Morning Breakfast – Food Art

Items used 🙂

Sun – Carrot
Birds – For wings I used the skin of blueberry and body is egg white.
Fish – For body i used egg yolk…For eyes – white background with egg white and black is the tiniest portion of a blackberry….lips and tail are with carrots.
Bubbles – green peas
Tulips are with corn and the stem is the stem of broccoli 🙂
Green – Broccoli
some orange stones 🙂

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Fish Fry (White Pomfret)

As I have already told in my old posts that I was born and brought up in Kochi (south India near to Arabian Sea) where there was no scarcity of fish or fish related dishes in our family menu. My mom is really an expert in cutting the fish in no time and making fish fry with the homemade masala’s. I have learnt most of the tips and technique’s of cooking from her. Thanks to her for any interest I got in cooking. This is an easy recipe and can be made in 15 mts.

Ingredients
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  1. White Pomfret – 1 medium or 2 small ones
  2. Oil – 2 tsp (I use olive oil)
  3. Lemon juice – 1tsp
  4. Red Onion – to garnish
  5. Curry leaves – to garnish
  6. Lemon – to garnish
  7. Salt – to taste
  8. Ginger – 1 small piece (very finely crushed)
  9. Garlic – 2 small pods (very finely crushed)

Masala Powders:-

1.Chilly powder – 2 tsp
2.Pepper powder – 1 tsp
3.Garam masala – ½  tsp
4.Turmeric powder – ½ tsp

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Method:
******

  1. Clean the fish.
  2. Mix all the masala powders together and make it into a paste by adding the lemon juice and little water. Add ginger and garlic to this and mix well.
  3. Marinate the fish in this mixture and allows it to be in room temperature for 15 mts.
  4. Heat oil in a non-stick pan. (Optional – Add few curry leaves to the oil)
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  5. Fry the fish in this oil until it turns to orange-brown.
  6.  Garnish the fried fish with curry leaves/ cilantro , lemon and red onions.
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Strawberry Ice Cream (Eggless)

I am still to meet a person who doesn’t like ice-cream in my friend’s circle. We had a get together at home last September. Day before the get together I had to come up with a full vegan (no egg) dessert as few of our friends joining were fully vegan on that particular day. I had never tried making any ice creams before and as I had plenty sweet strawberries at home I thought why not I try this. Thanks to my dearest friends Diana and Nitha who always support all my ideas, I decided to try that. My mom was with me here in states and she is my biggest motivator. No matter what terrible result I do she always finds something positive even in that. But this time lady luck (my mom with her milk powder idea) helped me create this wonderful recipe. I would say this is a very easy recipe and I have tried it few times after the first time and I have always got consistent result. So here you go…the eggless easy strawberry ice cream (my munchkin’s fav).

Ingredients
*********
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  1. Fresh Strawberry – 15nos (Choose juicy and sweet ones)
  2. Powdered Sugar – 2 tsp (Depending on the sweetness of strawberries)
  3. Heavy Whipped Cream – 16 oz (473 ml)
  4. Sweet condensed milk – 13 oz (375g)
  5. Milk Powder – ¼ cup
  6. Pink Color (Optional) – Strawberry pulp would give the color, so I haven’t used it.

Method:
*******

  1. Wash, clean the strawberries.
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  2. Chop them into small pieces.
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  3. Grind them in the blender. Keep the pulp aside.
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  4. Add heavy whipped cream in a mixing bowl (refrigerate at least for an hour before use) and whisk it for 3 minutes (If in a standing mixer or if whisking by hand for about 5 minutes). End result should be the soft and fluffy look.
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  5. Add milk powder to this. Slightly stir.
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  6. Add the sweet condensed milk and the strawberry pulp.
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  7. Mix it all together and add the sugar as needed.
  8. Use parchment paper and transfer the content in an air tight container.
  9. Keeping it for at least 6 hours.

