Sunday, August 30, 2009

For Onam

I usually post the recipes of the Onam feast after the fact, but I thought that it would be helpful if I give the links of the dishes I prepared earlier.

For people who do not know, Thiruvonam falls on September 2nd this year. I will be making a couple of new dishes which I will post later.

Happy Onam Everyone......

Beetroot Pachadi

Maambazham (Ripe mango) curry


Vendakka khichdi

Recipe for the simplest 'Parippum neyyum'.

This is simple thur dal cooked well. Thur dal should be pressure cooked to 4 whistles with a pinch of turmeric. While the dal is still hot, add 1 tsp ghee to 1 cup of dal and salt to taste. This is the very first thing that is served on hot rice. In different parts of Kerala, this item maybe a more elaborate preparation. But this simple recipe is really very tasty...try it ...


Friday, August 28, 2009

Lost.... and found !!!

I lost the diamond on my ring yesterday... and I was really upset... thankfully, my maid found it today morning while sweeping....

When I was 10 years old, my dad had bought me a pearl ring. It was a fairly large pearl, round....almost perfect..and set in a gold ring. It looked like a perfect globe, but when I used to rub it against my lips, a slight dimple was noticeable... I loved that pearl and used to admire it fairly often...and wear it all the time..

And then was exam time... I was a bit busy to pay attention, and one day when I looked at my finger, the pearl had fallen out ...I have no idea what I wrote for my exams that day.. all I was thinking about was where and when i'd lost that pearl ... I looked for it everywhere, got a scolding from grandma for being late .. when I told her the reason, she looked at the ring and said..'oh.. it was just the stone ... at least you did not lose the gold..' she took the ring from me and tied it on the tip of her mundu for safe keeping...

I never got that pearl and after that for the next 20 years I never bought a ring set with anything valuable... until this diamond that my husband bought for our 8th Anniversary.. it was just a bit of a diamond, but I loved this ring too..

When I lost the diamond, all I could think of was that I was not meant to wear anything that pretty on my fingers.. it is not that I have not lost valuables before.. I have lost more than my share of gold earrings.. and once I almost lost a huge gold butterfly pendant while bathing at the dad's friend caught it as it was floating towards the sea bed..but some things mean more to you than others and it has nothing to do with their monetary just is...

That pearl was very very special to me.. I do not remember if my dad gifted it on a birthday or something like that..but I have never seen another pearl that I liked so much... For the few hours I lost the diamond, I was upset about the current loss as well as that which happened more than a couple of decades ago.. I love this very first diamond I got and rejoiced when I got it back.....but... I still mourn the loss of my lovely pearl !!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Shiva Thandav - water colour and acrylic

Ever since I saw this picture of Shiva, I have been wanting to paint Shiva in his 'Thandava' pose. However, though I do get inspired from other works of art, I am adamant about my work being as different from the inspiration piece as can be... I can safely say that the end result is a very different thing altogether !!!

A reason why my painting turned so colourful is because I happened to catch a documentary about the lovely temple art of Kerala.. it was almost a lost art, but is slowly experiencing a revival... the very colourful images remained in my mind.. so the painting finally looks nothing like either type of work... But I am happy about how this has turned out..... and frankly, this is one of the more colourful of my paintings..

I would like your opinion too....!!

I did use a lot of brown while painting this picture....and it seems when her teacher was asking all the kids about their favourite colours, my daughter answered brown. The teacher told me that was quite an unusual choice for a child of three... she was very impressed though.... so when I asked my daughter about her choice, she told me "brown is used a lot for painting and it is also mamma's and my (skin) colour.. so Ichu likes 'baraoun' a lot" ...!!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sukhiyan - batter fried, sweet green gram balls

Sukhiyan is a very popular tea-time snack of Kerala. It had been a while since I had had them, and I had never made them before. Green gram, which is used for the stuffing is something that I do make on a regular basis.. so last time I made the cherupayar (green gram) mezhukkupiratti, I cooked the green gram without adding any turmeric or chilli powder,with just a pinch of salt and saved half for the sukhiyans.

