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Archive for November, 2007

Mid Week Humour

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Weirdest Meme and 5Qs Meme

Writing a meme can be very difficult and scary! I got to know this when I was tagged by mansi a few months back. We can talk endlessly about others, all the people we come across, very easily! As soon as we meet someone or we read a post in a blog, we can form some opinion about the blogger, the recipe, or the post (how good or bad it is). How many times have I scrutinized my self, my actions? When Siri tagged me, I started thinking hard, and found that I was weird in so many ways!

Siri rightly understood that I am a weird human being! :D She has tagged me to write 7 weird facts about me! So read on:-

  1. Most probably I am the only person who started a blog with out knowing abc of computers and typing! To think how I typed my first few recipes! :D
  2. I am fickle minded when it comes to watching TV. I watch all 108 channels with in 10 minutes, when I have my lunch and decide none of them are worth watching! :D
  3. I am claustrophobic! always like to have the doors open. The additional grill gate which most people have for the front door, makes me feel suffocated.
  4. I have travelled alone and reached unknown destinations at midnight, without getting scared even a bit! But at the sight of a rodent, I will screech and jump on to the nearest sofa, bed or even dining table! :D
  5. Lakshmi says I have ‘ what to cook syndrome’. Which means, every morning I keep pestering people to tell me the menu, though I have thousands of recipes!
  6. Lakshmi says I walk like a penguin when I am not well! :D I just cannot stay in bed and take rest. I also keep giving instructions to hubby and children how to go about cooking and other housework. :D
  7. Having stayed only in cities, I hate city life! I love to stay in a quite village. On river bank with green fields et all!

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Now for the 5 Qs Meme

Rajeshwari of RAK’s kitchen tagged me for 5Qs meme. This is much simpler as I just have to answer specific questions!

1.How long have you been blogging?

I have been blogging sice 29th june 2007. That is 5 months.

2. What inspired you to blog and who are your mentors?

My lovely daughter lakshmi inspired me to blog and my son Raghavan and daughter lakshmi are my computer Gurus!

3. Are you trying to make money online or doing it just for fun?

Make money or spend money!? :D We get fat phone bills as I am on the net for such a long time! I started the blog to keep a proper record of all the rare recipes I learnt from my patti and amma. I never knew there will be so many crazy food bloggers like me who welcomed our blog with open heart and arms! :) I am just loving all this fun and cannot stay away from blogging.

4.What are the three things you love about being online?

1. As soon as I sit at the computer, I log into google talk. I chat with lax whenever I feel like. It is like being with her the whole day! This is what I love most about being online.

2. I love the idea of getting to know so many people whom we would have never known otherwise! There are so many in our own city, we would never meet there was no internet! The innumerable friends I have made online is amazing! Exchanging of small conversations in each others blogs is very interesting.
3. Sitting in the comfort of my home I can read so many new recipes and try them immediately! In these few months I have learnt so many variety of dishes. When I have this what to cook syndrome, I just log in, browse through some of my favourite blogs and get a recipe.

5. What are the three things you struggle with online?

1. Blogging is very addictive! I struggle to get up from the computer! :)

2. Remembering names of bloggers and their respective blogs is very difficult! Remembering events, deadlines, sending the entries, OMG all these are very difficult for me.

3. When I go out for shopping, I am always looking for ingredients that I will need to cook a recipe from some blog! :D

Finally it is over! :D

As I have not tagged anyone in my last meme I will be tagging now.

Fridge meme

I would like to tag Sia , Padmaja and Raaga to show their fridge!

5 Qs meme

For this I would like to tag

  1. Bharathy of spicy chilly
  2. Asha of Foodies Hope
  3. Kribha of En Samayal pakkam
  4. Srivalli of Cooking for all seasons
  5. Siri of Siri’s corner

These are the rules for the weird facts Meme.
1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 random and/or wierd things about yourself.
3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

The seven persons I am tagging are

  1. Viji of Vcuisine
  2. Happy cook of My Kitchen Treasures
  3. Rajeshwari of RAKS Kitchen
  4. Vijaya of daily meals
  5. Prema of My Cook Book
  6. TBC of the budding cook
  7. Vineela of Vineela’s cuisine

There is absolutely no compulsion from my side that the persons tagged should do the meme! Do it as and when you please! :)

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All festivals celebrated anywhere in the world are for giving us respite from the routine. Just to stop for a while and enjoy the beauty of life. A few months back a friend of mine said that she hated festivals as it meant following some rituals like having a head bath, waking up early in the morning, cleaning the house a few days in advance, elaborate cooking etc, etc. She felt frustrated as she was always forced by her MIL and could never see any joy in festivals! Anything thrust upon us forcefully becomes a burden.

