Saturday, September 29, 2012

Empanada Gallega with curried chicken filling. Daring Bakers

How now  brown cow © Cookaroo
Finally! After three months of trying (and not!) I have managed to post a Daring Baker's challenge on time. The last time when we were to make the choux swans, my swans were so ugly, so ugly, that even ugly duckling would have gotten a superiority complex. The time before that, I was only able to complete one part of the challenge - meaning we had to make two kinds of crackers and I only landed up making one.

But this time, when I was really NOT going to do the challenge, I met up with Deeba and Himanshu - both DB enthusiasts - at Cafe G. Deeba asked me whether I'd seen this month's challenge. I hadn't. She promptly proceeded to hand Himanshu and me boxes of dry active yeast, telling us that she'd made hers and even gave me a sneak peek.

I was so kicked. And then when I read up on the challenge. Patri of the blog, Asi Son Los Cosas, was our September 2012 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she decided to tempt us with one of her family’s favorite recipes for Empanadas!  We were given two dough recipes to choose from and encouraged to fill our Empanadas as creatively as we wished!

What’s an empanada you ask? It's a Portugese stuffed bread that is baked or fried. Like our karanjee but has yeast in it. Sweet, savoury or anything you feel like can be filled in it. Patri said we should try whatever shapes we felt like, so I tried two - One to make a giant Empanada and two, make tiny pie-shaped ones. 

Call me a giant © Cookaroo
Unfortunately I do not have photos of both of the big and small ones together, because well, I was stupid. I should have put the bigger one first, because by the time it baked, the husband had polished off 5 of the smaller ones, so ya, I really didn't have much of a choice.

I decided to do a curried filing, only because I have this whole lot of Bolst's curry powder lying around and wanted to use it as much as I could. This doesn't make the filling like a typical Indian curry, but like a British-Indian curry. Peas and potatoes to give it more depth and textures.

I never realised that making empanadas - both the dough and the filling - could be that simple. I used the dough recipe that had whole wheat in it and I didn't dry up the filling as mentioned in the challenge. Instead I left it a little creamy, because I wanted it to dry up in the oven. I loved how the dough didn't feel heavy or cakey and that it tasted just like bread.

The egg wash helped it colour up beautifully. In fact when the husband saw it, he was like I love this shiny brown colour, makes it look so appetising, and then promptly proceeded to pop a really hot piece into his mouth.

Will I make this again? Yes! Yes and YES! I have to. I must. Because they were light and simple and easy on the stomach (ofcourse that had to do with the filling) but I am dying to make a sweet one as well. (I will soon). All in all, I am glad I didn't shirk from the challenge. So thank you Deeba, for egging me on.

Pie me a river © Cookaroo
Emapanada Gallega filled with curried chicken and potatoes

Wheat flour Empanada from  La Empanada Gallega

150 grams all-purpose flour
100 grams whole wheat flour
1/2 cup (120 ml) warm water
1/4 cup less 1 tablespoon (50 ml) of olive oil
1 1/2 tsp  dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 egg, whisked for the egg wash

  1. Shift the flour into a bowl, make a well in the middle and add all the ingredients (you should break the fresh yeast as much as possible).
  2. Mix with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients have been incorporated
  3. Turn dough onto your counter and knead for 8 minutes
  4. Make a ball and allow to rise covered with a cloth for about half an hour before using.
  5. Once risen, turn the dough back into a floured counter and cut it in half. Cover one half with the napkin to prevent drying.
  6. Spread the other half of the dough using a rolling pin. You can use a piece of wax paper over the counter, it will make it easier to move the dough around. Depending on the shape of your oven pan or cookie sheet, you will make a rectangle or a round.
  7. . Now, the thinness of the dough will depend on your choice of filling and how much bread you like in every bite.  For your first time, make it about 3mm thin (about 1/10th of an inch) and then adjust from that in the next ones you make

Curried chicken and potatoes filling 
2 potaoes, peeled and diced 
75 grams peas
2 tsp butter
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tsp dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 a chicken stock cube
2 chicken breast, poached in a liquid with garlic, onions, peppercorns, cloves and a bay leaf.

