Friday, September 23, 2011

Breaking Dibba Roti with Kiran

Dibba Roti with Gongura Pickle

Kiran and me had been planning an outing together for a long time. Finally we did make it one sunday. I reached her home early morning at 7 am. We were supposed to have breakfast and then proceed to A Fortress & A Temple for a little trek and and lots of fresh air just on the edge of Bangalore city. 

This is what I love about Blr.,1/2 to 1 hrs drive and we are in rural Blr and with nature. This was never possible in Mumbai. We, that's Kiran and me are both Mumbai born and bred and both have started loving the country side more after we left behind Mumbai and our families, she for marriage and me for the job.

But like anyone from South India we love our idli, many know only the flying saucer shaped ones but there are many types with different shapes and subtle flavors. It was a new learning for me to know that in Andhra the fresh first day fermented batter was used for idli, second day for dosa and third day for Dibba roti. Dibba means thick. Almost like the Gujarati Handvo, its cooked in a deep wok or pan on slow fire. She served it with Tomato chutney.

With her permission I am posting the traditional-use up your idli batter trick here. 

To make Dibba roti you need Idli batter. Grease a deep wok or pan generously with ghee/ oil/ butter. Ladle into the pan about 1 inch to 2 inch batter. Cover and slow cook on gas. It may take a total of 20-30 mins depending on the thickness. If you are not confident if the center is cooked insert a knife and check if it comes out clean and dry. Roast on one side till browned or 10 mins flip over and brown on the other side and roast another 10 mins.This cooks the thick roti thru and thru.

Remove and cut up into pieces with a cutting wheel, quarters look neat. I served this with Gongura pickle for the authentic taste of Andhra.

In Andhra she tells me that this is made really thick in her inlaw's home and a single Dibba roti can feed 10 people.

After a leisurely breakfast we went to the fortress temple where R. K Narayan's Swami and Friends from the TV serial Malgudi days was shot. We walked around and spent couple of hour breathing in the fresh morning air. Then returned to IIMB campus to enjoy a piping hot lunch made by Kiran's cook. 

I was supposed to return home for lunch but we were so chilled out that day that I stayed on and post lunch was treated to a walk around the beautiful IIMB campus, along the SPINE and PERGOLAS and insights on the architecture and history of the campus by the architect in Kiran.

Sharing here the only two pics I took of our day together. Kiran is camera shy and I was shy to take pics of the IIMB campus. 

I'll be gone for a week away from the hustle bustle of the city and smelling the salt laden breeze La Côte d'Azur de l'Est. Until then vous voyez!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tirupati Balaji by Pramod and Charu

This was the Ganpati decoration at Charu and Pramod's home in Mumbai this year. While my bro in-law did the carving of the statue on thermacol, my sister did the jewelery. She bought the raw material from the market and made every single piece of jewelry by hand. We are lucky to have such talent at home. God Bless, Pramod Bhauji and Charu!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Candied Orange Peels

To add zing to your cakes you can make these and stock up. Any thick rind orange can be used. Peel one orange and chop the rind into bits put them in a non stick pan. Add half cup of sugar and mix. Keep the heat low. I almost charred mine so got the caramelized color. Once sugar melts switch off the heat and let it cool. Once cooled break up the bits to separate so they are easy to use when you need it. These can be stored for almost a year in the fridge. I used the candied orange peel in Ginger Infused Zesty Carrot Cake.

These are chewy if eaten as it is but in a cake they rehydrate a bit. Incase you want to have them like a mouth freshener then they can be boiled in water drained and then candied.

These special touches you add to your cakes separates the homemade ones from the bought out glamorously decked cakes.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ginger Infused Zesty Carrot Cake

Experiments are on in full swing to decide on what should be the flavor of the cake for the Birthday boy, ok not a boy, the very eligible bachelor I must say. Bal will be 32 soon and as any other sister I worry about his marriage. It is such a difficult task to find a girl for a boy who has not fallen in love nor been able to choose a girl on his own. Arranged marriage is out of fashion I must say with the internet and men and women mingling freely and more, in places other than just homes. I just pray he should find a girl as soon as possible and setttle down. 

