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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

CAREER SPECIAL ...Reset, reboot and restart your career

 Reset, reboot and restart your career

Think long term when you plan your second career, says Devashish Chakravarty

You want to reset the career button because you are either fed up with your current role or your industry has gone into a tailspin. Or you want to reboot your personal and professional life because you have just retired or have moved into a new country or family where your needs and demands have changed. Maybe you are returning to work after a long break. Here’s how you to make a success of your second career.
Don’t work to a planning horizon of a few months or a year. A second career is not to be tried out for a few days. Think about the goals that you are likely to achieve over a period of 10 to 20 years in the new career. Only then will your decision make sense. In the short term, expect the journey to be tough and the challenges seemingly insurmountable. Showing up at work daily and slogging through the bad days will get you the skills, control, success and income.

Your first career was probably a result of coincidences, constraints, family influence, peer pressure and a limited understanding of possible options. This time make it about yourself. What are your core life values? What kind of work do you truly enjoy and are also good at? What kind of environment or people energise you? What provides meaning to your days? Find which domains and roles match you best.

If you are returning to work after a break, know that the professional world has moved on. People who worked with you earlier have a few more years of experience under their belt and are now senior managers. Do not benchmark yourself against them. Your past reputation and previous achievements do not count as much because they are a few years old and the relevant skills have not been used for a while. Be realistic about what to expect.

To begin with, it will be difficult to find relevant or good opportunities in a new domain or while returning from a long break. As you are not plugged into the eco-system, you do not have access to right and timely information on opportunities. Get out and meet people. The more interactions and conversations you have with connections and their references, the greater is the probability of stumbling upon opportunities.

While meeting people do not feel guilty for taking a break or diffident because you do not have relevant experience in the new domain. Operate from a position of confidence arising from your expertise in your primary career or past achievements before the break. If you don’t feel confident, simply act the part. Your positive body language will rub off on both you and your listener permitting promising interactions.

Though you are more experienced, in your new career you are still a fresher. So, like a newbie, ask for help. Keep an open mind from where help may come from.

Think beyond obvious brands and opportunities. Explore options in nonprofits. Before you apply for jobs, consider gaining free experience by volunteering or doing internships. Also consider working part time in a second job.

When you meet potential employers, discuss outcomes you can deliver. Discuss your own needs only after they see value in what you offer. No employer likes to start a discussion with how he can meet your requirements. If your past skills are not relevant, seek education or freelance opportunities to learn new marketable skills.

The writer is Director at and

TOI 27NOV17 

BOOK / CUSTOMER SPECIAL..... ‘Woo, Wow, and Win’: Designing a Captivating Customer Experience

BOOK - ‘Woo, Wow, and Win’: Designing a Captivating Customer Experience

Companies carefully craft the products they sell to customers, but rarely do they give the same thoughtfulness to designing what could be the most critical part of the sales process: customer experience. In the book, Woo, Wow, and Win: Service Design, Strategy and the Art of Customer Delight, authors Thomas A. Stewart and Patricia O’Connell show businesses how they can give customers positive “Ahhh” moments, instead of negative “Ow” experiences — all of which lead to “Aha” realizations by management. And pleasing the customer doesn’t mean always giving in to what they want. — Stewart, a former editor of the Harvard Business Review, and O’Connell, president of Aerten Consulting, talked to Knowledge@Wharton about these and other management insights in their book.

