You Know You Are A Bookworm…

… when you go to a relative’s place for a pooja, get entranced by the bookshelf at their place, and return home with a few of their books because they looked too interesting to resist.

Aren’t those covers gorgeous? Are the stories in the books just as delicious? I’ll tell you that soon, hopefully!

Well, reading is a form of meditation, a form of worship, too, me thinks.

And then, the very next day, you prove yourself worthy of the title of ‘Bookworm’ all over again by beginning to read a book to your daughter, and finding it so enjoyable a process that you end up reading three books one after the other!

These are among my latest book discoveries for Bubboo's library. Beautiful stories, all of them, beautifully worded. I hope Bubboo enjoys reading them again and again in the times to come!
These are among my latest book discoveries for Bubboo’s library. Beautiful stories, all of them, beautifully worded. I hope Bubboo enjoys reading them again and again in the times to come!

You are sure the latter was a clear case of the mother enjoying the book-reading session more than the child. But still, you persist. You hold on to the belief that your baby will grow up to be one who loves reading. :)

Little Foodie

We demand morsels whenever Amma and Appa eat anything at all. Yesterday, they gave us a plate all of my own! With one whole idli! Yippee!

When we were done playing with the idli, we played with the plate too. For a good half hour.

Food is to be played with, right? To be spread around on the plate, then rubbed on your hands, feet, hair, and face. Such fun!

Some More Foodie Discoveries

Metro Banana Chips, Ripe Sweet flavour

I am the kind of person who looks for the ‘sweeter’ chips in a packet of banana chips. You know, the chips made out of slightly ripened bananas, which get into a packet more by chance than by design, are browner than the others, and taste a tad sweeter? I have picked out those chips to eat ever since I was kid. So, naturally, I was overjoyed when I came across packets of Metro Banana Chips in the Ripe Sweet flavour. I got one home, and was delighted. The chips were fresh and delicious, crisp and sweet, just the way I wanted them to be.

Metro Raw Sweet banana chips

Metro Banana Chips are also available in several other varieties, but I am yet to try them out. I am happy with my ripe, sweet ones for now.

Good Day Choco Chunkies

The husband got a Good Day Choco Chunkies cookie on a flight and brought it home for me. Since then, I have been hooked to them. They have that ‘home-made’ feel to them, and not the perfect roundness that we usually associate with store-bought cookies. The choco chips are chunky, as promised, and chewy.

Good Day’s Choco Chunkies

It is a pleasure eating a cookie – sometimes, two – after a meal.

Belly & Soul Goodie Box

An FB acquaintance’s post led me to the Belly & Soul page, where I learnt about their monthly Belly Boxes. Crafted by Aparna George, Bangalore-based baker, the Belly Box is a surprise box of baked goodies. Priced at Rs. 550 per box, it includes both savoury and sweet baked treats. It comes out towards the end of every month, and customers can get it directly from Aparna or from one of her chosen outlets across the city. She even does home delivery, for a slightly additional charge.

I liked the idea of a surprise goodie box, where I would be getting some things of the baker’s choice, which could even include things that I might not have picked up in a bakery myself. I had read some good reviews about the Belly Boxes and so, went ahead and booked one for myself for July. I received my box yesterday and, I must say, I am impressed.

July’s Belly Box

This month’s Belly Box included Black Forest Cuppies, a slice of Coconut Custard Pie, a couple of Cranberry Oatmeal Squares, a cup of Home-made Oreos, and a slice of Multigrain Tomato, Garlic and Onion Focaccia. Every single thing was delicious, very fresh, unique to us, and much loved by everyone at home.

All of the above goodies came packed in a beautiful white box, with crisp instructions on how each item is supposed to be eaten and stored. Also, I thought the servings were generous, and that the box is value for money.

We had a bit of a problem bringing the box home from an outlet. It shook a little, the cupcakes got smashed, and the frosting on them got a tad disturbed. This is the only ‘con’ of the Belly Box that I can think of, if at all it can be called a con.

If you are in Bangalore, go ahead and order your Belly Box for the next month. Let yourself be surprised! I am sure you will not regret it at all.

Desserted, Vasanthnagar

The husband and I discovered Desserted, cafe and patisserie, at Vasanthnagar, quite by chance. We were passing by, the place looked interesting, it was time for lunch, and we decided to stop by for lunch. I am so, so glad we did, for it is a wonderful place, indeed.

Run by two sisters who love baking and cooking, Desserted stands in a prime location, bang opposite Mount Carmel College. The seating is cosy and comfortable, the place is green and pretty, and the ambience is warm and busy. No wonder it is frequented by a huge number of college students!

