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Showing posts from 2010

The Flavors of Christmas

What do you look forward to on Christmas morning? I think of cinnamon and plump raisins soaked in rum and bright, cheerful colors. Looks like daring bakers had the same idea.

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration. All to make a bread that has all the colors and flavors of Christmas. We were even told to shape it like a wreath.

Lovely and festive, isn't it!

Merry Christmas, everyone and hope you have a great new year. I'd see you after the holidays.

Pastry Wars : The Agenda

Pastry Wars : My quest to find the best version for every basic recipe that should be in a baker's repertoire. When I started, I didn't have a list in mind. But I've realized now that I need to start marking out recipes as I get to my favorites so here's the list I've put together.
Am I missing something? Do leave a comment and I'd add it to the list. Pastry
Tart - work in progress.
Puff Pastry
Pate a choux

Fillings
Pastry Cream
Lemon Curd (or cream)

Cakes
Vanilla
Chocolate
Cheesecake

Frostings
Whipped Cream
Buttercream
Cream Cheese
Ganache

Comfort Food
Brownies
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Muffins

Everything Else
Souffle
Pouring Custard/Creme Anglaise
Crepes
Chocolate Sauce
Caramel Sauce
Tempered Chocolate Cutouts

Kashmiri Dum Aloo

I am not a regular participant of Indian Cooking Challenge. Though now I wonder why. Every recipe I've cooked for this event has turned out to be a winner. This month's recipe - dum aloo cooked the kashmiri way with a unique combination of spices - was surely the best version of dum aloo I've tasted. An added bonus: it makes your whole house very, very fragrant.

I won't write up the whole recipe here because so many others have, so just go over to Srivalli's if you'd like to make some yourself.

My First Iced Cake

Vanilla Cake
Whipped Cream Frosting
Buttercream Flowers
Strawberries
Crooked Chocolate smiley

It may not be perfect, but it's the best cake I've ever made!

What would you do with leftover whipped cream

I had plenty left over from my pineapple pastry so I made a childhood favorite : fruit cream. Chopped up some canned pineapple finely. Also peeled and finely chopped an apple, then plonked it in lemony water for a minute.

I added both the fruits to the cream, then added someone syrup from the pineapple can to up the sugar quotient. Mixed it gently and put it in the freezer overnight. Next day, I left it in the fridge for 15 minutes then scooped it out in glasses. Although you can't see it up there, I also topped it with some blackcurrant syrup for a decadent dessert!
Now for some other news...
Bombay Foodie was featured in the Super Blogger Series at Simple Indian Food, so you might want to hop on there and read a bit more about me!

It Must've Been Something I Ate

I'd never heard of Jeffrey Steingarten until we picked his book as November's book of the month over at This Book Makes Me Cook. It Must've Been Something I Ate is a witty, very well written and immensely enjoyable collection of essays on food. Although I rarely read non-fiction, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. And there are three reasons you should read it too.

1. Steingarten seeks to burst the myths and fads about food. He takes it upon himself to educate misguided folks against their fear of cheese or MSG. What he says may or may not be true but I am with him on one thing : diet fads change every day and nothing in moderation could be that bad for you!

2. He doesn't believe in letting go. Once he gets hold of the idea, be it about proving the difference between salts or making blood sausages, he will sashay around the world until he gets to the bottom of it. His accounts are often hilarious and I can imagine the sheer number of people he will be irritating trying to…

Pineapple Pastry

This is what makes me feel so glad to be a part of the food blogging community. You saw the cake yesterday. I baked it on the morning of my parents' anniversary, hoping to turn into a traditional pineapple pastry they like.

Then I panicked. I know that the bakeries use a whipped cream topping, but I also knew that the 25% cream we get in India won't whip. So I put in an SOS mail to Deeba. And she called me back within minutes with ideas to incorporate more fat in the cream. With all her tips and hints, I finally have a pineapple pastry I like.

So if you are struggling with 25% Amul cream like me, here's what you do.

Tip No. 1 : Get rid of the whey. When you pour out the cream from the carton, you will get thick cream and some whey. Just pour the whey out.

Tip No. 2 : Chill, chill, chill. Before you start whipping your cream, put the bowl of cream in the freezer for 10 minutes. I also left the whipping blades of my hand mixer in the freezer for the same time.

Tip No. 3 : You ne…

Vanilla Yogurt Cake

I've officially given up on sponge cakes.

Earlier this week, my parents celebrated their 35th anniversary. And anniversaries call for cake. Or, in case of my family, they call for the pineapple pastries. Of the sort sold at practically every bakery in India. It's essentially sponge cake sandwiched with whipped cream and pineapple, then topped with more whipped cream, pineapple slices and an optional cherry.

First step - sponge cake. Except it wasn't. The one I made didn't rise and was too eggy. This is approximately the tenth sponge cake disaster I've had so I think it's time for me to pick another cake as the de facto to-be-iced party cake. Dorie Greenspan doesn't bake sponge cakes, after all. I've tried several of Dorie's cakes and it seemed to me that her French yogurt cake was the perfect fit for the occasion.

