WARNING: This is one of the longest posts I have ever posted! Grab a cup of Tea and enjoy 🙂
The weather Gods are still unsure -whether to rain or not to rain? Meanwhile we ventured out on a Road trip to Bangalore ; more than almost a 2000km car drive to and from Nashik. We were a bit apprehensive about the road trip considering the ‘can’t sit in one place for a minute’ little one but decided to go anyway. Finger foods, drawing/coloring sets, car games, CDs later we were finally on the way to Bangalore. The back-seat of the car was turned into a mini bed for both the kids to play/eat/ sleep and enjoy.
We preferred the Nashik –Mumbai highway and then the Mumbai-Pune expressway to the single lane and ‘boring’ Nasik-Pune highway upto Pune. It was a scenic drive especially through the clouds in Lonavala just before Pune, and then the lovely windmills near Belgaum on the Bangalore highway. The road is fabulous except for the last 50-60 km as you near Bangalore. We halted at Belgaum for the night at ‘ Hotel Adarsh Palace’ . The hotel was good, clean and serves one of the best breakfast I have had on a road trip. The little one was impressed with their mini-button idlis.
Except the 1-2 Kamat Upchar outlets and 1-2 coffe day outlets we didn’t see many Food stops post Belgaum. We had south Indian thali at the The Kamat Upchar on the Tumkur-Bangalore highway(~60 Km from Bangalore). Not the best of meals but enough to feed weary travelers.
We were in Bangalore exactly for 1 and ½ days. I have been to Bangalore a couple of times earlier but haven’t seen the city and its surroundings in bits and pieces on each trip. We could successfully squeeze in half a day trip to Bannerghatta Zoo and the Lalbaugh gardens. The lad was thrilled to see the animals at the zoo and also commented that the road trip was worth the effort The foodie that he is, he enjoyed the spicy-sour sweet succulent slices of ‘ Gini mooti (Totapuri) aam’ sold just outside the zoo.
The lalbuagh nursery as beautiful as it is was disappointing since I went there in search of Herbs and they don’t grow them. (Should have checked beforehand)
I got a chance to visit a Nature’s basket outlet in Indiranagar, Bangalore and I happily carried a few fresh herbs like Thyme and Rosemary, Avocados , instant Polenta and such items all the way to Nasik. Fresh Thyme and Rosemary are yet to make an appearance in the market here in Nashik, though my kitchen garden will grow them in a month or two- Fingers crossed.
We stopped over at Kolhapur for the night on our way back and don’t have much to write about the hotel ‘Sony Palace’ just 2 minutes off the highway.The drive through Lonavala was even more scenic on the way back. Glad to report that the little one not only survived the car trip but is eager to go on another trip!
The herbs survived the ride back home and were immediately used in as many dishes as I could. The Rosemary urged me to bake a lovely warm Rosemary and Olive Focaccia.Some of the thyme went into a Roasted tomato and Thyme soup.; a perfect dinner combination for these ‘Rainy weather days’.
I have adapted the recipe for the Rosemary and Olive Focaccia from a book ‘Baking- simple cookery series’ from my collection of cookbooks.
I have used some part whole wheat flour instead of total AP flour as recommened in the recipe with great results. The soup was made using whatever ingredients were available, Thyme being the star ingredient.
Here’s the recipe for the Rosemary Olive Focaccia:
- 700 gms strong white flour (I used 450 gms Maida/AP flour, 250 gms whole wheat flour and 3 tbsp Vital gluten)
- Pinch of Salt
- pinch of Caster sugar
- 7g/ 2tsp Instant yeast (I used AB Mauri)
- 450 ml warm water (or as required to make a soft elastic dough, I needed about 470 ml)
- 2 tsp chopped fresh Rosemary
- 75 gms pitted black olives roughly chopped
- 3 tbsp Olive oil (I used herb infused Olive oil- see note below)
- For the garnish: 3 tbsp Olive oil (I used herb infused Olive oil- see note below) Coarse sea salt for sprinkling Fresh Rosemary for garnishing
- Sift the Flours, salt and the sugar.
- Stir in the yeast and Rosemary.
- Make a well in the centre
- Carefully pour in the warm water and Olive oil/herb oil.
- I need about 10-20 ml more water so add the water gradually.
- Mix to a soft dough.
- Turn out onto a well floured surface and knead for 10 mins.(Yeast Therapy 🙂 until smooth and elastic. Pat the olives dry on a kitchen paper, and then gently knead into the dough.
- Put in a well oiled bowl, cover with a clingfilm and leave to rise for about 1½ hrs. or it has doubled in size(mine was overflowing from the bowl)
- Turn out the dough and knead again for a minute or two.
- Divide into half and roll out each piece into a 10 inch (25.5 cm) circle.
- Transfer to oiled baking sheets and cover with oiled clingfilm/ foil and leave to rise for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200oC.
- Using the finger tips make deep dimples all over the dough.
- Drizzle with the oil (I used herbed oil)and sprinkle with the sea salt.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until risen and golden.
- My old oven took almost 10-12 minutes more.
- Cool on a wire rack and garnish with sprigs of Rosemary.
- Grind over or sprinkle black pepper just before serving.
- Herb Infused Olive Oil Warm about 1 cup Olive Oil (not necessarily Extra virgin). Add chopped fresh herbs like Rosemary, Basil, Thyme, Parsley. Add 2-3 peeled garlic cloves. Add ½ - 1 tsp of Chilli flakes. Keep aside for 1 a day. Strain out the herbs and garlic ( I like to keep the chilli flakes)