Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Got this as a fwd, found it very interesting - From a child's point of view

Hey friends, got this mail as a forward from my cousin, the author unknown. This is a well-written piece and thought of sharing with you all. Thanks to the unknown person who wrote this and his message is acknowledged. Hope you enjoy too.


When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately
wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you feed a stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind
to animals.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make my favorite cake for me, and I learned that the little things can be the special things in life.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I heard you say a prayer, and I knew that there is a God I could always talk to, and I learned to trust in Him.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I
learned that we all have to help take care of each other.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you take care of our house and everyone in it, and I learned we have to take care of what we are given.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw how you handled your responsibilities, even when you didn't
feel good, and I learned that I would have to be responsible when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw tears come from your eyes, and I learned that sometimes things
hurt, but it's all right to cry.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw that you cared, and I wanted to be everything that I could be..

When you thought I wasn't looking, I learned most of life's lessons that I need to know to be a good and
productive person when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I looked at you and wanted to say,’ Thanks for all the things I saw when
you thought I wasn't looking.'

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A simple pound cake

These pound cakes are perfect for all occasions. Tea time, picnic, guests or if you are just bored, you can gulp in a piece of this cake.  This recipe is good and the outcome satisfying. One can understand that if the outcome is good, the tin gets emptied in no time else we would have to keep reminding or maybe serve our family members to get it finished. It has happened many times in my  household too. I have a beautiful cooking range with grill and gas oven. Since my baking and other recipes were done in the microwave, did not bother much to utilise the gas oven. Instead, that portion of the cooking range served as an instant storage. When searching for a good pound cake recipe, came across a lady who had baked in a gas oven to perfection. I wanted to give this a try and succeeded, now planning to give microwave baking a respite.

This recipe is adapted from  Rosa Levy Beranbaum of Cake Bible. I found her recipe very interesting as it does not follow the usual butter sugar mix. A very simple way of mixing the dry ingredients with the wet ones and the end result is amazing.


Self raising flour- 1 1/2 cups
Eggs - 3
Butter -185 gms.or 13 tablespoons
Sugar - 3/4 cup
Milk - 3 tbsp
Baking powder 1 tsp
Salt -1/4 tsp
Vanilla extract - 1 1/2 tsp

Preheat the gas oven for 15 minutes. In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt and the baking powder) and keep aside. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and vanilla and keep aside. To the dry mix bowl, add the butter and one third  of the egg milk mix. Blend well. Gradually add the egg mix in two additions beating the mix well in medium speed after each addition. Spread on a cake pan and bake for around 45 minutes in gas oven. I kept in the middle tray which avoided burning of the top layer and ensured uniform baking. Timing of baking would differ in the  normal oven. If the toothpick comes out clean , then the cake is done. Cool it well before slicing. This would help you get very clean slices without the cake crumbling.

Enjoy this simple cake, can add nuts and raisins too to enhance the flavour.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Chayote/Chowchow/Bangalore Kathrikka kootu

Our daily meal consists of a veggie and  dal with rotis or rice. This is a 'must' thing everyday and there are a few additions, for sure in every meal apart from the standard dal and sabji. Sometimes I prepare plain dal thadka but most of the time, it would be some vegetable with dal. I would add Ash gourd, Snake gourd, Pumpkin etc to the dal and prepare kootu. Yesterday I was able to find some fresh Chayote in the market and the sabji I prepared turned out to be too tasty. A simple yet tasty recipe would definitely be liked by all.


Chayote -2 chopped into cubes
Toor Dal - 3/4 cup cooked
Chenna Dal - 1/4 cup cooked
Sambar powder - 3/4 tsp
Red chilly powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Tomato - 1 big chopped finely
Jeera - 3/4 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - a sprig

Cook the Toor dal and chenna dal. Chop the chayote into small cubes and boil it with Sambar powder, red chilly powder, turmeric powder and salt. Once done,add the mashed cooked dal and mix well. In a small kadai, poour a tablespoon of oil, add mustard seeds and jeera. When it splutters, add curry leaves and finally chopped tomatoes. When the oil leaves the kadai, pour this  to the vegetable and mix well. Yummy chowchow kootu is ready. It goes very well with rotis and rice too.

