Times City Gourmet Week at Diva The Italian

July 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

Ritu Dalmia’s Diva group of restaurants have always been a favourite pick of mine when going out. One, I can count on the food being delicious, and two, as a vegetarian, I know I will have plenty of choice! Thanks to great initiatives like Times City Gourmet Week, one can know indulge in fancy food at wallet-friendly prices.

I was lucky enough to get a table at Diva The Italian restaurant last night for a lovely meal. With a three-course dinner for Rs 1200++ per person (lunch is Rs 1000++), it was a sweet deal.

 

I started with an appetizer of Arancine balls filled with a spicy cheese and tomato mixture. The crispy rice balls were served with a chilli and onion jam, which complemented them perfectly! The sweetness and the heat worked really well with the simple flavours of rice and cheese.

For the main course I chose Spinach and Ricotta crepes with Parmesan sauce. The presentation was surely different from the usual style of serving crepes. The crepes and the stuffing were quite nice, but sadly the parmesan sauce had no hint of parmesan. It actually tasted like yogurt and tomato puree. It was actually quite a shame because a nice rich parmesan sauce was just what those crepes needed.

My friend’s Liguine with crispy zucchini was definitely much better!

Finally it was time for dessert, and that was surely the highlight of the meal! A classic creme brulee served with coconut sorbet and macaroons. The creme brulee was just perfect, with a crunchy golden brown top and delicious vanilla-bean custard inside! The coconut sorbet was also delicious, with a lovely texture and just the right amount of sweetness!

Book your table at Times City Gourmet Week (15th-21st July) here - http://timescity.com/gourmetweek/

Where I’ve been!

December 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

This post has been pending for a long, long time. I’ve had many small breaks from this blog before, due to travel or shifting homes or just the lack of desire to cook when it’s too hot. But this break has a whole different story behind it. I never imagined that I’d be away from blogging for 6 months at a stretch…..but something kept me super-busy all this while. And when i was not busy, I was super-exhausted!

Some of you might already be aware, but for those of you who don’t have a clue…..the thing that’s been keeping me busy is THE GOURMET JAR! Yes, I started a small food business of my own 6 months back! :) It’s a range of gourmet food products that are completely handmade, fresh and preservative-free. The products include jams and preserves, granola and flavoured nuts. But the focus has been on the jams and preserves! Why, you ask? Because they are not your usual jams….they are boozy jams! Yeah, I’ve introduced a line of alcohol-infused jams in India! What I offer is super-fresh jams, preserves and marmalade, that are kicked up a notch in flavour with the addition of alcohol like rum, whiskey, cointreau etc! This is not to say that I don’t have a few flavours without booze….I do! Like Apple Pie Jam, Pear Caramel Jam, Mango Jalapeno Jam etc.

The whole idea behind my venture is to offer healthier, fresh, pure and natural products that are unusual and thus can help you brighten up your eating-at-home-experience! And of course, my aim is to keep the flavours as seasonal as possible, so you have something new to try every few months…..and for me, there’s always room for experimenting!

It’s been an amazing 6 months for me! I’ve already achieved more than I could have ever imagined…..and have learned so much! But there’s still a long way to go! And I’m enjoying every moment of being an entrepreneur.

To learn more about my new venture, please join my Facebook page here http://www.facebook.com/thegourmetjar I promise you it’s a lot of fun out there! And I will strive to blog here more often……am surely not going to have such a long absence again!

Restaurant-style Salsa and The SRC

May 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

This month, for The Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned the blog Baking and Creating with Avril.  Avril’s a lovely girl and care-giver from the United States, and her blog features many yummy recipes. One that I really liked was the S’mores Brownies. I finally made her Restaurant-style salsa.

I absolutely love salsa. Apart from the fact that’s so easy and quick, I just love the tangy taste and the flavour it can add to many different dishes, even the non-mexican ones! When I saw Avril’s recipe for the salsa which she in turn got from The Pioneer Woman (whom I adore), I knew I had to try it out.

