Monday, 30 August 2021

Best Gifts for a Tea Lover


It is no secret that tea is one of the most loved beverages in the world.

With each one having their own preferences and style of brewing, tea is consumed everyday and moreover several times a day.

In such a case, I think it would be a great gesture to gift a tea lover something that is extremely thoughtful and useful for their everyday tea-time.

Below I curated my list of the most beautiful items that a tea lover would cherish!

Kettle

Beautiful Chai Maker is elegant in looks and very useful.

Canister

Canisters are storage containers. Any tea lover would love to store tea leaves/grounds or pouches in a dedicated container. Gifting such items would never go to waste. 

Infusers

Infusers are used for dipping tea leaves in hot water and at the same time can be used as a strainer. Just add 2-3 tsp. of leaves and add hot water. Wait for 5 minutes to let the tea emit its color and aroma, and your tea is ready. 

Cups

Cups play a great role in setting the mood for tea. There can be options for formal gifting.


And, some fun options like rustic feeling clay tea cups.
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Thermal Mug

These are one of the best gifts because in the fast paced life we are living in, morning tea often gets cold and we all wish to carry tea from home and drink it on the go. But lack of proper tea mugs that has a lid and also keeps the tea warm makes our wish unfulfilled. Gift Thermal Travel Mugs that has a non-slip base, keeps tea hot or cold as you like and is absolutely travel friendly.
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Tea Box

A tea box is an assorted box of different flavour teas. It acts as a sampler tea for the tea lover to try before buying a larger pack of the one they loved most. The assorted Tea Box is a nice gifting item.
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So, my top gifting options for a tea lover are:
  1. kettle
  2. canister
  3. infuser
  4. cups
  5. thermal mug
  6. tea box








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Monday, 9 August 2021

Book Review: Censorship and Propaganda in World War I: A Comprehensive History


It is amazing how books on World War I and World World War II are still popular. One of the recent books on First World War that I read was Censorship and Propaganda in World War I: A Comprehensive History by Eberhard Demm.

Quite an eye-opener with fascinating facts, this book is must read. 

Below is the detailed review of this book that was published in 2021 by Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly.


Eberhard Demm’s Censorship and Propaganda in World War I: A Comprehensive
History takes us inside the operations of propagandists and censors who shaped patriotic
sentiments and sustained the morale of the Central and Allied powers during the
First World War. Now, at a distance of 101 years from the event, this book provides an
objective understanding of the relevance of censorship and propaganda for a war.
According to Demm, patriotism nurtured nationalistic fervor in three ways: (a) attenuation
of anti-government propaganda, (b) exaggeration of the image of fatherland, and
(c) demonizing of the enemy. In the context of the First World War, Demm argues that,
by carrying out these processes, censors and propagandists orchestrated the war policy
of the government to achieve victory.

Currently a retired professor at the University of Lyon III, France, Demm has been
writing extensively for the past 35 years in English, German, and French on the First
World War and nationalist propaganda. This book not only recapitulates his passion
for underresearched political tools used for relentless indoctrination, but also undertakes
an in-depth analysis of the polemics of the First World War. Demm argues that
rigorous censorship fueled peoples’ consent for war, enabling governments of the warring
states to ensure an unfaltering spirit of patriotism and zeal for fighting. Borne out
of the necessity to ensure security of the military secrets, state-directed censorship
suppressed all information and communication that aroused misconceptions about the
dictates of army and government. Propaganda that worked in tandem with censorship
justified government policies and created mass appeal for sacrifice and discipline.
Censorship and Propaganda undertakes an enormous task to braid together social
and political conditions of the world war with cartoons, caricatures, posters, films,
music, poem, and theater of that era. The book is thoughtfully organized into 12 chapters
dealing with the tactics that both government and society used to (mis)represent
realities and tragedies of the First World War. The book discusses the organization,
limitations, methods employed, and impact of propaganda newspapers, telegraph,
books and brochures, telephonic conversations, and letters of soldiers and civilians in influencing the emotions and behaviors of people called on to sacrifice for fatherland and discredit their enemies.

