Novi’s Recipes (Actually His Mum’s)

For unji (Amber Thomas)
We love you and miss you
and all the ways you made us smile

Masala Chai

1 cup of water
1 tsp of tea leaves/powder
Ginger, cardamom, tulsi (basil leaves)
Milk, sugar (optional)

  1. Add tea leaves/powder + sugar (optional) + ground mixture of ginger, cardamom and tulsi to boiling water.
  2. Add milk until it turns this shade of colour.


Serves two people:

1 carrot, 1 onion, 1 potato, 2 chillies, beans (optional)
Chilli powder, ginger garlic paste, pulao powder (“If you don’t know how to make this, ask my mum, because I don’t know either.“), rice, table salt, sesame seeds, sunflower oil, turmeric powder, water
Pressure cooker

  1. Chop all vegetables into tiny pieces, around 1 cm.
  2. Wash 1 cup of rice with water.
  3. Let’s begin! Place the pressure cooker on the stove, pour 2 tbsp of sunflower oil, add a few sesame seeds in it so you know when the oil is hot and ready. (Cue: The sesame seeds begin to pop)
  4. Add onion and chilli pieces. Stir. Let it fry.
  5. Add potato, carrots, beans (and any other vegetables you want to). Keep stirring.
  6. Add 1 tsp of ginger garlic paste. Keep stirring.
  7. Add 1 tsp of chilli powder, ½ tsp of turmeric powder, 1½ tsp of table salt and 1 tsp of pulao powder. Adjust quantity according to preference of spice consumption. Keep stirring so the powders and fried vegetables don’t stick to the bottom of the vessel.
  8. Add the washed rice. Keep stirring.
  9. Add 2¼ cup of water, stir some more and close the lid and mount the weight.
  10. Wait for 2 full whistles (around 10 minutes or less). Take the cooker off the stove.
  11. Let it cook. Wait until steam loses pressure (another 10 minutes or less).
  12. Open the lid and serve.


Asafoetida, curry leaves, garlic paste, ginger, 2 green chillies, table salt, sesame seeds, sunflower oil, toor dal (split pigeon peas), turmeric powder, water
Pressure cooker
Sauté pan

  1. Wash ½ cup of toor dal with water, and put it in a pressure cooker.
  2. Add a small piece of ginger, ¼ tsp of turmeric powder, chopped green chillies and a pinch of asafoetida.
  3. Add 1 cup of water, place the cooker on the stove, close the lid and mount the weight.
  4. Wait for 4-5 full whistles (about 15 minutes or less). Take the cooker off the stove.
  5. Let it cook. Wait until steam loses pressure (another 10 minutes or less).
  6. In a sauté pan, fry sesame seeds and some curry leaves in a pinch of sunflower oil and garlic paste.
  7. When the sesame seeds begin to pop, pour the contents of cooker into the pan.
  8. Add water and table salt as per quantity of dalitoy desired (about 300 ml and 1½ tsp respectively should do).
  9. Wait till it starts to boil. Take off the stove. Serve hot. (Tastes best when mixed with cooked rice)

Indian Fries

2 potatoes
Amchur powder, asafoetida, chilli powder, curry leaves, table salt, sesame seeds, sunflower oil, turmeric powder
Sauté pan

  1. Chop the potatoes in the shape of fingers. Add 1 tsp of table salt. Mix and let it be.
  2. Mount the sauté pan on the stove. Add 1 tbsp of sunflower oil, a few sesame seeds, a pinch of asafoetida and some curry leaves. Wait until sesame seeds begin to pop.
  3. Meanwhile, drain the water released by the potatoes. (“Osmosis. It’s science!“)
  4. Add 1 tsp of chilli powder, ½ tsp of turmeric powder, ¼ tsp of amchur powder, and a pinch of asafoetida to the potatoes, and mix.
  5. When the oil is ready (sesame seeds be poppin’), add the potato fingers in the pan.
  6. Close the lid and let it cook/fry. Stir occasionally.
  7. You can use a fork to poke at the potato fingers to check if they are properly cooked/softened.
  8. Open the lid to let the water evaporate, and make the potatoes crispy.
  9. Sprinkle some chutney powder. (optional)
  10. Take the pan off the stove. Serve hot.

Sardine Curry

1 potato
Canned sardines
Amchur powder, asafoetida, chilli powder, coconut powder, table salt, Sichuan pepper, water
Sauté pan

  1. Chop the potatoes into little pieces, and add them to 2 cups of water in the sauté pan. Add 2 tsp of table salt. Mount it on a stove and allow it to boil.
  2. In the meantime, take 4 tsp of coconut powder, 2 tsp of chilli powder, ¼ tsp of amchur powder, and a pinch of asafoetida in a blender. Add ½ cup of water. Blend until the masala turns into a paste.
  3. Add 6-7 Sichuan peppers and blend some more, but not too much. We want the Sichuan peppers to add flavour but not make it too bitter spicy.
  4. When the potatoes are cooked and the water begins to boil, add the masala paste to the sauté pan.
  5. Add the sardines. The sardines bring their own oil to the table.
  6. Let it boil. Stir occasionally.
  7. Serve hot. (Tastes best when mixed with cooked rice)

Mackerel Fry

Canned mackerel
Amchur powder, chilli powder, garlic paste, pepper, table salt
Frying pan

  1. Add ¼ tsp of chilli powder and a pinch of amchur powder to 1 tsp of garlic paste.
  2. Apply the mixture on to the mackerel.
  3. Fry in 1 tsp of sunflower oil.
  4. Sprinkle pepper and table salt according to taste.
M 20180929
Pulao and fried mackerel (29 September 2018)

Why so Ravenclaw?

