Tuesday, June 10, 2014

SPECTACULAR JORDAN

We decided to tour Jordan after seeing its spectacular places on films. We did a lot of research on the internet about the places we need to visit and stay. We booked our tickets online for the travel. We were searching about the hotels to stay, the rooms, facilities, place, etc. During this time we had been to the Jordan embassy to apply for Visa and I picked 1 book and 1 flyer from VisitJordan. These materials had lot of information about the places to visit and the other details required including 3 itineraries …Things made easy!! Wow! We don’t need to plan anymore that was my thoughts after seeing the itinerary. We visited the Visit Jordan website and there were a list of websites of tour operators. We handpicked few and contacted them through email, telephone. We received a prompt reply from Jordan Experience Tours. They gave us an itinerary with the cost. Then we asked them to add some more places to visit and chose our hotels. The package was ready and we were told we will be picked at the airport and that we can pay the package cost to them there in Jordan.
We reached Jordan from Bahrain in Etihad airways. We were picked at the airport by the driver Mr.Bassim. We insisted on meeting the sales person of Jordan experience Tours who was communicating with us over email. So we went to their office, met the lady and paid the package cost. Then we were dropped at RUM hotel for stay. After taking rest and freshening up we went for a walk and reached The Galleria Mall, Amman. We walked around, took few pictures and returned to the hotel after buying some Nestle water in a store just next to Rum hotel. We were served dinner in hotel.

 On the next day after breakfast we left to Citadel. Amman has Roman, Turkish, Muslim civilization. The Citadel is a city destroyed by the earthquake in 749AD.There is a mosque, Temple of Hercules, Cemetry,WatchTower,Well,Souq, Palace, Houses, Caves used as tombs,TurkishBath,Palace Tower inside the Citadel. We hired a tour guide and went around Citadel.The Citadel had a very good view of Amman and it had a big museum showcasing the pottery, coffins, warfare, ornaments restored from there and from Jerash. Then we left to Roman Theatre in Amman.There is a museum inside the place. Then we left to see the desert castles. The Desert Castles were built as a rest house for people going on a pilgrimage to Mecca or for those who are hunting in the desert. Since the castles are built with sand stones, the temperature inside the castle is very low keeping it cool. First we went to Qasr Al Kharana Castle.this was a big one and in the centre there is no roof and anyone in the first floor can look into the centre of the castle. The rooms were very big to accommodate many people. Then we left to Um Al Khas Desert Castle. It had painting on the floor, walls, Cielings.The paintings were being restored by UN and work was going on when we had been there. This castle is in the world heritage site list because it is the only building restored from the Umayan period.The castle also had mosaic work in its paintings. Then next we visited Azrak castle.It was a very big one with a huge empty space in the middle and many empty rooms.It was built for soldiers to stay. It had stone doors and 1 storey. There was a well and mosque. It was built using asphalt stones. After the visits we had lunch in a local restaurant and we were dropped at hotel. We again went around wakalat street .We had avocado and honey milkshake, strawberry milkshake at lebnani snack. Awesome taste. Then we took a taxi and reached Mecca Mall. Then had some Indian snacks there in an Indian Restaurant and left back to hotel and had dinner.

Some Knowledge sharing: There are 19 hills in Jordan. There are colours in Jordan flag: White Umayan rule Green Fatima rule Black Ottomon Rule Red Hashemite Kingdom 7 stars are the 7 phrases of Quran.(knowledge given by the Guide at Citadel)..

