• India,  Karnataka,  Powders. Condiments. Pickles

    Kartha Masala -Dark Masala

    ๐—ž๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฎ ๐— ๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ฎ๐—น๐—ฎ literally translated as โ€œdark masalaโ€. The whole spices are dry roasted, a shade darker than you would normally roast the spices and then grind these spices into a fine powder. The longer dry roasting adds a smoky-earthy taste to the curry.

  • India,  Karnataka

    I Met Kaveri Ponnapa!

    I met author ๐—ž๐—ฎ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ถ ๐—ฃ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ in Bengaluruย earlier this month.ย  She has a Masterโ€™s Degree in Social Anthropology from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.ย  She authored ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฉ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ถ๐˜€๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ž๐—ผ๐—ฑ๐—ฎ๐˜ƒ๐—ฎ๐˜€. She spent more than 8 years to do extensive research on the Kodava people for this 350-page book and I must salute her for the patience and passion.

  • Asia and Pacific,  India,  Tamil Nadu

    Snack Queen of Karaikudi!

    Indians love snacking, especially those made at home. I do remember my primary and secondary school days when Amma used to make certain snacks for tea time. By 4.30 pm we would be seated and served with snacks (usually savouries like bhaji and pakoras or murukku) and cups of hot thick milk tea. It was family bonding time for us. The culture is the same with Indians all over the world. Tea-time is relished as everyone shares their experience and aspirations with family members. While the North Indians are associated with rich, milk based sweets, the South Indiansโ€™ favourites are deep fried savoury snacks.

  • Asia and Pacific,  India,  Tamil Nadu

    Quaint Ayyanar temple in Kothamangalam

    I found this quaint Ayyanar temple in Kothamangalam, Karaikudi. Ayannar is the Tamil deity worshipped by villagers in India. He is said to look after the villages, ensuring there is enough rain and sunshine for good harvest and He is the protector of the villagers. He is always depicted on or by the side of a white stallion with a sword in his hand! Therefore, it is natural for devotees to make offerings of terracotta horses especially hand-made by non-Brahamin potter priests. These colourful and beautiful clay horses are supposed to watch over their Lord Ayyanar at the temple over the centuries.

  • Asia and Pacific,  India,  Tamil Nadu

    The Bangala – Unforgettable Chettinad Cuisine

    The verandahs are huge and had plush old fashioned rattan furniture. Every floor has old fashioned wood and glass cupboards filled with a good selection of books. Coffee table books on Tamil Nadu, Colonial England, Chettinad and India in general are also on display. This personal touch is important for hotels. I have come across hotels that make a library of books left behind by the guests. But at the Bangala, the books are specially chosen for the eyes of the guests.

  • Asia and Pacific,  India,  Tamil Nadu

    Saratha Vilas – Mansion in Chettinad

    I have heard so much about Chettinad and Chettiars that when I had the opportunity to experience real Chettinad culture and tradition, I did not want to give it a miss. My hosts Bernard Dragon and Michel Adment, both French Architects and interior designers, who owned Saratha Vilas are the co-founders of the association ArcHe-S (Architectural Heritage Safeguard), which initiated the Revive Chettinad Heritage Campaign in partnership with UNESCO. They are well travelled in India and have a thorough knowledge of South India.

  • Asia and Pacific,  India,  Tamil Nadu

    Antique Shops of Chettinad

    Seriously, I was in seventh heaven when I walked through these lane with about 20 plus shops selling antique pieces leftover by the Chettiars!! It was a Sunday and only about half the shops were open but I just could not leave that place. There were enamel wares, tiffin carriers, pickle jars, basins, spittoons, kettles, radios, steel and wooden spice boxes, porcelain and enamel plates and trays, beautiful mirrors, lamps and the list can go on. Many of these pieces have been bought and brought into India by the Chettiars when they went travelling to Sweden, Japan, Austria, Germany, England and Czechoslovakia for business. You need to bargain down the…

  • Asia and Pacific,  India,  Tamil Nadu

    Chennai Street Markets

    Two places to witness street markets in Chennai - Ranganathan Street and Mambalam Vegetable Market. You can get all you want vegetables and local and imported fruits at very cheap price. Some of the vendors are so friendly to foreigners and some just donโ€™t look at you. You will also find spice grinding mills, poultry and meat stalls in the same vicinity. The markets are usually crowded up till about 11 am and then it starts becoming busy after 4.30 p.m. Traffic is very congested during the peak period.

  • Asia and Pacific,  India,  Tamil Nadu

    People Watching in Chennai

    I like to take time to watch people. First find a cafรฉ that overlooks a busy street. Buy a coffee and just sit and stare. I will always remember a line from a poem by W.H. Davies "What is this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?" Precisely, it is only when you take time to observe people that you will begin to love yourself and appreciate all the good things that is happening to you. While staring, don't forget to keep a ready smile for the weary pedestrian or to wave your hand at a passer by. You never know - you may…