Marriage is so important. I am writing this for those of who do not have anyone to tell them this. Everyone needs a partner, if not now a little later. It has to happen at the right time. Most of us are common people and we have to lead a common life. Experimenting with your life can be risky if not dangerous. Plus you have only one life to live, then why forgo all the fun in the name of career, success etc. One can have both going parallel. It does happen that you are just not destined for marriage but in the end if one tries at least one can say we played our part and the effort did not fructify. Even if marriage is a risky game one has to play it, there is always 50% chance of it being successful. For those of who have seen bad marriages around them, remember each life is designed uniquely by GOD and what happened with your parents, uncles, aunts or siblings is not what will necessarily happen with you.

Wishing all the eligible bachelors and bachelorettes ALL THE BEST!

I sound like a Grandma I know, but won't you have a piece of cake with me?


1/2 cup grated carrots
2 tablespoons of crystallized orange peels
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup Amul Mithai Mate
1/2 cup sugar free
2 teaspoons lime juice
50 ml oil
1/4 water infused with ginger (make a paste of ginger, add water and juice it out thru a sieve)

In a big bowl mix all the dry ingredients first, the flour, baking powder, crystallized orange peels and grated carrots. Mix to coat the carrots shreds and orange peels evenly with the flour. Keep aside.
Now take another bowl and measure out the condensed milk from the Amul Mithai Mate tin. To this add the ginger infused water. Mix once this will also thin the condensed milk. Then add the lime juice to curdle the milk.

Then add the oil and mix vigorously to form a light airy emulsion of milk and oil with an electric blender or beat with hand beater. One more time beat up with sugar free. Now fold in the dry mix we saved. Mix gently folding in one direction.

Now grease the glass bowl and pour the batter. Preheat Microwave for 2 mins on highest power. Now place the bowl in it. Bake for 8 mins. Then switch to convection mode and bake for another 4 mins. Let it cool in the microwave itself for 10 mins. Then turn it over on to the plate.
When it is completely cool and when you are ready to serve pour Amul Mithai Mate over it. Cut up pieces and hand out. 

On its own it is mildly sweet and drenched in Mithai Mate is sweetness intensified for those who do not have to worry about their sugar intake.

This cake also reminded me of Gauri, my friends Anand and Asawari's daughter who learnt to make a carrot cake in her school in Finland when she was barely five. We, that is Gauri, Asawari and me had made it together once almost a year or more ago and we had so much fun doing it. I was quite surprised that in Finland they taught cooking to kids at such a young age.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Guacamole with Cream crackers

The Avocado is a fruit that I have not been lucky with. The first time I had bought it was when Uncle Dheer was visiting about 3 years ago. We were all set to make a lovely salad for the burritos that I had eyed on one of the food sites. I cut it open and like a child was thrilled to see the single round seed. I was amused because the Avocado was pear shaped and the seed was round isn't that natures secret! Yeah, I know small things make me happy. Oh I digress, my friend Sulekha snorts at me when I tell her that am sipping my evening tea in my cane rocking chair with a book in hand by the window and I feel like a princess. Really I am that simple.

Ok, so to continue I sliced the still green avocado and gave it to Uncle Dheer at the same time declaring to him that he was going to taste an exotic fruit! As he popped it into his mouth I saw his face contort. I rushed to give him some jaggery and some water to gulp down the bitterness. Then when I googled I found out that I had to wait till the fruit was all dark brown and when pressed the skin forms a depression. The next time again it was too brown and the seed had got fungus when I cut up. The third time the fruit just went bad in the tray in the pantry. 

Finally this time I was able to use the Avocado for the reason it is most popular, to make Guacamole ofcourse. Well I still feel the fruit is overrated. However may be its greenness is good for us as it is high on antioxidants.

Well actually though I first tried using Avocado in 2008 but I had seen it only after coming to Blr. Here the fruit is called Butter fruit and you will see a lot of people enjoying their Avocado milkshake. How cool is that? It is grown locally and have some other uses in South India that I am not aware of. So go ahead educate me.