An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

Knowledge@Wharton: Maybe we can start with you, Patricia, for our first question. What inspired you to write this book?
Patricia O’Connell: I confess I had never heard of service design until four years ago. I was working with a client, the Savannah College of Art and Design, and they started talking about service design classes, and I said, “What’s that?” And they said, “Service design is when we teach people how to imagine and think through, and then design a customer experience. People think about user experience. There’s been a lot of emphasis on user experience because of all the emphasis on things going online. (But) when you walk into a restaurant, you walk into a hotel, you interact with a company, you go into the lobby of a business, every step of that interaction between you and that company, that brand, that business, needs to be designed in order to give you a satisfactory customer experience.”
And I thought, this is fascinating. I started looking around and realized that there was not a lot written on that for the service market. There’s a lot about design for manufacturing. I realized that there was really a gap here to connect the idea of service to strategy. And that’s where Tom came in.
Thomas A. Stewart: What inspired me to write the book was Patricia, obviously. But, seriously, one of the things that’s really interesting is a lot of what we know about management comes from automobile assembling plants — [Edwards] Deming and Frederick Taylor and all of that. But when it comes to a service, these things need to be, can be, should be designed as carefully as products are. When you think about it, this is also the strategy connection. That’s the difference, really. And more and more — studies are starting to show this — the difference is not the product or the service per se, it’s not price. It’s the experience you have. What it’s like to go into that restaurant? What it’s like to work with that law firm? And it goes from B2B, B2C and in all areas. It also connects to what it’s like to go to that auto dealership. That’s really hard to copy. I can match you on price and I can match you on how many thread counts are on the sheets in the hotel. But what it’s like is a point of strategic differentiation that’s hard to beat.
Knowledge@Wharton: I’d like to come back to the question of strategy in a bit. But what you said reminded me of something really fascinating that I read right at the beginning of your book. You start with this astonishing fact: Most companies are not set up to design services well. And I was wondering why not?
Stewart: I think it’s partly that in many respects the discipline is relatively new. In management literature, managing services has been done by analogy with managing manufacturing for a long time. That’s part of it. But I think so much of what companies do is about organizing internal operations. But when it comes to services, the act of production is with the customer. It’s not in the factory and then we hand it to the customer. You’re right there with me when it happens.
O’Connell: The customer is co-creating the experience. One thing we’ve got to say is products are about handoffs. Services are about handshakes. A service requires the participation of both parties. That is a very different thing than what we know about products and manufacturing. That’s why there has been so little written about it. The shift in our economy is now such that 80% of our economy is services based. That is everything other than agriculture, manufacturing and mining. So that is just about everything people have multiple interactions with every day, whether it’s B2B, B2C, whether it’s something mundane, getting a cup of coffee, whether it’s something really important, calling your insurance company.
People so often confuse customer service with customer experience. Those are two very different things. Customer service is something you do. Usually it’s designed around when something has gone wrong. Customer experience is the totality of my interaction with you, from the moment I first come across your name … to when I’m done, whenever our business is finished.
Knowledge@Wharton: You hear a lot about things like design thinking these days, or industrial design, manufacturing design, or designing user experiences. How do you separate service design from some of these other buzzwords that you hear about design? Is that helping or hurting the situation?
Stewart: I don’t know if you separate them. You might integrate them. But I think that’s one of the things that’s interesting. We were talking to Tim Brown of IDEO (innovation and design firm). He said that if you think about it, the ATM, which is 50 years old this year, was one of the first cases where people had to design in a thoughtful way how the customer interacted with the user interface. Before that, the user interface of the bank was the smiling teller behind the cage, and that person did all the touching and computer generating, all the work with the bank systems.
So design thinking is a way of approaching problems. Industrial design is a way, of course, of making beautiful and functional designs. And service design takes design thinking and some of the sort of aesthetic industrial design and says, “How do we use that to apply to this train journey, this ATM experience? What are we trying to convey with the look and feel of what’s happening in our interaction in the store, in the office or whatever it might be?”
O’Connell: Something we include in service design is also service delivery, because design without the ability to execute on it is meaningless.
Stewart: That’s part of that handshake.
Knowledge@Wharton: In the course of researching and writing the book, which are some of the companies that you encountered that are really good at this? Could you offer some examples? And what can others learn from the way they went about this exercise?
O’Connell: One of the classic examples we use to explain service design really quickly is Starbucks versus Dunkin’ Donuts — who’s a Starbucks person, who’s a Dunkin’ Donuts person? People usually have a very strong preference. Ostensibly they’re both selling the same thing. They’re selling coffee. But that’s not [all] they’re selling. They’re selling two very different experiences. Dunkin’ is a grab and go. There’s a reason the slogan is ‘America runs on Dunkin.’ The logo is very hot. Hot pink, hot green.
Starbucks is much more about being relaxed and leisurely. It’s not for the person who wants to get up and go. And there were new companies like [personal stylist] Stitch Fix, which have evolved. At the time that we were doing the book, it only did women’s clothing. It now includes men. Edmunds, the car buying service, has evolved so much. They’re a great example of a company that has just kept on evolving. They started as almost a [Kelley] blue book [listing of used car values.]
Stewart: We also looked at an airline, Surf Air, which is a subscription, all-you-can-fly air service on the West Coast in California. We looked at a hospital system, ThedaCare, in Northern Wisconsin. These are some of the trickiest; we all know how bad the design of medical care services is and these guys are applying the Toyota production system to redesigning hospital services. So we looked across a whole spectrum.
But the Starbucks/Dunkin’ example is wonderful. We were talking to an audience in Seattle once and asked for a show of hands, who’s a Dunkin’ person, who’s a Starbucks person? If you think about it, it’s really interesting. At Starbucks, the seating is laid back, and at Dunkin’ there are little stools if there’s anything at all. So these are examples of how you’re selling coffee. You’re selling better than average coffee. But what you’re doing is creating two very different experiences, and people are in one camp or the other. There are not very many people who say, “Whichever’s closest.” They have a preference. And that preference is because the experience is different, and it’s designed that way very consciously on both sides.
O’Connell: I think one of the fun things that we also discovered — intuitively we believed this, but our research bore it out — was that the principles of service design hold across industries.
Knowledge@Wharton: There are [five] common principles that these companies seem to follow, which makes them good at designing effective service experiences. … The first is that the customer is always right, but to make sure the customer is right for you. Could you explain?
O’Connell: One of the first clich├ęs anyone hears who has ever worked in service of any kind is that the customer is always right. That is not really true. If I go to McDonald’s, I have no business asking for a hamburger medium rare. That’s not what they are designed to do. I am the wrong customer, maybe just at that moment. There are times I’m perfectly happy to go to McDonald’s and get what’s on the menu. But if I want something very specific and custom-made, that’s not the place for me to go.
If I want a luxury shopping experience, I should not go to TJ Maxx, just as if I’m looking for a bargain, I shouldn’t go to Barneys. So, in those circumstances, I am not the right customer. It is incumbent upon both the customer and the company to ensure, and that’s part of that co-creation we were talking about, that companies do two things. They have to decide who the right customer is, and be diligent about serving those customers well. And they also have to be good about communicating who they are. That’s with everything from their branding to the way they look, to the experience that you have when you go on their website, or whether you go into their store, the people you encounter.
You know there’s a very different feel when you walk into a Hyatt Regency versus an Andaz, which is another Hyatt brand. Andaz is their hip, sleeker brand where everyone’s sort of dressed in black and someone’s going to check you in with an iPad. Go into the Hyatt Regency, and there’s going to be a big, ornate desk and people in old-fashioned uniforms. And those are two different experiences. If I’m looking for the sleek, hip — I want to feel cool — I shouldn’t be at the Hyatt Regency. I’ll get a very different kind of experience. It will be a luxury experience, but it will be very different. So customers then also have to understand what they are buying. They need to recognize whether or not they’re the right customer in a given situation.
Knowledge@Wharton: What you just said reminds me of some very interesting research that has been going on at Wharton in the marketing department, led by professor Peter Fader on customer centricity.
O’Connell: Who we interviewed for the book.
Stewart: He actually does make that point, that customer centricity partly depends on your own center of gravity, too. That you want to find the right thing. We did a mini-survey of some professional services firms. And one of the things they said is a big problem is that they are lured from their sweet spot by clients who ask them to do things, because they want to be customer centric, but the customer’s sort of putting them on the wrong foot. And it’s hard to say no.
Our second principle is: don’t surprise and delight. Just delight. It expands or is another turn of the crank around that idea. One of the things we realized is that people say, “Surprise and delight, surprise and delight.” Our point is, focus on delight, and delight is meeting expectations every time. Now if you want to put a maraschino cherry on top of the sundae, fine, but get the sundae right. The problem with the surprise and delight thing is it starts putting the monkey on the individual employees’ back. And it doesn’t focus on reliably, robustly delivering on those promises that you make and that your customer expects. I think it was Frances Frei at [Uber] who said that if you’re doing this, you’re almost institutionalizing the inability to do what your customers expect constantly. And so that’s our second principle.
O’Connell: The third principle is that great service should not require heroics, either on the part of the employee or the customer. So this is an extension of what you were just talking about. It’s about consistency. When I’m delivering a service — so now I’m in the company’s seat — I need to know what I’m doing, and I should be able to do it reliably, repeatably, scalably and profitably. When you start requiring heroics, it means that something is going wrong with the design.
I’m not talking about emergency situations. Of course, you deal with emergency situations. But if you find yourself constantly running around like a fire alarm has just gone off, something is wrong. You are either not designing your services properly, you’re not communicating the expectations appropriately to the customers or you are being lured away from your sweet spot, and that’s a strategy problem. So heroics are an indication to you that something’s wrong. From the customer’s perspective, it should not be impossible for me to get what you promised me. [When you live up to promises] we call those “ahhh” moments. That “ahhh” moment is when a customer knows he’s in good hands.
Knowledge@Wharton: In contrast to those “ow” moments?
O’Connell: So the “ow” moments are the things that companies need to look at. Those are the things that customers complain about. That is a signal that something is wrong, either for some reason you are attracting the wrong customers or you don’t have your services designed in such a way that it’s easy for customers to get what they want, need and have a right to expect from you.
Stewart: Are you easy to do business with? I mean, it’s a simple question and most companies don’t actually systematically ask it.
Knowledge@Wharton: And what is an “aha” moment?
Stewart: An “aha” moment is when I get it. I, as the seller, say, “Aha, I know how this works. I see the pain point. I see the ‘ah’ moment. I know how to fix the pain point. I know how to create the ‘aha’ moment. I understand what we’re trying to do here and how to design it.” This is getting complicated in a world of omni-channel.
This is the fourth principle: You’ve got to be able to deliver to your clients or customers at every point on the journey, and on every channel. So whether I’m on the web, on the phone, in their store, it should feel like I’m in your hands. This — what people are now sometimes trying to call a post-channel world — is critical, and we see all kinds of companies screwing up. In some cases, it’s because they’re still dealing with old computer stacks. Sometimes it’s simply a technical issue. Sometimes it’s an issue of silos and failure to make handoffs.
Classically, for a long time, it’s been an issue of the analog guys and the web guys, who just don’t connect. That’s complicated even more, because it’s not just the stuff under my control as a seller. But in service environments, I’m usually working in an ecosystem. It’s bad enough what the airlines can do to me. Then add the TSA (Transportation Security Administration), the airports and the traffic in the transportation system to the airport. There’s a whole ecosystem built around these things. So one of the biggest challenges in service design is to work with ecosystem partners where you may not have authority, but to try to sort of collectively work together to create an experience that you all want to create for the customers you want to serve.
O’Connell: The fifth principle is you’re never done.
That’s really important, because it’s not a static thing. People’s expectations will change, products will change, markets will change, your strategy will change, and you’ve got to adapt to those things. There’s a fine line between you’re never done, and, as we were saying, distorting yourself outside your sweet spot so that you’re no longer recognizable as to who you are. That’s why it really does come down to service design needs to be part of the strategic fabric of the company. All these decisions about service are too often lumped in with the customer service department, where people think of it only as a function of marketing. And marketing is certainly a department that has responsibility for helping to create the notion of what that brand promise is. But strategy is about deciding what that brand promise is going to be.
Knowledge@Wharton: How can doing service design well help you develop a really strong competitive strategy that can take you forward?
Stewart: We created in the book a set of nine archetypes. They’re basically expressions of value propositions. One of the archetypes is the Trendsetter. You know, we are the Apple of whatever industry it is. Another is the Bargain. We’re the Wal-Mart of whatever industry it is. Another is The Classic. We’re the best. You know, we’re the Mercedes of whatever it is. There are nine of them, and you can find almost all of them in every industry. But if you think about these archetypes as expressions of a value proposition, that means they are actually a strategy.
Our strategy is to be the safe choice. Our strategy is to be the best, whatever it is. … Value proposition and strategy are pretty closely related. These help you envision how we’re going to take that value proposition and manifest it in the experience customers have, and also in the tangible evidence of that experience, the look and feel, the things that customers can look at and say, “Yes, that’s what this is going to be.”
When you’re there, that’s really a strategic conversation, and having one of those archetypes in mind, helps. I mean, strategy is partly the art of saying no, right? What you’re not doing and the customers you are not serving. And having those archetypes in mind helps you think, no, this isn’t us. But this is us. We can do this. And this is what it means for the organization as a whole and for the customers we seek.
Knowledge@Wharton: What are the biggest mistakes you find companies make in coming up with service design?
O’Connell: One of the things we did is focus a lot on the companies who are doing it right, which isn’t to say that there are only happy stories out there. There are a lot of companies that aren’t doing it right. But I think a few of the things that we all see just from our own experiences is people don’t walk in the customers’ shoes, literally. You know, try to be your own customer. That’s part of how you find out if you’re easy to do business with. People just don’t think it through. Crazy things that you’ll see that just make no sense. Why do I have to walk from here to there to get something done?
One of the fundamental things we’ve tried to do with the book is help companies feel empowered. In an age of social media, it’s too easy for customers to just go online and tweet, “I’ve had a really bad experience with X and such,” and then somebody in customer service goes, “We better reach out to this person because … what if this goes viral?” Companies need to feel empowered to be able to make these strategic decisions.
Stewart: One of the biggest mistakes companies make is they confuse customer service with customer experience. Customer service is at the end, and it’s important to make a good last impression. But failing to see the whole customer journey and then failing to make that as coherent as possible are two of the biggest mistakes that we see companies make.
We’ve mentioned five principles. It’s the violation of those five principles: Saying yes to everything every customer asks you to do. Not being coherent. Not being innovative. Requiring heroic efforts or making your customers work too hard. The flip side of those principles is what we see too many companies doing all the time.
O’Connell: That and focus on surprise instead of delight. Why should good service be a surprise?
Knowledge@Wharton: Now, if companies want to become better at service design, what advice would you give them?
O’Connell: They need to be willing to be honest with themselves. It is a gut check, and it’s not always pretty. And I think they need to make sure that it is going into the decision-level making of the organization.
Stewart: We’ve created a little equation in Woo, Wow, Win: Customer delight is the product of the customer’s experience and technical excellence. Experience times excellence. And we put five points under each one of those things. Empathy and engineering and the economics of it. And created a quiz you can take. I mean, a report card.
Being honest with yourself sometimes requires “let’s sit down and audit.” And that report card is a way to audit. You can sit down and you can take [the test] within your management team or a diagonal slice of the organization. Also, ask some of your customers or clients to rate you and then you can get a report card. From there, you can begin to see what’s wrong. Another idea is charting the customer journey. Have we looked at that journey? … What is my customer experiencing at each point? What do we want the whole journey to be like?
O’Connell: When you’re mapping, you have to map both onstage and offstage. What the customer sees, what the customer experiences and what’s happening offstage to make it possible.


For The Love Of Battery GIONEE M7 POWER

There’s a simple reason why the Gionee M7 Power has ‘power’ in its name — the massive 5,000mAh battery! This is also the main reason for the phone’s substantial 199 gram weight. Overall, the phone feels sturdy in terms of build quality — it has a textured finish on the back to make it stand out and provide additional grip. Even with this large a battery, the phone doesn’t feel or look like a fat brick. Battery life is great — we regularly got a full 2-days battery life plus it has fast charging support — we were able to charge the phone from 10% to 80% in two and half hours. It also supports reverse charge. This means that with a USB OTG adapter, you can use the M7 Power to charge another smartphone.
This is Gionee’s first phone in India with a FullView 18:9 aspect ratio display — you get a 6-inch screen but with a resolution of 1440 x 720 pixels. This is the first slip up because there are competing devices in the same price range that offer a higher resolution screen (Honor 9i). Apart from this, there are no issues with the display — it has slim bezels, excellent brightness, rich colour and wide viewing angles.
Hardware includes an octa core Snapdragon 435 processor, 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. For most basic tasks, the phone zips along smoothly but the entry-level Snapdragon processor will be a bottleneck for gaming and multi-tasking. The performance also takes a hit because of the extra bloatware and heavy Amigo skin by Gionee.
Gionee offers a 13MP rear camera with f2.0 aperture on the M7 Power. The autofocus and shutter speed is great and it impresses with its image quality in daytime as well as lowlight. There are a number of modes available for shooting including a manual mode, beauty mode, card scanner, panorama and 3D photo mode for the rear camera. Up front is an 8MP camera which also works well (it includes a bokeh mode for selfies which works well in good light).
If you want to join the trend of having phone with 18:9 aspect display without worrying about battery life, the Gionee M7 Power is for you. You can also consider the Honor 9i, Oppo F5 or the Vivo V7 in this price segment though they don’t offer the same kind of battery life.




Take advantage of abundant winter veggies to make these delicious and simple homemade pickles from across the country

While it’s difficult to trace the exact origins of the Indian pickle, it is believed to be one of the earliest known form of food preservation. “It was also a way to preserve the season’s excesses and stock up nutrients for the whole year. In cold and arid areas, perishable foods were dried in the sun and cured in brine,” says food writer Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal who adds that pickling is an important food tradition that is passed down the generations and the wide variety of regional ingredients and traditions pertaining to the region. “For example, vinegar is popularly used on Goan pickles, Parsis use sugarcane vinegar from Navsari while Bengalis mostly use mustard oil,” she adds. With the weather cooling off, it is time to put the seasonal fruits and vegetables to good use and an instant pickle which Gujaratis make during this time is with mango ginger. “My grandmother used to make this when tender, fresh mango ginger came into season. It has a strong aroma reminiscent of mango and is added to fresh root turmeric. It can be served with grilled dishes, paratha, khichdi, dal-chawal and virtually everything on the Indian menu,” explains Ghildiyal.

The best known Parsi pickle is the rich, carrot-based lagan nu achar, a staple at wedding feasts. “The community developed a taste for pickles after their arrival in India. They have created pickles which are typically their own such as bafenu (made with whole ripe mangoes), gajjar meva nu achaar (as it is made with pink carrots n lots of plum nuts), Kolmi nu achaar (made with prawns) but gharab nu achaar with fish roe and the indispensable Navsari sugarcane vinegar always stands out in is a classic accompaniment,” says home chef Mahrukh Mogrelia of Mahrukh’s Kitchen. Navsari vinegar is a special cane vinegar that comes from Navsari, a small town near Surat. It is still brewed in wooden casks and follows the same process since 1885. No two families will have the same recipe as these are passed from one generation to other.
1 fish roe, cut to 5-6 pieces
100 gm red Kashmiri chilles
50 gm cumin seeds
50 gm coriander seeds
100 gm garlic
100 gms mustard seeds
1 and 1/2 bottle Navsari
Half kilo jaggery
Oil as necessary
Salt as per taste
1 Clean fish and apply salt, turmeric powder, chilli powder and a tbsp of oil.
2 Steam cook till done.
3 Grind the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, mustard seeds and garlic and mix in one bottle of sugarcane vinegar. Soak jaggery in the remaining vinegar.
4 Heat oil and fry ground masala nicely and add half of the jaggery soaked vinegar. Allow to simmer till oil floats on top and assimilates into a thick paste.
5 Garnish with salt as required and add the steamed roe and allow it to marinate.
6 Once it cools down, store the pickle in air tight jars.

Almost every community has their own take on the chilli pickle and as the weather cools off, the fiery red coloured chillies make an appearance. “One of my earliest memories of eating pickle is from way back when I was in primary school. One of my bus mates would share his Punjabi style parathas with mango pickle. I would often barter mine with her as I found the Punjabi style pickle more appetising than the fiery red Maharashtrian variety,” says food writer Saee Koranne-Khandekar who makes a version that is easily adaptable “For instance, I didn’t have mustard oil or nigella seeds, and I only had champagne-style vinegar. Also, I think I threw in an extra bit of fennel seeds, because, for me, that’s the star of this pickle,” she adds.
10 red chilies
1 tbsp. fennel seeds
3 tbsp. mustard seeds
½ tbsp. cumin seeds
¾ tsp. fenugreek seeds
¼ tsp. asafoetida
1 tbsp. + ¼ cup of mustard oil
2 tsp. salt (I used coarse sea salt)
1 ½ tsp. turmeric powder
½ tbsp. vinegar (I used champagne-
1 Wash and dry the chilies on a kitchen towel until completely dry.
2 Slit and deseed the chilies.
3 Meanwhile, grind all the other ingredients (except the oil and vinegar) into a coarse powder.
4 Remove into a small mixing bowl, and add the tablespoon of oil and the vinegar. Mix with your hands.
5 Stuff the chilies with this spice rub of sorts and place them quit tightly together in a dry, sterile jar.
6 Top with the remaining spice mix and the ¼ cup of oil.
7 Place in a sunny spot on your kitchen window.

Green peppercorns are unripe pepper berries that would be dried into black and white pepper if their development were not arrested. “I love green peppercorns for their bright, intense aroma, accented with hints of freshness. Their flavour is fresher than dried peppers and brings a piquant accent to dishes. The pickled ones work just as well as the fresh peppercorns,” says Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal who uses the ground pickled peppercorns to flavour plain yogurt in the summer, or stir it into cream sauces to go over pasta or chicken for festive dinners. “A few bunches added whole to a Thai curry at the end, adds the pleasantly pungent surprise as the peppercorns burst between your teeth,” she adds. The pickle does not require refrigeration and will last for over a year. The peppercorn stalks will change to a somewhat dull, olive green colour. This is normal and doesn’t change the quality of the pickle.
150 gm pickling salt (salt
that isn’t iodised)
3½ tbsp lime juice,
100 gm fresh green pep-
percorn sprigs picked
over, washed and air-dried
50 gm limes, quartered
1 Mix the salt with about 2 cups of water in a pan on high heat and bring to a boil. Continue to boil, till a rim of salt crystals forms on the sides of the pan.
2 Skim and strain off any debris and cool.
Stir in the lime juice. 3
4 Add the peppercorns and limes, mix well and bottle.
5 Close the bottle and keep it at room temperature in a cool, dark place. It will be ready to eat in a week.
Note: This pickle tends to acquire a little mould on top where the peppercorns surface.
Don’t worry, simply pick out and discard the mouldy bits.

Ouu or elephant apple is an exotic looking fruit that is found in the states of Odisha, West Bengal, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Assam. It bears fruit in the winter months. The Charaka Samhita, an Ayurveda treatise from the first century BC, was the first book to describe its medicinal properties and a sweet and sour pickle made from the fruit is very indigenous to the Oriya community. “Our pickles are mostly on the sweeter side and we use berries, sweet potatoes and wood apple among others. Since elephant apple is sour, there is no need of a souring agent as it balances the sweetness from the jaggery,” says home chef Sweta Mohanty who cautions about the process of handling the fruit. “You have to be careful while cutting, as gum inside the fruit makes it very slippery. Cut through the middle and discard the central part as it has the most number of seeds. Then, separate the layers and cut into thin strips, lengthwise,” she adds. The pickle is best had with rice and dal.
1 whole wood apple
Mustard seeds : ½ tsp
Jaggery : As per taste of your sweetness
Ginger, grated: ½ tsp
Curry leaves : 10-12 leaves
Mustard paste - 2 - 3 tbsp
1 Cut the wood apple length wise.
2 Pound the pieces slightly and mix it mustard paste, mustard seeds, jaggery, grated ginger and curry leaves and cook it on flame till everything comes to a boil.
3 Cool it and store in fridge. It will last for 6-8 months.

| Sayoni Sinha
MM 26NOV17