A perfecto evening at Imperfecto!

Happy Holi people. It is that time of the year when me and my husband visit Delhi to be together with family and celebrate the festival of colors. And when I’m in Delhi, i have to meet my friends.. Yamini and Mansi. Mansi got hitched recently and touchwood, she is living a blissful life with her hubby dearest in Singapore. That leaves me & Yam! 

Yamini and I met at Imperfecto (26/03), a cafe & resto bar in the heart of Hauz Khas Village in Delhi. Hauz Khas Village is a crowded little spot in South Delhi flooded with restaurants, cafes and bars. Some of them serve yummy food. 

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The ambience at Imperfecto is quaint and yet modern in its own little way. They’ve picked up old rustic props and have given it a modern twist. I love it.

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While i was waiting for my friend, i ordered a Pan Rasna Sheesha, popularly known as Hookah. The Sheesha wasn’t very well made. It was choking and I had to ask the server to change coal every five mins. I even ordered a breezer, I love Jamaican Passion. 

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Our food order included a classic, and my all time favourite, Pizza Margherita and Penne Pasta in White Sauce (Bechamel Sauce). The pizza was thin crust, crispy and non greasy.. just the way I like it. 

The pasta was delicious – penne was cooked to al dante, the sauce was creamy and seasoned perfectly. Only the veggies could have been sliced finely. 

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Over all, the food was great. Here’s how I’ve rated my experience (out of 5 stars) at Imperfecto.

  • Ambience ****
  • Food Quality ****
  • Food Variety ****
  • Service ***

Over All Rating **** (4) 

My experience at Imperfecto was lovely and I’m sure that you too will love it. Hope you enjoy the place as much as i did! Do visit Imperfecto and share your thoughts.

To new beginnings… Cheers!

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Last day at work today and i wanted to make something sweet for all my friends and colleagues at work place. I made Oreo Truffles. 

 

To make 30 pieces of Oreo Truffle, you will need.

  • 450 Gms of Oreo (original is the best)
  • 200 gms of Cream Cheese
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Melted Chocolate for dipping the truffle
  • Sugar Beads for garnishing
  1. Using a food processor, crush together the Oreo biscuits. I bashed up mine in a zip lock and a rolling pin.
  2. Add cream cheese to the Oreo crumble and mix well. 
  3. Add a splash of vanilla extract and mix again.
  4. Shape the truffle mixture into small balls or into mini cups using tart mold and refrigerate for about an hour.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the chocolate over a double boiler or melt it in the microwave. If you are using the latter, ensure that you check after every 30 secs. Temper the chocolate and bring it down to about 35 degree Celsius.
  6. Put in the truffles and coat well with the chocolate. Drain off excess chocolate and place on aluminium foil. 
  7. Sprinkle the sugar beads on top and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or even overnight.
  8. Place the truffles in a mini cupcake liner and serve chilled.

 

Every single journey that I’ve embarked on, I’ve learned something new.
Hope the new journey i’m setting my foot on, turns out to be fruitful and may all of us succeed in all our endeavors. Wish me luck friends!

Twist on a traditional breakfast cereal, Poha.

Poha is a popular Maharashtrian breakfast recipe. Even back home in Kolkata, my mum used to make Veg Poha, often for breakfast or evening snack.

Poha is nothing but rice that has been parboiled, rolled, flattened and then dried to produce flakes. They have uneven edges and a rough texture. Rice flakes have no particular aroma and a bland gentle taste. Depending on the method of cooking, they can be soft or crunchy.

Last evening was windy and it was about to rain. I decided to call over my cousins for a game of Monopoly Deal (my new addiction)..To munch in between games, i made crunchy Poha Cutlets and Chai. 

Poha cutlet is an easy snack and quick to prepare. This is a great recipe to use left over Veg Poha as well.

 

Here’s the recipe.

