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Savory Cornmeal Pancakes

Savory Cornmeal Pancakes

I am craving spicy food these days.

Pohe (flaked rice), spicy fish curry, chicken wings with hot sauce, spicy soups, curries and dal. The list is endless. Thanks to mom being here and her cooking; its easier to indulge in the spicier palate.

Yesterday, we made these cornmeal pancakes for breakfast. After routine of eggs, toast and oatmeal; they were a refreshing change.

Savory Cornmeal Pancakes

The pancakes themselves were not too spicy ( though you can kick up heat a notch if you will easily with more green chilli peppers) but with homemade pickle it sure did hit the right note. I suppose some garlic chutney would go well with it too.

I wanted to add grated zucchini or cucumber to them but we didn’t have any on hand so made them plain. This looks like a good vehicle to sneak in some veggies. I made a couple of small-sized ones for Varun. He ate the bits without cilantro so next time I will chop them super fine so he gets in his veggies for the day.

Savory Cornmeal Pancakes

Savory Cornmeal Pancakes Recipe

  • 1/2 cup corn meal
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4  teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 – 2 spring onions finely diced
  • 1 green chilli pepper finely diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro finely chopped
  • 1  tablespoon oil

1. In a large bowl, mix  cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside

2. In another bowl, beat the egg with milk. Add yogurt and beat well so there are no lumps.

3. Add the milk-yogurt mixture to the flour mix. Add ginger, garlic, chilli pepper and cilantro. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Set aside for 10 – 15 minutes.

4. Heat oil in a non stick girdle. Ladle 1/4 cup of the mixture on to the girdle when hot. Cook on each side for a couple of minutes till golden brown.

Serve warm with sour cream, pickle or yogurt.

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Everyday Dinner: Skillet Grilled Cheesy Whole Wheat Quesadillas

Vegetable Dinner Quesadillas

Would you like a cheese paratha?

Varun’s aunt asked him during one of our visits to Mumbai. His default answer. No.

Knowing that this is something he would like, I asked her to make one for me instead.

And when he saw the crunchy, cheese oozing paratha, he wanted to have one too.

Recently we bought whole wheat tortillas and while preparing a salad for Vipul, I wondered about our dinner. It had to be quick and easy, since Varun wouldn’t allow me to tinker around in the kitchen for long.

A cheese paratha inspired whole wheat quesadillas were born.

Spring onion, cilantro and ginger were quickly sliced up and mixed with a bit of salt and paprika. Cheese was grated and added to the mix.

A tortilla roasted on the skillet. The mix spread out, tortilla folded and then grilled on other side.

Within minutes, we had a piping hot meal that was enjoyed by all ( Vipul had one wedge as the aroma of grilled cheese was hard to resist!)

Skillet Grilled Cheesy Whole Wheat Quesadillas Recipe

Makes 2 servings

  • 2- Ready made whole wheat tortillas or roti (from Indian stores)
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 spring onions sliced ( white and green parts)
  • 1/2 inch knob of ginger root peeled and minced
  • Handful of cilantro leaves finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika or red chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon oil for grilling

1. Mix all the ingredients from cheese to salt in a bowl. Taste and adjust for seasonings.

2. In a skillet, heat a whole wheat tortilla. One heated, flip it over. Spoon the cheese mixture liberally and fold in half. Cook on each side for a minute or so till the cheese melts. Take care that the tortilla doesn’t burn.

3. Cut into wedges and serve warm with fresh fruits and salad.

Dubai Dolphinarium

Dolphin and Seal Show at Dubai Dolphinarium

Before I sign off on Dubai posts, I have to write about the place where Varun laughed and squealed the most – Dubai Dolphinarium.

We had spent the earlier part of the day at Ski Dubai so this was a befitting part 2 of the focussed day. The Dolphinarium is in Children’s City – a little bit further from Dubai Mall. Mostly we saw locals, kids celebrating birthdays and other little kids with their parents on vacation.Varun has a small blue toy dolphin that he loves. He used to play with it in India and I think it’s probably lost somewhere in the move. So when he saw pictures of the Dolphins in various brochures his eyes went wide as he literally yelled “Look, mama, Dolphins”!

The show is in an indoor air-conditioned auditorium. It is about 90 minutes long and has a musical and magic tricks ( they call it illusions) part which IMO was totally unnecessary and boring for kids. It was hard to keep kids engaged during that part despite the beautiful acrobatics.

Dolphin and Seal Show at Dubai Dolphinarium

Varun kept asking me when the dolphins and seals would arrive. Finally when they did, he was jumping up and down in his seat, clapping and cheering like I have never seen before.

Dolphin and Seal Show at Dubai Dolphinarium

Dolphin and Seal Show at Dubai Dolphinarium

Dolphin and Seal Show at Dubai Dolphinarium

Dolphin and Seal Show at Dubai Dolphinarium

Dolphin and Seal Show at Dubai Dolphinarium

Dolphin and Seal Show at Dubai Dolphinarium

Dolphin and Seal Show at Dubai Dolphinarium

If you do have little kids, do take them here. The Children’s City has other kid friendly things to do like slides, park, planetarium, nature and space center etc. Its worth heading out that way even if you have seen Dolphin shows else-where. Keep in mind transportation back after the dolphin show is a bit iffy and you have to wait for a cab to show up. 

We headed from here to see the musical fountains. I think we saw them thrice all in all. As we stayed fairly close to the Dubai mall it was one free indulgence which we loved.

A very kid friendly, safe and cosmopolitan city, we truly loved Dubai. We hope to visit again when the kids are older and we can do some crazy adventure the emirate has to offer: Zorbing, Indoor Sky diving, Hot Air Balloon Ride over the desert, just to name a few!

Dubai Adventures: Desert Safari

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One of the most popular things to do in Dubai is to go out in the evening for desert safari. Depending on the tour operator that you choose to go with, it includes dune bashing, sand skiing, camel rides, dinner in the desert with belly dancing, henna painting etc.Dune bashing was the highlight of the trip. Vipul couldn’t stop raving about it. I skipped as it was too much for my 28 week pregnant self to handle and of course I didn’t want Varun to partaking in it either. The ride is crazy rough (how crazy depends on your driver).

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We booked the tour after we reached Dubai and went with Arabian Nights. Apparently more exclusive (read expensive) tour operators take you out to a conservation area to talk about desert conservation, bedouin lifestyles, falconry etc, but this tour was a pure “entertainment”.Even though it is evening safari, we were picked up from our hotel around 3:00 pm and then dropped off by 9:30 pm.They dropped Varun and me at the desert camp and went with others to the dune bashing area. They were still setting up the camp so Varun and I wandered around the small dunes, watching camels and sunset from a ridge.

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Vipul loved the sand bashing part – roller coaster rides amongst dunes so high that it was impossible to keep up. He only got a sense of how vast the desert is when they stopped for sunset photo ops. The sunset watching area was crowded with all tour operators descending on the same spot for sunset and then whisking the tourists away to various camps for dinner.

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As Varun and I were at the camp before everyone else, we bagged some prime seats. After sunset, it began to cool a bit and the freshly made shwarma and falafel were what we needed. Even Varun enjoyed the falafel and freshly baked bread from tandoor.

Fortified, we went out to try the camel ride ( a joke of a 2 minute ride), henna painting, seeing the falcon and trying the sand skiing.

Over dinner, we got to see an amazing Tanoura  dance. Although not local to the area, the Tanoura dancers are a sight to watch. With their colorful long flowing skirts they twirl around at dizzying speeds. The origin of the dance is in Sufi tradition and is to symbolize union between Earth and Heaven with the twirling motion indicating seasons, movement of earth around Sun as well as around Mecca. Here the whole act was to entertain us tourists and earn a living. Maybe some day when we go to Egypt we will experience the dance the way it is intended to be. But for now, it got us hooked!

Tanoura Dancer Dubai

Tanoura Dancer Dubai

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Followed by the Tanoura dance was a belly dance – again not a regional dance but something to keep us entertained. She was good as belly dancers go. Folks milled around over food, Arabic coffee, sheesha while the belly dancer entertained.

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The good part about the camp setup was that the sheesha hut was setup away from the main seating area. So we were not bothered by the smoke. And other family friendly activities like henna painting, sand art, dressing up in local garb, souvenir shop etc were away from sheesha hut.

After dinner and entertainment, we headed back to our hotel. It was about an hours ride away. Folks we shared the car with were sloshed and slept all the way. Varun didn’t want to come back. He was happy playing in the sand and digging up a storm while we had dinner. Needless to say there was some crying involved but he slept en-route as he was tired to.

If you have one day in Dubai, do this tour. There is nothing more entertaining and adventurous than this! And of course this is what everyone back home will ask you about (besides Al Burj) ;)!!

Stunning Dubai Fountains

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Dubai is known for its superlatives – Dubai fountains being one of them.

They are the tallest fountains and dance to the music over a large man-made lake flanked by Burj Al Khalifa and Dubai Mall, similar to the ones in Bellagio, Las Vegas. The similarity is striking as the developers for both the projects are the same.

People flock here every evening from 6:00 pm onwards to see the show. Music varies by show. The views of Burj Al Khalifa and sunset over the skyscrapers behind the lake are particularly beautiful and make for great photo ops as you wait. We had an African song once and a Bollywood song one other time accompanying the fountains show. The place is packed as people try to occupy spot along the promenade, the bridge etc. So come early and stay for a couple of songs. Finding a cab after the show is hard as everyone tries to exit at the same time.

The best way, IMO, to experience the fountains is from one the boat ride on the lake. It is expensive but you get a view without jostling others. With a kid not having to worry about them getting lost in the crowd is always worth it.

It’s the best free attraction in Dubai.

Rest in photos.

PS: Looks like I need to learn to photograph dancing fountains better. Any tips appreciated!!

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Cucumber Guacamole Sandwiches

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Don’t you feel hungry when you are at home all day?

It happens to me all the time. I want to nibble on something here and there. A bit of this and that. We have stocked up on a lot of fruits and veggies just so that Varun and I can snack healthy. Varun enjoys his fruits but not vegetables. I am trying to introduce veggies back in his diet.

Carrots with hummus, celery sticks with peanut butter, cucumber sandwiches is what I have planed for this week. Serving carrots in avocado boats filled with hummus or cheese and baby tomatoes as flower seems to make it more appealing for him. So far he has had carrots, cucumber and cheese but hasn’t touch the hummus or celery. Baby steps.

To make this more adult friendly and filling, I made cucumber sandwiches. A fresh take on using guacamole and cucumbers and making them into finger food. They are perfect with good fat, veggies and a satisfying crunch. Made ahead, they are perfect as appetizers or h’ordeuvres for a party.

Fresh home guacamole is always best ( no preservatives) but store-bought one can work in a pinch. Especially during these busy holiday weekends when we are trying to do multiple things – shop for gifts, deck the halls, setup the tree, bake, attend gatherings etc.

I had them with my cuppa yesterday and they kept me full till dinner.

Any variety of cucumber works though I think English would be lovely. Zucchini rounds work as an alternative.You can top the guacamole with nuts or smoked salmon or even tofu to make it more filling and for that added boost of protein and vitamins. I suppose goat cheese, finely diced sun-dried tomato and anchovies would make a festive party filling.

Give them a try today. You probably already have everything you need in your fridge already!

Cucumber Guacamole Sandwiches Recipe

  • 1/2 Cucumber or Zucchini sliced into rounds
  • 2 – 3 tablespoon pesto (optional)
  • 1 Ripe Avocado
  • 1/4 – 1/2 habernaro chilli pepper
  • 1/4 red onion thinly sliced
  • 1  – 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Handful of fresh cilantro leaves finely chopped
  • Salt to taste

1. Slice the cucumber or zucchini and arrange on a platter. Smear wee bit of pesto on half of the round. You don’t want the pesto to overpower the taste but a bit enhances the flavors. Set aside.

2. Cut and de seed the avocado. Mash its pulp in a bowl. Add rest of the ingredients. Mix well. Taste and adjust salt and lemon juice per taste.

3. Add a dollop of guacamole on the pesto smeared rounds. Cover with remaining rounds.

Serve immediately.

Happy snacking.

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