Lessons Learnt from 80Yrs

Here are some of the lessons from Blackstone’s Byron Wien in his first 80 years:

  1. Concentrate on finding a big idea that will make an impact on the people you want to influence.  The Ten Surprises, which I started doing in 1986, has been a defining product.  People all over the world are aware of it and identify me with it.  What they seem to like about it is that I put myself at risk by going on record with these events which I believe are probable and hold myself accountable at year-end.  If you want to be successful and live a long, stimulating life, keep yourself at risk intellectually all the time.
  2. Network intensely.  Luck plays a big role in life, and there is no better way to increase your luck than by knowing as many people as possible.  Nurture your network by sending articles, books and emails to people to show you’re thinking about them.  Write op-eds and thought pieces for major publications.  Organize discussion groups to bring your thoughtful friends together.
  3. When you meet someone new, treat that person as a friend.  Assume he or she is a winner and will become a positive force in your life.  Most people wait for others to prove their value.  Give them the benefit of the doubt from the start.  Occasionally you will be disappointed, but your network will broaden rapidly if you follow this path.
  4. Read all the time.  Don’t just do it because you’re curious about something, read actively.  Have a point of view before you start a book or article and see if what you think is confirmed or refuted by the author.  If you do that, you will read faster and comprehend more.
  5. Get enough sleep.  Seven hours will do until you’re sixty, eight from sixty to seventy, nine thereafter, which might include eight hours at night and a one-hour afternoon nap.
  6. Evolve.  Try to think of your life in phases so you can avoid a burn-out.  Do the numbers crunching in the early phase of your career.  Try developing concepts later on.  Stay at risk throughout the process.
  7. Travel extensively.  Try to get everywhere before you wear out.  Attempt to meet local interesting people where you travel and keep in contact with them throughout your life.  See them when you return to a place.
  8. When meeting someone new, try to find out what formative experience occurred in their lives before they were seventeen.  It is my belief that some important event in everyone’s youth has an influence on everything that occurs afterwards.
  9. On philanthropy my approach is to try to relieve pain rather than spread joy.  Music, theatre and art museums have many affluent supporters, give the best parties and can add to your social luster in a community.  They don’t need you.  Social service, hospitals and educational institutions can make the world a better place and help the disadvantaged make their way toward the American dream.
  10. Younger people are naturally insecure and tend to overplay their accomplishments.  Most people don’t become comfortable with who they are until they’re in their 40’s.  By that time they can underplay their achievements and become a nicer, more likeable person.  Try to get to that point as soon as you can.
  11. Take the time to give those who work for you a pat on the back when they do good work.  Most people are so focused on the next challenge that they fail to thank the people who support them.  It is important to do this.  It motivates and inspires people and encourages them to perform at a higher level.
  12. When someone extends a kindness to you write them a handwritten note, not    an e-mail.  Handwritten notes make an impact and are not quickly forgotten.
  13. At the beginning of every year think of ways you can do your job better than you have ever done it before.  Write them down and look at what you have set out for yourself when the year is over.
  14. The hard way is always the right way.  Never take shortcuts, except when driving home from the Hamptons.  Short-cuts can be construed as sloppiness, a career killer.
  15. Don’t try to be better than your competitors, try to be different.  There is always going to be someone smarter than you, but there may not be someone who is more imaginative.
  16. When seeking a career as you come out of school or making a job change, always take the job that looks like it will be the most enjoyable.  If it pays the most, you’re lucky.  If it doesn’t, take it anyway, I took a severe pay cut to take each of the two best jobs I’ve ever had, and they both turned out to be exceptionally rewarding financially.
  17. There is a perfect job out there for everyone.  Most people never find it.  Keep looking.  The goal of life is to be a happy person and the right job is essential to that.
  18. When your children are grown or if you have no children, always find someone younger to mentor.  It is very satisfying to help someone steer through life’s obstacles, and you’ll be surprised at how much you will learn in the process.
  19. Every year try doing something you have never done before that is totally out of your comfort zone.  It could be running a marathon, attending a conference that interests you on an off-beat subject that will be populated by people very different from your usual circle of associates and friends or traveling to an obscure destination alone.  This will add to the essential process of self-discovery.
  20. Never retire.  If you work forever, you can live forever.  I know there is an abundance of biological evidence against this theory, but I’m going with it anyway.


