Travel Diaries:Bangkok Revisited & A Thai Recipe Too

For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return…

Leonardo da Vinci

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Our vacations most often are pre planned with a lot of thought into the destination,food,sight-seeing etc.However, I love it when a travel plan happens just out of the blue,spontaneously,sort of an impromptu one so to speak.Well the dear husband had work related travels to Singapore and suggested that my son and I come along and we could club it with a short trip to Bangkok too he said.

It’s always fun travelling to the Far East,for one the travel time is fairly short, and of course the food,night life and shopping,admittedly make it an alluring proposition,albeit revisited.We have travelled to  both cities a couple of times, Bangkok several years ago.The city has changed and modernised is what I heard from friends who travelled there recently.So yes of course, I jumped at the idea of a quick family vacay. Our time in Singapore was short and I  spent it  mostly catching up with some friends.  Of course the highlight was being able to watch the Broadway production of Les Miserables,which was a spectacular performance and a houseful one that too.

Our flight to Bangkok was a short one.My husbands colleagues recommended  staying around  the Ploenchit – Sukhumvit area as it is  quite accessible to shopping malls and easy to get around to various sight-seeing spots around the city. So we booked ourselves into the Novotel hotel.The location turned out to be just perfect as it had a Metro right outside and a short walk to most of the malls and areas of interest.

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50 Great Curries of India: Cook Book Review and A Recipe

Madras Style Lamb Curry: Recipe adapted from 50 Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi

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Camellia Panjabi, cook book author of 50 Great Curries of India needs little introduction and is most certainly without a doubt one of my favourite Indian cookbooks.Fondly also know as the “Queen of Indian Cuisine”,her book is a delightful revelation of some traditional and authentic Indian recipes from various regions of India.

Now I had acquired her book probably a couple of decades ago,being a newly wed and on the look out for good Indian curry recipes,all to please the dear husband then. Winning his heart through his stomach was a huge priority then as much it is now,as we both are passionate about our food and specifically a good curry.Having lived internationally for many years,looking for specific  ingredients and getting the base for the curry right may have required a bit of scouting for ingredients.All though using substitutes have always worked well for most recipes.We have recently relocated to Mumbai and have no dearth of spices,fresh meats and vegetables and it’s something I look forward buying.

I refer to this book often and would perhaps christen it my “Curry Bible”, if I had to.The book starts of with the philosophy of

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Vallonne Vineyards: There’s Always Time For A Glass of Wine

 

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I’ve been contemplating a blog post on some quick getaway’s from Mumbai as Jd and I are quite the “Let’s just drive off for the weekend sort of folks”.  While I’m still in the process of  collating  the information and editing images,(as I’d like to add on a couple of good weekend destinations),I thought I may as well go ahead with the Vineyard tour that we explored recently.We decided to visit the Vallonne Vineyards on this trip.Nestled amongst the gorgeous Sahyadri slopes of Maharashtra,Vallonne Vineyard’s is a  premium boutique winery and  a great place to drive off to and unwind.The drive  is approximately 160 kms by road from Mumbai and just south of Nasik,the Wine capital of India.

Yes indeed, Nasik is a premium wine growing region playing host to some well branded wineries.Indian wines have certainly evolved in the past decade or so and this region can quite easily be coined as India’s Napa Valley.

Vallonne is definitely one to keep an eye on.This premium boutique winery aims at  bringing the “French Chateau” experience to India. Our main agenda was of course Vino sampling.We started off with some white’s.The Chenin blanc was refreshing and quite light bodied. The Sauvignon blanc also crisp and clean. Both the red wines, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon were full-bodied and well oaked.

Ideal for a weekend,we decided to spend a night at this wine resort a couple of months ago. Continue reading

Thai Red Curry with Shrimp: 30 Minute Meal

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My blog seems to be forming a pattern ,or so I think.

I tend to write-up a post that takes you on a food journey of sorts,perhaps a culinary trail,a visit to an exotic land coupled with a food demo and a recipe.These posts are then followed by a tried and tested recipe that I  have experimented with in my kitchen.Well I quite like this format as it gives the reader a variety and my aim of course is to take you down some parts unknown with a guide to some unique culinary attractions.

Now there is a section that I had been meaning to start off for sometime now and well here it is.I want to add-on some fuss free,easy to cook up,ready in 30 minute meals that have less prep time and aim at making weeknight less stressful for all of us.So here we go with the first of the recipes.This is my to go Curry in a hurry for times where the family is craving a good quick fix Asian delight.It is a meal by itself as I serve this up with some sticky Jasmine rice and if time permits a quick raw papaya salad to go along with it.

I’ve chosen to use a ready Red Thai Curry paste for this recipe.There are various brands available,all though I do make up a mean curry paste from scratch,which stays well once refrigerated. This curry has an assortment of fresh vegetables and do feel free to add some of your own choice.The baby aubergines are optional,all though they do add a great texture and bite to this Thai curry.The use of fresh Thai basil is quite important here as it highlights the flavour very well.Another key ingredient that balance’s out this dish really well is the Thai Fish sauce.Take care to measure the sauce out before adding it into the curry as it is quite strong. Last but not the least is a squeeze of lemon juice that adds some zing to the curry.You may even use chicken for this recipe. Continue reading

Goa…Spice Farms, Food Markets And A Recipe

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This past summer has been a busy one with our dear  son visiting us and keeping me busy in the kitchen too. Bless him.While it’s sometimes a daunting task coming up with new recipes that whet his appetite,it keeps me on the look out for new interesting one’s like this Goa Sausage curry I made up for him and the hubs.It was absolutely wonderful having a houseful again. Now we did  managed to get away on a family vacation to Goa, primarily also to beat the sweltering heat in Mumbai.It’s been a dry monsoon here with hardly any rains,besides Goa in the rains is magical indeed.