1. Peel and dice the potatoes. Boil then along with the peas until done.
2. Meanwhile poach the chicken. Poaching should take about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain. Shred once cool  Set aside
3. Chop onions and garlic. Saute in butter and add the flour and curry powder, add the chicken stock and milk and whisk. Add the stock cube. herbs, chilli flakes salt and pepper. 
4. Throw in the potatoes and peas. Add the shredded chicken.Stir and check for seasoning. Let the filling be creamy but not liquidy so that the bottom of the empanadas do not get soggy.
1. Roll the dough thin, cut into circles and press it into a tart tin. 
2. Fill with 3 tblsps of the filling.
3. Roll again to cut the top part of the pastry. Press down and roll the edges
4. Decorate as needed and brush egg wash on top
5. Bake  for 25 minutes to 30 minutes, till the tops are brown and the bottom layer is cooked through
6. Let it rest for 10 minutes before yanking out of its tin.

Bitten smitten © Cookaroo

Friday, September 28, 2012

Hot chocolate brownies. One pot.

Bitten not  finished © Cookaroo
Every single time I set out to bake a batch of brownies, it's like I have a battle in my head. Cakey? Fudgey? Gooey? Chewy? The options send me in a tizz.

I like fudgey you see, the husband cakey. And when people come over, I make a truffle brownie (which I'll post later sometimes) that are so gooey and so decadent that if you don't like them, I'll never bake another batch again.

Considering I have been baking brownies since I was 11, I'd have thunk that I'd be totally bored by them. I've baked different kinds of brownies for the last two decades and except for a point in time about 10 years ago, when I was baking them every weekend for friends, I now realise I don't bake them as much as I used to. That could also be because my repertoire has increased and I can bake a lot more things than I could then. Or that maybe my palate has changed.

Naah, that's not it. I think I love a good brownie anyway. I think no one's been asking me to bake some for them anymore. 

Anyway coming back to my brownie dilemma, this time around, I wanted to bake something that might suit both our palates and temperaments. So I decided to make a slightly cakey brownie which would fudge up overnight. 

I used hot chocolate to develop the chocolate flavour and coffee to make it more intense. I'd suggest you use good quality to chocolate. And if you don't want to buy cooking chocolate, use Bournville instead, the deep flavours will totally blow you away.

Here's something more - while you should stick to the butter to chocolate to eggs to flour ratio, you can play around with the flavours. Add some Kahlua, rum, cinnamon? It or chilli. (I love chilli chocolate brownies, will post them sometimes soon too.Gosh, the promises I make!) just takes your brownies to another level. And the best part? It's all done in one pot. So really very little mess. 

Cakey Fudgey © Cookaroo

One Pot Hot Chocolate Brownies

Makes 12 -16 large pieces, depending on your pan

200 grams semi sweet chocolate
125 grams butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 tblsps hot chocolate powder
1 tsp coffee powder
1 tblsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

1. In a microwave safe bowl, melt butter and chocolate. Stir until glossy and smooth.
2. Add sugar in a bowl. Stir well. Add eggs one at a time. Stir until smooth.
3. Add vanilla extract and coffee powder and the hot chocolate powder. 
4. Add flour and fold and finally add baking powder
5. In a parchment paper-lined tray, spread the batter evenly. Bake at 180 degrees for 40 minutes, till the tops are crackly.

Take a bow © Cookaroo

Am sending this to the Mad Scientist's Bake Fest which was initially started by Vardhini

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Degustation menu at Eau de Monsoon. Le Meridien

Photo courtsey: Sangeeta Khanna

In the last six months of blogging, I've learnt a lot.  But more than all that, I've made some lovely new friends.  Some of whom are awesome. Some of whom are inspiring. But most of all, they are just good human beings.  And I feel grateful that our paths have crossed at all.

