Coconut & Mango Pulav

Coconut and mango is a classic combination, one that is much loved. The two flavours marry beautifully, which is why they are found together in many dishes like Sticky Rice With Mango, Mango & Coconut Smoothie, Mango & Coconut Bliss Balls, and the like. The dish I present to you today – Coconut & Mango Pulav – uses this classic ingredient combination again, in a very Indian way.

This Coconut & Mango Pulav tastes lovely. The coconut flavour comes from fresh coconut milk, and I have used some of the dried, sugared mangoes that I picked up while holidaying in Thailand recently. I tried out this pulav recently at home on a whim, and it was an instant hit with everyone.

This is a pressure-cooker dish, a one-pot meal that can be put together in mere minutes. It makes for a different-from-the-usual lunch or dinner, perfect for busy weekdays or lazy weekends. Kids will love this Coconut & Mango Pulav – mine did!

Let’s now see how to make this Coconut & Mango Pulav, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 3):

  1. 1 cup rice
  2. 1 cup thick coconut milk
  3. 4-5 beans
  4. 1 medium-sized onion
  5. 1 small carrot
  6. 2 tablespoons shelled green peas
  7. 4 green chillies
  8. Salt to taste
  9. 1 tablespoon oil
  10. 2 small bay leaves (tej patta)
  11. 4 cloves (laung)
  12. 4 cardamom pods (elaichi)
  13. A 1-inch piece of cinnamon (dalchini)
  14. 4 large pieces of dried mango (with sugar)
  15. 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

  1. We will first prepare all the vegetables we need to use in the pulav. Peel the carrot and chop finely. Chop the onion finely. Remove the strings from the green beans, and chop them finely. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Keep the prepared vegetables aside.
  2. Wash the rice thoroughly under running water, a couple of times. Drain out all the excess water.
  3. Now, heat the oil in a pressure cooker bottom. Add the bay leaves, cinnamon (broken into two), cardamom and cloves. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
  4. Add the chopped onions to the pan, along with the chopped carrot and beans, and the shelled green peas. Saute for a minute.
  5. Add the washed and drained rice to the pressure cooker. Saute for a minute.
  6. Add the 1 cup of coconut milk and 1.5 cups of water. Add in salt to taste and the slit green chillies. Mix well.
  7. Put the pressure cooker lid on. Pressure cook on high flame for 4 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.
  8. Meanwhile, chop the dried mango into small pieces.
  9. Mix in the finely chopped coriander and the mango bits. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  1. I have used Sona Masoori rice here. You may use any other variety of rice you prefer.
  2. The heat in this pulav comes only from the green chillies. Adjust the quantity of green chillies you use, depending upon how spicy you want the dish to be.
  3. Use only a minimal amount of vegetables in this pulav. Only mango and coconut are supposed to be the dominating flavours here.
  4. I have used dried mango from Thailand here, which had some sugar in it. It was quite soft, so I just had to chop it into pieces and add it to the pulav. There was no need to soak the mango.
  5. Increase or decrease the quantity of dried mango you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.
  6. I have used 1 cup of thick home-made coconut milk here. Alternatively you may use 200 ml of store-bought coconut milk, which roughly comes up to 1 cup.
  7. I have used a 5-litre pressure cooker to make this Coconut & Mango Pulav.
  8. I have used refined oil in this pulav. You may use any oil of your preference or ghee, instead.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me in your comments!

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I’m sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #253. The co-hosts this week are Liz @ Spades, Spatulas, and Spoons and Mila @ Milkandbun.

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Grand Palace & Temple Of The Emerald Buddha, Bangkok

The temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok was one of the reasons the husband and I finally undertook that long-pending trip to Thailand, this October. 9 long years ago, while we were honeymooning in Thailand, it was at this very temple that I made a vow – a vow to come back later, with any children that the future might bring into our lives.

Our secret connection with the Emerald Buddha

We were shy newlyweds then, on a tour to the temple not unlike many other Indian tourists. The Thais place immense faith in the Emerald Buddha, housed in the Grand Palace (the former residence of the country’s royal family), and strongly believe that no prayer goes unanswered here. When we visited, back then, the aura of sacredness came off the place in waves. When our tour guide mischievously suggested that the husband and I should pray to the Emerald Buddha for a cute baby girl, I went ahead and did just that. I prayed for the husband and I to lead happy, healthy lives together, vowed to Him that I would come back with our cute little one to see Him again. I kept my pact with Him this October, introducing Him to the cute and little (but also, super naughty and super frustrating) bub. The experience made me feel all light-hearted and warm inside. Touchwood.

People’s expressions range from ‘Whhhhhatttttt?’ to ‘Squeee! Just howwww romanticcccc is that!’ when they hear this story. I’ll leave you to decide on that. I’ll just say that, back then, the prayers came straight from the heart, and it felt like the most natural thing in the world to do. This post is a glimpse into the Grand Palace and the temple of the Emerald Buddha, through my eyes.

About the Grand Palace and the temple of the Emerald Buddha

The Grand Palace in Bangkok refers to the former residence of the royal family of Thailand, since 1782, which is when it was constructed by King Rama I. It is not a single structure, but rather a collection of a number of buildings, halls, lawns and open courtyards, and a temple. Considering that these buildings were slowly added on over the years, their styles of construction are quite different from each other. This asymetry is evident as soon as you enter the main gate of the Grand Palace, but the painstaking detailing and prettiness of each building will not fail to blow your mind away.

The various buildings that the Grand Palace houses, visible as soon as you enter. Can you notice the mixed architectural styles?

By the year 1925, the royal family had completely moved out of the Grand Palace. However, there are a few royal government offices that are still functional here. Parts of the palace grounds are open to visitors, who come in droves. Even as I write this, the Grand Palace and the temple of the Emerald Buddha within are among the most visited sites in Thailand by tourists.

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The entrance to one of the structures in the Grand Palace. Can you spot the crowds of tourists?
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Just how beautiful is this structure at the Grand Palace!

Wat Phra Kaew (more commonly known as the temple of the Emerald Buddha) is a chapel located within the palace grounds. Apparently, King Rama I had the temple constructed in 1782 to house the 60-foot tall statue of the Buddha that he had carved out of green jasper stone. This statue exists in the chapel till date, and is considered one of the most important Buddha idols in Thailand.

Our experience at the Grand Palace

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A pretty mural we came across in the Grand Palace. This was a part of an entire series of similar murals, all of which apparently depict the Thai version of the Ramayana.

It is a hot and humid October afternoon when we visited the Grand Palace for the second time. The taxi we hire drops us off at the designated spot for the same, from where we proceed walking towards the palace. Only to be stopped by a smiling local, dressed formally and wearing some sort of a tag around his neck – he goes on to tell us that the Grand Palace was closed till later in the day, that we should probably head out to some of the other surrounding tourist attractions and come back post that. The husband and I sense something fishy about this, and walk away saying we would check with the tourist information desk at the Grand Palace anyway. Only later do we come to know this is a popular scam around here – a way to make tourists part with some of their cash by making them go on unnecessary tuk-tuk rides and visiting spots they hadn’t planned for in the first place.

