Sunday, 29 September 2013

Lau- Palong er Ghonto ( Bottle Gourd Spinach Medley)

In between posting about the Goa trip I thought of posting a quickie recipe. Leafy vegetables have always been my favorite. The following family recipe is a very easy one with minimum ingredients. Spinach is packed with vital nutrients such as iron and beta-carotene, and it's a good source of fiber. While Bottle gourd has many health benefits least known to many like it helps liver function, a good weight loss food and is rich in, thiamin, vitamin C, zinc, iron and magnesium.

When you are craving for some Palak preparation and want to cook up a hassle free dish this is ideal for you.


Preparation Time: 15 minutes 

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Serves:2


Cuisine: Bengali

Ingredients:

  • Spinach (Palong Shak) - 1 bunch
  • Bottle Gourd (Lau) - 1 Medium (250 gm)
  • Radhuni (Wild Celery Seeds) - 1/2 tsp
  • Jeera whole (Cumin Seeds) - 1/2 tsp 
  • Bay Leaf - 2
  • Green Chilli - 2
  • Rice Powder - 1 1/2 tsp
  • Kolai Dal Bori (Vadi/ Udad Lentil dumplings) - 7-8
  • Turmeric 
  • Refined Oil
  • Salt as per taste
  • Sugar as per taste

1. Wash and chop the spinach leaves


2. Finely cut the Bottle gourd into small pieces.
3. Take a wok and add 2 cups of water, add a pinch of salt and add the chopped bottle gourd. Boil the gourd for 5-8 minutes. Drain the water and keep aside.
4. Fry the Bori till browned, keep aside to cool. When they have cooled down coarsely grind them.

5. Take a wok and add oil. When the oil is heated, toss in the Bay leaf, cumin and Radhuni. When the spices are fragrant add the chopped Spinach leaves. 




6. Add turmeric, salt and sugar. 

7. Slit the green chillies and add it to the wok.

8. When the Spinach starts to reduce and release water add the blanched bottle gourd. Fold in.

9. When everything is cooked add the rice powder and mix well.

  Rice power helps in acquiring the mushy consistency. Taste is not affected on adding rice powder. You can easily get rice powder at any grocer store.


10. Finally add the ground Bori and fold in.


Server with rice and dal.




Sending this to Cooking 4 all Seasons' "Side Dish Mela" event.


Saturday, 21 September 2013

The Feel of Goa in Monsoon - Part 2


***** Day 2 *****

When we came to Goa we had the Dudhsagar Waterfalls was definitely on our agenda.The way to the Gigantic beauty is through a forest trail which is not too easy to traverse, only Jeeps can take you to the waterfalls. There are some brave hearts who dare to take their bike all the way but its not an easy terrain to navigate on a bike.

While reading reviews on the Tripadvisor and other traveler blogs we also got to know that if the rains are strong there are chances that the forest trail to the waterfalls will be closed for visitors. Fingers crossed we hoped that since it was just mid-June rains should not play a spoilsport. An hour away from the resort there were two options : to take a local train to the nearest station to the waterfall or to hire a cab all the way till the motorable road was present. While the first would give a better chance to observe the locales the latter would ensure a comfortable travel. When we inquired in the resort about car availability, we got the bad news, the way to the falls was closed due to rivers overflowing along the forest trail.

Disappointed as we were we decided to make use of the day biking to North Goa.We retained the bike for the next day as well (Rs.250/per day).

It had rained all night and when I woke up the sky was pretty overcast. Hubby was not yet ready to leave the comforts of the quilt so I decided to take a short walk nearby.There was a walkway along the edge of the property very near to our cottage. It was very silent and serene all around. One could get a clear view of the sea from there. The sea was silent with occasional waves crashing on the rocks.I had taken my camera along... morning time is usually the best time to capture nature when there are hardly any humans around.I spotted a number of pretty insects, sad I didn't have my macro lens with me. I saw a group of fisherman pushing their boat into the water. Its very interesting to watch these fisherman readying themselves to go out for the early morning catch. It was a beautiful morning giving positive vibes for the rest of the day.
Around the resort


We got ready by 8.30AM and went for breakfast. The same fare was served. We gave some of our bread to the dogs roaming around. The resort people didn't object feeding the strays, which I liked. Human and animals should co-exist for maintaining a balance in the nature but sadly not everyone is sensitive to this.

We had decided to follow the NH 17B, touch Panjim and then move northwards. We had planned to visit one of the most famous beach the Calangute and then see what else we can cover. We did plan to have lunch at the very famous Brittos if possible.With that we started our journey. Thankfully for us, the rain clouds gave a break and the sun was up bright and clear.We drove till Cortalim Junction and took left to merge into the NH17. While driving through NH17B I was a bit confused, I remembered quite clearly that the Google maps had shown the Highway running parallel to the Arabian sea, but here till the time we were on 17B there was no sea on any side. The mystery was solved while coming back.

