Monday, December 31, 2007

Undre


Happy New Year!

It is the beginning of a new year, of the Gregorian Calendar to be exact. It is the simplest of Calendars in the world. We have adopted it as a common reference, definitely makes life easier when relating to the western world.

However did you know that Hindu Calendar is more accurate and complex. It is not in much use by the masses in India as the Gregorian Calendar has taken its place for all practical reasons. Yet when we go to the temples we are reminded of our own Hindu Calendar you will agree. It has units which are smaller and a co-0rdinate system that is more advanced. While we are celebrating 1st Jan 2008 we are actually in 5109Th Hindu calendar year! We even have a sixty year cycle for the names of the years and this year is Sarvajit which is the 21st year in the cycle.

While I wish you A Happy New Year. I also introspect. Today I want to pass on random thoughts to my younger generation. Judge it and accept what appeals to you. My tiny group of peers, friends, family thinks I always do what I say so putting these thoughts here else I would not have been so audacious.

Plus a debate that followed after watching, Taare Zameen Par made me want to post this here. Do watch this movie. May be his brother, Faisal was his inspiration behind this movie.

  • Do I want to be part of the wave of uniformity that is sweeping the earth or do I want to have diversity. My environmental background reminds me that diverse environs are signs of long term survival where as homogeneity leads the path to perish.
  • Do I want to be a part of the only English speaking, dressed in jeans, burger chomping crowd or do I want to follow a heritage that is rich, diverse and spiritual. It is complex, confusing for a young mind but one has to go beyond the crossroads as the unlimited exciting future beckons. One should never feel ashamed to ask for guidance.
  • Do I want to be a money churning machine or do I want to enjoy every bit of what I do in life. Yet never be satisfied with what you do. Keep pushing yourself to do better.
  • I myself have made non standard decisions, with non standard outcomes but they were mine and I have no regrets about it. I feel if I can say this much it is significant to me spiritually.
  • Let the motto of life be, I lived my life on my terms and only I am fully responsible for it.
With that let us bring in the New Year by worshiping Lord Ganapati and asking for his blessings for the year ahead. To appease the Lord lets make Undre. Undre are the coconut filled steam dumplings offered to Lord Ganapati and more popularly know as Modak. Undre is the Koli name derived from the Marathi word Unde meaning lump.

Undre are Lord Ganapati's favorite sweet and are offered to him on Chaturthi, Sankashthi or on Tuesday, as it is the day of Ganesha. This is not the easiest sweet to make and on a scale of 1 to 10 we can rate it at 8. Yet it is a perfect 10 when you devour it.

The Undre in the pictures were made by my Cook, Lakshmi when I was in Mumbai. She is very skilled at making them. Mine however are not so picture worthy I must own up.

So lets try our hand at it.

Ingredients

For the filling
1 coconut grated
1/2 cup jaggery
1 tablespoon ghee
1/8 cup nuts and raisins
2 drops of Kevada essence

For the cover
2 cups Basmati rice flour
1.5 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/10 cup ghee

First lets make the filling. Heat a deep pan add the ghee. Combine the grated coconut and jaggery and add to the pan. Keep mixing till you get a semi solid ball. This filling is called Chauri in Koli. Our Kolis like their Chauri sweeter but this proportion is what we prefer at home. Keep aside.

Now heat a deep pot and boil the water. Once it reaches a rolling boil add the rice flour and salt. Mix well. This will cook the flour and make it into a soft and pliable dough.

Pour the dough onto the counter and knead with water if requires to get a smooth, crack free dough.

Now pinch off the some dough and shape into a ball. Then with your thumb press in the center and shape it like a basket. Next is the tough step, we need to pinch the edges together to get a basket with a flower like design or a diya design. Fill a spoonful of Chauri in it. Once thats done pull the pinched edge of the basket together.

Place all the undre on a greased pan and steam. The are cooked if you see a glaze on the Undre.

Undre taste divine. Need I tell you that!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Raisin Buns

Glazed Raisin Buns


Unglazed ones

Some time ago I had made Tuti Fruiti Bread and I had bookmarked Bee and Jai's Chelsea Buns too as desert breads. You guys know I bake on Friday nights. It has been a while now since I baked last with all the travelling that I have done. Then came Bee & Jai's retrospective post that tempted me enough to bake mid-week.

I drool at their pictures always but these buns simply pushed me to go bake on a wednesday evening when I reached home early. I did not have any of the ingredients except raisins. On the way home I picked up flour, yeast etc. Here you don't get everything you need in your neighborhood and following a recipe needs planning. I decided to make them with whatever I had. I wanted them to look atleast like their drool worthy buns.

