Sunday, 13 July 2014

Gur Ki kheer

There is something so comforting about a rice pudding wonder then that every country has its own version.

In India "Kheer" or rice pudding is such a versatile and popular dessert. Its fast , easy , creamy and comforting . Best of all it uses ingredients that are present in even the most humble kitchen pantry.

There are as many versions of this creamy cardamom scented dessert as there are families in India. This is my version , based on an age old family recipe !

I hope you try it and enjoy it. It uses gur (jaggery) and coconut. Incase you cannot find jaggery you may use brown /regular sugar.

Gur Coconut Kheer (Indian Rice Pudding)

1/3 cup basmati rice
1 Tablespoon Ghee
 2 green cardamoms (slightly bruised and opened)
1 Litre full fat milk
1/2 fresh grated coconut
80-100g Jaggery (gur) depending on how sweet you want it
A handful of raisins
Dry fruits to garnish

Start by soaking the basmati rice in warm water for 10-15 minutes. Then rub the rice grains gently between the palm of your hands to slightly break up the grains of rice.
Drain water from soaked rice and set aside.

Heat ghee in a thick bottomed pan , then add the rice and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the milk and let the rice cook in the milk on a low flame for about 25 minutes.

By this time the rice will be cooked and the kheer will appear thick , use the back of a spoon to gently mash some rice into the milk , this gives it a nice thick texture.

Next add the fresh grated coconut. Also add the raisins and green cardamom pods.

In the end add the jaggery , stir till the jaggery melts and is well incorporated into the rice kheer. Adjust the amount of jaggery according to how sweet you like your desserts!

Serve chilled . Garnish with dry fruits of choice.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Stone Water Grill

Stone Water Grill is hands down the city's most loved party/ dining destination and Pune diners have missed the place sorely since it closed for renovation.

Stone Water Grill re-opens this week and with  my lovely friends from Pune Foodiez , I was invited to a Preview Dinner.

Its already at a great advantage  being located in Koregaon Park , the epicenter of all things happening ...add to that a spectacular river view and spruced up interiors ....

Like before there is both an indoor and outdoor dinning can choose to dine outside under a canopy of twinkling stars along side the dramatic lighting effects and water features or inside in the elegant charcoal grey dinning area...

Stone Water Grill has been instrumental in introducing Pune to experiential dining along with excellent service...

Chef Shailendra Kekade- Pune's style chef is all set to take diners on a world class gastronomic journey with a new innovative menu..... The new menu comprises of modern European dishes and every dish is prepared to delight the diner

Miso butter with cumin breadsticks, Infused olive oil with bread, Aracinni di Riso with smoked aubergine soup

Not only does the food taste spectacular with several layers of flavor and great texture it also looks breathtaking! I love when a restaurant puts in so much care and love in plating a dish!

The soups are fantastic I loved the Light Tomato Tea aka the ginseng , ginger and tomato soup....the Mushroom Cappuccino was fabulous ......

Light tea- tomato, ginseng, ginger soup, Chicken & Mushroom Broth ,Chilled Pomegranate Gazpacho with garlic bread

The food is dramatic and fabulous ....there is plenty to choose from Salads like Soy Roast Duck with medicinal herbs and pomegranate , Mushroom Galouti with saffron brioche .........Wood fired pizzas that Stone Water Grill has always been famous for.......even the humble burger has been elevated to dizzying culinary grandeur under the skilled hands of Chef Shailendra Kekade.....

All vegetarian Mushroom Galouti Kebab served over saffron Brioche

All the vegetarian food we tried was remarkably good....right from the fluffy as a cloud Miso butter with cumin flavored bread sticks to the Mushroom Risotto....the Arancini di Riso with smoked eggplant soup....

Grilled wasabi cottage cheese with papaya salsa

Roasted pepper Tortellini with creme fraiche and toasted garlic crumbs

The salads are a work of art so many different flavors at work all at once....

The shots and Mocktails/Cocktails are astounding but thats no surprise because Stone Water Grill has always boasted of an amazing bar!

Eye of the Tiger ;)

I tried a shot called the "Eye of the Tiger" with a Raspberry Raviolli and lets just say it made me a better person if only just for the evening ;))

And dessert was luscious Pannacotta with lemon leaf and pink peppercorns amongst serveal other equally fantastic desserts....

Malai coconut Panacotta with pink pepper corns and Kafir lime gastrique 

Its rare for me to enjoy a place THIS much ....I have never found any reason to complain of my time at Stone Water Grill ....the place looks amazing....plays great music....attracts the right kind of people ....boasts of an excellent service staff and good God even serves spectacular food!!

I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a memorable night .....this is the place to go to for seriously good food or if you just want to unwind over a few drinks along with great appetizers and  great music !

Stone Water Grill
Pyramid Complex
81/82 North Main Road
Koregaon Park

Call (020) 67251000 for Reservations

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Thursday, 5 June 2014

Pune's best Vada Pao

The summer is on its way out and its time for the great Indian Monsoons!
I was away from India for the last two monsoons so I am really looking forward to the rains this year!

punes best vada pao

Its amazing how the change in weather gets me craving for completely different kinds of food.All through the summer months all I wanted was lots of fruit ...Mangoes...lots of juices and cold coffee 

And now just after the first rains of the season all I really want is hot chocolate , onion pakodas ( fritters) and ofcourse Vada Pao!

punes best vada pao

Vada Pao is basically a giant potato filling.... batter coated and deep fried to crispy perfection and served in a pao (melt in your mouth pillow-y bread)...

There are several versions found all around Maharashtra and Vada Pao makes for excellent street food ...think of it as India's version of a burger!

punes best vada pao

Makes for a great , quick , portable lunch/snack...

This post is about MY most favorite Vada Pao in my home city of Pune....I have tried several iconic stalls that serve this addictive snack but this is THE best according to me...

Its always bustling with people , the vadas are crunchy and hot , its served with a delicious sweet-spicy chutney and comes with a side of chopped onions and pickled lemon /green chillies...

Go here when you are in Pune next ...Rs 14 for a Vada Pao dont forget to ask for double chutney and lots of green chillies. :))

JJ Garden Vada Pao
Behind M G Road
Near JJ Agyari (Fire Temple)

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Asian Express

Think fast food and all that comes to mind is Mc Donalds and KFC or at best the road side vada pao vendor.....well not any more!

Asian Express, a small chic eatery conveniently located in Mariplex Mall in Kalyani Nagar is all set to change the drab fast food scene in the city!

Asian Express Pune review

Asian Express offers popular South East Asian food in an "express" fast food format. Dont expect to be served in fancy plates!

But what you can expect is fresh food created using real Thai spices and ingredients.....a great place for a working lunch or a quick snack if you are in the area.

So on a lovely Saturday afternoon , with my lovelyy friends from Pune Foodiez  we had lunch at Asian Express and this is some of  what we ate....

I loved the Burmese Kaho Soi  (Rs 225) - a one bowl wonder with noodles , fried shallots, garlic, boiled egg ,a thick flavorful base and wonderful smoked chilli flakes on top!

 Surely the Khao Soi would make for a very satisfying meal all in itself! What you are served at Asian Express is a pre- assembled Khao Soi but dont be shy and ask for extra condiments if you so desire !

I like my Khao Soi with  extra squirts of lemon juice and fried garlic bits ...

Asian Express Pune review
Burmese Khao Soi
Next thing I liked was the Som Tam (Rs 145) - Raw papaya salad ....its something I can eat every single day...loved the long crunchy strips of papaya  that were tossed in a tangy garlic-y tamarind dressing.

Asian Express Pune review
Som Tam 
The Lemon Grass prawns (Rs 285) were nice was a very generous serving of prawns considering the price :))

Asian Express Pune review
Lemongrass Prawns
Chicken satay (Rs 205) was good! It makes for a good snack though I would have liked the accompanying peanut sauce to be a little thicker with more texture and bite! Paneer satay was lacking in flavour and a little bland.

Asian Express Pune review
Chicken Satay

The Japanese potato cakes ( Rs 125) and Thai french fries ( Rs 135) were both nice! Think an aloo tikki with thai spices or french fries coated in exotic thai chilli and lemon grass seasoning!

Asian Express Pune review
Japanese Potato Cakes

The Tom Kha soup ( Rs 135) was nice but could do with more of a kick of Thai flavour!

Asian Express Pune review
Tom Kha Soup

The Thai red curry ( Rs 235)  and green curry served with a portion of basil rice were both quite impressive! I enjoyed them....

Asian Express Pune review
Thai Red curry

Desserts on offer are not very conventional and may be a little experimental for most people. I tried the mango spring roll ( Rs 155) and a Thai coconut Patties( Rs 140) -  coconut potato dumpling in a creamy coconut sauce.

 They were nice but I am not sure if I would order them again....but then again kudos to Asian Express for being experimental with food and trying new things :)

Asian Express Pune review
Thai coconut Patties

Asian Express Pune review
Mango Spring roll

Over all, I loved the chic interiors with the exposed brick walls and the interesting art .

Will I eat here again?

I will surely  eat here again given my love for South East Asian Food and healthy eating (on most days)  and stick with  house classics like Khao Soi, Red/Green Curry with rice , Som Tam salad and Lemon grass prawns!

Asian Express Pune review
Asian Express- Kalyani Nagar Pune

Its wonderful to find real Thai food in a fast food format at such reasonable prices for generous portion sizes !

Saturday, 24 May 2014

‘Bake Like A Pastry Chef’ at Courtyard by Marriott Pune City Center

Whenever I begin to gather ingredients for baking, I am reminded of love....
Nothing fills a house with joy as much as the aroma and prospect of a  freshly baked cake no matter how basic it is .....
Baking marks a celebration , fills a child's heart with glee and revives lagging spirits ....
Baking comes from the heart ...

Pune food blogger baking
Delicious Tea Cake
Baking is about loving , about sharing and about giving as much as it is about cooking.....

Pune food blogger baking
Chef de Partie Gerwin D'souza
The lovely people at Courtyard by Marriott Pune City Center hosted a wonderful afternoon to a packed audience ...

Chef de Partie Gerwin D'souza hosted a baking master-class aptly titled "Bake like a Pastry Chef".

Pune food blogger baking
Cheese Cake
In a short span of just an hour and a half the  young and immensely talented Chef Gerwin D'souza taught us how to make muffins, crispy short bread , healthy oat cookies , scrumptious tea cake ,tiramisu and ravishingly good baked New York style cheese cake!

Pune food blogger baking
Brilliant baked cheese cake
The masterclass was held in a state of the art assembled bakery with cameras and television displays so that the audience could see every step of the recipe no matter where they were seated.....

Pune food blogger baking
Chef Gerwin D'souza interacted with the audience in his witty , charming style and answered queries all through the session.....

Pune food blogger baking
Crispy shortbread cookies
What followed was sampling of everything that we learnt and high -tea.

Pune food blogger baking
Healthy oats cookies

Pune food blogger baking
And its Tea Time!
A truly memorable afternoon and I learnt so much in such a short span of time!
I highly recommend all forthcoming baking master classes with Chef de Partie Gerwin D'souza....its not often that one has the chance to interact and learn from such a gifted Chef who is so devoted to the art of baking!

Pune food blogger baking
Wonderful audience in rapt attention!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Kerala Fish Curry Meen Moiley

Sometimes I wonder about how a particular recipe got its name...some have logical explanations like Meat Beli Ram ..a spectacular full bodied peshawari mutton curry that was made famous and created by a legendary North West Frontier Province cook called Beli Ram....but several recipes make you wonder about the origin of their names....

Best Indian Food Blog Kerala fish curry recipe

I always wonder specially when I make Kerala style Meen Moiley ....its a coconut based fish curry with a very sophisticated blend of spices .
The curry is delicately spiced with powdered Fennel seeds, cinnamon bark, cloves, crushed black pepper and bruised green cardamoms!

Was is Aunty Molly's recipe? I like to think of her as a warm , generous Portuguese lady who called Kerala home a long long time ago....

Aunty Molly must have been a genius then to put to good use all of Kerala's magnificent spices in one single curry.....and yet nothing is overpowering......

It could be true considering that Kerala's long coastal belt abundant with spice plantations , fresh sea food attracted so many adventurous traders from the world over - the Portuguese, Dutch , Arabs , Phoenicians , Romans , British all came to Kerala in search of black gold - Pepper which grows wild and abundant in the state....and they all left a mark on the local wonder the food of Kerala is so brilliant ....

Maybe then Aunt Molly was a fantastic cook of Portuguese origin makes the recipe a little more exotic when I think of it that way!

She must have been a legendary cook and the whole village must have smelled the delicate aroma as the curry bubbled away on her stove....

And you do know about a good cook and a good recipe, don't you?
Word travels fast like a forest fire....soon the entire village was cooking Meen Moiley Aunty Molly style and then the whole state!

And now I cook it too even though I have no link with either Kerala or Portugal :)
Good food and a good recipe does travel fast then....

Best Indian Food Blog Kerala fish curry recipe

Here is the recipe its my absolute favorite...a wonderful curry that showcases the best of Indian Spices...

Meen Moiley
Serves : 4 

Ingredients :

Fish  : 500 g ( I used Surmai )

To Marinate : (for 30 minutes in the refrigerator)
Haldi, salt , pepper : 1/2 teaspoon each

For Sauce :
 Black Rye : 1 tsp
Cloves : 5
Cinnamon : 1"
Green Cardamom : 2 slightly bruisedOnions : 2 , finely chopped
Garlic : 4 cloves finely chopped
Ginger : 1" piece
Green Chillies : 5 slit
Haldi : 1/2 tsp
Red Chilli Powder : large pinch
Crushed black pepper : 1/2 tsp
Saunf powder : 1/2 tsp 
Tomato - 1 finely chopped 
 Thin coconut milk : 2 cups*
Thick coconut milk : 1 cup*
Oil - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Curry Leaves - 2 springs 

Heat oil then add black rye and let them splutter . Add cinnamon , cloves , elaichi . Add chopped onions, ginger garlic and green chillies. Cook for 5 minutes. Add haldi , red chilli powder ., add the chopped tomato and curry leaves....cook for 2-3 minutes . 

Then add thin coconut milk . Let all this boil for 5-7 minutes . Now add fish and cover and cook for 10 minutes .

In the end add thick coconut milk , curry leaves and to finish add saunf powder .

* I got lazy this time and used Maggi coconut milk powder ( 25 g) pack diluted in 3 cups of hot water instead of extracting fresh coconut milk.
*If you are using coconut milk powder just add it all in once and then boil for 7 minutes.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Delhi Belly Food Festival at JW Marriott Pune

The food in Purani (old) Delhi is legendary.

Tucked away in the congested narrow alley ways of the capital you will find spectacular food....the best creamy kheer at Bade Mian in Lal Kuan, fantastic Dahi Bhallas at Natraj , crispy jalebis at Daribe ke Old and Famous Jalebiwalla .....mutton and chicken korma at Ashok & Ashok....the list is long!

Old Delhi has a marvelous legacy of food, everything is a treat to the taste buds. I love exploring the food of Pooranie Dillie ....

old delhi food blog
Flaky hot Nan-Khatai ( Biscuits) being sold on a street cart in Chandani Chowk, Old Delhi

I specially loved buying fresh , melt in your mouth , warm Nan Khatais from a street vendor in Old Delhi during my last visit there....

You can imagine then how excited I was when I heard that JW Marriott in Pune is hosting a delighful food festival featuring the best of Old Delhi Food.

old delhi food blog
Beverages on offer - Cutting chai , Nimbu Shikanjvi, India Gate style Baraf ke Gole

Aptly called the Delhi Belly Food Festival its a treat for ever food loving Pune-ite....

JW Marriott food festival chef ajmal
Chef Ajmal Salim with Chef Halim from  Delhi

I loved the detailed planing for this food festival. The very talented Chef Ajmal along with Chef Halim (who specialises in Delhi & Lucknowi food) have made great efforts to keep the food very authentic and re-create old Delhi classics like

Patel Nagar ki Shikanjavi
Chankdni Chowk ka Banta Masala Soda
India Gate ke Baraf Gole
Tawa wallie Shakarkandi Chaat
Karol Bagh ke Chole Bhature
Jama Masjid ki Mashoor Biryani
Purani Dillie Ka Shahie Tukra 

Just writing about the charming street food of Old Delhi is enough to make my mouth start watering yet again!

JW Marriott food festival chef ajmal
Falky Mathie with aged Lemon and Mango Pickle

Each table was set with a platter of perfectly khasta (flaky & crispy) Mathie , Sonth (sweet Tamarind and Jaggery Chutney) , green chutney, Mango & Lemon Pickle!

JW Marriott food festival chef ajmal
Drool worthy Mathie

The Mathie/ Mathri  and pickle were both very authentic ....they tasted just like what my Dadijee would make.

Being bang in the middle of the summer months there are an array of India Gate special flavored ice golas along with very refreshing Patel Nagar ki Neembu Shikanjvi on offer....

JW Marriott food festival chef ajmal

For starters we had some very well made Rajinder Nagar Style Dahi ke Kebab and Channa ke Shammi...both very well done ...its always nice when the vegetarian starters are as good as the non-vegetarian starters.

JW Marriott food festival chef ajmal
Melt in your mouth vegetarian Dahi Ke Kebab

The show stopper of my meal was definatley the tandoori chicken...its was so perfectly succulent and well spiced....I enjoyed it with Moolchand ka ande ka paratha ....

JW Marriott food festival chef ajmal
Perfect Tandoorie Kukkad

Main course was creamy dal makhani and delicatley spiced Jama Masjid Murg biryani with  moist tender pieces of chicken....

JW Marriott food festival chef ajmal
Purani Dillie Ki Daal Makhani

JW Marriott food festival chef ajmal
Jama Masjid Ki Mashoor Murg Biryani

And best of all for dessert we had some Gol Market style  Kulfi milk shake complete with falooda and sabja seeds! I had never heard of a kulfi -falooda milk shake....and I do love a good this was the perfect end to a very good meal...

JW Marriott food festival chef ajmal
Kulfi Falooda Shake Gol Market Style 

The "Delhi Belly Food Festival" Buffet is currently underway at the JW Marriott, Senapati Bapat Road, Pune  from 16th May -31st May 2014.

This specially crafted buffet menu is available for dinner between 7:30 am - 11 pm at Spice Kitchen and also at Shakahari (For Vegetarian Diners).

Priced at INR 1000 AI for adults and INR 500 for children below the age of 12 years at the Spice Kitchen, JW Marriott.

I strongly recommend this excellent dining experience to savour the charming food of Puranie Dillie without having to get on a plane or brave the narrow crowded streets of Old Delhi.