Archive for May, 2013

Recently, the CAL Blogger’s table had the opportunity to visit The International Institute of Culinary Arts in Hauz Khas.

We were invited to sample a 5-course French meal prepared by the 1st year students of the institute.

The institute was started in 2005 by Mr V.S Dutta with a vision “to become India’s finest culinary institute delivering international standards of culinary education and training chefs for tomorrow.”

Before the lunch we were given a tour.

We saw some fantastic sugar work action (we even learnt a trick or two).


And also checked out the kitchen where our lunch was being prepped and prepared.

Salads being plated

We were then seated at an elegant, tastefully set table with refreshing bright-yellow lemon drinks. I must add that there was some very romantic French instrumental music in the background that did its part in mentally transporting us.

Table setting

The first course was the very classic Salad Nicoise. This is a salad I’ve eaten in several places across the city and I have to say this is the best rendition of it I have tasted. Not only did it include all the right elements (right down to potatoes, capers, and anchovy paste), but it was also plated in a simple way that made it look just beautiful. I could go on about the mix of textures and flavours in this dish (the meatiness of the tuna, the creaminess of the egg, the sharpness of the olives, the fishy-ness of the anchovies, the crunchiness of the beans) but it will suffice to say I absolutely loved it. (I still have dreams about that wonderful anchovy paste.)

Salad Nicoise

The second course was Soupe a l’Oignon or French onion soup. The soup was mild and not onion-y enough in my opinion. Traditionally it is made with beef stock which lends it a stronger base flavour, but here it was made with chicken stock which is obviously weaker. The Gruyere-covered baguette could have done with a little more bubbling cheese.

Soupe a l'Oignon

There was an assortment of freshly baked bread and herbed butter at the table, which we were constantly nibbling at. Can someone please tell me how, just how, breadsticks are so awesome?

Bread and butter

The third course was Sole Meuniere. The fish was cooked to perfection – moist and covered with a very light lemon-butter sauce. It came seated on a bed of delicious sauteed spinach, accompanied by a posh lady lemon wedge who looked like she was carrying an olive hand-bag! No, seriously! Look πŸ™‚

Sole Meuniere

The fourth course was Poulet Saute Chasseur or Hunter style chicken. Crispy skinned chicken, covered in a rich brown sauce, served with a steamed vegetables and some divinely buttery baby chateau potatoes.

Poulet Saute Chasseur

The fifth and final course was my favourite. Yes, yes, it was the dessert course – a stunning Mango Romanoff. A chilled cream and sweet mango marriage, topped with a crisp sugar-work web. Inside there was also a thick mango puree (not too sweet) which added even more flavour. We all devoured this dessert like it was the end of the world. And believe me, I’d do it again.

Mango Romanoff

Post this wonderful, wonderful lunch it was time to meet the very talented students and the teacher-chefs while we snacked on some petit fours with tea.

Petit fours

If you’re someone who’s been thinking about taking a cooking course or want to study the art, this seems like a wonderful place to do it. The teachers are inspired and fun, and the stuff you learn is bound to be delicious!

I’m tempted to do it myself!

Here’s the very happy bunch of us. Thank you to all the students and staff at IICA for making it a truly memorable French afternoon.

The whole group

Read what the others there had to say:

Sid from Chef at Large
Himanshu from The White Ramekins
Mukta from Bake-a-mania
Tanya from Communicating and Cooking
Aishwarya from Aishwarya Eats


The following lucky folks have each won a 150/- INR FoodPanda voucher.

1. priyankazneverland
2. Philip
3. who am i??? (@myscribblings)
4. kumartarang
5. Nungshi Singha
6. Manasvi

Send me an email at charis1984@gmail.com and I will send you the voucher codes. Congratulations πŸ™‚


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At precisely 2pm every afternoon, post my lunch, I’m hit with an unavoidable sugar craving.

Usually there is a way to fix it – I take a quick walk with a friend and pick up a small pudding cup.
Or I remember there’s chocolate in my bag. Or maybe some blessed soul has brought mithai to office.

But on the days when there is nothing sweet around, I’m a little like this:

Grumpy cat

So I’ve always been on the lookout for something healthy + sweet that I can keep by my desk for those pesky sugar cravings.

And you’ll be please to know – I have found it, my sweet peas.

And here they are.

Mini chocolate discs 1

Made with just dark chocolate and an assortment of dried fruit and nuts, they’re the perfect healthy sweet fix.

Mini chocolate discs 2

You can experiment with what you want to put on the discs – I did coconut, almonds, cashews, prunes and raisins.

Mini chocolate discs 3

Once you have the ingredients, all you have to do is happily plonk the dry fruit and nuts over the chocolate. Or you could arrange them with precision and artistry. Just have fun with it!

Mini chocolate discs 4

Mix and match to make each one look different.

Mini chocolate discs 5

They’re the perfect size when you want a hit of sweetness.

Make some now! πŸ™‚

Mini chocolate discs 6

2-ingredient mini dark chocolate discs
Adapted from: Undressed Skeleton

Prep time: 5 mins, plus setting
Makes: 12


125 g dark chocolate
a handful of your favourite dried fruits and nuts


1. Melt the chocolate in a microwave or in a double boiler. Line a tray with some grease-proof paper.
2. Using a tablespoon, scoop out melted chocolate and create small circles on the paper, flattening gently as you go. Add a mix of dried fruits and nuts over the circles and leave to set in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Remove gently from the paper and eat, or store in a sealed container in the fridge.


