02 March 2022

Achappam /Kerala Style Rosette Cookies (Eggless NO Rice Flour tastes AUTHENTIC)

Achappam

 Appo oru riddle aayalo/Riddle time ? ๐Ÿ˜Ž

QUESTION/RIDDLE -Think of a snack that is known as a cookie but it is not exactly one ...Think of a fritter-y snack that looks like a flower and has the name of a flower ..

ANSWER - Achappam A.K.A Rose cookie/Rosette Cookie

Whoever knew already (well,you would have guessed by the blog post title still ) ..You see,I was checking if you are paying attention or not ๐Ÿ‘€.....So,clap clap to all Intel inside ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜€..who didn't guess...Don't worry,be happy..Hi10 I do have my attention deficit episode at times as well and my G.K. also needs improvement worse than Alia Ma'am ! ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜Even I didn't know that they have an English name ,rosette cookies . After all, I am a certified friend in need no pretense,straight from my heart ...๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿ˜Š

What is Achappam?

Achappam is a quite popular traditional Kerala snack . "Achu" means a special mould and "Appam" means food made with flour. Achappam is a well-liked snack ,popularly called a "naalu mani palaharam" (meaning an evening snack in English) made with flour, eggs, coconut milk and deeply fried into a flower-shaped snack using a special mould . Achappam is also called a rose cookie.

KERALA-ACHAPPAM

Wikipedia says,"Achappam is a signature Syrian Christian food believed to come from Dutch influence and has spread to South East Asia also known as kuih loyang (brass), acuan (mould), cap (stamp), bunga ros (rose flower), bunga durian (durian flower), goyang (shake), kembang loyangstruvor in Swedish, demir tatlisi in Turkish, flores manchegas in Spain, shirini panjerei in Iran ,chebbak el-janna in Tunisian cuisine,in Afghanistan, they are called kulcha-e-panjerei (window biscuits),in Bangladesh its called Fuljhuri pitha or Fulkuchi pitha,in NorwegianrosettbakkelserosetterDanishrosetbakkelse; and Finnishrosetti

In South India, they are called "Gulabi"๐Ÿ˜ฎ, achumurukku in Tamil Nadu. In Spain, they are called flores manchegas ("Manchegan flowers"),in SriLanka, it's called kokis and rose cookies among Anglo Indian,East Indian and Goan people.. ." 

achappam-recipe

To my surprise, I found that Achappam's twin version called rosette cookies are quite popular in the United States which has got a Scavindian origin and is also a popular traditional Christmas snack here as well. Both require special moulds and almost similar recipes for the preparation. I didn't know that and I never got a chance to eat it or I never saw them here in shops till now but this is what the internet says.Playing hide and seek with a big-time foodie !!Fair and lovely yet unfair !๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Likewise,Achappam is also a special snack for Christians during Christmas or marriage ceremonies and so is for Hindus during Onam, Vishu, etc in Kerala as well. 

Interesting how food connects us around the world and makes us feel one , simply split all over the world...

Homemade-Achappam

In short , as long as one has teeth to crunch, everyone will probably love Achappam. These Achappams can be seen neatly stacked and packed and sold from small shops to big bakery shops all over Kerala .

These Achappams taste best when they are home-made . However,it is not an easy task when you are preparing all by yourself . Hence,nowadays people prefer to simply buy from bakery shops.

Memories/Flashback

At my home, during my childhood days,my mother used to always make nallu-mani palharams /evening snacks for us for sure. Our little storerooms used to always have jars of snacks or tins filled with snacks like ACHAPPAM etc not only for us but also for guests.I loved whenever my amma would prepare snacks at home ..It used to fill our little kitchen and house (Company quarter) with that gentle yummy aroma that would make anyone excited and looking forward to.No wonder why I was always gol-matol /chubby..๐Ÿ˜

Those days I don't remember how painstakingly my amma would prepare all these snacks and neatly store them in a huge tin in my storeroom but I do remember how comfortably I used to walk in and out of the storeroom with two-three Achappams in my hand and munch it happily every day and it was not fun to watch my brother competing with me for the same either...Mr.Salty huh...๐Ÿ˜–๐Ÿ˜

how-to-make-Achappam

I also remember how my mother would distribute among our neighbours during festivals (who belonged to different states in India)..Now that we are settled in Kerala,she still does the same  ...I always tell her to buy and distribute as it is not a child's play to prepare batch after batch all by herself and she doesn't have the same stamina as before...But from whom did I get my stubbornness and temper after all ? ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜†

During my last long vacation (Thx Corona ! ๐Ÿ˜„) to India on the eve of Onam ,I finally paid attention to how my amma would prepare those Achappams and I realised this snack is going to be quite challenging for me...Trial and error = A game of thorns !...Anyways,my mother got me an Achu/mould to take with me to the US so that I can make some homemade Achappams for her son-in-law one day for sure as she knows all these snacks are his weakness...I kept it as a treasure for long ...until one day,I decided,it is time..to take that leap of faith..that I can too make Achappams...#IBelieveIcanFry

homemade-pancake

How to prepare Achappam at home ?

Traditionally,it requires rice flour, eggs, coconut milk, oil and a very special mould with lots of patience and enthu.

Achappams are one of my hubby's favourite snack.So,last year I tried for the first time to prepare Achappams by myself ...I tried different recipes ...And I found my own version of Achappam recipe that is not the traditional way because I made my Achappam without using any eggs or rice flour...So,YES,Achappams can be made eggless and with no rice flour , the quintessential flour of Kerala and you won't find any difference in the taste.That's the highlight !

Achappam-no-egg

I bought the mould couple of years back though. Even though I didn't expect it ,though a few of the first Achappams came out just the opposite of the mould I used ,different shapes like the crippled version of Achappams,the next batch looked lovely to look and good to digest .

I can't tell you how excited I was when I made a well-shaped Achappam for the first time,it was like some kind of huge acheivement in my life..mere dil mein sachh muuch laddoo futt rahe theyy meaning manasil laddoo poti yennu ...Eyes popping out,mouth wide open,hands covering it in awe,tears of joy in my eyes as if I've been crowned Mrs.culinary Universe /the tasty queen ..๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ˜

Rosette-Cookies

But whenever I get too excited in my life,something goes wrong ..likewise,my next one and the next one thereafter were hugging to the mould and refusing to detach...That moment when I saw a mould and batter madly in love with each other, inseparable and I realised, damn I am the villain in this edible story now...However, that rumble and growl in my stomach gave me the ultimate push to do the needful , be less excited and more mindful thereafter....I've given up on being too over-excited in all...๐Ÿ˜’

And then,they kept getting better after every try. And when I made Achappams non-traditionally without using any eggs or rice flour and they came out well-formed and authentically tasty, imagine my happiness..YAYYYY..๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ’ƒ Well, the idea to make this Achappam batter came out of using the super-ripe Banana covered with marks all over without wasting it (which are in good condition to use)

And with the leftover Achappam batter,I made some delicious Pancakes as well.Oh,they are delish beyond words !

pancake

So, here is my homemade Achappam recipe eggless and without any rice flour yet tasting authentic.

Achappam recipe

Makes 20-30 

Ingredients

For making Achappam batter

All-Purpose Flour  3 Cups

Powdered sugar  3/4 the Cup

Baking Powder  1 Tsp 

Thick Coconut Milk (I used readymade )  1/2 Cup 

Banana, Ripe  1 No.

Milk  2 1/2 Cups


Black Kalonji /Black Cumin/Karinjeerakam - 1 Tbsp

Oil as needed for deep fry

Wide Pan/Kadai

Achappam Mould 

Tall Mixer Jar (to prevent any overflow)

Lots of patience and enthu..


Preparation of Achappam batter

  1. Transfer all dry ingredients into the mixer jar followed by all wet ingredients (all ingredients written in BOLD) and grind into a smooth lump-free batter. The batter should be neither thin nor thick but of pouring consistency.
  2. Taste a sample of the batter to make sure the sugar is enough.
  3. Pour the batter into a long container and add the Kalonji /Black cumin or black sesame seeds.Mix well.
  4. Keep the batter in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes for all the flavor to blend in well.The batter kept in the refrigerator makes sure that the batter will stick to the mould and releases with ease while frying which is the most important step to make a well-shaped Achappam.
  5. After 10 min,let the batter sit for a few minutes outside.Then stir well.
  6. Pour oil into a Wide pan/Kadai for deep fry.
  7. Add a little batter into the oil and if it springs back to the top ,the oil is ready for deep frying which is very very important for frying apt Achappam .
  8. Then put the Achappam mould into the oil and keep it for a minute or until hot.This is must ,this step prepares the mould for making sure the batter sticks to the mould when dipped and releases and gets fried properly.
  9. Then remove the mould from oil and dip it into the batter BUT make sure that the mould is not immersed fully ,immerse only 3/4 th of the mould with batter ,this step makes sure that the achappam slides easily into the oil for frying.Count 10 secs,to make sure the batter sticks to the mould properly..
  10. Now the batter will stick to the mould if it was hot and ready and then transfer the mould into the oil but not place the mould into the oil .Hold the mould stick and mould just covered in oil for frying ,shake the stick after a minute or two gently and the achappam will slide it into the oil OR before the achappam gets fried on the mould itself,using a skewer stick try to GENTLY release the achappam into the oil.If the achappams gets fried in mould itself,it will be very difficult to release it into the oil and to remove the achappam in shape from the mould aptly.
  11. Most of the time, the first few Achappams will not come out good.But continue frying and they will get better.
  12. Once the achappam slides into the oil let it fry until they get light golden colour and then turn it to fry the other side using a slotted spoon until light golden colour on low -medium flame.Put the mould into the oil (med-high) for making the next one.This is very very important to fry the next one aptly.
  13. Once Achappam is golden brown on both sides. Transfer them onto tissue paper to absorb all oil. As they rest,it will become more crisp .
  14. Repeat and fry all Achappams and store them in an airtight container .
  15. Enjoy with a cup of tea or like me whenever you wanna munch something ,which is most of the time.
NOTES:

1.If the batter is too thick,add coconut milk little by little to make it a not too thick batter and if it is too thin add little all-purpose flour little by little until it becomes thick .
2. Thick coconut milk is a must for that authentic taste.
3.When a new mould is used for the first time,the Achappams may not turn out well.But the more the mould is used it will get better and better.After use wash it lightly with water so it remains oiled and seasoned for next use.
4.Since I am not using eggs ,I am using baking powder and Banana instead.
5.I always use the super-ripe Banana with marks all over ,good to use though .

Here is the demo to show you how to make Kerala style Achappams eggless and with No rice flour



So,I am happy that I finally nailed Achappam or Kerala style rosette cookie in a non-traditional way that tastes just like the achappam made traditionally. This was mission impossible at one point in time but just because there are thorns doesn't mean I can never smell the rose ...So,if you don't like cookies but love snacks or if you love cookies with a crunch, that will make you wonder wow, then this is for you, Kerala style rosette cookies, in my mother tongue, Malayalam, Achappam...Fry it,try it and enjoyyy it!

Bye for now ..Till next time..Take care,be well,be happy...

Love,light,food,good vibes,๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ˜Š





02 February 2022

Sweet Pongal/Chakkara Pongal/Sakkarai Pongal and Ven Pongal/Khara Pongal

pongal-platter
Idli,vada,sambar and Pongal - ANYONE???


 Exercise? I Thought You Said Extra RICE! ~ Honey P. 


Well, can't blame him, being an Indian, and to top that, being a south Indian, rice is a staple and comfort food. Rice and curries keep us grounded and rooted in our Indian traditions, rekindle so many childhood memories, literally a taste of India being away from the homeland, ensuring that feel, being at home, wherever we are...



BUT there is a catch, we find it very difficult to eat less and easy to skip exercise ..You see, for me, "Health is wealth !". It is not about having an amazing body, it is all about having a healthy body. (The entire wealth of Mr.Steve Jobs couldn't save his life (with due respect and honor..RIP!), it did hurt to see his health deteriorating than his Apple Phone doing well in the world market for me...That's why I bite the Apple fruit and Honey P prefers the Apple phone more, hence the emphasis !)

