Vietnamese Chicken Curry Rice. Uniquely Tasty

My taste buds got revoked a bit extremely in Cairns, Australia when I splurged on the Vietnamese curry at a street food outlet in the Night Market.

As such it was a priority to make it myself on the return and it turned out too good.

Vietnamese chicken curry and rice was my lunch at least 80% of the office days when I was working with Standard Chartered Bank in HongKong.

The rest 20% were mostly on the Dim Sum floor, where I accompanied my all women direct reports for an extended, noisy lunch of the best Dimsums in the world.

Trained at short lunch breaks, I couldn’t go there alone as some Cantonese was required to order anything myself for a quick bite.

The Vietnamese outlet was on the 2nd floor of Cityplaza 2 in Taikoo Shing (the overcrowded dim sum floor with ladies carting the dim sum wagons through the aisle on the third) where I had my office on the 16th.

‘One Chicken Curry Rice’ the guy at the counter used to shout, the moment I step on the floor.

Here I followed the recipe literally, except for the Vietnamese Chilli Powder, replaced by the Indian one.

And I wished I had some fresh lemon grass pods instead of the dried ones we have. Lemon grass and fish sauce give the curry that unique flavour.

A hearty lunch of the two of us finishing most of it and I am sure to make it again and again.

Vietnamese Chicken Curry Rice. Uniquely Tasty

Punch or Pump! What Makes A Difference!

One way to assume an aggressive posture in working out is to think about something or someone who makes you angry and bring out the anger forcefully.

The best in this is the punch bag and what a lovely feeling when we imagine punching the opponent with all the aggression.

But do we get exhausted and unhappy as anger doesn’t bring happiness.

Now, imagine we bring in some passion into the workout schedule! There’s definitely a difference.

And how about some sweetener! Like a joint program with a loved one! Or jointly in a like minded group with similar objectives! There’s happiness for sure.

Best when the sessions are done together. But what if the partner is not at the same place! Don’t worry, there’s happiness in exchanging notes remotely.

Follow the program, punch or pump vigorously for the desired outcome. And exchange the success stories.

There’s happiness and companionship; without exhaustion.

Punch or Pump! What Makes A Difference!

I’ve Voted! Hail The Right To Choose.

Voting for your desired representative in the election is a pleasure and a duty. I have fulfilled the duty and happily voted for the candidate who I think is the most suited to represent.

If another candidate wins, it’s just that the majority have preferred him. That’s democracy and in extreme terms ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’.

As an Indian, I have the unique distinction of voting in elections of two countries. This is enough for being accused as holding two passports which is a ‘no’ in Indian citizenship.

As such, if I stand for elections and when the nomination papers are scrutinised, opponents can allege that I hold dual citizenship and hence to reject my nomination papers!

The other country where I voted was for British Parliament. A citizen of a British Commonwealth Country, and legally resident in UK is eligible to vote in British elections. India is part of commonwealth and I was legally resident when I was working for Standard Chartered Bank in London.

Three cheers to democracy and free elections.

I’ve Voted! Hail The Right To Choose.

Why There’s A Crowd On Holy Week And Christmas

We are increasingly taking a look back at traditions and rituals in this modern world. I have always been wondering why churches are overflowing during the special times such as Christmas and the Holy Week, particularly in Kerala. And perhaps this is the answer.

Churches in Kerala literally enact biblical events during these special days. Done mostly through the midnight, the congregation is so full that I sometimes wonder where these people are during a regular Sunday mass.

This Holy Week, probably gave me the answer. Aided by beautiful singing and dramatic recreation of the 2000 years old events, using modern visual effects, the celebrations are a treat to the ears and eyes and even to the soul.

Starting with the Maundy Thursday to Good Friday through to Easter, we acted in the events leading to Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection.

What if it took two and half hours on Thursday, a same amount of time on Friday and well over three and half hours on Sunday, we got to watch the tradition including a fantastic visual display of the huge tombstone sliding open and the resurrection accompanied with lightning, thunder and strong breeze.

Truly amazing.

Why There’s A Crowd On Holy Week And Christmas

INRI Appam

Maundy Thursday is remembered by Christians world over for the last super before the crucifixion. The bread and wine shared by Jesus with his disciples as body and blood is the basis of the Holy Sacrament.

Malayalees, including me, observe this on the Maundy Thursday dinner time, when the head of the family cut a special appam called INRI Appam and a juice like preparation called Paal and distribute among the family members.

INRI is the inscription on the Holy Cross as an abbreviation suggested by Pontius Pilate. The appam is pronounced in Malayalam as ‘Indry’ and it was only recently that I realised that it’s from INRI.

Sunu, my wife used to make them for all the past years and this year (yesterday) I volunteered. It turned out well, except that the kitchen was a real mess.

While making, I was thinking of the tradition and how Keralaits evolved this variation which now is made on the exact consistency and taste by Malayalees the world over.

By the way, we place a cross made from the palm leaf we receive from church on Palm Sunday. The one I have on the appam is from the Catholic Church in Gold Coast, Australia where we went on Palm Sunday. The tradition has to be followed!

The most common bread for the Malayalee is appam, a rice powder based preparation. Even the Malayalam translation of the Bible has bread mentioned as Appam.

But appam is fermented. Also wine for a Malayalee is alcohol and it’s fermented. Then how can we have fermented appam and alcoholic wine for a sacred remembrance!

Here I can see the influence of women in Kerala and the result is the INRI appam or the pesaha appam and a wine looking preparation of jaggery and coconut milk, named paal which is milk and not wine.

The combination is unique and of excellent taste.

Brilliant!

INRI Appam

Holiday Travel

We just returned from a holiday in Australia and had a fabulous time there.

While there are many memorable experiences including the fact that I put on only a pound, in spite of breaking a 16.8 Intermittent Fasting schedule with sumptuous full meal three usual times throughout the 11 day travel, I am inclined to write first on the air travel experience.

Actually this is a suggestion for the airlines to look at the holiday category of passengers, slightly differently.

Airlines are good at pampering business travellers with discounts and offers to the company and miles for passengers. All good for business travel and the company even get to expense out the fare for tax purposes.

Holiday travellers are a big segment who spend the money from personal savings. The airlines would get increased business with some attractive offers to this segment, and they can do it during the lean business travel periods, which I am sure there are.

Upper class travel is comfortable, but seats are priced too high for a holiday traveller. Occasional meaningful discounts for the otherwise vacant seats would get the holidayer to put in some extra.

And for the economy, the practice is to offer fully stripped, no-frills seats at discount. That’s okay as long as minimal comforts are retained.

But in practice, some airlines tend to employ those aircrafts with seats just wide enough for a normal sized person and with limited legroom, thus accommodating maximum number of passengers who buy tickets, lured by a 25% discount or so on base price.

Such a cramped experience can spoil an otherwise fabulous holiday and the passengers tend to make a mental note to never travel again on such aircrafts.

Just a small reminder, in case this aspect is overlooked by airline marketeers.

Holiday Travel

Swimming With Barracudas

I was snorkeling around Green Island off Cairns in Queensland, Australia and didn’t find much of corals near the island.

I do think much of my swimming prowess and went a little more deeper into the ocean than others and came across a school of over 100 of 12 inches long striped fish.

And I followed them. Instead of running away, they started coming back close on my side allowing me to follow them for a good portion of my nearly two hours of snorkel.

It was priceless as otherwise i had only some dead corals and occasional coloured fish.

On return, I googled for 12 inch long school of striped fish in Tasman sea and came across this picture. Oh Boy, I am thrilled. I was swimming with barracudas.

Barracudas are dangerous fish, growing into monstrous size and probably trained their youngsters to move in groups and nearer to shore for safety.

There was only one thing to be sorted out. They were not as shiny as the ones I got from google. Reading on I got the answer. Young barracudas can change colour to suit environment for camouflage. Yes I was swimming with barracudas.

Barracudas are scavengers. Thankfully they didn’t have food in mind when they followed me. They mistake snorkelers as predators and follow to eat the remains of the kill, like the striped hyena.

Most amazing and memorable experience and I returned triumphantly

Swimming With Barracudas