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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Venezuelan Cuisine at Carajita

The other day, I had a guest from another island of the Canaries, Grand Canarias, who refused to have dinner at home because she wanted to have Arepas at the famous Venezuela restaurant called 'Arepera La Carajita'. She said that this is one cuisine which she misses the most in her town and whenever she crosses over to Tenerife, this is one-must-eat-at-this-restaurant for her every visit.

You will hardly miss this restaurant if you are driving from Puerto de la Cruz via La Vera towards north of the island. This restaurant is famous for its Venezuelan cuisine.

During summer, people prefer to sit outdoors, the plastic tables and chairs are placed quite close to each other and one cannot avoid peeping into their plates for the choice of their order. But during winter, people occupy wooden tables inside the tiny room where the walls are artistically decorated with paintings and artwork.

The menu card had varieties of dishes to choose from but it is mainly famous for Cachappa and fried or roasted Arepas.

A Cachappa is a kind of pancake is made from the batter of fresh corn, egg, milk, butter and sugar and it is stuffed with cheese, exotic vegetables or any non-veg filling.

Areperas is like a hamburger but not like bread. Maize dough is prepared and shaped into distinctive flying saucer shape. They can be baked, fried, cooked on a grill or boiled to give a crusty exterior. They are then sliced through the middles to make a pocket which is then stuffed with veg or non-veg filling.

I always like to order ‘Potato Brava’, served with freshly baked bread. Potato Brava is a typical Spanish tapas served in most of the bars. Fried or boiled potatoes are mixed in a freshly prepared tomato sauce. They also serve Brava Salchitas in which case sausages are cut slantwise and cooked in freshly prepared tomato sauce.

What I love the most in this restaurant is the avocado sauce and red pepper sauce, Initially they would serve sauces free with the meals, but because of its great demand, the restaurant now sell it separately. 

I always believe that if you like something, you should know how to cook.I love the sauces (Mojo) made at this place and as per rule, I learnt to make it too.

Avocado Mojo (Green Sauce)

6 cloves garlic
1 tsp. sea salt
1 green pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 hot green chili
1 Avocado
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped or coriander leaves
2 tsp. wine-vinegar or lime
2 small glasses olive oil

Crush the garlic with the salt. Slowly add in the green pepper, pounding until it’s all completely pulped. Add a tiny piece of the green chili, then add the chopped parsley/coriander leaves, add avocado and keep pounding. Meanwhile vinegar and oil are whisked together till they are frothy and then added to the sauce.

Mild Red Mojo

3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. sea salt
1 red pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 Small hot red chili
1 slice toasted bread, cut into small cubes
1 tsp. sweet paprika
2 tsp. red wine vinegar/lime
2 small glasses olive oil

Method for making red mojo is same as making avocado sauce.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Colorful Vegetarian Briyani

Okay, You might say, where are those beautiful rainbow colors of the briyani?

Briyani is supposed to be colorful with red, green and yellow colored rice, layered one on the top of another with variety of vegetables glimmering through the grains, but No! Thank you! I don’t use food coloring in my cooking, I use colorful vegetables instead, differently-colored-vegetables can also give a colorful effect. And, of course, if you still  insist, I do have an option to use natural food colors like turmeric for yellow, beetroot juice for red color and crushed spinach for green, but that is unnecessary.

Every responsible chef will agree that food coloring is not good for health. I, too, am very much against those bright color dyes used in toffees and ice-creams. Sure, those colored food look very appealing and makes food look brighter, but at what cost?

Food dyes—used in everything from M&Ms to Manischewitz Matzo Balls to Kraft salad dressings—pose risks of cancer, hyperactivity in children, and allergies, and should be banned, according to a new report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. A top government scientist agrees, and says that food dyes present unnecessary risks to the public.

If your child is hyperactive, or has a behavior problem, blame it on dyes and stop his artificially colored candies immediately.

The food will taste good if it is nutritious and made with interest, color is just a feast for the eyes.

