Sex sells


Clever marketing, that’s what titles like that are for. I came across a coffee shop on Oxford Street in London, which had the below board that read “SEX SELLS, unfortunately we sell Coffee”. It sure made the tired and distracted me pay attention, marketing tricks…

SexSells

I wonder if this same trick would work online. Maybe the number of hits on this post will tell us the truth…

Akdeniz Turkish Cuisine


I have a special fondness for Turkish food and after craving Turkish food for a few months we made a visit to Akdeniz Turkish Cuisine in midtown Manhattan. We went for the prix-fix menu and my favorite part about restaurants was that as soon as we entered after an exhausting day at work, we were promptly served some hot bread & olive oil. It was comforting to munch on some bread while I made up my mind on what to order.

IMG_0003

For appetizers, we went for Lebni and Spinach Tarator both yoghurt based and finger-licking delicious. Lebni is a thick homemade yoghurt with walnut, garlic, dill & mint; while spinach tarator is sautéed spinach mixed with garlic, cream of yoghurt and walnuts. To me the combination of yoghurt and walnut was new and exciting, there’s no Indian dish I can think of which puts the two together. I sure have a tweak in mind for the Indian yoghurt-based dishes.

IMG_0002

Spinach Tarator

IMG_0001

Lebni

For mains, we ordered Chicken Shish Kebab and Skewered Ground Chicken. Both dishes were similar with respect to the way they were cooked (char grilled) & the fact that they were both served with rice and vegetables. I personally liked the skewered chicken better as it was better seasoned, there were peppers and the skewers were nice and moist. The kebabs were also cooked well, although they could definitely do with a little more seasoning. The sides I wasn’t sold on, the lettuce seemed far from fresh & the grilled tomato lacking seasoning. The sweet kraut side, I am personally not a fan of, so I don’t think it would be fair for me to say anything about it as I probably wouldn’t even like the best kraut.

IMG_0005

Chicken Shish Kebab

IMG_0004

Skewered Ground Chicken

For dessert, came a slightly caramelized Turkish Custard. I guess because I was told it would be a custard, I wanted it to be not so firm, the spoon would just not slide through. Added to that I thought it was too sweet for me to deal with. Unfortunately just an average dessert…

IMG_0007

The other dessert was something that sounded extremely exciting on the menu but again was a sheer letdown. Kadayif, baked shredded wheat stuffed with walnut’s flavored with honey syrup, garnished with pistachios. I think it was the probably the bitterness from the wheat bran and the nutty flavor of the walnut itself which gave a slightly bitter aftertaste. Even the cloyingly sweet sugar syrup couldn’t mask this. This was the weakest link in the dinner for me.
IMG_0006

The dinner started off on a great note with the refreshing starters, decent mains (good owing to the chicken skewers alone) but disastrous desserts. But if a place charges you as much as Akdeniz does, it is a let down the lettuce on your plate looks like it was chopped a couple of days in advance. Despite all these nitpicks, there was nothing more they could do to make the skewered chicken any better… I would still say it is overpriced and you would be able to find a better meal in Manhattan for less.

Most favorite dish: A no-brainer, the ground skewered chicken
Least favorite dish : Kadayif

Overall Verdict : 3/5
Pocket Pinch : $35 per person

Shakshuka


Not sure how many of you are fans of savory breakfast, I sure am. I find the waffle, pancake and maple syrup a bit much to stomach in the morning. I am always on the lookout for breakfast recipes other than the usual omelette and eggs benedict. This Mediterranean savory baked eggs recipe seems to just fit the bill – its savory, tangy, spicy and healthy.

IMG_0110

Ingredients:
1. Eggs – 3
2. Onions – 2 (medium sized)
3. Tomatoes – 3 (medium sized)
4. Green bell pepper – 1 (large)
5. Garlic – 4-5 cloves
6. Cayenne – to taste
7. Salt – to taste
8. Cracked black pepper – to taste
9. Jalapeño – 1
10. Cumin seeds – 1 tbl spn
11. Coriander leaves (Cilantro) – 3 tbl spn

Heat some oil in a pan, add the cumin seeds and the onions & sauté till the onions are transparent. Next add salt, cayenne, chopped green pepper. Sauté until cayenne is cooked. Next add the tomatoes, jalapeño, garlic and cook until the tomatoes are cooked. Then add finely chopped coriander leaves. Finally add the eggs and put the pan into a preheated oven at 350degs for 10mins. Add some salt and freshly cracked black pepper on the eggs and serve!

