Tag Archives: summer

A Superlative Menu

Salads are not all that you need to eat when following healthy dietary habits. I am all for eating healthy food, yet, food packed with nutrients and flavours. Yes, taste is key. Insipid and bland food does not meet approval with my palate.

Thus, the new Super Foods Menu introduced by TGI Fridays, the global casual dining leader,  caught my attention and immediately I set out to explore this at the Palladium, Lower Parel, Mumbai outpost.

The menu, for 3 months, though limited offers enough variety. I noticed, that the offerings had super foods like beans, broccoli, blueberries, salmon, spinach, tomatoes, walnuts and yogurt in abundance. Being natural ingredients, these are loaded with excellent nutritional benefits.

Wasabi Miso Glazed Chicken, Salmon with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce, Cranberry & blueberry couscous and Kale were some of the unique dishes. What was interesting was that, appetizers, entrees, sides and desserts, had all incorporated super foods in some form or the other, thus making the entire menu healthy.

The Fruits & Nuts Super Salad made with crisp lettuce, spinach, broccoli topped with walnuts, apples, dried apricots, cranberries, and blueberries, was a delightful medley of flavours that wowed my palate. No where was there any monotony at all.

Wasabi Miso Glazed Chicken

Next, I tried the Wasabi Miso Glazed Chicken. Bursting with simple and subtle flavours, this, lemon and olive oil-marinated grilled chicken breasts were drizzled with a spicy wasabi miso sauce. Served with toasted almond, cranberry and blueberry couscous and ginger garlic kale, this was a power-packed meal in terms of taste and nutrients. I only felt that the portion of the kale was a bit too much for the meal. One can only enjoy a certain amount of kale.

Pomegranate Honey Mustard Salmon cam next. A hearty portion, I thought to myself. Again, a lemon and olive oil basted grilled salmon filet topped pomegranate honey mustard vinaigrette. The tangy flavour were unmistakable, yet, teased my palate sufficiently.  The salmon was of exceptional quality and grilled to perfection. Unfortunately, the novelty factor of the toasted almond, cranberry & blueberry couscous and ginger garlic kale had worn off by now. Yet, I savoured the couscous.

Pomegranate Honey Mustard Salmon

Vegetarians need not despair. They can relish the Vegetarian Tex Mex Chili made with chipotle peppers, sun-ripened tomatoes, red onions and beans topped with yogurt, fresh pico de galloand jalapeno served up hot and spicy on a brown rice pilaf.

The quality of the ingredients, struck me as the best and the presentation was enough to make a person satiated already, feel hungry again. The food may seem a tad overpriced, but given the quality and portion sizes, one cannot complain.

Although we decided to skip dessert, as the meal had been too filling, the Fruit Crumble seemed inviting.  Jam-packed with strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and juicy peaches, served piping hot and topped with an ice-cold scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt,  haunted me and I  have resolved to go back another day to indulge my sweet cravings.

Rating : 4.5/5

 

 

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.

 

 

A Fruity Extravaganza: Cafe Mangii Summer Menu

What is summer without the king of fruits- Mangoes? One enjoys them in every form, as a fruit, in milk shakes, smoothies, ice cream and aam ras. And we never tire of them. And when you know that it has even been incorporated in the Summer Menu of one of your favourite Restaurants, you are just plain ecstatic.

Cafe Mangii, the Italian chain of Restaurants offers great food always. Throughout the year. Have been a huge fan of this place since years.

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I decided to check out the new menu. The service as always, was impeccable. Suhas the Khar outlet Manager, at his politest best and the staff attentive and alert.

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Seated on a  table overlooking the window, I took a look at the new menu. A bright, sunny mango stared at me, and bought a smile to my lips. Yes, it was the menu in the shape of a sweet and smiling mango, with shades et al. Kids would love it am sure.

Soups, salads, appetizers, mains and desserts, were all fruity. Yes a lot of summer fruits had been used in the menu. Plenty of mangoes too of course. But the menu was refreshing. Literally. Watermelon Gazpacho Shots, Watermelon Pizza (which is actually a salad), Pina colada chicken, Apricot glazed hen. Whew! Innovation at its best, I thought. It struck me though that there was no pizza on his menu.