I followed this recipe for the Guacamole which is concocted after doing the rounds of ether.


1 ripe and ready to use Avocado
1 Onion chopped fine
1 tomato chopped fine
1 green chili chopped fine
1 clove of garlic
handful of coriander chopped
1/2 a lime 
a large pinch of fresh crushed black pepper
salt to taste

Let me tell you this is as easy as your koshimbir only thing is it is Mexican.

Make sure the Avocado is well browned to ripeness, so you don't get the bitterness. Press the skin and if it stays depressed then it is ready for use. Cut open  the Avocado remove the pretty round seed. Now with a spoon scoop out the pulp. Remove the leathery case which holds the seed. Now in a bowl put the Avocado squeeze the lime juice over it. Mash the Avocado, the juice will help prevent oxidization of the fruit pulp. Now mix in the chopped onion, tomato, chili and crushed garlic. Crush afresh black pepper and sprinkle it over the Guacamole. Finally salt it to your taste and use chopped coriander as sprinkles.

Freshly made tastes best. But I ended up eating for almost 2 -3 days with ofcourse cream crackers.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sprouted Masoor Usal

This is a Marathi usal/ bhaaji with a little bit of my own touch. I sometimes don't like my coconut masala cooked as is traditional. Instead I like to add it just before removing the curry from the heat to keep the freshness of the coconut. This usal is wonderful as an evening snack or with chapati or rice. It can be glamorized to give you a  Sprouts Dahi Misal like this too.


1 cup whole Masoor
1 Onion chopped
1-2 teaspoon Goda Masala
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon oil
salt to

Sprouting Masoor

Wash the masoor thoroughly and soak in water for an hour. Then drain the water and keep in a jar or bowl. it will start sprouting by the next day. Keep it for another day to get longer sprouts.

Coconut Masala
1/4 cup of grated coconut
1 green chili
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
few curry leaves
1/2 lime juice

Prepare the coconut masala by grinding together coconut and green chili. Then heat oil and splutter mustard seeds and add asafoetida and curry leaves. fry till crisp. Put off heat and keep aside.

Heat oil in a vessel, fry chopped onions in it. Then add the sprouted and washed masoor to it. Top up with water enough to just cover the masoor sprouts. Add the Goda Masala, red chili powder, turmeric powder and cooked with cover on.

Salt the usal to perfection and add the coconut masala at this point. Boil vigorously once. Put off the heat to add the lime juice. Mix well. This gives a distinct flavor to the usal of fresh crisp curry leaves, coconut  and lime. 

We enjoyed it last night with soft thin chapatis.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Malai To Toop In The Microwave

I was always intimidated with Toop /ghee making till I found this Microwave method in a cookbook that came with my Samsung Microwave. I salute Karen Anand the writer for making it this easy.

Most books in the past told me I need a heavy bottom large vessel, I required to heat it on the gas and watch it till it boils down to the clear liquid Toop. Then was the cleaning part. I don't have a servant so who will clean the messed vessel? It sounded like a laborious process.

So over the years I just assimilated all the tips about Toop making and only recently, that is to be exact, since a month I have finally started making my own Toop. I was inspired by many of my blogger buddies.You will find many blogs giving steps to make Toop from store bought unsalted butter. You could buy the white butter/ Loni/ Benne from the dairy and use it too. But here it is the age old tradition of Indians of saving whatever you can from being wasted. Till I started making my own Toop, I would skim the milk into a tiny bowl, add sugar to it and hand it out to Dad before the morning tea.