IMG_0109

Drawing the line


line-in-the-sand

Drawing the line between bending and bending until you break, that is what I am going to take a stab at. Though it may sound like its an easy distinction but when in a relationship, it really isn’t. The world is jaundiced with our obscure theoretical view of “love”.

This theoretical view of love bothers me… No, it doesn’t just bother me it outright annoys me. People idolize and idealize love, they make you want to believe that differences don’t matter and truck loads of turd. It is our literature, music and movies ingrains this concept which couldn’t be further from reality. If you hear anyone who says “Love is enough” (I am sure you will) punch them in the face if you can because this is one of those trashy lines you should just dismiss!

I think its unfortunate that people go starry-eyed and dump logic behind this theoretical love and ruin any shot they have at real happiness. When I was thinking this way, I thought maybe I am just emotionally numb but on reading Mark Manson’s article ‘Love is not enough’ I just felt re-assured that I’m not emotionally disabled. One of my favorite lines from the above article is “It’s possible to fall in love with somebody who sucks for us and our happiness.” and it hits you hard especially if you have something to relate to.

There is a fine line between adjusting and sacrificing yourself in the name of love – you’ve got to discover and define that for yourself else you’re going to be bruised through the whole relationship drill. This is one of those phases where you should dismiss what most people say because their views are tainted by the theoretical starry-eyed love. Love will not fix the underlying issues you have in your relationship. It may seem odd but I relate Taylor Swift’s line “Bandaids don’t fix bullet holes” with this thought.

You’ve got to sit down for yourself and decide where you want to draw that line between adjusting & self-sacrificing and there is no right place for it. Its what suits you the best.

Love, bliss and shining stars


Selfless love, bliss and shining stars are terms I’ve always heard and cringed a bit. For those of you who know me know I am not a mushy person. Never would I’ve thought that I would put up with someone’s shit and still love them. But as always I was proven wrong…

Expression of ‘selfless love’ is unique at different ages & phases of our journey. I think mine came at the age of 20 when my first niece was born. Kyra took over my position of being the baby in the family. In fact, the first day I met her, she was this tiny package of sheer perfectness. Seeing her that day I just couldn’t close my eyes and miss a moment of admiring how flawlessly beautiful she was. Of course, the next morning wasn’t great but I think it was totally worth it !

I lived with her for her first 2 years and I can without any doubt say those have been the best! Each day was a new lesson with her. My first lesson came in week 1 with her, it was when I realised that it is in fact possible to clean someones shit (literally) and still love them more each day. That’s when it struck me selfless love can have simple and humble beginnings like this. I know this may come across as shallow and even trivial to some people but this is the strongest emotion I have experienced.

The best things always come to you for short periods of time and so was my experience of living with her on a day-to-day basis. Kyra, I wish I could watch you grow up each day and spend all my time teaching you things and warning you of every personal failure so you can sail through this journey of life. Having said that, I assure you the distance will not save you from me chewing your ear advising you and teaching you everything even if it is not in person.

As you grow up and face challenges of your own, I want you to know there are a lot of us looking out for you. I cannot promise to have all the solutions to your problems but what I can promise is to be a patient listener. To be there for you if you need to make any 3am calls or sharing things without the fear of being judged. I assure you there is nothing at all that can change the way I feel about you in this whole wide world. :)

But I have to warn you there is a one thing I cannot promise you. There is a price to pay for all of that abundant love (selfless love is a bit overrated huh?). I cannot promise you that I wont be that crazy aunt who embarrasses by hugging, kissing & chasing you in front of your friends.

In the end of this post, I want you to know you were the one who taught me how to love and what being blissfully happy means. Not like I haven’t already embarrassed you enough, but I will still go ahead and say you were, are and always will be my shining star!

KyraGuga

Zucchini rolls


Zucchini or Courgette is a very light veggie and goes well with pasta’s, salad’s and I personally think its lightness makes it a great starter for any party!

Here’s a quick (under 15 min) and delicious Zucchini rolls stuffed with olives recipe that is bound to be popular with any crowd.

Ingredients :
Zucchini – 1
Green Olives – 5-7
Oregano – a couple of pinches
Salt – to taste

Get thin ribbons of zucchini, I used the old school grater cum slicer that I have. Season the ribbons with a little salt. Ideally you need to grill these for a couple of seconds to get a lovely charred colour and taste but since I don’t have a griller I stuck to use a non-stick pan with almost no oil so as to get the charred effect. You can add a drop or two if your non-stick pan isn’t really non-stick anymore… Turn the ribbons and it would only take 30secs on an extremely hot pan. So you would need to be quick…

For the filling, throw some chopped olives, oregano and tiny crumbles of cheese or cheese shavings. Ensure the cheese is much smaller than the olives in size so olives dominate the flavour of the rolls and also you can make it that tiny bit healthier ;)

Next stuff your filling into the zucchini ribbons and roll away!

Zucchini rolls

Babies bring joy!


As of 12th February ’14 we have a new baby in the family, my niece baby Mehr! Yay!! Am an aunt again…. Mehr means ‘blessing’ in some languages, it’s also an alternative name to the Zoroastrianism divinity Mithra. I can tell you this little bundle is truly a blessing…

In just these few days I’ve seen the new parents on the block beaming with pride of their creation. Grandparents who just can’t get enough of admiring how perfect she is. A little 3yr old cousin who can’t wait to share her toys with her new playmate. And us aunt’s claiming our right’s over the little one always demanding more pictures and video calls to see those teeny-tiny yawns and dreamy smiles…

The atmosphere in the house is so upbeat & all the cloudy grey days seem a little less grey now. Let’s hope the happiness continues *Touchwood*. Here’s to you baby Mehr and all the joy you’ve brought us!

Below is what Mehr’s grandparents whipped together for her homecoming, I melted with the warmth of the gesture. 
Image

Beechwood Cafe & Bakery


This is my first restaurant review for NYC (NJ) and I wanted to start with my absolute favourite, so here I am reviewing Beechwood Cafe and Bakery. I L.O.V.E Beechwood & I refuse to tone down the emotion just in case you are unsure about visiting this spot. 

Even when it comes to their decor there is hardly anything you can pick fault with. From the cosy feel, to their striped canopy, Marilyn Monroe poster to juice served in mason jars it’s all perfect.

Almost every component in the dishes I tried was spot on. Will start listing out my favourite dishes @ Beechwood.

The freshly squeezed orange juice in the mason jar was indeed fresh (no behind the scenes Tropicana I assure you!).
Orange juice 1

Berry Mix Pancakes – These are by far the best pancakes I have had with real berries even in the pancake. Cherry on the cake (or here pancake) was of course the berry compote. Loved the fact that there was no berry jam thrown in. With real berries and lovely (non-soggy) pancakes one cannot ask for much more…

Berry mix pancake 1

Fried Tofu Eggs Benedict – I was a little weary of ordering fried tofu as a lot of places serve rubbery chewy tofu in the name of frying it, thankfully that wasn’t the case here. The tofu was breaded, very light in texture & not oily. The soy based sauce with chillies for the tofu was another stunner. Eggs were of course done to perfection (as expected).

Fried Tofu eggs benedict

Home fries – This was the next surprise Beechwood had in store for us. They were crispy, perfectly seasoned with peppers and scallions, most importantly they were not oily or soggy. Though I have to confess that the home fries were not consistently as good on multiple visits… Sigh!

Home fries

Belgian Waffles – These looked welcoming like the other dishes but I just had a bite so I cannot tell you much more than my friend definitely ate her plate clean and claimed it was good.

Belgian waffle

Pecan pie – Spot on, the pecan nuts were perfectly roasted and caramelized. The pie itself wasn’t overpoweringly sweet which was a welcome change.
Pecan pie

Cranberry Walnut Tart – This was just an ok dessert. I guess it was the freshness that it was missing…

Cranberry Walnut tart

Overview :
Where : Grove St, Jersey City
Meal : Brunch
Pocket pinch : $$
Ambiance : Cosy
Links : Yelp (Please do not judge by the reviews on yelp alone as this place was recently renovated or so I hear)
Will I visit again: Having visited 4 times in 6 weeks I think this is a no-brainer… YES!

