Saturday, October 12, 2013

Kale Chips

Kale Chips by Bombay Foodie

I know, I know, you are sitting there wondering why we are talking about this again. Haven't at least half the food bloggers already written posts about how kale chips are the new and improved substitute for potato chips.

Well, I just wanted to set the record straight. Nothing is a good substitute for a fried potato. But if you take that off your head and get in the mood for a crisp, savoury snack that takes 10 minutes to bake and is really good for you, go ahead and make kale chips.

Kale's now easier to get in Mumbai, thanks to Trikaya (did I tell you I owe them a LOT for all the fancy vegetables they grow for us foodies in Mumbai!!!!). And these chips are easy enough to put together whenever you get a snack craving. Just make sure that as soon as you buy your kale, you wash it and dry it. Then leave it in an airtight box in the fridge until needed.

Heat the oven to 190C. Wipe your kale leaves with a cloth to remove any residual water. Remove stems and roughly tear into small pieces. In a bowl, mix 6 torn kale leaves with 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle salt and crushed black pepper, then mix well to coat the leaves with oil. Line a baking tray with parchment and spread the kale leaves in a single layer. Bake for 12-15 minutes until crisp. Keep a close watch starting at 10 minutes because these chips will get bitter if they burn.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Taste of the Tropics

Tropical Smoothie by Bombay Foodie

I love pina coladas. But since you can't (normally) have those for breakfast, I am recommending this smoothie instead. This also fixes another oft sited problem people quote with that tropical favourite. If you find coconut milk too strong a flavour in your drink, this one uses the subtler notes of fresh coconut water.

To make the tropical smoothie, put 1 cup of chopped pineapple in your blender jar. I also added 2 chickoos, peeled and sliced, but those are optional. Also add in 1/2 cup of coconut water and a handful of mint leaves. Blend until it all comes together in a delicious mix.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Frozen Sour Cream with Berries

Frozen sour cream with berries by Bombay Foodie

This has to be the easiest way to impress your dinner guests. Just after main course, when your dinner party is looking forward to that store bought pudding, drop in (as casually as you can) - "oh! I'd just go and make some icecream". With an emphasis on make.

Both times I tried it, this resulted in a bit of mayhem with guests telling me that I should let it be, it would be too much effort, that they didn't want dessert anyway. Followed by a stunned silence when, 5 minutes later, fresh churned ice cream emerged from the ice cream maker. Then one time, it also became a bit of a crowd puller as fascinated friends stood by the kitchen counter watching my bowl of liquid cream turning into frozen dessert.

The ice cream base itself is so easy to make that it should count as cheating. The recipe comes from David Lebovitz of course. You need about 10 minutes the morning of the dinner party.

First, make sweetened sour cream by mixing 2/3 cup milk, 1/3 cup cup sour cream and 1/4 cup caster sugar in a blender. Add 2 tsp of kirsch or vodka, mix to combine and leave in the fridge until show time.

Separately, whisk together 1/3 cup triple sec with 1/4 cup caster sugar and zest of an orange until the sugar dissolves. Stir in 2-3 cups of mixed berries, turn a few times to coat the berries in liquid and leave to marinate in the fridge. That's it; your prep is done. If you have a cheap ice cream maker like I do, you will probably also need to make sure that the bowl is sitting in the freezer at this time.

All you do at dinner is take both the bowls out. Churn the sour cream in the ice cream maker for 5-10 minutes until its frozen, scoop it out and top with berries.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Hidden Lanes of Matunga

I could not have asked for a better welcome back into the culinary world of Mumbai. My first food outing after moving back to the city happened on saturday; a food trail with Mumbai Boss' resident foodie Roshni Bajaj. For this version of their food walks, Roshni picked Matunga. She mentioned in her teaser that she will bypass the touristy favourites Cafe Madras and Cafe Mysore and lead us to hidden udupis in the bylanes of this South Indian haunt. Just the prompt I needed to sign up.

