Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Panchgani & Wai - When the day trip plans to Mahabaleshwar went south :)

If there is one thing that I learnt from the one day trip that we planned to Mahabaleshwar last weekend, it is not to plan any trips to the popular destinations during the festive season or long weekends. It is just a waste of time and effort, not to mention the petrol that is burnt by waiting for minutes and sometimes even hours together, for the traffic to move a few (read 2-3) kilometers.. Yes, that is exactly what happened to us last weekend. We planned for a one day trip to Mahabaleshwar and started as early as 8 am (as we could :)) from Pune. 

We stopped for a quick breakfast at one of the many Vithal Kamat restaurants that don the Pune-Bangalore highway. But as this weekend was just two days after Diwali and since the schools were closed for these two weeks, it was just a throng of people everywhere. What was planned as a pitstop turned out to be a long wait of nearly an hour of breakfasting for us. Lessons learnt, always pack food when you are on a short trip as this saves a lot of time and helps you to cover more places in a day ;)

Though there were more vehicles (cars) plying than usual, the traffic up till Wai was smooth. We even rode up the ghat road in the normal pace. But just about five kilometers before reaching Panchgani, the traffic almost came to a standstill. It took us nearly half an hour to move two kilometers and Google Map was showing even worse traffic ahead. It showed nearly 2 hours to reach the Mapro Gardens in Mahabaleshwar which was just 15 kilometers from where we were. That is when we decided to take a detour and visit the Table Land in Panchgani (Satara district of Maharashtra). 


View from the Table Land

A table land is nothing but a plateau or to put it even more simpler, is a mountain with a flat top. That is what this table land in Panchgani is too. It is a vast expanse (around 6 km) of flat laterite rock surrounded by hills. It is the highest point in Panchgani and this volcanic plateau is Asia's second longest mountain plateau after Tibetan plateau. The table land offers an aerial view of Panchgani and the valleys nearby. You need to pay a pollution tax of Rs 50 (for car) for the entry to Panchagni and.... 




This place is much hyped coz of some of the Bollywood movies like Taare Zameen Par, Raja Hindustani and many more that were shot here. You can spend a decent 30-45 minutes here walking to the far end or the other side of the plateau. During the day time it is a bit hot and can be a little uncomfy walking in the plateau. But I have read in some other blogs that a walk through the plateau in the evening is very pleasant and watching the sunset from here is also a nice sight.





Horse riding is quite famous here but if you are travelling with kids I suggest you to be little more careful as we ourselves saw a father-daughter duo fall off from the horse while they were trying to ride the horse. Also a few years back, a girl was killed in an accident as the horse carriage fell off the table land and horse riding was banned here for a while, back in 2012. 



We spent around 1 1/2 to 2 hours here in Table land walking through the plateau, clicking pics and having some tender coconut and all. Then we started back to see if the traffic had become better and if we could reach Mahabaleshwar. But it was as worse as before and we saw that the return traffic was also getting equally worse and so we started back to Pune. We rode down the Ghat and reached Wai and stopped there to have lunch.

It was then that we decided to visit Nana Phadnavis Wada in Menawali. Menawali village is just about 3 kilometers from Wai. Nana Phadnavis, an influential statesman of the Maratha empire, settled here in this village in the late 18th century and built his large residence on the banks of the Krishna river. It has a Wada (mansion with an inner courtyard), a Ghat (steps leading from the mansion to the Krishna river) and two temples, one dedicated to Lord Shiva (Meneshwar) and another to Lord Vishnu. 



Menawali Ghat
Rear entrance to the Wada

This place became quite famous as many Bollywood movies like Swades, Dabaang, Bajirao Mastani were shot  here. It is a beautiful location but not at all maintained. It was quite a feat to cross the dirty water and reach the Shiva temple in the Menwali (Krishna) Ghat. You then ascend some steps to reach the landing of the Shiva temple and again descend some steps (It was quite dark and we had to use mobile light to find our way down) to reach the Shiv Linga below. 



