Sunday, November 27, 2011

For you, a thousand times over ..

Back in 2008, I grabbed this book titled - The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini at a Crossword (book shop) outlet, Bangalore. I read about 3 chapters from it and loved the narration style used. Every discussion, thereafter, of the book with peers, yielded only positive reviews. There were many who were willing to offer me their copy so that I could read and return. I refrained, for two reasons. One - somewhere back then, I had many activities at hand and made no efforts to organize time for my interests and second, if it was such a glorious book, I preferred to buy a copy of it for my own book shelf, retain it with me for life. 

Finally ... springing up from my memory's long lost corners, I purchased this book on a Friday in Nov 2011 ... and I was very glad! The weekend gave me ample time to finish the book midst many piled up household chores. In fact, the book offered such an awesome read I finished it early Saturday itself, starting Friday night. 

The Kite Runner is all about human emotions, relations, the minor nuances involved that define them and that complicate them. But there is no overdose of it at all, no verbose descriptions, no purple prose. Just purely simple and powerful expressions and phrases which each one of us can relate to. The backdrop of the story is set in Afghanistan, pre and post Russian invasion times unto the recent, destructive Taliban regime. So this is not a story of Afghanistan - no historical narrative, but purely a fiction piece that uses the Afghan and Pakistan towns and villages as its fabric for life.

There is servile loyalty in one character, there is confusion mixed with cowardice in another. There are expectations, the burden that results from it, some moments of happiness and many of disappointment in a father-son relation, mixed feelings of betrayal, anger and guilt that choke a young but strong and intense friendship. 

The book opens with profound depth when it states - I became what I am today at the age of twelve.  It says - Its' wrong what people say about past; I have learned,  how to bury it, because the past claws its way out each time. In my opinion, this is very true, who we are at a much older age is all moulded in many "apparently insignificant" years of childhood. 

Portions of the tale from 1975-81 set in Afghanistan and again in 2001 wrench one's heart, there are so many expressions and dialogues that bring a tear, a smile, some thoughts and severe contemplation. Serious concern of a father like - A boy who won't stand up for himself becomes a man who can't stand upto anything are so commonplace and that's what makes the story so relatable while reading. The tale gets a small slump when it reaches the USA, primarily because it is the past at Kabul that is the bedrock of the tale and is intriguing till the end. There are lot of children in Afghanistan but little childhood, a child's description of a long wait for good things to occur equated as waiting for sour apples to turn sweet present acute lyrical excellence. The kite competition, the slingshot, the Shahnama, a leather bound notebook are few lifeless elements that bring vitality to the story. 

For you, a thousand times over! is a simple expression that recurs in the story at crucial junctures. To me, I am glad I own a copy of this book. To summarize, this is a great piece of fiction, not even once overdone in narration, a must-have in one's bookshelf, may be then one can read it a thousand times over! 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Redirection to a new space

Hello All,

Posts in this blog - FURORE SCRIBENDI, under the label - Foodie's Sphere have been moved to a new space in The link pointing to this new space is and is called Foodies' Sphere. From now on posts related to recipe trials in kitchen, good eateries in Bangalore or anywhere else in India, plainly stating, anything related to food, will appear in this blog space.

Reasons for migration: I found posts under the label - Foodie's Sphere quite illustrious plus different in terms of interested audience, thereby decided to keep them apart. I always wanted to have a personal blog space on cooking but had minimal first hand experience back in 2008 when Furore Scribendi began. With about 5 years of experience in kitchen, post wedlock and much learnt from my mother, mother-in-law, trial and error in kitchen and largely from friends on blogger space, the intention to create this dedicated space for food/cooking related posts has found more and better meaning.

The posts under this label - Foodie's Sphere will remain on this blog till end of 2011, these will all be deleted when the new year begins. These, along with more and new ones, from now on, will be available at

Thanks for reading !! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in advance.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Feasty Yeasty Experiments - 2

No Knead Focaccia Bread 

Another post stating many thanks to Cakes and More blog. I just could not stop playing with yeast and roller pin and flour last weekend. After baking two batches of rolls, I went ahead with confidence and picked up this quick and easy recipe. It is very quick, requires less effort and yields a super tasty flat bread that goes very well with tea. 

As already mentioned in my previous post on no knead rolls, Suma's blogposts offer a direct "put-to-practice" recipes. The link leading to the recipe on her blog is given below -

Not much I altered in the parent recipe, I followed the ingredients as is. Minor modifications are as below- 

  • I omitted grated fresh coconut. I didn't have any at home. 
  • I used only 1 cup of APF and altered all other ingredients accordingly. 
  • I used a 6' round tin for baking the flat bread. 
  • I fried the finely chopped green chillies and coriander with hing, salt and sugar in oil, added required quantities of water and coconut milk to this. Then I added yeast upon hitting the right luke warm temperature. Into this, I incorporated the flour. We enjoy spicy stuff at home, therefore I added the chillies directly to the batter and mixed it well. 
  • I sprinkled little rosemary, thyme and oregano (mixture) as a final topping before sending the tin into the oven. 
  • I baked in my Samsung microwave convection oven at 180'C for 35 minutes. I didn't use the grill option for more browning. I checked for the hollow sound trick, it worked and I stopped at that. 

