Chennai to Shirdi by flight

There are many tour packages that are available for pilgrimages to various places by flight , by train and by bus.  For Shirdi there are packages operated by IRCTC.  Though we tried our best the dates did not match so we opted for a private tour package operator.

All of them charge between Rs.9500 and Rs.10500 approximately depending upon the flight charges for economy class flights that are slightly variable.

Of course we can have our own custom packages but it is always nice to travel with families that are strangers some of who become our friends during the pilgrimage.

The packages are usually for Wednesday and Thursday or Saturday and Sunday.  Thursday is very important and holy for Shirdi and Saturday, Sunday are weekends.  So there will be heavy rush .
If we want to avoid the crowd we can opt for custom packages on other week days.
To add to the week end factor we went on the 1st of January so we can imagine the crowd that would have been present, lakhs and lakhs of pilgrims were there.

The flights chosen are early in the morning at 5.30 am for departure and 11.30 pm for return - Chennai to Pune and Pune to Chennai respectively.  The advantage is that more time is available and the fares are also cheap.   At Pune our tour operator arranged a bus for all of us ( around 30 ) .  The bus took us to a restaurant .  Incidentally the package does not include breakfast , lunch or dinner .
We are pleasantly surprised to get good quality and hot idly, dosa and coffee in a small restaurant and it was actually very cheap too when we compare with Chennai restaurants.

From there we went to Shirdi by bus , as I said already it was first of January and there was very heavy rush.  We tried for Rs.200 tickets but the counter was closed due to heavy rush.  So all of us went to the Dharma Darshan and waited for a few hours in the queue.  Hot tea was served in the queue by the temple authorities at one point and we were so thankful because we were hungry.

Near the sannidhi a miracle happened , He is known to perform miracles.  The security guards weere pushing everyone out after darshan , when my husband, my daughter and I came near the sannidhi , we tried to move away ( there were dozens of pilgrims around us ) , the security guard pulled my husband inside and said "wait, why are you in a hurry !"  .  Then the priest offered a shawl that was on Sai Baba to my husband and to me he gave a bouquet as prasadam.  We were overwhelmed and overjoyed.

We came out and had dinner at one of the restaurants near the temple.  The next day the bus started and the guide requested all of us sing devotional songs.  Our first stop was Shingnapur  and the next stop was Renuka Devi temple.  Renuka Devi temple is also called the Glass temple as it is decorated with glass.  The Moola Vigraha is a swayambu and for darshan we have to go down a flight of stairs to the basement.

  Then we went Rajangaon Ganpati temple near Pune.  We were surprised to get organic fruits at just Rs.50 per kg ( They are simple people there leading a simple and peaceful life ) while organic fruits are sold at Rs.200 to Rs.300 kg in Chennai.  The temple arch is very beautiful and the temple itself is very beautiful and so is the Garbha Graha .

Few years back, we as a family went to Shirdi from Nagpur ( where my sister lives , her family also came with us ) .  From Nagpur we went to Manmad by train and from Manmad we went to Shirdi by a private taxi.
On the way we were fortunate to have the darshan of Parvari Baba as he is called there. It is very rare and difficult to have his darshan the locals say.

How to make different types of podi


Vatha kuzhambu powder preparation

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The ingredients required and measurements are as follows

  • Dhania or coriander 3 cups , urad dhal 2 cups ,  gram dhal 2 cups , 1 1/2 cups toor dhal
  • One cup jeera or cumin seeds , one cup milagu or pepper 
  • One tea spoon fenugreek seeds , little rice and 10-15 byadgi chillies
  • All except chillies are to be dry roasted separately because the roasting time is different for each
  • For chillies add a little  oil and roast so that the oil takes care of the hot vapours emanating 
  • Or dhania and urad dhal are roasted separately
  • Then gram dhal and  toor dhal  are roasted
  • Then cumin seeds , pepper , rice and fenugreek are roaste
  • Finally the chillies are roasted.
  • Allow them  to cool in air
  • Dry grind in a mixer and store in an air tight container.
  • It can also be used as sambar powder



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Spices powder  for mixed rice 


  • This podi can be used for increasing the flavour of mixed rice like potato rice  or potato , tomato and cucumber rice
  • Ingredients required are dhania - 2 table  spoons , gram dhal one table  spoon , few red chillies
  • Optional ingredients are lavangam ( cloves ) and cinnamon bark 
  • Dry roast in a hollow vessel and grind in a mixer 
  • This powder can also be used to increase the flavour of bhindi or ladies finger fry or potato fry
  • This can be stored in a dry container and used when ever needed

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Bisi bele bath powder recipe 

Bisi means hot bele means dhal in Kannada , it is called bisi bele huli anna which translates into hot dhal sambar rice.  This is one of the most popular recipes of Karnataka now followed in many other states because of it unique taste and flavour.  Like many other recipes there are different methods of making it I share my method which is authentic method handed over by my mother   It is also called mandi sambar bath  and cooked in a special stone vessel.

