Saturday, September 30, 2017

A very special treat for Diwali –Edible Diyas

Here is the recipe to make an edible Coconut Diya which contains a Khoya filling.
It is a delightful food that can be made with children in the kitchen for Diwali.


5 cups Dry Coconut Powder or fine flakes
1 tin Condensed Milk
1 tsp. Butter or Ghee
1/2 tsp. Cardamom powder
Almonds for wicks

Khoya Filling

3 cups Full Cream Milk
300 ml Thickened Cream
1 tin Condensed Milk


Khoya Filling
1. Put all the ingredients in a microwave proof container.
2. Mix it up
3. Heat it on high for 4 minutes.
4. Take the container out and stir it.
5. Heat it on high again for 4 minutes.
6. Stir it again.

If you are not using the Microwave then just heat the mixture in a thick bottomed pan on the stove for 5-6 minutes (or more , until the consistency starts to thicken), making sure that the mixture does not stick to the bottom.
Alternatively you can make the Khoya (Mawa) traditionally or use Mawa powder available from all good South Asian stores.
1. Empty condensed milk into large pan (ideally non-stick).
2. Add 4.5 cups coconut into the pan and mix well.
3. Cook mixture on low heat, stirring continuously. Do not allow the mixture to scald at the bottom.
4. Cook until mixture forms a soft lump and leaves side of pan.
5. Let the mixture cool for a short time until it can be shaped by hand.
6. Grease palms with the butter.
7. Roll portions of mixture into ping-pong sized balls.
8. Shape carefully into Diyas, with a circular depression and mouth for the wick.
9. Coat with leftover dry coconut powder to help handling.
10 Chill in the fridge to allow them to set into shape.
11. Fill each Diya with the Kohya filling
12. Add an Almond as the wick. And enjoy!

Dusshera food across India

While kheer, burfi, halwa, kachoris, jalebi, gulab jamun, malpua, radbi, mysore pak, shrikhand and sandesh are some of the common food items prepared for the feast, there are traditional preparations from different regions of India.

Karnataka - Kannadigas lay an emphasis on Saraswati Pooja for which they prepare sweet dosa as offering. Considered to be an auspicious offering, it is made only during the Dasara festival in almost all Kannadiga families.

Gujarat - Traditionally, jalebi and fafda (made from gram flour) with chutney are offered to the Goddess and devotees avail of this Prasad.

Kolkata - Sweets find a special mention with rosgulla, pantua, sandesh, kheer kodum included in the spread of traditional Bengali dishes.

Maharashtra - A savoury known as Kadakni which resembles a khakra is served as a snack. Made from gram flour it is served with spicy hot theccha (a spicy chutney made from crushed green chillies). Karanjis (with a variety of sweet stuffing) also known as Gujiyas in the north are another homemade food item on the menu of many homes.

South India - Sweet dishes are offered to the goddess Saraswati which are normally a variety of payasams. Other savouries include murruku, puliogre, appams, etc.

Tom Alter, Padma Shri actor and writer, dies aged 67

While watching TV , got a very sad news few hours ago. One of my favourite , veteran film, television and theatre actor and Padma Shri Tom Alter has died. He was 67. The renowned actor and one-time sports writer and author had been battling stage four skin cancer.

Alter acted in over 300 movies apart from numerous TV shows, most famously as the gangster Keshav Kalsi in the hit soap opera Junoon which ran for a record five years during the 1990s. In addition to acting, Alter also ventured into direction and was a sports journalist in the 80s and 90s. He was the first person to interview Sachin Tendulkar for TV when the cricketer was yet to debut for India. Alter has written three books, one non-fiction and two fiction, and in 2008 was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri by the Indian government in recognition for his services to the field of arts and cinema.

A statement released on behalf of his family said: "It is with sadness we announce the death of Tom Alter, actor, writer, director, Padma Shri, and our dear husband and father. Tom passed away Friday night at home with his family and close family members in attendance. We ask for their privacy to be respected at this time."

Born in the hill station of Mussoorie in 1950, Alter was a third-generation American in India who studied at Woodstock School in the Himalayas and then briefly at Yale University in the USA, before returning to India in the early 70s. In 1972, he was one of three men - the others being Benjamin Gilani and Phunsok Ladakhi - chosen from over 800 applicants across north India to be enrolled in at the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India in Pune, where two years later he graduated with a gold medal diploma in acting.

