Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home |  Volume 6, Issue 05, Tuesday, February 01, 2011




Urban chic


Lifestyles are personal statements of preferences, expressions, and patterns of living that differ from one individual to another. Some people love classic traditional interiors; some love eco-friendly natural goods for their homes and some adore contemporary living styles. In this feature we are describing a modern house situated in the Gulshan area. The apartment is almost 4000 square feet in size and the landlady desired a modern interior.

The entrance is a crucial space in any residence. This is the first impression of your house and how you live. I started my work from the entrance. The door is spacious and two parted. There is a spacious area outside the entrance near the staircase landing and lift lobby. Actually, this is the most important space, so I thought of a different idea for the entrance.

We made a sculpture with lime and cement to be placed beside the door. The concept of the work was based on the historical city of Panam. The first Bengal capital was at Panam City in Sonargaon. All the buildings of this ancient city were made of sleek red brick. These houses still reflect the glorious era of Sonargaon as capital. As a designer, I always feel proud of our heritage. Thus, I took a concept of sleek brick, some banyan plant leaves and old houses with broken walls to form the scenery on the entry wall. This wonderful artwork was done by artist Razzaque. We made a Burma teak wooden false ceiling on top of the art work. A long light was hung from the ceiling and we also placed some plants and pottery for adornment.

To greet guests at the threshold of the home, we placed a water body in the foyer to offer a preview of the sophistication within. The water comes from the wall in steps. We used two kinds of rustic tiles on the wall. The surface of the wall from where the water flows is rough and made of broken slate while the rest of the wall is covered by rustic tiles. We placed a sleek water tub for fountains, spring showers, motors and water circulation. I suggest hard materials like granite for this tub

because granite surfaces are very easy to maintain and scratch free. We installed some water proof lights in the tub and also hung accent lights. Water bodies can be decorated with plants and pots for special occasions; ideal plants being water hyacinths, money plants and so on. Add some pebbles, snails, stones and even small fish to enhance the water body. The advent of modern apartments did away with the concept of gardening, but this small space can be used for green living.

We paid special emphasis to the family living area because this is the most social area of a home; where you get together with friends and family. We placed a TV cabinet against the end wall which looks different due to the use of brown wall paper. The wall paper is of a slightly thicker texture so it exudes the effect of warmth. We arranged an L-shaped continuous sofa and sofa bed for comfortable seating. A spa A spa cious square centre table was placed in the middle.

Curtains always add an element of elegance to any room. We used ceiling-to-floor curtains for this house in a beige fabric with brown borders since the colour scheme of this house is brown, beige and black. We used off-white Butachino marble with ash and black borders on the floor with light beige walls, clay brown wall paper and a caramel woody coffee table. Three pieces of mother of pearl artwork were placed on a wall, with a black console table set right under them.

There is a sleek corridor connecting the living room to the bedrooms. Corridors were once neglected places, but in modern houses, every corner is important. I decorated this long passage according to a gallery concept, installing long false ceilings and exhibition spot lights. Black and white artwork was used to further adorn the passage.

Taken as a whole, the apartment's foyer, dining room, family living room and corridors represent a refreshingly quaint interpretation of urban living-a cosy rendition that gives inhabitants a welcome reprieve from the daily rigours of city life.

Nazneen Haque Mimi
Interior Consultant

E-mail: journeyman.interiors@gmail.com
Photo credit: Hasan Saifuddin Chandan


By Tommy Miah

Vietnamese Thit Bo Sao Dau
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ tsp white pepper
1 tsp cornflower
1 tsp vegetable oil
500g (1¼ lb) beef sirloin steak, thinly sliced
3 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
½ onion, thinly sliced
250g (9 oz) fresh green beans, trimmed
4 tbsp chicken stock
1 tsp soy sauce

In a large mixing bowl, combine garlic, pepper, cornflower and 1 teaspoon vegetable oil. Add beef, and mix well. In a large wok, heat two tablespoons of oil over high heat for one minute. Add meat; cook and stir for about two minutes, or until beef begins to brown. Transfer beef to a large bowl, and set aside.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a wok. Add onions; cook and stir until tender. Mix in green beans, and add stock. Cover, and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, or until beans are tender but crisp. Stir in soy sauce and beef. Cook, stirring constantly, for one or two minutes, or until heated through.

Vietnamese Style BBQ Chicken
2 breasts pieces of chicken
2 shallots roughly chopped
3 tsp dark brown sugar
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
3 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp cooking oil

Put shallots, brown sugar, chilli and fish sauce in a food processor and blend until it makes a paste. Stir in the oil. Cut the chicken breast into long strips about 2.5 cm wide.
Mix chicken pieces and the paste in a medium bowl with your hands, rubbing in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for between 4 to 24 hours.

Thread chicken on skewers and barbecue until cooked, rotating skewers for approximately 5-10 minutes or until cooked through.

Serve in a baguette with pickled vegetables for Vietnamese sandwiches (banh mi) or on top of rice noodles and mixed salad with nuoc cham as a dressing.

Vietnamese-Inspired Cabbage and Rice Noodle Salad
5 cloves garlic
½ bunch fresh coriander
½ green chilli, seeded and minced
4 tbsp fresh lime juice
3 tbsp vegetarian fish sauce
3 tbsp caster sugar
350g (12 oz) rice noodles
2 carrots, julienned
1 cucumber, halved lengthwise and chopped
Handful chopped fresh mint
4 leaves pak choi
30g (1 oz) unsalted peanuts, chopped
4 sprigs fresh mint

Chop the garlic with the coriander and chilli. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, add the lime juice, fish sauce, salt and sugar; stir well. Let the sauce sit for 5 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the rice noodles; boil for 2 minutes. Drain well. Rinse the noodles with cold water until they have cooled. Let them drain again.

Combine the sauce, noodles, carrots, cucumber, mint and cabbage in a large serving bowl. Toss well and serve the salad garnished with the peanuts and mint sprigs.

Vietnamese-Caramelised Chicken Belly (thit kho)
1kg chicken belly, cleaned and cut into 3cm pieces with layers of skin, fat and meat
2 tbsp sugar
5 shallots, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tbsp fish sauce
Black pepper
375ml coconut water
6 hard boiled eggs

In a large wok, heat the sugar over medium heat until it melts and caramelises into light brown syrup. Don't let it burn! Add the chicken and raise the heat to high. Stir and cook to render some fat then add the shallots and garlic.

Add the fish sauce and black pepper to taste and stir to evenly coat the meat. Pour in the coconut water and bring to the boil. The liquid should reach about 3/4 way up the meat.

Add the eggs and simmer covered over low heat for at least 1 hour, until the meat is tender. Check occasionally that the liquid doesn't evaporate too much. Add water a little at a time if the sauce is drying out.

Remove from the heat and let the dish stand for at least 10 minutes. Skim the fat from the surface of the sauce and serve with rice.

Vietnamese Prawn Rice Noodle Bowl
3 cloves garlic
6 tbsp fresh chopped mint
4 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
3 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp honey
1 lime, juiced
2 tbsp fresh root ginger, minced
¼ tsp ground white pepper
100g (4 oz) shredded cabbage
200g (7 oz) dried rice noodles
8 large fresh prawns, peeled and deveined
3 tbsp olive oil

Preheat barbecue for high heat. Combine garlic, 4 tablespoons mint, coriander, fish sauce, honey, lime juice, ginger and white pepper in food processor or blender. Process until smooth. Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Cook noodles and cabbage for two minutes, or until done.

Meanwhile, coat prawns with olive oil, and barbecue over high heat until golden, turning once. Mince the remaining mint.

Serve noodles and cabbage in a bowl, top with sauce and prawns, and garnish with mint.



Judicious seasoning has always been essential in cooking but there's much more to salt than a fine white powder.

Often these days, guilt and anxiety wrestle with taste and pleasure in people's minds as they hesitantly reach for the salt. It's worth remembering that despite the clamour and confusion sodium is an essential mineral (the recommended daily intake for an adult is 1.6g). Sea salt is also a good natural source of iodine, a deficiency in which can lead to goitres, once relatively common (especially among females). And, as one food writer puts it: "After dinner, our bodies eliminate the salt we don't need. That is why God gave us kidneys".

The most famous British gourmet salt, favoured by Jamie Oliver, is Maldon: the structure of the flakes, crumbled between the fingers, gives a choice of texture, large crystals or smaller. Experimenting with different kinds of salt may well be the new thing this year. Smoked salt is going to be one of 2011's food trends and also gourmet salts, including rose and coriander and vanilla.

And on your annual visits overseas you can try to collect a few varieties. Sel gris is a moist grey-coloured sea salt, with large cube-like grains, ideal for use in cooking. Fleur de sel raked by hand from the salt pans has bouquet hints of rose and violet, and as the most expensive variety is another type only sprinkled sparingly as a finishing salt.

Hawaiian black lava salt, its inky colour the remnants of activated charcoal from volcanoes, is great with meat, seafood and fruits. Hawaiian red salt, a deep clay colour, reputedly detoxifies and is used ceremonially in Hawaii. Kala namak is a sulphuric salt from Darjeeling which has a pungent smell and is commonly used by street hawkers in India as a garnish for exotic fruits such as mango and pineapple. One of the all times favourite is rock salt or beet lobon (as locally known).

Can you imagine life without salt? Some foods don't even taste of themselves until lightly salted - think porridge. The salt merely enhances the intrinsic taste of the oatmeal. A talent for cooking could almost be boiled down to the ability to season, the knack of salting.

-- LS Desk



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