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Some people are too stingy in sharing a recipe not knowing that the taste lies in the tact, interest and passion of the person who cooks - I believe-Sharing is caring -Pushpee

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cocktail Making Competition


I took part in cocktail making competition at Mogamoto (Fort) and was surprised when my team  bagged the first prize.



We were the team of food bloggers grouped into 3 persons for each team and the idea was to create an innovative cocktail. Since I like spicy stuff, I decided to add black pepper.
It was a relaxing afternoon at the Mogamoto at Fort, restaurant done up beautifully with drapes on the ceiling and art on the walls. A flight of 10 wooden steps separates the restaurant into two levels giving it a cozy touch.

Each team went behind the bar at the cocktail station to play around with the ingredients. There were drinks, juices, syrups, garnish and exotic ingredients. The temptation to make an innovative cocktail was strong. Initially, I wanted to be just an audience, watching all the teams perform, but at the last moment, I was inspired too and decided to make something different by playing around with the ingredients.
It was fun watching team prepare the cocktail. There was lotsa discussion on what to add, with little prompts from the bar tender, who were always willing to help. The crew of ‘Food Food Channel’ were all set with their cameras, shooting the session for their program, while the judges asked questions after every drink, discussing the ingredients used, and then passing around to everybody to taste and pass the verdicts.
Team A

Team B

Team C

Team D

 I am not much of cocktail or mocktail person. If left on my own, I will just sip plain water. But in a company of friends,( so as to not stand apart), I will have a small glass of fresh juice. Lately cocktails and mocktail have made remarkable appearances at the parties. You feast on finger food and sip your drink. To go with a flow, I drink whatever is available. I normally take just one small glass and it stays with me as an ornament after few small sips.
So, what is cocktail?
A cocktail is kind of a salad, mixing of hard drinks, fruit juices, herbs, water and whatever you fancy. It normally consists of three different classes of ingredients.
The first: the base.
Base is normally some sort of spirit like gin, whisky, vodka, wine, brandy, etc.
The second: The modifier.
This is used to bring out the aroma of the base and to modify the taste. The main flavoring is normally different fruit juices.
The third: The flavor
Flavor is added to enhance the taste of the base and also adds color to the drink. Common special flavoring are basil leaves, kafir leaves, lime, lemon, ginger and other garnishes.
Most cocktails are also decorated with fruit slices like orange peels, cocktail sticks, mint twigs etc.
Off the track, a friend asks 
‘Why did cocktail bleed?’ – 
because it was bloody Mary, 
another Q- ‘Why did cocktail not marry? – 
because it preferred to be virgin Mary……

Friday, April 4, 2014

Family Dinner At Baan Toa


It was an evening out with my large family at Baan Toa in Hyatt, Pune. There was a kind of festive mood but I couldn’t decide on which cousin to favor and choose my seat. Finally, the decision was made to separate the veg family from non-veg one, and I quietly squeezed in-between non-veg cousins to spend a lovely evening with interesting conversation and delicious Pan Asian food.
But what really impressed me was the décor. The water cascading against the tiled walls into the pool filled with cluster of red and green Dragon fruits, the sound of the dripping water and the dim lights gave a very romantic aura, and I was not surprised when I saw a young couple slicing a chocolate cake to celebrate their wedding anniversary.

We occupied the large dining room
The tables are already set with a plate of micro greens and three accompanying dipping sauces: hot garlic, shezwan and a cucumber relish. There were two more sauces on the side, one with coriander leaves and other with lemon grass.
While we waited for the order, we rolled the greens with sour n chilly sauce and played the game of guessing the ingredients.

The starter, an IceBerg salad was perfect; crunchy Ice Berg coated with Japanese peanut dressing, melt in the mouth, it was simply delightful.
We ordered just three different types of Dim Sums, mixed vegetables, chicken and prawns. The prawns were the best, succulent and sweet. I am told that this is the place that serves a special set brunch where there are variety of dim sums, some 15-16 different types of vegetarian and non-vegetarian, with salads and desserts.

I didn’t like the wanton soup at all, it was bland and even though I added sauces and chili vinegar, it was not satisfying. That’s when I heard some loud voices from the kitchen. The kitchen was too close to the dinning area where we were sitting and any commotion in the kitchen could be heard. Was it chef or were there some other cooks? but emotions in the kitchen was affecting the quality of the food. The Vietnamese rolls tasted raw, rice noodles too sticky, soup very bland.
The chefs have to be calm or the food may not taste good. Service was excellent with waiters apologetic about the loud noises from kitchen. The devil in me wanted to walk to the kitchen to see the commotion.
Maybe, had I gone in, the calm would have returned and I would have some really tasty cuisine that the restaurant is normally known for.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lotus Stem With Potatoes




How cliché is the phrase “Lotus retains its beauty even though it is surrounded by muck”? Lotus symbolizes purity of mind and thought while amidst the impurity of the worldly affairs. Lotus is the National flower of India.
Each time I see this beautiful flower in a dirty pond, I am reminded of its goodness. It inspires art, religion, and folklore from times immemorial.
But, what about the lotus root, have you given a thought to its’ roots? It’s down there in the muck, dirty and coated with mud. You have to scrub it well before you can even use. It is relished for its taste and its nutritional value, not a thought is given to its origin in muck and mud.
Lotus stem is an interesting vegetable that changes its nature from the way you cook it. Have it raw, its bitter; cook and it has very unique, crunchy texture; stew and it turns starchy. Besides its high dietary fiber, Lotus stem is very rich in iron and calcium content. It is highly recommended for pregnant women. People with chronic complain of constipation can also profit from its use.
Unfortunately, you don’t see this Lotus stem at every vegetable vendor in Mumbai. You may find this mainly at specialized vegetable stalls. But whenever I see it, I am reminded of my mom’s experiments in the kitchen. Mom used to clean each pore with a matchstick, and cooked differently each time, sometimes in curry, sometimes bind them as koftas and sometimes make patties for evening snack. Mom made them in combination with carrots, or with potatoes or mushrooms. Whatever combination she chose, she always made a tasty meal.


This week I made lotus stem with potatoes.
Ingredients:
2 medium size onions
2tbsp mustard oil
2 green chilies
1tsp-grated ginger
4-5 cloves crushed garlic
2 medium tomatoes
1tsp turmeric powder
2tsp coriander powder
1tsp cumin powder
1tsp red chili powder
1tsp garam masala
2 medium size potatoes
200gms lotus stems
salt to taste
1tsp lime juice
coriander leaves for garnishing.
Method:
Step 1
In a heavy base pressure cooker, cook finely chopped onions in 2tbsp oil

Step 2
Cook till the color changes to light brown.

Step 3
Add ½ cup water

Step 4
Add crushed garlic, grated ginger and chopped green chilies.

Step 5
Add chopped tomatoes

Step 6
Add turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, Garam masala, red chili powder and salt

Step 7
Mix and mash till masala begins to dry.

Step 8
Add the chopped potatoes and chopped lotus stems

Step 9
Mix and stir till it begins to stick to the sides. Add 1 cup water.

Step 10
Pressure cook till 3 whistles
Step 11
Garnish with coriander leaves and lime juice.

Serve with hot buttered parathas.
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