Sunday 28 June 2020

Tips and Tricks to Make ''Soft'' Theplas

Thepla is a humble dish from Gujarat that is delicious and has a longer shelf life, which makes it the first choice of Indians all over the world while packing it on their travels.
Even t
hough I grew in a Marathi household I have been eating theplas since I was a kid. Who knew one day, I would be married in a Kutchi family were it's more than just a dish, it's an emotion.

So, most of you know that the recipe for theplas is really simple.
Wheat flour + gram flour + finely chopped fenugreek leaves + spices + salt + sesame seeds + water/buttermilk + oil. Knead all t
hese into a soft dough.Then you make roll them into round rotis and roast it with oil or ghee.

The first time I tried them they turned out okay. OKAY because they were yummy and soft when one ate them hot out of the pan. But my theplas would turn crisp and dry if they were stored and consumed after a period of time.
I tried searching online, if I was doing something wrong, but couldn't find anything. My mom made theplas with the same recipe and her's turned out really well.
So after much trial and error and research I concluded that making soft theplas is a skill, one which I might take longer to accomplish.
A few more years down the line and there was no significant progress in my theplas. Until of course I personally started talking to people around me who made really delish and soft theplas.
So the result of years of these ''vartalaab'' with my friends and acquaintances equipped me with a few tricks and tips which brought about a significant progress in the texture of my theplas.
So here I am to share what I learnt, hoping this helps a thepla lover someday.

Trick #1
Yogurt/Sour cream

Instead of using water or butter milk for kneading the thepla dough, one of my friend confided that she uses only plain t
hick yogurt or even better sour cream for kneading the dough. No water is used. This makes theplas yummy and really soft.

Trick #2
Cooked Rice

Another tip to make your theplas soft is to add cooked rice to the flour w
hile kneading the dough. The rice could be left over rice from the previous day as well. Just make sure that it is kneaded well in the dough and doesn't show separate.

Trick #3
Grated Bottle Gourd/ Doodhi

Another great tip was to add
grated doodhi to the thepla dough. The water content in the doodhi keeps your dough moist and soft. Rolling the theplas becomes a bit tough since the dough is moist but the end result is totally worth it.

Trick #4
Soft dough

To make sure that the theplas stay soft for a lon
ger duration, one should make sure that the dough you knead should be softer than the regular roti dough you make. After you cover and rest the dough for 30 minutes, knead it some more by adding in some more oil, rest for another 10 minutes and then start making the theplas.

Trick #5
Medium flame

Roasting the thepla needs special attention. I noticed that since I would make theplas in large
quantities especially to carry on our travels, I would be a bit flustered and in order to finish the task fast my flame would be at high. This would not only make my theplas crisp as opposed to soft, but would also have charred marks on them. So one day I decided to make a small batch and kept my flame on medium and roasted the theplas with patience and a little extra love. Well I don't want to sound like a narcissist, but the theplas turned out so good, that I didn't want to share them.

Trick #6
Flip no more than 4 times

My mom would always finis
h roasting her theplas by flipping them no more than 3 times. The less time it is on flame, the softer they turn out. Well, I try and not flip them for more than 4 times and the result is satisfactory.

All these tips combined together helped me achieve the desired soft texture of theplas.

Hope you enjoyed reading this post. If you have any other tips to make theplas, please share in the comments below.

Sunday 21 June 2020

Father's Day Special: An Ode to my Father

Time and again I have written about my mother on this blog.
And I wonder why did I not feel the need to write anything about my father.
I guess because Fathers are not as expressive as Mothers and so somewhere
we forget to acknowledge their love, sacrifice and presence as much as we do for our mothers.
But today is not that day.
So today I have put together a list of my Dad's qualities that I totally look up to and appreciate.

Punctuality: If there's one thing I could really learn from
him, is his punctuality. Come rain or shine, he will never be late. If we want anything done on time, my dad is the man to go.

Freedom: Growing up he used to be a bit strict with us with regards to limited TV time, sleeping and waking up on time, etc. but as we grew older, he was the one who pampered us silly. Whenever me and my sister went overboard with our shopping escapades and mom was upset, it was he, who would take our side. Even with our mom, he never forced her to do or not do anything. Whether she wanted to work, take a voluntary retirement, go on a solo holiday or discipline us, my Dad never interfered with our mom's choices.

Made Us Feel Important: Whether it is picking up his clothes, finalizing the wall paint or picking up the restaurant for family dinners, he would always leave the decision on us.
Even today whenever we are home, he will walk up to us with his trousers and shirts and ask us which ones he should wear, and will always wear the one we pick.

Dedication: It is t
hat one quality I would really like to inherit/steal. Whether it is his morning Puja routine, morning yoga session or evening walks, he never misses them. He has dedicated time for reading books, watching TV, his naps and helping mom. And never says no, when we ask for help.

Learning: He never stops learning. He completed his post graduate diplomas after we were born. He took his last professional exam when he was 55. And even today, he will try to figure out the whole social media and online banking and trading thing on his own.

He always set high standards for us, but made sure he appreciated and celebrated every small victory of ours. These are just a few that I can think of, but there's so much more to him than these. He takes immense pride in his two daughters, cherishes his grand children and is a devoted husband.

And this is my small way of saying thank you to him for everything he has done for us.
Whether it was taking us to fancy restaurants, bi-annual vacations, getting us the latest but only t
he essential gadgets, but more importantly always believing in us and giving us the freedom to make our choices. The fact that we can fight and argue with him even today and the fact that he will be always be the first one to say sorry whenever anyone is upset and angry, even though it might not be his fault.
For always making us a priority and for just being there.
Thank You Baba.
No one could have done it better.

Sunday 14 June 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Travel With Your Toddlers

Kids bring so much joy and happiness in our lives and we cant imagine lives without them.
But lets face it, after you have kids, you know one thing for sure. Everything changes and that nothing will be the same from now on.

While it takes some time to get back to your routine after kids, we do slowly get there. You resume work, you start hitting the gym, you start going out with your friends and so on.
But travel, oh that can wait. Why???
Because its too much work, too expensive, too stressful and cause they wont remember.
Believe it or not. I have been there too.
Before Ishanvi, husband and I have traveled so much for work and leisure that one of our biggest fear when we were pregnant was that how and when we will get to travel. (with the baby of course)
While husband was all optimistic and enthusiastic, I was firm. No traveling until the baby is old enough. But this old enough part is a tricky one.

How old is old enough to travel?

After I had Ishanvi, I refused to travel. I totally rejected one day trips too and stayed home with Ishanvi while the whole family was out.
When Ishanvi was 11 months old, her cousin visited us from the States.
Husband planned a 2 day trip to Lonavla, which is like a 90 minutes drive from Mumbai, but believe me I was totally losing my shit planning and packing for this one.
Baby food, baby diapers, baby stroller, baby clothes, extra baby clothes and what not. I almost had a meltdown when I found out we didn't have space in our car trunk to carry her high chair and cradle.
But this trip gave me the confidence and rekindled my love for traveling, this time with the baby.
As Ishanvi turned 13 months, we planned a week long trip to Ooty.

This trip was a lot of firsts. Ishanvi's first flight, Ishanvi's first long road trip, Ishanvi's first time napping and eating on the go and also her first fever while on the go.
Barring a few hiccups, this trip was smooth and easy as it involved so much planning. But we did it, only to make us more confident travelers and ready to travel much more.
The next year, we traveled to Thailand, Belgium, Netherlands, USA and France with Ishanvi apart from our family trip to Kerala.
After all these travels I can confidently say that traveling with kids is not only possible but essential too. And it so much fun as opposed to what majority thinks.
Here are my top reasons why you need to travel with kids when they are young.

One of the top reasons why I didn't want to travel after Ishanvi was born was because I was very particular about her routine. She was a happy baby if her meal and nap time were properly taken care of, which in turn ensured I was happy and well rested too. Travel meant disturbing her routine, and ultimately mine.
But after our first trip to Lonavla, I found that, kids will sleep where ever and whenever they are tired. They will sleep on your lap, your car, or stroller. They are more independent and capable than we think. Also, feeding on the go was much easier than I had imagined. For worst case scenarios we had an I-pad to our rescue and everything sailed off smoothly.
So travel with kids makes children (and new parents like me) adaptable and flexible as they adjust to new surroundings and people.

Opens Up their World:

At home, kids are the center of attention. They get what they want, the way they want. When you take them out on your travels, you may not be able to fulfill all their whims and fancies, the person traveling next to you on our flight may not be that friendly, your child might lose their favorite stuffy and have no companion to sleep, and yet it will not be the end of the world.

