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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spanish omelet called ‘Tortilla’

In my earlier post on this blog I had discussed myromance with eggs in details

Egg is my all time favorite and I eat it three times a week, mainly for breakfast, with sunny side up. I like other styles too, only if they are peppered with hot chilies. But I enjoy Spanish Omelet the most.

I normally add everything that is in my fridge that could include chicken, ham, prawns, mushrooms, olives, onions, green chilies, capsicum or anything that I fancy at that time. It makes a complete meal.

So this month, when I had a guest from Spanish speaking country, Panama, I couldn’t resist on feasting on Spanish omelet called ‘Tortilla’

The trick to making a perfect Tortilla is to have proper accessories. The fry-pan should have a curved base for omelet to slide out easily and it will be better if you have an omelet flipper which is also known as giratortilla.

This is a large round plate very similar to a pan lid, with a knob in the centre to hold as you flip your omelets. I had purchased this during my last trip to Spain and it is very handy and light weight.

The ingredients required to make a plain Spanish omelet are 6 eggs, 3 boiled potatoes, 2 large finely chopped onions (if you are using other ingredients as well, then one chopped onion should be enough.)

The beating of the egg till they are light and fluffy is the essential part of the technique.

Transfer the half portion of the beaten eggs into the frying pan

Arrange the sliced boiled potatoes

Put the onion, green chilies and coriander leaves and the rest of the ingredients (if you are using meat and sea food)

Let it cook on low heat and then flip it over on the flipper

Transfer the rest of the beaten eggs into the fry pan

Arrange more onions on it

Slide off the other half of the cooked potato-egg from the flipper into the fry pan.

Cook till set.

Slice and serve with sauce and drinks.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Prelude to Grand Finale of Master Chef India Season2

Every week-end, Saturday and Sunday at 9pm, food lovers in India switched on their TV sets to watch the amateur cooks churn out some innovative dishes in the program called ‘Master Chef India’. This program has changed many lives since Master Chef India season 1 and India is convinced that a mundane activity such as cooking can also be a ticket to fame and success.

Presently, the theme “Ab Badlo India Khaane ka Andaz’ in the season2 aimed to bring a change in the way India perceives food.

On Star Plus Channel, people  watched the Grand Finale show of Master Chef India Season2, there were 5 finalists who were competing against India’s popular chef, Sanjeev Kapoor in a game called ‘Aamne Saamne’. The participants had to re-produce the same dish, cooking along side with Sanjeev Kapoor and match his speed, efficiency and the flavor of the food. The participants (Joseph, VijayaLaxmi, Rajendra, Shipra and Shazia) tasted the dish called ‘Naya Sham Savera’ which was actually a platter of paneer-corn-samosa potli, paneer –greens- kofta curry, pulav and sugar Spin.

Many Indians enjoy this cookery show, especially because besides cooking there is also a drama element and an excitement in the Indian edition of this show

125 countries around the world telecast the cookery game show ‘Master Chef’ with the same logo, which was originated with the UK version of this show. Amongst all the other different countries ‘Master Chef Australia’ is one of my favorite versions and I have enjoyed every episode of this Australia chapter.

The invitation by Star Plus Channel for press conference got me interested in peeping behind the scenes to experience a prelude to ‘Cook-off with Sanjeev kapoor on the sets of MasterChef IndiaSeason2.
Naturally I was interested. I reached the RK studios at Chembur, (in Mumbai) all prepared to watch the show and the studio. There were people from print media and TV channels, all alert to take notes and click pictures.

The two chefs, Kunal Kapoor and Vikas Khanna took us on the tour around the set showing us the different cabins for storage of food and utensils and to the different meeting stations, all so meticulously furnished that it was impossible to believe that all this set –up was just a temporary arrangement and that there would be just an empty hall once the show comes to an end.

I took pictures of the kitchen, storage rooms and all the artifacts that were displayed at the sets and then followed the crowd to a living-room for some interaction with the hosts of the show.

