March 27, 2012

Black and White Wednesday: Stone Mortar and Pestle


There is a hidden charm in pounding spices in our old stone mortar and pestle. My mother still uses it in her kitchen and whenever she does, it reconnects with my true roots and traditions. I somehow feel any spice paste made in this tastes better and is more flavorful than a food processor. All the latter does is make a million pieces of whatever thrown in it. With grinding in a mortar and pestle, it releases fragrant oils and smells which makes the cooking process even more memorable and enjoyable.

..definitely a must have in every kitchen. :-)

Posted for Susan's Black and White Wednesdays.

{Update} on Vaidehi Ashram Fund Distribution

Remaining Amount: 0 Rs (as of November 22nd 2012). The entire amount raised from the Fund Drive held in February 2012 has been spent for the children of Vaidehi Ashram. Thanks all for generously contributing to the Fund Drive

There is a constant need of funds for Kid's Education Fund (Vidya Nidhi) as every month more than 25,000 Rupees has to be paid as school fees for about 100+ school going girls. If you wish to lend a helping hand to the girls at the Ashram, please feel free to send me an email at - info[dot]siri[at]gmail[dot]com. I will be happy to coordinate in any which way you want to contribute. Thanks in advance.

A Big Hello from all of us here at Ashram :-)

{Updated} - Click here to read all the posts written on Vaidehi Ashram.

Repeating myself on what Thomas Carlyle quoted "A laugh, to be joyous, must flow from a joyous heart, for without kindness, there can be no true joy." and each one of Y.O.U played a passionate role in bringing true joy and happiness in the lives of Vaidehi Ashram girls. Sometimes it feels like a dream that we actually managed to raise more than 3 Lakh Rupees in a matter of just 30 days. 

When I shared this news with Ashram authorities, they were ecstatic beyond words. There were tears of joy, happiness and gratitude all around, some expressed awe and some disbelief ;-). They thanked from the bottom of their heart for your generosity and kindness. :-).

Now, its time for proper action so that money reaches the deserved and serves it purpose. This post will be updated regularly to post updates about how the money is being disbursed.

Total Amount raised during the Vaidehi Ashram Fund Drive =  Rs 3,20,107 [3 Lakh Twenty Thousand One Hundred and Seven Rupees]

How the money has been disbursed.

(in the order of most recent expenditure..scroll down for more updates)

[Updated on November 22nd 2012] - A cheque of  50,700 Rupees in the name of  Sri Saraswathi Vidya Peetam has been given which will cover school fees for the month of November 2012. The remaining amount is  2,043 Rupees. Another cheque for the same has been given in the name of Vaidehi Seva Samithi which will cover the cost of one day's meal for all the ashram girls.


[Updated on October 20th 2012] - 3,000 Rupees in cash has been spent to buy this pair of diyas along wtih two plates for the ashram as uptil now they used to borrow them from one of the committee member's friend. Thanks to you all, they have their own pair now which can be used for all special occasions,  festivals, annual day inauguration etc.


[Updated on August 19th 2012] - 15,000 Rs in cash was given to Vaidehi Ashram authorities to spend on footwear for all 120 children. Here are some smiling faces excitedly posing with their new chappals. :-)


[Updated on July 5th 2012] - Two cheques - one for Rs 1,05,360 in the name of  Sri Saraswathi Vidya Peetam has been given which will cover two months of school admission fees & term fees for 86 girls from the Ashram. Another for Rs 13,826 in the name of Vaidehi Seva Samithi has been given which will cover the milk expenses for all 112 ashram girls for one month. 


[Updated on June 26th 2012] - A cheque for Rs 56,168 has been given in the name of Sri Laxmi Narashima Kirana & General Stores.

