Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Weekend This and That

Weekend Reading:

Dal~Roti Minus The Dal?

It’s Delicious No Matter What You Call It!

Are You Being Served?

Seattle Events:

Oct 12~15 : Seattle Center (Center House food court auditorium)

Bharatanatyam Performance at Utsav~2006, Seattle
(Videorecording with permission from program coordinator)

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Saturday October 14, 2006 at 9:18 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Rice Noodles & Tofu in Fiery Peanut Sauce

Rice Noodles and Extra Firm Tofu

I indulged in junk food during our road trip, but Vijay was strict about his diet. His junk food was fruits, mainly lot of oranges and mandarins. My mood was going up and down along with the road curves we were taking, but Vijay was his usual chirpy, pleasant self the whole trip. I guess all that Vitamin C (known to cause sunny disposition in people) does effect one’s mood and also taking them was his way of dealing with unpredictable moods of his companion.:)

One of the healthy meals during our travel time was at Madison. We went to Noodles and Company (Asian fast food joint) next to our hotel for dinner. We didn’t have this chain in our part of Ohio and PA, and it’s a refreshing fast food experience we had in a while. Most of their menu was filled with decent real food like items and I went with ‘Indonesian fiery peanut saute’. As written in restaurant menu, this dish was prepared by sauteing rice noodles with fiery peanut sauce, broccoli, carrot and Napa cabbage and garnished with bean sprouts, crushed peanuts and lime wedges. You could also order tofu or chicken strips with it. Of course I went with tofu. I liked the whole combination so much, and had decided to recreate this dish at home once I reached Seattle.

If you have all the ingredients at hand, preparation is quick and easy, and it can be a filling meal.

Ingredients for Noodle Preparation

(for two hungry people)

Prepare Fiery Peanut sauce:

Half cup of roasted peanuts
8 dried red chillies - Indian variety
½ tsp of each - salt and jaggery(/sugar) or to taste
Take them all in blender. Add a cup of water and blend to smooth paste. This is our ‘fiery’ sauce.

Vegetables and Tofu:

Broccoli: wash and cut or separate small florets (10 to 12)
Carrot: cut to thin, vertical strips of 2 inches length (15 to 20)
Spring onions (1 bunch) - finely chop
Tofu: Extra firm variety, cut to 1-inch cubes (10 to 12 cubes)
Bean sprouts: wash and half them (about a cup)
To garnish: prepare cilantro and lime wedges
You also need soy sauce and salt to taste.


In a big skillet, add a tablespoon of peanut oil. Add and fry tofu cubes to pale gold color. Remove to a plate and keep them aside.

To the same skillet, add the vegetables and stir-fry them to the tenderness you desire. Then add the fiery-fragrant peanut sauce, a pinch of salt and one teaspoon of soy sauce. And also tofu cubes and bean sprouts. Mix. Cook for about 5 minutes, covered. If the sauce is too tight, add little bit of water and adjust the seasoning (salt and jaggery) also.

Meanwhile cook rice noodles (purchased at Trader Joe’s grocery shop), 2 bundles, one for each person, according to packet instructions. Take care not to overcook. They would stick to each other and become a soggy mess if overcooked. Drain and immediately add the rice noodles to skillet.

Toss the rice noddles with vegetables and peanut sauce. Sprinkle some more bean sprouts, cilantro and squeeze some limejuice. Serve hot.

Rice Noodles and Tofu in Fiery Peanut Sauce ~ Our Simple Meal Today

This sauce is really ‘fiery’. For medium fiery sauce - reduce the number of chillies to 6, for mild sauce to 4 or even less.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Soy (Tofu, Yuba), Rice Noodles (Thursday October 12, 2006 at 3:55 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

A Treat From Home ~ Kaju (Cashew) Sweet

Kaju Sweet (Cashew Sweet) from G.Pulla Reddy Sweets, Hyderabad
Kaju (cashew) Sweet from G.Pulla Reddy Sweet Shop ~ For JFI: Diwali Treats Event

You have friends visiting Hyderabad soon.

They want to bring something for you from Hyderabad.

