shouting and ended up in crying. Poor mom used to be at the receiving end and would patiently wait for me to sort it out myself. And offer a lap to cry eventually. But once you get married and have children of your own, you realise that resorting to screaming is not really an option. So all those emotions simmer inside and the brunt is faced by cupboards, windows et all.

The husband in this case is a very peaceful non-fighting kind of a person. And I have been told often that I can get nasty and personal when I fight. Doesn’t seem to be the case in my head, in fact, anger gives me the courage to say the things I wouldn’t have said otherwise. But may be some things are not to be said. Ever. Anyway, the best course of action I have realised is doing something else and letting the anger pass. Keeping my mouth tight shut till then and not collapsing into a heap of tears in front of the child.

Last weekend at the Mentor Me India group mentoring session, as an exercise in self-awareness we were asked to share one incident when we were very angry. My 12 year old mentee Gauri very seriously told me she hates it when her family prefers boys and have no qualms in saying it. Boys better than girls. Wishing that they had a boy child instead of two girls. The male cousins get money for books, sweets immediately and the girls have to make do without it. Etc. etc.  Thats a story many Indian girls will identify with. Some families are subtle, some more direct. But one time I got really pissed off in recent times was when the nurse where I delivered my son told us to give her more ‘baksheesh’ since it was a son. When its a girl, they don’t bother the parents, but in case of a boy, we should please include the nurses in our joy. Well, I wanted to smack her. In my delirious post-delivery state that is one thing I regret not doing.

But mostly otherwise I function like a well oiled steam engine when mad. Huffing and puffing, but going forward at full speed.

Any vishesh tippani? I would be happy to hear.





Pan Grilled chicken over buttery rice and tomato salsa


Every once in a while, mostly on a Sunday, I make an elaborate lunch at home. The weekday meals are all made by my mum-in-law, a delicious vegetarian affair. So on Sundays, I try to give her a break and make something myself. A lot of times my folks have to eat the experimentation – uncooked pasta, overcooked chicken , too tangy salad etc. But sometimes, something like this gets created and I can’t wait to put it up here and share it with you all.


This time it is Pepper Pan-Grilled Chicken over Buttery Baked Rice and Tomato Salsa. This technique of baked rice was shown to me by our European business associate, they always bake rice and don’t use any pressure cooker. You can very well cook rice in the pressure cooker and lightly season it.

All the pans that we use at home currently are from Khlos. Wonderfully built and sturdy and yet non-stick, that our oil consumption has drastically reduced.And they look so pretty and are still very affordable.



Buttery Baked Rice

  • 200 gram long grained rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 25 gram butter
  • 400 ml boiling water
  1. Grease a 1.1 capacity ovenproof dish or casserole.
  2. Put the rice in the dish and stir int he salt until well mixed. Dot with butter.
  3. Pour over the boiling water. Cover and bake at 180C for 30 minutes until the water has been absorbed and rice is tender.

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Pepper and Olive Oil Tender Chicken breasts

  • 3-4 chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil + 1 tablespoon softened butter
  • 2-3 tablespoon coarsely crushed pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • chilli flakes
  • butter for pan-grilling the chicken and for the sauce
  1. Lightly pound the washed chicken breasts with a chicken rolling pin. Rub it with  the mixture of olive oil + butter+  salt+ pepper + chilli flakes.
  2. Let it sit for 20 minutes.
  3. Heat a thick bottommed pan and melt 1-2 tablespoon of butter. I have used Khlos grill pan to brown the chicken and give the pepper a crackling feel.
  4. Once the chicken breasts are browned on both sides, transfer them and the butter from the pan into an ovenproof dish. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C for 10 minutes so that the chicken gets cooked till the centre.
  5. Remove from heat and reserve the juices and butter.

Tomato Salsa

  • 2 cups finely chopped tomatoes (about 4 tomatoes)
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 tablespoon chopped coriander
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely chopped green chillies
  • about 3/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Mix all the above ingredients of the salsa and adjust the salt as per taste.

Assembly :

  1. Slice the chicken and place it on a bed of rice with salsa on the side. Garnish with some mint/basil leaves.


A promise to myself.