Ending with a humorouse Robert Frost quote:
There is one thing more exasperating than a wife who can cook and won't, and that a wife who can't cook and will.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The irresistable Paani puri

I doubt if there is anyone in this Universe who dislikes Paani puri.  Known by various names like Puchkas and Golgappas, this is a complete treat on its own.  Kudos to the creator of this awesome chaat and one can go on with puris after puris as it is very light on the stomach too.  It is an art to break a small portion of the puri, fill it with all goodies and dip it straightway in the paani and gulp it.  This is one such dish where even the elite and sophisticated stuff their mouth with the puri without giving it a delicate bite.  To be frank, the roadside ones are quite delicious and if one is not too fussy about the hygiene part, I would recommend to give it a try.  Each one has their own filling and now there are flavours of Paani too like Nimbu, Adrak, Pudina exclusive etc etc.  But, I personally prefer our good old original flavour.  Here goes the recipe.


Puris -20 nos.
Potatoes - 4 to 5 (boiled and mashed)
Black chenna - 1/2 cup (Boiled)
Assorted Sprouts - 1/2 cup
Boondhi - 1/4 cup
Coriander leaves - finely chopped
Onions - finely chopped (optional)

Ingredients for 'Paani'

Mint leaves - 1 cup chopped
coriander leaves - 1 tbsp
Tamarind - 1/2 cup
Jeera - 1 tsp roasted  powder
Black salt
Normal salt

Sweet Chutney preparation

Dates - 1 cup
Jaggery - 1 cup
Tamarind - 1/4 cup
Chilly powder - 1 tsp

Paani preparation: Squeeze out the pulp from the tamarind after soaking it in 3/4th cup of water.  Strain the water through a fine sieve to obtain very clear water without any sediments.  Blend this pulp with Coriander leaves, Mint leaves, Adrak, Jeera till it is done.  Transfer this mixture to a big vessel and add about 5 to 6 cups of water. Add black salt and check the taste.  This paani is to be chilled for a couple of hours at least, for the flavours to blend in nicely.

Sweet chutney preparation:  Deseed the dates and add it alongwith tamarind, jaggery and set it to boil in 3 cups of water. Add the chilly powder and salt and allow the mixture to simmer for 20 minutes till a thick concoction is obtained.  Sieve the mix and check for taste.

Stuffing preparation:

Boil the potatoes, mash and add salt.  Sprout lentils of your choice. Boil kaala chenna with salt and set aside.  Salted boondhi, finely chopped coriander leaves and onions to be kept ready.

Paani puri :

Crack open the puri and make a hole of diameter 3/4 inch.  The first item to enter would be the potatoes, then the sprouts, black chenna, salted boondhi, coriander leaves, half teaspoon of sweet chutney and the onions.  Now, this stuffed puri has to be dipped in the Mint paani and to be consumed immediately.  To be prepared fresh as and when one is ready to eat.

It was fun with each one enjoying their puri according to their taste.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mirror, mirror on the wall, Who in the land is the fairest of all???

How many of us gaze and begin  a touch-up as soon as we see a mirror in front of us, unmindful of the place???  I am sure, all of you would be nodding your head, of course, with a smile on your lips.  This is but natural for all of us  to ensure that we look good at all times. 

This reflex action is not restricted to humans alone.  Even cats, dogs and birds react when they see their reflection in a mirror.  I have witnessed many instances when a sparrow keeps banging on the mirror upon seeing it reflect. 

I have seen many completing their final touch-ups in their car, I do so :):) The elevator (lift)  is another vital source which provides ample time to adjust in the absence of fellow members with you inside.  In shops, one can see the dresses displayed on oneself to  verify the suitability of color.  In some Chennai sari shops, they drape you with the sari to view in the life-size mirrors and to get approval from almost everyone present in the scene. 

Each of us feel that we look good inspite of our flaws.  To set right the flaws, we resort to make-ups and enhancements in the form of mascara, kajal, lip colors etc etc..  To perform the above acts, we take refuge in a mirror.  A lady in particular, would love to have a full size mirror in her house to get a full image.  Most of us would be carrying a palm-size mirror in our hand bags and this has come in several shapes now.   Nowadays, I see men too getting addicted to mirror gazing !!!!!!!

