Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Weekend Reading

The State of Food Network – by an Unrepentant Smoking, Drinking, Traveling Chef

The Wedding : Four Part Series ~ by Ammupatti of Kerala, India

Puttu:A Story from Hindu Mythology ~ by Mathy Kandasamy

March 5th Event Against Plagiarism!

Blog Notes:
Flu season at home. Taking it slow, will resume blogging from March 1st.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Saturday February 24, 2007 at 1:33 pm- permalink)
Comments (31)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Thank You!

Your passion for conscious cooking made Mahanandi the Best Food Indiblog of the year 2006. Thanks to Debashish and team for organizing the Indian Weblog Awards.

I thank you all for nominating and voting for Mahanandi. This award is for you, the visitors and the people who appreciated Mahanandi. Thank you!

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Friday February 23, 2007 at 10:19 am- permalink)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Oatmeal with Old~Fashioned Oats

Old-Fashioned Oats
Old-Fashioned Oats

Oatmeal tests convictions. Its taste, appearance, origins, the varieties available, and the uberhype surrounding its health benefits – oatmeal was a big challenge to this Indian palate. To like or not to like? I wanted to like it.

First, I had problems with its blandness and gooey texture. Overcoming these two traits was the biggest hurdle for me in appreciating oatmeal. Next I had to make a choice. Instant, old-fashioned or steel cut. Steel cut definitely tasted better but it made a steep cut in my budget and the instant tasted too artificial. Finally I settled on old-fashioned oatmeal. The type which takes at least 10 to 15 minutes to cook. I experimented in several ways while trying out the different versions of oatmeal. I tried adding cinnamon, cardamom, apples, nuts, raisins etc. The wisdom I gained was that trying to jazz up oatmeal is like putting makeup on a pig. Oatmeal is oatmeal. No amount of flavorings can change the basic texture and blandness of oatmeal.

Somehow over the years this gooey gruel grew on us. The rest of our day may be filled with flavors and spiciness but we start the day plainly. Oatmeal now forms our breakfast for at least four mornings of the week. Wake up in the morning, put two pots filled with water on the stove. One for oatmeal and one for tea. Brush teeth, get the newspaper. By this time the water will be boiling. Add oatmeal and tea powder. Let them simmer for five to ten minutes. Have them while reading the paper. Vijay likes it plain and I usually add a teaspoon of honey. All of this may sound unglamorous, but comfort is in the ritual of routine, said our elders. I am used to things changing frequently around me and my way of dealing with change is to practise a comforting routine in militant fashion. Even though oatmeal is still a classic case of food I do not eat for the taste, I am glad I choose to like oatmeal and to make it a part of my daily routine.

Steaming Cup of Oatmeal
Steaming Cup of Oatmeal ~ Our Morning Mini Meal

(For two)
Bring three cups of water to a rolling boil on high heat. Add a cup of old-fashioned oats. Simmer for about five minutes on medium heat. Turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let it sit for another five minutes. Serve to a cup and stir in honey to taste.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Oats (Wednesday February 21, 2007 at 11:29 pm- permalink)
Comments (71)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Khatti Dal ~ Hyderabad Style

Even though I am partial to golden yellow toor dal, I do think of masoor dal as the prettiest dal of all dals/lentils. Round and in reddish pink, they look like cute bindis. When cooked, they turn to tasty yellow mush. Masoor dal is rarely used in Andhra cooking and only place where you can find masoor dal recipes is Hyderabad, the capital city of Andhra. People in the city prepare a dal called “Khatti dal” with masoor dal. Here masoor dal is cooked and seasoned with tamarind juice and ginger-garlic paste. Mildly sweet, pungent and tart, khatti dal dazzles the taste buds and tastes great on its own or with rice/chapatis.

Masoor Dal, Tomato and Tamarind (squeezed and strained juice)


1 cup masoor dal
1 tomato – finely chopped
¼ cup of finely chopped green chilli
¼ tsp each – turmeric, cumin and ginger-garlic paste
½ tsp salt or to taste
1 small lime sized tamarind pieces
Soak in a cup of warm water for 15 minutes. Squeeze and using a tea filter strain the juice to remove particles.

Wash and rinse the dal first. Take masoor dal in a big pot. Add 5 cups of water along with tomato, green chilli, turmeric, cumin and ginger-garlic paste. Mix and on high heat bring to a boil.

Then reduce the heat to medium and partially cover the pot with a lid. Simmer until the dal reaches fall apart stage. Takes about 15 minutes. At this time, stir in tamarind juice and salt. Mix and cook the dal for another 5 minutes.

The cooked dal will be so soft, I usually do not mash the dal. But if you like smooth consistency, go ahead and puree the dal using an immersion blender or wood masher.

Now do the popu or tadka. In a tadka pan or in a skillet, heat about a tablespoon of ghee or oil. Add and toast one after another, half teaspoon each – minced garlic, small pieces of dried red chilli, curry leaves, cumin and mustard seeds – in the order mentioned. When mustard seeds start to jump around, add the cooked dal to the popu. Mix and serve with rice or with chapati.

Dazzling Dals: Khatti Dal with Chapatis ~ Our afternoon meal today

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Chintapandu(Tamarind),Masoor Dal (Red Lentils) (Tuesday February 20, 2007 at 1:43 pm- permalink)
Comments (37)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Weekend This and That

Oscar Movie Reviews:

Little Miss Sunblock

The Departed


News from Blog World:

Yahoo plagiarizes contents from a food blogger and blames it on subcontractors. More about it here and here. Forget about compensation, Yahoo is not even offering an apology for this violation. To protest and to show our support to the food blogger, Inji Pennu of Ginger and Mango is organising anti-plagarism protest day against Yahoo on March 5th. Visit the links to know what’s going on and support the protest. Thanks.

Thrilling news to the fans – Look, who started a blog.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Saturday February 17, 2007 at 11:04 am- permalink)
Comments (13)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Scrumptious Sabjis ~ Methi Matar Malai

Here is an easy meal idea that will taste like you spent hours in the kitchen, when in reality all you would need to do is pluck few leaves, open few packets and grind some masala paste. 10 minutes in front of the stove, the result would be a very comforting creamy curry that is appropriate for family meal or a gathering of friends.

Speaking of friends get-togethers, we were invited a potluck party yesterday and I prepared some sweets with homemade malai. I kept a small cup of malai to the side to prepare this scrumptious sabji today. Store bought evaporated milk or concentrated almond milk/rice milk also works for this recipe. Give it a try.

from Hindi to English – Methi (Fenugreek), Matar (Peas) and Malai (Cream)


Fresh fenugreek leaves (methi) – 1 cup
Fresh peas (matar) – 1 cup
Malai (cream) – half cup
(homemade or store-bought evaporated milk – unsweetened variety)
2 red potatoes – peeled and cubed to bite sized pieces
Salt and turmeric to taste or half teaspoon each
Peanut oil or ghee – one teaspoon

Masala paste: One small red onion or shallot, one inch size ginger, six green chillies, two cloves, one inch piece of cinnamon stick, one teaspoon cumin and quarter cup of fresh peas (peas are added to thicken the sauce) – Grind to smooth consistency by adding half cup of water in a blender.

Heat oil in a wide skillet.

Add and saute the masala paste for 5 minutes on medium heat until the paste starts to turn red.

Now add one after another, first potatoes, then fenugreek leaves and finally peas. Do a quick stir-fry until the leaves wilt.

Add malai (evaporated milk). Stir in salt and turmeric and about 1 cup of water. (I also added a half teaspoon of jaggery which helps to bring out the sweetness of peas. But this is optional.) Cover and cook for about 15 minutes on medium heat until potatoes and peas are cooked to tender and the sauce thickens. Serve warm. Tastes superb with chapatis or with naans.

My latest find is garlic naan from frozen section of Trader Joe’s. One packet is priced at 2 dollars and contains 4 good sized naans which are prepared in India and vacuum packed. We just have to heat them on stove-top or in oven. The flour, the layers, the garlic topping – very flavorful and quality stuff. Well, they are from India. Need I say more?

Methi Matar Malai with Garlic Naan
Methi Matar Malai with Garlic Naan ~ Our Meal Today

Recipe adapted from Vee’s Past, Present and Me

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Baby Potatoes,Menthi Kura(Fenugreek),Milk,Peas (Bataani) (Thursday February 15, 2007 at 2:31 pm- permalink)
Comments (40)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Nominee for Best Food Indiblog

For the first time, Indian food bloggers have their own category at Indi Blog Awards. Thanks to the organizers for recognizing the wonderful food blog community and adding a separate category for us.

Also thanks to all of you who nominated Mahanandi at Indi Food Blog Awards. Hearty congratulations to all other nominees – Anthony, Ashwini, Meena, Shaheen and Trupti. And to Praba and friends at Saffron Tree, nominee in Best New Indiblog. Congratulations Praba!

The voting is going on now and would be open until 20th Feb. (You would be required to register with a valid email address to be able to cast your votes.)

Go check and have fun.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Wednesday February 14, 2007 at 10:52 am- permalink)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Menthi Beerakaya (Methi-Turai Curry)

Our kitty, Kittaya enjoys greens. He likes to eat cilantro, wheat grass and catnip. His latest green find is methi (fresh fenugreek leaves). He picks up a branch with his mouth and walks around the house munching on the leaves. Kitties are notoriously finicky eaters, some of you may know this already and we are extremely happy with his new choice. See, we like fresh methi too. So the recent routine is, almost every week we buy a bundle of fresh fenugreek from local Indian grocery shop. I keep few branches for Kittaya on the side in a vase. With the remaining I was trying out different recipes. One such recipe is methi with ridge gourd (turai, beerakaya). Sweet tasting vegetables like ridge gourd and potato etc compliment potent fresh methi. Easy to prepare, decent curry to have with chapatis or with rice and dal. A different taste but nonetheless a good one.

Fresh Fenugreek Leaves and Ridge Gourd Pieces (Turai, Beerakaya)
Fresh Methi and Ridge Gourd Pieces


2 ridge gourds (peel the ridges, wash and chop to bite sized pieces)
1 bunch fresh fenugreek (Wash and chop or pluck the leaves)
1 onion – finely chopped
6 green chillies and one tsp of grated coconut – finely ground in a spice grinder
Turmeric and salt to taste
Ingredients for popu or tadka (1 tsp each – oil, curry leaves, cumin and mustard seeds)

Heat oil in a wide skillet. Add and toast popu ingredients in the order listed. When mustard seeds start to jump around, add the onion. Saute until the onion pieces soften. Add ridge gourd pieces. Mix. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Ridge gourd pieces usually are tender and they cook fast. Methi leaves won’t take more than two or three minutes to wilt/cook.

At the end of 10 minutes, add methi leaves, green chilli-coconut paste, turmeric and salt. Mix and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring in-between. Serve hot with rice or with chapati.

Methi Turai Curry (Menthi Beerakaya) with Plain Toor Dal Rasam and Rice ~ Our Meal Today

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Beera kaaya(Ridge Gourd),Menthi Kura(Fenugreek) (Tuesday February 13, 2007 at 3:40 pm- permalink)
Comments (18)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Mahanandi is Back!

Last Thursday evening our websites and got suspended by our web hosting provider. The action was sudden and there was no prior communication or email from them about any problem. We were painfully shocked at the loss of control over our site and there was no way we could let you know about what was going on. They took total control of our site and posted a cheap sounding message on it.

After almost 4 hours of trying to find why, they settled on the reason that our website was consuming too much processing capacity on the server. And it took another 2 hours on the phone with these guys for us to realize unless we upgrade the account, we wouldn’t gain access to our site. So from shared hosting, we moved to dedicated server. And it took almost 48 hours to find and to transfer database files. Mind you, we are totally clueless about these things and we had to learn everything quickly. A total 4 days of constant worrying and work, Mahanandi is here again. Thankfully we did it without losing a single word.

Even though I can understand their reason for suspending our account, I still wish they could have at least sent us an email notice beforehand. Suspending accounts without notice – is this a common practice in web hosting business? What a merciless, ruthless bunch these web hosting providers are. Even the Shakthi, the natural force that created us all would be more merciful, at least She would hint through symptoms and signs that we are not taking good care of ourselves before suspending our lives. No such mercy from website hosting providers I guess.

One pleasant thing I had done during this ordeal was, I launched a food blog forum for us Indian food bloggers, mainly to talk about issues like this and also to share and exchange ideas and tips related to food blogging and food photography. Website name is Dining Hall. You can find more details about it – Here. Manisha of Indian Food Rocks is the co-administrator.

I have to say thanks to all of you who wrote emails, offered help and sent good Karma our way. Also many thanks to Inji Pennu of Ginger and Mango for responding to my request and posting a message about Mahanandi. I greatly appreciate it!

Update on March 1st, 08:

The Dining Hall forum is closed permanently on March 1st, 2008. Time constraints, busy personal life, and lack of passion made the closure inevitable and unavoidable. Sorry for the inconvenience.

– Indira

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Monday February 12, 2007 at 2:29 am- permalink)
Comments (59)

The New Home of Mahanandi: