A Taste of Thailand!

At Zoink!, we love all kinds of cuisines, and exotic food even more so. So when we discovered that Benjarong was having its own Royal Thai Food Festival, we could not resist and simply HAD to sample it. Plus, Thai food with its burst of sweet, spicy and sour flavours ranks very high in our favourite cuisines.

Benjarong is hosting the A-harn Chao Wang – Royal Thai Food Festival , which is featuring the most authentic Thai cuisine style to date. The ‘Royal Thai Cuisine’ is still the style served to the current Thai royal family and the cuisine reflects the splendid creativity invented by Thai noble women in the past and is a distinct art that has been passed down over the centuries through members of the noble families.

Specialist Chef Tharee Charupas, who has flown down exclusively from Thailand, will be hosting the festival along with Benjarong’s seasoned specialist Chef Ram Kumar. The special menu includes a mix of specially created vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies. The cuisine has its roots in the years 1351 and was practiced by royal and noble families who have passed on the secrets of this style of cooking to the future generations.

Well, enough of us babbling. We’d like to showcase some pictures of their brilliant food.

We were the first to enter, since we were extremely hungry.

We received a warm welcome anyway :)

Chef Tharee Charupas, the lady behind the amazing Royal Thai Food Festival.

And they had a good collection of wines that kept us busy.

The menu of amazing dishes that we couldn’t wait to devour.

Then they also decided to hand us a cute recipe booklet of the Thai dishes they were preparing.

Which upon viewing, lead our stomachs to growl, er, rather loudly.

This is a traditional start to a Thai meal. You wrap your leaf up with ginger slivers, coconut, chilli, peanuts, onions and jaggery – infusing primary Thai flavours of salty, sour, sweet and spicy.

And the food finally made an appearance.

Tasted a lot prettier than it looked!

Grathong Thong Je – Rice tartlets filled with corn, green peas, water chestnuts and carrots.

Mee Krob Goong – crispy fried rice vermicelli dressed up in a delicate sauce flavoured with Makrut leaves.

Tung Tong – crispy fried golden pouches stuffed with vegetables and water chestnuts.

Sometimes we wished we payed attention for longer to remember the names of ALL the dishes.   :/

Luckily, we remember these Goong Sarongs – Thai prawn spring rolls in a wonton sheet. Our favourite dish of the day!

Yum Pla Duk Foo – crispy fried catfish salad topped with raw mango.

Khao Pahd Poo – Thai fragrant rice tossed with crabmeat and golden brown garlic wrapped in egg.

And, that’s all, folks! Benjarong is located at 12/1, Ulsoor Road, Ulsoor, Bangalore. Reservations for the festival can be made at 080-32217201

Bacon-tastic Food!

A friend of ours recently redefined bacon for us as ‘Bacon is the candy of meats’, and we couldn’t agree more! :) Bacon is clearly a favourite among Team Zoink! and a big hit around the world as well. Lately, bacon has become a trend and almost used as something to rebel against the health conscious and dieters. Hence, we are finding bacon everywhere – in apple pies, in vodka, in fondue and now, even, ice creams!

So here is a list of our top 5 unconventional bacon dishes that we love (we’re sorry, but that bacon ice-cream was simply too weird for us too!). Also, you wouldn’t find your traditional B.L.T. in this list.

1.       Bacon Cups: 

This is your traditional BLT decomposed, and served without bread. Strips of bacon are folded and weaved together so as to make a firm cup structure to be able to hold vegetables in them. With the baked bacon cups, you can fill them with cherry tomatoes and lettuce, even top them with a poached egg and a drizzle of mayo. This is officially the best way to have a salad. Guaranteed to leave your plates (or cups) clean. With the cup missing, of course. You can find a step-by-step guide on how to make it here – Martha’s awesome and extremely innovative food blog.

