Saturday, July 30, 2011

First mangosteen experience

One day my hubby came back from work with a bag of strange looking fruits. Apparently someone at the store gave him a taste of it, and he loved it and wanted me to taste it as well (thanks hon!!). From its exterior, it looked like some kind of genetically programmed vegetable. It looked half between baby eggplant and persimmon.

The inside also looked strange (kind of looked like a whole bunch of lychees). I had a bite, and to my surprise it was just so yummy!

At that time, we didn't know what it was, so I took a picture and posted on FB asking my Indian friends what it was. Immediately I got an answer saying it was "the" mangosteen!! I knew the fruit by name, but I never spent time to do a search to actually check what it looks like. I would certainly never have imagined that "the" mangosteen looked like that. Also I would never have imagined that I could actually eat it, as in Japan mangosteens are so expensive and rare. One mangosteen can cost up to 500 yen a piece (a little over $6). Here in India, my hubby doesn't remember, but I am sure they are much cheaper.

Although I was a bit afraid of trying different kinds of fruit after the incident with lovely custard apples, I think I have become a big fan of mangosteen! Mangosteen is also called "the queen of fruit", and it indeed looks like a pretty queen protected carefully in a thick rind, which is very very bitter btw (yep, I tried).

Sunday, July 24, 2011


I noticed more about the difference in English words here in India. The other day, when I asked our maid lady to go shopping for us to buy some green peppers (among other stuff of course), she asked me whether I wanted the one in a container or in a bag. Hmmm, I never knew that the green peppers came in a container, so I told her that I don't need a bagful of green peppers but probably two or three individual ones. Then she asked me the same question saying "no maaaam, it comes in a bag or container. Which one do you want?"  So I said, "well, if you cannot find the individual peppers, you can get a bag full. But last time I went to the vegetable section of the store, they were selling the individual peppers."  I could tell that she was puzzled. She asked me "vegetable section?"  I had a left of green peppers in our frig, so I showed it to her finally. And, she said "Oh, you meant capsicums."  HA??? Yep, they call the green peppers capsicums here. Apparently she thought I was asking for some ground pepper. Ah, yeah, they do come in a bag or container. :)

At work, too, I noticed some strange expressions like "I will mark you." HA? You gonna mark me??  It meant "I will cc you". Goooood.... :-)  And when I asked where to meet in the office, the person told me "let's meet near the cabin."  Wow, I didn't know you had a cabin for the meetings in the office. But apparently it just meant an individual office room. Boy... It does get really confusing.

My hubby who started to call Indian English Englindian found this great site for other Indian-specific English words. I should go one by one and learn how to speak like an Indian! 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Why things happen all at once?

I have been updating my Japanese blog more often than this one, and it is true that I started to wonder if I needed to maintain two blogs. IF ONLY Google Translate were a little tiny bit functional for J to E translation, I would immediately close this one and focus on the Japanese one, but I will keep this one going for my English-speaking friends for the time being.

So... it has been a while. Why? Well, I started to get really busy. First, right after coming back from Japan, I started to get sick. Sicker in the stomach than I have ever experienced in my life. It got really worse this past weekend (couldn't even eat for a while), but all along I had a bad headache and a very tired feeling. Hence, my productivity went down significantly. Later after talking to some local people, we suspected it was due to the cracked custard fruit that only I ate (not my hubby who was just fine).

Secondly, I started to get engaged in a mini project. I have been working 3-5 hrs a day for the last 10 days or so. I get up in the morning, do the laundry, feed my hubby and myself some breakfast, hang our laundry outside, get ready,  go to work, go shopping for dinner, come back, do more admin stuff in between my work, cook dinner, clean up, and go to bed..... :(

Third, there have been so many things that I need to take care of still around the house like installing the water purifier, blinds and curtains, etc. Not sure what it is, but the business here is never to "push" and rather to "stall". So, for instance, about 2 months ago, we started to ask a couple of stores/vendors to come and measure our windows so that we can install the blinds and curtains. They came and measured finally after waiting for about a week, but guess what? That was nothing compared to what I would be experiencing after that.  One company gave me the estimate right away, but that was it. No follow-up calls or anything. The other company didn't even bother sending us an estimate.  Strange... right? If you actually spent some time to measure the windows, normally you would want to send the estimate and get the business. So... this project of installing the blinds are still ongoing after 2 months, believe it or not. We have not had a single blind installed yet after me going to the store several times, getting the measurements done several times, and calling them to come and install several times. :(