My writing table at mom’s house

I am constantly surrounded by a cacophony of sounds so much so that the thought of staying alone in my own house feels alien. Not that I loved being alone even before Arjun was born, but now with a little baby and working full time 5 days a week, moments of silence are hard to come by. My idea of solitude is limited to sitting in a corner of the room and perhaps doing some thinking, but the rest of the people need to be in the house. When there is nobody at home except me and Arjun, I take him out to the park or to meet relatives, friends. In a typical Indian joint-family culture, alone-time is never an option, and strangely I am glad for it.

But to write, I need to sit in one place and think and put those words out on a screen or a paper. So today when everyone was going out too attend a family function, I opted to stay at home and write. And all I could think of was my baby, the fight husband and I had last night, then all of the conversations I am missing out while I sit here in front of the laptop and everyone is chatting and laughing and doing all sorts of fun things someplace else. I admonish myself and get back to writing a short-story I want to send for a contest. It’s about complex relationships and family etc and thats when I start thinking about the stuff to pack for my brother-in-law who leaves tomorrow to go back home to Michigan. Palak parathas are to be made, oh wait, but do we have palak in the house? No, I should ask my maid to get some on her way. The almond pistachio cake I baked yesterday for him is slightly burned at the edges, I should bake one more. And my little niece, I have to get some chudidar and kurta and may be even some bangles for her. And so the list goes on and on. And while I stayed back home to write, all I am doing is not writing.

It makes me wonder if I am cut out for this solitary task which is writing. But reading those words on paper, which a few minutes back were only in my head – gives me pleasure. So may be I should write, albeit in different surroundings. When Arjun was born, I resumed writing in a month, as soon I had recovered from the shock of child-birth. Most of my blog-posts in the last 20 months have been typed on my iPhone notepad. Writing and scribbling while I am nursing Arjun or later feeding him roti-sabzi, making edits when I am trying to make him sleep, and publishing straight from he mobile app at times. The output has not been enough, not as much as I would like it to be. Then I tried the 10-minute technique. Writing non-stop for 10 minutes without pondering too much or without editing. The thinking part of that 10 minute writing happens when I am playing with Arjun , or in the shower etc. But all of that is not sufficient. If I want to call myself a writer (oh, how badly I want that), I should devote more time to it. Not be afraid of being MIA in some places because thats a conscious choice I am making.

I was talking to my aunt – who I whole heartedly admire – she has published 3 books in last 3 years, is an incredible mom to two teens – I realised that like any other craft, writing requires a lot of discipline. She is my aunt by marriage, and so I do not have her genes, but I have her guidance, which is valuable. And so I must sleep a little less, utilise my time efficiently and sneak in atleast half hour of writing every day. And that does not mean reading articles about writing or scrolling through Facebook for ‘inspiration’, but actually shooting out words which make sense.

In an article I read recently in The Atlantic, there is a line which says – ‘What aspects of life (a bigger family, marital stability) does the artist sacrifice for his work?’, I realised that being an artist entails sacrificing something. What and how much is each one’s to decide, but it is sure not a rosy path.

And thus, today onwards I will write each day. Pitch ideas to different publications, participate in online writing contests and write in my journal.

This is a promise I make to myself and as we tell Arjun – a promise is a promise is a promise.



A new role in life : Mentoring a 12 year old girl

MMI school

At the school with MMI mentors and mentees

I have a little piece of news to share with you.

A couple of months back, I interviewed to become a mentor for a 12 year old girl through Mentor Me India (MMI). I got selected, went through two induction programmes and soon a new relationship in my life began. I was nervous before the interview and really wanted to get selected. Then I was super anxious the day I met my mentee, Without any prior experience with kids that age, I bit my nails worrying if she would like me and I would like her. But the guys at MMI are awesome, they tried to match the mentor mentee pairs in such a way that we would have some common interests. I fell in love with my little young girl the minute I saw her. I am not romanticising it, but do you know that unexplained tug at your heart when you meet someone for the first time and feel a connection? This little girl, Gauri, came right towards me and held my hand. All my anxieties flew out of the window.

This mentor mentee program is designed on the lines of Big Brother- Big Bister program in various countries, where a brother mentors a young boy and a sister mentors a young girl over the course of minimum one year. These relationships go beyond a year once the mentor-mentee pairs get involved in each other’s lives. But the initial commitment is for a minimum one year. MMI ties up with schools working in low income communities and the school is the meeting ground for first few months. These mentees are from an economically poor background and most people around them are employed at unskilled jobs with very less or no education. To have a mentor in life is to have some didi or bhaiyya who can show them what they can achieve with right education and awareness of the world. With professional guidance from MMI team, I am sure all of us mentors can make some difference in the lives of these mentees.

