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

 

A chocolate affair!

I always come across people who have a keen interest in making chocolate and chocolate recipes at home, but, are somehow always afraid to try their hand at it. Chocolate as a commodity has always been a mystery, as it is not an easy ingredient to handle when we want to make something out of it. It has always been considered to be an alien ingredient, but not anymore. You won’t need to admire these delectable creations from a distance at bakeries and chocolate shops anymore. They can now be made by you, in your home kitchen.

Here are a few tips and pointers that you should keep in mind while handling chocolate.

How chocolate should be melted and handled

•Chop large chocolate blocks into smaller pieces and put in a plastic bowl. Avoid using glass or stainless steel bowls as they cause uneven heating.

•If using a Microwave oven, place the bowl in it and start the melting process from 40 seconds at 50% intensity of the Microwave. Then, take the bowl out, stir and continue this process till the complete chocolate is melted. Please do not ever keep for longer time at higher temperatures as chocolate needs delicate treatment.

•If using a double boiler, take a medium height pan filled one-fourth with water and heat it. When the water is at a simmer, reduce heat to minimum, place a bowl that fits on the mouth of the pan and start putting the chocolate in it to be melted, little at a time. One important point to remember here is that you should not boil the water as it will affect the viscosity of the chocolate and steam from boiling water may play havoc. Keep stirring the chocolate pieces till completely melted.

•Remember, water is the biggest enemy of chocolate! Especially, when the chocolate is being melted for use in confectionary, candy making, tempering, etc., you should be very careful that not even a single drop of water gets into it. But if this happens by mistake, keep it aside to use in recipes where it is only an ingredient, and start afresh.

•Check for blooming and any odours in the chocolate bars. When chocolate is exposed to warm temperatures, the fat softens and chocolate is then untempered, causing light grey or white areas on the surface of the chocolate. Also, sometimes you might find small white dots on the chocolate, which is due to condensation.

•Avoid overheating of chocolate as it results in making the chocolate thick after melting.

•If there is a loss of colour in the chocolate bars, this may be due to changes in the light, temperature and humidity.

•The preferred working temperatures in the Indian scenario is around 20°C with humidity not more than 50% and preferably on marble work tops. Marble helps keep the chocolate cool.

•It is always good to work with clean kitchenware and work tops when handling chocolate and also advisable to keep some kitchenware separate (especially in Indian kitchens where interaction with masalas will give unwarranted flavours to your chocolate) that can be used when working with chocolate.

•And this one is for all chocolate lovers – always remember to look at the ingredients printed on the packet. Chocolate with natural cocoa butter rather than vegetable fats is always more healthy. Not to forget, chocolate is good source of energy at any given time.

How to store chocolate
Now that we have travelled through the processes of making of chocolate and handling it, there is one more aspect that is left which is really important when working with this sinful ingredient, and, that is the storage. The following pointers will help you tackle the issues of storing chocolate perfectly:

•In the Indian climate, ideally chocolates should be stored at temperatures ranging from 15°C to 20°C at humidity not more than 50%.

•The best way to store chocolate is to put the original packing in plastic wrap, cling film or zip lock bags, place them in airtight containers and put in the refrigerator. One important point to remember is that you should never keep the chocolate in a deep freezer, as this may spoil the chocolate because of condensation that may occur.

•It is also advisable to store chocolate away from strong odours as it may absorb the strong smells from other items, thus spoiling its own aroma.

•Then for application of refrigerated chocolate, the best way to use it is to keep the chocolate at room temperature for about ten-fifteen minutes (to avoid temperature and humidity shock that may cause condensation and thickening) and then open the packets.

By now, I am sure that your interest in this wonderful ingredient has risen further than what it was before and you are now confident of trying your hand and cooking skills to dish out some amazing chocolate recipes in your kitchen. Once you keep in mind these basic tips, making chocolate concoctions in your home will be a breeze. For more chocolaty recipes you can refer to my book aah! Chocolate. It is a collection of chocolate recipes ranging from beverages to cakes to mithais all involving chocolate. As of now here are a few recipes to get you started…

Choco Coconut Ladoos
Choco Cups
Chocolate Almond Bar
Happy cooking!
Sanjeev Kapoor