 On the 2nd day, we left the hotel after breakfast and reached UM Qaais after a looooonnnnng travel. In Umqaais, we hired a local guide Ahmed.Umqaais was a whole city built by Romans. It was in the shape of Cross. It had a nympheaum,Shops,theatre,Church,Octagon point, Temple of God of Fertility,WaterChannels,A good Viewpoint, Houses of people who lived there. The people were living there for a long time till recently. There was a school there which had been turned into a restaurant there. The roads had diagonal laying of stones for easy movement of chariots. The stones were shaped into bumps because of the chariot wheels going on them. It had a museum inside it where the different statues of the god of fertility was restored and kept. This city was also destroyed by earthquake. Then we again travelled for a long time and reached Jerash. We bought tickets and went for Lunch in a nearby restaurant. The food was good. We had some dessert like gemat. Then we went to Atljun castle. Atljun castle is high up on the hill. Walking just few meters on the steep road tore my muscles apart…Took some rest and went inside the castle. The castle was built high on the top to check for any enemy movement. The military base was stationed there by the ARAB Rulers. After the tired uphill climbing and going around, we left for Jerash . At exactly 5 PM we reached Jerash in 30 minutes. Then we arranged for a guide and rushed inside. Jerash city was built by Romans. It has an Oval Centre, west gate and north gate, 1 arch to commemorate the visit of Roman King, A Very big temple of Jupiter, A temple of the God of hunting, 18 Churches, 1 nymphareum, 1 hypodendrum where the chariot races were held, 1 olive oil press, the colonnaded street, and 2 theatres at two different locations of the city. One private bath and 1 public bath. Later we went to Mr.Basim’s home. We had some Turkish coffee and few desserts. Loving family who welcomed us well. We went to the hotel, had dinner and took rest.

On 3rd day, we had breakfast, did checkout and left with a new driver Mr.Baher.On the way to Madaba, we went to the automobile showroom, but it wasn’t opened yet. So we continued to Madaba church. Madaba is the mosaic city. The church has a mosaic map where all the Christian places are marked. The Church itself has many mosaic hangings. Then we left to a mosaic workshop where we were explained about the art of making mosaics and the artificial mosaic mimic painting on pottery. I bought few Dead Sea salts and Dead Sea pack in the workshop. Then we left to Mt.Nebo where Moses tomb is present. There we saw the serpentine cross standing high above us. Pope John Paul has visited there and it’s a very holy place for Christians. We can see the different places where Moses and Jesus were present from the viewpoint. It’s said that Moses went into the desert with a stick and sphere which turned into a snake. Its believed that anyone bitten by snake can be cured if they see the serpentine cross. From Mt.Nebo we went to Beyond the Bethany. This is that place where Jesus was baptised. We had to wait for an hour for the bus to take us inside as private vehicles are not allowed. Then we went to the river where Jesus was baptised. Then we were taken to the border between Jordan and Israel and touched the holy water of the Jordan River where Jesus was once christened. We saw the people from Israel on the other bank of the river. We also saw the Church of John who baptised Jesus. Then went to Hotel Warwick at Dead Sea. After lunch at the hotel, we went to the Dead Sea, had a nice float with the Dead Sea pack. The water in the Dead Sea was oily, salty and also little itchy and caused little irritation. After the float, had a bath, swam in the swimming pool and went to the room. In the room we had a nice view of the sunset. Then had dinner and slept.

 On the next day we had breakfast and checked out from hotel and left to Mt.Mukawir castle. On the way we stopped for a photo of the hot springs from the mountain. The Mukawir castle is where the John the Baptist was beheaded by the king upon his woman’s request. It had 2 pillars and the castle was very steep and too much to climb. We didn’t climb the whole stretch. Then we went to Karak Castle, it was a 2 storied castle. It was destroyed and later rebuilt again. It was used as a place to view the entire city. It had balcony, windows and ventilators. It was biggest of all castles we visited. Then we left to The Dana village. Dana village is where the Dana biosphere is. It is the place where people who go trekking rests and carry their journey. It has been restored using US Aid. The stone houses have been used as rooms for the rest houses. We had a lovely view of the Dana biosphere. Then we travelled to Little Petra. Little Petra is a miniature version of the actual Petra. Little Petra has many buildings, with 2 and 3 rooms. These rooms have ventilation, channel for water and other facilities. The interior looks painted and there is a painted room.The sand stones are scooped and looks like a man’s face. After taking a walk around the little Petra which in itself has an hour of touring, we left to Petra and checked into EDOM Hotel. This hotel is only 5 minutes walk to the Petra Visitors centre. After checking in we went for a walk to buy water .Then we had dinner and slept.

