Monday, 24 October 2016

Zucchini Apple Salad

The word Salad sounds boring to many. And then there are some i know who only survive on Salads, who make special Salad diet plans, not just for the purpose of diet or to lose weight but simply for the love of eating fresh. I myself was never a salad person, like i would never order a salad when at a cafe or restaurant. The reason also being, most of the "usual" restaurants here served only cucumber,tomato and onion as salad. Its off late that people are exposed to different types of salad ingredients and the sauces and dressings. Moreover, the easy availability of these fruits and vegetables has also helped a-once-termed-exotic-salad reach everyday menu in homes.

Cost factor : Buying broccoli, zucchini, baby corn, purple cabbage or even coloured peppers as everyday buy for a middle class person was not affordable a while back. But the same veggies are available at Farmer's market or wholesale markets these days, for nearly the same price as french beans or lady's finger. 

Exposure due to Internet :Social media and Google has also helped a lot of good salad recipes made available for women to try at home apart from just Garden Salad. There are so many good YouTube videos and blogs available showing easy, less time-consuming and tasty recipes of salads.

The love of trying something new : People these days are willing to experiment, have a taste of different cuisines and try different palates. This love and curiosity has upped Salad's position from "Oh, so boring" to "It looks delicious". Not to mention all the health benefits that eating any fresh vegetables or fruit provides us. So, all in all, it's a win-win situation that people are enjoying eating raw.

Last evening, this bug of "trying something new" bit me too. I had fresh zucchini and fruits at hand. So, made this easy-peasy salad for dinner and it turned out great. I didn't use any sauces or any difficult dressings and the simplicity of it made it more tasty. At times, dressings overpower the salad taste, so i used just 5 basic ingredients and let the taste of veggies and fruits remain. 
Moreover, it's a quick meal. Just chop, assort and mix. That's it. No sauteing, no crushing, no tossing.


Zucchini - 1 medium sized
Apples - 2
Yellow bell Pepper - half
Red bell pepper - half ( You can also add onions or green capsicum but i didn't)
Olive oil - 1/4 cup
Pepper - to taste
Salt - to taste
Sugar - 1 tsp ( Substitute with honey if preferred )
Vinegar - 1- 2 tsp ( Use apple cider or red wine vinegar )
Herbs of your choice - I did sprinkle oregano and dried parsley on top but it's optional


Chop zucchini, apples and peppers and combine in a bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together oil, pepper, salt, vinegar and sugar. Pour this dressing over the zucchini-apple mixture.

Toss and sprinkle herbs of your choice

Please note: Serve this salad immediately after tossing. Don't let it rest for long.

Happy Cooking :)


Tuesday, 4 October 2016

The Making of Cafe Two's and Four's

Hello all you lovely people,

You have no idea how much i have missed this space!!! I just realized that my last post was exactly a year back. I have missed reading all the blogs i used to follow, i have missed trying out some of their recipes and most of all, i have missed clicking pictures especially for the blog. Past one year has been a tremendous journey of brainstorming, ideas, physical work, patience and most of all taking that leap of FAITH.

Today, i felt little restless. Today, i felt that itch to write. So, today, i am here taking you on mine and my husband's journey of starting our new venture : Cafe Two's and Four's . (All about two-leggeds and the four-leggeds) Yes, we wanted to combine two of our passions together - PETS AND FOOD. So, what better way than to start a pet-cafe or a cafe where pets are allowed. There is anyways a dearth of pet-friendly spaces around. A few of my blogger friends who are friends with me on Facebook already know about it as i have been regular with my posts on the page, but just to have it for keeps, i decided to pen down some points about our journey with some photographs that i have taken from my phone camera. So, excuse for the picture quality.

1. TAKE THAT STEP : Starting a new venture takes a lot out of you. It never really occurred that we could start a business, that too a cafe, and more so, in a different city. We always wanted to shift back from Delhi. But never really thought everything would fall in place so quick. On our last Diwali visit back home, i.e Mumbai, i decided to stay back and do some R n D about real estate to get an idea if we can even think about opening a venture anytime.The 2 months long stay-away from hubby was the first ever since our 3 years of marriage, but days went by in a jiffy as some sort of passion had taken over me completely.

2. R N D/MARKET SURVEY IS MUST :During that time, i also explored a lot of cafes and restaurants to get an idea about food, furniture,ambiance, comfort, crowd etc. And while doing all this, I got a chance to catch up with all my friends whom i had missed meeting when in Delhi. Also, all my experience of exploring and writing for Maneesh ( ) was at the back of my mind.

The first glimpse of the place
3. CHOOSE LOCATION WISELY : Mumbai was always our first choice, but seeing the size of the shops and the prices, we were disheartened. All our figures were running haywire and opening some new business seemed impossible. Just about when i decided to go back to Delhi and continue life as it was, it dawned upon us to explore the city of PUNE, where my in-laws stay. A visit to Pune was immediately planned and thanks to internet, we found out some good properties listed for rent. Pune roads and areas were completely new to me. So, a couple of days went by exploring around with my father-in-law. And then, we saw this place!!!! The first property we saw in Baner area and we fell in love with it. Hubby dearest was updated with pictures and details only on phone and whatsapp. But the place looked do-able. It had a lot of positive vibes, sunshine, air and a feel-good factor.

4. NEVER COMPROMISE ON YOUR BASIC IDEA/THEME : The advantage of this place was the open lawn area which was our main requirement since we wanted the cafe to be pet-friendly. The previous places we saw were all compact and without an open space. We even had thoughts of changing our theme and opening a regular cafe, but as it's said, things will happen when they have to happen. We were meant to do this and it so happened :)

5. ALWAYS ASK FAMILY FIRST, THEN TURN TO FRIENDS : We ran through some figures and decided to take that step - with all the assurance that "We will do it". I don't remember a single time when me or hubby were scared or fearful, since we had a lot of support and backing from both of our parents. Hence so, I HAVE TO SAY THIS HERE : There is no greater happiness than the support of your family.

My constant companions - Mom and Father in law. MIL and Dad missing in the picture

6. "AIKAAVE JANAACHE KARAVE MANAACHE" (LISTEN TO ALL BUT DO WHAT YOU FEEL IS RIGHT) : We shifted to Pune on Jan 1 st 2016 and were still clueless as to, how to go about the idea. New city, new venture, new contacts...Some suggested somethings, others some other things. Some said east, others said west ( not that there were people too who suggested north and south ;)). We listened. We heard. We argued. We fought. We brainstormed. And, we came with solutions. Always. The solution was : Listen to your heart. 
Trust me, many must have said this but i stamp and sign on it with my experience, that "Just listen to your instincts and do what feels right for you". There are always people to let you down, there are always people who will speak against you, there are always people who will confuse you but stand FIRM.

7. DIY IS ALWAYS CHEAPER AND MORE FUN : We decided to go DIY for the cafe. Of course, some ideas had to be re-thought after seeing the feasibility, costing and maintenance but in the end, we had fun doing it all. And in all this, my husband always asked me, "If someone asks you, why don't you pay the labour and get it all done, what would you reply?" and my answer was, "Then, there's no fun in it and the reason we decided to do this is for fun". Yes, the idea to start this venture was all about having fun!!! It doesn't mean, one shouldn't think business or do losses but the whole motive was not to earn money but to do what we love. And we were doing exactly that!!! We still are....:)

8. GOOD THINGS TAKE TIME, YOU EITHER WAIT OR SETTLE FOR LESS : There was a lot of testing of patience too, as labour here is a big problem and for some things, we had to depend on them. So, what we thought would be done in a month took 2 months and finally by March mid, the work was completed. In the meanwhile, there was a lot of exploring around in terms of checking and finding wholesale markets, working on the menu ( which is an ongoing process ), deciding on the pricing, getting tyres and crates for seatings, working out the lighting, fixtures, equipment for kitchens (some of them i had only seen on food shows), and of course all the cleaning, drilling and painting work. These were the times, we understood the meaning of "dead tired", both physically and mentally. 

A visit to Mandai :)

Experiments in the kitchen

9. BELIEVE - IN GOD, IN MOTHER NATURE, AND ABOVE ALL IN YOURSELF : When Dad came and performed pooja on the opening day, it all felt worth it. I really know the feeling of an artist now who creates an art, or a chef who designs and plates a dish, or someone climbing Mt.Everest. There is still a lot to achieve and it's an ongoing process, but just to make the place alive gives a lot of good feeling to both me and hubby dearest. 

I will share some current pictures of the cafe and some "Before-After" photos in my next post!!!

Thank you for reading through our journey and yes, i feel good today. Because i wrote. I guess the writer in me was bouncing inside to come out. Today was the day :)

And yes, Happy Cooking :)