I would  recall the Scooty Pep advertisement in the television where the model would be adjusting her lipstick looking at the nearby car window and the person inside the car wondering what was happening. It was a good ad.

Vaastu experts have their say of the directions of the placement of mirrors in the house for maximum benefits.

It would not be an exaggeration if I say that 'Mirrors are humans best friends'. How often do u see yourself in a mirror during the day??????

Monday, October 10, 2011

My 150th post celebration with 'Tasty Neiyappams'

There cannot be a better way to celebrate the 150th post other than this delicious, mouth watering sweet.  Neiyappams are a delight to prepare as well as devour.   It is not very sweet and the texture makes you crave for more.  No one can stop with just one.  I recall my grandmother preparing tins full of these keeping it ready for us during our vacation to her place.  The rich golden brown color would give us a detailed account how patiently it was prepared in medium  heat.  I recently brought back my grandma's 'Appakaaral'  (the mould which is used to make appam).  This is a very old one and used by generations.  Glad to have it with me.  The mould is made of bell metal, heavy , quite deep and hence the appams are quite big and looks beautiful.  Because of its heaviness, there is less risk of it being tilted during the process and the heat is also uniformly distributed.


Raw rice - 1 cup
Jaggery - 3/4 cup
Ripe banana - 1/2
Shredded coconut - 3 tbsp
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp

Soak raw rice for almost two hours.  Soak the jaggery in 1/4 cup water.  Once the jaggery is fully dissolved in water, sieve it for impurities.  Grind together the soaked rice, banana  with the jaggery water to a fine batter.  The batter should be of semi-flowing consistency (like dosa batter).  Add cardamom and shredded coconut to the batter. 

Place the 'appa kaaral' on the gas and pour  1/2 tsp of ghee in each depression.  Once the ghee is heated up (not smoky), pour ladle full of the batter into each mould.  The batter should fill up to the brim of the mould.  Allow it to cook gently in medium heat and when the bottom sides have begun to brown, gently turn it over so that the top portion is also cooked.  Once both the sides are evenly rich golden brown in color,  remove from the mould with the help of skewers and drain the excess ghee by resting in paper towels.  Allow it to cool and the appams are ready to be served.

Neiyappams usually have a semi-hard texture, I wonder if there is any combination with which Neiyappams can be enjoyed which is otherwise eaten as it is.

'The two biggerst sellers in the bookstores are the 'cook books' and the 'diet books'.  The cook books tell you how to prepare the food and the diet books tell you how not to eat any of it ' - Andy Rooney

Friday, September 30, 2011

More about Golu

Many of my blogger friends were asking me to write more about ' Golu' and the intricacies behind the arrangement.  Golu is the arrangement of dolls or 'bommais' which is a form of celebrating Navarathri. 

The navarathri we now celeberate is known as 'Sharad Navarathr'i. On the first phase of three days (nights) we worship Parasakthi as Durga. The word 'Durga' means one who gives protection to us from all evil tendencies. The other meaning is one who defends us from enemies. On the second phase of  three days we worship Devi Goddess) as Lakshmi who gives us prosperity. And on the last three days we worship Devi as Saraswathi, The Goddess of learning, music, dance and finer arts who gives us knowledge.

We  worship  Devi in all Her three forms. Lalita Saharsanamam is best chanted on all the ten days in the evening. On the tenth day which is called Vijayadashami we pray to Parasakthi to give us knowledge, and release from all our evil tendencies.

Clay dolls of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, village scenes, weddings, Dasavatar (the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu) and similar themes are exhibited in odd numbered steps also termed as 'Golu padi'.  These steps can be built upon using different sized boxes or readily available in shops now, all that it requires are screws and nuts to assemble. These steps can be put to use as a regular shelf later.

