Travel

Gulnaz Ali’s Recipe – Banana Walnut Cake

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SAILING INTO HEALTH

Gulnaz and SamariaWhat on earth is this photo of a sailing regatta  doing in my Food column? The answer is simple, the young sailing champion Samaria is the inspiration and the reason behind her mother Gulnaz, baking the most unique and  healthy cakes. Having tasted Gulnaz’s baking in Chennai at our “Whats hot tasting session” I realized that I had not taken the recipe for her healthy cake. So when I called Gulnaz from Mumbai, they were in the midst of a sailing regatta in Hyderabad which the talented young Samaria was taking part in. I also requested for an on location photo. Voila! Thanks to high speed internet, here it is.

FROM BANKING TO BAKING

The multi-talented Gulnaz Ali having worked for more than ten years in a successful bankers job quit to take care of her daughter and turned to her other passion, baking. “I did this to keep my daughter’s sweet tooth satisfied”. And then ofcourse, ensured that she not only used the finest and freshest of ingredients but also the healthiest. Gulnaz’s healthy cakes are in great demand, as are her regular cakes.  She has studied baking and taken special fondant classes too. Ask for her scrumptious banana walnut cake. Amongst her regular cakes, it’s the   orange and a Almond cake, hazelnut chocolate cake and strawberry pies…which are her signatures. The recipe for Gulnaz’s part wholewheat cake follows, as do her tips for healthy baking.

GULNAZ ALI, 2/157 Karikata Kuppam, Muthukadu, Near Mayajaal, Chennai. Ph 9840943500/ gulnaz13@gmail.com

 


 

Gulnaz’s tips for healthy baking

*Use homemade cream cheese/ mascarpone cheese instead of store bought. This way you can keep a check on the amount of sugar in the product.

* Replace sugar with jaggery.

* Replace maida with wholewheat flour. Start with replacing 1/4 quantity in the recipe and slowly increase the amount of wholewheat flour used.


 

GULNAZ’S RECIPE

healthy cakePart wholewheat banana walnut cake.

Maida – 1 cup
Whole wheat flour – 1 cup
Baking soda – 1/2 tsp
Salt – 1/4 tsp
Banana - 2, large
Unsalted butter – 1/2 cup
Jaggery – 1/2 cup
Granulated sugar – 4 tbsp
Buttermilk – 1/2 cup
Vegetable oil – 4 tbsp
Egg – 2
Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
Chocolate chips and walnuts/ almonds – 1/2 cup



Preheat oven to 180C. Grease one 8 inch pan. 

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the banana, unsalted butter, jaggery, sugar, buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and fold together with a rubber spatula until completely combined. Coat the chocolate chips with maida and mix into the batter. Pour the mixture into the greased pan and bake at 180C for 30 to 35 mins or till done when checked with a skewer.

 


 

YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE

Do you want to be featured in this column? Like Gulnaz Ali today. Then read on to find out more,The hunt is on, I am looking for baking and cooking talent. Do you bake or cook out of home and so so professionally? Do you know anyone who does so? Please do get in touch with me and we will invite you, along with some others for a “Whats hot tasting session”. After tasting your creations and chatting with you and photographing you, I will then write about you. Please do  email rashmiudaysingsingh2015@gmail.com with the subject CHENNAI FOODLINE. You can also tweet and instagram t @rashmiudaysingh.


FOODLINE

I write this from Gulmurg and I am delighted to hear from you on email, instagram and twitter. Thanks for keeping me plugged to the foodie network of Chennai. Love your foodie news and views…on foodstores, food services, dessert makers, caterers and more. Please do keep calling (9884065010 ) emailing (Rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com) tweeting, instagraming, FB (@rashmiudaysingh). Waitingly yours.

THE DIVINE TASTE OF IFTAR

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It is a dream come true and it happens just before the start of the holy month of Ramadan. I am surrounded by the magic of the spectacular sunset of the Arabian desert (the time when the Ramadan fast is broken) and just then I am regaled with the divine taste of Iftar. Each and every traditional recipe is made with authentic ingredients. As the amazing flavors gallop across our taste buds we are reminded that the lush green polo fields stretching around us are where the shining flanks of pedigreed horses   speed past in a spurt of color and sound. I find it difficult to believe that I am in Dubai, the gleaming, glittering  city of high rises and malls. Here in Desert Palm sprawling over 150 acres, there is silence as Mother nature’s bounty overflows. The sun sets, gilding the handsome palm trees which embroider the desert sky. From the most amazing gourmet cooking classes to horse-riding classes, shishas, global cuisines, Desert Palm has it all. Right now, its pre-Iftar time and I taste and nibble on the most traditional main course of succulent, seven spiced  lamb Kahrouf Mahshi infused with cinnamon cardamom. I mop it up with the traditional four Khubs  with fragrant rice and the Superlative Hammour Harra fish too. We start with the traditional Mezze of creamy    Hummus, Moutabel, Tabouleh  and Fattoush. The crisp skinned  Lamb Kebbeh and  Spinach Fatayar  delights, followed by the hearty and nourishing Yellow Lentil soup.