I believe that every vegetable has its own taste and its own cooking point. If we cook all together, there is uneven tenderness in vegetables that is good only if you wish to mash them up to make ‘Pav bhaji’, but if you wish to bite each vegetable and relish them, then its better to cook each one differently, some to cook the proper way, with/without gravy as you wish, some to stir-fry and some to deep fry, its just the matter of understanding what kind of taste would suit your dish.

I agree my Briyani does not look beautiful, but it was so tasty that I was very happy that my family enjoyed it.

It takes me about 2 hours to cook Briyani and I really have to be in a very good mood to cook it for you.


2 cups Basmati Rice
4 medium size Onions
6 tsps Olive oil
1 tin(200gms) Soya chunks
1 cup Yogurt
3 tsp Garlic
2 tsp Ginger
2 tsp Coriander powder
1 tsp Cumin powder
1 tsp Turmeric powder
1tsp red chili powder
2 Cumin sticks
4 Cardamom
4 Bay leaves
4 Cloves
A pinch of saffron strands
1 medium size Carrot(diced)
1 medium size Capsicum(chopped)
1 large Potato (diced)
1 medium size Eggplant (diced)
2 medium size Tomatoes
1 tbsp chopped Coriander leaves
2 tbsp chopped mixed dry fruits(almonds, cashew nuts, walnuts, raisin)
2 tbsp lime juice
4 tbsp milk
oil for deep frying
Salt to taste

So this is how I make……

Step one: Deep fry 3 medium sized onions (sliced evenly) till dark brown, keep it aside.

Step two: While the onions are frying, start chopping other vegetables, and marinate soya chunks in yogurt, 1tsp garlic, 1tsp ginger, coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric powder, red chili powder, and salt.

Step three: Par boil the rice (that has been soaked for 30 minutes before parboiling), strain the water, spread it on a big plate and add cumin sticks, crushed cardamom, bay leaves, cloves, saffron strands and 1tsp olive oil

Step four: Fry 1tsp garlic in one teaspoon of olive oil, and stir fry carrots and capsicum, add salt and keep it aside.

Step five: Deep fry potatoes and egg plant

Step six: In a pan, fry one (finely chopped) onion in 2 tsp of olive oil till light brown, add ½ glass of water, cook till onions are tender, add 1tsp garlic and 1tsp ginger, add marinated soya chunks, add tomatoes and cook till oil separates.

Step seven: Grease the pot with 1tsp olive oil, arrange fried onions at the base, cover it with ¾ of spiced rice, add the layer of stir-fried carrot and capsicum, add the layer of cooked soya chunks, add the layer of fried potatoes and egg plant, cover it with remaining rice.

Step eight: Garnish with remaining fried onions, coriander leaves and dry fruits, sprinkle lime juice and milk and I tsp olive oil. Cover with aluminum foil, then with a lid and keep it on low heat for forty-five minutes

Serve with onion raita and potato chips.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Shallow Fried Paneer Patties

I don’t much like fried stuff and will avoid it as much as I can. Its not because it is bad for health, but also too much oil in food spoils my appetite. Whenever I go to a restaurant, I normally squeeze out the excess oil from the fried spring rolls that is dripping oil. The fried stuff served in restaurants is not good because it is fried in trans-oil. The scientists are convinced that fried food, especially those fried in oil that is re-used throughout the day (which most restaurants do) is the major contributors to Alzheimer disease. The frying causes tons of free radicals which is directly proportional to number of times the oil is reheated and there is a direct link between free radicals and Cancer.

Let us face the facts:

Fried food clogs the arteries and leads to stroke.

Modified, processed and fried food don’t break down in body properly; remaining in kidney, liver, intestine, prostate, and colon for extended period of time, if not forever.

But that does not mean that we should not eat oil at all. No, if eaten in moderation, it is important.  Yes, we do need oil for free lubrication of the joints in our body. Fat makes up part of our brain and provides reserves when we are sick.

The great news is that we can unclog our arteries by doing periodic detoxification of blood and re-fortify our organs.

