Dinner Series – Part II

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Achari Aloo (baby potatoes tempered with spices) is a must at every dinner party at our house. It’s pretty quick to make and is an absolute favourite with all our guests. Essentially a spicy dish, that can be controlled depending on your palate.

P.S – Will be hard to stop at just one 🙂

This recipe serves 6-8.

Ingredients:

2 packets baby potatoes (boiled in salted water with skin)
4 dried red chillies (kashmiri mirch)
8 cloves garlic
1 tsp coriander seeds
1” piece of ginger
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
3 tsp tomato ketchup
50 gm cream
4 tbsp oil
Salt to taste

Method:

1. Combine the red chillies, garlic, coriander seeds and ginger in a pan and sauté in oil (2 tbsp) for about 3-4 minutes or until the ingredients go soft.
2. Using a blender, blend until the above mix turns into a fine paste.
3. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a deep pan and sauté the fenugreek and bay leaves for 1 minute. Add the potatoes. Sauté for another 2 minutes.
4. Add the paste and stir properly for about 5 minutes. Make sure the potatoes are thoroughly coated in the paste. Do not stir too hard otherwise you will end up mashing your potatoes.
5. Take off the heat and let them cool. Add the cream and mix well before serving. Serve hot (mild).

Quick Tip:

1. Do not boil the potatoes to the point where they begin to mash. Check by sticking a fork into them.
2. In case you have any extra paste left, this can be stored in the freezer for a fortnight.

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Diwali Series – Part I

One of the most awaited festivals of the year is finally here. The smell of firecrackers*, twinkling diyas (butter lamps) and fairy lights, colourful rangolis (patterns made on the floor/ courtyard of every Indian household, from coloured rice, dry flours or flower petals), fresh mithais and (Indian sweets) and happy souls are all a beautiful reminder, that the Indian festival of lights ‘Diwali’ is on its way. The entire country and Indians all around the world come together to celebrate the historic victory of good over evil. Families and friends get together to wish each other, donning new attire and gorge on lavish, traditional feasts. Houses are decked up with gorgeous butter lamps, lanterns, ranglolis and traditional household items. This year, Diwali will be celebrated on the 23rd of October.
There’s something about this festival that makes me so happy. I’m not sure what it is, but I think it’s a culmination of a little bit of everything – friends and families coming together, dressing up, decorating your home, cooking for your loved ones, and sharing so much love and warm wishes. My sister and I have been making ranglolis and prettying the house with my Mum ever since I can remember, I think this is also another reason why this festival is so special to me, because it’s kind of “our thing”.

To know more about the festival, take a look here- http://www.diwalifestival.org

I’m hosting two dinners in the week for my friends and thought that this would be a great opportunity to share some of my recipes with you. Therefore, I came up the Diwali series. My first dinner was on Sunday, the 12th. Indian cuisine was on the menu.

Let’s start with the best item on the menu – the dessert! I used gourmet cook Asha Khatau’s recipe for this one.

This recipe serves 6-8.

Ingredients:

For the tart base:
50 gm cooking chocolate (dark)
50 gm butter
175 gm crushed digestive biscuits
2 tbsp powdered sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder

For the mousse:
150 gm cooking chocolate (dark)
¼ cup fresh cream
1 tsp instant coffee powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
½ cup whipping cream
3 tbsp powdered sugar

Method:

For the base:
1. Place the chocolate, butter and cocoa powder in a container. Heat in a microwave for 1½ minute. Stir until smooth.
2. Lightly grease a 7” round, loose bottomed tin (I have a non-stick so I did not need to line it with butter paper) and set aside.
3. Grind the digestive biscuits and sugar together until you get fine crumbs.
4. Pour the melted chocolate mix into the biscuit crumb mix and stir together. You should get a nice, rich, wet sand like consistency.

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5. Stir this into the greased tin. Using a spatula or the back of a ramekin, press firmly into the base of the tin. Make sure the mixture is spread out evenly. It should also cover about 1 – 1½ inch of the sides of the tin.
6. Place it in the fridge to chill for 20-25 minutes.