And Rice is a high carb food that when consumed too much daily can lead to weight gain and other diseases. So,I am a tad scared about rice yet it is one of our favorite go-to meals, easy to make, and goes well with all south Indian curries like fish and other seafood especially....

Story of my life !

However, the good thing about my hubby is that he doesn't like desserts that much,he can control the urge but I can't ๐Ÿ˜”...Sweets are my weakness!๐Ÿ˜‹ But I know how to avoid them as much as possible...But what is a life full of dietary restrictions,I like to break the rules BUT for the right reasons....For instance, during festivals or once in a while for sure...And I love to make something that I can enjoy with my hubby, to eat alone is not fun...

He orders, I make...And I am very thankful that he loves everything I make for sure and so do my friends, my little one loves it too (Touchwood and the entire tree !)....Of course, sometimes it is a sheer disaster but practice and passion to cook make one perfect right ?.... One of the main reasons how I fell in love with food, cooking, and then blogging = My simple NIRVANA!

Lord Krishna gave me his zodiac star as a confirmation that I am his Kaliyug ki Meera (uncomparable to the original bhaktha/staunch fav. devotee MeeraBai (with due respect !)๐Ÿ™‡๐Ÿ™) because my hubby is for sure Mr.BhojRaj ,(MeeraBai's original husband's name) (Bhoj means "Feast/Food" and Raj means "King" )...Makes sense ??eeeehaa..๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜‹

Anyways, my hubby who is not a dessert fan, recently told me, try to make that payasam (a south Indian dessert), that brown one made with rice and Jaggery that we usually get in temples in India especially ...We usually call it Ambala Payasam/Temple Payasam. Since this Payasam needs Jaggery for the sweetness and the authentic flavor than sugar, it was quite a turn-on. Jaggery is comparatively healthy.

Sweet-Pongal

As I started experimenting with making this /perfecting this Payasam,I came to know that they are in fact called Sweet Pongal or Sakkarai Pongal or Chakkara Pongal (Where Sakkarai,a Tamil term, and Chakkara,a Malayalam term means Jaggery)

For me, this Pongal dish reminds me of my childhood days in North India during the eve of Makara Sankranti and Pongala functions in Kerala temples participated by women especially ....

What is Makara Sankranti /Pongal ?


Makara Sankranti is a popular Indian harvest festival celebrated in different parts of India around mid-January and also around Asia. Kerala calls it Makara Vilaku,Tamil Nadu calls it Thai Pongal, Andhra, and Karnataka - Sankranthi, Gujarat, and Rajasthan - Vasi Uttarayan, West Bengal - Pousha Sankranthi, Punjab/Haryana/Himachal Pradesh - Lohri/Maghi, Assam-Magh Bihu, Nepal-Maghe Sankrant, Thailand-Songkran, etc...Like the names, different ways of rituals/ceremonies and practices are carried out to celebrate the festivals in different places accordingly...It is usually one of the most famous Tamil festivals celebrated by Tamilians all over the world...

tamil-pongal


Significance of Makara Sankranti 


Makara Sankranti or Pongal is usually a harvest festival where farmers thank Mother nature,cattle,(Sun and rain) God for an abundant harvest and for continuous blessings likewise, celebrating with family and friends thereafter,starting a fresh ,reformed/renewed/priority-oriented, prosperous and blessed life. 

Generally, people celebrate by cleaning their homes, decorating with kolams/Rangolis/floral designs made with rice powder, making sweet dishes especially with Jaggery, sesame seeds, ghee, rice, lentil ...and praying to the almighty for peace, harmony, and prosperity, exchanging gifts, and celebrating with kiths and kins ...

Save-the-Farmers
Save the farmers ! SALUTE and PRAYERS!๐Ÿ™‡๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿ’–



But for me, it is a festival to thank the FARMERS, MOTHER NATURE, CATTLES/KAMADHENU, THE DIVINE (taken for granted and exploited in this KaliYuga) and spending quality time with the near and dear ones and making memories ...

Pongal is the main dish of Makara Sankranti festival .


What is Pongal?

Pongal means "to boil over" or "overflow" .It is a ceremony to prepare a traditional dish of (a new harvest) rice with milk and jaggery/sugar and offered to the divine. It is called Pongala in Kerala.


What makes Pongala stand out all over in Kerala or the country (India) in particular/spectacular, is the way the Pongala function is celebrated in one of the largest pilgrimages and the annual huge gathering of Hindu women at the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple near Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala (India), where women gather in and out of the temple premises, they pray and cook together in a pot the sweet Pongal and offer the Pongala dish to the Hindu temple goddess / Bhagavathy (aka Parvati avatar, Durga-Kannaki ๐Ÿ™). 

The Attukal Pongala has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest gathering of women in the world, featuring an estimated 2.5 million women including celebrities..Hence Attukal temple is considered to be Sabrimala for women ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ™#AmmeNarayanaDeviNarayana๐Ÿ™‡

Attukal-pongala
PICS CREDIT to the owners :Google Images


Two types of famous Pongal dishes that stand out in South India (especially in Tamil Nadu, the place Pongal originated from) are Chakkara/Sakkarai Pongal,a sweet version, and Ven Pongal/Khara Pongal,a savory version.

Pongal dish is quite flavorful and delish and easy to make and one of the most famous naivedyam meaning a food offered to Hindu deity as part of a worship ritual during festivals, regular pujas in the temple and also in many South Indian homes as an offering to the divine...Divinely finger-licking for devotees as well!

What is Sweet Pongal and how is Sweet Pongal prepared at home?


sarkkarai-pongal



Sweet Pongal is a sweet dish /dessert like a thick porridge consistency made with rice, jaggery/sugar, lentil (optional), milk(optional), and garnished with cashew nuts, raisins, etc in Ghee. Traditionally they are prepared in an earthen pot or in a pan on the gas stove like how we prepare rice,then adding the rest of the required ingredients to make a Pongal dessert...

