Monday, December 29, 2008

Weekend Late Night Movie

Last night I watched this 1953 French Classic The Wages of Fear ( Salaire de la peur,Le) directed by Henri-Georges Cloutzot. This movie is based on a novel by George Arnaud. This story is set in a town called Las Piedras in South America.Southern Oil Company (SOC) enlists four tough drifters for a high paying suicide mission. The mission involves transporting nitroglycerin an explosive liquid across a rough terrain, to one of the SOC oil fields to quell the fire.Tension and rivalry quickly develops between the foursome, magnified by the unforgiving heat, the lure of the filthy lucre and the rough and rocky roads where the slightest jolt can result in agonising death. This movie is really thrilling especially when the drivers have to navigate around the obstacles. But it ends in a tragic way, I would have wanted to see a happy ending. The movie stars Yves Montand,Charles Vanel,Vera Clouzot,William Tubbs, Folco Lulli and Peter Van Eyck.The movie has won many awards see the list below.

Palme d'OR,Cannes-Grand Prize of the festival
Golden Bear,Berlin-Henri-Georges Cloutzot
BAFTA award-Best Film from any Source

ANTZ carrying a paddy flake

Last weekend before 2009

Santa at MGM resort on Sat 27/12/08

M2 and me went out with a couple of friends on Sat.We first dropped by at Citicentre at Mylapore for some "pet pooja" all of us had cold coffee and I had slimmers sandwich from Barista.We then headed off to MGM beach resort which is situated on the East Coast Road Muttukadu. We wanted to stop by at Muttukadu for boating but it was too crowded.We all hit the beach at once. Had a good time watching the mussels dig into the sand. Some of them even went on a pony ride.Soon we were hungry and we opted for the buffet at Sea Crest restaurant.We sat inside the air conditioned space.They had crispy fried vegatables,soup, dum aloo, channa masala,fried rice,noodles,thengai sadam,rasam, and curd rice.I liked only the channa masala in the vegetarian section.In the desert section they has rasgullas,jalebis,mysore pak, payasam,cake and ice cream with fruits.M2 liked the mysore pak On the whole the buffet spread was no great shakes, at least for the vegetarians.It happened to be Hanuman Jayanthi on the 27th, but I could not make it to a temple because of this programme.

We attended a birthday bash of M2's friend's kid Sid. This was held at Marry Brown Anna Nagar. It was a fun place for the kids and grown ups. The vegetarian food was great. My pack consisted of a vegetarian burger with cheese,french fries, potato wedges and cake.We washed it down with mrinda and for dessert we had a cup of ice cream . I would recommend this place if you want to hold a small b'day party for your child. One of the big attractions there was the table football also known as foosball. Both the adults and the kids had a good time playing it.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Plum Cake and Wine for Xmas

M2 and me steeped out on Christmas day to check out deals of the day at consumer durable shops. But the teeming traffic deterred us instead we decided to eat out. First we went to Quality Inn Aruna at Sterling road Nugambakkam. We had to wait for a long time to park our vehicle, so we decided against going inside. But we spotted Malayalam actor Rahman waiting for his car.He seems very well preserved.!! Next we ventured into Harrisons Hotel. We first stopped at their vegetarian restaurant Eden,which was full. Next we went to Meenam, true to its name it was reeking of meen(fish). We finally settled for Dynasty a Chinese restuarant. We ordered for a bottle of Sula wine and baby corn for starters. The baby corn was extremely spicy and peppery hot. After eating it M2 exclaimed "there is nothing baby about the baby corn"!!. M2 wanted to order American chopsuey but I was not for fried noodles in sauce.Instead I ordered for soft vegetarian noodles with shredded vegetables. For the side dish we ordered Sweet and Sour vegetables. This side dish was a tad too sweet. On the whole it was ok experience.

A little about the wine. Sula Vineyard is a premium wine company from India. We chose red wine and we got to taste the Satori Merlot. It describes itself as "a balanced, round structure with a silky mouth feel and lingering finish. Its soft, fruity style with a hint of spice invites early enjoyment and marries perfectly with a wide variety of foods. Pair with tomato-based pasta dishes and most red meat dishes. Serve lightly chilled, at 12-15°C." To go with Indian dishes go for Madera Red. Satori means sudden enlightenment.The artist Jaideep Mehrotra has painted the wine label. It even has the mandatory green dot signifying 100% vegetarian.We paid Rs1250 including VAT.
Finally for dessert we had plum cake from Hot Breads at Anna Nagar.

The Tree of Life and the Seasons.

This is an amazing tree opposite my apartment. This tree is like a barometre for the current season. And this is a Winter pic in Chennai.Talking about seasons I saw this movie called "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring" a 2003 Korean movie directed by Kim Ki-duk.Its about a Buddhist monastery floating on a lake in a pristine valley. The location is simple awesome. The story tracks the life of a young monk through the seasons of his life from childhood to old age.This movie has won several awards.
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Friday morning pooja and Kolam at my Dad's

This Ganesha has been with us since i was a little kid.And he remains the most worshipped deity in our family.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Lord Shiva Temple Visit for Dec 24 Pradosham

Yesterday I visited Parashurama Lingeshwarar at Ayyanavaram for Pradosham. The temple was teeming with crowds. Parashuramar is supposed to have prayed here for expiating his sin of beheading his mother. The sthala vrisham was simply gorgeous. Both the trees that is the peepal tree and the neem were growing together. There were a number of roosters. The temple also houses three peacocks. My mom lit a ghee lamp to appease Lord Shiva.There is a belief that the creator of the Universe Lord Brahma (ayan) took a dip in the temple pond and worshipped the Lord here.Hence this area is called ayyanavaram close to anna nagar.This is also an ancient temple, a thousand year old one at that.
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Melt in the mouth Idlis

This morning I had yummy soft idlis from Murugan idli kadai. They have the best idlis in town.I also love their chakara pongal.

Visit for more details.
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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Pradosham 24-Dec-2008

Triodashi Starts on: WEDNESDAY 24-DEC-08 00.33 A.M. Ends on 25-DEC-08 02.23 P.M.Will be visiting a shiva temple details in a later post.

Spice Splash

This morning my spice box slipped out of my hands and its precious contents spilled out.Coming to the topic of food, last night we ate out with a couple of M2's friends.We went to Zameendar at Anna Nagar,Shanti Colony. The menu had a selection of Chettinad, Hyderabadi, Andhra and Tandoori food. Our friends ordered a lot of non-vegetarian andhra food like Nellore Mutton Biryani etc. We settled for Kal dosai and appam with chutney. M2 does not like poondu(garlic) at all. But to my surprise when one of his pal ordered for poondu kuzhambu he just ate it without protesting!!. The interiors were well done up.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I came across this interesting way of wishing Grateful Dead fans for Christmas at Happy Holidays and Merry Xmas to everybody.

Stress relief chat!!

M2 was highly stressed because of his laptop malfunction and he asked me not to cook. We decided to go out for a spin. M2 unwinds in one of the most accessible ways. He gulps down yummy pani puri and has a teekha bhel puri.We frequent this nook called Shri Keshav chat.He serves sandwiches,chat,vada pav,corn augratin etc. Its located at Harleys road at Kilpauk.The chat is yummy. He even has innovative murukku sandwich. Its a quick fix solution for a hunger pang. I always ask for a little less karam in my chats. M2 was back to his singing dancing self after the pani puri induced spice high.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Weekend Exploits food,books and movies

M2 and me usually eat out during the weekend. This Friday as usual we decided to eat out. We stopped by at Bombay Blue with a tag line which goes" Mumbai ka dil, Duniya Ka taste".This is located at college road in Chennai. For starters this isn't a pure vegetarian restaurant, anyways we decided to try our luck. We ordered the Chef's vegetarian tandoori platter.The platter had the usual tandoori cauliflower,paneer,mushroom,bean curd etc. M2 is a pure vegetarian and has an incredible sense of taste and smell. He usually does not eat mushrooms. This time around he promptly popped the mushroom in his mouth. Soon he started squirming his face.It wasn't because of the mushroom per se but he could distinctively smell non-vegetarian in it.I don't know how. The mushroom and the potato tandoor did taste a little funny.We immediately decided to leave the place.M2 will never visit this place again.