For the mousse:
1. Take the instant coffee powder and dissolve it in 4 tbsp of boiling water.
2. Place the chocolate, fresh cream and coffee in a container. Heat in a microwave for 1 minute. Stir until smooth.
3. Add the vanilla essence, stir and then set it aside to cool.
4. Whip the cream with the powdered sugar until it forms soft peaks. Be sure not to over whip.
5. Fold it into the (cooled) chocolate mix.

Once the base has hardened in the fridge and the mousse is ready, pour it over the base. Cover it with cling film and keep it in the fridge to chill. It will need about 4 hours.

Take the dessert out of the fridge in about 2 hours should you wish to decorate it. I say this because you want to get this done whilst it still hasn’t set completely. You can top it with fresh berries and dust some sugar, whipping cream, sprinkles, edible gold dust, sugar flowers, chocolate curls, whatever you like. I topped mine with edible gold dust (courtesy Dr. Oetker), chocolate vermicelli and 4 delicate, edible sugar flowers.

Quick Tip:
Since this is an eggless dessert, the base tends to get a little hard. I recommend you take it out of the fridge 20 minutes prior to serving.

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Enjoy the sinfulness!

Do let me know what you think of this recipe.

*I strongly urge you to have a noiseless, firecracker-free Diwali this year. Not only do they harm the environment, but buying crackers also gives impetus to this industry that very unfortunately indulges in child labour.

Making those calories count!

La Folie Patisserie
Address: Sai Baba Road, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai-400001
Telephone: 022 222672686
Hours: 11.30 a.m-11.30 p.m
Home Delivery: Yes, up to Juhu

So my week started with some great news. I got a call from Peepul Consulting asking me if I’d be interested in attending a pre-launch dessert menu tasting. Umm hello, how could I pass up an opportunity to spend a couple of hours just eating desserts? I managed to get a couple of hours off from work (thank you Daddy) and spent all of Wednesday afternoon trying out some pretty exotic items.

Chef Sanjana of La Folie Patisserie boasts one hell of a resume. She has studied at some of the world’s most renowned culinary schools including Le Cordon Bleu. She has trained alongside macaroon God Pierre Hermé, Emmanuel Ryon and Jean-Charles Rochoux to name a few. When I read this, I knew I had to be present at the tasting session. Tucked away in a quiet lane, located bang opposite the Kala Ghoda café is La Folie. You will be welcomed with the most intoxicating smells. Almost every single dessert on display here looks a little too good to eat. From exquisite macaroons, truffles, pralines to delicate pastries and seasonal desserts, Sanjana and her team have got it all covered. Their vanilla pods are flown in from Tahiti, chocolate from Belgium, France and Switzerland, and butter and cream from France as well. It doesn’t just end there. To keep up her quality standards, she uses three different kinds of cocoa beans – Madagascar, Aztec and Java. I think that this justifies the pricing (the desserts on the new menu cost Rs. 235 each). May I also add here, that I’m mighty glad Sanjana has taken it upon herself to spread awareness that desserts are not just chocolate truffles, red velvet cupcakes and brownies? Finally, there’s someone out there that doesn’t care just about mass-producing stuff!

‘Kay, enough talking! Let’s drool over some photographs.

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This is the display area

1. Grandma’s Carrot Patch

This was item one on the menu. I like carrot cakes so I was very keen to see how different this was going to be. Sanjana says that she has taken inspiration from her grandmother, whose gajar ka halwa she grew up eating, and therefore dedicates this dish to her. The base is a carrot walnut cake, with fresh apricot compote, carrot cream cheese mousse and lemon curd. The top is made to look like a vegetable patch because her grandma grew her own. She has used walnut to give it a soil like texture, along with fresh parsley. I completely devoured this dessert, to say the least. What I loved about it the most, is that in spite of having so many layers, this pastry does not leave you feeling full or heavy at all. I recommend it to everyone, including those that are not big fans of the original carrot cake.

