The great garlic!

It’s raining hard and you are having a freshly made vada pao with its dry red lasun chutney. This dry lasun chutney is the clincher. Remove it and you can actually start feeling bereft of the authentic taste of Mumbai’s soul food.

Lasun, lehsun, lasan, garlic…give it your name and it remains the same, good old herb that has tonnes of health benefits. It is anti-social because it has an odour but it is possible to go out with teeth properly cleansed even if you have just snacked on fried garlic pods.

Homely recipes
Fried garlic pods? Don’t I just love them when done in ghee. In Punjab, when the days are too cold, people still fry whole garlic pods on a tawa with pure ghee…the pods should turn a nice brown and once off the heat, sprinkle with a little salt. Have one with every bit of roti. Okay, have half or a quarter but do have it! It’s a blood warmer, it’s a heart strengthener and it makes brushing necessary! The same way, green garlic stalks are something Gujaratis simply love to use in the undhiyo in the winter season. Can also chop the greens and sauté them lightly in ghee and have as an accompaniment with dal and bajra rotla.

The strength of the clove
I recommend that this cousin of the onion, shallot and leek be treated with a sharp knife and you would know that the finer you chop the clove stronger will be the flavour in the recipe. In fact I love to rub a bowl with garlic and then mix my salad in it. The taste is just perfect: something between there and not there! Believe it or not, one raw garlic clove, finely minced or pressed releases more flavour than a dozen cooked whole cloves.

Oh for the love of it!
Talk about garlic and the word breath follows! What can be done for garlic breath? Some say chew parsley, some say stick around with people who eat garlic! In fact, I read somewhere that even today no one in the British Royal Family eats garlic (so as not to have breath that might offend), and as a result no one who works for them is a garlic-eater either. And in the other extreme there is a Stinking Rose Restaurant in San Francisco that serves only garlic dishes. Garlic Ice cream included. The proportion is three cups milk to quarter teaspoon crushed garlic and a lot of cream and sugar and egg yolks. But garlic flavour gets to it for sure! There is a restaurant older than this in Helsinki. This restaurant serves garlic cheesecake and garlic everything, even garlic beer. The restaurant was founded in 1987 and has been open every single day since then – they do not close even for Christmas Eve, which is most unusual in Finland!

The right choice
Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian. Wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian and lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese and garlic makes all food good! It’s hard to cook with garlic without getting some on your hands. After exposure, scrub your hands with salt and lemon juice, using cold water. Then rinse off with soapy warm water. And while shopping, choose garlic heads that are firm to the touch, with no nicks or soft cloves. If you notice dark, powdery patches under the skin, pass it up because this is an indication of a common mould, which will eventually spoil the flesh.

As garlic ages, it will begin to produce green sprouts in the centre of each clove. These infant green sprouts can be bitter, so discard them before chopping the garlic for your recipe. However, if you plant the cloves and let them sprout to a height of about six inches, you can use the greens in other recipes.

I have seen some people take garlic oil rather casually. If you have to store garlic cloves in oil do so under refrigeration to avoid potentially-deadly botulism bacteria growth. This garlic flavoured oil can be used as and when you need it. Other ready forms available are garlic salt and garlic paste. This saves you from peeling and preparing the cloves but if you have a good garlic press, you don’t even need to peel garlic cloves before pressing. Just place the unpeeled clove in the tool cavity, press and discard the skins left in the cavity.

Cook for health
Indian medicine has been using garlic as a remedy for many ills for more than 2000 years. Modern science also recognizes these qualities and garlic is suggested as an antioxidant. For the cook, garlic has many journeys to embark upon. A burnt garlic and mint chutney can make a kabab more heavenly just the same way garlic bread with lasagna is a veritable feast. And what about the teekhi teekhi red lasun chutney that puts life into the vada pao? Khao to jaano! Meanwhile try out these gorgeous recipes with the robustness of garlic!

 Chilli Garlic Fish Rice
Chilli Garlic Fish Rice

Lehsuni Paneer Tikka

Red Chilli and Garlic Chutney

Till I write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor

Thane launch of my ‘twin’ restaurants!

The latest avatar of The Yellow Chilli was presented to the people of Thane at the Viviana Mall at a glittering function in the evening of December 10, 2013. The spacious restaurant comprising of 110 covers is on the second floor of the mall, facing the main road. To top the offering is the open terrace seating which people of Mumbai and Thane love.

The entrance of The Yellow Chilli

First launched in 2001, with restaurants spread across India and outside its shores too, we, at The Yellow Chilli chain have been trying to serve our patrons with excellent and innovative Indian cuisine. Apart from the food, the common thread that binds all the restaurants is that the ambience everywhere is contemporary and chic with exquisite elements.

ICPL (Indian Cookery Pvt. Ltd.) which manages the The Yellow Chilli chain and my other restaurant brands, is making waves in the restaurant industry in India and abroad. We have already opened 30 outlets and would be adding substantial numbers in the coming months with many of them signed up in recent past.

To celebrate this milestone, we have unveiled a new brand Stir Crazy which has opened alongside The Yellow Chilli. This is like a new year gift to the people of India to cater to the need of a great all day dining oriental restaurant. Stir Crazy has been conceptualized into reality by my dear friend Rohit Narang who has years of experience in the Hospitality World through Ambassador and Mars Group. Stir Crazy is about food, family and fun. The star of the restaurant is a concept called ‘Marketplace,’ where guests choose their very own fresh ingredients, mains and homemade sauces, hand them over to the specialized ‘wok’ chef who then creates the dish right in front of the guests giving them their own signature.

Stir Crazy – an Oriental experience 

And as a grand finale, the festivities culminated into a magnificent dinner, a befitting end to an eventful day. Offerings from both outlets were at their best display.

I was delighted to be in Thane to launch The Yellow Chilli and Stir Crazy concepts. Thane has been always in my radar for opening my outlets and I am thrilled to start my new concept here. We always do a lot of research on menu and dishes to deliver exactly what our patrons want. Our food has always been created without using colours or preservatives, using the traditional art of tandoor, slow cooking and now, for Stir Crazy, fast wok cooking and state of the art steamed products to create mouth-watering delicacies that appeal to all. Both the restaurants are open from 12 Noon till 11 PM.

Make sure you try out these restaurants really soon, we have a got a whole new food experience waiting for you!

Till I write again.

Sanjeev Kapoor

Too many things…

Its 12.12.12 today…a special date to remember as it happens once a lifetime! Nothing unusual, just the usual happenings will go on as the day moves ahead.
First things first, attended the India Food Service Forum 2012 at Bombay Exhibition Centre this morning. Was invited to speak on the topic “bringing out the best of the food entrepreneur in yourself” to an audience with professionals including chefs, restaurant owners and food writers. It was really great to meet the zealous crowd and interact with them. Hope I was successful in inspiring them, as well I could!
Besides this, flew to Kolkata on December 7, 2012 for the first round of auditions for Master Chef India Season 3 and had a super time with my co-judge Chef Kunal Kapoor and the ever-enthusiastic Kolkata crowd. The city of joy always has great foodies to offer, and this time we managed to choose some of them to compete for the Master Chef Title. The next round of auditions is happening in New Delhi, so will be catching the flight on December 14, 2012 to be there, the competition already seems fierce with all the talent around and I can say that its going to be tough to choose the best!
Returned and had a lavish dinner at home with some close friends and acquaintances on Monday with a menu that included dishes like Mutton and Veg Biryani, Rawa Fried Fish, Palak Raita, Chocolate Shells stuffed with Mango and Saffron Mousse to name a few. Enjoyed the time to the fullest!
Also, our channel FoodFood is now on Tata Sky – so tune into channel 572 and enjoy your favourite channel and khushiyon ki recipe 24X7!
Yesterday, started with the auditions of “Maa ki Dal” with Chef Anupa judging the dal recipes at a housing society in Goregaon – a new programme, coming very soon on FoodFood. The shoots are to begin in the office studio from December 17, 2012 and to go on for three days.
Besides all this, Youtube shoots with some contestants of FoodFood’s “Secret Recipe” Season 1 are going on in the office studio along with some recipe trials in the kitchen to go on the website. “Mummy ka Magic” host and a dear friend Amrita Raichand will also be shooting some fun recipes for our Youtube channel very soon!
All for now, keep a watch at this space for more updates…
Till I write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor