Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Salmon Kabob and Happiness

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Sunshine on My Shoulders Makes Me Happpy…… - John Denver

No it is not that easy it seems. Being Happy in today’s world is actually pretty tough. At least that’s what I felt hearing some of the happiness discussions on NPR. There’s a Economics of Happiness, Happiness Gurus and also it seems it has recently dawned on people that “Money can’t make you Happy”. Wasn’t that something we were taught in most middle class Indian homes? It’s another thing that we chose to believe or not believe it. So there were surveys done to show that once you reach a basic sustenance level, money doesn't have much effect on happiness and it has done nothing to improve the happiness of Americans over the last 30 years.

It got me thinking ? What makes me Happy ? I am talking about happiness with my being and not happy on an occasion.
I am not sure but I feel I am most happy when I am not comparing myself, my situation, my child, my whole being with some one else and am satisfied with my being. Now its not always possible to be satisfied. As we go along life, there are dreams that don't come true, aspirations that are not met, heartbreaks that do not mend. But we need to make adjustments around these to be content and satisfied. As the auto-driver in B'lore would say "Swalpa adjust mari"

However in my case the moment someone very subtly compares me or my situation with the Joneses the happiness quotient takes a dip, it’s a fleeting feeling, but its there.As soon as someone rubs it in the issues in my life that I am sensitive about and ruffles up my sense of satisfaction, the adjustments I had made peace with goes kaput.

But I am trying to make peace with it and what I feel is “Satisfaction is Happiness”, a state of mind where you are contented, satisfied and confident to be satisfied--- you are happy. Now how you define your satisfaction may vary but if you try to be satisfied with your present situation you certainly feel happy about yourself.

Talking of satisfaction, I think food and cooking triggers the senses and induces happiness. A home replete with the fine smell of cooking, the joyful hissing of the kettle on the stove top, the crackle of the hot oil, the pop of the spices in the oils is what I think is a happy home. This blog says -- A secret to happiness: "Be a storehouse of happy memories." And good memories associated with food are always happy memories.

But there are certain food which triggers your mood in certain ways.
The Upanishads say that food we consume gets separated in three parts. The solid part that is absorbed nourishes our tissues and waste products, the liquid part nourishes mostly waste products like urine, sweat and the subtle part nourishes the mind. So what we eat has a very strong influence on our mind.

Ayurveda divides food into three categories by their Gunas, a Sanskrit word which means quality or nature

Sattva Guna
Most vegetables and fruit and grains come in this category. This type of food is supposed to promote longevity, positive outlook, steady moods and contentment

Raja Guna
Foods that are not in natural form. Foods like egg, garlic, onion, meat which generate heat and induces activity. The foods cause heat in the body and gives rise to irritability and anger. This type of food in moderation might be good and healthy for people with active life style but does not constitute part of diet of a Yogi.

Tama Guna
Food like junk food, very rich food, food which is heavy to digest. These kind of food induces depression and sadness and does not do anything to promote the finer senses. These type of food should be avoided as it does not benefit neither the body nor the mind

Not only the kind of food we eat but the way we eat is also important. Instead of rushing through a meal and having TV dinners, a relaxed sit down dinner, eaten slowly in a calm atmosphere with an attention and gratification for what you are eating helps to boost the mood.
(References: Living By Design) )

So next time when you are feeling down instead of stuffing yourself with junk, think of the food that brings back your happiest moments, choose something that is light like the Dal & Rice you had first cooked, cook it up and feel the joy.

Now Sattvik food would be the right choice but for me the prospect of surviving on veggies and fruits alone does nothing to my happiness. I love my fish, meat and eggs in moderation and cannot give them up as it will cause me more sadness than happiness. So though I would not want to survive on a "Yogi" diet, I do feel that "Light food", which is not heavy to digest, not too much laden with oil and grease does help to keep the mood positive. So “Going Lite” is the the Right way to go

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I saw these Kabobs at Cynthia's Tastes Like Home and they seemed gorgeous. When I asked for the recipe she was very kind and generous and asked me to mail her for the recipe. Now I know all Bloggers are very busy and so was a bit hesitant to bother her. But she was so sweet that she urged that I mail her so she can e-mail her recipe. It was a perfect recipe and though I played around with it a little it's a keeper. Since Cynthia did not give me exact measurments which is not really necessary I too took the liberty of not measuring out. Play with the ingredients, go by your instinct, make the dressing, choose a fish (I chose salmon while Cynthia had Mahi-Mahi) and grill. Its that simple. With little oil which is just used to brush on, no frying and with fish like Salmon rich in Omega-3 this is definitely very light and healthy.

My "Tangdi kabab" err... "Salmon kabob" entry for Coffee's "Ghaas Foos" MBP -- Go Lite.


Grilled Salmon Kabobs

What You need

Salmon (or fish your your choice) ~ cut up into chunks. I prefer to sprinle a little salt on them
Bell peppers - green, yellow, red, orange (or any combo of colours you can find) ~ cut into large squares. I used only green
Red onion ~ cut into chunks
Canned pineapple (optional) ~ cut into chunks

Dressing for kebabs

Thyme -- I used rosemary, next time shall use Thyme
Hot chilies
Green onions (white and green parts) -- I used red onion
Ginger Paste
Salt to taste
Canola oil -- I used Olive Oil


Metal or Bamboo Skewers.
Soak the bamboo skewers 1/2 hour in advance in water

How I Did It
(in mostly Cynthia's words)

Cynthia said "In a mortar with pestle or a food processor - with the exception of the oil, grind all the ingredients together including the salt, (which should be to taste). It will look like a paste." I used a food processor to prepare my paste
In a bowl, pour out the ground ingredients
Add enough oil to moisten the paste, almost like a sauce. This will be the dressing for your kabobs
Start putting the fish, red onions, peppers and pineapple on the skewers - you chose the colour combination you want.
When you have finished threading all the skewers, fire the grill
Taking the sauce/dressing, liberally, season the kebabs, on all sides. Use a brush, its easire that way
Depending on the kind of grill you are using, you can put foil at the tips or bottom of the skewers so that they do not burn.
Place skewers with kebabs on grill and until fish is cooked and you see the nice charred grill marks on the edges of the kebabs (baste the kebabs with the sauce as each time your turn it).

So I didn't really get nice grill marks because my skewers were on a stand but it tasted fantastic and thats the important thing.

Are you Happy ? What makes you a Happy Person?

Trivia:Consuming salmon is considered to be reasonably healthy due to the fish's high protein and low fat levels and to its high Omega-3 fatty acids content


  1. What a thoughtful, well-written post, Sandeepa! I so agree that satisfaction is happiness. I decided early on that I like being a low-maintenance person and that I don't like "stuff" (my mother laughs when I say that). For me, happiness is not having to lock the front door when I leave the house (the only valuable thing we own is our 8-yr old mutt). I feel pity for wealthy people who spend their lives jealously guarding their jewels and mansions and worrying that their expensive car does not get a scratch.
    Having said that, my nature is rather melancholy and I am quite pessimistic :) I guess I am extremely satisfied with my own life but extremely dissatisfied with the injustices of the world around me.

  2. oh wow... u have touched the right chord san... just when i was sulking sitting here in office for no reason u made me think abt what makes me happy:) well, blog hopping certainly makes me happy;)
    talking abt food i fall into satva and tama guna. although i am not very fond of junk food sometimes i crave for them and end up getting tummy pain which certainly i am not happy with. yeah, i do agree that food has main role in our life, especially when it comes to my mood:) sometime the simplest dish like rasam and rice can make me happy thinking abt my mother and sometime same thing can make me sad thinking how i miss her. so it is full of contradiction:)
    guess i am blabbering too much;) so swalpa adjust maadi madam;)

  3. Wonder the extent of thought process you've been through before writing this post ! also the effort in spitting out those vague thoughts into words! there is no definite answer or a clear which case the whole world would have been a happy place...but trying to do what will make you a happy at the end of the day is probably a way of reaching satisfaction and place for cognitive dissonance that will take one full post for me :D


  4. Nupur
    I love your confidence, that is very important I feel to be satisfied. I also like it how you have a very well defined pic of what makes you happy, many of us lack that.

    Also ususally when we feel depressed we tend to eat junk or spicy food that makes us feel good but I think it doesn't do to make us happy in the long run. It should be "Maadi" and not "mari" right ? Shall correct it

    Wow thanks for that term "cognitive dissonance", didn't know and just now looked it up.
    That seems to describe my current state.Conflicting thoughts, both makes me happy separetely but one takes priority over the other for the greater good

  5. Sandeepa, I like the way you ended your post, before the recipe, I mean - no happiness but only sadness without meat - you're so funny! LOL!
    I began telling you what made me happy but before I begin to sound like a bore or a confessionist, I pressed 'backspace'. You be happy, always!

  6. Great post Sandeepa!! Somebody is philosophical this morning!!:))
    I always tell my kids "Only you can make yourself happy.Don't let others make that decision for you"
    For many years I let my in-laws jerk me around like a rag doll and one day I literally woke up and told myself NEVER to let anybody treat me this way ever again.From that day,I grew up very fast and that has kept me happy to this day.
    So Sandeepa, be happy and be merry.Life is a box of chocolates.You never know what you get but they are all sweet!;D
    Didn't know you understand Kannada!! "Swalpa yaake, Jaasteene adjust madri"!!:D
    Salmon Kababs are delicious.just saw Saju's Kofta Kababs too,drooling all over agian:)

  7. I had been blogging for the past 3 months and at last reached a REAL POST..A-W-E-S-O-M-E!!!
    Great to note abt the prospectives of "happiness"..Yes money brings comforts in life solves many problems but NOT happiness!..
    After going thru the Various it relates to food,(I am an ardent fan of Hindu mythology and morals..Let's be proud!!)it reminded me of one of our old Sanyasis had said "A person who takes food once a day is a YOGI,twice a day- BHOGI(li'l luxurious)thrice a day-DROHI!!(a rascal)
    So,,the world has max of DRO...:)

    Anyway,thanx a million for shring the post,dear..

    My chillies??I got that free pic from blog name goes for singlar CHILLY..besides I wanted to have my own GARDEN CHILLY,just one..:)Thatz why I changed..after all for my blogger friends..and will def think of changing to the old after some more approvals..:)

  8. Wow!!! What a well framed post! You've made me think now... Never gave it a serious thought until now, actually. BUt I feel the smallest and the silliest things in life give us more happiness than anything welse!!!

  9. Nice of you for giving me that "Instant feed back"!!!
    And sorry dear,I almost forgot to appreciate those lovely looking salmon kababs!!Fish is my all time favrts and I simply love the Kababs!!;)

  10. lovely write up which made me ask to myself what would make me happy. to be frank , after marriage we start getting so responsible that I have even stopped smiling and life has become to mechanical and just like a robot.
    the one thing in the present day makes me laugh and brings happiness is my Son.
    To say I am a very fun loving person and find happiness in every small thing. for example when I go to farm market, looking at all the roses and so many other beautiful flowers in a row make me so happy.
    oh Sandu its a big list!! will tell you some other time.

  11. What a wonderful article you have written here Sandeepa. It really made me think. I have just switched from a nine to five job working for someone else, to following my own passions and working for myself! With that comes many changes and some hard adjustments. But I really loved reading your thoughts becuause it reminded me to stay true to myself and what I want to do with my life even when it is hard sometimes. Thanks! And the kabobs look beautiful! I am really really happy to have you as part of the foodie blogroll!

  12. so true, sandeepa. let's just say, your blog is one of the things that makes me happy.

  13. Sandeepa, eriously, you need to leave current job and become a columnist (assuming you aren't one already!). Very thoughtful post - so well written - a sensitive thought provoking post. The salmon looks lovely too. I am always on a the lookout for salmon recipes that tickle the desi palate.

