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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Patanjali Herbal Kajal Review

Another great product from Patanjali. Bought this around 2 weeks back along with some other products from the brand. Since they are quite economical, I thought of trying out a few of them. This happens to be one of my favorites. Being a Kajal person, I have tried out quite a few brands and the 'Faces' one was my favorite till I experienced some irritation when I applied it on my waterline. Had discontinued applying kajal for a couple of months and was thinking of trying a good brand. And I chanced upon this product which is priced at just Rupees 90/- . Bought it without any second thoughts.

Though not the deepest black, it offers decent color. One stroke may apply quite light but with 3-4 strokes, the colors deepens noticeably. It does not sting my eyes even though I wear contact lenses throughout the day. On the other hand, it soothes the eyes and they feel quite fresh/cool. The kajal does not smudge much and lasts for 3-4 hours on my waterline/lower lash line. It is a bit difficult to apply on the upper lash and I could not get a decent enough line/color even with multiple attempts. That is ok with me as I like applying it mainly on my waterline.

The packaging is good and it does not open if you carry it around in the handbag.

In short, these are the pros and cons of the product -

Pros -

1. Herbal product with impressive list of ingredients.
2. Priced reasonably.
3. Does not smudge much.
4. Does not irritate sensitive eyes
5. Packaging is sturdy.
6. Pigmentation and texture are good though it does not work too well on upper lids.
7. It soothes the eyes. (I find it to be the best part about it)

Cons -

1. Availability could be an issue as it is sold only at the Patanjali counters.
2. Does not apply well on the upper lid.
3. Could smudge if one has oily skin.
4. Wear line is somewhat less as compared to other brands I have used.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Alu Pitha (Potato Dosa)

During my childhood days, my grandmother used to travel to her native village frequently. She used to bring back all kinds of freshly harvested produce from our ancestral fields and we would eagerly lap it up. Among all the things she brought back (including the smoked fish and the bamboo shoots), i loved the newly dug out baby potatoes the most. They had a taste and such a wonderful texture that one does not find in the variety sold in the markets.

Most of the times we used to cut it into half and stir fry it with a little mustard paste. That would be the heavenly accompaniment with 'Pakhala' (Read more about the famous 'watered rice' from Odisha HERE) during the hot summer months. Sometimes, we made alu dum with it. But on rare occasions, we turned it into a pitha or a dosa/uttapam kind of dish that goes very well with rice. I had quite forgotten about this recipe but when my mom made it during my recent trip to Rourkela, the memories came flooding back.

Read on for the simple recipe -

Preparation Time - 10-12 mins

Ingredients -

  • 9-10 baby potatoes
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1-2 dry red chili
  • 1 tsp rice (i used arwa/raw rice but one can also use Sona masuri instead)
  • 2-3 tsp mustard oil
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Soak the cumin seeds, red chili and rice for 30 mins.

Slightly crush the potatoes using a mortar and pestle . (else you can also chop it into small bits)

Take the soaked cumin seeds, red chili and rice in a mixer jar. Buzz it to get a smooth paste. Then add the crushed potatoes and give it another quick whiz. The mix should be coarse.

Cooking - Heat the oil in a pan/tawa. Add the potato mix to the pan and flatten it out like a pancake or uttapam. (do not spread it too thin)

Cook on one side till it turns reddish. Flip it over carefully and cook it to the same extent on the other side as well.

Remove from the pan.

Serve it piping hot with hot rice or pakhala.

Note - It does not taste good after it cools down. Re-heating also affects the flavour adversely. So, make it the last dish you cook when sitting down for your meal.

More than Just Luck(y)

Gaming. Lottery. Social Networking. Competition. And a genius to bring it all together. Lo and behold. The first App that revolutionizes gaming is born. While it allows one to indulge in that secret desire that everyone nurtures, it makes 'Getting Lucky' sound much more feasible than ever before. And unlike lotteries which are never transparent, this one is simple and easy. What's more, one can also turn it into a much more enjoyable and productive pursuit by tagging some friends along.

For one to play the game, one just has to download it and pick the shares of six companies (all it takes is a few taps on your smartphone screen). If the chosen stocks register the highest gains, one automatically wins. With all the brands being renowned ones, it requires one to do minimal homework before betting on the most alluring stocks. Nothing that most stock crazy Indians have not done before. And for the first time in the history of gaming, the prizes involve something more tangible than the ego-assuaging chest thumping among one's friend circle. Yes, there's cash and holidays to be won for all the time and effort that one has put in. Sounds much better than buying lottery, doesn't it ?

But since this is a game that thrives on social interaction (read 'sharing') like all others, it needs the help of social media to make the most out of it. So, say adieu to inviting friends to play 'so& so' games, only to be ignored or turned down. This time around, your friends are going to be grateful for receiving such an invite as it allows then to play and win something big. And as a bonus of your magnanimous gesture, Lucky 6 rewards you every time a friend wins. And this reward is a good 25% of what your friend has won in the game. So, the more you share, the more are your chances of winning in this game. And add that to the goodwill that one gets from a friend who has won. Friends that play together, stay together. Isn't that super cool ?

Another plus is that 'Lucky 6' being a fun social game, it is completely free. There is no catch as with other internet games that get one addicted and make one pay to go through the higher levels even as one keeps competing among friends. Sadly there are no rewards for the free publicity that such Apps/Games get via the users playing and sharing them. But it is soon going to become a thing of the past with 'Lucky 6' and Fat Cat Gaming. Excited to be going the Fat Cat way with "He who shares,wins".

This post is written for Fat Cat Gaming. Do try out and enjoy their new game....Keep playing keep winning

Fried Fish Parcels

Bored with the various kinds of fish curries and fries, I had been planning to try out something new with fish. And the Rohi fish being so very fresh in Odisha, I was reluctant to try anything crazy lest I spoil it. It was during one such confused moment that I came up with this rather simple preparation.

After marinating the fish in a salt-turmeric-mustard-garlic-green chili paste, I placed it on a banana leaf and drizzled it with more mustard oil. Then I threw in 2-3 pieces of slit green chili before wrapping up the leaf and securing it with the drumstick fibers( it was the first thing that I could find in the kitchen). People in villages usually use some kind of bark strips or natural fibers to secure the parcels.The parcels were then pan fried on low flame till the leaf turned black and shrunken. Though similar to a Bengali Fish Paturi, this one uses minimal spices.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients -

  • 4 pieces of Rohi (Rohu) fish
  • 2 tsp mustard-garlic-green chili paste 
  • 1 1/2 tsp mustard oil
  • 2-3 green chilis (slit lengthwise)
  • 2 pinch turmeric
  • 1/5 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp mustard oil for frying
  • 4 pieces of banana leaf (8" X 8" preferably) (tender leaves are best)

  • Preparation - Wash and marinate the fish with salt, turmeric and mustard paste. Leave aside for 10 mins.

    Place each piece on a banana leaf. Drizzle mustard oil over it and place 2-3 pieces of slit green chili. Close the parcel and secure it with a string.

    Cooking - Heat the mustard oil on a pan. Once it gets smoking, add the parcels and immediately lower the flame. Once the leaf on the bottom surface has turned brown with black spots showing at some places, flip it over. Let it sit on the pan till the leaf turns brown. (it takes roughly 7-8 minutes to cook on each side)

    Switch off the flame and remove the pan. Keep aside for 5 minutes.

    Carefully open the parcels and discard the leaves.

    Serve hot with white rice and dal.

    Note - For the mustard paste, the ratio of the ingredients is ' 2 tsp black mustard seeds : 4 garlic cloves : 1 green chili '. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Kolotha Dal ( the Western Odisha Version )

A heart warming recipe that is usually made during the winter months, Kolotho or Horsegram dal is one of those dishes that never given their due credit. Perhaps best known for keeping the body warm and driving away the common cold, its equally beneficial properties of regulating blood sugar and reducing/preventing the incidence of kidney/gall bladder stones are hardly known to many folks.

This is the time of the year when the freshly harvested batch of the lentil hits the markets. While most of it is sold whole, sometimes tribal women (especially in Odisha) also sell the roasted & broken version of this dal in the weekly markets (also known as 'haat'). Here is the version that my mom makes and I can never resist myself from having a bowl of the hot dal when it has been freshly tempered -

Preparation Time - 20 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 1/2 cups roasted & broken horsegram
  • 1 medium sized tomato
  • 1 ambula (or dried mango)
  • 2 dry red chili
  • 4-5 fat garlic cloves
  • 1/3 tsp panch phutana (else one can also use a mix of mustard & nigella seeds)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp oil
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Wash and cook the dal with 3 cups water, salt and turmeric in a pressure cooker. It takes 6-7 whistles or about 15 mins on a medium low flame. Keep aside till steam escapes.

Soak the ambula in 1 cup hot water.

Cooking - Heat the oil in a wok. Add the panch phutana and the broken red chilis.

Add the crushed garlic once it gets spluttering. When the garlic starts turning brown, add the finely chopped tomato and cook till mushy.

Pour the dal into the wok. Bring it to a boil. Allow to boil for 2 mins before adding the ambula along with the water in which it had been soaked. Simmer for 5-6 mins.

Remove from flame and serve hot with rice.

Note - This dal will not get completely mushy such that when you allow it to stand for a few minutes, there is a layer of clear liquid which separates out. Once can also add more water while cooking this dal and use only the liquid portion as a soup.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Patanjali Shikakai Hair Cleanser & Olive - Almond Conditioner Rave Reviews

One month. Fifty days. Hundred days. Six months. The steady flow of report cards on the performance of the Modi government refuses to ebb. I personally find it tiresome that a nation that had monumental patience with the Congress ( or should I say Gandhi family ) expects results overnight. Unlike instant noodles of coffee, government run machinery takes time to be installed and only when things are in their proper place, it can churn out the desired results. While I am no blind follower of Modi, I would like to give him time to bring about any conspicuous change.

However, coming back to vainer pursuits, we all love it when a product gives us great results from the very first use. The Patanjali Kesh Kanti Shikakai Shampoo and Kesh Kanti Conditioner (Olive-Almond) definitely falls into that category. I must confess that while I loved the first shampoo variant (yellow bottle with orange cap) launched by Patanajali, the subsequent hair cleansers (Reetha, Natural, Milk protien) failed to live up to my expectations. So, it was with a good deal of hesitation that I tried out the latest variant and the newly launched conditioner.

Read on for the reviews -

Patanjali Kesh Kanti Shikakai Hair Cleanser

A translucent shampoo with a light orange tint, it gives a good amount of lather with a small quantity and cleans my hair of excess oil from the very first wash. And my hair does contain a fair bit of oil as I do a good amount of 'Champi' on the previous night. The fragrance is quite good (slightly ayurvedic but not heavy) and lingers on for a day or too.

It contains natural ingredients like Shikakai, Hibiscus, Bhringaraj, Sugarcane and walnut which nourish the hair from scalp to the ends. Actually it reminded me of the home made hair masks I used during my school and college days. I actually left the product in my hair for 5-6 minutes as most herbal formulations usually take sometime to act. But as a downside, it contains silicones and is surfactant (detergent) based.

The product claims to be useful in dryness and roughness of hair, prevents hair fall and improves hair glow.

It is priced at Rupees 95 /- (for 200 ml).

Patanjali Kesh Kanti Hair Conditioner - Almond

A white color thick cream that spreads well, it requires only a tiny amount to cover my hair. Applied it to my hair after shampooing and thoroughly squeezing out any water. Worked it though the ends and left it on for 3 minutes before rinsing it off. I could feel the de-tangling effect even as I applied it. The directions printed on the tube mention that the product should be applied to hair after a wash, gently massage onto the scalp and leave for 1-2 mins before rinsing off with water. But as a general rule, conditioners are not supposed to be applied onto the scalp as they make it greasy and block the hair follicles, hence I applied it only on my hair ends.

It leaves behind a very mild fragrance once it is washed off and hair feels beautifully nourished from the first use itself. The product claims to condition, nourish and detangle hair, reduce hair fall, split ends and make hair healthy and strong.

It contains natural ingredients like olive oil, almond oil, gooseberry extract, hibiscus extract, shikakai extract and Bhringaraj extract. However, it also contains chemicals like silicones and parabens.

It is priced at Rupees 60 /- (for 100 mg).

The light orange liquid shown in the below pic is the shampoo while the white cream next to it is the conditioner.

A quick Recap -

Kesh Kanti Shikakai Hair Cleanser 

Pros -
1. Light shampoo with a good fragrance
2. Lathers well (even with oiled hair)
3. Priced economically at Rs 95 /- for 200 ml.
4. Contains beneficial natural ingredients.
5. Made my hair smooth, tangle-free and shiny. Even the scalp seemed clean but not dried out.

Cons -
1. Contains silicones
2. Availability might be an issue but one can buy it online too .

Kesh Kanti Hair Conditioner Almond (God knows why they forgot to mention Olive in the English print. The Hindi one reads "Jaitoon-Badam").

Pros -
1. Good de-tangling effect and makes hair quite silky.
2. Nice fragrance that is also mild.
3. Priced very economically at Rs 60/- for 100 gm. Will go a long way as very little amount of the product is required.
4. Contains beneficial natural ingredients.

Cons -
1. Contains silicones and parabens.
2. Availability might be an issue but one can buy it online too .

Friday, November 21, 2014

Biri Gojja ( A Steamed savoury delicacy )

Biri Gojja is one of the very few savoury pithas that I have ever tasted/tried. While most of the Odia pithas are more or less on the sweeter side, some like the saru chakuli, poda pitha (the Western Odisha version), sada enduri (without stuffing) and biri gojja fall into the exceptions category. Since I do not have a sweet tooth, I am naturally inclined towards the latter and love to have then with a nice curry like Ghuguni, alu dum or even Mutton/Chicken curry.

The biri gojja can be described as similar to a sijha/sukhla manda with an steamed 'biri bara' kind of stuffing. Biri or black lentil is ground into a thick batter and seasoned with various spices before being stuffed into the pitha. This recipe belongs to the Salepur/Padmapur region of Odisha and not many people know about it. However my in-laws belong to that region and my  MIL's sister churns out the most lip-smacking gojja's ever. Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 1 hour

Ingredients -

  • 1 1/2 cups raw rice 
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ghee

For the stuffing -

  • 2/3 cup black lentil/biri (skinless)
  • 1-2 finely chopped green chilis
  • 1 sprig curry leaves (finely chopped)
  • coarsely crushed black pepper
  • salt to taste

Preparation: Soak the rice for 10-15 mins. Wash and drain all the water ( Use a colander, do not dry under the fan or the sun ). Put in a grinder and grind into a fine powder.

Wash and soak the black lentil for 2-3 hours. Grind into a smooth and thick paste. Season it with salt, pepper, curry leaves and green chilis.

Cooking: Bring the water to boil. Add salt. Add the rice flour in small batches and mix continuously so that no lumps are formed.

Stir the mixture on a low flame for about 15 minutes till it takes on a softer consistency than the dough used for making rotis. Sprinkle the ghee and mix in . Switch off the flame at this stage.

Allow the dough to cool down a few degrees till it is tolerable. Rub ghee all over your hands and knead the dough for 5 mins to make it smoother.

Rub some more oil over your hands. Pinch small lumps out of the dough. Roll each lump into a ball and gently pat it to flatten it out into a circle. Put some of the black lentil dough on one half of the circle and fold the other half over it. Press it gently to close on the sides but keep the middle portion slightly open. (This ensures that the batter gets cooked thoroughly during steaming).

Boil water in a idli maker/steamer. Spread some banana leaves/thin cloth over the idli plates. Put the gojjas/dumplings over the leaf/cloth. Close the lid and steam 25-30 mins. Allow to stand with lid covered for 5-10 mins.

Take out of the idli vessel/steamer and serve warm.

Note: When adding the rice flour to milk and water, pass it through a sieve to avoid any lumps. It is important to work with the dough while it is hot else it loses its elasticity .