After all, Dorie says that French women dress this cake up with cream for their children's birthday parties. And if it's good for t…

American Pie

We don't really celebrate Thanksgiving. But then, any holiday that is created with the sole purpose of cooking and eating food has my wholehearted support. Which is why I baked myself a pie yesterday.

An open face, rustic, free form pie filled with the goodness of apples and cinnamon. I had half the dough left over from my fruit tart. Given how much it shrank in the tart pan, I thought of doing a more informal version of the pie called the galette.

I took out the cold dough from the fridge and rolled it out as thin as it would go, transferred it to a nonstick baking sheet and put in back in the fridge to chill. Next, I peeled and thinly sliced two apples.

If you work quickly and assemble your pie in the next two minutes, you don't need to worry about the apples browning. So as fast as you can, mix 2 tbsp brown sugar with 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Grab a handful of raisins.

Set the oven to preheat to 200C. Take the rolled dough out of the fridge and arrange a layer of apples in the center…

Pastry Wars : Tart Dough

Or pie crust if you like. I know that the American pie crusts tend to be very different from the tender pate sablee that goes into the French tart, but all I am trying to do here is figure out one perfectly crispy, flaky dough. After all, there are too many things to sort out already without getting into the pie versus tart debate:

- Should you use all butter or butter + lard? Or butter + shortening
- Food processor? I don't have one so that debate is out - we are making the dough by hand
- Butter the size of peas? Large beans? Breadcrumbs? Or everything in between?
- Or should you just ditch cutting the butter and grate it instead.

Gosh! There is so much to pick from. Thankfully, some things are a given. No matter what you do, you are looking for a dough that isn't mishandled too much, and has specks of butter left to rise into flaky crust. And the dough likes cold, so prepare for several rounds of chilling.

I read books and blogs and recipes, then picked the most recent addition …

Pastry Wars

Some of you have asked what happened to the Indigo challenge. The thing is, I go through phases in cooking. I was in the exotic main dishes phase when Indigo challenge started, but for the last couple of months, I only seem to be thinking of making desserts.

I am possibly watching too many reality cooking shows, but as all the funky creations by contestants of Top Chef : Just Desserts went past, it had me thinking only one thought. There's so much I don't know. See, I only started baking a couple of years back so there never was much time. And I haven't tried some things, like creme anglaise, because I dislike desserts with an eggy smell. Others, like souffle, because I am plain scared. All of which is about to change with the PASTRY WARS.

It's the quest for the perfect version of every basic recipe that needs to be in a pastry chef's arsenal. And it's simple - we just keep at something until we find our perfect version. If I try the classic version and it ta…

My favorite neighborhood bakery

When I first arrived in Malad, you couldn't buy edible bread anywhere in the vicinity. Fast forward six years and we are now spoilt for choices. I now have six bakeries within a five minute walking distance. And that's before counting the bread baking shops inside my next door supermarkets.

So why do I return to just one of these bakeries every single time...

French connection is for the days I want to eat healthy. Their USP is their 100% whole wheat breads. They also sell half loaves so I can buy one of those Atta Bread ones and finish it before it gets stale. There's also pure whole wheat cookies and the biggest winner of the lot - 100% whole wheat pizza base. It's so soft and delicious I don't bother to make any more pizza bases at home.

French Connection is also for the days I am feeling lazy. Or days I don't feel like eating home cooked food. I venture into the bakery on my way back from work and pick up their spinach paneer roll. Or Paneer Tikka Strudel.…

Quick Vegetable Lasagna

This one was an on-the-spur dish when a couple of friends decided to stop by for lunch. I've had some lasagna disasters before, so how was I to know this impromptu variation, done in under an hour, will have my guests looking longingly at the empty dishes and asking when they could come back for more. Hence, no pictures but I had to write the recipe down before I forgot what I did!

First off, I boiled a large pan of water, added a bit of salt and dropped in 8 sheets of lasagna. The dish I bake my lasagna in snugly fits two sheets at a time, so you should boil as many sheets as you need for 4 layers. The package said I should let it be for 12 minutes, so I used the time to clean a bunch of spinach and chop it finely to get around a cup of greens. I popped it in a bowl alongwith 2 tbsp of water. I took another bowl, in which went 1/2 cup of sweet corn and another 2 tbsp water. Both bowls then went into the microwave for 2 minutes of steaming.

My pasta was cooked to al dente now, so…

Of Diwali Traditions and Nankhatai

I told you we don't make diwali sweets or snacks at home. But other people I know have charming diwali traditions; and I bring you one of those from my friend A.



For as long as I remember, we've made nankhatai at diwali. Or rather, since we haven't owned an oven as long, we've made nankhatai dough that goes to the neighborhood bakery to turn into crisply baked cookies. This year, as my mother took out the ingredients to make this lovely diwali dish to serve all the guests who will visit during the four days of the festival, I decided to volunteer.

The ingredients, as I said, were already measured so let me quickly recount those for you. A kilo each of plain flour, powdered sugar and ghee (clarified butter) plus 100 grams of semolina. First I mixed the flour, sugar and semolina. Then I melted the ghee and started to add the dry ingredients, a little at a time, until it all came together. I kneaded it lightly with my palms until it was all a smooth dough (and if you only …

The Spaghetti Book

Guilia Melucci is a sad woman. A victim of the New York dating game, she runs through one man after the other, searching for her true love. When it is amply clear to any reader of "I loved, I lost, I made spaghetti" (or the spaghetti book, as the members of This Book Makes Me Cook have taken to call it) that the first and the only love of her life is the food she cooks.

The book is chock full of recipes, almost all a nod to Ms. Melucci's Italian past. And quite unlike the weak, average story the recipes are written in a witty and charming manner, reflecting the author's mood at the time. Like the Ineffectual Eggplant Parmigiana, cooked for two in a flailing relationship, "plus the three other people you wish were there to help keep the conversation going". Or the yorkshire puddings that deflate rapidly, like expectations!

I picked a dish from Guilia's happy times. The beginning of a relationship, when she's cooking bright, sunny dishes for two. This …

Here's for a happy, fun filled diwali!

I love starting traditions. Take diwali sweets, we never make them at home but last year I went ahead and made some coconut barfi. Haven't tried it again all of last year but decided to make it again for diwali. After all, it's so simple - thanks to the recipe from Alka over at sindhi rasoi.

First I mixed 100 grams dessicated coconut with 2 tsp of milk powder. Then, I mixed 75 grams sugar with 1/2 cup water and cooked it until it was a thick syrup. Added the coconut, milk powder and stirred around for around 5 minutes, until the mixture started to stick to the pan.

Then I poured the mix into my 6 inch tart tin and spread it around. I had some macadamia praline lying around from last week's cupcakes so a layer of that went on top of the hot fudge. Cut it into square when cool for a lovely nutty flavored coconut barfi.

Hope your diwali's as sweet this year!

Easy-Peasy Theplas

I should technically call this a guest post, since I've never made theplas in my life. But they are currently my favorite breakfast, thanks to my maid who makes a killer version. And she's sitting here all flustered, trying to answer my questions on ingredients and quantities so allow for this recipe being a collection of guesses and estimates. But try it all the same. With plain yogurt or some pickle on the side, they are the best breakfast there is. It's also not as complicated as your regular theplas so the incentive to make them's even higher.

Tear the leaves off a bunch of fenugreek. You need about half a cup. Wash them well and chop finely. Add this fenugreek to a cup of whole wheat flour alongwith 1 tbsp yogurt, 1 tsp garam masala, 1/2 tsp red chilli powder and 1/2 tsp turmeric. Also add salt to taste and a tbsp of oil. Mix everything well, then add just enough water to make a dough. Knead it for 5-7 minutes and keep aside for at least half an hour (she insists …

Lazy Weekend Rice

This one's for the sundays you don't really feel like cooking much. Also for days when you don't want to go out and shop for food. As long as you have rice and some tomato puree, you can design this recipe to use whatever you have languishing in your fridge.

For this week's version, I chopped an onion finely. Also found a yellow pepper I didn't know I'd bought and chopped it finely too, minus the seeds. While this was happening, I washed and soaked half a cup of rice and took out a cup of mushroom stock from the freezer.

Next, I heated a tbsp of olive oil in a pan. Added two cloves of garlic that I'd peeled and minced. As the garlic started to sizzle, I added the onion and the peppers. Stirred it around for a couple of minutes until the onion had started to turn brown. I then drained the rice and added it to the pan. Mixed it well with the veggies and let it cook for a minute or so. Next in, 2 tbsp of tomato puree. Waited another minute, then added the mus…

Macadamia Praline Cupcakes

I first tasted macadamia nuts when a visiting cousin brought some back from Australia. The only plant native to the continent down under, macadamias have a subtle flavor unmatched by any other nut. When a friend got me another pack a few weeks back, the only way I could thank him was to bake something with macadamias.

I didn't want a cookie, I didn't want a whole cake (what will he do with so much cake!) so it was clear we were going the cupcake route. But then, I didn't want to just add ground or chopped macadamias to the batter. I wanted a cake where macadamias were the star.

And every time I thought of a cake, I visualized a vanilla cake topped with macadamia praline. I searched everywhere but couldn't find the exact cake I was looking for so I just created something of my own.

First off, I made praline. If you are scared of caramel, you are going to go away now. DON'T! It's simple and not as scary as it sounds. Line a baking sheet with parchment and spread 15…

Masterclass Donuts

This post is pure coincidence; a confluence of two events. First, I saw this fabulous donut recipe on Masterchef Australia. I've been diligently following the show since it started but this was the first time a recipe really caught my attention. In a "make this right now" kind of manner.

