Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida





Khaas Baat celebrates its 17-year anniversary this month. We graciously and humbly thank our wonderful and committed volunteer columnists for their priceless contributions, our steadfast advertisers and well-wishers for their help and encouragement.

The pandemic hit the newspaper industry especially hard resulting in massive layoffs and pay cuts. In 2020 alone, more than 300 U.S. newspapers stopped printing leaving readers without a dependable source of local information. We are proud to say that amid adversities, Khaas Baat has been printed every month for the past 17 years. Once again, we request everyone to support our efforts.

If you pick up a copy from the grocery store/restaurant, consider subscribing for home delivery. And to advertisers, opening new businesses, we request you to promote your shop/store to the community through our newspaper instead of merely on social media or word of mouth.

As activities resume, we ask community leaders and organizers to email event details to [email protected] by the 20th of the month for the following month’s issue. Feel strongly about an issue? Send us a letter to the editor. We always welcome your story ideas and suggestions on how we can best serve our community.

Khaas Baat is proud to be the ONE AND ONLY Sunshine State publication to offer comprehensive coverage of news and happenings in your Florida Indian community. Do follow us on twitter @khaasbaat and join us on Facebook.

Florida communities celebrating the patriotic occasion include:


The Federation of Indian Associations of Tampa Bay (FIA of Tampa Bay) will VIRTUALLY celebrate India India’s 74th Independence Day on Sunday, Aug. 29. Connect with FIA via zoom ( starting at 4 pm. Activities include rangoli display, 2021 high school graduate recognition, art, essay and patriotic costume contests, antakshari and cultural programs.


Hindu Society of Central Florida and New Age Group will celebrate India’s Independence Day on Sunday, Aug. 15, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at HSCF, 1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry. Admission is free with RSVP to [email protected] For information, call Dr. Sampath Shanmugam at (407) 782-3007 or visit


Venvi Art Gallery in Tallahassee will present Brinda Pamulapati’s solo exhibition, “Revitalization” from Aug. 6-25. Emerging out of this challenging time, Pamulapati brings new light and inspiration to the gallery for her second solo exhibition. “Due to the coronavirus, I got a chance to slow down, get grounded and refreshed,” she explains, regarding her vibrant, abstract compositions. 

She had time to reflect on her work and explore new ideas. Her exhibition will feature new paintings that explore mixed media in her “Saree Series.” Inspired by the culture and artistry of her home country, India, she has incorporated silk sarees that are woven with gold and silver threads, into these paintings. She began with an antique saree given to her by her mother that is nearly 50 years old.

Pamulapati focuses on creating movement in her paintings through the careful manipulation of acrylic paint on canvas. Her paintings are also full of textures and patterns, especially in her newest piece, “Saree Series 4.” In this painting, she has incorporated a deep red saree, embroidered with gold details, that provides a beautiful pattern and texture. But she has taken it a step further and elaborated upon this pattern to create a composition of her own.

Pamulapati draws inspiration from many areas in her life. Her attraction to the use of bright colors, “is the result of my upbringing in a tropical place,” she says, “where clothes, flowers, everything has bright colors.” Additionally, her well-trained eye from years of painting and curating shows has guided her creations. Pamulapati not only has a background in fine arts but also in mathematics. Her wide-reaching background influences her work and allows her to be calculative in her process towards creating her desired final product. 

Born in India, Pamulapati has been a part of the Tallahassee community since 1999. Here, she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Mathematics from Florida State University. After her accomplishments at FSU, she studied under the acclaimed artist Prof. Jacob Pichhadze in Toronto. Along with her previous solo show at Venvi in 2018, her work has also been shown at the FSU Museum of Fine Arts during Asia Culture, Tallahassee City Hall, the Ronald McDonald House, Toronto, and the Yazi Gallery in Toronto. She also writes an art column in Khaas Baat and is the owner/founder of Venvi Gallery since 2015.  

“Revitalization” will have an opening reception on Aug. 6 from 5 to 8 p.m. Venvi Gallery is at 2901 East Park Ave., Tallahassee. For more information, visit 



Dreaming in Spice: A Sinfully Vegetarian Odyssey” by Hari Pulapaka, Ph.D., C.E.C.; 390 pages; $33.50; published by Global Cooking School (

This is not your run-of-the-mill cookbook, folks. But then the author isn’t just your conventional chef in a restaurant kitchen. A full-time, tenured associate professor of mathematics at Stetson University (DeLand in Central Florida), Hari Pulapaka is co-owner, co-founder of Cress Restaurant in the city where he teaches. A Certified Executive Chef (C.E.C.) of the American Culinary Federation, he is also founder/CEO of Global Cooking School, a company dedicated to offer educational and consulting services to make food more delicious, thoughtful, nutritious and inclusive.

