Masala Dosa Recipe| How To Make Masala Dosa

I would have been around 12 years of age when my first real spark of interest in cooking ignited. I don’t remember precisely which grade I was studying in then, but I do remember the particular day when it happened very, very clearly. Masala Dosa was the first-ever recipe I made on my own. Making Masala Dosa isn’t a big deal for me today, but back then, it was. It was a huge thing, an achievement!

The Foodie Monday Blog Hop group that I am part of has ‘#MyBeginnerRecipe’ as the theme this week, wherein we are required to share the recipe for the very first dish we cooked on our own. Head over to my blog post to read my beginner cooking tale, and my beginner Masala Dosa recipe!

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Dodh-E-Pather Aka Doodhpatri, The Valley Of Milk

When the husband, the bub and I embarked on our drive to Doodhpatri, some 40-odd kilometers away from Srinagar (where we were staying), little did we know that we would absolutely fall in love with the place. Neither did we know that Doodhpatri would force us to think deep and hard about human nature.

Read my detailed story, just in on my photo blog!

Ahmedabad, after ages

So, so, so, that long-pending trip to Ahmedabad finally happened! On New Year’s day, the husband got confirmation for a work trip to Ahmedabad, and he asked if the bub and I would accompany us. We did just that, flight tickets were booked, and we were off the very next day – as simple as that. After 6 long years, I finally visited the place where I grew up, and it happened Just.Like.That!

Did I find traces of the city I loved so much or has it changed drastically?

Well, yes and no.

Ahmedabad has, indeed, changed drastically. I don’t know the routes in the city any more. I don’t have a home to stay there any more. The area where I used to live in has changed beyond description. There are loads of new shops and eateries that have come up, and some old favourites of mine (the school I studied in included) have disappeared. The few tourist attractions in the city have been given a huge facelift. I have lost touch with the language – I can’t speak it so fluently any more, though I managed to read the script pretty well. That makes a difference, for sure.

But then, some of my old haunts still exist. The heart of the city still remains the same, and I cannot be more thankful for that. I managed to check out a few of them, in the week’s time that we were in the city. I got reacquainted with some foods that I used to love gorging on, and got shocked at just how much the prices have increased since then. I met up with old friends, shared old and new stories, and built better connections. I managed to show my daughter (and husband) some of what my life before them had held. I stayed over at relatives’ places, and liked it better than I had expected to. I rekindled some very old memories, some pleasant, some others not so much. I fell in love with the broad roads and ease of transportation in the city all over again (though it is not the same as before, the traffic is still way better than it is in Bangalore). I discovered new food joints with the husband and friends. I fleetingly visited the apartment I used to call home, and felt stumped. People recognised me and talked to me, and I felt stumped all over again.

Overall, my trip to Ahmedabad after ages was a mixed bag. I was kind of nervous before I left, I admit, of what I’d find there, but it wasn’t so bad. It was wonderful, in fact. I should do this more often, I realise. Hopefully, my next visit won’t take 6 more years!

Stories from Ahmedabad – coming up soon!

Thoughts After Visiting MS Subbulakshmi’s House In Madurai

In a narrow, narrow, narrow alley called Mela Anumantharaya Kovil Street in Madurai, one can find the house that the legendary South Indian singer MS Subbulakshmi once lived in. This fact isn’t known to many, not even the locals who live and work around the very house!

Thanks to a blog post by a fellow passionate travel blogger, the husband and I got to know of the house. Having grown up with the music of this legend, we were quite eager to see her house, on our recent holiday in Madurai. We did manage to visit it, too. Do check out my post about this!

The 2016 Year-End Meme

It is the end of the year, and I am in introspection mode. Hence, this post.