Desserted is a charming, old bungalow converted into an eatery, which made the place all the more fascinating for me. The eatery has the feel of an international patisserie, and the design of the menu reflects that.

I liked the way one of the two sisters personally interacts with the guests, making them comfortable, enabling them to have a warm and happy experience. We met one of them, too. I love the way this eatery ‘feels’ – not at all cold and sterile, like some eating establishments have felt to me.

The frontage of Desserted

We ordered a Pasta Exotica, a Baguette Sandwich, a Watermelon Juice, and a Cold Coffee. Everything tasted great, especially the Pasta Exotica, which both of us just loved. I liked how everything was made with good-quality, fresh ingredients – there was no scrimping on that. The prices are in the mid-range, I would say, neither too high nor too low. That said, I would say the meal was totally value for money.

I also loved the way Desserted serves its beverages in cute jars!

Cold coffee in a jar at Desserted

There are workshops, baking classes, and other events that happen quite regularly at Desserted. I do hope to check them out some time.

There is a quaint little shop inside the campus, selling a good variety of desserts. I got home a Lemon Tart from here, which I thought was delicious, though it was too tangy for the husband’s palate.

Lemon Tart from Desserted

I would love to go back here, and sample the other things on their menu, especially the desserts.

Do check out this place if you are in the vicinity. Highly recommended!

Raw Mango Chaat

So, we got hold of a raw mango this morning, probably the last we will be getting this season. It was already beginning to ripen when we bought it, the totapuri, and the slice that I cut off it hinted at that delicious blend of just right sourness and sweetness. It seemed just right for a raw mango chaat, and that is what became of it for tea time this evening. :)

I must add here that this recipe has been inspired by a mango chaat that I had at a roadside stall some time back.

Here is the step-by-step proceedure!

Ingredients (serves 2, as a snack):

1 medium-sized semi-raw mango, peeled and cubed (Preferably a totapuri, which isn’t tooth-hurtingly sour)

1 medium-sized onion, chopped finely

1 medium-sized carrot, peeled and grated finely

A handful of Congress kadalai or masala shing (store-bought)

A small bunch of fresh coriander leaves, chopped finely

A handful of South Indian-style mixture (store-bought)

3-4 chaat papdi, broken up (store-bought)

2-3 tablespoons of sweet-and-sour chutney

2 pinches of chaat masala

2-3 tablespoons of spicy green chutney

Method:

Put everything in a large mixing bowl. Mix well. Dig in!

Notes:

1. Why is Congress kadalai called so? There is an interesting story behind it.

In the late 70s, the Congress party headed by Indira Gandhi split into two parts: The original party was called INC (O) headed by K. Kamaraj and the one headed by Indira Gandhi was called INC (R). Just to make a parody of this, the groundnut was called ‘Congress Kadlekai’ because the groundnut is always split in two parts.

Answer courtesy: Quora

2. I usually buy the Congress kadalai ready, but you can even make it at home, if you wish to. Here is one recipe that you could use for the same.

3. There is a lot of stuff that you could add to this chaat, like sev, boiled sweet corn, pomegranate arils and what not. That said, I prefer making it the way I have outlined above. If you use too many ingredients, the chaat ends up looking like bhel that has raw mango as a small component, rather than ‘raw mango chaat’. I prefer raw mango to be the major ingredient – the highlight – of this dish.

4. This is my 8th post for this season’s Raw Mango Series, as I have chosen to call this collection of recipes.

The other seven posts for the Series are:

This is my 7th post for this season’s Raw Mango Series.

Here are my previous posts for the Series:

Maangaai Paruppu

Aamba/Aambe Daal

No-Coconut Raw Mango Gotsu

Kaachi Keri Ane Dungli Nu Kachumbar

Kerala-Style Instant Mango Pickle

Thengaai Maangaai Pattani Sundal

Quick-Fix Raw Mango Chitranna

5. Refer to this post to know how I make the spicy green chutney and the sweet-and-sour chutney. There are many other versions of these chutneys, but this is how I prefer making them.

6. Check out this and this if you want to make the chaat paapdi and mixture at home. I don’t have the patience to do so much of work, so I prefer store-bought.

In Pics: Tinkering About In A Goan Shipyard

I do not have the wherewithal for slow travel, where I can stay at a place for weeks or months on end, sample a variety of foods, visit spots beyond the usual tourist destinations, interact with the locals, and live like a local. Wherever I visit, I have to rush on to my home, my family, my work after a week, at the most. I envy those who have the luxury of travelling slowly, at their own pace, unencumbered by schedules and the like. I, on the other hand, slow down once I reach my destination and, instead of fast ticking off things from a touristy to-do list, try to get in as many local, unique experiences as I can. That is the best I can do, given the space I have.

