Mum's end to tiffin box tantrums......

Friday, 24 November 2017

Mutton cutlet- when you are expecting some guests in a short notice


                                                           
Mutton cutlet-  It's purely homemakers idea!


Well, as the title suggests, the mutton cutlet is one of the most palatable dishes I ever know. Although the commercial preparation has a different tinge to it, this recipe was my brainchild. My friends called me to say that they want to visit; definitely, I pondered to give them a sweet surprise. I had minced mutton, potato, dal and other veggies in my store and a sudden idea clicked my mind. Well, I had a newly bought air fryer and thought of making the best utilization of it.
Ingredients: All you need for this recipe are as follows.  The preparation is meant for 4-6 persons.
  1. Minced meat (300gms),
  2.  4 big potatoes boiled an mashed,
  3. 1 onion chopped,
  4. 1 tomato chopped,
  5. 2 green chilies chopped,
  6. 1 teaspoon garam masala,
  7. 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste,
  8. ¾ teaspoon of salt,
  9. ½ cup of  dal boiled,
  10. Oil for frying,
  11. ½ cup of coriander leaves chopped.
Equipment required:
Air- fryer
Parchment paper
Brush for using oil

Procedure:
1. Boil the potatoes and keep apart.
2. Steam the minced mutton and keep aside.
3. Heat oil and then add the vegetable. Fry the onion tomatoes, add ginger garlic paste and sauté nicely. Remove and keep aside.
4. Boil the dal and keep aside. Drain the water and keep it standing.
5. Boil potatoes and mash it.
5. Now add the fried minced mutton with boiled potatoes and dal.  Mix it well till it takes the shape of the dough. Add chopped green chilies and coriander leaves. Prepare smaller dough and then leave.
6. Line the air fryer with parchment paper and slowly keep the smaller dough in it. Brush oil in it and leave for 10 minutes.  Turn sides and then again keep for 10 minutes.

Step 1


                                
step2






step 3



                          
step 4






                                         
Mutton cutlet-the final decor



The same procedure could be repeated with an oven. Instead of frying, the new concept is to brush oil and bake.  Oil consumption is lower and the resultant snack is crunchier, healthier. Well, my friends were so filled with appreciation that we decided to start a healthy cooking party every month. Don’t you feel it’s a great idea?




Monday, 16 October 2017

Dubai – an amazing shopping paradise




It was my last day in Dubai which was dedicated to shopping. There is a concept among the tourists that Dubai is a shopping paradise. We were taken by the city Hoppa bus and dropped at certain places where we might satisfy our shopping spree.

         












We were taken to the Gold Souk or the traditional gold market in Dubai. ‘Souk’ in Arabian dialect means market. It was Dubai’s business district in Deira, locality of Al Dagaya. This is open every day of the week between 10 am and 10 pm. There are various types of Gold here- Yellow gold, white gold and rose gold. Dubai old is characterized by 24 karat consistency. We were explained about the types of gold. 18 karat gold is 75% gold alloy and 25% silver, copper and zinc alloy. This is said to be sturdier. We were told that Gold bought from here is totally pure and we can bargain only in the making charge.

People invest in gold while in Dubai. The gold is in form of bars and bullions. We were said that the best way to buy and stock gold is to keep an eye on the fluctuating market and buy especially when the price steeps low. The investment process on gold dates back to the eighteenth century when gold was bought as a means of forced savings; no bank schemes prevailed at that time.  

Tips to buy gold: Although Dubai is considered the hub of pure gold; buying is not really a boring experience. In fact, you have all the right to bargain or haggle for the least possible price. I observed tourists buy gold from the Gold Souk; as per a discussion with them, I found there are some tips to buy gold there.
  • Bargain on making charge, not on the real rate of gold. You have all the right to haggle on the make and rate of the gold. Since pure gold is soft, it has to be mixed with other metals to make an alloy. Making charge varies from shop to shop. This is the area where you can bet to haggle. I have seen people start from 50% of the making charge. The more you buy, the more you get a space for negotiation.
  • The real rate of gold should be displayed at the front of the shop. This is the same all over UAE and calculated in AED. Any shop owner if found deviating from the rate, if reported will be in problem. His business might be at stake.
  • Take a look at various shops around you. I am sure you will find some difference in the pieces like necklace, bangles, chain, earrings, rings, and watches. The more you see, the more experienced you become.

                               







Buying dry fruits and carrying home: I find dry fruits very palatable.  While I was on tour in Dubai, I emphasized a lot in carrying dry fruits home. In fact, we ate and enjoyed there it.  The various types of dry fruits available in Dubai are- almonds, mixed nuts, salted peanuts, raw peanuts, cashew nuts, pecan, salted mixed nuts, sundried raisins, premium dates, pumpkin seeds, apricots, almond powder, dried cranberry, smoked and barbequed almonds, sunflower seeds, flaked almonds and many more. Price per packet ranged from 5 AED to 52 AED.


              







 Buy accessories, clothes, and footwear:  Perhaps Dubai mall, Emirates mall could be compared as a paradise for those who are a shopaholic. Meena Bazaar, situated in Bur Dubai is known for keeping stocks of various accessories. You may also be a gainer while bargaining in Meena Bazaar. The famous shopping centers in Dubai are- Dubai Mall, Mall of Emirates, WAFI mall, City Center Deira, IBN Battuta Mall, Dubai outlet mall, Mercatto shopping mall, Dubai Marina Mall, Bur Juman, the Outlet Village, Dubai festival city mall, Souk Al Bahar, Arabian center, City center Midriff, Jumeira plaza, The Beach, Sunset Mall and many more.


                                  









Dubai is considered as the fiesta for various fashion brands. Alfred Dunhill, Tom Ford, Accessorize, Louis Vuitton, Mulberry, Cocoon trend, Armani Junior, Mother care, Burberry, Victoria’s secret and many more brands reside side by side in the malls of Dubai.


      





Kids fashion and toys in Dubai: Being recognized as the biggest player in kids fashion Dubai proudly boasts to shelter brands like- Level Kids, Kids fashion Trdg LLC, Og Jak kids fashion, Gucci Dubai mall kids, Lollypop kids, Majestic kids, Damas kids, Kids puzzle, Brands for less, Sacoor kids, City walk 2 kids level, Blue Pink fashion, Max fashion, Dolce & Gabbana kids, Max Fashion and many more.

                           



                            


             


If you are looking for buying your kids some state- of- the- art toys, then you have a number of choices. The toy store, toy corner, Golden toys shop, Hamleys, Toy R Us, Emirates official store, Early learning center, Camel Company, Golden toys, Day to Day and many more brands will attract your kids. He will have full liberty to explore the shops, check the toys he likes, play and then ultimately buy or not buy.

                     

                                


                              




                 
Buying watches in Dubai: One of the finest brands and quality of watches are available in Dubai.  Visit any shopping mall of sustenance and you will find some global brands jostling spaces. Rivoli prestige, Hour choice, The store FZCO, Audemars Piguet, Zenith, The watch-house, IWC Schaffhausen, Oriental stores, Omega boutique, Onetime and many more brands tend to steal attraction of any passing visitor.


Dubai proudly owns one of the best collections in footwear. Pick the smartest of the wears and feel proud to sport the best of brands. The shoe brand that deserves mention is- Shoe mart, Chic shoes, Level shoes, Clarks, shoe press, Dune Dubai mall and much more.

If you are a shopaholic, Dubai is simply the best place for you. Visit the land during shopping festivals where you may bag up some handsome discounts. There are various online shopping malls which have the arrangement to ship internationally. All you need to do is simply choose, click, pay and receive the good under your roof. For people reading this post and thinking what to buy when you visit Dubai, I will simply say ‘Happy Shopping’.



Wednesday, 13 September 2017

An evening in the desert of Dubai


We had already explored the man made wonders of Dubai. Now, we were left to experience a ride in the desert. Desert Safari in Dubai deserves special mention.  I saw numerous hoardings in the airport encouraging a desert safari, a feel of the life of a Bedouin.

                      
Scintillating view of the Dubai desert


We were told by our travel agent that we would be picked up from our hotel premises at 3:30 pm.   We were picked up at right time and preceded towards the desert. We were accompanied by our fellow passengers from other hotels in the same vehicle. There is nothing more exciting than experiencing a desert safari in Dubai.

