South Indian

Five of many things about me!

1) I have had wonky teeth almost all my life. Only when I realised that I was nearing 30(I turned 30 this year, so please don’t think I am very old) I decided to fix my teeth. I am glad I did because I see many people smiling at me these days.

2) As much as I love cooking and feeding my loved ones, I also love being fed and taken out to eat. Be it for a posh night out at a fine dining place or a greasy Takeaway or a child friendly Italian, my gluttony is a sight of embarrassment everywhere.

3) I sort of hate low-fat versions of anything. Except maybe double cream. Because I am a believer. I would rather eat a small portion of the proper malai kulfi than a big cup of a low fat one. I like to reduce portions than substitute. But what I haven’t understood yet is how small should it be really ūüôą

4) I am not skinny. I don’t wish to either. I think I like the way I am. Just about average is what I am. Although, I may not be as proud when it comes to my mind. Ha, I go mental about some really silly things and I have very weird OCDs. So, overall, an average looking person with a birdbrain.

5) I don’t eat chocolates! Maybe once or twice a year.That’s all.

As a matter of fact, I am glad you made it this far to know about me. So, I leave you with an interesting recipe as a reward for taking your time to read until this point.

It’s sort of a challenge to come up with ideas to cook sprouts differently. One could simply throw them in a salad or make a curry. I have tried making sprouts sandwiches too. They are mighty good. But one Sunday, when I decided to fry¬†pooris for lunch, I also had some leftover sprouts in fridge. And there you go, this dish was born. All I did was slightly cook the sprouts with salt, turmeric and chilli flakes. Next, let it cool and stuffed them into pooris. It was a little tricky at first but as it cooled even more, it became a lot easier to roll and fry. So, the next time you make pooris, try stuffing them with these humble mung beans for a lovely change. I don’t have step by step pictures but I will try to update the post when I make it the next time.


I served it with tadka dal and khatti meeti aloo(sweet and sour). Perfect Recipe to help you get your Sunday nap in order.

 

Featured Image source: Google 

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Really simple yet healthy south Indian breakfast ideas!

I have to admit that ever since I started to cook on my own, I may have not given breakfasts much of an importance for a very long time.Thankfully, years ago, I realised I shouldn’t skip breakfast. But ¬†after I became a mother, I realised I should only make it more healthier than other meals. And here I am with a quick roundup of some healthy Indian breakfast ideas. Although these recipes need a little bit of pre-prep the previous night, they are all family friendly recipes which makes it ideal for busy mornings.

  1. Brown rice Set dosa 

Ingredients: 

Brown rice – 1.5 cups , Idli Rice – 1/2 cup , Aval/Poha/Rice Flakes-White or red(I have used red)- 3/4 th cup, Urad dal-1/2 cup Fenugreek seeds– One teaspoon, Salt– to taste

Soak the brown rice and fenugreek seeds for a minimum of 4 hours. The rest of the ingredients can be soaked for an hour or so. Grind all together in a mixer/blender to a smooth batter. The batter should be slightly on the thicker side after grinding. Add salt and mix well. Leave to ferment overnight. Once fermented, if the batter looks very thick, you could add some water to adjust the consistency.The batter should be light and you should be able to pour it quite easily onto the tawa/pan. And try not to spread it too much like normal dosas. You should be able to see those little holes forming as soon as you pour a ladle of batter. And cook like normal dosa and serve with any side dish of your choice.

2. Samba Godhuma Rava idly/Wheat Idli/Lapsi Idli 

Ingredients :

Lapsi/Plain godhuma Rava/Wheat Rava/Samba Rava– 3 Cups, Urad dal– Just over one cup , Red rice flakes– A big spoonful, Salt– to taste

Soak Urad dal and Red rice flakes for an hour. Soak the Wheat rava for half hour. Grind the urad dal and red rice flaked to a smooth and fluffy batter and squeeze out as much water as you can from the wheat granules. Add half the quantity to the blender/grinder and grind til smooth. Add this ground wheat paste, rest of the whole wheat granules directly to the ground urad dal and red rice flakes. Add salt and mix well. Leave to ferment overnight. You will be able to make spongy idlies for breakfast. Serve with any side dish of your choice.

The reason why only half the wheat rava is ground and added is to get that coarse texture for idli. If you want, you can either add the soaked wheat rava directly to ground urad dal or you can just roughly grind and then add. The ground batter will look like this.

