And Sour Tastes The Curd

And sour tastes the curd

Radha Prathi April 30, 2016

If you take the trouble to turn your sour curd into spiced buttermilk of various flavours, it can make your summer into a humble, healthy, and hydrated season.

Come summer, curds have a tendency to turn sour, much to our chagrin. If one forgets to store them in the refrigerator, even for a few hours, curds go sour, ruining our meals. But there’s an upside to this. Sour curds are the perfect ingredient for raitas, lassis and chaaj. And who can resist spiced buttermilk (neer majjige) in this intense weather? When churned together with curry leaves, ginger and seasoned with salt, asafoetida, curds can become a meal in themselves. 

If you take the trouble to turn your sour curd into spiced buttermilk of various flavours, it can make your summer into a humble, healthy, and hydrated season. Let’s start with the basics. To make spiced buttermilk, churn the curd well with all kinds of flavouring substances. Though it is not wrong to add finely cut or chopped ingredients, it can be a good idea to grind all of them into a fine paste. This will help the ingredients to blend well in the fluid and reach your system effectively and will also enhance the taste, leaving very little residue. Before adding water (boiled and cooled to avoid possible water-borne infections), add salt and a pinch of sugar to the churned mixture.

Wondering what are the flavours you can try with the healthy drink? Well, green chillies and curry leaves are mandatory. All the other ingredients you can combine in varying measures to create a new flavour every time. Asafoetida, ginger, mint, dill, garlic cloves, the wet insides of a cucumber, sauteed onions or even a pinch of garam masala can be used to spice your buttermilk. Although it is customary to season neer majjige with mustard seeds and asafoetida, people who are reluctant to use oil can do away with the tradition. The variations will taste good with or without the seasoning.

Interestingly, sour curds can be put to different uses depending on its quantity:

* Lacing the freshly ground dosa batter with a cup of sour curds can enhance the taste and crispiness.

* The dough used to make chapatis, akki roti and besan roti will yield softer and tastier breads when sour curds is added while kneading the dough, with a pinch of salt.

*Rava dosas and idlis will turn out better when the ingredients are soaked in a combination of water, freshly set curds and sour curds, for at least an hour before they are prepared.

*While making upma, thick set curd can be added to the seasoned water when it has reached a boiling point, before adding the rava in it.

* If you happen to be making fryums at home, add a small bowl full of sour curds to about half a kg of the batter or dough to improve its flavour and colour.

* If you have found the choicest chillies in the market, buy half a kg. Wash dry and slit them at the tail end. Take about two litre of sour curds, salt it a trifle excessively and churn it well. Toss in the chillies, mix it well and keep the mixture in a closed container for a day and night. Spread out the ingredients on a try and dry them in the sun for a couple of days before storing them. The marinated chillies can be deep fried and used in place of store-bought pickles.

* If the curd has soured way too much, it may not be feasible to use it in your cooking. However, you can use it to wash your hair, especially if you want to get rid of dandruff. Or, it can be poured into your garden soil or in the potted plants. If you do not have soil around your home, pour the curd around the empty sink, spreading it evenly around. When you scrub the sink after half an hour, you will be surprised to find it refreshingly clean. So, do not fret the next time your curd turns sour. Now you know how to put it to good use!

Time Used is Time Gained

When we look at the diaries of successful people, we will find that apart from being focused and working hard and passionately on their projects, they will also display a very sensible way of managing time. They could be multitasking which is considered to be the optimal way of saving time.
True, but then, one cannot really multitask all the time due to several constraints. Even if one is compelled to do one task at a time, if one follows the prescribed procedure then, it will be easier to complete the work efficiently and well.  Many a time, people think that speed is the key to accomplishment. However, that need not be necessarily true. Haste often makes waste. Even when the job on hand is a little complicated or even a mundane one, we tend to make mistakes when speed overtakes us.
At such times, repetition of the activity will result in not only loss of time, but may also result in shabby work.
Remember, slow and steady wins the race. Yet, the main culprit who keeps us from success happens to be procrastination.
How often have we not caught ourselves putting off our assignments or errands for another time or day? Have we also not realised that some odd jobs around our homes and offices never get done after we put them on the back burner.
This pattern also holds good for our long-term objectives. Sometimes, we put them off till they become a distant dream. When we turn around wondering what really happened, we will find that our penchant for dillydallying has left us behind.
An instance from the Ramayana highlights the importance of time in the best possible way.
Rama, the crown prince of Ayodhya, was sentenced to an exile of fourteen years to redeem the promise made by his father King Dasharatha to his Queen Kaikeyi.
Kausalya, the mother of Rama, was extremely upset about the turn of events. She tried to dissuade her son from going away. When she realised that Rama had no intention of obeying his father, she offered to go along with him to the forest.
When the Ikshavaku prince pointed out that her place was with Dasharatha, she came up with another caveat.
She could not possibly send his new bride princess Sita away with him. Rama patiently explained Sita’s stance on the matter. When Kausalya broke down inconsolably and uncontrollably, Rama told her gently but firmly that he wanted to leave for the forest immediately because for him time used was equivalent to time gained. He could return earlier if he left without procrastination!