I went home and dumped my bag and went straight into the kitchen. Dad followed, "No, No, don't tell me you're going to bake now!" He got silence for an answer. Fortunately we had a lot of food left from the lunch he had made for his friends who had visited him in the afternoon. So I didn't have to worry about dinner.

Good! so I started by cleaning the 8 inch tart pan that was dusty. Washed and dried and kept it aside. Then went on inpromptu to the actual task. Here it is for you.

Ingredients

3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup black currants
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3 cups water
2 teaspoons ghee
1/2 cup extra flour for kneading

Warm 1/2 cup water, add the sugar and active dry yeast. Let it bloom and foam for 20 mins.

Meanwhile soak the golden raisins and the black currants in the honey and let them stay till you need to use them.

Once the yeast is frothy add the flour, mix in the salt and the remaining 2.5 cups of water after warming it. Dust the counter lightly with flour and knead well. It will be a little messy but don't worry. Add the ghee and knead to get a smooth dough. Now oil a large bowl and keep the dough to double. Cover with a wet towel.

After an hour or when doubled remove the dough on a lightly floured counter and roll out into a rectangle. Now distribute evenly the honey soaked raisins on the dough and roll it up like a mat, tight and nice. Cut up the roll into nine equal pieces. Line them up in the lighly greased, 8 inch Tart pan like shown here with the cut side up.


Preheat oven for 10 mins. Bake a 185 deg Celcius for 20 mins. The flowers will blossom in the oven and your home will smell divine and the bees will be attracted to the Kitchen for a bite as soon as the buns are out of the oven. You bet!

Glaze with honey after removing from the oven. Lift the base of the tart pan and slide of the buns on to a grill to avoid sweating. We devoured these buns yesterday for dessert and I am posting it this morning :).

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Cauliflower Biryani

with Pav Bhaaji Masala





In this world of buy 1+get 1 free, I walked out of the nearby D-Mart with a load of stuff that I need and that I did not need. So what do you do with 2 packets of Pav Bhaaji Masala? You make Biryani :).



It was a nice cool afternoon in Mumbai when my cuz and me were so caught up in discussion that we were hardly interested in cooking and eating. This was our special sister to sister bonding time that we had got together after long. While Charu bathed Pranav, my nephew, I went to make a quick biryani that I served with plain curd and papad.


At the table, Pranav quite surprised me when he squealed, "There is Pav Bhaaji in my Biryani~~~~" Even Charu was stunned that her child of 9 yrs could spot that right where as she just mentioned that it tasted good customarily.


Here is the single pot recipe.


Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower
2 tomatoes chopped
2 big onions chopped
1 cup raw rice
2 tablespoon Everest Pav Bhaaji Masala
2 green chilies chopped
1 handful chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon red chili powder
2 cups water
2 tablespoon oil

First clean the cauliflower and split the florets. Immerse them in salt and turmeric water for 20 mins. This will disinfect it.

In a pressure cooker add the oil and heat on medium flame. Fry the onions it golden brown then add the cauliflower. Now add the salt and allow the florets to soften a bit. Later add tomatoes and all the spice powders and green chilies. Fry till oil separates. At this point add the cleaned and washed rice. Mix well to coat it with oil. Add water to cover rice. Close the lid and allow 2 whistles. It should be cooked right, not too soft. I used Ambe Mohor rice which is fragrant and short grained but Basmati would we good too.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Malai Tomato Rice


Vaishali's brother is a chef in Australia, he does Indian specialties there. Yet he thinks she is a better cook. This is Lalit's recipe that Vaishali makes often. 

If you like hot and rich food then you will love her food. She tells us about her struggle to get her son, Madhva to become a little cuddly. That reflects in her food too. The school going kid hates to eat. He has a long list of things he wouldn't look at. Yet some spicy stuff is OK. If your kid is of that type then here is Vaishali's rich version of a tomato rice.

Ingredients

4 tomatoes chopped
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon Badshah Biryani Masala
1 green chili
2 cups cooked rice
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 + 1 teaspoon oil

To begin heat a handi or shallow vessel on medium heat. Fry in very little oil the onions to pink then add the tomatoes and cook till the tomatoes are soft. Remove to cool and then grind to a smooth paste. So that the kids don't complain about tomato skin in their mouth. Mix the heavy cream in the paste and keep aside.

