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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!



Friday, November 14, 2014

Embracing motherhood....




Double the trouble, double the fun,
Our life with twins, has just begun!

So, the title and picture says it all doesn't it?! It gives me so much joy to finally announce to the world that I am mom to two beautiful fraternal twin girls! We were graced with this double blessing on 10th Nov 2014. Our precious angels, who we have named Anvitha and Navitha arrived exactly at 36 weeks measuring 47cm and weighing in at 2.1 and 2.0 kg respectively. 

I am recovering from (what I knew would be) an arduous hospital stay and looking forward to spending time with my little ones and settling into my new role as mommy. So, if you don't hear from me in a while, you will know the reason why! Despite being on the roller coaster ride that comes with a twin pregnancy and working until well into my 8th month, I tried my best to keep my blog running these past few months. The temptation to take a break was overwhelming but I knew that a lull in posting new content would be inevitable once the babies arrived so I made up my mind to not neglect my blog (which in a lot of ways will always be my first baby )

There are a lot of people whom I'd like to express my heartfelt appreciation - the brilliant team of doctors and nurses at NUH who took such excellent care of me from start to end, my dear colleagues and boss for being so supportive and looking out for me each day that I was at work, my friends in Singapore for taking care of me during the tail-end of my first trimester while my husband was away in India, all those near and dear ones who sent me home cooked food, family and friends who graced my baby shower and lavished us with generous gifts, loved ones who visited me and the girls after the delivery and last but not least, my dearest mum for tending to my every whim and fancy during the last few weeks of my pregnancy and who continues to help me everyday. I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank all those who called/texted/e-mailed/visited me to check on how I was doing and praying for the well-being of my "peanuts" (that is what I called them from the minute I got the first glimpse of them on my first sonogram!). It is courtesy of your good wishes and blessings that the three of us made it through without a hitch despite mine being an extremely high-risk pregnancy from the start. I am eternally grateful to each and every one of you and I am touched by the genuine outpouring of love and warmth from all corners. 

I'm signing off now. I sincerely hope to make some time to blog once in a while and also give updates on how my girls are doing. So stay tuned and keep visiting!


Cheers,



Disclaimer: The images in the title picture were obtained from Google images and have been used solely for illustrative purposes. 


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Product Review: Instant Mixes from "Oota Tindi"

This is a post that I take great pride in writing. Right off the bat, let me make it plainly known that nobody requested me to write this post so I'm not going to brand it as an advertorial. This is just me voluntarily spreading the word about a group of Bangalore-based entrepreneurs who have kick-started this brand new venture called "Oota Tindi" that offers premium quality tasty processed food. 

Oota Tindi (which literally translates to Lunch-Breakfast in Kannada) strives to provide good food using ingredients that are consistently of superior quality without the addition of preservatives. Now you might be wondering how I can vouch for the authenticity of the above statement. Believe me, I can....because the culinary expert who has spearheaded this venture is none other than my maternal uncle who has over a decade of experience in the food industry. My uncle together with his daughter (my cousin) and her husband have joined forces to create products products that have been tastefully crafted to bring out the flavours and taste that your palate will fall in love with. In an era where ready-to-eat food and instant mixes are gaining widespread popularity owing to the lifestyle changes of today's generation, I think it is easy to lose track of the quality control and hygiene standards behind the manufacturing of such products. That is where Oota Tindi scores big because all the ingredients have been carefully sourced and the mixes are created and packaged under the most sanitary of conditions. 

Speaking of my uncle, I have actually mentioned him before in one of my previous post's chronicling my love for Masala Dosa and I have also acknowledged my cousin in a post that I did about Ukkarisida Akki Rotti. My uncle who has a penchant for perfection, is undoubtedly the best cook in our family and we all routinely bombard him with recipe-related queries. His proficiency in cooking is one of the reasons that people are drawn to his residence like a swarm of bees. Badam Burfi, Kaju Burfi, Dry Fruit Burfi, Mysore Pak, Basundi, Masala Dosa, Vada, Sambhar, Rava Idli, Bisibele Bath, Biriyani are some of his specialities that immediately come to mind. In the past, when he was actively engaged in the restaurant business, me and my cousins hardly used to eat at home, preferring to have all our meals at his restaurant! That is how good it was and that is how creative and talented he still continues to be in the culinary department  Once I heard that he was re-entering the food industry, I was thrilled for him and I knew that whatever he would do, he would do it with utmost honesty, sincerity and ethics. That is the reason why I readily posted a review for this venture without a second thought and without even being asked to. You can trust that the opinions in this post are completely unbiased.

Okay so without further ado, let me explain more about the products that Oota Tindi has to offer,

Oota Tindi's current two products are,
1. Rava Idli Mix (200gm and 500gm packets)
2. Uppittu Mix (200gm)

I was eagerly waiting to try out the products myself before posting this review so try I did! My mum is currently here in Singapore so before she left Bangalore, I asked her to get me one packet each of the Rava Idli Mix and the Upittu Mix. 

Rava Idli Mix (200gm packet Rs 40; 500gm packet Rs 70)



We tried the Rava Idli Mix on a weekend. Rava Idli is one of my favourite breakfast dishes so I was looking forward to it. Before I tried this mix, I used to prepare rava idlis myself from scratch and frankly, I used to find the procedure a tad cumbersome. 

The instructions on the packet was simplicity personified - begin to boil the water in the idli cooker/steamer, use a 1:1 ratio of the mix to plain yoghurt, immediately spoon the mixture onto the idli trays and steam on high for 15 min. That's IT....easy peasy! No need to add soda or eno or any of that stuff. If you are interested, you can add in some fried cashews or grated carrots or even a thin slice of tomato for garnish. We just tossed in some fried cashews. The rava idlis were super soft, spongy, pillowy and they tasted just like home-made idlis if not better. We served the idlis with coconut chutney, potato masala and chutney pudi. We were absolutely delighted with the result! My sister tried it immediately after I did and she was raving about it too. Ours was the 500gm packet which I would say easily serves 5-6 people.

My verdict: Simply perfect! 


Uppittu Mix (200gm packet Rs 25)



We tried the uppittu mix on another weekend. My hubby loves uppittu and it features as a staple on our weekend breakfast menu. As with the rava idli mix, the instructions on the packet were clear and simple. Keep in mind that if you desire veggies in the uppittu (which are not included) then that would take a little more effort on your part. But then again, if you decide to use frozen veggies, that would easily eliminate the extra effort. We added in some chopped carrots, beans, peas and fried cashews. The seasonings and tempering ingredients are all part of the mix so you don't have to bother with that. We absolutely loved the texture and taste of the uppittu. The type of rava that has been chosen is perfect and the rava has been roasted well enough that it doesn't form the dreaded lumps when mixed with water. For me the spice level was just right but those who like their dishes hotter can add an additional chopped green chilli or two. Ours was the 200gm packet which I would say easily serves 3 people. 

My verdict: A big thumbs up!

Concluding remarks
I can honestly say that I wholeheartedly believe in this venture and what it stands for. The two products that are currently available are totally legit and having tried them personally, I heavily recommend them. I will be bringing back more for sure the next time I'm in India. The products are reasonably priced and worth every penny. Oota Tindi is a fledgling venture with a lot of promise and the proprietors are constantly striving to improve and expand their product line. I sincerely wish them the best of luck! 

Oota Tindi
Contact information to place orders:
Phone number: +91 9481494924 (orders can be placed via WhatsApp too)
E-mail: info@ootatindi.com
Facebook page: Click here to like the page and get regular updates on their products




So why don't you consider supporting this venture? Call them or e-mail them to place an order and see how it works out for you. It'll infuse more flavour into your oota-tindi with the added bonus of convenience and a guaranteed stamp of impeccable quality. I assure you that you will not regret it! You can like their Facebook page to get further information on the launch of new products or even provide feedback. 

Cheers,


Monday, November 3, 2014

Recipe of the month: Chitranna Shavige


Yes I know....I haven't been blogging as frequently as I usually do *sighs* but sometimes it is simply inevitable and I just brush aside the guilt and get on with my life! This is a post I had been saving for a rainy day. Sometimes, due to time constraints or prior commitments,  I find myself unable to post new content and those are the times that I frantically scour through my drafts folder for posts like these

If you have been following my blog, you would probably remember that the last time I was holidaying in India, my atthe (MIL) had prepared Otthu Shavige/Semige (hand pressed rice noodles) for my blog. Preparing homemade shavige is a cumbersome procedure so whenever this task is undertaken, a gargantuan batch of shavige is prepared so that everyone gets almost a week's worth of it and thus, don't feel the need to demand it again for quite sometime! 

One of the popular makeovers of plain shavige is chitranna shavige, a simple preparation of shavige tossed with tempering, onions, chillies, lemon juice, curry leaves and nuts thrown in for crunch. Another one would be shavige oggarane which is shavige tossed with tempering and a coarse mixture of fresh coconut, mustard seeds and dry red chillies. The process of making chitranna shavige is exactly like the ubiquitous chitranna aka lemon rice, the only difference being that instead of cooked rice, we use prepared shavige....quite obvious no? This dish (which has also been prepared by my atthe), is really simple and you can get it ready on the table within 20 mins. It is light and flavourful and reheating it in a microwave makes it taste as good as freshly made so it makes for an ideal dish to pack in the lunch box too. 

Here is the recipe. This is how my atthe and my mom make it at home. Try it and you will be pleasantly surprised by how much this simple dish has to offer! 



I

Monday, October 13, 2014

Recipe of the month: Vegetable Pulao


It's time for a recipe that is very close to my heart. This is a recipe for Vegetable Pulao that I have been making for the past 6-7 years. Every single time I make Pulao at home, it is this recipe that I turn to, so in a way, it is my go-to recipe. I've made it on countless occasions when I've had guests at home and I very frequently get asked the recipe Since it works so well for me, I haven't changed a thing and have continued to make it the same way over the years. Why mess with a good thing no? 

This recipe does have some history attached to it. Immediately after I got married, I was a housewife for a while. I had just graduated from dental school and I was quite frankly quite fed up with studying and working. Since I was always highly enthusiastic about cooking, I used that short phase of my life to learn all the basic recipes that my mum and MIL had perfected over the years. One among them was this recipe for Vegetable Pulao. This is my MIL's recipe and it is one of her signature dishes. My husband was very eager that I learn this recipe from her and he used to frequently bug me about it. I did eventually learn it but the first few times I made it, the feedback I would always get is that - "its good but it tastes a bit different from mum's". I had no idea what I was doing differently. My MIL uses a mixture of two different pulao masalas for this recipe. One from Everest and one from MTR. This combination, gives it a distinct flavour that you do not get if you just stick to one masala. She also uses fried bread cubes as a kind of garnish which gives it a different twist and something my hubby really loves. I guess the saying 'Practice Makes Perfect' is true because as I continued to strive to get it right and eventually succeeded to get it to taste like her version (don't ask me how though coz I have no idea...hahaha).  


I use an equal proportion of basmati rice and regular rice i.e. sona masoori in this recipe. There are certain kinds of rice dishes that I make for which I use an equal ratio of these two varieties of rice. I just like it better that way. But then again, there are other kinds of rice dishes where I exclusively stick to either basmati rice or regular rice. You can use whatever rice you like but be mindful that the quantity of cooking liquid would change (more details on that as you read on). 

Here is the recipe. It is slightly labour intensive but the good thing with any pulao is that it is a one pot meal and all you need is a simple raita and some crunchy element on the side and your meal is ready!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Restaurant review: Dinner Buffet at Cafe Mosaic @ The Carlton, Singapore

Cafe Mosaic is a contemporary cafe located at level 1 of the elegant Carlton Hotel in Singapore. This restaurant is touted as a place where Asian and Western culinary favourites are brought together to give diners a taste of what the best of Singapore has to offer. From their menu, Cafe Mosaic presents a kaleidoscope of culinary choices in their buffet as well as on their à la carte menu.

I became aware of the buffet at Cafe Mosaic only after my boss asked for suggestions for a dinner venue to treat all of us to celebrate her being granted tenure at my University. A few of my colleagues had been to the buffet and so it was highly recommended. The 1-for-1 buffet promotion for Citibank, DBS/POSB and UOB Cardmembers was another compelling reason to pick this restaurant for the venue. We made a reservation on a Friday evening for 16 people which was handled efficiently so after work, we all headed in a big herd towards Carlton Hotel.

The hotel is beautiful and has an air of sophistication. Since we reached the hotel before 6:30pm, we waited for a while in the waiting area of the main lobby until the restaurant opened for service. BTW, the restrooms are located just outside the restaurant and they are super clean



The restaurant is a decent size and is somewhat compartmentalized. The decor is pleasing and the lighting is ample. We caught a glimpse of the spread as we made our way towards our table and it looked impressive indeed! 


I

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Baker's Corner: Mixed Vegetable Pizza with Roasted Garlic White Sauce


Today was a really nice day. Apart from being a weekend, it was one of those days that me and hubby decided to make pizza from scratch at home. We don't cook together very often (either I take over completely or he does) so its kinda fun when we become kitchen collaborators. To be fair to him, he did 80% of the work with me only chipping in between....hehehe. Whenever we make pizza at home, we take our own sweet time and the whole process from start to finish can take up a considerable chunk of the morning. It doesn't really feel like a chore but a fun kind of art project! (the cleaning up is however a different story altogether!). We decided to make two different pizzas today - one Margherita Pizza with Marinara Sauce and the other, a Mixed Vegetable Pizza with a Roasted Garlic White Sauce. We came up with the latter pizza as a contrast to the regular pizza that we make all the time which has the same ol' tomato-based sauce.

We previously tried making a pizza sauce using mayonnaise (inspired from a 'cool lime mayonnaise' sauce on a pizza at Pizza Hut) but I didn't like it because I don't really like mayonnaise in general. I don't mind it in really small quantities in sandwiches, burgers, wraps and stuff but a heavy hit of mayo is not my thing. My husband began searching for an alternate white sauce and found Emeril Lagasse's Roasted Garlic White Sauce which looked really appealing. The Marinara Sauce that we make for the Margherita Pizza is also adapted from Emeril's recipe so we have a tendency to trust any recipe of his. It is a really simple recipe but takes some time to make only because you need to roast a whole bulb of garlic in the oven. But the resultant sauce is smooth, thick, spreadable and has great flavour so I think it is totally worth the extra time. 


We chose a bunch of random toppings like bell peppers, mushrooms, red onions and pineapple chunks but you can customize your toppings depending on what you like. You could throw in some sweet corn kernels,  baby corn, olives, zucchini, asparagus, broccoli, fresh mango, a choice of greens....basically whatever you like. The pizza tasted really great and I'm pretty sure it will feature as a regular in our household from now on. The crust turned out a little thicker than what we expected so rolling the dough out to a larger size is what we should have done to get it absolutely perfect. Oh well! There is always a next time to improvise :)



I'm going to skedaddle out of here now. Check out this recipe, try it and let me know if you like it!