Which is why I look forward to meeting with them, even if it means, I have to stretch myself and make it happen. Very often this also means, I am late for an event. Running between work, things for my friends and family, battling the traffic and this means that I am ALWAYS, almost always late.

That's what happened with me at the Le Meridien event last Saturday. A degustation menu that was meant to   show the talent of the chefs. Because I walked in late, it meant I missed out on the mixer before where everyone got to meet the others and also a presentation. I didn't however miss two other short presentations about the hotel. And this was 2 pm, while lunch etc was to begin at 1. By the time the chef had a quick chat with us about the menu, the food was served 45 minutes after that. Which meant the event wrapped up only around 4.30. Long, no, super long lunch.

Anyhoo, I opted to sample the vegetarian menu, while my neighbour and friend sampled the meat menu. For our amuse bouche - we got the same Asparagus Cappuccino, which was excellent. It had a hot and cold layer to it, making it all the more funky.

The next course was the same too - a deconstructed Samosa

So what was it? Stir-fried potatoes with cumin, served with a pea puree and a baked filo-like pastry. I thought it was quite nice and I really liked the pea puree. But it was nothing like eating a samosa. But since I don't like samosas, it suited me just fine. My neighbour, the samosa-lover had a bit of trouble getting along with it.

We were then served the twin tandoori chicken and tandoori paneer respectively

The paneer was ho-hum, but the chicken was really nice. Succulent, with the spices hitting the right spots, I think this is an excellent dish to have on their everyday menu. I didn't care for the roti that came with it and found it rather dry and tasteless.

This is where it all started going downhill for me

The Kaffir-lime infused prawn I was to told was nice, but the Tandoori broccoli I got was an unmitigated disaster. (I am not eating prawns for a bit because I've broken into hives the last two times). The broccoli was overcooked. There was no crunch, no bite to it. It was like eating a boiled cauliflower. The marination hadn't seeped in, and so what you got were raw flavours in the mouth. Quite a disappointment.

This is was followed by the sea bass in madras curry and the maize cannelloni. The sea bass was slightly overcooked and the spices in the madras curry were still raw. And I, the maize cannelloni taster, got a hair on my plate.

While my plate was changed, by then I had lost my appetite quite a bit and they were really taking very long between the courses. Anyhow we plodded along, oven roasted chicken in makhani gravy and paneer Cottage cheese and spinach in a salan gravy was served to us.

The cottage cheese was meh. Nothing to really write home about and the chicken was quite different. I liked the roulade and the presentation, but taste wise it was nothing spectacular. I mean it tasted of your average butter chicken.

The biryanis too - lamb and morels were just alright. I thought they were underspiced and under-salted and the raita in a shot glass, as brilliant as it looked, was really inconvenient.

Also, between courses we were sent two palate cleansers - Melon and ginger with a hint of lime and a mixed berry cleaner with rock salt. Both were awesome

To tell you the truth, I enjoyed the palate cleansers a lot more than I enjoyed the meal itself. Infact  if this whole meal would have been of cleansers, I am sure I'd have liked it better.

We were then served dessert. A trio in fact. Mango pannacota, Gulab jamun creme brulee and the Mascarpone kheer with pistachio.

The mascarpone kheer - while the idea was fabulous - I felt had a bit too much gelatin in it. The mango pannacotta had the same problem. But the gulab jamun creme brulee was superb. And when I saw superb, I mean it was mind-blowing. It was beautifully executive. Wasn't too sweet, had a lovely crack to it. Just a superb finish.

We were also handed out pan-flavoured chocolates, which I really liked a lot. It was filled with a pan-flavoured truffle and the chocolate was dark and not too sweet.

This was followed by coffee - by their award-winning Barista - and I was told that was superb too.

