My entry for this Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflecting.
The pictures are from the Kundala Dam Lake area in Munnar, Kerala, India. I found it to be a very beautiful spot that instantly charmed this city dweller who got drawn to this serene, peaceful place and felt the perfect nature’s paradise. I wished we could stay longer and explore the area, do the boating, but we could not. The boating was closed and we could not enjoy the water more. The extremely tall Nilgiri (Eucalyptus) trees all around, and the thick forest with different variety of trees some with colored leaves (we had visited Kerala in March month) reflecting in the water below, it was a very silent and soothing time for me, perfect escape from bustling madness and traffic chaos of the place where I live.
The Houseboat stay and ride through the backwaters in Alleppey in Kerala too was thoroughly enjoyed, calming and soothing with fantastic view all around, a must include.
I would highly recommend a tour of Kerala, rightfully called as Gods own Country, if you have not yet visited it.
This picture is from my most recent India visit, returned home just last week. This was clicked when visiting my dad’s village near the banks of the river Wainganga, around noon with the summer temperature being above 43+ deg C. The huge tree provided the must needed shade when we got down from the AC cars and took shelter under the tree. Most were unawares of the danger lurking around with the creepy crawling creatures moving nearby, my eyes caught this little fellow changing color and I quickly captured the picture.
(Can you all spot the Chameleon in the picture ?!) 🙂
For this weekly photo challenge I have decided to share some pictures from God’s Own Country 🙂 , yes our Kerala tour, capturing nature’s bounty of some of the dense fruits and flowers that were seen around the cities in Kerala, India.
I am extremely happy to see this notification from yesterday that informs me that my blog now has 200 + followers.
I am ever so grateful to you my fellow bloggers and readers and take this opportunity to Thank each and every follower of my blog, all the readers who stop by and read my posts, to all who give me the Thumbs up by clicking the Like button, and to every one of you who cares to leave a valued comment after the posts. Thank you my fellow bloggers, love and appreciate this gesture.
These small happy moments add on and make this journey a really wonderful experience. Appreciate your presence and interaction on this platform.
ashu’s new recipe– PRAWNS POTLI- my tribute for my elder brother.
The flow of life is ever changing, making us drift along with it, sweeping us through its different waves and giving us the moments, emotions, and experiences that one may not always be ready to accept or deal with. But one does learn to sail through if we allow ourselves to accept and adapt. It is in our hands how we handle each and every moment that we have to face on a day-to-day basis.
This post is made in memory of and as my fond remembrance of my eldest sibling whom we lost this month. The loss of our loved ones leaves a huge vacuum and fills us with grief, I have been dealing with my share of this emotion. But it would be wrong to let grief overtake the memories and good times that were shared, one should be celebrating the sibling bond and the strength it imparts. As I look back and lovingly cherish the journey I shared as his younger sibling, remembering all the positives that I got to learn from him, I decided to cook a new recipe in his honor as my tribute and respect towards him.
He was a big time foodie, and as I reflect back to my childhood days, he was the influence I think that might have pushed me to this hobby of cooking and learning new recipes. He was the connoisseur of food of our family, loved different cuisines, and introduced us siblings to restaurant foods and knew the best food joints/places in the home town while we were growing up and later too, and also at the same time was the most dreaded critic of our cooking, the cooks of the house, even until the recent days. He was a perfect event manager, menu planner for any functions or marriages that happened in the household.
It is this foodie nature of his that I want to cherish forever and sharing a part of him with you all by the above writing about him. As he loved non-vegetarian food, hence I decided to try something new using Prawns.
For The Dough:
Refined Flour: 200 gm
Fine Semolina: 100 gm
Salt: 1 pinch
Water: 100 ml ( or as much-needed to make soft dough)
For The Filling/Stuffing:
Prawns: 500 gm
Onion: 1 Medium-to-small
Green Chilies: 2 (or add as per personal taste)
Green Coriander: 2 Tbsp (few sprigs)
Cumin: 1 Tsp
Salt & Pepper: as per taste for seasoning.
Cooking Oil- As required for Frying
Put the refined flour, semolina and a pinch of salt in a glass bowl or any bowl and mix together. Adding water to this mix make a soft dough and keep it covered until we prepare the prawns filling. Before using the dough we should knead it well.
Clean and devein the prawns, wash and pat them completely dry with a napkin or kitchen tissue roll.
Coarsely grind the onion, green chili, coriander, cumin, and the Prawns in a mixer pot or food processor pot. Add the salt and crushed peppercorns. We do not want the prawn flesh to become gooey, but remain smaller chunks. (For the initial Potli’s I had used this uncooked raw filling, but the wet content leaked and oil spluttered. )
Heat a fry pan/Kadai and add 1 tsp oil (just to avoid food sticking) and then add this ground mix and saute so that the prawns get slightly cooked and all extra liquid if any gets completely dried away. This will be our filling for the Potli.
Knead the flour dough well to get a softer dough. We can use a drop or two of oil to avoid the dough from sticking to our palm.
Make small round balls of the dough and roll out thin circular discs as seen in the picture below. Place little amount of filling and bring the ends closer, twisting and tightening together towards the center. Make sure to seal it in center and leave the ends free so that it resembles a Potli.
Once the Potli’s are ready, heat a thick bottomed pan or Kadai and pour oil in it for frying. As the oil heats, slowly we slide the Potli’s into the hot oil and deep fry first keeping the flame of the stove on high and later making it to medium heat. The Potli’s should be fried to golden brown, reducing the heat ensures the ends become crispy .
The frying part needs our attention and demands more patience from us. If any water from the prawns makes the filling wet, and if the ends are not properly sealed then the liquid oozes out into the hot oil, making it splutter and also burns the oil. Hence try to avoid any water/liquid in the filling. Initially I had not used cooked filling, but the raw coarsely ground prawns and the water from the onion and prawns made the oil splutter and hence I pan dried the water. Avoid cooking the filling for long, Prawn flesh is delicate and we do not want to make it rubber textured.
As you can see my potli’s are of different shapes and sizes, more patience required in future I guess 🙂 .
We can make all the round discs first, later fill the filling and seal the ends, and thus make and keep the potlis to fry together. Or one could make it in batches of 3-4 and simultaneously fry while making. Do as per your convenience 🙂 .
I preferred to keep the prawn filling simple. The sweetness of the prawns, the heat from the green chili, the fresh herb taste and dash of the cumin and freshly ground peppercorns, perfect taste with each bite of the potli. Also note, it is better we make the potli’s smaller in size, they puff up a bit while frying and we can get perfectly sized ones to hold and which can be finished up in a bite or two. We need to fry them to perfection so that the outer ends are crispy and the bottom part is medium soft to bite into.
Serving Options: I used store-bought Tomato and Chili sauces as dips to serve with the Prawns Potli. We could also serve it with a hot and tangy green chutney.
I am feeling happy as I share this recipe that I made with love and affection for my brother, in his memory and in the process doing my bit to carry on the legacy of introducing new foods and recipes with the folks who are part of my life and also with those who cross my path.
Enjoy and stay content doing whatever that makes you happy 🙂 .
Ashu wishes you all a very Happy Gudi Padwa / Ugadi. A happy Chaitra Navratri too.
Gudi Padwa is a festival celebrated in Maharashtra on the first day of the Chaitra month, it marks the beginning of the new year of the Hindu calender. It is the time to welcome the mango season 🙂 . Ugadi is celebrated in Andhra as the first day of the new year.
The rituals followed for this auspicious day are making colourful rangolis on the front entrance of the house, tying a marigold flowers and mango leaves toran at the entrance door. A gudi is setup and worshipped and an elaborate vegetarian meal is cooked and offered as Naivedyam. A Shrikhand Puri, or Amrakhand or Puran Poli sweet is made. Pachadi too is made in some houses, it is a neem leaves, tamarind and jaggery mixed liquidy dish. I do not make this, never learnt it, though my mother used to make it. Raw mango dishes too are made.
Sharing couple pictures from today. I have not made many a dishes like the masale bhath and raw mango daal etc, made puran poli for sweet though I got Alpohsnso mangoes for the Amrakhand that I did not make 🙂 , will make it for the weekend menu! I made Bharli Vangi, mixed daal vadas/pakode, alu vadis, varan baath and mattha and fulkas. Even though I skipped some dishes but this itself was a heavy lunch, couldn’t stop with only one puran poli😀.
Chicken Momo is a dumpling which is one of my favorite and hence a frequently made food in my kitchen. I make it using refined flour and boiled chicken that is seasoned with simple seasonings. I have already shared a couple other recipes of momos, but the chicken momos was not yet posted.
Refined Flour: 250 gm
Boiled Chicken: 250 gm
Green Coriander: 2 Tbsp
Salt: To taste
Pepper: For Seasoning as per taste
Water: 1 glass (as needed)
Boil/Steam the chicken (I used 1 chicken breast) in a pressure cooker or rice cooker for a single vessel or 15 min.
Take a bowl and make a medium soft dough of the refined flour to which a pinch of salt is added, and keep the bowl covered.
Shred the boiled chicken, add salt and pepper as per taste and the chopped green coriander. This will be our Momos filling.
Divide the dough into small balls and roll out thin circular puris. Spoon the chicken filling on the puri, and then bring together and close all the ends giving a twist before sealing at the top. I prefer to remove the excess dough at the top end.
We can give any shape to the dumplings, but I prefer the one seen in the pictures. The more one practices shaping and making the momos, the better the shape 🙂 . I like to make smaller shaped momos, easier to eat in a single or two bites. Also note, the thinner the outer coat, it tastes better, my personal preference here.