Shiva (Meneshwar) Temple

You will never realise that there is such a beautiful (yet very poorly maintained) place when you ride through the village (but looks more like a town). We parked our car in a small open ground and walked around what looked like the backyard of some houses and landed upon the Menwali Ghat (steps). We did not enter the Wada but spent around 30-40 minutes visiting the Shiva temple and clicking pics and checking around :)



It was close to 6 pm by the time we were done with the wada and so decided to get back home as we did not want to get stuck in the traffic again :) If you plan to visit on a normal weekend when the traffic is less, there are many more places to be visited in Panchgani. Maybe some other time when possible. Hope you enjoyed reading what we did when our plan to visit Mahabaleshwar went south :) Till next time when I'm back with my practical travels..

Cheers,
Chitz

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Methi Paratha | Methi Roti | Methi ka Paratha | Fenugreek Leaves Flat bread


Are you a fan of methi? Well, I looove kasuri methi (dried methi leaves).. It definitely takes the North Indian dishes up a notch :) But the raw methi leaves? I like it if they do not have the bitter taste. The 'Methi Malai Mattar' is one of my fav recipes using methi. So what many suggest is to soak methi leaves in salt water for 10 minutes and then to drain and use so that the bitterness is reduced. But what my mom says is that the nutrients will be lost if we are doing like that :D 

Still at times I do soak the methi in salt water and use coz otherwise it is very difficult to get me and my family to finish the dish :D And the exception is this paratha.. Here I use fresh methi leaves as such and I do not get that bitter taste in the paratha at all. And that's one more reason why I love making this paratha often :) I sometimes make in bulk and have them as a snack when hunger pangs strike :) It is healthy and also methi reduces your blood sugar level and is really good for diabetic patients as well as those with PCOS. But do not go overboard in a day too :) And now off to the recipe then..



I Took: 

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

 

Makes : 6 small sized parathas


I Used:


Atta/Whole Wheat Flour - 1 cup
Fresh Methi Leaves - ½ cup - chopped
Green Chilli - 1 small sized - finely chopped
Ajwain/Carom Seeds - ¼ tsp
Garam Masala - ½ tsp
Oil - 2 tsp
Salt - As Needed
Water - Slightly less than ½ cup
Oil/Ghee - To roast the Chapathis


The Way:


1. Pluck the leaves off the stalks of the methi. Rinse the leaves well (2-3 times) in water. Drain them completely. Then chop the methi leaves finely and keep aside

2. In a bowl, take the atta and salt. Mix well

3. Then add the finely chopped green chilly, ajwain, garam masala, chopped methi leaves and 2 tsp oil and mix

4. Pour water little by little and knead to a smooth dough

5. Now once kneaded, divide them into 4-6 equal sized small balls. I love them small and hence make 6 parathas out of this quantity of atta

6. Dust the dough ball with some flour and then roll the parathas using a rolling pin. You can roll it thin or thick as desired. I keep it as thin as I can :)


7. Meanwhile heat a tawa. When the tawa is hot enough (you can see the flames starting to come), place one rolled paratha on it and allow it to cook

8. After a few seconds (around 15-20) flip the paratha and apply the oil/ghee (a few drops) and allow to cook for a few seconds

9. Then flip again and apply oil/ghee on the other side as well

10. Flip again a couple of times till the paratha is evenly cooked and has brown spots. Press the edges of the paratha with a spatula so that it gets cooked 


11. Repeat the same with the other dough balls and serve them warm with pickle and curd

Notes:

  • You can make the atta and methi leaves ratio as 1:1 as well. I like it 1:½ so keep it that way
  • If you do not like ajwain, you can omit them
  • Can add chopped garlic (2-3 cloves) if you like. Play around the flavours as you like
  • Use fresh methi leaves for a good tasty paratha
Cheers,
Chitz

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Kothamalli Thogayal | Thick Coriander leaves Chutney | Kothamally Thovaiyal without coconut for Rice


Back in Chennai, I used to get coriander leaves for even as less as some 8-10 stalks. But here in Pune, it is not like that. You get to buy only a whole big bunch and that too doesn't stay great for a long time even after refrigerating. That was when my mom suggested making thogayals with them for storing them better :) Deeps is a fan of this thogayal and he loves to pair it with curd rice. And you know what I would like to pair it with.. Yes, rasam sadam :) Or simply mix it up with rice and add a little bit of sesame oil too to the rice and that too would taste yum and heavenly. And for many it doesn't actually feel like having greens as such coz the other spices does that effect to the coriander and leaves you with a yummy condiment. Not that I do not like coriander leaves, ok :) So let's see how to make this then..


Recipe Source: Ma

 

I Took: 

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

 

Makes : ¾ cup


I Used:


Oil - 4 tsp
Coriander leaves - 2 ½ cups (tightly packed)
Urad Dal - 4 tbsp
Red Chilly - 3 nos
Asafoetida - ¼ tsp
Tamarind - ½ tsp
Salt - As Needed

The Way:


1. Clean the coriander leaves by removing the roots and a little bit of the thick stem at the bottom. We need only the tender ones and not the thick stem. Then rinse them well in water to remove the mud and dirt. Drain them and keep aside. Use fresh leaves for making this thogayal. Avoid the yellow coloured leaves or the old ones

2. Heat the oil in a pan/kadai. Add the urad dal and red chilly and saute on a medium flame. Keep roasting them till the urad dal turns to golden colour. This should take around 3-4 minutes

3. Now add the asafoetida and give a quick stir

4. Then add the tamarind and saute for 2-3 minutes till they become soft and moist


5. Now add the cleaned coriander leaves and saute for a minute or two till the leaves wilt. Once done switch off the flame and allow them to cool

6. Once cooled, take them in a blender/mixie and add needed salt and grind them coarsely. If needed you can grind to a smooth paste. But we like them coarsely ground. Do not add water (if needed, maybe 2-3 tbsp but not more). This reduces the shelf life and changes the texture 


7. Transfer to a bowl and serve with rice and rasam or curd 

Notes:

  • Use fresh coriander leaves for a tasty thogayal. Old leaves will surely compromise the taste
  • This thogayal will stay good for 3-4 days if refrigerated in a clean container
  • You can add coconut also to this thogayal. But would recommend to have it the same day itself
  • Can add channa dal too. If adding adjust the urad dal quantity accordingly.  Would need around 4 tbsp of both the dals combined 
  • Can add jaggery too if preferred. Adjust quantity to balance to the level of sweetness that you need. Would recommend around 1 tsp
Cheers,
Chitz

Monday, 29 October 2018

Eggless Pumpkin Muffins | Halloween Special Pumpkin Cupcakes | Eggless Pumpkin Cupcakes


It's that time of the year when it starts to feel the chill and the kiddo's rhymes are always beginning and continuing and ending with Halloween :) And occasionally I can hear "Where's Santa Claus?" too from him ;) We live in India but with those rhymes and those carved pumpkins and everything he sees on TV, he's slightly obsessed with Halloween. Always asks me now to keep Halloween rhymes or asks me to sing them for him :) And he loves cakes. 

So to make it little bit more exciting for us, I decided to make a pumpkin muffin for us. It's an easy peasy recipe, like my most recipes.. Mix the dry ingredients and mix the wet ingredients. And mix them both. Voila. The job is done.. And it is eggless too.. And what's that made me more happy was that Deeps too loved it, see he has not got a sweet tooth especially for cakes. That made me really happy and the 9 cupcakes that I made in the evening got over by the night :) So shall we see how to make this yummy tasty pumpkin muffins..



Recipe Source: Here


Preparation Time : 15 minutes

Cooking Time : 10+25 minutes (pre-heat+baking)


Makes : 9 medium sized muffins 


I Used:


Unsweetened Pumpkin Puree*-1 cup 
All purpose flour/Maida*-½ cup
Baking Soda-¼ tsp
Baking Powder
Cinnamon powder
Dry Ginger powder
Salt
-
-
-
-
2 tsp
1 tsp
1 tsp
A pinch
Sugar-¼ cup
Unsalted Butter (melted)-6 tbsp (approx 3/8 cup)
Butter Milk*-½ cup
Apple Cider Vinegar-½ tsp

The Way:


