Our Sri Lankan Adventures!

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Well Hello…

It has been a while since I’ve written anything. Life has been busy in Mumbai ūüôā

Last year, I was itching to travel. One of the locations I wanted to go was Sri Lanka, but for some reason my husband was so against it!!! He just didn’t think of Sri Lanka as exotic enough ūüôā So¬†even though¬†I had done all the research, I had to let go of my mini vacation dream.

Till one Sunday…

My hubby had gone out for coffee with a friend one Sunday afternoon in November.  When he came back, I was shocked when he asked me, should we go to Sri Lanka?! I was speechless and I also felt betrayed. I felt betrayed that after me mentioning it so many times, he only decided he wanted to go when a friend recommended.

Long story short, I think that was the first time we planned a vacation spontaneously.  The first thing was visa. For Sri Lanka you can get a visa on arrival but you have to apply online for your ETA, pay and get approval. It took us 15 minutes and the visa approvals were done. You can get yours done here http://bit.ly/16f29xi

Next was our tickets. We had to pay more than what normally is the cost for tickets since we were booking last minute. We used coupons & booked ours through http://www.goibibo.com/ . Our cost was approx Rs.46k for both of us return tickets.

We stayed in Sri Lanka for 6 nights.  Our purpose was mainly relaxation.

We booked a car for the duration of the trip. It is a common thing to do in Sri Lanka specially if you want to visit multiple places.¬† Majority of luxury hotels provide room & meals for the chauffeur. So you don’t have to pay extra for that.¬†We landed in Colombo very early am. For the car rental we talked to Azman at “Carsons Rent A Car. In case you want to book from them the number is +94773401410

Our chauffeur picked us up and we drove to Ahungalle to stay in ‚ÄúThe Fortress at the Galle Hotel‚ÄĚ (http://www.thefortress.lk/).

The hotel is lovely. They had upgraded our room to a pool suit. ¬†The rooms are amazing. Our room was walk out to the beach and the view was spectacular. ¬†The swimming pool was also nice. However, if you plan to use the beach, it won’t be possible in this hotel. ¬†You can always drive 25-30 minutes to different beaches for swimming & water sport.

The Fortress at the Galle Hotel

The other issue with this hotel is that the food is not really that good.  Breakfast is included but it gets very repetetive and boring.  The staff are very nice and always helpful.

For a nice meal I ¬†recommend you visiting the Fort at Galle, there are so many cute boutique cafes anOur Pool Suitd restaurants to eat. I definitely recommend ‚ÄúPeddlers Inn Caf√©‚ÄĚ & ‚ÄúFortaleza‚ÄĚ for good fun lunch.

For fine dining in the same area look into a nice dinner at Amangalla Hotel Galle.

In terms of things to do is pretty much a very calm environment. There is Fort which you can walk around and visit boutiques and antic shops. Grab a nice lunch and that’s it pretty much it. We spent one night at the Unawatuna beach listening to music and drinking bear. But there is no night life in the Galle area.

Traditional Sri Lankan Meal

Traditional Sri Lankan Meal

For the next 3 nights we stayed in Nuwara Eliya Region in ‚ÄúHeritance Tea Factory‚ÄĚ Hotel. There is pretty much nothing there to do except relax, enjoy the scenery and have tea. Our drive from the Galle to Nuwara Eliya was too long. I had searched on Google map & I expected 3 hrs drive. There was construction going on & it took 8 hrs. So most of our day was pretty much gone and we were getting very frustrated.

In Nuwara Eliya the tempreture is much cooler than the beach which I was not prepared for. The hotel was nice. It used to be an old tea factory renovated into a hotel http://www.heritancehotels.com/teafactory/ .

When we arrived they greeted us with Prayers & served us hot spice tea.¬†It was very tasty & definitely refreshing. ¬†We didn’t do much in this hotel either except going for walks and breathing the fresh crisp air. One day we went for a tea plucking experience. We were educated about the process and then got to pluck tea leaves. Next day they sent us a box of tea made from the tea leaves we had plucked.

Tea Station View Of the Hills

The food in Heritance tea Factory is amazing if you actually go to the restaurant & order a la cart. We had one of the best lamp chops ever with a bottle of red wine! Don’t ask me how I felt

the next day!

Unfortunately we had not planned on visiting Colombo. Something which I did regret later.  On our way to the airport we stopped for lunch in Colombo & had a wonderful meal at the Gallery Cafe.

I have to emphasize that Sri Lanka is a small but diverse.  Depending on what you would like to do the recommendation would be different.

