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May 31, 2012

Twilight Hours - Part III


Good Evening!

Hope you enjoyed Part-I and Part-II of my twilight hours.

.......

Evening hours if you get a light cool breeze there is nothing like it to lift your spirits after a tiring day.

The evening walks in the park is full of pleasure as I see different coloured flower beds, the green grass, new plants, a small pond and active pigeons, kids playing and lot more happenings. 

 


Who will not love to walk through this winding path surrounded by greenery & filled with chirping of birds!



In each and every tree lot of birds comes to rest in the evenings at their reserved branches. Large number of sparrows occupy single small trees and make continuous chirps till it gets dark. Once the sun sets, you will never know that there are so many little things residing in that tree.....they maintain such a pin drop silence! .....

Twilight is the time for bats.....yes, small & big they emerge suddenly from somewhere. They fly in the air catching insects.....you can see them flying everywhere swiftly busy eating & successfully navigating in the air without hitting any hurdle on their path.

Slowly nocturnal life comes alive with the cricket's stridulation. The shrill voice they make fills the air giving the night its unique music of different notes.

Sorry folks, i couldn't catch the photo of the flying bats, owls etc though I see them. Will try capture the shots soon :-)


The evening in the beach is truely lovable. I enjoyed every minute watching the light, fading slowly ,with the sun setting near the horizon.  The breeze becomes so cool, height of waves, rising....... sharing with you a sunset shot I had taken by beach side.....the silhouette of the landscape next to the beach...



Imagine you are standing in the beach, letting the small waves wet your feet and this beautiful scene in front of you......
While you admire the beauty, here is another beautiful song scored by Maestro Illayaraja that plays in my mindsmiley .....language?! no problem. Just enjoy the music  mozart



drums Thanks for being with me through the beautiful twilight hours happy wish you all a pleasant evening.


May 30, 2012

Twilight Hours Part - II


Hope you enjoyed my Twilight Hours Part - I and shots taken on a cloudy evening.

A cool morning hours when the nature set chirp tone alarm wakes me up, nothing like it for a good start of a day. After taking my cup of coffee I come and stand near the window looking at the greenery beneath and hearing the happy greetings of folks from bushes and trees.


To see the sun rise in the east is a feast to eyes like a sunset. But the later  gives a cool night hence the pleasure stays long.

here are some sunrise photos 





a foggy morning......the chikoo fruit hanging from the trees seen clearly through the passing fog. It caught my attention so here it is for you.





continued....


May 27, 2012

Twilight hours Part - I

The dawn and dusk are the two most beautiful hours that god has gifted us with every day. The sky changes its look & shade every minute. I always enjoyed an evening drive or sitting in the terrace & watching sky throwing hues of colours while the sun rise or set.

The trees or buildings get into a shadow painting with a orange or light pink background which keeps changing.

Yesterday evening it was cloudy. The monsoon clouds have started passing by our land. Yesterday I happened to see a landing plane with the rain clouds background and it captured my heart so had it stored in my mobile to share with you.

Here are those clicks.





A melodious song scored by mastero ilayaraja from a tamil picture 'Nizhalgal' (shadows) of '80s runs in my mind.  Here sharing the link to that song.



If you can understand tamizh it will add more life into the song while you hear.  If you don't still you will be able to enjoy it as music is an universal language. Listen to the back ground music, the chirpings of the birds, the pictresque evening sky, etc...

.........continued ... :-) please click the links given below to read them

Twilight Hours Part - II

Twilight Hours Part-III 


May 22, 2012

Vellai Appam without coconut and yeast

Many of the southindian breakfast menu is made using rice in different forms as carbohydrate is very necessary to start the day energetically.

Vellai Appam, is a spongy soft breakfast dish from the God's own country - Kerala. The sides are thin and the centre will be thick and spongy in texture as well as in feel. The recipe I share here is got from my friend which is prepared without coconut or yeast. Mostly coconut is ground along with the soaked rice to which the water from coconut is added. This kind of appam tastes different & good in its own way.


If you don't have coconut or feeling lethargic yet want to enjoy the appam, here is the simple preparation. Few tips are also added then and there to guide you to make a flawless spongy appams :-


There is a special  wok in which it is prepared. The wok is made of iron and comes with a lid. If you don't have the wok AKA 'appa chatti' don't worry, you can still make it using a non-stick tava or pan.




Ingridients : (serves 3)

  1. Raw rice - 1 cup
  2. Boiled rice - 1 cup
  3. Urad white - 1 tbsp
  4. Fenugreek - 1/2 tsp
  5. Salt to taste
  6. sugar - 1 tsp
You may also need a wok (or a non-stick pan), a clean thick kitchen towel to handle the wok, a spatula with sharp thin end to take the appam out of the wok.

Procedure :-
  • Soak  the ingridients from 1 to 4 together for 4 hours. 
  •  Adding water, grind it to a smooth paste of dosa batter consistency.
  • Mix in the required salt
  •  Let it ferment for 6 to 8 hours (if your geographical location slows down the fermentation process, then add a tbsp of fermented dosa batter if you have in stock. if not, then don't worry add in a tsp of baking powder before you make appams but let the batter stand for 8 hrs) 
  • Grease the wok, heat it, pour in 1 1/2 laddle of batter, using the kitchen towel lift the wok and rotate it clockwise & anti clockwise so that the batter spreads all over and gives a thin end & a thick centre. 
  • Cover it with a lid and let it cook for a minute or two. Check it by lifting the lid. The centre of the appam will be thick and spongy. When the centre portion is cooked, remove it with a spatula. 



May 19, 2012

Vegetable Stew / ishtoo

An atomatic coconut milk based dish which goes well with white rice and vellai appam. It is a dish from the God's own country hence cooked using coconut oil. The vegetables that make the dish colourful are Potato, Carrot, French Beans, Green pea (optional). Let us get into the cooking of this wonderful dish which makes you go gastronomic spreading the flavour in the air.




Ingridients : (serves 3)

  1. Onion - 1 No. (big)
  2. Potato - 2 nos. (big)
  3. Carrots - 3 nos. (medium) 
  4. French Beans - 10 nos
  5. Coconut milk - 3 tbsp (if you use coconut milk powder, then add 3 tbsp powder)
  6. Salt to taste
  7. Ginger - 1.5" stick
  8. Green Chillies - 3 nos (or as you prefer)
  9. Coconut oil - 2 tbsp
  10. curry leaves - 5 nos.
  11. Water

Procedure :-

  • Chop the onions. chop carrot, potato, french beans into an inch long sthick pieces. Finely chop ginger and slit the green chillies (if you love spicy dish, then finely chop them)
  • I normally dessed the green chillies hence used 3nos.
  • Heat oil in a wok, add finely chopped ginger and green chillies. saute for 30 seconds.
  • Add chopped onions, fry till onions become translucent
  • add the curry leaves, chopped vegetables, salt and water (4.5 cups)
  • mix well, keep it covered and cook till the vegetables become tender. mash few pieces of potatoes to give little thickness to the gravy.
  • Add coconut milk, mix well and do not boil for long. Just stir in for a minute, remove from flame.
  • If you are using coconut milkpowder then to the powder add warm water, mix well till it becomes creamy, then add it to the vegetable stew, mix well, boil for a minute.
  • Aromatic, delicious, colourful vegetable stew (ishtoo) is ready to accompany white rice or Vellai appams.



May 18, 2012

Beetroot Soup

Beetroot, the root vegetable is dark purple in colour. The leaf with stem as well as the root are fit to eat. Can be eaten raw, parboiled or cooked. Goes in salads, sandwich, Soup, Juice, Cutlet / Tikki, Dry side dish, Gravy (sambar), Variety Rice.

Beetroot is rich in anti-oxidants, Iron, Sodium, Potassium, Vitamin B, Calcium etc. Very good to improve anaemic conditions. Helps reduce high BP when consumed with less salt. The iron content in beetroot will not create constipation.

Beetroot takes more time to digest compared to normal vegetable so those who have poor digestion, don't take it at night times. You can drink a soup, juice made of beetroot to get its health benefits. 

To suit children and old people, I advise, after cleaning and peeling, pressure cook the whole beetroot till 4 to 5 whistles. Then grate or chop and use. This way it will be easy for them to digest.

How to Select :- Should be blemish free, smooth skin, good shape. The tip of the beetroot (when the stem is cut) will show you how much fresh the beetroot is.

How to store : If you buy it as a whole plant, then cut leaving a stem of 5" above the root and store for 4 to 5 days in refrigerator or at room temperature. With leaves, if you wrap in a cloth cover can be stored fresh for two days in the refrigerator.



Now let us get on making the wonderful health soup


Ingridients :- (serves 2)

  1. Beetroot - 1 big
  2. Shallots - 5 nos (small onions/baby onions) - optional
  3. Salt to taste
  4. Water - 2 and half cups
Procedure :

  • Wash the beetroot and peel the skin.

  • Dice it into cubes, pour two & half cups of water, boil it. [Pressure cook it (whole beetroot - don't cut) till 4 to 5 whistles if preparing for young children and old people. ]
  • Allow it to cool. in the mean time, clean the shallot (small onion) chop.
  • In a small pan, add few drops of oil (only few drops - just enough to lightly grease the onions) and fry till they become transparent. [I use coconut oil as we prefer that flavour]
  • Now take out the beetroot cubes (preserve the water), in a blender or mixer grind the fried onions and boiled beetroot cubes together to a smooth paste.
  • Transfer the ground contents to a vessel. Add the preserved water (in which beetroot is boiled) and salt to taste. 
  • If you want to dilute it further, you can adjust the consistency by adding more water little by little.
  • Bring to boil, remove from fire.
  • Healthy, Yummy beetroot soup is ready.


Note :

Adding onion will give a nice flavour to the soup. If you don't like onions avoid it and go ahead & enjoy your soup. Small onions have medicinal values hence I prefer to use small onion in the recipe.

May 17, 2012

Milk Kheer / Paal Paayasam/ Paalada Pradhaman

A simple sweet dish which suits any occasions using milk, sugar, white rice / rice ada.


The speciality of the dish is the aroma, colour and taste which arises during the process of caramelising the milk  in a pressure cooker / stove top. Stove top demands continuous stirring. You can save your labour and time yet get the same tasty payasam using pressure cooking method.

To avoid spillage inside the cooker, put a heavy bowl inside the payasam.

It takes some time to make this dish to perfection but the taste and appreciation is worth all the sweat you have put in with love and dedication.

Rice ada (you get in all kerala stores), boil water, put off flame, wash ada and put it into the hot water, keep it covered for 10 minutes. Drain, wash in cold water, leave it to drain.

Ingridients

  1. Milk - 1 litre
  2. Rice Ada - 1 cup (or white rice)
  3. Sugar - 3 tea cups sugar or more as per your preference
  4. Water
Procedure :-

  •  Prepare the rice or rice ada as mentioned above.
  • In a pressure cooker,  keep the vessel of milk, put a heavy katori / bowl / spoon (should be heavy) inside to prevent spilling. put the weight. When pressure builds up, lower the flame and cook for 25 minutes.
  • this slow cooking process will help the milk caramelise. This saves your labour of stirring continuously which is must when cooked on a stove top.
  • When the pressure comes down, open the cooker, take out the vessel. Now the milk would have turned into pink colour.
  • To that Add the prepared rice or ada, cook on stove top stirring frequently (to prevent getting burnt) on low flame for 15 more minutes as the ada or rice added should become transparent and be seen through the pink coloured milk. [don't think it is labourious. you are spending only 15 min]
  • then put off the flame. sit comfortably under a fan, and keep stirring for another 10 minutes [this work you can give it to your children or your husband ;-) ] At this time, you can even adjust the sugar level if you prefer more sweet.
  • Then to prevent malai (paaledu) forming on top, take a big kadai, pour normal water in it, keep the vessel with kheer inside (partially immersed) for another 10 minutes which will reduce the heat further thus prevent the malai formation and also brings it to the temeperature fit to consume.
  • Your yummy paal paayasam / milk kheer is ready. 
Note :
  • This kind of kheer don't require tempering of nuts & raisins in ghee
  • It will not get spoilt easily
  • If served chilled - makes a very very yummy dessert


Variety of payasams that we can make using this caramelising method is Rice, Semiya (seviyan) and Sabudana.
If you are using semiya, cook the milk separately in the pressure cooker as per the method mentioned below and cook semiya separately. finally remove from stove, add milk, semiya, sugar, cardamom powder together and mix.

If you use rice, cook white rice separately (grains should be separate). I use draining method.

Now to the economy part. How you can utilise the less quantity of milk wisely when you have more fans?

Follow the same process. After you pressure cook it slowly, before adding the rice or ada, dilute it by adding water (not too much), say 3 tea cups of water for 1 litre milk, then dissolve some corn starch (this you have to measure as per the consistency required. I advise 1 tbsp for 2 cups of water). boil well then add the cooked rice or ada and boil till the ada or the rice becomes transparent.

Cornflour (corn starch) will not spoil the taste but give you right consistency (thickness) to the kheer thus balance the water you added into the reduced milk preserving its taste and aroma.

May 16, 2012

Beetroot Cutlet / Beetroot Tikki

Indian Coffee House @ Kozhikode is very famous for its yummy cutlets. The speciality is that they use beetroot as one of the ingridient for the cutlet which is accompanied by Beetroot based sauce. The waiters in their traditional uniform with a fanned turban on head moves swiftly catering to the needs. You cannot expect a good ambience but decent & cozy place which serves you food at nominal rates.

This unique recipe with its combination of spices, colour, delicious taste leave you drool and crave for more. I tried to make the cutlet many a times at home and finally got somewhat similar to that yet delicious in its own way.

Sharing with you an interesting recipe for this yummy cutlet. I used brown bread as an healthy option.





Ingridients :- (makes 7 nos)

  1. Beetroot - 1 No. (small)
  2. Potato - 2 Nos. (medium)
  3. Onion - 1 No. (big)
  4. Ginger - 1" Piece
  5. Garlic - 4 pods (medium)
  6. Brown Bread - 5 slices
  7. Chopped mint leaves - 1 tsp
  8. Chopped coriander leaves - 2 tsp
  9. Green Chillies - 3 nos. or as per preference
  10. Cinnamon - 1" stick
  11. Cardamom - 1 No.
  12. Cloves - 3 Nos
  13. Bay leaf - 1 No. (small)
  14. Coriander Powder - 1 tsp
  15. Cumin Powder - 1/2 tsp
  16. Salt to taste
  17. Oil for sauteing and tempering

 Procedure :-

  • Pressure cook Potato and beetroot till 3 whistles
  • Dry roast, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaf and cloves, powder it & keep ready
  • Finely chop ginger, garlic, onion, green chillies, mint leaves and coriander leaves
  • Sprinkle water over the brown bread, leave it for a minute, then nicely knead it like you do with chapathi dough, keep ready.
  • Heat a tsp of oil in a wok, add chopped onion, fry till it becomes transparent, then add ginger, garlic and saute well for two minutes, cool down and grind it to a paste
  • Peel the potatoes. Dice the beetroot and one & half potato
  • Grate the remaining half of potato and few diced cubes of beetroot
  • To that add salt, mix well
  • Heat 3 tsp oil, add the ground paste, powdered masala, Coriander powder and Cumin Powder and fry for a minute
  • Add the potato beetroot mixture and fry for a minute
  • Add chopped mint leaves and coriander leaves, mix well
  • Keep it covered and cook for 5 minutes (by removing and stirring it occasionally to prevent burning)
  • Allow the mixture to cool

  • Make equal sized balls
  • now take a portion of the bread dough, like paratha stuffing, make a bowl shape, place a portion of beetroot stuffing, close, roll and slightly flatten
  • Grease a non-stick pan or tava,  place the prepared cutlets or tikkis over it, pour a tbsp of oil around it, cook over medium flame.
  • When one side is done, flip it and cook the other side too till the crust turns golden brown in colour.

 

Method - II

  • If you don't have ready stock of brown bread, then prepare the beetroot stuffing as mentioned above.
  • In a plate spread some cornflour (corn starch)
  • lightly coat the shaped cutlets with the corn starch and roast it on tava as mentioned above.



May 11, 2012

Beating the Heat - Naturally





Summer is ON. We are in the peak period of the season known as 'Agninatchatram' or 'Kathiri veyyil'. Let us see how we can beat this summer.


  1. Lemon Juice + ground mint leaves + blacksalt + sugar = excellent summer cooler
  2. Panagam is also good (jaggery water + elachi powder + Dry ginger powder + lemon juice)
  3. Buttermilk
  4. Pazhayadhu
  5. Tender Coconut is the nature's best energy drink
  6. Soak methi seeds overnight and have it along with curd in the morning
  7. Milkshakes, smoothies using fruits
  8. Cucumber, watermelon, muskmelon are good
  9. Fresh juices garden
  10. Gulkand (made using good quality edible roses)
  11. Root herbs like nannari in sherbet form is available in the market
  12. Onion is very good so can include that in raita form (raw onions)
  13. Ice apple (eng) / nungu (tamizh) / Tari (hindi) / Tadgola (marathi) and the Juice called Nira (marathi) or Padhaneer (tamizh) is also very good to beat the heat. The juice is pungent hence you can dilute it adding water, add in some sugar and drink. (check wikipedie for more info Borassus flabellifer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
 
  • Bathe twice a day washing the bath before you hit bed will give you a nice sleep.
  • If you like short haircuts, go for it as this is the best season. Easy to clean & maintain.
  • use cotton dresses. smiley Try to avoid wearing tight wears. 
 
  • Keep a towel always handy to dry your hair if you sweat excess. this will also prevent from catching cold during a hot summer day.
  • Ladies, Minimise your time in  the kitchen by bringing in raw salads, easy to cook receipes, fruit shakes, sandwiches,  Raita etc into your menu which will save you as well as healthy for your family.
  • Always carry water bottle with you so that you will not get dehydrated and this practice will also prevent you from waterborne infection that may be caused as the outside water source is not known.
  •  Use good sunscreen lotion to protect your skin and also you can give it some luxury treatment by rubbing cucumber / tomato / curd to the skin
  •  You can add some rosewater to your bath tub clean
  •  Carry an umbrella with you (preferably cool shades like blue & green colours)  
 
  • Spray your favourite deo in your hankie, lighly moist it. While walking in hot sun, use it which will cool the skin on your face.
  • If you can tolerate, dip a towel in water, squeeze, put in on head on afternoon hours for sometime, which will also leave you cool
  • Apply coconut oil to hair before taking hair bath, few drops of castor oil on the centre of your head daily, will cool you.
  • If you don't have air conditioner then dip an old saree in water, dry it inside the room. You can even tie it around your bed like musquito net, let the fan on and sleep cozily inside it on a hot summer afternoon.
  •  Use a good quality goggles look     as they also filter bad rays and will make your eyes comfortable while walking under hot sun. 
  • In an earthen pot pour good drinking water, two whole lemon. This will give you nice flavour to the drinking water which not only quenches your thirst but also the flavour will leave you feel fresh
  •  Select some cool colours  & shades for your upholstery and Bedcovers. 
  • Bring in some nice potted plants that suits an indoor living to brighten up the scene with some living greenery. bonsai
  • Try to spend evening hours in an open ventilated area like park or a garden which will be refreshing for you as well as save some electricity with the natural breeze. flower

Don'ts More smileys to free download

  1. Avoid going in hot sun wherever possible
  2. Never drink cold water after roaming in hot sun. Water at room temperature or Hot water though may not be liked by many quenches thirst on a hot summer day. (ushnam ushnena shanthi is a saying
  3. Avoid carbonated drinks
drums geared up?!! 

May 10, 2012

Ivy Gourd/Tondli/Kovakkai Soup

Ivy Gourd, aka Tendli (Marathi), Tindora (hindi),  Kovaikkai (tamizh), is rich in betacarotene. sharing with you the link (http://www.diabeteshealth.com/read/2005/05/01/4276/ivy-gourd/)  which tells about health benefits and its use in traditional medicine that I came across while surfing net. 

I have seen the leaves used in blackening the blackboard in schools along with charcoal in olden days. It is a creeper which grows fast and yields a bulk quantity of the vegetable.

It is cooked in different methods to make different dishes and also makes a healthy soup when parboiled retaining its essential nutrients.

How to choose and pick ivy gourd? :- Ivy gourd if over ripen will turn red inside and the seeds will be hard & difficult to chew. This will spoil the recipe.  Hence always pick the tender & slender ones which are nice green in colour avoiding the bigger & pale ones.

Ingridients :-
  1. Ivy Gourd - 1 cup
  2. Salt to taste
  3. Water
 Procedure :-
  • Wash and cut the ivy gourd into two. 
  • Add water and par boil it
  • Strain, cool and grind to nice paste.
  • Reheat it adding salt
  • Using pepper is optional. I prefer it without pepper.
  • A simple but healthy gourd soup is ready!


May 9, 2012

Acqua Wall Decoration

Summer is at its peak. So decided to add some aqua life to the plain wall for a change. Got the idea of using inexpensive items for wall decor from my pal Suriya . Saw her works and found it beautiful & cheap too. So tried some aquatic living things in cartoon form.

Persenting it to you for your eyes. Sharing the work with you at its present stage.


Drew the figures in a chat, coloured them, cut and highlighted the border with dark colours.

Pasted them using fevistick (which can be peeled smoothly from the walls).











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