Autumn · Chat Over Chai · Expat Life · How to · Life · Life style · New Zealand · Seasons · small things · South Island · Winter

Chat over Chai #1

Hi Everyone

The idea to start the Chat over Chai series, has been on my mind for a while now. In spite of sharing a lot on the blog, I felt a certain disconnect, so I’m going to try a bit of blogging like old times.

This is basically simply a catch up series ; to connect a little bit more, by offering a sneak peak into things happening in my life , to chat about things I’m really enjoying ; on the crafty side , slow living , cooking , current favourites – different things , I can share to make note of, look back on , enjoy and be inspired to grow and thrive.

You might want to grab a cup of chai (tea or coffee – whatever you prefer) for this one

This year, Autumn and Winter went by really fast and we are into Spring which is really like being in a whole new world.

It’s just so lovely seeing the world come alive with birds chirping , flowers blooming , there seems to be an aura of gaiety in the air.

While I have struggled a lot with the colder months, I have learnt that slowing down and doing a few extra things, that I normally never did otherwise during these months, helped me a lot to keep up my good spirits.

How did my version of Slowing down look like?

Slowing Down

This was pretty much my every day routine during the cold months. I’m sharing it on my blog hoping that it will help someone feeling down as the temperatures, daylight and sunshine go down

  • Making my cup of tea, taking time to sit down and enjoy drinking it , feeling the warmth of my tea , warm up my body
  • Look out my door , make note of the sunlight flooding the mountains with its golden glow or the clouds completely cover up the mountains
  • Send Steve off to school,
  • Snuggle with my baby Amber, listening to my favourite gospel music, reading the Bible and praying
  • Taking time to shower and get dressed in presentable clothes in the morning with care, put on my favourite perfume,
  • Go for a walk once in a while with Amber
  • Do a bit of skin care once a week
  • Gratitude Journal every week
  • Use Bargain box for dinner ( this way, I did not have to do much meal planning but still had the recipes and the ingredients ,had a chance to try something new and different.
  • In the evenings, I often lighted up some lovely scented candles, put on some dreamy jazz music , kept the heat pump on and cooked dinner.
  • I added fairy lights where every I could, added cushions and throws to create cozy and warm around me.
  • Once a week I went out for brunch with my friends, or invited them over to just chat over home made ginger chai, it felt good to have those little moments of just sharing and enjoying the friendships
  • I joined a low impact exercise class which helped immensely as well.
  • Some days when I just did not feel up to it, I just let go, ordered food from Uber Eats and spent time with my kids watching re runs of Castle lounging on the sofa.

Weekends were a little bit different. We slept in , cooked some delicious meals to last at least a couple of days so that when I felt uninspired to cook, there was something to heat up and eat ready at hand.


I’m sharing these here in the hope that it will help someone who needs it. However these are not set in stone things to do, do what soothes your soul the most .

How do you cope with the Colder Months?

If you also do some of these things please share them with me.

Or if you have some other things that helped you cope through the colder months, please share them as well.

Talk later

lots of love


Briyani · Cooking · How to · Recipes · Rice

How to make J’s chicken Briyani

biriyani 2Briyani or Biriyani or Birinani as Big B calls it, is a family favourite. Specially for Big B ,it has been his favourite ever since he was a wee little boy . My mom loves making it for him whenever we are there.Left to himself,he will eat it three times a day ,all year.

Briyani being a tasty one pot meal that gets ready in no time once the preparations are done, J has taken it upon himself to make it often during the weekends for lunch or dinner. Thought I will share the recipe with my readers as  we all love this version.

Ingredients to serve 4 

375 gms Chicken ( we like to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs.)

250 gms Basmati rice

2 Onions  thinly sliced

3 tbsp Greek yogurt

2tsp chill pd

1 tsp coriander pd

1/4 tsp turmeric pd

1/2tsp Garam masala

1small bunch fresh coriander leaves

2 green chillies

2 bay leaves

1″ stick cinnamon

2 cloves

4 garlic

1″ ginger

2tsp ghee/oil

1tsp oil

1/4 cup Kara coconut milk.



