Saturday, April 18, 2015

Baisakhi Meal with Spice Terrace | New Year Celebrations continues

Baisakhi this year was celebrated on April 14,2015, Tuesday. It is an important harvest festival in Punjab in North West India and is celebrated as Punjabi New Year and also marks the establishment of the Sikh Khalsa or the Order. 

On such an auspicious day what better than to enjoy an authentic Punjabi meal and learn more about the Punjabi Cuisine from none other than chef Surjan Singh Jolly at SpiceTerrace restaurant,JWMarriott Bengaluru.

Spice Terrace, an Indian speciality alfresco restaurant in JWMarriott, Bengaluru  is celebrating Baisakhi all this week or to be exact from April 10th -April 19th, 2015. The menu all designed based on the travels and decade long experience of  Chef Jolly  helps showcase the authentic Punjabi cuisine.

Having heard and tasted the popular Punjabi food items like regular bhartas, lassi and ofcourse the 'Paneer' when served with rooh afza shikanji was an eye opener. It was time to relearn stuff and get acquainted with the authentic cuisine made modern. Instead of the regular greasy and calorie laden Punjabi food  which is available elsewhere like tandoori chicken and  oily dishes, we were served flavourful items like Rajma Anjeer tikki, Kathal(jackfruit) and dried amla achar along with flavourful pulao and Amritsari Kulcha.

One spoonful of pulao feels very very light and yet having full flavour of desi ghee will put you in doubt on how the Punjabi food which is popular for ghee and fats can be this light? The doubts were obviously clarified by Chef Jolly who insisted that desi ghee having low smoking point is always added at the end of cooking as a garnish and not used a cooking medium per se. 

The chef shared his experiences during travels to Punjab, his search for authentic yet rarely seen now foods and how he always makes sure the olden times food is given to the modern day calorie conscious customer without losing the flavour, taste and authenticity.

It was a great experience and an auspicious start to the New Year. Especially when we saw the soft hot big khoya stuffed Jamuns or the jalebi with rabdi or other mouthwatering recipes. Let me leave you with visually tantalising images so that you can ring in Baisakhi once more with Spice Terrace, JWMarriott.

Baisakhi calls for gourmet indulgence. Continue celebrating Baisakhi with Spice Terrace @ JWMarriott till April 19th,2015.

In a nutshell

Ambience: Backdrop of Traditional Street in Amritsar, with live entertainment 
Type : Buffet
Cost: Rs.1599/- + taxes
Time : 7pm -11pm
Date: Till April 19th, Sunday

* Rains might play havoc, but the restaurant has a plan B.
 *Service might be slow, as some of the food is served hot and fresh in live counters (which is actually good        as you can be assured its not from a freezer)

Go and grab it Punjabi style so that you can be happy and lucky entire year round.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Vishu Kanji | Happy Vishu for all the God's Own People

They say in olden days people used to guess the moods of nature. Time was known from suns position and same goes for seasons. As for me I used to guess vacations when I used to see flowering  'Konna Tree' or the golden shower tree with yellow flowers near my house in Thiruvananthapuram. The tree turning yellow/golden indicated summer and end of annual exams and two lovely dreamy months ahead. They also indicated Vishu - first day of Malayalam Zodiac / Kerala New Year. These flowers are important during Vishu/ Kerala New Year Celebrations which falls today this year. 

Vishu is celebrated during April second week in Kerala  normally 14th or 15th April based on Sun's transit to Aries  (Medam in Malayalam) and is the first day of the Malayalam Zodiac or Kerala New Year. So the  thing we see first in the morning - called 'Vishu kani'- is considered to have importance throughout the year as a good auspicious kani indicates your wellness and prosperity.There are rituals and customs on how to arrange a good kani.

The kani is followed by 'Vishu Kaineettam' where the elders of the family shower blessings on the younger ones by giving them coins/sovereigns or in general money and new set of clothes. Vishu Sadya (feast) which is a regular part of all other festivals follows and has items based on regional tastes.

I am not big on festival feasts but till now remember the taste of Vishu Sadya I had in Kochi at Bharat Hotel. We were given coupons from the office I working in at that time and Ijoined the gang deciding that I am going to hate it. But it turned out otherwise.. 

Anyways when I came across Vishu kanji - a rice and lentil porridge in coconut milk- in a magazine I wondered how come I missed it in the sadya that day. I am assuming it was because it is not a part of  Vishu menu in Kochi where crackers were more important than 'kaineettam' or maybe they didn't think it met the restaurant standards. But whatever it is I tried it and loved it. 

Raw Rice : 500g (2.5 cups)
Moong Dal/Split yellow lentils : 300 gm

Thin Coconut milk: 2-3 cups + as needed
Thick Coconut milk/coconut cream: 1 cup +/- as per taste
Salt: as per taste

Roast moong dal  in a deep pan for few minutes till the raw smell goes. Add it to cleaned rice and thin coconut milk and bring it to a slow boil on medium flame stirring occassionally. The coconut milk might curdle if boiled on a high flame. 

Reduce to a simmer and let the rice and lentil cook till done -and even mushy works. The word kanji means porridge and even mushy texture is ok. 

Once done, remove from fire and stir in the thick coconut milk. Keep aside. 

Add salt just before serving. The porridge thickens on sitting and you can gently heat through before serving adding more coconut milk if needed. 

Serve with papad or pickle or your choice of gravy. 

 An easy to prepare yet delicious dish.It is meant to liquidy or pourable consistency. But at the end its your choice. This is a very simple version. I have seen different versions in other sites as well. Each region has its own recipes. This version is something that will be easy to prepare.

The coconut flavour is having upperhand in this dish. You can make your own coconut milk by pulsing water and coconut together in a blkender and then filtering out. The first milk will be thick one whereas the second extraction will give thin. You can also go for readymade coconut powders to be mixed with water or even coocnut milk in carton. If too thick feel free to add water to it to thin it down.

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