Mykonos Island, Greece

10623467_10152595696779272_196362759546437033_o

From Athens, we had planned to check out the famous party island – Mykonos! We loved this island. It had everything we love – good food, beaches and the ambiance or the feel. I had planned to just relax in Mykonos! And, spend as much time as possible to enjoy the water and outdoor. Our boat stopped at this beautiful village called Ermoupouli on the way to Mykonos. It was such a cute little village. 1622762_10152595694124272_2117248005077310656_n10658514_10152595694494272_3183860127568579927_o10661655_10152595695759272_5328178577351868763_o10629270_10152595695429272_6729773640379648585_o

On our way to the beach, there were so many photo opportunities  on our way with scenic views that we would stop and capture those moments. We went to couple of beaches. The first day we stopped by paradise beach. There was loud music going on and most of the people were youngsters. So, we thought its the perfect place for us , just kidding. It was a nice beach and so we decided to spend our day there.10482390_10152595697944272_6078699629432652893_n

Every island in Greece has these nooks and corners and cobbled streets to go around. Sometimes, I felt that we were going to go into someone’s house. So, interesting and they would connect sometimes to other paths.1470256_789432601100393_8173982257003144089_n

The famous pelican sighting! People were running behind him to take a snap. Kids were so excited and adults alike. I was also excited to see a pelican. IMG_465110443266_10152595696319272_7637777325503177053_o

These windmills were so famous and added an interesting sight along the seaside. We took lots of pictures near the mills. I didn’t realize but my friends told me that some bollywood movies were filmed at this location and they had seen these windmills in some bollywood songs. It was really interesting to know something that I had no idea about.

The next day was spent at another beautiful beach.

St. Agios Beach, was one of our favorite beach. You have to be comfortable to hike down to the beach through some big rocks. It is not at all difficult and took about five minutes. The water was really clear. Like most of the beach this was more like an adult nude beach. There were a couple of beaches which were meant to be family beach specially families with kids. They were really crowded and honestly we wanted to spend sometime alone.

1978833_789591711084482_2989257005075193422_n10372166_10152595699324272_6690913000887657569_n10644196_10152595699979272_1435715072170133120_o10262153_10152595699289272_3469718832984048455_n

Most of the Grecian Islands are famous for their sunsets. And, everyday we enjoyed a good sunset. It was just mind blowing. Look at the pictures.

I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Avocado Lassi!

Avocado Lassi!

DSC_8449 edits

Ingredients:

Makes 2 tall glasses

1 Avocado
1 cup Plain Yogurt
3 tablespoons honey
1 Teaspoon Lime juice
1 cup Milk (more or less, depending on your preference for the consistency)
1/4 cup Dried fruits or nuts of your choice. Almonds, cashews, pistachios and sultanas are all great. (Soaking the nuts beforehand so that when you are trying to blend them in the lassi it is easier).
pinch of Salt

DSC_8435 edits

 

Lassi is the famous drink from India. Punjab state enjoys more lassi then any other place. But, with recent times, the drink has become popular in most of the parts of India. It is usually made with yogurt, water, some spices and sometimes fruit is added.

The most common lassi is either slightly salty or the sweeter one. But, as time went by people started adding fruits to it and thus there are fruit versions like infamous mango lassi.

I think Mango lassi is probably famous only in the US and other countries then India. We are more used to the salty and sweet lassi. Back in India, there is a lassi shop in a famous college neighborhood. They have their most popular lassi known as dry fruit lassi. It is made with lots of dry fruits and is slightly sweet.

So, when there was a contest announced on food52 about avocados. I decided to submit a recipe of avocado lassi. So, honestly my lassi is adapted from the dry fruit lassi that my husband is really fond of. We do not get Avocados in India, atleast when I lived there. So, it was more like an experiment. Dry fruits blends well with avocados and is healthy too. You can serve it as lassi shots at summer gatherings. Though my recipe did not win the contest it was picked as community pick.

Avocado Lassi

Here’s the review on Food52 Review: PistachioDoughnut’s Avocado Lassi is my new go-to weekday breakfast. Creamy and sweet, it is also healthful, although disguised as an indulgence (I love it when that happens). As a bonus, it could not be simpler – just add and blend. I have made it quite a few times now and found that with my regular blender, soaking the nuts overnight helps to combine the ingredients more easily as well as adding a touch more milk (or water) if it gets too thick. I also prefer starting out with half of the amount of nuts, pureeing to combine and adding more to taste. Halving the recipe is perfect for one! (less) – gingerroot

DSC_8453 mukvano

Gingerroot has already tried it , what are you waiting for. Go, cool  yourself with this lassi.

I would say Keep Calm and Drink Lassi! Enjoy

Second last pic is by James Ransom from Food52, all others are taken by me.

Day trip to Aegina Island and fresh pistachios! 

 

Island Map

Island Map

Out of rest of our stay in Athens, we had planned to visit nearby Island by ferry or speed boat. There were many organized trips available which took you to three different islands giving you brief time at each place but instead of that we decided to only visit one  of the islands as we wanted to spend some quality time at one island rather than island hopping to three different places and not be able to enjoy thoroughly one place.