Now heat the other teaspoon of oil. Add the green slit chili and half of the cilantro and save the other half for garnishing. Add the cooked rice and then pour the tomato onion paste and cream mix over it. Mix in the Badshah Biryani Masala. Remove from heat. Put a tava on medium heat and then put the vessel on the tava. Let the rice cook on the indirect heat for 10 mins. Cover with a lid and keep something heavy on it, like a mortar, to hold the heat inside. Remove the lid and garnish with the saved cilantro.

Kids who like spicy stuff will enjoy it. This rice is moist and creamy.

And here are some of the Rangolis made by Vaishali during Diwali.





Friday, December 21, 2007

Hari Hareshwar, Paradise Calling

The drama in nature

Hari Hareshwar is a small town just warming up to tourism today yet it has enjoyed importance centuries ago during the reign of the Peshwa's. The town gets its name from the temple it is home to. It is unique in the sense that it has a triple linga representing Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. Hari Hareshwar being the family diety of the Peshwa's had great importance in Maratha history. It has enjoyed better days when Shrivardhan a nearby Taluka place was a port with its busy transaction with the Portuguese and the middle east.


It is about 5 hrs drive from Mumbai. We stopped at Wadkhal for a bite and took the Roha -Mangaon road. It was a pleasant drive as the early Dec breeze cooled our skin. We had decided to stay at Shrivardhan that night and then go to Hari Hareshwar the next morning not knowing that Hari Hareshwar has some good home stays. The MTDC resort was full so we couldn't get our bookings done there and they are best you get in this area.


Next morning we drove from Shrivardhan to Hari Hareshwar about 18 kms. The elders wanted to have Darshan of Hari Hareshwar first so that's just what we did. It was 111th year of celebrating the Mahakal utsav. Mahakal temple is adjacent to the Hari Hareshwar temple in the same complex. The temples are built in the Peshwa style and we saw some beautiful wooden pillars here. It is very difficult to date this temple. History mentions that Ramabai, Senior Madhavrao Peshwe's queen visited here to worship Hari Hareshwar to ask the Lord for good health for her ailing husband. Legend goes that Pandava's performed their parent's Pindadan, the ceremonial freeing of the spirit here at the seashore the spot is know as Pandav thirtha.


I was flooded with memories of stories told by our staff who came from nearby villages of Paja, Diva, Bharatkhol etc. They always described the ferocious sea in this region and how it had caused the immigration of the villagers of Paja to move to Jivna where the sea is less ferocious. Stories of lost lives of adventurers trying to explore the steep Rockies. To me it was images of the sea lashing out at the low level mountains. The sea deep at the shore and lots of turtles. The sinister stories of turtle egg eaters moving around in the dark moonlit night with a torch in hand. My elder aunt visited there to ask for good health in the tradition of Ramabai in her younger days. She also went there to bring back staff who had gone on a holiday and never seemed to return, she was a successful Nakhwin ( Lady Head of fishing business) in those day. It was these stories that had put Hari Hareshwar on my list of places to visit.


Waves cut the mountain at the bottom


After the darshan we took directions from my aunt and started climbing the mountain using the stairway. My elder Uncle R and Aunt P are not able to climb stairways due to age so they decide to sit near the temple. As we reached the peak we were pleasantly surprised to see a valley like descending path and the Arabian sea till the end of the horizon. It was an absolute Aha! moment. On this descend is a little lover's seat that gives an illusion of suspension in pictures taken there. This path is also considered holy circumvention or pradakshina and if done thrice legend says we earn blessing equivalent to a visit to Kashi. Not for nothing Hari Hareshwar is called Dakshin Kashi. Yet I came here for a different reason for the mystery and intrigue it held.


The descend

As we reached down to Pandav thirtha we were awe struck. All along that mountain was a WAVE CUT PLATFORM and designs caused by the lashing waves. The fury of the sea had caused erosion forming intricate carvings in the rock. This was natures art gallery or rather theatre I'd say with the dramatic backdrop of etched out rocks. We sat at the edge of the wave platform and stared at the patterns the sun and the reflection of the sea playing a dance. The water sparkled in the bright sunshine. I could sit there for hours lost in my world of fantasy. I thought of P and how much he would have loved it.




The sparkling water



The designs of Nature's fury


Wave platforms are dangerous sites if you explore on your own. It is a must to take a person from the village along with you. We are Koli and our elders know the behaviour of the sea plus my elder Uncle is ex-Navy so he knows every detail of the Arabian sea. He was with us so we were safe. What makes the wave platforms dangerous is that the sea is very deep near it and if it is time for high tide the water rises suddenly leaving no way for escape or retreat. Also the sea slices the mountain from underneath so there are area that crumble slowly when dry but may crash out during high tide. My Aunt tells us she has seen the platform widen over the last 50 years.

