Monday, December 15, 2008

Lemon Saffron Chicken (Curry)

This post will be strictly a recipe. Important Stuff: serves 2, ramp up the raw material if throwing a party !!

Chicken breast fillets (boneless) 500 gm
2 large Onions
5 Green chillies
1 Tomato or 2 table spoon Tomato puree
2 table spoons Curd/Yogurt
1 Lemon
Ginger paste 1 teaspoon
Garlic paste 2 teaspoon
Cumin seeds, Mustard seeds, Fennel Seeds, Red Chili Powder, Turmeric Powder, and Salt; all as per taste (Note, no Coriander powder has been used)
Chicken Masala (any brand) as per taste
6 Saffron threads
4 Cardamoms
Cooking oil 4 tablespoons

Marinate the chicken pieces in paste of lemon juice, curd, turmeric powder, red chili powder, salt, chicken masala, saffron, cardamoms (powder it if possible, and use the outer covering as well) and set aside for 30 minutes. Shred the onion, tomato and green chillies into small pieces. In a pot, heat the oil and add the cumin, mustard and fennel seeds. Stir till light brown. Then add the green chillies and stir fry for 3 more minutes. Add the onions, and deep fry till the onions turn golden brown. Add the ginger garlic paste, and tomatoes, and fry for another 10 minutes. Keep frying the mixture, till the oil separates. Add marinated chicken, and fry for a good half hour or till the oil separates from the chicken as well. Add water to make a curry of suitable density. Check the taste for salt and chicken masala. Add more if necessary. Boil till the chicken becomes tender. A tip here, if you have fried the mixture well, the pieces of onion and tomato should not be individually identifiable in the gravy. Voila, your chicken is ready to be served with chapati or rice.

Lemon Saffron Chicken (Curry)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Making some changes

I had always heard that change is the way of life. But I never realized it could happen to me and that too this fast. As I had to come to UK for work, applying for VISA, and doing all the packing hardly gave me any time for blogging. I had so much to tell, so much to write, yet so less time.
Alas, but after coming to UK, I had to face even more situations, 12 months contract for internet connection, application for visa extension, opening a bank account, getting the debit card to work, struggling to rent a decent place. So I ended up, without being wired for almost a month.
But in this month, I sorted everything out. Applied for the visa extension (hope it is approved), rented a decent place, got my debit card working, and got a mobile broadband connection that was available without a contract. God! I hate contracts. The irony of life is, that I have come to UK on a years contract to be served back in India.
I also got the house setup. Lugged in all the groceries, necessities, scanned the Indian store and dumped loads of rice, wheat, pulses, and Indian spices at home, so that I don't have to worry about the coming 6 months.
Speaking of where we started from. CHANGE. The biggest change is, I am managing the house all by myself. This includes, cooking, washing, doing the dishes, and vacuuming. I wonder, why, with all that work, I am still not putting off any weight. H'm, I think, blame the fruit juices, and eggs I am having in bulk !!
Another big change I have had is a smart close crop to my hair. Reason, for one, it is smart, and for two, it saves money!
On saturday, I was feeling very hungry, and so decided to treat myself with something nice. So I browsed through some websites. Downloaded a few chicken recipes, changed them to suit whatever ingredients I had, and came up with this. Lemon Saffron Chicken. Believe me it was awsome. In next post I shall detail the process. So keep reading.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Google does it yet again!! Picassa Updates.

Though I am a bit late to notice this, but is worth sharing. Picassa for Web now supports:

  1. Name tagging like Orkut, using your Gmail contacts.

  2. Email upload.

  3. A shiny new GUI.

  4. And introduces Picassa 3 software, with some improvements to photo editing features.

I am not detailing it here, because the experts have themselves done it on Gmail and Picassa blogs. And finally here is a link detailing the differences between Picassa 2.7 and 3.0 beta.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Google does it again. Experimental iGoogle features.

Google is constantly changing its products. First it was Google Talk Labs Edition, then the hyped browser Chrome, and now they have put in some innovation and cool user interface in their personalized (for users) Google page called iGoogle.

This is still in experimentation, meaning, not everybody will be able to see this version of the iGoogle web page. But a few users have been invited by Google to use this experimental web page when they log in. (and that includes lucky me !!). Full story can be read on Google Support page.

