Friday, November 16, 2007

Click Entry: Festive Vermicelli Pudding

This is my entry for the click event. This month's theme is noodles.... I made this kheer for karva chauth.

This picture was taken, whilst I toodled around the house on Karva Chauth Day wondering how to take my mind off my hunger pangs, and my mum thought it was sad that I was trying to take pictures of food to try and forget my hunger...... :S

In the the previous statement I got carried away.... I was intending to say this....
This picture was taken with a Sony Cyber shot DSC-P200 7.2 mega-pixels....

Friday, November 9, 2007

Edible diyas for Diwali... them!

Happy Diwali !!!!!!!

I would like to wish all my readers a very happy Deepavali…. Wishing everyone lots of happiness, joy and prosperity.
Diwali is the festival of lights, the celebration of good over evil…light over darkness. Deepavali as it is also called ....means a row of lamps. These lamps are usually made with clay and some women at home make them with ‘aata’ or roti dough.

When I saw the recipe for these edible coconut diyas, I fell in love with them and promised to make them on diwali….here is the recipe. I used orange food colour to give them that earthen clay hue.

The recipe doesn’t fill the diyas with anything, so I put in a small dollop of soft sweet khoya as symbolic ghee with a sliver of almond for the wick.

I also decorated them with ‘hundreds and thousands’ - tiny coloured sugar balls. I tried decorating them with silver vark, but it got messy....

So here's wishing all my readers all the happiness in the world.... my advise is ....make lots of sweets, share them with all your family and friends, eat them too and have a joyous time!

This is going to Vee of Past Present and Me for the wonderful event JFI special series: The festive series...

This is also going to Meeta's Monthly Mingle for Traditional Feasts.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Karva chauth di sargi: Early morning vermicelli pudding

I love fasting on karva chauth despite it being a grueling day of controlling your hunger and thirst, and not because it’s the most fanciest custom that bollywood has to show in their movies nowadays. But fasting like this is when one gets to really appreciate the food we eat and the water we drink daily.

Mostly I feel more thirsty than hungry. But somehow it feels good to fast on the day. Its not just 'fast for your husband's long life' as is mostly portrayed, its also about celebrating your wedded life and marriage.

The day started for me at 3:30am, when I got up to eat my sargi and to drink all the water I could before sunrise. ‘Sargi’ is just the (punjabi) name given to the delicious vermicelli kheer (see recipe below) eaten in the morning.

According to traditional custom, a married woman takes the 'sargi', which is prepared specially for the ocassion by the mother-in-law, and leaves on the previous day to go to her mother’s house. In the wee hours of the morning she eats it with her mother and other aunts that have gathered there. The fast begins at twilight, and women fast from food and water.

When the day starts, the women folk spend decorating themselves with henna and getting dressed up in their wedding apparels, and pretty much look like brides. In today’s times they go shopping, they especially buy decorated bangles and sometimes spend the afternoon at the movies!
Around late afternoon, ranging between 3pm to 6pm (depends on the individual family custom), the daughter-in-law arrives with her mother and her aunts at her in-laws place. Here all the ladies, including that of the neighbourhood gather to perform the ‘poiya mansna’ ceremony. They get into a circle and rotate their pooja thalis whilst singing traditional songs.

Ive always heard the one that Ive shown below, “kudiye karwada....”. Here in Africa, we gather mostly at the local temple hall and do this ceremony. Then one of the elder lady tells us the ‘katha’, the story behind the fast. The hardcore ‘pindi’ punjabi (village accent) becomes a foreign language to me and I’m lost after a few lines into the story!

I just enjoy the whole ceremony of seeing so many women all dressed up. Its like seeing all your friends, aunts, and all women as brides all on the same day! We admire each other’s jewellery, mehndi and wedding gowns etc. :D

A lot of woman take their first sip of water after this ceremony, and have some form of liquid to relieve themselves. They have food only after the moon comes out. Some (really dedicated wives) wait with thirsty throats up until the time the moon comes out.

I had a big glass of water at 4:30 pm and then another glass of juice. From then the wait starts…for the moon to come out. In India, I have heard from my mum that the moon comes out around 8:00pm. Then all the women rush outside and offer obeisances to the moon and see the moon through a seive (I have no idea, why all this is done so). Thereafter they break their fasts.

