Monday, April 23, 2012

Vegetable Vermicelli

I was on a two week vacation in Yemen and returned last week.  When asked about my holiday, I am sometimes at a loss of what to say or how to describe it.  We met the family, which was nice.  We met friends, ate and had fun – which was all very nice.  We even went to a private beach every day.

Holidays are sometimes about running away from your daily routine and engaging in a new one to charge up when you get back.  Holidays are about relaxing and eating and having fun.  I did get all of it during my vacation in Yemen.  Then why can I not say I enjoyed my vacation when asked about it.  Why am I at a loss of words?  Should the lawlessness we observed be ignored since we were on vacation?  Should the poverty be overlooked?  Should the fact that schools were converted to asylum centers for the homeless not really be my concern since I was only on a vacation?  The fact is that we did have a good time but what we saw could not be ignored.  The plight of the children brought up in a zone where the army and tanks were everywhere, the extremes of poverty and wealth witnessed amongst the population, the fact that people rely on generators rather than electricity, where planning makes no sense as you have no idea if the roads would be open tomorrow or you could fill your tank with gas or if the airports could be closed. 

I asked my children aged 13 and 10 what they thought would improve the situation of the country.  My son very wisely answered, “Educate the next generation…this generation is a lost one”.  I wish his words were not true – what would happen to a nation who has lost an entire generation.  But as the days went by and our vacation came to a close, I thought his observation was accurate.  

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6


500 grams vermicelli
3 medium sized potatoes
3 medium sized carrots
100 grams French beans
8 florets cauliflower
1 medium sized green capsicum
1 medium sized red capsicum
½ cup green peas
2” piece ginger
2 medium sized white onions
1 green chili
8 curry leaves
4 tablespoons corn oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
3 teaspoons black gram split (urad dal)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
4 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt to taste


  1. Peel, wash and cut potatoes and carrots into one centimeter cubes.   String, wash and cut French beans into one centimeter pieces.  Wash cauliflower florets. Wash, halve, deseed and cut capsicum into one centimeter cubes.   Wash and drain green peas.  Peel, wash and finely chop ginger and onion. Remove stems, wash and slit green chili.  Wash and pat dry curry leaves.  
  2.  Boil potato, carrot and cauliflower in 4 cups water till nearly done.  Add the French beans and peas and boil further for five minutes.  Drain and cool.  
  3.  Heat 8 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Add vermicelli, salt and 2 tablespoons of oil.  Cook for one minute or till slightly underdone.  Drain, refresh under cold water and keep aside.
  4. Heat remaining oil in a pan, temper with mustard seeds and curry leaves.  Add black gram split, ginger, onion and chili.  Sauté till the onion turns light brown.   
  5. Add the capsicum and turmeric powder and fry for another five minutes.  Now add the cooked vegetables and continue to stir.   
  6. Add the cooked vermicelli, salt and stir gently. Cook for another five to six minutes.  Remove from heat.  Mix lemon juice and serve hot.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Salmon with Dill

There are some things that might not last forever if mankind is going to abuse his natural resources and does not change his ways.  And one thing I fear for is that the Great Barrier Reef in Australia might fall victim to our greed and disappear forever.  I did not have this on my places to visit.  Instead I was thinking of either Hawaii or Seychelles – a place where I can do nothing and just admire the blue ocean.  And then the thought about the rising temperatures of the ocean struck me and I thought that the Great Barrier Reef might not be there forever – I have to visit it.  So that is how it came by on my list.  It was not planned, but I have to see this natural protected wonder that we still have.  And this would give me an opportunity to visit the Aussies.

Again, like the name suggests, the Great Barrier Reef covers a very large area and is estimated to be 1000s of years old.  It has been the home to the Aboriginals – so there should be so much of history in the waters there – untold stories.  Again, it is the mysticism of who might have lived and what could have happened there that draws me to the place.  Imagine touching a rock that might have been silent witness to so many tales.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

4 pieces Salmon
1 teaspoon red chili powder
2 teaspoons dried Dill
1 teaspoon honey
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste
Corn oil for frying


  1. Clean, wash and pat dry the salmon pieces.  
  2. In a bowl mix the salt, chili powder and the lemon juice.   
  3. Now add the honey and mix well.  Place the salmon in the bowl and let it marinate on both sides for about 20 minutes in a cool place.  
  4. Now sprinkle the dill on the salmon till it is coated on both sides.   
  5. Heat oil in a flat pan.  When hot, shallow fry the salmon pieces till golden brown on both sides.  Serve hot with Dill & Pea Rice.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Red chicken Curry

Some weeks back our very helpful neighbors invited us for dinner along with the other neighbor we did not know that well.  Needless to say, the other neighbor too turned out to be a very nice middle aged couple who was very fond of travelling and who actually made me very interested in this next place I would like to visit – the Angkor Wat Temples in Cambodia.  Declared a UNESCO Heritage sight, the Angkor Wat Temples were built in the 12th century.

Coming from a place like India, I have seen more than my fair share of Temples and architecture.  The Angkor Wat is nothing more than what I might have already seen.  But why I want to visit them is because of the unique situation of the Temple – on a hill.  Our neighbors described the special dinners that could be hosted at the Temples – the whole temple site is lit in candle lights, traditionally dressed Cambodians serve you meals , live music being played while you are seated in the premises of these Temples – the Gods watching over you.  It could be heavenly – what could be more perfect than dining with someone you love in sacred grounds!

Preparation Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Serves: 4


1 chicken
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
3 dried red chilies
60 grams red onions
6 garlic cloves
1" piece ginger
4 cloves
3 cardamom pods
Salt to taste
30 grams cashew nuts
1 tablespoon raw basmati rice
2 tablespoons coconut shavings
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1" piece cinnamon
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tomatoes
250 ml coconut milk
Coriander leaves, for garnish

  1. Clean and joint the chicken and keep aside.  
  2. Roast together the coriander seeds, red chilies, cloves, cardamom, cashew nuts, rice, coconut shavings, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds and cinnamon and when light brown, grind together to a find powder.  Keep aside. 
  3. Grind ginger and garlic and mix with the ground spices.  
  4. Marinate the chicken in this mixture for 30 minutes.  
  5. Slice onions. Heat oil in a vessel and when hot, add the onions.  Fry for a couple of minutes till light brown in color.  
  6. Now add the chicken with the marinade and sauté for 7 minutes.  
  7. Add the tomatoes and cook covered on low flame for 20 minutes.  
  8. Now add the coconut milk and simmer for a few more minutes or until the chicken in cooked. 
  9. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or bread.