Thursday, June 28, 2012

Some Firsts ... And The Food Comes Last

Earlier this month, I did something I've never done before. I went away on vacation. Solo.

                                                                 Nice line, no?

There were other firsts attached to this event - it was the first holiday I've taken where I did very little. Usually, I look forward to days filled with activity - sightseeing, sampling new food, having a little time for myself to explore the place. I would have explored the place, hadn't it been so hilly.

Another first was that it was meant to be an indolent vacation. I intended to be indolent. I didn't even particularly care to go sightseeing, not that there seemed to be much to see there. Actually, I wouldn't know, I didn't investigate. In places like those, there is usually a sunset (or sunrise) point, a legendary seat occupied by lovers or some ancient British official's wife a few hundred years ago, a lake, some boating, a temple or two.

                                                                  A room with a view

There was a lake where I went (Mulshi, near Pune). Along with the mountains, it presented a grand panorama from my room as well as the reception area of the resort at which I stayed.

The other attractions were

the clouds that swirled around the mountain tops and darkened the horizon every evening,

the showers that cooled the place down

the hibiscus that flowered in abundance,

the birds that drank their fill of nectar from them everyday (notice the upside down bird above),

and a lovely quiet punctuated by bird calls and the occasional sound of a drilling machine or a hammer far away. I had a book with me to read but it never got read in all the five days that I was there, I was too busy getting my fill of nature.

Back home, I attempted recreating a salad I had eaten there but I felt it was too plain to be blogworthy. My friend, for whom I had made it as part of a larger meal, said it was great and eminently blog-worthy, and that she wanted the recipe.

At that resort, they had combined sprouts, dates, sweet lime and fresh coriander for the salad. I didn't have dates or sweet lime, so I used some reconstituted cranberries to add the tang. It turned out very different from what I ate there. I don't know how they made it there.

There's nothing to it really, not even dressing.

The green gram/moong dal sprouts, carrots and cranberry are steamed.
The cashew nuts are toasted in about a spoon of cow's ghee.
I added just a little crystal salt to the hot ghee after I removed the cashew nuts from it, and put it in the salad.
I added a lot of chopped coriander to it and mixed it all gently.

Now what's a lunch with a friend without something rich and wicked and sweet? Hence this 5-minute bread pudding?

This is how it looks soon after it's done

And this is how it looks unmoulded. Surely the layer of custard on top is not how it's intended to turn out, it has something to do with the mug I used and the haste with which the dessert is made. I later repeated it with a wider bowl and it turned out fine, as a heterogeneous whole, custard and bread melding together, integrating much better than before.

Bon appetit!

The salad goes off to My Legume Love Affair, hosted this week by Valerie at A Canadian Foodie.