Festival Market: Shivo Hum, Shivo Hum (Mahashivratri Celebrations)

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Har har Mahadeo’ chants fill the streets in India today. Loudspeakers  blare musical songs ‘KailashNath ki jai’ and ‘Shiv Aarti’ as Hindus gear up for  a night long celebration or for the spiritual seekers an ‘Awakening.’

Today is Maha Shivratri – the long night of worshipping Lord Shiva, (one of the three Gods of Trinity Brahma, Vishnu,Shiva). It is the day when Shiva is said to have performed the mythical Tandav Nritya– the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction.

Special days bring a festive cheer and colour at any market, isn’t it? Here in India today, fruits of many colours – red and green watermelons, golden rock melon, purple grapes, brown Dates, reddish sweet potato tubers fill the street stalls. As many Hindus fast on this day partaking fruit, Dates and milk and honey – so the markets cater to specific needs.

Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram – Truth, Goodness and Beauty.

Lord Shiva the mystical, celibate, powerful of mind, the God of the yogis has much mass appeal. Call Him Mahadeo, Bhairav, Kalanetra,Gangadhara, KailashNath, Pranava or Rudra… or any one of the 108 names, it is HE whom one’s mind should dwell upon tonight, to gather up the upsurge of energy created through meditation and prayer.

Photo courtesy: Internet( Times of India)

To capture some photos of the colourful spring flowers, prayer items on sale and feel the synergy of devout people thronging to the market, was indeed a fruitful morning. Black clay pots and Palash flowers (Flame of the forest) were unique, specific ‘buy of the day.’

street market outside temple

street market outside temple

Spring time stalls selling melons, bananas, rock melon and winter leftover fruit of grapes and apples was a good mix. Sweet Potato tubers and Dates are specially consumed during fasting providing quick energy.

Street stalls selling fruits and sweet potato tubers

Street stalls selling fruits and sweet potato tubers

Black earthern Matka /claypot

Black earthern Matka /claypot

Special grass buds, crimson -red Palash flowers for Shiv puja, milk bottles, black clay pots for carrying payasam (a milk and jaggery pudding ) made an interesting addition to the usual mounds of orange marigold and white tube rose flowers. ‘Palash flowers are offered to Lord Shiva and Parvati ..special today ‘ said the woman vendor, prodding all the married women into buying it specially today.

Don’t worry if you forgot to bring a bag. This little fellow, wants to make a quick sale, as it’s a school holiday.

Vendor boy selling plastic bags for Rupees 10/ each

Vendor boy selling plastic bags for Rupees 10/ each

By night, twinkling lights will decorate temple exteriors, loudspeakers will blare musical chants, people carrying pots of payasam and plate filled with coconut and flowers will await their turn patiently at the temples. Street markets get brighter and busier as last minute business intensifies. It’s a hard day’s work, especially if one has to do the ‘jagran’ spiritual chanting and singing tonight.

Photo Courtesy: Internet ( Times of India)

Mahashivratri has many symbolisms and stories attached to it, explains the Isha Foundation:

  • Among householders, it is considered the night when Shiva married Parvati.
  • Among the ambitious, Shiva is said to have defeated all his enemies on this day.
  • For spiritual seekers, this is the day when Shiva merged with Mount Kailash.

My puja plate is ready for tonight. Many worshippers will throng the temples, others will sit or attend quiet meditation, and still others may try to find out the meaning behind all these celebrations and rituals.

Shivo Hum, Shivo Hum. The beauty of Self Realization.

Plate of puja offering

Plate of puja offering

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2017) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer

 

World Palate Recipes: Sagan Ni Sev (Parsi Style)

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Go to any Parsi household on a Sagan, auspicious day you will always find a big bowl of Sev or vermicelli at the table. Thanks to my Parsi friend, for inviting me to lunch and specially making this nutty sweet Sev. She reminisced how her mother always made Sev for birthdays or Sagan and garnished it with plenty of pistachios, raisins and almonds. ‘Bananas and mithoo dahi, sweet yoghurt was served too’ she added.

Parsi Sev (Vermicelli)

Parsi Sev (Vermicelli)

Iranians (Persians) were involved in trade with India since many centuries. The Parsi from Iran seeking refuge from the Islamic invasion landed in Gujarat, India. Their Zoroastrian faith shared much in common with that of the Hindus. On arrival in Gujarat, Jadi Rana the local ruler refused them entry and sanctuary to these warrior-like people. But soon the priests convinced the ruler that the Parsi would be ‘like sugar in a full cup of milk, adding sweetness but not causing it to overflow.’ Jadi Rana ordered them to adopt the local dress, customs and adapt the cuisine to blend with the Gujrati locals.

Though the Parsi prefered meat and fish they gradually incorporated local cereals, pulses and masalas into their cuisine. However the Persian ingredients of apricots, pistachios and nuts remained a favourite and a distinct reminder of their origins.

                           Dessert Recipe:  Sagan ni Sev

Be liberal with ghee, and have plenty of patience while cooking!

Ingredients

1 packet thin vermicelli

5-8 spoons of pure Ghee (clarified butter)

water as needed

Sugar 5-8 tsps. or suit your taste

For garnish: saffron strands, pistachios, almond flakes, raisins.

Nutmeg and cardamom powder (jaiphal and elaichi)

Ingredients for Sev

Ingredients for Sev

Method:

Crush the vermicelli lightly, leaving medium long strands and keep aside. It will shorten while roasting. Put a big pan on the stove, put 4-5 spoons of ghee and melt it. Add the nuts mixture, roast lightly. The aroma soon fills the kitchen space:). Keep a small amount aside for garnish.

Now add the crushed vermicelli and roast lightly, adding a dollop of ghee again. Sprinkle over some sugar, the Sev gets a dark colour due caramelized sugar.

Sprinkle few drops of water, just enough to wet the mixture. Caution! too much water will make a ‘londho’ or lump! Keep stirring to even out the mixture. Cover for few minutes.

Remove cover, add another dollop of ghee and the Sev is now ready cooked and lightly crisp. Add the cardamom and nutmeg powder. Garnish with nuts mixture. Remove in a decorative plate.

Serve warm. Enjoy the distinct Persian flavour while narrating the ‘Quessa e Sanjan’ and Jadi Rana’s story, just like my friend did.

Sev. (Parsi style)

Sev. (Parsi style)

 

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2016) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.

 

 

World Palate Recipes: Matar Chatpata, Spicy Peas Nagpur Style

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Recently while travelling by train, I had fun watching people eating food at stations along the way. Though stalls or kiosks sold essentials like water bottles, biscuit packs, fruit and namkeen or salty fried food, it was the local peddlar and chaiwala who were the most sought after. As one travels the vast Indian country by train – a great gastronomic journey unravels, local specialties adding colour and flavour!

At Nagpur station, the arriving train from Delhi stopped for 2 minutes. After having eaten paneer, parathas, kachori from Delhi, it was time to taste local Nagpur food. Saoji cuisine, a very spicy and masala laden cuisine is popular in Nagpur. The special spices used in making the gravy of Saoji food include black pepper, dry coriander, bay leaves, grey cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and ample use of Khus -khus or poppy seeds and powdered coconut. This is mostly used for Mutton or chicken non vegetarian food preparations.

Today at the station, I tasted a local winter favourite – Matar Chatpata. Matar or spicy peas, sold for Rs. 10 in small plastic cups by the local vendor. Peas grow plentiful in winter season, largely in North India. Shelling peas often transforms into a bonding household activity, wherein the family gathers around a charpai or mat. Nagpur people like their food chatpata – spicy and tangy. Saoji cuisine is NOT for the faint hearted, beware!

Train Station food - Peas Chatpata

Train Station food – Peas Chatpata

Matar Chatpata – Nagpur Style.

Not for the faint hearted! So do adjust the chilli and spice!

Ingredients

1/2 kg shelled peas (or 1 pack frozen peas)

1 medium onion

2-3 green chillies ( adjust to your taste!!)

1/2 lime

salt as needed

1/4 inch ginger,

1 tsps. cumin seeds

1 teaspoon cooking oil

fresh coriander for garnish – optional

Ingredients for Matar (Peas)Chatpata

Ingredients for Matar (Peas)Chatpata

Method:

Shell the peas from the pod and boil in water till medium soft. Drain and keep aside. Coarsely grind the chilli, ginger and some salt. Keep aside. Lightly roast the cumin seeds to let out the aroma. Coarsely crush them, once cool. Cut lime in half or wedges, remove the seeds. Remove the top skin of onion and chop lengthwise.

Place large, thick bottom wok or pan on stove and pour required amount of cooking oil. Add the chopped onion and chilli -ginger paste and roast lightly till strong aroma fills your kitchen. Keep tossing, add little salt to avoid browning.

Add the boiled peas and roasted cumin powder. Toss lightly, adjust salt and chilli to taste. Break off stem and leaves of fresh coriander coarsely, and garnish the pea preparation.

For a rustic look -serve in small individual eco friendly cups made from dry leaves (check local markets). Squeeze a dash of lemon before serving.

Enjoy the hot chilli taste on the palate – toned down by sweet peas and tangy lemon. Ooooooh, hot,hot beware !!

