Jun
29

Harp – Book Review (BlogAdda)

First of all thanks to Blogadda for this opportunity and the patience they have showed. I feel terrible that I could not complete my review in the time they had requested. My work and personal commitments + travel took up most of my time in the last month. These are the most busy times at work and I found it difficult to devote time to the book and then write the review.

I volunteered for the program with intention of getting back to blogging + increasing my reading which has slackened severely in the last few years. I envy those who can manage work, travel, and finish books in the time one takes to finish off biscuits. When Blogadda tweeted about wanting bloggers residing in Europe to be part of the book review, I decided to volunteer , wondering what the topic of the book would entail.

The premise of Harp by Nidhi Dalmia seemed very interesting. The setting in the late 60s – a time when India was in teens and her young generation was eager to seek adventure in the western world. The young breaking free from the norm and the age old traditions. A rebellious streak, a daring to try something anew and nursing a fearless craving to travel the world. The setting Europe – which has some of the most beautiful places on the planet.

Ashok the protagonist , born in an educated business family, joins his father’s Dairy products factory soon after college. He is the only son with two sisters and enjoys many privileges compared to his sisters, given the attitude of parents & society to sons vs.. Girls. Much against his parent’s wishes, he earns his scholarships and ventures out to Europe, to intern at different dairy companies. And on this journey, he encounters many a romantic adventures.

This is where my interest stopped, I waited for Ashok’s character to build up, his romantic affairs, the build up to meeting different women on his journey, establishing a reason to get together, his struggles in the new land, far away from the comforts of home or his relationships with his parents and sisters. I barely read through 30% of the book – neither did the language work for me nor the characters; I kept waiting for the story to take a turn.

Europe has some of the most picturesque towns and cities and I was most disappointed that the author did not manage to bring alive the beauty of the surroundings in her book. I kept craving for the minor details that would paint the romantic setting associated with most places in Europe. The writing was immature , where the story had a stop-start-stop-start narrative. The sentences felt cut and there seemed no flow from one sentence to the other. If this was a first attempt, it surely needed lots of editing. Ashok’s character seemed weak, more driven by lust than love or genuine attraction. His interests were randomly established and just felt forced when he met the women. I did not feel any connection or curiosity to what happens next with the central characters.

I did try my best to give this book a shot to complete but I just could not. If the book is good, you will find a way from the busy schedules to complete it but sadly Harp did not motivate me enough to finish it. I hope the next books I volunteer to read for this program manage to hold my interest for a longer time than Harp did.

Oct
08

Baked eggs in Avocado

Since we are on avocado , here is my next love – Eggs! I have never figured out how folks survive without eggs – there are so many ways to make them and have them. So one of my colleagues mentioned to me that she had scrambled eggs and avocado one day for breakfast; and could not stop thinking about me given my love for both these food items. This was stuck in my head and I kept wondering how could I combine the two instead of making separate items. So I thought what if I bake the egg in avocado, and then all I did was checked online if avocados could be baked directly in the oven and viola!

I took 2 avocados (ripe) and cut them in half. Removed the seed and scooped the flesh out leaving a thin layer on the skin. I sliced out a small portion from the oval skin portion from behind so there was a flat base for the halves to stay steady on the tray without the egg mix spilling out. In another bowl, I took 2 eggs, added milk, italian herbs, chilli flakes, coarse black pepper and salt to taste. Mixed well and poured it steadily with a spoon in the split avocado halves.

I had pre-heated the oven at 180 degrees and then put the tray with the avocados inside. I kept them in till the egg mix was well cooked. Once the layer was formed and solid I removed the tray from the oven. Of the scooped out avocado made quick guacamole to serve on the side. The result in 20 minutes preparation time below – another quick fix delicious appetiser for any avocado-egg lovers you know and a good item to convert new folks to avocado-egg lovers !

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P.s: You can also add mozzarella cheese as a topping when the egg is about to be cooked. Melted cheese just adds more yumminess to the already tasty dish!

