Those who have been thinking of visiting Karims in Old Delhi, there is another option to try out. Many of you might already be aware of it. The eaterie referred to here Al Jawahar. It is located in the same lane as Karims, opposite Jama Masjid and is much more pocket friendly.

I happened to be in Old Delhi last week and couldn't return without visiting Al Jawahar. I strongly recommend the vegetarians to stay away from the place. As the way to the restaurant is lined with not so appetizing sights of non veg food.

The restaurant has three floors, the 2nd floor of which has been marked for families. I and my friends decided to settle in the 2nd floor. They have all the regular Mughlai food from Chicken Jahangiri to Mutton Roganjosh from Sheermaal to Shami Kebabs.

Not much can be said about the ambience and the presentation. The crockery looked old and dirty, the paper napkins were of the poorest quality possible. However, the food more than compensated for the lack of everything else. We ordered Shami Kebabs, Chicken Qorma, Palak Gosht and Roomali Rotis. The portions were good. Ordering half plate makes sense as it allows you to try two dishes in the price of one full plate. They also served complimentary salad.


The Other Boleyn Girl - Review

Two sisters and as unlike each other as can be. One a shy, fair haired girl. The other bold and dark haired. One longed to be in the simplicity of the country side. The other loved the glamour of the court. Mary and Anne Boleyn make interesting characters for a novel. And their ambition to win the heart of a vain and eccentric Henry VIII makes the novel a gripping read.

The novel is told from the viewpoint of Mary who enters the court of Henry as a fourteen year old lady in waiting to Katherine, Queen of England. She catches the eye of the King, whom she learns to love even though she is already married to William Carey. However, she soon realizes that she is a mere pawn in her family’s ambitious plots. The king’s interest wanes and she is forced to step aside for her best friend 
and rival - her sister, Anne. 

Creating captivating characters 
The triumph of this novel is in Gregory’s skillful handing of her brilliant characters - the two sisters, Henry VIII, Katherine of Aragon, the Duke of Norfolk, Jane Boleyn or even George Boleyn. Each one of them sparkles in their own right. However, Anne’s mysterious character steals the show. Quick witted, temperamental, extraordinarily determined, and almost cruel in her ambition, she is one woman who knew what she wanted and made it against all odds.

At a time when the word ‘divorce’ did not exist, it is she who attempts to think the unthinkable. 
She plants the idea in the King’s mind that Katherine was not a virgin when she married him 
and therefore, he is not married to her. One is almost forced to think that Henry is a mere puppet in her hands not the King of England.

Whether Anne was still a virgin when she got married to Henry is doubtful. However, in the novel she played Henry VIII till he kept coming and then turned him away till he couldn't bear it.
When Mary is pregnant with Henry’s child her mother says, “Thank God Anne has him in her toils. She plays with him like you might tease the queen’s dog. She has him on a thread” and Anne tells Mary that she is going to “hold out till he sees that he has to make me an offer, a very great offer”.

Pace of the narrative
Despite the gripping plot and interesting characters, Gregory’s hold slackens towards the middle of the novel. The long drawn delay in the annulment of the marriage to Katherine, Anne’s bouts of temper, the successive miscarriages all seem repetitive.

Historical accuracy and creative license

The historical accuracy of a number of facts can also be doubted. Whether Mary was the younger sister or the elder is not sure. Mary is worried about sleeping with the King and says to George and Anne“I don’t know how to do it… You know, William did it once a week or so, and that in the dark, and quickly done, and I never much liked it. I don’t know what it is I am supposed to do.” 
But in truth, Mary was not a naive maid. Before coming to Henry’s court she was in fact a mistress to the King Francis I of France.

Likewise George’s homosexuality and attraction towards Anne is also unclear.


This is a continuation of my post on my other blog Santa Comes With A Cake. I intended this three course meal to be pan Asian but because of paucity of time had to make improvise. Again not everything has been cooked by me like the Marble Cake and the Shami Kababs.