Weak Minds, Emotional Exploitation

The qualities of introspection, reflection, retrospection, soul-searching are commendable traits in man. In fact, these characteristics enhance the emotional and spiritual quotient in us. However, some people wallow in self-doubt and confusion due to insecurity and lack of self-confidence. Such people lose clarity and get befuddled and eventually end up as losers.

A story from the Panchatantra outlines how people without conviction can get carried away and meet failure, which can be avoided effectively. A certain Brahmin called Mishra Sharma was walking through a forest carrying a goat on his shoulders. Three hooligans observed him. They realised that the Brahmin was apprehensive about walking alone in the forest with his treasure. They sized up Sharma’s psyche as they saw him muttering away to himself. They decided to play a psychological trick on the poor man and gain from his confusion.

Accordingly, one by one, they waylaid him at different intervals of time along the way. The first thug who approached Sharma asked, “Why are you carrying a dog on your shoulders?” The Brahmin was miffed. He shed light on the latter’s doubt rather gingerly and carried on. A little while later, the second ruffian accosted Sharma, he questioned, “Why are you carrying a calf on your shoulders?” Sha-rma, who was considerably shaken by now, quavered in reply. However, when the third hooligan enquired about the donkey he was carrying, the poor man shrieked with fear. He dropped the animal and ran for his life. The rogues emerged gleefully from the foliage and picked up the abandoned creature.

The naïve tend to become gullible because they are not able to summon their presence of mind when in crisis. Hence it is no wonder that they become willing scapegoats. The various chit fund scams, astrological deceptions, religious rackets, political pretences, human and drug trafficking, entrepreneurial rip-offs, among other such swindles that are holding our world to ransom, are a direct result of exploitation of the we-ak-minded. A little awareness, alertness and a good bit of faith in ourselves can stand us in good stead and cleanse the world of dupes in the long run.

Three Wheeler Tales

Auto fares have increased, and so has the attitude of those who drive these haloed three-wheelers. The ‘autodom’ – if we may call it so – has a law unto itself! Since I am a regular patron of these vehicles, I can self righteously profess to have seen them all – the good, the bad and the ugly!

Since, bad and ugly have received maximum media coverage, I think I will concentrate on the good Samaritans of this kingdom who form the minority – the drivers who ply children to schools belong to this group. If we choose to overlook the greedy ones who stuff their autos with uniformed brats, the remaining constitute to my theme.

They are heroes who metamorphose into auto man, auto uncle, kaka, mama or thatha and share a wonderful equation with the children they commute. A sense of responsibility, coupled with gestures of concern and generosity, define most of these men who are trusted with the apples of several people’s eyes.

I have been privy to the conversations of indulging parents who have included the auto drivers of their children into their extended families. I have been regaled with instances of these men in various shades of khaki who always checked whether the children had their badges, ties and belts on before they got on to the auto.

They are also the types who ensure that the lunch boxes of their little commuters have been polished off on their way back home.

Some would gift a pen or a bar of chocolate to the child who got a full score in mathematics, and one driver would fasten two balloons on his vehicle whenever it was some child’s birthday and while others would employ theatrics while narrating stories to the kids.

I know of a working couple who pursue their careers without being weighed down by insecurities about their wards because their auto driver not only ferries their wards but also babysits them till one of the parents arrives home.

As for the children, they seem to worship their auto uncle, sometimes much more than their own uncles. These knights who drive the three-wheelers have proven that several traits of humanitarian values can most definitely co-exist with commercial gains in the contemporary urban society sans animosity or acrimony.

That is the story of “the good” in a nutshell. As for the bad and ugly, the space in the middle will not do justice to the subject – I might as well write a theses and earn my doctorate!

Key in Integrity for Better Results

The next time we catch ourselves on a typical “Why me?” mode, it will do us well to remember that we and we alone are the architects of our destiny. The little joys and sorrows that envelop us from time to time find their roots in our doings.

A story from the Vishnu Purana makes this point abundantly clear. Maha Vishnu quelled the pride and sovereignty of the Asura king Mahabali by measuring out the three paces of land across the heavens, earth and the head of the Asura king with his giant footsteps. Nevertheless, the lord was pleased with the truthfulness of Bali. He blessed him with the position of Indra, but not before the king paid for his misplaced pride.

Hence at the end of Vaamana Avatar, Maha Vishnu blessed Bali to be the uncontested ruler of the Asuras in Suthala, the nether region. The lord also identified the king to receive his energy from the negative activities of the people on earth. Bali would get the vibrations of all the gifts given to undeserving Brahmins during death ceremonies.