Most of our food was paired with a red and a white wine - Magandeep Singh was around to walk us through the pairings - and he also paired the dessert with a dessert wine by Torres. Which was really the best part of the meal. So much so, this was the wine the table drank the most.

 I think the Meridien guys were really sweet and they handed over tiny pots of wheatgrass and mint as our takebacks. What a lovely thing to do.

So what did I think of the food? I thought it was ok. Not the best I've had. I think there's plenty of room for improvement. The service could have been faster, the food could have been better - especially the main course and the afternoon could have wrapped up much quicker.

Having said that, I still enjoyed the afternoon. Why? Cause I was around some good people.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Egyptian Beetroot Dip. A.k.a Yogurtlu Pancar Mezesi

Deeply dippy © Cookaroo
I wish my weekends weren't this crazy. I wish I could turn my phone off and sleep, watch tv and mess around at home. Because by the time I know it, it's Monday again.

So I tumble in to work, all bleary-eyed and sleep deprived. Cursing myself for drinking Diet Coke yesterday, because the caffeine in it just doesn't let me sleep. I don't know how many sleepless nights I need to spend before I can call it quits with this cursed drink.

Caffiene and I are just not friends. If I drink cold coffee, I need to make sure I drink it before 4 pm. Anything later means I am up all night. A couple of sips from someone's coffee mug, gets my heart racing and  I am tired and wired at the same time (that's really the worst feeling). And Diet Coke at night? I might as well get up and do some housework - scrub the floors and wash the dishes - anything to tire myself out just so that I get some sleep.

Very often, I wonder what helps me fall asleep at night. Ofcourse there are days I am exhausted and I out before I touch the pillow. But on caffiene-laden days I need something more. Warm water with cinnamon works for me sometimes. Thoughts of redecorating help too. But lately, I think of all the photographs I need to take and sure enough I am able to catch some zzzs.

Take for example last night. We ate this dip - the Pancar Mezesi - or the Egyptian beetroot dip, along with some babaganoush, hummus and some lebanese roast chicken for dinner last night. And all night I dreamt of how I'd be able to photograph it and all the props I'd need.

Pinked! © Cookaroo
When I woke up in the morning, I went in search of the bowls and took the pains to sort the flat lavash out against the puffed ones for the photograph. And as it happened, since the idea was already in my head, it took me less than 20 minutes to figure this photograph out. (Thank god for the caffeine then huh?)

Anyhoo, I have got to tell you I loved this dip. No, scratch that, we loved this dip. My brother-in-law who's a bit icky poo about vegetables such as pumpkin and beetroot, really enjoyed it too. I ate this for breakfast and have carried it to snack on at tea.

Really simple, really easy, this dip also lasts for a few days in the fridge, so you can totally make it and forget about it. There's a lovely sweetness that the beets bring to it and if you're like me, and oven roast it, it intensifies the flavours as well. The yogurt adds the tang and the garlic a bit of sharpness. It taste awesome with some crackers or even slathered on a piece of baguette.

I made this with 6 beets, but my recipe is for just half. Because you know, people can be a little apprehensive about beetroot. I've adapted this dip from my friend Prachi from Orange Kitchens

Blitzed © Cookaroo

I am also sending this to September's Bookmarked recipes which is hosted by Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes which was started by Ruth of Ruth's Kitchen Experiment

Friday, September 21, 2012

Cafe G, Crowne Plaza Gurgaon. Restaurant Review

Macrooney for me © Cookaroo
It's not everyday that you are overwhelmed by the sheer proportion of a buffet. It's not everyday you see, so much food that you're unable to make up your mind. And it's certainly not everyday that you have a Blogger's table , so cozy that you're able to listen to each other's personal stories and enjoy their company.

That's what happened to us last week. When Deeba, Parul and Himanshu, who's first time it was with us, met up for dinner at Cafe G at Crowne Plaza in Gurgaon. Spoilt for choice and eager to try out everything, we decided to shoot before we sat down to eat.

