Tag Archives: sweets

Aabar Khabo : Once is not enough

My connection from Kolkata, actually erstwhile Calcutta, is from birth. Yes, I was born and brought up in the City of Joy which I still sorely miss. Naturally then, Bengali food is my comfort food and I thoroughly enjoy the cuisine and all its nuances.

To visit the MoMo Cafe at Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai to try The Kolkata Konnection, Bengali food festival was a trip down memory lane for me.

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Curated by Executive Chef Avijit Deb Sharma and his team, including a chef from JW Marriott Kolkata, it was indeed a spread any gourmand would look forward to. The Bengali dishes were a part of the buffet spread, which of course offered other cuisines too, catering to wide palate. There was a separate counter with phuchka Kolkata’s version of pani puri) and jhal muri, the quintessential street food of Kolkata. And of course a separate section serving the lip-smacking Bengali starters, chicken cutlet, fish fry, vegetable chop et al.

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I bit into the fish fry and memories came flooding. I have grown up enjoying this delicacy in South Calcutta where I grew up at several places, but Mukherjee sweets in Ballygunge Place, being my all time favourite. This one was close. The fish fillet wrapped in spices, coated with breadcrumbs, was fried to perfection. Comforting and familiar flavours. The dhonepatta  bhaja or coriander fritter was spicy and fragrant. The chicken cutlet with chicken mince was delightful as was the vegetable chop with the characteristic beetroot, potatoes and groundnuts. I was off to a great start and was enjoying every morsel with kasundi or the mustard dip.

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The mains were a feast fit for the kings. The thaal or a huge thali with several katoris or vaatis was a treat for the eyes. Kosha mangsho or the onion based slow-cooked mutton preparation, cholar dal, alu posto, ilish or Hilsa fish, malai chingri or the creamy prawn curry, begun bhaja, kodaishutir kochuri or green peas puri and of course the pulao, fragrant with ghee and roasted nuts and raisins, was what my meal comprised. The lebu (lemon) chatni, tomato chutney and aamer (mango) chutney were also served along, as no Bengali meal is complete without these.

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The dishes were simple and cooked home-style. The flavours were authentic replete with the Bengali spices and ingredients (mustard oil, paanch phoran, gobindbhog rice, gondhoraj lebu) and the melange of textures, absolutely delightful.

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Not only was the meal delicious in terms of its taste and flavours, but equally a nostalgic one for me as I sat recounting endless occasions when I had sampled those dishes at home or with friends and family.

Rosogulla and aamer (mano) sandesh was what I finished my meal with.  Both got my vote. But of course there were other Bengali desserts on offer too.

I left MoMo Cafe happy and satiated, stuffing a Kolkata meetha paan in my mouth, with the smile not leaving my face.

On till June 24 for dinner, this Bengali food festival is a must try for those who relish Bengali food and others keen to experiment.

Rating : 4/5

 

 

 

 

 

Bengali Food, that I miss

It’s that time of the year when I miss Kolkata,  more than ever. And this has been the story of my life for 24 years now, every year. Durga Pujas are almost here. The fun, gaiety, adda and Bengali food, is all a part of the ethos that contributes to this festival.Having grown up in Kolkata and am almost a Bong, so love Pujas and the food we relish during these 5 days.

Even otherwise, I have a soft spot for Bengali food. The aroma of food cooking in mustard oil. Ooh the flavour of paanch phoran(five spices) spluttering in this oil makes me nostalgic. Kosha Mangsho with luchi or even cholar dal, chorchori, sukhto, begun bhaja, alu dum, ghee bhat, maccher jhol and sada bhat, chitol muthia are my all time favourites. And the delectable chana sweets. What can I say about those? The list of my favs is endless.

It is the oil and the spices used in Bengali cuisine that lend a special flavour to the food which is so unique. Also the taste of the fresh water fish that one normally eats in Bengal is different. The salt water fish Hilsa or Ilish which is such a delicacy in Bengali, is unfortunately not my favourite. I prefer Rohu or Rui as the Bongs lovingly call it. Each household in Kolkata has a different way of preparing fish. A lot depends upon the texture, size, fat content and the bones in the fish. It could be fried, cooked in a simple spicy tomato or ginger based gravy (jhol), or mustard base with green chillies (shorshe batar jhaal), with posto, steamed inside of plantain leaves, cooked with doi (curd/yogurt). The steamed fish in plantain leaves is similar to Patranu Macchi of the Parsis. Even Goans make fish in this manner with green chutney inside the fillet. I can devour fish fry or maccher jhol with rice. Have a soft corner for Doi Mach too, if prepared well.

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Mumbai has always had a few Restaurants serving Bengali food, but somehow they are not upto the mark. 25 Parganas at Sahara Star was good, but alas! it exists no more. Bijoli Grill of Calcutta is  still decent, but Bhojohari Manna is a perfect example of hype, save a few dishes. Of course Oh! Calcutta has been around for a while and serves Bengali food, but not 100% authentic.  Some of the dishes are closer home though, in flavours. But obnoxiously priced. Hangla  has become a popular chain with outlets in several places, but only takeaways. Their food is good, specially the rolls. They are the closest to the ones I am used to from Stop Over in Ballygunge Phari Kolkata or Nizams.

Gosh, with all this talk about Bong food, have to prepare something tonight as my mouth is watering or  head to a Bengali friend’s place for dinner.

 

 

Very English, Very Desi

Be desi, buy desi. We, Indians, may not really be following this diktat, especially when it comes to desserts, nowadays, as unfortunately, Indian sweets like ladoos, gulab jamuns., pedas et al don’t really find favour with the younger generation, who prefer pastries, cheesecakes etc. But Ranveer Brar, along with the Dakalia family of Gangour Sweets and snacks,  Juhu are going to change that.

With English Vinglish, India’s first desi patisserie, where desi or Indian sweets are served with Western influences, Indian sweets will be fashionable once again.

Using molecular gastronomy, Chef Ranveer Brar presents the best of regional desserts in unique western ways. Fresh mango yogurt parfait with crunchy balushai sticks and smoked cardamom honey lie cheek by jowl with Doodha tartlet, with whipped kesar pista dark chocolate ganache and reduced sweetened balsamic vinegar.

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There is something for every palate in this cute little store. And I was no exception. The Sweet Potato & Gulab Jamun Cheese Cake got my instant vote, even though it did sound like a strange combination at first. The textures meshed well perfectly and the flavours too complimented each other. No where, was the sweet potato an aberration. On the contrary it lent itself well to the dessert.

The Amrakhand cheese cake unfortunately did not entice my palate. I found it cloyingly sweet and my mouth was filled with the overtly creamy dessert.

Amrakhand cheese cake

 

Pineapple halwa and hazelnut creme tart, I thought was an interesting combination. The halwa was firmly ensconced in the tart and laced my palate with a myriad textures.

Other creations include the Double chocolate pudding with khada masala strawberry compote and whipped shrikhand; and the Kheer khadam truffles with five-spiced ganache and toasted caramelized kaddu ke beej.

The fare on offer is truly avant garde and unique, something, one typically expects of a chef of Ranveer Brar’s calibre. Add to that Gangour Sweets’ years of expertise. The result is bound to be wow.

Chef Ranveer says,  “The sweet tooth  of every Indian defines and dictates every relevant moment of our lives. This sweetness just changes form and style with time. What stays is the perennial combination of spices and sweet and the passion for mithai. It’s this perennial love that we try and bring you through English Vinglish – A refined stylised balance between traditional Indian sweets and the modern patisserie is what we strive to achieve here.”

And there are not desserts only, that one can dig into at English Vinglish. Breads, soft-centered chocolates and bars, Indo-traditional Baklawas and fillet-stuffed dates, savoury delights, are also on offer.

I loved the Makai – dhaniya and flaxseed bread, which I relished for breakfast next morning. It was moist and flavourful. Sweet Badam Brioche Loaf, Mini Foccacia, Curried Masala Baguette, are some of the other interesting ones.

English Vinglish proved to be a journey of rediscovering Indian desserts the western way. Definitely, one I was not really acquainted with, but happy to have embarked upon.

 

This Will Satisfy Your Sweet Cravings

I actually began my Sunday on a healthy note, even though it is a day meant for indulgence. I bit into a fleshy and fibrous date, instead of my Sunday breakfast. No, not the ordinary variety of dates. I felt like Royalty, as I savoured the King of Dates- a Medjoul date. Remember having these in Dubai, many eons ago. But these were different. These are a power-house of energy and I could really do with some.

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The size and colour itself of Medjoul dates is so appealing. The soft date, melts in your mouth and the toffee-like sweetness pervades your mouth completely. With a good quality date and so much sweetness, one can actually dispense with desserts. But alas! Better still use these dates in your sweets and desserts. Even our very own kheer can be made with dates instead of sugar.

