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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

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.

Introducing a brand new blogger and an easy Mixed Dal Recipe

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All those of you who’ve encouraged me, please say hello to Swati, media person, executive producer, woman of today and Weekend Epicurean. Swati and I know each other through a dear friend U, and when she expressed her desire to start a food blog, i  told her of my tryst with blogging and how much i had grown personally from this little space i share with so many of you. When i told her of the joys of writing and finding your niche in this space, of meeting people and making friends, it didnt take her long to start her own blog.

Please stop over and send her your wishes!! Goodluck Weekend Epicurean…. may you have a beautiful journey.

Now for a an easy recipe for the blazing hot summer’s when the last thing you want to do is stand in the hot kitchen…. this recipe pretty much needs no babysitting, and is full of wonderful flavour. Makes a working night dinner with some hot steamed rice. Ok, if you are feeling indulgent, then roast some papad and add some pickle… but i ain’t going to stand in the kitchen longer than i have to light the flame under the cooker!!

Mixed Dal (serves 4)

2 tablespoons each tur (split yellow pigeon peas), Chana (split husked chickpeas), Masoor (red lentils), Whole moong (green gram with skin) and skinned moong

1 medium onion chopped

1 medium tomato chopped

1/2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste, or 1 pod garlic and small knob of ginger, roughly chopped or crushed

pinch of hing (asafetida)

pinch of turmeric

1 teaspoon of dhania jeera powder (or mix half tsp of each together)

2 slit green chillies or 1 teaspoon red chilly powder

1 1/2  cups of water

Salt to taste

Take all the ingredients for the dal except the salt in a pressure cooker and add the 11/2 cups water to it. (leave out the tadka stuff). Cook it for 2-3 whistles, let the steam release, mash well with the back of a ladle or with a dal masher.

For the tadka/ popu/ seasoning:

1 tablespoon ghee (or oil but it isnt the same minus the ghee)

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds, cumin seeds

10 curry leaves

2 dried red chillies

In a small tempering pan, heat the ghee or oil, add the cumin and mustard seeds and allow to splutter, add the dried red chillies and wait till they change colour to bright red, add the curry leaves now and take off the heat. Add this to the cooked and mashed dal. Mix well. Serve with plain steamed rice or rotis.

Can you tell I love happy colours?

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Am back from a wonderful holiday…time spent with family (so what if they are the in laws) and a short trip to Udaipur…. i also had the chance to meet the very friendly Tejal… we yakked and yakked and the only reason we stopped was because i had to leave…and yes… i love shopping… but i did really very little of it… this is it!

hey!! don’t judge me…. i went to gujarat and rajasthan… its like sending someone to vegas for a holiday and telling them not to gamble!! plus i have friends, who always get me stuff when they travel…and it was all calling out to mama to take them home mostly for gifts…and reasonable…and i came back with no extra piece of baggage cos i stuffed it all into my bags because i didnt buy much in the first place…

my shopping list in the order of when and where i bought it

  • assorted chai (at the airport cos the flight was delayed by 3 hrs and i was bored the flavours were unique)
  • hand crafted coloured glass jewellery at tara’s in ambawadi, ahmd
  • one kurti from tara’s in ambawadi, ahmd
  • small handmade potlis (bags) to gift jewellery and stuff from tara’s
  • 2 cushion covers from tara’s
  • 4 kurtis and 2 harem pants from anokhi, ahmedabad
  • banana shaped erasers and rainbow hued pencils from pintoo store in ahmd
  • cloth covered notebooks with hand made paper from shop near the city palace, udaipur, rajasthan
  • wooden and lac thorans with camels and elephants from shop near the city palace, udaipur, rajasthan
  • wooden and lac birds and animal decorations from shop near the city palace, udaipur, rajasthan
  • 5 pairs of hand embroidered jootis and chappal, shop near the city palace, udaipur, rajasthan
  • 5 terracota foot scrubbers from nathdwara enroute to kumbhalgarh fort, rajasthan

the stuff i bought for my SIL and niece is not on the list… this is what i brought back…

Another year comes to a close… Adieu 2009

The most lasting feeling  of the year 2009 is that it went by too fast… i just cant get over the speed at which it whizzed past…. seems like just yesterday i was bidding farewell to 2008….

I’ve not been too regular with blogging this year… because of work, travel, health and other things that make this life spin around… also, everyday cooking was reduced to just one meal a day because of my bad shoulder, that was sort of the death knell of creativity…at the end of a day, with an aching shoulder, the last thing i wanted was to cook something interesting, relying on the mundane and easy (and the already posted!). And when i did actually make something blog worthy, it ended up not being photographed.

Three significant trips this year have been to Ahmedabad, where i discovered the older parts of the city, Kerala and experiencing Jew Town earlier this month, and the most beautiful and yet humbling trip trekking upto the Valley of Flowers with K in July…..These three have been unforgettable ones…. As i discover places, old and new, they’ve each taught me something new and have a lot and put me back in touch with myself…..I’ve done a year end post on Random Thoughts

K and I have started on a business venture that is one step closer to following our dreams… so far, its been great to see the hard work pay off, but there’s so much more to accomplish in the new year… Wish us luck my dear friends….

I’ve no regrets or disappointments with this year…. but hope that the new one, will be better, brighter, happier more successful and safer for us all as we say farewell to 2009….

I wish you the love of friends and family,  much laughter, peace, love & joy, the friendship of true friends and the courage to face all else that life brings with it……cheers to everything that 2009 was and all the hope that 2010 brings.

Happy New Year….. Lets have a good 2010

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