Monthly Archives: April 2013

Some Kulfi to Beat the Heat

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The summers are upon us, and one of the ways to cool down is with ice cream, or if you are in India, kulfi is another option. It is basically homemade Indian ice cream. Here is Thailand however, we don’t have the luxury of simply buying it from a store, so it was cooking time.

My mom (I wish I would say I made it, but really it was all mommy) decided to make kulfi and in two flavors. We decided to go with mango and paan, which I have made before and is the only flavor I can eat. You actually get all sorts of flavors now, from blueberry to Belgian chocolate if you want to get adventurous.

It’s a simple recipe, and a must try.

Ingredients:

  • 1 liter milk
  • Half a tin of condensed milk (the tins we use here are 385 grams)
  • Half cup readymade paan or gulkand run in a mixer or for a mango flavor a cup of fresh mango puree

Since we were making two flavors, the milk and condensed milk quantity were doubled, and the flavoring was added separately in the end.

Steps:

  1. Boil the milk on low heat, make sure you keep stirring, so it does not stick to the bottom.

    Boiling the milk, in order to reduce it

    Boiling the milk, in order to reduce it

  2. Once the milk has thickened, usually takes around an hour, add the condensed milk, and boil for a few more minutes. You know you are done when the milk has reduced to half its original amount. Even a little bit of water will result in ice forming in the final product.

    Condensed milk

    Condensed milk

  3. Add the paan mix into the cooling mixture. You will see a pale pinkish color in the final product.

    Readymade paan

    Readymade paan

  4. Once the mix has cooled either pour it in kulfi cones, popsicle jars or a freezer safe container.
    Paan kulfi ready to be frozen

    Paan kulfi ready to be frozen

     

  5. Give it at least 12 hours to harden, and ta-da enjoy the yumminess.

If you want to go with mango flavor, simply add a cup of mango puree instead of the paan mix.

Chopped mangoes for the puree

Chopped mangoes for the puree

Ready to pop the mango kulfi in the freezer

Ready to pop the mango kulfi in the freezer

And here come the final treats…

Mango and paan kulfi

Mango and paan kulfi

Travel Diaries: Jim Corbett National Park

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4 months into the year and I think my new year resolution of traveling more in India is being followed. My stopover in New Delhi (where the metro completely floored me) served as a small detour from my main vacation destination of Jim Corbett National Park, located in the Uttarakand region of India. To be honest, I, like many others, had never heard of Jim Corbett National Park. Call me ignorant but I didn’t even know that India is one of the few places in the world where you can spot a tiger in it’s natural habit. Apparently Kaal, another bollywood flick, was based on the park as well.

Our family friends have been visiting this park as an annual holiday for the past 17 years and vouched about the wonderful experience they had. This time around, my sister-in-law, along with my husband and I, decided to tagalong with our family friends. So what do we have to say about the experience? AMAZING!!!

Ready with our hats and sunglasses to enter the park!

Ready with our hats and sunglasses to enter the park!

There are numerous “wow” factors about spending 4 days and 3 nights at the Dikhala Lodge within Jim Corbett National Park. First of all, seeing wild elephants, tigers and various deer in their natural habits, just a few feet away from you is surreal. We actually had the wild elephants charge at us twice!!! It was terrifying, but left us with an great high. Our days were long (woke up at 5 AM) as we would go out for animal, particularly tiger, sightings from 6 AM to 10:30 AM and then again from 3 PM to 7 PM. Even though we were driven around the expansive park in a comfortable and open air Maruti Gypsy, we would pretty much be spent and exhausted when we got to our rooms.

One of several breathtaking views of Jim Corbett

One of several breathtaking views of Jim Corbett

The landscape of the park is also quite splendid. From lush and dense forests to crystal clear water, the park has it all. There are mountains and lakes within the park. I loved being in the quite and scenic forest as much as I liked sighting the animals. No loud horns, no traffic-just being able to take in the natural beauty of the jungle. However, be sure to take along mosquito repellant as it is essential during the evenings.

The elephant that chased us!

The elephant that chased us!

You might wonder how easy is it to see a tiger in the park. For us, getting to see a tiger took a while and a lot of effort, primarily from our trusted guide, Dilshad. Dilshad would watch for tiger pug marks on the road to understand the tiger trail. He would hear for animal calls from deer and monkeys that indicated a tiger is on the move. We would wait for hours by a water hole in hopes that a tiger would come to quench his thirst. Our efforts finally paid off on the third day when we sighted a tiger for a good 3-4 minutes as the tiger unveiled himself from the dark bushes of the jungle. We were may be 3 feet away from the tiger, and the experience was amazing. We all were excited and terrified at the same time because tiger could have pounced on us at any moment. Instead, this tiger just stared at us for a good minute and continued his journey to the top of the mountain.

I can go on and on about our stay at Corbett, but I will keep it short and ask you all to experience it for yourself if possible. The park has something for all and makes for a unique and wonderful holiday. Leaving you all with some pictures from our trip.

Gorgeous Sunrise

Gorgeous Sunrise

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Tiger Pugmarks

Tiger Pug-marks

Destination Delhi-On the Metro

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I made it to the capital of India: New Delhi and even though I spent just 20 hrs in the city, it was a wonderful experience. Now, one thing I really miss about Bangkok or even major U.S. cities is the public transport, especially the sky trains or metros. Delhi is home to the second metro line in India (Calcutta had the first); the metro started approximately 7 years ago and now has become an integral part of the city. My cousins and family members all vouch for how the metro has made traveling across the various ends of the city seamless. A commute by car that can take over an hour an half in crazy Indian traffic is cut to 40 minutes.