Gauri and Rutvika

Left – Gauri’s drawing of me. Right – Me drawing her.

On the second day after I met Gauri for the first time, I got a call from an unknown number. It was her calling me from a PCO. She had taken my number but her dad doesn’t have a cellphone, so I didn’t expect she would call me right next day. She said that she missed me and was thinking about me a lot. I can say I miss you to someone only after careful deliberate preparation and here this little girl easily told it to me- her didi who was non-existent till yesterday. The enormity of the situation struck me. These girls and boys have hardly anyone who take an active interest in their life. Their parents, who are overworked themselves can provide the basic necessities, but hardly anything more. Sure there are exceptions, good and bad, but generally these kids are one among a lot and neglected most of the time. So when a didi/ bhaiyya seems to be interested in them, they are drawn like magnets. We were appraised about all of these factors at the induction and the MMI handbook is very handy, but in a real life scenario, you are on your own.

I told Gauri on the phone that she should concentrate on her studies and that I will see her the next weekend.

Cut to the next Saturday, all the little girls whose mentors were not going to come that day, or all those whose mentors were late even by 5 minutes, were crying. Literally crying with a flood of tears. The teachers tried to placate them, but still Ganga-Jamuna was free flowing from their eyes. The boys on the other hand tried to show how they were unperturbed and continued to monkey around. I was late by 15 minutes (Note to self : never to be late) and Gauri told me that she thought I would do ‘khaada’ which means an ‘unexplained absence’ in Marathi. I told her I would never do a khaada, if for some reason I am unable to come, I will tell it to her in advance. She accepted it, but oh how do I reach her since she does not have access to a cellphone?! God only knows. Thankfully, one MMI co-ordinator is always available on call to help me reach out to the mentee, so we will have it covered.

Last Saturday it was mentors-meet-parents day. I met her grandma, her mother passed away a few months back in an accident. When she told me about her mom, this little girl of 12, she was very upset. I was at a loss of words. I am a mother to a toddler and often have nightmares about being in an accident and imagining what my son would do without me. Even the thought makes me dizzy. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I am paired with this girl. Maybe I can understand her situation better, but pray tell me, how do you understand something that is your worst fear?

Her grandma has taken charge of the household since Gauri’s mom passed away. She spoke fondly of her daughter-in-law. Later they also took me to their home, a cozy, welcoming house with several photos of different gods stuck to the walls. 2-3 of her cousins, similar to her in age, came to ask me if they can get a didi and bhaiyya too. I told them that I am Gauri’s didi, but the school along with MMI can get them a didi/ bhaiyya.

It is wonderful being a part of something larger than our self and little circle of things. I hope the time we spend together can be of some value to my mentee and that we grow together.

Meanwhile, if you know how 12 year old girls behave, what activities they like, what stuff to do with them, good economical places to show them, will you let me know?

Thank you!


The Cheat Code

I met a friend for dinner last week. She has two little girls under 10 and is a very smart woman. She recently found out that her husband has been cheating on her for the last 4 years. With a woman he used to work with. Many a times in the past 4 years her husband used to be on an official “tour” and apparently he stayed with the other woman, in the same city where they live. My friend has been married to this guy for 15 years after dating him for a couple years in college. She is totally shattered, but also very angry. She feels cheated and feels really stupid that she did not find about it earlier. It felt bad to hear all this, but at the same time I felt relieved that she knows about it now and refuses to take his bullshit anymore.

And then the maid who works at my office. She is married for 5 years to a guy and few months back she found out that he has been already married since last seven years and has two children aged four and two. Do the math. All the while when they got married and started living together, he was already with his wife and married the whole time. The maid is unable to conceive and when her husband readily agreed to get tested, I was surprised. I couldn’t help think that he already had a child somewhere. But this guy beats up all logic. He has splendidly convinced the maid that he loves her. And was married to that other woman only because of family pressure. And that both the children, mind you, two times, were sheer accident when they were made to sleep together by his mother.

The fact that he has taken dowry in the first ‘arranged’ marriage has been ignored by my maid. The guy is not willing to leave any one of them, and keeps assuring my maid that he can’t live without her. And cherry on the cake – he even drank phenyl to commit suicide when she threatened to leave him. As you can guess, he survived very well and now has her undying devotion.

