Saturday, 10 November 2018

Recipe 48: Caramelized & Spiced Apple Sauce

Apples are available all year round. They are cultivated world over.

It is rich in vitamin C, A, E, B6 and K. Apples are a good source of manganese, phosphorous, potassium and iron. 

These nutrients and vitamins are both in flesh and the skin. Which makes it important to eat apples with skin.

Recently, I bought a lot of apples and after consuming them as it is and in breakfast bowls (cornflakes, oats, etc.) I had to think of ways to use apples.

I thought of making some apple sauce.

But I have never really liked the pale looking apple sauce that resembles a simple apple puree.

Thus, wanting to upgrade the recipe and add some flavour to it, I made extremely delicious Caramelized & Spiced Apple Sauce.
Think of it like an apple chutney that is sweet, sour and has a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Easy to make and store, my Caramelized & Spiced Apple Sauce keeps fresh in fridge for more than a week.

Spread it over a bagel, bun, toast. Or add a few tablespoons on cornflakes and oats. Or treat it as a dip for other fruits, veggies and cake slices. It is amazing how versatile apple sauce can be.
Moreover, my recipe is kid friendly too. If my 16 month toddler keeps coming back for another spoon of apple sauce, then it is definitely a hit.

Lets begin !

Ingredients for 200 gms Apple Sauce:

  1. 2 cups apples roughly chopped
  2. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1/4 cup water
  4. 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  5. 1-2 cinnamon sticks
  6. 1 tsp. grated nutmeg


In a saucepan, add in all the ingredients except nutmeg.
Cook for 15 minutes on low heat.
No need to cover with lid.
No need to stir continuously.
After the apples reduce in quantity and the sugar is melted, mash the mixture with a ladle to ensure there are no big chunks of uncooked apples and the sugar is not burning at the bottom of the vessel.
Let the mixture cook for another 15 minutes or till the sugar has caramelised and the mixture turns deep brown.
Add nutmeg powder and lemon juice at this stage.
Switch off the heat and let the apple mixture cool down.
In a bender, add all of the cooked apples.
Remove the cinnamon sticks before blending.
Make a smooth sauce with no apple peel showing.
Transfer in an air-tight container and store in fridge.


  • All measurements has been taken by Hokipo Measuring Cups and Spoon Set. click to buy
  • Adjust the consistency according to your preference. If you want a thick soupy like sauce then add a few tablespoons of water. If you want jam like then reduce the sauce further. I preferred mine somewhere inbetween and made a thick spreadable paste-like consistency.

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Thursday, 8 November 2018

How to Become a Doctorate: 9 Habits for Successful PhD Years

Universities are complicated places.

Whether you are taking a PhD programme or any other course, it is a life changing moment. It is a transition from one level to another and in the process you are growing, enlightening and leaping ahead academically and socially.

Being a PhD scholar means you are in charge of your academic and career success. You have been bold enough to choose a path that requires dedication and focussed mind.

Most of the courses pursued before PhD is a pre-defined coursework where time is spent in simply finishing it as opposed to PhD where a lot of thinking goes behind an action. It is no more about memorising terms and concepts. The orientation is now questioning and analysis.

There is no set path or coursework. Each scholar chooses their own topic, depth of research and methodology. Thus, a PhD scholar themselves reflect upon their choices and defend it in front of the interviewing panel.

I have previously dealt with so many topics related to PhD, such as, written tests, interview, research proposal, relationship with supervisor, and so on.

But there is still a gamut of information and pointers that needs to be understood for having a successful and happy PhD years.

Whether you plan to finish your PhD in 3 years or 10, it doesn't matter because all scholars have to manage academic life, social activities, money and budgeting, relationship with faculty professors, involvement and networking for future assistance and so much more.

In my quest to give more information to budding scholars, I teach some habits that will assist you to maintain fulfilling PhD years.

