My entry for the Weekly Photo Challenge- Magic dated November 18, 2016.
Walking through the Ancient city of Petra itself was a magical experience!
Petra in Jordan is a beautiful place to visit. We first walk through The Siq, a natural Sandstone gorge, a little over 2 Km or so walk winding through the ancient city of Petra to open into the most magnificent site that I ever saw -the treasury also know as Al Khazna, hence I choose a couple pictures from my Petra tour for this WPC-Magic.
After a 2 Km or so walk through “The Siq”, one gets mesmerized by this beautiful sight in front of our eyes, the most spectacular monument carved by the Nabataeans, it is 39.5 m high and carved out of a single block.
If you love travelling I would definitely recommend a visit to this fantastic place. 🙂
My entry for the WPC: Tiny dated November 11, 2016.
This beautiful picture is from my Nepal tour, took this out from my photo archives to share here.
We had just checked-in to our hotel in Nagarkot in Nepal and went out for a stroll in the evening, the sun was yet to set and we wanted to see around the neighborhood. This mother hen and her tiny chicks came walking along from somewhere, and the vast stretch of the road and dried leaves provided the chicks the perfect camouflage. It was a beautiful sight and I could not miss opening my camera to capture it 🙂 .
My entry for the Weekly Photo Challenge dated November 4th 2016 : Chaos.
This is the scene one witnesses as soon as a Mumbai local train halts in the station, rush and chaos of people on the staircase leading them out of the station. Those couple minutes on the train platform are truly spellbinding :). I too had just descended on the platform from the local train that is seen in the picture and was about to walk to the platform staircase, but then this scene had to be clicked first! 🙂
It is the awesome weather days here in the UAE, perfect wintry mornings to start the day sipping piping hot masala chai . As I water my balcony plants and enjoy the reflection of the sun rays from the glass pane of a multi-storey building across the street falling on our balcony plants and was admiring this calm moment being in midst of nature, these Colocasia leaves spread out in all directions catches the eye.
This potted plant was brought home from our friend’s garden, they live in a big power-plant township and have a beautiful house with gardening patch on all sides of the house. The front garden has all the fragrant flower plants, the sides have Papaya trees and Colocasia plants, and in the backyard is the vegetable patch where she plants all the seasonal veggies. I get some supply of home-grown vegetables from them whenever anyone of us is visiting each other. The leaves, as seen in the picture, were growing big and so I made use of them to make this famous Maharashtrian recipe. ”Thank you” Naina (if you happen to read this) for giving us the plant and the joy of enjoying the fresh garden leaves Alu Vadis :).
This is also a popular recipe of Gujarat state of India, where it is known by the name Patra/Paatra.
Alu leaves/Colocasia leaves: 10-15 nu.
chickpeas Flour/Besan: 200 gm
Tamarind : 20 gm
Sesame seeds: 1 Tbsp
Ajwain/Carom Seeds: 1 Tsp
Red Chili Powder: 2 Tsp
Turmeric Powder: 1 Tsp
Garam Masala Powder: 1/2 Tsp
Salt : To Taste
Water: 200 ml (As needed to make a medium thick batter).
Cooking Oil: 200 ml ( for deep-frying)
Note: I have used medium-to-small leaves.
Wash and clean the leaves, and dry using the kitchen towel/tissue. Soak the tamarind in 50 ml water/half katori water. Use this tamarind pulp, but sieve it before use.
Take the besan in a bowl, add all the spices, 1 Tbsp oil, Sesame and Carom seeds, tamarind pulp and mix. Add only as much water as required to make a medium thick batter.
Apply this chickpeas flour batter to the underside of each leaf, then place another leaf on top and apply the batter, and then again place the next leaf on top and continue the layers.
After a few leaves, fold the tops parts of the leaves and bring to the center, then fold the lower part and form a bundle-shape. Apply another coat of batter on the top of the bundle. Start applying batter to the remaining leaves and form another bundle if any leaves were remaining.
Grease the cooker basket/plate to place in the cooker to steam these Colocasia bundles.
Steam the leaves for 15-20 min in the steamer or pressure cooker (without whistle).
When cool then cut the steamed roll into thin slices, and deep fry until crisp in hot oil. One can also shallow fry them using little oil, if one does not like deep-fried foods.