Then the daring bakers came along and decided that we should do donuts this month. They even dispensed with their usual strict rules and said that anything goes, as long as it is broadly a donut. I've been missing challenges last few months, so this is just the perfect time to return to the club.

Made with a batter rather than a dough, the Mastechef donuts are misshapen and not exactly pretty. But they are light, crunchy and delicious. Following the recipe exactly as given, I rolled my hot, just fried donuts in lavender sugar, then used a pastry bag with a sharp tip to make a hole and fill the donuts with blackcurrant jam.

Unless you are catering to a crowd, reduce the recipe. I did 1/…

A Japanese Street in Mumbai

Just back home after spending an exciting day with Harini. While I'm gonna let Harini tell you about the rest of the day, I thought we should talk about a certain Japanese food festival. Presented by the students of Institute of Hotel Management (or Dadar Catering College as its called by popular choice), the 4-day event was meant to recreate a Japanese street fair. So how would they do that? There was Japanese food, of course. And there was a lot more.

But first, the food. We were given five coupons each with our passes to spend on the food stalls. Between the two of us, we managed to sample everything on the rather elaborate spread:

Okonomiyaki : Savory pancakes made with cabbage and tons of other vegetables. They were nice and crisp but the overly tangy sauce on top destroyed the effect.

Vegetarian Appetizers : The best stall there was! In our vegetarian platter, we got yakitori skewered vegetables, a potato cutlet (who can dislike fried potato) and deep fried tofu in a crispy…

What's in a Podi

I have a notebook full of recipes. It's tattered, falling out at the edges which tells me I started hoarding recipes early, pretty much before high school. There are recipes from magazines, from cookbooks I borrowed from library. I've even pasted recipes that come at the back of certain packages. Then there's a second notebook. This has to be somewhere from the end of my college years. I can't fathom how I got to be so organized, but I went back and added page numbers to both the notebooks and created an index, neatly split into recipe types and cuisines.

This second notebook has more "exotic" stuff from the first Jamie Oliver my library bought intertwined with Sanjeev Kapoor recipes. Then, because this notebook went travelling with me when I moved away from home, it has my first recipes copied from roommates and new friends.

One such recipe is podi, known affectionately as gunpowder. I am pretty sure podi means a generic chutney and comes in several forms, …

Have we talked about Cafe Britannia Yet

There are several reasons why Cafe Britannia doesn't automatically figure as my first pick of restaurants to talk about in Mumbai

1. They are tucked away in a corner of Ballard Estate, a rather long way from home.

2. They are open only for lunch; and they refuse to serve even that on sundays. Yes, on sundays they just stay at home!

3. They aren't big on service. As soon as you settle down in the ancient chairs set around checkered clothed, glass topped tables, they'd rather you order quickly from the small menu set below the glass. The food will show up quickly too, and then the menu clearly orders "Do not stay after you have paid the bill".

4. They don't believe in newfangled things like credit cards.

And yet, I knew we'd eventually get around to talking about this charming Parsi eatery. All for one reason : Berry Pulao. If you are a carnivore, you have parsi specialities like salli boti, patra fish and dhansak to pick from. But for a vegetarian, you on…

Found it!

It turns out my friend wasn't looking for pound cake at all. What finally met his approval as "THE CAKE" was this simplest loaf cake from Dorie Greenspan. At least, it started as Dorie's cake. Given the number of changes I made to the recipe, it's purely accidental it turned out to be as good as it did.

But there's no mistaking the fact it's incredibly simple. First off, I set my oven to preheat at 180C. Then, since I figured my silicone loaf pan could be a part of my previous cake problems, I lined the bottom and sides of a 7 inch metal cake pan with parchment.

My second problem, I reckoned, could have been the baking powder. If you are happy with the taste of commercial baking powder, by all means use that. I made my own by combining 2 parts cream of tartar with 1part baking soda. Sifted 2 tsp of this mix with 1 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 tsp salt.

In another bowl, I mixed 3 eggs, a cup of sugar, 1/2 cup yogurt and 2 tsp vanilla extract. Except I run out of ca…

Pound Cake...FAIL

Or Not a fail exactly, but not perfect either. My friend is looking for a cake he used to eat and love many years ago. He says it was a plum cake, but when I showed him one of those, it turned out to be a different species. From what he describes his cake to be - brown at top, soft and buttery inside, no chocolate or nut or fruit in sight - it has to be a pound cake.

Now I've never made a pound cake before this. But in the past week, I've tried two recipes. The first one was New York Times' Citrus Almond Pound Cake. I don't quite know what happened but the batter was too thin when it went into the oven. It seemed wrong when I put it in, and an hour of cooking didn't make it any better.

The second one, that you see up there, is from smitten kitchen. It was soft, buttery and once I added the glaze that should have originally gone on the NY Times cake, parts of it were totally delicious. But only some parts. I baked it in a loaf tin, and while some parts of the cake …

Dormitory Days

My first home away from home. The company issue flat I shared my first years in Chandigarh with other singles not yet ready to set up a complete home. People transferred away from families. Transient couples who stayed a few days, or months.

It was the interlude between leaving home and starting a real life. My actual "growing up" years. My first brush with compassion, and conceit.

It was also the first time I realized that not everyone, everywhere eats paranthas for breakfast.

Tons of cultural nuances I picked up from other roomies stay with me even now. So do some recipes, new for me then, cherished ever since. This sambar is one of them. Made without any vegetables, even without curry leaves, this is a sambar of a bachelor kitchen. Of a house where everyone routinely forgot to shop for groceries, and the sad looking onion in the corner was the only concession to the sabziwala who stopped by last week.

First you boil 1/3 cup of arhar dal with 2 cups of water, salt and tur…

The Single Lady Pancake

I stole the title from Joy the Baker. For this title was what made me bookmark this recipe, then go back to look at it last few weeks and finally make a dinner of it tonight. Because even recipes with a single egg yield enough pancakes to feed crowds, Joy's recipe omits the egg and yet comes up with a fluffy pancake.

The best pancake I've ever eaten, in fact. I omitted bananas and chocolate chips in favor of the only fruit heaven made for pancakes - fresh blueberries. Then I topped my pancake with vanilla pastry cream and blackcurrant coulis. And now I am headed to a dream world. You head to Joy's for the recipe, and make this for breakfast tomorrow!

Green Vegetable Hakka

You know I love Indo-Chinese. But I have several complaints against the generic hakka noodles sold at all these places. I don't like cabbage, I can't stand capsicum and I wish they wouldn't put any carrots in my noodles. And while we are it, couldn't they cut the noodles a little shorter so I'm not twirling them on my fork forever.

I guess no one else's gonna make their noodles to suit my preference, so I ended up making my own. And for the first time, thanks to ecurry, I got noodles that are a pretty close approximation of the neighborhood Chinese joint. I, of course, skipped the vegetables in the original recipe and went for spinach, broccoli and asparagus. For everything else, look at the original version.

The Bombay Grill

Bombay's street foods come in more shapes than one. In a hurry, buy a vada pao on your way out of the station. On the beach, stick to the pao bhaji or the icy gola. But when you need comfort food, something hot and buttery and filling, its the grilled sandwich.

Since all it takes is some bread and vegetables and a hand held grill, you will see grilled sandwich stalls at every corner. But I take you to the best there is : the sandwich wallah in Santacruz. This is college street, next to Mithibai and NM Colleges, the place where countless students come for succor.

Can't make it here and want to create your own Bombay Grill? Here's the lowdown on everyone's favorite sandwich. First, you need Wibs White Sandwich Bread. It can't be any other brand, they never ever use anything else. Unless you count that Britannia loaf, a concession to those health freaks looking for brown bread. But you want healthy, you should look elsewhere - this bread just got doused with a libera…

Indigo Challenge : Gnocchi in Leek Cream

What's the deal : I am cooking my way through the dinner menu of Indigo restaurant. These are not Indigo recipes; I haven't eaten or even seen any of these dishes. This is my interpretation based only on the name of the dish.

Indigo menu says: Chive Gnocchi Leek Saffron Cream


Gnocchi, a name that terrifies most Italian cooks. Easy recipe that's extremely hard to get right, gnocchi has been the undoing of several good Italian restaurants for me. Traditionally made with potatoes, gnocchi should be light and flavorful. You wish! The ones I've had so far have been heavy and not worth it. But then, a few months back, the daring cooks did a ricotta gnocchi. Even first time gnocchi makers were all praises, so that's the one I decided to do.

If life was so easy...I've been unable to buy chives anywhere this past month. So, instead of going on looking, I decided to replace it with sage. Oh! and there's no saffron. Nor is there likely to be any saffron in any other di…

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

A couple of years back, my friend sent me a mail. "This woman dumped the guy a day before their wedding because he wanted to get rid of her books. You HAVE to read this!". That evening, I went to my neighborhood bookstore and made my first acquaintance with the residents of Guernsey Islands. And not just any residents, these were the people who had just been through several years of German occupation and were now just getting used to living their lives again. It's 1946, and one of these people gets writing to our heroine, author of several books and living in London.

From then on, the lives of Juliet and the people of Guernsey intertwine. What the book manages to do, in a series of letters (for that's how it's written from start to end), is bring the war closer to our lives. It talks of soldiers and the people of the captured island not as enemies, but as humans who each have been given a role to play.

I don't say this often, but as I read this book the thir…

The One Ingredient Icecream

Do you routinely buy bananas and then leave them to brown on the counter. Then, not knowing what to do, someone like me would throw them away. But one day I was reading a food blog and it insisted I could convert these bananas into icecream. I know, I didn't believe it either.

But I had them up for slaughter anyway and it didn't seem like any effort. So I peeled a couple of bananas and sliced them thinly. Off these went to the freezer for a few hours. Once frozen, I put them in the blender and they went from being frozen bananas to a soft creamy icecream. The transformation is so unbelievable you have to do it yourself or you will think it will never happen.

No dairy, no added sugar - if you are in the game for guilt free icecreams, this is for you!

Mocha Mojo

At one time, I was a big fan of Mocha in Juhu. Then, a couple of years back, I stopped going there. There were a multitude of reasons I don't quite remember so let's say I had a couple of bad experiences and moved to some of other options in the area. But Mocha's back in my life. In a big way. This time, I've discovered another location they built while I was frequenting multitude of coffee shops : the Mocha Mojo on Bandra's Hill Road.

Mocha Mojo preserves all the niceties that are the hallmark of the chain - the mismatched furniture, eclectic music, huge selection of coffees and nibbles. Only Mojo takes it to another level altogether. The furniture's as unique as all their other outlets; every table different from the next. But here they make kitsch an art form with red velvet covered walls, bar with geometric patterns and those swing chairs outdoors I have my eye on for the next visit.
They have all the drinks that made Mocha popular. Remember those Lindt s…

A Dessert for Taste & Create's Birthday

Taste and Create remains my favorite event in the whole blogging world. Every month, Nicole pairs you with another blog. You get to know your partner, then pick a recipe from their blog and recreate it. And this has been going on for three whole years. To celebrate the event's birthday, Nicole added a rider. She asked us to create a dessert from our partner's blog.

I've got to know some lovely bloggers through this event, none of which I would have discovered on my own. Like my partner this month - Glenda over at Busy at Home. This grandmother of three blogs about a lot more interesting things than just recipes. And her recipes are all a delight. At first glance, I shortlisted her chocolate cobbler and cheesecake stuffed strawberries.

But then I found another gem that you see up there : Oreo Balls. First you crush some oreos. You can do this in a food processor, but I found it equally easy (and more delightful) to bash them up with a rolling pin between two sheets of paper…

Blueberry Season

The first time blueberries made an appearance on Mumbai store shelves last October, I was fresh back from a trip to London. Having spent a week eating these berries for all breakfasts and most dinners, I kept away from the very small yet overpriced packs. Almost a year later, blueberries are back in Hypercity.

One of the very few naturally blue foods, blueberries are a little tart, a little sweet. I enjoy my dalliance with strawberries and an occasional date with raspberries, but these little nuggets remain my biggest love, my all-time favorite fruit. The first week, I cringed at the high prices in Hypercity. But it's been a whole year of no blueberries so this second week, I finally succumbed and brought a pack home. And let me confess I've been back to the store a few more times.

Do you think I'd be my baker self and post a blueberry tart or at least a muffin. No way folks; I don't mess with perfection. Instead, I'd just go grab another handful.

And will you all…

Wine Country

When I think of vineyard tours, I think of Peter Mayle. I also think of idle rambles through acres upon acres of land planted with grapes and olives, a seat by the countryside fireplace with a wineglass in hand. In that sense, last weekend's trip to Sula Vineyards in Nasik, some 5 hours drive from Mumbai, was a disappointment.

But for the camaraderie, the company of friends, the green ghats and impromptu waterfalls that spring up all over Maharashtra in monsoons, and also for a novel, enjoyable experience, it was worth a visit. It is, as I said, a good 5 hours drive. We were sensible enough to leave early in morning, reaching Sula around noon. The place to start with is a wine tour - a short spiel on how many acres they have spread all over (but very few where we were standing) and then a succint tour of the plant where they process the grapes and ferment the wine. This followed by a wine tasting - of six recent vintage, barely passable wines - took around an hour.

But Sula under…

Visiting a friend today

This is a guest post for Nachiketa of The Variable, Crazy Over Desserts - Nachiketa. You can also Catch her on facebook @ Crazy Over Desserts Join her page and leave a comment to become eligible for her special Giveaway prize.


No new post at Bombay Foodie, but I'm visiting Nachiketa's blog today to join the run-up to her 200th post. Hop over to crazy over desserts to know how I met this cute blogger from Delhi. And there's a recipe too, of course! I baked something that reminds me of her - Lime and Poppy Seed Muffins.

Indigo Challenge : Herbed Cheese and Grilled Apple Salad

What's the deal : I am cooking my way through the dinner menu of Indigo restaurant. These are not Indigo recipes; I haven't eaten or even seen any of these dishes. This is my interpretation based only on the name of the dish.

Indigo menu says:
Herbed Goat Cheese, Spinach, Grilled Green Apples Creamy Walnut Vinaigrette



Herbed Goat Cheese : It's not goat cheese, it's my homemade Neufchatel. I scooped out little balls of cheese with a melon baller. Finely minced fresh thyme and rosemary, added a pinch of salt and a bit of olive oil, then rolled the cheese balls in the herb mixture.

Spinach : Not happening. You don't get baby spinach here, and there's no way I was putting cooked full-sized spinach in my salad. So you get oak leaf lettuce instead.

Grilled Green Apples : Granny Smith apple, sliced then put on a grill until browned. As simple as that

Creamy Walnut Vinaigrette : This is the lightly creamy version from smitten kitchen. Only I didn’t have walnut oil so it’s…

Tales of A Female Nomad

This month, our book club goes on a nomadic tour. We traveled with Rita Golden Gelman, a writer who sold everything she owned after the shock of a divorce and became a nomad. Not a tourist, because Rita stays away from everything that a tourist does and instead, tries to live the lives of people she visits.

From Mexico to Israel to Galapago Islands, Rita goes the way least traveled, always preferring to stay as a boarder with natives. And sometimes, going to places not even locals will go, places so secluded yet beautiful that Rita's description takes your breath away, urges you to become a nomad yourself.

Yet even nomads sometimes find their roots. Rita found hers in Bali where she spent eight years. Starting as a boarder with a prince, she eventually became a part of the family. I instantly knew I wanted to cook something Indonesian. I picked Nasi Goreng, the Indonesian fried rice.



There are as many recipes for Nasi Goreng as there are cooks. Some use tomatoes, others tamarind.…

Bombay's Wengers

I don't know why I put off a visit to Candies for so long. Six years in the city, so many people recommending the place and yet I never made a trip to eat at Bandra's legendary bakery/cafe. Then Kalyan gave me a little nudge and just by coincidence, that weekend I found myself in the neighborhood of Lilavati Hospital. That first trip to Candies was accidental. The two subsequent trips absolutely intentional.

For in Candies I have found the answer to Wengers, my favorite Delhi bakery. Let's recap Wengers for you - an ancient bakery with several separate counters all selling goodies you'd give an arm and a leg for. Lovely bits of deliciousness in cakes and puddings and pies. Candies is all of this and a lot of extras. When you first walk into the cafe near Lilavati (there are three Candies, but this is the only one I've been to), you spot outdoor tables and an outdoor counter. A counter set with salads, sandwiches, tea cakes, petit fours and brownies. And puffs - gl…

Tomato and Basil Sauce

I'm keeping this short and sweet, for what's there to write about yet another tomato sauce. Except I just had to make sure you know about this one - first spotted on Shaheen's blog - and a strong contender to replace my favorite pizza and pasta sauce.

It's easy too. You plonk 5-6 tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for a minute, then put them in an ice bath. This should make the tomato skins easy to peel off and you can then cube them, minus the seeds. Also chop a small onion and peel & mince a couple of garlic cloves. Heat a tbsp of olive oil, add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the minced garlic, wait a few seconds then add the tomatoes and salt. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, mashing it a little as you go but leave your sauce chunky.

Chop a handful of basil leaves and add to the sauce towards the end. I've so far used this to make lasagne, and I'm going to blend what remains to give me a smoother sauce for pizza tonight.

Indigo Challenge : A flower, a fruit, a cheese

Indigo menu says:
Grilled Artichokes, Kafir Lime Tomatoes, Buffalo Mozzarella Coriander Pesto




When I first read the dish's name, I saw these three distinct components. And try as I could, they didn't work for me as one salad. Each one brilliant on its own, yet flavors too sharp and strong to mingle. A delightful plate of mezze though!

To your left : petals off an artichoke heart. The artichokes came straight off a bottle. It was Jamie Oliver's artichokes in oil - I think I missed the "in oil" part when I bought it but it went against my ideas of the artichokes' flavor. So I washed the hearts in several changes of water, then left them to sizzle on a hot grill for a few seconds.

In the middle : a tomato chopped into cubes, then marinated with a couple of finely sliced kafir lime leaves, a tsp of lemon juice, another tsp of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.

And finally, to your right : fresh buffalo mozarella (yes, you can buy it here!) cubed and mixed with cor…

Which Cinnamon Roll?

I have a guilty secret. Every saturday evening, I trek down to Bandra to buy Cinnamon Rolls at Theobroma. Soft, bready, filled with sugar and cinnamon and raisins, they are my gold standard of cinnamon rolls. But the problem is that Bandra is an hour's drive away and most of the time, Theobroma has sold all it's cinnamon rolls by the time I get there.

Then Cinnabon opened and I thought : great! these guys will never run out of cinnamon rolls. Except I tried it once and thought it was horrible - the center was cakey, and the frosting too thick and too sweet.

Finally, I decided to make my own cinnamon rolls. I turned to pioneer woman, and found rolls so easy to make and so good I never need to go to Theobroma again. Pioneer Woman's recipe makes a lot of rolls, so I divided it by a 6th. I stuck pretty close to whatever she suggests apart from this one change.

My frosting isn't as interesting though - its just a mix of sugar, vanilla and milk - I eyeballed the quantities to …

Now this is cheating...

I've just barely managed to find ingredients for the next dish on the Indigo menu. And guess what, they have revamped their website and it now boasts an entirely different menu. With no mention of the artichoke and cherry tomato salad I was halfway in the process of making.

Indigo does change it's menu frequently so I knew this was coming sometime. And I like the new menu better - it's even got a listing of their desserts. So the challenge is back on.
This one has 27 vegetarian dishes and the speed at which I am going, collecting all those exotic ingredients Indigo dishes seem to require, it might be at least six months before we make them all. And who knows when Indigo changes the menu again.
So I am laying down new rules. No matter what menu Rahul and Malini Akerkar come up with next, this is the menu you are getting on Bombay Foodie. And since we did the old soups already, the soups on this one will have to wait....let's say a long, long time. First course coming u…

300 Posts and Counting

Wow! Is it really the 300th post on Bombay Foodie. Already!

As is traditional on every 100 post interval, I present a new wishlist. First a report card : 31 things to do on my previous wishlist; 9 done. Which means that 22 make an appearance again and this one's got 9 brand new things to bring the total back to 31. So here goes, and I promise I will aim for a higher score next time round:

1. Eat at Alinea.

2. Delve into the alchemy of food. Create something, anything that qualifies as molecular gastronomy.

3. Make fresh pasta.

4. Taste blood oranges.

5. Cook with rhubarb.

6. Make mango pickle like mom.

7. Eat a Meyer lemon.

8. Make S'Mores.

9. Buy blue cornmeal.

10. Try Ethiopian cuisine.

11. Taste Gucchhi (morels).

12. Cook with Rice Paper.

13. Make Vienese Fingers.

14. Make souffle.

15. Taste Absinthe.

16. Make Blinis.

17. Make dolmas.

18. Taste fried halloumi.

19. Make a flambe dish.

20. Make fondue (cheese or chocolate?).

21. Taste fiddleheads.

22. Make khandvi.

23. Make …

The Life of a Critic

This month, our book club reads Garlic and Sapphires. The story of Ruth Reichl, back when she was the food critic for New York Times, is funny yet poignant and touching. With the power to make or break a restaurant, the likes of Ruth, Frank Bruni and of course the currently reigning Sam Sifton have to deploy every method to remain anonymous when they go visit a target.
Ruth Reichl turned to elaborate makeup and disguises to make sure she got her readers an objective review. But her ability to get into the character also changed her, affecting her view of the world. The book offers a glimpse into the life of a food critic (and isn't that every foodie's dream) but it also takes you a little closer to understanding the very charming Ruth.

Another great thing about the book; there's a recipe after every chapter, something to go with every new avatar Ruth takes on. From the array of recipes, I picked Risotto Primavera, an adaptation of lobster risotto from Le Cirque.




It's bas…

A seedy affair

A bit of flour
A handful of rye
Water, sugar, the magic of yeast
Mixed seeds to top it all

There's sunflowers in there
Some sesame, some hemp
A sprinkling of linseed
A sunny, crunchy bread!

The best coffee cake

Until very recently, I thought a coffee cake meant a coffee flavored cake. Go ahead, laugh all you want - I was quite confused when I saw all those nut and cinnamon cakes with not a drop of coffee in sight. So that's when I realized we were talking about cakes you eat with coffee. Cakes usually topped with a delicious buttery crumble mixture. This first coffee cake I baked also happens to be my best cake so far. I can't personally vouch for this being the best coffee cake in the world, but who am I to argue when the Pioneer Woman says so.

It's also pretty simple to put together. I halved the original recipe to fit my 7 inch round pan but remember that it calls for 3 eggs so it might be a bit tough to halve (I spilled half an egg white when separating eggs so you can say it was purely accidental in my case).

For the cake layer, you soften 75 grams salted butter and cream it with 2/3 cup sugar. Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour and 2 tsp baking powder. Measure out 1/2 cup milk.…

Indigo Challenge : Mushroom Coconut Lemongrass Soup

Indigo menu says:
Roasted Mushroom Soup with Coconut, Lemongrass & Almonds Thai Chili Oil


There is a reason there wasn't a post here last six days. I was determined to cook the next recipe for my Indigo challenge (if you missed the script so far, I am cooking my way through dinner menu of the Indigo restaurant). But not only was this next dish a soup, it also involved Thai ingredients like coconut, lemongrass and chilli oil that I am not particularly fond of. A bowl of soup later, I am regretting I waited so long to make this. But also happy because it's raining tonight and I got a little wet coming home - just the perfect state to be in for eating some piping hot soup.
It took me my first google search to realize that Indigo couldn't possibly be putting shredded coconut in a soup and it's coconut milk we will be looking for. Plenty of recipes out there combining this coconut milk with mushrooms and lemongrass. Nothing in the way of thai chili oil, but I always knew i…