Cooked green gram - 1 and 1/2 cups
Jaggery (powdered)- 1/4 cup (add more if you wish)
Ghee - 1 tsp
water - 1 tbsp
Grated coconut - 1/2 cup
Cardamom powder - 1 tsp

In a thick bottom pan, add the water, when it is hot, add the jaggery and melt it, once it boils, add the ghee and then the cooked green gram. when the jaggery is well-coated on the green gram, add the grated coconut and finally, the cardamom powder.

Wait a while till the mixture cools down. Now roll it into lemon-sized balls.

Make a dipping batter with 1 cup maida (plain flour)and water. the consistency should be just thick enough to coat, but not runny. (Mine was a bit thin)

In a wok, heat about 2 inches of oil, and when the oil is hot, coat each of the balls in batter and fry. When the coating is golden brown, they are done. Serve hot.

As you can see from my picture, the batter needs to be a bit thick and coat the stuffing well. Otherwise, when you fry, the batter becomes translucent and the filling is visible. But it tasted really good :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Another Athachamayam - missed !

Time for nostalgia again...It was 'Atham', the first day of the 10 days of Onam celebrations yesterday. Incidentally, it was also Vinayaka Chaturthi..a very auspicious day in many ways.

The best things about Onam in any Keralite household, is that everyone gets up, clean up, children rush out to pluck flowers.... though now-a-days, it is sad that there are not many flowers to be plucked off trees or bushes, rather as preplanned, the flower vendors bring them to our homes... and most neighborhoods have a Pookkalam (flower arranegment)competition.

For people in our place, Thripunithura, there is the added bonus of Athachamayam, a large procession of King maveli, dancing girls, various Theyyams, school bands, kathakali, tableaus on a lot of floats.. it is a sight to behold, and that I have sadly been missing for many-a-year...

I have a lot of memories of the many Athachamayams I did get to see, especially in the company of my two grandfathers. The whole streets would have many stalls with everything from fruits to clothes to household items and we never came home without our grandfathers buying enough to fill our hands.. I especially loved the sugarcanes that were available during this time. I even remember one year when I could not go to see the processions because of having measles, but my mom's second brother who had come home for his annual leave bought me a big box of beautifully life-like birds made of clay. They did not last very long with my very naughty brother around, and I never found those birds again... but my delight and colourful memories will remain with me always..

So for all of you, an Onam pookkalam, and a couple of snaps of Athachamayam, all browsed from the internet....!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Kolams - 1

I have always admired the beautiful Kolams or designs made out of rice flour that our brahmin neighbors used to adorn their entrances. We had a neighbor called Manniamma, who used to put kolams for our homes during festival season and she used to do it so fast, and the designs so intricate, that it was never easy to figure out how she did them.

I remember once, whenI was about 10, she had left over a bit of the kolam powder at our home, and I tried my hand at drawing kolams... the result was a little less skin on three fingers of my right hand.. I just got carried away and the powder did not freely flow through my fingers and I rubbed my fingertips off on the concrete ...!!

Now I have a very sweet neighbour who was all too willing to show me some designs. I have been practising with just pencil on paper, since even the smallest designs are a bit intricate and really beautiful. Even if the modern colourful rangolis require a lot of skill and are really amazing, I have a weakness for the traditional kolams done in rice powder especially because they represent the presence of Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and also the sentiment of providing food for the ants, birds etc....

The starting point of the above kolam is just 16 dots. 4 by 4, equidistant from each other. This was just my first effort and does not look quite right.

The right way to draw the kolam is given here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


? ? ? ? ? ?

There are many many things that I find fairly puzzling in daily living, some of them I find answers to, a few others I ignore as not worth pondering about, and some make sense in due course... but there are still others that do not come under any of the above-mentioned criterion... I guess these will remain a mystery to me, but it just leaves me wondering......WHY?

There is this lady I meet most days because her daughter also attends the same playschool. Almost from the first day I met her, she has been raving about the school to which she wanted to enroll her child when it was time... the advantages she enumerated were numerous..proven track record, good faculty, great facilities... short distance from home... etc. etc....

Recently, the school had announced that it was accepting applications for the next academic year..when I met her, the lady was excited and told me her husband had gotten the admission forms for the school.. a week later, after the deadline was announced, I asked her if she had submitted the papers.. since she was in a hurry, all I got out of her was that she was not sending her daughter there..... !!!

So next time we met, I asked her if the school was having some problems, since she suddenly changed her decision.. she said she decided to send her daughter to another branch of the same school which was some distance from where we stay...

The reason.....???? ....... someone she knew, got an admission as soon as they submitted the interviews or tests...... so why send her daughter to a school which gives admissions away.. doesn't matter if everything else is now her child who won't even be 4 years old will have to travel an hour to and fro,instead of 1o minutes, just so that momma can have her sense of achievement !!!

Doesn't make any sense to me ....!!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pindi chammandi

This chammandi or chutney is made with vaazha pindi, that is the inner core of a banana tree.

The banana tree is one of the most versatile plants known to Keralites, second only to the beloved Coconut palms. We use the leaves in lieu of plates, to bake fish, make Adas(a sweet preparation), as disposable lunch packs ....

The raw bananas are ingredients in many delicious preparations like aviyal, kaalan, different mezhukku puratties and the banana chips are famous all over the world.
We also use the purple flowers to make many dishes. The tiny flowers nestled in between the purple petals yield lovely drops of nectar.

Ripe golden bananas are used to make amazing things like pazham pori, unniyappam, pradhamans etc and we all love them on anything from topping on cereals to banana splits..

And finally, even when a banana tree is cut down to make room for the young ones, they yield the smooth, ivory-like cores called 'pindi'. I have had pindi in many forms.. and though it is a bit tedious to clean, it is worth the effort. This chutney is a tasty addition to the numerous recipes we already have, and was passed on to me by Jayachitta, my dad's youngest sister, who is a superb cook.

Pindi - a piece about 6 -8 inches
Cut into rounds,about 1/2 cm thick, clean each side and remove the fibers, keep aside three pieces and chop up the rest.

Boil the three round pieces and keep aside to cool.

Grated coconut - 1/2 cup
Urad dal - 1 tbs (dry roast)
Dried red chillies - 2 to 3
Curry leaves - 2 stalks
Green chillies - 2
Ginger - a very small piece (about 1 cm cube)
Tamarind - a small piece
Salt to taste

In a blender, add all the ingredients, including the pindi and grind till the chutney is half-way between coarse and fine . Mix well till the taste is even. Very tasty side-dish for gruel or kanji.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My daughter's artistic endeavors...

For her birthday, we took our daughter to The Colour factory . She selected an Alladin's lamp and they provided the ceramic colours... she had a great time painting.. And we got back the fired and glossy 'lamp' after a week. She did almost all of it herself.. the only parts she missed were at the rim and a bit near the handle.. she was really proud of her work...

The last month, we picked up a painting kit for our daughter... the normal non-toxic paint cakes embedded in a plastic tray. So most evenings, it has been a demand for her colours and she would sit for atleast an hour and more, 'pienthing'....

Some times, I was asked to draw a picture for her to 'pienth', but it did not seem to matter after a while... her creativity really overflowed the boundaries......!!!

Her teachers also told me that she was very enthusiastic about colouring, but she did not like it when she was guided to stay within the lines.. at this age, all that matters to us is that she enjoys the activity...

This one was another gift for her birthday - a glass-painting kit for kids. She was concentrating on the squirrel alone, and layering one colour on top of another !!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Banana and Chickoo milkshake

This is one of my favourite milkshakes. I love the combination of Banana and Chikoo(Sapota). My brother and I used to go to a place in Ernakulam where they served the best milk shakes in the area.. their Sharja shakes were amazing, but in those days I could barely finish half of those really thick shakes served in huge beer mugs. And when I make milkshakes at home, I prefer them to be a little less thick.

The quantity given is approximate and you may increase or decrease any to make them according to your taste.

Banana - 1 (peeled and cut into quarters)
Chickoos - 5 to 6 (Cut in half, deseed and scoop the flesh out with a spoon)
Sugar - 1 tbsp (I used a little less)

In a blender, add the fruits and sugar and pulse 3 times. Now add.

Ice cubes - 4 to 5
Milk - 1 and 1/2 glasses (Boil the milk and refrigerate)

Blend well till the drink is smooth.

If you feel like it, add a scoop of Vanilla ice cream with the milk. Gives it a creamier texture. Serve immediately.