Save Water

Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink.

I recently lost my grandma. We had a small gathering at my mom’s place followed by lunch. Like any other get-together we planned this one to every small detail. We planned the food, hot and cold beverages. When it came to water we chose water bottles. I was so against using water bottles. On the day of he funeral almost half the water bottles went to trash with water. Bottled water was completely out of necessity since the power was out and we needed clean drinking water. So as a last resort we went with water bottles. I did see half the bottle went as waste. We did end up pouring the left out water for plants. Seeing so much drinking water go to waste when people around the world are struggling to get a glass of water is heartbreaking.

Again for the memorial gathering too many bottles went to waste. More than the funeral day. It’s sad to see kids where not taught to use water efficiently. Almost couple dozen of water bottles were thrashed 3/4th full. Again bottled water was to make our life easier. It became a trend. I failed to convince my family to serve water in glasses. I am never going to order water bottles for gatherings.

Please do think twice before getting bottles for any gathering or have to get creative to help people not to waste water. Please do educate kids to use water conservatively.

Soy Soi, Kotturpuram

My pregnancy cravings is all over the place. I did have pizza dreams all during my second trimester. When I entered third trimester I started craving for something spicy, tangy, creamy and fresh. All I wanted is Thai food, especially red curry and sticky rice.

I did have some bad experience with Thai food in Chennai. Finding a decent red curry was not easy. We have driven by Soy Soi so many times. One weekend either of us wasn’t in a mood to cook and in a whim we decided go for a lunch date. Food was amazing.

We ordered Chicken Dim Sum, Shrimp Satay, Red Curry and Coconut Pana cotta. Dim Sum was fresh. Be patient before you taste the Dim Sum, it was steaming hot and burnt my tongue. It was worth though. Whenever Andy has an exciting food experience he has that goofy content face.

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Shrimp Satay was pungent and spicy. Not too spicy, I don’t do spicy well. It was different from regular Satay. For past few months I have restrained myself from ordering mocktails or iced tea while having food. But the cucumber cooler sounded good for the third-trimester hot flash. It was so cooling and refreshing. The red curry was mild and fragrant full, perfect with sticky rice. By far the only good red curry we ever had in Chennai.

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The Coconut Pana Cotta is a must try. Perfect ending for lunch. The Kaffir Lime syrup complimented the creamy Coconut Pana Cotta.

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The whole experience at Soy Soi was amazing. The staffs were great and the food was yummy. Looking for Pan-Asian food in Chennai, visit Soy Soi.

 

Address:

2/10, Gandhi Mandapam Rd, Chitra Nagar,

Kotturpuram, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600085

 

 

 

 

Amazing food @ a mesmerizing stay

You might wonder why am I writing about a resort under good eats. Let me explain in a brief back story. Andy and myself know zero hindi except few words here and there. So touring in Northern part of India is clearly out of list. We just wanted a weekend break with a road-trip and a fancy hotel room. Also no steep mountains, since it’s the first long drive experience for Andy in Indian mountains. Well he did his fair share of funny things near the hotel entrance which was steep. It was literally ROFL time. Well our Swift and Andy handled it like a pro.

Thekkady seemed like a safe choice. Almost ten hours drive from Chennai. Thekkady is a small town with a natural mix of two southern states. We stayed in a mesmerizing hotel, Hills & Hues Resort. The room was just amazing with a 180 degree view. The staffs were great.

Next the food. Most hotels serve a breakfast buffet, it’s merely a 50/50 chance of tasting good. Hills & Hues served made to order eggs and a choice of Indian breakfast. It was yummy. You wouldn’t expect the food to taste good in a hotel. We actually over ate. But it worked since we were roaming a lot and the jeep ride too. It was around 3 when finally found decent restaurant to have lunch. If your staying at this resort I would suggest having all three meals there. We also ordered dinner with roti, veg kurma and the best tasting fish curry. The fish curry was out of the world experience. I have tasted too many varieties of Kerala fish curry. But this was the best fish curry. Actually the staff suggested the fish curry. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures of the food. But it’s a must stay hotel for a luxury experience. Amidst the lush green forest is the pearl of Zen hotel.

