How to make chickpea burgers

When I was a kid, steamed chickpeas in a newspaper cone was something commonly seen. I’d always see friends carrying it around and munching on it – the simple joys of childhood. Chickpea Burger

Picture from

That was the memory that I had as I was trying out making chickpea burgers. Probably inspired by the burger that we had at Fonzie’s the other day, it very actually simple to do. Apart from all the soaking, it didn’t take much labour time. And it was so delicious that it was worth the wait.

You will need :

  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 100 g dried chickpeas
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tbs flour

Soak the chickpeas in water and if you like, add a dash of Turmeric powder for a subtle earthy taste. Leave overnight or for at least 6 hours. Chickpea Burger

Look at how much the chickpeas expanded!

Pour away the soaked water and add more than enough fresh water to cover the chickpeas. Add a teaspoon of salt and then simmer them in low fire for about an hour.

In the meanwhile, grate the carrots finely, beat the egg and then put them aside.

When the chickpeas are cooked, drain the water away, and let it cool down for a bit. At this point, the chickpeas are already tasty enough to eat on it’s own. But resist the temptation and put them in the food processor with mashed garlic, the dried spices and blend them together till it looks rough but well mixed. Chickpea Burger

Add the mix to the grated carrots and fold them in together with the beaten egg. Add enough flour to bind them all together together and then form them into patties. Leave them in the fridge till needed and then fry them in a little bit of oil for about 4 minutes each side.

When they are done, they are absolutely delicious on it’s own but they are even better as burgers – I’d normally dress them up with mayo, cheese, ketchup, mustard, sliced onion, pickles on homemade toasted buns. Chickpea Burger

It’s a taste that you’d really love – hearty, savoury, punchy taste, satisfyingly crunchy with a hint of sweetness They are SO very good and I really hope that you give them a try. They are so delicious that I bet that even meat-eaters would appreciate them.

Definitely going to make them every week :-) Chickpea Burger

Om nom nom nom nom nom!

Visiting beautiful Villa D’este

Just for the fun of it, I went to Tivoli recently. Villa D'este, Tivoli

Tivoli is a charming town about 30 km from Rome. Cart couldn’t accompany me so I had to go by myself. At first, I was freaking out as I don’t think I’ve ever been out of Rome without him. Villa D'este, Tivoli

But all my fears was for naught as it was actually ridiculously easy to reach there by public transportation. All you had to do was to take the metro B all the way to Ponte Mammolo. From there, look for the counter that sells COTRAL tickets and get 2 – one to go, and the other to go back. And then head to the bus station, look for the number 2 berth and then sit and enjoy the scenery. Villa D'este, Tivoli

For an even more detailed article on going there, read this link written by Ron in Rome.

I think it’s much more relaxing going by public transportation rather than going by car (or even Sam the scooter!) You don’t have to wait long for a bus and the travel time is less than an hour. You also don’t have to deal with the toll and the traffic, plus you get to enjoy this view : Villa D'este, Tivoli

For 2.20 euro, it’s so worth it. I can’t believe that I didn’t do this sooner! Villa D'este, Tivoli

One of the beauties of Tivoli would have to be Villa D’este. Villa D'este, Tivoli

Like Villa Adriana, the gorgeous Villa D’este is listed as a UNESCO heritage site and the villa is full of majestic renaissance architecture. Villa D'este, Tivoli

When you enter the villa, you will pass through many rooms with gorgeous frescoes. The frescoes were interesting to me as the colours were vivid, as if I was looking through a HD TV. Villa D'este, Tivoli Villa D'este, Tivoli Villa D'este, Tivoli Villa D'este, Tivoli

But when you go down the spiral staircase, is when you find yourself transported in another world. Villa D'este, Tivoli Villa D'este, Tivoli

I gasped when I stepped out, seeing the beautiful garden. It was as if I was transported in a fairyland.

In the autumn, the garden looked quite magical with the rich colour of the trees, accented with the deep moss. But I think that it would be better to visit here during Spring or Summer with the fountains spouting. During colder periods, the fountains are dried out. Villa D'este, Tivoli Villa D'este, Tivoli Villa D'este, Tivoli Villa D'este, Tivoli

Nevertheless, it was breathtaking being here – I channelled my inner Lara Croft,  as if I was in a scene from Tomb Raider, the game. The only thing I felt was missing was the running sound effects :D Villa D'este, Tivoli Villa D'este, Tivoli Villa D'este, Tivoli

From the top where you start, you’ll see the intricate builds of of the period architecture, with the town of Tivoli in the background. Villa D'este, Tivoli Villa D'este, Tivoli Villa D'este, Tivoli Villa D'este, Tivoli

And as you walk down, you’ll be immersed in the tranquillity of the garden. Apart from Tomb Raider, there is something about the place which reminded me of Secondlife as I explored inside. Villa D'este, Tivoli Villa D'este, Tivoli Villa D'este, Tivoli Villa D'este, Tivoli

One of the memorable display for me was a wall full of smaller fountains which when you looked closer has different figures each – aptly, it’s called the “Cento Fontane” or 100 fountains : Villa D'este, Tivoli Villa D'este, Tivoli Villa D'este, Tivoli Villa D'este, Tivoli Villa D'este, Tivoli

Apart from the fountains, there were interesting statues and builds to be discovered at each nook and cranny. All the pictures are taken with my Nexus 5 by the way, I find myself using my PNS lesser and lesser nowadays. Villa D'este, Tivoli Villa D'este, Tivoli Villa D'este, Tivoli Villa D'este, Tivoli Villa D'este, Tivoli

There was even a friendly little kitten that came up to me, and got so comfortable that it took a snooze. So adorable! All in all, I had a relaxing morning in Villa D’este. I don’t mind going back here again! Villa D'este, Tivoli

At this point of writing, Villa D’este is open at 8.30 am every day except Mondays, January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th. Tickets cost 8 euro but entry is free on the first Sunday of each month.

Mad about fries?

I love fries. Maybe even too much. Who would have thought that something so basic could be so delicious?

I was at a pizzeria the other day which specialises on fried pizza. And they happened to be promoting ‘patatine’. Unfortunately, they were sold out when we arrived. I was a little disappointed, but that got me thinking of how great it’ll be if we had a shop in Rome selling ONLY fries since everyone loves fries.

A couple of days later, Cart and I stumbled upon this joint by chance while we were walking to San Pietro. It was such a coincidence!

Fries is a place that sells only fried potatoes. There are variations from – chips to tornado fries, but I think the highlight would definitely have to be the fries.

The potatoes were thickly cut and fried with the skin on and sold in 3 sizes – small at 3 euro, medium at 4 euro and large at 5.50 euro. We both got the medium sized one each. Which turned out to be quite a helping in the end, and we found out that that each was enough for for two to share. Luckily we didn’t have dinner prior to that, as I doubt that we would have finished our fries if we did.

We had to wait a while as they were made to order, but it was worth the wait. When they arrived, it was served in a red and white gingham cone and it was warm and comforting to hold in the cold, windy autumn evening.

I saw tall, small square tables with 4 holes in them, and only made the connection much much later that you could put your cones in them while you eat. It would be a lot more comfortable to eat that way if you had a larger sized  cone.

Fries were said to originate from Belgium and I’d love to visit there just to try the fries. But you’d have to be careful where you order as I read that in a lot of places, they fry it in beef tallow before cooking it the second time in vegetable oil. Here, the potatoes are fried in vegetable oil making it friendly for almost all practises.

There is also a board telling you if the sauces were vegan or gluten free. And there were loads of sauces to choose from – I got for myself sour cream while Cart chose ‘cacio e pepe‘.

For me, a benchmark for knowing how good a fry is, is that it should taste good without additional condiments. And it was such a delight to eat! Crispy, warm and rustic and a little bit salty. But with the combination with the sauce, it hit the spot for me. Aaahhhh…

I don’t mind going back there again!

Apparently there are more ‘patatinari’ opening in Rome – there’s another joint in Viale Marconi and another one in Ostia. Got to try them all!

Via di Porta Cavalleggeri, 19
00165 Roma

I love my new Spigen Bumper Cover!

Cart got for himself a One Plus One recently. A friend gave him an invitation code and he accidentally clicked on the order button. I don’t think that I’ll be doing a review of it for now as I didn’t get a chance to play much with it since Cart has been hogging it all week long :P Spigen Ultra Hybrid Nexus 5

What I can say is though, is that it’s very fast. Loading apps takes virtually a split second to load. And with the 15 minutes that I’ve been playing with it, the screen on my Nexus 5 seems very small now.

Anyway, I got for myself a Spiegen Ultra Hybrid bumper cover recently thanks to Sylvia’s advice and I’m really happy with it and I’m kicking myself for not getting it earlier.

Last month I was walking to the park when the phone rang and I accidentally dropped it while reaching for it. Which normally would be fine. In fact, I’ve dropped it several times. This time round though, I was walking on asphalt and I knew that there was no chance of survival with the jagged floor. My heart fell when I saw the cracked screen. You can only imagine how much I cried that entire afternoon. Spigen Ultra Hybrid Nexus 5

Luckily, despite the shattered screen, it still functioned well and  we had it sent to the LG service centre in Rome. It costs 190 euro to fix it – about half of what it costs to get a new one. Spigen Ultra Hybrid Nexus 5

And I’m bothered by how the edge doesn’t seem to close properly now despite assurances by the technician that it’s very small. But it’s like seeing that one dead pixel on your screen. It’s very annoying.

All this could have been potentially saved with the 20 euro bumper. I got the one with the transparent cover because I like the idea of how it lets you see the back of my red Nexus 5, which I think is beautiful. Spigen Ultra Hybrid Nexus 5

Reading a number of reviews online, the “scratches” that you see on the cover are actually two protective layers that needs to be removed on each side before you use it. The layer is extremely thin though, and you’d be forgiven if you thought that your cover arrived damaged.

The cover is a perfect fit and encases the phone like a glove. The colour doesn’t match with the actual colour of the Nexus 5 – it’s more towards maroon red than orangey red but no matter. It also makes the phone look a bit more bulkier but it’s not so bad. I am enamoured with the grip texture of the cover which means that it is less likely to fall when I hold it. Spigen Ultra Hybrid Nexus 5

There is a ridge on top, which means that even if you put the phone facing down, it doesn’t touch the surface, making it less prone to scratches and dirt. Spigen Ultra Hybrid Nexus 5

(Still trying to get used to Lollipop. It’s so hipster)

Initially I got the transparent cover to show off the beauty of the back of the Nexus 5, but there are two cut outs included in the box, and after trying it out, I really love how it looks like and how I can personalise it. In fact, I was so inspired that I designed one for myself. Spigen Ultra Hybrid Nexus 5

Not enough ink in the printer! Oops! But in the end, Cart helped to print it out for me :-) Spigen Ultra Hybrid Nexus 5

I love how it looks like as it’s quite unique.  What do you think of it? If you like you could download it in PDF format and print it out for yourself or even design one on your own from the template from this link here:-)

All in all, I’m very happy with my cover. I only wish that I had the foresight to get it earlier!

Completed the 90 day body revolution!

I’m not sure if you’ve watched this video of the first woman to complete American Ninja Warrior.

A better quality video here.

Watching her go through all the obstacles was so impressive that I was left enthralled and inspired. She’s like a real life Lara Croft!

The obstacles even looked fun and reminded me of the ones that I went to for school camp. For a brief moment, I wondered if there was something similar (but less daunting) in Rome. I found the Spartan Race while searching online although I’m hesitant to join as it seems quite demanding. 30 burpees for every obstacle you fail to pass. Yikes!

Body Revolution

Anyway, the past 3 months I’ve been busy doing Jillian Michael’s Body Revolution where you do 4 circuit training (or phases) and 2 cardio exercises, 30 minutes each, a week over a course of 12 weeks.

Here is a taste of phase 1 :

It started out as something I wanted to do for fun. As I did her 30 day shred before, naturally I wanted to progress to something a little more. I liked that we didn’t need any fancy equipments – all we needed was a stretch cord, a mat and some hand weights all of which I already had. By right we are advised to have a pair of 3, 5 and 8 pound weights but all I have are a pair of 1 kg and 1.5 kg weights which I use together in combination for the heavier weights.

Body Revolution

For those who have already done the 30 day shred would probably find weeks 1 & 2 easy. Jillian uses quite a number of familiar moves like bicycle crunches and chest fly’s. Nevertheless, I still feel sore the day after. I regularly find myself red faced and completely drenched with perspiration at the end of each workout. Body Revolution

Each workout changes every 2 weeks and gets progressively harder, with the same philosophy I suppose as a P90X workout where your body doesn’t adapt to the same exercises, preventing a plateau and get continuous improvements.

Seeing physical changes didn’t take very long neither, and by the end of the first month, I could already see changes in my tummy, chest and arms. Although admittedly my tummy pack disappears as soon as I eat a meal.

Nevertheless I’m quite happy with how I look like. I feel that I’m more toned compared to how I looked like before and I enjoy looking at my shape in the mirror in the nude.

At the end of the first month. Please excuse the splotchy mirror : Body Revolution

At the end of the second month : Body Revolution

And at the end of the third month : Body Revolution

My arms and shoulders look so different! At the risk of sounding so conceited, but It’s hard to imagine that I am even trimmer compared to myself in 2012.

If you were wondering, I haven’t lost any weight with this program, which is good as I didn’t plan to. I think I’ve reached my optimal weight at 56 kg. I probably could look even leaner if I followed the diet that Jillian recommends, but with my experience after doing the marathon this year, I’d prefer not stick to a  daily 1200 calorie diet as I am a fairly active person and eating too little will make me very tired and grumpy.

Now that I’ve finished the 90 day workout, I’m taking a break. In all honesty, I don’t know if I want to continue with it again. Even though I loved the results, I find myself always procrastinating when it comes to workout time, considering that it is only 30 minutes, which is not a good sign.

There were times when I didn’t want to exercise at all as I felt weak from the workout from the day before. I had to remind myself that I’ve already done so many weeks, it’ll be a waste to quit now. The time when I felt most motivated was in workout 12 when everyone cheered and clapped at the end.

Body Revolution

(Image from Gosh, Jillian looks crazy evil here.

And there were those times when I find myself in pain and left hobbling a couple of hours after doing the exercises. I seem to still have issues with my left knee and I don’t want to risk injuring it  and had to modify my movements. This training has A LOT of jumping and squatting which is not good for those with bad knees.

But who knows what will happen in the future. Hopefully my knee will grow stronger and maybe I could find something else to challenge myself for the fun of it.

If you’re thinking of taking up the 90 day body revolution, be forewarned, it’s VERY tough especially from week 3 onwards and can be quite a commitment. But it works in the end. It really works. Give it a try if you have the courage :-)

And so I end this post with a picture of my posterior courtesy of the body revolution. Body Revolution

Kim K who?

Diary of a Singaporean now living in Rome, Italy