Memorable Hike to The Natural Wonder – Wave

I had seen ‘Wave’ as a Microsoft screensaver and always was attracted to the natural beauty and the lavishness of the bright orange pattern. But the inspiration for me to visit ‘Wave’ sprouted after seeing the pictures my friend Srinath posted in Facebook. By the way Srinath is a really amazing Photographer.

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Screensaver Pic – Wave

 

I started a thread with my husband Mahesh and our friend khushal. This would be the first long trip in USA for my husband, so I wanted to plan really well and make sure this trip gives him so much hope & enthusiasm about any other trips in future. (Like next time as soon he hear me telling me “what about visiting this place/or what about this hike?, he should be already packed and set for the trip!). Khushal has been always the main planner for all the trips I have done in USA. He has been so good at that he still retains the designation as a trip planner. Our trio group works really well with Mahesh providing the logistics, Khushal providing the A-Z plan and me either finding out the places to visit or eating both their heads :). Anyway I can with no doubt say that the November 2011 trip (we chose the thanks giving weekend) was one of the best trips I ever went to.

Reading and enquiring more about Wave, I came to know that it is not the easiest thing to do. In order to visit the Wave, you need to get a permit. Also there is a limit that only 20 people can visit in a day. 10 of the slots are filled in online lottery (you have to apply 4 months in advance to get into this lottery). As we were late for this we decided to try our luck through the  lottery for walk-in permits. This also has a limit that only 10 people would get this. Khushal had a back up plan if in case we didn’t get through the lottery.

We started from Seattle, went to Vegas, enjoyed the casino world for a night. Bundled the car with all food and other amenities for a week long road trip. We went to Hoover Dam (had a fun tug of war between me and mahesh at the Nevada-Arizona border), then to Grand Canyon (west, north,south entrances, skywalk).

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Grand Canyon Sunrise, Near Hoover Dam, GC South Entrance

 

From Grand Canyon south entrance we drove to Utah. We stayed at the Quail Park Lodge at Kanab for the next 3 days. We visited Horse shoe bend, powell lake, lower antelope canyon and upper antelope canyon

 HS Powell Lake

Even though we were enjoying visiting these places, from the day we were in Page, there was this anxiety in us about if we would be lucky enough to get the lottery, will we at least be able to participate for the lottery. 

The day for the walk-in lottery arrived. It was a Friday morning (Nov 25, 2011). We 3 were ready by 7:30am, all set to go to the location where the lottery was going to take place (night before we had gone to make sure we know the way to the location). We reached the location and didn’t see any crowd as we were expecting. So I was happy, may be its thanks giving weekend and people don’t want to do a 7 mile hike :). But I was wrong, during the winter season the lottery takes place in a different location which we had to drive for 15-20 mts to reach. My worry was we would be late for the lottery and we won’t be even able to participate. We reached the location and saw that there was a huge crowd, more than 50 people. My hope of obtaining the lottery started diminishing. Anyway we reached inside the reception of the building and my dear husband and friend decided to make me the scape goat (they added my name for the lottery), that added more pressure and anxiety on me! Will Luck favor me ?

 

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It was now 8:15am and the the lottery was about to start at 8:30am. We were all asked to gather in the room and we were trying our luck against 60 other people. Seated there my hubby started making a video with commentary telling our fate is now in the small beads (with numbers) in the small cage. Lottery started and the first 6 slots were gone and the last 4 remaining. Moments of tension and then the magic they called our number 3, and yes we made it through the lottery.

 We won it IMG_3973
Saturday morning we were all ready with good sun protection clothes as well as weather proof jackets. We were not sure what is in store for us. We had the short breakfast provided by our host at the Lodge and then started our journey to the “Wave”. On the way, we picked some McD burgers and few other quick bites and still kept the backpack light as there was a long way ahead of us. We reached the Wire pass trailhead crossing muddy dirt road drive and reached the start point for the hike. There was a restroom (pit toilet) which was the only one available anywhere in the vicinity. We found 2-3 other cars parked there, so we knew people already started their hike. We took few pictures near the trailhead, entered our information in the log book where we need to enter an immediate contact as well (A ranger checks the log book every few days to make sure that the people who entered the trail also exited; if they don’t find the exit log they would call and verify and if no contact can be made then send the rescue team to verify).

