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. 

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


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.

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

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


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!!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...