  1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before? 
  • I took up a short meditation class with The Art Of Living group. I haven’t been following anything they told me to follow, post the class, but it sure gave me an insight into yoga and meditation. I hope to go deeper into this in 2017!
  • I delved deeper into the world of food blogging. I began to understand different types of ingredients and cooking processes better, started experimenting a lot more. I started attending various food-related events, and started getting to know the food bloggers’ community in Bangalore a bit better.
  • We celebrated the kid’s second birthday.
  • I experimented with a part-time job, quit after a short stint, and became a full-time stay-at-home mother.
  • We visited Calcutta, a place I had always dreamt of visiting! We got to be a part of the Kali Pooja celebrations there, something that I will always cherish.
  • We visited the Sai Baba temple at Shirdi, another place that I had always wanted to visit.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next?

The only two ‘sort of’ resolutions I had as 2016 began were: To lose weight and begin to lead a healthier lifestyle, and to figure out what I wanted to do with my time post baby.

I would say I haven’t succeeded at all, with respect to the first resolution. Today, I am even more heavy than I was at the start of 2016. 😦

With respect to the second resolution, I have been moderately successful. I still haven’t figured out exactly what I should do, but I can say I am on the way. 2016 saw me experimenting with a few different things, trying to understand myself better as a person. May 2017 make me see light in this regard!

Now, for 2017, I have the same two resolutions plus three new ones.

1. I want to seriously lose weight and move on to a healthier lifestyle (which is at odds with the food blogging that I do, to be honest).

2. I also want to delve deeper into myself and find out something that would keep me satisfied and productively occupied, without having to compromise on my time with Bubboo.

3. Moreover, I want to devote time, money, energy and attention to fulfilling those little dreams of mine, like travelling to a place on my bucket list or buying something that has always been on my mind.

4. I want to work on bringing Bubboo up really, really well – do what it takes for that. Not that I am not doing that already, but that is a large life area I’d like to dedicate more focus on in 2017.

5. Finish all those pending tasks that I desperately need to get around to doing. They have been pending for ever. Create a passport for Bubboo, for example, and get Aadhaar cards for us done, things of that sort. Hopefully, the house and our lives should run more smoothly once we get around to doing this.

3. What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

I would say there are a whole lot of moments from 2016 that will stay in my memory forever. Little moments doing silly things with Bubboo, for instance, or attending my first event as a food blogger.

4. What was your biggest achievement of the year? 

I began to accept myself the way I am, began getting comfortable with myself, began understanding myself a whole lot better.

5. What was your biggest failure? 

I failed at keeping stress at bay. I failed at keeping mommy guilt at bay. I failed at keeping my weight under control. I We failed at maintaining a spic-and-span house.

6. Did you suffer illness? 

Yes, I did, off and on. Let’s just say 2016 wasn’t my best year, as far as health was concerned. In fact, I have been appalled at just how vulnerable my health is, in 2016.

7. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? 

To be honest, my family’s. We were at loggerheads through most of the year. This is one thing I hope will improve in 2017.

8. Where did most of your money go? 

Baby stuff, the running of the house

9. What did you get really, really, really excited about? 

Nothing really, really, really excites me these days – there is always something or the other on my mind, things/events have been happening at the last minute, and I have been unable to really soak in the feeling that I am about to do something exciting.

That said, I was happy about attending the food-related events I attended, celebrating the bub’s second birthday, and visiting Calcutta.

10. What song will always remind you of 2016?

This song. I loved the wealth of meaning in it. And, yes, I heard this song only in 2016!

11. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder? 

I think I am at the same level.

12. What do you wish you’d done more of? 

Been more mindful of the voice of my heart, maintained a better home, maintained my weight, and paid more attention to my health in general.

13. What do you wish you’d done less of? 

Eat junk food.

12. Did you fall in love in 2016? 

Yes. I began to love myself more in 2016, I would say.

13. What/Who was your greatest musical discovery? 

To be honest, we haven’t been listening to much music at all. There has hardly been any music playing at home for the last 2 years, which does make me really sad. I can’t say I made any new musical discovery in 2016, except for the Mohabbat Hai Yeh, Jee Huzoori Nahin song I mentioned earlier.