I would just go back for their fish curry and the room. You will find good deals at travel websites. Take a break from your busy schedule and stay at this resort. It’s just beautiful. I could enjoy the view all day long with some steamed rice and fish curry.

That’s Andy, at breakfast area.

The next morning we chose to have breakfast out with a view.

For more info:

http://www.hillsandhues.com/

Creamy coconut fish curry

If its a seafood, it a no questions asked situation in our home. Andy and I love our seafood. The spicy, tangy tamarind fish curry is just heaven in a plate. But i wanted to try something different and a creamy sauce for the fish. Since we live near the ocean we get fresh fish every single day. We do take benefit of the fresh fish as often as possible. So one weekend I went for a new recipe, than the usual tamarind fish curry.  It is similar to Kerala coconut fish curry but I changed few ingredients for my taste. It was just yum!

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Ingredients,

Fish – 750 g ( I used Kaala fish, You can use any fish that holds its shape after cooking)

Red onion – 1 cup, finely chopped

Ginger Garlic paste – 1 tbsp

Green chilli – 2 slit

Coriander powder – 1 tbsp

Red chilli powder – 1 tbsp

Turmeric powder – 1 tsp

Thick coconut milk – 1 cup

Thin coconut milk – 2 cups

Thick tamarind paste – 1 tbsp

Curry leaves – a handful

Salt to taste

Note: Wash the fish thoroughly, marinate with salt and turmeric.

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Preping,

In medium flame, add a tbsp of coconut oil or vegetable oil. Saute onions, curry leaves and green chilli for two minutes or until onions get translucent. Add the ginger-garlic paste and saute it, until the raw smell has gone. It will take about 2 minutes.

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Add in the Red chilli, coriander and turmeric powder, saute for a minute in low flame.

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Now add the thin coconut milk,  let it simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the tamarind paste. Slowly drop the fish into the simmering coconut milk. The fish will be cooked in 10 minutes.

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Once the fish is cooked. Pour the cup of thick coconut milk. Simmer for five minutes.

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Creamy fish curry is ready. Indulge in the coconut creaminess.

Me Before You – a soul touching novel

I am one of the sucker for Game of Thrones, especially Khaleesi.  When I saw Khaleesi’s (Emilia Clark) picture on the book cover, I had to get the novel. Andy convinced me to get Kindle version. But I love to hold a book and read. Known fact that I am going to clutter by buying books, but I have a strong connection with the books that I collect. I have always had a hard time letting go of books. Little I knew that he surprised buying that novel for my birthday the very next week. Andy is not big on surprises, we went for a romantic dinner and when we came home he asked me to open the car dashboard. There it was, ‘Me Before You’. Totally surprised. I read this novel long back, but the narration stuck in my heart that I had to write about ‘Me Before You’. I am not going to review this book, just sharing how I felt while reading this book. This isn’t a new novel, it’s been there while. I would have never purchased unless for Emilia’s picture on the cover. I know there is going to be a movie and wanted to read it before the movie is released.

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Me Before You is one such book that makes you travel the whole story, page by page and line by line.   Mainly involves two characters Louisa Clarke and will Traynor. Louisa is fondly known ‘Lou’ in the whole novel.  Lou is a cheerful and zany caregiver for Will. Will was a successful banker who is paralyzed after an accident.  Cute story with a beautiful ending. You will know that Lou fell in love with Will, waiting to know when Lou will realize is something magical. There are only handful of stories that you don’t want to end, for me this is one of those novels. Am not going to give you any spoilers, this story will definitely make you cry at the climax. It is a feel good story, read it when you’re low or feeling lonely. Trust me you will feel good about yourself.

Buy here: Amazon

Honey Cupcake

Yum! It brings back so many memories. Honey cake is a standard cake in all the bakeries in India. It is such an easy cake to make. You can make Honey Cake in big pans as well. I like making them as cupcakes. It is nothing but a twist to regular sponge cake or pound cake. You can either make this cake from scratch or you can use a store bought cake. Rest of the ingredients are so simple: Honey, rose water, strawberry jam and desiccated coconut.

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Ingredients for Cake,

3/4  cups all-purpose flour

1  tsp baking powder

1 large egg, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup milk

 

Prepping,

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Swift the all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt together. Keep it aside.Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy and aerated.

Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy and aerated.

Note: You can increase the amount of sugar you want. I am adding less sugar because of the syrup and jam that I will be adding later.

Add the egg and vanilla extract. Beat until all the ingredients are combined.

Add all-purpose flour and milk little by little. Do not over beat the batter.

Line a cupcake tray with liners. Scoop in the batter. You can fill 6 cupcake liners. Bake them for 15 -18 mins or until a toothpick comes clean.  While the cupcake is oven you can make the syrup and glaze.

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Once done. Transfer the cupcakes to cooling rack. Let them cool for 5 minutes.

 

Ingredients for Syrup and Glaze,

1/4 cup of honey

1 tsp of rose water

1/2 cup of water

1/4 cup of strawberry jam

1/4 cup of desiccated coconut

Prepping,

In a sauce pan just warm up the honey, rose water and water in a saucepan for about 5 minutes in a medium flame.

Melt the jam over the stove at a medium flame. It will take only 2 minutes or just microwave for a minute.

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Make few holes in cupcakes using a toothpick.

Spoon the syrup over each cupcake generously. Cupcakes should be soaked completely. Let it sit for ten minutes. Don’t worry if your cupcake liner is getting wet.

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Spoon the jam over the cupcakes like a glaze.

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Sprinkle desiccated coconut.

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Honey Cupcake is done.

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So moist and sweet!!! You have to try it. It’s one of a kind cake.

Cashew Macarons

Cashew Macarons is a piece of nostalgia for me. As long as I could remember I used to buy these macarons from our local bakery. It was the only biggest bakery (Lakshmi Bakery) in my hometown. For more than 25 years they have maintained their quality. I used to go there so often that I invited the owners for my wedding. They are really sweet people.

I have visited almost every french bakery in LA, searching for these cashew macarons. I gave up and made some by myself. Of course, it doesn’t taste like the one from Tuticorin but got the local bakery taste. I kept staring at the oven, for more than an hour. I just wanted to get it right. Waited till my husband came home and he did the taste test. First of all, he was surprised that I got it right. I know it is just a macaron but I was so pleased and excited that it tasted perfect.

Ingredients,

4 egg whites

3/4 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of coarsely ground cashews

Note:

I like my sweets less sweet. You can add up to 1 cup of sugar if you want. 

Prepping,

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

In a bowl add the egg whites and start beating. Once the egg white started to froth, add sugar little by little. Continue beating the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed.dsc_1054

Fold in the cashews.

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Fill a Ziploc bag or a piping bag with big round nozzle.  Start piping the meringue in a pyramid shape.

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Hey! don’t judge me, I have bad piping skills.dsc_1059Bake it for about 1.5 hours to two hours. Mine took 2 hours. Keep an eye on it. Once the bottom crisps and comes off easily from the parchment, then your macarons are done.

Let it cool down completely before tasting.

dsc_1063It is my memory, try it and let me know.

Breakfast at ‘Chocolatine’

Chocolatine is a beautiful and a very cute French Cafe. The second you open the door, you will be hit with the beautiful aroma of coffee and pastries. You will feel as if your walking in a lane with rows of bakery and coffee shop. Host was really great and the owners were creative to post the story behind their cafe.

Okay, am gonna start talking about the food we ordered. I had cappuccino and Andy had mocha. I don’t think have to explain, the picture speaks for itself. Look at the cup, it looks so pretty.

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Andy was so excited to have his mocha, he couldn’t wait until I took a picture.

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Of course, you got to order the crepe when in a ‘French Cafe’. I had the yummiest strawberry crepe. Crepe here had the perfect amount of sweetness, not too sweet.

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Andy had ‘Croque Roast Beef’, I am not a fan of beef in general. But Andy was persistent in me taking a bite. Yep it was yummy. One bite changed to two, three, four… Andy was happy that I was open to trying beef in ‘Chocolatine’. Thoughtful presentation.

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Apart from breakfast and brunch, they had petite pastries, chocolate, macaroon and meringue.

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My favorite Macaroon…20160813_103400

I picked up a few.20160813_181120

‘Chocolatine’ is like a Little France.

 

Chocolatine address: 2955 E Thousand Oaks Blvd, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

Menu: www.chocolatine.net

Chocolatine is an experience!

 

 

Almond Butter Toast

You want pretty, quick and filling breakfast. I got you covered. It is just a toast, but looks like you made an effort. Trust me, this toast will satisfy your eyes as well as your hunger. Am not gonna keep chatting. Will go straight to the recipe, cause it is so simple.

Ingredients,

2 slices of Bread (Preferably whole wheat)

2 Tbsp of Almond butter or Peanut butter

1 Tsp of Honey or Maple syrup (Optional if you’re using sweetened nut butter)

½ cup of sliced strawberries

½ cup of sliced bananas

 

I always use natural peanut or almond butter. The label of ingredients should say just almonds or peanuts. No nasty sweeteners of any kind. It helps me to control the amount of sugar in my breakfast or baked goods. It’s easy.

Put your bread in the toaster and slice the fruits needed.

Spread the butter evenly.

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Top the toast with sliced fruits.

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Drizzle the honey.

DSC_0263You have a yummy and pretty breakfast.

Note: For extra crunch and protein you can sprinkle some chia seed.

Breakfast!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian Roasted Chickpeas

I need a crunchy snack. Chips!!! I would love to nibble some salt and vinegar potato chips. But I am going to feel guilty later. I need crunchy, spicy and guilt free snack. Have been trying few healthy snacks say, veggies with hummus, veggies with hot sauce and mixed nuts. I also tried the sweet versions, peanut butter, dried fruits and fruits with yogurt. I just wanted to have a cheat snack, need a crunch.

Finally I found it, since then its been my holy grail of spicy and crunchy snack. All you need is chickpeas and seasoning. Mix it and roast them. You can use all types of spices and herb. I am going with my roots, Indian Spices. Hot and aromatic is what I was going for.

Ingredients,

1 cup of Chickpeas, cooked

1 tsp of Chili Powder

½ tsp of Garam Masala

½ tsp of Garlic Powder

A pinch of Hing / Asafoetida

 A pinch of Turmeric

1 tbsp of Olive Oil

Salt to taste

Preping,

Preheat oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

If your using canned chickpeas, drain and rinse the chickpeas. Use a paper towel or kitchen towel, pat dry the chickpeas. Let it air dry for 30 minutes.

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I used dry chickpeas and cooked them. I soaked dry chickpeas for 4 hours, pressure cooked (Medium flame, 1 whistle and let it rest). Drain, pat dry and also air dry.

Mix rest of the ingredients together. Line a baking pan with baking sheet or aluminum foil.

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Transfer the chickpeas to the baking pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes, shake the pan every 10 minutes. Heat could vary for different ovens. Roast until golden and crunchy.

Suggestions:

Use garlic powder instead of fresh garlic. Fresh garlic will burn quickly. 

Use lemon zest instead of lemon juice. Tastes better than using lemon juice. 

For easy spice, use just chat masala and salt. 

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Let it cool down and store in an air tight container. It will stay crunchy for a week. Crunch it away. Guiltless.