What would you like to suggest?

Ask them to bring kaju sweet from the famous G.Pulla Reddy Sweets Shop for you.

That’s what we did. Our Maharashtrian friends from Houston made a visit to Hyderabad recently and this is what they brought us. Precious than gold and pure Andhra delight - this is a taste we crave during festival times, particularly during Dasera-Deepavali festival season.

Jumbo cashews gently fried in pure ghee and then cooked and coated with thin lace like golden jaggery syrup. No preservatives, no coloring agents, none of that artificial crap, so prevalent here, is added. Pure ingredients, simple age-old cooking techniques are used. The result is simply heaven like taste and aroma.

Trust me on this people: request, demand, harass or bribe, do whatever you have to do and make your friends bring this kaju sweet from Pulla Reddy Sweet Shop for you during their next Hyderabad visit. Little bit pricey but it is going to be the best sweets purchase you will ever make.

Disclaimer: We do not have any relations with Pulla Reddy Sweet Shop and they didn’t send us any free sweets to write this.:)

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal), Amma & Authentic Andhra (Wednesday October 11, 2006 at 4:35 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Gongura Chutney

Gongura Chutney

We may be almost broke because of self-paid move and college expenses, but we sure are enjoying food like Andhra maharajas. It’s tough to feel depressed when we are able to buy a bunch of gongura leaves for a dollar and could prepare gongura chutney to our heart’s content. Good food does make a difference in one’s mood, doesn’t it?

If you are wondering what’s all this hungama about gongura, well, gongura is Andhra’s tradition. You know you are treated well and can be assured that your Andhra friend really likes you, when you see a gongura preparation on the menu. Gongura dal, chutney, dalcha and meat preparations are to name a few, that can be prepared with these wonderful leafy vegetable.

Gongura leaves are famous for their rich iron content and they taste sour like diluted tamarind pulp. When cooked and made into chutney with caramelized (browned) onions, hot chillies and salt, they turn to marvelous side dish with little effort. This super side dish is a great luxury for me mainly because of lack of gongura leaves availability in US. They usually appear for short period of time during summer months at Indian grocery shops and will get sold out quickly. The demand motivated by severe nostalgia is high. I am very proud to be able to blog about this chutney here on “Mahanandi”, finally from Seattle.

Gongura Leaves (to id: red stems and green leaves like marijuana leaves:)), Onion and Green Chillies


I bunch of gongura - Leaves plucked and washed
1 big onion - cut into big chunks
8 green chillies
¼ tsp of salt
2 teaspoons of peanut oil

In an iron skillet, heat peanut oil. Add and saut? the onion chunks and green chillies to light brown color on medium-high heat. Remove to a plate.

In the same skillet, add gongura leaves and stir-fry them on medium-high for few minutes until they come together and lose their bright green color. Remove to a plate and let cool.

Take them all in a mortar, add salt and with a pestle grind them to a coarse consistency.

Serve with rice, dal and a curry with little bit of ghee sprinkled on, for a traditional Andhra meal.

Gongura Chutney, Bitter Gourd Chips, Tomato Dal and Rice

Recipe source: Amma
Gongura ( or sour greens) is available in Indian grocery shops here in US.
Ga ga over Gongura (article)

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Gongura(Sour Greens), Amma & Authentic Andhra (Tuesday October 10, 2006 at 3:34 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Lemon Cucumber Dal (Budamkaya Pappu)

Produce from Pike Place Market: Pear, Budamkaya, Poluru Vankaya(Asian Pear, Lemon Cuke & Brinjal)

For the last 3 weekends, we were going to pike place market (one of the tourist attractions of Seattle, famous for 3 F’s: fish, fresh produce and flowers. This place is like our ‘ritu bazar’ but in a grand scale.) just to browse and also for a walk. It’s about 15 to 20 minute walk from my home. Going there is easy, it’s all downhill but the return walk, oh boy, it’s steep almost 90 degree uphill, sweat inducing, power workout type of walk. Why walk, why not take car, you may ask. Of course we could, but there is a parking fee and we really should do some exercise. Particularly me who gained some weight during moving time. I have been checking out the stalls in pike place market and what I have noticed is it can be a tourist trap. But if you know where to find, you could get some good deals also. I was looking for such stalls and found two, so far. They sell some Indian vegetables like Asian pears, budamkaya (lemon cucumber or lemon cuke) and Poluru Vankaya (Thai Brinjal), along with some other farm-fresh produce. Last weekend I bought these vegetables and prepared a meal - a dal with budamkaya and a curry with brinjals and dessert is the plain fruit.

You know what we call pretty, plump babies affectionately in Telugu - “Budamkaya”. See the middle one in the photo above - this adorable, yellow colored, shot put shaped vegetable is called ‘Budamkaya‘ in Telugu and here sold as lemon cucumber or lemon cukes. Tastes mildly sweet with just a tiny hint of tanginess, like cucumber with lemon juice sprinkled on. Great on its own, lightly peel the cuke, cut into cubes, sprinkle some salt and pepper for a delightful healthy snack. We also prepare raita with yogurt, pickle (beautifully blogged by Sailaja of Sailu’s Kitchen) and dal with it. This vegetable with toor dal and in combination of rice makes an easy lunch and one of my favorite meals.

Budamkaya, peeled and cut into cubes, Onion and Green Chillies


4 fistfuls (¾ cup) of Toor dal:
Budamkaya: peeled and cut into cubes about 2 cups
1 medium onion and 8 to 10 green chillies - all cut into small pieces
Small marble sized tamarind
½ tsp of each - turmeric and salt or to taste
For popu or tadka:
1 tsp of peanut oil
½ tsp of each - mustard seeds, cumin, urad dal, minced garlic and
Few curry leaves, dried red chilli pieces

Take toor dal, budamkaya(lemon cuke), onion, green chillies, tamarind and turmeric in a pressure cooker.

Add one glass of water. Mix the ingredients and close the lid. Pressure cook until 3 whistles. Turn off the heat and wait 10 to 15 minutes for the pressure to get released. Open the lid, add salt and with a wood masher or whisk, mash the dal to smooth consistency.

In a vessel, take 1 teaspoon of peanut oil. Heat and do the popu or tadka. Add and toast garlic, curry leaves, red chilli pieces, urad dal, cumin and mustard seeds- in that order. When the seeds start to splutter, immediately add the mashed dal to the tadka. Mix and cover with a lid.

Tastes great with rice or with chapati.

Vankaya Kura, Budamkaya Pappu and Annamu (Brinjal Curry, Lemon Cucumber Dal and Rice)

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Toor Dal, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Budamkaya (Lemon Cuke) (Monday October 9, 2006 at 8:49 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Weekend Kittaya and Seattle Views

Seattle Downtown View
Seattle Downtown View From Our Home

Another Apartment Building Across From Us

Bharat Groceries in Bellevue (Purchased Rosematta Rice From Here), Near Fred Meyers Shop

Apna Bazar in Bellevue ~ Clean and Neat, Lot of Stuff (Near Fred Meyers Shop)

Flowers and Veggies, From Pike Place Market ~ 15 Minute Walk From My Home

Kittaya in Our New Home

Weekend This and That:
More about our cross-country road trip: From Vijay
My new shop at Amazon: Mahanandi Selections

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal), Kittaya (Sunday October 8, 2006 at 9:09 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Boardman to Seattle:Cross-Country Roadtrip

The reason for our move is Vijay has joined a full time master’s program at a university in Seattle. He accepted the admission, resigned his job at Boardman and found part time work. And the journey started again.

We sold most of our furniture and all the big appliances. We rented a ReloCube from U-Pack and packed all our remaining belongings to fit in the container. We paid a holding deposit for an apartment in Seattle near the university. We made lists of activities, booked hotels in advance, and took all the precautions to prepare for our journey. We choreographed the whole thing like these guys in the song, and then started cross-country travel in our car with our Kittaya.

Every Move Choreographed

“I think whatever I shall meet on the road I shall like,
and whoever beholds me shall like me.
I think whoever I see must be happy.”

