Friday, 31 October 2014

Pazham Pori / Banana Fritters

This is a perfect kerala snack. Whenever I travel in train to kerala, I never miss pazham pori from railway stations.  They are so yumm. Since I liked it very much, my mom made this often, whenever we bought this nendram pazham.  

This is sweet version of bajji unlike the usual bajji we make. So kids will love it. So do my daughter.

Though my mom made this many times at home, I never asked the recipe. She is no more. I can’t ask her anymore L. But I thought of her every second while I made this one. Cooking is one way of connecting souls. Miss u ma.

I took the recipe from here.


·         Ripe banana  (Nendram variety is the best for this one) – 2
·         Water
·         Oil – to deep fry.

Dry ingredients:
·         Maida / All-purpose flour – 1 cup
·         Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
·         Rice flour – 1 tbsp
·         Sugar – 1 tbsp
·         Salt to taste


Slit the banana lengthwise and again cut into 2 pieces. Actually, you can cut in whatever shape you want.

Take all the dry ingredients mentioned above, mix well. Add water little by little and mix it in bajji batter consistency. That is, it should not be too watery or too thick.
Heat the oil in a kadai.
Dip the cut banana in the batter and deep fry it in the oil in medium flame for 2-3 mins, till the coating is completely cooked. You can try 2-3 pieces at a time based on your oil kadai size.

Drain the excess oil in the pazham pori with tissue paper.             

Serve hot with nice masala tea.

I bet you will love it.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Kamarkat / Jaggery Chew Candy

I have never tasted Kamarkat before. When my mom and dad used to say about their school days petty shops experience about this particular south indian candy.. I always wanted to taste it. But dint find this anywhere.

I googled for the recipe and found it in chithra's food book. I was shocked to see there was no peanuts used. I thought its similar to peanut candy, but it was just coconut and jaggery. So I made my mind to try it for sure. I always worry about the consistency of the jaggery syrup, my mum in law use to help me all these days. But she is not in town, so I thought this is the time to learn it. But to my surprise it was so easy not at all difficult. So to all the beginners like me, break your fear and freak out.
·         Grated coconut – 1 cup
·         Jaggery – 3 cups
·         Water – ¼ cup
·         Cardomon – 2 pods
·         Ghee – 1 tsp
·         Rice flour – to coat to prevent sticking.
1:3 is the ratio for the coconut and jaggery, be it any cup.

Roast the grated coconut in ghee, till nice aroma spreads around. Keep it aside.

Now put the jaggery in the kadai, and add water till it covers the jaggery. Heat the kadai till the jaggery melts. Filter the syrup for any impurities.

Add the seeds from the cardamom pods. Now heat the jaggery syrup in high flame with occasional stirring.

When it starts thickening, reduce to medium heat with constant stirring. You have to heat it till it reaches hard ball consistency. To measure it, you have to drop little syrup in the water, the syrup should not dissolve in water, whereas you should be able to make that in to little ball, and when you drop it, you should get ‘tang’ sound.

At this stage add the coconut and keep stirring in low heat. Switch off when the mixture leaves the sides of the kadai.

Do not try to touch it at this stage. Let it cool down for a while.  Grease your hands with little oil and and then make it round balls. Coat it with rice flour to prevent sticking with each other.

Heat the kadai in low flame if you have difficulty in taking it out.
How to eat it :
For first time eaters, do not ever try to bite it, you will end up breaking your teeth. Pop a kamarkat into your mouth, keep it on the side of your mouth, let the juice slowly come out and flavor your taste buds. You can chew it occasionally tossing from one side to another. Yumm J. Happy tasting.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Milagu Rasam / Black Pepper Soup


After this rain diwali, I crave for some comfort food. When I call it comfort food, it is comfortable for cooking as well as eating.

This recipe is from my periamma (Sundari periamma) who is such a wonderful cook.

This is such an easy and soothing rasam which is very good for cold or cough.

Why I call this an easy Rasam

Ø  No need to cook dal
Ø  No need to soak tamarind and get the extract
Ø  No need of rasam powder

·         Tamarind – 1 small lemon sized ball
·         Asafetida – 1 big pinch
·         Tomato – 1 small size
·         Salt to taste
·         Water – 3 cups
·         Curry leaves – one strand
 To roast and grind
·         Pepper – 1 tsp
·         Jeera – 1tsp
·         Toor Dal – 1 tsp
·         Coriander seeds – 1 tsp
To temper :
·         Ghee – 1 tsp
·         Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Method :
Dry roast the ingredients mentioned in ‘To roast and grind’ till it is slightly changes color. Then grind it into coarse powder.
Make the tamarind as small lemon sized ball. Cut the tomato into cubes. Take one cup of water in a vessel and put the tamarind ball, salt, Asafetida, cut tomato. Let it boil for a while say 10 mins.
Cook it till the raw smell of tamarind leaves. Also the tomato will be cooked soft. Now the water will be reduced to half.
Once the raw smell of the tamarind leaves, add 2 cups of water, curry leaves, and the spice powder prepared. Switch off the stove when the rasam starts boiling.  The rasam turns little bitter when it boils too much.
To temper, add a tsp ghee in a kadai, once it heats up, add the mustard seeds, once it cracks up, add it to the rasam.
Serve the rasam hot with rice and roasted papad.
What else can make you happy on a rainy day?

