Friday, November 24, 2017

Iron MasterChef - A battle against deficiencies

As a guy, I got to develop a mini interest in cooking , especially after my recent purchase of an AirFryer. I happened to make my own awesome French Fries and I realized, maybe cooking isn't that tough at all. This was never my forte nor have I made great attempts to make something edible. However, in a recent study about 'the alarming rise of Iron deficiences among people, especially women' got me thinking.  The foods we consume routinely, may primarily lack iron owing to which iron deficiencies occur. So I came up with a super interesting Iron based dish, that may be lapped up by pretty much everyone .

We've come across enough articles about the importance of a balanced meal and its innumerable benefits. The right amount of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, proteins, irons , carbohydrates among others is necessary to have a healthy and more importantly disease free life. However having said that, the awareness to have a balanced meal especially iron is still very low. Most of the times, the meal consists of just rice , sambar(Lentil based veg stew) and some curd along with a fried pappad or a vegetable like potato. Esp for office goers, the consumption of junk and other fat/maida based items is quite high compared to more healthier options like wheat, protein & iron rich foods.

In case of women , the need for iron rich foods in particular is a major requirement. This is because Iron is a major component of Hemoglobin, which in turn is the backbone of Red Blood Cells. The main objective of this hemoglobin is to carry oxygen throughout the body from head to toe, for various functions. Without sufficient iron, the hemoglobin loses the ability to transport oxygen. This results in a state of Iron Deficiency , called Anaemia.

Symptoms of Anemia / Iron Deficiency include : 

Hair-Loss , frequent anxiety, even a feeling of fear without any reason , anger/ frustration/irritability, are some of the common indicators of iron deficiencies, which require immediate attention and some large intake of iron based foods at the earliest.

Sources of Iron

One of the biggest sources of iron, known to all was Spinach, which made extremely popular by our favourite cartoon, Popeye The Sailor.  The comic always showed the immense power of eating spinach on a frequent basis.

Being a staunch vegetarian, I've been more concerned about iron sources in vegetarian foods and vegetables. Some of the top sources of Iron include :

My experimentation with an Unique Iron Rich Recipe

I tried to think of some interesting iron recipe than the usual boring ones. So I decided to spin the Wheel on Iron choosing some random iron based items to make a kickass "cocktail" recipe.

Choose your Main Ingredients  from the Wheel of Iron !

When I tried, my three spins landed me with :

Source :


The Beetroot Dates Jam - An Iron Stronghold Recipe

What a coincidence that all three of them (beetroot, Dates, almonds) are super rich in iron and the combination could dish out a super fun delicious recipe : A Beetroot Date Jam ! Here's a simple 4 step cooking recipe that could dish out the jam in no time

For my readers :

So if you also have an unique Iron rich recipe, participate in the Iron Chef contest and you stand a chance to get featured in Femina, the leading women’s magazine, as a Celeb Chef. Top 3 will also win vouchers worth Rs. 20,000 and the next 7 will win vouchers worth Rs. 5,000.

Do check out Livogen Iron Chef for more information about this and also to learn about their wonderful initiative to increase awareness about iron deficiencies in women and importance of iron rich foods in your diet.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Top 5 Mobile Phones of 2017

Just barely a month away from the end of 2017 and we have some exciting launches this year in the mobile industry including the Pixel and iPhone X. Several brands including Honor, Xiaomi,Vivo,OnePlus etc had their share of exciting product launches which caused quite a flutter.The premium phone brands including Samsung,Apple and Google had their own fight at the top respectively with the launch of Samsung S8+, iPhone X & 8 and Google Pixel 2 respectively. All the top 5 mobile phones of 2017 had some interesting features which gave a worthy mention.

Some of the Key Premium Features introduced in were:

  • Wireless Charging
  • Bezel-less Display
  • Fast Charging
  • Gorilla glass 4/5
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Processor
  • Dual Camera with enhanced camera quality 
  • 6GB & 8GB RAM 
  • Water Resistant

So here's a roundup of the Top 5 Mobile Phones of 2017 in India.