Coherently structured and lucidly written, this book digs deep to flag various
sources and strategies of soft power, as agents of warring states and neutral states alike
sought to mobilize people and sway public opinion. To be sure, other work has analyzed
the overt and covert usage of censorship and propaganda for the continuity of
war, such as J. D. Squires’s British Propaganda at Home and in the United States from
1914 to 1917; David Welch’s Germany, Propaganda and Total War, 1914-1918: The
Sins of Omission, The Third Reich: Politics and Propaganda, and Germany and
Propaganda in World War I: Pacifism, Mobilization and Total War; Rebecca D’Monte’s
British Theatre and Performance 1900-1950; David Monger’s Patriotism and
Propaganda in First World War Britain: The National War Aims Committee and
Civilian Morale; Stewart Halsey Ross’s Propaganda for War: How the United States
was Conditioned to Fight the Great War of 1914-1918; Nicholas John Cull, David
Holbrook Culbert, and David Welch’s Propaganda and Mass Persuasion: A Historical
Encyclopedia, 1500 to the Present; among many others. However, Demm’s work
stands apart from most of this literature because it expansively covers a range of propaganda
and censorship efforts, comparing and contrasting their efficacy. In addition,
the book discusses social responses (acceptance or refusal) to war propaganda which
depended on class, gender, education, ethnic identity, and age.

What the book lacks is an explanation of the complexity of the sociological and
psychological conditions in which people of the warring states had to operate in the
field of censorship and propaganda. Demm seems to assume that the reader is a student
of political science. He therefore does not fully delve into the historical background
of the war, nor into the people and their means of livelihood (e.g., how did
families earn when men were encouraged to go to war?) that prevailed in the early
20th century. Also, the book focuses somewhat lopsidedly on anti-German propaganda
materials on the part of Allied powers to demonize their enemy, thus undermining the
book’s claim to be a comprehensive account of ways that both sides used to justify
their rationales for war efforts—and atrocities—through censorship and propaganda.
Demm justifies this approach by arguing that Allied powers cautiously reported and
shared information, thus requiring closer inspection of their propaganda messages and
campaigns.

Nevertheless, the book is an informative survey of the popular culture during World
War I, replete with data and statistics. Some of the fascinating sections deal with the
rise of corruption of news agencies, contributions of specific propogandists, war
bonds, and the preponderant role of schoolteachers as propogandists. The book makes
for a good read on history untold, war crimes, and other objectionable aspects of state
secrecy deemed necessary for political imperatives. The concise empirical narratives
of controversial war-time events, at times complemented by illustrations, makes
Censorship and Propaganda a must read for anyone interested in understanding the
forces that maintain social order during war.


Citation: Paul, Aditi, “Review of Eberhard Demm, Censorship and Propaganda in World War I: A Comprehensive History”, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 98 (1), March 2021.






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Sunday, 18 July 2021

Recipe 129: Roti Ke Ladoo

Do you often have leftover rotis? And then they go to dustbin the next day?

I also face this issue. Then my mom said that delicious Churrma Style ladoos can be prepared from leftover rotis.

I was excited and wanted to make these one-of-a-kind jhatpat Roti Ke Ladoo.

While, I prepared ladoo with one day stale rotis, you can also make it with fresh rotis. Just keep roasting rotis on low flame till most of the moisture evaporates and rotis turn semi-hard. 

Ensure that whether you are using fresh or stale rotis, do not make the roti too hard and crispy. Else it will not bind and ladoo shape cannot form. Slight moisture in the roti is key to soft ladoos.

This recipe is a simple basic version. You can add chopped nuts and raisins. However, more ingredients means that you need more ghee (Ghee is the only binding agent. We are not using milk here at all). To help you in binding, you can add softened mawa or khoya when you are roasting coconut flakes.

Ingredients:

  1. 5 rotis or 2 cups roti powder
  2. 1/2 cup sugar powder
  3. 1/4 cup ghee
  4. 2 tbsp. desiccated coconut flakes
  5. 3 green elaichi

Method:

Tear rotis in small pieces.
Grind them in batches in a mixer-grinder
Add the elaichi to the roti at the time of grinding.
Take the roti powder in a bowl and keep aside.
Now heat ghee in a kadhai.
Add coconut flakes and sugar powder.
Stir on low flame for 1 minute or till coconut emits a nice aroma.
Now add all the roti powder and stir on low flame.
Allow the roti powder to absorb all the ghee.
Do not roast for long else all moisture from roti will evaporate and it will be difficult to bind.
Take the mixture out in a bowl and cool for 5 minutes.
Begin forming ladoos while the mixture is still hot to touch.

Serve immediately.
Store ladoos in air-tight container in fridge.

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Thursday, 3 June 2021

Recipe 128: Pizza Focaccia Bread


Do you love pizza? But cannot make it often because of the lack of proper ingredients?

Then try a bread loaf that is reminiscent of a pizza.

With minimal toppings and soft bready base, this Pizza Focaccia Bread will become your new favourite.

Serve it as breakfast loaf or take few slices in tiffin for lunch or picnic, this bread is quite versatile.

On the one hand, this recipe is a simple and pretty basic focaccia recipe, you can also prepare a proper deep-dish pizza with vegetables and meat toppings. And rather than a loaf pan, bake it in a round pizza pan.

The best part of this recipe is that since the dough is a wet one, you do not actually knead the dough for a long time to develop gluten. The yeast does its work on its own. Just spread the dough with oiled fingers (to avoid stickiness) to all corners of the baking pan and you are done!

Ingredients:

  1. 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  2. 3/4 cup warm water
  3. 1/4 cup processed cheese
  4. 1/4 cup pizza/marinara sauce (Get on Amazon)
  5. 1-2 tbsp. oil
  6. 1 tbsp. dried oregano or mixed pizza/pasta spices (Get on Amazon)
  7. 1.5 tsp. sugar
  8. 1 tsp. dry yeast (Get on Amazon)
  9. 1 tsp. salt
  10. 4-5 cloves of fresh garlic

Method:

In warm water dissolve sugar and yeast.
Allow the yeast to bloom and activate for atleast 10 minutes at room temperature.
After you see foamy bubbles, add flour, salt, oil to the yeast solution.
Knead the dough.
The dough will be wet and not stiff.
Add chopped garlic and dried oregano flakes and knead again.
Smear some oil all over the dough and cover it to prevent drying.
Place the dough in room temperature.
After half an hour, the dough must double in size. If it does not rise, then keep the dough rested in room temperature or someplace warmer for a longer time.
Now take the dough and spread it to all corners of a greased bread loaf pan.
Spread pizza or marinara sauce generously.
Add a layer of grated cheese on top.
Now cover the loaf pan with a clingfilm and keep it rested for another half an hour to rise.
After that, place pizza focaccia bread in a hot oven and bake for 45 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.
Take the hot pizza focaccia bread out and cut into slices and serve!
You can even store the leftover pizza focaccia bread and freeze it for later consumption.
Just reheat in microwave.


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Saturday, 29 May 2021

Recipe 127: Lapsi (Dalia Halwa)

Dalia is coarsely broken whole wheat grain. And dalia can be eaten by making both sweet and savoury dishes.

Today, I am sharing an often repeated breakfast dish called Lapsi aka dalia halwa.

Lapsi is easy to prepare. Fills your stomach for hours. Is a nutritious dish. Loved by all ages. And fulfils your craving for something sweet and yummy.

To make the perfect fluffy halwa consistency,  water plays a key role. If you add too much water then halwa will be lumpy. So, the right amount is 2-2.5 cups of warm water for 1 cup unsoaked dalia. For this recipe, I neither soaked dalia in water before cooking nor washed it. If you fear dust particles in dalia or you purchased dalia from open containers, then surely wash the grain before cooking. But in that case add lesser amount of water.

You can also prepare the same recipe using milk. Milk enhances the taste but definitely makes the dish heavy. I would recommend using milk when preparing Lapsi for children. Also, add more milk and turn Lapsi into a kheer consistency.

The quantity of sugar is just right in my recipe. But for times when you want to serve Lapsi for special occasions or to guests, then increase the quantity of sugar, ghee and add more nuts and raisins. 

But for a basic recipe that is great for breakfast and tiffin, try this.

So, lets begin!

Ingredients:

  1. 2+1/4 cups warm water
  2. 1 cup dalia (unsoaked and unwashed)
  3. 1/2 cup sugar (you can also use same quantity jaggery)
  4. 2 tbsp. ghee
  5. 1/4 tsp. cinnamon powder
  6. 8-10 raisins
  7. 1-2 tej patta
  8. 3 elaichi

Method:

In a kadhai, heat some ghee and fry tej patta.
Add dalia and elaichi.
Fry well to brown the dalia.
Now add water and reduce the flame.
Cover and cook till dalia soaks up most of the water.
Add sugar, raisins and cinnamon powder.
Cook on low flame for 2-5 minutes.
After the sugar has complete dissolved and dalia is soft.
Turn off the heat and cover the vessel for atleast 10 minutes before serving. This will help dalia to become fluffy and not lumpy.
Serve warm.



Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Recipe 126: Eggless Mango Cake

Summer is the season for experimenting with flavours and fruits. Especially in baking, summer fruits offer so much variety.

One of my favourite is a mango cake. While, I do prepare mango cake the usual way, I also like to seek ways to make it eggless and perfect the texture of cake.

Here, I am sharing quite an impressive eggless whole wheat mango cake that resembles a lot like a pound cake.  

