Tuesday, September 30, 2008


This month in general has been all over the place. I just realized that I barely took part in any of the events. Either I was late in posting, or I just did not get the time to make something for the events or just scrambling to make it to the deadline.

Here I am doing just that, scrambling to make it to the WYF: Salad/Starter/Soups Event, held by simple indian food. Though I usually make something specially for the events, this time around, there were so many events and in general I was unable to keep up.....wonder why?
So here I am sending the following salad recipe for the event.

enjoy. more later

Saturday, September 27, 2008


My first daring baker's challenge, and I am a day late......and here I was wondering,I will be bang on time. Thanks to my computer that started playing up, and simply crashed. finally have it up and running and the only thing that was playing on my mind was to get on with posting my challenge.
Even though this is my first challenge, I have been following a few other blogs,who post their challenges in the starting of every month. This was, a really fun and easy challenge. And the timing for me to make it was also perfect. That is because, we had a poker night at our place, and what other better time to serve up some snappy crackers with some spicy dips.

Here are the details of the challenge:

The Challenge: Make Lavash Crackers and create a dip/spread/salsa/relish to accompany it. This challenge allows for large helpings of creativity and personality, with the crackers, your flavor choices for the crackers, and with your dip/spread choice. You can create your own dip/spread recipe, use one of your favorites, or use one of the recipes we’ve provided at the bottom of this post. Get crazy ! Just be sure to post the recipe along with your challenge crackers so we can see what you made and how you made it (so we can try it, too!).

The Rules: You have so much freedom! You can make the Lavash Crackers either with all purpose wheat flour or you can try making them gluten free. You may use any variety of spices/seeds/salt to top the crackers. All dips/spreads/
relishes/salsas must be vegan and gluten free.

The Definitions: Vegan - no animal products of any kind (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veganism); Gluten Free - No wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye, and triticale, as well as the use of gluten as a food additive in the form of a flavoring, stabilizing or thickening agent. For the purposes of this challenge, we are also excluding oats, even though there are gluten free oats available in some parts of the world. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluten_free)

Heads Up :

* You can do so much to make this recipe your own – adding dried herbs or roasted garlic, etc., to the dough, using gourmet spices-salts-seasonings-seeds to sprinkle on top, etc.
* Read carefully ! The following recipe includes directions for both gluten-free crackers (à la Natalie !) and traditional AP flour crackers.
* The key to crispy crackers is rolling out the dough as thinly as possible. We noticed that the crackers turned out better if you divide the dough in half before rolling. You’ll roll out the dough as per the directions, decorate and cook the crackers in two batches.

The key to a crisp lavash,...is to roll out the dough paper-thin. The sheet can be cut into crackers in advance or snapped into shards after baking. The shards make a nice presentation when arranged in baskets.

Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers

* 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)
* 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
* 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
* 1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
* 1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
* 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
* Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

2. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test (see http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-if-Bre … ong-Enough for a discription of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
2. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).
4. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.
4. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Lay out two sheets of parchment paper. Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment. Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet.
5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.
5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).
6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

All set to get baked.

this is what I did

when I mixed the flour along with the other ingredients, I added a little red chilly powder, just for the extra kick.

I sprinkled black and white sesame seeds, along with red chilly flakes on top.

served it with a traditional indian mint coriander chutney and a spicy mayo dip.here are the recipes


you will need

mint-5-6 leaves
coriander- 1 bunch
green chillies- 2-3
salt- to taste
sugar- 1/2 tsp
lemon juice-1/2 tsp

You have to

simply blend everything in a blender. check for the seasoning and adjust. yummy.


mayonnaise- 2 tbsp
jalapenos (finely chopped)- 1 tbsp
tomato sauce- 1 tsp
salt and pepper - to taste

mix everything in a bowl, and chill before serving.

Everyone simply loved the crackers, they were over in a jiffy, I should have made some more. But will be soon making another batch and storing it for future game nights.....