2.       French Toast and Bacon Cupcake:

This is breakfast served in a cupcake. Really. Eggs, butter, bacon and well, something baked to compensate for the missing bread. The idea of this dish came to a passionate baker (behind the awesome food blog www.liefewithcake.com) when she heard about a unique Maple Cream Stick and Bacon Crisp Doughnut served at Voodoo Dougnuts. She decided to create some magic herself and decided to make little cupcakes of heaven out of those big slices of French Toast. The buttercream frosting gives it a really nice flavour and is finally topped with that gorgeous and delicious piece of bacon! Find this innovative recipe here.

3.       Breakfast Pancake with Bacon:

You will stop caring about boring flipped pancakes once you get a bite of this pancake tower. It gets a whole lot of flavours together under one roof, literally; and once you bite into this, the party in your mouth starts and you wouldn’t want it to stop. Layered with roasted potatoes, scrambled eggs, bacon, whipped cream and strawberries, this is quite a hearty dish, and best served to at least 3 people. The strawberries add a nice sweetness to the entire pancake tower, without being overpowering – the crunch of that bacon screams through alright! Learn to make this pancake layer by layer here.  This blogger Alice Currah likes experimenting with sweet and savoury flavours, and we love her for that!

4.       Bacon Bread:

What tastes better than a bacon sandwich? A bacon sandwich with bacon bread and more bacon. Yes, you can make a fresh batch of bacon bread right at home. Infused with all the awesomeness of bacon and just a hint of maple, this escalates the deliciousness of bread altogether. The bacon filled bread baking aroma out of your oven is to die for! You must try this at home! Every sandwich you make with this bread is going to make you a local hero. Find this amazing recipe here. This blogger loves to bake and we thank her for this kick-ass recipe!

5.       Bacon and Cheese Pie:

This pie is what dreams are made of! Your favourite fatty bacon and yummy cheeses come together for the pie of the decade. The recipe requires you to weave strips of bacon together, cook them, add cheese and more bacon bits and cook them again, before putting them in the oven. Maybe even finish off with an egg on top, if you thought it didn’t have enough carbs. Find the step by step guide to make this here, where you can also notice that bacon grease is poured into a cup, to be used for greasing up all other dishes and making dinners bacon-tastic with that grease! The author Chris Kelly is a passionate photographer who has some surreal photos on his blog. He also shares a love for good things in life, like bacon.

“Money can’t buy you happiness. But it can buy you bacon. Which is the same thing.”

Spread the bacon love, Zoinkers! :D

The Kitchen Fairy Godmother!

You are lounging in your favorite torn shirt( Don’t worry, we all have that one guilty secret we can’t part with!) ; your hair’s a mess and your face is even worse, but you just don’t care because it’s your lazy weekend. Your phone rings and OH-MY-GAWD, it’s the cutie from the office that you had prayed would ask you out. YES, it’s a date. You are busy hopping and squealing when you catch yourself in the mirror. You look like you been in a cyclone and a tsunami – a disaster of mega-scale proportions. You don’t have time to go to the spa and turn yourself in to the diva you know you can be.

The secret was in Cinderella’s kitchen! :-P

This is where you repeat to yourself the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe mantra ( DON’T PANIC! ) and head to the kitchen! No, not to grab a comfort bite but to unleash powers of the domestic fairy godmother to turn you into Cinderella! :) And no, you don’t need to have the kitchen supplies of Nigella to do it either. Here are some simple yet ridiculous effective home remedies which are fail proof!

Let’s start with the exfoliating scrub. A spoonful of sugar is all you need. If you have sensitive skin, brown sugar works best. It will get the blood circulation going and give you a rosy glow to your cheeks. Also use it on your lips leaving behind a soft, rosy texture.

Now for that face mask. You have so many choices here that you can pick according to your skin type and your grocery list! :-P

  • Quick fix for your skin in 15 minutes
  1. Rice flour mixed with milk or curd : leave it till it’s semi dry if you have dry skin and fully dry if you have oily skin  and then wash it off while gently scrubbing in circles. We don’t know the science behind it but we do know it gives you an instant glow.
  2. Multhani Mitti or Fuller’s earth mixed with rose-water is a great astringent for oily to normal skin. Wait for the mix to dry and then wash it off.
  3. Besan or Gram flour with milk or curd : Leave it to semi dry and wash it off. Improves the tone and clarity of the skin.
  4. Lemon Juice : Just rub a squeezed lemon half  on your face and wait for 5 minutes and wash it off. Warning though, for some it may create a burning sensation but it leaves your skin fairer and clearer in minutes.
  5. Honey : This one is a cleanser+scrub. Gives your skin a beautiful sheen. Add a little lemon juice and leave it for 5 minutes and you’ll be radiating a fresh glow. Honey can be used as a minor acne treatment.
  6. Banana : Mash 1/2 of a ripe banana until creamy. Apply on face and leave for 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water and cold water to close pores. Perfect for oily skin!
The real beauty of these ingredients is that they can be mixed and match to create the mask that’s perfect for your skin.
Well, you are half way there. Your skin is brimming with natural goodness and a soft rosy blush which would make your cutie check you out.. twice! Now we need to tame those wild tresses. Beer and egg are the most popular conditioners that everyone knows of ( but who wants to pour alcohol down the drain!). So we’ll be invoking the powers of mayo, coffee and honey!
  • Quick fixes for your stressed tresses

    For Shiny Hair!

  1. Mayonnaise : This is for all you people with dry frizzes. Smear generously from your mayo jar on to your dry hair (and not to your scalp)  and cover it with a towel or a shower cap. Keep it for about an hour or so before washing your hair with your normal shampoo and conditioner. You’ll be the owner of some marvelously deep conditioned hair and who would not want that! :)
  2. Coffee : Take some warm coffee and pour it through your dry hair. Keep it for about 20 minutes before shampooing it off. It’ll give your hair a rich, dark sheen.
  3. Lemon: Yes, this little bucket of citrus is turning out to be a beauty powerhouse. Lemon juice mixed with water used for the last rinse will give your hair the shine and bounce you see in shampoo ads! You can also use them to give yourself some blonde highlights. Just brush some lime juice to the parts you want to lighten. Sit in the sun until your hair dries. The lemon juice activates in the sunlight, causing your hair to lighten, so a hot and sunny day is best for this activity. Lemon juice highlights are usually temporary, lasting a few weeks.
  4. Honey : This is another natural highlighter. Mix honey into the water and use it on your for both lightening your hair ( again sunshine’s the key!) or adding shine to your hair.
  5. Baking soda: Mix in a little to your shampoo and not only will you remove dirt and grime from you hair it’ll also give your hair a shiny look.
Here’s another tip – always wash your conditioner or your last rinse with cold water.

Strawberry a day keeps the dentist away!?

Your hair’s fixed and your skin’s aglow. Now all that you need is to fix up your dazzling smile.  If you have some ripe strawberries,  mash it up with some baking soda and use this to brush your teeth. It’ll immediately clean up all the stains and you are all set to flash your pearly whites! ( ps: Catherine Zeta Jones swears by this!)

Now put on your little black dress and oodles of charm and you are all set, Cinderella! And You din’t even need a fairy godmother (which means no midnight curfew! ;-) )

Are you ready to Jam?! :-D

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Toast to the perfect toast! :)

Sometimes the only perfect way to start your day is by taking a bite out of the perfect toast fresh and still warm, with butter melting all over and that slight sweetness and tartness that comes with the orange peel grated into your marmalade on top! According to us, while buttered toast by itself is a treat, the cherry on top is having your favorite preserve by your side to add the right amount of sweetness. 

Jam by no means is a recent phenomena. There are mentions of jam recipes in the earliest cook book written in 1st century Rome. It is speculated that jams, jellies and preserves are most likely to have started in the Middle Eastern countries where there are plenty of fruits and sugar. By preserving it, they could enjoy the yummy taste and nutrition of fruits all year long.  

They found their way into Europe when the Crusades returned with their spoils ( who knew it included Jam recipes!! :-) ). Marmalade though is said to have a more royal beginning. The legend goes that in the 16th century , when Mary Queen of Scots got sea sick, her physician mixed orange and sugar to help her seasickness. In fact some even suggest that word ‘marmalade’ comes from the phrase “Marie est malade”  meaning ‘Mary is sick’ but we don’t think that’s very likely! Either ways, it became an instant hit with the royalty and if you visit the Queen for tea, for sure you’ll see a small pot of marmalade sitting right beside your tea cup! :-)

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Perfect for almost anything!

The best thing about jams though are the fact that it’s an accompaniment for almost anything. As a spread over cakes, scones; for a quick fix we have spread it over chapattis and made sweet rolls for a bite on the go; to add a different flavor with ice creams or cheese cakes.

And we found this awesome and unique recipe which is sure to a favorite of any jam lover : The Banana Jam.

Ingredients:

  • 50 Plantains (the small and over ripe is best suited) 
  • Sugar – 750gms to 1 kg ( depending on how sweet you want it)
  • Orange juice- juice of 5 oranges

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Going bananas over jam! :-P

Method:

Boil the plantain in a cooker. When cool, strain the juice and discard the residue. To this add sugar (quantity may vary according to the sweetness of the plantain- this is usually trial and error) and cook till thick, add the orange juice and remove from fire when it attains the consistency of viscous liquid. The color will be a deep-almost-black purple in the jar. 

Enjoy with almost anything – appam, puttu, idyappam and of course bread and butter. :-)

Do let us know how your version worked out! :)

 

 

To Leh and Back! :)

So one of our Zoinkers! visited the beautiful city of Leh recently and had a few foodie pictures to share. According to her, Leh (located in the state of Jammu & Kashmir) is not one of the strongest foodie places in the country for gourmands, but due to its picturesque view and landscape, is a must visit.

The view of Leh from ANY angle is simply breathtaking!

And while we were walking about, the delicious aroma of Aloo Tikki wafted through the air and caught our attention.

We managed to click something without letting our drool fog the camera lens.

And the long wait finally came to an end. Aloo Tikki and Chhole basted with mint and tamarind chutney. Yum!

And also indulged our sweet tooth with some de-lish garama garam Gulab Jamun.

And then snuck back for a crispy Dosa.

A visit to Leh without a visit to a local Tibetan restaurant is just not done.

A bowl of hot, steaming Thukpa. We found this okay, and also noticed that most of the dishes here had way too much soya sauce in them.

No, they’re not all the same. Each one has a different level of spice in them.

Jalebis occupy a special place in our hearts and their glass shelves.

These Mutton Momos were really good. They were from a small restaurant called Tibetan Corner.

Now this, was some good Thukpa. Some veggies, delicious soup, noodles and Momos. Quite a filling dish, and this was only a Half Bowl, priced at Rs. 80.

This is nothing but a bowl of mutton broth, which is constantly stewing in the kitchen. Perfectly flavoured and comforting.

Half Plate of Lamb Chowmein priced at Rs.40

This amazing chutney with their guarded secret ingredient was spicy, packed with a hundred flavours and brought every dish to life.

The kitchen team behind the awesome food at Tibetan Corner.

We also took a walk along the market picking up nuts, figs and the like.

And there are a plethora of options to choose from. You would have to bargain a lot with many sellers, if you’re not a local.

And then we stopped for another plate of Momos. The appetite is never satiated. Sigh.

Rinchen Cafeteria is located in Khardungla pass, the highest motorable pass in the world at 18,380 ft, making it the highest cafeteria in the world.

Where they had a fun Maggi story that was very enticing.

So we were enticed and tried a bowl of hot, yummy, the most tasty Maggi at the highest cafeteria in the world! :)

And also learnt about the benefits of black tea.

As well as the Siachen Glacier, which we thought all of our Zoinkers! should know about.

And this is us signing off with a last shot of the breathtaking view from the highest cafeteria in the world. Enjoy! :)

Book of the Month: A History of the World in 6 Glasses

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Unique Perspective of world history!

Must be the summer heat because we can’t seem to stop talking about liquids! So it just made perfect sense to pick up Tom Standage’s A History of the World in 6 Glasses. Honestly, the book surprised us. To begin with, the concept of charting the world history through how beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and cola are drunk itself is so unique and we confess, seemed fantastical. But Standage’s book turned out to be a crash course in ancient, classical and modern history peppered with stories that are relatable with our everyday life. After all who will not be able to understand the magical powers of beer bringing civilization together, or coffee being the stimulant for Renaissance? On the other hand, when we look at the fact that 3 of the drinks contain alcohol and the other 3 caffeine, it does makes sense how the world’s inspirations and influence would be traced down to the discovery or invention of these drinks!

The language is crisp and a refreshing change for a book loaded with (in any other hands would read boring) historical facts.But Standage does a brilliant job of keep it in the easy reading section. It’s the kind of book that one would enjoy reading while travelling, both stimulating and light ( just like any of the 6 drinks he talks about!!)

It’s the kind of book after which you would never look at your favorite drink the same way again! Here’s to quenching our thirst for knowledge and new horizons! Let all raise our glasses to that! :-D

Desi Ishtyle Quenchers!

Yes, we know, we’ve taken quite a hiatus from our blog posting, and we apologize (we do welcome brickbats in our inbox just in case you feel like, er, venting). Anyway, we’re back and we promise you the blog posts will remain just as awesome as they used to be :D

Summer is officially here and the sun is not being friendly to Bangalore at all this summer. The scorching heat, bad heat waves and humid weather is tiring us out way too quickly and making us uber thirsty. While we never run out of a stash of our chilled beers, we decided to put together a list of some great thirst quenchers for the season desi style.

Lassi:

You couldn’t have been living in India without being familiar with this wonderful drink. Traditional Lassi is a savoury drink sometimes flavoured with ground roasted cumin while sweet Lassi on the other hand is blended with sugar or fruits instead of spices. Enter any Punjabi household and watch how the refills of your Lassi never stop as you wolf down the Makki di rotis. (for the summer, we suggest a refreshing Mango Lassi, a recipe of which could be found here)

 

Kokum Sherbet: 

Kokum Sherbet is synonymous with Indian coastal cuisine and is an extremely popular drink in Mangalore and Konkan regions of Maharashtra and Goa as well. This drink is made from Kokum extract, sugar, and a hint of Indian spices and is extremely refreshing. Kokum Sherbet is an immediate acidity reliever, and is also popularly used in cocktails in Goa to give your drink that kick. Click here for a refreshingly easy recipe of Kokum Sherbet.

 

Aam Ka Panna:

A sip of this fresh, tangy drink really marks the beginning of summer. This sweet, sour and spicy drink is largely consumed in Northern parts of India and renowned for its heat resistant properties. It’s a simple drink made from raw, green mangoes, blended with peppercorns, sugar and a dash of spices to bring that zing into this drink. Beat the heat this summer by storing up the Panna in jugs in your refrigerator. Find an easy recipe here.

 

Nannari: 

This lesser known yet delicious drink comes from the herb ‘Sarasaparilla’, a wonder herb, otherwise known as Nannari. The root of Nannari helps in curing many infections and regular intake of it keeps the body cool, especially during summers. The Nannari syrup is simply made of ground Nannari root, water, sugar and lime juice. This syrup is then used for making that cool Nannari Sherbet recipe. Find the recipe here.

 

Jigarthanda:

Jil jil Jigarthanda is an extremely popular summer drink having originated in Madurai. Jigarthanda literally means cooling the heat, and the ‘Jil Jil’ means ‘Cool Cool’ denoting that the drink cools your body. This is an extremely rich drink and comprises of cold milk, malai, ice cream,  Nannari syrup and Agar Agar (China grass) or Badam pisin (now used in most shops). It is extremely popular in Madurai as it is vastly available in road-side pull ins and small shops. Get a fun recipe here.

 

So those are our favourite desi coolers for the summers. How are you beating the heat? Leave your comments below, and keep Zoinking! :)