Gentle India:Yoga

P1050869“This is your wakeup call Ma’am. It is six o’clock. Have a nice day,” the quiet voice on the phone tells me. With a quick hot shower and a cup of tea in the still, dark, morning our day begins. Sunlight is beginning to break its way through the tall trees surrounding our cabin in the woods as we walk a couple hundred feet along a rock path that leads to a large open pavilion. A few yoga mats are laid out. One is for me. A small candle with a ring of marigold and rose petals around it burns in the corner.

I silently sit down on my mat, cross my legs, and breathe in the smell of burning incense. A small thin man wearing a turban strides around the pavilion swinging a vessel of smoking eucalyptus leaves to keep the mosquitoes away. The only sound is the sweet song of birds––singing in dozens of different voices. Am I awake? I feel I as though I’m in a mystical dream world.

“Please sit comfortably. Make sure you are comfortable. Keep your back and neck straight. Close your eyes gently. Be aware of your surroundings,” the slow quiet lilt of Doctor P., the young woman who is the in-house physician of Ayruvedic medicine and our yoga master this morning, intones. How can I not be aware of the beauty of early morning all around me?

“Be aware of your body,” she says next. Aware I am. My thighs are burning and the rest of my body trembles with awareness of muscles I didn’t know I had before I came to this place a few days ago. Now I’ve been here long enough to know that soon I’ll forget my initial discomfort of sitting with my legs crossed in front of me.

My 1½-hour practice, that was long and difficult when we first arrived, comes to a close too soon. “With a little smile on your face, open your eyes with a few blinks,” Doctor P. says.

It’s not hard to smile. I open my eyes and the pavilion is flooded with sunlight, the early morning mist is disappearing into the forest and my day unfolds.

After a breakfast of fresh fruit, porridge and yoghurt Ross and I take a long walk through the farm past the greenhouses and some other sheds where the cows sleep at night.P1050874
Farther on there is a little Hindu shrine to Ganesh, a god of good luck that some of the workers decorate with chrysanthemums and pray in every morning.IMG_0491P1050878

My favourite spot is a small raised pavilion in the middle of the vegetable garden. It’s surrounded by bougainvillea and has a big mat on the floor with colourful handcrafted quilt and pillows to lean back on. Gentle breezes rustle the leaves in exotic trees at the edge of the garden and dozens of colourful birds call out to one another and  perform their little dances near the pavilion. It’s and ideal place for writing and sketching.P1050882

Ayruvedic principles, (arus=life; veda= science) including a vegetarian diet, herbal treatments (for me a message,) yoga and a no-alcohol-on-the-premises policy, in Shreyas retreat, near Bangalore, are a big healthy change, from my usual life style.

“This place is as good as it gets. Anywhere,” whispers Ross.

Gentle India is waiting for me to discover . P1050890

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This Is India

IMG_9945How can anyone sleep? Way up over the Bay of Bombay is a thin slice of silver in the black sky, which reminds me I should stop looking out my window and get some rest. The sea glistens like thick molasses. It is 5am, and the in the darkness I can only just make out the gathering place beneath the triumphal arch of the Gateway of India. Under a dim street lamp a couple of dogs are curled up asleep on the seaside promenade.

The emptiness is silent—even the pigeons are asleep.

I’ve been here before. I know that soon India will wake up. I can hardly wait to start another journey. After an 11 ½ hour flight to Frankfurt, and a short change onto another flight 9 ½ hours to Mumbai, I’ve arrived as though by magic into another world.

It’s 5am and I am convincing myself that I should stay awake. There is long orange line stretching to the horizon, hinting of daylight. Slowly the sun breaks through the mist. A few small boats begin to quiver and move out to sea; a vendor or two push their carts into place beside the promenade. The dogs have changed their positions.P1050424

And my stomach is growling in anticipation of a breakfast of the sambar, masala dosa and coriander chutney that I’ve been dreaming of all year.

