Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Beehive up-close

Maybe some of you have seen a beehive up-close with the bees on it, but I've never dared to. Well, this is amazing, but an enormous bee-hive has formed outside our office window. We thought of taking it down, but it was so beautifully natural, that we just couldn't get ourselves to destroy it. Here are some photos of the beehive.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Travel Log: Maldives

Here's a photo log of eating and holidaying in the Maldives :)

Probably the best thin-crust pizza Margherita on the planet!

And it went so well with the Guinness

The same chef whipped up this pasta with cream sauce and a hint of truffle which was unbelievably good

At their Maldivian-Indian restaurant, we had papads with fig chutney. The chutney grows on you - the first time I tasted it, I wasn't impressed, but by the end of the meal, I was scooping it up

And that was followed by an unusual salad of tandoori vegetables in a cream-yogurt sauce

As we lazed by the pool, we ordered many things. One was a bowl of Japanese noodle soup, and then some fantastic sushi and finally a basic mozzarella and greens sandwich...tasted even better after a long swim and with the waves in the background!

And then a romantic dinner: we started off with a bread basket. The basket was so lovely and I enjoyed the wine...

My salad was hearts of palm, cherry tomatoes, greens and avocado. I don't much care for avocado but the rest was scrumptious. I was half-way through it before I remembered to photograph it!

My main meal was Thai Green Curry Vegetable, stir-fried vegetables and Jasmine Rice. I couldn't photograph that well at all. The stir-fried veggies had a nice touch of some carved carrots in the shape of crabs! It was a delightful touch since we had crabs crawling around our feet the whole time! But my husband wasn't complaining when he got his clams and lobster.

The dessert was truly decadent. I had chocolate cake. My husband had tiramisu. Nothing could have tasted better! Especially sitting on the beach a few feet from the waves.

Sipping cocktails, snorkeling, swimming, lying by the beach, eating and really not having any agenda at all...that was a perfect holiday!

*sigh* I recommend the Maldives to everyone wanting a lovely break. Just an hour's flight from Bangalore city, or 1/2 hour from Trivandrum airport, the Maldives is a perfect weekend break.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Indian Airlines

We were booked on an international Indian Airlines flight...or rather, Indian (the name they now go by). Well, the service was very good, the flight was clean and new, and the food was very good! Surprised? So was I. I hadn't flown Indian in years, now that there are so many better choices out there. But I was quite proud that Indian was still going strong and actually a pretty enjoyable experience. And let me tell you, I was expecting the worst!

The meal they served was an afternoon snack. There was a choice of tomato, egg, chicken or vegetable sandwiches, salad and a chocolate brownie. The sandwiches were great but what was really nice was the salad. It was a healthy moong dal, tomatoes and chaat masala. The flavors were very surprising. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. Hurrah for Indian!


After my favorite restaurant, Patio, closed down, my friend and I tried desperately to find an alternative place to have our leisurely lunches. And then, only because we had tried every place else, we decided to give Peshawri a shot. We hadn't been there in years and vaguely remembered the food as being pretty good. Well, we were very pleasantly surprised - the food was excellent.

They serve appetizers of fried papads topped with chopped tomatoes, onions and chaat masala that is just what you need to nibble while waiting for the food. The ambience has stayed exactly the same. The very same wooden menu cards, and chairs and tables that look like they are just polished tree trunks! They even have little cloth "bibs" for everyone instead of napkins. Forks and spoons are available on request, but people are encouraged to use their hands to eat. And let me tell you, its way easier when you are scooping up that last bit of dal with the roti!

We ordered paneer tikkas, seekh kababs, romali rotis and dal makhani. Everything was super. We ate up every last morsel, while drinking some chilled chaas and jal jeera. And we even licked our fingers shamelessly!

Real Juices

I've recently discovered Real brand of juices - conveniently available in tetrapaks. They come in wonderful flavors of Guava, Mango, Mixed Fruit, Apple, Orange and my favorite - Mausambi (sweet lime juice). Its "real"ly tasty!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Random Facts

I have been tagged by Raaga to post 8 random facts about myself...hmmm...it got me thinking. What would seem random in my life?? Anyways, without too much thought, here it is:

1. I am passionate about horses and dogs - no, I don't own either
2. I love to cook and am passionate about food photography
3. I once had my house burn down to the ground while I was a student. Lost everything including all my papers, computer...everything. The fire was so bad that a two-storey town home was converted into one big room with no ceiling! Even the refrigerator burnt down to nothing. Needless to say, I started over and in the middle of my final exams.
4. I have a freakish tendency to fracture my bones. I have broken my ribs, arms, ankles, pelvic bone, fingers, spinal cord and toe!
5. I have swum with dolphins, sharks and even a barracuda!
6. I maintained a personal diary (yes, the Dear Diary kind) for 17 years.
7. I love to laugh - the people who make me laugh are my husband, my daughter and Jay Leno.
8. I love learning languages but am no good at speaking them. I have learnt Russian, Sanskrit, Japanese, Spanish, German and Tamil. But I can only speak Tamil fluently. But I still try.

and here's the list of the chosen 8 who shall continue the chain:

Manisha - Indian Food Rocks

Nandita - Saffron Trail

Saffron - Saffron Hut

Meena - Hooked on Heat

Mark - Banker in India

Nupur - One Hot Stove

Sia - Spice Corner

Bee - Jugalbandi

There are rules too

* Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
* People who are tagged, write a blog post about their own 8 random things, and post these rules.
* At the end of your post you need to tag 8 people and include their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment and tell them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
* If you fail to do this within eight hours, you will not reach Third Series or attain your most precious goals for at least two more lifetimes.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hip Hip Asia

We've been to Hip Asia at the Taj Connemara several times, but last night was the first time we absolutely loved the food. Either the chef has changed or he has started to make stuff that he's comfortable with. The menu has changed and the lovely ambience stays the same. They specialize in most parts of Asian cuisine with parts of their menu devoted to Vietnamese, Malay and Thai food and a separate menu with Teppenyaki specials.

We ordered appetizers recommended by our waiter, who was spot on! He suggested the Lotus Stem Honey Chilli for the vegetarians (ie. me!) which was superb. It was spicy and sweet and crunchy and my phone's camera just doesn't do it justice. It looked orange and red and lovely. We also got some fish and chilli chicken which was much appreciated. I ordered the veitnamese rice paper rolls filled with crunchy vermecelli and vegetables that was also very good.

For our entrees we had teppenyaki fried rice with vegetables and garlic that I always order, and as expected, it was delicious. They are served in small bowls that are meant to be individual portions, but are quite enough for two people. We also ordered some shrimp that my dining companions were left scraping up the sauce.

We were absolutely too stuffed for dessert, but definitely tempted when they rolled out the dessert cart with lots of chocolate stuff that looked delicious. Next time...

Hip Asia
Taj Connemara
Binny Road
Chennai - 600 002
Tel : (91-44) 6600 0000

Monday, June 11, 2007

Chennai Nightlife!

We went for Ocean's 13 last night (it was great, btw - the little dig that Clooney makes at Pitt in the last line was hilarious!).

Anyways, we watched it at the INOX cinemas in the Citicenter. The show started at 10.15pm. We arrived there 10 pm Sunday night to find the Citicenter teeming with people! On a Sunday night - at 10 pm! Chennai has come a long long way! It was filled with people eating, shopping and chatting!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Helmet Law...Well, Almost!

There were almost 600 two-wheeler accidents in Chennai in 2006, according to Chennai traffic police. The Government then issued an order making it mandatory for all two-wheeler riders and their passengers to wear helmets while riding, effective June 1, 2007. So there was Chennai taking a step in the right direction. We finally realized that there were too many deaths caused due to riders not wearing helmets when using their motorcycles.

It was scary to see couples with two kids on a motorbike. One would be scrunched between the parents and the other would either be held by the woman at the back or stand right in front.

