Introducing: Oddy Uniwraps Food Wrapping Paper, A Super Handy Kitchen Equipment

I’m always looking for healthier, more eco-friendly alternatives to the things we use around our home on a daily basis. So, when I was asked if I would like to try out a sample of Oddy Uniwraps, an organic food wrapping paper, I agreed immediately. And… I’m so loving it!

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Oddy Uniwraps’ food wrapping paper

Oddy Uniwraps food wrapping paper is the latest product introduced by Atul Paper Pvt. Ltd., a renowned player in stationery and paper products for the last 20 minutes. The firm sells several office stationery products under the brand name of Oddy (short for ‘on demand’).

What I love about Oddy Uniwraps’ food wrapping paper

  1. Though this product is termed as ‘food wrapping paper’, it is actually a multi-purpose paper, which serves several purposes other than just wrapping up food. I have been using it to line baking tins while making cakes, to pack food for the husband to take to work, and to line boxes of coriander and mint before placing them in the refrigerator. If you make chocolates at home, I think you could use this paper to wrap them too, rather than plastic wrappers. I love how versatile this product is, how handy it is in the kitchen.
  2. There’s no plastic or aluminium content in this paper, and it is apparently 100% organic. Studies have proved that aluminium foil, very commonly used in wrapping food, has several harmful effects. This food wrapping paper offers all of the convenience of aluminium foil, without any of its dangerous side effects.
  3. This product can be used as a substitute for cling film as well. Paper trumps any day over plastic cling wrap, right?
  4. I love the cutesy print on this paper. Call me pedantic, but using it surely cheers me up.
  5. This paper is completely bio-degradable. If you use it, you place a lesser burden on the environment as opposed to that when you use cling film or aluminium foil. Any little step we take in this direction is good, I believe – just imagine how much of an impact we can make on the environment if we start paying closer attention to such little things as the material our food is wrapped in.
  6. This product is entirely microwave-safe and can be used in OTG ovens up to a temperature of 220 degrees Celsius.
  7. This paper is food-grade certified. The ink used for the doodles on the paper is food-grade certified as well.
  8. Food wrapped in this paper stays fresher, I have noted, as against that wrapped in aluminium foil.
  9. I love that this paper is so easy to use. The roll that I received as a sample has an in-built cutter, so you don’t even have to go looking for a pair of scissors to cut it.
  10. I don’t use aluminium foil regularly, so I am not really aware of prices, but, I understand that this paper is less expensive.
  11. The quality of the paper is really good. You can make that out while you use it.

What could have been better?

As of now, I see that this paper is available in only this particular print. Cute as it is, it would be great to have a few more designs to choose from.

Price and availability

A 20-metre roll of Oddy Uniwraps’ food wrapping paper costs INR 199.

The product is available on Amazon.

In conclusion…

I really liked this product, its versatility, its eco-friendliness and its ease of use. It is definitely something I would like to buy, and would heartily recommend.

I was sent a sample of the product free of cost to test and review. This is not a paid review. The views expressed herein are entirely honest, and entirely my own, not influenced by anything or anyone.

 

 

 

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Rava Mixed Vegetable Upma With Eastern’s Green Jackfruit Flour

Breakfast yesterday was rava (semolina) mixed vegetable upma, cooked with some green jackfruit flour. Yes, you read that right. 🙂 Eastern Condiments has recently come up with a revolutionary product, called the Jackfruit 365 Green Jackfruit Flour, which I was sent a sample of for testing and review.

About Eastern’s Green Jackfruit Flour

Eastern’s Jackfruit 365 Green Jackfruit Flour is made from mature green jackfruit, just 2-4 days before it turns sweet. It has a neutral taste and a creamy white colour, with none of the aroma of a ripe jackfruit. Green jackfruit apparently possesses a number of nutrients and health benefits, most of which are retained in this flour. I hear there is no post-processing involved, and that there are no preservatives or flavouring agents added to the flour.

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Left: Eastern Condiments’ Jackfruit 365 Green Jackfruit Flour; Right: That’s how the flour looks like

Health benefits of green jackfruit (and flour)

Here’s a glimpse of some of the advantages that green jackfruit (and the resultant flour) have to offer:

  1. Helps in weight loss and weight management: A cup of green jackfruit has less than half calorie of two rotis and much lower than a cup of rice, but offers higher satiation due to higher fibre and water content. So, you end up feeling sated for longer, with fewer calories. It is, therefore, a great help in weight loss and weight management.
  2. Aids in controlling diabetes: Unlike ripe jackfruit, green jackfruit is great for diabetes. Through clinical trials conducted at Sydney University’s Glycemic Index Research Service (SUGiRS), it was found that green jackfruit has a much lower glycemic load (increase in sugar/blood glucose level) than rice and wheat. So, when you replace a cup of rice or two rotis with a cup of green jackfruit, your blood glucose will not increase as much.
  3. Adds years to your life: Jackfruit, due to low acidity, is the only fruit that can be consumed as a meal, replacing your regular carbohydrate like wheat and/or rice in full or part. As per a study by the National Health Service, UK, the low consumption of vegetables and fruits can shorten life more than lack of exercise. So, when we cook and consume green jackfruit in a meal, the quantity consumed in one meal itself is more than the vegetable and fruit we consume in a whole day, thereby aiding longevity.
  4. Helps in lowering cholesterol: The percentage of soluble fibre in jackfruit reaches its peak when the fruit is at the mature green stage. Soluble fibre obtained from fruits is the most superior quality of this nutrient, which helps in the removal of cholesterol from your body. This green jackfruit flour is, therefore, definitely a better, native and responsible alternate to the oats we import from Australia.
  5. Prevents colon cancer: Green jackfruit possesses a high amount of insoluble fibre, much higher than what you can get from rice or roti. It therefore aids good bowel movement, and in preventing constipation. Also, the fibre content acts like a bottle-brush to cleanse your intestines, preventing the occurrence of colon cancer.

How can you add green jackfruit flour in your daily diet?

