No Bake Carrot Cake

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Foreign Returned. Even now, some of the matrimonial ads in India use this phrase as a qualification of the prospective bride or groom. The crème de la crème of the society get to visit "the foreign", and it is something to be proud of. उनके फॉरिन मे बहोट कनेक्षन्स हेई - He has a lot of connections in "foreign". English has also been a status symbol in India, I am sure the roots lie somewhere in the British ruling India a few decades ago and how only the elite got to mingle with the white folks. Needless to say, I was enchanted by everything related to this "foreign" culture as a kid growing up in India. My mom worked as a librarian and she would bring books and magazines for me to read. … [Read more...]

Chocolate Truffles

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I don't know if we each have a destiny, or if we're all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze. But I think maybe it's both. Maybe both are happening at the same time. - Forrest Gump When my path crossed with Anup's 20 years ago at a high school in India, I was floating around like a feather in the wind. I was a carefree teenager who didn't know what love was. And yet, love was waiting around the corner for me; my destiny was finding me. Some might scoff at me calling Anup my destiny, but I am glad that I was crazy enough to jump in with both feet in the ocean of love that has swept me away and taken me places I had never dreamed of! What is it to be in love? Where do "I" … [Read more...]

Almond and Coconut Truffles

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Our condo is right across from the Metropolis at Metrotown mall, simply "Metrotown" to the Vancouverites. Wikipedia tells me that Metrotown is the largest mall in British Columbia and the second largest mall in Canada. What I don't need Wikipedia to tell me is that the mall is a zoo around this time of the year. This zoo has all kinds of animals. The Cheetahs who move from one store to the next at dizzying pace, the cute looking Chihuahuas who defend their territory with all their might and the sly jungle cats who will steal your cart - with your stuff in it. Anup and I, we feel like lost puppies when we visit the mall around this time of the year. Remembering each individual that you … [Read more...]

Chai Spiced Pumpkin Crumb Cake

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"Where are you from?" A harmless question, no doubt. But the question is enough to throw Anup and I for a loop. The conversation turns equally painful for the person who asked the question. While he or she might be just making smalltalk; they now have to hear us yap about how we are originally from India, went to grad schools in New York and Texas, lived in California for about a year before moving to Florida and then decided to move to Vancouver. Phew! The brave ones try to keep the conversation going and ask, "So is Vancouver home now?" No, most of our family is in India so we might decide to move back there. But we love the ocean too and have been itching to travel to the Caribbean … [Read more...]

Chocolate Tart

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I was reading the statistics about vegetarianism and I wasn't surprised that India had the lowest rate of meat consumption in the world. India is the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism - the most prominent religions advocating vegetarianism. I grew up in a vegetarian family and didn't eat any meat till I was in my 20s, well after I married Anup. Eating meat was such a foreign concept to us; we didn't even know people who ate meat. Once every winter, when the weather got cold enough and when the stars were perfectly aligned, my dad would ask my mom to make omelettes at home. Omelette making was a covert operation because god forbid if our equally strict vegetarian neighbors found … [Read more...]

Quinoa and Almond Flour Cake

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I have been trying to jump start my workout and healthy eating habits after my break in Toronto. The first couple of days were the hardest. I felt like the ice creams and cakes I ate on my vacation were literally padded to my legs making it hard for me to move! I am finally over that hump and doing regular weight training at the gym. I like to end my weight training sessions with a high intensity cardio routine; 8-10 minutes of that last hurrah that jacks up your heart rate and gets you sweating hard. I was recently reading an interview of Mark Harari, a personal trainer. In the interview, he talked about his secret weapon, a routine he calls "The 666 Devil Run". You basically run on a 6 … [Read more...]

Vegan Ice Cream with Papaya and Coconut Milk

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Anup and I went for a run on our favorite trail a couple of days back and we actually got a bit of color on us! It finally feels like we need to shift our focus from beating the cold weather to beating the heat. Compared to India, we certainly have more tools and resources available to beat the weather. It's almost unfair that we get to sit in our air-conditioned homes all day and complain about the heat outside! Summers in India can be lethal, in the literal sense of the word. I looked up the temperatures today in my hometown Vadodara, and its around 108°F. That's almost 40°F more than in Vancouver. And unlike us, most people there will have to beat that temperature without … [Read more...]

Easy Dessert Recipe – Yogurt Cardamom Tart

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Ideas are like pizza dough, made to be tossed around. - Anna Quindlen I compare creative cooking to painting. If you give a blank canvas and paint to a few different people, the end result is certainly going to look different for everyone. The same applies to cooking; all of us at the culinary school would start with the same ingredients, but the final dishes we all came up with reflected who we were as individuals. Towards the end of the program, we could tell who had cooked what just by looking at the plate! Isn't it beautiful that we all get to express ourselves in a creative way everyday, and put ourselves on a plate? All cooks are like kids with crayons! Traditional Indian … [Read more...]

Orange Marmalade Hand Pies

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“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” ― Aristotle I envy the people who are not afraid of looking like a fool. Anup is one of those people. If he has a new thought or idea, the first thing he wants to do is share it with people. He can take rejection in a stride. It's not that he is just unafraid of rejection, it is as if he is not even aware that he is being rejected. That to me is a blissful state of mind. I have seen him celebrate his failures. "Remember that time I wanted to buy a yacht, hire doctors to work on it and market the service as a vacation at a hospital? Remember that?" I on the other hand, have struggled with fear of rejection for as long as I … [Read more...]

Vegan Dessert – Chocolate Mousse with Sweet Potato

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"Dating" is a foreign concept in India. I was looking up the literal meaning of dating and came across this on wikipedia: While the term dating has many meanings, the most common refers to a trial period in which two people explore whether to take the relationship further towards a more permanent relationship. "Trial Period", you say? No wonder then "dating" didn't take off in the land of arranged marriages! There are no trial periods - either you want to marry a girl or you don't. Okay, I know I am being a bit harsh here. The concept of dating has indeed started in the metros in India. But for the most part, even now, a guy and a girl cannot publicly admit their liking for each other. … [Read more...]