Trail head

All set for the hike!

At the beginning of the trial I felt the walk was really easy. Khushal made it a point to mark the breadcrumbs in the GPS so that we have an easy and marked way to come back to the car. There were no marking or any other sort of pointers on the way. Only help for navigation was the map given by the BML Ranger after we won the lottery (Our hike was in 2011, I am sure there would be more maps easily available now).

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After an hour of hike we started feeling hot and started removing our heavy jackets. We crossed some terrain of flash floods with no high ground and some rocky arena. We enjoyed the beauty of the path, took some pictures and then slowly started moving towards the destination. We had read that the best photo opportunity of the wave is around noon, so we had that in mind while we were walking. At a particular sandy terrain on the way to Wave we crossed the border of Utah to Arizona. After a while it was only desert we could see and we were worried if we lost our way. Most of the hike is through rock, so there are no footprints or any other marker to ascertain if you are on the right track.

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On the way

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Lone Tree

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Break Time!

We had read that the Round trip of the wave was around 6 miles. Most of the warning we had received was that distance is not the factor that determines the adventure in the trip but it is the weather that plays the villain. During the months of June, July and August the temperature at this place rises to about 110 Farenheit (43 deg Celsius). The heat rays get reflected on you when you walk through the rocky terrain . That is the reason we had chosen our journey during November, that way the heat would be less.


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Sunny sky added beauty to the red carpet of rocks along the way.We felt like we were tiny ants near the giant rock formations on the way. We continued our journey climbing up and down the slip rocks. I started to feel little tired and we took a break munching on some energy bars and gatorade. I didn’t want to be the weak link in the hiking party, so I gathered all my energy and cheered for the rest of the journey! After about an hour of hike through the beautiful sandy, rocky way we could see our last marker “Twin Buttes”. Mahesh and khushal was so excited and they decided to get a clearer view by climbing the nearby “Capstone” rock.

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Sun was shining with all glory and I was panting and sweating. We took few more short breaks and at last we were almost near. It was just few yards from the entrance to Wave. But the last 200-300 yards seems to be the toughest in the whole hike. It was really really steep hill climb. But the twist here is the hill is made up of loose sand and that makes it more tough to climb up. At the top most of the sandy hill is the corridor to nature’s magical art work “Wave”.

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sand

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No words can describe the beauty I found there. I felt as if I was in a dreamland where everything is so perfectly carved out. I understood the real meaning of what was written that “Wave is any photographer’s dream”.  It was an experience of a lifetime. I could barely think that the wind, erosion and water has created this formation.

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One of the first pics we took at the Wave

 

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From the other end

It was still difficult for me to digest the fact the pictures I had seen of Wave was real and was not done with any photoshop effects. We were so excited like the small kids who got their favorite candy, ran around all over the place. After 30 minutes of roaming around we were so tired because of the merciless sun and the wind. We sat down and took some rest and grabbed our burgers. We took our own sweet time there enjoying the red wall painting.

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Khushal reminded us that we need to start our hike down in another 1 hour so that we are back at the car parking before dusk. We started taking pictures of all nook and corner with and without us in the frame. I am not a professional photographer but I too was able to get few nice pictures. At last we went taking video of the marvellous structure and it was time to bid ‘Good Bye’. I was still in a mood to be around for some more time but the practical guys woke me up from my love for wandering.

