As is my endeavour always to give you some good ideas for the weekend, here goes:
Here in Singapore with my assignment of Singapore airlines, whom I represent in panel for food in this part of the world, but have a little time to take up where I had left the blog the other day. They say all work and no play makes you dull. So to brighten up the ‘work’ atmosphere and to lighten up the work load we did something crazy the other day! Called the bhel wala in office and had a chaat party! Instant bhel, with no mess, to your liking, guaranteed fresh! And so filling too…. I am sure my team will remember this for a long time. Work continues on the photo shoot of the book for fussy kids and each composition is kid friendly.
So as lunch time approaches my tip of the day for summer eating! Yes, I remember. And by now the rate of downing glasses of water would have increased for all of you as the heat increases. But the digestive juices of the stomach have their own clock and let you know that it is lunch time, water or no water!
I suggest for lunch break – a colourful display. Take your pick and make choices. It’s agonising to make decisions when there is a plateful of thin watermelon slices as also a crunchy sprouted moong salad in a big bowl with a dash of lemon and the garnish of green coriander leaves. Sure is picture perfect. What should you do? Fill half a stomach with this. At lunch, the health gods say, fill the stomach three-quarters. So in the rest, (mathematicians would have calculated that only one fourth is empty) I would take a taste of a crisp pudina parantha sans ghee but with a little bowl of fresh yogurt, or take a skim off the saffron and spinach casserole which would be a gala tale of white sauce enveloping pasta, spinach puree, zucchini, broccoli, beans, fully flavoured with summery tastes put to the test in the oven. For those who prefer the fashionable ‘salad’ lunch try the Crostini creation made up of toasted bread flavoured with olive oil and rosemary playing hide and seek with slivers of summer beauties like tomatoes, cucumbers, coloured capsicums and lettuce. My favourite antioxidant salad is this one. Food like this, crunchy and healthy does help to fight the post lunch heavy eye lids.
Navratris have started – no onions, no eggs and no non-veg for next 9 days. Fasting, though a distant possibility, may happen on Ashtami and then gorging on halwa, puri and hare chane…..
Last assignment of the evening was meeting with our restaurant partner of ‘Sanjeev Kapoor’s Khazana’ of Dubai who specially flew down to discuss further plans. I am there in the first week of April for an event. Have lots in mind to do there.
Entire country was watching and waiting to hear the passing of Women’s Reservation Bill in the parliament today, but as has been happening for the last 14 years, today also it met it’s normal opponents and not seen the light of the day. A golden opportunity lost again!
As we prepare to get some food shots done for the book on recipes for fussy kids, let me tell you that the enquiries on how to get the little ones to eat are mind boggling! I am sure this book will be met with open arms…kids love food that looks good and for me presentation is paramount! I always think of the plate as an empty canvas that needs a pictorial representation. Most chefs prefer the classic white or earth tones as these complement all colours of food. Only recently have I started playing with coloured crockery as vivid as turquoise to offset maybe, a rich orange moist prawn preparation. I have also served hot spicy rasam in shot glasses!
It is easy to go overboard in garnishing the food. But the first rule of ‘keep it simple’ helps here. Garnishes are best made with edible items. Recently, we had to garnish a pineapple mousse. It was pale yellow, nearly cream in colour. Cherries are run-of-the-mill so we decided to use caramel art. Well, the sugar syrup went a little ahead than we expected and as the lights were set, the mousse ready to melt, we spun the sugar into wisps of sugar threads. Took a bunch and put it on the mousse. A bit of creativity is very satisfying!
The more popular garnishes like lemon twist or slice, cucumber twist, carrot juliennes, carrot bundle, spring onion whisk, red chilli flower, tomato wings and roses, chocolate and sugar craft can help you create some wonderful looking plates. Play around with two to three colours, never more, for it should be easy on the eye. Sauces also play a key role in dressing up the plate. Sauce can be served around or under the food and if you desire to pour it on top, pipe in thin ribbon form ensuring that the food is not hidden under it.
Presentation is the key to a successful dish. Here are my favourites:
Till I write again,
The Wonderchef event in Bangalore went off well yesterday. Flew down to Delhi in a couple of hours from Bangalore. Only going to pick up Mom from Delhi and then back in Mumbai by late evening Saturday.
We have been doing trials with some recipes that use wine in cooking for the new magazine. New vistas for our kitchen, for sure! And food and cooking is like a cauldron of excitement that has no bottom. In fact if I am ever asked to do a survey on cooking I would choose the topic of daily cooking being a daily chore. To state the obvious, cooking is a daily job so it may be a daily chore and why not? Not every person loves cooking (so what if the same person loves to eat!) and rustling up meal after meal with ingenuity does call for a lot of efforts and planning.
It is to be pointed out that not everybody enjoys new things at every meal…once in a while it is a refreshing idea to serve a new creation or a variation of the same old stuff. So if you are ready, the following pointers will help to make the daily cooking/chore a daily adventure.
Any leftover vegetable like paneer bhurji, baingan bharta, aloo matar ki sabzi or even leftover pulao makes good fillings for stuffed tomatoes. Prepare an array of tomato cases, capsicum cases and onion cases and fill them up. Give toppings of breadcrumbs and grated cheese and let the tray bask under the grill for a while. A very sumptuous and colourful dinner dish is ready!
If your children are fussy about vegetables, why not pierce carrots, tomatoes, paneer cubes, onion chunks, capsicum cubes onto metal skewers and grill them. For more show of creativity make fancy shapes from the vegetables and then skewer them. Brush with salted butter before grilling. Season with salt and pepper or even chaat masala and serve on a bed of lightly flavoured rice. What looks good to eat will definitely find favour with the kids!
The repetitive combinations of dal chawal, roti sabzi, rajma chawal, idli sambar, dosa chutney, chicken curry and parantha, chole bhature can all do with reincarnations. Let us take dal chawal. Serve it by all means but after mixing it in a casserole dish and tempering with chopped onions and beaten yogurt. Garnish with chopped coriander. Roti sabzi can be altered by turning them into closed packets. Simply place some sabzi on one half of the roti. Fold over to make the round edges meet and present a semi circle. Seal the open ends with a little water and make indents with a fork all over. Lightly fry on the pan and serve with tomato ketchup. I am sure even the adults will find nothing amiss in this made up fare!
Making of Holi Quiz for mobile service providers was fun. Everyone in office participated. Lot of non sensical things, questions, debates….. but Indian festivals are like that full of fun and less of definitions.
Till I write again
If you reside in Bangalore then there is a chance of our meeting at the Wonderchef, a business venture of mine where our objective is to empower women and earn money in the process by selling kitchen gadgets and accessories through my recipe shows. To promote this activity and give a stimulus to my people working in Bangalore and neighbouring areas, I myself would be there to interact with you all at Grand Magrath Hotel, Magrath Road, Near Garuda Mall, Bangalore on 19th February, 2010 from 11 a.m. onwards. So if you are looking for an opportunity this well could be your chance to start your own enterprise.
Simplicity sometimes enthrals! Well, in all humility, it enthrals me at all times! Had this rice Amma our cook had made yesterday: Tossed long grain basmati with grated cabbage, grated carrot and thinly sliced capsicum with only salt and pepper. Lovely flavours and very fragrant. I have thanked her for this new recipe! This also is a reminder that our Vegetarian Rice Special Feature is on line on www.sanjeevkapoor.com
As the book on Fussy Kids is ready for the printing house I go back to your queries about ‘how should we make our kid eat vegetables’! In every home there would be one story or the other about how kids have an aversion to vegetables! One can well think of peas lined up on the side of the plate or better still finding their way onto the neighbour’s plate. One friend’s dad (in his early 60s) first fishes out the mushrooms from the baked casserole and back it goes into the dish. Then who can blame children!
One has to think smart and then act smart too. Says my friend who is a practising paediatrician, children who eat fruit may be provided with the same minerals and vitamins as vegetables.
Let me tell you that a bit of trickery can always get those vegetables onto the plate. A puree in the ketchup can often go undetected as also grated carrots in dark honey cakes. Often it is felt that the child is not eating enough. Little does it strike us that one child’s serving can be half of an average adult’s. As in most homes, there is one child at least that avoids a meal…for the simple reason that the snacking around the mealtime has ruined the appetite. Here a bit of discipline is required. A few children thrive on fried foods. With potato chips, french fries, burgers and other Indian fast foods like wadas and pav bhaji being favourites, the parent is often worried by the lack of intake of proper nutritious meals. A sensible thing would be to keep fruit handy, all cut up in plate, around the kitchen area if dinner is likely to be delayed. The hungry horde will reach out for the fruit and in the process avoid less healthier in-between snacks. If the general feeling is that fat intake is on the higher side then skimmed milk can be given instead of full cream milk. And, of course, there is this brigade that screws up every little nose at the sight of a glass of milk! Despair not for a slice of cheese or a cup of yogurt supplies the same amount of calcium. Then outsmart them…slip in milk in puddings, soups and cereals.
Another battle front is sweets and chocolates. Ban them and they will eat at the neighbours or friends at the sly. Hence allow a quota and then no more. Kids are copycats…if the elders refrain from sweets the kids will soon follow. In fact this holds true even for the meals and eating habits.
Our kitchen has dished up a lovely lunch for our guests today who are here to take the TV Channel work a little bit further: we are having Pimento and Herb Rice, Grilled Chicken with Two Mushroom Sauce, Vegetable Casserole, Assorted Breads and Fruit Trifle.
Till I write again