Friday, March 16, 2012

Flowers, glorious flowers: a small peek into the Annual Flower Show, Allahabad

Flowers, glorious flowers, in all colors imaginable, with innumerable fragrances, shapes and sizes. This description, or rather a small rhyme that I read somewhere, author unknown, seems quite apt:
In the garden in the wild
Flower blossoms like a child
Its color brightens our way
Its fragrance graces our day
And truly, flowers seem to epitomize nature's variety and its beauty and they rarely ever fail to enthrall. And yes, the bright sprinkling of colors heralds spring. And, in many places round the world Spring is a time for celebration and also for that human endeavor called the "Flower Show". Though of course humans are not content with flowers as nature probably created them and do tinker with them coming up with variations that awe the eyes and mind.

Having returned to my hometown after 17 long years, I, too with other residents of the city looked forward to Spring and the Annual Flower show (AFS). The AFS is held towards the end of February, when the deep chill of winter is receding and days are warming up, in Company Bagh; its grounds are expansive enough to accommodate both the numerous flowers and teeming crowds that come to see them.

Of course, opportunities to play around with the DSLR are far and few, so the flower show was definitely not to be missed. Though I must admit I did cause quite some consternation at the AFS, a very tall woman totting a DSLR, capturing shots now and then. But I was oblivious to them, so I enjoyed myself thoroughly. These are some pictures that were taken at the AFS, there are many more than what I am about to upload now, but I have to admit, I am quite an ignoramus when it comes to identifying different flowers, so only those whose names I know are being shared for the now. I have asked my cousin (she is the family authority and of course, the resident green thumb) to help me identify/name others.

For the now...




Yes, I know I did say, I would upload only those that I could identify, but maybe, just maybe, a visitor to this blog can help me identify this one. All I's a hybrid...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mango Afficiandos

Mangoes bring to the fore a gamut of emotions: from the deep abiding passion of the one who must taste/savor the season's first mango to a bewildered shrug wondering what the fuss is all about to a dislike. It is not just humans who like the fruit though, God's other creatures also fancy it.

Waking up in the morning it is customary for me to spend some time gazing at the mango tree that presents itself outside my bedroom window. And, so it was that I espied a couple of parrots breaking their fast on the tree. This was an opportunity too good to be true, so a recourse to the camera was sought (here, I need to confess, that i am a beginner, just about fumbling my way with the lens), but they do say use every opportunity, so....

I could barely see the parrot camouflaged as it was by the mango leaves, but I tried and i think i can see the tail...

The other one flew before I could even make an attempt to focus on it, forget capture, so I set about my morning chores. About 20 min later, Razia, my lovely house-help called out to me "there are 4 poppats (parrots) on the tree, come see". Back I went and indeed there were four. Well, the camera came out again and attempts were made.
Duo at breakfast...

One having brekky, the other on guard as it were...

Contemplation: should I, shouldn't I:

Mine, all mine:

Did I hear someone come by?

Three birds of a feather, flocking together...

Face to face or is it beak to beak...

The Mango tree on which the parrots lavished so much attention...

These seem to be safe, or is it that they are still raw?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Cooking for One...Chore or Fun?

A question I get asked all the time: how on earth do you cook for just one person and why would you take the trouble to when you can just get lunch/dinner (dabba) catered in.
Well, my answer is and has been: I love cooking and cooking for just one actually allows me greater freedom to make whatever I want, experiment all I like, not have to stick to set meals and menus.
I have been cooking for one for the last 5 years now, there have been many experiments, most of them successful; some had to be revised and a few ended up in the rejects bin--even I did not have the guts to sample those. But, what I enjoy most about cooking for just me is the varieties that I can play around with, cuisines that permit exploration and when something is successful the reactions of friends when dishes are reproduced.
Fortunately for me, most of the stuff that i rustle up is appreciated by friends and co-workers alike, which of course, is just the right encouragement needed to experiment some more.
With everyone getting health conscious these days, eating right and healthy has become quite the buzz-word everywhere. Like anybody else I love my salad greens but sometimes I like to spice up things are bit, make them more interesting with dips and the like.
One of my absolute eternal favorite dips is made with low-fat curd (it is a staple for me and ever-present in my fridge--keeps for over a week), so here is how it is made
Low-fat curd: 400 gm
Garlic cloves: 3-4
Green Chillies: 1 medium sized (if desired add 1/2 tsp chilli flakes)
Oregano: 1/2 tsp (dried)
Balsamic Vinegar: 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Put the curds into a strainer to drain all the water out; once all water is drained, spoon about 2tbsp of the waterless curds into the mixer's chutney jar, add peeled and chopped garlic, green chillies, oregano and vinegar, blend well, until all garlic and chillies are not to be seen.
In a separate bowl, gently whisk the remainder of the waterless curds, add blended part to it, add salt to taste, whisk in salt and blended portion. Scoop into a bottle or bowl. Refrigerated, the dip can last for about a week or it might not depending on the number of people dipping into it :-)
Use with salad greens, kebabs, on toasted breads, cream crackers, anything you would like to combine it with.
Ah, yes, one absolute essential ingredient: lots and lots of love for the food that you are creating.