WW – The wonder called sky!

As you are already aware now, I love these sky watching phases during my day. It might be a brief moment in the morning, when I stare through my balcony to see if the sun has risen before me. Or it could be a moment during the day when I casually look up to see if there are black clouds looming around. It could be even be a moment like below, when I caught the glowing western colors on the move, while going for a meeting. I somehow love this click of the sunset, as the colors blend so beautifully to create such lovely shades and the sun adds its lovely evening glow. Sigh.

The following one is a fun picture. The constant looking up at the sky for patterns may yield such results, on a few occasions. While I saw a horse, dog and a bear – one behind the other, there were other friends of mine who lent their imaginary horses to this picture. And I love such cloud pattern based childlike conversations, where we keep looking for different animals or even people.

My dear friends who spent time cloud-watching with me virtually, gave me these responses and I enjoyed and laughed through the whole time.

  • looks more like a seahorse, an alligator and a rhinoceros to me 😂 and they’re dancing. Conga line 😊
  • they could be jet skiing too. 😂looks like they’re standing on one, the seahorse on the handlebar
  • Could be three on a magic carpet. 🤔 alakazam.
  • Spot the opera singer hitting a high note.
  •  ……….on a magic carpet!
  • Crocodile hugging its hatchling and a baby elephant is looking at both of them.
  • I can see a bird too.

Have a great day and look out for cloud patterns 😀

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When the sky made its statement…

There is a routine to my days and generally it begins from the moment I open my eyes and look at the eastern sky from my caged balcony. I try to squeeze out my phone through the gaps and click the wondrous sky to my satisfaction. With the birds chirping, crows cawing, a gentle morning breeze caresses me. I soak in the wonder called sunrise and let the energy flow into me. My day begins and it’ll be an awesome one for sure, says my heart.

This morning was no different. But I stood in the balcony for a long time, gaping at the wonder high above. Here are the pictures, when the sky makes its statement and makes the people to look above and go wow at the nature that is bigger than anything else.

Have a wonderful day!

Malligaipoo Idly

This phrase has been with me for as long as I can remember – malligaipoo mathiri idly irukanum (Idly should be like jasmine flower)!

My amma used to make the softest idlies which I can remember. Those days, she never used a cooker for steaming the idlies. The big iron kadai (irumbu ilupachatti) was half filled with water and brought to a boil. The big circular idly mold (idly thattu) which has molds for 7 idlies was covered in a white wet cloth cut in the shape of a circle.  Idly batter was poured on the cloth exactly on top of the mold, which held the batter intact. This idly thattu fitted exactly on the iron kadai. A tomb shaped lid was used to cover the idly thattu. When the idlies were done steaming, the whole house could smell it. That was the power of cooking, which can evoke the senses even before we started to eat. The idly thattu was removed from heat. Then water was sprinkled on the idlies, which helped them to cool fast so that they can fall off easily from the cloth. A big plate was used to collect the idlies from the idly thattu. Using the cloth for steaming helped in maintaining the moisture content so that idlies remained soft for a long time.

These idlies were soft…amazingly. We can bite into it without any great effort. And yet they held on to the shape and they don’t break at the touch of human fingers.  Its no wonder that the softness quotient was compared to that of a malligaipoo.

Now, the major ingredient for that amazing softness is the urid dal (ulutham paruppu). The correct proportion of this dal is required for that right amount of softness. Less the urid dal, harder the idlies. Similarly, when the urid dal is more, then idlies are not fluffy – they come out as flat discs. After choosing the right proportion of urid dal, it is important to soak it for the right amount of time. Long hours of soaking will make the urid dal accumulate froth and starts smelling too and needs excessive cleaning. Ideally one hour is enough for the urid dal to soak to the right consistency. And while grinding the urid dal, the right amount of water should be used so that the batter is fluffy and soft. Grinding for a long time will make the batter loose its fluffiness.

Rice can be soaked for a long time, no restrictions there. But the rice should be ground enough that its neither too soft to touch nor too coarse. A light coarseness is good for idlies and for crispy dosas too. A very fine rice batter is good for dosas but not for idlies. A balance needs to be achieved here.

After getting all these proportions and grinding consistency to the right level, the right amount of salt should be added for proper fermentation. Depending on the temperature of the place we live in, the batter should be left out for fermentation. Ideally 4 to 5 hours is enough for a warm place like Chennai. There is another important factor – using our hand to mix salt will induce our body heat to the batter. And accordingly the fermentation will happen faster or slower. We need to watch the batter for fermentation levels and accordingly refrigerate it, so that the batter doesn’t turn sour.

When I write the whole thing down, it sure sounds like a lot of instructions and rules to follow. I’ve grown with all these small tit bits ingrained into the soul by practice and a lot by observing amma and paati. My paati used to grind idly batter for others in the colony and me and my sister were assigned the work of grinding all those batches. Years of grinding it, day after day, to the same consistency makes it a part of the soul.

This batter is sure to give idlies as soft as the malligaipoo and will melt in the mouth too. The softness is so crucial as it can absorb the idly milagai podi spiciness or the tangy taste of the sambar so well.

Today’s idlies came out amazingly soft to touch, melt in the mouth kind and the chef in me is very happy at the outcome!

If you see keenly, you can actually see the air pores in the idly, which conforms that they are light and soft.

Also, I try my level best to make the batter at home. I’ve tried commercially sold batter once or twice and I hated myself for buying it – they were tasteless and idlies came out very hard to bite. Somethings are better when done at home, especially the idly batter.

Skywatch Friday – 1

After a week of good work, I feel these sights are little rewards from above to make me happy 🙂

The love for clouds is nearing crazy levels and my eyes feast on the colors and patterns in the sky, whenever I am out. After I installed Instagram, I started clicking those wonderful pictures and started sharing them too. This is my first entry to Skywatch Friday, in an effort to meet people of similar enthusiasm for the beautiful skies!