Brush the steamer basket with oil before putting the momos for steaming, this prevents them from sticking to one another or to the basket, and we can easily remove them without the filling falling over from torn momos.
Steam the momos for 10 minutes, until the flour cover becomes shiny.
Serve them hot with a dip of choice, I have served with the parsley pesto that was handy in my fridge. Click for the Parsley Pesto recipe here. It tastes best with the spicy red chutney made of tomato and ginger. You can click here for this recipe.
As always I am happy to share with you all another of my favorite and nutritious recipe. Hope you would like to give it a try in your kitchen too. Do click the links below for my other momos recipes:
The visit to Georgia in July 2016 introduced me to this dish- Khinkhali, a dish that I find to be a similar version of Momos that I am so very fond of eating and making in my kitchen.
The first lunch after landing in Tbilisi, Georgia in a restaurant in the busy Tbilisi Center, the menu card displayed this bigger version of dumplings that looked similar to momos. The guide told us it is called Khinkali and also informed us the way how we were supposed to eat it. It is a boiled dumpling with filling inside, a fried version could also be seen in the menu card. The inside filling could be of either Beef, lamb, chicken, potatoes or cheese etc. The menu card in the restaurant displayed the various Khinkali that were sold.
While visiting the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Mtskheta, we stopped for lunch in the neighboring restaurant and I was able to see and click these amazing pictures of the Khinkali in making.
The Khinkali are shaped and kept on a board and are ready to be put into boiling water.
The hot Khinkali is then served to us and we hold at the folded top part and eat the rest of the khinkali and leave behind the top thick part on the plate. The filling is as per our choice and order.
I find it interesting to note that the mountainous regions are colder and one needs food that is easy to make, simple, and hot. The Nepal travel saw steaming hot momos being listed on the menu cards, the Georgian travel to the Mtshekta region saw the Khinkali in the process of making. This Georgian dish is famous throughout the country, and I would like to add here that it is similar to the steamed Momos, only the size is bigger and also the coating seems to be thicker. The potato and cheese filled Khinkali was too bland for my taste with only salt added , hence I could not relish them both.
Travelling to places makes us aware of not only the region, landscape and people but also the food habits and one finds a lot of similarities in food across far-flung regions with similar dishes but having the regional names. I find similarity of the Khinkali to the dumplings that one gets to see in a Chinese, or Tibetan or a Nepal menu. Do take every opportunity to travel, so that the foodies like me get to learn new recipes after each tour 🙂
I have tried making my version of the Khinkali yesterday and that will be my next post, so do return to check that out too 🙂 .
I have always been fascinated to click pictures of the road that lays ahead or passed by while I am sitting in the passenger seat of the moving vehicle. These pictures are from our Barbecue picnic outing with friends in the month of January 2017 to the Jabal Al Jais mountains in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, UAE. We have to crisscross through the mountains to reach to the point at the top until where the road is open for public use, construction is still seen in progress further up this point.
The Jais mountain is part of the Hajar mountain range bordering Oman. The tallest part of the Hajar mountain range lies in the neighboring Oman and the Jais mountain is the second largest of it that lies in the UAE.
This is the view from one of the mountain top that we had hiked to after parking the car at the end of the motor-able road that is open to public. The view is breathtakingly beautiful to see from here; the cotton candy clouds, the sun rays giving a golden glow, the blue clear skies and the chilling winter air that sends a shiver through us, it indeed was a beautiful long drive that is worth driving on.
You can check out my post on the Jabal Al Jais mountain here.
The food packed for the school lunchbox should be nutritious, healthy, balanced and most importantly appealing to the kids. It is always challenging to manage to pack food keeping all these factors in mind, especially if the kids are foodies and very picky in taste. My kids, like most kids love Paneer, it is a good source of Vegetarian protein. It is one of the best ingredients to make recipes that are quick, easy to make as well as nutrient packed. Sharing here today one of the many recipes of Paneer that I make in my kitchen, an extremely easy and yummy roll that is best for school lunch, as breakfast or a wholesome snack for a brunch or picnic or travelling. My Jr. does not like it if I pack the vegetables and roti or paratha seperately, and hence the Wrap or Rolls always are a welcome food item.
Almost all households with kitchen have the basic spices and condiments handy, using the fresh ingredients like the paneer, green coriander, spring onions, fresh peas the rolls have a softer and more juicy filling and are very tasty. If fresh paneer and peas are not available then we can make use of frozen one, as I have done for this one. Having lived in Vadodara I am very fond of using Amul products in my kitchen and hence I sometimes get the frozen paneer packet to stock up the fridge for moments when I cannot get the fresh paneer from the stores. I am sure most of you too must be using Amul products, and have eaten Amul butter and Cheese since childhood.
