Happiness is a D.I.Y:)

You can make yourself happy wherever and whenever you want … under any circumstances. With the thoughts you choose. Which in turn talks to your heart, which in turn, makes your heart sing, which in turn makes you feel happiness …

This can be done … no matter what … even in a war zone!

The more vigilant you become in choosing happiness … the Higher your vibration becomes.

THE HAPPIER YOU ALLOW YOURSELF TO BECOME … THE FASTER THE SYSTEM SHALL FALL.

For it is in knowing who you are that you shall bring about the change you came here to implement.

30 days of Iftar

The Iftars* i have been invited to have been interesting experiences. People sitting around a table filled with food and drink of all kinds…families, friends, guests, just people… hi and lo all sharing their meals and cajoling each other to have just a bit more. The homes are pregnant of the scent of saffron, cinnamon and spice, flavourful biryani’s, ouzi’s infused with cardamom and rose sherbets, all mingled and mixed together with the delicate wafts of the Oud from some corner of the house. Their hospitality is just so, with every member including children, offering you moist plump dates stuffed with nuts or handing out small delicate cups of Arabic tea. It is an intoxicating experience, overwhelming to a degree, to sit here amidst these families, being a part of a bonding ritual, exchanging of love and compassion and being a witness to their generosity. All in all some of the most delicious evenings of my life!

NOTE: A big THANKS to a wonderful friend and an awesome photographer, Santosh Telkhede for allowing me access to his images. Check out more of Santosh’s work on http://www.arabicstockimages.com.

Some great stuff there!

_SAN9070-Baklava and coffee

Arabic Mint Tea

4 cups water sugar to your taste, 3 black tea bags but any tea bag will do. (For a fresh unique taste use Earl grey), 5-8 fresh mint leaves ( the leaves being fresh is of utmost importance)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Pour water and sugar into a teapot or saucepan to boil on the stove. Heat on high until water is boiling and sugar has dissolved. While water is boiling, add the tea bags and mint leaves and boil rapidly for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove the tea bags and mint. The tea should be served piping hot and possibly with a plate of sticky Baklava!

PISTACHIO WALNUT BAKLAVA

(A tried and tested Baklava recipe originally by Chef Silvena Rowe)

35 fresh filo sheets (2 packets) ,500g new season walnuts, chopped roughly 200g caster sugar 400g melted clarified butter ( real good quality helps) 150g ground Pistachios For the syrup: 500g caster sugar 500ml water 5 tbsp rose water Juice and zest of 2 lemons

INSTRUCTIONS:

Have a large roasting tray ready and butter with a little of the melted butter. The tray should be about 30cm by 20cm. Pre heat oven to 180c. To make the syrup, place the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to boil, then to simmer adding the rose water for about 15 minutes or longer until the syrup is of rather thick consistency. Now add the lemon juice and zest and stir in. To make the filling add the walnuts, caster sugar together and mix well. Add the ground pistachios to the melted clarified butter and mix well. Arrange a filo sheet in and then sprinkle with the with the ground walnuts and butter mixture, then cover with another filo sheet and again sprinkle with the almond and butter mixture, keeping going until you have 8 sheets of filo. Now add a generous layer, about half of the chopped walnut and sugar mixture. Cover with 8 more layers of filo, again sprinkling in between each of them with ground pistachios and butter mixture. Follow with the second and final layer of chopped walnuts and sugar, pressing down gently. Finish with 8 more filo sheets sprinkled in between with ground pistachios and butter mixture. Butter the top layer and using a sharp knife, cut into small diamond shapes. Spray with water and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Now reduce the temperature of the oven to 140c and cook the baklava for another 2 hours. Cool completely and spoon the sugar and rose water syrup making sure that you cover all of the pastry with the hot syrup. Cover loosely and allow to settle for 48 hours in a dry place

. _SAN6729_Dolma Recipe

Dolmades or Stuffed wine leaves.
1 2 lb. Jar Grape Leaves ( found in any middle easters groceries in a canned/ pickled form)
1 lb Ground lamb
1 c. Long Grain White Rice – Rinsed
1 Tbs. Crushed Garlic
1 Tsp. Salt
¼ Tsp. Pepper
Juice of 2 Lemons
2 Celery Stalks – cut into 3 (optional)
5 Cabbage Leaves (optional)
2 Tbs. Dried Mint
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Line a large pot with celery ribs and loose cabbage leaves.
  2. Rinse off grape leaves and place on a plate.
  3. In a large bowl, combine ground meat, rice, the juice of 1 lemon, garlic, salt and pepper.
  4. One grape leave at a time, place the leaf flat on a plate and add 1 tbs. of meat mixture near stem.
  5. Form meat into long cigar shape then roll the grape leave starting at the stem all the way to the top. No need to fold in sides.
  6. Line rolls in pot, alternating direction with each layer, until the pot is filled ¾ of the way or you’ve used all your leaves.
  7. Cover grapes leaves with a small plate turned upside down to keep them from moving and to weigh it down.
  8. Add chicken broth to the edge of where the leaves end and add juice of second lemon and dried mint.
  9. Cover pot with lid and bring to a simmer.
  10. Reduce heat to low and simmer an additional 20-30 minutes or until rice is fully cooked. Excellent with pita bread and plain yogurt.
NOTES
Excellent source of Vitamin A.
Can be served hot or cold.

SAN_8054_Hummous and Falafel

Hummous …

( We all have our secret recipes. This one’s mine and the most sought after)

The Best Hummus You Will Ever Eat 1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste available nowadays in all supermarkets) 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice 3 tbsp olive oil 2 cloves of garlic (minced) 1/2 tsp ground cumin or i sometimes use whole black peppers but it tastes great without, so its ok if you don’t use it either) 1/2 tsp sea salt 1/4 tsp hot sauce/ thai chilli sauce 1 1/2 cups of canned chick peas, drained and rinsed

Directions: 1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree. Place in bowl, sprinkle with paprika, drizzle with virgin olive oil and serve with pita wedges and thickly diced cucumbers. Is an excellent partner with kibbeh or falafel.

NOTES: Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is when the Prophet Mohammed was given the Qur’an. The word Ramadan is derived from rmd, which is an Arabic word for heat. The same root is used to refer to burnt earth, a hot climate or a lack of food. This relates to the daytime fasting that Muslims are expected to perform during Ramadan. Lasting for the entire month, Muslims fast during the daylight hours and in the evening eat small meals and visit with friends and family. It is a time of worship and contemplation. A time to strengthen family and community ties. A time for spirituality and introspection. *Iftar The food eaten immediately after sunset to break fast. Here are some healthy foods to eat during the Iftar. Dates, 3 to 5, Juice, 1 serving (4 oz.), Vegetable soup with some pasta or graham crackers, 1 cupThe body’s immediate need at the time of Iftar is to get an easily available energy source in the form of glucose for every living cell, particularly the brain and nerve cells. Dates and juices are good sources of sugars. Dates and juice in the above quantity are sufficient to bring low blood glucose levels to normal levels. Juice and soup help maintain water and mineral balance in the body. An unbalanced diet and too many servings of sherbets and sweets with added sugar have been found to be unhealthy. *Sahur (pre-dawn meal) First of all, there is no need to consume excess food at dinner or sahur (the light meal generally eaten about half an hour to one hour before dawn). The body has regulatory mechanisms that activate during fasting. There is efficient utilization of body fat. Basal metabolism slows down during Ramadan fasting. A diet that is less than a normal amount of food intake but balanced is sufficient enough to keep a person healthy and active during the month of Ramadan. Here are some healthy foods to eat during Sahur.  Consume a light sahur. Eat whole wheat or oat cereal or whole wheat bread, 1-2 servings with a cup of milk. Add 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil or any other monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats in a salad or the cereal. Eat 1-2 servings of fruits, as a last item.

Have a blessed Ramadan and an even better Eid!

“No body ever asked what my rapist was wearing….”

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I normally try to steer clear of political angles and politics in general when i write my posts. Though this letter contains a couple of names, i stand by the subject and the earnest plea Kim makes.

Fantastic, to the point and earnest letter written by a friend. Thanks Kim Verma Modi for penning this down. You spoke well. And on behalf of us all.

Subject: Letter to Arvind Sawant, MP, South Mumbai

Dear Arvind-ji,

I hope this finds you well and in good health and spirit. Its been a few months since we met, and I hope your new position is fulfilling and allowing you to do the things you had planned to do for us in Mumbai.