Here is how I do it
  1. I buy 1/2 litre of whole milk everyday, which is enough for 2. I start collecting the skimmed Malai in a 500ml jar on a Monday. This jar goes into to the fridge to which I keep adding the Malai and give a stir in the jar everyday.
  2. At the end of the week by Saturday I have 250 ml Malai, I keep the jar out and let it come to room temperature, about 2 hrs.
  3. Then shake it for 15 mins to make butter like this. I learnt it from Manisha's IFR.
  4. Decant the buttermilk, about 1/4 cup or half cup is what I get. I use it to knead chapati dough.
  5. Then remove the ball of butter/ Loni / Benne into a 1 litre pyrex bowl.
  6. Put the bowl with the Malai into the microwave and set the power at high and microwave in short bursts of 2 mins for a total of 8 mins. Till all the water is evaporated and you have just the Toop/ ghee beginning to separate from the solids. It boils vigorously at this stage, do not worry if it splashes out a bit onto the turntable.
  7. Important: Since Toop/ ghee is inflammable pl. do not go away from the microwave. You have to attend to the entire process, it takes only 10 mins end to end.
  8. Now let the solids go from white to brown in the next 2 mins.
  9. Put off the heat and remove it from the oven and put the bowl on a stand or kitchen napkin. Do not keep it on the stone counter directly. The hot bowl might crack if it touches water or any cold surface.
  10. After the boiling subsides while the Toop/ ghee is still in the liquid stage decant it into a small jar or heat resistant container.
  11. You should get clear golden Toop like below.
  12. Tip: The leftover brown solids can be used in masalas when you grind a paste for curries. It makes the curry khamang! (This is a tip that I remember Va Pu Kale the Katha Kathnakar / Storyteller had mentioned in one of his interviews on Doordarshan when I was a only a child and I still remember it, as I was amazed at this man's talent, he was a fabulous Katha Kathankar, an architect by profession and sounded like a fab cook too.)
  13. Tip: The bowl can be used to reheat leftover curries.
  14. This way you don't waste even a trace of ghee or the by products of the Toop /ghee making.
  15. Since the the quantity of Malai collected at home is very little I use this fragrant pure ghee only for my everyday dal and rice.
This is the perfect traditional married to modern processing recipe. 

This completely homemade Toop /Ghee from Malai is extremely fragrant and pure!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mixed Fruit Trifle

Gautam and Shyam Mama called up to say they were visiting in the evening. The boy had finished his engineering and just started working for a small IT services company. He is traveling  a lot already so when he was in Chennai for work he decided to meet us as he was passing through Blr. I had to make something that would make a Mumbai young man happy. So I served him Onion crackers with tomato salsa and this trifle. He loved both as you don't get those onion crackers in Mumbai and trifle makes anyone happy. Really!


4 Good day biscuits
3 cups Mixed cut fruit bits ( apple, chikoo, banana, pineapple)
1/4 cup Orange juice
2 teaspoon Orange zest
2 cups Free flow Custard
1/2 cup fresh cream
1 tablespoon sugar or substitute
4 orange slices to decorate

For the custard

Use 3 tablespoons of custard powder dissolve in 1/4 cup cold milk. Boil 1/2 litre milk. Mix in the custard paste. Cook for 2-3 mins till thick. Cool completely at room temp and then use for the trifle.

To assemble the trifle. Take 4 glass tumblers or European wine glasses, these make perfect sized servings of this treat. Put 1 Good day biscuit in each. Fill up half of the tumbler with diced mixed fruits. Sprinkle a large pinch of orange zest on it. Use up the 2 teaspoons of zest. Pour the orange juice over the fruits to avoid oxidizing and add the citrusy kick. Pour 1/2 cup of custard into each tumbler. Lastly mix the sugar in the cream and beat it till light. Dollop out the cream into 4 servings. Decorate with sliced orange. Chill for couple of hours and serve.

This dessert is decadent.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Archana's Ale Limbacha Varan

Archana is a new friend yet a very caring one. I met her a year ago at work, we worked together for a quarter and then she went off on maternity leave. When she came back both of us were quite happy to be back together working on our shared assignments. When I was in Mumbai she called me numerous times to check on my health. Many times at work we share our food. She is Punekar and me Mumbaikar so we have many common favorites.