Next day was the most tiring day of the entire tour. We had breakfast and left to Petra. We had a guide for an hour. He had studied medicine but had taken guide profession as this is more profitable. We walked inside Petra listening to all that the guide was talking about. We were told about the Bedouin people who lived in Petra till recently. They were sent to the nearby location and allowed to come and sell goods, crafts and to operate other shops, camel, horse, donkey ride. We saw the main entrance, the red snapper, temple of sun, the carvings on the walls, the water channels. After walking through the passage , we got a sneak peek of the Treasury. We weren’t allowed inside the Treasury as this is stopped now to prevent the erosion of the sandstones. The Treasury has 2 tombs in the entrance .Inside there is a big hall and 2 rooms. In the centre is a tomb. The Bedouin people believed that it contains treasure and shot at the building. The bullet marks can be seen on the building. Then we walked from there passing the Highest Place of Sacrifice, other tombs. We then reached nympheum.The guide bid us bye, explaining the different places we need to see. We went to the church, the different cemeteries. The two storied cemetery which looks painted and had good acoustics. Then we went to the temple of Lion God and passed the colonnaded street. Then we took a donkey ride to the monastery and returned back. We were extremely tired. Walked and walked extremely exhausted and reached the treasury. From the treasury to the entrance where the horses are available, we stopped at 2 places for rest. We then took 2 horses 1 each and took a ride till a little before the ticket counter. I was extremely tired unable to keep a step forward, but I managed to reach a restaurant just before EDOM Hotel. I had my lunch there at around 5 pm.I ordered Shawarma but it was a big bread with grilled chicken unlike what I have eaten in Bahrain. I didn’t like it, but I had starved and need to eat something to get my energy and reach my hotel room. I went to hotel, took rest. I was really doubtful if I can really walk for Petra by night. We already took tickets for Petra by night. We had a bath and refreshed. We had dinner again within 2 hours of eating lunch at 7 pm and left for Petra by night. I was still unsure if I would be able to walk again till treasury. But walking in is down hill, hence I reached treasury without any effort. We were served Bedouin tea. There were performances of music from rababa, shababa.Then a small story telling. The whole place from the entrance till treasury was illuminated only by candles .This was lovely. Then we walked back to the entrance which is uphill. I dreaded this but I was able to walk without taking any rest. We had movenpick ice-cream and reached hotel. Took rest.

Next day we had breakfast and checked out and left to WadiRum.We stayed at the Rose Camp in WadiRum.We had lunch and waited for the jeep to pick us up for jeep ride. We went for a 4 hour jeep ride. We went to the house of Lawrence of Arabia, the mushroom, the natural arch, the place with inscriptions by the nabateans, the final arch with the Lawrence of Arabia face. We couldn’t see the sunset as the climate was bad. We reached our camp and refreshed ourselves. We then watched the way the buried dinner is excavated. We had dinner and went to our tent. We just couldn’t sleep in the tent because there was no air and we were feeling stuffed and heat. We slept for 3-4 hours.

On the next day we woke up and got ready for the air balloon ride. We were picked up from the camp by the company. We went to the place of action; the air balloon was aired and made ready. But finally due to the weather, the balloon was swaying left and right, so the driver of the air balloon said we will wait for some time. We waited, but the climate was the same, so the ride was cancelled. We were dropped back at the camp. We had breakfast at the camp and left for Aqaba. On the way to the hotel, we went to Aqaba birds observatory, watched the birds.Then left for Marine Aquarium, watched many new types of fishes –camouflaged ones,turtles,eels,etc.Then we passed through the city to the Mamoluk fort. We watched it from outside, since it was at a low level from the road. Then we left to Marina Plaza. We checked in the hotel. We had lunch in the hotel and went to sauna, steam bath, swimming pool, Red sea beach. We then had bath and left to the Red Sea beach again and took pictures. We left in the hotel’s shuttle bus to the city. We roamed around the city for 2 hours, looked around the souqs, shopping, went to a park nearby, to movenpick hotel and had ice cream there and went back to the post office and left to the hotel in the shuttle bus. We had dinner and slept.

