Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Dessert | Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake with Chocolate Peanut Ganache




This cake is just how it looks - decadent, rich and very very delicious. Which is why a thin slice is more than enough to satiate you for that moment. And I say that moment, because this cake will leave you craving for more.

It's sweet, salty, crunchy and smooth all at the same time, making this cake an all time winner in my bucket of recipes. The crunchy peanuts are worked into the cake batter and also on top of the ganache, giving you that unexpected texture with every bite.

Ofcourse I served this cake as dessert, but as my friend Mr R puts it, "This is a 4 pm cake best enjoyed with a shot of espresso." Why I asked him, because it deserves to be a meal in itself.




Point is, this totally delicious chocolate cake slathered by a thick layer to peanut butter and cream cheese frosting can be eaten straight out of a spoon. The addition of the chocolate peanut butter ganache is the game changer as the slight bitterness from the ganache contrasts beautifully with the sweet sweet frosting. But the icing on the cake, quite literally, are those salted peanuts. So don't omit that under any circumstance.

Yes, this seems like a really long recipe. Yes, it seems like a lot of ingredients. But no, it's not time consuming, infact a lot of it can happen simultaneously. And the best part it, once it's refrigerated it becomes a joy to slice.

Adapted from several recipes, this is perhaps one of my favourite cakes ever, and I can't wait to go at it another time.



Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
Adapted from this recipe by Smitten Kitchen
Serves as many as can handle


Ingredients
For the chocolate cake

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ cup oil
1/3 cup cream
1/3 cup yogurt
½ water
1 tablespoon distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1/4 cup salted peanuts

For the peanut butter cream cheese frosting

200 grams cream cheese at room temperature
100 grams butter at room temperature
2 cups of icing sugar
½ cup smooth peanut butter
½ tsp vanilla extract

For the chocolate peanut butter ganache

100 grams dark chocolate
100 grams low fat cream
2-3 tblsp smooth peanut butter
1 tsp honey

For the topping

1/2 cup salted peanuts
1/4 cup grated or chopped chocolate


Method

1. Start by making the cake. Preheat the oven at 180 degree centigrade.
2. Sift all the dry ingredients in a large bowl - flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder.sugar and salt. Keep it aside.
3. Mix all the wet ingredients in another bowl - oil, vinegar, yogurt, cream, vanilla, egg and water. Mix well.
4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add the peanuts to this mix.
5. Pour into a parchment paper lined round tin. Bake for about 35-40 minutes. Remove and cool until it comes to room temperature.
6. While the cake is baking make your frosting. Make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature.
7. In a large bowl cream the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add the icing sugar one cup at a time and then add the peanut butter and vanilla and whisk well. Keep it aside in the refrigerator until you're ready to frost.
8. Make the chocolate peanut butter ganache by bringing the cream to a boil and then pouring it over the chocolate. 
9. Once the chocolate has melted, add in the peanut butter and whisk until smooth. Add the honey to make it glossy.
10. When you're ready to frost  - put the cake on a flat surface and smother on a thick layer of frosting. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. And frost again to get neat edges.
11. Warm your ganache slightly and pour over the peanut butter frosting. Let it drip down the edges. Finally top with the salted peanuts and bits of chocolate.
12. Let the cake rest for about 1 hour before you decide to slice and eat. 




Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Dessert I Pasta di Cacao. Chocolate Pasta with Chocolate Soup and White Chocolate Mousse #DelMonteItalianEscapades #Indiblogger





Ok ok don't freak out, I'm not trying to kill you with a dessert that I pulled out of thin air. And as odious as it might sound, it's really quite delicious.

I know that most of us, don't think of pasta as anything but savoury, but trust me, this sweet version of the pasta will knock your socks off.

Chocolate Pasta or Pasta di Cacao is an Italian specialty that is made aplenty across Europe. Especially during the Eurochocolate Festival in Mid October.Yes, traditionally the chocolate pasta is handmade, with flour chocolate and eggs, I decided to see if the same could work with Del Monte Pasta  as well.  Plus this Indiblogger contest seemed to good to miss.

