Welcome message

Welcome to my blog. I created this blog with the intention of sharing my views on travel, food, books & movies which are among my top interests. From time to time it may include some ramblings as well!

Please contact me if you are interested in submitting guest posts. Thank you for stopping by!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Recipe of the month: Masala Vada

Wishing all my readers a very happy Krishna Janmashtami 2014!

So, my parents were in town last month for a fleeting visit and I was preoccupied with them the whole time. As might be expected, I haven't had much time to devote to my blog. I didn't take time off work during their visit so every minute after I got back home in the evenings were extremely precious. I did take a day off and there was a public holiday for Eid and of course the weekends but you know how it is with time...it just flies when you are having a good time

As with most mothers, my mom too fusses over what to cook for her kids when they are around. I have a list of favourite dishes that I always ask her to cook for me whether I'm back home in India or she is here in Singapore. This time was no different and I was rattling off different items that I wanted her to prepare each day of the week. Among those dishes, this Masala Vada was one of them. This recipe is actually from one of my best friends mom. Once, a long long time ago, when I had been to her house (which is only two streets away from my home in Mysore), her mom had made these vadas which I really took a liking to. I immediately asked my friend for the recipe and my mom has been making them for me ever since. 

There is something about deep-fried snacks that leaves you yearning for more. These vadas have great flavour which come from the onions, ginger, garlic, chillies and medley of fresh herbs. I just love the herb dill (sabsige soppu in kannada) so these vadas hold extra appeal for me. These vadas are pretty easy to make too. While the chana dal is soaking, you can get all the other prep work done. Grinding the dal without water can be a little cumbersome but if you have a good blender/grinder, it can be a cinch. I'm sorry that I don't have the step-by-step photos for this recipe but I may add them at a later time.

Try this recipe and it may just become your new favourite snack! 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Staycation at Hotel Fort Canning, Singapore

What do you do when you are desperate for a getaway but owing to some reason or the other, your plans don't materialize? Well, you do the next best thing....you plan a staycation! A staycation, simply put, is a vacation in the place where you stay. It might sound a bit lame but trust me, a break is a break no matter where you go, passport or no passport. Just breaking away from the monotony of a routine is enough to get you recharged and rejuvenated. Apparently, staycations are very popular with Singaporeans and I think I'm beginning to understand why! 

For National day, we had a holiday on a Monday making it a much anticipated long weekend. Having not made any other plans, we decided on the spur of the moment on a staycation in Singapore. Since it was quite last minute, most places were already booked (including Resorts World Sentosa which would have been my first choice). For a couple who plans their vacations a great deal ahead of time and in painstaking detail, this was very unusual for us! After spending considerable time browsing Tripadvisor, we settled on Hotel Fort Canning for our sojourn. 

Hotel Fort Canning

Hotel Fort Canning is an iconic heritage hotel in Singapore nestled in the historical Fort Canning Park, a lovely and tranquil wedge of lush greenery located in the midst of the buzzing central business district. The history of this hotel dates back to the 20th century and is the result of the restoration of a former British Military Administration Building. The amazing location imparts an oasis of calm to this charming colonial style hotel. 


Monday, July 14, 2014

Baker's Corner: Cheesy Garlic Herb Whole Wheat Loaf

So I'm currently in a healthy eating phase (I go through these phases a few times a year!). For me that means eating a lot more whole grains, low-fat dairy, greens, nuts, fresh vegetables and fruits. Normally, I shun the brown stuff in favour of the white (with the exception of brown rice which I really like). I'm not a huge fan of brown bread or brown pasta but nowadays I make it a point to preferably opt for multigrain or at least whole wheat products. I really hope this fad will become more of a permanent thing! 

Bread is something that is found in my fridge 24x7, 365 days. For the past few months, I've been having breakfast at home which is unusual for me because usually I get myself a steamed vegetable pau and a portion of pink dragon fruit from the canteen at my workplace everyday. My breakfast has now become quite a standard affair comprising of a grilled cheese sandwich made with multigrain bread and low-fat organic sharp cheddar, a handful of fresh strawberries and a glass of low-fat skimmed milk. There is a local bakery near my place which makes really good multigrain bread which I really dig so I get the bread for my breakfast from there. I've resorted to eating my regular pau and fruit as a mid-day snack instead. It helps me considerably with portion control during lunch

Anyway, I have been contemplating baking a loaf of bread at home for quite sometime but I never got around to doing it. I recently saw a version of Cheesy Garlic Herb Pull-Apart Bread on Foodgawker and I was tempted to try it out. I made a few modifications to the original recipe by substituting bread flour with 100% whole wheat flour and whole milk with skimmed milk. I also modified the technique to make it more like a regular loaf rather than a pull-apart bread. My intention was to be able to slice my loaf into uniform slices so I could use it for my grilled cheese sandwich. I've provided the description for both techniques so you could follow which ever you prefer. 

Here is the recipe. Go on....bake your own loaf of bread at home. It's super fun I assure you!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Recipe of the month: Mixed Vegetable Stew

There are recipes and then there are recipes that stick with you for life. My policy has always been to feature only those recipes on my blog that I deem worthy enough for sharing. There are of course dishes on my blog that I've made only once despite being good. This could be attributed to a laborious procedure, lack of ingredients or sometimes even plain forgetfulness! I do have a select few recipes that are my go-to recipes and these are recipes that I have depended on time and again to get me through dinner parties, potlucks or even routine meals at home. As and when I come across an awesome and fool-proof recipe, I prudently add it to my treasure trove of favourite recipes. One of my dear friends gifted me a lovely recipe journal last Christmas and I have just started filling it up. I have a very stringent selection criteria for which recipes go into it because my vision is to preserve this precious journal for posterity

This mixed vegetable stew (also known as mixed vegetable kurma) is one recipe that will go into my journal for sure. This was a recipe that I had jotted down eons ago in a flimsy notepad. I have made it several times over the years and I can honestly say that it works for me every time. I make it for appam, neer dosa, rava dosa, ragi dosa, poori and even for rotis. It does involve some prep work (considering it has quite a few veggies in it) but the outcome is worth all the effort. The aromatic whole spices perfume the stew, the addition of almonds imparts a richness and the coconut milk adds that dash of sweetness. The vegetables aren't overpowered by the subtle gravy and they retain their natural flavour, remaining tender yet crisp in texture. The addition of turmeric gives that subtle yellow colour but if you don't want to infuse colour into the stew, you can skip the turmeric. 

I prepared this dish while I was in my in-laws home in Bangalore during my last visit to India this February. I had made this dish for them while they were visiting me in Singapore last year and they had liked it (I think!). A few other people for whom I have made this dish had also been asking me for the recipe so I thought I would draft a post and keep it ready. My atthe (MIL) had made neer dosa for breakfast that morning and this delicately flavoured stew made a perfect accompaniment to the dosa. I finished the cooking, photography, structuring the post and formatting within a record 2 hours. I find photographing for my blog so much easier in India. With an expansive garden and terrace, I don't find any issues with space or natural lighting like how I do in a cramped apartment setting while I am in Singapore. Oh well! 

Anyway, here is the recipe. Try it and I promise you that you will like it! I don't have the step-by-step photos for this recipe but the steps are easy to follow so you wouldn't miss it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Baker's Corner: Hasselback Potatoes

Okay spud lovers....listen up coz boy do I have a treat for you! Tired of the same old french fries, wedges, mashed potatoes or foil-baked potatoes? Fear not, for the Swedish have come up with this unique and impressive way of turning the humble spud into something quite fancy. I had seen this recipe a long time ago and not wanting to forget about it, I had pinned it onto my must-try recipe board on Pinterest. It was the way it looked that appealed to me instantly!

Hasselback potatoes are rather like sautéed potatoes on the stem: each one is cut into thin slices across and almost right through but not quite, and then roasted in buttery oil; as they cook, the potatoes fan out, like slightly fleshy crisps with their bottoms still attached. These potatoes have the crispy edges of your favorite french fries, but with middles as creamy as mashed potatoes. How cool is that? Not to mention that they have the advantage of being, essentially, wholesome baked potatoes in clever disguise. To be honest, they take slightly more time and effort than your average foil-wrapped baked potato but they come out looking so pretty that it’ll make everything worthwhile. As the potatoes bake, the slices fan out slightly for a show-stopping presentation. Serve it as a side dish at a dinner party and you will be sure to wow your guests!

You can flavour these potatoes in a number of ways. You can use garlic, chilli flakes, other spice powders like cajun or paprika, dried Italian herbs and grated cheese. You can serve them just the gorgeous way they come out of the oven or dress them up with some sour cream and chives. Whatever makeover you give them, they will be sure to taste great!

Go on then....try this way of serving potatoes and you will be glad you did

Monday, June 16, 2014

Book review: The Palace of Illusions

The Palace of Illusions is a novel by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni which tells the story of the Mahabharata from Draupadi's perspective. It is an insightful and enthralling account of the events that occurred during the end of the Dvapar Yug or Third Age of Man that she initiated which eventually lead to the terrible Kurukshetra battle. 

I've been fascinated with Hindu mythology ever since I was a child. Among my early childhood books were simplified versions of the Ramayana, Mahabharatha and tales of Krishna. Reading these books transported me into a magical world - a world completely alien to me where kings, queens, warriors, sages, reincarnation, boons and curses existed. A captivating realm where there was intermingling of gods, demons and men. The tales were rich, colorful and rife with grandeur, bravery, devotion, loyalty, righteousness, but also deceit, jealousy, humiliation and death. I would often spend hours, gazing at the beautiful illustrations, often tracing them in my colouring book, memorising complicated names of the characters and quizzing myself on them. I remember quite vividly the time I participated in a competition on the Mahabharatha in school and won a prize. It was something that I was extremely proud of. Back then, you could ask me absolutely anything about the epic and I would answer it correctly without batting an eyelid. To add to my burning thirst for the epics, I watched numerous mythological movies and weekend soaps on television. Even now, the world of mythology has a firm hold over me and I would never pass up an opportunity to revive those fading memories.