The roads were seamless, no traffic, balmy breeze, sweet sunshine made the journey very pleasurable even on such an ancient bike. We saw many bikers on way going in the same direction as us. We crossed a couple of bridges. We saw big ships, mostly goods carrying ones anchored at the docks. The landscape looked like a freshly painted canvas...greenery all around.

While driving towards Panjim we came across a very beautiful cathedral Mae de deus (mother of god) church was built in 1873 in Gothic architectural style at Saligao (10kms from Panjim). The pure white against a carpet of emerald green is very soothing. We decided to stop while coming back.

Soon we reached Panjim. It had the usual character of a busy city, the only difference lot of tourists on bikes roaming around. We planned to skip exploring Panjim and keep moving towards Calangute.On way we crossed river Mandovi. Within half an hour we reached Calangute which is like 15 KM from Panjim. The directions are there everywhere so one wouldn't have much difficulty finding any place even being a tourist. As we approached Calangute the character of the surrounding was transforming into one fun fair. Music, Foreigners, teenage lovers, colourful attires, food shops, small roadside shacks selling mementos etc. No wonder in peak season this place transforms itself completely.It reminded me of Florida, the party mood is similar at all famous beaches I think.

We parked the bike in the bike stand (Rs. 20for 4 hours). Almost 99.9% of bikes parked were rented ones.The day was gradually becoming hot and terribly humid. Especially as we neared the beach we were sweating pretty much. The salty sea air made it more uncomfortable. We passed the innumerable memento shops and walked down to the sea which was fairly crowded even in so called "off season".

The beach was a sight to behold. If we were awed by the waves in Bogmalo,then we were mesmerized by the vast sea and its huge crashing waves in Calangute. No wonder its considered one of the finest beach in North Goa. I would have preferred it minus all the crowds though. We stood there getting our feet drenched in the waves. We didn't have a change of clothes so there was no question of bathing in the water. But the waves looked so delectable that it was pretty hard to resist. I totally envied the ones going all the way into the water. We became a bit bold and went some steps further. The waves came and drenched us till knees. It felt very nice especially in the terrible heat.A lifeguard volunteered to take some snaps of us and we happily obliged. We stood there for like an hour enjoying the waves and getting tanned. At about 1 Pm we decided to move.

While walking back we stopped at a few shops.It was a treasure trove of goan handicrafts, fridge magnets and wall hangings with Goan motifs, shell jeweleries, sunglasses, colourful swimsuits, hats, floaters and everything you can imagine.I have a fetish for collecting fridge magnets from wherever I visit and decided to buy them from elsewhere as the shops here were quoting exorbitant prices.

Now we decided to visit Fort Aguada. The road to Fort Aguada seemed full of curves and bends; roads forking quite frequently. I loved the drive to Fort Aguada though as it was a very secluded kind of drive with us hardly spotting any tourist vehicles and also the pathway had dense foliage on either side. The air was crisp and soothing - a sharp contrast to what we experienced in Calangute.

The clouds were closing in as we entered the fort premises. A good thing is they have a nice washroom facility in the premises which is specially helpful for people visiting from long distance. By the time we climbed up the stairs it had started to rain.

The fort, situated at the mouth of the Mandovi River was built by the Portuguese in 1612 to protect old Goa against the Dutch and Marathas and check access of enemies into the River Mandovi. It is now maintained by the Archaeological Society of India.The fort now houses the central jail and has one of Asia’s oldest lighthouses, a four-storied structure looking over a vast expanse of sea, sand and palm trees.It makes for a pretty backdrop for a photo. we walked around the boundary of the fort. People thronged the "Dil Chahta hai Point". The lighhouse looked majestic from every angle.


As we left For Aguada, it seemed like we were leaving behind a slice of Portuguese history wrapped in the folds of time. we drove back and while coming back we took a wrong turn which led us to the other end of Aguada, now a property of Taj.On one side is the Taj Resort and there is an extension of the fort which meets the sea. At the tip of this extended part you stand a chance to get drenched by the huge crashing waves on the wall of the fort if you are not careful.We saw a few snobbish looking families fresh out of the spa with their Prada glares and Louis Vuitton handbags sashaying down the fort. They had come to visit the fort which is at a stone throw distance from the resort all decked up. I didn't have any particular animosity against these decked up dolls but the way they began to wail the moment the sea water touched their delicate skin was a matter of pure fun for us.