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THE  SWEET BOND OF IFTAR

Please take a look at the accompanying  photograph and you’ll see how the Iftar dinner brings together all nationalities. Ofcourse, the family Sapti (baby Sapti included) are getting set for Ramadan, as is Ahzar. From South of England there is the  dynamic General manager James Reeves, from Italy, the gifted  Executive Chef David Prantera , India is represented by the talented Chef Anoop  and the lovely Karishma Chopra. And wow!

what an amazing feast  of  Ramadan sweets there is: love the Mafourkeh of toasted bread drizzled with milkfat kashta. Equally delightful is the baked filo pastry with pista and ghee, its called Znoud, which means “lady’s forearm”. Chef Ali Hasan guides me thru this yummy buffet and the baked Omali made of velvety milk and airy puff pastry infused with rose water and blossom water is addictive.  Cant get enough of the Kataif pancakes plump with creamy kashta and crunchy with nuts. After that sweet finale, I sit by the rolling Polo fields under the shimmering night sky and go hubble bubble on the tobacco-free peach flavored sheesha.

 


 

 

Here it is. Just in time for Iftar, Chef Panteras very special recipe…

MANSAF RECIPE

1 KG                       lamb leg with bone / or boneless

200 gms                  plain yogurt

200 gms                  red onion                         half sliced , half chopped

1                      eggs                                 egg white , beaten with a fork untill frothy

25 gms                    corn flour

50 gms                    clarified butter

50 gms                    pine nuts

50 gms                    slivered almonds

15 gms                    water

salt

freshly ground pepper

10 gms                    turmeric powder

10 gms                    all spice

10 gms                    cinnamon stick

400 gms                  basmati rice

10 gms                    cardomom seeds

10 gms                    bayleaf

50 gms                    ghee

3 gms                      dry

Lemon

3 gms                      cinnamon powder

½  ltr                       lamb stock

 

1.Place the yogurt in a thick heavy based pot , add beaten frothy egg , corn flour , salt to the pan .Blend gently with a wooden laddle .

2 . Place the pot over a medium heat , stir with a a wooden laddle , lower the heat as the yogurt can split .

3.Lower the heat and gently let it simmer .

4.Boil the lamb in a pot with Water ,  bayleaf , cinnamon stick , cardamom , turmeric powder, salt to season .

5.Skim the surface for froth  the while the lamb is boiling

6.Heat ghee in a frying pan and add pinenuts  , almonds .fry untill golden brown , remove and keep aside .

7.Add sliced red onion to the same pan with ghee and fry gently untill transparent . add turmeric powder , all spice powder , cinnamon stick and mix and saute well .

8.Add the boiled lamb with this spice mixture with the stock .

9. When the lamb is done , remove and shredd the meat with a fork from the bone .

10. Reduce the sauce more and add yogurt sauce , blend well with wooden laddle , let the mixture boil , add the the shredded lamb and reduce the sauce more .

9.After the lamb has been cooked , keep reducing until the sauce thickens .

10.Heat the clarified butter in a pot and saute cinnamon stick , bayleaf , dry lemon ,chopped onion, minced lamb, add soaked basmati rice and add lambstock and let the rice cook ,add cinnamon powder when the rice is boiling .

11.Once the rice is cooked , serve on a large round serving platter , then garnish with fried nuts .

12.Top the platter with the shredded lamb and mansaf sauce , fried nuts .

A SIP OF 125 YEARS OF HISTORY

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I raise a toast to the very British tradition of high tea (ofcourse I do it with a cup of the finest Earl Grey tea)!

BRITISH HIGH TEA

Over the years, I’ve been sipping and tasting my way through many a high-tea in London’s legendary hotels and each time I salute Duchess Anna of Bedford for having  sent out the invite for “tea and a walk in the fields” over a hundred and fifty years ago. The lovely lady set in motion the most dainty of all culinary traditions.

I raise many a toast to the most legendary, the highly-awarded and the worlds best High teas (which Ive partaken of)…London’s grand historic hotels, The Ritz, The Dorchester, The Lanesbrough and even The Ritz in Madrid and Paris. An amazing tradition which evolved with time…of tea service,  side plates, bread and butter plates, cake stands, and every conceivable accompaniment advancing across the drawing room. Tea gardens, tea dances , a whole code of etiquette followed. Now, Tea Council Inspectors check standards and coveted awards are given every year for the Top London Afternoon Tea and Top Tea Place.

Not just the domain of the society grand dames, this tradition is hugely popular with the younger fashionable set too.

CHINESE TEA CEREMONY

Quite different from the British High tea is the Chinese Tea ceremony. I have attended only one such  ceremony where tea was made in small clay teapots. The pot  rinsed with boiling water and then  tea leaves   added to the pot using chopsticks or a bamboo scoop. “The art of preparing and making tea is called Cha Dao” informs my Chinese host. I enjoy the way the cups are arranged in a circle and the server pours the tea in all of them in one go.

I notice that he fills the cups just over half way. I am told that the Chinese believe that the rest of the cup is filled with friendship and affection. What a delicious thought!

JAPANESE TEA CEREMONY

Known for their stylish and elegant Chanoyu, the Sencha ceremonies, these are worth partaking of.The Chanoyu ceremony takes place in a wooden or bamboo teahouse called a Chashitsu. Plenty of wonderful rules around being calm, washing hands  enjoying the Teishu making the tea using powdered green tea called ‘matcha’ and sitting on the floor around a low table.

