Lloyds Tea House, Chennai, India

The next time I am out on a CFG Showcase I am ensuring to pop in at least two pills of H2 receptor inhibitors. Else I am sure to die of breaks in the tissue linings of my stomach.  The delay in serving was understandable, though.

 

The sound of Lloyd’s Tea House gave me an impression that the entire place is gonna be filled with Tea leaves from diversities and to match my belief, it did.

For those of us who are immune to the taste of Indian tea, there wouldn’t be many takers for the kind of range they sell. I got to taste two types of teas and both were out of the world. Forgot their names, dammmit.

 

It all began with a nice shoot around the place. The ambience is a super hit. They have tried to pull out of their old Aristocrat and VIP luggage boxes from their home, must be from their siblings too, and jack it up in place on the wall. Perhaps they would have emptied the cash in it to build this illustrious “talk of the town” restaurant. Want to relax on a warm evening..then this is the place to be.

The food was awesome – they over stuffed us in fact.

Spicy Garlic Toast to begin with and followed by Crisp Chilly herb bread..
Roasted Vegetable Pizza was great – but lowering the olive oil portion will help.

(here is when I realized I needed a 150mg dosage of Ranitidine Hydrochloride to arrest my stomach acids from releasing and then growling for want of food)

 

I am letting my images speak a little bit. ..and will leave the rest of the restaurants to gloat ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

 

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Orange Pulav

A very different and tasty rice preparation that is quick to make and attractive to serve

Ingredients:

Basmathi Rice – 2 cups
Orange Juice [ freshly squeezed ] – 2 cups
Onions – 2 big thinly sliced
Green Chillies – 5 or 6
Peas – 1/4 cup
Ghee – 4 tlbs
Cashewnuts – About 15 whole ones
Cardamom – 1
Cinnamon – 1 piece
Cloves – 2
Water 1 1/2 cups
Salt to taste
Kissmiss – 20 [ optional]

Method:

Wash the rice and add the orange juice + water and soak for about an hour.
Add the cinnamon + cloves + cardamom + peas + salt to the soaked rice and pressure cook till cooked.Since the rice has already soaked for a while take care not to over cook.
In a pan add a little ghee and fry the cashews & Kissmiss and set aside.
Add the rest of the ghee and fry the thinly sliced onions along with the green chillies slit into two. When the onions turn golden brown add this to the rice and mix well. Garnish with the fried cashew & kissmiss.

Tips:
Tinned orange juice may not work well since it will be sweetened.So better to use fresh juice
Since the rice may not be too spicy you can serve it with a curry that is spicy
For a very beautiful presentation you can place a few Orange Slices on the finished rice

Olan – A Kerala Delicacy

Olan is a much sought after keralite dish that is part of any festive occasion,function or wedding. Except for the strong flavor of coconut oil it does not boast of any distinct or tangy flavors yet its fame has spread far and wide and the dish is part of most Hindu weddings in Tamil Nadu as well now a days. The dried Karamani or Black eyed Peas that is added here is an excellent source of protein making this an extremely healthy dish to eat.

Easy to make and wonderfully delicious to eat!

Ingredients:
White Pumpkin [Poosanikkai] – 1 cup
Yellow Pumpkin [Maththan] – 1 cup
Green Chillies – 4
Salt – To taste
Black eyed Peas [Dried Karamani] – 1/4 cup
Coconut Oil – 2 Tlbs
Coconut Milk – 1/2 cup Optional
Green Karamani- 1/4 cup Optional
Curry Leaves
Method:
Soak the Black eyed peas overnight. In the morning pressure cook it and keep aside.
Peel skin and cut both pumkins into 3 to 4cm cubes of about 1/2cm thickness.
Wash green chillies and make a slit in each.
If using green Karamani wash and cut them into 1 inch long pieces.
In a pan cook the pumpkin + slit chillies + green karamani + salt with enough water till the vegetables are tender.
While it is cooking take a cup of grated coconut and churn it in the mixie with a little bit of water and extract thick coconut milk.
Once the vegetables are soft add the pressure cooked black eyed peas + the coconut milk and cook on very low heat till it is absorbed a bit.
Switch off the heat add coconut oil + curry leaves. Mix well, check on salt and serve.

Tips:
Since pumpkin on its own has water content do not pour too much water to cook the vegetable.
Do not over [ pressure] cook the dried karamani or they will get smashed while mixing
While coconut oil is a must coconut milk is optional.
Always pour the raw coconut oil after you remove the dish from the heat for better flavor.

Thengai [ Coconut] Thogayal

Ingredients:

Grated Coconut – 1 cup
Red Chillies – 2 [depending on spice levels]
Salt – To taste
Tamarind – A small piece
Urad Dal – 1 1/2 tablespoons
Mustard – 1/2 tsp
Oil – 2 tsp

Method:

Heat oil in a pan. Add urad dal + red chillies and fry well till the urad dal turns golden brown. Drain & keep aside.Allow to cool.
In the left over oil add mustard and switch off the stove when it splutters.
Add grated coconut , salt, tamarind, salt along with the fried dal and chillies and grind to a smooth paste in a mixer, adding little water. The consistency should be semi – solid.
Add mustard as seasoning.
Thengai Thogayal can be mixed with plain rice or had as a side dish too.

