Poem – Where We Lived

I often visit the
abandoned house
off the beaten track
Its yard
no longer tended
In the forgotten places
Littered with broken shards,
Rotting leaves, gnarled branches,
Entwined vines and
Dried unruly weeds
I follow the scent
Of unseen blossoms
I trace my fingers
On the ancient walls
Moist with night dew and
On which
Memory has turned mossy green
In places
I look through the dusty windows
That reflect nothing
The sadness of which
Speaks to me
Then, as the seasons change,
In the midst of decay
The tree of sorrow blooms
Night after night
Romancing the August moon


First published in ‘Collection Of Chaos‘. You can buy the book from any online book vendor.


Kitaab Review Of ‘Wayfaring’ & A Blog Feature



Spring came quietly in my city and suddenly it was ablaze with fiery Semal flowers. The stark branches tipped with its large crimson, orange and pale yellow flowers towering above the city structures look like giant brushes painting the city skyline. Semal is the first tree to bloom and pave the way for Coral tree, Jacaranda, Gulmohar, Leburnum etc. I spotted a few tesu trees along with the Lilac Kachnar.

The carefully landscaped roundbaouts are a riot of colors and so are the gardens in Delhi. The newly opened Central Park (Sunder Nursery) is in my list of Must Visit places.  The two Gorgeous pink bougainvillea trees in Lodhi Garden are a sight to behold. I  will try and do a separate post on these. Spring is Delhi is short lived with harsh winter in its backyard and summer on threshold but it brings the fragrance of mango blossoms. Tabebuia Aurea is another beautiful spring blooming tree that one should watch out for. I am trying to locate a Palash tree or Flame of the forest, as it is known in English, in Delhi. Perhaps some more spring pictures soon. 🙂


Meanwhile, a brilliant  review of my book ‘Wayfaring’ appeared  in the fabulous Singapore-based journal Kitaab. This is what a writer longs for. Good readers who explore what we usually don’t see in our own writing, reviewers whose critique is incisive and sensitive, and editors who take this dialog forward. Many thanks to all those who made this possible. Zafar Anjum, Sucharita Dutta-Asane at Kitaab, thank you for the way you always support poets and writers. This is a dream come true. Very honored and humbled.

Bhaswati Ghosh is a writer friend I admire. She has a very fine taste in music too. She writes and translates fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. She is also the Editor -at – large at Cafe Dissensus Magazine where I have some of my work published. One of the magazines I absolutely love for its content.

Bhaswati really gets it when she says, “If solitude is nature’s essential condition, loneliness, its second cousin, is a function of being human. As Wayfaring shows, we don’t always choose loneliness; sometimes it chooses us. When it does, it’s seldom romantic and more like one’s own shadow, impossible to disown.”

Please do read the complete review by clicking on the link above and do buy the book. It is available worldwide with all online book vendors.

In another new, Vishal Bheeroo featured me on his blog. We talked about ‘Wayfaring’ journey as a book and other things. Do read the full feature HERE  

Here’s an excerpt : 

“Wayfaring is the result of a much more positive attitude towards myself and to life in general.  One must never lose the sense of possibilities. That’s the healing that comes from within. I have tried to work that around in the poems in ‘Wayfaring’. Most of the poems in the book are intensely personal and at times I have used nature or another element as a mask to enable me to write about private feelings but mostly the poems are all about ‘laying bare’, befriending oneself and realizing that this difficult phase in life is intrinsic to being alive. This shift in thinking changed my perspective completely and when you read the poems you will see what I mean.” 

Thanks Vishal for giving me this platform.

If you have bought my books please do write a few lines about them and let me know via twitter/FB/Instagram or just leave a comment here.