Matar(peas) Chatpata

Matar(peas) Chatpata

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2016) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.

 

 

 

 

In Pursuit of Self Awareness …..in 2016

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This morning on my walk, I looked up at the tall Eucalyptus or Nilgiri tree. It soared high. A faint aroma from the leaves filled the air. Parts of the old, silvery bark lay on the ground below, while the tree almost weeped as the trunk was peeling away. Tender, beige new skin making its appearance from within.

Nilgiri tree bark

Nilgiri tree bark

Taking in the aroma, a thought passed my mind. Can I too shed my old, negative and weary thoughts? Can I bloom with rejuvenated spirit into the New Year ? Can I too have aroma in my life and share it with others?

Come December, another year closes upon us. We are busy with resolutions, reflections, travel plans, financial notes, meeting our loved ones, doing charity, finish reading a book or adding the last row of stitches to the cardigan … a rush to complete the unfinished!

Year 2016 brought me a fair share of happy and challenging times. Quality time spent with family, caring for elders, learning new recipes and listening to (other’s) travel tales (for a change:) Crochet, books and friends brought the respite during stressful moments. Reciting my stotras or prayers while making small hand made gifts made time meaningful.

crochet-lace-edge

As a girl, I remember standing in a queue to buy movie tickets or sugar from the ration shop. That was in 1970’s! Of late, standing in long snaking queues outside banks or ATM’s seems to be the need of the day in India. Thanks to the bold move of de-monetization of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 by the government, the country is bent on eradicating corruption and black money. I admired volunteers who distributed water and biscuits to tired people in the long queues as well as praising the over worked staff. Reach out wherever and when, don’t wait for some exotic place.

India’s Currency Crunch:What are People in the Vegetable Markets Saying?

New Year, new ideas, new resolutions! But how many do we really succeed at? Well, at the beginning of 2016, I started a new series:Focus 12 with much excitement. Apologies, dear readers. I have not completed the intended 12 posts.

Focus 12 : Markets as Fun, Outdoor Classroom

Focus 12: Feel, Smell, Eat What’s in Season at the Market.

‘At the table with friends and family, you do not become old’… an Italian proverb.

Indian hospitality is known for inviting people to their homes. In fact, it’s rude not to burp after a meal in some communities, as it shows the host has not fed his guest sufficiently! At home, I’ve been busy trying out new variations to old recipes. The fruity twist I gave to a simple kheer, rice pudding was delicious. Though the kheer doesn’t freeze /stay fresh for many days, the pulpy sitaphal or custard apple lent a good flavour.

World Palate Recipes: Nawabi Style Sitaphal Phirni ( Custard Apple and Rice Pudding)

Festivals add cheer, colour and uphold traditions. Be it Halloween, Diwali or Christmas.

Year End and Festive Christmas Markets

Festive Market: Light up for Deepavali

As we fill our own homes with twinkling lights and invite family and friends to plentiful food, a thought goes out to those in need – homeless, disjoint families, children of war zones or devastating earthquakes. Now’s the time to look up worthy NGO’s and organizations and make our contributions. Share and care.

poinsettia-bloom

That brings us to Christmas and New Year. The bright red Poinsettia, in my neighbour’s garden is in full bloom, its red leaves(bracts) adding much Christmas colour. The story of a poor boy who offered roadside weeds to the God in church is a remarkable story of pure love and humble spirit. It was those weeds that bloomed into red and green flowers, known as Poinsettia!

A  VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR  2017

Dear readers, fellow bloggers, family and friends.

May we all try to emulate the Eucalyptus tree. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

India’s Currency Crunch:What are People in the Vegetable Markets Saying?

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‘When it rains lemons, make lemonade’ is an age old saying. In my case, it was tomatoes. Vegetable prices had dropped 20 – 50 percent after the demonetization of currency. The evening of November 8, 2016 made financial history in India as Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 suddenly became just paper! The nation was in shock – a sleepless night for rich and poor.

Television, radio and social media were abound with stories and jokes within minutes. Two days later I heard of truckloads of vegetables lying in docks and containers in a waste as traders had no cash to buy and no time to stand in long queues to exchange old notes for new currency.

A visit to the Bowenpally wholesale market in Hyderabad would give me the current picture, I decided. I parked my car and decided to explore the big storage and distribution yard. The market yard is open all days of the week from 4 am. The local municipal corporation has made adequate provision for a canteen and resting rooms to  ease traders, farmers and loaders.

market-entrance-gate

 

canteen-building

The canteen building

The canteen offers subsidised Telugu /Andhra meals and tiffins. Large trucks heavy with vegetables in jute sacks stood parked one behind another. The central courtyard was surrounded with raised platforms housing trading shops that were storage and distribution points.