And this one turned out delicious! The addition of sugar and cumin gave it a whole different depth of flavour, I just loved it! I think I added a tad too much of the cilantro, so it was more greenish than red, but it tasted awesome nonetheless. The only change I made was that I used fresh tomatoes instead of canned ones, and used canned jalapenos instead of fresh ones.

Ingredients:

8 whole tomatoes, roughly chopped

1/4 cup chopped yellow onion

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chopped jalapenos

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp garlic salt

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/2 cup cilantro

1/2 whole lemon, juiced

Directions:

1. Combine the tomatoes, onions, jalapeno pepper, garlic, garlic salt, sugar, cumin, lime juice and cilantro in the bowl of a food processor or blender.

2. PULSE until you get the salsa to the consistency you’d like.

3. Test with a tortilla chip for taste/seasoning and adjust as needed.

4. Refrigerate salsa for at least an hour before serving.

5. Serve with your favorite chips or cheese nachos.



Foodie Exchange

May 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

Last month I took part in something called The Foodie Exchange, a fun and interactive initiative by the lovely Charis of Culinary Storm. The idea behind it was to pair up food bloggers from different parts of India, and each person would send their partner a foodie care package with interesting food and/or non-food items, preferably something local and different. When Charis asked me if I was interested in taking part, I immediately gave my consent! It was sure to be an exciting activity!

My foodie partner was Poorna, a foodie n cook from Calcutta, of the yummy blog Presented By P. I was instantly curious about what Bengali goodies I could expect and what North Indian yummies I should send her. I must say that she was super-quick and I received my package just a week or so after the foodie exchange began! I was rather tardy in comparison, and sent out my package just a few days before the deadline.

I was thrilled to receive such a generous and diverse foodie package from her. Filled with different spice mixes, chutney powder, local namkeen and biscuits, pasta, noodles and finally organic incense sticks to help me relax while cooking!

Out of all the lovely items I got, I was instantly curious about the Sukto mix, something I had never heard of before.  Supposed to cool the body down in the summers, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

The other thing that I was thrilled to use in my cooking was the little pouch of Chinese fungus. It was indeed the icing on the cake for me!  Thank you Poorna for such a lovely package and my apologies for the delay in posting.

Wild rice patties and the SRC

April 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

The moment I got my assignment for the month of April from The Secret Recipe Club, I was super-excited! Why, you ask? Well, my assigned blog was Fried Ice and Donut Holes. With a name like that, I was sure it was going to a be a fun blog to go through! This blog is run by Melissa, and you must visit her About Me page to understand the name of her blog.

Though I spent a lot of time browsing through Melissa’s recipes, I knew very early on as to what I would be making. I stumbled upon this recipe for Wild Rice Patties during my first few days on her blog, and I knew this was it. The reason for that being, that I had brought back some wild rice from a trip to the US last year, and I’ve been looking for different things to do with it. The only thing I used it for till now was a Wild Rice Pilaf. Now you don’t get wild rice in India, and I brought back hardly half a kilo, so I’ve really been stingy in using it. For this recipe, I used a mix of red and wild rice. I also substituted the mushrooms with artichokes, as I’m not a big mushroom fan. It was a fairly simple recipe, but the patties did not really hold together very well, and I had to be extremely careful while turning them around. But the taste is so good, that you wouldn’t mind even if they break! The taste of the red and wild rice is so nutty, the texture nice and chewy, and the flavors were just perfect. If you can get your hands on wild rice, or even red rice, this is a must-try!

For 8 patties:

1 cup cooked wild rice, room temperature
1 cup cooked red rice, room temperature
1/4 cup artichokes, chopped
1 egg (I used egg replacer powder)
3 tablespoons Chives, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Mint, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
1/2 teaspoon Pepper
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
In a large bowl, whisk the egg. Add the rice, artichokes, chives, mint, salt, and pepper and mix well. Divide the rice mixture into 8 patties. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the rice patties to the pan, press down with a spatula, and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip the patties over and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown.



