Home made Goatmilk Lavender Soap


Hello Dearies!!! I am like most crafty girls. Anything new I see my friends doing, I Need to know how and what they did. Creating with my hands de-stresses me like no spa can. I mean I like pampering and all that comes along with it, a sap day out, with friends and then chit chat with snacks is my dream day. But with busy jobs and hectic life, such things are a dream for few of us. I saw my friend N do these soaps. I simply awed at her skills, the bar of soap never looked so pure and unique. A weekend trip to Amish Village in PA, USA also added insult to injury when I saw the homemade soaps they were selling for $3 each. The stuff used for flavoring and scent were our daily spices and oils. There were clove oil soaps along with some peppermint soaps. I have few of these oils in my pantry for various reasons like some old medicinal uses. Indian homes believe strongly in home remedies. Clove oil is recommended for toothache and eucalyptus oil for cold and sinus.
The wonderful world of soap looked too good to miss out. So I visited my local arts and crafts supply store. With my 40% weekly store coupon, I came back with the goat milk base and the mold. I had few essential oils and olive oil at home. My SIL had gifted me the aromatherapy oil set with the guide book, and the bottles.

I am all set. The wonder never ceases as I can mix and change according to my mood and fancy. Its as easy as 1-2 -3. Video link for melt and pour.
1- Melt
2- Add and stir
3. Pour and set in molds.

This batch I made is of lavender oil and cedarwood oil. Next batch is likely to be with lavender oil and Shea butter along with some sesame oil. Wish me luck and join me in this wonderful world of home made soap. The options and combinations are endless. If I get good feedback from the free samples I am giving away;  I can even do a small giveaway around Diwali time. So stick around to enjoy a piece of my craft.


Shev Batata Puri

Hello dearies, So are you ready with the 2 chutneys that we made earlier. Great, now we are set to make the shev batata poori and the en-number of tasty chaats and mouth watering treats by mixing and changing few ingredients. We will make bhel, pani poori and even dahi ragda poori in the coming posts. so now lets get started. A quick recap of the 2 star chutneys before we get to making shev batat poori.

Green Chutney- Mint chutney

You will need;
2-cups of fresh washed cilantro leaves
1 cup Fresh Mint leaves
2-3 green chilies
2 tspn jeera/cumin seeds
Salt to taste
1 Tbspn Lime Juice
2 Tbspn oil
water as needed for grinding into a thick paste

In a grinder/food processor take all of the above cilantro, chili, cumin, lime juice and salt and take little water enough to grind it into a thick paste, grind it and when storing add the oil and mix well. The oil along with the lime juice prevents the cilantro from turning black and increases the shelf life. Store in a refrigerator, it would stay good for about 7-10 days.

Dates-Tamarind Chutney-Mithi/Sweet chutney

You will need;
1 cup dates soaked in 1/2 cup water
2tbspn tamarind Concnetrate-Tamicon
1 cup water
1/2 cup jaggery or 3 tbspn Brown Sugar
1 tbspn Roasted Cumin powder
1 tspn Cayenne pepper powder
Salt to taste

Grind the soaked dates and the tamarind pulp together to get a nice smooth mixture. Take this mixture mixed with 1 cup water in a deep saucepan, and heat over medium, to this add the jaggery, the cumin powder and the cayenne powder and salt, Keep Stirring till the mixture gets coked and sticky and starts to gather and froth near the spoon. The Chutney is ready. Switch off the stove and cool down. Once cool, fill in the sterile glass jar and store in a refrigerator.

To Assemble the sev puri's,
You will need;
 Boiled poato, mashed
onion finely chopped
green chutney
Date Chutney
Fine Shev
Lightly cooked Moong Sprouts
Chat Masala to sprinkle
Store Brought poori';s

In a plate arrange the store brought poori. Break the poori to make a small opening. add in the boiled potato mash, lightly boiled moong sprouts, onion and the 2 chutneys. sprinkle the fine shev over the pooris along with   little chat masala. Enjoy the Shev batta poori anytime of the day or the night or even for breakfast.



Date-Tamarind Chutney- Khajoor chi ambat goad chutney-Brown chutney for Chaats.

Hello Dearies!!! Now that we are in the middle of the summer months, I am back with a series of chaat basics. Indian women and chat ( spelt  as Chaa-aat) have a deep and strong bond. They need no pregnancy hormones to enjoy a plate of gol gappas/pani poori or bhel or dahi sev poori, although most pregnant girls seem to enjoy these tangy and spicy treats all the time. They need no excuse and no time-sense in that. Ask any girl her wildest food fantasy, she will be saying having pani poori at 2 am. I am not sure as to why eating chaats is a girlie girl thing; I have seen most boys jump and run for the chats as well. Yet its a thing they say like crying, only women folk do. I am going to post  a series of must haves to make chat at home, be it dahi wade, sev poori or behl puri or any chaat, you need to have the  Chutneys ready.

 One is the basic green chutney and other is date and tamarind chutney or Khajoor chi chutney. If I have these 2 chutneys in my fridge, any time of the day or night can be turned into a chaat night. My Mom loves and loved chat. It is our mom and mi thing, to enjoy bhel at the famous Chaya Bhelpoori store in Goregaon. It was a really small store where he sold peanuts, and all bhel related items, he regularly roasted dals and penuts for us over sand. and we enjoyed the bhel later. Now My mom tells me, it is no longer a small shanty it used to be, His son took over the business and everything has changed from then. Everything including the peanuts are still roasted in sand but prepackaged for convenience. Oh How badly will I miss the smell of sand and roasted peanuts and how will I introduce my kids to these simple pleasures, beats me. But no worries, I can still keep them interested in sinful delights from back home. Living in NJ has eased that so much for us, that we are spoilt for choice for all things Indian. We get things unimaginable from north south east and west of India. So if you are not so lucky to get them ready made, I am sharing with you my moms recipe for this chutney. Now you have no reasons to not make any chats at home, do you? Good then, lets begin.

You will need;
1 cup dates soaked in 1/2 cup water
1 tbspn tamarind Concentrate-Tamicon--
**The Portion of Tamicon would depend on how sweet the dates are and how tangy you would like the chutney to be
1 cup water
1/2 cup jaggery + 3 tbspn Brown Sugar
1 tbspn Roasted Cumin powder
1 tspn Cayenne pepper powder
Salt to taste

Grind the soaked dates and the tamarind pulp together to get a nice smooth mixture. Take this mixture mixed with 1 cup water in  a deep saucepan, and heat over medium, to this add the jaggery, the cumin powder and the cayenne powder and salt, Keep Stirring till the mixture gets coked and sticky and starts to gather and froth near the spoon. The Chutney is ready. Switch off the stove and  cool down. Once cool, fill in the sterile glass jar and store in a refrigerator. I always have this and the green chutney ready to enjoy chats in no time at all.



White Cholate Fondant-- Modelling White Chocolate.

Hello Sweetpeas!!! Since many of you wanted to learn the white chocolate fondant, I am sharing with you my trusted recipe. I am keeping this post short and sweet and only giving you the source. Enjoyy and do make some great cakes, It is a no  brain work, really. The art pieces are truly delicious and easy to create. Its like going back to childhood and recreating magic with edible play dough.

Recipe Source

I am simply Copying the whole thing. I followed it to the T, and the results were great.


    • 14 ounces white chocolate
    • 1/3 cup light corn syrup ( Karo)


  1. Melt white chocolate in a double boiler.
  2. Transfer white chocolate to a bowl and stir in syrup.
  3. It will look like the syrup is separating from the mix, but cover it with saran wrap and let sit 24 hours.
  4. After 24 hrs, it will be hard, but knead until smooth. You can put it briefly in the microwave to make it easier to get out of the bowl. Sometimes lumps have formed, but if you keep kneading you can get these out. Knead a small portion at a time if it's more manageable. If it gets too soft, refrigerate briefly. Do not over work mixture as it becomes oily.
  5. Using a rolling pin, roll out to approximately 1/8 inch thickness onto a Roll & Cut Mat (or nonstick paper like wax paper) using powdered sugar or cornstarch to prevent sticking.
  6. To Tint: Add Wilton gel color to fondant and knead in color until well blended.
  7. To Store: Wrap with saran wrap and place in a sealed bag or container and store in the refrigerator or at room temperature until ready for use.
  8. Note: Preparation time does not include the 24 hour hold.



