It’s like sleep has left the building


Gaza being brutally and systematically cleansed by Israel as if it were gaming at an arcade… rapes being reported pan-India like the weather report. Someone also pointed out that the victims especially targeted In both cases, quite intentionally are little children. It’s 2014 and we are clearly not living the dream. 
This affects us all.

Praying. Peace.

Why we should travel


wpid-img_76531975452077.jpeg“If anyone travels on a road in search of knowledge, God will cause him to travel on one of the roads of Paradise. The angels will lower their wings in their great pleasure with one who seeks knowledge. The inhabitants of the heavens and the Earth and (even) the fish in the deep waters will ask forgiveness for the learned man. The superiority of the learned over the devout is like that of the moon, on the night when it is full, over the rest of the stars” – The Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him)

This message was so empowering and inspiring that I just had to share this. The picture is from a recent holiday to the hills in Himachal, with my family. Everytime you come back from a trip, there is this heady feeling of having learnt something new not just about the world but about yourself too, not to mention the other associate feelings of wellbeing, happiness and the thirst to plan the next vacation.

Also, this Ramadan has been a month where for the first time I have actually sat down to understand the world better and to do that I felt it was truly important to first understand myself better and what I was born into. I do believe, the grounding that comes from this allows us to then make informed and self-aware decisions. And I don’t maen religion per se, this could mean your roots, your circumstanes, your family and peers and the decisions that you have been making up until now.

The teachings of the Prophet Mohammed *Peace be upon him and called “Sunnah” and these form the guidelines for life and living and code of conduct for all Muslims alongside of the Quran. There are simple yet profound lessons that cover our day to day actions which have been documented on authroity of his wives and his Companions called the Sahabas.

The beauty of the Sunnah lies in this simple fact, that I have only very recently uderstood is that following this just makes us better, more compassionate, more self aware and socially conscious human beings.

The teachings of all religion are quite simple and grounded in basics of humanity. Its the lack of perspective, general egos and numbing hatred that is giving all beliefs such a bad rap. Finding some grounding and spirituality in understanding where we come from, a part of which is the religion we all are individually born into is the step in the right direction. You don’t have to be a “religious” person to be doing this. For me, I feel it just means being a bit more open to the world around me. This may sound as two conflicting ideas, but honestly understanding the things that one feels one doesnt believe in, and then making an informed decision is always a smarter way of doing things.

Just a little bit of postive thinking for the day, especially since we are all being inundated by news of terrors going on in the world and people having enough hatred in their hearts to fuel a gargantuan inferno.

Have a lovely day.

Signing off in Peace

:)

4 things that inspired me this week


Its friday night where I am (India) and I should be asleep since I have an early morning tomorrow. But as things stand sleep evades and I have Violaine by the Cocteau Twins, playing in the background as I type this out from my bed to get into relaxed sleep mode.

image

1. Happy Tooth with tiny Teapots

I was thinking of going back to the store where I had seen this giant tooth and the little teapot minions .. this picture is a happy pill and it just makes me smile. Its sweet when people do eclectic stuff with mundane objects. Just fires up imagination.

 

image

2. Junky by William Burroughs

On my reading list was the re-reading of Junky by William S. Burroughs and inevitably it makes me sad but humored at the same time.  I do think it has a lot to do with the craft of a writer that allows or brings on this sensation. How this book inspires me, is that it reminds us each time there is no such thing as good or bad but it2 always about choices and perspectives and where we are at different times in our lives. Also the fierce desire to survive and fight and survive is a reflex that kicks in no matter what. It’s just a head book and in no way does it have to do with any innate feelings.. please try not to over- analyse :)

image

3. Stainless Steel Teaset – vintage alert

Oh, is it two mentions of tea objects in one post? Oh well.. I’m allowed. We go to this chic tea boutique / cafe / bistro called Infinitea because I really like the dark wood contrasted with teal interiors and quirky Alice in Wonderland lamps for which I will actually add another picture. Also they have a decent curation of artisianal teas from around the world and the food is not bad at all.

image

(It’s in black and white because the picture is not the hero of my story, though it does look rather pretty. ) So that said, about the teaset, I ordered a Masala Chai, which for the uninitiated is a classic Indian style tea or chai (Hindi for tea) Made with a strong tea leaf brewed with spices like ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and sometimes a piece of clove and peppercorns; It is enjoyed quite milky and sweetened and is so good for an evening pick me up when you want a little rush in your cup. This stainless steel teaset was what it was served and for me it was pretty much the most perfect service for a masala chai; and which if you have lived or been in this country, is associated with oldschool coffee houses, country clubs and tearooms. (This chai is aftually perfect with those buttery whitebread chicken sandwiches, which we will most definitely discuss in the future.. I just had to bring it up). The trouble is that these teapots and the stainless steel cup and saucer are quite hard to find. But I have made up my mind that I must, must have it! Will let you know when I do :)

image

4.Deep red and washed out seagreen

We all know that green and red just work together, but the fact that these colours were not really meant to make a deco statement where I found this setting is why I liked this so much. Minimalism, decrepit old architecture and elegant timeless colours are so simple in their aesthetic value that sometimes I feel we over complicate our surroundings these days with too much over-the-top because of the choices we have available to us. If we just strip, declutter and reuse … it makes a much bolder and elegant statement that cannot be ignored. This picture was taken in a grand Indian monument, the Jama Masjid, a Mosque built under the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the mid 17th Century. This box is close to the entrance where people might drop their gifts for the maintenance of the mosque. This was about drawing inspiration from the past and staying close to our basics.

So what is the moral of this story? Always keep you eyes open because you can find ideas to evolve, bit by bit, everywhere :)

That’s all for today. Thank s for reading. I am now ready for bed.

Good night. Sweet dreams.

Food Review: Ling’s Pavilion in Colaba for an authentic Chinese dining experience


 

Crispy Duck, cucumber, scallions and garlic layered on the pancake

Crispy Duck, cucumber, scallions and garlic layered on the pancake

The Ling’s Pavilion was on the our radar for a couple of months, before we actually did finally make it there and we wanted to go mainly for China’s pride, Crispy Duck more popularly known as Peking Duck. This review is a result of us arriving ravenous on an early Sunday evening.

The over 20 year old Ling’s Pavilion is located just off the bustling Colaba Causeway, the Cafe Mondegar lane, to be precise. Run by second generation naturalised Chinese it maintains its authenticity under the watchful gaze of the patriarch “Baba Ling” as he is affectionately called. The restaurant is replete with Chinese style indoor landscaping, typically tacky decor that sometimes tells you the food is going to be good – with a pond with Koi fish and bridges and sculptings and even a cherry blossom style tree.

We took our seats, and after the ususal debate about what “not” to order, we decided to first just order what we were here for “Crispy Duck.” With our luck, Baba Ling was in that evening and it would be silly not to ask him for a recommendation. Baba Ling comes up to our table and says, “do you’ll eat everything?” and “how hungry are you?” We said, “No Pork!” and “Very hungry!”

Crispy Duck, cucumber, scallions and garlic layered on the pancake

Crispy Duck, cucumber, scallions and garlic layered on the pancake

The arrival of the Crispy Duck to our table was met with squeals of glee us because by the time it made its way to the table we were ravenous.

All the condiments and parts to the lovely dish were layed out; a Bain-marie that had the pancakes, a glazed soya sauce spiced with chinese red peppers, a rich and reduced thick plum sauce, slivers of finely sliced cucumbers and scallions and gorgeous sauted roasted garlic which you could literally pop into your mouth like savory toffees.

Crispy Duck, up close

Crispy Duck, up close

To enjoy the crispy duck, you layer all your beautiful relish on the pancake, starting with the duck that has a basic five spice seasoning with lots of ginger which just enhances and duck’s natural flavour. Next top the pancake with some cumcumber, the spring onion slivers slivers, the lovely roasted garlic, and a controlled addition of the delicious plum sauce as per your taste. All you do then is roll it up, like you would a regular wrap and bite in! So, to be honest, the duck wasn’t crispy, but disappointingly moist – like it had been steamed and the pancakes just didn’t feel light and fresh. We suspect these were made in an earlier batch, and had lost the flaky lightness. The plum sauce, and those fantastic roasted garlic cloves really saved the dish from complete disappointment and it was all-in-all a pleasant activity putting the wraps together.

Crispy Duck, cucumber, scallions and garlic layered on the pancake

Crispy Duck, cucumber, scallions and garlic layered on the pancake

Baba Ling, then sent across this delicate baby fenugreek soup clear soup with the freshest Bombay Duck nestled right in the centre of the bowl. It looked so pretty in and tasted light and fresh. The flavour extremely simple and subtle yet had a very distinct aroma and taste which suited the texture of the fish. Bombay Duck, that is locally called bombil, native to the Arabian Sea and a classic fixture in Maharashtrian / Malvani cuisine has a very distinct texture and especially when it is dried a distinct strong smell. The flesh of this is so moist and delicate that it practically slides of the bone. This acted like a cleanse to the palate and a nice preparation for the main course; the heat from the baby fenugreek, makes this a lovely winter soup. This is not on the menu, but I think we had won Baba Ling over with our determination to experiment and so we were privy to a little something from the Chinese delegation table that had arrived a little after us. He said, “if you were bigger group, I could send more, but for you two, soup will do.”

TIP: When you step into Ling’s make sure you do a quick scan for a Chinese table, because they always know what to order, and if they are a big enough group the meal will be customized by Baba Ling and you could get a choice item or two off their table.

Steamed Ginger Fish

Steamed Ginger Fish

The finale to this meal, was Steamed Ginger Fish with a small portion of steam rice. Delightful. We had this with pomfret as the dish is ideally made with a white fish like , sea bass or halibut and it traditionally comes served whole on the dish. Now the fish, was truly a sensory delight. You can easily break off soft parts of the fish with your chopsticks and then scoop up the seasoning with a spoon onto your rice. I imagine this dish to be a true to roots, Cantonsese style meal, simple, delicious and wholesome and a classic staple. it uses basic ingredients, and a simple steaming style. This flavours come with lots of ginger, rice wine, five spice powder and soya sauce and also fried onions and a little peanut for that added smoky nuttiness. This really was wonderful, with the ginger and scallion flavour really being the perfect bridge between the fish and rice. An extrmely simple yet elegant Chinese authenticity.

ling8

Steamed Ginger Fish with Rice

To note for freshness of the fish and how well it is cooked, look for moist flakiness of the flesh; the smell mostly just tells weather the fish or seafood is cultured or caught.

Where the Crispy Duck lost out in a few places, the soup and the ginger fish really held its own. The beauty of this meal was in the simple serving and the process involved in, while eating and layering your meal – this quite literally makes it a delicious sum of all its parts.

Sometimes more than giving a verdict to a restaurant for excellent food or otherwise, its nice enough to enjoy the strong points and the overall experience. We’ll give a verdict when we go again and try some more from its extensive menu. But overall there is authenticity in the way the food is served, the items on the menu and the fact that you can get customized dishes for your table. We would strongly recommend a visit, next time you are looking to go for Chinese, if you are in the Colaba or the South Bombay (SOBO) area.