Gayatri Tirtha


There is a crevice in the mountain called Gayatri thirtha that has a tiny spring of fresh mineral water. It is natures ways of surprising us with fresh water juxtaposed next to the sea. As we walked along we were surprised to see Uncle R and Aunt P on the other side of the platform. They could not resist the temptation of showing us all the things that they knew about the place so they took the opposite side of the circumvention which is flat and came there. Uncle R beckoned us, see Aunt P wants to show you something he mocked. She pointed to a white line running along the platform and ending in the sea, telling us that it was a trickle of milk that came from Kashi. A closer look told us it was a thin layer of marble seen sandwiched in the all latrine mountain.


The trickle of milk from Kashi or is it?



Suddenly we heard someone gasp, Turtle! Turtle!! It had just hopped out on to the natural moss laden ramp but the yelp scared it away. We stood there patiently but none showed up though we could see a lot of them popping their heads and shells in the water. They were quite huge and in large numbers. They are now protected and that definite made us happy.


And the turtle dived back into the sea



In this visit it was low tide period so I missed seeing the ferocious avatar of the sea. I loved the beach too but the wave cut platform completely captured my being. Next time I go there I want to sit in an armchair in the moonlit night and watch the sea and witness its fury that results in places that are so romantic.




Hari Hareshwar is a wonderful place to visit over the weekend if you are in Mumbai. On the way back we also visited the Dive Agar Ganapati temple that is home to the Gold Ganapati Mask found in 1997. Janjira fort is about 40 kms from here. May be a Murud-Janjira-Hari Hareshwar over a week would be great. May be a voyage on the sea.....I dream on....


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Kaalya Vatanyachi Amti


Thali of Kaalya Vatanyachi Amti, Gavar Bhaaji, Rice, Chavlachi Roti and Kairi pickle


In life we meet some people to whom we are not related by blood but they are much more than that. We are family friends, this couple did not have children of their own and neither did they tolerate children messing around when visiting them. I think I have a way with elders. They always get attached to me in a certain way. Especially this couple. During my graduation year she ordered me that I should go to their home to study. I did. Tai pampered me a lot, so much so she became extremely involved in my life. She would be happy when I was happy and weep for me when something went wrong. I was never able to reciprocate her involvement in me. In fact till this day I don't understand it. Though I did try my best to make her happy it was not equal I know that. Life is full of inequalities. The people we love don't care about us and we rarely reciprocate equally the love we recieve from other people.

Tai was from the Malvan region where the dialect is Malvani. Malvan has a rustic flavor in its earth that seeps into their food and language. Today I am sharing here a recipe of Kale Vatane that I have seen Tai make many times. Tai was almost 70 years and ground masala on the pata (flat grinding stone) even though she owned a mixie, every single day till she fell ill for just a few days before she passed away last year in Dec. This Kaalya Vatanyachi Amti is best enjoyed with hot rice or Vada. This recipe is in her memory.

Tai if you are looking at me from up there I want to tell you I miss you. I will try my best to achieve whatever you dreamt for me.

Ingredients

1/2 cup Kale Vatane soaked overnight
1 potato
a few curry leaves
1 tablespoon of oil

For Masala

2 onions chopped thin
3-4 table spoons grated coconut
2 green chilies
1 handful cilantro
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garam masala / Malvani masala
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2-3 Kokum/ Amsul

For Koli Style
Add 1/2 teaspoon of Koli Masala

To begin first pressure cook Kale Vatane with 1.5 cup of water until soft or 4-5 whistles. Leave the potato whole along with the Kale Vatane to boil. After cooling the cooker. Open the lid and save 2 tablespoons of boiled Kale Vatane for grinding.

In a non stick pan dry roast Onion, grated coconut, till is smells nutty. Cool and then add the green chilies, cilantro, red chili powder, turmeric powder, cumin, Kokum and grind to a coarse paste along with the saved 2 tablespoons of boiled Kale vatane. Here the Kokum and the boiled Vatane make the difference in the Kale Vatane curry.

Next heat a tapela/ pot on medium heat and add oil. As it reaches smoking point add the curry leaves and cover. After the crackle subsides a bit and before the curry leaves burn add the masala and fry for 2-3 mins. Now add the boiled Kale Vatane and cube the potato before adding it to the curry. Boil on high for 5 mins. Stir intermittently as the masala tends to settle at the bottom. Last add the Garam masala and allow to simmer for 5 mins.

