Carrot kheer

10 Tips to help plan your next big party | Carrot Kheer recipe

Have you experienced “biryani fatigue” ever? I am in the middle of it now. I don’t want to eat biryani ever.. in the next 2 months. We were about to have a large family get-together of nearly 30 guests. We decided to order biryani and make everything else at home. I’d make carrot kheer, gulab jamun, mangalore ghee chicken roast, mutton kola urundai, rice, rasam, vegetable biryani, mixed vegetable jalferazie and curd rice. We wanted to make sure the biryani was top-notch. So the week leading up to the party we ate biryani daily, taste testing biryanis to decide the best place to order from. If you had seen a woman with a faint masala scent, walking up and down the store with a notebook in one hand and a fully loaded cart, kneeling down here checking the label behind the byadigi chilli pack, going back and adding an extra pack of everything and stopping every shop assistant for help, you should have probably helped her, without judging.   I made estimations and calculated volumes of each dish and worked backwards to calculate volumes of each ingredient I had to buy. I visited the grocery store twice a day during that period. I bought extra ladles, extra-large woks and steel buckets to serve from. I spent the 85 hours of the next 72 hours in the kitchen. I cooked each dish one at a time, slowly, tasting along the way, tweaking, taking a second opinion, fine-tuning again. I erred on the side of caution and made a little too much of everything. And about one-third of them didn’t show up. Nothing serious. In our part of the world, requesting for RSVP is considered rude. However not showing up is perfectly fine. And so I ate biryani the whole week after the party as well. The party menu was our family menu for the entire week after that. This after I dug out all the dabbas I possessed to pack food for my maid, for my parents, for my parent’s cook and for relatives who lived close by. This, my friends is what party hangover feels like. You’ll want to not cook even an omelette, you’ll feel like you’ve released “Bahubali”, you’ll crave a leg massage, you’ll want to eat out, watch a movie, rest for a week and want to go on a holiday alone. I compiled a list of...

Homemade Orange Peel Face pack

I am at the beauty parlour, lying on the facial table in a skimpy strappy slip kind of thing, hair scrunched up, face plastered with a face pack and trying to hold down my dress, when the pretty young Manipuri girl paints my foot with bleach. She says something to the other pretty young girl checking my face pack and then they giggle. I can’t see them. I don’t understand the language but I feel overwhelmingly confident that they’re talking about me. I wonder if she’s talking about my under-arm hair or my unkempt feet. I feel this way every time I am at the beauty parlour. I feel they’re talking about me.   I understand Hindi but I don’t usually reveal that I do. I imagine it must be shocking when I finally say “Mujhe Hindi Maloom Hai” (I know Hindi) and they realize they’ve been rude and I understood all the while. I have as a result been commented on and ended up too shocked to deliver my Hindi dialogue and would just leave. Then there are these parlours I avoid going to, where I go in for a cheap face clean-up (the no-frills facial) and the stylist takes a long look at me and shrieks – “dark circles, spots, tanned skin, dry hair, split ends, cracked foot, aged, fat, lazy, cynical. You need to get the oxy-moronic-whitening-anti-ageing facial plus the anti-frizz hair-spa and the chocolate pedicure.” I look at the prices and at the mirror and then at the prices. I can’t totally disagree with her. I cannot agree with her. I try to take the middle path, I say I’ll take the facial one above the basic clean-up and I promise to cleanse and moisturize every-day. She tries to push her 3000 rupee shampoo on to me. I say “Not now, maybe next time” hoping she’ll stop. After 30 odd years, I’ve just come to terms with my non-straight wavy hair and my mildly dark (not too dark) complexion. I am Indian. I accept that I’ll never be fair skinned and I won’t have ‘hanging curtain’ like straight hair. I am ok now. Don’t mess up my head, lady. Long ago when I was still single, my mother made a face pack for me after I complained that I was getting too tanned. She had read about it in a Tamil magazine. I forget its name....

Plastic cup lamp – Booze party (Sarakku party) décor

I made this plastic cup lamp for a Sarakku party (Booze party) that we had last week-end at home. It was a barbecue cum Sarakku party that we had been planning for a very long time with friends and which finally happened last weekend. It was also the eve of my husband’s birthday. I thought it would be fitting to have a huge plastic cup lamp as the centrepiece. You see the plastic cup is synonymous with sarakku (booze) here in TamilNadu (drink, crush and throw). This lamp is super easy to make, fully functional, practical and symbolic of the Moda kudi (extreme booze if you will) that happens at such parties. Best of all, the lamp is so cheap! I bought 2 packs of 100 plastic cups each and the total cost was less than 100 rupees. You’ll need a stapler and about half a pack of stapler pins. That’s it. Staple away.  You could make these lamps in any shape you want – I made a dome shape. I actually wanted to make a spherical lamp but I used up around 130 lamps just for one half of the sphere, I knew I didn’t have enough for another half, so I let it be a dome shaped lamp. This dome shape with the underside open turned out to be more convenient to fit in the light. So being flexible like this and not having a plan is actually good. We didn’t factor in the weather while planning this outdoor party. Who does that in Chennai? How often does it rain in Chennai? But we’re notoriously unlucky in that way. It was super sultry that evening and we had to retrieve our long forgotten air-cooler to create some circulation on the terrace. We had the barbecue going and everything went along great. And then it rained. Really lucky, right! Thankfully we were almost through and only our last batch of chicken remained to be grilled. We hurriedly moved everything in. But it was a short shower. It was then nice and chill, almost like in Ooty (not that cold obviously, but how would Ooty be if Ooty was in Chennai? It was like that) – even better for boozing. The men continued un-deterred determined to out-puke each other.    We couldn’t hang the lamp in the middle as we didn’t have a near enough light socket, so we had...

Vengaya Vathal – Onion vathal/Vadam

Come Summer and Mambalam Mamis would be out in force on their terraces, laying out these vathal/vadams on Mama’s dhotis. Most of the vathal/vadam preparation happens during peak summer – April and May when the sun is at its scorching best and there are no winds to blow dust on to the drying vathals. It’s one big open-air, preheated oven, un-affected by voltage fluctuations and power cuts. I am late as usual. I made these in early June when Kathiri was already over and the brief summer showers were just around the corner. I am perpetually late – for classes, for aerobics, for my own wedding reception and now for my children’s school. It was no surprise that I was late for the vathal season as well. Vathals turn out best when they’ve had 3-4 days of blistering sun. In Chennai, that’s never a problem, usually. But when I decide to debut in the vathal arena, even nature colludes against me. The day we made these vathals, the weather was dark, cloudy, windy and un-characteristically pleasant. Even better – the next couple of days, Chennai received nice, sometimes quite heavy showers. Chennai was rejoicing and radio stations were playing rain songs while I silently fumed. It’s as if god was saying “Don’t try this, spare the vathals, at-least”. But if anything I am stubborn. Vathals I did make and they turned out really good thanks to my mother who did vathal duty shuttling them in and out (while I worried in office) and Rajee aunty who initiated me into the vathal club. The vathals tasted just like the vathals that the mami friends used to give us every summer. These vengaya vathals – onion vathals are nice and crunchy with lovely bits of fried onions and are a great accompaniment to rice and rasam. These vathals are extremely handy when you feel a meal is just short of a dish – deep fry these in a jiffy and you have a tasty and crunchy side-dish ready in minutes. I am sending this to Srivalli’s summer special Mela. Prep time: 20 mins + 1 hour laying themCooking time: 20 minsMakes: Enough to last 6 months for a family of 4-5 Ingredients Raw rice (Maavu rice) – 1 kiloJavvarisi/Pear Sago/Sabudana – 200 gmGreen chillies – 250 gm (around 15-20)Salt to tasteOnions – 1 kilo chopped fineWater – 4X times the flour Method...

Glass Bangle candle Holder

These glass bangle candle holders are pretty, thrifty and functional. They’re super easy to make and are best for kids aged 3-6. It’s fun for moms to do on their own as well as these are beautiful and are a nice alternative to expensive store-bought candle holders and you need not worry about buying the same ones that everybody else has bought (think home-centre). The best part is it’s more of a candle shade than a candle holder. So you can light the candles first and then place these candle holders around the candle. Moving them around is also just as easy, you can remove the holders and then the candles. They need not go together. Every year we receive lots of these assorted glass bangles for various occasions – Seemandham (baby shower) or Aadi Pooram and they just sit there in a box as they’re mostly too big for my hands and they’re too mixed up to go with any one saree. These candle holders make the best use of my over-sized glass bangles. I made a “Crafts” menu-tab on my blog initially hoping to post simple and pretty crafts that ordinary moms like me could do. I’ve posted 60 recipes now and not a single craft. You should know by now that I am not very crafty. I wish I was. This glass bangle candle holder is something I did with my daughter a couple of months back. I say “with my daughter” because my kids don’t generally stay till it is done. My kids are too impatient to sit for long and are more naughty than crafty. My daughter likes using scissors to cut pillow covers, barbecue brushes, books and all sorts of important stuff that’d make you scream. My son is too young to handle scissors; instead he soaks up everything in water. I usually start with the two of them seated by my side, patiently explaining what we’re going to do, how it’s going to look and how much fun it’s going to be. My son bolts within the first 5 minutes with the glue or some crucial element. My daughter stays for a little longer and is a bit more interested but she too wanders away before long and I am usually left alone to complete what we had started. Does this happen to you? My craft principles: 1.      It’s got to be simple. As simple...

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