Tag Archives: India

8 Indian Summer Drinks & Recipes to Beat the Heat

31 Mar

As the mercury rose in an unprecedented fashion as early as in February this year, I have been busy researching on ways to keep my family in good hydrated condition. Apart from drinking plenty of water, what is of importance in summer, is to have a lot of vegetables/salads, fruits and the right amount of salts/minerals added to fluids. Unfortunately, feeding kids with vegetables and fruits is not exactly a successful mission from my experience and hence I thought of trying various juices, shakes and smoothies this time around.

What is given below is not entirely my inventions but mostly influenced by recipes of summer drinks available on the web. However, since I have been making one different drink per day, I got to experiment a lot with various combinations. The theme is broadly around plenty of citrus juices, seasonal fruits and at times with milk products. My favorite flavors like fresh mint leaves and ginger adding that extra punch.

Before heading on to the recipes, please note that, for the sake of brevity, I am not writing these recipes in professional style. Also, unless specifically mentioned all recipes are to serve two people.

So, here you go.

1. Aloe Vera Lime Juice

Last week, we did a round of pruning of our plants (whatever was left there, that is) in the balcony and got plenty of Aloe Vera rinds. While I was wondering what to do with it, I stumbled upon a recipe on the web which I modified a bit to make this refreshing juice.

aloe vera lime juice - summer drinks images

Ingredients: Aloe Vera gel – 2 tablespoons, Juice of two Limes, Salt – ¼ teaspoon, Sugar – 4 to 5 teaspoons, Water – 1½ cups, Ice cubes – ½ cup

Method of Preparation: Pour Aloe Vera gel, Lime juice, Sugar, Salt and about 50 ml of water into the blender jar and blend well for about 20-30 seconds. Add the remaining water and ice cubes and blend further for about 10 seconds. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Tip: Aloe Vera can be mildly toxic if you do not extract the gel carefully. The yellow part or latex between the skin and the gel contains ‘Aloin’ which shouldn’t be consumed at all. If the gel extract is transparent without any traces of yellow (as shown in the picture below), then it’s very safe to consume it. In either case, do not add more than a tablespoon of aloe vera per glass of juice.

aloe vera gel

2. Double Citrus Juice

double citrous juice - juice drink image

Ingredients: Freshly squeezed orange juice of 2-3 navel oranges, Juice of two limes, Water – 1 cup, Salt – ¼ teaspoon, Sugar – 3 to 4 teaspoons, Ice cubes – 4 to 5

Method of Preparation: Just blend everything together in a shaker or blender and enjoy!

3. Spicy Buttermilk

This is something that we used to make back home in Kerala. I just modified it a bit to suit my current taste (medium spicy and mildly sweetened)

spicy buttermilk - indian spicy buttermilk recipe

Ingredients: Refrigerated curd – 250ml, Water – 150ml, Salt – ½ teaspoon or as per taste, Sugar – ½ teaspoon, Shallots / Sambar onions – 2 to 3, Green Chilli – 1 (small), Ginger – ½ inch, Curry leaves – 7 to 8

Method of Preparation: Blend curd, water, salt and sugar well for about 20 to 30 seconds in a blender / mixer. Coarsely crush pealed shallots, green chilli, ginger and curry leaves in a mortar. Add it to the blender along with the rest and blend for another 3-4 seconds. Refreshing spicy buttermilk is ready!

The color of the buttermilk may vary (light green or mild pink) based on the leading ingredient.

4. Kiwi Smoothie

Kiwi fruits seem to be suddenly cheaper in the Indian markets (due to excess import?). I saw them in the More Supermarket for as low as 14 rupees apiece last week and decided to experiment with the same in multiple ways.

kiwi smoothie recipe

Ingredients: Kiwi fruits – 1 (Pealed and chopped), Chilled milk – 1½ cups, Water – ½ cup, Sugar – 4 to 5 teaspoons, Ice cubes – 5 to 6

Method of Preparation: Blend kiwi fruit pieces, Sugar and water in a mixer or blender for about 30 seconds (or until no small pieces of kiwi fruits are seen). Now, add milk and ice cubes and blend for another 15-20 seconds. Pour into a glass and enjoy the smoothie!

