Summer is a time for brunches!

What’s the best part about summer? It’s the sundresses. And the best place to wear those are at brunches. Brunches that start off in the afternoon and spread across late evening.

So last weekend, @Celery and I ganged up to enjoy a Sunday afternoon lunch at Mumbai’s swish Tasting Room.

Good Earth
Good Earth

Situated inside The Good Earth showroom at Raghuvanshi Mill compound at Lower Parel, this one is Mumbai’s best kept secret. Those who know about it, swear by it and those who don’t – shame on you!

Parched, we started our luncheon with cool glasses of kiwi margarita and an orange blossom mocktail that were good enough to get us hopeful about the meal to come.

The appetizer of stuffed – fried mushroom served with the red chutney was rightly crispy with a soft interior. It was pop-able and each piece was consistently delicious. After eating this dish, we actually made a mental note to replicate it for our next terrace soiree.

The Tasting Room
The Tasting Room

Since @Celery is a bit of a health freak, she tried the herbed quinoa salad. Now, quinoa is completely overdone in this city, which makes it hard for chefs to do something offbeat with it. Thankfully, the chefs at The Tasting Room get this dish right. With bits of grilled veggies and slightly charred broccoli, this salad is what makes dieting worth your while.

Since all trips to this restaurant are incomplete without digging into their watermelon and goat cheese salad, we did the honours pronto.

Hardly a salad, this dish is what summer afternoons should be made up of. Goat cheese is layered with chunks of watermelon. The whole square is drizzled with sweet balsamic and pine nuts and few bits of arugula do the needful. We love this salad for its textural contrast and colour combination.

For mains, everything from the predictable penne with arabiata sauce to the unusual sweet potato gnocchi was outstanding. Each dish has a characteristic and tasted far superior than what’s available elsewhere.

The Tasting Room
The Tasting Room

Now for dessert, while the berry pavlova disappointed us tremendously because of its gelatinous texture, the cheesecake did the exact opposite. It blew our mind away! It was served warm with a berry sorbet and was as good as a spa treatment for the soul.

Address: 1st Floor, Good Earth, Raghuvanshi Mills Compound, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai

For reservations: 022 65285284

Timescity Gourmet week from July 15-21, 2013

gourmetweek_banner (2)

TimesCity, a popular destination that has so far helped us explore restaurants, nightlife, events and movies, is all set to hold it’s first ever Gourmet Week from July 15-21, 2013. The event taking place in three cities in the country – Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, gives foodies a chance to dig in without burning a hole in their pocket.

With an expansive choice of cuisines ranging from Japanese, Chinese, Italian and Indian, gourmands can explore platters from around the world at select Times Food Award winning restaurants.

To give you a taste of these, the curators have worked closely with chefs of these restaurants and have crafted up a menu that highlights 3 best dishes from each menu, starting at Rs 750 per person.

We tried the menu at Cafe Zoe and came home pleasantly satisfied for Rs 1200 per head. Here is a look at what our first course looked like.

DSC03785

To book a table and for more information, log on to http://timescity.com/

 

Circle of love- Patchi, Palladium review

DSC03740

Forest Gump’s mama always said that life is like a box of chocolates and you never know what you are going to get. But if you are at this store, there is little to worry about!  With a strong presence internationally, Patchi, the worldwide renowned chocolate brand finally launched its 2nd boutique in Mumbai at the Palladium mall. Much to our delight.

Located at Phoenix Mills, Lower Parel, the 450 Sq. feet store is a sweet haven with a wide array of chocolate collection.

Patchi Store

During our visit to this pit-stop, we picked out top ten things we LOVED about the store. Here they are:

1) Birth announcers – Nothing shows that you are celebrating more than a scrummy box of chocolates. To help you do that Patchi has come up with a line of chocolates that is especially for new parents. The range includes chocolates wrapped in cutesy wrappers in vibrant colours and lovely embellishments. While there is pink for the girls and blue for the boys, the store is happy to customise the wrappers for you.

DSC03716

2) Bespoke wrappers: Talking about customizing, we LOVED that Patchi has a huge range of chocolate wrappers one can choose from. How often does a brand think about so much detail? We adore the cute-little pictures and drawings on wrappers, the birds and shapes. One is definitely likely to find at least a handful of wrappers that suit their occasion.

DSC03737

3) More than chocolates: Apart from being an ace chocolate store, the showroom also has amazing home decor items to choose from. Limited but enough to glam up a boring zone in your home. You can pick from vases, bowls, chalices, show-plates. What’s more? You can get them to fill these up with chocolates too, in case gifting is on your mind.

DSC03721

4) Something for everyone!: One item that we absolutely adored at this store is the dark chocolate box that had something for everyone. One box is good for the family, as it packs in 55, 70 and 80 % cocoa levels.

DSC03722

5) Bridal wrappers: If you are a finicky bride and want your wedding chocolates to be as dressy as you, then this is a place to shop from. Patchi does fantastic chocolate cases that are dressed in various hues with many colours, styles, studs, etc – to fit every ceremony.

DSC03728

6) Chocolate lolly pops: Who would have thought of that? We love the store for it’s unique thinking. While the rest of chocolatiers are basking in chocolates alone, Patchi has come up with chocolate lolly pops that are not too sweet, yet delicious so your kids can chomp them off!

DSC03724

7) Sugar-coated almonds: This one makes up for a perfect festive treat. All you have to do is empty these sugar-coated dry fruits in a serving bowl or a plate and let your guests nibble endlessly.

DSC03742

8) Diamond-crusted photo frame: Rushed to a new born’s party and don’t know what to pick? Along with boxes of chocolates, you can gift this frame that looks chic, classy and can fit any decor theme.

DSC03726

9) Gold bar: As a child, we remember eating gold chocolate coins, so this bar made us nostalgic. Taste-wise the chocolate is uber creamy, with high cocoa notes and melts quickly the moment it hits the roof of your month. It is ideal to gift for weddings, graduation parties and anniversaries.

DSC03733

10) Chocolate crispies: Nothing beats the joy of chomping off wafers coated with yummy chocolate. Apart from loose chocolates, Patchi also does pre-packaged boxes which includes chocolate dipped orangettes, mints, chocolate bars, etc. But our pick is the chocolate wafer that is thin, crispy and tastes oh-so-good.

DSC03743

Address: Patchi, 3rd floor, boutique No T22B, Palladium, Phoniex Mall, Mumbai

Tel: +91-22-67499090

A new vegetarian cook book! – Diva Green by Ritu Dalmia

Bookcover

I have always loved Delhi-based Chef Ritu Dalmia for her ceaseless energy, cool ideas, cooking style and everything else in between. She is the owner and head of a restaurant called Diva in the capital, a book writer, a television anchor and one of the top-most chefs in this country. So when I heard that she had come up with a new cookbook, I couldn’t wait to get myself a copy. What made wanting the book even more desirable was the that fact that it was an ALL-VEGETARIAN COOKBOOK!

For those of you who don’t know, apart from writing for Alice on this website, I also have my own space called www.whenharrymetcelery.wordpress.com, where I yap about my vegetarian culinary experiments. This book is something that is totally up my street, giving me endless ideas to dabble with.

Unlike most cookbooks that are divided into cuisines or courses, Diva Green is categorised on the basis of ingredients. Chef Dalmia coolly separates various sections in her book into compartments such as potatoes, pumpkin, greens, fruits, dairies, tomato, etc and lists down recipes that use that particular ingredient in central space.

Though the recipes cut across many Indian and international cuisine, they are easy to make, require minimal planning and fit right into the schedule of a busy cook.

To give you a sneak peek, here is an excerpt from this book….

Sweet pumpkin fritters

Sweet Pumpkin Fritters

My friend John Jackson runs the Royal Malewane, the most amazing lodge in the Kruger National Park in South Africa. John is an accomplished chef and a very creative man and runs the place like a dream. When I was there a few years ago, I was putting on an average of a kilo per day, with two breakfasts – one before the safari and one on our return – lazy lunches and delicious, elaborate dinners. I must admit the main courses did not do for me what the side dishes or the accompaniments did. One of these, which I ordered extras of all the time, was the local pumpkin fritters, a bit savoury and a bit sweet. They were served as a side dish with the entrées, but I drizzled them with maple syrup and ate them as dessert. They are very easy to make and can be done with very few ingredients. Another example of the versatility of the amazing pumpkin in salty or sweet preparations! Waka Waka!

INGREDIENTS

750g ripe pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed and cubed

100g refined flour

1tsp baking powder

A pinch of salt

A pinch of cinnamon powder

1 tbsp sugar

2 eggs

Vegetable oil for frying

A splash of maple syrup (optional)

Icing sugar (optional)

METHOD

Boil the pumpkin for 25 to 30 minutes, drain it and process it in a blender till it is a smooth purée.

In a clean bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and sugar.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs well and combine with the pumpkin purée. Add the dry ingredients to this and mix well.

Heat a non-stick pan with enough oil to shallow fry. Once the oil is smoking, drop spoonfuls of batter into the hot oil and fry in batches till brown on both sides.

Remove with a slotted spoon and drain the excess oil on paper towels.

Serve with a dusting of icing sugar and, if you want, a drizzle of maple syrup.

Indian cooking in French cookware

Cooking with cast iron is a new ball game altogether. In an Indian kitchen, one seldom finds this hefty cookware item because not many traditional dishes are made using it. But if you think about it, the material can work wonders, especially if used cooking certain authentic Indian techniques. Dum pukht or slow-oven cooking are good examples since the heavy lid often traps in all the moisture and the resultant dish is a juicy treat.

Cooking this way is especially beneficial while cooking dishes such as meats, biryanis, Indian gravies and daals where you want to slow-cook the preparation in order to let the flavours flourish well.

Our latest kitchen-love is a cast iron casserole by French cookware brand Le Creuset. The lusty red tub of goodness is apt for everything from sautéing regular veggies, stir frying, bubbling sauces to even baking cakes. Since it heats up fast, retains temperature and looks so good, it can be used to serve too. What’s more is that using cast-iron pans in place of nonstick pans helps  avoid the harmful chemicals found in the latter and comes with a life time garuntee. 

Red Dish Main rg flat
Mushroom and puffed tofu red salan in our brand new casserole

We first used our casserole to make a fused salan (urdu word for gravy) to be relished with bread or chappati. Since we wanted to give this traditional dish a gourmet lift, we threw in a few button mushrooms and bits of puffed tofu cubes (also going it a protein punch).

Mushroom and puffed tofu red salon

Ingredients: 1 cup button mushrooms (halved), 1 cup tofu puffs, ½ cup vegetable oil, 250 gm onions (thinly sliced), 200 gm curd, 1 tsp cumin seeds,  1 tbsp coriander seed powder, 1 tsp black pepper powder, 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste, few cloves, 3 green cardamoms, 1 stick cinnamon, red chilli powder as per taste, ¼ tsp turmeric powder, salt to taste, ½ tsp garam masala powder, pinch of ground mace and nutmeg, 2 tsp oregano leaves (finely chopped)

Method: In a wok, heat oil and fry the onions until brown and crispy. Remove from fire and blend it into a smooth puree. Add whisked curd and cumin powder to it and mix well. In a pan, heat oil and add ginger-garlic paste and all the spices. Sauté for a few minutes and add coriander seed powder, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt to it and mix well. Add in the curd and onion paste and allow the gravy to bubble for a few minutes. Add water if the salan seems to thick. Add mushroom and tofu puffs to it and sprinkle garam masala and mace and nutmeg powder on top. Garnish with oregano leaves and serve hot.

 Tips for working with cast iron

  • Wash your utensils by hand using warm water and a sponge or stiff brush.
  • To remove grease, scrub it with salt and water. Stubborn food residue may also be loosened by boiling water in the cast iron vessel.
  • Always thoroughly towel-dry your cast iron utensils before packing them up.
  • Store them in dry place.
  • Cast iron is naturally non-stick, but with every use, it tends to lose it’s non-stick quality. To bring it out again, grease it with vegetable oil before use.

Apart from the casserole, we are also lusting  after other goodies from Le Creuset.  Here is a peek. 

Tagine and bean pot
Availability in Mumbai: All Indigo Deli
Availability in Delhi: Sham Di Hatti, 1A  Khan Market, New Delhi: 110003
Also contact: info@lecreuset.org