Thursday, 23 April 2015

The On Tour Diaries: Jaipur

This year has been full of travel. Yes, I know that we’re just about a quarter of the way through, but it’s been full of flights & food in different places that I would never have eaten at on my own. High fives for working in different cities!


My usual trips to Jaipur involve eating at the Rambagh Palace a lot, and I miss out on all the street food. Now I’m not really complaining, I love Rambagh, but it's nice to eat at other places too :) We did an event at Mahima Trinity Mall which unfortunately didn’t boast of any food court whatsoever. 

woefully under exciting food
Luckily, there were 2 guys with food carts right outside that kept us happy all day.

Aloo parathas (Rs 20 for 2) with a little bit of lime pickle & some gravy made amazing breakfast every day, as did the Chole Khulche – something I have never eaten before! 

I peeked into the Chole-walas cart, and got some up close pictures. I am onion-phobic and refuse to even taste food with raw onion in it, which meant that I was eating a lot of food on my own each time. (It explains the few kilos I put on in Jaipur too).

Prepping the chole

Heating the kulcha
Mixing masala
The lal maas in Rajasthan is world famous, and my favourite place to eat it is at Dhola Maru, in Clarks Amer. ‘Handi’ comes a close second. Lal Maas - translated as 'red meat' - is essentially a mutton curry that's made with lots of spices and yogurt to temper it down. The gravy is thick and delicious, and the meat is so soft it falls apart at the lightest touch. 

It was the first time I’d eaten there. You walk through a narrow doorway into a huge space that is brightly decorated with Rajasthani art. Uniformed waiters hand you menus that are just confusing – how do you choose from so many different dishes!  I can’t really tell the difference between one gravy & the other, and let someone who has been here before order for us. That’s the most intelligent thing we did! Say hello to Jungli Maas, which is succulent, tender pieces of lamb cooked in an equal weight of ghee and red chilli. Unbelievable. So good for the soul, so terrible for the waistline. 

Heart attack on a plate
While we did eat a lot of the other food, the one that's worth talking about the most is the Jungli Maas. Their tikkas, butter chicken, lal maas and fantastic kulchas and naans are also pretty awesome. 

This is definitely a place I am going to visit again and again and again. Oh my lord! 

Parathas in crime

Monday, 20 April 2015

Salt & Pepper

It’s not often that I discover a new place to eat that I go absolutely crazy over. One of my primary complaints is that every new restaurant that opens right now is serving the exact same food. With a little dash of truffle, or a little splash of sea salt – but the base menu is the same.

This problem of plenty extends from Mumbai and works its way to sunny Goa, where every second shack promises you the ‘best butter garlic in the state’ and the ‘freshest fish’. Everyone has their old favourites when it comes to eating in goa, and its rare that we deviate from our chosen routes. I spent a week in goa working on an event last month that changed the way I look at food. A base breakfast of eggs and toast and extremely odd coffee did nothing to help me stay full through the day. We were staying in Vagator, and walking ourselves up and down to the site and back. An afternoon wander in search of food revealed a quaint white bungalow with a bright yellow roof and a pretty garden boasting ‘the best burgers’. Naturally, we went in.

Just a preview

Garden view 
The restaurant is set in an outhouse on what is a family’s 100 year old property, and the kitchen is manned by the ladies of the house. Very picturesque, and a place I would love to go back to with a book and time on my hands.

Swing set
The food is made from scratch - FRESH!!, which means that you must ignore the frenetic racing in your head and the urge to rush through your meal. Sit back and enjoy the garden. Breathe in the smell of freshly made food. Listen to the sounds of the quiet streets and turn away from the ticking of the clock. For a little while, just lose yourself... 

The Yin & Yang of hummus
The hummus & pita is a great starter, and is on your table almost as quickly as you order it.  I can't eat in a Goan restaurant without having a banana milkshake, and this one didn't disappoint. It could have been slightly colder, but I'm not complaining! 

My goan staple - the banana milkshake
The rava fried prawns came accompanied with piping hot thinly cut fries, they fell apart oh - so - crumbly when I picked them up, and needed the smallest squeeze of lemon to go with each prawn. Divinity. 

Rava fried prawns
So pretty I had to take 2 pictures
For my non sea food eating friends, we had beef chilly fry, which was sweet, spicy and reminiscent of everything authentically Goan. I'm not a major chilly fry fan, but it got murmurs of approval all around the table. 

Beef chilly Fry
The most difficult thing to do when ordering a burger sometimes is choosing the correct burger to order. The more options you have, the more the margin for error increases, and the more confused you get! We decided to stick to the basics and order the Beef Super Dooper with Cheese & Chips. You can get all sorts of options here - vegetarian, chicken, beef & double beef - as well as a plethora of toppings - pineapple, onion, cheese & egg, cheese & ham, cheese-ham-bacon-eggs, regular cheese, etc. All interesting in themselves and not at all expensive. The burgers come served in goan poi rather than in a burger bun, which makes them all the more interesting and easy to eat. 

