Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hampi- The city of victory

Today I am at a loss for words. No. It's not because of the writer's block that I face often. But it is because, I am unable to find words that will do justice to the grandeur and splendor of Hampi. I have visited Hampi many times. So many times that you can say that apart of my child hood was spent amidst the ruins. Since Hampi is located just 60kms from Bellary (my home town) we used to go there often. My parents would make it a point to show Hampi to any of our relatives who came visiting us.

Even as a child, I found hampi to be bewitching and unreal. There is something about those fabulously rich temples and palaces that are now in ruins. They lie scattered all over the rocky landscape amidst the boulders, the paddy fields and the blue skies. To me, This rocky landscape is a place for me to loose myself amidst the ruins and in the stories that these Stones seem to tell. Oh yes!! Each stone of Hampi has a story to tell. They tell you the story of Ramayana, Of the Bhagavatha, of it's Grandeur and of it's destruction.
If you think that Hampi is just for history buffs then you are wrong. For Hampi is more than just a temple town. Apart from visiting temples, one can indulge in activities like rock climbing, or take a hike on the Hemakuta hills. If rock climbing is a little tedious, then you can just hire a bicycle explore the town. Be it a pilgrim, or an adventurer, a seeker of peace or just a tourist, Hampi can offer something for everyone. 
Inside the Vijaya Vithala Temple
As I mentioned earlier, I have visited Hampi many times earlier. But this trip was a little different because, this was an all girl trip. Oh yes!! This time it was only me, my sister my mom, Purvi and my year old niece. During the three days, we went absolutely berserk. We giggled, laughed, yelled and talked. It was just like old times. Except that we had two more girls with us now. 
Hampi is a beautiful place with a vast cultural heritage. I feel that this temple village should be visited at least once. So without saying anything more, I will leave you with the photographs of the glorious ruins which is found in the magnificent Village called Hampi

The watch tower near the Lotus Mahal

The Lotus Mahal
The ornate doorways in the Lotus Mahal

The Elephant stables

A Trunkless Elephant near the Elephant stables

A temple in the Purandhara Vithala Temple complex

The Entrance to the Purandhara Vithala temple Complex

Ornate Pillars

The temple Pillars

The Magnificent musical pillars of the Purandhara Vitthala Temple

Some school Girls

The Light Flare

The stone Charriot- The symbol of Karnataka 

Ornate carvings on the the Gopuram

Some inscriptions

The Virupaksha temple

Some monkeys on the Gopuram of Virupaksha temple

Murals inside the Virupaksha temple

The sasive Kaalu ganesha

The Ugra Narasimha

The Badavi Linga

The outer wall of the Hazara Ramaswamy temple

Can you make out the Ramayana Here?

The rear view of the Hazara Rama swamy temple

Inside the Hazara Ramaswamy temple

The pool in the Mahanavami Dibba

An Ornate window in the queen's Bath

The queen's Bath

Some temples on the Hemakuta hill

The view of the Virupaksha Temple from the Hemakuta hills

The KadaleKalu Ganesha

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hyderabadi baghara baingan

Today I bring to a dish that is straight from the city of Nizams. The Hyderabadi bagara baingan is a mixture of the Nizami cuisine and the rustic Andhra cuisine. This dish is perhaps the one of the best ways to cook eggplants.

Baghara baingan literally translates to tempered eggplants. The method of sautéing the eggplants in oil that is tempered with aromatic spices, takes the taste quotient of this to another lever altogether.

The irresistible flavor of the bagara baingan lies in it's spice mix. The spice mix is a unique blend of spices, seeds and nuts. Fascinating isn't it? Baby eggplants are first sautéed in oil and then simmered in the spicy gravy. This process of cooking the egg plants twice, makes them acquire a rich creamy taste.

This recipe for the baghara baingan is from a  TV show that I had seen a long time ago. The addition of cashewnuts along with the peanuts and sesame seeds, lends a characteristic sweet and nutty flavor to the gravy. The process of cooking this dish might seem  little laborious and time consuming. But trust me, it is well worth the effort. All it would take is just one bite and I assure you, you will be hooked. Hooked enough to lick the plate clean :)

Hyderabadi baghara baingan Recipe:
Preparation time: 20min
Cooking time: 15min
Serves- 4

Baby Eggplants- 10-12
Oil- 3tbsp
Nigella seeds- 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves- 8-10
Tamarind- A small lime sized, soaked and pulp extracted
Jaggery- 2tspns
Salt to taste
Ingredients for the spice mix:
Oil- 1tsp
jeera or cumin seeds- 1 tsp
Ginger- 1" piece
Garlic- 2 cloves
Turmeric- 1/4tsp
Onion- 1 medium, chopped fine
Peanuts- 2 tbspns
Sesame seeds- 1 tsp
Cashewnuts- 2 tbsps
Coriander seeds- 1tbsp
Freshly grated coconut- 3tbsp
Kashmiri red chilies- 3-4

  • Wash the eggplants and pat them dry. Slit the eggplants length wise into fours but keep the stems intact. This way, the egg plants remain joined at the stem. Keep aside.
  • Heat a tspn of oil in a separate pan and add the cumin seeds, peanuts and cashew nuts and fry for a few seconds. Add ginger, garlic and chopped onion and fry for a min. Add the turmeric, coriander seeds, coconut and Kashmiri red chilies and fry till the mixture is brown. Allow the mixture to cool completely and blend to a fine paste using a little water and keep aside.
  • Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan and fry the egg plants till brown and tender, remove and keep aside.
  • Add the nigella seeds to the same oil and allow them to crackle. Stir in the curry leaves and fry for a few seconds. Add the ground paste, tamarind pulp, salt and jaggery and mix well.
  • Add the sautéed egg plants and 1/2 cup of water and cook covered over low heat till the egg plants are cooked through and soft.
  • Serve the curry hot with either rice or rot is.

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