I boiled my pasta with a bit of good quality cocoa powder, some sugar and salt. The fusilli took on a beautiful brown colour as it simmered away and the pasta absorbed a delicious amount of cocoa and sugar, making me want to eat it just plain.

As odd as it sounds, chocolate pasta is quite a versatile treat, you can toss it in a bit savoury sauce, you can drizzle lemon curd with it, you can even do a mascarpone and sausage stir fry to make it a part of your main course.

I, ofcourse, decided to go the straight jacket way. For my sweet tooth, this just seemed the best bet. I couldn't find any fresh strawberries because I love the combination of strawberries and chocolate so instead decided to pair with a simple white chocolate mousse and some cold chocolate soup. Plus I had everything at home, so it just sort of worked out well.





The soup was simple to make, melt the chocolate, a bit of cream, a bit of milk, salt, sugar and vanilla and a touch of cornflour just allows the soup to thicken. Iadded a little bit of orange zest and a capful of Cointreau because, well, I love chocolate orange. You can totally omit the orangeyness.

The White chocolate mousse, was more to soften the dark chocolate tones. The sweetness of the white chocolate mousse worked beautifully against the slight bitterness of the cocoa. I made a shortcut version of the mousse, with white chocolate ganache and whipped cream.

So hows this pasta supposed to be eaten - cold, I say cold. There's a bit of texture in every bite and the smooth chocolate soup makes you want to slurp the dessert, making it quite a delicious and different dessert.




Chocolate Pasta with Chocolate Soup & White Chocolate Mousse
Serves 4

Ingredients

For the pasta

200 grams Del Monte Fusilli Pasta
4 cups of water
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder

For the Chocolate Soup

200 grams good quality dark chocolate
100 ml cream
100 ml + 4 tblsp milk
1 tblsp cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
a pinch of salt
1 tblsp corn flour
 1 tsp vanilla / orange zest / Cointreau

For the White Chocolate Mousse

100 grams white chocolate
100 ml low fat cream
a pinch of salt
100 ml whipping cream

For the garnish

Chocolate flakes
Mint leaves

Method

1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add sugar, salt, cocoa powder and the pasta to it. Cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and set aside.
2. Make the Chocolate soup by adding the chocolate,cocoa powder milk and cream to saucepan and allowing it to melt together.
3. Meanwhile mix the cornflour with the 4 tblsp of milk and make a thin paste. Pour into the chocolate mix.
4. Stir well, so that there are no lumps formed and add the sugar and salt and the vanilla or orange zest if using, to it. Bring to a boil. Turn off the gas and set it aside to cool.
5. To make the white chocolate mousse, chop the white chocolate into small pieces.
6. Bring the low fat cream and salt to a boil and pour over the white chocolate. Using a whisk, stir until smooth and glossy. Set aside to cool.
7. Whisk the whipping cream until soft peaks and using the cut and fold method, whisk into the white chocolate ganache. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
8. To assemble this dish. Pour the chocolate soup into the desired bowl. Add as much of the chocolate pasta as you'd like to it. Top with a spoonful of the white chocolate mousse. Sprinkle with chocolate flakes and a sprig of mint. Serve immediately.



Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Frozen Treat I Pomegranate & Blueberry Lemon Popsicles




The heat this summer was incredible. The monsoons haven't been kind to less either, to be fair. So it's anyone's guess how the winter will be this year.

I have had an incredibly tiring summer/monsoon though. One a scale of 1 to 10, I am 11 exhausted. Which is ok. Good infact, better than how low I was feeling a few months ago. This has been a summer of lots of new things for me, and I suppose I am learning to embrace that.

For starters, it was the summer where we adopted two grown up dogs. Quite an adjustment it is to your everyday life, I must say. But most fun too. It was also the summer of my siblings. My brother came to stay with me for over a month, which was lovely, but my sister moved out to another city last month, which has been a bummer. 




So I ended up cooking plenty this summer. Hating a lot of the time, I stayed in the kitchen, but nonetheless cooking. The summer also saw me making a lot of desserts. With my brother vying for something cold and sweet all the time, I make a lot of popsicles. 