The ingredients are two table  spoons dhania , one and half  table spoon gram dhal ,  one tea spoon fenugreek , khas khas or grated dry coconut , cinnamon and cloves.  I have used Kashmir red chillies .  It gives excellent flavour and colour .  The quantity is usually 10 to 12 chillies.  Since it is not very hot if needed we can add few common chillies also if we want bisi bele bath hot and spicy.

Take a little oil and roast all the ingredients except grated coconut.   Grated coconut is added finally as otherwise it can get over cooked.  When the dhal turns golden brown in colour switch off the stove.  Allow the ingredients to cool.  When they become cool dry grind in a mixer to get a fine powder.  Bisi bele bath powder is ready .


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Fenugreek mustard seeds powder ( kadugu vendhaya podi )

One part fenugreek and one part mustard seeds have to be dry roasted and ground in a mixer.  This powder can be stored in an air tight container.  When added to pudina thokku , tomato thokku and coriander or kothamalli thokku it gives a fine flavour.  This powder is to be added finally , the thokku stirred well and the stove switched off.  If we boil after adding this powder fenugreek will make the thokku bitter.

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Idli milagai podi ( powder ) recipe 

  • The required ingredients are one measure urad dhal , half measure gram dhall, asafoetida, 10-15 red chillies and one and half table spoon white  sesame seeds.
  • First dry roast white sesame seeds till the colour changes
  • Next add a little oil and roast the urad dhal, gram dhal , asafoetida and chillies
  • When the dhals are roasted we get a fine "fragrance "
  • Roast the salt required for idli milgai powder
  • I add a little jaggery and that is optional
  • Dry grind in a mixer
  • As the name suggests it is a fine  side dish for idli and of course dosa with oil
  • Some use it as a side dish for curd rice without oil !

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Dry chutney powder recipe

  • A simple side dish for rice , idli and dosa or chapati
  • The ingredients are urad dhal  one measure , quarter measure gram dhal , one tea spoon mustard ,
  • asafoetida , 10 to 15 red chillies and a small  piece of tamarind
  • Dry roast urad dhal without oil on medium flame till the colour changes
  • Then dry roast gram dhal also separately
  • Roast the red chillies with a little  oil and tamarind
  • Then add mustard and asafoetida. Finally roast the salt  required also.
  • Allow them to  cool, grind in a mixer and store in an air tight container 

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DIY easy cotton craft ideas projects

 We can use different techniques to get beautiful cotton haara or garlands for festivals ( Varamahalakshmi Habba or Ganesh Chaturthi ).  The video is one of them.  Use cotton that is sold in Puja stores .  Make the cotton workable as shown in the video and depending upon the thickness we can use a single strand or split into two.  I have split the cotton into two .  Using milk or water make the traditional cotton hara or gejje vastra as it also called.  Fold it into two.  The rest is easy.  At the narrow portions stick decorative trinkets using fabric glue.  A different type of decorative trinket is stuck in the remaining gaps.  We need thread or string for tying the garland  to the idol of God or Goddess or kalash.  Decorative threads are available in craft shops and that thread can be fastened to the haara as shown in the thumb nail in the video below.  
 
     

Cotton crafts are among the most popular craft ideas for school projects and other craft ideas.  Traditionally cotton is also used in Pujas for vastra in India . We can also use cotton for craft ideas for decoration of God and for festival decoration.  Some traditional and novel craft using cotton are shared in this post.  Rangolisansdots is mainly about rangoli but there some  craft and recipe ideas and recipe ideas related to festivals ( called naivedyam ) so that Rangolisandots will  be useful for many purposes for many people.



This is the traditional cotton garland for God ( also called panju thiri malai or gejje vastra ) which  is used to decorate Gods and Goddesses .  The two cotton pieces at the ends are dipped in kumkum mixed with water to hold the vastra.  The belief is that we offer new clothes or vastra to God. 

 While for Varalakshmi Habba or festival and Navratri , Sravan Sukruvar we use kumkum to decorate the vastra , for Ganesh Chaturthi decoration and Naga Chaturthi we use turmeric powder mixed in water For Varalakshmi Vratham we use 25 cotton ball vastra for Ganesha Chaturthi we use 21 cotton ball vastra.