DevOps Enterprise Summit Las Vegas 2018: Conference Review

Originally written for and posted at blogs@liatrio

DevOps Enterprise Summit Las Vegas 2018 took place in Las Vegas from October 22-24, and @teamliatrio had a great time bringing our largest number of consultants ever. The week was super productive and fun, especially since we coupled the conference with a consulting team offsite meeting. The move of the conference to Las Vegas originally had us a bit skeptical. However, the strength of the community and the quality of the speakers quickly won us over, furthering our belief that DevOps practitioners and evangelists are cut from the same cloth and are passionate about doing DevOps right.

It’s only fair to give Gene Kim (@realgenekim) and the DevOps Enterprise Summit Las Vegas 2018 programming committee kudos for hosting such a wonderful conference and offering a means for the community to grow. The speakers and the material presented were top notch. And even though we may at times disagree on the “how” of delivering DevOps, the why is becoming more and more codified — which is only right for the enterprises that need our help.

Highlights from DevOps Enterprise Summit Las Vegas 2018

As the Liatrio team takes a moment to look back at the week, we want to share some of our overall thoughts and a few fun pictures of our team at the conference:

  • We had the opportunity to meet new teams, organizations, and experts while catching up with some of our favorite specialists from all over the world. We heard it loud and clear that teams and organizations that have adopted DevOps believe they are doing good work and delivering better results!
  • The format of the conference is evolving. Each year, networking gets easier and easier, and attendee interaction with the speakers is valuable and fun! Some key messages we took from the talks —
    • DevOps work and a DevOps way of working are two different things. Since it’s still early in their maturity, the scale and size of changes and impacts seen across the industry are very small.
    • DevOps maturity models being used and propagated are not helping. Avoid them!
    • Security-focused discussions are often labeled as DevSecOps. However, DevSecOps is really just security work that needs to get done!
    • Talking about containers and doing containers right are two different things!
  • A handful of companies have implemented Dojos as a practice for teaching and immersing teams in new ways of working and the use of tools to improve quality and speed to market. Dojos are the wave of the future, though many companies are just starting to use them. It might still be too early to gather emerging trends.  
  • Gamification of metrics is the new thing! This is a good evolutionary development! Metrics talk is becoming stale, and gamification of metrics could make metrics more real and more fun!
  • Two new themes at DOES 2018 included Servant Leadership and Burnout. These topics reveal the softer side of IT through vulnerability and openness to talk about tough subjects. Servant leadership allows leaders to take on a new role of empowering and enabling their teams.

DOES 2019 Recommendations

  • As attendees for the past 4+ years, we have seen the depth and breadth of topics and talks continue to evolve. That said, the dirty details and misalignment in the enterprises are still not discussed openly, and there still seems to be a selection bias toward “success” stories. How about a few more real-world, down-to-earth talks such as @damonedwards talk? In his profound talk, he reinforced the reality that DevOps transformations are hard.
  • DevOps is still fairly young in terms of practices, and this community can help foster what the future can become. We would like to see more talks on what DevOps practices and ways of working could look like in the future.
  • There are definite “no-no’s,” bad practices, imperfect tools, and incorrect philosophies that exist in our industry. Just as we saw more vulnerability in the 2018 talks, we’d like to see the conference push the envelope further and expose the falsities that exist in the industry today. (More on this in future posts.)

We Had an Amazing Time at DevOps Enterprise Summit Las Vegas 2018!

Our entire team had a ton of fun at DevOps Enterprise Summit Las Vegas 2018!

On a final note, our proudest moment at the conference was when Alice Raia from Kaiser Permanente, one of our large client leaders, spoke about the company’s DevOps Transformation Journey over the last 3 years. Here’s Alice Raia from KP on KP.ORG’s DevOps Transformation.

