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Archive for June, 2012

Event: Bloggers get-together in June
Location: Blooms at Eros Hotel – managed by Hilton, Nehru Place
What we were pigging out on: South Indian food


It’s always fun to meet new bloggers and it’s even more fun to do it over good food. At the South Indian food festival in Blooms, I met Ruchira and Sushmita for the first time, and of course Sid, Rekha, Sangeeta, and Belly Centric. We missed Parul!


The evening started with some delicious mor- a spiced buttermilk drink. I think I had about 10 glasses in the course of the evening.


Oh look- I need another right about now.



This was followed by an assortment of fried items- veggies, prawns, and fish.




Some moist and flaky steamed fish, anyone?



There was a whole host of curries and rice to try, including Allepey prawn curry (Fresh prawns simmered in raw mango and coconut gravy) and Khuska sadam (fragrant basmati rice cooked in robust mutton stock). What I enjoyed most though, were the live stations. Here I had Kothu Parotta which the chef informed us was a way to use up leftovers. Old parathas and leftover meat and veggies are mixed and chopped up vigorously with some egg. It’s rather delicious. The chef is whipping up some for us here.



Another favourite was the egg appam with chicken stew. The stew was excellent: warm and coconut-ty, it reminded me of home.
I’m sorry my egg appam looks like the surface of an alien planet. I’m still getting familiar with my camera :)



After some sinful desserts which included Mysore pak (gram flour and milk based dried cake) and Godumei haluwa (whole wheat and milk based pudding with clarified butter) Sid handed out some free books! This is the one I got: The Taj Conspiracy. Looking forward to reading it. I haven’t read a good thriller in a while.


Here’s the whole well-fed lot of us. Can’t wait for the next time :)



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There were 2 birthdays this past week.


I turned 28. The thing is, in my head I don’t feel a day over 18. Actually 15. Maybe 10.


And, (*drumroll please*) this blog turned 1! Can you imagine?


I’ve been blogging for a whole year! When I started, I really never thought the experience would be so rewarding and wonderful. It’s been the best thing ever!


That’s why I want to share 10 things I’ve learnt about food blogging over the past year.


1. Food bloggers are cool. You will be a part of a wonderful, friendly, lively community that’s always willing to share knowledge and teach you things. I have met some fantastic bloggers and they’re some of the nicest people I know. Here are some of them.



2. It’s easy at the start. When you begin writing you’re brimming with enthusiasm, excitement and the thrill of people reading your blog. The hard part is keeping it up. I think the trick is to make it a part of your life. I can’t go without writing a post for too many days.



3. Of love handles and pudginess. You will get fat. But wait! Only if you don’t exercise at all. (My exercises include kickboxing and dancing around my room) All those divine things you bake go directly to your waistline. So share! Everytime I bake something, I eat a little bit and pack the rest up for friends, co-workers or neighbours.



4. Failures are the best lessons. Blog about your successes, but also about your failures (like this one). One thing I’ve learnt is that failures in the kitchen make funny stories. And funny stories make great blog posts. And then the failure isn’t a failure anymore- it’s a success! :) Am I rambling? Okay I’ll stop now.



5. The curse of the camera. You will NEVER be able to eat anything exciting without taking a picture of it first. People will groan and complain as the food goes cold while you focus and adjust and take pictures from every angle possible till it’s right. We’re serious photographers, what can I say? :P



6. Interaction is a significant thing. Always comment on other blogs you love. And acknowledge comments on your own blog. You will gain loyal readers when you do this, and maybe even friends from around the world. When I initiated a foodie exchange program I had the chance to interact with some fabulous food bloggers from all over the country. I also got a pile of presents! So MUCH fun :D



7. You can find inspiration anywhere. Bake things that make you happy. Be inspired by everything you enjoy. From movies, like this and this, to books like this and this. Or just love :)



8. You will learn SO much. When I started I never imagined I would be able to bake/cook the things I can. I never thought I’d be able to make a kickpass pie or a monkey cake or chocolate eclairs. I never thought I’d be able to bake 100 cupcakes in a single day and I most definitely didn’t think I could pull off a seven layer rainbow cake. But I did. And you can too.



9. You’ll earn cool nicknames. Mine include Cupcake Queen, Baking Diva, and Psycho Baker. The last one is my fav :D



10. Be true to yourself. Write what you believe in. Write the way you’re comfy in. Do things your way. Do serious posts, or yummy posts, or posts about a wonderful friend, or your Mum or how you love instant noodles. But don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Your readers will be able to tell. And you won’t feel good. And that’s not fun, is it? :) Celebrate what you are.


But how exactly do you celebrate yourself? I have the answer my darlings.


Make yourself this cupcake.



I think it’s the prettiest thing I’ve ever made :)



One pretty cupcake


Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 12 mins
Makes: 1


Ingredients:


3 tbsp plain flour, sifted
1 tbsp melted butter
1 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp milk
2 drops vanilla essence
1/4 tsp baking powder


For the buttercream rose


30 g butter, softened
50 g icing sugar, sifted, plus a bit more if needed
2 tsp milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 drop pink food colour


Method:


For the pretty cupcake


1. Preheat the oven to 180º C. Mix everything together in a small bowl, making sure it’s all incorporated till you have a smooth, shiny batter.
2. Line a cupcake tray with a single paper liner, and spoon the batter into it. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. Remove and cool on a wire rack.


For the buttercream rose


1. Mix all the ingredients together. The buttercream should be on the stiffer side so that when you pipe the rose, it holds its shape. If it’s too wet, add more icing sugar till it’s stiff enough.
2. Spoon the icing into a piping bag and use this tip.



I don’t know what it’s called so I took a picture :)
3. Now you’ll need an icing pin. Don’t worry if you don’t have one. I didn’t either. I created a make-shift one. Here’s how: Take an un-used pencil and stick a small piece (slightly bigger than your cupcake size) of cardboard on the even end of the pencil. Stick a piece of parchment paper over that. Now hold the piping bag in one hand, and the pencil with the carboard in the other. Pipe onto the paper, with the wide end of the tip facing downwards. Start in the centre and pipe a small circle, while twirling the pencil. This is the centre of your rose. Then keep adding strips of icing all around till you have a rose of your desired size, while twirling the pencil throughout. Once you’re happy with the size, carefully remove the parchment paper with the rose and pop it in the fridge for a few minutes. Once it hardens a bit, remove the rose gently and transfer it onto your cupcake. (Here is brilliant video by a brilliant blogger where I learnt how to make this fancy rose.)



And that’s how you celebrate what you are, friends! :) Please try it.


It’s been such a crazy, happy, yummy ride and I want to thank each and every one of you for reading. As a special thank you, I’m announcing my very first giveaway! One of my amazing readers will win a copy of this book:



It’s pretty and fun, and stuffed full of fantastic recipes! Go here to look inside it. If you want a chance to win this, just leave a comment below telling me what makes you happy. I’ll choose one winner through a random draw and send the book off to you wherever you are. I will also include a love note, ’cause I’m sweet like that ;) This giveaway is open till 15th July, 2012. This giveaway is now closed.


And just incase I’ve not said this enough- I love you all!


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In my book, blogging = learning.


It’s about trying new things.


Sometimes you’re lucky to have big wins like this one, and sometimes you fail miserably.


It involves learning, eating cookies, taking pictures, licking leftover frosting, sighing, laughing and writing.


And I love every single bit of it.


These macarons are imperfect. But I also think they’re beautiful.
I wish the tops didn’t crack, but they still tasted good.


There will always be more to learn. I love that :)


Here’s what I did.


Folding as carefully as I can.



Piping is clearly something I need training in :P



Cracked on top, but each one unique!



Buttercream looks good, doesn’t it?



A peep inside.



Pink macarons. Crackly shells, almondy centres, and coffee cream.



Baby pink macarons with coffee buttercream


Prep time: 25 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Makes: 18


Ingredients:


2 egg whites
60 g caster sugar
100 g icing sugar, sifted
80 g ground almond powder
2 drops pink food colouring


For the buttercream


2 tsp coffee powder
2 tsp boiling water
120 g unsalted butter, softened
200 g icing sugar, sifted
few drops of vanilla extract


Method:


For the macarons


1. Preheat the oven to 150º C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. (I only have one, so I did this twice.) Use a large coin or medium sized badge to draw 3cm circles on the paper. Leave some space in between the circles. Invert the paper and set aside.
2. In a clean, dry bowl, whisk the egg whites till they’re stiff using an electric beater. Add the caster sugar a little at a time, and whisk some more until the mixture is even stiffer.
3. Mix the icing sugar and almond powder together in a bowl. Carefully fold this into the egg white mixture, mixing gently in one direction, trying not to lose volume.
4. When you’re sure everything is evenly combined, transfer the mixture to a piping bag. Pipe gently into the circles on the parchment. Try to keep the circles a consistent size. (Although this is easier said than done!) Comes with practice I guess! :)
5. Bang the baking tray down on a table so that any uneven bits on the surface flatten. Pop the tray into the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove and cool on a wire rack.


For the buttercream


1. Dissolve the coffee powder in the boiling water. Put the butter and icing sugar in a mixing bowl and mix with an electric beater for a few minutes.
2. Add the coffee and the vanilla. Whizz again. Set aside.


Assembling


Spoon some buttercream onto the flat side of half the macaroons. Top with the other halves. Serve!


*IMPORTANT NEWS ALERT*


CulinaryStorm is now a .com


It’s only been possible because of the encouragement I’ve received from all of you!
Please keep reading. I can promise you that the next post in particular will be pretty special :)
Love you guys! Have a super week!

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I’m quite mixed up.


When people ask me where I’m from, I try to explain this pie chart to them.



Add to that the places where I’ve lived: Shillong, Calcutta, and Delhi.


I’ve grown up eating all kinds of food and I’m quite comfortable with a variety of tastes.


Also the fact that I come from a seriously crazy food-loving family. Here are some examples:


My grandmom makes a mean lemon tart.


My aunt is a speciality cake queen.


My uncle is a genius with pork.


My mum makes the most heavenly biryani.


And my dad can bake more than a 100 fruit cakes in a day.


I wanted to celebrate all those wonderful food experiences and that led to this: I’ve thought about this 100 Indian foods (and drinks) to try before you die list for months now. There can never be a perfect representation, because we’re a great nation of incredible food. I have tried to represent as many places as possible, but I’m sure some wonderful stuff has been left out. This is just my list, but I thought it would be fun to share it with you all. If you’re not sure what the dish is, click on it for a brief web description.


100 Indian foods (and drinks) to try before you die


Aachar
Aam panna
Appam and chicken stew
Aloo gobi
Aloo paratha
Aloo tikki
Anda bhurjee
Avial
Bamboo shoot pork
Beef fry
Bheja
Bhel puri
Bhetki paturi
Bread pakora/ bread roll
Butter chicken
Chaat (papri, aloo, raj kachori)
Chicken pakora
Chicken tikka masala
Chiwra
Chole bhature
Chuski
Daab chingri
Dal baati churma
Dal makhani
Dahi bhalla
Dhansak
Dhokla
Dosa
Dubka
Egg curry
Fenny
Gajar ka halwa
Galouti kebab
Ghugni
Goan sausages
Gobi manchurian
Golgappa/Panipuri/Puchka
Gujia
Haleem
Idli and sambar
Jadoh
Jal jeera
Jalebi
Kadhai chicken
Kadhi
Kahwah
Kaju barfi
Kedgeree
Keema matar
Khandvi
Kheer/Phirni
Khichdi
Kulfi and falooda
Laccha paratha
Laddoo
Lassi
Lemon rice
Luchi/puri
Maggi noodles
Malabar or Kerala paratha
Malai kofta
Masala chai
Masala coke/pepsi
Matar pulao
Mishti doi
Momos
Moong dal halwa
Muglai parantha
Mulligatawny
Mutton biryani
Naan
Nihari
Paan
Paapad/poppadam
Palak paneer/shahi paneer
Pao bhaji
Paya
Pork vindaloo
Rabri
Raita
Rajma
Rasam
Rasgulla
Rasmalai
Rogan josh
Roll
Samosa
Sandesh
Sarson ka saag and makki ki roti
Shahi tukra
Shammi/sheekh kebab
Sheermaal
Sorcshe ilish
Sorpotel
Tandoori chicken
Thukpa
Toddy
Upma
Uttapam
Vada pav


I’ve been lucky enough to have eaten/drunk all of these. Leave a number in the comments below telling me how many you’ve tried :) Also, let me know what you would add to this list. Have I left out any of your favourites?


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Banoffee pie is magical. You have to agree.
Gooey caramel, you’re wonderful. I want to marry thee.
Biscuit, bananas, and whipped cream: how perfect are you three?
Banoffee pie is magical. You have to agree.


Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I can tell you about the Banoffee challenge.


To celebrate watching the final part of the LOTR trilogy- The Return of the King (btw how HOT is Aragorn?!), two Banoffees were to be made. One by me and one by a friend.



Except that this friend bought it instead of making it! He wants to remain name-less of course, but it’s his birthday today- so Happy Birthday :)


I tried to create Anduril (Aragorn’s sword) on my Banoffee pie. It is of course, more the spirit of the sword, than a realistic version :)



At the end of the day, there was just a lot of delicious Banoffee on everyone’s plate. And no one was complaining :)



If you want to see what I baked for the other LOTR movie viewings, here they are:


The Fellowship of the Ring- Sauron’s eye cupcakes
The Two Towers- Ent Tart
Also, I made Banoffee once before with ice-cream instead of cream. We died a bit with the sweetness, but other than that it was nice!


Mondays are better with Banoffee pie. Actually all days are :)
Make some and you’ll see.


Banoffee Pie


Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 4 hours (the caramel) + cooling + setting
Serves: 8


Ingredients:


400g tin condensed milk
120 g digestive biscuits, roughly crushed
30 g butter, melted
3 ripe bananas, sliced into rounds
200 ml cream
2 tbsp icing sugar


Method:


1. First we need to make the Dulce de leche. This is the BEST caramel of your life. And it couldn’t be easier to make. Just put an unopened tin of condensed milk in a pan of water (the tin should be covered all the way with water) and let it boil on a simmer for 4 hours. Keep adding water to make sure the whole tin is covered throughout the boiling process. After 4 hours, take it off the flame and let it come to room temperature. Open it only once it’s absolutely cool. What you see will be the best caramel you’ve ever eaten.
2. Mix the crushed biscuits with the melted butter and line the base of your serving dish with the biscuit crumbs in an even layer, pressing down as you do so.
3, Add your heavenly caramel or Dulce de leche all over the biscuit base in an even layer. Top with the sliced bananas and refrigerate.
4. Whip the cream with the icing sugar till semi-solid peaks form. Take the dish out of the refrigerator and put the whipped cream over the bananas in an even layer, before chilling again. Let it set overnight for best results or at least for 5 hours before you dig in.

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