Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Khari Shankarpali

and a visit to Vidur Aswathpur and Bagepalli

In the last week of June, Our Friends Aswath Narayan and Parimala, invited us to join their clan on a trip to Gadidam Lakshmi Venkateshwara Temple at Bagepalli. They were going there to celebrate Garudotsav. All this was very new for me. We joined the group of around 42 people. The families were all related to each other in someway or other. Only 4 of us were friends of the families. They were very sweet to include us. It was the first time I was travelling with a Kanadiga family to perform a yearly ritual. It was very intriguing for me indeed just to think of it.

We started in the morning, stopping at the several locations to pick up the people joing this trip. The kids all excited and peals of laughter in the air. Greeting and teasing children and adults alike. Every one like true Indians were loaded with food and more food. After an hours journey we reached a dhaba and our bus pulled into the parking lot. The deserted dhaba all of a sudden sprung into activity only to realise all we need were tables and few chairs for the senior members in the group. They provided and watched while all the kanadiga's enjoyed food brought from home. If we had a way we would carry even pots and pans thats the way it is here. We took care not to litter the place and was happy no one not even the kids needed to be told. Infact it was the teenagers in the group who went around with a garbage bag to collect the waste from all 42 people. The breakfast consisted of Chapati and potato sagu, mixtures, mysore pak and kesar burfi. It was not my type of breakfast so I just took a little bit. Then there were couple of rounds of bisi-bisi /hot hot filter coffee that was carefully packed in huge thermoware and served in paper cups.

Our first destination was Ghati Subramanya, after darshan we proceeded to Vidur Aswathpur. The ride in the little ghats was like a rollercoaster . Vidur Aswathpur is a small place of great importance. It is here that Vidur from the Mahabharat did penance in the Dwapar Yug. There is a peepal tree still alive here that is famed to have been planted by Vidur himself.

Only one branch still survives and is supported by a concrete construction as the tree is slowly disintegrating.

This place is extremely serene with huge old trees every where. You can imagine that this must have been chosen well by Vidur to live when he was away from Hastinapur. The river bed nearby once must have gushed with water has now dried, a sign of man encroaching on nature. This place is a pilgrim center in karnataka but not known much in other parts of India.


Another Aswath Katte, This is another peepal tree nearby under which people make these idol offerings with some wish and they come every year to do a pooja here.

We had requested a temple priest to prepare lunch for us. It was served on banana leaves. The spread consisted of sambhar, rasam, rice, peanut chutney, Bisibele bhat, kesari bhat, jelebi, curd rice, and banana. I would have loved to have my lunch under the huge trees outside instead of dinning hall. The trees form a canopy and one literrally enjoys the sensation of being in the lap of nature. My Dad sang a few bhajan here and his voice sounded divine in the peaceful and calm environment. This place is not found by google yet. I feel previledged to have visited this place that has reference in our epic, Mahabharat.


Resting under the tree after lunch in front of a small temple under the canopy of trees.


In the late afternoon we proceeded towards Bagepalli taluk, just across the Karnataka border into Rayalseema in Andhra Pradesh. It is a small town of Gadidam with a big Lakshmi Venkateshwara Temple. The kids jumped out of the bus as we reached there and started their game of cricket while the adults settled down for the day.

That evening was a precursor of the next day's celebrations. We gathered in the temple sabha mandap and two under twelve boys sang devotional songs and stotra. Their voices echoed in the temple and its surroundings. Encouraged by the response of the audience recieved by the children a lady immediately grabed the mike and started singing some song in here nasal tone. I prefered to take a walk instead in the huge courtyard, watching the moon move slowly in the pitch dark sky and the monkeys chattering away. It was so intense to see many monkey babies clutching the mothers as they were disturbed by us, so many people descending onto this temple that does not get many visitors.

Dinner was served at 8.30 pm, consisting of rasam and rice but after a tiring day even that was welcome. It was prepared by cooks who had been brought along with us. I then went and sat with the group of villagers singing folk style devotional songs while one of them held the rythm on the Daf. After a long time I was feeling so relaxed. I distributed the chivda and Dharwad peda I had got along to all those who wanted a post dinner snack. After Shata-pavale most of us retired to our shared rooms in the dharmashala. They were clean but spartan and it was time to sleep on the satranji, a cotton mat, ideal for a warm night.



Next Morning the day began with a rush to the bathroom to get ready for the morning Abhishek. I took a picture of this and then I ran out off charged cells. So its sad I do not have pictures of the Garudotsav. After the Abhishek the breakfast was served. Everyone stuffed themselves like they would not get food for the next few years. Hot idlis, kesari bhat, medu vadas because it was going to be late for lunch.