Now it’s 7am and the harbour and gathering place beneath the arch have come alive. There are a few little boats moving out to sea with fishermen standing in them casting their nets. A small ferry, the first of the day, makes its way across the bay to the 1500 year-old labyrinth of caves and Hindu temples carved into the rock on Elephant Island. In a corner near the arch a monk is emptying a large sack of grain for the pigeons and a large crowd of people gathers around them. A trio of men dressed in shorts and long shirts is facing the sun and beginning a yoga practice. Colourful women with their saris flowing walk along the promenade in small groups. The vendors have come to life.IMG_9974

After breakfast in the garden, I brace myself for the mayhem outside. I know with my sun deprived Canadian skin I’m like a sitting duck on the street and try my best to comport myself as a local. It doesn’t work. I am surrounded by the postcard sellers, giant balloon sellers and touts offering city tours “cheap cheap cheap.” I try hold my eyes straight ahead and (skilfully I think) work my way into group of teenage school children passing by. It’s a triple bonus. I’ve escaped the postcard sellers, am guaranteed safe crossing the busy streets, and I’ve helped the school children practice their English.P1050472

I love wandering up Chhatrapati Shiva Marg, slightly off the usual tourist pathway, past Mumbai’s 19th century colonial buildings ­–– the Royal Bombay Yacht Club, Elphinstone College and the David Sassoon Library. It is a feast of colour. I don’t mind being enticed to step into the tiny women’s cooperative shops along the way that offer a stunning variety of hand-loomed textiles, embroideries and weaving from cottage industries in the surrounding districts.  P1050498

Late in the afternoon we settle into a quiet evening (in our palace hotel) with a yoga practice, especially designed for us by the “palace” yoga master, to help us “detoxify” the effects of jet lag.

Slowwwwly. Breathe in and out. Relaxxxxxx. Strechhhhh your body.

Ommmmm.

Sooooo hummmsa hummmsa sooooo.

This is where I am. India. P1050388

Yoga and a Giant Pangolin

This is an excerpt from my recently completed manuscript, a memoir about travels along the Silk Road  during the past forty-five years.      

Rajasthan. January 2011

For as long as I can remember I’ve travelled India, although vicariously, through books. Marco Polo might be my muse. When my own story about the Silk Road began almost half a century ago now, Ross and I had to change our plans to work and travel in India because of a war. When we finally got there for the first time, in 1994, I was involved with UNICEF and went on a tour to learn about children’s health and education.

This time I’m going to India to rest and to try and fuse the information I’ve gathered over the years so I can find a way to close my story.

By the time Marco began his return voyage to Venice more than two decades after he set out, he was a different person. He’d had twenty-four years’ experience visiting places in the Far East and when he journeyed around the coast of India aboard a merchant ship on his way home he was more open to diversity, able to relax and admire what he saw.  His stories paint a rich picture, drawing his readers’ attention to India’s geography and natural phenomena. “Everything is so different,” he writes over and over. He describes peculiar animals, birds, flora, food and drink. He’s fascinated by the variety of people, their languages and customs, local arts and crafts. He tells the reader of an India so vast and complicated, it would take him another year to recount all the stories.

I’m in awe of Marco. Like him, I’ve changed over the years. Travel is finding news ways of seeing everything. A yoga practice might be a good starting point; after all, yoga originated in India long before Marco came. Millions of people who live here now practice it and it fits with my travel focus of fusing information. In this case the body, the mind and the spirit.

My private yoga practice will be in the old former hunting lodge, somewhat off-putting for me – it’s different from the sparking new yoga studio I go to at home, with forty other participants crammed in together. My thoughts are mixed; I begin to wonder why I want to do this. But here I am. In Rajasthan. In my expedition-weight long underwear (damn, why did I leave my yoga gear in Calgary?) waiting for the yoga lesson and my introduction to India.

Kumar, impeccably dressed in pressed white cotton yoga pyjamas is expressionless. “Come,” he says, leading the way across a park alongside the environmental reserve to the lodge. And the yoga mats. I stumble along behind, uttering a few Canadian pleasantries to try and take the edge off and perhaps eke a smile out of his poker face, but he is steadfast. This tall man with a perfect, straight spine, neatly cropped black hair and tidy moustache is dedicated and wants me to take his instruction seriously.

Somehow my long underwear gives me a comfy-homey feeling that overpowers the discomfort I feel when I’m totally out of place. The peacocks and peahens on the path scuttle away screaming their sympathy “Help. Help.” Are they crying that they’re here in this quiet natural setting to help me feel safe?

At the entrance to the lodge, Mr. Singh, the 80-year-old turbaned Rajput caretaker I met yesterday, claps his hands to his heart in prayer before smiling through his magnificent white handlebar moustache. “Namaste,” he says, welcoming me before he leads me up a zigzagging narrow staircase, designed two hundred years ago to confuse intruders on their way up to the second floor, and mixing me up even more.

In the Maharajas’ days of glory this lodge would have been surrounded by a hundred trumpeting elephants waiting to take hunters out to the adjacent forest to shoot tigers, Mr. Singh remembers. I like Mr. Singh’s presence. He told me he belongs to the Rajputs, a historically fierce warrior caste; now he’s here to protect me.

At the top of the stairs is a small terrace overlooking the environmental reserve. My yoga mat has been neatly placed on the shiny, cool, stone floor facing the forest.

I take a deep breath. Fresh, warm breezes, punctuated with the scent of bougainvillea and hibiscus, soothe me. A deep blue sky frames tight green clusters of the Aravalli Mountain Range surrounding Lake Pichola and Udaipur’s famous white marble palace. It is late in the afternoon and the day cools as the hot sun begins to sink into the hills.

“Take your place. Your mat is your own private space.”

Thank you. I take my place. I stand on the mat. So far so good.

Kumar kneels, and nods, affirming that I should do the same.

I kneel. My crackly knees break the quiet. I stifle a nervous self-conscious giggle.

“Relaxxxxxx. Close your eyes Mrs. Hayes. Ommmmm. Say ommmmm with me,” he says almost too quietly for me to hear but with a definite no nonsense tone. I do my best. I try to keep my eyes shut but I have an urgent need to know what’s happening. Where am I? What’s going on? What do I do now?

“Enjooooyyy the practice.” Kumar chants. I make an effort to calm myself.

I’m told the position of stillness is yoga’s most difficult. And for me it is impossible.

I open my eyes.

The air, the sweet smell of the park, the sun beginning to settle down behind the hills is background for a strange slow movement of some sort at the edge of the park, behind Kumar. Kumar’s eyes are still closed but mine are wide open now.

Something deep within me says, “Be still Nancy. Do not speak. This moment is special for you.” A peculiar beast about the size of a large pig emerges from the bushes and shuffles along the edge of the park. The creature is covered with huge smooth scales, the colour of Rajasthan’s dry earth, shining in  the light, from the tip of its long narrow head to the bottom of its elongated fat tail. Then it slowly, surely, disappears into the forest.

I am calmed, in awe. What have I seen?

I return to my muse, Marco, the model traveller of seven hundred years ago. “Remember this gift and take it with you,” the voice inside me says. Would I have missed the giant pangolin, the giant scaly anteater, a rare sight even in India, had I not been in pursuit of stillness, relaxing and enjoying a quiet yoga practice while I’m here?

Coming next: The Maharaja and Jazz

Reading India

I love reading about places I visit.  For me, India has a goldmine of fine literature.

It’s no surprise that the country is fertile ground for both writers and readers.

There are thousands of years of history and 1.2 billion people live there. That means there are more than1.2 billion stories to be told and thousands of novelists, poets and other writers available to write them. Even Marco Polo wrote about India. He was so well thought of for his contribution to India that the image of his face is discreetly carved into a sidewall of the majestic Brihadeewarara Temple in Tamil Nadu.

English is the second official language, after Hindi. The towns and countryside are dotted with “English medium” schools and bookstores are filled with a tempting variety of good reading material. There is no shortage of talented, entertaining reporting in English language newspapers.

The Jaipur Literature Festival is held every year in January. In 2006, it’s first year, a hundred people attended. Five years later, in 2011, thirty thousand people went. This year The Hindu newspaper reported, “It looked as though the whole world was there. Except Rushdie, of course.”

Certainly all the other star writers were there. Salman Rushdie cancelled his visit saying death threats to him were the reason. There was rumour that the sales of  “Satanic Verses” skyrocketed after his announcement. Tweet wars were rampant. Oprah Winfrey made an appearance, Michael Ondaatje wowed audiences, and David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker magazine sparked debate when he talked about his book “The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barrack Obama.”

Tina Brown called it “The Greatest Literary Show On Earth” 

The festival made the headlines for days while I was in India. I could hardly wait every morning to read and devour all the excitement in the Times of India or the Hindu. The stories go on and on for pages. Even now, several weeks later, I read about it on the Internet and watch the conference sessions on video. You may want to check it out too at http://jaipurliteraturefestival.org/ .  Click on “ Watch Videos.”

In the past few years I’ve delved into a small part of the rich body of literature set in India or partly in India, written by Indians living there, written by the diaspora of Asians who live outside the continent, or written by others who have been touched by India in some way.

Here are a few of my favourite reads.

The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga. This dark comedy really spoke to me of the India I know and the issues that come up regularly in conversation and reading – corruption, struggles to make ends meet, relations between India and China, and difficult family matters such as arranging marriages for children. The author grew up in Mangalore and now lives in Mumbai. This is his debut novel and it won the Booker prize in 2008.  The Booker Prize is awarded each year for the best novel written in the English language by a citizen the Commonwealth.

