Time for another Sephora Play Review. And its the Anniversary edition. So its extra special . Sephora Play is a beauty subscription service, priced at $10(plus taxes). Every month. five handpicked beauty samples and a fragrance sample, reach your mail box. The reason why I prefer Sephora 's subscription box service, over a few others, priced similarly, is that, Sephora sends in brands, which are more popular. For a beauty junkie, like me, that's always a great way, of trying our products. before I make the commitment , of getting them in a full size or not.

The theme for the Anniversary Edition was RISING STARS. It was all about new products, which have become trendy, or products, which have interesting ingredients. Honestly, I was a bit wary, when I opened the box, as I dont do too well, with names, I am not familiar with. But I decided to keep an open mind, when I started trying out the products.

Usually the products, come in these cotton pouches, with their cute draw strings. But this time around, it came in a plastic pouch, which , is more practical, for travel. The samples come in with their manual, with product details. This time around, it also included a list of 7 THINGS YOU CAN DO AT SEPHORA. From Makeovers, to Skin IQ, from Play Dates to Samples, they have you covered.

There were a few variations of this month's box. Mine was matched , according to the skin and beauty preference questionnaire, which I had to fill out, when I created my profile. For those of you who dont know, I have super dry skin, love lip colors , and am fair with a warm undertone.

Being a lip color junkie, I usually always start out with the Lip Colors, if they are in the bag. I had heard of NudeStix , but had never tried them. Nudestix Magnetic Matte Lip Color in GreyStone was this month's pick. Its lipstick lipstain and lip liner in one. Claiming to suit all skin types, its the quintessential 90s Brown Lip. Yes, the color, can be a bit intimidating,when you first look at it. I would have definitely stashed it to my Fall Beauty collection, as the color is quite dark . Its a dark terracotta brown. Quite warm. It was matte , but it was creamy. The formula was pigmented, but maybe I will use it more in Fall.

I haven't used any product from this brand. Trestique Highlight + Perfect Multipurpose Stick in Maldives Luminescent was the  second make up pick, in the box. I love stick products, for the sheer convenience of it. I love my Lancome Stick Foundation, like no other. This product is a gel based highlighter, which can also double up as a cream eyeshadow. The highlight is subtle, but blends and builds up well. Its surely going in my purse.

Now lets come to skin and hair care products in the box. . As I have mentioned earlier, I have dry skin. Belif Hungarian Water Essence is ultra light and super hydrating. Anything which says, is water based, always seems like a good idea, for people with parched skin like me. My skin drank it up, as I used it both in my AM/PM skin care routines. I let the serum(elixir, as they call it) sink in, before I used my moisturizer.

I am due for my Annual hair color appointment, pretty soon. I have been coloring my hair since I was 16 and yes, it is damaged and dry. But I do take good care of it, more because, I am guilty of subjecting it to all these years of color. A good hair care product is always welcome in my stash. Rahua Omega 9 Hair Mask , is a salon quality conditioning treatment made , with omega rich oil , soaks into damaged or dull hair to add shine. Its a tall order, but it does the job. Only problem is that I have very long hair, and this sample only lasted a single use. There's a little bit left in the tube, maybe I can use it for my bangs, next time. Its a deep conditioning treatment, to try at home. I have loved my Redken Color Extend Deep Conditioners, for years. This comes a close second.

Coming back to skin care, the next product is a face wash. Skin Laundry Gentle Foaming Wash, is a gel cleanser, which removes dirt, excess oil and impurities. Its one of those products ,which work very well, with double Cleanse. I used my oil based cleanser first and then used this product, after I had initially tried using it on its own.

Last but not the least, is the fragrance sample. Tocca Stella is a blend of blood orange and spicy lily. It treads that tricky ground between floral and fruity notes. Very feminine and very summer appropriate.

Overall it was a great box. My favorite products had to be the lip color, hair mask and serum.



