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Kale Chips

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 smal…

A Taste of the Tropics

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.

Frozen Sour Cream with Berries

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 …

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…

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 …

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. …

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 re…

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 …

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 D…

Brownie Cake

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…

Tahini cookies

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 o…

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 s…

My Newest Toy

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!

Tagliatelle in tomato sauce

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 pe…

To Blog or Not to Blog

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…