Thursday, 22 January 2015

Chicken zafrani pulao

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I am not one to adhere to new year resolutions and so i stopped taking them. But last year i decided I wanted to go organic and am pretty proud of the fact that we did manage to do that with whatever options we had. The grocery bills did go through the roof, and there are still some arguments about the pros and cons of going organic, but i think its been a good decision and we are still sticking to it. This year my decision is to eliminate plastic from my life. Replacing all my storage containers and the like tops the list.

This year also started off with me deciding to get my priorities right. (Ro will roll on the floor laughing if he hears this). First on the list was to take up a new hobby. I am still working on it and I have so much negative energy in me right now, i should channel it all in the right direction. I turn a year older in the next couple of weeks and suddenly out of nowhere I've started to panic. It kind of happens every year but this time my fears are different. I'm getting older (and not in a wise , I'm rocking the 30's sort of way), I'm wondering if I'm taking the right decisions, whether I'd regret those decisions and most of all if Ro would resent me later for those decisions. Anyways, rant over, lets talk about something that cheers everyone up.. Food!
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Tilda has been my go to brand for basmati rice. I had some excellent biryani at a restaurant called Kadiri's in North London and we got talking and they gave me a couple of sachets of their excellent biryani rice to sample. And no surprises there, it was of course this special extra long rice called golden Sella from Tilda. I made a batch of biryani with that rice and omg it was the best ever. The rice is so so fragrant, super long, and what we realised is it absorbs the flavour much much more strongly than any other rice we've used. After my sachets were used up i scouted around for that exact variety but couldn't find it anywhere. Tilda does have the Grand Biryani rice in a similar pack but its not the same. 

I was not willing to let go of the rice like that so I sent Tilda a tweet and after a couple of emails they were able to find the rice and they were kind enough to send me a bag to cook with. I have been so stingy with it, and have only managed to make this zafrani pulao and a small batch of plain rice to show you how long they are. I am on a quest to collect recipes and make the best biryani's and blog it and also to find some of the best biryanis in London. This zafrani (saffron) pulao with chicken added to it, is a close substitute for biryani and much easier. A lot of cream and milk is used and like i said, the rice does a great job by absorbing all the fab flavours. Its a very flavourful one pot meal.

Recipe adapted from here (serves 4 generously)
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Basmati rice- 2 cups, washed and soaked in water for half an hour
Water- 1 cup (approx.)
Lemon juice- 1 tbsp (optional)

Eggs- 3 to 4, hard boiled and sliced in half (I used 6 quails eggs, cos i had them lying around , yes i know, I have a thing for quails eggs)

To marinate
Chicken- 1kg, with bones and cut into medium size pieces
Yoghurt- 2tbsp
Ginger-garlic paste- 2tbsp
Salt- to taste

Single cream- 1 cup
Milk- 1 cup
Saffron strands- 8 to 9 
Coriander leaves- 1/4 cup, roughly chopped + enough to garnish
Mint leaves- 1/4 cup, roughly chopped

Ghee- 3 tbsp
Cinnamon- 2, 1 inch sticks
Peppercorn- 1 tbsp
Cloves- 5
Bay leaf- 1
Star anise- 1
Cardamom- 5 pods
Mace- 1 blade
Onions- 2 large, finely chopped
Chilli powder
Garam masala- 1 1/2 tsp
Salt- to taste- 2 tsp
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Marinate the chicken with all the ingredients mentioned.
Warm the milk in a bowl and soak the saffron strands in it for a while.
Into it add the cream, coriander and mint leaves, give a good mix and keep ready.

Melt the ghee in a big chefs pan  on medium heat, and throw in all the spices.
Once the aroma sets in, throw in the onions and sauté till they turn golden brown.
Add the garam masala and chilli powder and mix it all in.
Pour in the saffron infused mix followed by the marinated chicken and give it a good stir. make sure everything is nicely mixed.
Cook the chicken till about 3/4th done, or if you are doubtful like me, cook it all the way through, stirring in between.
Add the rice, boiling water and lemon juice, and enough salt (if needed). Stir it in well.
Once it boils, reduce heat to the lowest, cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and cook till the rice is done. This would take around 15 to 18 minutes.
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Once the rice is cooked, take it off heat and leave aside for another 10 minutes or so, after which you can scoop it on to a serving plate, garnish with coriander leaves and eggs.
Serve with raita.

Notes: Zafrani pulao is traditionally not made with chicken, so omit the meat for a meatless version.
The recipe did not specify what cream was to be used and i ended up using double cream which was a bad idea. So use single cream like I've mentioned in the recipe
The left over pulao freezes really well for a couple of weeks. I thaw it at room temperature and then steam it for best results.

I was not asked by Tilda to do this project, but thanks to Tilda for providing me the rice for this #biryaniquest

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Chaiparty (London supper club)

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The pretty posters were by Suchi

I'm a little late in posting about the chaiparty we hosted a while back, but as they say, better late than never right? We had this idea brewing (pun intended) in our minds for so long and finally after almost a year we were finally able to execute it. Supper clubs are popping up every second in London and although this idea was on the lines of a supper club, we wanted it to be more of an experience than just the food.
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Chaiparty, as the name suggests is all about chai and an excuse to get together and chat, dance, play games and of course enjoy the food. Since it was our first stint with an event like this, we decided to keep it 'by invite' only. On the guest list were food bloggers, media professionals and food enthusiasts who all enthusiastically took part in the festivities. The dress code was Indian and we all dressed up in sarees, skirts, salwars, kurta's and lehengas. It was at my house in South East London and we decorated my tiny apartment with all sorts of Indian-themed paraphernalia and in the process managed to drive our husbands crazy.
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The guests were all welcomed in the Indian traditional way with a small aarti, a sort of blessing, and then gifted colourful bangles and bindis. Everyone was sportive and courageous enough to actually wear a saree and even keep it on till the very end. We had a few fun games lined up, like a treasure hunt of sorts where we used twitter and the #chaiparty to give out clues, which we all had fun doing. Then there was the what's in your purse game where we picked out a few random, bizarre things and whoever had the most number f items in their bags won. Believe me, quite a few of them had most of the items :). Then we of course selected the best dressed which was quite hard to pick, considering everyone looked just as gorgeous as the other.
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The menu consisted of dishes from all over India, and we gave it a fusion twist, but keeping in tact the traditional flavours. We also gave snazzy names for the dishes, something we are pretty proud of. Take a look at the menu to know what I'm talking about :)
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We also had some lovely gifts and goodies sponsored by amazing brands and i cant thank you enough for the support you have shown us. We had Waitrose Wines sending over a case of assorted champagnes and sparkling wines which we put to full use by making the plum and chai bellini. Priscilla, winner of the best dressed also won a Seriously Peachy Dessert wine sponsored by Waitrose, an absolute fav dessert wine perfect with some citric desserts. There was unlimited tea sponsored by Tea India, an upmarket brand of chai which comes in three delicious flavours Masala Chai, Cardamom Chai and Vanilla Chai. They also gave each of our guests a small goody bag with all their teas and recipe cards for some cooking inspiration. Dessert, a very important part of a meal, wouldn't have been complete without Devnaa sponsoring some gorgeous chai truffles that were gobbled up in no time.
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The uber cool online gift store Dotcomgiftshop sponsored a pretty tea pot, quite fitting with our theme for the evening, from their Moorish Stoneware collection. Erin has been thoroughly putting it to good use. Two favourite authors of mine Ottlenghi and Madhur Jaffrey were also present that evening in the form of cookbooks, both sponsored by Ebury Publishing, and won by Hayley and Natalie from Wild Card PR. 
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This was our first foray into the whole supper club scene in London and we are sure going to have a couple more lined up this year, with the next one in March for Holi. We shall put up details closer to the date but it would be great if you can extend all your support in this new and exciting endeavour of ours. Thanks in advance :)
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The #chaiparty team

Friday, 2 January 2015

The Kettle Chips factory, Norfolk

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Happy New year all you lovely people. Hope you welcomed the new year in style and hope you do have a fabulous year ahead. I have been busy entertaining and attending parties and travelling a bit and today is the first day i get a breather. I thought i should start the new year with the first resolution on the list- to blog more often. So here's my first post for the year, a lovely opportunity i had- to visit the Kettle Chips factory up in Norwich.

On a cold December morning a couple of us food bloggers caught the train from London to Norwich for a day full of activities. We were off on a press trip to the Kettle Chips Factory based in Norfolk and to meet Chris Barnard, the Kettle Chips Head Chef and brains behind the operation at the factory. Excitement was thoroughly building up, and like a fellow food blogger said, its like getting the Golden Ticket to visit Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

After a quick lunch, we went on to the factory floor where Chris was waiting for us. We suited and booted up and started the tour. Kettle Foods was launched in 1988 and Norfolk was selected as the base in order to be as close as possible to the vast majority of potato growers. Chris joined the team a year later and has ever since been part of every flavour Kettle Chips' brings out and also sourcing all the ethical ingredients that form an integral part of the delicious chips.
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The potatoes are carefully checked for size, quality etc and only those that pass these tests are moved on to the next stage of power washing them where again they are hand inspected as well. They are then sliced thickly with their skins on and cooked in batches in sunflower oil. Even though there are machines that aid in the frying, they are always closely manned by experienced chip fryers who make sure they are perfectly cooked. We even tried our hands at tossing the chips with huge rakes while they are being fried, to make sure they don't stick to each other, and for even cooking. And yes, we got to taste them right out of the fryer, all golden and crunchy- chips that cant be any more fresher than that.

The cooked chips are then transferred through a conveyor belt of sorts, checked thoroughly to remove any distorted ones and then moved on to huge drums where they are flavoured with carefully blended, authentic seasoning, of course developed by Chris Bernard. Needless to say, there is no added MSG, artificial colours, flavourings or preservatives to the process. Last step is the sealing and packaging in distinctive coloured bags that help consumers quickly find their favourite.
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I cant begin to explain how interesting it all was, but for me the best part was going into Chris' cosy kitchen where he showed us how he went about creating the unique flavours Kettle is known for. From Port and Stilton to salsa and mesquite to cracked black pepper to the classics like sea salt and balsamic he talked us through the entire seasoning process, how he derives inspiration for certain flavours, how he has to travel to source the right ingredients to ensure that there is perfection in every flavour he develops. 

Armed with a goody bag filled to the gills with Kettle chips, and with huge smiles on our faces, at having spent a fabulous day at the factory we boarded the train back to London, our heads brimming with ideas on how to use the chips. I have actually gone through all of my packs with the last one opened on Christmas day when we had friends over. I have also been using them in bakes, they add that perfect crunch when crushed and added as a top layer to a pasta bake. It was my first ever trip to a full fledged running factory and I'm sure I'll never forget the experience.
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Kettle chips is running their first ever on-pack promotion which is running at the moment, across the top 5 seasonings in the Kettle Chips 150g range. Look out for promotional packs in store; entrants will have the chance to win their chef's handmade kitchen from Harvey Jones worth £35000, plus thousand instant win prizes including designer appliance, cookware and lovingly crafted wine glassses and bowls. Click here for more details.

With thanks to Kettle Foods UK and the PR agency for the press invite to visit the factory.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Christmas morning macarons: hazelnut macarons with spiced coffee and chocolate ganache

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I once tried making hazelnut macarons, quite arrogant of me really, because it was the second time i was ever trying out macarons. I hadnt even perfected normal almond macarons, so its no surprise that the hazelnut ones didnt turn out nice. So without even trying to figure out what went wrong, that was put to rest.

Now that i eat, breathe, live macarons, I thought i should try the hazelnut ones a go, also because i was getting a bit bored of serving the almond ones to friends and family and before they started complaining about it, thought I should play around with the recipe a bit. Macarons are so temperamental, and fails with the slightest of changes, so technically I should have gone with a recipe using powdered hazelnut, but I couldn't find one that follows the French meringue method, hence I just sub'ed the almond measurement in my regular recipe with hazelnut. Of course my heart was in my mouth till i saw the feet, but it all worked out well in the end.
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When its baking it smells just like nutella and taste wise, its not as neutral as the almond ones, so you need to be quite careful with the filling flavour. They are obviously nuttier and if you didn't know its hazelnut, you would be a bit confused as to what the taste is. I loved it, but Ro was not too sure, he said I should stick to almonds, how boring! Anyways, to play it safe I filled them with my spiced coffee stash (from my Harrods Hamper- yes i know eons back, but its only taken out every Christmas), perfect for Christmas morning and since hazelnut and coffee is a gorgeous match it went down very well with me :)

Talking about Christmas, have you all planned your feast yet? My house is all decorated (yes, as you can see, this year i went a bit crazy with diy christmas decorations), presents are all wrapped and i am all ready for my huge Christmas feast. I have invited a couple of friends over and have already planned my menu starting with cocktails and champagne all the way to cheese, dessert and coffee. Hopefully I'd be able to post one more recipe before the year ends, but if I don't come back, here's wishing My Kitchen Antics' readers a very merry Christmas and a kick ass New Year.

Makes 22 medium size macarons
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Ground hazelnuts- 60 gms, after sifting
Powdered/ icing sugar- 100 gms
Egg whites- 60 gms
Caster sugar- 40 gms
Vanilla bean paste- 1/4 tsp (optional)

For a detailed macaron making process, check out this post of mine.
Get the baking tray with baking paper ready. Make sure you cut them exactly to fit the size of your pan without any folds or dents, because this will affect the shape of your macaron. You would need 2 trays for this quantity.
Sift the ground hazelnut with the icing sugar to remove any lumps.
Using a free standing mixer with whisk attachment or hand mixer, whisk the egg whites till frothy.
Add the caster sugar bit by bit, while continuously beating the egg white, till soft peaks form. (When in doubt, beat till still peaks form, so you don't deflate the meringue too soon)
Into the meringue mix add the sifted hazelnut-sugar mix and vanilla bean paste and fold gently using a spatula, starting from the bottom and continuing to the top till you get a smooth even mixture, with no meringue visible.
Go really easy on the folding because if you over do it, you could end up with disfigured macarons when you pipe them out. To test of the batter is of correct consistency the batter should fall back in ribbons when you life the spatula and the ribbons should have disappeared in about a minute or so. If it doesn't, then give a couple more gentle strokes and test again.
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Pour the batter into piping bag with a plain round tip and pipe small round, leaving about 2 inches gap between the shells for them to spread and expand.
Leave aside to dry for 20 to 30 minutes. Again, this completely varies, If the batter is towards the looser side, it would take longer to dry, if it is humid it would take longer to dry and sometimes with no particular reason it just takes forever. If you don't leave it to dry enough, you wont get a proper developed feet.
Lightly touch the piped batter with your finger and if it doesn't stick them it means you are good to go.
When the batter is drying pre heat the oven to 140C and once ready place the tray in the middle rack and bake for 13 to 15 mins.
If your macarons are undercooked, it becomes crinkled and hollow. It also becomes too delicate to handle as well. So when it doubt, bake a little longer, but make sure you don't burn them.
Once done, cool completely in the tray itself before filling.

Spiced coffee and chocolate ganache
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Dark chocolate- 1/2 cup
Double cream- 1/4 cup
Spiced coffee- 1/4 cup (brewed with 2 heaped teaspoons of spiced coffee)

Melt together the chocolate and cream in the microwave, in bursts of 30 to 45 seconds.
Stir in the spiced coffee and make sure its all mixed together.
Pour into a piping bag and place in the fridge to firm up, and till ready to use.
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When ready to fill, pair the macarons with similar sized ones and pipe the filling on to the shells.
Sandwich them and store in an air tight container till ready to serve.
They taste better when the flavours have mixed well and has moistened in the fridge for a couple of hours.
If you leave it in the fridge for a long time, it would moisten too much leaving you with soggy shells.

Notes: If you want to do your own spiced coffee, add a 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp all spice and a pinch of nutmeg
Of course, just replace the 60gms of ground hazelnuts with ground almonds and you'll get the original almond macarons

Friday, 12 December 2014

DIY home made gifts for Christmas

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A bunch of us here have a tradition of making home made gifts for Christmas. Just for the fun factor, we all slog it out for weeks and come up with DIY gifts that for me are much more personal than buying something from the stores. Last year i gifted everyone this home made lemon extract and sweet and salty crunchie bars. This year, I thought I'd go completely off food and do something different. Needless to say, hours were spent on pinterest, Etsy and the like for some motivation and finally i decided on doing vintage home made candles.

I have been obsessed with candles for the longest time. There used to a time back in India when i had candles strewn all over my apartment but when there was a power cut I wouldn't let Ro light even one of those (because they were really too pretty to waste at a power cut). It was a joke my husband loved telling everyone. Grown out of all that, now i use scented candles more to smoothen the cooking smell and such.
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I had chanced upon candles in vintage tea cups long back and since i had trawled Ebay for English tea cups for our chaiparty (more on this later), i knew what my options were. So making a decision to gift those came easily. Now, of course i couldn't gift just a candle, so again pinteresting started and i decided to gift a sa pack for my friends this year. the pack would have the scented vintage tea cup candle and an assortment of scented fizzy bath bombs, for that relaxed night in.

They were both really really easy to put together and I was rather proud of how organized I was this time, ordering everything online and finishing it all off way ahead of time. The cost is also very minimal because you are putting these together yourself, and for me it was the creative part of it that was most fun.
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My lovely friends gifted me so cool stuff as well. Vineetha made delicious rocky roads and presented them in a beautiful vintage tin, Gayathri went all out and made a hamper with Christmas classics like mulling syrup, stollen, panettone, salted caramel and garam masala sea salt and Suchi did a spa pack with personalised body scrub and lip balm, full on with our name tags and such. Not to mention, her packaging was spot on. I love this tradition of ours and am so glad I have a small group of friends who share the same interests. We exchanged these gifts over a lovely brunch in Covent Garden followed by some shopping.

Scented candles in vintage tea cups (makes 4)
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Vintage tea cups with saucers- 4 (i bid on them on Ebay. These are Royal Albert English Rose tea cups)
Candle wicks- 4, waxed and preferably with sustainers
Wooden skewers- 8, to hold the wicks in place
Heat proof bowl- 1
Saucepan
Cup with spout (if its heat proof then use that for the wax as well, in which case the cup is not required)

Eco friendly soy wax- 500 gms
Wax dye- 2 gms (I used baby pink. For a darker shade add more)
Fragrance oil- 1 tsp, or according to preference (I used one called Woodland Rose)

Before getting on with the process make sure you have set up the containers with wicks etc.
I first tried to keep the wicks in place with a clothes peg balanced on the rim, but when i poured in the wax, with the slightest movement they changed position.
So I placed two skewers on either side of the wick to keep it in place (as in picture).
(small sticker dots to stick the wick came with the kit but the moment the hot wax hit it, it just melted and came off. i have no clue what the purpose of this thing was)
PicMonkey j Once the mis en place is intact, heat enough water in a saucepan to come about half way up and bring to a simmer.
Place the wax in the heat proof bowl (cut them up into smaller pieces if they are in a block, to allow easy and even melting) along with the wax dye and let it slowly melt.
Use a long wooden skewer to stir in between if needed.
Once the wax has completely melted, take it off bain marie and keep aside to cool a bit.
Pour in the fragrance oil at this point, stir with the skewer and slowly pour into the cups till about 3/4th full.
If the wicks have moved a bit, don't worry, just readjust. The wax is not going to set immediately.
Also, rinse out your utensils quickly.
Don't move the candles until its completely set. If there is a bit of sinking in the centre, just warm some more wax and fill it up.
Light the candles only after 24hrs.

Scented fizzy bath bombs (makes 12- adapted from here)
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Measuring cup
Mixing spoon
Mould- I used my muffin tin

Baking soda- 1 cup
Corn flour- 3/4th cup
Epsom salt- 1/4 cup
Citric acid- 1/2 cup
Food colour - 3 different colours (I used baby blue, kiwi green and pink)
Fragrance oils- 3 different ones (blue- winter spice, Green- Christmas pine, Pink- Woodland rose)
Water- as needed
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Mix together the baking soda, corn flour, Epsom salt and citric acid in a bowl.
Divide it among 3 bowls, around 3/4th cup in each bowl.
Add the colours and fragrance oil into each and starting with one, sprinkle water into the mix bit by bit and mix with a spoon or with your hands if that's more convenient.
Watch it fizz, but make sure you only sprinkle water and not pour water into it or else you'd have a lot of cleaning up to do.
Add enough water to get the mix together. Take a fist full of the mix and press hard and if they hold the shape then you are good to go. If now, add some more water and get the desired consistency.
Pack the mix tightly into the muffin pan and keep aside for about 24 hrs before you turn it over and tap the bath bombs out of the tin.
Store them in air tight containers till ready to use of pack them immediately if gifting.

To use, fill a bath with water and thrown the bomb into it. Watch it fizz, change the colour of the water, enjoy the aroma and have a relaxing bath.
The baking soda and citric acid makes it fizz and the addition of Epsom salt acts as a muscle relaxant

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

What I've been up to...

Right... 2 months since I've opened the blog, yes, not lying, i swear i haven't signed into it that long and today i open to find loads of comments, something I've not seen in a while :). I feel people have stopped reading blogs, like properly reading them and enjoying them, me included. I still do scout around for recipes and the majority of recipes i follow are from blogs, so there is still some hope in this world.

I don't have any recipe for you today. But thought I'd fill you in on what I've been up to.

Sucre Sale by Bobo Macarons
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We have been extremely busy in the Bobo kitchen with the launch of our new collection of savoury macarons, Sucre Sale- sweet and savoury all in one bite. You'd be surprised at how nice they taste, and I'm not saying this because i work there, but from someone who was sceptical about how they'd turn out, you just have to take my word for it. They are yummm. Dora, the chief taste developer, has come up with flavours like English old mustard with salmon mousse and dill, beetroot, coriander and goats cheese, oregano mushrooms filled with avocado cream and so on. They are perfect for parties and seriously, canapés never looked this pretty! We are currently running an exclusive Christmas offer, so if you are wondering what to gift your loved ones, then head on over to our website and place an order. 

Christmas menu at Tentazioni restaurant
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From top left: Swordfish cubes with aubergine ratatouille and red pepper coulis, beef fillet carpaccio with fois gras ice cream, pumpkin ravioli with butter and sage sauce, Scottish lobster and beef fillet, tagliatelle with black truffle sauce, tiramisu.

I was invited to Tentazioni Italian restaurant for a preview of their Christmas menu. It was back in September and walking into a cosy restaurant in Bermondsey with carols playing in the background, Christmas crackers on tables and decorations made me wish for Christmas to approach faster. Now that we are a little over 2 weeks away from Christmas, I want time to stand still so i can hold on to 2014 a little longer. We were treated to 7 different dishes from their tasting menu and i loved all of it, fav being the tagliatelle with black truffle oil. They use fresh seasonal food and the menu is designed by head chef Alberto Modena. The restaurant is conveniently located and has a great private dining area that can host parties of up to 20. I am definitely going back to try their a la carte menu.

Dream non-dairy ice cream
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On a cold Nov evening i scurried along the back alleys of Soho to get to the gorgeous Good Housekeeping cooking institute to check out the Dream ice cream pop up. Ice cream in winter is not really my thing but i had to find out what the deal with this gluten free, dairy free, low fat ice cream made with almonds (I know!), was all about. All decked in pink, with an ice cream trolley in a corner, i put together my ice cream sundae of praline crunch and velvety vanilla, full on with sprinkles and wafers. The ice cream is nice, i mean you wouldn't know its gluten free or low fat or anything except its a wee less sweeter than usual, which i think is a good thing, if you plan on dousing it with sauces and such. Right now they have 4 flavours- salted caramel, praline crunch, mint choc chip and velvety vanilla and are retailed at Waitrose at £4.99 per tub. Snuggle up next to a roaring fire with a tub of the praline crunch and I'm sorted. Its never too cold for ice cream, i learnt ;)

L'eto Caffe
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L'eto caffe, a high end cafe and restaurant had a press launch of their new location on Brompton street, opposite the V & A museum last month. It was a fun night where bloggers and members of the press attended a champagne and canapé reception and then a feast of pastries from their elaborate collection. We got to take home a goody bag filled to the gills with all sorts of pastries and tarts and cakes. I must add that the tres leche cake i had there was the best, closely followed by the honey cake which apparently is one of their best sellers. L'eto has 6 London locations, so make sure you pop by one of them when you have the chance.

The Great British Chefs Dinner
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I had the privilege of attending a gala dinner hosted by Great British Chefs in aid of NSPCC at the grand Banqueting Hall. It was a black tie event, and my first time at a fund raising gala, one I'd never forget too. Michelin star chefs- Nathan Outlaw, Martin Wishart, Frances Atkins and Mark Dodson- put together a gorgeous menu and needless to say, the food was fabulous. The dinner gala raised more than £175,000 and I'm so glad i could be part of this worthy cause. If you would like to donate, please do so on the link provided.

Eat First
20141208_190554 One of the problems I face at work is lunch. I don't have many options around and carrying lunch every day is not feasible for me. Same goes with the husband. So I was pretty thrilled to know about this new service called Eat First, delivering fresh and healthy meals to your office. Every day you get to choose from a veg or non veg option (no confusion there) and its delivered within 15 minutes of placing the order, which i think is definitely a plus point. I got to taste some of their food at the launch event and its really good. At the moment they cover only the city and Canary wharf but I'm hoping they'd expand west and I'd be able to avail of their services soon.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Announcing the Indian #chaiparty event and a recipe for Khari puff sticks

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With the weather changing and the cold creeping in on us, its getting more and more depressing. Diwali is coming up, so that's something to look forward to, but come November and then we are in that awkward state, where you know Christmas is a few weeks away, but not close enough to start planning or shopping for. So we at Bloggers' Buzz thought we should do something to bring the colour back into gloomy London by hosting an Indian #chaiparty. Yup, a traditional afternoon tea party with an Indian touch. Its going to be held in a leafy bylane of SE10, conveniently located for everyone to get to and we've collaborated with some fabulous brands which we shall be revealing in the next couple of weeks. You can call it a supper club of sorts, cos we are going to be cooking and serving the food we serve at the event, but we are not following the traditional sit down supper club format. I don't want to reveal too much now, but i promise this is going to be a super duper fun event.

What's a chai party without some steaming hot, well chai? Tea India, with their exotic range of rich, flavourful teas have gladly agreed to be part of the #chaiparty and will be providing us the tea for the afternoon. We will be serving a tea inspired cocktail as welcome drink and there would be unlimited glasses of masala chai doing the rounds.
Talking about food, we don't want to harp on the word fusion, but we promise it would be something fabulous. It would be predominantly Indian inspired but with a touch of what the quintessential afternoon teas are all about. To give you a teaser, we're thinking gajjar ka halwa tarts, vodka spiked golgappas (I know!!), mango flavoured macarons, lamb and pistachio kofta's etc. 

If thats not enough, we also have in store some fun festive games, mehendi corner, music and dancing to get the party going. The tickets will go on sale soon, and spaces are limited, so you might want to jump in and book one off right away. I shall be back with more details but till then, leaving you with a lip smacking canapé.

Since we are on the whole fusion food topic, here is a recipe for the traditional Khari biscuits (spiced puff pastry biscuits), but with the addition of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, it takes on the form of cheese sticks, that, needless to say, no one can stop with just one. Topping 2, with a South Indian twist, were my absolute favourite. I cant explain the aroma while these were baking. 

Makes around 20 long cheese sticks
Puff pastry- 1 pack, thawed
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese- 1 cup, finely grated
IMG_4627Topping 1
Dried fenugreek leaves- 1 tbsp, crushed
Pepper- around 1/2 to 1 tsp
Red chilli flakes- 1 tsp (optional)
Sea salt- to sprinkle

Topping 2
Oil- 1 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves- 1 sprig, fresh ones
Shallot- 1 small, finely chopped
Salt- to taste
PicMonkey Collage
Preheat oven to 176C and line 2 baking trays with baking paper
If your puff pastry is not ready rolled, then roll it out to about 30 cms, 1/4 inch thickness.
Cut this sheet in two and sprinkle them both with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese . Generously
Sprinkle all the ingredients for topping one, one after the other on top of the cheese and using a rolling pin gently roll over the pastry sheet, just to put the ingredients all in place and to make sure they don't fall off.
Cut into long strips and carefully place them on the baking tray 1/2 inch apart.

For filling two, heat oil in a small pan and throw in the cumin seeds and curry leaves
Once they turn crisp, in about a minute if the oil is perfectly hot, add the finely chopped shallot and keep sauteing till they turn crisp.
This could take a while, but make sure you don't burn them, or else its could taste bitter.
Once the mix turn crispy, drain them on paper towels and leave to cool.
Once cool, crush them with a pestle and mortar, not to paste like consistency, but leaving a bit of bite to it.
Season with salt and sprinkle this mix on top of the puff pastry.
Cut them in strips and place on the baking paper.
IMG_4638Bake for about 15 minutes or till the pastry is golden brown in colour.
Take out of the oven, cool for a few minutes and bite into the crispy puff sticks warm.
Serve with a cup of tea and its perfect.

Sending the Cheese Sticks for the Parmigiano Reggiano #dinnertogether competition in association with London Restaurant Week. Wish me luck :)