Saturday, February 25, 2017

Blogging Marathon #75 Celebrations, The side Trip.

We are a group of bloggers who run a monthly marathon, where we post three recipes per week. We have been doing this since the last six years. Srivalli, is the lady behind this wonderful event. We also have Mega Marathons where we post all through the month. The concept of mega marathons was conceived on our BM 25 th Meet, which was held in Ahemdabad. It was the first time we bloggers met face to face. Check for glimpses here, here and here. After this there was no looking back.

The second meet was in Chennai to mark the celebrations of 50 th marathon .Check some glimpses here and here and here. Now comes the 75th marathon. For this we chose Delhi as our destination.

Delhi is my home town and I have lived in Old Delhi for a very long time. I am familiar with the small busting lanes , though one sees many changes over the years. Delhi is the hub of street food, hence the destination.

I booked my tickets two days prior to the meet, we had planned for a side trip to Mathura, Vrindavan and Agra. Friends were to arrive on 15 th and I wanted to receive them at the airport. But before that I wanted to meet my school buddies, so I met them on Valentines Day and enjoyed a lavish long lunch which ended at 6 in the evening. With friends around time just flies.

Today I shall share the details of our side trip which will tell you about our holiday of Vrindavan , Mathura and Agra.

Color code for the day: shades of grey, beige, brown and black.
Scene at Domestic Airport , New Delhi
Date: 15 th Feb 2017
Arrived friends: Ritu Tangri , Preeti Garg
Time 1.15 p.m
I'm being dropped by a school friend at the airport, looking for Ritu and Preeti.
Finally spot them and hugs are exchanged.

I had met Preeti before, looked the same, bubbly, cheerful , friendly , a true Delhite!
Ritu, a new face. Appeared shy and reserved, maintained her image for a while.

1.45 p.m
Familiar faces arrive.
Gayathri with her ten year old Shruti, Srivalli and Veena.
More hugs.

2.15 p.m
Sowmya from Bangalore comes in. A new face, oh that looks like Sowmya , somebody screamed and I quickly went up, waved to her and she waved back.
Yes it was Sowmya, a big hug and a very big smile.

2.45 p.m
PJ lands and back stage we planned to send Ritu to receive her.
Neither had seen each other.
Fortunately Ritu recognizes and taps her shoulder, "PJ "?
PJ raises her eyebrow and gives a look.
How I wish I had captured that look.

Lunch at airport
Lentil salad
Fruit salad , all brought by Preeti
Aloo Mattar Parathas
Sarso ka Saag , packed by my school buddy, Sujata.

4 p.m
Departure for Vrindavan by Tempo Traveller

Halt at Sarojini Nagar Market
To enjoy hot pakoras
Whole Onion Pakoras
Paneer Pakoras
Paalak Pakoras
Water bottles

5 p.m
Gayathri removes the sinful chocolate cake from her bag.
The bus filled with the aroma of ganache...( well at least I can always get that aroma).
Gayathri frosted the cake right in the bus .
Cake gone in seconds !
Ah ! What a cake ! Extremely soft, sinful, delicious...yummy !

Slowly back benchers PJ, Ritu, Gayathri clonking off !
Preeti, Sowmya, Veena , Valli and I jabbering.

8 p.m
Arrival at Vrindavan.
Packed in two E rickshaws.
Temple : Bankey Bihari Mandir
Going through narrow lanes where, bikes, cycle rickshaws, and cows made it difficult to walk,
Monkeys sat on rooftops waiting to grab glasses and mobiles.
( the reason why I am without the glasses in the picture)
This is a Hindu Temple dedicated to Lord Krishna. Bankey means bent in three places and Bihari means supreme enjoyer. This is how Krishna , who is bent in three places got this name.
The temple closes at 8.30 in winters, so we were lucky and made it for darshan.

Shopping in Vrindavan
Beautiful clothes for Deity's.

10 p.m
Departure for Mathura
Halt in mathura at my cousins place whom I was meeting after nearly 40 years !
We were served
Fresh fruits
Dry fruits
Kachori with Aloo ka Raita ( this Raita is a Sabzi with more gravy and less potatoes)
One of the best home made kachori I have had.
Chole Bhature.

Gifts from my cousin
Packets of home made spices.

Finally depart for Agra
Reached after midnight after going around finding our venue.
Everyone got into night suits, had some coffee and conked off.

16 th Feb Thursday
Good Morning from Agra
Wake up time 5.15 a.m
Color code : Shades of Green

6.15 a.m
The Taj Mahal, the seventh wonder of the world
Taj, means a crown. Mahal is a palace, so TajMahal means Crown of the Palace. It is a large white marble structure standing on a square plinth. It is embedded with yellow marble, jasper and jade. It is a work of detailed carving and the calligraphy found on the marble reads passages from Quran.

The monument was built in the memory of Mumtaz Mahal., wife of The emperor Shah took twenty years to complete the monument. The monument is situated on the banks of river Yamuna, which makes it a picturesque sight.

As soon as we reached Taj we hired a guide and he told us these and many more facts about this beautiful monument.
Talking about the guide, he did a wonderful job and was our photographer for the day.
Any body smiling ? Yes, we all were, but when it comes to smiles, who can beat our graceful, poised Veena . Hey Veena, are you blushing ?

11 a.m
Breakfast at Devilal Agra
Badaiya with Aaloo Jhol
Meethi Lassi
Makhan samosa
Breakfast hosted by : Pooja and Vijay, my niece and her husband who live in Agra.
She even got a Paan Cake and Paan muffins freshly baked for all of us.

12 noon
Panchi Petha House
Food shopping begins
Amazing variety of petha and gajak.

12.30 p.m.
Departure for Delhi
Lot of chit chatting in the bus, some cooking off !

2 p.m
Halt for tea / coffee

5 p.m
Arrival at Sai Villa, Delhi
A 6 bedroom apartment with a beautiful terrace.
Pradnya and her son waiting to receive us.
6.30 pm
INA, the spice market 
Indian National Army Market is a Food Bazar of fresh vegetables, fruits, meat, spices.
Ingredients from all cuisines are available here.
We picked some ingredients for our up coming work shop.
Some Delhi spices.
Some bakeware.
And check this fruit!
Our friends had never seen this
Rasbhari,this is a berry which is available only in winters, it is slightly tarty and has very small seeds which are edible.

8 p.m
Delhi Hatt
One can see street hawkers and chai wallas .
Dilli Hatt is an open air craft bazar, which has handicrafts , fabrics, gift items and food stalls from different states.
It is a tourist spot , but by now all were exhausted and we just took a stroll around the place and left.

9.30 p.m
Arrive back at Sai Villa
Archana and her daughter Apekaha are there to welcome us.
Finally all BM members arrived.

Dinner Time, dinner ordered by Preeti
Black Daal
Jeera rice
Paneer butter masala
Tandoori roti
Onion salad
Followed by dessert
Ice creams and kulfis.

I bet you guys are exhausted reading this post, so let's take a break! I am going to sleep, Sowmya is sharing the room with me...warning..I might snore ! But hey what do I hear...before me she conks off and I can hear her snoring ! Can you ?
Ok Good night friends, tomorrow is yet another of those special days, do come back !

This is my post for the last week of BM 74, Day 1

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Flavored Choorma for Holi

BM # 73
Week: 3 , Day: 3,
Theme: Festival Recipes

For the last day under festival recipes I have Flavored Choormas from Rajasthan. Daal Baati Choorma is a staple diet of Rajasthani's, they have the tradition of making this meal on special occasions. While chatting with one of my Rajasthani friends I learnt that they make special choormas for Holi. They flavour it with the tradition flavours. The basic choorma is so delicious that one cant stop at a few spoons, imagine it with some aromatic rose petals, it sure is heavenly. The colors are edible and can be omitted , but since Holi is a Festival of colours ,I did not want to miss them.


2 cups wheat flour
3-4 tbsp ghee
Water to bind the dough

For Choorma
½ cup sugar
½ cup ghee

For Rose Choorma
Red food color
Rose petals, dried
Rose flavoring

Khus Choorma
Khus flavouring
Green food color

Saffron Choorma
Saffron strands
Saffron yellow color


Take the wheat flour in a big bowl.
Make a well in the centre.
Pour in ghee.
Rub the ghee with the flour , till it resembles bread crumbs.
Adding water gradually, bind the dough, the dough should not be soft.
Pinch out lemon sized balls and make balls.
Deep fry these balls, adjusting the flame from time to time so that these balls cook through and through.
Let the balls come to room temperature.
Break the balls into pieces, then blitz them in a mixer.
We shall get a coarse grain flour .
Take a big sized sieve and sieve so that all the choorma is even sized.
Re blitz the big and uneven pieces and re sieve them.
Add sugar and ghee and mix the choorma.
This is the basic choorma. You can flavour it with cardamom powder.

To make rose flavoured choorma. Add a few drops of rose flavouring, red food colour and powdered dried rose petals.

For Khus flavoured choorma, add khus flavouring and green food colour.

For saffron flavoured choorma, crush the saffron strands, mix in some yellow food colour and add to the basic choorma.

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Dahi Bhalle

BM # 73
Week:2, Day :2
Theme: Flavors of India

Dahi Bhalle , yes this is what the ever so popular Dahi vadas are called in North. These are available as chat at the street vendors. You can find these chat walas at every nook and corner and throughout the year. But they are specially made during the festival of Holi. In fact there are different versions of Vadas that are made at this festival of colors. Vadas filled with nuts and spices , soaked in water and laced with curd, are a specialty of Rajasthani's . I remember mom making these special Vadas which are called Gujiyas. Then we have the Kanji wadas, which are also from Rajasthan. These are made from Moong Daal and then dunked in a nice spicy water which is fermented.

The Dahi Vadas that I have made are the vadas made from urad daal.The Daal is soaked for 6-8 hours and then grinded with ginger and green chilly. The batter for these vadas can be smooth or coarse. It is a personal choice. Some how I like it slightly coarse. To get real soft and spongy dahi vadas you need to beat the batter very well. Once you fry the Vadas, let them come to room temperature , then soak them in warm water with a pinch of hing. They will absorb the water and fluff up. Gently squeeze them, and place them in a serving dish. At this stage lot of people add curd, but I add thin butter milk and then later after about half an hour add nicely whipped curd with salt. Since butter milk is absorbed , the curd remains intact, it does not get thick.

Dahi Bhalle


For vada
1 cup urad daal
2-3 green chilly
A small piece ginger
Salt to taste
Oil for frying

For topping
3 cup whisked curd
1 cup butter milk

Dry spices
Black salt
Yellow chilly powder
Chaat masala

Coriander leaves
Pomegranate peals

Soak the daal for 4-6 hours.
Combine the daal, green chilly, ginger and salt in a mixer and grind to a coarse mixture.
Heat oil.
Beat the batter very well, till fluffy.
Using wet hands make even sized balls and drop them into the hot oil.
Deep fry till golden .
Remove on a kitchen towel.
Let them come to room temperature.
Soak them in water with a pinch of hing.
After about 20 minutes, squeeze out the vadas and place them in a serving dish.
Pour butter milk and leave it for 10-15 minutes.
Just before serving pour chilled curd with salt in it.
Sprinkle the dry spices.
Garnish with coriander leaves and pomegranate pearls.
You could drizzle some sweet tamarind chutney on top.

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Gajjar ka Halwa without milk

BM # 73
Week: 3, Day: 1
Theme: Festival Recipes

Holi is the festival of colours , but I would also call it a festival of food. Every state has something special to offer us . Sometime back I had done an elaborate post on Holi specialities, featuring traditional dishes from different states. Today I have some more recipes , this time from the North.

Holi has been a one of my favorite festivals as a kid, but with time I do not like to play with colours. It is a task to get rid of the colour but food yes I love the holi specialities.The festival falls in the first week of March, and since North is cold, we get the special Red Delhi carrots which are perfect for making Gajjar ka Halwa. I remember as a kid while passing the bustling Delhi lanes I would get the aroma of his Halwa. One could see the carrots being grated and the Halwa being made in huge karahis on the streets by halwais. The Halwa is slightly different than what we make at home. The carrots are grated quite thick and cooked in without milk, once cooked sugar is added. Khoya and nuts are added later. I have made the halwa in the same pattern but I did not use any khoya, some how I like this Halwa without it. I have another version of this halwa , and this one is with milk. 

Gajjar ka Halwa

500 gms carrots, grated nice and thick
2-3 tbsp ghee
Sugar to taste
Nuts for garnish
Cardamon powder

Peel , wash and grate carrots. Try using the thick side of the grater.
Using a thick bottomed pan , add a tea spoon of ghee.
Add in the carrots, saute on full flame for 3 to 4 minutes, then reduce it to minimum.
You shall juice oozing out, let this dry, then add sugar.
The sugar shall also ooze out water , put the flame high, add ghee and cardamon powder, cook till ghee comes up and there is no moisture.
Garnish with almonds and pistachios.

For a richer version of this you could serve the halwa with grated khoya.
Add the khoya to the halwa and mix it, cook till the khoya melts , garnish with nuts.

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Kobbari Chutney

BM # 73
Week:2, Day :3
Theme: Flavors of India

Finally for the last day under Flavors of India, I have a chutney from Andhra Pradesh. The kobbari chutney is the coconut chutney and it varies from the other coconut chutneys. This is a real delicious chutney which pairs very well with Idli ,Dosas or I love it even with some rice and sambar. The onion and garlic flavors enhance the taste of this chutney.

Kobbari Chutney

1 1/2 cups grated coconut 
10 green chilly
1 tsp tamarind 
1 tsp oil
1 tsp Urad dal
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 small onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a pan and add urad daal and cumin seeds and green chillies.
Roast till dal turns pinkish brown.
Remove from fire.
Add coconut , tamarind paste and salt.
Grind to a fine paste.
Now add onion and garlic and once again grind.
Remove in a serving bowl and temper.

1 tsp oil
1-2 tsp mustard seeds
Few curry leaves
Heat oil and add the mustard seeds, let them pop, add curry leaves and add to the chutney.

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Nimmakaya Pulihora / Lemon Rice

BM # 73
Week:2, Day :2
Theme: Flavors of India

For Day 2 under Flavors of India, I have one of the most popular rice for you. Lemon rice is the common name but they are called Nimmakaya Pulihora in Andhra Pradesh. I have posted lemon rice from Andhra for one of the mega marathons but this version is different, hope you enjoy it.

The rice is simple to prepare with a mild flavor of lemon. The peanuts add that special crunch to the rice. There are two things that are my favorite in this rice, peanuts and green chilly. I love to dig both and enjoy them together. The recipe source is again Padma's blog.

Lemon Rice

Method1 1/2 cups rice
3-4 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp turmeric powder 
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 cup peanuts
8-10 cashew nuts
1 tbsp channa dal
4-5 green chilly, chopped finely
Few curry leaves
1/4 tsp asafoetida 
1 tbsp oil
Salt to taste

Wash and soak rice for 30 minutes.
Cook rice with salt and turmeric powder till done.
( I normally use a rice cooker with double the quantity of water , and the rice is just perfect )
Remove the rice from the cooker and spread in a plate to cool.
Heat oil, add mustard seeds . Let them pop.
Add peanuts and cashew nuts. Fry till pink.
Add chana dal, chopped green chilly, ginger and curry leaves and asafoetida.
Add rice and switch off the flame.
Add more salt and lemon juice.
Cover and keep aside for about 10 minutes and then serve.

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