Thursday, July 30, 2009

Refreshing vegetable and pasta soup

I got the recipe for this from my friend Arundati's blog and tweaked it according to my taste. The original recipe is here.

I have always loved soup. It is always associated with our trips to be with our parents, and one recurring memory ... whenever we used to sit down to eat our soup, our little sister had to narrate the story of her first soup-making adventure in kindergarten ..."...I cut the carrots, Tamara and Bushara cut onions , Vineeta and Vinay cut the ....'blah..blah' ..and then and so put all the vegetables and made soup and we all ate it with fried was VERY tasty ....!!

It has been atleast 20 years since she left KG behind, but we all got to hear the 'Soup story ' so often, that I am sure my mom, dad, brother and atleast my dad's elder brother who was in Doha and had to bear a lot of her chatter, must remember some of it..!!!

So for my version of this very refreshing soup,

Boil a cup of pasta and keep aside. My friend used noodles, but I prefer pasta. If you dont mind the extra starch, you can cook the pasta with the veggies.

Onion - 1/2 cup (cut into cubes)

Tomato - 2 medium sized (cubed)

Veggies - cut into bite sized portions - 1 cup (I used carrots, cauliflower, capsicum and a potato)

Butter - 1 tsp

Oil - 1/2 tsp

Crushed pepper - 1/2 tsp

Garlic - 3 cloves (crushed and finely chopped)

Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp

Soy sauce - 5 to 6 drops

Dried thyme and chives - 1/2 tsp each (you may add fresh mint, parsley etc...)

Salt to taste.

In a pressure cooker, heat oil, add the butter, saute the onions till golden, add all the veggies and the rest of the ingredients (even the pasta).Hold the salt.

Add enough water , pressure cook to one whistle . Once the steam is gone, open and add the precooked pasta , a squirt of lemon juice and the salt.

It was so good, that I have already made it twice. Some garlic bread with the soup would make a good meal.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pizza from scratch..

This has been on my list of things to do, for a long time now.... Ever since my friends and I made pizza with the guidance of a friend's mom in Coimbatore. With so many of us, we barely got to taste the pizza, but the experience was rather great...

I set about finding the ideal recipe..and realised that they were really very very varied, but there were some good videos on Youtube. So with fingers crossed, I decided to go with approximate measurements and try making a pizza from scratch...

For the base

Plain flour / maida - 2 and 1/2 cups + 1/2 cup (approx)
Salt - 1 tsp
Dry Yeast - 1 tsp (a little less will do)
Sugar - 1/2 tbsp
Warm water - 3/4 cup
Olive oil - 1 tbsp

Sift the flour 2 and 1/2 cups and salt in a large mixing bowl and keep aside. In the warm water add the yeast and sugar, stir and keep aside for 5 to 10 minutes to activate the yeast.

Make a well in the center of the flor and pour in the fermented yeast and the olive oil. Mix well with a spoon. Dust your hands with some flour, add in the remaining half a cup more of the flour 1 tbsp at a time and mix well till all the flour is absorbed and there is a smooth dough of ball, which no longer sticks to the bowl or your hands.

Pummel the dough well to release the air.

In another bowl, rub the inside with olive oil and leave the dough to rise for about 1 hour . Cover with a damp cloth and leave it in a warm place.
After the dough rises, beat the dough thoroughly to release the air. Leave it for another half hour or so and repeat the process.

Cut the ball of dough into 4 pieces to make 8 inch, thin crust pizzas . Refrigerate or freeze the dough at this point according to when you intend to use it.

The Tomato sauce

Oil - 1/2 tsp
Tomato - finely diced - 1
Tomato Puree - 200 gms (1 packet Kissan Puree)
Tomato ketchup - 1 tbsp
garlic - 2 cloves (grated)
Pepper corns - 5 to 6 (crushed)
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Oregano - 1 tsp
Thyme - 1/2 tsp
Sugar - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

Heat everything and let it bubble till it becomes a thick consistency. Switch off the stove and add 1/2 tsp of olive oil.


On the baking tray, flatten the dough with your hands or roll it with a pin to make the base.

Prick holes with a fork to release the air when it bakes.

Lightly coat it with olive oil so the tomato paste does not soak through and leave it soggy.

Layer it with tomato paste, grated cheese (I used Cheezza -mix of Cheddar and mozzarella), onions, green peppers, chicken sausages , olives and yet more cheese.