It is difficult to find a Maharashtrian adult who does not like varan. Actually Varan goes thru many phase in a Maharashtrian's life, as a baby you are fed varan-bhat every single day right into toddlerhood. Then you start hating it till you are a full grown adult and then the craving for it sets in all over again. She tells me when she craves for soul food this is the type of varan she makes. It is the kind that makes one want to sit quietly mix it with your fingers meditatively and lap it up.Once she got it in the lunch box and I got to taste it, I had to make it at home.

This is Archana's recipe, a very fragrant mildly spicy from the ginger and a dash of citrusy freshness from the lime. Thus the name Ale/ Ginger and limba/ lime varan. Don't go by the picture. All types of varan look the same but some win your heart like this one. It's so easy and satisfying. You must make it, believe me it's very good.


1 cup cooked Tur dal / split pigeon peas
1/ 2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 green chili finely chopped.
few curry leaves
1 teaspoon ghee
1 inch fresh ginger 
1/2 lime
salt to taste
sugar to taste

Heat Ghee till it melts. Splutter mustard seeds. Follow in with the chopped green chili and curry leaves. Add the turmeric powder. Transfer the cooked tur dal. Add water to make a varan of the consistency you enjoy. Boil it vigorously with salt and sugar. Now just before you remove it from the stove. Crush the ginger to a fine paste, add a tablespoon of water to it and strain it thru a sieve directly into the boiling dal. Squeeze out the juice. Now squeeze the lime juice into the dal. Put off the heat and stir well.

Serve hot over steamed rice with a generous spoon of ghee if you like it and are permitted to have it. Enjoy the freshness of ginger and lime.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Manchurian of the Bangalore Kind

The aftermath of festivals is that you crave for spicy strong smelling food after the overdose of sweets. Actually we did not make many sweets just the 21 modaks for naivedhya on Ganesh Chaturthi but we were eating them for lunch and dinner for 3 days after it and that too after sharing 5 modaks with our neighbors. I expected some friends to visit but no one came so there we were having a modak a meal for 3 days. I hope my scale does not show sign of weight gain. I have been controlled about any kind of gorging on food inspite of it my calorie intake shot up by almost 300-400 cals/day.

Yes but I finally caved in to this craving. We visited the Dodda Ganesha in Basavangudi, he was so heavily decked up in flowers that if it was not for his belly we would not have known which diety it is ;):P While we walked by BMS college and reached Kamat, Bugle Rock where we got our dose of filter kaapi we had inhaled enough of machurian being fried. I had a pack of baby corn in the fridge that suited well for this temptation. 

I was first introduced to Manchurian when I came to Blr for my SAP training at the Sapient College by our friend Govindan Uncle. He took us for lunch to a little restaurant in Unity Building compound and I was amazed at its taste and at how cheap food was in Blr back then in 2001. Once my bro Hrushi was travelling from Chennai to Mumbai and on my recommendation he broke his journey at Blr to just the taste Manchurian, Gobi Manchurian I remember.

Well later I found out that depending on the batter fried vegetable nuggets the manchurian got its name of Gobi, Mushroom and this Baby corn. Each has a distinct taste and yet the sauce is the overwhelming flavor of ginger garlic and soya sauce. Bangalorians are crazy about their manchurian and I think this Gobi manchurian is their creation. It is to Bangalorian what vada pav is to Mumbaikars. There are carts at the end of every street selling fiery red colored manchurian. The color dangerous from artificial sources yet the smells enticing.

For such a treat it is a fairly easy recipe to follow though a little lengthy. Do try it when the weather is cold or you simpbly need to perk up your mood.


For the nuggets

1.5 cups diced baby corn/ gobi/ mushroom 
(any one vegetable or for a mixed version all three)
1/4 cup maida/ all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ginger garlic crushed 
1 tablespoon chili soya sauce 
(or soya sauce + 1/2 teaspoon chili powder)
salt to taste
Oil to deep fry

In a bowl measure out the maida. Add the chili soya sauce and the crushed ginger garlic. Adjust the salt as soya sauce will already have some salt. Add water about 250 ml and make a batter. The batter should just coat the  vegetable nuggets. 

