Three day ago, during the I/O 2016, Google didn’t announce what Android 7.0 is to be named. Instead they decide to crowdsource and let us suggest what sweet treat should the upcoming OS be named after. This time the front runner from India is Neyyappam, a traditional sweet of Kerala (my home state); a deep fried batter of rice flour, jaggery, ghee, sliced coconut and cumin.
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Mangalore Pearl


IMG_4919All my life I stayed in coastal cities and seafood was part of almost every meal. Infact during the great lent (the 50 day fast before Easter during which non vegetarian food is not consumed), my dad declares fish is not considered non veg. I refrained from eating seafood when I moved to Bangalore, as even the top restaurants don’t serve fresh fish; but that changed when I was taken to Mangalore Pearl. A word of advice: it better to get there early for lunch since the seats are limited.

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This is Sweden
My last day in Stockholm; I hope to come here again when it is summer. ‘This is Sweden‘ is a video showing essence of the Swedish life.

Day 23 : Semla



A common sight in Swedish bakeries windows are semla (pl.semlor) buns. Selmor are a Swedish specialty eaten in the run up to Fettisdagen (Fat Tuesday), the last day before the start of the 50 days long Easter lent . They are enriched sweet buns made with cardamom, filled with almond paste and whipped cream and topped with powered sugar. The carb rich treat has transcended from its religious tradition to one that is enjoyed by all. Today we had semlor for fika; sponsored by our client. The Swedes are very serious about their semla and get into animated conversations about the mysterious ‘Semla man’ and the ultimate semla.

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I woke up late this Saturday and missed the walking tour at Slussen. Having made no other plans till lunch, a friend and I set out to explore the city. We got on what seemed like a sight seeing boat only to realize midway it was actually a ferry. A kind lady, a fan of one of India’s spiritual gurus, was happy to see our brown faces and struck up a conversation. She laughed at our mistake and suggested to get off at the island of Djurgården, home to several places of interests including Vasamuseet, Stockholm’s most popular museum.

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For my first weekend in Stockholm, I decided to visit Norrtälje; 70kms north of the city. The temperature is slightly warmer and the snow in the city is getting slushy. This might be the last chance I get to enjoy the snow. We decided to take the bus from danderyds sjukhus since our SL access cards are valid and we would not have to pay any extra charges. I’ll be writing a post in the SL card later.

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As I mentioned in my earlier post, Systembolaget closes early on Saturdays. I found this out too late. So for our 1st weekend celebration we decided to go to a pub. The closest was O’Leary’s sport pub at Tyresö Centrum. The pub sparsely filled up with mostly older crowd with one guy cheering animatedly over a ice hockey match on TV. Initially I went for something to warm me up but ending up having my 1st Guinness on tap. I expected it to be much creamier, however it was significantly better than the Guinness canned version. We were struck up a conversation with the local lads who just got back from New York. The Swedes do seem to be a friendly lot.
Trip tip: The hard liquor prices are quite high and it is cheaper stocking up from Systembolaget.

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As a Malayalee, alcohol monopoly by state is not something new. In Kerala, it is a common sight after 6pm to see long queues of men after work jostling their fellow queuer, at their favorite Kerala State Beverage Corporation (KSBC) outlet, in an attempt to reach the cashiers behind armored cages to purchase their favorite elixir. Hence when I moved to Bangalore it was a pleasant surprise to see private liquor marts where you can walk in to pick up your bottle. I was of the opinion that the same should be done in Kerala, till I saw the best of both done in Stockholm.

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Like everything else, dining out in Stockholm is expensive. Sweden ranks right at the top on the Big Mac Index (not the most accurate way, but should give you a general idea) while India is comfortably at the bottom. Your brain turns into a instant Krona-to-Rupee converter and you will find yourself penny-pinching. I resorted to cooking most of my meals since I had use of a kitchen. I had planned earlier and got indian masala powders, pulses, atta and pickle mixes (the list was made by a colleague’s wife); enough for a month.

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Gravad Lax

Three days into my stay in Stockholm, I am eager to try out everything Swedish. Pleased with my choice of the raggmunk earlier, a colleague suggested I should start with the cuisine; particularly seafood. For lunch, I decided to try our in-house Nida Cafeteria. For SEK 63, employees get to make their own salad from the bar and choose a protein (shrimp & eggs, spicy chicken or gravad lax). Gravlax is a Nordic dish consisting of raw salmon, cured (atleast 24 hours) in salt, sugar, and dill.
As an Indian eating food that has not been steamed baked, fried or pulverized by some cooking method involving heat is a big no-no. My first experience of tasting raw fish was interesting. It wasn’t as ‘fishy’ as I expected and the sweet-salty flavor complimented the salad well. I suspect that Nida café’s salmon was not the freshest and I might be able to finish a whole bowl of gravad lax ifI try it elsewhere. Overdosed on healthy food, my mind now craves for a pastry.

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