Valentine’s Day and Some Fishy Business

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Three Cheese Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Three Cheese Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Grilled Barramundi with Vegetables

Grilled Barramundi with Vegetables

I never got around to the kitchen today. I did wake up with fantasies of cooking up a storm for L. He has sacrificed going for movies for one year to keep me company while I recuperate. But sometimes, good intentions get crushed under the weight of the pillow and the comforter! I believe extra sleep adds to the well-being of the world, so that’s my contribution to Valentine’s Day.

We made do with early dinner at Bakerzin at Vivocity mall. I tried grilled barramundi with vegetables. The fish was fresh and crisp, the vegetables were crunchy and the sauce was perfectly light and flavorful. L had a three cheese chicken sandwich. I had to exercise iron will power to not take a bite of the cheese sandwich. And I nearly cried out of sadness when I couldn’t buy one of the fluffy macarons this restaurant specializes in. We take so many little things in our everyday life for granted. Its only when they are taken away from us that we realize how many precious blessings there are in each day. I swore on those pastel colored macarons beckoning me from the display that I would never again take them for granted. But I must say, I was very content with the fish.

I hope you find contentment too on this Valentine’s Day. Isn’t that why we look for love..so that we can feel content? Happy Valentine’s Day!

P.S. I did get some shots of miniature teapots at a stall set up at a Chinese New Year Festival in the mall. See you tomorrow.

Miniature Teapots

Miniature Teapots

 

Easy Breezy Mung Bean Salad

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Mung bean sprouts salad

Mung bean sprouts salad

I couldn’t post yesterday. I had a procedure at the hospital which lasted the whole day. Yet I did manage to rustle up a quick sprouts salad. The procedure had me knocked out for a good two hours. When I finally woke up, the nurse asked me if I wanted to eat something. She gave me options of cheese sandwich and rice porridge. Rice porridge is Chinese comfort food, like our khichdi. But Aunty had packed some peas fried rice for me. Just some rice fried with very little onion with onions, whole cinnamonn, cardamom, clove and a whole bay leaf. When something tastes good even when I just woke up from a chemically-induced stupor, means it goes into my trusted recipe book, my good friend for life. Just in case you are wondering, I am better today.

Here is my recipe for sprouts salad:

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 cup sprouted mung bean

1 tomato, chopped

1 green chilli, deseeded and chopped

Few sprigs of cilantro leaves, chopped

Dressing

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp ginger juice

1 tbsp lime juice

1/2 tsp black pepper

Method

Mix the sprouts with the onion, tomato, cilantro and green chilli. Add the dressing and toss the salad. Its ready to serve.

P.S. I saw a fortune cake at a neigbourhood bakery. The oranges on the cake signify good fortune, the whole fish signify long life and the symbol on the little square tofu representation is the Chinese symbol for wealth.

Fortune Cake for Chinese New Year

Fortune Cake for Chinese New Year

 

 

My Brave-heart Sandwiches

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I had no time to cook anything today. I had multiple doctors’ appointments. But I am here because I committed to writing one post everyday.

All I could do was practice some photography. So at 10 PM I brought out my cookie cutter and created these sandwiches. I then practised a few shots of taking food photos in artificial light. I have a long way to go, but at least its a start. After I finished my shoot, I convinced L to have them as dessert so that they wouldn’t be wasted.

I am calling these minis my brave-heart sandwiches. When one goes through a long-enduring difficulty, the heart must stay brave. These sandwiches are a reminder. You could also make these for your loved ones as Valentine’s day breakfast.

See you tomorrow :)

Sugar Cravings and A Banana Cinnamon Snack

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Banana-cinnamon snack

Banana-cinnamon snack

Ironies in life are aplenty. I start writing a food blog when I can stomach very little food. My acupuncturist warned, “Less oil, no spices.” Therefore, I am compelled to cook dishes that I can eat without disobeying her. I did text a friend to ask for a healthy marinade for grilled shrimp on skewers which I have been dreaming about since yesterday. She recommended marinating it in lime juice, butter and pepper. My friends are supportive like that. Not only does it NOT fit into my ‘less oil, no spices’ regimen, but now I will think about it for the next two days because it sounds delicious. Such cruelty.

The only way to get through food-deprivation, as with all other curve-balls that life enjoys throwing at us, is to take it one day at a time. The thought that I might have to deny myself spicy chettinad curry for a lifetime is appalling to me. But just for today, I can have bland lentils and rice.

And bananas. I have been snacking on bananas more than ever because they help with my sugar cravings. The simple sugar-free snack turned out so well that L thinks I can serve it to guests for dessert. I would agree, especially since I have lately been hosting very health-conscious guests, who balk at the sight of my home-made kalaakand and go running out of the door when I serve them my khejur gurer payesh. Next time, I warn you: you get bananas.

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 bananas

2 tbsp honey

1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

4 tbsp Greek yoghurt

Method

1. Chop bananas and drizzle them with honey and cinnamon powder.

2. Bake in oven at 180C/350F for 10 minutes.

3. Serve warm with dollops of chilled Greek yoghurt.

P.S. I am working on improving my photography skills. Today, I bought a heart-shaped cookie cutter and went a little crazy on a few strawberries. Sharing my favorite photograph of the day. See you tomorrow :)

Feb 10

 

 

 

 

 

Fighting the Blues with Cute Cucumber Tapas

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Cucumber Tapas

Cucumber Tapas

Today, I am not at my sunshine-y best. I have been battling a health issue for almost a year. I thought I would keep that out of my blog because I want this blog to be my happy space. But happiness cannot be disguised in denial. Sometimes, we have to squeeze in little morsels of sunshine and happiness into the gray canvas of a day.

