10 habits I changed for good

It’s not about one person doing a really great thing, it is about a lot of people doing small things that really make a difference.

Just as one straw cannot pollute the environment, but 7.8 billion people using one straw each sure can; similarly, each individual contributing in their own small way can have a far-reaching effect on the environment and the future of our children.

Minimalism is not just a fad; it adds value to your life in a holistic way. Things that were indispensable for you become redundant. You start questioning things around you. You start valuing things that matter.

Here are the 10 habits that I changed for good. They did not happen overnight. Each of them involved breaking a set pattern and stepping out of my comfort zone to take the plunge. These changes certainly affect the environment, but most importantly, they make a difference to my own health and well-being. Of course, I have miles to go on this journey, but I value these small steps:

  1. Stopped using bin liners: It is very common to use bin liners for our dry and wet waste. Now multiply this with the number of days and also with the number of households, and so on. It took me a while to change the habit to stop using bin liners because then I would have to touch the wet waste with my hands when I give it to the person who collects them. However, I soon realized if I cannot touch my own waste, how can I expect another person to segregate it for me? 

2. Writing with a pencil: I used to love collecting stationery, specifically the diaries and the notebooks. But what to do with them once they are over. If you have used them for writing personal stuff, you cannot just send them for recycling too. In order to further minimize my needs, I decided I didn’t need any new diaries. I could just use one over and over again. So, I use a pencil to write and use the notebooks again. That also means that I have completely stopped buying pens.  

3. Carrying water bottles: I developed the habit of carrying water after my son was born, and now I never step out without a bottle of water. I remember we would always order bottled water in a restaurant, assuming that the water could be contaminated. On one hand, it was making all of us rather too sensitive, and on another hand, we were buying bottled water unnecessarily. And it was just me, who was crazy. My husband was okay with the water all along. So, I did a u-turn and stopped ordering bottled water. All restaurants serve RO water in any case. You just need to ask. Another major achievement was not buying water during our trips. For the last couple of trips, we did not buy any plastic water bottles. It takes a bit of planning and effort, but it is always an accomplishment when you can finish the entire trip without plastic bottles. You just need to keep asking the staff at your hotels to refill your bottles. 

4. No clothes shopping without a planClothes make for the biggest part of clutter in any household. I have been guilty of buying clothes mindlessly in the past. Over the years, I have become a mindful clothes-shopper. I stick to a certain colour palette and buy things that go with each other. I never buy clothes on a whim anymore. In fact, I hate shopping for clothes these days. Sometimes when I visit a store and like something, I just give it time, and 10 out of 10 times I have never gone back to buy that thing. I also don’t buy what’s ‘in fashion’ because they go out of fashion soon. I like to buy timeless things.

5. Stopping regular shampoo: Regular shampoo makes your hair look great temporarily but damages the hair in the long run. They are also the reason for hair fall and premature greying. They contain a lot of chemicals that aren’t good for the body, so I keep trying natural things for hair like reetha-anwla, eggs, curd, etc. I also oil my hair once a week and use SLS/Paraben free shampoo by Khadi to wash it off.

6. Switching to cloth pads: I have written about switching to zero-waste menstruation in this post

7. Stopped buying physical books: Books were my only weak point. I was a book hoarder. That is a thing of the past now. I don’t even remember the last time I bought a physical book. I have even stopped buying books for my 8-year-old. For him, we have joined a library. For myself, I still have a lot of backlog of books at home, and I also have a Kindle. So, if I must read something, I get an ebook. 

8. Cooking healthy food:  It is said your diet makes for 80% of the way you look. The food that we eat daily affects us more than anything else. Of course, exercise is very important, but if you don’t monitor your food, no matter how much you exercise, you cannot achieve results. I cook with very little oil and always use healthy alternatives. For example, my pancake will have oats, whole wheat flour, and jaggery. My sandwiches have no butter. 

9. Cancelling all magazine subscriptions: At one point in time, I used to get 5 magazines delivered to my home. I would read a couple of pages and stack them up to read later. That ‘later’ would never come. I subscribed to Femina for several years, but I have seldom read it from cover to cover. So, I stopped all subscriptions. In any case, you can read everything online now. Plus there’s the library too.

10. Removing non-stick cookware from the kitchen: About 2 years back, I removed all non-stick cookware from my kitchen, and stopped using plastic in the microwave as well as for any cooked food. My son’s tiffin boxes are also of steel, and we use glassware in the microwave. I also got iron cookware for my kitchen. Basically, going back to what our mothers used to do.

There are so many things that I want to do but things are permanent when they happen organically. So, just taking one step at a time and getting comfortable with it.

Are there any small big-changes that you have incorporated into your lives?

Also read:

>> Zero waste menstruation

>> Minimalism: Why I want to do this?

>> Minimalism: 20 Things from my journey

>> Minimalism with Kids

Feminism and Raising Boys

While I was growing up, I never thought about women’s rights and empowerment. I would dutifully do all the household chores expected of me because I truly believed I must learn all those things to be a good wife someday. I would look at my mother, decked up during Teej (a fast Hindu married women kept for the long lives of their husbands), and nurture dreams of doing the same in future. I was deeply ashamed when my grandmother showed surprise and pity when I couldn’t roll a roti at 12 years of age.

