A British Summer

As they say, enjoy it while it lasts! First time in last 3 years I have witnessed the best summer in London. The transition from the wet, grey and cold to warm, blue and sunny is beautiful. Summer brings along lots of outings and get togethers. Our first summer destination was Wales.

drive-in-wales

It is, the prettiest part of the country, with unlimited breathtaking views. Wales is to United Kingdom as Kerala is to India. Fresh and crisp weather, greenery as far as the eye can see and surrounded by mountains. The drive from London was about 4 and half hours, long but worth it. As soon as you enter Wales you see a remarkable change in the scenery and landscape. The best bit was when we drove on the narrow road with mountain standing high on one side and river flowing on the other. It rained throughout but the rain made the trees and leaves look even more prettier. The whole atmosphere soothes the soul and relaxes your mind.

Well this short trip to Wales only and only makes us want to go back there again and again. After that getaway we have been busy with friends and family. This only means lots of fun, laughter and FOOD!

This seasons top 3 picks are

1. The best brunch recipe – Pancakes All american Style!!all-american-pancakes

  • 200 gm plain flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • 200 ml milk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • to serve – fresh strawberries, banana, fresh cream, nutela, maple syrup

Sift together the flour, baking powder,salt and sugar. In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs and milk to this add the melted butter. Pour this mixture to the dry ingredients. Mix everything very well and let the batter stand for sometime.

In a non stick fry pan add a dollop of the batter and spread to make these pancakes. Once the top starts bubbling add some butter and turn it over to cook the upper side. Cook until both sides are golden brown. Its best served straight from the pan.

Everybody has their own preference of how they like their pancakes, I like mine as a sandwich- spread nutella on one of the pancakes, top it up with sliced banana, strawberries and then cream. Sandwich this with another pancake.

Some people like it simple, just some maple syrup on them. You can have these pancakes as a dessert as well, add some ice cream on the side!!

2. Baked Dark Chocolate cheese cake.

Caution: Get ready to stuff yourself. This can be an overwhelming dessert. Here’s how its done:

  • 400 gm dark chocolatebaked-chocolate-cheese-cake
  • 100 gm milk chocolate
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee
  • 175 gm castor sugar
  • 100 gm butter
  • 200 gm soft cheese (philadelphia)
  • 200 gm double cream
  • 1 pack any chocolate biscuit

Phew! Its a tall order but out comes an absolutely rich and lush dessert so no regrets, right. You deserve to be treated well every once in awhile, at least thats my excuse.

We start with melting half of the dark chocolate using the double boiling method. In a separate pan heat the cream with coffee powder. Grind the chocolate biscuits, you can use the rolling pin or use the dry grinder. Add the melted butter to the crushed biscuit well and transfer it into the bottom of the springform. Once the dish is layered keep it in the fridge for 45 mins to set.

Combine the heated cream with coffee and the melted chocolate. To this mixture add the cocoa powder and 75 gm sugar. Finally, add the cream cheese and mix everything well.

On the earlier prepared biscuit base now add the above chocolate cream cheese mixture. Bake this cake at 200 deg celsius for 65 minutes. Make sure the cake has a jelly like consistency when done.

Lets prepare the icing now, heat the 100 gm of cream and melt the remaining dark chocolate and 100 gm sugar. Once the cake is cooled, pour this icing over the baked cheese cake. Make sure there are no bubbles. Refrigerate this cake at least for 3 hours, overnight is even better. I made this at midnight and woke up to this delish. A very rich scrumptious cheese cake.

3. Mango Raita

Thanks to my dearest friend Nidhi who sent me this recipe. It was an instant HIT! When you hear the name, you just can’t think about the taste, it feels very weird, but this is a must try. Here’s what’s required:

  • 1 ripe mango diced into small cubes.mango-raita
  • 250 ml greek yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi)
  • 1 dried red chilli
  • 1 tbsp oil

Mix the sugar and yoghurt well. Add the diced mango to the sweet yoghurt. In a pan, with some oil add the mustard, methi and dried red chilly. As the seeds begin to splutter, add this to the yoghurt. And yes, thats it! The yummy mango raita is ready.

