Friday, April 24, 2009

Just my kind of recipe - S.I.M.P.L.E & G.O.O.D

Sometimes, things just are not in the mood to cook, but you have to you throw in a few things that you have on hand and come up with something that tastes really good. This is something that came out of just such a situation. The prep work required is don't even have to chop onions. Doesn't get simpler than that, does it??? There are no measurements 'coz I just used up whatever I had on hand.

Here's what I did:
Boil some potatoes, peel them and dice them.
Grind together some tomatoes, ginger, garlic and green chillies.
Heat some oil. Add some jeera to it and then the ground paste. Boil for a few minutes until the raw smell goes away, add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt and a little bit of sugar. Stir well, add some water if needed and then add in the diced potatoes and heat for a minute or two.
There....that's're done.
Didn't I tell you it was simple???

Monday, April 20, 2009

Why I hate Government offices

  • Unbearably queues. It's almost as if there's a queue of people who are waiting to get into queue.
  • Several hot, sweaty bodies crammed into an unbearably hot place......People could make a killing by marketing deodorants in these places.
  • Rude officers - Now, this is a big one with me. I think that if you are in a position of power, you should not abuse it. There was this loud-voice "gentle"man at the office today who kept yelling at people and making fun of them for the most ridiculous things. Most of the people who were there were young college kids who really didn't say anything back. I was almost hoping he'd say something to me, just so I could ask him to shut up. No such luck, though....
  • Lack of clear instructions and basic facilities. When someone is trying to test your eyesight and they point in the general direction of a door and ask you to read, you tend to look for something that's supposed to test your vision, right??? Well, not if you go into a govt. office. You just look carefully to see if anyone has scribbled anything on the door....maybe if you are lucky enough, the officer would have pointed to the door that has a tiny handwritten sign above it that says "Record Verification" or something similar. Oh....and don't even think of asking what you should be reading......just follow the's fine even if you read something that's written on the T-shirt of someone that's standing in that area.
  • You go in for an online test....stand in the queue for more than three hours.....and then find that none of the computers are working. What do you do??? Come back home and rant on your blog, of course.....

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Vishu memories

Vishu is a festival celebrated by the people of Kerala during the first day of the Malayalam month Medam. Contrary to what most people think, this is not the Malyali New Year 'coz the Malayalam calendar begins in the month of Chingam.
To me, Vishu is an incredibly beautiful festival which is made even more beautiful by the memories that I've carried with me since childhood.
The vishukkani is something that is set up in the puja room on the previous night. The colour yellow plays a very important role in the kani. Fruits and vegetables that are usually abundant in this season are used. A brass tray or an uruli is placed on a kolam in front of Krishna's picture. Ripe mangoes, kani vellari (a kind of golden orange coloured cucumber), ripe bananas, and jackfruit are placed in it. In addition to these, I added some non-traditional fruits and veggies like apple, orange and padavalanga (snake gourd) to my vishukkani.Rice and uncooked parippu (dal) are also placed in front of the deity. A small silver cup is filled with coins (increasingly being replaced with notes) and placed in the kani as well. A large mirror is placed behind the arrangement so that the entire kani is reflected in it. Gold, usually in the form of a necklace or bangles is also part of the kani. The whole arrangement is then bordered by the beautiful vishu konna flowers (yellow flowers). In the morning, a lamp is lit, casting its golden glow on this simple, yet beautiful arrangement.
The predominant memory that I have of Vishu is that of being woken up at a really early hour and being led with my eyes closed, by my mother, to see the kani. The belief is that if you wake up seeing the kani, the rest of the year will be good for you.
Vishu kaineetam is an inseparable part of Vishu. The elders in the family give money (it used to be coins, but that has now been replaced by notes) to the younger ones. It was a good way to supplement pocket money, and I used to visit lots of relatives on Vishu just to receive kaineettam. Kaineettam is given not just to kids - any person can give kaineettam to someone who is younger than them.
No Indian festival is complete without food, and no mention of a festival in Kerala is complete without the traditional sadya. Check out my sadya pics here, and here. Sambar, rasam, thoran, pachadi, olan, koottu curry, avial, papadum, payasam and manga kari are usually made for the Vishu sadya.
Now, in our family of three, it is my turn to lead my daughter to the kani in the morning. We had fun setting up the kani together at night, with her wanting to eat all the fruits right then and there.
Here's wishing all those who are reading this a very happy and prosperous Vishu.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Karuveppila podi (curry leaves powder)

I love podis of all kinds. The reason is very simple....once they are made, they can be stored forever(well....maybe not forever, but you get the idea, don't u??) and whenever I feel lazy, we can always fall back on the podi...mix it with some rice and ghee and along with a thoran and papadum, that's a decent meal. The storekeeper at the place where I usually buy my veggies always gives me a lot (seriously people, it is a LOT) of curry leaves for free. Iam never able to use it all up before it starts turning black and loses its odour (there, that sounds better than rotten, doesn't it?). This time round, I decided to turn it into a podi (powder).

Here's what you need: Curry leaves - 3 cups (heaped)
Red chilli - 8
Black peppercorns - 1/4 tsp
Urad dal - a handful (roughly 1/4 cup)
Channa dal - a handful (roughly 1/4 cup)

Wash the curry leaves and spread on a newspaper or cloth until it is completely dry.
Heat the two dals in the microwave for 2 minutes or until the dal starts turning reddish. Heat the red chillies and pepper for 30 seconds and then the curry leaves for 2 minutes or until it loses all its moisture.
Add salt and grind to a powder.
This does not need to be refrigerated and stays good for quite a while.This is my entry to :
Lakshmi's Meals on Wheels
Easy's WYF Side dish event