Serve the crispy fried pinwheels with tomato ketchup or mint yogurt dip. It is served as part of a Maharashtrian thali meal too. It is usually cooked on occasion of festival and served as fried item of the special menu.
The steamed pinwheels are also used to add to a spicy gravy or can be cut and made into a dry sabji as my mother used to make, it was one of my favorites. I will have to wait for the next batch of leaves to make the dry sabji post :).
This is also a favorite snack in Gujarat. During my stay in the state, I would see it as a snack item sold in Farsan shops, a fasting selling item that would get sold out within an hour or so in the shop near my residence. In Gujarat they do add a little |sugar to the ingredients list, but I have never used sugar. The tamarind is used to avoid itchy discomfort in the throat that it causes, an irritant in the leaves causes it, to some people after eating. Lemon juice can also be used, but I feel the tamarind pulp gives the batter the perfect taste.
I enjoyed sharing another of my Maharashtrian recipe with you all, looking forward to hear your thoughts.
Have a great weekend, Happy Sunday. For us, in this part of the world, it is the start of another week tomorrow. Enjoy 🙂 .
Living in the UAE we residents are aware of the life during summer time, venturing outdoors is not a good idea with the scorching summer sun with very high temperatures and humidity levels. So, as the weather starts becoming more pleasant after the summer, the outdoor activities, picnics, long drives, camping activities take precedence. Dubai is one awesome place to live. New theme parks and lot other attractions get continuously added to your ‘to visit’ list, one always has a new location or place that is yet not visited. Recently a new theme park IMG world has opened and one more place has got added to our visit list. I first heard of the Al Qudra lakes a year back, almost all the radio stations and local newspapers were talking about this great camping or picnic location. With the daughter having already seen the place and me having seen a couple of her clicked pictures, this was one place that I had been longing to go.
This weekend the Friday went picnicking with friends in Zabeel park and on Saturday an impromptu plan (with my hubby)to take a picnic lunch to Al Qudra happened. Al Qudra lakes are man-made lakes in the middle of the Saih Al Salam desert. It is quiet far from my residence, but if you live in the UAE no distance is far, we enjoy our long drives. If the weather is cooler, then long drives are preferred to enjoy the desert, the lush greens around, the parks, the beaches, and the various places in other Emirates. For us Google maps were handy to reach the place, we follow Al Qudra road till the tar road ends at this roundabout (seen below) and we are at Al Qudra. The picture below was clicked by me seated in the car while we were returning back from the lakes. Al Qudra has a designated cycling track and we see lot of bikers along the way.
At this roundabout if we are coming straight we reach the Al Qudra Bike shop, and a coffee shop too is seen. After this point the tar road ends, the desert is visible all around with the sparse and dusty plantation. We have to take the mud road to reach the lakes. One needs to turn left from the bike shop and drive ahead into the desert, no sign boards were seen as to where the lakes were nor the lake was visible. The coffee shop guy guided us how to reach the lake-‘just follow the cars that are driving into the desert :).
NOTE: Except a few, all pictures are clicked by my husband on his DSLR Camera.
So we did follow a few cars that were ahead of us on the muddy stretch of the desert road that saw many cars driven over and became a distinctly defined road. Through bushes and zigzag drive one finally is brought in front of the vast stretch of water, few cars parked near lone trees that gave shade for families to picnic. We had reached our destination. I could see lot of new plantation, and am sure in coming years this place that looks quiet and deserted would be having a completely changed look. Living in the UAE one is used to the developments taking place around, the efforts of the government to make the place more greener. Lots of trees were seen planted, these would grow up to make it a more green surrounding.
Al Qudra Lake:
As we drove ahead from the start of the lake, we followed the lake and this is were it ended. All the trees lined far away, as seen above in the picture, gave a beautiful necklaced view.
The area is home to many species of birds, we too saw a couple of these beautiful winged beings. I had read an article of Gulf News that stated that it is home to 175 bird species, some of which are endangered and threatened species too.
This place is a perfect spot if one wishes to get lost in the wilderness, away from the hustle and bustle of the city life, the traffic woes. Sitting and eating our lunch by the lake side, it was most tranquil moment and the only noise heard was of the birds chirping away. Yes, one is sure disturbed by the dust whenever a vehicle passed by from near, people drove to search the perfect picnic spot for them.
