Tasteful Memories

When I was a child, we used spend our summer vacation at both my grandparents’ place. One was an adventure in a wilderness. The other was being pampered after the adventure.

At my maternal grandparent’s house, when we got home from the railway station, I would brush my teeth and run to the kitchen to open all the boxes and have a look. This was one dish that was always in one of the boxes. If my granny didn’t make it before hand, she would make it once I arrived.

 

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Ari-unda

 

It is called ari-unda. Roast the rice, grind it(to your preferred texture), add jaggery that’s melted down with water, grated coconut and roll into balls when it’s still hot. It won’t shape up otherwise.

How can food bring up so many memories!
Now I am off to think about it and stuff myself full of ari-undas.

Food Review: Benjarong, Alwarpet

On the 23rd of April, there was a contest on Twitter by Ola Cabs for Restaurant Week India 2016. And I won a meal for two.

Ten choices were given and we were asked to select three, and as per availability, we got our reservations at Benjarong, Alwarpet.

Benjarong is fine dining place that serves Thai cuisine. It is located conveniently on TTK Road. If you are coming into TTK road from Cathedral road, it falls on your right side. The compound has French Loaf, Teppan and Benjarong. You really can’t miss it, even if TTK Road has many restaurants and eateries across its length. Parking is limited at the compound, but the valet service should help.

Since we visited thanks to Restaurant Week India 2016, we were to select from a menu specially made for the purpose. From these, we get to choose two appetisers, one soup or salad, two main course dishes, two staples, and a choice of desert.

I must say that having never tasted Thai food before, this was an adventure. I had heard fabulous reviews about Benjarong but had not ventured into the world of Thai food before. And so I had no great expectations. But how I was blown away!

Benjarong has a quiet and calm feel to it. The decor is kept simple. There are plain walls highlighted with wood work. This actually makes all the curios and art look that much more wonderful. The restaurant is not one of the places that has an open floor plan. The entire place is segmented off and has a few glass partitions with niches that store art. This actually makes a huge family dinner or a quiet meal for two possible while maintaining a sense of privacy.

Now the food. Once we place our order, there is a platter brought forth to all tables. This platter has baby spinach leaves and peanuts, lime wedges, chopped onions, ginger, sliced red chillies, and roasted coconut gratings and a sauce. We were told, one is supposed to take a spinach leaf and add condiments of one’s choice and pop it in one’s mouth. Once I did this, I knew I was going to have a great meal. The flavour you experience is immense. Given the number of condiments, the possible flavour combinations are huge and very pleasingly delicious.

 

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Welcome Platter!

 For appetisers, we chose Baby Corn Tartlets, Chicken Satay, Raw Mango Salad and Glass Noodle Soup with Chicken Dumpling.

The soup was good and the Chicken Satay was served with a peanut sauce. The sauce was interesting (probably because I had never had it before) and went well with the Chicken Satay.

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Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

The Raw Mango Salad and the Baby Corn Tartlets, I am now a huge fan of these two dishes. Raw mango by itself has a natural ‘tang’ to it. The menu just says Raw Mango Salad, but whatever went into was a winning combo. The dressing, the ingredients, everything in the dish plays very well with one’s palate. Baby Corn Tartlets is baby corn tossed with roasted chilli paste served in rice tartlets. This is again an amazing dish. Like I said before, Fan for life of these two dishes.

For main course we had a Fish in Roasted Chilli Sauce and Thai Green Curry Chicken. To go with Jasmine Rice, Glass Noodles with Vegetables and Mixed Peppers, Flat Noodles Veg in Chilli Basil Sauce. Glass Noodles, as a first timer, won me over. Both noodle dishes were filled with vegetables. It was very delicious, especially since I am veggie lover. The rice though didn’t make me a fan. The fish in Roasted Chilli Sauce was flavorful. It had a tang, was spicy and the fish was cooked to perfection. The Thai Green Curry Chicken was a perfect complement to rice. It looks a bit heavy but on the contrary was light and full of mild flavour.

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Clockwise from top – Fish in Roasted Chilli Sauce, Glass Noodles with Vegetables nad Mixed Peppers, Flat Noodles veg in Chilli Basil Sauce

 

As for quantity, it was more than enough. We were stuffed by the time we were done with the fish and noodles; we took the rice and chicken curry home.