Tips

Coconut is the main ingredient of this thogayal. Hence the tamarind or chilly flavors should not be over powering.
A little bit of the fried urad dal [ about 1/2 tsp] can be retained and used along with the mustard as seasoning.
A pinch of asafoetida may also be added while grinding to give that extra flavor.

Paruppu Thogayal

‘Thogayal’ in Tamil is equivalent to chutney, but in a more solid form and can be likened to a ‘spread’ that is so flavorful when eaten as is or when mixed with something or when had as a side dish. Down South thogayal is generally consumed mixed with plain rice and is one of the easiest dish to make, especially when you have unexpected guests landing up for lunch or dinner at short notice. There are enormous varieties of thogayals and its preparations offers tremendous scope for experimenting.

Given below is the recipe for Paruppu Thogayal – an all time favorite of most – which is considered a delicacy especially when mixed with piping hot rice accompanied by spicy ‘Vetha Kozhambu’. Paruppu in Tamil refers to ‘Dal’ and in this case – Toor Dal.It is an extremely simple yet tasty dish to make.

Paruppu Thogayal

Ingredients:
Toor Dal – 1 cup
Red Chillies – 2
Grated Coconut – 1/4th cup
Salt to taste.
Oil – 1 tlbs

Method:
In a pan heat enough oil and roast the Toor dal along with the chillies till the dal turns a lovely golden brown.
Allow to cool.
Add grated coconut & salt and grind the roasted Toor dal mix to a fine paste adding little bit of water to bring it to a semi solid form.
The thogayal is now ready to be served. It can be mixed with rice or as an accompaniment to dosai & adai.

Tips:

The flavor of the dish depends entirely on how the dal is roasted. Ensure it is roasted to a nice golden brown color.

The dominant flavor here should be of the dal . Hence all other ingredients including coconut & chillies should be mild.

TENDER COCONUT WATER – NATURAL NECTAR

Anything that is natural is far superior to something that is man made. Tender Coconut water is nature’s gift to us. It is pure, infection free, nutritious and a wonderful coolant in reducing body temperature and fighting heat related ailments.The health benefits it offers are amazing since it is rich in vitamins and minerals.

On the health front tender coconut water is good for :
Keeping the body cool
Getting rid of intestinal worms
Keeping urinary infections at bay
Refreshing tonic for the aged [ under doctor’s advice]
Electrolyte content aids in quick absorption of drugs by the body
Treatment of Cholera & Diarrhea
Helps pregnant women in finding relief from constipation and heart burn
Excellent for the skin – for intake as well as external application.
Helps malnourished children regain health.
Recommended by doctors for feeding infants to cure them of intestinal disturbances.

On the culinary front tender coconut water can be :

Best had in its original form.
Can be mixed with other fruit drinks like pineapple & orange
Can be had topped with scoops of ice cream.
The pulp of the tender coconut can be used in various recipes like puddings, salads, rice preparations, sauces & sweet dishes.

AKSHAYA TRITIYA – An auspicious day lost to commercial activity

Today Akshaya Tritiya is celebrated all over India. Akshaya Tritiya, an auspicious day in the Hindu and Jain calendar, has assumed importance of unimaginable proportions in recent times for all the wrong reasons. Akshaya in Sanskrit means that which is ‘ endless’ or ‘ does not recede’ It falls on the ” third Tithi (Lunar day) of Bright Half (Shukla Paksha) of the pan-Indian month of Vaishakha”. Jains consider it very important as the day of offering of food to Jain Monks who live a selfless life as ascetics, keeping nothing for themselves, not even cooking their food and consume it only when offered by others.

For the Hindus this day has a lot of religious connotations attached to it:

Said to be the birthday of Sage Parashurama, the 6th avatar of Lord Vishnu.
It is said that Lord Ganesha began writing the Mahabharata dictated by Sage Veda Vyas on this day.
It is said that the Treta Yuga began on this day.
River Ganges, considered to be the holiest of all the rivers, is said to have descended down to the earth on this day.
Goddess Annapoorna is said to have been born on this day.
Dharma Raja’s son Yudhistra is said to have received the Akshaya Patra on this auspicious day.
Kuchela is said to have visited Lord Krishna with just a handful of ‘ Aval’ on Akshaya Tritiya day.
It was on Akshaya Tritiya day that Lord Krishna saved Draupadi’s honor by granting unending yards of fabric.
Adi Sankara is believed to have recited the Kanaka Dhara Stotra on this auspicious day to bless a poor couple who had offered him the lone gooseberry that they had when he went to seek Bikshai. At the end of the recital it is said that the poor couple were showered with golden gooseberries.

In earlier times this day was generally observed by fasting , offering poojas and giving away food and other offerings to the needy. Since it falls during the hot summer months it is considered very auspicious to offer curd rice or buttermilk to give relief to people from the harsh heat.Anything started on this day was said to prosper and grow. Many farmers still have the habit of beginning to plough the fields on this day, praying for a good harvest.

However in recent times this concept of growth and infinite theory has been used as a marketing gimmick by merchants to sell their wares and gullible people have been made to believe that any purchase done on this day is likely to multiply. Gold and silver jewelers ably supported by half baked astrologers have brain washed people into believing that buying gold on this day will ensure prosperity. Thus what was celebrated as an auspicious day of ‘doing good ‘ has now turned into one of commercial value and activity.