Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mango Kheer. Aditya Bal's Chak Le India. Interaction on the Blogger's Table and a book review

 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
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.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

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


Method
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

23 comments:

  1. Hey Girl, what a lovely post.. enjoyed reading it thoroughly!! I like Aditya Bal, used to follow Chak le India and Chak le Academy, so nice of him to take the criticism positively (most of which is no fault of his own)
    You had great company, great food, and Deeba's dessert! Sounds perfect!
    Coming back to the post, I have seen Aditya make this kheer on Chak le Academy, thanks for sharing the 'correct' recipe. think I can make this for the Ganapati Festival, should have some mangoes by then!

    P.S - Nice pic

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    Replies
    1. Yay! Glad you like it Gauri, I thought I was rambling. glad you like the pic too. But truly the kheer was very nice

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  2. ha ha..Ruchira.
    All that off your chest. Much needed in fact.. T'was a disaster :(

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    Replies
    1. 'twas totally. I feel relieved though now

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  3. I said you got writing style my lovely, and there you go...wow! Well done. That was a load off your chest and I've waited long for your version of the gentlemans' mango kheer. Love the way you say, "At this point, it'll look like it's going to be spoilt, add a cup of milk instead." LOL, nice trade off!! You got a group pic? Honestly, girl you rock! Where did you find that? May I nick it?

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    Replies
    1. Hahaha Deeba, you're very generous. Please go ahead, the photos not even mine, Charis sent it to me.

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  4. Nice post. I enjoyed reading it.

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  5. Nicely written post, Ruchira. I seriously can't believe that a rep from a publishing house doesn't care a damn bit about how well-written a book is. I recently edited a cookbook, and trust me, the authors do not really pay any attention to what they are writing; be it grammar or even names of ingredients. Anyhow, I am glad you could change the recipe around and make a lovely dessert :-)

    Aparna

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can you imagine and to admit it? I was totally appalled

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    2. I condone the plight of the books that are published by her company!

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  6. Wow, well written & great clicks too. The kheer is super tempting

    http://shwetainthekitchen.blogspot.com/

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Shweta :) The Kheer was lovely too

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  7. Maruthi fruits we are one of the foremost mango pulp manufacturers in India. We manufacture mango pulps like Mango Pulp. Our natural alphonso mango pulp are known for their wondrous quality level.

    For More Details
    http://www.maruthifruits.com/

    ReplyDelete
  8. That was a great write up. I enjoyed every single bit of it. As for the grammar and the bad paper quality, well small publishers & now it seems even the one's that are on the better side don't give a damn. I used to work with a small publishing house and got really pissed when my boss said, "Kon dekhe ga, jaldi jaldi kitab nikalna jyada zaroori hai. Market me presence banega." N I was like, in my mind, bullshit, I'll never ever recommend your books to anyone. Sigh !
    The Indian Publishing Industry has yet to mature a lot.

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    Replies
    1. Totally! Its such an incompetent way of thinking. So very sad. But thank you Rituparna, we missed you the other day

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  9. Loved the post :) I made mango kheer some months ago and only spiced it with cinnamon powder. That was super too!

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  10. omg- the audacity of the westland rep ! Pity really. Loved the review gal

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    1. :) Yup. Can you imagine! Crazy I say crazy

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  11. Wow, you sound like a bunch of unprofessional, mean spirited losers who set this poor guy up for the kill. Why would you be so rude to someone. If you pretend to know anything about publishing, then blame the publisher,not him. It sounds like you planned for weeks to humiliate him, and have some vendetta against him. You didn't like the food at Veda, you didn't like the decor, but you show up for the free meal. You have every right to your opinions but this is just rude behavior. Who are you anyway and what have you done...are you a 12 year old bully.....? That's what this posting says. I hope someone does that to you and clearly have because this blog is all you have to show.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Rachel,
      Thank you for taking out time to read this. My piece seems to have really peeved you but I'd like to clarify a couple of things.
      1. None of us showed up for a "free meal". The meal was incidental. We were invited to review the book and talk to Aditya about it. And that's exactly what we did.
      2. I tried 2 recipes from it, and both turned out to be not quite right. However I've tried to fix it and not be rude about it. Infact when we spoke to aditya he was quite open to the criticism.
      3. I really liked Aditya. He was very humble and down-to-earth and if you'd just read the piece properly you'd have got the gist of it.
      4. Who am I? Well, I've been writing about food for the last 8 years and have been a cooking for over 20 years now. So I'd say, am not just a blogger and this is not all I have to show.
      5. And my book? It's being published by a publishing house which can produce a book better than Westland
      My question however to you is this - would like to join us for our next table event? You can see how it's done and why we call a spade a spade no matter where or what happens

      Delete
  12. Nice post, I bookmark your blog because I found very good information on your blog, Thanks for sharing more informatiom
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    ReplyDelete

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