Leaving the elite behind we started walking towards the other leg of the fort remains. This part was a bit secluded and this is where I saw the biggest waves of my life. They were like these giants coming to swallow anything in front of them. The sound of the crashing waves was so high that everything else became inaudible. The froth left behind by the receding waves were thick and milky. It was difficult to stand there as the wind was terribly strong. We stood there in a trance. We captured the video but it couldn't do any justice to what the eyes had seen in actuality.

After what seemed like an eternity, we started back. Next destination was Baga Beach. The Calangute-Baga road is more like a one lane road, lined with restaurants and packed with cars and tourists. It was already 3 Pm when we finally reached Baga. This is a very small subset of Calangute to tell the truth. Nothing impressive maybe at night it looks different. The only prominent thing at Baga beach is the innumerable food shacks and most of them pretty famous. We had planned a lunch at Brittos. It is one of the oldest standing shacks and known for its seafood. When we peeked inside the shack, it was all  chaotic, bustling with revellers.We stood there for a few minutes before we realised that no waiter will come to escort us to any empty table, we were on our own! So amidst the chaos we managed to get a table finally.  It was hot and sweaty and were were terribly hungry to wait for anything which will take lot of cooking time. The fans were blowing air heavenwards and the flies were attacking us in hordes. This fly thing I feel is a common problem in Goa. Even back in our resort where everything is so spic and span every morning during breakfast we had to fight the innumerable number of flies trying to get a bite of our food.


We kept looking for a server who was interested enough to serve us! After quite a few futile attempts to draw the attention of the disinterested servers we managed to get hold of one. He handed us the menu and vanished. Menu was detailed with continental, north indian, chinese and goan cuisine but prices were all pretty much steep compared to what we got at Bogmalo.We were also not sure of the portions we would get at such a high price so we decided to play safe and choose the conventional- a simple fish curry rice and sweet lime soda. It again took eons before someone came and took our orders. However once you place the order the food & drinks were served relatively quick. They also served us a complimentary fish roll which melted in the mouth. The fish was fresh and portion was good enough. Taste wise we were satisfied. We again faced the same disinterested servers while trying to make the payment. I even jokingly proposed to my husband that since no one seems interested in taking the charge lets simply walk out maybe then they will notice. This was followed by another hell of a time waiting to get back the change. Oh yes did I mention they only accepted cash?

After the ok-ok experience at Brittos we were drained out of energy and decided to head back home. It was easy to navigate our way back as by now we were a bit familiar with the roads. As decided on way back we stopped at cathedral Mae de deus. We didnt go inside just admired the beauty from the outside and took snaps.
Mae de deus

While coming back we took a wrong turn from Cortalim junction and ended up on 17A. We never realized that but felt we were on a different road which was far more beautiful than 17B. The sea ran parallel to us throughout. We stopped at one beautiful bridge joining the mainland to an island. It started raining heavily and we took shade in a bus stop. Rain is pretty unpredictable in Goa and when it pours it simply rains cats and dogs and also it doesn't start with a drizzle but straightaway downpour. The 17A was very very beautiful and rejuvenated us from all the tiredness.

We were back in the resort by 5:30 PM. When we looked at ourselves in the mirror in the room we got the shock of our lives. Two black ghosts stared back from the mirror...we had got sunburnt beyond recognisation. It took us sometime to soak in the fact. When finally we came to terms we decided not to lament about it and spend the rest of the day light roaming around the rocky beach. Today we walked to the farthest end of the rocky stretch and enjoyed the evening waves. There was a chill in the air which was very soothing.We walked on the beach till the moon was out.

We decided to have an early dinner as we were totally drained from the day's excursion. We ordered the Red Snapper Steak with butter garlic sauce,Prawn curry,  Golden prawn fry, Mughlai murg and serra dura.The reason for ordering so much food is that last day itself we came to know the portions were very miniscule they said they had only one portion of fish left in their kitchen so had to order chicken as well.Red snapper tasted really awesome and serra dura was as usual good.

It had started to rain once again. We went to sleep hearing the rains hitting the roofs and trees. Day 3 was going to be spend in the resort and was supposed to be less eventful than today.

To be continued...



Saturday, 14 September 2013

The feel of Goa in Monsoon - Part 1

This time it's not purely about the "Curry" but more of "Stories" or a travel diary with mention of food that we had during the travel. I have been postponing this for long but finally I am going to write down my about the small vacation we took in the first week of June.

Beautiful Orchid in Hotel Premises


Before we began...

