Saturday, January 15, 2011

A tryst with Thailand…

Thailand is one of my favorite countries in Southeast Asia. In so many ways, it reminds me of my home country India yet it has a strong identity of its own. Some things I love about Thailand are the friendly people, great food, fascinating culture and gorgeous beaches. It is no wonder that Thailand is a magnet for travelers the world over.

My first trip to Thailand was more than 10 years ago during the summer of 2000. It was the start of a new millennium and my family and I wanted to do something special to commemorate it. The major chunk of our holiday was spent in Bangkok where we stayed at the Narai Hotel with a few days in Pattaya spent at Siam Bayview. I don’t have pictures of this trip as it took place a long time ago and we were using a (now obsolete) film camera at the time. I do however have many fond memories of it. I vividly remember riding the Jet Ski at Pattaya Bay in the scorching sun, admiring the marine life sitting in a glass bottomed boat, spending a relaxing day at Coral island, doing lots of street shopping, enjoying the scrumptious breakfast at Siam Bayview and taking in the splendor of Bangkok’s Grand palace. Everything else seems a bit hazy...another trip would definitely jog my memory! 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Food Network Asia – My current obsession!

Images obtained from Food Network Asia television stills. 
Top row (L-R): Ina Garten, Bobby Flay, Rachael Ray. 
Bottom row (L-R): Paula Deen, Giada De Laurentis, Pat and Gina Neely

Like many people, I believe that cooking is an art. I also believe that food should not merely serve as a fuel for the body but be an ultimate gastronomic experience. Food is one area in which being adventurous can seldom be a bad thing. With cuisines crossing borders and the availability of International food products increasing, there is so much that you can do with food. In today’s times, a large majority of people are on the lookout for jet-set meals because of their hectic lifestyle and home cooking is taking a backseat. It is unfortunate because food cooked at home is healthier, more hygienic and offers an opportunity for more family time.  

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Recipe of the month - Coconut Burfi

You know when you go through transitional phases of not liking certain things to suddenly liking them and vice versa? If there was an Indian sweet that I disliked before but I now absolutely love, it would have to be coconut burfi. This is a festive sweet that many an Indian will associate right from their childhood days. The reason I never liked it when I was younger was because I never fancied coconut that much. Bounty was the only chocolate that I would not eat while I was growing up. The texture and smell of the coconut would put me off. But as I grew up and my tastes matured, I began to appreciate everything about coconut - the natural sweetness, the flaky texture, subtle flavor and its incredible versatility. Coconut in different forms (coconut oil, tender coconut water, coconut milk, grated fresh coconut and dried coconut) has a multitude of uses especially in Indian cooking and is used both to prepare savory as well as sweet dishes. 

Coconut burfi, as its name suggests is primarily made from grated fresh coconut and sugar. Here in Singapore, all I have to do is walk 2 mins to the vegetable market opposite my place and for a paltry sum of 2-3 dollars, the coconut vendor gives me a whole bag of freshly grated pristine white coconut. From here, making coconut burfi is a breeze! I am so spoiled that I don't really know how to grate coconut on my own *grins sheepishly* The best thing about this sweet is that it requires very few ingredients, is easy to put together and tastes delicious. 

This recipe results in coconut burfi that is slightly soft and almost has a fudge-like consistency. Try it and you will be amazed at how simple it is :)