Cooking · India · Recipes · Sea Food · South India · Tamil Nadu · Tirunelvelli

Tirunelveli Simple Prawn Masala

Prawns are a family favourite .Ever since we discovered, frozen deveined prawns in our local supermarket, I always try to have some in my freezer so that I can make this recipe quickly. This recipe is so simple and and so easy to make , goes really with curd rice, sambar rice or with rasam and rice that I make it when I am lost for ideas to make for dinner.

Ingredients :

250 gms Shelled and deveined Prawns

1 cup chopped Red Onion ,( I like to use shallots or pearl onions)

1 cup chopped tomatoes

1 tsp Fennel seeds

1 tsp red chilli powder ( I use medium spicy)

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1 tbsp ginger garlic paste

a handful of chopped coriander leaves

2 sprigs curry leaves if available

a little less than 1/4 cup water

2 tbsps sesame oil

Salt to taste

Method :

Heat oil in a skillet.

Add the fennel seeds and curry leaves if available. Let them splutter.

Add the chopped onions. Let them become nearly caramelised.

Add ginger garlic paste, sauté till the raw smell goes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, sauté until mushy.

Add in all the powders, sauté until the raw smell goes and oil separates

Pour in the water, let it cook for a minute

Add salt

Add the prawns, let the masala coat over them and the prawns turn a little pink.

Cover and let it cook for a few minutes.

Cook until the prawn are well cooked but not over cooked

Then open the cover , increase the temperature on the stove, ( or flame to medium high) let the water evaporate a little and the masala becomes semi thick.

Garnish with coriander leaves .Serve.

Cook Book Scribbles

Keep track of how much water you add by adding a little at a time as the prawns release some water too when covered.

I also used dried curry leaves because I did not have fresh ones at hand.

Edited to add the video version as well

Cooking · Recipes · South India · Vegan · Vegetarian

Potato Fry

Potato fry is a very simple dish that my children absolutely adore. So much  so, that for the almost one year that we stayed in India, they took it for lunch with curd rice. Almost every single day!! Yes, almost every single day! May sound a little weird but that’s how much they loved it and still do.

I have a video tutorial to go with this recipe . You can check it out here.


Ingredients :

2tbsp  Oil

1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds/Black Gram

2 cloves Garlic (crushed)

A pinch Asafoetida

1 large Red Onion Chopped

4 medium Potatoes Chopped ( Soak chopped pieces in water)

1/4 tsp Turmeric powder

1 tbsp Sambar Powder

Salt to tasteDSC_0897

Method :

Take a pressure pan or a thick bottomed pan.Add 2tbsps of oil, add mustard seeds and asafoetida.DSC_0917Add Chopped onions, sautés till pink.DSC_0919 Drain water and add the chopped potato pieces.DSC_0923Wait for a minute. Add turmeric powder, Sambar powder, and sauté till the potato pieces are well cooked. Sprinkle a little water if necessary. When the potato pieces are dry and look fried, remove from stove.DSC_0930

Serve with curd rice , sambar rice or rice and rasam, or lemon riceDSC_0942








Books · India · Lifestyle · Musings · South India

Piece of the past

Staying temporarily at your mother’s place means finding long forgotten treasures , pictures and books.

The other day, I caught a glimpse of a very much loved book from my childhood and was washed over with nostalgic memories.

Mummy patty,my maternal grandmother, was a great story teller.She told us stories everyday when we were little, after dinner time.


I  can just close my eyes, and  the little scene,  stamped so vividly in my mind comes alive like it happened yesterday!

My two little cousins, my brother  and  I sitting around her in small chairs in a semi circle, while she sat on her bed.

We sat there mesmerized, eyes glued to her face, as she transported us to a whole new world of Elves and dwarfs,of cyclops , Ulysses,Medusa, Hercules, Snowwhite, Cinderalla, 

Rapunzel,the Ugly Duckling, the humble homes of Hansel 

and Gretel and the Shoemaker… weaving magic with her words.

I recall being fascinated by the story of the shoemaker and the shoemaking elves. … the tiny clothes they were presented with , wondering why they did not return after that


 …  I used mull over where they lived, how their homes looked and so on.

Story time with patty is one of my favorite childhood memories and the Shoe maker and the elves was my favorite fairytale.

Mybookhouse in the nursery

As I turned the pages of this very old book, careful not to crumble the already crumbling pages, I realized that it was she who first kindled in us , my brother and I the desire to read…. I recollect being thrilled to discover that the stories she told us and the poems she taught us…  were all in this book!

And perhaps the love of shoes in me too.Because every time I looked at beautiful shoes,  I imagined in my eight year old mind that shoemaking elves made them!

Did you have a favorite fairy tale growing up? Did someone read to you or tell you stories? Do you remember who inspired in you the love of books? Please do share.Pi

India · Lifestyle · Road Trip · South India · Travel

Bent not broken


I was going to write about our impromptu trip to Cochin and our long awaited trip to Pondicherry. The glorious time we had in these places, enjoying the company of J who was visiting India for some work assignments in Cochin.

Revisiting our old favorite places in Pondicherry. Reliving fond memories , eating at our old favorite regulars and doing a wee bit of shopping there.