More specifically we chose Aegina island because it was one of the largest pistachio growing island. I was already excited to be visiting Aegina island being a big fan of pistachios.

We took a speed boat to Aegina which took us there in around 30-40 minutes. Aegina is a very small island and if you rent a motorbike you can get around pretty easily and cover the whole island because that’s what we did.

As soon as we got off the ferry, we rented a motorbike. I have to say, my husband was most excited to ride a motorbike. That’s how we grew up, driving two wheeler back in India.

Close to port of Egina

Close to port of Egina

We got a map of famous or must visit places from the bike rental company and I had also done little bit of research so with that we headed off to explore the island immediately after renting the bikes.

We went to this beautiful church called Agios Nektarios.

Agios Nektarios

Agios Nektarios

Then we got back to our road trip, and went to the other end of the island to beach agia marina, spent some time there and on our way back to port stopped to see the Temple of Aphaia.

Temple of Aphaia

Temple of Aphaia

10655177_10152580834634272_8683306192653693103_o

The views were amazing as some parts were hilly and gave us a height to enjoy the scenery.

DSC_5457

Cypress trees and scenic view

On our way, we came across so many pistachio fields, lemon groves, pomegranate trees, olives and fig trees. You name it and we have got it. It was so much fun specially the open pistachio fields. I had never thought of seeing fresh pistachios for real. We stopped and took several pictures.

DSC_5504

10417549_789425287767791_1971156408955377939_n

DSC_5492

After that, we headed to village Perdika. From the port of Aegina heading south along the coast road towards Marathonas bay the road leads to the fishing village of Perdika.

DSC_5521

On our way to Perdika

We had amazing lunch at this restaurant called Remetzo in Perdika. Such simple ingredients and so delicious and it had amazing views. It was not at all crowded and we felt like we had that place to ourselves. If you plan to see Aegina island , try to visit this restaurant you will definitely not regret.

IMG_4507

Lunch with a view

 After spending some time and having lunch, we headed back to port to do some pistachio shopping. We bought some pistachio butter and pistachios and enjoyed gelato from a nearby gelato shop and waited for our ferry to take us back to Athens.

We were tired after going home but were looking forward to the next day as to what would it bring to us.

Pistachio butter and creme. Ohh so delciious!

Pistachio butter and creme. Ohh so delciious!

IMG_4523

Pistachio stands

DSC_6506 222222

Pistachios

 

Trip to Athens!

10514556_10152580831864272_2169019793795342364_n

Finally, I took some time out from my laziness to write about our Greece trip which we took in September 2014. I was super excited about this trip. It was our first trip to Europe and Greece is so beautiful in pictures that it was first thing on my bucket list to see in Europe. We stopped at Paris for one day and from Paris we came down to Athens. We spent about three and half day in Athens.

We had our morning flight from Paris to Athens. By noon, we were in Athens and then took metro train to our rental apartment. It was a nice residential area where we stayed and close to most of the places. It had a small living room, tiniest kitchen which had everything we needed and a spacious bedroom. Our host was waiting for our arrival. Tatiana, our host was very kind enough to talk to us and suggest us few places to eat and get around. She showed us how to get the trolley. We use to take trolley from Zakinthou street. She also showed us how to make greek style coffee. It’s always fun to meet local people. 

Soon we got ready and decided to spend the rest of the half day to hike to acropolis site and spend our evening there.

1614228_10152580833709272_8393462230999234551_o

Acropolis site from Lycabettus hill

 

10683742_10152580833199272_4349696676635871490_o

Erectheum

10536578_10152580830724272_8364961327485781605_o

10603623_10152580830719272_128123863358250870_n

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

It was the best decision as the sun was going down and perfect pictureque sky. Look at that view. We could not get enough of it. We spent quite sometime at the top. After Acropolis we hiked back through Plaka seeing beautiful churches on the way and ended our day dining in the busy neighborhood close to the Museum. Our first day in Athena ended with amazing Greek food and fresh pistachios that a vendor was selling on a small cart.

The next day we started our trip by taking a cab and visited the lycabettus hill or likavitos hill, Olympic Stadium, Temple of Zeus, and many other sites.

10623334_10152580833799272_6450312606857637252_o

Olympic Stadium

10426739_789424374434549_3441157043332544063_n

Statue at the stadium

10626319_10152580833409272_243864619320440946_o

Open Air theatre (Orange/Yellow) at Likavitos Hill

At metro station

At metro station

 We could not see the change of guards ceremony at Snytagma Square, but one of the days we were travelling around the square and saw guards moving towards Snytagma Square. They guards looked handsome, I think overall Greek men are really really handsome.

Changing of the guards

Changing of the guards near Syntagma Square

Temple of Olympian Zeus

Temple of Olympian Zeus

DSC_5423

Local Greek Men playing traditional games

DSC_5425

Monastiraki Square

We did lot of people watching at Monastiraki . It is a very crowded place. And, also a great neighborhood for shopping. Yes, I said it shopping. We bought lot of things from here. Most of the sites are accessible by foot. We used mixed means of transportation. Most of the time we used the trolley, tram, bus, metro and cab. Cabs are really cheap, as the distance is very short between most of the sites. Athens is really accessible by all means. I have to say though, be careful people drive very fast as there are lot of two wheeler drivers.

Overall, Greek people are very generous and helpful. On our very first day, we met this old lady sitting at a tram station and I tried asking her the direction to our apartment. I have to say she saved our trip because we were going to get into wrong tram and go into totally wrong direction. She spoke no English and I spoke not a word in Greek but she was so helpful and it made me really happy that without knowing the language we both communicated and it worked out. We wete not suppose to take that damn tram glad I asked the old lady. After missing our trolley we decided to cab. 

As I said earlier, cabs are really cheap and you will get some funny talkative and humble cab driver. Our’s made sure that we know where to get the bus for our rest of the trip. I thought he would make sure to drop us inside our apartment , he was that gracious and helpful. Overall, Greek people are very hospitable. 

Athens reminded me so much of India. The people are always eager to help and the lifestyle. The way people dry their laundry outside their apartments and the way people drive ruthlessly.

I was eagerly waiting to see what would the next day bring to us. We had planned to visit a nearby island and do a day trip. More about it in the next post. Until then “Kalimera” ! 

All the pictures are taken by my talented husband! 

Vegetarian Manchurian – Indian Chinese dish!

 

DSC_6407

Do you know that there is nothing like a spicy and warm bowl of Indian Chinese food during winter like  soup or a dish called Manchurian or Hakka noodles which fall under Indian Chinese food category?

Indian Chinese food is adaptation of Chinese flavors and cooking techniques but suitable to Indian tastes. Originally, Indian Chinese cooking became famous or developed when Chinese immigrants moved to Calcutta now known as Kolkata  in 18th century. Chinese cuisine is very popular within Indian communities. It is really different from the authentic Chinese dishes and often influenced by Indian flavors.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of Indian Chinese Food then I would recommend this article.  It is interesting to know how one culture can influence others through food and has a wonderful result. With out further ado, try it for yourself with this recipe. Please don’t freak out with the list of ingredients.  I usually have most of them in my kitchen and I am sure you do too.

DSC_6403

Ingredients:

For the vegetarian balls:

4-5 medium sized shredded carrots

1/2 cups Shredded cabbage

1/2 cups shredded green bell pepper

1 tbsp Green Chilies

1 tbsp Ginger

1 tbsp Garlic

1/2 cup boiled rice

¼ cup bread crumbs

3 tablespoons Corn starch

Salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

Oil for frying

For the Sauce:

1 tbsp oil

1/2 Green Bell pepper, cubed

1/2 onion, cubed

1 teaspoon Chopped green Chilies

1 1/2 teaspoon Chopped Ginger

1 1/2 teaspoon Chopped garlic

salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

3 tbsp Soy Sauce

2 tsp Corn starch

1 tsp sugar or honey

1/4  cup Scallions

1 cup water or vegetable stock

Garnish – Chili oil

IMG_5186

DSC_6393Method for the balls

Shred the vegetables using a food processor . Make sure you do not blend it and make a paste. Because it is easy to do so. In a separate bowl add corn starch, bread crumbs, boiled rice, vegetables, salt pepper, soda bicarbonate, ginger chili paste, soy sauce and mix well. Add two tablespoons of water if needed. First check whether you can form balls without adding extra water. There is usually water from the vegetables that helps bind everything together.

Make rounds about the size of tennis ball out of the mix and deep fry them until golden and crisp. Keep them aside till we are ready to serve them. Lot of times, I make a big batch and then once they cool down, store them in ziploc bags to and freeze them for future use. It saves so much time and the sauce hardly takes 10 mins to prepare.

Method For the sauce/ gravy –

Take oil in pan, saute the onions and green bell peppers. Add ginger, garlic and chilies. Mix well. Let it cook for couple of minutes and add soy sauce.

Dissolve 2 teaspoon corn starch in 1 tablespoon of water. Mix the cornstarch mixture to the pan. Add in the sugar, salt and black pepper and the 1 cup of water. Mix well. Let it simmer for sometime and add in half of the scallions.

Once the sauce thickens, add the fried manchurian balls to the sauce. Let it cook for two minutes and soak in the gravy. Garnish it with remaining half of the scallions. If I am making this dish for a party or so, I would only add the manchurian balls just few hours before serving so as to avoid them becoming more soggy and loosing its shape.

You can also freeze the sauce. Only thing you have to keep in mind is that once you defrost it, it will have thickened because of cornstarch so much that you need to add water and may be season it a little bit.

DSC_6398

DSC_6401

IMG_5190

 

I served them with hakka noodles. I will share the recipe some other day. But you can serve it with boiled rice. You can also make fried rice out of the gravy and balls and serve it as rice dish. Either ways you will love this dish.

Bon Appetite!