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madhugopalan

Food

how to build a yummy breakfast bowl

I’ve been posting some of my breakfast bowls on Instagram and Twitter. A few people DMed me to ask how I put them together, so I thought I’d do a small post here. These breakfast bowls really work for me because they take under 5 minutes to make, they can easily be made vegan (I’m avoiding dairy most of the time these days), I can quickly eat them even if I’m not hungry, they are FULL of nutrition, and they taste amazing.
 
These bowls typically have a base, and some toppings.
 

THE BASE

Some options for the base:
 
(1.) Oats or muesli, soaked overnight in a liquid of your choice – nut milk, regular milk, yoghurt, or even water.
 
(2.) Cooked oats – again this could be in water, nut milk, regular milk, anything.
 
(3.)  A thick smoothie – you basically make a smoothie that is thicker than the ones you drink, so you can eat it out of a bowl with a spoon. You can choose solid ingredients like fruits, vegetables (beetroot, palak etc work amazingly well and add a beautiful colour), oats, nuts, avocados etc. and blend them with liquid ingredients like nut milk, regular milk, yoghurt, fruit juices, coconut water, etc. Many people add acai, matcha, kale, protein powders and various supplements, but I haven’t tried any of those yet.
 
If these smoothies sound like a lot of work, that’s only because I’m listing so many options. Most of the time, I stick to oats, coconut or almond milk and one or two fruits. But you can make your smoothie as simple or as elaborate as you like!
 

TOPPINGS

And now the fun part – the toppings! Here are some ideas:
 
* Fresh fruits
* Nut butters
* Chia seeds (a friend on twitter pointed me to this article that says there’s a choking risk with chia seeds – I thought I should just put it here. I continue to use them in my bowls, but you should make your own choices)
* Goji berries
* Flax seeds
* Melon seeds
* Pumpkin seeds
* Dry fruits and nuts – cashew nuts, almonds, pistachios, figs, dates, apricots
* Coconut flakes
* Chocolate chips
* Bee Pollen
 
I don’t add sweeteners to my smoothies because the fruits are sweet enough for me. If I am making cooked or overnight oats, I add a pinch of coconut sugar. You could also use honey, jaggery, palm sugar, stevia, etc.
 
Hmmm that’s all I can think of. Just get creative, put whatever you want together, and enjoy! Here are some of my breakfast bowls that I’ve shared on Instagram.
 
1. Oats cooked in almond milk with a pinch of coconut sugar. Toppings: goji berries, bee pollen, chia seeds and pistachio butter.

 
2. Blueberry, Custard Apple and Oats smoothie. Toppings : bee pollen and chia seeds.

 
3. Banana-Oats smoothie. I added a small piece of beetroot to get this colour. Toppings :  pomegranate, chia seeds and mixed dry fruits and nuts.

 
4. Oats cooked in Almond Milk. Toppings : drizzle of pistachio butter, bee pollen and goji berries.

 
5. Millets Muesli soaked overnight in Almond Milk. Toppings : banana slices and chia seeds.

 
6. Pineapple, Banana, Oats and Coconut Milk smoothie. Toppings : banana, chia seeds and a drizzle of coconut milk.

 

The best way to find cool recipes for your bowls is to scour Instagram and Pinterest. Let me leave you with a link to this board where I’ve pinned a few ideas I’ve come across. Happy eating!

Travel

Bhongir : where history meets geology

A pleasant 50km drive from Hyderabad takes one to a small town called Bhongir, where history meets geology. Long before you enter the town, its trademark egg-shaped hillock looms into view. The hillock is actually a giant rock, called a batholith. A batholith is a huge igneous rock that is formed when molten magma cools and solidifies, often running kilometers deep into the earth. The Bhongir batholith is said to be comparable in size to the one in Uluru, Australia, a World Heritage Site.

Bhongir Fort

Bhongir Fort

Bhongir Fort

Bhongir was named Tribhuvanagiri after the Chalukya ruler Tribhuvanamalla Vikramaditya, who is believed to have built a fort on top of the rock in the 12th century. Tribhuvanagiri became Bhuvanagiri, which eventually became Bhongir. Later, the fort passed through the hands of the Kakatiyas, the Bahmanis and the Qutb Shahi Sultans of Golconda. Most of the present structure dates back to the Bahmani and Qutb Shahi era, and you’ll notice similarities with the forts at Golconda, Bidar and others built by the various Deccan Sultanates.

Bhongir Fort

Bhongir Fort

Bhongir FortBhongir Fort

The climb to the top was lovely the day we went – there was a light drizzle throughout, like a gentle spray. On a blazing hot day, I’m not sure how fun it’ll be! There are steps hewn into the rock for the most part, and railings for support when the slope gets steeper. It takes about an hour, plus or minus, maybe longer if you stop frequently to take pictures.

 

At the very top, there is a pavilion that looks strikingly similar to the Balahisar Baradari, the topmost pavilion in the Golconda Fort. When you reach it, you realize it’s a bit larger than it appears from below, dwarfed by the huge hillock. The panoramic views of the countryside are breathtaking, and you can’t help wondering what it must have been like to be a ruler standing up here and surveying your kingdom. In reality though, the Qutb Shahi kings did not actually stay here. They stationed a governor in Bhongir, and used this fort to imprison people who tried to grab the throne.

Bhongir FortBhongir Fort

Since the hillock is almost egg shaped, it has sheer drops all around,  attracting adventure sports enthusiasts. Bhongir even has a rock climbing school that teaches bouldering, rock climbing and rappelling.

Bhongir Fort

You can combine a trip to this fort with a visit to the famous Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple in Yadagirigutta, just about 14kms away. Also combinable is Kolanupaka, home to a stunning Jain temple, only 30 kms away.

 

Culture

Ganpati Bappa Morya

Ganesh Chaturthi is one of my favourite times of the year in Hyderabad – everything is so colourful and happy. I loved it even when I was a very small kid, except that I’d never let my parents immerse the idol we bought for our home because it made me too sad.

 

On the morning after Visarjan (for those who haven’t heard of this – the Ganesh idols are immersed in water on the 11th day after the festival) day this year, I took some pictures at the flyover near Tank Bund. These are the Ganesh idols that couldn’t/didn’t get immersed on the actual day of immersion. It was a really long line of trucks – we must have seen at least 50, probably more, in the 25 minutes or so that we spent there. The atmosphere was carnival-like, with drums, Bollywood songs and a LOT of dancing. And also a bit of napping, for those exhausted from all of this!

 

I’m always torn between enjoying the gorgeous idols and the vibrant atmosphere and feeling sad about what this does to the Hussain Sagar lake. Anyway, here are some pictures (shot with my phone). You can also check out Visarjan pictures from 3 years ago, on my other blog, Aadab Hyderabad.

Ganesh Visarjan in Hyderabad

ganesh-visarjan-7Ganesh Visarjan in Hyderabad

Ganesh Visarjan in HyderabadGanesh Visarjan in HyderabadGanesh Visarjan in HyderabadGanesh Visarjan Hyderabad Ganesh Visarjan in Hyderabad Ganesh Visarjan in Hyderabad Ganesh Visarjan in HyderabadGanesh Visarjan Hyderabad

In Photos, Travel

The Streets of Fort Kochi

Obviously, I’m not done with my Kochi posts. The pretty streets of Fort Kochi have quaint names like Princess Street, Burghar Street, Napier Street, Rose Street and Lilly Street. These cobblestoned streets are lined with beautiful colonial homes that have been restored and converted into heritage hotels, home-stays, cafes, boutiques and art galleries. Some pictures:Streets of Fort KochiStreets of Fort Kochi Streets of Fort Kochi Streets of Fort Kochi Streets of Fort Kochi Streets of Fort Kochi Streets of Fort Kochi Streets of Fort Kochi Streets of Fort Kochi Streets of Fort Kochi Streets of Fort Kochi Streets of Fort Kochi Streets of Fort Kochi Streets of Fort Kochi Streets of Fort Kochi

Travel

The Colours of Mattancherry

Mattancherry is a historical neighbourhood adjacent to Fort Kochi, known for its Jewish legacy. Two communities of Jews are said to have migrated to the region – the Malabar Jews, who claimed descent from King Solomon of Israel, and the Sephardic Jews who came from the Iberian peninsula. The latter were white skinned, and locals referred to them as Paradesi Jews. Paradesi or pardesi means foreigner. Just like Fort Kochi, Mattancherry is Instagram heaven, and is best explored on foot. Here are some of the most interesting things in the area:

 

Jew Town, Paradesi Synagogue, Jewish Cemetery
The main point of interest in Mattancherry is the Paradesi Synagogue, built by the Sephardic Jews in 1567, on land granted to them by the Raja of Kochi. The area around it is called Jew town, and has a very pretty market selling antiques, ethnic clothes, hand embroidery and other such things. There is a Jewish cemetery nearby as well.
Paradesi Synagogue

Paradesi Synagogue

Jew Town
Jew Town
Mandalay Hall, Jew Town
Jew Town
Mattancherry Palace, or the Dutch Palace
This palace was built by the Portuguese in the 16th century and gifted to the Raja of Kochi. When the Dutch took over the settlement, they occupied the palace and made some modifications to the structure. Today, it is a museum known for its collection of exquisite Kerala murals.
Dutch Palace

Dutch Palace/Mattancherry Palace

The Church of Our Lady of Life
A pretty 17th century church.
Church of Our Lady of Life

Church of Our Lady of Life

Bazaar Road
Without a doubt, my favourite part of Mattancherry. With its crumbling mansions and colourful spice warehouses (Kochi had a flourishing spice trade, which was what attracted the colonial powers here), this street is incredibly photogenic. This post was basically an excuse to share at least some of my gazillion Bazaar Road photos!
Bazaar Road
Bazaar Road
Bazaar Road
Bazaar Road
Bazaar Road
Bazaar Road
Bazaar Road
In Photos, Travel

Fort Kochi Beach : A thousand shades of grey

I opened up wordpress to compose a post on Mattancherry, but the steady drizzle outside my window took me back to the Fort Kochi beach under the pouring rain. The monsoon is my favourite time of the year, and grey skies give me so much joy. You’ll never see me complaining about ‘gloomy’ days – this is India, after all, and any respite from the heat is most welcome!

 

The Fort Kochi beach is truly gorgeous during a downpour. The famous Chinese Fishing Nets are here too – apparently, these cantilevered fishing nets were introduced to the Malabar coast by Chinese travellers who came from the court of Kublai Khan in the 13th century. The artificially reclaimed Willingdon Island (India’s largest man-made island) across the water houses the Kochi Port and the Southern Naval Command of the Indian Navy. The sea washes a fair bit of debris ashore, but there is enough beauty around to help you overlook that. Check it out:
Fort Kochi Beach 6Fort Kochi Beach 5 Fort Kochi Beach 3
Fort Kochi Beach 2
Fort Kochi Beach 7 Fort Kochi Beach 8