Raised Vegetable Garden

It's been a joy and truly a labor of love piecing our raised bed garden together. We learnt a lot from our last/first attempt at gardening and this time we were better planned.

The Best Pizza Dough

We got a bit tired of our whole wheat pizza dough I think we got too accustomed to it and decided it needed some tweaking.

US Road trips

We've made a few road trips around the US. There's a lot to see here and a lot of distance to cover. Here are some of our trips on the east coast.

Panama

Panama's carnival celebration in Panama City are supposed to be the second largest in the world. Enjoyed this big party with fantastic street food, dozens of stages and loud music blaring at every corner.

Canada

Canada has some of the most beautiful sceneries and landscapes. I hope to drive across to the West coast some day but till then here's a glimpse of Toronto and beyond.

Fat Bastard! - A Christmas special!

My first attempt at Turkey. After checking out Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver's recipes I took a bit from both and came up with this recipe. Merry Christmas!

Christmas turkey


Ingredients:-
  • A young turkey, 6 kg;
  • Soft butter;
  • Salt, pepper;
  • Olive oil;
  • Juice and zest of 2 lemons;
  • 3 cloves of garlic;
  • A handful of chopped fresh parsley;
  • 1 onion;
  • 1 Grapefruit;
  • Bay leaves
  • Smoked bacon.

Procedure:-
  • Separate gently the skin from the body, so you can fill with the prepared butter mixture.
  • In a bowl mix the butter with salt, pepper and olive oil.
  • Add zest and lemon juice, garlic and parsley to the butter mixture
  • Season the turkey inside with salt, pepper and place chopped onions and grapefruit inside Fat Bastard along with the bay leaves.
  • Push the butter under his turkey skin while massaging him so as to spread evenly across his torso.
  • Place a little of the butter mix on the outer skin as well.
  • Drizzle with oil and place in an oven heated to 220 ° C (430 F) for 10 minutes. You want to zap him for a crisp brown exterior.
  • After the first 10 minutes of baking, remove the bugger from the oven and cover with the released juice in the pan. Coat him neatly with slices of English bacon.
  • Now place him in the oven again and bake about 3 hours (half an hour per kilo) at 180 ° C (360 F).
  • Keep pouring the juice on him every 20 minutes to keep him nice and moist
  • Cool him down and serve.

Christmas Time is Here!

The best time of the year is here! Christmas preperation is now in top gear. Lot of exciting posts to come during this festive season so stay tuned!
 
Our first snow is here!

The Christmas tree is up!

The Gingerbread men lead the sweets preperation
    
Our spirits are higher than ever! The new cellar is getting equipped :)



Home baked bread recipes | Bread maker recipes

Here are three of the nicest bread recipes yet. It's amazing how much you can throw into your loaf of bread! If only your local baker were to do the same but then again, this is more fun!







Ingredients:

a) Whole wheat bread with seeds (900 gr.)
  • 2 / 3 cup water;
  • 1 / 2 cup milk;
  • 2 tablespoons butter;
  • 2 tablespoons honey;
  • 1 1 / 3 teaspoon salt;
  • 2 1 / 2 cup flour;
  • 1 / 2 cup whole wheat flour;
  • 1 / 3 cup multi-grain flour;
  • 1 1 / 3 tsp dried yeast;
  • 1 / 3 cup sunflower seeds;
  • 2 tablespoons golden flax seed;
  • 1 1 / 3 tablespoons sesame seeds;
  • 1 1 / 3 tablespoons black sesame seeds;
  • 2 / 3 tablespoons fennel seeds;
  • 2 / 3 tablespoons poppy seeds;

b) Dark whole wheat bread (900 gr.)
  • 1 1 / 2 cup water;
  • 1 / 3 cup powdered milk;
  • 1 3 / 4 teaspoon salt;
  • 1 / 4 cup liquid honey;
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil;
  • 3 1 / 4 cup whole wheat flour;
  • 1 / 2 cup multi-grain flour;
  • 1 / 2 cup organic Kamut flour;
  • 1 1 / 2 teaspoons dry yeast;
  • 1 / 2 cup flax seed;


c) Cheese Bread with jalapeños:
  • 1 1 / 3 cup water;
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco;
  • 1 / 4 cup powdered milk;
  • 1 1 / 2 teaspoon salt;
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar;
  • 3 1 / 2 cups flour;
  • 1 cup corn flour;
  • 1 tablespoon crushed dried Jalapeño peppers;
  • 2 / 3 cup grated cheddar cheese;
  • 1 1 / 2 teaspoons dry yeast.

