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Monday, July 21, 2014

Great Thai Cuisine at ‘Cabbages and Condoms’


While in Bangkok, there was this interesting restaurant I went with my family for an authentic Thai cuisine. Didn’t realize that the mannequins that I saw at the entrance were dressed in colorful condoms until I touched the rubbery strips.



The safe sex message was loud and clear and screamed from every article displayed at this Sukumvit eatery, in the lampshades, flower bouquets, wall hangings, dinner plates, toothpicks, and even in the different articles sold in the souvenir shop at the entrance of this restaurant.



While Bangkok is renowned for sex trade it also has an incredible spiritual side with beautiful temples at every junction. This place is a brazen shrine to all things safe sex.

While in Bangkok, coconut water is must. It’s so sweet and delicious. I have relished it almost every day. So this was the first drink that arrived at our tables as soon as we settled down for a cool drink



The Thai cuisine served in this restaurant is excellent and authentic. Steamed crabmeat with vegetables and basil, satays in peanut sauce, spicy tom yum soup, sticky rice, stuffed fish, and there was wide selection of vegetarian Thai cuisine for my pure vegetarian family.



I specially loved ‘Mieng Thum’, that had lemon, dried shrimps, peanuts, deep fried coconut, ginger, green chili, shallots wrapped in betel nut leaf. 



On out way out I was most amused by this



It turns out that the story behind ‘Cabbages and Condoms’ is a fantastic one; it is actually an organization that has spearheaded the safe sex movement in Thailand, saving thousands of life in the process.

Do visit it when in Bangkok…..
   

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Lot Can Happen Over a Cup Of Coffee at ‘The Square’.


The invite at ‘The Square’ was to explore the world of ‘Single Origin’ coffees with Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal and Rhicha Sinha for an interesting session of historical journey of coffee in India. Naturally I was curious, because last year, during my visit to Canary Island, I had done the study of the coffee culture in Spain and I wanted to know how it differed from India.

The Square’ Café Coffee Day specializes in single origin coffee



Single Origin Coffee, as explained by Rhicha Sinha, is the one that is specific to one particular origin. It could be entire geographical region, a small village or even one particular hill. What makes it so special is that aroma and the taste of the beans differ depending on the specific mix of tangible and intangibles characteristics of that particular area in such a way that it is impossible to replicate anywhere else in the world.



The four different beans that were displayed at the cooking station in jute bags had very strong and sweet aroma. But the actual taste of the coffee was from freshly roasted, ground coffee that was in the plunger. Rhicha Sinha, who is the senior manager and beverage consultant at Coffee Day, explained that the right method to brew the coffee was with hot mineral water. She spoke about how much research they had done to distinguishing the taste of different beans and the number of coffee cups she consumes per day..



The session started with brief talk by Rushina who expressed her love for coffee and her involvement with the company since last two years. Rushina, being a foodie, has great ideas for matching food with beverages.

We all know that food and wine can be incorporated and there are lots of other food and beverage match that people have tried to do- sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t work- for eg whisky and food, I think whisky should be had on its own. What is interesting is that we can also match the coffee with food. With coffee it actually works. You can drink coffee to wash down a snack, it can be spicy n cheesy, it could be sweet and nutty, you can pair it and it compliments with the food and it’s worth exploring. The idea is to taste them and take them where you will, with your personal coffee experience and your personal coffee story.” She said.

Rhicha on the other hand took us through the journey of coffee by making us experience the different brewed coffee and their accompaniment with the snack. The journey started with ‘Ethopian Sidamo’ the birthplace of coffee, which is harvested by hand to deliver a bean of exceptional quality and this was served with delicious tacos. This was followed with coffee of Indian origin, Mysore Nuggets extra bold, Indian Kathlekhan superior and Rajgiri pearl with accompaniments such as nutty pastry, pizza and cookie.



It involves many years of blending and brewing. In fact, the launch of The Square is the revolution since five years and it was very apt for us to have café that serves single origin coffee and we truly believe that single origin coffee is not just about selling a cup of coffee to our guest but also creating awareness about what these special coffee are.” Says Rhicha



Rushina used coffee in cooking of BBQ sauce (she did live demo at the end of the session) and it tasted delicious. One of these days I plan to make this sauce.

Signature Recipe specially created by Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal for CCDSquareUP

Katlekhan Barbecue Sauce.


Ingredients:

2 tbsp oil                                        1 ¾ Onions        chopped           
6Garlic cloves chopped                 4tbsp green chilies      
½ cup brown sugar                       2tbsp chili powder
2tbsp fresh coriander leaves                  1tsp cumin ground
200gms tomatoes, chopped          100gms tomato puree
1 stock cube                                  1cup strong Katlekhan coffee freshly brewed

Method

·     
Heat oil in heavy, large saucepan over medium-high heat
·      Add onions, garlic and chili and sauté until onions are tender, about 7minutes
·      Add brown sugar, chili powder, honey, coriander and cumin, stir until sugar dissolves
·      Stir in tomatoes with puree, crumbled stock cube and coffee, bring to boil
·      Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until sauce thickens slightly and is reduced.
·      Stir often while on the heat for about 35minutes
·      Check seasoning and add salt or pepper as needed.

I found Katlekahn Coffee candied nut mix (made by Rushina) in the foodie bag that I brought back home, and I couldn’t stop eating.

It was a fun afternoon meeting with other food bloggers and other persons from social print media. There were many ideas exchanged and the conversation was mainly around ‘food’ I think I had too many cups of coffee during the session, and then a feast over coffee infused candied nut mix, which kept me high for a long time and kept me awake much longer than my normal sleeping hours.
                 


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