Thursday, February 27, 2014

Bircher for One

Joy the Baker raised a crucial point about breakfast a few years ago. Most breakfast recipes out there can't be scaled to feed just one. Even if you add just one egg, you will end up with way too much batter for crepes or pancakes. Joy solved the problem with pancakes, and possibly waffles with her iconic post titled The Single Lady Pancake.

I've now encountered a similar problem with birchermuesli. A Swiss breakfast staple, bircher is a delicious combination of uncooked oats left to soak overnight, apples, nuts and dried fruits. The issue here is the apple. Even the smallest apple will be too much for one serving and you can't leave these apples lying around, they brown too quickly.

So here's my solution. The night before, measure out 3 tbsp oats in a large bowl. Add enough apple juice to cover the oats. This will impart the traditional apple flavour to your bircher without you grating a real apple. The next morning, pick a fruit that goes with oats. It has to be something sweet, not tart and preferably small enough to scale down. Ideal, as you can see, will be grapes. Or berries. Add that to your oats and then anything else that catches your fancy. I like the bite of nuts so I added almonds and then some cranberries to make it an indulgent breakfast. Mix it all in and if you find the muesli to be too thick, you can add a bit more apple juice or even some yogurt.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Magic Library

Every year on my birthday, the most important decision is on where to eat. Last year, it was the excellent spuntino in London's soho for lunch followed by an equally spectacular hix for dinner. So when the day rolled in a couple of weeks back, I wanted to pick another restaurant with a wow factor.

Jiggs Kalra's masala library has been on my wish list ever since it opened a few months back. But turns out it's super popular and you can't call them up a couple of days in advance and expect a reservation. Thankfully, a last minute table did open up and masala library is where I found myself for my birthday dinner.

The 9 course chef's tasting menu starts with an amuse bouche of sev puri shot and a cheddar cheese pao. Loved the bun, while the sev puri was more show than flavour.

The meal then started with a mushroom chai. A bit of mad Heston like touch here - the servers bring in tea cups where they add dried mushrooms (tea) and white truffle oil powder (looks like creamer). The mushroom consommé is then poured over to complete the soup. I didn't much care for the dried mushrooms but the consommé had an intense flavour that made it one of my favourites for the day.

Then come in a succession of starters - all presented well and delicious but hardly memorable. What's truly memorable is the mishti doi sorbet that comes as a palate cleanser before the mains. It shows up in a tiny box as a lollipop that's truly delicious.

I frankly didn't like the mains. The dal is your signature Kalra and quite near perfect but the veggies were a bit meh and the kulchas overwhelmed by their stuffing. The desserts are presented creatively - jalebi shaped like caviar and gajar halwa pyramids surrounded by gajar halwa icecream. Fun, but not something I'd go back for.

What I will go back for are all the sides and all the little touches like the pan candy floss and the churan box. Masala Library may not be perfect but it certainly makes for a delightful evening.