Sharmi on the Trot

Travelling, Exploring, Eating…

Archive for the month “January, 2014”

Baked sausages on a rainy day

Hot from the oven!

Hot from the oven!

There’s something warm and comforting about sausages. There are various kinds to choose from in the supermarkets or at specialised shops. (Oh Viktualienmarkt, how I miss thee!) But on a rainy day, the way any type of sausage uplifts your mood is beyond comparisons. In fact, a friend texted saying how much he was enjoying cocktail sausages cooked in butter watching the rain pitter-patter down the window pane today!

I enjoy the rains but not on a winter day when you should be out exploring. With rains playing spoilsport for over two days now, Delhi is cold and drab to the point that hot coffee with nutmeg is not helping.

So, how did I cheer myself up? Making a sausage and tomato bake of course! Vegetarians don’t worry. You can substitute the chicken/pork sausages with the soy ones you get in the market.

Sausage bake with herbs and tomatoes 

Ingredients 

8-10 pork/chicken sausages
3 big ripe tomatoes (chopped)
Handful of cherry tomatoes
7-8 button mushrooms (chopped)
2 sprigs rosemary
2 tbs dried oregano
2 tbs dried thyme
5 cloves of garlic (chopped)
Salt and pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil

The method

Preheat the over to 200°C. Then toss in all the ingredients, coat well with the olive oil and put into bake for 40 minutes. Remember to keep the sausages on top. After the first 20 minutes, turn the sausages. And 40 minutes later, voila! Serve with bread, rice or boiled vegetables. Enjoy!

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The Paella craving

I don’t know about you but Facebook is suddenly flooded with this thing known as ‘which city should you live in’. And, almost everyone on my friends list keeps posting Barcelona as their choice. Well, that got me thinking, dreaming about my summer in Barcelona. Gaudi, beaches, sangria, Camp Nou and heavenly paella. What more could I ask for?

Every country has a famous rice-based dish. What biryani and pulao is to India, paella serves the purpose in Spain. Though it started off as a humble dish, visitors flock to Spain every summer just to soak up the sun and taste paella.

Each day in Barcelona was something new for me. Friends, unbelievable architecture… it was such a gorgeous city. I spoke to a friend living there two days ago and she kept asking me to visit soon. Well, someday I know I will go back but this winter evening I needed the warmth and comfort of paella to make me smile. The perfectly cooked saffron-scented rice, the tangy lemon juice sprinkled on every mouthful… Every bite made me long for the city and I thought, just for a moment, I was back at Parc Guell admiring Barcelona which lay before me in all its glory.

Home cooked chicken paella

Ingredients

250 g boneless chicken (cut into bite sized pieces)

4 tb olive oil

1 cup rice (medium grain works best)

1 carrot (chopped)

Handful of french beans (chopped)

1 capsicum (chopped)

3 cups chicken stock

1 onion (chopped)

1 tomato (chopped)

3 cloves garlic (peeled and chopped)

saffron (be generous, it gives the gorgeous golden colour)

salt to taste

Serves: 2

The method

Heat oil (about 2 tb) in a flat pan and brown the chicken. Keep aside and add the remaining oil. Saute the onion and garlic. Then add the tomato and cook till tender. Then, add the carrots and beans. Add salt at this point. Once the vegetables are tender, put in the rice and toss about till every grain is nicely coated with the oil. Now comes the best part. Pour in the stock (hot but not steaming) and add the saffron. Put the browned pieces of chicken back in. Put the heat on medium and cover pan with a lid. Let the steam work its magic. 20 minutes later, take off the lid to see fluffy golden rice. Garnish with coriander and lemon. Serve hot!

Paella!

Paella!

PS: I prefer extra veggies when its a chicken/meat paella. Healthy living you see!

The organic debate

I recently received an invite for an organic event in Calcutta (or Kolkata). That got me thinking about the wave of free-range and organic produce found in the markets today. If you like Jamie Oliver’s cooking shows as much as I do, you’ll know that he promotes organic produce for the benefit of the consumers.

I started reading up on ‘why organic’. Yes, I won’t buy ready-to-eat meals or packaged soups and pastas but I would buy ingredients, say like eggs, without really thinking whether they were free range or not. I spoke to a friend who owns an organic food/retail company called Living Free. “It’s the question of the choice one makes,” she said when I questioned why would someone pay a lot more to buy free range eggs. “The idea is to reduce packaged food consumption and increase the intake of fresh produce. It’s about getting people to understand there are healthy options. We are here to spread awareness about holistic living,” she said.

A simple google search will give you thousands of reasons why people are choosing to go organic against the processed and packaged. But of course you will find skeptics calling this a fad. When one describes organic produce, one believes they have been obtained without the use of chemicals and synthetic fertilizers. Though there are claims of organic food tasting better, I honestly haven’t consciously gone shopping keeping in mind that I must buy such products. But as a keen student of food, I would definitely love to try it out.

I wish I was there but for all you in Calcutta (Kolkata), if you have the time and are keen on checking out organic produce and fashion, do drop in at Jhaal Farezi (near Park Circus) on January 12!

What do you feel about the organic- non-organic debate?

Five resolutions you can actually accomplish in 2014

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Happy 2014 to you all from chilly Delhi! I’m back to base after a much-needed break, enjoying the warmth and pampering at home but a new year has begun which means my head is just bursting with food ideas and travel plans. Snug under the covers with a cup of hot chocolate in my hands, I had an interesting idea — Resolutions. It’s not earth shattering I know but every January I’ve seen my friends make these elaborate plans of fitting into THAT pair of skinny jeans, losing just those last few pounds, travel more… Well, most of them give up a few weeks into the new year. I realized you need simple and doable goals if you really want to accomplish everything on your list. So, with the first week of January coming to an end, here is my list of simple, very doable resolutions for the travel minded and gastronomically inclined!

Start a travel fund
You could be a budget or high flying traveler but when you’re on the road, it boils down to how much you’ve managed to save to enjoy the places you’re going to travel to. I often hear people say how they wished they could travel more but unless you prioritise, you won’t end up doing it. So, begin a small travel fund. Decide how much you want to save in a month and put it into the account. DO NOT withdraw unless it’s for traveling purposes!

Going to sleep in Sydney!

Going to sleep in Sydney!

Make a wish list
It sounds ambiguous but if you have a full time job and other commitments, start small. In your travel wish list put in a minimum of 14 places you want to travel to this year. Believe me, if you have 14 names (one or two in each month), you’ll end up travelling to at least 9-10 of them. They all don’t have to be trips abroad or far away. Start with that weekend getaway you had been planning for ever but didn’t get around to going. Once the travel bug bites, it stays!

Guess where! Camp Nou was on my wish list in 2013!

Guess where! Camp Nou was on my wish list in 2013!

Get out of your comfort zone
If you’re in Japan, don’t eat at McDonalds, but try the incredibly delicate sushi. If you don’t like it don’t eat it but don’t be afraid to try. Move out of your comfort zone. India is so diverse geographically that the cuisine changes at almost every train station. Get out try the food. You don’t like it, you don’t like it. Same goes for travelling. If you’ve never travelled solo, try it. Don’t say no before even trying something new!

Escargots! Delicious!

Escargots! Delicious!

Start cooking
Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a beginner, you need food to survive. So why not try something at home. Go through cookbooks or watch tv shows to get ideas. Or if you’ve eaten a wonderful meal at a great restaurant, try recreating the flavours at home. Good food makes anyone happy. And when you feel happy you’re ready to take on the world! Start small, say cook once a week, but do start. (My favourite part of travelling is breaking bread with fellow travelers. One die-hard curry-hater even fell in love with Indian food after sampling home-cooked vindaloo in Munich!)
PS: Cooking at home will ensure more travel fund money. Win-win situation!

Attempts to recreate the Wiener Schnitzel but with lamb!

Attempts to recreate the Wiener Schnitzel but with lamb!

Share experiences to inspire
Whether on social media or with friends, start sharing what you loved or didn’t work for you on your trip. Your words may help someone else plan their travels or inspire some to go where they hadn’t thought of before. Start using travel friendly websites to stay or meet new people in different cities. You won’t regret making new friends this year!

To friends, old and new :)

To friends, old and new 🙂

What are your 2014 resolutions?

The Christmas hangover

I know its a bit late but I think I’m still suffering from a Christmas hangover. Every year I make it a point to go home (Calcutta) because Delhi really doesn’t feel Christmasy during the 25th. That’s a little weird considering the temperature in the Capital dropped to 2 degrees in the last week of 2013!

So this year as usual, I packed my little bag and went home to celebrate the joys of Christmas at home. We don’t really celebrate the festival (do go for the candlelight midnight mass at St Paul’s Cathedral on Christmas eve if you find yourself in Calcutta) but it’s the food which puts a big smile on my face.

Fish mousse!

Fish mousse!

Let me elaborate. Every Christmas since the past eight years, I’ve been invited for lunch at my friend Brett’s house. Every year when I go back, the house feels so warm and inviting, decorated beautifully with ornaments, candles and Christmas knick knacks. His mum, Paula, is a fantastic cook and singlehandly feeds over 20 people on 25th cooking more than ten dishes, desserts AND starters. There’s something for everyone. Start with chicken liver pate, cold cuts, Christmas cake and of course drinks of your choice. My mouth starts salivating just looking at the lunch table covered with Christmas specialities that have a Goan influence. You have a pork and chicken roast alongside sorpotel and prawn malai curry. Not to mention pork vindaloo and mutton curry (that’s a Bengali favourite) with rice. So, as you can imagine, my jeans have just gotten a bit tighter!

Bring on the pork roast!

Bring on the pork roast!

The Christmas lunch!

The Christmas lunch!

Paula has magic in her hands when making desserts. She started The Sweetiere ( http://www.facebook.com/TheSweetiere ) and has been flooded with requests for classes on hand made chocolates. They are so divine I wish I could have carried some back to Delhi!

Paula Fernandes

Paula Fernandes

Cake and cookies anyone?

Cake and cookies anyone?

I had a fantastic Christmas surrounded by family, friends and gorgeous food. Hope you’ll had a fabulous Christmas too and wishes for a wonderful year ahead 🙂

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