Friday, 17 October 2014

Manali Trip - Final Episode

Trip Date : 30/09/2014
Previous days link ->  Day1, Day2 

Early in the morning - 4am, you can even call it mid night, very deep pain in my right knee, I couldn’t move a bit. I waked up my husband and literally cried. Then we made a call by 6 am in the morning to hotel reception and asked for any pain relief sprays. Thank god they immediately responded and gave me a sample pack of volini. This is what you call a good service. Why did I explain this stuff to you ? One thing, it is good to carry pain relief sprays or pain killers when you travel, another is don’t strain yourselves while you are in a trip. The previous day dancing had caused this much pain in me.

As per the Volvo package, third day is for Nagar Castle visit. But I seriously advice, if you are not fond of artistic places, or not interested much in architecture; you please skip Nagar Castle visit and think of Plan B. May be you can do a flying visit here and plan for river rafting in kullu. This might cost extra apart from the package, but worth every penny.

I was not strong enough for river rafting, so the plan is to stick with our package.

It was my birthday, when we started the trip, the driver Shoba Ram, surprised me with a bunch of flowers plucked from the next garden. How kind of him. J. As it is birthday, we wanted to start the day with a temple visit. So we headed to a shiva temple and Gayathri temple. It lies on the left bank of the Beas and the road from Naggar to Manali runs through the village. It is considered to be built 500 years ago and maintained by the locals of the place. Unlike south india, pooja is done by ladies in north india, and we were allowed to touch the sculptures of god and do pooja by ourselves. Most of the temples are somehow connected to Mahabaratha stories.


I would definitely recommend these temples visit when u visit Manali you would definitely like the intricate wood works in this temple.

Next we went to the art gallery of a Russian Artist, Nicholas Roerich. This man born is Russia got settled in Manali. He build a house in Manali with a great view of mountains. The house as well as the paintings is exhibited. He is a man with a great taste. If you love arts, this place is must visit. Google about this Man, very interesting.
Next is the Nagar Castle. This is very old castle built by Raja of Kullu. It is built with stones and wood.
Now this castle is made as a hotel for the tourist. It has a great view to the
valley. It is good choice for the ‘View lovers’. Not sure about the cost for the stay. These are places which you can google about a lot. So I am not explaining further.
Temple run is not over yet, we went to another marvelous temple Manu Temple. The Manu temple is a quite famous place of worship as well which is devoted to Manu, the legendary sage, who stayed in this area. The town of Manali derived its name from Manu. This temple is lovely with the mix of ancient and modern architecture.
 There is a weaving factory near this temple. You will visualize how difficult is to make those designs in the woolen shawls. You will not understand what they do. But simply watching their work is such a pleasure. This is the good place to by Shawls. Costs are nominal.

We finished off the day 3 trip with this place and headed back to the hotel. We had
ordered the food from our room. Delicious Lunch. We made sure we ordered something which we dint see in the dinner buffet there.

Took rest for a while, my leg was far better, I felt I missed the river rafting so much. I could have tried it. Evening we planned to go for a small walk around the place. The roads are so steep, it was so easy to go down. Just after few minutes, it started raining. We halted in a small shop which sold unique t shirts. Lakshmi, my daughter photographed every t-shirt there.After a while we walked towards the club house Manali. I was taking pictures of the road side shops, they were beautifully lit.

 We came across a river side café called 1947. I saw they served Tiramisu and went inside. When I went inside it was more like a bar with hookah setup and all. They have live band performing on evenings. Not recommended for couples with kids. So we skipped. After the lengthy walk, climbing back was too difficult, but I enjoyed it every bit.

When I returned hotel, Venk had arranged for a surprise cake. Butter scotch.. Yummy. Thanks Venk and Lakshmi for making it a beautiful evening.

Trip Date: 01/10/2014

Last and final day in Manali, so I wanted to roam as much as I could. Our bus was at evening 4.30. Reporting time at hotel was 3.30. So we had only half a day. I had planned to visit the village for buying apples, then some shopping and another one is hot springs temple.

Actually I told the driver that I wanna visit an apple farm and hand pluck the apples myself. He dint understand my hindi at all. I even showed that in action. But instead he took to place to pick apples instead of pluck. We dint have much time, so I had no choice. We picked up the apples from the big lot there. He borrowed a card board box from a nearby shop and neatly packed them for us.  Without him the trip is incomplete.

Then we headed towards the hot spring vashist temple. I strongly recommend this place. There is a natural hot water spring in this place. They have channeled the water through pipes to a tank. I would suggest taking extra clothing with you and having a nice hot water bath there. It is much secured. They have a separate bath rooms for men and women. But beware while entering the rooms. People will be bathing naked.. so check before taking kids inside. We spend

Finally we returned to the room after some shopping in mall road and lunch.

We were dropped to Volvo bus stand, where we the bus was already waiting. They are very particular in timings. So don’t delay in reaching the bus stand. The bus was quite comfortable with good seating. Immediately we were provided polythene bags, in case if we puke. It happened for most of them.

There were 2 to 3 stoppings once we started from Manali and they picked up few people in middle. After sometime, the bus again stopped. I thought some more people might board, but shockingly few police constables got into the bus. Usually this happens in some of the long route buses. So I was not reacting much. But they checked each and everyone’s bag and things. Suddenly they took a cigarette packet from the man’s pocket who was sitting behind me. They cut that cigarette into 2 pieces and smelled it. Now the police dog came. First time ever I am seeing police dog other than movies. In no time dog directly went to those people at back seat. Then came Inspector.Very smart looking, I should say. He looked more like actor, Nawazuddin Siddiqui. he was standing right next to my seat with a big gun popping from his back pocket. I showed the gun to my daughter. We both were so scared. What if the guy in back seat, take the gun and shoot someone? 3 people from my back seat were caught for carrying some illegal drugs. All speaking in hindi, I dint understand what was going on. I asked the inspector what was happening. He said, those 3 men behind were carrying illegal drugs with them. Not much quantity, but consumable quantity only. Still they wanted to investigate the source. So police men took those guys down and were doing investigation. 2 men returned. They took one guy to police station, along with our bus driver. They dropped back the driver only after 2-3 hours. All that time were waiting in the bus in a remote place with no access to anything.

What I observed from the incident was, himachal police were not at all rude to those men. They were so polite. Even when I asked the inspector about the incident, he was so patiently explaining me. It is nice police men are friendly to the public.

  • Important thing to note down here is, keep your bags always safe. There are chances with these kinds of drug people to drop any of their drugs in to your bags to escape from police. So keep your belongings under your control
  • Because of this incident, our bus delayed by 3 hours. Our Delhi to Chennai flight was only in the evening, so we managed.  So make sure you have some cushion time for your next plan.

With all this huzzle buzzle we reached Delhi safe and sound. And came back to routine Chennai heat.

Loved the trip overall. Will I go again to same place ? Why not ? May be in a good season I would plan. I wanna see Manali once more in season.

7 cup cake


7 CUP Cake is very easy recipe. I would say it’s a good choice for beginners. Because measurement is very easy and there is no need to check sugar consistency and other head cracking steps.

Coming to the name of this sweet - 7 cups is, there are 7 cups of measurement of the ingredients. But mine I should call 6.5 cups as I reduced half cup of sugar.

This tastes like a softer version of Mysore pa, with little coconut flavor. Another good thing is less ghee than mysore pa.

Ingredients :

·         Besan flour / Kadala Mavu – 1 cup
·         Milk – 1 cup
·         Sugar – 2.5 cups
·         Cashews – 10 numbers (Optional)
·         Grated coconut – 1 cup
·         Ghee – 1 cup

Grease the plates with ghee and keep it aside.

Coarsely powder the cashews.
Sift Basan flour (I Skipped this step.. lazy u know). Sifting will prevent flour from forming lumps. Dry roast the flour in a Kadai in medium flame till the raw smell goes off.
Now stwich of the stove and add milk, sugar to the besan flour and mix well without forming lumps.
Add the cashew powder, grated coconut, 1/2 cup ghee and give a good mix.
Switch on the stove now, and start mixing it continuously. Use medium flame.
When the mixture bubbles up, add rest of the ghee. (This stage comes nealrly after 5 mins)
Keep stirring for 10 mins again, then change to low flame. As it burns down soeasily. Use a bigger ladle as the bubbles might hurt your hand. I changed it after one or two drops hit my fingers.

Again after 10 minutes you will near this stage. The mixture will leave the sides of the kadai. It won’t be in a solid state, once you cool down it will be ok.
So now carefully pour it into greased plate. You cannot cut the pieces now. Wait for 10 – 15 minutes and then run the greased knife to cut to desired shapes. Take off the pieces once it cools down. Don’t be in a rush.
Once cooled, stored in a dry container. Stays upto a week.
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