Here is the recipe to try out in the next mango season. Its quite marvellous - rich, creamy and decadently "mangoey" with the slight saltiness of the cream cheese. Truly a delight, so easy that its a must try.Read More
This cake is so good and so easy. And it looks so complicated that its such a crowd pleaser. The chocolatey base with a thin layer of nutella - acts like a lovely frosting. Then the light, airy and smooth whipped cream with a hint of vanilla adds a beautiful texture contrast to the chocolate cake. Added to this the tart, sweet strawberries with cream and nutella and chocolate cake. Agreeably the best Santa cake ever...Read More
To me ice cream is the rite to rebellion. When I build a Sundae, I want to break all the rules. I want to build an imaginary world with gobs of colour and textures. A playground for the mind. A combination of ice cream flavours and chocolates and sauces and fresh fruits and crunchy nuts and sugar sculptures.Read More
I took a step back and thought of what would be a simple and yet elegant dish. The beauty of the plum was the varied colours, the deep plum hue of the skin and the varied shades of red and pink of the flesh. The tarty plum fruit had the perfect makings of a sorbet. I decided to pair the sorbet with a caramel sauce to cut the sourness and add a sprinkle of salt and pepper for contrast.Read More
Come spring, every year around holi, mom and I prepare a huge batch of Thandai powder. Thandai by definition is something cooling. Its a mixture of ingredients that help you replenish your salts and sugars after a hot day in the sun. Two things that I enjoy making with Thandai is Thandai cake and a Thandai Lassi.Read More
A cup of coffee and a cookie is the best indulgence ever. I was craving chocolate chip cookies one rainy afternoon. After a brief google search that...Read More
What he meant was that he would make cookies that his Grandma always made for him - the recipe of which she was taught in school, during the war. So, they are technically not war cookies - cookies being offered to the enemy for peace, to stop bombing their cities or anything - they were just popular during the war since they used ingredients that were easily available. None-the-less, the name for the cookies is catchy and intriguing - so I will refer to them as "Grandma's War Cookies."Read More
He promised it would be better than sex. Each bite would explode and tantalize every part of the tongue. I believed him because Anand is a tremendous cook and everything he has made for me in the past has been stellar. I also know Anand would not talk lightly about sex and even though food and porn and sex are some of the most over used clichés, I had a feeling this pie would be mind blowing.Read More
And he whipped and whipped and whipped. Not too fast. Just vigorously and much without a break. He was worried that too much will make it into butter. We both stepped in and helped him, but he controlled the transformation for the most part. It was a tough job. It required stamina and strength of the arms. Slowly and steadily from heavy cream it formed into a semi solid, light and fluffy none the less stiff peak.Read More
I would cook turkey marinated in tandoori masala for a whole day, stuffed with winter vegetables such as onions, potatoes, radishes, ocra, eggplant, whole garlic, chilies etc. I would make baked sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows, pumpkin pie stuffing and cream cheese rolls, baked cauliflower (my mom's recipe), bacon wrapped shrimps. butternut squash stirred with garlic and oregano, caramelized onion pie, mash potatoes, warmed bread rolls and green bean casserole. Others would bring with them pecan pies, pumpkin pies, chocolate cakes and we would all indulge in the festivities with rounds of wine, beer, whiskey and my favourite Jagermeister over ice.
Why do I not have photos of these dinners. Well simple, when cooking for 20 people you dont have a moment to step back and take photos.
Well that was a different era. A different life.
A few days back I had the opportunity to meet Chef Faure of the famous culinary school Le Cordon Bleu at the Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai. The Chef was in town as part of the 10 day French Pastry festival and was giving demos on pastry making and working with other Chefs and Souschefs in the Oberoi kitchen.
How to make dessert truly Masterchef style:
Chef Faure explains:
Designing a special dessert for your loved ones takes emotion, color & technique.
Conceptualise with the main ingredient.
The chef picked truffles as his ingredient for dessert for us.
Truffles! truffles! those delectable beautiful warm smelling expensive mushrooms. I've had it once before on a beautiful chicken dish but never in dessert. How how will it work? I could not wait to see this come together.
So truffles goes well in brown sauce on chicken, froi gras, so how will it work on dessert.
Well it has to be a warm sauce- it should be a caramel sauce! On some fruit like pears. The pears should be poached in sugar syrup. Leave the stem on so that it does not look like its from a can.
The soft texture of the pear contrasted with something crispy and light.
Puff pastry ofcourse!
Puff pastry with fresh pastry cream, a generous drizzle of caramel sauce with truffle bits served with a dollop of ice cream.
What a beautiful idea. If only I had the skills to bake as well. But I did photograph the chef putting it together. The chef explained the dessert in half French and half English- animated with his hands clearly passionate. After all he did make dessert for the Prince of Monaco.
Presenting Chef Faure:
|Avanika enjoying the dessert|
|I gave the chef a hug.. it was a beautiful dessert.|
|Mumbai! The view from the Oberoi|
The sweetness of the pears and the pastry cream went smoothly with the sweetness of the caramel. The bits of truffle were earthy, crumbly that spread a warmness behind my ears.
Every bite I took I felt like Hans Landa from Inglorious Basterds as he sat across from Shoshanna chomping on the freshest strudel with the freshest cream. Coffee for himself and milk for poor poor poor Shoshanna.
Click here for the recipe.
I wanted to add something before I sign off. Two years back on Thanksgiving day I sat horrified in front of the TV as I was getting dinner ready for friends watching the 26/11 carnage unfold on the news. But today the city seems to be back to normal. It was constantly in the back of my mind, as I sat at the Oberois- the events that unfolded two years back.
I think of where I am today. I have a lot to be thankful for. I miss the wonderful friends I left behind in Chicago, New York, Texas- best friends- unconditionally for life- many of whom I may never see again. (I hope thats not true and atleast we have skype).
Today I have a new life with new people in it- school friends, college friends, blogging friends, design friends, Ogilvians, Landorians, Wabi Sabi Women, neighbors, cousins, mom and dad, Janu and Pepper.
I have a lot to be thankful for.
I was very excited to hang with these two ladies again. First off- I grew up watching Maria Goretti on MTV back when MTV actually prayed music that was cool. Second off- I think her husband is a fantastic actor and my younger sis Miss Cultured Purl is a big fan of his. And lastly I love hanging in the Le15 Patisserie kitchen. It is a space I love to unwind in and watching the baked goods being made in bulk is really fascinating. The smell in the kitchen is heavenly of sugar and butter and chocolate and watching Pooja work is a pleasure.
Pooja and I were both excited to learn to make bread from Maria. I for one cannot bake and was really curious to see the process. I was surprised at how simple the bread making was. And why wouldn't it be after all it is the most consumed food product in the world.
Maria - without referring to a recipe put together a fabulous basil, onion and garlic bread. Her energy was infectious and my camera loved her. She kneaded and kneaded and kneaded and slammed the dough and rolled it and let it rise and kneaded it more and slammed it and folded it and shaped it and let it rise before it went into the oven and magically became bread. Warm, soft, flaky, garlicy on the inside and a thin crunchy crust on the outside.
So here is the recipe. It is also available on Maria's blog (I think her cute 6 year old actually baked this one)
250 gm flour
15 gm fresh yeast
125-150 ml water (but i mostly use an approximate amount, depending on how its going)
1 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of salt
Pinch of Sugar
2 small onions sauteed
15 garlic cloves also sauteed
handful of basil (torn)
red chili flakes
So after 45 minutes at 220 degrees - this is the beautiful bread. The smell of freshly baked bread is incredible.
I was also amazed with the ease with which Maria cooked in Pooja's kitchen considering the space was unfamiliar.
I took the remainder bread home with me as Maria had to leave. My mother ablsolultely loved the bread.
Before I arrived, Maria and Pooja designed this cake. I got to see the cake going out it was adorable and beautiful.
Thankyou Maria Goretti.
The crust was soft and biscuity and the filling was creamy and very tangy and not overly sweet. I am a big fan of lemons and with each bite I squinted my eyes in tangy delight...Read More
When I showed up at her kitchen in Elphinston, I was amazed. It was a fully equipped professional baker's kitchen. When she mentioned to me over the phone that she lives in her kitchen- I honestly thought she lives in her parent's kitchen baking. I had not comprehended the seriousness of her business. This charming, soft-spoken entrpreneur is all but 24 years old who went to cullinary school at the Cordon Bleu in Paris before moving back to India and opening her own Patisserie. The name Le 15 Patisserie represents her address is Paris. How charming. More so Pooja has a retail outlet in Worli and next week will open her second one at the Good Earth in Parel. Wonderful!
So why was she icing 3000 cupcakes you ask? Well for a charity event for Salman Khan- Being Human (oh yes! totally yummy). The cupcakes were going to be a thank you for coming kinda thing. As we hung out, I photographed her staff (around 5-6 people) and her all icing cupcakes, we talked a lot about food ideas, experiments, orgainic foods and ingredients. What I loved about her process was that every thing she baked was from scratch. Every ingredient was picked out so much so that the fruits that she uses are grown in local farms around Mumbai. Its the essence of her baking. Its why the passionfruit macaron tasted so amazing.
She even mentioned that in one of her interviews someone asked her what cake mix she uses for her sponge cake and she answered quizzically that she actually uses butter, sugar, flour and eggs. Makes sense why would you not make it from scratch if you are going to make the yummiest sponge cake.
As the evening went on, I watched her staff work quietly and efficiently making fresh icing for each batch of cupcakes, measuring the temperature of the cream, mixing in the ingredients and applying it on the cupcakes. They worked neatly and quickly. Even her dad dropped in to check on her. You could see how proud he was of his young daughter's accomplishments. She told me that he was the big factor where she was today- he always wanted her to be an independent entrepreneur, to take risks and to build herself up on those experiences.
I asked her what her work week was like - she worked in her kitchen 7 days a week, 12 hours a day. (On Friday when I was in the kitchen with her she intended to work late into the night and get back really early next morning). She gave her staff a day off, but she was there everyday. I suddenly felt really silly whining about coming to work one Saturday last month. She seemed incredibly calm for someone who had a huge event the next day catering for the likes of Salman Khan and opening a brand new outlet within a week. No frantic calls, no yelling, no Hell's Kitchen. Every one worked calmly and methodically. Occasionally she would tease her staff that they can't run away since I was taking their photos.
Pooja likes to experiment, using fruits and liquor. Her favourite new discovery was an apple amaretto macaron dedicated to her best friend (favourite drink I believe). What fun! We talked about more food experiments and why we loved what we did. We talked about possible collaborations and such.
Soon mom and dad came to pick me. I invited them in to see her kitchen. Clearly they were impressed. They tried her macarons (their first) and they were also in love. Mom and dad are always proud of young folks doing their own thing and showered Pooja with their blessing. I was also very proud of her. I was happy to be part of her process. And it was a delicious, gorgeous process. A complete joy to photograph.
100gms sesame seeds
1. In a skillet, caramelize the sugar till its a light golden brown (or if you like your caramel a little bitter, like I do, a dark golden brown) and stir in the sesame seeds.
200gms dark cooking chocolate
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons whiskey/brandy/rum (as per preference of poison)
1½ teaspoons of ginger garlic paste
1½ teaspoons of freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons of coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
Pinch of salt
2 chicken breasts cut a little smaller than bite size (or four thighs, as per preference)
For the curry:
2 tablespoons cooking oil (olive or sunflower)
1 large onion, finely diced
1-2 green chilies (as per spice threshold) cut into three pieces and slit along its length
100ml coconut milk
½ large lime/lemon
1. Mix all the ingredients of the marinade and put it aside for at least half an hour. (Anand the fantastic host had everything prepped before we came in - onions chopped, chicken marinaded, house cleaned, music playing etc. etc.)
2. Once the chicken has marinaded, heat the oil in a skillet or wok and sauté the onions till they are translucent, on the verge of turning golden brown.
3. Add the chicken with the marinade and cook till the chicken turns a light golden shade. Drizzle a little coconut milk on it (just enough to moisten the meat) and add water, enough to submerge all the chicken. Cover and let simmer for 25 minutes.
4. Once simmered, add the remaining coconut milk and stir for another 5-8 minutes. Squeeze in the lemon/lime juice, taking care to avoid dropping the pips into the curry. Stir and add salt to taste.
5. Garnish with chopped coriander, if you're into that sort of thing.
6. Peppercorns can also be added at the onion sautéing stage, but I prefer not to because I don't like hard peppery interruptions in the texture of my curry.
1 large onion
1 large tomato
1-2 green chillies (again, as per spice threshold) cut into three pieces and slit along its length
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
1½ teaspoons of ginger garlic paste
100 ml coconut milk
2 tablespoons cooking oil (olive or sunflower)
2 teaspoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon red chilli powder
1. Sauté the onions and chillies in oil, till tender and translucent. Add the masala powders and cook till the aroma of the spices fill the kitchen (taking care not to burn it).
If you like the prawns tender, cook for 2½ minutes. If you want them well done, and not hard, cook for 3½ minutes.
Add salt to taste and serve.
(Curry leaves can also be added with the onions and chillies in the beginning, if inclined towards curry leaves)
100gm butter (one Amul butter pack)
100gm white sugar
100gm apricot, dry
½ nutmeg, powdered
2 tablespoons grated ginger
Orange zest from one orange
Pinch of salt
1. Chop the apricot very very fine.
2. Mix the flour, salt, baking powder, sugar and breadcrumbs.
5. Butter a mould and pour the mixture in, smoothing it down flat. Cover the top of the container with foil, and place in a pressure cooker or crock pot with enough water.
6. If using a pressure cooker, let it cook for 15 mintues without the whistle/weight on, and then for 30 minutes with.
7. If steaming, it'd take between 2-3 hours.
8. Make sure there's enough water to last this duration of cooking.
9. Upturn the mould on a plate and cut into pieces. Serve with fresh custard. (Though we did not eat it with custard).
The drinks- A spontaneous Sangria
White wine, plums and oranges
The Star Performers- Pepper Chicken Curry, Malabar Prawn Curry, Chocolate Mousse with Sesame Snaps and Spotted Dick.
The Guests: Lahar, Sid, Sangeeta, Hemant, and me.
The Chef: Anand
Anand finally taking a break and sitting down to eat
Hemant and Anand cleaning the last bit of the prawn curry
Oh yes! The food was as tantalising as it looked. The curries were tangy and coconutty and spicy. The chicken and prawns was cooked to perfection (thanks to all the timing that Anand had us keep). With rice and the onions it was a perfect meal. However we had to keep room for dessert. After all we all wanted a piece of Spotted Dick.
The chocolate mousse got darker after refrigeration. I did not want to think of all that butter and double cream. it was silken and smooth and dark chocolatey. (note: I am completely incapable of remembering to take a photo- after a couple of bites I remembered to take a picture).
Lahar and Sid in the pictures above. Eating the mousse with the sesame snaps as spoons.
Every bite of the spotted dick was infused with orange zest and ginger. Two of my favourite flavours. The raisins were warm and oozed with sweetness. I personally enjoyed the spotted dick with the mousse but I can see how a vanilla custard can make a wonderful pairing. The photo does not do justice to the preparation but it was lovely and the house smelt amazing.
Oh! And it is definitely spotted! For steaming in a pressure cooker- that thing sure turned out well.
After this meal I was in a food coma but Sid was eagerly showing off his yoga skills.
Sitting on his haunches on the window sill as Sangeeta slips into food bliss.
The lovely Lahar doing the dishes. (Note the spotted tights).
And finally a thank you to Anand for cooking up this intense meal. It was delicious - cant wait to try another experiment of yours- squid curry or tiramisu maybe!