#1 Google Pixel 2 

The completely revamped , enhanced and infinitely better version of the Google Pixel, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL has been getting rave reviews ever since its launch event.

  • The exceptional feature of the Pixel 2 was the camera quality and has got the highest ever rating of 98/100 by DXO Mark. (No phone till date has got such a high rating).
  • Additionally the phone is incredibly fast, slightly taller and thinner than the original .
  • It packs in a 4GB RAM  a 64/128GB memory, though it also offers unlimited cloud storage. 
  • The charging is super fast that 15 minutes of charging can give you a battery of 7 hours easily
  • Integration with Google Lens and Google Assistant apps
  • Can even identify the song that plays in the background automatically 
Starting price 61,000 for the Pixel 2 (64GB) and 71,000 Pixel 2 XL

You can buy the Pixel here:

# 2 iPhone X

After a few "not so great" launches in the past , Apple is back to their forte with the iPhone X. The flagship device of Apple, iphone X is also one of the costliest mobile phones in their history, starting at a price of 89,000 INR for the base variant.

Some of the key features include :
  • 5.8 inch Super Retina HD Display
  • 12MP Dual Rear Camera
  • Comes with earpods with lightning connectors
  • A11 Bionic Chip  with motion coprocessor
  • A smart device that instantly responds to your voice , a tap or even a glance of your face 
  • Face ID Unlocking
  • OLED Display
  • A 97/100 rating on DXO Mark, just a point below the Pixel 2
  • Wireless Charging and the most durable glass in a Smartphone
 Subscribe to their notifications and once in stock, get it here.

# 3 OnePlus 5T

A company that has always fought the big leagues by offering similar specs at 1/3 of the price, OnePlus has also been called the Flagship Killer. Launched barely 6 months later than the OnePlus 5, the phone packs in some excellent features all for a base price of just 33,000 INR.

Some of the key features include :
  • Dual Camera, highly optimized for low light and portrait photography (16+20MP)
  • Dash Charging , a significant feature of One
  • The most advanced Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
  • 6GB/8GB RAM 
  • 128GB Storage


 #4 Samsung S8

Samsung has one of the best comebacks in the century after a major debacle of the Samsung Note 7, which started to bursting into flames. The company faced a major setback, but came back super strongly with the S8.  Still below the 60K mark, the Samsung S8 sports an infinity display (A curved edge with glass display), it delivers everything you need in a super phone. From face recognition to the latest processors, a super sleek 5'8 device, the S8 is a definite buy, if you are looking for a phone in that budget.

Some of the key features include
  • 5.8 Quad HD Display with a 18:5:9 Display Ratio
  • Iris Scanner
  • Gigabit LTE Support
  • 64GB memory
  • Infinity Display
  • 4GB RAM
You can buy the S8 from here

#5 Honor 9i

A surprising entry to this list of top mobiles in 2017, I was visibly stunned and very much impressed with this great device from Honor 9i. Though they have a much advanced phone for 30K, being the Honor 8, the Honor 9i is a much sleeker and cheaper phone at just a 18K price tag. This may not be in most people's list , but having this used extensively in a photography workshop for 2 days, I can say it's easily one of the best phones I've used.
Here are some of the key features:
  • Price point of 18K 
  • 4 Cameras (Dual Cameras in Rear & Front), with ability to shoot in RAW mode
  • Honor's inhouse Kirin processor that can be a good match for the Snapdragon 620
  • 5.9 inch Full HD+ Display
  • 4GB RAM , 64GB Capacity
You can get the mobile here :

Europa Book Review

My choice of books have always been restricted to crime stories, humor and general fiction. When it comes to science fiction, I usually preferred to see them in the big screen and never really gave it a try. Especially the ones involving aliens, spacecrafts, futuristic stories etc.

Some of my favourite movies in this regard includes Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy, Star Wars (I – VII), Alien, Gravity, Interstellar among others. The most recent science fiction movie on spaceships that impressed me was Passengers

So when I received a copy of the recently released "Europa" by Hywell Richard Pinto, I was quite intrigued. What will it be like? How does one imagine about the things that will happen 200 years later? What kind of technology would exist that could be integrated in the storyline. 