But it happens to the best of us. Previously, in my early twenties, for a few shoddy months, I dated a guy from work. He was already dating our mutual friend. I was so blind and such a idiot (I punch myself even as I write this), I could see daal mein kucch kaala, but I refused to believe it. He chased me with gifts and flowers and sweet words and I fell for it. He was quite a pervert. When we went out he would ogle at other women right in front of me. And still, this went on for a few months. How I hate that part of life. But sometimes you have to date terrible people to cherish the good things you have.

Back to my friend. her husband now tells her to forgive him. His excuse – ‘Everybody does it, only a few get caught.’ It is as if he is asking forgiveness for simply getting caught. She is adamant on divorce, but doesn’t know how she will manage two kids and all other practicalities by herself.

Of the things that I pray to god, first is to keep life interesting and second is that husband and I are never disloyal to each other. God cannot help in both these things, but my wish is sincere. Extra marital affairs really disturb me. When we were watching Bajirao Mastani (the movie) it kept troubling me that Mastani toh haat dhoke Bajirao ke peeche padi hai. Bajirao – a married man with children. Although I believe that this movie is way different from history, but something like this (even a movie, yes) leaves such a bad taste. It gives me nightmares.

I cannot imagine what my friend and maid are going through. One is the first wife and the latter is the other woman. Both loved deeply, one still does, but where does this lead them?

I don’t even know what to tell them, it is difficult to fathom what is the right thing to do in these cases. My father a retired Mumbai police officer has seen several such cases, I ask him what I should tell them if they ask for advice. He says “Each case is unique and delicate, but divorces based on alleged affairs result in long drawn-out cases and often in total denial by the accused. And this leads to no or or very little maintenance and alimony from him. Hard choices have to be made. Money or integrity.”

The local police NGO my friend went to bluntly told her to accept that man back and forgive him since he is admitting that he made a mistake. Because nothing works without money. If you need him to keep contributing towards raising the kids, do not file for divorce.

The idealist in me cannot adhere to this notion, but it is the truth. Ask around, you will know. Good education and standing firmly on our own feet is the only salvation for women. This cannot be stressed enough. But what about these two women? Only time will tell.


Hi-Hat Chocolate Cupcakes

Inside of a high hat cupcake

I have been eyeing these Hi-hat cupcakes on Pinterest for so long now, that I had to make them sooner than later. They are essentially choclate cupcakes with a frosting and dipped in melted chcolate, like your Mc Swirl in Mc Donalds.They looked daunting. What if the fluffy white meringue on top which gets dipped in the chocolate just melts away? What if the chocolate doesnt hold and starts dripping? What if the entire frosting collapses and settles in a puddle on the cupcake? It would be an epic bake-fail, but curiousity got the better of me and I made these. And beleive it or not, they are super easy! I watched a couple videos about making the frosting and then adapted a Martha Stewart recipe to make mine.

High Hat cupcake

Droolworthy chocolates

Hi-Hat Cupcakes!

What you will need :

For the cupcakes

  •  2 cups maida
  •  ¾ cup cocoa powder
  •  1 tablespoon baking powder
  •  ½ teaspoon baking soda
  •  a pinch of salt
  •  1 and ½ cup castor sugar
  •  2 eggs
  •  8 tablespoon melted butter (I use Amul)
  •  1 cup plain yoghurt
  •  ½ cup warm milk
  •  1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  •  1 and ½ cup chocolate chips

Ingredients for chocolate cupcakes

  1.  Mix the flour + baking powder + baking soda + cocoa powder + salt. Sift it so that it gets aerated and there are no chunks of baking powder or soda.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk butter till pale and add sugar. Mix well.
  3. Then add the eggs, one at a time and whisk into the butter.
  4. Mix in the yoghurt and vanilla.
  5. Now with a rubber spatula fold in the dry ingredients and the milk in two additions. Always start and end with the dry ingredients.
  6. Pre-heat oven to 180C for 5 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, line a muffin pan with paper liners. Drop the batter into the pan and bake for 20 minutes till a skewer inserted in the centre comes clean.
  8. Let it cool in the pan and then on a wire grill completely before frosting.

Chocolate chip cupcakes

For the meringue frosting

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 and ¾ cup castor sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Making meringue

  1. In a large heatproof bowl, mix all the ingredients and whisk with a manual whisk or a hand held blender till it forms soft peaks.
  2. In another vessel, heat water till it simmers.
  3. Put this bowl with egg whites on the vessel over the stove/ gas. Whisk continuously till it forms stiff peaks and the temperature of the egg whites goes upto 70 degrees C on a candy thermometer. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, keep it whisking on the simmering water for 10 minutes, it reaches about that temperature and then egg whites are safe to be consumed.
  4. Then remove from heat and keep whisking till it cools down considerably and frosting thickens.
  5. Do not stop whisking in the entire process or egg whites will curdle.
  6. Transfer frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a big round nozzle.

For the chocolate coating

  • 2 cups chopped chocolate
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil

How to proceed:

  1. Combine chopped chocolate and oil in a microwave safe bowl and heat it in bursts of 20 seconds, whisking in between, till all chocolate is melted. Alternately, you can heat it over double boiler.
  2. Let it cool to room temperature.
  3. If the chocolate hardens by the time you are ready to dip, heat it in microwave for 30 seconds and it will be liquid.

Chocolate dripping


  1. Now the cupcakes are ready to be frosted and dipped.
  2. Frost a high pile of the meringue frosting on each of the cupcakes. Refrigerate for a couple of minutes before dipping in chocolate.
  3. Keep the melted chocolate in a high wide glass. I used a measuring cup for it.
  4. Now grab each cupcake by its bottom and carefully dip it into the melted chocolate and remove it. Don’t worry, it will stay put. The meringue will not melt, you have my word.
  5. Put it in the fridge and let it sit for half hour before cutting.
  6. You high-hat cupcakes are ready!
Hi hat cupcake with chocolate frosting

Eggless Cupcake with eggless buttercream frosting

Notes :

  • Some recipes call for cream of tartar in the meringue, but I havent used it. It stays well and holds shape even without the cream of tartar.
  • Ensure that the instructions int he recipe are followed well, let the cupcakes cool down before frosting. lt the meringue sit in the fridge for a few minutes before dripping in the chocolate and let the chocolate be at room temperature but still  liquid.
  • In the Mumbai humidity, the chocolate ont he frosting starts to sweat as soon as you take it out of the refrigerator. There is hardly anything that can be done about it though.
  • If you want an eggless chocolate cupcake recipe, see here.
  • If you want an eggless chocolate buttercream frosting see here. Meringue frosting looks prettier because of the black and white combination, but you can use any other stable buttercream too.

Cupcakes with chocolate frosting

Come, lets share a story.


Come, tell me a story

When I was a young girl, I found it difficult to wrap my head around short stories. Stories which show a slice of life – the ones which have an open ending, where too much gets built up but too little gets solved. I couldn’t comprehend what happens next. May be life’s experiences were inadequate to make any sense of it on my own. But as years passed and I got married, became a mother, switched jobs and got a career, these open ended stories became fascinating. I could read, draw on my beliefs and conclude in any way that felt right at that moment. I read Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies once as a girl of 14 and now as a woman of 30 and they appear as entirely different stories to me. I distinctly recall thinking at 14 – why did the death of an unborn child lead to dissolution of a marriage? Why is the heroine of the story so upset that her husband and she don’t talk at dinner anymore? And so on. Seemingly simple stories, but I couldn’t understand the complexity of relationships and hence stayed away from that genre of stories. I preferred novels where you (mostly) know what happens in the end.

But now suddenly it feels as if the world has opened up. I have become hooked on to Sadat Hassan Manto, Ismat Chugtai, Gulzar saab. What beautiful people they portray. When I read those stories, it feels as if I walk into a party, talk to a dozen people. Intimate conversations about whatever is happening in their life right now, silently record it in my subconscious and then walk away with that knowledge. And then never see each other again. But that fragment of their life is lodged in me forever now, to draw on from them. For  inspiration and for comfort.

At the Goa Project in February, there was one session on storytelling. The conductor of the session Deeptha asked us to turn towards the person sitting next to us and tell each other a story for the next 5 minutes. How we came here in Goa, what is happening in our life as of now etc. I was meeting the girl sitting next to me for the first time but I don’t know if it was the anonymity of the situation or the human need to be heard, but I found myself telling her how it has been a difficult one year since the birth of my child. How it was the first time I had left him overnight and how I missed my boy terribly, but I was so glad for the two day break, I was going nuts. And in turn she told me that they are thinking of having a kid, but it feels like an enormous price to pay for freedom. Her husband wants a child and she is not so sure, and its complicated. The two of us sitting there reached a kind of meditative understanding of each other, we were like two sides of the same coin. I touched her hand assuringly to say that I know how she feels. And then that was it. Our five minutes were up.

Of course, there is Facebook now and we are friends there, but somewhere it feels that the sacredness of our stories is best preserved untouched. As if I read a page of her diary and she read mine. I don’t need to know what happens in her life later on, I don’t have more to offer but those 5 minutes were ours to share.

Last night we went to hear Naseeruddin Shah dramatically narrate Ismat Chugtai’s poignant stories. Stories of women set in the 1950s. One that haunted me in my dreams was titled Chui-Mui (Touch-me-Not). The narrators’ bhabhijaan is unable to deliver a child even after conceiving three times, and on a train journey they witness a peasant woman give birth in the train compartment unassisted and goes about to do her work and clean the mess as if it was routine for her. I have gone through childbirth and it literally feels as if a truck hit you. My mom took care of my and my newborn for 40 days after that and this peasant woman did not even have another pair of hands to cut the umbilical cord. I shuddered but thanked god for the support I had. Stories are meant to do that. Touch a raw nerve and soothe at the same time. To heal that which we didn’t think needs healing.

So next time if you meet me and I skip talking about the weather and the flood-drought situation and ask you something more personal, I promise I will share my own story too. Because as Maya Angelou said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

May you have many stories to tell and many hearts to hold them.





Cherry Cream Cheese Pound cake

Cherry Cream Cheese Pound cake!


Cream Cheese pound cake with cherries

Everything about this cake sounds dreamy. It is an indulgent affair and not for the whole-wheat-carrot-cake type of a day.

Pound Cakes are heavy. With so many eggs in them they can be filling. But so delicious and creamy. And add some cream cheese in the mix, you have a delectable buttery, cheesy cake. The mild tartness of the cherries goes very well with the cake and makes it very flavourful.

Cherries are in season right now, and I must have used about 40-50 un-pitted cherries on top of the cake I love how that looks. My little baby boy Arjun helped me make the decoration and gave me one cherry at a time while I placed it on the cake. Loved doing that.

This cake serves 8, has to be sliced thinly while serving. Perhaps with a cup of coffee, like the French.

Cherry Pound cake

Cherry Cream Cheese Pound Cake

What you will need:

  • 3 cups maida – all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 220 gram cream cheese, I use D’lecta
  • 2 and 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 large eggs

Cream Cheese Chocolate Frosting

  • 125 gram cream cheese, cold
  • 50 gram Amul butter
  • 300 grams icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • Fresh cherries for decoration

What to do :

  1. For the cake, sift the all purpose flour + baking powder + baking soda and keep it aside.
  2. In another bowl, whisk room temperature butter and cream cheese together, add vanilla extract.
  3. Now add granulated sugar and whisk.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking till it gets fully incorporated.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 180C.
  6. Line two 8 inch pans with a parchment paper at the bottom and butter and flour the sides.
  7. Pour the prepared batter in the pans and bake in a pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes till a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  8. Remove from the pan and let the cakes cool completely before frosting.
  9. To make the frosting, take all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk till it comes together to form a smooth frosting.
  10. Place one cake on a plate or a wooden board, frost it lightly and then place the second cake on top. Again frost the sides lightly, scraping of any excess frosting.
  11. Put about 1/4 cup of frosting on top of the cake and spread evenly.
  12. Put the cake int he fridge for 10 minutes so that the frosting sets a bit before placing the cherries on top.

Cherry pound cake slice

Notes :

  • If you live in a hot humid place, it is better to keep the cake in the fridge. Bring it to room temperature for half hour before serving.
  • The mild cocoa flavour in the frosting helps balance the cheesy frosting.
  • The pound cake recipe is taken from Joy of Baking

The road less travelled

Rutvika on a scooter

Riding a scooter on the pot-holed Mumbai roads

Like any other teenager, I was very excited to learn to drive. Two months before turning 18, I got the learners licence. And there it began. Countless number of hours spent behind the wheel, trying to look at the road, keep the car steady and simultaneously change the gear depending on the speed. We had Maruti Omni then, that famous kidnap car from Bollywood movies. It had no bonnet and the driver sat exactly on top of the front wheels. I loved that car, it was easier for me to gauge the vehicles in front of me and I believed that it is responsibility of other drivers to not come and bump me from the rear end, which was very long considering that it was a van type of a car.

