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Nagapattinam is a small port town in the east coast of Tamil Nadu. It hit the headlines three years back as one of the places most affected by Tsunami. My story also has some connection with the destruction caused by the sea waters.

Soundaraja Perumal Kovil in Nagapattinam is one of the 108 divya desams of the Vaishnavites. Almost all temple towns have the temple at the center and the houses built in rows around the temple to form Veedhi or streets. Our ancestors lived in the street which is on the right hand side of the Soundaraja perumal koil. Adjacent to their home is the Krishnar koil. They owned almost an entire village by name Perungkadamanoor, a few kilometers away from Nagapattinam.Very affluent, some of them also took up employment as officers in the port as a hobby. They had taken interest in a small temple built for Lord Krishna by some Raja in 14 th century. They spent all their time and energy to revive the glory of this temple. Nithya pujas (Daily pujas) were performed elaborately by the men of the household as all of them were highly qualified in vedas to be priests.

But then this peaceful life came to an abrupt end when all their property was destroyed by the sea ingress in 1875. They shifted to Srirangam town to built a new life leaving behind the large house for the temple trust. They literally stuggled to build back their fortune. This large family always stayed together, but unfortunately very few descendants are left! What surprises me most is why none of the later generations ever feel like visiting the temple so lovingly taken care of by their fathers and grandfathers!! We either visited Tirupathi or Uppali appan koil in Kumbakonam during special occasions. Srirangam being the 1st of the 108 divya desams and also called Boolooga Vaigundam (manifestation of LordVishnu’s abode on earth) , may be there was no urge to visit other places. I grew up hearing stories of our ancestors from my parents and grandma. For long, I too did not develop any interest to visit the Krishnar koil in Nagapattinam. Some of my uncles and aunts who visited Nagai Soundaraja Perumal Kovil as a part of their piligrimage, could never get a darshan of Lord Krishna as the temple was closed everyday around 10 am after a simple puja! The temple did not have enough funds for elaborate pujas and maintenance after our ancestors left the place.

Around 6 years back I started practicing meditations. One day while I was meditating I got a glimpse of an image of Lord Krishna holding a cup of butter in one hand dancing on Kalinga Nagar, which I had never seen any where! By some strange intution I knew that it was of the image of Lord Krishna in the Temple at Nagapattinam. My husband says may be the image was stored in a gene I inherited from my ancestors! I tried convincing my father to visit the temple but did not succeed as he felt he was very weak to travel. My urge to visit the temple grew but I definitely wanted to take along some of our family members. When I spoke to my sister in law Padma, she decided that we should visit the temple. We decided to take along my nephew on his birthday to the temple. Suddenly it seemed like the lord was pleased by our devotion, with the help of my aunt Komala, we could organize everything for the visit coordinating with the people taking care of the temple and arranging for special pujas! It so happened that we visited on the first purattasi sanikizhamai, an auspicious day to have a darshan of the Lord! I found the same image of Lord Krishna doing the Kalinga Narthanam in this temple! Now a few members of our family have decided to do their best to bring back the temple to its original glory.

One of the best loved tales on Krishna’s childhood involves his defeat of the serpent Kalingan whose poisonous presence on the river Yamuna terrorized villages on the banks. Little Krishna’s dance on the five headed serpent Kalingan hood is a popular piece in almost all classical dance forms. The image of Krishna at the Krishnar Kovil at Nagapattinam is of Krishna doing the Kalinga Narthanam or dance on the serpent Kalingan’s head.

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Krishnar Temple entrance, Nagapattinam

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Vimanam over Sanctum Santorium, right above the place where the idol of Krishnar is placed
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Images of Twelve Azhwars (Vaishnavatite saints) In the sanctum sanctorium of Lord Krishna

There were many photos of Krishna’s childhood tales in the Temple Praharams(premises)

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Kalinga Narthanam

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The uthsava murthy of Lord Krishna at the temple

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Kolam or rangoli drawn by devotees at Soundaraja Perumal Kovil

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Dwarapaalakas at Soundaraja Perumal Kovil

We also visited the Soundaraja Perumal kovil and Desikar Kovil in Nagai. On the same evening we visited Ranganatha Perumal Kovil in Srirangam where my aunt* and uncle* settled down with their family, after retirement.

