Desiderata by Max Ehrmann



Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.





This is a bit tricky, but worth the effort – giving piles of crispy, spicy ganthia to munch on!

250 gm besan flour
1/2 cup water
1 tsp papad kheer
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ajwain / carom seed
2 pinches hing
1 – 2 tsp chili powder (to taste)
1/2 tsp turmeric
4 Tbsp oil

Oil to fry

Heat water in small saucepan and add salt and papad kheer and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat.

Sift besan flour into bowl and stir in chili powder, hing, turmeric and ajwain seeds. Add 4 tbsp oil and blend well with your hands to make sure all flour has oil mixed with it. Add water slowly and stir between adding. The dough is VERY sticky.

Heat oil until a piece of dough will rise to the top and sizzle.

Fill a kitchen press / murrukku maker with the dough and place the large sev plate on the end of the press and screw shut.  Below is a picture of the maker – it is also called a kitchen press.

murrukku maker

Murrukku maker (kitchen press) with large sev plate.

Squeeze dough into hot oil. When doing so, you will need to almost touch the surface of the oil with the end of the press while squeezing out the dough. Shake the press slightly while doing so, this will help separate the strands. Take a knife and cut off the dough ( will be near hot oil!) Stir pieces with the knife after you cut them off so as to separate them well while they cook in the oil. You may be able to put two or three squeezes of dough into the oil. Cook until they are very lightly browned, remove – shaking over pan to remove excess oil and place on paper towels to drain. Store in covered container.

Rajma Tikki

I made these the other day when I found that I had soaked too many kidney beans and so needed to use them up.  They are nice and soft and go well with lemon pickle or chutney.   I will try to add a photo when I have a chance (before they are eaten!)

1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans, mashed
1 medium potato, boiled and mashed
1/2 onion, chopped
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1/2 sprig curry leaf, chopped
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp chopped green chili
3/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chaat masala
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp black salt
salt to taste
2 Tbsp oil

Oil to fry

Besan flour


Heat oil in pan. When hot add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When mustard seeds splutter, add onion. Cook for 1 minute, add ginger paste, garlic and green chili. Stir and cook for 2 mins on med heat, stirring. Add coriander powder, chaat masala and turmeric. Stir well and add about 1 tbsp water. Cook on med low for about 3 mins, stirring. Remove from heat and stir in black salt.
In a large bowl, add mashed kidney beans, potatoes, coriander, curry leaves. Stir in onion mixture and add garam masala and salt to taste. Form small patties with oiled hands and place on lightly oiled plate.

Heat oil to fry and make a thinnish batter with equal amounts of cornstarch and besan flour, salt to taste. Dip tikkis in batter, roll in crumbs and fry. I do NOT pre-make tikkis and refrigerate, they will not cook through properly.

Drain and serve with chutney. You can make without crumbs, but you need to use batter for coating to keep tikki’s from absorbing too much oil. Be careful eating hot tikkis, they are very hot and soft inside.


I haven’t been active here for a bit, recently moved from Florida back to Maine – my home.  Moving to Florida was a big change for me, the climate and the people are different there.  It was not where I wanted to be, but where I had to be.  I had to accept it and make the best of it. Still, I cried almost daily, thinking I would never return to my home.  It got me thinking though, about people who immigrate – to strange lands, strange people and language.  How strong they must be to leave their homes behind, sometimes forever.  I remember a story I read about Irish immigrants sailing across the Atlantic.  Older people who had survived horrific conditions on board would catch their first glimpse of the American coastline, and they would die.  Perhaps from the immense fact that hit them; they had finally, truly left their home and would never see it again, ever.  I can’t imagine the pain.

Yet we all go through painful changes, and we do survive. They are those things which we bear to strengthen our own souls, to gain compassion with others and to learn about life and ourselves.  I am grateful for the gifts I have now.  Back home I can say that I love a rainy day, carrying the faint wisp of the ocean in it’s midst.  The smell and colors of fall leaves as they blaze out and tremble in the wind.  I look forward to snow, sparkling like a carpet of diamonds under the moonlight.  These things are amazing to me now – and reminders too.  Never forget, the changes and the lessons they bring.

A simple masala

I like this masala as a basis for many curries.  It is pretty fast to cook up and you can add whatever vegetable, paneer, egg or meat that you want.