Traditional wooden dolls called ' Marapaachi' are adorned with grand clothing and jewellery are kept for display.  A ' Kalasam' is kept in the centre, this is a brass pot filled with water and a coconut on top amidst mango leaves.  Rangoli or 'Kolams' are put in front of the golu stand and at the door front door step. A lamp is lit daily.  Prasads or 'sundal' of various lentils are offered each day to Gods and Goddesses.  Friends and relatives are invited to witness the golu.  Devotional songs are usually sung by everyone who visits home.

The visitors are offered the daily prasad alongwith betel leaf, betel nut, coconut, blouse piece, small packets of haldi and kumkum, a small mirror and a comb.

Nowadays, we find improvisation in the traditional form of 'golu'. We find theme based and hi-fi ones too.  The skills and interests of the people are on display.  Waterfalls and volcanoes are conceived, miniature ponds with swans, miniature trains with junctions and parks, miniature depictions of Tirupathi and other holy shrines are created with utmost care taken on minute details to replicate the original.

The ninth day of Navarathri is dedicated to Goddess Saraswathi.  Books covered in silk cloth and musical instruments are kept for pooja and blessings of the Goddess is sought.  Prasad of vada,appam,sundal and kheer is offered to Goddess.  This is also the day of Ayudha Puja literally meaning puja for tools being used at home.  Vehicles at home are washed and adorned with a paste of sandal powder, kukum and flower garlands..  Tools in factories are cleaned and adorned too.   Puffed rice with jaggery is offered as prasad to all the workers in factories and to all members at home.

The tenth day of Navarathri is the Vijayadasami day.  The books and tools which had been kept for worship will be removed and ready to be used.  It is a new beginning for young children, be it joining a new class like singing or dancing.  Toddlers begin their first lessons on this day.  In the night, symbolically portraying the end of golu, a couple of dolls are made to lie down.

Navarathri is a colorful festival with each region having their own traditional way of celebrating. No matter how the celebrations are, this brings joy and happiness to everyone and togetherness in the family.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Golu in Chennai

Hey friends, just back home after a two week visit to Chennai.  As Navarathri is nearing, there were golu dolls in Mylapore.  It was a beautiful sight and here for you all to enjoy as well.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Unanimously loved by one and all - Jawwarisi /Sago pearls / Sabudana vadam

There used to be a time when vadams and pickles were never store bought.  Chennai has only summer and summer always, a slightly cool weather in December and January.  All the vadams would be prepared periodically and stored.  Ours was a bungalow type house but the neighbour's terrace would be visible.  At any point we can see someone or the other preparing vadams in their terrace.  I recall my mother making these and my sisters and me would be too willing to help her mainly to nibble at the vadams at different stages of drying.  It would begin with the dough tasting and slowly extend to the vadams itself.   Now, I see my cousins do not take the trouble of making it, instead readymades are available at reasonable cost.  But, I still enjoy preparing these.  Here,goes the recipe.

Jawwarisi or Sabudana - 2 cups
Green chillies - 10
Lime - 4 or 5

Soak Sabudana overnight.  Dissolve asoefoetida in three tablespoon of water.  Grind the green chillies to a fine paste. 

In a thick bottom vessel, cook the soaked sabudana with enough water.  Keep stirring till the pearls become transparent. Allow it to cool completely and at this point the consistency should be taken note of.  If the mixture is quite thick, it would thicken further while cooling and this would be a difficult venture later on.  Add just enough water so that the mixture is in semi-solid consistency.  Once it is cooled, add salt, asoefoetida, chilly paste and the lemon juice.  Check for taste and add the necessary ingredients accordingly.  Now, the mixture should be in a semi- solid consistency and not a pouring one.  Fill a ladle of mixture and place it in the plastic sheet directly under the sun.  It may take a couple of days before the vadam is dried completely. 

Vadams can be deep fried or can be toasted in the microwave.  Enjoy with piping hot rice and sambar. I like it that way.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Thenga maanga sundal

A visit to Marina beach is incomplete without munching the sundal or enjoying the tangy theekka milaga bajji.  I used to admire the young lads mostly in their early teens selling sundal with full vigor.  I personally feel that certain eats would have the fullest satisfaction if had in a small quantity like this sundal which is given in a small paper cone, 4 to 5 mango pieces dipped in red chilly and salt in front of Nallis in T'Nagar etc etc,  But, since I had to wait for another couple of months to visit Chennai and the Marina beach, I prepared at home and it was a huge success and all of us at home had this sundal sitting  in the Corniche which is quite similar to the Marina.


Chenna - 1/2 kg
Green chillies - 2 tsp finely chopped
Curry leaves - 2 tsp
Coriander leaves - 4 tsp finely chopped
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Mango - 1/2 mango finely chopped
Grated fresh coconut- 4 tbsp
Ginger - 1 tsp finely chopped
Lemon - 2

Boil the chenna with salt and strain in a colander.  In a heavy pan, add oil and then the mustard seeds, when it splutters add the green chillies, curry leaves and add the cooked chenna. Stir it till it is dry and devoid of any water content.  Now, add the coriander leaves, finely chopped mango pieces, finely chopped ginger, grated coconut  and the juice of two lemon.  Mix well and the spicy 'chat pata' sundal is ready to eat.

'If the divine Creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite thing to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony' - Fernand Point

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Janmashtami wishes to all my blogger friends

This is one of my favourite pic of Lord Krishna and may all of us seek His Blessings  this Janmashtami.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Usli sevai - Sevai with a twist

All of us are familiar with sevai or idiyappam as it is commonly called as it is quite easy to dish out with readymades available now.  But, I still prefer the traditional method of making the sevai with the 'sevai naazhi' or the 'sevai machine' and especially the taste is too good if it is prepared with boiled rice.  Here, I come with usli sevai which is quite filling and tasty too.

Ingredients for Sevai:

Boiled rice - 3 cups

Soak boiled rice for about 5 to 6 hours and grind it fine, add salt.  In a thick bottom pan, pour two tablespoon of oil and pour the ground mixture.  Keep it in low flame and let the rice paste cook and turn color from white to grey.  When the mixture does not stick to your wet fingers you know that  the rice paste is cooked.   While hot, dip hands in cold water and make balls of the same and keep it in idli cooker for about 7 to 8 minutes.  Once it is done, the balls to be inserted into the sevai machine and made into sevai.

Ingredients for Usli

Urad dal - 1 cup
Green chillies -4 to 5 (according to your taste)
Mustard seeds - 1/2tsp
Red chillies- 4 to 5
Curry leaves

Soak urad dal for 20 minutes and grind it coarsely with green chillies,hing and salt.  Place the ground mix in an idli plate and steam it for 10 minutes.  Take out these urad dal idlis and allow it to cool completely.  Fragment these idlis and keep aside.  In a kadai, pour two tablespoons of oil, add a teaspoon of urad dal, half a teaspoon of mustard seeds, red chillies, curry leaves and put the usli and keep stirring.  Now, add the sevai to this usli and very gently mix it so that the sevai retains its shape.

A very interesting version of the regular sevai and very filling too.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

International passengers carry interesting baggages, I do, do you?????

Hey friends, there was an interesting write-up in Times Of India where they found out that Indian passengers carry very interesting baggages from their homeland, some even mangoes and noodles too.

Middle east is the place where we get all the Indian products at Indian stores.  But, again if one is on the look out for a particular brand, then I am not sure if it is available.  I have known people carrying fresh jasmine flowers too as the travel time is only three hours from India.  On the personal front,  I find the spices are much more aromatic in India and feel that if I prepare Sambar powder with Indian stuff, the flavour is so authentic.  This stands first in my list of packages from Chennai.  Mustard seeds of that minute size is not available here,so I carry enough to last a few months.  Of course, goodies from Grand sweets or Adyar Ananda Bhavan is a must and my friends wait for those too.  Being a grandmom,  my mind is always on the look out for something unique that I can carry to US for my daughters and grand children especially the typical cotton clothes.

