July 25, 2014

Banana bread infused with rum soaked sultanas

Been a while since I did some baking, and when I saw a banana bread recipe on Nigella Lawson's website, I thought this would be perfect for a weekend! And I had some rum sitting about too which I was thinking of using up lest I start using it in other ways ;) Also, added to that I had some bananas which no one seemed to be interested in consuming!

Banana chocolate bread with rum soaked sultanas

So, that was what pretty much lead to this bread, and the chocolate was something I added just to on a whim, which I thought would be the perfect combination for the liquor.
Banana chocolate bread with rum soaked sultanas

Sultanas - 2/3 cup
Dark rum - 5 tbsp
Flour - 1 1/4 cup
Baking Powder - 2 tsp
Baking Soda - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Cocoa powder - 1 tbsp
Unsalted butter (melted)- 9 tbsp
Superfine sugar - 3/4 cup
Eggs - 2
Vanilla Extract - 1 tsp
Very ripe banana (mashed) - 2 large
Chopped walnuts (optional) - 1/3 cup

  1. Pour the rum over the sultanas in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from fire and keep covered for about an hour. This helps the sultanas soak in all the rum and distend a little. After an hour, drain the remaining rum and keep aside the sultanas.
  2. Preheat the oven to 170 C.
  3. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt together. 
  4. In a separate bowl, melt the butter, add sugar and beat well. Add eggs and vanilla extract to this mixture. Next add the mashed bananas and then the soaked raisins, followed by the chopped walnuts.
  5. Add the sifted flour mixture to the wet ingredients and fold it in.
  6. Pour this mixture into a greased loaf tin  and bake at 170 C for about 40-60 mins. A tester will come clean, on being completely baked.
If you do plan to make it, I must add, it tastes heavenly, and the rum is not that over powering that you would think of opting out. Try it... its a great flavour!

July 24, 2014

Book Review: Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer

Set in Iran during the uprising, when being against the uprising was a sure way to the gallows. A man is picked up by the militants and thrown into the prison. His wife awaits for his return, his daughter does not know what is happening. His son lives across the ocean in the U.S trying to study an make ends meet with the money sent by his father.
This is a book which had so much to offer with such diverse characters and locations, did not, in my opinion, pick up to its true potential. It does not draw on the culture of Iran or the Jewish customs. I felt I was reading a story about the insurgents, or militants, and their outlook which was affecting a family.

I had such great expectations from the book, especially after I read the NY Times review of the book and so on. But, I did not see this book leaving me with a wonderful feeling of having read something beautiful. There was little about the place, and maybe it is that I was expecting more historic references as the book dealt with the difficult times when the family was looking to leave Tehran and make an escape away from the madness.

Most of the book is in third person, and the most effective prose all lies in the conversations Shirin, the daughter has with her mother and her friend. Her feelings and fears have been very nicely articulated, and how she at her age believes how the universe functions, and how she can cause harm to her parents by her innocent attempts to help. One of the interesting bits was the feeling and life led by Parvin, the son who is studying architecture in New York, living as a paying guest with a Hasidic family, and does seem to like the daughter of the family, though he is unsure how the family will accept his non - religious ways.

All said and done, I think this book lacked the punch, which I was very much expecting considering the setting and the time period of the plot.

Rating: 2.5/5

July 18, 2014


Been 2 months since my last update, so thought I should get to it, though I have just 2 more books to add to the list. At this rate, I truly wonder whether I shall get done with all the squares... 10 done of the 25

A book with a number in the title: The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency
A book with a blue cover: And the mountains echoed
A book by a female author: C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton
A book with a mystery: D is for Deadbeat

The second book in a series: River of Smoke (Ibis Trilogy)  (*this can ideally be for a book with more than 500 pages too. Let me see if I manage to read something else by year end for that)
A book with a mystery: Tides of Memory by Sydney Sheldon ( that is in memory of my school time forbidden mystery ;) )
A book your friend loves: Calligrapher's Daughter by Eugenia Kim
A book which is more than 10 years old: The House of Kanooru by Kuvempu
Currently Reading:
A book which I heard of online: Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer

To be read
A book at the bottom of the to be read pile: Room by Emma Donoghue
A book set in another continent: Still Alice by Lisa Genova

July 16, 2014

Book Review: The House of Kanooru by Kuvempu

When we can gone to Thirthahalli, little did I know that I would come back with a book which would surely show me a life which is far beyond what I would have imagined. The House of Kanooru by Kuvempu, was a pick from Kuvempu's house which the State of Karnataka has turned into a historic museum. It housed many artifacts, books, articles of daily use which I remember being used by my grandmother! Things which I never thought I would see again were the items on display. And I had a strong urge to buy something from there as a memorabilia. And this book is what caught my eye.

Written by Kuvempu himself, and with a introduction by Girish Karnad. This was made into a movie by Girish Karnad, called Kanooru Heggadithi in the year 1999. He acted, directed and wrote the screenplay for this movie, and this movie won the National Film Award for the Best feature film in 2000.

Based around the Kanooru family, two brothers and their love for a girl. The ancestral property which plays as the stage for all that transcribes through a period of 10 years. The seasons change, the people age and children grow up and marry, but some of the smaller things in life such as family, love and respect stay on forever!

The language of the book, being a translation, works to be not that smooth, and at times you can see the Indian speaking style being translated as is in English. This does get a little while getting used to, but nevertheless it was a wonderful read. It narrates the life of villagers and farmers and their seamless association with nature and all that is available around them. I was left many times wondering why didn't I think of all these things which one could do.

The story is predictable and meanders around the main characters and their life. There are many small tit bits which are woven in to strengthen the characters and give depth to the narration. But, overall, I think this is a book for the writing and the clear picture it portrays of the life in the country. The story shows the feudal nature of life and at times the faces people assume with power, poverty, money and loss.

Rating: 3.5/5