14. What did you want and get? 

Time at home, with the bub.

15. What did you want and not get?

Peace of mind

16. What was your favourite film of this year? 

I didn’t watch many movies in 2016, but I caught up with some good ones that I had missed while living under a rock after childbirth. 🙂 Of these, I loved PK, Ki & Ka, and Piku.

17. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? 

I turned 34 this year. I had a mostly blah birthday – I got my periods the same day, I remember, and the hubby was working. The OH and I fought over some silly thing. We then went out for an Italian dinner, and the bub behaved – that was the only bright spot of the day. Oh, and my mom made me some awesome gajar ka halwa, just like the old days, and that totally, totally cheered me up!

18. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? 

Losing weight, for sure.

19. What kept you sane?

Blogging and cooking.

20. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013. 

I’ll tell you more than one!

  • If you love something about yourself, your life or the people around you, acknowledge it. Be grateful.
  • Keep doing the things that nurture you.
  • It is okay to put yourself first, if you aren’t harming anyone else in the process, that is.
  • Believe in yourself before you try to get others to believe in you.
  • Acceptance is important, but make sure you aren’t complacent. If there’s something about your situation that you would like to change, work on it.

21. Which new places did you visit in 2016? 

Shirdi. Calcutta. I saw Madras with new eyes, too.

22. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Dil dhoondhta hai phir wahi fursat ke raat din

That’s it for now, folks!

How has 2016 been for you? Do take up this meme and reflect on the year gone by!

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This is not the first time I have taken up this end-of-year introspective meme. Check out my previous versions of the very same survey.

In 2012

In 2013

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi!

Like last year, there are three days of communal celebrations planned in our apartment for Ganesh Chaturthi, in our apartment.

Yesterday, a couple of the fathers in the apartment went out to buy a Ganesha, along with a group of children. Ganesha entered our apartment in a car, to the shouts of ‘Ganpati Bappa Moriya‘. Bubboo was all excited to see this, and has been saying ‘Ganpati Bappa Moriya’ since last night.

The ladies in the apartment have made lists for a week now, dividing chores, choosing menus, buying groceries. They have ensured that there will be prasadam offered to Ganesha every morning, a light dinner for the apartment dwellers the first two nights, followed by a grand dinner the third night. It is going to be a potluck kind of thing, with every family coming up with one dish or the other on whatever days they can. I am in charge of the lemon rice tonight.

The men of the apartment have cleaned up the party hall, spruced it up with a coat of paint, decorated it with paper lanterns and colourful tissue paper, booked a priest, and bought all the paraphernalia necessary for a Ganesha havan. They have also made budgets, collected money from all those apartment dwellers who are willing to contribute, meticulously maintained accounts, and allocated money for all the little chores happening around the apartment for the festival.

The kids in the apartment have been busy practicing their dance moves, speech, drawing and painting. On all three days, the little champs will be performing something or the other in front of the other parents and kids.

Like last year, this year too, we are hoping Ganesh Chaturthi will be lovely get-together, where we get to know our neighbours better and taste dishes from different parts of India. We are hoping to see the glow on the little ones’ faces as little prizes are handed out to them for exhibiting their talents so bravely.

I love how Ganesh Chaturthi is a communal celebration here, more than just a family thing. I love how the celebrations have a very personal touch to them, rather than being just another impersonal apartment association thing. I love how the little champs, thanks to the performances, are comfortable talking about anything and everything to other kids and parents alike. I love how there is a buzz in the air around the apartment, and how all of us will actually feel sad after the Ganesha immersion, a rarity in these times when festival celebrations have become a mere namesake. I love how the men and women in the apartment feel free to talk to each other, help each other in any chore from vegetable chopping to plating up dishes. I love how everyone takes up responsibilities of their own here, small and big, and fulfills them. I love how we are all learning and imparting life lessons to our little ones, even as we have fun. I am so very glad Bubboo is a part of this, that is getting to see festivals celebrated this way.