Procedure:
  • Choose on of the bread recipes above.
  • All material (except seeds at the end of the list) should be put into the breadmaker's pan in the order listed. Make sure the Yeast does not touch the liquid.
  • Set breadmaker cycle to "Whole wheat" bread cycle for bread A & B and "Sweet" for bread C.
  • After the breadmaker prompts you to add seeds (at the end of the kneading cycle), stir in the bread seeds for A & B.
  • Once the breadmaker finishes it's cycle, use gloves and remove the bread from the bread pan.
  • Let the bread cool down for 20 minutes before serving

Jalapeño Cheese Bread

Here's an excellent recipe taken from 250 Best Canadian Bread Machine Baking Recipes by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt. A great way to inaugurate the new bread machine!

Jalapeño Cheese Bread

Ingredients:-
  • 1 1/3 cups water 325ml
  • 1 tsp hot pepper sauce 5ml
  • 1/4 cup skim milk powder 50ml or 1 cup milk and adjust the water accordingly.
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt 7ml
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar 25ml
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour 875ml
  • 1 cup conrmeal 250ml
  • 1 tbsp crushed dried jalapeño peppers 15ml
  • 2/3 cup shredded old Cheddar cheese 150ml
  • 1 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast 7ml

Preparation:-
  • Place all the ingredients into the bread maker.
  • Choose the sweet cycle program


Halloween Special | Apple and Pumpkin Pie

Apple and Pumpkin Pie
Ingredients:-

- The dough:
  • 3 cups flour;
  • 2 tablespoons sugar;
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt;
  • 3/4 cup butter;
  • 3/4 cup water;
- The filling:
  • 7 finely chopped peeled apples;
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped pumpkin decorticated;
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries;
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch;
  • 1/2 cup sugar;
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice;
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon;
- Glaze
  • milk;
  • sugar.

Procedure:-
  • In a bowl, mix flour, sugar and salt. Slice butter into thin slices and add to the bowl along with a little water.
  • Once the dough is ready, divide into 2 parts - large and small. The larger part becomes the outer crust and the smaller the topping. 
  • Roll the dough for the crust and place into a greased mold. 
  • Roll the smaller topping out as well and cut into thin slices.
  • Keep both placed in the fridge.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Peel and cut the apples and pumpkin into small pieces and put them into a bowl. 
  • Stir in cranberries and cinnamon, pour some lemon juice. 
  • Preheat oven to 200 ° C (400 ° F).
  • In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with sugar and then add to the mix of apples and pumpkins and let it stand for 10 minutes.
  • Place in the crust and fix the crust topping. Brush with milk and sugar.
  • Place on the middle rack in the oven and let it bake for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, reduce the temperature to 190 ° C (375 F) and bake for approx 40 minutes.
  • Before serving, let it cool for 30-60 minutes.

Winter Tires for Honda Accord 2011 | Downsizing from 225/50R17 to 215/60R16

Which winter tire is best for the Honda Accord 2011?
The 2011 Honda Accord EX-L Coupe comes with all season tires size 225/50R17 and 17inch rims.

When switching to winter tires It is advisable to buy rims for them as well. This reduces the damage that can occur due to repeated tire rim changes over winters and also is cheaper from service charges for tire changes.

Downsizing from 225/50R17 to 215/60R16 
It is advisable to consider downsizing to winter tires size 215/60R16 with 16inch rims.

Michelin X-Ice Xi2 are one of the best winter tire options out there.

Though not so 'cool' from the looks of  it, this tiny difference in the dimension will greatly reduce your cost while increasing your vehicle's winter traction.

Pumpkin Soup Recipe

This was my first attempt at making pumpkin soup. Hand picked this pumpkin from a farm nearby. 

