Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Sri Lankan Travel Diaries- 2015!

I have shifted finally!! Months of planning and plotting later, here I am sitting with a cup of tea in front of a huge window overlooking the urban maze of Gurgaon. It’s a nice, quaint little place, but I don’t know how long would it take for me to embrace it as home. As I sit, relax and ponder about it; let me get you guys to see what I had been upto all these days, one meal at a time!

If you don’t follow me on Twitter and Instagram- AntaraZandC; you should do it right away. I had been out travelling on a road trip all around Sri Lanka, and had posted up some awesome pics that you must have missed then. I will put across a few of the highlights here and take you with me on the journey of this mythical land of masks and spices. But for future reference, do remember to click on the elusive 'follow' button on both my profiles so that you are always updated about my foodie journey! And on Facebook, you may follow the link here to like!

Sri Lanka is this clean tropical island, which took my breath out. Though people didn’t look much different than us Indians, the roads and buildings surely did. Spick and span- without a single upturned garbage can or a pothole on the road. It was truly a revelation when I realised that Indians are a class apart, even from our next door neighbours!! And that my friends, was a really unhappy thought of sorts!

Sri lankan food is quite a tasty combination of south Indian dishes, dashed with Ceylon spices. And mind you, the spices impart a really different flavour in itself! Their spices, unlike the ones of our country, is much mellow and sweeter in taste. The cinnamon really stands out, followed closely by cinnamon leaf and long cloves. However, I find the pepper and other spices better with a stronger aroma, wherein the Indian cousins should be preferred.

To start our photographic journey, we landed in Colombo with this awesome sunset, that we enjoyed while sipping through a refreshing cuppa of Ceylon tea.
Fresh and energised we left for Kandy (tea district), stopping midway to enjoy a late evening snack of Egg Hoppers, Kuttu Roti with Chicken and Sri Lankan coffee at the quaint little place called- Ceylon Hotels Corporation. This eatery falls on the way to the tea district. 
 The dinner was special. The romantic setting of Mount Havana was perfect for a moonlit, candle light dinner. And the food was equally enticing. Fresh Rawas grilled and a Sri Lankan Chicken Curry served with Rice. Pics follow...
The pretty setting!!
Sri Lankan Chicken with Rice
Rawas perfectly Grilled!
All in all, I have enjoyed pretty much all my meals down there. Their breakfast constitutes of a very spicy mutton stew called Elumas Curry and Kiri Bhat (thick glutinous rice cooked with milk). It seemed a weird combination, but tasted quite a thing of delight!
The Lunch thali looked quite similar to our Indian ones. Fried Poppadums always took a place of pride on the plate, surrounded with pork, vegetable and dal dishes.
A lunch thali, finished with Chutney and Poppadums. 
 The desserts definitely fail to impress. Somehow the ice creams I ate were all too frosty and a bit too sweet for my liking...
Frosty tamarind ice cream with Watalappam, a Sri Lankan dessert pudding made with jaggery and coconut milk.

Frosty chocolate icecream served with super sweet strawberry compote!

But all the sadness is quickly forgotten when you see this while travelling around the island. The beautiful, serene pics without any filter...

A village road, without a single pothole!

And the most pretty and serene Sunsets!

The Ceylon spices and the tea are a major shopping attractions!

And I couldn't help but lug back a load of these awesome treats for back home! 

The Most famous Ceylon Cinnamon!

Some delectable Ceylon tea!

Another major shopping attraction for me up there was fine bone china and porcelain tablewares, by Noritake. Noritake is one of the most famous companies which has a factory down in Sri Lanka, and yours truly lugged back two pretty tea sets from their certified showroom.

Another major point I noticed was the influence of Japanese cuisine on Colombo restaurants. I had the most beautiful sushi up there, coupled with these awesome Sake based cocktails at Taj Samudra, Colombo.

And a beautiful contemporary Sri Lankan meal at Kelma Sutra, about which there is a lot to write and say...

But hands down, the best meal that I had up in Sri lanka, is the one I had in Ministry of Crabs. I returned back with a huge foodie crush on Darshana Munidas (the chef and the owner), and his take on the fusion Sri Lankan fare that he wants to popularise! 

All in all, a must visit for every foodie looking for a relaxing holiday. The little island has clean big mountains and pristine beaches. Be assured you would lug a heavy tan and a brand new palette back from that country! Cheers!!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

The LunchBox Love!!!

There is no greater love on earth than the love of food. If you are reading me, I know you belong to the exact same category. As little children, we showed our love through sharing that tasty bite off the tiffin we lugged to our school. As a collegian, we showed our love by treating our special ones to a Nukkar ka Restaurant, investing some hard earned pocket money on them. These were pure, unadulterated love that signified warmth. The more we grew, the means to the end kept changing, the Nukkar ka quaint eatery got replaced; but the feelings are kept intact! Today, I don’t feel there is any greater way to show your love, but to show it through food…

&pictures asked me who do I love the most in the world. It had a pretty straight answer in my mind. They asked me how do you like to show your love to him. That too had a really easy answer for me. Anyone who knows me, knows how much a 4 lettered name has changed my life. I call it, My Little Bundle of ANSH, and I don’t think I am biologically made to love anyone any more than that.

For me, expression of love is always with a nice big home-made lunch. Like the one I did a couple of years back. But this year, I am helpless. I am shifting houses and have no access to a kitchen to cook him his favourite things. I was disheartened, and the noble folks at &pictures didn't like it at all. As they are premièring the movie- The LunchBox on the site, they readily told me a surprise lunchbox with all ingredients love would find its way to your hotel. I am happy and I am really looking forward to it….

Happy Valentine’s day my sweets!! Love you the most with most of the choicest most kisses and tightest most hugs! :) :)
XXOO Mumma & Daddy

'The Lunchbox' Premiere is on Valentine's Day, at 8 PM on &pictures


Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Cheddar Stuffed Curried Beef Burgers!!!

If my last post has stirred up enough hunger for a perfect hamburger, than this is a post for you to satiate that hunger. I finally wooed that elusive hamburger, and made it mine too. I bet you can ever get your hands on such a tasty, and yet pretty healthy combination of Curried beef burger, with wasabi hinted hung curd and a side of crunchy French Beans; one of the classic east fused with west combinations of mine!
For this recipe, I have used a pretty pack of chicken curry masala from the awesome hamper that was sent to me by the Mother’s Recipe team. It rendered the patty a unique flavour, which married very well with sharp cheddar that was stuffed inside. It’s a must try dish for every meat lover in town! 

250 gms of Ground Beef
1 packet of Mother’s Recipe Chicken Masala
½ cup of Shredded Sharp Cheddar
4 Hamburger Buns, buttered and toasted
¼ cup of Hung Curd
2 squirts of Wasabi from a tube
Sliced jalapeno Pickles
Sliced Tomatoes and/or cucumbers
4 Onions thickly sliced
1 Tbsp of Butter
1 Tbsp of Olive Oil
¾ cup of White Wine
Salt and Pepper, to taste
a pinch of chopped corriander (optional)


In a bowl, mix together the ground beef with the chicken masala. It would be a good idea to use a clean hand for this job, and try not to over work the meat. Please note, the masala has enough salt, and thus no more seasonings required.

Form into 4 patties, make a divot in the centre of each one and stuff with 1 Tbsp. of the shredded cheddar, flatten them into a burger shape, keeping the centre of the patty dented. This would allow the meat to cook and brown evenly on the girdle. Cover with plastic wrap and pop them in the fridge for about an hour.

In a small bowl, mix together the hung curd and wasabi. Season to taste and set aside in the fridge until ready to serve.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, allow the butter to melt in oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring often for about 8 to 10 minutes or until the onions develop some colour, but still retain their texture. Add the wine and allow it to reduce for about 2 to 3 minutes or until it’s reduced quite a bit. Remove the onions from the pan and allow them to come to room temperature.

Preheat your iron tava over medium high heat, (between medium and medium high), and add the burgers. Cook it for about 5 to 7 minutes on each side, or until u r happy with the texture. This much of cooking time will give you a medium cooked burger. For rarer cooking, keep it for 3 to 4 minutes, while for well done, keep it for 10 minutes on each side.

Brush the cut sides of the buns with a little melted butter and place them cut side down on a non-stick tava to heat it through.

When ready to assemble, smear a little curd mixture on one side of each bun, top with the burger, followed by a slice of tomato/cucumber, caramelized onions and slices of jalapeno. Top it with the other half of the bun and serve it along with a side of crunchy blanched fresh green French beans. Just to enhance the flavours of curry in the patty, top it with a few chopped leaves of coriander. 


This recipe is made for- http://mothersrecipe.com/


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