1 onion, chopped fine

1 large or 2 small cloves garlic minced
1/2 inch ginger minced
1 Tbsp ginger / garlic paste

2 tomatoes, chopped
OR 1 Tbsp tomato paste dissolved in 1/2 cup water
OR 3/4 cup tomato puree
Don’t use canned tomatoes..they won’t cook down.

1 to 2 green chilis, chopped (or to taste)

1/2 tsp cumin seed (jeera)
1/2 tsp mustard seed (rai)
1/4 tsp turmeric (haldi)
1 tsp coriander powder (dania powder)
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 red chili powder or to your taste (lal mirch)
2 cups water or to desired thickness
Salt to taste

Add: Frozen vegetables, pre-cooked vegetable, pre-cooked meat, paneer, leafy vegetable, cooked Koftas, whatever you like

To finish (can omit if you do not want sour)
Lemon Juice

Can add the following for taste or garnish:

Coriander leaves, chopped
Fresh curry leaves, fried

Oil to fry

Place 3 Tbsp oil in pan and heat. Add mustard and cumin seed, when they splutter, add onion. Stir and cook until translucent..or you can brown onion if you like that taste, just cook and stir until they are as brown as you like. Add garlic (don’t brown garlic, it gets bitter!) and minced ginger OR ginger / garlic paste and stir. Add green chile and stir. Add tomatoes and cook until slightly softened – if using paste or puree, add it now. Add turmeric, coriander powder, chili powder, garam masala and stir. If tomatoes or puree / paste are not liquidy enough, add some water so that spices do not stick and burn (about 1/2 cup). Cook, stirring constantly until oil begins to separate from the paste. Add 1-2 cups of water (depending on how thick you want it) and stir well.

At this point you can decide whether you want a smooth sauce or not. If you want smooth, remove from slightly, blenderize and pour back into pan. If not, just leave as is.

Add whatever vegetable, paneer or meat ingredients you want at this point. Cook sauce to desired thickness or until ingredients are cooked through, add salt to taste. Finish with lemon juice or yogurt if you like. Coriander and / or curry leaves can be added for taste too.

Quantities of masala sauce can be made ahead of hand, just don’t add the veggies, cheese, meat or yogurt until you heat it. Keep refrigerated or freeze. You will have it ready for when you need it!

Zinnias are blooming!

Here are a bunch of pictures of the zinnias that are blooming in my pots by the back terrace.  I did not plant a lot of multicolored ones this year, mostly purple (much to my dismay – I like the variety).  Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Orange zinnia

Orange zinnia

Pink Zinnia

Pink Zinnia

Pale Purple Zinnia

Pale Purple Zinnia

Bright Pink / Purple Zinnia

Bright Pink / Purple Zinnia

Yellow Zinnia

Yellow Zinnia

Purple Cluster

Purple Cluster

Multi-petalled Orange Zinnia

Multi-petalled Orange Zinnia

Light Orange Zinnia

Light Orange Zinnia

Large Purple Zinnia

Large Purple Zinnia

Herbs in the garden (so far…)

It is getting hotter and wetter here in Florida and most of my herbs love it!  I have attached pictures to show how my plant babies are doing..



These are the gongura (hibiscus / roselle) getting ever bigger!


Galangal grown from a root I bought.

thai basil

Thai Basil (this one is a stray growing in the terrace)

large lemongrass

Lemongrass growing – this too from some pieces I bought in a store last year.


Mint – a bit overgrown at this point but still useable, not a real heat lover.

curryleaf in rain

The curry leaf has blossomed and new leaves are forming. Old leaves are falling off.


2 year old rosemary bush from a tiny one I bought at Loew’s.

Gongura Pulihora – Indian Rice dish


Gongura Pulihora


Gongura plant (the leaves with the red stems!)

I recently found to my pleasant surprise that the Roselle plants that I am growing to make Hibiscus tea are actually a form of sorrel.  The leaves are called Gongura in India and are used in making a tart pickle and to flavor rice.  I made the recipe for my rice and it was delightful.  The secret to the good taste is to make sure the tempering (fried dals) is nicely browned and not burned. 