An easy craft idea for Navratri - cotton garland

This is an easy and simple cotton garland for school projects and festivals like Navratri, Varalakshmi Vratham and Ganesh Chaturthi.

An easy cotton garland for school projects / Navratri , Varalakshmi Pooja festival decoration

  • Take a thin cardboard for the base and cut in the shape of a garland
  • The material  required are cotton thread , kundan stones , chamki in the shape of a leaf , golden thread or lace.
  • Cut the cotton thread to required length and roll as shown in the image below.
  • After rolling in the form of a spiral , stick the end with glue and wait for some time till the glue dries
  • Then stick the rolled cotton thread to the garland base using glue.
  • Stick a kundan stone to the centre of the rolled cotton
  • Then stick two chamki leaves on either side to complete the decoration
  • Complete the garland by sticking to the entire length of the garland
  • The garland after completion is also shown in an image below.
  • Golden  lace or thread to attached to both sides of the garland for holding it

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Another easy , simple garland for school projects , festivals Navratri , Varalakshmi Vratham 

Using cotton form spheres as we do for panju thiri malai ( gejje vastra ) for Pooja
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Place on a clean surface as shown in the image below with a chart paper below
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 Using a pair of scissors cut two get pairs of cotton ball or spheres
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 Place one over the other and paste to a plus like flower shape
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 Place two  more to get six  petalled flower and paste them together
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 Paste a kundan stone or chamki on the flower and place it on a golden lace or thread
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 The result is a simple and beautiful garland for decoration or craft projects as shown in the image below
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Children  can make it quite easily and it is easy for us also the create simple home made projects for drawing room decoration or for festivals like Navratri ( Dussehra ) or for Christmas decoration and New Year too .

Also can be used as a summer camp craft idea for children.  Nowadays summer camps are common where structured play is very common , what we did in our childhood was unstructured but joyful i.e no one decided our activities during our holidays or spare time , we decided them individually or as a group of kids.

Evening tiffin recipes and snacks ideas

Rangoli with double lines

Cabbage capsicum recipe | quick and easy pakkoda for snacks

A quick pakkoda that can be done in 15 minutes.
Finely chop cabbage and capsicum .  Add one measure gram dhal flour and one measure rice flour.
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Add salt and chilly powder.
Add a little omam (Ajwain ) seeds to offset the effect of gram dhal flour.  For some gram dhal flour causes problems in digestion.
Mix well and add a little hot oil and then mix thoroughly and wait for around fifteen minutes.
We need not add water to make the batter and we can fry directly in oil.
Such hot snacks are best with tea in the evening on a rainy day !

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Diwali recipes and snacks - aval mixture or poha mixture 

This is an easy recipe for Diwali and also an evening snack for kids and  adults alike.  In our family, it is used as a side dish for sambar or rasam rice also!

Also called chivda or chivda namkeen recipe in Hindi and Marathi.  This one of my sister's ( who lives in Mumbai ) favorite recipes for snacks and obviously I learnt it from her.

  • Take thin flattened rice or aval as we say in Tamil in a big cup as shown
  • Take a cup each of peanuts, fried gram dhal , desiccated coconut cut in  pieces as shown  in the image
  • Also take cashews, and curry leaves
  • For flavour and colour what are  needed are mustard , turmeric powder and asafoetida
  • In a vessel dry roast the poha till it becomes crisp
  • Then  add three spoons of oil and fry peanuts by keeping the stove in sim position
  • Next fry the cashews and desiccated coconut pieces in oil
  • Fry the fried gram dhal by adding  it to oil and immediately removing it.
  • Fry the green chillies till they turn white in colour
  • Now add a little oil, add mustard when it splutters add finely chopped green chillies fry till the  chillies y turn white in colour.
  • Next add asafoetida and the other ingredients that are already fried .
  • Finally add the poha or flattened  rice.  Add turmeric powder  at this stage to avoid its overcooking.
  • Add salt to taste and quarter teaspoon of sugar.
  • Mix all the ingredients well  and the mixture is ready to be served for Diwali 

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Karaicha maavu dosai or karacha mavu dosa


This is one of the quickest and easiest dosa recipes to make.  This dosai can be made in a jiffy.  

Procedure

  • Take equal measures of rice flour, maida and wheat flour in a vessel
  • Add water and mix well till the viscosity is as shown in the image below
  • Add chopped green chillies, coriander leaves, asafoetida, salt and stir well.
  • The batter is poured on the pan as shown in the second image
  • Add oil around the dosa and allow it cook on one side
  • Then turn the dosa again add some oil. 
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 After it turns brown in colour as in the third photo remove it from the pan.
Serve with chutney or sambhar !