Truth was, there was a lot to shoot. But what I was totally taken in by, was how beautifully they had used food as decor. So aesthetically pleasing. I loved the jarred oranges and corn ears. I loved the bread castle, I loved the macaron towers. I loved, well, honestly everything.

When we walked in, there were hardly any people. Which meant we could be a little rambunctious, but even as we sat around and waiting for signature specials, we could see how quickly the place filled up. Lots and lots of expats wandered around trying to figure out what they'd like to eat. We, of course were too busy taking photographs.
Cafe G offers a buffet that changes daily. That days theme was Italian. Which meant that other than the Indian, European and Pan-Asian fare, we were being treated to some good Italian. And that didn't include the pizzas.

Of course, this also meant we were spoilt for choice. There were cold cuts, salads and cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. So you can just about imagine what I made a beeline for.

The thing with this buffet was that you were merely sampling. Because if you dared to eat more than a sample size portion, you'd be bursting from your seams. So when the super efficient and really friendly staff asked us to sample the hotel's Signature dishes, the four of looked at each other rather horrified.

More food!!? But you have to try, they said. Small portions please. And small portions is what we got. A lovely watermelon and feta salad, a lamb tagine with cous cous which was falling off the bone and an Thai eggplant salad, that was really quite phenomenal.

Would it surprise you, if I told you we licked the bowls of the specials clean? No? Ok then I've got to tell you what else we ate.

Off the European counter, I tried a number of things. The Hassel-back potatoes were lovely, Lamb Osso Bucco, which was falling off the bone again, Honey roasted chicken, Sea bass au papiote, Pumpkin lasagna and Eggplant parmesan

After which I headed straight for the Italian counter. Where I tried everything. And when I say tried, I mean tried. Teaspoon sized portions of the squid, polenta, the chicken, the risotto balls all made their way to my plate. And really that's all I could have possibly eaten.

I've got to be honest here. We were all eating small. You know why? Because the dessert spread was so vast that it was awesome! And well, you had to have kept space for that.

There was chocolate mudcake, strawberry pannacotta, pear tart, white chocolate and kiwi tartlets, baked yogurt, choux filled with white chocolate, passion fruit cakelets, cheesecake, Oh just so much. So so so so much

And even as we were struggling through the course, Parul did the most sensible thing. Ordered for a coffee ice cream. To which all of us jumped at. It was the perfect finish to the meal. Light, caffeined and not to sweet. Quite superb.

So what did I think of the meal? I wish I had more time or more of an appetite to do justice to the food. I thought that the salads are really lovely. I loved the fact that all of it was put on ice (like an oyster bar) which was a great way of keeping the cold cuts and the salads fresh.

I also like quite a bit of the mains. I think the Eggplant Parmesan was superb and even the sea bass. But the things that stole the show were the Signature dishes. I don't think I've had a better tagine. The Thai salad with the wonton was another show stopper for me, as was the coffee ice cream.

But more than anything, I really liked the ambiance. It was busy, but quietly so. It was aesthetic and not one bit jarring. And the company? Well, it's always the best isn't it?

The others that day at the Table:
Parul of The Shirazine
Deeba of Passionate about Baking
Himanshu of The White Ramekins

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Coffee Pannacotta with Espresso Jelly

Waking up and smelling the coffee © Cookaroo
So, I've just started a new job. There was nothing wrong with my old one, except I was feeling quite saturated there. This job, came as a blessing, and now that I've been around for a few days, all I can feel is pure gratitude.

So I want to take a moment here and say, thank you God. Thank you for not letting me give up  when I was feeling completely helpless. Thank you for just not giving up on me.

It's been a turbulent year, but this blog has given me some focus, some purpose. And I am grateful for that too. And right now, as I type this out, I can feel myself getting to a better place. And so, I thank you.