Thankfully I had no such bitter experiences. Though I too follow all the rituals, I do it on my own accord and that makes the huge difference! Festival means holiday for hubby and children! Cooking at a leisurely pace, dressing up kids with lovingly designed clothes, visiting friends , inviting some for lunch or dinner, exchanging pleasantries with all your loved ones atleast over phone, and so many more lovely things to look forward to on a festival day!

Some times I am not able to follow all the rituals associated with a festival. I still enjoy without any feeling of guilt! After all we are humans! My suggestion to one and all is, just let your hair down and relax and enjoy! That’s what festivals are all about! :)

I prepared a simple feast for Thiru Karthigai and this is my entry for Traditional feast hosted by Meeta of What’s For Lunch Honey! Thanks Meeta for hosting this wonderful event! :) Though a proper traditional meal has more items in the menu, I cooked only a few. With only three of us, I had to limit the no of items.

PB240706

Traditional Feast Menu

  1. Mysore rasam
  2. Avial
  3. Urad dal bhonda
  4. Suyian (Recipe below)
  5. Arbi curry ( Recipe below)
  6. Cabbage poriyal
  7. Gooseberry chutney( Recipe below)
  8. Tomato pachadi

In older days food was served in plantain leaves as it was available in plenty and also people had to find some use for these leaves, instead of letting them go waste. The tip of the leaf should be to the left hand side of the diner. On festival days a teaspoon of sugar and a banana is served in the left corner of the leaf. Rice is always accompanied by plain dal.

Urad dal bhonda

This is a slight variation to the urad dal vadas. Prepare the batter as you do for vadas. Add a few flakes of coconut, roughly crushed peppercorns and chopped curry leaves. Shape them to small balls and fry in hot oil.

Suyian

Ingredients

  • Grated coconut – 1 cup
  • Grated jaggery – 1/2 cup
  • Cardamom – 1 no
  • Maida – 2 tablespoons
  • Oil – 100ml

Method

  • In a heavy bottomed pan, mix jaggery, coconut and 2 tablespoons water and cook on a medium flame, stirring continously.
  • Take off the flame once the jaggery melts and blends with the coconut. Add cardamom powder and allow to cool. This is the poornam.
  • Mix maida with some water to a thick paste. Make balls out of the poornam, coat with maida paste and fry in hot oil.
  • As the poornam is already cooked only the outer covering needs to be cooked. The balls will be white when hot. As it cools the suyian will turn brown as the outer covering will soak the jaggery syrup from the poornam. This is the main reason for making the outer coating with a soft flour.

Arbi or Taro or Colacasia curry

Ingredients

  • Colacasia – 1/2 kg
  • Hing – 1/4 teaspoon
  • turmeric – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Thick tamarind paste – 2 table spoons ( made from lemon sized ball of tamarind)
  • Salt – 3/4 teaspoon
  • Chilli powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Urad dal – 1 teaspoon
  • Channa dal – 1 teaspoon
  • Mustard seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Oil – 2 table spoons.

Method

  1. Wash the colacasia well and pressure cook. Allow to cool and peel the skin.
  2. Cut into small pieces. Mix tamarind paste, salt, turmeric powder, chilli powder and hing in a bowl and coat the colacassia with this paste.
  3. Heat oil in a kadai on a medium flame. Add mustard seeds, when it crackles add urad dal and channa dal.
  4. Fry till golden. Add the colacasia and stir fry on a low flame to get crispy curry.

Gooseberry chutney

Ingredients

  • Gooseberries – 4 nos
  • Urad dal – 2 tablespoons
  • Mustardseeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Red chillies – 2 nos
  • Hing – a small piece
  • Turmeric powder- 1/2 teaspoon
  • Oil – 1 table spoon
  • Salt to taste

Method

  1. Remove the seeds from gooseberries and cut into small pieces.
  2. Heat oil in a small kadai, fry the mustard, urad dal, hing and redchillies till golden. Add the gooseberries and turmeric and saute for two minutes.
  3. Allow to cool, add salt and grind to a chutney.

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Vegan Chocolate Truffles

I have weakness for chocolate – not just in terms of eating but it also happens to be my pet ingredient. After learning that one manufaturer of truffles – Lagusta’s Lucious Truffles – makes them using coconut milk instead of fresh cream, I decided to give it a try. This is my entry for Suganya’s Vegan Ventures.