Alter's first release was Ramanand Sagar's Charas in 1976, in which he played the role of superstar Dharmendra's boss, a CID official. Among his notable roles during the first decade of his acting career were Satyajit Ray's Shatranj Ke Khiladi (1977), Shyam Benega's Junoon (1979), Manoj Kumar's magnum opus Kranti (1981) and Raj Kapoor's Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985). Other notable directors he worked with during the 70s and 80s were V Shantaram, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Manmohan Desai, Subhash Ghai, Chetan Anand - who gave him his first break in the Dev Anand-starrer Saheb Bahadur - and Vidhu Vinod Chopra, who gave him the pivotal role of the gangster Musa in the critically acclaimed hit Parinda.

In the 90s, Alter was seen in many films, prominent among them Mahesh Bhatt's Aashiqui, Junoon and Gumrah, Ketan Mehta's Sardar and Priyadarshan's Kala Pani. During this time, he also acted in regional cinema - Bengali, Assamese, Telegu, Tamil and Kumaoni films. Among his foreign films are Richard Attenborough's Gandhi and One Night with the King, in which he acted opposite his idol, the legendary Peter O'Toole.

On TV, Alter's leading work came in Junoon, Zabaan Sambhalke, Jugalbandi, Bharat EK Khoj, Ghutan, Shaktimaan, Captain Vyom, Mere Ghar Aana Zindagi and Yahaan Ke Hum Sikandar. Most recently, he was seen in a pivotal role in the ongoing serial Rishton Ka Chakravyuh on Star Plus. At the time of his death, Alter had approximately 16 unreleased films lined up as well as a web series by Eros Now titled Smoke.

Throughout his cinematic and television career, Alter remained busy with theatre, having co-founded Motley Productions with Naseeruddin Shah and Gilani in 1979. His prominent stage work includes the two-and-a-half-hour-long solo play in Urdu, 'Maulana', 'Babur ke Aulaad', 'Lal Qile ka Aakhri Mushaira', 'Ghalib ke Khat', 'Trisanga', 'Teesveen Shatabdi' and many more.

In early 2017, Alter enacted a festival of his various plays in Hindi, English, Hindustani and Urdu titled titled 'Jashn-e-Maazi: The Play of History' which featured 19 of his portrayals and adaptations of leading historical figures such as Maulana Azad, Mirza Ghalib, Manto, Saahir Ludhianvi, Rabindranath Tagore, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Alfred Einstein and Mahatma Gandhi.

He is survived by his wife Carol, son Jamie and daughter Afshaan.

Kuwait 42nd most popular destination for expatriates

Kuwait ranked sixth in the Middle East and 42nd out of 46 countries declared as the world’s most popular destinations for expatriates, according to the HSBC Expat Explorer Survey 2017 which polled about 30,000 migrant workers across the world, reports .Kuwait’s global ranking this year went down by seven notches compared to 2016 when it landed on the 35th spot. Singapore remained on top globally, while Norway climbed six places to the second spot, ahead of New Zealand that dropped by one spot.
Meanwhile, Germany and the Netherlands climbed dramatically to the top five compared to the previous year. On the ranking of other GCC countries, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) took the top spot in the Middle East and 10th in the world – two places higher than the previous year when it ranked 12th. It is ahead of other popular destinations like the USA, United Kingdom and Hong Kong.
It also edged out Switzerland from the top 10 as the latter dropped from the fifth spot in 2016 to 11th place this year. Bahrain ranked second in the Middle East and 13th internationally, dropping from ninth in 2016; while Oman ranked third in the Middle East and 15th in the world – three places higher compared to previous year’s ranking – 18th.
Qatar ranked fourth in the Middle East and 31st globally – two notches lower compared to 2016 when it ranked 29th; while Saudi Arabia ranked fifth in the Middle East and 40th globally – nine places lower compared to last year when it ranked 31st. The survey analyzed people’s salaries, career growth potential, job security and savings.
It also asked people about social issues, such as how easy it was to make friends, health care and access to culture. People were also asked about how easy it was to raise children, how safe people felt where they were living and general quality of life.
The UAE scored high on economic areas, coming fifth overall, but did not fare so well in areas concerning people’s social and family lives. “Expats living in the UAE are rewarded for their hard work… (it) attracts a wide range of people keen to live and work away from home,” the report stated. Proportionately there are more expats living in the UAE than any other country, who said their motive to moving to the UAE was to improve their earnings. “With a small local population, the UAE’s economy depends on qualified expats who moved there to boost their income. It came fifth in the economics category of 2017 Expat Explorer Survey, with high rankings for disposable income, wage growth and career progression” the report added.
Bahrain scored well on earning potential and for raising children, with 71 percent of those questioned believing there were better opportunities than in their home countries. “Bahrain also scored highly as a place to raise children – 71 percent of expat parents believe their children have a better quality of life than in their home country and 57 percent said that Bahrain offered better health and wellbeing options for their offspring,” the report explained.

Indian Embassy holiday on Sunday October 1st

The Embassy of India shall remain closed on 1st October, 2017 (SUNDAY) & 2nd October, 2017 (MONDAY) on the occasion of Muharram and Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday respectively. However, emergency consular services will be rendered by the Mission, embassy confirmed in a press release.


India has essentially grown along the banks of major rivers. Our ancient civilizations were born along the waters, and they perished when the rivers shifted course.
For many millennia, we maintained the sanctity of this relationship. But in the last few decades, due to the pressures of population and development, our perennial rivers are becoming seasonal.
  • 25% of India is turning into desert.
  • In 15 years, we may have only half the water we need for our survival.
  • The Ganga is one of the most endangered rivers in the world.
  • The Godavari was dry along much of its length last year.
  • The Kaveri has lost 40% of its flow. Krishna and Narmada have lost around 60%
In every state, perennial rivers are either becoming seasonal or totally going dry. In Kerala – the Bharatpuzha, in Karnataka – the Kabini, in Tamil Nadu – the Kaveri, Palar and Vaigai, in Odisha – the Musal, in Madhya Pradesh – the Kshipra. Many smaller rivers have already vanished.
The Narmada, Krishna and Kaveri do not reach the sea four months of the year. Water levels in almost every major river have declined severely. If we do not act now to reverse the serious decline of these lifelines, the next generation will pay a very heavy price.
How can we save our Rivers?
One  core solution to stabilize and revitalize our rivers is  creating and maintaining tree cover for a minimum of one kilometer on either side of the entire river length and half a kilometer for tributaries. The benefits of tree planting have been indisputably demonstrated by Project GreenHands.
Native forest trees would be planted in government-owned land along riverbanks. Organic fruit tree cultivation would be taken up on private farmers’ lands.
This solution ensures that rivers are restored while also enhancing farmers’ livelihood by more than doubling their income in five years. The availability of fruit also improves nutritional intake among people.
Trees help keep rivers perennial, mitigate floods and drought, increase precipitation, mitigate climate change and prevent soil erosion.
How can I contribute now?
To Submit a policy recommendation for central government, peoples support is very vital. For a large environmental movement throughout the country like this, minimum of 10 crore votes are needed. You can pledge your support by giving a missed call to the below number……….80009 80009

When is this Rally is happening?
I usually do not go out to ask anyone to spread the word etc. but this is one cause that we need to spread the word about and spread it fast as it is critical for the survival of the nation.

To create awareness and momentum amongst all sections of society and the government, Isha Foundation is organizing a “Rally for Rivers” awareness campaign in consultation and collaboration with the Ministry of Environment.
This Rally For Rivers initiative is started by Sadhguru (Isha Foundation) to spread awareness about our situation so that we can take action sooner since later is just too Late. It is not a political movement or agitation. It is a movement to make us aware of what we are facing. There is a solution to this problem provided action is taken and we must all come together for our own future as well as our farmers and nation’s future.

Red Arrows perform airshow in Kuwait

Enjoyed the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows spectacular display here in Kuwait on 28th September 2017 on the Gulf road, near the Kuwait Towers.  The show started with a 15 minutes show of the Kuwait Air Force planes , followed by a 20 minute long show which colored the sky with blue, red and white .

The crowd enjoyed watching the show and taking photos. The event was attended by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Sabah, Sheikh Mohammed State Minister for Cabinet Affairs, Sheikh Salman Al-Homoud General Director of Civil Aviation, British Ambassador to Kuwait, other officers and public.

Three Kuwait F18 airplanes, one helicopter, and nine British Hawk T1 airplanes participated in this show. The team presented different aerobatic moves such as the concord, diamond, and different maneuvers by seven airplanes, and then by two airplanes, concluded by collective maneuvers by the complete team.

The team, which flies British-built T1 Hawk fastjets, will have completed more than 4800 shows since their very first show in 1965.

The world’s premier aerobatic display team represent excellence both at home (U.K) and overseas through their display of speed, agility and teamwork.