Our group met outside Ram Ashraya near Matunga Central station but the real trail began at a hidden udupi nearby. Shree Sunders came up with the idea to create novelty dosas to increase their clientele and Roshni ordered us a few. From the selection, my favourite was Chettinad, a version that uses sago in the recipe to create a soft version. That dosa and a few others plus a filter coffee later, we emerged groaning that we simply could not eat any more. That's a bummer for a food trail but Roshni led us instead to her chosen grocery stores.

There was Kannada store where the third generation owner showed us things not even seen in Chennai any longer (so claimed the Madrasi in our group). And there was a store full of everything fried, another selling pickles and dried vegetables. By then, our appetite had resurfaced so we headed to a crowded roadside stall called Ayappan doing brisk trade in idlis and dosas. We have some brilliantly presented dosas - one with multiple chutneys and noodles, another with mini idlis within. Next stop was Ram Ashraya for their famed sheeras. The flavours change daily and we were lucky enough to get the short lived season of potent jackfruit sheera.

I loved that it was a small group so we got to know each other well by the time we hit our final stop - Gupta chaat made famous by their strange toast sev puri (yes, a sev puri sandwiched between bread and toasted). Even more exciting for me was the meeting with an actual reader of my blog. She recognised me based on some pictures she had seen on twitter and even remembered my posts, which is kinda surreal because I never know if anyone reads what I am posting out there. If you are reading this, know that you completely made my day!

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Dessert to Remember

With cake shops, cafes and tea rooms at every corner, you will expect fabulous desserts easy to come by in London. Not really so. Dry cakes, soggy pies and mediocre cookies, I had to battle the whole lot before I found my favourites. Just so you don't have to kiss all these frogs on your next London trip, here are my top 5 picks from all the sweet goodies I sampled:

1. Honey Cake at L'Eto: As you walk down Soho's Wardour Street, a display of desserts will stop you in your tracks. The window belongs to L'Eto and I dare you to pass by without going in and eating something sweet. On my first visit to the cafe, I complained to the server that all cakes in London are dry. She cut me a slice of honey cake right there and promised this will be the fresh, moist cake I was looking for. Several thin layers of honey cake intercepted with light and not too sweet sour cream frosting, this cake is simple but sublime.

2. Honeycomb Icecream at Wild Honey: A friend and I walked by this Michelin star restaurant after lunch. We were still craving dessert so we asked if the crowded place could fit us in. The response was "I'd never say no to anyone looking for dessert". And some dessert it was. We both ordered individual plated desserts that took a while to arrive. So in the meantime, they brought us their honeycomb icecream on the house. Crunchy honeycomb shards at the bottom of the bowl and a couple of scoops of honey ice cream - this is an experience you don't want to miss.

3. Chocolate Gelato at Gelupo: Despite the cold weather, Londoners are big fans of icecreams, gelatos and frozen yogurts. The bestest of them all is Gelupo. It first started as a cart outside the Italian restaurant, Bocca di Lupo. Over time, Gelupo got into a cafe of its own, right opposite the sister restaurant. It now sells coffee and desserts and what not but the biggest draw is still the Italian style gelato. Blood Orange sorbet made them famous but my personal favourite is dark chocolate. It's so chocolatey it feels like eating a very soft, very cold and very good chocolate.

4. Sticky Toffee Pudding at The Salt House: This date and toffee confection is a standard at all pubs in London. After sampling more than my fair share, the one I recommend is the version with crunchy nougat at The Salt House in St. John's Woods. As as added bonus, it comes paired with a sublime brown sugar ice cream.

5. Chocolate Glory and Eton Mess at Bob Bob Ricard: This Russian restaurant has tons of old world charm and plenty of eccentric touches. Once you are past that and done with the excellent food, there come the desserts. Chocolate glory shows up as a golden ball on your plate. Once the server pours hot fudge sauce on the globe, the chocolate shell melts away and you are left with a plate of chocolate mousse, brownie bits and passion fruit jelly. And there is nothing messy whatsoever about the Eton Mess. It is all packed in a tidy meringue globe that will impress you with how restrained it is in its sweetness. You have to break this crunchy shell to get to berries, marshmallows and sorbet hidden within. Both desserts are quite small but will leave you impressed.

