DHANSAK [dhan=rice AND sak=mixed vegetable dal]

The first thing I am asked to prepare each time I have a guest coming home! Dhansak, a popular Parsi dish which is not that unique, but somehow, has appealed to the tastebuds of many many people. Infact, the dish¬†is so popular that I even had a friend who never tasted it, narrated just how he loved it!! ūüôā

This is basically a Sunday Must in every Parsi home, usually prepared with Mutton/Tender Lamb as the first option, or alternately with Chicken or simply Veg. We shall learn the Veg option below as one has the option of adding meat of their choice as they desire…

This Dish Serves 5-6 persons

Ingredients : 

  • 2 cup toor dal
  • 1 cup moong dal
  • 1 cup orange masoor dal
  • 2 small onions
  • Ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 teaspoons each of turmeric, red chilli, garam masala, and dry dhansak masala powders
  • 2 tsp of methi seeds
  • 1 small slice pumpkin
  • 1 small capsicum
  • 2 small brinjals (about 1 cup chopped)
  • Salt to taste, 3-4 tblsp oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon

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Preparation :

Time to Prepare : 15 minutes

Time to Cook : 20-25 minutes [since this is veg, else for mutton could take 45-50 minutes]

  1. Soak all 3 dals together for at least 30 minutes
  2. Heat the pressure cooker and add some oil to it
  3. Once the oil is hot, at medium flame, add the onions and sortè for 1 min
  4. Next add the ginger garlic paste and cook for 2 minutes till the onions are cooked well
  5. Now add all your masalas to the cooker and stir well until your kitchen starts emitting the aromas
  6. This is the time you need to add all your other chopped veggies to the cooker and mix well
  7. Once the veggies are mixed well, add the soaked dal along with 3-4 cups of water and salt to taste
  8. Close the lid and let it cook until 3-4 whistles [if you are cooking meat, please cook it with oil in a separate pan so it doesn’t get overcooked in the cooked]
  9. Remove the cooker from the gas, cool down, and then give it a good stir with a hand beater, you would love the thick rich consistency of this dal

 

Tip for Dhansak Rice : Use good Basmati Rice. In your pot, add oil, cumin seeds, 2-3 peppercorns, cinnamon stick and sliced onions. Once the onions get translucent, add 1 tsp of sugar and stir until it caramelises. Then add the rice and salt to taste with water and allow it to cook as per normal process.

For Veggies – You may serve this dish with Veg Cutlets or Veg Balls

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Voila! Time for me to leave and dig into my Dhansak Pot already. What about you?

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Patra Ni Machhi

For all living in Mumbai, this may sound familiar, but for all my Non-Mumbaiite friends, Patra Ni Machhi is a steamed fish quoted with Green Chutney. You can serve this just as a Starter or even as a Side Dish.

Lets begin the show!

This recipe serves 4

Ingredients :

  • 4 Pomphrets ideally (or any other fish available) or small fillets of basa fish (if serving as starters)
  • 30 gms Mint, Corriander
  • 1 Onion
  • 2-3 Garlic Pods
  • 2-3 Green Chillies
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 2 tblsp Dahi
  • Some Banana Leaves and thread

Preparation :

Preparing Time : 10 minutes

Cooking Time : 10-15 minutes

  • Make a Chutney Paste out of all ingredients mentioned above
  • The consistency of the paste should not be liquid
  • Take the fish and place it on a plate
  • Quote the fish properly from all sides back and forth
  • Now take a banana leaf and place the fish on it
  • Wrap the fish with banana leaf and tie it up with a thread lightly so that it does not open up
  • Ready a steamer until you wrap all other fish
  • Place each fish in the steamer and let it cook for around 10 minutes
  • What Next???? We are done!!

Preferably serve it Hot directly from the steamer!

Kheema Par Eedu – Mutton Mince with Eggs

Its winter season and we all urge for a good weekend brunch. Tired of eating the usual grub all the time, I decided to add a twist to my mutton mince today.

Presenting to you Mutton Mince with eggs which makes a perfect recipe for a quick brunch. So invite all your friends over and serve them this for some great applause!

