Monday, January 31, 2011
All the rickshaw drivers have one and it is very convenient to be able to call "your" rickshaw driver to pick you up.
BUT, you need to be prepared for a timely and very rather complicated ordeal, just to get a sim card.
I recommend to bring your own cell phone, but it has to be "unlocked" so that you can just put an Indian sim card into it.
You can actually buy unlocked cell phones on ebay.
Or you can a very basic cell phone here for really cheap ($10), but texting will be really tough, and you want to text because it is actually free.
To buy a cell phone and/or sim card you will need to bring a copy of your passport and visa and an extra passport picture. All of this can be done with in walking distance to the cell phone place but it takes a looooong time. The government is controlling and keeping an eye on everything by requesting passport copies, pics etc. The shop owner has to fill out quite the paperwork for each sim card and has to call and text the info into some government office to get an approval code.
The sim card I bought was only $1 with about 80 minutes of talking time and I hope it will last me for the month here. I can actually receive texts from the US for free.
So my advice, bring a stack of copies and passport pics.
She is actually working on a cooking book.
I will try to find out where you can get once it has been published. I hope she will actually make it happen soon.
Refer back to pictures of my cooking class with Anu post.
Cumin, or jeera, is an essential ingredient in my cooking. Cooking without cumin gives me a sense of incompleteness and dissatisfaction because it has excellent digestive properties and is great for the liver. Most Malayalees (natives of Kerala, the southernmost state of India) drink cumin water every day. Cumin water is a good substitute for plain drinking water and is made by adding a tablespoon of cumin seeds to about a liter of boiling water, which is then allowed to cool. Jal jeera (jal = water, jeera = cumin) is also a popular and healthy drink in the northern part of the country.
Dry roast 100 grams or around 1 cup of cumin seeds in a wok until the aroma of the cumin rises. Cool the seeds and blend into a fine powder. Store in an airtight container after the powder cools to room temperature. Cumin powder is best homemade.
Garam = Hot
Masala = Spice powder
Garam masala is considered the mother of masalas and is a very potent mixture. It is best when made at home, and can also be found in Indian grocery stores. It should be used only in small quantities, usually ¼ teaspoon for a six-portion dish, or a pinch for smaller portions.
Garam masala is usually one of the important ingredients in meat recipes in India. It is also used in the preparation of certain daals and vegetable curries, or kurma. Garam masala should be avoided by people with acidity problems, as it causes severe heartburn when used in oily recipes.
Makes approximately 50 grams or 3 Tbsp of powder.
Dry red chili
1 two-inch piece
Green or black cardamom
Saunf (fennel seeds)
Blend all ingredients into a fine powder and store in an airtight container.
Coriander Seed Powder
Coriander, or dhania, is used extensively as fresh leaves (also known as cilantro in the west, or Chinese parsley in the east). The coriander seeds are normally used in powder form in combination with other herbs and spices.
The inner seed of the coriander seed is called dhania daal. The seed can be dried, de-husked or flaked, and then mildly dry roasted with a dash of salt for a great digestive. Dhania daal is usually mixed with paan masala (a mixture of shredded betel nuts, edible camphor, anise/fennel seeds, dry coconut, menthol, dhania daal, crystal sugar, and sometimes tobacco), which is chewed after a meal for digestion or as a mouth freshener.
Dry roast 50 grams or 1 ½ cups of coriander seeds in a wok until lightly roasted and the seeds give off their aroma. Cool and blend into a fine powder. Store in an airtight container after the powder cools to room temperature. Although coriander powder is readily available at stores, fresh powder made at home gives the more desired flavor.
How to Make Paneer
Makes ½ kilogram or about 1 pound.
Organic fresh whole milk (or any packaged 2% milk)
White vinegar or lime juice
Bring the milk to a boil in a deep pot. When the milk begins to rise, lower the flame to medium to prevent overflowing. Add vinegar or lemon juice with a teaspoon while stirring. Pure organic milk will split immediately, and the whey will separate from the milk solids. Packaged milk may take longer and may require more vinegar or lemon juice. Continue boiling until the whey becomes considerably clear. If the whey is milky, add few more drops of vinegar or lemon juice until it becomes clear. Strain through a muslin or cheese cloth. Wash the fresh paneer under running water to remove traces of vinegar or lime juice. Tie the cloth with the paneer above the kitchen sink for about an hour and let the whey drain away. Take down the cloth, and press the cheese while it remains inside the cloth to flatten it to a height of around ¾ to 1 inch, equally. Use blotting papers or old newspapers above and below the cloth, then place a heavy weight over the paneer wrapped in the cloth to drain excess water. Leave the weight on the paneer for a couple more hours.
If you wish to store paneer for two to three days, immerse the slab in water and refrigerate. Change the water every day to maintain its freshness. Paneer has a short shelf life and should be used within a week.
If you wish to make soft cottage cheese, add ½ teaspoon of cumin seeds and salt to taste before straining. Strain over the kitchen sink and then squeeze the cloth from the top while pressing the cheese into the cloth to remove any excess whey. Knead a little, store in a clean, dry container, and refrigerate. Use in a couple of days.
¨ You need at least 4 to 5 liters of 2% milk to make a kilogram of paneer (or about 16 to 20 cups of milk to make 2.2 pounds of paneer).
¨ Storing paneer for over a week is not advisable.
¨ Paneer does not melt and can be shallow fried in the form of cubes or slices.
Palak = Spinach
Paneer = Cottage cheese
500 grams or 6 cups, tightly packed
500 grams or 2 cups
Oil for seasoning
Onion, roughly chopped
Fresh cream (optional)
Blanch the thoroughly washed palak leaves for 10 minutes in lots of very hot water (do not boil palak). Remove from hot water and cool. Save some of the water as stock for blending.
In a heated pot, add the oil, cumin seeds, and coriander seeds, and fry for a minute or until the cumin seeds begin to sputter. Add the garlic, slit green chilies, and onion and fry until onions become opaque. Add the turmeric powder and fry for half a minute. Add this seasoning to the blanched palak and cool.
Blend all of the above into a rough paste with a little of the palak stock.
Heat a little oil in a pot, add the paneer, and stir-fry for 1 minute. Pour in the blended and seasoned palak and add salt. Cook on a high flame for 5 to 6 minutes or until it just starts to boil. Remove from the stove. Garnish with fresh cream and serve with rice or rotis.
© Blanching the spinach for more than 5 or 10 minutes will change its color.
Vegans may eliminate the fresh cream and use tofu or steamed vegetables instead of paneer.
Baingan = Brinjal = Aubergines = Eggplant
Serves 4 to 6.
Eggplant, long purple
Onions, roughly chopped
5 to 6 cloves
1 tsp or per taste
Tomatoes pureed in a blender
Coriander leaves, chopped
Onion rings for garnish
Roast the eggplant directly over a high flame, rotating it from time to time until the skin burns. The inside of the eggplant will cook and become tender in the process. Clean off the skin and split open the eggplant to see if the inside has any infestation, as organically grown vegetables can easily get infested; no need to fret, simply remove the infested part and throw it away. An alternative to roasting is steaming the eggplant then peeling off the skin.
Mash the already cooked pulp roughly or blend in a blender, but not very smooth.
Blend the onions and garlic into a rough paste.
In a heated pot, add the oil, curry leaves, and onion–garlic paste and fry until most of the moisture evaporates. Lower the flame and add the turmeric powder, coriander leaves, cumin, garam masala, chili, and mango powder and fry for 15 to 20 seconds. Add the pureed tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the mashed eggplant and salt and mix well. Add water if the mixture is too thick. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves and onion rings and serve hot with rotis.
Eggplants (thin, long purple or green)
500 grams or about 1 pound
Peanuts, raw, shelled
a pinch or two
Onion, finely chopped (optional)
Coconut, grated fresh (copra)
Coriander leaves, chopped
Wash the eggplants well, slit them into fours lengthwise, and further chop them into half-inch pieces. Put the pieces into salted water.
In a heated pot, add the oil. Add the mustard seeds and heat until they pop or sputter. Add the curry leaves and raw shelled peanuts and fry them for about 30 seconds. Add the chana daal, urad daal, and sesame seeds, and fry until the daals and the peanuts begin to turn golden. Add the asafoetida and fry for 5 more seconds. Add the chopped onions and stir-fry until onions turn opaque (optional). Add the turmeric powder and mix. Remove the eggplants from the salted water and add them to the seasoning, mix well and cook on a medium flame with the lid on. Stir occasionally. When the eggplant is half cooked, add the mango powder, salt, and multipurpose powder and mix well. Cover and cook for 10 minutes on a medium-low flame. After the eggplant has cooked, remove from heat, garnish with grated fresh coconut and coriander leaves and mix gently. Serve with chapattis or rice.
