26 October 2017

Mexican Mint-Peanuts Pesto Pasta

           Mexican mint or Cuban oregano or Indian Borage or Karpooravalli ilai or Omam Ilai, many names for such an enchanting plant. Till now we have mostly used these leaves in our must-have morning concoction called Sukku Kaapi, or in a raita or rasam. But today I was driven to try it in something more interesting. Pesto seemed like a good one to try.
So here it is..
For the Pesto:
Mexican mint leaves - 4-5 large or 7-8 medium
Roasted peanuts - ¼ cup
Garlic cloves - 3-4
Salt, pepper to taste
Cheese slices - 2 (One can use the traditional processed/Parmesan cheese instead)
Olive oil - ¼ cup
Pasta of choice, cooked al dente
Olive oil - 2 tbsps
Broccoli - 5-6 florets, blanched
Spinach - 1 bunch, blanched and coarsely blended
Salt, pepper to taste
1. Add the pesto ingredients to a blender jar minus the olive oil and give it a quick pulse.
2. Add half the olive oil and blend once. Add the remaining oil and blend again.
3. Heat olive oil in a large wok and add the broccoli. Saute for a bit.
4. Add the blended spinach and let simmer on low. Add salt and pepper.
5. Once the mix becomes a little thick, add the pesto and give a quick stir. Turn off flame.
6. Add the cooked pasta to the spinach-pesto sauce and mix well but gently.
Serve hot.

25 October 2017

Brewklyn - brewing happiness!

           Where do I even begin about this place!? Brewklyn isn't the first micro-brewery I've visited (and surely not the last), but this is definitely a landmark in Kalyan Nagar. It's nested on the 4th floor and has a cool vibe from the moment you enter. The brain child of Prashanth Patil and Neeraj Chandrasekar, the passion and thought that has gone into this place shows. 
Right from the beers to starters to main course to desserts, there is plenty to feel spoilt for choice. 
Amongst the beer varieties, I particularly liked the British Pale Ale and Biggie, the German style lager. I prefer Shandy though (sorry purists) which was light and refreshing, just as I was hoping it would be. 
Starters - Loved all that I tasted. An advantage of visiting an eatery in a group is that you get to sample a bit of everything! 
Jalapeno Cheese bites were simply melt in the mouth. Tawa Paneer was okay. Pita and Spinach corn bites was another stunner. Vegetable kurkure - okay, a good dish to munch on while enjoying your beer. 
Main course - Veg pizzas, Farmhouse and Italiano were decent. Turophiles will especially like them coz they were oozing with cheese! 
Veg Cannelloni was amazing. 
Desserts - Moving on to desserts, the Apple pie was a show stopper for me. The tartlet base was super crunchy, apple crumble delectable and the portion just right. Cheesecake, warning, you might not want to share! 
And speaking of ambience, try not to sit around after ordering your food. There's a pool table, foosball table, a rooftop (I believe open to parties) else, simply walk around and enjoy the view.
Verdict : Will definitely visit again....
And now, enjoy the pictures!
Brewklyn is at - No.30, B.R Plaza, CMR Road, HRBR Layout, Kalyan Nagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560043
Directions - Google Maps
Location - 4/5
Ambience - 4.5/5
Food - 4.5/5
Service - 4.5/5

17 August 2017

No food like home food

          No matter where you eat, from street food to fine dining, nothing beats home food at the end of the day, especially if it's mom's, or even better, grandmother's cooking!
When we travel however, we do tend to yearn for that taste of home food, how the local cuisine actually tastes, something that restaurants can rarely recreate.
         This is the vision behind the endeavour started by Authenticook, to bring diners close to home food. The process is simple, as a diner you:
- choose the city you are in
- select from the cuisines on offer
- choose from the list of home chefs
- check out the dates the pop-ups are going to be hosted, or request for a date of your choice
- pay for the number of diners and you are good to go. Best to go in a small group or a family so the cost gets divided.
           I had an opportunity to try out this arrangement, and what better way to start out in Bengaluru than the taste of typical Karnataka food. The host, Mrs Soumya resides in Old Kanakapura Road, Basavangudi, about 5 minutes away from Lalbagh metro station. When I arrived at the location, I wasn't sure what to be more excited about - the food or the mansion itself which according to the hosts was more than 80-90 years old!

