Sunday, October 28, 2012

Restaurant review: Cafe Iguana - Singapore

Cafe Iguana is located at Riverside Point and is a popular watering hole and contemporary Mexican restaurant in Singapore. It is ideally situated by the river and features their signature margaritas and much more along with authentic Mexican cuisine. Being a huge fan of Mexican food, I will readily venture out at anyone's request if it means good tortillas, salsa and guacamole all washed down with a few fruity margaritas. Unfortunately for me, I haven't been able to find good Mexican food in Singapore except for the time I went to this restaurant called Margarita's at Faber Drive (loved that place). Hoping to add to the list of good Mexican restaurants, me and DH went to Cafe Iguana on a Saturday looking forward to unwind. We made a reservation in advance as we heard the place can get crowded especially on weekends. We reached there early, at 5:30pm and were not surprised to find the place quite empty....a good thing for me because I got to take some pictures! Note that the crowds start coming in after 7pm. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Recipe of the month: Aloo Paratha (Potato Stuffed Flatbread)

Aloo Paratha - a delicious Indian whole wheat flatbread stuffed with with a spicy potato filling, cooked on a hot pan, smeared with butter or ghee and served with pickle and homemade yoghurt....comfort food at its best!

I stuffed parathas! And for me, the KING of all stuffed parathas is aloo paratha. Aloo means potato in Hindi and I love anything and everything made out of aloos! Second-in-line to the paratha throne (for me) would either be gobi (cauliflower) paratha or paneer (cottage cheese) paratha. They have to be among my top picks for the Punjabi contribution to Indian cuisine. Stuffed parathas takes me way back to my undergraduate days as a dental student in India when I used to frequent the popular Punjabi mess (canteen) next to my college with my batchmates and tuck into their delicious aloo and gobi parathas. Coming back to the present day, if someone made me a plateful of these piping hot parathas for breakfast on a weekend morning, they would get a huge hug of gratitude in return! I don't make parathas at home very frequently because I've never considered myself as an expert at making them. I order them at North Indian restaurants most of the time or else get my mum to make them for me when I'm in India. But occasionally I do feel like making them at home to satisfy my paratha craving. And you know the best thing about aloo parathas? You don't require any special side dish - a dollop of plain yoghurt and your favourite pickle and you are good to go! 

You know those skilled women who can roll out perfectly round roti after roti at a robotic pace? Well, I am certainly NOT one of them! Although the rotis that I make may be be perceived as roundish, the same cannot be said for parathas. Initially when I started making stuffed parathas, I was plagued by two issues - one, the filling would invariably ooze out during the rolling process and second, the parathas would end up in all sorts of odd shapes. So, in order to overcome this, I would make two small rotis of roughly equal size, flatten a ball of filling in the middle of one roti, dab a little water around the edges of the roti, cover with the second roti and then roll it out. I would always get nicely round parathas by this method but the parathas would not be as soft as I would like them to be and there would hardly be any filling at the edges. So, I decided to make the parathas the conventional way (round or not!). Gradually I learned that the key to making good parathas is getting the right consistency of the dough, giving the dough some rest, ensuring that the filling has cooled down and is as devoid of moisture as possible and in the case of a aloo paratha, completely smooth (without lumps) before rolling them out. 

This is how I have started to make aloo parathas and I can honestly tell you that I am very happy with this recipe (hubby agrees too). The parathas turn out soft, well flavored and as you can see from the photos, reasonably round! Not too shabby for an amateur paratha maker, eh?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Movie Review: English Vinglish (Hindi)

What happens when an ordinary, middle-class Indian housewife makes up her mind to change something about herself in order to bolster her self-esteem and earn the respect of her family? You get a wonderfully empowering movie called English Vinglish. 

Sashi Godbole (Sridevi) is a middle-aged Marathi housewife, dutifully performing her responsibilities as a wife, mother to her two children and daughter-in-law. She runs a small-time business of selling home-made laddoos (an Indian sweet), something she excels in. Despite her selfless devotion to her family, she is taken for granted and her family is insensitive to her feelings. One of the main points of contention between Sashi and her daughter is Sashi's lack of spoken English. Her daughter makes no bones about the fact that she is embarrassed by her mother in public. Sashi's businessman husband (Adil Hussain) also frequently undermines her, makes fun at her expense and fails to acknowledge her as anything more than a housewife and a laddoo maker. She gets some solace from her kind and sympathetic mother-in-law and her adorable young son who makes her feel needed. 

A trip to New York changes Shasi's life when she secretly enrolls in an English speaking crash course along with a motley crew comprising of a Mexican nanny, a Chinese hair stylist, a South-Indian engineer, a Pakistani cab driver, a French chef and an African dancer. How Shashi reinstates her foothold in her family makes for the rest of the story.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Baker's Corner: Crème Caramel

Crème caramel (also called Flan or Caramel custard) is a custard dessert with a layer of soft caramel on top, as opposed to Crème brûlée, which is custard with a hard caramel top. This simple dessert is enjoyed throughout the world and features as a staple on many dessert menus. 

I don't really have a sweet tooth. I like eating sweet treats occasionally but I'm not the kind who craves for confectionery or desserts. I actually don't even like ice-cream (many of my friends actually gasp when I mention this!). I am not very fond of traditional Indian sweets either. When I think of what I order at a restaurant at the end of a meal (which is not very often), there are only three desserts that pop into my mind - one would be Apple pie (my most favourite dessert in the whole world), another would be Cheesecake and the third would be either Crème caramel or Crème brûlée. 

I tried this recipe for Crème caramel last weekend as a practice attempt for when I would have guests over for dinner in the future. I came across the recipe by accident when I was casually browsing the Foodgawker gallery. The photo had me drooling and I immediately pinned it on my 'Must-try' food board in Pinterest. Having the dubious distinction of being as obstinate as a mule, if I once decide to try out a recipe, I will not rest until I see it through, come rain or shine! How glad am I that my stubborn nature comes in handy once in awhile  It was one of those baking attempts that had me squealing with delight at the end of it! I get very animated when a recipe I try out for the first ever time turns out the way it is supposed to. I feel jubilant....that is until the next inevitable kitchen disaster strikes! But then again, this baking venture did have its fair share of drama...