Have you guys heard of Food Panda? A website that allows you to order food online, these guys have scouted your city and put together the menus of hundreds of restaurants in your area. It’s super easy to use, really fast and they’ve even listed places with discounts and special vouchers together for your convenience. Pretty cool, right?

Food Panda wants to offer 6 lucky readers a 150/- INR voucher to use the next time you’re hungry! All you have to do visit Food Panda, and tell me which restaurant you’d love to order from. Yup, that simple.

I’ll pick 6 winners by a random draw and announce them in my next post πŸ™‚

Have a fun week ahead, lovelies!

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Do you like carrots?

The bright orange colour?
The happy crunch it makes when it meets your teeth?
The gentle sweetness?

I do.

carrot cake 1

These days I often just wash and eat them as they are – a mobile snack.

On other days when I have more energy, I cut them into sticks and eat them with a yummy yogurt-mustard-garlic dip.

So I decided it was time to use this bright and happy vegetable in a cake.

carrot cake 2

Not a carrot cake smothered in so much cream-cheese frosting that you can’t taste the carrot any more.

No way. In this cake, the carrot is the star.

carrot cake 3

It’s also really healthy and good for you. So reach for that third slice like you own it, sistah.

There’s something so happy about the colour orange, isn’t there?

Look at this freshly squeezed orange juice. Sunshine πŸ™‚

carrot cake 4

I made one large cake and 2 mini cakes with this recipe.

carrot cake 5

The cake isn’t too sweet at all, and it’s crazy moist.

carrot cake 6

Here’s the recipe if you want to give it a whirl.

Carrot and olive oil cake
Recipe adapted from: The Diabetes cooking book

Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 90 mins
Serves: 10


250 g plain flour, sifted
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
250 ml olive oil (I used Leonardo Olive oil)
100 g brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tbsp honey
juice and zest of 1 large orange, plus juice of one more
400 g carrots, roughly grated
50 g walnuts, roughly chopped
butter, for greasing


1. Preheat the oven to 160ΒΊ C. Place the flour, cinnamon, and baking soda in a large bowl and mix to combine.
2. In another bowl, mix together the olive oil, sugar, eggs, honey, and juice of 1 orange. Add this to the flour mixture and mix well until smooth. Add the orange zest, carrots, and walnuts and mix to evenly distribute in the batter.
3. Grease a 9-inch round cake tin with butter and pour the batter in. Bake in the preheated oven for 90 minutes, or until set and firm.
4. Remove the cake from the oven, and while it is hot, pierce it all over with a toothpick. Drizzle the juice of 1 orange all over the cake. Let it cool in its tin and absorb the juice, before turning out onto a wire rack or serving plate. Eat warm.

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Pot pies are located smack in the middle of the comfort food zone.

Think about it. Bite-sized pieces of veggies and chicken covered in a creamy sauce and topped with a flaky, buttery, crisp puff-pastry cover.

pot pie 1

Soo good.

But all that cream and butter, you say?

I hear you, my darlings.

Which is why I’ve given these pot pies a healthy spin. Don’t worry – they still taste as comforting and creamy. But a touch healthier.

I substituted the cream with yogurt which allowed me to retain the creaminess minus the fat. Also, I chose to load up on the 1 vegetable I used because I love it.

The zucchini-chicken filling is simply flavoured and the puff pastry is store-bought so it’s super easy to put together.

pot pie 2

If you’re a puff-pastry purist, and you only make it yourself and wouldn’t dream of using store-bought, I can only say this:

pot pie 3

If you’re a baker, I agree you should know how to make it, but once you do, you realise HOW much easier it is to buy it! And it’s tastes just as good, if not better πŸ™‚

Healthy chicken and zucchini pot pies

Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Makes: 3-4 mini pot pies


1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp mixed dried herbs
100 g cooked chicken, shredded (or boiled with salt and pepper, then shredded)
1 zucchini, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
100 g yogurt
butter, for greasing
flour, for dusting
1 sheet puff pastry

pot pie 4


1. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and add the onion and garlic. Stir for a few minutes on medium heat and then throw in the herbs and chicken, mixing well. Add the zucchini, season, and cook over a low heat for about 5 minutes. Take off the flame and stir in the yogurt, mixing to coat everything well. Leave to cool.
2. Preheat the oven to 180ΒΊ C. Grease 3-4 small ramekins lightly with butter. Divide the cooked mixture between the ramkeins.
3. Dust a clean surface with some flour and roll out the puff pastry. Use a cutter or a bowl to cut out 3-4 circles the size of the ramekin tops, and then use to cover the mixture in the ramekins. Seal the edges by pressing in a downward motion with a fork. If you have leftover bits of pastry, cut out shapes and stick over the top. Like this heart πŸ™‚

pot pie 5

Make a slit on the top of each pie and bake for 30 minutes or until bubbling and golden. I switched to the grill setting for the last 5 minutes and got a lovely crusty top. Remove from the oven and eat warm.

pot pie 6

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