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Monday, October 22, 2012

Mumbai Food Bloggers Potluck Treat

It was a potluck party with a difference. All the food bloggers were invited by Rushina at her APB cook studio

I got interested to go for this meet-up chiefly because it had been quite some time since I had interacted with other food bloggers.

Also I was curious to see the newly opened APB CookStudio that I was following since many days on FB with series of cooking events conducted at regular intervals.

And this get together was to meet Alan D’mello and Aditya of Street Smart Organization.

Reaching this place was quite frustrating, especially since I was going for the first time and I had to find my way through traffic jam, with no clear cut landmarks.  The Google maps were of no help. After many U-turns and wrong turns, I finally reached the venue passing through the dirt path into a small lane behind the main road at Chandivili.

Once I reached the ABP Cook Studio, I was transported into a new world, surrounded by pantries containing exotic sauces, several cook stations placed side by side, ovens, fridges, and the shelves containing cook-books and kitchen accessories, the mouth-watering aroma of food hung in the air.




One by one, we tasted the dishes as were presented by the food bloggers, a five course meal, starting with soup, snacks, drinks, main dishes and followed by desserts.


Towards the end of the session, Alan D’Mello and Aditya spoke about Street Smart, a non-profit organization for supporting the street children. The restaurants that are partnered with this cause places a card with al logo of sweet smart at the dining table, that  indicates  a small percentage of the food bill is siphoned out to support children and elderly to lead a better life. This is very successful venture in London and has improved the lives of the street children; it is recently introduced in the metropolitan cities of India and hoping to spread awareness of this cause amongst diners and hoteliers.


It was a wonderful evening, I was happy to share my Mirchi Bhajiya (Chili Fritters) soaked in imli (tamarind) sauce and it gave me immense pleasure when friends took extra helpings and relished it. This is a typical Sindhi cuisine, served as a snack.

Chili Fritters in Tamarind Sauce.



Ingredient:

200gms tamarind
4tbsp sugar
1tbsp cumin powder
1tbsp red chili powder
2tbsp chopped coriander leaves.
200gms gram flour
1 pinch Soda bicarbonate
200gms large green chilies
1tbsp Mango powder

Method

Step One
Make the tamarind sauce by soaking tamarind for one hour. Squeeze out the pulp, add sugar, salt, cumin seeds powder, red chili powder and coriander leaves. Keep it aside

Step two
Make the gram flour batter by adding water to gram flour, just enough to make it a pouring consistency, add salt, soda bicarbonate and red chili powder. Keep it aside

Step three


Slit and boil the chilies, remove the seeds.

Step four


Stuff the chilies with mango powder, salt and red chilies

Step five


Dip the marinated chilies in the gram flour batter (step 2) and deep fry the fritters.

Step six


Transfer the fried chili fritters into the tamarind water (step one), soak it for 2 minutes

Step seven

Arrange it in the serving dish and Serve it cold.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Italian with a 'Twist'


Yet another cooking demonstration at Nature Basket and this time it was an ‘Italian Cooking Demo with a twist’ by Chef Thomas Zacharias from Olive Bar and Kitchen

When I received the invitation on my phone, I should have understood that it would be crowded. I should have gone earlier to occupy a comfortable seat. It was an Italian food demonstration; so naturally many people would be interested.

But I took a mid-day nap and reached the venue at the dot at 4:30

The place was jam-packed with the crowd leaking into the passage way. There was no place to move and many of the women just took U-turn and walked away. The women who stood in the crowd were equally irritated and complained of imaginary pushes and pokes. Some were scary lot who kept adjusting their hand-bags closer to their breast and spend more time  at watching people around them rather than to concentrate on the demonstration. One late-comer scolded the management of Nature Basket for having invited her to such a crowded place with so little space.

 "Have it in a larger room next time, if you wish to invite me, understand?" she said as she pouted, fumed and walked away.

I was curious to know about this ‘twist’. I waited in the crowd just listening to the instructions and the comments that were made in the audience, but unfortunately, missed most part of the demo because I went away for a coffee to the next door restaurant and returned after 30 minutes. Towards the end, I was able to find a seat, left vacant by woman who wished to leave mid-session.

Well the ‘twist’ in the demo was the sauce that was cooked in cream and shrimps. The taste was sweet and sour; the lemon zest gave it tangy taste which induced the desire to ask for second helping of one more spoonful of this spaghetti.