Make a fine paste of ginger and garlic using a pestle n mortar.

Take chicken in a bowl , add the yogurt, chilli powder, coriander pd, Garam masala powder, ginger garlic paste , salt and 1tsp oil. a little chopped coriander. Half of the whole spices.Mix well and keep aside for 1/2 an hour.

Wash the rice and soak for 10 mins.( ideally soak the rice just when you start preparing the cooking )

In a skillet, pour 1tsp ghee add one half of the onion and sauté till they turn golden brown. Keep aside.

PicMonkey Collage 1.2

In a pressure cooker, pour 1tsp ghee, add other half of the whole spices, when they splutter add the other half of the onions.

When they turn pink, add in the marinated chicken . Sauté for 5 minutes. Add 1 and 3/4 cup water. Allow the water to boil . When the water boils add the coconut milk and just as it begins to boil add the rice, and coriander leaves.. Mix once and close. When the steam comes, place the weight, cook for 10 mins.

After 10 mins, let the pressure come down completely . Open .sprinkle the fried onions. Serve with cucumber raita.


Cucumber Raita

1 medium cucumber

1/2 cup greek yoghurt

1 small green chilli

1 sprig mint leaves

salt to taste


Chop the cucumber into small cubes. Beat the yoghurt till smooth. Add the diced cucumber , finely chopped green chilli and mint leaves. Season with salt. Chill and serve.




Accessories · cowl · Crafts · Crochet · Free Pattern · Handmade · How to · Lifestyle

Keffiyah  Cowl

If you knew me in real life, you would probably have  heard me say that I love cowls a lot . I prefer them over scarves because of how you don’t have to fuss with them like you would a scarf if it gets out of place.

When I finished this  cowl and posted on Instagram , there were a couple of people who said it looked like the Keffiyah , the distinct red and white Kuwaiti headdress and asked for the pattern.

I decided write down the pattern and call it the Keffiyah cowl as it was indeed inspired by the Kuwaiti headdress .

It is really a very simple pattern to make


. I used Heritage Organic Merino yarn  a light worsted weight yarn

Melon Sorbet  50 Gm X 1.25skeins

Ecru 50 Gm X 1.5 skeins


(US instructions )

SC = single crochet

DC= double Crochet

SL ST= slip stitch

CH= chain

With  Melon , CH 27

Row :1  SC in second ch from hook, DC in next ch, ( sc in next ch, dc in next ch) , repeat () till the end.

Change Colour to Ecru , ch 1, turn

To change colour, at the end of the row, draw through the new colour in the last loop of the final dc or sc in the row.

Alternatively, you can also carry the yarn through . In which case you will need more yarn.

Row :2 Sc in first dc, dc in next sc ( sc in next stitch , DC in next sc) Repeat ( ) until the end of the row.

Repeat row 2 until desired length , making sure your last row is the colour that is opposite to your starting colour.

Whip stitch the short ends together . Weave in all loose ends.

For the Scallop Edging

Start the edging at the point where the joining ends. Along the wider side of the cowl, make ch3, 2 DC  in the 3rd ch from hook. Skip two stitches . Sl st in the next stitch. Repeat around. Finish off.

Do the same on the other long side. Weave in the ends .

Cooking · How to · Recipes · Soup · Winter

How to make Pepper Rasam aka Milagu Rasam

rasamRasam is another one of  those recipes that I make often during Winter. With the flu virus doing the rounds in our home, I make pepper rasam almost everyday! Served with piping hot rice, scrambled eggs and papadam, it is one of our favourite comfort food  .
Sometimes I just like to drink it as it is so soothing to the throat.Trust me,it really is simple yet wonderful cure for cold and chest congestion.
Even though there are so many varieties of Rasam, I make milagu rasam or Pepper Rasam often because of how easy it is to make.

In traditional tamil feast, rasam was often served after Sambar a lentil based vegetable stew , to aid with digestion .My dad often said that to earn the title of a good cook , one had to first learn to make a good rasam.  For according to him, getting the flavours right for this very simple dish was an art in itself.

