Sunday, December 16, 2012

Healthy snacking - Ragi (finger millet) Laddu

My baby girl is now 10 months old. Its about time I started seriously thinking about shedding the extra kilos and the layers of blubber that pregnancy left me with. I have never gone gymming or tried exercise. The most I will do willingly is go on a walk for maybe an hour or so.  I've almost completely stopped ordering junk food for meals and gulping down aerated drinks without a second thought. Its been ages since I deep fried anything at home or ate any deep fried stuff bought thoughtlessly. I've replicated my favorite junk food recipes at home so that even if I do eat burgers, pizza or kachoris, its all home made. MUCH better and healthier than ordered stuff. So mayonnaise and cheese spread gets replaced with home made low fat, protein rich hummus. Soups made at home so I need not worry about MSG or high sodium content. I have 32 sweet teeth and that does not help my cause. WHAT do I do about the damn sweet tooth teeth ?! I find better alternatives for chocolates and traditional calorie laden sweets of course!

So here I present...drum roll please.. RAGI LADDUS. An extremely nutritious, filling sweet that you wont feel guilty eating. Goes without saying that you should not wolf down a dozen, that would just defeat the purpose. Never mind what I did with my trial batch..

Ragi / Finger millet is a rich source of Calcium, Iron, Protein, Fiber, Calcium and other minerals. The cereal has low fat content and contains mainly unsaturated fat. Finger Millet contains amino acids which help in bringing down cholesterol level and controlling blood sugar level. 

I used jaggery instead of sugar as it is a healthier option. Sesame seeds and peanuts helped me avoid the use of ghee completely. Its good to know something that tastes so good is also nutritious. But surely you don't need to know all this after the first bite..You'll only want to eat more.

Here is a list of all the goodness that goes into it:

Ragi/Nachani flour - 1 cup
Grated Jaggery - 1/2 cup
Dessicated Coconut/ Coconut powder - 1/4 cup
Peanuts, roasted - 1/2 cup
Sesame seeds, roasted - 2 tbsps
Elaichi/Cardamom powder - 1 tsp
Milk (optional) - few spoons


Dry roast the Ragi flour until it smells roasted. Be careful to stir constantly, yeah, work those biceps, because  the flour burns quickly. To the roasted flour add roasted peanuts, sesame seeds and coconut powder. Heat the mixture so that the coconut powder gets slightly brown. Now grind this mixture into a fine powder. Spread it on a plate. Add elaichi/cardamom powder to the mixture. Add grated jaggery to this mixture and work it into a crumbly texture. Be careful if the mixture is hot as the jaggery becomes sticky and hot when added to the hot flour mixture.

Ragi laddus shaped without milk
Now there are two ways I rolled out the laddus, just to know which method I will use in future. For the first method, I rolled out the mixture into balls while it was hot, right after adding jaggery. I found it extremely  tricky to do without burning my hand. Also, once the laddus cooled and I bit into them they were very crumbly and messy. I couldnt bear the hot sticky mixture for long so I used a modak mould to shape it. Not much success, as you can see in the picture. Oh well. Thats how I learnt an alternate way to roll the laddus. A better method.

Ragi laddus shaped with milk
For the second method, I let the whole mixture cool and added grated jaggery. Once the jaggery is worked into the flour, I added a little milk to the mixture. Very little at a time, just enough to bind the mixture and make it a pliable texture. This slightly moist mixture was easily rolled into laddus. These are the darker, round ones in the picture. They taste better and aren't messy to eat. Adding milk may reduce their shelf life but hey, these wont lie around untouched that long anyway.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Now and then I like to let myself believe that I am completely helpless and that my life is completely at the mercy of fate. Sometimes you want to know the reason why your life is not as beautiful as you'd like it to be, why, no matter what you do, your efforts do not seem to pay off as you would like. People have their own ways of dealing with disappointment and confusion. Some seek solace in religion, some turn to astrology for answers.

