A year in Review – Reflections on 2018

b0d2c169-fc61-4173-975a-7ade59e06ea0A year in Review – a memorable year in my life – so many wonderful memories and experiences, traveled to places which I never thought I would go – not even existent in my non-existent list … experienced the transformation of my life in an amazing way – the essence of the year is the profoundness of Sadhguru’s grace upon me. The amount of travel I have done this year and the places I have been to have never happened to me in my entire life. This year had another significance in my life – my 60th birth year.

The year started with my usual India trip in Feb, immediately few days after I landed in Hyd – we had a mini family vacation with 12 adults and 3 kids to Goa to celebrate Unnu’s and Prati’s birthdays. We have stayed at Taj Exotic Resort & Spa at Benaulim – staying next to the beach, chasing the Sun from Sunrise to Sunset, walk as much as I would love to, walking in the sand near the beach and going into waves as much as I can and bumping into one of the family members all the time, roaming in and around the area are some of the amazing moments I could keep it in my heart so fondly. I always always love to watch Sunrises, Sunsets especially when I am around beaches, and oceans. I make a point to wake up early just to watch Sunrises.

96C71EA9-E061-4812-BC7A-5E1B79782408Then I went to Anakapalle and Vizag for few days after almost close to 40 years. Anakapalle – the place where I  was born and brought up – the place where I spent most of my life in India – 18 years of my 22 years in India – so many childhood and adulthood memories, the places I visited there were the College where My father worked as Principal for 18 years and the college quarters where we lived. To my disbelief, I could not even spot the place where our houses were – all 6 houses were demolished, I could not even recognize the place except for few places. In my memory that place was very huge but somehow I felt it very small especially from my dad’s office to our house. I wish I could have stayed there for considerable time to visit and feel every little spot I have memories with, but I could not as it was very hot and the place is wide open. Thanks to Chanti (Yashodhara) who made it possible. And we visited Nookalamma temple at Kasimkota and returned back to Vizag. I met few of my cousins, had lunch with them all. As Chanti lives close to Rama Krishna Beach, we both went for a walk along beach side before sunrise to get a glimpse of Sunrise over the Bay of Bengal – moments to live for and moments to die for …

And a week after my return from India, Sekhar and I instantaneously decided over a cup of coffee at Dunkin Donuts to attend Inner Engineering (IE) with Sadhguru at Philadelphia in the first week of May. That is the best decision I ever made and wonderful things in my life have been happening since I attended IE.

Read this – The Profound Effect of Sadhguru upon me – how he came into my life years ago before IE Happened to me

That was a huge milestone in my life. When we were at IE program, we were shown a video of Kailash Yatra with Sadhguru and it touched me very deeply. Through out the IE program, a desire born like a seed and has grown into humongous tree – Kailash Yatra with Sadhguru – it was a burning desire – never in my life I had given any thought of being at Kailash not in my dreams.
So the Monday after inner Engineering, I have opened my FB, and it asked me what is on your mind Sarada – I immediately posted the following
kailash“What’s on your mind, Sarada” FB is asking.
I would say #KailashYatra with Sadhguru; Inner Engineering course has a profound affect on me, every atom and molecule in me is longing for #KailashYatra; feeling highly emotional; whether I can do it with my knee issues🤔 ; but then remembering Sadhguru’s sayings – do not think of what is possible and what is not possible 🙏

And how my Kailash yatra happened – Shi-va alone knows – My inward journey to Kailash

This is what I would have said if I had to at Sathsang with Sadhguru in Kathmandu on our return trip from Kailash – SHI-VA that which is not

Everything happened in a matter of 3 months – IE, the desire to be at Kailash and finishing Kailash Manasasarovar Yatra. Truly blessed.

dhyanalingaIn between these two major events, I had another desire to visit Dhyanalinga at ISHA Center Coimbattore, India, that too on Guru pournami day. and I was reading at ISha website that only two days in a month – Amavasya and Pournami days all the devotees are allowed to do water and milk abishekam to Dhyana Linga and the desire becoming intense day after day. When I went to India before I started Kailash yatra, I had to stay at Hyderabad for 5 days awaiting for my group visa to Tibet. I planned a day trip to Isha Ashram at Coimbattore on Gurupournami day.e8c5aef2-82ef-41ac-a1a4-94164ba2437b

Visiting Isha Ashramam at Coimbattore India – July 2018 on Guru Pournami Day

Kailash and ManasaSarovar yAtra in detail in another article

I wanted to attend Bava Spandana (BSP) with Sadhguru – an intense desire aroused- when I heard that Sadhguru would be conducting this program at Isha Institute of Inner-Sciences (III) at McMinnville, Tennessee in October. I was just praying it should not be the same weekend as Ram Sai’s wedding (my very close family friend’s son), he is like my child, he and his sister are literally like my own kids, I have seen them from their birth, celebrating Christmas times with them at their place and at my place year after year, a very strong bonding with those kids to me and to my husband. To test my intense desire, BSP happened the same weekend as his wedding weekend. So initially I dropped the idea of BSP and did not want to apply as I would not go anyways. I was in Hyderabad before my Kailash yatra started when the registration for BSP opened up and I have received an email with the registration form. I did not take any action and my cousin’s wife from Buffalo called me and my cousin mentioned about the BSP and he told me that he has applied and asked me to apply and I told him the same as I would not be able to attend BSP; nevertheless after the phone conversation, I have applied for it and knew that there were remote chances only of getting into it. Throughout my Kailash trip, I was trying to check my mail where ever I got internet and I was not sure with which email I have registered – personal or office. I was not able to open my personal gmail through out almost my trip and I was sort of concerned what if I miss the confirmation email. People I met during Kailash trip told me how amazing BSP was and it should be taken by Sadhguru only and was also told it would be very difficult to get a slot when Sadhguru is conducting the program and there was a rumor going around that he would stop conducting this program soon and hand it over to trained teachers. I was back to New York from kailash trip on 16 August and went to Boston with unnu on 18th August and returned to New York on 21 August. That night I was talking to Lakshmi and I asked her whether Sridhar had gotten any message from ISHA regarding BSP and she said they haven’t received any. After I finished conversing with her, I have opened my office email and to my astonishment, I have received an email from ISHA around 7 pm confirming my slot for BSP (19 October to 22 October). I was on cloud 9 or whatever high I could be at that moment. I had to respond to them in 4 days otherwise I would loose my spot. Then the real struggle started – how to convey this to my friend – I have applied with the real intention of attending BSP and I knew my chances were very feeble. I applied (even though back in the mind there was a strong desire to attend) not to regret later that i did not even make an attempt. the next day I called my friend and broke the news to her and she was not very happy. But luckily they were performing pellikoduku (making the bridegroom) function on Raleigh, North Carolina on 18th October and I told her that I would attend that event and go to McMinnville, Tennessee from there on 19th morning. She was not very happy for that. But for some reason I did not want to miss attending BSP as there was no guarantee that Sadhguru would conduct this program again and even if he did that I would get a slot. Then I started listening all stories from my ISHA Kailash yatra whatsapp group that they did not get their slot and have been on waitlist even last year also. So BSP happened to me in a very euphoric way. another article on BSP (not in detail but just to touch it peripherally) would follow soon. I really felt everyone I know or unknown without any exceptions should experience BSP. Looking forward to volunteer for BSP to relive those moments again.

Then with in 2 weeks after I finished my BSP, I had an opportunity to volunteer at Inner Engineering with Sadhguru at San Mateo, San Francisco on 3-4 November. So much blessed to be in Sadhguru’s presence for so many times in a matter of 7 months. Initially Inner engineering with Sadhguru at Phily in May, about 30 minutes in his sathsang at Isha Center Coimbattore end of July, almost 3 hours of Sathsang with Sadhguru at Kathmandu on my way back from Kailash yatra, 3 and half intense days with Sadhguru as BSP at Tennessee, IE at San Francisco – blessings to be grateful for.

I have volunteered 4 days at a teacher led IE program in New York on my 60th birthday – how blessed I was to spend at IE on my milestone birthday.

I had a nice birthday party with family at prashanthi’s place and she has made a cake for me with all the things and people I am so passionate about.

Of course I had a real surprise birthday party from all the people whom I would proudly, lovingly, and dearly called my second family Surprise birth

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day party – 60 is just a number

Thankful and grateful for all these loving people in my life …

Then came Christmas – wondering what should I do with ornaments as handmade and handcrafted have become my signature these days – then Unnu came up with the idea of family photos ornaments – actually she said I should make photo ornaments – 60 things I am very passionate about (to commemorate my 60th birthday) – here is the Christmas tree – No No family Christmas tree – have a glimpse – I was able to bring my maternal grand father, my mom with her sisters, my parents, my siblings, people very close to my heart  – the big challenge is to select the pics and reprint them – I missed making ornaments of many other people those are close to my heart and take some space in my life, not overlooking them, but in the limited time and resources I had (time to go through my albums to pick their pictures, get them printed and also the availability of CD shaped clear ornaments).

and I tried to push my boundaries – baking cakes/cup cakes.

PR cakemade#DoubleLayeredVanillaCoconutCake with lemon curd in between the layers and topped with blueberries and raspberries and dark chocolate covered Almonds;

Few of our office staff had planned a baby shower to our colleague Monica and there were not sufficient funds, so I have decided to bake a small cake for the party – Coconut lemon curd cake (which I have tried once for Prashanthi’s birthday). monica baby showerI wanted to make double layer but I could not handle it. So a single layered cake which received nice appreciative comments from my colleagues. For Thanksgiving get together at my sister’s place, I have made chocolate cup cakes and with all the appreciation I received, I made Sparkling Cranberry Vanilla cup cakes and Chocolate cup cakes for my office Christmas party. Actually 2 days before the party, I was talking to Unnu and checking something on the phone and suddenly these Sparkling Cranberry vanilla cup cakes showed up with the recipe. The pics were so attractive and I thought I should try it and they are instantaneous hit. Again I baked the same combination for the Christmas get-together at Prashanthi’s place.

And I tried my hands on some healthy salads – my very own recipes

Of course I laid my hands on Photography classes another passion I would want to be proficient in – Prashanthi gave me beginner’s photography class (JP Teaches Photo) at Manhattan as a gift for 2017 Christmas and I have used it in March and then I got so excited and registered with them for 3 more classes. So much fun but I have to learn a lot. Mastering the art of photography is one of my ever lasting passions. and it has become a burning desire when volunteers at Isha going around with the state of the art cameras at Isha events especially when the events are led by Sadhguru.

And 35 years at the UN –

I have traveled a lot this year than in any other year of my life since I was born. Year started with my India trip in Feb – where I traveled to Goa and Vizag), then to Philadelphia to attend IE in May, then to Buffalo in May for few days, then again to India in July – visited Isha Ashramam in Coimbattore, kathmandu, Tibet, ManasaSarovar, Kailash, after my return, few days to Boston, and to Raleigh in October to attend Ram Sai’s pellikoduku function, then to Isha Institute at Tennessee to participate in BSP, then to San Francisco to volunteer at IE. I missed the last trip of the year to Van Cover with my vadina which was cancelled at the last minute.

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sadhguru

So many accomplishments, so much to thankful for, so much to looking forward to – the profound effect of Sadhguru on my life changes the way I think, I act and I react and I move on with life as it happens – In is the only way out

I do not know how it unfolds 2019 for me but as an Ishaan, I am ready for life as it is happening and explore every possible dimension of life. My only prayer and wish is let Sadhguru happen to every creature on this universe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Bean soup in InstaPot

imageBlack bean and potato soup in #instapot – sautéed onion, tomato and potato for a min and added a can of Trader Joe’s organic black beans; added salt, red chili 🌶 powder, turmeric powder, ginger garlic paste, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom powder, pinch of dhania powder and cooked in manual mode for 10 min. I really relished the flavors of all the spices 😋😋 added the spaghetti to it and it tasted so good 😊 especially the potato is cooked very perfectly 👌🏻 kind of very nostalgic feelingimage

 

Majjiga Pulusu in Instapot

imageIngredients

  • Plum tomatoes 2
  • Red onion medium size 1
  • medium size carrots 2
  • string beans 1 cup – keep them long rather than having into small pieces
  • daikon 1/2 of medium sized one
  • bottle gourd – 1/2 of medium sized one
  • drum sticks (frozen vegetable)
  • okra – 10 to 12  cut it into small pieces
  • green chilli – 6 (add more if you want more spicy)
  • ginger small piece
  • coconut – small pieces measured into 1/2 cup
  • roasted chenna dal – 1/2 cup (putnala pappu) or use besan powder (gram flour) –  I personally prefer roasted chenna dal, but I used besan in the dish being shown in the pics  – besan gives it little thicker texture.
  • yougurt 1 to 2 cups
  • little oil or ghee to sauté the vegetables
  • seasoning – little bit urud dal, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, red chilli, curry leaf and asafoetida – use little bit ghee for seasoning
  • cilantro
  • salt
  • turmeric

Preparation in #InstaPot

  • imagesauté  all the vegetables with little oil or ghee for a min or two
  • add all the vegetables except green chilly
  • Add salt and turmeric to the vegetables
  • grind ginger, green chilli, coconut and roasted chenna dal into fine powder and add yogurt and grind it for few seconds
  • add that mixture to the sautéed vegetables
  • add 1 to 2 cups of water
  • check the salt
  • Set manual, high pressure for 10 min
  • i let it cool normally
  • once it is done do the seasoning  – add all the seasoning stuff to little ghee (always use ghee for seasoning for yogurt based foods) and mix it to the cooked food
  • then add cilantro leaves

image

Badhusha

BadhushaI attempted this sweet on the New Year’s eve of 2014. The first attempt was an instantaneous hit. Of course, I tried to follow every instruction in the recipe to the tee.  I got the inspiration to try this one from my very close family circle. This sweet was made by someone for the Christmas party and everyone was praising it a lot and I did not attend the party that year. So I felt like attempting it and searched at google for its recipe. I found several but I have chosen one from it and the rest was history.

Here is the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • Maida – 2 cups (all purpose flour)
  • Baking powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Baking soda – 1/4 tsp
  • Sugar – 1 tsp
  • Curd – 2 tbsps
  • Ghee – 1/4 cup, melted
  • Oil – 1 tbsp
  • Water – as required
  • For sugar syrup:
  • Sugar – 1 1/2 cups
  • Water – 1 1/2 cups
  • Lemon juice – 1/2 tsp
  • Cardamom powder – pinch (elaichi)

Method of preparation:

  1. In a wide bowl, sift maida, baking powder and baking soda. Add sugar and mix well. Make a well in the center, add curd and ghee and mix with the maida. It should resemble bread crumbs. Add a little more curd if required. Now slowly add little water and make a soft and pliable dough. Leave aside covered for at least an hour.
  2. In a stainless steel vessel, add sugar and water and allow the sugar to dissolve on medium flame. Reduce flame to low, allow the sugar syrup to thicken lightly. The syrup should be sticky on touch and it should reach one string consistency. Add lemon juice and elachi powder and turn off flame.
  3. After the dough has rested, do not knead. To prepare badusha, pinch off lemon sized dough and roll into balls. Flatten the balls lightly and make a depression in the center using your thumb. Making the depression is crucial, so do not skip this step. You can also make another shape of the badusha similar to the ones shown in the image above. Lightly flatten along the edge of the flattened ball using the tips of your forefinger and thumb and pinch it inwards to form a pleated edge. Make a slight depression in the center of the badusha.
  4. Heat oil for deep frying in a heavy bottomed vessel till hot but not smoking hot. Add a small piece of dough into the oil and if it sizzles and comes to the surface, the oil is ready for deep frying. TURN OFF FLAME. Now slowly add 3 to 4 badushas into the hot oil and allow them to rise to the surface of the oil. Do not skip this step. It is similar to how we would fry gulab jamuns.
  5. Once the badushas surface to the top of the oil, turn on flame to low and cook on both sides till golden brown. The key to a good badusha is in the deep frying. The badushas have to cook slowly and do not rush through the process by trying to cook them on high flame as they will remain uncooked inside. It has to reach golden brown color. Do not over cook it to a darker golden shade.
  6. Using a slotted ladle, remove the badushas from the hot oil and place them gently in the warm sugar syrup. Once the badusha sits in the syrup, use a ladle and allow it to sink inside the syrup such that it is coated all over. Allow to sit in the syrup till the next batch of badusha is done. In between do flip over to the othe side so that the badushas absorb the syrup evenly. Remove from the syrup and place them on a plate and allow to come to room temperature.
  7. Store in an air tight container. They stay fresh for at least 3 to 4 days at room temperature. You can refrigerate them for longer shelf life.

Tips:

  • Cook the badushas on low flame only till they achieve a golden shade. They have to cook slowly so that the insides are completely cooked.
  • Soak in sugar syrup for a longer period than specified in the recipe, if you feel the badusha needs more soaking time.
  • Try to keep the sugar syrup warm at all times. You can heat over gentle flame to warm it.

recipe courtesy: http://www.sailusfood.com/

Spinach soup

imageSpinach is one of the wonderful green-leafy vegetables often recognized as one of the functional foods for its wholesome nutritional, antioxidants and anti-cancer composition. Its tender, crispy, dark-green leaves are one of the favorite ingredients of chefs all around the planet.

Fresh leaves are rich source of several vital anti-oxidant vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, B complex, and several minerals.

It is also good source of omega-3 fatty acids.

 

 

 

Spinach Soup:image

Sauté sliced onion, and washed spinach in oil/ghee.
Add mixed italian herb seasoning, chilli flakes, no salt at this stage.
Add a little milk and cook until done.
Cool and puree.
Put back in the pan, dilute puree with more milk+water.
Add salt to taste.
Warm thru, no boiling.

recipe courtesy – Meena 😍

I have added tomato, mini soya chunks, and tofu, And instead of Italian herb seasoning, I have added garlic, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves powder to it. It almost tastes like palak paneer but milk adds a very liquidy and silky texture.🍲🍲🍲🍲

Bon appetit 😋😋😋😋

Sivangi pulusu

I am not sure how many of you have heard/known about this andhra delicacy 😍

imagei heard about this about 30+ years ago, here in New York, from a very close family friend, Bala Sastry garu. I used to call her ‘aunty’ very dearly and both uncle and aunty treated me like their own daughter. And through Sastry garu only (he was working at the UN at that time and had been going around the world working for UN), I have been introduced to the United Nations and started my career at the UN very reluctantly in 1983. Very reluctantly because I was in my grad program at that time and I was not quite sure whether I could handle both at the same time. And also it was a temporary job and I did not want to change from student status (visa) to diplomatic status and that too for 5 months. Now it is all history and now I am with the UN for 32 years. 😀

coming to the main story, aunty had introduced us to this delicious dish, ‘delicious’ is an understatement. I regret today that I haven’t taken the recipe from aunty. Today to commemorate my 5-day break from routine, I wanted to cook something, so I took out eggplants to make regular pulusu – then I thought why shouldn’t I make Sivangi pulusu, then I searched Google and found few recipes and then I decided to go the way whatever I felt like.image

When I roasted the ingridents for making the powder, I felt like I could share its #Aroma with everyone,  real killer. I am not sure I came any closer to aunty’s Sivangi pulusu, but I savoured it to my heart’s/taste buds’ content.

ingredients:

  • eggplant (small eggplant would be better, but I used slender, long ones today)  – 2
  • onions 1 med size
  • red chillies 6 to 7
  • urud dal – 2 tablespoons
  • chenna dal – 2 tablespoons
  • peanuts – 2 tablespoons
  • sesame seeds – 4 tablespoons
  • coriander seeds – 2 tablespoons
  • fenugreek seds – 3 tablespoons
  • cumin seeds – 1 tablespoon
  • brown sugar – few spoons ( i use brown sugar available in super markets rather than jaggery available in Indian super markets)
  • tamarind – medium lime size
  • salt, red chilli powder, turmeric,
  • oil (10 table spoons)
  • preparation:

dry roast urud dal, chenna dal, coriander seeds, sesame, fenugreek, peanuts, cumin, red chillies and make it into a powder. Since I used slender, long egg plants, I cut each eggplant into 4 to 5 pieces, and make small cut on one side of each of those pieces and stuff the dry spice powder into each one. Add some oil ( 6 to 7 table spoons) to the container, and add seasoning – urud dal, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, mustard and curry leaves – cut onion into small pieces ( they literally would dissolve in the pulusu, I was wondering whether I have added onions after the dish was done 😜, and I did add onions) , add onions pieces and add the stuffed eggplant pieces to the container, add turmeric, salt and red chili powder to the curry and close the lid for a few minutes, when the eggplant is cooked (becomes little tend, especially when we use these long ones, they become tender in no time), add few more spoons of the spice powder, add oil (depends on your taste) and add tamarind syrup to the curry (make as much tamarind syrup as possible) and add little water to it. And let it cook for another 10 minutes and add brown sugar to it and let it cook for another minute or two.

It goes very well with rice and even just like soup, 🍲🍲🍲🍲🍲 it is succulent😋😋😋😋😋🍆🍆🍆🍆

Gutthi vankaya

Ingredients:

6 long tender egg plants
1/2 packet garlic chutney karam
Onions 2 to 3 big
Salt, turmeric, oil
Dry Coriander powder 3 to 4 tea spoons (dhania powder)
Little urud dal, cumin , mustard, curry leaves for seasoning, sliced soaked almond pieces

image

Cut each eggplant into 4 to 5 pieces each piece is about an inch to inch and half and cut each piece horizontally and vertically (little cut) at one side or both sides which could be used to stuff the onion karam.

Cut all the onions into very small pieces and add the garlic chutney powder, turmeric, coriander powder, little salt and 3 to t table spoons of oil and mix them thoroughly with a spoon. The whole mixture should have little moisturized texture. Stuff little bit of that mixture into each piece. Put some oil into a pan, add some turmeric powder and add these pieces and cook them for a while, once they get little cooked, add any of the spice mixture leftover to it and cook for some more time. since the eggplants are very tender, do not cook them for long time, only until the egg plant becomes little softer and just watch it carefully not to burnt the onions in the process. Add enough oil so that everything gets cooked well. Sauté some urud dal and other seasonings separately and add it the curry almost at the end so that they would be little crispier. Garnish with coriander leaves and sliced almond pieces.