Eastern’s Jackfruit 365 Green Jackfruit Flour can be used in most traditonal Indian dishes, without any change in taste or texture, but with all the nutrients and health benefits discussed above, intact. This product can replace 1/3 of the quantity of rice in dishes like idli, dosa, appam and puttu, and the same quantity of wheat in dishes like roti, paratha and poori.

Price and availability

At the moment, Eastern’s Jackfruit 365 Green Jackfruit Flour is sold only on Amazon India and in select stores in Kerala. Soon enough, though, the product is likely to be available in a number of cities across India.

A 200-gram packet of the flour costs INR 65.

How I used the green jackfruit flour in rava vegetable upma

I included Eastern’s Jackfruit 365 Green Jackfruit Flour in the preparation of a regular breakfast dish at our place – rava (semolina) mixed vegetable upma. I substituted a little of the rava with the green jackfruit flour, and found no change in the texture or flavour of the dish. In fact, the upma turned out absolutely scrumptious!

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Here’s how I made the upma.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 1-1/2 cups Bansi sooji/rava/semolina
  2. 1/4 cup Eastern’s Jackfruit 365 green jackfruit flour
  3. Salt, to taste
  4. 3 green chillies, slit length-wise
  5. A few fresh curry leaves
  6. 1 medium-sized onion, chopped finely
  7. A few sprigs of fresh coriander, chopped finely
  8. 1 small carrot, peeled and chopped finely
  9. 1/2 of a medium-sized capsicum, chopped finely
  10. 1/4 cup shelled green peas
  11. A small piece of cabbage, chopped finely
  12. 2 small tomatoes, chopped finely
  13. 4 tablespoons oil
  14. 1 pinch of asafoetida (hing) powder
  15. 2 teaspoons mustard seeds (rai)

Method:

  1. Dry roast the rava and green jackfruit flour together on medium flame, till they emit a nice fragrance and turn slightly brown. Transfer onto a plate, and let them cool down.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, on high flame. Add the mustard seeds, and let them splutter. Add the asafoetida, and let it stay in for a couple of seconds.
  3. Now, add in the chopped onion, cabbage, capsicum and carrot, curry leaves, green peas, and slit green chillies. Add a bit of salt, and turn down the flame to medium. Cook, stirring intermittently, till the veggies are done, but not overly so. Sprinkle some water at intervals, if you feel the veggies are beginning to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add 5-1/4 cups of water, the chopped tomatoes, and more salt to taste. Keeping the flame medium, bring the water to a boil.
  5. Add in the roasted rava and green jackfruit flour. Stir well, ensuring that everything is well incorporated together.
  6. Cook on medium flame, stirring intermittently, till all the water has been absorbed. At this stage, the rava and flour should be well cooked.
  7. Mix in the finely chopped fresh coriander.
  8. Serve hot with chutney of your choice. I made balls out of the upma, for the sake of presentation, and served them with a sweet-and-sour green turkey berry (sundakkai, in Tamil) relish.

Notes:

  1. To make rava upma, we use 3 cups of water per cup of rava. Here, for 1-1/2 cups of rava + 1/4 cup of green jackfruit flour, I have used 5-1/4 cups of water totally.
  2. The proportion of water used here will yield an upma that isn’t too dry, but well cooked. If you’d like a drier version, reduce the quantity of water you use.
  3. Increase the number of green chillies you use, if you want to up the spice level.
  4. Ordinary white rava can be used in place of Bansi rava.
  5. You can use any other vegetables that you might have handy, to make the upma.
  6. To add a twist of taste to the upma, you can add any of these: tamarind paste, lemon juice, sugar, rasam powder, garam masala. Let your imagination run wild!

My thoughts about Eastern’s Jackfruit 365 Green Jackfruit Flour

  1. The flour was quite easy to use, thanks to detailed instructions on the back of the package. I didn’t face any difficulties in making the upma – I cooked it pretty much the same way I would cook rava vegetable upma, just with the addition of the green jackfruit flour to it.
  2. I think this is a great way to add green jackfruit to your daily diet, and hope to continue using it regularly. After all, it blends in seamlessly with most of the Indian dishes we make at home. I would recommend you try this out, too.
  3. I feel the product is quite reasonably priced, too.
  4. I appreciate the fact that a recipe booklet was included within the package, considering that this is a very new product and that people might need some guidance on what dishes it can be used in. The booklet, however, was entirely in Malayalam, a language I cannot read and write. If the product is to be available in multiple cities in India soon, the recipes should be translated into other languages too, for people to be able to use them.

Jackfruit 365 on social media: Website| YouTube channel| Facebook | Instagram| Twitter

This is not a paid post. I was sent a free sample of the product to test and review, and the post is based on my observations while using it. The views expressed herein are entirely my own, not influenced by anything or anyone. The health information provided in the post are courtesy of Mr. James Joseph, Founder, Jackfruit 365.

 

Product Review: Bake Me India Vanilla Shortbread Cookies Baking Kit

Baking with the bub has always been a dream of mine. Ever since I became a mommy –  even before that I think – I would dream of, one day, standing alongside the bub in our kitchen, measuring out ingredients, mixing them up, placing a cake or cookies in the oven, letting her lick the last of the batter from the mixing bowl, waiting for the oven timer to go off, and laughing at the look of awe on her face on watching the finished product get out of the oven..  all of this and more. You get the drift, right?

I never actually attempted anything like this, though, till very recently, when I won a Bake Me India Vanilla Shortbread Cookies Baking Kit on an Instagram photo contest.

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The Bake Me India Vanilla Shortbread Cookies baking kit that I received!

About Bake Me India

Bake Me India is a New Delhi-based business venture that offers kid-friendly baking kits – brownies, cupcakes, cookies, cake pops and the like. The kits contain all the dry ingredients that would be required, as well as handy equipment such as a tray, rolling pin, piping bag, butter paper, and even a wee apron and chef’s cap!  The kits also come equipped with cards that outline in detail the steps in the baking proceedure.