  1. Discover - Discover boundaries of your area of research, expand out of comfort zone, take book knowledge to field works and see whether the out-of-date printed words are valid or not.
  2. Be Active - Visit your supervisor and other faculty members from time to time in office hours and develop a healthy relationship with them. Don't forget, like most cases you might become a colleague to them in a just a few years.
  3. Plan - Own a planner in which you can manage your time and energy. Write down the amount of time you wish to dedicate to a particular chapter, when to meet supervisor, when to take field trips, where to conduct interviews, when to visit libraries, etc. In order to keep your goals in place, think about the end of your university days and a degree in hand. (click to read The Best Planners of 2019)
  4. Meet Supervisor's Expectations - professors expect students to keep up with the past and current knowledge. When meeting supervisor if you fumble and lack materials to show your progress, it just puts them off and with time you will lose their trust over you and your ability to complete PhD. Therefore, be enthusiastic about what you have read till date, show the design of your tentative chapters and assignments, and argue on what an author wrote in a book.
  5. Accept Minor Failures - Despite being obedient and studious, there will be times when words of your supervisor will hurt and discourage you. You have been so used to success and doing well, that getting criticism on your work may put you off. At that time, sit with your advisors, friends or anyone and ask for help. If you don't change your work pattern and thinking you will be making the same mistakes your supervisor pointed out. You must incorporate supervisor's priorities and take their knowledge into consideration before building an argument.
  6. Visit Libraries - Libraries are sources of books that are hard to find if sought outside. Plus, they offer you an atmosphere to study. Moreover, libraries are modernized nowadays and other than books provide the facility of computers and other technologies. Several journals and research databases that need subscriptions are already taken cared by universities and you are free to access and download any number of articles. If you tried googling those articles, you will have to face a paywall.
  7. Enrich Yourself - Take advantage of the activities that are going on in the university. Surround yourself with influential people. Enroll yourself in off-campus voluntary job or camp. PhD doesn't entail peeking into books and notes at all times. Go for the on-campus theater or movie shows, political demonstrations, dance programs, literary festivals, etc.  Enjoy your PhD years and time at university.
  8. Budgeting - PhD can be expensive and so each scholar must think about budgeting and means to secure a financial aid. While, some scholars work from home and do not need to pay for hostel and food rents, others are leaving their home towns and pay for all kinds of expenses that come with staying away from home. In order to self-support you may have to take up a part-time job. There are a lot of costs related to PhD, such as, university and tuition fees; library memberships; laptop; frequent spending on photocopy, binding and printouts; bills on house and food rents; emergencies like medical; and everyday means of commute. So, spend your money carefully and look critically at where your money is being wasted. Make smarter choices. However, budgeting doesn't mean sucking all the fun out from campus life. Keep a budget for malls, movies, parties, shopping, etc. One of the best source of financial aid is taking grants, scholarships and fellowships from concerned organizations. From time to time government and non-government schemes come out for PhD scholars that not only covers monthly expenses, but also takes care of books, stationery, travel and field trips. Therefore, seek information about scholarships and money grants, and just when you know you are eligible for it, apply!
  9. Live on-Campus - living on-campus is much more comfortable and cheaper than living off-campus. The university happens to provide hostels and canteen facilities in much subsidised rates than you can ever find outside. Also, do not forget the easy access to classmates, professors, departments and library that you can have with living on-campus. Imagine saving so much on daily commute from your house to university. Moreover, you are also sitting in the hub of all activities that goes on in the campus. You will be far more involved in university and gain a much better experience.

So, these are the 9 essential habits that makes you enjoy and attain a much better time while you are doing PhD.

PhD requires you to think broadly. Grow Intellectually. And develop habits that helps you learn and inculcate research skills, and problem solving ability from different perspectives.

Therefore, throughout your PhD years, engage yourself with different think tanks, people and peers. These connections will help you in future.

Click to read the previous step: Ways to Build Student-Supervisor Relationship

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Recipe 47: Fish in Orange Sauce (Indian Style)

Recently a Bengali movie titled "Maccher Jhol (fish curry)" was released and it taught a unique fish curry preparation.

I never knew about the movie or the recipe. My husband's grandmom visited us and informed me about it. Clearly she is more aware than me about movies and food!

She was super excited to tell and make it.

Needless to say, I gave into her request instead of 2 I bought 2 kilo oranges and said do whatever you want with these.
And there came out a lovely and delicious fish dish for lunch - Fish in Orange Sauce or Fish Orange Curry.
Grandmom and I slightly tweaked the recipe and added a good amount of fresh orange rind for a more robust orange fragrance.

This goes on to say, that the recipe can be customized and you can go for subtle or strong orange flavour in your fish curry.

Without further blabbering, let me begin with the recipe.

Ingredients for 4 servings:

  1. 4 Rohu/Katla fish pieces
  2. 1 medium size onion grated
  3. 1 medium size tomato pureed
  4. 4-5 green chillies slit
  5. 1 tbsp. ginger paste
  6. 2 tsp. haldi/turmeric
  7. 2 tsp. zeera/cumin powder
  8. 2 tsp. dhania/coriander powder
  9. 2 tsp. red chilly powder
  10. 2 tsp. sugar
  11. 1 cup or 300gms fresh orange juice
  12. 1 tbsp. orange rind
  13. 4-5 orange segments (optional)
  14. 10-15 kadi patta/curry leaves
  15. salt to taste


Marinate the fish pieces in salt and haldi.
Heat some oil for frying the fish in a heavy bottom pan or kadhai.
Fry fish till its golden brown and cooked 50 percent.
Take out the fish.
In the same utensil and in the residual oil stir in ginger paste till it stops emitting raw aroma.
Add the grated onion.
Fry till onions turn brown.
Now add tomato puree and all the dry spices as well as salt and sugar.
Stir continuous and cook till oil begins to surface on top.
Add about 1 cup water for gravy and cook on high heat.
Now add the fish pieces and green chillies.
Cover and cook on low heat for 10 minutes.
Uncover and add the curry leaves, orange juice, orange rind and orange segments.
Cook for no more than 2 minutes.
Serve warm with steam rice or pulao.


  • Boneless fish like Basa can be a good option for those who find it hard to eat fish with bones. Fry and add to gravy just like the recipe says.
  • For a subtle orange taste omit rind.
  • For a dry preparation, leave out the water for gravy and just add the orange juice.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Snippet from my Diary: Baby Daisy at 7 Months

"Daisy is becoming quite a handful nowadays.
The colder winter days has restricted our movements outside. Daisy loves being outside and the current situation is bugging her.
She has got more cranky. Sleeps less and has a weak sleeping pattern. Even a slight sound can wake her and the disturbed sleep makes her wail.
Daisy is also waking up 5-6 times a night. I reckon that the more she is growing, her appetite and thirst at night is increasing.
Thankfully she is eating very well. Daisy loves vegetable purees and her favorite being - carrots.
Interestingly, she has a strong dislike for rice. I noticed it when I saw that she ate dal but not khichuri. She eats potato but hates when mashed with rice.
Daisy loves wheat. I make for her Wheat Halwa either with formula milk or apple sauce, and she gobbles it all up.
I haven't started with her any packaged food item from shop. I aim to feed her pure homemade food. At the most I give her a day old puree (that was frozen) but nothing older than that.
Sabya puts Daisy to sleep most nights and has met success in adapting to new baby holding techniques. Earlier he felt comfortable in only one position despite it hurting his back and neck. Now he easily carries her in a variety f positions.
Daisy has started to shift places when lying down. I just cannot leave her alone on bed for a second. She is getting super energetic and playful."
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Thursday, 25 October 2018

Recipe 46: Shahi Chicken Biryani

I made this biryani around 3 years back and it was a success at the first attempt itself.

Kept for the most special occasions, my Shahi Chicken Biryani is filled with the rich flavours of almonds and fresh cream.

Unlike most biryani recipes, this one is white in color and devoid of heavy spices.

While the preparation is a bit much, the process of cooking is rather simple. The overnight marination of chicken makes the pieces tender and it is not required to pre-cook chicken before adding to the rice.


  1. 500gms basmati rice
  2. 1 kilo chicken
  3. 10-15 blanched almonds
  4. 3 medium size onions sliced thinly
  5. 4-5 green chillies chopped
  6. 2 tbsp. ginger-garlic paste
  7. 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  8. 1 cup sour yogurt
  9. 1/2 cup fresh cream
  10. 1/4 cup milk
  11. 1 tbsp. black pepper powder
  12. 2 tsp. cinnamon powder
  13. Mixed whole spices (4-5 elaichi/cardamom, 4 cloves, 2 mace flower, 1 big elaichi, 1 bay leaf)
  14. 1 tbsp. biryani essence (click to buy Kazima Meetha Attar)
  15. 1/4 tsp. haldi or yellow/orange food color (click to buy Royal Powder Food Color Set of 5)
  16. Ghee for cooking
  17. Salt to taste


The night before marinate the chicken pieces with yogurt, whole spices, onions, green chillies, black pepper powder, lemon juice, ginger-garlic paste and salt.
Refrigerate in a closed non-metallic container.
Soak rice for atleast 1 hour before cooking.
Finely grind the skinless almonds to a smooth paste using cream.
Parboil the rice with some salt till its 50 percent cooked.
For the biryani preparation, in a large handi add some ghee.
Add all of the chicken along with its marination as the first layer.
Now add the second layer of almond cream.
Do not mix.
Almond paste should not touch the bottom of the handi. It will burn easily.
Now for third layer, add about 90 percent of the rice.
Mix a pinch of yellow/orange food color or haldi to the rice set aside.
Add this colored rice as the last layer.
Sprinkle some biryani essence, more ghee and milk all over the rice.
Cover tightly and place your handi on a tawa (to avoid direct heat).
Cook biryani for 45 minutes on low heat.
Switch off the heat and keep handi closed for another 10 minutes before serving.
Open the handi lid and mix thoroughly all the layers.
Serve hot.

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Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Best Planners for 2019

Planning your day, month or even a year ahead is something that everyone does.

But rarely we all do it structurally.

I always planned and sometimes took the effort to write my To-Do Lists, but it wasn't ever a routine for me. Not until I gifted myself a beautiful planner-cum-journal.

I realized the power of writing and more so the zeal to write in a diary that is date-wise, week-wise and topic-wise structured.

Planners are very different from the boring diaries. And, nowadays the gamut of planners/journals that are available online are bound to make you own one.

I bring to you my top favorite Planners for you to either gift yourself or others for 2019.

Happy Planner 18-Month July 2018-December 2019

Shipped straight from USA, this planner will take care of not just 2019 but this year as well. It has to-be-filled areas under each month which is thoughtfully color coordinated according to each season of the year.

A treat to the eyes and writer experience, the Happy Planner is organized, colorful and a large size journal for all those you have tons to note.

Interestingly, the Happy Planner can be accompanied with a Set of Me & My Big Ideas Stickers. The stickers are around 1350 and helps the writer be more creative in their journal writing each day.

In fact, the stickers act as word replacement. For instance, if you have planned a date-night or want to give a heading of "Urgent" for a particular day, just use a sticker for it and make your week's planning stand out.

Black Small Diary-cum-Organizer with Pen

Very business-type formal looking planner for those who have discussion points, financial expenses, name and addresses, and reminders to note.

The additional features are card slots for either credit cards or visiting cards.

Blue Sky Planner 2018-2019

Extremely functional and visually clear layout, this planner is best for detailed scheduling of To-Dos and events.

You can easily carry it for your office, school, college or keep at home and track your activities.

One of the interesting pages is where the planner starts to introspect you by asking you questions like What are your Personal Goals? Goals towards family, friends and finance?

It also has sections where you can fill in your morning and evening routine.

I mean just keep on exploring and you will love working with this planner.

Weekly and Monthly Planner

A classy one is this in which you can write for each day as well as for each week and month. There is a holidays list and calendar of 2019. Best for client and business gifting.

Q&A a Day: 5 Year Journal

Ambitious people always ask, "So, where do you see yourself 5 years from now?"

You can very well answer this question by looking back how your thoughts, tasks and goals have been 5 years back. You can check what all you have achieved and what all needs to be done with this one of a kind planner-cum-journal.

Each page is a new day and the journal asks you a new question.

Over a period of 5 years, you will develop a healthy mindful habit of sitting with this journal.

Q&A a Day for Moms: 5 Year Journal

Inspired from the above mentioned journal, the same company brings out another edition of its 5 Year Journal and this time for Mothers.

Needless to say the questions caters to the feelings, life and emotions of a mum.

I think it is a valuable Christmas or Birthday gift to any mum out there. She can document so many of her happy moments.

And the questions are so thoughtful. For instance, "One smell I associate with my child right now is? or "What is getting easier nowadays?" These are very thought provoking questions and never have I seen someone asking me it personally.

So, these were my 6 Best Planners for 2019. Some of which are not time or year bound while others are committed to dates and months of 2019.

Being organized is more better than bad. Having a nicer planner excites you and makes you want to plan.

I am not going into the discussion on saving paper and using technology for making notes and reminders, simply because I love my hard and soft bound notebooks and pencils. I feel secure, comfortable and will to write more than type in laptop and mobile phone apps.

If you feel the same then check out which planner suits you the best. And may 2019 turns out a productive one for you!

click product name/image to buy

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Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Handbag Essentials for a Baby During Festivals

I love making checklists for any kind of outdoor activity, tours and excursions. And, that is the only way in which I feel sorted.

I am a Bengali and Durga Puja is on its peak right now.

Managing a 15 month toddler and her needs is a task for me. She is very active, very cranky and very fun-loving. Basically, everything to the max!

Taking her to Pandals, walking her through the humongous traffic of people and cars, and seeking options for her comfort more than mine, has led me to think that every mom needs to have a handbag that is big, versatile and is more useful than beautiful!

I have never bought and used a Diaper Bag just because I don't like to carry cute, colorful, cartoony baby bags that shouts diapers and bibs. I am rather better carrying a large formal handbag with lots of compartments and zips.

