My favorite photos of me and my <3

My favorite photos of me definitely mean the photos that I’m looking good :-). Not always. Sometimes I just love some pictures if the background is good and if it’s candid(conditions apply- I have to look good in that).

near rockefellar centre
Rockefeller centre

This was taken when we went to the see the large Christmas tree placed annually in Rockefeller Center. It was worth one time. But not again 😛

maryland
A farmhouse in Maryland

AHH….. I love the scenery of this place. Waking up to the view of a meadow in the backyard with horses was a dream come true. Except for the dust which was probably there in the house till we came 🙂

Srilankan Restaurant

How can I not post a picture of my husband without a Restaurant in it.

Washington dc

The only thing I remember when we went there was, it was freaking cold.

Philadelphia

Most memorable days. WALKING THROUGH THE RAIN. It was slightly raining when we reach there. But it was perfect for me. I love rain. Drinking coffee, watching rain. It was so good.

Pennsylvania

Autumn colors at its best <3. Thanks to my favorite photographer(Ashi)

Korean Vegetable Japchae(Noodles stir fried with vegetables)

Finally, I got a chance to make this colorful dish which is originally from Korea. I’m a great fan of  Korean drama’s, the reason because is quite obvious for me. I like different cultures. By watching these I will get a sneak peak of all that is going around there. What they are wearing, what food they are eating, How they are traveling etc. Because of these drama’s, I become a great admirer of their cuisine too.

japchae
Vegetable japchae

I started searching in youtube for the Korean recipes to make at home. There were a lot. I like Japchae among all because it’s colorful, tasty. It’s not a very easy thing to make. But the effort is worth everything. Japchae is usually made with beef. I’m not using beef and I’m replacing that with portabello mushrooms. It tastes exactly the same.

The carrots should be thin like matchsticks. Since I’m not a cutting expert, it took a long time to complete everything.

Marinated Portabello mushrooms
Blanched spinach

Vegetable Japchae

Ingredients(serves 4):

6-7 portobello mushrooms

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons sugar

2 tbsp plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce

2 tbsp sesame oil plus 1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

1 egg yolk

4 ounces spinach, washed and drained

4 ounces of sweet potato starch noodles

2 to 3 green onions

1 medium white onion

Half cup enoki mushrooms or white mushrooms

1 medium carrot

ground black pepper- As needed

salt- As needed

vegetable oil- 2 tbsp

Method:

Marinate the portobello mushrooms with 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp sesame oil, pepper powder, salt, garlic, 1 tsp sugar. Set aside.

Blanch the spinach and squeeze out excess water. Season it with soy sauce, sesame oil as needed.

Prepare the noodles by adding it to the boiling water for 5 minutes. Wash it with the cold water to stop the cooking.Season it with 1 tsp soy sauce and 1 tsp sesame oil.

Cut the carrots, green onion, and white onion lengthwise.

Heat the skillet. Add the onion and green onion till onion is translucent. Add a little bit of salt. Add it to the cooked noodles.

In the heated skillet, add the enoki mushrooms with a bit of salt and saute till its done and add it to the noodles.

Add the carrots to the skillet. Saute till its cooked and add it to the noodles.

Put the marinated mushrooms into the skillet and saute till it’s done and add it to the noodles.

Finally, Add the seasoned spinach and egg yolk Omelette(cut lengthwise) into the noodles and mix everything well by adding remaining soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, sugar, garlic and toasted sesame seeds.

Ps-Enjoy it with Kimchi(optional)

My favorite Fiction Books|Notes And Thoughts

My favorite place in the entire planet would be a book shop. Even if I’m not buying anything, I love to roam inside each and every corner. I love the smell of new books and it’s always addicting.

As a part of my new year resolution, I’m not buying any new books this year. Because I have collected enough books last year I don’t have much space to store it. It’s always hard to throw away books. I won’t do that except donating books.

Eat Pray Love
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Among my entire book collection, there are few books that will always be so close to my heart. Because it’s my favorite, that doesn’t mean it has to be everyone’s favorite. Each and every one in this planet has their own interests and likes and I respect that.

White tiger by Aravind Adiga. I was so hesitant to read this book. When I started it, it was finished unknowingly. It was first published in 2008 and won the 40th Man Booker Prize in the same year.

And there were none by Agatha Christie. It’s a mystery novel. While reading this I felt like I was in the story. I was with the characters. I was terrified when I read the climax. It’s such a great book and considered as one of her masterpiece work.