For Desert, Fried Ice cream and Water Chestnut Rubies served with sweetened coconut milk were consumed. I mean there is that time when you feel stuffed, but then they bring out the fried ice cream and all you can think of is how you have space for just that much more. The Water Chestnut in coconut milk came as a complete surprise. This desert was light – perfect since we were already so full. The water chestnut and coconut milk together perform some sort of magic in your mouth.

Overall I would definitely recommend Benjarong to everyone who wants to try Thai.

There must be a special mention of the staff at Benjarong. They were all very attentive and helpful. Everyone who attended to our table knew about the food, and frequently asked us how we found the meal. Benjarong doesn’t need much else if their staff treat their customers this well. In my list, Benjarong definitely is one the places that has the best staff.

If I had a choose three dishes to make a meal, I would choose Baby Corn Tartlets, Raw Mango Salad and finish off with the Water Chestnut in coconut milk.

PS – All photographs were taken in dim light and a bad phone. Apologies.

Fine Blanked.

While I was writing the previous post, thinking of what to write about and all that, I thought I would write my recent shopping experience.

We bought a microwave to replace the old one. The old one, an LG 25ltr, was over a decade old and finally gave up its life. The new one we bought is an IFB 23ltr convection (23bc4). And how we regret the purchase!

Now, let’s talk a little about the brand. IFB (Indian Fine Blanks) has been in India for over 40 yrs, and its home appliances division has been around since the 90’s. They are (supposedly) one of the most trusted brands in the country.

Now our plight. This is the one that started our headaches.

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It comes all nicely packaged and has such a good look to it, doesn’t it?

We bought it from Girias, Mahalingapuram, on Sunday 17th April. They were rather nice and helpful. We even asked if the company had good customer service and they said yes. At the end of the transaction, they informed us that the product would be delivered the next day and the technician would be around within 24 hrs to install and show a demo.

Like promised the product was delivered on Monday evening. And then the wait began. After 24 hours, we called up customer care (in case you didn’t know IFB Customer Care numbers are 1860 425 5678 or 1800 3000 5678). Then we called them afterwards twice a day every day. These people finally gave us numbers of some guy in Chennai who handles these things. I called him up and he said, it would be done today(which was Friday), then tomorrow before 12pm (Saturday). And on Saturday evening, this person didn’t even pick up the call.

Now, it’s Monday Evening and still no one has come by. The thing is, IFB sends you a ticket number first when you buy, which was our reference until today. When we called this morning, to our dismay we were told, that since there was no response on our end, the ticket was closed. How can you close an issue, if you have not resolved it? What sort of moronic response is this?  One gives a landline number, a cell number, and multiple times declared that there is someone always at home and this is the response that is given! After talking to them again today, there is now another ticket number we have for reference. The longevity of this is, again if the experience is to be repeated, questionable.

Normally, I don’t judge people for their language skills. Being multilingual, it is easier for me to talk to people in the language they are comfortable in rather than English if it is not their cup of tea. The IFB customer care fellows have, I can shamefully say, tried my patience on that issue as well.

If the purpose of calling a CC number is to gather information not available by other machine generated means, I want to talk to someone who has that info. These guys, on the other hand, have a standard response.These being –

  • Please note down our technician’s numbers
  • They will surely come Today(if you call in the morning)
  • They will surely come Tomorrow(if you call in the evening)

Now, that is information that can be relayed by a machine.

  • Press 1 if you are a customer ->
  • Press 1 if you want English ->
  • Press 1 if you want a Technician’s number
  • Press 2 if you want a standard response.

Honestly, at this rate, you can get things done faster with a Government office than with IFB.

How can a brand like IFB with the presence and customer base that it has been so callous when it comes to keeping these same customers happy? In our example, as first-time customers of the brand, we are very disappointed and will never again buy an IFB product again. And for sure we are not going to recommend IFB to anyone as well.

You know, perhaps they have named their company well, Indian Fine Blanks. Once you buy an IFB, you may as well have a blank expression.

Making Fine Blanks of Indians for Decades!

You can also refer their Twitter page @IFBAppliances or any other forum to look through many such issues. Some unresolved issues dating back months even.

UPDATE: Finally, they came on 25 April. Installed and Demo was done. FINALLY!!!!!

 

Habit forming.

There I was sitting and wondering what to write about and thought I would just write – for the sake of keeping my blog updated.

Anyway, I discovered a fantastic app recently. Its called Fabulous. I have been using it for a week or so, and its been amazing. You can certainly see that there are some changes to routine (essentially that I have been doing these things) and also in the time period designated. It has definitely been good to me in terms of creating a habit and managing time in a way. I am definitely thinking of adding a “Blog” to my to-do list on Fabulous. Perhaps then I will keep blogging.

A Feather

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Can you see the dawn or the sunset?
The fire or the ashes it leaves?
Perhaps the dry old leaf or the new one that will replace it?
Can you see the deep blue ocean or the crystal clear lake?
Do you see the dark coffee or the golden scotch?
Maybe you see the sapphire or the emerald instead.
What do you you see when you behold the simple feather?

2016

Wishing you a very Happy New Year!!!

Hope your 2015 was good and wishing your 2016 will be even more fabulous.

I had a good year last year and am looking forward to 2016. This post is just to list out things I think of getting done or just goals in general. I probably will come back here and update as and when, also good to know that I have somewhere written down all this so I can stay on track.

Reading Goals!

Goodreads sent me an email asking me for a reading challenge, and so I did. My goal is to read at least a 100 books this year. I normally do read a lot, last year I managed some 200 books, this year I shall try to hit as many but a 100 seems doable.

I do want to mix up categories and make things interesting. For this, I depend on lists that are available online or feeds and reviews on Goodreads. I do not have many lined up this as yet for this year, but these – Shakespeare (complete works), Ibis Trilogy, Meditations, The Indian Epics retold, some Wodehouse, some of  Georgette Heyer, HG Wells – are books that I mean to revisit this year. As of now, I have only these in my to be read list, which continuously grows.

Studying Goals!

Yay! So this year I mean to finish a lot. There is a business course that I enrolled in that I will complete this year. I also mean to start new languages on Duolingo or Memrise. These websites have been amazing. I loved both when I was learning French and Spanish.I will also try to do some MOOCs. For this, I rely mostly on Coursera, Udemy, Udacity, Codeacedamy. Also, another place to learn new stuff is Learnist. In case you are wondering about something new to learn, have a look at some of the above sites, you will definitely find something to your liking.

Hobbies!

Crochet was something I learnt in the psat few years. Indulging in the hobby was a bit of problem because, I couldn’t find a good  place for yarn and needles. (I learnt the craft using twine, and size 4mm hook my grandma had.) Last year I discovered two websites that, ItsyBitsy and PonyCraftStore. Loads of stuff for most hobbies can be bought here.I bought some yarn with which I plan to crochet a blanket. One row a day is the goal, let’s see how many rows it takes to finish it.

So far, that’s about all the goals I have in mind, but We still have 364 days left.

What are you planning for this year?

5 months… What!!!!!

It’s been almost 5 months since the last post! Where did all that time go??? Like they say, time does fly! Sigh… if only we can as well.

5 months may seem like a life time to some, and not much to others, to each his own. What’s happened in this time??? Not much really.😦 Life has been happening happily and I have been a happy person on all most all days.

Did you know that Chennai, where I live had rains unlike any seen in a century! We were flooded, basically it was a mess. People can place the blame on anyone they want to, but let’s face it, no one could have stopped the rains. We could have been better prepared yes, but a city that is normally sunny couldn’t have imagined 3ft of water flowing through its streets (in some places it was reported to be over 10 ft). I am not blaming anyone or anything, nor I am glad that people suffered. We must though realise that every dark cloud has a silver lining and my City landed on its feet helped by all of its citizens. As with any experience all of us learned something from it as well. And we hope that our leaders and authorities have as well.

In other news, I read a few books, discovered new music, have tried to keep up studying and stay committed in that area though it has not always been possible. Also workouts have been sporadic😦, but this past week has been awesome in that regard.

I know I keep making a promise to write more, I do try. Now I have to rush off to go grocery shopping (Yes, trying to behave like an adult sometimes) and therefore stopping this here.

Hope all of you have great Week!!!