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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.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Fine Art Of French Pastry Making At Studio Fifteen

The invite was from France Tourism Development Agency and Bonne Mamam at Studio Fifteen. We, The FBAI members were to acquaint with fine art of French pastry making that would be further enhanced by the indulgent flavours of renowned French Confectioner Bonne Mamam.

Now Bonne Mamam, as you might know, make preserves and jellies that are 100% all-natural ingredients,  made from same time-honoured traditional French recipes. So making the cookies in normal traditional way and then adding a dollop of Bonne Mamam jelly on the top would naturally enhance the taste.

I dont normally bake (actually I need to buy a decent oven to begin with, its on my wish list) but the fact remains that I would be learning something different (everyday is a learning experience) from the expert chefs like Pooja Dhingra and Pablo Naranjo, and that was good enough reason to accept the invite.

Due to heavy Mumbai traffic, I was a bit late for interaction with other food bloggers, but luckily, I was in time to try my hand on baking Jam Thumbprint Cookies and Matcha Apricot Financiers.

After the brief introductions, we were split up in four groups of three persons each, so that all of us would get hands-on experience on preparation of these cookies and financiers. It was so easy that I am thinking why had I not baked these before. There is really no trouble at all, baking is just mixing the right proportion of ingredients and baking them at right temperature.

The cooking session was fun really, everybody had a story to tell, that made the session very interesting.

With ingredients, all measured and kept on the table, and under guidance of Pooja and  Pablo, we began to work on the recipe given to each one of us.

Sharing the recipe of
Matcha Apricot Finanaciers (of Studio15)

First important thing is to preheat oven at 200C

Whisk together 100 gms icing sugar, 20gms flour, 50gms almond powder and 1tsp Matcha powder

Add 2 egg whites and mix gently using fork

In a sauce pan, heat 60gms butter till it browns and strain over mixture

Pipe the batter into financier moulds and bake for 8-10 minutes

Add Jam on the top of financiers, as per your taste.

Sharing the recipe of

Jam Thumbprint Cookies (of Studio15)

Whisk together 100 gms butter, 120 gms castor sugar, and 1tsp vanilla essence till light and fluffy

Add one eggs and whisk well

Sift together ½ tsp baking powder and 175 flour

Fold into the above mixture with a spatula

Mix well and refrigerate the dough for 2 hours

Preheat the oven to 165C and line your baking tray with parchment paper

Take small quantities of the dough, make small balls, flatten with your finger tips into medium sized cookies

Put them on the baking tray, leaving 2-inch gap between each cookie. Using your thumb, make a small well in the middle of each cookie

Put a spoonful of jam in each well

Bake for 15 minutes or till the edges start browning

Once cooled, top the well with some more jam and serve.

Tasting is the best part of cooking or baking

Bringing back  food favours of a bottle of apricot jam and a pretty cookbook will inspire me to try my hand on baking, for sure..

Thank you Studio Fifteen for hosting us.

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