DevOps Enterprise Summit Las Vegas 2018 Team Photos

Feedback @ravi_kalaga

Hidden realities that create Enterprise Delivery problems

Originally written for and posted at blogs@liatrio

Enterprises look like very busy places. There is a lot of activity – massive programs and projects, long off-sites, strategy sessions, big investment portfolios, a whole lot of people, and a whole lot of action. But is work really getting done? If so, is it getting done the right way and with the right direction and momentum with a flow of ideas from implementation to delivery to customer satisfaction? And is there a culture of continuous learning, along with fast feedback and the optimization and use of that feedback?

The answer is almost always NO.

One of the biggest things that leads to enterprise delivery problems is the inability to see work flowing from ideation to customers across an organization’s various teams/functional units. If enterprises were manufacturing plants, then we could witness the transformation from raw materials to finished goods, along with all of the roles, responsibilities, touch points, milestones, and roadblocks along the way. Unfortunately, however, many of these key details are hidden – or at least difficult to identify – in technology organizations, especially large enterprises. This lack of visibility is chronic and is present at all levels – people, process, and technology.

Hidden Ways of Working

The hidden ways of working I’m talking about include how hiring decisions are made, why some teams are overstaffed or understaffed, why some underperforming teams continue to receive patronage, and why some strong performers are maligned even after doing good work. Understanding these hidden details and pinpointing their root causes is one of the first things we do when we start working with an organization. Without this information, it’s nearly impossible to capture the current reality and develop and implement a meaningful, forward-thinking strategy that will bring long-term value to the entire enterprise.

An enterprise’s hidden ways of working point to a much larger problem that permeates our industry – overestimating the level of performance or value of a certain team, functional unit, technology selection, project, etc. Enterprise delivery problems result when enterprises overvalue the contribution of this individual or that supposedly “successful initiative” or “successful team.” This tendency is usually the result of not looking under the hood to identify the true cost of projects and programs, including waste accrued through delays and rework; quality of people in a team (those who do and do not add value); the true quality of code; automation that solves problems vs. obstructs flow, etc. Discovering these kinds of details is an art, and because there is little incentive to do the hard work, it’s easier to take the talking points at face value and a lot of issues remain hidden.

For example, if we were to ask the leading contributors of 95% of the IT teams we work with what performance issues they see, the top three issues almost always are: “Business does not know requirements,” “test data is bad or does not exist,” and “our environment doesn’t work.”Does that sound familiar? Next time you hear these kinds of statements, probe a bit deeper instead of taking them for granted, and you may notice how no one can articulate what’s really going on or provide any additional details. The details and the quantification of those details are so hidden that these kinds of statements just become accepted as fact without problem.

So what causes the work in enterprises to be hidden? Let’s dig in to some enterprise delivery problems.

Competing Solutions

One of the largest (time and money) enterprise delivery problems involves senior leaders who have their own agendas and who attempt to solve the same problems in fundamentally conflicting or divergent ways without sufficient dialogue or collaboration. For example, one team may be building an internal cloud platform with a large vendor that gives them some features of a cloud platform but mirrors the current datacenter solutions (and its problems). Another team may actively try to push the envelope to build some services on a public cloud without much regard to operationalizing it. And in this process, another group might invest millions of dollars in a system that cannot ever be ported to a public or private cloud platform!

This kind of scenario happens all the time, even when there are massive yearly planning meetings and documented project rationalizations. This kind of scenario happens because the intent of the projects is so generic that unless one digs in it’s hard to really understand. And at the senior leadership level, few people have the time to do the digging. (An argument could be made that this scenario is really a clever ploy by senior enterprise leadership to drive competition between teams to see who achieves a particular goal faster. While that’s possible in some instances, I believe teams get away with it because their work is so invisible!)


Outsourcing is a touchy subject in enterprise IT, but it’s one we can’t ignore. Outsourcing and overuse of contracting firms are prevalent across enterprises, and the resulting enterprise delivery problems are often extensive.

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with enterprise use of contracting firms, at least on the surface. After all, these firms are in the business of providing services that enterprises need. That said, problems often arise in one or more of three areas: (1) lack of quality in contracting resources (in comparison with enterprise FTEs), (2) enterprise leaders’ unwillingness to let contracting firms deliver value without excessive oversight, and (3) the never-ending cycle of problem firms being hired to solve the quality or speed issues that they themselves created.

Local Optimization

One of the things that hurts enterprises the most is local optimization of teams over the greater benefits derived from enterprise-wide process and productivity optimization. Some teams and leaders look to make the cost/barriers of entry of work into their teams so high that the purpose of the team is negated. These teams and leaders damage the productivity of the whole enterprise. When teams tend to focus more on enforcement vs. enablement, it’s the enterprise that loses its ability to operate effectively. (Unfortunately, the optics of “my team is doing well” often trumps that of “the entire organization/enterprise is doing well.”)

Not surprisingly, uncovering local optimization issues is extremely difficult, as local optimization “successes” are often veiled in jargon that tends to appeal to senior management (think terms like “full automation,” “metrics,” “dashboards,” and “ROI”).

Shortage of Leaders Who Can Uplift Skills

Enterprise delivery problems result when teams lack leaders who have people skills and who excel at skills growth and skills management. The reason’s simple: Few folks with the actual skills to do the work raise to the top. Instead, team leaders are often project and program managers who focus exclusively on managing people and delegating work without fully understanding the work being done. As a result, the quality of work suffers, leading to the death spiral of competing solutions, outsourcing, and local optimization.

In many corporate cultures, skills management and uplift are seen as performance improvement activities – tasks involving one or more people not doing a good job. The thing is, all skills require practice and constant improvement and re-education. Enterprises often ask us how they can hire DevOps experts or great DevOps leaders. From what we have seen, the answer is clear: Enterprises that want better tech leads, better automation engineers, and more highly skilled technical managers and leaders must first get better at delivery by hiring people with strong technical and communication skills and focusing on continuous learning and improvement.

Eliminate Enterprise Delivery Problems and Become an Efficient Delivery Organization

While the list above is by no means exhaustive, it highlights important (and extremely complex) issues that we often find hidden in enterprises. Interestingly enough, many organizations think their issues are unique. The truth is that, at a macro level, the same types of issues cause almost all enterprise delivery problems. The real challenge involves getting to the root of these issues and creating a roadmap to resolving them.

In upcoming posts, we’ll talk in greater depth about how to identify hidden institutional knowledge and overcome organizational obstacles in order to accelerate innovation and enterprise transformation.

Feedback @ravi_kalaga

DevOps Enterprise Summit 2018 Planning

Vegas Here We Come!

Originally written for and posted at blogs@liatrio

The DevOps Enterprise Summit (DOES) 2018 is about 5 days away. We at Liatrio have been doing a lot of DevOps Enterprise Summit 2018 planning, and we’re getting ready to show up in full force with our consultants who lead our clients on their DevOps Transformation journeys. Members of our team have attended every U.S.-based DOES, this year and 10 members of our team are going!

This year, DOES has moved from San Francisco to Las Vegas. To be honest, we’re not thrilled about this move, as Vegas conferences tend to attract a lot of people looking for a Vegas trip on the company dime. Vegas conferences also tend to draw people who attend fewer sessions and worry more about the nightlife than the daytime networking and education. These are the kinds of things that can take away from the purity of the DevOps movement. That said, DOES is the premier conference in our space and, as always, we’re looking forward to getting the most out of it.

You can read more about DevOps Enterprise Summit 2018 planning in this interview with Liatrio’s Chris Blackburn and Ravi Kalaga. We’ve also included some highlights for you to consider below.

DevOps Enterprise Summit 2018 Planning and Highlights

At DOES 2018, speakers from diverse industries will discuss how they are building DevOps and continuous delivery into their organizations. Attendees will include more than 2,000 technology and business leaders from more than 500 organizations from around the world.

As part of our DevOps Enterprise Summit 2018 planning, the Liatrio team is focusing on the following areas and talks:

  • DevOps Dojo: The theme around Dojo has been huge this year. The DevOps Dojo was originally brought to light by Ross Clanton and Heather Mickman at Target and has since been integrated into many enterprise transformations. At Liatrio, our Dojo plays a huge part in the Delivery Acceleration journey for our customers. We are excited to hear Delta Airlines, Capital One, and DXC Technology talk about their own Dojo experiences.
  • SRE: Site Reliability Engineering as a role has taken off in the last year. Our concern is that enterprises are rebranding existing roles and assuming this rebrand is going to solve existing problems. Ernest Mueller talks about some of these concerns. At DOES, we are excited to hear what Google, AdvancedMD, and others have to say on the subject.
  • Security: Security is one of the biggest struggles when rolling out automation and DevOps practices for our customers. I’m not just talking about AppSec security but about such things as allowing individual engineers to run Docker on their laptops and connect to sites like Github and StackOverflow. One of the biggest problems we have seen (and one of the most frustrating) is the use of persistent chat systems like Slack. We look forward to discussing ideas and strategies with enterprises on the best ways to address these challenges.
  • Agile at Scale: We have been less than impressed with what we have experienced with enterprises that believe they’ve implemented “successful Agile transformations,” especially SAFe and other scaled approaches. Many enterprise leaders are frustrated because they are not getting the technical uplift, pipelines, and other benefits they expected from their Agile investments. We find that teams may understand ceremonies and terminology but are not equipped to deliver value to customers any faster. We are interested in seeing what industry experts have to say on scaling Agile and DevOps across large enterprises.
  • Tying It All Together at Scale: Likely the biggest conversation topic for us is talking with customers that have truly pulled off a DevOps transformation at scale. We find that most companies have made improvements in pockets, but that does not necessarily equate to a transformation. Liatrio has been refining our own internal framework based on numerous customer engagements. This framework is more of an evolution than a transformation. (Come find us at DOES to talk more about our Ignite Enterprise Delivery Acceleration Framework.)

DevOps Enterprise Summit 2018 Planning and Strategies

With 10 members of our team attending DOES this year, we have some DOES 2018 strategies to share to help your team make the most of DOES:

  • Plan out your schedule – there are a ton of talks, and it’s important to map out a schedule of the talks and people you want to hear.
  • Divide and conquer – Split up the talks if you’re attending with other members of your team.
  • Be prepared to interact, not only with the speakers but also with other attendees.
  • Remember the “Law of Two Feet” – if a talk is not benefiting you, head directly to another one. Make the most of your time.
  • Introduce yourself on the conference Slack.
  • Attend the lean coffee or fireside chats sessions. These sessions are facilitated by the DOES speakers and provide an opportunity for in-depth discussions. Come to the sessions with topics in hand and be ready to engage. The Lean Coffee sessions will be held on Monday and Tuesday at 3:15, while the Fireside Chat will be held on Wednesday at 10:10AM.

Liatrio DOES Game Plan

Liatrio is invested in its people, its clients, and in the continual education and discussions that foster smart growth and change in enterprise organizations. This year, we are taking the opportunity at DOES to also hold our consulting practice offsite meeting, where we’ll plan our 2019 strategy and game plan. We are looking forward to strengthening our alignment as a team as we continue to expand and grow our practice across many clients.

Members of our team are available and welcome the opportunity to meet up on the following days:

  • Monday – lunch and evening
  • Tuesday – lunch and evening
  • Wednesday – lunch

Keep an eye on the Liatrio Twitter (@Liatrio) for updates about what we are up to. Please reach out!

At DOES, we’re looking forward to taking advantage of opportunities to share thought leadership and learn from our peers. We’re equally excited about connecting with our fellow DOES attendees who are interested in talking about enterprise transformation.

We hope you found these DevOps Enterprise Summit 2018 planning tips helpful, and we hope to see you at DOES!

Feedback @ravi_kalaga

Maate Malayadwaja – Carnatic Classical

One of the most iconic & classic rendition of this raaga/song. 

Mathe Malaya dhwaja pandya samjathe mathanga vadana guha
(mate – 5times)
Sathodari sankari Chamundeswari Chandrakaladhari Thaye Gowri
(mAtE – 5times)
da da ni da da ni da da ni da da ni pa ma
da da ni ri sa ni sa da ni sa da pa pa ma
da da ni ga ri ni ri sa ni da pa ni da ma
da da ma ga ma pa ma pa da da ni ni da ma
da da ri sa ni da ni da da ma da ni ma ni
da da sa sa pa da ni da da ma ga ri sa ni
da da pa da da ni da da sa da ni da
ma ga ri sa ni da ni sa ni ni da da pa ma

(repeat at speed)

thAmthAm thakajoNu dadanida dimithika | tamtam kukuthari thajaNutha dapamama ||
dAdA nigarini risadhimi tharikita | jamjam thakitatha kukuthari Namthari ||
dAthathin ginathari jEkumada nithaka | Namthasa sathimitha thomthadi mithakita ||
dAdapa dAdatha rEkusa dArijam | magari sanidA nisanini dadapama ||
(repeat at speed)
Data sakala kala nipuna chathura
Data vividha matha samaya samarasa
Data sulabha hrudaya madhura vachana
Data sarasa ruchira tara swaralaya
Geetha sukada nija bhava rasikavara dhata
Mahisha suranada nalmadi srikrishna rajendra nadaya
Sada pore mahitha harikesa manohare sadaya
(repeat at speed)
(mate – repeat 1time)
Shyame sakala bhuvana sarva bhoume sasi mandala madhyaga (repeat 5times)

MA,MA, pani dada papa magamapa MA,MA, nida MAsani dapadada

Shyame sakala bhuvana sarva bhoume sasi mandala madhyaga
nidanida dapapama PAPA nidapama gamaPA nidaMA sanidapa MAnida

Shyame sakala bhuvana sarva bhoume sasi mandala madhyaga
saSAsa nidanisa niDApa magamapa maMAma samagama pasanida NI (repeat 2times)
nidani padani mapadani gamapadani samagama padani samagari sasanida pada

Shyame sakala bhuvana sarva bhoume sasi mandala madhyaga

gani magamadani sama nigama sanima nidaga nigari dada rini sadani pada samagama nida nidamaga


composed by Harikesavanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar


O Mother! You are the daughter of the Pandya king Malayadhwaja,
You are the lady with the face glowing green.
O Mother! You have the beauty of the moon.
You have the great expertise in all the arts,
You allow equal rights to all the creeds,
You are soft and sweet spoken,
You express affection in music and rhythm,
You inspire us with your beautiful and expressive song,
You have gained fame for killing the demon, Mahishasura,
You protect and care for Sri Krishna Rajendra, the Maharaja of Mysore,
Even pray to Siva and the mother Parvati.
Mother! You glow with the blue colour,
You care for the whole world,
You glow like a full moon.

“Maate Malayadhwaja” is a prayer to the Hindu goddess Madurai Meenakshy Devi.



Paneer Jalfrazi

Paneer Jalfrezi is an easy & tasty paneer dish that goes great with rumali roti & biryani. This will not take more than 20mins which for Indian cooking is fast food!

To keep it simple, follow the steps below:

  1. Take a non-stick pan, heat it, add a spoon full of butter and let it melt.
  2. Take a packet of Paneer, wash it and cut them into 1×1 inch cubes.
  3. Now add the paneer to the butter and let the paneer fry till they turn brown. Not fried but to make them firm.
  4. Now cut the following vegetables as big chunks and keep them aside – 1 onion, 1 bell pepper & 2 tomatoes. Keeping them big is key.
  5. Now take a deep/big pan and dry roast – 5 peppercorns, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, coriander seeds and 4-5 red chillies. Keep them aside to cool. After they cool, grind them for 10secs and take out half of the mixture. Finely grind the remaining mixture.
  6. Now in the same dish, add another spoon of butter and when it melts, add the vegetables and stir fry them rapidly. Now add the fine mixture to make sure it mixes with the vegetables. Add some salt to make sure it cooks faster.
  7. Now add the panner and on high flame, keep stir frying. You don’t need a lot of time here; you need the garnish to mix well.
  8. Turn off the flame and add the corse mixture on top, add some mint leaves and leave the curry covered for a few minutes before serving.

One difference between how I make this and what is traditionally made is the addition of tomato sauce. I don’t like it as it get too tangy and the paneer gets a tomato flavor & I like to retain the paneer flavor.

Mirchi ka Salan

Mirchi ka Salan is one of those dishes that you have to spend a ton of time making it and then it fades away as a side dish. But a biryani, especially a Hyderabadi biryani, without a really good salan is just a dinner incomplete.

Salan, either Mirchi or any other time needs time and patience. My order of making biryani dinner is to make the biryani first and set it up for 4hrs of slow cook & then start the salan. This will need about 2hrs.

To keep it simple, follow the steps below:

  1. Take a non-stick pan and heat it till its hot. Put the flame on a simmer and add a small cup of groundnuts. Roast them for 2mins till they become slightly brown and their skin starts coming off. Then add, using the same small cup as before, sesame seeds. Roast these for a minute. Now turn off the flame and add a small cup of grated coconut. Mix well and leave it on the pan for another 2-3 minutes. Now put them in a blender and let them cool.
  2. In the same non-stick pan, add a lot of oil. Heat the oil well and add a small spoonful of mustard seeds. When mustard seeds splutter add cumin seeds, red chillies, methi seeds. Let all of these cook for a bit.
  3.  Cut 1 big onion into small rings and add it to the mixture and let the onions sauté for a while. Onions don’t need to be brown but they need to get soggy. Now add salt, curry leaves and let the curry leave get soft.
  4. Now add a spoonful of ginger garlic paste cook till raw flavor is gone. Now add turmeric, red chilly powder, cumin powder, coriander powder. Mix all of this well.
  5. Now grind the groundnut, sesame & grated coconut mixture into a fine paste by adding water and add it to the frying ingredients. Add water till the mixture becomes really thin and has no lumps.
  6. Now comes the most important part. Put this on a slow flame, cover with a lid and leave it without touch for 60mins. No short cuts here, just leave it as it is. After 60mins and take a look. If you do not see oil separated out fully, leave it on for another 30mins. The whole taste rests on this step.
  7. Heat some oil in a different pan, slice big mirchi’s vertically; remove the seeds and fry them in the oil. The mirchi need not get deep fried but needs to be fried enough to hold shape.
  8. Slice mint and coriander leaves and add it to the simmering mixture. Now add 3-4 spoons of yogurt to this and mix well. At this point, the mixture may get thick. Add some water if needed. At this time, taste a little to check salt, spiciness. Add what is needed.
  9. Heat some oil, put a lemon sized serving of tamarind and squeeze the juice out.
  10. Add the tamarind juice to the simmering mixture and taste again.
  11. Now add the fried mirchi to the mixture, cover the lid and simmer for 10mins. This will get the mirchi to soak in the flavors.
  12. Serve along with biryani.

Sambar – Andhra Home Style

Sambar in our house is always made the same way. Non-complicated; non restaurant style but something that is light and good with rice/idly & dosa.

To keep it simple, follow the following steps:

  1. Take a palm full or toor dal, add water & pressure cook the dal. Make sure it is done well.
  2. Cut vegetables first. The technique of Sambar is that there should be more water and it should not be like a gravy. For this, use very few vegetables so that its wet. Cut 2 okra, 1 onion, 1 tomato, 1 brinjal & 1/5th of bottle gourd. If you have large green chillies, cut one. Cut all vegetables into huge pieces – not small.
  3. Heat some water in a small cup; take a lemon sized portion of tamarind; wash it and leave it in the hot water.
  4. Take a huge vessel and pour 4-5 tbs of oil. You will need a little more oil in this step. Heat the oil and when its hot add in the following order – Urad Dal, Channa Dal, Cumin & Mustard seeds. Let these turn golden brown. Lower the flame and now add dhaniya (1tbsp) and just 4 pepper corns. After they cook for a minute, add 4 red chillies and shut down the flame. Remove this onto a plate & let this cool. Leave excess oil in this vessel.
  5. In the same vessel, with the same excess oil, put in all of the vegetables, a few curry leaves and fry them. Fry for a while to make them mushy.
  6. After 10mins, squeeze the tamarind juice & without any pulp, pour the tamarind juice into the vegetables. Mix well.
  7. Now add 2 big glasses of water & let it come to boil.
  8. Now add the cooked dal and let it simmer for 10-15mins till everything mixes in well.
  9. Add salt as desired and add 1 tbsp of haldi powder.
  10. Lower the flame & when you are done simmering the mixture and 5mins before you are done; grind the tadka mixture very fine; add it to the vessel.
  11. After 5mins, remove the Sambar.