Every year we target mid June to wander off somewhere for a couple of days. Usually is is a good time for vacation as the first showers of monsoon would kiss the Western Ghats by then and the Summer heat would have died down; the "off-season" would have begun - the perfect time to get some solitude while on vacation.  I get two special offs this month coupled with two more leave days and Saturday-Sunday combined we easily chalk out a five day gateaway.

I have been in Maharashtra for past 7 years and my husband for almost 8 years but none of us had visited Goa yet. Last year we had gone to Chorla Ghats which is in the border of Goa-Karnataka, but that was not what Goa is known for. So this year we decided to do away with the enigma that Goa was.

Both of us do not love crowd, solitude and nature is what we seek. Goa is known for its hip and happening lifestyle, colorful crowd, nightlife and food. Since we were only interested in the "food" part of it so Monsoon was the best time to visit Goa. The thought of getting the entire beach at our disposal indeed sounded romantic.

The Hotel...

Just like the destination the Hotel also matter a lot for us. And after the benchmark Wildernest had set last year it was difficult to compromise on something less than it . A search of Eco Lodges hardly returned a handful of names, most of which were advertised as Yoga and meditation camps. The one single resort that qualified as an eco lodging was that of Stonewater Eco Resort in South Goa. The pictures on trip advisor and on their brochure looked pretty pleasing. The resort was very close to the station as well which was an added advantage.

When we asked a colleague of my husband about South Goa he advised us not to stay there as there was not much happening in South Goa and North Goa was where all the action was. He feared we may get bored with the monotonous atmosphere there. That was a solid reason to go for South Goa and we were all set.

The Journey begins...

We boarded the Goa Express on the D-day. Unfortunately this time we didn't get good berths, one was side upper and other was inside upper. I got to share the lower seat with two Goanese women, one of whom was as grouchy and snobbish one could imagine. She was hardly ready to let me share the lower beth, but when I demanded that since I had the upper berth so I could share the lower berth while sitting, she made a tiny clearing for me to sit. All the 4.5 hours that we sat she held onto her trolley bag on her lap and complained of how stiff her legs were getting but was not ready to keep the bag on the floor. I didnt care much and tried to concentrate on the scenery outside. Miss Grouchy continued to drone in her made up "Aussie ascent" about her life in Australia and never missed a chance to show off. The constant fight to keep her bum from encroaching my tiny seating space and the monotonous monologue was getting on my nerves but I didnt want to miss the scenery outside just because of Miss Grouchy. Thank god soon the dinner was served and post dinner I quickly made my bed on the  upper berth and made myself comfortable.

Miss Grouchy's friend made her bed in the middle berth inside and Miss Grouchy went to bed with her precious trolley bag under her legs. It was a big bag and I was wondering how the both would fit together in that lean berth. The friend tried to convince her the same but failed. After a while when everyone was lying down we heard some Ohhhs and ahhhhs, I peeked from my berth and saw Miss Grouchy was not able to move in her berth because of the bag; finally her friend convinced her to keep it on the floor. So the fun ended there itself and we went to bed.


***** Day 1 *****
Nothing else happened during the night and we reached Vasco Da Gama station at 6:45 AM. 15 minutes late from the actual time of arrival. While entering Mormugaon we witnessed a patch of rocky beach dotted beautifully with slender palm trees. The waves were huge and as it crashed on the shore it looked pretty. The morning sun was pretty in the backdrop.

We had the Hotel send a car to pick us up from the station. A certain Mr. Riyaz chauffeured us to the hotel. He seemed quite an informed person and extended warmth in his talks. We dove through the port city, the city was still asleep with handful of people starting on their daily chores here and there. We drew cash from the ATM as there was no ATM facility near the resort. We queried about the beach that we saw from train and came to know that it was Bogmalo beach, the most famous beach out there. On way we got a glimpse of the Dabolim Airport, a new wing was also under construction. We left the airport behind us and moved ahead.  The road forked at Dabolim bus stand and we took a right turn. We passed through a market area, ladies were selling the fresh catch of the day. We drove ahead through dense foliage on either side of the roads and dotted with Big mansions, the one which are known as row-houses in Pune. We saw a lot of posh gyms on way. Population was scarce once we left the market area, a few houses here and there. After sometime the road became a bit bumpy and marked with potholes. The fresh rains had filled the potholes making them bumpier. It was unusual that there was no sign boards to indicate the existence of our resort anywhere on the road. We wandered how anyone coming for the first time in their own vehicle would find this place at all.  We noticed the cows grazing on the road side looked pretty malnutritioned, we could see their rib cage. This left us wondering with so much greenery around why was the situation of the animal so bad?