Oct
08

Roasted Potatoes with Guacamole & Hummus

My latest addiction (ever since I got to London) is Avocado. I love all things avocado and guacamole. In fact, my sister is jokes that I will stuff it into any food item just so that I can make an excuse for a new dish attempted! I also love potatoes – I mean who does not? Roasted, mash, boiled, fried, as a veggie , in biryaani,  in prawns or chicken/mutton/kheema curry – I love potatoes in all forms.  So I was thinking how can I combine these two items and hunted for some recipes online to chance upon the one below with the added delicacy of hummus!

I took 4 medium sized potatoes and semi-boiled them, soft enough to scoop out the insides to form 2 equal hollow portions from each potato. Then rubbed some olive oil, rock salt, coarse pepper and italian herbs (dry mix of basil, oregano and parsley) to them. Then I put them on a baking tray and placed them in a pre-heated oven (180 degree celcius) and kept them in for 20-25 mins till they turned light brown.

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Then I mixed guacamole and hummus (bought the ready mixes available in Marks&Spencer Food). You can even make them at home – recipes easily available online.

Then I stuffed the hollow potatoes with the above mix, topped the stuffing with half sliced cherry tomatoes and some cheese to serve it as a perfect appetizer.

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Try it out – the hot potato + cold guacamole/hummus combination is absolutely delicious and one of the easiest starters to make when hosting a party!

Aug
14

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

If you have ever chanced upon this blog and landed up on this post and yes this one too from my cricket blog – you should not be surprised when I tell you that I can’t wait to watch this movie! 

http://youtu.be/w_Ky4KPzKwY
It releases this weekend. Cavill here & Fassbender in the latest X-Men edition are competing for too much panache in their movies – it is too much to handle! 

Jul
22

Slam Books

As years go by you can only dig them up and read the wonderful words everyone wrote and the promises made ………..only to realise none of those mean anything, anymore to anyone who wrote them and you are clinging on to threads broken a long time ago! 

Apr
28

Garides Saganaki

We have a delicious family-run Greek food restaurant Mosfilo near our place. I tried the Garides Saganaki (shrimp saganaki) and fell in love with it. I have been wanting to try this dish at home for ages since I first tasted it. I hunted for the recipe online and found many variations and finally attempted it at home. It is an extremely easy recipe. This is the recipe on YouTube I followed and here is the final result:

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Garides Saganaki

Apr
28

Chicken Enchiladas

For a quick fix dinner on a work evening – this dish turns out filling and very easy to make. 

Main Stuffing :

Boil chicken cubes 3/4th in hot water with 1/2 chicken stock. Heat 2 tablespoon olive oil in a pan and sauté crushed garlic (3-4 cloves) , fine chopped onions (2 small) red/green/yellow pepper (one each) fine chopped, canned tomatoes, salt, add chicken , spicy fajita mix , chilli flakes, oregano and fresh parsley. Then add 2 cups of chicken stock, let it simmer, once water dries out half way add sour cream and some tomato sauce, let it cook on slow flame. Add cheddar/mozorella cheese to the mix. 

White Sauce

Heat 1 ½ tablespoon of butter in a small vessel, add 1 ½ table spoon of maida (Wheat Flour) and stir well. The mixture should stay in liquid state. Then close the stove, let it cool down a bit and then add cold milk, shredded mozzarella cheese, salt and pepper. Mix well to form thick white sauce.

Enchiladas:

Take tortillas ( I used the wheat ones here) , spread butter, put chicken mix,white sauce, corn and cheese.
Fold and place on baking tray, add remaining white sauce, gravy sauce , cheese and bake for 15 minutes

   
 

Apr
28

Avengers : Age of Ultron

I do write about movies that I hate and vent my frustration here, like the time I wrote about Cocktail & Bodyguard; but you can imagine how bad the recent edition of Avengers was that I don’t even feel like venting it out against it. Maybe I have attended a zen like state in ignoring bad movies or maybe it was so damn yawn worthy that it is not even worthy of my rants anymore. I’m so disappointed with this Marvel edition that I would rather watch Dolly ki Doli once more. 

Jan
13

My comfort food – Cauliflower and White Peas Veggies

As much as I love non-veg, I love my Maharashtrian veg food. My mumma makes these two awesome simple delicacies which take minimal effort and time. These are cooked without onion and garlic and serve as excellent veggies to make on days you fast and need to break the fast with foods without onions and garlic.

Cauliflower Veggie

Ingredients
500 gms of cauliflower chopped into small buds
Turmeric – 1 tsp
Kala masala – 2/3 tbsp depending on how spicy you want. If you don’t have this famous Maharashtrian spice powder substitute it with a mix of red chilly powder and Garam masala in 2:1 proportion.
Salt to taste
Sugar – 1/2 tsp
Coriander and fresh grated coconut to garnish
Oil – 1-2 tbsp

Method
Marinate the chopped cauliflower with salt, sugar, turmeric and kala masala.
Set it aside for 15-20 minutes.
Heat oil in a wok/kadai and add the cauliflower once oil has heated well. This dish tastes better with a little bit extra oil.
Set the gas on medium flame and place a lid (preferably a big steel plate) with water on the lid.
Keep checking after 5-7 minutes, stir to avoid it from sticking to the pot and reduce the flame.
The vegetable should be well cooked in about 20-25 minutes.
Garnish with fine chopped coriander and a dash of freshly grated coconut .

Best had with varan-bhaat (traditional marathi daal and rice).

White Peas in Green Masala

Ingredients

White peas – 1 cup soaked overnight or minimum 8 hours
Green paste – 14-15 coriander sticks with 2-3 green chillies ground to a fine paste in the mixer.
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Asafoetida – 1/2tsp
Turmeric – 1tsp
Freshly grated coconut – 1 cup
Oil – 1-2 tbsp
Curry leaves – 6-8 pieces
Tamarind and Jaggery pulp: 1tbsp tamarind & equal quantity of jaggery, mix and soak it in water in a small cup.

Method
Ideally cook this dish directly in pressure pan or cooker (small size of 1.5-2 ltr). Heat oil in the pressure pan. For seasoning add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafoetida, turmeric , green chilly paste and curry leaves. Add salt and sauté the mixture, add the White peas , add warm water and bring it to boil in the cooker. If you have a normal gas 2-3 whistles suffice but if you are stuck with hot plate like I’m currently with, try atleast 5-6 whistles. Taking too many whistles may result in melting the peas completely ruining the taste entirely.
Let the mixture simmer down and once the vapours have died down, open the pressure cooker.
Now add the tamarind and jaggery pulp and then the freshly grated coconut . Bring to boil to your desired thickness for the next 4-5 minutes.

Serve with hot chapattis ( wheat bread )

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Jan
12

Lemon and Butter Garlic Prawns

Mahesh Lunch Home is the super famous seafood restaurant from Mumbai based in Fort Area and last year opened a branch in Dubai. We moved from Dubai but managed to visit it a couple of times. MDH loves their speciality Crab in Lemon & Butter Garlic sauce while I crave the Prawns with the same mix.

I have been craving this dish for long now and decided to go ahead and use my decent cooking knowledge and try this dish out at home. It wasn’t as picture perfect as the one served in the restaurant but I kid you not it was quite close in taste 🙂

Ingredients
Mid-sized Prawns : 15-20
Garlic cloves medium-sized: 10-12
Crushed Black Pepper : 1 tsp
Lemon : 1 tablespoons
Butter : 2-3 tablespoons
Green Chillies : 3-4 fine chopped
Olive Oil: 1tsp
Salt to taste,
Spring Onion Greens to garnish

Method
Fine chop half the garlic cloves and crush the remaining with a garlic crusher. Heat the butter in a pan, as it starts frothing add olive oil and then add the garlic. Sauté it till they turn slightly light brown, add the fine chopped green chillies , and salt and continue to sauté. After 5 minutes, add the prawns and mix well. Then add crushed pepper, at this point if you feel the butter is drying up you can add some more. Then add lemon juice and stir the mixture till you get your desired thickness. Sprinkle the spring onion greens on top and serve.

The taste is amazing , try it and let me know how it turns out. The dish takes only 15-20 minutes of your time.

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