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

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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 ! 

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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

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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!

Mission : Regret free 2014


So after a long long time I am back here! Considering I was speaking of new years resolution in my previous post, there is some level of continuity here…

I tried not telling people my new years resolutions last year and that dint get me very far so I am going to try the opposite approach this time around. I know I am late in updating these on the blog but in my defense I was still working on the finer details…

Moving on, here are my resolutions for the year :

Explore restaurants : Let’s get started with one of my personal favourites. If you know me, you’d not be surprised to know this is about food. My friends & I have decided to go to one restaurant we haven’t been to before every week. The key here is it needs to be our first time to the restaurant! This was so we could discover NYC and the food places here (Yes, I moved from London to NYC earlier in the year)…

Gym : After all that yummy food, its not hard to guess that gymming would be next on the list. I’ve resolved to go to the gym at least thrice each week plus an extra time for each meal that I eat outside (other than the one covered by resolution 1, come on I need to make it sound do-able!). Target is to to be able to do a 5K under 30 mins by the end of the year.

Say sorry : This one is a bit tougher, its about saying the first sorry… Its about making a genuine attempt to break out of cold-war’s you get into with close people. By the end you don’t even remember whose fault it was just that the outcome isn’t what you want. So say that first sorry and make the effort to amend those important relationships.

Travel : After one serious one, time for something easy to digest… My biggest regret when I moved over from London was that I dint travel enough in and around the UK. I was certain I dint want to harbour the same regret even in this new continent. So I have decided to travel around and not wait until all the factors are perfect. Travel alone if that’s what it comes to but travel!

Invest time getting dressed for work : To understand the next one, you need to know a tad bit about how lazy a person I am that I even dress sloppy to work. While people at my workplace actually dress like the characters in the show Suits! So I clearly am an aberration there, I hope to fix this… This would be the hardest resolution I think,  as I’d need to forego my sleep and spend that extra half hour blow drying my hair or finding the right shoes. Sigh! I am a bit skeptical this one would work but I think its worth putting in any way.

Learn how to dance: With my two left feet and 20-something years of moving like a robot I don’t think I can pull this off right away but I just wish I am no more that girl people can chuckle at when I ‘dance’ more like attempt to move when inebriated.

Read : I wish I had more time to read that I could commit to a book each week but I think it would be far from realistic. Sticking to at least one book a month is pretty much all I can with all my other commitments. Though I will do my best to read books outside of my comfort zone.

Connect with friends : Get in touch & meet up with friends and family in this part of the world. Something I decide to do ‘tomorrow’ for the past 6 months…

Update the blog regularly : The last and final one is to not ignore my blog! I must find the time to document each restaurant we visit weekly.

Now that it’s all in black and white, there is no escaping! Bring it on 2014!

What’s your New Years Resolution?


This happens to be one of the most common questions as we step into a shining new year. Just in case you are thinking this post is about my resolutions then no, that’s not what this is about.

Each time we are asked about our new year’s resolution, we are quite excited to share them with our friends and family as these are things we have carefully thought over and makes sense to share them. According to a study by Derek Silvers, when we share our goals or resolutions – we are less likely to stick to them and see them through. We might just need to come up with a witty way to brush this question aside each time it comes up  and may be our resolution would last a week longer… Who knows? 😉

Lets hope we manage to zip our mouths and achieve what we aimed for! 🙂
Have a successful & happy 2013 🙂

Water for Elephants


waterForElephantsIn essence this is clichéd love triangle where a guy meets a girl. She plays a damsel in distress and the guy rescues her from her evil husband. I know this doesn’t in the least sound new or exciting but I have to confess that an unusual setting and a great narrative is all it takes to make even such a clichéd story line gripping and  entertaining.

This story is set in the post war depression period in the US. Jacob who is a medical student at Cornell university – studying to be a vet. He looses his parents in a car accident and doesn’t have a home or money for tuition. In a moment of daze he leaves he climbs onto a train which happens to be the Benzini Brothers circus train. Soon he finds himself as the vet for the exotic animals there.

The circus here reveals something dark and grim under the glamorous and entertaining appearance. When the number of people on the train grew more than its capacity or if some employees suffered from incurable diseases due to contamination, the solution was to simply execute them by pushing them off the moving train.

Another classic example for this is Marlena’s marriage to August. On the exterior their marriage is rosy and picture perfect. August seems charming, caring and more. But on looking a little deeper you realize the reality isn’t quite this. Marlena suffers in the relationship as August is a schizophrenic – she eloped from home for the charming August who in reality did not exist. Not having a home to go back to, Marlena silently suffered in this dysfunctional relationship. And then Jacob comes along and there is an instant attraction and rescues her.

Overall, this is a good read. But like I said earlier the main story line is not unheard of but the setting in a larger than life post-war US circus is a winner. Another positive is the narration – the whole story is narrated by Jacob who is in his 90s and in a nursing home. A casual summer read – not something that will knock your socks off.