How are the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations going to be this year for you all, folks? I hope you will have a lovely day, too!

 

 

 

Of A Little Boy And His Ganesha

So, we just got back from a sort of break at the in-laws’ place. We left home thinking we would stay for a couple of days – the OH, Bubboo and I – and ended up staying for 10 days. We didn’t even take extra clothes with us, because we had no intention of staying over. But stay over we did, and we did have fun too.

We ended up doing a whole lot of stuff out there, pigged out on a lot of lovely food, explored a lot, relaxed and walked and spent time with everyone in the extended family, read a bit, came up with a whole lot of ideas to write about, shopped, and what not. Bubboo was thoroughly entertained by everyone, and she entertained everyone with her antics as well. This is the first time I have stayed at my in-laws’ place for so long after we moved out and into our own house, in 2009. We must have stayed with my in-laws for a sum total of 4 months before we moved out. So, you can imagine how fraught with emotions my time there now was.

I came across so many relics there, from when the OH was a little boy, and they brought a lump to my throat. They reminded me that this mature, cool, composed person who is my husband was also a little boy, once upon a time.

This Ganesha idol, for instance.

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This colourful idol came home once when the OH and his brothers and sister were kids, for Ganesh Chaturthi. The little-boy husband religiously decked up the idol with flowers every day and offered sweets to the Ganesha. When the time came for the Ganesha to be immersed in a lake, the little OH sobbed incessantly, hugged his mom’s feet and begged for the idol not to be taken away from him. My mother-in-law was told by her mother-in-law that tradition (the taking away of the Ganesha idol to be immersed in a lake) was no reason to make the children in the house unhappy, and so the family decided to let go of tradition. The Ganesha stay put in the pooja room of my in-laws’ house, and that is where it stays till date. Every year, on Ganesh Chaturthi thereafter, it is this Ganesha that is prayed to and offered sweets. Thanks to my mother-in-law’s meticulous housekeeping, the Ganesha is still in lovely shape, apart from peeling paint at one or two places.

Sweet, right?

These little anecdotes from the real life of real people – this is just what I love hearing. They tell me more about people than they tell me, through their words.

I will be back with more such stories shortly. Till then, you guys be good!

Impressions Of Dastkar 2016

I have been visiting Dastkar every time the exhibition comes to Bangalore, since 2011 onwards, I think. I have seen the fair grow, from a simple collection of stalls selling wares from across India, to a huge event that has become nationally and internationally popular. This is, I think, both good and bad. The good part is the large exposure that craftsmen from different parts of India are getting through the fair, the bigger platform to sell their wares, and the chance at a better life for themselves and their family. The bad part is the tinge of commercialisation that has started to colour the event of late and high prices. This was what was running through my mind as we visited Dastkar 2016 at the MANPHO Convention Centre.

Dastkar has become quite the high-brow event now, and it is tough, at least for me, to really buy many of the wares that are on sale here. I would actually have loved to get the Kota sarees and the earthen pots that were on display at the fair, but was stunned when I was told they cost INR 1800 and 350 respectively! Yes, I do understand the need to involve middlemen in an event this large in size, and I do understand the huge amount of work these craftsmen put into their creations, which I do not intend to demean that in any way, but still. Prices cannot be 5-6 times what they cost in their place of origin. I think I would rather stick to making trips to different parts of India, as and when I can, and buying their specialties right from the source.

This commercialisation has already coloured my experience of various other Bangalore events, the cake show and Chitra Santhe included, and I am sad to say that Dastkar too has joined that list. 😦

That said, not everything at the fair was priced way too high. If you take the time to look closely, you can indeed find great deals here too. I did buy some gorgeous plates and bowls for my food photography, an earthen planter for my balcony garden, and some earthen whistles (yes!) that sing like a bird when water is filled into them.