 So this is my peace offering to God. I think I've woken up and smelt some coffee. And I wanted to show how. I wanted to post this recipe on Monday, because, you know, I like to start with something sweet every week, makes the Monday blues, well almost pink. But I suppose I had to do this this way.

There were two reasons, that this dessert was made. One, I had a glut of cream leftover after I had made Yogurt Pannacotta with Orange Blossom Syrup which was for my Guest Post at Priya's blog Bon Appetit. Two, I had lots of Espresso Preserve which wanted to incoporate into a dessert. And three, well I was sick of chocolate.

I found that I had only two teaspoons of instant cofffee at home. Not enough for a cake, not enough to make cold coffee either. But it was enough to make a dessert that could offset the Espresso Preserve. Pannacotta - or cooked cream is one of the easiest desserts to make. And I always make mine with agar agar (china grass) because I like it not very gelatinous but creamy and smooth. Plus it's also good for vegetarian. And as it turned out, the coffee was enough four servings.

The awesome thing with pannacottas (all sorts) are that they are super quick to make and there's very little assembly required at serving time. So if you have people coming over in the evening, this can be made at breakfast time, forgotten about it and then promptly served.

While the coffee pannacotta was very mild when I made it, it developed a sort of intensity overnight. And the espresso jelly matched it perfectly. 

And just like my warning yesterday, this is also just for coffee addicts :)

Coffeed © Cookaroo

Coffee Pannacotta with Espresso Jelly
Serves 4

For the pannacotta
1 1/2 cup low fat cream
6 tblsp sugar
1 cup milk
2 tsp coffee
4 tsp agar agar

12 tsp Espresso Jelly


1. Heat milk, cream and sugar together, till the sugar dissolves
2. Add the coffee and the agar agar. Stir till they are both well-incorporated
3. Strain and pour into ramekins. Let it set for 8 hours or up to 24 hours
4. Pour 3 tsp of espresso jelly over each ramekin. Let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Coffee bean no tea leaf © Cookaroo

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Espresso Jam/Jelly

Caffeine fix © Cookaroo
Are you trying to figure out what I'm going to do with this? So am I.

Not so much as figure out, but how well I am going to be able to use it and all the fun I am going to have with it.

I made this espresso jelly because I was baking some cookies for my friend Radical. She's been demanding cookies for me for the last six months. The catch? She lives in Hyderabad and wanted me to courier some to her. I wasn't sure how I was going to be able to courier cookies, so I decided to bide my time until she got here.

And when she did, I asked her before she could remind me again. What flavours us do you want, I asked. I don't want anything with nuts, no lemon, no ginger, no fruits,no dried fruit, no savoury, she said. Which basically left us with coffee, chocolate and well more chocolate.

Chocolate chip ok, I asked? Yes! Double chocolate fudge, but ofcourse! So now I had to figure out what I could do with coffee. I decided to make espresso thumbprint cookies which I thought I could fill with  chocolate ganache. But so much chocolate was already making me nauseous. Instead, I decided to fill it with more coffee.

I looked for a coffee jam recipe. Nothing really turned up. So I thought maybe it was time for some trial and error - and voila! this espresso jam/jelly was produced. It filled the cookies really beautifully and added a depth of flavour, I couldn't even imagine.

Since then, I've given away one bottle, drizzled it on ice cream and used it in a cake. Slathered it on a biscuit and snacked on it and well, licked it off a spoon too

But I have a serious warning: This is for coffee addicts only. For others, I'll have to dream up something else. :)

Cookie friendly © Cookaroo
Espresso Jelly

1 cup strong fresh pressed espresso
(By that I mean use three tablespoons of coffee per press)
1/2 cup sugar
4 tsps agar agar
1 tsp Kahlua

1. Press the coffee with very hot water so that it's easier for the sugar to dissolve in.
2. Add the agar agar, and stir till it dissolves completely.
3. Add the Kahlua and strain into the desired container. Let it sit for 8 hours before using

Beans © Cookaroo

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sri Lankan Food Festival. Double Tree Hitlon. Review

I feel terrible I have to begin the week with a review, but there was so much going on last week and this weekend, I haven't had a chance to take a breather (or photographs) but bear with me this week and I'll be good the next. I promise.

