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.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Jamaican Coco Bread | Perfect for all occassions

I love experimenting and am proud to twist and turn the recipes and get something edible and tasty. But somehow when I came across the Jamaican coco bread here I wondered how come the thought of using coconut milk in a bread recipe never crossed my mind?. Anyways the bread was quick and easy and as always increased my baker's confidence.. I have halved the recipe as I do usually while experimenting and here it is..

All Purpose Flour: 2 cups
Sugar: 1 tbsp
Salt: 1/2 tsp
Instant Yeast: 1.25 tsp
Coconut milk: 12-14 tbsp
Melted Butter: 1 +1 tbsp

Mix flour, sugar, salt and yeast together.

Warm coconut milk and melt butter.
Add this to dry mix and combine to get a soft sticky dough. 
You can start adding 10-12 tbsp of coconut milk and then see how the dough shapes up. I added butter to 14 tbsp of coconut milk and warmed it And then poured the entire content to the dry mix.

Turn the dough to a heavily floured counter and knead the dough adding more flour if needed until we get a smooth and soft dough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased/buttered bowl and let it sit until doubled for 1-1.5 hours covered with a damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap. 

Roll the dough and cut into small squares. Roll each square into a smooth ball and roll it out to 1/8" thick circle. Brush the circle with melted butter and fold over to form a semi circle. Continue this process with all remaining pieces.

This is how it was given in the original recipe.

I just rolled out the entire dough into a 1/8" thick rectangle and cut into round pieces with an appropriate cookie cutter. Then I applied melted herb butter on each circle and folded them over to get semicircle. If you don't have herb butter, brush the circle with melted butter and then sprinkle you choice of dried herbs or seasonings on top and then fold over.

Place the coco breads onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the tops with more melted butter. 

Let these rest for another 10 minutes or so until puffy. 

Bake in a preheated oven at 375F/190C for about 15-20 minutes unil golden.

Serve warm with tea or as an anytime snack.

They came out as buttery herbed bread rolls. Tastewise I felt the presence of coconut milk, but not too much - a flavour was there.

Normally they are stuffed with Jamaican beef patty before consuming. You can slowly open a bread and stuff with an appropriate veg/non veg patty and then consume. In such case you better make big breads and medium or small sized as I have done.

I didn't go for any patty. The herb butter made the roll perfect . 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Shake it Baby | 'Tis Summer

When my daughter got a project on her favourite food, she had one answer nutella.. She was supposed to write her favourite food recipe with pics of ingredients and obviously nutella being all popular and all over the place it really helped me too..I just had to find a supermarket sales brochure/ supplement that came with the  newspaper and help her cut off the pics.. We made her favourite nutella banana sandwich recipe as well.. 

That was then-- a few months back. Now that school is closed for summer hols madam is in a rush to go out of the house lest parents give her something to do.... . Thus I was so surprised she asked me for a milkshake as a mid afternoon snack. It makes sense too .. why  waste time sitting and eating when outside world is calling you..!

Quickly I put together a filling nutella banana milkshake with just few ingredients. And finished off the pics  somehow before she grabbed,gulped and rushed out... 

Once done with nutella as usual I started entering other ingredient territories and am now making one shake a day with several things and praying fervently she loves it.. Bananas are safe bet especially as they make it sweet and creamy without the actual icecream base. Apple are also good especially if your young one has no time to sit and chew the fruits... ;). The good part is in the name of shakes and smoothies we can sneak in some healthy ingredients as well. 

Nutella Banana Milkshake:

Nutella: 3-4 tbsp
Banana: 1 medium- big
Milk: 1.25 cups
Whole grain Oats/ toasted wheat germ/ wheat bran: 1-2 tbsp powdered (optional)

Blend all the ingredients together and serve it up..