The quick escape to the land of beaches, sunshine and lush greenery did wonders for the soul and for the food obsessed traveller that I am.As any new journey kindles an excitement brought about by new cultures,cuisines and experiences. The Goan Hubs was thrilled to visit his own country as he often calls it.His family is originally from Goa,however moved away decades ago and now live in Mumbai.

Not that this was a first visit to Goa.There have been several quick trips to attend  Family weddings, Baby showers,Weekend trip,and well yes even honeymooned in Goa two decades ago.Most often our trips turn out to be beach centric of course or perhaps lazy weekends at the resort we stay in. While I quite enjoy the “lying in the sun and watch the world go by”,I tend to get antsy by the second day.I’m an explorer at heart and love going down the road less travelled to discover something not so touristy and that revolves around food of course.The two places on my to do list were a trip to the Mapusa Market and  Sahakari Spice farm in Ponda. Well I even managed to get the rest of the family interested in these trips and they turned out very worth a visit.

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Mapusa Market: This place is abuzz with street vendors and established shops alike selling any and everything from fresh local produce, spices, meats and sausages,seafood to even readymade clothes,textiles and jewellery.This market captures the essence of  Goa and is a riot of colour and a hustle bustle of activity. The vendors are at their  colourful best ,travelling from neighbouring villages to sell their locally grown or manufactured wares, including spices of all kinds. Fresh fruits and vegetables are displayed in abundance. The market is well known for its jewellery, pottery, spice, and carpet shops. Many of the stalls in the bazaar are grouped by type of goods, with special areas for straw hats, Goan home-made chouriço and the like. Strings of Goan chouriço, spiced and marinated pork sausages, are sold here. Seedless tamrind , or amot as it is known locally, is also traded in great demand.Wandering around these winding lanes was a discovery indeed. I was even amazed at some places that sold wonderful fresh Goan bread known as Pao or Poee,which have a crusty exterior and a deliciously soft centre.Just perfect warm with butter slathered.I decided to take a dozen of these back home as they freeze well for later use.

Our bags were packed with these freshly baked Bread Buns,Dried Shrimp, Goan beans know as Fejao, Sol or also know as Kokum which is used in Goan fish curries spices like Teffla used in Mackerel curries and a bottle of Cashew Feni,to complete my Goan shopping experience.  This visit was a treat indeed and perhaps as often said “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”,I knew my hubs would be ecstatic with Goan treats from my kitchen.

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These Gorgeous fresh flowers that caught my fancy were a sight to behold.A trip to these fresh markets is a must.This market is open on all days except Sunday’s ,all though Friday’s are when they seem the busiest. Do put this down on your itinerary on the next visit to Goa.

Sahakari Spice Farm:

This lush acreage is spread over of 130 acres, 60 acres of this area is exclusively devoted to the cultivation of Spices, Fruits, Medicinal trees and Herbs.We toured these farms which was organised by means of guide who seemed well versed in her repertoire of various spices that grew here and even gave us some amazing tips on the health benefits on some of them. This farm has an abundance of Fresh pepper,Cinnamon,Vanilla beans,Cloves,Curry leaves among many more varieties.

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Interesting Fact: It was quite surprising to learn that The Indian Teja Patta, is indeed the leaf of the Cassia tree (Common Cinnamon).

Health Benefits of Cinnamon:

  • Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants and has potent anti inflammatory properties.
  • Helps in reduction of bad Cholesterol.
  • Improves Insulin Resistance.
  • Lowers Blood sugar levels

It is important to source the real Cinnamon as most often what is available is the Cassia bark that imitates Cinnamon.Some great information as explained by our lovely guide on tour of this spice farm.

We ended our tour at the spice farm with a delicious Goan fare at the restaurant which is located here.A fish Thali with finger licking Prawn Curry,Chicken Curry, Fried Surmai (King Fish) and an assortment of vegetables too.Hope I’ve tempted you to travel to Goa and discover this hidden gem.

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Well a trip to Goa is not complete without the mandatory stock of Goa Pork Sausages.There are quite a variety available to choose from.Some branded ones like Costas, J0a0’s are readily available in the market stores or perhaps you may even like to buy some freshly strung one’s that the vendors sell  in Mapusa.I picked up an assortment as they stay well refrigerated. So if asked what’s for dinner? GPS aka Goan Pork Sausage was my answer the other night,which instantly lit my the hub’s face and the son quite enjoyed this too.

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 Recipe for Goa Pork Sausages:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Packet Goa Pork Sausages( Meat removed from the casing)
  • 2 Medium Onions (sliced finely)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Oil
  • 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1-2 Green chilies (slit lengthwise)
  • 2 Small Potatoes (Cubed and Boiled)
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped Coriander for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon Tomato Paste

Method:

  1. Remove the sausage meat from its casing.
  2. Now heat a pan and add some oil to it and fry the onions till medium brown.
  3. Next add in the green chilies and ginger-garlic paste and fry for a few minutes.
  4. Now add in the sausage meat and fry well.
  5. Stir in the tomato paste and add water enough to cover the mixture.
  6. Let this simmer for a good 30-40 minutes so as to cook the meat well.
  7. Once reduced add in the boiled potatoes and garnish with chopped coriander.
  8. Remove any excess oil that may come up during cooking the sausage.
  9. Serve with Pao or any bread.