*Father’s sister and father’s brother.

Raja Gopuram at the entrance of the Srirangam Town built around the temple.

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Gopuram at Srirangam Kovil entrance

On Saturday and Sunday when we visited the temples our breakfast, lunch and dinner was the prasaadams offered at these temples. The venn pongal sarkairai or kalkandu pongal, puliyodarai (tamarind rice) and dhidyoannam(curd rice) tasted heavenly!

A replica of the Image of Lord Krishna in Nagai. We bought this for the puja to be performed at home.

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In bangalore tomato is available throughout the year. The only problem is , the price fluctuates from Rs.5 per kg to Rs.40 per kg with in a span of three months! I buy a few kilos when it is cheap and make this paste. The paste can be stored in the freezer for more than three months, in Tupperware containers. I am giving the timings for 1 kg tomato.
Fresh Tomato

Fresh tomatoes

Method

  1. Wash the tomatoes and drain the water.
  2. In a Microwave safe container, MW at 600 watts covered for 10 minutes.
  3. Allow to cool for a few minutes and grind to a smooth paste. Pass through a strainer if required and grind again.
  4. Transfer the pulp to the same MW container and MW at 600 watts for 1/2 hour stirring once in 5 minutes.
  5. Pour this into a freezer container and allow to cool. Keep in the freezer and use as you like.
  6. Take out the pulp from the freezer 15 minutes before use. It is easy to scoop out with an ice cream scoop.

This is my entry for Srivalli’s basic MW cooking event.

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After cooking in MW for 10 minutes
After keeping for 10 mins in microwave

Tomato Paste

Storing in freezer container

You can use the pulp for Preparing

  1. Tomato thokku.
  2. All gravies for which you need tomato paste.
  3. Chutney
  4. Rasam
  5. Soup
  6. Tomato rice

Hope all of you find this preparation useful.

I have published a post on Microwave cooking tips almost 2 months back. That is my second entry for Srivallis event.

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Ragi Rotti is another unleavened bread made in Karnataka. For previous ragi recipes from Karnataka refer to Ragi Mudde and Ragi Dosa.

Ragi Rotti
Ragi Rotti with Uchellu Podi

Ingredients

  • Ragi flour – 2 cups
  • Fresh Sabakki Soppu (Dill) or Fresh Coriander – 1/2 cup (finely chopped)
  • Onions – 1/2 cup (finely chopped)
  • Water
  • Green chilly – 2 finely chopped (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil

Method

  1. Mix all ingredients except the Oil and knead into a smooth soft dough. The dough is a softer than Wheat flour Roti dough. Divide the dough into 2 inch diameter balls and set aside.
  2. Spread a plastic sheet/ banana leaf on a smooth surface. Grease with a drop of oil. Take a ball of the dough and pat into a round pancake of 6 inch diameter. Use a little oil to aid in patting the roti.
  3. Transfer to a skillet and cook both sides over a medium flame until the roti turns brown in colour.
  4. Repeat for the remaining dough.

Serve hot with Uchellu Podi, Green Tomato Chutney, Vethal Kozhambu or Gojju.

Asha, Ragi Rotti for RCI Karnataka.

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Maddur is a small town on the way to Mysore from Bangalore. Most passengers travelling by train or bus, will buy the vade sold here. I like the Maddur vade sold at MTR and Woodys in Karnataka.

I have the habit of talking to chefs at hotels and marriages to learn some useful tips. I got this recipe from one of the chefs when I attended a marriage.This is my next entry for RCI karnataka,hosted by Asha of foodieshope

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Maddur vade

Ingredients

  • Rice flour – 1/2 cup
  • Rava – 1/2 cup
  • Maida – 1/2 cup
  • Salt to taste
  • Ghee 2 teaspoons
  • Hing – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Chilli powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Finely chopped curry leaves and coriander leaves – 2 tablespoons
  • Finely chopped Onion – 1/2 cup
  • Oil – 1 and 1/2 cup for frying

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients except oil in a bowl. Add enough water and mix to a stiff dough.
  2. Heat oil in a kadai on a medium flame.
  3. Divide the dough into 20 ball. flatten the balls on your palm to form thin circles (around 1/8 cm thickness)
  4. Check the temperature of oil by dropping a small piece of dough into the oil.If it rises immediately the oil is ready for frying
  5. Fry the vades in medium to low fire around 4 at a time.
  6. You can flatten all the vades and keep them on a plate before you start frying.
  7. Serve with sauce or coconut chutney. It can be stored for 3 days.