Ingredients:

  1. 1+1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 1/2 cup fresh mango pulp
  4. 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  5. 1/2 cup milk
  6. 1 tsp. baking powder
  7. 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  8. 1/4 tsp. salt
  9. 1/4 tsp. cardamom powder

Method:

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, mango pulp, milk and cardamom powder.
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and whisk to prepare a smooth cake batter.
Pour the cake batter into a greased and floured cake pan.
Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 35-40 minutes or till a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Cool for 15 minutes atleast before unmoulding.
Serve.


Saturday, 15 May 2021

Recipe 117: Traditional Modak

Modak is essentially a Maharashtrian dish. 

It is sweet, soft and has two main star ingredients - rice flour and coconut.

Not much of an elaborate recipe, Modak is something you can make anytime of the year when you are craving a sweet dish that is not very calorific. 

In fact, when you get a hang of the shape of modak without cracks, you can actually fill savoury fillings and steam. I tried making mince chicken modaks and served them with chilly tomato sauce once, and it was a hit. Think of it like a momo but with a rice flour covering instead of Maida.

I am not a pro at making modaks especially handmade. But if you use specialized tools for shaping, I am sure modaks will turn out pretty looking.

Modaks are best eaten warm. Once it is cold in fridge, modaks harden. But re-steaming or microwaving for few seconds, again makes them soft. 

My recipe for traditional modak provides you with proper ingredients for a flavourful modak. Shape is for you to perfect.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup rice flour
  2. 1 cup water
  3. 1 cup coconut powder (fresh or desiccated)
  4. 1/2 cup jaggery crushed 
  5. 1 tbsp. ghee
  6. 1 tsp. oil for greasing
  7. 1 tsp. salt
  8. 1 tsp. cardamom powder 

Method:

In a sauce pan bring water, salt and ghee to a boil.
Switch off the heat and add the rice flour.
With the help of a ladle, mix the rice flour and water. 
Allow the mixture to cool for 5 minutes and begin to knead the dough with fingers.
Cover the dough and allow it to rest.
Meanwhile, in a kadhai saute jaggery, coconut and cardamom powder till jaggery melts.
The coconut mixture must be semi-dry.
Now take a small portion of the rice dough and flatten it with hands. 
Add 1-2 tsp. of coconut mixture onto the center and try to seal all edges and form modak-shape.
Place all the modaks on a greased plate and steam it for 15 minutes.
Allow the modaks to cool for 5-10 minutes on the plate itself. 
Then take them out carefully on the serving platter.
Serve warm!

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Friday, 14 May 2021

Recipe 125: Perfect Idli and Dosa Batter


South Indian cuisine is quite popular in my family. Especially dosas, idli and uttapam. 

And in my quest to recreate the experience of restaurants, I bought several packets of either idli batter or dry powder mixes.

But recently, I tried making my batter from scratch. And my god! Not only the taste is fresh and good but I found the whole process also easy and very cost effective. I mean with one batter I can feed atleast 15 people.

Idli rice is  important because it has most amount of starch. I had used once normal everyday rice and the batter just did not ferment well and did not increase in volume. Secondly, urad dal is also a must. You cannot make without urad dal. Methi seeds are important for fermentation. 

After perfecting my batter I have now come to share with those who are struggling to make their own idli-dosa batter at home. With my recipe, you do not need to add cooked rice or soaked poha like some recipes suggest because the idlis will turn out very soft and delicious without the additives. 

This is a Plate Idli (aka Tatte Idli or THatte Idli) I made with the batter by steaming. I made a tempering of mustard seeds, chopped green chillies and curry leaves. And spread it on top of cooked idli. I cut it into diamond shapes and served with coconut -groundnut chutney. A fabulous dish it turned out.

So, lets start!

Ingredients: 

  1. 2 cup idli rice
  2. 1 cup urad dal
  3. 1/2 tsp. Methi seeds

Method:

Wash idli rice and urad dal together 2-3 times.
Ensure not to wash more or else you will be wasting the starch from rice.
Now in a large container with lid transfer the washed rice and dal.
Add methi seeds.
Pour atleast 1.5 litres of drinking water.
Cover and let the container rest for 6-10 hours at room temperature.
Now in a mixer grinder, grind the rice, dal and methi seeds to a smooth paste using the same water in which it was soaked.
Pour the paste back into the container.
Add some water if the mixture is too thick.
Now cover the container and let it rest in room temperature for 24 hours.
Once you begin to see that the batter has tripled in size and lot of tiny bubbles are forming with a foamy layer on top of the batter, understand that the idli dosa batter is ready for use.
Each time you wish to prepare idli, dosa or uttapam, just take some in a bowl and add salt to taste.
If you feel the batter is getting over-fermented, then place the container in fridge.
You can use this batter kept in fridge for 3-4 days without worry of it getting spoilt.

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