Friday, 21 December 2007


Christmas season around here has caught us also in its frenzy.It is the same feeling as we get while walking through the markets in Deepavali or Dasara looking for the things we need for the festivities.

I grew up studying in the Christ the King Convent . Best years of my life they were where we did celebrate Christmas decorating the Tree with loads of chocolates only to pluck them on 23rd . Sang songs in praise of the Lord, never thought twice about whom we were singing about and why. When my girls say we want to grow up fast I say what my parents said... Childhood is the best, but they nevertheless want to grow up fast as I did ....

I had decided that this year my girls will know about Santa but they seem to be so excited about Santa's coming this year I could not say anything... so my hunt for presents to act as Santa has begun.Today being the last day of their school . I did manage packing them and hiding them till Santa comes through the window in our house as we don't have a chimney.It is easier for them to gel in with the peers here if they also believe in what the whole class does. It is not easy on us to keep reminding them that we don't worship Jesus and we do have a God , and keep telling stories, but it isn't really easy on them and we don't intend to impose anything on them till they do understand the complexities of life themselves... hardly an age to worry about existence of god and which religion to practice.I just do it for the wonderful smile they have on seeing the presents and the excitement of opening it. The happiness is contagious.

From November onwards, it is impossible to forget that Christmas is coming. Coloured lights decorate many town centres and shops, along with shiny decorations, and artificial snow painted on shop windows. In the newspaper I read a nice letter to the editor saying that it is too much commercial now a days that people have started thinking of Christmas from August... so there might be a time when people finish all shopping by October and think... oh Gosh!!! Christmas is late this year.

Father Christmas is based on a real person, St. Nicholas, which explains his other name 'Santa Claus' which comes from the Dutch 'Sinterklaas'. Nicholas was a Christian leader from Myra (in modern-day Turkey) in the 4th century AD. He was very shy, and wanted to give money to poor people without them knowing about it. It is said that one day, he climbed the roof of a house and dropped a purse of money down the chimney. It landed in the stocking which a girl had put to dry by the fire! This may explain the belief that Father Christmas comes down the chimney and places gifts in children's stockings. I did not know that Father Christmas actually wore green clothes (various colours says wikipedia) till the COCA COLA company decided to change the dress to RED to endorse their product.. Green meant prosperity but now hardly anybody knows about the Green Santa outfit.

In Romania,( may be in other few countries too, I know about Romania) people still Celebrate 6th December as St. Nicholas day where in the kids clean their shoes and place it near the door for the saint to leave them some presents. It was fun teaching them how to clean their shoe and their excitement of St.Nick coming in the night when all the doors are locked.

Well, thats it from me today... have a great weekend ahead and good Christmas.... will catch up soon.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007


Last night , saw the programme Dispatches - How safe are your Christmas toys on Channel 4.It was definitely an eyeopener for me.It dealt with the harm the toys which have magnetic components. It showed a few cases where the components could kill or seriously injure the children who swallowed them.

It was really shocking to know that the magnets inside the body can be attracted to each other through the gut wall , causing a tear in the bowel and pinning the different areas of intestine.. they even showed a picture of line of magnets from the intestine of a 9 yr old.

Dispatches programme actually revealed that many of the top-selling toys like Polly Pocket had the power similar to one of the big bars which we usually use in labs for demonstration.
The investigation revealed that the same hazards occur again and again: choking, strangulation, poisoning, and hidden sharp edges, and despite several complaints the authorities had not taken any action they said.

It is not necessary that all the kids who play with magnetic toys will be harmed but isn't it better to be safe and know the problem.As parents we should tell the children who are in the age to understand what problems can be caused by a few of the toys they have. and be careful for the younger kids so that they don't accidentally hurt themselves.

Thought this is a article worth sharing.

Excerpts from the channel4 website:

But it's not just cheap toys which pose a danger. Dispatches reveals that many top-selling toys incorporate a type of tiny but powerful magnet, a component that the toy companies now know can kill and seriously injure children who swallow them. The film shows how the companies have carried on using these magnets despite hundreds of complaints worldwide from parents including dozens whose children have needed emergency surgery for life threatening injuries.The magnets are a key feature in many of this Christmas's most popular toys.

The existing regulations means there's nothing illegal about this. Indeed it could be another two years before the EU's safety standards are updated to take account of this danger
The magnets - in use in many toys - can fall out during the course of play. They are tiny and easily swallowed. If a child swallows two or more so that they are in different parts of the gut, they will attract each other through the gut wall, pinning different areas of intestine to each other, and rupturing the bowel. One British surgeon tells Dispatches the injuries are similar to: 'gunshot wounds.'

Dispatches has tracked down details of dozens of children around the world injured after swallowing this type of magnet. One of the first victims tells Dispatches that in 2000 when she was nine years old she collapsed and started vomiting green bile after accidentally swallowing twelve of these tiny magnets while pretending they were lip studs. Doctors told her mother that she would have died without an emergency operation.Interviewed by Dispatches, the surgeon who saved her life said he was surprised and shocked the magnets are still being used. 'Obviously toy manufacturers don't read medical literature."But she wasn't the only victim.

Over a period of three months in 2000 doctors in the same city in the UK treated 23 other children in the casualty department who had injured themselves whilst playing with magnets. The medical team were so alarmed they wrote three papers for leading medical journals to warn of the dangers posed by these magnets.
Worldwide, the toy industry did little until a child died in the US in 2005. Since then a number of companies have recalled products where magnets were particularly vulnerable to being detached, but the use of magnets has remained widespread.This summer the British Toy and Hobby Association issued a warning saying all toys containing these magnets should carry a warning on the box, but Dispatches went into leading toy shops all over the country and found the vast majority of these best-selling toys are still not being labelled.

Dispatches also investigates how slowly the EU is acting. It could be another two years before they introduce safety standards to cover magnets. And Dispatches has discovered some experts believe these standards still won't prevent children being injured.

Signing off for today.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Green Dosa

My girls love Pesarattu and they named this is Green dosa....

I continue the dosa variety post with one more today ....

Pesarattu is a Andhra delicacy, nutritious and tasty . I first tasted it in a friends place she served it the authentic way with upma and ginger chutney.. I however prefer it just the dosas with normal coconut chutney.Mung beans are very rich in protien and are quite a good source of vitamin C ,It is ideal as breakfast since the fat content is very low and dietary fiber is high.
It is easy to make and does not need any fermenting.

2 cup whole mung beans (green gram)
1/2 cup rice1 inch ginger2 green chillies
1 spoon jeera (cumin seeds)
1 onion finely chopped (optional)
salt to taste

Soak the Whole mung beans and rice for about 5 to 6 hours . Grind with ginger, green chillies , cumin and salt .Add water as required to the dosa batter consistency Spread on a hot non stick pan and sprinkle some oil.(add chopped onions if you like and cover the dosa for the onions to steam)
Serve with coconut chutney.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


I have many a times had problems with the coconut I buy from the asian stores.Here is a
simple and quick way for coconut chutney. It tastes almost (if not completely) like fresh coconut chutney.

1 cup dessicated coconut powder

3 spoons of coconut milk
1 spoon cumin seeds
2 spoons fried gram dal ( chuntney dal,phutana)
2 green chillies or red chillies
salt to taste
curds/tamarind paste

Grind all the above ingredients to a paste with some water . In a small pan prepare a seasoning of mustard seeds, red chillies, chanadal, urad dal and curry leaves. It tastes yummy served with dosas or idlis.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Dose , Dosa,,,, some varieties

Creativity????whats that???After children are born the creativity in the parents dictionary is the talent how to fold the nappies so that they do not leak, how to fit in every possible thing in the baby bag,how to manage time between feeds and washes, how to feed without a fuss by the baby and then when they start growing how to make them eat without frowning or going hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm over it...

My creativity was purely out of necessity to make the food look great.... one such is Number dosa . Dosas made of normal batter but in the shapes of their years.... and some point of time I got them eat the normal ones in the name of Zero dosa. Smart of me!!!!! don't you think...

Born Brought up in South India .... Dosa is a integral part of the menu , either as breakfast or a snack or dinner . When out of India I actually had to tell people that there is more to South Indian food than Idli,Vada and Dosa and started cooking all kinds of different food items show them and reassure myself!But Dosa undisputedly remains the all time favourite of every child and adult.... very few dislike it.My personal favourite being Rava dosa, the thin crisp... yummylicious ( my elder daughter's ultimate compliment) , relatively simple than other dosas this dosa heavily relies on technique...

Rava Dosa:
This dosa is made of very fine Rava( sooji, semolina, obbattu rave ) and rice flour.

Rava 1 cup
rice flour 3/4 cup
Curds/yogurt - 1 spoon
Finely chopped onions
finely chopped green chillies
finely chopped coriander
Mustard seeds 1 1 tsp
Asafoetida - a pinch
Baking soda (optional - 1 pinch)
salt to taste.


Mix the Rava , Rice flour, curds,chopped coriander and salt with one cup of water and let it for 5 minutes..In a small pan add a spoon of oil . When it is hot add mustard seeds, hing, chopped onions, chopped green chillies and add this seasoning to the above batter .

Now mix the batter thoroughly with liberal quantity of water .

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The batter is ready to use. Use a nonstick pan without depression and literally throw the watery batter over the hot tava(pan). Pour a spoon of oil around ends and let it become crisp for about 5 to 6 minutes.Crisp , Paper like Rava Dosa is ready to be served with coconut chutney...
It takes a few tries but it is very easy with the right technique

Mysore Masala Dose

I got this recipe from my Sister In law and it works always..... I always had thought that I cannot make crispy,golden brown dosas without a grinder but then this worked ...
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


3 cups of Rice
1 cup of urad dal ( uddina bele,split black gram)
1 spoon Methi ( mentye , fenugreek seeds)
4 spoons of Tuvar dal ( togari bele, yellow lentils)
1 spoon of riceflakes ( avalakki)

Soak the rice separately and the rest of the ingredients with the urad dal for about 6 to 8 hours..Grind them separately and mix them with salt to taste and leave it to ferment in a warm place about 10 to 12 hours..

Next day the batter is ready to make crispy dosas... the variations can be done by using more of riceflakes and eliminating tuvar dal to give a soft texture...

These are for today......will be back tomorrow with pesarattu and Adai.....

Thursday, 13 December 2007


Today the weather has been so cold till now, blocking all the thinking braincells clogged with fog: just posting a travel writeup I wrote for another forum.

Two years ago in May we took a short trip to Netherlands , sply Amsterdam. There are certain places which get embedded in your memory permanently due to their extraordinary beauty.

One of them for me was the visit to "Keukenhof" the sprawling 70 acre flower Gardens, near Lisse in the bulb growing area between Amstredam and The Hague, in Holland. We were travelling through the Tulip growing area of Holland, where we could see acres and acres of neatly arranged different coloured Tulip beds in full bloom, looked like strips of coloured ribbons We were there in early May, to see the flowers in their full beauty. Keuenhof Gardens are open for eight weeks from mid March to mid May each year to showcase the Tulip festival. During this season it attracts visitors from all over the world. The park opens different dates everyyear please do look out in the website for that years opening and entrance prices.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Picture from the Aircraft

The flower garden was the idea in 1949 of the then-mayor of Lisse, a small town south of Amsterdam. The idea was to have a flower exhibit where growers from all over the Netherlands and Europe could show off their hybrids which will help Netherlands as it is the world's largest exporter of flowers. Keukenhof has been the world's largest flower garden for over fifty years.32 acres of the present Park was the part of the estate of a fifteenth century Countess who had her castle of Slot Teylingen, where she was growing herb and vegetables for her kitchen needs. Thus "Keukenhof" literally means "Kitchen Garden".

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Keukenhof is claimed to be one of the most photographed sites in the world. When we entered the gardens we understood how important it was to have a camera with us.Thanks to my digicam I could take as many photographs as I wished. There were flowers and flowers every where in all hues and colours you could imagine. Though it was started as a showcase for Tulip growers, the garden contains varieties of flowers other than Tulips, like Daffodils, Hyacinths and others, the names of which I could not remember. Luckily we were at the right time when all the flowers were in full bloom. When we started walking on the neatly laidout walk ways shaded by huge trees, in the gardens only we understood how big the garden was. It goes on and on to various sections of flowering plants, interspersed with numerous Greenhouses with special plants and exhibits. In one of them we saw huge collection of butterflies flying. Keukenhof (Court's Kitchen), also known as the Garden of Europe and is the world's largest flower garden.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Apart from the Garden Keukenhof has a nice fountain, windmill and lakes surrounded by tall trees and walkways. The beauty of Keukenhof attracts thousands of people all over the world from high and mighty to ordinary people who visit Netherlands during spring season every year. Though we spent almost a full day in this garden, it was highly inadequate for us to cover even half of this wonderful paradise.
It is accessible by bus from the stations of Haarlem or Leiden.The best time to come is in the last half of April, when you're likely to catch everything blooming at once.
The sights are amazing , impact on the eye and nose of overwhelming colur and scent is an unforgettable experience. Japanese cherry trees, azaleas and rhododendrons flower behind the rows of spring bulbs and displays are regularly refreshed with new plantings to ensure a consistently dazzling array.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Keukenhof for me is a paradise of flowers,given a chance I would visit it as often as possible. I share a few pictures here .The colours were so bright and my camera could not do full justice to the view my eyes beheld. But yet i did try.Hope I have ignited a desire in you to visit this lovely place.

You can ge more information in the official website

My trips are never over without my kids adding a new dimension to it... The lake in the centre of the park was so beautiful and people were walking over it.It seemed as though they were really walking ON water. whne we reached closer I got see the metallic plates immersed in water where we could just walk and since they were immeresed .I wanted to walk on it, before I could think of holding them my daugthers had already dashed towards it.... I was just about to ask them pose for a picture when the younger one was no where to be seen...LO!! she had fallen off in the water and elder one struggling to pull her.... it was no deeper than 3 feet but sorry my daughter was just about that at that time.

Sad part was she was drenched thoroughly and we had not dreamt of such a situation and had not brought a change of clothes.Fortunately had a handtowel with which I was drying her and my husband managed to bring a Tshirt from a Souviner store.Now we laugh about that incident and she makes a face whenever we say keukenhof...I dare not post her picture with only that a t shirt on, she would really be upset with that.It wasnt the pleasntest experience for her.

Yet another story to tell tomorrow...

Nomadic life

Nomads,,, the one group of people who move around from place to place in search of livelyhood. I named my blog so as I have moved 6 times in the past 12 years making my life a little similar to nomads (only that we are a little well paid nomads).I guess it is true for so many of us now a days....

I intend to just jot down a few lines everyday which makes my nomadic life colourful...Best part of my life are my daugthers who keep my day very lively...let me start with one of the days with them....

"Amma, all others have growth harmone but I have a Shrink harmone... declared my younger one with a sad look on her face......"
I can imagine what made her say that, shew ouldnt be able to reach the parallel bars again today, or not given a housepoint for standing straight in the line simply because her teacher couldnt spot her between all other taller kids... She has always been attention seeking girl,,, but not the tantrum throwing sorts though. Being short isn't her fault... it is manufacturing defect..... what can she do about it?Being shortest in the class isnt the best possible scenario but she is too young to notice the postive side of it.... my reply was ,well lets try to eat some healthy food.... gave me some chance to feed her more vegetables...I was the shortest in my class and I know how irritating it is sometimes....
Genetics was always my favourite subject in college may be I was interested. Dominant genes , recessive genes always fascinated me.So I thought I would sit and explain why it is not her fault to have been short explaining the gene factor of her height.But isnt an 8 year too young understand all this... before I could say much

" I have a headache and I am snack hungry" she pouted....
I made these aloo fritters (named them so to appease her , not sure if it the right name)
she loves potatos in any form but I have to keep changing the items to make it treat to her have made me a person who can cook better than what I used to be.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Boiled potatoes (medium sized -4)
chopped onions - 1 cup
jeera powder - 1 tsp
dhaniya powder - 1 tsp
amchoor - 1tsp
lal mirch or garammasala - 1 tsp
salt to taste
gram flour - 2 - 3tsps
cooking soda a pinch
oil to fry

Peel the potates, mash them and mix with chopped onions , jeera powder, dhaniyapoweder, amchoor , lal mirch, salt .In a frying pan , add oil and allow the oil to heat to the above mixture add the gramflour so that it is quite dry and doesnt have much water .... make small balls and deep fry them...arrange the balls on skewers and serve hot with ketchup.....Kids will enjoy it... you can even make it look beter with some fried panner in between them.... looks great tastes great...

signing off for today....let me know if you tried this recipe and it turned out tasty.