Holi, lets you be!

Holi hai! Holi is one such occasion that let us all go. As this Hindu festival marks the beginning of spring season and celebrates life with the triumph of good over evil, spreading the message of love, unity and peace. People across India enjoy this festival with vibrant colours, tasty food and great drinks. Holi calls for some interesting activities, eventually activating hunger pangs! You can play around with one of the unique yet staple ingredients – yogurt or curd, which is our very own desi dahi. This ingredient is extremely versatile and the numerous recipes that include it cater to all kinds of palates.

This Holi instead of serving traditional thandai to your guests, try out curd based recipes. Curd is easier to digest as compared to milk. It is also an option for people, who cannot tolerate milk, either because of protein allergy or lactose intolerance. This ingredient is used in both sweet and savoury dishes throughout India. Moreover, this ingredient is an excellent remedy for indigestion after you have consumed on mithais and other traditional dishes while rejoicing the festival. You can easily balance it out by dishing out some yummy curd recipes.

Did you know a good bowl of curd contains millions of microorganisms? Well, you don’t have to think twice before you reach for the creamy concoction as these microorganisms are ‘friendly’ bacteria that make the product good for health. Holi celebration starts early morning, which continues till late afternoon. So a bowl full of tadkewaali dahi chawaal will be very comforting. Why just curd rice, you can try out regular recipe with a tweak like dahi gujia or dahi idli.

For an instant preparation, you can dish out good fruit-based raita, which is made with ripe bananas. Chop bananas and add well-beaten curd. Add sugar to taste. It is nutritious filler after you have reveled in Holi celebrations.

Impress your guests and taste buds with unique recipe 
of Dahi Batata Puri
Dahiwala cake – Indulge in the divinity of this sweet dish
Enjoy chilled Yogurt Cocktail after a playful time

Go fusion this Holi! 

Happy Holi! Keep cooking and Keep eating and write back with your food experiences this Holi!

Fusion is here to stay…

Fusion dining is in! At my home, we have a mix of Punjabi preparations and Gujarati food at one meal…something like bharwan bhindi with thin rotlis and Gujarati Kadhi with pyaaz ke chawal. Fusion cuisine is a mix of two or more regional or international cuisines or it can also mean a perfect blend of variety of ingredients and cooking techniques to create a delicious fusion of tastes and flavours.

Fusion cooking is a delight! It creates magic and is fairly easy to do. When we combine a number of cuisines in one meal, we cater to the new generation of food choices and this is what the hospitality industry is capitalizing on right now. We have five star hotels giving a multi-cuisine buffet with a choice of fresh Italian pastas, Indian kababs and main courses, Chinese noodles and a mind boggling range of cakes, mithais and puddings. Take a look at Indian wedding menus – there is everything from live pastas and live Chinese stations to freshly made roomali rotis. These fusion meals are perfect for those who love to taste new foods and relish the different foods of the world. Well, it could also be a fusion menu taking different dishes from different states of India, giving the traditional foods a chance to be enjoyed in one single sitting.

Creating new tastes is the single most aim of fusion cuisine. There are immense number of possible combinations between culinary styles in terms of spices, sauces, fillings and recipe ingredients. Soy sauce is always linked to Chinese food, oregano to Italian food and tortillas to Mexican food. But now, all thanks to fusion cooking, there are no specific boundaries to typical recipes and there are holds barred for creating new sensational tastes. The best example is the Chinese food that is prepared in our country. The food is spicy, with sauces and vegetables that are not heard of in China. The final presentation is certainly not what authentic Chinese food looks like. But this Indo-Chinese cuisine is very popular simply because the fusion of ingredients caters perfectly to the Indian palate. Around the world, our Chicken Tikka is entering the European eateries and as you travel you could come across Chinese dimsums filled with a very English meat filling or even an Italian risotto strongly flavoured with ginger. Or cooking styles can be adapted: the French poaching method to cook a very Southeast Asian tofu.

The classic traditional recipes are being considered as ordinary by a big chunk of the hospitality industry hence the widespread choices of mixed cuisine. In order for the chefs to keep creating something novel and exciting for the patrons, it is essential to mix and match ingredients and come up with culinary wonders. A successful fusion is the one that can discover unheard of combinations and that can please most palates. Chefs who want to experiment with fusion cuisine need to research their ingredients carefully and think about how flavour and textures will combine for the patrons. Well, one could aim for novelty, but practicing a little restraint is also important because people’s likes and dislikes vary so widely.

Personally I enjoy making fusion foods. I have made a Gulab Jamun Cheesecake, Rasgulla Amrakhand, Chocolate Paan Rolls, Idli Satay, Uttappam Pizza, Shrimp Idli, Sichuan Parantha, Corn and Cheese Dosa, Tiramisu Ice-cream, Gajar Halwa and Sponge Cake Sizzler, Paan Kulfi, to name just a few. These are creative attempts to combine two textures, two flavours and present something new and exciting. When it comes to main courses, I have here for you some recipes to enjoy.

I strongly feel that fusion of two or more cuisines is New World Cuisine and it has encouraged culinary globalization and has increased cultural interaction through media and travel. Fusion cuisine has encouraged adaptation and has helped to expand the cookbook industry too. Furthermore, as people are becoming increasingly alert of healthier lifestyles, the idea of mixing the healthiest elements from a variety of cuisines has become appealing. I have authored a book on Indian cooking using olive oil as the medium.

Fusion food is on the rise and this is just the beginning and why not because combining the best elements of different food cultures would most likely produce a great dish, unless of course you decide to push the experimenting too far! Try some of these tried and tested fusion food recipes that should help you get into the flow of things.

Black Grape Pani Puri


Aloo Kulcha Pizza


Black Forest Rasmalai Cake


Happy fusion cooking!

Ghee is good

With the festive season already having begun, it is time for food and more food. Indian festival celebrations are synonymous with food and more importantly mithais and Indian mithais in turn are synonymous with ghee! You cannot really say you have experienced a true Indian meal unless you can smell the aroma of ghee and taste the gorgeous flavour of it in the dishes.

Ghee is to India what blood is to your veins! Right from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Gujarat to Assam, ghee finds use in culinary tradition in every part of the country. Ghee is nothing but clarified butter that is prepared by boiling butter and removing the residue. Ghee is healthy fat and is a natural byproduct of milk. It is used in several recipes across India and in some other parts of Asia and the Middle East. It can be used as a medium to deep fry, shallow fry, tempering certain dishes or just added on top of some dishes for the unique earthy flavor it provides. The aroma and taste of ghee are very characteristic and automatically makes the dish richer and heavier. Ghee can be easily made at home or you can buy it from several brands available in the market. It can be filled in an airtight container and be stored for several months without getting spoilt. These days, it is considered unhealthy and fatty which is not the case. Ghee does contain fats, but the fats in ghee are much better than those in butter or vegetable oils. However, those who suffer from obesity or have high cholesterol should stay away from ghee. Otherwise there is nothing wrong with including moderate amounts of ghee in your diet. There must be something beneficial about it because of which ourdadis and nanis are constantly layering our breakfast paranthas with ghee.

Let us see why, ghee is composed almost entirely of saturated fat. When cooking, it can be unhealthy to heat polyunsaturated oils such as vegetable oils to high temperatures. Doing so creates peroxides and other free radicals. Ghee has a very high smoke point and doesn’t burn easily during cooking. Ghee has stable saturated bonds and so is lot less likely to form the dangerous free radicals when cooking. Ghee’s short chain of fatty acids are also metabolized very readily by the body.

Lab studies have shown ghee to reduce cholesterol both in the serum and intestine. It does it by triggering an increased secretion of biliary lipids. Ghee is also good for nerves and brain. It helps control eye pressure and is beneficial to glaucoma patients. Ghee is most notably said to stimulate the secretion of stomach acids to help with digestion, while other fats, such as butter and oils, slow down the digestive process and can sit heavy in the stomach. Ghee is rich with antioxidants and acts as an aid in the absorption of vitamins and minerals from other foods, serving to strengthen the immune system. A high concentration of butyric acid, a fatty acid that contains anti-viral properties is believed to inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors.

It is good for treatment of burns. According to Ayurveda, ghee promotes learning and increased memory retention. While in a healthy person consuming ghee may reduce your cholesterol or not affect it, it is not advised for people already suffering from high cholesterol.

It is safer than butter. It has been used in Indian medicinal practice to help with ulcers, constipation and the promotion of healthy eyes and skin. Now you understand how Punjabis have tonnes of ghee and still are fitter.

So enjoy your festive mithais and treats without going on a guilt trip because – ghee is good!

Try some of these recipes with the goodness of ghee

Hyderabadi Parantha 
Namak Ajwain ka Parantha
Till I write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor