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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Thai Cook-Up at APBCookStudio

I have made many trips to Bangkok and each time, Thai food hogging starts immediately after landing, catching the first bite at the airport, stopping at street stall for a second bite and ordering the third meal at home.
The romance of Thai cuisine dates back many years ago, in another century, when relishing food was purely aping the taste of my cousins. They liked so I liked. During my long summer holidays, my cousins in Bangkok would take me to narrow food lanes, in the interiors of the city, thick with fragrant smoke. We would sit on plastic furniture and eat the most unique dishes, sometimes slimy stuff, sometimes deep fried critters, and sometimes sea-food infused with herbs, rich in taste, so spicy that I had tears staining my cheeks. The taste was enchanting and whenever I asked what I was eating, they would say “Just eat, don’t ask”

Thai food is the riot of flavors of sweet, sour, salty, bitter and spicy, all in balanced proportions. On another holiday in Bangkok, I had attended Thai cookery class to learn the basics of Thai cuisine. Most of my knowledge on Thai authentic meal comes from learning from house help in my cousin’s home. But for travellers, I am told, there are number of premier cooking schools introducing rich Thai cuisine heritage, offering personalized, individual, family and group culinary courses. It will be interesting to get insight into the unique art of Thai Cuisine.
Some of the major hotels like Oriental hotel, Dusit Thai hotel and some more popular hotels provide cooking course for their visitors based on creditable choices of the menus served at their restaurants.
I have many good memories of Bangkok and those memories were refreshed this week, when Rushina Munshaw invited me to her APBCookStudio for Thai Cook-up by Tourism Authority of Thailand.

The feast began with a lemon-grass drink, followed by Thai bhel and then a cooking demonstration for making Green and Red curry paste, chicken in basil and Thai curry. We were then grouped in pairs, to cook up the Thai dishes at our own cook stations.
It was a fun afternoon, cooking, eating and enjoying the morning, meeting other food lovers, was happy to meet Raynah Coutinho, Public relation manager, who shared her experiences of living in Thailand informing us about different point of interests.
I am happy to Share with you the basil chicken as demonstrated by Rushina.

Please note, for vegetarians, mushrooms can be substituted for chicken
Kai Phad Kaphro (Basil Chicken)
Courtesy Rushina Munshaw


250gms boneless chicken breast, cut into small pieces
2tbsp oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2-3 red chilies dissected and chopped
2tbsp fish sauce
pinch of sugar
20 Thai Basil leaves +12 deep fried for garnish.

Heat oil in wok, add garlic and chilies, stir fry till golden brown
Add chicken, stir fry till it changes color
Season with fish sauce and sugar and continue stir frying for 3-4 minutes
Stir in the fresh basil leaves
Garnish with fried basil leaves and sliced chilies and serve with white rice.

Rushina had given me some freshly made red and green Thai curry paste to take home. Sunday was a treat time for my family and they loved the Thai curry that I made for lunch.
This is how I made Thai Curry

500gms Chicken thigh cut into strips
100gms coconut powder dissolved in 2 cups of warm water
½ cup green curry paste
3tbsp vegetable oil
5-6 Thai chilies; cut slantwise
5-6 kaffir lime leaves
2tbsp tamarind juice
½ cup Zucchini, diced
½ cup button mushroom, halved
½ broccoli diced
4-5 basil leaves
1tbsp fish sauce
1tbsp palm sugar
1 chicken stock cube


Stir-fry chicken thigh strips till fragrant
Add a cup coconut milk and chicken stock cube
In another wok stir-fry green curry paste and sauté till fragrant
Transfer the curry paste mixture in the chicken coconut broth and continue to stir gently till it is mixed.
Add mushrooms, broccoli and Zucchini.
Leave until cooked and then add the remaining coconut milk
Adjust the seasonings as desired using fish sauce, sugar, kaffir leaves, basil leaves, chilies, tamarind juice and sugar.
Serve hot.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

New Zealand Cook-Up Contest

Social media is an amazing medium of communication. It brings you closer to people, whom you would never meet personally. Moreover, it brings out the creativity in you.

Last week, Beacon Holidays organized a contest on social network, in association with New Zealand Tourism and Food Bloggers Association, inviting people to write in just 12 words on what they would like to experience in New Zealand cuisine. participants were asked to submit their entries using the tag #TasteNewZealand.

I posted my entry at Beacon Holidays: “I would like to experience ‘tea’ the main meal of the day.

I won the first phase of #TasteNewZealand and was invited to participate in cook-up contest at the beautiful set up at APBCookStudio

I was one of the five participants that won the contest and we were to go to second phase of contest by cooking a dish at the cook studio (owned by Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal) using any of the three ingredients, lamb mince meat, boneless lamb and/or kiwi.
I was competing with most creative participants who cooked up some of the most amazing dishes

I chose to make Minced-meat pie.

Normally when I make pies, I use the ready-pastry dough that we get at supermarkets. Its easy, you just make the filling, pack it inside pastry dough and bake it.

But here, I took the risk of making the crust from the scratch and baking in the oven, I was not familiar with. The crust refused to bake after the filling and it was a huge flop.
Embarrassing! I lost my chances of winning a free stay of 4nights 3days to Queenstown.
It was Aarti  Basrur who won the handsome prize, holding that expensive envelop in her hand and posing with the hostess.

Aarti's dream of wanting to experience Urban NewZealand cuisine infused with Maori cooking techniques saw the light of the day.
Yes, she was the lucky one, who will enjoy the fruit of success. She was the one who made pomegranate lamb kababs and Kiwi chutney that judges (Rushina Mushaw and Sameer Malkani) were praising profusely; they said there was surprise element at every bite.
I had loved Renita’s Palova and it was so good that I was asking her to pack her bags for the trip. Her melt-in-the-mouth dessert was amazing!
Purabi Neha made Kiwi Lamb Cutlets with Kiwi sauce that were really delicious and her presentation of spreading the Kiwi fruit around the cutlets was a nice visual creation, but there was only one winner of the big prize and she missed it by only one point.
Mohit Choitrani made interesting dishes using Kiwi and meat. He made Sweet Brushetta, Classic Shepard Pie and refreshing Kiwi Smoothie

The atmosphere at the APBCookStudio was very vibrant with audience waiting to taste the dish. It ended with a grand feast cooked by Rushina and her staff

My entry………….that won me a bottle of wine.

 Mince Meat Pie

Mince meat pie is the traditional Kiwana Kiwisine and is still the norm in many homes
Ingredients for the crust
1cup flour
½ cup cold unsalted butter
1/2tsp salt and powder sugar mix
1 egg

Ingredients for filling
1tbsp oil
200gms mince meat
2 medium onions (finely chopped)
1tsp garlic paste
2tbsp tomato sauce
2tbsp cornstarch
1 chicken/meat cube
50gms mushroom
50gms cheese (grated)
1tsp black pepper
chopped black olives for garnishing

Method for crust
1.    Mix flour, salt, sugar, unsalted butter in a bowl
2.    Make a dough using ice cold water if necessary
3.    Wrap it in sling film and refrigerate it for an hour
4.    Remove from fridge and roll it to the size a little large than the tart pan.
5.    Line the tart pan with butter and spread the rolled out dough
6.    Pinch holes in the dough
7.    Bake it for 25minutes, till crusty
8.    Fill it with filling

Method for filling
1.    Fry onions in oil till light brown
2.    Add crushed garlic
3.    Add mince meat
4.    Cook till water dries up
5.    Add tomato sauce, chicken/meat cube, corn starch
6.    Leave it to cool
7.    In another pan sauté chopped mushroom with salt and pepper
8.    Grate cheese

Assembling the pie
1.    In the baked crust lined tart pan, coat the edge with egg.
2.    Add the filling of cooked minced meat
3.    Layer it with sautéed mushrooms
4.    Layer it with grated cheese
5.    Garnish with tomato sauce and black olives
6.    Bake it for 20 minutes at 350 degrees

My special thanks to Tanvi and Rachna who were always willing to help and made thing easy for us.

Lessons that I learnt
Don’t experiment at the cook-up-contest, attempt only those recipes that you specialize in.
Understand the oven, before using it
If things go wrong, try something creative to change the recipe
or else, just accept the fact:
That sometimes things go off tangent, nothing to fret about, it does not reflect on your cooking, its just bad luck.
Then, there’s always next time….

Image courtesy Beacon Holidays

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Tomato Curry

All my Sundays are spend with my family and it’s a day of feast. My sister makes delicious lunch and we all get together and have tasty meals. At night, we have something light. Sometimes I help in the kitchen and get chance to try out new recipes because family is eager to eat something different. The problem with my cooking is that I cannot reproduce the taste. So it’s always ‘enjoy the present meal and don’t ask for repeats.
For me cooking is a creative activity but it is difficult to reproduce, even if I follow the same recipe. Many times people think that I am hesitant to share the recipe but they don’t understand that I cannot repeat. Maintaining this blog has helped me a lot. I jot down the recipe that I make and ask them to go to my blog to read my recipe.
Sista wanted to have tomato curry. I promised her that I would cook the coming Sunday, but I forget. But promise is the promise, so I made in the mid-week and sent it across.
Sista loved it.
Its easy but too much time consuming. It took me at least an hour to make.

4 large tomatoes
2 tablespoon of tomato soup powder
1tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1tsp fenugreek seeds (methi seeds)
1 pinch of asafetida (hing)
1 inch grated ginger (adrak)
2 sprigs of curry leaves (curry patta)
4-5 green chilies (mirchi)
1 tbsp chickpea powder (besan)
1tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
1tsp salt (namak)
1tsp sugar (shakkar)
1tsp red chili powder (lal mirchi)
dried tamarind flowers (imli key phool)
1 medium size brinjal (beygan)
1 medium size carrot (gajjar)
5-6 okra (bhindi)
4tbsp shelled peas (vatana)
2 medium size potatoes (aalloo)
2tbsp tamarind paste (emlee)
2tbsp coriander leaves (dhania)
Tomatoes are boiled in pressure cooker.
They are removed, peeled and made into puree.

To the liquid left over after boiling tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of tomato soup powder is added. Mix it well.

Step 4
In the pan, heat oil
Step 5
Add cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, asafetida, grated ginger, curry leaves and green chilies

Add 1tbsp of chickpea powder

Step 7
Mix it well on low flame till the chickpea powder is roasted well and is light brown in color.
Step 8
Add tomato soup

Step 9
Mix well to clear all the lumps and let it boil
Step 10
Add tomato puree

Step 11
Add turmeric powder, salt, sugar and red chili powder
Step 12
Add dried tamarind flowers

Step 13
Add mixed vegetables like brinjals, shelled peas, okra, potatoes, and carrots.

Step 14
Soak the tamarind in water for 10 minutes, mash the tamarind and squeeze out the pulp leaving behind tamarind water. Add this water to the curry

Step 15
Taste and adjust for salt, sugar and sourness.
Step 16
Garnish with coriander leaves.

Serve with white rice.

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