And as a bonus, let me also tell you about the best scone in London. Sold everywhere around tea time, the scone is a British institution. And it's only fitting that the best scone can be found next to timeless art at the cafe inside the iconic National Gallery at Traflagar Square. The fruit scones are warm and studded with raisins, perfect with clotted cream and a great strawberry jam. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Londoner at Heart


I can't tell you the exact moment I knew I had become a Londoner. I know it wasn't when I guided the umpteenth tourist to Madam Tussauds or Beatles's Abbey Road studios. Or even when I took yet another friend on a tour of Soho restaurants or my beloved Borough Market. For you are only a Londoner when you accept all of the city's quirks and even find them charming. Like how I now find it completely normal to dedicate at least half of every conversation to weather. And I no longer find it strange that all stores close in the middle of the day on sunday, on what should be the busiest shopping day of the week. I've even stopped being amazed when pubs close their kitchens at 10 pm, and never mind the roomful of hungry customers.

If you are wondering about the reason for this rant, it's because I've recently left London to start on the next journey of my life. And I realised how little I've shared about hundreds of food experiences in London on these pages. So before memories fade, here is the first in the series of my London posts - the top 5 restaurants dishes I ate in London last year. Top 5 savoury dishes actually, since desserts would get their own separate post.

1. Pea and Truffle Croquettes at Copita: In a small side lane in Soho, Copita is a crowded tapas bar. It has a small menu that changes frequently. On my first, second and third visits, the main draw was a pea croquette, loaded with truffles and deep fried. This one's now off the menu but go to Copita anyway for their Andulucian white soup, a cold almond soup filled with beetroot, nuts and a cacaphony of flavours. Timeout voted it the best dish in London when they listed their top 100 dishes so you can't go wrong with this one. Get there early for they don't take reservations.

2. Endive Salad at Galvin Bistro: I didn't see any merit in endive until I encountered it at French brasseries in London. And the most classic French of them, Galvin, does this salad version that first got me hooked. It's endive leaves topped with blue cheese, crunchy walnuts and pear, then topped off with a vinaigrette so you get a full flavour profile in each bite.

3. Gorgonzola Pizza at Pizza East Kentish Town: What I like about the Pizza East menu is that they aren't hung up on mozzarella. Now I agree mozzarella is traditional in Italian pizzas and everything but there are hundreds of cheeses out there and the folks in Kentish Town (or the other pizza east branches for that matter) aren't afraid to experiment. They don't have the same menu at every branch so you will need to trek to Kentish Town to find a spectacular blue cheese and caramalized onion pizza. Also try the wild mushroom and fontina one while you are there. It makes quite a changes from your usual margaritas.

4. Bhel Puri at Dishoom: Indian food is everywhere in London but you won't believe how bad most of it is! There are only two places that break the stereotypes of onion bhaji and chicken tikka masala and serve Indian food the way it's served back home. Both Roti Chai and Dishoom are set cafe style with an emphasis on street food. And while I've been at Roti Chai far more times, Dishoom's bhel puri wins by a narrow margin as that little bowl of comfort food when you are missing home.

5. Truffle Toast at Spuntino: First things first - never go to Spuntino for dinner. Another no reservations place and this one gets long queues that you really don't need when you are hungry. Go instead, for lunch or an evening drink, when the crowds are still far away. As soon as you grab a stool at Spuntino, they plonk an enamel mug of popcorn in front of you. That alone makes the restaurant a winner in my book. And then they have truffle toast. A cheese toast with an egg yolk in the middle and the whole thing brimming with truffle oil. Then save space for dessert.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Spring Risotto


Spring has given London a miss this year. Never mind that we are already well into April, it was still snowing yesterday and you can go nowhere without heavy coats and full winter gear. Thankfully, the no spring memo didn't reach the farms and the spring vegetables have been out in time. Last week's trip to farmer's market yielded asparagus and purple sprouting broccoli, both of which go into this risotto.

