Monday, 29 October 2018

Kajjaya - Atirasa - Anarasa

Preparation Time  -  Spread over a week
Cooking Time.      -  30 Minutes

For an easy and faster preparation, you can buy the ready dough from Sri.Rama Traders, Gandhi Bazaar. Then Your Kajjayas would be ready within half an hour.

Ingredients :

  • 2 big cups Rice
  • 1 big cup grounded jaggery
  • 1/2 liter refined oil
  • 2 Tablespoon poppy seeds

Preparation :

  • Wash the rice thoroughly and keep soaked in water in the morning.
  • At night, remove the water and again add fresh water.
  • Repeat the removing and adding fresh water for next two nights.
  • So totally the rice should be soaked in fresh water for three consecutive days.
  • On the fourth day drain the water and spread the rice on a cloth in shade and let it dry.
  • Once the rice is dried grind it into fine powder and sieve to get very nice powder.
  • Spread the grounded rice flour again in shade to remove any dampness.
  • Then mix thoroughly the finely grounded jaggery to the rice flour and keep in an airtight container for three days.
  • After three days the mix would turn into a nicely blended dough.
  • Knead the dough thoroughly. 
  • Heat the refined oil in a thick bottomed kadai.
  • Make small round balls from the dough.
  • Apply oil to your hands and flatten the balls and keep aside.
  • Now on a thick plastic cover apply a little oil and press the flattened ball into round kajjaya.
  • Fry this in the kadai on medium heat taking care to fry it on both sides for half a minute each.
  • Press the fried kajjaya with a ladle to take out the excess oil.
  • Put a few poppy seeds in both sides.

The kajjaya tastes yummy and delicious when hot but tastes equally good even when it's cold.
Not just that they can be preserved even upto 10 days without refrigeration, provided they are left till then!

We get ready kajjaya in the market at many shops. But nothing beats the taste of a home made sweet. But suppose you are lazy bones and don't want to go through all these procedures, but still want to eat home made kajjaya then you will get the ready made soft and tasty dough at Sri Rama Traders in Gandhi Bazaar throughout the year, all the 365 days. You can just bring it and fry yummy tasty kajjayas.

Happy cooking.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Organic Gardening Tips - Chapter 3

Organic gardening plants

Which all are the plants one can grow at home? If we have a big front yard or a backyard, then sky's the limit. We can grow anything and everything. But in cities the major constraint is the space, with a small or medium backyard, compound, balcony or terrace. But there is no need to lose heart. Even with a limited resources we can do wonders.

Infact I always feel that my limited resource has been my biggest advantage. It made me think out of the box, made me find an alternate medium to grow. Many of my friends and relatives who have big spaces in their compound envy my plants and my garden. 

That's because when you have such a big space where you have to grow in soil, you are forced to use that medium. One can't possibly fill entire stretch of one's compound with the organic manure. It's neither practical nor economical. And the biggest problem would be to dig and loosen the soil. However in the method of growing I have adopted, I can fill only bottom half of my pots with the organic manure and start growing and then go on adding the kitchen waste regularly which is economically the most viable alternative.

And what all vegetables one can grow organically in a small place? Are there big expenses involved in buying seeds and saplings? On the contrary. So far I have grown more than 25 varieties of vegetables and the cost involved is almost negligible. That's because most of the vegetables can be grown from the seeds available in our kitchen. Or from the seeds of the vegetables we buy from the market for our everyday usage. Or from the stems of the greens. And I have used only half of the terrace for gardening.

Even with a small space where we can keep around 10 pots we can start gardening. At least we can grow basic veggies like Mint, Ginger, Coriander, Chillies and of course greens like Methi, Basale, Spinach etc. In just one pot we can grow tomatoes that would suffice our daily needs.

