Here it is. The best inheritance we can ever receive. The legacy of legacies…the passing on of recipes and cooking styles from an older generation to the younger one. Each time I conduct my “Whats hot” tasting session in Chennai, I get even more delighted by the keen interest in cooking and baking here. Especially in all generations. And more often than not this transgenerational transfer of recipes happens from mother to daughter. Twenty six year old talented and hardworking Nahla Fathima not learnt baking from her gifted mother Amira Kalifulla but also from her mother’s equally talented sister Yasmin. “I have been baking as a kid, thanks to my mother and aunts who sparked this interest in me, and were also the cause of my sweet tooth” Nahla explains. She used to bake cakes for mostly family parties and special occassions at home. Since then, Nahla has been taking orders for customized cakes, theme based cakes and cupcakes. She set up H H Gourmet cakes and cupcakes and in September 2013, put up a Facebook page too. She joined the Home Bakers Guild Festive show case too. Her customized cakes are fondant based but she also does special buttercream frosting. What is particularly commendable is that she makes it all at home and uses only the freshest and finest ingredients.
Nahla started with the classic chocolate cake that uses melted liquid chocolate rather than cocoa powder. Initially, it was buttercream and freshcream cakes, but now her specialisation is themed and customised fondant cakes, although her clients do call her for buttercream cakes which she still does. she use french and swiss meringue buttercream which isnt like the popular and easier American buttercream available in all the bakeries.
Nahla is quick to point out “As I am a homebaker, it is mostly a one-man show, so I take only limited orders and well in advance. Especially for fondant cakes”. Nahla is happy to customise and cakes and make them as elaborately as possible usually with the client’s own reference picture. Another popular theme right now is the 2 or 3 tiered cake, especially for 1st bday parties, weddings as they rightly steal the show and look quite magnificent when placed at the venue with the themed set up. So it is Nahla’s two tiered cakes that are mostly in demand right now. Animal shapes, Barbie dalls, cars…you name it, Nahla will create it.
NUTRITIOUS & DELICIOUS
“The recipe i am sharing with you is a Banana Cake recipe, which is one that
i do frequently as a way to get my son to eat the fruit and also to use up those overipe bananas which no one wants to eat”. Nahla points out. The cake is not very sweet as most of the sweetness comes from the fruit. It also has all the healthful properties of the fruit.
The recipe is versatile as it lends to being made a pound cake, cupcakes, loaves or even as cake layers for stacking.
Butter – ¾ cup
Sugar – 11/4 cup
Eggs – 3
Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
Bananas Overipe – 4
Flour – 3 cups
Baking soda, Baking powder – 1 tsp each
Salt – ½ tsp
Cinnamon – 1 tsp
Buttermilk – 1 cup ( 1 cup milk with 1 tbsp vinegar )
Sour cream – ¼ cup
Preheat oven to 180 C. Line 2 9” pans.
Cream the butter. Add sugar to creamed butter. Mix until smooth.
To this add the eggs 1 at a time until fully incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and bananas to this mixture.
In another bowl, sieve the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
In a third bowl, mix together the buttermilk and the sour cream.
Now, add the dry and wet ingredients alternatively.
Pour into lined pans and bake for 30 – 40 mins until springy to touch.
Do you work out of home? Would you like to be featured here?
Are you a home baker? Home chef? Please email (Rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, Anjalisharma965@gmail.com) FB, instagram, tweet @rashmiudaysingh your contact details and the work you do and we will revert to you asap. We will conduct a “Whatshottasting session and invite you to it. Look forward to hearing from you and featuring you here…
You can imagine my delight at finding authentic homestyle Gujarati food in Chennai when all my life Ive been penning love letters to it.And whats more Geetha Mehta, is also well-known for rolling out and neatly packing 1,000 Roti’s & Pickles & Parathas (theplas) for students going abroad. These have a shelf life for a year, are cholesterol-free and yummy too.As though all this wasn’t enough to endear her to me, she also conducts cooking classes.
