Saturday, August 29, 2015

Reminiscing Hyderbabad visit.......

At Hyderaad...in 2008...
Hyderabadi vegetarian meal..

An elephant topiary in from of Safdarjung museum...

Pearl jewelries..

At Charminar...........

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Me in tribal costumes...

I don't know if I am game for it anymore, but years back while I visited different parts of India...I always made it a point to try their traditional costumes..
Like this Bhutia costume in Sikkim...



Saturday, August 8, 2015

Hand-crafted flower vase......

Are not these multi-colored rose buds made of fabric scraps lovely. The sturdy twigs are collected from the orange trees, dried and painted with green acrylic color. The earthen pot is also painted artistically with acrylic colors. I am happy with the fruitful  result of aesthetic assembling all the discarded stuffs.

Wild foods@India.......

An extremely delicious, sweet-tart, wild fruit, obtained annually, during rainy season, in our village market. The tribals selled bamboo basketfuls of these delicious fruits, which I always insisted to buy, as a kid. Underneath the thick, green peel and hard pericarp, was lodged the edible soft, flesh-colored pulp. The raw fruits were tough to break and too sour to eat; but, the mature, ripe ones were too tasty to describe in words. Not to forget the appetizing aroma. Even when I left home for hostel, my mother made it a point to buy some and keep in the refrigerator, for me to come in the holidays and enjoy. I am not sure, whether these trees exist anymore in the local forests or have been hacked for firewood and timber. It's pity, such endemic tropical fruits can not find their way to bigger markets.

This granular stuff is shredded and semi-dehydrated tender bamboo shoots. It is considered an annual delicacy, relished as a side-dish, in my village in India. The local tribal women cut the newly sprouted bamboo, laboriously chop it into minute cubes, subject to sun drying to eliminate fungal growth and sell when it is semi-dried and start emanating a characteristic aroma. My mother purchases the stuff and use as a garnishing ingredient for many preparations. Far far away now, i can just reminisce the seasoned, sour bamboo taste.

Many of you may not be aware that the bitter neem tree flowers can be consumed...yes, in certain parts of India, during the spring bloom, the fragrant flowers are cooked into quite a delicious recipe...adding tangy tomato, tamarind or raw mango subdue the bitterness of the flowers and render it edible....though, not regularly, for a few times a year, I am all game to try this preparation.......

These are edible fungi, the truffles (not quite mushrooms). These globose fungi sprout underneath the ground, on first spell of monsoon rain (in June-July) in India. The tribal women hunt these much-in-demand forest products (a highly laborious job) and sell in the local market. I absolutely relish the delicacy prepared by my mother. These umami-flavoured, gustatory delights are highly prized in culinary world. As per consumer demand, these expensive fungi have even found use in pickle, sauce, cheese and beverages.

Foods@India......

Some vegetables and other ingredients........ubiquitous to Indian kitchen...

Freshly harvested groundnuts (Arachis hypogaea) on a bamboo winnow. I am a sucker of this food. When i was kid, we used to grow groundnuts in our backyard. I would enjoy the whole process of the wet earth getting ploughed, seeded and soon covered with canopies of oval leaves. I would dig a plant once in a while to check whether the pods have appeared and if so, whether matured enough to eat. Then once day, my parents would decide, the crop is ready for harvesting. I would join the farmers in digging the plants. The heady smell of freshly-dug groundnuts instantly takes me to a journey down the memory lane. The piles of  plants would be allowed to dry enough before threshing. Then the pods would be collected and sun-dried for days before being kept in storage. I loved munching on the  raw, fried, boiled nuts or relishing it cooked with vegetables. We no more grow it in our backyard, as the soil has gone barren due to heavy erosion each monsoon and the serious lack of farmers. We rely on the local market for our supply of these delicacy, which gets scantier each year. Any way, as long as these things pour in my house, I would feel, the earth is still fertile..

Mustard greens (Brassica juncea) is a storehouse of phytonutrients with multi-pronged health benefits, apart from being a regular delicacy. I always loved the simple, steamed recipe of these fresh, green, curly leaves with tiny golden flowers....

This bunch of chlorophyll-rich, oval leaves is Moringa oleifera. This tree, commonly known as 'drumstick', grows luxuriantly in the mineral-rich soil of India. Commonly grown in every household, this tree is considered a source of cheap but nutritious vegetable. The drumstick shaped slender fruits are relished as fry, curry and pickles. I am a huge fan of the simple but delicious preparation with the green leaves. When the fragrant blossoms appear, they are also made into delectable recipes. Overall, it is a very popular vegetable in my native area....


Pumpkin stalks.....make tasty dishes...

Banana flower........

Turmeric...

Onions....

