Sunday, January 31, 2016

Raw Jack fruit or Kathal stir fry

I had eaten the raw jack fruit stir fry for the first time about 20 years ago when my family visited a Malayalee family in Kannanur in Kerala. Our hostess, went to the backyard, plucked one small young jackfruit and skinned it and cooked it right infront of us. I was amazed. Best part of it was that she used a stone dish for cooking it. I have been trying to source such a pot ever since but with no success. I came to know in the past few years that the stone cutters are not using the right type of stone for making these pots and that they break on usage. Those who own them usually get them handed down from generation to generation. The food cooked in them taste super delicious!
On our recent trip to a farm, we were served this jackfruit stir fry. Now I wanted to cook it myself. What better than to buy one from the same farm! Lo and behold, I came home equipped with a huge raw jack fruit (I wanted a small one, but the host insisted I take the big one).

The I began asking a few Malayalee neighbours for the recipes and also checked on the net. Finally I decided to make it the way, our host had cooked it back in Kannanur. here is my attempt:

Jackfruit - 2 cups, skinned, chopped to 1" cubes
Green chilli - 1 no. (optional)
Red chilli -1 no.
Ginger garlic paste - 1/2 tsp.
Onion - 1 no. medium size, chopped
Salt - to taste (1 tsp.)
Curry leaves - 8 - 10 nos.
Cooking oil - 2 tbs.
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp.
Cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp/
Mustard seeds / 1/4 tsp.

Cut and clean the jackfruit. Place them in a steel pot. Pour water to cover the pieces. Add  turmeric powder and salt and cook covered with a lid, on medium heat, until the vegetable is tender. Drain excess water. With fingers separate the fibers and keep it aside.
Take oil in a frying pan; on a medium heat, add cumin and mustard seeds. When they start to splutter, add curry leaves, red chilli, green chilli. fry them for a few min and add chopped onion and ginger garlic paste. Those who rather use asafoetida instead of ginger garlic can do so. Now add the cooked and drained vegetable and fry until done. Best eaten with rice.
I had fresh fenugreek leaves, so, chopped and added to the frying onion mixture. It added an extra dimension of flavour to the stirfry.

Morning walk on Caranzalem beach, Goa

It was a bright, sunny morning; the last day of January 2016. Already one month is gone this year! Anyway, back to this morning, Joachim and I got ready (in our flip flops and very casual clothes) to go to the beach for our morning walk. I am a evening walking person, but some sundays we go in the morning to the beach. Since Caranzalem, beach is just across the road from where we live, it is always a pleasure to go there. 

A walk is a walk wherever you go. Why a blog post on it? For me, a walk on a beach is like no other. Here is a world in itself. It is a complete experience. The pictures show some of the things I noticed on my walk and describe my experiences. There is always something to learn when I go with Joachim! He is well of knowledge!
We reach the beach and what a pleasure to sea the water!
The fishing boats ready to go to sea. 
I love this freshly painted boat resting on wooden planks. When the fishermen want to take it into the sea, they remove one wooden plank, put it ahead by a few meters, push the boat on the the other one until it is resting on both. Then remove the back one, bring it forward, place it few meters ahead and roll the boat on the one resting on....and again repeat the process until the boat is in the water and then it is push into deeper waters. Did it make any sense?
A long fishing net drying on the sand!
Looks like it is low tide this time in the morning! Waves are low and the shore line went back. The sound of the crashing waves has to be heard to feel it!
Not many morning walkers / strollers on this sunday.
There is this particular Sun worshiper who is a permanent fixture both in the mornings and at sun down. His back is to the water and is facing the sun.
This kid doesnot have company to play. good thing he brought his football along!
There was a lot of hue and cry about the beaches being dirty and garbage and trash everywhere, a couple of years ago. Municipality swung into action, and ever since the beaches are combed for any and all kinds of trash every day.
it is a simple process of collecting, picking up and transporting. These guys are doing a great job, if you can see what people leave behind them after a visit to the beach. Broken alcohol bottles, wrappers, polythene bags, broken footwear, and all kinds of rubbish .... Do they think the sea will carry it far away?
Dust bins are placed every few meters. So, Locals and tourists, please go to the nearest bin and drop the trash and not in the water or beach.
Saw very few shells this morning. Found a few flat disc like circular shells. There was this mussel digging into the sand ...
What a luxury to keep the feet in the sea water!
There are lot of these tiny birds, almost gliding over the water, looking for small fish, crabs etc. 
It was an enjoyable walk and I am ready for a healthy breakfast!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Mhadei river crossing near Sonal village, Valpoi, Goa

Another trek but to a place visited in 2014. That was Just after the rains; the region was a lot more green. Now most of the grass and vegetation turned brown. Brown is also beautiful!
We started in 2 buses. Traveled for one and half hours. I love the journey. Houses spaced out and keep getting farther from each other and the terrain undulating; and slowly getting into the hills!

Stopped on the way, past Valpoi, on the side of the road for some well deserved breakfast of fresh Pav bread and Alsane curry in spicy coconut gravy and steaming tea! heavenly!
There was one change this time: they asked us to bring our own plates and spoons, so that there won't be any garbage, which we all welcomed wholeheartedly!

We start the trek through the entrance to Mhadei Wildlife sanctuary. I click a couple of pictures for posterity!
We were promised a leisurely trek. and an easy one.Soon there was km long trekkers, each setting their own pace. There were a few kids and teenagers too and not so young anymore; those like us.

This post is not strictly a chronological listing of what happened next, but more of what caught my attention along the way, in that sense this is slightly different from earlier posts on treks.
There were a few plantations of beetlenut and coconut trees. i love the form of the beetle nut tree. very straight and thin and beautiful formation of palm leaves at the top. the bunches of fruit in green and yellow / orange colours, very beautiful.
Here, we walked past a freshly built stone wall. The wall is broad at the base and narrowing towards the top and plastered with red clay or mud. I wonder how the mud will hold up in the monsoon! the stones are from stream beds, smooth and rounded.

I donot know the name of the this tree, but the bunches of flowers hanging from the branches had lovely autumn colours.
The whole forest was filled with the fragrance of Cashew nut flowers. Looked up at the branches and flowers of cashewnut tree against the clear sky made a beautiful picture!

There was a stretch of the trek which is part of a highway between Karnataka and Goa about 8 centuries back. It is broad with proper sub-floor etc. the top layer, of course is washed off! Here we are in a tight group. we carried our drinking water with us. It is essential to keep drinking water even though you may not feel thirsty. or the muscles will cramp up. It happened once.
At once place where there was a shallow stream, lovely reflection of trees in it.

We went past Kumthal village. It is a small village of a few houses. I was fascinated by the entrance gate.
Crossed a dry stream bed. the spot where we stopped for formal introductions was a meeting four streams. During monsoon it should be a great spot to see. We all introduce ourselves and the first timers to Eco Treks are welcomed. We continue with the trek ...
Finally we reach Mhadei river. It is simply beautiful. Serene and peaceful.Water not more than 5' deep. Crossing was a bit tricky, since the rocks beneath were round and slippery. What is a trek if not a little adventurous! 

Those of us who were inclined to, got into the water and frolicked for some time. Is not it a luxury to be wading / swimming in a river, safely, in great weather? Continued the trek after changing. By now we were looking forward to sumptuous meal.

Lunch was arranged in a farm house in Sonal village of Valpoi Taluka. They cooked the vegetables grown in their farm and we sat on the ground prepared with cow dung, around the Tulasi plant in the front yard. Eating on banana leaves adds so much flavour to the food cooked on fire wood.
Took half an hour rest and started back to the city. Did one more trek!

 If anyone wants to experience the river, go to Sonal village, and from there it is less than a km. to Mhadei river. It is a must go to place.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Cushion Covers

Here are some cushion covers I made for a friend out of assorted left over materials of assorted sizes and shapes. They were - Raw Silk in Beige, Green Tie and Die and red black and white Ikkat hand loom material. Made them in two sizes of 16"x16" and 12"x12". On the back there is an overlap and I fixed 2 press buttons.
Taking fresh material from the bail and making whatever items we want to make is any day easier. Making items out of assorted pieces is challenging, but the results can be very charming! 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Vegetable Pickle - Punjabi style

I had not been to Langar at a Gurudwara until last year. My friends Teji and Jagmohan very kindly invited me to go with them when they visited on a Sunday. That is when I had food there for the first time and loved their vegetable pickle. Teji offered to show me the method; but one thing or the other kept getting in the way. When both were free and ready, the vegetables were not in season. Finally we got the ingredients ready and agreed on a time and made it. She showed me the procedure step by step. It taste delicious! I was so excited I learnt something new, I told all my friends!
Thanks Teji.


