Friday, December 30, 2011

Recipe - பச்சை புளியஞ்சாதம் (Instant Puliotharai)

பச்சை புளியஞ்சாதம் (Instant Puliotharai)

This is yet another recipe I learnt  from my mother in law, She does this for neivedhyam mostly.
The advantage is, of course, you can make this the moment you feel like having puliotharai!

Tamarind (புளி) - size of a big lemon
rice (அரிசி) - 1 cup
Sesame oil (நல்லெண்ணெய்) - 3 tbsp
Mustard (கடுகு) - 1 tsp
Broken Urad dall (உளுத்தம் பருப்பு) - 2 tsp
Channa dall (கடலை பருப்பு) - 2 tsp
Roasted groundnut (வறுத்த வேர்கடலை) - 2 tsp (optional)
Dry red chillies (காய்ந்த மிளகாய்) - 8 - 10 numbers
Curry leaves (கருவேப்பில்லை) - 2 sprigs
Turmeric powder (சமையல் மஞ்சள்பொடி) - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida powder (பெருங்காயம் பொடி) - 1/2 tsp
Salt (உப்பு) - to taste

1. Cook the rice and keep aside
2. Squeeze the tamarind with little water to make a thick juice. Please ensure the juice is not thin. We just need about 2/3 cup of thick juice, not more.
3. In a kadai, add 1/2 the quantity of sesame oil, add mustard and the broken pieces of dry chillies. Let the chillies darken a bit as the mustard crackles, add the urad dall, channa dall and then the groundnut. Switch off gas and add the turmeric powder, asafoetida powder and curry leaves.
4. Take the tamarind juice in a wide vessel useful to mix the rice, add the hot rice to this and immediately add the seasoning given above. Add the balance oil to this and salt to taste
Leave it for a few minutes before mixing well.
The tamarind juice kind of gets semi cooked with the hot rice and it will not taste raw.Your pachai pulianchaadam is ready to be eaten with vadam/pappad and just plain curd!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

December Season

December Season

Right from my first year of marriage, I have been watching my mother-in-law keenly following the December music season every year by marking the kutcheris she wanted to attend in the The Hindu dated December 01 featuring details of concerts in all the sabhas in Chennai. Earlier she used to attend at least 5-6 kutcheris at The Music Academy, Narada Gana Sabha and Sri Rama Bhakta Jana Sabha. Nowadays due to old age traveling alone is not possible, but she tries to attend at least a programme or two in Sri Rama Bhakta Jana Sabha.

Despite almost zero knowledge in classical music (I can only listen), my interest was slowly kindled by this over the years that I started bothering my husband to take me for a kutcheri or two. This happened a few years back. From that point onwards, I too started marking the concerts of musicians I like to hear, but alas, it just stopped with that and we managed to hear just one kutcheri of Sanjay Subramaniam at Bharat Kalachar during the season two years back. Inspite of four sabhas within 3 km radius of my office, I have not been able to attend any programme with my office work and other commitments - the same commitments that did not give me time/inclination to blog for the past few months. I thank you all for the number of hits I have been getting on my blog everyday which made me feel really guilty for not writing for some time. This year has been really busy with so many personal problems. Hope to be regular on blogging in 2012.

I have to mention here that Dorai Thatha and Rajeswari Chitti, avid music lovers and regular attendees of the season have been offering me a drama ticket for the 1st of January every year and I have never been able to make use of it.

This year also I kept aside the kutcheri schedule that came with The Times of India and selected 4-5 kutcheris. I have not been able to attend any of these, but out of sheer luck, Ranga got a couple of tickets for a kutcheri by Sudha Raghunathan in Chennayil Thiruvayaru at Kamarajar Arangam last Sunday.

We entered the auditorium to see the front hall full with various stalls of these sponsors and all hands were full with the pamphlets distributed by these people.

One thing I have always heard about was very true; the ladies were decked up like they were attending a wedding! Of course, the December music season in Chennai is almost like a family function for music lovers and they like to dress up so beautifully for the season!

We joined the long, long queue of lovely dressed women and men but were finally disappointed with the mess-up at the entrance. In spite of having a high priced ticket, we could get seats only very much at the back as the whole thing was disorganized. The organizers were so careless about the issue of tickets and seat allotment.

We finally settled in our seats and the concert that was supposed to begin at 7.30 pm finally started at 8 pm. Once it began, all was forgotten and Sudha Raghunathan’s singing mesmerized one and all! I liked her rendering of Nee Irangaayenil best. Katrinele varum Geetham was enjoyed by all present, but for me nobody can beat M S Subbulakshmi in that! Thani avarthanam was really nice and everybody enjoyed it!

Here is the song Nee Irangaayenil

Concert ended around 10 pm with Thalaivaari poochudi unnai.

We came out to have a glimpse of the Saiva Unavu Thiruvizha organized there. The food ranged from a typical South Indian food to chaats, pizzas, ice creams and sweets galore at Sri Krishna Sweets stall. Coffee was mainly from Narasu’s Coffee but was very disappointing. The smell of coffee engulfed us the moment we came out of the auditorium, but the taste was very mediocre! We did not get to taste any of the food in the stalls, but looking at people hogging, I am sure it must have been good!

There a huge apt banner of Kalyana Samayal Saadham scene featuring Ranga Rao as Gadothgajan.

Really nothing to beat the fun fare during December Season!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Krishna stories

Krishna stories

This is a little late for Krishna Jayanthi, but stories of Krishna never cease to spread cheer and happiness.

I would like to share a couple of cute stories I heard from the life of Lord Krishna in Gokulam amidst the Gopikas and in the love of Yashoda.

In the morning, Little Krishna wakes up to the sound of churning butter. Ever thrilled to see the half-awake Krishna, Yashoda greets him and the Lord walks sleepily to sit on his mother’s lap. Yashoda lovingly feeds Krishna. Suddenly she remembers that she has kept the milk on the stove. She leaves Krishna and rushes to the kitchen. Upset and angry that his mother left him halfway through the feed, Krishna kicks the pot of curd which Yashoda was churning and the curd flows on the courtyard.

The shocked Yashoda, threatens to tie Krishna to a pillar. Krishna keeps a sorry face and mock apologizes to his mother. He is the one who made the rule and hence has to follow it, the rule here being “the wrong-doer has to be punished”. Yashoda cajoles Krishna to help her tie him! The ever-obedient Krishna listens to his mother and allows to be tied to the pillar.


Shree Ananthapadmanabhacharyar narrated this story with a mimicry dialogue between the Lord and Yashoda. He also went on to explain the song “Ee yera malai kulungum”  "ஈ ஏற மலை குலுங்கும்" (mountain shakes under the weight of a fly climbing on it) by Kalamega Pulavar.

Kalamega Pulavar was given the above phrase and was asked to sing a song on it. Pulavar sang a beautiful verse explaining - Yashoda tied Krishna so many times that there was a wound on his waist. A fly sits on the raw wound and Krishna tries to shake it off. This Lord holds the whole Universe in him and the moment he shakes, the Universe, our Earth in it and the mountain on this Earth shakes, thereby explaining the phrase “ee yera malai kulungum

Another story by Thamal Ramakrishnan:

Here the Gopikas complain to Yashoda that Krishna steals butter from all their houses. Yashoda does not believe this as Krishna is with her all through the day. One Gopika is determined to prove that Krishna is a thief. She ties a bell to the butter pot before hanging it in the ceiling. She also keeps her doors open for Krishna to come and steal.

After a few rounds in the other houses in Gokulam, Krishna and his gang come to this Gopika’s house. Surprised to see the doors open, Krishna enters quietly and his friends promptly bend to stand one on top of other to enable Krishna to climb above them to reach the pot. Krishna notices the bell hanging. He promptly holds the bell’s clapper (tongue), takes the butter out and distributes it to his friends. After they have their fill, Krishna releases the bell clapper. He goes on to tell the bell, “I am going to use both my hands to take out the butter and eat my fill. You must be still and not make noise” The bell nods its agreement.

When Krishna puts both his hands inside the pot, takes out the butter and puts in his mouth, the bell rings loudly. Krishna scolds the bell and it replies meekly, “But Krishna, I am used to ringing when offerings are made to God and hence could not help myself.”

Alerted by the bell, the Gopika catches Krishna and takes him to Yashoda. She is holding Krishna’s hand in one of her own and the butter pot in the other. Being dragged at a speed, Krishna asks her to slow down as he is not able to keep up with her pace. As she is in a hurry to complain to Yashoda, the Gopika carries Krishna on her hip and makes him hold the pot. Krishna finds this position very convenient to finish off the balance butter in the pot!

The Gopika reaches Krishna’s house and calls for Yashoda asking her to come and see what she has brought! Yashoda comes out followed by a very cute looking Krishna.

Shocked to see Krishna with Yashoda, the Gopika checks her hip to find her own son sitting there! Such was maya Krishna’s presence all over Gokulam!

Friday, July 8, 2011

TV Programme - Vijay TV Bhakti Thiruvizha

TV Programme - Vijay TV Bhakti Thiruvizha

Yesterday’s episode of Bhakti Thiruvizha (Vijay TV) moved me to tears.

Professor Ilampirai Manimaran has been talking for the past four days on different stories from The Mahabharata. It is always very nice to hear the stories of Mahabharata.

Being Bhakti Thiruvizha, it has been basically about Lord Krishna’s part in the epic, but today, the concluding episode was about Karnan. It was not his full life history, but in general about what he is famous for – his generosity. 

Arjunan has beaten Karnan, but he is still alive. Arjuna is tired of piercing Karnan with his arrows, but he is not yet dead. Arjunan says so to his sarathy, Lord Krishna. Krishna with his mysterious smile says he will sort out the problem. He takes the form of an old Brahmin and goes to Karnan for alms. When Karnan feels sorry for his inability to give the Brahmin anything in the battlefield, Lord Krishna asks Karnan to give away all his good karma as alms. Without hesitation Karnan not only gives away all his good karma as dhaanam, but also gives away the good karma he will get because of giving away all his good karma when he is about to die! The Lord gives Karnan darshan and grants him his wish - how many ever janmas Karnan takes, he will be as generous as he is in this janmam as Karnan!
Lord Krishna comes back to Arjunan and instructs him to aim an arrow at Karnan now.

The Professor went on to explain how pathetic Karnan’s life was

The most important persons in one’s life are Maatha (Mother), Pitha (Father), Guru (Teacher) and Deivam (God).
In Karnan’s life, his mother Kunti deserted him right after birth by putting him in a box and leaving it in the Ganges river
Father Surya Deva is in the sky and not of much help
Teacher Parasuramar taught him everything, but cursed that he will forget the most important asthra prayogamGod, Lord Krishna, joining the opposition, took away his good karma

She also mentioned about the song by Kaviarasar Kannadasan in the Tamizh movie Karnan about his charity
 மன்னவர் பொருட்களைக்   கை கொண்டு நீட்டுவார் மற்றவர் பணிந்துக்  கொள்வார்
மாமன்னன் கர்ணனோ தன் கரம் நீட்டுவான் மற்றவர் எடுத்துக்கொள்வார்
வலதுகை கொடுப்பதை இடது கை அறியாமல்  வைத்தவன் கர்ண வீரன்
வறுமைக்கு மறுமையை வைத்ததோர் மாமன்னன் வாழ்கவே வாழ்க வாழ்க!

Usually when people give anything, the donor’s hand is above and receiver’s below. But Karnan will hold things in his hand and the beneficiary can pick up what he needs from him. Such was his generosity!

Karnan will always be remembered for his charity and Mahabharata is incomplete without his story!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Recipe - Vazhaithandu morkootu (வாழைத்தண்டு மோர்க்கூட்டு)

Vazhaithandu morkootu (வாழைத்தண்டு மோர்க்கூட்டு)

The stem of banana, Vazhaithandu is rich in fibre and is very good for health.
This healthy dish is quite common in my parents’ place and relished by all of us


Banana stem       - 1
Toor dall            - 2 tsp
Grated coconut   - ½ cup
Red chillies          - 3
Jeera                  - ½ tsp
Beaten curd       - ¾ cup
Salt                    - to taste

For seasoning
Oil                    - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds  - 1 tsp
Urad dall         - 1 tsp
Curry leaves     - a few

Soak the toor dall in a cup of water.
Cut the banana stem into tiny pieces and keep it soaked in water to which few teaspoons of buttermilk is added. This is to ensure that the stem does not blacken due to oxidation
Drain the buttermilk water, wash the cut vegetable once again and cook with some water.
Banana stem takes some time to cook. Add salt half way through. Ensure less salt is only added as this vegetable cannot take much salt.

Grind the coconut, soaked dall, red chillies and jeera with some water into a paste. Add this to the cooked banana stem. Keep stirring as this mixture will thicken very fast because of the toor dall in it. After 2-3 minutes, add the beaten curd and switch off gas after one boil

In a kadai add oil, coconut oil tastes very nice, but any cooking oil is okay. Add mustard seeds and when it splutters, add the urad dall. As soon as the urad dall becomes golden brown, take the kadai off the gas, add the curry leaves to it and then add the seasoning on the vegetable.
Delicious vazhaithandu morkootu is ready to eat!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Panguni (பங்குனி)

Panguni (பங்குனி)

Panguni is the last month of the Tamil calendar. This year it is from 14th March – 13th April

Karadayan nombu (காரடையான் நோன்பு)  

Panguni begins with Karadayan nombu which actually is observed on the last day of maasi just before the beginning of Panguni.

This nombu is also called Savitri nombu as it is being observed by the ladies for the welfare of their husbands following the footsteps of Savitri who fought with Yama and brought back her husband Satyavan to life!

Panguni and Thai are two months in the Tamizh calendar where the exact time of beginning of the month and not just the day is followed. For Thai, we usually check the time of the beginning to make the Thai pongal. For Panguni, the nombu is to be observed and the sacred yellow thread tied and the nombu adai offered to the Goddess just before the ending of Maasi and beginning of Panguni.

Usually ladies fast until the puja time and offer nombu adai both the sweet and salt variety along with butter to the Goddess and tie a yellow thread around their necks praying for the welfare and longevity of their husbands.

The prayer uttered is “உருகாத வெண்ணையும் ஓரடையும் நான் தருவேன், ஒரு நாளும் என் கணவன் என்னை பிரியாதிருக்க வேண்டும்"  meaning “I offer you non-melted butter and the adai, please ensure that I never get separated from my husband”.

After the puja, the ladies eat only the adai offerings as prasadam.

This year it was on 13th March late in the night.

Arupathimoovar (அறுபத்திமூவர்)

People of Chennai are quite familiar with the Aruvathimoovar festival which takes place in Mylai Kapaleeswarar Temple.

The ten-day festival which transforms Mylapore completely concludes on Panguni Uthiram day with the celebration of the wedding of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi. There is a procession of the 63 prime devotees of Lord Shiva on the eighth day, giving the festival the name of Arupathimoovar.

This year Arupathimoovar festival began on 10 March and concludes on 19 March. Here is the programme list for this year's festival. (kind courtesy: my sister Jayashree)

Panguni Uthiram (பங்குனி உத்திரம்)

The combination of the star Uthiram and full moon day in the month of Panguni is known as Panguni Uthiram.
Panguni Uthiram is a day which at home we call “wedding day of the Gods” as on this day the wedding of Shiva and Parvathi is celebrated as part of Arupathimoovar as mentioned above.

 Also wedding of Lord Muruga to Deivaanai and  Valli  is celebrated on this day.

Wedding of Lord Mahavishnu and Mahalakshmi is also celebrated on this day.

Special pujas take place in Siva, Vishnu and Murugan temples on this day.
This year Panguni Uthiram is on 19th March .

Ugadhi (யுகாதி)

The Telugu New Year’s Day is called Ugadhi. This year Ugadhi is on 4th April

Sri Rama Navami (ஸ்ரீ ராம நவமி)

The combination of Navami thithi and Punarpoosam star is celebrated as Sri Rama Navami, birthday of Lord Rama.

Special pujas are conducted in temples and homes with items like neermoru, panagam and kosumalli (salad) offered to the Lord. As this is the beginning of summer, we can see that the food offered is ideal to quench one’s thirst and refresh him!
This year Sri Rama Navami falls on 12th April

Monday, March 14, 2011

Women's day gala in the colony

Women's day Gala

The Rangoli competition was followed by the Women’s day gala yesterday.
The stalls were put up on Saturday itself and right from morning many residents including me were peeping in to see if the stalls are getting filled.
At 10 am, I could see about 5-6 stalls which increased by the hour and ended up with a total of more than 20 by noon. There was a general lull in the afternoon with the maximum crowd in the foodstall which took care of the sales people’s lunch. By 4.30 pm the whole colony was down at the stalls looking at the different products available for sale!

 The products varied right from cars to toys for kids. with scooty, cycles, computers, invertors, water purifiers, tata photon whiz, whirlpool products, roti making machines, summer camp, herbal products from Amirthanandamayi mission, cosmetic products from Oriflame and a few other companies, a variety of products from Amway, Tupperware containers, household cleaning solutions, salwars and bedspreads, kids clothes, fancy jewellery, readymade custard powders and rice mixes, caps & purses, plants and so on.

Car stall

Scooty stall


Health care products

Tortilla - roti maker


Herbal products from Amritanandamayi mission





Stall selling bags, caps and purses

Household cleaning solutions

Oriflame products


Tata photon

Fancy jewellery

Amway products

Clothes for kids

Summer camp with a sample work on display

Salwars, bedspreads etc
People looking at the stalls

The food counter had a huge space and took care of the evening snacks of chat, boli, tea, coffee and fruity and also dosa/chapatti for dinner.

Food counter 

Chaats available

As a few of the organizers were trying to conduct games for children, ladies from the Oriflame stall came forward to conduct games for the ladies as this was Women’s day special. They had quite a few games in which we ladies took part enthusiastically!
They gave out Oriflame kits as prizes too!

A game where the ladies were asked to burst others' baloons

Game where the ladies were asked to call out their team names and join the team!

Game where the best impression of lips on paper won the first prize, right side the men are judging
The best dressed lady was chosen by Oriflame and Mrs. Parvathy won the prize!

Singing ability of a few ladies also came out in the open as they were requested to show their talent!

The kids were restless as they did not have much activity. Hence the car stall people conducted a couple of games for them to keep them engaged

Kids enjoying !
The snack counter was full of people trying to have a bite of the chaat items between the fun activity!

Prizes for the rangoli competition were also distributed with special prizes for the first three places and participation prize for all the contestants!

Finally a few kids danced to the film music and it was good fun to watch

All in all it was a very entertaining day!