I am always skeptical about food festivals. But if I'm invited to something South Indian, I am always super kicked because that means two things - steaming hot appams/ dosas and nice moru to drink.

So when I was told that "hoppers"were involved in the Sri Lankan food festival at Double Tree Hotel, I was more than thrilled. Both kinds of hoppers- string and plain are my favourite. That is both the idiappam and the plain appam. A touch of meat gravy or a hearty stew, you've already made a place in my heart.

Egg Appam/Hopper © Nimpipi

The menu was quite vast and since there was a buffet - a mixed variety with not just Sri Lankan food, there was a lot to pick from. We started with this lovely Tender Coconut refresher which had mint and lemon in it. And then went on to peck at the salad.

Except for the carrot and coconut salad, everything else was more or less not from Sri Lanka, but they were really good. There was a Bitter gourd (karela) with pickled onion salad which really stood out for me. The flavours really came together and I loved the bite from the crisp karela.

The other salad that I loved for the Aubergine and pineapple salad which was dressed with just some S&P and perhaps from cumin. Another set of new flavours and a total flavour explosion for me.

I had plonked a salad or two more on my plate. But none of them really made an impression. So I headed to the soup - a lovely Pumpkin, curry leaves and cashew soup. The flavours were mellow and it hit the spot beautifully.

I turned to one of my most favourite things - the Kothu Paratha. Which is mixture of eggs, flavoured meat (with curry leaves and mustard seeds and red chillies) and a malabar paratha that has been chopped up, refried and tempered. Almost like a parathe ka bhel.

I opted to eat the vegetarian version of the same. It was served to me on my table  - piping hot and amazing.

Kothu Paratha © Nimpipi
 Then finally I made it to the main course. So many things to eat, it was quite mind-boggling.The Acharu Crab was what grabbed my attention. I picked out a claw and placed it on my plate. And the mutton battilco. And the Brinjal Moju. I loved all three. Except I couldn't get the meat out of the crab and when I asked for a crab cracker, I was told they didn't have one.

Parul told me to hold the claw in the middle of my palm and hit it with the back of the spoon to break it open. I did exactly that, and out it popped on to Sushmita who was sitting next to me. Didn't go as well as we'd hoped.

I loved the Moju and even though it wasn't photographed well, I thought it tasted lovely. But what I really liked was this leek stirfry which didn't look that hot, but tasted very good. I also liked the green beans poriyal and the okra fry. I ate all this with a plain ól appam, which was light and delicious. There was also some dried fish to eat as an accompaniment.

Dried fish

I didn't try all the non-Sri Lankan food only because I was quite full by then and wanted to nibble at the dessert. I plonked a piece of the Walnut Custard or the Kalu Dodol, but it was just terribly sweet and I had to put it aside. I could have tried the coconut ladoo or the chocolate barfi, but instead I decided eat a piece of the chocolate cake. That was a good move. Unfortunately we finished it before I could photograph it.

Coconut Ladoo
The festival was nice and I enjoyed quite a few things that I ate, but my problem, like I have with most South Indian food festivals is that they are not able to maintain the quality. There were just a few discrepancies in the menu, and I feel that could have really been corrected.

And also the gaudy decor outside Cafe on 3 - the restaurant at Double Tree where the promotion is being held, needs to be taken off. Like pronto. Balloons and cement don't maketh a beach.

Anyhoo. I enjoyed the evening, like all our Blogger's Table, it's noisy and fun. Check out what Charis, Sangeeta, Susmita and Parul also have to say about it.

The festival is on till September 23.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Cool Kitchen Gadgets. And things people are free to send to me

I totally love kitchen gadgets and if you've been around for a bit with me, you'd know that I am a sucker for things in the kitchen. Right when I'd just started blogging, I'd talked about how I want some of the things which were, well, not just usable in the kitchen.

These gadgets here make great presents (to give and for myself too) and I just wanted to share my finds with everyone. Really totally cool.

1. Finger food party plates: Throw a lot of parties? I think this is a great buy. So convenient and so totally practical. I want to kiss the designer.

2. This is one my favourite gadgets, I haven't stopped laughing ever since I stumbled upon it. Because, it really means a lot. My husband and I are constantly fighting over that last scoop of ice cream. We know who's going to win now, thanks to the Ben & Jerry's Euphori- Lock

3. How much time and space this would save! Jealous of anyone who own's this Three-in-one Breakfast Station

4. Pizza Plates. So cool. So cool. Perfect for pie slices as well. And maybe cake. I want.
5.  I don't about others, but I want this. I'd happily carry it to work every day this Mini Sandwich Lunch Box
6. Rubix Cube Coasters. Has a matching mug as well. Reminds me how I used to cheat at it
7. Little piglet holding corn-on-the-cob. Such fun. Charcoal Companion Corn Holders
 8.  Cut the Cheese Knives. These are absolutely adorable. I wanted to save them for another post, but I just had to share
9. I love salad bowls and serving dishes. And this one is totally funky - Wheel Barrow Salad bowl with wooden salad servers
10. This totally reminded me of my brother and that I should get him a present. Flipper Guitar Spatula

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Corniest Corn Bread with Olives and Chillis

 Not so corny © Cookaroo
The monsoons are a great time to clean out the pantry. Otherwise by the end of the season, you're always stuck with yeast that refuses to rise, gelatin that just won't gel and all sorts of flours that may go rancid any moment.

And seriously just how much can you stuff into the freezer too right? Mine is already chockablock with dry fruits, coffees, cocoa powders and meats that sometimes its impossible to even to get a bag of ice cubes into it. So last week, I finally decided to see what I needed to get rid of and what I could possibly use up. Which is when I found half a bag of corn maize that I had bought to make Cornmeal muffins for the Daring Cooks Challenge last month.

And then I also found a tin of corn that needed to be used up within the next couple of months. Two things I had to use up as soon as I could. So for breakfast the next morning, I figured I'd make a corn bread that I could eat for breakfast and with some soup for dinner. I rummaged to find complementary flavours and ground the corn maize in my coffee grinder to get the kind of corn meal I wanted.

I've used yogurt and olive oil in my recipe and really its worked quite fine for me. The crumb had a nice feel to it and I really like the texture as it was a cross between a bread and a muffin. Oh why is it corniest corn bread? Because apart from the corn meal and the corn kernels I've even used a i tin of Del Monte's sweet corn cream style.

 Show me the butter © Cookaroo
Corniest Corn bread with olives and chilli

2 cups corn meal or makki ka atta
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp chilli flakes or 3 dried red chillis chopped
1 tin Del Monte's Cream Style Corn
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 cup millk
1/4 cup Del Monte's extra virgin olive oil
1 egg
1 tin Del Monte's Corn Kernels
4 tblsps Del Monte's green olives


1. Mix the dry ingredients - corn meal, flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, chillis and sugar in a bowl. Set aside.
2. In a separate bowl break the egg and whisk. Add cream style corn to it along with the yogurt, olive oil and  milk.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients till just combined. And add the corn kernels and green olives. Stir to mix. DO NOT OVERMIX.
4. Tip the mixture into a prepared pan. Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes to 55 minutes at 180 degree centigrade. Serve warm with butter.

Slathered © Cookaroo

Anyhoo this is going for Bakefest at the Mad Scientist's which was started off by Vardhini

And to the Del Monte's Recipe Carnival which is being held at Indiblogger and you check out World Foody's Facebook page as well. This is my second entry to the contest - the first being the Prune and Chocolate Cake.