I was itching to give it a 4.5 but owing to the lack of consistency with the home fries, I had to hold myself back. 

Rating : 4/5  

Chicken with boozy mushroom sauce


Being accustomed to Indian food where there are a dozen or more spices in one dish it was difficult (baffling even) for me to imagine a meal with just salt and pepper as spices. But I guess that’s where you fall back on true flavour of the ingredients. So here is my attempt at working with just salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne…

Ingredients:
2 Medium sized Chicken breasts
Potato – 1 Small cut into half
Mushrooms 100 gms
Flour 1Tbspn
Vodka/White wine 1/4 Cup
1 Small sized Onion –  finely diced
Salt – to taste
Black Pepper (freshly cracked) – to taste
Cayenne Pepper – a pinch
Olive oil or butter – 1Tblspn

Image

Lets face the hardest part of this recipe first – its the choice between olive oil and butter. It translates into appeasing your taste buds vs going healthy. For me it was the former (clearly!) so I went for the butter but nothing stopping you from being good! ;)

Now that we are through that, lets get cracking. Take the chicken and add some salt, freshly cracked black pepper and a pinch of cayenne and rub these in. Let it rest for 5mins until you chop the mushrooms and onions. Next, in a non-stick pan add some olive oil or butter put the chicken breast in till you get a light golden colour on both sides but do not fully cook! Put the two pieces of potatoes in the pan, sprinkle salt and get a nice golden colour to the base of the flat face of the potatoes. As earlier make sure you do not cook them fully. In a preheated oven, add the chicken and the potatoes to cook for about 20mins at 280 degs.

For the sauce use the same pan & oil you used for frying the chicken to not lose the lovely flavours, add extra oil/butter if needed. Add the onions & cook only till they are translucent do not wait for them to get brown/crispy. Next add the mushrooms, salt, pepper and let it cook till the mushrooms are soft. Next add the booze and stir till it evaporates. Here is where you can either add some chicken stock if you like, I personally prefer to stay true to the mushroom & booze flavour so I add a little bit of water and a already mixed flour-water mix to avoid any flour balls in the sauce. Simmer until the sauce till it thickens and its done ! 

Thai steamed Fish


Healthy, easy and tasty are things that everyone wants their meal to be but lets face it getting all three of them together is rare. Don’t those curly fries or sausages look way better than what the salad bar has to offer? Believe me you’re not alone, I have been guilty of picking sausages, mash & fried chicken over all those healthy looking not-so-tasty things.

Eaten by my guilt decided to look for any dish that was healthy (not a drop of oil) and tasty and most importantly something that would be hot. Thai-style steamed fish is just the thing that meets all of the criteria and the best thing is it is easy and takes about 15 mins only. Which makes it something you could try making on a weekday!

Ingredients:
White fish fillets
Chopped ginger
Chopped garlic
Light soy sauce
Sea salt
Coarsely ground red chilly to sprinkle
Some spinach or bok choy

IMG_2020

In a foil put all of the ingredients and make a package out of it making sure there is some room for the steam to escape. Steam for 15 mins and enjoy this with rice or cous cous if you want to go healthier!

Playwright Conversations

Black Playwrights, Black Artists, Black Plays

Walk The Line

Guided by Karma, Dharma and Drama!

The Write Might

Keeping it real, and raw!

Pink Chai Living

Adding an Indian Touch to the Everyday

The Write Side

A little bit of this and a little bit of that!

todaywasmeaningful

a collection of thoughts, life lessons, and days full of meaning.

Blogging for a Good Book

A suggestion a day from the Williamsburg Regional Library

Books, j'adore

story lovers unite

TED Blog

The TED Blog shares interesting news about TED, TED Talks video, the TED Prize and more.

A Little Blog of Books

Book reviews and other literary-related musings

Scriddles

scribble doodle sketch

madamecroquette

Just another WordPress.com site

FROM THE WILDERNESS

Veritas Vos Liberabit

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

Bytes won't bite ...

Networks | OS | Games | Fun | 11111000011

Freedom to Fail

An aspiring young professional with a blog

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 64 other followers