My Relationship With Avial

“I really need to borrow a stomach!”

If you have ever said that in your life, you’d understand my position now. Because I really need to borrow a stomach. There is a lot of Avial left in the kitchen and it is killing me. Let me take you through the divine relationship between Avial and me.

Avial is a thick side dish prepared with lots of vegetables, coconut, coconut oil and curry leaves. This is a very common cuisine in Kerala. People all over the state make it in different ways and obviously, I love Amma’s and Ammamma’s version the most!

The smell of the mixture, of cumin and scraped coconut ground and sauteed in coconut oil, is enough for me to lose my mind. What happens later is beyond my control. I am like a possessed animal with its calculative mind intact of course! The animal needs the mind to plan the eating.

This is how it goes. First, I load my plate with a small amount of rice, and an equal or more amount of avial. I eat it with rasam, the gravy dish. It gets over in less than a minute. Then I load my plate with a little bit of rice, mix curd and add an equal or more amount of avial. The combination of curd and avial is my bliss station. Nobody can reach me there. After the second round, it is pretty much myself and avial. We talk, we walk, we hang out, have some fun and I nibble vegetable after vegetable taking in every bit of the coconuty richness. I stop only because the storage space in my tummy is limited.

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My second serving of rice and avial after eating almost half of the avial.

Um… don’t judge the pic quality. I had to take a quick picture as I was drooling.

After this, I groan for an hour or so about my about-to-burst tummy. Once things start getting better, I keep looking at the clock calculating the time left for tea. Tea time is the most important time of the day for me. On Avial days, even more so. Because you’d see me loading another plate with avial and having it as a snack.

Yeah! On avial days, I am barely sober. Always high on avial. Avial rules ya!!!

Thankfully, there is something greater than avial that rules me: Srimati Dhanalakshmi Gopal aka my Ammamma. She ensures that I don’t finish off the entire thing by keeping aside half of it for all the lesser mortals at home. 😛  And no, if you knew her well, you wouldn’t touch it. So you see? I don’t need to go to a rehab to get rid of my addiction. The rehab is at home and I really don’t have any other choice. 😀

Today’s avial was super amazing. And there is still some left in my quota. I try to take my mind off it, but I can’t. Ammamma was worried that Amma had made too much. Like really? There is no thing as too much avial! So while having my lunch, I somehow managed to call up Amma. The sounds in my head were screaming at me to put the phone down and eat! Anyway, I did call her up and told her how amazing it was and she giggled happily. Aww… sweet right? Maybe I should do that more often.

See? Avial is God sent. It is not only a super dish with lots of vegetables that I normally don’t eat, but also one that improves family bonding. I mean who would eat beans and call up their mother and say that the beans were awesome? Ugh! I think I might turn into a formal Avial brand ambassador.

Avial is the future for kids who hate vegetables.

Avial is the lightbringer.

Avial Cheenachatti born, First of her name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Vegetables and Curry leaves, Khaleesi of the Great Arabian Sea, Breaker of Coconuts, and the Mother of Dishes.

Avial rules!

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Look at her ❤

Now I have to go have tea. And some avial. So see you when I am sober. 😀


Place of Origin – An Answer to Your Snack Cravings

If you are fond of local dishes from all over the country, you would always be on the lookout for people who go on trips to various places to bring you some. During my college days, students used to wait for the Keralites to arrive with their Banana chips and  the Tapioca chips, the Telugites to open their pickles and Nippattus, the Gujarati Theplas, the Nepali Titoras and Waiwais and so on.

“I am going to Ooty next week. What do you want from there?”

“Homemade chocolates!”, comes the spontaneous reply. Ooty has been always associated with the cold and the home made chocolates.

Gone are the days when you had to either go on a trip or wait for someone to go on a trip to a certain place to savor their local dishes. E-commerce has made life easier not only with respect to buying clothes but now your favorite local snacks, savories and sweets are available online too. Place Of Origin is India’s first and largest platform for famous local foods. With over 4000 varieties of sweets, snacks, biscuits, and pickles from around 400 brands across India, the platform is the answer for all your local food cravings.

Snacks are an inseparable part of Indian households. We always have a wide range of snacks stored up like treasures in a huge dabba in our houses and when visitors arrive, we daintily lay them before the guests and let them have their fill. With time, we have experimented various types of snacks from Jammu & Kashmir to Kanyakumari and we know quite a lot of the local flavors and their origins. Place of Origin brings all those snacks under one name and you could order them from the convenience of your home. I have seldom found Karela/ Bitter Gourd Chips in my locality and so, I always purchase a packet when I visit Coimbatore. Now, these could be bought from the site and while you wait, they come to your doorstep.

Karela Chips

Gujarat is famous for their Khatarnaak dishes – as referred to by Kareena Kapoor in 3 Idiots – such as Dhokla, Thepla etc. We in Kochi, sometimes crave for these delicacies and with a tiny request, our Gujarati friends would satiate our cravings.


Place of Origin has all these and much more. The listings are endless and you are bound to get confused seeing the spread they have displayed. For the foodies who love experimenting and learning the culinary cultural variances in our country, this site gives you most of it.  Their iconic local specialties include Shrewsbury Biscuits from Pune, Dharwad Peda, Sandesh from Kolkata and Pachranga from Panipat as well as unique local specialties such as the Chanachur of Bengal, Thokku from Andhra Pradesh, Pinni from Amritsar and so on.

