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

Monday, 28 May 2018

Herbed chicken wings and cheese - a twist to normal chicken !

Chicken wings and cheese 

Generally, I am tired of eating leg pieces of chicken. I went to the supermarket to pick chicken, and for a difference and I picked a pack of chicken wings. Well, generally chicken wings cannot be cooked to a curry or any other preparation. But, I thought ‘Let’s do justice to this pack of chicken wings’. And some innovative idea clicked my mind. I air fried the chicken pieces, sautéed with herbs and ultimately garnished with cheese and then microwaved. Trust me, when I kept the dish in front of my children, it took just two minutes to be depleted. Well, now I get repeated orders and chicken wings get some justice in my home. Let me share the recipe for some of my food lover friends, who feel that no part of a food item should go for a waste.

(This is for 4-5 persons)
Ingredients:
1.       2 packs of chicken wings
2.       1 teaspoon of ginger paste
3.       1 teaspoon of garlic paste
4.       1 teaspoon of ground oregano,
5.       1 teaspoon of rosemary (fresh),
6.       ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper,
7.       1 ½ tablespoon of balsamic vinegar,
8.       Oil for brushing,
9.       1 teaspoon of salt,
10.   ¼ the cup of grated cheddar cheese,
11.   1/4th cup of grated mozzarella cheese,
12.   ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper.
1  1 bell pepper chopped,
11/2 can of sweet corn.


Equipment’s required: Air fryer for cooking, brush for putting oil, and microwave for cooking.

Procedure:
1.       Marinate the chicken wings with vinegar, ground oregano, salt, cayenne pepper, garlic paste and ginger paste. Keep in marinated condition for 30-40 minutes.
2.       Place the marinated chicken pieces inside the air fryer and cook for 20 minutes. Change sides and again cook for 15-20 minutes.  The chicken pieces should be removed and then brushed oil on either side before you set them for cooking.
3.       Remove the chicken pieces and place them on the plate.
c
Cook the bell pepper and sweet corn separately and then add the chicken pieces.
4.       Sprinkle the mixture of cheddar and mozzarella cheese and then microwave for 5 minutes.
5.       Top with shredded rosemary leaves. Can microwave again for 1-2 minutes so that rosemary emits its characteristic smell.

This a mouth-watering starter. If you are expecting guests at your house or might be during weekends, trust me this is one of the easiest dishes you can make. Who says that to be prepare tasty food you need to be a chef? In fact, you are a chef yourself and your ideas are the sources of your recipes. Just enjoy the dish!



Thursday, 4 January 2018

‘Watching wild life staying in a Treehouse’- an imagination which was implemented in reality!


                       

Treetop hotel 


  I have always heard stories about tree house from my very childhood. Hearing stories about Phantom ( Aranyadeb, famous to all Bengali kids) who is a superhero and stayed in a tree house with his family, I always desired to stay in a tree house at least once in my lifetime. Well, Kenya has to offer a lot of comfortable bungalows, lodges, and hotels inside the wildlife area to satiate an adventure freak's spree. After a lot of research on Google and other modern means of deciphering information, we chose Tree Tops Hotel to be our next destination to satisfy our adventurous wildlife spree. Since I stay in Nakuru, the journey was quite comfortable and lesser time taking to reach Aberdare National Park.  There are separate routes from Nairobi and also might be Kericho, if you prefer a roadway to the wildlife conservation area.


Routes that lead:
( while traveling from Nakuru)


     
Map Nakuru - Aberdere National Park


Nakuru to  Aberdare National Park: There are three routes you can follow:
Bus route: ( via A 104 Nakuru – Gilgil- Njeru – Aberdare national park)119 Kms which take 3 hrs 40 minutes to reach. Bus route might be slow due to traffic condition.
Car route ( via C 69 Nakuru- Tumaini- Aberdare National Park)125 Kms which takes 3 hours 32 minutes
Car route ( via B5 Nyeri – Nyahururu road, Nakuru- Subukia- Nyeri- Aberdare National Park)which  4 hours 7 minutes, distance 180 km
 ( while traveling from Nairobi)

               
Map Nairobi- Aberdere National Park
   

Car route ( via A 104 Nairobi- Kikuyu – Kijabe-Aberdare National Park ) is 149 km and takes 3 hrs 25 minutes
Car route ( via A2 route Nairobi – Ruiru- Thika- Nyeri- Aberdare National Park ) is 200 km and takes 3 hrs 56 minutes.

Kericho to Aberdare National Park:

                            
Map Kericho- Aberdere National Park



The fastest route is the Nairobi route 228 km, takes 5 hours 6 minutes ( Kericho- Kuresoi- Londiani- Molo- Rongai- Nakuru- Ol Kalou- Aberdare National Park)
The times have been calculated considering there has been enough of traffic. But journey times, in reality, differ with variation in traffic congestion.

 Aberdare  National Park is an abode to endangered wildlife with mesmerizing landscape:
The Aberdare National park is rightly called a heaven for the wild endangered species of Kenya. It's characterized by steep forest ravines and moorlands. Sprawling over 766 square kilometers and being a part of Aberdare mountain range, this park has attracted tourists all over the world.  Flanked by hotels and lodges with modern state of the art designs that make the guests feel at home, Aberdare National Park established in 1950 is rightly called the abode of wildlife. During the migration season, tourists from all over the globe rush to enjoy the treasures of the wild area. There are various hotels which have been the top choice for tourists.  The national park contains the full range of mountain peaks ranging from 4,300 mths and also V-shaped valleys and streamlines which intersect the land.  The landscape is characterized by moorland, rainforest, and even bamboo forests. There are  two gates  (Aberdare National park Mutubio gate and Aberdare National Park gate), and the entry fees are as such:
East African citizens ( adults):  300 KSH
East African children and students: 200 KSH
East African Residents (adult): 1500 KSH
East African Residents (children and students): 500KSH
Nonresident (adults ): 52$
Nonresident children and student: 26$


              
Gate - Aberdere National Park


Animals found in Aberdare National Park: The various animals found in this park are- African elephant, buffaloes, wild boar, spotted hyenas, black rhino, black and white colobus monkey, olive baboons, African wild dogs, warthogs, and bushbucks. Among some rare sights are-giant forest hog, bongo, golden cat, Serval cat, African civel cat and blue duiker. There are almost 250 species of birds available in this park. Some notables are- Jackson francolin, sparrow hawks, goshawks, eagles, plovers, and sunbirds. One of the rarest and endangered species is the leopard. Our guide told us that back in 2007 all the lions were relocated to other national park and conservancies. The reason being that the number of herbivores including buffaloes was being reduced as they were constantly being hunted for food by these lions.

Black Rhino
Buffalo
              


Baboons

Balck and white Colobus monkey



African Elephants 
Spotted hyena
                             
               
         
                     Animals found in the Aberdare  National Park                                       



There is a range of activities that can be enjoyed here- bird watching, trekking, game viewing,  horse riding, photography and camping in the lap of nature.



Places to stay in and around Aberdare National Park: The hotels that deserve special mention are the Treetops hotel, the Ark Hotel, Aberdare country club , Aberdare cottages dream (Gacharageini), Legacy gardens ( Nyeri), Outspan hotel (Nyeri), Green hill hotels (Nyeri), White rhino hotel (Nyeri), Outspan hotel ( Nyeri),  Giraffe Ark game lodge (Nyeri), Rhino watch safari lodge (Nyeri)and many more.

The triumphs of visiting a tree house:  As I had the opportunity of visiting in Treetop lodge, I enjoyed every bit of it. There is a waterhole beside the lodge and animals from the national park come in groups to drink water. It was a wonderful sight to enjoy from the terrace of the hotel. The best part is that the hotel is well illuminated and we watched wild animals throughout the night as I came near the water body to quench its thirst.  Each room is flanked by huge windows with glass fitted thereby ensuring a great view of the animals. I took photographs throughout the day. The sunrise was a great observance and a photographer’s delight.     




                                                        
Sunrise @ Aberdere  National Park


                       



Mount Kenya peak as seen from Aberdere National Park


The hotel itself had several proud moments while the eminent personalities like Queen Elizabeth and royal family members visited the hotel in 1959. That time it was a watchtower with two rooms and a dining hall meant for the visit of rich and famous enjoying wildlife occasionally. Eric Sherbrooke Walker was the man behind the idea of building the famous Tree Top hotel.  Other VIP's visiting the renowned guesthouse were the President of Malawi and the Moi family.  History says that the Queen of England entered the hotel as a princess and when she stepped out, she got the news that her father King George VI passed away. She became the queen officially and the longest reigning monarch of England till date.


             
Some moments with the royal family 





Tree top hotel when Queen Elizabeth visited




When President of Malawi visited


Remarks and signature of celebs


          Some historic moments encrypted on the walls of  Tree Top hotel

The entire structure is a 36 roomed hotel which rests on the wooden structure and supported by pillars. The second and third floor has spiral stairs which are used by the staff. The hotel décor was unique with murals and remains of herbivores once devoured by the carnivores of the park. There are no stairs but an elevation made from wooden floors that leads to upper stories. The topmost level contains rooms for the guests and a viewing point ( terrace) which is open 24 hours for getting the best view of the animals and park. Each room has a buzzer which rings in a moderate volume and alerts the guest if any wild animals come near the waterhole. Food served in the hotel was a wide range of Pan African, continental and also Indian cuisines. The arrangement was superb, and nobody could ever get back home disappointment. The chefs took care of each and everybody's taste bud. You can watch the waterhole and animals from the dining room too.  In one word, it was a thrilling experience, a mixture of adventure and the comforts of a 5-star facility. The décor was rustic yet bear a modern touch. The furniture was age-old but was maintained meticulously, the way Queen enjoyed the hotel first time on her visit.

                               
A buffalo in front of waterhole





An elephant in front of  hotel

                                               Observing wild animals from the hotel room

I took some shots of the mesmerizing sunrise, sunset, wild animals and national park as well.
The primary activity that we enjoyed was a walking trail along the borders of Treetop hotel within the premises of Aberdare National Park. We were accompanied by a gunman during this time.


                                
Experiencing a walking trail with armed guard


                                                      
Wise men  will never ignore the note
     

                                 
       

 If you decide to walk without an armed guard in the restricted area is like inviting trouble for yourself. The electric fence is just security but has chances of being broken down and smashed by buffaloes and elephants struggling. If ever you encounter with these wild creatures on the way of your morning walk, the hotel management is not to be blamed.  Hence, it appeared that wild animals are wild and they should never be trusted. Moreover, buffaloes and elephants are aggressive animals. Even hyenas can enter the encroachment at any time.




Observing a baboon from the terrace of hotel



When buffaloes come for water- from the terrace of hotel



It was a great experience, being in the wild area among the wild beauties, and enjoying their moves intimately from the comfort of your room. We were pampered by the hospitable staff, the food and of course the excursion experience. There is nothing more exciting than staying two nights in a tree house, perhaps an imagination and a childhood fantasy which became true in my life.





                                                   
Front view of Treetop hotel 











Sunday, 24 December 2017

Experiencing a buffet luncheon at Sarova Spa and Lodge, Nakuru is definitely worth of it's kind!



        
Sarova Woodlands- the lastest addition to Nakuru life.!


Nakuru has seen an upward graph in investment and various other segments in the recent past; tourism and hospitality being one of them.  Nakuru is overwhelmed with experience launch of a new 5-star hotel. Situated near the Nakuru – Nairobi highway, sprawling over the upscale region of Milimani near State House, Sarova Lodge stands tall attracting any visitor who plans a visit. I planned a visit with my family and had the opportunity to explore this lavish hotel and of course, it’s cuisine. The building is an excellent architecture with warm and welcoming staff, which greets and guides you up to the dining room. We stepped into restaurant Cinnamon, a fabulously spaced leather finish furniture decorated arena.  Cinnamon serves Pan African, Indian as well as the continental menu.
The first glance:  There is no doubt that any first-timer will be impressed by the lavish entrance of Sarova Lodge and Spa. Splurged by gracious semi-automatic doors on both sides, the looks is obviously a royal one. 
           
The lavish entrance 

The warm and hospitable staff seated at the reception will attract you with her warm smile and explain you the services. If you are looking for a stay in this luxurious 5-star hotel, you will be directed towards the rooms.  Basically, there are standard rooms, suites, and restaurants under the same roof, you may pamper yourself in the spa or take a dip in the swimming pool. There is no dearth of services that can make you feel lesser than a ‘royal’.  Suites are classified as State suites, studio suites, and executive suites. There is a leather bar, which indulges you to experience the special blends- cognac or single malt while relaxing or having an unwinding business chat.  There is a Courtyard, - where guests meet and enjoy light eclectic tea, freshly brewed coffee and a selection of light meals fresh from the oven. 

                                 
Cinnamon restaurant 
                         
We were directed towards the Cinnamon restaurant, which a fabulous place with a capacity to accommodate at least 100. Bearing a quite authentic look, wooden furniture, spacious tables and attractive cutlery, are definite to make your visit a memorable one.  Combining some facilities like a boardroom and conference room, Sarova Lodge is undoubtedly an impressive image to any visitor in Nakuru.

                                   
The backside of hote- a nice place to  hangout!


The service:  The staffs were quite sincere and hospitable. We opted for buffet arrangement, although there was a choice to order food from the menu card. The restaurant specializes in Indian, Pan African and continental dished, and that was clearly visible. Restaurant staff helped us serving the food from respective areas. Children were taken care of and were served the special menu.  The waiters were quite active in the offering, clearing and helping with any special requirements.

Hospitable staff


The food:  The buffet cost 2,200 KES per person. There was the choice of welcome drinks- lemon water, soda or fruits juice.  I was tempted by the choice of freshly chopped salad. With an array of potato sautéed in white sauce, black and green olives and other veggies tossed in olive oil, it was a good start.  There was a good range soup as starters – carrot and ginger and green peas soup.  Well, if you are a vegetarian, you won't be disappointed. 

                       
Lemin drink- it's rejuvenating!





Lip smacking pea soup


There is a range of vegetarian side dishes- penne pasta, roasted vegetable and potato wedges. I loved the Indian variety of dals- rajma, chola and paneer bhurji.  After completion, I proceeded towards main course- jeera rice, mashed potatoes ugali and chapatti. Well, I guess nobody will ever be disappointed as they have taken care of all types of taste buds.  Being a non-vegetarian I couldn’t restrict me from trying the roasted pork. It was awesome.                  

                                 
Freshly chopped salad



Side dish of your choice


For the carnivores





Some dessert at last


The other choice was beef and lamb chops.  Pick your choice of sauce from the displayed on the shelves. All ends n a sweet note. There was a wide choice of desserts – chocolate mousse, carrot cake, and cheesecake. You may pick a bowl filled with your choice of seasonal fruits kept over the shelves. It was an awesome experience.

The verdict:  The luncheon experience was unique. The restaurant was unique in its kind and visiting the newly opened five-star hotels in the town was itself a matter of pride. Nakurians love exploring new places, discover new restaurants, new dishes and end up in a permanent relationship with the venue. My rating to this restaurant, food, and service will be 4.5/5 stars.



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’.