SursWorld

Food and some stories....

Category: Musings

Current pit stop-Hong Kong

A long hiatus from the blog, and I had almost given up on it. And then suddenly out of the blue the number of readers on the blog suddenly started jumping and that was just the kind of motivation I needed. So, the story of my life right now is that the husband is temporarily stationed in Hong Kong for a work project; and I have joined him. It’s been only five days that I am here in Hong Kong, and obviously, there is lots to do and lots to discover.

We are staying here in an executive apartment and in terms of cooking I have very limited means which means I have no blender, no oven and literally a one burner induction stove. So, have stuck to just cooking the odd breakfast and pan fried food. Also, I must add I have just one pan and one pot that have been provided to us by the apartment. Didn’t make sense for us to set up an entire kitchen for a month or two. Which is a pity cause the variety of produce is sensational and  my hands itch every time I visit the local markets. Will, keep you all updated on my limited culinary adventures in my mini kitchen.

But as always there is a silver lining always, Hong Kong happens to be the city blessed with 58 Michelin star restaurants and I promise to share reviews of quite a few with you all. I am not sure I am really qualified to do reviews of restaurants, so let me put it this way, it will be more like sharing of my culinary experiences. So, stay tuned and I hope you enjoy the coming ride.

Till then ciao from Hong Kong.

From Bali to Bangkok

So I have been away from the blog for some time now, as I was travelling to Bali & Bangkok. And now I am back with my travel bug satiated, new foods tried and taste buds set ablaze with the spicy food of Indonesia and Thailand. Travelling for me has always about tasting the local food; I’m not somebody who goes looking for comfort in familiar food. Food is a cultural experience for me, and there is nothing more exciting for me than eating local in a new place. Sitting in a cafe, observing the local people go about their lives and gorging on local food, that is for me my perfect holiday moment, and I never get bored doing that.

As you travel through South East Asia, you will realise that food habits and some ingredients are familiar across countries, there will be regional variations but also lot of familiar produce. Especially across the countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Rice is the staple across the region and also close proximity to the sea means lots of fresh seafood. While this was my fourth visit to Thailand, it was my first to Indonesia.  And I am happy to share that I come back with lots of bottles of sambal and other spice mixes. About Sambal, Iam a fan!!!

For the uninitiated, Sambal is basically a hot sauce made with chillies and other ingredients like ginger garlic, peanuts, fish sauce, shrimp paste, vinegar, onions, fish sauce etc. There are roughly 300 varieties of sambal that is prepared in the Indonesian archipelago, not accounting for every home having their own version. So basically every place I ate in Indonesia, or more specifically in Bali, had their own version and I loved them all. But be prepared for the heat, it’s not for the faint hearted, but is more tolerable when eaten with rice or other accompaniments like salads or seafood. As I mentioned earlier about the similarity about food habits earlier in the blog, you will also come across sambal being used widely in Thai and Malaysian cuisines.

Traditionally made at home with pestle and mortar, today you can buy your own from any supermarket and is available all around the world. It can be a great substitute to your regular ketchup in the pantry. And hopefully in the coming months I would be able to use it in some recipes which I can then share on the blog. So do look out for some upcoming spicy, Indonesian inspired recipes on the blog soon. Meanwhile enjoy looking at my stash, Ciao!!

My Sambal stash

My Sambal stash

Boundaries bound|but humans first

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My Pakistani Jootis with Indian sole!!

So another New Year and time for people websites to do articles on the year that passed and features on the outlook for the New Year. Who is going to make the headlines, what will be the current affairs news channels will be covering or expecting to cover. Some of them will be easy to predict, oil price, ISIS, the next Presidential elections in America, Indo-Pak relations, etc. etc., well one does get the drift.

I am not much of a political commentator and would not like assume any knowledge of these matters. I am more of a history buff, and nothing is more fascinating than the history of the Indian subcontinent. Invaders have and come time and again, and molded the rich cultural heritage of the subcontinent. As we all know after the colonial rule ended, the subcontinent was fragmented, while international boundaries were drawn, history never tells what happened to people, how they adjusted and what were the consequences of the physical demarcation or boundaries.

So just before New Year I travelled  to Kolkata  and had the opportunity to visit a Trade fair while in the city. Typically trade fairs of these kinds attract stalls from a lot of other countries like Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Turkey, Thailand, Pakistan, Egypt etc.

Now I love exploring local markets, and whenever I travel abroad, I make it a point to visit the local markets, it gives one a great flavor of local tastes, culture, habits etc. and nothing is more interesting than seeing how people bargain in different cultures. So the trade fair apart from the shopping provides me with an opportunity to do people watching (my favorite pastime, research for the book I plan to write one dayJ).

So the I started browsing and landed up near the Pakistani stalls, beautiful kurtas, jootis , jade artifacts, exotic masalas, the works. If this is not temptation then I don’t know what is. So imagine my surprise when I find the Paksitani jootis sold there with made in India soles!! Obviously I had to ask the stall owner if he was selling made in India stuff as made in Pakistan!! I hesitated for a second thinking maybe he might take offence, but he very coolly replied some parts are made in India Madam, rest is all Pakistani. So I purchased a pair of Pakistani jootis with made in India soles. Such is the beauty of commerce, all boundaries disappear.

Boundaries are manmade created to separate us, but what is astounding is the similarities. The aunties in the Pakistani stalls remind me of our neighborhood aunties, the same smile, the same helpful nature, and the same aggressive bargaining skills. The clothes look similar, the language sounds similar, and the masalas are as exotic.

Today commerce brought us all together; maybe tomorrow it will be more. People might have become citizens of another country, but we still drink chai and eat the same samosa with a LOC in between.

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