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A journey to discover my RED center.


This goes back to the summer holidays of grade seven at school. The term broke for summer vacations after a month of school. It meant one thing for me – Three months of joy, cricket in the sun from dawn to dusk. I’d wait till the moment mum and dad left for work each morning and after waiting for a good five extra minutes (What if they had forgotten something and came back home), I’d shoot out the door with my willow dragging behind.

Two and a half months flew by, I had worked up a dark tan, which hadn’t escaped mum’s keen eyes and I had to endure some tough grilling sessions. Summer vacations also meant something else – School Homework. Now that’s something that I had let slide for all this while. I worked furiously for the next week, ticking off one homework after another. As the first day back to school grew closer, I realized that I had knocked off all but the Geography homework. On the face of it, Geography was my favorite subject, the task at hand – Pick a continent of your choice and put together a scrap book of political and physical maps, present information about the countries, detail the flora and fauna of the region etc.

Tough times sometimes bring out ingenious brainwaves. As I flipped through the Atlas making up my mind on what continent to pick, the answer became pretty obvious quickly. AUSTRALIA it had to be. Not that I had a particular liking, (Truth be told, I’d wake up at 3AM every morning that India played it’s game at the 1992 cricket world cup down under. I still have the prized poster of all the teams in the bright uniforms lined up and sitting on the Spirit of Tasmania cruise ship.) the choice was easy to make with the continent having only a handful of states, most of which were stacked next to each other with their borders in straight lines. This was going to be easy!

As I went through with putting the maps together and coloring the various states, I also started pouring over information about the land. Slowly but surely it gripped me. The native animals were nothing like found elsewhere, A continent that also doubled up as a country was unique. As I learnt more, I came across a picture of Uluru – The rock that stood tall and handsome in the middle of nowhere! I was in awe. How wonderful would it be to be standing there, I thought to myself. I finally managed to put the homework together. It turned out that I had one of the best works in the entire class. I took immense pride in showing it off to anybody that came home that summer.

Fast forward some 17 years. I have just finished booking my tickets to go to Uluru! And what better time to pick to go than around my birthday. I look forward to waking up to the sights of the BIG rock in the distance. The vast emptiness all around, clear starry skies, makes for a perfect setting to celebrate a big milestone – Yes! somebody turns 30 soon. Can’t wait to get there now. Going to the Red center to reconnect and discover my own center. Should be good. Very good!

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Why I bake.


I’ve been asked for a while now by various people I meet, friends, family, acquaintances, on what got me started on my baking journey and why do I do it. I have a simple answer and then there is the more complex yet truer reason. The simple answer is of course that I love to bake. period.


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The more complex answer and the one closer to my heart, is a combination of my beliefs, events and my general take on life.

There are a few movies that leave a lasting impression on you. A few years ago, I watched this movie – The Waitress. Keri Russell plays Jenna, a waitress living in the American South. She works in Joe’s Pie Diner, where her job includes creating inventive pies with unusual titles inspired by her life, such as the “Bad Baby Pie” she invents after her unwanted pregnancy is confirmed. She comes up with new recipes for her pies based on how she is feeling. She bakes when she is happy, she bakes when she is sad, she bakes for friends to make them happy and she bakes some more, because she has this dream of winning the pie contest in a nearby town, which offers a $25,000 grand prize and a chance to start her life over again. The central character’s love for baking pies no matter what the situation in her life was, was inspiring indeed.

Now here’s another part of the complex answer. This one is all about selfish gains from all my baking. I strongly believe in Karma. I believe in ‘what goes around, comes around’. Every time I bake something for someone, I see my selves collecting a few brownie points. I’m sure over time, they will all add up and I’ll be able to exchange it all for something nice and special. The other way to look at it is, I’m sure I’ve been a bad boy at times, and the little good deeds will hopefully, be enough to keep me on Santa’s ‘Good Kid list’.

Most of all, I’ve come to learn (thanks are due to my mum and dad), you are only as happy as the people around you. I know different people have different outlooks to life. For some, the amount of money they make is a measure of happiness index, some thrive on human relationships and some others get a kick out of doing the best at what they do. I remember the times as a kid how excited I’d be around my birthday. The thought of friends coming over, the delicious birthday cake and the fun times. I wonder why as we grow up, we give away little things that bring us joy. In this effort, I try and bake a cake for my friends to bring back the good old childhood days.

Another part of the answer is relationships. They are a bit like the grass at MCG. Put in some time and effort and they will stand you in good stead. I hardly ever bake at home. I have been notoriously known to walk into kitchens, set camp and open up a conversation as I go about whipping up a treat. For me it is not as much, what comes out of the oven, as it is to open up communication lines and more often than not have a heart to heart.

Well there you go! The next time someone asks me THAT question, I have something to point them to :).

Taming the Macaron Monster.


After valiantly resisting the temptation of being sucked into the latest reality cooking show Masterchef Australia, I inadvertently walked into the trap, when I was over at a friend’s place for dinner and you guessed it, Masterchef was on air.

 After initially dismissing it as yet another reality show that had twists and turns to put a jalebi to shame, it slowly grew on me. The grab for TRP aspect apart, The show did have some worthy matter for an amateur chef. One such episode took the nation by storm. Macaron (or Macaroon if you may prefer) a sweet confectionary, was the word on everybody’s lips. It was the first time I ever heard of it. It suddenly mushroomed at every bakery overnight. Macarons threatened to take over the town.

Macarons in progress.

 After closely inspecting a recipe and reading that it was not child’s play making them, I took upon myself the challenge to slay the Macaron Monster. And boy what a battle it proved to be. The first batch of Macarons I baked never puffed up. While I sat next to the oven, peering through the glass waiting for the tell tale crow’s feet, the batch just fell flat and bled like a cutlet. Round one to the Macaron Monster.

Great minds at work.

 A quick change of strategy (working with egg whites is a science) and brandishing a new recipe, I started all over again. The second batch of Macarons turned out pretty good. Round two saw me punch slightly better. Pumped by the success, I threw in a few tiny tweaks and popped the third batch into the oven. When they came out, they looked Oh so good! While I let the Macaron shells cool, I set about making the Raspberry, Cream Cheese, Chocolate, Lemon curd and Coffee butter cream fillings. By the time I assembled the Macarons together, I was bushed! Final result – Your’s truly won the challenge on points (barely!).

Macaron tower.

Softies.

    I shall not even try going down the path of documenting the recipe here. Too much of an effort to bake this monster, me thinks. Nevertheless they sure are yum! The next time I crave one, I’ll just pop into the local baker’s. For those that do want to venture into the dark side, you can’t get it better than at www.tarteletteblog.com.


For someone who loves to bake, I seldom can go beyond two spoonfuls when it is plated up. It is easier to get away with it when it is your own creation, but I have had to endure being on sticky wickets when friends serve up a plateful and I have that sheepish look on my face. All that goes out the window for one dessert – Molten chocolate lava cake. I’d be more than happy to dig into this one with both my hands!

 This goes back some time. My first tryst with this decadent desert was at an Italian restaurant named Meli Melo in St Kilda. I fell hopelessly in love with it. The restaurant shut shop a year later, and although I hunted for a like for like all around the city, no one even came close.

 When I started baking, I looked all over the net for a good recipe. Either, I just wasn’t doing it right or the recipes just didn’t cut it. After some 4 vain attempts, I stumbled upon this recipe on an innocuous looking website. Nothing fancy, just a simple recipe. After tinkering around with the recipe for a couple of times, I hit the jackpot one late night at a friend’s place.

 There are two reasons I love going over to R & A’s place. R is an accomplished pastry chef by trade and I find it reassuring to have him by my side to hand me tips and tricks that a recipe off the net doesn’t. I must mention, that for somebody that makes a living out of baking, I have rarely seen R in action in the kitchen. The credit perhaps should go to A, for playing the super-mum, Which brings me to the more important reason – Ria. R & A’s two and a bit year old bundle of joy. I could spend hours together with her and not know of the time. Here’s a snap of the happy family.                                

R, A and Ria.

 

After a hard grind at putting together a Gingerbread house (I’ll save this for another time), I set about baking this evil delight at 11 PM. When it came out of the oven and onto the plates, I just couldn’t help but swoon. There were a few happy tummies and the sugar rush kept us awake into wee hours of the morning.

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 200g Semi-Sweet Baking chocolate
  • 170g Butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour

Method

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Liberally butter four individual ramekins.
  • Melt chocolate on very low flame in a double boiler.
  • Add diced butter; stir until melted.
  • In another bowl, beat eggs and sugar until it starts to whiten.
  • Stir in melted chocolate and then the flour (Ensure the molten chocolate isn’t as hot as to cook the eggs).
  • Pour into ramekins.
  • Bake for 10 -12 minutes (Take the ramekins out when the top starts to form a skin but still wobbly when you give the ramekins a shake).
  • Tip ramekins upside down onto dessert plates.
  • Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or some whipped cream.

Here’s a snap from another time of a happy customer!

Ojo gives a thumbs up for User Acceptance Testing.


Life’s like that.



 After repeatedly fending off  verbal barbs from a group of friends, that I upload pictures of food that I cook, onto my Facebook page, but never bother to invite them over to try some of it, I set about planning a weekend brunch. Now here’s a thing about me, close friends will tell you that if something catches my fancy, I’ll try my best to replicate it. Now was a good time for a good recipe to catch my eye. After a good hour of browsing for recipes, nothing really whet my appetite. Here’s another thing albeit a tad quirky about me. At times I give my thoughts a free rein, and go gamboling from one bubble to another, each connected to the previous by nothing more than a fine thread.

 I sat back, switched off and let my mind wander. It was drizzling out the window as I sat on my bed musing. It was the same sort of drizzle that blighted my first few months in Melbourne (About six years ago now. wow! time flies). Back then, being homesick, any sight of warm food with spices would get the stomach rumbling. One of the first few restaurants I went to in Melbourne was a Moroccan restaurant. Bingo! my eyes lit up. I knew what to look for now 🙂

 A few educated searches later, I finally had a rough idea of what I’d make for the weekend – Moroccan Pumpkin Soup and  Moroccan Stuffed Capsicum.

 I must throw in a note on my coterie of friends, here. Most of my road trips, travels around Australia has been in the company of these usual suspects – D, M, N. N the only non-vegetarian in the group has to bear being the minority for a change, loves his wine and is the philosopher. M who loves good music, also doubles up as an entertainment unit. If you want to master the hip and leg movements of Elvis, get M on high ground and get him to look below. D who also serves me admirably well as a lab rat for my baking experiments, has the most pronounced sweet tooth that I know of.

Here’s us walking the skies in Sydney on one of our trips.

View of the Coat hanger from Sydney Tower.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Atop Sydney Harbour Bridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moroccan Pumpkin Soup

Moroccan Pumpkin Soup.
Ingredients (serves 6) 
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
  • 1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 red birdseye chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3cm piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 carrots, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 1.5kg butternut pumpkin, peeled, seeded (see note), cut into 3cm pieces
  • 1/3 cup (70g) yellow split peas
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Coriander sprigs and soup sprinkles, to serve
Method
  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over low-medium heat and cook leek, garlic and 2 tsp salt, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes or until soft.
  • Add chilli, cinnamon, ginger and cumin and stir for 1 minute or until fragrant.
  • Add carrots, pumpkin and split peas. Stir to coat in onion mixture.
  • Add 1.5 litres water to saucepan and bring to the boil, then simmer for 50 minutes or until split peas are soft.
  • Remove and discard cinnamon stick from soup.
  • Add lemon juice then process or blend soup, in small batches, in a food processor or blender until smooth.
  • Return soup to pan and reheat over medium heat.
  • Serve topped with coriander sprigs and soup sprinkles.
Notes
Reserve 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds for soup sprinkles. Mix 1/2 Tbsp butter and pumpkin seeds and bake in the oven till golden brown.
 

Morrocan Stuffed Capsicum

 

Moroccan Stuffed Capsicum.

Ingredients (Serves 4)
Capsicum stuffing
  •  2 large red capsicums
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 vegetarian stock cube (alternatively use 1 cup stock)
  • 1/2 cup sultanas or chopped dried apricots
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 250g cubed or crumbled feta
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Moroccan spice blend (below)
Moroccan spice blend
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180 deg celsius
  • Mix the spices for the Moroccan spice blend and set aside.
  • Break up the cube into a measuring jug. Add boiling water and stir briefly till dissolved.
  • Add couscous and sultanas and cover jug. Set aside.
  • Wash, halve and clean the capsicums for stuffing, removing the stem and seeds.
  • Transfer couscous to a mixing bowl. Add walnuts, feta, garlic and parsley. Mix well.
  • Add Moroccan spice blend and mix to combine.
  • Fill capsicum halves with the couscous mixture.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and place the capsicums on an oiled tray.
  • Place in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until top is brown and crunchy.
 

Here is where it all began. Having recently been introduced to the joys of baking and fallen in love with a friend’s stand mixer, I ended up inviting myself to T & A’s place almost every fortnight to have a go at something new to bake. T & A happen to be one of my closest friends in town. Whilst A loves to serve up a sweet treat, T who has a prominent sweet tooth, doesn’t mind polishing it all off  before you know it. I should put up some snaps of us together.

T & A

T & A & I in Mumbai!

In hindsight I wonder if picking Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte or otherwise simply Blackforest cherry cake as my first go at baking was a good choice. The recipe was intimidating. It took forever to bake. A whole lot of effort went into the decorations. At the end of it all, it was well worth the effort and time spent. A couple of more hours in the fridge and it turned out to be one lip smacking dessert. A double thumbs up for the person that came up with the recipe.

Here are the bits and pieces that make up the final piece de resistance.

 

BLACK FOREST CAKE
Makes 9-inch three-layered cake

Cake layers

  • 3 9-inch cake pans
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups boiling water
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tsp instant espresso or instant coffee
  • 10 tbsp (11/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Adjust the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease 3 9-inch round cake pan, then dust with cocoa powder and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk the boiling water, chocolate, 1/2 cup of the cocoa powder, and instant espresso together until smooth.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-6 minutes.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla until incorporated.

Reduced the speed to low and beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by 1/2 of the chocolate mixture.

Repeat with half of the remaining flour mixture and the remaining chocolate mixture. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until just incorporated.

Give the batter the final stir with a rubber spatula to make sure it is thoroughly combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, smooth the tops, and gently tap the pans on the counter to settle the batter.

Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 15-20 minutes, rotating and switching the pans halfway thorough baking.

Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Runs a small knife around the edge of the cakes, then flip them out onto the wire racks. Peel off parchment paper, flip the cakes side up, let cool completely before frosting, about 2 hours.
 

Cherries and syrup: 

 

 

Cherries and syrup

  • 2 cups jarred sour cherries in light syrup, drained with 1 cup syrup reserved
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
  • 1/2 cup kirsch or other cherry flavored liqueur

Reserve 8 of the prettiest cherries for garnish in a small bowl.

Slice the remaining cherries in half and place in a medium bowl.

Simmer the reserved cherry syrup and sugar together in a medium saucepan over medium heat until mixture is thickened and measure about 1/2 cup, 8 to 10 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the kirsch.

Toss 1 tbsp of the syrup with the cherries reserved for garnish.

Toss 3 tbsp more syrup with the halved cherries. Poke the top of the cake layers thoroughly with a wooden skewer and brush with the remaining syrup.
 

Whipped cream frosting:

  • 1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 cups heavy cream, chilled
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk the sugar and the cornstarch together in a small saucepan and slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of the cream.

Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickened,2-3 minutes. Let the mixture cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, whip the remaining 2 1/2 cups cream and the vanilla together with an electric mixer on low speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. Increase the mixer speed to medium and continue to whip the mixture until it begins to thickened, about 30 seconds.

Slowly add the cooled cornstarch mixture and continue to whip until the mixture forms soft peak, 1-3 minutes.

Line the edges of a cake platter with strip of parchment paper to keep the platter clean while you assemble the cake.

Place one of the cake layers on the platter. Spread 1/2 cup of the whipped cream over the top, right to the edge of the cake, then cover with half of the sliced cherries.

Layering

Repeat with another cake layer, 1/2 cup more whipped cream, and the remaining sliced cherries.

Place the remaining cake layer on top and press lightly to adhere. Frost the cake with the remaining whipped cream.

Frosting

Choc shavings

Refrigerate the cake until it absorbs the soaking syrup, at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. Before serving, let the cake sit at room temperature, 30-60 minutes, then gently press the chocolate shavings into the sides of the cake. Evenly space 8 small pile of chocolate shavings around the top of the cake and top each with a cherry. Remove the parchment strip from the platter before serving.
Voila!
Ria’s first birthday cake.
NOTE:  Be sure to buy jarred or canned cherries packed in syrup, not water. You will need about 200 grams of chocolate for the shavings to decorate the sides and top of the cake. Letting the cake to sit at least 2 hours before serving allows the soaking syrup to sink in and the flavors to meld;

PS: The above recipes are not my own creations. They have been sourced from various websites. All I can stake a claim for is that they work marvellously well!


It was a momentous occasion. My favourite bub and a friends daughter Ria was turning one today! I had been told the theme colours for the party would be Pink and White. A week of recipe hunting on the net and the colour theme in mind, I narrowed down to what I’d be whipping up for my cutie pie.

Ria turns one.

  • A Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte – the famous Black forest cherry cake for the centre piece.
  • Strawberry Panna cotta (thinking pink!).
  • Vanilla cupcakes with crushed raspberry and cream.

The toppings for the cupcakes caught my fancy, as they were not your run of the mill icing sugar frosting. Raspberry and cream – a mix of sweet and tangy, when put together, wait for it…….. Pink! 🙂

Vanilla cupcakes with crushed raspberries and cream

 

Recipe for Vanilla cupcakes:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated white sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 large lemon (outer yellow skin)
  • 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest. 

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean.

Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

 

Recipe for crushed raspberry cream:

Ingredients:

  • 250 grams raspberries
  • 1 cup thick (double) cream
  • 1 tbsp icing (confectioner’s) sugar, sifted

To make the crushed raspberry cream, place the raspberries in a bowl and crush lightly with a fork.

Add the cream and icing sugar and fold to combine.

To serve, use a teaspoon to scoop out a spoonful of the mixture and top each cake.

PS: The above recipes are not my own creations. They have been sourced from various websites. All I can stake a claim for is that they work!

Ashwatthama Hataha! nara kunjaraha.


Background – As the war raged between the Pandavas and Kauravas in what has now been widely documented as the Mahabharata, A war of attrition over who should ascend the throne of Hastinapur, the battle has reached a stage where the Kaurava army is holding steady and slowly gaining ground against the Pandavas under the able leadership of its commander-in-chief Acharya Drona, who despite being the teacher of the Padavas has chosen to fight in the ranks of the Kauravas to fulfill his moral obligations to the king that gave him umbrage. Drona well versed with the nuances of warfare, is infallible and slowly making a dent into the Pandava army. Krsna, the counsellor to the Pandavas, comes up with an act of deception to kill Drona. The only weakness that Drona has is his warrior son – Ashwatthama. Very well aware of this and the fact that Drona would renounce his weapons if Ashwatthama were killed in the battle, Krsna draws up a scheme. He advises Bhima, a Pandava brother, to kill a male elephant also named Ashwatthama. As Bhima plays out the script and goes over to joyously celebrates in front of Drona, who is fighting at another part of the battle field, Drona refuses to buy into Bhima’s proclamation – “Ashwatthama, your son is dead”. He demands that Dharamaraja Yudhishthira, the eldest of the Pandava brothers, front up and make the same proclamation, for Yudhishtira is seen as truthful and a man of his words. A half hesitant Yudhishthira fronts up to his revered teacher Drona and announces – Ashwatthama is dead! the male elephant. The latter half barely audible. Distraught at this revelation, Drona gives up his weapons and is ultimately slayed by Drishtadyumna from the Pandava camp.   

As those immortal words uttered by Dharamaraja Yudhishtira rent the air, the latter half masked by deafening sounds of celebratory bugles and drums, something dramatic happened on the battlefield. The Dharmaraja’s chariot that till now rode four inches off the ground, sank and touched the earth.

Known for his just and righteous acts, Yudhishthira heeding to Krsna’s counsel – “Under such circumstances, falsehood is preferable to truth”, strayed from his chosen path of being truthful and partook ultimately in the slaying of his acharya – guru Drona.

Half truths, white lies, fibs, deception, call it what you may and rank it in order of your choice, at the end of the day only do damage. Damage undoubtedly to the person at the receiving end of it, but spare a thought for the many Yudhishthiras. He undoubtedly gained from his act, which was well packaged and sold to him by Krsna. A war that could have raged for a lot longer and lead to the culling of a lot more soldiers, was cut short. But what about the Dharmaraja? Taking a peek into his camp after the close of the day’s war, I am sure he wouldn’t have had a restful sleep. His conscience gnawing away at his character. A raging fire of self-pity and helplessness consuming his insides. What was meant as a simple white lie, would now alter the course of the mankind.

The one thing that serves as a litmus test of our deeds – our conscience can be a cruel friend. Abide by it, and you shall be served well. Disregard it for trivial gains and it comes back to leach away at your moral fragments. That day, not only did Yudhishthira loose his revered guru, not only did his claim to being a Dharamaraja receive a blow, more importantly, he fell. Fell in his own eyes – the harshest punishment one could seek.

The fine line between being truthful to oneself and bending the rules ‘just this once’, comes at a cost. A cost of having your soul eaten away one bit at a time. Is it really worth it?

It is said that even the great Dharmaraja Yudhishthira after his death, had to spend a moment in hell for his white lie, before stepping into heaven for his just deeds.