Sweet Vermicelli Upma | Vermicelli Sheera

Today I made Sweet Vermicelli Upma or Vermicelli Sheera and surprised my hubby. Having chapatis and mango jam for breakfast everyday had turned boring. My kid still loves the mango jam that I did and love to give it to her as it's homemade and healthy.  I made this healthy  sweet upma or sheera. My Mom taught me to make this dish. I used to cook vermicelli sheera using a different method which I had learnt from my Mom in law. But hubby liked the way my Mom made just because it consumed less fat(ghee/butter).

I forgot to add dry fruits like cashewnuts to this sweet dish, but adding those will make them healthier. Since I did not have green chilies, I added dry red chilies. But Mom makes it with green chilies so that they taste hot and sweet. 

Just keep in mind not to cook vermicelli for too long in water. It should not be sticky, else the dish will not look good, will be soggy and will not be as expected. Add sugar as per your taste. For diabetic people, you may omit this step or add a healthy sugar substitute.

Ingredients:                                                Prep. Time: 20 Min's, Serves: 4
1 packet 200 gms vermicelli
4 tbsp fresh grated coconut
2 dry red chillies
4 cloves
10-15 dry grapes/raisins/kismiss
5 tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt
4 crushed cardamom without peels
2 tbsp desi homemade ghee/clarified butter

Heat 1 ltr water. When water is about to reach boiling point add vermicelli.
After boiling the vermicelli drain the water by using a strainer.
Run cold water through the cooked vermicelli on the strainer.
Spread vermicelli on a plate and keep aside.

Heat a kadai/wok, add ghee. Add raisins. Once raisins get puffed, add cloves,dry red chillies and crushed cardamom without the outer peel.
Add the cooked vermicelli from the plate and toss well.
Add grated coconut and toss again.
Add sugar and a pinch of salt and mix everything well.
Taste and add more sugar if needed.

Do not overcook vermicelli as it will make the sheera soggy.
You can add dry fruits like cashewnuts and almonds and make this sheera richer.
Running cold water through the cooked vermicelli is optional, but it helps to keep the vermicelli non-sticky.
Try some more healthy breakfast options.
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Jamva Chaloji - Parsi Cuisine At Movenpick Hotel And Spa, Bangalore

I was invited for tasting the Parsi food at My Place, Movenpick Hotel and Spa last Saturday by Chef Rayomund Pardiwalla. He has selected a few of his grandmother's secret recipes for this event. I had never tasted Parsi food before and was excited to attend this event.

When I reached the venue, I was welcomed with a big smile by the staff and provided with a seat. A bread basket was served at our table with butter. Since we were thirsty, we ordered fresh lime soda to freshen up a bit. 

Fresh Lime Soda

Bread Basket
My Place at Movenpick had a luxurious type of ambiance. There were several grills and live cooking stations around. The salads and dessert counters also looked inviting. There was a bar too where mocktails and cocktails were being made. The seating arrangement was widely spread and there was lot of place to move around freely. I really liked this because the kid could run around freely.

The service was good and the staff at the hotel were quick to get the food that we ordered. Since my kid was hardly eating any food, I requested a steward to get some Chicken fried rice and he quickly got it at my table. They were also re-filling the dishes as soon as they got over.

Salads, Breads, Cheese and Cold-cuts
Since I went to the hotel to taste Parsi food, I hopped on to check the buffet which was vastly spread around. I did not try the salads as I only wanted to savour the Parsi food. We were served with some starters. The veg and non-veg starters were good. In veg starters we had Aloo Kali Mirch and Ajwaini Paneer Tikka. The Paneer tikka was flavored with carom seeds.

Veg starters - Aloo Kali Mirch & Ajwaini Paneer Tikka

In non-veg starters we were served with Mahi Seekh Kabab i.e. fish skewers cooked in clay pot oven and grilled chicken. The fish kabab was slightly bland and i had to eat it with pudina chutney, but the grilled chicken was awesome.

Mahi Seekh Kabab & Grilled Chicken
I then thought of trying the Parsi food. I found only few Parsi dishes being served on the buffet. The rest of the dishes were from different cuisines. 

Ginger Ale was served at our table and it was worth a try.

Ginger Ale
The various Parsi dishes in main course for the non-veg were Dahi no gos means lamb curry with yogurt. Since I don't eat lamb I did not try this dish.

Dahi No Gos
Gaam no Patio means Parsi fish preparation. The fish used was black pomfret. I am not sure if it is supposed to be like that but the sight of fish head with eyes in the curry kept me away from this dish.

Gaam No Patio
Jerdalu Ma Marghi was a chicken curry made with apricots and shallots. This dish was made up of chicken wings and since it was being served with skin, I did not feel like eating this. I did taste the curry and liked the curry. I had this curry with rotis.

Jerdalu Mu Marghi

The Parsi dishes in veg were as following-
Chana ni daar which is Parsi chick pea preparation. I liked this dish and it had a homely taste too. Papeta ne sekhta hi seenah was a Parsi dish with potato and drum stick and was average in taste.

Chana Ni Daar & Papeta Ne Sekhta
Patta gobhi ki bhaji or cabbage subzi was good and tasted like that made at home. Pumkin masala was also present on the buffet but I did not taste it.

Patta Gobhi Ki Bhaji & Pumkin Masala
Parsi pulao named browne rice was my all time favorite. I had to go for a second serving of this dish.

White Rice & Browne Rice
The other dishes which on the menu were from non-Parsi cuisine.
These were Murg dum biryani, Egg Masala, Spanish Braised Chicken, Pot roasted soya beef and chicken fried rice.

Clockwise: Pot Roasted Soya Beef, Chicken Fried Rice, Spanish Braised Chicken & Egg Masala 
In the veg too there were non-Parsi dishes like dal tadka, methi paneer, pavakkai peratal i.e bitter gourd tossed in south Indian spices, crumbed vegetables, chilli garlic noodles, stir fried vegetables, parsley potato and papad. Pavakkai Peratal & chilli garlic noodles was really good.

Clockwise: Stir Fried Vegetables, Methi Paneer & Pavakkai Peratal, Dal Tadka & Chilli Garlic Noodles
The desserts were widely spread and there were a variety of them like strawberry pastry, linzer tart, mango mousse, chocolate gateau, chocolate brownie, apple spiced cake, Parsi pudding, suji halwa and lot more.

Melted Chocolate
Parsi Dessert Like Gulab Jamun
Parsi Custard Pudding & Sooji Halwa
I really enjoyed the desserts. Though I had high expectations about Parsi food, I did not much enjoy it. I am not sure if Parsi dishes are cooked this way i.e. fish with head and eyes intact and chicken wings with skin on. But I loved the Parsi pulao and chicken curry. I wish there were more Parsi dishes which I could try like Parsi omlette, Koimino patio or prawns curry and chicken farcha. I have read a lot about these dishes and sometime in future I would like to taste these.

My Dessert Plate
The Parsi food is available as an add-on to regular menu at My Place only on Saturdays. Do call the restaurant and confirm before visiting.

My Rating:3/5

Cost for lunch per head is Rs.1200/- plus taxes approx.

Mövenpick Hotel & Spa Bangalore,
115, Gokula Extension, HMT Road (near BEL circle), 
New BEL Road, Bangalore

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Ambi Pur Air Effects A Great Boon In My Kitchen- A Product Review

Today I want to introduce you all to Ambi Pur Air Effects air freshener. I have received this product from BlogAdda for a review. After receiving this product I felt that I should have had bought this product long back when it got launched in the market as my house is in real need of this, specially my den... my kitchen. 

Since I am Goan, I cook fish on every other weekend at my Bangalore home. My hubby can't live without fish. My daughter too wants fish in the weekends as she can't eat fish in school during weekdays.

I cook a variety of dishes with fish. Mostly I cook fresh sea fish, but sometimes I cook dry fish too. ... and you know what happens when we cook dry fish. The whole kitchen smells fish and the fish smell spreads to living room too as the living room is attached to my kitchen. For us Goans, the smell of fried fish is divine. We just love it. My little one starts dancing when she gets fried fish smell.

But there were moments when I had unexpected guests either from my apartment or from outside visiting me or my hubby during odd hours. At this time I used to feel embarrassed when they did not feel like entering my home, mainly due to the fish odour or how uncomfortable they felt all the time due to the odour. You see they are pure vegetarians and I can understand their plight because my own Dad is a pure vegetarian. Oh he cannot even bear the smell of garlic in the kitchen.

Not just fish, but at times certain types of vegetables also smell horribly. Like raddish or cabbage, oh the smell is really bad. Even when certain types of pulses get pressure cooked... Yuck! It fills the air with odour. I also make ghee from scratch by collecting milk cream and my daughter runs out of the house by leaving her home-work aside. The smell which gets emitted during the initial process of making ghee is unbearable. Now just spraying this air freshner will ensure that she stays at home and completes the home-work too while I keep cooking various dishes in my kitchen.

I have tried several types of air fresheners from the market, but the effect was not long-lasting. It only lasted for a short time and went off. I had stopped buying air fresheners and used to burn incense sticks or put phenyl to ward off the dirty smell from my kitchen. But the smell of phenyl made my home smell like a hospital rather then a home sweet home.

Today, being a Saturday I again cooked fish. I cooked dry Mackerel curry and fried some prawns and black pomfret. As usual my house started smelling of fish. I took this opportunity to test the new Ambi Pur Air Effects air freshener that I have received.

First thing about the product was that I loved the packaging. It is packed in 275g spray can in baby pink and baby blue colors. The cost of this 275g spray can is Rs.250/-. It has an international type of look. No doubt, it is imported by Procter & Gamble home products limited, from Thailand. I received the Blossom and Breeze fragrance and I have fallen in love with it that at-times even when my home does not smell, I love to spray it just for the wonderful and fresh feeling that it gives. Also it is very convenience  to hold this can and does not put any extra pressure on the hand or on the fingers while pressing the trigger and spraying.

Whenever I buy any product, I am always curious about the ingredients that go in a product. I was impressed after knowing that this spray contains a non-flammable natural propellant along with odour eliminator. It is important to know as I will be using this spray in my kitchen to ward off the odour. Ok, but take care not to spray it on direct flame or gas. Just spray it in the air above your head and not on the floor. I would recommend to keep the food covered while spraying this.

The spray trigger is simple and easy to use and there was no leakage while spraying the freshener. Just follow the instructions at the back of the can which says that you have to hold the can upright, pull the trigger back and spray in the air in a sweeping motion throughout the entire room.

It fills the kitchen or room with a fresh smell and eliminates odour instantly. All the stale and dirty smell vanishes in a matter of few seconds. 

I am planning to gift some of these spray cans to my Mom and Mom in law because in Goa we cook fish everyday. Plus it rains heavily in Goa during this season. Most people dry clothes in the house under the fan. Due to heavy rains people cannot dry clothes outside in the sun. Clothes start stinking when they don't get dried soon. This air freshener will be very useful in that case too.

So next time some guest arrives and rings the door bell, the first thing I am gonna do is spray the Ambi Pur Air Effects and mentally say " Goodbye house-hold odours" and then welcome my lovely guests with a big smile on my face. I am sure they will have a great time.

Even if they don't say it verbally, I am sure at the back of their mind they will say "Wow, Raksha's home is smelling nice today ".

“I am blogging for #SmellyToSmiley at BlogAdda in association with Ambi Pur.”

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Chefs Basket Explorer Pasta - A Product Review

Do you like pasta? Or do you love pasta? I know many people love pasta. I totally love pasta. Weekly once I prepare pasta at home. It is perfect either for snacks or for dinner. I love to load my pasta with cheese and totally enjoy the taste. I am the only person in my house who loves pasta. The other 2 members are not so fond of pasta, but since I love it and since I cook it they too have to eat it. Today I will be writing a review about Chefs Basket Explorer Pasta that I received for product review.

When I received 3 pasta explorer kits from Chefs Basket Explorer, my hubby's first question was does those packets contain preservatives? I told him that Chefs Basket claims that every product is 100% natural and has no artificial colours, preservatives or flavors. Chefs Basket believes in providing fine-dine experiences at home, centered around world cuisines.The ingredients are hand-picked from their origins including Italy, Spain and Morocco and Mexico for an authentic culinary experience and an impeccable taste.

The pasta kit comes in a disposable paper cup with a plastic lid. Inside the cup there are separate packets of pasta, neatly packed sauce in a leak proof packet, sea salt, mixed herbs and chili flakes all from Chefs Basket. At first I could not believe that the cup could hold so many items. The instructions are written behind the paper cup. Also the spice level has been mentioned on the cup. You can choose according to your spice level. These recipe kits gets cooked in 10 Min's, but if you add vegetables and meat, the cooking time can increase to 20 Min's. These kits typically serve one person. However the pasta from one packet was tasted by atleast 2 people at my home.

I received 3 pasta explorer recipe kits. They were Chunky Arrabbiata, Cheesy Alfredo and Creamy Tomato. 

Chunky Arrabbiata is hot and spicy and is full of flavor. The spiciness is indicated at the side of the kit. This one was the first one which I tried. I loved it and I served a small portion to my hubby. He too loved this pasta. Since Indians love spicy food, I am sure most of the people will love this flavor.

Cheesy Alfredo was bit cheesy. It was mildly spicy. My kid loved this flavor. This pasta is perfect for kids. Specially after they return home from tuition or extra classes, or when they feel hungry in the evening we can serve them with this pasta. And since it is made up of Durum Wheat and loaded with veges it is healthy too. My hubby however did not like this flavour as it was not spicy. 

Creamy Tomato was medium spicy and this one was also liked by my family. But Chunky Arrabbiata was a winner out of these 3 as it perfectly matched my family's taste buds.

The pasta explorer kit gets cooked quickly and is a healthy alternative to noodles and other junk food. I myself could make it easily after returning home from office. Just loaded them with veges and enjoyed a Gourmet meal at home. I recommend to keep some pasta explorer kits handy at home. So if you get some unexpected guests, you can impress them with some delicious pasta.

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K25 Karavalli Classics At The Gateway Hotel, Bangalore

I was invited for an experiential meal on the occasion of 25th Anniversary of The Gateway Hotels signature restaurant - Karavalli. This iconic restaurant known for its authentic South Western Indian Coastal delicacies. Karavalli has, over the years, delighted gourmets, critics and celebrities alike with the aromas and flavors of home-food recipes from the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra.

Since I am a Goan, this cuisine is very close to my heart. The cuisine of our community was confined to the family kitchens in the deep interior. Karavalli, at The Gateway Hotel, Bangalore, captured and showcased them. The chef's were actually sent to the kitchens of traditional homes to learn the authentic recipes from the place of origin.

The ambiance was really beautiful. Karavalli at The Gateway Hotel, is located in a beautiful bungalow. They have 3 sitting arrangements namely outdoor, indoor without AC and indoor with AC. The Indoor with AC looked royal and ancient. We were seated in the indoor area without AC, but since they have huge windows this place is cool and airy just like traditional homes in the coastal region. Guests here prefer the outdoor seating area because of the beautiful decor which brings one close to nature.

Beautiful brass plates with banana leaves were placed on the table where the food was served.
We started with some coastal nibbles. 

The star dish of the day was The Tiger Prawns Roast was made of fresh tiger prawns. These were tossed in a Kerala spice mix full of fresh flavors of tomato, ginger, coconut slivers, lemon juice and traditional spices.

Tiger Prawns Roast

There was another star dish named Meen Eleittad from the Malabar region. This was a black pomfret marinated in Malabar masala, wrapped in banana leaf and pan fried to perfection. Each and every bite of this left me craving for more.

Meen Eleittad

Next came Koli Barthad from Coorg. It was made up of chunks of chicken, pan-fried in a blend of roasted spices and the tart flavours of Coorg Vinegar. This dish is made up of black pepper from Coorg which has become the "Gold Standard" for pepper throughout the world.

Koli Barthad

We were served with some mocktails too. 

Virgin Pinacolada
There were some cocktails which suited the Karavalli theme.

Karavalli Special Cocktail

The virgin martini was customized made specially for me.

Virgin Martini

Next came a dish from Mangalore - Kane Kaidina that is whole lady fish pan cooked after being seasoned generously with finely ground Mangalorean spices.

Kane Kaidina

In the veg starters we had Oggaraneda Aritha Pundi which is steamed rice dumplings, flavored with coconut and cumin. These dumplings were deliciously soft.

Oggaraneda Aritha Pundi
We also had Pachakkai Varuthathu which is a dish of Kerala origin that is crisp fried raw banana, tossed in a tangy Kerala spice mix.

Pachakkai Varuthathu

The main course consisted of different curry pots which were served with different accompaniments like Appam, Malabar Paratha, Idiappam and plain steamed rice.

Malabar Paratha

My favorite dish in the main course was Allapuzha Meen Curry consisting of seer fish, simmered in a moderately spiced gravy of coconut, ginger and raw mangoes. The fish curry was cooked to the mark of perfection and I thoroughly enjoyed eating it. They have used Byadgi chilies in the curries which they have sourced from its place of origin - Dharwad. These chilies provide the rich orange color to the curries and have a mild spice level.

Allapuzha Meen Curry

Kozhi Malliperlan was made up of boneless chicken pieces and vegetables in a tender gravy of coconut milk and fresh spices.

Kozhi Malliperlan

Next was a gravy from Travancore, Kerala - Attirachy Ularthu. This gravy was made up of lamb cubes cooked with onion, tomato and fresh spices,including ginger, green chilies and fennel powder.

Attirachy Ularthu

The Maavinakai Mensukkai which comes from the Havyakas region of Mangalore consists of chunks of preserved mangoes cooked in a blend of coconut and chilies. The curry consisting of coconut and red chilies and was not grinded in modern electric mixer but in mechanized stone grinders to preserve the robust flavors of the coconut-rich masalas. This is a secret why the dishes taste as delectable as they should be.

Maavinakai Mensukkai
We also had some nice hot rasam to drink and crispy fried cauliflower. The rasam was one of the best rasam I have ever had in South India.


Deep Fried Cauliflower

Delicious Pathrade were also served which was made up of steamed rice in spicy masala in Colocossia leaf.


Pachakkari Stew was an exceptionally tasty veg curry with seasonal vegetables which were gently simmered in coconut milk.

Pachakkari Stew

Urullakkizhangu Roast is a dish from the Malabar region consisting of Baby potatoes which are roasted with fennel, chili, Malabar masala in a blend of several spices and lime juice.

Urullakkizhangu Roast

Every bite of the meal took me into a flash-back of the past. It took me to my childhood where my aunties used to make Idiappam which we call "Shirvolyo" in Konkani.


We also had appam which were made of rice batter fermented in toddy to give it an authentic taste. The Malabar paratha was also as it should be.

My Plate With Food

For desserts we had some signature dishes from Goa like Bebinca and Dodol.

Desserts - Kheer, Bebinca, Dodol With Ice-Cream

Bebinca is a delightful coconut based multi-layered, Goan specialty served warm with Vanilla ice-cream. This is a difficult dish to prepare but the chef's here have mastered the art of making Bebinca and they make it at their own kitchen at Karavalli. The most impressing things was that the layers were very thin adding extra taste to the dish.

Dodol is another Goan specialty. It is a rice cake which is gently cooked in coconut milk and jaggery. It was served warm with vanila ice-cream.

We also got to taste some Elaneer Payasam i.e. chilled tender coconut pudding laced with jaggery.

Chef Naren Thimmaih shared lots of stories from the kitchen from his 25 years of experience with us. He also told us how some dishes were made and how the beautiful cutlery was custom made. The chef and the staff were extremely friendly and provided world class hospitality. K25 Karavalli Classics consists of 25 dishes handpicked by the Chef. Since the last 25 years, neither the Chef changed nor the taste of the dishes.

Chef Naren Thimmaih

The evening ended with a surprise dessert which was not on the menu. It was banana caramel ice-cream which was as yummy as possible.

Banana Caramel Ice-cream

The food here was really good and it will linger long for years to come. Synonymous with best-in-class food and service in Bengaluru, Karavalli has also been voted amongst The S. Pellegrino World's Best Restaurants. 

Cost for 2:Rs. 3,500 (approx)

 My Rating: 5/5

Gateway Hotel, 66,Residency Road, Bangalore

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