Friday, September 26, 2008


The part 3 actually took a while to show up, I must agree. As per the schedule I was suppose to post this a week back but as the story goes the household commitments and entertaining guests took the better of me.
But again as I always say, its better late than never.
Today I will talk about the EAST,that is the eastern part of India. The land that is rich in culture, history and literture. The soil rich and fertile, with lush green trees, marshes and paddy fields.
West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura and Orrisa make up for most of the eatern part of India, with a few spreading into north east. With so many different states, the food is as vaired and different, as the culture.

The staple

The area is home to cherapunji, the city with the highest levels of rainfall in the world. With wet marsh lands and hot summers, the eastern region provides ideal conditions for flourishing paddy fields.It can safely be called the rice bowl of India. Thus making it a staple of the people of this region. Puffed rice or muri, flat rice or chedva and a lot of other varieties of rice can be found in the region and in peoples homes. Accompained by a lot of locally grown fruits and vegetables, this region has a balanced mix of vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
The other most staple taste you would find here is "sweet".People simply love their sweets here.
The use of mustard oil, as a cooking medium is in abundance. "PANCH PHORAN" which simply means a mix of five different spices, is commonly used in all vegetarian preparations. Milk and jaggery are widely used for all the sweet treats.

A little about each region

The first region that strikes us when we talk about the east. I actually have this special connection with this region, as I was born and bought up there. well in kolkatta to be more precise. I remeber the rains in kolkatta, the street foods of kolkatta, the macher jhol, the mishti doi, the rasgullas,the warmth, the durgapuja. writting about it I miss it so much.......
Coming back to our main topic. Well, before I divulge any further, if incase in the course of this post, there is any hint of favourism to bengali food, its simply because of this invisible cord that connects me to the place of my birth and where I spent some of the best days of my life.
Bengalis are the agrarian types. Hence their food includes a lot of rice, vegetables, dals, and freshwater fish. Over forty varieties of these fishes are available. Traditionally bengali meals would include dals like mung dal, masur dal, chana dal. the cooking medium used is mostly mustard oil and posto or poppy seeds. A typical bengal meal would start with a bitter course. the portion size of this course is very small.

The idea is to simply cleanse the palate. bitter gourd or karela, is usally served. an other very famous items served under this course is SUKTA. a fine blend of various gourd vegetables, made in a ginger-mustard sauce. I love the taste of this dish with rice. The next course is the vegetable or SHAK course. The most common vegetables used are, spinach, pumpkin, fenugreek, amaranth. these vegetables are usually steamed and served with a mustard paste.
dal course is the next course, where one is served different dals. this is followed by the fish and the meat course. along with these bajhas, or vegetble fritters are served to add texture to the meal.then comes the chutney course, where vrious chutneys are served, like tomato, mango, papaya, tamarind. finally followed by the sweet course. this course holds a very important place for a bengali. no meal is complete without a sweet. usually made with cottage cheese, and jaggery it comprises mainly of mishti doi or sweet yogurt the all time famous rasgulla, chomchom, sandeesh.

macher jhol

mishti doi

snacks usually include jhal-muri or spicy puffed rice. the bengali cuisine saw the influnece of other cultures like the mughuls, the christians, and the chinese.
the all time famous chinese food in india actually originated in bengal. the famous rolls (my all time favourite), razala (a spicy stew like prepartion on meat), chap (ribs cooked on a griddle), are some of the delicacies that are best avaialable in bengal. to know about the cultural influence in bengal click here.
famous bengali dishes include

macher jhol
baigan bhaja
Doi machh
mishti doi


very close to bengal, this region is home to the world famous JAGANATH TEMPLE in puri. the staple is pretty similar to that of bengal. rice, lots of pulses and fish.
a surprising fact of this cuisine that I came across was, that the famous rasgolla, actually originated in orissa. That's something which I did not know.Apart from the regular staples of rice and dal, the rural people of orissa have a dish made out of rice, water and yogurt fermented overnight called Pakhala.people of orissa love their sweets too.
some of the famous dishes are

