Monday, December 30, 2013

A weekend in Bhopal

When in Bhopal do what Bhopalis do; eat pohe - jalebi in the morning with rounds of kadak chai and loads of bakar (random conversations about anything right from the weather to politics). The city is sleepy and slow still you will see people getting up early in the morning just to eat pohe, jalebis and kachoris fresh from the wok. That's exactly what I did on the first day; woke up to watch sunrise from Kaliyasot Dam which is a 15 kms drive from Shahpura lake. The lake is equally beautiful early in the morning and a perfect place for bird watching. Thick fog floating over the lake during winters gives it an almost mysterious look.


After soaking in the early morning sun and the view we took a pit stop at a sweet shop in Nehru Nagar to eat jalebis, pohe and hot cup of Banwari Bhai Ki Nakhrali Chai. Every nook and corner of Bhopal serves this simple yet delicious breakfast early in the morning. On a chilly winter morning when you don't want to leave the blanket, stepping out for crispy hot jalebis is worth all the trouble.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nature's goodness from Godrej Nature's Basket + Gazpacho Recipe

The most important question first; have you checked out Foodchants' Kitchen? What? No? Do it NOW NOW NOW! http://www.foodchants.in/p/foodchants-kitchen.html

Second question; Do you know what happiness is? Happiness is to have loads of awesome ingredients in your kitchen to play with, plenty of crazy ideas and insane amount of good food at the end of the day. This Monday when I reached home from work I was jumping like a happy bunny. The reason was a hamper from Godrej Nature's Basket which had some fresh mulberries, bok choy and edible flowers from Trikaya. I had some strawberries and oranges with me and I just couldn't stop myself from taking this picture. The colours look pretty, don't they?

It has been a long time since I ate fresh mulberries. Used to eat them as a kid at my Nana-Nani's house in Uttarakhand. 


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thai salad with Maggi noodles - One bowl meal

Do you know what I love the most about Japanese and Thai food? The one bowl meals. The dishes are fuss free to prepare, there's no headache of plating and they are full of nutrition - a good balance of protein, vitamins and carbohydrates. So tonight I thought of throwing together a one bowl meal. I took the Thai salad recipe from Good Food Magazine's November issue and added my own twist to it. There weren't any noodles at home except for Maggi so I used them without the masala. It tasted pretty awesome. I am sure you're going to love it too.



Ingredients
French beans (chopped diagonally) - 1 cup
Shallots (chopped) - 2
Boneless chicken breast (boiled and shredded) - 1 cup
Lemongrass - 1 tsp
Red chilli (sliced) - 1
Ginger (grated) - 1 tsp
Mint leaves (chopped) - 1 tbsp
Thai basil (chopped) - 1 tbsp
Maggi noodles - 1 packet
Soy sauce - 1 tsp

For dressing
Coconut milk - 2 tbsp (you can use 1 tbsp coconut powder if you're out of coconut milk)
Oyster sauce - 1 tbsp
Sweet chilli sauce - 2 tbsp
Garlic (crushed) - 1 clove
Juice of half lemon
Salt to taste.

Method
  1. Simmer French beans in salted water for about four minutes. Make sure they are partially cooked and the bright green colour is intact.
  2. Throw beans, shallots, ginger, chilli, lemon grass, mint leaves, Thai basil and chicken together in a bowl.
  3. Boil Maggi noodles in 11/2 cup water. Throw out excess water and add soy sauce to the noodles. You can keep the water if you want your dish a bit soupy. Mix noodles with the salad.
  4. Now mix all the ingredients for dressing together and add it to the above mix.
  5. The one bowl meal is ready. Eat away!
  6. You can replace chicken with fish, prawns, eggs or tofu.

Suhaal with boiled potatoes - A snack from Uttar Pradesh

If you've ever wandered in the bylanes of Lucknow, Banaras or any other city in Uttar Pradesh you must have found people snacking on something beyond kachori and samosas. These crispy, savoury pastries called suhaal. Since its eaten with spicy boiled potatoes you can also call it a disentegrated samosa. Now, we don't have enough places that make decent UP style samosas or kachoris in Mumbai so finding suhaal is out of question. So this Diwali when I was craving for some I thought of making it for brunch. Sharing the recipe was the obvious next step after we gobbled down all the suhaals with the yummy potatoes. By the way they can also be eaten with pickle or boiled, spiced white peas (also know as ragda in Mumbai). But trust me, potatoes are the best. So go ahead, try the recipe and let me know how they turned out.


Ingredients
Maida or all purpose flour -  250 gms
Oil - 4 tbsp for flour and 500 ml for frying
Ajwain - 2 tsp
Salt 2 tsp

For potatoes
Potatoes (boiled) - 3 medium sized
Spring onion - 1
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Roasted cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Lemon juice - 1/2 tsp
Fresh coriander (chopped) - 1 tsp
Salt to taste

Method
  1. Mix maida and oil till all of it is soaked in oil.
  2. Add ajwain, salt and water and knead it in a tight dough.
  3. Make small balls and roll each one into thin disks.
  4. Prick them with a fork. This is to avoid them from puffing up while frying.
  5. Now cut each disk into halves, fold every half to form a triangle. Use a little water to stick the corners together.
  6. Heat oil in a wok and fry the triangles till they turn crisp and brown. Don't fry more than 5-6 at a time.
  7. Remove and keep aside. Let them cool down.
  8. Peel and mash the potatoes, add all the ingredients and mix.
  9. Serve the crispy suhaal with spiced, boiled potatoes.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Food/Product Review - Chef's Basket

Around 7-8 years ago when I was new in Bombay and stayed alone, cooking wasn't my favourite chore especially cooking for just myself. My dinner used to be a masala dosa from Anna ka thela or a simple dal chawal. There was a time when I tried the ready-to-eat meals from a brand called Parampara which made instant curries, dal etc. I think it's still available in the market. Parampara made decent easy-to-cook meals but the thick creamy curries were in no way close to home-cooked food. Since then I sort of stayed away from pre-cooked food depending mostly on my own cooking.

A couple of months ago I had tried the Knorr easy-to-cook meals and they would've been a disaster if I hadn't added my own ingredients to better the dishes. And recently I tried the All You Need Recipe Kit by Chef's Basket. The product is launched by four IIT Alumni under their company Fizzy Foodlabs.


Apart from the packaging (they pack the food in easy-to-carry triangular boxes) what's interesting about the Chef's Basket is that all the ingredients are packed separately allowing you to add the ingredients according to your your taste.Right now they have three dishes; a Mexican burrito kit (Rs 350) , penne pasta in creamy tomato sauce (Rs 250) and penne pasta in Arabbiata (Rs 250). I tried the burritos and penne pasta in creamy tomato.



The burrito pack comes with six burrito wraps, brown rice, black beans, Chipotle salsa, jalapenos, Mexican spice mix and a soon to be launched Mexican salsa. I found the burritos just about average and a bit bland. If you are trying this recipe I'd suggest you do away with the brown rice and throw in loads of lettuce and vegetables to add a bit of crunch. The sauces are spicy so be cautious while pouring them on your burrito.



The penne pasta with creamy tomato sauce which comes with penne pasta, tomato sauce, green olives, mixed herbs, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt is recommended and enough for two people. The sauce is thick, creamy and tastes very close to the home-made one. You can add chicken, bacon or mushrooms to make the pasta richer.




The Chef's Basket recipe kits are perfect for those who don't fancy cooking everyday or want a quick fix dinner on weekdays.

Website: www.chefsbasket.co.in
Twitter: @ChefsBasket
Facebook: Chef's Basket

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Potato and spinach salad with yogurt dressing


Salads; they are healthy, fresh and yum and I can live on them forever. This new salad that I tried was inspired from a recipe on sanjeevkapoor.com. It's a jhatpat recipe and makes for a great lunch and what's not to love about a salad which has potatoes and spinach in it? Don't believe me? Ask the minions....


Or Popeye...


Or just try this recipe...


Prep Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves: 2

Ingredients
Potatoes - 3 medium
Spinach (blanched and chopped) - 1 cup
Macaroni (cooked al dante) - 1 cup
Red and yellow bell peppers (chopped) - 1 cup
Shallots (finely chopped) - 1 sprig
Olive oil - 2 tsp
Lemon juice - 1 tsp
Black pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

For dressing
Yogurt - 1 cup
Garlic (chopped) - 2 cloves
Roasted cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

Method
  • Pre-heat oven at 200 degree Celcius.
  • Peel and cut potatoes into big cubes.
  • Grease the baking dish, place the potatoes on it, drizzle 1 tsp olive oil, salt and pepper on them and let them roast for 20 minutes. Prepare rest of the stuff (blanching spinach, cooking pasta, preparing the dressing etc.) while the potatoes are cooking.
  • Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a pan and saute the shallots. Keep the aside.
  • Mix all the ingredients of the dressing with the yogurt and whisk it.
  • Once the potatoes are crispy and brown mix them with spinach, macaroni, bell peppers and shallots. Add the lime juice and mix in the dressing.
  • A glass of white wine will go well with it.

My Doodle recipe is a part of Easy Doodle Recipe contest at BlogAdda.com in association with TastyKhana.com

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Restaurant Review - Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra

Two days before Masala Library threw its doors open to the public I visited the fine dining restaurant for lunch. Zorawar Kalra, son of Jiggs Kalra accompanied me and guided me through the tasting menu crafted by the young Chefs Himanshu Saini and Saurabh Udinia.

Masala Library is the new addition to the ever growing list of fine dining options at Bandra Kurla Complex. The brightly lit interiors, beige chairs and stone textured walls might not leave you awestruck but one look at the menu and you know that the restaurant means business when it comes to food. The restaurant focuses completely on Indian regional cuisine enhancing it using modern techniques.



As we sat down to begin our meal our server brought a bottle of hand sanitizer. I realized that the staff takes after their boss when Zorawar produced a small sanitizer bottle which he carries around in his pocket. The meal began with amuse bouche, bite sized display of molecular gastronomy. We were first served Yoghurt spheres & papdi chaat where the yogurt was converted into a soft ball, topped with chutney, sev and micro greens and accompanied with a flat papdi or cracker. The yogurt ball burst in our mouths releasing yogurt and green chutney; a complete scientific take on the street food keeping all the flavours intact. Next arrived Sevpuri on the go made with wild rice puffs served on a miniature cycle rickshaw handmade by craftsmen in Delhi.





It’s not just the menu at Masala Library which takes inspiration from scientific cooking, there bar menu includes molecular mixology based cocktails too. I tried the Star anise martini - gin based cocktail topped with star anise foam. Surprisingly despite its strong flavour star anise didn’t overpower the drink and only gave a subtle hint of its existence. I was surprised when our server appeared with a tray carrying cups, a tea-pot, powdered milk and tea leaves because I was clearly not expecting tea in the middle of our meal. The tea was actually mushroom soup or Wild mushroom chai (Rs 325), the tea leaves were dehydrated mushrooms, milk powder was deconstructed truffle oil and the liquid was mushroom consomm√©. When mixed with the consomm√© the truffle oil got back to its original form creating a layer of oil over the clear soup making it a perfect comfort food.







The chefs here have played a lot with flavours here to create a dish which truly gives you the essence of that particular cuisine. I loved their version of curd rice; Curry leaf and pepper prawns, thayir sadam, banana crisp (Rs 375) which was served as a salad topped with peppered prawns. It came in a handmade shell placed on a log of a real tree. Environmentalists need not worry because I was told that it’s a recycled piece. The curd rice topped with roasted lentils and curry leaves cut through the spiciness of prawns. The dish was served with a side of banana chips. From the North region we tried the Gilawat kebab, tawa tikka, varqi paratha (Rs 525) made by the cook from the famous Tunday Kebabi in Lucknow. The kebabs were flavourful with a perfect melt in mouth texture and were topped with very tender mutton boti and bite sized parathas. My next indulgence was a meet lover’s delight, Tandoori champ (Rs 595) - a perfectly braised lamb chop with maple and kokum glaze. The meat came off the bone beautifully, had a crispy layer and was flavoured with the sweetness of maple and sourness of kokum. The surprise element in it was the sweet mango pickle which is a regular in any North Indian household. The second drink Curry leaf martini was an interesting take on vodka based martini flavoured with burnt curry leaves.









The main course had the authentic dishes of different regions presented in the most beautiful way. We were served Meen moilee (Rs 610)– a Kerela style fish curry made with river sole, Prawn balchao kulcha (Rs 375) – North Indian bread stuffed with Goan style prawn preparation, Dal makhani (Rs 395), Anar and mint raita garnished with rose spheres (Rs 210), Bhindi Jaipuri (Rs 410) – crispy fried okra on a base of choorma with papad ki sabzi. This last dish was a lovely mix of three Rajasthani dishes making it a blend of various flavours; the sweetness of choorma, crunchiness of okra and sourness of the curry in papad ki subzi. All of this was served with a bread basket which had traditional breads like the Lucknowi sheermal (Rs 125), Persian taftan Rs 125) and Kashmiri bakarkhani (Rs 125). I was dying to eat sheermal since ages but sadly no place makes this bread in Mumbai. Now, I know of a place which does.









I got the taste of molecular gastronomy once again with desserts. The Chocolate (Rs 1000) – brownies with chocolate mousse added a little drama to the meal where the Chef converted mousse into an instant ice-cream by pouring liquid nitrogen over it. The ice-cream was then shattered into smaller pieces and served with hot chocolate. The good old Gajar halwa (Rs 375) was a three way carrot with an addition of gajar halwa flavoured ice-cream and carrot foam. But it wasn’t the scientific cooking that impressed me in the dessert section. I was blown over by the Indian version of cheesecake, the Ghewar cheesecake (Rs 375). The absolutely sinful dessert had a base of ghewar – a Rajasthani sweet, topped with a layer of cheesecake, garnished with flaky rabdi and pistachios and almond chikki and finally thick rabdi poured over it. The combination of various flavours and textures makes it one of the most innovative desserts in the city.











Apart from the varied menu they also serve Pan flavoured candy floss, Nasik orange sorbet with kafir lime frozen air, Frozen mishit doi popsicles as palate cleansers. The Chefs at Masala Library have played with every sense to give an experience which pleases your eyes, nose and most importantly the taste buds. Masala Library takes Indian cuisine to a different level and from what we’ve seen; their aim to be in the Michelin Guide doesn’t look far.

Must try: Curry leaf and pepper prawns, thayir sadam, banana crisp, Tandoori champ, Ghewar cheesecake

Meal for two: Rs 2500+taxes (without alcohol)


Address:
Ground Floor, First International Finance Centre,
Bandra Kurla Complex, Opposite Sofitel Hotel
Phone: 022 6642 4142

Facebook: Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra
Twitter: @MasalaLibrary

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Meeting the MasterChef, Gary Mehigan

 Last one year has been really exciting for me as a professional food writer and blogger. One of the reasons is that I got to meet some of the great Chefs, all of International repute. I met Chef Sanjeev Kapoor last year at a food bloggers' meet hosted at his office in Andheri. Had a chance to meet the Executive Chef of Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Chef Hemant Oberoi during the burger festival at Shamiana. Recently, I interviewed Chef Gagan Anand, owner and Chef at Gaggan restaurant in Bangkok. The most recent one and the one that sent me in a fangirl mode was meeting Chef Gary Mehigan, the host of MasterChef Australia. 

Gary Mehigan was in Mumbai last week promoting Tourism Victoria. He held a masterclass for media at Celini in Grand Hyatt where he demonstrated some of his signature dishes. I wouldn't be lying if I say that I was concentrating more on the charming chef than the dishes. The masterclass was followed by a lunch where we got to taste these dishes that Gary had just demonstrated.

Chef Gary Mehigan at work
 The four course menu was comprised of canapes, entree, mains and dessert paired with Yering Station Chardonnay and Yering Station Shiraz Viognier.

 

Crispy French baguette topped with smoked and fresh salmon mixed with sour cream was light and delicious and I could've easily filled my stomach with these bite sized snacks.

Rillettes of smoked and fresh salmon, rosemary and olive biscuit
I was blown away by the display of colours on this plate; a mix of greens, yellow, red made the salad really appetizing. The ingredients were fresh and that goat's curd absolutely creamy and divine.

Salad of new season asparagus, slow cooked egg, goat's curd and green olive tapenade


The main course was one of Gary's favourite dishes - roasted chicken with crispy skin. The carrot custard was wonderful with the perfectly roasted chicken breast.

Roasted breast of free range chicken, truffled boudin blanc, carrot and cardamom custard, baby carrots, hazelnut crumble, jus gras




This was the best part of the meal - dessert. Gary gave a quick demonstration of the chocolate mousse. Anisha (@TheBlackSakura) was the first one to raise her hand when Gary offered this dessert to the guests. Lucky to eat a dessert coming straight from Gary :D. The mousse was creamy, chocolaty with just right amount of sweetness. The Tuscan cake was Matt Preston's recipe and trust me, this was one of the most amazing cakes I've ever had. The olive oil chocolate was a surprise with just a hint of olive oil and cinnamon.

Warm Tuscan chocolate cake with milk chocolate mousse, salty caramel, oat biscuits and olive oil ice cream 





And finally, this was the moment I will remember all my life, standing next to one of the best chefs in the world.



Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Chef talk with Chef Gagan Anand

I recently met Chef Gagan Anand who owns the famous Indian restaurant Gaggan in Bangkok known for Molecular Gastronomy. I interviewed him for burrp.com's features section Know Your City. We discussed food, culture and things in general over a cup of coffee at Four Seasons.
GaganAnand
Within barely a year and a half of its inception, Gaggan in Bangkok became one of the most sought after Indian restaurants in the world. It now is a staple on Thailand’s ‘must try’ itenerary. We caught up with Chef Gagan Anand, the man behind the radical take on Indian cuisine while he was in Mumbai hosting a private dinner at Four Seasons.

Just back from lunch at Britannia and Co, he raved about the famous Parsi restaurant, though he still prefers his Kolkata style biryani to the berry pulao. We chatted at length with him about our common love, food. Here are the excerpts from the interview. Read more...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mom's special bread samosas - A mix of fried and healthy

Sometimes I love indulging in some seriously unhealthy breakfasts. Most of them are my Mom's recipes. These bread rolls or like Mom calls them, bread samosas are one of them. The dish tastes the best during winters when there are a lot of fresh vegetables in the market. The digestive system also works better in winters so it's best to make it then.


Ingredients
Potatoes - 4 medium
Carrot - 1 medium (grated)
Cabbage - 1 cup (grated)
Capsicum - 1 medium (chopped)
Green chilies - 2 (chopped)
Green coriander - 1/4 cup (chopped)
Dry mango powder (amchoor powder) - 1 tbsp
Red chili powder - 1 tsp
Bread - 8 slices
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying



Method



  1. Boil, peel and mash the potatoes.
  2. Add carrot, cabbage, capsicum, green chilies, green coriander, amchoor powder, red chili powder and salt to potatoes and mix well.
  3. lightly soak a bread slice in abowl of water. Squeeze out the excess water, take a little potato filling and place it in the centre of the bread slice.
  4. Carefully wrap the bread around the potato mix to make a round ball.
  5. Repeat the process with rest of the bread slices.
  6. Heat oil in a wok and fry the samosas till they turn brown.
  7. Serve with sauce, green chutney or any other dip of your choice.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Baby potato and bacon salad + Happy Birthday blog

The blog turns two today, it has been a very delicious ride so far. I started this food blog in 2011 after I started food writing for burrp's features section Know Your City. Initially, the idea was to write restaurant reviews but the blog kept growing and I started posting recipes that I was trying at home. The blog inspired me to bake more often and try out ingredients that I had never used before. Thanks blog and Happy Birthday.


To celebrate the blog's birthday I thought of making something with bacon, my new found love :). I decided to go with this simple Roasted baby potatoes and bacon salad topped with caramelized onions. The dish tastes wonderful with different sort of flavours and textures; the crunchy bacon, sweet onions and pepper roasted potatoes, what's not to like about it. I got the inspiration for the recipe from thecozyapron.com. Here's the recipe with a slight twist.

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
Serves: 2

Ingredients:
Baby potatoes - 250 gms
Onion - 1 large
Bacon - 3-4 strips (depends on how much bacon heavu you want it to be)
Black pepper - 8 (lightly crushed)
Maple syrup - 1 tbsp
Parsley - 1 tsp
Lemon juice - 1 tsp
Sugar - 1 tsp
Kosher Salt - 1 tsp
Olive oil - 2 tsp for potatoes, 2 tsp for caramelizing onions, 1 tsp for frying bacon

Method:
  • Preheat the oven at 180 degree celcius.
  • Peel and half the potatoes. Take them in baking dish, add salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice. Mix well.
  • Roast the potatoes in oven for about 30 minutes or till they are brown and crisp.
  • Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a pan for caramelized onions, throw in onions and sugar and fry till they turn brown. Remove from the pan and keep aside.
  • Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a pan, chop the bacon strips and fry them in the oil. Add maple syrup. Remove from pan and keep aside.
  • Once potatoes are roasted move them in the serving bowl. Top them with maple bacon, caramelized onions and chopped parsley. Serve.
Grab a chilled beer too.


My Doodle recipe is a part of Easy Doodle Recipe contest at BlogAdda.com in association with TastyKhana.com
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