Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sanjeevanam: Vegetarian Health Restaurant

As colorful as a painter's palette: 
Shot glasses of Khajur drink, Cashew milk, Beetroot soup, Mathaa and Ganji.

The raw foods (Rto L): 
Aval puttu, Mix veg salad, Banana pith raita, beetroot salad

The semi-cooked foods (front to back): 
Olan, Ashgourd Kichadi, Pumkin pachadi and Banana flower stir fry

Finally the cooked food

Keerai and Bitter gourd stir fry

Red rice and Avial

White rice and Greens sambhar

Pineapple tomato rasam

Moong dal

Aval payasam

Spoonful of honey

Vegetable paan: minced veggies with nut paste

At Sanjeevanam, Kormangala we walk into a glass enclosed courtyard with a tree at the center. Under the tree we sit at a perfectly set table. Soumiya and Me were there to try the Ayurveda based meal.

This restaurant is from the stables of Cholayil the company that follows ayurvedic traditions in their products, of which the Medimix soap that makes them a known name in every household.

This restaurant is good for a try once, the colorful drinks served in shot glasses is the high point of the meal. The staff carefully explains the order of foods to be consumed, beginning with a slice of banana as the appetizer, the juices to tune the stomach, the raw food, the semi-cooked and finally the cooked food. There is lots of buttermilk and curd to round off the meal. The closure of this formal meal is with a spoon of honey to help digest and a vegetable paan to freshen up the mouth.

Here in Blr. it's a buffet but at their other locations in Ernakulam and Chennai they serve on banana leaves.

What do I say about it? It's one place you will call healthy even when you are dinning out. The food it almost like home cooked, contrary to people's belief that healthy food might taste like bad hospital food; this meal was yummy. My favorites were the shot glasses of drinks, the banana pith raita and the aval payasam. 

The presence of such a restaurant in Blr. shows everything has a place on the foodscapes here. 

Cholayil Sanjeevanam, Kendriya Sadan
Koramangala 2B Block, Koramangala, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560034

Note: Check out the Fab India store housed in the old world bungalow with a courtyard across the road. That should complete your ethic experience. I bought handmade soaps, perfumed oil and lip balm for my Uncle and Aunt.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Awala Supari

In Blr. We get Awala or gooseberry almost all the year round. Yet the Awala in winter is the best. I bought some to make Nellikayi Chitranna and there were at least 5 more left. I had never made Awala supari ever but had seen my aunt make it. It is as simple as chop in to bits, sprinkle salt and dry it in the sun. This fruit does not release much water even after salting so you can just mix the salt into the bite sized pieces in a plate and keep it out in the sun. To get completely dried Awala supari you will have to leave it out for at least 3 days under the strong sun.

Store the dried Awala supari in a clean dry airtight box.

It is tart and salty when eaten as is but drink water after it and you sense the sweetness on the tongue. For people who do not know what is supari, it is mouth fresher. Like you all know that Awala is a power source of vitamin C but in this form it acts as a digestive too.

Go ahead make your own.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Goodbye Ashwath Narayan

My eyes are swollen as I type this. I had to post this today for Ashwath Narayan Uncle, who was an ardent follower of my blogs. I know he will be reading this from wherever he is today. 

I met him first time at Blr. Railway station when we both were there to see off our common friend Late Dr. Appa Athavale way back in 2005-6. Ever since Ashwath Narayan uncle, Parimala aunty, Manasa and Chetan have been family to me. It is so hard to say a final goodbye to him but we did today.

If he has a way he will take a print out of this and show it to the almighty saying read it, Anjali has written it. He had taken copies of my travel journal and distributed to the group with whom he visited North East of India.

Here is an old post of a trip with his clan, they so gracefully include us. I have wonderful memories like these of Ashwath Narayan uncle.

I mourn the loss with you, Parimala aunty, Manasa, Chetan and Kunal (Son-in-law) yet we know he will be watching you all and to me like always I hear him say, "Will watch your blog".

Shree Brahmachaitanya Gondavalekar Maharaj's family of devotees will miss you. Shree Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram.

Goodbye dear friend ~~ fly away and be free ~~

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Divine Connect With Ruhaniyat

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It was a beautiful stage set for a promising evening in the courtyard of Jayamahal Palace Hotel. I had been excited about it ever since I got to know about it through the weekly mail from Bookmyshow. I purchased my tickets 15 days in advance. Such is the reputation of Ruhaniyat.