This morning, around 10 am I sensed an air of uneasy calm, instead of the usual hustle bustle. Over morning cups of chai loaders and traders were discussing cash and sale issues.

  • How do we buy our daily bread?
  • What do we do with the old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 currency notes?
  • What will be the impact on vegetable sales? A dip in profits? Rotten unsold vegetables?
  • Will the real ‘black money’ marketers be caught?
  • What is the motive of the government is stopping the use of these notes?

loaders-sittign-idle

I crossed my way through the maze of smaller pick up trucks, heaps of pumpkins and white gourds, jute sacks and idle loaders who posed for photos. Some were wondering what a well dressed woman is doing in the midst of all the market trade. Nagamma, a local vendor said ‘ le lo Amma..sasta bikta hai’ which translates as ‘buy cheaply Madam, vegetables are soon rotting so selling cheap.’

Lingaiah and Ramaih two brothers who are part-timeloaders went out of job for past two days, as sale of vegetables slumped. Others shook out Rs.1,000 note folding it into a paper cone to fill peanuts, and laughed jokingly! A thousand Rupees and no takers! Paper money! Even in the canteen and adjoining rest rooms no one accepted the demonetised money and village traders suddenly were cash strapped – no money in smaller denomination to buy food or pay for rest rooms. Another young vendor showed me 25 kilo tendli or gherkins in sacks that sold at Rs. 1,000 now had no buyers. A whopping loss of trade in a minute of announcement!

jute-sacks-awating-loading-into-lorry

 

loaders-loading-trucks

Tomatoes that were selling at Rs. 20 per kilo were down to Rs. 8-10 per kilo, so also fresh french beans, lady fingers and broad beans. One vendor smiled jokingly and asked ‘Madam free chai if you ONLY show me the new 2,000 currency note the banks are issuing.’A restaurant owner who regularly buys vegetables in bulk here moaned ‘We have been affected in the past three days as the vegetable markets are not accepting 1,000 and 500 notes. We have few new 2,000 notes and we are finding it difficult to buy vegetables in the wholesale market.’

500-and-1000-notes-what-to-do

Picking up my 5 kilos of juicy red tomatoes (and conjuring up  recipes) I walked to the car. The plight of the cash strapped vendors and reminders of long queues outside banks and ATM’s was a small price to pay for the bold move by the government in a bid to track down black money. India will now witness a huge surge in restructuring payments, transparent economy and educating the poor towards a cashless society with new bank accounts. Demonetisation will have its say in the markets and streets of India for some time now.

Enter plastic cards! Welcome to digital age for one and all!

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2016) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Retracing the Nawabi steps at Muzzam Jahi Market, Hyderabad

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Imagine baskets brimming with Persian fruit, women in black burqhas clutching shopping bags, children running between corridors of the stone building housing the market, vendors and errand boys carrying baskets for the Nawab’s family and friends. And above this all stood the clock tower of the Muzzam Jahi market in quiet aristocracy!

Sadly, it’s all gone now. The splendid market is just a piece of history and architecture.

But don’t lose heart. In spite to the distance from my part of the city (the market is located in Koti, Hyderabad) braving the chaotic traffic of honking cars, buses and cyclists, I was determined to visit and relive a piece of history. In fact, to take delight in the ‘Famous Ice Cream’ and buy some Dilkhush biscuits at the nearby Karachi Bakery were important too.

Majestic Muzzam Jahi market building and tower

Majestic Muzzam Jahi market building and tower

m-jahi-right-arcade

 

The Nizams did everything in grandeur, this market too was built with utmost care. It was constructed during the reign of the last Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan in 1935, and was named after his second son Moazzam Jah. Originally meant to be a fruit market, it soon turned out to be a place where one could find just about anything — fruits, vegetables, flowers, groceries, earthen pots, arms and ammunitions….yes that’s true! And paan, ice-cream, dry fruits, hookahs and ittar.

The fruit vendors, have been moved to Kothapet market and Monda market, others had stalls on the adjoining roads. Mounds of seasonal juicy oranges and soft. green custard apples lay scattered on the street floors.

street shop selling custard apple fruit

street shop selling custard apple fruit

As I walked into the central circular area, there was a round building lined with shops. From here, the semi- circular stone corridor was almost breath taking! What precision and calculation of exact height and width of the stone columns and the arches made this an architectural masterpiece! At both ends of the corridor a helix staircase lead to an upper open floor. The market building was made of brown stone brought from central Deccan plateau. The main tall clock tower at the entrance faced outwards. Pigeons seem to co exist with humans and vegetables in the central courtyard. Shopkeepers regularly scattered grains for the fluttering birds. Well, spot them here if you can.