1. For 1 cup of pumpkin puree, you need 1 cup of cubed pumpkins. Peel the skin and remove the seeds. Then cube them and take them in a pressure cooker. Add 
¼  cup of water and pressure cook them for 2 whistles. Once the pressure is released, see if any water is remaining. If then drain them and mash the pumpkins to a puree. You can do that in a blender or use a masher. Once done, keep aside


2. Pre-heat the oven o 180 degree C

3. Take all the dry ingredients - all purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon powder and dry ginger powder and salt in a bowl and whisk well. Then set aside

4. In another bowl take the melted butter, sugar, pumpkin puree, apple cider vinegar and  butter milk and whisk them well



5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Do not over mix

6. Line the muffin tray with the muffin liners. Spoon the batter into the liners. About 2 tbsp for each liner should be good enough



7. Bake them at 180 degree C in the pre-heated oven for about 25-30 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted at the centre comes out clean

8. Once done, cool them for about half an hour and serve


Notes:

  • The original recipe calls for self rising flour. If you are using them then omit the salt and reduce the baking powder to 1 tsp
  • If you have pumpkin spice powder then use 2 tsp of them instead of the cinnamon powder and dry ginger powder
  • Instead of buttermilk I mixed ½ tbsp vinegar in ½ cup of milk and allowed it to stand for 5 minutes. Then used this in place of buttermilk
  • You can use normal vinegar too instead of apple cider vinegar

Cheers,
Chitz

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Channa Sundal | Kondakadalai sundal | White Chickpeas Sundal | Navarathri Recipes


Today being the first day of Navarathri this year, I though I should post a sundal recipe. Sundal makes a healthy snack and very easy to prepare as well. Just cook the legume/pulses and then add tadka/tempering to it. Tada! done.. Generally on the nine days of Navarathri festival, nine varieties of sundal is offered as neivedhyam (offering) to God during the evening pooja. I do not do gollu at my place, but definitely go on golu hopping whenever I can. It is fun and who can say no to tasty sundals and yummy payasams (kheers), right:) So off to the recipe for the most easiest and my favourite sundal, Channa Sundal...


Soaking Time : 8 hours

Cooking Time : 20 minutes


Serves : 2 


I Used:

Channa/Kondakadalai - ½ cup
Coconut - 3 tbsp
Salt - As needed

To temper:

Oil - 1 tsp
Mustard - ½ tsp
Urd Dal - 1 tsp
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Red Chilly - 2 nos - broken
Curry leaves - 1 sprig


The Way:

1. Rinse and soak channa in water overnight or for at least 8 hours. If you are hard pressed for time, then soak channa in hot water for 3-4 hours

2. Now take the soaked channa in a pressure cooker. And pressure cook for 4-5 whistles or until done. The channa should not be under cooked or over cooked. It should be soft and hold it's shape after cooking

3. In a pan, heat oil. Temper mustard


4. Add urad dal and fry till it changes colour. Then add the broken red chilly, asafoetida and curry leaves. Take care not to burn

5. Now add the cooked channa (without the water) to the tempering. Gently stir for 2 minutes till the moisture content in the channa evaporates and it becomes dry

6. Then add the grated coconut and give a gentle stir. Switch off the flame and serve


Notes:

  • Red chilly can be replaced with green chilly
  • Can also crush coconut and green chilly together and add 
Cheers,
Chitz

Friday, 5 October 2018

Oven Roasted Broccoli | How to roast Broccoli in Oven


I love playing with my oven. But for quite a long time, it was playing with me. Now all is well for a while (*touchwood*) and I absolutely love playing with it :D And with broccoli it's a nuetral relationship as of yet. It is not too love or too hate. I can have in moderation. And the taste should be well balanced. If it's too raw like or bland I can't take it :D And I don't like too much of Indian spices in broccoli either. Yes, i am like a fussy toddler when it comes to broccoli :D

And yes, I do have a fool proof, easy peasy recipe to roast broccoli in oven. It is easy as well as kickass :) You will love it for the simplicity of making it as well as the taste :) Play around with the ingredients as per your preference. If you like more chilli flakes than pepper powder, then go ahead with that. The recipe is quite versatile that way as well. So shall we see how to roast broccoli in oven?



Preparation Time : 15 minutes

Cooking Time : 20 minutes


Serves : 2-3 persons 


I Used:

Broccoli
Olive Oil
-
-
1 cup
2 tbsp
Garlic Salt - 1 tsp
Pepper Powder - ½ tsp
Chilli Flakes - ½ tsp
Oregano (or Mixed Herbs) - ½ tsp

The Way:


1. Pre heat oven at 200 degree Celsius

2. In a bowl, mix together olive oil, garlic salt, pepper powder, chilli flakes and oregano

3. Add the broccoli florets to it. And give a nice toss

4. In the baking tray, lay a cookie sheet. Then place the broccoli florets on the sheet

5. Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. In between turn each of the florets so that it gets cooked evenly. Make sure they do not burn and are just caramelized


Serve hot!

Notes:


  • You can immerse the florets in warm salt water for some time if you like. This will kill any worms if present in the broccoli
  • If you do not have garlic salt, then substitute with normal salt and 3-4 cloves of finely chopped garlic or an equivalent garlic paste
  • If you want the broccoli to be cooked al dente then cook for 10-15 minutes  
  • You can also toss in some parmesan cheese once the florets are roasted and before serving
Cheers,
Chitz

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Lemon Pickle | Instant Lemon Pickle | Boiled Lemon Pickle | Elumichai Urugai | Instant Naranga Achar


I know many of you are not fan of lemon pickle. Even I am not. But the hubby devours this pickle. That is why I make this at least once a year. It is very simple and easy to make. Just make sure that you do not boil the lemons for a long time. Else it will start oozing out all juice and the pickle tends to become very sour. You need to boil just enough to make them soft so that the flavours sink in nicely :) And as far as possible do not use a plastic container to store the pickles. It tends to get spoilt very fast. So let's now see how to make this easy to make, instant lemon pickle, shall we?



Preparation Time : 15 minutes

Cooking Time : 10 minutes


Recipe source : Ma


Makes : A 300 gm bottle 


I Used:


Lemon-Around 10-12 normal sized ones
Salt-As Needed
Gingelly Oil-¼ Cup
Mustard-1 tsp
Asafoetida-2 tsp
Red Chilly Powder-1 tbsp
Turmeric Powder-½ tsp
Mustard -2 tsp
Fenugreek-2 tsp
Mustard-Fenugreek powder-½ tbsp



The Way:


1. In a pan dry roast the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds for 4-5 minutes on low flame. Take care not to burn them. It starts giving a nice aroma and also the mustard will start spluttering. Then off the flame. Allow it to cool and powder them in a clean and dry mixer jar. You can grind this powder in bulk and use it for all of your pickles


2. Rinse the lemons nicely in water. Then pat it dry using a kitchen towel. Then cut the lemons into 4 pieces. Then take the cut pieces in a pan. Add required salt and give a mix. Then boil them in medium flame for 3-4 minutes till they become soft. Then switch off the flame

3. Take a pan and heat the gingelly oil (nallennai). Now reduce the flame. Splutter the mustard seeds

4. Then add asaoetida, don't go stingy here :) Add it liberally

5. Now add red chilly powder, turmeric powder and saute for a minute


6. Pour this tadka on to the boiled lemon pieces

7. Give a nice mix and then add the pickle powder - mustard and fenugreek powder and give a nice stir. Pickle is ready 


8. Store the pickle in a clean, dry, glass container. You should be able to see oil floating on the top of the container else chances of the pickle getting spoilt are very high. Leave in a clean place for a day or two for the flavours to soak in and then refrigerate it

Notes:

  • Do not boil the lemon for a long time. It will ooze out all the juice and the pickle will become very sour. Just to make them a little soft is fine
  • Store in a clean and dry glass container for longer shelf life
  • Refrigerate if possible after a day of making the pickle for longer life
  • Always use a clean dry spoon to take the pickle from the bottle
  • Allow a layer of oil on top of the container for longer life and it prevents from mold formation on top of the pickle

Cheers,

Chitz