  • 3 Medium Sized Potatoes (boiled and skinned)
  • 1 Cup Poha (washed and drained) – On washing, poha softens and puffs up a little 
  • 2 Slices of Bread
  • 2 Green Chillies – finely chopped
  • 1 Large Onion – finely chopped
  • 1 Carrot – grated
  • ½ Capsicum – finely chopped
  • ½ Cup Fresh Coriander – finely chopped
  • 1″ Piece of Ginger – grated
  • ¼ Tsp Black Pepper
  • ½ Tsp Chilli Powder
  • ½ Tsp Cumin Powder
  • ½ Tsp Black Salt
  • Salt to taste – do taste the mixture before adding more salt
  • Oil for Frying
  1. Mash the potatoes with the help of a fork or use hands. Whatever is convenient. You can even grate them.
  2. Add the washed poha to the mashed potato. Tear the bread into tiny bits and add in as well.
  3. Add in the veggies, spices, salt and knead the mixture well until everything comes together.
  4. Take small portions of the mixture and shape it like a cutlet or a nugget (or however your heart desires).
  5. Heat oil in a pan. Gently slide the cutlets into hot oil and fry until golden brown. Keep flipping the cutlets so they brown evenly on both sides. 
  6. Take it out on a kitchen towel to drain off the excess oil and serve hot with Ketchup/Chutney 

 

I thoroughly enjoyed making these golden beauties. Hope you like the recipe too. Give it a try and share your feedback. 

Most definitely, an underrated sweet treat.

A family get together at my place and I’m all twisted in my head. When there is a party, it’s mostly about food… And since my guests were picky (wont name them), I decided to call up my sister Vandana (a brilliant cook) for her suggestion on easy homemade Indian sweet treats. She recommended Chocolate Sandesh – a light, melt in mouth sweet made of cottage cheese and chocolate.  Idea sold.. 

To let you all know, sandesh is a very popular sweet treat Kolkata is famous for and there are endless varieties available. This one is a homely yet delicious take on it.

Like always, it is my pleasure to share this recipe with all of you. It is easy and very very tasty. 

For 10 pieces of Chocolate Sandesh, you will need. 

  • 1.5 liters of Milk (use full fat and not skimmed) 
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 tbsp Sugar
  • ½ cup Chocolate syrup (i used Hershey)
  • 1/ tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Some Crushed Chocolate Oreo (to roll the sandesh in)
  • Some Chocolate Chips for garnish
  1. Heat the milk and bring it to a boil. Patience is a virtue…so, ensure that the milk is kept on low flame.
  2. Cut the lemon into halves and squeeze the juice directly into the milk (through a strainer)
  3. The milk will start to curdle and you will see the whey separate itself from the milk solids.. this is the easiest way to make cottage cheese at home. When they whey separates completely, strain the cottage cheese through a muslin cloth. Squeeze to release all that excess water. Keep aside and let it cool for 5 mins. Cottage Cheese is also called Chhena (in India) and is used across the nation to make paneer and a variety of other delicacies. 
  4. Put the cottage cheese in a  mixer. Add sugar and blend for about 30 secs. Add some of the chocolate sauce to get the grinder going. Once blended, the cottage cheese will resemble a smooth creamy lump. Empty the mixer in a bowl and allow the chocolate mixture to set in the fridge for about an hour.
  5. Take the mixture out of the freezer and add the remaining chocolate sauce. Add in the vanilla extract and mix well. Keep the mixture in the fridge for another 15 mins. 
  6. Take the mixture out and shape them into little balls. Roll them in crushed Oreo or any chocolate biscuit of your choice. 
  7. Garnish with chocolate chips and refrigerate till you serve.

 

PS: You can even make Vanilla Sandesh – just skip the chocolate syrup and add sugar instead (while mixing in the blender). Add vanilla essence and roll into balls. Garnish with saffron strings and pistachios. 

Chocolate Sandesh is a very healthy, protein rich, delicious sweet. It is definitely not as fancy as other sweets available in the market but nothing beats a homemade delicacy.

Before i sign off – Thank you Vandana Di for sharing this wonderful recipe! 

To my life long Valentine.