Ingredients to serve 4

rasam 3


To grind Coarsely
1 1/2 tsp whole black pepper
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 cloves garlic

To season
1 tsp ghee/oil,
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
2 dry red chillies
Curry Leaves

1 small tomato.
a gooseberry size of tamarind
Coriander Leaves a few sprigs (torn with hands not chopped)


Soak Tamarind in 1 cup of hot water for about five minutes and take out the pulp. Keep aside.

Take a cup of water in a bowl,Cut Tomato into four pieces , add salt, microwave on high for one minute. Mash the boiled tomato roughly and Keep aside

Mix the tamarind pulp water ,boiled mashed tomato water and the coarsely ground mixture. Add one more cup of water. Keep aside.

In a sauce pan heat oil/ghee, add mustard seeds, asafoetida ,dry chillies and curry leaves. Let it splatter, Now add the pepper water to it. Keep on the stove until just before it starts to boil.Do not allow to boil.

In the serving bowl, add the coriander leaves,salt to taste. Pour in the Pepper rasam over the coriander leaves and salt into the bowl.Serve hot with rice or drink as soup.


DSC ras

Beverages · Cooking · Drink · How to · Recipes · Winter

How to make Turmeric Pepper Milk

turmeric milk.jpgTurmeric in the Tamil language is  called Manjal, which when directly translated means yellow. Obviously the name came from the colour of the spice. Not only was Turmeric or Manjal a commonly used ingredient in  almost all our south Indian preparations , it is also often used as a home remedy.

When we were little and hurt ourselves when playing,and there was blood involved, the wounds were washed and dressed with a mix of crushed small shallots and turmeric.Women applied turmeric paste on their faces to protect the skin from acnes and other skin blemishes. The most common medicinal use however, is for common cold and cough.

Whenever we got the sniffles or scratchy throat, during the monsoon season in India, my mum always  made manjal paal aka  turmeric pepper milk for us to drink . Although I did not appreciate it much during childhood, I appreciate it a lot now as I find it very smoothing with its amazing healing properties for cold , sore throat and cough during Winter here.

Since Winter is the season where these ailments are largely rampant in most homes, I thought I will share this simple but very effective time tested  Winter remedy with my readers  here today.

Ingredients to serve 1

ingrMilk :   1 cup

Turmeric :1/2 tsp

Black Pepper: 1/4 tsp

raw sugar/honey or palm jaggery to taste.


In a small saucepan, take milk.Heat on medium heat uncovered, until almost boiling.Add in turmeric and black pepper. Stir well.Reduce heat  and  and let it simmer for  five minutes. When the spices have blended evenly with the milk , remove from flame.Add raw sugar/honey or palm jaggery to taste. Serve warm.


Cookbook Scribbles

Turmeric milk also aids  with getting a goodnight’s sleep at night.

Cooking · Fish · How to · Recipes · Sea Food

Dry Masala Fish

serve Growing up , I never knew that cooking a recipe from a cookbook was looked down upon as the hallmark of a bad cook!

I was the typical eager beaver tween trying out recipes from magazines and random recipes book I happened to chance upon, in my grandparent’s kitchen.
My grandparents ,my parents , my brother , cousins , uncles and aunts were very indulgent and appreciated all the efforts  that went into following a recipe from a cook book and  presenting the dish at the table.I had no clue I could go wrong with a recipe from a recipe book.Not because every recipe I tried was a success, but because there was always someone aka my mom at hand, ready to help and convert the dish into something edible .

It was only early into my married life that I heard disparaging remarks about the connection between bad cooks and recipe books! Since it was not from J, I did not care about those remarks. I happily carried on with my penchant for trying out recipes from Recipe books with J cheerleading me  and being a willing guinea pig for all my attempts.Later when the children came along, they also joined us on the culinary journeys we undertook through these recipe books.
Not only did it expose us to a variety of  regional  Indian and International cuisines.It has also helped us learn quite a lot about different cultures and be open to new ideas.

