September 23, 2014

Nam Mengluck - Thai Basil Seeds Drink | Coolers

Sawadikap (Welcome in Thai) ! After the Spanish Gazpacho yesterday, we move to Thailand with a refreshing Drink for ABC International Blogging Marathon

On our last visit to Bangkok, which is known as a shopper's haven, I was simply blown away. I dont know if Bangkok is truly representative of Thai Cuisine, but most of them seem to have an Indian connection (coconut milk, lime leaves, kaffir lime, Basil, galangal) - being a semi-tropical country I guess India and Thailand have some common thread out there. 

The “Red” Army (a group of peace warriors) keeps the government busy with its frequent hartals (strikes) ! Quite a resemblance to India in that communal Left faction too J)
The cute elephant motif (quite popular in Thailand)
greeting us in the hotel room
Its a virtual feast to the non vegetarians, who simply keep sipping on these broths in the streets. I am pleased to share some pictures from that trip here. 
Bangkok skyline from our hotel
Before we get to the dish of the day, quick 5 facts about Thailand (Source - Wiki) :

Map of Thailand
Location Map of Thailand
  • There is evidence of human habitation in Thailand that has been dated at 40,000 years before the present, with stone artefacts dated to this period at Tham Lod Rockshelter in Mae Hong Son.
  • Thailand controlled the Malay Peninsula as far as Malacca in the 1400s and held much of the peninsula, including Temasek (Singapore) some of the Andaman Islands and a colony on Java, but eventually failed when the British used force to guarantee their suzerainty over the sultanate.
  • In Bangkok, there are 23,000 free public Wi-Fi Internet hotspots.[88] The Internet in Thailand also consists of 10Gbit/s high speed fiber-optic lines that can be leased and ISPs such as KIRZ that provide residential Internet services
  • Thai culture has been shaped by many influences, including Indian, Lao, Burmese, Cambodian, and Chinese.

This 'spirit house' is omnipresent throughout Bangkok
to ward off evil spirits - its present at the entrance of prominent buildings,
including our Hotel
Clean, tidy sidewalks outside our hotel in the CBD (central business district)
The bridge on top left is the metro line which connects most corners of the city
Mangoes, Coconuts, Sea food, a variety of sauces, Rice, Broth and noodles form a major part of Thai Cuisine. My exposure to Thai cooking was Thai Green Curry, Mango Sticky Rice, Pad Thai Noodles,Red Curry, Coconut Milk and the like. 

Then I saw this post on PJ's blog which I not only bookmarked it but made it almost instantly thanks to all easily available material. So lets make Nam Mengluck - Thai Basil Seeds Drink

Country – Thailand
Dish – Nam Mengluck (Thai Basil seeds drink) 
Recipe type – Beverage
Difficulty level – Easy
Recipe adapted from Here
Prep 10 mins | Cook time : Nil | Serves : 2
Serving Suggestions : Chilled


  • Chilled water – 1 cup (approx. 200 ml)
  • Basil / Sabza seeds – ½ tsp (I think you can tone down a bit to ¼ tsp may be as these swell)
  • Rose Syrup (I used thick rose crush) – sweetened – 3 tsp
  • Ice cubes
  • Mint or basil to garnish


  1. Soak the seeds in 4-6 TBSP of water for 15/20 mins. They swell quite a bit.
  2. Now to chilled glasses, add the chilled water, 2 tsp each of these soaked seeds (drained), Rose syrup / crush, ice and mix well
  3. Top with crushed ice and garnish as desired.

Check out what other Marathoners have dished out today. 

September 22, 2014

Grilled Tomato Gazpacho | Spanish Soup | Easy Soup Recipes

Inspiration comes from so many unknown corners. I had happily cooked and scheduled a different post for Alphabet S as part of the World Blogging Marathon. Till dear husband presented me this wonderful all-veggie-recipe book by Ritu Dalmia. Aptly called “Diva Green” it’s a treasure trove of vegetarian (some vegan) recipes from across the world. More on the book review later…

Wanting to make the most of the present, the enthu-cook in me set out to hunt recipes that would suit my larder and factor in a dash of health too. I have a thing for roasted / Grilled stuff – bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli : the smoky earthiness that wafts out is very comforting. Naturally, I was looking for something that would be a meal by itself, considering I would be cooking it for an early brunch for myself. I picked this really cool and yummy Grilled Tomato Gazpacho - a Spanish speciality soup. I had made a cucumber gazpacho earlier, and we all loved it.

     Wiki tells me : "Spanish cuisine is a way of preparing varied dishes, which is enriched by the culinary contributions of the various regions that make up the country. It is a cuisine influenced by the people who, throughout history, have conquered the territory of that country. Therefore you have the following types of cuisine within Spain itself, each drawing from local and cultural influences.  Andalucian, Aragon, Asturain, Balearic, Basque, Canary Islands, Cantabria,  Castille and Leon, Catalonian, GAlican, Madrid, Murciam, Navarre, Valencian"

Andalusian cuisine is twofold: rural and coastal. Of all the Spanish regions, this region uses the most olive oil in its cuisine. The dish that has achieved the most international fame is Gazpacho. It is a kind of cold soup made with five vegetables, bread, vinegar, water, salt and olive oil. Other cold soups include: pulley, Zoque, salmorejo, etc.

My elder kid is a huge fan of tomato soups, and I was hoping she would enjoy the chilled version too. I followed the recipe to the T and served it along with some roasted veggies and French garlic bread for a super filling supper.

If you are fond of chilled soups, recommend this highly.  On my part, I loved it, and would be making this very often, as well as dig out other gems from my latest cookbook !

Country : Spain
Dish : Grilled Tomato Gazpacho
Served : Roasted bread, Veggies on the side

Prep time - 15 mins | cook time - 15 mins
Chilling time - min ½ hour
Serves : 4

  • Ripe Tomatoes - 350 gm (about 5-6 large)
  • Red Pepper - ½ (deseeded)
  • Cucumber - ½ no (diced)
  • Onion - ½ - cubed
  • Garlic  pods - 2 (minced)
  • Almonds (soaked) - 1 TBSP
  • Bread - 2 slices, trimmed and coasrsely chopped
  • Salt & Pepper - to taste
  • Balsamic Vinegar - 1 TBSP
  • Olive Oil - 2 TBSP
  • Vegetable Stock - 3 cups
Garnish :

  • Cream - 1 TBSP
  • Dried herbs - ½ tsp
Served with:
  • Herbed Potato Slices, Roasted Veggies and Toasted Bread

  1. Pre heat oven to 200 C
  2. Place the whole tomatoes wrapped in foil and roast till the skin blisters (approx. 12-13 mins - depending on how juicy the tomatoes are). Deskin, deseed and roughly chop the pulp.
  3. In a large bowl, combine all the veggies (cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers), bread chunks, vinegar, almond, stock, garlic and onions. Season with half the salt and pepper. Chill for 30-45 mins.
  4. Blitz the mixture in batches till you get a smooth puree. You may strain or serve as it is (chilled again before serving)
  5.  Garnish with cream and / or olive oil and serve with veggies on the side
Quick tip to make roasted veggies I wrapped a couple of bell peppers and potatoes along with the tomatoes.  Once your soup is chilling, cut the veggies into desired shapes, sauté for 1 min in 1 tsp of olive oil, cumin, a dash of paprika and salt. Season the veggies with lime juice if desired and serve immediately with warm toasted bread and chilled Gazpacho

 Lets check what the other Marathoners have dished out today....

September 21, 2014

Russian Olivier Salad - Non-Mayo version | Quick Salad | How to make Russian Salad without Mayonnaise

This Russian Olivier salad had been on my to-do lists for long. It's an intrinsic part of wedding and corporate buffets, along wit another similar salad - Caesars salad . Usage of Mayo in this salad - an ingredient totally detested at home - had been a detergent in making this earlier. But I had a tin of sour cream that was going to expire, so I mixed a tbsp of sour cream, a dash of tomato ketchup , 2 tsp of cream and 1/3 cup milk to make this amazingly tasty salad. This goes to R for Russia for the World Blogging Marathon

Officially known as the Russian Federation ,Russia is a country in northern Eurasia It is a federal semi-presidential republic. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares land borders with NorwayFinlandEstoniaLatviaLithuania and Poland BelarusUkraine, GeorgiaAzerbaijanKazakhstanChinaMongolia, and North Korea.

Russian cuisine widely uses fish, poultry, mushrooms, berries, and honey. Crops of rye, wheat, barley, and millet provide the ingredients for various breads, pancakes and cereals, as well as for kvass, beer and vodka drinks. Black bread is rather popular in Russia, compared to the rest of the world. Flavourful soups and stews include shchiborschukhasolyanka and okroshkaSmetana (a heavy sour cream) is often added to soups and salads. Pirozhkibliniand syrniki are native types of pancakes.

You can use any combo of fruits and veggies in this, apples and pineapples being the mainstay. I used a combo of boiled veggies (beans, carrots, peas - blanched slightly wit a dash of salt), cherry tomatoes and some peeled and cubed apples. Make sure both the veggies/fruits as well as the dressing is chilled. You may serve this standalone or with roti/ naan and gravies as part of lunch. Either way, its gonna be a star !

Country : russia
Dish : russian Olivier salad
Served : as it is

Prep time - 10 mins | cook time - 5 mins
Chilling time - min 1 hour
Serves : 4

  • Boiled / blanched veggies : carrots , beans, peas, baby corn - approx 1 cup
  • Apples - 1/2 medium (cored, peeled and cubed)
  • Cherry tomatoes - a handful - halved (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil - 1 tsp
  • Lettuce leaves / large cabbage leaves - cleaned - to serve the salad in
Dressing :
  • Hung curd - 3/4 cup
  • Sour cream - 2 tbsp
  • Tomato ketchup - 1/4 tsp
  • Milk - 1/3 cup
  1. Blanch veggies with a pinch of salt. Drain. Refrigerate this along with the cubed apple
  2. Whisk the hung curd and sour cream well , free of lumps
  3. Add milk little by little to make a slightly runny dressing
  4. Add a dash of tomato ketchup and mix well. Refrigerate  the dressing for 1/2 hour.
  5. Just before serving, add a dash of olive oil to the veggies, toss.
  6. Now mix the dressing into it. Add requisite salt and toss once more with the veggies, apples, tomatoes and serve immediately on a bed of lettuce / cabbage

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