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Archive for March, 2012

Coconut. Most people either sing songs about its wonderful sweetness, or grumble if they taste it in anything except a Thai curry.

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I adore it. I have a feeling it’s due to my mixed Bong-Mallu (For the uninitiated that’s Bengali-Malyali) DNA.

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Coconut is one ingredient that serves you well in both sweet and savoury dishes.

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It’s wonderfully versatile.

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Coconut sprinkles make cupcakes prettier.

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Coconut oil makes banana chips taste heavenly.

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Coconut cream makes me weep with joy every time I sip a Pina Colada.

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Coconut milk is bliss in Malai Curry (Bengali prawn curry with coconut milk).

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Coconut bits in Kerala beef curry. Killer.

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I could go on. But here’s my little coconut celebration.

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Enjoy!

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Coconut cake with coconut cream frosting

Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Serves: 10

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Ingredients:

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125 g butter (salted is fine, but softened), plus a bit more for greasing
1 tsp coconut extract or flavour
200 g castor sugar
2 large eggs
50 g desiccated coconut, plus a bit more for sprinkling
175 g flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
250 g yogurt
100 ml milk
250 ml coconut cream tin (left in the fridge overnight)
5 tbsp icing sugar
1 drop violet food colour

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Method:

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For the cake

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1. Preheat the oven to 180º C and line a 20 cm round cake tin with baking parchment. Grease the whole tin with some melted butter.
2. In a large bowl mix the butter, coconut flavour and sugar together. Add the eggs one by one and gently beat together.
3. Now add the coconut, flour, baking powder, yogurt and milk and mix vigorously until you have a smooth batter.
4. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 45 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Let it cool in the tin for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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For the frosting

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1. Take the coconut cream out of the fridge and open the tin. Carefully scoop out only the cream from the top of the tin. Leave the water that’s at the bottom. (You could drink it later- it’s delicious!)
2. Put the cream into a mixing bowl and use a hand mixer to whisk for a few minutes. When it begins to get slightly thick, add the icing sugar and food colour. Whisk for a few minutes more and then put away in the fridge to keep cool.
3. Once the cake is cool, slice it in half horizontally and spread half the coconut frosting inside. Cover with the top half of the cake and spread the remaining frosting over. Sprinkle some desiccated coconut on top. Serve!

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Eros Hotel managed by Hilton has brought us another exciting food festival and this time from one of my favourite food nations- Singapore.

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My memories of eating in Singapore go far back, when we’d visit my uncle and aunt there. We’d shop at Mustafa, go to little India, spend long days at the zoo and of course eat! Porotha with curry, chicken-rice, satay, chilli crab, fish bites on sticks. I could go on.

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Singapore has long been known for its street food. And it’s wonderful to have a festival in Delhi that allows you to taste a wide array of it.

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The restaurant Blooms at Eros is beautifully decorated in red and gold, and the very real feel of a local Singapore street is beautifully captured with several tantalizing food stalls.

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Once you get there take a walk and see what’s on offer. You will want to try almost everything. It’s only a question of what to start with ;)

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My recommendations are the following:

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Deliciously sticky honey glazed pork belly, duck and chicken.

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Hainanese chicken rice (You may find this a bit bland but remember to dunk the chicken in the sauces accompanying the dish. The super salty dark soy was my favourite)

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Coconut-ty and spicy Laksa with fish balls, prawn and hard boiled eggs.

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The tender Lamb Rendang with steamed rice.

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Juicy jumbo prawns.

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Mee goreng- noodles with all the fixings!

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Chicken satay

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And the clear winner for the evening: the oyster omelet. I must have had five of these.

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There are a host of different options to try, including a crushed ice dessert called Ais Kacang.

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Head over there for an authentic taste of Singapore.

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Also, sink your teeth into this bad boy before you leave!

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The Singapore food festival is on at Blooms at Eros Hotel – managed by Hilton, Nehru Place, for lunch and dinner, everyday until the 25th of March, 2012. Price: 1950 INR plus taxes person.

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The Bread Lord is pleased.

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Here is proof.

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I’m not going to tell you that this was easy. It was however, completely achievable once I was determined to make it work.

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My first attempt was a miserable failure. I know now that it was because I used bad yeast.

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So that’s my first nugget of advice. Buy good yeast. I used Tesco’s dry active yeast.

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Once you mix the yeast in warm water, it will smell. A rather unpleasant odour. But this will please you, because it’s an indication you’re on the right track. This is what it should look like.

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Once the dough is mixed you’ll put it in a bright-orange bowl, cover it and leave it to rise.

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Then you will go about your business. You will look like a normal person during this time (at least to other people), but only you will know the fervent prayers you will be silently praying for the dough to rise.

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Then you will remove the cloth and find this.

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You will proceed to do a merry dance to the song Glad you came.

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Once that’s out of your system you will return to the dough, bash the air out of it, do a few other things and put it in the oven looking like this.

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This is what will emerge.

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You will look at it skeptically and wonder why it isn’t more golden-brown.
You’ll feel a bit sad. Try not to be. Please. You’ll see why.

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Once the bread is cool, you will cut into it. And marvel in your greatness.

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Seriously.

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Make this bread and feel powerful.

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Just not as powerful as the Bread Lord.
He’s a rockstar. (Said with utter respect, that.)

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Coriander and Garlic Focaccia

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Recipe adapted from: Baking step by step
Prep time: 30 mins + rising and proving time
Cook time: 20-25 mins
Serves: 6
Eat this with: A drizzle of olive oil

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Ingredients:

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1 tbsp dry active yeast or a 7 g pack of dry active yeast
425 g plain flour, plus more for dusting
2 tsp salt, plus more for sprinkling
a few sprigs of fresh coriander, chopped finely and some leaves reserved
1 tsp pepper
90 ml olive oil, plus more for greasing
10-12 cloves garlic, chopped

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Method:

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1. In a small bowl, put in the yeast and top with 4 tablespoons of warm water (not too hot). Stir once to dissolve and leave for 5 minutes.
2. In the meantime, mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the chopped coriander, pepper, 4 tablespoons of olive oil (keep the rest aside), and 240 ml lukewarm water. Add the yeast mixture. Mix all this together gently until you have a sticky dough.
3. Sprinkle some flour on a clean surface and knead the dough on it for about 10 minutes. This really requires some muscle strength!
4. Take a clean bowl, grease the inside with oil and put the dough in. Cover the bowl with a damp muslin cloth and leave in a warm place for about one and a half hours.
5. When you remove the cloth, the dough should have doubled in size. Place it on a floured surface again and knock the air out of it by kneading. Leave it on the surface, covered with a dry cloth for a few minutes.
6. Grease a baking tray and place the dough on the tray. Gently push it all over the tray, reaching the corners and trying to create an even layer. This may be a bit difficult because it is a sticky dough, but if you do it slowly it will work. Cover the tray with a dry cloth and leave in a warm place for about half an hour for the second rise.
7. Preheat the oven to 200º C. Arrange the coriander leaves on top of the dough and sprinkle the garlic pieces over. Poke dimples in the dough with your finger, and then spoon the rest of the oil all over the dough. Finish with a scatter of salt.
8. Place in the upper shelf of the oven for about 20-25 minutes. Remove from the tray and cool on a wire rack. Slice and enjoy with some olive oil drizzled over.

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Dear Bread Lord,

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I come to you with utmost submission. My respect for you knows no bounds.

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You wield the power to make things froth and bubble and rise.
I made the mistake of not asking for your blessing the first time around, and I paid for that dearly.

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Tonight as I dance the sacred dance with flour and yeast and warm water, I pray your watchful eye will be on me, and you will guide me.

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Please make the yeast froth.
Please make the dough rise.
This is my humble request.

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I hear you do not care for animal sacrifices.
So I bring you this small offering of pineapple cupcakes.

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(See how fluffy they are? The Cupcake Queen has been most kind to me. You could call her for a reference.)

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Yours respectfully,
A traumatised 2nd time attempter of bread making

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PS- I’ll be baking at 8pm tonight. Incase you need to put me down in your schedule.

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Pineapple and cream cupcakes

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Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 22-25 mins
Makes: 24

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Ingredients:

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220 g plain flour, sifted
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
175 ml buttermilk
3 large eggs
120 ml oil (I used Canola, but any vegetable oil will do)
1 tsp vanilla essence
250 g castor sugar
200 g fresh pineapple, chopped up into smallish pieces, juice retained

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For the cream frosting

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200 ml heavy cream
50 g icing sugar
drop of vanilla essence

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Method:

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For the cupcakes

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1. Preheat the oven to 160º C. Mix the flour, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl.
2. In another bowl mix the buttermilk, eggs, oil and vanilla. Add the sugar and pineapple bits (with the juices) and stir well.
3. Make a well in the centre of the flour mix and pour in the wet mixture. Combine everything well. The mixture will be slightly more runny than usual. Don’t worry about this.
4. Line two 12-holed cupcake trays with paper liners and fill each about two-thirds full with the batter. Pop in the oven for about 22 minutes or until risen and fluffy. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

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For the cream frosting

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1. Chill the bowl you will use to make the frosting for about 10 minutes. Once cold, put the cream in and beat with a hand mixer till you have soft peaks.
2. Add the sugar and vanilla, and beat again for a few minutes. Once the cupcakes cool completely, spoon some over each one.

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Pasta cravings at 10pm are quite normal in my life.
Necessary arsenal to squash such cravings is always at hand.

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Long, slippery-smooth spaghetti. Each velvety strand coated with a peach-coloured sauce.

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Fresh coriander. Stalks and leaves. Bright green flecks make everything prettier.

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Plus prawns. Aren’t they wonderful? Curled and pink and perfect. They go so well with garlic and the creamy tomato sauce.

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Quick to put together and intensely comforting. Make some at 10pm tonight :)

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Tomato-cream spaghetti with prawns

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Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Serves: 2

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Ingredients:

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100 g spaghetti, cooked al-dente according to packet instructions, with a little water reserved
1 tbsp olive oil
5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
100 g prawns, shelled, deveined and washed
5 tbsp tomato puree
salt and pepper, to taste
3 tbsp cream
1 tsp dried oregano
some chopped coriander

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Method:

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1. Place a large non-stick pan over low heat and add the olive oil. Once warm, add the garlic and stir lightly till brown. Add the prawns and stir gently.
2. Put in the tomato puree, season and stir for a couple of minutes. Stir in the cream and oregano.
3. Add the cooked spaghetti and stir everything together. Make sure the sauce coats the spaghetti well. Add the reserved pasta water if you feel it’s getting too sticky. Taste- you may need to add more salt. Take off the heat, add the coriander and mix once last time. Eat hot.

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When something looks like this before it goes in the oven, you know you’re doing it right.

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Did you know can disguise cocoa to taste like really rich, deliciously dark, sinful chocolate?

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These cocoa brownies are proof.

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They have fudgy, nutty bite, with a hint of bitter.

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Not too sweet despite the seemingly crazy amount of sugar used, they’re perfect both warm from the oven and at room temperature.

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I used the Smitten Kitchen here. The only difference is I used salted butter, and left out the flaky salt.

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Now, if you ever want to exercise your forearms- please make these brownies. The “vigorous stirring” involved is a seriously good workout. I can vouch for it ;)

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(Although eating these post that workout really takes you right back to where you were pre chiseled-forearms.) So never mind.

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Just make these. And eat them. Muscular forearms are overrated anyway.

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Empress of China, Eros Hotel

A hearty lunch with some delicious dishes that won’t leave you feeling over-stuffed is exactly how I’d describe the new lunch menu at Empress of China, Eros Hotel.

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The set menu offers five starters, five sides, noodles, rice, and a dessert.

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The dumplings were not very unusual, but quite tasty.

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What really stood out for me was the Steamed chicken with Chinese wine.
The chicken had a delicate, sweet flavour and was deliciously tender.

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Four or five of these will vanish off your plate before you know it!

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From the main course dishes, the basa with black bean was a clear winner.

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For vegetarians: the crunchy, peppery lotus stem and water chestnut stir fry is a must. And the chinese green vegetables is done very well.

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The dessert portion was large and chocolately, and although I enjoyed it, I would have preferred an oriental dessert.

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The meal offers a good variety for a very reasonable price. Try it the next time you have a meeting post-noon, or just want to sample some great oriental food!

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Empress of China
Eros Hotel, Nehru place
Steamed and Stirred menu @ 875 INR plus taxes per person
Phone: 011 26223344

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