Slow roasted cherry tomato spirelli pasta salad

For new years' eve wanted to try something new and chose the slow roasted cherry tomato pasta salad from Kalyn's kitchen. I had all the ingredients for this and started it right away.

zucchini - 1 whole slit into thin long pieces.
cubed yellow pepper - 1/4 cup .
cherry tomatoes: 10
basil  - 2 tea spoons
oregano - 1 tea spoon
celery leaves - 1 tea spoon
garlic - 1 big clove/1 tea spoon crushed 
olive oil - 1/2 cup
cooked pasta - 3 cups
cheese - 1 cup (I used Emmental cheese)
pepper - 2 tea spoons
honey - 1 tea spoon
Preheat oven to 130 C for 20 minutes.
Prepare the marinade by mixing Olive oil , oregano and Basil.
wash and cut cherry tomatoes into half and mix with the marinade.
I do not have a cookie tray here so used a wide baking sheet folded the edges, more like box, just to contain any cooking juice that would ooze out. Grease the baking sheet with oil and place the tomatoes cut side down one by one , Roughly spread garlic on top. Place it in the oven for around a total time of 6 hours. Let the remaining marinade remain in the bowl.
I started making this very late in the afternoon, around 3 PM and I wanted this ready by 9 PM for dinner. So after 4 hours of cooking(at 7 PM), I increased the temperature to 175 C for about 10 minutes and then reverted back. At 8 PM I saw that skin was all dry and the little juices which had come out were turning blackish(which is very normal). at this point I turned the tomatoes and roasted for another one hour. 

- Slit Zucchini, apply marinade and then roast it on the skillet till it gets slight brown color at random places. turn it around to get the same effect on the other side. now dice them into cubes and add it to the bowl with the leftover marinade.
- Toss the yellow ball pepper on the skillet for around 2-3 minutes and add it to the marinade bowl.
-cook pasta as per directions and drain.
- Add cooked pasta, cheese and pepper into the marinade bowl.
- once the cherry tomatoes are done, remove from the oven, cut each into 4 pieces and add to the bowl and mix well.
I added a tea spoon of honey to get a sweet tinge though would have preferred pineapple.

Eve of 2011

Another year has passed by and the same feeling prevails every new years eve. I am an year older! Definitely cannot say have grown wiser as I am in as much of a confusion as I was in 1999. The state of mind then and now is almost similar in terms of having to choose a career,interests,love,life, marriage, friendship and promises. It is hard to decide when you are not clear of what you want and you can overcome that by only prioritising. But along with prioritization which your mind does your heart also should be in sync. somehow they were never in sync for me through out I guess. And to complicate matters I take resolutions which hardly last a month.
To evade these thoughts from diseminating further I am cooking a three course meal.
Menu for 2011 Eve
1. Mushroom cheese fry
2. Spirelli pasta cheese salad with slow dried chery tomato and yellow ball peppers
3. Banana nut cake with vanilla and chocolate pudding layers
Recipe in other blog
all accompanied with Belgian Draught and fruit infused beer.
Hope this year I will be able to get both my head and heart in sync and do things which will not make me regret the next year.

Musings - I

How is it that 'Bloody Mary'  still appears in the bar-menu without being offensive to neither the queen nor any  community?