The residence is at the ground level and on the first level they have a superb games cafe called 1980s Games Cafe; which is just that. All board games that any 60s, 70s and 80s kid would identify with, simple pleasures that are sadly losing out to digital counterparts. You will also find the old style Chausar, Pallankuzhi apart from the usual popular board games. Plus you have quick eats available to boot.
Now back to the traditional food on offer. My menu consisted of:
Millets roti with chutney
Capsicum Vangibath with Alu Raitha
White Rice with Halsande Kalu Sapesru & Palya
Gavale Payasa
Dal Vada
Curds and Pickle
            Millets roti is a total sellout item in my opinion. The older lady of the house, Soumya's mother in law prepared them fresh herself, in fact, most of the cooking is by her. The cherry on the icing is the home made butter and chili chutney. Simply out of this world! The vangibath, raita, palya and dal vada were all just as I expected them, the homemade flavour, just as a grandmother would make it for you!
           Now the Gavale Payasa is an interesting addition. This delicacy is popular in Maharashtra and possibly North Karnataka too. The Gavale is our own version of the pasta, a pure labour of love, which can then be made into bhaat or kheer. It was simply amazing, my first time.
Beyond the food, what stands out in this kind of arrangement is the hospitality, the homeliness and you can have your food fully assured that it will be safe. Kudos to Authenticook for that.
           So go ahead and book your next home meal. Take your family, colleagues and friends with you, because the more the merrier! For now, enjoy these pics...

30 June 2017

Pindi - Pind da swaad

Pindi , a word that's synonymous with the villages of Punjab and frontier cuisine. Presently managed by the 3rd generation after Shri K.L Wadhwa, the founder, Pindi Bangalore continues its culinary legacy from its humble beginnings in Delhi. They say laughter is brightest where food is best. My jury is still out on that but I will say that Pindi at HSR is a great place to spend your afternoons and evenings with your family, friends and colleagues alike.
Here's a review (vegetarian dishes) after my recent visit to the place.
Starters - This is where Pindi scores BIG. I tasted :
1. Bharwaan Chutney Aloo - Potatoes well done, not over-stuffed, chutney just about spicy. Warning - You can't stop at one!
2. Paneer Kurkure - The papad crusted paneer rolls pack a nice crunch. Paneer is soft and well spiced. A flavourful crust is just as interesting as the stuffing, a pleasant change from the usual flour, oats and crumbs crusted fare.
3. Seekh kebab - This again was my favourite. After the first 2, the spice factor continues to flatter the palate. None of these 3 were a let down. Thumbs up.
Main course - The benchmark for anything is set against comparable parameters. For me, the benchmark for comparing north Indian dishes is by tasting the staple dishes. I had :

1. Pindi Chole - Sadly, this did not excite me much. It was more like Chole masala. I appreciate the spices are "homemade" but we tend to have a completely different vision and version of Pindi chole in our minds. Even to take it at its face value, the masalas did not encourage me enough.  
2. Palak Paneer - This was not the usual pasty Palak Paneer we often have elsewhere. The spinach was chunkier and the paneer was OK.
3. Dal Makhani - Liked this one. As homely as the taste gets. With Roti or rice, or I could have this on its own too!
4. Kadhai Paneer - This was OK, sadly no Wow factor. They definitely use Paneer better in the starters I  feel.
The Indian breads were standard fares and quite soft. 
For dessert, I tasted Gulab Jamun with Ice cream - Soft but a tad too sweet for me

Overall a must visit. Their mocktails, especially the flavoured Lassis are great. Service is good. Starters are a must have. And their rooftop dining is often talked about for all good reasons. 

Atte ka Halwa

Simple and easy to make dessert recipe using minimal ingredients...
ATTE KA HALWA (Wheat flour halwa)
Whole wheat flour - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Ghee - 1/2 cup
Water - 2 cups
Roasted cashews (in ghee) - a few
Roasted raisins(optional) - a few
1. Heat ghee in a thick-bottomed pan. 
2. Simultaneously mix together sugar and water in a thick saucepan and bring to a boil on medium heat. Allow sugar to dissolve. We do not need any string consistency here. Once it comes to a boil, lower flame a little and let simmer.
3. Meanwhile, to the ghee, add the wheat flour and roast well. Keep stirring till the flour lets out a roasted aroma and starts to turn golden brown. 
4. Continue stirring till ghee starts to separate and it becomes a pasty mix.
5. Once the sugar syrup starts to bubble, carefully and gradually add it to the roasted flour, stirring alongside to ensure no lumps. 
6. Keep stirring till all the water is absorbed by the flour and it comes together and starts leaving the sides of the pan.
Remove and serve hot (or warm) garnished with roasted cashews or other dry fruits of choice.

5 May 2017

Sweet & spicy Mango Pickle (Aam chunda)

Enjoy the mango season while it lasts..
Ingredients :
Raw Mango, grated - 3 cups
Sugar - 2 cups
Jeera - 1 tsp
Methi (fenugreek) seeds - 1 tsp
Cloves - 8
Cinnamon - 1 inch stick
Green cardamom (Chhoti elaichi) - 8
Red chili powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/4 cup
(Note : Use the same cup across all ingredients for getting the measure right)

There are 2 methods for this, the no-cook and cooked ones, will mention both here.
1. Dry roast Jeera for 2 mins. Let cool and coarsely powder along with cloves, cinnamon stick and cardamom.
2. Dry roast methi seeds for 2 minutes, let cool and grind to a fine powder.
3. Add all the ingredients to a steel bowl (Pateela) and mix well with a light hand.
4. Cover the mouth of the vessel with a clean, dry muslin cloth. Place a lid over it and keep out in the sun for 5-8 days. Remember to stir once every day before placing in the sunlight. Once it turns into a honey-like consistency, transfer to a glass jar and refrigerate until use.

