Rava Upmaa


  • 1 cup coarse semolina/sooji/rava (roasted lightly)
  • 1 very large onion
  • 1 green chili
  • 1 cup of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • salt to taste
  • 1 ½ cups of hot water
  • 2 tbsps Ghee/oil (Ghee gives a great flavor, coconut oil is also great)
  • Several curry leaves
  • 1 tsp ginger powder


  • Finely chop onion and green chili
  • In heated oil drop mustard seeds and curry leaves, then add chopped onion and chili. Once onions are sauteed and reduced a bit, add ginger powder and after a few minutes the diced tomatoes. Next add the semolina and hot water, mix and set aside in closed container.
  • It is easy to do variations with upmaa. The simplest upmaa you can make is without onions and tomatoes. Then anything you add makes it different.  To the above recipe I added some chopped cilantro and cashew nuts to give it just a little bit more. The end result is what you see as the feature image for this post. Have fun playing around with ingredients you like to make your own rava upmaa!

When the Music Happens

Show up, pay attention.
The music happens.

Wyane Dyer in the movie  “The Shift”

It is important to do a vision board or visualize our dream job.  We should do a practice that brings a more tangible awareness to our desires.  (The nature of our desires and their discernment is a whole another topic, but in short for me it is through my God centered focus.)  Then comes the actualization…

(1) We “show up” by continuing to be in the world.  We do not just quit the job we do not like and stay at home imaging our dream job.  We continue working, BUT

(2) We “pay attention” to what is happening around us.  Through being mindful, observant to life we see opportunities.  We are open to possibilities that will connect us to our path, to the job that is for us.

(3)  Then “the music happens”

Let’s take the example of finding a life partner.  We do the work of dating people, and by paying attention we learn from our mistakes and eventually find the one.  Simply visualizing the desired life partner and not doing anything else, is not going to give that to us.

The Dancing Introvert

The other day I mentioned I am a dancing introvert and my friend replied, “That is an oxymoron if there ever was one.”  The idea of putting the action of dance side by side with what is often mischaracterized as the solitary/quiet/still introvert just didn’t seem to work.

“Another thing that I’ve learned is that although I need time alone, not all interactions affect my energy in the same way. While many social interactions leave me feeling depleted, there are some that have the opposite effect.”

Taken from http://tinybuddha.com/blog/accepting-yourself-as-as-introvert-and-loving-your-inner-tortoise/

This is dance for me. The more I dance the more energized I feel. Many of my other energy recharging activities are what most would consider typical of an introvert, such as contemplative walking outdoors, but this is the exception.  I often define myself as a Goan Catholic dancer.  Dance is fundamental to my being, and without dance there is no me.

Beware of the superficiality and flawed nature of “the label” when attached to the unique human being.

And speaking of labels it is interesting to look back at the results of what I have posted so far on this blog. I have 60 posts tagged “dance”, followed by 50 tagged “inquiring mind”, and then 25 recipe posts.  Do not read too much into that. The only correct conclusion to draw is that dance and thinking/reflecting are two things important to me.

Pork Tofu Fry

pork – 1/2lb
well pressed and extra firm tofu – 1/2 lb
red onion – 1/4
red pepper – 1/4
cashew halves – handful
shiitake mushrooms – large handful
crushed red peppers – to taste
lack pepper – to taste
soy sauce – 2 tbsp
garlic – 4 cloves crushed
ginger – 1/2 tsp
Olive oil – 2 tbsps
sesame oil – 1 tsp

Slice red pepper, red onion, shiitake mushrooms, tofu, and pork into long strips. Make a marinade of 2 crushed garlic cloves, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1/4 tsp ginger and a little freshly ground black pepper and crusher red pepper.  Toss tofu in marinade and let marinate for 15 or so minutes. Heat olive oil in a pan to medium heat and add pork, ginger, and garlic.  When pork is browned – about 2 min – add all the other ingredients and and cook for another 8 minutes.

The end product can be seen in the featured image at the top of this post.

Variations: Sometimes I use scallions instead of red onions, or cremini rather than shiitake mushrooms. Cremini mushrooms are cheaper than shiitake so if cost is a factor than that is the way to go. Note that you can substitute pork for the tofu for an all pork dish, or the other way around to make it work for vegetarians, though with the latter you may need to add other stuff to give the dish enough flavor. Plain tofu is often described as bland though it has a subtle flavor of its own, so if you are making the vegetarian dish take this into account.


Unofficial Papal Mottoes: Part II – Pope Francis and Limitless Divine Mercy

How does the role of Divine Mercy” as an unofficial motto play out with Pope Francis? When asked about homosexuals Pope Francis replied, “Who am I to judge”. This should remind us of the deliverance of the adulterous woman where Jesus Christ told those who wanted to stone the woman, “Let the one among you who is guiltless be the first to throw a stone at her [John 8:7]” That Pope Francis, said, “who am I to judge” does not mean that the Church accepts homosexuality as ok. Note that at the end of the adulterous woman story when the woman says to Jesus that no one in the crowd has thrown a stone he replies, “Neither do I condemn you. []Go away, and from this moment sin no more [John 8:11].” This was a nuanced and merciful response, like Pope Francis today. Francis has repeatedly said that he accepts the basic tenets of the Catholic faith such as marriage, family, and sacredness of human life…that he simply is not spending as much time on polarizing issues as that is not what his triage of the Church is calling for.

This message of “divine mercy” is revitalizing and energizing the church.  It is making it more attractive and relevant to the people of the world. Pope Francis was the person of the year in 2013 for Time and many other magazines.  There are many other measures of popularity and positive awareness that can be tabulated, as well.  In recent times there has been a call for “The New Evangelism”.  It is the right time to, as Pope Benedict XVI said, re-propose the Gospel “to those regions awaiting the first evangelization and to those regions where the roots of Christianity are deep but who have experienced a serious crisis of faith due to secularization”, clergy scandals like child abuse and more.  Pope Francis in his daily actions serves as a model of how to do so.  It is easy to simply label something black or white.  It makes life easy, but not necessarily right.  Let us follow the more nuanced merciful example of Pope Francis.

The Juiced Carrot Cake

Today some unique ingredients and processes, so do not miss out on the fun. Cooking a la casa de Virgilio is always about adventure and using what you have to make great tasting food. And the cake turned out great, so follow along below and enjoy a taste from my home to yours. If you do not understand “juiced carrot” or any other tid bits you can go to the end of this post for an explanation, but I figured many of you might just want to get along with the baking.

And do not worry – I have provided the more conventional alternatives and equivalents so you can choose to be adventurous like me, do the conventional thing and ignore ideas like “juiced carrots”, or take the road between – the choice is yours.


  • all purpose flour – 2 cups
  • baking powder – 2 tsp
  • baking soda – 2 tsp
  • salt – 1/2 tsp
  • ground cinnamon – 2 tsp (almost all recipes call for 3 tsp – I am not a cinnamon fan)
  • ginger powder – 1/2 tsp (I like ginger, most other recipes don’t have this)
  • nutmeg – 1/2 tsp
  • eggs – 5 (most recipes use large eggs. I use medium -smaller so I use 5 instead of 4)
  • oil – 1 1/8 cups (recipe called for 1 1/4 cups and I missed that – oops)
  • juiced carrots – 1 1/2 lb (1 lb shredded carrots = 2 cups and we need 3 cups of grated carrots)
  • confectionery sugar – 1 cup (didn’t have 1 cup of granulated white sugar)
  • packed brown sugar – 1 cup
  • chopped cashew nuts – 1/2 cup (recipe called for 1 cup of walnuts or pecans)
  • soaked raisins – 1/4 cup (recipe called for 1 cup, and said nothing about soaking – I soaked in a mix of swiss chocolate syrup, Afri Koko liquor  and cashew feni. for 12 hours)
  • chopped blanched almond slivers – large handful to serve as garnish (no recipes I found had this as they typically make/use cream frosting which I do not fancy)


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare two 9” pans or one 12” cake pan or one 9”x 13” sheet pan by lining with parchment or wax paper. In my case I used two 1.5 qt pyrex loaf pans and a 1 2/3 cup pyrex bowl. I had two potlucks so one for each, plus something for me to enjoy beforehand and make sure it passed the stomach test as it was all an experiment.
  2. Mix together in a bowl together flour,baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and ginger.
  3. In a bigger bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, sugars, for about minute or so.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and mix for about 2 minutes more.
  5. Add the grated carrots. Then add nuts and raisins, and vanilla.
  6. Pour batter in prepared pans and bake for approx. 45 to 50 minutes. Then raise temp to 350 and do it for another 10 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a skewer, it should be dry when taken out, or just barely touching to have something a touch more moist. (Original recipe suggested just 40-50 minutes at 325 but I discovered it was too wet at the 45 minute mark, and so adjusted accordingly.)

A slice of my moist juiced carrot cake is the featured picture for this post.

Variations (Yes More Variations): I always say that any flavor ingredients like powders of nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamon, clove, ginger, allspice, chili, black pepper are fair game and can be added and subtracted according to mood. Any nuts suggested can be substituted for a different kind. Raisins can be switched with dates, currants… Soak your dried fruit in different marinades of liquor, hard liquor… and you add to the list of choices. Naturally I keep in mind what is the main product that I drew my initial inspiration from and who is going to consume the end result. For the potlucks I was not very adventurous.

Part of my creative process and what exactly is “juiced carrot”:
I had a lot of extra carrots that I was taking a little too long to consume and with a couple potlucks coming up I thought that some dessert was the perfect solution. And what is easier than cake? So, carrot cake it was. Now, that was what I initially thought… I searched the net and all the cake recipes that I found asked for grated carrots! Now this was supposed to be easy and I couldn’t see it being easy to spend all that time grating cups of carrots. So, I looked around and saw the juicer. Why not use the juicer using the coarsest setting and the right extruder nozzle? At the end I could simply recombine liquid and pulp. Further internet research gave the right equivalents so I could also just weight the “juiced” carrots and know I had the right amount. Easy Peasy.