World Palate Recipes:Til Gul Laadoo(Sesame and Jaggery Balls)

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It’s the Indian festival of Makar Sankranti from 13- 15 January. As the Sun God begins its movement northwards away from the southern hemisphere, it brings in warmth.

This is the first festival of the year and is celebrated all over India for abundance and health. India being an agrarian country festivals evolve around crops, harvesting and the farm animals. The paddy having been harvested and sold, brings in cash and joyfulness.The farming community celebrates Sankranti or Pongal for three days preparing feasts for family and friends, praying to Mother Earth and decorating and feeding the cattle.

Paddy field after harvest

Pongal o Pongal‘ – as they traditionally say in South India. A rice and milk kheer (pudding) sweetened with sugar cane juice is made in a clay pot. The milk is allowed to overflow signifying abundance.

Credit: Internet / dgreetings.com

In Maharashtra cane sugar is the main cash crop. Jaggery/gul and granulated sugar is made from the juice. Fresh jaggery (chikki gul), a golden orange -brown solid is abundantly sold during this season. Today, I have specially made Til Gul, a traditional Maharashtrian recipe for my ‘virtual’ community. The ingredients are proper to boost health and provide warmth to the body during the winter.

‘Til gul ghaya, god bola’ …Take sesame and jaggery sweets and speak sweet words.

Til Gul – sesame and jaggery balls

Ingredients

1 cup sesame seeds/ Til roasted

1/2 cup peanuts roasted / coarse grind

10 – 15 raisins (optional)

1 cup chikki gul / a jaggery with lighter hue if available

1 tsp. ghee /clarified butter

1/2 cup grated dry coconut or desiccated coconut (optional)

1/2 cup roasted gram dal (optional)

 

Method

Warm a non stick wok /deep pan on the stove, add the ghee. As it melts add the jaggery and keep stirring continuously. To test if liquid is ready for setting: Take a drop and plunge in to some water – it should make a blob. ( This is the test, needs practice).

Meanwhile prepare the dry ingredients in a large plate and keep handy.

As the jaggery begins boiling, add the dry ingredients one by one, as much as the semi liquid can take. DO NOT pour all at once! Keep stirring to mix evenly. Switch off /on heat, if necessary. As the mixture begins to thicken and leave the sides of the wok it ready to be removed from heat.

Dip your hands in cool water or pat them with ghee /oil and take small portions of (hot) mixture and roll quickly into balls, of required size. ( makes 25 small ones).

Else …grease a flat plate or tray. Pour the mixture evenly and pat. Let it rest and cool. Cut into squares and serve, or keep in airtight box.

Til Gul ghaya, god bola’….and share with friends and family.

Til Gul – sesame and jaggery balls

 

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

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New Year, New Growth

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My first blog of 2018 is an entry on ‘growth‘ by Daily Post challenge. Here’s wishing all my readers a Happy New Year!

A year of growth in strength:physical, mental and spiritual.

In growth there is positive energy.

In growth there is a change.

In growth there is a new beginning.

Here is the link: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/challenge

‘Growth is the only evidence of life.’ John Henry Newman.

Our apartment window sill is home to two warm pigeon eggs. It’s exciting to see them grow and be incubated.Though pigeons are a nuisance, to see the eggs hatch will be interesting.

‘All the flowers of tomorrow, are in the seeds of today’. 

Chinese proverb

Our kitchen garden gives us plenty of exciting opportunities to witness growth. As a new leaf sprouts, we await the flowers. As the flowers bloom, we await the bees. As the bee arrives we await pollination. Growth and change. Soon the flowers will turn into seeds ( pods of broad beans in the photo).

How do you plan to grow this year? What new beginnings are you undertaking? 

Kaleidoscope 2017: Photo Quiz

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The year 2017 that was….

It’s almost year end! Everyone of us has had their share of keeping the resolutions, bonding with family and friends, reaching out to community, travel, shopping and other needs of life. Some fun, some tough. Only moments that have challenged our strength, patience and sanity test us longer.

‘ There is not much growth when the road is smooth. We only grow when we face challenges that strengthen us from within and out.’

Anonymous.

As a year-end post, here is a quiz for you. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading up and enjoying the photo stories all along. Here’s a quiz.