              
Al Awir road leading to the desert

We used the Al Awir road to reach the desert where we were expected to enjoy a camp. The sand dunes and the scintillating sunset was a real treat for the eyes. The sun appeared like a red ball with crimson hue playing all around. We were busy capturing these awesome moments with our DSLR camera. The photo shoot was interesting while we posed like models. Standing amidst the Arabian Desert gave me goose bumps and my mind was occupied with that imagination of ‘Arabian nights’, which I once read during my childhood. After capturing some nice glimpses of the sunset and desert, we proceeded towards the camp which was a fifteen-minute ride.

             
Car ride in the desert
   



                                 
Ship of the desert

                            
Now, these fifteen minutes of the bumpy ride was an experience of the life time. Only Emirati nationals with a special license are allowed to ride along the sand dunes with tourists. I am not joking, but I saw our vehicle speeding over the dunes at almost sixty-five degrees from the ground. I almost closed my eyes while I tried keeping my hand erect recording those spine chilling moments. We almost swirled from one end to another.  I realized that once inside the sand dunes there is no other way than speeding.  Somehow, I was successful in getting a good video recording.

                         
Our footsteps in the Arabian desert


The camel ride was a good experience and cost 10 Dirham per person. Since I had already experienced this, I was not interested in spending time and money again. Some co -passengers who availed the ride, defined it no lesser than a night mare with full chances of being fallen down from that height.  

                                
Quad bike ride for those adventure freaks

Some people described that to be an interesting ride and expressed to repeat it.
Some adventure enthusiasts were indulged in riding quad bikes. That must be a worthy experience. It was almost 5:30 pm and the sun was about to set, so the heat was comparatively diminished. I observed how the quad bikes rolled into the sand dunes. The cost for riding 20 minutes was 15 Dirham.

               
Camp at Desert

When we entered the camp, it was a great attraction. There were sitting arrangements made with benches and carpets on the sand. There was a good arrangement of washrooms and some VIP corners which was available at 100 dollars. They are meant for families who want to enjoy the program in full privacy. We enjoyed the starry desert night and the series of entertainment. The arrangement is full buffet type and I immediately gulped some water and juice.  The temperature soared down and became comfortable.


       
The belle dancer

We enjoyed the belly dance performed by some unknown Arabian dancer. The skinny lady was dressed seductively and her Arabian attire dazzled the night while the performance was no lesser than a ‘wow’. She almost set the stage on fire with her amazing dance steps. She was balancing a stick on her chest with utter perfection. The Arabian music, the dancer, the drinks and the snacks- filled the ambiance with an amazing ‘wow’ factor. I felt like meeting with the ‘’queen of the desert”.    

                   

There was various attraction meant for the tourist like slipping into an Arabian outfit. While the males wore a white thobe (Jubbah), the females wore black Abaya. It was exciting to get a new look. Tourist seems to be excited with their new Emirati look.

                     

Balancing the Falcon on hand                  


There was a man carrying a Falcon in his hand. A snap with the bird cost me 10 Dirhams. That was an amazing experience. Never before this did I ever touched or carried a bird. I cautiously kept the bird at a hands distance, but to the contrary, I found that it was tamed. It was a heroic deed carrying the wildest bird of the desert in my arms.

                        
Seesha- an attraction of the desert safari


                  
Inside the camp, there was an arrangement of ‘Seesha’ or the traditional pipe line of the desert. There were various flavors and variations like – strawberry, chocolate, and mint. The pipes are changed after each sip. I sipped a hookah and that I was a first timer initially had some problem of choking but later enjoyed it.

                   
Tanoura Dance- an awesome feat 

                           
              
We enjoyed ‘Tandoura dance’ which originated from Egypt. A man wore a light fitted dress and executed Sufi swirls while Arabian music played in the background. Lights were put off so that the tourists could enjoy the charm of the dress. The dancer balanced the tambourine in his hand and positioned himself like a tree and many other poses. This was a fantastic feat.

            
Beffet in the Desert


We enjoyed a sumptuous Arabian dinner in the desert. There were various kinds of dishes and separate arrangement for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. We started with mind boggling kebabs, hummus and ended with meat dishes. The arrangement was simply superb.


                          
Fire show- an admiring performance 


Last was a fire show which was enchanting. The man balanced fire sticks juggled and mesmerized the audience with his extraordinary feat. The day ended, it was almost quarter to ten at night. We dispersed from the camp and headed towards our transport to be dropped into respective hotels. The day was awesome and it was a wonderful feeling to know how the Bedouin existed when there were no facilities. Something that missed my eyes was the underground cooking of meat, which is still a wonder to me. Next time I visit Dubai I am sure to see the process of meat being cooked by the Bedouins under the sand.

Dubai is a land of wondrous 'man made'' structure and natural beauty. The land is blessed to be governed by His Highness Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. He is known to make Dubai the center of global attraction. The Arabians are warm, hospitable and at the same time very touchy to any nuisance that can harm their country.  I realized again, that by virtue of good governance even a desert could be converted to a paradise like Dubai.






Thursday, 31 August 2017

Dubai- the world within itself

                         
Burj Khalifa at dusk

                 

Dubai is rightly called the investment center of the world. With a GDP of $403.2 billion (acc. to 2014) the economy of Dubai is the second largest in the United Arab Emirates.  The main income of Dubai is tourism which makes it the seventh most visited city in the world. The other sources which make it one of the richest in the world are- real estate development, royalty from oil companies, tax from foreign banks, hotel and entertainment tax, luxury item imports and tax from alcohol. From my recent visit to this ultra- modern, neon dazzled city, I realized the fact that good governance and discipline could be instrumental in elevating a city and its people to the number one position. Dubai is accessible from all parts of the world.
         
Sultan's palace in Dubai

     

As a tourist, there are various attractions which draw people from around the globe. I made a booking in a 5-star premium category hotel quite beforehand. I must say that booking should be done pretty before time because Dubai is always a very busy destination and the hotels remain booked throughout the year. The next day, we were taken for a half day city tour. There are several attractions, man-made structures that draw visitors all from across the globe.

             
View of the Twin Tower from Al Zayed Road

A visit to Burj Khalifa@At the top: A man made the structure, 828 meters high, proudly boasts to be one the highest structures in the globe. It took 6 years for this to get completed starting from 2004. There are millions of men contributing to this huge structure. We booked tickets to the 125th floor, and then queued to climb. An elevator climbing 10 meters per second took us to the top floor which was an observatory from where we could see the city. Well. I cannot describe my feeling being at the top, only the cars and other humans seemed like ants from that height.  Maximum roads and structures in Dubai starts with ' Al' which means Sir or respected.

             

Majestic view from the top floor of Burj Khalifa


We took snaps, videos and posed for photos. There was an arrangement to climb to the 148th floor also with a special ticket. Burj Khalifa has several offices, restaurants, night clubs and observation decks in it. Celebrities like Shilpa Shetty, David Beckham, Giorgio Armani and others have their residence here. The spectacular view from Burj Khalifa is worth mentioning including the Address hotel. It was a great feeling being at the top.
                   

Aquarium at Dubai Mall

We climbed down and then approached towards the aquarium in Dubai Mall: The aquarium is a great attraction in Dubai especially for the kids.  Dubai aquarium is enlisted in the Guinness book of world records for being the largest acrylic panels.  Dubai aquarium and underwater zoo shelters many crazy species. We saw the aquarium tunnel, Aquarium Park, underwater zoo and creepy crawling animals.  We saw various animals and fishes especially.  It has more than 300 species of sharks and other carnivore aquatic animals.

                         
Dubai Mall

Dubai Mall: Known as the largest mall in the world, Dubai Mall shelters 1200 shops. Having all types of clothing, electronic, toys, cosmetics, and other accessories, this Mall is nothing but a shopping paradise. Over 13 million square feet in area, Dubai Mall has 22 cinema screens and more than 1400 car parking areas. There are attractions like Kidzania and way to the Burj Khalifa. Just splendid! We enjoyed lunch and spent some hours over here. I felt that whatever be the amount of money I carry, there will be no full stop to purchasing objects of desire from this Mall. So, I kept my desire suppressed and just carried on my visit being a visitor and appreciating the enormous structure.  Any could not resist from picking up some dresses for myself and some toys for my kids at last.


Limousine- a common view in the streets of Dubai




                         
Dubai museum 
                   
Dubai museum: located in Bur Dubai, Dubai museum is one of the greatest attractions. With more than 1800 visitors a day, Al Fahidi Fort was built in 1787 and known as the oldest existing building in Dubai. The museum was opened in 1971, with an aim of presenting the normal Emirati life to the outside world.  Although, we didn’t get time to go inside, and the temperature which soared over 50 degrees prevented the minimum attempt to enter out of the air conditioned bus.


Burj Al Arab

We saw views of the majestic Hotel Atlantica and Burj Al Arab. The journey through the underwater tunnel to the Hotel was exciting.


 
Hotel Atlantica

There were more attractions which we could not cover because of lack of time was the Dubai ski, Mall of Emirates, an underwater restaurant inside Burj Al Arab and Dubai Aqua venture. I made up my mind that next, I visit I am sure to visit Aqua venture just to satisfy my kids. Lego Land and IMG World also deserve special mention in this respect.  Returned back to my hotel in Deira area, we prepared ourselves for the next day.


Monday, 14 August 2017

Experience sumptuous Thai food at Asia Kitchen, Acropolis Mall while you are in Kolkata


                             
Impressive decor of Asia Kitchen

Kolkata is my home town and I am always proud of the richly varied culture exhibited by the city. There is no city in India which has a plethora of restaurants to satisfy the taste buds of a food lover. Whenever I get time, I explore new restaurants in my city. This time I bumped upon a new restaurant, ‘Asia Kitchen’, which is situated in Acropolis mall, Kasba. Well, I wanted to try authentic Thai, and this restaurant was my perfect choice. A vertical of Mainland China group, Asia kitchen has attracted critics and the food columns of renowned publications.
             
                                                 
The Logo
   

The first glance: The restaurant situated on the fourth floor of Acropolis mall, attracts visitors and food lovers from the city as well as suburbs. The first glance of the restaurant is impressive, with typical Chinese decor on the walls. The restaurant area can accommodate almost 70-80 people at a time.  Flanked by attractive wooden furniture and an open kitchen, this restaurant is a desired place to hang around with friends in the weekend.
                               
Friendly staff


The service: There is an array of choice of food. You will be presented with the menu card from where you may have an idea of the various delicacy served by them. You will be greeted by the friendly staff who will guide on the choice of food. I visited during lunch hour, so I preferred to take a standard four-course package. They were not having any option of the buffet at that hour.  We were offered starters and gradually other courses and the staff were at the best of their hospitality attitude. I visited the kitchen and took some snaps of the employees working there and they posed no objection.
                                 

Peanut and herb sauce as starter 



Chicken dumpling


Steam rice and chicken in red sauce


Hakka chow mien and chicken 



Fried noodles and ice cream



Mango cheese cake





The food: There are several varieties of food. We opted for a four-course meal named ‘’ The Fantastic Four Menus”, where we were served chicken eight treasure soup and sweet corn vegetable soup. Next, we waited for Vegetable basil flavored dumplings and chicken spring rolls. Obviously, we had a choice or choosing in each category. Since we were four, we had the option of more. The main menu consisted of steamed basmati rice and chicken in red curry. The chicken in red curry was truly awesome. (I tried to figure out the recipe and I am sure I will try once).  It had the characteristic Thai favor; I could smell lemon grass and ginger. We had an option of vegetable Hakka noodles with General Tao’s chicken. The chicken had a sweet flavor. Since I have an ‘open taste bud’ to all types of cuisine in this world; I felt it was simply fantastic. We were served mango cheese cake for dessert. There was another option in dessert namely, honey noodles with ice cream. This was a bit different but quite tasty.

The Verdict: Kolkata has a range of Chinese and other specialty cuisines. Asia Kitchen is a great attempt to get Kolkata acquainted to Thai food.  I don’t say that this is the first ever good Thai cuisine in Kolkata, but still, this specialty cuisine won my heart. Considering the warmth of the staff, the ambiance, the restaurant décor and the food I will rate the food as 4.5/5 stars. The quality of food was superb; I wish it keeps up to the standard whenever any reader (who’s reading this review article) reaches out to this restaurant for dinner.

There is nothing more a heavenly pleasure than enjoying good food is a quality restaurant.