Tip: You can add half a banana, while blending the kiwi, to make it an even richer smoothie with a better flavor. Yes, Kiwi and Banana can go well. In fact, I had made that once but forgot to click a picture

5. Minty Watermelon – Lime Juice

Water melons are indeed the fruit of the season. But did you know that some lime juice and ground mint leaves can turn your humble watermelon juice into an exotic Mocktail?

minty watermelon lime juice recipe

Ingredients: Cut Watermelon pieces with seeds – 5 to 6 cups, Juice of 1 lime, Fresh Mint leaves – 8 to 10, Salt – ¼ teaspoon, Sugar – 3 to 4 teaspoons, Ice cubes – 5 to 6

Method of Preparation: Blend everything together (including the seeds in the watermelon) for about 20 seconds. Pour into a glass and garnish with 2-3 fresh mint leaves and enjoy!

Tip: Try another variant by replacing mint leaves with ¼ green chilli while blending! This has more punch in it.

6. Lime – Ginger Juice

This is one of my all-time favorites and this is what we usually offer to our guests in the summer.

Ginger Lime Juice image

Ingredients: Juice of 2 limes, Extract of 1” ginger piece, Salt – ¼ teaspoon, Sugar – 4 to 6 teaspoons, Ice cubes – 5 to 6, Fresh mint leaves to garnish

Method of Preparation: Blend everything (except mint leaves) together for about 10-15 seconds or until the sugar completely dissolves. Pour into a glass and top with mint leaves. You can try garnishing with crushed mint leaves as well. I usually, chew the leaves after I finish the juice ?

Tip: In order to extract the ginger juice, first crush it in a mortar without any water and squeeze out the juice. Then crush it again with a teaspoon of water to get some more of it squeezed. Filter this extract before adding to the blender.

7. Lazy Lassi

This is our good old Lassi that doesn’t need any introduction.

simple lassi recipe

Ingredients: Curd – 400 ml, Sugar – 5 to 6 teaspoons, Salt – ¼ teaspoon, Edible Rose Water – ½ teaspoon (OR Cardamom powder ¼ teaspoon), Ice cubes – ½ cup

Method of Preparation: Blend everything together for about 20 seconds, pour into tall glasses and enjoy!

Tip: Many Rose water brands (including Dabur) that you see in the market are good for cosmetic purposes alone and hence not edible grade. Hence, double check before buying the same

8. Kiwi – Lime Juice

This is another super-refreshing drink for the summer!

kiwi lime juice

Ingredients: Kiwi fruit – 1 (Pealed and chopped), Juice of 1 lime, Sugar – 4 to 5 teaspoons, Salt – ¼ teaspoon, Water – 1 ½ cups, Ice cubes – ½ cup

Method of Preparation: Blend kiwi fruit pieces, Lime juice, Sugar and Salt along with some 50 ml of for about 30 seconds so that a neat pulp is formed. Add the rest of the water and ice cubes and blend well. Pour into a glass of water and consume immediately (If you are storing in the fridge, mix well before drinking as kiwi juice – just like freshly made pineapple juice – will have the fruit parts floating after a few minutes)

Bonus Tip

Convert it into something exciting: Barring the ones featuring milk products, any of the above drinks can be quickly converted into a summer cocktail by adding 30 to 45 ml of your favorite spirit while blending ?

Make these summer coolers at home and let me know how they turned out to be.

10 Small Cap Stocks that offer Significant Growth Potential

18 Jan

About two years back, I had recommended some decent midcap stocks most of which appreciated big time even before the current bull run started. I have been, since, trying to dig out some value picks in the mid cap segment but unfortunately, most of them ran up big time – much beyond their fair valuations. Let me concentrate on some pure small cap stocks this time with their underlying businesses holding very good growth potential and stock appreciation for the future.

Important: You may note that many of the stocks listed below, while still offering value, have run up a bit as well. The markets are at near all-time-highs and hence some of these stocks can go down sharply at some point. Hence it would be ideal to buy them in the ranges mentioned or take a staggered approach. Further, never put a lot of money into small caps stocks – not more than 10%-15% of your overall equity portfolio

 

Small Cap Stock Picks

(Company Name, Price on 18/01/2015, Buy Price Range)


1. Chaman Lal Setia Exports (80, 50-60)

2. Gujarat Foils (70, 48-55)

3. Goodricke Group (152, CMP and at dips)

4. Goodyear India (624, 450-480)

5. Hinduja Global Solutions (629, CMP and at dips)

6. JVL Agro Industries (20, 15-18)

7. Jyoti Structures (39, CMP)

8. Noida Toll Bridge Company (35, 24-28)

9. Nucleus Software Exports (199, At dips below 160)

10. Stylam Industries (83, At dips below 60)

 

Criteria for Selection

Some of the criteria used to pick the small cap stock mentioned here are:

  • Industry (Excluded Oils, Chemicals, Steel, Textiles etc)
  • Promoters (How trustworthy are they?)
  • Age & Stability of the company
  • Growth Numbers (Top and Bottom line)
  • Dividend Yield (As applicable)
  • Debt on Book (Zero or Manageable debt)

As you know, the biggest challenge for most small cap companies is managing the debt as they usually avail high interest loans. A big chunk of their profit flows out as interest repayment and that’s probably the main parameter that would define the growth potential of many of them.

Disclosure: As of writing of this post, I am invested in JVL Agro Industries. I plan to invest in at least 3-4 of the above listed companies as and when their stock quotes reach the ranges mentioned.

Disclaimer: I am not a qualified finance adviser or portfolio manager. Please consult the experts before taking any investment decision in the equity market. You may have to do further research on these stocks on financial portals, websites of these companies as well as mandatory filings by them before taking any positions.

Good luck with your equity investments!

Updates

June 01, 2015:

1. Chaman Lal Setia Exports: Hold

2. Gujarat Foils: Hold

3. Goodricke Group: Avoid/Exit (Growth outlook not exciting, Exit on any rally)

4. Goodyear India: Buy in the initially recommended range only

5. Hinduja Global Solutions: Hold

6. JVL Agro Industries: Hold

7. Jyoti Structures: Avoid/Book loss (No debt restructuring seen, Interest coverage poor)

8. Noida Toll Bridge Company: Buy in the initially recommended range only

9. Nucleus Software Exports: Book Partial Profit

10. Stylam Industries: Buy in the initially recommended range only

August 13, 2015:

1. Chaman Lal Setia Exports: Book Partial Profit (Stock already doubled from the recommended date and tripled from the recommended price!)

2. Gujarat Foils: Hold

3. Goodricke Group: Exited (See previous update) (Growth outlook not exciting, Exit on any rally)

4. Goodyear India: Buy in the initially recommended range only, Hold if you already entered

5. Hinduja Global Solutions: Hold

6. JVL Agro Industries: Hold

7. Jyoti Structures: Exited (See previous update)

8. Noida Toll Bridge Company: Hold

9. Nucleus Software Exports: Booked Partial Profit (See previous update), Hold the rest

10. Stylam Industries: Buy in the initially recommended range only, Hold if you already entered (Stock more than doubled from the recommended date/price)

Note: Due to lack of time, I will not be providing any more update on this particular list. The readers are expected to take further research based action on their holdings.

Idiots in Indian Department Stores

13 Apr

(Note: This is the edited version of my recent facebook rant)

On a daily basis we get to see a lot of unethical behaviours in public places in India. Department stores – even the up market ones in our cities – are no exception in this regard either.

The following are some of the common scenes at super market check-out counters in Bangalore and perhaps elsewhere in India as well. On your bad day, you get to see all three of these idiots at once – just like I experienced earlier this week.

