Monthly Archives: November 2013

DIY Making a Rangoli

DIY Making a Rangoli

I know this is coming a little late, the reason being I myself learned it after Diwali (or Deepawali, as some people in India like to call this festival of lights),
Traditionally, women would make colourful designs in front of their house with rice flour, but these days preference is given to colours.
The one which my husband’s aunts made was a free-hand design. That is one way of making it, the traditional way being making a matrix of dots in square or rectangular shape and then joining the dots to make various patterns.
Now the aunts selected a clean spot in front of the house and first used white rangoli powder to create this design.IMG_20131104_161725

They decided on what colour is to be used where and then got down to filling it. It is quite a task to get the lines straight and a clean design shows how experienced the women are.
They used two shades of a colour in some cases, for example in leaves, to give it depth.

They then finished it off with a black background, or carpet as they call it.

IMG_20131104_162753I noticed this Diwali, peacock seemed to a popular choice in design. I guess the vibrant colours and the way a dancing peacock can be depicted in so many mudras was the catch.
I personally prefer rangoli made with flower petals and leaves. It has a very earthy feel to it and it is easier to clean up after the festival.

Here are some pics of rangoli designs which I have shamelessly copied from my friends’ facebook pages. The circular design rangoli is made of flower petals and leaves.

rang2 Rang3 Rang4Rang1

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On Paternal Leave: Food fit for new mommy

My sister just had a baby boy and I was immediately pressed into service (perils of not having a job). And I noticed that her diet after giving birth changed drastically — it was a diet meant to speed her recovery and provide nutrition to her and the baby.

I can’t claim to be an expert on pregnancy and birth related issues but here is what my brother-in-law told me about the food that women eat postnatal. He knows it better and is currently on paternal leave (hence the title of this post).

And mind you… it is different in different parts of India! See, that’s how diverse we are. 🙂

India's Olympic bronze medal winner, boxer Mary Kom with her kids. Photo courtesy: Mary's Facebook page.
India’s Olympic bronze medal winner, boxer Mary Kom with her kids. Photo courtesy: Mary’s Facebook page.

North-Eastern region: There are seven states in that region and Olympic bronze-medalist MC Mary Kom belongs to one such state.  This feisty boxer  has three boys (including twins).

She gave birth to her third baby recently and I asked her what was her diet like. She belongs to Manipur, a state which everyone in India knows to be a pork-loving state.

But Mary says she only had “boiled vegetables and food with no chillies, masala and very less oil”. Another friend tells me that in the state of Assam, women are given boiled fish and chicken in tomato or bottlegaud curry.

Southern India: The four states in Southern India — Andhra Pradesh (now divided into two states), Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, have more or less same type of weather. That predominantly decides what a woman eats, as that same food might not work for you anywhere else in the country.

Fellow blogger Sharanya Mohan Bala recalls what she was kept off when she gave birth to a girl. “I was kept off tamarind, coconut and gassy vegetables like potato, toor dal, cauliflower and cabbage.”

She remembers being given a paste of rice, ghee and six other ingredients, which is called “Ashta Choornam“.

“And then we are all given one paste which looks like Chavanprash, a tsp every morning in empty stomach for immunity, digestion and it helps lactation too. It is simply called ‘Prasava Legiyam‘ “Prasava meaning pregnant and legiyam meaning medicinal paste. It gives good resistance against cold and viral fever. I love it so much that I eat it even now whenever I feel like I’m going to catch a cold or when I suffer of digestion problems.”

Maharashtra/ Madhya Pradesh: A new Mommy is given simple food which has no masala or spices. Sheera or Kheer is a standard dish which is rich in fat and carbohydrates. Garlic is absolutely essential in all dishes.

Sheera/ Halwa
Sheera/ Halwa

Since the woman can’t eat pickle, an easy way to bring some flavour in an otherwise bland meal is to serve raw coconut chutney with garlic and jeera powder. Leafy vegetables in lunch everyday is a must. Dalia is also very popular.

Rajasthan: Ajwain (Carom seeds) is a herb which is supposed to help with digestion and so it is a new mommy’s preferred home-made concoction. It is boiled in water with jeera (Cumin seeds) and the woman is supposed to drink that every time she feels thirsty.

Another way is to mix Ajwain with ghee and sugar to make a thick paste. Gond ka laddoo is given in winters to give the body some warmth.

10 things about Indore’s traffic I love to hate

India is a special place. There may be hundreds of things which one likes about their hometown. But traffic ain’t one of them. They always reserve the choicest and wincing-at-it-is-too-late words for their beloved city’s traffic… it doesn’t matter if that place’s traffic is actually good.

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I think this gentleman, riding in the BRTS, wants to reach the destination before his bike.

So why should I be any different. My hometown, Indore, has the worst traffic and people with pathetic and weird traffic sense.

It is said that if you drive there following all the traffic rules, either one of the two things could happen — either you won’t reach your destination at all, or you might reach the hospital first.

If you are out on a drive in Indore, here are a few things of which you should take a print-out, carry in your wallet and read whenever you find free time (preferably with a beaded necklace in your hand):

1. There is only one traffic rule in Indore…there are no rules! (sorry Brad Pitt, but this sentence is kinda relevant here)

2. Lanes are for people who are driving a bulldozer. Rest is free for all.

3. There is no bhed-bhav on Indori roads. A cycle wala can occupy a fast lane with just as much haq as a BMW wala.

4. Footpaths are extremely essential for good flow of traffic. Where else would the tea stall and pohe wala thela go.

5. There is absolutely no need for you to bother with 20th century traffic customs like giving indicator before you turn. They are just ornamental lights on your vehicle.

6. You must stop your vehicle at least 50 metres after a zebra crossing at a traffic signal.

7. The time indicator of all traffic signals are a bit slow. So it’s okay to start 5 seconds before the signal turns green, and okay to stop 10 seconds after it has turned red.

8. Do not make fun of traffic policemen. Salute them for spending so much time in dust and pollution because it takes guts to stand and gaze at the vehicles. The only time they will punish you for breaking any rules is when they have to meet their challan’s annual target.

9. If someone behind you shouts “aage badhaou“, take it as a signal and just MOVE. For the sake of your mother’s and sister’s happy life, DO NOT turn back to see who shouted and why. In all cases it would be the conductor of a public transport vehicle, dangling out of the door defying laws of gravity.

10. “Horn All The Time Please” is the unwritten rule. If you are not horny enough (yes offense), then why did your parents even think of giving you the keys to the car/bike/cycle.

Indore street food special – Benjo

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If you are visiting Indore and do not go to Chhappan Bazar, I swear to god I am going to hunt you down and force feed you all the delicacies sold there. This commercial city in Central India happens to be my home town and I shudder at the thought of not having grown up eating chaat, Paani Puri, Dahi Puri, Usal Pohe, Chhole Tikki, Masaledaar Noodles, Pav Bhaji, Dhokla and Benjo.
Now there is this street in Indore called Chhappan Dukan (literally, 56 shops) which sells the most delicious street food in India — most of it vegetarian. And Johnny Hot Dog boasts of a sizable footfall. Their specialty is benjo, which is nothing but an omelet between two buns served with seasoned onions, tomato ketchup and green chilli chutney.
Worry not if you are a vegetarian, they have a veg burger with a lip-smacking potato patty.
Indore is mostly famous for veg street food, so you can understand why so many youngsters love to hangout at Johnny Hot Dog as it serves the most enviable mutton and chicken benjo.
When I was in collage, a veg or egg benjo would cost Rs15 (roughly 25 cents), but now it has gone up to Rs35. Still, it is still quite cheap.
Oh! Forgot to tell you, there are two shops by this name, one at each end of the street.
Rumour has it that the one which is at the junction of this street and MG Road is the original one, but the one at the other end is bigger. Both are equally delicious so worry not.