Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Viva Las Vegas!

A shopoholic like me ditched what should have been an evening.... night.... dawn to remember.. trading it for our ThanksGiving Weekend was just fabulous.... we took a small holiday to Las Vegas , the Grand Canyon and Lake Havasu City....
Special Thank You to M, for making this happen!
Just uploading a few snaps to share with you all.....
Stratosphere.... hotel, casino and has the world’s most insane thrill rides at 1,149-feet above ground! The most I could dare, was the Big Shot... The Big Shot thrill ride catapults 16 riders from the 921-foot high platform up the Tower's mast to a height of 1,081 feet. Traveling at 45 miles per hour (though it feels a LOT more than that) !!
See what I mean? I took this shot when I was back on Terra Firma ... still a bit wobbly at the knees!!!

Bally's Jubilee show has the "Best Showgirls" and a show worth watching, though at first you may cringe at the thought of going to a topless show .. but believe me, the show has such stunning sets and costumes, you will be lost in appreciating that! .......And also the total grandeur of the lighting,the 'chakpak' everywhere ... dazzling!!

....Breath taking, awesome, huge (such a small word to describe it!!) all of 12,000 years of beauty that time cannot fade! The immense expanse making us realise how tiny we are ! The peace that we feel... take a moment to feel the tranquility, far away from our hectic lives!
Hold hands and watch the shadows lengthen over a stunning sunset.... feel the cold wind on your face... Nature is B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L!!

Lake Havasu
Lake Havasu city is famous for it's 'London Bridge'! Yes, the very same bridge of ' London bridge is falling down, falling down..' When this bridge was sinking , R.P McCulloh bought it, had it broken down, shipped it to Arizona and rebuilt it in it's original glory.
Surrounding this bridge one gets a feel of being in a English village !


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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

An afternoon to remember....

A wonderful potluck lunch!!

I knew that being a house wife is double the work.. but it was not until we came to CA, and plunging 100% in to managing home, did I realise what a big deal this is! And by that I mean, doing the dishes thrice a day(and laundry, ironing, cleaning..etc..whew!!)... our apartment owners do not feel the need to provide us with a dish-washer... and the initial grumbling amounted to even considering that the 'curse of the Bai' is on our heads! I mean, think of all those times , when back in India, when the maid even washed your cup of tea... the mountain of utensils... oh yes!
But despite all this, one thing that is real fun is teaming up with all the 'house wives' ( read 'All house wives, who have applied for employment authorisation and are waiting... waiting.....) to arrange a pot luck lunch. Also, one of our group is also going to India, so this was like a small farewell for her.
This was (surprisingly) my first potluck party.. and I had a great time (to say the least) making new friends and also sampling their cooking!
Here is our spread !

Top row: Gajar Halwa (hehehehe... Starting off with the sweet first!), a Tomato- date chutney (Bengali/ Oriya recipe), Paneer - Mutter
Middle row: Moong daal kachumbar/ koshimbir, Alu Flower, Bread
Last row : Pulav , Choley, and Pav Bhaji (my contribution).

What an afternoon! Making new friends, finding so many common things amongst ourselves, though many of us hail from different corners of India.... friendly laughter, good food!

It's all about feeling good!!

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Kanchipuram Idli

I found this bit of history about Idli in Wikipedia.
The word idli originates from the two Tamil words - "Ittu" and "Avi" (To lay and steam). Although the precise history of the modern idli is unknown, it is a very old food in southern Indian cuisine. The first mention of it in writings occurs circa 920 A.D., and it seems to have started as a dish made only of fermented black lentil. One description circa 1025 A.D. says the lentils were first soaked in buttermilk, and after grinding, seasoned with pepper, coriander, cumin and asafoetida. The king and scholar Someshwara III, reigning in the area now called Karnataka, included an idli recipe in his encyclopedia, the Manasollasa, written in Sanskrit ca. 1130 A.D. There is no known record of rice being added until some time in the 17th century. It may have been found that the rice helped speed the fermentation process. Although the idli changed in ingredients, the preparation process and the name remained the same.

Well, so much for the history part, but idli is a favorite on the breakfast table or even in a lunch box. Needs a little preparation.. or if you do not have the time, just get a ready mix (depends on how desperate you get!)

1 cup urad daal
1 1/2 cup Idli Rava
7-8 Methi seeds
2 tbsp. Poha
For Tempering - 'TADKA':
1 tbsp. soaked Channa daal
1 inch ginger
5-6 chilies (vary according to taste)ground
1 tbsp. each:
Fresh cilantro -chopped
Fresh Grated coconut
1 tbsp. cury leaves
1-2 dry red chilies

Soak the Urad daal, methi, poha for 6 hours. Grind and add the idli rava, leave it overnight to ferment. In the morning add salt, and season the batter with the TADKA.Make idlis as per normal procedure of steaming.
Serve hot with a pat of butter, Sambar and chutney.
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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Winter and Honeydew Melon juice!!

It is winter, the wind blows thru the tall trees making them sway gracefully to its tune and rustle their boughs! The clouds float by gently, persuaded by the naughty west wind and the moon makes an early appearance now, peeping here and there from behind the clouded veil to look at the wonderful hues of the setting sun, spreading it's final warmth for the day with bright reds, oranges and purples! Nature weaves its wondrous magic in the evenings which is most delightful over a steaming hot cup of coffee..... want to join me for one? we can sit in the patio... shivering ever so slightly and holding a mug with both hands to warm them!
Sounds good , right?! but here in California the temperatures still soar during the day! Why, just last week, it went up to a good 90 deg. F ! Winter ! Pshaw! Just when you are thinking of making warm soup......
So this week at the market, I spied this inviting looking Honey Dew melon. What better than a cooling melon juice for a hot Californian afternoon?!
Eat it as it is, cool n' cubed (in M's lunch box)..... or blend it into a soothing juice. My parents on their visit here, gifted me a cute li'll blender and chopper! It's perfect for the 2 of us, also when I have guests over for my li'll tea parties, dinners.....
Back to the juice...
Honey dew melon cubes
1 Tbsp. Sugar (optional)
1/4 cup Chilled Water / 1 ice cube
2 Tbsp. strawberry syrup

Blend all the above. Pour in a glass, put your feet up and siiiiiippppp!!!

* Honey dew melon juice on its own is very refreshing, but a bit of strawberry syrup adds to the taste, and the colour itself is so cool!

You can add a few drops of vanilla essence as a substitute to strawberry...

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Vegetarian Omelet :Tomato Omelet

Chickpea, or besan flour is a very handy and versatile flour to have in the kitchen. It can be used in curries, making pakoras, ladoos......

Though primarily used in the kitchen, it has other uses too. It finds itself in the list of 'solah singaar', besan is also considered as a good exfoliant when used in a face pack. In India, besan mixed with a bit of milk and turmeric is used instead of soap to bathe infants.

In the kitchen , you all have used it for various cooking purposes, and I am sure one of them is this omelet! The vegetarian omelet! Quick to make and tastes good too.
All you need is :

1 cup besan
1/2 onion finely chopped
1 med. size tomato chopped
2 spns. peas
1 spn. chopped cilantro
2-3 green chilies finely chopped
Salt to taste
Water to make batter
Mix all the above ingredients and make a batter of dropping consistency.
Heat a skillet. Apply / spray some oil and pour a ladle of the batter.

Cook till brown on both sides.
Serve with bread and tomato ketchup.
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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Gharge (JFI - Jagery)

It is the time to binge (on oily stuff)... I shall (happily) do away with all the 'low fat', zero oil food, sit back, and eat all the deep fried snacks with nothing to mar my conscience! Ok, so I shall go on a diet after ALL the sweets are exhausted....
Everywhere that one goes , pumpkins meet the eye.. Halloween time! To me it means making Gharge, pumpkin puri. This is a deep fried Indian flat bread which has for it's main ingredient- pumpkin.
I got some nice pumpkin at the Farmers Market.. it was so bright and colorful, I was almost sorry to have cut it up to grate it for making Gharge!But it was great work out for the arms!
Take :
2 cups Grated pumpkin
1.5 cup grated jaggery (this makes it mildly sweet, the original taste)
1/2 cup Farina (rawa/ sooji)
1/2 cup rice flour
Pinch salt
Wheat Flour
1/4 tsp. Cardamom powder
1 tsp ghee
Oil for deep frying

Grate the pumpkin

Grate the jaggery
In a heavy bottomed wok or saucepan, add the ghee, pumpkin and cook it, when it is almost done, add the jaggery. The mixture will look like so...

Cook the above mixture well and once the jaggery melts , switch off the heat. Add about a tsp. of oil, add in the Farina and rice flour , mix well , cover and keep for around 2 - 3 hrs.
Add wheat flour, Now add as much as you can to make a nice chapatti like dough.
Take a small ping pong size ball, but instead of using a rolling pin, use a plastic cover, keep the dough ball in between and flatten it with your palm.
Deep fry till a lovey golden color. Drain on a tissue.

This is also my entry for JFI hosted by Kay (Towards a Better Tomorrow)
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