Life of Pi, Yann Martel is about a young boy, from Pondicherry on the Bay of Bengal. I remembered this book when we visited Pondicherry this year just after Cyclone Thane hit and devastated the area. The young lad, Pi, explores spirituality and what life means when he is shipwrecked and stranded on a small boat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal Tiger. This fantasy-adventure book won the Man Booker prize in 2002. The author is a Canadian who has travelled extensively and has lived in India.

A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry. This Giller prize-winning novel, written by an Indian-born Canadian, is set in Mumbai between 1975 and 1984. The story of a changing society is told through four diverse main characters who bond together during the time of Indira Ghandi, the “Emergency,” and increased government powers and crack down on civil liberties.

Miss New India, Bharati Mukherjee. I read a good review of this book in the Globe and Mail so I downloaded it onto my e-reader while I was travelling. It’s a compelling novel – lots of action, description, and a unique look at the new India. The story is of Anjali, a young woman who leaves her small town to find a high paying job in the high tech industry in Bangalore. The author, who was born in Calcutta, skilfully connects the high tech world of the call centre industry, snazzy coffee shops and bars to the other world of tradition and coping with change.

The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje. I’m putting this on my list because Kip, the Indian Sikh sapper, for me, is one of the memorable characters in Literature. The setting is WWll.  Kip’s comment about the west never being able to reconcile with the east, and America never doing anything like dropping an atom bomb on a white population stuck with me. The book won the Booker award for fiction and Ondaatje was one of the stars at this year’s Jaipur Festival.

The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy. The author was awarded the Booker prize in 1997 for this, her debut (and only) novel. It is semi-autobiographical, set in Kottayam, Kerala from 1969 to 1993, where Roy grew up. This is one of my favourite places in India, close to the world renowned “backwaters.” The story is about “small things” that affect lives. Themes of the caste system, forbidden love, communism, and Kerala’s Syrian Christian community are superbly woven into the story of fraternal twins who are separated.

Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie. This book won the “Booker of Booker” prize  (i.e. the best all time winner) to celebrate the award’s 40th anniversary. It is also on Penguin’s list of “Great Books of the 20th Century.” Using a mix of magic realism and historical events, the story of Saleem Sinai, who was born with magical powers at the exact moment of Independence, is embedded in an account of India’s transition from Colonial times to Independence and Partition.

A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth. This is the story of four families as a mother searches for a suitable boy to marry her daughter. It is peppered with delightfully solemn and satirical views of national politics. Published in 1993, this book is 1488 pages long so it takes commitment to read. It has won several prizes. It’s worth the time.

Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire, Alex vonTunzelmann. This is a history book that reads like a novel. It’s full of romance, intrigue, religion, and disputes surrounding the political end of the British Empire in India. For me it was an important read to help me understand India and today’s politics.

Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese. The author was born in Ethiopia while his parents, teachers from Kerala India, lived there. The main characters in this gripping family saga, set in Ethiopia and the United States, are two physicians from India. It is on my list because it helped me understand better the issues facing expatriates and the Indian diaspora from Africa that now lives in North America.

What are some of the books you’ve read about the places you visit (vicariously or otherwise)?  Please click on comment and tell us about them.  I’d love to read your stories. 

Update March 20. Eleanor Wachtel’s CBC Writers and Company interview with the Indian writer and politician Sashi Tharoor is brilliant. If you missed it  click  http://www.cbc.ca/writersandcompany/episode/2012/03/18/south-asian-conversations-part-5/

Delicious Kerala

I love this place. Mohan, our trusted driver these past few weeks travelling slowly through South India, told us Kerala was “God’s Own Country.” I understand now why he couldn’t wait to show us his home state.

Kerala means land of coconut in Malayalam, the local language. But Kerala is not only about coconut.

It’s tea plantations, hills, backwaters, beaches along the Arabian Sea and Mohan’s favourite, “Kerala Fish Curry.” He has it almost every day with thali, a creative compilation of small tasty local dishes. Traditionally thali’s served on a banana leaf. Wholesome and inexpensive thali includes Kerala brown rice, vegetables, chutney, yoghurt and pickle.What better place to learn how to make Mohan’s fish curry than Cochin or Kochi as it has recently been renamed – it ‘s been a centre of fishing and trading in India for centuries.

