Posts Tagged ‘food’

Sri Lalit “Achar”ya, Cheetal Resort, Madhai, Madhya Pradesh, 010219

March 26, 2019

When I went for the Bird Survey at the Satpura Tiger Reserve, in Madhya Pradesh,I stayed at the

Cheetal Resort at Madhai

It was a most impressive home stay, but apart from everything else, I spotted this sign:

IMG_4181

Pickle and food research room! That intrigued me very much. Little did I know that I was going to get a course on Pickle Making 101 from Sri Lalit Khattar, who owns the resort!

IMG_4235

At lunch, Lalit ji noticed me taking a lot of interest in, and relishing, the ginger, small-mango (“midi mAvinkAi” in Kannada or “mAvadu” in Tamizh) and date pickles

IMG_4236

that Karthik Hegde gave me to try, and walked up, asking if I would like to know more, and see the Pickle Research room. I was delighted to agree!

A very instructive and interesting time followed as my friends Harish, Sharmila and I went with him. Here he is, with some of his pickle jars.

IMG_4241

Lalitji says that pickles can be made from almost any vegetable or fruit.Properly made, he adds, the pickle has as long a life as the person who’s making it, and possibly longer!

IMG_4253

Harish and Sharmila talk to Lalit ji

Some pickles, he says, need to be made with oil, and some without. Very few pickles need the constituent vegetable to be boiled or otherwise cooked beforehand. However, he cautions, the process must be very carefully followed.

Most Indian pickles (called “achAr” in Hindi..in Tamizh, it’s “oorugAi”, meaning, “soaked vegetables” and in Kannada the name is “uppinkAi” or “salted vegetables”) have condiments (a combination of various spices) added to them,stuffed or marinaded , to soak into the vegetable, fruit or flower, and add the unique taste. His research, he remarks, is to try various combinations of spices, and also vary the process of preparing the pickle, and to see what tastes the best, and lasts the longest.

IMG_4246

Lalitji shows some of the “masAlA” (condiments) made to be added to the pickles.

His oldest pickle, that he showed us, was made with lemon…35 years ago! It still smelt heavenly!

IMG_4245

These are pickles made with “kundru” (Coccinia grandis, the ivy gourd, or “tindOrA”) They were crunchy.

He had some very unusual pickles to show us, too. Here are pickles made from Mahua (Madhuca longifolia) flowers. I knew that they were used to make a potent liquor, but the pickles were something new.

IMG_4244

He showed us a pickle made from Guava seeds, and mentioned how he’s made pickles with the seeds of the Tulsi (Basil) plant. “The cost of the seeds is about Rs.500 per kilo,” he said. “Oh, who buys it then?” I asked. “I don’t sell it!” was the reply. I make it for my own satisfaction and consumption.” Now that’s what I’d call a “consuming” passion for the pickle-making art!

Karthik Hegde, who manages the home stay, is an enthusiastic participant in the ongoing research. It was he who gave Lalit ji the recipe for the small-mango pickle…which was made perfectly, tasting absolutely authentic, from the small mangoes that grew on the trees in the homestay (which is also a farm in itself.) Here, Karthik and Lalit ji discuss the product and the process.

IMG_4233

Storing the pickles properly is vital to the long shelf-life of the pickle, Lalit ji is quick to emphasize. But if stored properly, he adds, metal, glass, or plastic containers, anything can be used for storage. His room bore witness to his words.

Many tart substances, such as lemon or lime juice, or tamarind, can be used as a base for pickles. These, too, should be properly processed to ensure a good shelf-life. Tamarind itself can be a pickle! So can chillies, apart from being a component of the condiment, in the form of chilli powder, or added as green chillies to give heat to the pickle. Apparently, chillies, and their varieties, are a huge subject by themselves, in this art.

Some pickles need to be kept in the sun for a few days or weeks; some need to be stirred at regular intervals. Definitely, there needs to be an investment of patience, time, and dedicated effort in making these delectable additions to our Indian meals.