The story was set in the year 2250, and primarily about a special mission on deep space exploration and the unfortunate incidents that happened inside the spacecraft.

Story in brief (Skip the next two paras if you don’t want to know the plot)

Set in a futuristic timeline, space missions to moons and planets is quite common, possibly in hope of settling there at some point of time. A top secret government organization involved in this space missions has some rogue elements inside that wants to sabotage the mission as well as stealing the information.

The government orders a special search and rescue mission to find some missing crew from a previous missing and also utilize the opportunity to research on the living conditions of the planet. In parallel, a shadowy organization in connection with top politicians wants to gain access into this spacecraft, Silver star and get the samples smuggled.

Meanwhile inside the Silver Star spacecraft, the captain finds himself away barely six months into the 2 year mission, with more than 18 months to go. He’s not alone and finds that there are three other officers who have been “mistakenly” awakened”, if so to be believed. Why did it happen? Was it a medical or a technical mistake? Or was he intentionally given a wrong dosage ? Or Did someone wake him up aboard the ship. As the days goes by, the four of them find one of the crew members murdered and that gets things even more suspicious. Soon after the mission the captain finds himself implicated for the murders and the prime suspect. Can he battle his way forward in the trial and emerge as an innocent victim or is there more to the eye, than what it seems?

The storytelling is crisp, to the point and gets into the story quite quickly. Hywel has managed to deliver a good book , especially as a debut author and certainly has immense potential to delve into this science fiction series even more. With less than 200 pages, the book is a breezy read and tends to avoid lengthy descriptions which comes as a big Plus. I managed to finish it less than two days and would recommend it for a casual read .

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

You can buy the book from here :

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Mutual Funds 101 - A Startup Guide for Mutual fund Investments

The current staggering rise of mutual fund investments in India has sparked a major revolution in the field of investments and savings. Earlier people investing in stocks and mutual funds were usually restricted to businessmen, small time traders and corporates trying to reduce their tax burden, while aiming for a quick profit in the small run. It's no longer the case. Almost anyone, be it an IT professional or an entrepreneur ,the average middle class earner or even bloggers for that matter have now shifted their attention to Mutual Funds, SIP's(Systematic Investment Plan), stock markets etc. The awareness for mutual funds in India has seen a sharp growth in the past couple of years , with people clearly weighing its benefits , than having cash at hand. This Mutual Funds Startup Guide should get you started in the right track

Mutual Funds Startup Guide

 Mutual Funds 101 - Index

    Traditional ways of saving money

    When it comes to saving money, we have always come up with ingenious methods of doing so. People generally preferred use traditional techniques of keeping a portion of income in steel cupboards / lockers while spending the rest for running the household. Investment was never really a thing in the age old days, as cash in hand mattered a lot. The use of plastic money(Debit/credit cards) was sparingly used and it was a cash economy all around. Slowly, with high rates of inflation, and depreciation of currency, people began to thinking of ways to divest the money in different scheme. Esp  the “get rich quick” schemes which people invested in made people lose a lot of money.

    The Demonetisation Effect

    Exactly one year before, Nov 8 2016, the Govt announced the Demonetisation plan. This created shockwaves for those having large sums of cash at hand. They were neither able to convert into new currency nor able to deposit in bank accounts quite swiftly. Only then people understood the more viable alternatives of investing in deposits and mutual funds that could be really beneficial in the long run.

    Investing Money

    There are people who never believe in the concept of tomorrow and spend most of their cash today on experiences, things and material. The rest of them try to save every little bit of the hard earned money and look for ways to multiply those savings, without any risk. Their primary option was gold and land, but the subprime mortgage crisis and fall in gold prices (because of fall in crude oil prices) have made it an unreliable option too. Plus land is something that can’t be liquidated immediately, which brings us to the question of which is the best way to earn interest out of your income.