Heat oil in a wok to smoking point and then reduce it to medium. Drop the nuggets coated in the batter into the hot oil and fry till crisp and golden. Remove the fried nuggets onto a mesh and let them drain. Fry all the remaining nuggets. Save the extra batter for the sauce.

For the sauce

1 cup of shredded cabbage + carrot
a handful of sliced Capsicum (I did not have it so skipped it)
1/2 spring onions (I did not have it so skipped it)
1 teaspoon ginger garlic crushed
2 tablespoon batter
1 tablespoon dark soya sauce
3-4 tablespoons tomato ketchup
2 teaspoon oil
2 slit green chilies
salt to taste

Remove the excess oil from the wok used for frying the nuggets. Use it for making the sauce. Measure out 2 teaspoons oil. Stir fry the slit green chilies, follow in with ginger garlic crush. Keep the heat high. Add the shredded vegetables and sliced capsicum. Stir fry for 2-3 mins. As the cabbage gets crisp and the carrot just turns a shade darker add the spring onions. Now add the batter from above step that we had saved, about 2 tablespoons, top up with a glass of water and stir, let the sauce thicken. While it bubbles add the dark soya sauce and ketchup and mix thoroughly with a whisking action. Adjust the salt. I do not add sugar as the ketchup has a sweetness that balances the flavors in this recipe. 

While this boils for 2 mins quickly separate out the fried nuggets if they are stuck together before you add to the sauce. This recipe is of a dry manchurian and separating the nuggets allows it to be picked up by a toothpick easily when served.

Once it gets a glaze put of the heat. Mix in the fried nuggets. Plate it and prick toothpicks into the manchurian. Serve it hot. It tastes best when fresh and hot. Enjoy the very Indian with a dash of Chinese fusion food!

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Sabudana Thalipeeth

Since the 31st was a holiday I stayed up reading on the net late into the night, waking up at 10.30 am. It is a feat for me because I am early riser. As soon as I woke up I noticed on the Kalanirnay panchang that it was Hartalika on the day. I thought any ways half the day I have slept through so the rest of the day I might as well fast. I had soaked sabudana/ sago the previous night thinking that it is Chaturthi on the 31st, I completely forgot that it was Eid on the day and so we had holiday. Thus I decided to fast for Hartalika. I made Microwave Sabudana Khichadi as shown by Nupur. It turned out great and was done in just 2 teaspoons of oil and have concluded that this is the only way sabudana khichadi should be made! No worries about it becoming a gooey inedible mess.

Later on the 1st I ran out of sabudana and I was supposed to fast for Ganesh Chaturthi. Early in the morning as we were preparing for the pooja, I requested Dad to go down to Reliance fresh and get sabudana as soon as they open up. Else we would have to eat just Potato bhaaji for the half day fast. My Dad at the stroke of 8 ran down and got the sabudana. I immediately soaked it in luke warm water knowing that I could let it rest for a cool 4 hrs before I made it into anything. I noticed the luke warm water had kind of cooked tha sabudana a bit and I had to drain the extra water to avoid getting sticky sabudana. I decided to make Sabudana Thalipeeth. I think this thalipeeth came into being when the sabudana decided to take revenge on the khichadi maker. The recipe is forgiving, unlike the sabudana khichadi recipe that needs perfectly soaked pearls. The thalipeeth satisfies the craving for Sabudana Vadas with its crispness without giving you the guilt of deep frying.

1 cup sabudana/ sago
4 medium potatoes bolied
2 green chilies finely chopped
1/2 cup crushed peanuts
Ghee to shallow fry
2 teaspoon cumin seeds
salt to taste

In a large bowl put all the ingredients together and knead into a dough. Keep aside.

Take 2 non stick pans and grease them with ghee. Now divide the dough into 4 large parts. Each will yield a chapati sized thalipeeth. Take one part and roll into a ball. Now press the ball onto the greased frying pan. Wet your hand with water and spread the dough thin without creating cracks and holes. Cover and cook on medium heat till the sabudana looks translucent. Check if it has turned golden on the lower side by lifting it slightly with a spatula. If it is golden then it should turn over easily. If you do not want it crisp and want to keep it soft cover with a plate and overturn the pan then slide it back into the pan to toast up the otherside. Use up the remaining dough.When cooked from both sides serve hot with coconut chutney or curd. I like mine toasted crisp and Dad his semi soft.

