Adios 2012 Hola 2013

Yet another year has gone by, flown by, but then it dint really fly by. I sat back and watched the days fly, and the months roll out. And now, it is the last day of 2012- Dec 31st.

 

The year has been good, overall- Touch wood!! I did get some perspective on life, managed to get my act together with work, and did travel [visit a few places that had been on my Must visit list for quite some time]. This year, i was offline more than online; spent more time with friends and people who matter and learnt that I have none but myself to blame for whatever happens to me[late realisation, but it gets stronger every year].

This year i found a new family amidst a bunch of girls/ladies [Deeps, Pree Tas, Avanthi, Jenny, Aunty, Yal & KK] who i know are good leaning pillars and there when i need a push/shove; another gang of friends[RS,AR,DS,KR,SR,HS] who changes Display pictures & group names every day but are a good solid lot; and ofcourse my 2 best friends [N & A] and their lovely families- who prove to me every day that I am indeed blessed & loved, and all others who have taught me valuable lessons on life, people & everything else. 
And then there are those who’ve always been there- inspiring me, especially Lakshmi.. 🙂
 
I look forward to a year of good health, more drive in everything i  do and ofcourse exploring many more places. I also hope to find a place of my own, realise a few dreams tucked away within my grey cells and continue spreading happiness and cheer all around. 

To all those who made a difference, to all those who were there for me, to all those who patiently sat and let me vent- Love you all~!! I hope you know I am there for you….  

                          Happy New Year everyone!!
     Live life on your terms and dont let anyone bring your   

                                confidence down…
Try new things, trip and fall, but never look back with regret~!! 

Recipe- Makki Di Roti & Palak Subzi

No, you read it right. We had Makki Di Roti & Palak Suzbi. I know the traditional combo is Makki di roti and Sarson ka saag, well, we don’t get Sarson ka saag [the Mustard greens] in Chennai and so this alternative 🙂

When we had visited Delhi earlier this month, when i mentioned i like this combo, my aunt asked her maid to make it. Mom & I walked it down to this cool organic store called The Roots and bought Maize flour.We devoured the rotis and the Sarson ka saag, and mom decided she wanted to make them once we were back in Chennai. Since there was a packet of flour leftover, we brought it with us and yesterday mom made it for lunch.

She had asked the maid how to make [in her broken hindi] and managed to make a few small rotis, invited me over for lunch excitedly 🙂

What you need:
Maize Flour – 2 cups   

Salt -to taste
Ghee – as required to knead the dough

How to make:
1. Add salt and ghee to the flour and mix well till becomes a nice soft dough.
2. Make balls or divide the dough into portions
3. Take a plastic sheet and pat the dough on it, making it into a roti [dont make it too thin, it will stick to the sheet]… Alternatively you can roll out each ball between the folds of a greased plastic sheets.
4. Heat a tawa and cook the roti on it till both sides are done.
5. apply a dollop of butter or ghee and serve hot.

Palak Subzi that mom made was the usual subzi you make for rotis and it did go well with Makki di roti…

What you need:
Palak/spinach leaves – a bowl of chopped leaves
Onion- 1
Tomato- 1
Green chilli- 1[optional]
oil- as required
Salt- as required
Garam masala- 1 tsp
Cream/milk/curd- 1 tsp

How to make:
1. Boil the palak leaves with a dash of salt and make a puree
2. In a pan, add some oil and saute the onions & green chilli, once they turn golden brown, add the tomatoes and saute for a few more minutes.  [you can blend these if you wish]
3. To this add the spinach puree, salt, garam masala and allow it to cook
4. Add some cream/milk/curd just before you serve…

You can add palak to make it Palak paneer or potatoes if you desire. 

Bon Apettit!!

Thiruvathirai Special

Thiruvathirai, a star, also a festival celebrated in the marghazi masam [Dec-Jan] is a day when we celeberate the thandavam (cosmic dance) performed my Lord Shiva. Another side to this day is that it is Lord Shiva’s star birthday today, the star being arudhra. The one thing i remember about Thiruvathirai is lunch menu, unfortunately it consists of items i dont like, well, these days i have a nibble and dont grunt as much. What is on the menu? Kali and Thalagam.. Sounds greek and latin, well, not really, but it is a wierd combination and mix of flavours.

