Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Our summer camp

Vacation time again, the longer one and I am off to meet my parents, uncles, aunts and in-laws.

Time for my children to bond with their grandparents, granduncles, grand aunts, relatives, cousins and attend family functions. Time to learn and absorb new things.

Luckily will be escaping the baking sun of Hyderabad and moving to my hometown relatively cooler Bangalore.(people of Bangalore call 38 deg as bisilu(hot) and shakkey(sultry), wonder what they would call the scorching 42 and 43).
But yes, Thanks to Global warming it is not cooler as it used to be 10-12 years back.

Since my parents place is not equipped with computer, I may not be regularly blogging and commenting. Will try to connect when I am at my sis and uncle’s place.

Till then all of you have a happy vacation. Ciao.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Rasambar anyone?

You know Rasam.

You know sambar.

Do you know Rasambar?

Yes, it is the combo of both rasam and Sambar and this rasambar took birth in my kitchen a few months ago.

A few months back I had a training session on a Saturday and with weekends off B , my daughter and my son were at home. They said they would manage their lunch.

The trio got into the kitchen to make Rasambar. Evening when I returned back both shre and shar were raving about the new preparation cooked by their appa and shre named it as Rasambar.

Now-a- days with the heat getting unbearable , I try to spend lesser time in the kitchen. There is no separate sambar and rasam. It is this 2 in 1 I make.

Well, It is easy to make too. Add 1 table spoon of rasam and sambar powder in a vessel along with crystal salt/table salt(to your taste). To this add tamarind juice extracted from lemon size tamarind , add chopped tomatoes and onions. Let it boil. To this add 50 gms of cooked and mashed tuvar dal, add two cups of water and allow it to boil again, now add few leaves of curry and coriander and sprinkle with a pinch of hing powder. Temper with mustard seeds and it is ready to serve with rice.

The thin watery soup on top is the Rasam and the thick dal gravy with tomato and onion which settles at the bottom is Sambar.

To make it more richer add 1 table spoon of coconut gratings along with dal and you can add your own twists to make it more nutritious by adding your choice of vegetables.

Rasambar with rice, microwaved curry and buttermilk is the main course made in my kitchen this summer.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Visa God

It is always a delight to be outdoors especially on weekends, but with mercury sliding up with each passing day in Hyderabad, forget about outdoors, it is even difficult to come out of your cool room. The kitchen feels like a pre-heated oven. For people like us, who are used to weekend outings, we felt as though we were kept on arrest.

So Last weekend we decided to make a 39km (from our doorstep) journey in the early hours of morning (5.15a.m) to Chilkur Balaji temple aka visa Balaji aka passport Balaji. Read temple history here

Our vehicle slided on the newly tarred traffic free road and we reached the temple at around 5.50a.m. This temple is generally very crowded on all the days, more so on weekends. We went round the temple praharams (corridor around the deity) 11 times, and even as we were going round, there was a priest who was narrating the temple history, about our Indian culture (why we keep bindi etc) and the politics clouding the temple (yes, politics hasn’t spared the lord also and he wanted the support of the devotees for this cause).

It was in chaste Telugu and so there were times I could not follow what he said.

He also recited the Shatrunjay mantra (mantra to keep away enemies) and asked devotees to repeat so that the focus of devotees would be on god while going around.

This divine place is also eco-friendly and uses no plastic bags. All pooja materials are sourced in cloth bags. The temple authorities have urged devotees to wear only handloom especially made compulsory on Saturdays. This is to acknowledge and encourage the handloom weavers of the rural villages around chilkur. Another important speciality of this temple is that there is no VVIP or special darshan Queues. (The reason why some people are dragging the temple into politics). Privileges are only for the differently abled, pregnant women and weaker senior citizens.

The devotees are mostly students and youngsters who have applied for overseas universities and awaiting their approval for admission and visa.

A story goes that 15 years ago a youngster circumambulated 11 times around the god and sought the god’s blessings for approval of Visa and overseas admission. He promised to make 108 rounds after his visa and admission were approved. Within a few days his travel documents and admission were approved.

News of this story went around and young students and overseas job aspirants started thronging the temple and their belief has come true till date and ‘ Chilkur Balaji’ also came to be known as ‘ Visa Balaji’/Visa God. He is also known as ‘ Passport Balaji'.

Many such devotees are now present worldwide in USA, UK, Australia, Middle East and other Asia Pacific countries, that ‘ Visa God’ was featured in ‘Wall Street Journal’ also.

After enhancing our feeling of pleasantness and experiencing some peaceful moments close to God and nature, we returned back to the hustle and bustle of city life.

We were back home by 8.30 a.m after a heavy breakfast at ‘Chutneys’ (heavy on our pockets too. Masala Dosa costs 89 rupees)

Thankfully back home before the temperature slided upwards to 43 deg, marking the day as the hottest day of April in the last decade.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Radio times

I felt lonely after packing my children to school and my husband left to work. My MIL stays with us but frequently she goes to her native place . So to keep me away from loneliness, I usually switch on the TV ( though I don’t watch programs). The sound of TV in my living room keeps me company while I am working in the kitchen or cleaning my other rooms. Today, I tuned on to the radio channel on my TV set top box to listen to the songs on AIR, only to take a trip down into the world of nostalgia dipping into memories of my cherished childhood.

Hmmmm......the pleasure of listening to songs on the radio with the jingles and the flawless, rightly modulated announcements like ‘ Idhu Akashvani, Bengaluru Kendra… hega samaya*……pip…pip…pip … …

Yes, those times when radio occupied a place of pride in most homes and doubled as a time keeper and helped to adjust our wall clocks to the right time and also tripled as home to cockroaches.

We had a NELCO radio which was a rectangular modern (semi-conductor) version compared to the bulky vacuum tube radio my grandfather had. It occupied a prominent position in my house too.

The radio then played the role of an educator, informer and entertainer. Informative programmes like quiz, special programs on agriculture, business,career choice, health,cookery, dramas, commentaries on cricket, discussions, talk shows, counseling( Psychologist Aruna Broota’s voice was thereaupetic), periodical news bulletins and the various film based programs.

Bhoole bisre geet, Binaca geetmala,( Binaca reminds me of the small animal miniatures that used to come with the binaca toothpaste --- I had a decent collection of those miniature toys.) Manchahe geet, Jaimala ( fauji farmaish) , Aap ki farmaish, the various tamil songs on Radio Ceylon, tamil dramas on AIR tamil ( this broadcast had lot of disturbances), December kutcheri of the Madras music season, the Sunday after noon English songs on Air Bangalore and many more such lovely times. All these lovely moments were during the pre-TV times( early 80’s) and we used to sleep early by 8.30 p.m. During night times appa and amma used to tune to ‘ then kinnam’ on Radio Ceylon which aired tamil songs. The lilting melodies were a lullaby for us.

During my summer vacation at my grand parents place ( Madras), it served as our alarm time piece, we used to wake up to the jingle of gopal palpudi( a famous toothpowder).Here too I remember my chitti( mother’s sis) leaving for college only after the radio announced its time.

Since Madras summers are hot, usually it is a practice in most families to wake early at 5 a.m , have brunch by mid morning (around 10.30) and retire for noon day siesta. So was the practice at my grandparent’s place. When grand ma was asleep in her room, we ( youngest aunt and cousins) sneaked into the kitchen and made Kamarkut( a sweet candy made with jaggery syrup) without my patti’s knowledge . Our joy was in licking this thiruttu kamarcut (candy made slyly) and sitting in front of the big 1X2ft radio (the huge one made with valves those days). As the song was broadcast , our chitti would tell us what the next song would be based on the movie’s name and singer’s name announced and start bragging mockingly to indicate how well she knew. We cousins being very small and na├»ve thought that chitti was very intelligent and were in awe of her.

During my teenage years ,after the advent of TV, I still preferred to switch on to our NELCO set inspite of DD’s afternoon programme. I would be very irritated when the flow of programmes was interrupted during thunder or rain, as they played with the radio waves.

While sleeping during nights with the radio on my head board, I would listen to all the haunting melodies of Navrang, Aradhana, Janak janak payal baje which I hum even today. The un-hyped but rightly modulated soothing voice of the news readers, RJ’s and the suspense of knowing what the next song add to the pleasure of listening to vividh bharathi.

In Today’s world of Internet radio and satellite radio, we have a wide band of private FM station to tune to from the comfort of our car or on our mobile. They have good quality reception but where is the quality in content. The programmes covered are so similar (traffic updates, love guru tips, sometimes the same song is played simultaneously on different stations) that you can’t say one station from the other.

My heart yearns for the simple vividh bharati for its program content. So given a radio, TV, CD-player or I-pod today I still prefer a simple radio with good reception and Vividh bharathi.

. *hega samaya in kannada means ‘ the time now is’