And because some of us are in the southern hemisphere… we waited till 10:30pm and there was no sign of the moon… After another gruelling, half an hour…the moon was sighted at 11:00pm and we finally broke our fasts and had food. By then I wasn’t even hungry, but nevertheless ate to replenish the energy I had lost! My malayalee husband still doesn’t get why I need to do all this… I know I do it for the fun of it!

"Karva Chauth Day falls on the 4th day of the Kartik month every year. On this day it is customary for the wife to fast the whole day. She does not drink water either. She paints her hands and feet with henna, dresses generally in red apparel ...

On Karva Chauth day, which is observed in North India, tens of millions of women keep a fast, .... Only after seeing the moon do the women break their day-long fast in the evening/night. Normally women go out of their houses and on their roof tops to see if the moon is up yet.

Here is the song sung by punjabi women, while they exchange thalis seven times.

Veero Kudiye Karwada...., Sarv Suhagan Karwada...,
Aye Katti Naya Teri Naa, Kumbh Chrakhra Feri Naa,
Aar Pair payeen Naa, Ruthda maniyen Naa, Suthra Jagayeen Naa,
Ve Veero Kuriye Karwara,Ve Sarv Suhagan Karwara....... "

picture and text:

Karva chauth ki sargi

What you need:

- 250 gm wheat vermicelli
- 50 gm ghee (can completely zero the ghee, if you want to make it fat free)
- 1 Lt full cream milk (can easily use 2% reduced or even skim milk to make it ‘lighter’)
- 200 gms sugar (again, this amount gives the kheer a mild sweetness, up or own the amount to suit your palate). Here sugar can also be substituted for brown sugar or jaggery for more flavour.
- A few pods whole elaichi
- Saffron strands
- Chopped nuts of your choice ( I did not put any in this version)

What you need to do:

1.) In a large pot roast the vermicelli in the ghee. The vermicelli can be dry roasted too (without any ghee for a low fat version). Stir frequently to allow equal roasting.

2.) Add the milk and elaichi pods and bring to the boil. When boiling, reduce gas to a simmer and cook for a further 10-12 minutes. The vermicelli will swell in size and soak up the milk.

3.) Switch off the gas and decorate with saffron and nuts. The kheer (pudding) can be had warm and or can be cooled down and refridgerated and served chilled.

We (mum and I) had it cold in the morning, drank lotsa water and went back to sleep!
This is going to Vee of Past Present and Me for the wonderful event JFI special series: The festive series...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Peanut ladoos for navratri, contribute for Feed-a-hungry-child and a meme

These ladoos are so easy and are great for kids to learn and make.
But first I want to put in a plea to keep contributing to ‘feed a hungry child’ as there are still a few days left for the fund raising drive. Even though the fund-drive goal of raising 3, 360 dollars has been crossed, we can contribute more to feed more mouths.

(FHC): is a not-for-profit charitable organization formed in a collaborative effort of the like-minded people from all around the world. It aims to replace the empty plates of the underprivileged children and replace them with ones of food. While FAHC addresses the holistic needs of each children it supports, it believes illiteracy, malnutrition, and other concerns can only be addressed when hunger is appeased.
Join the fight against global poverty…. Help feed children one by one…

Please chip-in and contribute here, or here or go to the FHC website...

And now onto the easy-peasy laddoo recipe:

What you need:

- 350 gm peanut butter (crunchy – if you want bits of nut, smooth – if you want a smooth texture)
- 250 gm khoya (make a semi-hard dough with full cream milk powder and milk and microwave it for 10 minutes on low, cool and grate finely)
- 200gm brown icing sugar (can use normal icing sugar too, and reduce the amount if you find it too sweet)
- 1 tsp elaichi (cardamom) powder
(This amount made 50 ladoos of 2.5 cm diameter (average size for a ladoo) )

What you need to do:
1.) Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl thoroughly. Shape into round ladoos.

-Use splashes of milk to moisten a dry mixture, that is becoming to difficult to combine.
- If the mixture is too wet and gooey (which it will hardly be), you can use dry dessicated coconut to make the mixture pliable.

Verdict: These ladoos look and taste exactly like besan (gram flour) laddoos in texture and 90% in taste, so they are great for when fasting from grains. You just get a peanutty taste instead. Also, there is no ‘extra’ ghee I added this time and they tasted great; the only fat comes from the peanut butter. Plus, I looooved making them because of how easy they were to make. They are really good for kids to make too.

See how I made them last year for Navratri, the recipe is pretty much the same, except I didn’t put ghee this time.

This is going to Vee of Past Present and Me for the wonderful event JFI special series: The festive series...
This is also going to Viji of Vcuisine for the wonderful event RCI Tamil Festive Series...

Now for my first meme that Sweet Sig tagged me for:

4 Places I’ve lived:

- Kisumu, Kenya
- New Delhi, India
- Selebi- Phikwe, Botswana
- Gaborone, Botswana

4 Jobs I’ve had / (wish I could have)

- Computer Technician Attachee / Interior Decorator
- Systems Analyst Junior / Coolest restaurant-in-town owner and chef
- Assistant Computer Lecturer (in parallel with 2) / Flower Bouquet Designer(I’m gonna do this when I’m old and grey anyway)
- Computer Engineer / Pencil, Pastel and Oil Painter

4 Favorite places I’ve holidayed:

1. Venice – I was in awe of all the canals dotted with the beautiful houses, the islands and the awesome Italian food. And people, Venice is sinking… hope the engineers can save it in the nick of time.
2. Vienna – Oh this city is truly musical, the opera we went to was to-die-for… and they played all the famous classical numbers especially my fav ..Mozart… there was even a Pavarotti look a like with a ballerina…sigh….
3. Cape Town – was amazing… with all the history and unique flora and fauna, vineyards and wine….Robin island where Mandela spent 26 (?) years.
4. Pongundam near Kottayam – This is a huge rubber plantation… my sin-in-law’s in-law’s place. It was breath-taking and beautiful. And my SIL’s MIL made such yummy food for us…

4 Favorite foods

1. Homemade corn pizza (with bits of paneer)
2. Pasta Recco – at our fav Italian restaurant, I don’t even bother looking at their menu…
3. Chilli Gobhi Dry - Also at out fav south Indian restaurant…. I’m trying really hard (with the help of my mum) to recreate this dish at home… and when I told this to a fellow blogger friend, she loved it too… will post it soon
4. Tie between Appam-stew and Onam sadya(incl parip payasam) – Coz after consuming both relishes, it induces a zombie reaction in the body, where we drift towards the next closest place to lie down and drift into slumber land.

4 Places I’d rather be

- On a looooong drive with M (hubby) where we talk and talk and talk.
- Playing with my son, and going to see the bho-bhos (dogs)
- Touring the world
- Doing something creatively fun (painting, cooking, crafty things).

4 bloggers I like to tag

Wanted to tag Musy, and Lakshmi(Yum), but they’ve already done this meme…

Please take it up only if you wish to...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Vrat Kadi for Navratri: carrot kofta in yoghurt gravy

Its navratri time, time to fast, feast and wait for all the rest of the festivals to hit you! Navratri is composed of nine days of celebrating the female energy of our creation, in the most revered form, the Mother Goddess. All throughout India, from state to state, the Goddesses are prayed.

"All Hindus celebrate this festival at the same time in different ways in different parts of India as well as around the world. In the northern part of the country, the first nine days of this festival, called Navaratri, is commonly observed as a time for rigorous fast, followed by celebrations on the tenth day. In western India, throughout the nine days, both men and women participate in a special kind of dance around an object of worship. In the south, Dusshera or the tenth day is celebrated with a lot of fanfare. In the east, people go crazy over Durga Puja, from the seventh till the tenth day of this annual festival. Although, the universal nature of the festival is often found to transcend regional influences and local culture, the Garba Dance of Gujarat, Ramlila of Varanasi, Dusshera of Mysore, and Durga Puja of Bengal need special mention." Source.

From my childhood days, Ive spent these nine days fasting and feasting on yummy fasting food, hearing bhajans glorifying the mother goddess and waiting for my ‘kanjak’ on the 8th day. (In Punjab, on the 8th (ashtami) day, little gifts and a plate of halwa-poori, chole is given to little girls). Now that I’m a big girl :D I make these special dishes at home too and hand out kanjaks to little girls around the neighbourhood and daughters of my friends!

Now onto some yummy fasting food: fasting on navratri days usually, means restricting oneself to only certain things and avoiding grains, dals and most spices and vegetables. Different people fast in different ways so please go ahead and tweak this kadi in anyway to suit you. This kadi may have some ingredients that are not taken for strict fasting, and I will try to offer substitutions.