 

THE BEST OF THE BEST

2 High TeaSure all the High teas and tea ceremonies Ive attended have been fabulous, but this one, here in Bangalore is easily the best. Please take a look at the photograph Ive shot.  Time stands still, luxurious  high tea from another era is flamboyantly served under the 150 year old Rain tree. Every detail in this 125 year old beauty of a landmark Taj Westend hotel is perfect. The Taj West End was started as a 10 bed genteel boarding house for upper class English Gentlemen by the Bronsons in 1887 and today remains at the top of the world class hotels. I take many trips back in time here in all their bespoke experiences they’re offering to celebrate history. From getting high on their Heritage Champagne Walk, admiring the oldest and first red colored Post Box operational till date, soaking in the Art Corridor  to sitting under the magnificent Rain tree which is older than the hotel and has stood tall since 1848. Here with the  charming colonial 1905 block as backdrop in the Mynt Lawns, I  choose from a selection of delectable treats.

Along with this  Art of High Tea an inspiration from the Colonial era (with a menu crafted for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians)The brilliant  executive Chef Sandip Narang having honed his mastery all over the world and set up award winning  restaurants in India also offers   a well contemplated Anglo Indian Menu that draws inspiration from the British Raj,  of western dishes infused with spices and other local ingredients. At the Westend’s High tea, take your pick… open sandwich of smoked salmon, cucumber and dill sandwich, crispy fish finger with tartare sauce, lemon tart, frosted cupcakes, coffee macaroons, strawberries in chocolate to name a few. Pair it with a wide ranging tea selection from Darjeeling to Monking Jasmine, Earl Grey and Egyptian Camomile.

I’ve been passionately in love with The Westend and been visiting it since many decades. It’s old world charm and colonial architecture blends with the high tech and  amazing  restaurants (including India’s first Vietnamese restaurant, Blue Ginger) weave a memorable spell, The dynamic Somnath Mukherjee ensures that each and every detail is perfect. Over the years, staying in these cottages interspersed over 20 acres of lush greenery and spreading canopies of trees has always been magical for me. I’m fascinated to learn that it was under these trees that Nobel prize winner Ronald Ross discovered the cure for malaria. It was here that Sir Winston Churchill often dined as a Cigar – smoking war journalist; and later went on to become the Prime minister of Britain. It is here that under the ancient Rain tree that I sip (literally too) 125 years of legendary history. This is most certainly, my cup of tea.

NEW YORK FOOD GUIDE

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NEW YORK FOOD GUIDE

Pardon the blasphemy: I write from the original Biblical Paradise. I am convinced that it was this very Big apple that Eve tempted Adam with. So here’s a teeny taste of  New York’s vast, tentacled food scene’s eternally evolving everythingness. My son Dhruv and his friend Tracy help me check it all out…from the low and high, faddish and fun, diabolically tasty, heartbreakingly expensive to the cheapest… happily vegetarians have plenty to eat everywhere.

NYC CULT FOOD AND STREET FARE

Go on. Take to the streets and you’ll be spoilt for choice, from calzones, falafel t to combined papaya juice/hot dog stands corndogs, grilled chestnuts and more. Go for the steaming, paper thin heaps of pastrami overflowing from a sandwich ( Katz Deli ) Manhattan is pizza lovers haven. Lombardis (Spring street) is still my choice though you can pick up a slice most anywhere. A BITE OF HISTORY NYC is where  the Delicatessan (Deli) was created by the East European jews as also the Reuben sandwichSteak Diane,Vichyssoise  and the Waldorf salad . Cronuts being the latest. Crunch on the apple and walnut rich Waldorf salad at the Waldorf Astoria  like we do or step back in time in the old-word charm of Café Carlye (76th and Madison) where music legends have played, we were lucky to hear Woody Allen on the clarinet as we dined on the classic Lobster bisque and Branzino. Cant keep eating fancy ? Do what I did went into the iconic Plaza hotel’s brand new Todd English Foodhall  (1 W 59th street) for affordable fare.

GRANDSTANDS

If you have deep pockets (or like us save up and not shop) then a five hour Italian meal at celebrity chef Mario Batallis 24000 sq ft elegant  Del posto (85, 10th Ave)  is a must. I ate at Perse (Columbus Circle) last trip and found it too frilly and predictable,

FINE DINE DEMOCRATISED

Its also called the “Momofuku effect” And it all started with my favorite fabulous Michelin starred Changs  Momofuku Ssam bar (East village)superlative food. We dine with Viveka Purandare at  Will Guidara’s fabulous NoMad’s (1170 Broadway) lacquered roast chicken with truffles and foie gras to  the mindblowing simplicity of red radishes enrobed in a thin shell of butter. On my last trip we had dined at their “Eleven Madison Park”(10 Columbus circle) …astounding though more formal. OUR CASUAL FLAVORITES Innovative yet comforting Mediteranean fare at Atrio (Conrad hotel, Battery park) chef Antonio Cardoso excels here. Innovative,  inspired supercharged dimsum  at Red Farm ( Second Ave East Village) buzzing Parisian bistro. Balthazar (Spring st) are must visits

INSPIRING INDIA

INSPIRING INDIA AT JUNOON
INSPIRING INDIA AT JUNOON

Michelin starred Junoon (means passion in hindi) (27 W, 24th St) lives up to it’s name and serves up an authentic, yet elegantly modern take on Indian cuisine. And four of us speakers (Hemant Oberoi, Zorawar Kalra Rajesh Bhardwaj and me ) from the Columbia Business school food panel dine in this handsome, high ceilinged packed and noisy restaurant where the hot sexy chef Vikas Khanna creates magic. With us are Revti Gupta, Divya Surana and Kersi Shroff the brilliant masterminds of Columbias Inspiring India.