Back to my problem of what to carry and what not, as I visit US quite often, but annoyed by the recent restriction of the baggage weight. These airlines have become smart over the period. Earlier days, we were permitted to carry 2 baggages of 35 kgs each, and now only one baggage of 23 kg. Imagine 68% reduction in carrying capacity. This is very hard on us who wish to carry the entire world to our children and grand children. This family unfriendly decision by the Airlines industries is a great hurdle in promoting family values !!!. Here goes the list from Abu Dhabi to US. My relatives, friends and neighbours love to have the choco dates. It is a unique combination of dates stuffed with roasted almonds and dipped in milk chocolates packed attractively and provides the royal touch. Fresh motichooooor laddoo, how can I forget, at least a couple of kg from Chappanbogh is a must item. I prefer to carry plenty of Saggeei dates, nuts and Arabic sweets to give them the Middle east touch. So, having stuffed my suitcase with Chennai and Abu Dhabi purchases (remember 23 kgs), where is the scope for my personal items. Most of them goes into hand baggage and my husband will carry out inventory balancing and adjust the weights as if he would be in a position to hoodwink the checkin counter staff.

In reality,  to walk through with  hand bag  3 to 4 kgs above the limit,  brings out my hidden natural artist in me  every  time I check in at the airport.

At the airport, the check in bag cleared with 26 kgs  mmmmmm  great relief.  ‘Ma’m how about your hand baggage?’  My highly expressive enactment satisfied the counter staff  that it is not much beyond the permissible limit and here I gooooooooo.   What an effort to avoid few kgs of excess baggage. In spite of all this, I end up paying excess baggage most of the time, as I cannot forego some of the above items en route.

In my opinion, the body weight and the luggage weight  of the person should be a combined limit, so that sleek person like me can gain advantage !!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The irresistable Frankie

During the college days, my sister and me would wait for weekends just to have yummy Frankies.  The famous place where they serve made-to-order frankies were in front of Globus, not sure if it exists now.  A couple of them and we were full.  Those were carefree and fun days with nothing to worry about, missing those years a lot.  If possible, would love to relive and relish those days again.  My sister was a good partner in all our masti, be it good or adventurous.  And, of course we had loads and loads of friends.  It was a mix of mine and my sister's friends, so a birthday party would contain a minimum of 25 to 30 friends and full all day around.  We had a scooty to move around Chennai and within months, we were able to find our ways through gullys and narrow lanes to explore the best food in the city.  Not to miss the Dosa in Karpagambal mess in Mylapore near the Chithrakulam tank, hot bondas from Sangeetha, hot and fresh polis from Poli corner, the tender coconut water and the goodies of Grand sweets. Another favourite of ours was the freshly roasted groundnuts from a small shop in Mylapore, this shop still exists.

Now,coming back to the Frankie recipe - I found that with small additions of chutneys and lemon juice, it enhanced the taste of it.  Here are the ingredients:

Potatoes - 3 big cubed

Carrots   - 2 chopped
Onion     - 1 medium size finely chopped
Capsicum - 1 chopped
Panneer - 1 cup cubed
Wheat flour - 1/2 cup
Maida - 1 1/2 cups
Red chilly powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala powder- 1 tsp
Chaat masala
Coriander leaves - 4 tbsp finely chopped
Butter - as desired
Lemon - 2 nos.
Coriander chutney
Tamarind chutney

In a pan, add oil and then the chopped onions and once it turns translucent, add potatoes, carrots, and capsicum. Add salt, garam masala powder and red chilly powder and cook it in low heat till the veggies are just done. Mix the cubed panneer. Allow it to cool.

Knead maida and wheat flour into a dough.  Take a small ball of the dough and roll it very thin to about  6" diameter. Apply butter on one side of the rolled dough and cook it with the butter side down in a tava in medium flame.  Once this side is done, take it out and place on a plate and add the veggies mix in a thin line, add a few drops of lemon juice, some very finely chopped raw onions, coriander chutney, tamarind chutney and finely chopped coriander and finally little chaat masala to the veggies mix.

Wrap it with a parchment paper or foil and ur frankie is good to go.

This is a perfect snack and very apt for parties and picnics.

'Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside' - Mark Twain

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Nature's Vibrant colour-Yellow

Talk about the bright yellow sun which starts the dawn of the day and gives life and energy to all mankind. Yellow is cheerful. It brings an instant vigour inside oneself when you see the colour. Yellow is the colour of citrus and freshness. This also catches a lot of attention being on the brighter side but some say that viewing this colour for a long time brings tiredness to our eyes due to its brightness.