I used to think the Houses of Hogwarts are too hard-defined, until I came across this Reddit post, that argues it is not the traits you possess, but the traits you value most of all, that your house selection is based upon. A Hufflepuff need not necessarily be hard working. It just means s/he values hard work, as in aspires to work hard, whether they actually do it or not is secondary and up to the individual.

Albus Dumbledore: It is our choices, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

That explains a lot about why Peter Pettigrew, Neville Longbottom and Hermione Granger were Gryffindors, or why Gilderoy Lockhart was a Ravenclaw, or why Crabbe and Goyle were Slytherins. Pettigrew was neither daring nor chivalrous, but he aspired to be both, which explains why he hung out with the people he wanted to become like, but failed. To be fair to him, he did show great loyalty to Voldemort (i.e. the morals he chose to live with) towards the end of his life, and was brave enough to cut off his own hand for his master.

Personally, I was a little disappointed (not gonna lie) when Pottermore put me in Slytherin (prior to my Hogwarts is Here days) because I saw myself as smart, but never ambitious or resourceful (maybe that is who I secretly aspired to be?). When I joined HiH, I was glad I got to pick Ravenclaw. I took the quiz again in late 2015, when the new Pottermore website released, and I was sorted into Ravenclaw. That made me start to think of myself as perhaps a Slytherclaw (Slytherin + Ravenclaw). Maybe I value wit and wisdom more now? Or maybe hanging out with the Ravenclaws in the League of 42 rubbed off on me? To be honest, half of my dorm are closet Hufflepuffs, I can tell. They’re so adorably sweet (something I tend to associate with Hufflepuff, for some reason).

The Sorting Hat is notorious for refusing to admit it has made a mistake in its sorting of a student. On those occasions when Slytherins behave altruistically or selflessly, when Ravenclaws flunk all their exams, when Hufflepuffs prove lazy yet academically gifted and when Gryffindors exhibit cowardice, the Hat steadfastly backs its original decision. On balance, however, the Hat has made remarkably few errors of judgement over the many centuries it has been at work.

(Source: Sorting Hat on Pottermore)

But, after reading what J. K. Rowling had to say about the sorting (she has officially stated on record that the Sorting Hat is never wrong), I now think I am a Ravenpuff (Ravenclaw + Hufflepuff). I value wit, wisdom and knowledge, but I also aspire to work hard, with dedication and patience (qualities I do not think I possess or exhibit right now).

I can still be extremely resourceful and cunning. That is who I am. If the Sorting hat picked me based upon who I was, I would be a Slytherin. But if it picked me based upon what I value, I would be a Ravenclaw, or worst case, a Hufflepuff (never a Gryffindor, interestingly).

There you go.

Bonus: This Seamus Gorman video on YouTube-

ASTR 101 : Lunar Viewing (Lesson 5)

Continued from ASTR 101 : Buying a Telescope (Lesson 2).

I’m finished with my Charms homework. I can finally sit down to use my new telescope in peace, and practice Astronomy! The view from my window today looks magnificent, thanks partly to the clear sky, and partly to the fortunate location of the first years’ dorm up in the Ravenclaw Tower. It may not be as ideal as the terrace of Astronomy Tower, but this will do just fine for my date with the Moon tonight.

No matter if you’re a wizard or a muggle, the Moon will always fascinate you. That is why we cannot stop looking at it, even though it has been showing us the same face, unchanged for thousands of years. The Moon rotates around the Earth in a tidally locked synchronous manner, i.e. its near side is always facing the Earth.[4]

The assignments for the ASTR 101 course have been fun, so far, and I hope they continue to be so. There are mandatory assignments as well as extra-credit ones, and I have managed to do well in both, which makes me happy. But most of all, I have enjoyed the time we spent exploring the night sky with our magical telescopes.[1]

The Moon today (Thursday, 9 August 2018) is in a waning crescent phase. In this phase, the Moon’s illumination will grow smaller each day until the New Moon, which is three nights away. During this phase, the Moon is getting closer to the Sun as viewed from Earth and the night side of the Moon is facing the Earth with only a small edge of the Moon being illuminated. This phase is best viewed an hour or 2 before the sunrise and can be quite beautiful if one is willing to get up early, which I made sure I did. Actually, I did not sleep at all, out of excitement, and the Charms homework which kept me up until now. The waning crescent phase can also be a great time to see the features of the Moon’s surface. Along the edge where the illuminated portion meets the dark side, the craters and mountains cast long shadows making them easier to observe with a telescope.[2]

The magical albedo of the Moon right now is 0.12, which means the magical energy sent to the Earth from the Moon is waning too. Albedo is one of the five factors that determine the A.M.E. Quotient of an astronomical object. In case of the Moon, the Albedo is the only real variable that changes on a daily basis, over the course of 27.3 days that the Moon takes to go around the Earth. The other four variables- composition, observed size, interference,  and surface do not necessarily vary as much as albedo does, in the case of the Moon.[5]

Now that I had a look at the moon, which was not very much, considering the waning crescent phase, it is time to return the telescope back to its safe resting place. I’ll wait another fortnight until it is near the full Moon, to get another good look. I have to be careful to avoid the full Moon day, because it is harmful to both me and my telescope’s magical properties, to be viewing the full Moon through its lenses.[3]

Until next time, ciao.

[1] Lesson 1, An Introduction
[2] Lesson 2, Magical Telescopes
[3] Lesson 3, Telescope Tips and Tricks
[4] Lesson 4, A.M.E. Quotient
[5] Lesson 5, A.M.E. in Depth