Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Potted Plants and Aval Payasam

Ever since childhood, I was always fascinated by plants, especially the potted ones.Whenever I used to visit someone, my eyes were always drawn to the potted plants that adorned the corners of their humble abodes.Only a few days back could I convince Karthik (my dearest better-half) to get me one of those potted plants that I chanced upon at Kroger.Till then, I had no clue about plants, the one 'keepable' inside the home and the ones on the patio.This potted plant that I got, had a tag hanging on it that had all possible instructions to guide the owner in taking care of the plant.
So there I was beaming, smiles written all over my face, riding home with my first ever potted plant!

This one is my stint with the camera, trying a macro shot of my plant.Green, these days is becoming my favorite color.

As I write this post, I feel I should also include the recipe for Aval Payasam (Poha Kheer) that I made, as today, incidently is Gokulashtami:)

Cooking is something that I've developed a good interest for, ever since I came to the States.Making the same old rasam or sambar everyday ain't my idea of cooking.I always like to try my hand at new things since it drives me to experiment and give my taste buds a nice new feeling each time.

Aval is supposedly Lord Krishna's favorite food as we might all know from the story of Kuselan, Krishna's best friend.How Lord Krishna pops in a few grains of aval in his mouth (given by the poor Kuselan) and and with each grain, the shoddy hut of Kuselan is transformed into a huge mansion, his wife's rags turn into lavish garments and ornaments, all by Lord Krishna's mere generosity and play is a well known story to most Hindus.On this very auspicious day, I tried my hand at aval payasam, a recipe that my MIL suggested I prepare to please the Lord.

Here goes, the ingredients that go into making this simple payasam.

Cooking time:1/2 hour
Aval(thick/thin Poha) - 1 cup
Milk - 2 cups
Jaggery - (1/4 cup)
Elachi powder - 1/2 tsp

For garnish
Ghee - 1 tbsp
A few cashews and raisins

Soak the aval in a bowl of water for about ten min till they turn soft.
Heat milk in a heavy bottomed pan for about ten min on low flame till the milk reduces a little in quantity.
Meanwhile, in another pan, heat the jaggery in half a cup of water, just to make sure the jaggery dissolves in the water.Once the jaggery dissolves, pour this into the milk.
Throw in the elachi powder and stir for about 5 min.Now add the soaked aval and keep stirring on low heat till the payasam thickens well.
Finally fry the cashews and raisins in ghee and throw them into the payasam.Delicious aval payasam is ready to serve.

The thought of this having a payasam made of aval has never really been my cup of tea but the moment I tasted it, I was proved wrong.Trust me the payasam was super delicious and I am saying this only after getting the nod of approval from the husband!

So then, happy cooking and have fun!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Writing beckons..

He climbs up a tree, takes a sneak peak around looking out for intruders, the nut tightly held between the teeth, settles down on a branch the strongest he deems, and cracks open that nut he treasures and devours it. Peace.

That is the kinda feast that's laid in front of me now and oh, I realise, It's spring! The trees are brimming with flowers, the sun is shining warmly across the blue sky, the air however stubborn to welcome the summer, still continues to being what it was-chilly.Beauty fades with time is a fact that has been documented by our ancestors.The young and beautiful never realise every single day greets them with a "hi there! You are a day older today,congratulations!" Tiny, do we realise that something out there still denies this fact, and stays put - Nature.

The green grass dancing to the breeze, the tall trees decorated with flowers swaying their huge hand-like branches,the mighty ocean rolling upto the shore and returning gracefully, the humming of the bee, the pretty butterfly fluttering her colorful wings, the majestic mountains leaning all the way down to take a look at the ground where they stand,the clouds parting with a smile to let the sun shine between them, the refreshing shower from the skies cooling down the scorched up ground,the sweet enchanting smell of wet soil..ah..

Love nature and the creation.Makes me wonder if the whole world was one big painting that someone drew and gave it life- a painting, that can never be reproduced.

I stare into the vastness of the sky, my glance caught between the clouds moving one after another swiftly, as if hurrying to one big shower party elsewhere. Blankness.
Oh and here I realise I am sitting in my patio, doing what I think I do best, writing:) Welcome back Ranjani, seems to say, the glorious setting sun..

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

We want Change?

How many years do we need? Another 50..or is it 100? 60 have already passed in ignorance.Should we wait for another 50? Do we really have the patience? No, I don't.

One look at the roads,the pollution and the population..it annoys me to the core.And the feeling sinks in..a feeling of disgust and disappointment.A country of 110 crore+ people carrying on with their own lives and not giving a shi* about anything!! Incredible!! You could ask Why blame the people,what are the politicians doing..but before pointing a finger at them, what about us..what are we doing?

We hear all the hoopla about plastic pollution and how they clog the drains, are non-biodegradable n so on, but does it bother us? As long as it doesn't affect us directly in anyway why even think about it..huh.

The roads..Well, after all it's the responsibility of the mayor and the municipality to keep them in good shape.Nevertheless, did we ever stop spitting on the roads or stop throwing that empty coke-can or that crumpled-bill-from-the-supermarket out of the car window at the signal? To top it all, there are still people urinating in the open,still worse, right next to the public toilet!! I wouldn't blame the public here (just here).The toilets are in such bad shape that you needn't step into them to get an idea of the stink.All you need to do is walk past them.

And population..this is something to be proud of coz we are The largest democracy in the world! Well ,we won't have any competition here 'cause China, the only country with a population larger than us is already on its way to controlling its population.So we' ll be the rulers here pretty soon.Our ancestors are really appreciable.They were the kingpins when it comes to setting trends for having close to 5-10 siblings.Kudos to them! ..But are we any better? Even now people have more than three kids..what with everything being said and done about population control.

I can go on and on 'cause I am highly frustrated at the plight of our country but People, no one's asking us to go out there, join politics, turn it all upside down and make India like Americaa..All we are required to do is think and act.Starting with simple things.
.take a few plastic covers from home when you head to the supermarket next time.You could really help by saving on those plastic covers.It does make a huge difference.Stop spitting on the roads and throwing trash on the street.Throw trash only inside the big Onyx boxes(yeah i know it's no longer Onyx)on the road.Now com'on lets give the govt some credit.They after all had those huge bins imported from Singapore and placed them on every street for us.But what they probably forgot was that we Indians like to throw garbage only next to the bins and not inside them..how sensible !
Controlling our population is not something easy but we sure can, with the one-child-per-family idea and also probably give a few incentives to families who follow this, like free education for the child till primary school and so on.

I know all this is gonna take a shi* load of time but anything and everything is possible.My dream or rather every Indian's dream out there, is to see cleaner roads, breathe cleaner air and be part of a population that's well-controlled.
I hope two generations down the line, this dream turns a reality.Now don't give that doubtful expression..we definitely aren't asking for too much!

Like a good friend of mine says "America wants change.What India needs is not change.......but a complete Overhaul!"
I second that.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A MakeOver:)

It's been sometime since I decided to give my blog a new look.I think now is the time.Lately I have been travelling quite a lot which gives me the idea of a travelogue. Henceforth my blog will also feature my travel experiences along with other things.So here I am, taking my blog through this immense metamorphosis.
Travelling is something I like and look forward to.If at all something could kick-start my brand new travelogue,MUNNAR it will be-Hands down!For those of you who have never heard of or seen Munnar, here is an insight.
Munnar is a jaw-dropping,magnificent hill station in God's Own Country,Kerala.A four-hour drive from Kochi to Idukki district,Munnar owes its history to the Britishers who took refuge in the plush,green hills during
summer.You could call it the most peaceful hill station in the country,others being populated and frequented by tourists to an extent, that they have lost their charm and purity.Purity,according to me, is synonymous with the cool air you breathe in Munnar.A drive up the hill, early in the morning(as we did)presents the onlooker a spectacular view of the green tea estates on either sides,something which could be the sole speciality of only Munnar.I have been to Darjeeling before,but I bet it was not as blanketed with tea gardens as Munnar was.(Darjeeling is an enchanting destination,but that's another story). You could ask me why a comparison with Darjeeling here? It is because Darjeeling is also famous for its tea industry.
During my stay at Munnar,my camera got no rest; it was clicked continuously at every inch of Munnar I walked through.The picture in front of your of your eyes in so wondrously painted, that you are left in awe.Munnar is a green carpet,you just wont believe me unless you are there yourself.

