Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 3, Issue 31, Tuesday March 14, 2006




Excavating Internet sites

Internet, being such a vast storage of information, often turns out to be an ominous place for those who are "net virgins". Whether you are one or not, here is a list of few interesting sites to spice up your lifestyle online.

If you need an online encyclopaedia, this is your answer. Online or hardcopy, I personally think that this is the best encyclopaedia around. Available in many languages, the English version holds more than 994,000 articles. It would answer all your questions- from how many #1 singles Mariah Carey has had to the politics of Ancient Mesopotamia. This is an indispensable tool for research papers, as well as a great way to know new things. Wikipedia also contains pictures, web links, radio links and links to related internal and external articles and multimedia.

The site would tell you how every possible "stuff" works. From electric shaving razors and mobile SIM cards, to lawnmowers and microchips, it covers all. Broadly, the categories are auto stuff, health stuff, science stuff, home stuff, computer stuff, entertainment stuff, people stuff, electronics stuff, money stuff, travel stuff and shop stuff. I usually go on into the site because I like gadgets, but I have a cousin studying IT who uses this site for her assignments.

This is the largest online store in the world. It sells anything and everything (and when I say "everything", I mean everything). Name it- garden gnomes, books, designer underwear, iPods, DVDs, anything- and they have it. I usually use this site to get things that are rare, collectibles and not available in stores here. Being a big name, the site is also completely trustworthy when it comes to online credit card payments. Added advantage is that it attaches all the customer reviews for each product, making it easy for you to make the judgments and pick out the things you like… and yes, it is bigger and more user-friendly compared to e-Bay.

I just unearthed this site a few days back. It is an online forum for men all over the world, where you exchange tips and ideas. It caters to all the needs of a man- grooming (shaving tips, clothes, even ways to tie your shoelaces better!), relationships (counselling, dating tips, etc.), cars (yeah!), music, sex, sports, food, celebrities, work, and so on. The notion of such a site may seem ridiculous and even corny, but you can at least give it a try and find out. A similar site exists for the ladies- www.askwomen.com.

All of us have invariably browsed the Internet, fishing out information about foreign accessories, electronics, cooking and what not. Lately, I got into the hype of skimming through some "deshi" sites. This is an award-winning website that encases detailed information about our country. Apart from the fact that it contains history, geography, demography, and economy, what I liked was that it contained current affairs and a public forum. The forum is useful for both Bangalis (for meeting other people and sharing views), and foreigners (for finding out more about Bangladesh). Having been launched in 1994, this is also regarded as the first comprehensive site on Bangladesh on the web.

By Saadi

A True Taste of Asia

Barbecue Salmon Steaks Recipe
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 dash hot pepper sauce (optional)

Combine the sauce ingredients stirring thoroughly. Generously brush both sides of the salmon steaks with mixture.
Pre-heat grill. Grill salmon steaks 6-8 minutes, depending on the thickness of your steaks.
Baste frequently. Turn once, brushing with sauce. Steaks should flake easily when tested with a fork
1 can (15 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk (see notes)
2 tablespoons Thai green curry paste (see notes)
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
1 pound halibut steaks or fillets, skinned, boned and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 medium firm but ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely diced
1 handful of fresh basil or mint leaves OR a combination
Do not shake coconut milk before opening can. Skim 1/4 cup of thick "cream" from surface of milk and heat it in wok or saucepan over medium heat until bubbly. Add curry paste, green onions and green beans and cook until mixture is quite fragrant and oil begins to separate from cream.
Discard remaining cream from coconut milk if desired, then add remaining milk and fish sauce to pan. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium and cook until mixture is reduced by half. Add fish cubes and tomatoes and simmer until fish is done, for about 6 minutes. Stir in basil leaves and serve with rice.
Notes: Coconut milk is high in saturated fat, so if you're watching calories, discard the oil-rich coconut "cream" and use 1 tablespoon peanut or corn oil when cooking the curry paste, green onions and green beans. You'll lose just a bit of the coconut flavour.
Look for Thai green curry paste in Asian markets.
From: West Coast Seafood
(15 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk (see notes)

Chilli Salmon Patties with Lime Dressing
250g (8oz) Scottish Quality Salmon fillets (cooked)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 red chillies, chopped and de-seeded
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium piece of ginger, chopped or 1 tsp of ready prepared ginger (in a jar)
2 x 400g (16oz) tins of chickpeas, drained
1 bunch of coriander, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten
Salt and pepper to season
Lime dressing:
3 limes
200g (8oz) mayonnaise
1 small bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Serves : 4
Preparation and cooking time:30 minutes.

