Help! Viren Needs Treatment For Leukemia

7:38 AM

Cancer, the worst nightmare one could have is spreading like an epidemic. I personally have lost some very near and dear ones to it. Right now my own uncles are fighting against it and you never know who is it next. Recently when my dear friend Mousumi lost her battle to this fatal disease I was shocked, scared and devastated all at the same time. She and all my relatives were diagnosed at a very later stage which made the cure rate quite bad for them. I always have thought what if we had got slightest of hint at an early stage...may be now they would have been with us today. It's such a frustrating feeling to just watch without being able to do anything. I know most of you have such similar stories around you. Which makes us bleed in our heart.

Recently Anjali of Annaparabramha has shared one such incident HERE. Her  friend Viren is diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML a type of blood cancer) and needs urgent treatment. but sadly the treatment is not cheap. He needs INR 50,75,000/- (i.e. USD 105,000/- approx.), which is by no means a small amount. any middle class Indian family cannot afford this kind of treatment with their own resources. He needs all our support in raising this amount. All his childhood friends have started a fund drive for him which could be found HERE

I do not know Viren personally but I knew my friend Mousumi who had to leave her daughter at such young age and I dont want Viren's son to suffer the same pain. I am doing my bit and will also request you all to please chip in and save him. 

If you would like to donate for this cause please visit Anjali's blog for more details or check this Facebook page started by his friends. Am also sharing the details below.

If you wish to meet any of his friends in person for this purpose then any of them (mentioned below) would be more than glad to be available to meet you, whenever you find time.

Nikhil Sadanand Wange (Viren's friend since childhood)
More of Viren's friends :
yogesh kanade<>;

Cheques can be accepted in the name of  "Viren Shah"
OR "Tata Memorial Hospital"

You can also donate by wire transfers crediting into

A/C no: 9100 100 3263 7451
A/C holder: Viren Shah
IFSC: UTIB0000328
Name of the Bank: AXIS Bank, Branch- Andheri East

New a/c (Donations only)

Savings Account Number  -  912010010577759
Bank / Branch   -  Axis Bank, UTHALSAR NAKA, THANE
IFSC Code                 - UTIB0000509

Viren's paypal account - 




Narkel-er Niramish Ghugni (Yellow peas curry with Coconut)

11:25 AM

Ghugni or ghuguni is a very popular snack in Bengal, Orissa, Assam and Bihar. There are many versions of ghugni but the basic recipe is to cook boiled yellow peas with common Indian spice mix i.e. onion-ginger-tomato. In my initial days of blogging I had shared one healthy recipe of ghugni but what I dint understand then was before doling out the healthier version one needs to share the basic recipe first. I haven’t changed much yet and today what I am sharing again is the pure vegetarian version (sans onion-garlic) of it. The basic version most probably will have to wait for another year or so. In meantime you can go and check the stories I shared THERE.

We Bengalis have a peculiar habit of cooking a pure vegetarian version of all our favourite dishes. In our quest for doing so we even have many vegetarian versions of goat meat, fish and vegetables. Which we first offer to God and enjoy there after. This no onion-garlic ghugni recipe is also meant for the puja days. Which is often served with soft-puffy luchis for breakfast. Yes this is another great combinations after luchi-alu’r charchari that Bengalis die for.

Cakes cookies n savory goodies

2 Tiered Jungle Cake with Fondant animals and Swiss Meringue Butter cream: All Homemade for the Sonny Boy

12:15 PM

Last weekend we celebrated Sonny boy’s 3rd Birthday. And when we asked what he wanted for his special day he asked for a big cake, which he will take to school and cut with all his friends around. I was too happy to oblige as seldom I get a chance to do an elaborate celebration cake. So I decided on a jungle themed cake and with the guest list in mind it had to be a 2 tiered one. Now if you reside in India you would understand how difficult it is to do something good with cake decorations here. I mind sound like cribbing a lot about this but that’s what it is here. We don’t get any standard product here and when all things are to be homemade, half the fun is gone. Still I wanted to woo the kid who even refused the doodle pro saying he only wants a big cake (though the grand parents got it for him anyway). The cake needed lot of effort and time which I gladly  put in. 
The end result was satisfying and the birthday boy kept on smiling and telling everyone “ei caketa amar jonyo mumum banieche. Amar mumum sab theke bhalo ranna kare”(Mom made this cake for me. She is a very good cook). Guess who was the happiest and proudest of them all????

