Tag Archive | traditions

Sardinhas grelhadas

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– Memories of Alfama/ Lisbon –

A few years ago JS and I flew all the way out to Portugal – a country neither of us had visited before but always wanted to experience.

So we spent a wonderful, but mainly rainy week (but who cared really? We did not!) in Lisbon in time to take part in this city’s “Saint Antony’s Day” on 13th June.

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On the eve of the Saint’s Day (even thou he is generally known as St. Antony of Padua, he was actually born in Lisbon) the whole city turns crazy – into their annual sardinhas- and -beer –bacchanal; the streets are lined with make-shift grill stations and the smell of grilled sardinhas ……. Oh! My goodness, you just have to fly over and experience this for yourself. Everybody is celebrating and having generally a great time and the occasional drizzle from the sky above does not spoil the fun.

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We spent our evening/night in the Alfama district – which is the oldest district of Lisbon. Like the previous day, we had spent our afternoon here at the famous and so beautiful São Jorge Castle.

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Alfama is regarded as the most genuine and authentic neighbourhood in the city. We walked the ancient cobble stones and soon found ourselves a table, where we sat and let the beguiling wail of Fado drift over us which came at us literally from all 4 corners (and more!). And, like most girls/women I too was given a small pot of fresh basil -following the tradition – (known as: manjerico) by JS as a symbol of affection – but on my brightly coloured paper carnations with a poem written on them, I missed out – that time!

For you, who like to read more about our visit to Portugal please go to JS very own Blog:


Obrigado …..Amalia, obrigado fado, obrigado Lisboa! But most of all, thank you Santo Antonio.

I could fill pages of telling you about that night ….. but, I am sure by now you like to read my version of ‘grilled sardines’ – sardinhas grelhadas! A recipe I jotted down on a paper napkin that night.

This is a very easy dish to prepare – appr. 30 minutes is all it takes. The numbers of sardinhas per person depends very much on your appetite, have a bowl of boiled potatoes and an even bigger bowl of beautiful salad – and sit out in the sunshine and enjoy!

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Sardinhas grelhadas Alfama style


3-4 large potatoes, peeled, cut into 2cm pieces
1 Tbsp of hot smoked paprika
1/4 cup or so (60ml) olive oil
1 red capsicum
1 yellow capsicum
½ green capsicum
1 Avocado, stone removed, peeled and cubed
1 apple, peeled and cut into cubes
4 tomatoes, de-seeded and cubed
2 large red onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp of minced garlic (or less)
A generous portion of pitted and sliced black/purple olives
A generous portion of fresh basil
A generous handful of coriander
1-2 tsp lemon juice
12 fresh sardines (or more) cleaned
1 lemon, quartered

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1 Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cook the potatoes until almost tender, drain and allow drying out for a few minutes.
2 Toss potatoes with paprika and 1 tablespoon oil. Season and spread on a large lined baking tray, then roast for 20 minutes or until golden.
3 Meanwhile, heat a grill pan on medium-high heat. Brush the capsicums with a little extra olive oil and grill for 4-5 minutes, turning, until the skin blisters. Set aside in a bowl and cover in plastic wrap. Once cool enough to handle, peel and cut into thin strips.
4 Place in a bowl with a couple of the cooked potatoes, then toss with tomatoes, onion, avocado, apple, garlic, basil, coriander, lemon juice and remaining oil. Season with salt and pepper.

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5 Increase the chargrill pan or barbeque heat to high. Brush the sardines and the grill with a little more oil to help prevent sticking. Sprinkle the sardines with 1 teaspoon sea salt – the soft-flaked varieties is best – then cook the sardines for 2-3 minutes each side until the skin is scorched and bubbling.
6 Divide the sardines among plates, then top with some of the salad and serve with lemon.

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7. Place a separate bowl of boiled potatoes and a bowl of salad.

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8. Chunky country bread or baguette will also be good.

Our Alfama cook suggested that I dry the washed sardinhas thoroughly with a tea-towel before frying – and I followed his advice back home.
I did not use a barbeque since I did not want my sardinhas to stick to the grill – so I dry-fried them in the pan – and they turned out good.

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Desfrute de sua refeição – Enjoy your meal!

I leave you with the most beautiful voice of Amália Rodrigues
Ha festa na Mouraria” by Amália Rodrigues


“Silverbells……… are ringing”

1-BookAs you know by now I was born in “A small town in Germany” then so aptly named by the famous novelist John le Carré in his 1968 novel of the said title.

Bonn of course has grown tremendously in the last 47 years – but certain traditions and customs , which are synonymous with this beautiful and charming university town on the banks of the almighty River Rhein and, on its east bank, the famous stretch of hills, known as ‘ Siebengebirge’ (the 7 hills)., will remain here forever – I certainly hope so very much!

Since 21 October 2015 Bonn now has a new Mayor , Ashok-Alexander Sridharan – and of course not only the people in my old ‘Homeland’ but also many people here in South India, wish him well for now and the future.

Picture right: Source: Wikipedia

Now of course is Advent time and everywhere one can find the famous Christmas markets – in every city, town and village – never mind how big or small. As a child I used to love those markets – trying very hard (not always successfully  thou ) to be extra good at school and at home so that, as a treat, my mother would take me to those markets. And to be honest, I still would love to go there today, taking my husband Jo and our 2 big girls along – I know for sure, they too would easily fall in love with this tradition. Pic: Oberbürgermeister Ashok Sridharan

Just in time for the ‘Weihnachtsmarkt” in Bonn comes this nice little story, send to me by a friend. The Police in Bonn came up with a simple but ingenious idea hoping to combat the pilfering of handbags by thieves. They patrol the markets, especially looking out for ladies with open or semi-open handbags. They will be stopped and a friendly discussion will follow resulting with the Police giving away little silver bells to be hung on the zipper of the handbags. So, should a pick-pocket try to do the dirty deed those little bells will ring and (hopefully) send the thief running.

Needless to say, this brilliant PR exercise by the Bonn Police turns out to be a tremendous success and maybe will even be copied by others!?


Wie Ihr ja mittlerweile wisst, bin ich in “A small town in Germany” geboren. Der beruehmte Author John le Carré gab seinem 1968 geschriebenen Bestseller diesen Titel.

Natuerlich ist Bonn in den letzten 47 Jahren sehr gewachsen – aber gewisse Traditionen und Braeuche, die gleich sind mit dieser schoenen und charmanten Universitaetsstadt , an den Ufern des maechtigen Rhein Flusses und an den Ost Ufern, die beruehmte Strecke der Huegeln, bekannt als das ‘Siebengebirge” werden fuer immer bleiben – ich hoffe es so sehr.

Seit dem 21 October 2015 hat Bonn nun einen neuen Oberbuergermeister, Ashok-Alexander Sridharan – und selbstverstaendlich wuenschen ihm die Bewohner in meinem alten Heimatland wie auch viele Leute hier in Sued Indien, alles Gute fuer jetzt und die Zukunft.

4-PolNun ist natuerlich Adventzeit und ueberall kann man jetzt die beruehmten Weihnachtsmaerkte finden – in jeder Metropole, Stadt und Dorf – macht nichts, ob gross oder klein. Als ich ein Kind war liebte ich diese Maerkte sehr – ich versuchte sehr hart (aber nicht immer erfolgreich ) ganz lieb und fleissig in der Schule und zuhause zu sein, so dass meine Mutter mich als Belohnung zu diesen Maerkten nimmt. Und um ehrlich zu sein, Ich wuerde so gerne heute noch dahin gehen, aber mit meinem Mann Jo und unseren 2 grossen Maedchen – Ich bin mir sehr sicher, dass sie sich auch in diese Tradition verlieben wuerden.

3-PolPictures: Bells for your Handy. Source: Bonner Polizei

Nun gerade zur Zeit dieses Weihnachtsmarktes in Bonn kommt diese kleine nette Geschichte, die mir eine Freundin zugeschickt hat. Die Bonner Polizei hatte eine einfache aber brilliante Idee in der Hoffnung, das stehlen von Handtaschen etc. zu bekaempfen. Sie patrolieren die Maerkte, wo sie Ausschau halten auf offene oder halboffene Handtaschen. Diese Damen werden gestoppt und eine freundliche Discussion i.e. Beratung erfolgt mit dem Resultat, dass die Polizei kleine silberne Gloeckchen austeilt die an den Verschluss der Tasche befestigt werden. So, sollte ein Taschendieb seinen Trick versuchen diese kleinen Gloeckchen werden klingeln und (hoffentlich) werden sie dann den Dieb schnell verscheuchern. Natuerlich ist diese brilliante PR Uebung der Bonner Polizei ein Riesenerfolg und vielleicht wird sie bald von anderen kopiert!?

Tschuess fuer heute,