central-courtyard-round-shops

Retracing the steps of Nawabs, their women folk and dozen children, I softly stepped up the stone corridor, peeking in and out of the numerous arches. Maybe a love story opened here? Romance,  demure fleeting glances, giggling girls hiding behind the columns, young men darting a glance? Imagine.

market-corridor

Today the wooden shop doors, looked vintage. Some were painted in a myriad of bright colours. Blue, brown, green, yellow and white – some shut, some half open, some begging for renovation. The interior space was deep, dark and air stone cooled. Out of the seventy odd shops, only a few remain functional today as grain stores, vegetable shops, oil traders and a few hookah and ittar shops. Chatting with a few Muslim fruit sellers they remembered how everyone lived here in harmony since past 50-70 years.

shop-door-painted

Exotic fruit. That was what the market was initially famous for. Hyderabad being in central India made it an important trade route. The Nawabs had elaborate kitchens and matching Khandaani cuisines that were renowned in the Arabic and European aristocracy. Figs and Narangi from Iran and Persia, Dates from the Arabic region, apples from Afghanistan and Kashmir, dry fruit of badam, pista, poonji, kishmish. Olives and olive oil from Iran and Spain. A well catered market.

Lastly, it was time to find THAT Famous Ice Cream shop…yes that’s it’s name!

Located on the outer corridor facing the noisy road, it was well tucked in. Red plastic chairs and tables lay out in the open courtyard in front. One corner had stainless steel ice cream churns and large vessels to boil milk. The other side displayed an old tempting menu board. The old man and his younger son have owned this shop for over 70 years, scooping out delicious, fruity soft ice cream, to young and old, and many a romantic pair. Spoilt for choice I was. I ordered one scoop of malai anjeer (cream and figs) and another of sitaphal (custard apple) and enjoyed those melting moments of cream in the mouth. For a recipe on sitaphal see here.

Famous Ice cream menu

Famous Ice cream menu

Now won’t you follow my footsteps to this grand Hyderabad market? Tell me about your experiences, maybe at other ice cream, hookah or candy shops that still open doors to customers. Till then,  Khuda Hafiz…Bye.

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2016) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer

 

 

 

Festive Market: Light up for Deepavali

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Festive Market: Light up for Deepavali

Yes, it’s Deepavali or Diwali once again. Streets and shops are brimming with latest sarees, dresses, lamps, festive puja items, fruit and mithai and electronics. Sale! sale! Glittering gold, red and green twinkling lights and confetti decorate shop windows. There’s hurry (and pressure) to buy the latest designs – be it bumper TV or iphone….or fashion wear! Festive markets are so colourful and fun.

Deepavali, a Hindu festival of lights (deepa) is celebrated all over India with much pomp. Traditionally, festive lamps or diyas, made from baked mud /clay are lit and kept at door entrances. Large colourful Rangoli or Kolam designs dot the floor spaces at entrances of homes and shops, boxes of mithai and meva arranged in colourful baskets, boxes laced with golden trimmings sit on store shelves awaiting customers. At home, every kitchen is given a good scrub. Preparation for making traditional sweets and savoury like sev, ladoo, chakli, halwa, chirote, namkeen begins days earlier. And on the last day…the noise and sparks from fire crackers and sparklers fill the streets.

For a recipe of Besan Ladoo see here.

No wonder, this family festival brings crowds (literally) to the streets. Here are a few photos that to brighten your mood and give you a glimpse the festival.

Diwali items for sale at street Bazaar

Diwali items for sale at street Bazaar

Colourful paper lanterns for sale at street kiosk

Colourful paper lanterns for sale at street kiosk

Here are the festive mud /clay lamps that add colour and bring in ‘light’ to the doorstep.

Festive Diyas or lamps

Festive Diyas or lamps

Many stories about the festival revolve around Lord Rama, the fight of good over evil, light and wisdom over darkness. The significance of lighting the lamps itself is symbolic of removing darkness and negativity from our life and the colours of Rangoli symbolize role of colour in our daily activity.

Here is a small compilation on books, stories and Rangoli:

At home, I enjoyed making simple paper lanterns or Kandil. Soon it will be time to decorate home with earthen lamps, colourful Rangoli and prepare gift plates and Kandil for distribution to friends and family.

Home made paper lanterns

Home made paper lanterns

At centres with disabled or mentally challenged children, economically low /troubled women, jail interns and other organizations teach and sell diyas and kandil to support such groups. It’s a time to light up THEIR life, by making small sacrifices and reaching out to those in need.