Here are a few more Snack items available on Place of Origin to give your salivary glands some exercise:

Anjeer (Figs)

Anjeer (Figs)

Jam Biscuits

Jam Biscuits

Husked Green Gram Crackers

Husked Green Gram Crackers (Chilli Flavour)

Food has no language, region or cultural differences. Food knows only hunger and hunger knows only food. Place of Origin has taken a brilliant step uniting food items from all over the country so that we could indulge in them forgetting all cultural differences. Ventures like these inspire us to love Gujaratis for their amazing Dhoklas and Telugites for their tangy Gonguras.

Narikulam Tharavadu and Nedungad Boat Jetty (Part II)

Narikulam Tharavadu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Read Part I of our trip here: Trip to Kuzhippilly Beach & Narikulam Tharavadu

When the previous post ended, we were seated at the Narikulam Tharavadu dining table, with widened eyes, grumbling tummies and ready to pounce on a sumptuous feast. Before I continue, I’d like to rewind a bit here.

We are a part of this amazing community on Facebook called Eat Kochi Eat. Facebook really came in handy with this group, where Cochin Foodies post their reviews about the new eateries, their discoveries and all sorts of dishes from all sorts of food joints. Within the last four months, I realized that I haven’t visited most of the must visit food joints here. And so, I already covered 4 the week after exams! 😛 This is where we got to know about this Homestay. We had added it in a ‘to-attack’ list and suggested this place to the group for our trip. Before going to Narikulam tharavadu, you are supposed to inform them about the visit, give them a list of food you’ll want and the headcount. We had ordered Chicken fry, chicken curry, beef, Fish fry, chappati & Appam. The quantity of each depended upon who likes what.


Yummilicious appam, chappati, fish fry, chicken fry, beef
Yummilicious appam, chappati, fish fry, chicken fry, beef

The food was amazing and very much filling. In fact, almost a quarter of it was left after we were done. So, I am talking about high quantity Naadan (Authentic country-side) food, comprising entirely of non-veg at affordable prices! You read that right. The food along with Payasam (Dessert) cost us just Rs. 200 per head. I’d like to add that prices differ with the type of fish you opt for. Even so, the experience was worth much more than this.

We thanked Paul chettan for the food, clicked some more pictures and as per his suggestion, made our way to the Nedungad Boat Jetty nearby. How do I even begin to describe it? As the land tapered to end in the Kollam Kottapuram Waterway, we found ourselves surrounded by water and myriad species of birds. It cannot be compared to a normal beach or a lake view since the landscape was such that, at one point, all we could see was water. I am in loss for words and so, I’ll let my friend’s pictures speak from now on.

The path towards the Boat Jetty area is lined with coconut trees which finally tapers into the water
The path towards the Boat Jetty area is lined with coconut trees which finally tapers into the water
There was a tiny hut and some lambs playing around. :)
There was a tiny hut and some lambs playing around. 🙂
Coconut trees and backwaters - True essence of Kerala
Coconut trees and backwaters – True essence of Kerala

The Boat Jetty was unplanned and the uniqueness of it made the trip all the more memorable. If you plan a visit to Kochi anytime, and if you are looking for a Homestay and authentic Malayali Non-Veg food, Narikulam Tharavadu Homestay is the best choice. I cannot comment on the Vegetarian food since we didn’t have any. Besides, I always have a soft corner for the Tamil Vegetarian dishes. So, I strongly recommend this place for the Non-vegetarians. Also, they have homestay package at Rs. 2000 per night with food for a couple. As promised in the previous post, here are the details:

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Here are the details of the Homestay. Enjoy!

I sign off with a picture of us – The kachara team! The Minions! The Chipmunks! Five extreme people with entirely different characteristics that gel so well with each others’, and ofcourse the Homestay! 😛

Looks too beautiful right?

Pic Courtesy – All the images here were clicked by these guys ^ 😀

Aangan Downtown Restaurant Review

Let me begin with this: I feel like I have found treasure near my house. Having been a part of a Facebook group ‘Eat Kochi Eat’, I kept seeing great reviews about Aangan Downtown Restaurant and had added it to my must visit eateries list. If you have read my earlier posts, you’ll know that I love making lists!

Last month was Amma’s birthday and since my sister wasn’t in town, we decided to give Amma a surprise dinner whenever my sister got back. We also had fund constraints. So eventually, even if it was late, we arranged for some cash and made a quick plan. I was entrusted with choosing the restaurant since I keep listing the eateries I want to visit. Besides, I am always crying about the mouth-watering posts in the FB group.

We reached Aangan Downtown which is at Palarivattom. It isn’t at the main road and hence not very visible. If you are someone who goes by first impressions, the moment you enter, you’ll love the place. The ambiance and the staff were very welcoming. They showed us to our table and suggested some of their specials.

I am enlisting the dishes we had for the ease of reading them:

  1. Soups – Have you ever felt that soup sort of decides your appetite? It is like a performance. If it starts well, it compensates for tiny flaws later on. But if starts bad, you really don’t look forward to anything that comes later.a) Cream of Vegetable Soup -Before I get onto this, I need to tell you about my Grandmother (Ammamma). She is an amazing cook! She is a tough critic and I rarely find her appreciating restaurant food. I guess you know where this is going. She absolutely loved the soup. Her exact words, if translated, would read, “I don’t think I have had a soup this delicious ever. It wasn’t spicy, but it sure was creamy with the right flavors!”
    There is a saying in Tamil, ‘Vasishtar Vayaala Brahmarishi nu Sonna‘. Vasishta is a sage and it is astounding when he mentions another sage in a good manner. (Dear Tamilians, I am really sorry for screwing up the explanation 😛 But you get it right?)b) Naadan Kozhi Soup –

    Naadan Kozhi Soup from Aangan Downtown Restaurant
    Naadan Kozhi Soup

    Which is Kerala chicken soup as prepared with the countryside flavor. Oh my! It was spicy in a good way with flavors that tickled our taste buds. It was quite watery with ample chunks of chicken. If you are looking for something thick and creamy, this one isn’t for you. But, I’d say the naadan kozhi soup is something you should never miss. 😀 By the end of it, I was eagerly waiting for everything we ordered.