Gongura (Hibiscus leaves) Pulihora


Rice – 1.5 cups (about 4 cups cooked)
Sliced Gongura Leaves – 2 Packed Cups or more to taste.
Fenugreek Seeds – 1/4 tsp
Mustard Seeds – 1 tsp
Urad Dal – 1 tsp
Chana Dal – 1 tsp
Red Chillies – 2
Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
Curry Leaves – 8 to 10

Vegetable Oil – 4 tbsp
Salt to Taste


Rinse rice well and soak for 20 mins,  Bring water to boil and boil 3 mins.  Drain and return to pan. Cover and cook on low heat until water is absorbed.  I just turn the burner off on my ceramic stove and let the covered pan sit for 10 mins.
When the rice is cooked, spread it in a large plate to cool.
Over medium heat, dry roast the fenugreek seeds till they start to change color. Grind the fenugreek seeds into a fine powder.

You can also use ground fenugreek powder and CAREFULLY heat it in a small pan – stirring constantly until you just start to smell it.  Remove from heat immediately.

In a wok or kadai, heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil.
Add two split red chillies and stir-fry for 1 minute.
Add the gongura leaves and stir-fry till the leaves wilt.
Set aside the gongura leaves to cool.
Once the leaves are cool, grind into a smooth paste.  I did this in a coffee grinder and had to add about 3 Tbsp water to get it to a paste.
In a wok or kadai, heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil.
Add mustard seeds and wait till they splutter.
Add the urad dal and chana dal.
Stir fry till the dals are light golden brown.  BE CAREFUL at this point, you do not want to burn the seeds.  Take the pan off the heat if you have to before you add the rest of the ingredients.
Add the curry leaves, and 2 split red chillies.
Stir-fry till the chili just begins to darken, once again you may have to take the pan off the heat.
Add the gongura paste, roasted fenugreek powder, turmeric, and salt.  Cook briefly to heat through.
Add the rice and mix well.  Check for salt.  If you want it more tart either add more gongura leaf paste or add a bit of lemon juice.


Korean Style spring rolls

I would have posted a picture of the ones I made myself, but alas – I ate them…all of them!    I am not sure if they are truly Korean, but the ones I had at a Korean church fair had the same ingredients.  They are easy to make and you can do the filling ahead of hand and refrigerate it.  You can also make them ahead and freeze them, take them out and fry as needed.  Note:  These do NOT keep well refrigerated once they are made, the skins get soggy and eat them while they’re hot!

spring roll picture

Spring rolls picture from:


1 Lb ground pork

3 stalks scallions, chopped

2 cups cabbage, chopped fine (can do in food processor using the grater disk)

1 cup carrot, shredded (can do in food processor using the grater disk)

4 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked and trimmed, chopped fine

1 -2 cloves garlic, minced fine

1 Tbsp dark soy sauce – chinese brand

1 tsp dark sesame oil – chinese brand

1 pkg spring roll wrappers – thawed.

Oil to deep fry

Paste made with 2 Tbsp flour, 1 tsp cornstarch and enough water to make a thin paste. about the consistency of glue.


Fry pork in a deep saucepan until completely cooked.  Drain.  Stir in cabbage, carrot, scallion, mushroom, garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil.  You can do this before the meat cools.  At this point you can refrigerate the keeps for a couple of days, or use it right away to make the rolls.

To make rolls.  Unwrap spring roll wrappers and remove from package.  Gently peel one wrapper off and place it in front of you with one of the 4 corners facing you.  Place a tablespoon or so of the pork and veggie mixture on the wrapper about 1 inch from the point and roll up, starting with the point and then pulling the two sides of the wrapper over the filling to cover it.  Complete the roll and put a bit of the flour / cornstarch paste on the closing point and roll to seal it.  See pictures below.

Heat oil to med – high in a deep frypan or wok and fry 4 – 6 at a time, turning once or twice until golden brown.  Remove and drain on paper towels.  Serve with duck sauce, hot mustard, Thai sweet chili sauce or whatever condiment you like.

How to make the rolls:

how to roll a spring roll from:

how to roll a spring roll from:


Tabbouleh salad

Tabbouleh salad

Tabbouleh Salad

This is a delightful filling salad that is so refreshing on a hot, humid day.  It is especially good made with garden fresh tomatoes!

1 /2 cup medium or coarse bulgur wheat soaked in 2 cups boiling water for about 1/2 hr
3/4 cup chopped parsley
2 large tomatoes or equivalent (about 1 cup chopped or to taste)
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup chopped mint
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Strain soaked bulgur and rinse under cold water. Mix bulgur with mint, parsley and garlic. Add lemon juice and olive oil and stir well, add salt and pepper to taste. Before serving, stir in chopped tomatoes.  You can adjust any of the ingredients to taste if you like.