There were a few more places we wanted to visit. I wanted the children to know their culture and their heritage, the history of the land they come from.  And then something totally unexpected happened and all  of our other travel plans came to a screeching halt! 

On fourth May mid afternoon ,when we were returning from Pondicherry , going towards Thanjavur, a bus coming from the opposite end of the road, didnot see our little car coming in the curve of the road , overtook a bus in front, and collided head on into our car. By Gods great mercy , we all came out alive to tell the tale of the mishap without a single broken bone!Oh yes , there was blood ;lots of it and shattered glass everywhere. A disbelief that it really happened that followed, when  the what really happened message, reached the brain. A bus load of kind strangers stopped to help us even as the bus that hit us fled the scene; and I couldn’t remember where we were coming from or going to!

Being stranded in the middle of nowhere , our car smashed up  completely in the front, my severely bleeding mom , my stuck in the car and  visibly upset dad,my hysterically crying nine year old, my unfazed fifteen year old ( who usually screams he’s bleeding to death on sight of a drop of blood!) offering words of encouragement and comfort to my parents, standing like a rock support by me, running around to gather our things , unaware of the fact that he himself had a deep cut on his leg that required four stitches,complete strangers who were nothing short of Angels in disguise  rushing to help us , with not even one person trying to take advantage of the situation,the ride in the ambulance to an unknown hospital, the kind doctors, the exploitive hospital helpers, help from unknown quarters,my children sleeping on the hospital floor without a murmur or a sigh for the first time ever, my cousins  rushing  to my help early next morning  ,after a coincidendal call one of them made to me, while I was waiting for my mom to finish her CT Scan. Taking over from me completely from there…are some of the things ,I know,  are not going  to get erased out of my mind  in a haste.

This incident will also stay in my mind for ever as the one point where I realized that there was a role reversal happening .It was time to take over the charge of handling things. There was no one but us-my cousins and I  

to handle things and we had to step up to the plate! and we did just that We’ve seen our parents take care of their parents and us and it  somehow it never struck me, we will be there one day doing just that! 

When I hear of stories of how entire families have died in accidents, how severely injured people were robbed by way side dacoits,( who I am told lay in wait for accidents to happen )   I shudder and thank God over and over again for protecting us through the mishap .Even though our car was completely crushed  and  is useless now, I cannot be grateful enough for having each of my family alive and well.

Crafts · Embroidery · Family · Finished Objects · Handmade · Home Decor · Home Making · Home Sewn · India · Life · South India · Tamil Nadu

Easter Happenings

I  finished my Easter Egg stitchery, like I was hoping to.

EasterEgg 3

 I found the link to the stitchery by chance on Facebook .

Easter Egg 4

Being a complete green horn , I was so excited to learn  a few new stitches with this stitchery and definetly  fell in love with the double herringbone stitch!

There is a  neat tutorial here

I also added some bling with the stones and fabric glue that I had at hand.

Easter Egg 01

I wanted to finish it into a mini quilt,mini quilts have caught my fancy lately, but I have not set my rotary cutting mat and machine ready to sew. One of these days, I will get down to it.Until then it will have to stay on the hoop.

Easter Egg 2

The boys took part in their Annual School Day celebrations and had to practice really hard for it.

The Event was on Easter Sunday . My parents and I attended the early morning Church service, at 4 a.m. , had to prepare breakfast  and lunch quickly and had to take them to school for their final practice.

At the school event,Big B gave the welcome address.

Big b welcome address 

and also took part in the School play The Bishop’s Candlesticks

Bishops candlesticks

Lil B gave the Vote of Thanks

Lil b vote of thanks

It was the first public speaking event for  both Big B and Lil 

B. They both did really well.

 Not just a biased mom’s opinion, a lot of other people in the audience said the same too.

Lil B told me, he felt like his heart would jump out of his chest at any minute, it was beating so fast , as he stood there in front of all those people. I’m sure Big B felt the same way too , but just wasn’t as eloquent as Lil B.

The kids and teachers had put in so much effort and the program was very colorful  and lively.

 Annual day collage

The next day was a school holiday and we went to attend the housewarming function of my cousin’s home.Which was so lovely too! 

Meeting up with my cousins, laughing over our shared childhood memories and watching our children play and make memories now, are some of the things that really  make my heart  happy. We were so busy catching up , I forgot to take pictures :facepalm.

Budget · India · Lifestyle · Panchalamkuruchi · South India · Summer · Tamil Nadu · Travel

Panchalamkuruchi – South India

With school now out for the boys we decided to go on a little trip .

We started off to  a historical little village called Panchalamkuruchi about 20kms from Tuticorin, to see the Memorial Fort of Veerapandiya Kattabomman.A warrior who first  opposed the British rule.We didn’t know the way to any of the places we went and reached our destination with the age old method of navigation; asking bystanders for the route. All along the people were remarkably helpful.

Road block

We reached the fort , got our tickets and as we walked towards the memorial hall constructed by the state government, I got goosebumps thinking that we were standing on a place where people fought valiantly for their freedom

DSC 3699

Panchankurichi copy

The guide walked us through the the paintings on the wall ,narrating the tale of Valor .It was hard to hold back the tears,if not for treachery and betrayal, these mighty men would have stood their ground, proud and tall.  Kattabomman was later hung from a tamarind tree  . what a sad way for the brave to die! 

The man and the boys

We drove through stretches of barren dry land, quarries and tiny indescript villages. I marveled at how people contently went about their business there, I try to imagine me living there , I don’t think I can do it for long.

As we passed through one after  another , dad and mom told us tidbits about these villages, one unassuming little village was the back bone of many readymade garment factories they told us. Another was the birth place of  a famous freedom fighter V O Chidambaranam. While Mom and I knew about him , the boys didn’t, so my dad narrated the story of this freedom fighter, his struggles and hardships during the freedom struggle to the boys as he drove our omnivan.Though very interested in history, they couldn’t comprehend things….like being yoked in place of bulls to the oil press ….…. first they didn’t know the oil press , then haven’t seen one in action….we managed to show them an abandoned one….still somehow I felt ,in translating to them , we failed to convey  the depth of  emotions ….the pain and agony  associated with it .


As we crossed from one side of the highway  to the other, we were surprised by the stark contrast that greeted us! Coconut groves and farms lined with cheerful  bougainvillas in full bloom, doubling up as fences  were a treat to the eyes and mind.The much cooler air helped to keep the general mood in the van happy.

Next stop was Holy Trinity Church Sawyerpuram


DSC 3746

We walked around admiring the beautiful stain glass and other details in the church. It was so calm and serene in there.

Sawyerpuram church details

After we all prayed  there, we set out again onto our next stop…mostly lost in our thoughts as we gazed out through the window, enjoying the greenery and the contrasting red soil. 

Some one piped up with  “I’m hungry “and we decided to stop for lunch…. in the next shaded area.Luckily for us, we found our perfect picnic spot under the welcoming shade of a large tamarind tree. 


As an added bonus, there was a drinking water pump on the other side of the road . The boys were quite fascinated by it and took turns pumping water for everyone to freshen up a bit.Waterpump 

We  then dug into the scrumptious picnic meal of Tamarind rice, coconut chutney and fried chicken, mom had lovingly prepared for us all.So delicious ! I think we all ate  a lot more than we usually do! 

 Served with love

With full bellies , happy hearts, a smooth ride, and the gentle breeze lulling us to sleep, the boys and I went off to zzzz land only to be awoken at the Church.  Nazareth stjohns1

Nazareth stjohns2

We walked around this church too, sat on a bench there taking in the peaceful , calm ambience and praying.

We sat outside  in the car and watched  life going on as usual ; children going to home after school hours, parents coming to pick up children,some children waiting for their parents to come pick up , playing with their friends, for while, as we gobbled up the egg sandwiches .


It was time to go ,as  dad always found it difficult driving at night, with full beam headlights nearly blinding everyone on the road.We did stop for coffee at another little village. People watched some more  and came back home before the sun went down.

Coffee break

We enjoyed this trip more than we expected, perhaps because  we went on this trip after a really long gap or maybe it was  the novelty of visiting  places we have never been to.Surprisingly the teen who started out in a rather grumpy mood, having to leave behind his gadgets, admitted to having had a great time. He requested  we  do more of these road trips,  before we go to , whichever place God has destined us to be as a family.

India · Life · Nature · Snake · South India

The Unwelcome Guest

Just when the dust settled on the excitement of the Tailor bird nest,  an excitement of a varied kind happened at # 60 last night.

Big B was out talking to his friend at night, pesky lil B wanted to eavesdrop, but something that moved in the dark on the jasmine shrub caught his eye!

On closer examination this is what we found!

Snake 3

Yes Poisonous…Viper, we are told

Snake 1

A kind stranger  who was passing by ,offered to help drive it away but eventually it was killed as the seemingly calm  thing put up a valiant fight.

We are no strangers to snakes in these parts, but it did cause some jitters and screams at #60 !

So that is the news on this special date 11.12.13.

birds · India · Lifestyle · Nature · South India

Its not the size of your House that makes a home..

Its the size of your heart!

Tailor bird edited 1

This  pretty much happens everyday…at lunch time , I sit on the dinning table  with my parents,… chit chatting about  the mundane stories in our lives  as we have our lunch…looking out our french window.…but today I saw something different…a teeny tiny tailor bird, earnestly stitching up her nest…

I sat there and  marvelled at her ,perched  in a  precarious position on the leaves.First piercing holes in the leaves then diligently   sewing them up to secure the leaves together.

Tailor seamstress edited 2

 I wonder where she gets her thread from, Nature’s seamstress,she holds so carefully in her beak.looks like soft silken yarn.I wonder how many eggs she will lay. How may fledglings will hatch out and safely fly away from that nest.

Nothings sure yet,but still she goes on with quiet intent.The promise of cozy nest for her little family  ,must be her motivation I think. I don’t know what invisible force drives her. I don’t know what goes on in her mind or  Does she even have a mind ? I wonder…

Tailor bird

I’m so glad, I got to a peek into this wonderful miracle of nature.