Halloween 2011
Ingredients:-
  • Pumpkin, 800 gr; 
  • Olive oil, 70 ml; 
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar; 
  • 1 onion; 
  • 3 potatoes, 200 gr.; 
  • Water, 700 ml; 
  • Whipping cream, 150 ml; 
  • Ground nutmeg; 
  • Salt and ground black pepper. 
How to make Pumpkin soup:- 
  • De-seed the pumpkin and cut it into cubes. The flesh can be used in soups or in a mixture of pancakes. 
  • Sprinkle the cubes with oil, vinegar and salt. 
  • Bake the cubes in a tray lined with baking paper for about 15 minutes at 180 ° C
  • In a large soup pot, fry the finely chopped onions. 
  • Add peeled and diced potatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes. 
  • Add the baked pumpkin and water to the pot. Cook until potatoes are soft.
  • Add cream, salt and pepper and blend to a smooth texture.
  • You can serve this delicious soup with some croutons.
A Halloween Special - Pumpkin Soup

Chinese Bitter Gourd Egg Burji

Chinese Bitter Gourd
Ingredients:-
1 Onion chopped
2 Sweet paprika diced
1 Chinese Bitter Gourd diced
1/4 tsp Garam Masala / Kitchen King
1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
4 eggs


Preparation:-
Fry the onions in olive oil with salad and turmeric powder.
Once the onions are transparent, add the chinese bitter gourd and sweet paprika.
Cover with lid and cook on slow fire for about 10 minutes till veggies are done.
Add garam masala and eggs and stir till eggs are done.

Indian Meat Ball Curry - Goan meat ball curry recipe

Meat ball curry has been one of my all time favorite dishes. The recipe is surprisingly simple and very tasty! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Gently fry the meatballs till the meat seals


Ingredients
  • Lean ground beef 500gm;
  • 3/4 tsp Red Chili powder
  • 2 onions
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp clove powder
  • 4 cloves of cardamon
  • salt, garlic and ginger paste
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lemon
  • Tomato puree 80ml;
  • Tbsp chopped mint
  • 2 Tbsp of chopped coriander

How to make Meat Ball Curry
    Indian Meat Ball Curry!
  • Marinate the ground beef (minced) with a spoon of garlic and ginger paste, an egg and one lemon.
  • Shape into meat balls the size a bit smaller than a golf ball.
  • Fry the meat balls in a hot pan with olive oil.
  • Set aside the meatballs in a cooking pot.
  • Fry chopped onions in the same heated pan.
  • Once the onions are golden brown add them to the pan
  • Add a small can of tomato puree and a cup of water to the cooking pot and set it on a low flame.
  • Add cinnamon, clove powder, cloves of cardamon, red chili powder, coriander and chopped mint. 
  • Simmer for about 20 mins and you've got the tastiest meat balls ever!

Chinese Spicy Hot And Sour Soup

I've had Shiitake mushrooms in almost every Vietnamese run Chinese restaurant but never quite knew what that ingredient was until I visited Pacific Mall in Toronto. This is my first attempt at using Shiitake mushrooms. This soup turned out delicious!

Chinese Spicy Hot And Sour Soup
Ingredients:
  • 10 Shiitake mushrooms  椎茸、シイタケ;
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil;
  • 1 onion;
  • 3 cloves garlic;
  • 1 cm ginger;
  • 3 chilli peppers;
  • 2 chicken breasts cut into strips;
  • 1 large carrot cut into sticks;
  • 5 cups water, 1 l;
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce;
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar;
  • 1 / 2 cans of sweet corn, 100 gr.;
  • tofu cut into strips, 200 gr.;
  • 3 spring onions;
  • 2 eggs.
How to make Sweet and sour Chinese soup
  • Place the dried mushrooms in boiling water and let it stand for about 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile chop the onion, garlic, ginger and chillies.
  • Fry the vegetables in oil.
  • Cut the Chicken and Carrots into long bits and add to mixture.
  • Chop the Shiitake finely. Add to pot along with the juice of mushrooms.
  • Pour water  and stir.
  • Add vinegar and soy sauce and cook for about 15 minutes.
  • Thicken with corn (or cornstarch).
  • Add beaten eggs and tofu and cook for a minute.
  • Serve garnished with finely chopped spring onions.

Salsa on St. Clair Street Festival | Dancing Salsa on the streets of Toronto 2011

The 2011 Salsa on St. Clair is Canada’s largest Latino-themed festival. We headed downtown to check it out on Saturday July 9. Dancing in the streets in the hot sun with lemonade and live music!