Heat a frying pan with olive oil and add the onion, chilli, garlic and ginger and cook until soft.
Put the chickpeas into a blender, add the onion mix, coriander and cooked salmon. Blend together and add the egg. Leave to chill for 15 minutes. Check the seasoning.
When cool, shape into medium sized patties. Chill for 15 minutes (if time allows).
Place the patties into a shallow frying pan with olive oil and fry until golden brown. Remove from the pan and sprinkle with seasoning. Leave to drain on kitchen paper.
To make the lime dressing, blend all the ingredients together and chill for 10 minutes.
To serve, place the patties on a bed of lettuce leaves.
Spoon a small amount of lime dressing on top of the patties. Garnish with a few cherry tomatoes and sprigs of parsley.

For the love of food

By Kaniska Chakraborty

The magical meal

A celebrated chef once wrote a book, which basically traces his journey across the globe in search of the best meal ever. His quest takes him to the strangest of places. The early morning fish market in Tokyo, the jungles of Sumatra, the urban excess that is Manhattan, the pleasant countryside of France, et al.

Sounds like my dream. Just that I am in the wrong profession (aren’t we all??) and am not that well resourced.

I have had my fair share of memorable meals. The Friday night sit-down dinner at Chez Pannise in Berkeley. The dim sum at Chinatown in San Francisco. The steaming pho from a street vendor in Hanoi. The fried hilsa with rice by the banks of Padma in Manikganj. The pan seared rawas with coriander sauce at Indigo in Mumbai. The crab and shrimp with spinach at Oh! Calcutta in, where else, Calcutta.

All these experiences have left their own indelible marks on my gastronomic mind and I will love to repeat them. But there is one experience that stands out, head and shoulder above the rest. With your permission, I shall proceed to describe that particular experience.

It all began as my wife and I got really tired of work and decided to run away to Thailand for 10 days. After much debate over the itinerary, we settled on Bangkok as the base and Koh Samui as the adventure. We landed reservation in one of the best kept secrets of Koh Samui. Place called Bill Resort on Lamai beach.

Went gallivanting hand in hand in the evening. Balmy tropical breeze, moonlit night, nice walk to the centre of town down a gentle slope. A good recipe for working up a healthy appetite. Before we knew, we were face to face with a seafood restaurant. One of the kind that has an ice tray out in front with wares on display.

There it was, right in front of us. Glistening snappers, translucent squids, bright pomfrets, shining sardines, and clams. Lots and lots of dark shelled clams. Just waiting to be savoured.

This kind of sight will galvanize even a non-foodie into action. We quickly made up our mind and grabbed a table and became impatient to place our orders, finally drawing the attention of the elderly lady in charge of the place. After much deliberation, we decided on a red curry with squids and an order of clams fried in Thai chili paste with the customary side of stir-fried morning glory. Oh and of course, steamed rice.

The wait was interminable, but the food was worth it. It arrived in beautiful earthen dishes; the curry, the morning glory, the clams and the pristine white rice. The aroma of basil leaf, chilies, and above all, jasmine rice hung heavy in the air. Salivating!

We started enthusiastically, but paused when we noted that the ‘red curry’ we had ordered was yellow in colour. The waitress explained that the yellow stuff was, in fact, the red curry. We were in no mood to argue, and tucked in with gusto. The sweet coconut milk and the pungent red chilies made an interesting counterpoint to each other. And the squids! Oh the squids! They were soft yet chewy, crunchy yet melt-in-the-mouth.

Then we turned our attention to the clams, which looked innocuous enough. Lying in a shallow pool of red sauce, they, I must admit, did not look as if they could hold their own against the brilliant squids. Wrong!

The clams had to be pried open and the soft inside popped into the mouth. When we did, magic happened. They were so fresh that we could taste the saline sea! And truly, some had a little sand left in them, just to erase any doubts about their freshness and origin. And the red sauce! How can I ever forget about that red sauce? Along with rice, it was the perfect high point of dinner. Tangy, tasty, pungent, with a hint of aniseed. We had to order three more orders of rice! Lest we forget, the stir-fried morning glory was no less, glorious. Crispy, fresh with lots of garlic, it was refreshingly green.

Our meal lasted all of forty odd minutes, an important length of time in our lives, my life. I believe that I came close to having the perfect meal. You know the best part about it? I can never be sure till I have my next great meal. Life is all about comparisons, isn’t it?


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