What you need:

For the koftas:

-2 cups finely grated carrots (can substitute with grated plantains or sweet potato)
-1 cup (approx) potato flour (can use rajgro flour that’s used during fasting)
-1 boiled and mashed potato
-Salt (some people use black/rock salt) to taste
-1/2 tsp chilli powder.
-1 tsp whole black peppercorns
-Oil for deep frying

For the kadi:

-¾ cup potato flour

-1 cup full cream milk (can use water too)
-2 cups yoghurt (preferably sour Indian curd)
-Salt (some people use black/rock salt) to taste
-1 tsp chilli powder

For the tadka:

-2 tbsp ghee
-4-5 whole dried red chillies (broken into pieces)
-2 tsp jeera (cumin seeds)

What you need to:

1. Combine the ingredients for the kofta to make a soft, moist dough, it should not be dry. Make into small balls. Makes about 22. (I made this to take to the temple). Deep fry them in oil (or ghee, if you want). Allow the koftas to cool.

2. Add milk, salt and pepper to taste to the potato flour and combine to make a dosa-(pancake)-batter-like consistency. Keep aside. In another bowl, lightly beat the yoghurt (curds).

3. In a big pot make the tadka: add the ghee and when hot, add the jeera and broken red chilli pieces. When the spices become a shade darker, add the potato flour batter and then add the beaten yoghurt. Bring to the boil.

4. When the kadi is boiling vigourously, turn the gas to a medium-low, and let it simmer until it thickens.

5. When the kadi thickens, switch off the gas and let it cool slightly. Add the koftas and gently stir. Let the kadi sit for some time (maybe 10 minutes) to allow the koftas to soak up the liquid. Serve hot with vrat rice or have as is with jeera potatoes.

This is going to Vee of Past Present and Me for the wonderful event JFI special series: The festive series...

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Clicking Eggs after completing a year

I just cant believe that Ive been blogging for just over a year now. Most people like me discover the food blogosphere in the quest for a recipe... I was looking for Naranaga Pickle and stumbled upon Injipennu's Ginger and Mango... then onto Asha's Foddie's Hope....and I was amazed at the way these ladies would cook and present their recipes. I was truely inspired... I wanted to make my contribution too and hence (Fusion Food then) and Soul Food now was born... and in the process discovered so many amazing blogs and lovely friends. Food blogging has become such an obsession and even though I dont have very deep archives, I thoroughly enjoyed sharing recipes and finding new recipes and great food ideas.

I get so amused when I think back ... one time putting hubby and baby to sleep and getting up in the middle of the nite to write a post!! Ive met such amazing people who've become such good friends. Asha was the first one to always visit my blog and encourage me frequently, thank you so much dear. There are some who are such darlings with whom Ive exchanged so many emails; and there are those that always come to read about ramblings and comment on my recipes. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

And what better way to celebrate than to click a picture for the cutest couple in the blogosphere, Jay and Bee!!! They've got a cooool event going on to encourage food photography. Its a theme based event and just what I was looking for to push me to take better pictures... This month they want us click some eggs. Ive put a ostrich egg next to normal farm eggs to show a comparison in size. Ostriches are native to Africa and lay the largest eggs in the world. One ostrich egg is equivalent to 2 dozen chicken eggs!!

Wikipedia says: Ostrich eggs can weigh 1.3 kg and are the largest of all eggs, though they are actually the smallest eggs relative to the size of the bird. The nest may contain 15 to 60 eggs, with an average egg being 15 cm (6 inches) long, 13 cm (5 inches) wide, and weigh 1.4 kg (3 pounds). They are shiny and whitish in color. The eggs are incubated by the females by day and by the male by night.
All pictures were taken by a Sony Cyber-shot. The third picture was an amazing artwork that we picked up at Outshoorn, a small town full of ostrich farms in South Africa.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Nuts about nuts: Roasted cashews and roasted almonds

Nuts are the best to snack on as opposed to fried snacks, chips and crisps. Yes, they are not low fat but the health benefits of consuming them far outrun the fact that they are calorie laden. As opposed to fried pakodas and chewda, nuts have the good fats (mostly monounsaturated and poly unsaturated fats). Nuts are also one of the best plant sources of protein. They are rich in fiber, phytonutrients and antioxidants such as Vitamin E and selenium.