 

Beautiful Aakash Kandil. Made by students of Vishwas Special School for Mentally challenged (Thane). Contact: +91.9699699486

Beautiful Aakash Kandil. Made by students of Vishwas Special School for Mentally challenged (Thane). Contact: +91.9699699486

 

                                  Happy Diwali to all my friends who are celebrating.

Don’t forget to leave your comments on how you spent Diwali.

Colourful Rangoli floor design

Colourful Rangoli floor design

 

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2016) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer

World Palate Recipes: Nawabi Style Sitaphal Phirni ( Custard Apple and Rice Pudding)

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Today I share with you a traditional Nawabi style fruit filled dessert: rice pudding or Phirni.

Rice pudding is one of the basic desserts found in many cultures. Preparation is simple using two easily available ingredients of rice and milk and then sweetening it. Whether its a traditional Danish Christmas meal with risalmande, or a Hindu custom of Annaprasana, of introducing solid food to a baby preparing a rice kheer or the popular Arabic dessert Muhallibiya made from rice flour, milk and dates. The rice pudding plays an important role in many cultures. Here are some more names for the same:Dudh pak, Phirni, Kheer, Bubur Susam, Riz au lait.

Adding fruits to desserts is yet another tradition. Different seasons different geography and cultures, but the house cook has the same task! Gathering, cooking and preserving Nature’s bountiful fruit. From farm to kitchen to table…fruits add nutrition and taste to chutney, sauce, puddings, tarts, jams and kheer.

Custard apple, Sitaphal as it is popularly called, is in season in Hyderabad, India. The then ruling Nawabs of Hyderabad popularised this traditional Phirni adding the seasonal fruit for a delicious twist.

Today, it was a laborious joy of opening the soft, squishy fruit, deseeding it and mashing the pulp to add to Phirni or Kheer. sitaphal-fruit

Sitaphal Phirni (Custard Apple and Rice Pudding)

Ingredients

1 cup full flavoured rice (or any of choice)

1 litre full cream milk (or use a condensed milk can)

2 cups sugar

Sitaphal pulp about 200 gms ( 3-4 fruits)

For garnish: few cashews, pistachio, saffron strands

phirni-ingredients

Method

Soak the rice in 2 cups water for over an hour. Then process to rough grainy consistency in blender, along with water. Put milk to boil in large bottom vessel on low flame ( yes! time consuming, but traditional method in most cultures.) (Or use condensed milk, lightly thinned with water or milk.) Add the grainy rice paste and keep stirring and boiling. (till patience runs out:) and the mixture turns thick.

boiling milk for phirni

boiling milk for phirni

 

Open the fruit, deseed and keep pulp aside. Lightly mash, keep covered. Prepare cashews and pistachio for garnish, slice them thin. Soak saffron strands in warm milk for few minutes till colour turns bright orange.

Add necessary amount of sugar to the rice-milk pudding, keep stirring. Add fruit, this too lends sweetness! Add half of garnish.

Take vessel off the heat and stir mixture / Phirni well.

 

 

 

Serve warm or chilled, pouring it into desired containers. Use silver cups for regal or festive, baked mud cups for traditional serving. Garnish with remaining fruit pulp and pistachio and saffron.

Happy feasting! Let me know how your friends and family liked this treat.

Sitaphal Phirni

Sitaphal Phirni

 

I take much enthusiasm and energy to prepare food and capture photos. Please respect and give credit as needed or contact me.

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2016) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer

 

World Palate Recipes: Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Vegetable Curry

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The fall season is almost here, leaves are changing colours and pumpkins are abundant! Soon Halloween and the pumpkin carving fun will be upon us. Pumpkins come both with orange and green coloured skins. They are rich in fiber and vitamin. Being versatile, pumpkins are easy to cook up many cuisines from savoury to sweet recipes, be it soup, curry or even desserts!

pumpkins

Pumpkins. Courtesy: Wikimedia commons /pumpkins

Just yesterday, I attended a ladies meet. There was plenty of home made food, laughter and non stop chatter. Amidst the fun we exchanged some recipes and enjoyed the delicious pumpkin curry made by our hostess. Crunchy skin and roasted seeds added texture to the sweet, spicy curry.

Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Vegetable Curry

Pumpkin curry with roasted seeds

Pumpkin curry with roasted seeds

Ingredients:

350 – 400 gms of orange pumpkin (keep the skin)

2-3 medium size onions

1-2 green chillies

salt, water, oil as desired

For Gravy:

50 gms of khus khus seeds

50 gms dessicated coconut ( fresh preferable)

2 tsps. sesame seeds

1 inch ginger

3-6 garlic cloves

For Tempering:

1 spoon cumin seeds (roasted for full flavour)

1 tsps. turmeric powder

curry leaves (optional)

coriander leaves for garnish

roasted pumpkin seeds (remove outer skin)

Pumpkin vegetable ingredients

Pumpkin vegetable ingredients

Method:

Wash and cut the pumpkin into small cubes with skin intact, remove the pith and seeds. Keep the seeds aside on paper, later roast them in oven or heated pan and cool. Keep aside.

