Friday, August 28, 2009

Remy’s Recipe – Semolina Pancake

TGIF! Couple of Indian festivals are already over and there are more to come. While it’s hard enough not being with family during occasions, missing sweets is unimaginable! So I wanted to make a sweet that's easy, fast and fried (guilty pleasure). Tada! Out came the sweet “Rava Appam” (Semolina Pancake). This is again a recipe that's customized to my taste (blame it on the craving for creativity). Ok, to make this rava appam you need:
1 cup – rava (semolina)
1 cup – sugar
½ cup - maida (maize flour)
½ cup – Rice flour
1 cup milk
1 banana
1 teaspoon ghee/butter(optional)
2 – cardamoms(optional)
Oil to deep fry
Now put everything (except oil and ghee) in a bowl and use your hand to mix it to the paste consistency. Use little bit of water if the paste is too thick. If you are not comfortable using your hands, use blender to whisk a little (if you grind it to smooth paste, u wont get the crunchy crispness of semolina). Leave this batter to settle for 10 minutes.
Heat oil in a pan and put a teaspoon of ghee/butter (this is just for the flavor). Take a spoonful of batter and pour it slowly into the pan, don't disturb it for few minutes. Then gently scoop the Appam to the surface and turn it around. Cook until its golden brown. Keep the stove in medium flame to avoid burning the cakes. Use tissue papers to drain the excess oil and serve hot. *Drum Roll* …. Rava Appam is ready.
Variations:
You can use a cup of coconut scrap, then using banana is optional.
You may use water instead of milk
You may use chunks of dried nuts in the batter.

The ones I made were over even before I could fry the last one! :) Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Collioders neutrons and insanity

I have read somewhere that the best stories are the ones said from heart. I always try to adhere to this saying when it comes to writing posts. However I try hard not to write about regrets, guilt, or resentment be it my own or others. But today I just feel like pouring my heart out.

My buddy circle at work used to be amazing. In the last one and half years, we watched movies, cooked, played shuttle/cards, and have taken numerous trips together. There were ups and down, stupid and serious fights but we always retire to the oneness vibe. But these days the ego clashes going on between some is shaking the entire group.

I am faced with outmost difficulty of maintaining neutrality. Worst case, I am getting involved in this energy draining exercise and it backfires. I find it hard to convince them, even to do the right thing. It seems people are just fine the way they are and don't want anyone to shake their "perfect" universe.

I always go out of my way to pacify, to be good or be apologetic to others (remember Monica of FRIENDS who try hard to get Mrs. Green’s apology?) I get hurt in the process mostly. Today I felt ,I couldn’t take anymore of this shit. So I have resolved myself to maintain silence and positivity. I suggest people to let go of anything that bothers the peace of mind and it’s time for me to do the same.

Do you face such situation where you shuttle between getting involved or staying away? While staying away sounds matured and diplomatic is it really the right thing to do? How far do you think one should go to rescue the friend who is behaving insanely?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Pregnant Maiden - Decoded , Langkawi Trip 4

To read Part 3
Life in Langkawi is very much like India. At one side you can see shopping complex, restaurants and luxurious resorts with spa. But on the other, you can notice rice fields (agriculture being their main occupation!) and buffaloes on bare lands. This is the view from our hotel room and We woke up to the sound of the rooster everyday!
After late breakfast, we started Island hopping tour by bum boat at 11 am. At first we alighted at “Pulau Beras Basah”. It’s a blue green beach with powdery white sand. We could see the fishes beneath the water even from the Jetty. Unfortunately, the "Water-Sports" centre was closed. So for the next couple of hours we just relaxed (actually ran around, played swing and even wrestled). Thats me in the swing :P
Next we stopped to feed Eagles at "Pulau Singa Besar". This mangrove filled jungle used to be a national park. Now it’s closed for conservation (well done!). While we sat silently on the boat, the guide threw some chicken flesh into the water. Within seconds we saw number of Eagles(of various sizes) flying around. They flew at a great speed and picked the chicken pieces at one stroke. The bum boat really punctured our bums when the guide drove at great speed over the rough water. After 10 minutes we sat starring at an array of islands (totally clueless!). In a lousy accent guide told us it’s the "Pulau Dayang Bunting", The famous "Isle of the Pregnant Maiden”. After 5 minutes of serious looking/starring/blinking/ camera-clicking and thinking! We pretended to each other that we have seen it and its right there (pointing to the array). Now I have decoded the picture - Here is she, the ever mom-to-be!
Later we bummed our way to "Tasik Dayang Bunting" (Lake Of The Pregnant Maiden). It is the largest lake of Langkawi and resides in the middle of an island nestled amidst the lush forest hills. We have to trek (oh no!) for about 10 minutes from the jetty in the forest hill. The worst part of it was, defending from troublesome monkeys.
The name of the lake comes from the legend of fairy princes. Long ago, a fairy princess married an earthly prince. She became pregnant and her baby died shortly after its birth. She was very depressed and buried the child in this lake before returning to her celestial abode. However she blessed the clear waters of the lake that any childless maiden who bathed in the lake would conceive thereafter.
The notice board at the entrance warned us about the lake's abyss. And we rented the life jacket as advised. This lake seemed spooky to me (like that of lake placid) so I took a dip and was out of water within seconds. After an hour we were back to the "Bum" boat !
By late afternoon we were back on land and promptly headed to our food paradise, The “Palace of India” (POL). Then we returned to our rooms for a short nap. By 7 pm we cleaned up and checked out. Enchanted by the good food, we went to POL again. The waiter cum cashier was so happy to see us for the 3rd time. He said the restuarnt gets busy every time we visit(did I tell you about my luck ? :P).

We took the last flight from Langkawi on Monday - 29th Aug at 11 pm. It reached Kuala Lumpur half past mid night. Our flight to Singapore was only at 6 in the morning. So we slept in the airport until then. We were glad to have taken this fun filled trip. However, our manager wasn’t very pleased to see freakishly tanned droopy faces wandering around the coffee machine for every few hours on Tuesday.

THE END ! Thanks for travelling with me :P

Friday, August 21, 2009

Seamless dip to fearless feathers - Lagkawi Trip 3

To read Part 1
Langkawi has many lovely waterfalls. We were told the best among them is “Seven Wells” waterfall. Locally known as "Telaga Tujuh", it can be easily spotted from the cable car ride we took (naan yenga adhellam paathen!). This stream smoothly cascades about 90 meters down to 7 beautiful pools.
After about 20 minutes of tiresome trekking (like Chandler in FRIENDS say "I am 30 and I want to sit in comfortable chair and watch TV!") we settled down at the first pool (7th one from the top).
It had a small slippery slide. Since the pool was only my waist height, I was the first to get in. I gave thumbs up to the camera, and took a seamless ride right into the dip. To my horror it was deeper than I thought (later I learned the small area below the water falls must be at least 8 meters high). As my swimming skills are on par to a rock I came face to face with my second nightmare - Aqua phobia. Thankfully a tourist teen playing around, pulled me out. OMG, what would have happened to blogosphere without me! ;) Rest of my "fun in the pool" was sitting on the rocks, my legs immersed in water and singing country songs.
The tiresome pool action has put us to sleep on our way to Langkawi craft complex. It reminded me our Kadhi craft. In this array of handcrafted items, you can find forest-based products, local fabrics, ceramics, metal artefacts and numerous others, reflecting the diverse culture of a multiracial Malaysia.
They said Langkawi is famous for boutique art and I can’t agree more.
I wish I had a bigger house to host them all. We brought some souvenirs and set off to "black sand beach" (which appeared more of dirty beach actually!)
We ate raw mangoes dipped in salt, canned drinks and chips on our way to the famous “Tanjung Rhu” which looked familiar.I was told this beach is a famous shooting destination for Indian movies. It was very hot and we walked back to shades immediately after taking snaps.
At the parking lot I tasted the local version of Jackfruit and plantain bajji made by a good looking Malay girl. She even had mehandi in her hands! She spoke in broken English while she deep fried Jackfruits (with seed) soaked in floor paste. My friends didn’t like it much but I loved every bit of it including the seed :) My mouth just filled with saliva while writing this :P