When I saw photographs of these little cucumber darlings on Pinterest, I knew this is what I could create today. Its easy, fuss-free and light on the stomach.

Why should I bother rustling cucumber thingies up when I feel blue? Since I have been unwell for a long time, I feel as though my days are dissipating and vanishing into nothingness. I am committing to posting one healthy, simple recipe everyday. This is my attempt to give some structure and purpose to my day. Often, I reach out for that unhealthy snack simply because I cannot think of something quick and easy to eat when the hunger pangs strike. I am hoping to build a collection of healthy, yummy, go-to recipes that I can incorporate into my diet easily.

The cucumber tapas fits the bill perfectly.

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 large cucumber

6 tablespoons hung curd

Few sprigs of mint

1 slice of red bell pepper (capsicum), chopped

Salt to taste.

Method

1. Peel the cucumber with a vegetable peeler.

2. Scoop out the seeds halfway through to create a mini cucumber bowl.

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3. Sprinkle the cucumber ‘bowls’ with a little salt and set aside.

4. Chop mint leaves finely.

5. In a bowl, mix the hung curd, mint leaves and salt.

6. Pour in spoonfuls of the hung curd filling into the cucumber ‘bowls.’

7. Garnish with red bell pepper.

8. Chill and serve.

P.S. No matter how gray the day is, I always find a bright spot if I look hard enough. Today, a white hibiscus flower radiantly bloomed in my balcony garden. It felt such joy. I hope you do too. See you tomorrow :)

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Hummus and Resolving the Tahini Mystery

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Hummus & Carrots

Has this ever happened to you? You google for a yummy, healthy recipe of a dish you tried at your favorite restaurant. You start getting excited and suddenly, there is one such ingredient that you have never heard of. And your enthusiasm dies a slow painful death. You sigh and go back to your bag of potato chips because now you are very hungry from all the googling. This has been the long-abiding story of me and hummus.

Hummus is a beautiful dipping sauce that is served in Middle Eastern restaurants with toasted bread.It is protein-rich and makes for a yummy and delicious snack.

Every hummus recipe requires teaspoonfuls of tahini. And recipe writers assume that I know what tahini is simply because I have eaten at a Middle Eastern restaurant called Ali Baba. (Have you ever noticed how every city has one Middle Eastern restaurant called Ali Baba and one Indian restaurant called Tandoor? Stereotypes, I tell you!) This makes me want to write an Indian recipe with ingredients like rajma, amchoor, etc. and deliberately leave out the English  translations. I am diabolical that way.

I discovered that tahini is nothing but a paste of toasted sesame seeds (white til). And with that knowledge, I proceeded to make this beautiful hummus with a creamy, nutty taste. You can have it as a dipping sauce with carrots, celery, or kebabs, and you could also use it as a sandwich spread.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 15oz can/125 grams of chickpea (garbanzo, chhole)
  • 5 tbsp sesame seeds (white til)
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves (chopped)
  • Pinch of red chilli powder/paprika
  • Salt to taste

Method

1. Toast the sesame seeds in a hot skillet/kadhai for 5 minutes till they get a light brown color. Make sure not to over-roast it because it will become bitter.

2. Drain the can of chickpeas. If you are using uncanned chickpeas, soak it overnight till it becomes soft.

3. Tip in the chickpeas, sesame seeds, 5 tbsp og olive oil into the blender. Blend till it gets a creamy consistency. If its too dry, add 1-2 teaspoons of water.

4. Transfer the mix into a bowl. Fold in the lime juice and coriander leaves.

5. Season with red chilli powder and salt.

Easy creamy hummus is ready!

P.S. I did have some fun while roasting the sesame seeds. Since Valentine’s day is just around the corner, my sesame heart, just for you! See you tomorrow :)

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Lying in bed with the ‘Poet of the appetites’

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I have received warnings, dear reader, several warnings. Warnings to stay in bed. The culprit is a back pain that has had me out of action for almost two months now. I won’t go into details about the back pain in this public forum. I want this space to be about happiness and health, and gratitude and good food.

A short bout of recovery created an insatiable urge to ‘live’ life again. That led to three versions of tandoori fish (each a failure of epic proportions), half a litre of mango lassi for a potluck lunch, a jar of mango pickle, feverish activity on my blog and traipsing around in the Marina Bay Sands mall. Karma caught on quickly: my back is in pretty bad shape again. I am sheepishly heeding to the warnings now. So here I am, curled up in bed with heating pads and analgesic creams.

I am not complaining though. A super short trip to the library en route the doctor’s yielded a bunch of treasures.

8 books-all centered around food. My idea of bliss.

8 books-all centered around food. My idea of bliss.

As if savoring a new dish, I have tasted the first few pages of M.F.K. Fisher’s classic culinary essays in her “Love in a Dish”.  Each page sparkles with her philosophy that eating is inextricably tied to living well.

She combines recipes with memorable anecdotes, childhood reminiscences and passionate storytelling. You delight in the insistence of a fanatical waitress to feed her fresh pastry. You want to go back to her childhood and dip into her favorite creamy mashed potatoes and catsup, even if you are not quite sure what catsup is.

She says that the love of food builds a marriage:

“…even steak and potatoes, when they have been prepared with a shared interest and humor and intelligence, can be one great pleasure which leads to another, and perhaps–who knows–an even greater one.” 

What is left unsaid is as riveting as what is said.I always believed food creates love, but could I ever say it so subtly and deliciously? John Updike called her the ‘Poet of the appetites.’ Oh Mary Frances Kennnedy Fisher, I want to be like you. I am even willing to get two extra middle names if it will get me to write like you.

I am not complaining about having to lie in bed for one more day. After all, I have a poet for company.