The Best House of All

The Best House of All

When the editors at Pratham Books wrote in for a STEM book about houses, it brought back a flood of memories. My childhood spent tying sheets to chairs, propped up with sticks and cushions dragged in from various corners to create my own “house”. I recall a perfect grass-free muddy park that allowed me to create layouts for houses with a stick dragged through mud and stones to line my boundary wall. I’ve relived all those memories with my own children creating “houses” within our home. Clothes pegs holding up various corners of sheets requisitioned from the linen cupboard, torchlit talks within, stuffed-toy mattresses, collapsing houses, food passed in through the ‘door’, passwords, giggles and laughter – free play at its best. I knew I had to bring this into my book even as I wrote a book for a STEM series. And so while I wrote about the different kinds of houses around the world, my little architect in the book sets about building her house within a house. And just as climate, space, terrain and materials at hand are crucial factors in the shape and form that homes take, so do these influence her creation. Add to this, my childhood plan to become an architect. A plan that got side-tracked onto a different journey with math and an MBA but doesn’t it all work out for the best? I now get to put all that into a book – The Best House of All! A book that I hope will, in addition to giving children know-how on houses, also inspire little minds inclined to this to be architects someday. A story that reminds...
A Crouching Tiger Hidden Zebra cake sort of year-end

A Crouching Tiger Hidden Zebra cake sort of year-end

With two books out in quick successions – Vikram and the Vampire and Princess Easy Pleasy (to reach bookstores soon), the baking bug has been buzzing around. And while I have been baking every now and then over the last few months, my Facebook page has seen evidence of it, this time cookies and cupcakes wouldn’t be enough. I was just back from Bookaroo in Pune after sessions with these books and with the latest History Mystery from earlier in 2015, Razia and the Pesky Presents. A cake was definitely called for. A cake that had never been attempted by me before. I settled down before the telly with my lunch, switched channels scouting for a cooking program that would make me look even more sorrowfully at my simple bowl of yogurt and pomegranate and chanced upon Lorraine Pascale. There she was with her brilliant smile, just starting off on a new recipe – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Zebra cake. I was sold at the name. THIS! This is what I would bake! Something that lived up to the joy of new books. A fitting nod to my husband’s love for martial art movies and his multi-prowess, kung-fu like support at my readings. A nod also to Princess Easy Pleasy’s travels through much of South East Asia in the new picture book. And a sure winner with the kids if it actually turned out stripy when cut. Woo hoo! Take a look! Not bad, I say. As I set off for my winter break, tremendously pleased with how the past year turned out, here’s a wish for you: May 2016...
Maharaja Moochh cupcakes!

Maharaja Moochh cupcakes!

Look what I rediscovered as I was browsing through the Icky, Yucky, Mucky blog that was started when my first book released! Wonderful (if I may say so myself) Maharaja Moochh cupcakes that I had created back then. Inspired at the time by Maharaja Icky, they fit the role of Vandana Bist’s portrayal of Akbar in Akbar and the Tricky Traitor rather well! In fact, since many of our maharaja’s had moustaches of all forms, moochh cupcakes can quite easily work for the entire History-Mystery series! As you scroll down to take a look, for those who are cooking and baking inclined, here is a idea for your next food creation. In Mauryan times, brightly coloured beards were a fashion statement amongst men. How about trying out a cupcake-la-beard? Please share photographs if you do try. Take a look at Akbar’s and Maharaja Icky’s moustaches on the book covers. Aren’t they wonderfully full and perfectly curled? The boys were thrilled to munch away on the Maharaja’s moustaches. Back then, the girls decided to do a messier version of fairy cupcakes till we could get around to a nibbly Maharani cupcake. A closer look revealed that those crescent things on top could well be Maharani Yucky’s nibbled off nails instead of fairy wings! Share...
A curious connection …

A curious connection …

My first post in 2014, as an apple crumble sits baking in the oven. Happy new year! I grew up in a home that on most days had the smell of a freshly baked cake wafting through it. Gooey brownies, stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth fudge and cinnamon-ey apple pies vied for our undivided attention with peach crumbles, tarts and jammy sponges. My father’s fast growing pot belly was testament to the awesomeness of the goods prepared by my mother. Surrounded by all this culinary greatness, I hadn’t till the time I got married, really ever cooked. I could make tea and a frothy cup of coffee. The only dish I could claim to have ever put together was a chicken curry. Turns out, I decided to marry a vegetarian. My mother handed me a cookbook as a part of my wedding present – Cooking for brides, bachelors and those who hate cooking by Rohini Singh. A life saver if ever there was one, as I struggled with curries in my little apartment in New York in the days of no skype and limited connectivity to ma. Once my mother gauged that I had it in me to feed others without possibly poisoning them, she handed over what can only be described as The Most Marvelously Magical Treasure Trove of Baking Recipes. Here then was the world of cakes and pies and more such revealed. Did I do anything much with it? Well, just a little fiddle here and a tiny fiddle there, every now and then. That is till I began writing. So here is the rather curious connection. The moment I...