I made these delicious Nutella Fudgesicles, that I had to make some four times over. I made Lemonade Popsicles with Kiwis and Strawberries, Mango & Berries Popsicles which I don't think I could even manage to take a picture of because they disappeared so quickly. 

So when I made these Pomegranate and Blueberry Popsicles, I made sure I took a picture. Firstly, because they were so darn refreshing, that they were perfect to beat the heat and secondly, because they were awesome. 

Easy to make, almost no fuss, popsicles have become my new favourite go-to things. Ofcourse you can mix and match your berries, and see what works for me. This combination was just phenomenal and the mint ofcourse made it even better.




Pomegranate & Blueberry Lemon Popsicles
Makes 6

Ingredients

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup blueberries
1 lemon sliced
10-12 mint leaves
250 ml water
8 tblsp sugar

Method

1. Mix the sugar and water together until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the mint leaves and keep aside.
2. In the popsicle mould, drop in the pomegranate seeds until 1/4 full.
3. Top wit blueberries, distributing them evenly.
4. Drop in one slice of lemon in each mould and then top with the sugar water mint mix until it's till the brim.
5. Freeze overnight. Serve chilled.





Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Review I SelectED Events & Dining. A Bespoke Catering Event at Heritage Village, Manesar




It may have been the peak of summer that just made me want a getaway badly. So when SelectED, the events and dining section of Select CityWalk decided to host a three part meal in a beautiful little resort in Manesar, not even hell could have stopped me from being there.

The three-part meal included a large spread for High Tea, a very quaint sit-down dinner and finally culminated in a beautifully spread out brunch the next morning. 

As we arrived at Heritage Resort & Spa in Manesar, Ishaan Sarkar, CEO of SelectED greeted us and gave us a glimpse into what we could expect for the next 24 hours. The idea, he said, was to experience all that the catering service could do and well, more.

Here's what I loved about SelectED - the personalised service. I loved the cute little touches with the personalised cupcakes, the menus and even the takeaway tokens. I loved how the entire staff knew us by name and how beautifully curated and designed it was.

I had this beautiful cupcake bouquet with my mug on a cookie in my room when I arrived. I think I was floored by then. A nap later it was time for the first event - the High Tea.

The High Tea

The High Tea was perhaps my least favourite of the three meals. I understood what the chef wanted to do - make a sweet table a la Sugar Stars on TLC but, it didn't work out conceptually because of the space crunch. From profiteroles to cupcakes to cookies. There was something for everyone. But only two desserts worked for me - the Spiced carrot madelines, which I thought were delicious and the Californian Avocado Pie - something distinctly different. 

The Linzer cookies and the chocolate danish were a bit of miss as were the Coconut Truffle Pops. But what I sorely missed were the savouries. So while the Quinoa tikkis and the Empanadas were fab, I just felt the Golgappass and the mini pizzas really didn't make the cut. And frankly the sweets outnumbered the savoury, making it quite unbalanced.

Having said that, it was nice to sit down and drink some tea and look around and chat up with everyone who was a part of those 24 hours.

We got a little time to rest between this and the big meal - the sit down dinner. Making up my mind whether I wanted to dress up or go my bhangi self, I think I made a good call to dress up.Because when I landed at the event - there was a fabulous cocktail party that was already underway. A lovely selection at the bar, I opted to drink an apple mojito, which I loved and drank through the next two events.



The Sit-Down Dinner

Two beautifully laid out tables decorated with just the most gorgeous candles and flowers, really took my breath away. There's really nothing quite like simple elegant dining. As it happened, I was seated next to Ishaan and Sid. Ishaan told me that at every event, he made sure that the chairs were repainted and that the flowers were fresh. Sid and I, instead just giggled over everything.

With our names on the menus, the first course was the Sarson ka saag mousse with the makki ki roti biscotti with a lassi shot as an accompaniment. What an amazing mouthful. The mousse was so light and flavourful, and the biscotti crusty and delicious. I would have happily popped a few more. 