INGREDIENTS: (Makes 8-10 Rolls)
Paneer: 250 gm
Mutter/ Fresh Green Peas : 100 gm
Mixed Bell Peppers : 1 cup finely chopped
Onion/Spring onion: 1 Small
Oil: 2 Tbsp
Ginger Garlic paste: 1 tsp
Coriander Powder: 1 Tbsp
Red Chili Powder: 1 Tsp
Garam Masala Powder: 1 Tsp
Chat Masala Powder: 1 -2 Tbsp (as required)
Salt : To taste
Tomato: 1 small (Optional)
Defrost and dip the frozen paneer in hot water, this makes it softer. Drain and dry on a kitchen tissue roll. Grate or crumble the cubes and keep in a plate.
Heat a Kadai and put 2 tsp oil into it. Add the finely chopped onion.
Then add the ginger garlic paste, saute and then add the peppers and green peas. Cook for 3-4 minutes, fresh peas do not take long to cook.
Then add the paneer crumble and sprinkle all the dried spices and salt and mix well. Turn off the heat and lastly add the teaspoon of the garam masala powder.
The filling for the roll is ready.
Take the chapati and apply the parsley or Basil pesto if you have it handy, then take a tablespoon of the paneer filling and lay it on the chapati, sprinkle pinch of chaat masala and roll the chapati carefully and tightly so that the filling does not spill out.
Make all the rolls and keep them in the grill machine for couple minutes so that the rolls become crispy on the outside and retain the shape.
Cut the rolls and serve with a dip or simply pack them as is for the school or office lunchbox.
NOTE: The tomato can be finely chopped and spread over the filling if the rolls are eaten instantly or otherwise can be added to the Paneer filling when it is being cooked.
For making the chapati follow the fulka recipe here. I made the roti a bigger size than the Fulka and applied oil/ghee on top of the roti and cooked it on the Tava/fry pan and not puffing it on the gas stove as for Fulka.
For the Parsley or Basil pesto follow the recipe here.
You could avoid using the pesto and apply coriander mint chutney too if that is handy. I always keep these pesto handy in the refrigerator and hence I can make the rolls at any given time as all the ingredients are readily available in my kitchen.
This recipe was saved to draft and was supposed to be on the blog earlier in January, but I completely forgot about it. I had made these rolls for my daughter when she was attending a Concert in Abu Dhabi on the New Year’s eve 🙂 .
Hope you like this Zhat -pat recipe of mine and try it out in your kitchen.
Each January month the Hindus celebrate the festival of Sankranti. In Maharashtra the new crop harvested is worshiped before the Sun god, mother used to keep the Sugarcane cubes, the red Ber, the Mutter ki Phalli (peas in the pod), carrots, Tilgul, and some whole wheat. The haldikumkum is also performed in the Maharashtrian houses, a function where the married ladies are invited at home, haldi (Turmeric) and Kumkum (Vermilion) is applied to the forehead, a ritual that I too do every year since my marriage. Also flowers and a handful of five of these foodstuff is given as part of the ‘Oti’-wheat, Sugarcane cubes, Green peas, Carrot cubes and Ber along with the TilGul (Sweet made of Sesame seed and Jaggery) and a small gift. These were the things I grew up seeing my mother offer to the invited ladies for the function. It is not always possible to get/gather all the five things that form as part of the ‘Oti’ for me since living here in the UAE. I try giving it only when I can otherwise only the flowers, sweet and the gift is given for the Sankranti Haldikumkum to the invited ladies.
It is customary to wear a black Sari during this Sankranti haldikumkum, and I loved wearing my Black Chanderi Sari and my most favorite (and heirloom) jewelry-my mother’s wedding Nath and hubby’s grandmothers Ekdani (the gold & black beaded necklace). Both were gifts given to me by these elders, and I love wearing them for this special function.
The Tilgul that I make during Sankranti and offer is in the form of Laddu. I have been fond of the taste of Laddus that my mother makes and hence continued to follow her simple recipe each year. It is a blessing to carry forward the traditions set by the elders and I enjoy each and every moment of it. With the many Job changes over the years, we have moved to many different places and the numerous friends at every place we stayed have always loved these laddus and hence I have decided to share it here on the blog.
My stay in Vadodara has seen us enjoying this Uttarayan festival as it is called in Gujarat with the whole day flying kites and enjoying the special dish-Undhiyo and sweets Jalebi. It is so much fun, the whole city and state is in the festive spirits with loud speakers blaring loud music on each terrace, and the whole day spent with family and friends flying the hundreds of kites that are kept ready and stacked to last the whole day of 14th January. I learnt to make Undhiyo from my Gujarati neighbors and since then every year I make this dish in my kitchen in January. I have to hunt the local markets for the numerous vegetables and other ingredients that are needed for this dish, but the trouble is worth it. Most times my family members have packed the special papdis and Tur dana that goes into the dish for me and gave them to me if I happened to travel to India in the December holidays. Unfortunately I am yet to get all the ingredients needed and have yet to make it this January, but hopefully soon.
The most delicious sweets are always very simple to make at home, one needs a little effort and inclination to prepare and the whole family can continue to enjoy the innumerable traditional and tasty Indian recipes.
Til (Sesame seeds): 300 gms
Jaggery: 250 gms
Desiccated coconut: 2 Tbsp
Cardamom Powder: 2 Tsp
METHOD: (Makes 15-18 Laddus depending on the size.)
Dry roast the Sesame seeds so that the raw taste is removed as they get roasted and acquire a slight brown color. Take care that you should not brown the seeds too much, this results in a burnt taste of the powder that we will make of the roasted seeds.
Powder the roasted Sesame seeds in a mixer pot. Grinding to almost a fine powder does not require addition of few drops of milk to set the laddus.
Grate the Jaggery using a fine grater. I have used the solid Kholapur gur, it is easy to grate and mix.
Mix the grated Jaggery, Sesame powder, the desiccated coconut, and the powdered green Cardamom together. Care should be taken to ensure the thorough mixing of the Jaggery with the powder, this helps prevent lumps being formed. One can use a few drops of milk to bind if the mixture is too dry and cannot be formed into laddu shape.
Taking a small amount of the mixture shape into small laddus and keep in airtight box. The ladoos can be enjoyed for long as they have a longer shelf life.
They are so yummy that one tends to eat quite a few, but one need to take care and avoid overeating as it might result in an upset tummy 🙂 .
I did the haldikumkum at my place last week and since then have been trying to post the Laddu draft post that I had kept ready, and today finally it is time to publish the post 🙂 .
Happy Makar Sankranti to all of you my blogging friends and readers 🙂 .
This picture is from my recent travel to India. While visiting the Ganpati temple in a city in Maharashtra, India, I stopped to chat with this smiling lady, a fruit and vegetable vendor. I requested her for permission to click her picture, and she smilingly agreed telling me that many stop and click her picture 🙂 .
The old lady is portraying the Maharashtrian look of a married woman, wearing the traditional nine-yard sari called ‘Navvari, the Maharashtrian jewelry-the Mangalsutra, the Motiychi Nath (Pearl nose pin), the green glass bangles called ‘Chuda’ with the gold Patli (bangles) and the red Kumkum (Vermilion) on her forehead. It felt wonderful to capture the warmth and happiness in her smiling face, the long journey of hardship of life seen in the somewhat tired eyes, yet the pride with which she wore her traditional attire. For me this was a graceful and elegant old lady, hence my choice of photograph for this WPC.
The UAE is a country that is a federation of seven kingdoms or Emirates. The capital is Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven Emirates, and the other six Emirates are-Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah.
The first impression of the UAE as a tourist way long back was that it is a Desert country. Back then I had visited Dubai with little or absolutely no knowledge of the country (yes, how ignorant I was I to wonder now!!). It sure was a very different place as compared to now, none of today’s famous landmarks like the Burj Khalifa or the Dubai Mall or Atlantis, and not even the Metro, but still I had loved my visit. It was beautiful to visit this place where one could see people from so many countries living in harmony. The visit to Mall of the Emirates left me awestruck , never had seen a Ski slope inside a mall. The Desert Safari too was the most exciting and magical experience, a must do for visitors I would say. The thrill, and at the same time the scare, of the SUV ride climbing and coming down through the steep sand dunes was a first ever experience, the beauty of the Desert sands, the wilderness around and the camp in the center, it sure is something one should experience if you ever visit this country.
I am now a resident of this beautiful country and I sure love this place. The country, especially Dubai has seen tremendous growth, and I am witness to the ever growing change in this place, something new is always upcoming and we see constant development. The infrastructure, the public service transport, the civic facilities are top class, the greenery too is so evident and the seasonal flowers add so much color to the roads and surroundings during the harsh summer months. The pristine beaches, huge well-kept parks, are the best to enjoy family gatherings, barbecues, and also picnics with friends during the cooler months.
This country not only has the Desert sands, the beautiful beaches but also has magnificent mountains too. The landscape completely changes as we travel to Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah, the other smaller Emirates of the UAE. The car drive trips up the Jebel Hafeet Mountain are the best mountain rides I have had, and was keen to do the Jabal Al Jais mountain road drive since I came to know about couple months ago. I was looking up to go on as the weather became cooler, and finally in December 2016 I was able to go. The road was fairly recently opened and is still under developed in terms of tourist interest things, but one can simply enjoy the long drive.
I enjoyed this drive and if you looking out for a long drive experience and being in nature then you might too. The vegetation around would be only the Ghaf trees that is seen in these parts of the desert, we do spot mountain goats that are seen roaming around, some even very high at the top of some mountain. The road passed through the rugged, wind scared surface of the mountains that which gave it a beautiful and carved look. It was very cold at the top of the mountain, and by evenings the temperature dropped and was too cold for a single hoodie and jeans clad me. The heater of our SUV was our rescue. A word of caution, if you are driving in the December month be equipped with proper winter wear as the temperatures drop in the evenings at the top of Jais Mountains.
