Friday, August 30, 2013

India’s Protected Zones !

Did you know ? India is home to 664 protected areas including national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

Here are some of the statistics:

- 102 National parks

- 515 Wildlife sanctuaries

- 47 Conservation reserves

- 43 Tiger reserves
Also 4.9 % of India’s geographical area is declared as Protected Area. Andaman and Nicobar Islands have the highest number of Protected areas.
White tiger at Nandankanan Zoo, Orissa
Andaman and Nicobar Protected areas: 105
Maharashtra Protected areas: 41
Himachal Pradhesh: 37

Source: The Economic Times
“The only good cage is an empty cage.”

― Lawrence Anthony, The Elephant Whisperers

Here come the Andhra podi's !

As promised in my earlier blog, here are the recipes for the Andhra podi's (powder's)

Kandi podi

1 cup split red gram (Kandi pappu in Telugu, Tuvar dal in Hindi)
Kandi podi

1 cup split Bengal gram (chana dal in Hindi)

¼ cup split green gram (moong dal in Hindi)
¼ cup split black gram (urad dal in Hindi)
5-6 red chillies (can be varied to suit individual taste)
¼ cup cumin seeds (jeera in Hindi)
Salt as per taste

Method of preparation:

Roast the lentils (dals) separately. Roast the red chilles and jeera too separately. Let all these ingredients cool. Grind the chillies first in a grinder, then add the dals and jeera and grind to a fine powder. Add salt to taste. Store in a dry container.

Karivepaaku podi

Karivepaaku podi
1 cup split black gram (urad dal in Hindi)
¼ cup coriander seeds (dhania in Hindi)
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi in Hindi)
4-5 red chillies (can be varied to suit individual taste)
1 bunch fresh curry leaves (karivepaaku in Telugu, karvepatta in Hindi)

1 teaspoon of tamarind
Few drops of edible oil
Salt as per taste

Method of preparation:
Roast the black gram, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds and red chillies separately. Fry the curry leaves with a few drops of oil for 1-2 minutes.

Grind the chillies, first in a grinder, and then add the curry leaves, followed by all the other ingredients (ensure the tamarind seeds are removed before grinding it along with the other ingredients) Grind to powder. Add salt to taste. Store in a dry container.
Note: Some like this podi coarser, while some prefer the fine powder.

Nuvvulu podi

Nuvvulu podi
1 cup sesame seeds (nuvvulu in Telugu, Til in Hindi)
4-5 red chillies (can be varied to suit individual taste)
Salt as per taste

Method of preparation:
Roast the sesame seeds well, till they attain a light brownish colored hue. Roast the red chillies separately. First, grind the red chillies in a grinder. Now, add the roasted sesame seeds and grind to a coarse powder. Add salt to taste. Store in a dry container.
Caution: Do not grind it to a very fine powder as this powder then tends to become sticky due to the oozing of oil from the sesame seeds.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Podis (lentil powders) from Andhra!

Would like to eat something different, instantly? Spicy podi’s of Andhra Pradesh like Kandi podi, Nuvvulu podi, Karivepaaku podi come to your rescue!

Podis form an essential part of the vast Andhra cuisine.

Try having mixing any one of these ready to eat podis or gunda’s (powders in Telugu) with hot rice and a little oil (preferably groundnut oil) or ghee and savor the unique taste!

Kandi podi as a dry chutney with pesarattu (unsplit green gram dosa)

Also, any of these trio podi’s can be sprinkled on idlis, dosas or pancakes, in dry form or converted into chutney, especially kandi podi, by adding a little water or oil to it.

These ready to eat, podis, are made essentially with roasted lentils, along with red chillies and other ingredients. Here are their respective components, and the exact recipe for making each of these podis will be shared in my next blog post.
Andhra spice podis (powders): Kandi podi, Kariveepakku podi and Nuvvulu podi (from left to right)

Kandi podi: Split red gram (Kandi pappu in Telugu, Tuvar dal in Hindi), split black gram (urad dal in Hindi), split green gram (moong dal in Hindi), split Bengal gram (chana dal in Hindi), dried red chillies, salt

Nuvvulu podi: Sesame seeds (Nuvullu in Telugu), dried red chillies, salt

Karivepaaku podi: Curry leaves (Karivepaaku in Telugu), chana dal, urad dal, dried red chillies, coriander seeds, tamarind, salt
Since my childhood days, I remember, my mother making these spicy podis, diligently every month, which used to come in handy, especially during the rainy season!

Food is our common ground, a universal experience.- James Beard

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Save the Sparrow !

The harmless and cute common sparrow, which we were used to seeing around since our childhood, may soon become a rarity due to urbanisation.

World Sparrow Day is celebrated on March 20 to highlight the need to conserve sparrows as well as urban biodiversity.

Here are some sparrow facts*:

•Sparrows are social birds and very close to humans.

•They are known as “songbirds” and popular for their chirps.

•Sparrows are not water birds but they can swim to protect themselves from predators.

•Males have a black bib and reddish back. Females have brown backs with eyes stripe.

•Sparrows feed on seeds, crumbs and small invertebrates like insects.

•Their nests are not built with organization like their other bird counterparts.

•Males are more active in building nests than females.

•Manmade environments have always been a good source of food and shelter for sparrows.

•Sparrows can be quite aggressive in protecting their nests from intruders especially if they are of the same sex.

•The male and female sparrows help each other in incubation. The maximum time for incubation is around two weeks.

•Adult sparrows are mostly vegetarian however young ones need to feed on insects and animal matter immediately after they are hatched for survival.

What can we do to save the sparrows ? Here are some suggestions:

- Keep bird boxes and bird feeders outside your house or in your gardens.

- Water-bowls or a bird-baths, especiaaly in the hot summers help birds to re-hydrate.

- Grow plants.

* Reference:; The “Save Sparrow” Program is a corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative of Travels & Rentals Lufthansa City Center based in Kolkata. This project was inspired by Bhanumati Parekh.

Picture courtesy: The Hindu

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Kashmiri Kahwa tea

Several months back in January, this year, I happened to come across the The Kashmiri Craftisan Festival which was ongoing in near Haiko shopping centre, Powai . And I stopped by to try out their Kehwa tea, as I was a keen tea lover!

The taste of the Kehwa tea was indeed different – it was like a mix of the green tea and the regular tea (though we have it with milk, this tea did not have milk in it) with a heavy dose of dry fruits.
Kehwa tea from a samovar

Here are some brief details about this tea: Kehwa tea (also known as kahwah or qahwah) is usually served to guests in Kashmir (Northern part of India) It is prepared in a brass kettle known as samovar*

Kehwa tea

Served in tiny, shallow cups, the tea is made by boiling green tea leaves, cinnamon bark and cardamom pods. Kashmiri roses may be added for enhanced aroma. It is served with sugar or honey and crushed nuts like almonds or walnuts. Saffron is added for special visitors!

*Samovar: A samovar consists of a "fire-container" running as a central cavity, in which live coals are placed keeping the tea perpetually hot. Around the fire-container there is a space for water to boil and the tealeaves and other ingredients are mixed with the water.

“Who would then deny that when I am sipping tea in my tearoom I am swallowing the whole universe with it and that this very moment of my lifting the bowl to my lips is eternity itself transcending time and space?”
― D.T.Suzuki, Zen and Japanese Culture.
Every day many of us, need our early morning cup of hot coffee to start our day !

Did you know: Coffee takes its birth from the legend of Kaldi in Ethiopia. As per the legend, a goatherd noticed that his goats, upon eating berries from a certain tree, became so spirited that they did not want to sleep at night!

Top 10 Coffee producers in the world are:

1. Brazil
2. Vietnam
3. Colombia
4. Indonesia
5. India
6. Ethiopia
7. Honduras
8. Peru
9. Guatemala
10. Mexico

When traveling with someone, take large doses of patience and tolerance with your morning coffee.
Helen Hayes