So, I’m off to India again to conduct my 3rd spiritual adventure for the year. First stop is Chennai, Tamil Nadu, and it is a brief stay here before heading further south to Madurai. I came across this Tamil movie poster that I had photographed a few years back. I love the posters that are pasted all over the city. So much color and so much drama…

More from south India coming very soon.

south-indian-movie-poster Tamil


Well, if you can say the name of this dish then you can surely make it as it is easier than it sounds. And when you have one of these lentil balls (urandais) in your mouth you won’t be saying anything as it is absolutely delicious.

We learned this on our most recent spiritual and culinary adventure in South India in January 2012. When I first saw it being made in front of me I thought to myself that this takes a lot of work and I was hesitant to try it. But having tried it a week ago and realized how fairly simple it is I’ve made it twice now.

Here’s the recipe and I hope you’ll give it a go. Photos below are from cooking class during our culinary tour in South India.

Ingredients for Kola Urundai (Lentil balls)
1. Toor dhal (Pigeon peas) – half cup
2. Bengal gram dhal (black chick peas) – a handful
3. Raw rice – 2 teaspoon

Soak above for 15 mins, drain and keep aside. (I actually did it with only the Toor dhal)

4. Red chilly – 1
5. Garlic – 3 cloves
6. Aniseed – 1 teaspoon

Grind all the above (from 1 to 6), coarsely, and keep aside

7. Coconut shredded – quarter coconut
8. Onion shallots or small onions – 3, slice finely
9. Coriander leaves – 2 tablespoons finely cut
10. Curry leaves – 2 tablespoons finely cut
11. Turmeric – quarter teaspoon
12. Salt to taste

Mix all the above from (1 to 12) well.

Shape into balls and steam for 10 minutes, keep aside.

Ingredients for the gravy or sauce
1. Oil – 4 tablespoons
2. Cinnamon – 3 small sticks
3. Aniseed – 1 teaspoon
4. Onion shallots or small onions – 10 to 15, slice finely
5. Tomatoes – 4
6. Turmeric – quarter teaspoon
7. Chilli powder – 2 teaspoons
8. Coriander powder – 4 teaspoons
9. Water – 4 cups

Masala to be ground fine for the gravy
10. Coconut – half shredded
11. Poppy seeds – half teaspoon
12. Aniseeds – 1 teaspoon
13. Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon

Grind fine from (10 to 13) and keep aside

The Method

Heat oil in pan.
Add the cinnamon and aniseed, stir till aniseed splutters (takes about half a minute).
Add the small onions and saute.
Add the tomatoes and saute.
Add the chilly powder, coriander powder and turmeric powder.
Add the ground gravy masala.
Add the water and boil for 5 minutes.
Add the steamed Kola Urundai one by one carefully in order not to break it.
Boil and remove from fire, decorate with coriander leaves.
Serve with rice.

Some of the ingredients...

Main ingredients for the kola urundai kolambu

These little dumpling like things are then steamed.

Dumplings are placed gently into the curry (sauce)


Here’s a recipe that we acquired on our recent spiritual and culinary adventure in South India. This Mint Chutney recipe was taught to us in the heart of Chettinad in Tamil Nadu state where they make some amazing food.

Ingredients required
Mint leaves – few sprigs
Shallots – 100gms
Garlic – 1 pod
Ginger – 1 inch
Coconut (grated) – half cup
Tamarind – Small quantity
Red chillies – 2 chillies
Salt – to taste
Oil – 1 table spoon

Preparation Method
1. Place a frying pan on the stove
2. Pour oil and heat
3. Add red chillies, finely chopped small onions, ginger, garlic and the remaining ingredients and mix well.
4. Then add the mint leaves and grated coconut
5. Remove the mixture after the coconut flavour disappears
6. Then grind the mixture in a grinder to make it a paste
7. Transfer the mixture to a bowl
8. Serve as a side dish…

We were so keen to eat this at the end that we forgot to take a photo of the final product….sorry!


Every now and then we post something cute from our travels. And this photo was taken in a small hotel in a little village in southern India. I suppose there are many ways to control lighting within a room but if you ever want absolute control over each light bulb then there is no surer way than this. Just don’t forget to mark the switches!

Light switch panel in India


After two nights in Kanadukathan in the heart of the Chettinad district in Tamil Nadu, we headed west to Madurai, ancient Tamil capital of the south for the last night of our culinary and spiritual adventure. The beautiful Heritage Madurai resort was home for the last night and finale dinner.

As is tradition on our trips, everyone gets dressed up for the last night. A sumptuous traditional Tamil thali dinner was on the menu, a perfect end to a wonderful culinary journey of South India.


A private dining room lit with traditional oil lamps was set aside for our group

Probably one of the best meals on the trip...


Especially during the harvest season, you’ll see many women making kolams outside their homes in the morning. Kolams are beautiful patterns made from rice flour. Besides for decoration purposes it was a way to feed birds and critters. A way to honor that all life is sacred and a tribute to harmonious co-existence.

During our recent meditation retreat I captured this lady decorating the area in from of the hotel lobby one morning in Swamimalai, South India. Walking around a village in Tamil Nadu in the morning you’ll see many ladies making kolams, from simple designs to stunning elaborate multi-colored patterns.

Kolam Design South India


The harvest festival, Thai Pongal, takes place on the 14th of January and is celebrated predominantly in Tamil Nadu, South India. The festival is dedicated to the sun god, Surya, and marks the beginning of the sun’s journey northward, uttarayana. Tamils thank Surya for a good harvest and offer the first grain to him during the festival.
Much of the paddy fields we’ve passed have been harvested as we are almost at the end of February now. But throughout most of the journey in Tamil Nadu we come across farmers in the threshing stage of the rice production. This unmilled rice, known as paddy, can often be seen laid out on roads to dry.
In one of our recent excursions we come across a few farmers working on their harvest.

Markley attempts to entertain some of the farmers kids with some music from his Mac.