Friday, December 31, 2010

Mesmerized by the Maldives!

I was more than excited when R first gave me the news that he had won the Business innovation Service award 2010 at work. Along with a shiny trophy came a "Luxurious City Break" anywhere we wished! Anywhere we wished - like where? Believe me, finalizing a destination isn't easy at all especially when its an all paid vacation! We finally boiled down to - Italy & Spain, Greece & Turkey and The Maldives. We had to do this trip in December for certain reasons and decided on the sunny Maldives!
Deciding the resort in Maldives was another story!

Maldives is made up of tiny islands in clusters called Atolls. Wikipedia describes an atoll as : An atoll (pronounced /ˈætɒl/[1] or English pronunciation: /æˈtɒl/) is an island (or islands) of coral that encircles a lagoon partially or completely.
For me a breathtaking stretch of turquoise blue water, white sands and clear blue skies - a wonder of the world.

We spent four amazing days at the Paradise Island Resort between the 4th and 8th Dec. The resort is located close to the capital city of Male. We reached Male on a bright and sunny morning of Dec 4 and were transferred by speed boat to our resort. Our beach cottage no. 358 was very close to the water bungalows and faced an awesome shallow lagoon. We are not great swimmers and loved the lagoon.
The resort houses a diving school which rents out snorkeling equipment for about $10 per person for a day. The resort also has a well equipped Water-sports center. The weather was pretty unpredictable so most water sports activities had been called off. Not that it mattered very much to me - I am not an adrenaline junkie!
The Aramu spa at the hotel is really beautifully done up and we spent almost two- half days there. (was pretty pricey though).
The Resort houses four different restaurants, a coffee shop, a main bar and a beach bar enough for the two of us!
The main restaurant is open for buffet meals and has a well laid out large spread.

All in all, there is lots to do and nothing to do at the same time. R & I spent the sunny bits of our days lazying on the white sand beaches admiring the fish within the almost bleached coral. On the rainy evenings, we spent our time exploring the tiny tropical island and the various hues of nature. During one of our evening walk sessions we discovered a huge white sand beach/bank and witnessed the most mesmerizing sunset.
Maldives left us wondering how on earth did the Lord even design a natural phenomenon like this place. It is way beyond words and can only be experienced!

Some suggestions:
1. Incase you use spectacles, buy disposable lenses if you are planning to snorkel or go diving.
2. I found the souvenir shop at the hotel cheaper than the ones at the airport. (by almost a dollar per product)
3. The people at the dive school are great! Dont miss snorkeling at the House reef.
4. It helps to keep a few tidbits. We carried instant Cup - o -noodles for a snack just after a swim. (the room is equipped with an electric kettle)
5. Visa for Indians is free on arrival. Just stamp and go.
6. Flying from Bangalore saves considerable amount of money.

I will upload the pics shortly.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sweet November!

After the experimental biryani, it was time for some mushroom manchurian. The result was a pretty picture. More on that later!
October end brought with it a "much awaited good news" and following that a November of "To Do Lists" - somethings that I had been planning in the further most corner of my brain can now finally be put onto an excel sheet and shaped as per plans.
So now there are 4 different lists -
1. Vacation,
2. Good news list- 1
3. Good news List -2
4. Good news List -3
The vacation list is almost done. Now its just - come Dec 3, pack and go.
For the rest of the lists - can someone please press fast forward - I cant wait untill April!
All of this might sound gibberish now - but wait for it while it unfolds!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wannabe housewife!

A rainy Saturday morning like today stirred up some serious thoughts in my mind - I cant cook for nuts! For years I've been pretty much sure that I have been genetically imbibed by my mum's cooking skills that are possibly lying dormant in me. Yes, Ive seen my eldest sister carry them into our generation, but now I can certainly say that they don't seem to have moved any further. So here I am - a wannabe cook shaking up my sleepy cooking skills.

After a few experiments in my kitchen I can safely say that cooking Rice is my forte - therefore my recipe for the day is An Easy Chicken Biryani. I have spoken, questioned and wondered at length about the easiest way to romance spiced chicken legs & breasts with basmati rice. With inputs from my friend in the cab, colleague at office, sister in the U.S. and Sanjeev Kapoor's Khana Khazana I present my Recipe De Chicken Biryani.

Basmati Rice
Curd - 1 cup
Ginger- garlic paste - I prefer the homemade version
Green Chilies (Optional)
Biryani masala - Chicken masala works well
Onions - 3 big onions sliced
Garam Masala - Cloves, Peppercorn, Javitri, Cinnamon sticks, jeera, elaichi, bay leaves
Red chili powder, turmeric, coriander powder
Mint & Coriander leaves
A few strings of saffron added to a spoon of milk for color

How to Cook:
1. Soak the Rice for about 30 mins
2. Wash and clean the chicken. Make deep cuts for it to marinate well.
3. In order to marinate the chicken, add salt, chili powder, turmeric, ginger garlic paste, green chillies, crushed choti elaichi, coriander powder, some of the mint and coriander leaves. Mix well and keep aside for an hour.
4. To boiling water, add salt & rice. Some cinnamon powder will add to the flavour.
5. Now, watch the rice boil and take it off the heat just before fully cooked. Timing is super important.
6. In a deep heavy bottomed pan, add oil and all the garam masala. To this add the sliced onions and fry. Once the onions are brown, remove some for garnishing.
7. To the remaining onions, add the chicken marinade and cook well. A little water can help.

The skill actually lies in cooking the chicken and rice together.
8. Spread a little oil in a deep handi.
9. Now add a layer of chicken, then rice and the fried onions. Repeat the layers.
10. The finishing layer should be rice. Spread some coriander and mint leaves. Finish by adding the spoonful colored saffron milk.
11. Cook on indirect flame (put the handi on a tawa) for 15 - 20 mins on medium to low flame.
12. The handi must be tightly covered!
13. Serve hot with onion - tomato raita & green chutney.

I hope to post a pic of my Easy Chicken Biryani by evening today!