WW – Clouds on a drawing sheet

When the sky is the drawing sheet
Upon which the patterns are drawn…
Crayons were used for this
To create a different effect…
The crayons so white
On a blue sheet
Creates those white cloud patterns
By spreading the wax
With the thumb…
Isn’t itย how this picture was created!?!

Many thanks to the dear person who sends me pictures of the cloud and sky, all the way from Scotland โค

Skywatch Friday – 3

Watching the sky, looking for shapes in the clouds started as a mere pastime, which has turned into an obsession now a days.

Have you seen those cricket batsmen looking up to the sky as they enter the ground to bat ? They pray for a good innings score for them or for their team.

Whenever I sit in the car heading out to work, I also look up to the sky, to my front, side, back, actually all possibilities. But my only reason for looking is to catch a glimpse of a beautiful pattern or even a clear blue sky. I love watching it.

Today, has been gloomy so far. The sky is a dull grey. I don’t know if it will rain or not. But here I am trying to post some amazing patterns from my archives, which can make me feel happy and energised in an instant.

A picturesque field, which makes me wonder if its a painting!

When man made structures and God-made coconut trees form a perfect shadow to the beautiful sunset!

Somehow this leafless tree looks so damn good against this backdrop…l love it!


Linking this with Skywatch Friday ๐Ÿ™‚

The only constant in my life…

…has been and always will be “Idly maavu in the refrigerator”…ha ha…did you for a minute think that I am going to talk about the man in my life ?? ๐Ÿ˜‰ ย He is there…always there. But Idly maavu (batter) is for both of us, you see.

With Sundays converted as work days for me, the handy man is the Idly maavu. I can make idlies for breakfast which is quick. And when I get home tired from work, I just have to close my eyes and make dosa and eat and sleep. You see, its a pleasure to not to think about “what to cook” ๐Ÿ˜€

I just keep making different vegetables for lunch. But this constant Idly maavu is what makes my life easier.

I might get into the mood to make upma, pongal or poori for breakfast, provided the constant is stocked in the fridge always. And when the maavu goes below the mark of “one more day to go”, I get jittery. All I can think that its time is to soak rice and dal for making theย idly maavu.

I wonder what’s this funny relationship between me and this maavu or perhaps idly or dosa? These thoughts keep coming to me now and then, edging me to write about it.

Anyway, my constant is FULL now. One more week of utter bliss awaits me. Also with a batch of adai maavu, I feel well stocked…ha ha…the foodie me never stops thinking of food ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 kadaiย (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. ย 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. ย 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.

When musings touch the soul…

“Mind my side burns…do not touch them”

“Up to down action on my neck”

“Down to up for upper lip”

These are instructions issued by the father to his son, while the son is trying to help his dad by shaving for him.

While watching this video, I sniffed a little, smiled a little and then there was a tug at my heart! And that probably was my Appa…

When I moved base to Chennai, I was not very happy about it. But I strongly felt that there was a reason behind it. And just after a year of my move to Chennai, my Appa passed away. Wasn’t that the tug that brought me to Chennai, in the first place?

He is here, with me. I could feel him many times, when I did something wonderful and I knew he did do his proud smile for me.

This video is no less…the patient way in which the son is taking care of his dad, does something inside. Its heartening to see the warmth. Its a happy feeling to see such bonding happening.

Go on…see this video and give a hug to your father!

 

 

Here and there in my foodie world!

I think cooking skills are there in my genes!

When I have a bad headache and over time it spreads to the neck and becomes a dull throbbing pain and I can’t even utter normal responses to questions directed at me and all I wanted to do was scream at everyone at sight, the husband takes the role of the silent man and acts as if the dumb idiot box is actually intelligent.

And then I take refuge in the kitchen with the beginnings of a coffee…aaahhh….that helps a little. He tries to help by suggesting that I take a pain killer tablet but I refuse. I hate those tablets. For me, the biggest healer is sleep and I’ll go to it at the right time.

Then, with the continuing pain, I enter the kitchen and decide to make vengaya thogaiyal and rasam with lots of pepper and garlic! The frying onion smell can heal, you know ๐Ÿ˜› Also, the fried urid dal tastes awesome when popped into the mouth while they are golden crisp. The whiff of garlic while the rasam is boiling makes me bend over the rasam pot and inhale the flavours of pepper, jeera, garlic thereby helping my headache to heal by itself.

After eating the hearty meal and a good sleep in the night, makes me all refreshed for the next day. The headache is gone.

Food is a healer and along with sleep, the benefits are double. And then there are days when there is a satisfying feeling of facing an awesome day, just because the cooking turned out great that morning!

A few pics from my lunch box to tempt you ๐Ÿ˜›

Podi Idly for breakfast ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Capsicum and tomato sambar, mix veg fry, mangai vella pachadi from the lunch box ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Sunday rumination – Life’s always throwing lemons…

Its up to me to decide if those lemons are meant for making a sweet lemonade or to make a spicy hot pickle or just crush it out to clean the whites of stains ๐Ÿ˜€

Actually every lemon that gets thrown at me is an opportunity for me…

…to distinguish the good from the bad, in my own way

…to move away from closed doors and start looking at small windows that are trying to open for me

…to understand that some incidents happened in my life to change my course of journey and to make me think differently about the same situation

…to turn the sour lemons to sweet melons, just by looking only at things which give me happiness

…to ignore the things that cause hurt and pain to the heart – oh yeah, this could be a daunting task, but well worth the effort, as I love myself more than anyone, now a days

As I woke up this morning, “When life throws lemons, make lemonade” came to my mind…its one of those bizzare thought process of my sleepy mind. Just out of the blue, I started thinking more about that line. As I loaded the clothes into the washing machine, I thought that it need not be lemonade always and it could also be made into a pickle – the citrus-y spicy can make the tongue wanting more of it!

And when I was making coffee, came the philosophical thoughts – some days are like that – I just learn to take it as it gives me myriad of thoughts and critical analysis of myself. The only difference to the whole scene today is I don’t carry on the guilt of not performing to my standards. After all the thoughts are processed, I realize that I am more important to myself and my happiness is more important to myself and it is one of the treasured things which I should not forego at any cost.

So, keeping myself happy, whether with lemonade or lemon pickle, I go about my day, writing my thoughts in my space – a recording to be read another day to calm the mind and soothe the heart.