For the second course, we had a choice of the Lobster, Salmon, Cottage Cheese and Eggplant. I, ofcourse, opted to eat the eggplant or the Ennai Kathrikai with String Hoppers topped with Tamarind Salsa. What a fabulous dish! The tartness from the tamarind paired beautifully with the eggplant which was flavoured with sesame and jaggery. A simple elegant dish, which was just fabulous. 

The sugarcane granita though was a bit if a damper. It was supposed to be a palate cleanser but instead was more like dessert. A bit of lime and some salt would have worked wonders for this.

Up next was a choice between the Gucchi Khichdi with Nimona Fragrant Basmati Rice,  Chicken nehari with pulled chicken khichadi and the New Zealand lamb chops with aam papad and kokum jus. To be fair, I wanted to try them all. So Sid and I decided to order different things and then share our portions. The Chicken Nehari was beautifully spiced. Mellow and delicious, this was a surefire winner for me. That is until I tasted the lamb chops. Oh. My.Word. The meat for the chops were tender and the accompanying kokum jus just elevated the dish completely. 


We managed to sneak in a taste of the Gucchi Khichadi too, and I must say, the vegetarians were in for a treat.Earthy and light, this was a way too delicious to be underestimated. 

Finally our dessert platter was brought out - ghevar, gulab jamun tart and a chocolate cup with raspberry sauce. All very nice, but not something I'd really want to eat again. Except maybe the chocolate cup, that was truly delicious. 

We all spent some time chatting before we called it a night and were told to take our time to come for brunch. 

The Outdoor Sunday Brunch

A lazy morning later, I was joined my husband and siblings for this meal. As we made our way to the garden, we were taken aback by how beautiful it was. Outdoor catering that was just fantastically laid out with beautiful huge copper pots, wooden embellishments and live stations.



Salads, fruits,  cold cuts, pastas, eggs - there was some intense amount of food. I ofcoursed spied the haleem over everything else and made a beeline to it. And loved it completely. Next up I opted to eat the Char Sui Bao off the like Bao counter. I ate the first one with great gusto and then ended up eating another two, because it was really so good.

But there were biryanis to try, daals to taste and so many meats to eat, that by the time we'd finished our meal which we began at 11.30 am, it was already 3 pm! And because I didn't really like the desserts the last two meals, I began the sampling of the desserts very tepidly. Oh how stupid I was.




The mangoffee pie was outstanding, as was the wasabi ice cream. The chocolate pots de creme, the pannacottas oh my, the desserts very simply exquisite. I had truly underestimated the dessert chef and have to say it was one of the most fabulous dessert counters I'd seen in a buffet.

As if that wasn't enough, we all got an amazing chocolate cake to takeaway in our goodie bag. Boy they really knew how to spoil us. 

SelectED is now a year old. They take only one order a day, so you can imagine the queue for something so fantastic. My advice is that if you have an event coming up, book them now.

Details:Select ED, Select Office Tower, 7th Floor, Select Citywalk, Saket, New Delhi-110017.
Tel: +91 95607 86491
Website: www.selected.in



Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Candy I Chocolate Walnut Fudge for California Walnuts



I love love love walnuts. They are my most favourite nuts. I am not so hot on almonds, cashews or even hazelnuts as I am about walnuts.

There's something quite fabulous about this brain-shaped nut. I love the earthy flavours and almost oily texture of the nut. I also love that that you can get a good dose of Omega 3 which I think is an added benefit as is Vitamin B, so yay for glowing skin!



So when the good people of the California Walnut  sent me a bagful of the most delicious walnuts (which by the way were sweet and crunchy all at the same time), my mind went on overdrive. I wanted to make a flourless cake at first, then a caramelised walnut tart. I thought about salads, I thought about making a pie crust and then I realised, it's the simplest thing that would make the walnuts shine through. And thus a fudge was born.

Chocolate, condensed milk, vanilla and walnuts. Four ingredients that make the most magical candy ever. And the way to make it? Oh-so-simple.