एक शहर ये भी – कविता 3 – दिल्ली में बसंत



दिल्ली में बसंत तो हर साल आता है

पर इस बार बहुत सालों बाद 

हमारे आँगन की अमराई महकी है

उसी रंग उसी गंध में सराबोर

वो सड़क जो तुम तक पहुँचती थी

नीम की बौर से ढकी है और कुछ दूर

चटख नारंगी सेमल धधक रहा है

तुम्हारे घर की दीवार से सटे टेसू ने यादें

फिर रंग दीं हैं और मन फिर उन्ही

महुआ की रातों में घुल गया है

वहीँ लोदी गार्डन में जहाँ मेरा फेवरेट बेंच

कचनार की गुलाबी महक में डूबा हुआ है

वहीँ दबे पाँव जाने कब उस गुलाबी बोगनविला ने

डक पोंड के पास वाले तुम्हारे पसंदीदा बेंच को

क्लाद मोने की पेंटिंग में बदल दिया है 

दिल्ली में बसंत बिलकुल तुम्हारे प्यार जैसा है –

क्षणिक  – अविस्मरणीय


Wordless Wednesday – 343


Warm Bell Pepper Salad With Lemon Honey Garlic Vinaigrette

Bell peppers are one of the most beautiful vegetables and my favorite too. I somehow despise the  green capsicum and its excessive use in many dishes but these red, yellow sweet peppers not just add color to the dish but also provide a lot of nutrients. They also pair very well with many things and can be baked, broiled, grilled, roasted or stewed. I add them to sauces for pasta and Shakshuka etc.  These beauties have a good amount of carotenoid content and Vitamin C along with Vitamin B6, folate, Vitamin A and many other good nutrients. I use them for roasted bell pepper raita (dip), salads (both warm and cold), pasta sauces and use them instead of green capsicum.

This is a warm salad with slightly fried potatoes but I do other variations with roasted veggies instead of sauteed. I love the smoky charred flavors of the bell peppers and tomatoes and make the salad with that too. It all depends on the mood.

The vinaigrette dressing is just perfect to give that citrus sweet flavor to the salad. You can use this as a marinade to chicken and fish also. Garlic gives that much needed kick to the vinaigrette making it delicious.  You can make the vinaigrette in a small jar and store it in that only for a day or two.

I am not a good food photographer but the recipe is awesome. Do try.


Bell Pepper And Potato Salad With Lemon Honey & Garlic Vinaigrette

Ingredients :

Bell peppers – 2 (1-red, 1-yellow)

Potato – 1 large (par boiled and cubed or cut into thin wedges)

Red Onion – 1

Garlic – 1 large smashed

Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 2 tbsp

Plum Tomatoes- 2

Fresh herbs – Coriander/parsley

Salt – Pepper – as required

Honey – 1 tbsp

Lemon Juice – Juice of one medium lemon

Lemon zest – a little

Freshly cracked black peppercorn – 1 little

Apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar ( if desired ) – 2 tbsp

Steps – 

To make the Vinaigrette :

Take a juice of one lemon, add one crushed garlic clove, a little lemon zest add a tbsp of honey, add a little salt, two tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, vinegar if using, a little freshly crushed black pepper and fresh chopped herbs. Mix and shake it up in a small jar.

I didn’t use the vinegar in this particular salad. You can adjust the quantity as per the salad quantity or if using as a marinade as per the chicken or fish.


For Salad : 

Wash bell peppers and remove the seeds. Cut them into cubes or strips. Cut the onions and tomatoes into cubes or wedges. Peel the bar boiled potatoes and cut in cubes or wedges.

In a pan heat the olive oil and add the potatoes. Fry them till they turn nice n crisp. Remove in a bowl. Add onions and saute till slightly translucent, remove them in the same bowl. Now add bell peppers and toss them till slightly charred and warmed up, take them out in the bowl and then add tomatoes to the pan. We do not need to soften them so toss them till they are slightly roasted and add to the other veggies.

Gently toss the salad and add the Vinaigrette. Serve warm

Serve with any dish of your choice or just eat it straight from the bowl.




Panasa Katha Tarkari |Oriya Style Raw Jackfruit Curry

Jackfruit is such a versatile vegetable. This fibrous, starchy, fleshy fruit is also referred to as ‘vegetarian meat’. Jackfruit/kathal or Panasa is cooked in a variety of ways. Kathal is one of the many things especially cooked on Holi in Eastern UP household as a replacement to the non veg but today I am sharing the Oriya style curry made with tender, raw jackfruit today. The UP style I will share some other time. 🙂

I also make the Punjabi style vegetable and jackfruit kebabs. There was a time I even pickled it but not anymore.  I absolutely love the ripe jackfruit. Many people do not like its heady intoxicating fragrance but it is one of the things I continue to eat with relish since childhood. Kathal biryani is another favorite and it can beat any mutton biryani if made properly. One can also make jackfruit chips and stew which taste awesome.

Jackfruit is not just an exotic tropical vegetable/fruit but full of good nutrients too. It has ample dietary fibers, anti-oxidants, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Niacin, Riboflavin, Folic acid, Vitamin C and much more. It is also a good source of potassium, manganese, magnesium and iron.

I had an Oriya neighbor who was an excellent cook. I learned this recipe from her. She told me that there was a slight variation she did from the authentic one. The curry was rich, flavorful and excellent in texture. I made it after many a moons but the verdict of the family was great so here it is for all of you.

Ingredients :

Raw tender jackfruit – 1 small or 1/2 kg peeled and chopped

Potato – 1 large

Onion –  2 + 2 green chilies (1 onion sliced & 1 finely grated or made into paste wit hthe green chili and cumin seeds)

Fresh Ginger and Garlic Paste – 1 tbsp each

Tomato – 1 ( grated or finely chopped)

Panchporan – 1/4 tsp

Cumin seed powder – 1/4 tsp

Turmeric powder – 1 tsp

Chili powder – to taste

Homemade garam masala powder – 1/4 tsp

Bay leaf – 1-2

Cinnamon stick – 1/2 inch

Black cardamom – 2

Green cardomom – 2-3

Cumin seeds -1/2 tsp

Black peppercorn – 4-5

Sugar – 1/2 tsp

Salt – to taste

Mustard oil – 5-6 tbsp

Fresh coriander leaves – 2 tbsp (chopped fine)

Steps – 

Peel and cut the jackfruit into 1 1/2 – 2 inch pieces. Make a cut in the seeds if there are large ones or they will burst while frying or slice them if they are not too stubborn). (Be careful with that) Wash and keep aside.

Do oil your hands and knife before peeling and chopping Jackfruit. It gets very sticky due to the milky gum like substance it secrets.

2. Wash, peel and chop potatoes in 1 inch cubes.

3. Parboil both the vegetables with a little salt and turmeric.  Drain the water and keep aside the boiled veggies.

4. Heat a wok and add the mustard oil to it. Bring it to smoking point and reduce the heat. Fry both potatoes and jackfruit one by one. Remove in a plate covered with kitchen towel.

5. In the same oil add Bayleave, panch poran, cinnamon stick, black peppercorn, black and green cardamom, Give it a stir.

6. Once the seeds begin to splutter add the sliced onions and fry till light golden brown. Add sugar to it and stir. Add the grated onion and ginger – garlic paste. Fry till the rawness of the paste goes away and it is nicely browned.

7. Add chopped or grated tomatoes and fry till oil leaves sides and then add the dry powdered masalas and give a nice stir.

8. Now add the parboiled potatoes and jackfruit pieces. Mix nicely so that the masala gets incorporated properly into the veggies. Cover and cook for a few minutes on low- medium flame.

9. Once the veggies absorb the masala completely, add more warm water for the curry. Give a good stir and bring it to boil.

10. Let it simmer for sometime till a nice gravy is ready. Add chopped coriander leaves and garam masala to it. Also add a tablespoon of pure homemade ghee for flavor.

Turn off the flame and serve hot with roti or rice.

Happy Holi to all my readers and friends. Respect boundaries and have a colorful life ahead. 


Easy Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Homemade frozen yogurts are a class apart. I prefer them over ice creams as they are low in calories and much healthier option. Full of good nutrients and simple to assemble, FroYo can be made with so many fruits. During summer I make a variety of Frozen Yogurts with seasonal fruits like Mango, Cherry, Banana, Sapota, berries, Pineapple, apricots, jamun etc. Each one is so refreshing, addictive and high in taste.

I use full fat home cultured hung curd as far as possible as it is full of probiotics. The frozen yogurt is naturally sweetened with fruits and organic honey which also prevents the ice to form while freezing the dessert.

This is a beautiful strawberry frozen yogurt that I made today. The month of February has been very hot this year and I was craving for something sweet.  If you love strawberries as much as I do then this one is for you.

A box of strawberry was lying in the fridge and I had hung some fresh curd to make a dip but that wasn’t going to happen. 😛 So, here it is, a luscious, creamy, tangy-sweet summer dessert.

Ingredients :  

Fresh unblemished strawberries –  2 Cup (Washed, hulled and frozen)

Organic honey – 2-3 tbsp

Lemon juice – 1 tsp

Hung Yogurt or Yogurt Cheese –  1/3 Cup (You can use Greek Yogurt too)

Steps :

Wash, hull and freeze the strawberries. You can slice the strawberries and line them on a tray to freeze.

Hang the curd/ yogurt overnight or for 3-4 hours in the fridge till completely drained of liquid.

Freeze the yogurt as well. We will chop it up an hour before using.

Take out the yogurt from the freezer and chop it up. Put it in a glass bowl.

Now take out the strawberries, thaw them slightly and then remove 1/4 in a bowl, place the rest in the blender and process till thick and smooth.

Take out the strawberry puree in a bowl and put the remaining in the blender, give a swirl so it becomes a chunky mix. Remove.

Now, add hung yogurt, lemon juice and honey in the blender and process till smooth. Add the strawberry puree to it and mix. Add the chunky strawberries to the strawberry yogurt and mix well.

Scrape the sides of the blender bowl and blend again to ensure there are no lumps.

Taste for sweetness and adjust accordingly.

In a freezer safe bin pour the strawberry yogurt mixture. Tap the bin on the counter 2-3 times to remove air gaps. Cover and put in the freezer.

Take out and whisk the mixture after every 30 min and freeze again. I usually don’t need to do it if using honey or just do it once. Freeze for 4-5 hours or over night to get the ice cream like consistency.

You can also serve it as soft serve after a few hours.

Frozen Yogurt is best consumed on the same day but you can freeze it for a few days.


Wordless Wednesday – 342


Delhi Monuments : The Khair-ul-Manazil Mosque

In 1450 the Mughals began their reign starting with Babur, the Mughal empire flourished and reached its pinnacle during Akbar’s reign. He was an ideal king and is considered one of the best rulers among all the Mughals.

Emperor Akbar is usually associated with Fatehpur Sikri, the capital is founded in Agra but I wanted to explore the bits of his story that lives through the ruins in Delhi. I went to the two places in Mehrauli, the tombs of Muhammad Quli Khan and Adam Khan, sons of Maham Anga and Akbar’s foster brothers. I think her remains too are buried along with Adam Khan here but I am not sure. Maham Anga was Akbar’s chief wet curse and held an important place as an adviser to the teenage Emperor. Shrewd and ambitious she was in-charge of the empire and acted as the de-facto regent of the Mughal Empire from 1560 to 1562. The worse kind of petticoat government that ever was.

Khair ul Minazil was commissioned by her during Akbar’s reign and the complex has a mosque and a madarsa (Islamic seminary). The name means ‘ the most auspicious of houses’.  This is an important structure because there aren’t many instances of  surviving  architecture which have the patronage of a woman.  It was perhaps the first Mughal Mosque in Delhi.

This serene mosque is located on Mathura Road, opposite the Old Fort  or Purana Qila. Driving down the busy road in the front of the mosque I had always wanted to stop by and spend some time there. This time I especially made a plan to do so. One can see hundreds of pigeons flying around the structure and for once I didn’t despise the sight.

It all blended in so well. Perhaps in olden times this complex was part of the Old Fort complex. Not many people actually venture into this beautiful structure and that is a pity for one can sense the grandeur of the place by just standing inside the complex. History tells that an assassination attempt was made on Akbar’s life from the first floor of this mosque in 1564.

The double storied gateway of the mosque is made of quartzite and red stone but the mosque and the madarsa are made of rubble. If you look from inside the magnificent gate has medallions and intricate stucco patterns etched on it.

On both the sides of the mosque stands the two storied madarsa in dilapidated state. The larger rooms are on the ground floor and a narrow passage leads to the smaller ones on the first floor. Most of the walls are crumbling and no doors or windows are left if there were any.

The vast rectangular courtyard has a waju hauz which is not working hence not in use. The old well, on the other hand, is working and people draw the water for waju (ablution).

One can see water pitchers near the hauz that are filled everyday for the residing pigeons.


The mosque is better preserved than the madarsa. Earlier there were five arched bays leading to the mosque but now only three are visible. There is a dome at the central bay of the prayer hall while the other bays have been roofed with vaults. The mehrabs, curves and Qur’an scripts are on the verge of decay due to the neglect of the structure.


The Persian inscription  set above the central entrance that tells us that this was built by Maham Anga with the assistance of shihabuddin Ahmed Khan. We also see two more names apart from Akbar that of Niyaz Baqsh who constructed Khairul Manazil and Darvesh Hussain who supervised the construction. The name ‘Khair-ul-Manazil’, when written in Persian, yields the number 969 Hijri (AD 1561-62), the year of its construction, and thus is a Chronogram. A very interesting and unique feature of this structure.

The inside floor of the mosque is still in a fairly good condition because people offer Namaz but the outer floor is in very bad state.

One can see copies of Quran sharif kept in one of the brackets in the wall.

The Mecca facing western mehrab still has some remnants of the exquisitely vibrant blue, red, violet green and yellow enamel tile work, a testimonial to its glorious past.

Most of the awe inspiring artwork is now lost to the years of neglect and the gorgeous facade bears a blackened appearance and yet it stands tall as a witness to the beauty and grace this place has managed to keep even now leaving behind the rectangular protruding projections. One can imagine how grand this mosque would have looked in its prime days. Maham Anga was resourceful, rich and very confident woman and left no stone upturned to make this a work of art. No tow tiles of the facade are of the same design. The geometrical and floral patterns are different in each tile. There are some verses from the Holy Quran inscribed on the walls.

On the outer wall of the mosque one can see the brackets that once supported the chajjas or the wide eaves that were meant to keep the sun away.

It is hard to believe that the mosque is erected without any foundation.

The iron gate and the boundaries restrict the movements if you wish to photograph the complex from various angles.


I wanted to take some pictures from the expansive lawns of Sher Shah Gate or Lal Darwaza complex but it is under restoration and public is not allowed at the moment.

I hope more people visit this stunningly beautiful mosque but I also feel that the lack of interest in this has also preserved it from the onslaught of those ‘tourists’ who harm the monuments by engraving their names or drawing cupid hearts etc on the walls.

I also hope Archaeological Survey Of India considers some restoration work here before we completely lose whatever artwork is remaining now. Do visit this place whenever you are on Old Fort side.




एक शहर ये भी – कविता 2 – हुमायूँ का मक़बरा


सब्ज़ बुर्ज से कई बार हुमायूँ के मक़बरे तक

खामोश रास्तों पर हम कभी कभी युहीं

पैदल ही निकल जाते थे

निजामुद्दीन की हवा में एक खुमार सा है

जिसे लफ़्ज़ों में बयां करना मुश्किल है

एक अजीब सी कशिश, एक खुशबू

शायद उस नीली नदी की जो कभी

पास से गुज़रा करती थी

अमलतास के पेड़ के नीचे बैठ

हम घंटों दूब के क़ालीनों पर उभरते

शाम के सायों को मूक आखों से ताका करते

और परिंदों के कोलाहल के बीच

तन्हाई में लिपटा हुआ संगेमरमर

और बुलिअा पत्थरों से बना हश्त – बहिश्त

बेबस सा ये मक़बरा अपनी रगों में

मुग़ल सल्तनत की महक समेटे

बगीचे की नहरों के पानी में

कुछ ढूढ़ता रहता

और इस बीच आहिस्ता से समय

युहीं कहीं किसी

मेहराब या गुम्बद पे आके थम जाता

जड़ पकड़ लेता दरख्तों की तरह

हम अपने ख्वाबों की परवान को थामे 

किसी दर -ओ -दीवार की परछाईं

नापते और अतीत के झरोखों से

छन के आती सूरज की आख़री किरणों

में ज़िन्दगी के मायने खोजते

और फिर हाथों में हाथ दिए

बस्ती की तंग गलियों में निकल जाते

तुम कबाब और बिरयानी की खुशबु में खो जाते

और मैं महबूब ए इलाही के रंगों में रंग जाती

आज बारापुला फ्लाईओवर से

निजामुद्दीन बस्ती की छतों पे सूखते कपड़ो

 के पीछे उन्ही रंगों की महक उजले

नीले आसमान में उड़ती नज़र आयी

और मन फिर जा कर अमलतास की उस डाल

से लिपट गया

एक शहर ये भी – कविता 1