  2. Starters – We ordered Chicken 65 and Gobi 65. Well, the choices were too many, we needed both Veg and Non veg and so settled for these. Again, they were really good. They were the kind of ’65’s you get in any good restaurant. No extra flavors.  Crispy Gobi and well seasoned chicken with lots of crispy curry leaves. I am a fan of curry leaves. When they happen to adorn something really delicious, I ensure that the plate is empty. So we did. 😀
  3. Main course –  Our expectations had reached sky high after the starters and the soup that we took a while to decide the main course. There were so many options, high expectation and too less space. If only we could borrow some tummy space from someone 😛
    After much deliberation, we landed on:a) Paneer Kizhi Biriyani for the beautiful lady aka Grandma :* – I did try a morsel and wasn’t very impressed mainly because I am not a fan of the tinge of sweet in normal dishes. Plus, it was a bit too bland for my taste.

    Paneer Kizhi Biriyani from Aangan Downtown
    Paneer Kizhi Biriyani

    b) American Chopsuey – It was served well with a fried egg on top. It was saucy and crispy and yum in the beginning. But as I mentioned earlier, the tinge of sweet began to over-power with each morsel. On the other hand, Mom just loved it! So, I’d say the dish was perfect, just changes with each person’s taste. 🙂

    American Chopsuey

    c) Chicken Steak – Ooh lala! It was very soft, rich in flavour, steaming hot and with the right amount of vegetables on the side. It was a sure winner for the remaining three of us.

    Chicken Steak from Aangan Downtown
    Chicken Steak

Once we were done with our meals, when Ammamma was about to get up to wash her hands, the staff enquired if she needs a finger bowl. It was a very nice and thoughtful gesture. Not only were the staff friendly, but the owner too came up and had a little chat with us. Overall, a foodie-friendly place! 🙂

Food – Too Good (4.9/5)
Ambience – Excellent (5/5)
Pricing – Our bill was Rs. 1200 for 4 which is very reasonable for Cochin standards, the food, the service and the amount we hogged.
Location – Palarivattom, Kochi (Click for the Location on Map)
Favorites – Both Soups and Steak

Aangan - Downtown Multicuisine Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Trip to Kuzhippilly Beach & Narikulam Tharavadu

100 Happy Days – Day 90

I had made a bucketlist 2016 when this year began and one of the elements in it was to make at least 5 trips this year. I don’t think the number went very well. But as unexpected as life could be, I found myself in a few immensely beautiful places a couple of days back – Kuzhippilly Beach, Narikulam Tharavadu and Nedungad Boat Jetty.

Writing professional exams could just wear you off big time. So, the five of us and a qualified CA decided to meet up, spend a night together and go on a trip the next day. Nothing fancy, somewhere in or around Kochi. After a night full of clicking pictures, non-stop chattering and barely few hours of sleep, we drowsily picked ourselves up and went for breakfast. Nothing else could shun your drowsiness better than food. So after the breakfast, we were on fire! We made our way to our first destination. The Kuzhippilly beach.

Lined with pine trees and rusted benches, this beach is more beautiful than the famous Cherai beach. Situated in the outskirts of Kochi, Kuzhippilly beach is around 4 kms (Source: Google Map) away from Cherai. For those who prefer less crowd and more shade, this place is the best option. With lots of tiny brown crabs (I think they are called Sand Crabs) running around and emerging from the sand, and the thatched roof Umbrellas, this is one of the most picturesque beaches near Kochi.

Pine trees at the Beach

We spent about 2 hours in the waters, clicking pictures & walking amidst the shady pine trees. We found a beautiful shell and, after ensuring that the owner had deserted his home, my friend pocketed it.

When the thought of food started creeping into our heads, we made our way to destination number two, the highlight of the trip (Food always comes first) – Narikulam Tharavadu.

A View enroute to Narikulam Tharavadu
Kerala - God's own country
Those white cranes were everywhere!

Tharavadu is generally an ancestral home in Kerala where people lived as a joint family. Nowadays, most of these families have split and live separately, but many of the ancestral homes remain. Situated near St. Augustine Church, Nedungad, Nayarambalam, is the Narikulam Tharavadu. Set amidst the lap of nature, with greenery all around and a canal behind it; they have preserved the house so well that, if you are a Keralite, a wave of nostalgia hits you the moment you enter the premises. Such houses are the true essence of Kerala.

Paul chettan gave us a very warm welcome and patiently explained everything about the place. He answered all our queries, showed us around and made us feel at home. As they went about preparing our food, we were left to explore the place.

One of the things that fascinated me was, the way they had managed waste and artifacts that were no longer in use. They had used dried seeds and parts of the palm tree to decorate the house. We even found two shoes outside with plants in them. They also had grown plants in an old, rusted Kindi (pitcher) and an Aattukallu (Wet Grinder). The base stone, Arakkallu from the grinding Apparatus was used as the base for the pitcher. They gave an aesthetic look, placed around the Nadumuttam (The central area with a meshed ceiling) and never for a second did they seem out of place.