I have always enjoyed being in nature, did go out for bird watching nature walks as a school girl and hence I loved being in this place. The best picture that I liked from the couple that I have clicked is the one below, the bird footprints on the sand. One gets to see human footprint everywhere, but this lakeside sand was full of bird foot marks, rare sight for this city dweller.
We were fortunate to click pictures of a few of the winged beings in the lake waters, most of them were busy catching fish, the lake seemed to be abundant in fishes.
I have used Google to help me identify the names of the birds, not sure if I am correct in identifying all correctly.
After the lunch and strolling around to see the number of different types of birds that we could spot and click pictures, we finally left the place. It was around after 5 pm that we left and it was still light and the sun was yet to set. As there is no street light or electricity in the vicinity it is advisable to leave before it gets dark as there are high chances of getting lost. We were clueless on how to reach the tar road, and after some zigzag driving we spotted another lake that was full of swans and ducks and even black swans. It was indeed an oasis kinda feel, and this place sure was crowded with visitors. I wondered whether this was the actual lake or picnic destination or the one that we had spent time exploring. The lake was too crowded with these birds, I felt it was over crowded in fact! I clicked few pictures in my iPhone, sharing them below.
As seen in above picture, it was almost dusk and in no time the sun would go done so we left this lake and again took the help of Google maps to reach to the tar road(roundabout picture that is seen at the start of this post). We drove a couple minutes and were soon at this roundabout and followed the road home, waddling 🙂 our way through the weekend traffic!
Point to Note: This is a good place if one is seeking the tranquil wilderness of the desert outdoors with the lake water near and birds chirping around. It is good for camping and having a barbecue meal, I think I did see a family doing barbecue as we were driving around the lakeside searching for a shaded place to park and eat lunch. The trees are the only source of shade here in the afternoon, not enough shade if many visitors are visiting. And if one is looking out for a more fun and comfortable picnic spot with electricity and concrete structures around to provide shelter, then this is not the place.
I am hopeful to make another trip soon to see if we are lucky and can spot some more birds at the lake site. Hope you find this post helpful if you are planning a visit to the lake :).
It has been over a month and I have not stopped by here to write any new post. Well, I can call it my sabbatical from blogging, never meant to be away for this long :). I know I have missed out reading lot of awesome posts of my fellow bloggers, will be catching up reading them all for sure.
October is the birthday month, so this Libran was tied up with family and the Diwali festivities in the later part of the month. Being a foodie and one who loves cooking a variety of food, I thought ‘let me share’ my food journey here for this October month :). With the daughter visiting home for a couple of days, the days were well spent in pampering her by dishing out a couple of her favorite foods and all the new recipes on her mom’s blog that she missed out in tasting and relishing. This month also happen to be my late dad’s birthday month, a day when I cook all the favorite food and cherish the old memories.
I also made a chocolate cake with a gooey crumble base of ripe bananas, raisins, black currants, almond slices, and chocolate chips, the cake was plated upside down, sharing the picture below.
My birthday dinner was a special meal for me as it was cooked from scratch by my daughter, it was the best birthday gift received. I had a lovely day that saw me being chauffeured by her to the Mall for some retail therapy :), the day spent in receiving phone calls from loved ones and the birthday messages, a Pizza Hut takeaway lunch, with an evening when I received a lovely flower bouquet from the hubby and an equally amazing food cooked and served by my darling daughter. It was indeed a memorable birthday.
This Caramel Custard for dessert was also made from scratch by her, steamed cooked, and perfectly cooled and served, the best way to end this yum & memorable dinner. Post dinner I was given my birthday gifts too :). What more could one ask for, right? and hence I wished to share my memories with you all.
I cooked vegetable Masale Baath, mattha, Palak puris, Basundi, and mint yogurt chutney for lunch on Dussera day.
Birthdays are incomplete if not celebrated with friends, called them over for brunch, made couple dishes and baked the fresh strawberry muffins.
The weekend after Dussera I was finally able to go to the Last exit on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway, it has the food-trucks stationed. It is a carnival kinda experience, the different fast food joint food trucks, the ultra sophisticated and huge locomotives with modern kitchen gadgets are stationed and cater to the foodies who drive down to this last exit just to have that outdoor experience. The whole area is lit up in lights and the headlights of the vehicles entering the area makes the whole place flooded with light. I did try capturing some clicks of the locomotives but it was impossible to get a picture without the visitors and hence not sharing here. To name a few of the food joints that have the trucks-Burger and Fries, Al Karak – their kheema paratha was yum but too oily for my families taste, Poco Loco- ate their Tacos, Cafe Di Roma, Urban Seafood, Burgerpit, Bigsmoke Burger etc.
Dubai Food Trucks
From here we next went to Boxpark, Dubai, another foodie location that has the Container boxes converted into restaurants.
We dined at Kuai Restaurant, a Chinese joint. Few pictures below from that place and the main course dishes that were ordered. They serve rice with each main course dish.
This month saw another outing with my girlfriends, a dinner at the Absolute Barbecue, Deira branch in Dubai. It is a grill buffet place where they serve barbecue on the table, they have live grills that are placed on the table that have slots to hold it, the veg or non veg food skewers are then placed on this. The waiters keep serving a variety of appetizers on the table, there are also other chaat and tawa counters, saw a Daal bati Churma counter too as well as the dessert counter that had a chocolate fondue fountain, assortments of sweet dishes from bengali sweets to french pastries to cheese cakes, fresh fruits, ice cream, gulab jamuns, rabri too. The main buffet has an array of dishes laid out with both veg and non veg foods, salads, bread etc. The different Indian breads like Naan, Tandoor roti, etc can be ordered and they serve it on the table. It is a good dinning experience, and one definitely needs a large appetite to enjoy the numerous dishes served. They charge 85/- dirham for one person on the weekends, with a little less on week nights. The weekend nights here in UAE are Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I need to mention here the desserts and the crispy corn that was served on the Veg menu, it was great. They had fried ice cream too on the dessert menu, a scoop of vanilla ice cream is shaped as a ball, rolled in desiccated coconut and breadcrumb mixture and dipped in cornflour batter and then fried in hot oil till outer coat is golden. This fried ball is then drizzled with either a chocolate syrup or strawberry one.
They even have deep-fried watermelon triangles that is later dipped in sugar syrup as dessert on the menu, had seen it on an earlier visit to the place. Intriguing menu options, but definitely are not my choice. The whole idea of something that is extremely cold getting subjected to high heated oil is a big put off for me, but heard that these are the latest food trends offered in weddings too in India.
The last week finally was the much awaited festivity time, the Diwali celebrations. This year it turned out to be a week-long socializing and partying time with get-together, Diwali dinners and parties, a total foodie indulgence week for me. Celebrations and the Indian festivals all call for homemade delicacies, and keeping with all the rituals and traditions that I follow, it was a great time, happy time. The Indian festival Diwali, which is also known as the festival of light brings with it the colorful rangoli patterns adorning the front door, the puja room, the puja setups, the oil diyas and the scented tea lights being lit for all the five days of this festival. The apartment balcony too gets decked up in the colorful series of lights, the whole atmosphere is bright, colorful and joyful. One can identify the Indian houses from the lights that are lighted and series of light bulbs seen adorning the building balconies on the different floors.
I tried giving a few pebbles that were collected during my beach walk a new look, tried coloring them but the brush was old and though I was not satisfied with the finesse, but it did bring on a cheer to see the final result of an hour of painting. Buying of utensils is a custom on the first day of Diwali, I used the stones to decorate my purchase and placed it on the living room glass top coffee table.
Anarsa and Methi gota Prasad for Laxmipuja
This Diwali too I have made the Anarsa from scratch. This is my second attempt only at making this, the first being last Diwali :). It is a lengthy and laborious rice recipe, an Indian sweet that is made during this festival in Maharashtrian households.
The Diwali Faral includes the Chivda, Besan Ladoo, Sev, Namkeen para, Shakarpara, Jowar chakli, rice and sesame Andhra recipe chakli, and Anarsa (as seen in previous pic). It was a week long celebration with rich food either at home or at parties for at least one meal of the day.
Starting November I am already busy shedding out all the extra kilos gained during Diwali, back to fitness regime of daily walks. Eating and working out needs to be balanced, right!
Hope you all too had a great festive time with your loved ones. Life is always fantastic, one needs to grab the moments and make them memorable.