If you've dealt with mushy vegetables in your risottos in the past, this recipe also tell you how to get that creamy rice without overcooking the greens. And as a  bonus, there is no butter or cream anywhere so pay attention.

For half a cup of rice (which I found is enough for two servings at least), cut 4-5 stalks of asparagus in 1-inch pieces. Cut broccoli into small florets and also, if you are using the sprouting version, add leaves to the mix. Now put 1 1/2 cups of stock to heat in a saucepan. If you don't have stock, plain water will do. No really, this recipe is fine with plain water. Once the water/stock comes to a boil, drop the asparagus in. Let in cook for 3-4 minutes until it's a bit softer but still crunchy. Take the stock off heat, sieve out the asparagus and put the stock back on a simmer.

In another pan, heat a tsp of olive oil. Add broccoli and stir fry on a high heat for 2-3 minutes. Remove the broccoli and add another tsp of olive oil to the pan. Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and stir fry until it starts to brown. Now add the rice and stir it around until most grains are coated in oil. Add 1/3 cup of white wine. Once the white wine is almost absorbed in the rice, start adding the stock, 1/3 cup at a time. A good rule of thumb is to add more stock when grains of rice start popping on the surface. Keep checking after 8-10 minutes, you want the rice to be cooked through but still retain a bit. When you add the last round of stock, check for salt and add some if you need it. You will certainly need it if you used water but most stocks are quite salty anyway.

When the rice is done, stir in asparagus and broccoli. Serve with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and fresh ground black pepper.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Colour Me Pink


Friends often ask me why I take the trouble to go all the way to Borough Market every weekend. It's crowded, it's touristy and London has so many other farmers markets that are much quieter and easier to shop in. But Borough is nicer because it's touristy -which means that competitive farmers and traders show up not just with fresh rhubarb and raspberries but also with unique treasures like these pink mushrooms I got last week. I got two other things from the mushroom forager - a bulb of smoked garlic and advice on how to cook these mushrooms.

Although they are pink, these are just a variant of your standard oyster mushrooms. So I just tore them roughly with my hands. The mushrooms were quite delicate and didn't even need a knife. Next, I finely chopped two cloves of smoked garlic. Heated a tbsp of olive oil and added the garlic. Once it started to brown, I added the mushrooms and cooked for 4-5 minutes until they looked done. I added a dollop of cream to the pan and some roughly chopped marjoram leaves to finish. Mixed in with some fresh tagliatelle, from my favourite Italian store in the market for a gorgeous lunch.

Monday, March 25, 2013

How to eat mincemeat in March

But then, you may wonder why someone would want to eat mincemeat in the first place. To begin with, there is the whole confusion with the name. For years, I kept away from mince pies as I assumed they had meat. It was only around last christmas that I figured that this was a misnomer and the mincemeat referred to a concoction of dried fruit, sugar and booze. At around the same time, I learnt that mince pies get a bad rap for being too sweet and too stodgy and generally not good.

But then, I tried them and fell in love with mince. I think my lack of experience with mince pies of yesteryears helped. This year, London supermarkets were stocked with Heston Bluementhal's dreamy puff pastry pies that came with sachets of pine needle sugar. Even my school did some great take with filo pies and there wasn't a stodgy shortcrust one in sight.

Of course, the jars of mincemeat went on sale at the same time and I brought one home. But then I didn't get around to baking with mince in December and it sort of went to the back of the shelf. After all, you can't possibly eat mince pies in the new year. Instead, you call them fruit cookies.



The recipe comes from Jamie Oliver, naturally given the British obsession with mince and thus his long experience with leftovers from christmas. First off, leave 250 grams butter out of the fridge to soften. A few hours later, set the oven to preheat at 180C and beat the butter with 140 grams sugar until light and creamy. Add an egg yolk and beat to combine. Add 300 grams plain flour and mix to form a dough. Now add a jar of mincemeat (which for some strange reason, is always 411 grams) and mix well. The dough will be fairly wet and I found it best to mix with my hands.

Pinch out balls of dough and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment, pressing down a little to flatten. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden. Wait until cookies start to cool and harden, then transfer to a cooling rack. The cookies are very delicious but also soft and moist so its best to eat them the day they are baked. Not that that's going to be a problem!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Brownie Cake

Brownie cake by Bombay Foodie

One upside of having a large bunch of classmates is that it solves the perennial problem I've had with trying out new recipes - finding enough people to eat what I bake. What was even more fun was baking birthday cakes and surprise birthday parties.

This cake is from one of the first surprise birthday parties I planned. While there were a few others after this one, this cake was my favourite among all the cakes I baked so I thought I'd tell you where to look if you are planning to bake a decadent chocolate cake.

The recipe's from Dorie Greenspan. In her book, it's a rather elaborate cake topped with caramel and peanuts. What I did was bake the cake, then pour a layer of ganache to cover. And while you don't see it here, the cake then had a happy birthday written on it with a tube of "white chocolate writing icing". Of all the things I discovered on the London supermarket aisles, this little tube of icing is my favourite. Takes the hassle away from piping bags et al, tastes like real white chocolate and even works for people like me who can't ever write with a piping bag. You should get one too, and plan some surprise birthday parties. They are such fun!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Tahini cookies

Tahini cookies by Bombay Foodie

One of the first things I did when I got to London last year was seek out ingredients hard to find in India. Like tahini, the sesame seed paste used to make hummus. What I didn't realise though was that good hummus was equally easy to buy, practically at every supermarket and there was no need to fuss with making your own. Which is why the jar of tahini has been lurking in the cupboard ever since.

I decided to look up other uses for tahini, apart from hummus, and found it to be a good addition to cookies. Other bloggers advocated using tahini just like peanut butter and so these cookies came into being, adapted from multiple peanut butter and oatmeal cookie recipes.

First off, mix a cup of oats, 1/2 cup plain flour, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp baking soda. In another bowl, mix 60 grams softened butter with 1/4 cup tahini. Add 2/3 cup castor sugar, a tsp of vanilla extract and an egg. Mix with a whisk until everything is blended. Pour the flour mix from the first bowl into this one and stir to combine.

At this stage, I added about 1 1/2 cups of walnuts and raisins but feel free to add other dried berries or chocolate chips.

Drop the batter by the tablespoon on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake in an oven preheated to 170C for about 10-12 minutes until the cookies look set but are still a bit soft. Wait for a few minutes, then use a spatula to transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Gozleme

Yesterday, I decided to make a trip out to Stoke Newington in North London, quite far away from my Central London home but known to have one of the best South Indian restaurants in the city. Coming from my part of town with Starbucks and Pret A Manger at every corner, the quaint and charming Stoke Newington blew me away. Tiny stores selling toys and mugs and pottery and not a single chain store in sight. I didn't know places like this still existed. The restaurant alas, was a lot less impressive and when I left, the bland food was still half uneaten, I still a little hungry.

Then I remembered a sign I'd seen from the bus on the way. Right opposite Newington Green, a tiny hole in the wall promising gozleme. I first heard of gozleme on Masterchef Australia last year when a Turkish contestant made them. I've been intrigued by this filled flat bread ever since but this was the first time I've seen it being advertised in an actual store.

So I got off the bus at the right stop and entered this little patisserie called Basak. They had shelves of cakes and desserts on display and right at the shop entrance, a woman sat rolling dough into pastry so thin and into a circle so big it was fascinating. She then put some fresh spinach and some feta cheese on one half of the pastry and folded the other half over to make a semi-circle. On to the hot pan, where the gozleme cooked until golden on both sides, getting brushed with either oil or butter on the way.