Preheat the oven , then bake it for 15 minutes at 180 degree C. Eat hot.

The snap taken is of the very first pizza. I took it a bit early, so the crust was not browned well. the next one came out better, but we were in a hurry to finish it off .. so did not think of the camera at all..

I will definitely make more in is a bit of work, but the taste is really wonderful . It did not any ketchup or added herbs. It was simply perfect ...for a first try !

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ready made saree for a Tiny Tot

This is an outfit I made for my daughter, and it resembles a saree.... somewhat... ! I bought the silver fabric with the idea of making a dress for her, but when I just draped it on her , I thought that it would look good as a saree.. All I had to do, was figure out how to make it look like a saree with a blouse, with minimum fuss.

Finally, instead of making a separate blouse, and then a skirt-like part to fix the drape, I decided it would be better to go for a one-piece dress.

I did not attach any sort of fastening since the material is very flimsy. But anyway, all it needs is a couple of pins.

The dress has a few pleats stitched in the front to duplicate that of a saree and also to give some room . Just pasted on a strip of lace flowers to cover the stitches. The 'sleeve' is a bit of silver-colour ribbon attached to the fabric to hold it in place.

The fabric comes half-way to her back on her right-side. The rest of the material goes round her left side . Fastened it behind her, in the exact middle of her shoulder blades, with a pin. The remaining fabric comes around the right side underneath her arm.

The rest of the material is stitched into ready made pleats and pinned just behind her back shoulder on the left side.

Pasted a few of the lace flowers on her pleats to give it finish.

She wore it for my sister's reception. The pictures were taken by a cousin while she was playing...and the photographer we hired took some amazing pictures, but so far my sister is having a tough time sending them to us........(hint....)

Accessories - Silver shoes with beads and a white and gun-metal bead necklace that my mom got for her.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Harry Potter and the half-blood prince

Although it is my personal opinion that the books were a thousand times better than the last two movies, I just cannot resist watching the Harry Potter movies. I did like the movie and the end does leave one hanging, ... just like in the book...

The movie was a totally new experience for us in an entirely different way ...We went with some friends, a group of six adults and two kids ( our dear daughter who is three,and her great friend Ray, who is about 8 months younger).

While Ray started slipping off his mom's lap every few minutes and trying to run up and down, our daughter had other things to do..

As soon as the movie started, she asked us to change the channels since the movie was scary.. then she saw that it was 'Aary Pother'(she has seen my Harry Potter books ) she settled down a bit.... and then,... the questions started.. who is the chechi (Hermione), where is he going? why is she sitting? why is he crying?Where is the apple?.. and for every shot without Harry in it, where is 'Aary Pother'?.. and best of all, while Ron and Lavender kiss, .... 'what are they doing Mama?' in a very very loud voice.

There were only a couple in the front row and we were sitting in the last. So there were not many people affected by the monologue supplied by our daughter...Thankfully, our friends who were seated besides us were entertained by all this (or atleast they told us so ..!!)

We were actually waiting for her to grow up a bit to go watch movies in the theatres.. but I think we have to wait a wee bit more..till she gets away from the habit of asking a dozen questions a minute ..maybe another ten years or so, I'd guess.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cleaning Karimeen (Pearl-spot fish)

I was asked to post on how to clean Karimeen.. this picture above was taken from a google search since I did not have a suitable one available.

Unlike other fish, do not clean away the scales alone. Instead, with a sharp knife, lightly take away a film of the skin on which the scales are stuck. If done slowly from the side of the tail end, you can easily slice off the skin and scales, leavling a shining white surface beneath.

With kitchen scissors, cut off below the gills in an uneven 'U' shape towards the eye portion. Cut off the portion till just below the eye. The gills, the mouth and eyes will all be removed.

Trim all the fins and the tail using the scissors.

Now make a slit lengthwise in the belly area to clean out the inside of the fish.

In a wide pan take some salt and rub both sides of the fish to clean out any scales left. Clean the inside also by rubbing with salt. Rinse in running water till the fish is very very clean.

Score on both sides or cut into pieces for cooking.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Art - Inspiration

A couple of absolutely beautiful things I clicked, though I did not do them justice. Pictures like these gladden my heart and inspire me to create ..

