Saturday, January 12, 2008

Fettuccine with Pesto Sauce

I really like Pasta! As does my daughter, who asks for either a mac and cheese or Alfredo every other day. Pasta with pesto sauce or Puttanesca are my favourites. Ever since I started growing herbs, I make my pesto with homegrown basil. I made some yesterday and decided to post my version on Pasta with Pesto. Ananya loaded her plate with grated cheese and insisted I only post that picture, so try to look for the pasta beneath the cheese!

Fettuccine with Pesto
Dried pasta- any shape
Pesto sauce as required(recipe below)
1/2 cup chopped veggies- onion, peppers, broccoli, etc
sliced olives, grated cheese -to garnish
Cook pasta as directed. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan, add onions, peppers and saute for a couple of minutes. Add pesto sauce and cooked pasta. Mix well and garnish.
For Pesto Sauce
2 tbsp pine nuts (chilgoza), if not available, use walnuts
5-7 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 small bunch Italian basil
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp grated cheese - I usually use either cheddar or Parmesan, which are easily available
salt to taste
Grind all above ingredients coarsely in a food processor or mixie, if its difficult to grind, add a tbsp of milk to thin it down. This freezes well for 4-5 days,if doing so omit milk and cheese.

Restaurant Review - Yo China! - Brigade Road

I had both seen quite a few carts with a Yo China! logo in Delhi doing brisk business and read a couple of articles about the Chinese fast food chain in India which claimed- Chinese food at Chinese Prices.

So we were quite open to having lunch at their Brigade Road outlet last week. Really bad decision! The restaurant smelled stale as we entered and we had to wait a long time to order our stuff at the self service counter. We ordered combo meals - Red Thai Curry with Rice and Chowmein with Vegs in hot garlic sauce. The combo meals came with an order of khimchee, spring rolls and a fizzy drink or mineral water. Unfortunately they didnt have bottled water.

The people who run the chain probably forgot to add Chinese food at Chinese Prices with Indian Timing! We waited almost 20 mins for our order which was announced through an intercom just like they had in the nationalised banks long ago - Token No Two Two twenty two- in English, Kannada and Hindi!!

We were quite famished by the time we picked up our food and unfortunately for us the food really sucked! The spring rolls were a few days old refried a few times, the khimchee - god knows what it really was, the noodles totally tasteless and both curries were laden with gluten and soggy vegetables and not one dish had any taste. We couldn't eat more that a couple of spoons and dumped the lunch.

So Yo China! gets two thumbs down from us and we will definitely not be visiting any of their outlets again. Food was bad, service was poor, the decor was very average with the terribly annoying OOH media screen running loud. I visited their website to send comments- that particular page gave an error message. How convenient!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Restaurant Review- Fiorano

On an impulse, we decided to travel all the way from our neck of the woods to Koramangala for Sunday dinner at Fiorano. Fiorano is situated on 100 Ft Rd Koramangala right next to Sukh Sagar and has valet parking which is a boon in most areas of Bangalore!

Their decor is very tasteful with textured walls in whites and black furniture. Its really nice to find interiors done where there is no deliberate attempt to display art/decorative pieces which announce an expensive interior decoration!

Warm, attentive service, muted music, classy decor and great food-makes Fiorano one of our favourite Italian restaurants. Your experience starts with a "make your own bruschetta"- a platter of warm bread with peeled garlic, basil leaves and cherry tomatoes. For the uninitiated, the staff are all too willing to show you how to rub the garlic, basil and the tomatoes on the slice of bread with a dash of olive oil. Ananya loved it and was happy experimenting by herself.

They have a good selection of wines and non alcoholic mocktails, juices, etc. Since we weren't keen on alcohol, we tried a Virgin Mary - which was good and a Mint & Lime drink- which was way too sweet and felt just like chilled soda with tons of sugar!. For starters, we ordered the fried mozzarella balls, which was quite good, though I felt a dip would have made perfect.

Whats interesting about Fiorano is that they have their own Cheese factory on the first floor over their restaurant and we had an opportunity to meet the Formaggiao- Mukund during one of our visits. They make and sell their cheese like mozzarella, mascarpone(no wonder their tiramisu is yummmmy!), cream cheese, bocconcini to other restaurants in Bangalore. They have a counter inside the restaurant that sells both their cheese and desserts.

Ananya was all excited about ordering her favourite Spaghetti in Alfredo sauce, N wanted Penne with a robust Primavera Sauce and I had the Spaghetti in a spicy cherry tomato sauce with ricotta. Not surprisingly, there was utter silence at our table as we focussed on our respective pastas and practically licked the plates clean. Given that in our small family of three, two of us are pretty communicative the silence says a lot!!

N just had to order the Tiramisu which was just perfect and I had a pannacotta with a berry sauce- was fine but I probably would pass on it another time. All in all, a lovely time was had by all and we drove home sated and happy. Amen!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Aval Upma- Beaten rice flakes

Aval Upma is typically made either for breakfast or a tea time snack. Beaten rice flakes of two kinds are sold in most grocery stores, for the two dishes below, I recommend the smaller one.
Aval Upma

1/2 cup aval
1/2 onion finely chopped
3-4 tbsp boiled green peas or 1/4 cup finely chopped potatoes
1-2 green chillies, finely chopped
1/2" ginger finely chopped, optional
a pinch of asafoetida
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp chana dal
1 tbsp roasted peanuts with skin removed
Curry leaves, finely chopped coriander & grated coconut for garnish
1 pinch turmeric, salt to taste, oil as required

Wash the rice flakes well in water and strain them. Keep aside for 5-10 mins. Heat 1 tbsp oil and add a pinch of asafoetida, mustard, chana dal, chillies, ginger, curry leaves and onion. (If using potatoes, add now) Fry for a couple of minutes on medium flame, add turmeric and the soaked rice flakes. Mix well add salt add boiled peas (if using) and peanuts. Garnish with chopped coriander and either squeezed lemon juice or grated coconut.

Sweet Aval

This used to be a favourite after school snack. Its very healthy too!!

1/2 cup beaten flakes
1-2 cups milk flavoured with ground cardamom powder
grated jaggery as per taste
3 tbsp grated coconut

As before, wash and drain the rice flakes. Soak it in milk according to consistency required. Add jaggery and grated coconut. Based on taste, this can be a thin or thick pudding. Its absolutely yummy, take my word for it.

Eulogy for a dearly loved grandfather

Exactly a month ago, on the 7th of December, my maternal grandfather passed away. Quietly, without much of a fuss or bother... just the way he would have wanted. Thatha was 80 and just a few months before, we had celebrated his 80th birthday quite grandly. He then spent a bit of time with family in the US and probably visited everyone he ever knew there. His last couple of months at Chennai too were spent much the same way, visiting people and showering them with his trademark"God Bless You's!" It was almost as if he knew that his time was limited.

So, from a quite logical viewpoint, there is nothing very shocking or upsetting about the death of an 80 year old who has lived a long and mostly contented life with parents, siblings, wife, children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren. Logically, I understand the circle of life and death. Emotionally, I find it difficult to believe that each time I visit the flat my grandparents lived in for the last 10 years and where I lived for 3 years, thatha won't be around to open the door. I find it hard to see my usually tough-as-a-cookie grandmother, suddenly looking fragile and older than her 75 years, living alone in their flat. I think what I find most difficult to accept is the finality that death brings.

When my paternal grandpa passed on 20 years ago, I was a child and only vaguely understood what was happening. Since then, I have not been so closely associated to someone who died...till now. Memories of life with my thatha flash through my mind daily- of him swinging me on his feet when I was four, the number of Parker pens he gifted me through school, Sunday morning brunch at Drive-in Woodlands during summer vacation in Madras, our shared humor at being academic black sheep in our families, a sudden surge in life for both grandparents when I moved into their place for a few years, his concern about my fare arguments with the Chennai auto drivers outside his apt gate (never mind that I found out later that he was actually tipping the same guys I bargained with!!), his happiness at my cousin's marriage and mine that followed soon, seeing his two great grandchildren and most recently his excitement (that he sometimes tried to hide, unsuccessfully) at his Shadabhishekam conducted by his daughters and grandchildren.

I would like to think that my living with thatha and paati for 3 years gave them both a sense of renewed purpose and happiness. I definitely enjoyed living with them, doing up their house in small measures with my grandmom and treating them both to an occasional dinner especially at the Saravana Bhavan weigh and eat buffet where they both constantly compared who ate more!!

While I miss my thatha and wish he was still alive, like my daughter I would like to believe God called him away as He was bored and wanted company. He is probably up somewhere, feasting on "vigtables" and sending a load of "God Bless You's" down our way.