Sunday, June 16, 2013

Bali 2013

I've been getting a little fed up of recipe posts lately, so here is something different for a change!

This post chronicles our recent trip to Bali. This trip was planned as a family holiday (departing from Singapore) with my parents in-law from India, brother-in-law and his wife from the US and me and hubs comprising a six-member motley crew. I will not dwell too much on the sight-seeing destinations since I've already done that in an earlier post, detailing my Bali experience during a holiday in 2009.

Usually I'm not too gung-ho about visiting a place I've already seen before. I look forward to see different places, meet different kinds of people and sample new cuisines. Then why go to Bali again, you ask? We first narrowed in on Indonesia because apart from Thailand, it is the nearest country that has visa on arrival. When you have six people traveling together and coming together from different parts of the world, the easy availability of visa becomes significant. The monsoon was scheduled to begin in Thailand and we didn't really want to be stuck in a resort in a gorgeous place like Krabi or Koh Samui with rain lashing at the windows! And having been to Bali before (and absolutely loving it), we knew exactly which places were worth visiting and we even managed to get in touch with Surya, our driver who took us around Bali in 2009 :)

We deviated from the usual when it came to the choice of accommodation. We stayed at Bali Eco Stay, situated on the southern slopes of Mount Batukaru, north Tabanan, in Central Bali. This resort revolves around the concept of Ecotourism which is responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people. We chose this place to experience the rich local Balinese village culture, surrounded by stunning organic rice fields, mountain fed streams, cascading waterfalls and spectacular views over treetops to the ocean.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Recipe of the month: Malai Kofta

I just got back from Bali after a super amazing family vacation with my husband and in-laws. This was my second time in Bali and I fell in love with it all over again. Will be sharing some pictures of our trip in a subsequent post. In the meantime, here is another post that I've conveniently pulled out of my drafts folder :)

A few words on Malai Kofta - malai means cream and kofta are fried dumpling balls. This is a classic North Indian dish originating from Mughlai cuisine, an insanely popular curry and a party-favorite. My version of Malai Kofta has already made a special guest appearance on my blog (in my last post alongside naan) but today it is the one and only star of the show!

There are a few particular North-Indian curries that would make their way into my top 5 list (yes I have a list!) - Malai Kofta, Dum Aloo, Palak Paneer, Dal Makhni & Egg Curry (in no particular order). For me, as long as I know how to make these select few well, I wouldn't be all too concerned about not being able to make any other varieties of curries! Me and hubby have a particularly soft spot for Malai Kofta. You have deep fried paneer (cottage cheese) and vegetable dumplings in a rich and creamy tomato-onion sauce. What's not to like?! When served alongside roti, naan or jeera rice, the resulting combination will transport you to heaven (eat too much of it and you probably really will end up there!). I say that because this rich, calorie-ridden dish is an indulgence of royal proportions! I make this dish only on special occasions or once in a blue moon which isn't so bad actually....makes me and hubby look forward to eating it all the more!

Having eaten authentic Malai Kofta numerous times during my undergraduate days, I am quite particular about how it should be made. To me good Malai Kofta has a gravy that is rich, luscious, creamy, mildly sweet, not very tangy and koftas that are a deep brown with the signature crispy fried texture, packed full of flavor and a melt-in-your-mouth quality. I particularly love the taste of the cashews and raisins inside the kofta. In general, I like Malai Kofta with a subtle hint of sweetness but not when it is overtly sweet. Also, no baked or shallow-fried koftas for me thank you very much. I'd rather skip eating a dish altogether than try and put a healthy spin on it thereby converting it into a shadow of its former self. I believe that some dishes don't deserve to be messed with and this is one of them :)

This recipe is a mish-mash of various recipes so I cannot cite a single source for it. As for me, I can only take credit for trying it out more than once and making minor changes and adaptations here and there to give you this final version. I am satisfied with it and I hope you will be too!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Baker's Corner: White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

For the next few weeks, I'm going to be pulling out posts from my drafts folder because I have family visiting from India and the US and I'll be too busy painting the town red to spend much time on my blog *grins sheepishly*

The last time I baked cookies, I was gloating because I had finally found the perfect cookie recipe! That recipe was for Chocolate Chip Cookies which was an adapted recipe from Jacques Torres which was published on the New York times in 2008. The texture was exactly what I was looking for in a cookie - soft, chunky and chewy and they tasted great. Since then, I've baked Chocolate Chip Cookies many times, always with consistently good results. However, the next time I was to bake cookies, I wanted to give it a twist.

When I was in the US for a brief amount of time, me and hubby used to do our weekly grocery shopping at this store (don't remember the name) that was a stone's throw away from our apartment in Milwaukee. We frequently used to buy White Chocolate Macadamia Nut cookies from there which soon became a favorite of mine. They were giant cookies which were soft, chunky and had lovely bursts of sweetness from the white chocolate and the subtle nuttiness from the macadamias. Whenever I would take a bite out of those cookies, I would always think oh how nice it would be if I could make them myself! So with that memory in mind, I thought I'd stick to my trusty cookie recipe and just replace the dark chocolate with white chocolate and throw in some macadamia nuts. 

I was sure the cookies would turn out fine and they did. I simply love the white chocolate-macadamia nut combination. As has become a habit of mine, I distributed the cookies to a whole lot of friends and colleagues 

Here is the recipe. It is very versatile so you can incorporate whatever you like into the cookie dough. Maybe next time, I'll do something with peanut butter chips!