3. Ragi red Rice dosa with Moringa/Drumstick Leaves

Ingredients: 

Ragi flour/ finger millet flour– 2.5 cups , Red raw rice flour-1/2 cup, Urad dal– 1/2 cup, Fenugreek seeds-1 teaspoon , Salt– to taste

Moringa/Murungakeerai/Drumstick leaves– As preferred

Soak fenugreek seeds for a minimum of 2 hours. Soak Urad dal for atleast 20-30 minutes. Grind Urad dal and fenugreek to a smooth paste and mix in the flours and add salt. Mix well and leave to ferment overnight.

Just before you make the dosas, clean and wash the drumstick leaves and add them to the batter and make dosas as you would normally do.

4. Mung dal dosa /Mung beans Dosa

Ingredients: 

Green Mung beans/whole moong dal/Pachai Payaru– 2 cups, Idli rice or raw rice– 1/2 cup, salt to taste.

This dosa is also known as pesarettu although pesarettu is a little more prettier looking than my version.

Soak the dal and rice together overnight. Grind them together with salt to a smooth batter in the morning. This batter need not ferment. You can make dosas immediately. Optional ingredients to add to the batter are cumin seeds, shallots, green chillies and minced ginger. Serve with chutney of your choice.

5. Turmeric Idlis

Ingredients : 

To the normal rice idli batter, add a tablespoon of turmeric powder before you steam the idlies. Mix well and then pour it onto idli moulds. This is one of those simple ways to include more turmeric in your diet.

6. Jowar/Sorghum Dosa 

Ingredients : 

Sorghum/Jowar/Cholam flour– 2 cups, Idli rice or Raw rice – 1/2 cup, Fenugreek seeds– one teaspoon, Urad dal-1/2 cup Salt– to taste

Soak Idli rice, urad dal and fenugreek seeds for a minimum of two hours. Grind to a smooth batter and add the sorghum flour to the ground batter. Add salt. Mix well and add water if necessary to bring to a dosa batter consistency. Leave to ferment overnight. And make these dosas like your regular dosa and serve with side dish of your choice.

From farm to plate(About my parents farm)

When I was little, I didn’t think I would ever learn to cook. I thought cooking was one of those menial tasks and it involved no amount of fun. Maybe because our¬†mother never let us help her much. The best she wanted from us was that we helped her decide what to¬†eat¬†and that we finished what was served. But, as I got older and a little wiser if I may say so, I started to realise that there was¬†more to cooking¬†than merely chopping and mixing.

Have you ever stopped for a moment and thought about where the tomatoes or spinach that you eat came from? No no, I am not that kind of a person who grows her own vegetables and eats only from her own garden. But I am the kind that likes to go pick stuff from the farm preferably or to the least from the market. I find it comforting. I am a little more independent here¬†in London than in Chennai, so I end up buying way too much and often times from very expensive organic shops. I do this with a slight hope of avoiding those greasy takeaways that we do every now and then. Buying too many vegetables is one way of making sure that i almost never want to waste any of it and less of hearing that ” we have eaten out so much this week and we should be spending less bla bla” from the husband. But only the one who cooks can understand the emotions¬†of another isn’t it??? So,When I do cook, I try to use the best possible ingredients.I don’t make what I made the¬†day before or sometimes even a week before. I love food cooked with different coloured vegetables and a reasonable amount of flavour. Apart from trying to make it healthy,I do¬†all of the above¬†to earn that well deserved break from cooking. So when we eat out, I feel a little less guilty.

But here comes the best bit, I am actually very pleased to tell you that my parents own a small farm in Chennai which is a few miles away from our home. And ever so often we get some lovely greens and other vegetables delivered to our house. What a blessing!!! And every time my mother tells me on the phone that she cooked some really delicious stuff using our own farm fresh produce, I would feel so jealous. The last time while I visited home, I was lucky enough to have tasted lots of food made with vegetables from the farm. And needless to say, today I am a bit nostalgic and missing all the food and fun.

Here are some pictures of the produce from the farm which I clicked last year.

 

The Entire lot_MG_6979

The white long ones are Banana Stems which make for an amazing South Indian Style Kootu/Lentil coconut gravy.