Moong Dal
Chhena Gaja
Chhenna Poda


This cuisine is predominently vegetarian. the staples include simply prepared rice, lentils, chapati and vegetables. A dish that is typical of the bihar region is called CHOKA. Boiled, mashed vegetables mixed with finely chopped onions and green chillies,is often served with the regular meals. this is mainly prepared with potato and eggplants. another popular dish of this region is SATTU. this is roasted chickpea flour. it is made into items like "liti", or kneaded into a dough to make chapatis. it is a food item high in protein and is often consumed as a power food, that provides energy. sweets in bihar are more of the dry variety, unlike their neighbors, bengal and orissa. some of them are Khurma,Balushahi,Anarasa, Khaja, Motichoor ka Ladoo, Kala Jamun, Kesaria Peda, Parwal ka Mithai, just to name a few.


the famous tea gardens of assam

an area more in the north east,the assam cuisine is marked with the use of exotic herbs that are locally grown. they do not use a lot of spices, but their flavours are strong.talking about strong exotic flavours, how can we not mention about the world famous darjeeling tea. home to the tea gardens of india, assam produces some of the most exotic varieties of tea.another exotic food worth mentioning is the "bhooth jolokia". The hottest chilli that has made its way into the guinees book of world records.
Rice, rice and more rice is the staple here too. they are eaten roasted, boiled, steamed. the most famour rice preparation is called "PITHA",which is often made on the occasion called BIHU. Made usually with soaked and ground rice they are either fried in oil with a sesame filling ,roasted in young green bamboo over a slow fire or baked and rolled over a hot plate with a filling.
other preparations include, pork, varieties of fish,and greens. Traditional preparations can be read here.

That some what summarizes a few broad areas of the eastern part of India. With so many similarities, yet each one with their own unique specialities, these regions provide culinary awakening. be it exotic flavours, speciality spices, or simply the way of cooking.
I must admit, that the amount of information that is available, is impossible to summarize into this one post. I always begin writting and as I come to the end I feel I could have done better. As I wrote in my previous posts, I would love to share recipes and any other information about the various regions of india through this series.Do link back with recipes famous to anyone of the above mentioned areas, I would also be going through blogs and compiling a list of various recipes and putting up a list soon. would love all the help I can get.
hope we can all exchange some good culinary knowledge and spread the flavours of India.
have a great weekend.

Friday, September 19, 2008


I do not know what happened. I posted this post, and when I went to edit it, there was an error and the post got deleted!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. And here I am re-writing the post. God, I think I need to polish my tech skills. (I wonder if it had anything to do with that......). anyways, let me get back to the post.

As I had mentioned that I have developed this thing for roasted/ grilled bell peppers. specially the red and the orange variety. It was my untimely craving of grilled pannin sandwich, that made me recreate them at home. Though we dont have a grill, I roasted some bell pepper on high heat, in a pan and then added it the regular tosted cheese sandwich. It came out delish.
So I promised myself to make it next time and take a few pictures. Made it a couple of days back again and this time took some yummy pictures. here goes the recipe

You will need
  • 2 slices of whole wheat bread
  • 1 cup mixed bell peppers (red, green, orange, yellow, cut into thin strips)
  • 1-2 slice of pepper jack cheese
  • 1 spring onion (cut into long pieces)
  • 1 tomato cut into thin rounds
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper to taste.

You have to
  1. heat around 1/4tsp of the butter in a pan.
  2. roast the bell peppers and the green onions.
  3. they should not be overcooked. check for charred marks on the bell pepper.
  4. butter the slices of bread on all the sides.
  5. place the cheese slices on one of the bread.
  6. top it with the roasted bell peppers and the green onions.
  7. place the tomato slices on top. cover with the other slice.
  8. place the sandwich on the pan and press. toast the sandwich on both sides till the cheese melts.
  9. enjoy.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Desi, for those of you who would not know the meaning, is simply anything Indian. any thing that has that indian feel to it, is typically refered to as "desi" it could be desi people, desi dress, desi style, or simply desi food. Add a few spices and any dish could be made into "desi".
So now "desi" french toast, kinda speaks for itself.
I made this for Saturday brunch. growing up mom always use to make this as an evening snack. after playing with friends coming back hungry to some yummy mommy treats, we use to love the soft eggy bread with tomato ketchup.
A nice change to a traditional egg and toast breakfast. I used whole wheat bread to make these desi french toasts. So I thought that this would be a good entry for the weekend breakfast blogging event, GRAINS IN MY BREAKFAST, hosted by aparna of my diverse kitchen. An event started by Nandita of saffron trail.

here goes the recipe

You will need

  • 3-4 slices of bread. sliced diagonally
  • 2 eggs beaten well
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1-2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • oil
  • salt and pepper to taste.
note: here any variation can be made by adding ingredients like cilantro, finely chopped onions, bell peppers.