Cauliflower - 1/2, cut into medium sized florets
Turnips (Shalgam) - 2 nos. cut 2"x1/4" length wise pieces
Red Carrots (Gajar) - 2 nos. cut 2"x1/4" length wise pieces
Onion - 2 nos, cut length wise thin slices
Ginger garlic paste - 2 tsp.
Mustard oil - 100 ml.
White synthetic vinegar - 400 ml.
Jaggery (good) - 400 gms.
Mustard seeds - 2 tbs. powder it
Chilli powder - 1.5 tsp.
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp.
Garam masala powder - 2 tsp.
Salt - to taste

Heat water in a pot. Cook the vegetables in boiling water for a few minutes.

Drain out the water. Make sure the vegetables are not fully cooked. They should be crunchy.

On a stove, put a wide pan and pour mustard oil and heat it. Wait until the fumes are coming from oil before putting the ginger garlic paste. Fry it. Add chopped onion pieces and fry until golden colour. Keep stirring so that they do not burn. 

Put the steamed vegetables into the fried onion. Fry them on high flame. Keep stirring. 

After 7 to 10 min. add turmeric powder, and chilli powder. Add salt and mix thoroughly. Now add garam masala powder. Mix and Switch the stove off.

While the vegetables are frying, on another stove, heat vinegar in a pot. When hot, drop jaggery into it. Wait until jaggery is melted and lightly cooked. Take it off the stove.

Add this vinegar and jaggery mixture to the cooked vegetables. Mix mustard powder into it. 

Vegetable pickle in Punjabi style is ready to eat.
It tastes excellent with both roti and rice.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Lokotsav, Goa - 2016

I get very excited this time of the year! It is time for Lokotsav, an arts and handicrafts fair. Lots of beautiful stuff to see and indulge in. Held annually in the grounds adjacent to Kala Academy, Panjim, it is held for 10 days, from 8th. January to 17th. January. Though December and January are crowded with events, I manage to take out time for Lokotsav.   

 The main entrance to Lokotsav could have been better designed and executed. But it is passable.
It gets very crowded in the
evenings, so I went during the afternoon. Stalls lining on either side of the walkways which are covered on top, to keep out the leaves and trash.
There were stalls selling Kolhapuri chappals in latest styles to keep up with the trends. One gets tempted to buy a few pairs seeing the mirrors, bead work and zari on them.
My favourite are those exhibiting and selling arts and crafts. Here, this lady is exhibiting wall hangings etc. in Madhubani style.
This artizan is making bangles in lac. He is showcasing how much skill and patience it takes to make a pair of bangles. This stall (Lac bangle preparation) is a regular at Lokotsav. I am fascinated by his craft every time I see it.
Metal craft decorative items and wall murals; the trees in the background are something new this year.
To say Goans are food lovers is an understatement! You cannot keep them away from food stalls for anything. There were more customers here than anywhere else in the whole place. The Rus gollas, Jalebis and Dal Bhati churma are some of my favs.
Lokotsav is not just about arts and crafts. it is also about wholistic cultural encouragement. Folk dance and music from different States are performed every evening. A beautiful set is erected as a backdrop to the stage. One can easily spend a culturally scintillating evening here.
Overall the fair is well organised with wide passages where possible. The merchandise is beautiful, prices are reasonable.
People from all over Goa come here. Some do their yearly shopping, eat, listen, and generally have a good time.
If you are in Goa, Lokotsav is a must experience.

Salvadordo Mundo Church - Goa

  It was Easter and we have a ritual of going to a natural spring before sunrise and drinking the holy water from it. Since both Jo and ...