IDIOT #1 is being attended by the tardy checker. When he has to pay his bill of around 2000 rupees, he first gives 1000 rupees in currency and pulls out two or three SODEXO pass books in the lowest possible denominations. He then starts tearing a few from each book, counts them, re-checks twice and sees that it’s not sufficient. He checks his wallet again for change, finds nothing and ask his wife – who has already proceeded ahead – for another 200! And you know how long it’s going to take further from that moment. That’s a good 5 minutes per customer, Thank you idiot!

IDIOT #2 is a lady, right behind the first character, who seems to be stocking up supplies good enough for 3 months for all famine hit regions in Uganda. While she’s about to shift her things from the shopping cart to the counter, she gets a call on her smart phone which is lying somewhere in her Santa bag. With great difficulty she finds it, swipes thrice to pick the call and in the process forgets the priority job. When the checker reminds her twice, she relents but with the phone in right hand, starts transferring the shopping cart items one at a time using her left hand. Needless to say, in between the call she pauses the left hand task to pick an argument on the phone. At the end, she almost matches the record set by the first idiot. Wait, is she pulling out the Sodexo passes too? What an irresponsible idiot!

IDIOT #3 is nowhere in the scene so far. But when it’s your turn and when the checker has almost started attending you, this idiot appears from nowhere and utters “Only three items saaar, Can I? “. One can understand if it’s an old person or physically challenged individual but hey, that’s not the case! It’s just another idiot who has not even learned what a ‘Queue’ is forget alone the sign boards there in. And in all probabilities, you must have seen the same idiot skipping the queue at the vegetable weighing/tagging counter as well a short while ago. What a PITA (Pain In The …)!

Thank you Idiots for making my day!

sigh…

Olive Oil in India : What Type and Which Brand?

8 Apr

With numerous olive oil brands available out there in the Indian urban market, one might wonder which brand is good for specific cooking – salad dressing needs as well as for the use on hair or body. Most importantly, one should know which type shouldn’t be used at all. Well, with this post and my latest 5 minutes video, let me explain what could work for you.

(If you are too lazy to read, please watch the short video below)

If the video doesn’t appear on this page, please click this direct link

Types of Olive Oil

Olive oil is primarily available in the following broad categories:

  • Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • Virgin Olive oil
  • Pure Olive Oil / Refined Olive Oil
  • Blended Olive oil or Olive oil (i.e. the blend of Virgin and Refined)
  • Pomace (Avoid!!!)

The above is an incomplete list with different manufacturing processes changing the final outcome of the oil.

However, our primary interests are around THREE types of olive oils viz Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Pure Olive Oil and Pomace.

Without much delay we will shortlist it further by dropping Pomace from our list. Pomace is the type of oil that you SHOULD NOT BUY because it is one of the lowest grade oil that is treated with solvents and undergoes several stages of changes. AVOID POMACE although they are available at cheaper price tags. Many consider pomace oil worse than even your standard refined oils such as Soy or Sunflower oil.

(Premium) Extra Virgin Olive oil

Cold pressed Extra Virgin Olive oil is what one needs for raw (direct) usage types such as salad dressing or dips for your bread/dinner rolls etc. One should only go for premium extra virgin oil that is available in dark glass bottles. Never ever buy your expensive extra virgin oils that come in plastic bottles because the good traits of the olive oil are easily lost when it is exposed to harsh light and temperature.

By the way, the extra virgin olive oils are the best for your hair massage and body massage purposes as well. Just make sure that, they are slightly warmed (not heated) when used for massaging purposes. What I usually do is to heat an empty steel bowl for five to ten seconds, remove it from the flame and pour oil into it.

Pure Olive oil (Refined oil) and Virgin oil

This is the second grade of oil that’s good enough for cooking purposes. Pure olive oil is considered safe because it doesn’t undergo any treatment with solvents. These are filtered oils and hence good for generic cooking purposes.

Virgin oil is good for cooking as well but sometimes slightly more expensive for no reason.

By the way, when people talk about just ‘Olive oil’ it often means either refined olive oil or a blend of refined and virgin olive oils. i.e. Unless ‘Pomace’ is specifically mentioned in which case you have to stay away from the same.
(Note: Please note that any type of olive oil is NOT meant for deep frying or high-heat cooking purposes. By doing so, the olive oil gives up all its good reasons. For high heat cooking and deep frying, something like virgin coconut oil is the best as it holds well even at high temperatures)

Which Brands of Olive Oil to buy in India?

Disclosure: Please note that I have no association or business interest with any of these brands, their producers or marketers. My suggestions are purely based on my personal use of these brands.

For extra virgin olive oils, the best brands that I have used are Borges and Leonardo Gold. Make sure that you buy the premium variants that come in darkened glass bottles. Monini Classico is a good brand too. Please note that good quality premium extra virgin olive oil will cost you anywhere between 500 to 750 rupees per half litre. Your salads, soups, cooked vegetables and bread are going to be exceptionally tastier and healthier with the above mentioned extra virgin oils. There may be other brands too that I haven’t tried but I have this habit of going with tried and tested ones only.

For general cooking purposes, the extra virgin is expensive and hence not practical. Most of the pure or refined olive oil brands is good enough for generic cooking. What I mostly use is brands like Ibero, Figaro, Nature Fresh etc and these are usually available at a price range of 400 to 600 rupees per litre (Figaro is slightly more expensive and comes in metal cans)

That’s pretty much about olive oils types and brands. I hope this post is useful to the health freaks out there.

Anti-Nepotism Online Campaign for Loksabha Election 2014

9 Mar

Friends,
We are living in a Democratic country. Democracy provides you the freedom and power to elect the representatives who can make decisions on our behalf in order to take this country forward.

Today, the eligibility of candidates contesting for parliament or state assembly elections is decided based on too basic parameters such as citizenship status, minimum age, criminal conviction status etc. From time to time, the educated citizens in this country have asked for stricter norms such as minimum educational qualifications, upper age bar and so on. However, going by the constitutional rights of the citizens of India, it may not be practical to implement such amendments in the near future.

nepotism in india

Yet another virus that is affecting the democratic process and progress of this country is Nepotism in politics. Favourism granted to the relatives of family members of politicians has reached such a pathetic state where several members of the same family get to contest a particular election (E.g. Three members of the Paswan family contest the forthcoming Loksabha elections). This is so easily done and manipulated by the crooked politicians because the people have no say in deciding who can contest even before deciding whom to vote for. Further, Nepotism is one of the reasons why most of these politicians and their families turn corrupt.

While constitutional changes or even an Anti-Nepotism bill may be close to impossible, we as voters always have the chance to vote out those who run politics as a family business. We have to decide whether 20 or 30 families out of the millions in this country can continue to play with our future, just because they get to contest and win elections by playing vote bank politics, caste-regional politics and other inherited means.

So during the forthcoming Loksabha election, let me request my fellow citizens to do the following.

1. First, enroll yourself in the Voters list and please Do vote on the election day.

2. If you know of any candidate who got a ticket by Nepotistic means, please alert voters and fellow citizens by word of mouth, social media shares etc to spread awareness. There are already many familiar names out there ( Gandhis, Gowdas, Yadavs, Paswans, Karnunanidhis etc) but there may be a lot more that we don’t know; So let us spread awareness by all possible means.

3. Do not vote for Nepotists – especially who haven’t done anything at all for the social well-being or progress of the nation even at his/her lowest capacities prior to this election. Even if they have done something in the past, if you believe that there could have been a better candidate, reject them outright. Please think beyond your political views for once.

4. If you don’t find a suitable candidate in your constituency, please use the ‘Reject all candidates’ button. Let us hope this new mechanism introduced this year is going to work and make things better in the future.

Please share this note with your friends and contacts. Let us send this message loud and clear and work towards a cleaner and truly democratic election process. While for every election, we try to vote and elect people based on our best judgment, let us try to make Anti-Nepotism as the theme for this Loksabha election. Because, uprooting nepotism is one of the key steps towards fighting corruption!

The link to the Facebook Online Campaign is below:
Anti-Nepotism Online Campaign for Loksabha Election 2014 – Facebook link

Thank you,
An Indian Citizen