Here is the breakdown for Rs 56,168 spent on groceries for Ashram -

1. 50 kgs Urad Dal - Rs 2650
2. 2 quintals of Toor Dal - Rs 12,600
3. 20 tins of Sunflower oil - Rs 24,400 (1220 * 20)
4. 60 Kgs of Tamarind - Rs 3360 (1680 * 20)
5. 1 quintal of Sugar - Rs 3010
6. 20 kgs Wheat Rava - Rs 440
7. 20 kgs of Bombay Rava - Rs 420
8. 2 cartons of washing soaps - Rs 1900
9. 100 Bathing soaps - Rs 3250
10. 15 Dabur Red tooth paste - Rs 900
11. 1 carton of Sanitary Napkins - Rs 1548
12. 30 Wheel detergent powder packets - Rs 1140
13. 5 kgs of Coconut oil - Rs 550

Groceries bought for Ashram

Children gathered for their evening prayers


[Updated on April 16th 2012] - A cheque for Rs 45, 650 has been given in the name of Sri Saraswathi Vidya Peetam to the Ashram which will cover the school fees for the months of April and May 2012.

Signature and Account details blurred out for security purposes

{L-R} Ms Suvathsala, My mother and ashram wardens - receiving the cheque 

[Updated on March 3rd 2012] Emma Goldman once said - "No one has yet realized the wealth of sympathy, the kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure.".

Believing the fact that empowering these little girls will make them better and smarter women tomorrow, the first amount (Rs 28,360) disbursed is for the school fees of 80 Ashram kids for the month of March. The check is drawn directly under the name of Sri Saraswathi Vidya Peetam, the trust that runs the school.

Signature and Account No. blurred out for security purposes

It also gives me immense pleasure that many have called the Ashram reading about them on our blogs and offered to financially help the girls. My heart filled with pride that we all successfully mobilized people around us to do some good. :-)

My mom and grandmom with kiddos.
Previous posts on Vaidehi Ashram -

My first visit to Vaidehi Ashram 
40+ Raffle prizes for the fund drive (January 26th to February 26th 2012).
My Second visit to Vaidehi Ashram
Fund Drive for Vaidehi Ashram of Destitute Girls, Hyderabad
Announcing Raffle Prize Winners for Vaidehi Ashram Fund Drive

until next time,

March 18, 2012

Summer is here: Instant Mango Pickle | Mamidikaya Mukkala Pachadi | #IndianFoodPalooza

Amma's recipes is a column on this blog, which is very close to my heart. These are the recipes which my mother perfected over many many years and reflects how awesome a cook she is. It is also fun to just photograph once in a while, without thinking about what and how to make a recipe, worrying whether it would turn out well or not. She Cooks, I Photograph. That is the deal. :-) If you guys have any question, do drop in a line or comment on this post. My mom will be more than happy to answer all of them.

With much less effort, one can make this version of mango pickle, in a giffy!
I read it in an article recently - "Food is part of a continuum, changing yet connected to the past." So true. Isn't it? Pickles and chutneys likewise form an integral part of Indian cuisine, especially for us, who live in the southern part of India. These make a amazing accompaniment making our day-to-day meals memorable with their spicy, tangy flavors. Each one may have his/her absolute favorites and I bet for most of them its "Mango pickle".

Our first produce - home grown mangoes. Nothing tastes better than these!
Today's recipe "Instant Mango Pickle" - is a dish that is old made new, history scrubbed of nostalgia. Known as "aam ka achaar" in hindi, no indian meal is complete without a dash of this pickle. This recipe is special as its made with mangoes grown in our back yard. :-)

"This is like a taste explosion." ~ George, tasting his first mango, in "The Mango" (Seinfield)
The original Mango pickle is a tad bit laborious, but this version is quick and easy. All you need is raw mangoes and spices such as mustard powder, chilli powder, fenugreek-cumin powder, turmeric, salt and oil. Give it a try and am sure you will love it too, as much as we did!

Raw mango cubes, ready to be dressed up into the spices!

Use the best chilli powder available as its a key ingredient which lends a vibrant red color to the pickle.

freshly ground mustard powder. (No need to roast the mustard seeds before grinding)

Mix them all....

Spicy, tangy Instant Mango Pickle ready! tastes best after 2-3 days.

..couldn't wait for that long, so quickly mixed with some white rice and devoured till my hearts content! Darn! my mouth is still watering.