_MG_6980

 

Raw Bananas, Guavas and Vazhapoo(Banana Stem flower)_MG_6981

Musmusukai Keerai(Mukia maderaspatana)

Usually served in the form of Kootu(Curry with lentils and coconut)

_MG_6982

Agathi keerai(Sesbania Grandiflora)

Usually served as Kootu or a dry stir fry with Toor dal and coconut

_MG_6983

Manathakkali Keerai (Solanum Nigrum)

Usually served as Kootu or a chutney

_MG_6986

 

Helpers around the farm and the house_MG_6993

The bunch of leaves below the Banana Stem flower is Murungai Keerai (Drumstick leaves). This is a very tasty one and usually cooked in Sambar or added to dosais and adais. 

_MG_6995

 

Banana stem flower (Best had as Kootu or a Vadai(Dumpling)_MG_6997

 

Agathi Poo (My mother made an amazing thokku(Pickle) with this flower and it was out of the world.  I will find a picture of this pickle and post it sometime soon. _MG_6998

 

The little black beauties in the picture above are fresh manathakkalis/black night shades/sunberry. These berries are sun dried and added to kara kuzhambu(a spicy tamarind based curry).

_MG_6996

I hope you enjoyed this post ūüôā

 

The joy of simple food!

Did you know that Indians eat yoghurt/curd rice which is just rice and yoghurt mixed together? Okay, it’s more of a south Indian thing than a “Indian” thing actually. A daily affair in every south Indian’s home if I may say so. It may sound like I am over exaggerating a very simple combination or some of you may even call it a strange one. But the fact remains that there is nothing quite like finishing a meal with this “Thayir Sadham” as we all fondly call it in tamil. We sometimes have it as the only meal just so it helps the tummy to recover from all the junk we often eat.

It is mostly had during lunch but some people prefer having it for dinner too. As with many other dishes, this too can be served with variations. The most common is tempering it with mustard seeds. It shouldn’t surprise you if I now say that it appears on every wedding food menu. One, because it is loved by people of all ages and two, it is very easy to cook. On such occasions, it is a little more dressed up with fruits like grapes and vegetables like carrots and nuts too. And tempered¬†with ginger, green chillies etc etc. Infact, I know a lot of¬†people who even add butter to it to this already creamy deliciousness.

Goodness knows what a brilliant lot we are when it comes to food.(I maybe a little biased here being a south Indian myself) But dear reader, if you don’t think I was right then I suggest you first have a plate of Masala dosai or a bowl of curd rice with some potato fry and then think again.

Now, as we are all aware that eating too much white rice may increase the risk to diabetes and so on, I don’t see why we cannot switch some meals to healthier types. Especially, when we can get easy access to so many wonderful substitutes like Brown rice and Millets. I personally love millets. They are so easy to cook and tastes even better than white rice. Although I don’t compromise all the time. For e.g I like to cook white rice for a good bowl of drumstick sambar. But for a mixed yoghurt rice, I think millets are my favourite.

millet curd rice 3Here is a picture of a millet yoghurt rice tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves we had last week.

This was heaven right there.

I have such warm memories of devouring this dish after so many trips that we have taken over the years. Every time we come back from a trip, the only thing we crave for is some curd rice so we can all drift off to sleep right away. Yes, it is such a good sleep inducer I tell you.

There is no real recipe to this dish. You can add or not add any of those extra bits I mentioned. Here are a few suggestions:

  1.  If you are a beginner and want to experiment on how rice and yoghurt might even taste, then I would suggest you try doing this with plain basmati rice first. Simply cook rice normally and mix it with plain or greek yoghurt and a pinch of salt. 
  2. If you want to go one step further, heat up some oil, throw in mustard seeds and curry leaves, finely chopped ginger and green chillies. Add all of these along with rice and yoghurt. 
  3. If you want to go over the top, then follow step 1 and 2 first. Then, add green and black grapes(of course without the seeds). Then grate some carrots and cucumber. Garnish with nuts of your choice and for that extra prettiness add a few pomegranate seeds.

Now, can you begin to imagine how good this can be really????

My thoughts on having a boy and recipe for a spicy south Indian gravy!

Hurrah! my boy is going to be 2 next month. Although I am very happy to see him grow and shine, I am also secretly wishing for him to stay a little boy forever. Little boys should never grow.Yep, I am going to be biased here. There is something very very very nice about having¬†a boy. Perhaps, he is the only one¬†who thinks I am so beautiful even on my bad hair days which is almost very often. And he is the only one who loves me despite¬†giving him the same ol’ carrots and lentils for three days in a row.