This is a variation of godhumai maavu or wheat flour dosai.  The ingredients are
a) Two cups of wheat flour
b) one third cup rice flour
c) one fourth cup  wheat germ ( optional )
d) one table spoon flax seed powder ( optional )
e ) Chilli powder and asafoetida
Salt to taste

Add all the ingredients to form a mixture and mix well.  Add water and mix well with hand or ladle so that there are no lumps. Water added should ensure that the consistency or viscosity is sufficient to pour the wet flour mixture 

On a tava or pan pour the wet flour or maavu to make the dosa as shown in the final photo.



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Idli batter recipes - kuzhi paniyaram 


  • Take required quantity of idli maavu (batter ) in a vessel

  • Saute with mustard and urad dhal in a kadai and add to the batter

  • Add finely chopped onion and green chillies and stir well

  • We can prepare batter exclusively for kuzhi paniyaram also

  • Keep the kuzhi paniyaram "stone " on the stove and heat with medium flame.

  • Add oil in all the hollow portions and pour the batter

  • Again add oil all round all the paniyaram pieces

  • When they are cooked , turn them to the other side and add oil all around again

  • Finally remove them from the stove , serve them hot with coconut chutney

  • A quick and easy evening snacks or tiffin recipe particularly if you have idli batter ready.

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Sabudana khichdi or Javvarisi upma

A simple and easy evening tiffin recipe that is popular in Maharastra is sabudana khichdi or sago khichdi.

Soak sabudana or javvarisi in water such that the water level is just above the sago.  This will ensure that the sago particles are discrete other wise they will stick together.  Let it soak for three to four hours.


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  • The other ingredients are , chopped green chillies , finely chopped coriander leaves and finely ground peanut or ground nut powder. 
  •  To saute we use only jeera ( cumin seeds )
  • Take two table spoons of oil in a vessel and when the oil becomes hot add cumin seeds
  • Then add green chillies and saute
  • We can also add finely chopped potato and fry in oil.
  • Add the sabudana and heat till it is completely cooked ( colour changes )
  • Now add the ground powder and mix well 
  • Finally add the chopped coriander leaves.
  • Adding little sugar is optional however add salt to taste
  • A quick  and easy evening tiffin recipe is ready.  Only the time taken for soaking sabudana ( javvarisi ) matters.


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Quick and easy sweet appam

  • This appam is usually prepared using jaggery and as a neivedyam for Krishna Jayanthi in our family.
  • Take one cup sugar , one cup maida , one cup boiled  milk and some cardamom seeds
  • Mix sugar , maida in milk and wait for the sugar to dissolve - it may take around 10 minutes
  • Add cardamom , the viscosity of the batter is as shown in the picture
  • Heat the stove and when oil is hot turn to sim position
  • Pour the batter in hot oil using a ladle or spoon 
  • Once the appam becomes brown turn to the other side so that the appam gets cooked evenly
  • We should fry the appam one by one otherwise they will stick together in the oil
  • This naivedyam can also be a easy evening snack when guests arrive suddenly.
  • Children will also love it because of the sweet taste.
  • The only precaution we have to take is see that the appam is fried evenly throughout without any uncooked batter.
  • Since it is sweet no particular side dish is required
  • We prepare it on Krishna Jayanthi ( Janmastami ) as an offering.

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An easy and different vendhaya or fenugreek dosai

Ingredients

Idli rice - 6 measures
Urad dhall - half meausre
Fenugreek - 2 table spoons

Soak these in water and wet grind in a mixer.

After grinding allow the batter to ferment for six hours.  In case we need to prepare the dosas immediately, we can add butter milk and make the dosais

The  batter should be spread thick so that we get soft dosais

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How to make sandwich without griller

  • One of the easiest breakfast or evening tiffin recipes is the popular bread sandwich.  We can make it even if we do not have a griller. 
  • Remove the crust of the bread slices.  Heat two slices on a flat tava after applying butter.
  • Repeat the same procedure after flipping the slices.
  • For filling in this sandwich I have added sweet corn cooked to which pepper powder has been added.
  • Any sauce or spread can be applied to the two inner sides of the slices, the filling kept inside and served.
  • I have used mult-grain bread
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How to make pesarattu

Take green gram and raw rice in the ratio 2:1 and soak the mixture in water for 6 to 8 hours
Drain water, wash well, twice or thrice and add green chillies ( more than three will make it hot )
and ginger and grind in a mixer to get the paste as shown in the photo.  Add finely chopped onions
for additional flavour and taste.  Onion may also be sprinkled while making the pesarattu.  You can substitute moong dhall ( paasi paruppu ) for green gram.  Make pesarattu as you make a regular dosa and serve with coconut chutney.  


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