In the Konkan Kale Vatane stands up to a chicken curry and might beat it too at times so say the Vegetarians.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Nut marbles


This post is off to Bee and Jai's Click event on Nuts. Hummm was that difficult to guess? Its in the name itself . I really din't know what to make though there are several recipes with nuts. So here is something I created instantly and especially for this event. I made it just by picking up nuts with my fingers from different jars. It can't get simpler than this. I made marbles because I had the theme of the smart crow in my head. So took a jar and filled it with layers of Pistachio, Cashew, Almonds and Walnuts. It looked good. After the marbles were ready put them in a glass and imagined that the rest of it was filled with water. Blr has a gloomy weather right now and a picture indoors meant using the flash. So I grabbed the ChaTai/ Mat threw it open in the sit out and set up my subject in the natural light. Thats what you see here.

Another reason for making the marbles is for smarter consumption of sweet. They can be shaped into big ladu for kids but for me marbles are perfect. I get to have the sweet and eat it too. Dad can have a handful as he is sincere with his workout.
To make the nut marbles follow the super simple steps:

Ingredient

About 2 tablespoon each of Pistachio, Cashew, Almonds and Walnuts.
2 teaspoons of sugar
1 teaspoon ghee

Grind together the nuts and sugar to a fine powder. Heat the ghee in a pot. Add the ground nuts and sugar powder and mix well on sim till the sugar melts. Cool a bit till you can handle it and shape into marbles. This proportion gave about 12 marbles. Incase you want to make ladus for the kids you can take equal amounts of nuts. Add sugar as per taste and ghee just enough to moisten the powder so that it lends well for shaping.





Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Rolled and sliced Kothimbir Vadi


Rolled and sliced Kothimbir Vadi (Type II) and Zatpat Rasmalai



This Kothimbir Vadi is much popular in Marathi homes that follow Mangala Barve's recipe. As always this method is Mangala Barve's but recipe is mine. I made it for this guy who visits us once a year to help us with our paper work. This year he retired from Govt. service of 30 long years so I wanted to make it special for him. Along with lunch it was Kothimbir Vadi and Manisha's Zatpat Rasmalai for him. Thanks again Manisha, this is the second time I made it.

Ingredients

1 bunch Cilantro cleaned, washed and chopped
1 to 1.5 cups Chickpea flour/ Besan
4-5 green chilies chopped fine
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida

Without adding water mix the dough and shape into 4X2 inch rolls. Like we did for the Nachani Kobi Palak Kabab . Steam in a greased tray for 30 mins or until you see a glaze. Cool completely and then slice into thin roundels. Be careful while slicing as cilantro stems make it slightly tricky. Shallow fry in a non stick pan until golden and crisp. Serve with chutney or ketchup.

My favorite Kothimbir Vadi however is the other type I posted earlier. While the rest of my family and friends are loyal to this one.


Find Kothimbir Vadi Type I here

Monday, December 17, 2007

Oil free ChavaLichi Amti



I am great fan of pressure cooking especially when it come to pulses and beans. This is the first time I have made this oil free amti. What made me do that is the fact that I was using coconut for the gravy. Coconut has enough oil already. So I skipped the tadka altogether. The amti turned out so good that none of us missed the oil or the tadka.

We found some fresh ChavaLi beans in the pod. The long pods looked great with the beans plump and tight. The colors of the pod a purple green and the beans a range of mature pale beige to the baby greens. These beans must have been a delicacy some centuries ago for an inspired a poet calls a young curvaceous girl, ChavaLichi Sheng!

This amti goes well with chapati, jowar/ bajari/ ragi roti as well a rice. Yesterday we had the yard long beans stir fried with just chilies they were so young and aromatic that we enjoyed every morsel of our dinner. Yard long beans too are ChavaLi Sheng but they yield the red beans that are small, the size of green lentils. Today the beans I used are the ones that yield the black eyed peas that are beige in color also known by the same name. Keeping the spicing light I made this curry that was completely different even though their names are the same.

