Sunday, June 28, 2009

birthday night at the ' the intercontinental'

our daughter l decided to give me a treat on my sixtyfifth birthday. as my better-half and my s-i-l were travelling, it was just the two of us. we had to pick a place where we could go without much hassle and just chill out. we looked at several options. and then zeroed in on 'the intercontinental' at marine drive which is at walking distance from our home.

'the dome' at the intercontinental is a very interesting restaurant located on the eighth floor of the hotel and on the rooftop. one gets a kaleidoscopic view of the arabian sea and the marine drive promenade with a breathtaking look at the glittering 'queen's necklace'. with a stunning view that it has to offer and the comfortable lounging swish white sofas,you can have a very relaxing evening with your friend and choose from a varied selection of drinks and cigar.there is a private glass enclosed bar as well in the centre of the restaurant. a white tent was already provided in anticipation of the monoon.i ordered a mojita with plenty of ice which was excellent and very satisfying. it is a great place to unwind.we chatted for a while and i caught up on a lot of things that i had missed out.both of us travel a lot on work.we found the drinks a bit overpriced though; but then one rationalises it by saying to oneself that you are also paying for the ambience and the style statement.

when we dine at the 'intercontinental', we prefer to go to the 'dome' first for a drink and later descend to the 'kabab corner' on the first floor for a north indian meal. the sardarji steward is a friendly guy who makes our stay as pleasant as possible with his quick and witty service and wonderful manners. the 'kabab corner' is spacious,guest-friendly and the waiters dressed in black coats bend over backwards attending to every request that you make.the kebabs are to die for,even the vegetarian stuff.they just melt in your mouth.after all isn't it the top kebab place in town? we ordered a variety of indian bread,dal makhani and some baingan curry. the kebabs,the ambience and the service compensated to a large extent for the lack of real flavour in the food.

when the cheque arrived,i offered to pay up. l would have nothing of it and she graciously signed the cheque with heavy tips to the was a wonderful treat from a loving daughter to a doting father.

Friday, June 26, 2009

'vepampoo'(neemflower) rasam

this is not a very popular rasam as it has a bitter tinge because of the flower of the neem leaves. the taste has to be cultivated.but neem has some great healing is an excellent deworming agent.also by regular consumption the digestive system can be strengthened. and if cooked well it can be a very stimulating and satisfying rasam.

when we lived in chembur in the mid-seventies, we had a large neem tree in our was the first tree that my mom had planted. during season,i enjoyed picking up the flowers.they have a good smell though when you consume the cooked rasam it tastes a bit bitter.

if what i have said above doesn't put you off, try this method with the following ingredients:

3 tsp ghee,one and half table spoonful dried neem flowers,one small ball of tamarind,1/2 tsp rasam powder,one tablespoon jaggery.i small tomato cut into four parts and add 1 tsp salt for taste. make a spice paste of 1 tsp ghee,1 tsp pigeeon pea,3 red chilies.1/2 tsp methi seeds.1/2 tsp hing.

take tamarind, make a small ball of it and soak it in about one cups of water.after some time squeeze the tamarind to the fullest.keep the water plus tamarind solution.put the tamarind water on the stove and add salt and asfoetida to the solution.boil this combination.take a pan,add some oil and red chillies.wait for the chillies to turn black.then add 'vepampoo'.once the 'vepampoo' also turns quite black for a good flavour add the chillies and 'vepampoo' to the boiling solution.add another cup of water,bring to boil and remove from stove.tadkafy with seasoned mustards.
dress it up with coriander leaves and curry leaves also.

serve it hot with plain rice or it can be taken separately as a soup.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

a simple recipe for a delectable 'sundal'

sunday is a good day to have 'sundal'. as an evening tiffin when you are looking for a snack that can keep you going till dinner time. on normal working days,i return home rather late and there is just time to shower and head straight for the 'sappadu'(meals). our cook gb who is a maharashtrain makes delicious 'sundal'.since the main ingredient is dried beans,the protein in the beans makes it an energetic food and it is very easy to make. during navarathri, in traditional south indian homes,women are invited to participate in the golu festival-a festival of dolls. every evening a different type of sundal is prepared.

during my childhood days,i would visit my grandma who lived in a village about 100 miles south of chennai during the summer holidays. without fail, we would be treated to a cup of 'sundal' either made at home or taken as a 'prasad' from the village temple.old habits die hard, they say. i still have my sundal at least once a week.

here is the recipe for what gb made today:

what are the ingredients?

• 2 cups chana dal
• 6 green chilies
• some curry leaves
• 1/4 cup shredded coconut and 1 red chilli
• 1&1/2 tsp mustard Seeds and a dash of asfoetida
• 1 table spoon iodised salt
• oil for seasoning

and what is the method to be followed?