  14. Sra
    Thanks and get right back here and confess. Did you hear that :) ?

    Hey I don't know all that Kannada. "Swalpa adjust maadi" and "Stop Madi" and "Kannada Gottila" is all I know :)

    Seriously we should cut down, but considering the amount of activity that goes in our life its not really a peaceful lifestyle as a Yogis, so maybe we can indulge a bit more

    I know but those are spurts of do you remain happy ?

    Kids bring so much happiness, I agree and life now totally revolves around them

    It takes a lot of confidence to do something like what you have decided. Best of luck for all your endeavors

    Your coment made me happy too :) but frankly thats not the answer I expected, more pleeeeez

    ha, ha would love to seriously. Par kya kare paapi pet ka sawal :) But I am lucky my present job at least leaves me enough time to write something I like, even though its only at my own blog

  15. SJ
    the taste is not really "desi" but grilling made the salmon moist, something I liked. Try adding some other spices if you want it spiced up.

  16. Your post is so well written Sandeepa...

    Am I happy? I guess I am happy, but there's still disastisfaction here or there. I am facing a lot of decisions in life now, and the one that makes me happy is the toughest! But, I am up for it! :)

  17. Sandeepa your kebabs look really good, I wish I could have some right now.

    Thanks for those insightful comments about peace and happiness, I must say, they had me thinking... thank you.

    Please do not ever hesitate to contact me for anything you need to ask, it is never a bother, always a pleasure.

  18. Being content with what I have, I am finally learning that this is where true happiness lies.....I still have a long way to go..... We're our own worst enemies you know..once I get past this, I'll be able to define it better!

    Kebabs do look good! I'll substitute Paneer!

  19. There are no better words to say what you said. I totally agree with you Sandeepa. That satisfaction part, I face it day-in day-out... But I have grown up (very recently ;)) to be satisfied with what I have and what I am. If I am truly depressed about not getting something I truly deserve, I think abt the people in Africa, who have literally nothing, and yet they face life courageously... And that keeps me going

  20. Indeed!!!!!! I felt you are almost reading my mind when you wrote that!! hahahaha

    Usually in my work place I am this big philosophical guru to all my colleagues (when I am the youngest of all) and time and again I am only preaching this to them since the only thing I hear around the table when we gather for lunch is lack of satisfaction at each and every point of life!!!
    Dissatisfied with life, partner, kids, house, family, car...... even clothes and movies!!!!!! Why let these things take over our lives??!!!! Be happy with what you have....... and if you are dissatisfied with something there is a rare chance you will ever be satisfied with anything else!!!! The craving will just increase and find no boundry for itself!

    Great post sandeepa!! I know I say this on your every post but your have outdone yourslef with this one. :)

    And I more than welcome your tangdi kabab into my ghass phoos. :)

  21. thats a great post Sandeepa, even for me whenever i think i make mayself push at being happy and contended with what you have. of course now that the food world had made a great change with the interactions and love to make wonderfull food. this is the container of happiness for me even when i am done i try going on to different blogs. Food is indeed an ideally imp pasrt of life which is why we all are here today.
    BTW the salmon looks great but not my bowl of food. have a nice day:)

  22. Hi Sandeepa -- I do often think that you ought to be a professional writer :)
    Happiness is a one-day-at-a-time kind of thing for me... tonight it's a couple of kitties and kiddies, all safe and warm in their beds. Thanks for giving me pause for thought on a really crazy day :)

  23. Hi Sandeepa,

    Nice to hop on late at night (today feeling a bit blue) and seeing your post on happiness and its true how we could get sucked up by external forces. Thanks the writeup and superb salmon. Its one of my favorite fish...


  24. Sandeepa, seeing your comments on my blog makes me happy - just a little less selfless than Bee's reply, ha ha!

  25. Sandeepa, what a lovely post. You write so well. Like you said I have to have my share of chicken, fish and egg or the longing is going to make me real sad, though not everyday atleast once every week or so.

    Cooking is what me the happiest but the sad part is not finding the time to relax and cook.

    Those Salmon Kabab would have made anybody happy by the dozen.

  26. Hi Sandeepa, For the last 4 years my husband and I have been catching our own salmon and halibut off the Pacific coast. Hubby, a true blue bangal and fisheries biologist, got tired of farmed salmon acquired boat and we haven't bought fish at the market since 2002. Abundance of fish has encouraged me to try different recipes, my favourite one is my own creation, a marinade of coriander, green chillies, garlic, lemon, olive oil and whiskey and salt and pepper. You can't go wrong with proportions so add however much you want. Try it, you'll love it.

  27. yup, it's true, it's a breeze to be happy, till that comparison bug creeps in :( only if that bug squashing were that simple.....

    those look like paneer, till i ventured too near...
    keep smiling...

  28. Ahhh well put sandeepa... Makes me think about what makes me happy... I am generally a happy person, I only think about what makes me sad and angry, but now I need to sit and figure out what makes me happy... right now it is a sunny day outside, I am working from home sitting next to the window, I feel pretty happy but a nice backrub and a cool margarita could just lift me to heaven... :)

    Oh and those salmon kabobs, send some over and that will be "perfection"... :)

  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

  30. HI Sandeepa..I truely agree with what u said and heard. Big things like money or a fame can;nt give u that much happiness, which small things give us. Like working hard for an exam and passing through with good marks or your guest or ur dearones enjoys the food prepared by you or some of your readers atleast one reader say that your recipe has done wonders for them:-)) BUt it takes lots of time..I think almost all of our lifetime to get realized that we never lost our happiness for which we searching through out of lifes in some thing else...By the way kababs are wonderful.Lovely dish. Even I can'nt leave non-veg for ever. That is why, what I do is I give up for short peroids in between;-))
    sorry due to some typing mistakes I deleted prevoius comment by me .Sorry abt that!oops!

  31. Well written post! Just coming here makes me happy!! And I'm drooling over those kebabs...they look gorgeous Sandeepa, and thats surely made me very very happy!! :))

  32. Anh
    Hope you make the "happy decisions". I agree decisions always make me jittery

    Thanks for the recipe

    Thats exactly what I am trying to learn. Yeah paneer or tofu migh be good

    Its hard right ? One time you feel satisfied, the next moment you don't. Good that you now know to be satisfied and happy

    Would love to have you as my colleague :) You bring so much positive energy, really

    Yeah blogging makes me very happy and contented too

    I know...looking too much into the futureis unnerving, taking a day at a time is best

    Do try it, it shall cure your blues :) Wit thwo of you adorable twins you shouldn't have any blues at the first place :)

    Ok no copying :) I love to comment on your blog too

    For us we need to have something non-veg, even a little bit at least every other day. And now even my daughter is same, she asks for either chicken. egg or fish every day

    Thats so amazing. You catch all your own fish, that like a true blue Bong. Pacific salmon are better than the atlantic ones, aren't they ?

    Hope venturing near, didn't mess up with your happiness :)

    You are having loads of fun, I know. Love your cheerful presence

    That was very nice " we never lost our happiness for which we searching through out of lifes in some thing else" -- so true

    Having you over makes me happy too :)

  33. Wow Sandeepa ! what an insightful post. I am mostly a happy person, and feel happy around people who are less materialistic. But I do get stressed about work many times. I am very far from achieving equanimity to gain ultimate happiness :). I have almost completely managed to given up meat (but not yet fish...I am bong!). This is probably because I grew up in a semi-vegetarian household with father being vegetarian. But now I struggle to make a menu when I invite non-Indian guests for dinner. Could you please give some suggestions regarding vegetarian Indian menu?

    My email address is

  34. Nice writeup Sandeepa...u have really framed up ur thoughts very well.
    Nice entry for the MBP.I have also planned to do krithika's paneer kabobs .


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