This is a calendar I found at my uncle's and I loved it... It is Shiva in his Natarja (dancing) pose. It looked absolutely 'divine ' and I just can't stop looking at it...

This fresco was on the ceiling of a restaurant we went to. Sadly, my camera was full and I could manage to click this one snap while my daughter sat on my lap ....

Saturday, July 11, 2009

My brother's wedding..

These are snaps of my brother's wedding . He married Manju on 21st June. It was an arranged marriage in typical Kerala style.

The mangalsutra (thaali) was tied in a temple and the rest of the ceremony was in a hall nearby.
Manju had asked me to dress her up too, so the make-up, hair and saree draping was done within 20 miutes because that was the only time we had between arriving at the hall and the fixed Muhrtham!! (auspicious time)...

I had two of my cousins to help me with dressing the bride.. and to get there in time, I had to wear my saree in two minutes !!

Not a very ideal scenario when u have a choice saree to wear, and no time to dress :(

The wedding went off well and the bride looked beautiful...(not just bias on my part, people did actually tell me this!)

And anyway you can see for yourself...!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

From my sister's wedding..2

I usually do not put any pictures of my family, but I really wanted to share these lovely pictures with you.

These are the snaps of my sister's wedding reception in Kerala. Since the wedding was conducted at the groom's place in Pune, we had the reception at a hall near our home.

My sister is wearing a lovely Lehanga and bedecked in the usual Kerala style with a lot of gold jewels. I did her make up Nikhil is wearing a Sherwani .

The first picture is of them lighting the auspicious lamp, the rest of the wicks were lit by both our parents and Nikhil's folks.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

One Lovely Blog Award

It is my daughter's birthday today.. she turns 3..!!! Yesterday we took her out to this ceramic workshop where she selected an 'Alladin's Lamp'. She coloured it herself and we will get it back next week.

We also bought some extra gifts .. she was so excited when my sister and brother both received gifts at their weddings, that they let her open most of the gifts just to see her dance around...

She was quite happy with the gifts, but she was even more excited to go to her playschool since the teacher had baked a cake for her... We were just asked to provide some sweets . I have also left a greeting card and a camera for some extra memories... hope they won't forget !!!

And to make the day even better, an award for me.. from Susan . Her amazing jewellery can be seen here... I hope you are having a good day too...
I am so thankful to have people remember me and my blog since I had taken a break of 3 weeks, and there are so many amazing blogs out there.

And to nominate seven wonderful people in my turn...

Kandice - Coloraddiction
Rita - Rkdsign88

Hope you all enjoy the award...

Monday, July 6, 2009

From my sister's wedding..

The saree shown above was worn for the first half of the day of the engagement ... since the border was so striking, the saree was worn in this fancy style to display it well. The green bangles are a must for the entire wedding ceremony.

My sister's husband comes from a Marathi brahmin family , and opposed to our Kerala Hindu marriages, which last just about ten minutes (if stretched!), their ceremonies have been shortened to two days...!!!

The day before was the engagement and the ring exchange and a puja is conducted, for which the couple change their costumes twice.

The next day where the actual marriage takes place, the ceremonies begin with the couple wearing the traditional garb and then changing their outfits another 4 times !,with the last ceremony being the 'Bidai' or taking leave of the bride to the groom's place.

My sister in the traditional nine-yard saree. She is wearing a choker and a chain,bangles, earrings and nose ring all studded with pearls for this function. The all-important 'mangalsutra' is tied during this time. But this is also when both bride and groom are dresses relatively simply.

It was a very exciting two days for all of us.. more photos to follow ... I forgot to take many snaps in all between all the dress changing and numerous rituals..

Friday, July 3, 2009

Missing Kerala

View from the bus ...notice the green either side of the road...on our way from Kochi to Kannur for my brother's wedding.

The view that my daughter and her cousin are seeing from the bus...

What we used to see every morning, just as we step out of our door...

It has not been a week yet and already I am missing home.. maybe it is because it will be one more day before my parents too leave for Doha or that I know my brother will be there another week, but it has been really a pain adjusting to the relentless heat and dryness here.. and it doesn't help any that my daughter is also missing everyone at home..

I miss all the greenary of Kerala...I just had some friends visiting us from Hyderabad, and they were astonished at how dry and dusty this part of the world looked as compared to what I am used to... and just for u, a few sights of Kerala, that I used to take for granted..