So do yourself a favour, and the next time you're in Vagator - make sure you drop in! 

Thursday, 2 April 2015

It Rose Like A Beast

I’ve been away for a while, I know. There’s been a lot going on, but I promise I’m back for good. New start, (shiny) new oven, stove & a chimney that looks like it used to be a spaceship. Oh the joys of cooking! 

I’m introducing a new section on the blog – a guest section, where I have friends, family & other animals write about their culinary adventures. It could be someone trying a recipe, visiting a restaurant or simply waxing eloquent about food. 

My first guest blogger is Mitalee – a super creative, energetic free spirit with a passion for words and wonder. This is an account of the first time she made bread....

 “On travels,” a friend had told me, “the motto is to do one new thing a day”. 

It was the long weekend of 26th Jan, when my mind was clearly traveling without the body. I told myself that I would do one new thing for the weekend. Tic tic toc. It’s 10 pm on Monday and I'm just back from a long ass walk to a healthy start and hence super lazy. But it was either now or another weekend where promises were made to be broken.

So shoes still on, determination filling through the veins, with the intention of buying herbs, (cause every day is a great day to buy some herbs) I set off. 

I had seen a supremely easy DIY recipe video for chocolate star bread. And I was feeling all cheffie (like yay!). It's easy peasy - obviously! Unfortunately this was a video cut short which was MADE to look zip zap zoom. I later learned that it involved making the bread dough from scratch and then it was still a little zoom. I decided to just make some bread. Focaccia seemed more exciting than just plain bread to me. It’s me - I’d always rather do something more exotic looking than usual.

The final product

So after crunching my head through a million sites I closed on one from Inspired Taste.
Ingredients - check
Pyjamas - check
No one around to fry me – check
The boon of 1am baking. No tsk tsk instructions from the master chef in the house (I love you ma).

Do note this was the first time I was baking, ever- I'm not going to count the one time I baked brownies at all (erm). 

So I just followed the steps.
Get hands dirty. Rub it all together. Then bring mac back to life and scroll down for more.

First. Make the garlic herbs olive oil yumminess. 
One cup of olive oil. 2 cloves of garlic. 1 tsp rosemary. 1tsp thyme. And whatever else you want.  
On the flame for two minutes. DO NOT LET THE GARLIC COOK. 

Second. Activate yeast in warm water/milk.

Third. Add one cup of flour and 1/4 of the garlic herb oil mix. One tsp of honey. The yeast. Make a mix. Just moist enough. Let it sit for about five minutes.  

Fourth. Add the rest of the flour and salt. Make the dough come together. (This might not be as easy as it sounds. I ended up adding too much water, but the world teaches you - If it’s too wet- add more dry stuff, if it’s too dry- add more wet stuff, hah!)

Fifth. Then get to the fun part, kneading the dough. Get in there as much as you like. Read the instruction 10-15 times. But I guess you will know when it’s about right. It will be one big dough ball, all soft and together. 

Sixth. Oil a large bowl. Make the boy sit. Sit in there. Covered with a warm cloth (I just wet a new kitchen towel, microwaved it for 2 minutes and boom), preferably in the warmest place in your kitchen/house/heart. <3

Ready for the oven
Watch an episode of The Affair. (Start to end – 1hour, boom) 

So pretty!
Heat the oven to 230 ͦC. Use 2 table spoons of the garlic olive oil yumminess to line your baking tray/dish. Drop the ball in and with your fingers make dimples on it as you spread it all over.  Pour the rest of the garlic-olive oil yumminess. Let the dough rise for 20 minutes until it puffs slightly then bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. And pray to the devil to not burn the wicked. (I should have believed).

10 minutes in- it’s rising like a beast
11 minutes in- my smile is widening 
12 minutes- Grinch smile
13-17 minutes - washroom break / distracted by TV 
18 minutes - it started smelling kinda burny

So I ran into the kitchen and found the garlic burning at the peaks of my dough. I freaked and pulled it out. Good thing, it was easy to pick out the burnt garlic (see the cup full of little blacks). But I guess the two more shot-down minutes in the oven would have made the bread a lot of proper to eat. 

With tiny burnt bits of garlic
But all in all, I made Bread. And it looked like Bread. And it tasted like Bread. And it felt like Bread. And it rose like a beast. 

Oh I’m so Breadazled! 

See the whole recipe and step by step guide here 

Check Mitalee out on and on Instagram @lucidmoan

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

My Cheesecake Mountain

I made a cheesecake. I climbed the mountain, and conquered. For the last five years, I’ve tried a multitude of recipes and different ways to make cheesecake, hoping that each one will be the best one. They’ve all failed. The no bake cheesecake was promptly distributed amongst my 4 dogs who were going crazy with the smell, the quick and easy 6 ingredient one was manfully eaten and never mentioned again, and I don’t even want to talk about the others.

The recipes that seemed worth attempting all included using a water bath, which is by far the most intimidating thing I’ve ever done. If you know me (and you should by now), you’ll know that I’m inordinately clumsy. Over the last few weeks, I’ve cut myself in three different places on my hands, burnt my fingers on my shiny new frying pan, sliced a finger on glass and dropped countless knives a hairs breadth away from my toes. Pouring boiling hot water into a pan and then gently easing it into an oven is something I should not do without supervision!

Being a Parsi, we get 2 birthdays. One is of course the day we’re born, and the other is the day we’re born according to the Parsi calendar. Double presents, double the fuss, double the cake. My Parsi birthday was on the same day as my husband’s grandmums birthday, so I decided to bake her (us) something using some sweet and sharp flavours.

It was time to test my new kitchen and hopefully improved skills out. I found a relatively easy looking recipe online, which didn’t include using a gargantum amount of cream cheese and decided to go for it. The results were surprisingly yummy, if I do say so myself.

Raspberry & Lemon Cheesecake 

Oh lordy
Adapted from here 

You will need
For the Crust:
2 cups crushed digestive biscuits
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or cinnamon powder
½ cup melted butter

For the Filling:
1 pound softened cream cheese, 2 (8-ounce) blocks
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 cups / 500 grams sour cream
1 lemon, zested
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

And your Topping:
A handful fresh or frozen raspberries
A few tablespoons raspberry coulis
A few mint leaves

Preheat the oven to 160 ° C.

Assemble your ingredients 
Step 1
In a big mixing bowl, crush the digestive biscuits - I use my hands to break them up, it’s vaguely therapeutic. Add the melted butter & cinnamon powder to your biscuits and keep crushing. It will look like wet sand and taste incredible. I am not too fussy about the size of the pieces, as long as they're small they don’t need to become too fine.

Like the branding shot? 
Biscuit crumb, Ready to be devoured!
Step 2
Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray (if not cooking spray, use some butter).

Step 3
Pour the crumbs into the pan and, using the bottom of a measuring cup or the smooth bottom of a glass, press the crumbs down into the base and 1-inch up the sides. Refrigerate for 5 minutes. (I struggled with getting my crumbs evenly up the sides, and then eventually decided that it was a labour of love, and I was not being judged on perfection, so let it remain wavy.)

Doesn't that look awesome?

Step 4
Using your trusty kitchenaid (or a regular hand mixer) beat the cream cheese on low speed until smooth and free of any lumps.

Step 5
Add the eggs 1 at a time and continue to beat until combined. Add sugar in three parts and beat until creamy, for 1 to 2 minutes.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl

Step 6
Add the sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla and continue to mix for a few minutes. This will take more time to do if you’re using a hand held mixer. The batter should be well-mixed but not overbeaten. Make sure you taste the mix, if you feel like you want it more lemon-y, add the zest of another half lemon.

Switch on your electric kettle, and put the water to boil.

Have you seen my awesome new bookstand? 
Step 7
Set the cheesecake pan on a large piece of aluminum foil and fold up the sides around it. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan.

Pour the filling into the crust-lined pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Feel free to lick the spatula, beaters, mixing bowl after!

Ready to pour captain
Step 8
Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan; the foil should keep the water from seeping into the cheesecake. Clumsy me dropped a teeny bit of water into the foil, and then had to pray madly that it didn’t make a difference.

On its way into the oven
Step 9
Bake for 1 hour. The cheesecake should still jiggle (it will firm up after chilling), so don’t overcook. I was paranoid that my oven was too hot, so I took it out after 50 minutes, which worked just as well.

Eat your yummy dinner while you wait
Step 10 – making the coulis
Take 100 grams (or thereabouts) of raspberries, add 75 grams of sugar and the juice of a lemon or 2 limes into a bowl. Let it sit for 20 minutes, the sugar will draw the liquid out of the raspberries.

Put in a blender and mix till smooth.

You can then use the coulis as is, or pass it through a sieve to get a smooth, silky sauce.

Refridgerate until needed.

Step 11
Let the cheesecake cool down in the pan for a while, around an hour, till the tin is not so hot.

Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours. I made this night before, and so it stayed in the fridge for about 12 hours which is also a perfectly acceptable thing to do! 

Super excited to see it looking so yellow
Another angle

Step 1
Take the cheesecake out of the fridge ten minutes before you want to unmould it. Loosen it from the sides of the pan by running a knife around the inside rim. Release the spring mechanism and Voila! Le Cheesecake!

Oh happy day
Step 2
Un-mold and transfer to a cake plate. I find this the most difficult to do, infact this to me is the moment of truth. I have a giant cake spatula which is very painstakingly eased under the cheesecake, careful not to break too much of the biscuit. IT HELD!!!

Pretty fretty cheesecake
Step 3
Spoon raspberry coulis on top of the cheesecake and smooth it out. It should be a lovely even bright pink.


Place your raspberries here and there (I have NO eye for decoration, so do as you please!) and strew a few mint leaves to finish.

Halfway through decorating

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Dig in! The cheesecake is soft and crumbly, the biscuit crunchy and delicious and the raspberry zinging through makes the entire thing absolutely delicious. 

Couldn't resist a close up