I often use dates in my breakfast smoothie. With milk, yogurt, a dash of figs and dates, it makes a delicious drink. A perfect start to the day. Even shakes, cookies, muffins and pancakes can have dates added to them. That should satisfy my sweet cravings in a healthy manner.

Being unprocessed, Medjoul dates are really healthy and safe to consume. Even for children. Loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre et al, everyone can enjoy these. Ideally one should eat a maximum of 6-8 dates in day, staggered over the entire day, I was told.

What I love is he fact that one can carry these along anywhere, hassle-free and munch on them as and when one can.

Aren’t I glad that Medjoul dates have arrived in India and that too with a seal of authenticity?  Beautifully packaged, these are are now going to be available easily all over India. So now, one can indulge without feeling guilty. Taste bhi, health bhi!

Indulge Your Sweet Tooth

‘Tis the season to indulge guilt-free and that is exactly what I did recently at the California Pizza Kitchen, sampling their mouth-watering desserts for the festive season.

Christmas Yule Log, Baked Alaska, Chocolate Eruption and Chocolate Raspberry Mystic were some of the treats on offer.

The Chocolate Raspberry Mystic intrigued me. Chocolate is always my weakness. But this one surprised me. A delicate chocolate mousse combined with winter raspberry marmalade, appeared on my table and it was served with vanilla ice cream. The raspberry and chocolate pairing I thought was perfect and unique. The raspberry marmalade accentuated the chocolate flavour and yet, was subtle. The mousse was creamy and soft-textured. I was in seventh heaven.

Baked Alaska is an old favourite and makes me nostalgic in fact. I love the drama associated with it. Love the way the flambe happens at the table. The strawberry and vanilla Ice-cream, layered between vanilla sponge and Italian meringue, flambéed with rum is the ultimate sin one can treat oneself to.

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I decided to skip the Chocolate Eruption with a heavy heart and instead settled for the Christmas Yule Log. After all it is the Christmas season and you cannot miss enjoying this one. It was reminiscent of the ones I used to relish in London. Well-made and with a generous helping of dried fruits and rum. Full marks to this one too.

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Although Blackberry Bliss sounded divine, I was satiated already. After all, there is nothing better than a mascarpone cheese and yoghurt combo. Add to that white chocolate,Satori Merlot paired with Blackberry compote and Vanilla Ice cream. There is no scope to go wrong am sure. A must try for me on my next visit this week or next.

What is nice is that none of the desserts are cloyingly sweet with overpowering flavours.

All the CPK outlets in Mumbai have these delectable six desserts till January 4 2015. So make sure you don’t miss this chance. The fresh ingredients, large portions and unique flavours are a winning trio. Chef Joshi is truly a culinary wizard.

Boondi Ladoo: Recipe

A bit tedious to make, but one of my favourite Indian sweet (mithai) recipes for the festive season, specially Diwali.

Ingredients :

 

2 cups gram flour(besan)

2 cups ghee

3/4 cups sugar

2 tbsp finely chopped almonds

1/2 tsp elaichi powder

A pinch of saffron colour

Method:

Mix besan with just enough water to make a thick batter. Add colour.  Blend well. Heat ghee. Through a sieve, gently put drops into the hot ghee. Fry till dark golden and drain out. Repeat process till batter is finished. Put aside the fried drops or boondi. For syrup, heat sugar with 3/4 cup water and make a sticky syrup. Add fried boondi, almonds, cardamom powder and mix well. While still warm, shape the syrup-coated boondi into round ladoos, and leave to cool and dry.

Grilled Oranges :Recipe

Oranges are suddenly abundant in Mumbai, so why not make the most of them? Here is a simple recipe. Sweet and delicious.

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Ingredients:

4 medium sized oranges

50 gms sugar

125 ml cream

3 egg yolks

2 tbsp orange juice

a few chopped pistas

icing sugar

 

Method:

Slice off the oranges from the top and peel. Ensure you remove the white pith. Remove orange segments and arrange them in four portions on plates. Pre heat grill in your micro. Stir in the egg yolks with the sugar and whip in a double saucepan, till creamy. Remove from heat and stir till cold. whip the cream next and fold slowly into egg yolks mixture with orange juice.  Spread this mixture evenly over orange segments. sprinkle chopped pistachios and serve.