This ensures that I always have something new to discover, every time I visit a place, however small it might be. Things and experiences that are new to me, I mean, not necessarily ‘new’ in the literal sense of the word. Goa has been no exception.

We have visited Goa a few times, but there is a lot there that we have not yet unexplored. On our recent trip, we did something new to us, something we had always wanted to do, but never actually did – visiting a shipyard. And what an experience it was! It was Samanth Subramanian who jolted me out of my reverie with his beautiful descriptions of shipyards in Gujarat, and inspired me to, finally, do this! :)

We were in quite a hurry and could make only a brief pit-stop at the shipyard at Vasco Da Gama. the few minutes we spent there were more than enough to fill us with awe, though.

We saw a number of huge vehicles at various stages in the process of being built, some being painted, some still being put together. A few of these ships looked old, worn out after several sea voyages, and were in the process of being repaired.

Workers, like busy bees, were milling around with their tools and equipments, getting the ships ready to embark on a journey far, far, far away on the sea.

My imagination began working overtime as soon as we entered the shipyard. Where would this ship travel to? Who would sail on that ship? Pirates, treasures, love affairs, virgin beaches, exotic clothes and spices, mermaids – I began building stories in my mind. Oh, all the stories that the sailors of these ships could tell me!What is to not love about these gorgeous ships? How could I not be mesmerized on seeing these giants being crafted from scratch, or having their dents ironed out?

Like an alarm clock rudely awakening one from a deep slumber on a chilly winter morning, our cab driver’s call came all too soon. We had to rush back. Well, the next time around, I do want to spend more time here, just taking in the sights and sounds and capturing them on camera to the best possible extent.

Veggie Upma, Zara Hatke

The typical South Indian vegetable upma – with curry leaves, mustard, and a dash of lemon juice – has been done to death in our house. We do love the conveniences that the upma offers: fast and easy to prepare, healthy, tasty, and filling, too.

Recently, when I wanted something upma-ish for breakfast but not the usual upma, I gave my grey cells a little bit of an exercise. Taking the cue from some online recipes, I decided to make the upma with curd and vegetables and fresh coriander, for a change. It was a risk, since we were super-duper hungry and I didn’t know how the upma would turn out. In the end, though, all was well, and the upma turned out delicious! I am happy I took the plunge now. :)

I even managed to take a couple of pictures before we started hogging it! :P

Here’s how I made it…

Ingredients (for 2 people):

1 large cup of rava, dry roasted till it emits a gorgeous fragrance

2 large cups of semi-thick curd

2 green chillies, slit length-wise

1 small carrot, peeled and grated

1 medium-sized onion, chopped finely

A small bunch of fresh coriander leaves, chopped finely

A handful of fresh green peas

1 small tomato, chopped finely

1 small-sized capsicum, chopped finely

Salt, to taste

2 teaspoons oil

A pinch of asafoetida

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

A 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped

About 4 small cloves of garlic, peeled

Method:

1. Grind the ginger and garlic to a paste in a mixer, with a little water. Keep aside.

2. Mix the roasted rava and curd in a large mixing bowl. Keep aside for at least 15 minutes before preparing the upma.

3. In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds, and allow them to splutter. Add the asafoetida.

4. Add the ginger-garlic paste. Saute till the raw smell goes away.

5. Add the onions. Saute till they are cooked a bit.

6. Now, add the chopped capsicum, grated carrot, and peas. Saute on a medium flame till the vegetables are cooked, sprinkling a little water as and when necessary.

7. Add the chopped tomatoes and slit green chillies. Cook on a medium flame till the tomatoes turn slightly mushy.

7. Add the curd-rava mixture and salt to taste. Mix well. Cook on a medium flame till the upma is cooked. Add a little water at intervals, if necessary. Keep stirring constantly, to ensure that the upma doesn’t stick to the pan too much and that no lumps are formed.

8. When the upma is done, add the finely chopped fresh coriander leaves. Mix well.

Serve hot!

What variations to the regular upma do you make at home? I would love to know!

Of A City And Its Contrasts

Bangalore has many names – like ‘City of Gardens’, ‘City of Pubs’, and, lately, ‘City of Malls’.  Most of these names indicate so-called progress, the forward march of the city towards modernity.

Along with the modern glass buildings and malls and huge signboards and boutique hotels in Bangalore city, the old, narrow roads, centuries-old eateries and temples and other establishments exist side by side. Right beside the posh houses and fine-dining restaurants exist slums and chaos and filth and… pigs. These contrasts, these layers are what intrigue me most – not only in Bangalore, but in whichever place I visit. My mind is drawn to these many layers that a place is enveloped in.

I had the opportunity to witness one of these contrasts recently, near the very posh HSR Layout in Bangalore. Small lanes near the layout are home to families of pigs, and some huge ones can be easily spotted foraging on the streets.

A jarring contrast, but an interesting one, nonetheless.

Apparently, HSR Layout and its surroundings are not the only places which have witnessed a surge in pig population lately.

The Last Two Weeks…

… have been among the most eventful, and interesting ones, in our family. A lot happened in these two weeks, after over a year of inactivity.

Bubboo went on her first trip to Madras with her parents, where she saw the beach for the first time ever and bonded with her great-grandmother and Mama-Thatha. Some sightseeing and some shopping happened too, after what seems like ages. Yay!

Then, finally, Dabolima aka Bubboo met the Goan waters. :) Her parents tagged along, of course! ;) The trip to Goa also happened to be Bubboo’s first airplane journey.

We had some of the most delicious food at both these places, and met some really interesting, colourful people. And, we put on oodles of weight, but that is a small price to pay for all the fun we had.

We are back home now, exhausted, with a lot of chores piled up, but with a lot of great experiences and wonderful memories in our wallet. Detailed posts will, hopefully, be up on the blog soon! Wait for ’em!

Of Amma And Bubbooness

Dearest darling Bubboo,

Are you even aware of the sweet, sweet smell of you?

I am not talking about the smell of your shampoo or your powder or your massage oil. I am talking about the sweet, clear, gorgeous ‘baby’ scent of you. Uniquely, unmistakeably you.

I am unable to get enough of that. That is why you often see me with my nose buried deep inside your neck, sniffing away. I want to take in as much of your scent as I can, for I fear it will soon be gone.

Your smell is one of the things I am going to miss sorely once you grow up a bit more. If I could bottle that scent and keep it forever, I would.

Loads of love,

Amma

Aloo Frankie

Being the big-time lover of vegetable rolls aka frankies that I am, it is surprising that I never tried making it at home. It was always something we grabbed from a fast-food outlet, out of home.

Recently, though, full of enthusiasm, I attempted aloo frankies in my home kitchen. I was amply rewarded for my enthusiasm. The frankies turned out delicious, much loved by everyone at home.

Here’s how I made them…

Ingredients (for 2 people) and proceedure:

For the rotis:

About 1 cup of wheat flour

A pinch of salt

1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons oil

Method:

1. Take the wheat flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the 1 tablespoon of oil and the salt.

2. Add the required amount of warm water, and knead into a soft, pliable dough that is not too sticky. Let the dough rest for about 30 minutes.

3. Fashion the dough into large-ish balls. The above quantity will give you about 6 balls.

4. Knead the balls into thick rotis (parathas) and cook them on a roti tawa with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Keep aside.

For the stuffing:

2 large-sized potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed

A handful of shelled green peas

1 small-sized onion, chopped finely

1 small-sized carrot, peeled and grated finely

1 small-sized capsicum, chopped finely

1 tablespoon oil

Salt, to taste

Red chilli powder, to taste

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

Method:

1. Heat the oil in a deep-bottomed pan. Add the onions and saute for about 2 minutes.

2. Now add the capsicum. Saute for 2 more minutes, or till the capsicum is partially cooked.

3. Now, add the shelled green peas and grated carrot. Saute till the vegetables look cooked.

4. Add the boiled and mashed potato, turmeric powder, salt and chilli powder to taste. Mix well. Let everything cook together for a minute or so. Switch off the gas and let the stuffing cool down a bit.

For the spread:

1-1/2 cups of thick curd, hung in a thin muslin cloth for a couple of hours

A few black, pitted olives in brine, chopped finely

A few pickled jalapenos, chopped finely

1 small onion, chopped finely

A few stalks of fresh coriander leaves, chopped finely

Salt, to taste

3 tablespoons of tomato ketchup

Chilli powder, to taste

Method:

1. Mix all the ingredients for the spread together, in a large mixing bowl.

2. Check for seasonings and add whatever is required. Keep aside.

Assembling:

1. Take a roti and spread with a little of the hung-curd mixture.

2. Place the potato filling in the centre of the roti, length-wise. Roll up the roti.

3. Prepare all the rotis similarly.

4. If required, heat up the rolls on the roti tawa or in the oven before serving.

Please do share your favourite recipes for rolls or frankies! I’m all ears!