Paneer Bhurji

It is here! This curry demands hard work but it's worth it. If you are
like me you would delegate all cutting/chopping.grinding parts to somebody else and still claim the credit for the dish. ;)
paneer 150 gms.(homemade or packaged)
3 onions
5 tomatoes
2 fresh yellow corn cob or 1 bag frozen corn kernels
2 potatoes
2-3 garlic cloves (if you want really strong flavor go with 4)
3 chilly
3 tbs vegetable/sunflower/corn oil
1 tbs red chili powder
1/2 tbs cumin seeds
1 tbs cumin powder
salt to taste
lemon zest

If you want to be adventurous like my sister you could make paneer at home. she just heats up the 3 cups of milk on stove and when it comes to boil she adds half to three quarter worth of lemon juice. I tried to get exact proportions but this the best she could do. When curd starts separating she turns off the gas and takes paneer in paper napkin and squeezes out water in a strainer. This does not give nice little cubes like packaged paneer but it works for this recipe. Caution: it won't look as pretty as packaged paneer.

ok the Bhuraji part:
  1. Pressure cook/Microwave potatoes and corns or alternatively use frozen corn. Then microwave only potatoes.
  2. Microwave potatoes: Dent the potatoes with fork and microwave it for 3-5 minutes/potato, depending on size. When skin starts peeling out it's done. peel them and cut into cubes. I prefer pressure cooked potato.
  3. Chop up the onions in really small pieces. it needs to be small, no cheating allowed. If you don't want to chop onions you could just grind them in a blender with little water. keep aside.
  4. Chop up tomatoes and grind them to make puree (I don't like taste of canned puree in Indian cooking, tomato puree is quite easy. little messy, yeah.)
  5. Chop up ginger, chillies and garlic in fine pieces, no cheating. Again, you can use ready made paste too.
  6. Take a heavy bottom pan, heat up the oil, add cumin seeds and wait until it starts spluttering.
  7. Add ginger-chillies-garlic and saute it for about a minute.
  8. Now add onions and saute it until transparent.
  9. Add tomato puree, keep stirring for about 4-5 minutes
  10. Add all the seasonings, red chili powder, cumin powder and salt.
  11. Add potato and mix it into the sauce.
  12. Add corn and paneer to it. Stir it frequently so paneer is broken down in fine pieces, almost like in grain size.
  13. Cook for about 7-8 minutes more, stirring it frequently.
Additional options for you:
  1. Use the bag of mix vegetables instead of potato or even with potato. I hate green peas so I can't use frozen mix vegetables. 
  2. Substitute soft tofu for paneer. I hate tofu too. This will make it VEGAN! Huzzzah! If I did not love milk-tea, butter, yogurt, cheese and hate Tofu, I'd go vegan. So yeah no chance of going Vegan in this life time.
It makes an awesome dish. What's more it provides protein in a same dish! No need of cooking dal or leaving out protein from your diet.

I won't steal empty cans...

I have to share this. too funny to let it go unheard.
So I exit out on the street from my apartment, there is this hobo in front of me with his cart full of empty cans and other trinkets. The side walk is too narrow for me to pass with my bike, this guy and his cart. Street is lined with car so I am trying to figure out how to get on street, all the while walking in his direction. I notice this guy is staring at me intently. I am little uncomfortable so I wished him good morning, he replied GOOD MORNING DARLING with the enthusiasm of a cheer leader. finally I found little room between two cars to get out and he was right there so I had to walk around his cart to get out, I am mid way through and he jumped on my side with covering his cart with his hand as if I was gonna steal those precious empty cans! ha! I was startled at first but then I could not resist and laughed out loud and he stared at me some more and started to yell but I just hopped on my bike and ran away.
I don’t know what I did to experience this. ok, I tried to get in the bathroom before my sister even though she had to leave first but that’s not that big of a offense, right?
ok, I promise the next post will be my driving adventures in Ca. I swear!