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A structure inside the Grand Palace. Just how pretty are those ‘ball’ trees?
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One of the many ‘bearers’ we spot at the Grand Palace, holding up the many pillars and blocks present here

The Grand Palace is very much open, as we suspected already. We buy our tickets and head inside, not opting for the services of a guide or an audio tour. Instead, we decide to rely on the maps freely available to tourists at the ticket counter, and tour the premises ourselves. Swarms of tourists walk in with us. Thankfully, the Grand Palace premises are huge (almost 2,20,000 sq mt., to be precise), and it does not feel stiflingly crowded inside.

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A demon guarding the temple of the Emerald Buddha within the Grand Palace compound. Check out the detailing on the idol! There were six huge ‘demons’ like these, every single one crowded with people who wanted selfies with them!
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Check this out! Beautiful detailing on one of the walls within the Grand Palace premises

The premises of the Grand Palace are extremely neat and well-maintained, just as I remember them from our visit all those years ago. The traditional golden-coloured Thai monuments glitter as they catch the rays of the sun, as does the fine detailing in crystal, glass and gold detailing that seems to be everywhere. Personnel from the Thai Army and Police are everywhere too, infusing order to the movements inside the palace compound. All over again, I am entranced by the place at the first glance.

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A beautiful, beautiful white-and-blue structure within the Grand Palace premises
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Statue of a Chinese guard spotted at the Grand Palace

I can understand why a visit to the Grand Palace proves to be quite overwhelming for some tourists. The droves of tourists, the hordes of uniformed guards, all those monuments, all those different architectural styles, all that detailing and bling, a highly sacred Buddha in the midst of it all – it can be too much to take in and process. The husband and I take it really easy, for this very reason. We have no agenda in mind; we are not there just to check the place off a long checklist. We have come prepared to stay for a few hours’ time, simply walking around and taking in the scenes and sights and sounds, one little piece at a time, taking breaks in between just to sit in silence. I can’t say we understand the entire layout of the Grand Palace or figure out the many stories associated with the place, but I can definitely say we thoroughly enjoy exploring it at our own pace. This way, our visit turns out enriching and oh, so rewarding.

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The surroundings of the Emerald Buddha temple. Again, the same mix of different architectural styles.
Outside the temple of the Emerald Buddha

Walking around, we reach Wat Phra Kraew or the temple of the Emerald Buddha, and get inside to pay our respects. The inside is cool and refreshing, a welcome respite from the heat that is beating down outside. Photography is not allowed inside the temple, so I have no pictures of the idol to show you. However, we are surely left breathless by all the ornate work in and around the temple.

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Some of the detailing on the walls outside the Emerald Buddha temple
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A mythological Thai creature that is half-woman, half-animal

We sprinkle some of the holy water from the temple over our heads, and gear up to walk around some more. By then, the sun was at its hottest best, and we are quite tired. We realise we should be heading out soon, and that is just what we do. On the way back, we capture a few more of the charming, painstakingly done sights that the Grand Palace has to offer.

A model of Cambodia’s famed Angkor Wat temple, in the Grand Palace premises. Cambodia used to be a vassal state to Thailand (erstwhile Siam) in those days, and legend has it that King Rama I had this constructed so he could show people this beautiful temple from the other country that was also under Thai rule.
Rows and rows of cannons spotted in the premises of the Grand Palace. I kind of shudder to think that these must have been in actual use at some point of time.

Tips for travellers

  1. Visiting the Grand Palace can be quite an overwhelming experience for some travellers. It helps to take this place easy and explore it at one’s own pace, like we did.
  2. You can hire the services of a guide at the Grand Palace, if you so wish. He/she will help you understand the history of the place better. However, make sure he/she speaks good English, and do fix a price for the tour beforehand to avoid heartache later.
  3. Beware of tourist scams in and around the Grand Palace. Be careful with your belongings.
  4. Dressing conservatively is a must at the Grand Palace. Shorts and dresses that expose knees and/or ankles are a strict no-no. If needed, you can rent a wraparound from a stall located near the ticket counter.
  5. Photography is allowed everywhere in the Grand Palace, the parts that are open to public I mean, except inside the temple of the Emerald Buddha. The chapel is highly sacred to the Thais, and it is advisable to follow the rules and maintain the sanctity of the place.
  6. Entry fees at the Grand Palace are 500 Thai Baht per head, for foreigners, which is actually pretty steep.
  7. The palace remains open between 8.30 AM and 3.30 PM daily, except on special holidays which are usually announced well in advance.
  8. The Grand Palace gets really, really crowded with tourists! If you would like to explore it quietly, you would do well to reach before it opens, before the maddening crowds descend upon it.
  9. Walking around the huge premises of the Grand Palace can be a tiring, draining affair, especially in the months of summer and monsoon. Ensure that you don’t carry much while you walk around, wear loose and breathable clothes, and have a bottle of water with you as you explore.
  10. Do read up a bit about the history of Thailand and the Grand Palace, as well as a bit about Thai culture and mythology, and I can bet you will have a fascinating experience here. No time to do that? Check out the place at leisure, and then do your reading after you get back home – like we did.
  11. There are several places that you can visit around the Grand Palace – the temple of the reclining Buddha aka Wat Pho, for instance, Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn), the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles, and the famous Khao San Road. You may combine a visit to the Grand Palace with any of these places.
  12. You can use a cab, the BTS Skytrain or river taxi to get to the Grand Palace, or just walk down if you are staying nearby. We used a cab.

I hope you liked this post, and found it useful! Do tell me in your comments!

 

Keerai Poriyal| Rainbow Chard Stir-Fry

Until very recently, Rainbow Chard was something I only ever read about on international food blogs. It wasn’t readily available in India – it still isn’t, in the mainstream market. If at all we find a vendor selling it, it costs a bomb. No wonder it isn’t a popular green in Indian households! A pity, considering how full of nutrition the greens are, and oh-so-pretty with those gorgeously coloured stalks!

Just a couple of weeks ago, I found Mapletree Farms from Hosur selling their organically grown produce at Ragi Kana, a very non-commercial market that happens every Sunday at Bannerghatta, an event that I have come to love. I was thrilled to find Swiss Chard and Rainbow Chard among the veggies on offer by Mapletree – all of which was very fresh, very much grown locally, without the use of pesticides, and priced quite nominally too. I simply had to pick up some of their produce, Swiss Chard included – I’d be a fool not to! I must say I am thrilled with the variety of greens, fruits and veggies that Mapletree offers; it has been an out-and-out delight using this great-quality produce in my kitchen. I can’t see myself not being a regular customer of theirs! (An honest, straight-out-of-the-heart review that I make without any commercials involved.)

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The Swiss Rainbow Chard that I picked up at Ragi Kana last week. When greens look as good as that, how do you not click them?!

I used the Rainbow Chard leaves in a very Tamilian stir-fry, a Keerai Poriyal. This is an easy preparation, one that takes bare minutes to put together, and is quite a delicious way to get all the nutrition from those greens in. All of us at home absolutely loved it! It made a wonderful pair with the sambar rice I served it with.