Our Chilled Melon and fresh Alphonso with pistachio soup arrived. I loved the idea of crushed pistachio on the rim of the glass. Thought it was out of the ordinary. The soup was rejuvenating. Subtle flavours. The melon was more pronounced, but one could enjoy the mango too. Perked us up and we were ready for our salad and appetizer. Perhaps the rim should have had rock salt instead? I wondered.

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Mango & Calamari with cilantro aioli arrived. Great presentation again. Colourful and appetizing. The use of ripe and raw mango to give the sweet and tangy flavour was laudable. The calamari was steamed to perfection. Light and flavoursome salad. Our palates were teased sufficiently.

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The Crispy Chicken with Asparagus & Tomatoes was a pleasant surprise too. Light for an appetizer and the grilled chicken pieces melt in our mouth. The bacon bit were well fried and complimented the dish.

I could not help thinking how effectively and skilfully the chef had integrated fruits in each section to make the dishes light and flavourful.

We settled for Raviolo in Orange Paprika Butter sauce for our mains. Stuffed with Pine Nut, leeks & Fontina, Orange Paprika Butter Sauce, the sweetish taste made this dish unique, but we preferred the Salmon al Cartoccio. It was an absolute palate pleaser. Salmon fillet marinated in ginger soy and brown sugar served with roast almonds and snow peas, has subtle, but distinct flavours. The freshness of the salmon made it so delicious. It offered a medley of flavours to the palate. My vote goes to this one for sure.

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Satiated with such a perfect meal, dessert was plain greed. We succumbed. Mangoes with fresh cream we thought might be lighter than strawberry ravioli which was being recommended. Alas! we had erred. The presentation was wow. So much so that one felt guilty to dig  spoon into it. The mangoes were completely snowed under the cream, which was insipid. In fact the taste of the fruit was masked completely. Not sweet enough. A tad disappointing.

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I hurriedly ordered a Cappuccino to salvage my taste buds and that helped.

I walked out of Cafe Mangii pleased as punch after an enjoyable Sunday lunch. An eclectic summer menu. For once I was not complaining about the heat !

Aamer payesh (Mango Kheer) : Recipe

Ingredients : 

1 -2 Mango, ripe 

3 cups Milk (c0ndensed or whole)

50 gms raw rice 

50 gms Jaggery

For garnishing

a few chopped cashews 

elaichi (cardamom)

Method:

Wash & Boil rice in cup of milk in a pressure cooker.

Peel the mango, cut into small pieces.

Boil the remaining two cups of milk in a kadai, till it gets reduced to one-and-a-half cups and changes colour.

Add the mango pieces, the boiled rice and jaggery and stir well for few minutes.

Garnish with cashews and elaichi. Serve  hot or cold.

 

summery salads

Salads are no longer just boring tomatoes, cucumbers or even sprouts.  A little creativity can make them go beyond the ordinary. Yes, even if it is a vegetarian one. Summer is an excellent time to enjoy salads made from fresh produce from the farmer’s market or your own garden. One inviting aspect of summer is, a table full of fresh salads. For many foodies, salads are a big turn-off as they as labelled as diet food. But I disagree. I love salads and enjoy them as much as any other food. They are healthy (well, almost always), delicious, fresh and crunchy. A colourful mix of whatever young lettuces, tender greens, herbs or other seasonal produce is freshest and most abundant in the market should be used. And so much can be done with salads.

Fruits can be added to vegetarian salads to make them even more interesting. A summertime staple, watermelon is inexpensive and refreshing. It’s also good for you because it contains lycopene, a winner in the antioxidant arena. Apples make a savoury salad when combined with mushrooms and greens. Pomegranates add a zing to the salads as do oranges and pineappple. Just give me a salad–vegetables or greens–tossed in a flavourful vinaigrette in summer and am happy. That’s summer one-dish dining for me.

I am not a great one for salad dressings. Especially mayonnaise. I prefer a simple lemon juice dressing, which makes the salad super-refreshing. Also try yoghurt. It is a great low-calorie option and versatile too. And if you are making a salad of cooked ingredients, you may add the dressing earlier so it penetrates the ingredients and flavours the salad completely.

Cheese, nuts, raw vegetables, potatoes are some options. Of course, non vegetarian ingredients include chicken, shrimps, red meat, the list is endless, but in summer, meat is best avoided.

But my all time favourite is, fresh shredded vegetables, topped with ground peanuts, all bathed in a salty, sweet and spicy sauce. Yummy. C’mon I am heading to have my salad for lunch.