A pickle can be eaten with anything; whether it’s rOtis, nAn, rice or pulAo, just with curds (yoghurt)..or sometimes, as I did lip-smackingly with the date pickles.. all by itself!

I did want to discuss some of the short-life pickles I make (such as “menthiya mAngAi” or “puLi miLagAi”) but alas, the survey that we had come to do didn’t leave much time for discussion! So I mean to have a further chat the next time I go to Madhai..and meanwhile, let me confer the title of “AchAryA” (respected teacher, and a pun on the word “achAr”) on Sri Lalit Khattar!

Long may his research on this tasty part of Indian cuisine last. I have been savouring the wonderful date pickles that he told Karthik to gift me as I left (I saw it only when I returned home!) and think of the very interesting time I had with the “AchAryA”!

Advertisements

International Vulture Awareness Day (IVAD), Ramnagara, and Nelligudde kere, 010918

September 6, 2018

had nearly forgotten that the first Saturday of September is International Vulture Awareness Day; a reminder jogged my memory, and my friends and I shelved our Maidanahalli plans for a visit to Ramadevara betta (hillock), to see the only known roosting and nesting spot of the Long-billed Vultures in Karnataka. The Karnataka Vulture Conservation Trust, in collaboration with the Karnataka Forest Department, had organized a walk to see the vultures, and talks by experts, an event open to all.

We were a group that started from the south, north, and east of the city, and met up at the gates of the Vulture Sanctuary, by 6.15am.’

IMG_5086

UGS. Gopinath, Nikhil, Arpitha, Sriram, Sharmila, Keerthana, Subhadra,Harish, Vijay, Tara, Arnab, Anisha,Sahas, Nitin, Regin. Kneeling with Arjun : Praveen and Srini. Ramnagara, 010918

Many of my friends were visiting Ramnagara (Ramnagaram? I am not sure which is the right name) for the first time, so, having driven just past the entrance gates, we parked our cars,

IMG_5019

and clambered up on the rock face (slippery, alas, from the recent rains!)

IMG_5034=

and looked up at the vultures that could be seen (three of them at that time).

The single one:

IMG_5063

And two sitting together (they mated a little later)

IMG_5078

After looking our fill at the birds, which were preening, we also climbed up the hill to the gate of the temple, and went up a little towards the temple,

hoping to sight the beautiful Yellow-throated Bulbul which is another resident of the betta. We were lucky to sight just one, upon a rock!

IMG_2585

IMG_5054

We had not realized that this date coincided with a festival at the Rama temple upon the hillock; we were not sure if the increased number of visitors was just due to its being a weekend, until we saw the idols of the deities, Rama, Lakshmana, Seeta and Anjaneya, being taken in a palanquin (on a modern tractor!) in procession, up the hill. The vulture finds a place in the epic poem, Ramayana, the story of the ideal man, Rama. Jatayu, the vulture, finds Rama’s wife Seeta being abducted by Ravana, the king of Lanka, and fights valiantly to save her, until the ten-headed Ravana cuts off his wings. He falls, fatally wounded, to the ground. When Rama and Lakshmana come upon him, he recounts all that has happened to them, before giving up his life. Here upon the rocky boulders of Ramadevara betta, the old story somehow took on colorful life as I watched the trio of deities and their faithful attendant Hanuman, wending their way to the temple, bejewelled and bedecked with flowers.

IMG_5070

Closeup of the adorned idols

IMG_5072

We watched the posters for the Vulture Awareness Day being put up,

IMG_5045

and after meeting up with Mike and Chris, when they came to the viewing area, we were also able to glimpse the ungainly-on-the-ground and graceful-in-the-air birds with the help of the scope that Mike set up for everyone.

IMG_5075

Many of us also saw the Long-billed Pipit for the first time…so birds with long bills seemed to be the order of the day!

We had left the city by 4.30am and by this time, in spite of the snacks we shared, the call of the white-breasted iddli was quite loud in our ears! So off we went to Sahasa Kala Shiksana Kendra (Centre for training in martial arts) where the event is held every year. After the pouring rain of last year, it was very pleasant to have the sun shining, and patches of blue sky appearing amidst the grey monsoon clouds.