That was our motto for our cross-country road trip. Except for a couple of minor missteps, our journey went just like we planned without any major hiccups or problems. We traveled 2652 miles from Boardman, Ohio to Seattle, Washington in 5 days. On average about 450 to 550 miles each day, from 7AM to 5PM with 2 or 3 breaks in-between. Our route was I-80 from Boardman to Chicago, and then I-90 straight to Seattle. We made overnight stops at Madison (Wisconsin), Sioux Falls (South Dakota), Sheridan (Montana) and Missoula (Wyoming) and on the fifth day at Bellevue (Washington), a Seattle suburb. After crossing Wisconsin, there were few cars on the road, no speed limit or proper rest areas (most of the drive) and the weather was clear without any rain. We got a glimpse of Badlands in South Dakota but we didn?t enter the park. We made stops at Corn Palace, a corny tourist place in South Dakota and then at Mount Rushmore. We also made plans to visit Yellowstone national park but we were too tired by day 4, didn’t have much enthusiasm left to visit that place, so we skipped it. They were all near to I-90.

Kittaya, the darling that he is also behaved well. This was the first time that he ever traveled such a long distance with us and we were unsure how he would behave. Before our journey we went to the vet for helpful suggestions (he prescribed sleeping pills) and also visited several kitty forums to know about kitty behavior during travel time. Just like they suggested, he was calm and cool during driving time, napping or watching the road and at night time at hotels, being the new place and all, he acted anxious, making rounds, sniffing the furniture etc. The sleeping medication the vet prescribed helped him to calm down. We were reluctant at first to medicate him but he and we couldn?t sleep and so we had to give him a pill. We thought it’s best for him and also for us to get a good night sleep rather than feel anxious and half-awake at night times. He did not take food or water; neither did he use his litter box when he was in the car, during travel times. But at hotels, he accepted his favorite treats, only few. As a result he lost some weight. Once we reached Seattle and moved into our apartment, he quickly recovered, gained all his weight back.

We wanted to get settled in Seattle as soon as possible. So, we paid a holding deposit for an apartment instead of paying for the hotel stay. If we had not liked the apartment, we would have lost the deposit. But we took the risk just for that ‘home sweet home’ feeling. Being the hi-tech city and all, the rents are quite high in Seattle, particularly in the neighborhood where we were looking for. Even at 1000 dollars a month, all we could get was a small studio of 500 square foot with a small balcony. Once we reached Seattle, we checked the place, found it decent enough and moved in immediately. That’s our “moving” story.

Although I was very much tempted to regale you all about how “Fabulous/Frustrating” our moving experience with up-to-the-minute updates and photo diaries, I had to restrain myself. Mainly because, we made our move and travel itself a first and foremost priority so that we could concentrate on our journey and reach the destination safe and sound without any hitches and glitches. Not only that, we had to update family and relatives about our whereabouts. They were very concerned about our cross-country journey. With the Internet and newspapers, they do read about the things going on here, the widespread no-reason shootings and violence etc., so we had to assure them every minute of our journey that we were safe. With all this, I didn’t had much energy left for other things. This was the main reason for me to stop all my blogging correspondence. I apologize for not replying to you all, the kind and concerned people who sent me emails during this time. I sincerely hope you would understand my situation and I thank you all wholeheartedly that took time to send your best wishes and good karma towards us. I greatly appreciate and cherish it! Thank you!

Here are some photos from our journey for you interested folks. Most of these are road signs, places name boards, empty roads and views of I-80 and I-90 from our car, the regular touristy snaps.

More about our cross-country trip: From Vijay

The websites we went to for helpful tips and suggestions:
Seattle Visitors Bureau: For maps, city guides and Apartment guide
Seattle for temples, Indian grocery etc.
Fodor’s travel forum: Cross-country road trip tips, tips for traveling with a cat, information about Seattle neighborhoods etc
James Cross-Country trip on I-80 and I-90, and SeattleCraiglist: for apartment search
And of course AAA: for detailed roadmaps, directions and hotels etc.
* Quote is from Walt Whitman - Song of the Open Road

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Saturday October 7, 2006 at 1:20 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

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