Holi: "funny brownies"

Good morning toastmasters, today I will talk about my favorite festival Holi. It is the best festival in the whole wide world! What a boisterous thing to say! Right? Well, That's what Holi is about: boisterous, rowdy fun. Holi is the festival of cool colors, tasty treats, frivolous fun and for the lack of better expression “funny brownies”. Yes you heard that right! Even with this carefree demeanor the underlying message behind Holi is universal brotherhood and love.
 First I will tell you the story behind the message and then we will take a look at celebration itself.  Once upon a time young Krishna asked his mother that why Radha, his girlfriend, was so fair and he was so dark. Yashoda, his mother advised him to cover her in color and then see. Of course Radha sprinkled the color back on him and that cascaded into everybody spraying colors and water on each other. Lord Krishna made this as a part of the traditional harvesting festivities to signify love and unity.  India is a conservative place with a palpable class and gender distinction. Holi defies all these social and cultural restrictions and bridges the gap between man and woman and between all the layers of social strata.
 Holi is a two day festival. It begins on the first full moon day of spring. The first day is a traditional celebration of new harvest. The bonfire is ceremoniously kindled in the moonlight and people walk around fire singing songs. The fire signifies the cleansing of dirt and filth.
 The second day celebration is the reason Holi is known as a festival of colors. The day starts with power pack breakfast of dates and milk. Then people don their most worn out clothes as they won't be able to wear them ever again. Then they arm themselves with colors and water guns. The celebration begins with the family and is mild enough, just a smudge of color here and there. No water yet. As the day gets brighter the braver family members go out and form a group. First they sprinkle color on each other and then water gun fight begins, when everybody is thoroughly soaked in water the group ends the fight. The groups prowl through streets to find a new groups to have water gun fights. As the day gets warmer and warmer celebration gets wilder and wilder with water. The kids throw water filled balloons on unsuspecting passers bys If you resist the result could be as dire as being hosed down them with the a garden hose or even being dunked into pools.
 As the Sun reaches to the pinnacle people drenched in colors and water gather up in open space where a pot of buttermilk is hung 20 feet high in the air, goal is to break the pot without stones or sticks. This sight is something to behold. Sea of kaleidoscopic faces forming a human pyramid and trying to break the terracotta pot. It's a pure euphoria.
 Speaking of euphoria, what would be the most appropriate subject other then? any guesses? Yes! “funny brownies” Frivolous fun is so much woven with the Holi that it's the only time when it is socially acceptable to use drugs for recreation, even in the dry state of Gujurat! Cannabis Pakora, that is deep fried fritters and cannabis thandai that is almond and milk drink are consumed throughout the day.
 You know how you would crave oily, fatty food after big downfall, Holi food is prepared with that in mind. It ranges from tongue tickling mint chat, to savory yogurt fritters to cold, creamy thnadai to mouthwatering curries and flat breads. The day ends with total exhaustion and food coma.
In the closing I would say Holi is my favorite festival for three reasons. The first is obviously kaleidoscopic colors and splash of water in scorching heat. Ahh good times! The second is the shear variety of sweet, spicy savory food. The last one is, how altruistic message of love and unity is blended into seemingly a rowdy show of indulgence.

confession of a cheater

Laser Tag

So we went to Laser tag few weekends ago. Apparently  one of my friend had gone before with this group and he had fun. So he invited me along this time but he bowed out last minute. I went anyway. Thought, what the heck, I would make new friends a least. I did not know any of them. This is very important later in the entry.

Laser Tag: It's a high tech version of Hide and Seek with 40 people playing at a time. You get a harness, laser gun and a chip to insert into your gun. This chip keeps your score on namely, how many times you were tagged and how many time you tagged others. You go into a dark, maze like room. You choose a hiding place and try to tag as many people as you can while moving further deep into the room. oh and you try not to tag by others. Harness have four receivers: front, back and two on shoulders. You get highest points if you tag the front receiver and lowest if you tag the back, shoulders are somewhere middle. [Laser tag people won't tell you any of this until after the game by the way] oh I know! Patience my dear patience! I will tell you in a minute how and whom I cheated. We had decided to play two games. I never had played this before so I was like hide and seek, meh! They  recited us rules but I was too busy thinking one of the guy indeed was wearing flamingo pink jeans?! oh and the attendant guy had a cold so I did not understand most of his introduction speech. Who cares about it anyway! You go in, point your laser at people and have fun! They actually do care. The Laser tag guys keep your score and upload on the big screen outside for all to see!
Now I was given a chance to choose my tag name. Foolishly enough I had chosen oi! so everybody knew the only person with negative scoring was me! Daymn! Negative scoring! 5 people whom I never had met before were judging me like a piece of candy! and a piece of rotten candy was the verdict at that!

One of the guy(A) asked me in all seriousness that why did I get negative scoring. [Yeah I love to be a  chocolate flavored candy corn, you know] He insisted that I should not get negative scoring  it's kinda bad looking. [duh?!] Yeah he was a real charmer. He also showed me piece of paper with tips, that was his score card! So It is actually a very serious business. They hand you score card! huh! I thought this this was a game?! and I was suppose to have fun! He tried to analyze my score card which showed that I was hit by 50 people! [Out of 40] My score card said that I did not kill anybody but my gun made this really cool zapping sound so I thought I was killing people. Turned out laser gun makes zapping sound regardless of hitting the receiver or not. [Really intuitive, right!]  I played it cool.  A kept showing me all "rules" and "tips" from that damned score card which I ended up tearing up in his face [I did not say I kept my cool forever, alright?, Jeez!] and he left me alone. So I bore those snickers and doodles for 15 more minutes, they said this was the best game they ever had. Yes of course! The second game started and I was determined not to get negative scoring this time.

This time I went in first, I did not care if 10 years old wanted go in before me. [I was the last person to enter in the first game because I let all kids go in before me] I found a corner and started killing all the entering people. Rug rats or senile 60 years olds, you are going down if you choose to enter into oi's path of destruction. [Insert evil laugh here]

Suddenly I heard those snickers again and I felt I need to do something. I acted fast. I removed my harness and put on one shoulder in such a way that so nobody can tag me and positioned myself in a dark corner, never moved from there and tagged hell outta everybody.  One guy (B) from our group saw me with my harness on one shoulder and he was like: "aha! so clever of you! Don't worry I won't tell anybody." I was like: "hey what are you talking about dude? oh harness! It was too heavy and hurting my back [it really was] so took off to get some fresh air ok?" I probably had receivers blocked for 5-6 minutes, [ok 7-8, alright! alright! no more than 10 ok? stop looking at me! Jesus Christ!] out of a 20 minutes game. I put on my harness back and finally after ages the game was over and we went out to see our scores! I was in first five! omg! everybody in my group almost kissed my feet. All I wanted was not to get negative scoring and here I am being interviewed to the death by A on how to get high scores?! He was like,"wow! give me tips too. You are so awesome." oh and B kept appearing around me with a knowing smile. I think after 20 minutes of insane praise he could not hold it anymore. He appeared besides me and casually mentioned that some people had cheated with their harness on the one shoulder. He tried to hint people that he was talking about me by side way glances towards me but one of the guy was like" "I know right! C(The highest scorer guy who was not in our group) had his harness on shoulder, I saw that" Ha! Poor B! oh sorry, I am not suppose to be happy here.

I can not bear this pain of being a cheater and I have decided to come out clean by confessing to you guys. This cheating has haunted me day and nights. I lost my sleep, appetite, and comfort. oh by the way I hear that that's how you feel when you fall in love?  Really?! Anybody out there can confirm this? I mean I will hate to loose my sleep you know.
There you go, you have a confession of a cheater.  Do you cheat on something that is not a professional competition, something that suppose to be fun past time? [Not that I support cheating in professional competitions!]

The chosen one!

Short post. Basically a tweet.
I am buying a bike and they are paying me to ride one! 
So one fine morning State called me and said: You are the chosen one! You are a good person and we want you to save the environment! I said: well, I do want to save the mother nature. They said: There you go! We knew you are the one, from the minute we had a glimpse of your name in in our applications amidst thunder and lightening! go! get a bike and report to us, o'chosen one! I said: well, fine. if you insist. They say: Do not despair o' chosen one, we will pay you 49 cents/mile and compensate for accessories! I said: Mother nature is precious we should save her and sigh left me. They said: o'chosen one for you, and only for you! We will pay for your public transport expense too! 
Mother nature loves me and I love her back!
Pat on my back!
Thank you!
yeah, yeah, there are fine prints like this is a starter incentive for three months only, reward/compensation are limited to $100 maximum and I have to sacrifice two Saturdays but who is counting teeth of donated cow? not me!

Why Google Book Search project is Evil....

GSBP: Google Book Search Project
AAP:   Association of American Publishers
BSS:   Book Search Settlement

Imagine you are looking for some rare book, you can't find it in libraries, bookstores or even on Amazon. Finally you find it it on Google Book Search, and you are happy as a clam only to discover that you have to pay $10, 000 to get it! Yes that can be very real scenario if the GBSP continues as it is planned.
Alright! you are like we know you just want to make sensational statements for shock value. but, but, bear with me while I provide background.

GBSP is an ambitious plan to digitize the every book ever written and available in world's libraries. In 2004, Google started teaming up with some biggest libraries of English speaking world like NY public library, Howard, Oxford etc. to scan their entire collection in Google database, so far Google has scanned 10 millions books. The mission of the project was simple: to organize world's information and make it universally accessible. Sounds benign enough right? No, my dear sir, it's not that simple.

There is a copyright law for protection of literature.That says you can not use copy righted material without explicit permission from  the holders except for fair use. Google initially planned to use only little snippets from scanned work in response to query. This would circumvent the copyright but AAP sued Google arguing that mere scanning of collection is copyright infringement. They (AAP) are not wrong because google did not seek permission of actual right holders. To overcome this problem Google struck up a deal AAP called BSS.
ok now Answer:
oh the question. Right.
Why the GBSP is evil?

The deal is where devil lies. So what happened here was:  A cope caught a thief stealing a loaf of bread so he struck a deal with him: If the thief robs the next door bank too and shares that loot with the cop, he is good to go!  ok, let me explain.

There are two class of copyrighted material in print literature and out of print literature or orphan books. These are the books whose right holders cannot be found. This deal awards exclusive right to google to use/sell these books as long as it shares profit with AAP.  Yep you read that right! it's like legalized version of finders are keepers, but only finders have to share the item with the proverbial big brother, in this case AAP. oh and this settlement has class action status. What does that mean? That means right holders of the orphan books don't even know that their rights are being compromised  in US court. Normally in class action status lawsuits affected parties are sent mail from  the court informing them outcome of the lawsuit even if they never participated in the lawsuit. you guys have received such mails. Say one of the wireless service provider is sued for wrong text messaging charges by one of the customers and nature of the lawsuit is determined to be class action  then the court sends mail to all the customer informing them about the lawsuit and outcome of the lawsuit. But here the original right holders can not be found to start with so they would not ever know that they do not own the books that they themselves published or wrote. As wrong and unjust it sounds, it actually is. you are like but I never wrote a book so why do I care? but my dear reader you are the bigger victim here because you (common consumer) will pay the price of monopoly.

In conclusion I will try to answer these three simple questions:
1. Is google as a company evil or unethical?
Probably not. Thanks to Google you can see your home from space, track swine flu(it was current when I prepared this speech but...i will say procrastination sucks) or figure out traffic congestion without paying a dime for it. oh and you are reading this because of Google. blogger is free service from Google. :wink:
2. Does google rouse suspicion?
Yes it does. There is this habit of tracking what you search for and take your contacts from your Gmail account make it public without ever consulting you(remember early version of Buzz?) [I had much more material on this one but I removed from the final draft to fit into time limit and my old laptop died without warning so I lost it all and more. again procrastination sucks people]
3. Is the GBSP and BSS evil?
Yes. It's awarding exclusive right of selling books to a single company giant! do I need to say more? No? but I will. :P

First and foremost, authors, the real owners/publishers are over stepped and common consumer is subjected to monopoly for millions and millions of books not just one or two. This sheer amplitude of the impact is nerve wracking itself. how anybody in their right mind can agree to something like this?

