Hummus


Bring On The Chef In You,  presents ‘Hummus’,   a dip made from cooked, mashed chickpeas blended with Tahina paste, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic.

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Hummus is useful in vegetarian and vegan diets; like other combinations of grains and pulses, it serves as a complete when eaten with bread.

As an appetizer and dip, Hummus is scooped with Pita Bread.   It is also served as part of a Mezze or as an accompaniment to falafel, grilled chicken, fish or eggplant.

HM3Simple and delicious; if you don’t try your hands at this one;   immediately label yourself ‘lazy’ and ‘uninspired’.

P.S : I even made a mini version of ‘Pita Bread’;   which will be coming soon on Bring On…watch out for it.

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Recipe :

2 cups of chickpeas

Juice of 2 lemons (ensure that no lemon seeds –as this will make the hummus bitter)

¼ cup tahina paste

Olive oil

2-3 cloves of garlic

Paprika or chilly powder for garnish

Coriander leaves for garnish

Soak chickpeas overnight.   Was thoroughly and pressure cook with water and salt to taste. It should be very very soft. Reserve some of the liquid as you may need this when blending.

HM2Grind the garlic in a blender till well ground. Then add the chickpeas, lemon juice and tahina paste. Blend till smooth. Taste and add any seasoning required. If you need it spicy – you can mince a green chilly fine and just mix it to the paste.. its optional.

Spread in a shallow serving dish, take a spoon and make a swirl in it. Sprinkle a little chilly powder or paprika on it, add a few reserved cooked chickpeas, garnish with coriander leaves. Generously pour olive oil in the swirls made.

Best had with Pita bread.

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Mini Vegetable Samosa


TSFG1  Bring On The Chef In You presents a Samosa Recipe, which is a tried and tested one. There is an awesome tamarind and date sauce that goes with it and is there somewhere on the blog in the archives. The recipe for the crust is something that I have made umpteen times and it always worked flawlessly for me. Just ensure that the dough is not too soft and not too hard either. This dough does not need any flour for dusting when rolling, so you can roll it easily on your kitchen counter or on the rolling mat.

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The filling for the Samosa varies everytime I make them; and the Potato and Pea filling is one of my favourites. I made a mini version of the Samsosa as it goes very well as finger-food and I prefer the smaller version rather than the chunky huge one, firstly coz its easy to fry and secondly they look cuter…don’t you think so ?

Fried correctly these Samosas are crispy and crunchy and the filling is nice too.

Ingredients :
For the outer cover:
Plain Flour (Maida) – 2 cups
Warm corn oil -1/2 cup
½ teaspoon ajwain seeds
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon very fine semolina
Water roughly 1/4cup

Use measuring cups to ensure that you get it right.

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First take 2 cups flour in a large bowl, add to it the salt, ajwain seeds , semolina and the warm oil. Mix with your fingers till it resembles bread crumbs. Then add water till a dough is formed. It should be stiffer than chappati dough. If you find that water is not enough wet your palms with a little water and knead till the dough comes together and forms a mass. Knead gently for about five minutes – cover with cling wrap and leave to rest for 15-20 minutes.

Till then prepare the filling.
Ingredients :
For the Filling :
Boiled potatoes -4-5 medium (boiled & roughly mashed- not fully but ensuring no large lumps)
2 large spoons of ghee/oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Ginger (1”) chopped very fine
Mango Powder (Aamchur) 1-1/2 teaspoon
Green Chillies – 2 finely chopped (or more if you want it spicier)
Coriander powder – 1 teaspoon
Garam Masala powder – 1 teaspoon
Green Peas – ¾ cup (if frozen, just blanch in hot water)
Whole Coriander seeds – 1 tablespoon
Dry Pomegranate seeds (Anardana) 1 teaspoon
Coriander leaves – small bunch chopped
Salt to taste

MS4Heat oil/ghee in a pan and add the cumin seeds, then the ginger, green chillie and chopped/mashed potatoes. Then add all the masala powders, amchur, salt and coriander leaves.
TSFGSAM1Mix and keep aside. Dry roast the whole coriander seeds and anardana on a tava/pan… mash them with the back-end of a tablespoon and add to the mix. Add the blanched green peas – check taste and add more seasoning of salt and masala powders if required. When cooled – it is ready for filling the samosas.