We made our decision to stay at The Siena Village after going through the write ups about the resort on TripAdvisor.If the drive up the hill is amazing,the drive upto Siena Village is even more breath-taking.Green carpets on either side,this place was heaven for me.Siena Village is something i can never forget in my life.The resort is a beauty in itself.It is set across the mountains,with each cottage giving you a hill-side view.Here are a few pictures of Siena Village.

The Mattupetty Dam set across a lake, is a picnic spot that entertains youngsters with its speed-boat rides to get a glimpse of elephants across its banks.Then there is top station,the highest point where you can go trekking if you wish. There are botanical gardens with a variety of flowers where you can have photo sessions:)And of course lots of view-points in the mountains from where you can pretend to fall and ask your friend to click(make sure you don't really fall,that could be your last photograph:))
Of course loads of streams and waterfalls everywhere that make you go click!click!click!Erivakulam National Park is another place I can never forget.A bus takes tourists to the National Park along narrow roads on the hill-top to the park where you are pushed to the edge of your seats and some timid souls are even seen chanting silent prayers when another bus appears out of nowhere opposite to your bus and all your driver can do is steer the bus towards the edge(i mean the very edge) of the road to let the other bus pass.Phew,that's thrilling!(The pic is on the right).The National Park is another beauty that boasts of Shola grasslands with a wide variety of rare flora and fauna.

On the whole I would rate Munnar as one of the best hill stations that the South can ever offer. The best place for vacation to chill out with your gang or all alone too!

P.S:All pictures in the post are straight from my camera and will remain to be in future.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

On a day that wasn't meant for you..

It never struck us that we were out on the wrong day.Things seemed quite normal and the roads looked busy and crowded as usual.We scurried along the long,buzzing roads and made our way to Little Italy.As soon as we arrived at the reception,we were greeted by the same old receptionist, with her japanese eyes(or chinese?both look the same to me!) and her stereo-type smile.We requested for a table-for-two and she,with a warm apologetic smile,informed us that all the tables were booked and that we had to wait for twenty minutes.We nodded and took our seats at the reception.Well,it was time to take a look around,and do a bit of people-watching.Just as I was planning about what could be done for twenty minutes,my eyes caught the 'already booked' tables.The entire place seemed to have a dim light,seemingly unusual,and there were couples having candle-light dinner.Gosh!It was February 14th.Valentine's Day!I turned around to look at my brother and he was looking at me! We stared and had the same thoughts running in our minds.We fled the place, assuring the receptionist we would be back soon ;-)
And then on,we were patrolling the roads on our bike,looking at every eat-out passing by,making decisions every minute,seeking 'that' place which was least decorated,throwing less tantrums for 'V' day.And,finally after a few minutes of driving,what seemed like hours,we halted at 'kumarakom',a kerala based restaurant.That seemed to be the saviour of the hour.
We had to wait for nearly fifteen minutes before we were allocated a table,and as we walked across to the table,I noticed that most tables were occupied by families(meaning more than 2 people),and very few by couples.This,being the first time at Kumarakom,we looked at the menu card for a long time,and after a few minutes of discussion,finally decided to call the waiter,only to give him a simple order,comprising of aapams,stew,kadala curry(based on the waiter's suggestion)and cream of veg soup for a starter.
The music was jarring(malayalam and tamil songs were being played),with the speaker right next to our table!I turned around to look at how everybody was reacting to this inconvenience,but to my astonishment none seemed to react.It was then that I noticed a guy,holding a mike in his hands,delivering the songs with grace and passion.All along I had thought the songs were being played straight from the cd player.Oh my!He sung like a true professional.His voice matched that of Yesudas.Soon after,he went down on the volume,much to our relief.The service was super-quick,with the dishes making their way on our tables in no time.We,being vegetarians,always have a reluctance in ordering new stuff,in a non-vegetarian restaurant.Since we hadn't tasted kadala curry before,I thought I would wait for my brother to taste it first.(the trickster that I am! ;-))After getting his nod of approval,(oh, it was much more than that.He was closing his eyes and sinking into the taste!my..)I had my first taste of kadala curry.What do I say..It blew me over.It tasted like nectar,or should I say,something my taste buds had never come across.
Aapams followed one after the other,finding their way into our tummies.I ended up having four aapams ; that's a lot for me.It was time for winding up and we were pretty surprised at the bill.It was much lesser than what we had imagined it to be.We tipped the waiter heavily, and as we walked out,we managed to utter the word 'nice' to the guy who rendered his voice to make it a musical evening.We swore to ourselves,that we would recommend Kumarakom,to anyone,who wished a pleasant evening with lip-smacking food!
The post wasn't meant to be so long.Apologies if it made you seek for the last line of the post. ;-)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The road to Kathipara..

It was 9.30 A.M and i was pacing down the road towards kathipara.As i drove,the wind blew hard,and the dust and sand,for which the road is famous for,built up like a hurricane.Very soon,the sand hit my eyes and there i was, letting go of acceleration,rubbing my eyes,trying hard to see,in the middle of the road.This is the case for every driver on the road to kathipara.The junction is well known for traffic and so are the roads leading to it.The saviour that would come into the scene,would be your helmet.It saves your eyes, though at times not your life.The vehicles on the road, race at a minimum of 40kmph, zooming past you,waiting to pull you to the ground,the minute,you drift away. I go through this ordeal every other day since my office is situated on this jeopardous road.The flyover once built would be a breather,atleast to me!

Monday, November 12, 2007

A visit to vedanthangal..

I was on leave for the whole of last week, and the only interesting thing that sprang off the last day was a visit to Vedanthangal yesterday.It is a bird sanctuary,for those of you who haven't heard about it.It is a two-hour drive to the sanctuary which is located at about 85 kms from chennai.The roads were pretty empty since it was a sunday,and the drive was smooth and soft as a baby on our brand new Accent!(heehee, a time to boast ;-)).The road leading to the destination is narrow,and through several small villages.Sometime down the line,it creates a confusion to visitors as to whether the road heads towards a tourist spot or a neighbouring village!There are no sign-boards on the streets that indicate if you are on the right track.You just follow your instinct,and after you travel for about 8 kms,clueless, you start coming across boards telling you which direction to follow.Finally you reach the spot, and it makes you you think if this was the place you were desperately searching for.The entrance looks old and unkempt, and makes the initial impression ugly.However as you take a few strides inside,you beautiful sight appears in front of you.A water body that covers a large area and on the other side of the bank, are shrubs and trees,making a forest,thousands of white birds flocking on them, making it look like a white icing on a green cake!A treat to the eyes,the sight is breathtaking,to watch the migratory birds,from all across the globe,flying in unison across the vast horizons of the sky.The grey heron,spoonbill are some birds that can be caught on the binocular.The place boasts of two watch towers,but both are kept closed on sundays,depriving onlookers,the delight of having a closer look at the birds.The lake surrounding the place houses ducks and naughty monkeys,clinging to the branches of trees and scaring tiny tots that visit the place.Overall, the place is a scenic beauty,if you wouldn't mind the filth or the local hooligans passing unruly comments.A blessing, in disguise, yet to be unveiled!