This is a recipe I remember making way back when I was 10.  The only chopping that's involved is of the walnuts and then it's literally child's play.



Chocolate Walnut Fudge
Serves 10

Ingredients

300 grams dark chocolate
200 grams condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 tblsp butter, melted
1 cup chopped walnuts


Method
1. Grease a loaf tin and line with parchment paper. Keep aside
2. Melt the chocolate on a double boiler or in the microwave. Add the the condensed milk to it and mix well.
3. Add all the remaining ingredients to it and stir until they come together.
4. Pour into the the loaf tin and refrigerate for 4 hours of until set.
5. Remove from the parchment once set and chop into bite-sized pieces. Serve cold.






Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Review I Tamra. All Day Dining At Shangri-La's Eros Hotel


I haven't been blogging. That's just stating the obvious I guess. But I really didn't have the time. So with posts piling up like crazy I just had to take the plunge to clear my debt.

But between a new job, a restaurant project, adopting dogs, unlimited house guests and my sister relocating, there was just never time to do what I wanted to i.e. blog. Not that I was cooking any less, mind you, I was cooking aplenty but I never had the time to photograph and then manage to sit down and write a post.

So now, as I sit with a clear head, now I blog.

First up is this memorable dinner I had at Tamra, the all-day dining at Shangri-La, a few months ago. High ceilings, low lightning, the company  of my father and sister and a menu that was simply exhaustive, it was a great evening to be alive.

First up, was the signature mocktail served in Tiki Tiki glasses. Refreshing, but super sweet, we switched to our favorites pretty quickly after that. Here's what you need to know about Tamra - there's just a lot of food - from Japanese to Italian to Chinese to Regional Indian and even good old fashioned Ghar ka Khaana. And what seems like unending is just the tip of the iceberg because I haven't even mentioned the salad bar or the dessert bar.



The Thai Chicken Croquetas were recommended to us, so we try. While the flavors of the lemongrass shone through beautifully, it was the chicken that bothered us quite a bit, the eat was way too meaty tasting and it was hard to even finish one..

But that didn't deter us from eating some more. Dimsums - corn and mushrooms and chicken sui mai - were both very light and easy but it was the vegetarian sushi that blew me away. The vegetarian maki roll and then california roll were both just perfect and the wasabi wasn't out of a tube and so you could get this brilliant hit from it.



The watermelon feta salad was absolutely stellar. This was no ordinary feta, but fresh thick chunks of cheese that were absolutely melt in the mouth. The crisp and sweet pieces of fruit, sharp rocket and the caramelised walnuts were just the perfect combination to this cheese.



We tried the focaccia and the pita pockets but what was surreal was the Indian food. The good old daal makhni , the chicken tikka and the amritsaru fish were what hit the spot. The daal was creamy and rich while the tikkas were delicious and flaky. The flavours were bang on and every bite was just utterly comforting.

So even when we thought we couldn't eat another morsel, the dessert menu was then shown to us. The signature Tamra Chocolate - shaped like a chocolate bomb - dissolved into a chocolaty mess when hot chocolate was poured over.



Then we just couldn't help our selves so we ordered the Grilled Pineapple and the Gulab Jamun flambe. Oh my lord. The combination of the hot and sweet pineapple with cold icecream was just amazing. Soaked in rum, this was perhaps my favourite dessert ever. Until I tried the Gulab Jamun flambe - oh the booziness of this dessert just took me to another time. Truly a dessert for big people, this dessert should be marked A.

Go to Tamra. Eat the Indian food. And the dessert. Both will take you to a higher place.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Baking I Mango Tres Leches Cake. Recipes that make you drool for #Blogmint



I'm a sucker for desserts. But you already knew that. And while I blog aplenty about chocolate, my favourite desserts are the not-so-chocolate ones. But you see, we aim to please, and that's why most of the time I'm making things that I know others love eating.

But this post, this post is about the recipes that made me drool. Some made it to the blog, some didn't. Not because I didn't want to talk about them, but because they were walloped down so quickly that I could barely take a picture.

