Jaipur- The Revolution

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The first time I went there, I was spellbound by its beauty. It is very difficult for a city to impress and leave an unforgettable experience on people’s mind in the very first glance and Jaipur, the capital of the largest state in India definitely surpasses that. My first visit there fifteen years ago can be summed up in two words : Royal Beauty. But watching the community shape up in the last decade and a half, Jaipur has successfully got itself a position in the ‘Golden Triangle’.

Referred also as the pink city  due to its gorgeous cupcake frosting coloured buildings, Jaipur initially attracted mass tourists owing to its forts and palaces. I remember going for a traditional elephant ride from one fort to another. But, soon the city became a hub for culture as well as for business. In my next visit after two years, I witnessed mushrooming shops of pure silver jewellery and precious gem stone processing units with the most skilled craftsmen working for them. I remember my mother buying my first pair of pure silver payal (Indian anklet) for me from one of those shops. The never-seen before meenakari works, which is filling jewellery with color became increasingly popular in all cultures worldwide. Before I even knew the people commenced coming to Jaipur in order to buy their raw materials for jewellery and textile business, giving a rise to the export market in Jaipur. Owing to cheap labour costs, mass production of camel leather wear in a town called Bagru became the speciality of the Jaipur.  During 2009, the beautiful block printing, vegetable dyes for cotton, tussar etc, handmade cloth material called bandhani (tie and dye) attracted me to the city for the third time. With major Bollywood stars making a fashion statement in India, jaipuri prints became a worldwide fashion.

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As you can see, In less than a couple years, it was the no more the stereotypical elephants or the forts attracting and  promoting tourism but, a lot of the deep embedded culture, food, music, business etc became instrumental in making Jaipur today a cosmopolitan hub. Owing to its royal historic pasts, the infamous ten course meals were something every foreigner definitely tried before leaving the city.  Soon, there were designer hotels showcasing and promoting their rich culture and hoisting royal weddings for big Hollywood celebrities. The fashion outburst of henna went on a drum roll, making it a famous form of temporary tattoo worldwide.

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Therefore, I feel extremely lucky to have witnessed one of the biggest transformations in community and tourism boom of Indian history in a decade.

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Health Freak Granola Muffins

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My best friend is flying down from Germany to spend my last summer before college with me, tonight and I can’t help but emerge out of my lazy mode into a domestic goddess mode. ( I have been told by someone that the name ‘domestic goddess’ befits me a lot. So I’m going to believe that and smirk about it everytime I see this term)

Coming to the point. No, it hadn’t been a while since I last baked. But I wasn’t champ enough to blog it. If you look into my laptop, you will find a couple hundred of pictures of the food I’ve made that were never blogged. I’m not very proud of myself of having done that, but then I’m trying to change this habit.

I mean laziness has penetrated into my body so much that I didn’t even make an effort to take this picture with the beautiful expensive DSLR my father gifted me. So please bear with me this last time for the disappointing quality. I will make a conscious effort to give you better quality next time. Until then, these healthy and absolutely yummy muffins.

These muffins are crazy healthy and the thing about these muffins are that they can only be eaten for breakfast. I can eat them for lunch and for snacks. They are incredibly easy to make. You can either make your own muesli, for while I will post a recipe soon or you could also use store bought packs.

First take about 225 gms of all purpose plain flour. Add a pinch of salt followed by half teaspoon of baking powder and a one teaspoon of baking soda. In a blender, add one whole egg, about 50 grams of sugar, 80 ml of Olive Oil and some buttermilk. Now you can either buy store bought buttermilk but I find making it at home a better solution to it.

You just need to have half cup of yogurt and add a lot of water to it until its super thin in consistency. Blend it away until you get a lot of foam. Then skim away the foam and use 250 ml of it in the egg and the sugar mixture. Blend this mixture for five minutes and then pour it over the dry ingredients. Combine it well. Now add 2 tsps of vanilla essence. Add about 50-60 grams of granola or muesli to it. You may add more if you desire.

Now the mixture will not be runny. It will be a bit thick. Using your ice cream scoop, fill the cupcake ramekins with the batter. Bake it in a preheated oven at 200 Celsius for 20 minutes or until the muffins are golden and cooked through. And then, Bon appetite.

Xoxo

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Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

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I often think if there could be a limit to the options when it comes to baking cakes. And let me tell you, No. It’s pretty interesting how you can bake a simple tea cake with basic ingredients and also bake something as complicated as a marzipan cake! I have an aunt who once told me that if you’re running out of eggs and butter or oil for the cake, use mayonnaise instead! I mean, I really could not believe my ears for hearing that until I tried it myself. So there is one thing I’ve learnt, improvise improvise improvise!

I have seem to have a special inclination toward olive oil. I’m a die hard fan of it. So much that I even tried substituting my butter with olive oil in this cake. I believe I get it from a European influence in my family. But again, it’s a great alternative who’re looking for a healthier option in cakes! This cake is also not very sweet. It’s got a little less than the perfect requirement of sugar. It lets the cocoa sing. What is so great about it is, that unlike other cakes, it doesn’t have an overpowering sweetness to it. It has a mellower flavour of cocoa in it.

It is a simple cake but one thing is a dire necessity. The weighing machine. You cannot get this cake right with your eye measurement at all. You have to have a weighting scale to measure each and every single ingredient.

Now a lot of you would find this very synonymous with Nigella’s recipe. But with all due respect, I’ve modified mine to a more sinful version of a basic chocolate cake.

Preheat the oven at 170 c. Take a double boiler and melt Hershey’s dark chocolate; about 50 grams of it. Once it has melted, add about 5 spoonfuls of Nesquick powder and instant espresso powder to it and make a thick paste by adding some boiling water to it. The paste should be only a little runny. Keep it aside.

On the other hand, in a separate bowl whisk 3 eggs, 200 grams of sugar and 150 ml of Oilve Oil for exactly 3 minutes. Note : Regular Olive Oil please. Once they are done, pour the chocolate sauce into the eggy mixture and whisk at a lower speed. Cup by cup, add 125 grams of plain flour followed by a teaspoon of bicarbonate soda and baking soda each. A pinch of salt to neutralise.

Mix it well and then add boiling water in case the batter is too thick. Now, add 5 tsps of Kahlua. Transfer it to a lined baking springform tin. Bake it for about 50 minutes or till the fork comes out clean. Cool and serve.

Once you’ve made this cake, trust me you will momentarily forget anything that is bothering you. This cake is magically delicious. It makes me want to have a girlfriend like me!

Bon appetite.

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Feel Good Banana and Nutella Ice Cream

I am at a very happy place in my life right now. And I am not trying to gloat about it. But everything seems to have just fallen in its perfect little place. Until a few months ago, I used to see the glass half empty but now I have started to see it half full. It’s just that when a series of new exciting and anticipating things start happening to you, you feel better about yourself and about your life ( not that I used to complain about before ). And one of the contributors to my feel good mood is Ice Cream. Yes, I do eat ice creams (of course the fat-free ones). But there is no denial when it comes to frozen cream.

Now, usually I would make my No-Churn Ice Cream with some milkmaid and cream. But this ice cream is a double treat of goodness. It is not only a fat-free, no-cream ice cream but it also has feel-good ingredients in it. Its actually embarrassingly funny how I created this ice cream.

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A couple of days ago, I wasn’t really at my best and someone happened to tell me that I should eat bananas because they make you feel good. To be precise, happy. I thought it was utterly ridiculous how bananas could make you feel good. I always knew it was famous for its weight loosing attribute. I happened to think of him as a very cocky person for suggesting to eat bananas at 1 am. However, by the end of the night I was two bananas down and damn, didn’t I feel just good! (so explicit!)

So, I thought to treat myself with a No Churn, Fat Free, Feel Good Ice Cream. I don’t think I remember the last time I ate something so delicious yet leaving you guilt free! They DO have the magic to elevate the mood.

Its extremely simple. You need to take about 6 ripe bananas and mash them extremely well. Tip them into the blender. Pour about 10 tsps of Nutella and blend it away. Now, adding sugar into this is very subjective. I mean the sweetness of the banana and Nutella does it all for me. But you could give it a taste so that you can decide if you wanted to add some sugar into it.

Then add 4 tsps of coffee or chocolate liqueur into it. And blend until its a smooth creamy paste. Tumble it into your ice cream container and freeze until set. The alcohol basically helps the creamy mixture to not become rock hard when it freezes. It helps it maintain its texture until the last bite. Serve with some hazelnuts on top!

Enjoy the summer the guilt-free way!

Amour.

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Mint and Plum Chutney Half Roast and Half Stove Chicken

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The last three months, I spent my time appearing for my high school examinations, losing myself at Tiesto’s concert, travelling around India, gaining weight by eating out almost every alternate day, listening to a lot 80’s disco music, taking Spanish lessons, cooking a lot at home, watching Grey’s Anatomy, partying often, buying second-hand cookbooks, romancing with my potential lover, celebrating my amazing high school results and spending time with family before I set off to college.

I have had friends, family and followers ask me – Why did I stop writing? It wasn’t until I was watching the movie Julie & Julia I realised that I haven’t posted on my blog for almost three months! It is nothing like I took a break from my relationship with food. I am still very much cooking a meal a day or making my tongue taste some of the greatest foods from the best restaurants. But then, the last three months have been about lazing around and not really writing. So, watching Julie Powell write about food, I decided it was time that I got back into my sphere.

At this moment I have about more than a decade of recipes to post and I believe I’ll have to start posting one everyday to catch up to my speed of blogging. So, why did I really stop blogging? I still don’t have an answer to it. But I am hoping to have one soon. Until then, My Mint and Plum Chutney Half Roast and Half Stove Chicken.

One of my aunts gifted me her old collection of books by Margaret Fulton on Everyday Cooking. It had a recipe of Roast Chicken in Cranberry Jam. By the sound of it you all would have guessed it is a Christmas Recipe. But then I think, do we really need Christmas as an excuse to eat a Roast Chicken? So the recipe said that I should use Cranberry Jam or Ginger Jam to marinade it and top it up with some spices and herbs and put it in the oven. So this roast basically happened by an accident. My family and I are not big on preservatives or any kind of jam. So, that ruled out the possibility of having jam at home. But the chicken looked so beautiful in the book, I just knew I had to make it. My aunt cooked the chicken in a similar way where she used jam and I couldn’t really think of an alternative. So I fished around the refrigerator for a substitute and I found my aunt’s organic home-made Mint and Plum Chutney. And that was the defining moment of my baby bird.

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This chicken takes time. And as an Eighteen Year old, I am not very big on patience. And by the look of my recipes you would have figured that by now, I am sure. However, I would proudly like to declare that by end of this chicken anyone who is short on patience would master the art of it, including me.

So, all you want to do is, get a whole chicken (skin or w/o skin) and make it into 4 parts. Two whole legs, one whole breast and the remaining. Add about 4 tablespoons of Store bought or homemade Mint and Plum Chutney (If you can’t find it try going to an Indian store and look for a chutney with two contrasting flavors) Next, add about 10 big cloves of garlic, five with skin and the rest without. Add some soy sauce, jalapeno sauce, teriyaki sauce, fresh rosemary or fresh lemon grass. Some ground salt and pepper. One piri piri pepper and a bit of chilli flakes. Leave it for marination for about an hour before you start cooking.