Keerai Poriyal or Tamilnadu-Style Rainbow Chard Stir-Fry

Let’s now check out the recipe I used for the Keerai Poriyal or Rainbow Chard Stir-Fry, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 2):

  1. 1 medium-sized bunch of Swiss chard, roughly 3 cups when finely chopped
  2. 1 tablespoon oil
  3. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds aka rai
  4. 2 pinches of asafoetida or hing
  5. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds or jeera
  6. 1 teaspoon split white urad dal
  7. 2-3 dry red chillies
  8. Salt to taste
  9. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  10. 1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
  11. 1/4 cup fresh grated coconut

Method:

  1. Wash the greens well under running water. Place them in a colander for a few minutes, and let all the water drain away.
  2. Chop the greens finely. Keep aside.
  3. Heat oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds, and let them pop. Add the dry red chillies, cumin, urad dal and asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds, or till the urad dal begins to brown. Take care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn.
  4. Now, turn the flame down to medium. Add the finely chopped greens to the pan. Cook, stirring intermittently, till the greens wilt, about 2 minutes.
  5. Lightly salt the greens, and add the sugar and turmeric powder. Mix well. Cook on medium flame, stirring intermittently, till everything is well incorporated together. In another 2 minutes or so, any water draining out of the greens should have dried up, and the stir-fry should get dry.
  6. Add the coconut at this stage. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for a minute more. Switch off gas.
  7. Serve hot or at room temperature with hot rice, along with morkozhambu, rasam, sambar or vattalkozhambu.

Notes:

  1. Gingelly oil or coconut oil works best, in this Keerai Poriyal. If you don’t have either, though, any other variety of oil you prefer can be used.
  2. Some green peas, chopped carrot, boiled chickpeas or cowpeas, garlic cloves, pearl onions, chopped beans or red onion can be added to the Swiss Chard Stir-Fry too. We usually keep it really simple, though, and use only the greens.
  3. Any other greens (spinach or amaranth, for example) can be used to make a stir-fry in a similar manner, instead of Swiss Chard. You can even mix 2-3 varieties of greens.
  4. Be careful while adding the salt. The greens don’t withstand salt very well – the dish can become overly salty if you aren’t cautious.
  5. Adjust the quantity of coconut you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.
  6. Chop the greens finely, for a great consistency of the Keerai Poriyal.
  7. You may skip the sugar entirely, but I like adding it in. It balances out any slight bitterness that the greens might have.
  8. Finely chopped coriander or curry leaves can be added to the stir-fry too. We usually don’t.
  9. The heat in this Keerai Poriyal comes only from the dried red chillies. If you want more spiciness, you may add in a dash of red chilli powder, but that does not really belong in an authentic Keerai Poriyal.
  10. Do not add any water while cooking the stir-fry. The greens will release enough juices of their own, and the stir-fry will have enough liquid to cook in. Cook the stir-fry uncovered.

Do you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

I’m sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #251. The co-hosts this week are Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes.

Agathi Poo Poriyal| Vegetable Hummingbird Stir-Fry From Tamilnadu

Last month, we finally made that long-pending trip to Thailand. This voyage had been waiting to be undertaken for years on end, and it did happen over the bub’s Dassera holidays in October. Thailand is where the bub turned 4, and we spent some happy days there, roaming around and exploring as much as we could. This time around, I saw Thailand from the eyes of a food and travel blogger, a completely different experience to the one I had previously, on our honeymoon. Among the foodie souvenirs I brought back to India from our holiday were these edible flowers, called Vegetable Hummingbird.

Walking around the aisles of Big C, a departmental store in Pattaya, I spotted this packet of flowers – labelled ‘Vegetable Hummingbird’. Apparently, these are flowers of the Sesbania Grandiflora, called so because their shape resembles that of the beak of little hummingbirds. The flowers, called Dok Khae in Thai, can be white, pink or red. They are used in several Asian cuisines like Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Lao, Maldivian, Indian and Sri Lankan. The Thais use vegetable hummingbirds, mostly the white ones, raw in Nam Prik, and cooked in curries like Gaeng Som. I was intrigued, and absolutely had to pick up a packet of these to carry back home with me.

Vegetable Hummingbird, Agathi Poo or Bokful

It was only after I got back home and did some quick reading on the Internet that I got to know that these flowers are the same as Agathi Poo, quite commonly consumed in Tamilnadu in the olden days. With time, though, there are fewer and fewer families in South India using these flowers, sadly. I have never had them before, and had no way of knowing these were from our very own Tamilnadu – I lugged them all the way from Thailand! The family had a hearty laugh, at my expense, but I was thrilled to have had an opportunity to cook with something new to me! 🙂

The Internet also told me that these flowers are also commonly used in Bengali cuisine. The Bengalis call these Bokful, and they are dipped in chickpea-flour batter and deep-fried to make delicious Bokful Bhaja. I cannot help but marvel at these little similarities in cuisines throughout the world!

Both the flowers and the leaves of the Sesbania Grandifloraagathi poo and agathi keerai in Tamil, respectively – are chock-full of nutrients. The flowers have the power to ward off ailments like asthma, rheumatism and epilepsy, and to keep stress and anxiety at bay. Rich in calcium, the flowers have a cooling effect on the body, too. In Tamilnadu, agathi poo are used to make a lip-smackingly delicious stir-fry or poriyal, the slight bitterness of the flowers balanced by the addition of sugar, grated coconut, onions and/or beans.

Check out the lovely Tamilnadu-style Agathi Poo Poriyal I made using these flowers, under Amma‘s expert tutelage. It was, indeed, super delicious and made for a wonderful pair with piping hot rasam rice!

Agathi Poo Poriyal or Tamilnadu-Style Vegetable Hummingbird Stir-Fry

Ingredients (serves 2-4):

  1. 15-20 vegetable hummingbird flowers aka agathi poo 
  2. 1 medium-sized onion
  3. Salt to taste
  4. 1 tablespoon sugar or to taste (optional)
  5. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  6. 1/2 cup fresh grated coconut
  7. 3 green chillies
  8. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  9. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (rai)
  10. 1 sprig curry leaves
  11. 2 pinches of asafoetida (hing)

Method:

  1. Open up the agathi poo and remove the stamen – the hard stalk within. Discard the stamen. Chop up the agathi poo finely – you should get about 1 cup of the chopped flowers. Keep aside.
  2. Chop the onion finely. Keep aside.
  3. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Keep aside.
  4. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the mustard seeds, and allow them to pop. Add the asafoetida and the finely chopped onion. Stirring intermittently, saute on medium flame till the onion begins to turn translucent. This should take about 2 minutes.
  5. Now, add the curry leaves, the slit green chillies and the chopped agathi poo to the pan. Add in the salt to taste, sugar (if using) and turmeric powder too. Cook on medium flame, stirring intermittently, till the flowers are cooked. This should take 2-3 minutes. You may sprinkle a little water if you feel the poriyal is too dry or is sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Mix in the fresh grated coconut and cook for a minute more. Switch off gas. The Agathi Poo Poriyal is ready!

Notes:

  1. The agathi poo has a slight bitterness to it, and the onions, sugar and fresh grated coconut help to counter that. You may skip the sugar if you don’t want to add it, but I personally think it adds a lovely flavour to the poriyal.
  2. Agathi poo comes in red, pink and white hues. The white ones are less bitter and tastier than the pink ones. Thai cuisine makes use of the white flowers only, while Tamilians use the white, red and pink ones.
  3. Coconut oil or gingelly oil works best in this kind of poriyal. However, you can use any other kind of oil you prefer, instead, too.
  4. You may add finely chopped coriander leaves to the Agathi Poo Poriyal too. We usually don’t, in this kind of poriyal.
  5. Typically, only the heat from green chillies is used in this kind of poriyal. However, if you feel it is too mild, you may add a dash of red chilli powder too.
  6. Considering the vegetable hummingbird flowers are quite thin, they cook really easily. There’s no need to cover the pan while the flowers are cooking, but you may if you want even faster cooking.
  7. Vegetable Hummingbirds or Agathi Poo are quite fragile, and do not have much of a shelf life. They are best consumed straight after plucking or buying at a vegetable vendor’s, as the case may be.
  8. The calyx of the agathi poo – the greenish part at the bottom of the flower, which holds the petals together – is okay to consume. The stamen – the hard stalk within each flower – needs to be removed.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

I’m sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #251. The co-hosts this week are Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes.

