Sunday, February 11, 2018

Besan Ki Kadhi


INGREDIENTS
For Kadhi Mixture
Besan (chickpea flour), 1 cup
Yogurt, 1.5 cups
Water, 3 cups or more (as needed)
Red chilli powder, 1/2 teaspoon
Turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon
Garam masala powder, 1/2 teaspoon
Salt, as needed
For PakorasBesan (chickpea flour), 1 cup
Red chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon
Salt, 1/2 teaspoon (add more according to taste later)
Water, as needed
Baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon

For Cooking Kadhi
Ginger and garlic paste, 1 tablespoon
Cumin seeds, 1 tablespoon
Whole red chilli pods, 3-4
Finely chopped onion, 1/2 cup
Fenugreek (methi) seeds, 4-5
Green chillies, finely chopped, seeds removed, 1 small
Curry leaves, 5-6
Canola oil, 1/2 cup
Special EquipmentLarge, deep cooking pot for boiling large volume of kadhi.


STAGE ONE: MAKING PAKORA BATTER

1. Use a flour sifter over a glass bowl to add 1 cup besan, 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add enough water gradually, while mixing with a spatula, to make a thick paste like batter.

2. Set the batter aside for a couple of hours.

STAGE TWO: MAKING YOGURT MIXTURE

1. In a frying pan, dry roast (without oil) 1 cup chickpea flour until it browns lightly. Set the roasted flour aside.

2. In a blender add 1.5 cups yogurt, the roasted chickpea flour, 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder, 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder, 3 cups water, and 1 teaspoon salt.

3. Blend the contents until well combined. Do not over blend!

STAGE THREE: MAKING KADHI MIXTURE

1. In a large, deep cooking pot, add 1/2 cup canola oil, 1 tablespoon ginger and garlic paste, 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, and 4-5 methi seeds, 1/2 cup fine chopped onions and set to heat on a low flame to avoid burning.

2. When seeds begin to crackle and onions are well sauteed, remove the pot from heat and slowly add the yogurt mixture and 2-3 curry leaves.

3. Bring the mixture to a boil and allow it to cook for 30 minutes at least. If it begins to get very thick, add a little warm water. When well cooked for 30 minutes and kadhi consistency is fluid but not too thin, remove from heat.

STAGE FOUR: MAKING PAKORAS

1. Take enough oil for deep frying in a pan and heat it up.

2. Using a spoon, pour little quantities of pakora batter into the heated oil to make pakoras (fritters)

3. Fry the pakoras until they are crispy and golden. Keep turning them to fry both sides well.

4. Once well done, take out the pakoras and drop them directly in the kadhdi mixture set aside in Stage Three.
STAGE FIVE: FINALIZING THE KADHI, SIMMER COOK!

1. Bring the kadhi with the pakoras to a gentle simmer to make sure pakoras absorb the kadhi liquid.

2. Serve out the kadhi pakoras in a dish.
STAGE SIX: TEMPERING (TADKA)
1. For the tempering (tadka) add about 4 tablespoons of canola oil, cracked chilli pods, 4-5 curry leaves, and green chillies and set on heat until chilli pods begin to crackle. Quickly remove from heat and pour the contents all over the surface of the kadhi pakoras.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Aloo Methi Paalak

INGREDIENTS
10 cups finely chopped baby spinach
2 cups gently/shortly pre-boiled, cubed potatoes
2 red pepper corns
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander (cilantro) powder
1 tablespoon dried fenugreek (methi) leaves
1/4 teaspoon all spice powder (garam masala)

COOKING
1. Add 1/4 cup oil, 2 red pepper corns, 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional), and 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds in a cooking pot and set on medium heat until the seeds crackle and give off an aroma.
2. Add 2 cups gently/shortly pre-boiled, cubed potatoes, 1 teaspoon cumin powder, 1/2 teaspoon coriander (cilantro) powder, 1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves (methi), and 1/4 teaspoon all spice powder (garam masala) and saute them for about a minute.
3. Add 10 cups finely chopped baby spinach and begin to saute it until spinach goes limp.
4. Add a couple of tablespoons of water to facilitate cooking the spinach and avoid mixture from getting dry. There should be a very thick gravy-like consistency.
5. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, conduct a taste test and adjust salt.
6. Do not overcook spinach or it will turn black. Serve hot as a vegetable side.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Abbie's Goals 2018


Blimey! January is over already, and I beat it by a hair to put up my 2018 goals. I feel goals and resolutions are overrated (since I always fail at making them and meeting them! *winks*). Everybody does 'em when a new year takes off and it sort of pressures me. My big life theme for 2018 is "The Year Of The Freak" where I am focused on living with lesser pressure and more in survival mode, focusing on giving myself quality 'Me Time'. 
ROOM MAKEOVER
I live a gypsy lifestyle and my home office / writer's den / study / my burrow is where I exist. A makeover's been in the pipeline (no pun intended! there's a toilet leak and sewage line corrosion problem at one of my rentals!). It's high time I give the final touches to the place and officially present it to the world. What have we been waiting for, me hearties? - Simple! I was waiting to re-visit the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter to grab all the merch after I rekindled my fandom in 2017. I have finally bagged the magic I needed!
YEARLY CREATIVE EVENTS
I'll be participating once again in some of the creative events that have become a routine now. I do not think I can survive the first half of the year without these two things happening. Spring is marked by National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) in April and the 6 week Middle-Earth movie marathon #6WKMMM.
WORK ON MY PERSONAL JOURNAL
I have been putting this one off for a long time simply because  I have never been comfortable writing full sentences, details, and explicit negative thoughts. I have found an alternative way to record things. Bullet points, good-humored words and phrases, and comical representation will go into my personal journal. 
LESS WRITING PRESSURE
Not everybody has time to read. Just like the journal is going to be precise, this blog will be a quick read as well. Short, simple, more pictures, less words.
Happy 2018! 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Abbie's Adventure Diaries 2017 Review

🎶🎸🎤🎧
Ridin' down the highway, Goin' to a show!
Stop in all the by-ways, Playin' rock 'n' roll!
Gettin' had, Gettin' took!
I tell you folks, It's harder than it looks!
It's a long way to the top!
If you wanna rock 'n' roll!
★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★
Hello folks this is The Abbie's year in review. Woo Hoo! Well, I kicked 2017 right out that door and pulled the welcome mat right out from beneath its feet! It was not a bag of earwax Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans entirely, but trust me there were some seriously nasty flavors in there. Obviously, I shall not make pouty-faced tales of gloom and doom befall you by ranting what all was haywire. Instead, I shall review the precious in-between-the-lines memories that made the 365 days overall worth living for! Let's get right to it. 
The year took off (pun intended 😁) with a Karachi trip and I flew on board the A380 that is currently the largest passenger aircraft with 4 jets! Business Class was such a sweet luxury! I adored the lounge on board that was serving snacks and desserts all night long. Read about my adventure HERE.
O! The old familiar places, the post-monsoon tsunami on the streets, work, and such! Catch the highlights HERE.
I took a 2nd spiritual trip of my life to Makkah and Madinah for pilgrimage. 
The Art Of The Quran exhibit at the Sackler gallery in Washington D.C. was a treat! It featured treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts. The many scripts that were on display at the exhibit dated back to as far as the 1500's! The rare assortment is an over-the-ages collection courtesy of the Sultans (rulers) of the Ottoman Empire that once flourished in Turkey. The scripts were personal copies of the Sultans or their wives and mothers, or collectors art pieces by famous Quran calligraphers of different times. Catch the beautiful experience HERE.
Spring celebrations were new for me in 2017 because let's face it ... I am a Fall person, not a Spring person. I did the unthinkable, really. From sitting outside in the garden to sip tea, bake tea cakes, and buying hydrangeas (which are dead now, I assume!), and making an indoor fairy garden, I did it all! Read the Spring Diaries!
 
April was National Poetry Writing Month and my theme was Letters & Pieces. I have a feeling I'll do a sequel this year.

After 7 years of being a wuss, I upgraded my relationship status with highways! Thanks to be celebrity level kind of busy younger brother, I was trained and set to take on big roads this year! Read the story HERE.  
 
I got to see the total solar eclipse that plunged areas close to us on the East Coast into complete darkness. The phenomenon was covered lived by BBC and CNN and I managed to get the 80% coverage (which was all that Maryland got!) on camera! Revisit the spectacular HERE.


It was a treat to see the Niagara Falls, Canada illumination under the full moon. We caught the American side fireworks. The last that happened was in 2010. 
My heart and mind (they are two different people, sometimes, like an old couple fighting over who snores more at night!) settled on a room makeover that incorporates mostly Harry Potter! There would be some Lord Of The Rings displays but mostly Potter! The makeover took off with the Gryffindor tapestry finally making its way onto the main wall! 2018 would be the year of finishing off and presenting the room!

Spending Fall (the beginning) in New York City was a treat! Times Square and M&Ms World were our most favorite places to visit. Catch the highlights HERE

Behold! My yearly bake off for Sara's birthday! Her personality is like the funky candy shop from Harry Potter books/movies, and so I made her a cool looking Honeydukes cake! The color scheme is the Honeydukes shop itself at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The top is a checkered fondant tile floor that’s the shop’s actual floor. And decorations are signature Honeydukes candies: Chocolate Frog, Jelly Slugs, and Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans. This cake Is an expression that conveys that she’s the sweetness of my life
🎶🎵 Hedwig's Theme plays🎶🦉Wands at the ready! ... presenting  “Yer a wizard Harry” - I celebrated my 31st birthday with an announcement (a mad one!) of my return to the Potter fandom. It got lost (about the last mad 30% of it that you need to qualify as a superfan!) along the way while chores and business gobbled up my life. Things have settled down, the world's after me with pressures of getting married because that's what you're expected to do when all's done and there's nothing to do! So, I decided to do justice to my fandom instead. Ignoring the tunnel vision freaks who like racing with the biological clock! This magical cake by Sara's Baked Creations (smoochies to Sara!) was a proclamation of bringing my freak back! 
Manneekinz finally found her first fandom! Paw Patrol! And the Bua, Beeya, & Dadi Team has grown to love these pups so much! We put together a Paw Patrol themed birthday for her! The cake was Sara's Baked Creations! The cupcakes were mine!
Snowpeople are a symbol (says, The Abbie) that you are warding off the evil of the entire year and celebrating the end of the days! Moochh and Smooch were our snow ❄️ creations ⛄️ for the first snowfall! We made them on our brother’s car since the snow quality on the ground was pretty slushy. Of course the one with the mustache is mine.
 
ICE!® featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was in Baltimore again and I had my eyes set on this since last year. I finally got to enjoy the 9 degrees Farenheit and ice sculptures. The amazing good time was recorded HERE.

The Christmas Village nextdoor to ICE! at the Gaylord Resort was a shopping and treats wonderland. A kids carousel, mini train, and a hot chocolate stand made it a complete carnival that kicked off winter and a season of great travel ahead! Read HERE.

I gifted my childhood away to the little one as we watched the Disney parades and fireworks together. I have yet to write down these moments. But yes! 2017 was when I revisited the Magic Kingdom. 
To kick 2017 out the door and pull the welcome mat, I headed to the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter, Orlando, Florida with Sara and the Madhouse. There shall be multiple entries on this in the Potterhead Chronicles!

Friday, January 5, 2018

The Abbie At The Christmas Village

After getting our senses stunned in every sense of the word at ICE!® featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer I headed to the Christmas Village right besides the exhibit at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. The Village is free entry by the way which means you can head out there multiple times through January 01, 2018.
Abbie Films Instagram Highlights (Click to play) 
There was a mini train ride and a carousel for the kiddies to enjoy. Both rides were ticketed and our baby niece only did the carousel because that's where they allowed an adult to accompany the rider. She didn't say yes to riding the train alone at any cost! So, I gave away the ticket to a very happy visiting family. There was a Gingerbread House Decorating corner by Hallmark (if I remember correctly), and a skating rink. Our prime area of interest was the Cocoa Shop were we chugged creamy, hot chocolate after suffering a couple hours of freezing chill in -15 degrees centigrade / 9 degrees F. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Abbie visits ICE!® featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Event Runs in Baltimore, Maryland, November 18, 2017 - January 01, 2018 (Go Get Tickets Now!
I spent a couple of hours in 9 degrees Farenheit - that's minus 15 degrees centigrade! And why in my right mind did I do that? No, as much as I am a Titanic movie fan, I did not have any death wish to suffer what Jack Dawson suffered on that plank when he was freezing to death and Rose was singing lullabies! 

I was at ICE!® featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at the Marriott Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Baltimore, Maryland. They describe it as a "walk-through winter wonderland carved from more than two million pounds of ice."