MS5Knead the rested dough again and form into golf sized balls. Roll into oblongish shape with a rolling pin. Then cut into two equal pieces. Apply a little water with your finger tip to the straight side of the piece and join together to form a cone. Hold the cone between your thumb and pointer finger..and stuff enough filling into the cone. Seal the ends – you can then stand the samosa on the rolling mat and once again dab the sealed ends and also the other seam – if it appears too thick.

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Heat oil in a deep pan and heat to a medium temperature. When medium temperature is reached, lower the temperature to very slow and fry the samosas in batches of 7-8 on a very low heat for 10-12 minutes. This is very important to ensure a crispy crust. Turn over and fry on the other side for about 5-8 minutes. Then increase the heat and fry till the samosas are golden brown all over. (By using this method to fry, a crispy crust is ensured ..P.S: I made the Samosas in the morning and even till the evening they stayed crispy..I got about 17 mini Samosas from the above dough)

Remove on paper towels and dab lightly with a tissue to remove excess oil, if any.

Serve with chutney or sauce of your liking.

Pork Chili


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Normally, one wouldn’t imagine a bowl of steaming hot chili as a meal on a sweltering summer day, but this Pork Chili is so light and fresh tasting, and even easy to make on a week night. Mouth-watering with a bright flavor boost and a summer-y feel. But feel free to spice it up with more chili, jalapenos green onions …these are all great options.
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Ingredients:
1 kg Pork
1 green capsicum diced
2- 3 medium onions diced
4 green chilies in long slits
1 inch ginger
4 flakes garlic
1 tsp. red chilly powder
1/2 tsp pepper powder
2 tablespoons soya sauce
2-3 tablespoon tomato chili sauce
Salt and vinegar to taste
3 bay leaves

6Method:
Cut pork (preferably Belly) into thin slices – 1 inch bite size pieces and wash thoroughly. Add crushed ginger /garlic, bay leaves, salt and vinegar and boil for 20 minutes adding very little water.

Take a non-stick pan and grease it with a few drops of oil, and fry these slices till light brown on both sides. In the same pan (remove excess oil, because when frying pork the oil gets separated.) fry diced onions and green chilies for 2-3 minutes till it’s translucent. Add capsicum and stir fry a bit, add chilly powder, pepper powder, soya sauce and tomato chili sauce. Mix well. Add the fried pork to this mixture and let it cook for 5 more minutes.

The Perfect Iftar Feast at JW Marriott Hotel, Dubai


Ramadan Kareem! Wishing all our Moslem friends and their families a blessed month!1

We were invited to experience Ramadan at one of the premier luxury hotels – JW Marriott Hotel in Dubai, and break our fast with the flavoursome Iftar selections prepared daily by their skilled culinary staff, provided by The Market Place featuring live cooking stations, authentic Arabic dishes, sweets and traditional Ramadan beverages.

7This is located next to the popular Hamarain Shopping Center in the city’s downtown, with unique surroundings and spectacular ambience so families and friends can get together during this time of reflection and spiritual devotion.

5In the restaurant level heading towards The Market Place, styled as a traditional Dubai market it opens to a decorated area that showcases live saj bread making where all the tossing, and turning, lifting and tilting happens.

3Saj bread is a type of flatbread common in the countries like Lebanon which is baked on a domed or convex metal griddle. Chef Radie who is originally from Lebanon prepares it using a convex metal griddle and personally delivers it at every table.

4While in conversation with Chef Debrup Mitra we asked :
Chef Debrup Mitra, JW Marriott Hotel Dubai (2) (Large)“What is unique about the Iftar at The Marketplace, JW Marriott Hotel Dubai?”
“The unique thing about our Iftar offering at The Market Place is the concept and quality of food. It is set in a friendly bustling market atmosphere featuring open kitchens serving a wide variety of food such as authentic Arabian cuisine combined with international selections prepared fresh each evening and specially created for the Ramadan period. The venue’s rustic feel and décor creates the ambiance hence we used props that are locally available”.

10a“What is the edge you have over the other restaurants offering Iftar”?
“The Market Place prides itself with the various live cooking stations in front of the guest therefore food served is really fresh and not only served in serving dishes – ‘from pan to plate or from grill to plate’. Guests can delight in the various live cooking stations, such as the Lebanese mixed grills of shish kebab, lamb kofta and shish tawouk, well paired with the freshly prepared saj. Indian specialties will be served at the tandoori station, another live station featuring chicken biryani, lamb jalfrezi and mixed vegetable korma, best enjoyed with papadums or Indian naan bread.

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The aromatic Iftar buffet, featuring a host of international flavours, and is open every night of Ramadan at a price of AED 165 per person and AED 60 for children aged 6 to 12.

12Featuring also is the traditional Sohour fare at the hotel’s quiet and stylish 24-hour Viennese coffee shop, the Vienna Café, open daily from 2 to 4 a.m. during Ramadan., this special menu is priced at AED 90 per person and AED 60 for children aged 6 to 12. The delightful venue is located in the hotel’s main lobby and also features complimentary Wi-Fi.

9For additional information, or to book a reservation, please contact the JW Marriott Hotel Dubai at +971 4 607 7977 or online at http://www.marriottdiningatjw.ae.

Potato & Pomegranate Salad


“Bring On The Chef In You” presents to you a “Potato Salad”, which is yogurt based. There are countless ways to make a potato salad; the one here is a simple one where the potatoes are cubed and mixed with a few spices and then tossed with whisked yogurt, coriander leaves, cumin seeds and pomegranate arils.

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A lovely tangy salad that all will love.

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Ingredients
Curds/Yogurt 1 Cup
Pomegranate arils – 1 Cup
Potatoes – 2-3 boiled and chopped into small cubes
Onion -chopped fine – 1
Oil – 2-3 teaspoons
Green Chilly – chopped fine – 2
Urad Dal – 1 teaspoon
Channa Dal – 1 teaspoon
Mustard Seeds – 1/4 teaspoon
Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon
Curry leaves – 1 spring
Coriander leaves – a small bunch -chopped fine
Sugar – 1 teaspoon -or more if curd is sour
Salt – to taste

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Heat oil in a small vessel, add mustard seeds. When they splutter add the cumin seeds, urad dal and channa dal and fry till brown.  Add curry leaves & onion and stir till onion is soft. Add green chilies & chopped potatoes. Stir and mix together and then remove from heat.

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In a small bowl, whisk the curd with sugar and salt. Then add the potato mix, coriander leaves and pomegranate arils. Serve warm or cold – both are equally good; garnished with coriander and pomegranate arils.

 

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Caramel Abu Dhabi – Restaurant Review


‘Bring on the Chef in You’ were invited by “Caramel Restaurant & Lounge” for a tasting session at their elegant and classy joint at St. Regis Sadiyat Island Resort.  And OMG!!! what a wonderful experience it has been.

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“Caramel” brings luxury and opulence not only to the residents and guests of the Sadiyat Island Resort,  but also to residents of the Capital City, Abu Dhabi.  Located not more than 15 minutes from the Port Area,  this is one place that needs to be visited again and again simply for the sheer awesome food that they dish out.

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Utilizing elements such as natural wood and textured stone with bold contemporary lines, Caramel creates a one-of-a-kind environment that engages patrons and invokes a new level of visual stimulation. Caramel Restaurant & Lounge boasts a warm inviting ambiance and relaxing atmosphere that offers drinking, dining, and entertainment at one centrally located hot spot.

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The team at Caramel is professional, dedicated and friendly and we felt relaxed in the Company of Mr. Mahindra, who made sure that we enjoyed the Caramel experience.
The menu here has over 40-50 items on offer and with help from the staff we began the afternoon with TNT Shrimps, which were served on a bed of finely chopped cabbage leaves. The Shrimp were fried in a light batter and served tossed up in a spicy Japanese Mayo. Crunchy on the outside and juicy and succulent inside, it was absolutely an awesome way to start on a delicious note.

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The Chinese Chicken Salad followed closely and was a complete delight. A juicy, nutty and fruity salad consisting of Clementine, cashews, honey, chicken and fresh greens, this was presented in a small ringed tower. We thoroughly enjoyed it and proceeded to order our Beverages of Australian Wine to sip along with our starters.

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The Forest Mushrooms came next, sauteed in butter emulsions and fine herbs, which were absolutely scrumptious, to say the least. I never even dreamt that the simple mushrooms could be elevated to such heights.

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Next on the menu was Seared Chillean Sea Bass, which was served with a Risotto of Rock Shrimp, a Lobster Broth and Tomato Basil Tapenade. The fish was very tender and delicate and the risotto and broth and tapenade were good accompaniments. Fish lovers are really going to enjoy this amazing delicacy that is so well prepared that you long to have another one then and there.

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Next on the Menu was the Grilled Steak with a dollop of herbed butter. We ordered medium rare and it came along with two sauces, the creamy one of which was wonderful and went along perfectly with the Steak. To be honest the Steak was good, but I would have loved if it came with some grilled or sautéed vegetables or fries alongside, just to make it complete. The Steak however was comforting, homely and reminiscent of the beefy old world charm.

The Menu also has a host of other inviting and innovative dishes, and we marked them with a note that that the next time we came to Caramel that would be our selection.
We were too stuffed to have anything more; and we resisted the urge to order more, keeping into mind, that we do not want to skip the desserts…. so we beckoned to our server to bring on the Dessert Menu.

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We started with the Baked Alaska, which was a lovely mix and match of ice cream, cake, mousse and meringue. It was a real show-stopper and was a treat not only for the eyes, but for the tummy too. With brown specs on the meringue and luscious strawberry mousse which was light and velvety; a blob of ice cream of the finest quality, thin slice of cake and swathed in a meringue which was baked ever so gently in a hot oven for a few minutes to give it lovely specs of burnt sugar on some of its edges. I can say without hesitation that the Baked Alaska at Caramel has become my all-time favorite and mark it as a must-have at Caramel.

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2nd came the Pumpkin Cheese Cake, which wowed both in presentation style and taste. It was extraordinarily rich and creamy and the luscious swirl of cream was as light as a feather and not overtly sweet; but just right.

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The Banana Crème Brulee was simple, yet impressive. The brittle Caramel Topping had a bitter-sweet taste and the smooth creamy custard/cream beneath the caramelized layer, was rich, sticky and wickedly sweet.

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After we were done, we were given a tour of the lounge and Bar, and were dazzled by the array and collection of wines, champagne etc that were on display. We were told that in the evenings they also have a DJ playing and making the place more exotic.  Besides the surrounding areas are so good for a stroll right after you have stuffed yourself jolly.   There is a beach close-by and plush gardens all around.

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So the next time you are looking to have a special treat, just hop across to Caramel at St Regis; a different, elegant and awesome place which offers you good value for money and delivers delicious, regal and authentic tasting fare too.

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Thumbs up Caramel, you positively rock!!!!!!

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Ratings by Bring On the Chef In You :

  • Food 4.5 / 5
  • Service 4 / 5
  • Ambiance 4.5 / 5
  • Value for money 3.5/5

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Banana Fritters


Bring On The Chef In You” shares a recipe for “Banana Fritters” that may come in handy when watching the 2014 FIFA World Cup matches, which are just round the corner.

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My Mom made these whenever she ended with many ripe Bananas and went bananas over what to do with them. At our place “Bananas” just disappear in a jiffy and there are hardly any left for fritter-making. I got lucky when our Office-boy returned from his vacation with a load of Kerala-bananas and I got a big bunch. As they were over-ripe, my boys just did an “ugh” and refused to touch them. So it was fritters making time; and you wont believe how much the boys enjoyed it…so much so that they wanted me to make it again.

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This recipe is fairly a trial and error recipe. You have to keep adding and subtracting the ingredients till you get the right consistency; i.e. slightly thicker than pancake batter. You can use any type of Bananas (though the Kerala ones (Nandarkai) taste better), the only think is that they should be extra ripe. Even the sugar content can be adjusted to your taste. The recipe below is just an indication – you can add/deduct as per your liking.

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Ingredients :
3 large ripe bananas (Kerala large ones)
2 cups of flour- maida (roughly)
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
5-6 teaspoons milk powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar (more or less)
5-6 cardamoms – (remove seeds and crush coarsely)
little water or milk (1/2 cup +/-)

Peel the bananas and add to a large bowl. Mash the bananas with a fork. Add sugar, cardamom, salt, milk and mix. Add flour, baking powder and milk/water, till you have a dough that is slightly thicker than pancake/cake batter.

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Heat oil in a deep frying pan and add a tablespoon of batter to the hot oil. Dont over-crowd the pan. Fry on both sides till brown all over. Remove on kitchen towels – dab them with a tissue to remove excess oil. Fry in small batches till all batter is utilized.

Serve warm with hot cup of tea/coffee.

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Mango Lassi


“Bring on the Chef In You”,  assures you that this summer they will churn out some cool summer drinks to chill you.   When summer is grinning at you full blast,  you just long for utterly cool drinks that could not only quench your thirst but also cool you down in a jiffy. This Mango Yogurt drink promises to do just that. A smooth, creamy, and absolutely divine drink that everyone is going to enjoy.

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Ingredients : (Serves 4 or 5)
3 ripe and sweet mangoes chilled in refrigerator
3 cups of yogurt chilled
1 cup chilled milk
1 cup ice cubes crushed
1 small tin (90) of condensed milk
1 tablespoon of sugar (check if required, then add)
2 tablespoons of vanilla ice-cream
2 pods of crushed cardamoms (can omit if you are not a fan of cardamom – but I liked it)
{For garnish – spring of mint, icecream and pistas }

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Put all in blender (except the garnishes) and blend till smooth and frothy. Chill in refrigerator and pour in tall glasses, and garnish as required.

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Restaurant Review – P.F. Chang’s @ Abu Dhabi Mall


‘Bring On The Chef In You’, was invited to a pre-launch tasting at P.F. Chang’s @ Abu Dhabi Mall, a couple of days ago. We had a memorable dinner and the evening was delightful. The much awaited opening is slated for 31st May, 2014.

P.F. Chang’s offers American Bistro dining experience; however I would like to add on to that and say that it is a mix of contemporary American/Chinese casual dining that elevates the classic “Chinese Fare” to an exciting new level. To sum up it offers to recreate the charm of traditional Chinese Cuisine with a hint of American Bristo. Connoisseurs of good food in Abu Dhabi will be glad to know that it is located in the heart of the city, at Abu Dhabi Mall (at the same location where the Moka Café existed earlier); and it is the 2nd outlet of  P.F. Chang’s; the earlier one is at World Trade Center Mall.  PF5

We were waiting anxiously for the visit as I had savored their delicacies at their Dubai outlet, which had left me spell-bound; and wanted to badly re-live those taste-buds. At the doors, the life-size horse statue drew our attention and as we entered we noted that the ambiance was subtle with candles flickering at each table, and lounge music playing in the background. In the beginning the music was a tad loud, however as the evening progressed it did get softer; which was very welcome.

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As we settled in, we had an attendant taking care of us and patiently explaining to us about the different sauces and handed over the Menu, which was classified according to the category and offered ease of selection. For drinks we ordered Watermelon and Apple juice, which was what we really needed on a hot summer day.

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It was time for starters; and we let out a collective gasp when the “Dynamite Shrimps” arrived. Neatly presented in a martini glass with crispy cabbage leaves adding to its ‘good-looks’, the Shrimps were true to its name; ‘Dynamite’. Basically it was shrimp tempura battered and tossed in a light spicy sriracha aioli. This is one of their signature dishes, so don’t forget to order this little pack of dynamite when you are there.

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The next starter was another popular item on their menu, Lettuce Wraps. The crunchiness of the lettuce cups and the filling of minced onions, meat, nuts and crispy fried noodles, added that zing that was welcome, and it really set the ball rolling to our main course which was next on the menu.

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For the main courses, we wanted to try a little bit of everything, however the seafood dishes were not available. So we ordered Orange Peel Chicken,  Singapore Noodles, and Wok Charred Beef. With the two gravy dishes, there was an option to pick white or brown rice, so we picked one of each. The presentation of the dishes was excellent and everything stood out in its own little way.pf7

The Orange Peel Chicken was a Sichuan-styled chicken, tossed with a mild chillie sauce and fresh orange peels and soft and tender chicken breasts.

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The Wok-charred Beef, was dished out with the technique of searing their dish and gave it a grill like taste. The slices of beef were caramelized perfectly with succulent shitake mushrooms and sweet peppers and dry red chillies, made the dish rather special. I would have loved if the content of dry red chillies would be reduced though and instead more veggies added.

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The Singapore Street noodles had thin rice noodles which were tossed with shrimps, chicken, tomato, cilantro, garlic and peppers…amazingly tasty…yum yum.
Accompanying the food were three mocktails, a pomegranate and soda drink, a fresh strawberry slushie, which was sweet and refreshing, and finally another mixed seasonal fruit drink.

Sadly, Desserts were off-limits to us, and was a big disappointed to us, born with a perpetual sweet-tooth. There is always a next time, we said, as we gazed at the items on the dessert menu, Apple Crisps, Chocolate Fondant, Banana Rolls, Great Wall of Chocolate, Emperors Stawberrry Cheese Cake, Sweet Cream Cheese Wontons and Carrot Cakes. “Will see you soon”, we silently whispered to the desserts, as we waded past the smiling hostesses.

Hats off to P.F. Chang’s and thank you for letting us dine in your dynasty. On the whole, P.F. Chang’s captivates you and trumps with their delicious food and service. Come here for mocktails and a refreshingly different menu, which you will truly love. P.F. Chang’s is like a breath of fresh air, do experience it.

By : Chivonne Dcruz

Grilled Salmon


‘Bring On The Chef In You’  this week brings to you,  “Grilled Salmon”;  a healthy and perfect food,  that we encourage you to have.

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Did you know that Salmon is loaded with protein and the two blockbuster omega-3s, DHA and EPA, that make us healthy, happy, smart and pain-free. As the body cannot make omega-3 fatty acids, the best way to obtain them is through the food we eat.

Try and include Salmon in your means as it is :-

• An excellent source of the good fat or Omega-3 fatty acids.
• Is packed with vitamins A,B, D as well as calcium and iron
• Is great for your bones
• Prevents cardiovascular diseases
• Helps you sleep better as it contains tryptophan which is a natural sedative

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Hubby got us these lovely Salmon Steaks and we had a feast and had them grilled.

A spicy-salty-tangy marinade makes this recipe stand out. Besides its health benefits, it is quick easy and perfect to have for lunch, dinner or even a snack. We have this at least twice and week, and even my fish-hating son is slowly learning to love it..

It is never to late to start being healthy…… so start now.

Recipe :
Steaks of Salmon (three to four)
Chilly powder – 1 tablespoon
Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste – say 1 to 1.5 teaspoons
Vinegar – 1 tablespoon or more

Slit the salmon steaks into 2. Apply the marinade and keep for 10-15 minutes.
I used my convection oven on Grill Mode to grill the salmon.

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Put on a baking tray – I used a non-stick Pyrex dish. Oil not necessary at all when using the ‘Grill Mode’. Grill for 25-30 minutes.

We had the salmon with rice, a mackerel curry, vegetable side-dish, salad and even a few chapattis. Aahh..the pleasure of small things ……always underestimated and inexplicable.  SG3