Vatana Ni Kachori Chaat| Making Chaat From Matar Kachori

Winter is, slowly but surely, settling in in Bangalore. It is bright and sunny in the daytime, but it gets nippy in the early mornings and evenings. I can smell the coming of winter in the air. And one of the things that is synonymous with winter, for me, is the piping hot, home-made lilva kachoris that I grew up eating in Ahmedabad. With a gorgeous pigeon pea (fresh tuver) and/or fresh green peas (vatana) stuffing, these kachoris had the power to brighten up a gloomy winter’s day – they still hold the same magic for me.

When the Foodie Monday Blog Hop team decided upon #ChaatsForDiwali as the theme for this week, I was utterly overjoyed. I am a passionate adorer of all things chaat, and can have them for breakfast, lunch and dinner! I instantly knew that I had to make use of the fresh green peas that have begun to appear in the markets of Bangalore. The making of green pea kachoris aka Vatana Ni Kachori, and subsequently converting them into a chaat, came naturally.

So, here’s presenting to you Vatana Ni Kachori Chaat or Matar Kachori Chaat!

Loaded with the goodness of fresh, seasonal ingredients, these delicious kachoris are a delight to gorge on, by themselves. Using them in a chaat only hikes up their deliciousness-quotient quite a few notches. Deep-fried, sinful, chatpata gorgeousness – that is this chaat for you. This beauty surely deserves to find pride of place in your Diwali party. Try it out, and I’m sure you will fall in love with it too!

Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients (makes 18-20 pieces):

For the filling:

  1. 3 cups fresh green peas
  2. 4 green chillies
  3. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  4. Salt to taste
  5. 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  6. Red chilli powder, to taste
  7. 3 tablespoons sugar or to taste
  8. 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh coriander
  9. 2 tablespoons garam masala or as needed
  10. Juice of 1 lemon or to taste
  11. 2 tablespoons raisins
  12. 8-10 almonds
  13. 1 tablespoon oil
  14. 1/2 cup fresh grated coconut
  15. 1 teaspoon cumin (jeera) seeds
  16. 2 pinches of asafoetida powder (hing)

For the kachori shells:

  1. 3 cups whole wheat flour
  2. Salt, to taste
  3. 2 tablespoons oil + more for deep frying

Ingredients for serving:

  1. Sev, as needed
  2. Fresh grated coconut, as needed
  3. Finely chopped onion, as needed
  4. Chaat masala, as needed
  5. Finely chopped coriander, as needed
  6. Sweet-sour tamarind chutney, as needed
  7. Spicy green chutney, as needed

Method:

We will first get the dough ready, to make the outer shell of the kachoris.

  1. Take the 3 cups of whole wheat flour in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add in salt to taste.
  3. Adding water little by little, bind a soft dough similar to the one you would make for rotis.
  4. When the dough is almost ready, add in 2 tablespoons of oil. Mix into the dough.
  5. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes, and then shape it into a ball.
  6. Let the dough rest, covered, till the other preparations are done and you are ready to make the kachoris.

Now, we will prepare the filling for the kachoris.

  1. Peel the ginger and chop finely. Chop the green chillies finely. Grind both together to a paste in a mixer, using a little water. Keep aside.
  2. Take the green peas in a large mixer jar. Pulse for a couple of seconds, then stop and scrape down the sides of the mixer jar. Pulse similarly 2-3 times, for a couple of seconds each, stopping to scrape down the sides of the mixer jar. The green peas should get coarsely crushed – do not make a fine paste. Keep aside.
  3. Chop the almonds, raw, into slivers. Keep aside.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan. Add in the cumin and asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
  5. Now, add the coarsely crushed green peas to the pan. Cook on medium flame for a minute, by which time the peas will begin to shrink a little.
  6. To the pan, add salt to taste, turmeric powder, garam masala, the ginger-garlic paste we prepared earlier, and the sugar. Cook for a minute more on medium flame.
  7. Add the slivered almonds, fresh grated coconut and raisins to the pan. Mix well, and cook on medium flame for a minute more. Switch off gas.
  8. Add finely chopped coriander to the filling in the pan. Mix well. The filling is ready! Keep aside and let it cool down completely.

Now, we will prepare the kachoris and deep fry them.

  1. Take the oil for deep frying in a heavy-bottomed pan. Place on high flame and allow it to heat up, till it reaches smoking point.
  2. Meanwhile, take a small ball of the dough that has been resting. Place it on a flour-dusted work surface and roll it out like a small roti.
  3. Place a generous amount of the green pea stuffing we prepared earlier in the centre of the circle. Close the roti, making a semi-circular shape. Gently seal the edges.
  4. When the oil reaches smoking point, lower the flame to medium. Drop the kachori you prepared in Step 3 above into the hot oil. Deep fry on medium heat till the kachori turns brown and crisp on the outside, taking care that it is evenly cooked and that it does not get burnt.
  5. Transfer the deep-fried kachori to a serving plate.

Prepare the Vatana Ni Kachori Chaat now.

  1. Use a knife to cut the hot kachori roughly into bite-sized pieces, in the serving plate.
  2. Drizzle some sweet-sour tamarind chutney and some spicy green chutney over it.
  3. Top with some finely chopped onion and coriander, some sev and fresh grated coconut.
  4. Add a bit of chaat masala on top. Serve immediately.
  5. Prepare all the Vatana Ni Kachori in a similar manner, using it to make chaat while still hot.

Notes:

  1. You can use a mix of maida and whole wheat flour to make the outer shell for the kachoris, like I have done here. In the above recipe, I have used only whole wheat flour.
  2. You can use slivered cashewnuts in the filling instead of almonds, if you so prefer.
  3. Make sure you get the oil for deep frying nice and hot, till it reaches smoking point. Then, turn down the flame to medium. Fry the rolls on medium flame, ensuring that they are fried evenly on all sides and that they do not get burnt.
  4. You can get as imaginative as you want with the toppings you use to make the chaat. Here, I have used whatever I had on hand at the moment.
  5. You can make the filling for the kachoris without garam masala, sugar or lemon juice, but I would not recommend that. Every single ingredient used in the filling contributes towards enhancing the textures and flavours of the chaat.
  6. You can use a mix of fresh green peas and pigeon peas (tuvar lilva or fresh tuvar) to make the filling, like I have done here. In the above recipe, though, I have made the filling using only green peas.
  7. If you are using frozen green peas, ensure that you bring them to room temperature first, before using them to make the filling.
  8. Click here for my recipe for the sweet-and-sour tamarind chutney I have used in the chaat.
  9. Click here for my recipe for the spicy green chutney I have used in the chaat.
  10. I have used store-bought fine sev from Chitalebandhu and chaat masala from Ciba Taaza to make the chaat.
  11. This chaat tastes best when the kachoris are hot. So, you could deep-fry a couple of kachoris, and then use them immediately to make the chaat.

Did you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

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Foodie Monday Blog HopThis post is for Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for the week is #ChaatsForDiwali, wherein members are sharing recipes for Diwali party-special chaats.

I’m sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #249. The co-hosts this week are Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog.

Dragon Food Festival @ InAzia, Sheraton Grand, Whitefield

I have had the pleasure of dining at InAzia, the Pan-Asian restaurant at the Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel & Convention Center, a couple of times. Last week, I was invited to partake of another feast there, to check out their ongoing Dragon Food Festival, along with some other food bloggers.

Experience Chef Shishir Rai’s Magic At The Dragon Food Festival

The Dragon Food Festival, as the name suggests, will showcase dishes from the exotic land of China. The festival menu has been carefully curated by Jr. Sous Chef, Shishir Rai, who is also spearheading the campaign.

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Chef Shishir Rai, the mastermind behind the ongoing Dragon Food Festival at InAzia

I loved how the Dragon Food Festival menu has a good selection of dishes for vegetarians as well as non-vegetarians alike. Both exotic and popular Chinese dishes feature on the menu, which is something that won brownie points with me.

(For more pictures from the Dragon Food Festival, check out my Facebook post!)

What did I try out?

Chef Rai suggested the foods we absolutely must not miss out, from the food festival menu. Each dish came to our table beautifully presented, and most of it managed to bowl me over.

Here is a sneak peek into all that I tried out at InAzia’s Dragon Food Festival, the vegetarian, non-alcoholic part of it that is.

Cucumber & Cilantro Soup: Decked with slivers of cucumber, delicately flavoured with coriander, this subtly spiced soup was served warm to us. I loved how it was so simple yet hearty, neither overwhelming nor overly bland. It was done just right!

Assorted Mushrooms Truffle Blast: These dimsums were, again, simple but extremely delicious. The filling was a mix of hon Shimeji enokitake and shiitake mushrooms, scented with truffle oil, and I loved them to bits.

Top left: Cucumber & Cilantro Soup; Bottom left: Assorted Mushrooms Truffle Blast; Right: Vegetable Sichuan-Style Pan-Fried Dimsums

Vegetable Sichuan-Style Pan-Fried Dimsums: Stuffed with celery, carrot and asparagus, these pan-fried dimsums were absolutely perfect. They were mildly spiced, but so delicious! The garlic oil they were seasoned with added a whole lot of oomph to them.

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Wok-Tossed Tofu, Sichuan-Style, at InAzia’s Dragon Food Festival

Wok-Tossed Tofu, Sichuan-Style: Cubes of silken tofu were marinated, then tossed with Sichuan chilli paste to create this dish, which was a real beauty indeed. The outside was crunchy, the inside deliciously soft, the sauce a burst of flavours.

Jasmine Tea: We were served some jasmine tea, to cleanse our palates after the appetisers, in preparation for the main course. Now, I have had jasmine tea at a few places, but never loved it, thanks to it almost always feeling like insipid lukewarm water. The jasmine tea at InAzia was an entirely different story, though! It had a mild and subtle flavour, the gorgeous scent of jasmine, and the power to perk you up. Love!

Traditional Moon Fan: Here, steamed rice was flavoured with traditional Chinese five-spice, topped with sesame soy sauce and assorted veggies. This dish wasn’t bad, but felt quite bland to my tastebuds, as opposed to all the other dishes that were filled with taste.

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Left: Dry-cooked Hoo Fun Vegetable Noodles; Top right: Traditional Moon Fan; Centre right: Tofu, Asparagus & Water Chestnut With Malak Paste; Bottom right: Jasmine Tea

Dry-Cooked Hoo Fun Vegetable Noodles: I loved these flat rice noodles cooked with Napa cabbage, sweet peppers and bean sprouts. Flavoured with sesame oil and seasoned with fermented bean sauce, they were oh so flavourful!

Tofu, Asparagus & Water Chestnut With Malak Paste: With melt-in-the-mouth silken tofu, asparagus, water chestnut and green onion cooked in a sesame-chilli paste, this dish was such a flavour bomb! It was absolutely delicious, and paired beautifully with the rice and noodles.

Cranberry Mint Cooler: Along with the food, we were also served a Cranberry Mint Cooler, an extremely beautifully done mocktail. The sourness of cranberry and the freshness of mint leaves paired together really well. This was something I absolutely loved at InAzia!

Left: Chilled Mango Pudding; Top right: Rice Cakes With Ginger Syrup & Ice Cream; Bottom right: Cranberry Mint Cooler

Chilled Mango Pudding: This pudding with mango jelly was served chilled, with pieces of fresh mango and cream. I loved that the pudding had a mildly sweet taste, and that it was not tooth-cloying. I also loved the bits of fresh mango and cream (of course!), but overall, the pudding felt like it had a bit too much of gelatin in it. While I loved the taste of this dessert, I didn’t quite enjoy the satiny consistency.

Rice Cakes With Ginger Syrup & Ice Cream: This dessert was quite unusual, at least to me. A sweet filling made with adzuki aka red beans was stuffed into rice flour shells, then steamed, and served alongside a mild ginger syrup and vanilla ice cream. The rice flour cakes were not unlike the Tamilian kozhukattai, although a bit thicker. The red bean stuffing takes a bit of getting used to. The ginger syrup was simply brilliant, and went wonderfully with the vanilla ice cream. Overall, this made for a very interesting choice of dessert!

A must-visit!

Like I said earlier, I enjoyed my time previewing the menu for InAzia’s Dragon Food Festival. Most of the food I tried, I loved. I would highly recommend you to pay a visit too, and check out the many foods and beverages the festival menu has on offer.

Intrigued? The Dragon Food Festival is on at InAzia till September 30, 2018, from 7 PM to 11 PM, and a meal for two costs about INR 2,000 plus taxes.

Thai Food Festival @ In Azia, Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel

Regular readers of my blog will know how special Thailand is to me. The husband and I honeymooned in Thailand, watching Thai dancing and kick-boxing shows by the hour. Who on earth does that on their honeymoon? Turns out the hubby and I do. 🙂 It goes without saying that I have fond memories of us being shy newly-weds together in a foreign land. Making Thai food at home is something I have taught myself to do, to keep that connection with Thailand alive.

Thailand was also my very first international holiday, the first-ever time I set foot on soil that wasn’t Indian, which made the trip all the more special. I wasn’t a food or travel blogger then, so we didn’t explore much of the local food or sights, a fact I regret to date. I haven’t had a chance to go back to Thailand, and explore it to my heart’s content. I did, however, recently get the thrilling opportunity to experience some of Thailand’s famed street food at InAzia, the classy restaurant at Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel. Along with a few other bloggers from the city, I was present at InAzia for a sneak peek into the restaurant’s ongoing Thai Food Festival.

Sample Chef Rungtiwa Sorlae’s expert craftsmanship at the Thai Food Festival

Like I said earlier, InAzia, the Pan-Asian restaurant at Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel, has a Thai food festival going on now. The festival, brought to you in association with Thailand Tourism, will continue till August 29, 2018.

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Thai Chef Rungtiwa Sorlae, Specialty Chef at InAzia, Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel

Chef Rungtiwa Sorlae, Specialty Chef at InAzia, has put together a special menu for the food festival, which includes several vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies straight off the streets of her hometown, Thailand. There are also some incredible desserts on offer!

We had a lovely time sampling Chef Rungtiwa’s expert creations, and would urge you to partake of them too. The Thai food festival special menu is available at InAzia between 7 and 11 PM every day, on an a la carte basis. A meal for two would cost approximately INR 2000. Prior reservation is recommended.

My experience at InAzia’s Thai Food Festival

As soon as I set foot into InAzia, I was greeted by two ladies in traditional Thai gear with a sweet ‘Sawadee Kha‘ (‘Hello’ in Thai). This instantly put me at ease, as did the lovely live Thai music being played in the restaurant. The simple and uncluttered but elegant decor of InAzia also soothed my mind plentifully.

The understated but classy decor at InAzia

I loved the references to Thailand that were everywhere in the restaurant. Being the sucker for attention to detail that I am, I adored these little touches – centrepieces made of Thai bird’s eye chillies and galangal, Thai-style lanterns on the tables, place mats that depicted the different aspects of Thailand, Thai umbrellas on display, and a live station for Thai salads, et al.

Glimpses from our recent preview of the Thai Food Festival at InAzia

With the warm hospitality that is typical of the Thai people, Chef Rungtiwa brought out one after another of her creations. We greedily lapped all of it up, loving every bit of it.

What did I taste?

Here’s a brief recap of all the vegetarian, non-alcoholic goodness that I sampled at InAzia’s Thai Food Festival.

Som TamSom Tam or Green Papaya Salad is, perhaps, one of the most popular dish in Thai restaurants across India. Chef Rungtiwa’s version was slightly less sweet and sour than the Som Tam I am used to here, more spicy and pungent with hand-pounded chillies and garlic. I loved this salad quite a bit!

Pheuk-TordPheuk-Tord or deep-fried taro cakes are a popular street food in Bangkok. Salty and spicy, they are served with the accompaniments of chilli and/or peanut sauce. These cakes were too bland for me, not meant for my taste buds that demand chatpata food all the time. 🙂

Tom Yum Soup – Spicy and salty and sour, Tom Yum is one of my most favourite kinds of soups there is. Chef Rungtiwa’s version was brilliant – slightly more sour than the Tom Yum we get here in Bangalore, it suited my taste buds just perfectly. It was just the right amount of spicy too – neither the boring kind of bland, nor too spicy as to draw tears from your eyes.

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Top Left: Spiced Pineapple; Bottom Right: Pheuk-Tord; Top Right: Vegetarian Tom Yum Soup; Centre Right: Virgin Mojito; Bottom Right: Som Tam

Spiced Pineapple – This was one of the mocktails I ordered from the regular menu at InAzia, to go with the Thai appetisers. This was such a lovely drink, perfectly made, Indian spices subtly adding depth to pineapple juice. Lovely!

Virgin Mojito – I also tried out the Virgin Mojito here, off the restaurant’s regular menu. It was perfectly made too, the right blend of sweet and sour, very refreshing and lovely.

Pad Thai – Main course began with a serving of Pad Thai, Thai-style noodles that are hugely popular in India. I love a well-made dish of Pad Thai, and this one was no exception. The flat noodles were interesting to eat, with the added crunch of bean sprouts and coarsely crushed peanuts. The flavours were absolutely on point, just the right blend of sweet and spicy and salty, with just a tinge of sour.

Left: Thai Green Curry; Top Right: Thai Jasmine Rice; Bottom Right: Pad Thai

Thai Jasmine Rice – This was my first time eating Thai Jasmine Rice, and I simply loved it. The texture and fragrance of the rice was just lovely!

Thai Green Curry – We were served some beautiful Thai Green Curry to go with the jasmine rice. Mild and subtle, very well-made, the curry made for a great accompaniment to the fragrant rice.

Sang Ka Ya Fak Tong – And then it was time for the desserts to be brought out! We started with Sang Ka Ya Fak Tong, a traditional Thai delicacy that I had never heard of before. Coconut custard is poured onto big slices of pumpkin and baked together, to create this dessert, which apparently sells like hot cakes on the streets of Thailand. The Sang Ka Ya Fak Tong did sound wonderful, but it was too eggy for me to eat. For someone who loves eggs, this would be a very unique thing to try, I’m sure.

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Left: Sang Ka Ya Fak Tong; Top Right: Sang Kaya Ob; Centre Right: Home-made Coconut Ice Cream; Bottom Right: Tab Tim Krob

Tab Tim Krob – Next up came the Tab Tim Krob, another interesting traditional Thai dessert. This one was brilliant, with bits of jackfruit and jellied water chestnut served in sweetened coconut milk. It was delicate but hugely satisfying, mildly sweet but delicious, and I couldn’t stop lapping it all up.

Sang Kaya ObSang Kaya Ob refers to baked coconut caramel custard, another traditional Thai dessert. This just blew my mind away with silky texture, coconut-ty flavour and mild sweetness. It was served on a banana leaf, which added to its taste greatly. This is one dessert I would highly recommend you to have at InAzia!

Home-Made Coconut Ice Cream – Yet another dessert that was brilliant enough to charm the socks right off me! Good ol’ simple ice cream made the traditional way, this one tasted scrumptious. The crushed cookies that the ice cream was dusted with added oodles to its charm and taste. This is another dessert I would highly recommend you to try out here.

Traditional Thai Rose Cookies

Thai Rose Cookies – The meal ended with a thoughtful little gift from Chef Rungtiwa to all of us – a box of traditional Thai Rose Cookies. These were so pretty, I almost didn’t have the heart to eat them. 🙂 I am glad I did, though, for they were exquisite. Delicate, mildly sweet, each one topped with white, dark and milk chocolate, these three cookies were a treat to the taste buds.

In hindsight

I loved most of the food that was served at the preview, though I wish there had been more vegetarian options.

Dishes like Pad Thai and Thai Green Curry gave us a glimpse into Thai cuisine as we know it, while the ones like Pheuk-Tord and Sang Ka Ya Fak Tong taught us that there is more to Thai street food than what we typically find on restaurant menus in Bangalore. I love that this festival has whetted my appetite for more – I can’t wait to head to Thailand now, and explore the vegetarian street food scene there, right at the source! I wish the food festival had delved deeper into more lesser-known food, drinks and desserts from Thailand, but I understand the problems that might cause.

A bit of background, history and stories, to each of the dishes would have been hugely appreciated. To a food history buff like me, that would have been blissful.

While the staff was extremely polite and warm, we found the service to be quite slow. A bit more pro-activeness on the service front would have taken our dining experience up by several notches.

Overall, we had a great time at the food festival, eating our way through some of Thailand’s known and lesser-known delicacies, created with Chef Rungtiwa’s finesse. I would definitely urge you to head to InAzia too, to get your fix of authentic Thai street fare!

 

 

Berry Vanilla Gateaux @ The Academy Of Pastry Arts, Bangalore

Desserts are like mistresses. They are bad for you. So, if you are having one, you might as well have two,” said French chef Alain Ducasse once, and I heartily agree.

Desserts are important in my life. I have a huge sweet tooth, and absolutely love desserts. They are something I always, always save space for, especially if they are made of good-quality chocolate. That said, I don’t stop at just chocolate – I believe in exploring different types of dessert, going through dessert counters systematically, trying to figure out what I like the best. It might not be the best thing for me to do, considering my constant battle with increasing weight, but hey, I’m not one to spoil a day of indulgence with guilt.

