#kerala, food, Life, Personal, Places

Beach and Baji

We, in India, following the COVID19 pandemic, are being slowly conditioned into an ‘unlock’ plan by the government. On November 1st, which incidentally is Kerala Piravi or Kerala Day, was also the day our beaches were opened to the public after eight months of restrictions.

Sunset ‘boulevard’ Photo courtesy:Hormese Joseph

Alappuzha beach , with its picturesque stretch of coastline has a magnetic force that draws locals and passers-by in droves.

Alappuzha is a well planned city that lies between Vembanad Lake and the Arabian Sea. It was economically significant in the spice trade for a long time. A port was founded in 1762 for the export of coir-matting and coir-yarn. Alleppey coir yarn has been GI certified since 2007.

The lighthouse built on the coast of the city is the first of its kind along the Laccadive Sea coast. It was first lit in 1862 and is still a manned station! Surprisingly, Alappuzha beach hosts a beach festival and sand art festival. (Surprising cause it isn’t considered the most progressive of cities). A canal system helped bring in goods to port from the backwaters and encouraged an entourage of traders from Surat, Mumbai and Kutch, who eventually, chose to make Alleppey home.

The lighthouse at Alappuzha

The beach here is always teeming with people. For an Alleppey native, it is the go-to place that provides free entry, a meeting ground for friends, more-than-friends, souls on the path of enlightenment and general tomfoolery.

Meet-up place Photo courtesy: Hormese Joseph

In the evenings , when the light starts to dim and the sun starts to set, an artist’s palette creates a riot of colours; a whirlwind of consciousness. The gas fires from the ‘undhu vandi‘ (carts), the calls of the ice cream vendors and the king of Alappuzha beach snacks ( yes, such a snack exists) the glorious, humungously satisfying “Baji“. This coated-in-batter, deep-fried street food is at the zenith of recreational activities in this setting.

Egg baji

It is a truth universally acknowledged (or a truth that the whole of Alleppey knows), that even if burgers & fries and Arabian delicacies are mushrooming in every nook and cranny, the baji guy๐Ÿ˜Ž is the ever-present ,doller-out of the best snack for introspective sunset vibes.

A cup of chai ( not coffee) is the final touch. My friend @aparnasramblings may graciously disagree (but we all know which is better ๐Ÿ˜œ).

The tea is of various kinds: black tea with ‘karipetti‘, the sweet milky one and even a ‘sulaimani‘. But the baji, oh the baji ! Cauliflower, banana peppers (baji chilly), thinly sliced raw banana, eggs- we are spoilt for choices. A tomato chutney (that seems a mite confusing to replicate) is poured on top and voila! A feast for the taste buds. Sophisticated it’s not, but definitely touches all the right places of my tummy!

Banana Chilly Fritters

I’m wondering if any you are now waiting for a recipe? Not coming! This baji has to come with beach. That tea has to accompany it. The setting is the hero in this one. So, what’s your favourite snack setting?

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Drooling over Mysore Pav

Imagine having a cookie, and that cookie has besan (gram) flour instead of all-purpose, ghee instead of butter, and that the ghee is double the amount of butter recommended. That is a Mysore Pav!

I have been craving this wondrous, delectable sweet for a few days and when that call became too great to ignore, I went out and got it (you cannot say I’m indecisive). I had religiously avoided venturing out into CoronaLand but the stomach wants what it wants! At first I opted for a 200gm pack and then I asked the guy at the counter to add another 200gm and then took 3 more pieces just to be on the safe side. Loosely translated 400gms of this ambrosia and you are set for a 2ร— weight gain. But never let that be a deterrent! We will slay the ‘fat-dragon’ another day!

Mysur pav

Mysore pak is an Indian sweet that originated in the city of Mysore in Karnataka hence the name Mysore Pak. Paaka meaning sugar syrup. Interesting facts (or story) about the sweet : the then Maharaja of Mysore, Krishnaraja Wadiyar (1884โ€“1940), was a food connoisseur (all the good ones are) and enjoyed different cuisines cooked in his ginormous kitchens. His chef, Kakasura Madappa, was credited with the invention of the dish and Madappa’s desecedants still run a bakery following the original recipe. It’s called Guru Sweets located in Mysore.

Inside the Mysore palace

My mother’s aunt used to make batches of it at her home in Alleppey. But it was a much harder version from what we get now at Sri Krishna Sweet house. This is softer, definitely more ghee-laden and as the Lays jingle goes “no one can eat just one”! I break off half a slice, but it melts in my mouth before I can say ‘Mysore’ that I have to have another, just to be sure I really did eat it. It is indeed food fit for a king ( a king who wouldn’t fit into much if he kept at it)!

How good does this look! Check out my friend’s page Aparnasramblings

This piece of yellow sweet inevitably will bring a smile to your face. The smile is reason enough to have another piece because smilers never lose and frowners never win. Try the recipe from Rakskitchen.

food

Dosa batter, err banter

We had dosa for breakfast today, which got me thinking. I was never a dosa-lover when I was a kid but my son will stand and go through atleast three even before it gets from the tawa to the plate

Served with its accompaniments; sambar and coconut chutney, this traditional south Indian breakfast is as healthy as a breakfast/light snack/dinner can get (I may be biased here and I’m leaving idli for another day).

The paper roast with accompaniments

Food preferences have changed for me over the years and today I relish a ghee-laden paper roast ,(the waistline can watch its self), with sambar and any kind of chutney. If I feel the kids need an extra shot of protein with that, I just crack an egg on top and swirl it about, adding a pinch of salt and pepper. Grated cheese between the folds of a wafer-thin dosa, drizzled with ghee is soooo divine. Scientific studies have proved ghee is important for the brain to function well! (This is me not being cheeky๐Ÿ˜)

There have been countless fails, in the intial years of cooking, trying to get the batter right: there was the unrisen one, the funny-tasting one , the watery one…the list goes on. I definitely learnt what not to do when making the batter.

My dosa crisping up! The ghee will follow!

But if you are a gastronome like me (wink), this is a dish you must try for its robustness, its completeness and the feeling of contentment only a good, healthy meal can give.