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! 😀

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! 🙂

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 😀

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! 🙂

Book of the Month : At Large and at small

If you do know this book, you must be thinking this is a very very curious choice for a book review for a food blog to feature. But then again, if you have read it you’ll also guess why quite easily. This collection of familiar essays by Anne Fadiman has two of the most passionate and well written prose about food; ice creams and coffee in particular! 🙂

Anne Fadiman

Essay writing has been, for the most parts, seen as the pain in the posterior  piece of writing that we all had to endure in school. It was only on introduction to Fadiman that we realised that it can be as polished as poetry, as complete  and whole as a novel and as delightful as a short story. Familiar essays are an even rarer form of prose and Fadiman has fine tuned it to a whole new level.  The tone is always personal, one to one making the reader feel like we are sharing an intimate conversation with a close friend; one whom we had lost touch and now getting back into the groove with. The language she uses has a surgical precision with which it evokes the images, yet the images are far from clinical; because the thoughts range from the intellectual to the whimsical. It’s the equivalent of a multi-flavored ice candy ( or as the Harry Potter fans in our team like to point out, like a pack of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Bean, but without the barf one! 😛 )

And her range of topics is eclectic to say the least. From  butterflies to penchant for

Who's not addicted to the pursuit of happiness! 🙂

fatalistic Arctic explorers to , like I’ve said, Ice creams and her obsession with Coffee. When you read the dedication itself  ( For Kim – Collector of Tiger Swallowtails, Emperor of Ice Cream), you know you are going to be reading someone who relates to food on a personal level. And when you read the essay on Ice cream, is when you realise how much.  In her own words, ” As far as I was concerned, a vote against Jef-Freeze Treats was a vote against ice cream and a vote against ice cream was a vote against the pursuit of happiness” , and we could not agree more!  But her essay is more than her personal viewpoint or stand for ice cream. It is also a meticulously researched article on the history of ice creams served with dollops of humor. You know you are reading a rare talent when you learn as much as you enjoy reading it.

The same can be said of her essay titled with startling simplicity ‘Coffee’. We love her ramblings through the by-lanes of literature to find the coffee addicts and her musings on which piece of literature could have been the results of a much caffeinated muse! 🙂

Delicious essays! 🙂

But what makes this book truly deserving of Zoinker’s ‘Book of the Month’ is the recipe for Kim Fadiman’s Coffee Kahlua Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream! (which also reveals why the title given at dedication is well deserved!) 🙂 Yes, you read that right, it is Liquid Nitrogen. For all food lovers who love to experiment with food, this is a recipe which takes it a notch up and blends the art of cookery and science of chemistry! No, we are not sharing the recipe. It’s for you to read Fadiman and find out! Trust us when we say this, you’d be surely in for a treat when you do! 🙂

A slice of Italy! :)

Mmm, pizzas. That piece of bread smeared with sauce, veggies, meat and oodles of cheese that make our office days so much better (we know you agree)! And these delicious treats are just 30 minutes away that make this an office habit come way too easy (we prefer the freshly baked wood-fire-oven-ones actually, but we don’t even let greasy boxes come in our way of our appetite)! 😀

Pizza is Greek in origin. The Ancient Greeks covered their bread with oils, herbs and cheese. In Byzantine Greek, the word was spelled πίτα or pita, meaning pie. The word has now spread to Turkish as pide, and Bulgarian, Croatian and Serbian as pita, Albanian as pite and Modern Hebrew pittāh. The Romans developed placenta, a sheet of dough topped with cheese and honey and flavored with bay leaves. Modern pizza originated in Italy as the Neapolitan pie with tomato. In 1889, cheese was added.

The bottom of the pizza, called the ‘crust’, may vary widely according to style—thin as in a typical hand-tossed pizza or Roman pizza, or thick as in a typical pan pizza or Chicago-style pizza. It is traditionally plain, but may also be seasoned with garlic, or herbs, or stuffed with cheese.

Be it an office lunch, a night out with friends or a party at home, a big food comforter for us has been that unforgettable pizza. And here are our top 5 places in the city that get it right for us:

1. Huckleberry:

Nestled in a small corner near Toit in Indiranagar, this little restaurant is the perfect pizzeria haven. One of the few places in Bangalore using a wood fire oven, Huckleberry uses fresh ingredients which makes their pizzas stand out in taste and quality. Try their Lamb and Caramelized Onion pizza and the Jalapeno and Sweet Corn pizza. It’s simply delicious!

2. Little Italy:

This is one of our favourite Italian restaurants that never disappoints us. While they are purely vegetarian, their freshly made thin crust pizzas are really to die for. Our favourites here are Pizza ala Vodka (Mozzarella, Parmesan, jalapeno, red pepper, capers, pineapple and a dash of vodka) and the incredibly sinful four cheese pizza, Calabrese (Mozzarella, Gouda, Cheddar, Miraj cheese and olives). Orgasmic.

3. Pizzeria Romano:

One of the first through and through city-based pizzerias in Bangalore, Pizzeria Romano is a crowd favourite. A restaurant theme befitting that of Hollywood and rock ‘n’ roll, the pizzas rolled out are 100% Italian and spiced up to your liking. We suggest the Roadies Pizza (crushed garlic, Kalamata olives, marinated mushroom and Mozzarella) and the super indulgent Buffalo Soldier (grilled chicken in spicy Buffalo wing sauce, diced tomatoes, onion, Cheddar and Mozzarella).

4. Toit:

A great pub in Bangalore serving up some equally great food, this place is not famed too much for their pizzas, but we really like them. Something about the ambience, the great booze, the crowd and the music that makes those thin crust pizzas a whole lot tastier and crunchier. We are big fans of the Seafood Pizza (loaded up with all of the freshest seafood) and the Mexican Beef & Jalapeno Pizza (the flavours make it more exotic and tasty).

5. Domino’s Pizza:

Yeah, don’t kill us. While we like all of those amazingly exotic woodfire thin crust pizzas, we need our shot of greasy pizzas off cardboard boxes from time-to-time as well. And, Domino’s is really one of the best among the chains. We love the Mexican  Green Wave pizza (onion, capsicum,  tomato jalapeno and Mexican herbs) and Chicken Golden Delight pizza (golden corn, double BBQ chicken and extra cheese) loaded with the Cheese Burst. One bite and all of that cheesy goodness takes you to heaven. Guaranteed.

If you’d like to sample a variety of pizzas, without having the whole pie, try Vetos in Koramangala. You pay per slice and the slices are huge, mind you. But you can easily try a few and figure out your favourites 🙂

And those are our top 5 pizzerias for us in Bangalore. Do you agree? We’d love to hear your favourite hotspots in the city! 🙂

For the Lust of Food!

Sexy food? Edible delights in the bedroom? Little treats in your meal that would make you want your lover jump right into bed with you? (yeah, we know hot underwear would work too). Yes, we’re talking about aphrodisiacs – the wonder foods that boost your sexual desire, and make your after dinner party a little more, er, eventful. 😉

The name Aphrodisiac comes from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of sexuality and love. Throughout history, many foods, drinks, and behaviours have had a reputation for making sex more attainable and/or pleasurable. However, from a historical and scientific standpoint, the alleged results may have been mainly due to mere belief by their users that they would be effective (i.e., the placebo effect). In particular, Western medical science has no substantiated claims that any particular food increases sexual desire or performance.

So we were snooping around (and experimented on our own love hamsters) for some delicious aphrodisiac foods that could be innocently used in your meals to ignite all senses in your partner. Here are top 5 aphrodisiacs that are a MUST.

5. Bananas: 

Well, we don’t mean to be dirty, (or maybe we do), but by the mere shape of the banana, its connection with sexuality is quite obvious. Also find that bananas are loaded with potassium, magnesium and B vitamins. It also contains chelating minerals and the bromeliad enzyme, said to enhance the male libido. No splitting after that banana split then, eh? 🙂

4. Figs:

This sexy fruit has long been thought of as an arousing stimulant and an open fig is believed to emulate the female sex organs. Figs are steeped in history and are one of the oldest recorded fruits. They are reported to be Cleopatra’s favorite fruit and the ancient Greeks held them as sacred and associated them with love and fertility. Pop in plenty of these figs with ricotta cheese, walnuts, lettuce and few tablespoons of honey Balsamic  vinaigrette to serve up an unforgettable salad (and possibly an unforgettable night) to your lover. 😉

3. Chocolate: 

Pure chocolate, the king of natural aphrodisiacs, contains a host of compounds including anandamide, the psyochoactive feel-good chemical, and PEA (phenylethylamine), the ‘love chemical’ which releases dopamine in the pleasure-centres of the brain and peaks during orgasm (this is our subtle way of highlighting the last word of that previous sentence). PEA is said to help induce feelings of excitement, attraction, and euphoria. Go on. Bake that chocolate cake and lick the batter right off each other’s fingers! You could find an easy fudge recipe here.

2. Oysters:

Oysters are probably the food most associated with being an aphrodisiac, and most people are aware of their reputation for increasing sexual desire. Oysters may be thought an aphrodisiac because of their high zinc content, which helps produce sperm and increases libido and also for their shape (stemming from sympathetic magic). Raw oysters are best served with a glass of chilled Champagne for a truly romantic meal. Nibble away!

1. Honey: 

Yes, this is the biggest surprise and  the winner of them all. Honey. The only edible that hasn’t spoled for thousands of years (and possibly contributing to keep this population number high). Sweet, sticky honey is a great source of boron, a trace mineral that helps the body use and metabolize estrogen, the female sex hormone. Studies have shown that this mineral may also enhance testosterone levels in the blood, the hormone responsible for promoting sex drive and orgasm in both men and women. So what’s it gonna be tonight? Honey chicken wings? Honey mustard dressed salads? Or just drizzle some honey over chocolates and bananas and see what pans out! 😀

And those are our top 5 aphrodisiacs that have certainly worked. Do share what works with you. And if you find none of them having any effect, a bottle of tequila and a lemon should do the trick, if you know what we mean! 😉