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Am a contradiction of sorts. i love going out and having a good time with friends, and i can also stay home chill out over a book or a movie.. Am very passionate about writing, so give me a topic and watch me float away into wonderland... I Am crazy about music,books,friends and my doggie... :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

[Food tales] Stuffed peppers & chilli


If there is one dish that the entire family loves and will gobble up not keeping track of numbers, it is the humble bhajji.. Deep fried vegetables that have been dipped generously in a batter made by gramma. She used to talk about how back when they were living as a joint family, there would be days when bhajji would be made in the evening, and they would fly.. 

Some of the veggies used are Chow chow, potato, raw banana, brinjal [grandpa and his brothers love this veg], cauliflower and onion...   even today there are times when gramma says "lets make bhajji"... except now quantity is limited cos everyone has become health conscious and we just make chow chow, cauliflower, onion and maybe raw banana... The batter is one thing she is super particular about- it needs to have the right consistency, enough amount of Asafoetida & chilli powder.. The veggies should be coated but there shouldnt be too much batter... So that is the memory I have of Bhajjis...

Few weeks ago three stooges piled into a car and headed down the beautiful East coast road towards Pondicherry. Along the way, they stopped at the Farm belonging to one stooge's father in law. The farm was beautiful- acres of lush greenery, trees and plants of all kinds, including tomato, chilli [both big and small], mango, papaya, coconut and more. We spotted some dried up gum on what must have been a Cashew tree, coochicooed with the cows an calves, spotted some chicken and goat running around and enjoyed a refreshing tender coconut, bottoms up! 

When we left the place, we were given bags of vegetables and few coconuts as well. Each of us took some, and well, few days later  the stooge also sent across cute tiny bell peppers. And thus came the idea to make something of the Big chillies and these peppers.

I pulled out the packets of Kase cheese I had, and some home made paneer as well. Put them in separate bowls- added garlic to one, kasuri methi to the other and was all set to deep fry them green beauties.  Since it was for me & gramma, I made sure to fry the non garlic based ones first [she does not eat garlic]. 

Alongside these, I got the Bhajji batter ready - Besan flour, salt, red chilli and some garam masala as well. Mix it well with some water [just enough so it is pouring consistency, not too watery] You can also add Asafoetida and make it like the regular south indian bhajji batter...

A pan filled with enough oil was heating up on the stove as I got down to filling them chillies and peppers. It was fun! We usually make Bhajjis the traditional way, with no filling...  





Must say the final product turned out yummilicious.. We had it with lunch. The chillies had just a hint of heat, and the soft cheese inside had melted giving it a richness. Similarly, the peppers with paneer and kasuri methi were kick-ass, even if I do say so myself..  Gramma enjoyed it as well, so much so that she keep the remaining two aside saying "will have in evening or dinner, or will offer it to my cousin if he comes over"


Sunday, March 17, 2019

Flavours of India festival - Café G, Holiday Inn Chennai OMR IT Expressway








Kerala potato Cutlet- dont let the name fool you, this was actually minced meat cutlet...



Dessert counter at Buffet spread..

Goan Omelette counter.. was fascinating- it was a pav bun encased in an omelette.. 





Talk about talking a journey through the various Flavours of India across a meal? Yes, that is exactly what we enjoyed at Cafe G in Holiday Inn Chennai OMR IT expressway. 

I had been meaning to visit the property, but something or the other hindered. And finally I was headed there for dinner.. The property is shaped like a ship, atleast to me and it is plush from the minute you step into the lobby. High ceilings, beautiful chandeliers, and seating arrangements are what you see first. Take the elevator to go up to the floor with the Cafe G and Score, the Sports bar, you see a long lounge of sorts as you walk towards the dining area. The food is laid out in buffet style, with the mains kept far away from the desserts. I had the pleasure of dining at their private dining area, at the far end of the restaurant- perfect for a small cozy meal or a big group dinner as well. 

Talking about the food on the Festivals of India festival menu, the starters were my favourite, and the dips served alongside as well.  There are also a few Live stations- a Goan Omelette, The Chaat counter and the Appam station. I did try the Goan omelette [which was basically pav bun encased inside an omelette and served alongside a gravy of your choice] -since I love eggs, this one was yumm. Again, at the Appam station, I requested for an egg appam with veg korma, friend had it with paaya[ mutton based]. At the chaat counter, we decided to share a plate of Paani puri. They had 4 different sauces, two that we are familiar with, one other was a pickle style and the final one was sweetish. 

For the mains, you make a beeline to the buffet counter and just let your eyes have a party before your taste buds get there. Some of the dishes I enjoyed were the Bhindi, Daal and Paneer. They also had a regular buffet section [ featuring Continental  & Chinese dishes]... Phew!! It was quite a meal so far... Then came time for the desserts. My favorite among the lot was the Ada pradaman, it is a dessert from Kerala and had just the perfect amount of sweet if you ask me... Did try the Kerala Halwa and Mango Rasmalai, but they werent really my thing.... 

This festival is on till the 24th March, dinner only & priced at Rs1399 [incl tax], so go for it.... 

Address: 
Holiday Inn Chennai OMR IT Expressway
# 110, Old Mahabalipuram Rd, 
PTK nagar, Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai - 600041 
Phone: 044 6604 6604

Disclaimer: The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember these were just my views!! Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit :-)

Sunday, March 3, 2019

[Food tales] My love for experimenting with food & Mirchi peanut gobi ...



I have been told that I made dosa when I was 3 years old, with my gramma beside me.. Looks like I was into cooking from then on. But I do remember making my own lunch when I got into high school - noodles, bread upma etc.. Since then, I have had heaps of fun experimenting with food.

Am not a stickler for recipes, nor too fond of traditional food. So, whenever am in the kitchen you can be assured there is something new brewing. But let me tell you, the end result has been yumm, vouched by those around me and friends as well who got to taste the same. And no casualties.. lolz..

Its fun. I enjoy cooking, its not therapeutic or any such but for me its fun...  The one thing I do enjoy lots is being on my own in the kitchen.  I dont like sharing the space with others, unless they are someone I am really comfortable with. Usually when there is someone else there, I would just not do anything. I would hover about,  chit chat, ask questions about what they were making or some such. And then when they are done and out, I would start my cooking. :-)

What it all boils down to is that I would rather be by myself, mixing matching ingredients, pairing different things together, whipping up something that sounded good in the head to see if they translate good on the plate/palate as well. Not to brag, but I have had very few [can count them on one hand] kitchen disasters. Not bad, right ?

Oh, and did I mention my love for trying out recipes from cookery shows? Oh yes! That is something I share with my gramma [mom's mom].. She and I have recreated so many dishes, it dazzles me to think about them. Some have turned out delicious, while others left us wondering "what was the chef thinking?" The most recent attempt was based on a dish we had during a take away..

Bombay Brasserie is a restaurant that gramma loves [ we have ordered from there before] and so that evening we ordered dinner from them. I ordered Rumali roti, cheese stuffed parantha, and two sides- one was paneer tikka masala while the other was peanut mirchi gobi.... She loved the cheese stuffed parantha and the gobi dish the most. Kept saying how both were so different and the flavours, textures were blowing her mind away.

The wheels in her head began churning post the dinner, and in 2 days time we were in the kitchen trying to recreate the dish [ based on what we remembered]... The end result- was quite close to what we ate , and then a day later, it was made again [ this time with a little more tweaks and chilli], it turned out yummm...

The Recipe

Step 1
1 cauliflower- split into florets
Parboil with tiny bit of salt for 10mins max

Step 2
Take a bowl, put cauliflower in it
Sprinkle cornflour - 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Pepper [based on your preference]
Red chilli flakes -1 tsp
Toss well so that all florets are coated.
In a pan, add oil - deep fry the florets and keep aside

Step3
Peanut chilli mix -
Boil peanuts (until they are 3/4 done)
Mince the peanuts into chunks
Grind green chillies (3 chillies for a tbspn of peanuts)  and coriander (just a small amount- 2-3 sprigs)

Step 4
In a pan, add oil and sautee the ground mix for a few mins
Add fried cauliflower
Sautee and serve hot .. ta daaa..




What is the most fun you have had in the kitchen? Do share.... 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

[Recipe] Eggless Strawberry Cake

I love cooking, but when it comes to baking I hesitate because the recipes are complicated or it just boggles me [cos I have to follow the recipe to the dot, measurements etc]. But then I do push myself and experiment every now and then.. Apart from the one time I ended up burning a batch of cupcakes, I have managed to do a pretty good job and the end product tastes good as well. :-) 

And this year, I kinda made up my mind to do a lot more baking... So, now that it is strawberry season, well to be honest, the season is nearly done, I knew I wanted to go beyond just buying a box of berries and gorging on them... ! I managed to find a box of strawberries at my local store, they were nice big and juicy... Of the recipes I found, the one that caught my eye when I googled - "Eggless strawberry recipes" was this cake recipe from #BakeWithShivesh .. [ Yes, at home it is eggless baking/cooking only cos gramma does not eat egg]

This is super simple recipe, and takes less than 5mins to put together and 25-30 mins to bake! Not only that, it looks good, and tastes even better :-) Above all, it does not need any fancy ingredients, you will pretty much have all that you need in your kitchen. I made it once few weeks ago, and it was a huge hit, so on popular demand have made it again today..  Moist and flavour packed, this recipe is a keeper... 


Recipe link- https://bakewithshivesh.com/eggless-strawberry-tea-cake/

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (240g) maida ( all-purpose flour), sifted
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) fresh lemon zest 
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (3g) baking soda
  • ½ cup (120mL) vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (200g) castor sugar
  • 1 cup (285g) Greek yogurt/ hung curd
  • ¼ cup (60mL) milk
  • 1 teaspoon (5mL) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (170g) fresh strawberries, slices
** Apart from these, I added a few drops of strawberry essence - this adds additional flavour and colour to the cake.. 

Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180*C. Line a 9" round pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, combine maida, lemon zest, baking powder and baking soda by whisking them together.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the oil, sugar and yogurt together until everything is well combined.
  4. Beat in the milk and vanilla extract and mix well.
  5. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix only until there are no large flour pockets. Do not over-mix.
  6. Use a spatula to carefully fold in some strawberries into the batter. Reserve the rest for the top.
  7. Transfer the thick batter to the prepared cake pan. Arrange rest of the strawberry slices on top
  8. Tip- to get that extra golden crust, evenly sprinkle about 1-2 tablespoons of castor sugar on top.
  9. Bake the cake at 180*C for 40-45 minutes until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. [ I noticed mine were done in 25-30mins, so check and pull it out accordingly]


Doesn't that strawberry slice look like a mini heart? :-) 

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