I had met Vikas Khanna, earlier at the Food-Bloggers-Meet, and knew that his gastronomic philosophy is to deliver innovative and luxurious meals. He has won many hearts by laying his interest on ingredients, flavors and textures. What first attracts you about Vikas is his smiling and warm face which immediately makes you feel at ease. Vikas started his own catering business at the age of 17 and he has authored several books including ‘The Spice Story of India’, ‘Modern Indian Cooking’ and ‘Flavors first’. There was a big crowd surrounding him asking him questions about his interest in cooking and his other hobbies.

I sat next to Kunal Kapoor to have some interaction with him. Kunal Kapoor was the host in ‘Master Chef India Season1’ too and he is quite versatile and friendly person. He started his career from Taj group of hotels and has spanned his culinary gamut in Indian cuisine across banquet operations, different theme dinners, outdoor catering, creative menus, and various buffet set-ups.

I listened as he spoke about his passion for food pointing out ‘the right attitude’ as the most important ingredient for a tasty meal. His mantra for success is to have experience and the presence of a sound mind.

When at leisure at home, I open my fridge to check all the ingredients and then decide how best I can use it to create an unusual dish” he says.

Using his imagination and innovation, he kills the monotonous cooking by creating and recreating the same dish with different ingredients keeping the five points in mind,: attitude, right recipe, correct cooking utensils, correct raw ingredients and visualizing the balance of flavors that you want to achieve.

It becomes difficult to cook just one kind of authentic food without any innovation” he says. “Since India has a population of mixed cultures and caste, and people like variety of food, I prefer my restaurant to be multi-cuisine.”

When asked about the presence of more male chefs than women in the food industry, he says, “Women are expected to cook in every home, this is the first basic task that is taught. For a woman to do the same kind of work at home and outside becomes very tedious and boring, moreover, cooking is not a glorified profession, there is too much mental and physical stamina required and women prefer to work in a different field outside their home.” he complained of his friends and family, who often taunted him by addressing him as ‘bawarchi’.

Besides his interest for cooking, Kunal Kapoor also has passion for music, travel and photography.
The questions and answers session could go on forever, but it was time now to watch the prelude to ‘Cook-off-with Sanjeev Kapoor’ which was specially organized for the press conference. We were introduced to the five finalists and two special guests, TV serial stars, Riddi Dogra and Rajesh Vashisth of ‘Maryada-Lekin Kab Tak’ fame who arrived with chief guest-Sanjeev Kapoor..

The show began, the dish to be cooked was ‘Porcupiny steamed Kababs’. The five finalists were asked to reproduce the same dish along side with Sanjeev Kapoor matching his speed, taste and style. Although this was just a prelude, there was much stress in the air during cooking period, as each participant tried their best to compete. Many of us tasted the kababs made by Sanjeev Kapoor and the other participants. The dish was so tasty that participants were inspired to make extra portions for everybody to taste.

There was a party like atmosphere after the prelude with all the media and print journalist exchanging stories with the participants and the hosts, clicking pictures, and after a cup-a-coffee, we departed to share our rich experience with whomsoever was ready to listen to us, till we all sat down to formally jot down our visuals of that day.

Recipe of Porcupiny-Steam-Kababs

Ingredients for kababs
250 grams chicken kheema
½ inch ginger
1 teaspoon chopped celery
1 finely chopped green chilies
1 cup soaked rice (rice soaked in 1 cup of water for one hour)
Salt to taste

  1. Grind to a fine paste the mixture of chicken kheema, ginger, celery, green chilies and salt.
  2. Roll it into round ball.
  3. Coat it with soaked rice
  4. Steam it for ten minutes.
  5. Serve with soya sauce dip
Ingredients for Soya-sauce-dip
1 tsp soya sauce
½ teaspoon chopped chives
½ inch ginger
½ tsp vinegar
1 finely chopped green chilies
1 tsp honey
Method for Soya-sauce-dip
Make the dip by mixing Soya sauce, chives, ginger, vinegar, salt, honey and green chilies in 1 cup of water.

This article appeared in the latest issue of 'Beyond Sindh' a magazine published from HongKong.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Magazine Review - BBC GoodFood

Cooking is my passion. 

During my growing up years, there used to be a column in Mid-day called  ’Culinary Chat’ that featured 2 recipes per week in Chinese cuisine. During the week, I used to try both the recipes that were featured in the column. I learnt the basics, the correct method of cooking Chinese meal and became a Chinese pro. I learnt more cooking from another monthly magazine called ‘Cuisine’ which used to have the information about the regional dishes of India. Some cooking I have learnt from friends and family, but most of my cooking has been on experimenting and experimenting. I am grateful to my family and friends who have been very cooperative in risking my sometimes disastrous food.

Although I do have many recipe books but magazine is always better because it gives you the insight of more details in cooking. Therefore I was happy when I saw BBC ‘GoodFood’ on magazine rack at the store.

GoodFood India Magazine is published by Worldwide Media Pvt. Ltd under licence from BBC magazine.

I have regularly bought this magazine since November2011. Last month I even won one extra copy when I participated in 'Breakfast twitter contest'. I have liked this magazine so much that I have already gifted to four of my friends and they have been bright-eyed and very grateful.

Our cooking styles have changed a lot over the years, there is no more cooking just those common traditional dishes which our grandparents and aunts cooked when we were kids. Now-a-days, we have bigger supermarkets that have great variety of sauces and food stuff that we don’t even know how to use. I know a friend who bought an exotic sauce from supermarket but came home and ate with chapatti like an achar. Now this is not done. To relish the taste of the sauces and the ready packets one must know how to consume. 

I have travelled places and have developed taste for many different kinds of food and I am glad to see such bottles on supermarket shelf, which has now relieved me from over-weight luggage  that contained all food stuff, but what about those who have tasted those kind of food only in my house but want to try too?

Well here is the magazine that does just that. It educates you on use of those exotic dishes.

Good Food Magazine is the one which guides people in cooking different kind of food from different regions around the world.

The magazine is divided in 5 main sections that help you navigate exactly what you are looking for. This month features Italian Cuisine

Section one –First Bite.

This section brings out the month’s freshest food fuzz.  It spots light on local produce, some tips, and important food insights.  In ‘supermarket sweep’, they use ingredients from the supermarket shelf to create a full meal. In this month’s issue, they have combined rice, chorizo, bottle of sun-dried tomatoes and medium prawn packet to prepare rice dish for the family. In ‘Cupboard love’ they have discussed how to use the bottle of ‘Tapanade’ that you may have picked up from the shelf. The news, food trends and shopping of kitchen accessories are also discussed in this section.

Section two – Eat in

This is the largest section of the magazine covering all the recipes from simple to difficult recipes that can be tried by anybody who wishes to cook. This month’s most interesting recipe that I would like to try is ‘Tuscan bean soup’ which looks quite tempting in the photograph and has ingredients such as French beans, potatoes, pancetta ham and fresh oregano. I find this section interesting because 7 meals have been planned for Rs700, listing the grocery that needs to be bought and the stylish meals to been prepared over the seven days of the week - definitely a must-try treat.

Section three – Eat out

This section is about restaurant reviews. Whenever I get guest in my town, they are always asking me about new restaurant where they can try some new cuisine. This is the section which might help me decide where I might be able to take my guest out. In this month’s issue, there are 7 haunts for perfect Italian cuisine in different parts of India. I am happy that two Mumbai restaurants are reviewed - Vetro at Nariman point and Don Giovanni at Juhu – they seem quite interesting.

Section four – Eat away

This section covers places to eat out during our trip abroad. In this month’s issue, we go to Italy to try the local flavors, eat like locals and shop for must-buy-products that one can bring home. There is a local knowledge on the essence of olives, a postcard from Venice and local knowledge on food etiquettes while in Italy.

Section Five – Masterclass

This is the most interesting section of all. There is a cooking class directly from cooking master who shows the recipes, in step-by-step demonstrations , in such a way that one who knows to read and write, can never go wrong. In this month’s issue, there is a master class by Giovani Federico who demonstrates step-by-step cooking of Ravioli. Beside this, there is also a note on mastering the art of Risotto and the recipe of my favorite homemade pesto. There are also 5 homemade pasta sauces, 10minute wine guide on Italian wine and Indian food.

The magazine is packed with surprises and it is a perfect guide in understanding the different flavors in food kingdom.

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