You have to

  1. heat around a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan.
  2. in a deep mixing bowl. beat the eggs along with the milk.
  3. add the green chillies along with the seasonings.
  4. dip the bread in the batter. coat all the sides of the bread with the batter
  5. shallow fry it in the pan, till it becomes nice and brown.
  6. serve hot with ketchup, green chutney
  7. and ya don;t forget a hot cup of tea.

PS: my feed is not getting updated on TASTE OF INDIA. kindly subscribe in as a reader,through email or feeds. thanks

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I must seriously apologise for acknowledging tags and awards that I was passed on by all my blogger friends. Each time I thought of adding a note at the end of a post, I would realise that the post had already got pretty long and thought that just mentioning them would not be fair. So today I finally sat down to first thank all my dear blogger friends for thinking of me for the award and tags and passing it on further.

I would like to thank simple indian food and kitchen flavours to pass on the 'Wylde Woman Award' to me.

the rules for this award are:

1.You can give it to one or one hundred or any number in between - it's up to you. Make sure you link to their site in your post

2. Link back to this blog site http://tammyvitale.typepad.com/ Tammy can go visit all these wonderful men and women and remember the Purpose of the Award: To send love and acknowledgment to men and women, who brighten your day, teach you new things and live their lives fully with generosity and joy. It's been a blessing and an inspiration to meet all of you through your wonderful blogs.

I love to pass this award to:

sia of monsoon spice
dk of culinary bazaar
pearls of east of any one can cook

and now for the tags

Usha of veg inspirations tagged me for the book meme. I am so sorry Usha for this late response. I wonder why it took me so long. But as always, its better late than never.

The rules of the tag are as follows:
  • Pick up the nearest book
  • Open to page 123
  • Find the 5th sentence
  • Post the next three sentences
  • Tag 5 people and acknowledge the person who tagged you.

so here is what I am reading. And here goes the lines:

"independently owned and operated, their owners strive to provide a similar sense of spiritual community and political engagement"

its from the September issue of yoga journal.

I would like to tag the following fellow bloggers:

lubna of kitchen flavours

divya of dil se

notyet100 of asan khana

Uma of essence of andhra

Cham of spice club.

lubna of kitchen flavours tagged me with my most unspectacular quirks (odd habits). well let me see, I think this is more for my husband to judge.......let me think, well the very first think that comes to my mind is

  1. I am a clean freak, (or the cleaning lady, as my husband calls me), I keep cleaning all the time. it stresses me out.
  2. I keep saying "ya", a lot. odd. i try checking myself. but alas.
  3. odd habit of collecting things in general. don't like throwing away stuff. i feel every thing can be reused.......
  4. I can not sleep alone.
  5. I hate eating alone
  6. I get a lot of mood swings (would that be an odd habit???)

now for the rules of the tag:

  1. Link back to the person who tagged you
  2. Mention the rules on your blog.
  3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours
  4. Tag 6 following bloggers by linking them.
  5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged

I would like to tag :

Jz of tasty treats

simple indian food

creative saga

veg inspirations

edible garden

easy cooking

wowow, I don't know maybe I am not very tech savy, linking takes me so much time.so all my fellow blogger enjoy the tags.

more later


Tuesday, September 9, 2008


"Thirty is the new twenty" that is how my dear hubby responded, when he was asked, how does it feel to be thirty. Though his birthday was yesterday (the 8th of Sept), we celebrated it on sat the 6th.
We had a party at home, with friends, food, music and drinks. Since I had decided to make all the food along with the cake at home, my prep work started on Thursday itself. hence the reason for no posts for nearly five days.
With around thirty guests, I had to think of something that was easy to prepare, and needed less time to assemble and serve. more over, I had challenged myself to make a very different birthday cake this time. so I needed a lot of time.