One of the most unexpected nutritional discoveries of the 1990s was that the frequent eating of nuts appears to dramatically improve health. In particular, nut eating greatly lowers the risk of heart disease. Read more here.
This past winter (in Africa: June and July), I kept a regular supply of roasted cashew nuts and almonds on the snack rack. Our favourite nuts to roast, salt and masalafy are cashews and almonds, although we occasionally roast walnuts and pecans too. These nuts can be plain roasted and kept for sweet dishes too. The savoury ones also act as ready made garnishes and additions to things like upma, kaju pulav, shahi paneer. With tea, a handful is enough, they are not to be munched on like popcorn! We get already roasted peanuts in the shops here and we rarely eat them as a snack.

Cashews, a native of eastern Brazil, was brought to the Indian coast of Goa and Kerala by the Portuguese and hence the name ‘Kaju’ for cashews in Hindi is derived from the Portuguese word for the fruit from the cashew nut tree.

Read the cute story about how cashewnut got is name, more like how Sarah was told so, from one of my favourite blogs.

Eating a daily handful of almonds a day may lower LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, see more of the benefits here
My dad swears by the benefits of having almonds every day. Amongst his daily routine, is to soak a handful of almonds before going to bed. In the morning, he drains them and pockets them before leaving for work, and peels and pop a couple in his mouth whilst he’s going about his business; they are his all-day any-time snack!!

During winter he diligently adds a tsp of ‘badam rogan’ (almond oil) in the cup of milk he has before going to bed. (Somehow I could never do this). He recommends this ‘medicine’ as a daily tonic especially in winter and to build strength, in people trying to recover their health (for example from major surgery or childbirth, etc).

To roast Cashews and Almonds

What you need:

Any amount of nuts you wish you roast. (Try other types other than cashews and almonds, and let me know how it came out).

- here I used 500g cashews and 500g almonds.
- 2 tbsp cooking oil (you may try roasting them absolutely dry too; the light oil coating allows the spices to stick to the nuts nicely; or you may add more to roast them better and drain them on a sieve or paper towel to remove the extra oil)
- You combination of favourite spices (salt and black pepper / salt and cayenne pepper / salt, chilli powder and dhania powder, etc)
(Ive used salt and black pepper in both instances)
What you need to do:

- In a large wok, heat the oil to smoking point (very hot).
- Add the nuts and keep tossing to coat the oil evenly on all the nuts.
- Add your preferred spices, and keep tossing and turning, until the nuts change colour to become golden. With almonds, the colour change is subtle to the eyes but evident to the olfactory nerves (smell).
- Cool and let them rest on a strainer, so that any of the extra oil drips away.
- Store in an airtight jar, and use as appropriate.

Some recent nutty recipes that I have drooled over and want to try out:

- Arun Shanbhag’s Almond Pista Milk
- Asha’s Microwave Badam Burfi
- Evolvingtastes’s Very Forgiving Nut Bread
- Sig’s Date and Pecan Pudding
- Kanchana's Badam Kheer

Monday, September 3, 2007

Sweet Pedas for Sweet Krishna

Shri Krishna Janamashtami also known as Krishna Jayanti, Shri Jayanti and Gokulashtami amongst many names. It is the most revered festival in our house.

Janmashtami, (as it is casually known) is one of the most popular festivals of Hindus which celebrates the birth of their beloved God, Sri Krishna. Detailed story of Janmashtami or Lord Krishna's birth has been narrated in Puranas. Please read here for details.

Sri Krishna was born in the month of Sravana more than 5000 years ago. According to some scholars, Krishna was born on Wednesday, the eighth day (Ashtami) of the second fortnight in Sravana month in the year of Visvavasu around 3227 BC, also known as Dwapur Yug. He lived for 125 years and his departure was the onset of the current corrupt age known as Kaliyug (that we are in right now). Source: here

Shri Krishna has uncountable names and forms that devotees pray to. In Kerala Krishna is prayed in the form of Guruwayurappan.

The word Guruvayurappan, meaning Lord of Guruvayur, comes from the words Guru referring to Brihaspati, the Guru of the Devas, Vayu, the God of Wind and Appan, meaning father or Lord in Malayalam. Since Guru (Brahaspati) and Vayu Deva is said to have installed Lord Krishna's statue, the name Guruvayurappan was given to the lord. Although many temples of Guruvayurappan exist, the oldest and most famous of them all is located in the town of Guruvayur, Kerala, India.

Guruwayoorappan pic source
Lord Krishna at Guruvayur, a city located in Trichur district in Kerala, India, is worshipped as Lord Guruvayurappan. It is believed that the idol of Lord Guruvayurappan was worshipped by Vasudeva, father of Lord Krishna and represents the full manifestation of Lord Maha Vishnu. The idol is made of a stone called "Patala Anjanam" or black bismuth and is in the standing pose with 4 arms carrying the shanku (conch), the chakra (discus), the gada (mace) and padma (lotus). Guruvayur is also hailed as "Bhooloka Sri Vaikuntham" where the Lord reveals himself to his devotees in the same majestic form in which he welcomes them in Vaikuntha, his celestial abode. Source: Wikipedia
See the beatiful oil lamps that are lit around the temple ay Guruwayoor here

Since Krishna loves sweets things made of milk and milk products, so a post on his favourite ‘pedas’ was inevitable on Soul Food. This is also a very easy recipe, as its made in the microwave. This Krishna prashad is a regular at Ramayan poojas and Janamashtami at our house.

What you need:

- 4 cups full cream milk powder
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups milk (full cream)
- 2 tsp elaichi (cardamom) powder
- a few tsp ghee to combine the pedas

What you need to do:

1. Dissolve the sugar and elaichi powder in the milk to make a syrup. Microwave it until the sugar dissolves.

2. Use the syrup to combine the milk powder to make a very soft dough. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Use a knife and spoon to cut into the dough to see if it has changed colour. It should slightly darken( go from cream colour to light caramel). The mixture will also get drier as you go along.

3. Microwave for another 4 minutes and check again, if the dough has cooked or not. If it has not, microwave it further in 2 rounds of 2 minutes, checking to see if the peda mixture is cooked. At the end of these rounds, it would definitely have been cooked through.

4. Let it cool until it is warm enough to handle by hand. Grate it finely with a grater. Use ghee in your hands and shape into pedas and keep for bhog. If the mixture is too wet, dry dessicated coconut can be added to firm them up. If the mixture is too dry, you can add splashes of milk to soften the mixture.

The pedas can be decorated with silver vark. Put pedas for bhog on Krishna Janmashtami and then feast on them later! This makes about 25 – 30 pedas.

1. This is going to Latha of The 'yum' blog for her lovely festival series: Janamashtami.

2. This is also going to Srivalli of Cooking for all seasons: as a gracious late entry for her lovely microwave event.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Onam: Thiruvadira Kali

Let me just add in my very first line that this is a non-food related post.

Onam ashamsakal (onam greetings to you)

Onam is such a special festival for me, every year I thoroughly enjoy taking part in activities, whatever I can, that make this beautiful festival so unique. I love making the athapoo/pookalam (flower carpet), I absolutely love making the sadya (which I plan to on the weekend). I love the whole story of mahabali coming to visit his land, his people from exile. It even amazes me on the way I have fallen head over heels in love with the kerala culture. Some malayalees may even doubt me. But I know I do it for myself, not for anybody else.

For the past couple of years I was lucky to learn and be part of the thiruvadira kali dance that is performed at this festival time every year. It is usually organized by the kerala samajam of Botswana. Oooh this dance is not easy at all, your knees need to bend and you end up getting a good work-out.

This bending knee business is a big joke with my mallu girlfriends, because our dance teacher would shake her head and tell me…

“..BEND Rajne (Rachna), bend!!!”, and I would bend my back and lean forwards….and she would say
“NO NO …… bend rajne….bend”

…. hearing that phrase from our teacher at every dance practice after a month or so I realized I had to bend my knees (not my back) and squat… and she began to say…

“ade…ade (yes yes) rajne…”

And after practice all my girlfriends would be on the floor in splits…

Seriously this is beautiful dance. You need to be in a semi-squat position, sway your hips and hands, to the left and right. All the dancers need to move in a circle in a rythmic motion. See the dance here.

I am showing you dance pictures from 2004 and 2005, the one we did in 2005 was also aired on the Malayalam television channel Asianet (which automatically makes me a TV star anyway). See if you can pick me, especially from the last picture. I may not blog hop for some time as I am on tiny holiday visit to South Africa to tie rakhi to my dear brother for rakshabandhan on 28th and celebrate my bday on the 29th with him… later later then, c ya

Here at the end of the dance we are trying to make a traditional villaka (traditional kerala lamp) by joining the small lamps in our hands, can u see it?

