Friday, March 30, 2012

A power packed summer breakfast from the past

A special food we resort to during summers is an ancient traditional breakfast called "Pazheya saada kanji". Especially when we have elders at home who are rich in traditional wisdom , you can never escape this kanji (gruel)."Pazheya saada kanji" literally means gruel of leftover  rice.  A simple and humble breakfast which is often ridiculed as a poor man’s life style food.   A wonderful  healthy food which is a power house of vitamins.

In olden days and even now, farmers and laborers who did lot of physical work ate this rice which gave them sustained energy with all natural nutritional supplements.  It is so soothing for the intestines especially during the  summers and acts as a coolant for your body.

This is an easy to make breakfast, especially when the summer heat turns your kitchen into an oven. All  you have to do is cook extra rice, add water when cool  and  allow it to ferment overnight ( not in fridge).  Generally we use a stone vessel called 'kal chatty' to store the rice.  Next day morning the rice gets fermented by the healthy  bacteria(not all bacteria are bad) and this fermented rice is then mashed well with the fermented water  and with addons likebuttermilk, salt or asafoetida and the resultant kanji(gruel)   tastes yummy. You can even add finely chopped shallots(baby onions), ginger  and  top with one or two ice cubes.

Come summer,  I and my husband narrate 'pazheya saada' stories to our children. 
During my summer vacations at my  grandparents home. Our Paati(grand mom) used to cook extra rice at night so that the next day her 10 grandchildren could have this for breakfast.  It is a practice in semi orthodox homes that without having the bath nobody could eat freshly cooked brunch(offered as bhog to god) and we cousins got up late and had our bath late, so paati decided to make this pazheya saadam  for all of us. The fermented water would be drained to a different vessel and  our aunt would then mix the rice, curds and salt. The resultant curd rice would be distributed to all the ten of us. We would all get a vadu manga( baby mangoes brined)  which we would place in a small plate. Our perimma( my mom’s older sister) would then  place a morsel of  Pazheya saadam on our palm. Each of us would take a bite of mango piece and then gobble the rice. This practice of offering morsels on palm was called ‘Kaila podruthu(tamil) or Kai tutthu(kannada).  It was so much fun to eat the food this way and it helped forge a bond between all of us. All of us would gobble the morsel and compete to stretch our palms. This  daily breakfast practice has nestled in the crevice of our heart so strongly that whenever we cousins meet together we ask  our mami , mom or aunt to offer us food like this.  Such sweet memories.

My husband too recalls to our children how his grand mom would store the food in a kalchatti and he would come after his playtime in the afternoon and drink the water after mixing this with buttermilk and salt . He says to my children that this is a super energizer  which no Gatorade(sport drink) can match and is excellent to reduce your body heat.

Another positive point about this breakfast is that the trillions of bacteria  will produce  lot of B complex vitamins , Vit K and B12 which is a good source for vegetarians.  These healthy and friendly Bacteria  help extract calories from what we eat, help store calories for later use and provide energy and nutrients for the production of new bacteria to continue this work. So eating this paaniwala chawal/ fermented rice/ pazheya saadam  is a great energizer and coolant. 

An ancient breakfast and a wonderful healty  food which is now sadly ignored in modern times but I have introduced this to my children to beat the  hyderabadi summer heat.

So along with tender coconut water, panna, khus juice, barley lemonade, chaas this is another coolant we resort to.

                                      Fermented rice gruel ( mixed with mint chutney)

(fermented curd rice seasoned and garnished  with an addon sundried and fried curd chilli)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A picnic memory that never fades

Indiblogger has lined up  sponsored contests and each week i get mails on interesting topics and this topic on an incredible experience  threw me back in time to a road trip that happened in the  summer of 98, my memory of this  trip will never fade.


Read ahead.....
My mom’s younger sisters stayed in the north and it was more than three long years since the sisters all met together. So after a long gap the sisters met at my parents place at Bangalore. During their stay, my dad and aunts had planned for a picnic so that we could have some outdoor fun. I who was alone at that time( my husband was on deputation) decided to join my parents, younger sis and my aunts for the fun one day outing along with my 1.5 year old daughter.