We lined in an orderly queue and partook of a piping hot and delicious breakfast,

IMG_5087

and with our mental and physical batteries recharged, settled down to the proceedings.

IMG_5095

One of the star attractions, of course, was a White-rumped Vulture attending…or at least, an actor wearing a very well-made costume of the bird! Many of the young men present had a fun time with the “bird”, which was the mascot for the event. I would like to know who created the marvellous costume!

IMG_5104

These young men took the “help the vultures” message very seriously!

IMG_5100

It was also heartening to see how many people had made it to the event. I must mention the Forestry College in Sirsi, which always sends its students, I have interacted with them several times, at several venues (also at Kaiga) and found many of them knowledgeable about conservation issues. Several of the people who have worked untiringly to have the area declared as a vulture sanctuary, including Dr Subramanya, also took their places on the stage, and shared what the vultures mean to the ecosystem, and the history of the decline of these birds, along with the efforts made to save them from extinction. Cadets, schoolchildren, nature lovers from near and far…we all listened to the inputs being given, and took our certificates of participation.

Some of us decided to go back and see if we could get shots of the vultures flying off from the cliff, and were successful. Some of us also stopped over at Bidadi to visit the Nelligudda lake.

IMG_5124

Apart from an edging of the now-to-be-expected trash, which included a dead fish,

IMG_5150

the lake was a serene setting,and under the shade of two gigantic banyan trees, a cool breeze blew.

IMG_5116

IMG_5155

Several waterfowl, including two Woolly-necked Storks,

IMG_5131

kept our binoculars and lenses busy; sighting two mongoose in the fields added to our delight. Both Brahminy and Black Kites dived repeatedly into the water, fishing for food. By this time, several butterflies had also emerged, and we watched as they flitted around us, too.

Grass Dart:

IMG_5128

IMG_5148

Some reptiles came out to bask on the rocks.

IMG_5145

Well satisfied with the morning, we drove rather sleepily back to the city, making plans about whether to go birding the next morning or to spend it getting back into the good books of our families!

I have put up my photos on my FB album
here

And for other photos on the Flickr album, click

here

Our grateful thanks to the organizers of the event, which we intend to support every year, come September!

Cheers, Deepa.

Let me end with the beauty of this mushroom!

IMG_5035

Food, and food for thought, 250418

April 26, 2018

Sometimes, the juxtaposition of two things strikes the eye, as it did when I saw this gentleman, along with a book that a young lady had left open on another table. The caption occurred to me at once.

IMG_6287

As he got up, the gentleman called the attention of yet another man to the glasses he’d left behind when moving to another table. Such casual helpfulness, somehow, made me feel very happy!

So much to see and observe even on a short visit to a Darshini (this one was Coffee Thindi in Jayangar 4th T Block)

4th Sunday outing, March ’18, and bird census: Hoskote kere, 250318

March 27, 2018

Email to bngbirds egroup:

IMG_3107

I had been toying with the idea of making Hoskote kere the venue for the 4th Sunday outing, when the email from Swaroop and his team arrived, announcing the bird count there. That made the decision easy, and several of us gathered at 6.30am at the Gangamma temple on the bund of the lake.
IMG_3120

We had a good mix of experts and newbies, children and adults, binoculars and bazookas 😀

IMG_3124

Swaroop and his team

IMG_3122

sent us in several directions, to see what we could see, and document what we saw. The paths were as as follows:

Dipu K, et al: north west edge
Rajneesh Suvarna, et al: Raghavendra Talkies
Vinay Bharadwaj, et al: east edge
Ashwin Viswanathan. et al: west edge:
Deepa Mohan, et al: Meeting point plus south-west edge

I was happy to take the children from Om Shri School along, as part of the initiative to involve schools.I found the children very interested; they patiently learnt how to use my binoculars, used the scope often, and asked a lot of questions too. I was able to show them almost all the birds that we sighted, and the bird scope was used well!