UPDATE: My friend told me and rightfully so that I need to say something about China-Google conflict. Well, I think Google is right on that one.  I need to read more to form a detailed opinion.On surface Google seems right. also I am not at all anti Google, I think Google has show sportsmanship so far. I am anti monopoly though.

Avatar Review and Musing it awoke.

Avatar Review Engineer's style:

Script/Story: 2/5
Imagination: 3.5/5
Animation: 5/5
Acting: 4/5
Direction: 3/5

Avatar Review, Scholar's style:
ok It's kinda late. I watched movie four weeks ago but was too busy catching up at work. When movie ended my reaction was [at applauding people] bunch of idiots! everybody was like ooh and aah! but frankly that was not the emotion it awoke in me. I would have felt that if story too was equally powerful as the animation. Look at those blue people and beautiful scenery of Pandora and you can't help but admire Cameron.

Let's start with story: he could done have lot better. What was the story about? A fool can see that it was the story about how Europeans had attacked and tried to destroy native culture of [Insert any country here] but with cheesy and totally BS end. They failed at it! (Europeans failed) If you are going to make it about real issues then at least keep it real. We are not toddlers that we need to be fed in form of  baby powder flavored with different food, in  name of real food.
You guys are like but no! he wanted to give message about how we are destroying our planet and one day we might be out of resources. In that case final message came across was: Even if we keep destroying available resources we will be successful in finding new resources by hook or crook.

Imagination: I gave 3.5/5 because it was not pure imagination it was tainted by real rituals of different cultures. For example Navi's prayer music resembles so much to Muslim prayer music. There was a mosque not too far from my home and it blared Adhan (call for prayer or announcement for namaz time) five times a day on loud speaker.
As soon as they started prayer I was transported to my hometown. Then comes their ritual gestures to revive human grace. I swear that was like to be back in time namely in 17th century where people would believe in ancestor spirits and stuff. ok I need to explain: In Hindu culture there is a phenomenon called "mataji aavva" literally: materialization of goddess's spirit into human. here is the picture of Goddess.

 When this happens said human gains superhuman physical strength and sometimes ability to predict future. It's quite difficult to restrain the man/woman in this condition. Normally this happens when goddess is angry at somebody about something and wants to stop that behavior. Like if some mother in law is being cruel to DIL then goddess will come into DIL's body and forbid MIL from being cruel etc.oh sorry! I ventured in wrong direction. so point was when "mataji aavva" happens said person starts shaking violently back and forth just like in Graces' revival scene Navis do.  Disclaimer said phenomenon is a psychological disorder per Indian psychologists. you can guess that scene does not induce awe emotion. My brain was struggling between two totally different scenes it created in my mind. music was reminding of the mosque and scene was reminding me off person being restricted by 10 people and still in violent fury. I am pretty sure native Africans also can see some of their ritual being used as Pandora's own culture.
This is not imagination this is sewing of two cultures in worst possible way to create new, original culture. huh!!? even that sentence is awkward.

Animation: well it's 5/5 so nothing to say, except perfect, brilliant etc.

Acting: They got 4 because half of the actors are not real. The real ones have done good job.

Direction:  It gets 3 because let's face it there was not much to be directed in the story, was there? Half of the movie is cartoon and for the rest of the part there is a bedtime story to be followed.

Overall: It's like a mediocre product in a very shiny and expensive packaging with  extra oridinary and totally awesome accessory for the average product.
     -x- review ends here -x-

while we were watching movie my sister asked why aliens always have to be ugly. I said that's a good question. I will answer you in my blog. That way I can be sure about at least one reader. ;)

My theory is we always imitate what we see in the nature when we create fictional world. (damn! this theory  nullifies my argument about Cameron not being original but he failed at hiding his sources) Man is the most beautiful or symmetrical creature in entire animal kingdom. yeah when each feature is compared individually with different animals we fail but overall product is the best. So whenever we try to create a new creature we never can make it nicer than us. The other theory is in more than less movies aliens are bad guy, now bad guys have to be ugly.  Navi's are not that bad because they are not bad guys but still they are not really beautiful either. The third theory is total destruction theory. continue at your own risk. (inner critic raises eye brow with gimlet eyes(holler to dear friend glo!) me: What?! oh, i never condemn being cheesy, inner critic: friking hypocrite!) The perception of viewer is relative, viewer would be my sister, may be she has ultimate standard for being beautiful is, Man. so any creature other than human is not as beautiful as man. Well that is entirely possible as narcissism runs in our family. :P (Champa, please don't kill me)
Any other theories? please put them in comments I would love to discuss.

oh and interesting fact: Avatar is a Sanskrit word, meaning Incarnation of deity on earth.  Gotta give 10/5 for the title of the movie.