    Why Fixed Deposits are a thing of the past ?

    The first thing that may have come to your mind when I say “bank investment options” would have been Fixed Deposits in a bank. A portion of your money is moved to a separate account which can’t be operated for a fixed period of time and gives a relatively higher rate of interest than a normal savings account. A savings account normally gives a rate of 4%.

    The fixed deposit interest,  that matures after a year or whatever the period you have selected, is on an average 7-8% depending on the bank. Even this interest percentage has seen a huge decrease over the years thanks to the Govt’s policies. Despite earning this interest after a year or two, you still end up paying an additional income tax on these fixed deposit interest earned. This will be based on your income slab, that’s ideally anywhere between 5-30%. So at the end of the day, if you are a high-income earner, you end up getting only a meagre 4-5% extra, after paying for tax on interest (which is pretty much the same as your savings account average).

    The second option would most probably be a Public Provident Fund. The comparative rate of returns and declining growth in the interest %, adding to inflation rates as well has made it a very unattractive option.

    Ok so what If I tell you, there’s a third option. An option, that can pay you nearly 3-4 times the interest earned through Fixed Deposit and the dividends earned is completely tax exempt and completely safe, easy to manage. Yes, that option is nothing but mutual funds and it’s very much true as it sounds.

    What are Mutual Funds?

    To put it in layman terms, a mutual fund is a trust that you invest in. The trust is handled by a fund manager. The fund manager takes your money, along with the money others have invested in the same trust. This pooled money is then divested in different portfolios (stocks) over a relatively longer period of time in varying proportions. Having expertise in stocks and volatility, the fund manager will ensure it’s invested wisely and can expect a sizeable rate of return.

    For example if you are buying an item and ask for a discount, the shopkeeper may refuse to do so. But if you are joining with 10 other people to buy 10 units of the same item, then you might even be offered a 20% discount. This 20% discount is then your net savings. An investment from a mutual fund investment in India, is always several times rewarding than a self-investment.

    Why can’t you invest it yourself?

    With such a busy life, the last thing you want to do is study stocks, understand the stock market trends, create Demat accounts, invest in the right stocks that might give you a high rate of return, with the least possible risk of your money.

    Additionally, mutual funds not only invest in shares/stocks but also in money market instruments, which include
    • Treasury bills
    • Repurchase Agreements
    • Commercial papers
    • Banker's Acceptance
    • Certificate of Deposit

    Yes, it’s a lot of effort and never a foolproof method. Sometimes even losing money is a high possibility, if a company doesn’t perform well in the previous quarter, while the stock market reacts sharply against it.

    A fund manager, hence gives you that security and expertise cover that you require and also diversifies the money among different stocks. This reduces the risk by a great margin, at the same time guaranteeing profits and a sizeable rate of return.

    Why do Mutual Funds give a higher rate of return than others?

    Mutual fund is technically a collective fund from many people. So the money invested is several times higher in comparison to a simple direct investment in any other scheme.

    Like any other industry, greater the value of the investment, higher the possibility of a good rate of return and income. This is directly passed on to the primary investor. The profits are split equally in terms of the original proportion of investments.
    Third, the money invested is across a number of companies operating in different sectors in different industries. This diversification prevents any shortcomings as well as able to compensate for any negative fall in a stock.

    Choosing a Portfolio

    The primary concept of a mutual fund is a diversified portfolio.  There are several companies in which you can start your mutual funds journey. While beginning with a mutual fund, you are presented with two options:
    • The first (being the recommended option) is the ready-made basket of mutual funds that the financials experts has put together, These are generally high performing mutual funds and expected to give you a very good rate of return.
    • The second, ideally for experts is to choose your own funds through extensive research.

      How do mutual funds work ?

      Your mutual company will first specify the “value of per unit of a mutual fund”. This per unit value is Net Asset Value (or NAV).  You then decide to buy as many units as you want in that mutual fund. Suppose one unit is 1000 Rs. You buy 100 units of it, by investing 1Lakh(1,00,000) Rs. After the tenure period of the fund, the company declares the fund value to be 1200 Rs. So your investment is now worth 1200*100 = 1,20,000. This 20,000 calculates to 20% rate of return and its quite significant by any standard.