It was difficult to make the fondant at home as half of the products were unavailable. Dint get glycerine or good shortening. Gel food colours are unheard of so had to make do with liquid colours which is an absolute no-no for fondant making. But still the homemade fondant tastes way better than what they use on the store bought cakes. The icing was super yummy and firm enough to hold all the cake tiers and the fondant animals.


Fulkopi Die Macher Jhol (Light Fish Curry with Vegetables)

11:32 AM

All I want right now is to be a very good mother. Not the goody goody one whose goodness he will love and take advantage of, rather someone who is firm enough to teach him whats good and whats bad and whose goodness he will understand and aodre as a grown up. sounds Confusing??? That's what I am right now.

Ok, I know all mothers, well most mothers (not sure of the moms I read about in novels) wants to be as good a mother as they could. That’s is something that comes to us effortlessly. We love our kids to death and do whatever is possible to make them happy. But sometimes that is not enough and I realized it very recently. No its not an idea that came to me out of the blue but something happened that made me realize that something might be wrong.

Last week little ‘R’ had a function in his pre-school. His teachers gave us some options for his makeover and he wanted to be a kitten or a bunny. It was a very proud moment for us as parents too. Our little one’s first stage performance and we were excited to see him on stage. Everyday after coming from school he would show us the new steps that he learned and we cheered him. On the day of the show the scene was different though. The little bunny looked cute and adorable but don’t know why he dint stick to what he was tought. On stage he did whatever he wanted to, he sat down, he jumped and hopped through the stage. Almost 90% of the kids were quite scared of the big stage and the colourful lights. Most of them stood still through the whole act some of them even started crying. It was good that my son was not scared but what we are worried about is his indiscipline. At home he listens to whatever he is told (most of the time) and everyone around us thinks he is well behaved. He has his moments when he puts his feet down and refuses to do anything but then he is not even 3. we cant expect him to understand everything so well. I am little confused as whether to take this incident seriously or just let it go as a kid’s whim.

Its not like I want to dictate or decide his path of life. All I want him to grow up to a responsible person. I can guide him to the right path but cant force him to be the person I want.Iits not like am threatened by that small incident. But somewhere I feel that its time to pull the socks up. We have to be more consistent with our behavior, the routine and in disciplining him.  While I figure that out here is another light dish for you to enjoy.

If you like fish then you definitely are going to like this. What makes it special is the use of fresh vegetables in this. Predominantly a winter fish where loads of tender cauliflower, new potatoes, fresh juicy tomatoes and coriander leaves are added. I can still remember our excitement as kids when in early winter this dish used to make its first appearance on the dining table. Ma always makes it with the veggies from her backyard. But now that these veggies are available the year around make this light, soupy jhol any time you want. And that’s exactly what I did as a following course for my light spring meal that I shared earlier.


Nim Begun and Sojne danta charchari-A light Spring Meal

11:06 AM

While finally many of you are happy that the chilly winter nights are over and making plans to enjoy spring and summer we actually are grieving for the same. Though spring is considered to be the best time of the year but in our part of the world its not. Spring for us means very dry hot weather where the temperature fluctuates many folds between day and night. The evenings are actually soothing with gentle breeze but the mosquitos make it impossible to go out and enjoy that. As a student I used to love this season as this called for the biggest festival of Santiniketan ‘the Basanto utsav’. But these days all I can worry about the virus borne disease, including the most dreaded one, the chicken pox. What a metamorphosis…Sigh!!!

The worst part is the lightness in the air gives rise to all air borne virus and everyone around us seems to be sneezing and coughing endlessly. Also loss of appetite is another thing to deal with. All we want to have is something light and refreshing which will replenish the loss of water, shield us against disease and revive our appetite. this light meal of Neem begun ( Crispy fried tender leaves of neem and fried eggplant) and shojne data charchari (drumstick curry) is just what we all want right now.

From ancient days Neem or Azadirachta indica has always been known to have antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti pox and ant-inflammatory properties. According to Ayurveda Neem seems to have a certain level of curative capability for almost all diseases. Each and every part of this wonderful tree is used widely in ayurvedic medicines. and during spring time it’s a joy to watch the new tender reddish leaves sprout and glow in the clear sunshine. We Bengalis collect these tender leaves and crispy fry it along with aubergine and eat mixed with rice to get rid of any impurities in our body. We believe any bitter first course will cleanse our palette and enhance our appetite. similarly drumsticks that grow in abundance during this season is said to have anti pox qualities for which we eat a lot of the tender leaves, flowers and fruits of the drumstick trees. This dry drumstick dish is cooked with various other vegetables like aubergine, broad bean, radish and potato in a hot pungent mustard based gravy. There’s no better way to prepare your body for the scorching summer than having these seasonal vegetables. Trust me its tasty too as my soon to be 3 years old son enjoys his meal without puckering his face a lil bit.