Authentic Kathiyavadii Sheera recipe with jaggery or gur!! hail oi! ;)

ATTN: West coast people
Imagine it's raining cats and dogs outside and howling wind is keeping up with rain fairly decently  You can't go anywhere in this miserable weather. You already have two cups of coffee/chai/Jack Denial in order to warm up. Now you want something to comfort you while you watch crappy reality television and keep your hang over at a bay right?

[Hang on for a minute, while I make east coasters miserable ok?]

ATTN: east coast people,
Imagine it's been snowing for past 4 days and there is a foot high snow outside. You just came in after shoveling your side walk second time in past 12 hours. Sucks hardcore, ain't it?
You want something hot and sweet and nourishing to your tired bones.

Well, mope not! I have a perfect dish for you. It's easy, it's fast and best of all you don't need to make a run to the grocery store to make it!!! I know! (ok it's true only for Indians, all my non-Indian friends please make a run to Indian grocery store before you start drinking/shoveling/being sad. My apologies.)

Without further ado here is Sheera recipe.
You can eat as dessert or side dish or itself if you don’t mind sweet dish as main dish.
Serves 2 people normally or 4-5 calorie conscious people. :)

1 cup whole Wheat flour (make sure it’s not refined wheat flour known as maida)
1/2 cup ghee (clarified butter)
1/2 cup jaggery (substitute powdered sugar if jaggery is not available)
3 cup water.
optional: (you can use either, both or none)
1/4 cup almonds, thinly sliced (brings richness)
3 table spoon dry ginger powder ("Shunth" if you go to Indian store); (brings little hotness to this all around sweet dish, makes cold and cough go away);(my favorite version)
1. In a wok heat up ghee for about 1/2 minute. Lower heat add flour. Stir the flour with broad spatula continuously for five minutes so that it is roasted evenly.
2. Add either almond or dried ginger powder in to flour. Keep roasting the flour for 5-7 minutes more or until mixture is deep brown. (if you use non stick pan it will be around 12 minutes and you will require really strong arms,;) normal wok is recommended.)
3. Meanwhile boil water in a separate pan. now if you are using jaggery then add it into water, let it melt into water. If you are using sugar then no need to add it into water. Add the boiling water to the flour mixture slowly. Increase the flame a little and stir gently in one direction to avoid forming any lumps.
4. In 2-3 minutes water will be absorbed completely. Lower the flame, add sugar into mixture, if you added jaggery in step 3 then of course don't add sugar. Continue to stir for 2-3 minutes or until it’s mixed well.
There you go, ultimate comfort food is ready. It’s calorie count is really high but totally worth it.
It looks like this:

Picture courtesy:

how I embarrassed my IT department!!

ok It was not my original intent to embarrass them but...
Our IT department updated our MSoffice to 2007 and screwed up the document managing program. It impacted me the most. Email war started between me and IT dep. They suggested bunch of solutions. None of them worked. I got pissed. Opened up my own eyes and the help files. did not find anything. really got pissed. this time actually opened the brain too. read coded error 55 times. found the clue word. plugged in the search bar of help files. found three relevant topics. read them. figured out solution. followed through. voila!
My heart said I am on the right track. Now read the error code again. nothing at all. so changed my attack strategy from help files to common sense. opened the property box try to find the program name. found it was wrong! changed it to the correct one. Now followed the steps I previously deducted from help files .
It worked!
Called IT people. he saluted me! and told me to write down those steps and email him. turned out there are lots of people facing same problem in other offices too.
oh yeah we only have 50 people in our dedicated IT department.