If I had to list my all time favorite street food, it would undoubtedly be Phuchka. A single blog post, is not enough to document, this love affair, which has been spanning for more than 3 decades, but I shall surely try. As a popular message being forwarded on social media, sums it up, "Somewhere between 5 for Re 1, to 1 for Rs 5, we grew up."

Its known by different names, across India. Phuchka in West Bengal , Panipuri in North India and Golgappa in Bombay(Mumbai) to name a few.

Phuchka is much more than a snack, or a street food staple from Kolkata. Its an emotion. Its a passion. Something, which has its own streak of nostalgia. Something, which is simply impossible to forget. Something, for which cravings, carry on, even when you are 80.

Needless to say, I am a Phuchka Fanatic . While Panipuri is available at the numerous Chaat counters, across town, I do miss my share of Phuchka, from Kolkata. Standing in front of the Phuchka seller, specifying your heat levels, and enjoying your share to your heart and tummy's content. No trip to India, is complete without a few stops at the numerous Phuckha vendors spread across the city scape of Kolkata.

Phuchka is a hollow , deep fried crisp, which is filled with a helping of spicy mashed potatoes, and then dunked in a sour water. Boiled bengal cream, chopped red onion, chopped cilantro, chopped green chilies, go in the mashed potato, along with dry roasted cumin powder, rock salt . There are two kinds of Dunking Water, available with the vendors: one that is slightly sweet , and one thats spicy. Both are tamarind based.

My husband is aware of my love for Phuckha. Along with the supplies, which came in from the local Indian grocery store, came in a large packet of Phuchka Puris. We were all set for an impromptu Phuchka Date night. We had recently attended a Chaat Party at a friend's home, and loved their spread. So I sought her help , when it came to making the dunking water or Tawk Jawl (Sour Water) . Thank you Devika and Aunty for your help.


Ingredients : 

Phuchka Puris : 1 large pack

Potato Filling : 
Potatoes : Peeled and boiled - 4 medium sized. mashed
Dry Roasted Cumin and chili powder : 1 tsp
Rock Salt
Red onion: 1/4 large : Finely chopped
Green Chili : Finely Chopped .
Cilantro : 1/4 bunch - finely chopped

Green Water : 
Mint Leaves : 1/4 bunch
Cilantro : 1/4 bunch
Green Chilies : according to heat preferences
Rock Salt :
Dry Roasted Cumin Powder : 1/2 tsp
Lime Juice : 1/2 lime

Tamarind Water : 
Tamarind Pulp : 1 tbsp
Sugar : 1/2 tsp
Rock Salt
Dry roasted Cumin Powder
Lime Juice : 1 whole Lime

Procedure : 
Once the potato has cooled, mash it with the rest of the ingredients. Knead it , till you get a smooth mixture. Keep it aside.

Green Water : 
Blend the herbs, with chilies, lime juice , and water. Transfer to a large bowl, and mix in the seasonings and spices. Add a few cubes of ice, and more water. The resultant spice water should be pretty dilute. The spices and herb mix have a habit of settling down. So stir , before you serve.

Tamarind Water : 
Dissolve the tamarind pulp, in slightly luke warm water. Add in the seasonings and spices , lime juice, and add a few ice cubes to it as well. Mix well and serve.

Bon Appetit !



Phillippe's French Dipped Sandwiches was on our list, when we revisited LA recently. We had a very short trip, as it was very Disney centric, but we knew we had to squeeze in an extra day , for our culinary adventures. We started off with Kogi Food Truck , on our first night. Then it was NOBU, for a celebratory dinner. And in between an ultra casual take out (KOGI) and a super fancy dinner, in Beverly Hills(NOBU), Phillipe's French Dipped Sandwiches fitted in perfectly , for one of the lunches. Yes, you guessed it right. I am finally catching up on chronicling my LA Culinary journey. One more post to come in, to complete.

A hundred year old restaurant, with an amazing culinary history. The legend is that the founder Philip Mathieu , while creating a sandwich, dropped the french roll, in the roasting pan , filled with juice, still hot from the oven. The patron, a policeman, said he would take that sandwich anyway. The next day, he returned with his friends, and asked for more Dipped Sandwiches. Thus was born the famous "French Dipped Sandwiches." Its a LA culinary institution, and there's reason why people flock to it everyday. Its located in downtown LA, almost at the edge of China Town.

The decor is old school. You almost feel as if you have traveled back in time. Saw dust on the floor. Vintage pictures on the walls, and even a few old telephone booths.

When you enter the restaurant, you head to the counters. There are around 8 to 10 lines, behind which stand your Carvers. The Menu is displayed behind the counters. So as you wait for your turn at the line, make a mental note of what you want to order. Once you reach the counter, your Carver, takes in your order, makes your sandwiches and gets your drinks, and also processes payment. Its a CASH ONLY restaurant, so make sure you have made a stop at the ATM before you reach.

Then you head , to get a place to sit. Be prepared to share your table with others. We did have to wait for around 5 mins, till we got a table. It was time to dig in.

We ordered for a "French Dipped Sandwich" each, as its the specialty of the house. We opted for Roast Beef as our choice of meet. The other options include roast pork, leg of lamb, turkey and ham. Its served on a fresh baked French Roll,which has been dipped in the natural juices of the roast meat. The choice of Cheese is Cheddar, American, Monterey Jack or Blue Cheese. We went with Cheddar.

Once you take your first bite , you realise why its so iconic. It was moist and juicy. Love how the French roll was lightly textured. You can do a single dip or a double dip. We did a single dip on ours. And that Au Jus in which it was dipped, well, I could drink it by the gallon. It was so flavorful.

My husband, Debashish is a greater culinary explorer than me. So he went ahead and ordered a serving of Pickled Pig Feet. The restaurant prepares and serves almost 300 lbs of pickled pigs feet every week. Pig's feet is pickled in vinegar and a blend of house spices. I cannot get past the texture to enjoy the porky goodness. But my Husband enjoyed it.

When you are at the counter, ordering your food, you cant miss the big jars of Pickled Eggs, with their bright magenta pickling juice. We ordered a couple of those. Hard boiled eggs , are pickled in beet juice, vinegar and a handful of spices. Not only our daughter, but all of us, really enjoyed this treat. It did make for an interesting side. It paired very well, with the sandwiches.

We were very hungry , and also we are always guilty of over ordering. Last but not the least, it was a bowl of hearty Beef Stew. Onion, celery, tomatoes, carrots and chunks of beef, simmered to perfection. On hind thought, I feel we should have ordered two bowls of this.

We had a great time at Phillippe's French Dipped Sandwiches. The entire old school charm and the great food. Next time, I will surely have my Sandwich double or triple dipped, what say ! 


I am a die hard romantic. Even though I dont like wading through rains, when I am running errands, I surely do enjoy the rain drops on my large patio door. I have the comfort of being curled up on my couch as they rain drops choreograph themselves. And I do enjoy my Ilish Maach Bhaja , a bit more , when it rains. I am a Bengali and a Foodie, and this connect , is pretty promiment in my food lovin soul.  Ilish Maach, or Hilsa is a favorite of the Bengalis. Come Monsoon, or the rains, and our cravings feature Ilish Maach . 

I have fond memories of going to the lcal fish markets in India, and picking up Ilish, when it was in season. Yes, the monsoons are the time, when Hilsa catches flood the market. I learnt how the shape of the Ilish was important, and the pinkish and silver tones of its skin. And then there's the entire controversy of Ilish with roe or without roe. There are families, who love their Ilish with roe, and there are those that prefer their fish without. I dont mind either. 

Me and my husband might be polar opposite when it comes to most things, but we are pretty unanimous when it comes to our choice of food. So the love for Ilish continues. We pick up our stash of river water fish, once a month, from the local Bangladeshi or Pan Asian stores. A Rui or Katla , is always on the cards, and when in season, Ilish . While the Bangladeshi store owner and his Pakistani Meat Cutting employee are adept in scoping out the Gada(Back) and Peti(Belly) pieces, it was a different story with the other stores. I remember, once I was in tears, when a Ilish(Hilsa) which I had fondly picked up, was cut into cubes. The husband took note of the mess which happened at the meat cutting station. Then started the saga of elaborate instructions, and finally teaching the Mexican meat cutter, at the local Pan Asian store, how to master the art of Gada- Peti. So the love of Hilsa(Ilish) has truly brought together so many different global citizens. 

Whenever we buy a statsh of  Ilish, we make sure, we cook it a few different ways. Each of which is iconic, in its own regard. Kancha Lonka Kalo Jeere diye Ilish Maach - Hilsa cooked with Nigella seeds and Green Chilies , Shorshe Bata Ilish - Hilsa cooked in a Mustard Sauce and last but not the least - Ilish Maach Bhaja

Ilish Maach Bhaja always used to be first course at my maternal home, followed by Ilish Macher Jhol. My daughter, who is picky eater, and is not fond of curries in general, loves her share of Ilish Maach Bhaja. Steaks of Hilsa are marinated with salt and turmeric. Then they are shallwo fried in mustard oil. Trust me, the mustard oil, is a key ingredient in this seemingly simple dish. The fish is fried , till its firm and golden brown. Its served with steamed rice, and the oil, with which its fried. If you prefer heat, like I do, you can miss out the green chili. 

I can literally have an entire plate of rice, with it. And happily settle down in a food coma later. 

So when it has been raining almost every evening, here in the Midwest, I could not help but dream about Ilish Maach Bhaja. Its the weather, which invokes these food memories, which we are only happy to indulge. Now for a quick drive to the Pan Asian Store , and check out their stock of Hilsa. Hoping they do have some decent ones, I can bring home. Yes, its always two , which come home. The iconic Bengali imagery of the Jora Ilish  ( Two Hilsas). 

Enjoy the rains and enjoy your Ilish Maach  ! 

Ingredients : 
Ilish Maach(Hilsa Fish) : Cut into Gada/ Peti Steaks : 4 to 6 
Turmeric Powder : 1 tsp
Salt : To taste 
Mustard Oil 
Green Chili(Optional) 

Wash and pat dry the fish pieces with a paper towel . 

Add salt and turmeric powder. Use your fingers to rub the spice mix into the fish pieces. 

Heat mustard oil, in a non stick pan. When its just before smoking point, add the fish pieces and shallow fry on both sides. 

Reserve the oil from the pan. 

Serve with warm steamed Basmati rice, fried Hilsa, the cooking oil , and some salt and chili on the side. 



March, April, May'17 Sephora Play products have been on heavy rotation on my vanity. And today when I glance through the June box, I realised that I must finish reviewing the rest. I love a beauty subscription box which comes with a Lip color, as I am a self confessed lip color junkie. But sadly indeed the Sephora Play for April'17 didn't have a lip color sample.

The theme for April'17 was Step it Up . The idea was to step up the basic phases of your skin care and make up routine . The idea was to make everyone a "Beauty Routine Queen." While the eyeliner, eye make up remover  and primer were the same in all the boxes, its the skin care sample and the fragrance which was switched up. I have very dry skin, and I love floral fragrances over fruity notes. Usually the write up which accompanies the products every month, is just about the descriptions of the products. What I found interesting, is that this time around, they had beautifully curated a basic beauty and skin care routine. For someone, who is starting off with skin acre and make up, it could be a very helpful guide. I personally loved how lovely the illustrations were both on the bag and the write up.

I love a good make up remover. Sephora  Collection Waterproof  Eye Make Up Remover fits the bill big time. Its a good sized sample, and is surely going to my Travel Make Up bag. I wear gel eyeliner and waterproof mascara, whenever I step outside home. And I have tried so many eye make up removers, which does a good job in removing my long wearing eye make up, without causing me discomfort. My eyes didn't burn when I used this product and my skin was squeaky clean. Make sure you always shake the solution before you use it.

Black eyeliner is a part of my signature make up. While I am strong supporter of my Gel Eyeliner, a good eye pencil, always is welcome. It makes the job easier for sure. Make Up Forever Aqua XL Eyeliner had great pigmentation, and didn't smudge when I used it on my water line. Nothing worse than raccoon eyes, when I am trying out a new new eyeliner . Its not self sharpening. The pencil is quite creamy and doesn't drag on the eyelids,w hen you are using it.

Hyaluronic acid is quite the skin care IT product for some time now. I have tried quite a few products with it, with my Spehora Play boxes, or at different beauty appointments at the Sephora stores. My skin is super dry, so I am extra cautious abut retaining moisture. Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyalurounic Cloud Cream was quite an interesting product. It claims to retain moisture and have anti-ageing properties. I am in my mid 30s, who tries to be religious in incorporating retinol, in my night skin care routine.

 Smashbox Photo Finish Primer makes an appearance again in a Play Box. You cant beat this iconic product. It does what it claims. It helps in the longevity of your make up. Its a silicone based primer,
I am not a primer fan, but cant go wrong with a product which wowed everyone across.

Philosophy Purity 3 in 1 Cleanser for Face and Eyes, claims to be a cleanser and a moisturizer. I am usually not fond of products which claim to do more than one thing. I know Philosophy is a very popular skin care brand, but somehow my skin dried , after I used this product.

The fragrance sample for the month was the new fragrance from Miu Miu -     . Its floral and very fresh, but not overpowering.



I love me some Tandoori Chicken. It finds itself more often in rotation on our weekly grilling roster. Its not strange, that our toddler, who usually is a picky eater, will reach out for a second helping, if its Tandoori Chicken on the menu. I love versatile Tandoori Cicken can be, You can grill Tandoori Chicken Drum sticks on your weekend barbecue, or you can even make some Tandoori Chicken Quessadillas, And if you wanted to give carbs a miss, while you enjoy your delicious grilled tandoori chicken, why not Go Green. Tandoori Chicken Lettuce Wraps.

Besides that, its cooked with a minmium amount of oil. Thats a great help to us, in our clean eating endeavor. If I can cut down the oil, without compromising on the taste, thats always a good thing, right !

Me and my husband are on a clean eating drive. Our normal diet was very rich with carbs,and since going cold turkey isn't an option, we are trying to introduce changes slowly in our diets. My husband was planning a potluck with our friends a few weeks back.The idea was to plan an upcoming trip , with our friends, over some good food and spirits. He suggested to make Tandoori Chicken Lettuce Wraps. The said potluck became a pizza party, but we did enjoy the lettuce wraps the weekend which followed.

I love the crisp iceberg lettuce , paired with the grilled chicken, onions and sweet pepper and a dash of lime. I do add some chopped green chilies to mine, but that's just me. My husband made  a lovely dipping sauce, as lettuce wraps always need their dipping sauce dont they. Chopped peanuts would also pair well with the wraps. Our daughter loves tandoori chicken lettuce wraps,and so does my husband. So its a winner winner, Tandoori Chicken Dinner for us.

Its a great appetizer to serve at your next party , in case you needed ideas. I love it as a Friday Night dinner. It slight and refreshing, and great for Summer.


Ingredients : 
Chicken Thighs : Skinless, Boneless : 1 lb ( I used two packs from Perdue's Chicken, of Costco)
Onion : 1 large ( 1/2 - paste , and 1/2 finely chopped)
Ginger- Garlic Paste : 2 tsbp
Bell Pepper : 1 : Sliced

Dry Spices :
Cumin Powder : 1 tsp
Coriander Powder : 1 tsp
Paprika : 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Tandoori Spice Mix ( If you are using this, then skip the dry spices) : 2 tbsp

Ice Berg Lettuce : 1 head
Lemon/ Lime : a few slices
Cooking Spray
Chopped cilantro

Marinate the chicken, with onion-ginger -garlic paste, and either tandoori spice  mix or the dry spices and salt mentioned above. Marinating overnight is best, but if you dont have that time, marinate for at least two hours.

Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

Grease a large baking tray and place the marinated chicken thighs. Bake till the chicken is cooked through. I will usually broil it for a few minutes, before I get it out of the oven.

If you want to grill it, then go ahead and grill the thighs.

Using two forks, rough shred the chicken thighs.

Grill the sliced onion and bell pepper next .

Now for assembly.

In every wrap, add in some chicken, grilled onion and bell pepper, a dash of lime, and some chopped cilantro.

Bon Appetit !



 Finally getting back on track with my monthly reviews of Sephora Play. I must add, that after using the subscription service for a year., I can seriously add, that its worth it. I was initially skeptical, when I had signed up. But a year on, and I am still loving it.

The them for the month of March was "Get The Glow." With warmer weather not far from the horizon, this box was well timed for March. It was a mix of products, which brought in glow, from across the spectrum. From high shine, to a subtle glint, there was quite a lot to choose from. From make up to hair, to even skin care and fragrance, we had our hands full.

I always love a box which has a lip color. I am a self confessed lip color junkie. This lip color was spceial. I had been following all the rave about Urban Decay Vice Lipsticks and how they were promoted by some social media influencers. I had been eyeing urban Decay Vice in Rust, which was worn by Lily Pebbles. The color which came in the March Sephora Box was Urban Decay Vice in Big Bang. I love bright colors on my lips, but this was a let down at first sight. It was 80s in a lipstick tube. Bright pink, frosted. Not the color I was expecting to be honest, when I was finally trying out Urban Decay Vice Lipstick. Dont get me wrong, its a great color, but not just for me. The forumal was great. It was true to its claim for being pigmented and packing a shine. Maybe I will pick up Rust.

GlamGlow is another brand which is a favorite of mine, but I know how insanely priced their products are. So its always good to try out products from their line, before you make the final commitment of investing in a full size. I have loved their Glam Glow Thirsty Mud Hydrating Treatment,which had come in the November Play Box. It has found a permanent place in my bed side vanity as a choice of my favorite overnight facial.

GlamGlow Mega Illuminating Moisturizer, in its pretty pink packgaing was in teh March box. It claims to be a two in one moisturizer and lumizer, which hydrates, blurs and enhnaces the complexion, with a lit from within finish. I used it as a luminizing primer, below my foundation. I have dry skin, so I love luminizing products. It was good, but I still prefer my Laura Mercier Luminizing Primer, if I had to buy a full size product.

I have dry hair, which is long, and fine and colored. So I love hair oils. But I am always on the fence, as my hair is fine. I dont like hair oils which are too heavy. Verb Ghost Oil, was light weight , and worked well, in my weekly hair oil sessions. Its an Austin based line, which has used many exotic ingredients, like Moringa Seeds, from India, to create a salon worthy product.

The fragrance sample of the month was Atelier Cologne - Clementine California. I prefer colognes, when the weather starts turning warmer. It had prominent citrus notes, and would fit very well, if I made plans to go to the beach.

Josie Maran Surreal Skin Argan Finishing Balm is a whipped formula. Jose Maran is a well known name, and Argan Oil has been an IT product for some time now. I am usually not a fan of products, which cliam to do many things. But this product did woo me. It can be used either as a first step in make up below your foundation, or as a last step, as a cream luminizer, over the cheek bones.

Last but not the least, is another favorite product of mine. Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal. No one makes highlighters quite like Becca. I have Opal in two different formulas - Pressed and Poured and now it was time, to try out the liquid version. I mix it in with my foundation if i want an overall glow, or use my fingertips to tap onto my cheek bones, for a highlighter. Its a full proof product, just ideal through out the year. You can build up the pigment with this product and it wont look cakey.