Dance from 2005

ok pick me from this pic

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Botswana: the gem of Southern Africa, the diamond of Africa

As I near the completion of 20 years in the beautiful country of Botswana, I decided to dedicate a post to it and send a postcard to lovely Bee and Jay at Jugalbandi. When I finished the postcard, I still had a lot to tell about this lovely country and I had gone through tons and tons of my old photographs. I didn’t know which picture to send in the postcard and which not to. I selected a few and the rest I show you today with ramblings here and there.

Bouganvilla outside my house: Spring arrives late in southern africa


A marula tree outside my office: no sign of marulas yet


Botswana countryside: comprised mostly of thorn bushes and brown mopane trees

Botswana highway: the main highway in Botswana runs north south next to the railway line.


Thick dry mopane bush: waiting for the rains


Mopane leaves beginning to get green: after the rains start, they will be teeming with mopane worms.

Most rivers are dry throughout the year and only fill up during the rainy season.


Chibuku: the local alcoholic drink, "feel the goodness"??


Our lodge chalets in Francistown: where we stayed recently


Approaching the Botswana Border from South Africa: As you approach Botswana by road you will realize that the vegetation gets drier, less greener and with more thorn bushes (as we approach the semi-desert Kalahari.

The village of Letlhakeng: This is a typical village in Botswana, huts and modern houses together and scattered over long distances. Letlhakeng is the start of the Kalahari Semi Desert which stretches all through the west, south- west of the country into South Africa and Namibia.


Typical homes in the village of Molepolole: This a typical yard in a village; notice the little kitchen outside the house on the left.


Elaborate fence in Letlhakeng: Some houses in the village are fences using dried tree logs dug into the ground.


Beautiful traditional baskets: A basket weaving lady made these beautiful baskets, she was too shy to get photographed. In my opinion some of the villagers are so talented.


A sheepskin entrepreneur in Letlhakeng: he is sitting outside his home and about to cut the skin to stitch some bags and slippers.


Ostriches: An ostrich farm in the village of Letlhakeng. Ostriches are farmed for their eggs and feathers.

Takatokwane Pan: A salt water pan near Letlhakeng. There are so many salt pans in Botswana, many are dry; the largest being the Makgadikgadi pans towards the north. See the emptiness of the makgadikgadi pans here.

Khutse: Chalet lodges at Khutse Game Reserve. There are numerous game parks with luxury accommodation that bring you closer to the wild animals.

Eland at Madikwe: In my opinion this is such a beautiful animal… a cross between a camel and a deer, the game rancher told us. They are good at jumping over fences and escaping the border fences of the game parks.

Baby and Mother: A baby elephant hides under its mama at Kruger National Park in South Africa: cho chweet

Elephants: at Chobe National Park in the north of Botswana


Hippos at Chobe: It easy to think that you are watching clear ‘empty’ water. And as you wait they start appearing one by one and you realize it flooded with hippos in the water!!


Hippo at Chobe: They all go back in and then one comes out to give a huge grunt and spray water in the air.


Chobe National Park: Do you spot a lion in the bush?


Lioness at Chobe National Park: Even when you know you are safe in your van; when you see the real lion out in the wild, you definitely break out in a sweat and your breathing gets short and heavier!

Lionesses at Chobe: whoever said the lion is the king of the jungle? All he does is fight with each other for supremacy, it’s the lionesses that do the real stuff like hunt for food and take care of the cubs. From now on its queen of the jungle!


The Madikwe boys (two young male lions) at Pilanesburg National Park. On of my favourite game parks is Pilanesburg which is located on an extinct volcano; this is where all the ranchers are on a walkie talkie. When they sight animals they keep informing each other and if our van is nearby, the ranchers lets us know that there is a lion, cheetah nearby and drive towards it. I can’t forget these particular lions because firstly they were so close to our vans and secondly I was expecting (preggy) at the time and my excitement even made my baby excited: he started kicking me from inside. It was a double scare for my husband! The next scheduled game drive I stayed behind at my camp :)

Female Springboks: They are female because they don’t have any horns!

A magestic Kudu: Isn’t he beautiful.

Vervet monkey: at madikwe game park.

Warthog in the bush: A mother warthog and her baby at Kruger National park

Rhino at Pilanesburg: Perfect profile of a rhino

The zebra couple at Kruger


A rhino sleeps under the bush at Kruger National