§ Some varieties of eggplants may have a bitter taste that can cause itching or discomfort inside the mouth. Eggplants oxidize quickly and turn brown. Soak in salted water after chopping them to avoid the bitterness and any change in color.
§ Avoid overcooking the eggplant to preserve its vitamins and minerals.
§ The same dish may be made with tomatoes instead of mango powder in a pressure cooker. Complete the seasoning portion of the recipe directly in the pressure cooker. Then add the eggplants, salt, tomatoes, multipurpose powder, and a cup of water, and mix well. Pressure cook to one whistle. Garnish with coconut and coriander leaves. This creates a juicy dish.
Eggplant in Yoghurt
Serves 4 to 6.
Eggplant, large purple
Cumin powder, roasted
Coriander leaves, fresh
Mix the turmeric and chili powders with salt and add a few drops of water to give it a slightly runny texture.
Slice the eggplant into one centimeter thick, round slices. With the edge of a chopping knife, lightly beat both sides of the slices until the surface is slightly rough. Apply the mixture lightly on both sides of the slices and allow to marinate for ten minutes. Roast the slices on both sides in a pan with a little oil. Alternatively, grease a baking tray with some oil, place the marinated slices in the tray, and bake or grill until golden brown.
Place the curd in a separate bowl. Add the sugar, some salt, and the roasted cumin powder, and mix.
Arrange the cooked eggplant slices in a shallow dish and pour the curd mixture over them to cover completely. Garnish by sprinkling more cumin powder on top and decorate with coriander leaves.
it is just fair to give Marina a break from very spicy south Indian food.
She has been a real trooper going along with everything new we have been putting her through.
She hates spicy food and this is a tough place to get anything but...
So one of the rare finds: An Italian restaurant with pizza, risotto,cappuccinos and a very delicious Greek salad (?HUH?)...
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Indian married women wear toe rings to control their sexual desire for other men.
They wear the other jewelry (bracelets, necklaces etc) to keep their female hormones healthy and flowing in their bodies. Once their husband die, they take all of the jewelry off.
I noticed bottles are much smaller then ours.
I also was confused by this product: Whitening face cream? That is just disturbing.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
these are pictures of a chanting class, which we have 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11:30 a.m.) and a guided/led Ashtanga class, which we have twice a week (Friday and Saturday at 8:00 or 7:00 a.m.), where everybody is doing the sequence called out by a teacher at the same time.
The unguided class is Monday-Thursday (9:00 a.m.) where we do the sequence on our own with the teacher adjusting us.
These are the times I have to be there, since I am a "beginner" I come later. The more advanced students like Kino MacGregor, who also happens to be here at the same time, come around 4:30 a.m. in the morning. The advanced students are done around the time I start, which means they are practicing 4 hours, doing first, second and/ or maybe second and third series, while I am still working on primary series.
I practice "only" for about 1 1/2 hours.
The room is hot and smells like sweat.
About 60 people are in this room covered in rugs. The mats have about a hand width between each one.
It is amazing hearing and feeling everybody breath at the same time.
chanting class, a great way to learn sancript
Most yoga students stay in a hotel for a couple of days and then move into an apartment around the shala in Gokulum.
My hotel is about $50 a night with a free breakfast buffet and all the "nice stuff" that comes by being in a hotel (free Internet, pool, TV, fresh sheets, towels, clean room, room service, restaurants, drinking water about $4 for big water dispenser in my room, laundry service for about 50 cents per piece, coffee maker, fridge, soap, shampoo, blah blah).
It costs me about $2 for a rickshaw to drive me about 20 minutes away through the busy city to the shala.
A two room apartment within walking distance to the shala costs about $20- 40.
Nowadays it is more normal to make sure that your apartment also has TV, fridge, shower with hot water and Internet connection. Especially around Gokulum the apartments for short time rent (weekly and monthly rates)for the yoga students are more luxurious and equipped to fit the western people with western toilets.
I would recommend taking a hotel room for a couple of days and then get an apartment. You do not need to plan this ahead, even tho it is better if you know somebody who can connect you with somebody or even been here before and are able to get the same place again. It is really pretty easy to get an apartment just ask. Ask at the shala, ask your rickshaw driver, ask people you meet around the shala etc....somebody always seems to know somebody who has an apartment available within a week or even the next day.
Breakfast buffet at my hotel Pai Vista.