Looking for a quick and easy way to spice up everyday meals? Pick up food writer Monica Bhide's latest, Modern Spice: Inspired Indian Flavors for the Contemporary Kitchen. Bhide, who has written for the New York Times, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine and the Washington Post, blends old school spices and techniques with fresh, vibrant flavors, like pomegranate and mango, in both sweet and savory dishes.
Bhide offers a clear, illustrated front-of-the-book primer for those dabbling with Indian cuisine for the first time, explaining how to play with the spices until you find the right masala to fit your tastes. Once you have the basics down, she recommends tweaking the recipes to amp up or tone down the flavors to suit your palate.
Stand-outs include the lux and luscious coriander-and-fennel crusted lamb chops, the tangy, crunchy Indian onion rings with chaat masala, a super-easy guava-coconut kulfi. Yum. Navdeep will no doubt be treated this meal sometime soon.
What sets Bhide's cook book apart from the glut of Indian how-to tomes that weigh down bookstore shelves these days, though, is her thoughtful and thoroughly modern take on sub-continent-inspired libations. Forget mojitos -- try Bhide's green mango and rum Emerald-ade. Or, for a more traditional flavor, try the inspired Rum and Roses, a cooling blend of sweet Rooh Afza syrup, lime juice and white rum. For more on Bhide and her culinary adventures, check out her blog.
We've been in Vegas for four days, and it's been all about excess -- too much food, too much shopping, and tonight, what's sure to be too much drinking and partying.
It kind of makes you stop and think, considering that today is Christmas. Usually we spend it at home, warm in our PJs, with family in front of the tree. We do our presents on Christmas Eve, so Christmas Day is all about cozy togetherness, enjoying each other's mellow company after the chaos of the holidays.
Sitting in our Vegas hotel room with Navdeep and Meena this morning, it's sort of the same sensation. We've had our tea and our cereal, and we're hanging out, watching the Food Network and deciding what to do with our day. It's sure to descent into excess -- Vegas always has its way. Although we swore off buffets after over-indulging at the Spice Market spread last night -- where one diner was carried off on stretcher. What a Christmas Eve that family must have had, huh?
But for the moment, with Meena and Navdeep, I can manage to feel at home for the holidays. Even here in the cold heart of Sin City.
Had a very lazy day and it was great. Sona, on the other hand, shopped up a storm at the Premium Outlets. I woke up around 10 a.m. and hung out in the bed for half-an-hour, then spent a good hour or so in the jacuzzi -- which is in our room! I went downstairs to use the Internet, which was thankfully much faster than it was on Monday. I went back upstairs and ate the leftover Chicken Madiera from the Grand Lux Cafe. Having a kitchen whilst on vacation does have it's advantages.
Later, I took the shuttle to Harrah's and walked all the way down to the Stratosphere, then all the way back down to MGM. Then I met up with Sona and her sister, Meena. Initially, they wanted to go to the Cheesecake Factory, which I had no interest in. Why travel across the country if you're just going to go to the same old places you could find at home? Fortunately, they were famished so we decided to go to the Buffet at the Spice Market. But first, we stopped for some whipped cream-topped jello shots. Yum.
I had a $10 Jack and Coke -- I figured I was going to lose the money anyway gambling -- and then we all ate like gluttons. We got there at around 5 p.m. and were seated pretty quicky -- 10 minute wait on Christmas Eve? We lucked out. An hour and a bit later, when we finally looked up from our plates, the line had quadrupaled. And by the time we left, it was absolutely INSANE. Not only was it long inside, but there was a huge line upstairs -- to get to the line downstairs! Adn the attendant upstairs was telling people it was a 15 minute wait to be seated once downstairs.
The buffet itself wasn't very impressive, although the food was delicious. The Middle Eastern section had tabbouleh, lamb and chicken skewers, and hummus. So yes, a bit sparse. But the lamb was really good. There were loads of soups, Asian foods, Moroccan delicacies, and lots of seafood dishes. Desserts were good, but not as riveting as Rio's. The candy floss was a nice bonus.
We got home and were all set to go to the Playboy club, but we were all so stuffed we fell asleep. Now it's probably one a.m. and we've spent close to $750 in three days -- and we're not even gambling! There was this guy at the Spice Market who collapsed. It was surreal seeing the stretcher and this guy laid out on the floor -- he fell from his chair at his table -- with everyone around him still piling up on food. Including us! Tomorrow's Christmas Day and we have reservations at this lovely Italian joint at teh Venetian called Canelleto. They have calf liver! Okay, off to bed now.
Posted by Navdeep, 12/25/08 at 1:32 a.m. from Las Vegas
We're blogging about our six-month honeymoon adventure in India -- and beyond. Here you'll find our ruminitions on everything from Bollywood to baklava (yum!), as well as fun outtakes from from our trip and our daily lives. For fabulous photos, videos and travelogues from our trip, check out IshqInABackpack.com.
Want to know more about us? Navdeep can brush a cockroach off of his plate and continue eating. Sona flies into hysterics at the very idea of a cockroach (or any other creepy-crawly thing) within a ten-mile radius.
In addition to the occasional auto and cycle-rickshaw, Sona has only ever traveled in India via the comfy and superfast Shatabdi Express. Navdeep enjoys hair-raising bumpy local bus rides and is an avid fan of desi ghee, haggling, and we both love our Limca. We may be polar opposites when it comes to traveling, but we have enough in common to meet halfway (or so we think!).
Join us on one of hopefully many backpacking honeymoon adventures where we combine our skills in photography and videography to blog about the different places we visit, the people we meet, and the delicious food we eat.
Oh and Navdeep kills a few insects at Sona's "request."