Thursday, January 5, 2012

Recipe - Brown Upma

Brown Upma

This is yet another delicacy in my in-laws’ place relished by all my brothers-in-law. Just yesterday, when I mentioned to my mother-in-law that I was making it, she was recalling how Seetha Athai used to make it on a large scale when all the kids went home for the holidays.

According to my mother-in-law, nobody can beat Seetha Athai in making this dish. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to meet this great lady and for me my mother-in-law’s version is the best. I can give my self 25% compared to my mother-in-law’s Brown Upma.

Actually this is made in my mother’s place also, but called Puli Upma and definitely not as soft and crispy (yes, it can be soft and crispy at the same time!) as my in-laws’ side version!

Now for the recipe:


Rice flour (அரிசி மாவு) - 1 cup
Tamarind (புளி) - size of a gooseberry
Chilli powder (மிளகாய்ப்பொடி / காரப்பொடி) - 1 ½ tsp
Turmeric powder (மஞ்சள் பொடி) - ½ tsp
Asafoetida (பெருங்காயத் தூள்) ) - ½ tsp
Mustard  (கடுகு) - ½ tsp
Broken Urad daal  (உடைத்த உளுத்தம்பருப்பு) - 1 tsp
Red chilli (காய்ந்த மிளகாய்) - 1
Green chilli (பச்சை மிளகாய்) - 1
Curry leaves (கருவேப்பிலை)  - 2 sprigs
Oil (எண்ணெய்) - 5 tbsp
Salt  (உப்பு)   - to taste


Squeeze the tamarind and extract the juice. Take the rice flour in a wide vessel, add the turmeric powder, chilli powder, asafoetida, salt to this. Mix well and add the tamarind juice to this mix well to make it into consistency of a thick paste. This mixture should not be like idly/dosa batter, but thicker than this. Take a wide kadai, add 2 tbsp of oil, add the mustard, when it crackles, add the urad daal. When the urad daal turns golden brown, add the red chilli and green chilli broken into pieces and the curry leaves. Spoon the paste into the kadai and leave it like this for 2 minutes. In these two minutes, the mixture would have semi cooked in the bottom of the kadai. Now keep turning the mixture in intervals of 2-3 minutes. Check and add the balance oil little by little. After about 7-8 minutes, the mixture would have become small ball sized particles. Keep breaking these balls into smaller pieces with the help of the sharp edged spoon. It is very important to ensure that all the pieces become a uniform size. Keep sautéing at regular intervals and add a little more oil if necessary. Once the whole thing becomes soft above with a crispy coating on the base of the kadai, tasty brown upma is ready to eat!

This is a very yummy snack during rainy season and quite filling!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Another Rangoli Competition

Another Rangoli Competition

This is the best acknowledgement I have received for my blogs so far. 

On 7th December, 2011 as I was leaving office, I got a call on my mobile. A lady spoke saying that she had seen my blog and would like to know if I can judge a Rangoli competition in their office.
For a second, I wasn’t sure if it was a crank call. I went on to ask her details of the kind of office, the competition and number of judges etc., not really taking her seriously.

Finally, I let myself agree to be the one and only judge for this competition in a software firm in Tidel Park, Thiruvanmiyur. This lady, Ahalya, said that one of her colleagues will call and take details of where to pick me up and advise me on the timings. The competition was supposed to be the next day.

Pat came the call from another girl in 30 minutes asking me if it will be convenient for me to come to their office on Monday, 12th December as the competition had been postponed to then.

Monday evening by 3.30 pm they sent a car to my office to pick me up. This was my first visit to Tidel Park and I was zapped by its sophistication.

I entered the office where the competition was being held (I was specifically requested by Ahalya not to mention the name of the company as it is against the company policy) and they were a young cheery lot!

Ahalya & her colleagues

It was quite a sight with the hi-tech cubicles with software people working on one side and a very traditional Rangolis being made on the other side!

Peacock almost ready

Half done peacock

Beautiful looking floral pattern

Another floral pattern in progress

Christmas theme rangoli

Ganesha done by a couple of guys

Another Ganesha

There were totally seven Rangolis with two participants per team. All the Rangolis were very nice and quite difficult to judge.

The interesting criterion was the presentation or the explanation of their Rangoli by the respective teams. In this the team who made the Ganesha Rangoli won hands down! Their explanation of the Ganesha and the ambigram were very nice.

Lovely Rangoli with an ambigram which reads LIFE here

The ambigram reads DEATH here

I could not give another prize to another Ganesha and this is the only reason the other Ganesha Rangoli team did not get a prize! Their presentation was also beautiful explaining the various colours they used!

The second prize was for the very beautiful peacock. It was very colourful and the presentation given here was good fun with the other colleagues asking the participants to explain the name of the tree on which the peacock was perched!

I had to give the special prize to the Christmas Rangoli as it was very different from the usual ones. At least I have never seen Christmas depicted on a Rangoli! The presentation made by this team was also nice with the explanation of how Christmas signifies joy and gifts, etc.

The two teams with different floral Rangolis were very nice but not unusual. The colour combinations were so beautiful that seeing the photos, my husband asked me why I had not considered one of these for the first prize.

Another Rangoli was also of a peacock, not so colourful but with many gradations of colour as the team explained. They also had done a good job especially with entering the fray at the last minute.

All in all, it was good fun and the organizers gave me a memento to take home. I thank Ahalya and her team for this opportunity.

I also thanked Geetharani  in our colony who had conducted the Rangoli competition last year which gave me entry into this new territory!

Sunday, January 1, 2012



I heard this discourse for the second time when there was a repeat telecast of Bhakti Thiruvizha in Mumbai on Vijay TV last week. This was by Professor Ilampirai Manimaran.

The Mahabaratha war is about the begin. Lord Krishna is resting in his room and Duryodhana comes to meet him. Krishna is aware of his arrival but feigns sleep. Duryodhana sits at Krishna’s head waiting for him to wake up. Arjuna arrives and seeing Krishna asleep, sits at his feet.

Krishna wakes up, sees Arjuna and asks him when he came. Arjuna replies that he had just come, but Duryodhana had been waiting there before him. Krishna looks at Duryodhana in surprise. Though Duryodhana had come first, Krishna says he saw Arjuna first and gives Arjuna the choice between Him and his soldiers (Narayani sena) as help for the battle.

Arjuna promptly chooses Krishna. Krishna underlines that if Arjuna chooses Him, it will be only Him and he will not take part in the battle. Arjuna humbly agrees and reiterates that Krishna is enough for them. Duryodhana who was worried lest Arjuna asks for Narayani sena, is very happy to hear this and accepts the other choice – Narayani sena

Duryodhana triumphantly boasts to Bheeshma that he opted for Krishna’s soldiers whereas the Pandavas had chosen just Krishna who will not even take part in the battle. A surprised Bheeshma asks Duryodhana again and again if Krishna said that he will not take part in the battle.

Finally Bheeshma says “Krishna will take his weapons in the battle”. A rattled Duryodhana says Krishna had promised not to do so. Bheeshma swears on his Brahmacharya vrata that Krishna will touch his weapons.

The battle is in full swing and on the 10th day Bheeshma is in the forefront fighting aggressively. The Pandava side is not able to handle the fierce Bheeshma and were falling rapidly. Seeing this, a worried Arjuna asks Krishna for guidance. Krishna jumps down from his sarathi seat on to the ground, wields his chakrayudha and runs towards Bheeshma. Bheeshma is shocked and stops momentarily.

Arjuna rushes behind Krishna and falls at his feet, requesting him to not kill his grandfather. Bheeshma prostrates in front of Krishna. Krishna’s chakrayudha vanishes and he goes back to Arjuna’s chariot.

Now Arjuna is able to take on the not so ferocious Bheeshma and defeat him.

The battle is over and Bheeshma is lying on his arrow bed waiting for Utharayanam to leave this world. It is the Tamizh month of Maasi, Sukla paksham, Ashtami thithi and the man who has been bestowed with the power of choosing his time of death, is ready for mukti. 

Lord Krishna and the Pandavas are standing around him. Seeing his favourite Lord, Bheeshma thinks that the Lord is so close, but he is not in a position to offer him some flowers. Lo and behold, a strong wind brings some wild thulasi to Krishna’s feet making Bheeshma happy. Bheeshma recites the Vishnu Sahasranama to Yudhishtra at his request.

Bheeshma asks Krishna “what is Satyam?” Krishna says Satyam is God. Bheeshma continues, “in that case, is God beyond Satya?” Krishna says “No” and then Bheeshma asks him, “in that case why did you break your Satyam in the battle? You had promised that you will not take part in the battle, but you took the chakrayudha.”

The ever smiling Krishna replies, “yes, I did take the chakrayudha, but I did not use it in the war and why did I do it? You, the man who in his youth, gave up the pleasures of the young for the sake of your father and took Brahmacharya vratha - when such a great person swears on his Brahmacharya vratha that Krishna will take part in the battle, I had no choice but to make your promise come true. In this my promise was not kept, but I had to keep your promise, this is why I took the chakrayudha. This also helped Pandavas as it reduced your ferocity and helped them defeat you!”

Such is the greatness of the benevolent God who is ready to sacrifice his promise for the sake of his bhakta!

Happy 2012!