However, my upbringing wasn’t particularly sexist. Both my parents are educated. My mother always stressed on the importance of education. I was always encouraged to follow my dreams. My parents supported me, even went the extra mile, when I wanted to be a fashion designer (quite an unconventional career choice 20 years ago). I didn’t become one that’s quite another matter.

I was a quintessential ‘good girl’. I reveled in being a good girl. I liked when people praised me for toeing the line. I never thought that there was another way to be.

I don’t know what pushed me over the edge. Today, I question every single thing. I wouldn’t do a thing just because it is expected of me. I wouldn’t wear a sari and sindoor to pander to someone else’s image of a married, Hindu woman. I wouldn’t be the keeper of traditions and bearer of rituals. I would probably do it, if I wish to but not because someone expects me to.

Perhaps it was the day when I became the mother of a boy when I decided I wouldn’t be the enabler of patriarchy. I will not propagate something that has made me suffer through the years and made me feel like a lesser being.

I am a proud feminist. I don’t allow any kind of sexist conversations around my son. I don’t want to raise a child who thinks that it is ok to comment on a woman’s clothes, attitude or character.

The world needs people who uplift each other. If one half of the world’s population lives in the delusions of superiority over the other half, we will never be able to create a just world.

Feminism is not a dirty word; it just means believing in the equality of men and women, and believing that each one of us has a choice.

In the current environment, it is scary to be a boy-mom. If we are not even acknowledging the importance of our roles in raising our boys, then it is sheer ignorance.


Household chores are for everyone 

Both of us try our best to create an environment of equality. Household chores are not shared just during lockdown; it is a way of life. Certainly, I primarily take care of the home and my husband is the breadwinner; but I freelance too and he contributes to household chores. He never waits for anybody to tell him what needs to be done in his own house. I’m never forced to cook, it is always a choice. And if I don’t feel like cooking, he steps in. I am grateful that as a person who believes in equal partnership in marriage, he is an excellent person to emulate for my little boy. In a way, he is the feminist he doesn’t know he is! 

Even our soon to be 9 years old is encouraged to share the household chores and choose where he wants to contribute because we cannot spend all of our time playing. We point out that each one of us has to stop our fun activity and first finish what we are responsible for. 

Self-respect and respecting each other

Women have traditionally played secondary roles. So, the first step is to believe that you are important and respect yourself. Only then can you expect others to do so. 

We respect each other for whatever we do. Each family member contributes to a house differently – somebody could be managing the house, somebody could be earning money. All efforts are acknowledged and respected. 

My husband was extremely supportive when I decided to quit my job and explore writing. I was equally understanding when he wanted to quit his job and become an entrepreneur. Both of us support each other’s dreams and believe in them. It helps that we are not chasing a bigger house, a bigger car and materialism. We always remind our little boy not to take things for granted at home. If mom cooks, you need to be grateful for that food. If dad remembers to get you things you wanted, you must acknowledge his effort.  

No ultimate authority, power rests with both parents

As parents, there is no ultimate authority; it rests in both of us. The age-old ‘wait, till I tell your dad’, doesn’t happen in our home. It is important that our son respect both of us equally. We never contradict each other while talking to our son; neither do we allow any other family member to do so. 

Exposing him to gender-balanced messages from different media

Since the time of his birth, we have been extremely mindful of protecting him from sexism and sexist mindset. He has only watched age-appropriate movies and none of those Disney or superhero movies. Several mainstream movies are off his watching list too because most often they show that men need to rescue women or indulge in sexist jokes or objectify women. One of the reasons we don’t have a TV connection is because I have a strong dislike for gender stereotypes shown in ads and TV programs. We are mindful of the songs that are played at home. No songs about alcohol drinking and objectifying women are allowed. I’m always shocked when watching very young kids dance at such songs which are inappropriate for them. We don’t share any sexist Whatsapp jokes with him because he does not have the experience and maturity to differentiate jokes from reality.

Educating about his privilege 

Blocking the sexist mindset during his impressionable years is one part of the story; another part is to now educate him about his privilege. Of course, women have come a long way since the time they were not allowed to cross the thresholds of their homes but there is a long way to go; and unless men walk with them in this journey, things will not step up fast. So, when such topics come up, we educate him.

Correcting and Communicating

After protecting him from gender stereotyping and educating him about the history of patriarchy, and how things have changed over the years; there are still instances when he is exposed to some sexist conversations. Our role is to be clued in to what’s happening with our kids. I wasn’t expecting my son to be exposed to cuss words so soon, which he did (in spite of the fact that we are extremely mindful of the language used in front of him). So, new challenges will come up everyday, the main thing is to discuss everything openly and correct him on every opportunity.

Resisting peer pressure

It is easy to be influenced by peer pressure while you are growing up and aren’t sure about yourself. You tend to like what your friends like. However, from the beginning, we have never done anything that others are doing, even ourselves. We haven’t bought anything just because someone else has got it. We have always educated him about having different interests. 

It’s not about small or big things because when you are small, small things are big things. So, if he is talking about some toy somebody has, we would tell him how it would be boring if everybody had the same things. It is always interesting when all of us have different interests and we exchange ideas. We gave our own example of doing things that others aren’t doing or choosing to not do things which others are doing. 

With so many conversations happening around women’s safety, and how women should behave, I say, bring more focus on how we are raising our sons too. While empowering our girls, we must also encourage conversations around toxic masculinity, peer pressure and bullying too.

Little boys have so much of spark and energy, let us protect them and raise them in a way that they contribute to a better world. As life partners and companions, may they live truly fulfilling lives and not get weighed down by what society expects of them.

Having said that, I sure don’t have all the answers. As a parent, I can just do my best. Patriarchy is so deep-rooted that even we need to unlearn and find answers to so many things.

I see being a parent as my own growth journey as well. It has helped me develop strong feelings and opinions about things which I never had.

If there is only one thing that I do in my life right, let it be raising a child who believes in the equality of men and women.

Zero Waste Menstruation


After much confusion and fear of stocks running low, the government recently clarified that sanitary napkins were also part of essential goods. That must have been quite a relief for so many women.

Thankfully, I switched to zero waste menstrual practices almost two years back. When I switched to cloth pads, I did not know it would especially be a blessing in times like these. That is one less thing to worry about right now.

Making the switch to Sustainable Menstruation

Minimalism is extremely relevant in the present context. After making several small changes in my lifestyle, switching to sustainable menstruation was the logical next step for me.

I joined this online community (closed now), which encouraged discussions on Sustainable Menstrual Practices. I read about women with far more challenging circumstances, switching to eco-friendly menstrual practices because disposable options have a hazardous impact on our bodies as well as the environment.

Around two years back, I finally took the plunge to cloth pads. I opted for a combination of Eco femme reusable cloth night pads and Femy cotton combo cloth pads. Once I completed a few cycles comfortably, I wondered why I took so long to switch over!

Let us first understand, what do you mean by Sustainable Menstruation? Sustainable menstruation means adopting such practices that are safe for the environment.

Why switch to Sustainable Menstruation? What is wrong with the disposable ones?

  • Disposable sanitary pads are full of chemicals to make them super-absorbent, dry for hours and odour free. These chemicals are harmful to our health and can cause several kinds of diseases and infections.
  • Disposable napkins are made of plastic and are non-biodegradable. Therefore, all the sanitary napkins ever used are still lying somewhere because they take millions of years to decompose.
  • Disposable napkins are expensive. A significant percentage of menstruating women in India do not use disposable pads because they are expensive. Efforts are being made to make cheaper options available but the more long-term solution would be to create awareness about hygiene and menstrual health and encourage the use of cloth pads and biodegradable pads or menstrual cups. 

Options available

  • Menstrual cups: I haven’t used them personally but they are the most preferred option among women who need to go out for long hours. All they need is a little clean water to clean it and get back on.
  • Cloth pads: Right now, this is my preferred choice. It works almost similar to disposable ones. There are different options for days with more flow and less flow.
  • Biodegradable pads: They are exactly like disposable ones, in usage, but decompose more quickly.

Why did I decide to take the plunge?

  • I have been working towards minimizing chemicals from my lifestyle. I hardly ever use any creams. I have minimized the use of shampoo, stopped using conditioners and serum. Therefore, stopping the use of disposable pads, which are laden with chemicals, was the obvious next step.
  • The way climate change is reflecting on human tragedies is scary. Scientists are warning of much worse consequences if concrete and immediate steps are not taken to curb global warming. It is important to take some necessary steps towards an eco-sustainable lifestyle. Being ignorant or living in denial is not wise. By throwing disposable pads during every cycle every month, for years, we are just adding to the burden on the earth.
  • I stay at home most of the time. I can change and wash my pads easily at home. Even if I venture out for a few hours, the cloth pads are as good as the disposable ones.,
  • It saves a lot of money (even if that is not the main intention, why not!)

Every small step taken by each individual goes a long way in creating a global impact. So, we should try to do whatever we can. I have observed that for every change, all it requires is the will to make a change and the mindset.

And while I am on the topic, I don’t understand the taboo associated with this subject. We discourage superstitions associated with menstruation in our home. It is also important to educate and sensitize both girls and boys about this very fundamental ‘periodic’ process that is the foundation of life.

15 days of social distancing

These times are surreal. 6 months back, we had no inkling of how a virus is going to shake up the world.

On 9th March 2020, Maharashtra reported its first 2 cases of coronavirus or COVID-19 (in Pune). India reported its first case on 30th January itself, but it doesn’t seem real until the time it knocks at your door, does it?

The numbers started piling up in no time, with cases being reported from different parts of the city. By 12th March, when my son came back from school, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to send him back the next day.

Fortunately, his school is quite proactive and always puts the interests of children first. They shut the school immediately.

At 8, my son is like other 8-year-olds; his life revolves around school and friends. I was expecting some resistance in putting across the idea that he wouldn’t be able to go out to play with his friends with immediate effect. Surprisingly, he took it well.

From the evening of 12th March till now, we have been staying at home.

I’m sure every family is finding creative ways to keep themselves occupied in these times of social distancing and self-isolating. With an active 8 year old boy at home, our activities are obviously skewed towards child-friendly ones:

Playing games

Image credit: Amazon

We have been playing Scrabble since our son was 4, and it is still the most popular game in our household. We play at least one game every day and try to mix it up. We also play other board games and card games like Letter Ladder, Monopoly, Guess-in-10 (Cities), and 300-pieces jigsaw puzzles, but 90% of the time, we end up playing Scrabble. With a single child, one or both of us become his play-buddy.

It is quite interesting how kids have devised a way to play with each other. Since most of them stay in the same building or the facing building, they have been playing different games from their respective balconies. Quite a stroke of genius actually!

A bit of digital screen time

Since we do not watch TV, we allow 30-45 minutes of an age-appropriate, supervised, offline mobile game to our 8-year-old. He has been (actually we all have been) playing this relatively harmless and cute game called ‘Dino Park’. It has several levels in which you need to dig out bones and make dinosaurs. It encourages interest in dinosaurs too (which was an unintended and unexpected outcome of playing the game). We also played a few online geography games to brush up his knowledge of countries and flags.

Working Out

Initially, we used to go out early in the morning to run/ walk / cycle and get a bit of sun but when things started getting more serious, we stopped that as well. I’ve always done home workouts and therefore, I try to do something or the other at least a couple of days every week. It is important to be consistent to succeed in anything.

It is also important for the kids to get some exercise everyday whether or not they are playing outside, more so, when they are into sports. So, our budding all rounder has been practicing and showing tremendous improvement in his rope jumps. We also encourage him to do body weight exercises as also advised by his coach. The reason I started working out a couple of years back was to inculcate the habit in my son. You cannot tell kids to do something and not do that yourself.


With time on hand, the best thing to have happened is that our son has started taking a lot of interest in helping out in the kitchen and learning to cook. Kids should be encouraged when they show interest in household chores, even if it takes more time and sometimes get messy. Though he has been making tea for an year now, currently he has become completely independent in handling everything on his own – lighting up the stove, measuring water, adding spices, measuring milk, tea and sugar, straining tea and serving too. He also took to making dough quite easily (something which many people make a mess of) and making kachoris and chapatis.

Helping each other

With self-isolation, we have also not had our house help for 13 days now. All of us have been pitching in to do the household chores. When everyone shares the load, one person does not feel burdened. It should be a way of life in every house.

Since the time my son was born, I had two goals for him– to inculcate a habit of reading and to internalize in him that housework is everyone’s work. It is a blessing that his dad is a good example to emulate.

Watching movies

We have spent very little time watching movies since I do not propose anything on my own that involves a screen.

When I was little, our school took us to watch ‘Karamati Coat’ in a movie hall. I loved that movie and wanted to show it to him for some time now. Luckily, I found it on YouTube, and we finally watched it recently.

Since he is into sports, I thought he would also enjoy ‘Chak De! India’. I forward scenes, which I feel are inappropriate for him.


Since we cannot get any new books or visit the library, we have been sharing books. I pulled out some books from my collection, which are suitable for my little reader like ‘People who changed the World’ and ‘History of the World’. I have started reading his ‘the Gita for children’, and also started the mammoth ‘Parva‘. Since he has been playing a game on Dinosaurs, he also started rereading ‘Dawn of Planet Earth’.

I don’t ask him to read anything, the trick is to read it yourself. They soon want to read what Mumma is reading. Always works!


Honestly, this is the first thing I have written in a really long time though my son keeps writing random things every day. He wrote a paragraph on ‘Karamati Coat and decided to make questions on it. He wrote the process of making ghee, and made a visual tutorial to solve Rubik’s cube too (which we are currently improvising).


Personally, it was thrilling to sketch after ages. My son sketched all the dinosaurs. Dad and son also did some 3D sketching. He also likes sketching by looking at objects or scenery, and he has quite a good understanding of scale and perspective.

Of course, it isn’t hunky dory all the time, but with nowhere to go and no need to rush on things, our home is far more peaceful.

There are so many free online resources available right now to help people stay at home but thankfully, we have not had to try any of those. We definitely haven’t picked up his schoolbooks because we have never ‘taught’ him that way. We just follow interests and go with the flow.

Yesterday, all of a sudden, he asked us whose picture was used on Indian currencies before Mahatma Gandhi was born, and we used that opportunity to learn about evolution of Indian currencies.

It is a difficult time for the entire world. Perhaps for the first time, we are all in it together at the same time. Let us be a little more responsible and do our best in stopping the community spread. Let us stay at home and support people who are leading from the front.

Do share what you all are doing at home.

Check out the archives for other posts.

Whole Wheat – Jaggery Cake recipe

Taking my whole wheat cake recipe to another (read healthier) level, I replaced sugar with jaggery; and got an absolutely healthy and delectable cake which everyone in the family loved. It has zero all-purpose flour and zero white sugar, and it’s yummy!

Coming back to jaggery, I have almost completely switched to jaggery for all my sweet requirements (like in my coffee or in my desserts). I don’t mind the difference in the taste. In fact, it works for me.