Fried food is delicious, if only it was healthy.Sigh!

But then, Not to worry, there are many other ways that we can replace fried stuff with alternate methods, such as by steaming, baking, sautéing, stir frying or roasting.

We just need to be creative to enjoy the meals.

Last week I made Cottage-cheese-stuffed patties and it was equally delicious.


½ kg potatoes
1tsp sesame seeds
1tbsp ginger, grated
1tbsp garlic, crushed
1 medium size onion
1 cup cottage cheese, grated
1tsp mango powder
1tsp cumin powder
1tsp red chili powder
1tbsp chopped coriander leaves
1 cup bread crumbs
2tbsp olive oil
salt to taste


Step one

Boil the potatoes, mash it up into a smooth paste, add salt, add sesame seeds and keep it aside

Step two

Stir-fry garlic, ginger, finely chopped onion, add cottage cheese, add dry spices like mango powder, cumin powder, red chili powder, add coriander leaves, add salt. The cottage-cheese-filling is ready

Step three

Make a pair of golf size round balls for each patties

Step four

Flatten one ball, place the cottage-cheese-filling and cover with other ball, Flattened and shape it round and dip into bread crumbs

Step five

Shallow fry in olive oil, slightly brown it and flip to the other side, press lightly for third and fourth flipping till it dark brown and crusty.

Serve it with mint chutney and sliced onions.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Theobroma - a Patisserie in Bandra

A good patisserie should not only have a friendly staff but should also be very clean and hygienic.

Last week I went to buy some pastries and was quite impressed with the pastry shop that I visited here in Spain, where I have come to spend some time.

“May I click your picture” said I and they stopped to pose for me.

Some people sat at the back enjoying chitchat and their midday meal.

I am reminded of the similar patisserie back home in Bandra too.

My friend often goes to this shop after 9pm to buy the bread or pastries, she says that they are sold at half the rate to finish the remaining stock of the day.

This is Theobroma, just off Linking road, opposite KFC.

After receiving the Entrepreneur of the Year award by the Indian Federation of Culinary Associates this year, the following month Kainaz Messman spoke at the World Zarathushti Chamber of Commerce: "Our success formula is simple, yet it is a difficult balance to get right. We offer a good product at an honest price and have a genuine desire to please. We don’t always get it right but we cannot be accused of not trying. We work endlessly to meet and exceed the expectations of our customers. We judge our own success by the positive comments that come our way and feel genuinely hurt, tired and miserable when the feedback is negative. We serve smiles on a plate and that does make our job a whole lot easier but make no mistake, we work very very very hard for those smiles.

When the owner of Theobroma at Bandra outlet, Kainez Messman talks about the toils and joys of satisfying Mumbai’s sweet tooth, does she also do the quality control? Do we have regular inspections for watching the hygiene and the service of these eating-places?

“Cockroach in my Theobroma hot chocolate! Icky feeling! Not going back” screamed my friend Jhumur on her facebook status.

I asked her whether she complained to the management, and she says that she did but they didn't seem too bothered but after she stared at them like a stubborn mule, they waived off her bill

But not all complain.

A twitter friend, Nitishta found hair in her coffee. Disgusted, she just quietly ordered a fresh one and left'

Would they go again?

"Oh yes." says her friend Poppin "But then again, their blue berry cheese cake gives them the biased forgiveness."

A food blogger who visited this place was disappointed too. You can never fool a food blogger who knows exactly what Kejriwal and Akuri looks and tastes like, Give a different name, if you cannot replicate it, but when people come to eat a particular dish, they expect authenticity.

S Mukerjee says “I knew it! Went there last Wednesday for brekkie and u had to see the confusion, sloppy service and the way the fresh stock was lying around open to the elements in plastic crates- like sabji in a market. I just had a smoothie after seeing the stuff lying around like that..yuckkk”

One thing the management should realize is that the client is not a fool. He will eat the unhygienic food on the road if he wants a quick bite, but if he is walking through those shiny glass doors, and willingly to pay the price, he expects quality and service too.

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