With age and experience I kind of know which ones will work or won’t .what to add and what to leave out so that it will satisfy the tastebuds of my family.

My family  is the ultimate touchstone for the recipes I try. If they give the thumbs up, the recipe goes into my Cookbook, if its thumbs down, then I never make it again.

The other day at the library I chanced upon Madhur Jaffrey’s book and decided to check it out in the hopes of trying out new recipes. I gave the book to the boys and asked them to choose a recipe each from the book.

Big B was hoping to find a recipe for Butter Chicken which sadly this book did not have. Lil B is fond of fish and so he chose the Dry Masala Fish recipe.


The recipe, turned out to be one of those easy and quick , no fuss , yummy preparation that everyone loved.

Recipe adapted from “100 Essential Curries”by Madhur Jaffrey

Ingredients to serve 4

Salmon Loins- 250 grams
Salt to taste
Turmeric Powder – 1 tsp
Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
Garam Masala Powder – 2tsp
Ginger -1/2 ” grated
Garlic – 2 cloves-grated
Lemon Juice  -1 tsp
Greek Yoghurt -2 tablespoon
Vegetable Oil enough to smear on fish.


Rub salt on the washed and dried fish filets.Keep aside for 10 mins.Mix yoghurt,lemon juice,the tumeric powder,chilli powder,garam masala powder
grated ginger and garlic .Rub this mixture on to the fish fillets on both sides so the masala is spread evenly on both sides.
Place the fish on a baking sheet on the oven tray.Drizzle oil on top and keep aside..
Now preheat the oven in the grill setting at 185 degrees C.When the oven is sufficiently hot, place the oven tray in the middle in oven

Grill on one side till it becomes slightly brown, turn to the other side to get the same colouring.fishRepeat turning once more until it is golden brown evenly on both sides.

Serve hot.DSC_0117

Beverages · Cooking · How to · Recipes

How to Make Ginger Chai

ginger chai 2Growing up in a home  dominated by staunch coffee drinkers, I cannot remember where my love for a good cup of tea came from.I did not fancy the karupatti kappa that was offered at evening snack  time , so skipped drinking coffee altogether.J is not a coffee or tea drinker either and so I did not have the need to make ritualistic early morning coffee in  our home.

It was in Pondichery that I was introduced to masala chai along with a spicy plate of kothu parrota .Still there was never the ritualistic tea making in our home until we came to NZ!

A couple of years back,when we were in India ,my aunt introduced me to Red Label Nature Care tea  and it turned out to be my go to drink during the really cold first winter in Christchurch. My comfort drink for homesickness and warmth !

When I had finished the tea stash I brought with me from India,my search for Nature Care Tea all over Christchurch came to nothing. I was relieved I found the Red Label tea here. I just add ginger or cardamon and I’m good to go!

Since I have grown to love my cup of chai so much I thought I will share it on the blog for my readers (if any!) to make at home as its pretty easy and quick.

Ingredients to serve 2


Water :  1 1/2 cup

Milk :    1/2 cup

Fresh Ginger : 2″ piece

Tea  Powder  :2.5 tsps

Sugar as per taste


Crush the ginger. Add it to the water in a saucepan and allow to boil till you can smell the aroma of the ginger come through.Add the tea  powder and allow to simmer for a couple of minutes. Add in the milk .Switch off the flame. Let it sit  for a minute. Strain into a cup with a tea strainer.Add sugar as required. Serve piping hot!





Cook Book Scribbles

  • A good cup of ginger chai goes well with a hot plate of pakoras or bhajis.
  • Any loose tea dust can be used  to make this tea.
Crochet · Doilies · Free Pattern · Handmade · How to · Life style

The crochet edging pattern

I’m posting this edging pattern separately so that it will be easy to find , if you want to use it some time.

So this is what I did.

Start in one of the sc in the previous row,

Ch 3, 1 dc, *(Ch 4, Sl st in the 3rd ch from hook, Ch 3, Sl st in 3rd ch from hook , Ch 3,Sl st in 3rd Ch from hook, Ch 1, 2dc.)* then

2 dc, repeat from * to *. Finish off.