This is what I planned:

DRINKS: Margarita, coke, juice,corona beer (there was a lot of corona!!!)
SNACKS: paneer bread circles, mini samosas
MAIN COURSE: chana masala and kashmiri aloo dum.
ACCOMPANIMENTS: peas pulao, naan and boondi raita.
DESSERT: the birthday cake.

apart from the mini samosas (I used frozen store bought ones) and the naan (we ordered them from an indian restaurant), rest was all to be made by me, from scratch. made the chana masala and the cake on friday. Saturday morning made the kashmiri aloo dum and the snacks ofcourse. my husband and my brother in law (who had come down from San Jose),were in charge of the drinks.
The main work went into making the cake, actually icing it. I have usually made simple round cakes with all different icings, usually made using cream. This time I thought of doing something really different. I thought of making a cake shaped like the corona beer bottle and a beer mug. I saw this idea here.

I did not want to use butter cream icing, I wanted to use cream cheese, whipping cream, and chocolate. While doing my grocery shopping, I spotted real cheese cake filling. All one needs to do is spread it on a crumb base and its all set. I thought that this could be a good substitute for the butter cream, and I could add the required food colouring.
Here is how I went about baking, carving and icing the cake.


You will need
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 cup sugar
You have to
  1. sift the flour. melt the butter.
  2. beat the sugar and the eggs together with a beater at high speed. keep beating till the batter reaches a ribbon consistency. to check, lift the beater and let the mixture fall on the surface of the batter. it should leave an impression.
  3. slowly with a spatula fold in the flour little by little.
  4. add the melted butter along with the vanilla essence.
  5. fold everything together.
  6. pour it into a greased sheet pan. I used a 12x8 inch Pyrex glass cookware. bake in a preheated oven at 350 degree Fahrenheit for 25 mins. or till a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  7. cool. slice it.
I made two cakes like this for the beer bottle.

I made one cake with the same measurements, in a 8x8 cake pan, for the beer mug.


You need
  • 1 tub philladelphia ready cheese cake filling
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups melted chocolate
  • yellow, black and brown food colouring
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • piping gel
You will have to
  1. whip the cream with sugar, till soft peak stage. chill in the refrigerator.
  2. empty the cheese cake mixture into a large bowl and whip it. add yellow and brown colouring to around two cups of the mixture. mix. check for the colouring. This is a trial error method till you get the exact beer colour. You might have to add a little bit of black too.
  3. mix black colour to the piping gel and set aside.
  4. mix black colour to one cup of the whipped cream.
for the filling
  1. cut the two sheet cakes into four layers.
  2. alternate each layer with the cheese cake filling, the melted chocolate and the whipped cream.
  3. cut the 8x8 into two layers and spread the filling. I spread cheese cake on one side and melted chocolate on the other.

To carve the cake.

I ran a knife along the surface of the cake to get the shape and then cut it. But the best way to do it, is to get an enlarged picture and make a cutout. that can be placed on the cake to be carved.

for the icing
  1. I started with the bear mug. simply spread the cheese cake mixture coloured to a beer colour, all over the cake. leaving the top empty.
  2. cover the top with plain whipped cream. let a little tip over the yellow colour, to look like froth.
  3. fill an icing bag with melted chocolate,fit it with tip # 3 and pipe out the border.
  4. for the beer bottle, I started with the cheese cake mixture coloured yellow. then I iced the white part with whipped cream. next the black part was also whipped cream.
  5. the writing was with plain whipped cream. the black writing was with the piping gel.
here are some important things to take care of.
  1. after each layer of icing, it is important to chill the cake for at least half an hour. otherwise the colours will run into each other.
  2. I realised the white writing could have been done with plain white cream cheese.
  3. food markers are an easy way, but I do not know how well they will work on a cream icing.
  4. for those who love to have butter cream icing, it would be less taxing to ice it with that.
  5. To spread the icing on the cakes, I used an angled spatula.
though there were a lot of small imperfections in the icing, but I was happy with the overall result. For my first attempt at 3-d cakes, this one surely came out well, and tasted good too.
well with cheese cake filling, whipped cream and melted chocolate, should we be expecting any less.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


