Monthly Archives: January 2015

World Palate Recipes – Bruschetta with Home made Ricotta Cheese


World Palate Recipes – Bruschetta with Home Made Ricotta Cheese 

Italy is a gastronome’s delight! Regional diversity in food, traditional recipes passed from one generation to another and the sauces and herbs that lend flavour to few basic ingredients are the essentials of Italian cuisine. Move over Italian pizza, pasta and cheese. The secret’s lie in the countryside, local village inns and AgriTurrisimo places that serve authentic local food.

After picking fruits in Valtellina, in northern Italy, Sondiro valley (Fruit trail) people suggested we must try Pizzocheri. Have you ever heard of it? Well, we sat down to dinner in a charming old Lombardian châteaux characterized by low ceiling and brick walls. Pizzocheri is a flat ribbon-pasta made fresh with buck-wheat flour, cubed potatoes, local Cazera cheese and liberal addition of green herbs. Yum… al dente pasta in a rich creamy sauce, was very filling!

A packet of Pizzocheri pasta

A packet of Pizzocheri pasta

Nearby Lateria, cheese mart stocked chunks of Cazera and other assorted regional cheese. There are about 400 different types of cheese with Mozzarella, Parmesan, Cazera being most popular.

Staple dishes in the north include semolina, durum flour, buckwheat flour and rice. Whereas, southern Italy is home to pasta in tomato sauce and variety of couscous and vegetable soups, influenced by Greek and Roman neighbours. Swiss and German desserts are popular in the north, but food is more robust and peppered with Arabic and Mediterranean influence in southern Italy. They use plenty of figs, olives, tomatoes, grapes and lemon.

Freshly made pasta and salad

Freshly made pasta and salad

Here is a recipe for a simple, hearty antipasto (appetizer) often served with a glass of wine.

Bruschetta, or brusketta is a grilled bread topped with plump summer tomatoes and rubbed with olive oil. The origins may lie in the fact that Roman olive growers roasted bread to sample along with freshly pressed olive oil, bread being staple diet.

I’ve made fresh home-made Ricotta cheese (Indian Paneer) for a protein filled antipasto.

Bruschetta with Home-Made Ricotta cheese


6-8 slices of multi grain bread or French baguette

1 big ripe Tomato

4-5 black olives

Olive oil as desired

1/2 cup Ricotta cheese ( from super market or home-made)

Salt, herbs as desired

2 raw garlic cloves

Few leaves of Thyme or Parsley for garnish

Ingredients for Brushetta

Ingredients for Brushetta


Chop the tomato very finely. Put aside in bowl, draining much of the juice away. Chop olives finely. Cut thick slices of baguette or other multi-grain bread diagonally. (I used oven fresh home-made by hubby:)

Pre heat oven to 250 degrees for 10 mins. Place the slices on oven tray. Lightly brush them with olive oil and toast them for 5-10 mins. till lightly browned edges. Remove from oven. Rub a raw garlic clove on the toasts.

Place toasted bread on a plate. Drizzle more olive oil. Garnish with chopped tomato, olives, herbs, salt and generous topping of Ricotta cheese. Decorate with thyme or parsley. Store extra cheese in airtight container in fridge for 4-5 days. Serve warm.

A perfect, healthy afternoon snack. But, eat like the Italians! Bruschetta served with a glass of red Italian wine.

Bruschetta with Ricotta Cheese

Bruschetta with Ricotta Cheese

Do leave your tips and comments if you make this recipe. What toppings did you choose?



Behind the Smiling Faces of Siem Reap


Two years ago, finally we visited Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Ankor Wat temples with gigantic stone edifices and intricate temple carvings left us spellbound! But, it was the hustle bustle of tourists and locals, mingling in the marketplace, after dusk, that painted another picture. Of ‘real’ stories of Cambodian life.

It was the hope, struggle and cultural revival of Cambodians determined to rise back from the ruins…that left a mark in our hearts.

Entrance at Ankor temple complex

Entrance at Ankor temple complex

‘Let me take you to the Old Market, Phsar Chas’ suggested our Tuk-tuk driver, on return from Banteay Sri complex. ‘You can get a good, cheap massage for your tired legs’ he added.

Phsar means market, in Khmer. Sounded similar to bazar, isnt’ it? As Cambodian empire spread over South East Asia, trade and cultural ties with its neighbours influenced its language, food and traditions. Phsar, generally a semi covered market area, was a traditional shopping place for women. Wicker baskets in hand, Krama, a Khmer chequered scarf bundled on their head or tied around the waist, they set off on a market spree.

Siem Reap, Ankor Wat 156

Psar Chas, Old Market, is located between the Sivutha Boulevard and Pokhomber Avenue, next to the main river. It is open from dawn to dusk. The river end catered to the tourist selling mostly souvenir and craft items. It had a quiet, subdued atmosphere. Soft spoken women pleading tourists to buy. Ankle length sarong, modest hairdo, eating street food in plastic containers provided a peek into life.

The other side catered to locals. What a dramatic difference! Early morning electric atmosphere, haggling of prices, butchering fish, squids or meat and towing vegetable laden push carts would drown any visitor. Strange looking spiky dragon fruit, giant jackfruit, plump fleshy lychee fight for space between fried Tarantulas, frog legs in vinegar and snails in large basins. Ah! stalls laden with fresh condiments and spices, essentials of Khmer food were probably an Indian influence.

Pulses, grains and spices

Pulses, grains and spices

Pubs and hotels, dotted the area. Homes, once to nobles and officials, changed to cheap accomodation for the tourists. Tourism is key to economic growth.

Tuk -tuk - common mode of Cambodian transport

Boulevard shops at Psar Chas, Siem Reap


The popular transport : Tuk- tuk

Alighting from the Tuk-tuk, I took a moment to admire the historic building painted in white. Decorated with lattice windows and high archway, it was a blend of French and Siamese architecture.

Souvenir shops crammed into every inch of space. Silk cloth, paper lamps and scarves in bright colours: indigo,magenta, emerald-green and sun yellow. Little silver trinkets jingled and shined. Inexpensive jewellery and fake ruby stone hair pins, modelled after those worn by queens and apsaras dazzled in the pale light. Paintings on rice paper showed smiling faces of Avalokiteshwara and king SuryaVarman.

Today, many workshops and craft schools run by NGO’s and organisations help lift the people, revive Art.

Siem Reap, Ankor Wat 157

Young and old mothers, and children seemed part of the market community. Like in a ‘kampung’ , they shared daily stories. The market provided a perfect learning space for children, after school, to practice scant knowledge of English or maybe earn a little pocket-money.

‘Would you like paper lanterns? suggested a lady. Another rose from her stool, putting away her knitting yarn to show me Cambodian styled embroidered handbags with wooden handles. A girl, with a gentle smile, took my finger, leading me to her mother’s shop.

Who said a market tells no stories ? Just need an observant eye!

Siem Reap, Ankor Wat 159

Baby in hammock


Silk cloth and scarves

Silk cloth and scarves

From the 9th -13th century, Siem Reap was the Khmer capital, a flourishing grand era! Artists, painters, poets, writers, musicians, craftsmen thronged the palaces and plains. Ceramics, lacquerware, textiles, silver jewellery, masks, palace essentials were all made in Ankor. Today, lamented the shop lady ‘Cheap cotton, not silk , is used for hand bags.’

‘Our richness lies in our culture, not in money’ she smiled.

Colourful Silk souvenirs

Colourful silk and paper lamps

Masks, waist bands, hair pins and variety of Cambodian cultural souvenirs make Phasr Chas a ‘must’ on the tourist itinerary.

Head gear, costumes and masks for cultural performances

Head gear, costumes and masks for cultural performances

Conversing with a part-time teacher, who comes every weekend to shop for groceries and rice gave me a deeper understanding of cultural philosophy. She manages her friend’s shop, allowing her precious time to complete household chores.

Time was up. This was my bounty: red skin bananas, dry jack fruit chips, brown rice and… a local delight. Palm sugar candy wrapped in dry palm leaves that dot the countryside and need laborious preparation.

Need to fill your grocery basket?

Need to fill your grocery basket?

The teacher guided me to the neighbouring street. Was there more to discover?

Evening classes for young children were being conducted by local and foreign volunteers. They bring English books, maps and puzzles to engage young minds, breathing better life and ambience into their suvival. A healthy way of keeping them away from drugs and street fights and crowded tourist markets.

Just so much behind those smiling Cambodian faces!

Evening English classes on the street, Cambodia

Evening English classes on the street, Cambodia

Street school, Cambodia

Street school, Cambodia

What did you like about this narrative? Do you have a story about your travel to Siem Reap?

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2015) Please see copyright disclaimer.


Happy New Year 2015

Happy New Year 2015

                   To all my readers, fellow bloggers, FB friends

                                              and family.

 A very Happy New Year 2015. May it be filled with health, joy and love. May hope, faith and wisdom be your pillars of strength to plan your daily actions and thoughts.

Here is a toast to our health! A big ‘Thank you’ to my followers and readers. I await your voices and comments to make 2015 a better blogging year for me.

Health Juice: Green Mint juice and Red Pomegranate juice

Green Mint juice and Red Pomegranate juice

Red, green and gold are the festive colours of the season.These colours are reflected everywhere -in our homes and in malls, packaging of gifts and toys, food or table decor. And Nature adds its compliments too. Red Poinsettia, colourful Gerbera and gold Marigolds create for stunning garden borders. Find out what these colours say:

Red is a warm, positive colour. It exudes movement, energy, and strong emotions. It’s the colour of blood and love. It awakens the sleepy and fills the mind with powerful ideas.

Green is the colour of Earth – balance and harmony in Nature. It embodies fresh growth and renewed friendships and bonds with friends and family. 

Gold is a royal colour! Celebrate life every moment! Gold stands for wealth, elegance, maturity and finesse. It’s also known for spiritual uplifting and enlightenment. Remember gold waistbands worn by Buddhist monks?

                              Gold is the colour of the winner!

             Award a gold medal and celebrate your life everyday!                                  

Begin the New Year with rejuvenating colourful juices.                    

Red Apple Pomegranate Juice

The ruby-red arils (seeds) of Pomegranate are powerful antioxidants and known as a cure-all (diabetes, cholesterol, bowel cleanser, skin treatments and more…) Not only are they full with vitamins but, interesting Greek and Indian stories are woven around them too! Grown in the Middle East and the adjacent regions, pomegranates are used in cosmetic and medicinal uses. Enrich your body with the juice!

Festive juice :Pomegranate

Festivity and Pomegranate juice

Take 1 small cup of red arils (seeds) + 1/2 peeled and sliced red apple. Blend the apple first in a blender/juicer, add pomegranate and blend well again. Pour into glass. Decorate with few ruby-red arils. Serve immediately. (Add ice cubes in summer if you wish).

Green Mint and Green Apple Combo

Mint and green apple juice combo

Mint and green apple juice combo

Green – is the colour of Nature, new leaves and buds, that spring to life. Fresh green sprigs of mint, placed in the kitchen give a refreshing aroma. The rough, curly leaves need to plucked and washed well, then dried upon a towel. You can store them in an air tight box, if not using on same day. For longer storage: Place some on a plate and microwave them for few minutes, till dry and powdery. Crush them finely, let cool . Store. Dry mint can be used liberally on curries, roti and yoghurt drinks. 

Take 1/2 peeled green apple and put in blender. Add a few (8-10) washed mint leaves and 1/2 cup water. Blend again. If you want a punch of zest – add a 1/4 cm. of ginger (or ginger juice). Mix all together.

Take a glass, wet the rim. Dip in rock salt /table salt. Pour the blended juice into glass and stir. (Add ice cubes in summer, if you wish). Serve immediately.

For a touch of Gold – wake up to see the sunrise. Soak up its warmth.

Health juices: Mint and apple combo and pomegranate and apple juice

Health juices: Mint and apple combo and pomegranate and apple juice

Have a healthy, happy year ahead.

How did you begin your New Year ? Do you have any health tips to share? 

Do leave your comments, it makes the blog an interactive place. It gives me joy and inspiration to hear your voices.

A finale: Thanks dear sis, Shubhada, for this timely and apt sketch made for me.

Fruits of love: Drink to health.

Fruits of love: Drink to health.