The plant in the pitcher placed atop the base of the grinder. What you see behind is the Nadumuttam.
The plant in the pitcher placed atop the base of the grinder. What you see behind is the Nadumuttam.

My favorite part about these houses is the Nadumuttam. During the day, it is the source of natural light that gives a mellow glow to the surroundings and during the night, you can watch the stars. Don’t get me started on how it looks when it begins to rain. I can’t believe that these houses are dwindling with time!

A peek at the interiors of a typical tharavadu
A peek at the interiors of a typical tharavadu

We spent a lot of time outside, near the canal awed at the abundance of nature, clicking pictures and wondering why we never got to know about this place earlier. A photographer’s paradise, my friends simply couldn’t stop clicking pictures. Our grumbling tummies showed us the way to the dining table and now I’d call it a Foodie’s paradise too!

So we saw this irresistible spread on the table… Er… Isn’t the post getting a bit too lengthy? Besides, I am reminded of all the food we ate that day and I so need a break. I’ll be back with part 2 of this post; all the yummy food and a surprise thereafter. Heads up: The Food part is focused on the Non-vegetarians & it is going to be a bit heavy. So, ensure that you are filled up. If you wish to visit this Homestay, the details will be given in the next post – Narikulam Tharavadu and Nedungad Boat Jetty (Part II)🙂

Image courtesy for the first 3 pics – My dear friend Hrusheekesh Anilkumar

Grandma Tales – Of Food & Coffee

“Ranjini! It is time for food!”, my Ammamma (Grandma) would call out.

I’ll either have lots to write or lots to study. I’ll say okay and continue with my work. She’ll call again after a gap and again 3-4 times, until I go have food. The problem with my studies is that I just can’t abandon it midway and so it takes time for me to have food. Sometimes, even after 12 am and I wouldn’t have had my food.

She would come to my room and softly ask,

“Why haven’t you eaten yet? You’ll have to eat alone. Call me when you do.”

“I’ll eat Ma, I have got some more work to do. You sleep. I don’t need company.”

When I finally go to the kitchen, she’ll hear the sounds in the kitchen and come sit with me. Sometimes, if I persuade her, she goes to sleep. But mostly, she sits with me until I finish eating, ensures that I have my fill and only then does she return to her room. She wouldn’t call me or come to my room after that. Her hunger is satiated once I eat. Her heart is at peace.

Image courtesy:

There was a time when my sister and I used to study overnight for our exams. She had her boards and I had CA exams. One night, it was around 2 am. We were sitting in the dining room, preparing for our exams. Suddenly we heard music from Ammamma’s room. She was humming an old song.

Uthhara Swayamvaram kathakali kanuvan…

She always told me that it was her brother’s favorite song and that he used to sing it very well and so very often. This conversation repeats itself very frequently. And so, every time she listens to, or sings, this song, I know she misses her brother a lot. He passed away around twenty years back and she keeps reminiscing their childhood days.

That night, when I heard her sing, I knew she was missing him. My sister and I decided to go and sit with her for a while. She looked upset as expected. We spoke for some time and soon we were sitting in her room, studying. After a while,

“Do you want coffee?”

“No Ammamma. We chorused.”, we both are coffee lovers. And who wouldn’t want a cup of coffee while working or studying overnight? But we didn’t want to trouble her.

“It’s okay. I’ll make some. It won’t take much time.”

“No. We don’t want it.”

“You have been studying a lot. A cup wouldn’t hurt!”

We again denied it and then,

“If you say yes, I can also have some.”

Now, we were in a fix.

“I’ll make some”, she said and went to the kitchen.

In another fifteen minutes, the three of us were sipping hot black coffee and chatting at an unearthly hour, when half the world was asleep.

Image courtesy:


A Grandma, two grand-daughters and some black coffee ❤

You can read the stories about Ammamma under the Category ‘Grandma Tales’ which you’ll find on the right side of this page. (Scroll down! Scroll down!😀 ) If you don’t find it, just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. If you love my ‘Grandma Tales’, again please leave a comment and I’ll be grinning ear to ear and replying!🙂

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Potatoes, Pickles & Grandma-Fairy dust

On some days, the moment I enter the gate of our apartments the aroma of food wafts in. Especially if it is lunch time. I can easily spot the Aroma from our kitchen because, well, I have known it for 27 years! My, until-then-quiet-&-happy stomach would start grumbling and the tap of my salivary gland would pop open.

My pace increases and I’ll ring the bell. When she opens the door, I’ll ask with excitement;

“What is on the stove? Is that Kaarakuttan?”

She’ll give a smile torn between astonishment, mischief & pride.

“Your nose is an evil thing!”

“It isn’t my nose! It is your gifted hands! I could get the smell from the gates!”

“Shut up! That must be from some other place.” she would pretend to not be affected by my compliments. 😛

I’d go straight to the kitchen, open the lid and inhale all the steam from the dish and Ammamma would smile, “Stop dipping your nose into the dish! Even your cousins have this habit.”

I’ll smile sheepishly and show my stomach the way to bliss 😀


We always say,

“Ammamma should go for all these cookery shows & competitions and she’ll be first everywhere.”

On second thoughts, I’d say,

“No! I don’t want anyone judging her! No one has the right to. No one is good enough to judge her! She is the best and there is no need to prove it. I do not like anyone telling her the food she makes has flaws because the flaw is in their taste buds. Ammamma’s cooking is just perfect!”