A few months ago when I was at a somewhat difficult juncture in my life and couldn't decide what I should do, I consulted an astrologer. He offered some clarity on the state of things and what I may expect in the near future. As a remedial measure he advised me to chant the 'Lalitha Sahasranamam'. It was the first time I heard of it. Since then I have read a lot about it to understand it better.

Goddess Lalita is considered the embodiment of Para Shakti or the ultimate female power. Legends associated with Goddess Lalita are found in mythological texts. Devi Bhagavata, Durga Saptashati in Markandeya Purana by the sage Vyasa and Tripura Rahasya narrated by the Lord Dattatreya are some such texts. Books related to Tantra also mention the goddess. As per legends Goddess Lalita represents the Panchabhuta: fire, air, water, space and earth.

The Lalitha Sahasranamam and its significance is explained in the Brahmanda Purana, in a dialogue between Hayagriva, an (avatara) of MahaVishnu and the great sage Agastya. Explaining the greatness of this prayer, Sage Agastya told Hayagriva that chanting the name of Lord Shiva once is as good as chanting the name of Mahavishnu a thousand times. And chanting the name of Devi once is as good as chanting the name of Shiva a thousand times.

Sree Lalitha Sahasranamam is a form of prayer that anyone can chant at any time. It is said that it does not matter if one could not complete chanting it because each of the names of Goddess Lalitha in itself is powerful. Regular chanting of Shree Lalitha Sahasranamam is believed to bring blessings of beauty,  good health, wealth, intelligence, fame, goodwill & success in all endeavors.

Particular importance is given to chant the Sree Lalitha Sahasranamam on Fridays and Thursdays. These days are considered to be auspicious for the worship of  Devi.

I found a pdf of Shree Lalitha Sahasranamastotram here. Although memorising the meanings of each name in he Stotram is not compulsory, understanding the meanings by reading this will help make sense of what you are chanting. There are several videos on YouTube that could help you listen to the pronunciation and learn the Stotram. Here is one of them, for a start.

May the Divine Mother Bless us all.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The new Indian

I am a HUMAN BEING before anything else.

Then I am an INDIAN.

I don’t even feel the need to say what community I belong to or what religion I follow.

I don’t feel the need to put down any other community, religion, language, caste or creed to show the greatness of my own religion or community.

I don’t need a savior to safeguard my religious interests.

I don’t feel I am oppressed, weak, incapable of helping myself in any way. I don’t need anyone to fight my battles for me. I trust the Judicial system to provide me justice if I have truly been wronged.

I wont stand being told what to wear, what to believe, whom to vote for, how to talk and how to behave, unless I am doing something that is unacceptable in the eyes of Law.

I am tolerant of all religions. Killing or harming people in the name of religion is terrorism. No religion preaches violence.

I and my future generation no longer require the helping hand that Reservations offered when it was most needed. It has served its purpose & is now being abused. I believe in my capability. I don’t need to be given what I truly deserve. I can earn it for myself without being pitied upon for belonging to a Scheduled Caste. Nobody can earn my vote by pretending to be my savior.

The only people who need help today are the Economically backward who cannot afford basic necessities, let alone education. Poverty is the ONLY thing that the People of India need to be saved from.

My precious vote is for the one who will find a way to ensure that nobody sleeps hungry in my country. Some way to ensure that all children get a fair chance at life by providing them with an education.

My precious vote is for the one who only has as much assets as he can afford with his salary. Someone who didn’t suddenly get rich after entering politics to ‘serve the country’. Someone who has no criminal cases against him. Who dosent use religion or casteism to get people on his side. Someone who dosent need to buy my vote. Someone who can show me how my hard earned money has been used to benefit my country. Someone who wont arm-twist me into supporting him or his ideals.

Someone whom I can RESPECT willingly.

Whom should I vote for?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Diwali Sweet : Balushahi or Badusha

My kitchen is super busy a few days before Diwali. I love it when I am able to put up a plateful of different sweets and snacks, all prepared by me. At home everyone would just leave me alone for whatever duration of time I needed, knowing that they will benefit at the end of the day. After all meals were cooked, the kitchen was off limits for everyone everyday, a few days before Diwali. My mother would sometimes help me a little. But very cautiously, as I was very particular about the way I wanted things done. My way of course!

I have seen this sweet in some sweet shops.  I never gave them a second look as they looked pretty bland and uninteresting to me. Its for people like me that they add COLOR to food, you see. Well now I'm older and have, I dare say, more willingness to look beyond first impressions of everything (and everyone, lucky you!). I read a few recipes and decided to make a small trial batch. They came out quite well, flaky inside and syrup coated, slightly crunchy on the outside. DH says thats how they are supposed to be. I like to trust him when he's complimenting my cooking :-). I've never eaten store bought ones. But when a husband says he loves a particular sweetmeat what does a good wife do? Well, rush him to the store to get the ingredients of course! And here they are:

Ingredients : (For 10 small pieces)

Maida/All purpose flour 1 cups
Vanaspati Ghee/ Dalda/ Shortening 1/4 cup
Sugar 1/2 tsp
Curd  1 tsp
Cooking soda/sodium bi carbonate 2 pinches
Water 1/4 cup (approx.)
Oil for deep frying


Sugar 1/2 cup
Water Just enough to immerse the sugar
Elachi powder 2 pinches
Rose water  1 tsp optional
Lemon Juice 1 tsp


Add the Vanaspati Ghee/ Dalda/ Shortening to the flour, sugar, curd and cooking soda. Mix it well to get a crumbly texture. 

Add water by spoonfuls to make it a soft dough.

Make it to a smooth dough without any lumps.

Form around 10 small balls from the dough. These balls of dough will become bigger when they are fried, so form balls of a smaller size  you'd like your end product to be.

Its time to shape the balls of dough. You could pinch the edges and fold it inwards to make a pretty disc like you'd see in a sweet shop. Or you could be plain lazy like I became towards the end and just shape them into little donuts. Keep these shaped pieces aside for around 20 minutes before frying.

For the syrup, add sugar to a pan and add enough water to immerse it. Boil it till it is of one string consistency ,i.e; if you pour in little water,it should not dissolve and it should lay a fine thread.

Add cardamom powder (elachi) to the syrup. If desired you could add rose water at this stage.

Add the lemon juice lastly, to prevent crystallization of the sugar in the syrup.

Back to the little dough soldiers, heat the oil. To check if it is the right temperature, dip a fingertip into the hot oil. NO, silly!! Just drop a adding a pinch of  dough. If it rises immediately, then heat is just right. Carefully drop the dough pieces into the oil. Cook them on medium-low flame until they are golden brown.

Drain the excess oil and drop the fried Balushahis into the syrup while they are still hot. Leave them in the syrup for a few minutes to be coated evenly. 

Take them out of the syrup and let them cool. 

PLEASE do let them cool!! I had forgotten how agonising the pain is from burns cause by hot, sticky sugar syrup and I touched the syrup by mistake. I have a painful reminder of that absentmindedness on my finger. It was worth the effort though. I'm surely making these again soon!

Wish you a Happy and Prosperous Diwali In advance!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Prayers of a Good wife

Isha sat at the window swirling the last bit of coffee in her cup and watching it create patterns. Her dad walked into the room after a quick shower and sat beside her. They had just attended Jenny aunty’s funeral. She was Isha’s mother’s best friend. Fiesty, straight talking woman. Anand had never quite liked her and wondered why, of all the friends his wife had, she was closest to Jenny.

“Missing Mom?”, Anand asked, placing his hand on her head briefly. Isha nodded silently.
“I miss her too..its been 4 long years since she left us but I miss her everyday.” he said. There was nothing he could say to make Isha feel better anyway. “Hey, they’re probably together now, Jenny and Neeta, chatting and laughing like old times..”,  he chuckled and Isha looked at him disapprovingly. Her dad always said the weirdest things when he was trying to console someone. He took her hint and quietly picked up the cup of coffee kept for him.

“Anil called a while ago. He’s attending a seminar in Delhi. He asked me if I have decided what I want to do.” Isha looked pensive as she talked about her husband.

“Have you decided?”