Next we went to New Yorker at Nugambakkam.We ordered a starter which had onion rings, corn cheese balls and besan cutlet. This was ok but the besan cutlet was under cooked. Next we ordered a capsicum pizza. Unfortunately for us the pizza base was a little charred and I did not like the pizza very much( this is coming from a pizza lover). On the whole our Friday eat out was jinxed. There are certainly other nice things to eat at New Yorker. We have to choose wisely next time.

In the evening we went to Citi Centre. We hoped to buy some DVDs from Landmark instead I picked up some books like Thus Spake Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche and a bird encyclopedia.We ate at Sangeetha Desi Mane. The food was good. We ordered aloo chat,special sambar rice, masala rawa dosai and kadubu with mangalorean sambar. The kadubu was very filling.We got home and watched Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile.M2 wanted to watch this because he wanted to see Egypt.The movie won an Oscar for best costume design in 1979.

I made some yummy parangikai( yellow pumpkin) sambar. We watched another movie Europa Europa directed by Agnieszka Holland. This is based on a true story of Solomon Perel a Jewish, who survives by posing as a German during World War 2.It won a Golden Globe, for the Best Foreign Film in 1992 .After this we went to Sweet Chariot at Ispahani Centre. We ordered for strawberry cheese cake and black forest cake. No great shakes though!.We ended the weekend revelry with maggie noodles. Thanx M2 for a great weekend.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Jackfruit Pancake

Recipe Source:U.B.Rajalakshmi

I made this Udupi delicacy on karthigai day. In our custom we first make an offering of food like sweets to the Gods before we partake it. The food is purified because of this offering.We then consume it as prasad.In a sense its like thanks giving. Udupi is the abode of Lord Sri Krishna. Since he resides there as a child the priests make wonderful sweets as offering to the Lord who partakes it through his eyes. Udupi is also known for its culinary prowess. All the wonderful recipes originated from there. Lord Krishna's abode is also the abode of happiness and good food!!.

one and a half cup raw rice
15 jack fruit pods(without seeds)
1/2 cup grated coconut
1 cup jaggery powder
Ghee or oil for cooking

Soak the raw rice for one hour ,drain the water.
Make a batter of rice,jack fruit,coconut and jaggery.
Grind the batter to a fine paste.
Spread the batter on the skillet and cook on both sides
Serve with butter or honey.

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Sending this to Sweet tooth Friday

Smitten by Cillian Murphy

I saw this movie called intermission(2003) yesterday.I was totally smitten by the characters distinctive blue eyes. I found out later that they belonged to Cillian Murphy an Irish theatre and film actor. He plays the character called John a lovelorn, hapless supermarket stocker who plots a bank heist with Collin Farrell.I have previously seen his movie Red eye(2005) where he plays Jackson Rippner. !!I had a cat called blue eyes he was an incredible cat. So I basically love blue eyes.
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Food of the Gods

Karthigai Pori Urudai( aval and Nel Pori)

M2 and me made Pori Urundai for karthigai. Pls note you have to use Paghu vellam or black jaggery for this recipe. We use two different kinds of Pori. Nel Pori(paddy Flakes) and Aval Pori(Puffed paddy flakes).Here goes the recipe.

Pori-i/4 kg,black jaggery-400gms,finecut coconut pieces-1 cup,dry ginger a pinch, cardamom 6.