M.T Vasudevan Nair is one of my favorite novelists. He is a prolific and versatile writer in modern Malayalam literature. Thanks to my mother who had a huge collection of his writings. Few of my favorites are Nalukettu, Asuravithu and Iruttinte Athmavu.

S.K Pottekadu(S. K. Pottekkatt, is a famous Malayalam writer from Kerala state, South India), the man who gave me the passion for traveling. I have traveled to Finland many times through his book(Paathira Sooryante Naatil). I have been to Bali many times through his book(Balidweep), it’s beautiful 🙂

PS- If I’m going to explain all of my favorite books and authors, this will be a never ending blog. So it’s better to end before getting bored.

A day out in Central Park,New York City|Notes and thoughts

The weather was so good that I couldn’t resist myself going back into nature rather than sitting on the couch for the whole day. We started a bit early at about 11.30 a.m, that’s a lot early for us. The destination was the central park, it’s my third time and never got bored of this place. Expectedly the park was so full because of this perfect weather.

central park
Central Park

We spend almost 1-2 hours there. It’s still an amusement to me that this luscious green park (now there is not a single greenery, because of the winter season) with almost 843 acres situated in the middle of this huge megapolis.

Cleopatra's Needle
Cleopatra’s Needle

 

King Jagiello Monument
King Jagiello Monument

The park was so lively. I can sit there for the whole day watching these wonderful peoples around me. But I have to consider my poor husband too who will easily get bored if he didn’t get anything to eat in a gap of 1 hour. Remember we just had our breakfast at 10 a.m before starting from home 😛 . There was a band show going on, someone was playing the flute but above all, I was so fascinated with this puppet show.

 

puppet show in central park
Puppet show

We couldn’t even cover a small portion of the central park because it’s so big. We were hungry. Found this hotel, Han dynasty in 85th street, which is a Chinese restaurant. The place was spacious. The lighting was just like any other Chinese restaurant which will be dark and everyone sitting in the place will have a halo because of the lighting. Even I had one. Apart from all these the food was really good especially the chilly oil :-). Somebody out there please help me to transform me into a vegetarian. From tomorrow onwards no more nog-vegetarian dishes, I swear(wink, wink).

Rice noodles
Han dynasty Restaurant

A post valentine’s day celebration|Notes and Thoughts

The truth is till today we(me and my husband) never thought of this day. We just realize it’s valentine’s day because there will be some kind of valentine movie and more to say the shops will be full in red theme. Red flowers, red colored gift wraps and paper red hearts hanging everywhere in coffee shops. I’m a kind of person that wants to celebrate for each and every moment. Life is so short so enjoy, celebrate.

This year I woke up and decided that, okay I’m going to celebrate valentine’s day without my valentine cool right?yes, my sweetheart went for a conference and he will only return by Feb 14 night. So this year I changed my valentine day to Feb 15. Yes, this year’s valentine’s day is on Feb 15. Believe it or not, it was so much fun.

doodle
Things used to make the doodle

I made this handmade drawing like doodles which was actually so easy to make. It only took 2 hours sigh 😛

He enjoyed reading it and promised me that he will take me to a nice restaurant for the upcoming anniversary. Okay, baby, I got it, I got it, you always say this(not always).

Doodle

Today as a Valentine dish, I made this vegetable biriyani, which really was super delicious 😛 . I didn’t make any non-vegetarian dishes because(secret)I’m in a process to become an eggetarian. What is eggetarian?okay, I don’t know.i just made that word. According to my knowledge, it’s something that a person who will not eat non-vegetarian except eggs and soon may be after my eggetarian transform who knows if I become a vegetarian? 😛

Vegetables needed for making Vegetable Biriyani

I put a lot of caramelized onions in this, which will give a slight sweetness to the biriyani.

 

Biriyani
Vegetable Biriyani

Who doesn’t like chocolates? I had this Godiva which was super yummy.

Godiva
Chocolate

Ps-Although you haven’t Given me anything I know how much you love me and take care of me. Love you <3

What I Eat On Friday|Notes And Thoughts

morning coffee
Coffee

I need my coffee in the morning. I don’t know I’m so obsessed with the morning coffees, not just the ‘Dunkin’ or ‘Starbucks coffee’ but the real filter coffee that is made from the scratch. I love it. 🙂

I made ‘vegetable pulav’ for lunch. Obviously, it was not the tastiest thing in the world. But I just love to bring some colorful dishes back and forth in my menus. It’s very easy to make, that’s also quite obvious (wink, wink). It’s healthy, with lots of veggies in it. I usually will eat this with raita(salad) but I didn’t make it this time because I have a bad cold, indeed very very bad cold for the past one week. So I have to pair this Pulav with Maggie ketchup as a substitute for raita.