“No. I still cannot see why he feels we should to relocate to Delhi just because his boss hinted there are better chances of a promotion at the Delhi branch. My clients are here in Mumbai. I have just begun to get some decent business here but of course, that isn’t important to him. Just because I don’t work full time at an office, my work isn’t important. He treats me like I am just freelancing for fun. A freelancing interior designer’s work isn’t anywhere nearly as important as a full time Chartered Accountant’s, right?”, Isha glared at her dad. He knew better than to answer that one.

“You’re going to have to decide someday, sweetheart.. “, Anand said cautiously, carefully choosing his words. He didn’t want his daughter to take it in the wrong sense and feel he was rushing her to go back to her husband soon. It had been 2 weeks since she showed up at his house all upset and crying. He had quietly listened to her as she poured he heart out to him like she had never done before. She called her husband selfish and insensitive to her feelings. He couldn’t help thinking of the day she asked if she could bring Anil to meet him. Every father secretly fears the day his little girl wants him to meet the guy who will take her away from him. She could barely contain her excitement the day she brought Anil to meet her doting dad. He remembered distinctly, she was bubbly yet shy. She interrupted Anil quite a few times while he spoke. He wanted to be polite and well mannered to impress his future Father in law while she wanted to tell her dad all she could about Anil and get his approval as soon as she could.

Today her face reflected her disappointment in Anil’s seemingly “insensitive” suggestion that they should relocate to Delhi for a better chance at getting that promotion he wanted. Although Anand could see why she was upset, he wondered if she was being just a little harsh on Anil. Truth be told, she had just got a few clients for some freelance interior designing work. It didn’t seem as bad as she thought it was, to finish those minor projects and start freelancing after settling down in Delhi. She was talented. Anand wouldn’t dare think aloud because he knew how dramatic her reaction could be. At times like these he really missed Neeta. She would have known exactly what to say to their little Drama queen.

                                                                                                   To be continued...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Law of Attraction, Hope and staying Positive

I am hopelessly in love with the concept of the Law of Attraction. As a schoolgirl with a very impressionable mind I happened to read a book called “Law of Success” by Napoleon Hill. At the time it was one of my dearest wishes  to see my name on a nameplate in front of a house of my own. My OWN. Reading the book inspired me to turn my wish into a goal and set my mind to achieving it. Almost as if on cue, I came across a story called “Glenna’s Goal book” in one of the Chicken Soup books. It cemented my belief that dreams are worth pursuing and when a wish becomes an obsession, life gets you to the place you want to be.
Almost like a divine hand gently guiding me to believe without question, I read this sentence in Paulo Coelho’s 'The Alchemist' -

 "When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."
 I don’t remember anything else about the book. But this sentence got etched in my soul. Then came The Secret. The book, the movie, the philosophy, I lapped it all up because I felt I had already seen the miracles it worked in my life. I gifted copies of the book to people I wanted to share the joy with..the joy of having discovered something that really works. I already had the house I had ardently wished for. I happily looked at the nameplate with my name on it a little longer every time I passed by it. I used affirmations religiously and whenever something positive happened, I attributed it to the Law of Attraction and the Power of Intention. I thought all goodness came from keeping a positive frame of mind and expecting good things. It all seemed perfect. Until recently.
Becoming a parent is a life changing, irreversible event. I have wanted my baby girl long before I actually had her. I remember telling my mother when I was a teenager that if at all I do marry and have a baby, I want a baby girl. When she was born, my joy knew no bounds. But the beauty of motherhood is fully enjoyable only when you have people around to help you with everything else and you just enjoy being a mother. Being a nuclear family didn’t help my cause. In between washing bucketfuls of soiled cloth nappies, lack of sleep and having to attend to other chores, moments of pure joy were few and far between. I remember crying out of exhaustion, wishing I’d  just get 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
 Just when I’d  begun to adjust to my new role as a mother, we decided it would be the best thing for our baby if I were to quit my job. My mother was a working woman. She had no choice but to go to work to provide for her children. Thanks to a supportive husband, I had a choice. I couldn’t bear the thought of staying away from my baby and miss watching her grow. I couldn’t think of leaving her with a babysitter to go to work each day with an image of her crying for me with her arms outstretched burning my soul, while I’d count hours to be back with her. So I quit my job.
Now any working woman who is good at her job will tell you, the financial independence and job satisfaction that comes from working and being good at what you do has a massive impact on self esteem. The assurance that I got from knowing my job and doing it well, the friends I had at my  workplace, the happy times I spent at work, all the new skills I gained each day, all the little fears I conquered each day and the many little challenges that I shone through..everything that made Me the person I am..all gone.
It was in these days that I tried again to reconnect with what the Law of Attraction taught me. Like attracts like. Thoughts become things. So while I coped with the challenges of getting accustomed to being a clueless first time mom and losing my identity as a financially independent, career oriented woman, I tried to apply the Law of Attraction to keep thinking positive thoughts. After a while I just gave up. It seemed like escapism to me. I could no longer replace a negative thought with a positive one. I could no longer shift my mood from unhappy to happy just by humming a tune or distracting myself by looking at something nice. Its hard to stay positive when you’re alone, listening to your baby cry for  hours and have no clue why.
The exhaustion, the worries about our future, the mood swings I had while my hormones went crazy, the unending list of chores I had to do with baby practically attached to me, the loneliness of suddenly being home alone all day with a bawling baby..all of it just sucked my energy and enthusiasm. My inability to explain to my confused better half just why I wished to simply curl up and die added to the stress. The sudden change from living a predictable, somewhat organized life to being hurled into this whole new world of being a mother, then being a full time homemaker was an emotional roller coaster.
I couldn’t see HOW I could use an affirmation like “I am a joyful person” without feeling foolish. I couldn’t add any more pictures to my scrapbook, of things I hoped to have one day. It made me feel like an idiot. When I was earning, it made more sense to hope to have that nice modular kitchen someday and paste a picture of a beautiful holiday destination. I knew it would be within reach. It all seemed like I was asking for too much now.
Yesterday I picked up The Secret again. I wanted to know if I still had a shred of belief in me that the Law of Attraction may work for me again.
The page I opened read  You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step” -  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  A little hope glimmered in my heart.
I remembered a quote I read somewhere -  "When the world says, "Give up,"
Hope whispers, "Try it one more time."

Maybe it isn't time to throw away that scrapbook yet.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Veg Cheesy Pasta

Quick and Easy meal – Veg Cheesy Pasta

Anything with Cheese in it is good in my book. In my attempt to replicate the recipes of all my favorite junk foods in my own kitchen, I tried to make the kind of pasta we shell out good money for, at Pizza Hut or Dominos. Was the end result as good as their stuff? You decide! All I can say is, it was all gone soon after I served it and the dear husband says he thinks about eating this when he is at work. Now that is a good enough compliment for me!

It’s a bonus when something that tastes as good as this is quick and easy to cook, AND is quite healthy too. This pasta dish keeps me fuller for longer because of its high carbohydrate content. The milk and cheese in the recipie are good sources of protein and calcium while the other ingredients supplement this recipe with iron, folic acid, fibre and vitamin C. Besides, it is SO easy to put together.

Heres What you’ll need :-

2 cups pasta (I used fusilli)

2 tsp Olive oil

Enough water to cook pasta
onion, sliced
1/2 cup capsicum, sliced

½ cup carrots, sliced
½ cup sliced mushrooms, optional
1 cup green peas, frozen or fresh
1 cup milk (Skimmed milk works too)
cheese cubes ( you could use cheese slices if that’s what you have at hand)
2 Maggi Magic cubes or 1 cup vegetable stock
1 tsp refined flour/maida (corn flour works too, if you dissolve it in some milk and use it as instructed below)
1 tsp Oregano -  This is where those little Oregano packets that I get with Pizza
 came handy
1 tsp butter
salt and black pepper powder to taste

Method :-

1.      Bring the water to a boil and add around 2 tsps of salt. Add the pasta and let it cook. I am not in favor of adding a little olive oil to the boiling water as many recipies would suggest. Pasta seemed to take on flavors better when I didn’t add oil while cooking it.

2.      You can taste the pasta to know if its done. It should be firm without a hint of rawness. This took around 15 minutes.

3.      While the pasta is cooking, you could prep the vegetables. Begin by heating 1 tsp of olive oil and sauté the onions in it till they lose the raw smell. When the onions are soft and transluscent, add the carrots and capsicum. You need these to remain crisp, so don’t cook them too much. Any other vegetables like corn, spinach can be added. Just ensure that they aren’t overcooked.

4.      Add powdered Maggi Magic cubes. If you have vegetable stock, you could use it. Maggi Magic cubes are just stock cubes.They are salty, so do taste the dish before you season it with salt.

5.      Add the milk and cheese slices/ finely chopped cheese cubes and bring to a boil. When that’s boiling, make a runny paste of 1 tsp of refined flour and water or milk. This mixture needs to be without lumps. Add this to the boiling milk and vegetables. Stir while adding so that lumps aren’t formed. 

Alternatively, you could heat a tsp of butter and add the refined flour to it. Cook it till it loses the raw smell. This is done on low heat so that the refined flour dosent burn.

6.      I have tried both, the butter-refined flour mix and the milk-refined flour mix. Flavor wise, it didn’t really make that much of a difference.
It gives the whole white sauce a thickness good enough to coat the pasta well.

7.       By now the pasta would be cooked so drain it. Add the cooked pasta in the sauce and bring to a boil. Toss the pasta well so that all of it is coated in the sauce.

  If you're not too fussy, you could top it up with some more grated cheese. Hey, you only live once!

(Note: If the pasta thickens before serving you could add a little warm milk to it.)

Gobble up!

Donuts!! Glorious DONUTS!!

I absolutely LOVE donuts. Who can resist donuts?!! And WHY would you deprive yourself of such a yummy thing? Its like biting into a soft cloud of light sweetness. With or without frosting, I could gobble them with my eyes shut even if you wake me up at 3 am. I cant rush to Mad Over Donuts whenever I feel like it. I’d shamelessly eat into my retirement savings if I were to give in to every craving like that. So whats the next best thing ? HOME MADE DONUTS, of course!
As with every dish I decide to try, I read and read and read recipies until I found the PERFECT one for me. EGGLESS. I saw a couple of recipies for Baked Donuts too..but hey, Deep fried is what I dig. Ya dig? (Sorry! Blame the sugar rush…)

Please excuse the picture quality. Either that, or gift me a nicer phone with a better camera. I cannot waste the calories I blissfully gained from these donuts on fetching the digicam, taking pics, then uploading them. Naah. I'm sorry about the weird shapes too..I just couldnt waste any of that awesome doughnut mixture! But the recipie, I promise you, is perfect. Guess what the secret ingredient is? POTATO!! YES, one mashed boiled potato gives these donuts the smooth texture you’ll love. If you haven’t worked with yeast before it could be a pain in the business end to proof the yeast..fancy way of saying that the yeast wont do what its supposed to do if you don’t treat it right. It may take a few attempts to get it right, so browse a few nice pictures of donuts to get yourself motivated to keep going..
Heres what you’ll need :-
1 1/3 cups warm milk,
1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 boiled potato, mashed smooth without lumps
5 cups all-purpose flour or maida
A pinch or two of nutmeg (jaiphal), freshly grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar, powdered works better
1 tablespoon cinnamon powder

Place 1/3 cup of the warm milk in a bowl. Stir in the yeast and set aside for five minutes or so. Be sure your milk isn't too hot or it will kill the yeast. Keep this bowl aside in a warm place. I placed it in an oven that was off but still warm from being used a few minutes previously.
Once the yeast-milk mixture becomes frothy, stir it alongwith the butter and sugar into the remaining cup of warm milk. With a fork, stir in flour, mashed potato, nutmeg, and salt. Knead the mixture. You want the dough to pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl and eventually become supple and smooth. Add milk or flour as required to get this non sticky, soft consistency. Turn it out onto a floured counter-top, knead a few times and shape into a ball.
Transfer the dough to a buttered or oiled bowl, cover it with a cloth and put in a warm place. Let it rise for an hour or until the dough has roughly doubled in size.
Punch down the dough and roll it out 1/2-inch thick on your floured countertop. I used a drinking glass to stamp out circles. Stamp out the smaller inner circles using a smaller cutter. I used the handle of a spoon used in my mixer ginder. Don’t throw away the precious bits! They can be fried just like the rest of the donuts.Cover the donuts with a clean cloth and let rise for another 45 minutes.
If you are the calorie counting type, you could bake these at 170 C for around 10 minutes and get out of my face..I tried and preferred the deep fried ones instantly. Make sure that the oil isn’t too hot. You could test it by dropping a little ball of dough into the oil. It should come up to the surface fairly quickly.
Drain excess oil and while the donuts are fairly hot, dust on powdered sugar mixed with cinnamon powder or plain powdered sugar.
I couldn’t wait to eat them as soon as I could bite into them, so the cream cheese frosting never happened. If you search for frosting recipies, you’ll find many. I just loved them as they were. 
Makes 1 1/2 dozen lovely donuts.

Kubera Kolam

I recently read about “Kuber kolam”, which is a kind of floor painting or rangoli done to please Lord Kuber.

Kuber is regarded as the god of wealth in Hindu mythology. Lord Kubera is also known as the God of yakshas (savage beings). Kubera is always remembered with the goddess of 
fortune, Lakshmi. Lakshmi Kuber pooja is done on Diwali for prosperity.

It is believed that Chanting the Kuber Mantra blesses the worshipper with money and prosperity by drawing new avenues and sources of income and wealth. Mantra of Kubera helps to increase the flow of funds and the ability to accumulate wealth. It is said that One who worships lord Kubera and Goddess Lakshmi, can never fall short of money and material comforts. Auspicious dates to worship Lord Kubera is between Oct 15th to Nov 15th each year. Tuesdays and Fridays are the most auspicious days to draw the Kuber Kolam and worship Lord Kuber.
I managed to get myself an idol of him from e bay some days after I drew the Kolam. He looks quite like your friendly Laughing Buddha with his pot belly. His face has quite a stern look though, as I would imagine anyone guarding massive wealth would have on their face. (I hope I’m not offending him! God knows I cant afford to!)

Kuber Kolam

Kuber Yantra

 I read several articles and decided I should try drawing the Kolam myself. So on a Friday alongwith my regular little prayer ritual I drew the Kolam with rice flour. I wrote the numbers as required and placed a coin in each square. The value of the coin  should face the number in the square. I applied kumkum on each coin and placed some flower petals on each coin. Ideally red flowers should be used but I didn’t have any on hand. Then after lighting the lamp and burning incense, I prayed that I may be forgiven if I have not done everything as it should be done. I expressed gratitude for everything, all the goodness my life already offers and then chanted the a Mantra 11 times.
Om Shreem Om Hreem Shreem Hreem Kleem Shreem Kleem Vitteswaraay Namah"
Meanings: Shreem for Lakshmi (love, beauty, health, prosperity), Hreem for Great Goddess/Sun (illumination/dispel illusion), kleem for Kama/Krishna (love and fulfiller of desires from material to moksha, where your intention is) and Vitteswaraay (Kubera) Lord Kuber, the lord of riches and wealth.

Once the this is done, the coins can be kept safe for the next time it is to be used.
For the longest time I had stopped lighting the lamp and spending some time in prayer. I grew up watching my mother remembering God in her casual conversations but never lighting the lamp at the altar at home so I guess I followed the same. Its only recently in a desperate attempt to be free of the worries that were getting to me, that I cleaned the dusty little temple and all the idols in it. I lit the lamp, prayed for a while and felt a sense of peace descend upon me.
To each his own, I say. Sometimes instead of questioning why as a Hindu I have a multitude of Gods I can pray to, I just like to surrender thoughtlessly. I find peace in some rituals.

No matter which religion you follow, what rituals you do, FAITH is all that matters.