Pumpkin Pie and The Secret Recipe Club

March 26, 2012 in Baking, Cointreau, Desserts, Eggless

Can’t believe it’s already time for my 2nd Secret Recipe Club reveal! With a long holiday in between and setting up a new business, I’ve not even had time for another post between the two reveals. But I’m glad I was able to make the time and complete my challenge. Because the results were absolutely delicious!

This month, I was assigned Sarah’s blog Fantastical Sharing of Recipes. Her blog gave me a lot to choose from, and in the end I went with a made-from-scratch Pumpkin Pie. This was my first time making a pumpkin pie. I’d never even eaten it before. It’s something so foreign to India, you never really get a chance to have it unless you travel abroad or make it yourself. I have recently discovered my love for pumpkin, so I knew I would surely like a pumpkin pie. And I did. I really really liked it! Thank you Sarah!

I just made a few changes. Skipped the egg in the crust and used egg replacer powder for the pumpkin filling. I also skipped the cloves (not a fan!) and I reduced the sugar to 1/2 cup. The crust was nice and flaky, though I feel I could have rolled it thinner. But overall the pie was delicious. I just couldn’t believe it was pumpkin!

For the pie crust (makes 2 pie crusts):

3 cups flour
1 cup butter
1/2 tsp. salt
5 to 7 tbsp. cold water
1 tsp. vinegar

Directions:

Cut together flour, shortening and salt until it resembles cornmeal. Combine the water and vinegar in a separate bowl. Knead just until a soft dough forms. Divide into 2 parts, wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. When ready, roll it out.

Fit into a pie dish and use with your favorite pie.

For the filling:

1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 2/3 cup sweet condensed milk
2 eggs (I used egg replacer powder)

Directions:

Whisk sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, condensed milk and eggs into the pumpkin puree until smooth. Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie crust. Bake at 450 F for 15 minutes, then lower heat to 325 F and cook for another 45 minutes. Serve as it is or with whipped cream or ice cream.



Mint-chocolate cupcakes and The Secret Recipe Club

February 27, 2012 in Baking, Cake, Desserts, Eggless

I had been reading about The Secret Recipe Club on various food blogs since a while now. It was quite an intriguing idea to me, being assigned a food blog and cooking up some delicious recipe from their blog while keeping it a secret. And someone else doing the exact same thing from your blog! I wanted in on this group as well. So I signed up and waited for a couple of months to get accepted. I was thrilled to know last month that I was in and couldn’t wait to get started!

This is my very first time with The Secret Recipe Club, and I am super-excited about my first reveal!  I was assigned the blog K and K Test Kitchen, run by the mother-daughter duo of Kim and Kelsey. My first thought was about how sweet it was that a mother and daughter were doing something like this together. Then I spent much time browsing through their collection of recipes, being tempted by many, and not being able to decide what to make. Finally I stumbled upon a recipe for Vegan Mint Chocolate Cupcakes that I had to make. Them being vegan was a big draw. And they looked so good. Of course, I made them vegetarian and not vegan.

And the result? I can just say “wow”! They were so moist and fluffy, it was hard to believe they were eggless. I was a little worried when the batter was so thin, but they turned out absolutely fine. I took them to a friend’s birthday and they vanished in no time!

I did make a few changes. Regular milk instead of soy milk. Canola oil instead of vegetable oil. And I did a chocolate ganache frosting with powdered mint in it, instead of doing a chocolate ganache and then mint icing on top of it. I must say that the mint-chocolate frosting was finger-licking good!

For 24 Mint Chocolate Cupcakes:

Cupcake

2 cups sugar
1 ¾ cups flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
½ cup canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
½ cup boiling water

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

400 gms dark chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsps powdered mint

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

For the cupcake batter

In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the milk, oil, vanilla and vinegar, mix for 2 min. Stir in the boiling water. Batter will be thin. Pour into cupcake liners (about 3/4 full). Bake for 12-16 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely.

For the ganache frosting

Chop chocolate and transfer into a bowl. Heat the cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan, but don’t let it boil over. Pour the cream over the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute then stir until combined. Add the powdered mint. Stir until combined. Let cool until at spreading consistency.

Using a pastry bag, pipe the frosting on top of the cupcake (if you don’t have a pastry bag, fill a Ziploc and cut a tip).

Top with your favourite sprinkles and dig in.

© Veggie Wiz | All rights reserved unless otherwise indicated

Cointreau Chocolate truffles….three ways

February 15, 2012 in Cointreau, Cookies, Desserts, Eggless

Welcome to the all-new VeggieWiz! Yes….I have finally moved to my own domain. And yes, that’s what has kept me away from blogging for a while. It turned out to be a much bigger task than I imagined. And very time-consuming. And it’s still not done! But I was keen to get started on the new site, so here I am. Please do give me your feedback about the new look and website.

To celebrate this move, I have something sinful and delicious to share with you. A trio of Cointreau chocolate truffles. I made these as a Valentine’s Day surprise for the husband. And boy, was he thrilled! Truffles are a real delight. They are pretty easy to make and look so elegant. Perfect for special occasions or even as gifts. I used Cointreau to flavour them but you could also use cognac, brandy,  rum, Grand Marnier, or Kahlua to name a few. Or skip the alcohol altogether. Though I wouldn’t recommend it. A dash of alcohol gives truffles a yummy kick!

To coat the truffles you could use a classic like cocoa powder, a tough-to-handle one like tempered (melted)  chocolate, or choose something to give it added texture, like toasted and chopped Nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts), toasted coconut, shaved chocolate, or even cookie crumbs. I did a trio of cocoa powder, roasted almonds, and vanilla cookie crumbs.

For 25-30 truffles:

250 grams semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces (I used 40%)

120 ml heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons Cointreau

For the coatings -

Chopped almonds (roasted)

Cocoa powder

Vanilla cookies (crumbled)

 

Bring the whipping cream to a simmer in a small, heavy saucepan. Keep stirring.

Stir the Cointreau into the cream.

Place the chocolate in a separate bowl. Pour the cream over the chocolate, and allow to stand for a few minutes then stir until smooth, thus making the ganache.

Allow to cool, then place in the refrigerator for two hours.

Remove and with a teaspoon roll out balls of the ganache. Roll in your hands quickly and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in the refrigerator overnight.

Roll the ganache balls in the desired toppings and serve, or place back in the refrigerator until needed.

 

© Veggie Wiz | All rights reserved unless otherwise indicated

Singapore Take-Out in Delhi

February 14, 2012 in Event

When I got an invite to experience Singapore Takeout, a traveling pop-up kitchen on a global tour, I was immediately intrigued by the innovatove concept. The idea of a container traveling from one city to another and transforming into a kitchen with some great chefs dishing out Singaporean delights….I was sold! After making it’s way through London, Paris, Moscow, New York, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, Singapore Takeout delighted Delhi foodies at ITC Maurya from January 13th – 15th 2012. The next stop for the mobile kitchen would be Sydney. 

The event was organised by SPICE, Singapore International Culinary Exchange, an international gastronomic initiative collaboratively fronted by International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and SPRING Singapore. With the intention of establishing Singapore as a global culinary capital and a must-visit food destination, Singapore Takeout presents unique and exciting Singapore-inspired cuisine to the public. At each city, select Singapore-based chefs work together with chefs from each of the respective cities presenting dishes inspired by Singapore’s flavours and ingredients.
 
I waited with immense anticipation along with my other food blogger friends for the pop-up kitchen to open. And pop-up it did….literally! It was amazing to see the beautiful kitchen that was housed inside the big container. And even more interesting to see the three talented chefs working their magic inside it. 
 
Photo courtesy Prateik @ Snow Leapards Blog
During the three-day stopover, Singapore Chef Benjamin Seck from True Blue Cuisine teamed up with two top chefs from ITC Hotels, Chef Manisha Bhasin and Chef Rajkamal Chopra, to serve up a mouth-watering selection of Singapore-inspired dishes to Delhi’s culinary aficionados. The resulting dishes were a delicious fusion of Indian and Singaporean cuisine. 
Among other things, Chef Benjamin Seck made his vegetarian Popiah Goreng (deep fried spring rolls) filled with a filling of shredded cabbage and carrot. They tasted absolutely yummy with the sweet red chilli sauce. 
 
Chef Rajkamal recreated Laksa Pulao, which he showcased during the Singapore Takeout launch in Singapore in April 2011. It was definitely my favorite of the day. Laska pulao is so called due to the laska leaf that it uses. The laska leaf is an aromatic and citrusy herb bursting with flavour. Too bad that we don’t get it in India! But I was glad I got the chance to taste it that day.
 
 Photo courtesy Prateik @ Snow Leapards Blog
For 6 servings:
300 gms french beans
50 gms almonds
500 gms basmati rice
60 gms ghee (clarified butter)
30 gms laska leaves, chopped
20 gms turmeric powder
20 gms ginger, minced
20 gms garlic, minced
40 gms onions, chopped
3-4 green chillies, finely chopped
salt 
pepper
Trim the french beans, cut into two, and boil till tender. Remove and place them in ice water. 
Blanch the almonds, peel and then split them in half from the center. 
Clean and soak the rice in water for 20 mins.
Heat the ghee in a pan, add the ginger, garlic, onion and chillies. Sautee till the onions are translucent. Then add the turmeric, beans and laska leaves.
In a thick-bottomed pan, add the rice and 500 ml water. Then add the almonds, and sauteed vegetables paste. Season with salt and pepper.
Cover and cook on a low flame until all the water has evaporated and the rice is cooked. Serve hot garnished with fried onions.
Foodies can continue to follow the Singapore Takeout journey at www.facebook.com/singaporeeats

© Veggie Wiz | All rights reserved unless otherwise indicated

Celebrating Emilia-Romagna at Italia

December 15, 2011 in Italian

This winter, Italia, the Italian restaurant at DLF Promenade, is celebrating the cuisine and flavours of Emilia–Romagna, a region situated in the Northern Italy. The region is famous for its fresh & stuffed pasta like tortellini, lasagne, tagliatelle and cappeletti, and also polenta, a maize-based dish. The celebrated balsamic vinegar is made exclusively in the Emilian cities of Modena and Reggio Emilia, and my favourite parmigiano reggiano cheese is also produced only in this region.
I was lucky enough to sample their menu over a lovely dinner featuring the various authentic cuisines of this region in a way that is contemporary yet elegant. For antipasti, I had a Poached pears, grapes & gorgonzola salad, along with a Pumpkin mash with goat cheese mousse. The latter was a delicious dish with a good balance of flavours. For mains, I enjoyed a Tagliatelle with sundried tomatoes and beans, and a Creamy polenta with sage & garlic. The flavours of the Potato gnocchi with baby spinch and gorgonzola were quite delightful, though the gnocchi itself was a little doughy. Maybe it would have worked if the gnocchi was a little smaller. For dessert I had the Tiramisu of course. It was quite yummy with a good kick of coffee and rich mascarpone. Another delicious dessert was the Chestnut and chocolate pudding, rich and chocolately.
The menu also offers soups, gnocchi, risotto, pizzas and several interesting desserts. Try out the rich flavours of Emilia-Romagna and enjoy a delightful gastronomic journey at Italia!
Italia
2nd Floor
DLF Promenade Mall
Vasant Kunj
Delhi
© Veggie Wiz | All rights reserved unless otherwise indicated