Over the years I've collected a whole bunch of recipes that I have either cut out or bookmarked and then slowly made my way through them, depending on the season and how badly I've craved them. But whenever I've thumbed through them, I've known one thing - they've made me drool. Oh how they've made me drool.

For starters I love love love this Banana Nutella Ice cream that I'd been eyeing ever since I spotted it on Pinterest. But it took me almost a year to get around making it. Can I please tell you this takes exactly two ingredients? And it's the most creamy ice cream I've ever eaten.


And then there was my obsession with strawberries. Fresh strawberries, I mean. I  got pretty crazy I think over the last few years and have often turned to well-thumbed cookbooks and made a lot of delicious desserts with it. Strawberry frozen yogurt, cheesecakes, granitas and puddings but it was my favourite was this Hot Strawberry Souffle which was just as light as air.



I also have a deep love for wobbly desserts - creme brulee tops the list ofcourse (If you give me a vanilla-kissed or an orange-scented brulee, I'm your friend for life) followed closely by pudding and then panna cottas. I make a lot of those, because I really really find them easy to make and they are totally delicious.


I love how versatile the panna cotta is, it can take on so many different flavours and each time, the end result can be supremely stunning. But I have to say that the Nolen Gur and Coconut Panna Cotta was absolutely stellar. Mixing in flavours of the west with something Indian just made this even more fantastic. As was this Thai-inspired Mango Coconut Panna Cotta which I'd flavoured with a bit of basil and a bit of lime

To be a dessert is all about the taste. It can be inspired. It can be traditional. But more than anything it has to sound right. Which is why the Tres Leches Cake (pronounced Trace Lay Chays) has been on my to-do (for the blog) list forever.



A traditional Mexican cake that gets its name from the three different kinds of milk  - condensed, evaporated and cream (I've used condensed milk, coconut milk and skimmed milk in mine, you can mix and match through as well ) that a simple airy sponge is soaked in, this cake is the most moist cake you'd have ever eaten. It is sweet, almost pudding like, but it tastes like a piece of heaven. Served with a dollop of whipped cream and fruit or no fruit, this is a cake that's made for people like you and me who love their desserts.

To be honest, it barely takes any time to put together because it bakes up beautifully even when you're not looking. The only effort is whisking the egg whites, which if you have a hand mixer, should take you no more than 5 to 6 minutes.

Ofcourse then there's the wait. The wait for all the delicious milk to soak into the sponge. You could eat it after twenty minutes of soaking, but a good four to six hours, just elevates the flavours completely. I love topping the tres leches with some fruit to cut the sweetness, but you can just slather some whipped cream and just fork through. And I guarantee you, it'll be drool-worthy.






Mango Tres Leches Cake
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Ingredients

For the cake
1/2 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
2 egg yolks
3 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar (divided)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup milk

For the soaking liquid
200 ml condensed milk
200 ml coconut milk
100 ml milk

For the topping
100 ml whipping cream
3 tblsp icing sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 whole mangoes

Method.
1. Preheat the oven to 190 degree centigrade. Line a  6 or 7 inch baking tin with parchment paper and grease on top. Set aside.
2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
3. Take the yolks and add half the sugar to it (that is 1/4 cup) whisk until it is pale yellow. Stir in the milk and the vanilla. Add the flour mix to it and stir until just combined. Set aside.
4. Start whisking the gg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. Pour in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.
5. Fold egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.
6. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter and allow to cool.
7. Meanwhile Combine condensed milk, coconut milk, and regular cream in a small pitcher. It'll seem like a lot but just wait and see how the cake laps it all up.
8. When cake is cool, pierce the surface with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle all milk mixture—try to get as much around the edges of the cake as you can. Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for 30 minutes. Refrigerate.
8. To ice the cake, whip cream with 3 tablespoons of sugar until thick and spreadable. Spread over the surface of the cake. Decorate cake with slice mangoes and serve cold.


Food Festival I Mango Festival, Summer Collection at The Spice Route at the Imperial Hotel

I'm going to apologize for the terrible pictures straight up. The lighting is super low at Spice route and my camera was just unable to do justice the the spread that Chef Veena Arora had laid out for us on this hot summers day.




