Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas sights and sounds

The last week of December is usually my favorite time of the year. It is the holiday season and generally involves having friends over, catching up with relatives, getting invited to parties, ridiculous overeating, shopping and taking in the glorious Christmas sights.

Singapore is beautiful during Christmas. Although it is sad that we can never have a white Christmas, the perpetually "green" Christmas makes it possible for us to go out wherever and whenever we want without any of the hassles associated with winter :)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My thoughts on the Harry Potter books


I am one of the biggest fans of the genius that is J. K. Rowling. I have been an avid follower of the Harry Potter series ever since I was a teenager. The series has become a worldwide phenomenon and I for one am not remotely surprised. What annoys me the most is when people say that they are too "old" to read Harry Potter and that it is a series meant only for kids. I just can't help rolling my eyes in exasperation! These books ceased to be specifically for children halfway through the series; by Goblet of Fire, Rowling was writing for everyone. In my opinion, grown ups who love the Harry Potter books are people who seriously appreciate good writing. It is almost impossible to ignore the abundance of creativity, imagination and wit that are a trademark of every single book in the series. Rowling is an incredibly gifted story-teller and the magic that she has woven into all her books seems to emanate from them leaving a spellbinding effect on the world. What amazes me is how much thought has been put into the books. The magical jargon, the history of Hogwarts, the lineage of magical families, magical abilities, spell-like effects, dark arts, magical creatures and objects.....I can go on and on! It is just mind boggling.

Recipe of the month - Karnataka speciality: Akki rotti

Akki rotti is my favourite breakfast dish......period. There is nothing I enjoy more apart from these delicious rice-based pancakes that are a popular speciality of my home state of Karnataka in South India. My maternal grandmother makes the best akki rottis and every time she is around, we get her to make them for us. Amma makes yummy rottis too and she makes it a point to prepare some for me when I'm home. Over the years, I have heard of different methods and techniques of making this dish from different sources and I had even tried a couple of them to varying degrees of success. This recipe works the best for me so I've faithfully stuck to it.

Akki rotti is made out of rice flour which is made into a dough along with water, yoghurt, grated coconut, chopped onions, green chillies, cooked field beans (avarekalu), curry leaves, coriander leaves and dill (sabbasige soppu). However, there are several variations that can be made to the dough based on an individual's preferences (for example, I absolutely love the herb dill but my husband isn't such a fan or some people like grated carrot in the rottis whilst others don't). The dough is made into a ball and patted with wet palms over a greased laminated sheet or plantain leaf to resemble a thin pancake. This is then transferred to a hot tawa (pan). Sometimes the rotti is patted directly over the tawa. A small amount of oil/ghee is spread over it and the rottis are roasted until golden brown spots appear on both sides. It is best served hot along with a variety of chutneys and/or chutney pudi (spiced chutney powder).

In my household, akki rotti is one of the most popular breakfast requests for a weekend brunch (read: not only mine but also my hubby's favorite!)Soft, crispy, flavorful, wholesome, gluten-free and vegan-friendly....this dish is crowd-pleaser which ever way you look at it!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Book Review: Nothing to Envy - Real Lives in North Korea

For a bit of background information, North Korea (officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) is a communist country in East Asia bordering South Korea. North Korea also shares land borders with China and Russia. Following the Korean War in 1950, the Korean peninsula was divided into North and South Korea divided by the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone. During the war, the Soviet Union and China backed North Korea while the United States fought on behalf of South Korea. The consequence of the war was that North Korea was led by the Korean Workers' Party (KWP) with Kim II-sung as president while South Korea was declared a democracy with Syngman Rhee instated as president. No peace treaty was signed, resulting in the two countries remaining at loggerheads with each other. At least 2.5 million people died during the Korean War and is considered by many to be one of the most futile wars ever waged in history.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sailing across the seas

These pics were taken during a three day holiday in August 2006 aboard the Star Virgo Cruise. The cruise we took was to "no destination" which meant that for three days, we were just sailing across the seas. It worked fine for us as we got to explore the cruise ship for the entire duration! As you walk onto the deck, you listen to the subtle splashing of water, feel the gentle breeze in your hair and take in the fresh salty air....time almost comes to a standstill. Back in the room, you still can't stop gazing at the endless sea. There is just something so incredibly peaceful and alluring about that blue sparkling water...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Memories of Malaysia

One of the advantages of living in Singapore is that it just an arms length away from several countries, Malaysia being one of them. We have been to Malaysia several times now (November 2006, April 2007, February 2008 and February 2010). It is much bigger than Singapore and has an abundance of forests, valleys, mountains, caves and beaches. It is just a 4-5 hr journey from Singapore to the capital city of Kuala Lumpur (KL) and having relatives in KL meant that we always had a reason to visit.

One of our first holidays after coming to Singapore, was to Desaru (April 2006), a small coastal resort town in Johor. A 25 min ferry ride from Singapore, this place is the ideal place for a weekend getaway.