Today a visit to Hindu temples, mosques, churches and a synagogue tells the story of Kochi’s long history. With a population of about one and a half million, it is not the sleepy port we first visited in 1994. At that time we could hear explosions off the coastline. “Dynamite.” We were told then. “For fishing.” The illegal dynamiting has been stopped but the renowned Chinese fishing nets in Kochi now “are mainly for catching tourists,” our guide tells us. I’m glad the fishing nets are still there. They are a beautiful reminder of the past and a way of living in Cochin.

Many of the chefs in the small hotels we are staying in South India are pleased to share their recipes and happy to help make changes to avoid allergens, even the much-loved coconut that is in every “Kerala” dish. Chef Kardhik at Brunton Boatyard Hotel near the fishing nets taught us how to make fish curry. I’ll make it at home and maybe post the recipe.We left out the Kerala and substituted cream. Delicious.

Like most things in this beautiful part of India.

Coming Next: Sama. Equanimity 

A Beach of Two Tales: Guest Post by Ross Hayes. Architect.Urban Planner.

We had been in India for two days staying south of Chennai (Madras) at Covelong. Exploring the beach, in one direction I happened upon a fishing village, which appeared to have evolved from centuries of tradition. In the other direction, I saw high-rises, India’s response to its emerging role in the world’s high tech community. The contrast could not have been more vivid.

To the right, I make out faint silhouettes of fishing boats, people moving and the blocky outline of a village smothered in palms. I set out to explore it. I expect hopeful little voices saying, “pen please, where are you from,” but the children are preoccupied with a game of leapfrog interrupted by a dash to the shore to greet incoming fishermen.

A long open boat surfs the waves as it approaches and it is skilfully turned broadside at the beach. Two fishermen jump out and with a long pole between them, sling a heavy motor off the stern and march it up the beyond the high tide line. Then they quickly return to the boat to hoist off two bales of fish as the faces of enthusiastic onlookers light up with the sight of the catch.

I walk further into the crowd. An older gentleman wearing a dhoti with a white embroidered cap sits cross-legged at the bow of a boat and gazes into the horizon. I can’t begin to guess his thoughts, but his calmness suggests a satisfaction that this time the sea has been good.

Not far away, a group of women with young children sit on an old boat. They indicate they want me to take their picture. They laugh, shout at their kids to be still and flash broad smiles at the camera. Their red forehead markings and large gold earrings glisten. Their colourful saris flow down to the sand.

And then thank me! I thought I should be thanking them.

Close by an informal market is set up. Women sit on the sand, spreading out banana leaves in front of themselves to display the catch. There are long silver fish, glistening in the afternoon sun and mounds of shrimp. Smaller fish remind me of children’s drawings, shaped by two intersecting curved lines with a dot for the eye.

Down at the beach, a group of kids chase a floating red ball. Two Moslem women join in the fun and plunge into the surf, fully clothed in their long back robes. Three sari clad Hindu friends, who are also being soaked and tossed about in the surf, cheer them on.A few metres away fishermen are repairing nets, carefully sewing stone weights into the bottom edge to prepare for another day and hopefully another celebration.

Later on I walk to the left of our cottage. I have seen activity there, but I don’t know exactly what’s happening. I move along the beach past two abandoned fishing boats. A river flowing out to sea blocks my way and then I see a young man who parks his bicycle in the shade of the trees. My eyes follow him as he strides across the sand flats and swims across the river with his net across his shoulder. The current sweeps him toward the open sea. But I see he’s done this. He finds a perch in the sand below him before he casts his net.

I watch for a moment before I see an unexpected skyline.

A series of high rises of 15 to 20 storeys are visible. These are the new-gated communities, forced out of Chennai (Madras) by the inability of the city to cope with its new 24/7 high tech industry-world. Shops have now taken over sidewalks. People are squeezed into the road with bicycles, motorcycles, three wheel motor rickshaws, cars, trucks and thick black exhaust. Add into the mix delivery vans, construction debris and an occasional cow. The result is chaos that grinds everything to a halt.

I can taste the pollution. The sound is deafening.

I am told that the city has grown four-fold in 15 years.

A new generation of workers in the IT industry has moved out of the city to new self-contained gated communities offering housing, offices, schools, clinics, recreation and shopping centres. An add in the paper claims this is a “new paradigm of urban life,” a “verdant enclave” with “sprawling sylvan grounds” and a place where “a new life begins.”

Within an hour’s walk I had found a beach of two tales – a community intricately shaped by a way of life that is centuries old and another community that has exploded from the force of a new industry.