But if we have space to keep around 25 to 50 pots, we can grow vegetables enough for our family. From the vegetables we get from market like avarekai, chapparadavare, potato, tomoto, chillies, seeme badane, pumpkin, capsicum, bittergourd we can grow vegetables. In fact this list can go on and on and we can eat the healthy organic vegetables from our garden round the year.

For flowers we may have to buy saplings or get some seeds and cuttings from your friends and neighbours. The flower saplings are available at a very reasonable price at nurseries in siddapura near Lalbagh. And then there are gardeners' groups where members exchange the info online and share and swap the seeds.These group members also have a meeting once a month to exchange ideas and also seeds.

Please watch the video I have shared above to have a look at my plants to have an idea of what can be grown in a very limited place with minimum resources.
Please share the video to help other gardeners and to help me reach more readers.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Dasara Bombe heluthaithe....

There are festivals and then there are festivals. The beauty of Dasara festival and it's celebrations are enhanced when you have dolls all decked up and decorated. I used to keep the dolls at home when children were young but the number of dolls has come down drastically to just two "pattada bombe" once the children grew up.
But I have friends and relatives whose dolls' collection and the way they arrange them and the celebrations and the festivities are exceptional. My friend Brinda along with her husband Anath excel in these doll arrangements and here is a video of the beautiful doll decorations at their place this year.
And the melodious singing is from my cousin Manjula.
Please watch the video and share it.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Organic Gardening Tips - Chapter 2
Organic gardening medium

Gardening, greenery, nature has always been my first love. Nothing fascinates or soothes me more than nature, mother Earth and her beauties. While walking or travelling, unconsciously my eyes wander around nature, taking in the details of each and every plant and every leaf. As if I am writing a thesis, my mind takes in every minutest point of the beautiful nature, makes a mental note and later it keeps on dwelling on everything I have seen. The image, the thought of the plants and fauna always lifts my mood. 
According to research, lack of serotonin in the brain causes depression. And it's a very well known and well researched fact that when we do gardening, getting our hands dirty in the garden can increase our serotonin levels – contact with soil and a specific soil bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae, triggers the release of serotonin in our brain.

So naturally it happens to every human being but God knows I just love it. I think I have inherited this quality from my mother because it was the subject we both used to love and discuss. While travelling or going around in a village, she used to point at plants and explain or narrate an anecdote and I used to be all ears at her fascinating stories. She had grown up in a very very remote village and those surroundings had influenced her a lot. Basically she was also a woman with a green thumb and in any possible space she would love to plant trees. And I am blessed to inherit it from her. Not just during growing up years, we continued this habit when I used to stay at home during two of my pregnancies and childbirth. She would be all starry eyed while narrating her childhood escapades and her dates with nature and agriculture.
I started gardening in a tiny place in my front yard and waged a losing battle because it's west facing and lacked sunlight. Then the school opposite our house raised another floor dashing my hopes further. Never to be the one who gives up easily I rose to the occasion ( pun intended ) and reached the terrace.
Then came the mud and cement pots and colourful saplings. They gave good yield no doubt, but always there used to be problems of load on the terrace, watering problem, problem with repotting etc.

Every cloud has a silver lining, as the cliche goes. One fine day in yoga class I came to know about the organic manure. Though I had dabbled in growing plants with coco peat in grow bags, I was never happy about it. For one thing, it is not a hundred percent ready to grow medium. You have to add manures, groundnut seeds dust or neem mixture etc. But still it didn't turn out to be extraordinarily fertile.

I was fortunate to visit the house of one Mr. Srinath who is successfully growing vegetables and fruits on his terrace using organic manure and on his advice, I shifted to this method and the result is there for you all to see.
First of all I purchased some 50 paint boxes. Yes, I was also surprised but there are scores of shops in scrap market in the heart of the city in Bangalore which sell empty paint boxes! Not just paint boxes, they will sell anything and everything which you once thought useless and threw and then cursed yourself and started to search, never knowing where to find them. From old plastic water bottles to plastic bags to boxes to..... Just anything and everything scrap!

This place is near the city market, next to Mysore road flyover. If you go there and ask anyone, you would get directions but the problem is you can't slow your vehicle or park anywhere there in the narrow stretch. So it's better to be sure about the address before you venture out.

And if you think that having driven on Bangalore roads, you should be able to easily drive here, you better think again. Though the scrap market inside is on a wide road where you can park your vehicle, the approach roads are very very narrow and there are many one ways and if you miss a turning, you will be forced to drive a few kilometres to come back and by then the motorists around you would honk so wildly that you may start thinking of dumping your idea of organic garden and run away! Please don't do that. Just think of the lovely flowers and healthy veggies you are going to grow and then all these little irritants would stop bothering you.

These big paint boxes would cost you anything from Rs.70 to Rs.100 depending
upon the number of boxes you buy. I paid 70 rupees per box as I purchased 50 boxes. 
And then for growing medium, as I had explained earlier I preferred the ready organic manure to the coco peat. 

In chikkalasandra in South Bangalore, behind the Shani Mahatma Temple there is a big outlet of this organic manure. It's an office with big open space where not only do they store scores of manure bags in the godown, they also grow their own vegetables and fruits. And if they are in good mood, or if you make a purchase there, they would be benevolent enough to give a few healthy vegetable seedlings for free. I have got these brinjal, tomato, chillies, cabbages and cauliflower saplings from them.
They procure the manure from their unit in Mandya and sell here at wholesale prices. The cost of each bag containing 25 kgs of manure is 210 Rupees which can be used for three paint boxes. The shop is closed on Sundays and while going there beware of the two extremely ferocious dogs. Never go on a Sunday as they would be let loose on that day and even on weekdays make sure that the dogs have been ties before entering the gate. Here I have given the address and the phone number and before entering you better make a call.

I fill in the manure only upto one third of the paint box and plant the saplings or sow the seeds. Because the beauty of this growing medium is it's extremely light weight and it requires no other manure except your kitchen waste. So naturally there is absolutely no repetitive cost. I save my fruits' peel, vegetables scrap, tea and coffee decoction powder, egg shells of the eggs eaten by my dog Pogo into a basket which gets filled once in every 4-5 days. I just move aside the manure in the pot, add all this kitchen waste and then cover it back properly. That's it. It acts as such a nutrient manure that the plants grow as if they are on steroids giving rich yields!

This manure takes just one third of the water we use for growing plants in the soil. You can give water twice or thrice a week and that too it needs bare minimum water. Unlike soil it has water retention quality as a result of which the manure will not flow out from the pot. It has double advantage. One, unlike the soil outflow, the manure will remain in the pot with no wastage and secondly the terrace floor will not be discoloured. 

If we use mud or cement pot, they would be too heavy for us to move them around. But here one can just move a big paint box with a single hand quite easily. And then there is an advantage about repotting. I have undergone spine surgery but still I can easily repot because like soil it won't become hard and always remains very very light. I take out the manure, loosen the roots, fill in the kitchen waste and refill the manure I have taken out. So naturally it is very much cost effective as there is no dependency on any outside help. And during the last one and half years I haven't used any pesticides except spraying water mixed with neem oil twice.
If we try to compost separately, there would be so many issues with smell, bugs, insects etc but here the composting takes place smoothly and by the time I come back to the pot after refilling other pots, the waste in the first pot would be completely turned into a healthy manure. This is helping me in getting highest yield from my plants, the size of the flowers has doubled and the taste of the healthy organic vegetables is incomparable.

So friends, go ahead and fulfill your dream of growing your own veggies and fruits and flowers, grow what you eat and eat what you grow. Lack of space is no constraint. In just a ten by ten area with sunlight, at minimum cost and efforts, you can grow anything you want. And it's not the fruits or the veggies but the pleasure of looking at your smiling plants and the positive effect they have on your mood and health is the biggest take away from your organic garden.