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Friday, March 27, 2015

Kankada Kassa ( Stir fried Crab )

So it is a laidback Friday afternoon and a glorious weekend is beckoning all of us !! Apart from the mandatory lazing around, the only other thing that my husband seeks on those two days is gorgeous and truly glorious food . And one of his favorites happen to be stir fried crabs. It is a quite simple recipe that relies mainly on the succulent juicy flesh of the crab for all that flavor. Of course the taste is subtly enhanced by adding some seasoning but there is no gravy as such. The shell of the crab is gently cracked to allow the tender meat inside to get cooked and also imbibes some of the seasoning.

This works well with the mud crab as well as the blue sea crabs. Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 45 mins

Ingredients -

3-4 blue crabs (sea crabs)
1 large + 1 small onion (finely chopped)
1 1/2 long ginger (finely chopped/crushed)
7-7 garlic cloves ( finely chopped/crushed)
1 large tomato ( finely chopped)
4-5 green chilis (slit lengthwise)
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/5 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/3 tsp sugar
salt to taste
4 tbsp oil

Preparation - Clean the crabs and gently crack the shells. The meat should not spill outside. Marinate with the salt and turmeric for 5-10 mins.

Cooking - Heat 3 tbsp oil in a wok. Add the crab to it and stir fry on medium high flame for 5-7 mins. Remove and keep aside.

Add the remaining oil to the same wok. Throw in the onion, ginger and garlic. Stir fry for 3-4 mins. Then add the chopped tomatoes and cook till they are mushy.

Add all the spice powders to the wok and cook for 1 min.

Throw in the sauteed crab and toss everything together. Add 1/3 cup water along with a little salt. Cover with a lid for 2-3 mins.

Uncover and sprinkle the sugar, soy sauce and the green chilis. Cook for a few minutes till the gravy reduces and just about clings to the crabs.

Remove from wok and serve hot. Taste great with white rice.

Note - The sugar is a must to neutralize the acidity when using country tomatoes. Else one can give it a miss.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Easy Chicken Lasagna

Lasagna. The very mention of it is enough to send those salivary glands on an overdrive. A heavenly concoction of meat, tomato sauce and cheese that has layered pasta sheets altered with all the aforementioned toppings. This oven-baked Italian recipe is actually one of the oldest types of Pasta.

Though it may look quite daunting ( as it did to me ), it is quite easy to put together if you are an expert at whipping up a mean pasta sauce. I prefer to use the homemade Marinara sauce ( recipe here ) in my lasgana. Throw in some stir fried/browned meat, onions, veggies, a humongous amount of cheese and those pasta sheets cooked to al-dente, and I am all set. Read on for this super easy and yummy version -

[Sorry about the pics !! With my good old camera sent for the repairs, I had to shoot this with my mobile ]

Preparation Time - 1 hour ( actually I had three burners going at the same time so you will definitely need more if using a single/double cooktop )

Ingredients -

  • 6 Pasta/Lasagna sheets
  • 1 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded chicken
  • 1 cup mixed peppers (red & yellow)
  • 1 large onion ( chopped into medium sized pieces )
  • 6-8 garlic flakes (finely chopped)
  • coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 cup grated mozarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup processed cheese ( can substitute with ricotta or cream cheese )
  • 1 egg
  • chili flakes or chopped jalapenos (as per taste)
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Bring 10-12 cups water to a rolling boil. Add a generous amount of salt. Once the salt is dissolved, add the paste sheets one by one. Keep on a rolling boil and give a stir in between to prevent the sheets from sticking to each other.

Heat another wok. Drizzle with olive oil. Throw in the onions. Once they turn brown, add the peppers and stir fry for 2 mins. Finally add the shredded chicken along with the chili flakes/jalapenos, Italian seasoning and some parsley. Cook on medium high for 4-5 mins. Remove and keep aside to cool down a bit. Break the egg and mix in.

Check the lasagna sheets. If they are al-dente( mine took abt 20 mins) , drain the water using a colander and place the sheets under cold water for a few seconds.

[Do not forget to keep an eye on the marinara sauce (if cooking simultaneously). ]

Layering - Rub some olive oil over the bottom and sides of a rectangular dish. Put some marinara sauce at the bottom. Put one of the lasagna sheets. Layer it with some more marinara sauce, then add the meat and veggies mixture. Finally drizzle the cheese over it. Repeat the process till you exhaust the sheets and the meat and veggies. Pour any remaining sauce on the top and drizzle with leftover cheese. Sprinkle some parsley and the leftover seasoning. Cover the dish with a foil.

Heat an oven at 180C (or 375F) for 10 mins. Put in the baking dish and allow it to bake for 35-45 mins at the same temperature. (Remove the foil for the last 10 mins)

Remove carefully and let it sit for 15 mins.

Cut into pieces and serve.

Note - Leftovers can be frozen and reheated when ready to consume.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Guptaji Here I Come

It goes without saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It supplies the body with fuel after a long night's fast and kick starts the metabolic rate. No wonder it holds the key to sustained weight loss. Another advantage of that glucose rushing through your systems is that it also boosts your mood and keeps you cheerful till lunchtime ( all thanks to the sustained blood sugar levels which is also important in keeping diabetes at bay ). After all, there is some truth in the old saying 'Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dine like a pauper'.

But that does not mean one can down those 'aloo parathas' with an extra helping of butter or munch on those sinful plates of 'choley-bhatura' for breakfast. It needs to be healthy mix of fruits, dairy, cereals and maybe a handful of nuts thrown in (as established by many of the studies). An easy choice would be a fruit salad/smoothie with a bowl of oats/cornflakes. With Kellogg's offering some great tasting cereals,which are further fortified with vitamins and minerals, one can never run out of healthy choices.

And if you need mo inspiration, look no further than Guptaji's family. For these guys deserve all the credit for making a cuisine out of cornflakes and oats. Whether it is those yummy cornflakes coconut laddoos that defy conventional wisdom and are the cynosure of all eyes during the kid's tiffin break or that delectable evening salad that is made even more filling with the addition of cornflakes, Mrs Gupta surely knows how to whip up some mind boggling varieties. Ask her how to make a smoothie or milkshake more interesting ? Well, throw in some cornflakes and strawberry jelly along with the regular ingredients and you have a winner at hand. Something for a fussy kid or a husband who simply refuses to grow up ? Well, mix some of the leftover chapattis with cornflakes and a generous amount of seasoning, and voila, you have a gorgeous chapatti cornflakes chivda that is sure to make a convert even out of the staunchest fan of the traditional variant. In no mood for too much of experimentation ? Then just some fruit or even fruit pulp to your regular cornflakes with milk and come up equally delicious variants like the sitaphal cornflakes, banana and strawberry cornflakes or even apple cinnamon cornflakes.

Guptaji's family wont let you down even on those special occasions. Whether it is adding that special touch at a movie get-together with some cornflakes popcorn clusters or even pampering that someone special with walnut cornflakes choco balls and a cornflakes date shake, they do have a treat up their sleeves for every occasion. Well, I am off to the Gupta household to sample some of that yummy breakfast fare and to learn a thing or two. Are you coming with me ??

This post is written for Kellogg's. Check their Youtube channel here.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Channa/Choley Masala ( Oil Free Recipe )

Last weekend was one of festivities and the feasting that goes with it, so there is little wonder that many among us would be still reeling with the fallout !! Today's recipe is just what the doctor prescribed for those suffering tummies and bloated waistlines. Yes, it is a recipe that is oil free (yippee) and very low on spices. Combine it with rotis made from multigrain atta and some delicious Nimbu Pani or Shikanji.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup kabuli channa/garbanzo beans
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin cubes (small ones) (this is optional)
  • 1 medium sized onion
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 5-6 garlic cloves
  • 1 dry red chili
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Choley masala of your choice
  • 1/2 tsp anardana powder
  • 2 pinch turmeric
  • salt to taste

For the garnishing -
  • freshly chopped cilantro
  • ginger juliennes
  • freshly squeezed lime juice

Preparation - Wash and soak the kabuli channa overnight .

Roughly chop the onion, ginger and garlic. Cut each tomato into 4 halves.

Cooking - Transfer the soaked kabuli channa into a pressure cooker along with 1 cup water, turmeric and salt to taste. Cook for 3 whistles or till it is cooked through but not mushy.

Heat a wok. Add the red chili, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon stick and cloves. Dry roast till they give off a smell. Remove and keep aside.

To the same wok, add the chopped onions, ginger and garlic. Dry roast till the onions leave water and turn red. Add the tomato at this point.and stir fry till the tomatoes are mushy.

Transfer the whole spices ( after they have cooled down) to a grinder jar. Buzz to a fine powder. Add the roasted onion, ginger, garlic and tomatoes to the same jar. Blitz everything together to obtain a fine paste.

Add the choley powder (dissolved in 2 tbsp water) to a heated wok and fry for a minute. Add the pumpkin pieces and fry for 2-3 mins. Pour in the masala paste and the boiled kabuli channa into the same wok. Mix everything together and bring to a boil. Add some boiling water if it see,s too dry. Add the anardana powder and simmer for a while. Remove from flame once the curry reaches a semi-dry consistency.

Serve with a generous garnishing of fresh cilanto, lemon juice and ginger juliennes.

Note - One can also add some amchur for that extra tang.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Nightlife in Namma Bengaluru !!!

With the Bangalore population being a predominantly youthful one, the Nightlife in Bangalore is bound to be scintillating. While it is mostly made up of IT professionals and students, the generous sprinkling of expats add an exotic touch to the party crowd that scorches the dance floors of every discotheque in Bangalore every single night ( I guess the crowd here does not discriminate between weekdays and weekends ). Though Bangalore has a large number of night clubs /discotheques, the 'work hard party harder' chanting set ensures that most of them are packed to the maximum. Read on for my picks among the best night clubs in Bangalore -

Image courtesy: 

One of such places that gets a thumbs up from me is Toit. Situated on the prime location of 100 ft Road, Indiranagar, it is a brewpub that serves amazing beer (including some freshly brewed stuff) and some great food ( the menu is mostly Italian ). Needless to say, it is a must visit for all beer lovers. Some of the popular drinks served here are Tintin and Toit Red. Even the cocktails are crazy and very good too. For example I tried one that had pani puri added to it and it was just out of this world. Do remember to team up the drinks with the special pizza and the chicken wings. Though on the expensive side, one can easily end up paying more than Rs 2000 for a meal for two.

Once done with the drinks and the food, do hang around soaking in the pulsating energy of the crowd that haunts this place. It is preferable to go in a large group ( plus nobody minds if you tag a few kids along with you ) and enjoy the amazing feel of Toit. With live music being an added attraction of this brewpub, there is a performance by Monkey Temple (from Kathmandu) scheduled for 29th March, 2015.

Image courtesy:

Another crowd favorite is the Hard Rock Cafe which is situated at a stone's throw from the bustling hub of M.G. Road. It is a state-of-the-art cafe that also displays memorabilia from rock legends and contemporary artists. Though on the more expensive side, this place is always packed to capacity and hence I would recommend reserving a table in advance. Though the grey stone exteriors along with the neon sign that reads 'Hard Rock Cafe' are distinctive enough , the interior which is divided into three distinct areas is quite massive. There is a restaurant, an open courtyard and a bar which are somehow seamlessly integrated. One can get almost everything ranging from fruit juices to coffee to beer to cocktails over here. The food consists of sandwiches, burgers, nachos and most of the Indian starters. Do visit this place for the feel of some good old fashioned American rock'n'roll. And in case I forgot to mention it, this is the very place in which the item song  'Dhat Teri Ki'  (starring Imran Khan and Esha Gupta) from the movie 'Gori Tere Pyar Mein' was shot.

If you happen to shake a leg or even let your hair down in any one of these happening places, do share your experience on this page :) !!!

Happy about being Myself !!

Yes, you read it right ! I am the happiest whenever I get the chance to be myself. Whether it is wearing my favorite pair of (worn out) jeans, listening to my favorite music, reading a favorite book, eating a choco-bar or a ripe mango, taking my dog for a walk in the park, chatting with friends and family or even playing with my toddler, I enjoy each of these activities that bring on a spontaneous smile on my face. It does not take much to make me happy and that is the way I prefer it to be.