We hired a car to fit us all in. Our destination was Mekedatu, a picnic spot 90kms from Bangalore. Around Bangalore, there is no dearth for weekend getaways or picnic spots and so Mekedatu was one such idyllic and scenic spot. Mekedatu ( meaning Goat’s leap in kannada) is a deep gorge so narrow that many presume that once shepherds allowed their goat’s to cross the gorge and so it was called goat’s leap or mekedatu( in kannada meke is goat and datu is leap).

To reach mekedatu one has to travel through kanakapura taluk and reach the banks of River Sangama. The place where two rivers Cauvery and Arkavati merge. We too reached the banks of the river. It is the last motorable point to reach Mekedatu, so we got down. The driver instructed us that we had to cross the broad sandy river bed and walk another 4 kms up into the forest after the other bank to reach the gorge. We all chitchatted, picked up the shells from the broad sandy river bed and leisurely walked over to the other bank and were gearing up to climb the muddy track that lead into the forest, that’s when we heard loud cries and shrieks. Taken aback, we turned around to find water flooding the river bed which we just crossed. The water gushed in such great force that in no time it filled the depth of the bed and was close to the banks. 3 people who were just crossing at that point were rescued by the locals there.

The gates of the river water which was dammed upstream was opened and hence the flash floods, generally there is an alert before the opening of the gates. Anyways, we aborted our trek to Mekedatu and were stranded with 20 other picnickers awaiting our rescue now. The village boy who was amongst our midst said that the only way to cross was either to swim or wait till the tenders for the coracles were finalized which would happen only by 5.00p.m.

Thankfully before noon,buckling to our pressure, two locals rescued us in the coracles. We heaved a sigh of relief when we reached our car, though disappointed at not reaching Mekedatu. We sat in the car sending our prayers up and thanking our luck,  what if we had been held in the forceful water while we were happily picking up the shells.

But wait, another adventure in store for us.

 Disappointed at not reaching Mekedatu, we decided to go to Mutthathi another picnic spot which is closeby . Mutthathi is a small village on the banks of river Kaveri. The road to mutthathi runs along the river and you can stop at places to spend time on the bank and dip your feet in the shallow side of the river. Many urban souls  camp  under the shady trees to make tea on chulha and barbecue their prized river catches here.This place is close to the Cauvery wildlife sanctuary and you have a lovely fishing camp called Bheemeshwari which is famous for the Mahseer fish where you now  have facilities for angling, river rafting, camping in log huts  etc.,  This is a famous shooting spot for films.

The driver drove through a bypass route to reach Mutthathi. It was a muddy moundy track where we find some kuccha huts. We enquired a few people who told there was no route that way to mutthathi. But our driver who had been here before, was confident and drove over the muddy moundy track telling that he could see a temple there and there must be a short way to reach that place. Just as he was pointing to the direction of the temple, the driver missed the track and swerved to a slopy downhill track. On my side I could find deep valley down ahead. The driver calmly tried to reverse the vehicle with great care and here on the back seat I was all panicky. I told him we will get down from the other door side and then he could bring the vehicle up. He told me to calm down for sometime and slowly and skilfully reversed the vehicle and swerved towards the temple side. Those fifteen minutes, I and my folks never realized the intensity  of the situation, because of our confident driver.

On reaching the plains, the driver said had we got down, the vehicle could have easily slipped into the valley and it was the weight of the people which held the car.We were shocked and numbed, with no more mood for fun or frolic, we thanked our God, lucky stars and the driver for saving us from a mishap.We drove back to our city to reach home by 3.00p.m

We recently drove to Bheemeswari (mutthathi) and found the muddy track has been replaced by a pucca tar road albeit with potholes.But the memory of this trip never fades, whenever we all meet, we recall the journey of this picnic which never reached its destination .

This post exclusively written for Indiblogger's ' Incredible experience'.

                                The gorge at mekedatu (Pic courtesy : google images)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Together we can make a difference

Everyday we release or dump huge amounts of hazardous wastes into    the environment.Chemicals in the form of old batteries, medicines, shoe polish, paint tins, used oil, hair washes, floor cleaners, body washes, mosquito repellants, fogging are some house hold waste. Plastic, pesticide, chemical, metal, rubber, Styrofoam, wastes from waste treatment plants, fire, automobiles, e-waste are sources of industrial waste. Not to forget the hospital waste and the gases that are released into the air like CFC which give raise to terms like smog, acid rain, green house effect, global warming, carbon foot prints, ozone depletion etc.,

In turn, ‘Go green’, eco warrior, eco friendly, environment conscious, pollution, global warming, ozone depletion, reduce,recycle, reuse, organic, green prints are some of the words in most people’s lips today to set our world right back on green path.

Given a magic wand to change some things around me, I would like to go back to those days when our life was surrounded by nature and we practiced green ways in our daily life…. Those days when the world was less populated, polluted and we were driven less by technology. 

  •  When things like provisions came wrapped in newpapers and jute thread and not in plastic wrapper
  •    Vessels were washed with coconut fibre ,charcoal/sand/ rice flour and not in chemical based dishwashers and artificial scrubs.
  •  Food parcel came in plaintain leaves and not in disposable plastic containers.
  •  Milk came in sterilized, refillable bottles and not in plastic covers.
  •   Hairwash ,bodywash, floor cleaners, detergents were made of herbal ingredients and used less  inorganic chemicals.
  • Breeze and cool air came naturally from the abundant trees surrounding us and not from coolers and Airconditioners.
  • Water and vegetables were stored in matkas and not refridgerators.
  • Fruits were ripened naturally and not injected with chemical ripeners.
  • Vegetables could be washed and used and not soaked in Potassium permanganate to knock off the pesticides.
  • Sparkling pure water came in taps and not through waterpurifers and ISI bottled water.
  • Life was simple with no machines/gadgets to assist and people still had time called ‘Leisure’ after work. Today with gizmos, gadgets and appliances which warm up the globe, we still have no time to stand and stare.
  • People cycled, walked or used buses and bikes to work, less automobiles were on the road.
  • Traffic jams on roads were unheard of and our jams were restricted to bread.

             And so many many more….. I am leaving this list incomplete………….

  This  post is in response to the prompt promoted by Indibloggers  'Time to change’

   I would like to change the world to leave green prints and get back to a beautiful world by saving our fragile environment. I know most of the above points cannot be practical like it is not practical to wash teflon coated vessels or chinaware with mud and fibre but little changes like avoiding plastic covers and buying organic products can be practized.   Like Mahatma Gandhi said: "Be the change you want to see in the world."

 I made a beginning 4 years ago to discard all the drywastes like metals, paper waste, plastic covers like biscuit wrappers, chocolate wrappers, milk covers etc in the ITC- Ramky initiative WOW ( Wealth out of waste). They collect the wastes and recycle them in their Bhadrachalam plant to make recycled paper and plastic. 
Together we can make small changes to make this world a better place , what say?

 After all, we owe it to the gen next.

Friday, March 9, 2012

This will adorn my sidebar

Awards, rewards, recognition - I don’t work for it, but when it comes my way , I grab it and flaunt it. Yes, though I don’t work for them, when I do get one, I cherish and value it especially when it comes from an experienced and widely travelled blogger like Raji  whose posts are endearing, valuable, nostalgic, contemperory and rich in content.
Raji aunty has recently listed my blog as one of her 5 favorites and shared her Liebster blog award with me.With all humility, thanks for considering me worthy of it, it encourages me to write better and feels nice to get one from you.

 The rules of the award:
Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.( Thank you, Raji aunty)
Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you.(linked)
Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.(done)
Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed.( I have cheated on this i have listed 19 of them and  most of them have 200+ followers)
Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment on their blog (will do)

 And my favorites,  all the 15 people i have listed  here, it is difficult to choose just 5 because theirs are the only blogs i am regular at and all are equally good and my favorites. But i know it will be difficult for you all to choose just 5, so just keep the award.

Besides them, whom i use as a ready reckoner whenever i want some information are:

Once upon a tea time -  I love art, craft and artisans, this blog supports arts, crafts and artisans.
Rangdecor - I love home decor and this blog has colorful earthy ideas.
Musings and ramblings - I love stories of yore and here you will find in plenty.
Backpakker - Like me she is somebody who is not interested in the destination but the journey, love her chronicles on simple people, simple places and exotic ones too.
A design enthusiast - You want to have a look at some vintage furniture, vintage kitchen quipments etc., this is the place then. She too supports artisans. I love vintage kitchen equipments, infact the next thing on my 'to do' list is to buy a little  stone grinding machine called kal ural( like sil batta) which will adorn my kitchen showcase.

( Btw Leibster in German means favorite)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I trust, value and consider this as the most natural and sincere relationship

One of the most natural, sincere and 100% valued relationship is that of grandparent and grandchild. As a child of the 70’s and 80’s ;  I have soaked, bonded and enjoyed this relationship with both my set of grandparents – maternal and paternal. Summer holidays meant rejoicing with a gang of maternal and paternal cousins at my grandparents home at Nanganallur and Mylapore – the two suburbs of Madras.

Today with many things that have changed, this relationship too has changed. Many children unfortunately miss and don’t know the value of such relationships. Summer holidays for them mean hopping from one summer camp to another, occupied with electronic gadgets or visiting malls or exotic destinations on vacation.

Fortunately there are many children like mine,  who get an opportunity to bond with their grand parents. Both of them bask in the love of their maternal and paternal grandparents and even their grand uncles and grand aunts to learn rich values from them which acts as a 100% natural summer camp. Their rich native wisdom and values are taught to them at no extra cost but with dollops of unconditional and sincere love. Their love and pampering many times make me feel jealous of this beautiful relationship and makes me yearn for my own.

My children bond with them by playing native games, board games, solving Sudoku, learning to read and write my mothertongue, to cook, to sew, listening to their personal stories of yore, mythological stories, helping them and by simply observing their natural qualities that displays enormous willpower, determination, concentration, sincerity, devotion , culture and other values which are things of the past. They also inturn teach their grandparents to handle complex electronic gadgets and their applications.

Whenever they lose a game of chess with their grandmom(maternal), they have learnt to accept it gracefully when their grandmom a good chess player consoles them by telling that ‘Tholviye vettriyin mudhal padi’( failure is the stepping stone to success) and ‘Muyirchi thiruvinayakkum’( try until you succeed) and today when they lose over some game or competition they take it under their stride, put extra efforts again to win over.
Many a times my children come across a difficult task, they give up citing ‘Impossible’( Mudiyalai/mudiyadhu), it is the other grandmom(paternal) who takes over to encourage and tells them ‘Mudiyadhdu edhuvumay kidayadu’ ( there is nothing that is impossible),  'mudiyadhunu sollavay kodadu' ( Don’t ever tell impossible). These motivating words help them to finish even the most difficult task conveniently and easily. The satisfying smile and the heave of relief they give after the task is done is  a moment worth capturing. 

Witnessing their retired grandfather(maternal) help their grandmom with household chores like washing vessels, cleaning and cooking have made my children realize that there is no work that is defined by gender and they infact love and relish the potato curry and other culinary creations their grandfather makes for them with love. This infact has earned their grandfather's creation the title ‘Thatha’s alu curry is the best in the world’.

From their other late grandfather(paternal) they recollect through their photos  the qualities of humility, patience and simplicity.
Though my children have born and live outside their native state, it has not deterred them from speaking our mother tongue fluently. Infact they are learning to read and write every summer. All thanks to the bonding with their grandparents.

Many more instances and values helping them to become good humans are taught at this natural summer camp, their only grouse is that they don’t have many cousins like I do. (they have just 3 cousins, one who is 12 years older to them stays in the US and the other stays in China during summers, while they just have the company of their 8 year old cousin whom they treat like a Barbie doll)

This post is exclusively written for the Kissan 100% real blogger contest promoted by Indiblogger.