People have used all the excuses in the book for not wearing a helmet - some of the more common ones are that it is too hot (especially in chennai), hair-loss (yes, some people actually believe that wearing a helmet caused them to lose hair), neck pain, ear pain, inability to see clearly etc. No one seemed to compare those to losing their lives! Then when the order came from the Government, everyone complained that the helmets were too expensive. I guess they'd rather spend the lakhs in hospital costs for injury than Rs. 1000 for a helmet!

June 1 saw all riders on the road wearing a helmet. It was truly satisfying to see. Finally, people were taking a right step. And then TWO days later, the Government has withdrawn the order making it optional and not mandatory!! Unbelievable. Now, its back to no helmets. Even people who have already bought the helmets aren't using them!

This is a classic Indian case of taking one step forward and two steps back.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Scott Bayman

Scott Bayman (President and CEO, GE India) describes what he feels for India after having lived in India for 14 years.

He talks about changes he has seen in the nation and his point of view of India as one of the major players on the global front (politically and economically). He offers profound insights into present-day and future India.

Here is his bio.

photo courtesy GE website.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Andy Wickett

Whom, you may ask, is Andy Wickett? Well, he's an animation specialist. He was also one of the guitarists in Duran Duran. Now, Duran Duran was by far my most favorite music group growing up (well, Duran Duran and the Doors). I knew all their names, their lives and read everything and listened to everything about them and by them. I loved Duran Duran. I still love their music - especially their early stuff like Hungry Like The Wolf and Wild Boys and Planet Earth. I knew all the words and I could even reel off the ir inspiration for each song!

Andy was definitely not the most well-known of the group, taking a back seat to Simon Le Bon (the lead singer) and John Taylor (the other guitarist). Anyhoo, Andy was in Chennai recently to do two solo performances at the Park hotel. Of course, I figured it was gonna be an evening of Duran Duran nostalgia and so I quickly purchased tickets.

The ambience was lovely - at Aqua, by the poolside. The food was super and there was so much that we were quite stuffed. We had a cabana all to ourselves, where we could recline on the cushions. I was all set to listen to old memories. Well, Andy didn't play or sing a SINGLE song from Duran Duran. He also didn't play or sing a SINGLE song I'd heard before. I think it was mostly his own creations.

The poor chap was sweating from the heat, singing to a crowd that was extremely disappointed there was nothing familiar, in between drinking swigs of Kingfisher beer and smoking his "last cigarette" (in his words). He must've played for about an hour. And it was over. Sigh. Very very disappointing. I had to come home and listen to an old CD of Duran Duran because I had been so looking forward to it!

A very nice evening otherwise - the ambience, company, food - except for the music and of course, the ever-present heat. Well, Andy, I wish you lots of luck in your animation career.


Despite the name, Satsanga is a great little French bistro in Pondicherry. We ventured out there for lunch today (its an easy 2 hour drive along the ECR from Chennai).

The cafe boasts French and Italian food. We stuck to the French. We ordered a mushroom and spinach crepe, some roasted vegetables, chicken in a cream sauce and a chocolate crepe for dessert. The savory crepe was superb - it has been a long time since I had a good crepe after moving back to Chennai, and this was very good. The roasted vegetables were nice but nothing to write home about. My husband loved the chicken and the dessert crepe.

All in all, a very satisfying meal. The staff were pleasant and it was just great to be able to have a cold glass of Foster's at non-five star establishment and really hit the spot this warm afternoon.

13, Bussy Street
Near Law College
Pondicherry Town
Phone: +91-413-224572

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Noodle House

Noodle House, a part of Mahadevan's enormous range of restaurants (which include Benjarong and Ente Keralam), is located at the end of Nungambakkam High Road. I love love love noodles. Especially spicy and sauteed with crisp vegetables. I used to enjoy "american chopsuey" with crispy noodles and those sweet and sour sauces. Given the health kick, I've stopped eating that, but still cant completely ever stop eating noodles.

The menu and photographs on the wall sound and look better than the actual food. We ordered steamed chicken dumplings and egg rolls. The dumplings were very well received. I wanted to get some spicy stir-fried vegetables without ANY sauce, but it appeared with sauce. I somehow have not been able to ever get vegetables without sauce. I try really hard too. I guess they just don't understand how someone won't like sauce!

My dining companions got some shrimp which they almost breathed in because they liked it so much. The taste of the noodles was very good - it was recommended by the waiter - a steamed noodles with a spicy vegetable sauce - think american chopsuey with steamed instead of crispy noodles. Very nice.

The highlight for me was the chef standing in the corner making noodles. That was very cool to watch!

The Noodle House, Sterling Road, 044-43596043 for reservations.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Finally, finally, finally there's a place to take my daughter to play - indoors, airconditioned (essential sometimes in this 110 F weather!), spacious, clean and interesting!

Baby's Day Out opened up about 3 weeks ago in Chennai and I cannot recommend it enough. Its run by a company CEO Vimal Chordia, who has just come back from the US. Baby's day out has a trampoline, a ball pit, a library and reading area, musical instruments, desks and papers and pens to draw and sketch, an audiovisual room with a large collection of children's DVDs and even a snack counter with kiddie-friendly meals.

Its open for kids under 12 years old. There's a one-time registration fee of Rs. 250 and Rs. 200 for every hour and a half for subsequent visits. It is located on Chamiers Road at the intersection of Greenways Road and spread over 4,200 sq. feet.

For all those parents out there, this is something worth checking and has been worth waiting for!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

My Food Blog

I've been collecting recipes for years, as I'm sure so many others do. I keep them on scraps of paper and live in fear that I'll lose them - but I have never managed to find the time to copy them into a book. These are sacred recipes that are difficult to obtain if I do lose them!

So I've decided to put them into a blog and share it with all of you. These are all recipes that are tried, tested and true. I've tweaked them here and there to cater to my taste, but most of it is the original as told to me by different people.

I'm trying to be proactive and make one recipe everyday so I can post regularly as well as hone my food photography - though the photography part is quite amateurish! :)

Please enjoy, foodies! and give me feedback. Here's my food blog.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Tic Tac

Here are the words to the song that I wrote about in my previous post, Weirdness. I actually enjoyed the song and the words - makes a lot of sense!

Little boxes on the hillside
Little boxes made of tickie tackie
Little boxes on the hillside
Little boxes all the same

There’s a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they’re all made of tickie tackie
And they all look just the same

And the people in the houses
All went to the university
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out just the same

And there’s doctors and lawyers
And business executives
And they’re all made of tickie tackie
And they all look just the same

So what do you think? I don't know who wrote the song but full credit to them...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Ente Keralam

After waiting breathlessly (my husband literally checked on its progress every week!), Ente Keralam finally opened a couple of weeks ago. Translated into English, Ente Keralam means My Kerala. The restaurant, located just off Kasturi Rangan Road, in the old La Madeline building is a stone's throw away from our home! Uh oh!

We finally inaugurated the restaurant last night. The ambience is very nice - the place has been renovated to be a very chic and modern establishment. As the owner, Liz, once told me, Kerala food isn't very well-known among the non-Keralites, and Ente Keralam is hoping to change that. And I think they might very well succeed.

We ordered a whole range of different food. My husband literally wanted to try everything on the menu! The authentic flaky parottas, melt-in-your-mouth okra, spiced just right kadala (garbanzos) were all great. Thats the vegetarian bit that I can vouch for. My husband got mutton curry and syrian fried beef which he said was borderline superb. Thats a high compliment from him - he's very picky about his meat.

I would slot the restaurant in the Syrian Christian-type food category with a few choice samples from Nair Kerala food. It's a must-do place.

It is located at 1, Kasturi Estate, Kasturi Rangan Road, Chennai- 18. For reservations, call 42328585.