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Fragrant Banarasi Pilau Recipe

Banaras or Kasi or Varanasi---Religious Pilgrimage City on the Holy River Ganges

Banaras (also Kasi or Varanasi) is a tirtha, a religious pilgrimage city on the sacred Ganges River in northern India. Pilgrims come from all over India to cleanse in the river at Banaras.

Banaras is the most distinguished and consecrated of the seven ancient holy cities of India, stationed on the west bank of the Ganga (Ganges) in modern day Uttar Pradesh in India.

Lionized in numerous Hindu texts, it is the emphasis of a whole series of homologies which at the same time place it at the center of the world, make it the complete cosmos and position it as the ford or doorway to heaven or liberation (moksha). This last transition is thought to be ensured by dying there—the explicit aim of many ageing and sickly pilgrims. Theoretically, the entire city may consequently be viewed as one great cosmic cremation ground.

Banaras is also an ageless center of long-established Sanskrit learning, since 1916 Varanasi has been home to what is now the biggest residential university in India, Benares Hindu University.

Ingredients for Banarasi Pilau

  • Fragrant Banarasi Pilau Vegetarian Recipe 1.25 cups long grain basmati rice
  • 3 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup peas, thawed if frozen
  • 3/4 cup carrots, cut into small cubes (about 2 carrots)
  • 2.5 cups hot water
  • 2 strands saffron
  • 3/4 tsp salt, to taste
  • 2 tsp nuts, such as pistachios or cashews, sliced

Procedure for Banarasi Pilau

  1. Wash the rice in several changes of warm water and leave to soak in cold water for half an hour. Drain in a sieve.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy pan and add the cumin seeds, cloves, green cardamom pods, bay leaves
  3. After about two minutes add the rice and stir gently on medium heat.
  4. When all the grains are coated with oil) this usually takes three minutes, add the peas and carrots and pour the hot water. Add the saffron and salt. Stir and adjust the salt if necessary before leaving to cook uncovered on medium heat for 10 minutes. When most of the water has been absorbed, cover, lower the heat and continue cooking for a further 8-10 minutes.
  5. Fluff up the rice with a fork prior to serving.
  6. Sprinkle over the sliced nuts and serve piping hot
Posted in Hobbies and Pursuits

Traditional Recipe: Baingan Aloo (Potato-Eggplant Indian Curry)

Baingan Aloo - Recipe for Potato-Eggplant Indian Curry

The simple and yet so scrumptious Aloo baingan sabji is a delicately spiced up Indian vegetarian recipe with diced aloo or potatoes stir fried with chopped baigan or brinjals. Aloo Baingan is an easy to make dish from North India. Eggplant and potato make for a fantastic combo and when roasted together in a shallow pan. Serve with bread or rice.


  1. 3/4 cup (170 ml) new potatoes, cut in half (1 small potato)
  2. 2 tsp (30 ml) vegetable oil
  3. 1 tsp / 5 ml black mustard seeds
  4. 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) cumin seeds
  5. 1 clove garlic, crushed
  6. 2 tsp (30 ml) Patak’s Madras Curry Paste
  7. 1.25 cups (300 ml) tomatoes, chopped (about 2 tomatoes)
  8. 1 cup (230 ml) eggplants, diced (about 1/4 eggplant)
  9. Salt, to taste
  10. 1 teaspoon (5 ml) sugar
  11. 1 tsp (1 15 ml) cilantro, chopped
  12. 1 tsp (5 ml) shredded coconut to garnish


  1. Patak's Madras Curry Paste In a pan of boiling water, cook the new potatoes for 15 minutes, until they are almost cooked trough yet give some resistance when pierced with a fork. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds and the cumin seeds. When they begin to crackle, add the garlic and Patak’s Madras Curry Paste. Cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes and bring to the boil.
  4. Add the aubergines (eggplants) and potatoes and cook, covered at a simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add salt to taste and stire in the sugar.
  5. Serve garnished with cilantro and shredded coconut.


  • Aubergines (eggplants) begin to discolor once cut so put them in a bowl of cold water with a squeeze of lemon juice
Posted in Hobbies and Pursuits

Charlie Munger in Praise of Multidisciplinary Thinking

A multidisciplinary approach involves drawing appropriately from multiple disciplines to redefine problems outside of normal boundaries and reach solutions based on a new understanding of complex situations.

'Charlie Munger The Complete Investor' by Tren Griffin (ISBN 023117098X) From ‘Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor’ by Tren Griffin

No one can know everything, but you can work to understand the big important models in each discipline at a basic level so they can collectively add value in a decision-making process. Simply put, Munger believes that people who think very broadly and understand many different models from many different disciplines make better decisions and are therefore better investors.

Multidisciplinary thinking offers a schema or a philosophical template within which thinkers can find an intellectual connectedness to decompartmentalize their approach and face the new intellectual horizons with a broader perspective. Single disciplines are too narrow a perspective regarding many phenomena.

Human thought, as it has evolved in detached disciplines, and the physical systems within which we live exhibit a level of complexity across and within systems that makes it impossible to understand the important phenomena that are affecting humans today from the perspective of any single incomplete system of thought. Thus interconnected systems and high levels of complexity yield a situation in which multidisciplinary tactics to understanding and problem solving produce the real growth industry in the next generation of scholarly thought.

Disciplines develop their own internal ways of looking at the phenomena that interest them. Become broadly knowledgeable about any particular phenomenon as possible before constructing theories and asserting truth assertions. Problems arise from the lack of a viewpoint from which one can understand the relationship between various disciplines.

'Conceptual Foundations for Multidisciplinary Thinking' by Stephen Kline (ISBN 0804724091) In ‘Conceptual Foundations for Multidisciplinary Thinking’, Stanford’s Prof. Stephen Jay Kline expounds the necessity of multidisciplinary discourse:

Multidisciplinary discourse is more than just important. We can have a complete intellectual system, one that covers all the necessary territory, only if we add multidisciplinary discourse to the knowledge within the disciplines. This is true not only in principle but also for strong pragmatic reasons. This will assure the safety of our more global ideas.

Producing and applying knowledge no longer work within strict disciplinary boundaries. New dimensions of intricacy, scale, and uncertainty in technical problems put them beyond the reach of one-thought disciplines. Advances with the most impact are born at the frontiers of more than one engineering discipline.

Multidisciplinarity refers more to the internalization of knowledge. This happens when abstract associations are developed using an outlook in one discipline to transform a perspective in another or research techniques developed in one elaborate a theoretic framework in another.

To get the most out of their R&D workforce, many organizations seek persons who comprehend a range of science and engineering principles and procedures to guarantee that work will be advanced even if a specific expert were not always available.

Posted in Hobbies and Pursuits Mental Models and Psychology

Yummy Tuscan White Bean Soup

Tasty Tuscan White Bean Soup

Tuscan cooking is exemplified by having simple food—food that is not covered in heavy sauces. Cooking is done with olive oil (not butter, as is used further north.) Olive oil is used as a salad dressing, is poured over bread, and is used in soups and stews. Beans are a staple. Sage, rosemary, and basil are popular spices.


  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup minced white onions
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1/2 cup Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 cup roasted Roma tomatoes
  • 3 cups cooked white beans (navy beans are best)
  • 1 small potato, diced (preferably Yukon Gold)
  • Water or vegetable stock
  • 1 bunch basil
  • Optional Toppings: Crispy bacon, truffle oil, kale threads, Grana Padano, fresh basil


  • In a thick-bottomed pot, heat butter and olive oil
  • Cook onions and garlic until translucent. Deglaze with white wine.
  • Add tomatoes, beans and potato; cover with water or vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours.
  • Remove from heat and puree in blender or food processor until smooth.
  • Refrigerate for one day before serving to allow flavors to build. Reheat and garnish with the options listed above or get creative.
Posted in Hobbies and Pursuits

The Michigan Flute Orchestra

The Michigan Flute Orchestra is an ensemble of dedicated and accomplished flutists from the southeastern Michigan area. The instrumentation of the orchestra comprises the entire spectrum of the flute family: bass flute, alto flute, the conventional C flute, and piccolo. This unique orchestra performs a varied repertoire of music which displays the tonal richness and cohesiveness of the flute family.