It gels well with my life philosophy which was handed down to me by my late grandfather. He always preached the mantra of 'Simple Living, High Thinking'. Maybe being born in the Gandhian era, the principle was well indoctrinated in him but I feel that it still holds a lot of relevance in today's world that is driven by too many aspirations. Most of us are aware of the often devastating outcomes when those aspirations are not fulfilled. Deriving happiness and satisfaction from the simple pleasures of life ensures a positive mindset which in turn paves the way for focusing on loftier goals.

Someone truly said that happiness is just a state of mind. That is we can decide whether or not we want to remain happy and stress free. Being happy brings on positive feelings which in turn generate more happiness. I remember reading somewhere that people want to be around happy folks because they are perceived as being more successful and also because some of that happiness rubs off on them too. For it is difficult not to smile back when someone smiles at you. It can be compared to something like the Domino effect.

With social inclusion holding the key to a long life, the importance of remaining happy cannot be ignored. Grumpy folks are given the cold shoulder by one and all. This in turn breeds even more resentment which in the long term manifests itself in the form of physical ailments which definitely reduce the quality of life if not shortening it to some extent. Is it not a big price to pay for avoiding those smiles that cost nothing ? On the other hand, a happy mind leads to a healthy body.

It is very easy to blame external factors for the lack of happiness in our life. To some extent it is true that meaningful relationships and work satisfaction play a significant role but happiness is something that begins within ourselves and is not imbibed from the external environment. Managing our expectations also plays a key role and ensures a more meaningful life for ourselves and our near and dear ones. For being happy is the ultimate goal in life and all our efforts should be directed in ensuring the same.

This post is written for Coca-Cola .

Friday, March 20, 2015

Book Review : Ramayana - The Game of Life (Shattered Dreams Book 2)

Perhaps the greatest injustice done to our epics have been relegating them to the place of worship. For they contain the wisdom that is meant to be handed down over the generations instead of being locked up in the name of religion. Sage Valmiki's Ramayana is no exception, for every episode and every character is a case study in human and quantitative psychology. How unfortunate then that something so valuable is now considered uncool by the current generation !!

It then takes someone like Shubha Vilas to narrate it in a language that resonates with the youth of today and bring it back into popular imagination. A sequel to the first book 'The Rise of the Sun Prince', this book traces the events in Rama's life that precede his planned coronation, the bitter twist of fate and the initial days of the exile. Now I must admit that I have not read the first part though I am aware of the good reviews. I did pick up a fair portion of the Ramayana from my elders during the growing up years and had not thought of reconnecting with the epic since. Plus the feminist in me is forever up in arms against the 'Agni pareeksha' episode that Sita had to endure. But that has changed with this book. Now I am planning to order 'The Rise of The Sun Prince' and all the sequels as and when they hit the stalls. I am especially looking forward to the chapters that revolve around Sita and how sensitively the author handles them.

When the aging Dasaratha is besieged by nightmares and wishes to relinquish power and anoint Rama as his successor, the shallow minded Keikeyi devises a shrewd plan to exile the latter and to put the ropes into the hands of her own son. At this juncture, one can almost draw the parallel with India's aging politicians who suddenly find themselves out in the cold. This episode iterates the need for a leader to step down while he is still at the peak of his power and any signs of weakness are still undetected. For opportunists like Keikeyi, any sign of failing (which in the case of Dasaratha was his lust for the much younger and beautiful Keikeyi) signals an opportunity to grab power.

Deeper into the narration, one comes to know that Dasaratha was under the influence of a curse for having killed Shravan kumar and causing much distress (and ultimately death) to his blind parents. While his intentions might have been sabotaged by the devious Keikeyi, the seeds for his sorrow were already sown in his past. It goes to show that one has to bear the consequences of one's action and others can only act as a medium for it.

Some of the other memorable lessons in this book are the faultless arguments put up by Sita and Lakshmana who decide to accompany Rama to the forest , the first night of the exile and the story of the boatman . Of course there is an interesting chapter on Ravana's life too !

The footnotes included at the bottom of each page are quite useful. They provide detailed explanation and in most cases add to the narration with relevant facts without actually breaking the flow of the plot.

All in all, this is a great read. A big thanks to BlogAdda for giving me the opportunity to read and review this masterpiece !!!

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