My husband always wanted a boy more than me. He knows me too well to have wished for one because I am having way too much fun now. I kind of hoped for a girl as I love being one and thought it would’ve been easier to raise one too.¬†Plus, I also feared having to look at too many cars and trains and all¬†that. I couldn’t have been more stupid really. Because one fine day, this boy entered into my¬†world and blew me away. So much so that I don’t mind raising a dozen of boys. I love the way he helps me see the world through his tiny little eyes. I now think fire trucks and magnetic trains are the coolest things ever. I enjoy seeing digger trucks and car transporters on road. I get excited when I spot the bus before he does. I love dinosaurs and fast cars. Enough said!

Onto a lovely recipe passed onto me from my mother. It is a very spicy black pepper based gravy. South indian at its best. Perfect to have with bread or rice . For a non vegetarian version, just add chicken.

Melagu Kuzhambu or Black pepper gravy 

Pepper kuzhambu final

Here is what you will need:

Black peppercorns/Melagu in Tamil РA handful 

Cumin seeds- One heaped teaspoon

Dried Red chilli – 2

Chana dal/Yellow Split peas- 3/4th quantity of black pepper

Urad dal – Half the amount of Chana dal

Tamarind – size of golf ball soaked in lukewarm water or use 2 spoons of paste

Shallot onions- atleast 6 

Garlic pods- according to your preference (we add around 10 bulbs as we are a little partial to garlic)

To season: Curry leaves, Mustard seeds and Gingelly oil 

Method :

In a wide pan, dry roast black pepper, cumin seeds, red chilli and the dals individually. yes, its a bit time taking but worth it. Lightly roast them till you can fill the entire house with a wonderful aroma.

Once a bit cooled, grind all of the above with the tamarind water/paste till it forms a nice smooth paste.

Heat a kadai/gravy pot, add gingelly oil and season with mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add onions and garlic now. Saute till translucent.

Now add the ground paste and add little water to loosen it up to a gravy like consistency. Also, once boiled, the gravy does tend to reduce so add a little extra water if you wish to.

Let it boil well for 8-9 minutes in a rather low flame. Keep stirring as and when required. This delicious concoction is ready to be served hot with a bowl of rice and a dollop of ghee. Pure bliss! Perfect for those wintry nights!

 

Karahi Tales

Parathas or Naan breads ? Curry or Biryani ? I am not even going to pretend I don’t like a¬†greasy supper now and then. Something deeply satisfying about ordering for a takeaway from your¬†regular Indian place isn’t it? Just like how each of you have your own local favourites, we have ours too. It is called Punjabi Karahi. Ever since I came to London, I have been eating here often enough with little breaks now and then. Although, we took a rather big break while I was pregnant and breastfeeding. See, before you go judging me, I am a good mother.

Punjabi Karahi is one dinky restaurant which is always overflowing with punjabi uncles sat in random tables and gobbling up parathas after parathas. So, it may not be entirely attractive to look at but the food is good. And best is to do a takeaway.

My brother visits us often in London for various reasons. Sometimes, it only appears as if he has travelled all the way only to eat from Karahi. Oh well, we are food mad like that.

I leave you with a recipe for a delicious Ragi/Finger Millet puttu which is totally non greasy and guilt free depending on the type of sugar you use.

Here’s what you need :¬†

A cup of good quality Ragi flour

Brown sugar or palm sugar to taste

Finely grated coconut

One or two pods of Cardamom

A little bit of ghee for frying nuts and raisins

Here’s how to make this:

One good tip I recently learnt is to sift the flour well for any type of puttu to avoid big lumps when it’s done.

Take lukewarm water about half the amount of flour.

Gradually sprinkle over the flour until you reach the point at which you can actually gather some flour and squeeze it between your fingers and it can hold a shape but when you let it loose it has to crumble.

At this stage, steam this flour using any steaming method you like. Steam till you get a nice smell and this might take about 6-7 minutes. The flour also turns darker when cooked.

Now heat a pan, add ghee and fry any nuts of your choice. I only used raisins this time to make it safer for the little person. Switch off flame and add grated coconut to the same pan. So with the remaining heat the coconut gets lightly toasted and that gives a wonderful flavour to this dish.

By now the flour would’ve cooled a little bit and you can add any type of sugar you may want. I used powdered brown sugar.i also added the cardamom pods to the sugar before grinding to make it easier. ¬†Add the toasted nuts and coconut too. Give a good mix and serve immediately!

This can be a wonderful evening tiffin or can be a good idea for breakfast too. 