With this background, you can imagine just how thrilled I would have been, recently, to receive an invite from The Academy Of Pastry Arts, Bangalore, to be part of a dessert demonstration. It did turn out to be quite a scintillating experience. Yours truly, alongside a bunch of other food bloggers from across the city, watched agog, as Chef Kimberly Rozario of the Academy gave us a live demonstration of a magnificent Berry Vanilla Gateaux.

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Check out the Berry Vanilla Gateaux that we learnt to make at the Academy. Isn’t she a stunner? Don’t miss those gorgeous fresh berries and tiny macaroons on top!

Making the Berry Vanilla Gateaux

Baking requires a lot of precision and patience, specially so when making as elaborate a dessert as this Berry Vanilla Gateaux. This particular cake required a number of steps, some quite complex and requiring special expertise – first making a chocolate sponge, then vanilla mousse, berry jelly, the red glaze that goes on top and, finally, the gold button, chocolate belt and little white macaroons that are used to decorate the cake. Each of these components was then assembled masterfully to create the stunning whole – the Berry Vanilla Gateaux.

Some pictures from the live demonstration of the Berry Vanilla Gateaux. Can you tell how many painstaking steps lie behind that one finished product?

Chef Kimberley took us through each step of the process very patiently, talking about the right kind of ingredients and apparatus to choose, clarifying doubts, answering questions and sharing her expert tips throughout. She made the entire process look almost magical, I must say, flawlessly building up that red confection from scratch.

Chef Kimberly Rozario of The Academy Of Pastry Arts, Bangalore, with the Berry Vanilla Gateaux that she demonstrated to us

We also got to sample this red beauty and, I must say, she blew my mind away. The flavours of vanilla, berries and chocolate came together so beautifully!

Chef Kimberly with her team at The Academy Of Pastry Arts, Bangalore

Head to my Facebook page to see more pictures from the demonstration!

About The Academy Of Pastry Arts

The Academy Of Pastry Arts is an esteemed professional culinary and dessert school with a Pan-Asian presence. In India, the Academy has branches at Bangalore, Delhi NCR and Mumbai, with the Bangalore branch being located on Sarjapur Main Road, Jakkasandra. Apart from this, they also have a presence in the Philippines and in Malaysia.

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The reputed chefs who are part of The Academy Of Pastry Arts, Bangalore

The Academy boasts of having a number of world-class chefs on board, who work with the school either on a permanent or visiting basis. State-of-the-art infrastructure and cutting-edge technology are their points of pride. There are several long-term and short-term courses on offer, wherein students can learn various aspects of culinary and dessert arts. The Academy assures small batch sizes, one-on-one attention to every student, hands-on training, the passing on of top-notch culinary dexterity, internship with hospitality brands of repute, and placement in five-star hotels and patisseries on the completion of courses.

From the walls of The Academy Of Pastry Arts, Bangalore

The Academy Of Pastry Arts has participated in several national- and international-level competitions, winning a few of them too.

The Academy Of Pastry Arts in the news

In Conclusion

As an amateur baker, I was way out of my depth in the demonstration of this beautiful, but complex cake. However, I was impressed with the clean kitchens and the state-of-the-art technology the Academy uses, not to forget Chef Kimberly’s expertise and patient handling of us. For someone who is serious about making a career in the culinary or dessert arts, this is definitely a place to head to.

Details

Address:

Bangalore Centre
9, 1st Block, Sarjapur Main Road,
Jakkasandra, Koramangala,
Bangalore

Phone:
+91-8095719222
+91-8095442277
+91-8025505222

E-mail:
info@academyofpastryartsindia.com

Website:

http://academyofpastryartsindia.com/

 

Go Crazy At These Eight Asian Destinations!

Asia, the largest continent on this planet, has plenty of sites that will astound you to no end. From scenic and mighty mountains to pristine low-lying valleys, from roaring seas to serene beaches, Asia has lots of destinations to please all kinds of travellers.

Many of these Asian destinations should definitely be on your bucket list! We present to you a list of some such amazing Asian places – choose any of these for your next holiday, and we assure you will have an experience worth cherishing!

Bali

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Are you looking forward to a romantic honeymoon vacation? In that case, Bali is the right place for you. Thanks to its prolific beauty, this place is often referred to by travellers as ‘heaven on earth’. Picturesque mountain ranges, lush rainforests, scenic beaches and sweeping valleys all together make it a vibrant destination in Asia to holiday in. Moreover, Bali also boasts of a handful of serene temples, which you absolutely must not miss on your vacation. The cultural capital of Bali, Ubud, is something you must visit as well.

Singapore

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People often ask why Singapore is unique and different from other Asian nations. Well, Singapore offers travellers a melting pot of Asian cultures. In Singapore, you will find a blend of various cultures, which gives it a modern outlook and vibrant city neighbourhoods, as well as some really eclectic cuisines. Singapore is one of the most-loved island nations in the world. While here, you must head down towards Little India and China town for an amazing shopping experience, and later the Merlion to contemplate the high-rise skyscrapers.

Nepal

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This Himalayan country surely needs no introduction. If you are planning a trip to scenic Himalayas in all their majesty, Nepal is the place you should be heading to. Nepal is the most sought-after destination for trekkers – here, you can undertake various treks here, each of which will give you an opportunity to introspect and explore your inner self. Nepal is also where you can relax in the serenity of golden temples and watch wildlife.

Bangkok

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This capital of Thailand is choc-a-bloc with things to do for all sorts of travellers. Take your pick from a horde of eye-catching sites to never-ending nightlife and mouth–watering Thai cuisine! The Chatuchak Weekend Market is a huge street market that you must not miss. The sacred shrines of Bangkok are where you can immerse yourself in spirituality, if that is your kind of thing. Bangkok is also a good place to indulge one’s senses, with some of the best spas in the world on offer.

Ladakh

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Travelling to Ladakh by road is quite a thrilling experience, one that must definitely be on your bucket list. Ladakh is visited by thousands every year, but the beauty of the regal Himalayas never gets old. There are several Leh Ladakh tour packages on offer, each of which will leave you with an unforgettable experience.

Bhutan

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Surrounded by the gorgeous Himalayas, Bhutan has a magical aura to it that you must definitely experience. Bhutan is a country full of surprises. Here, rice is red and chillies are not only seasonings, but very much a main dish. Here is where a Buddhist monk will update his social media handles after performing a divination. Yes, you read that right! The traditional Buddhists of Bhutan have completely adopted modern culture, and are proud to do so.

The Maldives

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A kingdom of oceans, 1200 islands, and a never-ending horizon – that is what the Maldives are. Wherever you go, you will find clear, clear skies and the prettiest of turquoise waters waiting for you. You can choose to stay in one of the many luxurious overwater bungalows that the Maldives has to offer, and spend your holiday watching majestic coral reefs and surfing white-sand beaches with your loved ones. Maldives is quite a popular destination among honeymooners, and that is no big wonder!

Tokyo

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The largest city in the world, Tokyo, has plenty of things to offer travellers. It is a beautiful and vibrant city, known for its crowded streets, flashing lights and warm people. Tokyo is a shoppers’ paradise and a haven for foodies. This megacity of Japan is buzzing with constant movement, something that you must experience for yourself.

So, which of these Asian destinations would be your pick for your next holiday?

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This post is brought to you in association with Thrillophilia, international travel planners. All images in the post are courtesy of Thrillophilia.

Introduction To Sindhi Cuisine @ Sindh Kitchen, Malleshwaram

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to sample some Sindhi food at Sindh Kitchen, Malleshwaram, at a bloggers’ table. It turned out to be an enlightening experience, my first proper introduction to Sindhi cuisine, close on the heels of this post of mine about the Sindhi Koki. We had a lovely time admiring the simple decor of Sindh Kitchen and, of course, gorging on some delicious food!

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The simple, functional decor at Sindh Kitchen, Malleshwaram. I absolutely loved those tiles!

We tried out some traditional Sindhi dishes like Dal Pakwaan, Koki, Sindhi Kadhi, Sindhi Vadi Ki Sabzi, Aloo Tuk, Sai Bhaji and Pragree, along with some other not-so-traditional dishes. I loved most of the fare we tried out here, which was as authentic as it gets, considering it is prepared in-house by a Sindhi family.

The food and drinks

Here is how I fared with the food and drinks at Sindh Kitchen.

Drinks

Lemon & Mint Cooler: We started our meal with a shot each of Sindh Kitchen’s Lemon & Mint Cooler. This was quite refreshing, well done with the right mix of sweet and sour.

Appetisers

Palak Patta Chaat: Next up, we were presented with platters of Palak Patta Chaat, spinach leaves deep-fried till crisp, then topped with the assorted sweet, savoury and tart makings of chaat. This was perfectly done, just the way I like it. Needless to say, I loved this chaat to bits.

Sev Papdi Chaat: The Sev Papdi Chaat came next, flat deep-fried discs topped with fine sev, assorted chutneys and boiled potatoes. I found this to be quite decent, not bad but not brilliant either.

Top Left: Lemon & Mint Cooler; Bottom Left: Sev Papdi Chaat; Right: Palak Patta Chaat

Dal Pakwaan: And then, it was time for the piece de resistence, perhaps the best-known dish from Sindhi cuisine – Dal Pakwaan – to be brought out. The Pakwaan is made with maida (sometimes with a little wheat flour added in) mixed with some fragrant spices, bound into a dough, rolled out into discs, and then deep-fried. It is served with a sort of lentil stew called Dal, topped with finely chopped onions and/or green chillies, as well as sweet and spicy chutneys. I adored the Dal Pakwaan I tried out in Ahmedabad for the first-ever time, and the Sindh Kitchen version somehow fell short of it. In my humble opinion, it could have done with some more flavour.

Top Left: Dal Pakwaan; Centre Left: Sindhi Wadi Ki Sabzi; Bottom Left: Sindhi Kadhi; Right: The Dal Pakwaan presented differently

Main Course

Sindhi Wadi Ki Sabzi: Mixed vegetables are cooked Sindhi-style, with sun-dried lentil wadis, to make this sabzi. I loved this dish to bits – it tasted absolutely brilliant, redolent with spices.

Sindhi Kadhi: Unlike the regular kadhi we are used to, the Sindhi Kadhi is made without any curd. Flavoured with Garcinia Indica aka kokum, with a variety of vegetables added in, this is a lovely accompaniment to rice. I absolutely loved this dish!

Meethi Boondi: I love meethi boondi, especially the rose-flavoured orange version that is just the right amount of sweet. The meethi boondi we were served at Sindh Kitchen was exactly like that, exactly the way I love it. We were asked to try having the boondi with the rice and kadhi, the way it is apparently consumed in Sindhi households, and I must admit the combination did taste nice. Personally, though, I would just prefer gulping down a bowl of this meethi boondi on its own, for dessert!

Left: Aloo Tuk; Top Right: Sindhi Papad; Bottom Right: Sindhi Koki and Sai Bhaji

Aloo Tuk: This is a traditional delicacy made with twice-cooked potatoes. Potatoes are typically par-boiled or fried once, then slightly smashed, then fried again to make them crispier. They are served with a generous dose of salt, red chilli powder and chaat masala. The Aloo Tuk was so, so, so very lovely, great with the rice and kadhi! I think these beauties would go really well with sambar and rice as well – can’t wait to try that combo out!

Sindhi Papad: We also got to try out the Sindhi papad, quite less spicy than its Punjabi counterpart. I liked this mild papad, which made for a nice accompaniment to the rice and Sindhi kadhi.

Sindhi Koki: This thick but soft and crumbly Sindhi flatbread was just beautiful! It tasted absolutely delightful, with finely chopped onions and green chillies added in.

Sai Bhaji: ‘Sai‘ refers to the colour green, in Sindhi. True to its name, Sai Bhaji is made with a variety of greens, with assorted vegetables added in. It is quite a flavourful way to sneak greens and veggies into one’s diet, I must say. It pairs wonderfully well with Sindhi Koki – add a dollop of curd to it, the way the Sindhis do, and this becomes a heavenly trio!

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The white rice is called Chawal in Sindhi. Anti-clockwise from the Chawal is Bhuga Chawal, Dal Pakwaan, Sai Bhaji and Sindhi Kadhi

Bhuga Chawal: As part of the main course, we were served some plain steamed white rice to have with the side dishes. We were also served some Bhuga Chawal, a Sindhi preparation wherein basmati rice is cooked with onions, flavoured with spices like cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns, bay leaves and garam masala. The Bhuga Chawal was not unlike a pulav, though quite low on spice, fragrant with all the spices. It was delicious, and paired well with the various side dishes served to us, though I would really prefer having it on its own, or maybe with some raita.

Khameeri Roti: Khameeri Roti is another type of Sindhi flatbread, made using whole wheat flour and yeast (known as ‘khameer‘ in Sindhi). Traditionally cooked in clay tandoors, these rotis are melt-in-the-mouth soft.

Sathpura: Sathpuro Phulko or Sathpura is a flaky flatbread made using wheat flour. The dough is rolled out, cut into strips, greased with oil or ghee and re-rolled, the proceedure giving the flatbread its flakiness and pillow-soft texture. It is the Sindhi version of the Kerala paratha, if I may put it that way.

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That, there, is most of the spread we tried out at Sindh Kitchen. Check out the flatbreads – the Sindhi Koki lie atop the Sindhi Papad, the ones wrapped in foil are Sathpura, and the whitish ones are Khameeri Roti.

Desserts

Pragree with Rabri: Pragree is a delectable traditional Sindhi dessert, a layered puff stuffed with a sweet khoya filling. Served with a beautiful, beautiful rabri, this was exactly the kind of dessert that takes a sweet-toothed person like me to a state of bliss!

Left: Pragree with Rabri; Right: Gulab Jamun with Vanilla Ice Cream

Gulab Jamun with Vanilla Ice Cream: This wasn’t your average gulab jamun, but one made with loads of khoya, just the way I love it. With the vanilla ice cream, it tasted all the more lovely.

In hindsight

I surely enjoyed this gastronomical voyage through Sindh, with Sindh Kitchen. If this is something you would like to experience as well, I would recommend you visit the place as well.

Tank up on some authentic Sindhi delicacies, as well as the other, more modern food they have on offer. The Sai Bhaji, Sindhi Kadhi, Meethi Boondi, Pragree and Gulab Jamun especially come highly recommended!

A meal for two here would cost around INR 1,000.