There are many products in Nature which has the yellow colour in them. Saffron when mixed with milk produces a beautiful yellow. Pollen grains are again yellow in colour. The spice 'Turmeric' is yellow and it has many medicinal qualities. It also acts as a colouring agent in cooking. Not to forget the 'mustard' which is black and when made to paste or broken has a beautiful yellow inside and who can forget the lovely yellow mustard plant flowers.

The flower Daffodil is yellow and so is lily. Among the fruits we have the energetic banana and the sweetlime and not to miss the 'King of fruits - Mango'. Yellow indicates the ripeness of the fruit which is usually green in colour when unripe. The lighter version of yellow - 'cream' has a soothing feel on the eyes

One of the most precious metal gold is also yellow. Bronze is another metal which is used to make statues and other cast items. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. The colour varies from dark yellow to brown depending upon how much zinc is present. The more the zinc, the lighter the colour.

Leaves turn yellow due to losing its colouring pigment chlorophyll to losing its colouring pigment chlorophyl. It is a beautiful sight to see the yellow leaves during the autumn season.

In many countries including India, the colour yellow denotes prosperity and well being; In some Indian weddings, the bride is usually adorned in a yellow sari and the groom in a yellow dhoti. Yellow Chrysanthemums are usually adorned in the hair as a symbol of celebration.

Mustard Kancheevaram sari with rust border is a common sight during Chennai's 'Margazhi maasam music fests'.  We can keep on and on about this bright color.  It is Nature's pride and our delight.

'I really just want to be warm yellow light that pours over everyone I love '- Conor Oberst

Monday, July 18, 2011

The power of Prayer

Most of the times, we resort into saying heavy slokas and stotrams in Sanskrit that we might not understand or even try to understand.  This reciting maybe as a result of practice or by repetition by elders at home.  In most of the households in South India, the morning begins with the tuning in of Vishnu Sahasranamam and over the years, the lyrics become familiar and without our knowledgee we tend to repeat.

On thinking about the same, one may wonder what is the use of this parroting?  Prayers can be simple dialogues between us and the Supreme.  When I got this forward, it served as an eye opener and proved a fitting reply to my doubts.  Am sure, many like me would be having the same view point and this would benefit them too.

An old farmer lived on a farm in the mountains with his young grandson. Each morning grandfather wakes up early sitting at the kitchen table reading  his Bhagavadh Geetha. His grandson wanted to be just like him and tried to imitate him in every way he could.

One day the grandson asked, "Grandpa! I try to read the Bhagavadh Geetha just like you but I don't understand it, and whatever I do understand,  I forget as soon as I close the book. What good does reading the Bhagavadh Geetha do?"

The Grandfather quietly turned from putting coal in the stove and replied,"Take this coal basket down to the river and bring me back a basket of water."

The boy did as he was told, but all the water leaked out before he got back to the house. The grandfather laughed and said, "You'll have to move a little faster next time," and sent him back to the river with the basket to try again. This time the boy ran faster, but again the basket was empty before he returned home. Out of breath, he told his grandfather that it was impossible to carry water in a basket, and he went to get a bucket instead.

The old man said, "I don't want a bucket of water; I want a basket of water. You're just not trying hard enough," and he went out the door to watch the boy try again.

At this point, the boy knew it was impossible, but he wanted to show his grandfather that even if he ran as fast as he could, the water would leak out before he got back to the house.

The boy again dipped the basket into river and ran hard, but when he reached his grandfather,  the basket was again empty. Out of breath, hesaid,"See Grandpa, it's useless!""So you think it is useless?" The old man said, "Look at the basket."

The boy looked at the basket and for the first time realized that the basket was different. It had been transformed from a dirty old coal basket to a clean one, inside and out.

"Son, this is what happens when you read the Bhagavath Geetha. You might not understand or remember everything, but when you read it, you will be changed, inside and out. That is the work of Krishna in our lives."

