Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

World Geography: Southern India

This week's world geography took us to the Southern tip of India.

"Southern India includes the Deccan plateau; the plains of the Malabar and Coromandel coasts and the mountainous Eastern and Western Ghats that separate them; and in the far south, the flat lands of Tamil Nadu." -World Food Cafe

An elephant in the morning mists in Tamil Nadu's Mudumalai Santuary. -World Food Cafe

We looked at the animals in India, and reviewed the differences between the Indian and the African elephants. 
Asian or African Elephant?
April, 2009

Reading the World Food Cafe book, you can really imagine that you are there. It tells about the places of Southern India.

"As you drive along these plains, it is common to see acres and acres of deep yellow fields dominating the landscape." -JLR Explore, Natural Areas
"We drove past acres of sunflowers to the sleepy town of Badami, whose tree-lined avenues were almost devoid of motorized traffic; bullock carts, horse-drawn tongas and bicycles were the only company for our car." -World Food Cafe

The ancient cave sculptures found in Badami — DC
The ancient cave sculptures found in Badami — Deccan Chronicle 

"In the cliffs above the town are some fifth-century caves full of exquisite stone carvings depicting scenes from Hindu and Buddhist mythology. As the Moguls fought their way south in the sixteenth century, destroying such images, they missed these, which are almost intact today." World Food Cafe

A view of the Virupaksha complex from Hemakuta hill
A view of the Virupaksha complex from Hemakuta hill-Wikipedia

"...we drove south to the ruins of Vijayanager...these have not survived years of conflict as well as Badami has, but their sheer size and their setting among desolate boulder-strewn hills make them just as impressive." World Food Cafe

(left) The entrance to the cave temples at Badami in Karnataka. (right) A woman worships at the giant effigy of Ganesh, the elephant-headed Hindu god, at Hampi in northern Karnataka-World Food Cafe

We looked at the religions there, Buddhism and Hinduism.
The World Food Cafe book also talks about the people there.

"In the town of Badami, we found the people friendly and hospitable -so much so that when we enthused about a lunch we ate in a cafe, we were not allowed to pay for it." World Food Cafe

Enormous Chinese-style fishing nets, used in Cochin, are seen here silhouetted against the evening sky. -World Food Cafe

"...we ate well on numerous filling dishes served on a fresh banana leaf. As soon as any one of the many ingredients on the leaf is eatern, a man appears and replaces it with more of the same; only when one folds over the leaf is there an escape from the unending meal." -World Food Cafe

And so we tried some of the recipes presented in the book. We had Chana Masala over rice, which is chickpeas and diced potatoes in a spicy sauce; Coconut Cabbage, a sweet-hot side dish,  Cahumbers, a salad-type accompaniment that is characterized by including onions mixed with other vegetables and flatbread. We enjoyed all three dishes, but our favorite was the Chana Masala. I was afraid when I was making it that it would be incredibly hot as it was so pungent that it burned our eyes. The cooking, however, toned it down enough to be delightfully spicy and not too much so for even our 13-year old. We will definitely be making this dish again.

Chana Masala
modified slightly from World Food Cafe

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (homemade or canned)
2 potatoes, peeled, cooked and chopped
Handful of Cilantro leaves
Handful of Mint leaves
3 onions, chopped
12 cloves garlic
2 inch piece of ginger root
1 tea. cumin seeds
1 tea. coriander
1 tea. cinnamon
7 small dried red peppers
10 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 tea. turmeric
2 Tab. tomato paste
4 Tab. butter, margarine or oil
1 small bunch spinach, chopped
water and salt as needed

In a food processor, process cilantro, mint, onions, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, red peppers, peppercorns, bay leaves and turmeric. Add the tomato paste and butter. Add this to a pot and heat until warm. Add the chickpeas and potatoes, followed by the spinach. Cook until the spinach is wilted. Add water if needed but keep the gravy thick. Season with salt and serve.


  1. India is such a rich and varied culture (not too surprising since it's practically a continent by itself).

    1. That is why I have been enjoying this study so much. We have enjoyed looking at the different regions and how they are similar and yet different.

  2. The Chana Masala sounds tasty! I would have balked at the 7 peppers, but your note that it wasn't too spicy makes me reconsider how often I cut back on peppers...

    1. I was very surprised, too. I knew that my husband and I could handle it however hot it was because we are used to and like hot food, but I was afraid that my kids wouldn't even be able to try it. As it turned out, they could! Perhaps it was because they were dried peppers?


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