Tangy shrimp Picante sauce

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large shrimps roughly chopped
1 tsp garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp fresh red chili, finely chopped
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2cup heavy cream
1tsp fresh basil
Water as needed
1tbsp lemon juice
10large shrimps, halved and diced
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 tsp lemon zest, grated.

Method

Step one
Cook spaghetti as instructed on packet and keep it aside

Step two
Stir fry shrimps with salt and pepper and keep them aside

Step three
Heat oil in a non-stick pan, sauté finely chopped shrimps with salt and pepper. Add chopped garlic and fresh green chilies.

Step four
Add tomato paste to the mixture

Step five
Add fresh cream and basil leaves, mix and stir.

Step six
Allow it to cool and puree the mixture in the food processor till completely smooth.

Step seven
Add the puree mixture back in the pan, and heat it. Add lemon juice and lemon zest.

Step eight
Add the boiled spaghetti to the sauce and cook it

Step nine
Serve with stir-fried shrimp that were cooked in step two.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Dined a Spanish Cuisine at Olympic Village at Barcelona

When in Spain, eat what Spanish eat, no?

The fun part of travelling around the world is to taste the local cuisine. During my last visit to Bangkok, my family and I headed straight from the airport to a restaurant to take our first bite of fried rice. Even the guests who visit me in Mumbai go crazy on batatawada, pani-puri, ragda pattis. I don’t blame them, they crave for the local food and they would go wild if there was no fear of bad stomach.

There are many countries where we have to develop a taste for that particular cuisine. When I went to Spain for the first time, I found the food very bland. There was no spice or chilies in the food. Many times I would carry a chilies sauce in my purse when I went out to eat. But gradually I developed a taste for it and now when I visit Spain, I do try some local cuisine.

On my last visit to Spain, I stopped by Barcelona for four days. My hosts took me out for lunch to try a typical Spanish cuisine. Twenty years ago, Barcelona was the host for Olympic games. An Olympic village with apartments and restaurants were developed at the seaside. Here was the venue for rows of restaurants serving all kinds of cuisine. The place was well lighted and there was much activity till late evening.

It was raining and the weather was chilly. As soon as we entered the restaurant, we were surrounded with the warmth and the happy atmosphere. Tourist and business people occupied the large round tables that were evenly spaced out. Transparent plastic curtains enclosed the area to keep out the rain. On the backside, behind the transparent curtain were the bar and the kitchen.

The service was quick and the waiter was alert. The olives and freshly baked bread coated with garlic and tomato appeared on the tables before even we could decide on the menu. The order would be the mixture of vegetarian and non-vegetarian.


To start with, I opted for Sangria, a fruit cocktail mixed with red wine with a bit of bubbly soda. Unfortunately, during the meal, with many more variety of food appearing at our table, I accidently dropped off my glass of Sangria and was not able to enjoy this after few sips.

But the rest of the meal was quite enjoyable.

I stretched my fork to pick up Jamón Ibérico de Bellota. This ham, (cured for more than 36 months, I was told,) is from free-range pigs that roam oak forests (called dehesas), and eat only acorns during this last period. The exercise and diet have a significant impact on the flavor of the meat. Salty and crisp, it tasted best went combined with freshly baked toast.


Gambas a la ajillo, the shrimps stir-fried with garlic in olive oil were tender and sweetish in taste.



Calamars a la Romania, the ring shaped squids, coated with egg flour batter and deep-fried. These were crispy and tender.

 I had never tasted Chiperones, which is actually small deep fried fishes, “have this, you will like the crispy, crunchy taste” said my BIL, but we were served baby octopus instead, I liked that as well.

When the Paella arrived I was taken by surprise. Now I had never known the existence of black rice. This is the specialty of Valencia and the black color is from black squid ink that is used during preparation. The rice was salty, crisp and well grilled filled with assorted seafood and chicken.

For the vegetarians, there was goat cheese salad, vegetarian paella and vegetable pinchitos, (the grilled chunks of cucumber, white gourd, brinjal and tomatoes).








Spanish meal is never complete till it ends with liquor and dessert. I was too full to order anything. However the liquor is good for digestion and the tiny glasses were too attractive to give a miss. We finished it with the piece of cake coated with cinnamon and powder sugar.





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