Innovate with Super foods!

Innovation station has become a tradition for us at office! For those of you who don’t know about it, it is a cooking face-off between the extremely talented chefs at office held every year for the past 6 years. This year we went two steps ahead and included all the staff to be a part of it, everybody from accounts to production to editorial, put on their thinking caps and cooking aprons to come up with some fabulous dishes using super foods as main ingredients!

Each team was provided with one super food each, which was expected to be the star of their recipe. At the same time they were allocated a limited budget, time slot and had to face the pressure to plate up a never seen before dish in competition with colleagues. With 5 chefs heading the five teams, there were some extraordinary recipes that we had the pleasure to taste and a very difficult time judging. After much deliberation all of us picked a winning recipe and a winning team.

The Winning team! – Their recipe was called Beet it! This team led by chef Siddharth made a the most delicious lava cake with beetroot and white chocolate enclosed in a lovely spun sugar nest, it came with a creamy beetroot ice cream.  What enhanced this was flambéed rum poured over the sugar nest which caused it to melt and reveal the lovely lava cake and infuse it with more flavour. This dish was a perfect mix of the right textures, flavours, temperatures and felt like a party in your mouth. All in all a brilliant food eating experience!
Beetroot Lava Cake (white chocolate and beetroot lava cake, sugar nest, beetroot ice cream and beetroot chips)

Beet It
Runners Ups – Chef Shalaka put in all her years of experience in the hotel industry to create a platter so beautiful, that we admired it for a full 5 minutes before actually digging into it. With the main ingredient as Kiwi, they made a chicken roulade filled with a delicious tangy kiwi salsa served with a number of other components like a kiwi and feta leather pouches, beetroot caviar, delicious mushroom foam, and some pretty looking edible flowers and micro greens all washed down with a kiwi caprioska. With so many interesting components and flavour profiles this dish was great to taste besides, being a beauty to look at!  The dish scored full marks for presentation and spelt innovation in the true sense.

Kiwi salsa with chicken (Mushroom Foam, Feta Kiwi Leather and Kiwi Caprioska) –

Kiwi Salsa With Chicken

The enthusiasm and the spirit in which the entire competition happened, makes me feel proud to have such a talented and enthusiastic team of people to work with! They say when competition is healthy and it is fun, there is no losing involved; everyone is a winner so here are the other recipes that were part of Innovation station 2014 at Office.

Misthi Doi Pannacotta

Mishti Doi Panacotta (served with a yogurt brittle, yogurt mawa waffles, yogurt truffles and a khuskhus rabri)

Sweet Potato Mille Feuille with Cheese Sauce
Sweet Potato Millie Feuille with cheese sauce ( along with a sweet potato rosti, sweet potato falafel, and a sweet potato filling)

Tricolour Quinoa Timbale with Tomato Sauce
Tricolour Quinoa Timbale with Tomato Sauce ( grilled zucchini strips, pesto quinoa, tomato quinoa, mushroom quinoa and a cheese quenelle)
These recipes are great to taste and with a little practice, you should be able to make these in your home kitchen and if you do, let us know how it turns out! Also here’s wishing everyone a very happy and prosperous Diwali!

Basmati, the queen of rice

Basmati when literally translated means, queen of fragrance. If I walk into a home which has the aroma of Basmati being cooked wafting about, I surely don’t need much persuasion to stay back for a meal. So irresistible is its appetite stimulating fragrance!

In India, whenever there’s a happy occasion or there are guests over for a meal, out comes the Basmati rice. Duly soaked in water before going in for the boil, seasoned with aromatic spices, ghee and vegetables, it is truly food for the gods! As mentioned earlier the fragrance and taste of Basmati rice is so divine that it really doesn’t need any other enhancer, but yes, adding spices and other elements makes it even more appealing. The perfect rice for cooking up a pulao or a biryani, the Basmati even by itself is a great accompaniment with curries and yogurt.

Basmati rice in India comes from the Himalayan foothills and Madhya Pradesh. Some varieties make their journey from Pakistan. There are some key factors I look for while buying Basmati rice. I rub the grains of the rice in my palms and the aroma it releases tells me that the rice quality is good, and I am particular about the length of the grain too. Usually Basmati grows twice its original size post cooking, its best if the grains are uniform in size, so that it cooks evenly.  I have found all of these qualities in Daawat Basmati rice. So, in packaged rice, I go for Daawat Rice. It’s hygienic and branded. Don’t forget to check the packaging date, you don’t want expired rice.

I have often been asked about the right ways of soaking and cooking Basmati. Well, one has to remember it is only soaking the rice that will bring out its length and breadth. First wash the rice under running water 2-3 times. This removes starch and ensures that the rice does not stick. Do not rub it too hard while washing as the grains may break, be gentle. Post washing, soak it, the level of water for soaking should be an inch above the level of the rice. Soaking time is 15-20 minutes, whatever the quantity. After which drain off the excess water and let the soaked rice stay in the same bowl till you are ready to cook.

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There are two ways of cooking rice, one cooking by absorption method and the other is cooking by draining. If the rice is soaked for a good amount of time, the rice doesn’t take more than 15 minutes to cook. In the cooking by draining the water method, we can get to know if the rice is cooked by feeling the grains to see if it’s done. A batch of well cooked rice will not be sticky and you will not feel the hardness in the center. It will not have a mushy texture. Many bachelors and spinsters enquire with me on how to find if rice is well cooked.  It is simple, always add water in 1:2 ratio while cooking rice. If rice bends a bit when you press it; with your finger, know that its well-cooked, but keep in mind if you add too much water, it is sure to take revenge. Also, cooked Basmati is fragile, so don’t over mix it and handle with care.

Daawat, the specialists of the rice industry for decades brings to you Basmati rice in many varieties. Rice with aroma that stimulates appetite, grains that are extra-long and slender, sweet to taste, soft texture and extra elongation breadth wise, upto 24 mm post cooking! Daawat follows the unique Octa-Q process which guarantees perfect grains in every pack. Be it sourcing, ageing, milling or processing, quality is of paramount importance here.

Daawat also has different varieties meant for different dishes, like there’s a variety for biryanis and a separate one for jeera rice and pulavs. What’s more there’s a range of Basmati rice called Rozana that is meant to be eaten every day!

Basmati rice need not be used only for pulaos and biryanis; there is a mindboggling range of dishes that can be prepared with it! Try making rice stuffed parantha or even cooked rice fritters or with leftover rice.  Now shouldn’t Basmati rice be a regular part of your daily plate?

Try these delicious recipes using Daawat Basmati Rice and do let us know how they turn out!

Indian Traditional Steam Rice
Simple Jeera Pulao
Chicken Biryani Hyderabadi
Fried Rice
Vegetable Pulao


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