I took insane hours of lessons to learn driving. First it was the motor training school. The driving school cars have two sets of brakes and clutch etc. So driving that car during those lessons was a breeze. I only had to control the steering wheel and go left or right when and as the teacher said. And perhaps brake as an afterthought because it was he who actually controlled the car. During the driving exam, two months later, all they asked us to do was start the engine and drive 20 feet in a straight line. Even an eight year old can do it, and needless to say I passed the exam and got the driving license.

I was elated. Little did I know that driving a training school car and an actual car are entirely different things.

The first day in our car, the Maruti Omni, the engine stalled every single time I tried to change the gear from first to second. Or if someone was crossing the road and I stopped, I could never get back in motion without the engine shutting down. It was almost as if it was dissuading me from driving. But I was persistent. Rather my dad was persistent and persuasive . He spent several weekend mornings taking me out to drive and it always ended with me crying on the way back and not talking to him for the rest of the day because A) humiliation and B) realisation that I still can’t drive. Every time I had to change the gear I had to look down at the stick shaft and wonder where 1-2-3-4 is. And every-time I pressed the clutch, the car jumped in terror.

After several weeks of this ritual, my dad hired another guy to teach me to drive our own car, one Mr.Godbole. He was a patient man, and after two more months and a several thousand rupee fee, I could finally drive. My heart still pounded wildly every time I was in the drivers seat and I sat as if ready to jump out any minute if something went wrong. Nevertheless, I ferried my family to and fro from short distances and once even drove 2 hours to Esselworld through murderous traffic. That was the high point of my driving stint.

For years before that I was riding my cycle to school and already knew how to balance a two wheeler. The lovely little Scooty Pep came easily to me and and I would vroom through the streets of my suburban Mumbai. Even now, I put my baby in the baby carrier and off we go to the park on the Honda Activa. So I have some traffic sense, right?!

But the car. That’s a different story.

About six months after I learnt to drive, my father replaced the van with the smaller Maruti 800 so that I can drive it easily.

My cousin and I drove to the movie theatre one night and while coming back, at a right turn to get on to a flyover, the car stalled. I couldn’t get the car to turn on and move forward. Traffic started piling up behind me and people started honking. I got very nervous. I revved the engine, kept my foot on the clutch and willed it to move forward. In all this commotion I forgot to look on my right and an oncoming truck hit the bonnet of my car and drove away without a pause. The bonnet opened up like the mouth of a crocodile, we banged our heads against the roof of the car but thankfully we were alive and mostly unhurt. We silently drove back home, now wondering about how to tell this to dad. Short tempered that he was, he was also very scared for the safety of his children. And the extra expenditure to get the car fixed. All in all, it was a terrible situation.

We went home, and told my mom about what happened. She has always been the cushion between dad and us. We use her a medium to tell things to dad when we lack the guts. All of us went to sleep and the next morning she told dad.

He immediately went down to the parking lot, examined the car and came up seething and obviously quite upset. For the next 2 hours (or was it 10?), I was grilled about how the accident really happened and how was I so stupid to drive this way etc. Regular stuff which parents say to their kids.

But again I was terribly upset. A) because of humiliation and B) realisation that I can’t really drive. The angsty teenager that I was, I vowed never to drive dad’s car again.

The car was fixed and we used it for a couple years more, but I never got behind the drivers seat again.

My husband now wants me to learn to drive again.

I say, ‘not today’. And tomorrow never comes.



An extended version of this post appeared on

Travelling with a baby – Dehradun Mussourie

Thankfully for us, baby boy Arjun loves travelling. His first trip was to Jaipur when he was 6 months old , and he was still breastfed. We nursed everywhere, the sweltering Jaipur heat of June did not deter us from going anywhere. Anytime he was hungry/ thirst/ cranky/ bored/ sleepy, we would find a quiet little corner and nursed. He was a happy camper.