As always, attending Dastkar turned out to be an enlightening experience. It broadened my horizons, and taught me about the rich diversity of arts and crafts that India boasts of. As always, the event was colourful and beautiful, a feast to the senses and a photographer’s delight. I got lost in taking pictures of all the gorgeous wares displayed at the fair which, I will, hopefully, share soon in a separate post. Considering that I have been visiting Dastkar every year since 2011, this year’s visit pointed out how much has changed within me and in my life, just as it does every year.

Like it does every year, Dastkar 2016 too made me think – of the little changes I can incorporate to lead a greener, healthier lifestyle, to make a difference to the world around me, the little ways in which I can change my home. Last year, the fair inspired me enough to switch to hand-made soaps and try out terracotta jewellery for the first ever time. This year, I picked up a couple of Eco Femme cloth sanitary pads for myself – I will, hopefully, soon be crossing over to sustainable periods, if all goes well. 🙂

Like last year, this year too, I felt the food court at the fair could have been much better organised. It did have some delicious fare on offer, but it could have been a better representative of the foods from different parts of India, I thought.

All in all, I had mixed feelings about Dastkar this year. It left my heart full but sort of heavy, if you get what I mean.

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For those of you who are interested, the Dastkar Nature Bazaar 2016 is on at the MANPHO Convention Centre, near Manyata Tech Park, Hebbal, Bangalore, till August 15, 2016. The entry fee is INR 40 per head.

 

Is It Just Me….

…. who feels that buying fabric off a bale and getting it stitched by a tailor is quite charming and romantic?

For me, there is something quaint and old-fashioned and lovely about going to a fabric shop, getting enchanted by the silk and cotton prints and tulle and organza, dreaming up dresses for yourself and your family, having lengths of fabric cut out and paying for them, and then going to the tailor and explaining what you want, brainstorming with him/her, and then watching the fabric becoming a beautiful dress or frock? It is a process not unlike the making of a beautiful statue from a piece of stone. It takes dreaming to see what a piece of uncut stone will look like when made into a statue, and then going on to convert that dream into reality.

My sister-in-law and brother-in-law’s wife (and so do many of my friends) tell me it has been ages since they went to a tailor. Now, all they do is take their pick from the hundreds of ready-made kurtis available in malls or cloth shops, and mix and match with a pair of leggings. That way, they can have different looks for a single kurti, and can avoid the hassle of visiting the tailor umpteen times and running the risk of the final product turning out to be something totally different from what they had envisioned.

When you use a tailor, yes, those hassles are to be anticipated. I agree. I have had my own set of problems with tailors, but still. There’s something to be said about the joy of wearing a dress exclusively tailored for you, something you envisioned and which the tailor makes exactly the way you wanted it to be (that does happen!). There ‘s something about wearing a dress that wasn’t produced, along with thousands of other dresses, in a factory, not keeping you in mind at all.

Back in Ahmedabad, I have had a few favourite tailors and a whole lot of favourite fabric shops that I would frequent. I have always been on the heavier side, and have always found it difficult to find good ready-made dresses that didn’t cost the moon. Tailors helped me mix and match, made garments for me that fit me perfectly, made me look good and kept me comfortable. There were goof-ups, too, but then that does happen when you are working with people, right? I found a serious lack of good running fabric when I shifted to Bangalore, as well as a dearth of good tailors, and my parents continued to get all my dresses stitched in Ahmedabad and couriered to me, til they moved to Bangalore too. After 7 years of staying in Bangalore, I found a tailor who spoke my language, who understands my needs and stitches the kind of clothes I need. Touchwood. My interactions with her make me happy. I finally have somewhere to take all the bits and pieces of fabric I picked up from here and there. I now have an idea of whom to consult for all the little frocks I have dreamed up for Bubboo, but didn’t have anyone to talk to about. Yay!

That said, it might not be long before this small business establishment, the tailor shop, becomes a relic from the past, like telegrams and landline telephones and STD booths. Well, times change, and the things associated with those times have to change too, I guess. This is not a change I am happy about, though.