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Having lived in Hyderabad for 12 years, my mother mastered all the andhra style pickles. Needless to say, I learnt the exact methods of Avakkai, tomato thokku, Inji thokku, mahai, gonkura pachadi etc from her.
I am posting two methods for the thokku. One the original long method and one simplified version for busy people. Both are tried and tested many times over. Follow the version that suits you.
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Ingredients

  • Tomato- 1 kg
  • Tamarind – 1 orange sized ball
  • Salt – 3 table spoons
  • Red chilli powder – 1 cup
  • Sesame oil – 1 cup
  • Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon.

Method
Original Andhra Style

  1. Wash and wipe the tomatoes dry. Cut each into 2 pieces and mix with salt in a large container. leave for 1 day.
  2. The next day, take out only the tomatoes on a plate, leaving the water behind.
  3. In this salt water soak the tamarind. Place the tomato plate and the container with soaked tamarind in the sun for two days.
  4. Grind the tomatoes and the tamarind to a smooth paste. Mix the red chilli powder and hing to this paste.
  5. Heat oil in a kadai on a medium flame.Add mustard seeds.
  6. When the mustard seeds crackle add the paste carefully and mix well.
  7. Cook on a low flame covering partially with a lid to avoid the spillage, stirring occasionally.
  8. This may take around 15 minutes. Once the thokku is thick and the oil float, take off the flame and leave to cool.
  9. Store in air tight containers in a fridge.

Easy method

  1. Wash and place the tomatoes in a microwave safe container.
  2. MW at 600 watts for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.
  3. Grind to a smooth paste and return to the MW container.
  4. MW at 600watts for 1/2 hour stirring once in 5 minutes.
  5. Store this paste in a freezer container and allow to freeze.
  6. You can prepare the thokku the day you want.You can also use this paste for other dishes when tomato is not available.
  7. Soak tamarind in 1/2 cup hot water. grind to a smooth paste.
  8. Mix salt, hing and red chilli powder to the tamarind paste.
  9. Thaw the tomato paste and mix with tamarind paste.
  10. Heat oil in a kadai, on a low flame, add mustard seeds.
  11. When they crackle add the paste and mix well.
  12. Continue following steps 7, 8 and 9 of the original method.

Shown below is the picture of pulikaichal, recipe already posted. Click here for the recipe.

Pulikaichal

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The award season in the Food Blogosphere is not ending any time soon!!! My friend Archana of luv2eathate2cook has presented me with these awards! Thanks Archu! She says we rock! With all the lovely comments from all my blogger friends, we must definitely rock! 😀

And then the Schmoozer award! All of you can read great interpretations of this award in Coffee’s Spice cafe. After her detailed description, I dare not say a word :D.

Well, I for one have just arrived on the internet and have just picked up some skills on this difficult box called computer that’s intelligent but refuses to listen – there is so much more Schmoozing to do!!! And Madhavi thinks the ‘Yum’ girls rock! Thanks Madhavi!

Awards may not be new to me since I have won several awards as one of the top managers of Tupperware in India for the past 6 years. In fact there is no place left in my show case.

But these awards mean a lot to me as I have earned the love and best wishes of my blogger friends who never fail to appreciate our efforts.

These past two months have been a huge learning curve in terms of a quite a few things in the virtual world from linking to widgets (I still think it will sound better as a snack’s name). I think the most difficult one to conquer has been the obnoxiously warped and jumbled alphabets that one needs to pass before publishing a comment on blogger. It used to take me ten minutes to write a simple comment – I am a sorry but I like technology to work for me not vice versa!!! Bee has elaborated more on this pain here.

Thankfully my typing speed has improved so much that I can finally type recipes faster than I cook!!! Today I am happy that I have answered all the comments on our blog and blogrolled all fellow bloggers who visited me. I just love to read all the lovely recipes posted in these blogs.

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My entry for Srivalli’s Microwave Easy Cooking Series

The Maharani of Sweets – Theratti Paal

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Recipe has been posted earlier here.

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