In a separate vessel make syrup out of jaggery +ding water until it just gets immersed. Start heating the syrup.The syrup shud become thick enuf , so that when you add a drop of it in a vessel of water it shud solidify immediately.When syrup reaches this stage remove from fire.Clean puffed flakes and take it in a large bowl.Roast coconut separately without oil and add it to the flakes.Add cardamom powder and dry ginger powder.Add jaggery syrup and mix for about two mins,untill the temp cools down to a state when the hand can withstand heat.Do not cool it too much, then the urundai will not come out properly. Grease hands with rice flour or ghee. Make the mix into medium sized balls using hand.
Easier said than done it is sort of tough for novices. Especially when you have to make the urundai.Thats where the black jaggery plays its part it acts as a good binding agent. Also jaggery is very good for health its called medicinal sugar. Its a good source of iron and minerals.Jaggery also prevents lung lesions very beneficial for people who work in smoky environs.Pls use organic jagerry as white commercially available jaggery is loaded with chemicals. Thanx M2 for all the help.

Pearl Millet

This is a picture of home grown millet in a pot. Me thinks its cute.
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Biggest and Brightest Full moon of 2008 in 15 years

Loon the moon!!

This was the full moon on DEC 12 2008. And I luckily captured it!!

According to a report in National Geographic News, although a full moon happens every month, the one that rises on 12 dec 2008 will appear about 30 percent brighter and 14 percent larger than the other full moons seen so far this year.This will happen because the moon will be much closer than usual. It will be at its closest perigee, which is the nearest that it can get to Earth during its egg-shaped orbit around our planet. At its farthest from Earth, the moon is said to be at apogee.Perigee and apogee each happen generally once a month, but the moon's wobbly orbit means that its exact distance at each of those events varies over the year. The moon's phase can also be different during each apogee and perigee. "Typically, we don't have the full moon phase and perigee coinciding at the same time, so that makes this event particularly special," said Ed Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California.What's more, today's event will be the closest lunar perigee since 1993, at 221,560 miles (356,566 kilometers) from Earth.Because this unusually close perigee is happening during a full moon, it is expected to have an effect on Earth's tides

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Ganesh for prosperity and wealth

Today is a friday and as usual my dad was busy with his customary pooja.Below is a pic of Sri Dwi-Mukha Ganapati(ganesh with 2 heads) and also the ganesh yantra for wealth . May the two-headed Lord Ganapati, holding tusk, rope, hook and jewel-pot in His hands, dark-complexioned, adorning red clothing, red crown and a garland be the harbinger of my prosperity.

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Crow friend

I had an early morning visitor today , my friend the common crow(Corvus splendens). She/he comes to balcony calls for me and actually asks for food. Crows are extremely intelligent creatures. They are scavengers and help keep are environment clean.I feed him/her a raisin everyday. In our hindu culture they are venerated and the first thing we do is feed the crow with some fresh rice. Only then do we partake our food. Our ancestors rock!!
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Team Health Shoppe Disaster

My mum and me recently visited an ecostore called Team Health Shoppe whose address I have provided below. They claim to be a "wellness shop". My mum wanted to buy Palm jaggery from this shop. We even got two packs of this. Once I got home small cockroaches started falling out of this pack.My mum was enraged,she promptly called the shop and blasted the girl who was managing the shop. It seemed to me that the shop lacked maintenance.I actually saw huge cobwebs even on the managers desk. I have sent an email through their site. I have not got any reply. My mum promptly threw the product in the bin. There ended my quest for buying things organic.

Team Health Shoppe @ ANNA NAGAR
Plot 1200, Z Block, 6th Avenue Chennai – 600 040,
Opp. Kokino Karate School) Phone : 4269 3332

Karthigai Deepam and Kolam dec 12 2008

These are the pictures of karthigai deepam celebrated at my place.Worshipping the divine in the form of light is an amazing concept. The hymn "Lead Kindly light " comes to my mind

Lead, Kindly Light
"Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th'encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!The night is dark, and I am far from home,Lead Thou me on!Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to seeThe distant scene; one step enough for me."

This festival is special for Lord Shiva and Lord Muruga. The house is cleaned thoroughly during karthigai.I think this is a form of spring cleaning. Clearing up old energy and making way for new. I enjoyed lighting up the earthen lamps.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Ode to the Peepal Tree

Thou art in rythm with the universe,
Abounding in nobility, compassion and wisdom.
You live true to your mission,
the mission of helping others.