Anyway, lots of admin work for sure. I also had to figure out how to pay the utility bills. Unlike US or Japan, you have to physically go to a specific place to pay the bills in person. Thanks to our landlord to kindly sharing the detailed information of how we pay. A new place opened up inside BDA near our house, so I asked our driver today to take me there to pay the bills (actually one of them is about a month old, but fortunately they didn't stop the service!).

But the good news is that we finally found a great person to take care things around the house. Since I sometimes work at home in the morning, I asked her to come in the afternoon only for 3-4 hours a day. I still do the laundry, cooking, and cleaning after dinner, but the rest has been pretty much taken care by her. I suspect she is new to this "maid" business, so at the beginning I had to instruct her quite a bit, but she is a quick learner, and I am very happy with her. And it was good to find her during this hectic days.

Now we heard that our sea shipped stuff will be delivered this coming Saturday! Exciting, but it is true that everything happens all at once :-(

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mimicing Japanese cooking in Bangalore - Okonomiyaki

I brought as many Japanese ingredients (mostly dried foods) as I could pack into my "small" suitcase (according to my hubby, it is not "small" but I have to insist it was "small") from Japan recently. But you can actually mimic Japanese cooking by using only the stuff you can get here in Bangalore.

One of them is the dish called "Okonomiyaki." "O" is an honorable prefix, "konomi" means "what you like", and "yaki" means "bake or grill." Basically it is a Japanese style pancake (not a sweet kind though) with whatever the ingredients you like in it.

The basic ingredients for Okonomiyaki are: flour, egg, cabbage, and water. Yep that's it! The most important thing, however, is the sauce, and typically in Japan it comes in an ready-to-use bottle or tube. Here, you can prepare it by mixing the worcestershire sauce (1 table spoon), ketchup (1 table spoon), honey (1 tea spoon), and oyster sauce (1 tea spoon).

In addition to the basic ingredients, you can mix the batter with shrimp, squid, very thinly sliced pork (which you cannot probably get that easily here), or vegetables like scallion, corn, or mushrooms, etc. I also put cheese most of the time, as my hubby loves it.

Here is how you make it:
1) Slice or mince cabbage leaves (you will need at least 1/2 head of cabbage, and make sure it is well dried out)
2) Slice any veggies if you want to add them
3) If you want to mix shrimp or squid, cook them lightly in advance as well (pat them dry)
4) Mix 1 cup of flour (you can also add 1 tea spoon of baking powder if you have it, but if not don't worry about it) with approx. 1 cup of water. You want to make sure that the batter has the consistency of pancake (not too think but not too loose). Add water as you like to get the right consistency. Mix well.
5) Sprinkle some salt and pepper (if you happen to have some Japanese "dashi no moto", which I doubt, put it in instead).
6) Add sliced cabbage and egg to the mixture. Mix well with a big spoon.
7) Add other ingredients. Btw, we also put "tenkasu" which is a deep-fried flour batter. You can get these in a bag in Japan, but here you just have to make it if you really want to put it into Okonomiyaki. So, I made a quick Okura tempura before making the Okonomiyaki and made tenkasu out of it. But, of course you can skip this.
8) Once everything is mixed, heat up the large frying pan, drizzle oil, and dump the mixture into the pan (lower the heat to low to medium). Spread the batter into approx. 2cm thickness.
9) Bake one side until it is done and turn it over and bake the other side (I usually do 8 mins on one side and 5 mins on the other, and I may turn it over again and bake a little bit more as needed).
10) Place Okonomiyaki on the plate, paint the sauce on top of it, put some mayonnaise, and sprinkle some Katsuobushi (if you happened to have it, which I doubt), and you are ready to eat!

Btw, the mayo here tastes different. Actually mayo in the US tastes much different than the mayo in Japan as well. For Okonomiyaki, I like Japanese mayo, which you can make by adding some lemon or lime juice with a pinch of salt into the Indian mayo. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Toit Bar & Restaurant in Indiranagar, Bangalore

Food: ★★☆☆☆
Ambience: ★★★★☆
Service: ★★★☆☆
So... this is not really the place I would recommend to eat out, but the building has its own charm and is a great place to hang out with your friends to have a couple of beers (and the wine wasn't bad, either!).  We were there around 8;30pm, and the place was pretty packed. The downside is that there are some huge party groups and boy... they are very noisy. So, if you can tolerate the noise, go for it. They also have their own brewery (not yet ready but will be at the end of July they said), so maybe you can check it after August.

Monday, July 11, 2011

First Hookah experience in my life in Bangalore!

I missed the chance to experience Hookah when I visited Dubai last December, and I have been wanting to try it. Guess what? Hookah is pretty popular around here in Bangalore as well. And, according to the wiki, the initial trace of Hookah has been found not in an Arabic country but in the northwestern part of India!

The other day was a gathering of my hubby's college alumni here in Bangalore, and I piggy backed on him to enjoy a couple glasses of wine at the sky bar in downtown Bangalore. And, there it was! Hooka! So we tried :D

Btw, I HATE cigarettes. Well, I smoked for about 3 years when I was working in Tokyo (approx. 20 years ago), but ever since then I have been avoiding (or more like hating) smoking. In fact, I get some kind of allergic reaction when I am around lots of smoke. So, I was a bit worried that I may not enjoy it after all, but hey you need to try new things, right?

Hookah comes in a whole bunch of different flavors. We chose blackberry, and it was the right selection! The smoke was not as strong as cigarettes (maybe 70% lighter). You enjoy the aroma and flavor and that's it. You breathe in and breathe out - just like when you do yoga :-)  The whole experience was GREAT. If you haven't tried Hookah, I would highly suggest trying it at least once even if you don't smoke cigarettes.

Btw, I also enjoyed the conversation with my hubby's almuni folks. They gave us all kinds of tips on India. Fun to talk with someone who came back to India after exploring the western culture. It was also fun to see my hubby who graduated in the early 1970's talking with folks who just went to the same (but probably much different) school more recently. Well, my hubby was also very young when he went to college (he is one of these genius kids in the US who skipped grades, and he was out of college at the age of 19), so the whole experience he had back then must had been a lot different. Anyway, it was lots of fun!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A quick visit back to Japan

Just got back from a 10-day trip to Japan (thanks to my hubby and Babu for picking me up so late at the airport!).

Japan was just great as usual despite the post-311 anxiety (they are now calling the March 11th earthquake as "three-one-one") and incredible humidity and high temperatures (it was above 35C degree almost every day while I was there!!). People are still concerned about the nuclear plants and also have to conserve energy and thus limit the usage of air conditioners (in that heatwave!), but 311 definitely restored positive energy in Japan. Oh btw, all my Japanese friends that I met were flabbergasted when I told them how Bangalore was much cooler than Japan. And yep, it is much much cooler.

Anyway, after living in India for 2 months, I appreciated the modern infrastructure in Japan. Sorry India, but I know you know, and I also know that you are on top of it by looking at your great "12th 5 Year Plan." Way to go India! I also enjoyed the variety of food, and most of all the clean sidewalks and streets in Japan.

Bangalore is fairly great in terms of food variety, but still you can only get certain kinds of western food (mostly Italian) and Chinese food. Japanese food, such as Sushi, is hard to come by in this town as well as other goodies like all kinds of noodle dishes (ramen, udon, soba), Don-dishes (katsudon, oyakodon, unadon), tempura, or any other basic Japanese food. I explored 2.5 Japanese restaurants here in Bangalore so far. Why 2.5? Because the one called "Shiro" in UB City sounded Japanese but was not at all Japanese except that they did have not-so-fantastic-sushi. The other two were authentic, but yet there is a limit to the ingredients they can get here, especially sake. So, I was happy to explore all kinds of food in Japan.