Nice, tasty flat bread and my weekend went well with fruitful experiments with yeast. My fascination for such yeasty experiments continues ... it is only Tuesday and I am already waiting to get my apron, gloves on and bake more goodies :) 

A big note of thanks to Suma and her blog ( again for all valuable and truly delectable recipes. Many more thanks to you, I get to score many brownie points with friends and family with these recipes.  

Monday, November 14, 2011

Feasty Yeasty Experiments - 1

No Knead Choco Chip Rolls

Come weekend, my head is full of ideas, to cook something special. There are two worlds in cooking, broadly (in my opinion) - one is the routine, daily world, one full of veggies, pulses and spices that drives daily life. The other is this intriguing world of baking which poses interesting challenges and tempts one to keep on trying and improving. I was vehemently pulled into this second world by following the blog - Cakes and MoreThis blog is authored by Suma Rowjee, frankly and simply stating, my Baking Guru :) 

I attribute my entry into the world of baking goodies, the sudden drive to procure an oven and a constant enthusiasm to learn many neat tricks to churn out perfect goodies to her blog. There are many elements that make this blog very special for a reader. From the write up that leads to the recipe, measurements of ingredients (which one can blindly trust and follow), many important tips and clear instructions, out-of-the-world pictures of baked goodies, a supreme baker cum chef like presentation of final products - be it Graham crackers tied with a red ribbon, chocolate ganache spilling out of a cup, olive oil in an Arabian Nights style glass bottle :) - the many brilliant aspects of this blog instilled and maintains my passion for baking. 

I was content, for some time, with baking cakes without cream icing/topping. Sponge cakes, marble cakes, mawa cakes and fruit cakes were on my list of well accomplished dishes.  I forayed into the yeasty domain, for the first time, with these choco chip rolls (eggless and no knead). I am glad I performed my first experiments with yeast as baking with this elusive ingredient gives a unique sense of satisfaction, an unparalleled one I must say. Along with this smug happiness, comes a sense of fear. You want to outsmart yourself every time you use yeast and churn out consistently delectable and sponge soft goodies. Getting the temperature right, getting the yeast to bubble and froth is a pure adventure, fit enough to give an adrenaline surge in domestic environment itself. But the pretty outcome of baking with yeast is that the house turns into a sweet heaven with the smell of ambrosia from the oven, spreading all over and bringing lots of cheer and devilish hunger too.

Without further ado, I bring forth the link I referred to, the recipe I followed which helped me make these yummilicious, soft choco chip rolls. 

I followed the ingredients (their measure) for dough as is in the blog. I used Gloripan yeast 1 1/4 teaspoons. For the filling, I used choco chips I bought from IBCA, Bangalore. 

I followed all steps as mentioned in the procedure, no digressions. I divided the dough into two batches - out of one I baked rolls instantly and the other batch, I refrigerated and used to make rolls the next day. I got a total of 12 rolls from this dough and we devored them happily with tea over the weekend. 

Here are few pictures of the photogenic rolls I made -

Big smiles on my face and waiting for the coming weekend to make more of these rolls with different filling and many more experiments with yeast.

Thanks (wholeheartedly) to Suma and her efforts :) 
Cakes and More !! ( rocks !! 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Weekday Baking : Eggless Mawa Cake

A quick post on baking - I tried out Eggless Mawa Cake yesterday and it came out super delicious. 
I followed the recipe provided in the link below - 

I did not attempt too many modifications, just took note of below points - 
1) I used only 1/2 cup milk in total. This itself gave me cake batter of the right consistency. I did not require additional 1/4 cup of milk. 
2) I added 7-8 strands (pinch of) of saffron, no additional sugar with it. I added the saffron to the batter without pounding it. 
3) I baked the cake in a round 8' tin at 160'C for 30 minutes. 

The eggless version of this Mawa cake came out very well, nice brown and soft, with delicate taste of saffron, bites interlaced with crunchy cashewnut bits. 

Below are some pictures of the cake taken on my mobile phone - 

Picture of the cake (in true colors) taken using Nikon DSC 

Cake cut - picture taken using Nokia 1.3 MP camera

Thanks to Saffron Trail for providing me such a wonderful recipe. I will surely make this over and over again on many other occasions. Loved the cake completely! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

From Sholavaram to Buddh International Circuit

A shower of memories flooded me on 30/10/2011 as I sat down to watch the inaugural session of Formula One Indian Grand Prix. The elite sport commenced at 3 pm on India's Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida and the sixty lap race spanning roughly two hours gripped my interest wholly.