Serves: 3-4 people

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Ganpati Kavach at Dive Agar

This is a mask of Ganpati idol or as in Sanskrit, it is a kavach that must have decorated a stone idol. It is made of 24 Karat gold and weighs1.325 kgs. It was excavated from a bettlenut orchard in Dive Agar by Shrimati Draupadi Dharma Patil. The copper casket that contained it has a inscription of  Friday,10th Nov 1060. This mask therefore dates to an earlier date is what is common sense. Just this reference makes it atleast 950 yrs today. It must have been buried for safe keeping during the downfall of the Peshwas. Note the simha or lion on the crown which indicates it could have been crafted in the south. The Son-Chapha flower on the forehead and the ears is so distinctive. Also the mango bugdi (ear accessory) and the shoulder is worth the note. This picture is a souvenir from the trip to Hari Hareshwar and Diveagar with family. Some things you share at the right time so here it is for your darshan in this season of the Ganpati festival.

As promised here is Deesha sharing the naivedya of Chakli her MIL made for Ganpati. This shot of Chakli with the brass Pali/ spoon used for tirtha makes it look divine.

Chakli for Lord Ganesha

Friday, September 02, 2011

Krishna Baba's Hrushichi Bhaaji

There are some people who touch your life in a very special spiritual way. It takes time for you to talk about it in public but I do feel like sharing it here now.

Krishna Baba, was an ascetic who lived in the jungles of Siddeshwar on the Alibag-Mumbai route. For my father and many of his friends who grew up in Thal, visiting Siddeshwar temple was a picnic they loved. My father does not recollect when Krishna Baba came to Siddeshwar and established a math near the spring that flows below the temple on the hillside. However what he does remember is that Krishna baba encouraged him to read about J. Krihnamurthy and other spiritual leaders. Baba used to tell he was in Chaul Datta Mandir before he came to Siddeshwar.

He was very old, tall and thin, he sported a withered beard. He said Satya Sai baba was his guru, however I remember in the picture Satya Sai was very young, a man in the late twenties or early thirties may be. Satya Sai was a godman of the masses where as Krishna Baba was a recluse ascetic. I have sweet memories of Krishna Baba that I will never forget.

One of the incidents I remember is of the visit to Siddeshwar with my father and uncle during Ganpati festival. I was only a child then. We started from Thal home by the 5.30 am bus and alighted at the Khandale bus stop. No confusing this Khandale with the hill station Khandala on Pune highway. This is a tiny village in Alibag Taluka. We walked through a small path thru paddy fields and Ivy gourd vines till the foothills of the Siddeshwar jungle. There are some old steps that you can climb and then the path is a really narrow. It is part of the Trek path to Sagargad. Since childhood till date it is one of the treks that not just my family but Thalkars and many villagers in the surrounding area enjoy. In the monsoons the single person paths are slippery and one has to watch out for insects and reptiles. We reached up to the Shankar temple in 45 mins washed our hands and feet and took darshan of the Linga in the dark sanct sanctorium. Then my father and uncle gave out a jungle call, "Siddeshwar Maharaj ki Jai, Bum bum Bhole nath" to which Krishna Baba responded. The silence of the jungle reverberated with the Jai ghosh.

Narayan! Madhav! aao beta~~ said Baba as we walked into his thatched hut. I removed my footwear and sat next to the Dhumi, a furnace pit, that most ascetic light up to keep themselves warm. Siddeshwar in monsoons has very high humidity and can make one really cold. After glasses of chai made by Maai, Baba's only companion in the jungle, my father and uncle sat around to discuss spiritual things with Baba. I stepped out and wanted to explore the well and the spring nearby. In one corner were some fresh Kokum skins strewn, I glanced towards the direction and gave out a cry! There was a cobra with a perfect hood ready to hiss at me. I had trespassed I knew. Baba came out and told the cobra, "Chale jaa, bacchi hai" and it went away. Krishna baba had other friends too I got to know later. After this everyone came out and decided to sit on the wall of the well which was located in front of the hut. There was an iron bucket filled with water. Baba told us that they filled the bucket of water for the tiger that visited them at night! They had to be careful about the cows. He had to bring them into the shed else the tiger would feast on them at night. Inspite of these stories I still enjoyed my treks to Siddeshwar, once or twice a year as a child.