Ingredients

1 cup mature ChavaLi removed fresh from the pods
1 potato quartered
2 tomatoes quartered
a small piece jaggery (optional)
2 cups water
salt to taste

For masala :

1 big onion
1/8 piece of a coconut or 2-3 tablespoon of grated coconut
1 green chili
2 teaspoon MTR sambhar masala
1 handful cilantro
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

To begin grind all the item to a course paste. In a pressure cooker mix together all the ingredients along with the masala and close the lid. Allow 1 whistle on high heat and another 1 on sim. Put off the heat and cool till pressure subsides. Give it a stir with a light hand such that it is mixed well yet allows the potato to hold itself. Serve with a squeeze of lime.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Methiche Ladu


and Hail Winter!

This is a winter speciality. It is not just anybody's sweet. "Oh really! Can we call it a sweet?" says my little nephew, jowling away.

You decide it. It has a good amount of jaggery in it attempting to make it a sweet. The flavors are robust and yet requires an evolved palate to appreciate it truly.

My aunt came armed with a supply of these methiche ladu for the entire family. This recipe is absolutely KOLI. She prescribes them for all in the winter, to strengthen the back and keep you warm and post natal must for women.

One time my uncle MJ carried them to Hong Kong and he was asked to demonstrate how they are consumed. They might have thought it was a Horse's creation LOL!

However as always my aunts and mother succeeded in getting us kids to get acclimatized to the taste. I still remember how I would hold it in my hand for a long time just about nibbling till the end. I loved the taste of halim in it though. Halim is a seed that swells like the tulsi seed/ sabja when mixed with saliva. I found that amazing at that young age.

It is more than a year now that I started blogging. I see my family searching for this recipe on the blog. They tell me a Koli blog is incomplete without this Methiche ladu recipe. Try them out at your own risk. Sometimes I recommend risking too ;).

Ingredients


1 kg Fenugreek seeds/ methi
¼ kg Gardencress pepperweed / Halim (Marathi)
¼ kg edible gum / Dinka
1 ¼ kg jaggery
4 nos coconuts
½ kg ghee

Methi to be dry roasted to dark brown color. Grind methi, halim and dinka in mixie. Melt ghee add jaggery, shredded coconut. Keep stirring till you get a sticky consistency. Add the ground powder. Mix well. Cool till you can handle the heat of the mix. Shape the ladu. This makes about 80 ladus. It has a shelf life of one month in the winter months.

This recipe can be made is a trial batch with 1 cup methi, 1/4 cup halim, 1/4 cup dinka, 1.25 cup jaggery, 1 coconut, 1/2 cup ghee.

Stay warm and stay indoors!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Neer Dosa and Appam in Mangalore



At the eatery a display of typical Mangalore fare of buns, usli, uttapam, Kerala paratha, pole, pohe etc. I was feeling shy to go close for a picture so took one from my table.




and a Temple Tour @ Rs. 1.36/ km

Just before Diwali at work they declared a compensatory holiday for the entire organization. I had already planned my other vacation with family and friends and here I was with 4 holidays at hand. I decide to go on a short tour, my criteria, it had to be cheap and only for 4-5 day . I checked with KSTDC and decided to take their South Canara Temple Tour.

Well once I had done a 5 day tour of north Karnataka with them about 2 years ago. The places covered were amazing but the stay at Bijapur had left a bad impression. So this time I just prepared myself for bad hotels and a smelly coach and made the reservations saying to myself this is an unplanned tour so I need not expect much.

This tour starts on every thrusday from Badami house, Blr. at 9.00 pm. As usual we reached early. My first surprise was the new coaches. They had better build more space and more leg room. Also since it had not rained the coaches smelt fresh. It helps to expect less I said to myself especially for the price we pay. Infact during my last trip with them I had suggested that they should offer luxury tours as their standard tour was really low budget.

Day 1:

The tour manager told us that we were going to cover 1400 kms to and fro. Man ! It meant a tour at Rs. 1.36/ km. That is absolutely a steal deal. Yet I kept reminding myself that I should not crib about the hotels they provide. He aslo announced that if all agreed he could show us a few more temples in addition to the itenery if we paid Rs. 50 more. It was obvious that it went into the private kitty. After munching on chutney sandwiches that we were carrying with us we went off to sleep that night. The bus passed through dense forrests, plantations and ghats.



Day 2:

In the early morning we reached Hornadu. We were provided a small room that we had to share with 2 other people. This facility was just to have a bath. It was a village guest house but was clean. After a hot water bath we walked down to the Annapoorneshwari temple through dense fog. It was an out of the world experience. This temple is surrounded by bettlenut and coconut plantations as you see in the backdrop of the temple gate below. This is one of the cleanest Hindu temple that I have seen. The darshan was calming, we saw the Godness being bathed as part of the Shodashopchar (ritual offering of sixteen items). It is a beautiful human sized idol made in granite. This region being home to Annapoorneshwari is truely blessed. I learnt in this trip what it truely means to do Annadan.

Annadan is supposed to be the highest level of charity that one can do in Hinduism. It is said that it is the only charity that truely satisfies the needy. If a man is in need of food he will take only as much as the capacity of his stomach and will say enough when he cannot eat more thus feeling trupti or satisfaction wheres all other needs are insatiable.

Annapoorneshwari is the goddess who can provide endless amounts of food to the needy. In this temple we see in her hand the spoons and utensils that are her tools. We took breakfast at the prasad hall. It consisted of Avalakki, patal pohe seasoned with red chili and mustard in oil with sugar and salt and sprinkled with water.

From here we went to Kalasa and then we proceeded to Shringeri. This place is of high importance as Adi Shanakaracharya established the first peetham here. He was looking for a suitable location for starting a peetham and at this place on the bank of the river Tunga he saw a snake sheltering a frog from the hot sun under its hood as the pregant frog was in labour. Adi
Shanakaracharya was taken aback by this scene of a serpent the natural enemy of a frog actually protecting it and immediately identified this place as a special one. People now feed the fish here on the ghats of the Tunga.




We washed our feet in the river and became Suchirbhut (the act of cleansing) and went on to take darshan of Sharda mata and Vidyashankara. Both the temples are beautiful and distinct. The Sharda temple interior is beautiful where as the Vidyashankar temple is decorated on the outside. It has carving of different Raashis in the corners. In the Shringeri Mutt there is a hall that displays paintings on the life of Adi. As a child I had a very spiritual impression of Shringeri Mutt in my mind based on the books I had read but it was quite different experience to be there. May be it being Diwali there were more visitors or something else I am not able to figure out. Pandit Gowrishankar is one person we know who has studied Vedic Culture at Shringeri Mutt and he used to visit us sometimes and explain to us all the nitty grities of Puja rituals. We had lunch here at the Prasad hall. It was impressive how well it was maintained. Food consisted of rasam, sambhar, majge/ buttermilk and heaps of rice.

In the evening we reached Kollur. After checking into a Guest house we got fresh and walked to the temple. It was the time for Mahamangal aarti and there was a huge rush. This temple seemed to be dominated by Malayali culture. It is the abode of the goddess Mokambika. We stood in the line for darshan for more than an hour and just at about the time of the aarti hell broke loose. We were squeezed into the mandap and I was gasping for air. I saw the priest coming with the aarti through the crowd pressing against each other. I told Dad to follow him when he would return to the Garbh gruha. Reached in front of the Goddess barely bowed my head and sprinted out into the open space. This temple is not kept clean and reminded me of all the temples in Maharashtra where similar experiences are inflicted on the devotees. We took prasad at the dinning hall and returned to the guest house to retire for the day.

Day 3:

Began in Murudeshwar. The famous 65 ft Shiva statue dominates the skies of the coastal town. Though we were on the beach we were warned not to play in the sea as we were to travel all day and did not want the coach to be smelly. So we just watched others have fun in the sea. There is a restaraunt that caught my fancy as it was built on stilts in the sea.

Our next destination was Anegudda Vinayaka temple. This temple architechture is similar to Konkan region in Maharashtra and Goa. It is said, when Bheema was trying to kill an asura in the form of an angry elephant with his gada, he lost the battle. Thats when this Ganapti gave him a sword with which he destroyed the asura. Hence this temlple is dedicated to Vinayaka.

Nearby there was an interesting place called the temple of Halu MakaLutai. The story associated with this temple goes like this. Kumba-mukhi, the sister of Ravan and Shurpanaka prayed to this Goddnes to grant her children. However when the Goddess appeared before her she was dazzled and instead of asking for children. She asked for the Goddess be granted with children and The Goddess said Tathaastu! Hence every five years a linga pops up from the ground. It is a strange geological phenomena observed here. In the courtyard of the temple you see these rocks that look like lingas emerging from the ground. Quite miraculous you will agree. This Goddess is offered bettlenut flowers in worship.

From here we went straight to Udupi. It was my dream to go to Udupi after reading the story of Kanakadas for whom Krishna turned around and gave darshan to his devotee. This is the only temple where the diety's back is to the main door. Then on the Darshan is taken at the rear. Sadly even centuries later, after Kanakadas not much has changed here. The Lord is still locked up in the sanct sanctorium and decorated with flashy daimonds and the keys to the temple still lie with the Madhavas. It was also my dream to have prasad at the bhojanshala which is so synonimos with Udupi. Thousands of people are fed here. Though I am used to temple dinning halls and culture associated with it. Udupi is something one has to experience atleast once in a life. We even saw some people eating on the floor, no not even a banana leaf was used. They were observing some austerity in lieu of some favor they might have asked from Krishna. It was a shocking experience for me and definitely opened up my mind a bit more.

