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2009 October 23 [Friday]


This entry has been dedicated to this awesomeness.

Over the dipavali weekend I made some Karanji, a traditional maharashtrian delicacy--you'll know why if you've ever gone through the rigorous process of cooking it from scratch, especially the poli making part.

Ingredients for Puran/saran/inner filling :

  • 1 cup powdered cashew nuts
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds
  • 2 tsp charoli
  • 1 cup mixed dry fruit/nuts (unsalted almond, cashew nut, pistachios)
  • Half cup rava
  • 1.5 cups sugar (this depends on the level of sweetness one desires)
  • 1 pinch nutmeg powder
  • 4 elaichi pods crushed
Puran Preparation :
Powder the sugar till it does not have a grainy texture. Its easier to buy ready-to-use powered sugar but the proportions given above will vary slightly.
1. Dry roast the rava (and poppy seeds separately) to a golden color and keep aside to cool.
2. Roast the nuts in a tablespoon of ghee and keep to cool.
3. Take a large bowl and mix the roasted nuts, with one cup powdered cashew nuts, powedered sugar, poppy seeds, charuli, rava, nutmeg and elaichi powder. This is a dry powder filling which will stay for a few days. Also when deepfried it will automatically get cooked.

Note : The filling for this sweet dumpling can also include grated copra (dessicated dry coconut) but since copra has an irritating trait --it can smell rancid within 2-3 days reducing the storage shelf-life, I dont use it.

Ingredients for external dough cover:
  • 1 cup maida
  • 1 tsp ghee (butter)
  • salt (one pinch)
  • water and 20ml warm milk for mixing the dough
  • 2 tbsp cornflour and half cup ghee
External dough cover Preparation :
The dough will have to be prepared atleast an hour before use.
0. Add 1 tbsp HOT ghee to 1 cup maida and mix well. This will make the karanji cover crisp.
1. Add little warm milk while kneading the dough with required water so the dough will be soft and rise well.
2. Then add a pinch of salt and knead well for 5 minutes. Cover well and set aside.
Additional Notes : In a small cup mix 2 tbsp cornflour in half cup ghee for later use.

Karanji Preparation:
0. Cut some dough and roll-out three polis.
1. Take the first poli and apply the cornflour+ghee mixture all over this poli and lay the second poli on top and apply cornflour+ghee on it and cover it with the third poli.
2. Now roll all three poli's tightly but with a light hand, taking care that they dont break during the process. 
3. Cut them into small oval pieces.
4. Take one oval and roll out the poli again, taking care that its not too thin in the middle. Place the prepared stuffing in the middle of your poli.
5. Fold it in half and roll the corners of the puri inwards. It should be sealed properly, else the stuffing will become burnt sediment while frying.
6. Deep fry it till it becomes golden-brown or you can bake it in a pre-heated oven for 10 minutes at 100 degrees Celcius. Serve it hot or cold.
7. The karanji can last for 7-8 days if stored in an air tight container.

2009 October 18 [Sunday]

A silent Dipavali

High decibel levels have always resulted in a migrane and since childhood I've always cringed silently at noisy pubs/discos, honking while speeding, loud music and other public noise pollutants. So what is it about Indians being noisy in any celebration? --whether its a marriage or ganesh chaturthi or divali or holi or just about any event ; most Indians think its their public birthright to keep a loudspeaker facing your home because they are the truest custodians of your religion. Gee, isnt a festival supposed to spread cheer, kindness and generosity instead of noise ?!

The maximum pollution is reserved for dipavali -- the firecrackers noise and pollution from chemicals fumes that one is subjected to, whether its the horrid sutli-lakshmi bombs (that was what it was called when i was a kid and i detested the chemical fumes and noise) intended to awaken the neighborhood at 3:30 am or pre-pubescent boys thinking its oh-so-funny to burst fire crackers as women walk past or train a rocket at someone's home as a prank -- Ever heard of a fire hazard !?!

Its strange how people can become a public nuisance under the guise of celebration and indulge in public displays of wealth. In grade4 I had read a news report on small children in sivakasi being exploited to make crackers and seeing pictures of their hands with boils made me resolve that I'd never touch a phuljadi or buy firecrackers (I had also resolved to not wear silk or use leather objects but was forced to give these two up after I outgrew my teenage years) which didnt go down well with my family and especially with school friends who thought peer pressure and jeering would make me change my mind. Didnt happen, this one made it :)

Over the years I used to wonder if we will ever learn to celebrate in silence and despite not foisting my beliefs/thoughts about chemical pollution on others, when I read about school kids being more aware of their environment a few days ago, life came to a full circle -- Eight-year old Mitul Mehta is my favorite!

2008 October 9 [Thursday]


Vijaya Dashami (or Dashera), heralds the end of Navaratri (and nine nights of dancing :-)) and DurgaPuja. But most importantly for students dashami marks the anniversary of being one ... My respects to one of my past guru's!

Hmm,... well the correct version is : "vijaya dashami' is the first day (of learning, or vidyarambha) for any classical arts student. This is the day a new student visits the teachers home (with guru dakshina and tambula) and requests her/him to accept them as a student. A tip : on any other day the guru may reject to accept you if s/he finds you are not up to the mark, but this day is such that they will not turn any student away.

Although the ritual is small and should not take more than a few minutes, it can (and does) stretch for an hour(s) or more when hundreds of students throng the teacher's home, so one has to wait for one's turn. Students who learn dance + an instrument, or multiple forms of art have a mad rush between 3-4 teacher's homes and lotsa patient waiting :-)

The best part of it all is getting to eat 'sweet chundal' but by the time we went it was over :-(  but our guruji had made salty ones for us :-) and it tasted just like Ma makes it so I didnt care so long as i got to eat it :-) and she taught a new song [named Sarasvati, after the Raga] after we sang an old one.  Talking of music, some time ago, I had started a wiki page on NCVasanthakokilam and her song 'yen palli konder ayyaa' reminds me that i need to get out of my slumber and finish the Mohanam raga notes soon.

Sending out hundreds of dashera sms's was not such a good idea afterall ... weirdly half the messages got deferred and some group messages were just dropped ... I really dont feel like texting/thumbing again, so Shubh Dashera y'all !!

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