Spiced Apple Milkshake:
 Apple: peeled & chopped 3/4 cup +
Milk: 1.25 cups + as needed

Spices: Cinnamon Powder: 1/2 tsp
Cardamom Powder: 1/4 tsp
Nutmeg: 1/4 tsp

Honey/Maple syrup/ Agave Nectar/Sweetener of your choice : as per taste
Whole Grain Oats/ Arrowroot Powder/ wheat germ/ wheat bran: 1-2 tbsp powdered (optional)

Blend all the ingredients together and serve it  in appropriate cups after garnishing with finely chopped apples, cinnamon powder or even caramel syrup. You can avoid the  spices if you don't like and optionally add whatever spices you like. Cinnamon goes very well with apples. Peel of the apples might add in a sour taste.
How sweet the drink is depends on how tasty the apples are. The milkshake will be thicker because of apples and so you can add more milk to get that thin shake if thats how you like it. You can actually avoid oats if you donot like it. But they add fibre and are good for health. Instead of oats you can go for other ingredients like wheat germ, multi grain mix oats which has whole wheat flour, barley, ragi/millet flour along with oats. These are healthy and filling as well.

Nutella is the preferred one in the house and hence it definitely gets a double thumbsup.. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Tiger Trail @ Royal Orchid | Experience the Raj through Scrumptious Food

Tiger trails are something of the past. The tiger hunting prevalent during the British Raj connected several places across India and even Europe. These hunting places are now joined together to form what is known as Tiger Trails. Trailing the majestic beast of the jungle sure is an experience though ofcourse more than hunting we will be lucky if could see the animal. We are taken back to those exhilarating days thanks to Tiger Trail, newly relaunched Food & Beverage outlet in Royal Orchid Hotel,Old Airport Road Bangalore. 

The  restaurant  takes us down memory lane with the authentic food from these royal hunting grounds.It promises and delivers authentic pan Indian food and more especially Awadhi food. Also thrown in are few Afghani & Russian breads which were also part of the erstwhile tiger trail. In general you can enjoy an Taraana Kabab from North India with a Mutton Sukka from South India along with  a Naan from Tashkent, Russia and polish it off with a sweet dry fruit studded Kandhari Naan and kulfi .

Last week thanks to the Bloggers Table at the newly reopened Tiger Trails restaurant I was able to revisit the Raj with the authentic food. The restaurant has alfresco dining and has some sturdy gazebos that give you some camp/hunting experience.
Sitting under a tree on a moonlit night, cool breeze on your face, with friends, definitely you are in Raj hunting times and feel like royalty.
Words can never be enough to explain an experience but still I must say, I enjoyed the awesome food and excellent natural ambience the restaurant offered. Still the excellent Taraana kebabs and tandoor roasted shakarkhandi chaat set the mood and got the ball rolling. The non vegetarians in the group definitely enjoyed the murgh gulnar served with yogurt and grape chutneys (not the regular dips you will find elsewhere) and the rich chhaap noorani made with lamb in cashew butter gravy.

From the bread basket the yeasted yogurt Tashkent naan took the centre stage  along with authentic dalmakhani and paneer khurchan. Which  ofcourse was followed by the just right Awadhi Biryani... not overtly spicy but just right for the palette. Not to forget the aam panna you get there is definitely the best and a must in hot summer.

All in all, the restaurant promises an experience which takes you back in times.

Imagine a lazy Sunday with you and your loved ones sitting under a tree or in a gazebo, enjoying an ambi panna made of roasted mango pulp,black salt and jaggery, waiting for your succulent kebabs served

Where there are bouquets there are brickbats too..

Being in an open area, you are prone to mosquitoes and bird droppings. The gazebos save you from the latter but mosquitoes need something more. Also the shorba they served was not upto the mark as far as I am concerned. The kulfi which helped wrap our dinner was okay okay and I felt it was a bit salty. Maybe its just me.

But the restaurant is a #musteatinBangalore  for its awesome starters, beverages, breads and other mains and excellent ambience.

Authentic food, hunting camp experience and current season ... you eat light in summer, but you eat right also.
Tiger Trail costs around Rs.1600/- for two without alcohol. Brunch/lunch buffet is not available at present, but is on the works.

A moon lit hungry night if there's anywhere you should be then its TigerTrail..

Definitely last word in Indian food.

Tiger Trail
Royal Orchid Hotel,
1 Golf Avenue,
Adjoining KGA Golf Course,
HAL Airport Road,

Thanks for visiting my Blog

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