There’s always something exotic or should I say romantic about chocolate cookies. They bring with them smiles and happiness no matter how small they are. The first bite is bliss, the second, heaven and by the third, you’re dancing with angels.
Social media is an amazing space. And Instagram has been one of my most favourite places to meet like-minded people. What I like most about it, is that the only connect that exists there is your likes, you care a damn about where the person hails from or what he or she does, if the people share your craziness you bond and hopefully are buddies for life.
One weekday morning last week I interacted with Jenny Montanez from San Francisco, California. She’s as much in love with food, if not more, as I am. A shot of a Mayan dish got us talking and she recommended I try the Pumpkin Seed dip, since it fit into my style of cooking. Called Sikil Pak, this dip is taking the food industry by storm and is being touted as the new guacamole! And why not, it’s easy to make and super nutritious, and more importantly the ingredients are not as difficult to find as a perfectly ripe avocado! And it takes 10 minutes to make, literally! It’s perfect dip for a last-minute addition to a party menu. Serve it with toast, flaky biscuits, crackers or even bacon strips! It’s yumm! As always I have added a few ingredients to cater to my party’s taste buds, keep the bacon out and you’re sticking with almost the original…:)
This orangy-version is a take on the recipe served at Bandalero in Washington, DC, owned by Top Chef finalist Mike Isabella.
This was the showstopper at a dinner date with 7 girlfriends and my sister! Nothing could be simpler to make and look so exotic that people actually start asking you for its recipe even before they have the first bite! At home, a Brie dish is always served as an appetiser, it’s a cheese that makes you look good. It’s exotic and it pairs beautifully with wine. This time however I took the brie a notch higher, yes that is possible, by pairing it with some glorious honey coated roasted figs. Honey and figs, a pair made in heaven!
If weather reports are to be believed the next three days are going to hotter than ever before.You’re not going to want to step out of the house, eat anything that’s full of spice and temper’s are going to be flying high. Need a quick cool down recipe…here’s one.
“Baked donuts!” Exclaimed my husband! Yes, why not..If everything can be made diet friendly why not donuts! Everyone’s making them these days and I’m going to try make them not just sugar-free but also with barley and oats flour!
And so the date was set, I had often made donuts the traditional way, but anything fried had been banned since my husband had decided to put his health before everything else…It did test my cooking knowledge, but it’s been a fun, learning process!
Most of the flours in the house have been replaced, Stevia, palm sugar and date syrup take up more space than any other sweeter, the deep-frying pan hasn’t seen the light of day for close to two years now! And most weekdays are all about grilled meats and veggies! And of course an array of fresh vegetables and fruit juices.
This dish has been one of the hottest selling entrees in both my restaurants. The name has appeal, the simplistic recipe allows you to enjoy the vegetables, it’s healthy so works with the crazy gym-addicts, and me, and it’s a looker!
Aubergine or brinjal is technically a fruit…and you can’t keep me away from fruits for too long. Full of vital vitamins, minerals, fibre and with the ability to lower cholesterol and help manage weight, brinjals have always been a hot favourite in my kitchen. And what’s even more interesting is the ease with which it can be used in any cuisine. Like, tonight, I’m trying a Sweet-Sour-Spicy Aubergine with Sichuan chilli, if I get my hands on it, and am going to serve it with brown rice noodles and a quick 5 veggie stir fry. But coming back to the brinjal, you’ve got to cook it right to prevent it from becoming a soggy mess.
There are few things in life that can be deterred to a later date. Baking is one of them. Just last night I watched two sisters, create an amazing flourless sugarless warm chocolate pudding with figs…yeah, it was a gooey mess, and i mean that in a very, very good way. The recipe by Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley on Hemsley & Hemsley had to be replicated in my own style.
Holi does call for delicacies and desserts! Given my penchant for no-sugar added cooking and doing something out of the box, I gave the traditional gujiya a twist! Gujiyas are nothing but sweet dumplings made of maida and filled with a delightful khoya and dry fruits mixture that are popularly made in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh during the festive season. Sadly, they are deep-fried in ghee and dipped in a sugary syrup! Not something I would cook in my kitchen and yet one has to keep up with tradition! I trapped my dry fruits mix in phyllo pastry and baked it! The sweetness came from the dry fruits and the crispy crackle of the pastry, just added to the delight!
Crackers are fairly simple to make and it’s rather surprising that I don’t make them as often as I should. On our trips to Europe we often stock up on these knäckebröd and bring enough home to last a few months. It’s when they run out that the quest for ready-made Indian varieties start and sadly I haven’t come across a single good gluten-free sugar-free variant as yet.
The wonderful thing about these crackers is that you can flavour it as you choose. Even the basic recipe is delicious, but when your kitchen is a store house of flavours from across the world, why would you let your imagination dry up? What I also enjoy about making these crackers is that its relatively stress free. Most Indian women are used to kneading dough, you just do it instinctively, yes I had to remind myself to measure the quantity of water I used when I developed this recipe. And the crackers get done in a flat 45 minutes, you need no yeast, no waiting for the dough to rise, no getting the temperature right..nothing. It’s as simple as knead, roll, cut and bake. And the end product is only 20 minutes away.
This recipe has been inspired by Ridhi, a colleague, who brought to work a no-bake Oreo Cheesecake. It was so simple to make that we decided to adapt the recipe for a cooking column I do for RobinAge, a weekly children’s newspaper. After all which kid doesn’t like Oreo or chocolate?
But me, being me, I decided to add a twist to it! Another colleague Melissa had brought along a bag of marshmallows! (It helps to work with an almost all-woman team, who love food) The pink and orange marshmallows found their way into this 10-minute gooey chocolatey dessert! Enjoy!