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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Fish Curry from Kochi

The first thing that caught my attention during my drive from Cochin to Peermedu was the number of stores selling fresh fish. While our car waited at traffic signal, I saw great variety of fresh fish, carefully displayed. In Mumbai, this sight is rare, we get fish only in fish market or in cold storage store.

So, I gathered that fish is the favorite meal in Cochin. We drove four hours away from Cochin to high altitude of Peermedu, surrounded by lush green tea gardens. We  stayed in a private bunglow and we were lucky to have three cooks on call. Kitchen was the interesting place to be, it always is, for me. It was well stocked with fresh organic vegetables from nearby farm and ofcourse fish. During our five days stay at tea gardens, we had fish almost everyday. My vegetarian friends wondered how we could eat fish everyday. They know not that taste differs from different fishes.

Moreover. Fish is good for health

Fish is a high-protein, low-fat food that provides a range of health benefits. White-fleshed fish, in particular, is lower in fat than any other source of animal protein, and oily fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, or the "good" fats. Since the human body can’t make significant amounts of these essential nutrients, fish are an important part of the diet. Also, fish are low in the "bad" fats commonly found in red meat, called omega-6 fatty acids.
Source: http://seafood.edf.org/benefits-eating-fish

One afternoon I decided to watch the cook prepare the typical fish curry. I am always interested in learning new traditional ways of cooking. Each region in India have their own style of cooking. This one was really tasty, luckily I had clicked pictures so now I will be able to reproduce the dish whenever I wish.

The helpers were most willing to teach us.

All the ingredients were kept ready for the demo. 
The fish cleaned and chopped in square pieces, 
coconut, turmeric powder and onions ground to a thick paste. 
Garlic, ginger and chilies chopped and 
chopped tomatoes ready for use.

Cooking becomes easy if all the ingredients are kept ready for use and within easy reach.

Step by step for making fish curry

Heat oil

Add musturd seeds

Add garlic ginger small onions and green chillies

Add tomatoes

Add turmeric, coconut and red chillie paste

Add kokum

Add fish

Add Salt

Add Curry leaves

Cover n let it cook

Add roasted, ground fenugreek seeds for garnishing

It tasted great with steamed rice and tomato chili chutney (cooked specially for me).

Friday, February 3, 2017

A Day At Thrisangu Haven Resort

During our five days stay at Peermedu in Kerala, we were completely cut off from outer world, surrounded by big stretch of tea gardens spread across acres of greenery. We had three cooks at our service at our bungalow, who cooked excellent Kerala cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

During our stay, one of our friends was celebrating her birthday and we needed to getaway to some resort for change of scene. We rented a car and drove to Thrisangu Haven, a resort at Peermedu, 30 kms from Thekkady.

The minute we reached the place, I was mesmerised by its scenic beauty. This place is totally embraced by nature. The beauty spreads as far as eye could reach.

We climbed up the spiral stairways to watchtower to get a better view. It was quite cold up there and windy too

We just clicked few pictures and climbed down soon to walk around a manicured path with colorful flowers and spiced fragrant air.

We had placed our order for lunch as soon as we reached, so while it was being prepared we ventured around to explore the place.

There were honeymoon cottages, garden cottages and many tents. It would have been a perfect place to spend few days away from city,  for somebody who was looking for getaway places in Cochin.  

We were mainly there for food- a proper traditional Kerala cuisine. . Our host at Peermedu had booked a table for us with special birthday celebration arrangement. A double decker round table with salad dressing at lower shelf and cake on upper level, was set for celebration.

The heart of the restaurant was quite spacious with big round tables fairly spaced from each other and that’s where we were seated. There were more tables placed closer to large windows that offered great view of the landscape outside the restaurant. A wooden staircase spiralled up to more dining rooms. We soaked in extravagance of splendour in the restaurant.

We ordered fish curry, coconut rice, pepper chicken, salad and mixed vegetables. The food was excellent. Specially loved the fish curry and coconut rice that was cooked to perfection.

The big birthday cake was wheeled to our table after lunch. The restaurant had Wifi facility so it was possible for us to share the live birthday celebrations with our friends on Facebook.

It was a pleasant afternoon to spend at this resort.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Cooking Chocolate Risotto with Ranveer Brar

It is unfortunate that I have not been able to attend much sessions during ‘The Food Book Club’, mainly because I was travelling for most part of the year or was busy with prior appointments.  But this time, I made sure that I would cancel all the appointments and would attend the session with Ranveer Brar, and I am glad I did.

It was interesting to listen to his food stories while he demonstrated his favourite  Chocolate Risotto with Spiced Candied Oranges, the recipe of which appears in his book called ‘Come into My Kitchen’ on page 161.

Now Risotto is a creamy, hearty rice dish made with short grained Italian rice. The rice itself is starchy enough to thicken and create its own sauce.

Short grain rice such as Aroborio, Carnaroli, Vialone, Nano or Baldo can be used for making risotto. It comes in various forms and is uually very pale in color, stubby and smooth in texture. Grains range in length from commune, to semifino, fino and superfino, which is the longest. The nature of the grains also varies from region to region. Long grain rice should be avoided. Semi-round risotto rice absorbs liquids and flavours, it releases starch far better that gives risotto its characteristic texture.