Ammamma’s Potato Curry


And that brings me to her Potato curry which is my all time favorite and tops my list. There are distant relatives who reminisce her potato curry and keep telling how yummy it was when they had it years back. She also makes this tangy Vendakka Pachhadi and Mulakoottal. I am a sucker for her Kaarakoottan; again so tangy and spicy that I finish almost half the quantity made for the entire family. Oh! And the avial! She makes cheera avial and the traditional Kerala Avial which I eat for lunch, snacks and dinner. Ya! She makes it in a pressure cooker up to the brim! She has spoilt our taste buds by cooking such yummy food that I just CANNOT have Vegan food from outside. There are always something so many things amiss when the Vegan food is made by someone else. And hence I restrict myself to Paneer in Vegan restaurants. Always a safe bet.


Sometimes, I’ll be sitting with her and she’ll start narrating how certain dishes were made during ‘those days’. As she hops from one dish to another, she’ll describe the preparation of Lemon pickles. Listening to her description, my salivary glands salivate like broken taps!

“They soak these lemons in hot water so that the juice within loosens. They then dry all of them using a towel and make a cut through the centre in such a way that the pieces don’t fully detach. They grind Asafoetida, Fenugreek and dry red chillies; add salt and turmeric powder to the mixture. This mixture is then stuffed well inside these half cut lemons.”

“They then arrange these lemons inside huge Bharani (Ceramic jars used to store pickle). They arrange them tightly together. Now, they heat Gingelly oil and wait for it too cool down a bit. This is poured into the jar in such a way that the oil fully soaks the lemons. They seal the mouth of the jar using wax and leave it in the Garret for 10-15 days. Once in a while, someone would go up and stir the pickle.”

As I sit there imagining tantalising Lemons emerging from orangish-red pickle mixture dripping with oil, my tongue drowning in my saliva, she concludes;

“One tiny piece of this pickle would suffice for a meal!”

Pickle in a Bharani. Image Courtesy: Framed Recipes

When the coffee we make do not come in par with hers, we’d say,

“Ammamma please tell us the last ingredient you use. You definitely do something else that you don’t tell us.”

“I don’t. This is all I do.”

And then, my sister & I discuss.

“Well, then we know what it is. It is her Kaipunyam (Similar to Gifted hands). It is as though there is this taste enhancer oozing from her palm.”

“I know! Maybe she just dips her finger inside the coffee, the taste enhancer enhances it.  That must be it! There is no other explanation!”

Yeah! There is no other explanation! 😀

You can read the stories about Ammamma under the Category ‘Grandma Tales’ which you’ll find on the right side of this page. (Scroll down! Scroll down!😀 ) If you don’t find it, just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. If you love my ‘Grandma Tales’, again please leave a comment and I’ll be grinning ear to ear and replying!🙂

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Grandma Tales


“Whom do you like the most? Your father or your mother?”

This was (and is I guess) a cliched question people asked children. When they used to ask me, I used to think just for a moment and say,

“My Ammamma.”

That is what I call my Grandma. I had been thinking of starting a section on my Grandma in my blog for a long time. But I just didn’t know where to begin. The other day, I posted something relating to her on Facebook and my friends Neetu and Smisha requested me the same thing.

This was the very same day when the Bloggers’ friend Blogchatter announced the #MyFriendAlexa campaign and I was looking for a theme for the campaign. The requests and the campaign were well timed and it seemed like an opportunity to make my wish come true; Starting a section on Ammamma. And so, here I begin The Grandma Tales section!


Grandmothers are visible angels with invisible wings, silver hair, and oodles of cuteness. Have you noticed how stories with Grandmothers are always heart warming?

Ammamma is this adorable surprise package with stories galore! She is funny, smart, hardworking, charming, lovable & a cleanliness freak!!! Ahh… She is much more. She has a painful past, yet the twinkle in her eyes never fades. She has been a strong woman and even in her old age, she stands tall and fights her back pains away! It goes something like,

“Ammamma, stop doing all these unnnecessary chores!”, I’d say. She has to keep doing some job all the time. She can’t sit still.

“I don’t like seeing things like this!”, she’d point at a pretty well arranged cupboard in the kitchen.”

“I am the one doing it. What is your problem? You go study!”, she would shoot.

And that is how she fights her pains 😀

As far as my memory goes, she has been a silver-haired, huggable angel always smelling of Vicco turmeric, Mysore Sandal soap, Ponds talc and home. She is this fuzzy feeling you get when you see babies, puppies and everything loving, nice & cute.

My Tranquilizer

When I am with her, I forget all my worries and I know I am alright. She is like a walking tranquilizer. One hug and there is peace. It is as though she has the power to ward off all my inner turmoils.

Some nights, I go to her room, climb onto her bed and there is a space on her bed that is mine. I find that space, lie down, curl up and snuggle up to her. She’ll either tousle my hair and tell me how I never tie my hair and how bad that is for my hair or run her palm on my hand, find a rash and admonish me for not applying oil on my body. And those few moments are enough to just flush out the entire day’s stress. I always feel I never do enough of that these days due to my studies.

My Naughty Teddy Bear

Do you know what makes her beautiful? Her wrinkles. They are these lines of perfection that make her, her! I can’t imagine her without them.They are so soft, I can’t resist hugging her and kissing her. Man! She hates that. The moment I’m out of eyeshot, she wipes her cheeks. If I see, she’d say,

“I don’t like that, with a sheepish smile.”