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2. Shades of Green

Before we moved onto the next dessert, we were given a cup of fresh marigold tea to cleanse our palette. Good thinking. This dessert was super interesting because it’s made from ingredients that one can’t possibly imagine together – granny smith apples with fennel and celery! Chef Sanjana says that this dish is inspired by Oscar-Claude Monet’s painting of water lilies, hence the green colour. No artificial colours have been used to achieve this. The colour is owing to the apples. Extremely fresh and super light, this dessert is a delight for your tastebuds. It’s perfect for an afternoon tea. Although, I did feel like the apple flavour was dominating the dish due to which the other two elements seemed slightly lost. However, I loved the way it tasted so I won’t complain.

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3. Mac & Cheese

We were served cups of steaming hot Kashmiri Kahwah (tea) before we moved to this dessert. Very cutely named, this dessert is made up of Sanjana’s favourite items – macarons, cheesecake and choux pastry. The one at the back contains flavours of the violet flower, black current and is stuffed with layers of baked and frozen cheesecake, topped with a classic choux pastry. The colourful yellow one contains flavours of the rhubarb plant, strawberry and a Japanese fruit – Yuzu. AHHMAAZING! I preferred the yellow one, only because I thought the black current was a little sweet and the violet a little strong. I absolutely loved the mix of these delicious elements, so this item on their menu is a must try as well. It is a little heavy because of the cheesecake, just in case you want to keep that in mind.

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4. Java

We were now served cups of Marco tea Polo since we were moving on to the heavier, chocolate desserts. It was much needed to break the sweetness of the Mac and Cheese. The Java cake was one I was a little hesitant to try because it’s made up of a banana cake with ginger. The idea of ginger in my dessert is quite repelling, but I only took one bite and that idea vanished. It’s a ginger banana cake, with caramelised bananas, toffee ganache and a pecan crumble. I’m not a big fan of pecan, but Sanjana has managed to bring all these elements together, beautifully. The toffee ganache and decadent chocolate left my tastebuds feeling completely satisfied. This was definitely my favourite item on the menu. It’s extremely rich though, so you may not want to order anything else. Just enjoy this pastry as it is.

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5. Aztec

68% Bolivian chocolate, long pepper and blood orange have been brought together to make up this dessert. These have been combined with floral honey, pralines, and prunes to make the final product. So this dessert essentially is made up of 10 layers. Since I love pretty much everything chocolate, I quite liked this dish. However, the mousse on top with the long pepper was a let down for me. You don’t realise it when you take a bit including every layer; but when you taste just the mousse, it feels like there’s a barbecue party going on right in your mouth. I’m not a fan of barbecue sauce and owing to the long pepper the mousse tastes just like that. Considering the number of other desserts that are absolutely outstanding, I think I’d give this a miss. However, the other tasters loved it, so if you’re a BBQ sauce fan, this is a must try.

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6. Madagascar

If someone asked me to pick between the Madagascar and the Java cake, I think that would be one of my life’s hardest decisions. Raspberry and chocolate together is one of my favourite combinations so I give this one a big thumbs up. In this dessert Sanjana brings together raspberry mousse, balsamic vinegar and a flour less chocolate cake, making it gluten free. The raspberries compressed in a balsamic vinegar reduction paired with subtle notes of the Tonka spice (used as a vanilla substitute) make for an absolute delight. It looked rather romantic to me, so you may want to consider sharing this with your loved one (it’s too yummy though to share with anybody else if you ask me). I absolutely love the feminine touch the red graze brings along with the rich decadence of the chocolate. In one word, PERFECTION.

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7. Antioxidant

Ok, this dessert is almost too good looking to eat. It’s made up of a light, fragrant, rose panna cotta, on a bed of red champagne caviar and a compote jelly of red berries and beet root juice, with a test tube of anti-oxidant red berry juice. This one you can enjoy guilt free, because it contains no sugar, no carbs, it’s eggless and gluten free. Lychee syrup has been used as a sugar substitute. What more can you ask for? However, this was a bit of a let down for me to be honest, but that’s probably because I’m not a fan of rose-anything. I also found the raspberries a tad bit acidic. The other tasters however loved it, so if you like anything that’s rose flavoured, you may enjoy this.

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Overall, I think Chef Sanjana and her team have done a job par excellence. We were not only served great desserts, but were also given excellent service. It was an afternoon well spent, and in spite of all the calories I must have accumulated, it’s safe to say they were worth it! I recommend you to grab this collection of desserts whilst it lasts!