How well do you remember year 2017 photos?

Your prize:  A small crochet item for the first person to have correct answers posted in the comments box below.

  1.   Which city is famous for this fruit? What sweet is the city famous for?

2.

Where did I capture this notebook seller? What items are sold in this market?

3.

What is the plant that is used to make this decorative item. What is the decoration called?

4.

Kitchen gardening is our latest hobby. Which vegetable did I grow and make this curry? In which countries does it grow?

5.

Yummmm…A ‘chatpata‘ snack invariably sold on Indian …….? What does the word ‘chatpata’ mean?

6.

It’s heart warming when friends cook and share their recipes. What is this preparation? When is it specially prepared?

7.

These flowers are used to make orange dye. Name the flower and the blog post that describes this.

Easy? Hope you hear your answers soon. What would you like me to add in my posts next year?

        Wish you all a happy and  

      successfull New Year 2018.

Stay strong, stay calm…be happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AirBnb: A New Venture and Learning Experience

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Year 2017 is almost drawing to an end. But before it closes upon us, we’ve begun a new venture. We believe it’s a good learning opportunity in hospitality, managing time and money and sharing our skills in cooking, gardening and connecting with people.

Here is our listing on the AirBnb site. Come visit us in Hyderabad.

https://www.airbnb.co.in/rooms/21637631?location=Secunderabad

Air Bnb apartment

 

On another note: our kitchen garden is taking shape. We have recently planted spinach, Gongura (sorrel leaves), broad beans and bitter gourd, besides some flowering plants.  So wait for some recipes.

Enjoy the rest of the year and be thankful for all the people and things in your life.

 

 

Winter Vegetables at the Street Market

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Yet another street market? What’s different, you may ask. With a discerning eye and a storyteller’s mind let me weave the picture.

Off the main road in Karkhana, Hyderabad I spotted this weekly street market, just by chance. It was Wednesday evening. Gradually the vendors had begun spreading their jute bags to carpet their predetermined area. In the backdrop brightly painted two-storied buildings in blue, deep yellow, bright green and pink brought added colour to the place. Winding steps cluttered with potted plants, open terraces with hanging cloth blankets or bontalu detailed the residential character of the street.

A push cart laden with colourful glass bangles vied for attention. Glistening in the evening sun red, blue, deep green, gold, yellow, grey and pink bangles were tied in clusters. Even the young peddler, with  mobile in hand, sported an equally colourful shirt!

Ahead, Nagamani Amma a bit amused watched me patiently. Would I be interested in buying brinjal, beans or okra instead? Bending to pick up some winter beans I noticed her wrists sporting a dozen green bangles. She was a picture perfect! Red saree, a nose ring, large bindi on her forehead and bangles on her wrists. Traditional simplicity!

Winter brings in its bounty of seasonal vegetables – Indian broad beans (chikudkaya), cabbage, cauliflower, radish. Fresh green bunches coriander, mint and spinach – everyone’s delight! I couldn’t wait to go home and add fresh chopped coriander to my dal.

Ahh….what aroma.

No market scene is complete without carts, vendors, carry boys, busy women with cloth bags or baskets (plastic is forbidden), pop corn or fruit stalls and loaders scuffling between the crowds.

If a street has a spirit, no matter how narrow it is, we can breathe comfortably over there.”
― Mehmet Murat

In that narrow, crowded street, life went on as usual. Children rushing out of their homes to play, women squatting on their doorsteps after a long day, chatting merrily with neighbours, yet others collecting clothes from the terrace ahead of dusk. Was the market like an ongoing weekly movie? Was it a nuisance as crowds gathered and leftover garbage littered the area? Or was it easy shopping at the doorstep?

Weekly markets or grower’s market are a common sight in many countries. Each has a distinct style and produce sale. What is your experience and where?

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

 

 

 

World Palate Recipes: Snake Gourd Vegetable (Potlakaya Poriyal)

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It’s been an exciting learning curve in our newly planted kitchen garden. The sun’s direction, weather changes, water supply and fertility of soil were our primary challenges. Then came the deciding factor of choosing plants and their positioning.

