|Lovely pudding © Cookaroo|
This is going to be a long post. There's a recipe yes, there's a review and there's a rant. So kindly be prepared.
At Italia, Sid handed a bunch of us Aditya Bal's Chak le India cookbook. Why? Because we were to meet with the author for a Blogger's Table a week later. Which gave most of us some time to go through the book, try out the recipes and talk with each other on the forums.
Sounds like fun? Yes, it 'twas too. So when I got home, as is my habit with all new cookbooks, I started skimming through this one. I read all about what Aditya had to say about his childhood and about how he got into cooking and how the show happened. It seemed honest and quite deep, which was lovely. Except. Yes except, I really wanted to pick up a pen and start correcting the grammar (Tanya's going to agree with me here - coz that's what we'd begun our dinner conversation with). It was really badly edited. And the photographs were ghastly and as Charis said, the paper quality, well let's not even go there.
Anyhoo, as I glanced at the recipes, some of them caught my eye - there were lots of Kashmiri dishes, lots of meat and fish dishes. But what intrigued me the most was the aam ki kheer or the mango rice pudding. It seemed simple, had a lot of dry fruits and saffron and plus I'm a total sucker for desserts, in case you haven't guessed already.
A quick check in the fridge and the pantry, I realised I had everything to make this kheer, including some super ripe chausas - a variety of mangoes, that come right at the fag end of the season. These mangoes are extremely flavourful and very pulpy - perfect for a recipe that calls for mango pulp/puree.
I decided to halve Aditya's recipe - because, well, there's just the two of us at home. The measured the ingredients and began cooking the rice. According to his recipe for 1 cup of rice I was to use 2 cups of milk. Which meant for half a cup, 1 cup of milk would be enough. It seemed off to me right then. So I cooked the rice in 2 cups of milk. Turned out that wasn't enough still. I had to up the quantity by another two cups.
Alarmed at the discrepancy, I decided to just eye-ball it from that point. His recipe called for pulp of three mangoes or a tin of mango puree. I chose to puree two rather large chausas which gave me about 200 gms of puree. The recipe asked you to cook the kheer/pudding for two hours, adding a bit of milk every now and then to stop it from getting stodgy. Bit like risotto he said.
How odd, I thought to myself, I never remembered my grandmother cooking any kind of kheer for that long. Phirni maybe. But since I'd halved the quantity, I realised I might have to halve the cooking time as well. I did. At the end of about an hour and 10 minutes I got something that resembled a thick kheer which I had peppered with raisins, almonds and plenty of cardamon and saffron. It smelt lovely.
I let it cool and instead of loosening up, it started to thicken more - and ended up looking like a strange mango khichadi - stodgy mush really. So another cup of milk and a tiny bit (2 tblsp) of condensed milk, it looked like this - like a really lovely runny, mango-saffron flavoured kheer that well ended up serving 6 people.
I loved the saffron flavour that came through. The mango was also the star. Honestly, the flavours were bang-on but the measurements, well, totally skewed.
We discussed this on the Table forum, I realised a lot of us had a similar problem. So we decided to talk to Aditya when we'd see him.
Which brings me to the event finally. Held at Veda and organised through the publishing house Westland, the Blogger's Table met with Aditya Bal to discuss his book. What did I think of Aditya? I liked him. (Of course I am a bit partial to anyone called Aditya, but that apart). He was honest, very down-to-earth and very open to criticism. Plus he has very endearing smile.
He ended up sitting in the middle of this super long table that Veda at organised for us. Look, I am really no fan of Veda and thanks to the really dim lighting, it is also a blogger's nightmare, because, well, no one can really take any photographs right?
|More about Aditya from both ends of the table © Sid Khullar (left) and © Deeba Rajpal|
The food at Veda? A slight abomination is all I can say. Parul got it down pat. But despite that, I really liked the Palak ke patte ki chaat - crispy spinach leaves with tamarind sauce and yogurt. It was delightful. The other stuff, which I can't even remember (can you imagine not remembering what you ate?) was really ho-hum.
Just before the main course arrived, Aditya decided to hop across to our side of the table where Tanya, Deeba and I were sitting. Motor mouth me decided to tell him what I thought. I began as apologetically as I could, but I don't think poor Aditya stood a chance. We asked him if he'd tested the recipes at all - turned out he hadn't. Apparently the publishing house told him to watch the show all over again and eyeball the recipes. He did exactly that.
What about the photos we asked him? He said, that the publishing house didn't give him time enough to shoot and style the photos the way he wanted to do.
And the grammatical errors? Well, I'll be honest here - that really isn't his fault. That's his editor's. So in turn I asked the representative of Westland what she thought about the errors. Her answer in verbatim was, "You know the common man like me will not even realise there is an error. So I don't think it's a problem."
Tanya and I looked at each other completely stumped. Did a representative of a publishing house really just tell us that the people who read this book don't really shouldn't be allowed to read good, clean English? Or that the publishers didn't really care what they put out to the public?
At that point, I went back to my food. A portion of Dal Makhani - which pasty, yes, was nice. The Mutton Rara, I really liked. Other than that - the food was a disaster and oh, don't even get me started on the Kulfi. It tasted it was made out of a box and of plain condensed milk. It was awful.
By then I was feeling awful about the whole evening. Aditya was more than generous at accepting his faults and he was very sweet about the "erratas". I really liked that about him.
But do you know what saved the evening? The conversation. And the cake. What cake you ask me? It was Sangeeta's birthday so Deeba had made this amazing Pineapple Mascarpone Cake that we cut for dessert.
|And us © I don't know who took this picture|
Anyhoo, you’ve got to read what the others have to say too. Read that at
Tanya Khanna @Communicatingandcooking
Deeba Rajpal @Passionateaboutbaking
Sangeeta Khanna @Benaraskakhana
Rekha Kakkar @Mytastycurry
Parul @ The Shirazine
Sid Khullar @Chefatlarge
Sushmita @ My Unfinished Life
Charis @ Culinary Storm
And now that I've got all that off my chest, I'm going to write out the recipe for this Mango Kheer, which honestly, once it was refurbished, I really quite enjoyed
|Eer beer kheer © Cookaroo|
Mango Kheer aka Aam ki Kheer
Adapted from Aditya Bal's Chak Le India Cookbook.
1/2 cup good quality basmati rice
4 1/2 cups of milk - divided - 2 plus 2 plus 1/2
3 tblsps of sugar
200 gms mango puree
3-4 ground cardamom
3 tblsp almond flakes
4 tblsp raisins
a few threads of saffron soaked in warm milk
1. Wash and drain the rice thoroughly. In a saucepan, add 2 cups of milk and the rice. Let it come to a boil and then simmer until the rice is cooked. At this point, it'll look like it's going to be spoilt, add a cup of milk instead.
2. Add the mango puree, sugar, a little saffron almonds (save a few for later) and raisins. Cook on sim for half an hour, stirring and adding a bit of milk (from the one cup) till the starts resembling a porridge.
3. Add the remaining milk and the cardamom and cook for another 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, taste for sugar and add the remaining saffron mix. Stir until its cools.
4. Top it with some almond flakes and serve cold.
|Pudding and pie © Cookaroo|