Driving to Ras Al Khaimah from Sharjah takes about a little more than an hour, depending on the traffic. As one drives on towards Ras Al Khaimah, the road passes through the desert surroundings and on entering the emirate we can see the mountains in the backdrop.
I have driven through the other mountainous regions-Kalba, Fujairah, but first time to this Jabal Jais and hence the excitement to know what lay in store ahead. The Jais mountain is part of the Hajar mountain range bordering Oman. The tallest part of the Hajar mountain range lies in the neighboring Oman and the Jais mountain is the second largest of it that lies in the UAE.
After entering Ras Al Khaimah, following the Google Maps App of the cellphone we were lead on to the road leading to the mountains. I did see proper sign boards guiding us to the Jais Mountains. We had selected the cafeteria at top of the Jais Mountains on the App. It was a cloudy and windy day and the late afternoon sun played hide and seek, it sure gave some spectacular view of the surroundings, a nature lover couldn’t ask for more.
We ate our homemade packed lunch amidst the flat ground that was surrounded by the mountain range from all side. This ground area is with toilet facility, a camping & barbecue site. It is a favorite recreation for people living in the UAE to go outdoors or camping in the winter /cooler climate. Long drives, barbecues, picnicking are some of the most sought out activities during the Nov to Feb months. I too had gone for long drive and camping to Musandam in Oman (Hajar Mountain range) a couple years back during the Eid break in October.
After lunch and clicking numerous pictures with the camera and also selfies in my cell phone, we continued on our drive uphill. The ride was smooth except for the occasional speed breakers with most drivers driving cautiously, and the sun helping to give us spectacular view and different shades of the mountains. It was a magical experience at times with lovely sun rays highlighting some parts of the mountain and same time making other part dark. Though I missed on the thrill of driving on this road, but was enjoying the view and clicking pictures sitting in the passenger seat of our SUV.
Nearing the top we did see stops for viewing the panorama and one could halt and park the car to soak in the view. The look below of the zigzag road around the mountains to reach to the top was spell-binding from the top. The humongous natural beauty reminded me how minuscule my existence in contrast to the surroundings. In spite of this, each one of us matter and are important on this face of the Earth, a thought that I absolutely love. The view was breathtaking, the wind was super cold, and the sun was at its best, disappearing and surfacing again and giving us the perfect picture moments.
The top most part is still not accessible, but we can drive to almost near it. There is space allotted to park, camp, as well as to view the mountain from the top part. We saw many families were seated around with bonfires, some using their barbecues, some even had set up tents, and many simply crowding near the cafeteria that was set up in a truck. It was serving hot Karak chai (hot tea), coffee, soft drinks, water, snacks, biscuits. It was well stocked on the basic supplies that a picnicker would need, even disposable plates and glasses. So even if the picnic party is short of any eatables or essentials the cafeteria guy seemed to have it all. The garbage pickup trucks were busy collecting the garbage and ensuring the place is clean. It is very difficult to see many folks litter around and spoil the natural habitat, I feel it is so very important to do our part to collect our own garbage when visiting such locations and help to protect the environment. It is upon us to preserve the natural habitats.
It was almost dusk and hence low visibility for the camera to get the best shot of the construction and development below that was seen from the top.
The sea was visible to the naked eye, but the camera picture does not show it very clear. For this I do plan to visit the place again, and also to wear my sneakers that I had completely forgotten as it was not a planned outing to the mountains. Do wear comfortable footwear if you love hiking, it could be a painful fall if one missed a step on deciding to climb the reachable mountain tops after parking the car. I did see many visitors climbing the smaller peaks of the mountains and getting the hiking experience, something that I missed as I was wearing fit flops. After enjoying piping hot cups of the Karak chai and coffee and cookies from the cafeteria and watching the lovely sunset colors on the horizon, we started our return drive downhill.
Do note the road has no electric poles and hence the zigzag drive downhill in darkness would be very risky. We started the drive before it was pitch dark.
I did read recent newspaper articles that stated people camping for the night at the top. It would be a very very cold night out at the top with temperatures dropping to very low in December-January months.
I loved sharing my experience of this long drive to the Jais mountain top. Hope you readers do find it interesting and get the joy of this drive on any of the days as long as the weather permits it.
The weekend brought with it a craving for the Konkani style of cooking, with fresh coconut and Kokum, hence decided to go and buy seafood but instead we ate a Jumbo Crab lunch at one of the Dubai Restaurants. But the craving for my style of cooking of the malvani curry was still lingering and hence I decided to cook this Hara Chana for dinner, it was supposed to be the next morning breakfast 🙂 .
