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Grounding reality for the next 100, and an inspiring dose of pure motivation

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There are very few moods that match the depth of emptiness that follows a jubilant high.One invariably needs a high to match the previous one & then some more.. (Isn't that what an addiction begins with?). Rather than try & match the highs of the last month, (a Cooking Channel taping session opposite Kelsey Nixon, A walking tour through the hallowed kitchens at Food Network Studios,  a milestone post..), I'd like to take a moment to pause & ask myself.. What now? Do I do a George Bush & declare 'Success'? Not a Chance!!

This seemed to be the perfect opportunity to sit down and read through author Monica Bhide's latest work, an e-book 'In Conversation with exceptional women'. This compilation is an inspirational labor of love, a heart to heart conversation with 57 exceptionally talented women, each of whom have succeeded in their respective fields by their sheer grit, hard work & determination. As much as one marvels at the heights they've scaled, it is heartening & reassuring to read about their personal journeys, their triumphs & tribulations,  what they would have told their 16 yr old selves (most popular answers, 'lighten up', 'believe in yourself, & 'to hell with the boys (I'm paraphrasing here,  I can also  personally identify with Padma Lakshmi's admonition of not buying those acid washed jeans!).

The initial thought that hits the readers brain while scrolling down the table of contents, is a deep sense of intimidation and that is to be expected. After all, this is a group of uber successful women all clubbed together. Enough to make one want to go hide under the bed. Reading on, (curled up under the bed springs if need be) one experiences the sense of motivation & inspiration from each subject wrapping around the thought processes in the brain, draping itself gracefully & integrating, kindling new  ideas, questioning and challenging them in a positive way.

As I scrolled down to the last page, my personal ego was more than happy to disperse any notions of doing a Dubya. Success is a continuous and dynamic process, something that will stay with you as long as you work for it. Courting success is like maintaining a relationship, you have to keep working hard at it, always keeping in mind your starting point, (your grounding voltage), and never taking your eyes off the pinnacle you've set your sights on. Monica Bhide hands you not one, but 57 shining examples of what hard work & determination can achieve. The passion & dedication that the author has poured into this book makes her absolutely worthy of being clubbed as the 58th exceptional woman that should be included within.

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Speaking of starting points, it seems to be a great time to hark back to the very first 'panfusine' recipe that I ever attempted. It was more out of sheer necessity than anything else. August 2002, a blazing hot summer day, & there I was, draped in 9 yards of heavy Kanjeevaram silk,  ready to do my first solo Varalakshmi pooja. I had managed to cobble together most of the mandatory 'prasad' dishes (offerings to the deity), except for the all important 'medu vada'. Running up and down a flight of stairs with the traditionally draped saree, frying up batches of vada over a hot wok of oil and taking care of the pooja details were kind of making me nervous. Happened to spot my unused waffle iron and decided to make two ( yep, just enough for the pooja) waffles with the batter. At least that way, I'd have a cooked product. It was the best Medu vada I had, in terms of texture. Crisp on the outside, with a perfectly fluffy light as air interior..I've come some ways and still have a long way ahead. but here is a slightly modified version of the traditional medu vada.

Waffle Vada (with mung & urad dal)

1/2 cup split dehusked urad dal
1/2 cup split dehusked mung dal
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon freshly crushed peppercorn
Sesame oil for brushing the waffle plates

(you may choose to add finely minced green chillies, chopped curry leaves, cilantro in addition as per your preference)

Soak the dals together in about 5 cups of water for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
Rinse the soaked rehydrated dals thoroughly and grind them into a smooth batter using as little water as possible. The consistency of the batter should be similar to softly whipped egg whites.

Switch on the Waffle iron and liberally brush the surface with oil. When the iron is ready drop about 2 coffee scoops worth of batter onto the plates and close the iron. Wait until any emerging steam subsides and the indicator on the appliance shows that the waffle is 'ready'. Gently open the iron, and pry out the waffle 'vada' using a pair of wooden chopsticks. Serve hot with some tomato rasam on the side.
Cherry tomato Rasam

(the waffles do not take kindly to dunking into the rasam for extended periods of time like the traditional vadas do). Alternate pairing suggestion, fresh Coconut cilantro chutney or even a basic cilantro & mint chutney

Coconut cilantro chutney

Bon Appetit!


I'm adding this dish to the the wonderful collection of Indian recipes at the #IndianFoodPalooza being hosted by Prerna Singh, the author  of


  1. I haven't read the book, but it sounds inspirational. You proved that necessity is the mother of invention.:) Coicidentally I had this idea too but still searching for that elusive waffle iron, and I didn't know whether it would work out right. So it does! Like the idea of cherry rasam. That one is going to be made in Summer. We get cherries from Kashmir here in May.

  2. This is super creative! Love how you used the dals!!!

  3. I LOVE this! So innovative and not to mention healthy. Beautiful pics by the way :-)


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