Guide to Indians coming to Brussels - Part I

Living in a country where English is not the widely spoken language, can be intimidating at times.  The initial settlement time can be quite long. Unlike the US and UK where atleast 2 Indians can be pointed out on any street at any given time, in Belgium it is not common. Not that it matters even if you locate Asians because no smiles are exchanged except for some cold second glances.
1.       Weather:
They say Belgium weather is ‘mild’. I wouldn’t classify it as mild for one reason that the weather here is never predictable and this winter was quite harsh on us. Even weather forecast you can see predictions only for 3 days ahead. You cannot plan for a weekend trip a week in advance, based on the weather. Apparently in Belgium it should not snow but due to global warming the country is facing colder winters.
We have seen so far the coldest is -10 C during November/December. Snow is random followed by rain.
2.       Travel
After arriving at the airport you can either take a taxi, train or bus to reach the city. Taxi can cost you 30-40 € to reach the city centre. Train is 5 € from city to Rogier, a station in north of Brussels capital region. Once you reach Rogier you can take the metro to any other place. Bus connects the airport and the various parts of the city. We live in Schuman, where you can see many Europe union buildings. The following buses connect to the airport from here.
Bus 12: Express with very few stops
Bus 21: airport to Luxembourg station via Schuman.
a.       Train: trains are outgoing railway connections and they are there in the following stations. All Train stations are maintained by SNCB. Sometimes the Metro Stations and the train stations are in the same underground holes like in Schuman.  The Luxembourg station is also called as ‘Luxembourg’ so initially it can be confusing with the country Luxembourg. The tickets are not sold everywhere. I have seen them only in grand central station. Once you get the ticket, make sure you write the from and to places of travel along with the date as soon as you board the train. Ticket checking is random and you can get fined if you have not written the travel details on it.
                             i.      Schuman             - Train and Metro in same place
                            ii.      Grand Centrale - Train and Metro are separate but both are very close.
                            iii.      Gare du Midi      - Train and Metro
                            iv.      Rogier                  -  Train and Metro in the same place.
                            v.      Luxembourg      - Only Train. The closest station to this place is Troone.
b.    Metro: There are Metro rails which run around the Brussels City. They are maintained by STIB. There are kiosks and vending machines in every underground where you can buy travel cards of various denominations like one time travel, 5 jumps , 10 jumps. Each time you travel you have to swipe the card at the entry points and it is valid for an hour. Some stations like Rogier are modern and to enter or exit out of the station you need to swipe the card else you can get stranded there. There is random checking here too.
c.    Trams: Trams run along the roads again maintained by STIB. The Metro Travel card works here.
d.    Bus : They are maintained by STIB. The Metro Travel card works here too. The timings of the bus is also published at the bus stops. You can pay by cash for a single trip in the bus(driver collects them). Inside the bus there is a monitor which shows the current and coming up stations. When the stop of your travel destination is the next stop then don’t forget to press the blue button found on the handle rods. Once you press the button a light near the exit door is lighted and this tells the driver to stop at the coming bus stop. Sometimes they will not stop at all if the button is not pressed.
e.   Cycles: There are cycle kiosks ‘VILLO’at some specific places where you can pay and chose to ride around the city. Once done you can leave the cycle at the kiosks.
3.       Housing/Accomodation: you can contact estate agents to show you the house and provide him/her with the specifications.  It is always good to take a fully furnished apartment/house and have a checklist of items you would definitely need.  Alternatively you can check for houses on websites( as well. If you just walk around in the city, you can find pamphlets stuck on walls reading ‘A Louer’ and ‘A Vendre’ which means ‘For rent’ and ‘For sale’ respectively. There will be contact information on the pamphlet and you can call and choose to see the house as well.  Good thing is the agents are paid by the owner so you do not have to pay them anything. One month rent is paid as booking and 2 months advance is deposited at the bank as guarantee. This will be in the bank and when you are leaving the house, your owner needs to sign to release the amount.
4.      Residence permit: Within one week of landing in Belgium you need to find a house, make the house agreement and go to the commune (based on the location of your house) and register there. List of documents are published on the Brussel website.
Communes are open on weekdays between 8 to 12 pm only and there is a huge queue to take the token. So people go early morning like 7 AM and stand in line though the window for token opens only at 8 AM. Once you get the token, you are called serial number wise for giving the documents and registering.  You will get an acknowledgement letter on day 1. Next there will be a police verification at your residence. If you are there at home when the police comes then that is easy, else either they will leave a note for you to come to the police station or check with your neighbours. Or sometimes without verification the report is sent to the Commune. Once commune receives this report they send a letter to us at our residence to visit the commune at the specified appointment time. You have to go there and again take token and you might be questioned about your stay etc and if all is well you will get the card based on how much cash you have. To get the card within one day, you have to shell out 200/- and if you do not choose to pay anything then you might get the card in another month’s time. The whole process end to end can take 2- 3 months.
5.     Grocery store
a.    Garam Masala : this is in Ixelles  and you get almost all Indian groceries, masala and vegetables here. Maggi, south Indian sona massorie rice, bitter gourd, all kinds of masala and spice powders, puttu powder, Dosa mix etc.  Almost all the pulses and masala packets are of the same brand – a lady wearing a red veil and grinding pulses with the grindingstone. ‘Chakki peesing’ J.
b.    Green Pepper:  this is also in Ixelles and close to the first shop.
c.    Compte De Flandre : this is a metro station, 3 stations to the west of Grand Centrale station. (grand central > Debrockere > St Catherine > compte De Flandre). Ask anyone for the Fortis bank and just opposite to this there is a store where you get all Indian/pakistan stuff. There are other shops in the same street where you get the roling pin, cutlery, Indian kadai and tawa.
d.    Alimentation general stores: they are found at every corner and they too keep Indian Masalas and stuff which are priced highly.
6.       Other household items and groceries
a.    Colruyt : is the cheapest  good store with fewer branches.
b.    IKEA : there are two stores: one in zaventem(East of Brussels) and one in Ceria(south west of Brussels)
c.    DELHAIZE : found almost everywhere.
d.    GB Carrefour and Carrefour express : found almost everywhere.
e.    Lidl : at Ixellles is also very cheap.
7.        Prayer place
a.    Centre for Bhatki Yoga:  Rue Royale 185, 2nd floor, Brussels
This place is somebody’s house where they do bhajans and devotional reading on saturday afternoons only.
b.   Radhadesh : Ch√Ęteau de Petite Somme,6940 Durbuy (Septon) 
8.      Chocolates
       You get lots of varieties of chocolates. Neuhaus and Leonidas stores are there almost there everywhere. Out of these known brands, Leonidas is comparatively cheaper. Cote d’or chocolates are found in most of the general stores.
For part II click here 
Useful Links:

Zucchini Bread

All purpose flour  - 2 cups (150 grams)
Instant yeast      - half sachet  (6 grams)
Sugar – 2 tea spoons
Salt – 1 tea spoon
Olive oil  - 4 table spoons
Grated zucchini 1 cup)
Butter –unsalted  
Egg – 1
Milk – 2 tblspoon
In a bowl mix flour, yeast , salt and sugar. Add zucchini and egg into this mixture and mix it up until they bind together. Add more flour if required and knead the dough  for 10-12 minutes. It should be softer than the chapathi/roti dough. Now apply oil on all the sides of a big bowl and transfer the dough into it. Leave it covered for an hour. Remove the raised dough from the bowl and mould again and transfer to a greased baking tray. Let it rest  for 30 minutes. The dough raises again and is doubled in volume. Place the baking tray in the middle rack of a preheated oven for about 30 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven, apply butter on top and place it back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
I served it with tomato chutney for breakfast.

The electric oven I have here has the temperature knob in celcius and the baking type knob has three indicators. Heat from bottom only,  Heat from both top and bottom , heat from top only /broiler. I kept it pointing to heat from both top and bottom.

Preheat time: 175 C for 10 minutes  
Bake time: 175 degrees for 30 minutes + 10 minutes.

Next time I will add garlic and chilli flakes to this just to give a punch.
I referred to the below links for baking this bread

Mushroom cheese roast

Mushroom : 100 gms
Rice flour : 2 tea spoons
Fine semolina(Bombay Rava): 4 tbl spoons
Chilli powder: 1 tbl spoon
Salt to taste.
Grated Cheese – ( I used the leftover mixed pasta cheese)
Slit mushrooms into half apply salt and leave it aside for a while. Mix all the other ingredients and a pinch of salt and roll the mushrooms on this dry batter. Heat a pan and drizzle oil and place the mushrooms . We are going to toast mushrooms only once on each side. Once it is slightly brownish on one side, turn it around and now make clusters of mushrooms i.e just place 4-5 mushrooms close to each other and then top it up with the grated cheese. Once the cheese melts pan out each cluster. Serve hot. It is just DELICIOUS.
Notes: Make sure that the while frying the heat should medium for both the sides. If you keep it very low then it will take longer to cook mushrooms and meanwhile they become soggy. If you keep it at high flame then it will get charred.

cake or bake?