Green Chickpea that I used is the dried Hirva Harbara/chana as it is called in Marathi. The fresh chana tastes sweet, but even the dried ones taste bit sweeter when compared with the black chana. For this preparation I used freshly grated coconut for the gravy masala, added Kokum for its typical sweetish yet tangy taste, and used my homemade garam masala powder that I grind weekly or fortnightly and keep ready for use. The ground garam masala has Cumin, Black Cardamom, Green cardamom, Star anise, Black Peppercorns, Bayleaf, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Caraway seeds and Cloves. I also used the dried coriander powder that has Cumin added to it while powdering it.
The coconut adds a rich creamy sweetish taste, the whole dried red chili/ red chili powder and the garam masala adds to the perfect hot and spicy taste and the Kokum imparts the necessary sourness that can be adjusted by adding the kokum pieces according to ones taste. This gravy is mouthwatering, very flavorful and yummy to those who love the Konkani or Goan cuisine, one of my favorites.
Hara Chana: 300 gm
Onion: 1 small
Freshly grated coconut: 3 Tbsp
Tomato: 1 Medium
Dried Red Chili: 2 no.
Ginger & Garlic paste: 1 Tbsp
Coriander powder: 2 Tsp
Red Chili Powder: 2 Tsp
Turmeric: 1/2 Tsp
Garam Masala powder: 1 Tsp
Salt: To taste
Kokum: 5 pieces
Cooking oil: 2 Tbsp
Water: As needed for boiling the chana and also to add and adjust the thickness of the gravy.
Wash the dried Hara chana and soak in water for 5-6 hours or overnight. Boil it for 3-4 whistles in a pressure cooker.
Heat Kadai or fry-pan on the gas stove, add few drops of oil, then put the red chili, the chopped onion and saute, then add the chopped tomato and finally add the grated coconut and fry till this masala is cooked. Grind this to a fine paste once it is cool.
If the ginger garlic paste is not ready, then we can add a small piece of ginger and 4 garlic cloves to the above masala while grinding.
Heat another Kadai and add the remaining oil, put the ground masala paste and ginger garlic paste and cook till the oil separates and is seen at the edges of the kadai. Use little quantity of water, if required, to fry the masala as this prevents the masala from getting burnt. Then add the turmeric, red chili powder, kokum, salt and simmer for a minute or two and then add the boiled chana to this masala. Let it cook on slow flame for 10 minutes. This allows the masala to mix well with the boiled chana. Do add all the water that is in the boiled chana when it was kept for boiling.
Add the garam masala just before the gas is to be switched off. Garnish with freshly chopped coriander.
SERVING OPTIONS: This can be served with Puri or Paratha or Roti, Dosa, set dosa or any bread of choice. I served it with whole wheatflour puris and some finely chopped onions. Rice and Hara chana gravy too can be another option.
NOTE: The home ground garam masala is fresh, stronger in flavor and hence very small quantity is required. If you are using outside store bought one then do adjust quantity as per the taste.
I enjoyed eating this yummy dish and feel happy to share it here with you all. Providing the links below to some other similar recipes that you might find interesting from ashuskitchen 🙂 .
Wow, who would have thought of ever getting to visit a place that has all things Bollywood outside of Mumbai! Well, this is Dubai, anything and everything is possible here.
The Bollywood Park is the first of its kind, a new addition to the list of theme parks that opened last month to the public. It is one of the three theme parks of the Dubai parks and Resorts. On 2nd December the UAE celebrates it’s National day, this year it was the 45th. The day is declared a national holiday and a lot of events and activities are scheduled/planned at this time. The Malls too offer some discounts as part of the celebration. This park too had a special ticket rate offered, but it was sold out fast and we did meet few visitors inside the park who had to purchase the normal rate tickets for entry to the park. As it was a long weekend for us here in the UAE, it was a good time for family outings and friends meet ups, and a crowded park with long waiting queues 🙂 . The attractions to the park are the huge film sets and movie hoardings and banners, the cafes and retail shops apart from the different stages and the big and grand Theater.
The Attractions to the park include: Don: The chase, Lagaan: Champaner Cricket Carnival, Sholay: The hunt for Gabbar Singh, Dabangg: Stunt Spectacular show, Krrish: Hero’s Flight, RA.One: Unleashed, CinemaMagic featuring: Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Crossroads stage, Mumbai express stage, Rangmanch stage, Stars on step stage, Cinema Circle stage, and the grand Rajmahal Theater.
The parks open around noon, and by the time we could park and wade our way through the large gathered crowds it was almost an hour past. Even though I have grown up viewing Bollywood movies and seen the movie locations in Mumbai, the moment one enters the park one is awe-struck with the grandeur and magnificence of the sets, the set ups, the buildings, the movie star hoardings, the director’s camera & chair square, the structure of hands with different mudras, the Indian train Bogey that is placed and transformed into a cafe, the Jambo cafe at the Linking road marked inside the park, Bollywood film studios, the hand rickshaw outside the Lagaan set, the well, water tank and famous Tonga cart outside the Sholay set, the huge ammunition boxes and Jeep outside the Dabangg sets, it was all very exciting and fun to move around from one set to another. This park is the place for those who like things Bollywood, may not be too exciting for those who expect lot of different rides and attractions.