As the Bhindi (okra) and potlakaya (snake gourd) began thriving, we (first timers) counted each new leaf and pod:) The potlakaya creeper is a fast growing plant and soon climbed up the prepared trellis and gave small white flowers in abundance. ‘Look! let’s count the potlakaya hanging underneath’ I later muttered to hubby. We even tied a string and stone to each so it would grow long and straight…haha!

Over to the kitchen- with the garden fresh gourd  in hand.

padval, chirchinda. It grows best in warm climate and sandy, loamy soil with a bit of compost. It is high in fiber and has much water, so it’s low in calories. It has Vitamin A, B and C and is used in medicinal properties like treating dandruff and diabetes. The pith and seeds are discarded after slicing.

A variety of recipes can be made from this vegetable. One can just temper /fry it for a curry, boil it and add some yoghurt for a raita or make stuffed curry. What’s your preferred recipe? From which region?

(Potlakaya Poriyal) or Snake gourd Vegetable

Ingredients

2 snake gourds medium length

1/2 cup fresh grated coconut (or dry roasted, if not available)

Tempering:

1/2 spoon urad dal + chana dal mixture

1 sprig of curry leaf

1 spoon mustard seeds

1 spoon turmeric powder or haldi

1-2 dry red chillies

(optional – green chilli and ginger paste as required)

Traditional Spice box or Masala Dabba

Method

1-2 snake gourds, choose tender ones. Slit lengthwise and de seed, removing all the pith. Wash and sprinkle some salt, let it rest. Discard the water.

In a wok/ kadhai add 2 spoons of oil. Once warm, sprinkle the lentil mixture, mustard seeds and dry red chilli. Add a sprig of curry leaf or kadipatta. Let this tadka or tempering crackle, take care this does not burn.

Add the gourd pieces and stir cook. Add a bit of water to cook if required else cover the kadhai with a some water on the lid. Stir as required and vegetable cooks quickly. Add the fresh grated coconut, adjust the salt.

I avoid adding any ginger / garlic to these garden fresh vegetables to keep their inherent taste. Suit yourself. Garnish with kadipatta or curry leaves. Serve with rice or roti.

 

A very quick and easy preparation, and light on the stomach. Enjoy!

What’s growing in your garden?

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

World Palate Recipes: Dry Fruits Barfi (Noughat)

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Once again it’s the festival of lights – Deepavali. All over India homes, shops and streets are decked in bright colour, tinkling lights, and garlands of marigold flowers. The festival celebrates ‘light over darkness’ and rejuvenating ourselves with knowledge. People lit diya or mud lamps in their homes and offices, symbolically to spread light.

Rangoli floor design

Indulgence in sweets mithai comes only naturally as friends and family  visit each other exchanging traditional home made sweets like Ladoo, Karanji, Doodh pak, Kalakand, Gulab Jamun. In recent times, fusion food followers are making fresh efforts to introduce new ingredients and recipes. Rose water, figs, khoya and baadam, chocolate, avocado and variety of nuts give a twist to the traditional recipes.

Here is a quick, easy and nutritious recipe using dry fruits.

Dry fruit Barfi

Ingredients

30 gms of each – almonds, figs, dates, pistachio, cashew nut ..and any other nut you may wish to introduce

20 gms roasted sesame seeds

10 gms poppy seeds or khus khus

2 spoons ghee or clarified butter

2 spoons wheat flour (optional)

Method

Finely chop the figs, dates and lightly soak them in very few drops of water for about 5-10 mins.

Coarse grind almonds, pistachio, cashew nuts and roasted sesame seeds – all separately! Keep aside in small separate portions.

Put a large pan on the burner to warm, add ghee and stir as it melts. Add the flour and roast till it gives aroma. Add in the dry fruits and nut mixture. Keep aside some pistachio powder and khus khus for garnish. Stir the mixture till all is well coated and mixed. Remove from burner and roll into cylindrical shape tightly. Tie a plastic wrap or aluminium foil and refrigerate.

Once cooled, remove from wrap. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Roll the edges with khus khus. Decorate on plate. (Optional – coat with silver edible foil if you wish, adds a festive touch).

Happy Deepavali. Enjoy the treats with your dear ones.

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

Daily Post Entry: Structure

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Here is my entry for this week’s Daily Post. To see more see the link below.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/structure/

Paani puri , is a favourite evening road side snack, almost all over India. Also known as Gol guppas or Puchka, it is made of wheat based puri or fried base then laced with a concoction of tangy, sweet, chilli chutneys upon boiled potato and sev.

However, the conical bamboo stand holding up the food set up is hardly noticed. Being light and convenient, the vendor carries it everyday from home to the roadside stall and setting up his business.

Notice the structure

Conical bamboo stand holding bags of pani puri

A Flower Colour Burst at Monda Market

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”Flowers always make people happier, cheerful and add

         colour to life. They are Nature’s medicine for the soul.”

Marigold flower – Orange blooms

There’s no other market in Hyderabad that stocks truckloads of flowers for sale, except Monda market. (I don’t mean the Lilies, Roses and cut stem flowers). This market caters to the very Indian at heart – flowers for garlands, hair decoration and puja offerings.

Opening at 6 am everyday of the year (no holidays!) it’s the premier, overflowing marketplace adjacent to the fruit and vegetable market. Every festive season flower stalls swell to meet the enormous demand. Prices soar almost double and so do the people’s voices.

We went shopping early at 7:00 am. Mounds of loose marigold flowers, rose petals, paan( betel leaf), toran(door decorations), hardy brown coconuts were all being organized onto the makeshift pedestal stalls. Shopkeepers were in a frenzy ahead of the busy Friday morning, unfolding the moist red cloth tied around baskets to keep everything fresh.

There I began taking photos as usual, or striking a quick chat in the midst of this shopping maze. THAT distraction was enough to misplace my bag full of mango leaves and other puja necessities! Phew!

Today, being a puja day during the month of Shravan, loose flowers  were selling at Rs. 80 -Rs. 100 per kilo prices, higher than usual of Rs.50 – 60. Marigold, Aster, Zinnia and rose petals are in high demand during this time used for making door decorations and elaborate wedding pandals as well as puja offering.

Here is our hero for the day- A  young and smart shopkeeper with experience from his childhood days made a has been beautiful toran for us from fresh palm leaves in a jiffy. Just snip the palm leaf with a sharp blade, a twist here – a turn there – and behold!

 

 

How about some flower garlands for your hair, Madam? said this shopkeeper and wanted me to take his photo as he held up the jasmine and rose malai. The contrast of colours of the tightly hand knotted flowers and the perfume of  jasmine…..ahhh! was a beautiful invitation whether to the Lord or to a young Romeo 🙂

Heading to the adjacent fruit market, we bought 5 types of fruit for the puja and some paan.

Till then, hoping you will visit a crowded flower market to brighten your day and mood. Share your mood with us as you smell the flowers, wherever.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scorching Summer, Date Palms, Al Ain market.

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                    Sunshine all the time,

                    Makes a desert. ( Arab Proverb).

Driving past the sand dunes from Abu Dhabi to Al Ain city, last month when temperature soared above 40 degrees, was certainly not the best time. With a visit to the date farms and Al Ain market on the list… we had to meet the harsh weather, just like the Bedouins!

The drive took less than two hours, past the sand dunes in differing hues. Near the Al Nahyan Jahili museum, is the lush green curated (UNESCO site) palm plantation. With over 1000 palms and 50 varieties grown here, it was a blessing to stand under the shade of the fronds. Braving the sun, we explored the different plantations on either side of the central passageway. The traditional falaj irrigation system provides the required amount of water released as needed.

Expressway fro, Abu Dhabi to Al Ain

What a treat and unique experience it was as we plucked fresh crunchy, semi-ripe dates! Hanging in clusters of 10-20 fruit, the sugary fruit quickly saturated us. There were plenty fallen on the soft sandy soil. Crunch, crunch, crunch……and finally a burp!

Crunchy, fresh dates – best eaten raw.

The local grocer market at nearby Mina centre, is just a drive round the corner. The low-rise building was almost hidden from view. Don’t expect an open air souk, with goats or camel standing there. For that, visit the Camel Souk.

