Category Archives: THINGS TO EXPLORE

Learning/Teaching Hindi- a useful website

Fanny,  the aide de la maitresse (teacher’s helper) of Noor’s maternelle class last year, loves all things Indian so that over the years we’ve often brought her back things such as bangles and even a saree once, from India – in fact she tailored the blouse that goes with a saree herself, from a sample that I gave her !

Now, she wants a tattoo in hindi, and gave Noor a piece of paper last week with a name, a date and the words mon amour (my love) and paix (peace) that she wanted me to write for her in the Devanagari script.

As I did that this morning, I suddenly found myself stuck at the number 8 and just could not remember how to write this numeral in Devanagari. I did a hurried search on google and in the process found, among others, this site

It’s design and the way it’s written  appealed to me more than many others. It also occurred to me for the first time that teaching the girls Hindi in a formal way might be made easier with online resources such as this one.

While I like to think I have read enough Hindi all my life to know the language very well, I do struggle now with the trickier alphabets/matras and numbers when I try to teach these to Indira – she sometimes comes up to me herself to ask that I show her how to write in Hindi , which is great since this is something I have neglected –   so this site would be very useful for that.

Vegan-and healthy-substitutes for common dairy products

When I mentioned to Ingrid last week that I had been looking for vegan/non-dairy versions of some Indian desserts because one of the women coming to the lunch at Jenny’s next week (for which I’ll do the catering) is lactose-intolerant, she loaned me a couple of her books on the subject.

Browsing though those books has been so much fun – the writers of each have a very droll style – as well as being informative. I have in fact often wondered, especially after tasting in recent months the delicious and all-vegan cupcakes that Ingrid makes, whether I ought to substitute ingredients like egg and butter with healthier alternatives when I bake, at least some of the time. But so far my efforts to bake healthier cakes were limited to using wholewheat flour instead of the bleached sort, and cane sugar instead of white sugar.

So it all came together nicely when the lunch next week provided me the impetus to foray in to vegan cooking.

Here are some alternatives for common dairy products, as suggested by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer, the authors of “How it all Vegan” –

For 1 egg – they suggest using instead 1/2  a banana or 3 tablespoons of applesauce or 3 tablespoons of flaxseed paste (should be like a thick milkshake; to make: blend 1 part seeds – first crushed to a mealy texture – with three parts water). One more substitute that caught my eye was a mixture of 1 tablespoon of psyllium husks and 2 tablespoons of water(the authors say that the longer the psyllium husk sits in water, the more egg-like it becomes). The former is what is commonly prescribed in India for constipation; how I hated this stuff, called “Isabgol” in India,  when I was a child !

Butter – can be replaced, they say, with applesauce, or nut butter (made from almonds, cashews or other nuts) or vegan butter (to make- blend 3/4 cup soft tofu, 2 tbsp olive oil, a pinch of salt and turmeric).

Milk– they suggest replacing the dairy kind with milk made from soy/rice/oats/coconut or almonds.
To make almond milk, blend 3/4 cup raw, peeled almonds (crushed beforehand in the blender to a mealy texture), 2 cups of water and 6 pitted dates. Though I’d skip the dates, I think, unless the milk is for adding to a bowl of cereal.

Coming up – Vegan gajar ka halwa made in almond milk, vegan cakes made with flaxseed paste and applesauce instead of egg and butter, and vegan crepes made with flaxseed paste and almond milk instead of eggs and regular milk.  From a nutrition point of view, they would be such winners, each of those substitutions, apart from the fact that they replace dairy products which are a source of  extra fat and cholesterol.

Blog content and copyright protection

There was a very informative article in the “Freshly pressed” section on WordPress today,  here

Very useful reading for anyone with a blog; makes you more aware of your rights as well as those of others.

3 recipes to try

Three recipes that I definitely want to try, after eating these things during the last few weeks in India, are – Patrani Macchi, Ginger Chutney and Prawn Pulav.

To be continued…

Dara Shikoh, Mughal Prince

A story – about followers of Sufism – in William Dalrymple’s  “Nine Lives” refers to Dara Shikoh, younger brother of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb and a man who was executed by the latter for writing in his book “Mingling of the Two Oceans” about the commonalities between Islam and Hinduism.

That sounds like a fascinating bit of history to explore.  To be continued…