The Michigan Flute Orchestra has performed with world-renowned flutists Jean-Pierre Rampal and Claudi Arimany and has been the guest artists at the Michigan Flute Festival and the Western Michigan Flute Festival. They have also performed on the stages of Detroit’s Orchestra Hall, the Midland Center of the Performing Arts, Calvin College, and other sites throughout the state of Michigan.

Shaul Ben-Meir of the Michigan Flute Orchestra

Shaul Ben-Meir of the Michigan Flute Orchestra Shaul Ben-Meir, the founder and music director of the Michigan Flute Orchestra, is a former flutist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. In 1962 he was awarded the Silver Medal at the International Wind Competition in Helsinki, Finland. He is the former principal flutist of the Haifa Symphony, under Sergiu Comissiona from 1961 until he was invited to the United States as Visiting Professor of Music at Ithaca College in 1965. Subsequently, he was appointed Artist-in-Residence at the University of Buffalo, participating in modern music research and performance under Lucas Foss.

Mr. Ben-Meir studied both in his native Israel and in England. His teachers included Geoffrey Gilbert, Joseph Mariano, and Jean-Pierre Rampal. He has appeared frequently in solo recitals and master classes around the country, and as a member of the Renaissance Woodwind Quintet. Currently, Mr. Ben-Meir is widely recognized for his transcriptions and arrangements of symphonic repertoire for the flute orchestra medium. He has recorded solo albums and CDs with Golden Crest, Coronet, and Megido Records.

The Michigan Flute Orchestra at the Detroit Institute of Arts

On 26-Oct-2014, Sunday, at the Sunday Music Bar at the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Michigan Flute Orchestra played,

Posted in Hobbies and Pursuits

The Best Jokes from Jerry Seinfeld

  • The Best Jokes from Jerry Seinfeld “I was the best man at the wedding. If I’m the best man, why is she marrying him?”
  • “The idea behind the tuxedo is the woman’s point of view that men are all the same; so we might as well dress them that way. That’s why a wedding is like the joining together of a beautiful, glowing bride and some guy. The tuxedo is a wedding safety device, created by women because they know that men are undependable. So in case the groom chickens out, everybody just takes one step over, and she marries the next guy.”
  • “It’s amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper.”
  • “Dogs are the leaders of the planet. If you see two life forms, one of them’s making a poop, the other one’s carrying it for him, who would you assume is in charge.”
  • “There’s very little advice in men’s magazines, because men don’t think there’s a lot they don’t know. Women do. Women want to learn. Men think, “I know what I’m doing, just show me somebody naked.””
  • “Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason”
  • “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
  • “What is a date really, but a job interview that lasts all night? The only difference is that in not many job interviews is there a chance you’ll wind up naked.”
  • “To me, a lawyer is basically the person that knows the rules of the country. We’re all throwing the dice, playing the game, moving our pieces around the board, but if there is a problem the lawyer is the only person who has read the inside of the top of the box.
  • “Men want the same thing from their underwear that they want from women: a little bit of support, and a little bit of freedom.”
  • “Men don’t care what’s on TV. They only care what else is on TV.”
  • “I once had a leather jacket that got ruined in the rain. Why does moisture ruin leather? Aren’t cows outside a lot of the time? When it’s raining, do cows go up to the farmhouse, “Let us in! We’re all wearing leather! Open the door! We’re going to ruin the whole outfit here!””
Posted in Hobbies and Pursuits

The Surfing Mecca and Alternative Retreat at Santa Cruz, California

Surfing Mecca in Santa Cruz, California

The California beach town of Santa Cruz still has its share of surfers, hippies, and students. But in recent years the food scene has expanded to cater to the highbrow tastes of nearby Silicon Valley.