We use every moral fibre of your soul,
Still you stand tall grazing the azure sky.
What an original creation,
You personify the Buddha Nature

Thou art insentient full of divine consciousness!!

10 Dec 2008 Goddess MaaKali Temple Visit

Peepal tree at the temple

On Lord Shiva's special day (a day most suited for propitiating him-pradosham), I visited a temple dedicated to the Goddess MaaKali, it also houses a spatika(quartz) Lingam.This is located in Anna Nagar 4th Main road chennai. Every temple houses a Sthala Vriksham(a temple tree). Being a tree hugger I just love the concept of temple tree! "Hindus associate the tree with the three gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Vishnu being reputed to have been born under a Peepul, which is therefore Vishnu himself in the form of a tree."Women tie a yellow thread around the bark of the tree for their wishes to be fulfilled.The message of conservation has beautifully been woven in to this milieu.This temple also houses a Peepal tree(Sacred Fig)( Ficus religiosa).It is called Arasa Maram in tamil.Women generally go around the tree to worship it. Again it proves to be very beneficial because of the copious supply of oxygen.It is such a mood uplifter and a good form of exercise.What a beautiful metaphor. Buddha also attained enlightenment under the peepal tree.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

10 Dec 2008 Pradosham (Triodashi starts on Wed 10dec 4.40 am and ends 11 Dec 3.45 am)

Pradhosha pooja is one of the most important among the poojas performed to the Graceful Lord Shiva. "In Shukla Paksha (15 moon days from New moon to Full moon) and Krishna Paksha (15 moon days from Full moon to New moon) the evening of the trayodasi (thirteenth moon day) between 4.30 p.m. to 6.00 p.m. is called Pradhosha. It comes once in fifteen moon days. Pradhosha time is especially meant for appeasing Lord Shiva. Praying in that time will free us from our sins and grant us salvation(hence the name Pradhosha). During pradosham a special type of circumambulation called soma sutra pradashinam is done."
I have decided to go to a shiva temple this evening. The speciality of this Pradosham is that its falling in the month of Iypasi.The triodasi period is from dawn to the next day dawn called Uthama Pradhosham.This (triodasi time period) is according to the site .The current moon phase is waxing gibbous and is 92% full. In tamil its called Valar Pirai. For more moon phases visit This Pradosham is falling on a Wednesday hence worship benefits incude good children ,knowledge and education.During Prodhosha time anointing (Abhishekam) the Shiva deity with the following is considered fruitful.
Milk gives long life
Ghee gives Moksha state
Curd gives good children
Honey gives melodious voice
Rice powder frees from debts
Sugar cane juice gives good health
Panjamrutham gives wealth
Lemon removes fear of death
Sugar removes enmity
Tender coconut gives enjoyment
Cooked Rice(Annam) gives majestic life
Sandal gives Lakshmi's grace
This picture is courtesy Poompuhar, the government authorised handicraft shop.Do visit the site for further details. You can buy the pradosha lamp from there. Will give you the details of the shiva temple that iam going to visit today in the next post.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Truth about Soy

Definitely soy is not soul food. I was recommended by a doctor to eat soy and give up rice to steady my hormones. I do know that eating polished white rice is useless. Iam sure our ancestors ate rice with its husks intact.The point im trying to make is Soy is not good for you. Pls check this site out especially women It is an endocrine disrupter and just 4 tbsp of it will ensure that you get hypothyroidism. I actually had this for a year God save me.Pls stay away from soy these days they are adding this ingredient in chocolates and biscuits pls do read the labels.Health is wealth indeed.

Sunday Thoughts

Back to my log after a break.The mumbai terror attacks has immensely disturbed me. The political apathy is appalling.Cliched as it may sound.I salute the spirit of mumbai and it denizens for braving such an ordeal. The last time I visited Mumbai, i had hot chocolate at the Taj.Life is indeed fragile. My sincere condolences to the victims of the terror attacks.

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