After grabbing a light snack at the Victoria cafe and sitting inside the AC train compartment that was the sitting area of the cafe, we started exploring each sets and that was the start of my test of patience, waiting in the long queues for the rides in the park. There are simulation rides, stunt shows, music and dance shows, and dancers performing at the different stages, and an absolutely thrilling and must watch Broadway style Bollywood musical Jaan-e-Jigar show that is being premiered tomorrow 9th December at the Rajmahal Theater, we were shown a 20 minute sneak peak. Loved all parts of this preview shown, the opulent set, the wonderfully choreographed dances , the drama and costumes, a truly magical experience.
My patience wore out while standing in queue to see the Krrish a Hero’s flight. As I have seen some amazing theme parks and this rather long line wait, a roomful of people in long queues going along the rows and rows that were inside the hall, and had to pass three such rooms to finally reach the hall to enjoy the ride. Having stood in line for more than an hour it was senseless to leave midway, so we followed the queue. This was the time to glimpse human nature, elderly, young as well as kids and toddlers to teens all where inside the hall in line standing and patiently or some impatiently waiting for their turn. The total wait stretched to nearly three hours and by then we had made up our mind that this would be our last visit ever to any theme or amusement park. But after the ride all had already forgotten the irritation before entering the room. Well, these parks are designed in such way that no matter what age you are, one gets a good experience and sure has some fun time in the daily hectic life routines, so after the ride I did feel better and we finally did see and do most of the park rides. It was already dark by the time we walked out, had entered the hall when it was still a bright and sunny afternoon.
The Lagaan set had good decor, the clay pots, the rickshaw, the woven baskets, the commentary screen with Aamir Khan’s video telling about the Lagaan Thrill of Victory ride, and finally the ride experience.
The Dabangg set had a live stunt show with dancers, hero, heroine, the fight scenes and the blowing up of ammunition that we see in the movies, all in front of our eyes live on the set. The stage artists performed the dance and stunts well.
The cinema magic had the behind-the-scene set up of one of my favorite movie-Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. I liked this section of the park, got to witness and experience the magic of film making. Few visitors were the volunteers who played three scenes from the movie that were shot and later showed to us, we all were part of that small clip. The scenes were shot in the two Stage rooms, and in the final Stage room the music was added and the final clip was shown to us. It was fascinating to understand the amount of hard work, efforts and excellence required to come up with the final movie that we get to see. The Purse shown in the movie ”Bagwati” was also kept on display inside along with few other things related to the movie.
After dark the park had a beautiful ambiance when the lights were switched on, the fountains with colored lights, the palm trees all lit up, the cool winter breeze, the garam masala chai and hot Vada Pavs, the kulfi corners and the other snack corners, and it felt like a perfect evening.
The last part of our day was the 20-minute preview of the Jaan-e-Jigar, a Broadway-style Bollywood Musical in the Rajmahal Theater, a grand structure true to the name that looked like a palace . Entering it I did feel that I have entered a palace kinda place, the majestic feel it had, the mahal wall had a huge elephant painting, very very beautiful. I could just stand and keep gazing at the painting.
It was 10 pm by the time we walked out of the theater, and finally it was time to call it a day. I did stop and clicked couple selfies, couple family pictures and some random shots of the location. We ate Chinese food and then walked out of the park towards our car in the parking lot. My long and tiring day at the Bollywood park ended, the mixed feelings of impatience, irritation and tiredness eventually changed and I ended up enjoying my time and getting lost in the magic of the Bollywood Park.
Bollywood cinema is very popular here and other Nationalities apart from Indians too are seen as part of the Hindi movie audience. This park is definitely a place for those who love everything Bollywood, lot of fun and drama, perfect location to click pictures posing along famous scenes and sets of this Industry.
My entry for this week’s photo challenge: Relax are a few photographs from my visit to the beach near the Burj Al Arab hotel, Dubai, UAE.
I enjoy and always look forward to visiting the beach. Just standing on the beach in the sand near the waves that are lashing the feet, the feet sinking further into the sand with me completely engrossed looking out ahead at the vast stretches of the sea and the distant horizon, totally lost to the world around, the perfect moments that make me happy and totally relaxed. Dubai and also some other places in the UAE have amazing beaches and parks to visit to.
For this entry I have selected pictures from my visit to the open beach near the Burj Al Arab hotel, one of the most famous Dubai landmarks. It also has a long jogging track, a fantastic place to visit for walking or jogging on weekends or on any other day for that matter 🙂 if one stays nearby.