Monday, 30 January 2012

Fund Drive for Vaidehi Ashram of Destitute Girls, Hyderabad

Siri of Cooking with Siri is organising a fund drive for Vaidehi Ashram which is a home for destitute girls based in Hyderabad, India. The fund drive is from 26 January 2012 to 25 February 2012.To encourage people to donate to this wonderful cause, she has rallied together more food bloggers to sponsor raffle prizes. You can donate any amount with a minimum of $10 or Rupees 500. Each $10 donation will give you one raffle ticket towards a raffle prize of your choice. For Example, a donation of $20 will fetch you 2 raffle tickets which can be used to choose on any of the raffle prizes. You can use all your raffle tickets on one prize (in turn increasing the chances in the lucky draw) or on different prizes. Some prizes will only be shipped within India or US or UK and a few of them can be shipped worldwide. So choose a prize based on whether it can be delivered to you. You can see the list of prizes and the codes here.
Once the donation process is completed, please forward your payment confirmation message to info(dot)siri(at), clearly specifying which raffle prize(s) you are interested in. Within 24 hours, your name and contributed amount will be added to the 'Fund Drive Supporters List' at the very end of Siri's blog post here. If you want to stay anonymous, please let Siri know in advance. For any correspondence/questions/queries, please send an email to
When i heard about the fund drive, I wanted to contribute a raffle prize so much, but i was too late as the fund drive had already begun. Now all i can do is urge you to support in this good cause and help Siri collect as much as possible for those dear girls. $1764 have been contributed till now. All photos are by Siri.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Indian Gooseberries (Usirikaya) - Revisiting Childhood

The fruit in the above picture is called a gooseberry (not to be confused with this gooseberry which is mainly used for pickles) and has a unique sour tang to it. The sourness, if i have to describe it to someone who has never eaten it, is somewhat close to that of a raw mango. These were sold in heaps on mobile carts outside my school and were eaten raw with a sprinkle of salt and red chili powder. And i have had my share as a kid. During school days, there was also a tree right next to the building where we lived and there were at least 10 kids around my age (plus or minus two years) living in that area. The whole gang of kids could always be found playing in the vicinity of the gooseberry tree. A vigorous shake of the tree would result in a rain of these green berries and the kids would rush to pick as many as we could hold in out tiny hands. The branches of the tree are quite fragile, i know now because i had a fractured right hand while playing around/ climbing the tree when i was five. It wasn't all bad, all i remember about that accident now is that i got to skip a whole set of exams in my first grade class because my writing hand was hurt and got to munch a whole lot of gooseberries too ;-)
All this revisiting the childhood is now happening because when my parents visited me a couple of weeks ago, they brought these gooseberries along. I hadn't eaten one in almost fifteen years. Turns out a tree miraculously appeared in their backyard and it bore first fruits this year. And how i could i not get a share of these childhood favourites. The black and white photo goes to Susan's Black and White Wednesday event at The Well Seasoned Cook.
So did you have a taste of these gooseberries?

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Button Mushroom Fry (Dry Curry)

A few years ago i used to take up a pen and paper only when i was unhappy, writing was almost therapeutic. But these days, i don't touch the blog when i am not in a good mood. I don't do philosophical musings anymore because i am not sure how people will react. We go online to spread happiness and good cheer, to share in the joy and not to hear other people's troubles. And so when i lack inspiration to write cheerfully, i have been giving up trying to write entirely. Today i decided it was high time you see something else on my homepage than week old wishes for a festival that has long been celebrated and even the festive cooking leftovers have long disappeared from the fridge. So i come back to you with something i have cooked last year, i mean last month, i mean it was just a couple of weeks ago. I chose this dish to share today because i loved the photography while cooking this as much as i loved the end result in food.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Sankranti Subhakankshalu/ Happy Pongal

Wishing everyone a very happy and prosperous Sankranti. Here's a visual treat with a collection of festival pictures. Have a great time, everyone.
 My mother-in-law and i took a little more than an hour yesterday evening to make this  Sankranti muggu (design made with rice flour) in front of our house. The muggu is then decorated with turmeric, vermilion, some regi pallu, tomatoes or dosakaya (lemon cucumber?) and coins. The right side design was done entirely by me. I used to do these designs with mom when i was much younger, but have lost touch when i left my home town and state and country for higher education and then job. It was great to find out i could still do this. Though i have to admit that i practised thrice on paper before starting with the rice flour on the floor. It starts with 25 dots, continuing with 23, 21 so on up to 1 by reducing one dot on each side. The dots are then joined to make the design. The muggu made with lines as seen on the left is the more traditional one for Sankranti.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Cauliflower Tomato Rice

Its been so hot in Hyderabad the last few days with the day temperatures hovering around 33 degrees centigrade. Hyderabadi winter was supposed to cool, cold even and if not until February, at least until the middle of January. Sure, its ideal weather for my home made ice cream to be gobbled up, but please believe me i was not praying for hot weather just to enjoy my ice cream. And now because i am wondering if the weather Gods are changing the temperatures to suit my cooking, I am going for a spicy hot Cauliflower rice.
I love rice. A good fried once remarked that it was my favourite not just among food items, but my most favourite thing in the world. So much did i love it, that he was considering gifting me a big bag of rice as a birthday gift. No, i ended up with a cake that year, but it wasn't out of consideration if you must know. 

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Homemade Eggless Strawberry Ice cream (No Cooking)

My love for sweets not withstanding, i didn't think i could get addicted to ice cream. Not until i made one at home with fresh strawberries in the peak of their season. And i discovered whole new limits to the quantity of ice cream that can be consumed in one sitting. My limits at least. At recent trips to the farmer's market i could see street side vendors selling packs of strawberries at rates much less than in super markets. And when i found that the cost of a pack was coming down with every visit over the last two months, i found myself buying increasing quantities of these red beauties. I ate some as dessert, just the fruits, but wasn't satisfied. And froze some because the rate at which fresh strawberries were coming into the house was more than the rate at which they were being consumed.  (By the way they freeze extremely well, i take a peek at the ones in the freezer once in a while and they look temptingly fresh). So as the year was coming to a close, i decided i was going to welcome the new year with a big bowl of ice cream, an irresistible one.