Baked Pears: A Healthy Dessert

Baked Pears recipe by

January is over and that diet Puja and I were on is finally over. It was a tough 30 days, but we are pretty happy with our results. I lost nearly 15 pounds last month.

I’m not going to say we ate perfectly every day, but we did stick to it pretty close to 100%, eating almost entirely a fruit and vegetable diet, eggs, zero bread and healthy oils, no processed foods. So of course we pigged out on Super Bowl Sunday! (more…)

Indian Spiced Roasted Sweet Potatoes to Welcome in 2015

Indian spiced roasted sweet potatoes with ghee
Happy New Year everyone!

What are your designs for 2015? Puja and I are jumping into the weight loss thing. It seems like every year we gain a few more pounds over the previous year, lose it, then over the course of the year gain it back with a couple of extra pounds to boot.

We have finally become motivated to do something about it (again). This time we are (loosely) basing our diet on the whole30 diet, but with a lot of our own personalizations. Over the years, the diet that has always worked best for me can sound a little extreme. But I find it really easy to follow because I get to eat a lot, whenever I’m hungry. Why? Because no matter how many vegetables you eat, you will get full before you consume too many calories. But that’s an oversimplification. I eat a lot of fruits and nuts too. Eating constantly (and avoiding sugar) staves of hunger and cravings.

Urban Animals of India

A woman and some street dogs in Sanjay Gandhi National Park

“What has been your favorite part of India so far?” a friend of Puja’s asked me over dinner at an Italian restaurant in Mumbai.

An innocent question, but essentially unanswerable. We had been in Mumbai nearly a week and crammed so much into each day. A million things came to mind, Elephanta Caves, or riding the rickshaws, or “seeing where Puja grew up,” but I didn’t answer any of these. I barely hesitated. “The animals,” I said. I knew it wasn’t the sort of response she was looking for. And I had tried to think of something better but stopped myself. I’m the same guy who only days earlier had told a Bollywood radio program host that no, I don’t really like Bollywood music. Sorry. She had asked. (more…)

Walnut Bars (Burfi) for Diwali

Gluten-free Walnut Bars (Walnut Burfi)

Happy Diwali!

Today is one of India’s most celebrated and well-known holidays, Diwali – The Festival of Lights. Diwali goes on for five days. It is a celebration of the triumph of Light over Dark, Good over Evil. On the lunar calendar, it begins on the day of the new moon, when the waning moon begins to wax– when the light side reappears. (more…)

The Hundred Foot Journey (Movie Review)

The Hundred Foot Journey

The Hundred Foot Journey captures the rise of Indian influence in the world’s culture. When an Indian family opens a restaurant across the street from her Michelin-starred restaurant in a village in France, Madam Mallory (Helen Mirren) disdainfully dismisses the food of these invaders– it’s much too spicy, she says. (more…)

The River (1951) Film Review

The River (1951) film poster

“The River” is a weird film. It’s weird for a lot of reasons. It was made in 1951, when experimental films were less familiar. It was made outside of the studio system because the film’s director, Jean Renoir, had fallen out of fashion and couldn’t make the film the way he wanted. For example, he was unable to cast legendary actor Marlon Brando as Captain John, and cast Thomas Breen in his place. Thomas Breen was not a professional actor, but he did have the advantage of having a wooden leg, just like his character.

Fire (1996 film)

Fire Movie Poster

Fire was the first Indian movie Puja ever showed me. It was her way of introducing me to some of India’s cultural issues that mean so much to her. (more…)

Kahaani (2008)

Kahaani Movie Poster

Kahaani is a pretty solid mystery thriller. It starts with a chemical terrorist attack that kills all the passengers on a particular train car. Then we cut forward two years and a pregnant woman is searching for her husband who has gone missing in Kolkata (Calcutta).

The Dirty Picture

The Dirty Picture Movie Poster

“Is she vamp or victim?” the gossip columnists Nayla asks, “which should I label her?”

The Dirty Picture is based on the true story of South Indian softcore actress, Silk Smitha, who attained great popularity in the 1980s. She succeeds in the film industry by being neither fully in control nor fully controlled by the system. She is neither calculating, nor victim to the image created around her. She is being led by no one and succeeds in spite of the industry big wigs.

Rabindranath Tagore (1961), A Documentary on a Great Literary Figure

Rabindranath Tagore

Whenever I learn about Indian history, I am always surprised by the long history of interconnectedness between India and the West. Well before America was a country, India was influencing Europe and Asia in ways that would eventually make it here.

This tradition continued in the life of Rabindranath Tagore. He was born in Calcutta (Kolkata) in 1861, during the time of the American Civil War, and died in 1941 during the second World War. This movie didn’t go into what impact the American Civil War might have had on his life, but as I learned when I went to visit the Star of India, this was a huge growth period of trade for India, as Europe could no longer reliably expect supplies from America. Tagore’s grandfather amassed great wealth with investments in coal, indigo, silk and sugar, and he established the Union Bank in Calcutta. The world’s great wars, on the other hand, would deeply affect Rabindranath Tagore. (more…)

Bhel Puri Recipe, A Menagerie of Flavor and Texture

Bhel Puri recipe by
Bhel puri is another fun Indian snack food from Gujarat. It is a fun treat made from a balance of sweet, tart, salty and spicy, a common combination in Gujarati food. Gujaratis love to add sugar to savory foods. The other brilliant thing about bhel is the texture. It has just the right combination of softness with crunchiness, of dry with wet. (more…)

Junglee – Hindi Movie Classic

Junglee movie poster

Who is junglee (uncultured, wild)? Is it the mannered, wealthy people who live lives according to the rules of society, who suppress all joy and happiness in exchange for great riches. Or those of less wealth, who are less restricted by society, who are capable of experiencing joy, happiness and love?

Junglee means ill-mannered or wild. The english word “jungle” is a cognate given to us by the Hindi (and Sanskrit) word, jangal (pronounced the same as jungle). In hindi, it jangal just means forest. (more…)