Manchurian; without the Allium!!!

I am a big time lazy bum! There I said it. I finally managed to find some time to ooze my taste buds. It’s not every time that I get a chance to cook, but when I do I make sure I do it with passion. After sorting through zillion recipes in YouTube, I decided to stick with my quick reference channel – Nisha Madhulika. One thing I love about her channel is the absence of onions and garlic in the recipes. Not sure why, but I like to steer clear of onions and garlics in the food most of the time. All these time, I had an impression that any Manchurian will taste bad without onions and garlic, but as always this channel proved me wrong. I, instantly and irrevocably fell in love with the recipe.

boiled gobi

Quick fact:

Onion: Binomial name is Allium cepa.

Garlic: Binomial name is Allium sativum.

Cauliflower: Binomial name is Brassica oleracea.

I would waste no more time and get going with the recipe. So here are the ingredients required to make an easy Manchurian recipe, only without onion and garlic (belonging to Allium genus). Now, I am not giving the exact amount here. You might want to add it proportionately to the other ingredients.

The Participants:

YOU!!!

Cauliflower (Gobi) – 1 or 2 based on the number of servings required.

Maida (All purpose flour)

Corn Flour (Maida and corn flour to be mixed equally)

Green Coriander

Ginger paste (not Garlic-Ginger)

Green Chilly – finely chopped

Sauce mix (Tomato-Chilly) and Soy

Vinegar

Sugar

Black Pepper

Salt

Oil

 

The Initiation:

Get the florets out of the cauliflower. Wash it once. Now in a big vessel, pour some water and boil the Gobi florets- Helps you clean them better. Not sure if it was just for me, but boiling seemed to improve the taste of Gobi.

Take equal amounts of Maida and Corn Flour and mix it with water to make a moderately thick batter. As I move on with the addition of ingredients, I would recommend doing it in proportions since I am not mentioning the exact amount. It is important to make sure that there are no lumps in the batter. Smoother the batter is, better the fried Gobi’s’ taste.

Now a bit of corn flour is taken separately and water is added to make a thick solution.

I sometimes deviate from the normal process just to make it look fun. This time, I faced a shortage of chilli sauce and hence I had to add some water to the little sauce available to get a diluted sauce. To spice up things a little more, I mixed the tomato sauce with chilli sauce (solution).

Sometimes, you just get lucky. My sister helped me with chopping the chillies so it looks finely chopped :D, while I tried making a fresh paste from ginger. Obvious enough, the paste was too liquid and I had to mix the ginger paste-like solution with chopped chillies. However, believe me, nothing made the dish go bad!

 

The process:

Now that we are done with the initiation, let us proceed to the rest of the process.

To the maida-corn flour batter, add some black pepper powder and a pinch of salt. Dip the Gobi florets in this batter before frying them. Frying Gobi, Paneer cubes or mushrooms before adding them to the sauce always improves the taste multi-fold, and it follows that we need to fry the Gobi florets in a pan with heated oil.

 

In a frying pan, heat some oil (or you can just use a part of the oil used for frying Gobi). As a person with little experience but enormous passion for cooking, this part always gives me headaches. I was supposed to put the semi solid ginger paste and chopped green chillies here. Instead, all I had was the ginger-chilly solution from the initiation phase :D.

I had to pour this to the heated oil. I turned the gas to low flame believing that it would reduce the popping. One flip and the entire solution was in the pan; I was in the next room! The poppings soon simmered down and this time, it was time to add the sauce mixture (Tomato and chilli). Stir for 30 seconds before adding the corn flour solution. Add soy sauce too and stir it for a minute or two. The mixture takes a thick solution form which just means that corn flour did its work.

sauce

It’s time to add the vinegar, salt and sugar to the mix and stir for another 30 seconds. As a final step, add the fried Gobi to this sauce and stir well so that the sauce mixes with the Gobi uniformly. You can add the green coriander now to boost the flavour.

final in pan

Transferring the dish to another vessels will bring the cooking process to an end. Voila! Your guess is right. The Gobi Manchurian is now ready to be served.

Surprise: I thought the lack of onion and garlic will show up in its taste and to my surprise, it tasted as good as the real Manchurian which made me wonder why they were added in the first place! I would definitely recommend everyone to try this recipe and I am sure you won’t regret it.

Quick Tip: Cauliflower (Gobi) can be replaced with any other vegetable of your choice.

Acknowledgements:

Thank you mom and sister for helping me in preparing the dish. Thank you dad for bravely tasting the dish and giving the verdict. Finally, thank you Nisha Madhulika ma’am for this awesome recipe inspiration.

You can also watch this recipe on YouTube here:

Connected Cars – The future is here!!

CZ Smart Mobility

Cars have always created attention. Images on articles, new attractive designs, convertibles, connected cars, automated cars, etc. had always created more interest. Now, there is a plenty of buzz around the connected car concept. It seems people are beginning to feel the future already. When there is so much advancement in technology with cloud computing- the face of future technology is already on the run. It could be a little amusing when there are no talks about connected cars.

Bosch picture

Bosch media service

          Ever sat in awe of the movie Cars? Absolutely Yesssssss!!!!! Cars talking to each other, exchanging data- this happens not just in movies fellas! The cars can now talk to other cars. They alert the drivers to avoid possible collision too. These are Connected Cars that are connected to the Internet. They talk to the sensors on road, traffic lights, bus stops, cars…

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From Thekkady, with Bolt!!!!

Thekkadi Lake- this is not a new name for the tourists. But there exists a similar exotic place nearby, unfamiliar to many. It is the Ottakathalamedu (meaning camel head plateau). Amidst the lush greenery of the high range, we could see a region sporting camel’s head (No!!! It just looks like that!!). It’s about 4km from Kumali. The head is seeable approximately after half a kilometer, on the Munnar road. To reach the head, we need to surmount a steep road which metaphorically is referred to as climbing the camel’s neck. Then comes the plateau that boasts of the zephyr. It feels like we are in a state of tangency with heaven, in the God’s Own Country.
Ottakathalamedu is for those people who after enjoying the boat ride at Thekkadi, are probably rambling about. Those who are tired of calling in Ramakalmedu and Kovilmett which are facing Tamil Nadu, can always look forward to this place which is right in Kerala. I too, went there for similar reasons, only to be blown away by the awe of the place. Adding to my joy, I had a companion- the very Bolt. You are wrong- it’s not Ussain Bolt, but the new avatar of Tata.

Sprinter Bolt
Tata must have reckoned the cheetah of the race track, the Jamaican Ussain Bolt, while making a car bearing his name. Lightning speed; Well, Tata Bolt has not spoiled the name. Sprinter is the one who picks up speed right from the start. It conquers the roads without waiting for much gear shifts. Bolt started sprinting during the night time from Kottayam. It took just two and a half hours for it to reach Kumali- without staggering anywhere in the middle. Be it the high range roads, or the plain- Bolt’s behavior does not change. The AC is spectacular, it just ousts the cold in the exterior. The seats are suited for long distance journeys. Bolt strikes in every areas.

To be continued!………

The Secret guide to eating cheap in Chennai

Chennai, the cosmopolitan capital of Tamil Nadu, keeps many of its riches in its kitchen. With street-side sizzling, hot-plate griddling dining scene, the city which is rightly famous for its elaborate cuisine and spiciness, continues to be the undoubted capital of South Indian dining. But wait a minute!!! With all that said, we all love and long to have great food that doesn’t burn a hole in the pocket. This might seem synonymous to buying food from some random dhabas (no offence), most of us prefer to have them from a budget food outlet. So for those people, the below article will serve as a guide to wallet friendly restaurants from where you can have full plate instead of half (let’s face it, we do it because our wallet gets lighter otherwise).

Though Tamil cooking is mostly meat free which comes with chilies, curry leaves and coconut burst, Chennai also houses top notch non-veg treats to keep the most devoted carnivore happy. Chettinadu restaurants are to look for in this matter, since they pack in the spicy, fiery non-veg flavours.