Now lets get on with my Top Handbag Essentials for a Baby During Festivals !

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  1. Lots of Diapers - I put on my baby 2 variants of diapers - taped and pant. And, I will recommend you doing so as well because if you continue to use one kind then babies begin to prefer that over time and then imagine your local store running out of your-choice-of-diapers or you fell short and the one who is lending a diaper is giving a kind you have never used. Your baby is cranky, doesn't want to wear it. So, save yourself from such situations and make your baby used to all kinds of diapers. Coming back to what to carry in handbag, this is the festival season. Durga Puja days are jampacked. Morning and evening we are outdoors. I always carry a minimum of 4 diapers if I am out for 3-6 hours. I may don't need even 1 but carrying 4 just puts me at ease. You can carry more if you change diapers every 2 hours. My most favorite taped diaper is Pampers Active Baby and Huggies Wonder Pants for pant style diaper.
  2. Wet Wipes - Needless to say wet wipes are a life saver. Just pull out a few wet tissues and wipe your baby's bottom and throw it. Being baby skin friendly these are meant for not just bottom cleaning but also face, hands and whole body. Imagine when your baby did a vomit, you can easily wipe with wet wipes their whole body and get ride of the yuck smell in seconds. Sometimes, I would clean my own face and neck if I forgot to carry my own wipes. I have used Chicco Wipes. They are drenched in cleaning liquid and each tissue feels very juicy. Whereas, Mee Mee Wipes are slightly drier but still great especially for the economical price it comes with. Besides, I am a regular purchaser of Mamaearth Bamboo Tissue Wipes that has skin friendly ingredients like aloe, almond oil, shea butter and lavender oil.
  3. Bibs - Bibs must be plenty in your handbag. Just like diapers, I carry different kinds of bibs for different needs. Some are small cloths like the size of a napkin/handkerchief for normal wiping of face. And, some are towels like hand or face towel size. A lot of times babies get motion sickness in car. In Durga Puja the traffic on roads is unimaginable. Your car is moving slow and windows are rolled up to avoid dust and sound of the crowd. Or maybe you over fed them before venturing out. In such situations, babies get suffocated, dizzy and they vomit. So, towel are great to catch it.
  4. Plastic Bags - Carry some simple plastic bags or something that is waterproof for stuffing soiled/dirty diapers, vomit filled towels and used bibs, or for some food your baby ate but threw and you don't know where to throw. So, plastic bags act as little garbage bag in your handbag and as soon as you reach home you dispose it.
  5. Snacks - small kids are hungry always. Its better to pack something to nibble on the way, in car or in the pandal. Havoc takes place when your kid is super hungry, you are stuck in traffic jam and cannot stop for a snack from a shop. Just keep a tiny tiffin box and carry their favorite wafers, cookies, etc. that can keep well in the room temperature. Do not carry stuff that needs refrigeration. Keep their water bottles and sippers in your handbag. The Timios Apple and Cinnamon Puffs are perfect for 1 year + babies. Its easy to hold for them and baked biscuit-like crunchies. The Jaggery Dry Fruit Cookies is another healthy snack option. Unlike adult commercial biscuits, this one is free from preservatives, artificial flavour, has less salt and sugar. If your baby is fond of fruits or tangy taste then opt for the Tiny Spoons Fruit Purees that is completely organic, has no salt, sugar or water.
  6. Extra Clothes - babies vomit and most of the time before I can catch it in a towel, the dress is already soiled. And, then I need another dress. So, I learnt my lesson the hard way and always carry 2 extra dresses. Even if not vomit, toddlers run and their clothes can get dirty by falling on ground. So, an extra t-shirt and shorts or frock doesn't take much space in your handbag.
  7. Toys - My girl doesn't love a specific toy and neither needs to have toys near her at all times, so I have never felt the need to carry her toys in any of our trips. But I would recommend toys to those parents who see their babies liking for a particular toy, especially when they cry and after seeing that toy they remain quiet.
  8. Stole - Its getting colder nowadays. But a jacket is too much at present. Yet, when we are in pandals late night, the open air isn't good for your baby. Wrapping them in a light stole/shawl is a good decision.
So, these were my 8 essentials for this festival season that needs to be in your handbag for a fuss free and pleasurable outing with babies and toddlers.

You maybe thinking the items are a lot and cannot fit into one handbag. But if noticed carefully then all the items are small in size or can be easily folded to stuff in a medium size handbag. I do it and so can you.

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