Archive for August, 2012

Last week our ChefatLarge Blogger’s table met Aditya Bal over dinner at Veda to chat about his cookbook- Chakh le India.

Working in publishing, and having edited a few lifestyle books, I know a little thing or two about cookbooks.

1. People don’t like cheap paper in cookbooks. They like glossy, thick, shiny paper.
2. The more pictures you have, the happier the book looks. This is why step-by-step books are so popular. (I don’t like recipes without pictures, do you?)
3. If you do have pictures, and they’re such tight close ups that you can’t figure out what you’re looking at, you may as well not have the picture.

This book failed on all 3 counts.

I wanted to try a recipe from the book, but after Sid and Ruchira’s experiences I’m not so keen. Maybe if I find a recipe with a picture I like, I will at some point.

Aditya Bal himself was friendly and very down-to-earth. He answered all our questions graciously and took criticism very well. His journey from a model/actor to a chef that he told me about is an interesting one. One that proves once again it’s never too late to change your life and start doing something you really enjoy.

The food was terribly average, to the point of boring. The kind of food you eat because you’re hungry and not because you want to.

See what I mean?

Thank god for this crazy fun group of bloggers. I’d suffer many more evenings like this, if they’re around.

(Photo by: Arvind Khanna)

Oh and see the pretty lady in white? That’s Sangeeta (of Healthfood desivideshi), and we celebrated her birthday that evening with some delicious cake and infectious laughter. We love her ๐Ÿ™‚


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An Onion tart at home

I’m a bit late with this post. Been busy- but that’s no excuse. Regular posts from here on out! ๐Ÿ™‚

So when I was home last week, in between cuddles from my dog Simba, large mouthfuls of divine food, and general happiness, I realized my fingers were itching to bake something.

I didn’t want fancy. I wanted comforting and wholesome and warm. Something like home.

And something like that has to be made with ingredients you’d always have at hand.

A little bit of kneading, chopping, and whisking later I had exactly what I wanted.

This gorgeous Onion tart.

The tart case was flaky and buttery.
The caramelised onions were a beautiful honey-colour and slightly sweet.
And the cream and eggs provided an undeniable warmth.

One slice of this baby, and you’re guaranteed to close your eyes in a deep sigh.

It tastes of home.

Caramelised Onion Tart
Adapted from: Step-by-step Baking

Prep time: 25 mins
Cook time: 80-85 mins
Serves: 6


150 g plain flour
75 g butter, chilled and cut into pieces, plus extra for greasing
1 egg yolk

For the filling:

2 tbsp olive oil
25 g butter
500 g onions, finely sliced
salt and pepper to taste
200 ml cream
1 large egg, plus 1 yolk


For the tart case

1. Rub the flour and butter together in a large bowl until you have fine crumbs. Beat the egg yolk with 1 teaspoon of cold water and add it to the crumbs. Bring the mixture together with your hands to form a soft dough. Wrap in cling film and chill for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
2. Preheat the oven to 180ยบ C. Lightly grease a 22 cm (9in) loose-bottomed tart tin with butter. Roll out the dough gently and then use your hands to spread it evenly all around the base and sides of the tin. Make sure there aren’t too many bumpy parts. Use a fork to make some holes all over the dough and then cover with some baking parchment. Top with baking beans and bake for about 25 minutes. Take out from the oven, remove the parchment and the baking beans and pop back in the oven for 5 minutes more. Remove and leave to cool.

For the filling and assembling

1. Heat the oil and butter in a large non-stick pan. Add the onions and season well. Cook on high heat until the onions just begin to brown. Then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring once in a while. Remember that we want the onions to become soft, but not burn them. Take the cover off, and cook on a medium heat for about 5 minutes till any liquid in the pan dries up. Once sightly cool, spoon this onion mixture into the cooled tart case. Spread it out evenly all over the base.
2. Preheat the oven to 180ยบ C. Whisk the cream, egg, and yolk together and season well. Pour this mixture over the onions and spread it out evenly.
3. Place the tart on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. For the last 2 minutues, use your grill setting to get a lovely brown top. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Remove gently from the tin and place on a serving plate. Slice and enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

Drop me a comment telling me what food defines “home” for you ๐Ÿ™‚

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So a couple of weeks ago I won a contest on Chef at Large and the prize was delivered last week.

(FYI: If you enjoy talking about food all day and want to chat with the most serious food lovers around you need to join this FB group. Like now. It’s a ton of fun!)

My prize was a beautiful set of conical ramkeins form Urban Dazzle.

You can get yourself a set here.

I’ve been wondering what to make in them since they arrived and decided on gooey cheese souffles.

The weather’s been rather strange here: rainy and miserable some days, hot and humid on others.

Nothing that a warm, cheesy souffle straight from the oven can’t fix ๐Ÿ™‚

What I love about this recipe is that it’s quick and makes exactly three small servings. Even though they’re small, they’re pretty lethal. Especially if you use a bad-ass cheese like I did.

This bad boy came back from my parent’s trip to Germany. It’s seriously smelly. Like hard-core smelly. But I love that about it. This cheese is sure it wants to be smelly and rocks at it.

I’m pretty sure this recipe would work with any cheese, but using a mild cheese would make a mild souffle, and who wants that when you can have one bursting with flavour, right?

These are wonderfully decadent by themselves, but great with a fresh salad on the side as well. Just eat them the minute you take them out of the oven. I had to take pictures so they fell a bit flat, but still tasted amazing.

This is what happened 5 minutes after I took them out.

Mini gooey cheese souffles
(Recipe adapted from here)

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 18 mins
Makes: 3 mini servings


30 g butter, plus extra for greasing
2-3 tbsp breadcrumbs
25 g flour
1 tsp grainy mustard paste
150 ml milk
2 eggs
50 g Camembert, grated (or any other cheese of your choice)
salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat the oven to 200ยบ C. Grease the ramekins with butter and dust with the breadcrumbs, tipping out the excess.
2. Melt the butter in a non-stick pan, and stir in the flour and mustard, cooking it for a minute. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the milk a little at time until you have a smooth sauce. Put it back on a medium flame and keep stirring until the sauce thickens to almost a paste. Remove from the heat, place in a bowl and allow to cool.
3. Separate the eggs and whisk the whites until stiff with an electric whisk.
4. Stir the yolks into the cooled white sauce. Add the cheese and season. Very carefully fold the egg whites into the cheese mix trying to keep the volume.
5. Spoon into the ramekins, filling each about two-thirds full. Create a “top-hat” by running a blunt knife around the edge of the mixture, all around the inside edge of each ramekin. Place them on a baking tray and bake for about 18 mins. Remove and eat immediately.

Have a fun, fun weekend folks! ๐Ÿ™‚

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It was one of those happy afternoons. The food was excellent. The company was fun. And everywhere you looked, your eyes met something beautiful.

All of us bloggers were invited to Olive Bar and Kitchen by the Dalmia group to sample various Chef Saby creations all made in Leonardo Olive oil.

Himani Dalmia of Dalmia Continental introduced us to Leonardo Olive oil- the various grades and uses. Here she is talking to all of us.

The renowned Chef Saby (who I have to say is the friendliest, funniest chef I’ve met!) then took us through some really easy preparations using olive oil. The Olive chain of restaurants all use Leonardo Olive oil for their cooking. Chef Saby also successfully concluded the debate on the eternally maligned poor Olive Pomace oil, making it clear that it was perfectly safe to use, great for frying, and excellent for Indian food.

He then demonstrated a lovely fried asparagus and fried basa in Olive Pomace Oil. The batter was made frothy and light with a nitrogen infusion. Here he’s showing us how to do it.

All through this we were nibbling at the beautifully presented anti-pasti platters set up for us, with slices of thin crust pizza in between and delicious swigs of Sangria.

Here’s a look at what we ate.

Cold cut platter.

Assorted cheese platter.

Some of us felt like we had been transported to another serene world filled with delicious food.

Doesn’t Sangeeta look like that? ๐Ÿ™‚

We all took several pictures- only because everything was so photo-worthy. It seems like all we had to do was point and shoot to get a stunning image.

Here’s Sid having some fun with the camera ๐Ÿ™‚

The main courses arrived as we sat around two large tables which had been set in the most charming way.

All the food was prepared and/or drizzled in Leonardo Olive oil.

Sizzling Gambas- in which the pomace olive oil was the hero of the dish, coating the prawns and olives, making them glisten.

Pasta Marinara with a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive oil and a generous, generous sprinkling of Parmesan.

Classical tenderloin lasagna Bolognaise-meaty and cheesy. Yum.

Black truffle porcini risotto, which was utterly divine. The deep truffle flavour was heady.

The desserts were all delicious…

…but the Tiramisu had us swooning.

After a guided tour around the kitchen, and some digesting, we were all smiles.

It’s always nice to spend time getting to know a product we all use so often, and how best to use it. A big thank you to Himani and the Dalmia group, as well as Chef Saby and his team at Olive for such a memorable afternoon.

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