 

 

A few “Madras” things

A city that is known only for hot weather was showered with way too much rain for nearly a month. So much so that almost the entire city was under water for nearly three days this week.  And as I type, there are still some areas that are water-logged, and people stranded in streets with no water or food. Makes me want to hide my helpless face out of shame. A lot many people have come forward to do what they can. It was heartening to see this kind of attitude in a city where the newspapers often only report thefts and violence. Tough times like these are looked upon as a rather good opportunity to exploit people and rob them off completely but none of these things have happened in Chennai. That definitely says a lot about how people behave when their own lives are at risk. Yes, the flooding was so bad that almost every house was affected in some way.

Although it is hard to understand as to why such calamities happen ever so often in different parts of the world, they all teach/remind us the same old lesson i.e to not take things for granted. As cliched as it may sound, we all need to be reminded in order to better ourselves. And as a result of which, we become stronger and start to think of what can we do to protect ourselves in the long term. For someone like me, who is used to being pampered at home right from the time i wake up until bedtime, it is so easy to get carried away and simply ignore things like whether or not the motor has been switched on or if the vessels have been cleaned etc etc. But when we lost electricity last week for nearly two days, it hit me quite hard when I saw my folks struggling to keep things going for us. Every now and then when the mobile data worked, I would go online to check what everyone else was upto and people were out and about trying to help strangers and dogs.

So, feeling rather inspired to help,  I posted a status on facebook and twitter saying I can help people connect through telephones or atleast find out information locally for friends living abroad. I started to get a few phone calls after a couple of hours asking for updates on various roads and help with finding if their parents/grandparents were doing fine. Although I could not help with all the requests I got, I still managed to do one little service for a person from the middle east, who was worried about his single and aging mother who happeneed to live close to my home. We cousins personally went to her house and recorded a video of her and sent it to her son who felt rather relieved and wished us well. This is probably one of the best things I have ever done in a long time.And It felt so good. A kind of good that is hard to explain and one that fills your heart with so much warmth. So, to all those of you who are still out there and doing stuff unlike me who is only writing it all up at the comfort of a warm couch and hot coffee, I owe my respect.

After days of gloomy skies and the rains pitter-pattering on our roofs, I am leaving you with some photos that are quintessentially “Madras”¬†with a hope to brighten up your day.

 

 

Idli sambar blog

South Indian mornings

Tea Madras blog

ŗģüŗģŅ ŗģēŗģüŗĮą ŗģēŗģ§ŗĮąŗģēŗģ≥ŗĮć

Madras blog Ko 1

Koyambedu flower market Scenes

Madras blog Rain 2

When it rains….eat bajji and make paper boats

In case you are wondering, we made all these dishes despite the rains because we live to eat….Yes, I baked the biscuits too ūüėÄ

 

Families frolicking, young lovers cuddling, kids running around and flying kites and huge cans of sundal being sold only makes this Marina beach a special one…

 

Saree shopping never gets boring in Chennai…If you are a chennaite and living abroad,I am sure you are reminded of the good ol’ stores like Kumaran Silks, Nalli Silks and all those crazily crowded T Nagar shops. Some things never change isnt it????

 

Golu time is one of the best times to visit Chennai. Happens around Oct/Nov every year.

Sometimes, I wonder what would this city’s people do if two wheelers didnt exist? Because this city is filled with so many of them…. The picture on the right happens to be one of my favourite…

dance blog newspaper

Besides everything else, I love the way people give importance to  carnatic music and the traditional dance called bharatnatyam here in Chennai.

wedding

This picture may not represent “Chennai” exactly but it is one of those¬†special moments in every tamil speaking girl’s wedding. And most of the weddings that happen in Chennai are Tamil style. This is from my very own wedding that also happened in chennai and I am simply sharing it because I love weddings and I love Chennai….

So, What are your favourite things about Namma Chennai?

Chennai Temple Trails

templetrail                     My first online sketch using my feather light brain. 

 

So, I have been thinking of doing a series of posts on the best things in and around this city where I originally come from. The city as of now is sinking in parts with some good load of rain that has been thrashing it since a few weeks. Although, it never loses its charm and has so much to marvel at. With great support(nuisance as they may call it) from my family, I am kicking off this series with a post on beautiful temples to visit in Chennai. This may seem rather boring if you are not the religious type but besides all that, you may simply want to go to see some beautiful architecture and some good food too!

To roughly quote what my parents first said when I asked them for information….

