Category Archives: Nepal 2012 / 2013

Zoo visit in Nepal

I hadn’t been to the zoo in Kathmandu for more than a decade but this time we were lucky that we had time enough to visit the zoo. The zoo is located a few kilometres away from the city centre, Kathmandu. It is the only zoo in Nepal, a country with a population of 30 million, and hence fulfils an important role.

We hadn’t planned to there. We were out for lunch with my parents, my brother, SIL and little nephew. As we were close to the zoo, my dad suggested that we should go and visit it so that my little nephew could have some fun and all of us agreed to it.

Kathmandu zoo (14)

I remember around 3 years ago, me and AS wanted to go to the zoo. We were outside the gate and we saw so many people that it put us off from going inside. But I am glad we went this time.

As we walked inside, I realised nothing much had changed in the last decade, which is very sad.

The animal enclosures are arranged around the perimeter of a large boating lake which takes up a large proportion of the zoo’s area.

As we started of tour, we saw an elephant riding area. My dad wanted my nephew to have his first elephant ride so we went and asked the guys there for more information. They said there are a few groups already booked for the tour so asked us to buy the ticket and come back in an hour.

Kathmandu zoo (1)

The elephant ride cost us RS 100 each for around 15 minutes ride. So after buying the tickets we continued our tour.

Kathmandu zoo (13)

Kathmandu zoo (10)

The zoo is arranged according to taxonomy, with mammals, birds, reptiles and fishes all occupying different parts of the zoo. There are also playground rides, picnic lawns and boat rides on the lake. As we started walking around the zoo, I realised that there were lots of families with small kids enjoying their picnic as well as many lovebirds in corner benches enjoying their time together away from prying eyes.

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The zoo houses some 780 species including the critically endangers white-rumped vulture and Chinese alligator and six endangered species: Asian elephant, royal bengal tiger, one horned rhino, wild buffalo, gharial and yellow headed turtle.

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Along with these animals, there were hippos that was lazily sunbathing, a hyena, a giant deer, peacocks, white-napped crane, two big rhinos, monkeys, water buffalo, chimpanzees, leopards, beer, tigers, lions as well as golden pheasant, silver pheasant, chukar, kalij, parrots, owls. They also have small reptile collection featured a common cobra, an Indian rock python, snakes and a turtle.

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By the time we had a look around; it was almost our turn to ride the elephant so we went back to the riding area. We waited for 10 minutes and it was our turn.

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The guy told us it is OK for all of us to ride at the same time (poor elephant) so me, AS, my dad, my brother, SIL and my nephew got on the top of this elephant. I was glad that my nephew enjoyed the ride.

Kathmandu zoo zoo

Initially, the elephant was not listening to its handler and I was a bit scared as he was not moving according to the pre-planned route but after a while he relented and followed the route. While talking to the handler, he told us that the elephant is round 70 years old and does 8-10 trips every day. I felt sorry for the poor animal as he is so old and has to do this every day.

We were taken half way around the lake and then back to the same spot where we got on it. For some reason my nephew started to cry, poor baby. We were all glad when we get off as we were worried if something might have happened to him. But he was fine, just restless as he had to sit in one place too long. By this time it was getting cold and windy so we decided to go home.

I had a really nice time with my family and was happy to see my nephew have his first elephant ride.

Even though the zoo in Nepal is small but it is well maintained I am sure it is a great place for kids to visit to learn more about different animals. Construction was going on everywhere so it looks like it is in the process of a face lift with new paths and enclosures so I think in a few years it will be quite lovely.

Roti and fruit shops in Nepal

While I was shopping in Nepal for my nephew’s Pasni, I went to many Roti shops and fruit shops. I was so fascinated by the items on the shelves that I took the photos of so many varieties of rotis and fruits. You will notice that there are many varieties of rotis and I don’t even know the names. Also fruit shops are so different from the ones in Australia, I was just fascinated. Sharing the pics here 🙂fruits (1) fruits (2) fruits (3) fruits (4) Roti shop (1) Roti shop (2) Roti shop (3) Roti shop (4) Roti shop (5) Roti shop (6) Roti shop (7) Roti shop (8) Roti shop (9)

Swayambhunath: Kathmandu, Nepal

Going regularly to a temple is big part of Nepali culture. You will often see people of all age going to a temple early in the mornings. While in Nepal, we tried to go to different temples as well. For us it was more of going to see the place than for religion but if we were to get blessed while we were there then even better :). One of the temples we visited was Swayambhunath, also know was Monkey Temple by tourist in Kathmandu.

One day we were invited for lunch to our aunt’s house, which is near to Swayambhunath, so we decided to visit the temple before we went for lunch. Swayambhunath is an ancient religious complex atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley, west of Kathmandu city. Even though Swayambhunath is a Buddhist stupa, yet it is equally popular with the Hindu pilgrims as well.

Swayambhu (21)

Legend has it that Kathmandu Valley was once an enormous lake, out of which grew a lotus. The valley came to be known as Swayambhu, meaning “Self-Created.” The name comes from an eternal self-existent flame (svyaṃbhu) over which a stupa was later built.

Swayambhunath is also known as the Monkey Temple as there are holy monkeys living in the north-west parts of the temple. They are holy because Manjushree, the bodhisattva of wisdom and learning was raising the hill which the Swayambhunath Temple stands on. He was supposed to leave his hair short but he made it grow long and so head lice grew on them. It is said that the head lice transformed into these monkeys.

Swayambhu (15)

The Bodhisattva Manjusri had a vision of the lotus at Swayambhu and traveled there to worship it. Seeing that the valley could be a good place for settlement and to make the site more accessible to human pilgrims, Manjusri cut a gorge at Chovar. The water drained out of the lake, leaving the valley in which Kathmandu now lies. The lotus was transformed into a hill and the flower became the Swayambhunath stupa.

As we were driving to the hill where Swayambhunath stupa is, we could really see how beautiful the temple is.  Around the bend of some roads, the temple comes into full view, and we can see the large Buddha’s eyes, sitting below a golden roof at the peak, keeping watch over the valley.

These large pair of eyes, which represent Wisdom and Compassion, on each of the four sides of the main stupa. Above each pair of eyes is another eye, the third eye. It is said that when Buddha preaches, cosmic rays emanate from the third eye which act as messages to heavenly beings, so that those interested can come down to earth to listen to the Buddha. The hellish beings and beings below the human realm cannot come to earth to listen to the Buddha’s teaching, however, the cosmic rays relieve their suffering when Buddha preaches.

Swayambhu (26)

The dome at the base represents the entire world. When a person awakes (represented by eyes of wisdom and compassion) from the bonds of the world, the person reaches the state of enlightenment. The thirteen pinnacles on the top symbolize that sentient beings have to go through the thirteen stages of spiritual realizations to reach enlightenment or Buddhahood.

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When we reached the gate leading to the steps, there were many monkeys all over the place. Some people were feeding monkeys which were running everywhere. I am scared of monkeys as a monkey had snatched a bag from my hand when I was kid so I went and hid behind my husband and brother when I saw them running towards us. I have to say they are pretty well behaved as they don’t bother you unless you annoy them.

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On the side of the gates, there were ladies selling Puja items like candle, flowers and souvenirs.

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There are 365 steps and it is believed that there’s a step for each day of the year, starting at the gate and ending at the stupa. We started to climb the stairs and more monkeys emerged. I stayed close to AS and I was fine. We took a few photos as we climbed up and as we went higher the view got even better. There were many beggars sitting on either sides of the stairs as well and some of them I felt really sorry for as they had small children with them.

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As we reached the top, we could see more monkeys everywhere. There were also stalls selling the usual touristy items. There were many interesting, well-done acrylic paintings of the Himalayas, Nepali hand puppets and other handicrafts.

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Swayambhu (20)

There were also lots of people worshipping in the temple with diyo and candles. I could see prayer flags around the stupa and lots of diyo lit in front of the temple next to stupa. The Swayambhunath complex consists of a stupa, a variety of shrines and temples, some dating back to the Licchavi period as well as a Tibetan monastery, a museum and a library.

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 As we walked around the temple, we rotated the prayer wheels. A prayer wheel is a cylindrical “wheel” on a spindle made from metal, wood, stone, leather or coarse cotton. Traditionally, the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum is written in Sanskrit on the outside of the wheel. According to the lineage texts on prayer wheels, prayer wheels are used to accumulate wisdom and merit (good karma) and to purify negativities (bad karma).

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Swayambhu (23)

At one end of the temple area, there is a viewpoint from where you can see the entire Kathmandu. I remember coming there when we were young and we used to try to find our house from there but these days due to population and pollution, you can’t see very far. I felt really sad to see how Kathmandu has changed in the last decade and definitely not for the better in terms of the environment.

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Swayambhu (17)

After looking around for a few more minutes, we decided to back down to the car. As you come down, there is a golden statue of Buddha surrounded by water. People were throwing coins into a bucket there and it is believed if your coin enters the bucket, it will bring good luck. My brother and SIL were trying their luck so AS asked me to throw some coins as well. It reminded me of the Trevi fountain when we were in Italy. There were lots of coins lying around the statue there as well but I am sure, the amount of money thrown here is nowhere near the amount in the Trevi fountain.

Swayambhu (9)

After our visit to the temple, we were really hungry so we went to our aunt’s house for lunch 🙂

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My nephew’s Pasni Party

After the Pasni Puja in the morning everyone was tired including the little one but there was no time to rest as we had a reception organised for 300+ people that evening to celebrate the Pasni ceremony. Pasni ceremonies have become very lavish these days, with large parties of not just close relatives, but also colleagues and friends being invited for the event. As my nephew was the first grand kid for my parents and for my SIL’s parents, they wanted to make sure everyone necessary was invited.

After lunch my MIL, FIL and AS left for home to get some rest and also to get ready for the evening. So as soon as I finished eating, I rushed to my parents’ house to prepare for the evening. There was not much to do as these days you just need to order catering in the party venue and they look after everything for you.

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So I just made sure that mum was ok with what to wear for the evening and she didn’t need any help. My SIL had 2 of her cousins helping her to get ready. We had already decided that my nephew was going to change into a red velvet pasni dress with blue and gold embroidery that I had bought for him.

PARTY PASNI (2)

So it was my turn to be ready and be there before guest arrived. I first went and did my hair and make-up. I was so excited to wear the special sari I had designed and ordered. It took me more than 2 hours to finally be party ready. When I was done AS picked me up to go to the party venue.

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When we arrived at the venue, most of our close relatives were there already and a photo session was going on with my nephew.

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He was looking really cute and adorable in the red velvet special pasni dress.We made sure we got heaps of family photos as well as photo of the little man.

PARTY PASNI (1)

Proud Grandparents

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Slowly guests started to come one by one. There were lots of relatives from my mum and dad’s sides so I spent lots of time mingling and making sure that everyone was looked after properly.

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Also AS’s side of the family including his aunts, uncles and cousins were invited. Once they arrived at the party I was even busier as I had to talk to everyone and make sure they were eating and drinking properly.

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By this time, the dance floor was slowly getting busy with my uncles, aunts and cousins dancing. I wanted to join them as well but it was a bit hard for me initially as I didn’t know what my in-laws would think. For me party has always been more about dancing and fun more than food but being a new DIL and having all AS’s close relatives at the party, I didn’t want to  go and jump on the dance floor.

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But then one of AS’s aunt showed her desire to join the dance floor and asked me if we shouldn’t enjoy ourselves too. That was the only excuse I needed so I asked all AS’s relative to join us on the dance floor. And yes, that included my MIL as well. I am so glad my MIL took it well and did show her few moves . It was really fun and nice of everyone to just go with the flow attitude. Also AS and his cousins joined and we had a great time. I had to go away from dance floor from time to time to meet relatives who had recently arrived but I was really enjoying everything. I also had few of my good friend joining us for the celebration.

PARTY PASNI (8)

The evening went quickly and slowly guest started to leave in ones and twos. By the end of the evening only close relatives were left so we all had our meal as well. We made sure everything was OK and then left for home.

PARTY PASNI (5)

Proud Grand ma

It was really great to be a part of the celebration and it was nice to meet everyone during the celebration.  One of the nicest memories I had from Nepal this trip.

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Happy Fufu

And my nephew was an angel whole day. He didn’t cry and was smiling at everyone. He was held by more than 200+ hands that evening but he was just smiling and playing with everyone that everyone was so impressed to see such a playful happy baby.

He is growing up so fast and every time I see him, there are some nice changes with him. These days he has learnt how to move his fingers in the “come here” sign so it is so cute to watch him do that. Sometimes he is so amazed that he can do that, he keeps on looking at his own hands. Also he is falling in love with himself. Every time he is in front of the mirror, all he does is smile,

My nephew’s Pasni Puja

As I told you before the main reason we went to Nepal this time was because my nephew was having his Pasni ceremony. My brother, SIL and the little one had gone to Nepal a week before us to prepare for the ceremony. Me and AS landed 10 days before the ceremony and all we did until the ceremony was to prepare for it.

AS I am married now we need to take gifts for everyone which included little nephew, my brother, my mum, my aunty and uncle (they being the head of our family) as well. So we were shopping for the first 7 days straight.

Also my mum and SIL had to give saris to all our relatives so I went with them to buy the saris. Saris seem to be so expensive so we had to increase our budget significantly to get the type of sari we wanted. After going to a few saris shops, finally we were happy with a sari and luckily they had 35 pieces of them so we just took them all. Also we needed to buy Pasni outfit for the little one which took another hour as there were so many choices.

sari

We went to many shops and after many days we managed to buy everything we needed for the ceremony. As I was living at my new home, I needed to go to my parent’s house whenever required to help my parents to organise the ceremony which kept me busy as well, traveling back and forth.

I also ordered a sari for myself in a boutique for the party. I went to many boutiques in Kathmandu and they were all pricy but they didn’t have what I was looking for. Luckly I found a small boutique in Kupondole who were happy to make what I designed. So I ordered my design and was pleased to get the sari that I wanted. The price was really high but as I got what I wanted, I was happy at the end. 🙂

Once everything was set at my parents end, it was my time to help my MIL for the ceremony. We needed to take Sagun (eggs, bara, chicken, fish, yogurt) for the day along with gifts from my new home. So the day before the ceremony, the whole day I and my MIL were in kitchen making bara, chicken, fish and other items. We also went out and bought rotis and fruits.

My BIL and AS helped to wrap all the trays beautifully with wrapping paper and bows.

my nephews's pasni (1)

Finally, the morning of the Pasni ceremony, me and AS left for my parents’ house early in the morning to help around. My in-laws were coming in few hours later.

When I reached there, most of our relatives were already there. Everyone seemed to be busy doing one thing or other.  I help my mum and SIL to get ready.  The auspicious time (saayit) chosen by an astrologer for Pasni was 9.45 am so around 9.30, the priest started making preparation for the puja.

my nephews's pasni (10)

This puja is performed so that baby can taste all kinds of food. Although this is a centuries old tradition, modern science has also established the fact that child’s digestive system is capable of processing solid food when they are approximately 6 months old.

pasni puja

my nephews's pasni (19)

Normally, the baby needs to have a bath but as it was winter, we just cleaned the little man and he wore new cloths. He sat in his mum’s lap with his dad beside her and the ceremony began. My aunt started the puja with the help of the priest. The first step was to worship Lord Ganesh and sukunda and all the gods. Then she put tika on the forehead of the baby, and he was given a special outfit which was made of silk in red colour (Taas) embroidered with golden threads along with gold ornaments like chain, earrings, bangles and silver ornaments like anklets (kalli) carved with dragon at both the ends to keep the bad omens at bay.

my nephews's pasni (18)

 He was also given a tray of stuffs like books symbolising learning, jewels symbolising wealth, a pen symbolising wisdom, clay symbolising property, food items symbolising a love for food. When the tray was given to him, the first thing he touched was a book so we are hoping he will be a big scholar one day.

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The priest asked the baby to be changed into the special outfit so I helped my SIL to change the baby into the red Taas outfit. He was really happy to play with us while we were changing him. We also put golden chain, bracelets and anklets on him but he cried a lot when we exchanged the earing he had on, on his recently pierced ears with the gold earring. I felt so bad that he was crying because it hurt but after a while he was ok.

my nephews's pasni (17)

Again, my nephew, SIL and my brother sat down to continue the puja. The next step was to feed him his first solid food. As per our newari custom, it was Thaa Bu (Big plate with rice, eggs, yogurt, wine, fruits, Roti, meat, fish, vegetables and much more). Of course the little one is not going to eat everything but he got to taste salty food for the first time.

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my nephews's pasni (12)

After that it was my parents turn to feed the baby. Then it was my turn to give sagun. By then my MIL had arrived with my FIL. So I helped my MIL to give sagun to everyone. All the work we had done was for that moment. We stared with my nephew followed my SIL, my brother, my aunt, my uncle, my dad and my mum. Then we gave sagun to all the family members. We also gave the clothes we had bought for everyone.

my nephews's pasni (9)

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Then my SIL’s parents gave their sagun followed my aunties and other family members. Everyone gave my nephew clothes and jewelleries. Once everyone was done, my SIL’s maternal uncle put tika and garland on the baby and took the baby from my SIL.

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my nephews's pasni (21)

Everyone took some sindoor, rice and flower and threw it towards my nephew so the maternal uncle could now take the baby outside for a temple visit. With the help of the priest, we took the baby to all the nearby temples and did some puja. It took almost an hour so when we came back home, the little one was so tired, he was fast asleep.

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By the time we returned home, lunch was ready in the party place nearby so all of us went there for lunch. Before the lunch, we took family photos and lots of photos of the little man. He looked amazing in the red outfit and was smiling a lot enjoying his big day.

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My parents and my SIL’s parents were really pleased to witness their only grandson’s pasni in Nepal.

By the time we finished eating. We had less than four hours left for the guests to arrive for the Pasni party in the evening. I will write more about the Pasni party in my next post.

Kailashnath Mahadev – Sanga, Kathmandu,Nepal

While I was in Nepal I was always planning our day. I really didn’t want to spend our free days (whatever was left after all our lunch and dinner invites from our relatives) staying home. My MIL even told me once; I probably have chakras on my feet because of which I can’t stay in one place for long. I am sure that is true and I have even admitted that in my post here. 🙂

One of the days, I, with my MIL, FIL and AS, went to Kailashnath Mahadev which is a Shiva statue situated in Sanga, the border of Bhaktapur and Kavrepalanchok districts in Nepal. It is is spread in 400,000 sq feet area and houses a 16 delux room resort, spa, yoga, health club and meditation centre.

Kailashnath Mahadev , Sanga (8)

This is the World’s tallest Lord Shiva statue till date, standing 143 feet high. It depicts Lord Shiva with a Trishul in his hand while a king Cobra is resting on his shoulder.  The construction for this gigantic statue started in 2004 and completed in 2012.  It was inaugurated by Nepal’s President Ram Baran Yadav on June 21 2012.

Kailashnath Mahadev , Sanga (9)

The statue has been made of copper, cement, zinc and steel. The place also has a children’s park, physiotherapy clinic, steam and sauna bath facilities.

To make this statue cope with landslides and other natural incidents, there was a 100 feet foundation which had to be constructed as it is situated on a hillside, there were also many other precautions which needed to be considered.

Kailashnath Mahadev , Sanga (4)

There seems to be two entries to the area. The first one which is the main gate is the entry to the resort, physiotherapy clinic, steam and sauna bath facilities and costs Rs. 100 to get in and it includes entry to where the statue is also. The second is and entry to only the statue and costs Rs 25 or maybe even free, depending on who you ask. My brother and parents had been to the temple before so had warned us not to pay the Rs. 100 entry fee, i.e.  don’t go from the main entry, as we were not interested in the resort and all. But somehow we end up going through the same entrance as them where we have to pay RS 100 a person to get in, this is I believe since the motorable road leads to the entrance. It was not a lot of money but considering that you can enter for free, it is a bit stupid to pay money especially if you don’t intend to avail of the other facilities in the resort/ clinic.

Kailashnath Mahadev , Sanga (5)

Once we parked our car, the only thing, I could think of was food so we decided to go and eat at one of the canteens they have. They serve only vegetarian food which was a big letdown for AS. We ordered Puri tarkari, veg momo and chowmein. It was nice but I have to admit it was really pricy for the place. All the items were RS 200 but we get RS 100 discount if we show our entry ticket. I know it was all business and we are one of their millions visitors who fell straight into the trap. I am calling this a trap because, just 500 meter away from that canteen there is another canteen near the entrance for the statue (yes the free one) and they are selling everything for less that RS 100.

Kailashnath Mahadev , Sanga (6)

Anyway after enjoying the food we went to visit the temple. As I had seen the photo before, I knew what to expect but still it was really great feeling to see the idol from up-close. We took lots of nice photos and walked down to the main entrance.

Kailashnath Mahadev , Sanga (7)

There were lots of people there mainly Nepali but there were a few tourists as well. Being the world’s tallest statue of Hindu God Shiva, Kailashnath Mahadev Statue has become a famous tourist attraction in Nepal and is visited by thousands of tourists from across the globe.

Kailashnath Mahadev , Sanga (10)

Kailashnath Mahadev , Sanga (1) It seems to be a nice place, a short drive away from Kathmandu for people from Kathmandu to getaway.

Kailashnath Mahadev , Sanga (2)

My BIL was having his Rotaract District Conference, in the resort there so when he was done, he also joined us at the statue. It was a nice family get away for us so close to Kathmandu.

Kailashnath Mahadev , Sanga (3)

Khandeko golbenda ko achar (Pickled tomatoes)

I learned so many recipes from my mother in law while I was in Nepal. I’m sharing one of them now.

Ingredients

  • 1 litre glass jar
  • 1/2 kg ripe Tomatoes cut into cubes
  • Garlic 50 gms chopped
  • Ginger 20 gms chopped
  • 3 Green chilli chopped
  • 1.5 teaspoons Cumin powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons Coriander powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons Red chilli powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons Turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons Mustard seed powder
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Mustard oil

I used a glass jar which came with 1kg honey estimating it’ll hold around 1 litre of water. The idea is to fill it with the ingredients with a bit of space to spare. The tomatoes should fill about 80% of the jar and the ginger and garlic 10% with 10% empty. Chilli is to taste.

Process:

  • Cut the tomatoes into cubes about 1/2 inch big and chop Garlic, Ginger and Green chillies and put them in a large bowl.

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  • Add the spices as mentioned in the ingredients and mix them all together.

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  • Fill the glass jar to around 90%.
  • Put a clean wrap or plastic bag on the month of the jar and close it tightly so no air can enter.

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  • Leave the jar where it can get direct sunlight.

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  • Every few days, open the jar and move the tomatoes around. Close the jar, tightly.
  • The pickle will be ready in 4-5 days. Enjoy!

Khandeko golbera ko achar