He would receive the fruits of studies of students who manage to skirt around the fringes of knowledge without following the associated disciplines. He would get the fruits of Yajnas performed without giving dakshina or the appropriate fee to the master of the ceremonies. The benefits of Homa performed without the presence of Ritwijas or the knowledgeable souls would reach Bali. The consequence of gifts given without earnestness would descend on the king. The offerings made to the gods without culture and faith would add to Bali’s kitty.

When one observes the inventory of lackluster responsibilities of Bali, it is easy to see that the lord disapproves of any action that is devoid of earnestness, discipline and Truth. Nevertheless the activity would be given some credit. Maha Vishnu made Bali realise that every activity would be reckoned with. The Asura king accepted the lord’s verdict unquestioningly, because he understood that he was being used as an instrument to cleanse the earth of mental and spiritual impurities. His new role also emphasised on the significance of integrity in any activity that is undertaken. It can never be too late for us to observe, evaluate and amend our actions accordingly.

Of Festive Cheer And New Hope

FRESH START: Flowers are, inarguably, among the best decor elements in a home.

Mark the first day of the New Year by giving your home a fresh makeover with floral arrangements, intricate toranas and artful decor elements. Radha Prathi tells you how

Can you imagine a world without festivals? Or a home without celebrations? There would be no home decoration tasks, no meals to feast upon and no bonding opportunities. Decor-wise, festivals offer a good excuse for some spring cleaning and bringing in new elements to your home. Every abode gets a moderate, if not grand, makeover and a new lease of life. The old goes out and makes way for the new. By doing away with clutter, we create a perfect space for happiness and serenity.

Today, as we celebrate Ugadi, it’s good to remember why, traditionally, homes have been spotlessly dusted, scrubbed, cleaned and spruced up to welcome the New Year. The ornate rangoli at every doorstep, beautiful toranas of lush green mango and neem leaves, the floral designs — all represent the festive spirit in its truest sense.

The joy of sharing

So, you have been busy with work and family responsibilities, and don’t have much time to spruce up your home for the much-awaited festival? Don’t worry. You don’t need to bring down the walls or go shopping for the latest decor trends. All you really need is the some basic essentials and your home is ready to welcome the new year in style!

The most important aspect of any decor makeover is decluttering. Don’t take up the mammoth task on yourself; involve your family members too. Make every family member responsible for their own stuff. Every member should take a realistic stock of his or her belongings and take a firm decision on what should stay and what should go. There is really no point in holding on to old clothes, toys, knick knacks, shoes or books that one has outgrown. Old curtains, bedspreads, electronic appliances, luggage items, cutlery items, containers et al. No matter what the article, please remember that there are many people out there who will be very happy to use your hand-me-downs.

So, just give them away to deserving individuals or charitable organisations.

Make a master timetable and allocate responsibilities of dusting, washing and cleaning to all your family members. Draw a list of things that can be recycled or need to be tailored, repaired, or are in want of new batteries, and delegate responsibilities. If you do stick to the schedule today, then be rest assured that your home will always be squeaky clean and tastefully done through the year.

Then comes the decoration aspect. If you find it cumbersome to draw a fresh rangoli outside your home every day, but at the same time hate the idea of using stickers, it’s a good alternative to draw your favourite design with a chalk and paint along the lines with colourful acrylic paints of your choice. This way, your home will always sport a traditional look throughout the year.

How about welcoming your guests with a big ‘Happy Ugadi’ sign written in colourful chalk at the entrance of your home? You can also do the same in your balcony, porch or living room. Get the kids to place flowers and mango leaves around the writing. This way, you will not only give a flowery welcome to the year, but also offer the young ones a wonderful opportunity to learn about their culture and traditions. In the evening, you can transform the same setup with some tea-light candles or diyas. Nothing like some beautiful lights to bring in the festive cheer!

Another idea is to look through your cupboards for old photo albums and select pictures that were taken during Ugadi and make a collage. This exercise will not only trigger a trip down memory lane, but also serve as a conversation starter when you have visitors at home during this festive season.

Saying it with flowers

Flowers are, inarguably, among the best decor elements one could ask for in a home. So, arrange some seasonal flowers in beautiful shapes in different corners of your home. Alternately, you could fill large terracotta or brass bowls with water, add a drop of rose essence, essential oil or eau de cologne and throw in some flower petals. Add some floating candles for instant illumination.

Every festival is marked with delicious and lavish meals. But why should only one person slog in the kitchen? This year, you could use this opportunity to bring your entire family together for ‘Project Ugadi Cooking’. Assign different tasks to all family members and enjoy the bonding that is sure to ensue.

One of the best things you can do this New Year is decide to grow a green thumb. Even if you have some potted plants in and around your home, there’s every reason to get some more this Ugadi. In case you are not sure how to go about it, read up on the Internet or consult your neighbourhood nursery. A green patch around your home will always add to its aesthetic appeal. And a greener world is the need of the hour.

It’s time to welcome the New Year with renewed hope in your heart and festive ambience at home. Happy Ugadi!