I started off with group, looking at the woodland birds in the plant clutter on both sides of the road. As the mist slowly lifted, we walked down the path with the lake waters along both sides. I have never before been able to walk past the "isthmus" that juts out into the water; in fact, a couple of months ago, the lake was so brimful of water that birders could not go down at all, and had to be content with birding from the bund along the Gangamma temple.

Robins, sunbirds, prinias and others were pointed out but then we got a few Baillon's Crakes

IMG_3157

in the water hyacinth at water level, and most of us got busy clicking these usually skulky and shy birds, which will soon begin their migration.

IMG_3169

IMG_3169

Garganeys

IMG_3237

But our "regulars"….the Spot-billed Pelicans, Little Grebes, Coots, and Herons (like this Grey Heron)

IMG_3119

kept us all occupied as we watched them. There were Black and Brahminy Kites in the air, joined by a lone Marsh Harrier, another winter visitor which was looking for prey. Rosy Pastors

IMG_3212

flew over the water and settled in the dry trees. We saw Barn Swallows,

IMG_3256

as well as the Red-rumped, Wire-tailed, and Streak-throated variety.

It was nice to see both kinds of Jacanas, Pheasant-tailed

IMG_3223

IMG_3221

and Bronze-winged,

IMG_3198

in the lake; similarly, Yellow, Grey and White-browed Wagtails flew around. One "dip" was the Pied Kingfisher, but we spotted the Small Blue and the White-throated Kingfishers.

Glossy Ibis

IMG_3209

Blyth's Reed Warbler

IMG_3204

Schoolchildren, along with the teacher, using the scope and binoculars

IMG_3235

Our group

IMG_3258

The children of Om Shri School

IMG_3263

Sandpipers, too, made their appearance, flying around with their typical calls. We noted Egrets, both Intermediate and Small. Spot-billed Ducks and Garganeys flew over the water and settled down, and were quite easy to show to the children. In fact, I was wondering if the children, or the schoolmaster who accompanied them, could take so many names thrown at them at the same time! I know I would have found it difficult to remember. But their interest did not flag, and after a certain point, it was I who had to call them back to return. It is very satisfying to be able to show people a whole lot of birds on their first outing!

Ants

IMG_3246

Water cabbage, an acquatic plant:

IMG_3185

Line-up of many of my group:

IMG_3267

Valli and Janhvi helped me with the app and physical paper entries, and we had to catch up with the bird names every now and then, as each of us spotted different birds! It was nice to have a problem of plenty.

Fish caught at the lake is sold on the bund every morning.

IMG_3268

Children on the lake reaches

IMG_3183

An array of snacks, including Manoj's mom-made alu parathas, kept us going.

IMG_3240

Return we did, to a hearty breakfast provided by the Karnataka Forest Department (KFD).

IMG_3269

Some of the teams whose transects were further afield did not return for a while, but all of us were very satisfied birders that morning! It sometimes happens that some paths have less birds ( on a census/bird count, it's our duty just to record what see, whether the numbers are lower or higher) but it's a great feeling when everyone returns with a satisfactory count of species. One group sighted the Eurasian Wryneck, which is a new bird-sighting for this lake.

Thanks to Valli, I met Arun and his friend, from the Andamans, and they gave us insights into the birding scene where they come from.

Our grateful thanks to Swaroop and team who provided us a great opportunity to see the variety of birds that Hoskote kere has to offer. Swaroop, Praveen and Nagabhushana say that 126 species were sighted during the morning, by over 120 volunteers! A big thank you for providing this opportunity for the 4th Sunday outing.

IMG_3276

Fishing boats

IMG_3118

For the next few months, we will concentrate more on the resident birds in and around our city, and bid goodbye to our winter visitors.

The eBird checklist for my group is

here

Swaroop will provide the links to the other checklists.

I have put up my photographs (not by a DSLR camera, and not only birds…there is even a photo of some beautiful ants!) on my FB album,

here

Cheers, Deepa.

How some balloons are useful!