Ruhaniyat is a festival of Sufi & Mystic Music that travels around India. They visit the 7 major cities in India between November and March. This is their 11th year and I was lucky to be able to make it for the Bangalore performance.

Last night was a beautiful night to experience the divine, not just because I was at Ruhaniyat to listen to the Mystical music but also because of a Celestial event. It was a Lunar eclipse, perfectly timed between 7 pm and 10 pm. We sat there under the trees with the sky above us just turning the night blue. As the host opened the festival she rightly mentioned that it was going to be an evening of Ibadat or worship. In Hinduism we do namasmaran or jap during an eclipse. That oriented us for the evening.

The first performance was by Abdul Rashid Hafiz & group from Kashmir. The evening air was filled with lilting music of the Rubab, Kashmiri Sarangi with the sweet rolling of the words from the Mystic songs in Kashmiri. I wrapped myself up with a shawl, I simply had to stay for the entire night out in this open courtyard I knew it right at the start.

Avdhoot Gandhi from Alandi, Maharashtra and his group performed an Abhanga, Bharud and a Gondhal. Compositions of Savata Mali, Bahina Bai and Eknath Maharaj embellished Avdhoot's powerful singing. This was a performance in my mother tongue so could not stop myself from singing along. The Gondhali got the audience swaying in their seat with his prowess on the Sambal (folk drums) and when they sang praises of Goddess Ambabai, I too joint in the Udho! The Shankhnaad (blowing of the conch shell) elevated the pitch. The host mentioned that Avdhoot Gandhi is a descendant from Shree Dyaneshwar Mauli's Maternal family and the Varkari people's first stop is at his family home. He is blessed and talented too.

On the heels came in the singers Indra and Shakur Khan with their team to present the Sufi Kalams of Bulle Shah and others. Unfailingly the Khadtal player, Daevo Khan was the most popular with his enticing movements. He even did a jugalbandi with the tabla player.

After all the celebratory moods from Maharashtra and Rajasthan, it was the turn of the soul of this whole event Parvathy Baul. She enthralls the audience like none, performing alone on the stage dressed in saffron saree wrapped in Bengali style, her knee length hair worn as Jata. When she sings, pure, sincere and full of Bhaav / emotions is a voice that invokes a connect with the divine. She is this tiny women with a voice that emerges from her belly and a face as innocent as a child. You see that Tandri on her face and your focus turns inwards. She sways with Krishna as she strums her Ek tara and plays the Duggi. She jumps in sheer joy as she says the lord belongs to her and is only hers. Inspite of travelling all over the world performing at big and small festivals, she performs as if this is her only performance. In the entire evening she was the one who gave goosebumps and I experienced the meaning of Ruhaniyat!

We saw the stage being dusted with some powder and we knew what to expect next, ofcourse the Whirling Dervishes. They performed the Sema, a prayer service. We were told not to clap after the performance respecting the Turkish culture and traditions laid down for Sema. The Dervishes walked in slowly and stood in one corner of the stage wearing a black cloak. The ceremony is all about symbolism, they remove the cloak and set out on a journey of spirituality through Sema. The Camel hair hat they wear stands for the ego, the white skirt for the ego's shroud. The whirling is the singular movement in the whole ceremony. It represents revolution, of the circulation of blood, of the revolving universe etc. They start off by bowing towards Mecca and cross hands across the chest, signifying there is only one God and that we have to be one with God. Then as they start whirling they slowly open their hands in delicate moves, bringing them down to the hips and then lifting them slowly upwards the right hand pointing upwards to receive the blessings from God and the left pointing down to the Earth to distribute those blessings to the needy. These dervishes therefore are symbolic medium for the common man to receive the gift from God. The mood of the ceremony was further enhanced by the smell of rose water and incense in the air. When one experiences Sema one realizes the irrelevance of religion to spirituality and I am sure people not exposed to Hinduism will say the same when they see some of our rituals.

During the intermission I looked up at the night sky, it was still shrouded with clouds and I suddenly caught a glimpse of the shadow of the earth just moving out from the moon. The eclipse was coming to an end.

After an intermission the night's last performers, the duo Shameem and Nayeem Ajmeri entertained the audience with some spirited Sufi Qawwali. The cake on the icing was Ghungroo ofcourse for which Shameem Ajmeri has earned much applause. He mesmerized the audience with his bols of the Ghungroo which he does vocally,  the jugalbandi of ghungroo and payal, the sounds of a single ghungroo and the scattering of the ghungroo. There was a demand for once more as this was the last performance for the night and they concluded it with a composition called Rang.

Ruhaniyat is a musical, spiritual, long lasting experience. I would be looking forward to it every year now on...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Chasing Away Sinusitis With Ukala

It is that time of the year when you cuddle up in the rocking chair with Ukala and Sweet bread with a blanket on the knee and book in hand. The book has been replaced by the iPAD now but the warm fuzzy feeling is still derived from the Ukala. I think this wonderful drink is magic also due to the aroma therapy of the volatile oils from the spices.

It is the time of the year when your Sinuses play havoc. One nostril is blocked and the other is warm. I don't like sprays, sniffies and other sinus gear. What I like best is twice a day of this Ukala that makes you warm inside out. The blood rushes caused by the spicy heat from the Ukala gives you that fuzzy feeling you desire most in the cold winters. I like to hold my large cup in both my palms and move it across my forehead while it is still hot. Pure therapy, as I sip on my Ukala the slightly thickened milk slides down my tongue and the heat from the spice hits my throat. The brain senses the nice smoothness and brightens the mood. I have never been a milk lover but this Ukala is an excuse to enjoy it once in a while. The Tryptophan is strong enough to make me doze off peacefully when had just before bedtime.


Ukala Masala
3 tablespoons Black Pepper Corns
1 tablespoon Cardamom pods
2 tablespoons Jyeshtha Madh/ Mulathi powder
1 tablespoon Cloves
2 sticks Cinnamon

In a mortar and pestle powder all the ingredients. Store it in a jar in a dry place. Use 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon of this Masala for your Ukala.

Note: If you do not like fresh ginger or cannot avail it you can include 2 tablespoons of dry ginger powder in this masala, mix well and store.

I use fresh ginger most times so add it to the boiling milk.

300 ml Milk (I like to use Goodlife since it is thicker than other brands)
1/4 teaspoon of the Ukala Masala
1/4 teaspoon Dry Ginger powder
OR 1/4 inch Fresh Ginger
 2 teaspoons of honey

In a clean pot boil Milk and this Ukala Masala, till your milk gets a little thick or gets a faint pinkish tinge. Boil it down to 200ml. Strain, pour into your favorite cup, add honey and mix well. Enjoy the fragrant warm sip.

Many of my friends have come to Blr. for work from warmer places of their birth and the cold here puts them down. Nimmy, Pinka, Jyoti and Aditya this post is for you. Say Cheers with Ukala! 

Tip: This same masala can be used to make a spice tea when boiled with water. To get your strong Masala Chai just add the tea leaves along with this Masala to hot boiling water, brew to your taste and add a splash of milk for the perfect cup.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Paratha Tomato Omelette Roll

Growing up in Fort with a Masjid in the lane meant watching those months of Ramzan convert our lane into a street food court. There have been many recipes I would have learnt if I had paid attention for my home had strategic view of the happenings below in the lane.

There was one which is very easy to recollect due to its simplicity. Though I loved watching it then I hated the smells. Egg does smell awful. Well did you guess I was talking about Baida roti. It is the simplest yet sinful snack. It is a maida paratha on which eggs are broken, onions are thrown on to it along with green chilies and cilantro. This is fried in oil on the Tava. The sizzling making many a men hungry after their prayers. It was a sight to watch them dig their teeth into a supersized roll.

Flash forward, last Sunday as has been the scene in the last few weeks here, I wanted to make something that was a hearty meal without too much prep or leftovers later. This is a perfect recipe for the criteria. One of these rolls stuffs you to the brim. I took the short cut of pulling out a frozen Kerala paratha for this. The rest was almost fast food style cooking.


1 Kerala paratha

On a Tava pour oil, you are frying it so be generous. Pour the tomato omelette batter and put the paratha over it. Fry on both sides till golden and crisp. Remove and wrap it into a roll in either cling film or foil. Hand it out hot to your loved ones and see their faces light up.

I loved stuffing my mouth as I bit into it. The paratha was super crunchy yet flaky and the omelet snug on the paratha with juicy tomatoes. It was a truly heartwarming meal. I had a glass of orange Tang to wash it down. Such a simple lunch became so special.

Those of you who eat egg go ahead and try it with your fave omelet recipe. This veg version is equally delish I tell you.

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