The Menu
Starters – Spicy Prawn Schezwan & Mutton Shami Kabab
Appetizer –Thai Noodle Soup
Entrée- Chilli Chicken and Chicken Sausages fried Rice
Dessert – Marble Cake in Chocolate Sauce

So let’s start where it starts, that is the starters. I brought a packet of ready to cook  Mutton Shami Kababs from Green Chick. However, had I made it, this is how I would have done it.

Mutton Shami Kabab
Preparation Time – 45 mins
Difficulty Level – Difficult

Mix 200 gms minced mutton with chana dal soaked in water for half an hour. To this mixture add garam masala like cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves, a cup of warm water and salt to taste. Cook till dry. Remove from heat and add chopped ginger, chopped garlic, red chilli powder, garam masala powder, peppercorns, coriander powder and cumin powder. Grind to a fine paste and knead well. Divide the mutton mixture into lemon-sized balls, flatten each ball in the palm of your hand. Shape into kababs and dip in a beaten egg. Heat a tawa and shallow fry the kababs on both sides till golden.

Ideally Shami Kababs should be served hot with chopped onions and green chutney. But since
 I didn't have either of them, I grated mozzarella cheese on top of the kababs. The combination 
turned out to be pretty decent.

Next on the list is Spicy Prawn Schezwan. This was the first time I was making this dish 
and it turned to be surprisingly good. And considering the fact that it needed minimum effort,
 I was really happy with the outcome.

Spicy Prawn Schezwan
Preparation Time – 15 mins
Difficulty Level – Super Easy

Take 200 gms of cleaned and deveined prawns in a bowl and mix it with 3 tsps of Ching’s Schezwan Sauce,  2tsps of white sesame seeds, chopped green chillies and salt. The prawns could be the frozen ones or fresh. After half an hour, heat oil in a pan and break 3-4 dry red chilies in it. Add lots of chopped garlic 
and one onion to it. Saute till golden and then add the marinated prawns to it.
 Fry till the prawns become tender. Garnish with chopped spring onions and serve hot.

My appetizer was a Thai Noodle Soup. Again, I was making it for the first time. I realised that 
I had added too much of noodles to it and the soup was less. Another thing to keep in mind 
while making this dish is that it is better to add the noodles just before you are serving the soup, 
else the noodles tend to soak up the soup.

Thai Noodle Soup
Preparation Time – 30 mins
Difficulty Level – Easy

Boil Ching’s noodles in hot water for 2 mins leaving it Al dente. Run it under cold water and drain. Chop lots of juliennes of carrots, capsicums, onions along with peas, slit green chillies and spring onions. 
Fry 1 tsp of ginger garlic paste in a little olive oil. Stir fry the vegetables with salt and black pepper. Add some prawns tossed in salt and olive oil to the vegetables along with some mixed Thai herbs to it. 
Then mix 5 tsps of coconut milk in a cup of normal water. Add this to the vegetable and bring to boil. Cover and sim for 5 mins. Add the noodles and garnish with chopped coriander and sprind onions.

Next on the list is Chicken Sausages Fried Rice. This is something I thought of in the last minute. If you do not want to serve plain rice or want to avoid making a dal on any other day this recipe could come handy. It just needs three pieces of sausages.

Chicken Sausages Fried Rice
Preparation Time – 15 mins
Difficulty Level – Easy

Wash and soak rice for 5 mins. Drain it properly. Chop sausages in half cm wide pieces. Finely chop french beans, carrots and onions. Also keep a handful of peas ready and slit green chillies. In a pressure cooker add some vegetable oil. Fry the sausages till golden brown, then add the chopped vegetables, green chillies and peas. To this add 3 tsps of Ching’s Miracle Masala. Once the vegetables are done add the drained rice to it and fry for another 5 mins while continuously stirring it. Lastly add salt, pepper, aajinomoto, water, and pressure cook till two whistles. 

Next in line is the very popular and my personal favourite Chilly Chicken. This version of the recipe is easy to make and tastes as good as those served at eateries. I have used chicken wings for the recipe however, you can give it a shot with boneless chicken as well.

Chilli Chicken
Preparation Time – 45 mins
Difficulty Level – Easy

Marinate the chicken in 4 tsps of soy sauce, 2 tsps of all purpose flour, 2 tsps of cornflour, salt and pepper. Chop capsicums, tomatoes, onions, green chillies, ginger and garlic separately. In a pan add 2 cups of water with 4 tsps of Ching’s Chilly Chicken masala and bring to boil. I like a thicker gravy so, I have added more of the masala. Fry the chicken in olive oil and keep aside to cool down. In the same oil add few dry red chillies followed by the chopped vegetables. Add salt and stir fry for 2 mins. Then add the gravy mixture to it. Bring to boil. Finally add the fried chicken and cover for some time.


If you are the kind of person who is fascinated by Henry VIII’s six wives then Philippa Gregory’s books could make for an interesting read. Although the books are not written in strict chronological order or even like a series, the correct order to read them would be The Constant Princess followed by The Other Boleyn Girl, The Wise Woman, The Boleyn Inheritance, The Queen's Fool, The Virgin’s Lover, and The Other Queen.

The first book in the series, The Constant Princess introduces one of Gregory’s most unforgettable heroines - Katherine of Aragon. Known to history as the Queen who was pushed off her throne by Anne Boleyn, here is a Katherine the world has forgotten, the enchanting princess that all England loved.

The best part of the novel is easily the depiction of Katherine’s childhood in Spain. Her early years were spent on the battlefield, as her parents drove the Moors from Spain, and later in residence at the Alhambra. Since her infancy Katherine was betrothed to Henry VIII’s older brother, Arthur. When at 15 she makes the journey to England, she is shocked by the comparative barbarity of the people (though she admits that the luxuries she’s used to—indoor plumbing, hospitals, good food—were introduced by the very people her parents have tried to exterminate). At first she dislikes Arthur,

“When I first saw him I thought he was as beautiful as a knight from the romances, like a troubadour, like a poet. I thought I could be like a lady in a tower and he could sing beneath my window and persuade me to love him. But although he has the looks of a poet he doesn't have the wit. I can never get more than two words out of him, and I begin to feel that I demean myself in trying to please him.”

Katherine is infuriated by the ungraceful ways of Arthur, especially when he boasts that he has been in Spain all night after spending the first night together.

“In Spain," indeed! He would have got no closer than the Indies if I had not showed him how to do it. Stupid puppy.”

Gregory masterfully captures the trials and tribulations of a new bride in a foreign country, in the home of a rude and lecherous father in law and a weak husband. With time however, Katherine’s passion turns their arranged marriage into a love match. Soon the young couple is full of plans for a progressive England. Unfortunately, even before they could celebrate their first anniversary, Arthur dies. On his deathbed, Arthur forces a promise from Katherine - tell the world the marriage was unconsummated, marry little brother Henry and carry on with Arthur’s dreams.

The merciless English court and her ambitious parents, the crusading King and Queen of Spain -- have to find a new role for the widow. Ultimately, it is Katherine herself who takes control of her own life by telling the most audacious lie in English history, leading her to the very pinnacle of power in England. This lie becomes the turning point of the novel and eventually in the later novels the reason of Katherine’s downfall.

In a cruel twist of fate, while Katherine is eyeing Arthur’s brother, she catches the eye of her father in law. At first the lecherous king makes a play for his daughter-in-law, but Katherine holds out for ten-year-old Henry. After years of living in poverty, she finally becomes Queen. Of course, our Catalina is not destined for a happy ending, but the early years of her marriage to the devoted Henry are joyous.

The Constant Princess is strongly informed by historical events, but is more engaging and exciting than most historical novels. At its heart, The Constant Princess wants to be a love story about the Spanish princess and her first husband, and her efforts to keep a promise she makes to him.

Gregory’s Katherine is a consummate actress, a head strong, role defying woman who has the audacity to lead a king like Henry VII, her father in law to boot. Ambition is the sole driving force of her life, for which she is ready to marry even her father in law at one point of time. Yet she is an endearing woman and beloved of the people whose constancy helps her endure betrayal, poverty, and despair, until the inevitable moment when she steps into the role she has prepared for all her life - Henry VIII's Queen, Regent, and commander of the English army in their greatest victory against Scotland.

Hello Again

It's been an year and more. I don't know what I was doing all this while.