The Estate...
 Soon we reached the gates to the Karma Estate which housed the resort. From the reception area the resort looks like an idyllic sleepy hamlet nestled in a cove overlooking a tiny fishing village. The view from the reception area terrace is breathtaking, its like standing on a hillock and looking down at the tiny little cottages lined up in the nook and corner of the mountain steps opening up into the restless sea.The road inside the resort  slithers down to the wooden houses that stand against the backdrop of a cosy cove with a panoramic view of the entire Colva-Cavelossim coastline. Its a moment you will cherish definitely. The reception area itself is very pretty, tastefully done ethnic decor, paintings of 'velhe' (old) Goa by the famous cartoonist  on sale, large glass windows all around letting in the fresh air from the sea, orchids entangled in the wooden steps leading to the cottages. There was a freshness to everything around.

We completed the necessary formalities at the frontdesk. They asked for our identity proofs which was a good thing. The lady at the reception was a sharp contrast to Mr. Riyaz and was not at all handy with any information. Everything we asked with too much enthu to know about the place was replied with a "dont know" look. So we simply stopped asking her. Riyaz had provided his phone number and could be contacted anytime we needed anything.

View from Restaurant


The Cottage...
 The resort no doubt has an earthy feel to it, but not enough to match the marks of Wildernest. Here you see nature but it feels manicured and not natural, which is a big minus for a resort claiming to be built around nature.  A bit of disappointment for us, as our mind was constantly comparing it with Wildernest. Warm colours, old Goanese sculptures, wooden cottages tucked inside shrubs, stone walkways impart it a shabby-chic look and feel.


Every cottage had its own seating area. We were given a cottage whose sit out area view of the sea was blocked by thick shrubs all around. Also it was a bit far away from the reception area. So we asked for a cottage which was near to the pool area with an unrestricted view of the sea face. There was hardly any occupancy in the resort so we thought we would easily get a different cottage. And we did. We got Cottage number 17. 16-19 numbered cottages are the ones with best view of the sea and near to the pool. The room interiors had the same warm of earthy colors with all the modern amenities like an LCD tv, minifridge, water heater, bathtub were there. I loved the corner table, the intrinsic carvings on it was totally awesome. Also the delicate white curtain on the wooden doors reminded me of some colonial time decor I have seen in films. A clever mix of modern facilities and old world charm.




The patio had fans and lounge chairs and overlooked the mesmerizing view of the Arabian Sea. This was a perfect sunset point as well. All that we needed was a chilled glass of Mojito and we could spend the entire day lounging there itself.

By the way wherever we go we make some animal friends, this place was no different. There were a few dogs running about the property. I had some biscuits and offered it to one of them. Little did I know that he would become a regular at our cottage :)

Activities...

We had planned to take a quick nap and then freshen up. But the devastating news of the Uttarakhand floods had us hooked to the television. It was pretty bad and scary from the initial pictures that came. The rains were pretty heavy this year throughout the country. As we were watching the news a heavy downpour started and we watched the landscape being bathed in the morning showers. We then saw the movie Udaan for sometime before we went for a bath and freshened up.

Restaurant
We had meanwhile called the frontdesk to arrange a bike for us. The lady seemed clueless as usual so we called Riyaz who assured us to take care of it. After this there were a couple of calls bothways to decide on which bike to rent. My husband preferred a Honda or Hero make but the person had Bajaj only. Finally  we reluctantly decided on CD-Delux. My husband had a long face as he was expecting an R15 or any other sports bike. But at least something was better than nothing.

We went for breakfast to the restaurant after freshening up. The restaurant area looked deserted with only a single person waiting to take order. Not much variety available. So we ordered toasted bread, omelet and coffee. The restaurant area reminded me of Florida hotels, especially the woody feel to the hanging decor. Loved them. While the food was being prepared we roamed around the area. There was a couple of sculptures here and there of fishermen selling fish, some hens and other birds. We saw two kittens playing around.
Whether the resort has any visitors or not the number of staffs tending to the resort was really eye catching. Everywhere we saw cleaning staffs moving around.



After breakfast we walked to the reception area. The bike was supposed to be delivered there. When we reached the reception area there was no bike. We called up the person who said he will be there shortly. that shortly was definitely not short. After almost 45 minutes when there wasn't any sign of the bike we called again. This time the man came with the bike but forgot to bring the helmet. So then my husband went with him to get the helmet. Again a long wait for me. His shop was a KM away but when my husband didnt return even in half an hour I was worried. When he finally came, there was another story regarding choosing helmets. Seems like the helmets were in such bad condition that one had worm infestation in it which only was detected when my husband had put it on! He said that he was afraid that there were still worms crawling on his body. After a thorough scan of worms he finally put on the helmet and we started out for Bogmallo Beach - our first destination in Goa.