Truffles1

Vegan Chocolate Truffles

Ingredients

  • Chocolate (70% cocoa, no milk content) – 250 gms or approx 8 1/2 oz
  • Coconut Milk (thick, should be the consistency of fresh heavy cream) – 125 ml or approx 1/2 cup
  • Flavouring of choice – 2 tbsp
  • Toasted Nuts or Cocoa powder – 1/2 cup

Method

  1. Chop the Chocolate into small pieces or grate well. Roughly chop the toasted nuts.
  2. Bring the Coconut Milk to a boil in a heavy bottom saucepan or MW on high for 11/2 to 2 minutes. The milk should bubble.
  3. Take the milk off flame or remove from microwave and add chopped chocolate pieces. Whisk well until the mixture (called ganache) is silky, smooth and shiny.
  4. Add the flavourings and mix well.
  5. Chill the mixture in the freezer for 3 hours till it is well set. Using a melon baller or a spoon scoop a portion after the 2nd hour to see if the mixture is set. A well set mixture is easy to scoop, shape and is not very sticky.
  6. Line a tray or flat vessel with parchment or wax paper. Keep a flat bowl with outer covering (nuts or cocoa) ready.
  7. Take out the mixture from the freezer. Scoop out a small portion and shape into a round ball using the tips of your fingers.
  8. Make 5 to 6 such ball os approx 1 inch diameter, put into the bowl with toasted nuts/ cocoa and shake to coat all over. Transfer to the tray. Repeat for rest of the ganache.
  9. Freeze truffles for an hour until set.

Usually the ganache is prepared by pouring the cream over chocolate – I din’t want to use two vessels. Working with chocolate can get very messy if it isn’t properly set and you’re in a great deal of hurry to finish off making the truffles. Use as little skin surface a possible to shape and wipe hands with a wet towel so that this acts as a lubricant to prevent chocolate from sticking. 1/2 cup of coconut milk can be substituted with 1/2 cup of fresh cream or 1/4 cup of either and 1/4 cup of liquer. Note the recipe will no longerbe vegan if one uses fresh cream.

These truffles were sinfully delicious and had not a hint of coconut taste.

I will be experimenting with a lot more truffles – so besides the brownies that I keep making and posting, you can also expect to see more truffles for all of you to drool over. :)

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Today it is Kovil Thiru Karthigai and Thiru Annamalai Deepam. This festival is celebrated mainly in TamizNadu. The festival is celebrated on Poornima ( full moonday) of the tamizh month Karthigai. Oil lamps of all shapes and sizes are lit all over the house and the front yard in the evening.

Kuthu Vilakku5

Our front yard decorated with lamps.

The neivedyam is usually pori urundai and appam. Orthodox Iyengars make pori (puffed rice) at home using paddy. Dry roasting paddy on a heavy pan allows it to puff and pori is made. I always make groundnut urundai for prasaadam as pori was never easily available in the places I have lived.

Pori urundai or Kadalai urundai the jaggery syrup is very important. Everything becomes easy with practice. So try preparing these traditional sweets with out fear.

PB240713

Kadalai urundai for neivedyam

Ingredients

  • Groundnut – 4 cups
  • Jaggery – 3 cups
  • Cadamom – 6 nos

Method

  1. Dry roast the groundnut in MW or on a heavy bottomed pan, till it gives out a nice aroma.
  2. Rub the groundnuts well with your palm to remove the skin. Remove the skin completely.
  3. In a heavy bottomed pan, grate the jaggery, add 1/2 cup water and boil on a medium flame.
  4. Boil till the syrup reaches double thread consistency. To check thi, pour a spooful of syrup into a cup of cold water. If it forms a ball the syrup is ready.
  5. Remove the syrup from the stove. Mix the groundnut with the syrup. Allow to cool for around 10 minutes.
  6. Shape into balls using a little rice flour , so that the syrup does not stick to your hands.

Incidentally this is my entry to Zlamushkas Spoon full of Christmas.

spoonful.jpg

PB240710

Kadalai Urundai forLakshmi and Satish! The hand made chinasilk roses adorned lakshmi’s dress when she was an young girl! :)

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Impaired – Disabled -Differently abled – Special – Abnormal – Challenged

We’ve all heard these words – together or individually – at some point of time or the other. For now we shall skip dwelling into the political correctness (or incorrectness) of these terms, and get straight to the point.

Each of these are words that lose their weight once we realize we are all just people who are differently made – words that hold no prejudice, no barrier once there is no “us” and “them”.

Bhawna is an all inclusive theatre group of children that seeks to erase the line between the so called “special” and “mainstream” spaces. We create unique public spaces without the dividing lines for children to interact and have a whole of fun. We seek to do this to break the myth of “us” vs “them”.

Bhawna is an initiative of the State Pressure Group for Disability in Tamil Nadu – and yours truly is a part of Bhawna. An ex colleague of mine, Dr. Lakshmi Sundar, sits on the above mentioned pressure group – and since we love doing mad things together we decided that this World Disability Day we’ll kick start the effort with a production of The Selfish Giant adapted from a fairy tale of the same name written by Oscar Wilde.

We have had tons of fun over the last month putting this together. And we’ve seen that even a little effort can produce the most magical moments – from watching groovy steps of a tiny boy who usually doesn’t sit still to listening to the gyaan of a bespectacled small girl, “I used to think that such children would be different. But after seeing them at practice, I think there is no difference Amma. They are also kids like me.”

This year’s production had 25 kids under the age of 11, one adult (a parent) and one teenager (I dare not say kid) performing. Children have come from various schools across Chennai including some which are commonly identified as special schools. Vidyasagar, formely Spastics Society of India, has extended their hospitality with place and snacks for rehearsals. Shireen, Jeeva, Teresa, Sudha are teachers from Vidyasagar who’ve helped us tons during rehearsals. The choreography has been done by Kokila, Balaji and Hari from the Russian Cultural Center, the sound and lights by Prithvi and sets by Kannan.

The curtain raises on December 1st, 7:00 pm at CLRI Auditorium, Opposite IIT, Adyar, Chennai.

Note: World Disability Day is on the 3rd of December each year, but a show on Saturday makes more sense than one on Monday.

Donor passes are available for Rs. 200 per person. Those interested may contact me (Lakshmi) at 44.45500035 or laksh.narasimhan@gmail.com. Donations or help of any sort towards Bhawna’s activities are most welcome. For the current production we’re still raising funds specifically for costumes for children who can’t afford them. Those interested in sponsoring may contact me at laksh.narasimhan@gmail.com

To all my fellow food bloggers: I haven’t been able to catch up on most of your posts. I’ll be back soon in action with pics and perhaps a video of the show.

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Bharathy, of the funny comments in purely colloquial tamizh fame, sent along a box of stuff I love to munch on most as a part of the Arusuvai Friendship Chain – dry fruits. :)

Arusuvai is a chain where one passes on a surprise ingredient to friends who need to cook something with the ingredient and continue the chain by passing on “surprise ingredients” to more friends. Read the whole story here.

arusuvai_white.gif

I love dry fruits – I can declare my undying love for them at any place, any time. Each day has to either start or end with a small helping of nuts or I feel like there’s a screw missing. So you can my reaction when I opened the package Bharathy sent along to see this.

Image434

I took the liberty of assuming that only Almonds and Raisins were the “surprise ingredients” (The rest were eaten straight out of the box) and prepared Badam Halwa.

My Mama and Manni had gifted me a set of two beautiful Corelware bowls which I inaugurated with two of my favourite desserts – Badam Halwa and Fudgy Brownie.

Badam Halwa
Badam Halwa

Fudgy Brownies
Fudgy Brownie Cake

Badam Halwa
Ingredients

  • Badam/ Almonds – 1 cup
  • Cashew – 1 cup
  • Sugar – 1 cup *
  • Cardamom – 4 nos
  • Ghee – 1 tablespoon
  • Dry grapes – 1 tablespoon

Method

  1. Soak the Badam/ Almonds and Cashew in hot water. Peel the skin of Badam. After 1/2 an hour grind to a fine paste.
  2. Take the ground paste in a MW safe bowl, add sugar, cardamom powder and 2 teaspoon ghee.
  3. Mix well and MW high for 6 to 8 minute, stirring twice in between.
  4. Fry the dry grapes in 1 teaspoon ghee and decorate the halwa.

*You can increase the quantity of sugar as per your taste.

I am passing on surprise ingredients to Nags at For the cook in me and Raaga at The Singing Chef.

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Asha has tagged me to display my fridge. A few points before we an look at the much awaited exhibit:

  1. I din’t clean it before the snap. Period. This is how it looks on a regular day.
  2. I don’t think its “very clean” or organized – its an average regular fridge that I am very happy with.
  3. I thank god that there’s only a “Show me your fridge” meme, and not a “Show me your wardrobe” or “Show me the table near your wardrobe” meme. I might need to pay a to and fro ticket for a certain somebody from Bangalore if I ever needed to display my wardrobe.
  4. I never ever thought I’d combine two posts in one like this :O . I blame this squarely on the Asha effect.

Freezer
My Freezer with Coconuts that are yet to be grated. In a bout of laziness I just put them in boxes. Chill tray with Milk.

Main Racks
Main Racks – Top – Leftovers, Middle – Milk, Pickles, Preserves and hidden blocks of Chocolate, Bottom – The indispensable store of Curds, Roti Dough, Badam Halwa. Usually Dosa Batter or other wet batters also occupy this shelf.

Vegetable Tray
Vegetable Rack. Tomatoes and Coriander are always stored separately. Supply of Avakkai from Bangalore

Side Racks
Side Racks – Syrups, Pickles, Ghee, Honey, Flavourings, Yeast (hopefully still alive), Cheese, Ginger, Green Chilly

And now I tag:

Siri of Siri’s Corner

Bharathy of Spicy Chilly

Srivalli of Cooking for all seasons

…to display their fridge

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