Straw mushroom (Volvariella volvacea), the tastiest mushroom i have ever consumed.  After the rain, the fruiting bodies sprout in the rotten straw piles, in our backyard. I wonder, from where do the spores come year after year. For me, it was sort of an achievement to discover a black, dome-shaped head peeping from the rotten straws. Soon many fruit bodies with conspicuous stipes and gilled umbrellas covered the piles. I can't stop wondering, how the rotten mass gives rise to such a gustatory delight. May be, much like the muddy pond generating lovely lotus and lilies, I reason with myself. Though I have keen interest and knowledge in mycology, I can not resist giving in to such lame thoughts. Though a late bird, as a kid, just for excitement of picking the mushrooms, I used to get up early. Till now, I tend to salivate at the thought of this delectable dish, though I do not get it here in California. I have to manage with it's cousin, the button mushrooms.:)

Dried fish.......

Dried shrimps..........

Blazing flame of the forest............

Spring in India is brief, passes before you blink. 
In my village, the vernal season is heralded by the blazing colors of flame of the forest (Butea monosperma).The brilliant orange-hued blossoms, also called palash or dhak transform the landscape with its aesthetic appeal. 


I love watching at the rows of thickly abloom shrubs and the carpet of petals lining the rustic road. My village falling under the eroded,  mineral-rich Chota Nagpur plateau is ideal for luxurious growth of these shrubs. In my childhood, we used to play Holi (the festival of color) using the  water boiled petal extract as dye,  the eco-friendly way. :). And I loved to be served my lunch on the plate made of its broad, rounded, coarse, deep-green leaves. Rural folks used the brush made of its roots for white-washing. Is not this picture graced with the lovely blossoms and the browsing goat  heart-warming?

Puffed rice salad.....

Puffed rice salad or spicy bhelpuri or jhal-muri..call it whatever..this is a favourite tea time snacks for  many Indians, including me. The balanced mixture of crisp, puffed rice, spicy namkeen, shredded tomatoes and onions, green chilli, sprouted grams, a piece of pickle, garnished with raw mustard oil, lemon juice and coriander leaves makes a  savoury. Not only this medley palatable, healthy as well. I grew fed on this snacks years after years. A time came when I was annoyed to have the same combo regularly. But, when I went for higher studies to far-away places and now when I live abroad,  miss this childhood delicacy. With globalization, I can get all ingredients here and toss the same, but still it feels something is missing. May be the taste and crunchiness of home-prepared puffed rice or most probably, mother's touch.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Visiting Eastern Odisha..........

Geographically, Eastern part of Odisha is completely different than Western part...
Former is coastal, while the latter is mineral-rich plateau...
While I hail from the Western, my spouse is from the Eastern..so I get to see both parts...here are some interesting pictures from Eastern region......

The world-renowned Sun temple in Konark.... This 13th Century monument, also called 'Black Pagoda' is declared a world heritage site and its a strong contender in the Seven Wonders of the Wold contest. Ravaged with time, the intricate stone sculptures are fast deteriorating. Renovation work is going on towards preservation of this magnificent temple. 





This enormous white-domed, architectural wonder, built on the Dhauli Hills, by the river Daya is 'Shanti Stupa'. This peace pagoda, now a major Buddhist heritage center was erected after the historical Kalinga War. The dome houses huge Buddha statues and Ashokan rock edicts. This hill top, a serene place overlooking the sprawling Bhubaneswar city, is ideal for 
contemplative relaxation. This renowned Stupa is barely few miles from my in-laws place, so I look forward to relax in its peaceful ambiance again and again.

A black faced, long-tailed langur monkey enjoying  guavas, perched on the tree, in my in-laws orchard. These species of monkeys inhabit the nearby forests and  their troops often attack the orchards. The villagers have a tough time warding off these nuisance-causing primates. These monkeys not only eat most of  the guavas, mangoes, bananas and papayas, but also, vandalize the orchards by jumping from trees to trees. I clicked this fearless one, having a feast of the crisp guavas, I was eyeing for days.

Coconut palm fringed horizon. This  fabulous picture was taken from the terrace of my in-laws place near Bhubaneswar, India. The sandy and salty soil and tropical climate of this coastal area is suitable for  thriving growth of these monocots. Most of the houses have at least few of these palms. Some families even earn their livelihood by selling the edible fruits. Apart from the  fruits, the shells, coirs and fronds are also useful. The coir is crafted into aesthetic pieces, ropes and doormats. The fronds are used for roof thatching and as cooking fuel. After the long sultry, summer afternoons,  listening to the gentle swaying of the palms in the cool evening breeze, have a tranquilizing effect on both body and mind.

One of the most enchanting road, I would love to hit again. This is the marine drive road joining Puri and Konark, two tourism hot spots of Orissa, India. As you ride along the almost desolate road, flanked by casuarina trees, inhaling the fragrant cool breeze, you can't help wishing the road, not to end. Last March I discovered this blissful journey while visiting the golden temple ....

Puri beach.........
We visited it in the night too...I insisted to have some fried fish from a vendor...
Delicious it was, though not the healthiest.....

Ramachandi........

Tranquil place it was...me and husband spent some relaxed time...and some tender coconut water..

if I visit it ever, I would like to spend a little longer here......

IIT Guwahati memories........

A densely foggy, windy day in IIT Guwahati campus...a veil of moisture has concealed the beautiful hillocks. On such  grey, drab weather days, I loved to sit on the terrace with a cup of hot cardamom tea and look at the serene dreamy landscape.

One of the many lakes dotting the campus..

It was a treat to go for morning jog around the locust tree-lined lake...



A serene dawn....the shisham tree on the bank and the migratory birds further accentuate the glorious view....  
The hillock draped in a veil of heavy fog...

A roadside shrine under a giant fig tree...........
.
It was a snap from the local fish market in the outskirts of the IITGcampus... It was my first fish market experience...  I had gone to the filthy, noisy, smelly market to fetch some fish for dinner. We endured the foul stench for a pretty half an hour, as we haggled for the price, insisted for correct weighing and ordered the proper cleaning of the scales and innards and chopping the right size. Experience of a different type! Well, we forgot the pain sustained, as we relished the delicious fish curry with hot rice.

Brahmaputra........many faces.......

This trans-boundary, mighty river originating from the glaciers of Tibet meanders through eastern part of India and forms delta in Bangladesh. The Brahmaputra has acquired different names in different regions, Tsangpo, Padma and Meghna. It sustains life in North East India, also unleashes catastrophes in the form of massive floods. I feel lucky to have lived in the Brahmaputra valley for three beautiful years while pursuing my PhD from IIT Guwahati. I have roamed on the banks, sailed on the swelling river and landed on a scenic island. Lots of cherishable memories of this River are safely treasured in my heart.

Aerial view of the magnificent Brahmaputra River and its network of tributaries Kameng, Dibang, Lohit, Dhansiri, Sbanshiri, Manas and Kapili. Aboard the plane, i was thrilled to witness the seer enormity of the Brahmaputra.

A panoramic view of sun setting behind the mountains, with its faint crimson rays reflecting on the Brahmaputra. The scattered cumulus clouds and the silhouette of trees, just accentuating the magnificent view. This picture was taken from a Guwahati city-bound bus, on a winter evening. It has been years, i have left Guwahati, but the incredible sunscape is etched in my memory.

View from the iconic Saraighat bridge..........

Muddy, swirling water in monsoon....

Splendid sunset............

Sparkling, mirror-smooth river..........

Swollen Brahmaputra after the rains. The peeping rays of  sun, blanketed under the layers of stratocumulus clouds, lends a magical aura to the  grey sky and the rippling water. I am glad to capture the panoramic crepuscular rays.

A window view of azure sky peppered with abundant white, puffy cumulus clouds on a sunny day. The floating clouds seemed sailing past the window as the liner  pierced through them. The  shadows of these cottony mass were well visible over the sprawling Brahmaputra valleys, creating a spectacular sight.


Monsoon makes the mighty Brahmaputra River into a monster. The lifeline of North East India turns hostile and ravages the valley by unleashing floods. On such a cloudy day in rainy season, we had a steamer trip to the scenic Peacock Island in the river. The swelling river was muddy due to the landslides  and mountain runoff upstream. The swirling water was creating many vortices. It was a scary but hugely thrilling experience.

Enjoying a calm, serene evening on the bank of Brahmaputra River near the 18th century Aswaklanta Temple. It was Vijaya dashami (Durga Puja) day and colorful fireworks were going off on the opposite bank to celebrate the idol immersion ceremony. The mighty river was less vicious yet full, floods had subsided and  clumps of water hyacinths were floating downstream. The old, dilapidated boats of the local fishermen were docked along the rocky bank. The monsoon had draped the surroundings with lush greenery, especially the dense thickets of ferns. It was a memorable evening in this peaceful retreat, nestled in the  lap of nature.


Umananda is an island in Brahmaputra river...
 I had got couple of opportunity to visit this island....
Taking a ferry ride across the mighty river and landing on the island, worshiping in the Shiva temple and roaming around the verdant landmass was wonderful....
The sunset was amazing...framed by the silhouette of  bare deciduous trees and a date palm..


Swollen river in rainy season...

Ferry waiting for its last trip of the day...







Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...