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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

WBB: Soya Moussaka

'Moussaka' means 'moistened' and 'Vegetable Moussaka' is a traditional Greek dish made with lots of vegetables. I changed few ingredients from the original recipe - Soya chunks instead of chickpeas to make it more nutritious and healthy. It is also a nice winter comfort food. Reposting this dish, which I make very often for Rajitha's WBB:Soya event, originally initiated by Nandita of Saffron Trail.

This dish is adapted from "Vegeterian - the best ever recipe collection" by Linda Fraser. It has an awesome collection of vegetarian recipes neatly sub-categorized as soups, salads, main course and side dishes. I got to know about this book when I happen to visit my friend, then I quickly noted down some nice recipes to experiment in my kitchen...:D.



Soya Eggplant Moussaka
--------------------------------

Ingredients:

1 medium Eggplant
2 Tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil or PAM spray
1 cup Spaghetti sauce or tomato puree
1 Onion
1 tbsp chopped green chillies
1 Green Bell Pepper
1 cup toor dal (or any other lentils)
1 tbsp chopped Garlic
1 Bayleaf
200g Soya chuks
3 tbsp of chopped coriander
3 tbsp of low-fat yogurt
1 Egg
3 cups Vegetable stock
1/2 tbsp Garam Masala
1 tbsp Corinader powder
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Step-by-Step Preparation:

1. Sprinkle the eggplant pieces with salt and place in a bowl. Cover and place a weight on top. Let it sit for atleast 30mins, to allow the bitter juices to be extracted.

2. In a pan, boil vegetable stock, lentils and bay leaf, cover and bring to boil and simmer for about 20mins until the lentils are tender but not mushy. Drain thoroughly and keep aside.

3. Soak the soya chunks in warm water for about 5 minutes or until they become soft.

4. Heat little oil in a skillet, add chopped garlic, boiled lentils, Soya chunks, tomatoes, chopped onions, spaghetti sauce(or tomato puree), coriander powder, garam masala and little water. Boil and cover and simmer for 10min. Stir occasionally and keep aside.

5. Preheat oven for 350F.

6. Rinse the Eggplants slices, drain and pat dry. Heat remaining oil in a pan and lightly fry the slices in batches for 4 mins, turning once so both sides are browned on low heat.

7. Arrange a layer of eggplant slices in the bottom of a shallow, oven proof dish or roasting pan then spoon a layer of soya mixture over the top. Continue layers until all the eggplant slices and lentil mixture is used up.

8. If desired, sprinkle some grated Parmesan cheese.

9. Now, beat the low-fat yogurt, egg and salt and pepper together and pour the mixture over the vegetables.

10. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and bubbling.

11. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice for a nice tangy taste and garnish with coriander. Serve immediately. This main course dish usually served with warm fresh bread for a hearty and satisfying meal...:)

Off this Moussaka also goes to What's Cooking Wednesday!.. at Shan's place.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Remembering a Mahatma....

"Just an old man in a loincloth in distant India: Yet when he died, humanity wept."

January 30th, 1948

It was this day in the year 1948 that Mahatma Gandhi, an icon for ahimsa ( non-violence) was assassinated in the capital of India, New Delhi. The tragedy occurred as the gaunt old man walked to a prayer-meeting and was engulfed by one of history's great ironies - a life-long pacifist and promoter of non-violence struck down by an assassin's bullet.

and here I share with you all a story of an eye witness - Vincent Sheean, an American Reporter.

"I got a taxi and went out to Birla House in time for the prayer-meeting. This time I was alone. I stationed my taxi under a tree opposite the gate of Birla House and walked down the drive to the prayer-ground. It was not yet five o'clock and people were still streaming in on foot, in cars and with tongas. As I came on to the prayer-ground at the end of the garden I ran into Bob Stimson, the Delhi correspondent of the B.B.C. We fell into talk and I told him about the journey to Amritsar and what had taken place there. It was unusual to see any representatives of the press at the prayer-meeting; Bob explained that he had submitted some questions to the Mahatma for the B.B.C. and thought he might as well stay for the prayers since he was on the premises. He looked at his watch and said: 'Well, this is strange. Gandhi's late. He's practically never late.'

We both looked at our watches again. It was 5:12 by my watch when Bob said: 'There he is.' We stood near the corner of the wall, on the side of the garden where he was coming, and watched the evening light fall on his shining dark-brown head. He did not walk under the arbor this evening but across the grass, in the open lawn on the other side of the flower-beds. (There was the arbored walk, and a strip of lawn, and a long strip of flower-bed, and then the open lawn.)

