Tag Archives: refreshing

Cold Soups This Summer

A hot soup maybe what we typically associate with a soup  or a broth, but there can be cold soups too. No better way, to beat the summer heat actually. And yes, it’s getting warm already. Yes, cold soups too can be healthy and delicious. There can be yoghurt based soups, soups which are merely a blend of ingredients and these can be pure refreshment, trust me.

Butternut Pumpkin Soup

Gazpacho, the refreshing combination of ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, olive oil, vinegar and garlic, is without a doubt my weakness. A quick lunch to cool and nourish field labourers in Spain, it is widely consumed today.

Cold soups can be creamy and rich, such as a Creamy Cucumber Soup, or chunky and chock-full of vegetables and even fruit, as in our delicious Watermelon Gazpacho. Take full advantage of summer produce, herbs and flavors and try some healthy cold soup recipes. And because these contains no dairy, these are extremely light and flavourful.

All the summer vegetables and fruits work wonders for cold soups. Carrots, Potatoes, Beetroot, Asparagus, Avocados, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Melons, Sweet potatoes, Strawberries, garden peas, Squash, pumpkins are few but not limited ingredients used for cold soups.

A useful tip a chef once gave me. The ingredients used while making these cold soups should either contrast or should complement the flavor.

I enjoy a potato and leek cold soup. No, am not talking about a Vichysoisse. That has cream in addition to the other ingredients. Even cucumber-based cold soups make a great meal and are quick to prepare. Beetroot soup is refreshing too, more so when the beetroot is roasted. The flavour is absolutely unique.

For cold soups, one must use good quality veggies, as the taste and flavour of the soup is marred. It is also important to season these soups well. So go ahead and cool yourself with some tasty soups.

 

 

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Simply Refreshing : Vietnamese Pop Up at Shiro

Vietnamese cuisine is fairly new to India and still relatively lesser known, but fast gaining popularity. Five Star Hotels and stand alone specialty Pan Asian restaurants are the only ones who generally serve this cuisine in metros.

The Vietnamese pop up at Shiro, in Mumbai, led by Chef Vu Dinh Hung from Ho Chi Minh City seemed like the perfect opportunity to step into the restaurant, after a somewhat long gap. Of course Chef Vu had trained the team here headed by Chef Sameer Juvekar and left. Yet, the entire meal served to us was authenticity personified.

This simple but flavourful cuisine, has borrowed a lot from China, Thailand and of course  has an obvious French influence too. But all to its advantage.

We began our meal with the customary summer salad rolls  comprising  vegetables, bún (rice vermicelli), & other ingredients wrapped in Vietnamese bánh tráng (rice paper). These truly were a refreshing start as it was light and easy on the stomach. The burst of crunchy veggies in the rolls felt good to bite into. Ours were the prawns and crabstick ones, but Vegetarians have an exciting Tofu option.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls - 07

Cha gio, or the spring rolls with vegetables came next. Unlike the Chinese spring rolls, these are lighter and easier to digest. One has to wrap them in a lettuce leaf and dip into the sauce to relish them in the traditional way. These surpassed our expectations. Absolutely extraordinary flavours and gave a boost to our palate.

No Vietnamese meal is complete without Pho and I must confess, I was secretly awaiting its arrival. Pho is a popular noodle soup, made with rice noodle, herbs, broth and chicken. It is filling, yet, not a complete meal. In fact it is quite light and refreshing. The dash of chilies and the paste added the right amount of zing to it and perked our taste buds beyond compare.

Olive oil, lots of tomatoes, Italian basil, pistachios, all have a large presence in Hung’s dishes, we discovered. Along with these, he mixes Western foods with Asian ingredients in his signature dishes to give them a contemporary twist. I loved that as he obviously does a perfect job of it.

The BBQ eggplant took us completely by surprise. I was reluctant to try it but with its unique marinade and copious amounts of peanuts and grilled to perfection, it turned out to be one of my favourites that evening. As in our baigan bharta, the eggplant flavour was masked, and yet distinctly enhanced.

Vietnamese Chicken Curry - 06

A mildly flavoured aromatic chicken and potato curry with steamed sticky rice followed. It was strongly reminiscent of the Thai curry minus the galangal and lemon grass of course.Vietnamese curries are made with freshly ground spices as opposed to pastes. Totally my comfort food. Relished it. Could have been a bit more spicy though.

Although each dish we were served, was savoured by us, but they had saved the best for the last. The glass noodles had an eclectic flavour. The myriad textures- crunchy, creamy, teased our palates and made us crave for more. It was a compete meal in itself, although Chef Juvekar, generously sent us some clay pot fish which had subtle saucy flavours and was equally delicious.

The chef’s creativity knows no bounds. The chocolate fondant with figs ( my first ever) was delightful and decadent. What a fabulous combination I thought, it was. The cream and crunch were married perfectly. The molten chocolate filled our mouth and we were satiated beyond words.

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The chef transported us to Vietnam through his culinary journey. Even after a meal comprising so many dishes, we were not uncomfortable. That is the beauty of a Vietnamese meal. The fresh ingredients have a lot to do with this. A memorable meal, I shall always cherish. On till April 26, pop by to experience this unique pop up:)

Rating: 4/5

This Taste of Lebanon Still Lingers…….

Falafel’s, the Lebanese Haus, I heard had undergone a menu change. Why I wondered, as I loved its offerings anyway. One of the few places in Mumbai serving authentic Lebanese fare, albeit with a bit of a contemporary twist. A new exciting outlet at Gowalia Tank in South Mumbai  was what was the reason. And yes, there were some menu changes too, but, with the regular favourites in tact. Now that was a huge relief.

Their commitment to healthy, quality fast food has made them a favourite of many and I am no exception. I decided to check it out. I made my way to the small, bu swank QSR outlet at Gowalia Tank.

The falafel section in the menu, had increased, with some exciting options. There were some new multi-grain wraps too.

I opted for the Greek falafel and my colleague for the Mexican one. Mine came in a whole wheat pita and his in a wrap.

Hummus Platter

The falafels were crisp and the filling absolutely authentic. The soaked chickpeas were well grounded and seasoned with onions,spices like parsley, garlic, cumin and coriander et al. The fresh and juicy salad and sauces along with it were equally delightful. An exciting array of flavours flooded my mouth. An extremely filling meal it turned out to be.

The repertoire of hummus and dips that have been added are astonishing. I particularly loved the spicy tirokafetri.

The lemonade too was much more refreshing than before. It clearly has undergone a makeover.

Chocolate Nachos with vanilla ice cream is a new entrant. The dessert section now looks good. The nachos, made in-house are exquisite. Perfect texture and taste. Swathed in chocolate sauce, these were sinful. The ice cream however was a bit disappointing and took away the oomph factor from the dessert.

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A special mention must be made of the Oreo Date smoothie, which was more of a dessert for me rather than a thirst quencher. The balance of the two main ingredients was perfectly achieved. Not too sweet and yet, the taste of the dates was evident. Utterly refreshing. Kids are going to love this one. Full marks here to the chef.

The menu has a myriad options to tantalize various palates. Salads, wraps, hummus platters, combos, little bites. A plethora of options to choose from. There are Jain dishes too. For Lebanese cuisine to make this offering. is indeed unparalleled.

The overall experience at Falafel’s was a memorable one, both in terms of service and for the palate. I can’t wait to have one closer home in Oshiwara again.

Rating: 3.5/5