Happy New Year!!!

What a fantastic start to the New Year. I hope this continues. S and I were in London. I’ve always loved fire work displays and I cannot think of one better than the New Year’s eve fireworks from the London Eye. We were there some years ago but were not placed strategically so the view wasn’t too good. But this time round, we made it a point to get to one of the viewing areas by 7 and were rewarded by securing a place just in front of the Eye on Victoria Embankment. The wait was loooonggg and tiring but once the DJ started playing his tunes, the last two hours passed off quickly. We had slept little the previous night and the 5 hours wait did not help…but once the fireworks display began…it was like a dream. We were so close that I felt the lights and the fireworks were just for us. So bright, so colourful, so full of life!!! It was just amazing!!! One of the best experiences of my life. The display itself was for 10 minutes but DJ Nihal had some awesome tunes if one wanted to shake their booty a li’l 😉 What was more tiring than the 5 hour standing was going back home. All the tube stations around Westminster were closed so we had to walk to Victoria tube station which is about 1.5 miles and took us about 40 mins. There were thousands and thousands of people trying to get home and the queue at Victoria was atleast 1/4th of a mile. S and I were lucky enough to get a bus to Vauxhall station and once we got there, the journey back to the hotel was pretty smooth. It was 3.30 AM by the time we got back and after a quick chat with folks back home and went to bed.

So if any of you plan to be at the London Eye for next year’s new year celebrations, here are some pointers which could be helpful:

  1. Victoria Embankment is the best place to view the fireworks.
  2. Get there by atleast 8 but if you want the best viewing area for you and your family, get there by 6.30 or 7. You might think this is a bit too early but let me tell you this, S and I were there by 7 and it was already filling up. We were lucky to be standing where we did.
  3. Carry a couple of hand held fold-able chairs. There will be lot of standing and even if you want to sit on the footpath, it’s not really comfortable. Your bum starts to ache after a while 😀
  4. Get lots of water and food.
  5. While going back to your destinations, try and catch a bus and get off at any tube station outside the borough of Westminster….Green Park, Vuaxhall, Pimplico are some of the tube stations that were open. Do not go to Victoria unless you are fine with queuing for at least an hour or more.
  6. Last but not the least, charge up your cameras ‘cuz what you will see will be the most amazing thing and you wound’t want to miss a single shot!!!

Recipe: Chapala Pulusu (Fish Curry)

Let me first start this post with some beautiful roses I got from a special someone 😀

{Click on the roses for larger version}

My Chapala Pulusu (Fish Curry) recipe was long over due. I am a great lover of my mom’s (and aunt’s) fish curry. It’s finger lickin’ good. Till date, I have prepared this dish only twice but it was totally awesome 😀

Back home, we usually prepare fish curry with local find…like Korameenu (not sure what it’s called in english…some say it is the Red Snapper. Any ideas?) and sometimes a Bochha. Since we don’t get any of these in the UK…we had to settle with Salmon.

Recipe Source: Ma

Preparation Time: 30-45 mins

Ingridients:

  1. A Wok
  2. Salmon (or any fish you desire) – 6 medium sized pcs, approx 3-4 inches each (If you are the one who likes to clean their own fish…you can but whole fish too)
  3. Oil – 6-7 Tbsp
  4. Yoghurt – 2 Tbsp
  5. Onions – 3 (finely chopped)
  6. Tomatoes – 2 (finely chopped)
  7. Tamarind Juice – 35 ml (Take lemon sized tamarind ball and immerse it in 35 ml of warm water)
  8. Green Chillies – 4 (Cut longitudinally)
  9. Ginger Garlic Paste – 1 Tsp
  10. Cumin Seeds – 1 Tsp
  11. Mustard Seeds – 1 Tsp
  12. Turmeric Powder- A Pinch
  13. Asafoetida – A Pinch
  14. Chili Powder – 1 Tsp
  15. Salt – According to taste
  16. Curry Leaves – 6-8 Leaves
  17. Coriander Leaves – Handful for Garnishing

Method:

First, wash pieces of fish thoroughly and marinate them for 10 mins in yoghurt, Salt (1 Tsp) and Turmeric Powder (a pinch). Later, wash and drain

Then add pinch of turmeric, chili powder, ginger garlic paste to the pieces and mix well. Leave aside for 20 mins

In the meantime, chop onions, tomatoes and chillies

Add oil into wok and let it heat. Add cumin and mustard seeds. Once mustards start to splutter, add chillies and curry leaves

Now add onions and allows them to turn golden brown in colour and then add asafoetida and mix well

Add tomatoes, turmeric powder, chili powder and mix well

When tomatoes turn soft, add tamarind juice and salt. Make gravy into a thick consistency. Do not dilute it with the tamarind juice. Remember…you are not making sambar 😀

Leave it to boil. Later add your fish pieces and leave on simmer for 10-13 mins.

Garnish with coriander and it’s ready to serve.

I do not have a picture to put up 😦 but it should look like this…

Pic Courtesy of http://www.torchofindia.com/images/

Please note that this is an ‘Andhra Dish’ so could be extremely ‘hot’ for some. Reduce the number of green chillies and it should be fine.

Enjoy!!!!

PS: New pics put up in my photoblog. Do take a look and let me know what you think 🙂 Cheers

SuperDuper Excited!!!

I have a new Word Press Photo Blog now 😀 Yippeee!!!!!! A collection of all the pictures I love and the new theme Monotone is FAB!!! Perfect theme to show-off your photos 😉 I recommend it to one and all. I already have one at photoblog.com but think I like the wordpress one better.

A new blog means more work which means I will HAVE TO wake up atleast by 8 in the morning. Nevertheless, I am excited 🙂 

Recipe: Banana and Walnut Cake

I spent the morning fighting a bee which refused to leave my territory. The bloody thing. I hate bees. I still remember my friend who was bit by a bee on her cheek and she swell up like a balloon. Nyways, seems like this bee won’t be coming back anytime soon….Muahhahaa (evil laugh) 😀 {Why can’t wordpress have emoticons? Saves me from typing crap!)

Okies..coming to the recipe…here goes..

Banana and Walnut Cake

Preparation Time:  30-45 minutes (Quicker if you’ve baked a cake before)

Cooking Time (in a pre-heated oven at 180 °C): 50 – 60 minutes
Ingredients:

  1. Kitchen Scale (Max upto 2 Kgs)
  2. 3 medium Bananas, ripe if possible (approx. 400 g)
  3. 300 gm Self-Raising Flour
  4. 150 gm soft Butter
  5. 150 gm soft Brown/White sugar (Demerara)
  6. 2 medium Eggs (at room temperature)
  7. 80 gm Walnut Kernels
  8. 2 Tsps Lemon Juice
  9. 2 Tbsps Olive or Vegetable oil
  10. 1 Tbsp Vanilla Essence

Ingredients for Cake Topping/Icing (Optional. I bought a ready-made Icing Sugar tube and decorated the cake. Little effort and saves time too…esp when you are super lazy like me! :D)

  1. 125 gm full fat Soft Cheese
  2. 75 gm Butter
  3. 200 gm Icing Sugar

Kitchen Equipment

  1. 2 large bowls to mix the ingredients
  2. 900gm loaf tin (rectangular, square or circular)
  3. Small amount of greaseproof baking paper
  4. Kitchen Whiskser/Handheld Blender/or just a Fork 🙂

Method

Note: Butter must be soft. The best way to achieve this is to measure out the butter an hour or so before
it is needed and leave it at room temperature. If this is not possible, break up the butter with a fork
and beat it for a minute or so. If all else fails, put it in a bowl and float the bowl in warm water.

  1. Turn the oven on, setting it to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
  2. Next, grease the loaf tin with margarine or butter, and line the tin with greaseproof baking paper.
    It’s not essential to cover 100% of the tin but make sure that it lays as flat as possible on the inside
    of the tin.
  3. Peel the bananas and mash them with a fork until they are really mushy.
  4. Chop up the walnuts reasonably fine.
  5. Place the butter and sugar into a mixing bowl and blend together with a fork. The idea here is to mix the two ingredients thoroughly and at the same time incorporate as much air as possible into the mixture. Mixing with a fork in a figure of eight shape will help to incorporate air into the cake mix.
  6. Now, stir in the bananas and chopped walnut kernels and mix thoroughly.
  7. In a separate bowl, add two eggs and mix with a blender, whisker or a fork until there is a layer of froth formed.
  8. Now sift in the self-raising flour, 2 Tbsps at a time to avoid any bubbles or balls in the mixture and mix thoroughly in a figure of eight.
  9. Now add this mixture to the bowl containing the mixture of butter, sufar and walnut kernels.
  10. Add 2 Tbsps of Olive or Vegetable Oil and 2 Tsps of Lemon Juice and mix thoroughly again in a figure of eight with a fork. The oil and juice will keep the cake moist.
  11. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin, smooth it level and place in the oven for 45-50 minutes.
  12. After that time take it out and test that it is cooked by piercing the cake with a fork and if it comes out clean it’s cooked. If not cook for another 5 minutes and retest.
  13. When you take the cake out of the oven, take it out of the tin and place it on a wire rack or something similar. This will stop the cake sweating and getting damp.
  14. Allow the cake an hour or so to cool down before icing it.

Method for Icing

  1. Make the icing by pouring the icing sugar, soft cheese, butter and vanilla into a bowl and mixing it all together with a fork.
    Spoon the icing onto the cake and spread it evenly with a knife. Pop a couple of cherries or walnuts on the top if you want to decorate it.

Don’t fret looking at the length of the post. This is a very easy recipe. The only time consuming part is the mixing and the baking. You just need to concentrate a little while measuring out the ingredients. Trust me…a home baked cake is much more delicious than the ones you get outside.

Recently Captured :)

Our long weekend will be ending in about 5 hours from now and what a wonderful weekend it was. S, I and couple of our friends went to Blemheim Palace near Oxford City. Except for the cloudy weather and the elaborate history on the life of Sir Winston Churchill at the Palace, it was excellent. The gardens were beautiful. Apparently, the current resident of the Palace is John George Vanderbilt Henry Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough (No…I didn’t by heart the whole thing…I cut and paste it :D) and how lucky is he to be living in such a beautiful place.

The pictures below were taken in one of the palace gardens’ called the ‘Secret Garden’…sounds mystical doesn’t it? And it is equally beautiful. Two of the pics below…

PS: I thought the pictures looked good in Black & White. If anyone wants to take a look at the coloured ones….let me know 🙂 Hope you guys like ’em.

I will also be posting some pics of Jousting.…sport of the rich and noble 😀 If you don’t know what I mean…watch A Knight’s Tale starring the late Heath Ledger. So Stay Tuned….! 

8 Things About Me You Didn’t Know :)

Thanks Liju for tagging me on this one 🙂 I love writing about myself. So when I was reading Homemaker’s blog about some of the things she likes…I decided to write one for myself and that is when Liju tagged me:)

I am doing this whilst watching Law and Order – Criminal Intent. So if you find some irrelevant stuff…please ignore! 😀

Here goes,

Eight things I am passionate about

  1. Travelling
  2. Photography
  3. Movies
  4. Music & Dance (Since they go together)
  5. History
  6. Books
  7. Social Work (Children and Women)
  8. and most importantly My Family!

Eight things I want to do before I die

  1. Skydiving. I am an Acrophobic.…so me going Skydiving is a BIG DEAL!
  2. Learn to ride a Bicycle and graduate to riding a Bike. I know. You guys might think I am pathetic…not knowing how to ride a bicycle? I fell once while riding on a slope and I haven’t given it a try since….and I was 10 yrs old then. The same goes for Swimming. So basically, I want to try and accomplish all the things I am scared of and overcome my fear
  3. Involve myself in the upliftment of abused, destitute and vulnerable Children and Women…not just by writing cheques but my including in person with the various NGO’s working for them at grassroot level. God Willing, one day, I will set up one of my own
  4. Travel the whole world…from the Americas to Australia…From Iceland to South Africa. To keep it simple….wherever there is Oxygen and Water 🙂
  5. Go on a tour of India. Discover the various temples, mosques, churches and many other religious places my country is the birth place of…the wonderful beaches, the ancient architechture, the ghat sections, the sanctuaries…everything!!!
  6. Get a body like Deepika Padukone 😀
  7. Watch my country ruled by politicians who have B**** to say NO to the West. Indian public who will treat everyone equally and a Governemt which will not divide us on the basis of Caste and Religion. Upliftment of the scores of people who still live under the poverty line and see the Capital Punishment being implemented on convicted Rapists and Paedophiles (This list will go on…so I will stop here until the next person tags me on this 🙂
  8. Last but not the least..work in the NHS. It’s been long avoiding me…but before I leave this country, I’d want to work….even for a month…and say ‘Mission Accomplished’!

Eight things I say often

  1. Mentlaa (as in Mental’aa’)
  2. This is called S*** with a Cherry on Top 😀
  3. Waste Fellow
  4. Chaaaa…..Nijanganaaa
  5. Antha Scene Ledu
  6. Over actionoddu (as in Over Action Vaddu)
  7. Bore Koduthundiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii 😦
  8. and the classic South Indian expression – Ayyayyoooooo  (my all time fav) 😀

Eight Two books I have read recently

  1. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  2. Days That Changed the World by Hywel Williams

Eight songs I could listen to over and over

Eight’s a little difficult…’cuz I got loadzzzz of them…but I will try and reduce it to eight with a mix of Hindi, Telugu and English Songs

Eight things that attract me to my friends

I can think of one…for the rest….you’ll have to ask them 😀

  1. My ability to continuously blabber…..sense and nonsense!

Njoy!!!