We’re good at hiding.  We’re good at pretending.  We are good at acting.  Almost too good.  We prefer the world to perceive us as happy and colorful and vibrant and perfect.

We polish off the dust, giving ourselves a shiny coat…like new.  We sand off the splinters and remove the burrs.  We put fillers in the cracks and apply putty in the voids.  We oil the hinges and stain the wood.  We prime and paint.

And then the world sees us: Smiling, polished, whole, and fixed.  Effortless.

The world doesn’t ask what’s under the paint, or where the putty is, or what happened to the burrs.  The world doesn’t credit the improvement.  The world expects it.  

But we know what’s underneath.  We know.

We might be built on fractured foundation. We cover it up with a carpet of woven loops. We conceal it with wooden planks tightly fit by tongue and groove. We piece ourselves together arranging an array of textured tiles and fill the narrow channels with grout. 

When we know what’s wrong with our house, we don’t forget.  No one can see it, no one asks about it, but we know and it bothers us.  And we hide it.  We seal it.  We keep drinking the secrets so that they won’t spill.

But what we forget is that everyone else has a home.  Small, large, old, or new.  (Yes, even the new dream homes that seem absolutely perfect).  In these homes, repairs are also needed if not fulfilled already.  Perhaps not as many repairs are needed in their home, as are needed in your home, yet still there is damage, imperfection, and imbalance.  Maybe, fewer but deeper, or maybe, more but milder.  Either way, these too, are concealed under paint, stain, or polish.

Just remember that everyone has something that needs repair.  It’s not just you.  It only seems that way because you only know your house.  You don’t know what is beyond their polished, sanded, stained, and closed doors.

Zucchini Handvo (Savory Squash Cakes)
(pronounced HAHND-vo)
Handvo is traditional lunch/brunch item made with lauki/doodhi which is a mild but large squash found in India.  I prefer zucchini, as it gives a hint of sweetness, but no matter what squash you use, handvo always has a crispy top.  Handvo is usually made in a big square or rectangular pan and everyone always reaches for a crispy corner piece.  I modified this recipe to cupcake sizes so that everyone gets a crispy piece.
These savory zucchini cakes are simply AWESOME!!!!!!
Ingredients: 

Dough:
2 cups semolina flour (aka sooji at Indian stores)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
2-1/2 Tablespoons vegetable/canola oil
3-1/2 cups packed, grated zucchini (~2 large zucchinis)
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 Tablespoons ginger-chili paste
1 cup plain low fat yogurt
3/4 cup water

Crispy Topping:
2 Tablespoons vegetable/canola oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds for garnish

Directions:
1.  Combine the semolina flour (sooji), baking soda, salt, turmeric, and 2-1/2 Tablespoons vegetable oil in a small mixing bowl and mix well. The mixture should resemble cornmeal-like texture.
2.  Combine zucchini, sugar, and ginger-chili paste in a large mixing bowl.  Add yogurt and the dry ingredients and mix well.  Add 3/4 cup water and mix well again.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Brush the inside of the cupcake cavities generously with oil.  Divide the dough mixture among ~10 cupcakes.  Fill each cavity almost to the top (just sub-flush with the top of the pan).  Level each cupcake as much as possible
4.  Make the “topping”:  In a small sauce pan, heat 2 Tablespoons oil.  Then add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and asafoetida.  Cook for no longer than one minute, being careful not to burn the cumin seeds.  Remove from heat.
5.  Spoon a little of the seasoned oil on each cupcake. (about 1 scant teaspoon of oil per cupcake)  The seasoned oil is what yields a crispy crust on top.  Don’t miss this step!!
6.  Bake on the middle rack for 15 minutes.  Then change the oven setting to broil and broil for 7-10 minutes, or until the tops have browned.
7.  Remove pan from the oven, scatter with some sesame seeds, and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes.   Then you can remove cakes from the pan.  Cupcakes should still be warm when you remove them from pan.