The first I ever saw ice sculptures was in Johnny Depp's Edward Scissorhands! The next was at a wedding in summer this year. But a spectacular of this magnitude ... I had not expected to see in this lifetime! 
I discovered ICE! last year but half the family was traveling and I wanted to wait until the baby niece was slightly more grown up. She turned 3 in November and I found tickets for the Thanksgiving weekend as a perfect addition to our birthday celebrations. ICE! happens every year as part of the signature holidays celebrations 'Christmas On The Potomac' at Gaylord, and this year's theme was Rudolph! The sculptures are storytelling aides. Adult tickets cost me $32 plus tax on a 'Value Day' that is non-peak hours. My niece was under 4 so she got in free! Other expenses were the $3 per person processing fee for booking, $5 per person for ICE! tax (wonder what that is!?), and a 3 hour parking at Gaylord's own garage for $15.
I would advise, if you don't wish to turn into Jack Dawson's corpse, please look at the YouTube videos of the exhibit and real people talking about how bone chilling cold it is inside! Woollen caps, scarves, gloves, warm shoes, thick socks, layers of clothes, and a tough insulated overcoat are all needed! Cover your face also if you get winter burn on your face because I GOT IT! They give you their signature "Blue Parka" (also a #) when you are entering and it is returnable. I had called the helpline and they said the parkas are sanitized before being handed out to new guests. If you don't wear the parka you don't get to go on the ice slides! So leave your germophobic freak at home! Besides, I was wearing the Blue Parka on my waterproof overcoat so I knew I could always wipe it clean!  
It was a spell-binding winter wonderland in there! Every bit you see in the photos including the snow mountains, characters, and walls is made of ice! They were stained dyed in vibrant colors, and also illuminated. 
Digital cameras and smartphones will be affected! I had read some blogs prior to going so I knew I had to carry a power backup with me. My iPhone stayed true to me but the Sony digital camera passed out suddenly in about an hour! The Nikon professional digital camera was working fine so all my photos and videos were taken with a DSLR. And I wore gloves that had fingertips exposed --- BIG MISTAKE! --- my fingers became stiff, numb, and very painful and nails went blue at the end of the hour. It is advised to keep cell phone compatible gloves for that reason. I underestimated! So, I started exercising my fists to get blood flowing and after some pins and needles the feeling came back! P.S. I am very angry at Rose Bukater now! She should have seen the Jack Dawson popsicle coming! 
The ice slides were the highlight entertainment definitely! Designed separately (according to size) for adults and kids, these slides were the prime attraction and there was a queue (fast moving!). I actually yelped coming down because come on! sliding on ice is crazy fast! And besides, my life's been pretty slow lately and I needed the adrenaline jump. The Blue Parka is a must here because regular clothes stick to the ice and you sort of get stuck on your way down if your jean or trouser is exposed under your bum. 
Thing One enjoyed the slide so much! That's the adorable Blue Parka in kiddie size for your little ones! She took two turns! So did Sara! Check out the incredible craft of the ice craftsmen. Each brick is clear ice and to make it clear they use filtered, and treated water. Abbie's Cafe Tip: if you ever want clear ice cubes for your drinks, boil your water before putting it into the ice trays to freeze! That's clear crystal ice for you!
The Yeti has become a personal favorite - mine and Sara's that is! For some reason Sara thinks she looks like it. And she felt that the Blue Parka completed the resemblance! That humongous ice sculpture was one of our favorites. It was still Fall when we visited but that's how we started off the winter countdown. We were immediately in the holiday mood and I, for one, was wishing November a goodbye. Remember my kicking 2017 out the door mission?
The baby niece was getting very agitated by the freezing chill and she kept crying. But she did get to make Rudolph's nose glow though! That was one thing she wanted to keep doing. She wanted more buttons! 
Winter holidays are not complete without this controversial red dress old man from the North Pole. Personally, I love him! I wish I was still a kid and could have gotten a photo taken sitting in his lap and asking him for more Harry Potter merchandise! Recently something was published (Sara says) informing us how Rudolph and the other reindeers are actually females because in winters the males shed off their antlers. So, everyone pulling the sleigh is a she-reindeer! Well, I say Santa Claus should also be a lady, considering how the character knows how to do everything right! *winks*
The beautiful Nativity scene was the concluding masterpiece of the exhibit. It was different from the rest because it was crafted from crystal clear ice. Everything appeared to be crystal, glass. The scene depicts the birth of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) and the animals and people (saints, angels, Mary (peace be upon her) the mother of the prophet, and others) who were present at the time according to Christian tradition. This exhibit hall had audio storytelling on loop. Every bit felt magical, divine. Muslims have a different tradition about the conception and birth of their Prophet Jesus (Isa) (peace be upon him) but they agree with Mary (Mariam) peace be upon her to be his mother and the presence of Angel Gabriel (Jibr'il) peace be upon him. So, the depiction touched hearts for sure. 

I felt the blood rush back to my cheeks and feeling returned to my limbs when we stepped out into the sunlight outside the exhibit on the deck. There was hot chocolate and more fun surprises waiting for us at the Christmas Village outside. But that is another adventure...