Chop the onions, garlic, ginger, chilli and coconut and grind into fine paste. Lightly roast the sesame seeds and khus khus. Cool and powder them.

Heat 2 big ladles of cooking oil in heavy bottom pan or wok. Splutter the cumin, add turmeric powder and curry leaves. Add fresh paste of onion -ginger and lightly roast till soft brown, the strong aroma fills the kitchen – Beware! Add the seeds paste and some water to keep mixture from browning.

Pumpkin cut in cubes

Pumpkin cut in cubes

Add the cubed pumpkin, salt and just enough water to cover the curry mixture. (if you wish add a pinch to sugar…to bring out the sweetness). Cover, gently cook the curry, till pumpkin is just tender and bit crunchy.

Take off the gas stove, pouring cooked curry into desired dish. Garnish with chopped coriander, roasted seeds that add to the crunchy texture.

Enjoy this delicious curry with contrasting flavours. Serve with rice or Roti /Naan / Pita bread.

Pumpkin Curry garnished with roasted seeds

Pumpkin Curry garnished with roasted seeds

For another Pumpkin recipe see here.

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2016) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer

 

Festive Market: The Elephant headed Ganesha Idols

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Come September, streets of Mumbai and Pune in western India, as well as many other cities prepare for the most loved festival Ganesha Chaturthi or Vinayak Chaturthi.  The elephant headed God Ganesha, (known by several other names)  is prayed to for prosperity and wisdom.  Amidst loud chants of ‘Ganapati Bappa Moraya’ the colourful idols that once occupied rows of shelves on street shops are lovingly bought and carried home to the altar.

Weeks before the festival day, street markets begin cleaning, making stands, preparing clay, pre booking orders, contacting artists and helpers. Soon the frenzy of activity heats up, as the festival draws near.  Idols are traditionally made with mud or clay, giving them a brown colour. During the prayers idols are smeared with sandal wood or turmeric paste. These eco-friendly idols thus make for easy visarjan or dipping into flowing water after the festival. However, Plaster of Paris (POP) is the new preferred material. It is cheaper, lighter, but certainly harmful to Nature as idols cannot dissolve in water.

Mud Ganesha idols

Mud Ganesha idols

Artists arrive to major cities, sometimes from rural homes, the festival provides a big income and a platform created by co-operative organisations. It takes many weeks of patience, dedication and exact materials and temperatures to prepare the idols. The whitish grey or brown idols are left to dry on street pavements (or shop kilns). Once dry, colours transform them magically! Turmeric yellow, leaf green, vermilion red, glittering gold, peacock green…how  beautiful the rows of Ganesha idols look standing on the street stands. And why not add some glitter, beads and fancy ornaments for a festive aura? Prices vary according to size and decorations ranging from Rs. 200 to 2 crores!

With great pomp and music, the super size idols are carried to community halls, temple foyers and public gatherings. Smaller idols bought by family members, make their way home covered by traditional silk cloth.

Super sized Ganesha idol

Super sized Ganesha idol

Now, Ganesha is known to have a great liking for food, just look at his big tummy! There are many mythological stories to support this. Festival markets are filled with plenty of fresh fruit – bananas and pomegranate being favourite. Besides garlands of flowers, rose petals, marigolds, banana stems and leaves, lotus flowers occupy every inch of floor space in the market.

It’s a frenzy of hectic activity! Loud noises of people bargaining, soft swishing of women in sarees, young children begging to choose a special idol, bright lights add to the human frenzy, screeching cars and vehicles passing by. Suddenly rises a loud chant from among the crowd ‘ Ganapati Bappa.. Moraya’ ..Salutations to the God.

All is in abundance, all in good spirit.

Flower seller

Flower seller

When a special guest comes home, the house ( or community hall) needs extra decorations and twinkling lights. Another visit to the markets before the last day – decorative lamps, earthenware pots, trinkets, bells, twinkling lights and ….just some fancy stuff!

Suddenly… an eerie quietness descends on the street and shops, on the Ganesha Chaturthi day. Action moves indoors. Prayers, social meets and abundance of festival food.

The markets will have to wait for another year.. till Ganesha visits again.

Ganesha idols in shop

Ganesha idols in shop

Have you celebrated this festival? What did you buy from the market? Do share your comments.

For another blog on Ganesha see here.

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2016) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer

 

 

 

 

 

Details in Hand Embroidery and Crochet

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 Here is my entry for this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge.

Dictionary meaning of Detail is: specific feature, attribute, characteristic or element of an item or fact.

Whether in Nature or man made items, to create details involves extra time, effort and craftmanship. I salute all artists, weavers and craftsmen today as they  work on creating finer details in their hand made items.

Parsi Kor  borders showcase exquisite embroidery. Highly priced or kept as rich heirloom pieces, these borders are done with a cross stitch. A  variety of coloured threads in silk or cotton are used. The borders are then attached to sarees or wedding gifts like table linen.

Parsi Saree with traditional Kor / Border

Parsi Saree with traditional Kor / Border

Traditional Kashmiri designs are another example of detailed work.  Men and women, both work as Karigars or weavers. Thread colours used here are white (safed) and turquoise (firozi). Common motifs used are: paisley, delicate chinar leaf, saffron, narcissus and lily flowers. Just as in Nature, twirling creepers and lines add delicate element.

Kashmiri embroidery

Kashmiri embroidery

In crochet and knitting the details of design and stitch add that extra element. The picot stitch can be used in the border or in the body pattern (as I am using here). Picot adds a bit of charm, especially when used in borders to create a pointed effect on the line.

Crochet: Picot stitch

Crochet: Picot stitch

 if you want to produce something above the normal, just work on the DETAILS !

World Palate Recipes: Mumbai Style Vada Pav ( Burger)

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World Palate Recipes: Mumbai Style Vada Pav ( Burger)

Mumbai is a city which never lets anyone go hungry, a city that introduced the ‘iconic’ Vada Pav as its humble, satisfying street food. Maharastrian cuisine is zesty, spicy and masaledaar and the Vada Pav fits this concoction. Train travellers and Vasaiwallahs  popularly ate it as ‘ breakfast on the go.’  Today, with a hundred over kiosks and street stalls in Mumbai, the Batata vada and pav  are immensely popular among college students, office workers and at Shiv Sena political party meetings. Truly, this street food has captured the hearts of every Mumbaikar!

Vada Pav and Samosa at street kiosk, Mumbai

Vada Pav and Samosa at street kiosk, Mumbai

Served in a burger style with the vada (potato ball) sandwiched between sliced fluffy, white buns that are laced with dry garlic chutney.  A fried green chilli tucked in adds the fiery element of Maharashtrian cuisine.

Some of the most famous Vada pav kiosks are found near Sivaji Park, Dadar, CST Railway Terminal, Dadar’s Ruia college, MithiBai college, at  Chowpatty and Juhu beach. Let’s try an easy preparation in our  kitchen.

Batata Vada ingredients

Batata Vada ingredients

Ingredients

4-6 medium size potatoes

2-4 green chillies , finely chopped

fresh coriander and curry leaves (optional)

salt to taste

3-6 pods of garlic (optional)

1 inch ginger

green chillies with stem ( for frying)

2 onions chopped into quarters (optional)

4 white bread buns sliced in middle

Salted butter as needed

Oil for frying as needed

For Batter

1 1/2 cup gram /Besan flour

2-3 tbsps. rice flour (optional)

salt and chilli powder as per taste

water ( about 1 cup, as required)

Prepare a green chutney of your choice.

Method:

Boil and peel potatoes. Mash them lightly add salt to taste. Crush ginger, garlic, chillies in a mortar and add this paste to the potatoes. Throw in chopped coriander and curry leaves. Add a dash of turmeric (optional). Mix lightly and make balls. Set aside.

Batata /Potato balls and fried green chillies

Batata /Potato balls and fried green chillies

Fry the green chillies in hot oil, taking care they may splutter and pop out on you! Set aside.

Mix the batter with dry ingredients and add water slowly, to make a thick pouring consistency batter. Heat the oil, drop a tiny amount of batter to check if it rises /fluffs. Now dip /roll the potato balls in batter , coating well and drop them gently into the hot oil. 3-4 balls can be fried at a time. Don’t worry about tail ends, let them fry, and munch them later. Set aside balls on tissue to soak on extra oil ( if particular).

Lightly butter a thick Tava or flat pan. Roll the sliced pav and heat them on both sides till light brown.

Deep frying batata vada

Deep frying batata vada

Assemble the prepared items on a paper plate ( for a street food effect)-

1-2 fried chillies, chopped onions at one side, apply chutney to the inside of the sliced bun bread. Tuck in a vada. Tap the top half of bread into place and press lightly, so keep in place. Serve and enjoy with friends.

Mumbai street food: Vada Pav

Mumbai street food: Vada Pav

I take a lot of time and interest to make my blog. Please do not copy or paste my photos and material. Kindly contact me.

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2016) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer