Thursday, 26 February 2015

Blogging Marathon # 50th Edition Celebration - Day 1

It all started in 2010! Srivalli started an event - Blogging Marathon and I signed up for the first edition.30 days of non stop blogging and there were just a few of us for the first edition. Slowly the group grew and soon we got blogging on a regular basis 3 days a week for 4 weeks every month with very interesting and intriguing themes.

Then in 2013, I took the trip of a lifetime! Vaishali hosted the 25th anniversary celebration at her place and many from the blogging marathon group met for the meet.For many of us it was meeting the rest of the gang for the first time.Even though we visited each others blogs and exchanged mails and spoke over the phone, that was the time we put a face behind the person!

Over the next two years we got even more close, thanks to Whatsapp! Now we are on constant chatter all through the day and night.

When it was time to celebrate the 50th edition, it was hinted that we celebrate it in Delhi! I was so sure I would not be attending it.When we met last year for a small meet in Priya Srinivas's place,I put up a small 'drama' that the girls in our group will never forget .And then the venue got changed to Chennai.

The planning started a year earlier and plans were made, tickets books, dress color code decided. Mails flew back and forth and so did the messages in whatsapp.Stuffs for the goodie bag were planned and shopped for.

Finally it was just a day to go before the meet when I told Srivalli I wouldn't be able to make it for the celebration. All of us fell sick and I was running between clinics for checkups and blood checks. I was exhausted.Luckily by evening, health issues got settled and by late in the evening I pulled out suitcases to pack for me and Lil Dude.

I packed late into the night and hardly slept. One because it was early morning by the time I finishes and two because I was super excited.

Unlike the previous trip [where I arrived very late at the airport and almost missed the flight], I arrived early and waited impatiently for the flight. Lil Dude was super excited to be going on this trip and was literally jumping all through the flight!

This time, Padma Rekha hosted the 12 of us in her home.A few of the members flew in a couple of days earlier and had other travel plans. The rest of them had arrived the previous day / earlier that day. I was the last to arrive. The girls kept sending me pics of breakfast and other activities an housed I really wanted to rush to her place.

Finally when I reached there, I was so excited, more like a school girl, almost doing a happy dance. This time, I had met almost everyone except Kalyani and Gayathri. Since we were in touch through mails and messages, it hardly took time to recognize them.

So, here is the gang...


The moment I entered the house and searched for a place to keep my bags, I caught sight of rows and rows of goodie bags![Image - Thanks to Srivalli]


I arrived just in time for lunch and the girls had cooked up a feast!!


Being true blue food bloggers, we were more intent on clicking the pics than indulging on the dishes!! Padma's Aloo Kurma ,Vishali's green garlic rice and cucumber raita, Pradnya's Bakhri and Zunka, curd rice, Mysurpa and Poli.It was a very heavy lunch indeed which was rounded off by Archana's Ginnu - Steamed Colostrum dessert. This was something I was looking forward to tasting as I have heard a lot about it but never got around to making it at home or even tasting.{Image- Thanks to Gayathri]



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After the heavy lunch, Usha shared with us a few tips and tricks on photography patiently answering our questions and doing a demo for us.[Thanks for the pic Srivalli]


We had a group snap session in whites and the aprons that Vaishali had specially made for the occasion.Then we celebrated Srivalli's and Kalyani's birthday.


 Then it was time to dress up for dinner. We had planned for traditional outfit .Lil dude was very shy all through and I knew why!He was probably over whelmed to be amidst 12 very gorgeous looking women :)


Before we started out for dinner, we had Vaishali's Pani puri shots..



We were pretty much stuffed after lunch yet we were not deterred by the prospect of dinner at  Annalakshmi Restaurant...We had arranged for Mahalakshmi Preeti Bojan- a thali comprising of North Indian and South Indian Dishes.Dishes upon dishes came to the table and we sampled the whole lot. It was very sad that we were not able to do justice to the meal! The sampling alone made us so full that we could hardly walk out!.

Part of the meal[Pic from Srivalli..]




We also had a bread making session with Nandini who explained about sour dough breads and shared her experiences with us.

Then it was time to exchange the goody bags and we were giddy with joy looking into the gifts! The bags had everything- Props, cook books, home made masala mixes, pickles, cake mix, chocolates, baked goodies,sweets,beauty aids, loads of gifts for the kids...Priya Srinivas who was not able to come down for the meet, sent us goodies all the way from Dubai! Thanks Priya and we missed you a lot...

Each one was so thoughtful in selecting gifts and it was reflected as the smiles and wow's that could be seen and heard. Even the bags were tastefully tagged and presented. Wow!!!

It was pretty late by the time we talked about the gifts. Yet none of us wanted to sleep. We sat there chatting away and hardly slept for an hour!

I can go on and on about this but I will stop here so that you can check out what my friends have to share about Day 1 celebration....

Srivalli
Gayathri
Kalyani 
Vaishali
Archana
Padma Rekha

Will be back with Day 2 events....

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Spicy Chocolate Custard

This month the Recipe ReDux team asked us pair chocolate with an ingredient of our choice. Actually chocolate goes well with everything and everything tastes best with chocolate. While thinking of a pair, I decided to spice up chocolate!

I have never tried this combo so I was all the more interested in making a dish with chocolate and chili!And this was born this dish!!!A simple  dessert that tastes like heaven with a hint of spiciness...



I used:
Serves- 2

Milk - 1 1/2 cups + 1/4 cup
Custard powder- 2 tablespoons
Sugar- 1/4 cup
Fennel seeds- 1/4 teaspoon
Cinnamon- 1" piece
Clove-1
Cocoa powder- 2 teaspoons
Red chili [Cayenne pepper] powder  -1/8 teaspoon

Garnish

Sugar pearls
Chocolate chips
Fennel seeds
Red chili flakes

In a pan heat  1 1/2 cups of milk and bring to boil. Add the whole spices ,sugar and simmer for 10 minutes.Remove from heat and let the flavors blend for an hour or so.Strain and keep aside.


In a bowl take the custard powder, cocoa powder,cayenne pepper and mix. Add 1/4 cup cold milk and whisk so that there are no lumps.



Return the milk to the pan and bring to boil. Add the cocoa mix and simmer till the mixture thickens and coats the back of the ladle. Keep stirring often.




Remove from heat and chill till serving time. Serve garnished with sugar pearls, chocolate chips,chili flakes, fennel seeds.

Note:

If custard powder is not available,use corn flour. Add a teaspoon of vanilla essence to the cocoa mixture.
This tastes best when served chilled
Adjust the quantity of spices to suit your taste.


Bon Appetit...



 


 

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Quick Stuffed Brinjal Curry

Certain dishes pair well with each other. Some don't. Sometimes we are quite certain the pairs are worth a try and many times risks are taken to see of the pairs will get along with each other. Well, isn't this something like dealing with people!

Anyways, the day I made Chettinad vegetable Briyani, I made this brinjal curry because there were no other vegetables in the fridge.

I am not sure if I have mentioned it before but brinjal is one of my favorite vegetable! I get a lot of weird looks when I mention this but I simple love it in any form. Mom's Ennai kathirikkai[a brinjal gravy that has an inch of oil floating over the gravy] is my favorite of all the brinjal recipes. She makes it the microwave with very little oil that I often joke that it should be rename Ennai[illada] kathirikkai[Oil less brinjal gravy].Even though there is very little oil used the taste is not compromised.

So coming to the brinjal topic, I love it!! And every time I pick one variety or the other from the farmers market. Thus there is always some in the fridge just like the other day when I made the briyani.

I had this briyan- brinjal curry combo for lunch but was not sure if this pair would clicks. When I served it for dinner, hubby was gushing out praises on the combo! I was mighty relieved but a little sad that I made a very small portion of the curry.

This dish is my second one for Blogging Marathon #49 under the theme - One vegetable , 3 dishes

I used:

For the spice mix / stuffing

Urad dal-1/4 cup
Channa dal-1/4 cup
Curry Leaves- a handful
Sesame seeds-2 tablespoons
Poppy seeds - 2 tablespoons
Red chilies-3,broken
Asafoetida powder- a large pinch
Grated coconut-2 tablespoons
Salt to taste


Brinjal- 1/2 kilo , tender ones
Oil-1 tablespoon


First let us make the spice mix for stuffing:

Heat a pan and roast the urad dal, channa dal, curry leaves, red chilies,asafoetida till the dal turns light brown.Add the poppy seeds and sesame seeds. After a couple of minutes add the coconut and roast on low flame till the coconut loses the moisture.Transfer the mixture onto a plate and let it cool.Grind along with salt to a semi coarse powder. Store in an air tight container and use as needed.


Wash the brinjal and make slits keeping the stalk end intact as shown in the pic. Stuff the slits withe spice mix.



Heat a pressure cooker with oil and place the stuffed brinjal .Add a large splash of water[don't add too much!],2 teaspoons of the spice mix and cover and pressure cook for 1 whistle / 5 minutes. Let the pressure release automatically. Remove the lid and transfer the curry onto a serving dish.


Serve as a side dish with rice...

Note:
  • The spice mix can be made ahead and use as needed.
  • Do not add too much water to cook it.The binjal will turn mushy and unattractive.
  • Use tender brinjal so that it cooks fast.

Bon Appetit...