31 January 2012

Lemongrass flowers

One of the first things I started to grow was lemongrass, because a friend had introduced me to the joys of having it in tea. With time, the plant has grown and it's aromatic stalk has been a great addition to soups, salads and tea. This plant was also my first success as a gardener and I was pleased as a punch when I was asked to provide stalks as a starter for other people. One such stalk went to my friend A. Almost a year later, A reported that her plant had flowers. I scoffed and sneered. For good measure I also made unpleasant remarks about her eyesight. Not to be undermined, A sent me a picture of the plant, and later when I visited her home, ensured that I got visual confirmation. Now I was annoyed - why hadn't my plant done this? To further aggravate me emotionally, my colleague in Office, who got his stalk from me, reported that his was starting to flower too. But a few weeks later, my plant started to put out long shoots as well and lo, they turned into flowers. Aren't they beautiful? I have never seen this happen to a lemongrass before and find them delightful. I now have to figure out how to save seeds from this crop. But meanwhile, I am enjoying the lemongrass gone wild.

29 January 2012

Baked papdi with Ragi

I have been slowly getting through the sea of boxes, although much of our guest bedroom continues to be cardboard-land. Since N and I had fully operational kitchens almost every utensil and grocery staple is duplicated so finding space in the kitchen for all our things have been an issue. During the reorganization I stumbled on products which we bought with much enthusiasm since it was healthy. One such product was the Ragi Dosa mix. My typical ragi dosa is merely ragi powder thrown into dosa batter but this was one of those packet contraptions that promises you heaven and delivers NH7. So, here's my attempt at recasting the product into something else.

1/2 cup ragi dosa mix*
1/4 cup whole wheat flour^
1/4 cup bleached wheat flour (Maida)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp Ajwain seeds
1/4 tsp chilli powder
Salt to taste
Water for mixing the dough.

Mix all ingredients into a slightly wet dough. Knead well and set aside for 20mins under hydration.

Roll out dough into a thickness slightly more than a roti. Cut out circles. I used the lid of a jar. Place in a slightly greased tray. Poke holes into the papdi with a fork or else it will fluff up in the oven.

Set oven to 175oC.
Place papdi tray in heated oven. After 6 minutes flip the papdi. You can spray some more oil on the papdi, or on your finger and rub gently onto each papdi. I made one lot without oiling at all and it turned out OK.
Bake the flipped papdi for another 6 minutes. The surface of the papdi should be browned by now.
Remove and cool.
Store in air-tight jar.

The papdi were crisp but because I used the dosa batter mix which had undefined levels of methi, salt and spices so the final taste is a bit off. It's spicy but the hing seems to have developed a life of its own when baked, and is the predominant taste and smell of the papdi. I suspect the 75% non-madia and 25% maida ratio works well and in future will use the whole grain flour of various proportions in this mix.

* This is what was written on the packet I used: 52% Ragi, 26% atta, 7% urad, 5% chana, 5% rice, Methi, salt, spices - I detected hing
^ I added the flour we typically use for making rotis which at the moment has about 1/4th Ragi, 1/4th Bajra and 1/2 whole wheat. 

25 January 2012

New look

It isn't often that you have hours to kill on design elements of the blog. So when I took a picture I liked I thought it would be a good idea to rejig my space.

The last picture of the pansy was taken on a trip to Chail (near Shimla) on vacation in March 2010. It was my first vacation alone and pleasantly, I was neither bored nor wanting of company. Instead, I had all the time in the world to absorb nature. What looked like yellow flecks from a distance turned out to the pansies and I was thoroughly amused how impish they looked.

In a similar frame of mind, I was walking home from IISc and looked up to see a beautiful tree against a flawless baby blue sky. I took this picture from my new phone and I was not pleased with the effect of sunlight - but hey, that just might by my poor picture taking skills. When I came home I started to play with the picture, which eventually turned into a marathon session to change the look of my blog. A few codes later, this is the look. I am not entirely satisfied, but I think it's time I unglued my ass from the chair.