Saturday, February 10, 2018

Recipe of the month: Greek Pearl Couscous Salad

If you have been following my culinary exploits on Facebook or Instagram since the start of this year, chances are that you will be aware that I am heavily into salads at the moment. Believe me, no one is more surprised than me! ๐Ÿ˜›  From a self-confessed salad non-enthusiast to someone who now looks forward to putting together new and interesting salads every week, I've been making considerable strides ๐Ÿ˜Ž

See, the deal with me is, on principle, I refuse to eat food that is bland and boring. So if you hand me a nondescript 'garden salad', the only reaction you will get out of me is an eye roll. A bowlful of leaves and raw veggies just doesn't cut it for me. If I eat a salad in place of a main meal, it has to be wholesome, flavourful and most importantly, keep me satiated. If eating a measly salad for lunch gets me feeling hungry again within the next 2 hours and forces me to mindlessly binge on anything I lay my eyes on, then I don't really see the point. For me a salad has to have a good balance of textures and flavours. It ought to consist of some kind of whole grain, a protein, greens, vegetables, pulses, either fresh or dried fruit, nuts, herbs, cheese and an absolute killer salad dressing. Most run-of-the-mill salads I have come across, don't check all the boxes and hence my abiding disdain for them. The only time I remember developing an affinity to salads was on a holiday to Vietnam several years ago. I was completely blown away by the unique variety that was on offer at every restaurant we went to. I was inspired by the experience but not sufficiently enough to get off my backside and do something about it. 

You know, I am all for eating healthy food but I am utterly incapable of doing so all the time. You got to live a little right? ๐Ÿ˜†  But that being said, as I've been getting older (and wiser!), I realize that I can't get away with eating absolutely everything I want to the way I used to in my 20s. Not to mention, I'm still carrying an unmentionable amount of holiday weight that I need to shed at any cost! No but on a serious note, I obviously understand the importance of eating consciously and setting a good example for my kids.

It is a known fact that salad is firmly in fashion right now. Although I had been aware of the salad culture evolving over the last decade and the emerging trend of buddha bowls, I never pretended to understand it thus far. So for this year's new year resolution, I decided to put an end to my salad bigotry once in for all. 

It has turned out to be much easier than I expected. I've been doing good so far. I really have. Every Thursday I assemble a colorful and nutritious buddha bowl for me and the husband to take to work and every Friday I pack an interesting and wholesome salad. What is more shocking to me than myself eating salad for lunch is my husband doing it as well ๐Ÿ˜‚

I won't lie to you - I put in a lot of effort into some of these healthy eating endeavors but I can honestly say that it is totally worth it. Modesty aside, whatever I've made so far has tasted pretty great and I haven't been snacking like how I thought I would. Along with regular exercise five times a week, the pounds have been slowly and steadily coming off too. I still have a long way to go in that area but I am determined to do it this time!

Okay coming back to this post, this was a salad I made recently. I had never tried pearl couscous so I was eager to try it out. The rest of the salad components are your usual salad favourites - cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, fresh mint, bell peppers, red onion, garlic, chickpeas and feta cheese. The dressing is an emulsion of apple cider vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, honey and seasonings. I ended up falling in love with the chewy buttery flavour of the pearl couscous and the salad came together so well that I decided I must blog this recipe before I forget how I made it. If not for anyone else's convenience but my own! ๐Ÿ˜

But then again, salads carry the amazing advantage of ad-lib cooking. Stock up on grains like quinoa, brown rice, couscous, farro, barley, millets and bulgur wheat. Make canned beans, seeds, dried fruit and nuts your kitchen staples. Get a weekly supply of fresh vegetables, herbs and fruit. Have on hand extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and dijon mustard (all of which will last you a while) and Voila! You can create some really scrumptious salads without the aid of any recipe.

But to make things a little easy, I'm sharing the recipe for this salad with you. Remember to refer the notes for substitutions and tips. Here is to embracing salads you guys! I hope to bring you many more!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Restaurant Review: The London Curry House, Bangalore

I'm kickstarting this year's blogging journey with a post that is dedicated to the homeland. I just got back from a marvellous holiday to India and I am still sensing that deep-rooted melancholic tug that irrevocably binds me to everything and everyone back home. The vibrant colors at every nook and corner, the benevolent climate of the hometown, the comfort of home, the food lovingly prepared by mum and MIL, the familiar roads, the warmth in the smiles of the people I've grown up around and seeing the number of people who willingly and gladly entertain my children for hours on end is what I miss most of all. Of course, there are two sides to every coin and there are aspects of the homeland that I don't miss at all but keeping in mind the sentiment behind this post, I'm not going there okay? ๐Ÿ˜›

Since my last visit, I've been on a quest to explore the dining scene in Bangalore. Almost every year it so happens that our annual visits to the city coincide with a cascade of family events and social visits that  don't leave us with that much quality time to spend at my in-laws home and thus we shy away from any opportunity to checkout the city (and with the horrendous traffic, it becomes the easier choice to stay home!). Being a Mysore girl, I've not been to that many restaurants in Bangalore so the foodie in me thought it was high time I started. I am aware that it is a daunting challenge given how many food establishments there are in the bustling metropolitan and the rapid pace at which the foodscape is evolving. The classic restaurants, the chic eating spots, the gastro pubs, the fine dining establishments, the trendy urban cafes and the street food - I want in on all the grub the city has to offer! I decided to start slow and first cover the areas closer to home. Thus far, I've found a few places I like already - Samarkand, Sattvam, The Higher Taste, Toscano and The London Curry House to name a few.

The LCH was suggested to me by a family member. Located at the heart of West Bangalore, this vegetarian restaurant serves modern Indian cuisine with a twist. I was quite surprised to know that it is a vegetarian restaurant because judging by the name, I assumed otherwise.

The interior is earthy and rustic with pops of color to make the space appear more interesting. The artwork on the walls and show pieces depict iconic London structures such as the London telephone booth, double decker bus, Big Ben, London Eye and more. I liked the lamp posts and greenery that have been incorporated into the decor.

The ambience at the LCH is casual and relaxed.

We arrived at the restaurant quite early on a weekday afternoon and so there were only 2-3 tables occupied. It gave me a great opportunity to take some pics. Fast forward to an hour later, as we were getting ready to leave, the restaurant was bursting at the seams! Based on my observation, I would advise you to make a reservation especially it you are planning to head down over the weekend.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Best 10 Memories of 2017

Well folks, are you gearing up to usher in the New Year 2018? You may already be holidaying at popular destinations or getting ready to meet near and dear ones, pop the champagne, enjoy a hearty feast or make party-fueled New Year Resolutions (only to break them the very next day! ๐Ÿ˜). Most of us have a set routine for welcoming the new year. I certainly do and right now I am at my in-laws house in Bangalore, getting ready for a family get-together this evening. I just got done baking a chocolate cake which looks like it could end up being a disaster. Oh well! ๐Ÿ˜›

The New Year stands before us like a blank book. It brings with it the hope for a better tomorrow and also a chance to do better than today.  It is a golden opportunity to reinvent our lives and ourselves. I have mulled over the year gone by and I do have certain goals and aspirations for the new year which I plan to fulfill with utmost sincerity. I would like to start this year on the right foot by exercising more, drinking more water, consuming more portions fruit, making smarter food choices, reading more books and (hopefully!) travelling more. I also hope to come up with more fun mother-daughter activities to do with my girls. Only time will tell how I will fare on achieving them but I will be optimistic for now ๐Ÿ˜Š If you have set goals for yourself, I wish you good luck!

As this year comes to a close, it is a good time to reflect on all the positives and negatives. Maybe you were one of the lucky ones that had a great year but if you had a bad one, then look at it as an opportunity to wipe the proverbial slate clean and start afresh. My prayers for everyone in 2018 is to be able to focus on health and wellness, enjoy quality family time, fulfill career goals, acquire financial stability and achieve personal happiness. And if you can get some adventure and exciting opportunities thrown into the mix, there would be nothing like it!

As we bid adieu to 2017, whatever you feel for your colleagues, friends, family or other near and dear ones – love, admiration, gratitude or respect, let them know so you could put a smile on their face and feel good about it while you are at it!

So, coming back to the crux of this post, here are my top 10 memories of 2017,

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas Special: Marie Biscuit Chocolate Log

I'm just in time for the holidays! I really wanted to do one last recipe post this year and so here it is ๐Ÿ˜Š

I'm in India thoroughly enjoying the holidays and hence I was not able to devote a lot of time to this blog post. I chose this recipe because it is from a blog I trust and I've made it before in Singapore. I thought it turned out quite nice with minimum effort and it is one of those recipes that you must have in case of a dessert emergency (which is a real thing by the way!). 

This recipe is as easy as it gets you guys. You have a handful of basic ingredients, no cooking involved and with only a few hours of setting time in the fridge, you have a simple and yummy dessert ready to serve. Kids will like it for sure (mine do!) but since this dessert is eggless and not very sweet, I am assuming it will appeal to everyone. 

I realized that the cocoa powder I use in Singapore is far superior than the one I used in India for this blog post and hence the color and taste of the dessert was much better in my previous executions. Try to get your hands on good brand of unsweetened cocoa powder and you will are good to go. 

That's all from me! Wish you all a Merry Christmas ๐ŸŽ„๐ŸŽ…  Happy feasting!