October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!!

With so many people affected by disastrous Hurricane Sandy, here's sending loads of prayers for safety to all my East coast friends and Wishing a very Happy Halloween. :-)

Stay safe folks. This too shall pass!

On an another note, the kids of Vaidehi Ashram had a wonderful trip to Shirdi and near by places and are back in Hyderabad. I will post some photographs in few days. Thanks all who helped me to make their wish a beautiful reality.

Inspired by many bloggers throughout the world, I have taken up the NaBloPoMo 2012 challenge - to post everyday of this month. Please wish me all luck. :-)

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October 20, 2012

Vaidehi Ashram Kids and their Shirdi Trip Details...

{Updated on November 15th 2012} Shirdi Trip Photographs Part 1
Located in a quaint colony here in Hyderabad, until last year, there were only few handful of people along with 100+ orphan kids associated with the Vaidehi Ashram. Now, things have a changed, a lot. Since the day Vaidehi Ashram has been mentioned on this blog for the first time, many many generous souls have joined the ashram community. Its now a big, virtual family where each one of us have pledged to help out those needy girls and strive to give them a better life. I can't thank enough those who helped me in bringing joy and happiness into their lives. Thank you in lending a helping hand (even now, every single day through your numerous calls and emails about what you can do for the ashram) and for believing in the notion that- the ashram kids too deserve to see their aspirations fulfilled in their lives, just like any of us. :-)

Welcome to Vaidehi Ashram
Now, coming to some super exciting news. Remember, this post where I asked for your help to make their wish (to visit Shridi for Dussehra) a reality. Well, I am ecstatic to let you all know that - not only we collected the necessary amount in less than 48 hours, the travel company has offered an attractive package where the children will be touring not only Shirdi but a bunch of other places as well. How cool is that!!. It is no longer a day trip, it evolved itself into a week long trip. About 50 girls (who are studying from 7th standard to college) along with 3 ashram wardens and 6 committee members (59 in total) will be joining this trip.

"The Bags are ready. Food packed. The kids are all set to go, tomorrow! "

Here is their brief itinerary of upcoming trip to Shirdi + nearby places:

21st October (evening) - Start off from Hyderabad to Tuljapur.

22nd October - Tuljapur Darshan and Pandaripur night halt.

23rd October - Pandaripur Darshan & Padmayuham, Sheni Signapur with night halt at Trimbakeshwar.

24th October - Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple Darshan, Nasik Darshan, Mukthi Dham and night halt at Shirdi.

25th October - Full day at Shirdi with night halt.

26th October - Ellora Grishneshwar Temple & Ellora Caves, Kuldabad, Doltabad Fort, Aurangabad Panchakki & Bibika Magbora (Mini Taj Mahal)

27th October - Ajantha Caves, Honda Nagnath Darshan with night halt at Basara.

28th October - Basara Saraswathi Goddess Darshan and reach Hyderabad by evening 7 pm.

A total of 1,21,393 Rupees has been collected during the fund drive last week and am happy to let you all know that the entire amount has been handed over to the ashram authorities.

Here is the breakup of the costs -

--> Transportation - 40,000 Rs (in the form two cheques directly given to "Sri Venkateshwara Travels) + 33,000 Rupees (for various toll taxes & othere travel related expenses along the way etc)
--> Food - 20,000 Rupees donated by Lata Raja, sent directly to Ashram account.
--> Accommodation + Miscellaneous costs for medicines, blankets etc - 28,393 Rupees

I visited the ashram today to see how the preparations were going on. Below are few photographs I clicked while I was there. Some of the older kids have promised me to take loads of pictures during their trip. I will post them once they are back. Stay tuned. :-D

common medicines, in case needed.

its quite cold these days, hence few blankets to wrap on.

buckets  & mugs

few munchies - chudwa and rava laddoo (made in ashram kitchen) for the trip.

Some of the girls, wardens and committee members who will be going to this trip. (except for the little girl on right side)

until next time,

October 7, 2012

{Help} to make Vaidehi Ashram kids wish a reality!


Note: Here are the details of their Shirdi trip. Thanks to each of them who donated generously for the cause. Photographs taken during the trip will shared shortly on the blog.