The USP of this new interface are rounded boxes (called canvas view gadgets) on the Home page for various applications added onto iGoogle by the user. Any box can be maximized to view the full application in its own frame within iGoogle page. Also iGoogle has a left navigation to tab through each of the frames / pages of application added onto iGoogle. These boxes can be dragged and dropped to change their location on the Home page, can be collapsed, maximized and customized.

So now I can have all my favourite web applications, web sites, news feeds, jokes, weather forecast, Gmail, Gtalk and many more added as boxes to my iGoogle webpage and use them from a single window. I can also set iGoogle as my home page to have quick access to all my favourite web sites at once.

Did I mention GTalk, yes the best part of this new interface is that it also provides a separate tab in the left navigation for chatting using Google services. And now since base code of Gmail is supported on IE6 as well, you can go invisible while chatting from iGoogle irresepective of the IE version you are using. Great !! What else could I ask for. However as of now the Gtalk tab is not available to all who have access to the new iGoogle. Google says, there are still some bugs with this, which they are working upon. For me, I do not have the Gtalk on my iGoogle as yet.

All of this is what makes me a die hard Google "Bhakt". I only wish Google to call more and more users to experience the new iGoogle, and to make the chatting tab available to all.

Here is a sneak preview of the new iGoogle, for those who do not have access to it yet:


Blogging Friends Forever Award

It has been quite some time now since Sudeshna conferred me with the "Blogging Friends Forever" award. I feel the time is now ripe to pass on this award to few of my friends as my blog has matured a lot. Also the number of hits to my blog has gone up considerably. Now going by various posts on Sudeshna's and others' blogs on cyberspace, something tells me that doing so is a must, and would rather be rude, if I don't do it.

The following rules apply to this award:

  1. You pass on the award to 5 people

  2. 4 of them can be regular visitors of your blog

  3. One (the 5th one) has to be new to your blog and live in another part of the world.

  4. You must link back to who ever gave you the award.

So I pass on this award to:

  1. To my friend and once upon a time colleague Kalyan.

  2. My friend, gadget mentor, and brother Aditya.

  3. Sharmila who is a new visitor to my blog.

  4. Kulprete, my childhood friend, and now an enterprising fellow.

  5. And to Alex from Russia who once visited my blog from obviously a completely other part of the world !!


Monday, September 8, 2008

Gauri Ganapati

Today is marked by the 'Visarjan' (when idols of worship are submerged in the waters) of 'Gauri-Ganapati' (Goddess Gauri, and God Ganesha), as the last day of week long 'Ganeshotsav' (festival to worship God Ganesha). Yesterday was when all families who did a 'sthapna' (setting up of idols of worship) of 'Gauri-Ganapati' at their homes, did a pooja and invited brahmin couples over for the pooja and lunch thereafter. We too were invited over by our relatives (my aunt and uncle) in Delhi, albeit for dinner and not lunch. They (my aunt's family) have been following the 'Ganeshotsav' for more than some 50 years now, and are expert at the smallest of detail, when it comes to the decoration of 'Gauri-Ganapati' and the 'sthapana'. After offering my prayers to the deities I just could not refrain myself from taking a snapshot of the beautiful setup. My aunt had taken great care of dressing the 'Gauri(s)' called the 'Jyeshtha' (elder sister) in a Silk Saree, and the 'Kanishta' (younger sister) in a Cotton Saree.

Have a look (from right to left, 'Jyeshtha', 'Ganesha' and 'Kanishtha'):

Sunday, September 7, 2008

EggVeg Ginger Garlic Maggie Noodles

Wondering what those street vendors do to a simple packet of Maggi Noodles to make it so tasty? Thanks to Google, little experimentation and this web page, I unlocked the secret to a yummy plate of Maggi Noodles. I call them EggVeg Ginger Garlic Maggi Noodles!!

Here is what you need to do:

Step 1. Boil 2 Maggi cakes with 1.5 sachet of Maggi garnishing. (serves two, increase all other ingredients as per your liking, and proportion)

Step 2. Chop tomatoes, capsicum, and any other vegetables you might have (peas, cabbage, carrot, spring onions etc). Boil an egg or two may be, and slice it into 4 pieces each.

Step 3. Keep some sauces handy. Tomato, soy, chili sauce etc.

Step 4. Prepare garlic and ginger paste. I would suggest to be generous with ginger, but a bit careful with the garlic.

Step 5. Heat some oil in a flat pan. I don't know how much, but it should be a little more than enough to fry all the chopped vegetables you have.

Step 6. Stir fry the garlic ginger paste in the oil. Add the sliced vegetables, a little salt, some red chili powder and the remaining Maggi garnishing. Add the soy and tomato sauce as per taste. Fry for 5-6 min, and add the eggs in the last.

Step 7. Slow down the heat, and add the boiled noodles into the batter. Mix well. You are ready to go !!

The recipe in images, sequenced as per steps above :-

Update on Sept 8, 2008:

This blog (recipe) is now contesting in a Non veg recipe event at Sudeshna's blog.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Beaked Visitor

It had rained a lot the whole night, and was coupled with a strong wind that just fell a bit short of being called a storm. As such, Saturday morning was very cool, opposed to the hot September mornings we had become used to. I prepared a nice hot cup of Masala Tea, and was was tattering away at my laptop's keyboard, while sipping it. Just then, it happened. Power failure. So much for the lovely morning.

Hot that it was not, I finished my tea, read the newspaper, and strolled towards my balcony, only to find that there was a lot of ruckus going on in the neighborhood. And to just let you know, my neighborhood is a lots of pigeons. Hundreds and thousands of them.

And the reason behind this was a nasty visit from a flock of beaked eagles. Aditya you can perhaps help me pin these birds to their exact name (One of my readers tells me that they are black kites, but googling on the subject has broadened my choices to four species: black kite, indian spotted eagle, greater spotted eagle and lesser spotted eagle). In the meanwhile, I shall continue the story. While all the eagles were busy in action, two of them were lazily perched on the building roof opposite to my balcony. Seemed as if they had their full. Poor neighbors.

I immediately grabbed my pristine Olympus FE-15 auto focus digicam and started taking a few shots. The results were not quite good, as the distance was very large, and my digicam has just a tiny 3X zoom. So I brought my Bushnell binocular, manually adjusted its focus and placed the digicam behind the binocular to get some zoomed in shots. And I must admit that the shots weer pretty neat and had a modest detail. Have a look!!

The two of them captured without the binocular:

All shots focused on the right birdie zoomed in with help of my binocular:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Trip to Sailana

Since long, our family had longed for a weekend trip to some nearby place. However because of my mom's health, and scarcity of leaves from my work, we were prevented from doing so for quite some time. Recently I planned to visit my parents on "Rakhi". By this time mom also had regained her full strength and confidence (after her surgery). And we had all the reasons, time and opportunity to take our much wanted trip. Mom herself had planned it all out much before we (me and my wife) reached Ujjain. Dad had booked the taxi, a comfortable 8 seater Toyota Qualis, meaning we 5 had all the luxurious space to stretch our legs and take a nap if we wanted, while on the run.

How to Reach Sailana and where to stay:

Sailana is a small village in the district of Ratlam. It is 25 km from Ratlam city, and just 50 km from Rajasthan border. Closest (within Rajasthan) to Sailana is the district Banswada. Ratlam is a big railway station and connected to Mumbai by "Avantika Express" which runs daily. Also Ratlam is only 115 km by road from Ujjain district which is a very important holy city of Central India, one of the four places where "Kumbh" takes place every 12 years, and my home town :-). Ujjain is a "junction" speaking in terms of railways and is well connected to Delhi by "Nizamuddin Express" on daily basis. Two important trains here which could connect you to Indore-Ratlam-Ujjain belt (called "Malwa" region) on daily basis are:
  1. Avantika Express: Indore - Ujjain - Ratlam - Mumbai Central.
  2. Nizamuddin Express: Indore - Ujjain - Hazrat Nizamuddin (New Delhi)
If you plan to start your journey from Indore or Ujjain, then hiring a taxi would be the best option. If you are taking a train, I would recommend you to halt in Indore (if you want to shop) or Ujjain (if you want to worship and cleanse your soul) and take a taxi from there till Ratlam. The lesser spirited souls can halt in Ratlam itself, and save time on traveling to Sailana. Indore also has a domestic airport (if you want to shell out more bucks) and is well connected with Delhi / Mumbai / Pune / Bengaluru / Chennai / Nagpur.

Best time to visit Sailana:

Monsoons, morning hours only. Sailana is a small village and as such the places we visited had little or no lighting.

How we reached Sailana:

As I said, we hired a Toyota Qualis from Ujjain till Sailana and back. The road is fairly decent compared to standards of MP (roads in MP are the worst in India). The entire trip cost us 273 km. The best time to reach Sailana is around 11:00 AM, as around that time all shops / village is / are buzzing with activity. This also gives one ample time to explore all places, and still make it in time for a hearty lunch.

Starting from Ujjain we stopped at village Ingoria (10 km from Ujjain) for breakfast, the trademark breakfast "Poha and Jalebi" of MP.

On our way we crossed the city of Barnagar. The road from Ujjain till Barnagar is awesome, and the traffic is also minimal.

However from Barnagar till Ratlam, and within Ratlam city the roads are pretty bad. But once you cross Ratlam city, the road is again neat till Sailana. We also crossed two rivers "Gambhir" and "Chambal" on our way.

Coming back to Sailana, what to do, where to go:

Sailana was formerly a princely state, and I guess, it was a part of Rajasthan. Post independence it was merged in MP. A Fort belonging to the then royal family still stands tall in heart of Sailana, and the area is known as "Palace Chauraha", or "Rajwada".  A descendant of the royal family still occupies part of the fort, so we were told, by the officials present at the fort. The main tourist attraction of Sailana, is the Cactus Garden, housed inside this fort. It boasts a myriad collection of various types of cacti, some of them small, bush like. But most of them, large, huge and gigantic. It gives us a feeling, as if we have entered the neolithic era. The place is very serene and quiet, and the silence is only disturbed occasionally by squeals of peacocks, who thrive at the place. The place is also yet unaffected by commercialization, as the entry ticket is only Rs 5 per person. The cost to carry a single camera inside is just Rs 10 per instrument. The fort houses some empty cages, hinting that some animals were also kept here for display. But this was later discontinued for lack of animals / funds / rights to cage animals. I strongly recommend this place for flora enthusiasts.

Next we went to "Kedareshwar" temple of Lord Shiva. This is again famous in Sailana, and actually there are two of them, both 4 km both from the fort (but in opposite directions). We visited the one, which had a better connecting road! The temple is situated in a man made cave (carved out from a cliff of igneous rocks). The cliff along with many others surrounds a small valley. From the top of the cliff, a small stream of monsoon rain water forms a waterfall and joins a small pond of water in the valley. From here a river originates and flows down into the plains of Rajasthan. The whole setting is very beautiful, and quiet. Especially during the monsoons, all this is blessed with lush greenery, and is literally a treat for the eyes. After offering our prayers to Lord Shiva, all of us, including my parents climbed down the cliff into the valley (do not panic, there are stairs). We simply sat by the pond, frolicked in water and had lots of fun. Had we brought along a spare set of clothes, we could have had a nice swim / bath. This place also, I must comment, is free from commercialization and priests haggling devotees for money and donation.

Where to dine:

On our way back to Ujjain, we stopped at Ratlam, at a restaurant called "Palash". The place is pretty clean and has clean wash rooms. The food was also nice, and I was pleasantly surprised to find continental food on the menu. Though the place is pure vegetarian, they do have a bar, which is housed in a different section of the premises. On way back, we again took a halt at village Ingoria for "Chai".

The conclusion:

I never imagined, there could be such an interesting place so near to Ujjain, ideal for a day's outing. I strongly recommend this place to all people visiting the "Malwa" region of MP. I would say, visit this place, when you have just a day to spare and want to spend it peacefully, and experience what India was like some 100 years ago. Cheers.
Hey, this text is added to this post, after the post was published. I came to know later that Sailana also has a bird sanctuary. Funny, this was missed from the wikipedia article on Sailana.

--------- The Story in Images -----------------------