Pandi Curry Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

Before anything, I’d like to declare that Chinita’s in Bangalore serves the best Mexican food. As it is there’s severe dearth of cuisine in ur country, let alone the good kind (I’m not going to say authentic because I’ve never been to Mexico and eaten there). And please excuse me Taco Bell doesn’t count (their quesadilla isn’t the worst thing in the world though).

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Minced Prawn with Fennel

This one is a result of experimentation! I would request you to assure yourself about the flavors and texture before trying 🙂 I stumbled upon one of the episodes of Masterchef, where Chef Wan was creating his own Kerabu. I could afford to gather only a few of the ingredients here, so I thought of creating my own interpretation of the ingredients.

300 gms medium sized prawns (cleaned)
2 bunches of fennel (you could substitute the same with spinach)
1 red chilli
2 teaspoons of red chilli flakes
3 pods of garlic
5 table spoons of Thai Seasonings
2 tablespoons of paprika
3 tablespoons of coconut milk
olive oil
salt to taste
lemon lemon zest

Marinate the de-veined prawns with paprika, 3 table spoons of Thai Seasoning, a pinch of salt and some olive oil for about 15 mins.
Boil the fennel leaves and strain. Now mince it to a fine paste with garlic and red chilli.

In a hot pan, add some olive oil and lightly fry the marinated prawns. When they are slightly cooked on both the sides, mince them to a thick paste.

In a hot wok, gently fry the minced prawns and pour in the minced fennel. Lid it for about 2 mins. When the mixture is boiling keep adding the seasonings per the level of heat that you prefer. You could add the lemon zest and the coconut milk.

Serving Suggestions:
The Kerabu is basically a salad with a unique dressing. Feel free to serve the minced prawn in a bed of fennel and stripes of raw papaya with some dash of lime, cekur (which is rarely available here). Crispy spinach could be interesting as well.
Have fun!

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Zuchini Aubergine Bake

This one’s for my vegetarian friends. I came to realize we have been so engrossed in meats and finding different ways of cooking them, the poor vegetables took a vacation from our lives. Sometimes it just takes a few vegetables and herbs to make a lovely meal for the evening. That’s what I did, of course with a heavy heart 😉
As usual the supermarket had far too many people for my liking, but I somehow managed fill my basket with vegetables like zucchini, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers, aubergine and some fresh herbs like tarragon and oregano. I also picked a rustic looking loaf of sourdough bread.

Ingredients: (all vegetables to be cut into bite size pieces)
1 cup zucchini
1 cup bell peppers
1 cup mushrooms
1 cup aubergine
1 cup tomatoes
1 cup mash potato
½ cup chopped onions
4 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 tsp finely chopped oregano
1 tsp finely chopped tarragon
½ cup cheese
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Butter for cooking

Sauté the garlic in some butter till fragrant and slowly starts to change color. Tip in the onions and sauté till transparent. Now add the zucchini and aubergine and let it cook. When it’s cooked half way, tip in the tomatoes, bell peppers and mushrooms. Let it cook for about 5-7 minutes. Add the herbs now. You can add some dried herbs if you’d like as well. Once all the vegetables are cooked through tip it all into a baking dish. Top it with the mash potatoes, spreading it across the dish. Top this with cheese and bake in a pre-heated oven for 20 minutes or till the top turns nice and brown.
This smells really beautiful, with the herbs, butter and the different vegetables. I tore up some sourdough loaf to go with this vegetable bake and made a wonderful meal out of it. Who knew vegetables could taste this good with such few ingredients!

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Sunday Soul Sante

What a Sunday. What a Sante. This was a new age ‘Mela’ or as in Kannada ‘Sante’. Sprawl across. Tripura Vasini in Palace Grounds, Sunday Soul Sante had it all, or at least what we needed. Music. Food. Shopping. We spent a good half a day in there and it almost transported us to the Anjuna Flea Market in Goa. Colorful stalls of jewelry, bags, paintings, hand crafted shoes, quirky artifacts, books, decorative lights, tarot card reader, cupcakes, brownies, hats, you name it you see it! It was a photographer’s Disneyland.