Was touched by the above story that I do not question myself when I read my daily slokas.
'Prayer requires more of the heart than the tongue '- Adam Clarke

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Creamy tasty Navratan kurma

Navratan kurma used to be first in the wish list during our visits to the restaurants, awesome taste and texture.  The combination of nuts and fruits embedded in the gravy alongside the veggies is a true delight for the eyes and the tongue.  It is indeed a blend of tastes and is a 'Navratan' in literal terms.  This is a very simple preparation and once the necessary ingredients are ready, gets done very quickly.  Here goes the recipe:
Potatoes - 2 nos. (chopped)
Carrots - 1/2 cup (chopped)
Beans -  1/2 cup (chopped)
Cauliflower - 1/2 cup (florets)
Green bell pepper - 1/2 cup (chopped)
Peas - 1/2 cup
Onion - 2 nos. (chopped)
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
Tomato paste - 3 tbsp
Cashews and raisins - 1/4 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Red chilly powder - 3/4 tsp
Garam masala powder - 1 tsp
Heavy cream - 1/2 cup
Coriander leaves - 1/2 tsp (finely chopped)

Roast the cashews and keep aside. 

In two tablespoon of oil in a pan add the chopped onions and cook it until soft.  The heat should be in the minimum so that the masalas do not get burnt.  Mix the ginger garlic paste and stir till it leaves a beautiful aroma. Now, add the turmeric powder, red chilly powder, coriander powder and the garam masala powder. Mix the tomato paste and add water.  Once this mixture comes to a boil, add all the chopped veggies and salt.  Cover with a lid for the veggies to cook in the masala.  Once it is cooked, stir in the heavy cream and add the roasted cashews and raisins.  Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves.

Creamy and tasty Navratan kurma ready to serve.

“Cookery is not chemistry. It is an art. It requires instinct and taste rather than exact measurements.”- Marcel Boulestin

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The ever eternal Pav Bhaji

This is the recipe one never gets tired of and it can never go wrong in any kitchen.  I personally feel that the small nuances enhances the taste of any particular dish.  And especially, this bhaji is incomplete without cauliflower, carrots,beans, capsicum and peas to name a few.  These veggies have to be present and cannot be substituted with anything else.  Again, the pav, if freshly baked, does wonders.

During my young days, we had different sources of acquiring butter. One was the traditional method where my mom used to accumulate cream and once a week, butter was churned in a mixer. There used to be a 'Nambisan butter' which used to top up the deficit of the home made. And special occasions like Pav bhaji calls for only Amul butter. Till today, for Pav to be toasted, I prefer Amul butter (although I get Danish Lurpak) and the slight crispiness and the brown crunchy taste is mind blowing. I prefer to make the bhaji simple and not very 'Masaladhar'.

Here goes my version

Potatoes - 6 nos
Tomatoes - 2 big finely chopped
Carrots - 2 nos chopped
Onion - 1 big finely chopped
Capsicum - 1/2 cup chopped
Beans - 1/2 cup chopped
Peas - 1/4 cup
Cauliflower- 1/2 cauliflower into florets
Coriander leaves - 4 tbsp finely chopped
Ginger - 1 tsp finely chopped
Jeera - 1 tsp
Pav bhaji masala - 3 tsp (I used MDH Pav bhaji masala)
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chilly powder - 3/4 tsp
Lemon - 2 nos.
Amul Butter

Boil potatoes, peel and keep it aside.  Cook carrots, beans, cauliflower,capsicum and keep aside.  Boil peas separately.

In a kadai, add one tablespoon butter, add jeera and the finely chopped onions. Saute it well and then add finely chopped ginger, Pav bhaji masala, turmeric powder, red chilly powder and stir well till the masalas are blended and then add the finely chopped tomatoes and allow it to cook well.  Now, add the cooked potatoes,beans,carrots capsicum and cauliflower. Add salt and mash the veggies well.  Once it is mashed, add water to bring it to bhaji consistency.  Now add the boiled peas and mix well.  If the peas is boiled alongwith other veggies, it will be mashed and will not be visible.

Now garnish with very finely chopped coriander leaves and the bhaji is all set to hold hands with the mighty pav.  Squeeze the juice of two lemons or as per taste before serving.


There is one thing more exasperating than a wife who can cook and won't, and  a wife who can't cook and will. ~Robert Frost
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