The Summer Collection, is a collection of all recipes mango that span across South-east Asia. There's Thai salads, South Indian soups, Sri Lankan curries and  lots of dessert. The truth is, there is no fruit more versatile than the mango.

Our meal started with a mango rasam - sweet and spicy tamarind soup which worked well with the sweet flesh of a ripe mango. Chef Veena, told us that while her most favourite mango was the Chaunsa variety, she was making do with alphonsos and even banganapallis till the variety of the fruit came into season.

Next up were two different Thai salads - yum mamuang pla krob - a raw mango salad which was served both the vegetarian and the fish way. Light and easy on the palate it was one of the nicest salads I've had in a long long time.

The yum woon salad - glass noodles, ripe mango and peanuts with crispy fried onions and fresh mint, it was a very refreshing salad. And even though I am not a glass noodle fan, I really couldn't stop myself from taking a second helping.

As our mains were brought on, we started chatting about her growing up years. Chef Veena told us about her years in Thailand and all what she had learnt. She talked about what they made at home and how the flavours always shone through.



There was was he Maampalam Katrikai  - eggplants with raw mango, cashew and wasterchestnut. Because the eggplant is such a versatile vegetable that takes on flavours easily, the combination of the raw mango and cashew gave it a very rich flavours and the waterchestnuts added a texture that is deceptively delicious. I have to say this was my favorite as well, only because I do love my eggplants so.

The Vietnamese style Stir fried chicken had plenty of ripe mangoes mixed with lots or spices which worked very well together.

Next up was the Kerala-style Irachi curry - beautifully slow cooked mutton that tasted wonderful with the mangoes. The mutton had flavors of coconut, and curry leaves that complimented the meat and the meat of the fruit wonderfully.



All this was served with mango appams, which I was eating for the first time and mango rice which was just sticky rice with bits of ripe mango. Sooo good. Sometimes I still dream of them appams.




To finish the meal, Chef Veena reached back to her roots - Mango Sticky Rice. Little did she know that this was one of my favorite desserts as well. Gooey sticky rice drenched in coconut milk and a lovely slice of alphonso mango.

The festival is on till July 15, so don't forget to book your table now!





Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Dessert I Mango Coconut Panna Cotta with Mango Curd




Sometimes when things get real hard for me I start ignoring my blog. These are times I have to make a tough decision. These are times when I have to ask myself some very difficult questions. These are times when I simply do not have the energy to cook and develop recipes for the blog.

I also feel uninspired. I don't enjoy reading my cookbooks, or watching some of my favourite food shows or even want to enter my kitchen. And thereby become a dud.

But now that I'm back to feeling a little like myself I know it's time to get back in the groove. So I go where inspiration strikes. I go back to comfort and to an old favourite.

Ok, so I make this dessert pretty often. I make it different avatars, bring together different flavours and make it work for me seasonal. I've done the White chocolate and  raspberry version and the Nolen Gur version on this blog already and this is how the latest looks.


This particular panna cotta is inspired by a Thai dessert that I love very very much - Mango Sticky Rice. Sweetened coconut milk poured over chewy rice paired with a decadent slice of mango. I, of course, omitted the rice and made the panna cotta as close to the dessert I could.

I used palm sugar. You can use plain white sugar. I used a bit of lemon grass. You can omit that completely. And finally I infused the mango with a bit of basil, you can omit that too if you don't like the flavours of basil.

But honestly, this is about the mango curd, this is something you can omit completely, but I'd say you should spend a bit of time making it (honestly it only take 15 minutes) because it's really worth it.

I used the recipe here for that.

Oh and there is really no excuse for not making this dessert, it is mango season after all.