See for yourself at the Penny Ice Creamery, where Chef Kendra Baker churns flavors such as celery and black sesame. Close by, ride wooden roller coasters and vintage carousels on the boardwalk, or take a crab sandwich from The Riva Fish House out on the wharf. There you can watch sea lions come to shore and catch a glimpse of migrating humpback whales.

Santa Cruz, California

Those looking for more exercise can head to the hills above town to hike redwood groves near the University of California at Santa Cruz.

To get there, it takes less than two hours to drive 70 miles south to Santa Cruz along coast-hugging Highway 1.

Try to stay at the retro-chic Dream Inn is the only local hotel right on the beach. It’s within walking distance to the wharf and boardwalk, and all rooms have balconies or semiprivate patios with views of Monterey Bay.

Posted in Hobbies and Pursuits Travels and Journeys

The 100 Greatest Novels of All Time

The 100 greatest novels of all time

Can’t decide what to read? Consider The Guardian’s list of top 100 novels ever written.

  1. “Don Quixote” by Miguel De Cervantes
  2. “Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan
  3. “Robinson Crusoe” by Daniel Defoe
  4. “Gulliver’s Travels” by Jonathan Swift
  5. “Tom Jones” by Henry Fielding
  6. “Clarissa” by Samuel Richardson
  7. “Tristram Shandy” by Laurence Sterne
  8. “Dangerous Liaisons” by Pierre Choderlos De Laclos
  9. “Emma” by Jane Austen
  10. “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley
  11. “Nightmare Abbey” by Thomas Love Peacock
  12. “The Black Sheep” by Honoré De Balzac
  13. “The Charterhouse of Parma” by Stendhal
  14. “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas
  15. “Sybil” by Benjamin Disraeli
  16. “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens
  17. “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë
  18. “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë
  19. “Vanity Fair” by William Makepeace Thackeray
  20. “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  21. “Moby-Dick” by Herman Melville
  22. “Madame Bovary” by Gustave Flaubert
  23. “The Woman in White” by Wilkie Collins
  24. “Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll
  25. “Little Women” by Louisa M. Alcott
  26. “The Way We Live Now” by Anthony Trollope
  27. “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy
  28. “Daniel Deronda” by George Eliot
  29. “The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  30. “The Portrait of a Lady” by Henry James
  31. “Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain
  32. “The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson
  33. “Three Men in a Boat” by Jerome K. Jerome
  34. “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde
  35. “The Diary of a Nobody” by George Grossmith
  36. “Jude the Obscure” by Thomas Hardy
  37. “The Riddle of the Sands” by Erskine Childers
  38. “The Call of the Wild” by Jack London
  39. “Nostromo” by Joseph Conrad
  40. “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame
  41. “In Search of Lost Time” by Marcel Proust
  42. “The Rainbow” by D. H. Lawrence
  43. “The Good Soldier” by Ford Madox Ford
  44. “The Thirty-Nine Steps” by John Buchan
  45. “Ulysses” by James Joyce
  46. “Mrs Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf
  47. “A Passage to India” by EM Forster
  48. “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  49. “The Trial” by Franz Kafka
  50. “Men Without Women” by Ernest Hemingway
  51. “Journey to the End of the Night” by Louis-Ferdinand Celine
  52. “As I Lay Dying” by William Faulkner
  53. “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley
  54. “Scoop” by Evelyn Waugh
  55. “USA” by John Dos Passos
  56. “The Big Sleep” by Raymond Chandler
  57. “The Pursuit Of Love” by Nancy Mitford
  58. “The Plague” by Albert Camus
  59. “Nineteen Eighty-Four” by George Orwell
  60. “Malone Dies” by Samuel Beckett
  61. “Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger
  62. “Wise Blood” by Flannery O’Connor
  63. “Charlotte’s Web” by E. B. White
  64. “The Lord Of The Rings” by J. R. R. Tolkien
  65. “Lucky Jim” by Kingsley Amis
  66. “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding
  67. “The Quiet American” by Graham Greene
  68. “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac
  69. “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov
  70. “The Tin Drum” by Gunter Grass
  71. “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe
  72. “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” by Muriel Spark
  73. “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
  74. “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller
  75. “Herzog” by Saul Bellow
  76. “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez
  77. “Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont” by Elizabeth Taylor
  78. “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” by John Le Carré
  79. “Song of Solomon” by Toni Morrison
  80. “The Bottle Factory Outing” by Beryl Bainbridge
  81. “The Executioner’s Song” by Norman Mailer
  82. “If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller” by Italo Calvino
  83. “A Bend in the River” by V. S. Naipaul
  84. “Waiting for the Barbarians” by J.M. Coetzee
  85. “Housekeeping” by Marilynne Robinson
  86. “Lanark” by Alasdair Gray
  87. “The New York Trilogy” by Paul Auster
  88. “The BFG” by Roald Dahl
  89. “The Periodic Table” by Primo Levi
  90. “Money” by Martin Amis
  91. “An Artist of the Floating World” by Kazuo Ishiguro
  92. “Oscar And Lucinda” by Peter Carey
  93. “The Book of Laughter and Forgetting” by Milan Kundera
  94. “Haroun and the Sea of Stories” by Salman Rushdie
  95. “La Confidential” by James Ellroy
  96. “Wise Children” by Angela Carter
  97. “Atonement” by Ian McEwan
  98. “Northern Lights” by Philip Pullman
  99. “American Pastoral” by Philip Roth
  100. “Austerlitz” by W. G. Sebald
Posted in Hobbies and Pursuits