Whole Wheat Flour (Aata): 250 gms

Jaggery: 125 gms

[Tip: Jaggery has a textured taste and you can increase or decrease its quantity according to how sweet you want the cake to be. ]

Cooking Oil / Butter (melted): 80 ml

[Tip: I take approximately one-third of the whole wheat quantity]

Eggs: 4

[Tip: Beat the yellow and white portions separately for best results]

Water: 100 ml (approximately)

Baking Powder: 1 tsp

Baking Soda: ¼ tsp

Vanilla Essence: 2 tsp

Cinnamon powder: ¼ tsp (optional)

Salt: ¼ tsp (optional)



  1. Mix all the dry ingredients, viz., Wheat flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Cinnamon powder and Salt. Keep aside.
  2. Mix Jaggery with a little water and melt it by putting it on stove or microwave.
  3. Beat the eggs in separate bowls for 4-5 minutes.
  4. Mix the Jaggery, oil and eggs together. Make sure that the jaggery has cooled down because once it gets cooler, the batter will thicken. So, if required, add a bit of water for smooth consistency. How the cake turns out also depends upon how uniformly the ingredients have been blended together.
  5. Add the dry mixture from Step 1 to the wet one in Step 4. Add Vanilla essence to this

    The whole wheat – Jaggery cake batter


  6. Grease the container and dust with some whole wheat flour. I used a 500 ml Borosil square glass bowl. Pre-heat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius. For Microwave-convection users, select 200 degrees temperature in Pre-heat mode.
  7. After it pre-heats, pour the batter to 80% of the capacity of the bowl.
  8. Select 200 degrees temp. C in Convection mode and bake for around 35 minutes. The time depends upon the container you are using. Any smaller cake will take less amount of time, anything bigger will take more. I baked 2 cakes of this size with this batter. I usually don’t bake the entire thing in one go; so if anything goes wrong, it can be fixed in the next one 🙂
  9. Insert a pin or knife towards the centre to find out if the cake has baked well. If the knife comes out dry, it means the cake is ready, take it out and let it cool.

After all the hard work, I was skeptical if the cake will turn out well. But in the end, everyone loved it and that’s what matters!


Now you need to consider a few things when it comes to whole wheat cakes.DSC_1912

a. The cake will be less spongy than the regular all-purpose flour cake.

b. Consider it as an alternative to cookies / biscuits which you or your kids eat. If oil is a cause of concern, remember, all cookies have oils; even the healthier options. They just have a small percentage of whole wheat flour. Here, we are making an entire cake with whole wheat flour and jaggery. And don’t forget, no preservatives. I love giving this in my son’s tiffin and he loves it.

No-cook, Protein packed Sattu laddoo recipe

DSC_1708_1Suddenly everyone is talking about ‘Sattu’; it has become the new super food that you must include in your diet. The eastern and northern parts of India (may be even central)  have always had Sattu as part of their diet, especially during scorching summer months; but for the benefit of everyone else, let’s understand what exactly Sattu is.

Simply put, Sattu is the powder of dry roasted Bengal gram. Sattu shouldn’t be confused with besan. While Besan is the flour of ‘raw’ gram, Sattu is the flour of ‘roasted’ gram.  Sattu is coarser and healthier.

Why Sattu laddoos make for an excellent snack for kids:

  • Extremely quick to make. Hardly takes 5 minutes. Just make it whenever the kids are hungry. No need to make and store.
  • Perhaps the easiest laddoo to make; easier than even peanut laddoo, certainly easier than besan laddoo. Can be made even by kids themselves.
  • A minimalist recipe. Don’t need to remember too many ingredients or any proportions.
  • No cooking involved.
  • Packed with nutrients like protein (23%), carbohydrates (64%), fat (13%) [ Source]. It is fiber rich and known to also contain Calcium, Iron and Magnesium.
  • Keeps you cool in hot summer.
  • Tasty

It is certainly my no. 1 go-to recipe for a healthy and quick snack for my 6 year old.


  • Sattu / Roasted gram flour
  • Sugar
  • Ghee / Clarified butter
  • Water


sattu laddoo

  • You have to take quantities according to your preference and taste.
  • I take the regular sugar, you may use powdered one. The regular sugar granules give a crunchy taste.


  • Take Sattu in a bowl.
  • Add sugar (as per taste), Ghee (that gives moist, rich taste) and water (only so much that it can bind the laddoo.
  • Mix everything and make balls or laddoos. That’s it.
  • Go ahead and eat 🙂

Note: Apologies for such poor quality pictures.

Easy Besan (Gram flour) laddoo recipe for amateurs

DSC_1665_1Cooking is not really one of my favourite things. The thing which inspires me to cook and experiment with food is Health. I’m passionate about my and my family’s health. For that, I’m ready to go that extra mile and experiment with recipes that would appeal to them.

I discourage junk food at home, but let me make this clear that there are also days when I end up eating Aata Maggi (ready made noodles) for Dinner or may be give jam cookies to my son 3 days in a row.

What matters is making an effort as much as you can!

Gram flour (besan) laddoo is a popular Indian sweet and extremely nutritious. It is a house favourite. All of us love it. After a few failures I finally learnt an easy recipe from my mother-in-law and now I find it very easy to make. Therefore, I make it often. It is a nutritious snack for kids; better than the store-bought cookies any day.


Here’s an easy recipe to make besan laddoo at home:


Untitled1 cup = 150 gms

  • Gram flour / Besan : 3 cups
  • Semolina / Sooji (of fine quality) : 1 cup
  • Clarified butter / Ghee : 1 cup (approximately)
  • Powdered Sugar : 3/4 cup (or as per taste)





  1. Heat a wok and add 3/4th of the total ghee.
  2. Add Besan and Sooji to the ghee and roast the mixture on low flame till you get a roasted aroma from the mixture and the colour is golden brown. Make sure that the mixture has roasted evenly by stirring it continuously and breaking all the lumps.
  3. DSC_1663Keep adding the rest of the ghee as and when required. The idea is NOT to make the mixture too oily because you would not be able to make laddoos otherwise. Initially, you might feel that the mixture is dry but DON’T put more ghee in the beginning.
  4. When it has been roasted, it leaves ghee which is also a sign that the mixture has been cooked well.
  5. You can always add more ghee towards the end if you feel that the cooked mixture is dry but adding too much in the beginning can backfire (has happened to me many times earlier).
  6. Once cooked, take off the mixture from the heat and let it cool down. When it cools down, add the powdered sugar and make small smooth balls of laddoo.



  • Always keep the ghee on a lower side. You can always add more ghee, if required, towards the end. If you end up having too much ghee in your mixture, you cannot do anything except eat it as a halwa 🙂 [been there, done that!]. But let me not scare you, it is really not that difficult. For example, if the ghee required is 1 cup, put only about 3/4th cup to begin with. Let the mixture roast well, you would know if you should add more.
  • We personally don’t like the laddoos with only besan because it tends to stick to the mouth. We are adding sooji for a textured taste. You can also use besan that is coarse and not too fine.
  • There is no rocket science to the proportions. Just keep it 3:1 of besan and sooji respectively. Always use the finer quality sooji. You can experiement with the proportions according to your taste and what kind of flour you are using.
  • What I personally do is cook the mixture slowly on low flame while I’m there in the kitchen for cooking lunch / dinner. This way you don’t really have to invest any extra time to roast the besan and sooji mixture.

Sometimes I just put everything together in a wok and roast it on low flame for a long time. There isn’t a special technique to it. What you need at the end is a moist mixture that can be made into laddoos. You can add cardamom powder for flavour and dry fruits, if you want.

Let me know how it comes along!

9 Best places to go with Kids in Pune


In my earlier post, I discussed my views on why we should look beyond malls, when taking our kids out.

If you look around (or Google), you will find several places to go with your kids which are more enriching and stimulating than malls; and they don’t burn a hole in your pockets.

With my own experience, I have collated a list of 9 best places to go in Pune with Kids.. These are the places which we have enjoyed and can’t recommend enough.

1. Joshi Railway Museum

The miniature city at Joshi Railway Museum / Image credit

I always assumed that Joshi Railway Museum would be a typical museum dedicated to the history of rail transport in the State, but I discovered that it was actually a big set up of miniature railway system.

It will evoke childhood memories of playing with tiny train sets. You remember how we used to have a toy train with the tracks that would go round and round? Yeah, this is just more elaborate.

Kids watching the train show / Image credit

It is a set up of a miniature city but the beauty is in its detailing. There are several signals, posts, fences, tiny houses, platforms, announcement systems, restaurant, circus, swimming pool, fire engine (among other things) and of course, different kinds of trains. The whole thing comes alive when the show is conducted inside the hall with the help of a voice over (VO). I believe the VO is available in Marathi, Hindi and English. The show runs for about 30 minutes (if I remember correctly). But do not go there expecting anything extravagant. This place has been around since 1998 and the whole set up is quite simple.

Learn more about the things on offer, here. Here is a recent write-up on the place.

2. Pimpri Chinchwad Science Park

The outdoor area at Science Park

There’s a time when most kids start taking interest in the outer space – the stars, the planets and the solar system. This prompted me to look for a science related experience, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Pune too had a Science Park of its own.

The place (spread over 3.5 acres) has actually a lot to offer. There are indoor sections on different themes like Automobile, Fun Science, Climate Change, etc. There’s a Planetarium, which could be interesting for slightly older kids. My (then) 4-year-old got fidgety in the dark. The auditorium shows 3D films. Our most favourite section was the outdoor one, which had a lot of interactive exhibits including one display of Dinosaurs.

The indoor Automobile section at Science Park

Learn more about this Park here. It is certainly a good place for kids.

3. Empress Garden

empress garden
Image credit (Top) / Image credit (Bottom)

We have been to Empress Garden several times. Spread over 39 acres, it is home to many rare species of trees and flowers; and its flower shows are quite popular. But honestly, we haven’t been there during flower shows.

Empress Garden is a good combination of a lot of things which will appeal to you as a parent seeking greenery and a good playing space for your children. It has very low ticket charges and therefore attracts people from different demographics.

There is a good parking space (which is really such a pain area and can be a deal-breaker for a lot of places), several playing options of swings, slides and rides to occupy the kids for a long time, a trackless toy train ride of the garden, a basic eating joint and a toilet (the last two not extremely hygienic but serve the purpose). There is a small water body which makes for a pretty picture and kids can also be seen playing in it. It is certainly a good place for picnics where you can take food and play frisbees or balls.

4. Gram Sanskruti Udyan

A peak into the Village life and culture

I am sure very few people know about this place and after visiting this, I can say, that’s a pity! The moment I entered this place, I was zapped by how real and fantastic this place was. The entire village life unfolds in front of your eyes at Gram Sanskruti Udyan (or the Garden of Village Culture).

Image credit

It can be an interesting place for your kids who have never experienced village life and culture. The complete village life has been showcased in this fairly large walk-through set up. You get to see people from different professions busy at work like a village doctor, a cobbler, a teacher teaching kids under a tree, a sweet-seller, a shopkeeper, sculptors, shepherds, and so on. There are kids playing, animals roaming around, wild animals, market place buzzing with buyers and sellers, tamasha (the stage style village entertainment); and none of those things are real. The detailing is so good, you would forget you are in the middle of a make-believe village.

5. Appu Ghar or Indra Gandhi Udyan

Image credit

It came as a surprise to us that Pune too had an Appu Ghar, and we spent no time in planning a trip to the place. Appu Ghar is one of the oldest amusement parks in Pune (Nigdi) with fun rides like Columbus, My Fair Lady, Roller Coaster, Merry Cups, Striking Cars, etc. Check out all the rides here. Every ride has separate but minimal charges. It may not be of the scale of Delhi’s Appu Ghar but it sure is a fun place to go with kids. Since it was developed in early 90s, it is advisable to keep your expectations low because you cannot compare it to the swanky places of current times.

There is a canteen as well as toilets.

6. Sinhagad Fort

Image credit

Kids and outdoors spell magic; there’s no doubt about it! Sinhagad Fort is another favourite of the families with kids for weekend trips. In fact, it is quite popular with people of all ages for its beauty, location and food.

Though there isn’t much left of the ‘fort’, but going up the flight of stone steps is an exciting adventure for kids. Walking right to the top, watching sunrise or sunset and enjoying the flavours of local Maharashtrian food are the things which attract quite a huge crowd to this popular destination every weekend. There is also a small temple at the top.

Image credit

The best time to go there is from monsoon to winter because it could get very hot when you reach the top. Or you can go there very early to catch the sunrise.

We went there on the first day of the year to celebrate the New Year with fresh air and a bit of physical activity. Eating bhakhris and curd in earthen pots while sitting under a tree made our day memorable.

I believe there are adventure parks near Sinhagad fort, so you can plan a family outing while also visiting the fort.

7. Pu La Deshpande Garden

The well-maintained Pu La Deshpande Garden  / Image credit

Spread over 10 acres, Pu La Deshpande garden (also called Okayama garden, situated on Sinhagad Road) is a surprisingly well-maintained and well laid out garden. It has a parking space as well as toilets.

Considering the total area, the garden has been designed in such a way that you just keep walking and you will cover the entire area, walking through small water streams, fountains, little bridges and slopes; and there is also an elevated point inside the garden that offers the panoramic view of the place.

The only problem here is that stepping on the grass is not allowed (which is actually the reason why it is so neat and maintained). There are guards after every few steps who remind you that you cannot step on the grass.

There is another garden inside the same place called Mughal garden, alongside the Okayama garden. The ‘Surya Namaskar’ statues showcasing its different ‘asanas’ are quite an interesting part of this garden.

Though my idea of garden is where the kids can run around, yet this garden is a good place to take your kids to for its sheer beauty and greenery. Since it is spread out over a huge area, kids do not get bored.

8. Aga Khan Palace

The main structure at the Aga Khan Palace

Aga Khan Palace is a historically important landmark in Pune due to its connection with India’s freedom movement. Know all about it here.

It served as a jail for Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi during Quit India Movement. There are statues and pictures of Gandhiji, Kasturba Gandhi’s samadhi and information about the time they spent here.

It is clean and well-maintained, and is a favourite for school trips, but what I love most about this place (with respect to little kids who do not understand so much about the historical aspect of the place) is its huge and well-maintained lawn. Kids just love to run around here. The overall aura of this place is of peace and tranquility which appeal to the grown ups.


DSC_0809 39. Peshwe Park

I think, it would not be preposterous to say that Peshwe Park is a kid’s paradise. It is full of adventure activities for kids of different ages like net climbing, grappling, wall climbing, rope slider, skyway, tower climbing, etc.  In fact, the entry fees is higher for kids than for adults because everything is for the kids.

There is also a short toy train ride. It was a memorable day for my son because he had a fantastic time there. Actually, he was spoilt for choices and the look on his face during those activities, was priceless. There’s so much to do. We kept running from one thing to another. There are videos on YouTube showing different adventure activities in the park. Check out this link for a host of pictures of the garden.

Read all about the park here. Apparently, the idea behind this park was to let kids enjoy the thrills of adventure activities from young age and get over their fear.

There are toilets inside the garden, while the food counters are right outside the gate. It is a must visit place for everyone with kids.

Any other ideas about non-mall places are welcome. I have consciously left out the Zoo because personally, I don’t like it that much. But schools take kids to the zoo often and kids seem to enjoy too. I must also accept the fact that I have taken my son to the zoo when he was very small. And actually, I speak from that experience. I don’t know, I just felt uncomfortable around caged, overweight animals kept in unnatural surroundings for our entertainment.

Easy Whole Wheat cookies recipe

No matter how much you try, you cannot avoid eating cookies completely. I refuse to buy cookies for home but my husband does. I avoid giving my son cookies in his tiffin but other kids get, and then he questions me why I don’t give him cookies! All this junk food vs healthy food lecture does not appeal to little kids.

So, I have accepted the fact that cookies are here to stay. And therefore, I try making those at home once in a while to make myself feel less guilty. Recently, I made Whole Wheat cookies at home and they turned out to be super delicious. Whole wheat lends a textured taste to the cookies. Most importantly, they were well-received by the audience at home.

By using only Whole Wheat flour, this recipe offers a healthy alternative for kids in place of regular off-the-shelf biscuits. Here’s the super easy recipe to make whole wheat cookies or biscuits at home:


Whole wheat flour (aata) – 1 1/2 cups

All purpose flour (maida) – 1/2 cup

[Note: You can completely avoid all purpose flour and go for 2 cups of whole wheat flour]

Powdered sugar – 1 cup

Clarified butter (ghee) – 1 cup

Salt – 1/4 tsp

Vanilla essence – 1 tsp

Almonds – 1/2 cup finely chopped (optional)

Milk – 2-3 tbsp (if required)



  1. Mix everything except ghee and milk.
  2. Then add ghee slowly, mixing the dough well.
  3. The final dough should be smooth and not crumbly. You must be able to make smooth balls with it.
  4. If not, then add 2-3 tbsp milk to make the dough smoother in consistency.
  5. Make small balls and press lightly to give a cookie like shape. You can also use DSC_1614_lowcookie cutter to give shape. I used hands.
  6. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius. For Microwave-convection users, select 180 degrees temperature in Preheat mode.
  7. Place the cookies on a tray and bake them for anywhere around 25-30 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius in Convection mode. The time may vary slightly.
  8. When ready, cookies will be slightly brownish in colour.
  9. Take them out and let them cool down completely.
  10. After they have completely cooled down, you can have your home-made crunchy, textured whole wheat cookies with tea or coffee, and let your kids have them without any guilt.


  1. You may add a tiny piece of cherry or a strip of almond at the center of each cookie.
  2.  The cookies on the sides of the tray cook faster, so place them accordingly and keep an eye. You may find that those in the center haven’t cooked while the ones on the sides have turned brown.
  3. This recipe is really very simple. I make Nankhatais (traditional Indian biscuits) with the same recipe using all purpose wheat flour and gram flour. All you need to do is add powdered sugar and make the dough with ghee. The dough should be smooth.

You may also want to check out my whole wheat cake recipe.


When taking Kids out, Why we should look beyond Malls


A couple of years ago, when we would plan to go out on weekends, we would invariably end up in malls. It was convenient. There are clean washrooms, there are places to eat, there are places of interest for each one of us, there’s a perceived idea of safety; so why not! We would also invariably end up buying a few things which would, on the face it, look what we needed; like groceries (now everyone knows when you go to a hyper market to buy vegetables, you don’t just buy vegetables, right?), a few clothes on Sale (because if you are getting something worth 1000 bucks at 500 or 3 t-shirts for the price of 2, it’s a steal); and then we would be tired and hungry after walking from one end of the mall to the other multiple times (because the bigger the malls, the better), so we would eat at the mall even when we didn’t like the mall food and not quite getting what we really wanted to eat. While driving back home, the child would be ‘acting out’ (because he didn’t get open space and sunshine, and wasn’t allowed to touch things inside shops), we would be lamenting about all the unnecessary stuff we bought and the amount of money we ended up spending, and we would be more tired than running a 10K. So, another weekend would go by in regret.

When I started incorporating Minimalism into my lifestyle, the purpose of visiting Malls seemed redundant. I started feeling selfish about taking my child to mall and orienting him to this consumerist culture which doesn’t aids his growth and well being. It wasn’t doing much for him, it was just a lazy option for me to take him to where I will get a parking, and all the things of my convenience. I wanted to make efforts to break that cycle.

There are a lot of issues in exposing kids only to malls:


Malls promote consumerism. It promotes the idea that you need to spend a lot of money to be happy. You have to spend money if you spend time in malls. Either you’ll buy something (clothes, books, groceries, etc) or eat something or experience something (gaming zones or movies). You cannot just go there and not spend money. You can do that but doesn’t happen (at the least you will pay the exorbitant parking charges).

Unreal environment

Let us admit it, a mall is an unreal world. It is super-sanitized, no sunshine, no fresh air and no places to run around. Kids will always prefer a park to a mall, unless we have conditioned their choices so much that they start preferring the malls. I understand that it is easier for us to take them to a safe and hygienic place but it’s not real. By paying 500 bucks and letting our children play an hour into the soft play area with no sunshine and fresh air, we are actually doing them disfavor. Those dungeon-like gaming zones are even worse. They are claustrophobic and dangerous (considering they have just one exit).


Since everything is expensive in a mall, only certain kinds of people can afford spending time there. So, by taking our kids to malls all the time, we are exposing them only to people who have money. When they watch everyone carrying huge shopping bags, it creates a false perception of society. In that sense, parks are great levelers.

No doubt, malls are attractive places. It takes efforts and resolve to break away from them. When kids get used to that kind of environment, they don’t want to go to the real world. But once you start going to non-Mall places, you will only choose a park or a museum over a mall.

Having said that, taking them to malls once in a while is not bad, anything done excessively and repeatedly is.

Do share your views on this – pro Mall or not.

Also check out 9 Best places to go with Kids in Pune.