It was one of those shining Delhi evenings, not at all warm but alight with the promise of spring. I felt well and happy and grateful to be here. Bob and I stood idly talking, I do not remember about what, and watching the Mahatma advance toward us over the grass, leaning lightly on two of 'the girls,' with two or three other members of his 'family' (family or followers) behind them. I read afterward that he had sandals on his feet but I did not see them. To me it looked as if he walked barefoot on the grass. It was not a warm evening and he was wrapped in homespun shawls. He passed by us on the other side and turned to ascend the four or five brick steps which led to the terrace or prayer-ground.

Here, as usual, there was a clump of people, some of whom were standing and some of whom had gone on their knees or bent low before him. Bob and I turned to watch - we were perhaps ten feet away from the steps-but the clump of people cut off our view of the Mahatma now; he was so small. Then I heard four small, dull, dark explosions. 'What's that?' I said to Bob in sudden horror. 'I don't know,' he said. I remember that he grew pale in an instant. 'Not the Mahatma!' I said, and then I knew.

Inside my own head there occurred a wavelike disturbance which I can only compare to a storm at sea - wind and wave surging tremendously back and forth. I remember all this distinctly; I do not believe that I lost consciousness even for a moment,
although there may have been an instant or two of half-consciousness. I recoiled upon the brick wall and leaned against it, bent almost in two. I felt the consciousness of the Mahatma leave me then-I know of no other way of expressing this: he left me. ...The storm inside my head continued for some little time-minutes, perhaps; I have no way of reckoning.

...lt was during this time, apparently, that many things happened: a whole external series of events took place in my immediate neighborhood - a few yards away - and I was unaware of them. A doctor was found; the police took charge; the body of the Mahatma was, carried away; the crowd melted, perhaps urged to do so by the police. I saw none of this. The last I saw of the Mahatma he was advancing over the grass in the evening light, approaching the steps. When I finally took my fingers out of my mouth and stood up, dry-eyed, there were police and soldiers and not many people, and there was Bob Stimson. He was rather breathless; he had gone somewhere to telephone to the B.B.C. He came with me down the steps to the lawn, where we walked up and down beside the flower-bed for a while. The room with the glass doors and windows, by the rose garden at the end of the arbor, had a crowd of people around it. Many were weeping. The police were endeavoring to make them leave. Bob could not tell me anything except that the Mahatma had been taken inside that room. On the following day he told me that he had seen him carried away and that the khadi which he wore was heavily stained with blood."

[Reproduced from Vincent Sheean's account as appears in: Sheean, Vincent, Lead, Kindly Light (1949); Ashe, Geoffrey, Gandhi (1968)]

Vincent Sheean was an American reporter and author who had covered trouble spots around the world in the years prior to and during World War II. In 1947, Sheean traveled to India and became a disciple of Gandhi in an attempt to find meaning in the violent and disruptive events he had witnessed during his years of reporting.

Source: Eyewitness to History

UPDATE: Who plotted Mahatma's murder?

Royal Foodie Joust: Lentil - Roasted Eggplant Loaf

Royal Foodie Joust is a monthly food carnival hosted by lovely 'The Left Over Queen'. Every month, three ingredients are selected by the previous month's winner and we need to make a special dish for the Joust out of them. Isn't it exciting.



...and this month's ingredients are - Eggplant, Lentils and Cinnamon. I pondered upon what to cook with these for quite a while now. First I thought of some Creamy Lentil Soup or something like Eggplant Rasavangi.. but finally I decided upon experimenting with our standard Lentil Loaf..!

This is the first time that I am making this Lentil Loaf and the verdict given in 'S' words - awesome, mind-blowing, out of this world taste. Oh ya, I was on clouds when he said these..:D.. On a serious note, the loaf indeed came out yummy and the Roasted Eggplants on the top added a very distinct flavor.. making every morsel yummier and tastier. Thanks to RFJ, which pushed me to experiment with such different recipes.

My Lentil Loaf with Roasted Eggplants is adapted by 'Veronica's Veggie Meatloaf' made by lovely Giada De Laurentiis in the Everyday Italian show. I made my own variations to the recipe to give it an Asian ( a.k.a Indian) flavor with the ingredients for the Joust.