This recipe serves 4

Ingredients :

  • 1 kg mutton mince
  • 2-3 chopped onions, tomatoes
  • 1 chopped potato
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • 1 tsp turmeric, red chilly, coriander powder, 1/2 pav bhaji masala
  • Ginger garlic paste
  • 4 Eggs
  • Chopped Coriander to Garnish
  • Salt to Taste, 3-4 tblsp Oil

Preparation :

Preparation Time : 10 minutes

Cooking Time : 40-45 minutes

  • Heat a pan and add oil to the same
  • Add Chopped onions and green chillies and sort√® for a couple of minutes
  • Add ginger garlic paste and potato to the pan
  • Mix well for about 2-3 minutes till the potatoes get quoted well
  • Add tomatoes and all the masalas
  • Now cook for 1-2 minutes and then add the mutton mince to the pan
  • Mix everything well and add 2-3 cups of water to the mix
  • Cover it with a pressure lid [not a cooker] and cook till entire water soaks well
  • You can taste the mix once the water has soaked or add more water as desired
  • Once the mince is ready transfer the same to another pan on an aluminium foil on it
  • Heat the gas flame on low and break all 4 eggs on the mixture
  • Once again cover with a lid for 3-4 min on medium flame
  • When you see the eggs ready, garnish with some coriander
  • Serve with Pav sorted in butter

Hungry Already???? Make it this weekend and hog on it!

Akoori – Parsi Egg Bhurji

It’s a Sunday Morning! And our tummies are hungry to much some eggs. Bored of eating the regular boiled egg sandwich or the omelet or egg scramble, I decided to toss up egg in a different manner today.

Parsi Egg Bhurji or the “Akoori” as famously known in all Irani restaurants in the city of Mumbai, will surely feed you well and give you the exact feeling of a lazy relaxed holiday.

This Recipe Serves 4

Ingredients :

  • 4-5 Eggs
  • 2-3 Big Chopped Onions
  • 2-3 Big Chopped Tomatoes
  • 2 Big Green Chillies Cut
  • Ginger Garlic Paste
  • 1/4 litre milk
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1tsp chilli powder
  • Chopped Coriander leaves
  • Salt to Taste
  • 2-3 tblsp cooking oil/ghee/butter

Preparation :

Time to Prepare : 5 minutes

Time to Cook : 10 minutes

  • Heat the pan and add oil to it. If you would like it a bit rich and heavy, you may add ghee or butter in similar proportions.
  • Now Add chopped onions and green chillies to the oil
  • Sort√® for 1-2¬†minutes on medium flame and add ginger garlic paste to it
  • After mixing well for a couple of minutes add chopped tomatoes to the pan
  • Add all spices such as turmeric, red chilli powder and salt to taste
  • Cook well for 2 minutes and then add 1/4 litre milk to the pan ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†[be careful while pouring the milk as it might spill on you from the hot pan]
  • Let it cook for a couple of minutes and when it starts simmering, lower the flame
  • Beat all eggs with a fork in a bowl and add the batter to the pan
  • Once the eggs are added, start mixing them well with a spatula until they mix with the full masala and cook well
  • Garnish with some finely chopped coriander leaves

 

Do serve it HOT right away with 2 slices of toast butter

 

 

13 Lucky Travel Tips

Excitement for Travel is extremely High! And invariably we forget to check the most important lists before leaving for the Journey :

1. Get Your Medical Check Up Done : Double check and make sure that you have all of the proper vaccinations and that you have renewed all essential prescriptions. Also, ask you medical insurance provider if your policy applies overseas for emergencies.

2. DO NOT FORGET YOUR PASSPORT :  If your passport gets stolen or lost you want to be sure that you can still get back into the country, or be able to prove your citizenship. However, there are umpteen incidences when travellers forget to carry passports and only remember while reaching airport

3. Money Matters :  Make sure you do your math before you travel to get a sense of what the conversion rate is at. Carry enough permissible currency to avoid hassles of exchange on arrival

4. Make sure your credit card will work in the country you’re visiting : European banks have switched almost completely to the more secure chip-and-PIN technology, and fewer businesses abroad are accepting the outdated magnetic-strip cards.

5. Always have local cash : Not every place takes credit cards. Especially important places like trains or buses. You must carry nominal cash for sundry expenses

6. Call your bank or credit card provider : Sometimes banks think that fraud may be occurring if transactions are suddenly happening in Bali when you’re from Jersey, and they will turn off your card as a security measure.

7. Check the country’s entrance/exit fees : Some countries require travelers to pay in order to enter or leave the country. These fees are not included in the price of your airline ticket, and can range from $25 to $200. For example, Nairobi airport charges USD 100 in cash. We had to leave the queue, go to ATM and withdraw the money last minute

8. Buy tickets online for places you know you want to visit or see : By buying in advance you’ll be able to skip more lines, and find more deals targeted toward you.

9. Bring a charger adapter : Countries have different size plugs and voltage. So if you want to use your iPod, make sure you can charge it. Do take a Multi plug adapter if possible

10. Check the voltage of your electronics : From my own experience I know that nothing is worse than having an adapter and still not being able to use a blow-dryer or a straightener because the voltage isn’t high enough for that country.

11. Purchase a Local SIM Card with Data : There’s usually a charge for doing this, but it is much less than the roaming charges you’ll get if you don’t.

12. Pack an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag : Just incase your luggage gets lost or undelivered, you should not be stranded in same pair of clothes for 2-3 days

13. Most Important : Be Happy and Cheerful, avoid personal fights if trip not as per your flow. Make the most of it, while you are there!

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Living in the Savannah – Maasai Mara, Kenya

The Maasai Mara National Reserve (also known as Masai Mara and by the locals as The Mara) is a large game reserve in Narok County, Kenya. When it was originally established in 1961 as a wildlife sanctuary the Mara covered only 520 square kilometres (200 sq mi) of the current area, including the Mara Triangle. The area was extended to the east in 1961 to cover 1,821 km2 (703 sq mi) and converted to a game reserve.

About the place :¬†The Maasai Mara National Reserve (MMNR) covers some 1,510¬†km2 (583¬†sq¬†mi)[1] in south-western Kenya. It is the northern-most section of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem, which covers some 25,000¬†km2 (9,700¬†sq¬†mi) in Tanzania and Kenya. It is bounded by the Serengeti Park to the south, the Siria escarpment to the west, and Maasai pastoral ranches to the north, east and west. Rainfall in the ecosystem increases markedly along a southeast‚Äďnorthwest gradient, varies in space and time, and is markedly bimodal. The Sand, Talek River and Mara River are the major rivers draining the reserve. Shrubs and trees fringe most drainage lines and cover hillslopes and hilltops.

How Many Days Should I Spend? – There are multiple forest resorts which are completely electromagnetically fenced to prevent any animal entering the resort. Therefore, once you are in the resort, you are technically cut off from any movement outside and are restricted to some indoor activities in the resort itself. The Game Drives generally happen twice in a day (early morning and 3pm). Rest of the day could get a little boring as there is no TV or wifi connectivity in the rooms. Thus, an ideal of 2Night3Days should be best.

Resort Recommendation Mara Serena is where we stayed and no complaints about the place. The resort is run by Agha Khans and therefore the cuisines cater to the taste of Indian very well. The Rooms are situated in a way that you could actually use a durrbin to spot wild animals at a distance from the bed of your room.

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Game Drives – This is the Main attraction while being cut off from city life. Rise at dawn and leave without breakfast in your jeep into the densed savannah. You should be lucky to get a good enthusiastic driver to be able to have maximum viewing. Generally, the jeeps are interconnected with a teleconnect and inform one another of the spottings. Ensure that you do watch the The Big 5 – Lions, Rhinos, Elephants, Leopards, Buffalo, besides the others numerous spotting of cheetahs, hyenas, jackals, giraffes, zebras, vultures, wild birds, crocodiles, hippos — the last I took so many animal names only during school days ūüôā

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Best Season to Visit the Park –¬†The best wildlife viewing months in Kenya are during the Dry season from late June to October. The wildebeest migration reaches the Masai Mara in July and remains until October when they move back to the Serengeti in Tanzania. Wildlife viewing is good year-round, but this can differ for some parks.

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Maasai Mara is also known as the 8th Natural Wonder of The World! A Must Visit as a Traveller!

Stonehenge, England

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, 8 miles (13¬†km) north of Salisbury. Stonehenge’s ring of standing stones are set within earthworks in the middle of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds.¬†One of the most famous landmarks in the UK, Stonehenge is regarded as a British cultural icon.

Distance from London : Located on the outskirts of London (approximately 90 miles and 2.5hours), a tourist having more days at the Queen’s City must surely plan a day’s visit to this place.

Importance of the Spot :¬†Stonehenge was a place of burial from its beginning to its zenith in the mid third millennium B.C. The cremation burial dating to Stonehenge’s sarsen stones phase is likely just one of many from this later period of the monument’s use and demonstrates that it was still very much a domain of the dead.Mike Parker Pearson, leader of the Stonehenge Riverside Project based at Durrington Walls, noted that Stonehenge appears to have been associated with burial from the earliest period of its existence.

Stonehenge Solstice :¬†Stonehenge was built in three phases between 3,000 B.C. and 1,600 B.C. and its purpose remains under study. However, it‚Äôs known that if you stand in just the right place inside the Stonehenge monument on the day of the northern summer solstice, facing north-east through the entrance towards a rough hewn stone outside the circle ‚Äď known as the Heel Stone ‚Äď you will see the sun rise above the Heel Stone, as illustrated in the image below.

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Stonehenge is tied to the winter solstice, too. At Stonehenge in England on the day of the northern winter solstice (always around December 20), people watch as the sun sets in the midst of three great stones ‚Äď known as the Trilithon ‚Äď consisting of two large vertical stones supporting a third, horizontal stone across the top.

In the case of Stonehenge, this great Trilithon faces outwards from the center of the monument, with its smooth flat face turned toward the midwinter sun. In fact, the primary axes of Stonehenge seems to have been carefully aligned on a sight-line pointing to the winter solstice sunset.

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Recommended? – If you have interest in ancient history and culture, you can spend around 2-3 hours at this place, else it is surrounded by ample greenery which makes a great background for photo stop (y)

Camping by the Riverside – Rishikesh

Located in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India, it is known as the ‘Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas‘¬†and ‘Yoga Capital of the World’.

Embark of this Journey Only if you are Adventurous!

The Route– Approximately 300kms from NCR [Gurgaon Region], it takes around 8-9 hours of road journey with 3-4 stops in between.

The Riverside Camps –¬†Enjoy the natural and beautiful stay near Holy River Ganges in camp facility provided by various facilitators. To enhance your stay and make it wonderful, these tents have been decorated to provide you a homely stay. Each tent can accommodate two beds that are available in the Riverside/Beach Rafting Camp Tents like Lifemission Camp Shivpuri,Camp Valley View, Deluxe Camp Shivashish, Camp Roller Coaster Shivpuri, Marine Drive Beach Camp,Shivpuri Beach Camp, Brahmpuri Beach Camp, Jungle Camp, Luxury Jungle Camp, Devprayag Camp and School Summer Camp. Nutritious food is served, that is cooked in tent kitchen and served to you steaming hot. As tents are near Ganges no electricity is available in these tents. Though, lanterns will be provided after 7pm. For all those people who love fun and adventure, it is an opportunity they would scarcely like to miss.

Rafting on the Ganges РAfter Breakfast, check out of your camp and go to rafting side. Start on a River Rafting from Shivpuri to Rishikesh (16 kms). Today, we hit some of the most exciting rapids on the Ganga i.e. Return to Sender, Roller Coaster, Golf Course, Club house, Initiation, Double Trouble and Hilton. One can try Body Surfing and Cliff Jumping also in this section. In the later part, we float past temples and ashrams and Ghats. Enjoy the riverbank life along the Ganga with some masala tea and hot maggi during the break. Arrive in Rishikesh and the tour ends.

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Recommended For?

  1. The Adventurous and the Fit
  2. Preferably a group of friends or family
  3. Kids below 10-12 maynot be allowed in the rafts
  4. Corporate Workshops

Marseille, France

Marseille, is the second largest city in France after Paris and is situated to the South of France.

Attractions :

  1. The Calanques —- a rugged coastal area interspersed with small fjord-like inlets. It is a narrow, steep-walled inlet that is developed in limestone, dolomite, or other carbonate strata and found along the Mediterranean coast. A calanque is a steep-sided valley formed within karstic regions either by fluvial erosion or the collapse of the roof of a cave that has been subsequently partially submerged by a rise in sea level
  2. The city’s main thoroughfare (the wide boulevard called the Canebi√®re) stretches eastward from the Old Port (Vieux Port) to the R√©form√©s quarter.
  3. Notre-Dame de la Garde (literally Our Lady of the Guard) is a Catholic basilica in Marseille, France. This Neo-Byzantine church was built by the architect Henri-Jacques Espérandieu on the foundations of an ancient fort. The fort was located at the highest natural elevation in Marseille, a 149 m (489 ft) limestone outcropping on the south side of the Old Port of Marseille. It is an important local landmark and the site of a popular annual pilgrimage every year.

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Weather – Unlike Paris, Marseille is warmer, being situated on the coast line. While the temperatures from December from February may not dip below 4degrees, July and August are the hottest months with temperatures ranging between 28-30 degrees. An ideal time for a tourist to visit the place will be April-June when the weather is pleasant yet not too cold or warm.

Culture –¬†Marseille is a city that has its own unique culture and is proud of its differences from the rest of France. Today it is a regional centre for culture and entertainment with an important opera house, historical and maritime museums, five art galleries and numerous cinemas, clubs, bars and restaurants. Marseille has a large number of theatres, including la Cri√©e, le Gymnase and the Th√©√Ętre Toursky. The Alcazar¬†(fr), until the 1960s a well known music-hall and variety theatre, has recently been completely remodelled behind its original fa√ßade and now houses the central municipal library.¬†Marseille has also been important in the arts. It has been the birthplace and home of many French writers and poets.

How Many Days to Spend? – Two Nights will be ideal for one to explore the various points around the city. Evenings look beautiful around the port area, which is completely lit up.

Choice Between Marseille and Nice – While both cities are in the coastal areas, Nice is more commercialised whereas Marseille will give you a feel of modern plus ancient. Both cities have their own characteristics and if time permits, a visit to this city must be ticked off!

 

Udvada, Gujarat The Holy Land of the Parsis in India

A Small Quaint town on the west coast of Gujarat, is popular for its Atash Behram [the holy place for Zoroastrians which has the holy fire burning since days its ignition in Iran]

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Where – Approximately 200 kms up northwest from the city of Mumbai

https://www.google.co.in/maps/dir/Mumbai,+Maharashtra/Udvada,+Gujarat/@19.7562958,72.5946473,8.5z/data=!4m13!4m12!1m5!1m1!1s0x3be7c6306644edc1:0x5da4ed8f8d648c69!2m2!1d72.8776559!2d19.0759837!1m5!1m1!1s0x3be0db13e6822727:0xa13cffa8d27b8b72!2m2!1d72.8722249!2d20.4863158?hl=en

Accessible By – Road (NH-8) or Western Railway Trains.

How did the Holy fire Land Here – In our earlier blog named, “What is Zoroastrianism”, we learnt how the Zoroasts had landed on the coast of Sanjaan and allowed by King Rana to set up base there. Soon, there was an invasion once again by the Muslims of North India and the sacred fire had to be shifted once again. Eventually, after many months of preserving the same at various places, they established the base in Udvada, 30 kms approximately from Sanjaan.

About the place – The village would be inhabited in a few hundreds and gives a vintage feeling. Walking through the by lanes of the place, you can smell the earth and probably hear the sound of waves from far away.

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Restricted to Non-Parsis – The Main area where the Atash Behram is situated is restricted to the Non-Parsis, as the faith strictly does not allow anyone other than a Zoroastrian to visit the place of worship. A Highly Debatable topic in today’s times!