COOKED METHOD : (Helpful especially where natural 'sunlight cooking' is not easy)
1. Add the grated mangoes, sugar, salt and turmeric powder to a non-stick pan, mix once and let simmer on a low flame till sugar dissolves. Stir only occasionally.
2. Once it reaches a boil, stir continuously till you get a 1-string consistency.
3. Remove the mixture from the flame and let cool. Now add the coarse spice powder, methi powder and chili powder and mix well. Transfer immediately to a clean jar and refrigerate till use.


19 April 2017

Jo khaane se kare pyaar!

Jo khaane se kare pyaar, woh Prestige se kaise kare inkaar?!  
             Almost every Indian household has grown up using, cooking with and eating off Prestige cook and serve-ware. Evolution is an important aspect for everyone and everything, especially successful brands, to stay in the race. TTK Prestige is one such that has withstood the test of time and continues to innovate.
              It was a bright Monday morning, and I say bright only because I was looking forward to attend the exclusive 'Food-tasting'event organised by TTK Prestige at The Oberoi, MG Road, with Masterchef runner-up and well-known celebrity Chef Shazia Khan set to de-mystify 'Nouvelle cuisine' for the home cook. Ever since my first meeting with her at the Times Lit Fest earlier this year, I was really excited about meeting her again!
            The dishes lined up for the day were pretty interesting and kudos to Chef Shazia for finishing all of them with panache. Beautifully interweaving her cooking with quick tips and quips and inviting blogger guests to help out, Chef kept us hooked to her cooking. Here's a quick preview of the dishes and the cookware highlighted :
1. Dukkah crusted Paneer with creamy Beetroot - This dish demonstrated the use of the Omega Gold series cookware. The paneer was simply melt-in the mouth and one could finish off the creamy Beetroot on its own! I must point out here, as with my personal experience with the Omega cookware, one needs very little oil to cook the food and it just slides off with minimal effort.

2. The Brinjal Affair - This had three elements to it. The first was to roast, peel, chop and mix a brinjal with spices, akin to our Baingan bharta. Second element was a crunchy Peanut topping. The component I was waiting for was the Brinjal fry using the Air Fryer. The brinjal, simply coated with spices and bread-crumbs came out absolutely crispy, which otherwise would have needed deep-frying in loads of oil! Even a non-brinjal lover like me felt tempted to try!

3. Chili Mutton Sliders - Though being a non-meat eater, I was looking forward to this dish owing to the use of the much-hyped Pressure cooker with Clip-on + inter-changeable lids. This cooker comes in two sizes, the handy 3 Litres and the all-purpose 5 litres. That's not all, it is available in three shapes - Kadhai, Sauce pot and Handi. The best part is the new Clip-On lid, that just needs a simple twist to open. To be fair, it is slightly heavier than its predecessors, but considering the fact that there are no longish handles to manuevre around, this is a blessing. Above all, this lid can be used across the cooker, kadhai and handi, as also the Glass lid that converts them into serve-ware. Now this is definitely a blessing for people needing less crowded kitchens.
4. Cuban Chicken Skewers - The Orange sauce used in this dish demonstrated the useful juicer, Prestige Squeezo, that gives you fresh-pressed juice anytime in the comfort of your home. It's a slow-juicing technology that does not simply cut and mash up the fruits, instead takes its time to squeeze out the juice, helping to retain the max nutritional quotient.

5. Grilled Figs with Almond crumble and Vanilla mousse - An absolutely delectable dessert that, right from the creamy mousse, the grilled figs to the crispy Almond crumble made in a jiffy in the Air Fryer, every element was drool-worthy.

6. Grape juice Phuchka shots - Save the best for last, as they say. Another brilliant demo of the juicer. Make your own fresh juice at home sans preservatives and innovate with dishes of choice, as Chef Shazia did here with the all-time favourite Phuchkas or Panipuri or Golgappas. No matter which name we know it by, this snack is an absolute show-stopper anywhere, anytime. Served here with chopped apples, crunchy, fruity green chutney and the tangy-sweet grape juice.
            Last but not the least, mention must be made of the Prestige 'HobTop', the slimmest cooktop, that (apart from its good looks) doubles up as both a gas-stove and a hob. The Induction Cook top is another innovative product that has one of the most helpful features for any Indian cook - an Automatic Whistle Counter preset option. One can set the number of whistles required for the dish, and the cook top does the rest for you! Remember your mom/wife asking you, how many whistles did we hear, and the blank looks in response? Well, no more, because once the set number of whistles go off, the cook top goes into Keep warm mode.
          There was much to take away with us that day. From a crisp intro by Mr Chandru Kalro, Managing Director, TTK Prestige, the brilliant cooking by Chef Shazia Khan, the clever use of the cookware, the yumm dishes prepared to the brilliant lunch and hospitality by The Oberoi Hotel, this was truly a Monday to remember.
Sharing here some shots from the event....