Um… she doesn’t do that anymore, though. Maybe that’s because I kiss her and wipe her cheek for her. 😀

I also pull her cheeks and say “Ammamma kuttyyyy!” in a high-pitched voice. She loves that, but never admits it. She’ll feign pain and say, “Even though you’re thin, you are too strong. My cheek hurts. Stop doing that!” and sure enough, there will be a smile that she’d be trying to hide.

It took us a while to understand that she was in fact secretly enjoying many of the things we did for her, while denying them all. She could be a puzzle sometimes. But that is what makes her, her. All those pranks, pretences, love and the care she gives us. Knowing the value of Grandparents, I’d say go spend some time with them today. I’ll do that too. And for those of you who miss having grandparents, I hope you enjoy these posts and that they fill at least an inch of that space. Until next time;


You can read the stories about Ammamma under the Category ‘Grandma Tales’ which you’ll find on the right side of this page. (Scroll down! Scroll down! 😀 ) If you don’t find it, just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. If you love my ‘Grandma Tales’, again please leave a comment and I’ll be grinning ear to ear and replying! 🙂

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My current Global Alexa Rank is 22,06,315. Gotta lose them like losing weight. 😉


Chopstix, Thai & Chinese

My mom is very fond of Chinese cuisines. If given a choice, she always opts for Chinese restaurants to dine out; Chiyang, Malaya etc being her favorites. However, I am not very fond of Chinese food and so, like every mother on Earth, she lets me choose.

When my friend came home a few months back, we decided to try Chopstix – a restaurant at Palarivattom, Kochi. We like the place and the food and so I decided to bring Amma here some day. After months & months of waiting, we got the chance to visit Chopstix again.


As we ascended the stairs to the restaurant on the first floor, a metal embossing of Budhha, placed on the stair walls, caught my eyes.


The restaurant had one side made of glass, giving a view of the urban streets. Apart from the fact that you could know when the traffic at the signal nearby clears (which is very given the rush), it gave a retro ambience. I have always loved that part of the city. The area of Civil line road stretching from Palarivattom circle to the signal. It is almost always crowded due to the signal, but beautiful due to the abundance of greenery. When it is before or after the days, Man! Isn’t it beautiful? Watching it from the first floor, slurping on hot soup would be perfect!

As the name suggests, chopsticks were placed on every table with directions on how to hold them. Every inquisitive person who walks through that door would read the instructions and try to use them. So did we. Until the waiter arrived to take the order, we mastered the art of holding chopsticks and tried our best to make the two ends of each chopstick meet. That was easy. The tough part was picking things using them. My sister managed to lift a fork off the table using chopsticks. 😀

Okay. One stick done, next done, Oops! How was the first?
That’s the way Aha Aha! Or is it?

We ordered Manchow soup, Schezwan chopsuey and crab fried rice. The soup was thick, creamy and rich unlike in most of the places. If you like things spiced up, you must give manchow soup a try.

When we enquired about the chopsueys, they said American was sweet, Chinese was bland and Schezwan was spicy. However when they brought it, Schezwan was spicy but also sweet. It was alright since I liked the flavor. But if you can’t stand sweet in spicy food, you shouldn’t go for it because halfway through the meal, the sweetness begins to overpower everything else.

The crab fried rice tasted similar to normal veg fried rice with chunks of fried crab.  As we finished our food, we were on the lookout for drinks to order and Jasmin tea caught my attention. I wanted to give it a try, but was skeptical about the quantity of tea that would be given. It said a Jasmin tea pot was priced at Rs 90 and we weren’t sure if we would be able to drink it all.

Since they didn’t have much options for drinks, we decided to give it a try. With the first sip, I had mixed feelings. For one, the scent of fresh jasmine flowers was strong and it was queer tasting jasmine flavor after years of smelling it. I liked that part. But the fact that there was no sugar, made me uneasy. With a few more sips of hot jasmine tea, I began to like it and didn’t bother asking for sugar. The liquid was clear and watery with a slight tint of green.

Jasmin Tea and Tea pot

The pot had tea for six. Since we are generally tea and coffee lovers, having two cups is no biggie. Besides the cups were super-cute and tiny with no handles. I wonder if it’s a Chinese thing. The restaurant closes at 3.30 PM but the staff were patient with us. Once the place was devoid of customers and it was ten to four, we realized that we were holding them back. We drank the tea quickly, apologized, thanked them and took our leave.

PS -If you are wondering where the images of food in the food review post are, we were busy hogging that the dishes were half empty before I realised that I had to take pictures. Hence the compensatory pictures were taken afterwards 😛

Chopstix Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Delving into Kesari

Kesari is one of the easiest sweets to prepare. Let me assure you, there is no compromise on the taste. Kesari is the oblique yellow sunshine melting in your mouth. For me, Kesari smells like home with the rich aroma of ghee and fried cashews.

Are you thinking about any of those relatives who cannot have too much sweet? To make it healthier, Kesari could also be prepared using Sugar-free Natura instead of sugar. Here is how:


  1. Sugar Free Natura – 25 Pellets
  2. Semolina (Rava) – 1 cup or 250 g
  3. Ghee – 1 cup and a few extra tea spoon-full.
  4. Water – As required
  5. Cashew – A few
  6. Kismis – A few
  7. Yellow edible color
  8. Cardamom powder – One-fourth tea spoon


How to Prepare:

  1. Fry the semolina in 3-4 teaspoons of ghee. Keep frying until it turns light brown. Keep it aside.
  2. In 2 teaspoons of ghee, fry cashews and kismis until they turn brown. Keep them aside.
  3. In half a cup water, add the Sugar free pellets and heat the water. Keep stirring until the pellets melt.
  4. Add the fried semolina to this mixture and keep stirring to avoid formation of lumps.
  5. Add half cup of water, the remaining ghee, yellow color and  cardamom powder.
  6. Keep stirring until the mixture turns thick and the ghee begins to float on top.
  7. Garnish with the fried cashews and kismis. Serve hot.