Many times that I have dined in any Italian restaurant, I have always had savoury and delicious risotto with most exotic veggies and cheese but today Ranveer was to demonstrate a dessert version, adding chocolate and candied fruit, so this was something new I was to learn.

He did not soak the rice but simply rinsed and started cooking.

He heated butter, added ginger, sautéed a bit then added rice and started gently mixing it, till it room was filled with nutty aroma.

One ladle at a time, he started to pour warm milk allowing the rice to absorb each ladle of milk before adding  another ladle again. He described that as meditative way of cooking. He kept stirring till creamy.

While the rice was being cooked, there was lot of discussion on different types of sweet rice made in Indian kitchens, that we are familiar with. I am sure sweet rice is made in many homes (although not risotto) I remember my mom used to make sweet rice during festivals, adding saffron strands and cardamom. (I can still recollect that taste, although I have not had that for a long time) ..sugar is always added last because it retards the cooking time.

Since it was chocolate risotto, he added dark and white grated chocolates, stirred it till it melted and was well combined with the rice.

There are so many ways of making risotto. Till you get a glaze, the rice is not done. You have to keep stirring because risotto that sticks and burns has to be one of the saddest mishaps. It has to be stirred often, but not constantly to release the grains’ natural starches.

Remove from heat and transfer into plate and serve hot. With every minute the taste changes, therefore it should be served immediately.

Recipe as it appears in Ranveer Brar’s book


For the Oranges

6 oranges large
1 cup castor sugar
1 cup water, boiling hot
1 cinnamon stick
2 mace flowers

For the Risotto

1 cup arborio rice
1tbsp butter
1tsp ginger
3 cups milk, warm
½ cup dark chocolate, grated
¼ cup white chocolate, grated
1tsp mascarpone


For the Oranges

Zest the oranges into thin, long strands, set aside
Then neatly cut out the orange segments
Simmer the zest in boiling water for 2 minutes, then set aside.
Melt the sugar in a wide, heavy-based steel pan on moderate heat
Once the sugar is caramelised to the hazelnut brown, pour the hot water into the pan.
Drop in the blanched shreds of orange zest and spice and leave it to simmer for 5-10 minutes till the zest is translucent.
Pour hot syrup and shred over the orange segments and leave it to cool

For the Risotto.

Heat the butter in the pan
Once it melts, add the chopped ginger and saute for a  minute
Add the rice and gently toast till it releases a nutty aroma
Pour in the milk, one ladle at a time allowing it to absorb each ladle
Keep stirring the rice gently till it becomes creamy but the rice grains still have a bite
Gently fold in the grated dark and white chocolates and stir till it melts and is well combined
Remove from heat and set aside
Transfer in pasta plate

Arrange candied oranges over it and place a quenelle of mascarpone on the side. Serve immediately.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Restaurant Review: Madeira and Mime

 Madeira and Mime at Powai is quite a distance away from my home in Bandra(about an hour away), but I readily accepted the invite for the review of this newly opened gastro-pub, simply because the staff is differently abled (all are speech and hearing challenged) and since I am associated with differently abled persons,(mainly mentally challenged persons) at SBP, I was most anxious to learn about how different this experience would be.

My friend and I were greeted by a friendly staff who guided us to the most comfortable table in the centre of the room. We were introduced to Rohit Pandey, who would be at our wait staff. A brief introduction with the help of his assistant made us understand the sign language that we would use to interact with the staff. Rohit, the sweet and polite kid was quite attentive to our comfort. Served our meals with great precision, stood at fair distance away from our table and was quick to clear the plates as soon as we finish one course after another.
In sign language we learnt to say Thank you (by tipping on the chin with two fingers) and sorry (rotating a closed fist over the left chest) The menu card clearly showed the sign language and how we could interact with the staff.

The menu was focused on comfort food. There were dishes such as Ramen, Pasta, rolls, street food like sandwiches, burgers, pao-walla. For complete meal there was this interesting rice plate selection like pilaf and biryani. We were just two of us, friend is veg and I could eat non-veg. We asked them to serve small portions so that we could try more dishes.

While we waited for our order to arrive, I glanced around the restaurant taking in the beautiful surroundings. The bar tender was busy mixing drinks. On the other side was open kitchen, we could see lot of activity while the dishes churned out efficiently on the order expressed in sign language.It seemed like a graceful dance as they moved their fingers to put their message across. The ambience was very vibrant.

On one side of the room was this huge, left ajar fridge filled up not with food stuff or chocolates but it had games  such as UNO and Jenga that one could play and while away their time with friends over food and drinks. There were also some comic books and novels for more serious clients. It sent the message across that one could bring the games or books to their table and sit as long as one wished and management loved having people around for fun and pleasure.

This gastro –pub is the sister outlet of another fusion restaurant called  Mirchi and Mime which has been quite a success. The food is okay, still at initial stages but open to suggestions and willing to improve to suit the indian palate. I am specially impressed by this concept of providing equal opportunities’ to differently abled persons.
I had a very good experience dining at this restaurant, I would recommend this place to all my friends who like to relax and eat food at leisure.

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