Let’s start the day!!!

A typical day starts with a kapi- or the coffee. If you are a caffeine freak or a java maniac, you must definitely try the Kumbakonam Degree Coffee joint- the home of tasty filter coffee. Made with milk, sugar and fine chicory, hands down; it is a deliciously addictive brew decanted on every street corner. You will be even delighted to know that it comes at a reasonable price: Rs. 8-Rs. 25. The foodies might want to start with the humble idli- a spongey rice cake dunked into the lentil broth (sambar) or the chutney. Then comes a close second- Dosas; basically crepes made of rice flour. Believe it or not, once you have tasted the spicy masala dosa, stuffed with potato, there is no going back. Uthappam, a close cousin of Dosa, only thicker and choked with coriander, green chilies and onion is also a famous dish here. Finally, who doesn’t adore a deep fried doughnut like Medu Vada? That completes a basic breakfast cycle of a typical Tamilian.

Now, there is Amma Unavagam, where you can get all the above together for a price within Rs.30 and it is definitely worth trying for sure. There is also the trusty budget friendly Saravana Bhavan for those who savor south’s veggie specialties. For city’s best idlies, head right to Ratna Café, whose sambar idly recipe has been one of the most jealously guarded secrets in Chennai.

The morning snack!!!

It’s time to get on feet. A foodie always replenishes his/her tummy and is always ready to eat in the free time he/she gets. The next you might want to take would be Royal Sandwich. The varieties they offer are enough to keep you in awe. But what make them so cool is the price. You might very well take a look at what price sandwiches go these days. Parathas, lassis and chats- who doesn’t like them? These are all many people crave for among the North Indian foods. Well, here is the happy news- Rotiwala to your rescue. You might as well try the Rasoee for North Indian and Chinese dishes at extremely low prices.

Munch your lunch!!!

Time for the real food!! Thalis or simply meals are the soul of lunch in South India. Thalis are made up of sambar, spicy gravies, chutneys, tamarind flavored rasam, a usual ladyfinger or cauliflower veggie and cool curd. Traditionally, they are laid out in a long banana leaf, but nowadays, space constraints have restricted them to be in a plate. Never mind, as long as the flavor is not affected by any constraints. As the spice levels soar high, rice is the key since its lightness and freshness is the benchmark for quality.

Now, if thali is not what you want and you are the mini meals type, then never look back. You have a variety to choose from: Curd, Tomato, Lemon, Tamarind, Mint, Coriander, Brinji etc…. are just the popular ones. For less spicy and less costly Keralan take on the meals, Nair Mess in Chepauk is the best. Since 1961, this shop has not seen a day without crowd. It is so much that people will lunge for your table faster than you can say sambar. Well, if these options still feel like a heavy option, there’s always Amma Unavagam ready to fill your stomach for under Rs.30.

The Evening stroll….

It’s the evening and evenings are always incomplete without snacks. When the sandwiches and rolls in Subway might have left your mouth watering, WOSS (World of Subs and Salads) are bound to give your spicy buds a proper rest. A small kiosk with much more flavors than Subway is what is waiting for you inside a WOSS. Want to go Italian at a reasonable price? Head to Fusilli, Kilpauk and savor a plate of Pasta for just 80 bucks. The Mumbai Café in the OMR is sure to give the feel of a true Mumbai food in your mouth. Chats, Vada Pavs, Misal Pavs and Sabudana Khichdis are not something to be missed. Ok, let’s take a break and try some Tibetan food, shall we? Momos, Thukpa, and other such Asian delights are available at the Kailash Kitchen, Choolaimedu.

Mr. Chapathi- A life saver for all of us, foodies who go broke by the end of the month. And that’s not the best part, their extemely long list of out of the box chappathi varieties is bound to confuse your mind and make your jaw drop in awe. It’s not finished yet. Seena Bhai Tiffin Centre in the NSC Bose Road, Rayars mess in Mylapore prepares food griddled to perfection. The Jannal Kadai or the Window shop in Mylapore, just to the south of Kapaleeswarar temple, serves fresh and fabulous bajjis, bondas and vadas. So take whatever he’s got going.

With all the above food in your tummy, if it still makes you want for more food, then you can always trust the fine dining restaurants for the dinner which includes the Dakshin, of the Sheraton Park Hotel with the only disadvantage is being on the heavier wallet side. But for budget foodies, there are still Saravana Bhavans and Junior Kuppanas flamboyantly serving the exquisite dishes.

Parental Controls: Spy like a Pro!!!

I reckon, parental control technology isn’t a new word to almost anyone. It is as old as the word itself. Hitherto, I had never been in a situation to use it or even for that matter, was never used on me. It’s not bad, however I found it awkward, like almost every children when I heard about it for the first time. Even the TV’s had child lock, a predecessor of parental controls. Coming to the present scenario, internet has taken over almost every (or is it just every?) digital ‘thing’ you can find before you. Internet has oodles of good things to offer, but ‘good’ is always accompanied by bad in most cases. Internet is no exception, since you don’t know who the dog is once you are on the World Wide Web. Myriad of malicious users are anticipating naïve children so that they can covertly perform their crack activities.

That being said, parental control is the solution for ensuring the protection of children while using the internet. While parental control can range from using the technology available to literally spying on them, though the latter part is morally a bad activity. There are many parents who are willing to play CBI or RAW (or the much admired FBI) agents to keep their children away from harm. Assuming the child is using a Windows PC, let us see what it takes to set up a parental control.

So, we have finally decided to give it a try. Parents can choose from in built or other services. Many external services like Norton family, Bitdefender Parental Control, FortiClient etc…. are ready to take up the tedious job. On the other hand, if you are hardcore Windows lover and won’t even turn your eyes towards third parties, you can always rely on Windows in built parental control.

The Windows Parental Control gives you two options:

  • Setting the limits
  • Monitoring the activities

Windows family safety cannot be set up for the administrator account. So you need to create a standard account to do that. You can choose between a local account and Microsoft account. If you wish the new account to be a child account, then do not forget to check child account option. The process in a glance is:

Control Panel -> User Accounts & Family Safety -> Family Safety

capture1

Now, we have to select a non-administrator account. As you can see, Standard is the account we need to select.

Click on the account to see a screen like below.

capture2

The screen is self-explanative. If you don’t want Family Safety, turn it off and forget the headache. If that’s what you want, then turn on the activity reports also to get detailed information.

You have the control over four settings.

  • Web Filtering
  • Time Limits
  • Windows store and game restrictions
  • App restrictions

Web filtering allows you to specify allowed and blocked websites.

cap3

The next option literally gives you the ultimate customization on the time of usage. Time filtering can be effectively implemented by

  • Setting time allowance
  • Setting curfew

cap4

In the above screenshot, you’ll be amazed by the control it gives to the parents when it comes to parental control. Separate time settings for weekdays and weekends are allowed.

cap5

Yes, I felt the same. Curfew is a familiar term which I have heard only related to national and state administrations. Well, it has exactly the same meaning in computer also. If you look at the screenshot, Saturday 8:00 to 8:30 p.m., Thursday 4:30 to 5:00 p.m. and Monday 3:00 to 4:00 a.m. are the curfew time. Mind you dear children, you are forbidden from using the computer during the specified time.

cap6

I might as well ask the children to forgive me. Helping the parents with blocking a game is definitely not expected to go well with them, but I am helpless as Windows specifies it for Family Safety.

cap7

Windows feel that some apps that it has to offer may not be suitable for kids. So as a part of parental control, it allows the parents to allow access to only limited apps which they feel is right for their kids.

A huge sigh!! Finally, the setup has been set up. Windows will now do the spy work for you, while parents can sit back and relax. Children are curious and thus consciously or not, they will try to access the blocked content, not knowing that they are being monitored.

If you have not forgotten yet, there was a View Activity Reports option in the safety setup. Windows logs the child’s activity including the reports on activities, Websites visited, File downloads, Apps used and Games Played in this part.

cap8

As you can see, clicking on each options on the left, will give you the details.

And that’s how you spy like a pro. It all looks good until the moral part comes in. This plan fails miserably with the children who already know about parental control and the administrator password. Another difficulty is that, if the children comes to know about the serious spying of parents, it would result in the children lambasting the parents for their activities. It may even end up in the metamorphosis of the children from cheerful to cold ones.

I would like to conclude with a word of advice (not sure though, if I am worthy to give advices). It is always better to talk to the children directly about the bad side of the internet and warn them from becoming a victim. I would recommend the parental control if all other steps fail.

 

Nano GenX Easy Shift: Driving made Easy!!!

Ever since its birth, Nano was known for its identity- India’s low cost car. And now, it has added another word to its line; India’s low cost automatic car. It will not be a surprise even if we call it India’s easy car. Let me site some reasons. This small car makes it easy to park. Tata added the flavor of power steering to the Nano Shift, making it easy to drive. The latest news is that Tata have bestowed AMT gearbox on Nano which enables easy gear shifting. When it comes to the new Nano, it’s not just the looks, but there is a lot more. Let’s get to know more about the easy car.

Design

Previous Nano had a complaint- their boot doors could not be opened. This time Tata has solved the problem by giving a beautiful boot door which is openable. The AMT variant has a boot capacity of 94 liters and other GenX variants have 110 liters. It becomes around 500 liters when rear seats are folded. The engine heat can be felt a tad bit in the boot. But compared to the old models, engine sound inside the cabin has boiled down.

One of my friend feels that the new Nano has solid fit and finish. He even said that some parts in his old Nano seemed loose as if it would come off any time. GenX is built with high quality and the parts are strong.

Interior

Nano has borrowed the steering wheels from Zest, but lacks the same quality. Dashboard dons beige plastic and looks dashing and of good quality. Another feature to point out is the console integrated with gear shift and instant mileage indicator. The higher end variant has handsfree and Bluetooth supported Music system. The accelerator works with the help of a sensor. There is an exclusive dead pedal for the left leg. Seat quality is hardly changed. It has enough head room for a moderately tall guy. The leg room is not posing a big problem.

Drive

Nano has many features proving its contemporaneity. One such is the AMT (Automated Manual Transmission) gear box made by Magneti Marelli, a subsidiary of Fiat. Engine is not newfangled. Moreover we can experience a tad bit of lag in automatic mode, but it is not so much of a spoilsport. For a change, a button press can take you to the sports mode. However, there is a real amusement with manual shift. Gear knob can be used without the help of clutch and Yes, Nano can move that way too.

City traffic may incommode some people (especially ladies and beginners). They may face trouble in moving the car forward without it going backwards, after a stop. Nano’s AMT could have given the same headache to the drivers, but Tata has solved it with a trick. It’s known as the creeping feature. While in first gear, Nano Easy Shift will move forward without giving accelerator. Accelerator is not needed for bumper to bumper movement during traffic. Nano’s fuel tank capacity is 15 liter. It has crammed up some weight which reflects in the driving.

Engine

Nano GenX gets a power of 37bhp at 5500 rpm, all thanks to the 2 cylinder 624cc petrol engine. It offers a torque of 51nm at 4000rpm. Nano GenX can race past the other cars at a whopping 105 km per hour. It has a 4 speed manual gearbox and a 5 speed Easy Shift.

The Verdict

Some statistics:

Brakes—– Drum (front and rear)

L W H—– 3099 x 1495 x 1652 mm

Wheelbase—– 2230 mm

Mileage—– (approx…)

Manual mode- 23.6 km per liter

Easy Shift- 21.9 km per liter

Price—— 2, 89,000/- (Ex-showroom Cochin)

The most beneficial part is the price. You don’t get an automatic car for a price lower than this one. It also boasts of height and space and when this combines with the AMT gearbox, fear not friends- You’ve got a great city car in front of you.

With Honda Jazz, life is never too much!!!

Excerpts from an exclusive test drive of third generation Honda Jazz…. Among the new launch models of 2015, Honda Jazz was the highlight without any doubt and for good reasons. Expectations crossed the boundaries for this model. Ever since its ramp walk in the AUTO EXPO, Jazz had been expected to make its debut in India early this year, but somehow it didn’t happen till this date. Rumors are that Jazz would be officially introduced by the end of this month. But the next gen Jazz have already been launched in the world market. A small report on the revamped Jazz for the avid lovers of the model…

Design

2001 was the year which saw the beginning of the Jazz’s world tour. But Indians had to wait till 2009 to witness its entry into the local market and that too the second generation. Statistics say that, since its inception till 2013, about five million units have been sold all over world.

The gates are open now for the third gen Jazz to follow the predecessor’s footsteps. All you need is one look at the design and you realize that it is going to create a wave in the auto industry. Jazz inherits the design theme from City. The design is brimming with juvenility. Jazz had bid goodbye to the fluidic old design. Now, Honda has chipped in a cutting edge design which ornate sharp lines and edges. Headlights which moves up to the sides, wide grille, resembles the City. The chrome lining finds its niche below the grille, which also boasts the Honda logo. The new bumper seems muscular. The big air dam sports a honeycomb mesh grille. This along with the fog lamps molds a sporty character out of Jazz.

The third gen Jazz is born on a new platform. 27% of the body parts are made from hard but low weighing steel. The new Jazz is 95mm longer than the old. Moreover, wheel base has been increased by 30mm. The boot capacity sums up to 363 liters and it becomes 884 liters with the back seat folded. Rear bumper adorned with Fox air vent, chrome bar in the tailgate, tail lamps which gives a 3D feel and the roof spoilers- man the rear of Jazz is sporty, you bet on your head!!! The tailgate design which goes towards the bumper, looks good. It is also easy to load and unload luggage. Jazz boasts 15 inch wheels.

Interiors

Black interiors blended with silver inserts makes it feel sporty in the insides too. Interiors are primarily made up of hard plastic. The enhancement to the wheel base sure has its merits when it comes to the spacious interiors. More divergence can be seen inside, when compared to the old Jazz. Most parts are similar to the new City. And there is no need for introducing the quality and level of City. The meter console, dials, 5 inch touch screens makes it appear like City. Steering wheel consists of cruise and audio controls. Paddle shifts are also available in high end variants which can be expected in the Indian versions also. When it comes to storage space and head room, Jazz is staggeringly lavish. A slight disappointment is the absence of rear AC vent.

Engine

The engine used for test drive was 1.5 liter i-VTEC. It comes with a seven step CVT transmission. The maximum power is 117ps and torque about 146nm. The higher NVH standard proves that the engine is highly refined. Once the windows are closed, there is hardly any engine sound or other outer sounds coming inside. Indian version would be having the new generation ‘Earth dreams’ engine. As of now, Honda plans to launch three variants- 1.2 liter i-VTEC (petrol), 1.5 liter i-DTEC diesel (found in Amaze) and the more powerful 1.5 liter i-VTEC petrol engine. It will also have 5 speed CVT gear box.

Safety

Honda has provided the new Jazz with 6 air bags for the high end S Plus variant. Besides the air bag, Jazz also has Electronic Stability Program, Hill Start Assist, ABS and EBD features for ensuring adequate safety for the passengers. The low end variants consists of 2 air bags.

The Bottom Line

Honda has taken special care to meet the needs of the young generation. It is evidently visible in the third generation Jazz with oodles of features like sporty design, high build quality, performance and other thrilling facilities. The Indian version will see a slight difference in the engine and safety features. The difference in engine (as found in Amaze and Brio) can be attributed to the steps taken for reducing the price. Keeping that in mind, lower price, great design and high build quality will definitely be the key points to look for. To the mixture, when we add the brand image and reliability of Honda, Jazz will be a massive hit. For those who wish to own a stylish hatchback, wait till Jazz arrives. You can bet you won’t regret.