I was a typical girl who believed in love, friendship, celebrating days just because it is a “cool” thing to do. And also because, the entire world was doing the same. 

When i got married, my thinking and my ideologies changed. Valentine’s Day was just 4 days after my wedding. Mine was a love marriage and so, i was expecting lot of surprises and celebrations. It was a usual lovey dovey morning.. I had filmed the entire day in my mind – surprise bouquet of flowers, chocolates, cake cutting, gifts etc. Nothing of that sort happened. It was a simple yet enjoyable evening with friends, movie and dinner night out. 

On returning home, i asked my husband why he did not wish me “Happy Valentine’s Day Sweetheart” and why he didn’t shower me with gifts and love all day long.. after all, it is the day of love! He just said one thing.. “Babe, i do not want to show off my love for just one day.. I want to keep the love and spark going for 365 days and for years to come.” He won. And honestly, i am more than happy to lose myself to a man who loves me for who i am. 

I’ve been married for 4 years now and things have only changed for better. Anuvrat (my husband) had been travelling entire last month and returned day before yesterday. To surprise my better half (actually, my best half)… i baked him his favorite Red Velvet Cupcakes – moist, rich flavour and dense red color. The cupcakes were fluffy and delicious with “to die for” cream cheese frosting.

 

Here’s the recipe for 24 mini cupcakes, you will need.

  • 117.5 gms Self Raising Flour
  • 7.5 gms Cocoa powder
  • 125 gms Castor Sugar
  • a pinch of Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tbsp Butter Milk
  • 135 gms Butter
  • ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Red Food Color (the food color qty varies as all colors and gels have different intensity)
  • ¾ tsp Cider Vinegar
  • ¾ tsp Soda Bi Carb

For Cream Cheese Frosting, you will need.

  • 120 gms Cream Cheese
  • 75 gms Butter
  • 420 gms Icing Sugar (sifted)
  • ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
  1. Line the mini cupcake tin with liners and pre heat your oven at 170 degree Celsius 
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, castor sugar and salt in a large bowl and mix thoroughly
  3. Add eggs and butter to the flour mixture and whisk well
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the butter milk, food color and vanilla extract. Add this red liquid to the flour mix. Beat well for a minute or so on high speed. Scrape down the sides and mix again. 
  5.  In a small bowl, add cider vinegar to the soda bi carb and pour this fizzy mix to the red velvet batter. Beat well for a couple of seconds or until thoroughly mixed
  6. Scoop the batter in pre lined cupcake tin and allow them to bake at 170 degree Celsius for 22 minutes
  7. Take them out when done and allow them to cool completely

While the cupcakes are baking, make your frosting. This way you will not waste a minute on delaying the eating part! 

  1. To make the cream cheese frosting, beat together the butter and cream cheese on medium speed for 1 or 2 mins. 
  2. Add the icing sugar in parts and keep mixing on low speed.
  3. Add in the vanilla extract and scrape down the sides with a spatula
  4. Whisk the frosting another minute or two and keep in the fridge

Time to assemble the cupcakes.. Fill in your piping bag with the frosting. Use the star nozzle to create beautiful swirls. Red Velvet Cupcakes look ridiculously pretty with the delicate cream cheese swirls and they taste so so good.

 

 

 

Make these cupcakes for all your loved ones. Spread happiness and celebrate love all year long!

Bread Feast for Dinner

Focaccia is one of my favorite Italian Breads! You can bake it in no time. Tons of herbs and toppings, gives you tons of flavour. A wonderfully easy recipe, i usually end up making Focaccia and Soup when my husband’s not home for dinner (which is almost everyday, not that i’m complaining) or when I’m too lazy to cook! 

A big bowl of Tomato Basil soup and a Focaccia all to myself… gives me a great sense of comfort. 

 

Here’s the recipe. You will need:

  • 250 gms Refined
    Flour 
  • 5 gms Salt 
  • 5 gms Sugar 
  • 1 gm Improver   
  • 7 gms Fresh Yeast   
  • 15 ml Olive
    Oil/Garlic Oil 
  • 150 ml Water   
  • Kosher
    Salt as per taste
  • Freshly cracked Black Pepper 
  • Herbs 
  • Toppings (any topping will do – sun dried tomatoes/dried veggie mix/onions/olives/jalapenos/dried garlic/caramelized onions etc. This completely depends on your taste and how experimental you want to be with your bread). I go wild when i cook 😉
  1. Sieve the refined flour, salt and improver together.
  2. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in water and make a dough. Rest the dough for 10 mins.
  3. Add oil (you can even use garlic oil, gives it a great flavour) to the dough and knead with the help of knock back process. Cover and keep aside for proving.
  4. Lift the dough ball and place on a greased and dusted pan. 
  5. Now, dock the dough with oily hands and press them towards the corners, just how we make a fresh pizza. 
  6. Add herbs like rosemary, fresh oregano, chopped basil, thyme, chilly flakes or any herb of your choice.
  7. Add toppings – I used the dry vegetable mix that got from Turkey. You can read my blog and you’ll know which one i’m talking about. 
  8. Add Kosher salt and crack some pepper on top. Bake in a pre heated oven at 175°C for 20 to 30 minutes.
  9. Finish it with a drizzle of extra virgin Olive Oil, cut into wedges and serve warm. 

 

Focaccia makes a great bread for sandwiches. You can even serve it as a starter with some Hung Curd and Cheese dip at your party. Load it with cheese and broil till the cheese melts and… your cheesy pizza is ready, one to die for. I’m telling ya.. be careful! 

 

Hope you will try out the recipe and leave your comments. After all, blogging is all about learning from new people, new experiences, everyday. 

Many Turkish Delights.

Istanbul is the mystic hallmark that ties Europe and Asia since the ancient times. Without a doubt, Istanbul is certainly one of the most mesmerizing places I’ve seen! I had been planning the Turkey trip for over two years and like they say in the Law of Attraction, it worked… I think, consciously or unconsciously, I only prayed
to go for a holiday, and that too, to Turkey!

From the dipping rock formations in Cappadocia to the ruins of the Ephesus, from the warm thermal pools in Pamukkale to the sandy beaches of Antalya, visiting Turkey has been a surreal experience. Istanbul, in particular, is absolutely breathtaking. It seems like I’ve left a piece of my heart there and I keep going back.

The day used to start with a sandwich breakfast every morning. Bright red ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, variety of cheese, eggs and bread! I usually get bored of eating the same thing again and again. Though the breakfast spread was similar at
all locations; i didn’t get tired of eating even a bit. Take a look at the bright ripe
organic tomatoes… believe it or not, the tomatoes were as big as duce balls. I
was fascinated with these cutie patooties because in India, I haven’t really seen
such huge tomatoes!

 

The Spice Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest bazaars in the city. Vibrant spices along with jewel like Turkish delights, are an eye candy for thousands of tourists and locals who come here every day. I visited this shop called Mis Mis there. The
shopkeeper Akram Sam, a wonderful gentleman who ensured that he kept his
customers happy. I got to taste Baklavas and Fresh Turkish Delights. That one shop was a bazaar in itself – so many varieties of dry organic teas, Lokums (aka Turkish Delights) and spices. I ended up shopping and how!

Let me share few pictures of the specialties that I came across at the Spice Bazaar! 

Spices of course.. 

 

Turkish Delights 

Soft and chewy, Turkish Delights are best when tasted fresh. The most prominent flavours are Pomegranate and Pistachio. Other flavours include Saffron, Almond, Lemon, Chocolate, Figs, Rose and many more.

PS: Do not buy the dry ones. Loaded with confectioner’s sugar and taste bad. 

 

Dry Teas

 

Talking of teas, I miss few moments of silence & calm accompanied by a tiny glass of instant Apple Tea! An all-time classic, sweet with that crusty apple flavour, Apple tea is refreshing and delightful! It makes me happy in an instant.

 

Thank you Turkey, for giving me wonderful memories to cherish and a taste that will linger on for a while.

Breakfast Stories

Breakfast! My favorite meal – and you can be so creative. Breakfast is the time I splurge with calories, then I spend the rest of the day thinking how to get them off! Whether you friends and family around, a quiet little brunch for two, or an even quieter little brunch just for yourself, breakfast can set the mood and pace for the whole day.

My husband is picky when it comes to food and I have to decide the menu a day in advance giving me time to prepare for it. The husband is fond of heavy breakfast; so we have all kinds of Paranthas, Sandwiches and Poha cooking throughout the week. But what next… where is the change? What do I cook that is different? Something I haven’t made in a long time. And voila! Why not make Vegetable Uthappam with Green Garlic Chutney! Uthappam, a very popular South Indian dish is a pancake lookalike but in a savory form and is made with rice. A humble breakfast, Uthappam is filling and super delicious.

I’ll share my recipe with you, it is simple and easy to do.

To make the Uthappam Batter, you will need.

  • ½ cup Urad Dal (split black lentils)
  • 1 Tbsp Fenugreek Seeds (Methi)
  • 1 cup Raw Rice
  • 1 cup par-boiled rice
  • 2 Tbsp thick beaten rice (if available)
  1. Combine the Urad Dal and Fenugreek Seeds in a deep bowl, soak it in enough water for 4 hours.
  2. Combine the Raw Rice, Par Boiled Rice and thick Rice Flakes in a deep bowl, soak it in enough water for 4 hours.
  3. Drain the Urad Dal and Fenugreek Seeds and blend in a mixer to a smooth paste using approx. 1 cup of water. Transfer the mixture into a deep bowl and keep aside.
  4. Drain the rice, parboiled rice and thick rice flakes blend in a mixer to a smooth
    paste using approx. 1 cup of water. Transfer the mixture into the same bowl (as
    the Urad Dal mixture), add salt as per taste and mix well.
  5. Cover and allow the batter to ferment in a warm place for 10 – 12 hours.
  6. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate. Use as required. However, ensure that you use the batter within 3-4 days, else it will turn sour.
  7. With this batter, you can make a variety of Uthappams, Dosas and Idlis.

If you do not want to go through the tedious process of making the batter on your own, you may want to buy the fresh batter at any grocery store. You could also buy any Ready To Eat, dosa/idli mix. It’s the same thing.

To make 4 medium sized Vegetable Uthappam, you will need.

  • 2 cups of the Uthappam Batter 
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Tomato, finely chopped
  • ½ Capsicum, finely chopped
  • 2-3 Green Chillies, finely chopped
  • Fresh Coriander, finely chopped
  • Oil for cooking
  1. Heat the tava/griddle/flat bottom pan. Lower the heat and sprinkle some water to
    bring down the temperature.
  2. Remove from heat and pour a ladle or two of the batter, depending on how big you want your Uthappams to be. Spread to about 5”/6” circle and the thickness should be little less than that of a pancake.
  3. Quickly sprinkle the finely chopped veggies and fresh coriander. This is optional and as per taste – you can use any veggies of your choice, just ensure it is very
    finely chopped.
  4. Add about a tsp of oil/butter on top and a little around the sides for crispy edge.
    Let the Uthappam cook for about 3-4 mins on each side (on low heat).
  5. Remove from heat and serve hot with ketchup/coconut chutney/onion
    chutney/coriander chutney/garlic chutney/idli podi.

 

 

If you like the recipe and want me to post a blog on various types of chutneys/accompaniments, please do let me know. I’ll be more than happy to share my recipes and cooking experiences with you. 

After all, food connects us. It brings families and friends together, and makes us happy. It can be our comfort and also our worst enemy (ask me). Food is a necessity. And for that reason, it will continue to be a topic of conversation for generations to come.

One a Penny, Two a Penny, Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns, Hot Cross Buns

One a penny, two a penny…

Hot Cross Buns, Hot Cross Buns!

I took this nursery rhyme literally and baked these lovely buns. Traditionally
spiced with Cinnamon, these are sticky glazed fruit buns with pastry crosses. 

To make 10 average sized Hot cross Buns, you will need.

  • ¼ Cups Refined Flour
  • Tsp Salt
  • Tbsp Dry Yeast
  • Tbsp Castor Sugar
  • ½ Cup Luke Warm Milk
  • 30 Gms Butter
  • ½ Cup Tutti Fruity (Candied Papaya)
  • Tsp Cinnamon Powder
  • Tbsp Sugar for the glaze
  1. Sift the flour, cinnamon and salt into a large bowl. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in luke warm water with a tsp of sugar. In a separate bowl, dissolve
    the remaining sugar in a little water. Add both mixtures to the sifted flour
    and mix.
  2. Add the luke warm milk, a little at a time, till all of it is incorporated into
    the dough. Add butter and knead till the dough is soft and smooth. Cover
    with damp cloth and set aside till it doubles in size.
  3. Preheat the oven to 240 degree Celsius. Grease a baking tray and line it with
    some parchment paper.
  4. Knock back the dough and add the tutti fruity. Shape into 10 round buns,
    marking a cross on the top with the back of a knife. You can also cut very thin
    strips of dough and place them in a cross shape on top of the buns.
  5. Place on the greased tray and set aside to rise for another 15 mins. Bake for
    15 mins, till well risen and golden brown. Remove from the oven. 
  6. To make the glaze, mix the sugar with 1 tbsp of water and heat gently till the sugar
    dissolves. 
  7. Brush the buns with the glaze immediately on taking them out of the
    oven.

 

Slather the buns with butter and serve with a cup of hot tea! Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did making it!

Arabian Loaf Nights

Arabian Loaf – a rice and potato based bake-dish is a favorite in my house. I learnt how to make this at Mrs. Alim’s finishing school course I attended in 2002 (I still haven’t figured out why it’s called Arabian Loaf but it is)! It’s been 14 years since, and every time I’m back home in Kolkata (India), my family and my friends insist that I make it at least once. I’m glad to share this delightful recipe
with you. It’s yummy to the extent that you might just bite off your finger!

To make about 1 round 9″ tin bake:

For Rice Base:

  • 2 Cups of Boiled Rice (left over works just as fine)
  • 1 Cup finely chopped Onion
  • ½ Cup finely chopped Capsicum
  • 2 Green Chillies – finely chopped
  • 1 Cup of ground Cashewnuts
  • 1 Cup Bread Crumbs
  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • 1 tbsp Cooking Oil
  • 250 ml Milk
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp of Red Chilli Powder
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • Some Chopped Coriander
  1. Heat oil & butter together in a pan & saute the onions, chillies and capsicum.
  2. Add the rice, salt, pepper, chili powder, lemon zest & mix well. Saute for
    about a minute.
  3. Put the ground cashew and bread crumbs and again saute for a min.
  4. Add milk and mix well. I suggest that you use milk a little more than the given quantity as the bread soaks it up. 
  5. Adjust the condiments as per taste and take the rice off  heat.

For Potato Mash Topping:

  • 4 large Potatoes – boiled and mashed
  • 2 tbsp of softened Butter
  • ½ Cup Warm Milk
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  1. Mix the mash potatoes well with the butter and milk. Add salt & pepper as per
    your taste. [Use freshly cracked pepper for a nice peppery punch]

Assembling the Bake:

  1. Grease the bake dish with butter/cooking spray
  2. Layer the rice evenly to get about an inch and half thickness
  3. Top it with the potato mash (about ¾ of an inch or may be 1 inch thickness)
  4. Spread some melted butter on top and bake at about 180 degrees for about 10 mins and then grill for 15 mins to get a golden color on the potato top.
  5. Garnish with some fresh coriander and serve piping hot

 

 

Tip: For Non Vegetarians, substitute the cashew nuts with minced lamb/mutton meat.

Since it’s a full meal in itself, a bowl of light soup compliments it perfectly. Trust me, you make it once and you will have to cook it all your life on popular demand!