But first, heres an example of my open love letter to Gujarati food:
“Hu tane prem karu chhu.” I love you for your pristine vegetarian-ness, for your sheer balance of sweet and sour, tangy and bitter, in fact your sophistication and variety of flavors leave me kind of week-kneed. One look at that silver thali beckoning with a myriad dishes, from crunchy farsans to luscious sweets like the curd based shrikhand seduce.The melt-in-the-mouth, slim and silken rolls of besan (khandvi) the steamed, spongy wedges of besan (dhokla) and your winter special “undhio” are irresistible. Especially, the undhio with it’s broad beans, yams, eggplant and more baked in earthenware pots. And that “paunk” (fresh kernels of wheat or millet, eaten with sugar balls) is just poetry in itself. As for that famed Gujarati dahi “kadhi”, I love it most when it is sweetened, like the Surtis like it.
Using only the finest ingredients and “plenty of love” Saurashtra-born Geetha makes the most delightful of authentic Gujarati food (also South and North Indian). Its her unique pumpkin khatta dhokla that I taste at our “Whats hot tasting session”. And dry fruit shrikhand (she makes more than ten flavors, including Cadbury chocolate for kids). Looking for diet options ? Bread Rabri, variety of Shrikhand, Aam Ras and so on
Even her true blue Gujarati pickles unerringly spiced are worth trying. Call and check about her classes, tiffin dabbas and ofcourse the longlasting theplas for taking abroad.
1605, J Block, 9th Street, 15 th Main Road
Tamilnadu – 600 040
26164841 and 98400 66263
The story is that when a new Gujarati bride is being checked out, the very first and most important test that she must pass is that of making the perfect dal , with just that perfect balance of sweet and tangl. So I requested Geetha for her authentic recipe. Here it is
- Thoor dhal 1 cup
- Green Chilli 1
- Ginger 1 small piece
- Ground nut 1 spoon
- Salt to taste
- Haldi powder ¼ teaspoon
- Chilli Powder ¼ teaspoon
- Jaggery small piece
- Kokum / Tamarind to taste
- Oil 1 table spoon
- Mustard seeds ¼ teaspoon
- Methi Dhana ¼ teaspoon
- Asafoetida 1 pinch
- Curry leaves 4 – 5
- Coriander leaves 1 table spoon
- Tomato 1
Boil the dhal and separately ground nut. Then, mash nicely, mix the ground nut and keep aside. For seasoning, heat oil and put mustard seeds. Then add asafetida and cut tomatoes. Cut chilli and ginger and add all the remaining ingredients. After frying nicely, add to dhal. Add water as required and boil for 5 to 7 min. Then add coriander leaves.
The perfect snack, silken rolls of khandvi are my favorite and delightful to taste. Light. And healthy roo.
- Sour Butter milk 3 cups
- Gram dhal 1 cup
- Asafoetida 1 pinch
- Ginger chilli paste 1 teaspoon
- Salt to taste
- Haldi powder ¼ teaspoon
- Oil 1 table spoon
- Mustard seeds 1 teaspoon
- Til 1 teaspoon
- Curry leaves 10 – 15
- Coriander leaves 1 table spoon
Add all ingredients to butter milk and mix well and keep stir on slow flame till it thickens. Pour on individual plates and spread well and let it cool down. Heat oil and mustard seeds, til and curry leaves. Make the poured batter into rolls and cut to smaller pieces. Spread the seasoning on the rolls and sprinkle coriander leaves.
It is here in this sundrenched glamorous city that I get my first taste of Rockstar food (literally too).
For the past 50 years, Sunset Marquis has been the secret hideaway for actors, writers, artists, filmmakers, supermodels, restaurateurs, billionaire entrepreneurs and rock stars.
Interestingly, the stories of the Sunset Marquis and the history of rock ’n’ roll are inextricably intertwined. Several bands debuted in the bar here, The Doors to Led Zeppelin. Neil Diamond ( used to perform by the pool to pay his tab) to Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, George Clooney, Jennifer Aniston and many other regulars here.
