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The proof of the pudding (is in the innovation!)

2015 April 30
by Shalini

Out of eggs. And flour. And sugar. There’s no chance of getting fresh supplies anytime soon, and there’s a teatime deadline looming. Hungry grandchildren will come trooping in, expecting a sweet treat after school, or a hard day’s play. What’s a grandmother to do?  Innovate, of course!

Tasty trio

Looking around the kitchen to see what she has on hand, she notes fresh milk and homemade butter. There’s jaggery to sweeten with, so she boils up some bella joni (jaggery syrup). But what will bind it all together? Rice? What about some akki nuchhi (fine broken rice) gently roasted to give it a little bite?

That’s it. Quick! Mix it all up and steam it. Now, what do children love more than sweets? Easy, more sweets! Well, there’s some lovely Coorg honey that would go well with this…

The children have arrived and want to know “What’s for tea?!”. Without missing a beat, grandmother says “akki nucchi, bella joni pudding”. And a family favourite is born!

If you follow CoorgRecipes.com, you’ll be familiar with the recipe of the month feature, where readers contribute their family, or original recipes, to the site. Like many of you, I enjoy reading through these and trying out the recipes.

One recent contribution by Prithi Poovamma, where she shares a recipe for a dish that her grandmother served the family at tea time, caught my attention. It consists of the simplest of ingredients – broken rice, milk, jaggery, and butter, steamed together and served with honey.

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Southern daze: green tomato palya

2015 March 31
by Shalini

My visit home to Coorg in early March was perfectly timed to catch the annual blossoming of the coffee plants.

A little rain had transformed the coffee bushes into an undulating green sea, bobbing with clusters of sparkling white blooms. Coffee blossom time in Coorg is a glorious sight, and the fragrance is just as lovely.

Get set

For the few days that the blossoms last, it feels like you’re enveloped in a cloud of light jasmine and citrus. Carried in on a cool morning breeze, the scent is refreshing and bright. By mid morning, it hangs heavy in the warm air, gently inviting you to slow down a little.

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Another new year: Big Buddha vignettes

2015 February 28
by Shalini

For two years in a row now, I’ve transited through Hong Kong during the Chinese Lunar New year. With several hours to while away before catching a connecting flight to India, joining in the festivities seemed like a good plan.

The Big Buddha

Looking for something that would allow me to enjoy the natural beauty of Hong Kong, as well as the lively atmosphere of traditional celebrations, a cable car ride to Ngong Ping village on Lantau Island seemed just the ticket. It’s a stunning 5.7 km ride that swoops over Tung Chung Bay, forested mountains and park lands.

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Togé: For those dal days

2015 January 31
by Shalini

Well, that’s another year gone by! 2014 went out in a flurry of the usual year-end social activities, and the new year got off to a somewhat dull and dreary start, weather wise.

Vancouver spent the better part of the first two weeks of 2015 blanketed in layers of fog. At the end of January, the mists are still toying with the landscape, wrapping and unwrapping the winter-bare trees, hovering below the mountains and floating low over the waters. The sound of foghorns sounding off boats and ships on the waterways, lends a mournful gravitas to the winter-bleak landscape.

Comfort in a bowl

After indulging in rather too many good things over the December festive season, I’ve returned to the easy comfort of meals of rice and dal. Soft, fragrant steamed rice, savoury lentils, maybe a little ghee…the perfect formula, rain or shine.

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Apple gateau: A dessert for all seasons

2014 December 31
by Shalini

And another year has raced by! Here we are at the end of December, 2014, looking back at the year that was. It’s been a mixed bag, but one with so much to be thankful for. Not travelling to India over the winter, as is most usual for us, December has been a time to really savour the joyful sights, sounds and flavours of the holiday season in Vancouver.

Silky smooth apple gateau

At the winter farmers market, there’s an abundance of apples, pears and pumpkins. About town, the sounds of  jingling bells and  Christmas carols  mingle sweetly with the fragrance of cinnamon and nutmeg. No other month brings so many temptations and opportunities to indulge in an excess of calories. From turkey dinners with all the trimmings, to fruitcakes, butter cookies, gingerbread, hot chocolate, and every kind of sweet treat imaginable, this is quite the time to throw caution to the icy winds, indulge yourself , and save the resolutions for the new year!

This holiday season, I’ve rediscovered an old, beloved recipe from my mother’s recipe file. It’s another of those desserts she learned to make through her Army wives’ club, and it was one she made very often for her lunch and dinner parties.

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