About Me

Someone who fell in love with the natural world early on and has been smitten ever since. A blade of grass, a mighty mountain, a tiny raindrop, a roaring waterfall, all fill me with awe and wonder. Nature feels home, filled with warmth and love. It pains my heart to see this home being ravaged. This blog is an effort to find tweaks in modern living to preserve the sanctity of this home. I sincerely hope that you join me in this green karmic journey.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

How To Make Curd/ Yoghurt At Home

It has become very popular to buy readymade curd these days. There are many things going for it. It is convenient, well set, smooth, thick and tastes divine. There are a few issues, however, which just kills it for me. It leaves a plastic trail, isn't exactly economical, the ingredients which make it so firm look suspicious and the fear of plastic leachates in curd are a put-off.

I have always seen curd being made at home. It looked as easy as 1-2-3 when Mom did it in hot Rajasthani summers but became as tricky as solving Rubiks's cube when I tried it in cold climes of Europe. Now in Bangalore, I set my own curd and though it doesn't come as thick as ready ones, it's pretty good. The procedure is easy.


500 ml milk
1 tablespoon curd


1. Boil milk. Let it cool till it is lukewarm. To test the temperature, dip a finger in milk and count till ten. If you are able to hold your finger comfortably, it is the right temperature. If you can't, wait further.....hum a song, drink some water, take deep breaths....(Trust me, after a few times it would be enough to dip your finger for a second to judge the right temperature) If the milk is not warm enough to begin with, reheat it and follow the above procedure again.

2.Transfer milk into a bowl. You can use steel, glass, ceramic or clay bowl. (Of course, you can use plastic but it isn't my favorite material on earth so I'll give it a miss.)You can also set it in individual ready-to-serve mini bowls or katoris.

3. Add a spoonful of curd and mix nicely. Consider mixing it by transferring from one container to another.

4. Cover it and keep undisturbed for 6-8 hours in a warm corner. Setting time would depend on the climate you live in. If you live in a cold climate, read the tips given below.

5. Open the lid and voila, curd is ready! You can eat it straight away, refrigerate it, strain it....the options are endless.


1. If you use buffalo milk, you will get thick and chunky curd like the ready variety.

2. You can make flavoured curd by adding a little of fresh fruit pulp like strawberry and mango. Add pulp after point number 2 and follow the rest of the procedure.

3. If you live in a cold climate, place the bowl inside a casserole. Cover the casserole with a thick towel or a woolen cloth. Alternatively, heat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 2 minutes. Switch off and put the container inside the oven with lights on.

What can go wrong:
At times, your dream curd won't set. Here's what can go wrong and how to fix it.

Curd isn't firm even after 12 -15 hours - It will be in a trishanku semi-solid state. Neither milk, nor curd. 
Use this curd to make semolina uttapams. In future, add the curd in larger quantity at a slightly higher temperature. Practice will make you perfect. Try on small batches.

Curd is stringy or slimy - It has set in a semi-solid state with strings in it. Did you use a culture from store-bought yogurt? Use a starter culture from someone who sets homemade curd. As to what to do with this curd? Back to semolina uttapams!

Curd is too sour - Curd has set well but has become too sour. Maybe, it was left out for too long. Use it for making kadhi, handava, chaach or those semolina uttapams :)

For recipes with curd, check out my cookery blog. Enjoy your eco-friendly dahi!

Tuesday 3 December 2013

To Plant Or Not To Plant - The Curry Leaf Conundrum

Those of us who live in apartment complexes, enjoy a bit of greenery in the form of ornamental trees, bushes, and lawns. When my Mom came visiting and she wanted a sprig of curry leaf, she wondered why we didn't grow useful plants like curry leaves, tulsi, aloe vera, etc. in our common landscape. Valid question. This had crossed my mind too but when she aired it, it set me thinking.

Recently, a similar thought was echoed by a visiting farmer who practices organic farming. According to him, all available land should be used to grow food. In this day and age when there are multiple issues around food, it is imperative that we grow as much of our own food as possible. Plants with medicinal and culinary value should be an integral part of every community landscape. Only if we could work it out!

The usual defense against growing any useful trees in common areas is that they would be plundered. Isn't it a pity? We have resources of land, water, labour, money but we can't put them to effective use because it would lead to wars - issues of who gets what and how much. 

I think this is a classic case of the tragedy of commons. (Those who are too lazy to click the link, here's a simple explanation. Picture a piece of grazing land which is free for common use. To get the maximum benefit out of the land, each owner would try to put as many cows for grazing as he can. In this way, while the gains from putting an additional cow would be enjoyed by the individual, the cost in terms of decreased grass would be shared by all. Over a period of time, there would be too many cows with no grass and everybody would lose out.)

If we replace this pasture with curry leaf trees, we can picture people plucking more and more leaves out of self-interest without giving a thought to the sustainability of the tree. Soon enough, the tree would die and we would all lose out. Though we are a community of highly educated people, human nature would overpower reason and we wouldn't be able to manage our common resources. Sounds sad, doesn't it? 

Nevertheless, in my opinion, we should go ahead and plant a few curry leaf and drumstick trees. Say one curry leaf plant per block. The plants should be protected by enclosures till they are mature and then they should be open for use. Out of 216 apartments, how many would
- use curry leaf every day?
- would be willing to come down to pluck their share? 

I don't think there would be too many (how many of us use the clubhouse though we pay for it?) 

It wouldn't be possible to monitor trees so it would depend on residents (and housekeeping and helps) to behave responsibly. Though it might not work out, it's worth the experiment. What say, folks? Do you think a handful of curry leaves is worth bothering about? Will it work / won't work? Why? Has your apartment complex successfully managed such a resource? How can we ensure sustainable use of such resources?

Out with your ideas now so that we can reach a common ground. Tragedy or comedy of commons, we need to try out things for our own good.