There was a stage set up for the music concert and fashion show which was such a crowd pleaser. There was one band in particular that we thought took coolness to another level, Live Banned. Quirky and funny, the band was quite talented as well. There were other bands too but we were getting a little hungry and headed to the food court. Established restaurants like Pepper Café, Sukh Sagar and Counter Culture had their stalls there and had people lining up for a taste of their food. We tried out some Pandi Curry (Pork Curry) with buns from a stall called Pig Out. Rs 120 a plate and absolutely worth every dime. We also tried Grilled Lamb Chops and Grilled Butter Garlic Chicken. Delicious meat, grilled to juicy perfection! From the Pepper Café stall we opted for our all-time favorite Beetroot Hummus (!!) with Butter Garlic Pita. Fantastic as usual. Our Sante ended after being stuck in the rain for about an hour – totally worth it J

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Au Bon Pain

Ever wondered where can we find one of those Cafes with a beautiful display of perfectly lined baked goodies? Au Bon Pain is the answer. Au Bon Pain is an American bakery-café chain. They have 11 outlets in Bangalore and are looking to open many more. Good for us! The one newly opened was at the Koramangala Sony World junction. One couldn’t miss its happy yellow exterior with a Bagel Sandwich poster staring at you. Casual yet comfortable are the apt adjectives to describe Au Bon Pain’s seating arrangement. Beautiful pictures of the café around the world adorn the walls as you walk up the stairs to the floor above. This is a self-service café, pick up a tray, use the tongs provided to pick up whatever you’ve been eyeing, take it to the cash counter, pay up and grab a seat to enjoy your meal. The service at Au Bon Pain is definitely noteworthy. It is obvious they take special interest in making sure the customer is comfortable and has no hassle in getting his order right. There will always be someone at any given time, however busy the café maybe, to attend to you with a smile on their face.

Right in the middle of the café they have a soup station with the Soups of the Day with an assortment of breads and breadsticks one can buy for the soup. The chiller kiosk was lined with Aerated Drinks and other Canned/Bottled Juices, Desserts like Cake, Mousse, Fruit Bowls, Musili, Cold Salads and Cream Cheese.

The Bakery section was a treat, lined with all sorts of baked goodness. From Bagels to Cookies, from Brownies to Cinnamon Rolls they had it all. We picked the Cinnamon Roll, Pineapple and Black Currant Danish, Walnut Brownie and the Chocolate Chip Muffin. The Cinnamon Roll was soft, moist, rolled with cinnamon powder and bits and slapped with sugar icing. It was a sweet surprise melting away in my mouth. They could have toned down the cinnamon a notch since it was almost overpowering. Texture wise though, it was spot on. The Danish again, the texture and the sweetness was just right topped with the right amount of the fruit preserve, making it a perfect accompaniment with a cup of coffee. The Walnut Brownie, to be honest is definitely better than what we’d get at most cafes. Then again it wasn’t as memorable as the other baked goodies. It could have been a little more moist. Then came the Chocolate Chip Muffin. Although I did find it dense and on the heavier side, it would sure be a hit with chocolate lovers since they get pretty generous with the chocolate. The Chocolate Chip Cookie I found to be true to its form, moist, chewy, fresh and delicious. It had quite the ‘home-made’ feeling to it. That’s exactly how a cookie should be.

They also serve a good variety of beverages. We took to liking their Coffee Blast, which was a cold coffee with crushed ice.; smooth, creamy and delicious. They also serve Iced Teas, Slushes and a variety of Hot Coffees.

With the number of outlets opening at every other corner of the city Au Bon Pain is sure to stay and serve the city with more of their delicious food. Be sure to visit one of their many outlets in the city and you are sure to be a loyal.

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Bacon Salad with Chicken Balls

My new ‘thing’ are Salads. It was very recently that I picked up two books by Jamie Oliver, since then the only argument in my head is, is he cool or super cool? ‘Jamie does…’… hello the Naked Chef! Flipping through the easy-make-at-home salads, I was totally inspired to try out something in my kitchen as well and getting my brother to have some veggies 🙂 The Dish that inspired me to cook up my own easy salad was ‘best chorizo and tomato salad in the world’. Well sad that I couldn’t find the right chorizo so I resorted to bacons and chickens.
200 gms bacon
200 gms boiled boneless chicken
2 large juicy tomatoes
½ a large zucchini
200 gms of purple cabbage
100 gms spring onions
5 pods of garlic
100 gms mushroom
Olive oil, butter and salt and pepper to taste
For the meat balls, first in a hot pan add 1 tbl spoon of butter. Now add the chopped garlic pods and wait until they turn golden. To it add the boiled chicken pieces and shallow fry them, add salt and pepper per your taste. After the edges turn a little golden brown, take them off from the pan and mince them in a blender into a thick consistency to be able form small balls. Keep aside.

Now, heat the pan again with some olive oil in it. Now, add the chopped mushrooms, zucchini (thin and long slices) and chopped spring onions. Be careful not to fry them for long as they are would become too limp to be in a crunchy salad. When it softens after a minute or two’s cooking, keep aside. Also, simultaneously throw in your bacon slices into you hot pan and let them cook in their own fat.

We are now pretty much done with the preparations; we just have to throw in all the ingredients into your favorite salad bowl and toss it at the dining table. In a large bowl, add the chopped purple cabbage, spirals of tomatoes, shallow fried spring onions, zucchini and mushrooms, fried bacon and the chicken balls. Season it with a little bit of olive oil and salt and pepper. Your salad is ready 🙂
Suggestions: You could enjoy your salad with a side of rustic bread with Garlic cloves rubbed onto it. Also, some good cheese along with it, does the trick.

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Purple Cinnamon’s BBQ night

Barbeque night has been on our to-do list for a while now, but we never got around doing anything about it until last weekend. Our shopping list was pretty easy to memorize.
How cool are we? Very.

What we wanted to do was pretty basic and simple. Marinated chicken for the BBQ, grilled/sautéed sausages, pineapple and water melon salad, vegetable skewers, alcohol and friends of course. We started with the marinade for the chicken which just happened on the spur of the moment. Ginger paste, garlic paste, chilli powder (for heat), paprika (for color), vinegar, salt and sugar. Basically whatever was within an arm’s reach. Coat every piece of chicken with the marinade generously and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 4-6 hours.

For the salad, we just tore up some lettuce, tossed in cubes of watermelon and pineapple along with the dressing which was just some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey. A few good additions would be feta cheese, plum tomatoes and olives.
It was time to bring out the grill to the balcony. The men got to work and made fire, so to speak. It took a while but it was a splendid success. Thank you boys and Upasana.

Before we forget, the do-it-yourself (we have only one set of hands!) welcome drink ‘Mojito’ was also a hit. All we did was point out where we’d arranged the necessary ingredients and off they went. Mint leaves, lemon slices, 7 up/sprite, ice cubes and fresh cherries (for decorative purposes, but no harm if consumed).

We got the marinated chicken out of the refrigerator and carefully arranged it on the literally smokin’ hot grill. It would’ve taken not more than 5 minutes of grilling on each side. The result: char grilled succulent boneless pieces of chicken oozing out the flavors from the marinade and cooked to tender perfection.
It’s safe to say that the highlight of the night were the Bacon Wrapped Prawns grilled to glorious perfection. We will be ever so grateful to Karthik Shetty for giving us the absolute pleasure of savoring this divine creation of his.
Vegetarians, we care for you too. We had the Veggie Skewer going on with plum tomatoes, pineapple and raw mango. This was delightfully surprising since the meat lovers also leaned in for a nibble or two. Upasana too decided to go for seconds! So yep, bit of a revelation when it comes to bbqed raw mangoes.

To bring things to en end, we cleared the areas of the house wherever they lay suspect of barbequed meat or veggies there. Looking forward to hosting another party now…this time with more meat and drinks 

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our Pub dinner

Oyster Mushroom Mashed Potato

The Meal! with chilled Tuborg

Caramelized sausages

Pub food has always been a favorite with us. From spicy Buffalo wings to potato skins, we love anything that goes down well with a mug of chilled beer. And well, since summer is upon us, nothing better than a chilled pint of lager on a warm night with some pub like food to match. While we’re at it, there was some good music playing in the background while we were cooking up our pub fare. Ideas were plentiful but we narrowed it down to the basics. We didn’t want to slave in the kitchen coming up with something fancy and take too long burning a sweat. So we decided on, Chicken Bockwurst Slices with Caramelized Onions, Pan Roasted Ham, Butter Sautéed Shrimps and Garlic Dill Potato Mash. Not to forget the two pints of Tuborg 😉

Caramelized Bockwurst Slices:
Ingredients (serves 2 very hungry people)-
4 Chicken Bockwurst sliced
4 pods garlic finely chopped
1 large onion sliced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp Worcester sauce
2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 tbsp fresh/dried mixed herbs
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Slice up the Bockwurst once defrosted. Heat the butter and olive oil in a non stick saucepan. Sauté the garlic and onions till they change color. Sprinkle the sugar and let the onions caramelize; this should take around 7-10 minutes. Now tip into the slices of the sausages and stir them around. Add the Balsamic Vinegar and the Worcester sauce along with the salt, pepper and herbs. Let the slice take on a nice char coat. Now take it off the heat and serve hot with beer on the side 😉
Butter tossed Shrimps:
200 gm shrimps
2 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper for seasoning
It’s as simple as tossing the shrimps in butter, adding the seasoning and cooking it for 5-8 minutes or till the shrimps are cooked. Serve hot as appetizer or part of a platter.
Dill and Garlic Potato Mash
2 large potatoes
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 tbsp butter
Few twigs of dill
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Pressure cook the potatoes till cooked and soft enough to mash. Sauté the garlic in the butter and add to the potato mash. Add the dill, salt and pepper and mash it well enough so it’s smooth. Serve warm as a side or on a platter.
Presumably we didn’t take more than a half hour to put together this ‘pub platter’ of ours. We just put it all on one big plate, opened a couple of beers, clinked them and had a lovely evening watching some 30 Rock.
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Assamese Food Festival at Ants

ANTS stands for Action North-East Trust. This is’nt the first time Ants has phenomenally organized a North East special food festival. We have missed the prior ones, but this one, I wouldn’t have missed for anything else! K, P and I reached comfortably before the buffet commenced. I decided drape one of my favorite Kesa Paat Mekhelas. The café was packed with all the tables pre-booked and families queuing for their turns.

Though the menu was already announced on their FB page, I couldn’t wait to stuff my face with Mangshor Jhool and Aaloo Pitika. We were served with a welcome drink of Kordoi juice (starfruit juice). The baked Rohu Fish in Banana leaves was sort of a revelation for me as well. The flavor was surely subtle and hit the spot. But what topped it all was the mutton curry. It was a familiar. It was brilliant. My very favorite easy to cook household dish Bengana Poora (roasted egg plant) and Aaloo Pitika (mashed potato) tasted absolutely as a mother’s recipe. Another household flavor cooked to perfection was the Xaak and Kon Aaloo (spinach leaves and baby potatoes). The fish head curry (Murighonto) and the Masor Tenga (sour fish curry) did appeal to the guests who already aren’t familiar with the taste. Another dish that sold like hot cakes were the Pumpkin and Brinjal Pakoda. We ended the feast with Paayox (rice kheer). Sigh! Thanks Ants…Looking forward to the next feast.

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Zingron is located in Koramangala’s 7th block, right opposite Jukebox and the building just before 64. The moment we stepped in, we caught a whiff of pungent bamboo. It was a little unsettling to begin with but it almost grows on you after a while. I am the last person to judge the authenticity of the North-eastern elements in Zingron. But my friend had somewhat of an idea and she seemed happy. We didn’t bother reading much of the menu, instead opted to chat up one of the staff about the food. As luck would have it she turned out to be the owner’s sister. She was gracious enough to help us with our order. So we started with the Smoked Pork and Steamed Chicken Momos. Since it was smoked, the pork was dry and tough, which to our understanding was authentically done in that particular way. The taste however was incredible. Very robust flavors of ginger, garlic and other spices and of course the shredded bamboo was delicious. The momos turned out to be one of the best we’ve had in the city. The shell was soft and easy to chew, keeping the filling juicy and succulent. For the mains we got Chicken Curry cooked in chilli powder and steamed rice. I was a mouthful away from calling the fire station. Extremely hot but still delicious I must say, the chicken curry is not for everyone. For drinks we had an authentic rice beer and gooseberry drink which didn’t go down well with us but if you want to try something authentic and not the usual soft drink please give it a shot, literally. A meal for two should cost Rs 800.

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