Thursday, 13 December 2018

Recipe 52: Easiest Methi Paratha

Methi (Fenugreek Leaves) are abundant in the colder months in India.


They are much fresher and nutritious than what is sold in the summer season.


Methi can be prepared into a stir fried style with other vegetables or plain with just a little tempering.


But I love making a paratha out of methi.


However, paratha recipes are also plenty.
Method A. You can cook a mixture of the vegetable and then stuff it into dough.
Method B. Kneading the grated raw vegetable into the flour itself.


Either way, the idea is to incorporate vegetables or even minced meat into the flour and serve a paratha.


Today's recipe is a methi paratha that doesn't involve many steps and ingredients. I learnt it from my mom who herself got to know it from her friend's' mom back in her college days.
The recipe is extremely simple and nutritious. And, that's why I call it the Easiest Methi Paratha.


I have kept the ratio of methi and flour 2:1, that is 2 part flour and 1 part chopped methi leaves. You can completely customise it and make it equal parts too.


The dough is kneaded with warm water as opposed to cold or room temperature because warm water will activate the gluten in the flour and make your parathas softer. Also, since methi is raw, the warm water and salt in the flour quickly welts the leaves and makes them less crunchy.


Now lets begin with the recipe!


Ingredients:

  1. 2 cups whole wheat flour
  2. 1 cup chopped methi leaves
  3. 3-4 finely chopped green chillies
  4. warm water for kneading
  5. salt to taste
  6. ghee/vegetable oil for cooking

Method:

In a large mixing bowl add flour, methi leaves, green chillies, salt and about 1-2 tablespoons of ghee/oil.
Mix well these ingredients.
Now gradually add warm water and knead the flour into a tight dough.
Give the dough a rest for 20-40 minutes in room temperature.
Just before cooking, knead dough once more.
Now roll out dough in your desired thickness.
And apply ghee or oil on either side while roasting on a tawa.
Serve warm with curd, pickle, or any vegetable.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Recipe 51: Rum & Raisin Marble Loaf Cake

The Winter is yet to peak but I cannot wait to dig into a thick slice of rum cake.


Not that you cannot crave for it in the summer. But there is a reason why summer season is not meant for rum cake.


Summers are best for fruity and citrus dessert flavours. A portion of lemon cake with an iced tea is what summer afternoons are meant for. Whereas, cold winter months calls for hearty and warm desserts that are either rum or brandy based.


Previously I shared my favorite recipe of Rum & Raisin Cake.


However, this winter I wanted to elevate my recipe and a little thinking led me to create a unique cake.


I call it my Rum & Raisin Marble Loaf Cake.
It is filled with a heady scent and flavour of rum all throughout. It has rum soaked raisins which after baking becomes saturated plump. The chocolate pairs beautifully with rum. And, in totality it is one of my proud recipes that I can boost of.


Each slice is extremely moist and it can be served just as it is.
But an even better way to serve is to microwave the desired slices for 10-20 seconds and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. Pair it with a hot cup of coffee or tea or even a glass of rum!


The baking equipments I used is a 25cm Bulfyss Nonstick Loaf Pan. I cut 1inch thick slices and got 12 portions. And, for all measurements in cups and spoons I trust Hokipo Measuring Set.


I made the cake with an egg. But you can definitely omit it and use a tablespoon full of Flax Seed Powder mixed into two tablespoon of water. Remember flax seed is a great replacement of egg in most cake recipes.


Secondly, this recipe makes use of a heavy dose of Rum. I used Old Monk. But if you wish to avoid alcohol or are baking for kids, and yet wish to yield the flavour of rum, try the Ossoro Rum Cake Essence.


Without any delay, now lets jump into the tasty recipe!


Ingredients:

  1. 1.5 cups plain flour/maida
  2. 3/4 cup sugar
  3. 1/2 cup vegetable oil or 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  4. 1/4 cup warm milk
  5. 1/2 cup rum
  6. 1/2 cup golden raisins (click to buy Urban Platter Golden Raisins)
  7. 60 gms milk chocolate (click to buy Amul Milk Chocolate Bar) or 3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (click to buy Hershey's Cocoa Powder)
  8. 1 tbsp. baking powder
  9. 1 tsp. vanilla essence (click to buy Ossoro French Vanilla Flavour)
  10. 1/4 tsp. instant coffee powder (click to buy Nescafe Starter Kit)
  11. 1/4 tsp. salt
  12. 1 egg

Method:

Soak raisins in rum for atleast 2-3 hours prior to baking.
Sieve flour, salt and baking powder.
Melt the chocolate with coffee and 2 tablespoons of milk.
Keep aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together egg, sugar, oil, milk and vanilla essence.
Add the marinated raisins and rum.
Whisk well.
Add the dry flour mixture and lightly mix the rum cake batter.
In a greased and floured loaf pan, add 70 percent of the rum batter.
In the remaining batter, add the melted coffee-chocolate mixture.
Now pour the chocolate batter over the rum batter and lightly swirl both cake batters.
Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 45-50 minutes or till a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
I love to cut up slices of my desired thickness and store them in an airtight container in fridge. This cake lasts for 1 week.





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Monday, 10 December 2018

Best Books on Culture and Identity

Social Science is a vast field of investigation.


And often a student will come across terms such as, culture, identity and norms. These three terms are complex and definitely interwine with each other.


In the fast changing era of world politics, the meaning and implications of culture, identity and norms becomes crucial to understand.


In the quest to simplify the task of a reader, I present a list of the best books that are basic yet extremely helpful in building a firm foundation for arguments to form on any question related to culture, identity and norms.


The Future of Law in a Multicultural World

by

Adda Bruemmer Bozeman



Assuming that political systems are based on a particular's biases and perceptions, the author challenges the laws of Islamic Middle East, Asia, Africa and China, and argues on their meaning and relevance in the global context. The author states that variety of cultures will never let one vision to develop. The world will continue to be multicultural despite the unifying power of technology and other rhetoric systems of the West. This book is a mandatory read for understating why Western ideals and laws of internationalism are futile when it comes to achieving world unity.


Cultural Forces in World Politics

by

Ali A. Mazrui



Very engaging and argumentative, the author debates culture and its role in the existing world. He laments that much of the focus is on political strategy and arms which is misleading when trying to understand what controls power. The author aims to highlight the power of culture in not just human attitude but in world politics. Most importantly, the book makes you question whether America or Europe are really the major players or are there other forces as well?


The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity

by

Steven Pinker



An extremely optimist view on human behavior, the author paints a positive image and argues that human beings have become less violent, wars have declined, and modern day international laws and organizations have changed the Hobbesian notion of nasty man and state. The kind of harsh violence that history narrates, is not affecting our lives nowadays and there is a strong realization that human race needs to grow and prosper, and peaceful coexistence is beneficial. The author bases his arguments on 5 main triggers of peace, namely, rise of modern state, technological progress, feminism, cosmopolitanism and application of reason, knowledge and rationality.


Anthropological Theory Today

by

Henrietta L. Moore



The book touches upon several thriving topics like liberalism, gender, military and violence. The author wants researchers to revert back to theory in order to make "interventions in a debate". A must read for anthropologists or anyone who is trying to gain an insight into sociocultural anthropology.


Analogies at War: Korea, Munich, Dien Bein Phu, The Vietnam Decisions of 1965

by

YF Khong



The author believes that American Presidents have a habit of using analogies for justifying their policy choices and decisions. He narrates instances wherein foreign policy advisors to the President have intervened in the difficult situation like the conflict in Vietnam. Putting into perspective the Analogical Explanation Framework, the author plays with human psychology and politics.


The Oxford Handbook of Contextual Political Analysis

by

Robert E. Goodin and Charles Tilly



The book tries to promote systematic knowledge. Before embarking on an explanation of a political process, it is crucial to take note of the context as only then true understanding can come. The book is an edited volume with chapters from eminent writes who lay focus on the variety of factors that affects an analyst of political processes. And, therefore, the book says everything "depends"!


Culture and Truth: The Remaking of Social Analysis

by

Rosaldo Renato



The author dismisses the idea of culture as painted by the classical period. He argues against the monumentalist representation of culture and also the romantic tradition of culture as a self-contained unit. Rosaldo  states that boundaries of ethnography have marginalized social analysis and do not represent truth. Human beings as a result never are able to act objectively. Greater diversity is required approaching social analysis alongside inclusion of classical social sciences and legal studies.


The Interpretation of Cultures

by

Clifford Geertz



One of the most read and loved book on culture. The author stresses that anthropologist is not a recorder of reality but rather interprets it and filters social reality through their own lens. Written in an essay form, the author never intended to combine his essays written in different times into a book. He wrote on human mind, religion, culture and social sciences. Culture has been regarded as a "web of significance". Human beings are surrounded by religion, cultural practices and it is the task of an anthropologist to unearth the symbolic meanings of them in detail. However, the author laments that it is not possible to make an objective analysis. Anthropologist only makes an interpretation of an interpretation. Cultural analysis is just about creating another analysis or hypotheses. Each story has a back story.


Recapturing Anthropology: Working in the Present

by

Richard G. Fox



This book combines the works of several writers who have emphasized on what anthropology should and shouldn't be like. The book argues that anthropology has become field of disarray and leading to a dead-end. New forms of reflexive, polyphonic and dialogic writing is required in order to regain the coherence of the discipline. The book argues that focus must shift to the observations of the non-Western societies. It argues that notion of objective reality is farce because all facts are socially constructed and so is interpretation.


Social Theory of International Politics

by

Alexander Wendt



Taking a strong constructivist view on world politics, the author argues that international realities are not what is shaping politics and relations but social relations are. Share ideas and norms affect state behavior far more than power. The book is a must read for those who want an alternative view of realism and liberalism. Constructivism is also a theory of international relations, and Wendt aptly explains it by focussing on culture, norms and identity in international relations. Some may even regard the author's work as a philosophical analysis or a theory of idealism. But in reality Wendt wants us to view states as social constructions and they take identities in relation to the Other.


The Culture of National Security: Norms and Identity in World Politics

by

Peter Katzenstein



The book reassess the theoretical framework of realism and argues that the existing analytical tools have been inadequate. Using the sociological, cultural and psychological model of analysis, the book takes into perspective identity and norms and how they shape international politics. Moreover, the authors argue that social factors have the power to alter the expected actions of state who are power hungry.


National Interests in International Society

by

Martha Finnemore



Finnemore emphasizes on norms of state behaviour which states learn from international organizations. She particularly argues that dominant theories of international relations overlook the power of structures and international organizations which have begun to define state interests. They are normative structures that trigger policy decisions. She has a constructivist approach and questions the origin of any state interest. In the process, she doesn't undermine "high politics" but rather questions it to add more value to their explanations.


The Power of Human Rights: International Norms and Domestic Change

by

Thomas Risse, Stephen C. Ropp and Kathryn Sikkink



This book celebrates international organizations and their power to change behaviour. The authors trace the ways in which states have interacted to pressurize governments that have been oppressive. The book argues that factors like persuasion, sanctions, institutions and coalition have a massive effect on politics. Cases, such as, Asia, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe have been taken to describe the impact of human right activists and groups as well as multilateral agreements have had on oppressive and illiberal regimes. The book presents its readers instances of where power of norms and ideas have made a difference in people's lives.


Mercenaries: The History of a Norm in International Relations

by

Sarah Percy



The book questions whether mercenaries are influenced by norms or not? The author dwells on why states stopped using mercenaries from private contractors and instead incorporated them into their armies under a formal agreement. How did the citizen army rise in late 18th century onwards when there was an absence of any international norm for mercenaries. She argues that the absence of a norm led to an anti-mercenaries norm which never allowed development of an effective international norm dealing with mercenaries.


Multiculturalism and the Politics of Recognition

by

Charles Taylor



How can multiculturalism sustain? The book discusses issues like individualism and communalism to arrive at the concept of equality, dignity and politics of difference. The author supports communalism over individualism whenever the survival of a culture is at stake. He claims that "due recognition is not a just a courtesy we owe to people. It is a vital human need". Taylor brings out a solution to cultural pluralism and the tensions caused. He says dialogue will shape multiculturalism. This book is a beautiful blend of politics and philosophy.




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