Between if you want to take the cleansing and detoxifying idea more seriously then let me share with you another piece of information. As per ayurveda this time of the year is best to aim for a total cleansing of your body through a cleansing diet. Want to know more? See Here.


Mousumi and Miri-Rest in peace my friends

9:24 AM

For the last few days am opening my computer and looking at the blank screen. This has never happened to me before. Everytime am trying to pen down my thoughts, plethora of emotions and memories are overwhelming me. Can’t believe Miri, our dearest Miri of Peppermill blog is no more. More so because I have lost another young friend like her very very recently.

I knew very little about Miri (Raji), that too only through her blogs. Loved reading her well thought posts, practical approach towards foods, easy to follow recipes and intellectual comments. I admired her for all these qualities. Everytime we exchanged comments I found her very sensible and generous. Then I saw her picture on Manisha’s blog I thought Wow! She is gorgeous. Her maturity, elegance, intelligence, grace and beauty all were reflected in her wide smile. She looked so effervescent. Little did I know then that her health issues are so crucial that one day it would take her away. She hardly talked about her health on her blog apart from some passing references. Today she is no more I wish I have read the posts more carefully or have mailed her enquiring about it. But every time I wanted to do so I was deterred by the thought that it would be too interfering. But today I just wish I had done that. She always visited me, read my posts carefully and left a thoughtful comment at the end. Her witty and appreciating comments were something I became used to after this post. But was unaware that she was suffering from such a problem. Its hard to make out from the way she thought, cooked, wrote and made her posts about food that she was not even allowed to eat any food for a whole year. Even from the last one year or so she had to really struggle to eat a few spoonfuls everyday. Her love for food is so generous that when we all aahed and oohed over her pear, beetroot and feta salad and we all complained about how feta cheese is so expensive in our local markets, she generously offered to send some from her local dairy. She hardly knew us and she dint have to do that. But she was Miri. Such an energetic, vivacious and positive person she was that she was never in denial that her time was limited. Rather she made peace with it and made pickles in winter, baked cakes for Christmas with her daughter and carried on life with a very very positive attitude. Now that I get to know her more my respect for her has increased many folds. I admired her then and will admire her my entire life.

Mousumi was a dear real life friend and our friendship goes back to that time when I just started working. On the very first day she welcomed me with her trademarked wide smile. Soon we were part of a big group that still keeps in touch. We bonded over many things and apart from work, good food, shopping. Gossiping, bitching about movie stars were something on which we spent many our Saturdays. This bond became strong over time. We often talked and she loved reading my blog. Three years back when she was diagnosed with cancer I could not believe it. She was so young, her daughter was only two… God cant be that unfair. I was in Bangalore then and on my next visit to Kolkata we all went to see her and she welcomed us with that big smile which somehow made me believe in my heart that everything was well. But it was not. Her condition was deteriorating rapidly and within 2 years she was in bed. I never had the heart to ask her how she was as by that time it was clear what was in store. She never ever discussed anything about her condition. We talked and shared everything under the sun. About our kids, parenting tips, recipes, movies, facebook and everything else but her illness. She delivered facts like she was in hospital or she was having food through her tubes or she was not able to move any of her organs just matter of factly but it left me stunned. Every time we finished the call I burst into tears. But she never did. She was every bit the upbeat and positive person I knew her till her last breadth.

I don’t know how to pay tribute to some one you really love and admire. I also don’t know how to say goodbye but when I look back what pains me most is the fact that both of them lost their mothers to the same condition or illness when they were very very young. They knew how difficult it is to deal with such a great loss at such young age yet they were faced with same situation. As a mother it breaks my heart to even think that I wont be there in my lil one’s growing years and I can imagine how difficult it had been for them to deal with that fact. But I also know they made peace with everything and prepared their family well with love and strength.

Today when they are no more with us and when am finally done with mourning, I realize in my heart that it’s not time yet to say good-bye. They will always live in my heart. Remembering them will always bring a smile and will encourage and inspire me just the way their words have done earlier. As a friend of Miri’s wrote

“… am leaving you with something --
see me, for I will always be near you, and you will always feel me….
….Love does not die, people do.
So, when all that's left of me is love,
Give me away as best you can.”

Rest in peace my friends. 

If you already haven't read about her from her friends please read
Archana's post here
and Nina's post Here.

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