      How to invest in mutual funds in India?

      If you are wondering which is the best and high earning mutual fund in India, you can get to know that through Groww.
      All you have to do is simply login to the portal, select one of the ready made portfolios available, select a systematic investment plan as per your need, and start your portfolio tracking through regular updates. In case you wonder, Groww is a free service offered . Their services include getting your KYC done, getting all your questions answered, choosing the right portfolio/mutual fund plan and giving you regular updates on your investments.


      How long & How much to invest?

      Before you set out for investing in mutual funds, decide how much you can allocate from your savings / income , what is your expected rate of return and for which event your planning for this. The investment can vary from as low as 500 rs to any amount upwards. The investment period can be as low as a few weeks to even upto 20 years or more.

      You can either choose it to be paid like a dividend in periodic intervals (short term goal) or do a reinvestment of the revised NAV - Net Asset Value(long term goal). You can also keep the returns earned in the fund are retained on the value of the NAV.

      Of course, you can buy multiple units of multiple mutual funds, but this only works against your favour. Diversification of a “Diversified” portfolio only reduces the rate of return without adding any further value to it.

      The Short-Medium-Long Goals of Mutual Funds

      Any investment done for less than 5 years is considered a short-term goal, less than 10 years to be a medium goal while the goals stretching up to 20-30 years is a long-term goal. Some people would find it difficult or feel riskier to invest all the money they have in mutual funds alone. Therefore similar to an EMI Payment, you can pay the amount through systematic instalment plans called SIP’s.

      Why SIP’s are important for you?

      SIP stands for Systematic Investment plan. SIP’s helps you pay in small monthly instalments (even as small as 500Rs), to easily begin your foray into mutual funds. This eliminates any fear of lump-sum amount being spent on unknown territories like mutual funds.

      So every month you end up buying a fixed no of units based on the current Net Asset value of the mutual fund (which usually tends to go up and down).

      The SIP calculator:

      The sip calculator works in two ways. You can either set your monthly investment, rate of return and period and you’ll be provided with a final value of investment. As you can see from below example, spending a meagre amount of just Rs 5000/month for a period of 10 years will yield you a huge sum of Rs 13 Lakhs post the tenure period.

      Else you can specify your target value, period and rate of return and it’ll tell you how much you should allocate each month on this. In order to earn 50Lakhs in 10 years with a 15% return, you are expected to pay 20K per month.

      Top 7 Advantages of Mutual Funds

      Some of the top advantages of a mutual fund are as follows :
      1. Diversified Portfolio: With a dedicated fund manager for your account, you can be rest assured of an automatic diversification, which reduces your risk. Risk of return is one of the primary concern in any investment scheme and this is mitigated by diversification.
      2. Time & Effort: Even if you spend days and weeks studying stocks, you can never achieve a rate of return similar to a mutual fund. At the same time, your effort spent in the same is very high which can be fully avoided in MF.
      3. Liquidity: An investment should also be backed strongly by an exit clause involving liquidity. A land or a gold investment scheme doesn’t offer that flexibility, while a mutual fund can be quickly liquidated as cash to your account, with a tiny penalty.
      4. Cost of Investment : A mutual fund manager expects roughly only 1-3% of your expense ratio which is very less compared to other expensive investment schemes.
      5. Reducing the tax burden :
      6. Mutual funds are tax friendly compared to other fixed deposit schemes. Here are some key tax gains for the same.
        1. In case of equity funds, the long-term capital gain tax is zero. Any investment you sell after a year has zero tax.
        2. For debt funds, if you hold it for three years, no need to pay long-term capital gain tax.
        3. Certain funds called ELSS funds are exempted under the 80C category up to a limit of 1.5Lakhs.
      7. Selection and Control: You have the full flexibility to choose your portfolio and mutual funds you want to invest in, depending on the type of goal (Short/medium/long) and period of investment
        So what are you waiting for? Begin your foray into the world of mutual funds, slowly and plan for your future already!

        Disclaimer :

        As with any investment schemes involving stocks and trade, these mutual funds are also subject to market risks. Hence after this mutual funds startup guide, read the terms, conditions, offer documents and everything else carefully before you proceed to invest

        Saturday, November 04, 2017

        Philips Air Fryer Review

        To start off with a disclaimer, I have never really ventured much into the kitchen except to look for some junk food or make the occassional coffee by mixing a cup of coffee and milk. My cooking attempts has pretty much stopped there after a few disastrous attempts earlier, despite religiously following a recipe book to the letter.  Cooking is definitely an art and it usually takes an incredible amout of effort, dedication and perseverance to master it fully. So the newly acquired Philips Air Fryer (Viva Collection) has actually given me anew kind of motivation to give a try at cooking.

        However I've always had a great passion and immense love for food. I don't even mind travelling anywhere far to try out something different. Along with it,a cheat meal now and then is also something I indulge in quite secretly. Be it the occassional cheese pizza or the crispy french fries at KFC/Mcdonald, I simply can't resist either of them .

        In search of the perfect French Fries 

        The primary reason to indulge in these fries espeically is you can never make them at home. Irrespective of how much you deep fry and follow verbatim recipe book, the french fries is either too soggy, not crispy and doesn't even remotely taste like a french fries. It probably ends up as a different version of a fried Aloo vegetable.

        I came across the introduction of a product called Air Fryers sometime last year . The concept was very different than the traditional microwave ovens, which primarily helped in heating stuffs. I have disliked anything cooked in microwave ovens at home. I however had immense hope that Air Fryers would do a job way better than normal ovens. In fact, when I got my first Air Fryer from Philips , I thought I might even start exploring cooking as a hobby. So how did my fries come out? Check out my video below


        What exactly is an Air Fryer?

        We started out with frying pans that basically fried vegetables under a gas flame and gave a slightly soggy yet crispy flavor to it.

        Post that we had microwave ovens. A microwave oven was typically a hot plate that heated food particles inside out through electromagnetic radiation and circulating hot air around the food. The molecules inside the food get circulated on a rapid pace without disturbing the overall structure and gets cooked/processed to its full capacity. However these can be sometimes dangerous, as you need the right "microwave safe" materials along with proper cooking instructions before you proceed.

        Then came the concept of AirFryers that brought frying to a whole different level.

        philips air fryer review

        Airfryers are slightly different than a convectional microwave oven and broadly speaking a hot air blowing oven that can fry/bake good without the need of oil.

        What happens inside an AirFryer?

        • They carry superheated air under intense pressure that equates almost to a deep fried cooking. 
        • So once you load the food in the food tray provided inside and turn on the timer, a heating coil right above the food blows super hot air into the food. Right above the heating coil, there's a mini fan that circulates the heating air , through the side walls down to the bottom. 

        • The air then moves from upward with high energy through all the food particles evenly and moves up to a tiny exhaust system.
        • This extreme pressure and blowing of heats, cooks the food and gives the effect of deep frying , however without any oil.

        How to make the perfect French Fries with Philips Air Fryer

        Key Points to Note :

        • Double heating is important for it to get the actual crispy taste
        •  It is absolutely safe and much healthier than any fried item available in stores 
        •  The food has 80% less fat than deep fried items.
        • No special containers are required.. You can directly keep the items in the provided vegetable tray and cleaning is super easy as well.

        Foods that can be cooked using Air Fryer

        An air fryer is suited for foods that can be fried, grilled, roasted or baked. 
        Even vegetables can be used for cooking inside an air fryer.
        Some of these include
        • Pepper
        • Corn
        • Zucchini
        • Cauliflower
        • Asparagus
        • Ratatouille
        • Certain kinds of seafood
        • Cake 
        • Brownies
        • Breads

        You can purchase the Philips AirFryer (Viva Collection) from here :