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Archive for May, 2012

Our monthly bloggers’ meet for May was at Jaypee Palace Hotel in Agra. Sid, Sangeeta, and I headed out early on Saturday morning and spent the day there.


A beautiful place to spend a weekend with family or friends, Jaypee Palace has something for everyone.


There are various types of rooms and suites available; all the way from a regular deluxe room to the grand Presidential suite (which comes with bulletproof windows!).



What I loved was that even the deluxe rooms had a small patio overlooking the grounds- perfect for a cup of tea early in the morning.


The hotel has a rather quaint tea room, a mixed buffet breakfast, and a Chinese restaurant called C’est Chine where we had our lunch.


Chef Tong cooked for us in a lovely open kitchen and the smells which emanated built up quite an appetite in all of us.



The memorable dishes included a soft steamed Basa cooked Hongkong style, and the crispy corn kernels made with a dusting of cornflour.




The hotel also has a jogging track, a pool, tennis lawns, and even tree house for kids to play in. I was particularly struck by how massive the property is.



Both inside the rooms and indoors in general, as well as in the lawns outside- there is a wonderful sense of space and freedom- something that us Delhites understand the value of.



This place is also a paradise for bird watchers. Sangeeta was happily surprised at the number of unusual birds she spotted very easily all over the grounds. Like this little Drongo who was rather camera shy.



My most favourite part of the hotel is the bowling alley. Agra’s only at the moment, this could provide hours of fun for people of all age groups. In the same area, there are also pool and air hockey tables. Right next to it is a mini auditorium for movie screenings and a disco-setup for private parties.



The next time you want to get away from the madness of Delhi, head to Jaypee Palace for the weekend. You could indulge in a bunch of activites or just inhale the fresh air and come back totally refreshed.


PS: Look at what my fortune cookie said!



Quite perfect, right? :)

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Say hello to another Lord of the Rings dessert.


It’ll be easier, because unlike the last one, this one actually has recognizable eyes! :)


From the second movie of The Lord of the Rings trilogy- The Two Towers, here is my rendition of an Ent.



What is an Ent?


Very simply- a talking, walking, Middle-earth inhabiting tree.


Here’s an Ent from the movie.



Mine’s cuter, right?


The best part is this tart doesn’t taste like tree at all.
It’s quite yummy actually.



I’m assuming not all of you are going to drop everything you’re doing and run off to make a tart that looks like an old tree. So I’ll give you a brief version of the recipe. Just holler in the comments below if you want anything explained in more detail.


I made my basic pie crust.
Topped it with a coffee-cream filling.
Over that went a semi-solid ganache that I shaped into a generic tree bark.



I used brown icing for the eyes and used a fork for some texture over the ganache.


I also made chocolate leaves!
This is easier than you think.


I melted white chocolate and coloured it green. Then I washed some real leaves and coated the reverse side with the green melted chocolate.
After about an hour in the fridge, I simply peeled off the real leaf and was left with gorgeous, bright green, white chocolate leaves.



I think the chocolate leaves will look rather smashing on cupcakes. What do you think?



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It was all yellow

Summer is upon us.


It’s time for all things cool, and fresh, and light.


It gets really hot and grimy in Delhi where I live so I want to share a list of my happy summer things with you :)


Which of these do you love?


Watermelon
Vanilla ice-cream
Linen pants
Fruit cocktails
Mangoes
The colour of the sky
Strappy tops
Longer days
Cold showers
Lemon juice
Indoor afternoons
Sunglasses
Flip-flops
Iced tea
Anything white
High hairdos
Whipped cream


My favourite summer fruit has to be mango.


Every time I smell a sweet mango I’m transported back to my childhood when Mum and Dad would make the most delicious fresh mango ice-cream.


These mango muffins taste a little bit like them. They’re soft and creamy and full of mango flavour.



I used the same recipe as my Banana muffins, substituting the bananas with the pulp of 2 sweet, ripe mangoes. I also added 2 tablespoons of milk to the batter.



Bake some for a taste of summer!



Hoping yours is bright and beautiful :)



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Gandalf: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”


Books can be such powerful things.


They carry us away to magical places.


They teach us to stand for courage and truth.


They comfort us, support us, and sometimes change us.


The Lord of the Rings is a one such book.


My uncle introduced me to Tolkien and the world of fantasy when I was a teenager. I loved it so much, I wanted to be an elf.


The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy did a fantastic job of bringing some our beloved characters to life.


I never tire of watching the movies. So last Saturday, when some friends had a Fellowship of the Ring viewing party, I wanted to make something special.


I scoured the internet only to be reminded (sadly) how basic my baking skills were.


I mean look at this.



And this.



Seriously? (those are cakes, by the way.)


But this one is my fav :)



I decided what I could do were Sauron’s eye cupcakes. For the uninitiated, Sauron is the evil force the protagonists must battle in The Lord of the Rings. For more, read this.


I used my basic vanilla cupcake recipe, but added a little buttermilk to the batter for extra softness. I divided the batter and then coloured half orange and the other yellow.



They came out of the oven looking beautiful.



Then I did some regular buttercream icing in yellow and orange, and ran a fork along the sides. It all came together with a streak of black down the centre.



If LOTR fans can’t see the resemblance, this may help.



Do you see it now? :)



I leave you with a rather unforgettable exchange.


Aragorn: Gentlemen, we do not stop ’til nightfall.
Pippin: What about breakfast?
Aragorn: You’ve already had it.
Pippin: We’ve had one, yes. What about second breakfast?
Merry: I don’t think he knows about second breakfast, Pip.
Pippin: What about elevenses? Luncheon? Afternoon tea? Dinner? Supper? He knows about them, doesn’t he?
Merry: I wouldn’t count on it.


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Step 1- Believe you can do it.

Step 2- Choose a pie that looks really impressive, but is actually pretty easy to make. Like this one.

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Step 3- Eat some chocolate. This is an important step. No skipping.

Now let’s get cracking, shall we?

Step 4- Gather your ingredients. Start with the pastry. This is what holds your pie together, literally. We want it to be crumbly and buttery and perfect.

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Step 5- Mix the meats. Here I’ve used chicken, pork, and ham. Say with me: there is no such thing as too much meat. Or chocolate. Eat another piece. It’ll give you the energy burst you need to keep going.

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Step 6- Stuff the filling into the pastry. Also add your secret ingredient. I’ll tell you about that in a bit :)

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Step 7- Cover the pie with a top layer of pastry. Cover any untidy bits with pretty pastry leaves. Add a foil chimney so the insides cook. Also tidy up a bit. Look how messy the table is!

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Step 8- Put the pie in the oven to bake. Now eat some more chocolate. Play catch with your dog. Sing a song.

Step 9- Remove from the oven. Look- you did it!

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Isn’t she a beauty?
Now after it cools a bit, transfer to a plate.

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Step 10- Gather your friends. Slice the pie. Remember the secret ingredient? Surprise!
Boiled eggs! :) Hidden inside the meat pie. Slice, share, and taste.

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Step 11- Stand back and watch as everyone worships at your feet.

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Kickass pie. You can do it. (With chocolate, of course).

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Meat and egg pie
Largely adapted from: Step by step Baking

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Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 1 and a 1/2 hours
Serves: 8
Eat this with: A fresh salad

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Ingredients:

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For the pastry

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500 g plain flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
2 tsp salt
75 g butter, chilled and cut into small pieces, plus extra for greasing
75 g dalda (or lard), chilled and cut into small pieces

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For the filling

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5 eggs, hard-boiled and peeled, plus 3 more eggs
450 g chicken mince
450 g pork mince
250 g ham, chopped into small pieces
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
salt and pepper, to taste

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Method:

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For the pastry

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1. Put the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and dalda, and mix gently with a fork until you have fine crumbs.
2. Add 150ml water and mix together briefly. Then place the dough on a floured surface and knead until smooth. Wrap in cling film and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
3. Grease a 9inch tin with butter. Take about ¾ of the dough and roll it out on a floured surface. It should be the size of the tin, with about ½ inch overhang. Gently lift into the greased tin and press onto the base and sides.

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For the filling and assembling

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1. Put all the meat in a bowl. Add the lemon zest, nutmeg, all the herbs, and salt and pepper. Whisk 2 eggs and add to the meat. Mix everything together until the filling begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
2. Preheat the oven to 200º C. Put half the meat filling into the tin. Place the 5 hard-boiled eggs on top, at regular intervals. Cover with the remaining meat filling, and fold over the dough overhang.
3. Beat the remaining egg with a little salt and brush the edges of the pie with it.
4. Roll out the remaining dough and cover the top of the pie with it. With the extra bits of dough, carve out diamond shapes and mark veins in them with a knife. Arrange these all over the pie and brush with the egg glaze.
5. Make a chimney with some foil and insert it in the middle of the pie. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 1 hour. Then reduce the heat to 180º C, remove the foil chimney and bake for another 30 minutes. Let it cool slightly before removing from the tin. Slice and serve.

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All good things start small.

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It began with a question: Wouldn’t it be great to connect some wonderful food bloggers through a surprise gift exchange?

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Who doesn’t like surprise presents, right?

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Bloggers from all over the country were paired up with each other. Each blogger had to send their partner a surprise parcel with some local food stuff, small gifts, and anything else they wanted. (It was recommended to include a handwritten note.) Then you would blog about it.

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At the start we had 18 bloggers. Some couldn’t manage it, but most did.

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Here are all the bloggers who signed up:

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Deeps of Naughty Curry
Madhuri of Cook Curry Nook
Sarita of The Clean Toothpick
Pratiksha of Honeyed Pandemonium
Jeetendra of Moody Foodie
Siri of Cooking with Siri
Apeksha of Veggie Wiz
Poorna of Presented by P
Ameya of Kitty in the Kitchen
Sid of Chef at Large
Ruchira of The Great Cookaroo
Geetha of Fragrant Kitchen
Renuka of Pinch of Salt
Marsha of The Harried Cook
Sangeeta of Health Food Desi Videshi
Rekha of My Tasty Curry
Nikhil of Nonchalant Gourmand

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Largely it’s been a success. From the feedback I’ve gotten, it seems that some packages lacked thought, while some others really went all out. That was bound to happen I guess.

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All I can say for sure, is that my partner did not disappoint. Not one bit :)

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Deeps, who blogs at Naughty Curry is one of the warmest people I know, and her blog is stunning to say the least. She has easy to follow step-by-step images with her recipes that make it a pleasure to cook, and her photographs always make me hungry.

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Look at this stash of wonderful things she sent me!

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My parcel included:

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A lovely bottle of orange-champagne marmalade. Yum!

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Some Sri-Lankan Blackcurrant tea. Very thoughtful, because she knows I’m a tea person.

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Mango pulp. You can’t go wrong with this.

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Lindt Intense orange dark chocolate! I’m saving this to savour it greedily, all by myself :D

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And, my favourite thing: Masala biscuits which she baked just for me. They’re delicious by the way.

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I also got a beautiful handwritten note with some really encouraging, positive words. Did I mention that all the gifts were tied up with a light-blue polka dotted ribbon? Too cute!

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Thank you so much Deeps. You’re wonderful! :)

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If you’re curious to see what I sent to Deeps, go here.

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If we do this again (I really want to!), and you’re interested to join, just leave me a comment below saying you are and I’ll get in touch!
It’s a wonderful feeling to spread a little joy :)

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