Sweet offerings for Diwali

As Diwali draws near, there is so much talk about making mithais at home this year! Well, kaju katli is a personal favourite but let us veer away from the ordinary and make Badam Katli.
Of all nut based mithais Badam Katli is becoming quite a rage. And at one time I used to wonder why? And then I decided to go a little bit in depth researching it. The best is made of a delicate mixture of coarsely ground almond powder and powdered sugar. Some more in-depth research gave me the info that the almonds should be of topmost quality as also the grinding of it be done in short bursts of the grinder so that the heat generated does not harm the flavours which will begin to emanate once the almonds undergo the grind. Badam Katli, per se, is dull in colour, the upper layer prettied up with silver warq, shaped like diamonds and more important, as thin as one eighth of an inch.
For me the best Badam Katli is the one my wife Alyona makes at home. I have always maintained there is nothing like ghar ka khana and that is the absolute truth. Not only that, one can get more quantity for a lesser price! So this Diwali, let’s roll out sweet carpets of silver covered badam katli and treat our loved ones to home made mithai. For more such recipes click on Kaju Katli, Blueberry Sandwich Katli, Badami Besan ke Laddoo
How to make Badam Katli:
Blanch 250 grams almonds in two cups of boiling water for five minutes. Drain and peel. Spread the almonds on an absorbent towel to dry. Once completely dried, dry roast the almonds in a non stick pan for about seven minutes or till fragrant and light brown. Cool and powder. This makes (yield 190 grams). Cook 190 grams (¾ cup) sugar with three fourth cup of water in another non stick pan, stirring continuously till the sugar dissolves. Add 1 tablespoon milk and when the scum rises to the top, remove it with a ladle and discard. Cook the syrup till it reaches multi-thread or hard ball consistency. Take the pan off the heat and add the almond powder and 1¼ teaspoons liquid glucose and mix well. Continue to mix till the mixture is smooth and pliable. Transfer the mixture onto a flat surface and spread to cool a bit. Knead with your hands. Grease a table top with ghee and roll out the mixture to about quarter inch thickness taking care that the same thickness is maintained throughout. Rub the surface with butter paper. Decorate with silver varq, cut into diamonds and serve.

Juggling between schedules!

November is over, and finally we feel the chills of the winter (even if it’s only after sunset!). But for us Mumbaiites even this much is more than enough, atleast we get to say that finally, for us also, “the winter has arrived!” Try out some of my winter favourites like Ginger tea,Chettinad fried chicken and Wholesome khichadi.
Besides this, I surely am looking forward to an engaging and exciting schedule which is waiting for me in the weeks to come. Just like this morning, I started pretty early with a 9.00 o’ clock shoot with Bloomberg TV for a programme titled Smart Money on the sets at our in-house studio. Here, I spoke about why people should invest in food and restaurant business.
Immediately after this I had to catch up the promo recording for Canada Radio for the promotion of the food products for which I am supposed to travel to Toronto in the coming days. Unfortunately, the shoot extended and I could not complete it and had to postpone it for the evening.
Next on the schedule was my one-to-one interview with the electronic and print media at Taj Land’s End, Bandra for my upcoming TV channel FOODFOOD. While I rushed for this event, I found out that coincidently today’s HT Café, Mumbai also has a news piece about the upcoming channel.
Starting tomorrow, for the next three days I can already smell the busy air around me. I will be caught up with the shooting of my new show on a new set for the new channel. I hope to do something majorly different this time than the usual Khana Khazana that I have been religiously doing on ZeeTV for the last 17 years.
And amidst all of this, there has been extensive shopping going on for all this. So, everybody else is also enjoying and having a gala time!
As I wind up, happenings at our office include the visit of an expert halwai from a leading brand. He was here last week to demonstrate the art of making mithais to our chefs. I’m sure the Rasgulla, Cham Cham, Rajbhog, Rasmalai and Malai Sandwich which he taught, satisfied the sweet buds of everyone in the office!
Till I write again…
Sanjeev Kapoor

Ludhiana meet was a grand success. There were around five hundred people who were curious to know more about diet sugar and how their love for mithais can be sustained continuously! I know we Punjabis love to eat and do not want to skip out on the meetha part of the meal but with health problems there has to be some sacrifice. I was actually happy to see that so many are becoming health conscious as also so many are willing to learn about new fads in foods!

Post session, I went over to The Yellow Chilli restaurant for some one-on-one press meets. The train ride from Ludhiana to Delhi was restful and I did manage to catch my forty winks. As this new month begins I am sure all of you are already planning the dates of your massive cleaning operation pre Diwali!

And then, some plans for the snacks and sweets too! I see a lot of cookies and chocolates as the new gifting ideas in the market. But, let me tell you, friends, nothing like something simple and homemade food to convey season’s greetings to your friends. I am going to provide with some easy to do, tasty Diwali treats that you can try out.

So keep logged in as http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com welcomes the festivities!

Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor