Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Cookies for Papa Santa?

This year, choose a healthy bite for our Papa Santa. And I have you guys covered already with 2 amazing recipes. These cookies are a killer, a great snack for your family, as well as the adorable Santa who is about to step into your house to give you your deserved share of happiness.. 

 



                          





Enjoy these all through the holidays! Merry Christmas!! :) :D

Ho Ho Ho Christmas!!!

Christmas is around the corner, and you must go out to celebrate the 25th in style. Many options are opening up throughout the city, but if I was in Mumbai this time, I would have preferred to head to my favourite Marine drive, after a sumptuous lunch at the classic Gaylords. They have a wonderful Christmas inspired menu, including some Indian delicacies and western. And don’t forget to pack some of that sugary yummy plum cake back to savour through the holidays! Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all you lovelies out there!! Cheers!!

I leave you with some pictures to savour through the festive season! 
Chicken Yakhni

Coq Au Vin

Cream of Broccoli Soup


Mediterranean Salad

Plum Pudding with Brandy Sauce

Strawberry Romanoff

Monday, 22 December 2014

Being Me!

Being a mother has changed my life in many ways that I had not thought about. It’s different, full of untold- unfathomed adventures. I am never alone. I always have a little companion by my side, who quite unselfishly smiles and laughs at my coo, chooses to eat a cookie made by me over the lavish breakfast spread provided by a 5 star resort and gets extremely happy to see my friends pouring in to chat over cookies and tea. He is a fine gentleman, a happy kid; but at times I do miss being left alone. To being and meet me, as Antara Roy, not as a mom, a wife, a daughter-in-law, or a boss; but simply as Antara Roy, a food writer! It is not easy to write with a toddler moving about the room, and hence I thought that I deserve to meet myself, just for a couple of hours, away from home yet close. And just like that, I packed my lappy and landed in StarBucks to sit by the window, sipping tea, watching the crowd and madly typing away.  

The hassle free WiFi and the quick service of the outlet really adds on great points. I was sitting there on the comfy couch with an easy charger point and a hot steaming cup of tea; the perfect setting for a writer like me. I met myself up there, in that crowd; and somehow everything seemed perfect! 

This is my story of #HowWeMet. If you have one for yourself, let Starbucks know about it by posting it up on http://www.meetmeatstarbucks.in/

Cheers!! 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Savouring the festivities- Fish in Orange Reduction!!

Everyone this season seems to be baking some delectably rich cakes, pies and pastries! Ah the cinnamon-y coffee smell that permeates through the house while we bake in our delicious treats is so welcoming. I love it and I am sure every one of you reading me right now, do as well. And hence I don’t feel like writing about it at all. A baking marathon later, you actually are left with very little patience to sit and write about the same sugar cakes and cookies. But my oven is standing sturdy this season. It is allowing the tired baker in me to entertain my guests with a flashy dinner in seconds.

Yup, you guessed it. In this festive season of buttery baking, I am going to write about healthy savoury baking. It’s such an easy recipe, and takes absolutely no time to pull off this meal for a last minute visitor at your house. All you need to do is to keep a stacked up freezer with fresh fishes from the farmer’s market or haat, some fresh/frozen peas and oranges.


The premise of this meal lies on the freshness of the produce you buy. While peas frozen will not affect you, but a frozen fish definitely will. I added a bit of leafy freshness to the plate too in form of a 2 second recipe of wilted spinach and pea pureed with a hint of mint. The orange reduction just brings all of these flavours together, and how beautifully so. Its restaurant worthy dish, and friends of yours will remember it long after the plates are cleared.

Ingredients

Roasted Pomfret
2 Cleaned and fresh Pomfret fish
2 tart limes/lemons
Salt and pepper to taste
1 inch piece of peeled ginger
Olive oil

Pea Puree
1 cup Boiled pea
1 clove of garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Green chilly to taste
A handful of mint leaves
Olive oil

Wilted Spinach
A big handful of cleaned spinach leaves, roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil

Orange Reduction
2 oranges zested and juiced
Salt and pepper
A teaspoon worth of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Method-

We will start with the fish as it will take the most time to cook, but while that happens, we can get all the rest of the components ready.

Preheat you oven to 180 degree C.

Salt and pepper the fishes thoroughly and set it aside for 5 minutes to marinade.

Slice the lime and ginger in thin rounds. Put these rounds in the pocket of the fish with some olive oil massaged on the meat. Now transfer the fish onto an oiled baking sheet and oil the top generously.  

Roast the fishes at 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes. The time of cooking would depend on the size of the fish. So on the 15 minute mark, check the meaty part of one of the fishes. If the meat is all white, it’s done. Any streak of red means it needs another couple of minutes to be cooked.

Once the fish hits the oven, get a pan on medium heat with some olive oil and finely chopped garlic. Let these both come up to the temperature together. Once hot, cluster on the cleaned, chopped spinach, and let it wilt uncovered. Salt and pepper to taste. I keep it a bit crunchy, that’s why I never chop the spinach too small, but I wait for the water in the spinach to dry up. It takes me about 2 to 3 minutes to reach the kind of crunchiness I like.

Now put all pea puree ingredients in a blender and blend up till it reaches the puree texture you like. I microwave my fresh peas, adding most minimum water as possible. I puree it without eliminating the water. As my blender is really old, I blend the puree in parts. First goes in the garlic and green chilli, then mint; and finally the peas. I don’t blend the olive oil in the machine. Instead I like to topple out the puree in a serving bowl, and mix salt, pepper and oil by folding with a spatula.  

Juicing fresh oranges can be a bit time consuming, so I normally get one of my guests to come in the kitchen with me to help with juicing. Fresh orange juice hits the pan on a medium heat, and let it bubble to reduce to half its quantity. Once there, take it off the heat and season to your taste with salt, pepper and Extra virgin olive oil. Whisk it well to emulsify. In case your reduction turns bitter, balance it out with some sugar a fresh lemon juice. Mine didn’t and it was perfect as it was.  


And just like that, an epic dinner is made- Simple, elegant and delicious! I really hope you give it a try, following all my tips and tricks. Cheers!!

Friday, 5 December 2014

Bhopal - Thoughts & Beyond!!!

Holding a pen to paper comes with a great responsibility. Maybe in this day and age, we are holding on to a laptop, furiously typing away; but that as well comes with a far greater responsibility. 6000+ hits every month means someone, somewhere is definitely reading what I write here. And that adds on a larger role, much larger than just creating recipes or reviewing restaurants. It is important to sometimes sit and try to create awareness on pertinent issues of life. I have always read and seen the arguments of ‘for’ and ‘against’ using organic food. But a movie was what I needed to come to a conclusion of sorts.

This week, Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain opens up in a theatre near you. As you can guess very well, it’s a movie based on the infamous Bhopal gas tragedy, which took over 10,000 lives instantly, while many more victims are dying each day in the heart of India. Sevin, the fertilizer that was made cheaply in a plant situated in the middle of the town, has been banned all over the world now. Maybe, just maybe if it was done before, we might have saved so many lives!


The story is set in 1984, where an unskilled worker (Rajpal Yadav) faces a crunch of work, and struggles to make ends meet. Warren Anderson, comes as a god to him, to establish the factory- UNION CARBIDE; keeping everyone in dark about the negative impact it might have on health and wellbeing of the sleepy town of Bhopal. The Government connives, and health officers don’t have the time to research on the chemicals processing in the plant.  The callous management doesn’t care about the safety, and instead employs unskilled labour from the street to run important posts of the factory. 1 death sparks an interest in the local journalist, but no one has the time to read or react to his stories. And then the inevitable happens. Joyous occasion of a wedding is turned into a saddened storm of death and destruction, thanks to the gas leak.



The story is written quite thoughtfully, and each character delivers in the movie. The choppy camera movements could have been avoided in the first half, but the 2nd half made perfect sense in every way. It’s surely a movie not to be missed, and surely a movie that would spark off quite some arguments about eating organic or not. But then again, I ended up asking myself, even if I choose to buy organic labelled fruits, veggies and groceries, am I 100 % sure it is fertilizer/pesticide/other chemicals free? The movie has chronicled how the Carbide’s foreign as well as Indian management spread lies and misinformation about chemicals inside the plant. How they chose to not take any measures of precautions, just to cut down on the cost of production. That scene obviously keeps a doubt in my head whether today as well, we have grown enough to deliver on our promise, or are immature enough to cheat for greedy gains. The arguments are endless and long. We are what we are, even if we are a nation of cribbing Indians. Greed does take the good out from all.  And hence, I have come to the conclusion of actually taking that much of time to peel my in/organic fruits, to cook my in/organic veggies till soft and to soak my in/organic grains to minimise the attack of chemicals in our everyday life!

Movie Cast- Rajpal Yadav,Tannishtha Chatterjee, Mischa Barton, Martin Sheen, Kal Penn, Fagun Thakrar

Friday, 28 November 2014

Twe-cipe: Paprika Squids

A lazy Friday afternoon is a perfect way to wring in the weekend! Remembering the crazy week that was and the crazier weekend that's about to hit you. So here is a quick twe-cipe to suffice that thoughtful hunger. Twe-cipe is a wonderful concept. Its basically a recipe that can be tweeted using less than 140 characters, which is the limit of a single tweet on twitter. Wonderful because this would mean a fast and easy recipe, that anyone and everyone can make. Today for lunch, I decided to go the healthy fast food way, and thus here is my twe-cipe; which is perfect at any time of the day, and made in exactly 10 minutes.
The ingredients have no specific amounts. use as much or as little as you may wish to. 

Ingredients
Generous amounts of Butter
4 Squid tubes cut as rings
Half a pod of Garlic, peeled and minced
Salt
2 huge pinches of Paprika
A pinch of Dried Oregano (optional, but highly recommended)

Method


Dump in a generous amount of butter in a wok with fresh minced garlic. Put on medium heat stirring occasionally till the butter melts and the garlic perfumes through the kitchen. 

A big pinch of paprika and oregano (optional) hits the wok next followed with fresh cut squids rings. 

Stir and cook till the meat is tender, keeping a watchful eye on not overcooking it. Salt it as required, and serve along with crisp toast to soak in all the flavoured butter and fresh cut salad to balance the richness! 

Fast food in all its healthy glory! Cheers!! 

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Masala Library- Expensive yet not Quite There!!!

Food is a rather subjective matter. Being a recipe developer and small level manufacturer in the industry, I have learnt it through experience. Some like it hot, while some like it sour. Basics might remain the same, but generalising something in today’s fast paced food industry is very difficult and pretty impossible. So what remains for a restaurant of this era to keep afloat, is to either add drama in food or add exquisite ingredients in it. I understand and follow both these principles well. But, my question remains, is it enough?
Galwati Kabab- quite yum to taste
I am not a reviewer/food critic. But I like to eat good food. I have liked home style food served in a business hotel, as much as I have liked a simple grilled fresh pomfret at the shores of a touristy beach. Innovation adds a flare, but not always so necessary. Recently I have had quite a few misses while dining out. And I just want to write and let the world know that it isn’t ok to serve bad food or chipped crockery or wrong information about food. 

I have craved to step into Masala Library for long. Their cuisine is different, and involves a lot of innovative thinking and drama on the table. Jigs kalra and his recipes have always been an inspiration to me, since when I was in school. And then u add the blitzy new words like molecular gastronomy and innovative Indian food, you ought to end up craving. It’s a busy restaurant and reservations are pre-booked for almost a week. On 2 occasions I couldn’t get a table, so on my birthday, hubby booked one in advance for 10.30pm service. 


Thandai Shots and Bun Maska
We walked in early at 10.15, and obviously the table wasn’t clear yet. What do we do in the middle of a business park, in a restaurant which has no waiting area? How difficult is it to add a few high chairs on the mahagony bar to create some seating area for guests who arrive early? 

Anyways, it was still an important day and we laughed it off with maître D. The chef’s tasting menu looked tempting, and we decided to order 2 portions of it, paired with wines along various courses. Molecular gastronomy greeted us the first, in the form of an amuse bouche portion of Thandai shots. The thandai was accompanied with a bready stuff, that the server was not quite sure what it was. After inquiring, we got to know it was an interpretation of bun maska, butter being inside the bun. So far OK. 
Mishti Doi Pops- Molecular Gastronomy
The starters started coming in, and they all were quite a thing of delight. Pork with bhut jholokia, the hottest chilly from Assam was my favourite till then. The sommelier paired it well with the wines, but as soon as the main course arrived, she left from the service, and no one followed up from where she left. We had to literally ask the server for the following wines during our main course. Such callous service in a fine dining setting is so unacceptable.  As we neared the end of our main course, chaos increased and we could hear things heating up in the kitchen. 
The Main Course with the yum Duck!
Big loud screams echoed through the dining area, and servers got more nervous than before. And then they committed the biggest miss of the evening, served the dessert in a chipped plate, from all sides. After paying 10 k for the evening, the arrogance of the staff towards not even owning up to the problem was a bit hard to digest. It being a birthday celebratory dinner, the booking was confirmed with the promise of a surprise called chocolate cage. That too never reached our table. How much so ever I wanted to like the dinner, it left a very sour taste in our mouths. Such careless mistakes are not accepted from the management of a fine dining restaurant. 
The famous Jalebi in the chipped plate.
After reaching out to them through social media, I did get a call back to inform that the plates are changed and to extend an invitation for a revisit. I do not know whether I would like to visit a restaurant to check if the chipped plates have been changed. But more importantly, i want this 'chalta hai ' attitude of these expensiive restaurants to be gone. I am not ready to take up the excuse of it being a bad day up there. I eneded up paying quite some moolah for the bad day, and thats unacceptable on many counts. 
Another view of the same plate. It was chipped on all sides!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

The Old Fashioned Dhokla!!!

This is one of the quickies I rely on for my tea time. But it’s not an easy dish to master. And especially when it’s that easy to buy it from a local mithai walas, you somehow let the thought of mastering it, wander off. But I stood my ground and mastered the right technique to get the spongy little savoury gluten free bites I so love and adore. Move over ENO fruit salt, the best professional results are never instant. Move over microwaving, steaming can’t compete in time with you, but you can’t compete in quality as well.

My dhoklas are yeasted and steamed in the old fashion way, and trust me when I say, it’s a delight beyond all imaginable standards. This is a basic recipe, feel free to improvise. I would be making newer versions of it quite soon.

Ingredients
Dry ingredients
1 cup gram flour/chickpeas flour/besan
¼ tsp turmeric powder
¼ tsp red chilly powder
¼ tsp dried parsley leaves
½ tbsp salt, or to taste

Wet ingredients
½ cup warm water (or more, if required)
1 tsp ginger paste
2 tbsp homemade curd at room temperature
½ tsp instant yeast
3/4- 1 cup of water, for soaking dhoklas
2-3 tbsp white granulated sugar
1 tsp vegetable oil

Tadka
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tbsp mustard seeds
10 curry leaves or to taste
1 tsp finely chopped green chillies
1 tbsp grated coconut fresh (optional, I didn’t use)
½ a small lemon, juiced

Method

Mix all dry ingredients together, whisk until no lumps remain. Set it aside.

In the warm water, add the yeast and let it proof for 5 minutes. I like to do this additional step even when using instant yeast as it lets you be 100% sure of the yeast working. Once frothy, add the curd and ginger paste, mix well.

Now mix the dry and wet ingredients well and whish till no lumps remain. To aid softness in your prepared dhoklas, add 1 tsp of oil to the batter, at this stage. Batter should have the consistency of banana milkshake.

Oil a steamer pan well, and pour in the batter. Keep it in a warm place for 1½ hours to 2 hours, till the batter is airy and almost doubled.

Put the pan in a preheated steamer and steam it for 20 – 25 minutes or until the toothpick inserted in the dhokla comes out clean with no wet batter sticking to it.

Let it cool for 5 minutes, till when you can prepare the tadka.

In a tadka pan, heat oil and splutter the mustard seeds till fragrant. Switch off the heat and add curry leaves and green chillies in the hot oil. Let it fry in the residual heat till aromatic.

Loosen the sides of the dhokla, and tip it on a deep dish/platter. Cut it in cubes and pour over the hot oil along with the tadka, distributing it evenly.

In the same tadka pan, mix the sugar and water, and put it for boiling on a medium flame. Once the sugar is dissolved completely, reduce the flame and let it boil for a minute, and then take it out of the heat.

Add the squeezed lemon juice, and pour the syrup on the dhoklas.

You may feel it’s too much of a water to pour on, but the gram flour will absorb all the liquids. Allow this to stand for 45-60 minutes until the syrup is completely seeped in.

Garnish with fresh grated coconut and serve.



Thursday, 6 November 2014

Paired- Cocktails & Malvani Food Festival

Husband has been out travelling weeks long at a stretch. Complaining about the rich hotel food. At least quality was a check in the 5 star property, but even the diet food would contain huge amounts of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. How much can a 30 something take in on a daily basis?

I start this article with a lot of personal rant. It’s no fun keeping away from home and home cooked fresh simple food. We realised it the hard way! And then, Sofitel decided to do something about it. It created a menu for the very first time that was curated by 2 homemakers, to be served in the Pondicherry café. I figured, it couldn’t have come in a better time as this. Being one of the two luxury hotels situated in a busy business park; it was a great initiative. It made perfect sense in my head as this would mean 2 things- foreign guests would be fortunate enough to taste authentic Indian food, while the Indian guests missing ghar ka khana would be able to taste that as well. I am all in for this concept by a business hotel of this virtue. And I hope many more such hotels; especially the one my husband has perched himself in, should as well.
I went on a busy Saturday of the Malvani Food Festival, and saw a jam packed café. The ladies who curated the menu were sweet, polite and quite proud of their achievement. The smiling chef who got this idea and helped them with this rather impressive feat was beside himself with joy. The food was done exactly as the ladies liked; and after tasting, I knew they liked their vegetables more than the meats. It was simple yet hot and rather tasty. All in all a great evening spent.
But I went there with an agenda. To find the perfect pairing cocktail to the awesome malvani spread that we ate. The newly appointed star sommelier, Sagar Nath; took it as a challenge, and devised three perfect cocktails for the evening which went awesome with the spicy fare as the malvani food boasts of. He kept the flavours clean, sweet and spicy together. These drinks will go very well with any of our Indian cuisines, especially the dishes with heavy amounts of coconut and spices.

Pineapple-Velchi Martini
45 ml ketel one (vodka)
3 pcs of cardamom crushed
10 to 12 fresh pineapple pieces
Muddle the crushed cardamom and pineapple well. Top it with ice and shake well.
Pour the vodka in a chilled rimmed martini glass. Double strain the muddled mix in the glass.
Stir and serve!
Was perfectly paired with the spicy vegetarian food that was served. The cardamom (velchi) was a wonderful addition and complimented the flavours of the food well. And the addition of sweet pineapple cut down on the hot quotient of the food pretty well. This cocktail would pair well with Punjabi hot tandoori kababs or spicy goan sausages as well.

Rum Zuniper
45 ml Dark Rum
15 ml Amaretto
10 ml Simple Syrup
15 ml fresh lime
1 hot green chilly slit, depending on the hotness-the seeds could be removed.
Muddle half the chilly in a shaker and add all the rest of the ingredients in.
Shake well and serve on the rocks, decorated with the other half of the chilly.

This goes well with Puri/Wade/Luchi and red meat curry; a combination that Indians love from the bottom of their hearts. It’s a warm hearty drink on ice, served to chill your palettes. The sweetness can be adjusted according to taste.

Espresso shots
1 shot of espresso coffee
45 ml Gin
15 ml chocolate syrup
Put all things in a shaker full of ice, and shake it well.  
Serve in a chilled sherry glass.
What a perfect way to end your rather heavy and spicy Indian dinner. Who could have thought gin could be transformed into a liqueur so well.

All these cocktails would be a great addition to your Indian themed Christmas parties. Cheers!!

Monday, 3 November 2014

Conflicts for a New Mommy!!!

An old article of mine irked me today about superstition surrounding the beautiful journey of being a mom! A friend was advised to drink ghee for a hassle free labour. Another was advised to eat brinjals to cure back ache. Where do these theories stem from. I don't know how, why and what; but I don't want to believe in any of this nonsense. Being a new mom is stress enough, hope you add some humour through this. Happy Reading!!!


So finally, he arrived!! After the 9 months long drill, I couldn’t wait to take him in my arms… It was different, he was red like a tomato, eyes tightly shut by the heavy eyelids; felt like a little mountain baby in my very eastern bong hands. I was a first-time mom, and it was the first time I held such a tiny creature. I was beyond elated and blissfully unaware of the days and nights ahead!! But that story of how I embraced motherhood is for my journals to bear. Here I am more interested in bawling around how a new age mommy deals with her baby, her house, her hubby and her work… oh!! Did I forget to write Indian?? Let me reframe then; ‘I am more interested in bawling around how a new age Indian mommy deals with her baby, her house, her hubby and her work.’

Why such emphasis on Indian, you ask? Simply, because we have got it too easy; it’s too easy to outsource and delegate. Baby Bathing-outsourced, cooking-outsourced, baby massage- outsourced; you name it and it can get outsourced. Where else in this whole wide world can you find this luxury? But again, luxury ensures a cost. Our traditional society has designs for a new mommy already made. And thus it is the tryst of this modern mommy to understand, embrace and somewhat rebel (ah, the best) these designs…

Myth: eat limited after delivery, especially water as it leads to obesity…

Really, and then what… Drink ghee and full fat milk which will keep you lean?? Eating moderate helps, but not limited. Eat what you have eaten all your life. Do not restrict. If you are breastfeeding you need a lot of strength from proteins and stamina from carbs. No point shying away from it. Pictures are evidence enough that even Aishwarya Rai didn’t!!

Myth: beer and wine helps in lactation…

How much so ever I wanna scream ‘it’s true and I love it’, sadly it isn’t true!! Though one glass in a couple of weeks won’t kill anyone, yet ensure you breast feed after a couple of hours of drinking it. Let your body get enough time to absorb and break alcohol, before it reaches the baby.

Myth: no rotis/chapattis/breads of any sort for 40 days after delivery

This is one of my favourites that I heard of. Apparently wheat is not good as it will lengthen the time taken for one to heal from delivery. Come on people, use logic to your limited knowledge of science. Whole-wheat is the best kind of carb you should subject your body to for the first few weeks after delivery. It is one magic ingredient that will heal your body as well as give stamina for you to do the onerous task of feeding and caring for a newborn.

Myth: post-partum depression is for the weak hearted.

And the weak hearted can be easily sorted out because they have 2 noses??!! Baby blues happen and you are bound to feel it one way or other. One stray comment on skin colour or the shape of nose can put you off or lift you up. Trust me, better days are up ahead. And there is no shame in owning up and doing the right thing.

Saving the best for the last…

Myth: baby boys put in disposable diapers turn out to be eunuchs.

Oh goodness!! I feel like taking a bat to run after these so called educated people suggesting these in a cosmo city like Mumbai. Where did our education system fail? How come people are so blissfully unaware of biology of our bodies?? Though using disposables will blow out a huge hole in your pocket and ozone layer, but u will surely get grandkids to put on cloth diapers!! :-p

Having mentioned about cloth diapers, if you are a mommy and you read till this point, you might wanna try out these amazingly innovative products afloat in the markets of today. It’s a completely washable diaper, designed to leave kids dry on skin, while soaking up the pee and poop and keeping it in without visible accidents. It’s leak-proof, adorable to look at and very cost effective in the long run!! If you need more info about these, write in a comment and I will get back to you!!



Eat well, stay loved and spread care. Cheers!!

Friday, 31 October 2014

Poha Based Multi-Grain Cookie!!!


Poha/Chire in a cookie, who would have thought that?? I am sure a lot of you would be reading this recipe just for that name of it. For all my non-desi friends, let me translate and elucidate. Poha is the Indian name to beaten rice. It’s a favourite breakfast item, eaten everywhere in India, with veggies or dairy products. 

"Flattened rice contains no cholesterol and saturated fat at all. Also, the sodium content is very less and thus the calories in the beaten rice are not harmful. Moreover, it contains nutrients like iron, vitamin C, vitamin A and calcium too." Source- foodlve

I personally have never come across a cookie made with thus, or rather any sweet dish made with it. But, I had to do something crazy, and hence added my beloved poha in a multigrain cookie I was making for my little guy.

My little guy is in a very weird stage right now. He loves to eat, but prefers eating porridges over biting food. He is just too lazy to chew, a practice I am really keen that starts soon. So I took the longer route of introducing him to biscuits/cookies that excites him enough for him to start chewing like a pro. The road is long, but my thoughts are focused. And this recipe is an outcome to it.

Nutritionally, this recipe is quite well rounded, but if you prefer sweeter cookies, replace the brown sugar with its whiter counterpart. For us, it was perfect as we can’t eat things too sweet. Don’t cringe on butter, as that is what will bind the dough and bake it to crisp perfection. The beaten rice, though used only a half cup, will impart a great texture to the cookie. Feel free to load it with chocolate chips, dry fruits and nuts; I didn’t as my 1.5 year old will not be comfortable chewing on such hard things.

Ingredients
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup Poha/Chire/beaten rice
1 ½ cup oats
1 cup refined flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons salted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A handful of dried cranberries to decorate

Method
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, oats, Poha, baking powder and baking soda. Set it aside.

In large bowl, use whisk to cream the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add an egg and vanilla. Beat until well mixed.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients until mixed to form a rather sticky cookie dough. Mix in the nuts or chocolate chips, if using.

Use a 2-tablespoon scoop to drop rounded portions of cookie dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. (If you don't have a scoop, roll 2 tablespoons of dough into a ball with your hands.) Space cookie dough about 2-1/2 inches apart on baking sheet. Flatten them slightly and bake in a pre-heated oven for 14 minutes until its brown and crispy around the edges. It will remain still slightly soft in the middle. Cool completely on pans before removing.


Cheers!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Holiday In Style- Nikko Bali Resort and Spa

Living in style is for a select few, but holidaying in style is for everyone.

Living in style is decided by your bank balance, but holidaying in style is decided by your will power.

So here I go with a series of “perfect holiday of style” reviews and/or ideas… Very important to note that the views captured here are of a foodie traveler, always in search of a perfectly romantic setting; in a comfortable, yet restrained budget of an upper- Middle class couple. Hope you enjoy the journey here in…
Place: Bali is wonderfully touristy! It’s got sea, greenery, an active volcano and a vibrant culture full of all kinds of performing arts. The Balinese paintings and dance are obviously something not to be missed in this island.

Nikko Hotel, Nusa Dua
Bali, Indonesia

Overall: To find the lap of luxury, I feel privacy is a must. And that’s what you will get in abundance in Nikko Hotel, Nusa Dua. Located a little distance away from a strip containing all the rest of hotels in Nusa Dua, it’s got a serene beach exclusive to the guests of the hotel. The hotel stands on a cliff, wherein, you enter from top and travel down to your room, a unique design I say!! The maze of rooms in every wing of the “cliff construction” can be a bit difficult to fathom, and so getting lost in the search of your own room may be packaged along with your trip.

Dining experience: I don’t think a luxury resort is a good place to dine and boast. And Nikko Hotel was not any different than that. The breakfast spread and service was good. It catered to all sorts of popular oriental and occidental dishes. For the meals, ‘Benkay’ and ‘The Shore’ have great options. The Japanese dominated Benkay offers a lot of oriental fares along with sushi and sashimi. We had the pecking duck and loved the fact that the host gave us a bit of info about the dish and the way to eat it traditionally. But again, we went in a time when the crowds were gone, the host had a lot of time on his hand to make us understand their food!!

‘The Shore’, is the perfect place to plan a romantic dinner on the beach. The wooden plank with lounging couches, which goes on the beach overlooking the sea… Sigh!! Heaven!! Its designed perfectly for a romantic time away from the crowd. Though the food is unimpressive, the extensive wine list is the best on the menu.
Nikko bali doesn’t specialise in local favourites, so I highly recommend going out for a meal or two. All the big restaurants and spa facilities do pick-ups and drops and so staying away from the city doesn’t really pinch that much.

Positives: the pool is one of the cleanest that I have seen, complete with a water slide and a bar. They also offer a jacuzzi kind of pool which is an amazing place to relax. The rooms are spacious with all amenities, and the in room service is great too.

Negatives: I found the spa and the food to be really unimpressive. Balinese massage is a must, so I recommend going to other places for a couple or single massages.
Cheers!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

I-Can-Cook Workshops

They say, ‘to the world you may be just a teacher, but to your students, you are a hero!’ Starting on such a spiritual mode has never been me. But I am emotional this time. For this coming week I would be holding a workshop for the little kids of our neighbourhood, trying to make them learn and love the magic of cooking. It’s a magic that happens in a pan, when hot oil meets masala. It’s a magic when milk curdles to form paneer. It’s a magic when solid sugar melts in heat. And it is this magic that I want to ILLUMINATE these kids with! 


The curriculum is simple and easy to grasp. I want to go back to the roots of our Indian culture with the kids, and tell them how we thrive in our day to day life. I am excited!! It’s a fun-learn module and I will finally be a hero in some little sparkly eye! So if you reside anywhere close to Chembur area, Mumbai; come and enrol your kid to these super workshops conducted by Miryaa- the centre! I will be handling the I-can-cook module while other colleagues of mine would be handling the rest of the awesome modules planned. It’s a weeklong workshop, with all required details below!


Cheers and hope to see you there!!


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Pre Diwali Party!!!

Are you looking for that perfect snack for your Pre-Diwali Cocktail Party? Perhaps, the full meal? Depending on how many guests you are hosting, keeping it simple and fresh is the only suggestion I can give you. Below, I mention all my favourites, the recipes I have developed for you over the years, which is so perfect and so simple to put together. Some have great drama involved too, which might be a wonderful party activity to involve your guests in it. So here goes the list of all my favourites-

Appetizers

Perfected Chicken 'Booby' Kababs on a Stove Flame!!! 

Sometimes I like to burn things in my kitchen. Yes, and deliciously so… this is a wonderful activity to involve your guests in as well. Fun and frolic in the kitchen, with cool drinks flowing in; heaven, don't u think? Same recipe could be used for prawns or baby-corn, and can be barbecued as well on an open terrace. Be creative and plan your party with your individual tastes.


The Crispy Masala Carp!

I like to include a star dish in every course surrounded with easy to put snack or side dishes. For appetizers, this is my star dish, which I surround with various dips and chutneys and serve it along with pop corn, chips and a finger salad. Perfect start to a great party.


Atta-Go Cheese Bites!!!

Another of my dish that can be prepared earlier and served cold or luke warm to the guests. It’s a carb filled appetizer, which will fill your guests enough to let u linger on the party till late.


Masala Nuts on a Plate! 

This is definitely my favourite thing to serve, and for my guests to munch on. Trust me, the tag home-made adds a beautiful twist to it as well.

Mains


The Art of Layers: Lasagne 

For the time when you feel party should be all about indulgent gourmet food, which is rather easy to put together, but is a wow dish altogether.


Summery Delight – Pesto Pasta and Preserved Lemon Salad 

When keeping it gormet, and yet healthy is what you desire. This simple spread would be perfect for it.


Weekday Dinner with Paneer Gravy-ed and Sumac-ed Cous-cous!! 

What if you desire a fusion vegetarian spread for your guests? This particular recipe is a desi-videsi mix of balance, and pretty healthy at it too.


The Biryani Express!! 

I always love dishes that can be prepped earlier for me to get time to mingle with my guests during a party at home. And this is one of my favourite things to do, one pot dish but yet so light and festive. I keep everything half cooked and layered, but finish off just before serving. This recipe is best if steamed in a proper steamer, but the pressure cooker method works wonders too.

              Pudina Subz Biryani

Desserts

Labourious Love: Fresh Strawberry and Orange Ice-cream 

Diwali this year seems really hot for many places in the country. And hence an easy semi freddo styled ice cream would be a great option. Opt for packaged strawberry crush instead of fresh strawberries or flavour with other fruits! Give it your twist, but follow the recipe and technique to the T. No need for an ice cream machine in your kitchen, I guarantee!


Nutella Mugsy!!! 

Oh what an indulgent little thing, and it can be adapted in many ways as well. Make it hot, right before serving and offer a dollop of cold vanilla ice cream along! Heaven in each bite!!


My Rustic self: Baked Apples!! 

And if you are hosting a healthy fresh spread this Diwali, the dessert too has to sing out a fitting reply. These rustic little bites of soft fresh cooked apples would be perfect for the occasion.


Vanilla-Milk Jelly with Chocolat-Shaves 

But if you wanna keep it indulgent healthy, like I always do (lord Buddha’s Middle path) then these little wiggly guys are gonna be your friends for life. They are indulgent and luscious, while remaining very healthy indeed.



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