 On the next day we woke up and found heavy rain. We had breakfast and checked out and left. We had to reach the Amman airport by 2 pm for the flight back. We were tensed as we heard that the roads are blocked as the mountains have flooded the roads due to erosion by rain. The roads were flooded too. Since there was a road inside the village we were able to reach our destination on time. Thanks to Mr Baher our driver.Mr Baher was a little rough and arguing and we had difference of opinions. But professionally he was very good. We tipped him heavily because we reached the airport on time and entered the airport. We did some chocolate shopping and boarded the flight. We had a nice time in Jordan with all people very courteous and helpful. The Place is also a very good with nature, history blended into one another. I bought few magnets in Petra. Bought the colour sand bottle from Petra, Dead Sea salts, Dead Sea Pack, Loads of memories from Jordan.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Chicken Chettinad


This recipe is from Sanjeev kapoor's book.Chicken recipes.Tried them many a times and everytime its just great.I have some modifications to the dish.

Ingredients:
Chicken: 1/2 kg
Red chillies: 3-4 nos
Grated coconut:handful(optional since adding coconut reduces the spicyness of the dish)
Coriander seeds:1 tsp
Cumin seeds: 1tsp
Cardamons: 2 nos
Cloves: 2 nos
Cinnamon : 1 pc
Fennel seeds: 1tsp
Ginger:2 tsp chopped
Garlic: 2 tsp chopped
Oil:3 tsps
Onion : 1 large Chopped
Tomato: 2 med size chopped
Curry leaves:handful
Turmeric powder: 1/ TSP
Coriander leaves: handful
Red chiili powder: 1tsp
Salt: to taste

Method:
Saute the red chillies, corinader seeds, fennel seeds,cumin seeds, coconut,cinnamon, clove,cardamons in a little oil and grind to a fine paste along with fresh ginger, garlic.

Heat oil in a pan, add onions and fry them.Add curry leaves and the ground paste and fry.Then add tomatoes, chilli powder, salt,turmeric powder.
Add chicken and some water and cook them kept closed.

Finally garnish with coriander leaves.

You can try the recipe with mushroom for vegetarians.Probably name it Mushroom chettinad. :)

Kodubellas from leftover upma


Yes I tried this recipe yesterday.It came out well and thought why not share it.
This recipe is from http://swapnasridhar.blogspot.com.Of course I made some changes as usual.

Here goes the recipe:
Ingredients:
Left over upma:2 cups
Rice flour: 3 tbsp
Maida: 2 tbsp
Salt: to taste
Chilly powder: 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
Oil: to deep fry

Method:
First remove any slit red/green chillies in upma if any.
Then mix all the ingredients except oil.
Take a ball of the mixture and roll between hands to make it into shape of thin rope.
Just seal the ends to make a ring.
Deep fry in hot oil.
Serve with ketchup or it also tastes gud without ketchup.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

banana flower vadas(vazhapoo vadai)


Yeah it tastes wonderful and just sooo special from the usual vadas.

My mom taught me this recipe and she is an expert in doing it.