Jumping Sindhu

On top of the world feeling 🙂

Hike down was comparatively easy. We did get off-track the trail once but soon got back with the breadcrumb mapping from the GPS. We reached back in little over 2 hours and well before dusk. On the way back we met the party of another hiking buddies and came to know that they have been trying to get the permit for past few years. We thought about how kind the Goddess of Luck was to us.

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Every muscle in my body was aching by the time we reached back our car. But I still remember that pain today with a “i did it” happy face. If you ask me if I get a chance will I go again ….. I would say I would definitely go to the amazing desert again and I would be lucky if all of us (our trio gang) can do that again. Happiness of this hike would always linger with me.

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Awesome sunset with the painted sky on the way back!

Happy Earth Day!!

Made with yogurt and roti!

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Easy Butter Chicken

Butter chicken is one of the always ordered dishes at any Indian restaurants. This dish is a wonderful combination of spices and the chicken which is so moist and tender. I have not added cashewnuts as I have to give this to my daughter and she is still in a nut free diet. But you can always add cashew nuts to enhance the taste and rich texture.

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Ingredients
***********

  1. Chicken – 1 kg (I have used boneless breast pieces)
  2. Red Chilli Powder  – 1 tsp (used kashmiri chilli powder for the color)
  3. Garam Masala – 2 tsp (I usually use the garam masala my Mother in law prepares – she uses Cloves, Cardamom, Star ainse, Cinnamon to make the masala)
  4. Black Pepper – 1 tsp (crushed and grinded, thanks to my Mother in law for this as well)
  5. Coriander Powder – 1 tsp
  6. Garlic – 3 tsp (Crushing garlic/ginger gives more taste than slicing it)
  7. Ginger – 3 tsp
  8. Turmeric Powder – ½  tsp
  9. White pepper powder – 1 tsp
  10. Lemon juice
  11. Chive leaves
  12. Butter – ½ cube
  13. Onion – 1 cup (chopped)
  14. Tomato – 2 nos (juicy ripe ones)
  15. Kasthuri methi – ½ tsp
  16. Heavy cream – 3 tbsp
  17. Salt – as required
  18. Oil – 1 tsp
  19. Coriander Leaves
  20. Yogurt – ¾ cupBC2

Method
********

  1. Clean and cut the chicken to cube pieces.
  2. Add salt and ingredients 2 through 11 to the chicken pieces. Add yogurt to this as well and mix.Keep it aside for at least ½ an hour so that the masala gets into the chicken pieces. (For best results, you can keep this in the refrigerator for overnight).
  3. Heat a pan and add some butter. Saute the onions in that. Add some salt and saute until the onions become transparent. Keep it aside to cool.
  4. Take the tomatoes and make a puree in a mixer.
  5. Use the same pan used to saute onions and add some more butter or oil. Add the chicken pieces into this and cook it until it becomes tender.
  6. Once the marinated chicken is taken there would be masala paste left on the dish, add the sauted onion to that so the onion gets the leftover masala. Make a paste of the onion too using a mixer.
  7. Once chicken is cooked, take it from the butter\oil and keep it aside.
  8. Add the onion gravy to the pan, saute it for few. Add the tomato paste and saute it for few.
  9. Add some butter and ginger garlic paste to this. Later add the kasturi methi.
  10. Take a bigger pan, add little butter and add the chicken pieces (salt if required). Saute it for few and then add the masala from Step 9. Mix the chicken pieces well.
  11. Once the gravy is coated on the chicken,add the heavy cream to that.
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  12. Close it with a lid and cook it for 5 mts.
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  13. Use coriander leaves to garnish.

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VELLARIKKA KICHADI (KERALA SADYA DISH WITH CUCUMBER)

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Ingredients
***********

  1. Cucumber  (Vellarikka) – 1 handful
  2. Yogurt – 1 cup
  3. Coconut (Grated) – ½ cup
  4. Green Chillies – 2 medium size
  5. Shallots (small onions) – 3 medium size
  6. Mustard seeds – few
  7. Oil (Coconut oil is preferred)
  8. Red Dried Chillies – 3
  9. Curry Leaves – 1 stem
  10. Cumin Powder – 1 spoon
  11. Salt – as required

Method
********

  1. Remove the skin of cucumber by peeling. Clean the inside by removing the seeds and washing it thoroughly.
  2. Cut the cucumber into cubes.
  3. Make a smooth paste by grinding the coconut, green chillies, shallots, some yogurt and very little mustard seeds. Keep this aside.
  4. Cook the cut cucumbers, adding very little water, dried red chillies, salt and cumin powder.
  5. Cook it until the cubes becomes soft and transparent.
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  6. Add the smooth paste prepared in step 3 to the above.
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  7. Keep cooking this on very low flame for a 3-4 minutes. Remove from the stove.
  8. Once this cools a bit, add yogurt and mix well.
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  9. Heat oil in a kadai\pan.
  10. Add mustard seeds and once it splutter add shallots and red chillies.
  11. Fry for few seconds and then add Curry leaves.
  12. Add this to the contents kept on step 7.
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SPICY SHREDDED CHICKEN (PULLED CHICKEN)

This is similar to the Chicken ulathiyathu (a typical christian dish from Kerala, India) with the subtraction of onions and bit more towards the spicy side. This is a very easy chicken dry dish. I even use this as filling for Puff pastry, cutlets. I have a friend from Chile and this is her favorite item from my menu. Spiciness of this dish can be altered depending on your tolerance level.

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Ingredients
**********

  1. Chicken – 1 kg (I normally use thigh instead of breast)
  2. Dried Red chilles – 1 handful (crush it in a grinder)
  3. Garam Masala – 2 tsp (I usually use the garam masala my Mother in law prepares – she uses Cloves, Cardamom, Star ainse, Cinnamon to make the masala)
  4. Pepper – 1 tsp (crushed and grinded, thanks to my Mother in law for this as well)
  5. Coriander Powder – 3tsp
  6. Coconut – 1 cup (I normally don’t find the dried ones, so I take the frozen grated coconut, keep it in microwave for a minute and thaw it).
  7. Garlic – 3 tsp (Crushing garlic/ginger gives more taste than slicing it)
  8. Ginger – 3 tsp
  9. Turmeric Powder – 1 tsp
  10. Salt – as required
  11. Oil – 1 tsp
  12. Curry Leaves
  13. Lemon juice

Method
*******

  1. Heat a Kadai\pan (no oil needed), add shredded coconut and fry it until it turns slight brown and keep it aside.
  2. Add grinded dried red chillies and saute it until the raw smell goes.Add coriander powder, garam masala, pepper powder and turmeric powder and mix well.
  3. Cut the chicken and marinate the pieces with 2 tsp of the above mixture we just roasted in Step 2. Add a bit of turmeric powder, ginger garlic paste,salt and coriander powder
  4. After 20 minutes, add the marinate into a pressure cooker, little water (chicken would ooze out water, so add little water only). I usually keep it for 2 whistles.
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  5. Heat Oil in a kadai, add curry leaves and then add the rest of the mix from step 2 to the oil. Saute for few seconds. Add the slight brown shredded coconut from step 1 to this . Saute this until all turn golden brown.
  6. Add the chicken pieces from the pressure cooker. Use a thick bamboo/wooden spatula/spoon and mix the chicken pieces with the ingredients in the pan. (I tend to make the chicken little shredded before adding, so that it is easy to mix. Also I add the broth from the pressure cooker to get the aroma and flavor).
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  7. Add the rest of the mixture from step 1, lemon juice and salt (as required). Saute it until the chicken is dry and golden brown.
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  8. Enjoy the spicy shredded chicken with white rice or chappathi.

 

St Patrick’s Day

Happy St Patrick’s Day!
(Made of Chappathi,green apple, blueberry,carrot, green peas, orange,strawberry, rice and grapes.)

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