December 2, 2017

Nature Feature on CitMat, Dec ’17

I often come across the

Balloon Vine

(also called “Love in a puff”)

IMG_6517

on my walks through the fields and forests around my city. It’s a very common vine, indeed….and in fact, in New Zealand, it is identified as a prohibited pest plant! However, in Kerala, the flower of this vine  is one of the ten “sacred flowers”

Seed pod and flowers:

DSCN8044

I found that the scientific name for the genus of this vine is “Cardiospermum”. The name intrigued me, until a friend and avid amateur botanist, Ajit Ampalakkad, showed me the seeds inside the “balloons”. Each seed was attached to the seed pod, and when removed, that area showed a beautiful heart-shaped pattern.

DSC04293

Hence…”cardio”, meaning heart, and “spermum” meaning seed. Voila! A tough-sounding scientific name was explained.

But there were more interesting things about this vine to be discovered; I realized that it has anti-diarrhoeal and homoeopathic properties.

Ripe seed pod:

DSC07747-001

Here

is a blog by Ramya Venkateshwaran in April 2015,  describing the various ways the leaves of this vine can be prepared.

I also came across this video, part of a food/travel series called “Suttralam Suvaikkalam”, hosted by

Rakesh Raghunathan

in which the green leaves are ground and added to rice batter to make tasty dosai (not dosas, which is a pan-Indian term…dosai is the Tamil word!)

So…do look around you if you are walking down country or wooded paths…if you collect the leaves of this vine (called “Mundakathan keerai” in Tamil), you will be doing yourself a good turn healthwise, if you include this in your diet!

Bhoochakra gadde or Kandamool, being sold in Bangalore, 070617

June 8, 2017

I found an interesting root being sold on vendor’s cart.

IMG_4586

The scientific name, Manjula Desai tells me, is

Maerua oblongifolia

This belongs to the Capparaceae (Caper) family.

It’s called “bhoo chakra gadde” in Kannada, (it would be better translated as “bhoo shakkar gadde”…earth-sugar tuber”. I am not able to find the name in Tamil.

Here’s a video of a slice being smeared with lemon, dipped in sugar, and served:

Here’s another video, where the skillfully-carved slice is served without lemon or sugar:

Someone says it is from Haridwar.

here

is a scientific study of the DnA of this root.

By Subhashish Panigrahi – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56546985

Could someone help with more information?

How food is cooked on a massive scale

March 28, 2017

Having seen for myself the deteriorating quality of food on trains on the Indian Railways, I watched this interesting documentary on IRCTC:

It’s rather long, watch only if you have the inclination and the time!

I couldn’t believe all the good food being prepared…why, I thought, do I never see phulkas or salads, even on the Rajdhani? And halfway through the film, the answer appeared. In response to complaints about the quality of food, the catering was take away from IRCTC itself (who then started concentrating on the corporate sector) and given to independent contractors who, I feel, are definitely running the catering service into the ground now. The video is still worth watching (as are several on how temple kitchens function) for the scale of food preparation.

Here’s one that’s also fascinating:

(Most temples in Karnataka provide food to the devotees who visit.)

July 9, 2014

What better way to observe American Independence Day than by meeting two Americans who are now independent of their country? It has been a long time in the planning, but I finally met up with and . And of course, what better setting for the meet than the beautiful, 180-year-old home of , in Staffanstorp, in southern Sweden? It was an added bonus that , living and working in Linkoping, could also be there. Caro’s SO, Ray, Donna’s husband (and SO) Manolo, and Nina’s SO, Fran, were there, to add to the festivity of the occasion, too!

I made dinner for everyone; it was

bisi belE bAth

boondi raita

and “venkAya vengAyam” (venkAya is brinjal or aubergine in Telugu, and vengayam is onion in Tamizh)…an easy recipe that my mother used to make, and which is one of my favourites.

Nina had provided a chicken dish for those who might not like the spices.

For dessert, I’d ordered “gunjA lAdu” from a lady in Bangalore, and taken them along.