Overall verdict : 3.5/5

An Ashamed Indian


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Today for the first time in my 23 years have I felt ashamed to be an Indian. I used to be the one talking about Incredible India,  our culture and value’s, our traditions. Today I feel I have lost every right to boast about my country, society and culture after the recent Delhi gang rape case. We have seen other negative portrayal of our people and government – be it the Common Wealth Games scam or the 2G scam – we have seen it all but there was still a hope somewhere that not everything is lost. Unfortunately I doubt I can say the same today or any more.

In our Indian society when a woman is violated her skirt or high heels are blamed. Its not only lazy politicians or a laid back police alone that need a kick in their backside, the problem is much deeper and more fundamental. It is the ingrained mentality where women are not seen as equals but as mere objects that are can be treated in any way and thrown away.

This third-class school of thought unfortunately is not something that prevails amongst the illiterate or less fortunate section of the society this mentality infiltrates into the elite (by status and not thoughts) class. Our very own President’s son – Abhijit Mukherjee refers to the anti-rape women protesters as ‘dented and painted’ women. With such leaders and such ‘dented‘ thoughts where are we heading – there doesn’t seem to be a silver lining to this cloud.

Sheila Dixit ji (Chief Minister of Delhi since 1998) – I bow in respect to you – not only because you are our Chief Minister saahiba but because you have been managing face yourself and the world every morning knowing that you were responsible for this. After a 14 years of having a woman CM, the last thing you expect is the state to transform into the rape capital of the country – you are unbelievable to have achieved this. Also, if you think lighting one candle in front of the media is going to make the world think you are a concerned or sorry – then CM saahiba you are anything but right. You are and will be responsible for her murder.

Dear Amanat/Nirbhaya/Damini – whatever your name was – who ever you were. I am extremely sorry for what happened to you. I like all Indians need to be blamed – I am sorry as sorry as I can be. I am not even going to attempt to say RIP because I am not going to pretend that you are or will be at peace after what happened. Despite my ever growing guilt and desire for things to be different I CANNOT promise you that you will be given justice or something like this will not happen again. I am nothing but yet another ashamed Indian

Beneath a marble sky


marbleHistoric fiction has come to be one of my most loved genres and I couldn’t help but fall in love with this book. This tale has everything that a great story has – battles, victories, romance, politics, greed, lust and more. Hailing from India and never having visited Agra or seen the Taj Mahal this book has made my urge to visit Agra more fierce.

As a chapter in history we have read about Shah Jahan building this architectural marvel of a mausoleum in loving memory of his wife and also about the wrath of Aurangzeb and his succession to the throne. But never have given such a first-person (though fictional) thought to the process.

The story is narrated by Princess Jahanara who is the daughter of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. She is intelligent, witty, a hopeless romantic, brave and knows the rules of politics and power. As a child she learned a lot from her mother Mumtaz who herself was a kind and intelligent women. Other important characters are Jahanara’s two brothers – Prince Dara & Prince Aurangzeb. Dara was to be king in succession is portrayed to be kind and open to all religions while Prince Aurangzeb is someone whose greed for the Peacock Throne and conservative interpretations of the Koran portray him as insensitive and brutal.

Meanwhile, Jahanara is married off for political reasons and loathes her husband. He is everything she despises – insensitive, does not respect women, illiterate and crass. During a childbirth Mumtaz passes away. After her demise, Shah Jahan becomes inconsolable and lost in grief. He decides to build a mausoleum for Mumtaz and asks Jahanara to head the project. This is where she met her Isa, her lover.

Jahanara suspects Aurangzeb’s intentions to succeed to the throne and overthrow his father and does her best to warn and prepare Dara but unfortunately that doesn’t have quite the ideal outcome. Aurangzeb kills Dara and imprisons Shah Jahan and succeeds to the throne. Jahanara manages to escape and leads one of those ‘happily ever after’ fairy tale endings.

My favourite character of the book is Ladli – who is Jahanara’s gorgeous, witty and loyal Hindu friend. She comes to Jahanara’s aide when the Peacock Throne needs her. Her language and use of expletives just cracked me up. She adds some more colour to the already wonderful tale. This book is a must read! Entertaining and gripping all at the same time.

Overall verdict: 5/5

The Great Gatsby


I was quite ashamed of not having read any classic literature at all so I resolved to read this all-time classic which is on every ‘Books to read before you die’ list I have come across.I am not sure about how to gather my thoughts on this book.

The book is based on the post-war  times in the US where the society is fully materialistic and everything is measured by the length of your car, the size of your mansion and the depth of your pockets.

The central character Gatsby is someone who comes from a simple background. He joins the army to impress his lover – Daisy who meanwhile marries the richest boy in town to lead a simple and easy life. Years later, Gatsby gathers enough wealth so he can match up to his Daisy’s family. The story is from the perspective of Nick who happens to be Gatsby’s neighbour and friends with Tom and Daisy. Nick is the conscience of the plot. He sees things as right and wrong instead of being carried away with the flow of the materialistic world.

There are some lines from the book which are going to be remembered for centuries more (assuming the world doesn’t end this dec 😉 ).”Whenever you feel like criticizing any one…just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

I think it is quite an interesting read but needs quite a bit of patience for a noob in classic literature like myself. I am used to reading light entertaining books so I had to push myself to get through even though it was just 179 pages. The words are quite heavy so you cant just flip pages like you can with a  Memoirs of a Geisha. I am glad I read it as it marks one of the most significant literature of that time but somehow wasn’t gripping enough.