Travel exposes them to new places, people, food, culture, languages and experiences. Getting away from home helps them realise that they are just a tiny fish in the large sea. They realise the world is huge and they are just a tiny part of it and not the world itself.

To Unplug and Connect:

Being present for your kids doesn't mean physical presence. It means being there mentally, emotionally and psychologically.
But in today's tech savvy world, we are all hooked on to our phones, Ipads or television sets. And travel makes sure you truly unplug and connect with your family.

Travel makes sure you spend quality time as a whole family and notice the little things which you will very easily miss out at home in your mundane routines.

It's Economical:

Yes you heard it right. It's just cheaper to travel with young kids.
We traveled to Thailand, Europe and USA without paying for Ishanvi's flight tickets because she was under 2 years. They don't need extra space/beds in hotels and most attractions, amusement parks and some museums don't charge extra for kids under 5.
Plus, with no school schedules to follow, you can choose to travel in off seasons making travel with kids even cheaper.

Make Memories:

“Why take toddlers with you all over the world when they won’t remember any of it?”
It's like saying, don't read them books because they wont remember the stories.
When Ishanvi was watching Peppa Pig a few months ago, and saw Peppa visiting Eiffel Tower, she asked us, Mamma I have been here, haven't I?
We were all shocked, because Ishanvi was barely 22 months when we visited the Eiffel tower, and was 29 months when she said these words. I quickly pulled out our Paris pictures on my phone and showed her, and she was simply delighted as we were.
So believe me, when I say, they do remember. Maybe not everything, but somethings.
But above all, the best reason to travel with kids is to make memories to cherish for a lifetime. Don't you agree??

For Our Sanity:

Husband and I love to travel and it is that one thing that keeps us sane. Before Ishanvi we managed to travel quite a lot. Soon after Ishanvi was born, our lives changed. Everything revolved around our baby, and we really needed to do something to get back our sanity.

Parenthood involves a lot of sacrifices. But travel doesn't have to be that sacrifice. Yes, our travels are different now, heavier luggage, months of planning, extra stops, breaks, and what not. But you don't have to entirely sacrifice on travels just because you had kids.

To sum this up, I would like to say that travel with kids is never easy. Its challenging, messy and too much work. But its totally worth every bit of it.

Don't expect perfection when you travel with your kids. There will be a few hiccups, but believe me these hiccups will make for very good stories to laugh at in the future.
So wait no longer and take those trips. It will be tiring yet so fulfilling.

Saturday 6 June 2020

Quarantine Thoughts

As a kid my mom used to narrate stories of the Indo-ChinaWar. She was born and brought up in Parel, Mumbai and she would narrate how different life was back then.
How their window glasses were painted black, how they would run and hide under beds whenever the war siren went off and so on. While all these stories seemed overwhelming, it felt adventurous too. I always wondered if I will ever have stories like these to narrate to my kids and grand kids.
Fast forward to 2020, and we are hit by Corona. A war of a new kind.
And while I am grateful that life hasn't been too bad, working from home and doing all the household work on our own., these past few months have been full of revelations.
So, here's a list of my quarantine thoughts. Some random, some not so random.
  • I enjoy cooking more than I thought. I am surprised by the versatility of Rawa. You can make cake, dosa, idli, dhokla, gulab jamun and so much more from it than the usual upma, sheera and kheer.
  • I never thought being a homebody would prove beneficial to me someday. I am not missing going out at all. What I am missing though is my house help. :(
  • I am surprised I can do all the cooking, cleaning, entertaining a toddler and work from home too. It's surprising I actually find time to blog too.
  • Mango isn't the king of's the king of hearts.
  • No time is a myth...we can make time for anything and everything we want.
  • Nothing's urgent. Everything can wait.
  • We need very less to survive.
  • Make the most of today...because that's what we have.
  •  Do things that make you happy. And start ticking things of your bucket list asap.
  • Mental health is as important as physical health.
  • Take care of the earth. We have just one planet.
  • Support local. It's high time we do it.


P.S. This saree is more than a decade old, from my personal collection and bought from my personal earnings. I am happy I own a few pieces in my collection, which are timeless and classic. Like this pure silk Kantha embroidery saree. :)


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