Sitting in front of the television, I recollected some of my father's conversations on motor cycle racing, the magic this sport weaved back in 1980s in Sholavaram circuit, near Chennai. The Indian Grand Prix commenced and Vroom Vroommmed the super machines. My father remained an avid fan of bikes and motor cycle racing in 1980s, his young days. During a span of 8 years, from his age 25-33, he owned two Royal Enfield Bullet bikes and two YEZDI. As a kid, I could figure out my dad arrived home by picking up the majestic DUD..DUD..DUD notes of his bike. I proudly occupied a place on his bike's fuel tank. As per his accounts, the first race I saw was the last race held at Sholavaram circuit in 1988. However, I do not carry memories of this racing circuit, once an air strip during World War II times. The Madras Motor Sports Club, thereafter, changed the venue of racing from Sholavaram to Irungattukottai, near Sriperumbadur, off Chennai.

Passionate about racing, powerful bikes and cars, rallies - few of which he has been a part himself, my father took me to many races held at Irungattukottai. Images of this race track remain clearly etched in my memory - a gigantic MRF tyre arch at the head of the circuit, stands made of wooden planks for audience and few special stands/glass towers for the rich class.

Come February every year, my father would take us all - me, my mother, my cousins, aunts and uncles who visited us at that time, to the Formula 3 races at this venue. This was an era of glorious names like Karivaradhan, J. Anand, Vicky Chandok, Akbar Ebrahim and Vijay Mallaya.

Anyone with an iota of interest in motor sports in 1990s could not afford to feign ignorance when the name Sundaram Karivaradhan was mentioned. This legend hailed from a wealthy business family of Coimbatore (Lakshmi Mills), remained reticent in social spheres and highly committed to the advent and steady progress of motor racing in India. The impetus he provided inspired and sprung forth the current heroes - Narain Karthikeyan, Karun Chandok and Armaan Ebrahim. Formula India Single Seater Maruti Engine was Kari's brain child and with it began the first and complete tryst of India with this sport, a sport that does not stop with flushing gallons of adrenaline in its drivers but instills a huge rush of this hormone in its audience too. Cars would zoom and whroom past, lap after lap, fast, faster and fastest each time. Whizz men were unfazed by the deadly turns and corners, they cracked it all in a fiery fashion. Speed meant absolute power!  

The constant buzz of the Formula One cars - Ferrari, Renault and Mc Laren Mercedes etc on Buddh International Circuit gave me a quiet sense of satisfaction and happiness, I was lucky to have witnessed Formula 3 races at Irungattukottai at least over 4 years during my childhood times. Probably, this introduction to motor sports, in my home town, at a young age inspired me to follow Formula One intently. 

Come lap 24 of the Indian Grand Prix; a fiery battle ensued between Felipe Massa of Ferrari team and Lewis Hamilton of McLaren Mercedes, their cars cut across and collided for the fifth time this season. The feud on television,  quite reminded me of rivalry between Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna in 1989-91. I followed rivalry between these two drivers much more intently than the on-field battles between India and Pakistan in cricket. Ayrton Senna's death in 1994 San Marino Grand Prix pained me terribly. His death evoked a sense of fear and overshadowed the sense of awe I had for the sport. The period of abysmal interest towards Formula One halted with the entry of iconic Michael Schumacher. His unbeaten championships from 2000-2004 pumped up zeal. He and Ferrari made an indomitable combination, his prowess at the wheel was and remains unsurpassable. People knew results of the race he participated in before they began. 

Path was paved for few greenhorns in the sport with Michael Schumacher's retirement announced in 2006.His return to Formula One with Mercedes GP team in 2010 assured the king cannot stay away from his empire and subjects for long. At the age of 42, he churned out a rank 5 in the Indian Grand Prix. 

Sebastian Vettel, the young gun (a double champion now) led every lap, right from start to finish, turned the apple of eye of every Indian who watched the race that Sunday. Vettel equalled Michael Schumachers' record of 11 wins in a season yet leaving most critics admit that the former had a long way to go before being placed at par with the Messiah

The Buddh International circuit looked fantastic with its cynical combination of turns - thanks to its architect - Hermann Tilke. Champagne poured lavishly on the podium, smiles shone on faces of Sebastian Vettel (1), Jenson Button (2) and Fernando Alonso(3). The opulence that evaded India for long, arrived in a weekend in October 2011at the cost of farmers' land, humongous funds during economic downturn times and many more factors that are busily analysed by media. I am not sure if we deserve to and will be able to play host to this splendid power packed sport. All I can say is that - the two hours long event on Oct 30, 2011 helped me revive some lost interest in Formula One and I snugly relished the memorable journey from Sholavaram times to F1 Indian Grand Prix at Buddh International Circuit.