Bogmalo Beach...

 It is situated in a small bay with around a mile of curving sandy beach which is generally very quiet. On one side is the 5 star Bogmalo Beach resort. The beach is  lined with small shops of artifacts and shacks offering tasty local food. The beach looked deserted except a couple of men and lifeguards. We liked the beach for its peaceful surroundings and huge waves. The waves crashing on the rock at a distance was a enjoyable watch. We walked the length of the beach and took a few snaps. Fortunately the sun wasn't very sharp and there was a light drizzle. It was high tide time and the lifeguards were re-arranging the the flags which marked the limit till which one should venture at the beach.

It was already lunch time and we were very hungry, the paltry breakfast didnt hold for long.I had read reviews previously about which was a good food shack and Bogmalo and zeroed in on Full Moon restaurant. Though the restaurant was also deserted I decided to bank on the positive reviews about this place. We were here for seafood and when we looked at the right hand side of the menu our mind went on a overdrive on what to order. The prices were totally dirt cheap considering the amount and quality of food. We ordered some fish fries, buttered prawn starter, a crab meal for me and a kingfish meal for my husband.

As we waited for our lunch to arrive, we enjoyed the balmy sea breeze on a humid afternoon. Soon a H-U-G-E dog arrived on the premises. It royally walked into the shack and went to the farthest corner and lied down. When I say huge it means pretty huge, never seen such a big dog, seemed like a cross breed and it was panting like crazy. It was no doubt the restaurant owners dog. We felt sorry for the chap, with its Eskimo like fur how did it survive in this humid weather was a big question. Seemed like the frequent visitors to this shack were well acquainted with the dog. We saw framed pictures of the dog in its younger days with some Hollywood actor whose name I failed to recall.

Our food arrived pretty soon and I cannot even explain how good the fare was. The fried fish had the right kind of bite to it, the butter prawns were delectable and the crab curry was something to die for - The size was huge and yet the juices of the gravy had totally melted into the meat inside. They charged Rs. 180 only for the crab meal which is unimaginable in Pune. The Kingfish curry tasted equally royale and we decided to have lunch everyday at this shack. The heart desired more of this mouthwatering fare but we were filled to the brim so we decided to leave.

Crab Curry & Kingfish Curry

We came back to the resort for a quick post lunch nap and decided to do the near by other beaches in the evening.

Other beaches nearby...

We had planned to visit nearby beaches that day. We took the NH 17B and drove along it hoping to come across any interesting beach. We knew about Hollant which was pretty near to Bogmalo but decided to visit it while returning.

 NH 17B takes you further down to North Goa. We decided to ride along till we felt like. The ride was quite smooth,Arabian Sea was following us on the side. We rode for about 1 hour in the forward direction and saw the arrow which indicated Majorda Beach. We travelled along the indicated road but even after 10 minutes when we didnt come across any beach we started asking the locals regarding the distance, which they said was another 7 kms nearly. Dusk was already setting so we decided not to proceed as the road to the beach was very lonely and dense foliage on either sides. Afterall its better to be safe than sorry in Goa.

We went to Hollant beach on our way back. Just like other beaches in South Goa this one also is a rocky beach.It occupies the coastal strip of a small but deeply etched into the land Arabian Sea bay, and the South Goa coastline contouring in this place the form of a right angle.It is thus both a sunrise and sunset point and attracts crowds. We saw many people fishing with their fishing rods. We also saw fishermen rounding off their catch in the sea.A vast esplanade divides the coast into two parts: the western part is called Issorcim. A picturesque road among the lush tropical plants leads to the beach. We walked to the tip of the beach which had a small cross built. Two local guys were preparing the bait. They climbed down the steep stones and into the sea to catch fish. We thought of enjoying the view for couple of minutes more but soon a rowdy maharashtrian gang of boys infiltrated the area and both of us went back from the place.

Back to the resort...

We came back to the resort and then went to the beachfront of the resort. One has to cross the fishing village to reach the rocky beach. The Santarem cove is beautiful really. I liked it more because of its rocky facet. The air was also much cooler than the usual balmy breeze near the sea. The patch is totally rocky with a hint of sand here and there. We saw a few families playing in the water far away, one or two fishermen catching fish, a group of boys on a flat rocky patch enjoying the crashing waves and a boat of fishermen venturing into the sea. We walked leisurely across the beach to where the families were bathing. It was a long walk. The sandy areas of the beach had accumulation of shells brought by the waves. There were shells of all sizes, shapes and colours which brought the child inside my husband and he began to examine them with the glee of a 6 year old. The high tide was soon approaching and the size of the waves became huge. The resort lights started to come up in ones and twos making the area look magical, seemed like fireflies have lit the area. The restaurant area had bright festoons which gave a festive look. We kept on walking and enjoying the ambience. The family had started to return by the time we reached there. It was a patch of flat rock where the waves were crashing with a thunder. We would go to the edge of the rocks and as soon as a big wave approached move back and watch it crash. Occasionally a wave would catch us surprisingly and drench us. There were crabs all around these rocks which were rock colored which helped them camouflage with ease. It was very difficult to spot them on the rocks and only when something wiggled we could understand it was a crab.

Hollant Beach


There were holes inside some rocks wherein small fishes and sea animals would be caught brought in by the waves. Sometimes they would be again washed to the sea by the waves or stayed there to die till water drains. We saw some of them and threw them back into sea.

As it was getting dark we decided to return to the cottage. It had been a long day and we have had quite a bit of excitement.

The dinner... 

It was almost dinner time and we were really hungry after all this running around the rocks. We decided to have food in the cozy room than go out, so we asked for the menu card to be given in the room. Soon heavy rains started. Lucky for us the whole day was dry.
The Menu Card of Stone Water Resort

Serradura
We had a Rs. 1000 meal voucher per day or two. We had to mix and match fish and chicken items because the price was sky rocketing. We also ordered Serra Dura a Portuguese specialty dessert. The meal portions were miniscule compared to the prices and it barely satiated our hunger. Moreover the prices mentioned in the menu was not inclusive of tax and VAT so the bill came to some 1141, we had to pay anything above the voucher amount. They also charged us for the water, and only mineral water was available in the resort; normal water was not provided.

The saving grace was the dessert. It was a very easy dish made out of a layer of Milkmaid and a layer of crumbled marie biscuit. Husband loved it while I felt it was okayish.

We were pretty tired by the end of dinner. So we called it a day and soon felt asleep.

To be Continued...

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Apple Halwa (Apple Pudding)

Neither me nor my better half is fond of fruits. The only difference is I do not visit the fruit section of any food mart because I know I am not going to eat them but my better half exactly does the opposite. He picks up whatever catches his fancy in the fruit section convincing me that he will eat them but I know that those are eventually going into the garbage bin after languishing in the fridge for a fortnight.

So this time when he got a bunch of apples from the food mart I decided to do something better with at least half of them. The rest was left as it is so that if he feels an urge to have them within a fortnight he may.

The apples looked quite juicy and though I am not fond of apples I found them quite inviting. I had one and they were one of the best i must admit. Buts that's it, I did not crave for the rest of them. Almost all fruits which you don't want to eat as it is can be turned into a delectable halwa (a thick consistency pudding ) which is relished by all. I decided to do the same with the remaining apples.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes 

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Serves:2


Cuisine: Indian

Ingredients:

  •  Apple- 2 Medium
  • Kismis (Raisin) - 1/4 cup
  • Almonds- 1/2cup
  • Ghee (clarified butter)- 1/4 cup
  • Sugar - 1/2 cup (or according to taste)
  • Green Cardamom - 2
  • Cinnamon Stick - 2 " piece
  • Buffalo Milk - 500 gm
Procedure:
1. Peel the apples and then grate them finely

You can cut the apples and then grind them to a fine pulp in a mixer if you don't like a crunch in your halwa. But I prefer to grate it so that I can preserve the bite in it.

  

2. Grate the almonds and keep aside


3. Heat Ghee in a thick bottomed pan, when fragrant add cinnamon stick and green cardamom.

4. Add the grated apples and kismis  and fry on medium heat till all the water evaporated and the apple is reduced to a thick mash.

5.Add the sugar (sugar should be equal to the amount of reduced apple) and fold into the apple mash

6. Add 3/4 of the grated almonds and cook for 2-3 minutes

7. Gradually add half the milk into the pan and keep on stirring. Cook for 3-4 minutes till the milk is reduced and sticks to the halwa. (You can also use Khoya instead of milk. Some people also prefer to use Milkmaid.)


8. Adthe rest of the milk and repeat the above step.

9. Stir and cook on low heat till the halwa gets the desired consistency.  

10. Add a spoon of Ghee and switch off the flame.

The apple halwa will take a light brown color finally. If you feel this is not good enough then you can choose to add 1/4th spoon of yellow/orange food color while frying the grated apples.

Garnish with the rest of the almonds and serve hot or at room temperature.

You can also add chashew nuts as a garnish to make it richer.


Some people prefer to cool down the halwa and then cut it into Barfis.  It's your take whatever suits you best.


Sending this recipe to Priya's and Spicy Treat's "Diwali Delicacy" event.



Monday, 9 September 2013

Kumro Shaker Chorchori (Vegetable medley with Pumpkin leaves)


First of all Happy Ganesh Chaturthi to all my readers!


It's a holiday for me and working for my husband so it had be relaxed day. The community hall of our society is being prepped up for the pujas. In almost all Marathi homes Ganesh puja is arranged just Laxmi puja is arranged in almost all Bengali household.

A holiday is meant to be enjoyed, so I had thought that my lunch would consist of "Seddho Bhat" (boiled vegetables with rice and a dash of Ghee) which is one of my favorite also. Which means spending hardly 10 minutes in the kitchen in the whole day. So far so good.

After my hubby left for office in the morning I went down to get milk and bread from the market. While coming back just round the serpentine bend of our society we have a green patch where plants grow untended.Among them I had noticed a Pumpkin plant growing. The Marathis dot seem to have a weakness for those but a true Bengali like me can never ignore such a delectable Pumpkin creeper when she sees one. Especially in this part of the country you can never get "Kumro Shak" (Pumpkin leaf) readily at the vegetable mart. This particular creeper had been growing for almost two months (from the time we moved here) and from then on I had an eye for it. The bright yellow blossoms on it occasionally would leave me craving for "Kumro fuler bora" (pumpkin blossom fritters) and I had to literally fight with my goodwill not to go and pick them. It would not have been such an easy task to resist the temptation had the creeper been any close to the serpentine road. But it was almost like 7-8 feet away from the road and had dense wild shrubs growing all around it. There was no guarantee of me being able to pick the flowers or the leaves without  getting bitten by a snake or any other wild insects. Also I thought if anyone from my society would see me rummaging among the wild shrubs they would definitely think I had gone bananas.


But today while coming home I noticed that the creepers had grown quite a lot due to the rains in the past 2-3 days and was almost a feet away from the road. The creeper was looking much more luscious today and it was too hard to resist anymore. I looked around to make sure no one was noticing me before I jumped in and quickly tore away a few of the tender leaves from the stem. With the finesse of a seasoned criminal, the crime was neatly committed in a matter of seconds and I was out of the shrubs putting up a nonchalant face as if nothing had happened.

I raced home and only after bolting the door of my apartment did I flash a triumphant smile. :)

I had all the other ingredients required and hence immediately got down to make "Kumro shaker chorchori" (Vegetable  medley with Pumpkin leaves)

Preparation Time: 10 minutes 

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Serves:2


Cuisine:Bengali (Family recipe)
 
Ingredients:
  • Kumro Shak (Pumpkin leaves) - 6 big
  • Pumpkin -200 gm
  • Small Brinjal - 2 Medium
  • Carrot -1 medium
  • Potato - 1 medium
  • Panch Foron (5 spice mix) - 1 tsp
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Mustard Powder/Mustard paste - 1tsp
  • Kashundi (pungent mustard sauce) - 1 tsp (Optional)
  • Ginger - 2 inch (grated)
  • Bay Leaf - 2
  •  Dry Red Chilli - 2
  • Turmeric powder - 2 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Mustard Oil 
Procedure:

1.    Clean the shak and cut them finely


 2. Dice all the other vegetables into same size 


3. Grind the mustard seeds coarsely with a mortar Pestle

4. Soak the Mustard powder (I used Sunrise Mustard powder) in 1 tsp of water. Else make a paste of 1 tsp mustard seeds


5. Take mustard oil in a wok and heat it. When the oil is fragrant toss in all the vegetables except the shak. Saute for 2-3 minutes and transfer them to a pressure cooker. Add the shak. Sprinkle 1/2 spoon of turmeric. Add almost 2 cup of water and let it cook till one whistle.


6. When the first whistle comes, switch off the gas and put the cooker under cold running water. The pressure will get released and you would be able to open the cooker immediately. This way the color of the green shak would  preserved.
Drain the vegetable stock into a bowl separately and keep aside.

7. Heat Mustard oil in a wok and toss in the 5 foron, ground mustard seeds, Bay leaf and dried red chilli. 

8. When the spices are fragrant add the mustard paste. Mix well.

9. Add all the boiled vegetables and stir fry them. Add the vegetable stock as required to keep the consistency moist. 

10. When the vegetables are almost cooked, add grated ginger and kashundi. Cook for 3-4 minutes.

11. Before removing from the flame sprinkle a spoon of mustard oil for a strong flavour.


Serve with steam rice and Kolai daal.



Sending this to Cooking 4 all Seasons' "Side Dish Mela" event and Pari & Jiya's "Only Traditional Recipe".



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