We stepped on the wheels to next attraction - The Eagle Square. By now we have already traversed a circle around the small Island. We had booked the van for 8 hours and Hafiz took our confirmation to extend it. The rental costs 300 ringgits for 8 hours and 30 for every additional hour.
The Eagle square is 19 acre landmark located near Kuah town shopping complex, facing the sea. The massive star shaped (seen from above) tiled floor reflected the heat from the sun. Please remember to carry your sunglass and a high value SPF sunscreen lotion.
In the tip of the star, stands the 12 meter tall brown eagle with majestic open wings. The view to the sea is fantastic and in the nearby jetty point mall you can buy all the souvenirs, chocolates, blah blah... And it’s duty free!!
We spent sometime chitchatting and started back to our resort as sun started descending. We thanked Hafiz with 10% tips and he was very happy (Tipping is not compulsory here). We felt an honest 24 year old Hafiz, who worked 2 part time jobs, deserved it.

My friends hit the swimming pool while I got pampered in the "Thai spa". I tried their two hours package (159 ringgits). The friendly masseuse treated me like a king. He washed my feet in warm water, gave me a blissful foot massage followed by very relaxing full body and head massage (He had to wake me up afterwards!) Then we walked to the "Palace of India" - the best Indian restaurant in the island and had a sumptuous dinner. Exhausted by the trip and the good food, we crawled our way back to the rooms and slept like babies.
p.s: One more part to go. Happy Ganesh Chadurthi! May the elephant god bless you all with happiness, health and prosperity.

Monday, August 17, 2009

25 Ringitts scary ride and a panorama - Langkawi Trip 2

To read the first part.

Sunday morning found us in dreamy state. The previous day's "Who get to use bathroom" fight has turned "Let other use and catch some more sleep" pass-game. By 9:50 am we manage to drag ourselves to the dinning area since free breakdast would be over by 10. Also we have booked a van from 10am- 6pm to go sight seeing. Hafiz - our driver was already waiting in the lobby. I took the front seat and started conversing with Hafiz. It didn’t take me long to realize he is very honest, kind and friendly guy. He described the places that passed by, and we asked him to pull over at the Telaga Yacht Harbour .
This small harbor was built few years back when Langkawi started becoming a popular yachting destination. The exquisite architectural building hosts, art shops, gas station and variety of eateries - very high priced (duh... didn’t I say it’s a yacht harbor J ).Next stop is Oriental village, which is the gateway to main attraction of Langkawi - The cable car. Hafiz gave us specific direction to the ticketing counter as one can easily get lost in this Oriental village (read shopping district).
While boarding the cable car I didn’t imagine I would come face to face with my worst fear, Alto phobia. I have done reverse bungee and other crazy rides of theme parks. However sitting in the swinging cabin rising to 600 feet was so scary and I felt anything but normal.

The evil heads travelling with me took advantage of the situation and kept saying stories about, how cable car accidents are fatal and how the one happened in palani-India, killed a whole family. The cable car ascended at 45º, within minutes we felt the temperature changing. The cool air gushed from the ventilation slits above and everything beneath appeared smaller in few minutes. It took about 10 minutes to reach the first station of Mount Mat Cincang. After a shaky ride, I was happy to disembark at the first station. This viewing tower overlooks the city. Can you spot the Telga yacht harbor?
I took several deep breaths to calm myself before boarding the cable car again. It's the same cable car we need to board, to the second station. Few kids screamed, unlike me .This time the ride wasn't sharp as it is from one mountain to another which is slightly higher. When we landed at 700 feet, we were greeted by the chillness, the view and the fresh breeze of the peaks. We had to climb couple of levels to the viewing station.The viewing station is divided into 2 huge platforms in round shape the base of which offers shops of sugar candy, ice cream and even a foot massage!
The clouds literally passed between us on the viewing station. We could spot the patches of land getting covered in shade by the clouds, and again to light within few minutes. On a cloud less day one can enjoy the magnificent view of island's landscape, coastline, skyline and seas beyond.
You might have already spotted the bridge in the above picture, Yes that’s the one you see in Billa or Don Movies during the climax. This suspended sky bridge hangs at 45º on a single tower support on Mat Cincang Mountain. It is also one of the longest suspended bridges in the world. The climate was gloomy, so we were restricted from walking on the bridge for safety reasons.

They even had a wax shop, where I saw these couple making wax replica of their “held-hands”. I brought a sugar candy to divert my attention during descend. But it wasn’t as scary as I imagined it to be, I concentrated on the details, For example the cable cars don’t move at all, they are fixed to the cable which goes around the towers.
Back in the Oriental village, I got to feed the deer and rabbits in the park. We walked around the colorful oriental village taking snaps.

While I was glad to be back on ground, the next destination took my breath, quite literally!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Remy's Recipe - Banana-Caffine Shake

TGIF!! If you like to cuddle in bed until afternoon on weekends like me, this one is just for you. It will come handy when you wake up, scratching your head (ahem...) hound hunting refrigerator, wondering what to eat. Now all you need is a drink that’s easy to make and can hold your hunger for sometime (until you cleanup to go out or decide what to cook for the day).

This drink is an inspiration from Nigella feast (copy catnnu solla kudaadhu aama). Before I present thanks for the amazing response you have given to my Falooda recipe. It’s an inspiration to know my cooking is being liked by those who hadn’t even tasted it! LOL Ok now, with no delay I present to you the healthy Banana-Caffine shake. To make this, you need:
1. Banana
2. Milk
3. Sugar
4. Instant coffee powder
5. Dried nuts (optional)

Peel the skin off the banana (you may use two if you are very hungry or want the shake to be thick), just toss it into the blender. Now add milk and sugar to taste. Then add half a teaspoon of Instant coffee powder. If you have dried nuts add them too (I generally add couple of cashews)
Blend, that’s it!

Variations
1. You may add ice cubes
2. You may add a piece of chocolate/ chocolate syrup instead of coffee powder.
If you are on dieting and trying to reduce weight, please have a healthy breakfast. Dont skip it!Even if you are late just make a milk shake like this and drink on the go. Banana is very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. While banana provides you loads of dietary fibre, vitamin C, B6 and potassium, milk can add vitamin D, riboflavin and most needed calcium for your day. Caffine is for the flavour and it can kick start even mundane Monday mornings to fresh ones. Now, isn’t that more than you can ask from a breakfast drink?!

p.s: Happy Independence Day to everyone, May India shine with health and prosperity!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Miles to go before I rest - Langkawi Trip 1

Last weekend my friends and I took 3 day trip to Langawi Malaysia. Thanks to reduced air fares, we got the hotel booking and tickets close to 300 Singapore dollars. That’s a bargain! and one Singapore dollar is equivalent to 2.4 Malaysian ringgits. That’s more reasons to spend and shop :) Langawi is situated 30 Kms away from northern coastland of Malaysia in the Arabian Sea. They have discovered numerous islands (already more than 100!)around this area, and few more in recent years which have formed due to low tides.

We have been to Indonesia’s and Thailand's islands before, and also to Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur, so we had a basic idea on what to expect in terms of experience, culture and food of an Asian island. Yet Langawi surprised us with its own charm.
On Saturday morning we travelled from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. Then after couple of hours in transit we landed in Langkawi around 2 pm in the afternoon. We checked in to the two family suits of Boutique resorts, and after an hour of who gets the "best bed" or get to use "bathroom first" we finally hit the road. We walked down to the Indian restaurant called papadam ria and had our so called lunch at 4 pm (indha hotel information ellam munnadiye kettu vachikuvomla). FYI, This restaurant is situated near the Underwater world of the island. Hunger + good meal is irresistible combination and we hogged for two hours with no guilt (sapdradhula enna koocham vendi kedakkunnu solreenga thaaney? Naanga sapta apparam hotel evening thirakkave ellai)
( The pentai cenang - one of the beautiful beaches of Langkawi)
Since it was already evening we couldn’t take any tours and there are not many late night attractions in the island. So we took a stroll along the beautiful Pentai cenang beach. We did a photo session, less of group pictures and more of solo pictures. All of which would go in orkut, facebook, Picasa and quite importantly to the loved ones staying away :)
(Off all the costly dress I have brought my honey likes this 7.5 $ tshirt the best,No wonder they say -beauty is nothing but simple things seen with eyes of love)
As the sun started descending, we sat on the rocks, caressed by roaring sea waves. Everyone took their places and contemplated the sunset in silence. I was so happy to squeeze in few mins of meditation by the sea.
We started walking back around 7pm and city looked different with colourful neon lights. We walked by the shops and stumbled on another beautifully decorated restaurant called "Tajmahal" . It promised north Indian and Arabic cuisines. One can get Arabic food around every corner in Langawi. Apparently 40K Iranians travel to Malaysia especially to the shores of Langkawi every year. I was told that both Muslim countries have worked schemes in the recent past to promote each other for tourism.

We relished the tasty Indian dishes and slogged our way back to the resort. After two hours of Heineken and cards we called it a day. We visited this place the next day, looks familiar isnt?

Friday, August 07, 2009

Remy's Recipes - Fruit Falooda

My work mates and I, were shifting from one place to another like nomads for the last two months due to several reasons. At last, we are grateful to nest in the spacious 3+1 apartment with all the comforts and nice owner! So we invited few colleagues last Sunday for lunch to our new found heaven. Now for the record, I love cooking and often surprise everyone, including myself with tasty dishes. My two flat mates taste and approve the dishes I make. Wait, they aren't innocent white mice types you imagine them to be. But they can be mistaken for giant rats, the ones that eats everything like in Ratatouille movie. Thank god, they don't read my posts :)

I became the head chef as usual, and the challenge was to cook for 10 people. The fringe benefit I received in return was very fulfilling. I got to boss around my mates happily. If I had said "hey wash this vessel , I need it" or "dice these onions fast" they would give me "what the heck" look. But they have to oblige when I assume the role of head chef to cook their favorite items. I cooked Puri, Paneer butter masala, Jeera Pepper rice, Vermicelli Yogurt (substitute for curd rice), Dhaal paayasam, Indian Coleslaw, Egg burji, Aloo masala fry, papadams and Home made Fruit Falooda :) I had 3 helpers ( two flat mates and a friend), who did the puri dough, vegetable cutting and many small yet significant stuff.

Most of them are custom made recipes , I would post them one at a time under "Remy's Recipes"Tag. Today we will learn to make home made Fruit Falooda. As I said, this is my very own version, and doesn't resemble anything you get in resturants. By the way, why to make the exact one if you can get it in the nearby resturant?
To make this falooda you need:
1. Vanilla ice cream - I used Caramel macadamia vanilla ice cream.
2. Vermicelli 1 cup
3. Milk maid
4. Fresh fruits - I used Mango, pineapple, apple pomegranate and grapes. (use fruits of your choice)
5. Fresh cream
6. Custard - vanilla flavor, if you know how to make u can, I just brought the readymade from supermarket.
7. Strawberry jam
8. Colored cherries and nuts
9. Dates
10. Chocolate - a dark bar and white bar ( optional )
11. Most important - people who can appreciate good food :)

Now first fry the vermicelli in the pan, until they become light brown , don't over fry and don't use oil. Pour 2 cups of water in another vessel and heat. When the water starts boiling, put the fried vermicelli. When they are almost cooked, take it off the stove and drain the excess water. Then run it under the cool water and drain again. Once it reaches the room temperature, put it in a container and add milk maid to it. you may put it in different containers and add different colors too. Refrigerate.