BOLLYWOOD TO HOLLYWOOD
Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek and Aishwarya Bachchan have stayed here and enjoyed not only the place but also the food. Moreover, it is the worlds only hotel which has a state of the art recording studio where many Grammy-winning songs have been recorded. Madonna has recorded here so has Elton John (to name a few). It is here that the winners of “American Idol” stay for months and even as I eat the most unique “cauliflower steak” Michael Bolton strolls past in the 3.5 acres of Mediterranean oasis tucked away on a hill just off The Sunset Strip.
Guarding these superstar’s “peace and privacy” for over 23 years is the dapper and dynamic Rod Gruendyke who is so passionate about his work that he started working as a manager of travel lodge, when he was 15 years old. Since then he has not only launched several prestigious hotels but continues to redefine hospitality. He recounts how actor Kevin Costner bumped into the Bachchans and concluded a deal without having to go to India. Interestingly Rod is also a believer in Amma, the hugging saint and has a long-standing affinity for India.
TASTY AND HEALTHY
Taking care of the beautiful people’s tastebuds and balancing it with their health and fitness needs is
the brilliant Chef Roger Eggleston. He believes in appreciating what the earth gives us, to never stop learning and using the braising technique, of searing and then cooking in a liquid. The trick is to keep the temperature
“low and slow” he points out. To intensify the flavor, he uses vegetable stock but adds apple to it. He shares his recipe…
- 4 Cauliflower steaks cut 1 inch thick. Make sure to leave some as the stem to hold it together
- Vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Sprig of thyme
- 4 cloves of garlic
Season the cauliflower with salt. Heat a heavy pan with some vegetable oil just until smoking. Add the steaks and sear them until a nice color forms. Flip them over; add just enough vegetable stock just to come up ½ way on the steaks. Add the garlic and thyme and bring up to a simmer. Place the pan in the oven and lightly braise just until tender: about 15 minutes. When done, remove from the liquid.
Garnish· Corn grilled on the cobb and then cut off· Cleaned morel mushrooms, lightly braised just as the cauliflower steaks· 1 tsp butter· Sliced chives· Baby fennel shave thin and placed in ice water· Raw purple cauliflower· Garlic blossoms
Heat the morel mushrooms up with some of their braising liquid, add the charred corn and finish with a little butter to glaze the vegetables. Season with salt and finish with the sliced chives
You can make a Truffled Yogurt by
Whisking 4 egg yolks into yoghurt. mustard, wine, canola oil,
squeezed lemon juice
- Spoon about 2 tbsp of the truffle yogurt onto the center of each plate· Place one cauliflower steak on top of the yogurt
- Spoon the vegetable mix over the cauliflower steaks· Using a micro plane, grate the purple cauliflower all over the plate· Garnish with the shaved fennel and garlic blossoms
Enjoy! keep rocking!
I’m rejoicing! I’m getting a taste of centuries of family recipes lovingly passed down generations. Sure! There is plenty to be said about restaurants, about masterchefs, about modern and fusion cuisines too. But, give me original, authentic and traditional recipes anyday. They brim over with love, they preserve a flavor of history, tradition and culture. They are created by home makers who keep in mind economy, speed, efficiency and health. These are steadily not only getting lost over time but also diluted and corrupted.
So when I come in contract with Gold medalist in M.Sc maths, ex- Scientist in Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre Kalpana Venkatesh a brilliant cook herself who continues to be inspired by her mother in law Muthulakshmi Gopalan, I am overjoyed.
“Amma” as she is affectionately called by her family is a feisty and multi-talented native of Papanasam (Tirunelveli district). The seventy year old grand dame is extremely erudite, loves reading, is involved in family finance and family management and ofcourse her cooking is unmatched. Amma continues to have a very close and affectionate relationship with her family, especially Appa.
MUTHULAKSHMI’S MUTHUS (PEARLS)
Muthulashmi (Amma) learnt cooking from her mother Chellammal and with great precision and meticulousness has preserved each recipe. Traditional and authentic, these pure vegetarian recipes also inspire her daughter Viji.
Today, even their fourth generation of Nethra , Nikhil and Raji love these dishes.
Harmonious flavors are coaxed out of Jaggery, nutmeg, urad dhall, rice, milk, ghee and more. Some are served as parsadam, some celebrate special occasions.
On my request Amma shares some of these recipes. Here’s my second request to them…that they preserve them in a book so that the whole world can partake of Ammas recipes and love.
Pori Vilangai (Porulangai) Urundai
Moong dhal = 4 cups
Jaggery = 6 cups
Fresh coconut (cut into small pieces) = ½ cup
Cardamom powder = 1 tsp
(Optional) Dry ginger powder = ½ tsp
Take a thick bottomed pan and dry fry the moong dhal, till it is golden brown and a nice aroma starts emanating. Take care not to over brown it. Cool and grind it into a fine powder in a blender. Transfer the contents to a wide thali or plate. Add cardamom powder, dry ginger powder and mix well. Spread it out on the plate.
Take a thick bottomed vessel. Boil the jaggery in 150 ml water over medium flame, till it dissolves completely. Strain for impurities. Reboil the jaggery water along with the coconut pieces till it comes to a consistency as follows: If you put a drop of the jaggery syrup in a cup of normal water, it should stay like a globule. Switch off the stove.
Add 2 laddles of jaggery syrup to a portion of the powdered dhal mix on the plate, just enough to be able to make into small laddu balls. Mix and make small laddus. Repeat this procedure, till the jaggery syrup and dhal mix get exhausted. Speed is very important here since otherwise the jaggery syrup tends to harden. These laddus have a shelf life of about 10 days
Instead of 4 cups of moong dhall; we can use 3 cups of moong dhall and 1 cup of channa dhall.
- S: This is an important traditional Tirunelveli (Tamil Nadu) sweet dish, served during Deepavali day.
Ukkarai ( Deepavali Sweet dish)
Channa dhal (Bengal gram) = 400 grams
Jaggery = 500 grams
Ghee = 150 ml
Grated fresh coconut = ½ cup
Cardamom powder = 1 tsp
Cashews = 100 grams
Salt = ¼ tsp
Soak Channa dhal in water for one hour with ¼ tsp salt. Strain the channa dhal and grind to a thick paste in a blender without adding water. Spread the mixture in an idli plate and steam cook for 7 minutes (As similar to idli making). Remove it from the idli plate and let it cool off for about 10 minutes. Put the cooled cakes in a blender and grind to a powder. Transfer the contents into a bowl and keep it aside.
Take a pan; add ghee and fry the cashews till golden brown. Similarly fry the grated coconut in ghee till golden brown. Keep it aside.
In another thick-bottomed vessel, boil the jaggery in 100 ml water until it dissolves completely. Now strain this for impurities and re-boil the jaggery water on medium flame, till froth comes fully, along with good aroma. At this stage, add the powdered dhal mixture and mix well. Keep stirring for 5-7 minutes till bread-crumb like texture is achieved. Add the fried cashews, grated coconut & cardamom powder and mix well.
Spread in a flat bottomed dish, garnish with fried cashews. Dish is ready to be served.
1. Instead of channa dhal, a combination of Channa dhal 200 gms + Moong dhall 100 grams + Tur dhal 100 grams can be used.
2. Replace jaggery with sugar. To prepare sugar syrup, boil 500 grams of sugar in 100 ml of water and bring to 2-string consistency (when you take the syrup between thumb and index finger and release it, you can see two strings). For additional flavor, along with cardamom, a pinch of edible camphor can be added.
- S: This is an important traditional Tirunelveli (Tamil Nadu) Iyengar dish, served during Deepavali day.
Looking for unusual and personalised Diwali Cupcakes? Need eggless cupcakes, desserts et al? Low calorie, Low fat, and Sugarfree? 3D Mickey Cookies ? 3D Batman and Spiderman ? Voila! The “Sweet fairy” conjures them all. Tops the diwali specials with chocolate diyas, festoons them with rangoli and more.
I don’t know about you, but I believe in Santa Claus and elves and fairies. And for our “Whats hot tasting session” when I met “ Sweet fairy” I was delighted. “I was always obsessed by fairies since my childhood”Apeksha Agarwal explained and so when this daughter of the Kitchen Queen title winner of Jaipur took to baking “Sweet fairy” was the most natural name for her home kitchen company.This young lady learnt her first recipes from her mom and heres the good news, she bakes only eggless desserts.
“Since my closeones are vegetarians and prefer eggless, food, I ve specialised in EGGLESS baking” Apeksha clarified. And sure enough all her creations are soft and sweet and yummy… be it cupcakes, teacakes, custom made cakes, cookies, customized cookies, desserts (Apple Pie, Tiramisu, cheesecakes, Trifle puddings and eclairs), homemade breads, chocolates .
Particular about the finest ingredient and freshness she keeps introducing new desserts in their menu, Red Velvet Cupcake, “I have also started making the Green, Yellow and the Orange Velvet Cupcakes. The major change here is flavour of icing, these are frosted with Cardamom flavour cream” she explains. I have yet to try these, but enjoyed the ones I did.
“There is a common misconception in baking that eggless bakes are not as soft as those made with eggs. This is not true at all and the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” Literally and otherwise.
- “Sweet fairy” kiddy specials include designer cupcakes with any cartoon characters, 3D mickey cookies, cake pops, designer cookies (doremon, mickey, winni the pooh), designer cakes (for example doll cake for girls, car cakes, cricket cakes for boys).
Apeksha Agarwal, Sweet Fairy
Call – 9677267380
email – email@example.com
One can call, email or contact her through their Facebook page and place orders and pick their desserts.
SWEET FAIRY CHOCOLATE CAKE
1/2 can (400 gms for a full can) condensed milk
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
125 gms all-purpose flour
1 tbsp Cocoa
1 tbsp Chocolate powder
60 ml, melted butter
1 tsp Vanilla essence
- Sieve flour, cocoa, chocolate powder, baking powder and baking soda.
– Mix the condensed milk, flour, 75 ml water, vanilla essence and melted butter thoroughly
– Grease and dust a 7″ diameter pan
– Pour the cake mixture in the prepared pan.
– Bake in a hot oven at 190 C for approx 20 min (check by inserting a toothpick, when inserted it should come out clean)
Take it out on a wire rack and cool it away from the fan
SAILING INTO HEALTH
What 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/ firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Part 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 email@example.com with the subject CHENNAI FOODLINE. You can also tweet and instagram t @rashmiudaysingh.
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.
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.
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…
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
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
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 .
Excuse me for speeding! I’m on a mission. I’m on the look out for one single dish which captures the essence of each of my favorite cities. Surely! It cant be Bhelpuri for Mumbai? Though it is a lot like the city itself, it’s tangy, crisp, sour, sweet, squishy…but it doesn’t distil the high-end, highrise glossy life or Bombay- to- Mumbai’s chequered history. And here in Kolkata my heartbeat is quickening with joy. Here, many centuries coexist seamlessly. Here, in this undecipherable amalgam of modernity and oldness, human warmth and apathy, rickshaws and limousines throbs the soul of the city which I love. Sure it is proudly Bengali, it is multi-cultural but it still hark backs to the Colonial Raj. And here amidst all this cacophony and glamour I hit the jackpot. I find that one dish which distils the Bengali heartbeat and the cosmopolitan nature.
Sure! Enough this dish has stood the test of time. Its recipe has been passed down generations of masterchefs. And time stands still in the Historic handsome Oberoi Grand with it’s stucco ornamentation, colonnaded verandahs and balconies. The glory and style of the Raj coexists seamlessly with modernization. Here I trip out on Chef Saurav Banerjee’s “smoked Hilsa” a masterful combination of the Ilish (Hilsa) fish which every Bengali loves done to a very Anglo-Indian style. Having studied in the prestigious catering college of West Bengal, opened many a restaurant around the country, Chef Banerjee has also traveled the world working in Singapore and London.. He brilliantly executes this dish.
This recipe probably existed way back in the early nineteenth century when the site of the hotel was the private residence of a Colonel Grand, which went on to be converted into a boarding house by Mrs. Annie Monk, bought over by Arathoon Stephen an Armenian from Isfahan who redeveloped the site into an extravagant neoclassical style which looks like the hotel today. The hotel soon became a popular spot amongst the English population of Calcutta. It was known, in particular, for its annual New Year party with iced champagne and expensive gifts and for sure this smoked Hilsa dish. Rai Bahadur Mohan Singh Oberoi took over and bought this property in 1939 and it stands handsomely and serenely in the cacophony of Chowringhee. A meal at the multi-cuisine all day dining restaurant,a authentic Thai restaurant, a dip in the limpid blue pool in the heart of the hotel are some of the must-dos. The dapper dynamic George Kuruvilla ensures that history and modernity do a memorable tango and this dish of Smoked Hilsa is the epitome of both.
THE GRAND SMOKED HILSA
The intensely flavored Ilish or Hilsa has been the Bengali favorite (and mine) forever. Chef Banerji very thoughtfully provides substitutes for it (though we both agree that no fish can really match it in texture or flavor). Ditto for the Bengali mustard paste…kasundi. However you can always use any other ready mustard paste. Try it and be transported to the most historic and legendary of Kolkata’s Grand landmark. One bite of it’s smoky-tender-firmness and the flavor of Kolkata with it’s centuries of colorful history will seduce you. A truly unique legendary dish from a Grand legend.
Smoked hilsa (if hilsa not available you may substitute with rawas or sole) fillet 250gm, Baby potato 4 to 6/ Baby carrot3 to 4/ Broccoli 2 small florets/ Baby corn2/ Chopped parsley A small bunch,
Salt 2gm/ Cracked pepper1gm/ Kasundi mustard sauce 2tbsp (can be substituted by any ready mustard paste).
For the sauce
Fish stock 2cups/ Kasundi 1tbsp/ Butter 2 tbsps, Cream Half a cup,
·Take out the hilsa fillet and put it in a pre-heated 180 degrees medium oven till its nicely hot.
·Par boil all the vegetables and season with salt and pepper.
·Sprinkle chopped parsley on the vegetables and arrange it in a plate.
·Place the fillet carefully on the plate and pour the kasundi mustard sauce on it.
·For the sauce reduce the stock to 50%. Add the kasundi mustard.
·Take it off the fire and whisk in the cream and the butter.
METHOD FOR SMOKING
Hilsa fillet de skinned 350gm, 2) Anchovy 5 gm, (use tinned anchovy 1 small piece,) 3)Kasundi mustard 2tsp, 4)Refined oil 2tsp,
5) Lemon juice 1tsp, 6) Salt to taste.
· Remove the scales from the fish and cut out the fillets. In a large container take cloves on a burning ember of coal and pour ghee on it.Trap that smoke . Chef uses ·mango wood dust for smoking but he has given the coal alternative for home cooking. .
Marinate the fillet with (anchovy, kasundi, oil, lemon juice and salt) the ingredients no. 2 – 6 and leave it for one hour.
·Cook the fillet in a pre heated oven.
·De bone the fillet by taking out strips vertically from the fillet.
·Remove the bones feeling them with the knife.
·Join back the strips and cling wrap the fillet carefully, ( should you want to, you can store this smoked hilsa for 4 to 6 days too)
I raise a toast with the delicious“Iron man” juice and ask a few questions: Can delicious also be nutritious? Tasty food be healthy? Contradictory? Not possible? But worth finding out, don’t you agree? After all, food delivers the much-needed energy and the vitality to work and to enjoy life in all it’s manifold aspects. And so it’s been my life-long quest to find food that combines taste with health. And especially in restaurants. Having eaten my way through all my travels around the world and through all my 33 books, I have to admit that very, very few restaurants serve up food that combines these two aspects. Most coax flavors and enhance textures with dollops of fat, frying to a crisp, layers of cream and so on. India’s restaurantscape continues to grow and expand with multiple cuisines and options. And each year, as I research The Times Food Guides I eat non-stop in restaurants here.
You can imagine my delight when in the heart of bustling South Mumbai, I find a cafe, an oasis of calm which creates, innovates and serves up the most amazing spa menu. And this is a glassed off space ( outdoor verandah et al), surrounded by trees. This jewel of a open-through-the-day café is part of the Taj’s Wellington Mews, their swanky serviced apartment property. Sure! You can imbibe the tranquility and coffee and snacks but even more exciting is the light and delightful menu of the Jiva spa complemented by a variety of fresh fruit and vegetable juices. Ofcourse, the comprehensive short menu with it’s sandwiches and pastas also offers a flavorsome Goan prawn curry and the ever popular Chicken kathi roll. But it’s the healthful yet yummy Steamed Sea Bass, the Mediterranean-spiced Chicken Breast and the healthy Wholewheat Ravioli with Spinach and Mushroom and Stir-fried Spring Vegetables served with Tofu that Chef Shrutika Koli excels in. Here I not only trip out on their crisp salads, but also their addictive roasted pumpkin soup spiked with cumin and the homestyle drumsticks.
From chef Shrutika Koli and the dynamic, health-buff Parveen Chander Kumar, who helms the serene spa and the property, I get a rejuvenating taste of health. “The soup is full of antioxidants” explains Parveen and I chip in “and what a unique lingering whisper of cumin it has”.
P.S. The Iron Man is a refreshing apple, guava and pear juice. Weli Deli’s Pineapple and Ginger with Mint and Celery is another favorite of mine too.
HEALTHY COOKING TIPS
Chef Shrutika shares some of her tips and recipes with us.
· Always use only seasonal and fresh vegetables and herbs, instead of canned or dried ones.
· While making juices of fruits and vegetables try and squeeze last minute without adding any sweeteners .
· · · Try to best capture flavors retain the nutrients in food without adding excessive salt and fats
· Cooking with minimal heat and a la minute tossing of food help to maintain colour and texture of food .
· Avoid excess use of all the white food stuffs eg. Sugar , salt , rice , milk, refine flour …..
CUMIN SCENTED ROASTED PUMPKIN BISQUE
Amount Measure Ingredient Preparation Method
500 grams pumpkin red
15 grams cumin seeds roasted and powdered
15 milliliters extra virgin olive oil
10 grams sea salt to taste
10 grams pepper corn crushed
20 grams shallots chopped
20 grams garlic chopped
20 grams leeks chopped
Peel & cut pumpkin in to wedges. Marinate pumpkin with olive oil, salt, peper & garlic.
Roast marinated pumpkin in the oven until well-done. Puree the roasted pumpkin to a fine paste.
Sauté garlic, shallots, leeks, cumin seeds & add pumpkin puree. Add vegetable stock, and seasoning.
Simmer the soup till smooth and creamy. Strain and return to fire.
Check for seasoning, color and consistency. Serve hot garnished with roasted cumin powder.
THE PERFECT PUMPKIN
- Very low calorie (100 gms of pumpkin has 26 calories)No saturated fats or cholesterol.
- Pumpkin has many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-A, vitamin-C and vitamin-E.
- but rich in fiber, anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins.
- Recommended by dieticians in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.
- High quantity of Vitamin A, a powerful natural anti-oxidant.
- Plenty of B-complex group of vitamins.
- A rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
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.
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.
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!