Then started the Garudotsav, I was participating in it for the first time. A chariot was decorated elaborately with fresh flowers. It was a riot of colors, smells ruling my senses. Then one by one the men were invited and the host put a garland around their neck to bless and honor them. The garlanded men took turn to pull the chariot around the temple while the women followed behind the chariot with flowers and chamar. The whole ritual took me into a world I had never experienced before. I felt like I was part of the documentaries aired on National geographic.

After 11 pradakshina, holy circumventing the chariots stopped in front of the temple. Then all went in to the sabha mandap to celebrate the wedding of Lord Venkateshwara. That was then followed by a noisy music performance. This performer is from Mysore, as he sings in his high pitched voice he displays a couple of thousand photographs of various gods and especially Krishna. I for one don't understand Kannada that much and got a headache with the noise yet there were others who enjoyed it. I sat in the hall with everyone till the end of the program that went on for 3 hours, ask me what a torture it was.

It was a relief that lunch was served after that and the food served was a wedding meal, Lord Vekateshwara's wedding meal. I don't even remember how many items were served neither do I remember what I ate.

On the way back people were flooded with dry snacks. I will have wonderful memories of the places we visited and an indelible one of the capacity of people to keep eating else the whole clan was a very well mannered one. Not for nothing they call themselves khana-pina-sona company! Sharing here the recipe of the Khari Shankarpali I had made for the trip.

Ingredients
1 cup all purpose flour
4 - 5 green chilies
handful of curry leaves (variation)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup water
Oil to fry

In a big bowl take the flour. Make a well in the flour and add salt, turmeric powder, caraway seeds, sesame seeds. Coarse crush green chilies in mortar and pestle. Add the crushed chilies to the flour in the well. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and pour it over the flour and in the well. With a wooden spoon mix the flour. Do not do it with hand as it may cause a burn. Then add the water and knead a tight dough but smooth dough. Let it rest for atleast an hour. Cover the dough with a damp cloth to prevent it from drying out.
Later roll out chapatis thicker than normal, cut into shapes of your choice with a knife or cookie cutters. Separate each cut and fry in hot oil till golden. These taste like spicy biscuits. I also use a handful of curry leaves sometimes and crush them along with the green chilies before adding to the flour.

They are crunchy and an excellent accompaniment with tea or coffee. It aslo surprises people as people associate shankarpale with sweetness. This is a different kind though.
Note:

Shatapavle is the of walking hundred steps after dinner to help digestion, before one retires for the day.

Monday, October 29, 2007

ChavaLichya Shenga



The steel serving dishes a gift for the blog from my SIL. Farmer's Poorna Anna Taat or full meal of Green ChavaLichya Shenga, Anita's Bakar Bhaji, karlyachi chatni, Jowar bhakri and rice.

ChavaLichya Shenga or Yard long beans are only half yard long! Ain't that funny but now I didn't measure them with a scale so don't know the exact length. I love these beans stir fried the Gujarathi way and I won't touch it if it is made any other way. These beans have a mild flavour and if cooked with too many spices looses its identity completely. This bhaaji can be eaten on its own too.

Ingredients

1/4 kg Yard long beans broken into pieces
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
2 green chilies chopped fine
2 teaspoons oil
salt to taste

Heat oil fry green chilies in it. Add the broken beans stir fry for 5 mins. Then add the powders and salt and cook for another 2-3 mins. Remove them from the heat before they shrivell up. Healthy bhi tasty bhi.

We enjoyed Anita's Bakar Bhaji. This was a new learning for me. Anita, Dad gave you full marks! We loved the balanced taste of sweet, sour, spicy. It tasted superb with bhakri and good with rice too, Kalvun (mixed with hand).

Karlyachi chatni is sunflower seeds chatni. It is made by pounding the seeds with red chilies in a mortar. Now you have to tell me if I am right or wrong about this?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dadpe Pohe


Dasara is over and soon it will be Divali. One breakfast that is a must on the Abhyanga Snan day is Dadpe Pohe. My Mom used to make this really nice. We loved it more at this time of the year as even before Divali itself we would have eaten too many sweets so this savory breakfast was a good change.

Mom also made sure we drank enough of water extract of Wawding, now even Google does not have information on this tiny fruit of ayurvedic importance. It looks like white pepper and tastes like wood bark. We kids hated it. I don't know from where Mom learnt this. She told us after too many sweets Wawding helps to take care of the tummy infected with worms. Now Mom is not around and I don't have worms in my tummy so Wawding no more finds a place in my kitchen. But I can tell it worked well for after the dose the following morning Mom had to handle a little girl running helter skelter with stringy white live things trying to find their way out.

I have heard of a no cook Dadpe Pohe recipe but this one is from memories of my Mom's style.

Ingredients


1 cup thin rice flakes/ patal pohe
1 onion
1/8 cup peanuts
1/8 cup roasted and split gram/ dahale
1/8 cup grated fresh coconut
handful of chopped fresh cilantro
2 red chilies
1 teaspoon oil
1/8 teaspoon mustard
a big pinch of turmeric
and chili powder
1/4 cup water
salt to taste
Lime wedges to be served on the side.

Heat oil and splutter mustard in a wok. Roast the peanuts till golden. Toast the split gram in Marathi its called dahale. Add in the red chillies by breaking into big pieces, chopped onions stir fry for a min then add the rice flakes. Stir and mix in the turmeric and red chili powder. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of water. Cover for 5 mins. Just to let the flavors seep in. Remove the lid and put off the heat.

Serve in a plate garnished with grated fresh coconut and cilantro with a plump wedge of lime atop. My cuz would meditate on the plate while he squeezed the lime mixed the pohe well with his fingers to get even flavor for a good 5 mins then washed his hand and ate one spoon at a time without speaking to anyone. But for me whenever the other type of pohe the Kande pohe is mentioned at home, I go, "Uh....no ...lets make something else. Uth sooth pohe kon khanaar!" (Who will eating that pohe!). To which Mom would say yeah give her bread instead with a smirk.

Then there is Karnataka version of Avalakki bhat that taste quite different from the Maharashtrian cousin due to the udid dal in the seasonings and the light touch of turmeric unlike the yellowish green marathi pohe. I love to eat Avalakki bhat with butter milk that is kannad influence I must say but only sometimes.

Here is proof of maharashtrain pohe craze

Note:
Bee has asked a good question, Why are patal pohe used for Dadpe pohe?
Traditionally Dadpe pohe does not call for soaked pohe or cooking, at the most a little tadka so patal pohe is used as it is easy to soften them by just sprinkling some water or with the juices released by the onions and lime.
Also you will see that the pohe in the plate are not really thin like Marathi patal pohe. Here in Blr. the thick pohe are just like rice and the patal pohe are medium thick. We have to order for marathi patal pohe as it is not readily available. So I use whatever variety available.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

MarathMoLi Chocolate Akhrod Manuka Brownie

This recipe is specially for the self proclaimed chocolate snobs and our blogger buddies, Bee and Jai. It is to thank them for some fabulous reads they provide. I love their whacky sense of humour though I lack it many times. They won't share their pictures on the blog, I couldn't locate those chimps. Remember those, how Bee and Jai fooled us. They do let you into their lives though. You feel you know them and yet you don't. But like all blogger buddies we are bound by the passion for food, cooking and blogging. Bee is amchya Mumbaichi Mulgi and Jai a Mumbaicha Mulga Jawai so here's to you in jugalbandi style.



I ask Thou forgiveness for the blasphemy of menial chocolate substitutes for India don't keep parallels of all those wonderful ingredients you used and Moi not ready to pay from my nose. But I can swear they tasteth goooood. This is my second attempt to create a pirated copy of thy recipe of Chocolate-Almond Brownies in a row.

Ingredients

MarathMoLi Yaadi
  • 25gms Cadbury's Cocoa pood
  • 1 cup dahi
  • 1 cup maida
  • 1 cup Hershey's chocolate agal
  • 1/4 Akhrod
  • 3/4 cup saakhar
  • 6 tablespoon tup
  • mooth bhar manuka
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla sugandha
  • 1/2 teaspoon bru tatpar kawphi
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking pood
  • 1/2 teaspoon meeth
  • mooth bhar pista kachrya

List for the Angrez

25gms Cadbury's Cocoa powder
1 cup curds
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup Hershey's chocolate syrup
1/4 walnuts
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoon unclarified butter
handful raisins
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 teaspoon bru instant coffee
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
handful pistachio slivers

Grind walnuts and sugar together to a powder. Mix all ingredients together except pistachio slivers. The batter should fold like cake batter. Prepare the baking tray by lining with foil hung over the edges and lightly brush it with oil. Pour in the batter and spread evenly by tapping the tray a bit. Sprinkle the pistachio slivers on the batter. Bake for 25 mins at 180 deg celcius. Remove while it looks still moist. Mine got a little dry. Also next time I would inlcude 2 more tablespoons of butter or 1 tablespoon of oil to keep them more moist.

Best way to enjoy these superb brownies is by dunking in cold milk.

I also recommend their:
Sometime ago I had made Falafels from their blog with kala chana/ black gram. Black gram is healthier than white chickpeas. They were very tasty.

In the picture you see falafels with ketchup on it, surrounded with orange wedges and a glass of spicy buttermilk.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sundried Tomatoes N Cheese Bread




It was a weekend and as usual baking time for me. I started baking at 10 pm while I was watching TV. The proofing cycle takes really long and I was awake till midnight waiting for the doubling and to punch down. After greasing the tin finally pushed it into the preheated oven. The dough had risen well and knew that my bread will turn out good. Then just past 15 mins the power disappeared. I was worried my bread would collapse. Prayers to the power gods went unanswered for almost an hour. I must have peered at my rosy bread sitting sadly many times quite sleepily through the glass door of the oven.

After an hour the power came on. The baking resumed. I baked this one a little longer than normal about 45 mins just to avoid uncooked dough from being left inside as this was one single loaf of bread.

It was baked to perfection at 2.00 am and the baker was hungry. It might be an unearthly hour to eat but think of it so many people wake up to eat in the middle of the night. Plus I hadn't even gone to bed. I began tasting the warm freshly baked bread and ate up all that much before I cloud even stop to take a picture. Then I switched of the lights and went off to bed my tummy now comforted till late morning next day.

I woke up as the cell rang. Hi! said the voice at the other end. It was the doctor and our blogger buddy on the other end. I narrated to her the previous night's story. She too advised eating that much bread at an odd hour was bad. I agreed with her sheepishly. Do you recollect buddy?

My Dad wondered aloud if the oven eats up half the loaf after baking. I stuffed his face with a warmed up piece of this wonderful one before he could utter another word untill we were done away with much of the bread. We skipped lunch that day. So presenting to you~~~

To make this bread follow the Classic White bread till the first rise. Use the same measures of ingredients. Before you start working on the dough take 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes chop them up into bits and soak in water.

After the first rise is the shaping of the dough. From here there is twist in the story. Drain the rehydrated tomatoes on a mesh and pat dry lightly. Cube cheddar cheese to small bits till you get about 1/4 cup. Now roll out the dough about 8X12 inches. Sprinkle the rehydrate tomatoes and cheese on it and then roll up into a bundle. Now pat the roll into a greased tray of approx size 8X4. I used an oval one for this shape. Now score the dough to give it the look of a turtle shell. In each cell but a piece of cheese. Like you see here. Leave the dough covered with damp cloth for second rise. After an hour in warm weather OR whenever you see it doubled, this happens in colder weather. Finally you will see miss pinky ready to be baked. Miss pinky gets its color from the robust flavoured and intense colored sun dried tomatoes.


Preheat oven for 10 mins at 190 deg centigrade. Thrust in the tin and let it bake peacefully for 45 mins. Just 5 mins before the oven buzzer goes off brush the top of the loaf with whole milk or butter. Once the baking time is completed remove the loaf from the tin onto the grill and let it cool.

Serve it with a dip of your choice or lather it with cream cheese. This bread tastes best when warm as the cheese is soft and heart warming.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Walnut Chocolate Fudge


Last time the Dheer family had sent Walnut Chocolate fudge for me I was smitten with it. I guess it was from Super Chikki in Lonavala. Well I decided to give it a try at home so I could have an endless supply. We'll worry about the tyre later, I guffawed. Dad gave me that nasty look, the one Yoga experts give to someone with a unhealthy lifestyle. But then I have always been the black sheep amongst his students. May be that was the rebel in me when I was younger. Now there are somethings I cannot change.

Well this weekend was an extremely relaxing one. On Saturday we had lunch at Dal Tadka at Kathriguppe. It was a Rajasthani Buffet a treat for a friend. (Look out for the review in the next post)


Later it was an evening at Alok's home. As usual it was a very charming one. We missed you Varsha, Asawari, Anand and little Gauri and of course our hyper active Pande Kaka and chilled out Kaku.


Then for a lovely Sunday that followed I made a light lunch of moist vegetable Paella (Pah-ya-ya). Dad was wondering if I was going to take a short cut for dinner too that night. I had been burning the night lamp for the last whole week and Dad as usual was taking care of all the needs. Yes he is a fabulous Dad yet he was showing signs of sulking as I was not able to spend time with him for a long time.


So I surprised him with an elaborate dinner of Cauliflower gravy with Bhature, Palak and fresh groundnuts stir fry and Walnut Chocolate Fudge.


This fudge is melt in the mouth and absolutely sinful. A good way to melt the hearts of our loved ones.



Ingredients

1 cup crushed walnuts
1 cup khava/khoa/ condensed milk solids
1 tin milkmaid
1 tablespoon ghee
1/2 cup Hershey Chocolate Syrup


Heat a thick bottom pan. To it add the ghee and toast the crushed walnuts for a few seconds till you get a wonderful aroma. Remove them and keep aside. Now fry the khava till light pink. At this point it is the right time to add the Chocolate Syrup and condensed milk. Keep stirring to avoid burning. Once you see the mix coming together and leaving the sides of the pan it is time to remove from heat. In a greased tray pat the hot gooey mix and let it cool completely. Once cooled chill for 2 hrs and then cut out different shapes with cookie cutters like I did for the big kid at home or cut into simple squares. I guarantee they taste the same absolutely divine.
I'm going to make it for the real kids on my next trip home.




P.S: I tried Bee and Jai's Chocolate-Almond Brownies and the original recipe too. I would rate the Bee and Jai's more than the original recipe. Reason Bee and Jai's has granular texture that I like. The original recipe is too silken for my taste. I used cadbury's cocoa powder, cooking chocolate and curd as egg substitute. It inspired me to try Walnut Chocolate Fudge recipe that was in the waiting for long.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Lasuni Bhendi

And the power of nothing.



You may wonder what this is? A paradox? Some philosophy? Or as my special one says blah blah.

It is my experience. Yes and nothing does have power. Sometime ago a family friend visited me here in Blr. She is from the elite class. An author of a few philosophical books and a Phd in literature. She was shell shocked to see my way of life here.

My home here has just the bare necessities. A functional kitchen, probably a little more than functional. Minimum furniture, mostly low level seating. At first it looks like I am still living in bags.

It has been a delibrate decision not to start a new home wherever I travel or stay. I call it the power of nothing. The day I have to leave that place I can donate all the stuff to the needy and move on.

It is quite scary for someone used to comforts in life. I have enjoyed my share of comforts but now I live like this. Instead of me enjoying the power of materialistic things I would rather have the power of giving. I don't need much but I still live a good life may be a little lesser than a middle class Indian.

May be I don't care to collect more and more material things because I don't have to worry for my future generation. May be I have lost more than I have gathered. May be I like to be clutter free. If not emotionally atleast materialistically. When I become as clutter free emotionally as I am materialistically I would say I know the power of nothing in the true sense.

I ask myself what did I give someone today? Try this experiment and enjoy life.

So on this note here is a super simple recipe you will enjoy.

Ingredients

1/4 kg Lady fingers slit and diced

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 green chili finely chopped

1 teaspoon of mashed garlic

1 teaspoon of sesame seeds

2 teaspoon oil

salt to taste

Heat the oil and splutter the sesame seeds. Add the garlic, chili, turmeric powder and fry in the oil for 2 mins in that order. Then add the slit and diced lady fingers and cook till they turn a shade darker green than the fresh ones. The garlic should be mashed and not pureed to make it the distinctly flavored Bhendi stir fry.Now sprinkle the salt and stir fry for another 5 mins. Serve with hot phulkas/ rotis with a dash of lemon on the bhaaji.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Ranjini's Shrimanth

Shrimanth in Kanada means baby shower. In Marathi we call it DohaLe Jevan. It is the meant to pamper the young mostly first time mother to be and cheer her up as she accumulates courage to face the most testing time in her life. She does it with pride as she knows her reward will soon change her life in and out. This doctor knows every theory related to birth but is getting a hands on for the first time. A General Practitioner getting trained in the department of gynaecology. She is happy to have her baby here in India instead of the USA amidst of all the attention, care and love from family and friends.


That's my neighbor Dr. Ranjini wearing her green saree to mark the celebration of fertility, the coming of a baby, a baby shower.


The women folk gathered to bless both the baby and Mom to be.


The symbols of fertility are on a show before handing out to each lady.


Women discussing the nature's blessings and the labour pains and sharing stories of their experiences.



Tambul for all the women. An honor for a young fertile woman. This plate holds a blouse piece, betel leaves and nuts, green bangles, packets of haldi-kumkum, flowers, a small packet of chivda, puffed rice ladoos and chaklis.

Its been a long time since I have been trying to post this one. Finally decided to make it pictorial due to a time crunch. The baby is on the way any moment and I didn't want to post this one after the baby is here!

P.S: Another friend Manisha delivered an angel on Saturday and we went to see her. It was so exciting! New borns have such an effect on all of us. I am waiting to play with 2 more babies. Ranjini's first or Varsha's first am wondering :). Will it be all girls? They can have a gang of their own like we do.

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