The airy covered and ventilated market area is quite large with shops on either side and a large central corridor for easy flow of customers and goods. The vendors are locals, immigrants settled here from coastal India, Philippine, neighbouring Oman and Sudan, but no Emirati shopkeepers. A friendly Emirati, clad in his traditional long white Kandoura, helped me choose the most succulent dates and nudged me into buying 5 kilo! ‘They are good, good…season fresh now’ he said.

There were plenty of stalls selling dry fish and sea food like cuttlefish, fish ball cakes, dry sea weed, fish crackers… produce brought in from coastal Oman and Kerala in India. These are a sought after delicacy among the Emirati population, who otherwise prefer camel meat and poultry.

Delicate woven straw baskets, aluminium trays filled with season’s dry dates like Barhi, Niloufer and local Al Ain specialties were aplenty. Most vendors were Keralites who had settled here many years ago, working on farms owned by locals.

I struck a good bargain, as a fellow Indian and offered AED 13 Dirham per kilo. These dates he explained ‘were season’s fresh, not dipped in any sugar syrup and unprocessed. And no packaging too’. He offered me 3-4 different varieties of dates to taste. There… I was burping again!

It was time to refresh with some cool Labaan, a popular yoghurt drink with enough salts and dairy to refresh you on a hot day. Small air-conditioned shops nearby catered to needs of the shopkeepers and buyers. Fresh vegetables like lettuce, mint, coriander, green leafy vegetables and bananas, melons and papaya – mostly grown in nearby greenhouse farms made their way to this market. The refrigerator kiosk was filled with dairy products.

Carrying plastic bags filled with fresh dates for friends and family, it was time to bid goodbye to the city market. We left richer – with bag loads of fruit and a deeper knowledge of the summer conditions that ripen the fruit. Locals briefed us about the nutritional content and importance of providing sustenance to those tired, weary desert Bedouins. No wonder then Mother Maryam was advised to ”shake that palm towards you, and the dates will fall and feed you” as mentioned in the Holy book.

 

Have you been to a date plantation ? Share your experience. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crochet: Importance of Practice

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While chatting with a story-teller friend last week we discussed how we kept repeating and …getting better. She at story telling and me at crochet. I moaned ‘I just work on Granny squares time and again!’ She chirped ‘ I tell a few (same) stories to the children, again and again’. We both smiled!

Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes it perfect.’

Vince Lombardi.

  • As a beginner to crochet you will wonder where to start, what to practice upon. When a friend introduced me to the yarn and needle, we both began on mastering the chain stitch and double crochet(dc). Recently, two new friends came along and gifting them small colourful  yarn bundles to work upon was the best way to learn and practice crochet, in the midst of chai cups:)
  • Begin with small projects. Mastering the basic Granny squares works for me. As you master the yarn tension, keep count of the chains or trebles, learn to turn your work every new row, learn to measure, and of course find your mistakes – rip it – re-do. It’s all about practice. The process sure can be very demanding, at times frustrating, but surely satisfying!
  • Adding colour and variety keeps interest flowing. Who says you need to be a Granny to do crochet? Well, search the You Tube or crochet books and you’ll find a dozen different patterns to do a basic square to practice upon. (I know only 3 patterns).

Multi colour granny squares

crochet squares- solid granny pattern

  • Step up, move on. Once you’ve mastered a certain stitch or pattern, it’s time to add a bit of challenge to your work. According to Jean Piaget, a child psychologist, children (we) go through four stages of cognitive development. Thus, as we see and experience, learn the basic schema (a pattern), new experiences or knowledge presented modifies or adapts our learning to reach next level.
  • From small to big is the next stage. Practice old and new stitches. Create something more meaningful. Time to turn those squares or hexagons into dish cloths, Afghans, baby blankets,bags and more.
  • Granny square blanket

     

    Granny square bag

    Courtesy: Internet
    Granny Square Vest

    Do share your experiences on practice. What are you working on at present? How does practice benefit or irritate you? 

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

Big Thank You to my Reader’s

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       Yippee…I’ve just published my 120th blog post.

 

Numbers do not mean anything, they say.

All the same without an audience, me an amateur writer would have nothing more motivating than you. The blog began 3 years ago as a ‘time filler and learning to use the computer meaningfully.’ Somehow along the way, curious friends and bloggers began reading and following 🙂 Thank you to each on of you!

 

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