blog event

“Keep props tasteful and simple. Remember the food is the star!
Robin Zachary

Eggs & ThymeFood photography and food styling are best friends forever. One cannot excel without the other, and it’s an endless learning experience. The net is never ceases to amaze, showcasing the vast talent that lies before us. Food blogs are an important contributors too, some who have inspired me endlessly for so many years. Does my blog look good in this {DMBLGiT}  …. Baby mustard greens stir fryor this…Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake…maybe this Strawberries… or this? Styling and shooting food is music to my ears, thoughts that fill my head all day long. Call it an obsession, call it wasteful pleasure, call it developing a skill set  or hobby, even shooting for clients, shooting is what I like to do best. I could spend hours with the camera, just whiling my time away, clicking colours, angles, produce, cakes … anything food. These are simple pleasures in the life of a food blogger. Where else would you find such a large-hearted community that is brought together by pure food porn?

bundts 800And that brings me in to announce the winners of the DMGLBiT {Does my blog look good in this} April 2015. I am eternally grateful to the sweet Sophia Terra-Ziva and Ludmila Slokoski for taking time out of their busy schedules to judge this event. It means a lot to the food bloggers community when stalwarts like you who inspire us through every frame connect with us like this. Also HUGE thanks to Neel @ LFP who has resurrected this event and agreed to judge it too, despite traveling across continents!

Summer Ready with GOQiiThank you ALL, the wonderful food bloggers for whole heartedly joining in. This event is on it’s feet only because of you. The enthusiasm, the spirit and the ‘wanting’ to learn is heartening to see. The judges have enjoyed looking at the submissions, and have offered feedback/comments on what you sent in. If you wish to hear how they felt, or how you can improve, then do drop me a line. I will be happy to share it with you. And now, time for the drumroll as we announce the well deserving winners.

DMBLGiT April 2015 Winners

Each DMBLGiT event has 6 total winners.  One in each of these categories Edibility, Originality and Aesthetics – so that’s three. And three positions for overall winners.

Edibility Category Winner

DMBLGiT_March_2015Nicole Branan of The Spice Train

Aesthetics Category Winner

DMBLGiT_March_2015 (6)

Madhuri Aggarwal of MADaboutkitchen

Originality Category Winner {we had a tie}

Rose sherbetAmbica Selvan of Lingering Aftertaste

DMBLGiT_March_2015 (6)Madhuri Aggarwal of MADaboutkitchen

Overall Winner – Third PlaceDMBLGiT_March_2015 (18)Sanjeeta kk of Lite Bite

Overall Winner – Second Place
DMBLGiT_March_2015Nicole Branan of The Spice Train

Overall Winner – First Place

DMBLGiT_March_2015 (6)Madhuri Aggarwal of MADaboutkitchen

Congratulations to all of you. Brilliant stuff! Thank you so much for participating.

Don’t forget to congratulate the winners by leaving a comment on their blogs. Also, do participate in May contest at Deepali from Lemon in Ginger. Official announcement should come soon.

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

“If you take more of your protein from vegetable or plant-based foods, good studies have shown that you will live longer.”
Professor Jeya Henry

Dals, 3 Quick Dal Recipes Made With Less WaterThe pure comfort of that bowl of dal, the nostalgia engulfs me each time I smell the aroma of onions being fried in clarified butter. Such is the power of food, and in my opinion, these protein rich dals / lentils offer deep deep comfort in every bowl. The humble khichadi is the meal on the go at our place, with dollops of home made yogurt and kumquat green chilli pickle. Did I forget a liberal drizzle of ghee? Yes please!

DalsLiving in India, dal was synonymous with meals when we grew up. From the bowl that I loved, to many that I didn’t, the dal journey has come a long way. There was dal served on the many long train journeys from Delhi to Bangalore as we were growing up, to diluted iquidy dals served in the Officers Mess where we dined often. There was the piquant luxurious ambi wali dal in UP during the summer. Working at the airport in the late 1980’s saw many a midnight meal after flight departures at dhabas that dotted the vicinity. Nothing could beat the comfort of that dhaba dal with the fresh tandoori roti. Pure magic. As always, dhabas in India never disappoint.

Dals From the dhaba to Bukhara, as small bowl of Dal Bukhara and there is born another memory. This one is a truly indulgent dal, one which is a  tradition in itself, a dal simmered over slow coal fires all night long, a world renowned dal. My memories of this dal go back to the late 80’s and early 90’s … the taste lingers on.

DalsThat’s the power of food, and the power of dal. Yet another dal milestone came by way of home science in school. We mastered the Moong Dal with Spinach, and post marriage this was the only dal I cooked, day in and day out. It’s the only one I was confident about. I am sure the house was FED UP with my lack of creativity but no one said a word. The only other alternative I offered was Moong Masoor Dal, a quick 5 minute dal that my mother often made. I still make that a lot. I love the flavours. A tadka of zeera, garlic and hari mirch complete it.

DalsNow my dal repertoire has grown with many years of food blogging and traveling across India. I love the pure comfort of dals from Uttar Pradesh to the genius use of dals down south. Every part of India celebrates this macro nutrient or power house of protein in their own special way. From a finger licking good haleem, to a Parsi dhansak, to moong dal dhoklas and cheelas, the more you indulge in this cheapest form of protein the better. Dress it up, sizzle it, grind it to perfection, simmer it to luxury, or soak it into a salad, DALS THE WAY TO GO!

DalsTo mark World Water Day, I’m here with Tata I-Shakti dals to serve you three easy dal recipes that require minimum water to wash since they are unpolished. They cook faster too. The recipes use very little water in ingredients. One simple salad inspired by a typical Koshambri a dear friend made a few months ago, though his was with carrots, radish and peanuts. DAL 3 ways with Tata I-ShaktiThe bhune masale wali masoor dal is an old UP favourite which has been stepped up using seasonal greens, rocket in this case, as I have it growing in abundance. The peppery leaves add interesting flavour to it, and reduces the requirement for extra water. The third is a really quick coconut based dal chutney that I learnt when I was in Bangalore recently.

DalsAll these recipes are dal based, so naturally protein and fibre rich. With their high fibre content, pulses lower cholesterol levels and protect the heart. They are also an important source of iron and vitamin B in a vegetarian diet.  Pulses are typically low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. They also contain beneficial fats and soluble and insoluble fibre. According to the World Health Organisation, dals are a healthy substitute for meat, which has more fat and cholesterol.

DalsDo you have a favourite way of doing dal? I’d love to know.

[print_this]Recipe: Dal Koshambri / Moong Dal Carrot & Cucumber Salad
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Summary: A light summery salad that is protein and fibre rich. Pomegranate adds to the appeal. Soak the dals in about 2 cups of water, then drain and use the water to cook rice in, knead dough with, or just drink it up! No cooking, means less water!

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

  • 3/4 cup TATA I-Shakti Chana Dal and 1/4  TATA I-Shakti Moong Dal soaked overnight and drained
  • 2 small English cucumbers, chopped fine {I leave the skin on
  • 1/4 coconut, grated
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate kernels
  • 2-3 green chilies, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Tempering
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp
  • A generous pinch of asafoetida
  • 2-3 sprigs of curry leaves


  1. Place all ingredients except lime juice in a large bowl. Squeeze over the juice of 1 lime and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  2. To temper
  3. Heat oil in a small saucepan. When hot throw in mustard seeds, followed by urad dal. When they splutter add the hing and curry leaves. Fry over medium low until the leaves are crisp. Pour over the salad. Serve immediately.


[print_this]Recipe: Spicy Kadele Bele Chutney / Chana Dal Chutney
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Summary: A spicy and tangy dal based chutney which is  power house of energy and taste. The play of flavours is wonderful. The dal is cooked dry,a dnthe chutney uses only minimal water by way of the soaked tamarind.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

  • 5 tsp TATA I-Shakti Chana Dal
  • 3-4 dry red chilies {as per taste}
  • 3-4 sprigs curry leaves
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp hing
  • 1/2 tsp methi seeds
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 3/4 cup grated coconut
  • 1 small ball tamarind, soaked in 3/4 cup water
  • Tempering / tadka
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • pinch hing
  • 2-3 whole red chilies
  • 5-6 curry leaves


  1. Heat oil in a heavy bottom wok. Add the chana dal, red chilies, curry leaves, hing and methi seeds. Roast over low heat until the dal turns a light pink. Do not brown.
  2. Grind to a coarse powder {or a consistency you would like}
  3.  Squeeze and strain the tamarind. Add the coconut and tamarind water to the ground chana dal and mix well. Season with salt.
  4. To Temper
  5. Heat oil in a small saucepan. When hot throw in mustard seeds, followed  by the hing and curry leaves. Fry over medium low until the leaves are crisp. Add red chilies and turn off heat. Pour over the chutney.
  6. Serve with idli, dosa or serve with fresh boiled rice.


[print_this]Recipe: Sabut Masoor Aur Hare Patte ki Dal / Whole Masoor Dal with Rocket
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Summary: A traditional protein and fibre rich dal gets a makeover with the addition of winter greens. The dal uses less water as it takes moisture from the greens, and also from yogurt. This dal is pure comfort

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

  • 1 1/2 cup masoor chilka, soaked for an hour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp virgin coconut oil }{or oil, ghee of your choice}
  • Pinch hing
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1/4 tsp haldi powder
  • 1 tsp dhania powder
  • 2 small tomatoes chopped
  • 2 green chillies chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups rocket greens {or baby mustard greens, spinach etc}, chopped
  • 1/2 cup full fat yogurt {or low fat}, whisked
  • 1 tsp ghee


  1. Heat oil in pressure cooker. Add hing, then chopped onions. Fry onions until golden brown.
  2. Add ginger garlic pastes and green chilies. Sauté for 2 minutes, then add dry masalas, sauté for 30 seconds.
  3. Add chopped tomatoes and sauté for 5-7 minutes over high heat until they release oil.
  4. Now add the greens and sauté for 2 minutes until wilted. Add the soaked dal with water, add salt to taste and cook under pressure until done, for 12-15 minutes.
  5. Let it sit as is for at least 15-20 minutes cooking in its own steam. Open and check if dal is soft, else cook under pressure for another 5-7 minutes. Mash some dal with the back f a spoon to give the dal a creamy consistency.
  6. Stir through whisked yogurt and simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Taste and adjust seasoning. If you like a tangy dal, squeeze in half a lime before serving.
  8. Top with a spoon of ghee and serve over hot rice, or with chapatis, parathas etc.


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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
Lao Tzu

GOQiiNumbers have meant nothing to me. So far I mean. The number game and number crunching was meaningless. From how many blog visits, to blog rank, to page views, for me all unnecessary. Then I hit 10K!! Yes I fell into the number race and how! That 10 thousand refers to the number of steps I hit on Pi Day, the 14th of March!


This 10K is a special 10K and I owe it to GOQii Life. What is GOQii Life you might wonder. It’s a fitness program with a cool GOQii band with a complete 360 degree experience to stimulate your body, mind and soul and helping you make a permanent shift to a happier life through a healthier lifestyle.

Healthy foodFor folk like me who want to get to a healthier lifestyle{read including exercise}, this is a GREAT campaign. It’s not about dieting to kill yourself, it’s not about going on a no carbs diet The campaign is about a lifestyle change, a change supported by a company that credits you with karma points. Karma points that you earn while you walk and meet your own set goals. To give back to society, GOQii translates those points into money and donates it to a charity of your choice. A win win situation no matter how you look at it. A GOOD FEEL to it too!

GOQiiI began timidly as with anything new. Exercise and me are old enemies but my new pair of Sketchers stare at me all day. With renovation on at home, a million other targets to meet, recipes to be developed, grocery, dog, laundry all seem the perfect excuse to shy away from exercise. I know I got to embrace this too…but heck, it’s a tall order!Ingredients for dips

Wholegrain Olive Oil Crackers & DipsActually was a tall order until I ‘met‘ Elena, my sweet online coach. Was it music to my ears when, after a long chat understanding my daily diet, she said “Wow, aren’t you a healthy eater despite being a food blogger! You don’t need changes to your diet. What would you like to achieve, what are your goals?”Summer Ready with GOQii Ahemto begin that dreaded walk at least I muttered, ‘those shoes‘ staring me in the eyes! She said, Great, I’ll nudge you once in a while. She did more than that. She motivated me, and on a day that I was dog tired, I reached out for those shoes. I had been on my feet all day, I had hit 7.5K steps …yet 10K called my name. Stepped out, it was raining. Almost turned back, but then I just walked on. And on & on. Then came back and took the dog for a walk. Suddenly there was whirring on my wrist. 10K. YES!! I was so thrilled.

GOQiiI aim to get there 3 times a week. Today I did 9K, and then thanks to Elena a 10 minute stretching video was duly followed! In addition we touch base every morning, she showers me with tips, small changes that I might incorporate – lime, walnuts, breathing exercises …so much! The thing is that you feel accountable when the app is by your side. Accountable to yourself really!

GOQiiSo if I can do it, so can you! I’m telling you if this bag of lazy exercise bones can reach for the fitness band every morning instead of the smart phone, you can too. Do it. There’s a app with it that helps you go along syncing your daily food intake, steps, calories burnt, water too. Which reminds me. I’m drinking 200% more water than before! Yay!

GOQii #BeSummerReady #BeTheForceAnd some of this beautiful fresh water too. Make it, keep a jugful next to yourself, sip along all day long, then make another batch. it’s just flavoured water. Lime, mint, strawberries, kumquats … anything to get me ready for the summer! Are you in? Make a splash!

GOQii twitter contest @vindeeI’m running a contest on twitter to give away a band. Join right in. All you need is to send in a healthy recipe to @GOQiiLife on twitter. Here’s the thread or find it on my timeline @vindee

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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