Kesari is a very common sweet prepared here for festivals like Deepavali, Navratri, Karthikai and also they serve it for marriages and functions. But you don’t have to wait for another occasion to prepare this. Do it right now with the above handful of dishes and let me know if you liked it. 🙂

Explosions in My Mouth

100 Happy Days – Day 57

Happiness is Thairvada! 😀

Thair/Dahi = Curd
Uzhunnu = Urad Daal
Vada = Vada 😛

I used to hate Uzhunnuvada. I did not like its taste and so, whenever Amma bought Vada, she bought Parippuvada for me.

I don’t remember when it happened, but one fine day I ate thairvada and I liked it. I wasn’t too fond of it. But didn’t mind eating them.

Soon after this, I left to Puttaparthi to complete my schooling. Those were the days of group studies and ‘night foods’. Since 10th & 12th class students had so much to study, we had a fifth meal which was our night food. We used to wait restlessly for the call and it used to come around 10 PM. We used to run to the dining hall excitedly.

Among other things, they gave us bread & malai, fruits and of course our topic of discussion – Thairvada (aka Dahivada)! We knew the Dahi vada day. If we had Idli & Vada for breakfast, that night’s ‘night food’ would be Dahi vada. They make extra vadas for breakfast & soak them in curd for the night.

As we walk in, we could see a lot of red adorning the white base. The chilly powder sprinkled atop the dahi looked delicious. The crispy vada soaked in curd simply exploded in our mouth. I can never forget the trays of vadas arranged neatly in the dining hall.

It has been very very long since I had Dahi vada. When my craving reached its peak, Amma bought some yesterday from Brindavan. 😀
I wasn’t satisfied by the looks and so, I sprinkled some chilly, chopped some coriander and garnished it.

Dahi vada with boondi

Don’t worry. It looks very enticing but it wasn’t that tasty 😦 But it was tasty enough for a Dahivada deprived tongue 😛

Side view of the model 😛

The best Dagi vada I have had in Kochi is from BTH (Kaloor Coffee House). Unfortunately, they closed down. If someone knows where I could get some instant, yummy Dahi vada, please let me know. I’ll think of you when I eat. Promise! 😀

Bottled Memories

There was one portion of my cupboard that we had always ignored to clean. The lowermost section. Today, we decided to just do it.

We had shoved many games in there – Chess, Business, Connect Four, Sorry, some of my childhood toys, Badminton rackets etc. There was a huge carton in which I had saved my high school sports dresses, books etc.

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The Carton

There was a white shawl in which my friends had written some farewell notes for me. We did that in our 12th standard. I wrote in many of my friends’ white shawls and they did the same for me. I had completely forgotten about it. Now as I look back, it was a wonderful idea. 🙂




One of the most interesting things that I found there was a perfume bottle. I used that perfume in college. The smell is one of a kind and so I was sure that I wont be using another perfume that has the same smell. It was my college perfume and whenever I used it, I got the 8 am, hostel room, pulling each others’ legs  feeling. So, when the perfume was almost over, I didn’t throw the bottle. I wanted to smell it and remember those days.





Bottled Memories 🙂

100 Happy Days – Day 42

Happiness is capturing memories in a bottle.

Smells trigger memories. This gesture of mine was similar to bottling up memories. That is what I did then, unknowingly. Yesterday, I opened the bottle and stepped into my past.

Whenever something nice happens, if there is a smell around that I love, I relate that moment to that smell so that I can relive that moment every time I get that fragrance.

The best part of the cleaning was when my sister and I sat down exhausted and I said that I felt like eating Pizza. We  never made such spontaneous decisions specially when it involved spending too much. But yesterday we just felt like it. My sister offered to pay from her savings since I was broke after all the Sisters’ Day Out bashing.

I want to put it this way. We were very tired after cleaning the room and my sister bought me pizza. 😀 It was the most beautiful feeling.20150714_164924


I guess I have saved this memory in a box of pizza and every time I open one, I’ll remember this. 🙂

Some Yummilicious Dishes From Gokul Oottupara

Rocky and Mayur have ventured out to explore food from all parts of India and curate videos on  I’m contributing my part by relishing my favorite dishes at Gokul Oottupura and sharing my views with you all!

You can also upload your video review on AskMe and stand a chance to meet Rocky and Mayur.


Located at one of the most busiest streets in Kadavantra, Gokul Oottupura is hard to miss with its straw curtains, brick colored painting and traditional South Indian Kolam designs. The ethnic look and the reputation of serving tasty vegetarian food, has people flocking into the place at all times.

I have had almost all kinds of food from this place since I had my classes and office at Kadavantra. Here are few of their most delicious dishes:

1. CHAAT – If you despise having chaat from the street, you can visit one of the Oottupuras.

Handpicked Specialities in Chaat
: Sev Puri, Dahi Puri, Papdi Chaat & Assorted Chaat.

I have been a fan of their assorted chat. I forced some of my friends to try it and trust me, there was a time when my entire officemates were gaga over the place. It is one of the best chat places that I have been to in Kochi. While you are at it, do try their Pav Bhaji too.

2. Paneer Butter Masala – I have a friend who loves this dish and whenever we decide to meet for lunch, it is always Gokul and we always order paneer butter masala. They truly mean what they make by using lots of paneer, lots of butter and masala in the right amount. The place earned me a PBM friend 😀

3. Chilli Gobi dry – Hear this. I always loved their crispy, mouth-watering chilli gobi dry. My friends and I decided to have lunch from here one day. One among us said he didn’t want anything to eat. We persuaded him to have at least a bit. He just refused no matter what. We ordered a Gobi dry fry and visibly, he couldn’t resist the looks and the smell. He went, “That does smell so good. What are you having? Could you get me 2 chappattis?”. The last part of teh sentence was aimed at the waiter.

4. Idiappam and Kadala (Bengal gram) – We had classes from 7 to 9 am and then office at 9.30 am. So invariably, Gokul was our breakfast hangout. Being a Kochiite, I had known the taste of their kadala long before i joined classes. Let us just say that my friends who always had ghee roast began to order Idiappam kadala after tasting some off my plate. The kadala is prepared with the richness of coconut and masala in the typical Kerala style.

5. Sambar Idli  I am from a Tambrahm household and we are proud about our cooking skills. My grandmother’s South Indian dishes are very famous and so, I know the difference between a good sambar and a bad one. Trust me. The Sambhar Idli in Oottupura is a must try. I admit there isn’t anything extra. It is just plain idli and plain sambar. In a bowl of sambar, they soak the idlis and give us. But slicing the idli pieces that are soaking in a bowl of sambar and placing them on your tongue, that feels different and good.

Try out these dishes sometime and you will know why the tables are always full here. Over the years, the rates have been increasing which has affected students like us. But if anyone asks me for a good vegetarian restaurant, this will be my first suggestion. 🙂

Do let me know if you visit and like this dishes.

Gokul Oottupura Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Day 34 – Cafe Mania

100 Happy Days – Day 34

Happiness is finding new cafes.

Coffee at home

Coffee mania runs in our family. Like any typical TamBrahm household, we too wake up to the heady aroma of the extra-ordinary FILTER COFFEE. My grandmother’s coffee is one of its kind. When she prepares the decoction, I feel like I’m living in a huge coffee bean. When I drink her coffee, I believe that is how stars taste.

Coffee at office or restaurants

Once I step out, I don’t order coffee in restaurant or drink any from office. I want my coffee to be perfect and I order one only if I am sure of its reputation. While doing my article-ship, we had a client famous for their coffee. I always opted for that audit because, morning and evening, the coffee they served tasted so good. Not starry, but close enough. (Yeah I am more coffee oriented than carrier oriented :P)


I am a cafe maniac due to the coffee varieties and combinations available, the aroma and the ambiance. Plus, I love trying out unique drinks and snacks. Whenever I pass by new places, I note all the cafes on that route. If any of those look appealing, I add them to my list. So far, in Cochin, these are the cafes I have visited:

  1. Coffee Always
  2. CCD Ravipuram
  3. CCD Shenoys
  4. Coffee cube
  5. Coffee bean
  6. Chaicofi
  7. Chillax
  8. Coffeel
  9. Cocoa tree
  10. Canopy
  11. Coffee lounge
  12. Fort Cafe
  13. Kahawa Bistro
  14. Lokah Cafe
  15. French Toast (Bakery & Cafe)

Woah! Trust me! It is now that I truly realize that I am a cafe maniac. Today, I visited a new cafe – Tonico cafe at Kakkanad. The ambiance was good. They had some cute quotes and posters around, a smoking zone which attracts many youngsters and some free WiFi that attracts the rest.

But what caught my attention was the make of their menu. Made of wood, the menu had a unique touch.

Check this tablet

Looking out for something different, we ordered two chillers – Guava and Black currant.  Both tasted incredible, though I was more attracted to the purple colored black currant.


Guava and Black currant chillers

I had taken UNO cards with me to teach my friend the rules. The waiter came over and told us that cards weren’t allowed there. I was pretty bummed when I learnt that a place that allowed smoking, didn’t allow playing cards.

This gives another point for home coffee. My grandmother doesn’t stop me from playing UNO at the coffee table. 😛 Oh! Who am I kidding, no matter how many cafes I visit, how many coffees I drink, my grandmother’s coffee will be the starriest. :-*

Cheers to all the drinks we have had and all those we will be having! 😀

Day 26 – Sharing Knowledge

100 Happy Days – Day 26

Happiness is sharing your knowledge

The Kaliyuga has become so intense that even the air we breath, which was pure and in abundance once, has become impure. There is untruth, deception and the greed for money, power and fame everywhere that we are killing ourselves little by little while finding shortcuts to access wealth.

During such times, all we laymen can do is to help each other. A simple act of sharing could go a long way. In our busy schedule, we barely find time to help others or share what we know. So today, when I found this, I decided to spread some happiness and safety by sharing it. Given below is a list of things you could do to see whether your food is adulterated.


I would like to inform you all that I haven’t tried any of these techniques and I do not vouch for them. But I shared these because I found this in the Times of India site and the tips have been given by the food safety analysts. I believe that is authentic enough. Besides, there is no harm in testing them out. My point is simple:

When the companies, in greed for money, go to such low extent and poison us, we, to preserve our health, could as well go the extra mile to save ourselves.

If any of you try out these methods, please do inform me here. Meanwhile, I will carry out these experiments and finally write a post with my discoveries. That would be healthy and fun! Who knows? We might just expose some of the famous faces. 😛

Aha! Detective Rangelz to the rescue!

Until then, take care, stay happy, experiment and eat well. 🙂