Reminiscing back to 2014, after 10 years as a professional cook, Pulapaka recalls taking a trip to New York City along with his wife Jenneffer to cook at the James Beard House. Thereon, the journey takes him through the Trump years (ban refugees and citizens from seven Muslim countries and a derogatory term used for some African countries), which inspired unusual events such as “Seven Courses Seven Countries” and “Solidarity Sunday” events, before “New Beginnings” take place.

“Ingredients inspire me in very specific ways,” he writes. “But the ingredients are not entirely necessary for the creations. I always imagine dishes conceptually. The recipes and the execution come later.” The connection between cooking and mathematics for Pulapaka? “To explore Mathematics, one often needs only imagination, some skill, and a bare minimum list of gadgets (pen, paper, pencil). We are what we eat (are we?) and food is my metaphor for life. To prepare good food, one often needs only imagination, some skill, and a bare minimum set of (good) ingredients. There are fundamental food-based facts, and while most Mathematics is developed outside the context of food, my life weaves its way through both worlds.”

Apart from a delightful, well-informed chapter on wine “Pour Yourself a Beverage” by his sommelier wife Jenneffer, there are a total of 251 vegetarian recipes. Why not 250, why 251? Pulapaka explains, “It’s a prime number. It’s a Sophie Germain prime (because 2*251+1=503 is also a prime). It is the sum of three consecutive primes: 79 + 83 + 89. It’s the sum of seven consecutive primes: 23 + 29 + 31 + 37 + 41 + 43 + 47. One gets the idea. I like numbers.” And that is a given, of course. He also rates his recipes: basic, intermediate and pro while encouraging readers to change ingredients, seasonings, or proportions to fit their preference after tasting it. A page on recommended substitutions for some recipe ingredients will come in handy for novice cooks.

A vegetarian for 21 years, Pulapaka admits though he isn’t one any more, over 95 percent of his diet is now plant-based. It does pique him that the perception still thrives that there aren’t enough vegetarian ingredient choices to make enjoyable meals. “It really is a matter of trying, just a bit harder to step away from levels of comfort,” he believes.

Here are a few recipes from the book or as the author terms, “the gift of food made with love”:


This is an easy and wonderful use of leftover cooked rice or grits. Classically, it must be Arborio rice, perhaps some leftover risotto (how can that be possible?). The infusion of fresh oregano makes it distinctly Italian or Greek. Fontina is a nutty melting cheese.

LEVEL: Intermediate

YIELD: approximately 16



In a shallow wide pan, sauté the shallots in extra virgin olive oil until just translucent. Add the garlic and stir for a few seconds. Add the rice and coat well with everything in the pan. Add the white wine and stir well. After about 30 seconds begin cooking the rice by adding enough stock a little at a time. After about 20 minutes or so, the risotto should be cooked. Check the seasoning and finish with the chopped oregano. Spread on a sheet tray and let it cool in the refrigerator. Take 2 ounces of rice, spread in the palm of your hand and stuff it with a small amount of Fontina cheese. Make a ball with cheese inside. Bread each ball using seasoned flour, egg, and breadcrumbs and deep fry to a golden brown. Serve immediately with a marinara or other tomato-based sauce.


Samosa is the quintessential Indian appetizer, known world-wide. Its roots lie in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, but it’s variants across the globe go by a variety of names in other countries: sambusa, samsa, sambosa to name a few. The version of samosa depends on where you are from. Essentially, it’s a hand-made pastry filled with a savory filling consisting of potatoes, green peas, chilies, onions, sometimes cauliflower. This version is basic, but chock full of savory and spicy goodness.

LEVEL: Intermediate

YIELD: approximately 12



Boil the potatoes in salted water and a pinch of turmeric. After they drain and cool completely, put then in a stainless bowl. Sauté the onions, ginger, garlic, and serrano chili in vegetable oil or clarified butter, until translucent. Add all the dry spices including the masala and the whole spices. Season with salt and pepper. Stir for about 3-4 minutes until the spices “cook out.” Add this mixture to the cooked potatoes. Next add the lemon juice and chopped cilantro. Using a potato masher, smash down all the ingredients until uniformly mixed and smashed. Taste this filling for desired flavor and re-season if necessary. Form two-inch-long cylindrical “croquettes.” Wrap in the egg roll wrappers following the instructions on the package. Seal with egg wash. Fry at 350 F until golden brown. Cut on a bias and serve warm with your favorite chutney.


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