October 25, 2013

Temples and travel

A visit to Mookambika has been something I have associated with studies. I remember the first time I went there was when my brother was about 2 and my mother wanted to take him there before he officially started school, essentially post his Vidyaarambham ceremony. The first time I would have gone to the temple would be when I was taken post my Vidyaarambham ceremony, but that is not something I remember, being all of 2 years! The next time I went there was when my mother took me there after years, before my Class X board exams! This was the time which I remember the most. We stayed in a guesthouse very close to the river which flows along the forest, and all through the night, you can hear so many animals and insects moving about their activities in the pitch of the dark. This temple is in fact in the forest reserve, and about 70 kms from Udupi.

Last weekend when I visited this temple with T, it felt so different, as we were going now for her Vidyaarambham ceremony. Previously I do not remember the ceremony or how it happens at the temple, but this time, I doubt I shall forget it. My baby is going to school and will be big enough to board a bus and go to school. Till date, I drop and pick her up, entrusting her to the care of the school after so many mental wars with myself. Now, we have to go to the next step, and send her to school in a bus. I know I have the choice of dropping her to school and picking her up too, but a school bus is something which is an experience in itself. And, the timing for small children being different also helps me to be calm about bullying and other such instances which I know are bound to happen on a school bus.

Anyhow, back to the temple and travels bit, this train travel would be the very first for T and sleeping overnight in a crammed 2AC berth was so not an experience which I would be looking to repeat anytime soon! She being used to her cot, her space, there was little I could do to provide that on a train and we had many sessions of screaming ' This is my place... Mooove !' I was quite surprised that she could speak so coherently and her thoughts were so clear even when deep in sleep. It showed that her communication levels have certainly improved and she was able to express herself quickly and without much thought.

Something I always come back with after every trip with T is that she is a great traveller. She loves moving about, trying different foods and is certainly not too finicky about her preferences. What she does need is mental stimulation and she is as happy as a baby can be!

Vijayadashami pooja at home

Anything can capture the thoughts of a 2 year old

And the prayers

Chariot for the godess

The chariot procession about the temple grounds

No Indian temple visit is complete without an elephant!

October 9, 2013

Za'atar Fantail

Za'atar Fantail

Milk - 1/2 cup luke warm
active dry yeast -2 tsp
sugar - 1 tsp
Flour - 2.5 cups
Salt - 1tsp
Olive oil - 1/3 cup
Milk - 2/3 cup

za'atar -as required ( This can be replaced with any herb/cheese. If using dry herbs, then mix the herbs with olive oil and brush it over the dough where applicable)

Za'atar Fantail
  • Mix the sugar into the 1/2 cup luke warm milk and sprinkle the active dry yeast over it. Let it stand for about 10 minutes, or until frothy. In case there is no froth, you can try warming the milk a little, and still if no luck, then start over
  • Sift the flour and salt together and add half this mixture to the yeast mixture slowly
  • Add the olive oil and then continue adding the rest of the flour mixture. Now, add the milk slowly to obtain a smooth elastic dough. Continue to knead the dough for about 15 minutes more
  • Now coat the dough with olive oil and let it rise in a warm place for 1.5 - 2 hours. Keep the bowl covered with a towel or cloth
  • Get a muffin tin ready , oiled or sprayed as preferred
  • Punch the dough down, and roll it out into a rectangle of about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle the za'atar over the rectangular rolled out dough. Cut the dough into long strips and pile the strips one over the other to form a single pile
  • Now cut the pile through ever 5-6 cmd, to obtain smaller piles. Place each small pile vertically into each muffin cup and let rise for another 30 mins
  • During this time, preheat the oven at 180 C
  • Once the dough has risen again in the muffin tray, brush with egg white/ milk and bake at 180 C for 15 - 18 mins