We were in Delhi recently, and mom made Kali cos my uncle loves it and well, that was probably the 1st time i ate some on my own [with no one breathing down my neck] and actually liked it.. Hmm… so, today at lunch, i made myself some rotis and had a spoonful of kali as well 🙂 [Good girl i am]

Kali is a sweet dish, while Thalagam is a graavy made using 7/9/11/13/15 vegetables [something like a heavy duty sambar] 

How are these made? For the 1st time, i paid attention to mom and gramma when they explained the dishes. So, here goes..

Kali
What you need-
Raw Rice – 1 cup
Mung dal – 1 tbsp
Jaggery- 3/4 th cup
Butter-2 tbsp
Water – 2 to 3 cups
Coconut- 1 tbsp grated
Cashewnuts- fried in ghee
How to make Kali-
1. Wash and dry the rice 
2. Dry roast the rice and daal till the rice turns light golden.
3. Grind to a coarse powder or finely [depending on your preference]
4. In a kadai, add 2 cups of water to the jaggery and let it come to a boil. When it does, run it through a sieve to make sure there were no dust or foreign particles in the jaggery
5. To this liquid, add the rice – daal and coconut. Keep stirring and add water if you feel the mixture is too thick. Like Sooji upma, the rice will absorb the water, so dont worry if it looks runny. 
6. Stir for a good 15- 20mins till the rice cooks and starts releasing ghee around the corner. 
7. Sprinkle the fried cashewnuts and serve. 

Thalagam
What you need-

Vegetables of your choice- Today gramma used 15 veggies- Carrots, yellow pumpkin, beans, potato, sweet potato, arbi, butter beans, snake gourd, flat beans, string beans, brinjal, chow chow, raw banana and so many more…. [typically Indian veggies are used] – Chop them up into bite sized pieces.
Dry red chillies- 5 to 6 [depending on how spicy you like the dish] 
Toor dal – 1tbsp
Rice- 1/2tbsp

Coconut – 1/2 cup grated

Black Sesame seeds- 2tsp

Tamarind- the Size of a small lemon

Gingely oil- 2tsp

Mustard seeds- 1tsp

Salt- to taste

 

How to make the Thalagam-
1. Just like you make sambar, soak the tamarind in a cup of warm water for 5 – 10 minutes , squeeze and set aside the tamarind juice. 
2. In a pan, heat some oil, add the mustard seeds, allow to splutter and set aside. 
3. In the pan, add some more oil and add the toor daal, red chillies, rice, coconut and sesame seeds. Saute them till they all turn light brown colour and then grind to a fine powder. 
4. In the pressure cooker put all the chopped vegetables, tamarind juice, some salt and cook till they are tender. 
5. Now add the ground powder, and water if required. Mix and allow to cook well.  
 Note: The mix should not be too runny or light, it will be like a gravy/koottu. 

Skywatch Friday and 275th post… Welcome to the Blue Hills

It is not often that you take a holiday that leaves you wanting more. I had one such experience recently. Even though it was a trip to a familiar destination, it was with friend and her family, which made a world of difference. I enjoyed myself, visited familiar sites, saw new things, explored unseen sites, spent nights playing card games and word games. Must also mention that this was my 1st time at a Club Mahindra property. 🙂 We stayed at Club Mahindra’s Derby Green in Ooty… 
The temperatures were 12-18 during the day and 5-7 at night. It was heavenly, being able to walk around in a Tee shirt and capri, not worrying about sweat, enjoying a hot cuppa chai and a bowl of maggi after spending hours exploring the Botanical Gardens. It sure was a memorable vacation 🙂 
 
And through the days, the clouds and blue skies kept us excited, the drama, the movements, the shapes, it was sheer magical….. sweet memories….

Participating in Skywatch after long and just realised this is my 275th post on this blog!! Yayy~!!

For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday … Well, today is the last Skywatch of this year, see you all in 2013. Wish you a very Happy New year!

Celebrating Chennai… The waves

As the year draws to an end, let me leave you with this beautiful image from the city i call home- Chennai…

Me: What is the one place you want to go to when you come to Chennai/Madras?
Cousin [over the phone from Delhi]- The Beach

I rest my case!!

When she was here, one morning we all rose early[5am] and drove down to
the beach, not just any beach, but The Marina Beach… Spent about
2hours walking along the shore, while some played in the water a bit
before joining us… What a fun morning that was! And this is almost a routine everytime she visits home 😀

Did you know that the Marina beach is the longest in the country? yes,
it stretches for over 14kms…. and one has easy access to the water as
well, unlike in other places where you cannot get your feet wet 🙂

These were fishing boats resting before the trip into the ocean. There
were a few fishermen sorting out the fishing nets nearby. They had done
one round of fishing early in the morning [3-4am] and will go again in a
while… What a life!!

Happy New year! see you on the other side

Celebrating Chennai.. Valluvar Kottam

Dedicated to the famous poet Thiruvalluvar, the Valluvar Kottam [ a moument] was constructed in 1976. All the 133 chapters of the Thirukkural which include 1330 verses are inscribed on bas-relief in the front hall corridors.

The construction of Valluvar Kottam is like a temple chariot, and it is a replica of the temple chariot in Thiruvarur. The hall near the chariot can hold upto 4000 people and is today a location where quite a few fairs and exhibitions are held. 

Off to the Blue Hills… and around

This year has been quite good, touch wood!

Rather, this month has been good i should say. I have managed to revisit Delhi, spend time with uncle and cousin, explore a few new places and it was an opportunity to do something for the 1st time, travel with mom. 
And now, another trip is in the offing, am off tonight and back saturday. Yes, it is a short trip, but one that i am definitely looking forward. Yet another 1st, a holiday with friend & her family. During my visit to Kochi, she made me promise them i would join them on a holiday this year, irrespective of where it was. We did make a few plans, zero in on a few destinations, but as always, destiny is taking us elsewhere. No Complaints!
[If you’ve been on this blog before, you will know this picture and where it was taken… :-)]
Even though i am headed to a destination i’ve visited a handful of times, am sure it will be different..My last visit to this Hill station was about 5yrs ago, or was it more? I was there for a good 5days, and enjoyed my visit immensely. This time around, i am spending about 6-7hrs before my friends land and we head off to the Club Mahindra resort [ my 1st time at a Resort]. I hope to do some birding, lazy strolls, fun with kids and soak in the nature, apart from the good time i am bound to have with friend and her family… 🙂 
See you around…

In with the new, out with the old at Tuscana in Chamiers

“hum chup nahin bait sakthe [we cant sit quiet]” is what Vipin says leads to such new concepts… The reason why they keep innovating, rolling out new dishes and coming up with interesting dishes. This time around, they have literally revamped their entire menu- adding a few new dishes, removing some and making sure customers are spoilt for choice. Oh, and did i mention there is a slash in prices as well? yep! There we were at Tuscana in Chamiers Road, with Chef Willi greeting us and ushering us in. Vipin explained the whole process of how their menu has changed, the new software they are creating in house which will keep track of stock, making it easy to monitor and audit and of the new plans they have for the days to come. 
But wait, you need to wait till Saturday before you can taste the new dishes. We got a sneak peek into what is to come and must tell you, some of the dishes are a treat for our senses.  After gulping down a glass of Orange-Cranberry juice, i was chatting away with Vipin and others in his team to understand the new menu and the changes to expect. 
The table was set with a few bowls of different kinds of Olives, some were stuffed while others were plain, few bread sticks and two martini glasses- Hummus and Salsa. The Hummus was divine, and i loved it with the bread stick.
The food began to arrive within minutes and the 1st plate to land on the table was Bruschetta- Crisp slices of bread with mushroom and assorted pepper topping, fresh and full of flavours. The next in line were the sinful  Cheese veg tarts- with cauliflowers, leeks and bell peppers, it was just amazing. 
And then came the much awaited, spoken about dish that Tuscana is famous for- their Pizzas. Apart from the plain white flour pizza, there were also a few Gluten free pizzas that came out of the kitchen. What else is new? Well, they are launching a range of Multi grain pizzas- quite good i must say. Was a bit skeptical, but i quite liked it- the texture, the flavours and the light base. I tried a slice from each of the pizza, and loved the one with the Broccoli on it. 
Just as the conversation flowed without a pause, so did the trays of food. The last to arrive were the dessert- coffee panna cotta [tasted a bit like instant coffee & was a tad strong] and vanilla panna cotta with blueberry compote[was yumm, but different from their usual panna cotta].  
We left the place wondering about the dishes that were going to disappear from the menu and of those that were making an entry.  As i walked down the spiral staircase, conversations flowed and so did the food from the kitchen…. 
Wishing Tuscana all the very best!!!
Location:
Tuscana
Chamiers Rd, Nandanam  Chennai
Adj to Park Sheraton Hotel, few doors down from Amma Nana Store.
Ph- 044 45038008
 
The 2nd outlet is 
Wallace Garden 3rd Street, Aayiram Vilakku  Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600034
Ph- 044 4500 0008