Its your turn to try these dishes and tell me what your taste buds say.

Oh and thanks for reading!

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Amour à Paris

I always thought Paris to be “city of love”, but just before going there I found out its actually “city of Lights”.city of lights Until I spent a night in Paris, I was unable to understand its meaning. Since forever, I have wanted to go to Paris, and finally it came true. I wanted to plan a whole surprise trip for Yoel but the visa procedures restricted me to do so. The time I was looking up on fares flights seemed to be cheaper but when it actually came to booking it was Eurostar which gave me the best deal. Eurostar, as I had heard was one of the fastest train and goes through a tunnel under the English channel, around 100 m depth and a speed of 300kmph. I was quite fascinated by the fact that the train passes through a tunnel which is beneath the water. To my imagination, it was as if I could see fish around when passing through the tunnel, like in aquariums. But soon I was given a reality check that its just a dark tunnel and takes 25 minutes to get through….hahaha….

Schengen Visa is what we applied for, insurance stands as the main criteria while your visa is being decided. We bought an annual insurance anticipating a 12 month visa and thats what we got. Something funnily interesting happened in the French visa application centre, according to them the Indian church marriage certificate is not valid enough (its a registered marriage certificate). For once my heart sunk, thinking what if I dont get but then just in two days we got our visa. I raced against time to reach the collection centre before they close for the day. Spot on time and I was so glad to see the stamp on our passports.

The Eurostar journey was fast and smooth, within no time we were in paris Nord station.Thanks to the pre-ordered trains tickets, we just had to go to the underground station and map our way to the hotel. The hotel was just 5 minutes walk from the underground metro station. While walking suddenly Yoel stopped to say, “look whose there!!” and I was surprised and puzzled at the thought of who could it be. It was the Eiffel tower saying HELLO.Eiffel tower Its a massive tower- but I was actually not very impressed seeing, it looked like a huge wrought iron structure. Well, moved on with just this thought “is this the Eiffel tower which everyone comes to see in Paris”… reached the hotel, our room had the sienne river view, which was pretty. It so much reminded of Yarra river in Melbourne.

Buildings and architectures in Paris are at their best, be it the churches or museums, or just the street homes or shopping malls. Our first stop was Eiffel Tower. Oh, the crowd was amazing….its a huge open space with thousands of people. We somehow, forgot booking tickets online to climb the tower, looked around for 10minutes and decided we’ll try coming in the next two days. We then headed to the Sacre’-Coeur.Sacre' couer As we got out of the station it felt like a completely different world. We were on a hill and lots of stairs to climb to reach there. We walked through cobbled narrow lanes. Through the lanes we passes several shops selling posters and paintings, also had crepe and ice-cream, yummy!!!. Sacre’-Coeur is supposed to be higher than the Eiffel tower because of its location on the montmartre hill. Several artists have been coming here to paint the view. We just sat on the steps of the building overlooking the city. There was something in the air which rejuvenated the mind and soul. The next morning after a big breakfast we left our hotel to see the Musee’de lourve. It’s famous for its glass pyramid as well as the amazing sculptures of the famous artists and the Monalisa’s painting. the next architectural brilliance is the Notre’ dame. It’s the Gothic catholic cathedral and thus the architecture is amazing with the gothic touch. We caught a train to Notre Dame but due to lot of interchanges thought of walking.Notre' Dame Having no clue how far it would be we just walked along, but this walk was one to remember. After getting out of the metro station we were at the cross way thinking which way to choose and then just started walking across the bridge. The bridges are such that you can walk down and walk on the river bank. Being a beautiful sunny day, people sitting in groups having lunch and lil picnics. The cutest of the crowd was a bunch of few girls celebrating a birthday; they had few balloons tied to a string hung on the tree above. We sat there for a while just soaking ourselves in the happy calm environment before we started again… we walked up the stairs to join the main street, with few directions from people we reached a hustle bustle street- people as far as the eye could see. The street acts were entertaining too, then we could see the cathedral, the church towers were black in color, Yoel was quite freaked, but then the front was very pretty. Again a mighty building standing strong under the blue sky. That evening we had booked for a river cruise to enjoy the lights. The weather was fantastic and cruising along the Sienne River through the lighted city under the bridges is one memorable night. The commentary got a bit annoying, cause we wanted to enjoy the moment rather than the history. The best of all the spots was the Isabella garden on the bank where people from all over come together in the evenings and gather to sing n dance –samba, salsa rumba….it was amazing to see….Paris is so relaxed, people sitting on the banks in the evening and singing or having fun…what more can you ask for on a holiday? We came back to see the beautifully lit up Eiffel tower. The “not –so-impressive” structure in the morning was a wonder at night. There are more than 20,000 bulbs used to light the structure and the Paris government has to put n a lot of money for this consumption of energy but every cent is worth. We walked to the garden in front of the tower. Yet again a relaxed atmosphere people just know how to have fun and enjoy the moment. Every hour the tower has the glittering effect for 5 minutes and then stops…its in these 5 minutes that you can see everyone applauding, couples proposing or kissing….for sure a very romantic city. We lay down in the lawn looking up at the mighty tower and enjoying the lovely moon lit night. We visited a very unique pretty garden which is actually a graveyard, the largest in paris, called Pere Lachaise Cemetery.Beautiful cemetery It has lots of renowned french people buried. We walked around the cemetery, there was a sense of calmness and the bright sun shone all over. The graves were different to what I have seen, they were like little houses.