Through these kits, Bake Me India aims to promote fun family baking times, especially by encouraging parents to bake alongside their kids. These kits are simple enough to be used by even very young kids (under adult supervision, of course!), and the parents need not be expert bakers themselves to use them. The use of good-quality ingredients and equipment is assured.

The kits (available in both ‘with egg’ and ‘egg-free’ versions) make for wonderful DIY gifts. You could opt to buy them individually or on a subscription basis, for as many months at a time as you desire. Prices range between INR 499 and INR 1699 per box, depending upon the nature of the product within. Home delivery across India is free, as of now.

Our experience with the Bake Me India Vanilla Shortbread Cookies kit

~ The kit I received included cookie dough, chocolate chunks, vanilla essence, powdered sugar, colourful sprinkles, instruction cards, cookie cutters, a little apron and chef’s hat, a tray and rolling pin, as well as butter paper. I loved how every possible dry ingredient and little tool that we might need for the baking process had been taken care of. I didn’t need to go looking for much.

~ The kit could, really, have done without the sprinkles and the apron and chef’s hat, but I loved that these things were thought of and included. Little stuff like these are just what kids love, right? The bub loved the multi-coloured sprinkles and donned the chef’s hat and apron as soon as they were out of the box!

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What was inside my Bake Me India kit! Don’t miss the little apron and chef’s hat in there!

~ I loved the detailed instructions on the cards, which told me every single we needed to do, to bake the cookies. There were explanatory pictures as well. The instructions were simple and clear enough for even a child to follow. Thanks to them, the baking process was a breeze.

~ The cards clearly stated the other ingredients and tools I would need to make the cookies, apart from the stuff already included in the kit – just some butter and an oven, in my case.

~ I loved how all the ingredients were packed really well, in Ziploc pouches.

~ The quality of ingredients and equipment provided was really good, and I loved that about Bake Me India. There was nothing sub-standard about the kit.

~ The bub and I loved, loved, loved baking the cookies together, though she mostly just watched, excitedly. It was messy, it was chaotic (with the bub wanting to put everything into the mixing bowl at once!), but it was so much fun! The husband was pressed into action as official photographer for the ceremony, and, all put together, it was just the break we needed, perfect family bonding time. And, as always, it was magical to watch dough go into the oven and come out all transformed into beautiful cookies!

~ All the ingredients (flour, powdered sugar, chocolate, sprinkles and vanilla essence) had already been measured out carefully, and included in just the right quantities that would be needed for the recipe. I didn’t have to do any measuring out at all, and could concentrate on just the fun part of the baking process!

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The finished product – the scrumptious vanilla shortbread cookies!

~ We chose to do away with the cookie cutters and shape the cookies with our hands, as rustic as it gets. I am so glad we did that – sensory play and all that!

~ The cookies turned out absolutely scrumptious and were gone within a day of the making!

~ I still have the rolling pin, cookie cutters, apron, chef’s hat and tray in the kitchen. I love the fact that I can get them out and use them again, whenever the bub and I fancy a bit of baking. I can clearly see this becoming a habit!

~ At INR 1499, I think the price of this kit is on the higher side. That said, I’m not sure how much it would cost me if I were to put together all the stuff that was part of the kit – the dry ingredients and reusable kitchen equipment included.

~ I didn’t spot a ‘best before’ date on the kit. Ideally, it should be included.

In conclusion…

I think the concept of the Bake Me India baking kits is absolutely lovely. The kits, albeit priced a tad high, make for a fun baking experience with your family, creating loads of fond memories in the process. They are great rainy-day DIY activities, and lovely gifts as well. This is, surely, something I would encourage you to pick up, for yourself and for your loved ones.

Find Bake Me India online: Website| Facebook| Twitter| Instagram

I received the product free of cost, because I won it in a photo contest. I was requested to do a review on my blog, and I obliged. The views expressed herein are entirely honest and completely my own, not influenced by anyone or anything.

 

 

 

 

Elotes| Mexican Street-Style Corn On The Cob

Grilled corn on the cob, coated with a creamy sauce, drizzled with lemon juice and red chilli powder, sometimes decked up with coriander, and served with a dash of grated cheese on top are, apparently, a popular street food in Mexico. Street-side carts do a brisk business of selling this corn on the cob, locally called ‘Elotes’.

Ever since I tried out Mexican street-style corn on the cob or Elotes at Chinita,  a few months ago, I had been thinking of trying it out at home. I never got around to doing that, though, till this weekend. I am thrilled with the way they turned out!

The little reading I did on the Internet gave me several different ways of making Elotes. Some recipes used mayonnaise, some didn’t. Some recipes suggested using char-grilling the corn, some didn’t. Some recipes used coriander, some didn’t. Ultimately, I decided to go ahead and make the Elotes my way – a mish-mash of steps from several different results. I used Veeba’s Cheese & Jalapeno Sandwich Spread for the creaminess and some of the wonderful artisanal Cheddar cheese that my husband recently got home from Jerusalem. The end result was delicious, like I said before, and the Elotes were gone within minutes of their making.

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Elotes, or Mexican street-style corn on the cob

Purists, balk at my choice of ingredients if you want to, but this version works for me. At least for now. These Elotes were pretty close in taste to the ones I tried at Chinita, so I am happy.

Here’s how I made the Elotes or Mexican street-style corn on the cob.

