Tuesday, January 24, 2012


A bar-be-que is a lot of fun when enjoyed with friends and family in the pleasant outdoors. When it comes to a BBQ, first, we always think of what protein and vegetarian mains to marinate and grill. The starch and the vegetables are not given equal importance. Just a little bit of time spent on planning the side dishes can make your BBQ a complete and satisfying meal for all.

I have always felt that a rice or a pasta or a cous cous dish is a must at a BBQ. This dish can act as the main starch for the meal. Brown or wild rice salad, pasta salad or a mildly flavoured cous cous are interesting options.


Potatoes in any form is well appreciated in a BBQ. One of the easier options would be to par cook the potatoes and then wrap them in foil and throw them among the coals to finish the cooking. These potatoes can later be split into two and served with an interesting topping like a blue cheese dressing, mustard and walnut butter or cream cheese and pesto. The other option is to make a potato salad. It can be a cold and creamy one or the traditional warm German potato salad.


Next up, is the all important vegetables. We seldom grill vegetables in any form. Meat is always the star of most BBQs. A couple of salads in a BBQ should fulfill the vegetable requirements of a nutritional meal. Green salads tossed in a simple vinaigrette makes an elegant and simple side dish. Other salad options include a green bean salad, a multi-bean salad, beet root salad, grilled vegetable salad, carrot salad or even a fruit salad.




1 garlic clove, minced
1 shallot, minced,
1 tbsp white wine/red wine vinegar
3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive oil
1/2 - 1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp Parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste.

Take all the above ingredients in a small glass bottle, screw on the cap and shake thoroughly. Pour it over a salad of your choice and toss.

Who wouldn't want dessert after a meal? A healthy option for dessert would be fresh fruits served with vanilla custard. Other simple and delicious options include cup cakes, brownies with a fudge sauce or a cold and creamy mousse of your choice.

I would say the BBQ is now complete. Its time to put away your left overs, put your feet up and watch a good game or movie on television....................

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Pickles are not very popular in my household unless they are less spicy and have some sort of meat in them. I remember trying out all the seafood pickles from the pickle aisle of the local grocery store, one by one, and being disappointed with my purchase. After a few months, an almost full jar of pickle would be thrown away because we wouldn't have touched it after our first attempt and the pickle would have expired!!!!

About three months ago, someone mentioned to me about this new brand of pickles called the Jamin Kitchen made by someone from the Utthukuli Jamin family, now living in Chennai. I tried to source some of the pickles as I heard that they had a variety of pickles with meat and seafood in them but in vain.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a stall of Jamin Kitchen Pickles at the FICCI Ladies Bazaar event organised at the Velumani Ammal Hall in Ramakrishna Kalyana Mandapam, Coimbatore over last weekend. Without thinking twice, I bought a bottle each of the Mutton, Prawn and Fish pickle.

We first opened the mutton pickle for a taste and was happy to find a good amount of actual mutton pieces in the pickle. It had a strong flavour of mustard which worked well with the mutton and was an immediate hit with me and my husband. Next, we tried the fish pickle which was rather dry and less oily (I know, I shouldn't be complaining!) but the taste was equally good. Finally, we opened the prawn pickle after a couple of days for a taste. It tasted very similar to the mutton pickle and the mustard flavour seemed to work well with the prawns too.

There is a charming little booklet attached to every single pickle bottle about the origin of the recipes. The manufacturer offers due credit to her grandmother who was part of a Jamin family and was actively involved in the daily activities of a Jamin Kitchen and Palace.

The range of pickles from the Jamin Kitchen includes rich mutton, fish, prawn, gooseberry, raisin, mixed vegetable and mushroom. They also have a range of sweet preserves which includes gooseberry, gooseberry and apple combo, gooseberry and papaya combo and orange marmalade.

The non-vegetarian pickles are priced on the higher side with each bottle (300gms) costing a little over Rs300. But when you actually get good quality mutton/fish/prawn pieces often in your pickle then you feel the price is justified. I have not seen these pickles on the counter in the regular grocery stores here in Coimbatore. The following is the contact address to the dealer for Jamin Kitchen pickles in Coimbatore.

Ashha D. Raj,
Dealer for Jamin Kitchen in Coimbatore,
1211, Shakthi Illam, C S R Lay-out,
Trichy Road, Coimbatore - 641045.
Mobile : 98422 02376
E-mail : ashhadraj@yahoo.com

Monday, January 9, 2012


I am a huge fan of Dim Sum. From the first time I visited a Dim Sum restaurant in Chicago (Three Happiness) in 2001, I have been a devotee of Dim Sum. I'll not miss a single opportunity to dine at a Dim Sum restaurant while traveling. In India, the best Dim Sum I have had so far is at The Zen restaurant in Leela Palace, Bengaluru.

Before my trip to Singapore in December I did extensive research online to locate some good Dim Sum restaurants. I came across an interesting blog (www.ladyironchef.com) and it had an impressive list of Dim Sum restaurants in Singapore along with reviews. Among the top 3 Dim Sum restaurants was Taste Paradise at the Ion on Orchard road. Since I was staying very close to Orchard road, I made a mental note to check out this restaurant while in Singapore.

During my visit to Singapore I was at the Ion one day without any concrete plans for lunch. I decided to give the Taste Paradise a try. When I arrived at the restaurant I was told that I had to wait for about an hour for a table. In spite of having two hungry children along with me, we managed to wait an hour for the table. After an hour's wait we were led into a labyrinth of rooms that were all elegantly filled with dining tables.

Once seated, the service was very quick and an array of Dim Sums arrived at our table in less than 10 minutes. There were 2 small menus with a variety of Dim Sums. One thing I noticed in most of the chinese restaurants in Singapore is that Pork belly and BBQ pork runs out very quickly. It'll be wise to reserve these items on the phone while making a reservation if you are very particular about trying them out. We were one of the last tables to be seated and hence some of the pork delicacies were not available.

Hand rolled Spring rolls with Bacon and spring onion. It was recommended to us by the waitress and she said it was very popular among the kids visiting the restaurants. My children truly enjoyed the spring rolls which were served along with some mayonnaise.

Steamed prawn dumpling. This is one of my favorite Dim Sums. All you taste in this Dim Sum is the prawn. It is a very simple dumpling of just prawns encased in a thin wrapper and steamed. With a bit of soy sauce, it truly is a delectable dish.

BBQ pork with a Portuguese sauce. When we asked for Pork belly we were told that they had sold out and there was no more available. Instead of the Pork belly this was recommended to us and it did not disappoint us.

Steamed Scallop and chive dumplings. This is another one of my favorites. I love the subtle flavor of chives along with fresh seafood.

According to the ladyironchef, the BBQ pork buns at the Taste Paradise were one of the best in Singapore. These were definitely the largest and the juiciest I have ever had.

Steamed pork ribs with black beans and chillies. I never fail to order this particular Dim Sum since pork, black beans and chillies are a great combination and they never let me down.

Sui Mai. It is a lovely and simple dumpling of pork and prawn topped with flying fish roe on top. No Dim Sum menu is complete without Sui Mai in it. It really is difficult to get this dumpling wrong, so it is a must-order in any Dim Sum restaurant.

And finally, Shanghai-style pork dumpling. This is was my least favorite of all the Dim Sums I had at Taste Paradise.

Our lunch was delicious and the service was very efficient. We were left with no room for dessert so we never ordered any of the sweet Dim Sums. It was well worth the wait to get a table at the Taste Paradise. We tried to go back the following day for another go at Dim Sum at the Taste Paradise but they were fully booked and couldn't accommodate us. So do remember to make a reservation for a Dim Sum Lunch at Taste Paradise since they seem to be a popular place and are fully reserved, most of the time.

Taste Paradise Ion Orchard
2 Orchard Turn
#04-07 ION Orchard
Tel: +65 6509 9660

Sunday, January 1, 2012


I am truly happy to share my jewel of a find - Vom Fass in Singapore. I was walking around aimlessly trying to while away some time while waiting for my table at a chinese restaurant in Ion mall, Singapore. And that is precisely the moment, I walked by Vom Fass, a specialty store that sells liqueurs, gourmet oils, fruit vinegars and special single malt whiskeys.

Since my trip to France in May 2010, I have been on a serious look out to buy Creme de Cassis to make Kir Royale. Kir Royale is a great aperitif and I remember starting my evenings with a Kir Royale every single day. I was very excited to find Creme de Cassis in this beautiful little store. They were also selling Creme de Framboise, which is also used with champagne or white wine for a Raspberry flavoured aperitif.

This store has a fantastic concept where you get to pick a beautiful glass bottle first then get it filled with a liqueur or other specialty product from the store and then they personalise it for you. And when you run out of the liqueur you can always take the bottle back to the store for a refill.

It is apparently a Germany-based company with outlets in the U S, U K and Singapore. For product information and recipes to use their products, take a look at www.vomfassusa.com and www.vomfassuk.com.

The shop carries a wide range of liqueurs - chocolate and coffee based cream liqueurs, citrus based liqueurs (limoncello, orange liqueur, etc), Kirsch, Nut based liqueurs (nussino - hazelnut, walnut, etc) and fruit based liqueurs (passion fruit, mango, apple, blueberry, etc). Some of the gourmet oils they sell are avocado, pumpkin seed, basil, truffle, grape seed, hazelnut and almond oil. The shop also sells a variety of aged balsemic vinegars from Modena.

And the miniature barrels contain a variety of single malt whiskeys, cognac, sherries, rum and armanac.

It is a very interesting store for people who want to pick special ingredients to make cocktails and gourmet creations. And for those us that have encountered unusual liqueurs in baking recipes will be thrilled to find all those and many more other options in this store. I felt like a kid in a candy store in Vom Fass. So those of you that travel to Singapore in the future should try and stop by at this place for unusual finds.

And here is a picture of my loot from Vom Fass, I can't wait to use them in my cocktails and baked goodies.

ION Orchard
2 Orchard Turn #04-25
Singapore 238801
Phone: 6509-8409/8284-4343