Ingredients:

Yellow Lentils (Toor Dal) - 1 cup
Brown Rice (Cooked) - 1.5 cups
Vegetable Broth - 1 can
Eggplant - 1
Corn Fernels - 1/2 cup
Green French Beans - 1/2 cup
Onions (Chopped) 1/2 cup
Tomato (Chopped) - 1 medium sized
Salt - to taste
Whole Wheat Bread (lightly toasted) - 2 slices
Unsalted Butter / Butter Spray ( I used the spray.. less calories)
Green Chillies - 1
Fresh Coriander leaves - few
Green Chilli Sauce - 1 tbsp
Hot and Sour Sauce - 1 tbsp
Eggs - 2
Salt and Black Pepper - to season
Red Chilli powder - 1/2 tbsp
Curry Powder - 1/2 tbsp (optional)
Parmesan Cheese - 1/4 cup
Cinnamon - 1/8 tbsp

Note: There are many additions made by me, some to suit my taste buds and some to meet RFJ ingredients...:))


Preparation:

1. Bring the vegetable broth to boil and cook lentils in it until tender but not too mushy. Drain the excess liquid if necessary.
2. Cook the brown rice in Rice Cooker. (Thats what I did!..For other tips of how to cook fluffy rice: Click here)
3. Now, Heat a flat pan and roast the eggplant ( slit lengthwise)until brown using butter spray.
4. In another wok, take some butter (spray), add in onions, tomatoes, green chillies , beans and corn. Cook for just 2 to 3 mins. Keep aside and Let it cool.
5. Meanwhile, Preheat the oven for 350 deg.
6. In a bowl, mix the lentils, brown rice, onion mixture ( from step 4), eggs, bread, salt, pepper, red chilli powder, curry powder, coriander leaves, green chilli sauce, hot n sour sauce and cinnamon.
7. Spray some butter over a 10 by 4 1/2 by 3-inch loaf pan and evenly spread the above mixture in it. Now, place the roasted eggplants over it. Finally sprinkle some Parmesan cheese.
8. Bake uncovered until the loaf is heated through and the topping is melted and starting to brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes.
9. Slice it up and Serve with Checca sauce.

Its the first time I am participating in Royal Foodie Joust and I must say, I enjoied thoroughly baking this Lentil Loaf.

Chao for now folks. Have a Great week ahead!

~ Siri

Monday, January 28, 2008

Roasted Onion Chutney for JFI

Onion Chutney ( Telugu: Ullipaaya Chutney) is my entry to this month' JFI:Onion hosted by lovely Radhika of Radhi's Kitchen.

To be honest with you all, this is not my recipe. This chutney is one of the favorites of 'S', so he was very picky about the way it should be made. Atlast, I gave him the charge and he made this amazingly looking and tasting Onion Chutney.. Last time I ate, was made by mom couple of years ago. To my surprise, his version was completely different that of my mom's. Hence, all credit for this Onion chutney goes to 'S'. Drumroll please....:))



Ingredients:

Onions - 3 medium size
Red Chillies - 3 or 4
Oil - 1 tbsp
Tomatoes - 1
Green Chillies - 2 or 3
Fresh Coriander leaves - few
Curry Leaves - few
Urad Dal - 1 tbsp
Chana Dal - 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Turmeric - 1/4 tbsp
Peanuts - 2 tbsp
Water - 1/4 cup

P.S: No Mustard seeds as the above ingredients are to be ground to a fine paste, so mustard gives a bitter taste.

Preparation:

1. Heat oil in a wok, add Urad dal, Chana dal, Cumin seeds, Peanuts and Red Chillies. Roast for a while. Thenn add curry leaves and chopped Onion pieces. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes.
2. Then add chopped green chillies and tomatoes. Mix contents well and Cook for few minutes.
3. Add turmeric, salt and then grind the contents with fresh coriander and water till desired consistency. ( coarse or smooth paste).
4. This can be served as a side dish for any snack or also as a yummy spread.



Enjoiii!!

Also check out Onion Chutney made by

Indira
Nupur
VKN of My Dhaba
TBC

Note: To know more about ongoing food events: visit - Events n RoundUps!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

!! Happy Republic India !!



Here are some facts about we, Indians in US of A.
There are 3.22 millions of Indians in USA (1.5% of population). YET,
38% of doctors in USA are Indians.
12% scientists in USA are Indians.
36% of NASA scientists are Indians.
34% of Microsoft employees are Indians.
28% of IBM employees are Indians.
17% of INTEL scientists are Indians.
13% of XEROX employees are Indians.


These facts were recently published in a German magazine, which deals with WORLD HISTORY FACTS ABOUT INDIA.

1. India never invaded any country in her last 1000 years of history.
2. India invented the Number system. Zero was invented by Aryabhatta.
3. The world's first University was established in Takshila in 700BC. More than 10,500 students from all over the world studied more than 60 subjects. The University of Nalanda built in the 4th century BC was one of the greatest achievements of ancient India in the field ! of education.
4. According to the Forbes magazine, Sanskrit is the most suitable language for computer software.
5. Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to humans.
6. Although western media portray modern images of India as poverty striken and underdeveloped through political corruption, India was once the richest empire on earth.
7. The art of navigation was born in the river Sindh 5000 years ago. The very word "Navigation" is derived from the Sanskrit word NAVGATIH.
8. The value of 'pi' was first calculated by Budhayana, and he explained the concept of what is now k! nown as the Pythagorean Theorem. British scholars have last year (1999) officially published that Budhayan's works dates to the 6 th Century which is long before the European mathematicians.
9. Algebra, trigonometry and calculus came from India . Quadratic equations were by Sridharacharya in the 11 th Century; the largest numbers the Greeks and the Romans used were 106 whereas Indians used numbers as big as 10 53.
10. According to the Gemmological Institute of America, up until 1896, India was the only source of diamonds to the world.
11. USA based IEEE has proved what has been a century-old suspicion amongst academics that the pioneer of wireless communication was Professor Jagdeesh Bose and not Marconi.
12. The earliest reservoir and dam for irrigation was built in Saurashtra.
13. Chess was invented in India .
14. Sushruta is the father of surgery. 2600 years ago he and health scientists of his time conducted surgeries like cesareans, cataract, fractures and urinary stones. Usage of anaesthesia was well known in ancient India .
15. When many cultures in the world were only nomadic forest dwellers over 5000 years ago, Indians established Harappan culture in Sindhu Valley ( Indus Valley Civilisation).
16. The place value system, the decimal system was developed in India in 100 BC.


Quotes about India .

We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made.
-- Albert Einstein.

India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend and the great grand mother of tradition.
-- Mark Twain.

If there is one place on the face of earth where all dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India .
-- French scholar Romain Rolland.

India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border.
--Hu Shih
(former Chinese ambassador to USA )

and the saga continues.........




Happy Republic India... JAI HIND!!

Off this post goes to Pooja's Theme of the Week - Oragne, White, Green event..:)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Me Back

Ok, I know.. I was/am on a break from couple of days..

... but.. what to do...



... So, I am back..!!!!

Cya all with lots of yummO recipes soon!


~ Siri

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Will be back after a short break!

!! A SHORT BLOGGING BREAK KA SAMAY HAIN !!



Hey ppl,

I am going for a short blogging break... hmmmmm.. say for couple of months.. will see you all again in mid March .. till then take a good care of yourselves and MISS MEEEEE!!

Chao,

~ Siri


Friday, January 11, 2008

A Quote that changed my life...

Yes, it is a quote that changed me and myself, gave me new determination to fight back!

.... wondering which quote, where did it come from etc etc.. Read on to know more...

I am a regular reader of dear Viji's blog (http://vcuisine.blogspot.com/),( Note: She made her blog private, so not all have the privilege to get to know her..:) ).. and she has this awesome habit of adding thought provoking and inspiring 'quotes' at the end of each post..:)

These days, I am (ok.. I was) in my all time low, where I am struggling so hard to achieve something in life.. that something is to get a 'JOB'...I am putting my 100% to get my wish fulfilled.. but alas... all in vain..:(



Once can imagine, how my mental state would be - depressed, demoralised, broken and almost lost hope... ( Yes, I am taking this too seriously..!)..

Then, on one such gloomy day, I happen to visit Viji's Blog and read Hellen Keller's Quote:

"I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do."

I must have read this quote.. some tens and hundreds of times.. this simple quote gave my hope back, a reassurance that everybody is capable of something.. and his/her day would definitely come.. its just about a patient wait.. Even, to this day.. every single night, before I go to bed, I envision this quote.. this peps me up to such an extent that I give my 200% now .. and firmly believe that I will be successful one day.

and this is my way of saying 'Thanks Viji'... and Love u lots..:))

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Storytime # 3: A Friend In Need ...

Its story time at Siri's Corner from couple of days.. Hope u all are liking them. Most of them were told to us by our grannies, when we were kids...:) I cherish all those sweet memories spent with my grandparents.

Prologue: Do friends always need to be equal in size? Or in strength? What do you think? Well, as it happens, sometimes people – and creatures - that are widely different can be true friends. That is what this story is all about.

Once upon a time there lived a group of mice in a forest. They lived happily and peacefully until something happened to destroy their peace. A group of wild elephants also came to live in the same forest. Now, as a rule all forests have creatures that are both big and small. Although they confront one another and sometimes kill each other, nevertheless all kinds of animals manage to coexist in the same forest. The same might have happened to the mice and the elephants. But unfortunately there was a drought that year. Most of the pools and ditches from which the animals drank dried up. There was only this stream which had a little water.

As all the elephants rushed to the stream whenever they were thirsty they did not bother to look which way they were going. In their mad rush most of the mice got crushed under their feet and their homes were destroyed. The leader of the mice was really worried. He was sure that if things continued the same way very soon there would be no mice left at all! Something had to be done to stop the elephants and soon. But what could they do? The little mice were no match for the huge elephants. So how could they possibly make the elephants listen to them?

At last the leader of the mice had an idea. It was rather daring but it was the only thing to do. The leader went to see the chief of the elephants and said that he had an urgent request.

“You?” cried the elephant chief in surprise looking at the mouse, “what can you possibly have to say to me?”
“Sir, couldn’t you please ask the elephants to take the direct route to the river instead of rushing there anyhow? As they rush by among the trees they tramp on the mice and kill them. Those of us who are lucky enough to escape are rendered homeless. I am sure they don’t intend to kill us. Probably they are not even aware of the damage they cause. That is why I thought of requesting you to speak to them.”
The chief of the elephants gave him a searching look. “I am sure you are right. The elephants are not likely to gain anything by killing mice or destroying their homes. You are far too tiny to be of any use! It is possible that they are not even aware of it.”
“That is what I thought, sir” said the leader of the mouse.
“I shall speak to them and ask them to go by the direct route to the river” said the chief of the elephant, “I think it was brave of you to have come to me, little mouse.”
“Thank you and if there is anything we can ever do to help, we shall do it” said the mouse.

Image Courtesy: Bolokids


The elephant burst out laughing! The mouse who looked so serious was really too funny for words!

“Thanks for the offer” said the elephant looking amused, “though I can’t imagine how a tiny creature like you can possibly help someone as huge as an elephant! But it was nice of you to have said it.”

The elephant chief kept his promise. He told the elephants to be careful and go to the river by another route without hurting the mice. The mice soon breathed in peace and went back to their carefree life. Before long things took an unexpected turn. This time it was the elephants who were in trouble. A band of elephant trappers sneaked into the forest and trapped the elephant in their huge nets. Even the elephant chief was caught unawares. He was really upset and blamed himself bitterly for not being careful enough and for not having warned the others. Darkness had set in and the trappers had gone off to rest for the night. They planned to take away the elephants the next morning.

“Isn’t there anyone who can come to our rescue?” asked the trapped elephants.
“I can’t think of anyone” said the chief shaking his head in despair, “if only there was someone we could turn to!”

Luckily for him the leader of the mice was passing by just then. He was amazed to find all the elephants trapped.

“How did this happen, sir?” he asked the elephant chief.
“We were careless” said the elephant gloomily, “and now we are all caught with no hope of being rescued.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll have you free in a trice” said the leader of the mice as he cut the net with his sharp teeth.
“That would be wonderful” said the elephant chief, “Can you really do it?”
“Of course” said the mouse with confidence, “Wait a while. I’ll go and call the others.”

The leader soon returned with his entire troop of mice and they attacked the nets with vigor. They worked all night and by the time it was morning they had freed all the elephants from the traps.

“I thank you with all my heart” said the leader of the elephants gratefully,
“I did not think that someone so small could help us out of such a dire situation. But now I know that mere size does not matter. A friend in need is a friend indeed!”

And everyone returned home happy.

- by Swapna Dutta


Source: Bolokids

Monday, January 7, 2008

Storytime # 2: Kalidasa's Shakuntalam

Kalidasa is perhaps the most famous poet author from ancient India. His prolific writings are comparable to William Shakespeare's in their sheer canvas, dimension and beauty. His most famous Dramas is Shakuntalam which describes the early life of Shunga dynasty.

It is a romantic tale of a beautiful maiden left in the forest by a celestial nymph Menaka, who came down from Heaven and had a romantic yet brief encounter with a sage Vishwamitra. This lovely maiden is the outcome of this Union. Both the parents leave the baby who is fed b life-giving water gathered from plants by a Swan.

Just then another Sage named Kanva passes by and in his compassion picks up this lovely Child. From that she is raised by Kanva and he names this girl child Shakuntala meaning the one fed by a swan.

Shakuntala grows up to be a breath taking beauty just like her Celestial mother who was an Apsara, the lovely dancing & singing, ever youthful maidens residing in Heaven.

King Udyana sees this innocent forest girl and is smitten. He approaches her and wins her heart. Gives her his Royal seal, his Ring & leaves her in the absence of her foster father.

Another Sage named Durvasa, who is famous for his anger, comes visiting this Ashram.

Shakuntala ignores him as she is lost in the thoughts of her beloved. Sage Durvasa curses her with the following words, "One in whose thoughts she is lost , will soon forget her face."

Shakuntala and her friends implore the sage Durvasa to b kind and take back this curse. He relents and adds that when this person will see some personal object belonging to him, he will remember her face.

Shakuntala and her friends are reassured, thinking that the ring given by King Udayan will keep Shakuntala's memory alive in his heart.

Sage Kanva on his return finds that Shakuntala is pregnant and learns of King Udayana's visit and their marriage vows that took place in his Forest Ashram. So he decides to send Shakuntala to the King at his far away palace.

As Shakuntala crosses the River Ganga she dips her hand in its water to pray & her Ring slides from her finger and a fish swallows the ring ! The Curse comes true when King Udyana fails to recognize his beloved, his wife when she reaches and faces him at his palace.

Heart broken, Shakuntala flees away from there. She gives birth to a handsome
and brave prince, all alone in a forest, surrounded by lions!

Image: "Shakuntala looking back to glimpse King Dushyanta" - Raja Ravi Varma's Painting


After six years King Udayana is out on a hunt and is amazed to see a brave and good looking child playing with lion cubs. The Boy is opening their mouth and counting their teeth! This strange sight fills his heart with wonder and amazement and he asks the boy who he is.

The young Prince replies, "I am Bharat, son of Shakuntala and King Udayana!

Udayana is intrigued and begs the young Bharat to take him to his mother, Shakuntala. He remembers her now. Because a fisher man had caught the big fish and upon cutting the fish's belly had found the magnificent royal ring and had taken it to the Royal court in the hopes of getting a prize for this offering which surely belonged to his King ! As soon as King glanced at his ring, he remembered his tryst with the lovely maiden Shakuntala and their love marriage that had taken place in the hermitage of Sage Kanva.

He also remembers the sad encounter when he refused to recognize Shakuntala when she visited him at his Palace and told him she was bearing his child. King Udayan repents his folly for rejecting her and he vows to seek his beloved.

Today his search is over and he stands face to face with the lovely Shakuntala!

They embrace lovingly and he takes his son Bharat and his beloved wife Shakuntala back with him to his kingdom. They live happily ever after.

India got its name 'Bharat' from the brave prince who was the symbol of the union of true love and went on to become one of the greatest kings ever.

Source: Bolokids

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Storytime # 1: Birbal brings a Princess from Heaven

- A Birbal Story by Minal Saran and G.F. Wear

One day Akbar said to Birbal, ‘You are one of the cleverest men I have ever met; I want you to do something which has never been done before; something which will surprise the whole city.’

After a few moments, Birbal replied: ‘Yes, Sire, I can do what you desire, but first I need some money, and then a year to carry out the work.’

The king agreed to both requests, but told Birbal that it must be something never heard before. He promised him that he would not be punished, whatever it was. Nothing more was said about the matter, and as the king had much to do he soon forgot about it.

A few days later, word came to the king that Birbal was dying. He was much upset at the news, and went to see Birbal himself. He found him in a sad condition and, at his request, agreed to look after his wife and children when he died. Two days later, the king was told that Birbal had died. His enemies were glad, but Akbar was not. He ordered the court to go into mourning for three days.

Several months passed, and one day an excited guard ran into the palace.

‘What is the matter?’ asked Akbar.

‘Sire, Birbal!’ was all the man could say. Before the king could ask him to explain, Birbal himself walked in.

‘Is it really you, Birbal?’

The king and all the courtiers stood up in surprise.

‘Yes, Sire,’ was Birbal’s answer. ‘I died and went to heaven. I was able there to perform some good actions, and in return was allowed to come back to earth to serve you.’

Akbar was very pleased to hear this and ordered a great welcome.

‘Sire, I have brought you a princess of great beauty,’ said Birbal, ‘and some clothes from Heaven; they are lovely.’

‘Bring them here,’ said the king. ‘Why are you waiting?’

‘Oh, Sire,’ replied Birbal, ‘this is no ordinary princess. She has come from heaven. She will have to be invited to the palace; we must all go and bring her back.’


Akbar wanted to see the princess very much, but he was not sure if Birbal was telling the truth, so he thought he would send his Dewan, or chief minister, and some courtiers with Birbal, to find out.

They all went a little way into the forest, when they came to a palace of great beauty; it was red and gold in color. Birbal stopped at the gate.

‘Look at the window on the seventh floor,’ he said. ‘The princess will appear there when I call.’

He called, and everyone waited, but nothing happened. No princess came to the window.

The Dewan thought this joke had gone far enough.

‘What is this, my friend? Where is the princess?’

‘I forgot to tell you,’ said Birbal. ‘She is a heavenly princess. Only those of really good family, whose wives are faithful, and who are pure and honest themselves, can see her. Now look again.’

They looked, and Birbal’s words had their effect. The Dewan did not want anyone to think he was not honest, or that his wife was not true to him, so he said: ‘Oh yes, there she is! What a creature of beauty!’

The other courtiers thought it necessary to say the same. When they all returned to the king, they told him of the beauty of the palace and of the princess in it. Akbar was very pleased, and ordered a big procession to go into the forest. He went first with Birbal.

When the king arrived at the palace of red and gold, he looked at the window pointed out to him by Birbal.

‘There, Sire, there she is, looking down at you,’ said Birbal. Akbar could see no one.

‘Where?’ he asked.

‘There, Sire,’ said Birbal, and he told the king what he had told the Dewan and the courtiers. Akbar also did not want people to think that he was low-born, that he was not honest, or that the queen was not faithful to him, so he pretended to see the princess.

‘Yes, yes,’ he cried. ‘Now I see her. What a beauty!’ and he started to go inside. Birbal stopped him.

‘One moment, Sire. We must first take off our earthly clothes and put on the heavenly ones I shall give you.’ He gave the king some rich clothes. Then he pretended to give the Dewan and the courtiers some also. Thinking that they would be considered not honest if they could not see the clothes, first the Dewan and then the other courtiers pretended to put the ‘heavenly’ clothes on. But first they had to take off the clothes that they were wearing. Most of them stood behind the Dewan, wearing nothing at all and feeling rather ashamed.

Birbal went alone into the palace, then came out looking sad.

‘I am sorry to say, Sire, that the princess does not think that this is the right moment to come out.’

Akbar was not very pleased, but did not wish to anger the princess. ‘We will go back, then,’ he said, and led the procession back to the city. Only Akbar and Birbal were dressed. The others had nothing on.

As they came near the city, the news quickly spread. Some thought the courtiers had gone mad, others that they had been robbed, and various things were said.

At last a small boy cried out, ‘The Dewan is naked! The Dewan is naked!’

Soon other children picked up the cry.

At last one of the courtiers could suffer the shame no longer. He went up to the Dewan and said: ‘I may be low-born, not honest, and my wife may not faithful, but this has gone on too long.’

‘Who do you mean?’ asked the Dewan, careful to show nothing in his voice.

‘This Birbal is making fools of us all,’ was the reply. ‘There are no heavenly clothes, there is no princess either.’

The Dewan at last agreed, and all decided to say what they thought to the king. Birbal decided that the time had come to tell the truth. He spoke to the king immediately.

‘Do you remember about eight months ago telling me to do something which would be strange, never heard of?’

‘I remember, but you died since then.’

‘Today I have done something which no one, not even you, Sire, could do: I have made the Dewan and the courtiers walk naked through the city. No one would have thought this possible. If they are angry with me, I cannot help it. I trust that you, Sire, will protect me.’

But Akbar only laughed. The Dewan and the courtiers walking along naked were certainly something to laugh at!

Source: Bolokids
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