Monthly Archives: December 2012

Glimpse of India– Hyderabad

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Last week saw me visiting the ‘City of Pearls’ Hyderabad with my parents. This was our first trip after almost 10 years and the city has changed drastically in that time. Malls have popped up, there are more cars on the road, as are people.

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The sprawling metropolis

My dad was born and raised in Hyderabad, and so we have spent many a summers with my cousins in the city and done all the usual sight-seeing. But since my sister-in-law was with us as well and it was her first visit we made it to all the usual tourist spots; Birla Temple, Hussain Sagar Lake, Char Minar along with the compulsory bangle and pearl shopping, and of course Ramoji Film City . Just remember to bargain like there is no tomorrow when making your bangle purchases.

And of course we ate, and a lot. The famous Hyderabadi Biryani is a must try, and you should definitely try it at the award-winning Paradise. We also picked up cookies and cakes from the equally famous Karachi Bakery. One thing I don’t recommend trying are the paani puris, because they are just plain strange in the city.

Here are a few pictures to tempt you to make a visit.

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Statue of Buddha in the center of Hussain Sagar

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Biryani at Paradise

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One of the many sets at Ramoji Film City

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Birla Temple

Jaipur

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Yay!! I finally had the chance to visit a new Indian city!! I was dying to explore more of India so I could grasp the diversity of this vast nation. It is quite sad that I haven’t seen much of India, but last week changed that. A friend’s wedding took me to Jaipur, also famously known as the Pink City in India. It was a short three day trip, and as we were quite busy with the wedding, we didn’t have much time to do all the sight seeing.

However, we did manage to squeeze one historical or touristy site in our trip. We visited the Hawa Mahal in old Jaipur. Hawa Mahal’s literal translation is Palace of Winds. It is said that you are able to feel the breeze from every corner of the palace. I am not sure if that applied for our trip in particular as it was a hot and sunny day, with limited wind. We were sweating buckets as we climbed all the nooks and corners of the 5 storyh palace.

What impressed me most about the Hawa Mahal was the architecture. The structure is influenced by both the Hindu Rajput and Islamic Mughal architecture. The front facade of the palace is simply breathtaking. The romantic in me wants to view this facade during sunrise.

Leaving you all with a few pics from our mini Jaipur trip. I definitely won’t mind making another trip to the Pink City of India.

Front Facade of Hawa Mahal

Front Facade of Hawa Mahal

Interior of Hawa Mahal

Interior of Hawa Mahal

Expansive Grounds of Hawa Palace

Expansive Grounds of Hawa Palace

Desi Cooking: Dal/Indian Lentils

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What to carry for lunch was something that I constantly thought about while I was working in the U.S. Those who worked with me quickly figured out my mantra: dal or Indian Lentils. This protein heavy and healthy meal was my lunch ritual. I simply LOVE dal-any type for that matter. Dal is also a staple Indian meal; you will probably find it at everyone’s house. It’s easy to eat with rice or roti.

Here is a quick overview of making Moong Dal.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Moong Dal (soak it in warm water for at least 30 minutes before cooking-can be found in any Indian grocery store)
1 green chilli
1/2 chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon red chilli powder (according to taste)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 tablespoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon jeera seeds
1/2 tablespoon oil
Salt per taste
Coriander Leaves for garnish

Directions:

1) Add oil to the pressure cooker. Add chopped onions and let them turn light brown (on low to medium heat)
2) Add chopped garlic and finely chopped green chilli. Saute them for 1-2 minutes.
3) Add all the dry masala (red chilli powder, coriander powder, and turmeric). If the mixture is too dry, you can turn the flame on low and add water and mix everything together.
4) Add the soaked dal (the lentils themselves will have become bigger and softer due to the soaking). Add another cup of water to this. Now you can pressure cook the dal for 10 minutes (2-3 whistles). You can make dal using a regular pot, it will just take much longer.
5) Open pressure cooker lid and see consistency of dal. If it’s too thick and stick to the sides of the pan, you can add more water on a low flame.
6) Add diced tomatoes and mix on a low flame.

Tempering
1) Take a separate pan, and add 1 teaspoon of oil to it.
2) Once oil is hot, add jeera seeds to the oil. You will know the jeera is cooked with the seeds start to sputter immediately. Turn off gas and pour this mix over the ready dal.

As a final presentation and taste touch, you can add chopped coriander leaves to the dal. I didn’t have coriander ready at home so wasn’t able to add it to the dish.

Hope this turns out well. I tried my best to memorise the measurements of all ingredients. Let me know how the recipe is.

Pictorial Description of Recipe:

Moong Dal (Lentils)

Moong Dal (Lentils)

Indian Spices: Red Chilli Powder, Coriander Powder, & Turmeric

Indian Spices: Red Chilli Powder, Coriander Powder, & Turmeric

Ingredients: Onion, Green Chilli, Garlic, & Tomatoes

Ingredients: Onion, Green Chilli, Garlic, & Tomatoes

After adding all masalas and onions

After adding all masalas and onions

Adding some dal and water to the pressure cooker

Adding some dal and water to the pressure cooker

Dal after being cooked via pressure cooker for 2-3 whistles

Dal after being cooked via pressure cooker for 2-3 whistles

Added diced tomatoes and dal is ready for tempering

Added diced tomatoes and dal is ready for tempering

Tempering

Tempering

Final Dish!!

Final Dish!!

Starbucks in India

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We have Starbucks!!! Yay!!! I so missed the lattes, frappacinos, and ability to order drinks by saying “tall” or “venti.” Starbucks was an essential part of my life in the U.S. and Thailand. Starbucks made it’s grand debut at the historic Elphinstone Building in Fort, Mumbai mid October. Since then, two more branches have opened, one at the Oberoi Hotel and another one at the majestic Taj Hotel.

Starbucks Entrance Sign

Starbucks Entrance Sign

It was my first visit to the Starbucks here, and it was awesome! I was absolutely delighted to be able to order my tall non-fat vanilla latte. The excitement to taste my drink was indescribable. I had the first sip and it was PERFECT!

Tall Non-Fat Vanilla Latte

Tall Non-Fat Vanilla Latte

What I loved even more about the Starbucks here was the interior. The grand and regal architecture of the Elphinstone building was combined with the minimalistic design the Starbucks usually sport. All the tables in the two story store were packed; you could witness meetings, friends chit-chatting, and some even browsing the internet using the free Wi-Fi that Starbuck offered.

I had a chance to engage in a fun and quick conversation with one of the baristas. He kindly offered me a dark roast coffee tasting. When I asked if he had any light roast coffee available, he very sweetly replied that he has been with Starbucks only for a month and is learning all about coffee. He said please come again next time and I will be sure to provide you with a coffee of your liking. He also mentioned that working at Starbucks, he felt like he was part of the Starbuck family.

The barista that gave me the coffee tasting

The barista that gave me the coffee tasting

I spent a good 30 minutes at Starbucks just soaking the atmosphere in. I didn’t try any of the food, but they seemed offer a good spread from cookies and muffins to grilled paninis and sandwiches.

Oh Starbucks (and Tata-Starbucks got entry into India via an alliance with Tata Enterprises)-how I missed you, and am glad you are somewhere nearby:)

Interior of Starbucks @ Fort, Mumbai

Interior of Starbucks @ Fort, Mumbai

Interior of Starbucks @ Fort, Mumbai

Interior of Starbucks @ Fort, Mumbai