NIGHTCLUBBING

Whoa we feasted on the  glittering 360 degree view of NYC from the swanky  Top of The Standard (848 Washington street)– formerly  Boom Boom Room –luxurious 70s-inspired glam, with starburst chandeliers, gold plated chairs et al. Equally popular is  that oasis of luxe urban cool,  Dream hotel ( Midtown West)  owned by Vikram Chatwal) exclusive puny Electric Room nightclub  And PH-D, their rooftop nightclub.

DOLLOPS OF GLAMOR

Asia is on steroids at this sprawling new Tao Downtown (92 9th Ave) loud music, seabass satay, dimsum, sake flight tasting and Patrick Duxbury insists we trip out the most decadent dessert platter. We do happily. Beauty& Essex… Walk through a jewellery pawn shop into this gem of a restaurant with sharing mutli ethnic plates. Purvi Thacker and I trip out on Lobster tacos to eggplant pizzettas Love the vibe and  Italian fare at Robert di Nero’s Greenwich hotel.The fluffy pancakes at Three Guys Restaurant (Madison Avenue) and the Greek manager proudly informs that the worlds most beautiful actress Deepika Padukone  has eaten here.


    ROOHI JAIKISHEN RECOMMENDS It was a virtual miracle: it was on Instagram that I got recommendations from Roohi Jaikishen, the discerning gourmet New York addict and followed them too. Amongst them were, Jean Georges Vongerischten at 1920s Paris meets New York, Mark hotel (super steamed shrimp salad.)  Tao, Beauty and Essex, Top of the Standard, Dream hotel Schiller and Arlington recommended by Roohi.


 

NYC CHEAPAND CHEERFUL   I sniffed out some great finds on my eatabouts all thanks to instagram and twitter (@rashmiudaysingh)  I got some amazing recommendations from NYCfoodtastic, Rikin Kadakia and many more. * Artichoke pizza on Mcdougal, *  Xian famous food’s  famous lamb burger ( St. Marks street) all for $3 *Malai Marke for Indian food beats chote nawab or bricklane * Ippudo For ramen noodles and burgers * los taco no.1  (chelsea market,) salts of 100 flavors to finger licking lobsters too. * Woorijip Authentic Korean food, for buffets with 40+ options

ART ON THE PALATE

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I am breathing art, seeing art, hearing art and ofcourse tasting art. In Barcelona, this city of culture, knowledge,creativity and innovation Spanish genius has been nurtured  over centuries…be it Gaudi or Dali or Picasso. Culinary heros like Ferran Adria have blazed global trails and now many more are making an international impact. Infact the first ever culinary book was written in Barcelona in the 12th century.  Barcelona with it’s  architectural masterpiece buildings with floral motifs, stained glass windows, wrought iron balconies and neo gothic details really is like an open air museum.

In the heart of it all, is the oldest Majestic which opened it’s doors in 1918. It  is  timeless, elegant and luxurious and always has been even when it’s nightly rate was just oven ten cents. Today the third generation of the founding Soldevila-Casals family continues to ensure that this “art hotel” not only houses a collection of priceless art but many great artists like Picasso and Miro have lived here too.

VIVA CATALONIAVIVA CATALONIA

Did you know that Barcelona is the capital of  Catalonia, a small nation pursuing independence within a united Europe?  And though it has assimilated cosmopolitan cultures, over a 1000 years, it continues to hold it’’s own roots, culture, language and cuisine in high regard.

I am fascinated by this complex yet amazingly simple cuisine and the high state of gastronomy in Catalonia. Daylight bathes the timeless elegance of the Majestic located in the throbbing heart of Barcelona. It is here that Michelin starred chef Nando jubani weaves his magic.  Along with the masterpieces which regale the diners, it is here too that I request to taste the most Catalan of all dishes…the simple (and now in season)  “Calcotada”.Please take a look at the photograph and you’ll see what I mean. There is an art to eating this specialty which takes a little practice: tip the head back and open your mouth wide, then hold the long white stalk high above and then bring it between your teeth and enjoy it…it’s the ancient ritual of Calcotada, the great green onion feast, which attracts thousands of devotees ever year and has acquired an essential place in the economy of the entire region. It is said that Xat de Benaiges was the first to grill the green onion over a flaming fire over a hundred years ago.  The green onions (harvested November till January) are grilled in advance . I request Chef David Romero to make this ancient specialty and voila! What a fantastic job  he does.  As done for more than a century, the dynamic Santiago Martin, the knowledgable Montse Subirana and I  peel away the smoke-blackened skin and dip the  green onions  in the”salbitaxada” sauce, a piquant sauce of tomatoes, almonds, peppers, vinegar and oil and the simplicity and freshness of the flavors not only seduces but also energises me.

RECIPE: SALBITXADA

Sauce for the calcots …green onions

2 tbsp blanched almonds, 2 bitso peppers, (substitute with red chilli peppers)6 cloves of garlic,  2 ripe tomatoes, skinned and iced, 1 tbsp chopped parsley, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, half cup olive oil, salt and pepper. Method…Heat a dry skilled and toast almonds, crush them coarsely in a morter pestle. Chop garlic and peppers (after deseeding) coarsely, mix with almonds. Add tomatoes, parsley, vinegar and then pour in olive oil gradually. Whisk into a thick paste. Tip: you can use a mixi if you are short of time.

 

It is only in Catalonia that even the war which they lost (in 1714) is celebrated by Michelin starred chef Jordi val in his restaurant “300 el born” where typical Catalan dishes are cooked to their hearty recipes interpreted by jordi in his own brilliant way.

THE BEST OF THE BEST

I landed  in Catalonia only day before and have already been regaled by the most amazing restaurants…At the hot, happening, new bar Brutal Can Cisa in the old city, not only are amazing Catalan Tapas served but also only “natural wines”.

I taste it all…from the three Michelin starred Carme Rustadilla’s  masterpieces in texture and flavor to the homestyle Catalan flavors of the Garrega family kitchen. The 62 year young Carme weaves magic in her seafront restaurant. Each dish is a work of art and artistry and our three hour long meal is a memorable parade of 23 courses. At “Tickets” the Adria brothers, vibrant and fun tapas bar with a twist (and what a twist) wizardry and skill  results in quivering spheres which look like olives and implode with olive flavor, tempura pistachio, artichoke ravioli, the worlds first gourmet beer (with hints of fennel and liqourice) which pairs brilliantly with he food…all created by the famous El Bulli brothers Adria. At their Peruvian-Japanese fusion “Pakta” I am blown away by the ceviches and sushi withPeruvian overtones and Bodega 1900 is a nostalgic return to the good old days. Tomorrow early morning I leave for Girona to eat in the “Worlds best restaura nt” crowned by the London based “Worlds 50 best restaurant academy”..it is called “El Celler can de Roca” and it is a part of Catalonia. Viva Catalonia!

SAVORING SPAIN

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Move over France. Spain is here.  Spanish genius spills over with vibrant intensity, be it art, architecture and especially food. Picasso, Dali, Gaudi and even the Gods of gastronomy (Ferran Adria, Roca brothers, Juan Marie and Elena Arzak) reign supreme.

I’m here in Spain, at most cutting edge frontier of gastronomy. Here global superstars and Spanish wizards have flown in for the most prestigious Madridfusion, the annual, three day foodcongress in the stylish, art and food mecca, Madrid. Its really impossible to distil the flavor of Spain in this short space, so I offer to you a smattering of tastes…

THE FUTURE IS HERE

Unveiling the future, at this three Madridfusion are many a genius. Andoni Luis along with British Scientists announces and demonstrates how we will be able to transmit smell through the internet.  Joan Roca explains how he injects leaves to make cocktails…and the list goes on. The future trends of gastronomy, the best of the best,

are revealed by global superstars who have  flown in from all parts of the world. I hear their views, learn their cooking secrets and chat with them…be it Jose Andres (Bazaar, Minibar) of Los Angeles, the legendary Michel Bras and Pascal Barbot from France, Mehmet Gurs from Istanbul and many more. The suave Joan Roca of the Worlds best restaurant (El Celler can Roca, Girona…where I had a lifechanging dinner a few days ago) is here.Its the Capel family (Esmeralda, Anna and Carlos) who  founded and spearheaded this gastronomique Madridfusion.

 

L1140307 THE FATHER OF SPANISH CUISINE

Please take a look at the photograph I shot  in the midst of this hectic,  pathbreaking Madridfusion. I was lucky enough to meet the father of Modern Basque cuisine, Juan marie  and his daughter Elena (crowned “the worlds best woman chef” ). A couple of days before I had journeyed to the charming coastal town of San Sebastian to their restaurant “Arzak”.

It sure is a memorable experience to dine in Arzak, home  of the Arzak family since 1897 is  constructed by Juan Mari’s  grandparents. His brilliant daughter Elena (crowned as the “Worlds best woman chef”) is the fourth generation of culinary geniuses.

As the leisurely 12 course, wine-paired  meal unfolds it becomes quite evident why Arzak was the first Spanish restaurant to earn three Michelin stars in 1989. Science and technique, art and drama merge to coax flavors and textures out of the Superb Basque produce. Space constrains me to describe only three dishes. Though each and every one was magnificent.

It all starts off with A crushed can of tonic…mango zuchini in a tonic water sauce…clever yet simple flavors.

A dramatic large green dome of seaweed and crispy rice reveals.tenderfirm monkfish in a traditional green sauce of parsley and gsrlic. I nibble on the crspy seawed and rice dome.yum. It’s the finale of the “Hardware shop”  (ferreteria) that I get addicted to….Screws of intense chocolate bolts of aubergine and chocolate. Keys of silver and chocolate unlocking sheer delight. Chocoholics delight.

INDIA IS SHINING

Here in Madridfusion, India is shining. The  Roca brothers of The worlds best restaurant, created a dish inspired by India: the legendary Michel Bras goes on stage to announce that he gets his inspiration from India. Michelin-starred Sergi Arola has set up his signature restaurant in Mumbai. Delhi is next on his agenda. Our very own dynamic chef Himanshu Taneja from the JW Marriott  is making his presence felt.

SPAIN IN MY PLATE?

RECIPE

After eating my way through Spain for ten days, I find that it is impossible to distil Spain in one recipe. However this simple but flavorful garlic and olive oil recipe (known in Spain as) ajaceite or alioli is basic  to Spanish cuisine and surely worth trying at home.

This creamy garlic mixture is especially popular with the Catalans, and the name comes

from the Catalan words all(garlic) and oli (oil).  alioli (pronounced all-

ee-ohlee) consists only of these two ingredients, plus a pinch of salt, and nothing else.

 

ALIOLI

Original version:

3 large cloves of garlic coarsely chopped

¼ – ½ tsp salt

½ -1 cup/125-250 ml olive oil

Lemon juice to taste

 

Pound the garlic and salt to an even consistency, using a mortar and pestle. Then add the olive

oil drop by drop at first, increasing to a thin stream and stirring constantly until a thick

paste is formed. Add lemon juice to taste.

 

Modern imitation:

3 large cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped

½ tsp salt

l-12 egg yolks

1 cup/250 ml olive oil

Lemon juice n taste

 

Cut up the garlic and pound it with salt to an even paste, using a mortar and pestle. Stir in the

egg yolk. Then add the olive oil drop by drop at first, increasing to a thin stream and working it

in by stirring constantly. Flavor with lemon juice to taste and serve cold. A balloon or hand

whisk may be used to stir in the oil if preferred.

P.S.  The test of the cook’s skill is to be able to turn the mortar upside down with the finished alioli  inside, without any of it falling out. Sparkle your food, serve Alioli  with fish,meat, vegetables, rice…take your pick

Want Spanish recipes? Please email  (rashmiudaysingh2014@gmail.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh.

JAI HO! INDIA

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Asia 50 best 1Ofcourse! Its true that a picture is worth a thousand words…but this accompanying photo I’ve shot is worth many more. Please take a look at it:  in it are superstarchefs whose restaurants have been crowned The Worlds best (Joan Roca) Asia’s best (David Thompson) and also our very own India’s best (Manjit Singh Gill, Hemant Oberoi, Manish Mehrotra), not to forget our   Indian in Bangkok (Gaggan Anand) and from Srilanka (Dharshan Munidasa). It sure is time to celebrate.     For many reasons…firstly, am thrilled that so many of our Indian restaurants are being awarded on this international stage. Happy, that Asia’s gastronomy is being given the due prominence it deserves and focusing the spotlight on is the whole team of “Asia’s 50 best” ( Charles Reed and William Drew, editor of  “The Restaurant Magazine” are in the photo too)

THE OSCAR OF FOOD AWARDS

Prestigious, glittering, coveted are some of the words that describe the awesome “Asia’s 50 best” award ceremony. Not only have the whos who of the restaurant world jetted in from all parts of the world, but are here with bated breaths. There is anticipation and excitement and the air is so thick with it that I could have cut it with a knife and plopped it into my champagne glass. William Drew the editor in chief of The Restaurant Magazine flags off the ceremony and whoa! The applause never stops.  Here’s a quick look at our winners.

 

Bukhara

Having stood the test of time, ITC Maurya  (Delhi’s)  North-West Frontier restaurant with its short menu (the same since it opened 35 years ago) continues to draw packed houses. I have eaten here several times (including shot as a judge on Times Now’s  TV show) and this cavernous and rustically decorated restaurant is arguably India’s most famous. Dal Bukhara and Sikandari raan have assumed iconic status.

KARAVALLI

I am so delighted that Bangalore’s Karavalli has made it to Asia’s 50 Best list. I just shot for the Times Now TV show as a judge here and was absolutely thrilled by the consistency, freshness and authenticity in Chef Naren Thimmiaih’s vast repertoire. Old classics are as fabulous as the new additions. Robustly spiced crabs, delicately  steamed fish, velvety curries…I ate them all in the charming alfresco courtyard.

 

Indian Accent

I reviewed Delhi’s playful and eclectic Indian Accent within a few days of it’s opening. And am happy that Chef Manish Mehrotra continues to dazzle with his cookery with a global hue

Chicken tikka quesadillas with Swiss gruyère; tandoori bacon prawns with wasabi cream; masala miso Scottish salmon.

I love the karela enlivened with churan.

 


Dum Pukht

Fine dining taken to it’s finest here. I have filmed my TV show in the ITC’s  traditional temple to  “dum” cooking done lovingly and slowly

in a sealed clay pot. Done  over a low fire intensifies  natural flavors, while the judicious use of aromatic herbs and spices adds another level of complexity to the dishes. The regal ambiance adds yet another dimension of pleasure.

Varq

Luxurious modern Indian food with a global twist a la  Grand corporate  chef Hemant Oberoi

where upscale fine dining gets finer.
The cuisine offers a modern take on local street food and traditional regional dishes using some very un-Indian ingredients such as scallops, black cod, morels, foie gras and halibut.  New techniques, innovative presentations and the use of organic produce and spices.

Wasabi

What! How come a Japanese restaurant located in Mumbai gets an international award?

A collaboration between Japanese Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, and Taj Hotel legend Hemant Oberoi yields specially created Japanese vegetarian dishes which are masterpieces in taste and texture. Tomato Carpaccio topped with wasabi and yuzu sorbet and the black cod miso are my favorites here.

Nihon Bashi

Ive had the most amazing authentic Japanese cuisine in the heart of Colombo at Japanese-Srilankan Dharshan Munidasa’s restaurant.

Gaggan

Kolkatta born Gaggan reinvents Indian food with modernist techniques in Bangkok with plenty of molecular wizardry too.

KUDOS

Not only do “Asias 50 best” and “Worlds 50 best” awards encourage restaurants and promote tourism but also serve as guideposts for us foodies, directing us to the best places to eat in. And then ofcourse, when our very own Indian restaurants get honored, it is time to say “Jai ho”

 

 

Restaurant Review: Buddha Belly

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Diners at Buddha Belly
Diners at Buddha Belly

I am a devout follower of Lord Buddha and was hugely intrigued by the irreverent name of Peddar Road’s brand new “Buddha Belly” eatery. What  on earth could  Buddha’s belly possibly deliver? Nirvana. I hoped.

DÉCOR

Mish mash décor with sayings of Hippocrates.  Brillat savarin and GB Shaw, photos of skyscrapers plastered all over walls. begin to give a clue of what is to follow.Seriously small, it even squeezes in a low ceilinged mezzanine floor.  Malini Patel  and Rupal Himani (who love trying out new eateries) were lunching here. While one’s daughter Malaika  cooks brilliantly, the others  Husband Divyesh cooks exotic dishes .

FOOD

No two ways about it: affordable pricing. Average of Rs 125 for 4 pieces of dimsum and an array of steamed, fried, baked, panfried dimsum. ( okayish Khaosuey  the only main course) Well made and flaky baked dimsum filled with chicken came up tops,   Fried  chicken ball with a sticky.sweet filling was good,  the surprises ?  flavorsome  vegetarian parmesan spinach dimsum, the mixed veggie crystal one. Superb  mustard sauce and lemon grass sauces. Passable coconut mousse and nutella mousse.

MINUS POINTS

Parking is impossibl.No Chinese tea served here. But tasteless sticky rice,  clumpy Suimai. Lackluster Black bean chicken dimsun wrapped in cabbage and that Edamame truffle dimsum is a soggy, sans truffle pouch. Tough chicken and chive Gyoza.

No takeway boxes available. No alcohol.

MY POINT

An open all day, well-priced dimsum joint is definitely a great concept and for that alone Buddha Belly deserves kudos. However, it falters in execution, sometimes delivering  thick skinned wrappers, at other times lackluster fillings. I am hoping these are teething troubles and our Buddha will outgrow them.

Ketty House,  Near Vama, ,Pedder Road Ph  65651545

Open all day. Meal for 2: Rs 800

RATING FOOD 3 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3

 

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A Taste of the Divine

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A TASTE OF THE DIVINE

Surprise of surprises. Here, in this spiritual retreat of a heaven- on- earth, I am being exposed not only to life-changing philosophies but also blowingly new perspectives on food.

Here I am in Isha Ashram. It sprawls below the majestic Velliangiri mountains, Coimbatore. The crisp, cool air of the 200 acre ashram  is  fragrant with flowering trees and plants. Champa and jasmine weave their heady magic. God paints his canvas with a riot of vivid colored flowers and fruits.

And in this paradise too, the fruit trees are heavy with smooth-cheeked papayas, fresh green lemons, glossy mangoes, plump custard apples and more. Each fruit bursting with goodness and flavor and color. Aptly enough, it is here that  my perspectives on food get overhauled.

FOOD AND SELFLESS LOVE

Sure! Its through three decades of food writing, that I have learnt that there are some universal truths…gifted  chefs skilled and experienced in the art and science of cooking produce great food. Tried and tested recipes are paramount. But I had no idea that selfless love can result in such tasty fare. Selfless love alone which drives total novices and amateurs. Here in this ashram Annadhanam ( An offering of food) is served to almost 2000 persons daily. It is totally free and is for  the ashrams residents, volunteers & guests.  Sattvic, positive pranic and 100% vegetarian food (a variety of salads, cereals, vegetables, fruits and porridge) is cooked here. Here’s the riveting part,
all the food here is cooked by volunteers.
Even more interestingly, these residents and volunteers in the center are from US, UK, Europe, Lebanon, of course Indian, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and many more countries. I  trip out on the delicious flavors and textures of many a cuisine here and the salads surprise with their cheeky ingenuity of combinations and then they seduce. I eat them in the cool winter-sunshine, and request the two volunteers  Sriram Kumar and Bharathi.V. (who have made the salads) to pose with them.Please see the photograph. They’re both  full time volunteers at Isha Yoga Center and both have lovingly cubed and chopped and mixed and matched fruits and vegetables, nuts,  coconut and more and produced an astonishing symphony of tastes and textures. They generously share their salad recipes with us…

TANGY, CRUNCHY SALAD

Cucumber – Pineapple Salad:
- 1 cup cubed cucumber
- 1/2 cup cubed pineapple
- 1/4 cup pomogranate
- Little finely chopped Corriander
- Salt and pepper to taste

SWEET BLISS SALAD

Carrot Chikki Salad:
- 1cup grated carrot
- 3/4 cup apple ( Julian cut)
- 2 table spoon Grated coconut ( add more if needed)
- Pomogranate for colour
- 2 table spoon of broken groundnut chikki
- 1 tablespoon honey
- cut pieces of cashew nut, Raisins
- 1 teaspoon roasted white sesame seeds

RED RICE SALAD

  
- 1/2 cup cut Orange pieces
- 1/2 cup cut Apple
- 1 cup torn Spinach
- 1/2 cup semi boiled red rice
- 1 cup cut cucumber
Dressing: make a paste of the  below mentioned ingridients in a blender
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup peeled apple
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Salt and Pepper to taste.

MICHELIN-STARRED CHEF GORDON RAMSAY IN THIS ASHRAM

When the celebrated , revered and feared London based chef Gordon Ramsay’s team approached me to be his South India guide for his Channel 4 TV show “Great Escapes” I insisted he go to Isha ashram, Coimbatore and pick up not just spiritual principles but also great vegetarian cooking tips and recipes. Having done that, the committed carnivore that he is , Gordon came back to Mumbai totally impressed and converted.

Michelin-starred Chef Gordon Ramsay
Michelin-starred Chef Gordon Ramsay

He couldn’t believe how tasty the vegetarian fare was in the ashram and ofcourse he was bowled over by the erudite and enlightened, (fluent in English) Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev.Here its not about vitamins, minerals or proteins. Here, food is  categorized as positive pranic food ( increases vitality in the body), negative pranic food,(drains energy) and zero pranic food. While Negative pranic food comprises of Garlic,Onion,Asafoetida,Brinjal,Chili and

Coffee / tea.everything else is positive or zero pranic.

Interestingly, lime and all citrus fruits, as well as coconut are highly prized positive pranic foods.

Needless to add all the salad recipes given above are positively pranic. What is it that the hardened carnivore, globally acknowledged  Michelin-starred chef Gordon Ramsay got bowled over by? It’s the high-voltage combination of positive pranic energy and spectacular taste that is unbeatable. And addictive!

 

Paradise Found

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Chef Lucrecia Buking and Michael di Lonardo with Mishi
Chef Lucrecia Buking and Michael di Lonardo with Mishi

Surprises ahead! I confess, I am very surprised myself too. Here I am, a regular at the haute temples of gastronomy, a worshipper at the masterly great restaurants of the world. I preside over several global jurys for awarding great restaurants and having eaten my way through 34 food books would go to the ends of the world for sublime food that has the firm grasp of the art and science of cooking. And here I am actually admiring and going over the moon for food that is not even cooked, but is mostly raw (you read that right). And yet it  seduces not only my tastebuds but also my eyes. And heres the bonus: it is bursting with energy and goodness and not only kickstarts my system into high energy but also calms my mind and makes me smile.

Welcome to paradise! Here sense-pampering is in erotic union with holistic health, here taste and flavor burst with nutrition and healing. It is from here that I’m mailing you this great news

PICTURE PERFECT

Please take a look at the accompanying photograph that I just shot. Before I tell you more about it, all I can say is that if it had a video track you’d be able to hear the peacocks (they preen all over the 50 hectares of lush land) the chirping birds, the soft breeze. But what you can see is the ever-smiling chef Lucrecia Buking holding up the most delicious “Beet Canneloni“ and pecan dessert . The dapper Michael di Lonardo who helms The Farm in San Benito (its two hours away from Manila) smiles with  Mishi ( his Lhasa Apso mix from Lonavala). Actually Michael being a brilliant chef himself (having worked with great chefs in Los Angeles and had the Hollywood stars eating out of his hands) also has plenty to do with the gourmet fare here. He is also driven by the conviction that “the farmer is the star’ and it’s the “quality of the soil and the organic produce that make great food”. Having worked three years in India (and loved it) Michael feels very strongly that “India should   go against genetically modified food and Monsanto.”

And so here at this holistic healing and wellness mecca where  mind, body and spirit get balanced, all the vegetables are organically grown within the Farm area. As are all the healing herbs. So much so that even the virgin coconut oil, the coconut water we drink is all from their own plantations.  “From the farm to the table” is a delicious visible reality here. And creating amazing dishes  is the chef and her team.

LIVING PROOF

She was detected with third stage breast cancer three years ago and given six months to live. Today, Chef Lucrecia  is not only fit and healthy but also weaving magic in the kitchen. She  herself is living proof of the principles The Farm is rooted in, that all health stems from the gut and looking after and nurturing it with  live foods will restore harmony and health.

Having learnt the fundamentals from the  Living lights culinary arts school in San Francisco, she ensures that more than 85% of her food is raw (grains are soaked, seeds are sprouted, vegetables soaked in apple cider vinegar) and even the rest is very lightly cooked. “Raw food preserves the antioxidants and nutrients” she points out. no oil. No cooking, no sugar, no preservatives and yet bursting with taste and variety and color and flavor. Gastronomy redefined.

P.S. Theres plenty more to The Farm than this life giving cuisine, detoxing and recharging…I’m still here but already planning my next visit…saving up all my earnings (like I did for this time too)… it’s the best investment ever.

BOX

THE FARMS RECIPE

Try it. Its so simple, just chopping, slicing, soaking, mixing, processing and assembling. A visual and tasty and nutritional treat.  

Red Beet Cannelloni   

5 red Beet thinly sliced

For the “almond or pista cheese”

Tsp olive oil/ Cup almonds or pistachio nuts (soaked and peeled  / Sea salt, Lemon, White pepper/ Tsp Nutritional Yeast (if unavailable then use miso paste / Tsp onion Powder

/ Tsp Tarragon leaves Chopped /½ Cup red Onion ( minced)/ ¼ Cup Chives (chopped)

For the “cashew sauce”

1 cup cashew nts/ 1 cup pine nuts/ 1 cup water/ 1 tsp hone/ ½ cup lemon juice/ 2 cloves garlic/ 1 tsp salt/ ½ tsp white pepper/ 2 tbsp fresh dill.

Put all these ingredients (except dill) in a blender until creamy. Add water if needed. You can use this sauce on any dish.

METHOD:

Slice  and Marinate the red beet and set it aside. For the “cheese”   put in a food Processer all the ingredients for the cheese. Keep “cheese”  for a few hours before  filling  the beet slices with  the “ almond cheese” and asparagus. Roll it up. Drizzle with cashew sauce.  Enjoy