Series Review: The Crown (Season 1)

The weekend before last I binge-watched The Crown on Netflix. Tracing the life of Queen Elizabeth-II from before she was Queen to 1955, when her sister, Princess Margaret, calls off her engagement to Peter Townsend (a much publicised relationship at that time), the series is a work of art.

The actors are flawless. While Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth and Matt Smith as Prince Philip do more than justice to their roles, Vanessa Kirby simply fits right into her role as Princess Margaret and John Lithgow could might as well be a clone of Winston Churchill.

Yet, the series has some palpable drawbacks. The monarchy is far too romanticised, as seen in the episode where Queen Mary compares the British monarchy to gods, when, in fact they are as human as you and me. Churchill is far too positively portrayed, and Prince Philip often comes off as a whiny, temperamental, attention-seeking husband.

But, still waiting for Season 2!




Book Review: The London Train by Tessa Hadley

There is little doubt, if not any, that Tessa Hadley is a good writer. By all means, The London Train is well written book, and perhaps the most unique thing is an interconnection just when you thought the book was done and dusted.

The book focuses on the death of parents and its impact on two very different adults, who at one point have an affair with each other, and then go about their lives. The book begins with a mother’s death and follows events of her son, Paul’s life. He comes off as unemotional, as if playing the role of a father and a husband out of pure societal pressure. His reactions to most things, save for when the neighbour decides to cut trees that run along common trajectory, are muted. This unemotional, muted, boring characteristic runs in Cora, whose story is narrated later on in the book.

Cora and Paul have an affair during different time-lines, (Cora’s story is set before Paul’s) and I still haven’t understood how exactly they met and went on their separate ways. The whole involvement comes off bland, like white rice on a plate. The most spicy things to write about are affairs, their deep emotional impact and yet, Hadley’s novel merely paints the entire thing as a sapless episode.

Points for writing, but none for plot.

Book Review: The Virgins by Pamela Erens

Passionate people have a passionate way of doing things, including life and death. Erens’ book revolves around an inter-racial romantic relationship between Seung Jung, a son of Korean immigrants, who has come to study at Auburn Academy on merit and Aviva Rossner, a Jewish girl who tends to be on the rebel side.

Narrated by a rejected suitor, Bruce Bennet Jones, the book takes us through the relationship of Jung and Rossner, which eventually leads to Jung’s death. The death was revealed a little too early in the book, and since the revelation I read the book waiting for death to come, the rest being muted to the side.

Yet, the novel is beautifully written-Bennet’s underlying jealousy as he narrates the story, Jung’s confused thoughts as he battles between the conservative Korean mindset of his parents and his own urges and of course, Rossner’s wanting to be ready for something she wasn’t. The book is perhaps not the best of the coming of age genre, but tells us a dark and dangerous story nonetheless.


Happy (Belated) Ugadi!

Ugadi is the new year in Andhra Pradesh,Telangana and Karnataka (I still cannot get my head around the fact that AP is now two states). True to my mixed heritage, I celebrated Ugadi in my own little way (and a day early, because it is gudi padwa in Maharashtra).

I made bevu bella (Kannada) or bellam pachadi (Telugu) which is essentially a juice (of sorts) that we drink to ring in the new year.

The tradition of bevu bella (Kannada: neem, jaggery) is to have a balance to all things that form part of life: happiness, sadness, troubled times. This philosophy has made the most sense to me since I was a kid, and therefore Ugadi holds some special place for me.

This year I made bevu bella and Mavinakayi Chitranna (Kannada: raw mango lemon rice)

Bevu Bella 

You’ll Need:
1. Tamarind
2. Neem Leaves (with the little flowers)
3. Jaggery
4. Raw Mango (grated)

1. Heat water and soak the tamarind for about 10 minutes. Remove the tamarind.
2. In the tamarind water, add the neem leaves (cut up), flowers, crushed jaggery and the grated raw mango.
3. let it soak for a while before you have it.

Mavinakayi Chitranna 

You’ll Need:
1. Cooked rice (about 1 cup)
2. Oil
3. Red chilli
4. Chana Dal
5. Urad dal
6. Jeera
7. Green chilli
8. Peanuts
9. Turmeric
10. Curry leaves
11. Salt
12. Coriander
13. Lemon juice (fresh juice squeezed from a lemon is preferable


In a pan, heat oil for about a minute. Once heated, add the red chillis (in most markets in Bombay they’re known as Andhra chillis) and fry for about 20 seconds. Add the chana dal, urad dal, jeera, green chilli, peanuts, curry leaves, turmeric-frying each of them for 20 seconds each. Once done add salt and mix. Add the cooked rice and mix. Turn off the stove. Add lemon juice and mix, Garnish with coriander.