When I researched the following was recommended as top things to do in Sri Lanka;

  • Climb Sigriya Rock Fortress
  • Ancient Kingdom of Polonnaruwa
  • Dambulla Cave Temple
  • Kandy City & Temple of the tooth relic as well as a cultural show
  • Nuwara Eliya & a visit to a tea factory
  • A jeep safari at Yala National Park
  • Sunny down south beaches

You may ask, will I go back to Sri Lanka? The answer is a definite yes.  It is a top destination for me due to its diversity, distance, serene beaches, cheaper booz & Our Rupee is actually stronger!!  For me the next time I go to Sri Lanka it will be definitely Colombo & Kandy!

I hope you also start looking into places you didn’t think of exploring before! Feel free to leave your comments & feedbacks!

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Men Fashion Fall Look

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Hello Darlings!

So I had some free time & decided I wanted to put together an outfit for men. ¬†I went to¬†http://www.mrporter.com/¬†and picked few items that I liked and put together this fall look. ¬†Everything in this outfit is comfortable & stylish and all items can be purchased online. If your pocket doesn’t allow you to spend this much, then maybe you can just put together a similar look for less!!! Please let me know your feedback.

Cheers!

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Vegetarian Quesadilla with a Chinese Twist!

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Hello, it‚Äôs me again & my cooking adventures!¬† So something amazing I‚Äôve noticed in many cultures & countries is that we take a recipe, make changes and we make it our own. For example you go to ethnic restaurants in U.S and everything is ‚ÄúAmericanized‚ÄĚ! You go to an Italian or Mexican restaurant in India & the food is ‚ÄúIndianized‚ÄĚ.¬† Is that wrong? Not necessarily as long as the taste is good ūüėČ

So let me share with you this very interesting recipe! We tried this and really loved it, though it has a twist!

Ingredients for 4:

  • 2.5 Cups Mixed Vegetables (as you wish)- cut into thin slices
  • 1 tea spoon garlic- chopped
  • Little olive oil
  • 2 spoon of Szechuan sauce
  • 1 table spoon of tomatoes ketchup
  • 1 table spoon Green part of spring onion
  • 2 table spoon of corn flour
  • Cheese slices (or any cheese that melts and you like)
  • 8 Rotis (or four tortillas)

Directions:

Add garlic in a pan and sauté in olive oil for 1 minute. Add onion to the garlic and sauté for another 2 minute on high. 

Add all the veggies to the mix and sauté for another 2 minutes on high.  Add your Szechuan sauce and the tomatoes ketchup.  Add salt according to your taste.  Add the greens of spring onion.

Add corn flour in water and mix.  Add this mix to the vegetable mix, stir and turn the gas off. 

Cut each cheese slice in smaller pieces (or if using solid regular cheese, then grate). 

Place one roti on a plate, put some cheese pieces, cover with vegetable mix, put some more cheese pieces and cover with another roti.

Put little oil in the tawa, cover it with something heavy and bake on both sides till it is crispy.  Cut in 4 pieces and serve hot.

 Enjoy!

* Roti: is a type of Indian bread made at home very similar to soft flour tortillas

* Tawa: In India that is what we call a flat pan or griddle 

 

 

My First Time Cooking Indian!

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So now that I’m almost settled at home, I have started taking part in some of the house’s routine activities.  The most important being cooking. Well granted our maid is a wonderful cook and most of the time she cooks. However, ive been told that as an Indian housewife you need to know how to cook Indian food so that not only you are aware of what you are being fed by your maid/cook, but also in case one day they don’t show up, you are capable of cooking.

Now as for me, I’ve always loved shopping for groceries & cooking.  However, this joy of grocery shopping & cooking has been reduced due to lack of those wonderful supermarkets we have in U.S.  Also since most of the time I feel so hot, it has become more difficult for me to cook.

That being said, I know a handful of cuisines from different countries, but not Indian. Also, the other challenge for me has been cooking vegetarian.

Being from Iran, I have been raised on non-veg & rice.¬† So no wonder when it came to trying Indian food, the first vegetarian option I thought of was ‚ÄúVegetarian Biryani‚ÄĚ.¬† I made it today for lunch and my MIL & husband really praised me. ¬†So I thought I share with you how I did it.

Ingredients (4 servings):

1 Cup Basmati Rice

2 Pinches Of Saffron

3 Tomatoes, Finely Chopped

2 Green Peppers (Capsicum), Sliced

1 1/2 Cup Mixed Vegetables, Boiled

1 tbsp Chopped Coriander

2 tbsp Milk

Salt To Taste

Paste- Follow Instruction Below

For mixed boiled vegetables I used potatoes, carrots and zucchinis. You can try different vegetables according to your taste.

Rice:

Boil the rice with a bit of salt.  When the grains are a bit soft, drain and cool.

In a small bowl add very small amount of ground saffron, add a bit of hot water so the saffron is dissolved.

Add the saffron liquid to the cooked rice and mix well.

Paste:

Make a paste out of the following:

2 small onions, 6 cloves of garlic, 8 leaves of mint, 20 mm piece of ginger, 1 teaspoon turmeric(haldi), 4 small elaichi (cardamom), 1 teaspoon poppy seed, 1 stick cinnamon, 3 green chilies, 1 teaspoon red pepper powder

Vegetables:

In a small pot heat a little oil, add the paste and fry for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and capsicum and fry again for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the boiled vegetables and coriander and cook for a few minutes.  When ready set aside.

Put a little oil at the bottom of a pot.  Add enough rice to cover the bottom. Next add a layer of vegetable mix. Follow the same order ending with rice.  Sprinkle 2 tablespoon milk & 1 tablespoon of water. Cover & put on high heat for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat and let bake for another 25 minutes.  Before serving mix the rice and vegetables and serve hot.

Enjoy!

Trousseau Or Not To Trousseau?

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We all grow up dreaming¬†about our weddings! What I never fantasized about was running between stores and trying to buy outfits¬†that is supposed to be with me to take to my new home. ¬†Call it trousseau or any other fancy name, I still think this is a form of “Dowry”!!! ooooooooooooooh ya I used the forbidden word. ¬†Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against dowry, we also have it in Iran. ¬†It is just the way it is done here that I have a problem with. ¬†In Iran, the groom is supposed to buy or rent a place for his new bride to move in. ¬†So after that place is picked (this usually happens before the wedding), the bride furnishes her new home! Wether more money is spent or not, I am sure it differs case to case. ¬†However, it is definitely less trouble. ¬†You visit furniture shops, appliance shops and etc, pay, and they deliver!

Now let’s look at Indian style, you have to accumulate as many little and big things as you can. ¬†For months going from store to store, shops, exhibitions, designers to pick clothing. ¬†Then starts the shoe, purse, make up¬†and more shopping. Oh and when everything is purchased, you are still not done! Now you have to spend more time and money into packing them!

Personally, and I mean no disrespect to any culture, but I think the few months before the wedding should be devoted to the bride to be to relax! All the stress and running around doesn’t do well for the hair and skin! ¬†And believe me, everything is stressful unless you have so much money that you just go to the best designer drop the cash and tell them to make all your clothes!

Please Please Leave me your comments (Encourage me through my Trousseau shopping ;-))

Cheers!

To Wed or Not To Wed!

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Hi,

No, believe me, it is not what you think! ¬†We haven’t had a fight and I’m not talking about getting married. ¬†I am Microsoft Excel fanatic, I use it for everything. I even use it to plan a regular simple dinner for two. ¬†So obviously, I have my excel all set up for my wedding planning. The way I plan it is, I have a total fixed budget which is distributed amongst different categories such as clothing, jewelry, actual wedding and etc. ¬†My goal so far has been to have cash leftover to save it. Blame it on my few years working as an accountant or actually working hard and valuing the money. ¬†The problem is, saving cash is not easy when you have a limited budget and you want the best ūüė¶ . So I was thinking, maybe we should do all or nothing. Maybe it is smart not to have a wedding at all and spend the entire money on purchasing a property no matter how far or how small. ¬†So many people say that anything in Mumbai or surrounding neighborhoods will appreciate.

The other option is not to be very smart, go with my heart and spend all the money on the wedding.

So I discussed the options with my fiance.  Both of us are studying and analyzing the options!

So I want to know what you guys think! Please take my poll.  

Cheers!

Japanese Hot Pot aka Shabu-Shabu

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Hi

So a dear friend of ours invited us over for Shabu-Shabu last night.  I really enjoyed it so I wanted to share and tell you more about it.  So simply said, Shabu-Shabu is a hot-pot meal that you make yourself at the table, sort of like fondue but different.

First you should decide what you want to make, seafood, chicken, lamb, noodles or vegetable. For some vegetarian options you can also use tofu and vegetable dumplings. Or it could be all of them together as we did!

Then the main thing becomes your soup base. It could be as simple as boiling water in the hot-pot and adding vegetable cubes or chicken stock cubes. You could use ready soup bases from grocery stores.  You can boil water and add some veggies. So it all depends on you and how you like it! After the soup base is ready you let it simmer.  This is when you are ready to add your thinly sliced meat to the hot-pot.  You simple put them in and wait for them to be cooked. Depending on what you are cooking time is different.

After your meat is ready you take it out with chopstick and enjoy it with a side of noodles, rice or veggies!  You will also need dipping sauces that you can purchase from stores, some good options are soy sauce, chilli sauce and sesame sauce.

I have to say Shabu-Shabu is very healthy and tasty! I hope this encourages you to check out some recipes and try it.

Let me know how it goes!

Cheers!