Overall rating : 3.5/5

Memoirs of a Geisha


One of the best books I have ever read! It has been everything that you need a book to be – entertaining, enthralling, mesmerising and more! This an amazing tale of the coming of age of a little girl, geisha rivalries inside the okiya, her struggle for freedom and her search for her prince charming. As for me, I knew nothing about Geisha’s and their quaint little world or even how you say the word ‘Geisha’ (gay-sha) – so it would be fair to say reading this book was quite educational for me.

This story is about a pretty little girl – Chiyo who comes from an impoverished family. Her family comprises of her father who is a fisherman and barely manages to make ends meet; her mother a very beautiful woman whom Chiyo has inherited her lovely looks and grey eyes from and suffers from a terminal illness; her elder sister Satsu who has inherited more ordinary looks from her father.

During the Great Depression in Japan, Chiyo’s father is forced to sell both his daughters into slavery. Owing to her unusual and charming looks, Chiyo is sold into an okiya which is a Geisha house while Satsu is sold into prostitution.

Coming from an extremely humble background little Chiyo is amazed by the glitz and glamour of the Gion. The first part of the book is the transformation of a simple girl into a sophisticated and superstitious Geisha. It also gives us an idea about her Geisha studies – singing, dancing, tea ceremonies, along with the hardships and rivalries at the okiya with the okiya’s top girl – Hatsumomo.

Soon as an apprentice geisha Chiyo follows her ‘older sister’ Mameha – a successful geisha around the gion and meets potential patrons. During her coming of age, there is a bidding for her Mizuage after which she no longer needs to be accompanied by her older sister. She takes charge of her life and tries to free herself of the debts owed to the okiya.

The two key characters are Nobu and Chairman both of whom are partners in an electrical company. Nobu is an ugly yet kind hearted sumo wrestler while the Chairman is a refined, classy man whose words gave Sayuri (Chiyo’s geisha name) the strength during testing times. Sayuri had grown to be obsessed by him and his thoughts. Sayuri has come to find a friend in Nobu. Nobu who wishes to be her ‘danna’. Danna is someone who takes a geisha as his mistress. It is interesting how until the end, it is undecided who Sayuri’s fate holds for her – Nobu or the chairman.

It is very rare that you come across a tale so complete and entertaining! Though the downside is that some elements to it are too extreme or fairytale-ish. For instance the character of the chairman comes across as one which perfect and this worries me as it is too ideal and far from being realistic. Having said that, I wish there were other books by Arthur Golden because am sure I would be waiting to read it. A (almost) perfect tale – it has all the elements a new world, the victories and struggles of a little girl, her romance, her education.

Mr.Golden – Please write another book! I would love to go on another exotic and entertaining journey via your book.

Overall verdict : 5/5

Mediterranean Grilled Chicken


I was tired of having the regular grilled chicken recipes with ginger, garlic and herbs. Was craving a new kind of grilled chicken which wasnt very unhealthy. Came across this recipe (thankfully!). Made use of dates syrup – something I havent ever used before. Was quite hesitant about it at the start but am glad I tried it! The Mediterranean grilled chicken was absolutely delightful and a refreshing change! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Ingredients:

  • 3 Chicken thighs on the bone
  • 1 red pepper
  • 6-7 baby potatoes (I added more because I love roasted baby potatoes)
  • 1 large onion – chopped into big squares with the layers separated
  • 8tbsp date syrup or pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tspn Cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp Cumin seeds
  • 2 Green chillies – with seeds just slit from the center
  • 1 lemon
  • Handful of chopped parsley
  • Handful of chopped coriander
  • 2tbspn coarsely ground garlic cloves
  • 2tbspn coarsely ground ginger
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 30gms Butter
  • Olive oil

Instructions couldn’t be more straightforward – just throw the ingredients together and marinate for an hour. The only complexity while marinating the chicken comes from the use of lemon. Use the juice of half a lemon and the zest from it for the marinade. While the other half just cut into large pieces and add to the marinating chicken. This would give off a great fragrant freshness from the lemon. Also, dont shun away from adding the molasses even if you arent paricularly fond of sweet grilled chicken because it perfectly balances the heat from the black pepper, cayenne pepper and the green chilles (with the seeds). So you will be just fine! 🙂

Before grilling

An hour later in a preheated oven grill at about 200 degs for roughly 40mins or depending on how big the chicken pieces are. Before putting the marinated chicken to grill add some butter to the chicken pieces for a nice crispy coating. Do ensure that before serving you remove the whole lemon pieces.(Sorry, dont have a picture of what it looked liked once it was done – my energies were directed towards downing it 😉 )

You can have a couple of quick and easy sides to go with this. One can be olives drizzled with dried oregano. Another can be a yoghurt based mint sauce with some finely chopped cucumbers. If you havent really thought of what this would go well with and haven’t got the time to do a full blown bread to go with this, you could do a quick tabouleh which is a healthy salad made from coarsely broken wheat with parsley and a bunch of other veggies thrown in.

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