Cut the fruits to very fine small pieces, and keep them separately in different containers. Use same sized ice cream cups for everyone to avoid " I didn't get enough" fight. First put two teaspoons of custard, then put fruits layer by layer. use fresh cream in between. Then add two teaspoons of strawberry jam, soaked vermicelli and another layer of custard. Now add dates and colored cherries. Place one or two scopes of Vanilla ice-cream (I take two scopes one slightly over another like a mountain ). Refrigerate.

(Optional) Heat the pan in high flame. Put two cubes of dark and white chocolates and turn off the flame. Now don't use spatula, just hold the pan and do a shakira hip dance. The cubes would melt and form a pleasing marble design . Once it comes to room temperature, pour it on top of the ice cream and sprinkle nuts. Refrigerate again for 10-15 mins.
Serving note:
Play a good music, sit together with your love/family/friend and have a hearty chat over the ice cream.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Swadesi band's missing tooth

These days, I see Singapore’s national flag everywhere. In the shops, parks, apartment balcony, along the road side, cabs and even on top of workstations. In the flag, red symbolizes universal brotherhood, white signifies purity. The crescent moon represents a young nation on the ascend. The five stars stands for the nation's ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality. Singapore celebrates its national day on 9th of august every year. There are theme songs and national unity messages flashed everywhere. This made me miss the Independence Day back home.

I am not very patriotic to say. I love my country for sure. I have profound respect for innumerable things about it. But I don’t understand how a person born few thousand kilometres away becomes my enemy even in cricket. Anyway, coming to the point I actually miss the celebrations I had in school/college days. I remember dressing up in white, a paper flag neatly pinned to my pocket. I was in the band and ever year we sing "Thaayin manikodi” and” Jana gana mana" before and after the flag hoisting. And during my second year in Vivekananda college our band sang ARR’s”Thamizha thamiza" from Roja. That day early morning, I cycled my way from home in sterling to college in Mylapore.

On the way, I noticed the MRF show room (The iconic building which has a rotating MRF logo on the roof) completely blanketed by our national flag. Who said size doesn’t matter? The huge flag with bright crimson, green and white got my entire attention. I kept cycling while my head still glued to the flag. I came to sudden halt with shock. I have actually bumped onto a jeep parked by the side of the road. Not a normal one, but the Police Jeep (yea, with capital P and capital J). I must have woken up the constable behind the news paper. He started scolding in our intricate sundara Chennai slang. He blamed me for not concentrating on my job! He questioned whether I was drunk, and added that I won’t get paid if I were careless. I started cycling faster, scared and confused by the remark. I neither stopped to think nor looked back until I hit the college cycle stand.

While I was locking the cycle, I felt a blow on my shoulder. I screamed aloud and jumped. My voice echoed in the deserted corridor. That was my close friend who came to see me singing (yea people choose their own fate!). "Hey you look like a vannan (dry cleaner)" he smiled tapping the big bag of dhotis which I brought for singers of the band. Like a person who took the first fall of roller coaster my expression changed from fear to laughter in nanoseconds. A bag full of dhotis at the rear end and being dressed in one must have made me look like a worker to the constable!

The event kept playing on my head and I was warned couple of times for giggling during the rehearsals. I bit my tongue and starred at oily head of a singer in the front row. As weird as it seems, it actually helped me from laughing on the stage. We finished the Roja song, and vande mataram with decent applause and a whistle (must be the fate chooser).

A couple of boring speeches and flag hoisting followed. It was then time to sing the final song, National Anthem. I started singing and randomly eyed the audience. I spotted my friend with wicked smile. He winked at me and mimicked "a drycleaner beating the cloth” action. I bent down immediately, with a hand on my mouth like I am going to throw up and start laughing uncontrollably. One down on the second row the group photo then would have looked like mouth with a missing tooth!

p.s: Happy Raksha Bandhan to everyone :)