Who will have cereals as a snack, ME. I was hungry and made some cereals as a snack.it tastes so bad. Won’t do the mistake ever again.

For dinner, I had this egg curry, beans thoran (Beans Fry) and rice(Kerala matter rice). Literally, I didn’t have any veggies left to make any other items.

This is my night snack. Baked by Melissa cupcakes, yum, yum, yum. I know it’s not healthy but couldn’t resist.I also ate one banana as a snack.

Five must-read Inspirational books|Notes and Thoughts

Reading book
Will Power Instinct By Kelly McGonigal

There are many Inspirational books that are available in the market.I haven’t read many. I’m still in the process of finding new and good books to read in this category. Given below are the books that I felt like the best in many I read till date in the category of Self-Help. Hope you all will find it helpful 🙂

1.The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma

The monk who sold his Ferrari is the first book I read in this category when I was 18. It’s the journey of a person and the revelations in his life’s journey. It’s a like a story. But in many chapters, we can found out our picture in them. It’s written by robin Sharma. After reading this book I became a great fan of him. He is a world renowned public speaker. Out of all his book, I like this one the most

2.The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal

I found it in the category of the Barnes and nobles top must-read inspirational books. The book is explained in a very simple language and talks about the functioning of the brain in which even a school can understand every bit of it. Kelly McGonigal is a psychologist. She talks about all about willpower, what is willpower, what’s the importance of willpower and how we can achieve it, in a very simple language.

3.The power of now by Eckhart Tolle

I heard about this book when the youtuber Lavendaire was talking about the must read books in 2017. This book is so inspiring and talks us about the power of now. Everything that has happened in the past has passed and the things that are happening right now is the most important thing. We have to feel it, understand it. Eckhart Tolle is a spiritual teacher and a famous author.

4.The art of happiness by 14th Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler

I actually didn’t read this book. I bought it through audible. I downloaded it through some free trial offer and there were some points left. Using audible or kindle can reduce the usage of papers, in that way it’s good. But we will never get the feeling of a book. I like reading books in paper form. I used to listen to this whenever I’m on the subway. it’s a very small book. It’s written by the 14th Dalai Lama, which is the current Dalai Lama.

5.Feeling Good by David D burns

His point is very clear and crisp in the functioning of our brain and our actions. There is no pseudoscience in this book. This book is included in the list of inspirational reading because we all need to set aside our anxiety and sadness before getting inspired, right? :-). David D. Burns is an adjunct professor emeritus in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the author of the best-selling books Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy and The Feeling Good Handbook.

Traveling to Mattancherry and Fort kochi

A view of Fort Kochi Beach
Fort Kochi beach

Finally, I reached Fort Kochi. I don’t know, I just love this place. Maybe because of different cultures and in the curiosity to` find the old cultures that are remaining there.

Kochi has a tropical climate ranging between 30°C and 34°C during daytime and around 24°ay, so the temperatures drop between 25°C and 30°C during daytime. The best time to visit is between October and April. If you prefer to travel during monsoon season the best time is from June to September.

One of the main attraction of Mattancherry is Mattancherry Jewish synagogue and Mattancherry palace. By the time I reached there, it was already 12.30 pm. The sun was scorching hot and I already started sweating. We have to walk to the synagogue through the jew street to get the complete experience. I saw People from all around the world. They were either busy in taking photos or was bargaining in one of the shops in the jew street. All though I wanted to collect all those old, traditional kind of things, it’s very costly and they are selling it to you for a higher price. Mattancherry synagogue was closed from 1.00 pm to 3.00 pm and hence I didn’t get a chance to get inside. I have visited the Jew Synagogue a few times before, so we headed back to Mattancherry palace.The Palace was built and gifted by the Portuguese as a present to the king of Cochin around 1555. Inside the building, I was walking with my eyes pointed up because of the artwork on the roof of the palace. It just can’t be explained in words. By the time we finished seeing the palace, we were all hungry and went to have food.

I wanted to take a lot of pictures of this place but photography is strictly prohibited in protected places.

Then for the refreshment, Kashi art cafe will offer you variety of foods if you are in a mood to eat western fusion food. I like all these art cafes and all those fancy decors they have. Even if the coffee or tea is bad, I can enjoy a bad coffee if the surroundings are good(joking).

St.Francis church is one other main attraction which is located at Fort Kochi, once this was the resting place of Vasco da Gama (Vasco da Gama (1460-1524) was a Portuguese explorer who discovered an ocean route from Portugal to the East). By walking through that area we can reach the seaside where the Chinese fishing net is waiting for us. This traditional method of fishing is gone and demonstrated only for tourism purposes these days. From here we will get the incredible view of Arabian Sea. By the time we reached the seaside, it started raining and everyone started running for a cover. We found one building which was partially damaged. After half an hour of nonstop raining, it all ended and the view of the sea was so refreshing. it was 6 .30 p.m by then, I don’t want to leave this place but I have to. I hope that I will come back here one day to watch this beautiful place and it’s culture.

P.S.-If we are lucky we will get to see the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. It stated in 2012 and happen only ones after every 2 years. We can see all the artworks of different artists from all around the word. Sometimes by seeing some artworks, I will just imagine things in my way. Maybe that’s what the artists also meant too, to gave the audience the freedom to think.

If you are planning to visit Mattancherry and Fort Kochi I found this Wikipedia page very helpful. For more travel information please go through this http://wikitravel.org/en/Kochi.

Thakkali curry/Tomato coconut curry-South Indian Recipe

Tomato coconut curry in a stone pot
Tomato coconut curry

I decided to write about this recipe(Tomato coconut curry)when I saw Amma was in a hurry to go to work and asked me what you want today? I said anything easy for you to make. So finally she decided to make this recipe which is actually made with simple ingredients and it tastes delicious. I just like to eat simple food. For me my Amma is the best cook in the world. I will never get tired of her recipes even if I’m eating her moru curry for one week. At the eighth day, I will remember the thing that I was having this for the past one week and I didn’t come to know, and then I will yell at her and on the very next day she will switch the recipe to ullitheeyal. 🙂

Ingredients for tomato coconut curry

Ingredients:

1 medium sized red onion

4 medium sized tomatoes

3 or 4 long beans(optional)

half coconut grated

2 green chilly

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

red chilly powder-optional

curry leaves- as required

mustard seeds- as required

salt- to taste

coconut oil- as needed

2 or 3 red chilly

water- as required

Method:

Slice the onion. cut the tomatoes into cube sized pieces.cut the long beans into 3 inch long pieces.put the tomatoes, long beans, green chilly, turmeric powder, coriander powder and salt with enough water to cover the ingredients. Cover the tumbler with lid and cook till the tomatoes are well cooked.

Grind the coconut and cumin seeds with water and pour this mix to the cooked tomatoes and boil it. Finally, when the raw taste of coconut is gone, switch off the flame.

Pour some coconut oil, when the coconut oil is heated, put some mustard seeds and when the mustard seeds splutter put the red chilies and curry leaves and pour this to the cooked tomato gravy. The curry is done. Serve this with rice, puttu or quinoa.

How to make delicious “KUTTUPAYASAM”

Kheer is a rice pudding from the cuisine of the Indian Subcontinent, made by boiling rice, broken wheat, tapioca, or vermicelli with milk and sugar; it is flavoured with cardamom, raisins, saffron, cashews, pistachios or almonds. It is typically served during a meal or as a dessert. It is also known in some regions as payasam, payasa, phirni, gil-e-firdaus and fereni”

This is a type of payasam used to save in the temples of Kerala. When there is some function like festivals, they used to serve these payasam to the people. As growing up I remember waiting for this payasam my grandmother used to take  with her from temple, she will carry  the payasam in the leaves of banana. The love and care she used to carry that all-way long from temple to home may be the reason, this is one of my favorite recipes in kheer.

This only need few ingredients which will be easily available in our home or near by Indian grocery store. I’m not using any sugar in it because it’s unhealthy. It will taste good if we are using freshly grated coconut.

Ingredients:

1.Broken matte rice -3/4 cup

2.Jaggery                 -As needed

3.Ghee                     – 2 tbsp or as needed

4.Cashew-nut        -2 tbsp or as needed

5.Coconut               – grated coconut from half coconut

6. Water.                – triple the amount of rice if using pressure cooker, or

                                  as needed

Method:

Cook the rice with water in a pressure cooker. Melt the jaggery and filter it because jaggery won’t be in its pure form and contain impurities. Fry the cashew nuts in the ghee and set aside. Mix the grated coconut with the cooked rice and stir it to a medium thick consistency. Switch off the flame, put the fried cashew-nut in the rice and payasam is ready to serve.

*PS-if you are vegan, it’s optional to use ghee

Reference – Wikipedia