Now in it's 7th year, Salsa on St. Clair has attracted over a  million salsa lovers to the streets of Toronto since its launch in 2005!

Here are some pics from that festive day!







African , Bachata , Belly Dance , Brazilian , Kizomba , Reggaeton , Salsa , Samba

Murtabak, Martabak or Mutabbaq, (Arabic: مطبق‎)

I recently enjoyed watching the preparation and finally  relishing the famous Malaysian Murtabak.

Murtabak, Martabak or Mutabbaq, (Arabic: مطبق‎)  is a popular road side snack or appetizer that includes minced mutton, along with garlic, egg and onion  and is often served with curry for dipping.

This has got to be one of the tastiest street food I've sampled in a while. Reminds me of Bade Miya situated in a bylane at Colaba famous for their kababs and rolls.

Palak Paneer | Indian Cottage Cheese with Spinach पालक पनीर

One of the most widely served Indian cottage cheese dishes is Palak Paneer  Indian Cottage Cheese with Spinach. Here's my take on this dish. It's a healthier version so might not be as thick and creamy but tastes great all the same.

Palak Paneer -  Indian Cottage Cheese with Spinach  पालक पनीर

2011 Black Honda Accord Coupe High Resolution Pictures

2011 Black Honda Accord Coupe

Rear view : 2011 Black Honda Accord Coupe

2011 Honda Accord Coupe -  Black

Gordon Ramsay Delicious Pork Sirloin with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Parsley

Here is a Gordon Ramsay inspired Delicious Pork Sirloin with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Parsley

Gordon Ramsay Delicious Pork Sirloin with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Parsley







Pork Sirloin with the Ingredients


Ingredients:-
  • Pork sirloin, 1 kg;
  • Lemon Zest;
  • Fresh Parsley;
  • 2 cloves Garlic;
  • Sun Dried Tomatoes, 50 gr;
  • Salt and Pepper;
  • Olive oil;
Straight from the Oven.

Procedure:-
  • Cut pork tenderloin lengthwise from one side so it an be stuffed.
  • Add some freshly chopped parsley, salt, pepper, sun dried tomatoes and lemon zest in between the meat.
  • Sprinkle some virgin olive oil.
  • Roll it back and secure with some thread.
  • Chop some potatoes which can be baked along with the pork.
  • Bake in a preheated oven for about an hour on high.
  • After baking, leave to cool and then remove the string.
  • Cut into slices and serve.

Scarborough Bluffs Trail

Scarborough Bluffs or Bluffers Park starts off at the foot of Brimley Road in Scarborough. The bluffs are actually quite impressive with it's nice walking trail below the bluffs that lead through the park as well as some of the naturalized areas between the cliffs and the park.

Scarborough Bluffs

The Scarborough Bluffs are about14km along the Lake Ontario shore rising upto 65m above the water. Definitely a lovely escape from the mad traffic rush.

Scarborough Bluffs Trail

Mexican Enchiladas with a vegetable sauce

Here's my version of a Muscle & Fitness Recipe Mexican Enchiladas with a vegetable sauce
Mexican Enchiladas with a vegetable sauce

Ingredients:-
  •  4 whole wheat tortillas;
  • 2 cloves of garlic;
  •   Juice of 1 / 2 lemon;
  •  1 green pepper finely chopped;
  •  1 large onion finely chopped;
  •  Chopped fresh coriander;
  •  White yogurt, 300 gr.;
  •  Olive oil, Salt and Colored ground pepper;
  •  Canned corn, Chickpeas and Olives;
  •  Chicken, 500 gr.;
  • 1 chili pepper;
  •  Diced tomatoes, 400 ml;

How to make Mexican Enchiladas with a vegetable sauce:-
  • First, prepare the sauce. Fry in oil, 1 / 2 onion, garlic, chili pepper and paprika. Add crushed tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Season with salt, add the chopped coriander and lemon juice.
  • In another pot prepare the filling for tortillas. Fry the onions with chicken and pepper. Add corn, chickpeas and olives. Stir in yogurt and cook a minute, until sauce thickens.
  • Fill tortillas with mixture, roll up and put on baking tray. Sprinkle with tomato sauce and leave for about 15 minutes.