This is how my experiments turned out!

Ugadi habbada subashayagalu (Kannada: Happy Ugadi!)


Movie Review: Badrinath ki Dulhania

[Author Note: This post was originally published on 21 March 2017]

Disclaimers first. I’m not a usual Hindi movie fan. In fact, my Bollywood knowledge is entirely credited to my roommate in law school. And, because I continue to love her more than ever, I voluntarily agreed to watch Badrinath ki Dulhania on Sunday afternoon.

In short? The movie is horrendous.

The movie centres around Badrinath Bansal (Varun Dhawan), Badri for short, and his quest for a bride. Besides looking for a bride, he does not do anything substantial, other than being a “support” to his family for “collection of loans”. Because, hey guys its 2017 and moneylenders are still the only means of credit in rural and semi-urban India. [Author Note: I’m a banking lawyer, and let me assure you that the central bank, the RBI does enough to ensure that the law and regulation seeks to provide credit to those who need it, formally]. Badri is assisted by his loyal sidekick, Somdev, who runs the ever spurious website

His brother, on the other hand, is a pretty decent, calm guy. The character of the wife, Urmila Bansal, is not half bad, even though she succumbs to all the nonsense that this family puts her through. Brother runs a automobile showroom, and exploits his wife banking and accounting skills (she is a topper who also got a job offer in Singapore but her backward father said no to that and got her married to this dude) to better run the business.

The Bansal patriarch is the most disturbing character in the entire movie, not only because he is annoying af, but because just hearing bad dialogues was enough to give me a headache. [Author Note: True story, I took a crocin after getting home]

Badri meets Vaidehi Trivedi (Alia Bhatt) and her sister at a wedding and is smitten by her. Somdev then meets the parents of the Trivedi sisters and arranges to get both their daughters married. The sister’s wedding is set with some Radhe Maa fan who demands dowry that the Trivedi parents cannot afford, so Badri goes to negotiate. So despite the disclaimer at the beginning of the movie of dowry being fucking illegal, the movie seems to encourage thoda lena dena . Badri basically sets everything up till wedding day, and is ecstatic that he’s going to marry Vaidehi. But on D-Day, she just disappears and is shown travelling to Mumbai for a job interview with Frankfinn airhostess training. Her father is upset but her sister gets married to radhe maa fan.


The Bansal patriarch orders depressed Badri to hunt down Vaidehi and bring her back and show her business. So Badri goes to Mumbai and finds that she is in Singapore. And so, logically, he goes to Singapore. Once there, he physically assaults her by attacking her from behind, dumping her into the fucking car trunk, takes her to a isolated area and catches her by the throat and all she says when the police find them and take them in for questioning is that it was a mere misunderstanding.

Thereafter, he legit stalks her, beats up one of her male friends and is being the height of all things that feminism stands against. Even after all this (his passport gets confiscated), she allows him to live in her flat (damn fancy, even by Singapore standards) and cooks for him. Then there’s an emotional ew scene when he leaves for India.

Back home, Badri is still unemployed and his family is looking for a wife. Urmila is pregnant so anti-feminist Bansal patriarch has a puja so that she can have a boy. At the puja, Badri is drunk and has a tiff with Bansal patriarch and suddenly Vaidehi appears from nowhere saying that she legit loves him and wants to marry him, but at the same time wants her job et al.

So let me get this straight. This educated woman who got a decent enough job in Singapore (INR 1.5 lakhs as per the movie) ran back to India to marry an uneducated (passing 10th grade is not enough when you clearly do not know what IIT stands for. I mean, you live in India), unemployed, who does nothing for a living (even in the two years he spent “waiting” for her as she worked in Singapore) and continues to do nothing as she starts her own air hostess training school in Jhansi.


Caramel Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Caramel CakeUsing the same recipe (for the cake) as the previous post, I baked again, this time with different icing.

I made caramel chocolate ganache and decorated with chocolate covered raisins and dark chocolate chips.

for the ganache 

150 g caramel hot chocolate

50 ml of thick cream (I used Amul Fresh Cream)

200 ml of milk

Boil the milk. As it boils, add the hot chocolate and keep stirring till the entire powder has dissolved. Add the cream. Stir well till you arrive at a thick, nice consistency. Let it cool.

Once your cake is baked and cooled, generously apply the ganache over the cake. Decorate!

Chocolate Cake (in a Microwave)

No weekend is ever truly complete without some sinful chocolate. So, to compliment my pasta as dessert, I decided to try out BBC Good Food Chocolate Cake in a microwave with a bit of my own twist (with my friend Mr. Abhishek, who thinks I did not give him enough credit for baking with me. :D)

You’ll need:

  1. 7 tsps of sunflower oil (+ 1 tsps to grease the pan)
  2. 150g caster sugar (I used Blue Bird caster sugar)
  3. 150g maida 
  4. 3tbsps of cocoa (I used Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa)
  5. 3 tsp of baking powder (Again, used Blue Bird baking powder)
  6. 4 medium sized eggs
  7. 1 tsp vanilla essence (Although, I used a tad bit more because I LOVE vanilla)
  8. Nutella (because, duh)
  9. Dark chocolate chips


  1. Take two big bowls. One is for the dry ingredients and the other is for the wet ingredients. My sister, Gowri, taught me this the very first time I baked a cake. Baking 101.
  2. In the dry ingredients bowl, add maida, caster sugar, cocoa and baking powder. Mix well with a large spoon. My best friend, Brinda, likes to sieve it but I’m too lazy.
  3. In the wet ingredients bowl, break the eggs and beat them (good bicep workout), add the vanilla essence and sunflower oil. Mix well.
  4. Now, gently pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients bowl. Mix really really well and ensure that there are no lumps in the batter.
  5. Grease a microwave safe bowl or pan with sunflower oil
  6. Let the batter set for about 10 minutes before you transfer it to a microwave safe bowl/pan.
  7. Place the pan in the microwave and let it cook for 7 minutes at 800 watts.
  8. Once done, check with a skewer if the cake has baked. If it comes out clean, that means you’ve done it right!
  9. Transfer the cake to a large plate and let it cool for 10 minutes.
  10. Once cooled, put as much nutella as you’d like on top. Decorate. (I used dark chocolate chips)

Chocolate Cake.jpg

Crunchy Almond Garlic Basil Pesto Spaghetti

Now that I’ve written that super-fancy title, here’s a not so fancy pasta (basically spaghetti with things thrown in-it’s all in the title). It’s a Saturday night, I’m having friends over, and in a first (in a long time) I’m cooking!

You’ll Need:

  1. 400 g of Spaghetti Pasta
  2. Basil Pesto sauce
  3. Cream
  4. Broccoli
  5. 1 tomato
  6. mushrooms
  7. Black olives
  8. 10-15 almonds, grated.
  9. some garlic


  1. Boil the pasta in a large bowl. Remember to add some salt to the water so that it cooks well.
  2. As the pasta boils (sip on some wine now and then), cut up some broccoli, tomatoes and mushrooms. Put them to boil.
  3. Grate the almonds and keep aside. Cut up 2-3 garlic cloves.
  4. Take the basil pesto sauce and add cream to it.
  5. Now that you’ve got all the right mixes, you just have to put them together.
  6. Take the boiled pasta. Add the basil pesto cream sauce  and the boiled veggies, olives to it. Toss well.
  7. In a small pan, add some olive oil to heat. In 30 seconds, add the grated almonds and garlic cloves. Fry.
  8. Add a bit more olive oil to the almonds and garlic cloves and pour it all over the pasta.
  9. Serve hot! (with sangria, preferably).

The Basic South Indian Meal

As readers will know, I’m South Indian, born and brought up in Bangalore. Growing up, I’ve been fortunate to eat a wide range of South Indian food, because my parents (and therefore me) came from a very mixed background. But the basic essence of a meal is pretty much the same across the southern part of the country.

oota (Kannada: meal)

bhojanam (Telugu: meal)

unavu (Tamil: meal)

This is what I’ve grown up eating, and only recently succeeded at cooking for a total of 4 people.


I cannot sleep if I haven’t had rice atleast once a day. For most of my adult life, I’ve had hand-pounded brown rice, which is a healthy middle ground between white and brown rice (because my stomach has never been able to fathom the idea of wholly brown rice, despite the health benefits).

Rice is super easy to make.

You’ll need:

  1. Rice
  2. Water


  1. In a pressure cooker, pour some water at the base and place a container.
  2. The container must contain 1 cup of rice and 2.5 cups of water.
  3. close the container with a lid.
  4. Close the pressure cooker and place it on the stove.
  5. Turn on the stove to medium heat. Let it cook for 5 minutes
  6. Once steam begins to emit from the cooker, place a whistle weight.
  7. Let it cook till the whistle has blown thrice.
  8. After the third whistle, turn down the stove heat to sim for 10 minutes.
  9. Turn off the stove and let it cool.

In the alternative, you can cook it in a fancy-shamncy electronic cooker for 25 minutes.