  {Recipe} Instant Mango Pickle | Mamidikaya Mukkala Pachadi


4 cups of cubed raw mangoes (choose firm ones)
2 cups of chilli powder
1.5 cups of mustard powder (grind black mustard seeds into a coarse powder)
1.25 cups of salt
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp fenugreek-cumin powder (dry roast cumin seeds and fenugreek [methi] seeds separately. grind them together into powder)
2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
3 cups of sesame/gingelly oil or vegetable oil. ( 2 cups of oil on Day One; 1 cup of oil for Day Two)

Tadka - 1 tsp each of urad dal, mustard seeds and cumins seeds + 5-6 whole red chillies


1. In a pan, warm 2 cups of oil.

2. In a large bowl (make sure it is bone dry) mix with (dry) hand or a spatula - raw mangoes, chilli powder, mustard powder, turmeric, salt, methi-cumin powder and warm oil. 

3. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a wok and add the tadka ingredients one by one. Let them splutter. Turn off the heat and then add ginger-garlic paste. Add to the mango pickle mixture. Mix well.

4. Next day, Mix the contents once. Warm another cup of oil and add to the mango pickle mixture. Mix again.


1. Don't refrigerate the pickle immediately. Water is released out of mangoes for next 3-4 days and the color will change to a shade of bright red.. Keep mixing the pickle atleast twice a day during this time. Store in an air tight container on Day Five and then refrigerate.

2. When refrigerated, this pickle will stay fresh for 1 month.

My dear friend Prerna of Indian Simmer along with Kathy and Barbara are celebrating #IndianFoodPalooza all month long. Sharing today's recipe with them and for all those who love Indian food. You will find this recipe quite simple to make at home. :-)

until next time,

March 13, 2012

Cointreau Rendevous Prive

From past few weeks, things are a little lull at my end. The Fund Drive has taken a major part of my time and over that my hectic work schedule is keeping me pretty busy with no time for my camera. Sadly nothing new is cooking as well. It is the same rice & dal for lunch and roti & curry for dinner. Hopefully I will get my mojo back and will dish up something for you guys.

Image Credit: Cointreau
When I heard about Cointreau Rendevous Prive,  I thought its as enticing as it sounded.

Cointreau Rendez-vous PrivĂ© is a stylish and private cocktail evening which can be hosted in your home by professional Cointreau mixologist. It is an opportunity to surprise your guests with an intimate and convivial atmosphere made for, and by trained barman of Cointreau Rendez-vous PrivĂ©, with everyone enjoying connecting around Cointreau cocktails. With everything on hand to create a pop-up cocktail party. It is something that has recently been launched in India and is available in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore & Hyderabad. If you wish to host such a party, get in touch with Cointreau guys at Click here for more information.

Now, you would be wondering what to make for the cocktail party, if you host one. Don't worry I have got that covered for you.

Previously blogged Cointreau cocktails and recipes are below. Click away and make these easy concoctions for an enjoyable cocktail party. You see, that's how the conversations and good times happen. ;-)

Cointreau DiabolicRecipe here. 

Cosmopolitan - Recipe here

Margarita - Recipe here

Cointreaupolitan - Recipe here


On an another happy note, Pavithra of Dishes From My Kitchen won a 50 mm f 1/8 Canon EF lens as a raffle prize for the Fund Drive. I am sure she will make the best use of it. Congratulations again Pavi. The lens is on it way and should reach you soon. :-)

until next time,

March 4, 2012

Announcing Raffle Prize Winners for Vadehi Ashram Fund Drive

"Gentleness, self-sacrifice and generosity are the exclusive possession of no one race or religion."

~ Mahatma Gandhi

With the help of all you amazing people out there who supported the Fund Drive, one way or the other, the Fund Drive raised $5836.43 (translates to Rs 288903.28) + Rs 31203 => 3 Lakh Twenty Thousand One Hundred and Seven Rupees (Rs 320107) for the kids at the Vaidehi Ashram. How cool is that. :-)

A Thank You Note from the Ashram Kids to all of you!
My heartfelt thanks to all the contributors for their enthusiastic and passionate response in making this Fund Drive such a big success and to fellow blogger friends for their belief in the cause and sponsoring these wonderful prizes. It is indeed a blessing to know each one of you. A special mention who spread the word about the drive by writing on their blogs.

As promised, it is time to reveal the lucky raffle prize winners. A random drawing was conducted at Ashram today and here are the winners. :-)


An official email has been sent to all winners. Please respond by forwarding your shipping address. The prize sponsors will then send the gifts directly to the winners. Please allow 2 to 3 weeks for the prizes to reach you.

How will the money be spent?

During our visit to the Ashram today, my mother and I inquired about what are their immediate necessities for which the money can be put to use.

80 kids study at Sri Saraswati Sisu Mandir school and the monthly fees is about 25,360 Rupees. We are planning to sponsor their school fees for 3 months. (March, April and May) --> Rs 76,080.

We also received a list of month's supply of provisions needed to feed the kids at the Ashram. The list is currently being sorted out and a part of remaining Rs 2,44,027 will be spent on the essential groceries. Watch out for this space. I will post more updates and photographs as we start disbursing the money.

Translating in English, the below Quote of the day -

"Say NO to laziness not only in actions, but also in thoughts."

Words cannot express my happiness at seeing the glowing faces of the Ashram Kids and the very thought that we could do something for them. This was possible only because of our collective effort.

A Big Thank You to each and everybody!.

If you wish to continue to support the Ashram kids, below are some projects you might be interested in -

1. Adopt a girl for one year (Includes clothing, food, education and other necessities)    Rs 20,000/-

2. Vidyanidhi (Education costs a girl for one year)                                                           Rs 5,000/-

3. Mangala Nidhi (One time deposit to cover a day's food expenses commemorating any auspicious occasion every year)                                                                                                        Rs 20,000/

4. Smrithi Nidhi (One time deposit to cover a day's food expenses in remembrance of your beloved every year)                                                                                                                                Rs 20,000/-

5. Kishori Vikas Yojana Nidhi (Expenditure to run one Centre of Development Project for Adolescent Girls for one month)                                                                                                          Rs 1000/-

6. Vaidehi Mahila Vikasa Samithi (One month expenditure to train Unemployed Youth & Women. Also includes cost for food and shelter)                                                                              Rs 10,000/-

7. To sponsor a meal for all the Ashram girls:                                                                   Rs 2,000

Please send them an email at - or call at 91-9032152105 / 91-40-24075544 with the project details.

Ashram Details:

Vaidehi Seva Samithi
Beside Sri Saraswati Sisu Mandir High School
Krishna Nagar, Saidabad, Hyderabad - 500 059
Ph No: 040-24075544
Mobile: 9032152105

To send your contributions directly in the form of a cheque or a demand draft, draw it in favour of - M/s Vaidehi Seva Samithi and send to the above mentioned address with a cover letter specifying your details.

Bank Details for direct deposit: The Ashram authorities have requested a cover letter for the direct deposit contributions as well as they have to know who you are for filing their taxes to Govt. Of India.

For foreign donations only: Vaidehi seva samithi A/C No.5219946953, State Bank of Hyderabad, Disulkhnagar (FCRA) .
For Indian donations only: Vaidehi seva samithi A/c No.2818101000609, CANARA BANK, Saidabad, Hyderabad
Ashram PAN ID (Tax ID) - AAATV2720Q.

Related Posts:

My first visit to Vaidehi Ashram 
My second visit to Ashram
Fund Drive for Vaidehi Ashram

until next time,

March 1, 2012

Be My Guest and {Recipe} for Soya Sesame Khakhras

It is always touching when a fellow blogger wants to know more about you and wish to feature you on their blogs. Many months ago, Nupur of UK Rasoi asked if I wish to Be Her Guest,.

I said, Why not? :-)

I also made some easy, oil free Soya Sesame Khakhras for her.. Get the recipe here.  

Thanks Nupur for having me as your guest.

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