Monday, 8 December 2014

London - A photo essay and some foodie thoughts

Hubby's work trip to London turned out to be a wonderful travel and gastronomic experience for us. Since this was not a leisure trip i will keep this post short and share some of the beautiful photos instead. On second thoughts i would love to share things i liked about London and places to eat (being a total foodie now how can i miss the food part).

This has been in the drafts since...forever....Can't believe how lazy i am at times...heeeee :P

Big Ben - Also know as the Clock Tower happens to be the largest four faced clock tower in the world.
Palace of Westminster - UK Parliament
Tower Bridge - Noooo!!! that is not the London Bridge :P



Some highlights:

1) The beautiful Victorian structures - Victorian structures are a welcome break among the high rises that you often get to see in all the major cities and downtown. It was a deja vu kinda feeling as we can also find these stunning architecture in our very own Mumbai.



2) The Food (especially Indian Food :D) - I must confess the Indian food here was by far the best of the best. We also enjoyed few other delicacies.

I have listed few of our favorites from our trip below:

Indian and Bangladeshi Food
  • Brick Lane: If you are ever in London city and are craving for Indian or Bangladeshi food, do check out the restaurants on Brick Lane many options to choose from. 
  • Lahore Kebab House: By far the most delicious mutton tikka and paya that i have ever had. The food here is lip smackingly delicious. This place is a must try if you are a die hard non vegetarian. 
  • Dishoom: With a nice laid back ambiance, this place also serves delicious food. Although i wouldn't say its all the way traditional but more of a modern indian approach. 
  • Simply Indian: A simple hole in the wall kinda restaurant but the service was good and food was absolutely delicious. And the menu was interesting too, with many different options ranging from hyderabadi to goan to mughlai. 
  • Bangalore Express: This is the one near gracechurch street. The veg thali and south indian cuisines are a must have. The only very big disappointment with this place is the service. Its very very bad. So if you are patient enough and can tolerate a bad service you can give this a try maybe once. 
  • Punjab: This is known to be the oldest north indian restaurant in the UK. Ambiance, service and food everything is excellent here. A must try indeed. 
Other Options: 

  • Gaucho: If you are a steak lover then this is something you shouldn't miss. Gaucho is an argentine steakhouse and argentine beef is known to be best in the whole wide world. Steakhouses can be expensive so save this for a date night ;). Please excuse me for the poor quality of photos clicked from my phone :P.
                          

                                                         
  • Pho - A small and charming restaurant that serves delicious vietnamese street food. Loved the quaint small place and the food. 
  • Old Spitalfields Market - A must visit place if you are in London. I so so regret for not carrying my camera while i was here. This is the place where i passed most of my time while hubby was busy with his work. A great place for food and shopping. Clothes, bags, fashion jewelry, make up, shoes,  arts & crafts, handmade crafts, vintage collections, mediterranean food stalls, basically everything old and new could be found here. Now as far as food is concerned there are tons of options to choose from. I loved the falafel options served by Pilpel, small greek deli by The Real Greek which is just outside the restaurant serve some delicious fresh salads along with lunch options and delicious crepes by crepeaffaire. I am sure there are many other restaurants that serves delicious food but these were some of them that we both liked and enjoyed. 
Old Spitalfields Market Image Source- Google (Wikipedia)
3) Transportation: Easy transport options like buses and trains makes it easier for tourists to roam around conveniently everywhere. I especially loved the double decker red buses :).

The vintage red Double Decker bus :D
Some photos of the major tourist attractions.
Buckingham Palace
Changing of the Guard, at Buckingham Palace




This cantonal tree displays the coats of the arms of the 26 cantons of Switzerland. 
It states that on 15th April 1991, on the occasion of 700th anniversary of the Swiss confederation, 
the right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of Westminster, Councillor David Avery named this area "Swiss Court" 
as a token of lasting friendship between Switzerland and the United Kingdom. 
The London Eye - One of the popular tourist attraction, this Europe's tallest ferris wheel offers the
highest public viewing point in London (however now The Shard has taken over as the highest viewing point) 


Birds eye view of the city from the London eye


The British Museum

Inside the Museum

So until next time....signing off with some spectacular night view



Palace of Westminster lit up at night





Friday, 28 November 2014

Dulce De Leche

Dulce De Leche (DDL) is nothing but sweet caramelized milk. Silky, smooth, decadent, DDL tastes like toffee and this confection can be topped with ice creams, cakes, cup cakes, as a filling for puff pastry, macaroons etc. The first time i had DDL was in London in the form of a filling in a small puff pastry. I loved it instantly. And ever since i always wanted to make it at home. Nowadays its easily available in grocery stores. One can even buy a can of condensed milk and make DDL out of it. I somehow always wanted to make it from scratch. The recipe is adapted from Joyofbaking.com. However i didn't follow the exact recipe. I skipped the vanilla extract and corn syrup. You can add these if you want to. Here's what i did. 



Ingredients:

4 cups of whole milk
3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp of baking soda
Pinch of salt

You may also add vanilla extract as per you liking.

Method:

1) In 6-8 quart stock pot add milk, sugar, baking soda and salt. Place it on the stove with medium flame to medium high flame and keep stirring. 

2) After about 10 - 12 mins the milk will start boiling and will rise all the way up. At this point keep stirring and move the pan away from the stove if required. Reduce the flame and continue stirring so that the milk solids doesn't stick at the bottom and burn. Also do scrape down the sides of the pot as required. 

Please excuse me for the poor quality of the photos below. These were clicked from my phone.

The two pictures shows how the milk will look after 10 and 20mins respectively
After 30 and 45 mins respectively
After 50mins and 1hr
3) The whole procedure will take around 1 hr. Please ensure that you keep an eye on it all the time and keep stirring it frequently. Also you might have to play with the heat so as to keep the milk always on a rolling boil. 

4) At about 50-55 mins when it acquires nice caramel color it will quickly start thickening. At this point you can check the consistency it will be quite thick. Do note that the DDL will gradually thicken as it cools down.

5) Remove the prepared DDL from the stove. Before transferring it onto a clean bowl do pass it through a sieve if required to remove any unwanted lumps of milk solids that may have fallen from the sides of the pan.

4 cups or 1 litre of milk will yield approximately 1- 1 1/4 cup of Dulce De Leche.

Let it cool and serve as desired. Transfer it into an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. It can last for a month if stored properly. 






Thursday, 9 October 2014

Couscous and Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans Salad

This is a light, simple and healthy lunch salad. I happened to try this salad when i was in London accompanying my hubs on his business trip. 

A small deli of a greek restaurant was serving it along with some other yummy lunch options. Well i guess the name of the restaurant can be a bit misleading as far as the couscous part of salad is concerned. I initially thought it was a greek recipe well it turns out its not. I have been told (and i did my research as well) that couscous is not included in any of the traditional greek recipes. This may resemble Taboule recipe but not entirely. 

Anyhow greek or not i did love the idea of this salad a lot. I am not sure what the original recipe is. But this is what i came up with which tastes very much similar to what i had in london. Give it a try when you are not in a mood to prepare a regular lunch or maybe even dinner. 



Ingredients:
1/2 - 3/4 cups of cooked chickpeas/garbanzo beans
1/2 cup or less of cooked bengal gram (optional - this is something extra that i added)
1/2 cup of whole wheat dry couscous
1 green chili finely chopped
Lemon juice - Add as per your preference
1/4 cup of pomegranate seeds (gives a mild sweetness and crunch to the salad)
2- 3 tbsp each of chopped cilantro and parsley 
Salt to taste 
Olive oil

1) Cook the couscous as per packet instruction. This is what i did. In a medium saucepan combine half a cup of water, a little olive oil and salt . Bring it to boil and remove from heat. Pour half cup of dry couscous into the sauce pan. Stir well. Cover and let it stand for 5 mins. Fluff with a fork.

2) To the couscous add the boiled chickpeas, bengal gram, a dash of olive oil if required,  green chili, pomegranate seeds, lemon juice, chopped parsley and cilantro. Toss everything together. Check for seasoning. Add more lemon juice or salt if required and serve. 

You can even add onion and tomatoes to it for a different variation and flavor profile.