Cream of Broccolli and Sweet Potato soup-- or Cream of Brocsweepo soup.

Hello Dearies, how have you been? I know I am kind of gone now and appearing the next minute. But I am trying to be regular here, I am really trying. Summers are very hectic for most of us. We go out during the day and by dinner time, we are super tired to do any cooking of any sort. But you all will agree with me that the outing to any amusement park, water park and such places costs a bomb for a family of four, so to make up for the costs, I try to cook something before we leave in the morning and at diner time, whats left is just heating it or adding a sandwich or salad or raita. On many occasions, I have roasted rava with veggies for a quick upma, similarly roasted rice with veggies for  a quick pulav or khiachadi and all time favorite is doing these soups. I simply pressure cook few veggies with onion and garlic clove and blend it and freeze it in small batches. When I leave the house, I kind of keep the soup boxes on the counter top, so by evening it comes down to the room temperature, making cooking dinner a breeze after a long tiring day. I had got this idea when I did make my kids food when they were babies. Both refused eating Gerber veggies. With both in daycare, preparing food daily for them at every meal was not an option for me. What  a poor mom to do...quitting my job was not an option for me, so I found this way out, I made and pureed all veggies in small batches every Sunday and filled it in boxes for the week. I guess after you become a MOM you kind of start thinking like  a mom. you find ways to wiggle, trick and treat your kids to healthy meal options. MY younger Munchkin still claims he dislikes Broccoli and my elder one can live on it alone. So to make things easy for me, I make this soup and simply give it a different name for my kids. My elder son is smart and knows the veggies, but for my younger one, we kind of play the game. My Younger son calls it cream of brocsweepo soup. Any name you may give it, this soup is a hands down winner. Even Mr. Ash commented that it did taste like a high end restaurant kind of soup. When he says that, it is a Huge compliment in itself.

You will need;
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 medium Sweet Potato, peeled and cubed
2 cups fresh broccoli, including stems, chopped
2 cups low-sodium, fat-free vegetable broth--I used water, so needed to add salt
1 tbspn Lemon pepper spice powder- Optional, but highly recommended
1/3 cup Heavy cream--(Use Milk if cream makes you fat)

Heat oil on medium heat in a soup pot. Gently saute onion and celery for 3-4 minutes, until onion is softened. Add sweet potato and chopped broccoli, followed by the broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Alternatively pressure cook for 1-2 whistles till it gets coked.  If using water adjust salt to taste. Allow soup to cool slightly, then transfer to a blender in 2-3 batches, and blend until smooth. Return soup to pot and heat gently with the cream and the lemon pepper spice powder, until ready to serve. Serve with a sandwich or herbed croutons.

Enjoy the summer with your kids as they will have only these memories to grow up with.



Progressed?? Really? Sincere letter to fellow Indians

Hello Fellow Indians,
How are you all doing? It's been 10 long years that I left my homeland to pursue the dream that I along with my husband saw for a better life, enriched life and quality family time when we set up our temporary home in USA. Temporary coz we still had and have our roots strong back home in India. We came here with a plan of staying for few years, saving enough for  a comfortable life back home, to pursue our passions, do what we might want to and give our kids  a financial stability. Is it such a big deal/wish that you all taunted us, laughed at us, mocked us and made fun of us that each time we returned to USA our new home, with a feeling of loneliness, emptiness and a feeling of abandonment within our hearts. With each trip, our love and hope for our dream kind of died  a slow death. We read about how great life was back home, how people had found new rays of financial freedom, and how return to India was fast flourishing, professionals who had returned were making a huge deal of how great their life had become, their wives were raving about how they lived king size and did no work as they had  a fleet of maids and etc etc.Ideally they were living our dream. Part of us thought of dropping all we had here and going back, to our glorious careers and  giving up the dogs life working for someone 9-5 Monday to Friday.  The progress in the newspapers and revenue figures were doing the talk that India the new age formula for success was what all about. The issues of political instability, terror attacks and the day to day corruption to get smallest work done did not make any space in our mind, Common Man making rally's Anna Hazare's Lok Pal bill agenda were showing promises, The RTI/Right to Information started making sense to us. We kept trying to strike a balance between our Indian roots and American lifestyle, trying to make our kids more Indian than kids in India. Regular rounds of Hindi School, shloka classes, Indian dance forms were kept alive in our hearts and homes.

