Delicious World of Chefette Spicy

formerly Ladles and High Heels


Detailed Post with Pictures: Pori Urundai aka Puffed Rice Balls

Gluttony is described by most dictionaries around the world as over-indulging oneself with food. This is also what we have been doing at home since my mommy and daddy-in-law came from India a week ago. This is where I side-track from the topic of food. More than 75% of this world has a raw deal when it comes to in-laws. They are either the Cinderella stepmother kind or the nonchalant, I-care-a-rat’s-rear-about-what-you-do-in-your-life kind. I am one of the lucky 25% of the population. Coming to think of it, I am the even luckier 2% of the world with the most wonderful parents-in-law (and yes, an equally wonderful brother-in-law too, K!) ever.
pori urundai2I have awesome, bordering on hilarious, story about meeting them for the first time but I am saving that for later. As a girl who lost her father in her life, my daddy borrowed has become that constant father figure and everyone only knows that it is always merrier to have two mothers. And I have the best of em! So a lot of excitement has been happening (and all of them revolving around the baby of the family) since they arrived last Sunday with four huge suitcases, three of which were filled with Indian food! Food! Food! While we are still in the process of demolishing the stock, we had a South Indian festival called Karthigai yesterday which required a whole new and very specific set of goodies that we made at home. Ahem, okay, L Amma made at home and I clicked pics of and pretty much got in her way.

So this post might be picture-heavy, text-heavy and every other heavy there is. I went crazy with the camera, you see! Pori is nothing but puffed rice and Urundai is the process of molding the balls. So we essentially made Rice Krispies balls, a close cousin to Halloween popcorn balls. Instead of sugar syrup, we use jaggery syrup. Karthigai is the day we in the South of India celebrate the birth of Lord Muruga, Lord Ganesha‘s younger brother.

It also marks the beginning of the Tamil month of Karthikai. On this day, we make lots of delicious food, light rows of lamps and decorate the house with flowers. My grandfather used to enjoy watching us beautify the house. After a few minutes of offering our birthday wishes to Muruga, we would dig into the delicious Pori Urundais, reveling in the joy of the warm taste of caramelized jaggery-coated puffed rice.

The picture part of this post commences here. I have recorded the complicated method of making in pictured. Since Amma is a pro at making these sweet treats, she was pretty deft. I did my best to keep up with her. Some of my pics ended up being a complete failure but I managed to capture ’em all!

Freshly scraped coconut

Freshly scraped coconut


Powdered jaggery mixed with water, ready to be boiled

Puffed rice

Puffed rice


Boiling the jaggery… waiting for it to reach the right consistency is one of the toughest acts of patience. Ever.

The jaggery is done when  it forms a ball when a few drops are trickled into a cup of cold water

The jaggery is done when it forms a ball when a few drops are trickled into a cup of cold water and rolled with the tips of your finger

The jaggery solution is mixed with white sesame seeds, coconut scrapings and dry ginger powder, and the mixed with the puffed rice

The jaggery solution is mixed with white sesame seeds, coconut scrapings and dry ginger powder, and the mixed with the puffed rice

The mixture is finally shaped with loving hands and made into tight balls

The mixture is finally shaped with loving hands and made into tight balls

Lamps adorning the house

Lamps adorning the house


pori urundai

Ta da! They are finally ready to be offered to Lord Muruga for his birthday



Conversations in the Dark

Lights hold a magical place in my heart. I have been fascinated for a long time by the mere physics of light and how it can transform any space into an epitome of sophistication. Though I did not understand its importance while studying photography, I appreciated light later on when my sister started clicking photos. I studied the way a smile can be transformed from mystery to carefree with a little tweak in light.

Later on, as I tried my hand at redoing my room back home, I made peace with the fact that my sassy pad needed at least one awesome light spot. Thus, my corridor came into being, with a tiny spotlight to spread a golden glow across a small, low ceiling stretch.

It is perhaps only because of lights that I found a deep love for terracotta. This traditional form of molding boasts specifically of beautiful pieces of table lamps and ceiling domes. And it is, indeed lights that brought me to lighting candles, sitting by them and making finger patterns.

I knew long ago that when I live in a house of my own, I will ditch the sterile tube lights and surround myself with pretty lamps and conversation pieces that would glow at the touch of a finger. My love for IKEA actually developed because of their beautiful Lights Section. I remember spending nearly an hour and a half looking at lamps and figuring out which one to buy. The hubby, thankfully, is also a finicky shopper, hence we found our soul-mates in each other right there in the Lamps Section.

As I concentrated on clicking poorly framed photographs around lighting, natural and otherwise, I decided to make a lamp of my own. The inspiration for the lamp flared from a weird but well-designed origami the hubby made out of plastic bag-seal from the supermarket. After researching the internet and picking on other lamp enthusiasts’ brains, I formed a plan, spent exactly $15 on hardware that included the dome, lamp-base, metal scone, electrical links and bulb. Hence the Foil Haphazard lamp came into being.

Light still fascinates me. Every house I go to, the first thing I notice is the lighting in the rooms and the glow they cast upon every conversation in progress. I watch HGTV especially to get a peep at the beautiful contemporary chandeliers and bright backyards. Someday, I will finally be done with doing up my house and that day will find every room lit up in dazzling lights that will not be too bright but boast of character.

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The Crazy Boredom Nook

Boredom interests me. I know it is an oxymoron-ish sentence but it does. It works out best in my life because, you know, my situation calls for a lot of patience and, well, professional dormancy. Before I go on and on about this already over-spoken about situation, let me explain.

I look for projects, well and badly executed, around the house. My single living companion, apart from the mister, Frodo was a project who happens to be thriving, thank you very much. The DC sun has agreed with him (one of those few people who is happy with the 116 F) wonderfully. While he basked in the sunshine and Brita cleansed H2O, I went around the house looking for something to change, to make interesting. I stumbled upon that one place I camp at the most, the living room.

Now, constantly tuning into HGTV has its own advantages. While I did know that clutter is not a decent way of life, I learned that design has no sane boundaries. So yesterday, after a very boring weekend, down came the decorative shelves and out came the potpourri and random trinkets. The man of the house objected to the feminine touch but I slily sent him back to his SkyDesi haven after he swapped our living room and bedroom lighting.

The situation right now is a bit of a mess while I figure out the changes but then, I am hoping to end up with a Zen inspired living space that we can both enjoy while watching, what else, Two and a Half Men. For now, I have my awesome lights for company. What else do I really need?

My Bright Friend