We were now off to Kateel to see Durga Parmeshwari. The temple exterior is in Konkani style while the sanct sanctorium is in Kerala style. This temple is built on an island in the river Nandini, connected to the mainland with a bridge.

From Kateel we went to Mangalore and went straight to hit the beach. The highpoint of the trip was to check into Lalit International at Suratkhal. It is a 3 star hotel thats going through a rough patch so KSTDC gets the best deal. We have paid Rs.1400 for a similar room at other times and this entire package had cost us a mere Rs1900/ person. The restaraunt has been closed down due to lack of customers. So we walked down to Sadanand about 10 mins from our hotel. Yes they are the same guys from Fort, Mumbai and they spoke to us in Marathi as they overheard our conversation. I made it a point to have Gudbad, the Mangalorean sundae and did not find it exceptional.

Day 4:

We began the day by visiting the Gokarnatheshwar temple, it new and built by a liqour baron very glitzy and not my type of a place however the cleanliness was striking.


The next one was the Manjunath temple at Kadri with its beautiful Brahma idol dating back to 968 A.D.


We started our return journey to Blr. On the way we were to go to Dharmasthal and Kuke Subramania. I had heard so much about the rush and my brother's warning echoed in my ears "It is the Pandharpur of the south". Yes it is in terms of the rush yet clean, non-corrupt and organized. Our last stop was at Kuke Subramania where one can perform rituals like sarpadosh etc.

Day 5:

At 6.30 am we were back in Blr at Badami house. I was done with my dose of temple tours. No more temples for me I resolved, however only until I went to this Paradise and there was a temple to be visited there too.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Chole Naan and The Mela





Ole ~~~ Ole ~~~ Chole ~~~ Chole~~~

We would sing as kids but that time Chole bhature was our favorite now it is Chole Naan. I am yet to find a self respecting Indian who does not like Chole.

Many claim the Chole they make is the best. Just try my version of fingerlicking Chole and let me know.

I invite anyone and every one with their chole with anything viz, pulao, roti, puri, Bhakri etc to link up here. I read Anita was served idli with chole.

Come one come all, Punjabi, Marathi, Madrasi, Bongali~~ Anne Gujjuben tame kyan che~~~ welcome to the Chole Mela !!

Leave a link in the comments till 9th Dec 07. Later I'll compile the list and update the post.


And here is my recipe:

Ingredients
1 cup Kabuli Chana / Chickpeas soaked overnight
1/2 cup chana dal/ split chickpeas soaked for 2 hour
2 large onions
2 large tomatoes
6-7 pods of garlic
1/2 inch piece of ginger
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon Koli Masala or Garam masala
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 big handfuls chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoon oil (I'm generous :)
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida

Pressure cook Kabuli chana and chana dal together. Meanwhile in a saucepan fry the rough chopped onions till pink in 1Tb. sp. oil. Add tomatoes cook till soft. Add garlic, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, Koli Masala or Garam masala, red chili powder, turmeric powder, chopped cilantro and fry for 2 mins. Let the it cool a bit and then grind the masala t smooth.

In the same pan add 2 teaspoon oil and make tadka of asafoetida and mustard. Then mix in the masala and the boiled Kabuli chana and chana dal. Bring it to a rolling boil. Serve hot or cold it tastes divine actually stale is better after the microflora has blossomed ;).
__________________________________________
Updated: 11th Dec 07
Wow 9 recipes for chole! Thank you ladies :) !
  • Asha travels 16yrs back in time and chole make her home sick.
  • Arundhati shares the secret of a deep brown chole.
  • Easycrafts makes a saatvic chole that look nice and creamy and the secret in chickpea flour.
  • Aparna's chole with cabbage reminds me of cabbage stir fry with chana dal that is loved in most Koli homes.
  • K's Chole for a pressure cooked no masala frying business cooked for 35 mins yet leaving you free no sweat type recipe.
  • Punjabi Chhole! by Anita and some therapeutic masala frying.
  • Read about Meera's experiments with chole and the American Desi accompaniments will make you smile.
Hummm now chole every alternate week. Dad shouldn't crib because it is different ;) Lol.

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