Moulin Rouge was something I really wanted to see. It’s one of the oldest cabaret in Paris infact the world. The show we saw was the 11pm “ferrie” show, the French cancan. Such pretty, colourful and brilliant performance. It was a great show but had its moments of highs and a few lows. I reminisced the “kingdom of Dreams” in Gurgaon India. I was happy and proud in the end, thinking India’s dance and talent is at par with international talents. Being an old cabaret, it’s pretty cramped and we got our seats in the last row. But as soon as the show started we just were so mesmerised that didn’t bother to think about the seats. Guess this is the affect of brilliance.french cancan

Shopping not being on the list we just walked through the streets and decided then and there, my next trip to Paris would be for shopping. The fashion is so different from UK and Australia, there was no set trend, everyone seemed to be having their own fashion statements. The stores were fantastic too. Food was great. The cafes were so welcoming. I have always enjoyed sitting outdoors in the cafes relishing french cuisine.

Paris has been my most relaxed trip…thousands of things to see and do but here time relaxes too… the whole aura around you is so soothing. There is hustle bustle, crowd around but everyone is enjoying the moment. I can surely say- Paris is my favorite city till now. I guess we ll be hitting the streets of Paris soon..

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English breakfast with a hint of surprise

Eat Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. Great Quote but sadly its just the opposite in my life. No breakfast, lunch and dinner being royale. I have never been a breakfast person, I could never eat anything after waking up, there was always a rush rush from waking up to getting ready and going to school or college or work. Only after getting married and Yoel being so particular about breakfast that I got into this habit. But may be this will only last till I am home. Well now I have enough time to eat right so eating breakfast is a healthy start, though lunch has now lost its importance but dinner still remains the mightiest, the main reason being its the only meal Yoel and I have it together so all the love is bestowed on this meal. Hahaha…

In Melbourne, cafes had all day breakfast and they were just superb. One of my fave cafes being Cerone’s where I had Jean big breakfast (veg) with fresh juice. Even then the breakfast was actually brunch. Its been 8 months in London and I haven’t found a good cafe for breakfast or fresh juice. But finally found a store called Planet Organic which serves juices and yes! its the best match to the taste back in OZland. I had an awesome juicer, Rupa was the first one to buy and then all of us had one at home. My fave juice is apple carrot and orange with ginger, yummy!! A good juicer is on my shopping list.

Saturdays, Yoel makes the breakfast, toast, eggs and baked beans. One day I thought of surprising him with a full english breakfast. Toast, eggs, baked beans, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, sausages with tea or coffee.

Breakfast- all things have to be served hot, so your timing has to be perfect. Ingredients being 2 slices of bread to be toasted. Eggs the way you like it, Yoel likes sunny side up or scrambled while I like a fully done omlette. A can of baked beans, 7-8 pieces of mushroom any kind is fine but I used the small button mushrooms cut into half. 2 sausages -herb and garlic is what I used. Chopped onion, 1tbsp cumin seeds, pepper and salt.

Get your grill ready with the sausages and tomato, while these are grilled, you can start off with the other things. The best way to do the tomatoes is by cutting them into halves. Any tomato can be used as per your choice.  I started off with making the baked beans, take some oil in a pan, add the cumin seed and let it splutter, then add the chopped onions. When then onion is almost done turning pink and transparent add the baked beans, add pepper and salt per taste, let it simmer on low flame. Now, in a small pan add half tsp of butter and add the mushrooms saute them for 3 minutes and they are done. At the same time cook your eggs. All the stuff is cooked at the same time and is hot to be served.Yoel knows me too well, he knew what I was up to. Nevertheless, he enjoyed his breakfast as ever.

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slug and the garden

Being at home, the best hobby I could take up was gardening. I always loved flowers and grew up amidst garden at home be it flowers or vegetables. Spring was the perfect time to start looking after a messed up garden we had. When we moved in, the garden was in a disastrous state, being winters I couldn’t do much. The first Saturday of spring we cleaned up the garden, trimmed the plants, mowed the lawn and tried to set it as best as we could. The only thing missing were the lovely seasonal flowers. Bought bedding flowers and planted them in pots as well in the soil. I was happy seeing each day new flowers blooming. The boundary is lined with roses, we have all colors red, white, yellow and maroon. Infact lately we have stopped buying flowers from the supermarket, cause the garden roses are blooming beautifully. This was the best time to grow a strawberry plant too.

my first strawberry plant...

Each day I took extra care of the strawberry plant. It was great to see the tiny fruits, and then finally saw one fruit turning red. I kept thinking of taking a photo but that didn’t happen. AND today to my surprise the little red strawberry vanished, when I looked closely it was eaten up and yes it was the slug. OH I hate slugs, earlier it destroyed my salad leaves, which I could still resist, but strawberry. I was sad, upset, angry, all emotions of hatred towards the slug. Just like me, the slug was also waiting for the fruit.

emergency evacuation

I at once moved the plant from the soil and planted it in a pot. Not knowing anything about slugs and how to get rid of them, my only answer was GOOGLE. Got to know many ways to get rid of slugs and snails. Best being planting a jar filled with beer in the soil. The slugs like the beer so come to drink it but being deep enough for them, drown n die – awesome trap. Using copper wire and aluminium foil to wind around the plants this disable them to climb up. Tiny pieces of glasses, wood and ashes also don’t allow the slugs rather injure their bodies. These are all home remedies. I remember during childhood, we used to put salt on the snails and they died instantly. Throwing salt on snails and friends does give them a gruesome death but also makes the soil less nutritive and hinders healthy vegetation. Slugs and snails attack only during night so before going to bed if you tour in your garden with a torch it would help spotting them. This might sound crazy but when you lose your fruits and flowers because if these mollusca I am sure you’ll want to protect them.

plants-pots-flowers

Well right now I have moved my pots in the sun room/conservatory. Over the weekend my mission was to find a good slug killer.

I finally did get a slug killer, according to the instructions spread the blue pellets through out the flowering bed. In the morning, I found at least twenty snails lying around, some were dead some were immobile but I had won the battle and I didn’t know the death of few creatures could make me this delighted.

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Creamy Pasta and Strawberries ‘n’ Cream….

Once a week its pasta dinner for us. I have always made tomato based pasta sauces with penne being the favourite choice. Today I wanted to do something different, going beyond my boundary of likes; I made up my mind to make Cream based white pasta sauce. I have never been a fan of milk and dairy based products, though I am fine with yoghurt and whipped cream. I don’t relish puddings no matter how tasty they may be, that’s just me. Well, this is marriage and love I think which made me do it, because Yoel loves white sauce Pasta.

creamy mushroom n chicken pasta

The whole day my research went on, I must have looked on 25 – 30 recipes easily, but was not very happy with any. So I thought of coming up with my own recipe by mixing ingredients my way. This was a bit tough because I didn’t have any reference of the taste. I had always made pasta the easy way using the ready made pasta sauces and then adding my own ingredients to it. But this  one i was cooking from the scratch,  I tried doing my best.

The ingredients being 2 chopped cloves garlic, 4 chopped green chillies, 100gms thinly sliced mushrooms, handful of peas,  200gms diced chicken, 1tsp pepper, 2tbsp olive oil, 1cup milk, 5tbsp double cream, salt to taste, 2 cups (penne) pasta boiled, chopped coriander.

  • Boil the dried penne to almost done (al-dente), drain the hot water and run it under cold water immediately till the water runs clear to prevent the pasta from sticking.
  • On medium flame fry the diced chicken and keep aside.
  • In a deep pan heat olive oil, add garlic and sauté.
  • Add the sliced mushrooms and peas, sauté it well followed by adding the green

    pasta...

    chillies

  • Make sure the mushroom and peas are well cooked
  • Add the cup of milk and bring it to boil and then add the cream.
  • Simmer the mixture to thicken it well, say for 20 minutes.
  • Add salt and pepper as per taste.
  • In a dish place the boiled pasta, mix chilli flakes throughout.
  • Place the chicken over the pasta, and the coriander leaves.
  • After the sauce is done well pour it over the chicken.
  • Grill this pasta for 10 minutes and its ready to serve.
  • Donot forget to sprinkle parmesan.

Creamy yummy pasta is ready. It was yummy but being creamy and milky I didn’t enjoy much but I was happy and satisfied seeing Yoel enjoying it. If you are vegetarian just skip the chicken and add thinly sliced carrots.

There had to be some treat for me, so I thought of the strawberries in my fridge and yes I had the cream too. The best way to enjoy British summer is Strawberries n Cream. Wimbledon is famous for its strawberries and cream, I was late to apply for the tickets, so next year will have it there. I have loved strawberry picking in Melbourne. Have been there twice, a strawberry farm called “Sunny Ridge”. It just beautiful and the whole activity is yummy. You are advised not to eat strawberries while picking but the scenario is so opposite people pick and eat and why not, they are so irresistible. This is surely one of my recommended place to visit, if you are going to Melbourne (Australia) during December January.

I did easy way, wash and halve the strawberries. Add 1 tsp sugar to 120ml of double cream and whip it well. Add the Strawberries and site back and enjoy. I can assure you will go for a second serving.

Strawberries n Cream

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Moviethon vs Eatethon

Wednesday is movie day for me, because of the awesome deal buy 1 get 1 ticket free. So few Wednesdays ago we went for Fast 5. This was my first Fast and Furious movie. I have always been an avid fan of cars and speed; here you have the complete formula. Vin Diesel was a treat, in fact all the characters played their best oh and yes the cars were just marvellous. I loved the whole film in and out. There was not a moment devoid of thrill and momentum. The movie was so much fun and we were so engrossed into it that eating popcorn took a back seat. After the movie both Yoel and me were laughing thinking how the “bad guys” alike Robin Hood are so cool, be it Chul-bul Pandey or Dom and Brian. It’s always these guys who appeal more to the crowds and we love to be like them. Hahaha….this also reminds me of this Sunday’s sermon which said “bad things come to us naturally, it’s only the good things that we have to learn or are taught. But we are released from all our sins just by believing in Jesus Christ who is our saviour”.

After watching this movie and enjoying it to the core, Yoel got me all the previous parts; we planned a Fast and Furious marathon with two of our friends. Come Saturday, I cooked pav bhaji and friends got yummy calorie-licious, trifle. Trifle always reminds me of Lea, friend and co-worker in Melbourne. In fact, Lea is nicknamed the “trifle queen” for the very reason. This trifle was also awesome, thanks to Rizwan and Sobia. It was a fun fast and furious day. We started off with the first part at around 2pm and finished at 11pm at night. So yes 9 hours of thrill, speed, and adrenaline rush, Vin Diesel, laughter, talks and FOOD….Great Saturday in all.

Pav Bhaji… a yummy vegetarian dish cooked in heaps and heaps of butter. But yesterday to make it healthy I cooked in oil rather than butter. Its a very simple dish.

  • Boil 4 potatoes and 2 carrots
  • In a frying pan, fry chopped onions and a tbsp of ginger-garlic paste
  • Add chopped capsicum and sauté it for 3 minutes
  • Add chopped tomatoes and cook for the next 3 minutes
  • 3 tbsp of pav bhaji masala (Indian grocery store)
  • Add handful of pea and small pieces of cauliflower
  • When all this is cooked add the mashed boil potatoes and carrots
  • Put half a cup of water and let it boil off
  • Garnish it with coriander leaves and less salt to taste

Serve it with hot grilled pav (buns) and fresh chopped onions and coriander.

A yummy , palatable and fulfilling dinner.

This pav Bhaji masala can also be made at home using cumin powder, coriander powder, amchur, garam masala and chilli powder.

This Wednesday, it was time to again go crazy with the “Wolf Pack”, Hangover 2. Oh hilarious movie. The best part are the dialogues and Allan’s attitude. The story line remains the same but the experiences and adventures are humourous. Must watch, do not compare with the first one, just go and have a good laugh…more

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Dont Fear….Chutneys Here!!!

home made chutnies

mint-tamarind-corriander-mango

Chutneys are the best condiments, make it once and they last forever. The best thing about chutneys is you can eat it with anything and everything. In the past 3 months I have made 4 kinds of chutney. Mango, Mint, Coriander and Tamarind chutneys. Oh the sweet sour taste is delicious. Can be eaten with a slice of bread, roti or paratha, is great when you make chat, dahi wada or even with rice and dal.

Mango Chutney, ingredients being 2 raw mangoes (medium sized), 150gms jaggery, handful curry leaves, cumin seeds, mustard seeds(optional), 1 tbsp chilli powder, pinch of salt, 1 tsp oil.

  • Grate the raw mangoes.
  • In a pan heat oil and add cumin seeds and curry leaves, let them splutter
  • Add the grated mango, sauté it for 5 minutes
  • Add the jaggery and chilli powder and keep stirring it thoroughly
  • Add the pinch of salt; add more or less jaggery and chilli powder according to your taste.

If you running late to work and no time for breakfast spread this mango chutney over a slice of bread, it does the magic.

Coriander Chutney, ingredients beings 1 bunch of coriander, half onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 big red tomato, green chilly (can add more according to preference) pinch of salt, 100 ml of water.

The method is easy. In a grinder clean and chop the coriander leaves getting rid of the thick stems only. Put everything in the jar and grind it. Add salt according to taste and same with chilli. This chutney is best with Khichdi.

Mint Chutney, ingredients being 1 bunch of fresh mint leaves, 1tsp cumin seeds, ½ inch long ginger, 2 garlic cloves, 1tbp sugar,3 green chillies,2tbsp yoghurt, salt to taste. The method is again simple and quick by grinding all the above ingredients together. This mint chutney is great with all hot snacks like pakoras or kebabs etc. This chutney can be served with or without adding yoghurt, yoghurt makes the chutney creamy.

Tamarind Chutney, ingredients being 150gms of tamarind, 300gms jaggery, 1tbsp cumin seeds, 1tsp red chilli powder, 1cup hot water.

  • Soak the tamarind in water for half an hour and deseed the tamarind.
  • Roast the cumin seeds and keep aside.
  • Add a cup of water in a saucer and add the ready tamarind, start to boil.
  • When the tamarind is about to boil add the roasted cumin seeds, jaggery and chilli powder.
  • Add salt to taste, boil all the ingredients together to form a smooth paste.

Let it cool for few minutes, then pour into a bottle and store in the fridge.

the yummies

Remember, before you reach for that ketchup bottle to go with your snack there is one of these homemade yummies at your tongue’s disposal.

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