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Saturday, 28 March 2015

Chinese potato ( Koorkka )


Chinese potato is a common edible tuberous crop in India. It is very popular among people over here. This yummy tuber is known as 'Koorkka' in malayalam, our mother tongue.

Chinese potato / country potato / hausa potato is cultivated in Africa, India and many parts of Asia. The botanical name is Plectranthus rotundifolius  / Solenostemon rotundifolius.





The crop looks smaller than potatoes and comes in bizarre shapes and sizes. It has a dark brown skin that can be scraped off easily. The sweet taste and unique aroma is undoubtedly the plus point of this cool tuber that makes it stand out among the innumerable edible roots and tubers available for culinary use.

The above dish is called 'mezhukkupuratty' ( a dish that is a little oily ) that is made of Koorkka. The cut pieces of Koorkka mixed with vegetable masala powder, a little red chilli powder, water and salt is sauteed with a little oil in a saucepan. That's it... Yummy dish :)

Well, this is my recipe :), nothing elaborate. No claims this is an authentic Keralite mezhukkupuratti ( Upperi ) recipe for which there are plenty of culinary sites and blogs online :), if interested, readers may kindly browse.

Koorkka is a rich source of Calcium and Iron.

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Friday, 20 March 2015

Don't worry, be happy...International day of happiness


March 20 has been recognized as the International day of happiness by the UN.

Happiness is a fundamental right and pursuing it is serious business. Happiness for all the human beings on this planet and let us all try to make each other happy.


These photos were taken in Dubai during Dubai shopping festival some years ago. It was wonderful, festive season over there and the weather was cool ! These drummers were awesome; we all felt thrilled. People were dancing and even they invited many to join them drumming on stage. You don't need any special training for playing those drums, they will tell you what to do and we are in sync with them ! So simple !

During the height of frenzy a guy would shout with the microphone in hand 'forget the past, be happy, live in the present'

Well, not so easy to forget all the bitterness of the past but why can't we give it a try, at the least?

You are all familiar with the Burj Al Arab, the iconic structure on the Jumeriah beach in Dubai. I never tire taking pictures of this magnificent artistic structure ! I have blogged a lot about this awesome hotel. What a beautiful building !

I have a happiness group on my Google plus page; ' Find happiness here', kindly join :)

Live happily, spread happiness :)

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Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Greenery, everywhere...!


Plantain, a fruit and a plant...
Common sight in most of the households in Kerala, especially in the villages.


Tomato cultivation...


Beautiful yellow flowers...


A cute rose flower...


This is chinese chilli ( Kanthari mulaku, in malayalam ), a very hot chilli variety...


Cute yellow flowers...


Arecanut trees against the backdrop of setting Sun...


Wonderful white flowers...


Green pepper...


Green pepper, another view...


Coconut tree...



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Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Camphor Tulsi ( Karpoorathulasi, kapoor tulsi, camphor basil ) and other common varieties in India

Camphor tulsi
Camphor tulsi / karpoorathulasi / camphor basil is a rare variety of Basil. Rub the leaves of this divine plant, the fragrance resembles camphor !

Tulsi ( Thulasi, basil ), as you all know, is a holy plant worshiped in India. All Hindu households will have a Tulsithara, a raised structure in front of the house facing main door where this holy plant will be grown. Some use a special clay pot as container to grow Tulsi where space is limited.  Now-a-days people have started growing Tulsi, somehow or other, in pots and containers in small apartments as well.

Thulasi leaves and flowers are used in hindu rituals of worship of Gods and Goddesses. This holy plant is considered sacred in Hinduism. It is a divine plant.

There are three varieties of Tulsi ( Holy basil ) popular in India.
  • Krishna Tulsi - the leaves and stem are purple in color, aroma of the leaves is mesmerizing. 
  • Rama Tulsi - the leaves are green. 
  • Shyama Tulsi - the leaves are long and narrow.
Krishna and Rama are the varieties commonly grown in houses in India. Other varieties, if present are said to be auspicious. I have here Krishna, Rama, Camphor and Lemon varieties. Trying to get Shyama tulsi, God willing will get it as well asap.

There is a lot of confusion regarding the nomenclature of this species and the local names in India. I tried my best online but I feel there is no consensus regarding the classification, local names and varieties. Hope someone knowledgeable will enlighten us sooner or later.
So I have used the common names that I am familiar with in this post.

Lemon basil
Tulsi has innumerable medicinal uses as well. It has been claimed to be having anti-diabetic, carminative, immunity boosting, anti-cancer properties and the like. Some varieties have culinary uses as well, like Thai basil.

Rama tulsi
We worship this divine plant. May God bless you all.

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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Do it yourself - self watering plant pot


Things are all fine until we go for holidays for our plants especially the indoor beauties. I have tried self-watering plastic bottles with cotton wicks while away on holidays and it had served the purpose very well. 


Recently I began researching more about organic vegetables growing that led me to self-watering plant pots. Read a lot about watering, organic manures, organic pests repellents, organic seeds etc. There are plenty of commercial plant pots that are self-watering but expensive. So I thought of making one like this one with materials available locally.


Here is a plastic plant pot. I have kept two stones inside so that the square blue plastic sheet you will find below will fit perfectly about an inch above the base of this pot. Holes were put on this blue sheet and two cotton wicks inserted. Below this water will be collected and above this blue sheet good quality soil, cocopeat, vermicompost and a little neem cake powder were put. 


A small hole was also put on the brick colored plant pot about an inch above the base so that excess water may be drained out. I have not fixed a plastic tube that extends from the top of the soil to the base reservoir because this is a small pot and I am quite sure that I can control watering this plant to prevent overflow and over-watering. For bigger pots it is better to use a plastic tube to pour water that reaches directly the reservoir at the base so that the source of water is at the base and water absorption takes place from below. No top soil watering in this case. Also no need to keep the plant pot on a base plate here to collect excess water like we do in normal plant pots if we can control watering.

As you know cocopeat has great water retention properties. Neem cake prevents pests invasion and Vermicompost is rich in plant nutrients. The excess water that we pour together with the nutrients will collect in the reservoir. It will be absorbed by the wick by capillary action and enters the soil.

So this should work for 3 - 5 days even if we are not available at home to feed these beauties. For more days go for bigger pots and reservoirs.

You are all familiar with the second plant :) It is an easy care indoor plant that figured in NASA's list of awesome indoor plants which purify indoor air.
But what about the first dark green plant ?
Please name it :)

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