While  we were climbing the hill, my father expressed the wish of eating idlis. Now how in the world would you get idlis in a jungle. It must have been a sunday as in my family we had started making idlis for sunday breakfast and my Dad was missing it. It was considered fancy food then, in Maharashtrian families. Even in Alibag it was not possible to get idlis in a restaraunt, not that there were many around. Lo! we were served idlis for breakfast by Krishna baba, hot steaming ones with chutney and sambar on a large leaf, picked from a nearby kitchen garden patch. It was not a banana leaf but a large round leaf something like a lotus leaf. It was such a frivilous wish my Dad had and we believe that this was a divine act. In the middle of the jungle, an ascetic who does not have grocery supplies serving us perfectly soft idlis with so much love. What can one say!

At noon Krishna Baba insisted we have lunch too. He was talking to us all the while and in a jiffy he rushed insides and came out with a huge mound of Hrushichi bhaaji served on the leaves. He laid each leaf in front of us and coaxed us, Khao beta, Khao~ I was so young and told Dad that I will not be able to finish the heap, so Dad tried to tell Baba to reduce the serving. He simply said, "she will finish it". I did! This was followed by glasses of fresh Kokum sarbat. The Hrushichi Bhaaji was a divine taste, I still recollect, it was reminiscent of slow cooking on the embers of mixed leafy vegetables, it also had colocasia leaves. It was tart and mixed with freshly grated coconut. Light yet delectable, the taste still lingers in my memory. I know I will never be able to recreate it, because it was touched and blessed by Krishna Baba and I do not have embers in my kitchen.

I am an adult, I have a terrible analytical mind. I do not accept miracles, I try to reason and do not get answers. In the end loosing my mind. I was better off as a child, I accepted the grace of pious men in my life easily then.

It is Hrushi Panchami today and every Hrushi Panchami I remember Krishna Baba who is now in samadhi.

Sharing here the recipe of Krishna Baba's Hrushichi bhaaji. You must read this post on the Hrushichi Bhaaji that is made in my Thal home to understand why it has this peculiar name. The bhaaji I make here today is in the name of that memory of Krishna Baba, in his style but adapted to the ingredients available here in Blr at this time and cooking on the gas stove.

1 bunch each of any 5 leafy greens, cleaned and chopped fine.
( I used Spinach/ Palak, Chauli , Maath/Amaranth, Dill/ Shepu, Fenugreek/Methi)
1/2 cup grated coconut
1 teaspoon oil
1 large pinch amchur/ dry mango powder
salt to taste

Heat oil preferably in an iron kadhai. Add  the chopped green leaves and salt, stir till wilted and cooked. Leave them slightly crunchy. It should not take more than 7-8 mins to cook. Put off the gas and mix in the amchur and grated coconut. 

Serve hot on a banana leaf real or steel :D

Yields: 3 cups after cooking.

Tip: Iron Kadhai is best from cooking green leafy vegetables. You won't need iron supplements if this is done in regular cooking.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Ganpati Bappa Morya! Mangal Murti Morya!!

Deepa Jyoti
Durva, Paan, Supari, Phule, Halad, Kunku, Akshata
@ 12.00 noon

Just finished the pooja and aarti. Chauri is ready, Ukad is made, Bappa's favorite Modak in the making. This year's modak are special as am using Nolen Gur ie Khajur Gul. I am fasting and feasting, Sabudana Thalipith is on the menu. Peace and Happiness.

@3.00 pm: Today's naivedya: 21 modaks, Sabudana Thalipith and curd

On Trail