Basak Patisserie is a takeaway but that shouldn't bother you because you can take your gozleme and sit in the park right opposite. I found myself a bench and bit into the very hot pastry. It then gave way to fresh spinach and then I discovered there were other flavours too. I spotted onions first and then some chilli. The whole package was like a stuffed parantha but so much different with a plain flour pastry rolled real thin and cooked out so crisp.

It was nothing fancy but out in a cold day, on the park bench, the gozleme somehow became the most sublime food experience I've had in a long time.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

My Newest Toy

Ice cream by Bombay Foodie

I've done it again. After telling myself that I have way too many gadgets and no space to put them in, I've gone ahead and bought the one gizmo I've been eyeing for years - an ice cream maker.

It isn't anything fancy. In fact, it was the most basic and the cheapest model around. In this version, you get a tub that you put in the freezer for about a day. This frozen tub does the actual freezing and the rest of the ice cream maker is just to churn the ice cream to make it nice and soft.

I still haven't mastered the art of making custard without scrambling eggs so the new gizmo was christened with David Lebovitz' strawberry yogurt. Once blended, it took around 15 minutes to churn into delicious frozen goodness.

The tub's now gone back into the freezer and I am now on the lookout for my next ice cream flavour to be churned tomorrow. With small batches I can eat in a day, it's practically like having your own ice cream parlour. Now how cool is that!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tagliatelle in tomato sauce

Tagliatelle in tomato sauce by Bombay Foodie

Weekday dinner at its simplest.

The pasta is fresh tagliatelle bought from the farmers market this weekend.

The sauce is a take on my perfect pizza sauce.

The two are mixed together and topped with rocket, a salad leaf that makes everything better in my view. Sprinkle some parmesan and mondays couldn't feel better.

I'm going to write down the sauce recipe for you because it was made from canned tomatoes this time round. It took a while to cook but most of this time was the sauce simmering away on its own.

First off, finely mince 2-3 cloves of garlic and thinly slice an onion. Grab 7-8 olives and give them a rough chop. If your olives aren't pitted, bashing them with a rolling pin will do the job nicely.

Heat a tbsp of olive oil in a pan. Saute garlic on a medium heat until it starts to brown. Add onions, lower the heat and let cook slowly until the onions start to caremalise. Now add the olives, a hearty pinch of salt and if you like, some chilli flakes. Add a can of peeled and chopped plum tomatoes, then fill the can again with water and add it to the mix. Also add juice of half a lime. Give everything a stir, bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. You can now go watch the TV or catch up on your reading while the sauce simmers away for an hour or so. Give it an occasional stir if you like but it's really not necessary. Once the sauce thickens to a consistency you like, cook the pasta and add to the sauce pan. Mix well to combine and that's really it.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

To Blog or Not to Blog

Borough Market Loot by Bombay Foodie

So you know I went back to school last year. At first, I tried to keep up with the blogging. But as life got busier with classes and assignments, I found it hard to keep up with the social aspects of blogging I so enjoyed - visting other blogs, chatting with other foodies both online and in real life. Eventually, I found it impossible to even update the blog regularly and rather than keep up a half hearted effort, I stopped blogging completely a few months back.

Now that poses a few problems. Like, on days like today, when I come back from my favourite farmers market in London. And I want to share the excitement, the marvels that Borough Market offers - fresh pasta, sourdough bread with a lovely goat cheese, gorgeous rhubarb and wild blue mushrooms I've never seen before. And a tart au citron baked by two French home bakers just this morning.

Then there's another, bigger problem I've had with not blogging. For the past five odd years, this blog has been a place for me to store recipes.And then a few months back, I baked this caramel apple cake, inspired from a recipe I saw on some website. But I didn't blog about it and now I can't find the recipe - and they were such good cakes too!

Not wanting to lose any more good recipes, I am back to blogging. I may not be here every day or every week, but I will make sure to come back and tell you about exciting foods and recipes that come my way. Stay tuned!