We hopped on the metro to go visit the Qutub Minar, one of the major tourist spot in Delhi. Our journey from Gurgoan (on the western end of Delhi) to the Qutub Station (in the city) took approximately 20 minutes. I was impressed with the cleanliness and infrastructure of the metro. It was really similar to the BTS in Bangkok. Trains are quite frequent, arriving almost every minute, and all maps and train routes are clearly indicated. My aunty also told me how the metro is probably the only place where people follow lines and decorum.

I am leaving you all with some pictures (I couldn’t help myself) of the Delhi metro experience.

Token for Metro

Token for Metro

 

Escalators till the tracks

Escalators till the tracks

 

The Metro is here!

The Metro is here!

 

 

 

Weekend Recap: Pool Gate

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The weekend passed as quickly as it came and like most people my weekend was filled with an all important “To-Do” list. The highest priority errand was to get fresh vegetables and fruits for the house. The go-to place for fresh vegetable stock and best prices is Pool Gate. Don’t get mistaken, there is no pool even remotely near this area. Shopping at Pool Gate is of a different kind: be ready to push your away through the narrow alleys, haggle with the vendors and come out drenched in sweat.

Vendors with their fresh stock of fruits and vegetables

Vendors with their fresh stock of fruits and vegetables

My husband and I have, I think, have mastered the shopping at Pool Gate. We carry our own shopping bags, in our attempt to be all recycle friendly, but most vendors don’t provide plastic bags so they just dump the vegetables in your bag, take the faithful Activa (two wheeler) to the market and follow a shopping list. I think it takes us may be 20 minutes to complete all of our shopping 🙂

I use the strategy I follow at amusement parks, particularly Cedar Point, we start at the back of the market in our hope to get the best deals and then work our way to the main entrance. One thing about Pool Gate is that you can find almost anything you need there-tomatoes, potatoes, corn, mangoes (yes, it’s mango season), mixes for local food such as Misal Pao, corn, eggplants, pomegranates, etc.

Typical item on my grocery list: Eggplant

Typical item on my grocery list: Eggplant

Now, don’t get me wrong, Pune does have its fair share of air-conditioned supermarkets, such as Reliance Fresh & Big Bazaar, however for my household of 6, buying at Pool Gate is definitely more cost effective. Yes, you do have to sometimes push your way through the market as it can get quite busy and sometimes carrying back 5 kilos of potatoes isn’t ideal. Haggling is there but sorta limited-the vendors might give you a break in price if you are buying a large quantity (2-3 kilos of particular item). I try to bargain as much as possible, but am not all that successful-sometimes I even ask my husband what the price is in English as I don’t know the Hindi number system completely.

We are usually spent by the end of the trip, but I get a feeling of satisfaction. Yes, I conquered Pool Gate!  If you want a unique shopping experience and are bored of pushing your shopping cart around the endless lanes of a supermarket, try checking in at the Pool Gate.

Shop until you drop…in Bangkok

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One reason most tourists come to the ‘city of angels’ is for its endless shopping. Bangkok has a little for everyone, from high end and high street brands to local designers and street shopping.

:)

🙂

My cousin was recently in Bangkok with her family, and one of the main things on her agenda was shopping. And we did indeed spend quite a bit of time on our feet visiting both the malls and the street markets, picking everything from gold to shoes and souvenirs. Since we Indians love investing in gold, I suggest picking some nice pieces from here, since the gold is just so much prettier than the orange tinged version available in India. I always get asked where my jewelry is from anytime I am wearing a piece I picked in Thailand.

These are some of the places we ended up going to:

Malls: Sukhumvit road is dotted with malls, among which are some of the largest in the region. For anyone coming to Bangkok a must visit is Central World and Siam Paragon, which also includes an aquarium for the little ones. Other note worthy malls are Emporium and Central Chitlom. Since Bangkok is a fashion hub, store displays change multiple times a year, so be sure to check out the numerous sales.

Central World

Central World

Siam Paragon all lit up

Siam Paragon all lit up

Wholesale shopping: locals and tourist alike head to Platinum to pick up the latest trends without burning a hole in their pockets. Here as with the nearby Pratunam, the more pieces you buy, the less you end up paying per piece. And since they allow you to mix and match designs, you can literally buy an entire new wardrobe on a budget.

Another option in Sam Phaeng, where you can pick accessories, bags and rolls of fabric. You’ll always see retailers at these markets, stocking up on trendy outfits and accessories to sell from their boutiques later.

Chatuchak: open only on Saturday and Sunday, this open air market boasts of over 20,000 shops that sell everything from candles to custom furniture. But don’t let the size intimidate you, as the stores are carefully housed under sections, and further marked with street and shop numbers. And if your feet hurt from all the walking, just stop by at one of the foot massage places for quick pain relief like we did.

Chatuchak on a map

Chatuchak on a map

The tiny lanes of Chatuchak

The tiny lanes of Chatuchak

Asiatique: Bangkok until a few years back had a popular night market, but it was shut to make way for a hotel project. But now with Asiatique, we have one again! Situated across the river, you can hop on a ferry or use the shuttle service to get there. Open from 5pm until midnight this is fast becoming a popular destination, with dining and entertainment in addition to the shopping. The shops are housed in nine converted warehouses that had been taken for the Japanese during WWII and had been left abandoned since. Lots of picture taking opportunities, just remember to bring your walking shoes, because this place is massive. Don’t forget to ride the ferris wheel for a night time view of the city.

Welcome to Asiatique

Welcome to Asiatique

Warehouse 1 of 9

Warehouse 1 of 9

And while shopping, if you get hungry or thirsty, don’t’ shy away from the street food on offer. Definitely a must try!