I set both Nina and PC to work for a bit of help early on in the cooking!

IMG_2394

I’m sorry, I was rather tense about whether everyone would like the food or starve politely; so I didn’t take a single pic of the food, and I don’t think anyone else did, either! We gathered in the porch of Nina’s home, that looks on to her lush green backyard:

IMG_2398

I certainly stopped worrying when I knew that Nina was providing an alternate dish! In the event, everyone seemed to enjoy the food, though of course Nina and Caro complained that I’d toned down the spices! Even Fran, who emphatically does not like Indian spices, said she liked the raita.

Introductions and hugs always go well when there are bottles of wine around! Manolo waxed lyrical over the wine that he’d bought (apparently one should read the labels of wine bottles like fine literature!). I’m not a wine or a liquor person, so I cannot describe all of it…I do know that there was some fine single malt whisky as well. But here are two of the bottles, for your information…don’t they look beautiful?

IMG_2406

Here we are, from L to R, Caro, Donna, Ray, Prashanth, Manolo, Fran, and Nina, all smiling for me!

IMG_2399

Here’s Manolo, wearing the Garhwali tOpi that I got him:

IMG_2400

Fran, meanwhile, was putting PC at his ease…and they got along like the proverbial ignited dwelling, and he actually extended his stay at her earnest request!

Here we are, toasting friendship and LJ…as you can see, dinner is not yet served.

IMG_2402

Here are India and Spain in Sweden, making friends:

IMG_2411

PC is trying to see if he can strangle both Manolo and Fran at the same time!

IMG_2412

Here’s part of the 180-year-old house (only the cats, Houdini and Vaz, enter this room!)

IMG_2436

We all met up the next day, too, at the stuga (cottage) which the other four had rented, and then Nina, PC and I went to visit some ancient heritage…the Torna church, the megalithic stone “ship” on the shores of the Baltic Sea at Kaseberg, and the Glimmingehus castle…but that is the next post!

Here’s to the great friends that LJ has brought into my life!

A walk in Linkoping, 170614

June 24, 2014

We started with the Linkoping Station.

IMG_1008

Where the trains went to and fro busily:

IMG_1006

where the amount of lumber being transported on one train was awe-inspiring:

IMG_1004

PC ( Prashanth Chengi) was getting ready to click, too!

IMG_1010

This sculpture looked as if Casper the Friendly Ghost and his friends were having a picnic there:

IMG_1012

Here;s PC with the station in the background:

IMG_1014

I clicked this

EURASIAN TREE SPARROW:

IMG_1018

and this

EURASIAN BLACKBIRD:

IMG_1022

But that was when the (European, not Eurasian!) buildings caught my eye:

IMG_1028

IMG_1034

IMG_1039

IMG_1042

IMG_1045

this is not a black-and-white photo!

IMG_1046

IMG_1056

IMG_1060

IMG_1063

IMG_1028

IMG_1066

The same place, later in the dusk:

IMG_1071

Some smaller touches were lovely, too:

IMG_1062

IMG_1031

What does this design mean?

IMG_1050

I don’t know the story behind this statue:

IMG_1047

I wish telephone manhole covers were always this interesting!

IMG_1055

Sometimes, the best fashion is no fashion at all:

IMG_1064

Magnet Madrass? 😀

IMG_1065

this funeral parlor was right next to the Income Tax office!

IMG_1032

I agree, bingo can be rotten, especially when you have ONE number left and everyone gets all the prizes before you:

IMG_1051

Cobblestones are quaint, but they ruined the wheels on one of my suitcases!

IMG_1044

Dusk falls only by about 10.30 pm:

IMG_1058

Prashanth treated me to dinner at “Yogi”:

IMG_1067

He had prawn Biryani, but the thought of the bill was apparently enough to prevent him from smiling:

IMG_1068

But he smiled when I reminded him that we were celebrating his successful completion of both Halv-vattern (150 km) and the full Vatternrundan (300 km) on successive weekends!

IMG_1069

We walked past this lovely seat on our way home:

IMG_1076