• wash and soak chana dal for 12 hours preferably overnight
• cook it in the pressure cooker with some salt.
• take the frying pan and pour oil,heat the oil and add mustard seeds to the heated oil.
• when it splutters add the chilies and fry for two to three minutes.
• add pressure cooked channa dal, curry leaves, shredded coconut, and salt and mix well.

quite easy to make and tasty to eat,it is nutritious as well. what are you waiting for? put on the apron and just do it.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

parupppu urandai(balls) kozhambu

i have a great partiality for this kozhambu. on a first look, a north indian might think it is kofta curry. but a deeper look will reveal the truth and he will wonder how he was completely deceived. he wouldn’t have bargained for tur daal balls soaking in hot gravy. it is not easy to make. if the tur daal balls are too hard, your teeth could get into some trouble or if it is too soft, it will just crumble in the mouth and you have lost the taste and the should be just hard enough to breakdown when you bite into it and give you that lovely tangy feeling of tamarind and dal. when mixed with rice and eaten you don’t really need a vegetable accompaniment.

what are the ingredients that go into this explosive kozhambu?

for the kuzhambu- one small lemon size tamarind,one teaspoon sambhar powder,very little turmeric powder,one-half teaspoon mustard seeds, a dash of hing powder,two red chillis, two tablespoons of oil, some curry leaves and coriander leaves.

for the paruppu urandai- half cup tur daal,one red chilli,onehalf teaspoon of salt and a bit of hing powder..

and here is how you prepare the paruppu urandai:

1) soak the tur daal for an hour or so.
2) add red chilli,hing powder,and salt. grind into a thick batter with water.
3) take a kadai,pour one table spoon of oil add the daal batter and stir till it is cooked well and leaves the walls of the kadai.remove it and place it in a plate and allow to cool.then roll into small size balls . place it on a idli plate and steam cook.
4) it is not really necessary to steam it. if the paruppu urandais are not well cooked it may dissolve in the water.

and how about the kuzhambu?

1) soak the tamarind in a cup of warm water.extract the juice after some time.repeat and add salt and turmeric powder.
2) heat one table spoon oil in a kadai.allow the mustard seeds to splutter and then add the sambhar powder,hing powder.stir,add the curry leaves and add to tamarind water.
3) boil the tamarind water.add the paruppu urandais carefully.again boil in average heat.
4) add chopped coriander leaves and serve with rice.

our cook gb has been preparing it for the last so many years from time time to time.yet she has not mastered it.those of you who haven't tried cooking this delectable stuff,don't hesitate to try it. i have heavily borrowed the recipe from andu patti's cookbook.she can't be wrong! and there is paruppu urandai rasam too! wait for some hot rasams. they are coming.with the monsoon.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

rest your head on the teddy bear and listen to the singing rabbit

about a fortnight back when i was in kolkata i visited the crossword book store.i like the place for its quiet and simple ambience. i spent a couple of hours browsing through the latest books,had some hot chai and picked up a few books in the process.i also went to the toys section as i coudn't imagine myself returning home emptyhanded without any gifts for our dear grandchildren-r1 and r2.

r1 will be completing 2 years early next week while r2 is 6 months young.both are lovely little girls.r1 is a puzzle,a puzzle is a must must gift. and she loves to play with colours.therefore, a colourbook is also 'de riguer' when i go outstation. r2 watches all the hungama her elder sister makes with absolute mirth in her eyes almost saying "hey sis,what's all this fuss about? in addition to the compulsory gifts,this time i got a teddy bear chair for r1 and a musical rabbit for r2. they are fond of our two cockerspaniels mango and cherry.i decided to bring in two more animals to provide them with a virtual zoo at home.

the bear chair is a cute bear headrest made out of vinyl and very portable(inflatable) hopefully durable and comfortable.the rabbit sings when a button is pressed and even taps with one leg and shakes the's fun watching the rabbit in action.these toys are made in china and they are pretty has to be careful with toys from china because of the toxicity in some of their products. sadly,our toys don't match up to the china standards.though i have bought wooden choppus from chennapatna and other toys in mumbai toy shops they fall far short of the ingenuity of the chinese. the toy market in india is huge.unlike when we were young and hardly played with toys,the present generation of parents literally dump their children with all sorts of is high time we start excelling in this industry and give the chinese a run for their money.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

"nungu, nungu"

nungu is a very unique is the kernel of the palmyra tree.the nungus are cream coloured and are heart shaped. each fruit has one or two kernels in it. whether it is mumbai or kolkata or titilagarh in orissa,i found roadside vendors stacking up these almost black looking fruits during this hot summer season. and they were getting sold like hot cakes.
though many eat the nungu with the fibre, most peel off the skin and eat it with relish without biting it into pieces but by putting the whole nungu in the mouth and gradually sucking it . you get a lovely feeling when it travels down your tastes like sweet white jelly. some like to add some chaat masala while others prefer to put a dash of sugar and cardamom powder on it. I like it plain.

from a nutrition point of view,the fruit is terrific. it has a high content of phosphorous and calcium and hardly any fat.

when we were young we would visit our grandma(paatti) living in a village near villupuram every year during the summer vacation. every afternoon during our stay which would be for about a month,she would select soft nungus from the seller who used to enter the village shouting “nungu,nungu” at the top of his voice. we would rush to our paatti and inform her that the nungu vendor had arrived. she would then tie up small change in her sari and come out of the main entrance door and bargain with the nunguwalla and get us the best nungus for the best brothers,sister and myself woud rejoice once the purchase was made.paatt would then place them in a plate and gradually skn off the top creamy coloured layer. voila,the fruit was then ready to be gobbled up!

the shelf life of nungus is very poor.the taste is best when it is just taken out, have nungus in plenty and beat the heat.don't postpone your buying decision as the monsson is around the corner.

if you have any suggestions of how this delicious fruit can be used to prepare something very tasty,do send me your comments.