Laughter is One of the Great Blessings of Being Human

As American writer M. Conrad Hyers points out in his “And God Created Laughter”,

Laughter is One of the Great Blessings of Being Human The ancient Greeks were not far from the truth in classifying human beings as ‘laughing animals.’ A fundamental difference between humans and donkeys, it was observed, was that donkeys can bray but only humans can laugh. If one has ventured to tell a joke, even the simplest of jokes, to one’s dog or cat one senses the importance of the distinction. Animals take everything literally. They have no notion of double meaning, plays upon words, overstatement or understatement, incongruity or absurdity, irony or tongue in cheek. Animals take everything quite seriously…. In C. S. Lewis’s “Chronicles of Narnia”, when Aslan creates talking animals, they discover laughter. At first they are ashamed by such ‘queer noises’ and try to repress them. But Aslan says to them: ‘Laugh and fear not, creatures. Now that you are no longer dumb and witless, you need not always be grave. For jokes as well as justice come in with speech.’

Posted in Hobbies and Pursuits

103-Word Joke Involving a Duck

103-Word Joke involving a Duck

In 2002, Richard Wiseman, a British psychology professor from the University of Hertfordshire asked people to rank thousands of jokes, in an experimentation called LaughLab. He produced a website where individuals could grade and put forward jokes. The most favorable length for jokes was found to be 103 words. And jokes containing ducks were found to be funnier than jokes about other animals. Rationally a 103-word joke featuring a duck would be funniest of all.

Duck walks into a bar and asks the bartender, “Got any grapes?” The bartender says, “No. This is a bar. We don’t sell grapes.” The duck leaves.

The next day, the duck’s back. “Got any grapes?” The bartender says, “I told you yesterday. We don’t sell grapes.”

The third day: “Got any grapes?” The bartender loses it, grabs the duck, and yells, “I already told you twice! Ask me again and I’ll nail your beak to the floor!”

The next day, the duck returns. “Got any nails?” The bartender sighs. “No, we don’t have any nails.” The duck says, “Good. Got any grapes?”

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Posted in Hobbies and Pursuits