Stuffed Bell Peppers | Greek Gemista Recipe

Here's a delicious spicy beef recipe. Greek Gemista. I have noted the traditional recipe and did add a little more chilli for that extra heat.

Stuffed Bell Peppers | Greek Gemista Recipe


Ingredients:- (for 3 persons):
  • Minced beef, 330 g;
  • 6 medium sized bell peppers with a flat base;
  • 3 Tb olive oil;
  • 1 onion chopped, 100 g;
  • 3 / 5 cups rice, 150 g;
  • chopped parsley, 80 g;
  • tomato purée, 500 g;
  • salt, ground black pepper
Preparation:-
  • Wash vegetables. Cut the tops of the peppers.
  • Scoop out the insides of the peppers.
  • Fry the onions till golden brown and add the ground beef, tomato extract, rice and spices and cook on a low flame till the rice is 80% done.
  • Fill the bell peppers with this meat rice mixture and place on a greased baking tray.
  • Put the lids of the vegetables and bake for an hour. You will need to keep adding water so they do not dry and burn.

Gordon Ramsay's Red snapper with chilli, tamarind and lime sauce recipe

This has got to be my Recipe of the Year 2011 !!! Simply delicious, easy to make and so rewarding! Thanks once again to the amazing Gordon Ramsay.

Gordon Ramsay's Red snapper with chilli, tamarind and lime sauce recipe



Ingredients:-
  • 4 red snapper fillets, about 100-120g each.
  • Sea salt and black pepper.
  • 2 tbsp vegetable or groundnut oil.
  • Rucola Salad

     For the sauce:
  • 1½ tbsp vegetable or groundnut oil.
  • 4 long red chillies, de-seeded and chopped.
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped.
  • 4 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced on the diagonal.
  • 2 tbsp lime juice.4 tbsp tamarind paste (or lime juice).2 tbsp soy sauce.
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce.
  • 2 tsp palm sugar (or soft light brown sugar).
  • 2 tbsp water .

How to make red snapper with chilli, tamarind and lime sauce

  • For the sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. 
  • Add the chillies and garlic and stir frequently for about 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients, stir well and simmer gently for about 5-10 minutes until the sauce thickens. If it thickens too much, add a touch more water to thin it down.
  • Season the red snapper fillets with salt and pepper. 
  • Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan. Fry the fish fillets, skin-side down, for 90 seconds until the skin is light golden brown and the fish is cooked two-thirds of the way up. Flip the fish over and cook the other side for about 30 seconds just until the flesh turns opaque and feels firm.
  • Season the Rucola (Rocket salad) with virgin olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper



Gordon: "This is my take on a dish I enjoyed in Thailand several years ago - a whole crispy fried pomfret smothered in a delicious sweet, sour and hot tamarind sauce. Utterly divine. My healthier version uses red snapper fillets, but you can use any firm white fish for this recipe."


Recipe from http://www.channel4.com/4food/recipes/chefs/gordon-ramsay/red-snapper-with-tamarind-lime-sauce-recipe


Gordon Ramsay's Steak with Caramelized Onions and Snow Peas

Here's another great Steak recipe inspired by Gordon Ramsay's Caramelized Onions and Seared Beef.

Gordon Ramsay inspired Steak with Caramelized Onions with Sweet Baby peas

Boneless Sirloin steaks
Ingredients:-
  • 2 boneless sirloin steaks (a pound each and about 1/2 inch thick)
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced and mashed into a paste
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 red onions, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/3-inch-thick wedges
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • A bag of Sweet Baby peas(young/early)
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Caramelized Onions
Preparation:-
  • Rub the steaks with garlic paste and 2 tablespoons oil, coating completely and place aside.
  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium- high heat until hot and just starting to smoke. 
  • Reduce to medium heat and fry the onions until golden brown 
  • Add sugar, vinegar, and 2 tablespoons water; simmer, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender. keep the flame down to minimum now. It should be done in 3-5 minutes.
  • In the meantime season the steaks with salt and pepper. 
  • Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a steak skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. 
  • Cook steaks until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board, and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.
  • In the meantime fry the Sweet Baby peas in butter.


La Salsiccia | Italian Sausage with Couscous and Vegetable Stir Fry

Grill Italian Sausage La Salsiccia with thyme and oregano. Make sure you poke/pierce the sausages with a fork so that the fat can escape. It shouldn't take more than 10 minutes on the grill each side.

Heat up some water in the kettle and get your Couscous ready. That's a no brainer.

Stir Fry Vegetables are always easy. Chop some Cabbage, Onion, Mushrooms, Capsicum and Red Chili.


Italian Sausage La Salsiccia


Italian Sausage La Salsiccia with Couscous and Vegetable Stir Fry

Chicken Hakka Noodles Recipe | Indian Chineese Hakka Noodles

Here's one classic Indian Chinese preparation of Fried Noodles. Chicken Hakka Noodles best served with Chicken Schezwan or Chicken Manchurian.





Ingredients:-
  • 2 cups Flat Egg Noodles (also called Hakka noodles); boiled and strained
  • 4 chicken thighs boned
  • 1 Table spoon of Garlic Ginger paste
  • 3 Red Chinese Chilies
  • 2 Spring Onion
  • 1 small Capsicum (sliced)
  • 1/4 Cabbage
  • 1 big Carrot
  • 1/2 tsp Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Oil
  • 1 1/2 soya sauce
  • 1 small Onion
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Salt to taste


Chicken Hakka Noodles Ingredients.
How to make Hakka Noodles:-
  • Marinate the chicken pieces in soya sauce for about half an hour before you start.
  • Heat oil in a pan, add chilli, chopped onion and garlic ginger paste and fry for a minute.
  • Add the chicken pieces and let the meat cook a bit.
  • Cut the carrot into this long matchstick shaped bits and the cabbage into this strips
  • Add the chopped carrot and cabbage.
  • Try and time the capsicum so it gets cooked along with the chicken.
  • Now add the boiled and strained noodles and salt (to taste) and mix well.
  • Add vinegar and soya sauce and some Hoisin sauce and mix it well.
  • Put the chopped spring onion right at the end and switch off the wok. You want those spring onions nice and crunchy.
  • You can fry an egg or two and place on the top. That does make it more exciting :)

Chicken Hakka Noodles.

Travel South India | Planning a trip through Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu is a state in Southern India known for its temples, architecture, food, movies and it's classical Indian dance and Carnatic music. The languages spoken here is predominantly Tamil but you can get away with English especially in the larger cities and the capital Chennai.

Here is 5 day travelogue of our journey around Tamil Nadu. We started our journey in Madurai, the oldest city in Tamil Nadu also known as the Athens of the East. And then on to a lovely traditional wedding in Trichy, Tiruchirapalli, the city of Rock Fort and Temples and then relax at Kodaikanal before heading down to Ramanathapuram and Rameshwaram, the birth place of Rama and all the way to the Land's End at Dhanushkodi.

Meenakshi Amman Temple



Day 1: Madurai மதுரை | Meenakshi Amman Temple, Tirumalai Nayak Palace and Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam.

The Meenakshi Amman Temple or Meenakshiamman Kovil is one of the most important places of Hindu pilgrimage, located in the heart of Madurai. It was built by Kulasekara Pandya in the pre-Christian era and is an outstanding example of Vijayanagar temple architecture. I shall upload a post just on this temple and it's 1000 pillar chamber.

A km from the Meenakshi Temple lies the Tirumalai Nayak Palace which is worth checking out as well.

Devotees at Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple

Five kilometres east of the Meenakshi temple is the Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam. At the centre of the tank is an idol of Lord Vinayaka or Vigneshwara installed on a platform.

You need two days at least to cover Madurai and a vehicle for sure. That's how we did it. Your best bet is to get a tourist vehicle at your hotel who knows the layout or you might land up needing a week just to figure things out :)

>> Inside Meenakshi Amman Temple.

Thirumalai Nayak Palace
Thirumalai Nayak Palace, built in the 17th century by King Thirumalai Nayak, one of the Madurai Nayak rulers in 1636 AD is right in the heart of the the city of Madurai

During the 17th century the Kingdom of Madurai had many Portuguese, Dutch and other European traders, missionaries and visiting travelers. Tirumala Nayak is believed to have recruited the services of an Italian architect to build his Palace. The original Palace Complex was four times bigger than the present structure.