But then instances that happened tore our conscious and made us question , is this the India that we left behind? is this the same set of people who throw their old parents and fight with siblings over petty property maters? is it the same India where class and caste discrimination had gone leaps and bounds? where neighborhood love and watch has lost its identity in the huge high rise towers? IS this new age Indian really progressed? Has the Indian mindset really Progressed? Female Infanticide is still existent in great numbers even in Metro cities, Girls are not safe from eve-teasing, Women of all shapes and sizes are also not spared from un-needful touching, being in public places stirs a caution in the mind of a girl's father, Girls are still Girls in this progressive India....News flashes that I saw on TV last few days and then the entire weekend about the poor girl who dared t o live her dream and do what she liked, faced the consequences of dreaming the dream in Progressed India?

TO think about it, there were about 30 guys who abused her and the media and the cameraman with his crew simply took coverage and publicized the NEWS. The entire neighborhood watched and gasped, not one lady/women came to her rescue, there would have been a minimum of 100 women in that neighborhood, each having at least 2 hands and 5 sets of slippers at their disposal, but they were too lame to come ahead jointly and save the poor girl from the beasts, these citizens of progressed India have no right to be called Humans as their deeds are no less than the beasts, The Concept of "To each his own" is shining in the new progressing India, what my father goes, mere baap ka kya jaata hain, uska hain woh hi dekhe, is so prominent that it scares us to return home. The guys were no doubt at fault, but they just raped her body, the media and the people who watched the whole tamasha raped her mind and conscious as well. Who is at fault, the perpetrators who committed the crimes, the girl or the media who publicized the matter by showing the clips again and again to keep the fire burning?

Hence, I am writing to you all;
1. who mocked us and made fun of us apparently to hide your jealousy and lack of ability to have worked hard to achieve and try live your life;
2. who call themselves proud Indian, but do nothing to make India proud of you;
3. who say what can a Common Man do, after all he is too common;
4. who forget India's Independence day but start planning for Valentine's day a month ahead;
5. who forget to give is to get;
and lastly to all Indians who have forgotten the values of Humanity and Humbleness, who line up from 4AM on the stairs of the temple to worship the goddess, but treat their wives, and women folk like a piece of dirt;

Kindly make an effort today, to rejoin the lost human emotions that made us different than the animals around us, IT was god's wish that we be Humans and not the animals, he blessed us with the gift of brain to think and language to use it wisely. Cannot bear to see the Cherished heritage of Glorified India going to the dogs.

Yours Truly;
 An (NRI) Non Resident or Not Required (is for you to decide)Indian



Herbed Croutons

Hello dearies... how is the summer heat and sun treating you all. Our summer has been the usual kind so far, weekends getting busier than the regular weekdays. June was a birthday month where I had been to a minimum of 3 birthdays so far...June is again special for me as My birthday and wedding anniversary is also in this month.

I am trying to get my kids in the kitchen to learn the basics of food and getting used to the idea that even if something fails, it need not see the garbage can, you can still try to save it and make something new from it. Since my idea of making home made pav/rools failed and flopped big time, I had a full batch of rolls/pav on hand which had baked well and tasted even better, but the whole softness and  the melt in your mouth was missing. I followed the recipe to the T, yet it sank my ship. so out of that disaster, these croutons were born. Here in Ashland , we enjoy croutons like  a snack, topped with melted cheese, on salads, or in soups. The recipe as such is very simple, either use store brought bread slices, stale or day old bread works better than soft fresh ones. I made these croutons with  my failed recipe of whole wheat pav/rolls.
You will need;
any amount of leftover bread, diced into big cubes
oil enough to coat them
Herbs like black pepper, rosemary, sage and Salt to taste

** YAY!!. the herbs are from my kitchen garden.

***You can  use the garlic rolls, instead of the bread.

I went ahead with simple, dicing the bread, coating with oil, salt and herbs. Spread it on a cookie sheet. Crank the oven to a good 400 degree F, and roast the croutons. Watch them like a hawk as they burn so easily. Turn off the oven just when they change color to a pale brown( I used wheat flour for my bread). IF using any white bread, turn off when it starts getting toasted. Let it stay in the oven for 2-3 mins more and then remove and cool on a wire rack. Once cooled enjoy them in salads, or soups. or if are like us, snack on them.



Baingan Bharta-Vangyache Bharit-Eggplant Mush

Hello hello hello!!! I am back from a small vacation to the beach. After many years of running away and finding excuses to not get in the water, I finally had to give in. We are a bunch of super excited friends, who make such plans like renting condos on the beach or camping in truly American style, Although I am not so sure of how I do qualify in the excited group, as I get tired watching other person run, jog or even throw a pitch. I am a set of laziest bones I have come across. I mean why stress with packing unpacking cleaning the sand off the clothes and toys, when you can just relax by couching in the nice cold A/C living room. But no longer, I guess the laziness is shedding and I am getting to enjoy the rush of the waves and floating in salty water just as much as them.

I am blessed with a few but very nice friends, who not only care for me, but also correct me without hesitation. I do not have to tell them if I had a bad day or bad week. If Mr. Ash is traveling and am a single parent, I automatically get food dropped off at my home. No Gift is better than food gift on  a tiring day. This dish is one of such gift that I received from my friend K. She made this bharta or eggplant mush, not by roasting but cooking the eggplant in  a pressure cooker. This technique was obviously new for me, that I had to get the exact recipe from her. Mr. Ash loves eggplant mush, but the mess roasting the eggplant makes on the gas range pushes me off from making it. I tried broiling it covered in foil, roasting it in the oven, but the taste is never there. Ultimately I stopped making this. Until, K introduced me to this way of making the mush. When I ate it the first time, the eggplant was so soft and it almost melted in my mouth; I sincerely doubted if it was eggplant that she used or something else. So if that someone who dislikes eggplant is listening, do make this once for me.

You will need;
1 Medium eggplant - get the fatter and slightly bigger eggplant from the market; not the small ones or long thin ones.
1 small tomato diced
1 small onion finely chopped
1 tspn each ginger and garlic paste or chopped very fine
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cayenne pepper powder
1 tsp mix of cumin and coriander powder
salt to taste
1/2 tspn Sugar optional

1 tbspn oil
1/2 mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
pinch of hing/ aesofodita

In a cooker vessel, peel and chop the eggplant into dices and pressure cook for 3-4 whistles. cool and mush around. In a wok, heat the oil, add the tempering ingredients one after the other, once the seeds sizzle, add the onions and fry for a couple of minutes till they sweat, then add the tomatoes, ginger and garlic and let the mix cook, till oil starts separating from the sides. Then add in the eggplant mush, Garam masala, Cayenne pepper powder and salt and sugar if needed. Let the mix cook till the mush and the masala gets incorporated, cover with lid and cook for 2-3 minutes. Garnish with onions and cilantro. I like to add a dash of lemon juice while eating, but again it's completely up to you. We have had this as  a dip with some pita chips like a Babaganoush, or even as a filing in a wrap. Personally, I love this with simple varan bhat tup mith and limbu( Translated as rice, dal, ghee, salt and lime)



Sprouted Beans Biryani- Blend of 12 Bean Sprouts Biryani.

Hello my Sweetpeas!!!! hope you all are doing fine, taking out time for your family and kids and showing your loved ones that you indeed appreciate them and care for them. Love from family is so easily taken for granted that at times we forget to appreciate the things our parents, siblings ever did or do for us. I never liked my mom sneaking veggies in my food, making me that horrible glass of milk every morning, or my brother watching me like a hawk while growing up, making me do my own things like keeping my shelf's clean, arranging my school work the night before or even ironing my own clothes. But they made me do this from a very early age so that I need not depend on anyone. This small routines build a kind of discipline in me that even now when packing for any trip, I kind of pack a couple of days ahead that in case I forget anything,. I still have a day on hand to pack that. Having a mental checklist of things to do is always helpful, when you have a demanding full time job and young boys to tend to. "No surprises at closing" is a very apt term for me. I dislike surprises, so no surprise birthdays ever worked for me, I mean why hide, when we can better prepare them to enjoy their special event. Most birthdays I went to where such Surprise was offered the birthday boy or girl said had they known they would at least have dressed appropriately. Most boys said at least they would shaved today!!!!! Ahhhh..boys will be boys..age no bar...

But one thing I absolutely love is when old and new friends drop by for a surprise visit. There is so much fun in the hassle that comes  with such guests. You have nothing to do and nowhere to go and suddenly someone calls, I am in your area, I am coming for Tea, if you are at home....The joy such calls bring know no bound and can never be measured. We live in a plastic world we created for ourselves, best friends need appointments to visit and catch up, calls have been pushed back by texts...I never had a Sunday morning as a kid, when we did not have our neighbors for Tea and was either we visiting them unannounced or they coming over. no need to dress up as it was the next door.. the wedding in anyone's home was  an apartment affair, even we were gifted new clothes and bangles like family by the hosts. Now you might be thinking what is the context of such surprises story and bean biryani...Coming to your questions and doubts, we  had a surprise BBQ in a park a couple of weeks back. Nothing planned, just few calls of what are you doing today and answer being nothing much, this picnic was decided. Since it was undecided and everyone got one item from the menu, I was allotted a rice item. Now that I am a Mom who takes her role pretty seriously I also sneak stuff/veggies in my food that my kids would otherwise not eat. They like rice and sprouts separately but if I had told them that I am asking sprout rice, I would have got negative response. So I made this bean biryani, which is packed with protein and a hit with all ages.

You will need;
2 Cups rice washed and drained.
1 Cup mixed sprouts-- I have a  12 bean mix packet. I always have sprouts ready for my use.

Making Sprouts;
In a big bowl take one cup beans, soak them in water for 8-10 hours and then drain the water, tie them up in a cotton cloth and keep them to sprout in a warm place for another 5-6 hours. Alternatively use the sprout maker.

1 finely onion chopped
 2 small tomatoes
1 Tsp Ginger/ Garlic paste
1 Tsp Biryani Masala
1 Tbspn Green chutney
4 cups boiling water
Salt and Sugar as needed


2 tbspn oil
1/2 tsp ghee/clarified butter
1 tspn paach phoran-( Blend of Mustard seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds,  black onion seeds and Cumin seeds.)
5-6 Peppercorns
3 cloves
1 Cardamom
1 inch stick cinnamon
In a pan over medium heat, heat oil, add the tempering ingredients, heat for a minute, do not allow the pepper and cloves to burn, add the onions, little salt, tomatoes and  ginger garlic paste, and fry till the masala gets cooked, and oil starts separating from the onion tomato mixture. Add in the biryani masala and let cook for a minute, then  add salt and sugar, mix well and lastly add rice and sprouts and the green chutney and fry till the rice and sprouts gets coated with the masala. Add the boiling water, cover with a lid or cook in a rice cooker til rice gets done. garnish with Cilantrio or Spring Onion, add a dash of lime if needed. Since I was taking this along I did not add in anything. Enjoii this healthy rice with some yogurt or as is.

Linking this to Gayathri's WTML event Guest hosted by Sizzling tastebuds