There’s no doubt that Sage is my favourite muse and I dont tire of clicking his pictures. Those who follow my Instagram feed will know! Here’s a picture of him taken in August when we traveled to Coorg. He stole this pile of weeds from the ladies who were weeding the garden.
Category Archives: travel
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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…
It was a superb impromptu vacation. To see a part of the country you didn’t know what to expect from. It was so wonderful and exciting, that i even forgot to fuss over turning a year older!! We had a lovely time, i came back with fabulous memories, a tonne of photographs, the joy of having met a dear friend and gratitude for my namesake who graciously opened her home to K and me. Also came back with severe sun burn (the skin on my neck is still peeling) and K is a little under the weather! I hope to blog about all the places we saw in a while. for now, let me just say, much as i had a fabulous time, coming back home after literally sleeping in a new bed each night was so wonderful!
For now, since K is down with a cold and little bit of fever post this hectic trip and the weather in Hyderabad has pleasantly cooled off to welcome the not so heavy rains, i decided to make a simple vegetable soup / broth with noodles. i never quite liked chicken soup even when i was a meat eater, preferring to have the vegetable version of it always. now that i am vegetarian, i am a little amazed at the flavours the soup takes on. I’d like to feed this soup to all those people who think vegetables and particularly soup made from them will only be tasteless.
This is a real easy and simple soup and can be made with any veggies you may have at hand. Plus its kind of like and open and shut case. Just toss everything you need into a pot (I used a pressure cooker), let it all cook and simmer for 15-20 minutes while you go and refresh yourself after a hard day’s labour and dinner is ready!
Noodle Soup (Ingredients make for 2 Large servings)
1/2 cup diced onion
1 cup ripe tomatoes, diced
1 cup vegetables of choice (i used florets of cauliflower and diced carrots)
21/2 cups water
salt to taste
1/2 tsp butter or olive oil
1/2 tsp finely chopped ginger and garlic
5-6 black peppercorns, crushed
6-7 fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 cup cooked noodles, i used the flat instant variety
method: heat the pressure pan and add the butter / olive oil. add the onions and other veggies and saute till the onions are just changing colour. add the ginger and garlic and saute another few seconds. add the tomatoes, water, crushed pepper and salt to taste. cover and cook till the vegetables are just cooked. i cooked it under pressure for one whistle.
open the cooker and check for seasoning. add the cooked noodles, add the chopped mint leaves and simmer about 2-3 minutes. Serve hot.
If you want more liquid and less noodles, adjust accordingly.