Vandiyur Mariamman Teppkulam
Thirumalai Nayak Palace had two parts, Swargavilasa and Rangavilasa. In these parts, there were the
royal residence, a theatre, a shrine, some apartments, an armoury, a palanquin place, a bandstand, a pond and garden. Tirumala Nayaka was the greatest of the Nayaka rulers. The Nayakas of Madurai ruled South India as the Governors of Vijayanagar emperors and gradually became independent rulers as the empire began to fall.




Day 3: Kodaikanal கொடைக்கானல் | Coaker's Walk, Bryant Park, Kodai lake, Kurinji Andavar Temple and Rat Tail Falls 

Kodaikanal is one of India's most beautiful hill stations. Situated at an altitude of about 2,133 m, it's a beautiful getaway from the heat in Tamil Nadu.

The drive from Madurai to Kodaikanal is beautiful along the winding Western Ghats with several viewpoints along the way.

The star shaped Kodai lake created in 1863 by Sir Vere Hendry Levinge who was the collector of Madurai is now the major attraction.

There are beautiful bungalows near the lake and the sights and smells and aura of this place is just magical. I would loved to have stayed a few more days here.

There are options to go boating and horse riding at the lake. Not too far off is the Kurinji Andavar Temple, a famous shrine dedicated to Lord Muruga which is worth a visit as well. 

Do not miss the beautiful Dum Dum viewpoint to the the Thalaiyar Falls, also known as Rat Tail Falls located in the Palani Hills
The breathtaking view from Coaker's Walk which runs along a steep green wooded slope





The star shaped Kodai lake

Dum Dum viewpoint to Thalaiyar Falls,





Day 4: Ramanathapuram இராமநாதபுரம் | Pamban Island and Rameswaram

Heading down the Indian Peninsular to an Island that seperates India with Sri Lanka, Pamban Island which falls in the Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu has some breath taking scenery AND some life taking smells :)

Pamban, situated at the western edge of Pamban Island, is a fishing village and harbour which is the main point of entry for the pilgrimage centre of Rameswaram

Fishermen in the Bay of Bengal



Rameshwarm's Ramanathaswamy temple

Rameshwarm, situated in the Gulf of Mannar at the very tip of the Indian peninsular  is considered to be one of the holiest places in India for the Hindus. 

According to the legend,  Lord Rama built a bridge Ram Setu (also known as Adam's Bridge) across the sea from Rameshwaram to Lanka to rescue Sita from Ravana.

There are around 22 fresh water wells located within the Rameshwaram Ramanathaswamy temple.

It is believed that by bathing in the sea followed by a bath in each of these wells can get rid of all the sins committed during a lifetime.

The water in each of the wells taste different despite being located next to each other. The pilgrims for Sabarimala usually wear a dark blue or black dhoti, tulasimala (a necklace made of tulsi or basil), a marking on their forehead with bhasma (ash) and uncut hair and a beard. These are devotees of Ayyappa.

The famous Ramanathaswamy temple

Day 5: Dhanushkodi தனுஷ்கோடி

Dhanushkodi has the only land border between India and Sri Lanka. It is one of the smallest in the world at just 50 yards in length on a shoal in Palk Strait. The small village of Dhanushkodi, at the southern tip of Rameswaram island is just 15 kilometers from Sri Lanka.

The Dhanushkodi railway line running from Pamban Station was destroyed in the 1964 cyclone. Now mini trucks transport people to the Lands End. The sea is known to be quite still here and homes some rather interesting coral in these parts. According to the legend Rama had Adam's Bridge built from floating rock and I happened to see one of them myself.

The little fisherman at Dhanushkodi


Fisher women bringing in the catch at Dhanushkodi


According to the legend, Lord Rama built a bridge Ram Setu (also known as Adam's Bridge) across the sea from Dhanushkodi to Lanka to rescue Sita from Ravana.

The food in South India is definately another highlight! Spicy with a lot of coconut in just about everything. You can even expect a spicy breakfast. If that isn't all there's even an airline that serves these spicy meals on board. Imagine an aircraft scenting of all those Sambars, Idlis and Wadas.

There's a way to eat food down south. Read about the Traditional way of eating in Tamil Nadu