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Showing posts from 2020

Nashik Staycation in the Vineyards

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Rose´ by the Lake ... PC: Saffron Stays   November 2020 Usually we end up taking a vacation during the Diwali holidays, but thanks to the lockdown, this year we celebrated Diwali at home with all the festive splendor and pomp.  I decorated the house with marigolds, lights and rangolis and also made a variety of faraal - both namkeen and sweet - to make our celebrations truly traditional. My husband's side of the family too had flown down to be with us and my house was buzzing with people and gaiety. To make this occasion all the more memorable, we decided to drive down to Nashik - the wine capital of India. A few days of relaxation in the lap of nature with a glass of wine can do wonders for anybody :) Route taken - Pune --> Chakan -->  Sangamner --> Nashik (Rose´  by the Waldevi Lake) Distance: 212 Km Time taken : 5 hours Details & Reservation :  https://www.saffronstays.com/view/rose-by-the-lake-3-bedroom-villa-amidst-the-vineyards-by-lake-waldevi-in-nashik-near-tr

Konkan Staycation on the Beach

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Little Paradise - A Villa in Agardanda on the Konkan Coast The Villa (PC:  Tripadvisor/SaffronStays) October 2020: The lockdown  had ended again in Pune and now we were longing for a getaway to give us some much-needed break from the year that it had been so far. Agardanda, a small village off the historic fort of Murud-Janjira  on the Konkan coast was chosen as our destination. The villa seemed secluded from the crowds and the entire property just consisted of three villas with only a caretaker couple who looked after us. So, it felt relatively safe to go ahead and book it. We booked it through Saffron Stays, an aggregator of vacation homes/rentals. Covid Precautions taken : Once we arrived on the premises, our luggage and car were sanitized. Of course, our temperatures were taken and a hand sanitizer was provided. The villa was sanitized after each stay with a booking gap of a day in between. The only person who relatively came close to us was the caretaker who served us food and cle

Vegetable Stew (Desi style)

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  September is about to end and it's still pouring here in Maharashtra! The weather gets cold at night and calls for some hot and savoury stew to be enjoyed over dinner. This is my mom's recipe which I have modified a bit to suit my son's palate. I am not big into soups and stews and I made this one after many years wondering if my son would love it. (Husband usually has everything that I make without much fuss ;))  Stew, essentially means something which has been cooked over a long period of time with a closed lid that brings together all the wonderful flavours into the broth. Here I am adding mixed vegetables with some typical 'desi' seasonings in the stew which makes it all the more delightful. Topped with cheese it becomes irresistible :) Ingredients: Mixed vegetables (like finely chopped beans, carrots, peas, potatoes, cauliflower, soaked and squeezed soya chunks) - 1.5 cups Cooked rajma/kidney beans - 5-6 tsp ( I used leftover Rajma from my fridge) Pureed Toma

Papaya halwa

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  As is the case mostly, Big Basket got me a raw papaya instead of the ripe one that I had ordered. I tried to to ripen it by keeping it in a paper bag. However, that did not help much and to my dismay after cutting the fruit open, it was bland - neither raw nor sweet enough to consume it. Well, I decided to make a halwa out of this cut fruit so that it would atleast become palatable and would not go waste. ..and that was a very good decision as the halwa turned out to be a really tasty affair... Ingredients: Grated Ripe papaya - around 400-500 gms Ghee - 1/2 cup or slightly more as per your preference Sugar - 6-8 tbsp ( this depends on the sweetness of your papaya as well; hence would recommend to add spoon by spoon and check the taste) Unsweetened Mawa/Milk powder/Almond powder - 2-3 tbsp  Elaichi powder - 1/2 tsp Salt - a pinch Dry fruits like raisins and cashews - optional Method: Heat the ghee in a thick-bottomed kadhai and add the grated papaya. Mix it well. Keep it covered for 1

Satorya -stuffed mawa flatbread

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  Shravan is almost ending and so are the myriad festivals we witnessed this month. I am sure most of you would have gorged on a variety of sweets this month, especially the ever-favorite modaks :) Yes, I made the steamed ones, the fried ones, the mawa ones and then one fine day after having my fill of modaks, I decided to try my hand at making satoris. It is one of my favorite desserts ... after all who doesn't like sweets with a flaky crust covering soft mawa inside! Satori is a palm-sized small, flat bread stuffed with the goodness of mawa. I guess you can make satoris with other stuffings of your choice like coconut-jaggery mixture as well.  It is almost a lost traditional Maharashtrian recipe, not found in many places in the state as well.  However, I am glad that Chitale Bandhu in Pune are keeping this traditional sweet alive and kicking! I had forgotten about this delicious dessert when I was in Bangalore and now after relishing the store-bought ones,  I wanted to try making

Methi Theplas

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Methi theplas served with ghee, raswala tamatar batata nu shaak, dahi and aam chunda  Today we had a gujarati lunch of methi theplas served with various assortments as shown in the pic above. It is a yummy and healthy meal to relish and also a good change from our regular rotis. Theplas are a regular feature in my house  and I have been wanting to share this methi thepla recipe with you all for a long time now. The recipe is a keeper and comes from my mother-in-law who is born and brought up in Gujarat... So be assured that it is more or less an authentic gujarati recipe which you will cherish for the times to come. Theplas are good travel food as they keep fresh for a long time and are really convenient to pack in dabbas or just a foil wrap for a memorable journey :) The recipe does not use water and uses curds/oil and the moisture from its ingredients to give it a good shelf life. Ingredients: 1 cup  whole wheat flour 1/3 rd cup besan 2 tbsp raagi flour (optional, I like to sneak in

Memoirs of our Trek to Everest Base Camp: Day 1-3: Lukla --> Phakding --> Namche Bazaar

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The Everest Base Camp (EBC) Trek is a 14-day to and fro trek from Kathmandu that does not require any major mountaineering skills or tools for the journey, but it just requires some sheer will to hike on for long hours in the oxygen-sparse air and freezing temperatures of the region. Doesn't seem difficult, right? We were a lovely 4-member group who aspired to get to the base of the world's tallest mountain. A young woman from Germany, an experienced hiker from New Zealand and the two of us - the not so experienced hikers from India completed this group ;). We booked this trek with   Himalayan Social Journey (HSJ) through Luxury Escapes and ensured that we enjoyed a memorable and awe-inspiring two weeks of our lifetime!  A guide and a sherpa from HSJ accompanied us all along during the trek. We were allowed luggage of up to 12 kgs per person which was carried by our porters and we ourselves carried only some 3-4 kgs of essential supplies of clothes, food and water on our backs

Khamang Kaakdi (Cucumber salad)

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Summers in Pune are really scorching hot and what's better than a cucumber salad to cool your senses and perk up your taste buds at the same time! Today, I am going to share with you a simple recipe of Khamang Kaakdi that barely requires 5 minutes to assemble. You don't want to spend too much time in the heat of the kitchen, right? Also, this is another dish from the culinary repertoire of my childhood memories... Khamang Kaakdi is typically a Maharashtrian koshimbir recipe almost always served on auspicious occasions. I had eaten it as a kid many times in some or the other Marathi household or in a pangat in some function. It used to be served in small portions on the left side of the plate along with salt, lemon and chatni.  I had to keep asking the caterers/servers for more and more till my satiety was reached :) Khamang is a Marathi word which cannot be translated into English. It is somewhat like Umami  when all the flavours of food, especially a tadka, overpower your sens

Methamba (Instant Sweet & Spicy Raw Mango Preserve)

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The sweet and tangy - Methamba Summer is at its peak and I have got lots of kairis (raw mangoes) hanging down the tree in our backyard. These are the totapairi variety of kairis, really good for making pickles and preserves.  Last week, I made some panha using these kairis and kept aside one big one to make methamba. Although nowadays, we get kairis all throughout the year ( I seriously wonder how!), I try and consume them only seasonally. I am slowly and surely becoming a firm believer in eating seasonally! My husband loves methamba made from these kairis. I too just love the contrast of sweet, spicy and tangy flavours in this dish along with the richness of its colour. I first saw this methamba being prepared by MiL and got this easy recipe from her.  It is a quick recipe with a few ingredients which can be made in no time. Ingredients: Kairi - 1 big raw mango chopped into big pieces (try and go for the totapairi variety if you can) Oil - 1 tbsp Methi seeds - 1/2 tsp

Banana Sheera (Sooji ka halwa)

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Sheera Banana sheera or simply sheera is a much loved Indian dessert found in various avatars across our land. Different states and regions imparts a unique subtlety to this dish which gives us umpteen recipe options to try out from. I have grown up eating this dessert known as sheera, in Maharashtra. Some flavour it with bananas, some with just nuts and saffron and sometimes its flavour is just out of this world when it is served as Satynarayanacha prasad. The Satyanarayan pooja prasad, which is basically this sheera, requires a strict proportion to be followed for it to be qualified as a prasad. :) Years later, when I moved to Bengaluru, I tried this dessert known in that part of the land as Rava Kesari. I never made Rava Kesari at home but always relished it in the numerous breakfast joints of Bengaluru. A bright orange coloured rawa pudding glistening in ghee and served along with the savoury upma (the combo is known as Khara Bhaat) became my son's favourite dish too!

Kairichi chatni (Raw mango chutney)

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The season of India's favourite fruit has arrived, and one can spot abundant blossoms swaying merrily on mango trees these days. Tiny, raw mangoes hanging around in bunches waiting to ripen into succulent mangoes is a happy sight in my backyard as well. Amidst the gloomy lockdown, these blossoms re-instil the earnest hope in my heart that this too shall pass :) Under the Mango Tree... There is a proverbial saying "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade".  Now that raw mangoes are galore in the markets - what are you waiting for? Lay your hands on those raw mangoes and make chutney - its delicious, tangy and healthy too! Rich in vitamin A and C, calcium, iron, magnesium, etc. etc. it is the fruit to be savoured till the rain gods arrive. So here is a simple, quick-fix chutney recipe for your palate which is slightly sour (of course), slightly sweet and just yumm..umm..mm.. Ingredients (for 2 to 3 servings): Raw mango: 1 medium size Coc

Idli-Dosa Podi-aka Karappu

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Steaming idlis dipped in sambar served with a spoonful of ghee- tastes heavenly, right? Masala dosas served with an assortment of coconut, tomato and coriander chutneys takes the entire culinary experience to a different level, doesn't it? Well, the options of serving idli-dosas with are endless but have you tried these dishes with the podi yet? Idli-dosas tastes so good with this podi that inspite of making sambars, chutneys etc, this spicy  podi needs to make its appearance on my table every time I whip up either idlis or dosas. Well, I am talking about the red, slightly coarse, spicy podi (dry chutney) known as milagai podi, gunpowder, simply idli-dosa podi or Karappu as we call it in our house. Karappu stands for Khara = spicy and Uppu = Salt (tikhat-meeth or namak-mirch as we say in Marathi and Hindi respectively). If you are still wondering about the combustible gun powder I mentioned above then let me clarify that it is named so for the fiery punch it packs in a smal

Huli Palye - A classic dal recipe from my kitchen.

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Huli Palye (with Spinach and little Methi leaves) This is another classic Madhwa Bramhin recipe from my grandma's kitchen. Simple in its preparation, it is rich in nutrients and taste. Being a sattvik recipe, its a no-onion, no-garlic recipe. You cannot compare it with the quite popular "Dal Palak"recipe. The tempering of red chillies, curry leaves, methi seeds along with a dash of tamarind imparts a unique tempting flavour to this dal. This along with rice and a dollop of ghee or til oil is almost a complete meal in itself. Paired with a papad and a fried curd chilli, it can do wonders to your tastebuds. Without much ado, here is the recipe: 2.5 cups chopped greens like spinach, amaranthus or methi. I used 2 cups of spinach and a 0.5 cups of methi Toor dal - 1 cup Thick Tamarind pulp - 1 tbsp or more as per taste Turmeric powder - 1 tsp Chilli powder - 1 tsp (optional) Jaggery powder - 1 tsp (optional) Water - to adjust the consistency Salt- to taste

Fort 4: Weekend Trek to Raigad...Truly a Fort fit for a King!

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The Magnificent Raigad  Name:  Raigad (Formerly Rairi) Height:  4400 feet/1356 metres above sea level Trek Category:  Easy trek through the Maha Darwaza climbing 1737 steps Equipment required :  None but w ear appropriate trekking shoes for this trek Base Village(s):  Pachad and Raigadwadi  Distance from Pune : 132 kms from Pune, via Tamhini Ghat Road. Bad roads (till the ghats) lengthens the travel time to about 4+ hours  Time to trek uphill:  1-2  hours  approximately.  A Ropeway (trolley) is also available to get to the top of the fort.  https://www.raigadropeway.com/ticket.html Where to stay:  Staying overnight is possible in self-pitched tents or in one of the rooms or dormitories available there.  Booking site:  https://www.raigadropeway.com/accommodation.html Where to eat:  Carry your own food & water if possible as limited options are available.  Pithala bhaakri, vada pav, misal pav is usually available at the Sarja Hotel near the ropeway. Sometimes the vi