Ingredients (3-4 pieces):

  1. 1 large sweet corn, peeled and broken into 3-4 pieces
  2. A few stalks of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
  3. Red chilli powder, to drizzle over the corn, as per taste
  4. Cheddar cheese, grated, as much as you’d like to spread over the corn
  5. Veeba Cheese & Jalapeno Sandwich Spread, as needed to spread over the corn
  6. A small wedge of lemon

Method:

  1. Place the pieces of corn in a wide vessel and add enough water to cover them completely. Pressure cook the corn on high flame, for 4 whistles.
  2. Let the pressure release naturally, and then remove the boiled corn from the vessel. Let them cool down enough for you to be able to handle them easily.
  3. Spread the Veeba Cheese & Jalapeno Sandwich Spread evenly over the pieces of corn.
  4. Drizzle some red chilli powder, lemon juice, grated Cheddar cheese and finely chopped coriander over the pieces of corn. Ensure that all sides of the corn are evenly covered with all ingredients.
  5. Arrange in a serving plate. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  1. Like I was saying earlier, mayonnaise can be used in place of the Veeba Cheese & Jalapeno Sandwich Spread, too. I tried out both versions, and liked this one better.
  2. Any cheese with a sharp flavour works well with this Mexican street-style corn on the cob. If you don’t have artisanal cheese, a processed cheese like Amul should do, too.
  3. Adjust the quantities of Veeba Cheese & Jalapeno Sandwich Spread, lemon juice, grated Cheddar cheese, and red chilli powder depending upon your taste preferences.
  4. You could char-grill the corn before preparing it, too. I chose to not do that, and used boiled corn instead.

This recipe has been developed for Veeba Foods, who have kindly sent across a gift hamper of their products, for me to test and use.

You like? I hope you will try out this recipe too, and that you will love it just as much as we did!

 

 

Kacche Kele Ki Tikki (Raw Banana Cutlets), Served With A Cheesy Dip

Are you looking for a different-from-the-usual snack that can be made fairly easily? Try out these kacche kele ki tikki or raw banana cutlets, which are simple to prepare, but delish. They are shallow-fried, so not as much of a guilty indulgence as a deep-fried snack, but equally good! Anddddddd….. they are just perfect for the rainy evenings that seem to be the norm these days, especially in Bangalore!

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I served these beautiful raw banana cutlets or kele ki tikki with some Veeba Cheese & Chilli Sandwich Spread, which added a beautiful depth of flavour to them. Who says sandwich spreads are only for sandwiches, eh? 🙂 The spicy green chutney and tomato ketchup I also drizzled on the cutlets complemented them beautifully, too.

Now, let’s see how to make these kele ki tikki, shall we?

Ingredients (makes 8-10 cutlets):

  1. 2 large raw bananas
  2. 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
  3. A few stalks of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
  4. Salt, to taste
  5. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  6. Red chilli powder, to taste
  7. 1 teaspoon amchoor powder, or to taste
  8. 1-1/2 teaspoon garam masala or chana masala, or to taste
  9. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  10. About 1/4 cup of raw peanuts
  11. Oil, to shallow fry the cutlets
  12. Veeba Cheese & Chilli Sandwich Spread, as needed, for serving
  13. Tomato ketchup, as needed, for serving
  14. Spicy green chutney, as needed, for serving (Click here to see how I make this chutney)

Method:

  1. Roast the peanuts on medium flame, till they turn crispy. Ensure that they do not get burnt. Let them cool down completely.
  2. Meanwhile, remove the tail ends of the raw bananas, and cut each one into two pieces. Pressure cook the raw banana pieces in salt water, for 4 whistles.
  3. When the pressure has completely gone down, remove the boiled raw banana pieces from the cooker and run cold water over them. When they are cool enough to handle, peel them.
  4. Into a large mixing bowl, mash the boiled raw banana. Add the salt and red chilli powder to taste, asafoetida, garam masala or chana masala, finely chopped coriander and onion, and amchoor powder.
  5. After the peanuts have cooled down completely, remove the skins off them. Pulse the roasted peanuts in a mixer for just a second, so that you coarsely crush them. Do not make a fine powder. Add the crushed peanuts to the raw banana mixture in the mixing bowl.
  6. Mix all the ingredients in the mixing bowl, well. Ensure that everything is thoroughly combined together. Shape cutlets out of this mixture, in the shape of your choice.
  7. Heat a dosa pan on high flame, till droplets of water dance on it. Now, turn the flame to low-medium, and spread some oil in the centre. Place two cutlets on the pan, and add a little oil around them. Let them cook till they get crispy on the bottom. Flip the cutlets over, and add a little more oil around them. When done, transfer to a serving plate.
  8. Make cutlets out of all the mixture in the mixing bowl, and shallow fry them in a similar manner.
  9. Serve the cutlets piping hot, drizzled with some Veeba Cheese & Chilli Sandwich Spread, spicy green chutney, and tomato ketchup.

Notes:

  1. You can add in some boiled potatoes and/or ginger-garlic paste too. I skipped them.
  2. If you wish, you can coat the cutlets in some bread crumbs and deep-fry them, too. I opted to shallow-fry them.
  3. 2 slices of bread, dipped in water, with the excess water squeezed out, can be added to the raw banana mixture too. I didn’t add them.
  4. To make a Jain version of these cutlets, omit the onions and ginger-garlic paste entirely.

This recipe has been developed for Veeba Foods, who have kindly sent across a gift hamper of their products, for me to test and use.

You like? I hope you will try out this recipe too, and that you will love it just as much as we did!

 

Millet Vermicelli Upma, With Vegetables

Like I was saying in this post, cooking with millets is something I have started relatively recently. The Organics & Millets Mela 2017, held earlier this year, inspired me to do more with millets in my kitchen. Since then, I have been experimenting a lot more with millets than ever before, trying out new things, learning, learning, learning all the time.

At the Mela, we were shown technology that could make vermicelli out of different types of millets. Back then, you wouldn’t get millet vermicelli in stores except, maybe, finger millet aka ragi vermicelli – it was still an emerging field. Recently, I was thrilled to spot packets of all kinds of millet-based vermicelli at Eco Store, HSR Layout. I picked up a couple of packets – little millet and pearl millet (bajri), and made vermicelli upma with them. I must say, the millet vermicelli upma turned out scrumptious!

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Left: The little millet and pearl millet (bajri) vermicelli that I picked up; Centre: The lovely, fine, little millet vermicelli; Right: The pearl millet vermicelli upma that I made, with assorted vegetables

Millet vermicelli upma makes for a nice change from upma made using the regular rice-based semiya (vermicelli). This version is healthier than the rice-based upma as well. Cooking millet vermicelli is easy too – it just needs a slightly different technique than cooking rice-based semiya.

Now, let’s get on to the procedure of using millet vermicelli to make upma, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

  1. 180 grams millet vermicelli, or 1 packet of millet vermicelli
  2. Salt to taste
  3. 3 green chillies, slit length-wise
  4. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  5. A dash of chilli powder, if needed
  6. 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
  7. 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  8. A few stalks of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
  9. A few fresh curry leaves
  10. A small piece of cabbage, finely chopped
  11. 5-6 beans, strings removed, finely chopped
  12. 1 small capsicum, finely chopped
  13. 2-3 tablespoons green peas
  14. 2 tablespoons oil
  15. A pinch of asafoetida
  16. 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  17. Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste

Method:

  1. Soak the millet vermicelli in water for 2 minutes. Use plain water, just enough to cover the vermicelli completely.
  2. After 2 minutes, pour out all the excess water from the vermicelli. Place the soaked vermicelli in a colander for a couple of minutes, so that all the water entirely drains out.
  3. Take a little water in a pressure cooker bottom, and place it on the gas. Place a stand at the bottom, and place a plate over it. Over this, place the colander with the millet vermicelli. Close the cooker. Without placing the cooker whistle, steam the vermicelli for 8-10 minutes, on high flame.
  4. Remove the colander from the cooker, and let the vermicelli come to room temperature.
  5. Now, fluff up the millet vermicelli, using a spoon, gently.
  6. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add in the mustard seeds. Allow them to pop. Add in the asafoetida, and let it stay in for a couple of seconds.
  7. Now, add in all the veggies – chopped onions, carrot, cabbage, beans, capsicum and green peas, along with salt to taste.
  8. Cook the veggies on a high flame, till they are done, but not overly so.
  9. Turn the flame to low. Add in the cooked vermicelli, curry leaves, slit green chillies, turmeric powder, chilli powder (if using), and salt to taste (if required).
  10. Mix well, but gently. Let everything cook together, on low flame, for a minute or two, stirring intermittently.
  11. Switch off the gas, and add the finely chopped coriander and lemon juice. Mix well, with gentle hands.
  12. Serve piping hot, on its own or with chutney of your choice.

Notes:

  1. Any millet vermicelli – finger millet (ragi), little millet, pearl millet (bajri)- can be cooked in this manner.
  2. Soaking and cooking times for the millet vermicelli might vary, depending upon what brand you use. Do check the instructions on the package for detailed instructions.
  3. You can increase the number of green chillies you use, if you need extra heat, and skip the red chilli powder altogether.
  4. Any veggies that you have on hand can be used to make this millet vermicelli upma. Alternatively, you could make the upma using just onions, green peas, and green chillies, and skip using the other veggies. We do both variations, and find them equally tasty.
  5. A tablespoon of grated, fresh coconut can be added at the end, too, for extra taste.
  6. Ensure that the cooked millet vermicelli has cooled down completely, before proceeding to make the upma. Don’t miss this, otherwise you will end up with a gooey upma.
  7. It is critical that the millet vermicelli be cooked in a pressure cooker, placed in a colander, to ensure that it is cooked thoroughly. Keep the colander with vermicelli atop a plate, which is placed above a stand inside the pressure cooker, to ensure that no water enters the colander.

Do you make upma using millet vermicelli too? If so, do tell me your method of preparation too – I’d love to know!

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Interested in reading about the other millet recipes on my blog? Here you go!

Cheesy Dosa Veggie Wraps

Are these dosas? Yes!

Are they wraps? Yes!

Are they yummy? Yes!

Can they be made within minutes? Yes!

I’m talking about these Cheesy Dosa Veggie Wraps that I created a while back, using simple ingredients that are easily available in the kitchen at all times. These dosa wraps are mostly healthy, with a filling made of assorted vegetables inside. I’ve slightly jazzed them up, using Harissa Dressing and Cheese & Jalapeno Dip from Veeba Foods, to make them taste yummier.

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Delicious cheesy dosa wraps with a mixed veggie stuffing!

The Harissa Dressing adds a nice, hot flavour to the wraps, while the Cheese & Jalapeno Dip adds in some creamy cheesiness. Both, together, elevate the taste of the wraps.

These tasty wraps can be literally made in minutes – they are super simple to whip up. They make for a lovely snack, particularly suited to those days when you want slightly fancy food but nothing too elaborate.

Now, let’s check out the recipe for these cheesy dosa veggie wraps, shall we?

Ingredients (for 2 wraps):

For the wraps:

  1. 3 ladles of dosa batter
  2. 2 teaspoons oil, to make the dosas

For the dressing:

  1. Veeba Cheese & Jalapeno Spread, as needed
  2. Veeba Harissa Dressing, as needed

For the veggie stuffing:

  1. 1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  2. 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
  3. A few stalks of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
  4. A small piece of cabbage, finely chopped
  5. 6-8 beans, strings removed and finely chopped
  6. 4 tablespoons shelled green peas
  7. 1 small capsicum, finely chopped
  8. Salt, to taste
  9. A pinch of asafoetida
  10. Red chilli powder, to taste
  11. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  12. 1 teaspoon sugar
  13. 2 tablespoons oil

Method:

First, get the vegetable stuffing ready, and then proceed to make the wraps.

For the veggie stuffing:

  1. Heat the oil in a pan and add in the asafoetida. Let in stay in for a couple of seconds.
  2. Add in the chopped onions, carrots, capsicum, beans, cabbage and green peas.
  3. Cook on medium flame for a couple of minutes. Stir intermittently.
  4. Add in the turmeric powder, salt and red chilli powder to taste, and the sugar. Mix well.
  5. Let the veggies cook till they are soft, but not overly done. Keep stirring intermittently. Sprinkle some water if the veggies seem to be sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  6. When the vegetables are cooked, switch off the gas. Add in the finely chopped coriander, and mix well.
  7. Let the vegetable stuffing cool down to room temperature before proceeding to make the wraps.

For the wraps:

  1. Heat a dosa pan on high flame, till water droplets dance on it.
  2. When the pan is nice and hot, reduce the flame to medium.
  3. Pour about 1-1/2 ladles of dosa batter in the centre of the pan, and spread it into a circle. Spread a teaspoon of oil around the dosa.
  4. Cook the dosa on low-medium flame, on one side. When the side on top begins to look cooked too (when no spots of raw batter are visible), spread a couple of spoonfuls of the vegetable stuffing in the centre of the dosa. Drizzle a little each of Veeba’s Harissa Dressing and Cheese & Jalapeno Dip, evenly over the stuffing. Wrap up both sides of the dosa, to make a roll. Transfer the roll to a serving plate.
  5. Prepare the other dosa wrap, too, in a similar fashion.
  6. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  1. You can use any other vegetables that you have, to create the stuffing – babycorn, mushrooms, cauliflower, sweet corn.. I used the veggies that I had on hand.
  2. Any leftover stuffing after making these cheesy dosa veggie wraps can be used to make sandwiches.
  3. You will need to be a little quick while putting the stuffing into the dosa wraps, to ensure that the dosa doesn’t get burnt on the bottom side.
  4. Don’t make the stuffing too wet; it should be dry. Otherwise, the wrap will get soggy in no time.
  5. Since we are using dosas to wrap veggies here, you will need to make them slightly thicker than regular dosas so that they don’t get too soggy.
  6. You could add some garam masala or amchoor to the stuffing too, if you wish. I decided not to, so as to keep things simple.
  7. You could cut up the dosa wraps into slices before serving, too.
  8. You can add as much or as little of the Harissa Dressing and Cheese & Jalapeno Dip to your wraps, as your tastebuds dictate.

This recipe has been developed for Veeba Foods, who have kindly sent across a gift hamper of their products, for me to test and use.

You like? I hope you will try out this recipe too, and that you will love it just as much as we did!

 

 

 

 

Eid Special| Thoughts About Shan Special Sheer Khurma Mix

Eid Mubarak to all those who are celebrating today! 🙂

This day, I had to break open the packet of Shan Special Sheer Khurma Mix that I had been hoarding for a while! It is the day of Eid after all! Let me tell you, I absolutely loved the way it turned out, and so did everyone at home.

What is sheer khurma?

For the uninitiated, sheer khurma or sheer korma is a special kind of milk pudding, containing dates and vermicelli, that is commonly prepared by Muslims on the occasion of Eid. Wikipedia tells me that this pudding constitutes festival day breakfast or dessert, and is largely prepared in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and parts of Central Asia.

The backstory

I have always been intrigued by sheer khurma, and have always wanted to try out an authentic version. I have even bookmarked a couple of recipes for the pudding from the Internet, but somehow, never got around to making the pudding from scratch at home. Recently, when a fellow foodie, Soumya Gopi, posted about her highly successful attempt at making sheer khurma using a ready mix by Shan, I was tempted to try it out too.

I have frequently come across garam masala and other spices by Shan in departmental stores, but never picked them up. After Soumya’s post, I kept my eyes open for the sheer khurma mix and, soon enough, found it, a while back. Today seemed to be a very auspicious occasion for experimenting with it.

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The delectable sheer khurma that I prepared using Shan Mix

About Shan Foods

Shan Foods produces and offers a wide variety of spice mixes that are commonly used in making Pakistani dishes. This Pakistan-based firm has been around since 1981.

I have been hearing great things about their pulao masala and meat masala, but this is the first product by them that I am trying.

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Left: Shan Special Sheer Khurma Mix, Centre: The pouch inside the mix, carrying all the magic, Right: The contents of the pouch, the magic mix

My thoughts about Shan Sheer Khurma Mix

1. Like I said earlier, all of us at home loved the way the sheer khurma turned out. It was absolutely delish, and disappeared within minutes of the making!

2. I liked how the sheer khurma had a generous quantity of dried fruits and nuts, unlike some ready mixes where they are added just for the name’s sake.

3. There was no chemical, artificial smell to the sheer khurma, which sometimes happens in case of pre-packaged mixes. The pudding tasted as if it had been made fresh, from scratch, in my kitchen.

4. I would have loved to see slightly more dates in the sheer khurma. Also, the dates didn’t seem to have any taste to them – I’m guessing that is because they had been dried before packaging. Using fresh dates would have made a whole lot of difference, I think, but of course, that isn’t possible in a pre-packaged mix.

5. I loved how it was so very simple to make the sheer khurma. All I had to do was boil a litre of full-cream milk, add the mix to it, and simmer for a few minutes. The pack came with clear instructions about usage, which were no trouble following.

6. The package suggested how to make three different versions of the sheer khurma, each one with a subtle difference in taste. I followed one of these instructions, and added 1 cup of condensed milk to the boiled milk, along with the mix. The pudding turned out perfectly creamy and just the right amount of sweet. I am not sure if I would had to add extra sugar, had I not used the condensed milk. I think the pudding would still have been creamy, sans the condensed milk, because I used full-fat milk to make it.

7. I loved how the mix had strands of thin vermicelli in it, and not big, fat ones. The vermicelli added to the taste of the dish, rather than becoming one big, goopy mess.

8. This 150-gram mix yielded enough sheer khurma to generously serve 5 people. So, for the INR 70 that the package costs, I think it is totally worth it.

9. It must not have taken me more than 15 minutes to get the sheer khurma ready. It would, therefore, work wonderfully for those times when you need to whip up a dessert for guests within minutes, and do not have ingredients (or experience!) on hand. It would make for a lovely, different-from-the-usual dessert, too.

10. Shan masalas (and this mix as well) are readily available in several departmental stores in Bangalore. You can find them on Amazon as well. After this, I am sorely tempted to try out their other mixes and masalas! Like Soumya says, food does not (and should not) have any boundaries!

11. I am not qualified enough to comment on the ingredients listed on the package, so I will refrain from doing the same. 

Disclaimers

  1. This is not a paid or promotional post. I paid for the packet of Shan Special Sheer Khurma Mix and wrote about it here because I really liked the result.
  2. The views expressed here are entirely my own, and are not influenced by anything or anyone.
  3. I do not recommend the use of processed and pre-packaged mixes, and rarely buy them. I do get tempted by unique stuff such as this, though, and pick them up to try them out.

How do you make sheer khurma, if at all you make it at home?

Have you tried out products by Shan? What are your thoughts about them?

 

A Lego Kiddie Workshop In Bangalore + Product Review: Lego Duplo’s My Town (10832)

I am sure the name ‘Lego’ needs no introduction, especially to the parents of young kids. Lego is known for its good-quality building blogs that are believed to stimulate creativity, and are coveted by children and parents alike. So, a while ago, when I was invited to attend a workshop for kids by Lego, at Orion Mall, Bangalore, I readily accepted.

Lego’s Build Amazing Workshop For Kids At Orion Mall, Bangalore

At the workshop, I saw first-hand how impressionable, creative and unfettered young minds are, and how moulding them the right way helps. The kids were offered a whole lot of Lego pieces in all imaginable shapes and sizes and colours, and were asked to create various things  – ‘Make something that flies!’, ‘Build something beautiful!’, ‘Build something using only red Lego tiles!’ – and I was constantly amazed by all that they came up.

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Something that flies… who’d have thunk?!

At the workshop, I learnt that Lego is presently on a year-long campaign called ‘Build Amazing’, wherein it aims to introduce kids and their parents (from different walks of life, in different parts of the world) to its toys, educating them on how to use these toys to promote children’s natural creativity. To make Lego toys accessible to parents of all income groups, new and affordable Starter Sets have been introduced. These Starter Sets come in different styles and for different age groups, all priced between INR 399 onwards.

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Mr. Amit Kararia, Sr. Regional Sales Manager, South Asia, Lego Sinagpore PTE Ltd., speaking at the workshop at Orion Mall, Bangalore

Great initiative, this!

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A review of Lego Duplo’s My Town (10832)

Post the workshop, I was sent one of the new Lego Duplo Starter Sets to use in play with the bub and to review honestly. The product that I received was called My Town, numbered 10832. (There are other Lego Duplo ‘My Town’ products available as well, with different numbers.)

About the product

Lego Duplo’s My Town (10832) is meant for children between 2 and 5 years of age. As the name suggests, it includes blocks that represent ‘town’ life aka urban life, like balloons, a bespectacled lady, birthday cake, see-saws and presents. The package also contained a little chequered carpet that can be used wherever and whenever the child’s imagination dictates. The toy is meant for the kid to help create scenes from modern-day life.

Within the package, also, was a leaflet about the other Starter Sets I could buy to supplement these blocks, to create a bigger, more extensive collection.

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Left: The package that was sent to me for review, Centre: The contents of the box, immediately upon opening, Right: A close-up of some of the building blocks from the package

Price

This set is priced at INR 1299.

Availability

Lego Duplo’s Starter Sets are available in most toy stores, as well as on Amazon.

My impressions about the product – Low-down on the good and the bad

  1. I love the fact that there are no sharp edges or tiny pieces that I have to watch out for, constantly. The product is meant for little kids who would be sorely tempted to put things into their mouth, and I am glad this thing has been taken care of.
  2. I love the product quality. Every block has great quality, meant to last long.
  3. I am thrilled with the fact that this is such a gender-neutral toy. There are all colours in there – not only pinks or blues! The types of building blocks provided are such that be enjoyed both by little girls as well as boys.
  4. There are some really unique building materials in there – a bespectacled lady and balloons, like I said before, for instance. The materials are something that a kid living in a city like Bangalore would easily be able to relate to.
  5. I felt the number of building blocks are quite less, considering its price. In fact, when I opened the package, I wondered for a while whether I had missed receiving some blocks – there were too few of them! I would have liked for the product to have come with more blocks. There are just a limited number of permutations and combinations that you can (easily) come up with using the few blocks that have been provided. Eventually, one would have to scale up by buying other sets to supplement this product.
  6. I loved racking my brains and coming up with different ways to use the building blocks. I built a birthday party scene, then a garden scene, then one where two kids and their mother was decorating the terrace for their dad’s birthday – all pure imagination. The bub loved watching me building these scenes, and listened intently while I explained them to her. I am an adult with a creative bent of mind, and was still finding it tough to come up with more than these scenes – so I cannot fathom a very young kid (like my daughter) doing a lot of imagining and building using these blocks. Building with these blocks is, to be honest, sort of abstract and requires colourful imagination. Maybe, when the bub is a bit older – say, 4 or 5 – she will be doing a lot more with the blocks – for older kids, the limited number of blocks might actually force them to think out of the box and come up with extraordinary creativity. Maybe, for now, I should teach the bub other activities like counting, identifying colours, and so on, using these blocks.
  7. My 2.5-year-old daughter finds it a bit tough to join two or more blocks together or dismantle them, so she lets me do the job and just watches on. I am guessing more motor skills are needed to be actively involved and playing with these blocks.
  8. I felt the package lacked a guide of some of the things that can be built using these blocks – that would have been lovely. I mean, the box does have some illustrations depicting what could be built, but everyone knows that boxes aren’t for ever. A descriptive booklet indicating the various ways in which these blocks can be used would have been a great help.
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The three scenes I could imagine and build – Left: A kid’s birthday party, Centre: A park, with a see-saw, Right: A mother and her two kids trying to decorate the terrace for the father’s birthday

My verdict

Overall, I feel this is a good product, one that will endure for at least 3-4 years. However, I felt the price does not justify the limited number of blocks provided. I would probably look for discount bargains on this one, or try to buy a bigger product which has a more reasonable price.

Disclaimer

I received this product free of cost, in exchange for an honest review. The views expressed herein are completely my own, not influenced by anyone or anything.

Have your kids played with Lego? Which are their favourite Lego sets? What would you think of this particular product?

 

What’s In My Shopping Bag?

These days, I turn into a sinner every time I go grocery shopping.

No, I’m not talking about the shop-lifting type of sinning, dirty minds!

Ever since I became a food blogger, I have begun to comb the shelves of departmental stores more thoroughly. This little bottle of juice or that packet of biscuits always tempts me, and I end up indulging those temptations of mine.

I am, commonly, not one to regularly use packaged, processed stuff but, I admit, my excursions to departmental stores do see me picking up some of exactly such stuff. The food blogger in me wants to try out these interesting products and write about them. These are, therefore, mostly, one-off purchases, for the purpose of trial, not for regular consumption.

Here are some such recent foodie discoveries of mine, little temptations that I have indulged in, while out grocery shopping. Find out how I fared with them – whether I liked them or not!

Bisleri’s Pinacolada and Spyci Cola

Sometime in 2016, Bisleri launched a few new flavours of soft drinks, including Pinacolada, Spyci cola, a Limca lookalike called Limonata, and a mango-flavoured drink called Fonzo. I recently picked up a couple of bottles of the Pinacolada and Spyci cola, to sample.

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On the left: Bisleri Pinacolada, on the right: Bisleri Spyci Cola

I found the Pinacolada strictly okay – it didn’t exactly bowl me over.

I loved the Spyci Cola, though. As the label on the bottle suggests, it is a ‘twisted cola’, cola with a hint of spice in it. I found the mix very interesting and different and delicious, something I wouldn’t mind having again at all. This is a big thing, you see, coming from someone who has given up on all kinds of aerated drinks for more than 2 years now.

I am now eager to try out the other newly launched flavours of soft drinks by Bisleri, too! I highly recommend you to try out the Spyci Cola as well.

Price: INR 15 per 200 ml bottle, which is quite reasonable.

Amul Choco Cracker

I am a huge fan of Amul’s Tropical Orange chocolate. Recently, I discovered another of Amul’s new chocolate-ey offerings, Choco Cracker, and promptly proceeded to fall in love with it, too!

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Amul Choco Cracker

This is a milk chocolate that tastes just perfect. The little kid in me loved the way the chocolate squares ‘pop’ in your mouth, quite reminiscent of something called Magic Pop that we used to get back when I was a school-going girl.

Love! Highly recommended!

Price: INR 150 for a 150 gram bar, reasonable considering the good quality

Chef’s Basket Khow Suey Noodles

I usually give the ready-to-cook packages at the departmental stores a wide berth – I hate the chemical, artificial feel of the food they produce and I am fearful of the huge amount of preservatives they might come loaded with. I recently made an exception for a packet of ready-to-cook Khow Suey noodles by Chef’s Basket.

The packet said ‘No artificial colours, flavours or preservatives’ and I decided to believe it, just this once.

I liked the way the ingredients were packaged – everything that one would need to make the dish, including noodles and taste-maker, were packed in neat little pouches that could be easily opened. The package came with an easy-to-follow instruction list, and the end product was super easy to put together. I added my choice of vegetables to the dish, along with some tofu, and was pleased with the final product entirely. There was no artificial, chemical taste to the noodles; they tasted quite great, actually.

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On the left: Chef’s Basket Khow Suey noodles kit, on the right: The final product that I prepared

For someone like me, Khow Suey noodles from Burma and Northern Thailand are an exotic meal, and this is a great way of enabling one to prepare it at home, without too much of a hassle. Without a kit like this, I might never have gotten around to making a dish like this at home, I think.

Price: One box contains approximately 180 grams of noodles, is all-vegetarian, and cooks enough to serve one person. It is priced at INR 75 per kit, which, I think, is pretty reasonable.

Check out my review of Chef’s Basket’s Thai Green Curry And Jasmine Rice kit here.

Monaco Cheese Cracker Sandwich

A sandwich made of two salty Monaco crackers, with a cheese-y cream filling in between – what is to not love? I picked up a packet of these ‘sandwiches’ at a nearby grocery store, recently, and loved them to bits. Highly addictive!

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Monaco Cheese Cracker Sandwich

Price: A 100-gram packet of these biscuits is priced at INR 30, good for the quantity and quality involved.

Shreya pickles

I had never heard of Shreya pickles before I spotted them at the little store selling unusual products (along with a lot of Patanjali stuff) near the Hwealth Cafe in HSR Layout, Bangalore. There were some really interesting variants – like wood apple, sweet lemon and turmeric pickle – and I absolutely had to pick a few of them up.

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The Shreya pickles that I bought – bitter gourd, wood apple, sweet lemon, turmeric root and tamarind chutney

I loved every single one of the pickles I bought! They tasted homely, not dunked in oil or overloaded with chilly powder and salt, the way some store-bought pickles do. They tasted fresh and nice and delicious, with no artificial or chemical smell to them. The best thing about these pickles, I felt, is that they come in little packages that you can empty in a few days’ time, unlike those that come in big glass bottles that you buy, but then don’t seem to get over endlessly.

Apparently, these pickles are made in Pune, Maharashtra, in the Maharashtrian way of making pickles. Lip-smacking! I am so going to try out all the other delish stuff they have on offer! One grouse, though, is that the labelling is only in Marathi, a tad tough to read for people who aren’t fluent in Hindi. I wish that could be changed and English labelling also included, to make the product acceptable to a wider audience – I so vouch for their taste and the homeliness, otherwise!

Price: All of these packets of pickle were priced between INR 25 to INR 35, which is highly reasonable, considering the quality and taste involved.

That’s that for now, folks!

What have your little discoveries at the grocery store been like recently? Tell me all about them!

Disclaimers:

  1. I do not normally buy or recommend the buying of packaged, processed stuff, like I was saying in the beginning of the post. I do, however, get tempted by such products and, sometimes, give in to my temptations. Most of these products, though, are one-time buys and not items on my regular shopping list. I would urge you to use your own discretion before you buy these or similar products.
  2. The views expressed herein are entirely my own, not influenced by anything or anyone. I do not stand to receive any kind of gain by recommending any of these products to you.
  3. Each of the products mentioned above were purchased and paid for by me in entirety, personally.