It is not so easy to explain about all the temples in Chennai. And even harder to pick only a few from the hundreds and thousands that are pretty much in every nook and corner. We can give you a list of the most famous ones which are worth a visit for any traveller who¬†loves hindu temples.”

So, I jumped right into the idea and delegated the tedious job of collecting all details for this post to my parents. While I only kept nagging them so I can work on the elementary aspects of editing and translating.

Here goes :

  1. Kundrathur Murugan Temple : Before I start to tell you about the temple, I must tell you that this town of Kundrathur is rather special to our family. This is where my paternal folks originally come from. My father grew up here and we all lived here until my brother and I were born in the mid 80s. Oh my good lord,doesn’t it sound like we were born ages ago? But you may wonder looking at us because we look and feel like we are only 16. And sometimes, we act like we are like 9. Silly ol’ me with silly calculations. My son will help me brush up counting skills just enough to tell my age right to everyone someday.

Kundrathur final

So, going back to Kundrathur, this rather small village is situated in the outskirts of chennai. And this much beloved temple by our family has been built on a cute little hill. You can drive up the hill or walk up 72 flight of stairs to enter the temple. Lord Muruga is the main deity and festivals like karthigai deepam, new year are all celebrated here elaborately. We have such fond memories to this temple and of course the entire town of Kundrathur. Besides this fact, you may simply want to go to see how beautiful the temple is and to buy some fresh onion pakoda from one special shop on your way back home(Shhh… message me directly for more details on the shop)

2. Kapaleeswarar temple¬†Mylapore : This is one of Chennai’s oldest temples and yet the most picturesque too. The lord is Shiva( Kapaleeswarar) and the Goddess is Karpagambal. It is believed that the goddess worshipped the lord in the form of a peacock, also known as “Mayil” in tamil and hence the name mylapore to the area. It is a very lovely place to wander about on a pleasant december morning and for seriously scrumptious idly vada sambar breakfast.

Kapaleeswarar-final

3. Arupadai Murugan temple, Besant Nagar: A Murugan temple inside the city but quite literally on the Sea shore. Beautifully built and modern looking yet holding the traditional designs, this temple houses six Murugan sanctums. Lord Muruga is known by six different names at six different abodes in Tamil Nadu. The six abodes include Thiruthani, Swamimalai, Palani,Pazhamudircholai, Thirupparankunram and Thiruchendur. It may take you a week or so to visit all of these individually. But, to make it easier for people who are pressed for time, this temple in Besant Nagar, Chennai interestingly houses all the six abodes.

arupadai final 1

And if you are into yoga or meditation, then this is a wonderful place to go as the sea side is so peaceful. Or just a walk by the beach after you visit the temple will leave you feeling refreshed.

4. Thiruvottiyur Vadivudai Amman : At a time when the world was affected by some kind of a natural disaster, (in this case, it was most likely a flood) Brahma, the creator was praying to the god of gods, Lord Shiva for a new earth to be created. And Shiva was rather appeased by¬†Brahma’s penchant and¬†turned¬†into sand so he could re-create the world. This¬†is why, Shiva is in the form of a mud mound in this temple. Thereby, this temple is basically dedicated to Lord Shiva and the name of goddess is Vadivudaiamman/Tirupurasundari. The twenty seven stars/nakshatrams of the tamil calendar are believed to have worshipped Lord Shiva and therefore this temple is quite special for people of all signs to worship. Every year, On the day of the full moon during¬†the Tamil month of¬†karthigai, the armour is removed and the representation of the god is visible to devotees for 3 days or so. During this time, the lord is anointed with different fragrance oils and these are even¬†brought home by some devotees for good luck and Of course, for some lovely aroma around the house.

Geographically, this temple is situated towards the north of Chennai. And it is about 7km from Parrys corner where the Chennai central Railway central station is located.

5. Vadapalani Murugan temple: One can only think of this temple’s¬†rather majestic gopuram(a sort of tower with beautiful sculptures and intricate designs usually at the entrance of many temples especially in South India) as soon as one hears the name Vadapalani Murugan. It adds such beauty to the entire lane leading to the entrance of the temple. And even while you drive close to Vadapalani, you can spot the gopuram quite easily for its such a pretty looking one more so at night time with the lights on. I cannot help myself from doing the very Indian thing of praying with a namaskaram/namaste from inside the car while we drive past. It sort of comes naturally because most of us have this habit of simply following our elders as long as it is no harm to anyone. And I am not any exception to this. I like doing these little things out of respect. Certain traditions might not¬†make much sense but it makes me feel secure for having followed it so long, it is hard to be otherwise.

This age old temple is dedicated to Lord Muruga,also known as Karthik, son of Lord Shiva. Besides the beautiful Gopuram, the lord himself in standing posture is beautifully decorated each day with different flowers and ornaments.

Vadapalani_Temple_2

The temple is conveniently located in the heart of the city and easily accessible by all modes of transport.

6. Parthasarathy Temple : There were Ancient saints called Tamil Azhwars who were hard core devotees of Lord Vishnu(One of the forms Lord Krishna had taken). These Azhwars kind of promoted their religious principles all around known as Vaishnavism. Their works included songs in which they revered 108 temples all around India which are collectively called as “Divya Desams”. One of the 108 Vishnu temples is the Triplicane Parthasarathy Temple in Chennai.

 

Krishna was the charioteer for the Pandava prince Arjuna during the Kurukshetra War in¬†Mahabaratha. Krishna was neutral during the war, ¬†offered himself for the Pandavas. Parthasarathy in the temple is thus depicted with a moustache and having only the conch, without his weapon Chakra. This is attributed to the promise he made to the Kauravas not to take weapons during the war. Following the traditions of a charioteer, he sported the moustache and the same is depicted in the temple. The scars in the face of Parthasarathy’s idol is depicted to show the injuries caused by the arrows of Bhishma in the war.

Every year, during the month of Margazhi(around December/January), Vaikunta Ekadesi(A culture among Vaishnavites who believe that gates to Lord’s Inner Sanctum is opened) is observed. And only during this time, the deity is displayed without the moustache and a lot of people observe fasting. And yet another reason to visit this temple is that Lord Vishnu from five other Divya desams temples¬†such as¬†Srirangam, Tirupati, Kancheepuram, Ahobilam and Ayodhya¬†are also featured¬†here individually.

7. Marundeeswarar temple Thiruvanmiyur : If you are a tamilian, you would probably know¬†what¬†“Marundu” means. “Marundu”means medicines and “easwar” is another name for Lord Shiva. So, this temple is known so as Lord Shiva is believed to have taught¬†a sage called¬†Agastya some medicinal values. Thereby, this temple is worshipped by people for good health and cure for diseases.

Marundeeswarar-Temple final

Also, another sage called Valmiki who wrote the Epic of Ramayana is believed to have been blessed at this temple by the lord. And this sort of lead to naming the town Thiruvalmiki Nagar and now Thiruvanmiyur. The milk and oils that are anointed on the lord for abhishekam is considered holy and helps with healing of illness.

This temple is located on the east coast road by the sea side. So, well worth a visit if you are on a seaside break.

8. Nanganallur Anjaneyar Temple : The first thing that comes to mind is the word “tall” when I hear about this temple. This temple is dedicated to Lord Hanuman/Anjaneyar whose idol here is 32ft tall and molded¬†out of a single rock.

namakkal-anjaneya1 final.jpg

Hanuman Jayanthi, Seetha Kalyanam and Ram Navami are a few festivals that are celebrated elaborately here. This temple is located quite close to the airport in Meenambakkam, Chennai.

9. Mangadu Kamakshi Amman: This temple is dedicated to the goddess Kamakshi who is also known as Devi. It is believed that Devi started her penance on one leg on the panchagni(five fire) so Lord Shiva will marry her. And Shiva appeared before the goddess and married Kamakshi Devi in Kancheepuram. Therefore, any girl willing to get married soon is said to pray to goddess Kamakshi at this temple.¬†Kamakshi’s penance on one leg can be seen in the temple. This temple is a little off the city but quite easily accessible.

mangadu final 2I love the Ambassador car in the picture as it makes me feel nostalgic. We owned one while I was around 6 year old and we have done¬†so many temple tours around Tamil Nadu in it. Also, ambassador cars are¬†quite the symbol of the 80’s in India.

 

There comes the end to my list of must visit temples in Chennai…. I hope you found this useful. To the least, a bit of time pass while sleep eludes you. If you’ve managed to read until here, then I have to thank you for your patience.

 

Disclaimer : While there are thousand other temples that are beautiful and powerful in terms of good vibes, the 9 listed here are my favourite choices.

Temples Image source : Google and edited

 

 

 

 

Home is definitely where the heart is

In this new age, almost every house has one person who lives far far away for various reasons. Whether it is the software engineer son who is sent¬†away for a two-year stint to the states or some random country¬†in Europe or the rather simple daughter who gets married to one and tags along with the IT husband living abroad, or the foreign loving youth who want to earn a degree in one of these places, or simply a person who just wants to live away from India, we all have such kind of people as relatives,friends and neighbors. And every time one or many of these people come back home, we hear them say how much this city of Madras has changed and one always ends up comparing to the life in the new country. And it doesn’t stop there, every thing seems big and special. For e.g, a¬†cup of¬†filter coffee or being at easy access to so many good Indian restaurants or simply looking at movie posters while driving by. Ok, I think I will make a small correction to one of the things above, yes I am a filter coffee mad. And it is awfully special for me when I get to have the best of it. So, like filter coffee, we all have so many things that we are attached to. We simply miss it while we are away and crave for it.But when returning home becomes an occasion, it¬†makes you want to notice the things you probably never remembered it existed in the first place. I do not know how many of us feel this way, but over the years, I have become one curious little(I know I am not little but I just like to think so in my head)cat that is constantly lurking¬†around corners of my home simply to feel how it used to feel while I lived here once upon a time ago.

It is the things that we all love about our homes which is different but all of these feelings may well hold true to any of us visiting home in any part of the world. Because, home is where our hearts belong to originally. If you are reading this while you are back home, then I only want to remind you to cherish every bit. While, if you are some one who is about to visit home or someone who is lucky enough to be living close to/in your own house from the time you were born, then remember to take a quite little walk around and notice every darn thing with no real purpose for you may end up picking pieces of your heart from corners that you were once fond of as a child.

Oh dear, what a sentimental freak of a post! As it is said in Tanglish(Tamil+English), “ellam oru flow la varardhu” which kind of means speaking in a manner of flow without thinking deeply. In this case, its precisely me speaking¬†just happy-tear-filled gibberish.

And I am breaking my rule of leaving you with recipes at the end. Here are a few shots from different corners of my (parents) home. House blog 1house 2.jpg

 

Clay Pot Dal

While there are enough blogs to give you recipes and ideas, what am I doing here just chatting away about food( mostly) like this blog is a place for me to express all the self-indulgent stuff that we do? Well, the truth is I am only writing all this up for people who can relate to me because I know there are so many people who do not express but like to read things And feel some sort of connection with the world out there. It is always nice to know that there are people who like us and also do things similar to us no matter how ludicrous we are. And this blog is kind of helping me do that. (Not that I have found a million friends/readers already but whatever little there is makes me feel happy beyond words)

So, here is the new post on our Love for Dal.

Who doesn’t love a warming bowl of good ol’ dal? If you don’t, then I am going to assume that you belong to a different planet. Ever since I started to cook, dal is what I make often enough. One, because it is so easy to cook. Two, it is deeply satisfying. Not many foods work so well like this. It is either easy to make but not wholesome or takes a while to cook a rather delicious meal. But these little beauties blend beautifully with any meal.

Can I just take a moment to tell you a few Indian ways of consuming dal? First of all, dal is available in different forms. (Click here to read more)¬†But what appears predominantly in my kitchen is the¬†ever so adequate¬†paruppu sadam/Plain cooked Dal with rice, Or a Sambar or a kootu/curry with coconut all of these associated with south India. Next to that, is a simple North Indian style Tadka dal where we rip a large piece of roti/chapati to dunk into it. We don’t eat like birds as we are greedy ol’ pigs who try to tear and stuff. Besides these, we add dals¬†to vegetables to make stir fry curries or occasionally end up with deep frying goodies like a proper masala vadai or medhu vada on auspicious days.

Now, now I must get to the point! I was always fond of eating food made in¬†clay pots and I still do. My mother makes some scrumptious¬†lassi that¬†is stored for a while in a clay pot before drinking. If you are a beginner, try drinking water stored in clay pots¬†to start with or simply buy a¬†matka kulfi to understand better. So, Last year I decided to buy a good clay pot from India and start experimenting. The first thing I made was dal and much much goodness¬†it was. It takes longer than usual to cook in a claypot which is why I don’t use it often for now but it is certainly worth cooking if one has no attention-seeking toddlers at home. I am hoping to experiment with my claypot more next year but for now here is a picture of my first ever dal in a claypot or a Man Paanai as it is fondly called in Tamil.

Dal

So, have you ever eaten from a clay pot?