Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Visit to Shirdi wale Sai Baba - A Guest Post


While I was holidaying in India, I received an e-mail from the folks at MyBusTickets.in to contribute a short article to my blog. MyBusTickets.in was launched by online entrepreneurs and is all about booking bus tickets through mobile and online for travel within India. Check out their blog for some nicely written travel articles covering various destinations within the country. Traveling by bus in India is something that I have done quite frequently and I'm all for exploring the available options to make traveling by bus as comfortable and safe as possible. I've never featured articles on my blog other than my own with the exception of one guest post by my husband (well, he is not counted!) so I thought why not? The correspondence was quick and smooth and I received this article that you see here along with a few pictures. 

So, let's get the show on the road shall we? 

Happy reading!


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Baker's Corner: Valentine's Day Special - Japanese Cheesecake


Wishing all my readers a very Happy Valentine's Day!

I'm a day late in publishing this post but that's because even though I crafted this post yesterday, I was able to complete the troublesome photography part only this morning. Oh well....I'm making an effort to keep blogging as regularly as possible so better late than never!

Valentines Day isn't a big deal to me really. I've written a previous post chronicling my thoughts and if you have read it, you would know. Then why have I taken all this trouble to bake something to acknowledge the occasion (which I also did last year by the way), you ask? Well, I just need any excuse to cook something fancy! tee....hee

Every year, we inevitably succumb to the valentine's day hype and end up going to a movie and a fancy restaurant afterwards. This year, I decided that for the very first time (in the history of us being a couple), we could enjoy a quiet evening at home. My husband decided to cook me a scrumptious main course of penne in a roasted garlic cream sauce with portobello mushrooms and broccoli and I decided to bake him a decadent Japanese Cheesecake. We lit a candle and enjoyed a memorable candle-lit dinner in the comfort of our home We even watched a romantic movie on tv (albeit if it was DDLJ, a movie, we have seen a million times). It made me realize that sometimes going out can be overrated :P


Moving on from the subject of Valentine's day, in one of my previous posts, I said that I wanted to broaden my baking repertoire. With this post, I've made a sincere attempt to do just that. Cheesecake is something I've eaten a hundred times but never made it myself. The cheesecake that I'm used to eating is the regular kind (that most of you are familiar with) which typically consists of an upper thick layer of a mixture of soft cheese, eggs, and sugar and a bottom thin crust made from crushed cookies or graham crackers. This kind of cheesecake is a sinful guilty pleasure which makes you want to scamper to the gym afterward. In this Japanese variety of cheesecake, the meringue is mixed into the cream cheese base which creates an incredibly airy and fluffy texture, so you don't get that heavy full feeling from eating this that you would do normally (it still packs in the calories though!).

This is not exactly what I would call an easy-peasy recipe. The ingredients are pretty basic but the procedure is quite lengthy. I started to bake it in the evening after getting home from work and I took my own sweet time to finish it. But what makes it worth it, is if you follow the recipe to a T, it is a fail-proof recipe and the outcome is fabulous!



I

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Recipe of the month: Ukkarisida Akki Rotti

I'm back in Singapore! After three weeks of doing no physical work, shopping galore, eating like a polar bear before it goes into hibernation and being pampered silly by my family, I feel a tad glum to get back to my usual routine. But that being said, after returning from a long holiday, I feel privately happy to get back to my beloved home, my work and my friends so the feeling of melancholy is short lived

This dish is my mum's first contribution to my blog. Akki rotti, a rice-based breakfast item, unique to my home state of Karnataka is probably one of the few dishes that I truly crave for year round. The minute I get home, the first thing I will invariably ask my mum is "Amma, akki rotti yaavaga maadkodthiya nange?" (translation: mom, when will you make akki rotti for me?). And as if getting my dose of akki rotti from home was not enough, I will head straight to one of my favourite local restaurants for more! I do prepare akki rotti at home quite frequently but having someone else to painstakingly make it for you is something else, isn't it?

Back home, we prepare two kinds of rottis using rice flour. Both taste distinctly different from each other but are pretty awesome in their own way. The first one has already been featured on my blog and we usually refer to that one by default as akki rotti or masala rotti. The one in this post is what we refer to as ukkarisida rotti or more commonly, bili rotti and for some peculiar reason, I don't make it at all. I think the main reason is because I like eating this bili rotti with avarekalu usli (avarekalu: hyacinth beans; usli: a dry side dish) and avarekalu is not something I easily get in Singapore. Of course, there are other popular side dishes for bili rotti like badanekayi ennegayi (eggplant curry) or special types of chutney but the avarekalu usli is the only one that cuts it for me. The few times I managed to find avarekalu at the market in Little India in Singapore, I have discovered them to be quite sad looking things and not the plump firm chartreuse green beans that I remember from back home. It so happened that I was in India just as the avarekai season had started to end so I picked up three packets of the peeled variety and brought it back to Singapore. That's the reason why I am as happy as a drunken monkey!

I've been a little cheeky off late. First, I got my MIL to cook rice shavige (semige) for my blog and this time, I decided that it would be my mum's turn! On both occasions, not only did I manage to get two kick-ass dishes (pardon my language) on my space but I also got to savour my most favourite breakfast dishes ever. Talk about killing two birds with one stone....twice!

This post is solely dedicated to bili rotti. Amma makes a mean avarekai usli that is packed full of flavour, spicy and goes incredibly well with the soft, fluffy and mild tasting bili rotti. Amma has taught me how to make avarekai usli and as I told you earlier, I have brought back avarekai to Singapore so next month's recipe post on my blog will be that of avarekai usli. If you are a fan of the dish or even curious about it, you know that you've gotta come back here!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My Photo Gallery: The Language of Flowers

I am on a mission. A mission to hone my photography skills. Truth be told, aside from the occasional food photography that I do for my blog, I don't really use my Canon 40D SLR camera for much else. My husband is the one who takes most of our holiday photos and so, over the years, I've become hopelessly reliant on him to fill our photo memoirs. I have my own darling little pink sony cybershot camera (a graduation present from Dad) that I use ALL the time but whenever I'm using that, getting technically good shots is the last thing on my mind  *grins sheepishly*

In the crusade to take my photography to the next level, I decided that I would start experimenting with different lens and settings of my SLR camera focussing chiefly on non-food related subjects. Flowers are the first thing that sprung to my mind when I thought of all the possible easy subjects to photograph. Since the brainwave to do a photo gallery series came to me while in India, all I had to do was step out of the house and into the garden and begin shooting! 

With this post, I'm kickstarting the photo gallery series on my blog, showcasing my (somewhat amateurish) photography in the hope that as time goes by, I will improve and this segment will constantly serve as a main source of inspiration (fingers crossed!). If there are any good photographers out there who happen to be reading this post right now, please do share your tips, tricks and suggestions regarding how I could better my efforts. 

Well then, let's begin the photo journey :)