Take a pan and heat little olive in it. When the oil is heated, take all the water out of the chicken ( keep the water in a separate container for the sauce later ) and fry the chicken on high flame. You may think that this would just burn chicken and not really help it cook through. But thing about this is, we first want a beautiful glaze over the chicken. A dark, beaming and rustic color would form after about 15 minutes of constant stirring over high flame. You then add a dash of wine and lower the heat for ten minutes. After that cover it with foil and stack in the over at 150 degrees in the fan mode so that the heat is evenly circulated. After about half an hour to forty-five minutes, take the chicken out into a serving bowl and then reduce the liquid in the pan over gas. Add a tsp of cornflour over the marinated juices and tip that into the pan with the sauce reducing. The sauce will eventually thicken and then pour it over the chicken after checking for the seasoning.

What this chutney would do to this chicken is not only give it a dense rich taste and a color but make it taste, something like you have been toiling in the kitchen for hours together to make it taste so complex and so delicious. But then, now you know the secret, don’t you ?

So there you have it, a Half Roast and Half Stove Mint and Plum Chutney Bird.

Bon Appetite.

Ps. I promise not to disappear again. At least, not anytime soon. I missed blogging.

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Mediterranean Seafood Stew

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My stew posts from last year are still fresh in my mind and I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to do another stew post. But then I thought to myself that I have already violated my rule of no-posting-similar-recipes by posting more than ten cake recipes, so might as well just go ahead with this one.

This stew recipe is not entirely mine, but I had the luxury to improvise according to what I wanted. I have this old cookbook on ‘Fish and Shellfish’ which I believe was my mother’s and I absolutely cherish that book. I got this recipe off of that book but I did add a few things here and there. I think this is one of the easiest things to do when you’re back home from a long day. Because you really don’t need symmetrical zucchini or julienned carrots, you can cut them the way you like and simply put into the pot.

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Ingredients : 

1 large carrot

1 zucchini

125ml white wine

1 large onion (red and scallion)

6 cloves of garlic, squashed

1 red juicy bell pepper

4 large italian tomatoes

orange rind

500 gms medium sized prawns

100gm baby shrimps

200gm monk fish or sole fish

100gm squid

1tsp saffron

1 cup water

60gm tomato puree

Celery leaves

Parsley

Procedure :

1. Take a large pot and add about 7 tsps of olive oil. Take your seafood and dump them straight into the pot. Let it sizzle for 15 seconds on one side, turn it over and let it sizzle for another 10 seconds and then using a tong remove the seafood from the pot and set it aside. What it does is it seals the flavors and it stops the stew from smelling bad later.

2. Now, drop some chopped onions and some scallions into the same pan. Let it sizzle for a while. Add the squished garlic along with the diced carrots, zucchini and pepper. Let it saute for roughly a minute and a half and then take half cup of white wine dissolve the saffron in it and pour it into the pan. Let it simmer for 5 minutes and then add the chopped tomatoes and the puree. Cover the pan and let it cook on low heat for about 35 minutes.

3. Right when 10 minutes have passed add 2 cups of water and let it simmer again. After 35 minutes take the lid off and grate some orange rind, salt and some celery leaves. Now leave the lid open to make the stew thicker. Just about 5 minutes before you think your soup has reached your desire consistency, drop your seafood in along with some fresh parsley and turn off the gas. However keep the pan covered as the heat would help it cook by the time you serve it.

I don’t mind paring it with some red cabbage salad and whole wheat garlic bread as a condiment.

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Enjoy it away!

Beueno Appetite.

xoxo

Ipshita

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lasabor

It was a beautiful spring. Whoever said “Paris is always Paris and Berlin is never Berlin!”  was absolutely correct. I spent roughly fifteen days in Berlin for my conference and a series of dance performance. There were numerous encounters with the locals at restaurants. One thing about travelling solo is, you get enough space for personal discoveries and interaction

I travelled to Berlin all alone and was staying with a very close friend of mine. This gave me enough freedom to explore Berlin, on my own. During this time I once went for a dinner with a beautiful Croatian girl, whom I had met in the subway to a serene restaurant in Schoenberg (excuse my spelling). After roughly 3 sips of wine from her side and 1 big gallop of beer we realised the basic thing we had in common was our interest for culinary arts and our ideas about food. I…

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