Ingredients:

kadalaparappu(chick peas): 1 cup (soaked)
Onions(finely chopped): 1 cup
Pudina(mint leaves)(finely chopped):2 tsps
coriander(chopped):2 tsps
Green chillies(chopped):2 tsps
Banana flower: 1 no.
Turmeric powder:1 pinch
Salt:as required
Oil: to deep fry

Method:
Soak chick peas in water for 4-5 hrs.
Also remove the banana florets from the flower.Remove the black stamen from the florets.Each floret has 1 black stamen.Very small florets can be used as it is.
Chop the florets.Steam them for 5-10 mins.
Grind the chick peas.Mix all the other ingredients and fry the vadas in oil till golden brown.
Tip: Do not grind chick peas very smoothly.Let it be a little coarse.Teh you will get very crisp vadas and tastes really good.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tofu chapathis/rotis

Tofu is really a very good protein source and healthier than our very own panneer.

Ingredients:
Tofu:200 gms(very soft type)
Wheat flour:5 cups
Zeera/cumin seeds:2 tsp
salt: to taste
Chilli powder:1 tsp
Green chillies (finely chopped):3-4
Pickle masala(masala in any pickle): 1 tsp
Asafoetida:1/2 tsp
Coriander: 4-5 tsp
Oil: 2tbsp

Method:
Add the ingredients, mix well and knead into a soft dough.
Make chapathis and enjoy.
Please post your comments.

Thanks,
Priya

Masala idli





I prepared this recipe this week.Found it really interesting and different hence posting the recipe.I havent clicked the pics of idli.But will post them in 2-3 days after preparing them again.My mom's recipe.......

Ingredients for making the idli batter:
Urad dhall:2 cups
Rice :4 cups
Salt :as needed
Baking soda:a pinch or 1/4 tsp

Method for making the idli batter:
Soak rice and urad dhall for minimum 4 hrs.Grind both separately and mix them.
Add salt,baking soda,water and mix thoroughly.Allow the batter to ferment for 6hrs or even more till the batter rises.Usually it takes more time to ferment in winter season than summer.

Ingredients for masala:
Carrot grated:1 cup
Ginger(finely chopped):1 tsp
Mustard: 1 tsp
Urad dhall: 1 tsp
Oil: 1 tsp
Curry Leaves(finely chopped): 5-6
Coriander(finely chopped): 3-4 tsp
half cooked avarekaalu/hyacinth beans: 1 cup(soaked and coat removed)
Asafoetida: 1/4 tsp
Coconut: 1/2 cup

Fry curry leaves,asafoetida, urad dhall,mustard,ginger in oil.
Add these,carrot ,avarekaalu,coriander,coconut and steam the idlis.

Enjoy the masala idlis with the simple coconut chutney....
Post your comments..

Posted the photos...
Thanks,
Priya

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tandoori Chicken








For preparing 2 versions of tandoori chicken:
chicken leg pieces :7
salt :to taste
Ginger garlic paste :1 tsp
Red chilli powder :1tsp
Dhanya powder :1 tsp
curd :2-3 tsp
garam masala :1 tsp
Turmeric :1/2 tsp
Lemon juice :2 tsp

For making KFC style Tandoori chicken:
Bread crumbs : 1 cup
Oil :5-6 tsps

Method:
Mix all the ingredients except chicken pieces together in a bowl.Make some holes using fork on the chicken pieces.Gently apply the masala on each piece of chicken.Marinate and leave it for some time, atleast 1/2 hour preferably in a refrigerator.
It can be cooked in Microwave without oil or in stove.

Method for cooking in microwave:
In grill microwave, arrange the pieces on the grill tray.Set the grill mode.
Leave it for 20 minutes.Check the chicken every 5 minutes turning them with the help of a fork.I prepared it in microwave.

Method for cooking in stove:
Just deep fry the chicken pieces in oil in a kadai.

Enjoy the tandoori chicken.

KFC style tandoori chicken:
After marination, before cooking the chicken in microwave or stove, roll the chicken pieces in bread crumbs.
While cooking in microwave, few drops of oil need to brushed on the pieces for the bread crumbs to become golden brown and get roasted.

Please do try and let me know how you liked it.