Idli and Dosa

Why do you go to India, people ask. It’s so far away, they say.

I go because so much is new and exotic, especially the mornings. Beautiful birds, I don’t even know their names, sing sweet songs in the garden, just outside my window. The sun creeps over the mountain and shines on the east slopes across the valley, bringing to life tea plantations that go on for as far as I can see. A comforting smell of wood burning to fuel fires for breakfast blends with a faint aroma of simmering curry. It’s time for breakfast. 

I’ve never been a big fan of breakfast at home but reluctantly I down some wholesome cereal or a boiled egg every morning.It’s different here.

Breakfast is a food-lovers delight. I love Indian breakfasts. Dosas, pizza-size, paper- thin rice flour pancakes, are served with sambar, a spicy, thick, yellow lentil and vegetable soup served with chutney, coconut, tomato and/or my favourite, coriander chutney. For variety, instead of dosa I ask for idli, an uncooked-looking feather-light rice dumpling that I dip into the mouth-watering sambar.

“How is everything this morning?” Ali, the chef, asks.

Ross is eating his omlet and toast. He loves his Canadian breakfast that is also served here.

“OOOO I gush. I love this. May I ask you a question? You don’t have to answer, you’re so busy now. But I really need to know how to make it.” I slurp up more sambar. “It’s sooo good.”

“Dosa and sambar are very, very traditional.” Ali says. “Also idli. Have you tried idli yet? People love idli too. We make everything from scratch here. It’s important.”

“First you need to soak the grains. Then you grind them like this” and he rolls his hands together. The dosas look easy to make but to be tasty you must carefully prepare the mixture.

“From scratch.” He says again. “For the sambar also. You must always use fresh curry leaf and coriander.” I’m thinking about some of my spice jars at home that have been sitting in the cupboard for fifteen years. Ali continues, “We never use pre-mixed curry powder here. We mix each special spice for every dish we prepare. And we always use tomato, onion, lentils for the sambar.”

I’m in awe and make a secret vow to reform my cooking practices. But I need to let Ali know that I can make some things well, although maybe not sambar and dosa. “Have you tied Angel Pie I ask? It’s our family’s favourite dessert. You can get it on my blog. In fact if you email me your recipes for dosa and idli I can put them on my blog too.”

Ali is thrilled.

And so, dear friends and family here is Ali’s recipe for idli and dosa.

I’ll make it for you some day.

IDLI

Boiled Rice

750 gms / 3 cups

Raw Rice

250 gms / 1 cup

Urad Dal

250 gms / 1 cup

Salt

To taste

STEPS TO PERFORM

Step 1 : Soak the rice and dal seperately for 2 hours
Step 2 :  Grind seperately, the rice should be coarse in texture and the dal should
be light and fine texture.
 
Step 3 : Mix together, add salt, blend.
 
Step 4 : Keep covered, ferment overnight.
 
Step 5: Next morning boil water in the pan of the idli steamer, place perforated idli
tray lined with muslin cloth on top.
 
Step 6: Pour idli batter into each cup
 
Step 7: Steam until done.
 
Step 8: Check if done by prickling with a fork.
 
Step 9: To remove idli, turn upside down on a platter, sprinkle water over the muslin
and slowly remove the muslin.
 
Step 10: Remove idli and keep it warm in a casserole.

DOSA

 

INGREDIENTS

QUANTITY

Raw rice

125 gms / 1/2 cup

Par boiled rice

625 gms / 2 1/2 cups

Methi seeds

1 tbsp / 12 gm

Urad dal

250 gms / 1 cup

Salt

To taste

STEPS TO PERFORM

Step 1 : Soak rice and dal seperately for 4 hours. Grind seperately to a fine batter.
 
Step 2 : Mix both batter together with salt to taste.
                  
Step 3 : Set aside overnight to ferment.

 

Step 4 : Next morning, spread dosa mixture thinly on a heated and greased tava.

Pour a teaspoon of oil around dosa. Cook and fold.

 
Step 5: Serve with sambar and chutney.
 
Step 6: If masala dosa, keep the potato filling in the centre and
fold.

Coming eventually: It is very difficult to write when the warm breezes are blowing and the sun is shining. My posts will continue to be erratic. I want too be outside all the time where my pencil and notepad work but the computer doesn’t. Thank you for your comments. I love them.  As soon as I can I’ll tell you about my cooking lesson with Binot, the chef at Windmere. We made my favourite, Sambar.