Saturday, January 21, 2017

Family Fun at Club Mahindra Resort - Madikeri, Coorg

I've been suffering from a mild case of post-holiday blues. Quite expected when you go through more than three weeks of nothing but eat-sleep-repeat! No setting alarms, no household chores, no never-ending to-do lists....not even babysitting (and this is a twin mom talking here!). There were people who would readily take over childminding duties for me even without my asking. So all I did was eat, vegetate on the couch, sleep, catch up with family and friends, go out and shop like nobody's business. I don't remember the last time I got to live the life of a sloth! So now I'm back to the grind and pining for those days of utter laziness. It has taken a herculean effort to get off my behind and show the blog some love. 

Food-related posts can wait for the time being (coz after all that mindless bingeing, food is the last thing on my mind!). During our holiday in India, we went on a short trip to a resort in Madikeri, Coorg with my siblings. Even though it was for a few days, we had such a memorable time that I had to blog about the experience. 

Madikeri is a hill station and the vibrant capital of Coorg, a little corner of Karnataka. Nestled in the Western Ghats, the district is known for its exquisite beauty. It is verdant and filled with nature’s splendour that spans more shades of green than you know exist. Driving in, the plains gradually gives way to mountain ranges and as the road begins to curve upwards, the wide vistas of hills and mountains transports visitors to another world. All around are mountains, hills, valleys, paddy fields, grasslands, coffee plantations, pepper and cardamom plants, orange orchards and amidst all this flows the life-sustaining river Cauvery.

During my lifetime, I have passed by Madikeri innumerable times so I am no stranger to the place. Hailing from Udupi, any road trip from Mysore to Udupi would invariably take us through Madikeri. It used to be our go-to place for coffee/tea pit stops. Breathing in the chilly air while sipping hot cups of masala tea with my family brings back fond memories. Aside from brief stopovers, I've been there on a few family trips and college trips too. 

This trip took a wee bit of planning since we had three kids under the age of three travelling with us. We were looking for a resort that was suitable for families with young children and offered activities to keep them occupied (coz everyone knows what toddlers can be like!). Club Mahindra was one of the first options that came up and it ended up being the destination of choice. 

Set amidst this lush green landscape, Club Mahindra Coorg is a sprawling resort built in the local ainmanés tradition and is located within a coffee plantation, swirling with scents, colours and sights of the hill station. It has 220 luxurious apartments and lots of facilities including a gym, two swimming pools, three restaurants, a lobby lounge and bar, a holiday activity centre, a spa complex and more.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Recipe of the month: Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Raspberry Overnight Oats

Wishing all my readers a very 
Happy New Year 2017!!!

I never thought the day would come when I would feature an overnights oats recipe on the blog 😛 But ever since I got back to work, I hardly get free time to come up with above-par culinary creations. So until I magically acquire a time turner, sprout two extra pair of limbs or figure out how to clone myself, simple recipes it is going to be! On the subject of all things simple....drinks have also been a heavily neglected segment on the blog so I may feature more of those too.

This is how mornings unfold in my household ⇒ With my current schedule, I need to be out of the house by 8:20am on a work week. On the bright side, the sun is out (pun intended!). The husband drives me to work everyday and the blessed route we take bypasses all the rush-hour traffic snarls which gets me in record time so I guess I don't have much to complain about. But mornings are always kinda crazy with me rising early to go for a swim or to the gym and then coming back to delegate instructions regarding my toddlers meals or else doing the prep work myself and then making a dozen mental check-lists for the day. After that, it leaves just enough time for us adults to get showered, dressed, caffeinated and say goodbye to two clingy kids. With all this going on, I sometimes don't have time to have breakfast or other times I just forget!

I have a collection of quick breakfast essentials (read: cornflakes, granola bars and fruit) at my workplace but when my to-do list seems longer than the Nile, I find it a herculean effort to put something together and then clean up after. The easy way out is to just skip breakfast altogether.

Having said that, I understand the importance of a good breakfast and therefore came up with a contingency plan. I decided to keep a mason jar of overnight oats ready in the fridge whenever I feel like the next morning is going to swallow me whole. The best thing about overnight oats is that they are great to eat right out of the fridge, convenient to grab on the go, taste delicious, comprise (mostly) of ingredients that are good for you and will keep you fuelled up till lunch time. I can go a good five hours without feeling hungry which from personal experience, enhances productivity at work.

This recipe has rolled oats, peanut butter, chocolate, fresh fruit and nuts. I mean....duh!! Even though I will gladly shun sweet breakfasts for the savoury kind, breakfast that tastes like dessert is pretty hard to pass over! I usually have some time to myself after the kids go to bed (I call it my 'happy hour' 😝) so all I have to do is set aside 5-10 minutes of that time, put together a jar of overnight oats and stash it in the fridge. The next day is just grab and go! The best way to kickstart a busy mum's day, don't you think? And's not just for mum....daddy and the kids like it too!

Watch out for more delicious and easy overnight oats recipe that I will be experimenting with in the coming few months. Till then, don't underestimate the power of a good breakfast and try this recipe to start your day right 💪

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Christmas Special: Two Ingredient Chocolate Cake

You guys....I have such a fab dessert for you today. It is perfect for the holidays!

I'm sure everyone is gearing up to welcome the festive season. One of the highlights of this time of year for me (aside from the obvious feasting, presents, home trip and the cool weather that comes with it) is that I'm humming "jingle bells" all day instead of the usual "the wheels on the bus go round and round" 😝

Christmas Cake and Christmas Pudding have already been featured on the blog. This year I was torn between Gingersnap Cookies and Mini Fruit Tarts. Then I realized that I may not have time to do anything and so I abandoned the idea of doing a Christmas special blog post altogether. But then without warning, this chocolate cake came into my life and tweaked the course of my holiday baking!

In early November, I kept a jar of dry fruits soaking in liquor in my fridge in order to bake a Christmas cake for my colleagues and family back home. The cake was supposed to be ready by the first week of December but unfortunately my attention got diverted with my little ones taking turns contracting HFMD (which put them out of commission for two weeks) and the husband having to go away for a week on a business trip soon after. I began panicking if I could make time for the Christmas cake given I had to tie up several loose ends at work, finish my Christmas gift shopping, invite a few friends over for a gathering, make a million lists, sort out a bunch of stuff at home and complete a mountain of packing but then in a rare (ok...not so rare!) fit of insanity, I baked this two ingredient chocolate cake because it was too hard to resist! 😁

On the bright side, fast forward to today, save for the packing, all my plans are done and dusted 😏 I'm going to start cramming our suitcases at lightening speed this weekend so wish me luck!

I stumbled across this recipe on Instagram from a blogger whose sugar work I really admire. It looked kinda too good to be true so I had to check it out.

This cake has two ingredients......just TWO! Say WHAAAT? 😮 No flour, no butter, no added sugar, no milk....nought/nil/nada. Just good ol' chocolate and eggs. The two come together in a culinary duet to create something special. Eggs are the magic ingredient of this recipe so unless you want me tear my hair out, please don't ask for a substitute! If you don't consume eggs or don't prefer to use them in your desserts, then this recipe is not for you.

I actually cheated a bit and added a tsp of vanilla extract even though it wasn't mentioned in the original recipe. Whenever a recipe calls for egg yolks to be mixed in separately, I always add in vanilla extract along with it to prevent any 'egginess' in the finished product. I have listed vanilla extract as an optional ingredient so it's your call. 

I didn't have high expectations with regards to taste considering the recipe had only two ingredients but I was so stunned by how it turned out! I was finding it hard to tell that there wasn't any flour in the cake! Gluten-free advocates will be mighty pleased. And the cake was soft, moist and had that melt in the mouth texture to it. Most cakes have that sugary sweetness but this one doesn't. It is just mildly sweet which I think would be appealing to people who don't like their desserts cloyingly sweet. I dusted the cake generously with icing sugar because my palette felt it was needed and topped them with fresh strawberries. I think fresh raspberries would work too. Ice-cream on the side would be a nice touch too but it's not mandatory.....the cake can stand up for itself.

If you haven't got around to holiday baking yet, grab a giant bar of chocolate and eggs and get this lovely looking, guilt-free dessert on the tables in under an hour. You will shine brighter than that star sitting on top of the Christmas tree! 💫

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Recipe of the month: Ragi Dosa (Finger Millet Crepe)

If you have lived in India, particularly South India, chances are, you are familiar with ragi (also called finger millet or nachni).

A generation or two ago, ragi featured commonly in the Indian states where the crop is cultivated. The once well-known cereal is however diminishing from most people’s diets today. It is unfortunate, considering the nutritive and therapeutic value of ragi towards health and well-being. Ragi has high protein content, is a rich source of minerals, helps control diabetes, keeps weight in check, battles anemia, reduces 'bad' cholesterol and has anti-cancer properties. I can't think of a single reason why we shouldn't incorporate this miracle cereal into our diet! It won't be long before this one finds recognition in the International 'superfoods' list which has become quite the craze in recent years. And then I will roll my eyes 😝

Despite hailing from Karnataka and living most of my life in Mysore, ragi is not something that I grew up eating. The reason being that ragi isn't originally a part of Udupi-style cuisine. Ragi mudde, ragi dosa and ragi rotti are dishes that I used to see most of my friends and neighbours eating. I was curious about the dark brown ragi-containing dishes that didn't look appetizing to me at all. As I grew older, my mum did start experimenting with ragi by making ragi rotti once in awhile but I wasn't too keen on it back then. Ragi is definitely an acquired taste so over the years, in the form of rotti and dosa (I'm still not a fan of mudde), I've somewhat grown accustomed to it.

This is the instant version of ragi dosa that I am sharing with you which means no fermentation required (yay!). At first, I tried making ragi dosas using just ragi flour but it felt like something wasn't quite right. I then started adding in a little bit of this and that to make the taste and texture better. I found that incorporating semolina, rice flour and whole wheat flour made the dosas much more palatable. After several trials, I arrived at this particular recipe and it has been my go-to recipe ever since. It appears on our breakfast table during the weekends very frequently even replacing rava dosa which was a previous favourite. Maybe calling it ragi dosa would be a bit unjustified since it contains other grains as well but we'll just go with the name ragi dosa, because I say so okay? Okay.