Sharjah Shake Recipe| How To Make Sharjah Milkshake

Kerala’s connection with the Gulf is legendary. Almost every family in Kerala has someone living in the Gulf countries or someone very eager to go there. When we recently visited Wayanad,Kerala, we were not surprised to come across small bakeries called ‘Dubai Bakery’, ‘UAE Bakery’ and the likes. It was in one of these little bake shops that we sampled Sharjah Shake for the first time ever.

For the uninitiated, Sharjah Shake is a milkshake that you will find in most bakeries in Kerala. A concoction made of milk, coffee powder, sometimes chocolate, peanuts, bananas, vanilla ice cream and Boost, Horlicks or Bournvita, it tastes absolutely delicious. This might sound like a weird combination, but don’t let that deter you from trying this out – like I said, this milkshake is finger-lickingly delish!

The origins of the Sharjah Shake are hazy. Some say this concoction was dreamt up by a Malayali in memory of the beautiful time he spent in Sharjah. Some say it is a tribute to the Gulf, the unending love Keralites share for the place. Well, whatever the case may be, I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to taste this beauty in Wayanad and to learn to make it right there!

Here’s how to make Sharjah Shake, the way I learnt standing in a tiny Wayanadan bakery.

Ingredients (serves 2):

  1. 1 medium-sized Robusta banana, chopped
  2. 2 heaped tablespoons Boost
  3. 3 tablespoons sugar or to taste
  4. 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
  5. 2 tablespoons salted peanuts, skin removed
  6. 1 small cup of vanilla ice cream or to taste
  7. About 1-1/2 cups chilled milk

Method:

1. Add all ingredients in mixer.

2. Blend till smooth.

3. Pour into serving glasses. Sprinkle some cocoa powder or instant coffee powder on top (optional). Serve immediately.

Notes:

1. You can add in a few cashewnuts for a thicker milkshake as well as for added flavour.

2. Increase or decrease the quantity of the ingredients used, depending upon your personal taste preferences.

3. You can use Horlicks or Bournvita in making this milkshake, instead of Boost. Each one of these will add a variation to the taste.

4. Make sure the milk has been boiled and chilled in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, before using it in making the milkshake.

5. In Kerala, small local varieties of bananas are used to make the Sharjah Shake. Since I did not have access to them, I used a Robusta banana instead.

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This post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for this week is ‘Recipes using coffee’.

I’m also sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #220, co-hosted by Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Jhuls @ Not So Creative Cook.

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Podi Ari Upma| Broken Matta Rice Upma

Do you often cook with matta rice?

I hadn’t, until very recently. Matta rice – also called Kerala red rice, Palakkadan matta rice, red parboiled rice or Rosematta rice – was a totally new ingredient to me. I had heard about it, of course, but had never eaten it or cooked with it all these years. On our recent trip to Wayanad, I picked up a bag of broken matta rice at a departmental store, so I could get home and try it out. Following an online recipe, with a few variations of my own, I used the broken matta rice to make vegetable upma in a pressure cooker, which turned out absolutely delicious! The upma was a delight, especially when eaten warm! Mildly spiced, lovely in taste, and a breeze to cook, the upma – known in Kerala as Podi Ari Upma – was a huge hit at home.

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For the uninitiated, matta rice is a special type of brown rice that is cultivated in Kerala. It has numerous health benefits, and is a much better alternative to the highly polished white rice we commonly consume. It is rich in fibre, calcium, magnesium and assorted vitamins. Thanks to the dense black soil of Kerala in which matta rice is commonly cultivated, it has a distinct earthy flavour to it. (Information courtesy: Wikipedia)

Matta rice is harder than white rice and, hence, needs a bit of soaking beforehand for it to be cooked thoroughly. However, since I used broken matta rice (broken into tiny granules, like semolina, not hard at all), I did not need to soak it at all. My podi ari upma turned out just right, perfectly cooked, soft, yet fluffy. I am pretty sure this broken matta rice upma will find pride of place at our dining table pretty often!

Here is how I made the broken matta rice upma.

Recipe Courtesy: Nimmy’s Kitchen

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 1-1/2 cups broken matta rice
  2. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  3. 1 medium-sized onion
  4. 1 medium-sized carrot
  5. About 1/4 cup shelled green peas
  6. 1 small capsicum
  7. 3 green chillies
  8. 1 teaspoon oil
  9. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  10. A pinch of asafoetida (hing)
  11. 1 teaspoon cumin (jeera)
  12. 1/4 cup fresh grated coconut
  13. A few fresh curry leaves
  14. Salt, to taste

Method:

  1. First up, we will get the veggies ready. Peel and chop the carrot and ginger finely. Chop the capsicum finely. Keep the curry leaves, shelled green peas, and grated coconut handy. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Keep aside.
  2. Wash the broken matta rice a couple of times in running water. Drain out all the water, and keep aside.
  3. In a small pressure cooker (I use a 3-litre one), heat the oil. Add in the mustard seeds and let them pop. Add the asafoetida and cumin, and let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
  4. Now, add the ginger, green chillies, curry leaves, onion, carrot, capsicum and green peas. Saute for a couple of seconds on high flame.
  5. Add in the washed and drained broken matta rice. Saute for a second on high flame.
  6. Add in 3-1/2 cups water and salt to taste. Mix well. Taste the water – it should be slightly salty; when the rice is fully cooked, the saltiness will be just perfect. Adjust salt if required.
  7. Cover pressure cooker and put the whistle on. Cook on high flame for 4 whistles.
  8. Let the pressure release manually and then open the cooker. Fluff up the broken matta rice upma and add the freshly grated coconut. Mix well. Serve piping hot, on its own or with chutney of your choice.

Notes:

  1. The broken matta rice that I used was quite small in size. I used 2 cups of water per cup of broken matta rice and it was just perfect. Here, I have used 3.5 cups of water (3 cups for the 1.5 cups of broken matta rice + 0.5 cup for the veggies). I get a well-cooked but fluffy upma. You can increase/decrease the quantity of water you use, depending upon how well-cooked you want your upma to be as well as the size of your broken matta rice.
  2. For us, the heat from 3 green chillies and the bit of ginger is just right. Increase the quantity of green chillies you use, if you want your upma to be spicier – mine is quite mild.
  3. You can add in any vegetables of your choice. I commonly use whatever is handy in my kitchen when I am cooking this.
  4. Use a small pressure cooker for best results. Also, it is imperative to have all the ingredients ready and work quickly, to ensure that there is no burning.
  5. Add in the fresh grated coconut at the very end, after the broken matta rice upma is cooked. This adds a lovely touch to the upma.

Do try out this broken matta rice upma! I’d love to know how you liked it!

Monkey Business At Pookode Lake, Wayanad

Wayanad has several tourist attractions, ranging from lakes and waterfalls to beautiful, ancient temples and national parks. On our recent brief holiday to Wayanad, however, we decided to take things reallllllyyyyyyy slow – not endlessly checking off things from a to-do list, but exploring at our own pace, just as much as our hearts (and bodies and our little daughter!) dictated.

In the two full days and two half days that we spent in Wayanad, we ended up visiting only two lakes – the Pookode Lake and the Karalad Lake. We absolutely loved Karalad Lake and were not much charmed by the Pookode Lake, though it is just as beautiful a place as the former.

A view of the Pookode Lake, a tourist boat plying over it

The moment we entered the premises of Pookode Lake, our senses were soothed by the sight and sound of water lapping against the banks. The very next moment, we felt tension seeping back into our minds and bodies again – the place was super crowded, there was just too much chaos, and a closer glance revealed that the water was quite dirty.

The lake premises have too many things crammed into it, we felt – boating, a small temple, a permanent exhibition of Wayanad-special products, a children’s play area, an ice cream shop, a canteen, caricature artists, a fish spa, an aquarium… just too messy. And, oh, the monkeys! There are scores of monkeys at Pookode Lake, very naughty, very bold, not one bit afraid of the tourists.

We were told getting a chance at boating on the lake would involve a wait of at least two hours, so we decided against it. Instead, we chose to take a walk around the lake and settle down on a stone bench to just be and take in the surroundings around us.

It was rather sad to see this plant bearing the brunt of vandalism! So many names, so many initials carved into its leaves – sigh!

The monkeys kept us thoroughly entertained, the hour or so we spent at Pookode Lake. I have come across monkeys at tourist spots before, but never ones as precocious, as atrocious as the ones here. The monkeys at Pookode Lake are absolutely undaunted. They don’t have second thoughts about pulling at tourists’ clothes or bags, to get hold of their ice cream cones or popcorn packets. They appear out of nowhere, seem to jump out of everywhere. They sit right next to your bench, staring you up and down, sniffing the air, as if telling you they know all about the bag of chips you have hidden in your backpack. They don’t allow the tourists a moment of rest and relaxation, really. You have to see them in action to believe me.

This particular monkey was busy biting its tail, when we entered Pookode Lake. Later, we saw it had bitten a hole through its tail!

I had read about the monkey trouble at Pookode Lake earlier, so we left all our food in the car and did not carry any in our backpacks. We did not buy any food at the in-house canteen, either. The monkeys, therefore, left us alone, well, relatively at least.

A little monkey quenching its thirst, at Pookode Lake

Thankfully, the monkeys did not seem to be all that interested in my camera. They were content to do their mischievous acts, letting me capture all of it on camera.

A naughty monkey enjoying an ice cream cone snatched off a tourist!
This little one was so happy playing with his mother’s tail and lying down on it! It was so very cute to watch!
Another monkey, another ice cream cone, another tourist’s dupatta grabbed
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We sit on the heart of India!

We walked away from Pookode Lake with mixed feelings.

Of the two big tourist hotspots in Wayanad – Pookode Lake and Karalad Lake – I personally preferred the latter. Both lakes are equally beautiful and offer boating facilities. However, Karalad Lake is quieter and much better managed, as they have just a few boats to offer and very limited tourist activities. There are no monkeys at Karalad Lake, either! I much preferred the calm of Karalad Lake to the chaos of Pookode Lake. If you have to choose any one of these two, I would suggest Karalad.

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Tips for travellers:

  1. There is a minimal entry fee for visitors to Pookode Lake, INR 20 per head or so. Camera charges are separate.
  2. The lake tends to get quite crowded, especially so on weekends. Boating might involve standing in a queue and long wait times. Please do be prepared for this.
  3. The monkeys here are atrocious. Please do be on your guard at all times, and safeguard your children as well. It would be best not to carry any food with you into the lake premises, and avoid eating at the canteen too. Do not feed the monkeys, try to scare them or entertain them in any way.
  4. The parking lot is a short walk away from the actual lake. Please do bear this in mind while travelling with very young kids or aged people. You could make use of the local autos to commute from the parking lot to/from the lake. If you are travelling via a cab, you can request the driver to drop you at the lake and then proceed to the parking lot – that is allowed.
  5. The permanent exhibition within the Pookode Lake premises is quite good. It stocks a variety of products indigenous to Wayanad, all of it reasonably priced. This is a good place to shop for souvenirs and for exotic ingredients to take back home with you from your trip.

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I hope you enjoyed traversing Pookode Lake with me, virtually. Do let me know, in your comments!

Postcards From Karalad Lake, Wayanad

Wayanad, a district located in the north-east of Kerala, is a no-brainer holiday destination for the people living in Bangalore and surrounding areas. Wayanad is just about a 6-hour drive away from Bangalore, anyway, with quite a few home stays available. Most of the Bangalore tourists who visit Wayanad, however, stay just for a day or two – there is not much to do here, they say, just a couple of lakes, temples, tea and coffee plantations, and the undulating mountains. The husband and I, however, beg to differ.

Yes, Wayanad does not have many tourist spots per se, but the off-beat traveller does indeed have a lot to explore here. For people who enjoy being in the midst of unadulterated nature, who enjoy history and love learning about a culture and way of living different from theirs, Wayanad has plenty to offer. In fact, our homestay owner gave us a list of over 30 destinations that are worth visiting in Wayanad, which one can cover only over a stay of at least seven days! And that is minus the explorations of the pretty nooks and crannies that you run into here, which aren’t listed anywhere as such, but are surely worth the experience.

We stayed in Wayanad for two full days, plus a few hours on the two days we travelled to and fro. We were not inclined to check out all the sights, cram in a load of sights and scenes into the two days we would be spending there. Plus, the fact that we were travelling with a small child did not allow us the flexibility to do the full-on sightseeing that we might have resorted to earlier. Also, thanks to the winding, narrow roads of Wayanad and the fact that the popular tourist spots are all located at a 25-30km distance from each other, we think covering everything in one go is not really a great idea. Wayanad is, as per us, meant to be explored slowly, soaking in the sights and sounds and smells and tastes a little at a time.

We took it real slow this time, just choosing to visit two of the many tourist spots in Wayanad – the Pookode lake and the Karalad lake. I leave you with some postcards from the beautiful Karalad lake, my favourite spot in Wayanad.

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Our Experience At Karalad Lake

With the help of Google maps, we took the interior countryside roads to Karalad lake, very few vehicles passing us by. The lush greenery on both sides of the roads enchanted us. I would say the drive to the lake was just as beautiful and enjoyable as the time we spent at the destination.

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At one point en route to Karalad lake, there were these beautiful, green, green, green banana trees on both sides of the road. We couldn’t resist getting down to click some pictures here!

Karalad lake is a clean, serene and beautiful place, an oasis of calm. It is smaller than the Pookode lake, by the look of it, but much less crowded and peaceful. I fell in love with the spot at first glance, and so did the bub and the husband.

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I loved this rock sculpture (?) of a mother and her child lost in their own world, right outside Karalad lake.

Karalad lake is the sort of place where you just sit and let the force of nature take over you, relax and rejuvenate you, heal you from the inside.

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Our first view of the beautiful Karalad lake

The waters here are magical, calm and quiet at least on the surface. They fill you with peace, as you take them in.

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Another group, soaking in the peace at Karalad lake

There are just a few boats plying the waters at Karalad lake. Take a ride on one of these, as we did, and the lake will enchant you further with its sights and sounds and hues. A boat ride here is such a soothing experience, quite unlike the overcrowded, stress-filled boat rides that we have had elsewhere. The splash-splash-splash of the boat’s oars cutting through the waters almost lulled us into a trance, the way real boat rides should.

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Tourists on a pedal boat at Karalad lake

Karalad lake is home to flora and fauna of several kinds, and we thoroughly enjoyed this bounty of nature here. The flowers in particular, by the lakeside, are very pretty.

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Colourful flowers at Karalad lake
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The beautiful water lilies to which Karalad lake is home

If you are lucky, you will spot a couple of the small animals and reptiles that inhabit Karalad lake. We did!

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This little fellow was almost invisible, the same colour as the tree trunk he sat on. Can you spot him?

Our boatsman told us there are several types of snakes that inhabit the waters of the Karalad lake, as well as a special kind of small turtles. We were blessed to spot one of these beautiful, little turtles on the course of our boat ride.

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Isn’t he super cute?!

Overall, we loved the time we spent at Karalad lake. Though the lake is quite small and there isn’t  much to do here, we liked this place much better than the crowded, not-so-clean Pookode lake in Wayanad. We walked away from Karalad lake, sated, our hearts content.

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One of the cottages available for rent at Karalad lake

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Tips for travellers

  1. There are very few boats plying at Karalad lake, so you might have to wait for a while for a ride. Do plan your visit accordingly.
  2. Unlike Pookode lake – which boats of an aquarium, a cafeteria, several boats and a little temple – there is nothing much to do at Karalad lake. Do be prepared for the same when you visit. The waters here are much cleaner and the place much less crowded and peaceful than Pookode lake. Personally, we loved Karalad lake, and couldn’t form a connection with Pookode lake.
  3. There is parking space available right outside the lake. Unlike many other tourist spots in Wayanad, there is not much walking involved in visiting Karalad lake. This is a place that will suit tourists visiting with young kids and the aged.
  4. The lake is open to visitors till about 6 PM, but boating is allowed only till 5 PM. Do plan accordingly – you need to reach the lake at about 3.30 PM so as to ensure a chance at a boat ride.
  5. There is accomodation (tents) available at the lake, for those who are interested. You need to book these well in advance, I am guessing.
  6. I hear there are zipling facilities available at the lake when the circumstances are favourable for the same. We didn’t spot any ziplining happening, however, when we visited. If you plan to visit the lake exclusively for ziplining, do check on the availability.
  7. There is an entry fee of about INR 30 per head for Karalad lake. Boating charges are separate, depending upon the type of boat you choose (pedal boat or one with a boatsman and oars).
  8. There are a couple of small stores telling tea, snacks and assorted knick-knacks right outside the lake compound.

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I hope you enjoyed traversing Karalad lake with me! Please do tell me, in the comments section!

One Morning, In Wayanad

Since long, the husband and I had been craving for a vacation where we did absolutely nothing. We wanted a holiday where we would just eat, sleep, read, walk around the place we were staying at, and play with the bub. No sightseeing, no agenda.

So, as soon as we got a chance, recently, off we took to Wayanad, to stay in one of the many homestays there – one named Kudajadri Drizzle, to be precise. We wanted to just be, and do nothing else. It’s a different story that the bub didn’t let us just be at the homestay, and we had to head out for some sightseeing just to keep her entertained – not that we didn’t have fun in the process. 😛 Another story is that the drive back home to Bangalore from Wayanad took us 12 hours – the double of what it takes usually – thanks to crazy traffic. We ended up more exhausted than ever, but still, I am glad we managed to see a new place.

Wayanad is beautiful, all rolling hills and lush green and small town and winding paths. The homestay we stayed at was lovely, an ancient family home which is now let out to other families, and we thoroughly loved the experience of staying in it. We walked around in the plantation attached to the homestay, ooh-ing and aah-ing at various trees and plants, the bub’s mouth opening wide in awe as she touched Touch-Me-Not plants and watched them closing up. We explored the hill station in bits and pieces, learning a little about their cuisine, picking up some foodie souvenirs, trying out new dishes. I wouldn’t say we got the relaxed, do-nothing sort of vacation we wanted, but we did get another sort of beautiful holiday – one in which we were not inclined to see all the sights the destination had to offer, but kept it to the minimal.

I leave you with some pictures from our walk in the homestay’s plantation, one gorgeous Wayanadan morning.

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The bub, the husband and the mother, walking into the plantation
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Beautiful, beautiful green pepper was everywhere!
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A close-up of the green pepper on a plant. My! What an experience it was to bite into one, plucked straight off the plant, and gasp as it filled my mouth with its spiciness!
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Citron fruits, narthangai in Tamil, on the tree
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Green pepper being dried in the sun, to be packed off and sent off to various destinations
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Cocoa beans, in various stages of ripening. This is the first-ever time we saw these on the plant! How exciting!

 

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Coffee berries! That’s where coffee, as we know it, comes from.
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Left: Golden yellow konna flowers (Cassia Fistula) that are of great significance in Vishu poojas; Centre: Pink dandelion!; Right: Guava fruits hanging off the tree
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The sweet little calf, for whom the plantation is home. I was fascinated by its beautiful eyes!

 

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Tall, tall, tall betelnut trees in various stages of fruition
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Spellbound by all the Touch-Me-Nots!
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Different types of flowers we spotted, on our walk through the plantation
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A cardamom plant blooming! Can’t say we have seen one before.
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Left: A betel leaf creeper; Centre: Bananas on the tree; Right: A papaya tree

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I hope you enjoyed this little walk through a Wayanad home plantation with me. Do let me know!

Please stay tuned for more stories from our trip to Wayanad!