{Updated on November 15th 2012Shirdi Trip Photographs Part 1

"Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song..." ~ Plato 

Back in February this year, the first ever Fund Drive for the Vaidehi Ashram kids was organised. Thanks to the overwhelming response (~ Rs 3,20,107 collected), we managed to pay their school fees for 5 months, bring loads of groceries for 2 months and buy them some new shoes as well. (Click here for all the details about how the funds are being disbursed.) They thanked all of us profusely every single time they received a cheque. The remaining amount of 55,743 Rupees is planned for groceries for the month of October. I will keep you posted and publish the details pretty soon.

Few days back, when I visited the ashram to donate Rs 10,600 ($200) on behalf of my dear friend, Rads many kids expressed their desire to visit Shirdi for this year's Dussehra. When I inquired about it with mataji, the ashram warden, she said yes, they would really want to take the girls but they are in look out for sponsors who can help them for the trip to happen.

There are about 50 kids at Vaidehi Ashram who study from class 6th to 10th class. Many have not seen the world beyond the four walls of the ashram either because their parents have abandoned them or left them orphaned. Almost all the girls in the ashram are trying to build a new world for themselves with whatever emotional and financial support they receive from people like us, the donors who show their generosity in the form of food, books, clothes or just few minutes of kind, encouraging words. "Everything will be alright", I say every time I see kids who cry for their families. "Life is gonna be great for them" I think and silently pray in my heart.

Coming to the logistics, it will cost around Rupess 70,000 for travel and accommodation (they will be staying in the satrams (cheap, affordable housing) provided by the Shirdi Devastanam) for all the 50 kids. Looking at the little eager faces around me, I wanted to help and since its quite a big amount for one person to bear, I was hoping if you guys will help me as well. Hence this mini fund drive, with a mission to collect $1350 in 4 days.

I might not succeed completely, but at least I can try. Try to use this blog as a platform to reach out to generous souls out there who are interested to join me in this cause.

If you would like to donate in Rupees - Please send an email to info(dot)siri(at)gmail.com for the bank account details where you can do a direct deposit and participate in the fund drive.

Spread the word. Please share about this fund drive on your blogs, with your friends & family who might be interested. Please feel free to use any images and information posted in the Ashram posts to make your voice heard. Any help in any form in making this event a success is very much appreciated. :-).

Vaidehi Ashram posts previous published - 

Just like before, I created a ChipIn widget to make this things easier. But this time we have a limit of $1350. That's how much we need in just 4 days, as the ashram authorities have to pay the travel company in advance. Click the "Copy" button on the corresponding widget and paste it on your blog sidebars so that your readers can participate as well. If you have any questions, please feel free to send an email.

Will you join me in spreading joy and bringing few innocent smiles this festive season? Any little amount right from $1 will help me get closer the $1350 target. Just click the ChipIn button above and it will direct you to the payment page (via Paypal or Credit Card). Once the donation process is completed, please forward your payment confirmation message to info(dot)siri(at)gmail.com. As soon as I receive your payment, I will send you a personal thank you note which is a confirmation about your donation.

"There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle."
~ Albert Einstein 

..and I think fulfilling the wish of those 50 girls in whatever way we can is a miracle in itself. Let's join hands to make their tiny wish a reality :-) What say?

Fund Drive Contributors List

Note to Contributors: Within 24 hours, if you don't find your name in the below list or regarding any discrepancy with the details mentioned against your name, please do write to me or leave a comment.  Thanks and Apologies in advance. :-)


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October 4, 2012

Navadhanya Sundal (9 Bean Salad) | Navratri Vrat | Dussehra Fasting Recipe


Time flies. literally.

It feels like just yesterday I posted my step by step Sabudana Khichdi recipe with an intention to master it and proudly share with you all. (I had quite a few disasters with this dish before). Well, that's happened for last Dussehra. This year, things have changed quite a bit on personal front - am a new city, living with in laws and enjoying the pleasures of having parents two lanes away. :-)

With just 10 days away for Dussehra festival (its on October 16th 2012), am sure you all are gearing up to be in a festive mood, like me.. Like last year, am planning to post some of the very popular recipes especially made during this festive season in coming few days.

Here is a quintessential Sundal recipe. - Navadhanya Sundal, which is super easy to make and super healthy to eat otherwise. Enjoy!

Check out previously posted Dussehra Recipes:

Sweet Corn Sundal 
Sabudana/Sago/Tapioca Khichdi
Jeera Aloo 
Sojjappalu | Kesari Stuffed Poori | Sojja Poorilu (Step by Step Recipe)
2-minute Pineapple Dessert
Dates and Sesame Poornam Boorelu
Nagori Poori with Paneer Korma 
Mixed Vegetable Korma
Dussehra Sambaralu: Aloo Pulao, Palak-Methi Paneer, Carrot Halwa

Recipe for Navadhanya Sundal (9 Bean Salad)


2 cups in total i.e few tbsp each of any 9 kinds of beans (legumes) I used:

red kidney beans (rajma)
raw peanuts
dried chickpeas
black eyed peas
dried green peas
whole green moong dal
whole black urad dal (sabut urad)
pinto beans
dried field beans (lilva)

1/2 cup fresh coconut, grated
few curry leaves
2 green chillies, slit in the middle
2 tsp of oil
2 tsp mustard seeds
salt - to taste
1/2 lemon juice


1. Wash, rinse and then Soak all the beans together in a bowl overnight.

2. Drain water and place them in a pressure cooker. Add water until beans are immersed and cook them until slightly soft (not too mushy) for 2-3 whistles.

3. Drain and keep the cooked beans aside.

4. Heat oil in a kadai and add mustard seeds with green chillies and curry leaves. Once they start to splutter, add the beans. Mix everything. After 4-5 minutes, season with salt. Turn off the heat and add lemon juice.

5. Transfer in a serving bowl and top with grated fresh coconut. Simple and Delicious!

until next time,

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October 2, 2012

Dried Blueberry and Banana Muffins- Step by Step Recipe

What's with this rain, I say? Not one evening went by since past one week where we had a clear sky after 6pm. and the weather forecast says the situation will not change for next 24 hours. It's not like I detest rain. Don't get me wrong. But, an overdose of anything will get on your nerves by some point.

...and I am at that point!!.

To pep myself up, I wanted something that can be made quickly, grab a coffee and eat in peace. What else other than "muffins" that perfectly fit the bill. :-) Just combine few ingredients that are commonly found in pantry, mix, pour and bake. In less than half hour, you have a fresh batch of muffins ready to be devoured. These are THE most enticing food when its raining or when I am craving to have something quick.

So, next time when it rains, make these Dried Blueberry and Banana Muffins - soft & cake-y from inside and light golden brown crumb with a subtle banana flavor and succulent blueberries to bite into. Enjoy!

Recipe: Dried Blueberry and Banana Muffins

Adapted from Star Tribune

Makes around 9 normal sized muffins


4 tbsp (1/2 stick butter), at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 ripe banana, mashed (~ 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup milk
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 cup dried blueberries (fresh or frozen works too)


Step 1: In a medium bowl cream butter and sugar (with an electric mixer or hand). Add egg. Mix in bananas and milk.

Step 2: Sift together - flour, baking powder and ground cinnamon. Carefully fold in blueberries. If you are using frozen blueberries, fold them while they are still frozen or they will turn the batter purple. Dried blueberries do not need to be reconstituted before they are added.

Step 3: Fold (flour + blueberry mixture) into banana mixture carefully, only until the batter is moist.

Note: Do not overmix.

Step 4: Preheat oven to 375 F or 190 C. I used silicone muffin cups with a paper cup inside. If you are using a muffin pan, grease lightly with butter. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling cups until 3/4ths. Top with one or two blueberries or chocolate sprinkles. Bake for 10-15 minutes until muffins are light golden brown. When a tooth pick inserted in the middle, it should come out clean.

Let them cool for 5 minutes in the muffin cups, then transfer to a cooling rack. Serve for breakfast, brunch or just as a snack. You really don't need a reason and specific time to enjoy a fresh home-made muffin. Isn't it.

Storage: Tightly wrap each muffin in a plastic wrap and store in an air tight container. Since it has banana, its recommended to consume these within few days.

until next time,

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