Then when he was 10 months old, we went to California. Just little baby and me. It was a long journey, 28 hours since we left home before we reached Akshay’s aunt’s house in San Jose. I was slightly nervous before going, all alone on such a long journey. All three of us were supposed to go together, but Akshay couldn’t make it due to some work commitment. I wanted to go. And we did. The saving grace was that Arjun was still nursing. I did not have to carry any bottles or formula, no sterilisation and hence less luggage. With just 14 kgs in the suitcase, a baby backpack with essential things for the travel and my baby wear with Arjun in it, we were set. I must have nursed him 20 times in 28 hours. Whenevr he started crying, I would feed him. It worked like magic, let me tell you. When we were getting down, a woman seated further back said that she did not know a baby was on board! Woohoo, we were that good. Did not give any non-baby people on board to complain about a shrieking, kicking baby.

Then just a month later we went to Kerela, all of us. Arjun’s grandparents, uncle, aunt and an year older cousin Sara. There, the kids discovered the joy of swimming or rather splashing in a pool and then in the ocean near Varkala.  I realised that babies are happiest outdoors. Perhaps because mom and dad are giving them full attention. Not working, not reading, not cooking. Just paying attention to them, and they seem to thrive on it.

When Arjun turned a year old, the very next day he stopped breastfeeding. I could do nothing to convince him to end his feeding strike and soon I realised he had said bye-bye to this one year BF journey forever. I was shattered, but more about that some other time. The conclusion : He was a toddler now and did not want momma’s milk. He was better off with spicy dosas and roti-sabzi and dal-rice. Well, so be it.

Now when we were going to Dehradun-Mussourie in mid-April, our biggest concern was to keep him well fed and hydrated in the trip. His stomach is tiny and he has several little meals every day, almost as if all of his waking hours we are either giving him something to eat or thinking of what he could eat next. But he surprised us. Ate anything we gave him. Started with KFC chicken popcorn, bhindi sabzi in the Jet Airways flight, different types of pastries at clock tower Dehradun, maggi and momos at Gucchu-paani, roasted corn and boiled eggs in Mussourie mall road, spicy dumplings at Kalsang, the chocolate milkshake at Chic’s and of-course the delectable Fortune savoy breakfast spread. He literally ate everything from all the road-side cafes and survived well. (Touchwood🙂 ).

My wonderful friends from Chef At Large FB group helped me with everything that we should and could do and eat in Dehradun and Mussourie and you can read about it here.


Dehradun was super hot, but this place called Robbers Cave or Gucchu paani (top-left), stole our heart. The locals say it doesnt have the charisma it used to earlier, but we loved walking through the water filled cave. Then we went to Mindrolling monastery and the cool and peacefully calm monastery felt as if we had been transorted to another era altogether. Bottom right is the Tapkeshwar temple, where there is a continuous stream of water trickling down on the shivling. Pretty interesting. And bottom left, a few people were playing this game outside the moastery. Anyone knows what it is?


On the other hand, Mussourie was cool and so gorgeous! We stayed at Hotel Fortune Savoy, and it has the most scenic layout. (bottom right). The Kalsang in Mussourie mall road offers some of the best dumplings and noodles and baby boy and us gorged on some super spicy momos in garlic gravy. These prams or strollers are available for rent on the mall road and it saved us a lotof backache. Up and down the street, for 100 rupees an hour. And then there were the hand-drawn cycle rickshaws which navigate the narrow streets and hordes of tourists.

Landour, some 1000 ft above Mussourie, is quaint little town. Dotted with boarding schools and a handful shops, it is less touristy and greener than Mussourie. The highlight was a newly opened pub and cafe ‘The Stray Dog’.

The Stray Dog Landour.jpg

The Stray Dog Pub and Cafe, Landour

You will not believe when I tell you that in Mussourie and Dehradun we landed up in bakeries run by Le Cordon Bleu graduates. Totally coincidental. we had no idea about the LCB connection till we went into the bakeries. Needless to say, they were quite wesome.


Bake Masters Dehradun

Bake Masters in Dehradun by Namanraj Singh Jolly from LCB Australia

landour Bakehouse

Landour Bakehouse by Veena Picardo from Mumbai

All in all, it was a wonderful albeit tiring trip. I read somewhere – ‘Vacation with a toddler is not a vacation, just a change of location’. Couldnt agree more. Most of the time we were running around Arjun, worrying about what to feed him next and stopping him from pulling and pushing random stuff. But he is quite a cooperative baby. And is always open to new things.

I would love to hear any recommendtions about places to travel with kids. And to-dos and dont’s. Drop me a line🙂

Arjun in back babywear

Have fun and cheers!