Tag Archives: veggies

Getting Cheesy

‘Say Cheese’. A common expression used by photographers when they want their subject/s to smile during a photo session. I am an exception. Cheese, makes me smile anyway, as I love it. Naturally then, the very thought of an entire promotion dedicated to cheese, at 1441 Pizzeria, Mumbai at Fort and Lokhandwala, Andheri West, titled’ Say Cheese Festival’ made me smile ear to ear. I was visibly excited.

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An entire new menu curated around cheese.  What more could a cheese lover like me ask for? Camembert and blue cheese pizza, buratta pizza, fromage blanc pizza, feta cheese pizza, smoky cheese pizza, were some of the exciting offerings on this menu.

I tried a piece each of some of the varieties at the Lokhandwala outlet and was blown away by the quality of the cheese. They had obviously used the best and that made all the difference to the taste of the pizza. The fresh ingredients and flavours were bursting and seeking attention. The techniques, precision and variety at 144 Pizzeria has always impressed me.

 

The Camembert and blue cheese pizza was delightful. The flavours in sharp contrast, yet complementary. The smoky pizza was, as expected, a treat for the palate with the smoky flavours, enveloping my taste buds. The crunch came in the form of veggies, olives, in many of the pizza.

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But the piece de resistance that evening was the coffee pizza. I have never eaten anything  quite like that before. Dessert pizza, with chocolates, fruits et al, in abundance, made by the best Italian chefs, but this coffee pizza was unique. The honey, spices, herbs, jalapenos, were high on flavours and then, the drizzle of strong coffee powder teased your taste buds, just the right amount. The contrast was evident and spectacular. I lauded the mastery of the person who created this concept and of course those, who were skilfully, executing it.

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The in-house Italian sauces, used in each pizza were lip-smacking and different. The usage of vegetables and other ingredients was apt, in the right proportion. Even the cheese did not overpower any of the pizza flavours. The crust, as always, was just perfect for me.

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The enthusiastic staff, their positive energy and desire to see a guest satisfied, is praiseworthy. I love the fact that they are well-informed and able to explain the pizza offerings on the menu exceedingly well to a guest.

I left, satiated and smiling. I was, inadvertently, saying cheese, as that was what was on my mind and in my stomach:)

On till, May 31, this ‘Say Cheese’ festival is not to be missed if you are a cheese lover or a pizza lover or both.

Rating : 4/5

 

 

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Soulful Soups

Ah! there is something about soups in this weather that is so comforting. If made with the right ingredients and spices, these can be nourishing as well as healthy too. Nothing like a steaming bowl or mug of soup especially for dinner. In fact, on most days I prefer just that.

Goan, Bokdiacho caldo (mutton soup) made from mutton bones, onion, ginger, garlic, turmeric, coriander leaves and dices of potato, salt and pepper, is my all-time favourite. It is filling and boosts my immunity too. Caldo Verde with potatoes as the base is also a light and flavourful vegetarian soup of Portuguese origin.

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Being from Kolkata, I am used to relishing a spicy Thukpa, a Tibetan soup made with mixed vegetables, mixed meats and noodles  when the mercury dips. There is something for every palate in global cuisines too. Mulligatawny, Tom Kha, Tom Yum, Miso soup, Lobster bisque. My mouth is watering now.

Be imaginative and play around with flavours and textures. Be experimental. And global soups are not your only options. A plethora of soups from our very own Indian cuisine are a delight in this weather. Soups made from dals or lentils, paya soup, tamatar ka shorba or even a murg shorba. The options are endless.

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Don’t forget to add seasonal veggies in your soups wherever possible for that extra health quotient. Pumpkin, potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, work wonders. And yes, the right spices to for additional warmth and immunity.

Cinnamon works wonders, as do ginger and garlic. I love to add these in my soups where ever possible.

If the soup alone is insufficient, pair it with garlic bread, toast or add macaroni to your soups or even red rice, to make it more sumptuous.

There is nothing like a well-made soup, it is soulful and comforting in winter, keeping winter blues at bay.

 

 

Relish Roasts This Christmas

Roasts are delicious and apt for this festive season. What is Christmas without a roast? Roasts are usually done with large, tender cuts of meat. This is a method of cooking an item by enveloping it in hot, dry air, generally inside an oven and at temperatures of at least 300°F and often much hotter. The meat retains its flavours and can be preserved for days. These can be a bit tedious to prepare, but exciting for the palate and are worth every effort.

Goa is synonymous with roasts. Bifes assado (beef roast), Assado de Leitoa(Roast pigling), Pot roast- a braised beef dish. Every household prepares them and eats these with relish. I guess these have a Portuguese origin.

Red meats such as beef, lamb and venison and certain game birds are  typicaly the first choice for roasts. But there are other options too. Roast chicken, roast turkey, roast beef tenderloin, roast pork leg, roast pork belly, roasted suckling pig, roasted whole fish like red snapper, sea bass, sear fish etc. Always remember to “brown’ the meat by exposing it to high temperature for a short period, before roasting it in an oven. This imparts a traditional flavour and color to the roast, which is unparalleled.

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I have never been a great fan of  red meat, so prefer a roast chicken any day. It is my all-time favourite. A rosemary, garlic and lemon roast chicken is something I really enjoy making. My idea of a perfect meal on a  lazy Sunday and a jazzed up version for Christmas. The aroma of a roast chicken comforts me as it fills the air in my kitchen. Brining the chicken in salt water is essential prior to roasting, in order to keep the chicken moist. Also, seasoning is important. Salt, pepper, garlic, fresh herbs, can be used for seasoning. Ensure you season all parts well. Juicy meat and crisp skin are the two hallmarks of a perfectly roasted chicken. It is an art to perfect that.

Many people roast meats and then use them over a period of time in salads and sandwiches. Potatoes, boiled vegetables like carrots, beans, baby corn, asparagus and polenta are typical accompaniments for roasts but rice and noodles are eaten too, especially in Singapore.

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Lamb roast is equally a delight for the palate. And of course the Christmas roast is legendary. A roast turkey with a Bordeaux red wine, is an absolute treat. An interesting way to boost your meal when you serve roasts is by adding a gravy to it. The texture and flavours are enhanced. A creamy mushroom gravy is a good option.

In fact winters are a great time for roasts in India and I look forward to December and January to enjoy these with friends and family.

Indigo deli and Grandmama’s Cafe in Mumbai do some of my favourite roasts.

 

So what roast meat are you preparing this Christmas?

Light and Healthy Eats

Now that the festive season is over, and we have begun a new year,  may be we all want to eat light and healthy for a few days at least. I sure am trying. It is a healthy winter soup each night for dinner- pumpkin, cauliflower, spinach, and so on. I also tried an interesting turkey lentil soup recently. Aromatic, flavourful and warm. A soup is meant to be an appetiser, but sometimes ends up becoming the meal itself.

Not that I am feeling guilty for the over-indulgence. But it’s just nice to give the body a bit of a rest before we start again. Salads, soups, wraps, sandwiches can be varied and healthy. A low calorie meal can still satisfy your hunger.

And trust me, these need not be bland or boring.  Can be carefully planned and jazzed up. Who can ever tire of the classic soup and salad meal? Not me for sure. I love it. Only make sure your salads are varied and have many colourful ingredients, so that boredom does not set in.

A hearty soup stock with winter vegetables is satisfying  enough or at best pair it with a sandwich made with leftover chicken or ham. And yes, wholewheat bread. When eating a salad, try and avoid heavy salad dressings or dips. I prefer a lot of mustard instead, or even lime, for that zing in a salad.

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A salad with mixed leafy greens, crunchy celery, carrots and tomatoes makes for a delicious meal. For a heartier salad, add tuna or salmon, croutons and cheese. Yes, a bit of cheating is allowed, if only to pamper your taste buds a bit. Jazz up your salad with seasonal fruits. Nothing like apples and oranges in salads. A sea food salad is a good bet too.

Pasta salad makes a filling, but still light, meal. Add veggies to your pasta, as well as some chicken, and a dash of olive oil and you have a tasty meal ready.

Wraps with smoked chicken are one of my favourites. The wraps should be of whole wheat though. Or a falafel wrap maybe?

One must keep in mind that more of protein and less carbs is ideal these days. And of course fatty foods and fried stuff should be completely avoided. Red meat is best stayed away from. After all you have had enough of sorpotel and sanna during Christmas. Haven’t you?

Steamed vegetables, legumes and beans are again a wonderful way to detox your body. Keep away from those sausages, burgers, nuggets and pate. Those may be handy and easy to consume, but are heavy and far from healthy. Processed food is a big no-no for me.

Exotic Mushroom Ramen  - The Fatty Bao - Photo Courtesy Kunal Chandra-

Consciously add green leafy vegetables, whole grains to your diet. Hummus chicken with brown rice pilaf is a treat and yet, light. The brown rice chicken pilaf at Nothing But Chicken or their Bistro salad are great options too.

So keep eating light and healthy meals the next few days, to ease off your system. Stay fit, Stay healthy. Tell me how January goes.

Health Potion

Juices can be so refreshing. And if these are healthy and free of artificial colours and preservatives, one can gulp them guilt free. That is exactly what I did with the JusDivine range of juices.

JusDivine contains pure raw ingredients, extracted using the world class Cold-Press technology. The vegetable and fruit juices have all the flavours, nutrients, enzymes, proteins and minerals intact in the finest and most natural form; making it easy to digest. It is almost like eating a whole fruit in a juice form.