Here is my quick and easy sweet Pongal recipe that can be prepared instantly and it tastes so authentic like the traditionally prepared sweet Pongal that you will keep on licking your fingers or the serving bowl or spoon for sure.


SWEET PONGAL/CHAKKARA PAYASAM/SAKKARAI PAYASAM


Ingredients

Rice (I used Sona Masoori) - 1 cup
Water - 4 cups
Jaggery powder - 2 cups
Salt a pinch or two

Ghee - 1/4 th - 1/2 cup
Cloves - 4-5 Nos.
Cardamom, crushed - 5 Nos
Cashewnuts a few
Raisins a few

PRESSURE COOKER

To prepare sweet pongal/chakkara payasam/Sakarrai Payasam

  • Wash and drain the rice.Keep it aside.
  • Place the pressure cooker onto the flame.
  • Pour the ghee ,add the cloves and cardamoms and saute for a minute on low flame.
  • Add the rice and saute on a low flame.
  • Add the jaggery and saute for a minute or two. (Adjust the Jaggery as per the sweetness you prefer,but the more you add, the more flavorful the payasam will be. You can also use sugar but the taste will be different)
  • Add the water into it and stir well.
  • Add the pinch of salt to balance the sweetness. (It can be avoided)
  • Cover the lid,put on the weight (I mean pressure cooker's :D ).
  • Pressure cook on high flame for 1 whistle, medium flame 1 whistle, and on a low flame the last whistle.(Keep in mind that the cooking time for rice may vary from the types of rice used to types of pressure cooker used)
  • Put off the flame and let the pressure get released slowly.
  • Then carefully remove the weight and open the lid.
  • If there is any liquid left, let it get absorbed a bit on low flame, stirring in between. (If you prefer the payasam to be little liquid consistency,then leave it as it is (put off the flame) because once it cools down, it will still thicken up )
  • Then put it off.
  • Pour leftover ghee in a pan,add the cashewnuts and raisins and saute for a minute. Then put off the flame.
  • Pour this tempering into the sweet pongal/chakkara Payasam/Sakkarai Payasam/Nei Payasam.Give a gentle stir.
  • Let it sit for awhile. The more it sits ,the more flavorful it becomes. It also thickens up.
  • The good and dark quality of Jaggery and more the authentic ghee makes sure that the sweet Pongal is in fact finger-licking and delicious.
  • That's it my quick to make yet authentic to taste Sweet pongal/chakkara Payasam/Sakkarai Payasam/Nei Payasam is READY !!

What is Ven Pongal and how is Ven Pongal prepared at home?


Ven-Pongal


Venn means white in Tamil and Pongal is the traditional savory dish made with rice, mung dal/lentil, and spices like pepper, cumin, etc, and garnished with cashew nuts, raisins tempered in ghee. Ven Pongal is also called Khara Pongal.

Like sweet Pongal, traditionally it is prepared in an earthen pot or in a pan on the gas stove like how we prepare rice ...But here is my quick and easy way to prepare Ven Pongal that tastes very authentic and simply delicious exactly like how ven Pongal is prepared traditionally.

Ven Pongal/Khara (Spicy) Pongal
Ingredients

Rice (Sona Masoori) 1 cup
Yellow Mung Dal  1/2 cup
Cumin seeds 1 Tbsp
Pepper seeds 1 Tbsp
Salt to taste
Water 4 Cups

For tempering:

Ghee 1/4th cup - 1/2 cup
Cashew nuts as you wish
Raisins as you wish
Curry leaves a few (optional)
Dry red chillies 1 or 2 (optional)

PRESSURE COOKER

To prepare Ven Pongal at home :
  • Wash and drain the rice and dal separately and keep them aside for 10 - 15 minutes.
  • Place the pressure cooker onto the gas on a low flame.
  • Add 1/4 th cup of Ghee.
  • Add 1/2 Tbsp of cumin seeds and pepper seeds and saute for a minute on low flame.
  • Then add the rice and dal and keep on sauteing them for a minute or two on low flame, making sure they don't get burnt.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Add the water and stir well.
  • Cover with the lid and the weight.
  • Pressure cook everything on high flame for 1 whistle, on a medium flame for 1-2 whistles and on low flame for 1 more whistle or until the rice and dal gets cooked.(It will depend upon the rice and the pressure cooker used)
  • Put off the flame and let the pressure get released by itself.
  • Then carefully remove the weight and the lid.
  • Meanwhile,heat ghee in a pan on low flame.
  • Add remaining cumin seeds and pepper seeds (adjust as per your preference as some people don't like to bite onto peppers a lot )
  • Add the red chili and curry leaves.
  • Add the cashewnuts and raisins and saute everything well for a minute or two.
  • Put off the flame.
  • Pour this into the cooked rice-dal mixture and gently stir . The more ghee is added, the more flavorful it will be. So, use as per your preference.
  • That's it quick and easy to make, authentic to taste Ven Pongal is READY! Serve it hot as it is or with hot sambar ..YUM!!!!

MEMORIES /FLASHBACK/FLASHNOW

how-to-make-pongal


During my childhood days in North India, Bokaro, Jharkhand, it used to be quite chilly during winter especially around December, which is not at all my favorite season in any way ๐Ÿ˜ฐ. However, what made this chilly season pure joy was the eve of Makara Sankranthi and the celebration of Makara Vilakku in one of the famous temples, the Ayyappa temple in Bokaro.

Ayyappa-temple-bokaro
Swamiye Sharanam Ayyappa (Pic credit : Google images to respective owners..THX!)

Usually, we would go to the temple once in a while during the evening time to attend the deep Aradhana /the evening puja. But during Makara Sankranthi, almost all Malayalees and other South Indians and everyone who had a devotion towards Lord Ayyappa would spend the entire day in the temple itself ...I used to look forward to that joyful day - wearing my favorite dress and the new sweater and heading to the temple with my parents where almost all my Malayalee friends would also come over ...๐Ÿ’ƒ

venn-pongal-recipe


It was a special feeling to visit the temple in the morning, the temple decorated all over like a beautiful divine bride and groom into one, the strings of garlands of yellow and orange flower especially Marigolds hanging all over the temple, the fragrance of agarbatti/incense stick swaying in and out,far and wide ,the pious sound of temple bell that can diffuse any negativity all around and far, the excited devotees visiting the temple one by one with a long queue of scooters, motorcycles, cars outside the temple premises....It is a dreamy pure day of bliss to witness and experience...

We all, at home ,getting ready and hopping onto our Vijay scooter, Acha driving,amma and bro (till he was a teen) at the back of the scooter and me standing in front, holding strong onto the scooter's steer/handle like the little guard ๐Ÿ˜„, enjoying every twist and turns heart full of joy...


(Here is the demo /video to make sweet Pongal and Ven Pongal quick and easy my way and making a Pongal Platter as well..on a snowy day...wearing one of my saree from my wedding day....as it is our wedding Anniversary...๐Ÿ˜Š

AND I felt superpower around the world giving a blow to all the culprits indirectly and supporting me ..our Namaste and kisses from my little one to them!.. Thanks to the divine for being there for me !! 

The way you came to my rescue, similarly, when you will be in trouble and for the right cause,you will be protected by the divine as well !! MARK MY WORD !๐Ÿ™‡

The moment we enter the temple, I would jump with joy to see my friends too, enjoying the delicately decorated temple premises, climbing the stairs (pathinettam padi/18 Nos. of stairs) into the temple, the holy sound of the temple bells ringing, the holy aroma of incense sticks and sambaranis,women gathering in groups, chit-chatting with joy and making malas/garlands for God, devotees offering prayers one by one, Priest performing pujas and preparing for the main ceremony for the evening, volunteers preparing lunch, children running around the temple up and below or playing in a corner, a perfect place for all family friends to have a memorable get together ...

Pic credit : Google Images .Thx!-- To our glorious golden simple childhood days 

Next to the temple stood my first school, Chinmaya Vidyalaya, and the newly build Ayyappa school, filled with nostalgia.

I would look forward to playing with my friends avoiding all my Malayalee teachers at any cost and any interaction with my parents๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ™ˆ #ThatHolyCowMoment....Blushing at all my crushes,(my classmates have no idea but I had a crush (healthy) on every boy ๐Ÿ™Š๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‰ because they all were innocent, cool, and friendly and I can't imagine my school days without every one of them for making it memorable)...#Hi10ToMyClassmates๐Ÿ‘ซ

The first and foremost highlight of the festival celebration would be the lunch - the sadya,the traditional Kerala feast,a mishmash of rice, and numerous finger-licking curries served on fresh Banana leaves....That day I ate all the vegetables for sure, they tasted divinely delicious with family, friends, and strangers around...all happy faces...๐Ÿ˜Š

sadya
Pic credit : Google images



Then we (myself and my parents ) would take a short break and visit a nearby family friend across the temple to take some rest and get ready for a special night at the temple thereafter...

In the evening ,we all would get fresh and wear another set of new traditional dresses and head to the temple to participate in the thaalapoli procession,a ritual ,where girls and women would carry a plate with coconut, flowers, and lamp and stand in a queue in the temple premises to celebrate the deity, Lord Ayyappa with prayers,chenda melam/a special kind of drum beats carried out by experts especially during auspicious occasions like this, the priests would carry the deity around the temple and once every devotee have a darshanam (have a peek of divine and his/her default blessings) , the deity is carried like a baby and placed with utter devotion into the main temple , followed by prayers, and the final darshanam once again after the main puja with a pious and sweet ending when the priests would distribute the chakkara pongal /sweet Pongal/Nei Payasam to all devotees..

pongala-function
The treasure is inside...


There is no word to describe how heavenly that payasam/dessert tasted and the leftover payasam would be left in a super-large urulis/heavy brass utensils for the devotees to take back some Prasadam with vadas ,malars etc if they wish (And everyone did!).....

So, for me, the mere mention of chakkara pongal /Nei Payasam reminds me of those memorable days/nights spent at Bokaro Ayyappa temple during Makara Sankranthi .....

In Kerala also ,we get similar prasadams in temples ...

ven-pongal-recipe

After coming to the US,I got the first taste of Ven Pongal in temples over here and it is also so yummy, healthy, and filling...Finally kinda mastered my version of ven Pongal too....Tastes authentic made instantly...

Honey P is also happy it seems. (Isi khushi mein)So, by all powers vested in me, his new name is Honey Pongala !! ...I am sweet and he is the salt version ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ™Š...(Shhh...secret between me and you )...After all, he gave me the idea to overflow...๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜

Also, I believe rice is a staple in most of the countries around the world ...So, dedicating this post to "Unity in diversity and overall prosperity !" and most importantly to all the unseen and unsung heroes - the hardworking farmers especially from India and around the world for being the ultimate source to bring the rice, etc to our plate. 

When we already have rumors about the invention of plastic rice and the scary repercussions, I would pray to the divine that may every farmer's hard work and hardships may never go unnoticed. May every farmer be celebrated like a world citizen and have a decent livelihood, not only feeding the nation but also may be able to feed their family, themselves as well. 

May their demands be heard and taken care of by the higher power vested in people we trust around the globe! 

nature-vs-man


Reminds me of my all-time favorite movie "Swades" , where my most fav. actor,SRK sir (Mohan in the movie) said," Main nahi manta hamara desh duniya ka sabse mahaan desh hai. Lekin yeh zaroor manta hoon ki hum mein kabliyat hai, taqat hai, apne desh ko mahaan banane ki .."Jai Hind !๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿ™

I WISH..I had the capability and money to do something like he did in the movie and make a huge difference in people who are unseen and unsung heroes for real....like farmers/villagers..

After all, like Gandhi ji said,"The soul of India lives in its villages and agriculture is the soul of our Indian economy and farmers are our Annadaata "...With the increasing number of farmers committing suicide frequently ,it hurts to even imagine his state of mind and life that leads to such a heartbreaking decision, hard to hear and digest helplessly...destroying his family indirectly as well....

Make the most of this human birth even if it is a small contribution for a right cause....



They say,"Where there is a will, there is a way!"..Hopefully, one day, maybe divine will show me a way and means to make a huge difference in such unseen and unsung heroes as well....Fingers crossed !! Amen to that!

For now,all I can do to comfort my grieving heart is to pray to the divine and say ,"Aaaal is well" ...The justice will be served eventually....A change takes time...till then, with a deep sigh, I will try to comfort myself by venting here and there and donating now and then when possible...

Love and light,
Take care ๐Ÿ’










25 December 2021

Merry Xmas and a happy new year 2022 in advance


 Just thought of wishing everyone a very happy Xmas and a Happy New Year in advance.

It's been quite a challenging year with a difficult ending....Any child regardless is a lovely gift from God . I've got a history of miscarriages...

We were expecting triplets...though two embryos were weak from the start...we lost them 

all :((.....Usually, the thing with the people seeking an infertility treatment is that (mostly) until and unless they see the face of the baby, they are always in a "What-if-something-goes-wrong-mode " , they share less fearing of any evil eyes and bad omen/news ...This is the first time I am sharing the pain we were going through...Since last few months...



People desperate to have a child,who seek infertility treatment,they go through A LOT- physical trauma, emotional/mental trauma, and spiritual trauma..they go to places, doctors, hospitals far and wide, one-of-a-kind treatments that assure hopes and promise success, the painful treatments, the horrible side-effects, and the recovery, holy places far and wide, become superstitious and over spiritual ..Hoping for a MIRACLE!!


It takes a heavy toll especially on the woman which can't be expressed in words ... Thank God Science has developed so much that we can by hook or crook conceive our own baby in the desired way as well .....Until and unless one experiences that trauma, they have no idea what such couples go through....Those trials and tribulations, tears and heartbreaks, strength, patience, endurance,over-cautiousness,over-sensitive,over-reactive,over-protective, and resilience are beyond any explanations...I can write a book on that !!.... Top it all, the taunts, mockery pre, and post-baby...It just continues ...


As if some people/sadist were wishing upon someone...Simply can't stand that why someone is not having a baby and then can't digest that when they have one , how and why it happened ......It is never-ending...Being educated or uneducated is all same..Being human is a challenge to them ...Being cruel is natural to them ...Oh yes some may go to holy places to offer prayers for their well-being though or may even know the entire Bhagwad Geeta or all Holy verses as well...Some think they are God with a heart of stone...

And God forbid...Like the saying, what goes around, comes around one day...

My close friend here....



It is an extremely painful experience for couples going/went through the above phase that they find it very hard to even discuss openly because of the existence of such cruel people ...or the outcome is the 

outburst unleashed when provoked!!

The only one pic in an orange dress...

That's why my baby girl is special - our blood-y miracle child !! Worth waited for ~ Beautiful gift from God!!:))...Well, every kid is beautiful nonetheless !! That's why any negative judgment = outburst sometimes !Also, single-handedly without anyone's help or any prior experience, I am raising her by God's grace..My hubby is at times helpful too...But we are always learning every day...It is not a child's play either ..initially, it was overwhelming as I had no prior experience and I had a responsibility of

a little baby ...she is still a handful but manageable as she has grown! :)


BTW,I am looking up at the Original Lord Krishna and smirking...how he directed my hubby to name our child,"Devu Krishna Praveen " (Our Diamond!)..:)...(It helped to cover up the stain on my face !)๐Ÿ’

Anyways,as we were recovering from the (triplet's) loss,we came to know about my father-in-law's demise ...I was my hubby's and my father-in-law's choice for his son.We all are relatives but I never met my hubby or his family until the day he visited my house as we were raised outside Kerala in different places and then we got hitched within a week.It was not like going to any stranger's house.

So,we had a special close bond with my father-in-law especially !! My hubby just came back from India after performing all rites ..So, we won't be celebrating any functions for another year as per Hindu/Malayali customs....That's why thought of wishing everyone a very happy new year in advance....

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Last but not the least,I must mention that dialogue from the movie, Annaatthe, where the superstar Rajnikanth Sir said," They may have money, fame, and contacts but they may not have what I've - "AFFECTION !" ...๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿ™

This affection is what makes one treat others as God or make them feel like God ...And affection is MY superpower! ...What is yours on a serious note ?? (Unni Sir/super-Man don't overthink..Best wishes as always !!:)) )

So,please keep in mind...


So,may this year and every year be like Audrey Hepburn said,"For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair, let a child run his fingers through it once a day." and even if you can't help someone, at least don't try to hurt someone.And when it comes to me, it hurts me a lot to hurt someone ...it will be like I have no choice then only...

Don't encourage others to do sin or be a part of that! Live and let live!

And don't ever forget, the divine is watching everything. Judgment day is for everyone eventually !!

Well,the world didn't even spare Lord Jesus and now I know why I've got this strong affinity towards him. And I don't like his pictures on the cross. It literally hurts me!!

Anyways,Merry Christmas and a happy new year...



Rishta dil se dil ke aitbaar ka,Zinda hai humi se naam pyaar ka

Ki marke bhi kisi ko yaad ayenge,Kisi ke aansuo mein muskuraanyenge

Kahega phool har kali se baar baar,Jeena isi ka naam hai

Kisi ki muskurahaton pe ho nisar,Kisi ka dard mil sake to le udhaar

Kisi ke waaste ho tere dil mein pyaar,Jeena isi ka naam hai............................(Song from the movie,Anari)

Love and light,

And don't twist,pls remember, my name is..

manjusha

Mamata aur bhavana toh harr aurat mein hoti hai (right sisters?) and my man's name is Honey P =Prave meaning the efficient and the sufficient !๐Ÿ’—


In my blog or vlog pls keep in mind : 

DISCLAIMER: Any resemblance to actual persons or actual events is purely coincidental until and unless clearly stated!!


Kal Khel Mein Hum Ho Na Ho

Gardish Mein Taare Rahenge Sada

Bhoolenge Hum Bhoologe Tum

Par Hum Tumhare Rahenge Sada

Rahenge Yahin Apne Nishan...............

No regrets!

To all the old people out there,I see you like my parents,pls shower your blessings always, Protect us!

To all the young or same age people you are my friends forever without any benefits, United we stand!

To all the kids around the world,I see you all in my little girl...Love and love only !!


Good-Bye to all cruel, heartless, sadist,no-GodFearing people, dark inside out..Stay away , keep your darkness to yourself!!

Over to my low key life,

เคšเคฒ เค…เค•ेเคฒा เคšเคฒเค…เค•ेเคฒा เคšเคฒ เค…เค•ेเคฒा

เคคेเคฐा เคฎेเคฒा เคชीเค›े เค›ूเคŸा เคฐाเคนी เคšเคฒ เค…เค•ेเคฒा.....................

 In divine I trust !AMEN!!

P.P.S.I loved watching the movie "TUCK JAGADISH " .......The concept of "DARK K-NIGHTS' (OF THE SOUL)" was well captured and portrayed. THANK YOU, Tollywood !! MAY OUR YOUTH ESPECIALLY BE LIKE THAT = "Man of character" not just spoiled brats !!!!

That defines the real man, not looks, six-packs, status, wealth, or power unless they are used for the right purpose !! Those things otherwise will impress only a non-virtuous woman/person !!

Not that women are weak ...

Real men don't stain, scam, or slay women because they see their Amma, daughter, and sister in them = RESPECTED!! Just remember that !!(Right? The famous dialogue from the movie,"The commissioner" (My favvvv...movie) Mr.Bharat Chandran /Suresh Gopi Sir..HUGE FAN!!)๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜Š #IFeltUnsafe ...I had to mention in my last post not to accuse anyone or create any trouble but exclusively for my self-protection/Self-defense.... I think I got an uncomfortable phone call as well.... I also got many MMS  ...

Meaning Veer 786...

(Like in the movie Kurup,the hero tells the heroine,"You may go to jail but I won't ever !"...Dear HACKER,I am not sure who you are but I've informed the right personnel about it here and in India...FYI ! )

You see there is a case like this that shook India ...It was one of the brutal crimes and heart-wrenching incidents which demand justice ....I must say, since I kinda mentioned it indirectly here /Bhavana ,though my main motive wasn't that yet it was in a way,I emphasize,I really felt both the victim/survivor and the accused were both framed and the case was fabricated..I was the only person in my friend group who believed that the accused is innocent until proven guilty with solid evidence...How can this accused person be so inhuman when he sacrificed his wife to remarry a woman who got stained because of rumors of an affair between them or whatever...Only God knows the truth after all !...

Hope the original culprit is caught, punished and justice is provided soon for the ultimate safety of the women...




You see, the way I was thrown lemons at by outsiders one after another...I felt unsafe eventually !... Whether a woman is walking on the road, or at the workplace, or at home if someone tries to harm her dignity by words or actions especially for the wrong reason, she may react, may lash out, may do anything for her self-defense .....That's our birthright, that's all I did! Otherwise, I was raised to respect everyone regardless!


By the way,I must emphasize,I write because it is my passion,it makes me happy and I hope it will others too ...I've no intention to teach or preach or play politics/games or put people in their place ...Because I am also imperfect, working on bettering myself everyday....Just sharing my wisdom,and rest samjhdaron ko ishara hi kafi hota hai ...

I may clarify something if necessary to clear any misunderstanding especially if anything may hamper my family, myself, or society per se (doing my bit !) because I am a family person, I've self-respect, and am also a law-abiding humanitarian, otherwise, my blog is all about food, people, and memories rekindled or made...




Since everyone may perceive differently, some things may sound coincidental or odd, should I be punished for that or stop pursuing my passion???...I am simply minding my own business !...

Like I always say ,I am only responsible for what I say not for what you understand !!

Dear Virat sir and Ma'am,I felt like you called me Sangeetha Bijlani ..Bohuth dino se notice kiya maine(It's been a while I've been noticing you),so,I gave you an example (reply) of what kind of Bijli(thunder)-ani I am :D and I am a one-man woman meaning straight, married, and a mommy !๐Ÿ˜„...I love you both !!Hope you will understand!๐Ÿ’๐Ÿ˜Š

Hadd kar di kuch logo ne...Insaan hu ...Murti nahi...How spoiled brats get fun at the expense of others....

This is the diya/lamp I light at home to offer prayers to Goddess...It's been like this for a while ..Maa/Goddess can't be seen precisely..Like I said,chahe sadharan aurat ho ya Devi maa,mamta aur bhavana sab mein hoti hai....So,I put the other pics especially Lord Krishna full black, and now everything is fine ...Afterall,my nakshatra/Zodiac sign is of Lord Krishna and our KulDevi maa..:))....#MyStrength๐Ÿ™I am divinely protected !!


(I dedicate the last year 2021 to Maa Bagalamukhi,the Hindu Goddess in Yellow saree...Hey Maa,I pray to the Universal mother, protect us and bless us always...May you turn all my enemies to my well-wishers or as you wish ! ๐Ÿ™‡)

Baat unhi ki hoti hai,jinme kuch baat hoti hai :))....


UNBELIEVABLE, the day I completed this blog post ,I saw Suresh Gopi sir's latest movie ,"KAVAL" meaning (GUARD)ian Angel ....This movie pretty much summed up what I mentioned in this post...Nice movie !! ๐Ÿ‘Dear Suresh Gopi sir,enikkum vendi eppozhum kaval undavvannnam pls !I am counting on you !!:)

THE MAN !๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™‡

Also,I am not a feminist or a man-hater (except those who look at women as just some sexual dumb object only),I do believe men with moral values who respect or value women do exist ! ...Dear men,pls prove all these feminists wrong that not all men are out there to put women at their place to prove how powerful they are....I wish..I will pray !!!....So that women can feel safe,less defensive, more trustworthy, and be more friendly simply ...#IAmAHumanist

Even our Hindu God's can be won over with devotion especially when they are addressed as RadheShyam,Uma/Gauri Shankar ,LakshmiNarayan,SHRI Ram etc etc (FeMALE counterpart first, that's why she is called woMAN,the SHAKTHI)...That's why we have Nav (9)ratris and Vjayadasami ...



Jai Hind !

Wish you all a very happy and prosperous new year!

P.S.    SPECIAL THX !

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๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ’–Dearest Samantha Ma'am..Just wanted to say thanks a lot for your love and concern .:))...

Well, just like your movie,"Oh BABY" something like that happened in my life . Look no further!

BTW,(not poking or scratching any wounds being an outsider) but I admire so much the most bubbly, cutest, madly in love, and made for each other couple ..Being a huge fan of both of you,I pray to Divine,hope you both will be back together one day forever once again..Well, whatever happens, happens for good.So,may you have that LOVEly smile on your face intact always, and wish you loads of happiness,peace, and blessings..Happy New Year !๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ’

@Ranveer Singh sir..I RAN to my gym  ,you VEER/the royal blood/warrior indeed! Thx sir !:))..Thx to Deepika ma'am too for allowing your man to save my honor..You have a story to tell your daughter especially ..your kids will be so proud of their father !:)..Best wishes!

@Prithviraj sir -I must say this.....I feel like I owe you this msg.. I am a huge fan of you! Something like your movie,"nandanaM" happened in my life . That's it! :))...I followed you in Insta but Unni sir was suggested by the insta..I've only seen 3 of his movies so far now (Mallu singh,Michael, and Mamangam).

After watching Michael,being a huge fan of Nivin sir,I thought Unni sir was a villain.I kinda hated him after that!I've seen a few of his movie songs on youtube that is melodious where I admired the gorgeous actresses he paired with mostly ...That's why I was not really his huge fan per se ...Though he is equally talented like you all are ...So, when our path crossed in Insta that was during the shooting of Mamangam,I couldn't recognize him ..I was like wow,I didn't know Vijay Devarakonda sir's doppelganger existed in Mollywood...I remember leaving him a comment,sir you should do a Malayalam remake of Arjun Reddy ,little did I know he would become (kinda) one in my virtual life :D:D....

When no one cared to give me any attention or support,I was surprised a celebrity had time for me. That's why he is very special to me!

Besides, there was this strange strong sense of familiarity when I really paid attention that I've never felt before with anyone from the opposite gender ...He was not even a crush or an infatuation...That's what non-believers named brahmam/illusion eventually,...

Well,I would have kept this thing called illusions in my heart but my main intention to mention the soul connection I felt was since the people from your industry were staining him for no reason right from the start and since he is like us, not born with a silver spoon,I never wanted to admit that he was a real villain in real life too,I didn't get that vibe from him ..

His fans are more active than I was, then how can I be a Meera and he was also simply being playful with no strings attached..I had to mention all these (soul-connection story)to highlight indirectly that he was innocent,I am by his side and I wanted to find the real player behind it and eventually got stained...That was my motive! But being tagged along for long, he became more and more special too...Anyways,I feel honored that you represented my Honey P ..Thx to you and suPriya ma'am too (Honey Ps from reel life!) !:)

@Unni sir...Hearty congratulations to you on the success of the movie,"Meppadiyyan" and now you are officially a film Producer sir..Yayyyy!!That was my intention.I looked forward to this moment so eagerly!I couldn't watch your movie,"Meppadiyyan" in theatre as my little one won't sit at a place for long especially to watch a movie...and it is a little risky as she can't be vaccinated ..We spend time outside very little...This was one of the movies I always wanted to watch badly..So,I mocked you a little to speed up the process :)... ..BTW,my bro's wife's name is Anju :D..Thx for honoring my request though (I think !) ..Appreciate it !:)

Sir,pls do more solo (MAIN HERO) movies...All the best for your personal (settled with family/more unni s ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ‘) and professional life!

You were a blessing in disguise (the best part!) sir !:)...Thanks!

If you ever felt like I was playing or kicked you out,it was for the woman in your life (she is your identical twin flame for sure :D;D ...right Vishnu Mohan๐Ÿ˜Ž sir ๐Ÿ˜‚)or for other potential suitors and for my man ...I said ,once "Ukkad lo jo ukkadna hai "..it was for your woman ,then I was not sure of your relationship status and I indirectly wanted to tell her ,with true love ,make him yours only..As I don't wanna hurt him in any way..And you all cruel ppl toh mere hi peechey padd Gaye ukkadne keliye ๐Ÿ˜กBTW,ma'am r u doing .. ❤magic on me I wonder?..A birdie gave me a hint..๐Ÿ˜„..No worries, you both are made for each other ! ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ‘..I was your fan, not his :))..

@Aparna ma'amS (Sr. & Jr.)- Big fan of you both !๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ˜

Sir,plss do no more favor to me..waise,"bin pucchey kuch kaam kiya,aapne bhare mehfil/duniya mein mujhey badnaam kiya"...nahi bhooloongi mein ye jab tak hai jaan....May U always win !๐Ÿ™‡

@Ranbir Kapoor sir - When I was in India,I saw a pic with your mother and sis,kind of cheering up for me I felt ..Thx sir to you and hi to your Gangubai ..err.. I mean Radha..Best wishes !:)~ Barfi :D

@Krithi Shetty Ma'am..Appreciate all your efforts :D...You are the MOST-EST BEAUTYfull girl I've ever seen in my life... I and my daughter loves your Uppena songs like crazy..It is a visual treat to watch you ! Love and best wishes !:)

@Bhagyashree Ma'am-Loved watching Meenakshi Sundreshwar..Your son is as innocent and good-looking as you looked in MPK...He looked like a South Indian guy,the type of guy girls like to marry from our world...:D...

Last but not the least, Someone special from our world,Mithun๐Ÿ˜Š...Was that song for me??..Thx !..Thx for reading my blog and for remembering me after all these years..Your yellow garbage bag :D..Well,I was really playing with lemons in that video and not juggling ppl, many thought so ..I just got tagged along and in my effort to prevent anyone from getting stained for no reason,I eventually got stained...I would have rather juggled YOU not people out of my league ! :D...Anyways,thanx for everything..happy to see you beautifully settled !gOOD lUCK!:)

MY HEARTFELT THANX AND BEST WISHES TO EVERYONE WHO WERE SUPPORTIVE AND PROTECTIVE TOWARDS ME THAT I KNOW AND I DON'T KNOW !๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ™‡๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ’