Athens with Friends -part 1. 

Last week in Athens has left me with so many mixed feelings. As I earlier mentioned in my last post that my friends are visiting me. And they have finally arrived here yesterday. We set our journey to receive them at the airport on the half empty highways at half past nine with excitement in our hearts.

The room I arranged for both my friends, one named Klara the young blonde energetic woman who is here to enjoy her summer and the other an English teacher in her mid fifties. She has been a dear friend and my only friend when I moved first to Czech Republic. Anyway, the room I found through airbnb had a fantastic authentic Greek feel to it and I loved it. 

The owner being a Greek was pleasant, sweet,and an highly educated woman in her late fourties! She in fact did an fabulous arrangement for her guests to have an comfortable and extravagant stay in the heart of the city of Athens. I must say I was very much pleased and contented. 

When I met my friends the day next day, they were really happy that I arranged such a wonderful stay for them. And like a holiday planned, we set out today to do some heavy sightseeing in almost thirty eight degrees Athens. We had a heart warming breakfast and set out our day by foot to Acropolis! The one monument you cannot miss whilst your stay at Athens.

So now they are out there doing all the study and enjoying the historical monument while I wait at the foothills of the Mighty Acropolis, having the oppurtunity to write a post and share my final week events with my dear friends in Athens. But unfortunately to my awe, I forgot to put in the micro card to my camera hence I promise to share you some pics along with my journey. 

So stay tuned, though the days are few, the journey is long! 🙂 

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Au-revoir Hellas.

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It has been seven months exactly since we moved to Greece. I have never imagined, I would come live here. I did not arrive as a tourist and how they say once they return from their holiday on how they fell in love with the country, instead I have a different vision to how I fell in love with this land. And now the time has come to bid good bye to this wonderful nation, filled with so much history, really nice down-to-earth people, the amazing places, the sea, the sand, the crystal clear beaches and the picturesque landscape.

Little did I know about this country when I first arrived to Athens. Like everyone else. I even forgot to do some of the research before arriving here. I came here early January, right after celebrating our Christmas with family back in Prague. My husband told me the news when we were still busy settling into our new apartment we moved back then in Prague. And how much I would like it here in Greece. At the beginning I wasn’t fully convinced but after living here for seven months. He was right! He was damn right! I did just not like it here but loved it here.

Athens was so incredible, the small alleys, tourists filled Taverna’s, living in the heart of the city was such a plus point for a person from a different country. Athens has got it’s own touch to living in Greece. Tourists often miss seeing Athens but it has got some feel to it. and today writing this post has just made me even more melancholy towards leaving this place. recollecting the events during this seven months only makes my heart heavy.

I still remember telling my partner, how much I wanted to visit Santorini and Mykonos. however, I din’t end up visiting neither of those places. but I did enjoy the best part of the Greece, the Venetian history filled places. Corfu, was breathtaking. at the tip of the north of Greece almost lying on the side of Albania, this place had a authentic Greek feel to it. soon after that visit, we were at Kefalonia and Zante. every place has its own aspect to Greece. Kefalonia was filled with rocky huge mountains and when you reach the tip of the mountain, from the distance you could see the amazing crystal green waters below which will always remain in my memories. I can hardly find words to describe Zante, this was an love at first sight, Island. Over all, Though I did not get to visit where all the tourists usually visit, I saw the real authentic Greece. and now, I am almost in tears, in having to miss this amazing haven.

(Go check out my guest post about the Ionian Islands where I detailed on the Islands I mentioned in the above paragraph in a dear friend’s blog : Oh! Fernweh)

The one thing that will always remind me of Greece is the amazing food. blessed with agriculture, Greece has the freshest produce you could ever get in Europe. Greeks love their food and cannot live without it and so cant I! 🙂 The most missed food would be the famous Pita Gyros. By far, my most Favorited food since I got here. But I cant put away the rest of the food. Greek food is the best food after my very own Indian food. and the fresh fruits and vegetables produce I usually buy every Friday at the farmers market. I am going to surely miss that. My little daughter used to get all thrilled and excited to see the vendors at the market and to say Yasu (Hello), waving her tiny hand. And I have got just one last Friday for the market.

And since the summer began with it’s full heat, our weekends were spent at the sea most of the time. I would never forget the first time my daughter touched the Mediterranean Sea with her tiny feet. I am going to definitely miss the sea, sun and the sand. I was lucky to experience the 3 S’s once again after being in Maldives for 5 years.  I can keep writing a huge described post of how many things I would miss in Greece. but for now, I am just excited for the next week as my Best friend from Prague comes to visit me here in Greece for 5 days before my travel chapter in Greece ends!

This will be the last holiday until Christmas, so I am going to soak up all the Greek sun and enjoy to the maximum before heading back to home, Prague to begin a new chapter of my life!

Kachchi gosht ki Biryani

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Kachchi Gosht ki Biryani

My love for Biryani goes back to a few years ago, before leaving India to work in Maldives. Coming from the Land of Nawabs, Hyderabad, I always had the immense adoration towards it from the time I first tasted it, which I still remember and it had gotten more aged like the wine, when I left India, which only made me crave for it and forced me to learn to master the art of this recipe. I remember eating a lot Biryani as a child, for every occasion be it marriage, Christmas, new year, Easter, birthday, you name it! It is by far considered the food of rich in India. coming from a cultured heritage and a long known tradition of Indian food, the recipe I am going to share with you will surely inspire you to try out your own hand at this delicious recipe. This recipe is lets just say a family traditional recipe passed on to my mother and from her to me but with my own twist added to it. 🙂

Since, I currently live in Greece, i was able to gather all the ingredients that I need for this recipe, without further ado, I pushed myself to prepare this one pot meal. People often say that cooking a recipe with so many spices and flavors is a tedious job, but the recipe I am about to share you would only leave you with a delicious, mouth melting Biryani. but, I would recommend a bit of patience when it comes to certain stages of this recipe such as gathering all ingredients, marination and especially the cook time.

First, I would like to let you know, this recipe is a ‘Kachchi’ meaning its raw and cooked on a layered form allowing it to take time and cook in its own steam known as ‘Dum’. This recipe calls for fresh ‘mutton’ meaning goat meat, marinated in spices overnight to tenderize the meat and cook the meat faster than its required time. I say do not rush, if you rush, you would just mess it up, take it like a therapy. It will only help for a final fascinating result. So, Let’s begin our therapy, but carefully follow every bit of the recipe to produce the best Biryani you ever tasted:

For the Meat:

I used Mutton as this recipe calls for goats meat.

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Butcher’s Fresh Goat Meat

Note: Tsp = Teaspoon Tblsp = Tablespoon

Ingredients:

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Spices for Biryani

Mutton –  1 Kilogram

Salt – 1 Tsp

Coriander powder – 2 Tsps

Roasted Cumin – 1/4 Tsp

Garam Masala – 1/2 Tsp

Red Chilli Powder – 3/4 Tsp

Black Pepper – 1/2 Tsp

Cumin Seeds (Jeera)  – 1/2 Tsp

Cardamom – 4 Pods

Cinnamon Sticks – 1 Inch

Bay Leaves (Bit Crushed) – 2 Leaves

Cloves – 4

Green Chillies (Crushed) – 5

Ginger Garlic Paste – 3 Tblsps (Must)

Lemon Juice – 4 Tblsps

Mint Leaves (Do not Chop) – 5 Leaves (Must)

Coriander Leaves – 8 Leaves

Greek Yoghurt (or) Thick hung curd – 5 Tblsps

Fried Onions – 3 big Onions chopped and fried in oil.

Ghee (or) ground nut Oil – 5 Tblsps

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Incorporation of Spices for Marination

Ensure to wash the meat twice. place it in a clean bowl which preferably has a lid to close, ensure to gather all the ingredients together in order not to miss any. Place all of the above ingredients along with the meat and mix well, preferably with your own sanitized hands.  Add the oil/ Ghee and Mix until it looks like the below mentioned picture, and store it into a refrigerator for a complete marination of up to 8 hours.

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Marinated Meat
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Refrigerate for 8 Hours

For the Rice:

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40% cooked Basmati Rice

Ensure to use quality Basmati Rice for that fall apart grains once cooked. you don’t want to eat a soggy and sticky riced Biryani.

Ingredients:

Rice – 500 grams

Salt – 1 Tblspn

Fresh water to Boil.

Wash the rice thoroughly, I recommend thrice for the removal of extra starch and Soak the rice for approximately 30 minutes so that the rice can cook faster and elongate it’s size while boiling. Bring the rice to boil. remember when placing the rice to cook, that’s when you add the salt. the moment you see the water boil, pull out a spatula, bring out a few grains of rice and break the rice grain into two. if it breaks immediately, it means its cooked 40%. remember the rice has to be cooked only 40% and the rest 60% would be cooked in the skillet with the meat and the rest of the ingredients. Immediately drain the water and set aside the rice.

Assemble / Layering:  

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Layered Biryani ready to be DUM

Ingredients:

Boiled eggs:  3 (Optional) but taste Yum!

Fried Onions : a handful

Mint Leaves – 5 leaves

Saffron infused milk – 3/4 cup

Ghee (or) Groundnut Oil : 4 Tblsps

Must Have:

Heavy based Pot

Aluminum foil for DUM

In the heavy based skillet, add a Tblspn of Ghee and spread the marinated meat evenly without having any space. then, add another 2 Tblspns of Ghee on the top of the spread marination then, layer the rice and spread it evenly once again ensuring that there are no gaps and lumps. Place the 3 boiled eggs on top of the rice. Sprinkle the fried onions, spreading it across, Add the Mint leaves, then, sprinkle the Saffron milk around the prepared dish. Once that’s done, add the last tblspn of Ghee over.

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Saffron Infused Milk
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Pure Greek Saffron
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Heavy based Pot

Now, what i am going to say is very important and this is where the moment of truth appears for the dish, Cover the pot with 2 layers of Aluminum foil and then place the lid on top of the pot and wrap around the lid another layer of aluminum foil to ensure that the steam wouldn’t escape the pot while the dish cooks. this is called the ‘Dum’. Turn the gas on to high, Place the pot on the burner and let the dish cook for over 10 mins on high flame and then reduce it immediately to a low flame and let it cook for about 30 minutes. I used a timer and suggest you do the same. once the dish has cooked passed 40 mintues in total. turn the gas down and remove it off the gas and let it rest on the kitchen counter for 5 minutes before you open the pot.

Once you have opened the pot, take a fork and gently fluff the rice, the aroma that fills the house is so pleasing and trust me you would be so satisfied with the cooking.

You may serve the biryani with soft melt in mouth chunks of meat with either, Baigan ka Bartha ( A dish comprising of Brinjal/ Aubergine), Mirchi ka salan (A dish prepared with chillies) a must have Dahi Raitha (Yoghurt based Chutney) and some fresh cut lemon and circled onions.

Bon Appetit!

Savoury food guide to Czech Republic

pizap.com14354026194421In my previous post, I mentioned must try foods, if you are visiting Czech Republic. In this post I would like to share the best savoury foods you can eat from the country. Like I already mentioned in my previous post, a lot of the them think Czech food isn’t vibrant but here are some of the delicious foods I would want you to take pleasure in tasting on your trip to the central part of the Europe.

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Chlebicky

‘Chlebicky’ – similar to a Bruschetta or an open faced sandwich, is usually served as a starter. It comes in wide range of variety, but the czech’s prefer the cold cut chlebicky’s.

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Trdelnik
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Ovocne Knedliky

Mostly popular in the Central European countries. this dish is also known as  ‘Kürtőskalács‘. It is made from rolled dough that is wrapped around a stick, and then grilled and topped with sugar and walnut crunch.The name trdelník comes from trdlo, the wooden stake the cake is wrapped around for cooking which gives it its traditional hollow shape

Ovocne Knedliky is a fruit based dumpling, which is made of Potato dough having a filling of variety of fruits. one of the most delicious one is the berries and peaches. it’s a satisfying meal for sweet lovers as it is a sweet dish. Usually eaten for dinner, it can also be served as a desert. The dumpling is served as it is or with sprinkles of sugar powder and whipped cream.

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Kolac

Kolac is a mouth watering delicious pastry filled with types of fillings in the center or inside of the pastry. since the Czech Republic is number one producer of Poppy seeds, the popular kolac comes with the stuffing of poppy seeds and other different varieties, one with tvaroh ‘cream cheese’ , fruit stuffing. For a first timer it may taste different but trust me it is delicious and addictive!

Crepes filled with chocolate and berries
Palacinky

Often people mistake Pancakes as crepes. Pancakes are the American version of thick flat cake and crepes in Czech known as Palacinky are super thin paper like pancake although the recipe calls for the same ingredients. What distinguishes the Czech Palacinky’s is that they are filled with amazing goodness of fruits served with dollop of ice cream and whipped cream. My most favorite desert of all times. now the new trend has got spicer version of Palacinky with Bacon or spinach stuffings. I will always rate this No:1 must try out food.

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Medovnik

The most popular cake in Czech Republic, the Medovnik is scrumptiously delicious. It’s a 10 layered cake, Medovnik derives from Med meaning Honey, with its unique taste, its nothing like you have ever tasted before. Moist and flavorsome, some say it’s like eating golden sunshine.

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Babovka
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Vanocka

Babovka in transaltion means Grandma’s cake. It’s a typical traditional  bundt marble cake with a combination of vanilla and chocolate mixtures into a swirl mould which looks beautiful when presented. It’s a cake perfect for tea time, and that’s how the czech’s usually have it too, it is placed on the table with sprinkled white sugar as shown in the picture. It reminds of me of Christmas.

 Traditionally made during Christmas, this braided bread is simply yum and can be eaten for breakfast or tea. When making vánočka, it is said that one must think of everyone dear to you. Another custom is to avoid touching silver or metal to the vánočka. Finally, the person who is making the vánočka should jump up and down while the dough rises. 😉 The bread is named after the Vanoce meaning Christmas in Czech.

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Spa Town “Karlovy Vary” famous Oplatky

The super thin wafer from the spa town of Czech are one more authentic add to the food glossary. these delicious wafers are one of a kind with perfectly spread walnut sugar crunch in between the wafer makes it a melt in the mouth. there are also several other flavors such as cinnamon, cocoa, coconut, vanilla, strawberry. The best souvenir you could carry back to your loved ones.

This is it from my side, but do let me know if you would like to add more into the list and enjoy the food from Czech Republic like how I do.

Happy Blogging!

Must try foods from Czech Republic

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I have read a whole lot of awful stuff about how Czech Republic’s food is very bland and how awesome the beverage is. Of course, when we talk about gastronomy, beer takes the first place. Czech’s love their beer, that’s why they proudly boast to be the highest consumer of beer in the world. but today, my post is to introduce a whole new aspect of food that you can enjoy while staying at Czech Republic. I am going to add a new light to the gastronomical world of Czech food.  The tradition of cooking has been carefully sorted out and preserved for centuries together. Czech’s like to keep their food simple but full of bursting flavors the moment it hits your mouth. Therefore, let me introduce to you the most delicious foods from the country without further introductions:

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Knedlo-Vepro-Zelo

1. This is one of the most loved and enjoyed meal by the Czech’s. It combines, three entirely different flavours to make it one dish, it has pork braised and cooked separately with cumin seeds, and homemade most famous dumplings called ‘knedlo’, and saucy sauerkraut that you would have never tried else where. must try!

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Smazeny Syr

2. This dish is another classic meal, you must try without which I wouldn’t recommend you leave from the country! Usually served with french fries, this delicacy is scrumptious and a melt in the mouth. The ‘Gouda‘ cheese is cubed and bread-crumbed and fried for a delicious bite. ‘Smazeny’ means ‘Fried’ which is how it derives it name simply as ‘Fried Cheese’

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Hovezi gulas s knedlikom

3. A sight for the sore eyes. not only does this dish looks good but tastes excellent. the onions on the top makes it a winner. this dish is a classic beef ‘goulash‘ with homemade dumplings. don’t forget to try it out!

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Svickova na Smetane

4. This typical czech dish is called the ‘beef sirloin in cream sauce’ is one of the most popular dishes in the country. usually prepared with marinated beef sirloin and double cream sauce, served with cranberry sauce and whip cream.

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Smazeny Kvetak

5. As mentioned previously ‘Smazeny‘ means fried. This is also a fried based dish but this time it is with cauliflower. boiled and fried, its crunchy to the taste buds. Vegetarians don’t hesitate to look out for this one!

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Smazeny Rizek a Bramborovym Salat

6.  The Salad is a stunning recipe, with bursting flavors of boiled eggs, vinegar and potatoes. Rizek referred to as Steak is served with a typical czech potato salad. you are going to lick your plate clean! 😉

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Bramboracky

7. As you can already notice that the Czech food mainly consists of  Potatoes, this  recipe calls for grated potatoes, mixed with flavored spices with loads of cumin. favored more as a short eat by the Czechs.

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Klobasa a chlebem a horcici

8. Yet another short eat, you can find this on any corner of the country. mostly preferred by the beer lovers on a summer day! Klobasa is classic Czech sausage which is served with traditional Czech Bread and a dollop of Mustard sauce.

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Parek a Rohiliku

9. This is similar to a Hot Dog from America but the Czech version. served with a Czech sausage bun stuffed with a sausage of your choice with some mustard. also a short eat!

In my next post, I am going to take you through the fabulous Czech Savories that you can enjoy. Trust me you will not be disappointed.

Hope you enjoyed the read!