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And there is something for every palate. The wide range of flavours with a mix of fruit and vegetables ensures every one can enjoy something as per their preference. Mixed fruit, Orange, Pineapple, Apple-Beetroot-Carrot, Apple-Kale-Spinach, Apple-Pineapple-Wheatgrass, Pineapple-Carrot-Ginger, Pineapple-Pomegranate-Celery, Pineapple-Pear-Ginger-Spinach, All Veggie mix, Almond-Chocolate-Coconut, Coconut Kokum and Almond-Coffee-Date. That is how exhaustive the range is.

I had a tough time picking up a few favourites to try. The Apple-Beetroot-Carrot,was literally divine. Packed with nutritive and healthy ingredients, it had the goodness of fruits and veggies and lived up to its promise. Orange was refreshing and paired well with my breakfast. In the mixed fruit juice, for once you could actually taste the fruits. Each one distinctly. The freshness came through in each sip.

The Pineapple-Pear-Ginger-Spinach, was an absolute treat. No artificial sweetness. That’s what I loved about this. The ginger gave it a dash of spiciness, good for the throat in this season.

The cold-press technology involves slowly grinding and squeezing the fruits instead of putting them through extreme conditions like cutting or heating.  That’s what sets the JusDivine juices apart.

With a manufacturing plant designed by leading professionals in the F&B industry, JusDivine products are manufactured in highly sanitised environment to produce highest quality of juice. A product of Food Ideas Pvt. Ltd., these juices are from India’s first corporatized fresh juice manufacturer.

Although these hit the market in May last year, I some how tasted these only recently.Must laud the efforts of the co-founders, food and health enthusiasts, Vishal Jain and Nidhi Sharma.

Australia’s Favourite Pizza Now Yours?

Eagle Boys Pizza, one of Australia’s largest pizza chains is now in India. Has been for a while with two outlets in Pune and four in Mumbai. The newest entrant, their fifth, is the Oshiwara outlet in Andheri West, closer home. Hence, I pay a visit on a rainy evening.

While the parent company offers a variety of products including gourmet pizzas, gluten-free, low fat and healthy options, the Indian franchise too boasts of fresh ingredients, including a dough made several times in a day. The state-of-the-art oven in their kitchen which gets a pizza ready in minutes sans any smoke, is praiseworthy.

The passion and dedication of the Director, Rakesh Nanda is evident. Settled in Australia for years and now back in India, he has started this chain and appoints franchisees who are equally passionate about pizzas.

The outlet of course is ordinary, with basic seating. As most pizza joints, it thrives on take away and home delivery.

A glance at the menu reveals a fair amount of variety. From a Basic Pizza to a Classic, and a Super to a Gourmet, with multiple toppings, they have them all. And yes in non vegetarian and vegetarian versions too. They also do two pastas – Tomato and Chicken Penne, desserts and a few drinks. Non alcoholic of course.

Our Green Apple and Exotic flavoured mojitos arrive. Refreshing, but a tad too sweet. But then a pizza place is not exactly known for its mocktails. As long as it quenches our thirst.

The spicy garlic scroll is served. I bite into it and a burst of cheese fills my mouth. The menu never mentioned cheese in this one. I am taken aback. The staff informs me this too has cheese as opposed to the cheesy garlic scroll. The difference? Only some more garlic and spice, I am told. The menu needs to explicitly mention the cheese bit, I suggest.

The taste of the scroll is flawless. Spicy and creamy. The garlic could have been a bit more pronounced though. Delicious nevertheless. This is their innovation in terms of Sides instead of the usual garlic bread, Mr. Nanda informs me.

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We opt for a Chicken Supreme pizza from the Gourmet section and a Aussie favourite chicken in 7″ each. Sadly, the person taking our order does not ask us about our base preference ( thin n crispy or deep dish or cheesy blast or big cheese). We are served the Deep dish which has a really thick crust, not something am too fond of. However, a bite into the first one and I have no regrets. The crust is soft, not chewy like many other pizzas one often have. The freshness of the dough here plays a role for sure. One can taste the difference. The toppings are generous and fresh. Good quality stuff. The pizzas are affordably priced and come in 7, 10 and 13 inches.

My vote goes to the Chicken Supreme. It is an interesting mix of several flavours. The cheese element is right too, not overpowering and yet, enough to make one enjoy a pizza. After all what is a pizza without cheese? The one with pineapples too is tasty but Chicken Supreme, emerges a clear winner.

These two varieties, albeit in a small size, prove to be filling and we are unable to try a thin crust pizza. They have run out of dessert that day and so we are forced to skip that too. The triple chocolate pizza that they serve as dessert, surely sounds inviting. Reason enough for me to go back.

The staff needs to be a little more adept at communication and be able to explain the menu better. The Pizza definitely scores over some other chains. They have some exciting offers too on Mondays and Wednesdays. Worth checking out.

Rating: 3.5/5