Thursday, 29 September 2016

Beautiful and alluring... Alaska!!! (An unforgettable vacation with friends)

We (me and hubby) and our friends had been thinking about planning a vacation together since a really really long time. After a lot of pondering, the destination was decided and finally everyone agreed upon the dates as well. So after almost 7 - 8 months of planning, consulting, numerous messaging on whtsapp and face timing, our most awaited vacation with friends was finally here. And in no time we all found ourselves packing for....ALASKA!! 

The beauty of Alaska and all that it offers is very hard to describe in words. Breathtaking, gorgeous, amazing, alluring, mesmerizing are some of the adjectives that comes to mind now when I think back about the wonderful time that we spent there. You have to actually see it and experience it to believe it. I think no matter how wonderful photos you click, it still won't do enough justice to the breathtakingly natural beauty that Alaska is.

Pssttt.....almost all the pictures (except for few) are clicked with Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. So yea you do not always need a DSLR to click amazing pictures :P.

There are so many ways you can explore this beautiful state. We opted for all the possible adventurous options that we could find for exploring Alaska. I think that is the best and the only way to enjoy mother nature and get up close with her. Although our schedule was a bit tight considering we had made plans only for 8 days, it was surely an experience of a lifetime. Hence no regrets whatsoever. I think we managed to do many things and saw many places in a really short amount of time. So believe me when I say this, if you are ever planning a vacation with friends then Alaska should be definitely on your list.

This post is going to be a short photo essay. I hope you will enjoy the pictures.

Day 1: We reached Anchorage around 10:30am, rented a car and drove to our first stop that was Seward. First day was pretty much a rest day. We had booked an AirBnB for the night.

AirBnB at Seward
Day 2: Kayaking at Kenai Fjords. This was one of the best and the most unforgettable kayak experience ever. The first few pictures were clicked on our way to the starting point of kayak from the water taxi.

This picture was clicked on our way to Kenai Fjords 
Spotted a lot of humpback whales also. It was such a beautiful experience to watch this gentle giants swim around. 
Sea lions lazing around on the rocks :D
Beautiful views everywhere we looked
Aialik Glacier: This was our final kayaking destination watching this beautiful glacier and witnessing some major glacier calvings
Such a wonderful experience. Lunch by the glacier with our amazing friends. 
Time to head back

With our kayaking guide 
After an awesome kayak experience we did some sightseeing at Seward. Spotted some fresh caught halibut, salmon and other fishes at the dock and then headed to our next stop at Seward.

Next stop was Summit Lake Lodge where we spent the night. The below picture is the view near the lodge. Isn't it awesome?

Day 3: Started off our day with a beautiful hike to Harding Ice field. The hike was moderately strenuous but totally worth it. With beautiful trees, flowers, glaciers and mountain for company, it was site to behold. 

At the Exit Glacier

At the top (almost)..... totally worth it. 
Breathtaking.... isn't it?

Two of our friends decided to climb all the way up. Can you spot them?

Day 4: Was a rest day which also included a trip to REI to pick up our camping stuff and some grocery shopping (which included loads of cup noodles....hehehehe) :P.

Day 5: We reserved a one way train trip to Denali National Park through Wilderness Express. The train journey was amazing with some beautiful views. Below pictures were clicked from the train. 

Once we reached Denali we took the shuttle bus to reach our camping site named "The Wonder Lake Camping Site" which was 85 miles inside the national park. On our way we spotted a lot a wild life and enjoyed some more breathtaking views.

Caribou popularly known as Reindeer 

Spotted a blonde grizzly bear :)
Day 5 and Day 6: Camping at Lake wonder lake was one of the most fun experience for me as it was my first ever camping experience. The camp site was right in front of the mighty Denali mountain but unfortunately the clouds covered the mountain the whole time and we never even got to see a glimpse of it. :(

This is where we camped for 2 nights. Can you see the mountains in the background?? That is where Denali is situated. 

Noodles in the making LOL
The Wonder Lake 
Just as we were packing our camping stuff to head back....we spotted this huge Moose behind us 
Day 7: We headed back super early in the morning from the National Park to Denali where post lunch we went for ATV Ride and River Rafting. I would highly recommend the ATV Ride, certainly a one of a kind experience. 

Hubs :D

River Rafting
Day 8: Our last day on our way to the airport to Anchorage we had booked an Airtaxi ride and glacier landing at Talkeetna. The views from the flight was simply fabulous and absolutely mesmerizing. We also landed on Ruth's glacier and spent 15 mins playing with the glacier snow and clicking loads of pictures. :). Do check out my Instagram account where I have uploaded a video of the flight as well.

Glacier River 
Majestic glaciers everywhere 

Our ride :D

Ruth's Glacier 

I hope you enjoyed this post. Please let me know you opinions and comments, I would love to hear from you all.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Khatte Teekhe Aloo (Tangy and Spicy Potatoes)

Potatoes/Batate/Aloo whatever you like to call it, is that one ingredient which is always available in my kitchen and I am quite sure that is the case with most of us. Potato is such a delicious, versatile and easy to use ingredient and you can make so many varieties of dishes with it mashed potatoes, hash browns, stew, indian sabzis, stuffing for parathas, french fries, chips, baked potatoes, hasselback potatoes...the list is endless. "Batate ki sabzi" is my savior when I run out of all other vegetables :P :P.  
Today I will be sharing a very simple recipe for baby potatoes which is jazzed up with chili some other spices and tamarind. There is no specific name for this dish so I am going to call it "khatte theeke aloo" which literally means "tangy and spicy potatoes". This is a very common and popular ramadan snack dish at my in-laws place. And no prizes for guessing on how I got the recipe :P. However this potato dish can be enjoyed any time of the year and my hubby devours it. The recipe is so easy that you simply cannot go wrong with it. 

Serves 3 - 4

Baby potatoes - around 600 - 700gms (If you cannot find baby potatoes just use the regular white or gold potatoes)
1 to 2 tbsp tbsp of oil
1 - 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
2 - 1/2 tsp of chili/mirchi powder
1/2 tsp of cumin/jeera powder
1/2 tsp of coriander/dhania powder
1/3 cup of tamarind pulp (made my soaking the tamarind in warm water)
Salt to taste
You may increase or decrease the amount of tamarind and chili powder as per your liking.


1) Start off by washing the potatoes thoroughly. Add the potatoes in a stock pot and add enough water so that the potatoes are completely submerged. Add some salt and then cook the potatoes on a medium flame until they are nice and tender. 

2) Once the potatoes are cooked transfer them into a colander and hold it under cold running water for few minutes. This will help stop further cooking of the potatoes. Once the potatoes are warm enough to handle, peel off the skins of all the potatoes. Cut them in half and keep them aside. You can keep them as whole also but make sure that you poke a few holes in them with the help of a fork or toothpick to ensure that all the goodness of the tempering is absorbed by the potatoes.

3) Now lets prepare the tempering. Heat oil in a saute pan. Once hot add the cumin seeds and let them splutter. Now to this add the tamarind pulp, chili powder, cumin powder and coriander powder. Saute this for a min and cook the spices until the oil starts to separate. 

4) To this tempering add the halved potatoes and salt to taste. Mix everything together nicely so that all the potatoes are nicely coated with the spices. Close the pan with a lid and let the potatoes cook in the spicy tangy masala for around 4 - 5 mins. 

5) Finish off by garnishing with chopped coriander/cilantro leaves. 

Serve hot :)

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Rava Besan Ladoo

Rava besan ladoo is a yummy melt in your mouth ladoo/dessert that doesn't need any special introduction. This ladoo is very simple yet super delicious and is equally liked by kids as well as adults. Rava besan ladoo is a popular item on the menu in almost all Indian households during festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi and Diwali. I am sure everybody has their own methods and techniques of making this dessert and so today I will be sharing with you all my version that is passed on to me by my mother in law. 

This is a very easy recipe that requires very basic ingredients that are readily available in our pantry. 

Makes around 20 medium sized ladoos
Recipe Courtesy: Mother in law :)


2 cups of Semolina/Rava (fine quality)
3/4 cup of Gram Flour/Chickpea Flour/Besan
1 cup of ghee/clarified butter (1/2 cup of ghee for roasting the semolina  and 1/2 cup of ghee for roasting the gram flour) 
2 - 1/2 cups of sugar (I used the regular cane sugar)
1/2 tsp of cardomom/elaichi powder 
1/2 tsp of jaifal/nutmeg powder  
1 cup of water (for making sugar syrup)
Few raisins and cashewnuts cut into small pieces


1) In a not stick skillet or tava add 1/2 cup of ghee and once the ghee is hot add the semolina and roast it on a low flame. Keep on stirring it frequently so that the semolina is roasted evenly and doesn't burn from the bottom. Roast semolina till it becomes nice golden in color. This will take anywhere around 20 - 25mins. Transfer the roasted semolina into a plate and keep this aside. 
Remember that the semolina will brown quickly when roasted on a medium flame but it will not be cooked thoroughly and will be raw . So be a little patient and cook it on a low flame until you see it change color. 

2) In the same pan add the remaining half cup of ghee and once the ghee is hot add the gram flour /besan. Stir it nicely and roast it on a low flame till gives out a nice aroma and changes color to light brown. This will take around 10-15mins. Switch of the flame and keep this aside. 

3) Now in a sauce pan add 1 cup of water and 2 - 1/2 cups of sugar. Keep this on a medium flame. Stir the sugar nicely. Let the sugar dissolve completely in the water. Once the sugar is completely dissolved let the sugar syrup come to a boil. Once it starts boiling let it boil for 1 minute. And then immediately switch off the flame. 
Such kind of ladoo recipes requires something called as a one string consistency sugar syrup. However some people find it rather difficult to get this correctly. The above mentioned method is what my MIL follows and this method has never failed. This ladoo was prepared the same way. 

4) Now add the roasted semolina, roasted gram flour/besan, cardomom powder and nutmeg powder to the sugar syrup. Mix everything thoroughly. Keep this mixture aside for half an hour. 

5) After half an hour the mixture will harden a bit. Break the lumps with a spatula or with hands evenly. At this point the mixture will be warm to touch. 
Make sure that that the mixture is a little warm to touch while shaping the ladoos. Else they wont bind tightly and will crumble.  

6) Start shaping the ladoo by taking a handful of the mixture. Add a small piece of cashew in between the mixture and then start pressing it tightly between your palms and fingers. Keep doing it till you get a nice round shape ladoo. Use both hands if you find it difficult to make them using one hand. Do not fret if they are not perfectly round. :P. 

7) Finally place a raisin on top of the ladoo and press it lightly. This step is optional. You can also mix the cashews and raisins in to the mixture and make ladoos. 

8) Keep making the ladoos until the entire mixture is used up. This recipe will yield around 20 medium sized ladoos. 

9) Transfer the ladoos in an air tight container. The ladoos will stay good for 8 - 10 days. Keep them in the refrigerator to increase the shelf life. 

Wishing all my dear friends and blog readers a very Happy Ganesh Chaturthi.

Stay blessed everyone. :)

 photo copyright.jpg
blogger template by envye