Mango Coconut Panna Cotta with Mango Curd
Serves 6

Ingredients

For the panna cotta

100 ml fresh cream
200 ml coconut milk
1 piece of lemon grass stalk
1/2 cup palm sugar/ white sugar
a pinch of salt
1 tblsp gelatin
3 tblsp water

For the topping
Mango curd. Recipe here
1 ripe mango
A few sprigs of basil

Method.
1. In a little bowl, soak the gelatin with the water and keep it aside.
2. In a sauce pan heat the cream, coconut milk, lemon grass, salt and sugar together. Bring it to a boil turn off the gas and set aside.
3. Melt gelatin gently over low heat and pour into the coconut milk mixture.
4. Strain the mixture into individual cups and chill in the refrigerator until set.
5. Meanwhile make the topping by chopping the mangoes and the basil together.
6. Once the panna cotta has set, spoon a layer of the mango curd (omit if you don't have any) and top with the mango basil. Serve cold.



badge

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Frozen I Nutella Fudgsicles or Hazelnut Chocobars



Ok I know that I am posting back to back Nutella recipes. But there is a reason. Believe me there is. After making that fab Banana Nutella Ice cream I was left with half a jar of Nutella. It lay on the counter staring at me for a day and I was mighty tempted to cram it all into my mouth.

The only way I could stop myself from eating the rest of the jar was by making something. I needed to make something quickly with minimal fuss because I couldn't see myself standing in the kitchen for too long. It was just that hot.



As I spied the popsicle mould perched in a corner, I realised what I wanted was to make something cold that I could eat at the end of the night. And so fudgesicles it was.

Super quick, almost mess-free these Nutella Fudgesicles are a dream to make. Just make a large cup of hot chocolate and add half a jar of Nutella into it and freeze. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

I have to say, nothing but nothing was a bigger hit than these ice lollies. My brother, whose visiting ate one almost after every dinner and my husband wanted these for breakfast. They were really that good.

Ofcourse you can fiddle with the recipe, make it sweeter or more chocolatey, but for me this recipe worked just wonderfully.

Bottom line it, forget what I am saying - just MAKE. IT. NOW



Nutella Fudgesicle or Hazelnut Chocobars
Makes 6

Ingredients
250 ml milk
2 tbslp condensed milk
3 tblsp drinking chocolate mix  (if you're using plain cocoa use 2 tblsp)
150 ml Nutella
a pinch of salt

Method

1. In a saucepan add all the ingredients and heat gently until combined well.
2. Pour into popsicle mould. Freeze for atleast 6 hours or overnight.
3. Demould and eat.




Home Delivery I Lodi Restaurant


Have you guys been to the Lodi restaurant on Lodi Road next to Lodi Gardens yet? If you haven't, then you've been missing a gorgeous restaurant smack in the middle of Delhi. Beautiful trees, mist fans running and fairy lights, it does make for an amazing dining experience

I know I know, it's way too hot to go an eat out, especially nowadays, which is perhaps why you can bring back a bit of Lodi into your homes.

They've started delivering at home you see. Packaged neatly in cardboard casing, with dressings and relishes in mini jars. In fact so amazing is the packing from Lodi that you have to see for yourself.


We'd got a whole range of things to eat. It started with a portion of the Summer salad - summer greens, fresh tomatoes, pears and sun flower seeds with a dollop of goats cheese. On the side was the EVOO and honey dressing. The salad retained its shape through and through. In fact it even arrived slightly chilled. Which was fantastic I thought. Plus with the dressing on the side, I could opt to put in as much. Oh and the cutlery. Those I loved so much.

The homemade chicken liver pate came with own toasties and a side of fruit compote made for a great appetiser. Like the salad, this was chilled too and I truly enjoyed eating it.

Up next was the sole infused with chilli and ajwain. The fish was light and delicate and the little salad that it came with paired very well with the fish.




I'd also opted to eat the penne with smoked chicken with Parmesan cream and sun dried tomatoes. The tomatoes were dried in house and added a wonderful dimension to the pasta. Sent to me piping hot, I devoured this almost as soon as it arrived.




Finally, the meal ended with the Chocolate Mousse. A signature of sorts of the Lodi, it was light and airy and very delicious.

I have to say that the portion sizes are great. This sort of a meal would easily work for three people and to be fair the two of us ate it over two meals. But the truth is, they had me at their packaging. 

Printfriendly