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Recreating Bhutan thru food – Shamu Datshi (Bhutanese Mushroom and Cheese Recipe)

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One of my favourite posts to write was the one I did post returning from a wonderful holiday inBhutan. The beautiful landscape, colours and gorgeous people, not to mention the lovely food we ate throughout the trip was enough to inspire me. Something that is severely missing on this blog, when yesterday I realised that I’d last posted in September.

In fact, funnily I have been cooking and baking quite a bit. What with the extra hours I have on hand because of early rising due to the pooch. Somehow, never got down to making it here and am about to remedy that!

With the weather finally getting a nip and winter deciding to descend on our neck of the woods, memories of the food we ate inBhutanbecame so strong that it urged me to try and recreate it.

We enjoyed the vegetable and cheese preparations almost daily. Ema Datshi – Chillies and Cheese, Kewa Datshi – Potato and Cheese and my favourite Shamu Datshi – Mushrooms and Cheese.

It’s a simple recipe, the most time consuming aspect of this is the chopping of the mushrooms! Because the dish cooks itself in less than 10 minutes!

I found a recipe online and used that as a base, I omitted the tomatoes, because the version we had didn’t have tomatoes in it. I also used Amul processed cheese as that is the only one I had on hand. Am sure a combination of cheddar and mozzarella would be ideal. The taste was almost the same as what I recall. Pretty good for a first attempt at recreation!

Shamu Datshi (Serves 3)

Button Mushrooms – 200 grams, washed thinly sliced

Unsalted butter – 1 tablespoon

Water – ¼ cup

Cheese – 2/3 cup, grated (I used 3 cubes of Amul Processed cheese)

Spring onions – 3-4 sliced thinly

The cheese I used was  quite salty so I did not add any more salt.

Method

In a pan, place the sliced mushrooms, water, butter, and salt (if using) over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook 5 minutes till the mushrooms are cooked. Stir in the grated cheese, and green onion, cover, and cook 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Pour into a serving dish and serve with rice.

That’s it! It’s a fantastic dish to serve for cheese lovers. Makes a great and easy addition to a party table. Can be eaten with nice crusty bread as well, but goes best with hot Rosematta rice.

Thai Style Noodle Salad

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thai style noodle salad

Have been in a blog funk for a while now and i realised that most of the things that i found pleasure in, I have abandoned….and the newer interests I have picked up do not end/ begin with food and so there is less to write here. With all the other stuff that’s going on, meals are the last priority right now. It helps in weightloss if food is not the focus of your life… I’ve learnt that much over the last 6 months from K.

Losing my food pictures because of a crashed laptop also meant that i was more heartbroken than i wanted to admit. It also stripped me of a bank of pictures that i could post here to keep the blog posts coming.

We went on a holiday recently to the Land of the Thunder Dragon – Bhutan. I had friends from college who were Bhutanese and they kept telling me to visit. It has taken 11 years to finally get there and I am glad we finally went.  K’s work has kept him so busy that we hardly manage to spend time together during the work week. Deadlines drive me crazy and bring out the zen like calm in him. Which is ridiculous because he is the one chasing those damn deadlines! I just watch from the sidelines, am supportive and try to be as gracious about giving up our time together. So this was a welcome break. And what a beautiful break it was.


Bhutan is gorgeous. Period. Its green, the climate was chill but pleasantly so for this time of the year and it is spring time, which means Cherry blossoms are in full bloom all over the country. They take your breath away even if you are just walking down a village road. the people are wonderful, humble and amongst  the most self respecting i have ever come across. The children are picture perfect and you feel like sticking a camera in every face you see. The houses, hotels and every other building is similar to look at from outside due to the building regulations in place to ensure they continue to build  the model of the traditional building structures, which use a lot of wood, intricate carving and paintings. the monasteries are beautiful and either nestled next to an icy glacier fed river or clinging precariously to the side of a sharp cliff. And if you think the V king is handsome…. you should see his father!

Choose to drive in the mountains, visit the monasteries, trek through the country or get lost in the colour and essence of a cultural festival. You can also choose to get a massage and soak in a hot tub, the water is heated by placing red hot stones in another compartment of the tub. It was surreal and just the relaxing holiday we wanted.

The food – is heavenly. fresh, comforting and has a homemade quality, just what is needed in a cold country. I was apprehensive about  the availability of vegetarian food, but was pleasantly surprised. Although on the bhutanese vegetarian menu there are mostly only three variations of their famous cheese curry (with chilli, potatoes or mushrooms) with red rice, its all washed down with the best dark rum and coke i’ve have ever had.  indian, chinese and continental food is easily available at most places. the restaurants in thimpu and paro can serve you almost anything you want, from lebanese to thai cuisine.

We went to this lovely thai restaurant called Baan Thai in Thimpu and the food there is so outstanding that it compelled us to return to have our last meal there before we left Bhutan. Its tricky to order vegetarian Thai food, because almost everything calls for shrimp paste and fish sauce. This restaurant has excellent service and is very quick by Bhutanese standards and each dish from the red and green curry, sauteed spinach with chilly and glass noodle salad was outstanding.

Landing back home into 38 degrees C from 0 degrees when we left bhutan has left me craving for cold meals. I tried to make some version of the noodle salad and it was so refreshing for a hot summer afternoon. Its pretty easy to put together and since i substituted ingredients for whatever i had on hand, i would say this is a very adaptable recipe. the sharpness of the lemon and chilli dressing, refreshing crunch of the chilled vegetables and the starch provided by the rice noodles made for a complete meal.

Thai Style Noodle Salad (Serves 2)

1 cup cooked rice / glass noodles (I used rice noodles, soaked a handful in boiling water covered with a lid for 3-4 minutes, drained and immersed in cold water till needed)

1 cup peeled cucumbers sliced like matchsticks

1/2 cup peeled carrots sliced like matchsticks

1/2 an onion sliced fine

1 medium sized tomato, halved and sliced

2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves or thai basil (i did’nt have this on hand) rinsed and shredded

2 tablespoons fresh spring onions, green parts only

For the dressing:

2 tablespoons fresh lemon / lime juice

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon red chilli powder

salt to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon)

In a bowl add all the ingredients for the dressing and mix till the sugar is dissolved, taste and adjust. Add the chopped veggies and mix well. Add the cooked noodles and toss. garnish with green onions and fresh coriander leaves. Let stand in the fridge for atleast 15 minutes to allow the flavours to meld. Serve chilled

Can garnish with some toasted sesame seeds or toasted crushed peanuts, i forgot as i was eager to dig into it.

shopping info :

in hyderabad, you can buy the rice noodles and glass noodles at spar, hypercity, qmart or ruci and idoni

 Edited to add: Its been eons since i linked to any blog event. This salad is off to Fun in the Sun, the summer event at Tickling Palates who is celebrating four fab blogging years!

Sugar and Spice ….. All Things Nice

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If you are in hyderabad, we’d love to have you over. there’s a lot of fun stuff and some really awesome clothes, bags and shoes…spread the word

ahomemakersdiary@yahoo.in

Happy Birthday with ‘Sugarfree’ Kheer ~ Kaddu ka Kheer (Bottlegourd) Recipe

Dear Amma,

you turn a year older today. We wanted to celebrate in style, but you will have to make do with the presence of your children and grandchild minus the exciting vacation unlike the last big celebration. it doesnt take away one bit from what you are. We give thanks for what you have taught us especially about being dignified in the face of the worst kicks life gives you and carrying on, so that life itself relents and smiles on you. You still are my hero. Although sometimes i find you quite a nag, i remind myself I’d better be careful of what I accuse you of, since I cant escape my genes and am turning out to be more and more like you! I wish for you health and happiness and much more laughter than you can handle! There, take that and deal with it… so what if you cant go on a vacation this year, am sure our surprise appearance last night has more than made up for it!

To celebrate, here’s a beautifully creamy yet healthier route to a hyderabadi classic Kaddu ka kheer

Kaddu ka kheer

Makes 5 servings, Time taken: 30 mins

1/2 litre plus 1 cup milk ( i used 3% fat)

2 cups grated bottlegourd (lauki in the north but in hyd we call it kaddu)

1/4 cup raw basmati rice

2/3 cup sugar substitute ( i used sugarfree brand) or sugar

1/2 a teaspoon grated nutmeg, divided (or use elaichi if you dont like nutmeg)

a few slices of almonds for the garnish

wash the rice and set aside. in a pressure cooker, add the rice, grated bottlegourd, 1/2 litre milk and cook for 2 whistles or till the rice is cooked. when the pressure releases, open the lid and mash lightly with the back of a ladle. add the sugar substitute or sugar and the remaining milk and cook on a low flame till the mixture begins to thicken. taste for sweetness and adjust. I dont like overpoweringly sweet kheer, so this is low on sweetness. simmer till the back of a ladle is coated thickly. add the nutmeg and sitr. turn off the heat. let it cool. Serve chilled with a sprinkling of nutmeg and a fel slices of almonds

Cooking with Relics ~ Spaghetti with Basil Walnut Pesto Recipe

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Yesterday we got back from a short trip to Madanapalle a town on the Andhra Karnataka border and Bangalore.

My cousinP’s son was baptised in the native place of his paternal grandparents and i got to be his God mother. I was present in the labour room at the time of his birth, coaching his mother through a really painful delivery. So it seems that I did score some brownie points and his parents honoured me by asking me to be his God mother. So i got myself a son! err did i mention i was so scared myself that i thought i would faint? i did appear to be the pillar of strength tho… i told you i was a good actress!

The small town church was all festooned up for Rohan Joshua and he did ofcourse yell his lungs out when the priest took him in his arms… but other than that it was all delightful. Complete with a traditional meal laid out on a banana leaf to celebrate afterwards (of which i do not have any pictures to share since i was so busy eating).

Coming back home is always a lovely thing, no matter how beautiful and enjoyable your trip is. the only thing is that the fridge is almost bare, sans the stuff that can make it through 4-5 days or however long you are planning to be away. Here comes the part where i believe nothing happens without good reason.  A few weeks ago, Nupur called out to us to see whats in the fridge, i felt she’d heard my voice karmically… turns out i am not the only hoarder… going by the response she’s had with comments. I did peek into my fridge and honestly, I am shocked! I am not shocked easily… but I am… Lets start with the freezer….from half used cartons of cream and coconut milk, dry fruit, pesto rolls (unbaked), cookie dough to 2 batches of basil pesto! Down in the fridge section, there are three kinds of jams, peanut butter and nutella… i am now going on a blanket ban of grocery purchasing till i get this stuff used up. Lets not even mention the dying veggies i throw out with alarming regularity.

I would have loved to do this the whole month long. cook from stuff i need to use up from the fridge/ pantry, but real life takes over, kicks my behind and leaves me breathless. Bringing us back to what I was saying. I stood there wondering what to make for lunch as I had only myself to feed. K went to work with a lunch of rice, dal and a bottle of beef pickle my mother sent back for him. (did I tell you they feel sad for him because i dont eat / cook meat anymore? no? this was part of the comfort package!)

readers of this blog are familiar with my love for pasta. And there isn’t an iota of doubt what i would cook for myself if I am eating alone. Digging out a box of frozen pesto I’d made a few months ago, i set it on the counter to thaw and had visions of the most satisfying lunch driving me nuts. There was a small piece of zucchini which also made its way into the pasta, and in less than 10 minutes, lunch was served.this pasta is off to Nupur who’s hosting BB4: Whats Lurking in the Kitchen. egads! just in time because i realised the last date is tomorrow.

Spaghetti with Basil and Walnut Pesto

see Nupur’s post here the recipe is originally from here

for the pesto (makes 1 cup)

4 packed cups of italian basil, stalks removed, leaves washed and drained on a kitchen towel (the original recipe calls for blanching, i skipped this step)

1/2 cup walnuts (the original uses pine nuts)

2 cloves of peeled garlic (adjust according to your preference)

1/3 cup of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste (i omitted the pepper)

in a hot dry pan, toast the walnuts for 2-3 minutes, tossing frequently. Cool completely. Add all of the ingredients except the olive oil into a mixer jar and pulse till everything resembles finely chopped greens. if you are using a food processor, add the olive oil in a steady stream while continuing to pulse the pesto. i used a jar, so added a tablespoon at a time. check for texture and pulse a little more. The pesto can be frozen now for later use, or used immediately. If freezing, leave to defrost at room temperature for 15-20 mins or nuke in the microwave oven for 30 sec blasts till thawed.

for the spaghetti

2 tablespoons basil walnut pesto

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil (remember the pesto has EVOO already, so go easy)

2 cups cooked spaghetti (or any other pasta of choice, cook with salt according to the instructions on the packet)

1/2 cup zucchini slivers

in a pan, heat the olive oil and toss in the zucchini slices. saute for a couple of minutes till they are wilting yet retain their crunch.

in another bowl, toss the cooked pasta with the pesto sauce and swirl it around till well coated. add this to the sauteed zuchini and swirl some more till well incorporated. check for salt and adjust as needed. Serve warm with a sprinkling of grated cheese or as is.

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