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

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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! 🙂

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! 😉

10 Reasons Why We Love Chocolate! :)

It’s as simple as gets, although we are certain no one really needs a ‘reason’ per se to love chocolate.

"I'd give up chocolate. But I'm not a quitter!"

10. Chocolate makes you happy:

Chocolate contains tryptophan, a chemical in the brain that is used to produce the neurotransmitter, serotonin. High levels of serotonin stimulate the secretion of endorphins, and produce feelings of elation. Serotonin is found in the antidepressant Prozac, and the designer drug “ecstasy” produces its effects by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. So… antidepressants, illegal drugs, or a Hershey’s bar.  You pick.

9. Chocolate may help people live longer:

 In a Harvard University study conducted in 1999, researchers tracked 8,000 men and found those who ate chocolate lived almost a year longer than those who didn’t. Although scientists don’t know why the men lived longer, they speculate it has to do with the antioxidants found in chocolate.  I speculate that it’s because these same men had enough chocolate around their house that they had no shortage of woman willing to come around and cook them healthy meals and clean their bathroom once in a while.  But that’s just a theory.

8. Chocolate is really good for you:

Dark chocolate contains chemicals that lower the risk of cancer and heart disease.  Flavanoids and antioxidants in dark chocolate have been shown to make a difference in cardiovascular health.  Scientists now recommend that you have a chocolate cookie or biscuit so your body gets more of those life-lengthening chemicals.  Skip those cookies & milk since some studies show that milk cancels out the healthful effects of eating chocolate by preventing those helpful chemicals from being fully absorbed in the body.  Hey – nobody said the science of chocolate was going to be simple!

7. Chocolate is a cardiac stimulant of heart:

Not that we actually care, but various beneficial substances are contained in chocolate. For example, some antioxidants and flavonoids can help us reduce the chances of getting cancer and cardiovascular disease. The substances contained in cocoa can also help us prevent the formation of heart disease. Therefore, if we feel tired, we can eat chocolate to support our heart.

6. Chocolate has just the right chemistry:

According to a study by the University of Michigan, chocolate contains chemicals called opioids.  Opioids are also found in opium which can dull pain and give you a feeling of well-being.  Therefore, people who eat chocolate produce natural opiates in their brains that can soothe their nerves and make them feel good.

5. Chocolate makes us feel more alive:

The caffeine content alone of dark chocolate can increase pulse, heart rate and alertness; chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, a chemical that has effects much like amphetamines. It’s a feeling of alertness, not unlike the feeling you get in the early stages of romance—very different from a slap-in-the-face coffee buzz.

4. Chocolate equals love:

Speaking of love, the association might not be completely physiological. Women crave chocolate more often than men do. Women are also habitually given chocolate as birthday and Valentine’s Day presents. In our culture, chocolate is thought of as a romantic gift. It’s outside the realm of mundane, day-to-day food, reserved for special occasions–and, for women especially, it’s associated with love and romance. That could be another reason why women particularly love chocolate: deep down, it makes them feel loved, cared for, and pampered.

3. Being Addicted to Chocolate won’t get you arrested:

Hell, it’s a drug alright, but you can get away with it. Nobody is going to say anything to you if you eat 2 whole bars of chocolates by yourself and get a sugar rush (er, we’re not counting your dietician or trainer, if you have one). You could bask your joys in bites of chocolate or drown your sorrows in that delectable cocoa taste, and can have as much as you want. Either way, you won’t get into trouble with the law.

2.  Chocolate is great for your sex life:

Even the Aztecs believed that chocolate has aphrodisiac properties.  There might be some truth to those old legends.  Recent studies have shown that women who eat a little bit of chocolate a day have significantly more sex than women who don’t.  Possibly because their boyfriends who show up at their doorsteps have a box of Truffles in hand maybe those brain-soothing chemicals found in chocolate encourages the brain to release more of those “feel good” chemicals as it’s eaten.  Chocolate just makes us feel good – which is a key ingredient for a healthy sex life.  The Moral of This Story?  Feel good, Look good, have good sex!

1. Chocolate melts at 97°F.:

That’s right, just below body temperature.  So it actually does melt in your mouth.  That also means if you put a Hershey’s Kiss on your sweetie’s stomach, it will slowly melt into a little pool of chocolate. Uh oh… you’d better clean that up.  And who knows where things will go from there! 😉

While we love chocolate, we also recommend you have it in moderate quantities (minus those occasional binges). Some dark chocolate a day would keep you happy and positively glowing! Do you have any other reasons as to why you love chocolate? Do leave your comments below. Team Zoink! would love to hear it! 🙂

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/317031

Book of the Month: Like Water for Chocolate

Must read for food lovers.

Recipe books are not thrilling for the typical reader and story books are not thrilling for cooks. But when a love story is poured into a recipe book, you have a combination that is arousing to the senses like few other books would ever do.

Laura Esquivel gives you a story of a woman in love and whose only outlet for expression – passion, agony, ecstasy that is being in love- is through food. The title ‘Like water to chocolate’ refers to the Spanish phrase which alludes to the boiling point of extreme emotions like anger, passion and sexuality.

Love and Food.. the two essentials!

 

 

We all have our moments when we reached out to food to express. Sometimes it’s eating that tub of ice cream or a bar of chocolate when you had the most horrible day. Or baking a cake because you can’t contain the excitement or just want to try something new. Or missing Amma’s mango chutney she makes whenever we fall sick. Or eating ginger cookies and getting nostalgic about the ones that grandma used to make 🙂 And just like food is universal, so is love. We’ve had our crushes, fallen in love, got bruised, picked up the pieces and for some lucky people, had their happy endings.

Which is why when the combination is put forth, the result is something which is entirely relatable and yet, Laura’s added her own secret ingredient which makes it equally elusive and magical.

The book is told in 12 parts, one for each month of the year and each starts with a recipe. When we start reading , it seems more like recipe book which incidently has a story woven in. But slowly and steadily, keeping the kitchen and cooking as the central point, she builds her characters and the complexities between them. The main point of the story revolves around Tita and Pedro who are unable to come together because of social customs and traditions. It is Tita’s joy,frustration,anger which gives fruit to marvelous culinary delights and recipes.

One of the things we loved about the book was the revelation of ingredients- the various permutation and  combinations which we had not though of before. One of the key turning points in the book revolve around quail in rose petal sauce.  Rose?! Who would have thought of adding roses to meat? Then there are the culinary secrets, like how to make the most perfect cup of hot chocolate! How are we not supposed to love such a book?

It’s hard to believe that this is Laura Esquivel’s first book because she displays a wonderful sense of balance. Sometimes she overwhelms you with recipes, the descriptions of it’s preparation and we are lost, mesmerised by the scents that’s arising from the stove.

Then just as suddenly we are swept away in emotions and drama of the story. More over the language is highly reminiscent of Marquez’s “One hundred years of solitude”  since it’s written in ‘magical realism‘. It’s a work of a wonderfully talented writer who knows her food.

All in all, whether you are someone who loves to read or just someone who loves food and cooking then this is a book that you have to get hold of.

Ps: Do let us know what you thought about the book. Or if you try one of the recipes! 🙂

F.A.P.S. Food Fest – Photoblog

The Crackers Stall! No, not fireworks. Prawn and Garlic crackers.

This kid is not shy of the Coconut Shye.

Bull's Eye!

Er. Wrong target.

How can you possibly ring the ducks when they don't even stand still for the camera?

Goodies from Candice's stall

"Save me a seat and a bite to eat."

Ms. Candice with all of her baked goodness

A glimpse of the food stalls.

Veggies. Something about that colour.

Robin Uthappa casually checking out the stalls and trying the yummy eats.

Till the MC announced to everyone that he was there and he had to flee.

Delicacies from Lucette's stall!

Lucette and Michael at the kitchen.

"Burn your bum with hot Liver & Heart Fry, Come cool it off with Piggy Boy!"

When we spotted Captain Haddock! 🙂

Beef Sand'witch' anyone?

Pics:

Amith Krishnan,

Zoink! Foodographer