I always thought baking a cake at home was very difficult task because of the effort that goes in while making the batter. You have to whisk the batter thoroughly if you want a fluffy bread cake. When I was a kid I loved the plain cake which mom would make it at home in a pressure cooker. We did not own a microwave nor did we have a blender. So mom would knead and mix the batter briskly with her fingers. She never liked cakes because she was a vegetarian and she hated the smell of egg cooking. However MOMs are MOMs. If you tell her that you want a pinafore dress just like what Kajol wears in Dilwale Dulhaniya le Jaayenge then no matter what you do to pursue her she will just not buy you one. If you tell her that you want a piece of cake just like they pile up in the gass counters of a bakery then she will not buy you that either instead she will make it at home for you. And hence she made cake just for me. Soft fluffy plain yellow cake with a thin light brownish crust at the bottom, hidden inside the air vents were mixed nuts and raisins.
When I started working one of the first things I bought for myself was a microwave oven with grill convection all in one oven. The day I got the microwave installation done I went through the entire manual and the recipe booklet and headed right to the stores to get ingredients for baking a cake. I mixed the batter and whipped it and put it in the big flat plate like microwave safe dish and all i got was a flat tasty crispy cookie. The batter had not risen either because the baking powder did not react well or because the microwave was not right. I’m generally categorized by people as ‘Typical Arien’ and I do live up to the attitude they expect me to wear all the time ‘I never do mistakes’. :) Well after that microwave was used just for reheating for almost a year and later I actually messed with the batter several times and made better cakes.
When I landed in Brussels a month back with all the hours of the day just for myself and a builtin oven at my disposal, the craving to bake had gotten back. Every day I have a project to finish ..errrrr or let’s rephrase it. every day i have a project to START. Projects like going for long walks without any particular direction in mind and then heading back home OR like going to the park and sketching whatever appeals me OR Cleaning the house OR baking projects. But baking projects was a double challenge because in Belgium, French and dutch are dominant languages and all hoardings, address, ingredients, usage everything is in those two languages and in some cases German too. Only on some imported goods you can see some rumblings in English. Even at the stores if you ask someone to translate they give blank stares. So I have to do my homework before going to the super market to buy anything. Inspite of the homework I end up getting lost in those counters full of ‘options’ I get for one single item. I wasn't sure of what I would end up with if at all I followed a recipe from a US/UK blog for baking cake using the products available here which are described only in french... a French SHO(r)T Bread ? (considering my earlier experiences of cake turned cookie, here a cake can turn into a short bread too), and probably a must visit to either a dentist or a pathologist after trying to devour it. So I decided not to bake cake bake pastas instead.
I made baked pasta one day with spirellis and vegetable lasagne the next day. my first attempt at baked pasta and it was appreciated very well by V. When there is cheese at home I cannot think of anything else but recipes with cheese. I had fresh mushrooms and I wanted cheese. So made this mushroom cheese fry Indian style.
Mushroom : 100 gms
Rice flour : 3 tbl spoons
Fine semolina(Bombay Rava): 2 tbl spoons
Chilli powder: 1 tbl spoon
Salt to taste.
Grated Cheese – ( I used the mix pasta cheese)
Slit mushrooms into half apply salt and leave it aside for a while. It leaves out water. Mix all the other ingredients and a pinch of salt and roll the mushrooms on this dry batter. Heat a pan and drizzle oil and place the mushrooms . We are going to toast mushrooms only once on each side. Once it is slightly brownish on one side, turn it around and now i make clusters of mushrooms i.e just place 4-5 mushrooms close to each other and then top it up with the grated cheese. Once the cheese melts pan out each cluster. Serve hot. It is just DELICIOUS.
Notes: Make sure that the while frying the heat should medium for both the sides. If you keep it very low then it will take longer to cook mushrooms and meanwhile they become soggy. If you keep it at high flame then it will get charred.
I loved my experiences with pasta, baking and cheese. Here is a pic of the same. presentation is baaaaaad and rough but all is maaaf for the taste.

Au Revoir...


Radio was only in kannada, I presumed, when I was a small kid. My dad is a radio fan. He has a portable radio which he took everywhere and played it all the time . On the bathroom window sill while he is shaving.below a chair in the balcony while he is scanning the newspaper in minute prints . on an uncovered pillar on the terrace with the antenna of the radio closer to the rod . while there is a power cut and the family would trek the terrace for a moonlight dinner. Night at bedtime hindustani vocals or classical or instruments would be played until all of us are snoring and mom would get angry and turn it off to put a stop to her tossing and turning to get sleep. Early morning the day would start with sanskrit news and then while I throw my tantrums for brushing my teeth kannada news would be on to mellow down my mom's voice . I would stomp my feet and run around the house avoiding a boring upma being stuffed in my mouth while kannada- chitrageetegalu would be on the background giving the rhythm to my mom's chase.
In a smaller town life is so simple. You don’t have to pack lunch and have cold stale food instead you can run back home sit on your mom's lap and get fed . The only hitch is that you will have to eat faster than you can ever do and if you cannot you will have to gulp it down else it will keep piling in your mouth. Trust me mom's hand never stops when on something , until the task is finished. It keeps the pace and rhythm and keeps coming at you periodically and no breaks are ever entertained. The quantity is not reduced if you say you are not hungry but if you are hungry you will get double more than what you have asked for and in the end again the quantity doesn’t reduce. the feeling is same. So the best policy is to get stuffed according to their estimation and either munch a snack after that or the body itself would throw up the excess food. I preferred the latter because if you ask for snack chances are that either you might not get it at all or that
My dad's office and my school were pretty close by and the lunch break timings were same. Hence my dad would pick me up from school and we would have lunch together while the radio was giving out the last bits of the noon-news. Kannada chitrageetegalu would follow till 2 PM during which a family siesta was scheduled. I would squeeze in between the wall and dad near to the radio , lean my legs on the wall , watch the country flags poster, listen to Dr.Rajkumar or SP Balasubramaniam and doze off. That’s how I know most of the kannada songs only and not a single movie for which these songs were pictured.
When I was in Pre university classes watching television was not encouraged and moreover cable TV was disconnected only DD was available. I could not sneak in the foyer to watch TV as both of them would be there. And the sound from the tv was too tempting to concentrate on studies. I have heard through most of the television serials and imagined it and I m updated. Radio for some reason was not used much by my dad in the evenings. That was the trigger point for me to start listening to the radio on my own. I would tune into VivdhBharati to listen to Hello farmaish, pitaara , Jaimala , Bhule Bisre Geet, Hawa Mahal , Bioscope ki Baatein. I would listen to the RJs talking to their pyare Shrota- mitr throughout the evening . Only first few days I kept tuning and re-tuning to get the right signal and with a hope to listen to songs of new movies. However that interest died down as the backlog of things to do at school increased and I started enjoying whatever came on radio. Later on I was so used to the radio that I could study only if there was radio even though I did not listen to what was playing, it had to be there. It would help me keep my concentration on the subject and also cut me out from the rest of the world. This is again my dad's thought and it worked very well for me.
Travel is a part of work life and very few are lucky for whom it isn't. the routine grind of setting the alarm and snoozing it several times before the dawn breaks on you is so very usual. The only thing I would look forward to was to sit in the bus and listen to the radio and take the much needed nap before I reached the work place. I remember on 91.1. they had this amazing RJs called Chaitanya with an amazingly mature, calm, authoritative voice and it was a treat to listen to him. And listening to RJ Vasanthi was like listening to your grandmom stories the stories that take you to a different world just like how the movie Avatar did with those 3D glasses.
Somehow the radio channel wars had begun and just like how "Mumbai-kars"got the Amchi-Mumbai fever, kannada fever was spreading and all channels we tuned into played only kannada songs. Not that I don’t like them but I knew only those songs which I had listened to in my parents room. And I had sleepless travel to work place.
Phew! Just in time when the topics to discuss in the carpool had died down RadioCity comes up with 'one song only once per day' which became an instant hit with my fellow carpoolers. Every old song they played it would take us back in time and we would discuss about the movie and its whole cast. All our memories are so off that nothing strikes and we do google it to find out and share the information. lets see how well you remember :the song goes like this "Chori chori jab nazarein mili..." Bobby Deol and a flop heroine -Neha starred in this movie. whats the name of the movie? ... Guess... ? it is NOT Barsat. what is it? I'm yet to google it..! :)
3Rs : nothing beats listening to Radio , Reading a book While raking a hot cup of tea. Yeah you can make it the 4Rs as well... add a bit of thrill and romance to the set up - Add Rain. :) .
even today whenever I tune into Vividh Bharati it brings back those memories of my school-friends, studies, Udupi,the then-famous songs - like songs from movie-Ishq, sweat-you know the humidity in Coastal areas, mosquitoes - Again humidity and rains, the time when I weighed lesser and could easily manage to squeeze in with my parents in a twin-bed, and it is precious.


Cannot seem to believe that time has just flown by. It is more than a year and there is not a single entry in my blog for year 2009. well, I have to pledge that I'll make sure that I blog at least one entry per quarter!
And this one is not counted for any quarter!!
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