Vegetable [Palya (Kannada)/Kura (Telugu)/Poriyal (Tamil)]

This is what is usually known as sabzi in the rest of the country. I decided to make carrot for today.

Depending on the vegetable, you will either have to boil it before you sauté it or sauté it directly.

Carrots will have to be boiled before they are sautéed.

You’ll need:

  1. 2-3 Carrots
  2. Water
  3. Oil
  4. Mustard Seeds
  5. Cumin Seeds
  6. Urad dal
  7. Red chillis (optional)
  8. curry leaves
  9. grated coconut (optional)


  1. Take 2-3 carrots. Cut them finely. (Hack: There is this amazing Prestige vegetable cutter that makes life so easy- I use this to cut vegetables)
  2. Grate some coconut.
  3. Once cut, boil it for about 10 minutes.
  4. Once boiled, drain the excess water.
  5. In a pan, add 2 tablespoons of oil and let it head for a minute.
  6. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds (jeera) and urad dal (Kannada: uddinabele) and fry.
  7. Add red chilli, some salt and curry leaves and sauté for a minute.
  8. To this mixture add the carrots and stir well.
  9. Add the grated coconut and mix.
  10. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Tomato Saaru [Rasam (Tamil)/ Saaru (Kannada)/ Chaaru (Telugu)] 

Confession: I wasn’t the biggest fan of Saaru growing up. I developed a love for it only after I left home for law school and was subjected to sweet dal and mishti doi for five years. Lesson learnt? A South Indian needs his or her spicy water.

You’ll need:

  1. one medium tomato
  2. 3/4 cup of tur dal
  3. 1 tbsp of turmeric
  4. Curry leaves
  5. chopped corriander
  6.  1 tablespoon rasam powder
  7. 3/4cup tamarind (soaked in hot water)
  8. 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  9. cumin seeds
  10. asafoetida (optional)
  11. Salt


  1. Take a cup with hot water and place some tamarind in it. Let it soak, we’ll come to it later.
  2. In a container, add 1/2 cup to 3/4cup (depends on how watery you want your saaru to be) of tur dal. Add 2 cups of water. Add turmeric.
  3. Cut the tomato into quarters and place them over the tur dal.
  4. Place the container in the pressure cooker and let it cook the same way as rice (3 whistles)
  5. Chill and have a glass of wine, or eat some chocolate (works for me!)
  6. Once the dal and tomato are cooked and your tamarind soaked, take a tava (big frying pan) and heat oil (about 1 tbsp).
  7. Add mustard seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida and cumin seeds and fry.
  8. Add the cooked dal, tomato and the tamarind-soaked water (and not the tamarind itself) into the tava . Add some water to get it to the consistency you’d like.
  9. Garnish with corriander.

Sambhar (Tamil)/ Huli (Kannada)/ Pulusu (Telugu)

I love huli! Especially with chips, or sandige or vadiyaloo (Kannada, Telugu: fryums).

You’ll need:

  1. A vegetable of choice. I picked Lady’s Finger/Okra- I took about 12 medium sized ones.
  2. 1/2 tbsp turmeric
  3. 1/2 tbsp salt
  4. mustard seeds
  5. oil
  6. 1/2 cup buttermilk
  7. 3/4 cup tamarind (soaked in hot water)
  8. curry leaves
  9. tur dal
  10. 1 tbsp sambhar powder


  1. Cook the tur dal in the same way as above.
  2. Soak the tamarind rice the same way as described above.
  3. Chop the okra into pieces and keep aside.
  4. Take a tava and heat 1 tbsp of sunflower oil for a minute.
  5. Add mustard seeds and let them splutter.
  6. Add the okra pieces, turmeric and salt. Sauté for five minutes.
  7. Add 1/2 cup buttermilk and let the okra cook.
  8. Add the turmeric soaked water and let it boil for 5-7 minutes.
  9. Add curry leaves
  10. Add a cup of water and a tbsp of sambhar powder and let it cook for 5 minutes.
  11. Add the cooked tur dal and stir. Add more water depending on the consistency you want.
  12. Mix well and turn the stove off. Transfer to a serving dish.


There you go! Below is a picture to prove that I actually made all of this:


From my grandmothers’ kitchen

You read the title right (some credit to the lawyer here), I plan to feature some wholly South Indian (from four states, I missed out on the Mallu gene) dishes from both sides (Gult-Tam and Gult-Digga sets). The dishes are vegetarian, and will range from breakfast to proper meals (or oota as we say at home).

Like my Avva (Telugu: grandmother) says, one can do anything with a pressure cooker.