Sunday, August 26, 2012

Food Review : Smooch Frozen Yogurt, Juhu.

Let me start this way : I am not a huge fan of Frozen Yogurt. It has always been Gelato > FroYo for me as a personal preference. I stopped having FroYo after I went to the much hyped YogurtBay and had the Mango Yogurt which tasted like Shrikhand. I feel that it is all about finding the thin line where a FroYo stops being FroYo and starts being an overly sweetened ugly variant of Gelato/Ice Cream.

I had been driving past Smooch since a couple of months and the name always caught my attention (admit it, we all have a dirty mind) albeit it was subject to ridicule over how and why would anyone name their FroYo chain that. But then I got invited to the place and I thought it was a good opportunity to check what the fuss was all about.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pak Pak, not Bhow Bhow!! Roast Chicken with Assorted Roast Thyme Potatoes and Gravy.

I am expecting to get many hits on this particular blog post. There have been drooling responses and emails and tweets and comments for this recipe picture! :) So let me cut directly to the chase coz' Roast Chicken with Potatoes is something that every single one of us would describe in a different way. For some it may classify as soul food, for some an absolute feast and for a rare crowd it is something that needs copious amounts of heat and spice added over to it. But for me, this dish means warmth. You feel at home anywhere you have this dish and that is why I decided to make it with the best friend, our mini cooking assignment!

I decided to also add in Sweet Potatoes along with normal Potatoes and I personally like them better than the normal potatoes when roasted. So here we go!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

MasterChef meets Gadget Guru at the IndiBlogger and Nokia AppTasting Event.

I got a chance to be present at a very unique event organized by Nokia and powered by called the Nokia AppTasting held at the Taj Lands End, Bandra, Mumbai. It was an event that merged both food and technology in its own way. No. Wait. In Rajiv Makhni and Vikas Khanna's own special way. For those of you who don't know who these people are, Rajiv Makhni is the Tech Guru on Indian TV and Vikas Khanna is the hottest voted chef in the US and has cooked for Barack Obama in the White House, and is also a judge in MasterChef India.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Of Procrastination, Inspiration, Recognition, Friendship, and a resulting Egg Masala.

Sharing is Caring. Whenever it comes to food, especially. I have always been intrigued with this fad of "secret recipes" especially with people who commercially sell their food, but with time and through experience I have learned that sharing it all does not steal anything from you or the way you would cook a recipe. I, for one, do not remember the last time where I would have followed a recipe to the T. I have always done something to add my little twist to it, or gone with my instinct and trusted my gut. There were times where I went against it and tried to stick to the recipes but that has never worked out for me, and the Chocolate Eclair Episode is a standing testimony to that!

What I actually want to convey here is that if you share your knowledge, you are bound to get it back multi-fold. Just like that, my school friend Rashmi (who posts amazing pictures of food on her Facebook Timeline) once put up a picture of Egg Masala. I'll let the picture do the talking here.

After few minutes of ogling at the picture and realizing that I was drooling, I went ahead and asked her for the recipe and like a true friend (True Friends are the ones who share recipes) she immediately inboxed me the recipe. But then I also had to live up to my other duties like playing Queen of Procrastination so it just went down one day at a time in my list of facebook messages and I forgot about it. But thanks to my specific cravings, I was craving for exactly the dish from the picture and I just had to make it. Until I got lazy again.

So I logged on to twitter to rant about how I was not feeling very inspired to cook anymore but I checked my mentions and could not stop smiling ear to ear coz Burrp Mumbai featured me on their list of 6 Foodies to follow in Mumbai, along with some pretty amazing Foodies! Here is the link to the article!

Well, that gave me the much needed push and off I went to the Kitchen!

Egg Masala
Serves 2
Recipe : Rashmi Desai Mehta

1 Large Onion, Chopped
2 Medium Tomatoes, Chopped
1/2 Cup Mint Leaves, Chopped
1 Cup Corriander Leaves, Chopped
4 Eggs, Boiled
2 Bay leaves
4 Cloves
An inch of Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Carom Seeds (Ajwain)
1/2 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
4-5 Curry Leaves
1 teaspoon Red Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
2 teaspoons Coriander Powder
1 teaspoon Meat Masala (I used Garam Masala instead)
1 Cup (1/2+1/2) Water
Salt, to taste
3 tbsp Oil/Ghee


Heat Oil/Ghee on medium heat in a pan. Add Bay leaves, Cinnamon, Carom Seeds, Cloves and sauté for a minute.

Next, add in the Cumin seeds, Curry Leaves and the chopped Onion. Sauté until Onions are soft.

Add in the Tomatoes and Mint Leaves and add half cup water. Cook till water evaporates, while stirring occasionally. Do mash the Tomatoes as you go along while stirring.

Add in the Chili Powder, Turmeric Powder, Coriander Powder, Meat Masala/Garam Masala and fry till fragrant (About 90 seconds), then add in the remaining half cup of water and half of the Coriander Leaves. Cook till the gravy reduces to desired consistency, you could add more water if you like.

Finally, add in the boiled Eggs and Salt to taste, (I sprinkled some Garam Masala here too) and Garnish with the remaining Coriander. Serve with Roti/Rice.

I personally felt that it tasted best when it was not piping hot. Have it when its warm and you would be able to savour it better. The aftertaste of the Carom and the Minty feeling is something quite different and you would definitely go out for seconds! Thanks again Rashmi I will be cooking this fairly often now!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Baking Disaster : What NOT to do when you make Chocolate Eclairs.

It is very important for anyone to live life with failures. I mean never be afraid of admitting failure. And for people like me who never get things the easy way, we really don't have a choice but to accept it, only with the desire to strike back harder and doing better the next time. I personally believe that if you get something easy, you probably won't value it as much as a person who has worked their ass off at getting something, getting thrown off at every stage.

Cooking did not come to me easy either. A certain someone has had to go through many stomach upset syndromes and has had to even fight with me over having to cook food just so that I do not make another batch of undercooked rice or a Mysore Dosa with a kilo of Beetroot too many. But with all those trials and errors, I think I got somewhere!

Just like that I had the craving for a Chocolate Eclair, since I was yearning to cook after recovering from a Viral Fever and having bland food (well everything tasted bland to me anyway) for 10 days. It did not seem all that difficult and I had everything I needed at hand, so there I began. Little did I know that it was a gentle push to send me tumbling downhill into a puddle of cheap cocoa icing.

Well I am being overcritical of myself. But the least I can do is not make the same mistakes again and even though whatever came out of it tasted good enough for my brother to finish all of it, I must make the prettiest chocolate eclairs sooner than later.

I started off with my dear friend Google and fished out for recipes that seemed easy enough to put together quickly. That was my first mistake. There are no short cuts to awesomeness. Every single time we substitute or compensate for something in a recipe, we compromise on the real deal.

The Chocolate Eclair has 3 major components:

  • The Choux Pastry Puffs
  • The Crème Patissière
  • The Chocolate Topping.

I made the Crème Patissière from my trusted recipe, (at least I did something good) and it was nothing short of perfect. *gentle pat on my back*

I looked up too many recipes for the Choux Pastry Puffs. Second mistake. There was too much to know, not exact instructions about the right texture and too many ways to do it. I only realized I was going wrong when I watched a video of Gordon Ramsay doing Profiteroles with Choux Pastry but I was a bit too late since I had a batch of too runny Choux Pastry sitting in my kitchen. Thank heavens I did not throw it away, but I did make a new batch which seemed to hold its shape better.

This was the second batch of Choux Pastry. I piped some out as little Profiteroles too. Now this recipe asked for them to be baked at 200C but since I read too much I decided to bake them at 180C for 35 minutes (Third Mistake). They came out looking like this at the 20 minute mark.

They tasted yummy, but did not rise at all and lets be honest they were a little burnt too. Disheartened, I decided to pipe out the first batch anyway. I mean, nothing to lose right? And to my surprise they rose beautifully.

But I did not keep an eye on them properly. I did not trust my gut this one time and it just went all pear shaped. I over baked them and this is what happened.

But at least they were much better than the mess which did not even rise! I decided I will make the eclair come what may.

So despite having a 500gm slab of Callebaut Cooking Chocolate at home (which would have made an amazingly luscious Ganache), I decided to go for a Cocoa Icing (Fourth Mistake). Just some Icing Sugar, Cocoa Powder and Hot Water mixed together. Then I added Coffee to it too.

And finally my Fifth Mistake was to sandwich two eclairs with Crème Patissière rather than Piping it inside the fluffy eclairs.

When I drizzled the Icing on the eclairs, it all was too runny and just did not taste right. But it tasted like something which was almost there (except it was not) and how if I had been a little more attentive and sorted I would have probably made a pretty cracking chocolate eclair!

I end this by saying that I am anything but a quitter. I will master you, Choux Pastry! Just you guys wait for my Chocolate Eclair post!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Food Review : Corniche, Bandra, Mumbai. (How not to run a restaurant)

I am that girl who downloads and watches episodes of Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares on loop. Believe me when I say that I actually have a fair idea about what goes into the making of a successful place to eat. It's simple : Good Food, Good Service, Hospitable, and all in all a good experience for the customer. There is good reason why I hardly go eating outside and one of them is not knowing exactly where my food is coming from. But that is a battle we all have to surrender to anyway, be it home cooking or fine dining. So when you invite someone over to review your restaurant, it is only human of them to expect you to be at your absolute best.

A bunch of us were invited to Corniche in Bandra, situated right next to the CCD at Carter Road, and one would expect nothing but excellent stuff from a place which is located at such an upscale area. Let me start off with the decor and the overall idea of Corniche. First of all, it is an open air restaurant located bang opposite the shoreline of Carter Road and one of the main concerns hence is Humidity. This was not taken care of since even though we were on the guest list and 2 humongous fans were situated near us, we had to hint the servers to actually go and turn them on. Secondly, and one of the most important things, the washrooms were not well maintained. The place would probably look much better when the rainy season is gone and all the black covering is off the ceilings.

I was the first one to reach there and found out that there is going to be a live cooking session with the chef followed by a food tasting. The invite stated that the meet was to begin at 1730 hours and end at 2000 hours (I have not received even a single food review invite with an end time on it, just makes me feel like they wanna get rid of me before paid customers start coming in) but the actual event started at 1815 hours and still ended exactly at 1930. In those 75 minutes, 5 dishes were cooked and a food tasting happened too. Here's how:

We were handed out the list of ingredients for all the dishes to be cooked that evening.  Wild Mushroom Soup, Tomato Concasse, Tangerine Chicken, Greek Salad, Penne Amatriciana, and Chicken Risotto. No recipes, mind you. We were expected to pay attention to everything Chef Amit Chaudhary was cooking up for us at the live station. The air was filled with wonderful aromas as chef cooked dishes one after the other like running a live service. He was happy to answer any doubts that we had regarding the dishes or any kind of cooking questions in general. Post that he disappeared for we were served the same menu for Food Tasting.

The Wild Mushroom Soup was fresh and earthy, not too creamy and just perfect to get the appetite going. Unfortunately there was too little in each serving.

The Greek Salad was nice and fresh, but here's the thing. If there is no Feta, it is not a Greek Salad. Most of us did not have Feta Cheese in our Salad Bowls. Disappointed.

For the 4 Vegetarians that were a part of the review group, this was it. There was nothing else served to them while we Non Vegetarians kept chomping off the other dishes. This is pathetic on the restaurants part. Just because we are in for a free meal does not mean you treat us like this. Any guest is a guest and hey you guys are trying to get some good reviews out of us. Shame.

Here's the thing with twice cooked chicken. I don't like it. Especially when its grilled and then used. The only recipe in which I use this method of cooking is the butter chicken where I take utmost care not to get the edges too cooked or charred because they will taste bitter when cooked later.

The Tangerine Chicken was marinated in Orange juice with other spices, then grilled on skewers and then cooked in a Tomato Concasse+ Orange Juice gravy. First of all it did not taste of Tangerine. The chicken tasted like it was overcooked and had been sitting for too long or had been pulled out from the fridge and zapped in the microwave before adding to the gravy. It is beyond me why this gravy dish was served with Leafy Greens (which were limp) instead of noodles or rice or bread. I was looking forward to this dish the most and this was probably the biggest let down of our evening.

Moving on to Penne Amatriciana. The pasta was pleasant tasting and the highlight of this sauce, Bacon, was used very sparingly. But all in all I liked the dish.

The Chicken Risotto was nice, too. The first serving that came around had chicken pieces that were undercooked and were way too big and chunky. But the second round that came out was much better, seems like that was freshly made as the chicken was tender, sliced nicely and the risotto was creamy. This was topped with a Parmesan and Cheddar Crisp which was the highlight of the dish and we had to shamelessly ask for extra crisps for our Vegetarian friends.

2 minutes later the plates were cleared and there was an awkward silence with no activity. 2 minutes post that the lights went out signalling us to leave (I guess). Well, no dessert for us. No problem. There were 2 PR girls who received us and one of them left in the middle of the meal while the other was hanging out all along, but for all the excitement and introductory speeches given out to us, there was not so much as even a proper good bye. We took some pictures and showed ourselves out, and headed straight to Out of The Blue for some amazing Peanut Butter Fondue, and I am not comparing here but there is a reason why we keep going back there (hint: SERVICE WITH A SMILE).

I spotted the very famous Fashion Bombay duo at Corniche before our event began and they seemed to be pretty pissed about something and left in haste too. Later I read their twitter feed saying that they were also invited for the event but were in fact billed for stale fish and dessert.

A big thumbs down from me, and please avoid going to this place since it needs new staff and probably a better, less confused menu.

And a lesson learned, I am now going to stop attending any and every food review. Must choose wisely.

I hope the folks at Corniche get their act together soon and if they fix all this they would be unstoppable considering the prime location, else it's gonna be difficult in the long run!! 

The good thing about the evening was catching up with the Food Blogger group and having an amazing time nonetheless :)

Thanks for having us over!

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