I am writing to you because, to be honest, I feel like i must reach out to someone, to anyone, who has the power to do something, or say something, about the absolutely despicable way Mukesh Singh has portrayed himself and our country to the International media. As you know, Mukesh Singh is one of the convicts in the infamous Nirbhaya case, and he has suggested his victim would not have been killed if she had not fought back against her attackers. He said, “A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy … A decent girl won’t roam around at nine o’clock at night … Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes.”

The views he has voiced convey an underlying hatred the men in this country seem to have for women. What is even more atrocious, is the performance of his lawyer, who has said “If my daughter or sister engaged in pre-marital activities and disgraced herself and allowed herself to lose face and character by doing such things, I would most certainly take this sort of sister or daughter to my farmhouse, and in front of my entire family, I would put petrol on her and set her alight”. Mukesh was a bus driver, but his lawyer is educated and in a position where he is responsible for fighting for justice, not spouting his personal, archaic, horrific views.

Now I believe the government has banned the broadcast of these interviews, which are part of a documentary, India’s Daughter, made by British filmmaker Leslee Udwin, herself a victim, who has said, “My integrity and my objective in making this film is totally honest. I myself have been raped. There is no shame for me; the shame is for the rapists. The film tries to show the disease is not the rapists, the disease is in society.”

As a woman, and as a believer that India can indeed be ‘shining’, I find this appalling display of blatant censorship relating to current, crucial issues, is certainly not reflective of the image we are portraying both globally as well as on home ground, and I feel Mukesh’s lawyers should be prosecuted for inciting hatred and violence in the manner that they have.

I implore you Arvind-ji, to please use the voice you have been given, to oppose this ban, and to condemn the lawyers who have spoken out so shamefully. Why are we trying to hide this film from the nation? The film will be viewed globally anyway – and will shed immense darkness on any hope we have to be able to stand with other leading nations. It will also be available on the internet – surely the powers that be realise that nothing can be kept hidden in todays day. Your own Aditya Thackeray has himself been active in pushing for all night bars and restaurants – surely the Sena doesn’t believe that these establishments will only be frequented by men post 8pm?

I am not sure whether this letter will have any effect, and to be honest, I am not even sure what your personal views are on this subject, but i feel it is imperative that when one feels strongly about something, one should try and make an effort to be heard.

With Warm Personal Regards,
Kim

Now, Imagine if we girls ganged up and spoke about men like we are spoken about…..?

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Sheeshh!

I am not a flower….

Back after a very long time! I have had the most strenuous 2 months. Work wise and personally.

Finally settling down into a comfortable phase i now proudly look forward to playing a part in my latest project.

#WalkTheTalk -an initiative by AWARE, led by Mr Sandhiyan Thelagavathy.

We have come  together to form groups on Whatsapp to simultaneously bring together role models, change makers and even those who need support, on one common platform. Voice an opinion, a thought or start an action.  We welcome change makers from all walks of life to stand with us, regardless of gender, age and sexuality.

Join us. Please! Cos WE are society. And we need to change.

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“I am not a flower and you are not the sun.I do not need you to stay alive”

– Alex Elle

Love-

Neha

“All of Humanity Must Know This”

All of humanity must know this…

True Boots

Syrian women tell us about their farm outside of Aleppo that was bombed Syrian women tell us about their farm outside of Aleppo that was bombed

It’s been almost six months since I visited the border town of Kilis, Turkey, and met with refugees who’d fled the horrific bombings and gunfire of Syria’s civil war. Most of the men, women, and children I met with had lived in Aleppo, Syria’s most populous city and a world heritage site that has been all but destroyed after more than three years of bombings and siege by the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Kilis is about 75 miles from Aleppo, and we watched as refugees poured over the border during the short time we were there. Since then, the violence in Syria has only worsened, and the crisis for refugees even more grave.

Yesterday the United Nations’ World Food Programme announced that it is out of money for Syrian refugee families, just as winter is…

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You are a warrior. Warriors don’t give up. Don’t back out. So pick up your shield and sword and fight.

“If you have survived an abuser and you tried to make things right. If you forgave and you struggled, and even if the expression of your grief and your anger tumbled out at times in too much rage and too many words and actions—- If you spent years hanging on to the concepts of faith, hope and love, even after you knew in your heart that those intangibles, upon which life is formed and sustained, would fail in the end—And especially, if you stood between your children— or anyone— and that abuser, and took the physical, emotional and spiritual pummelling in your stead, then, darling, You are a hero.”

Jenna Brooks