It was all last minute. One of our friends put across an idea for camping. My husband and I have never camped here in the US. I have done quite a few camps in India, as I was with the girl scouts.
We decided to give it a try. We were pretty adventurous, right from the start, knowing its the labour day weekend, we did not make any prior reservations (the plan was only finalized Friday night) and set out, hoping to get a camping spot. hummm, that's what I call positive thinking.
destination: two hours east of San Diego, a place called IDYLLWILD.

I had kept a few entries for all the events that had the 31st august deadline, but alas, that did not happen, as I was away pitching tents and doing some good rustic cooking.

We bought new tents and sleeping bags, at 11:30 Friday night. next morning four of us (my husband and me along with another couple), headed to Von's to get a few things to eat and headed for our destination.

on our way, we stopped at a local kiosk

On our way, we were welcomed by some dark grey clouds, and some rain. Back in Calcutta I use to love the rains. The muddy smell, the cool breeze after the showers, the green leaves covered with small rain drops....it was all so good. All that came back,though we did not get out and get wet, but we rolled down our windows and enjoyed the tipper tapper.

grey clouds

When we reached the visitor center, the ranger told us that there was only one spot left at a "fern basin camping site". We knew we would not get it, as the drive from the center to the camping spot was a couple of miles and the roads were pretty rugged.
As we had anticipated the one and only unreserved camp spot was now taken by someone who came before us. Driving around we found a spot that was reserved from the 29Th of august (which was a day before), to the 1st of Sept. no one was there, so we thought it would be a good idea to just be at the spot for sometime. so we unpacked and had lunch.

I had taken Dal ka paranthas for lunch with pickle and curd. after lunch we decided to pitch our tents, just as we had finished pitching one tent, the rightful owner, the one who had made prior reservations, showed up. We had to relocate. not far but just across, to yet another reserved, but vacant camp spot.

We finished pitching our tents, and decided not to just sit and wait. so we headed to the main street, with shops and all. we spent a few hours checking them out and headed back to our camp site. we were just hoping that the owners of the campsite where we had pitched did not show up. but that was not going to happen. as we reached, we saw that, the owners had checked in..........what to do????

we were in for some good adventure. with the sun setting down, our respective husbands were getting a little restless with the thought of not finding a spot. well coming back was always an option.

we folded our tents and just loaded everything in the car and headed to another camp site.

One spot was spotted that was empty, but was reserved. we thought of taking our chances yet again. but this time, we decided that if the guy showed up, we would wind up and go back to San Diego.

slowly the sun went down, it began to get dark, and people began to lit up their campfires.
we decided to lit ours too. waiting. hoping that the person should not show up. one of our friends gave him a deadline of 9'o clock. after 9 we would pitch our tents.
meanwhile we got cooking.

rice, on the campfire.

cooking, that was the fun part.though my friend had carried a stove, but we still cooked on the campfire. we roasted corn. made pulao and aloo curry.

fire roasted corn,delicious.

It was soooo good. with the rice cooking and the aloo subzi simmering over the campfire, we slowly started to get our things out and pitching the tent.

veg pulao with potato curry

it was around eleven in the night when we had our dinner. with still no signs of the actual occupant of the site, we were relived that we indeed got a spot.

our tents, all pitched and set.

ended our night with some hot tea.

next morning made breakfast of omelet and sandwiches. it was great. morning time, the air filled with morning mist, and the smoldering firewood of the last nights fire. it was nature at its best. after breakfast we packed our bags and thanked Mr whoever, who did not show up, and made our camping a success.

the whole experience was so much fun. Specially cooking and then enjoying all that food with friends cozying around the campfire. with plans of camping again (but with reserved spots) and with exotic menus to try out for the next camp, we headed back home.