Showing posts with label Bon Appetite. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bon Appetite. Show all posts


Coffee – makes me happy

My addiction to coffee is not new and there are few posts on the same subject in past. The culture of having a good time with a cup of coffee is catching up in India. Café Coffee Day aka CCD is expanding its footprints in rapid speed from past few years; people close to the business speculate they are just spending money and expanding in hope for a bought over by some FDI like Starbucks if the later enter Indian market.
Personally prefer Barista (inside Leela hotel more presice) more for the ambiance then the coffee. This chain has changed ownership a few times and their service is not consistent across franchises. The croissant I had in Mumbai airport last Wednesday felt like chewing gum.Now there are few entries to the market like Cuppa, Costa. Went to Cuppa(in Benarghata road) few months back after dinner with friends and were quite disappointed as they did not had any wine that we asked. Felt like they wanted to push some open bottled wine and my experience with coffee was not great either. Last Tuesday while in Mumbai went to Costa coffee for the first time and I must admit their coffee was really great. The price is bit higher from CCD but very much like Barista now need to see if they can hold on to the quality as they expand within India.



Bengalis are considered as food-lovers (khadya-rashik).For them any sumptuous bengali meal is always incomplete without a sweet dish. Just like any french meal which would remain incomplete without a bottle of exquisite french wine.

I was not a big fan of sweet earlier but when you live with someone for a long period of time, you quickly start to adapt some of your partner’s habits be it deliberately or inadvertently. Maybe sometimes for the good or worst - so is my case. My sweet S unlike me, does love his sweets quite ardently. With us, desserts do not necessarily need to be complicated or fancy; they simply have to be labeled dessert. Sometimes, only a piece of quality bittersweet chocolate will do especially after main meal be it lunch or dinner.
Well known Bengali sweets are generally made of milk products and sugar be it sweetened cottage cheese (chhena), khoa (reduced solidified milk). Sometimes even flours of different cereals and pulses are used to prepare and embellished with nuts, raisins or grated coconut.
From quite a long, I was craving for Narkal sondesh (grated coconut sweet). But somehow things were not in my favour and it didn’t get prepared. Much like other aspects of life, it takes a bit of perspiration and lots of inspiration. At last, I had to ask hesitatingly to my Sondesh guru and my inspirer (mil) to prepare for me which she accepted it considering my situation…peut-etre!
I learnt preparing this from her but today I will recite my joy of eating for the one she prepared on my request to tantalize my tongue.

Simple to prepare
  • Mix sugar powder and grated coconut paste.
  • Place the mixture over the heat and stir constantly to avoid lumps.
  • When the sugar melts, add milk powder and remove the pan from the heat. Stir few more times.
  • Add the cardamom powder and mix again.
  • Now cool it a little and then smear the stone mold with oil; Press sugary-coconut on the mold to decorate their upper surface occasionally with help of water.

These sweets are commonly prepared for religious festival or marriage or offering to household deity. But as I said, today it was prepared for me.


chocolate Banana Muffins

First weekend of December past with lots of activities - a trip to commercial street, malls and office. On Saturday Aarush forced me to leave bed early - deprived me of extended sleeping on the weekend. After that I was busy with him mostly for breakfast. Nowadays he has developed a nasty habit of prolonged (around an hour or more) eating times be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. After that he played for while but soon he was sleepy for nap. That created an opportunity for me to try muffin which was long time overdue.

I searched quickly for “chocolate banana muffin” recipe and found this one and went with it as it looked simple and easy except few changes. I beated powdered sugar with melted butter first. In between I kept two eggs outside of freeze to bring them to room temperature. Mixed one tea- spoon of leveled baking soda and baking power each in the flour and sieved 3-4 times to make sure there is enough air mixed in the flour. Then I whisked the eggs and added milk to it; after mashing banana in the grinder I mixed all three together.

Now kept adding half of the dry and liquid ingredients alternatively to the sugar - butter mixture. Lastly, stir in chocolate.
With that my job was almost over as soon as I put the tray for baking; to my surprise and delight they started to rise nicely. Best part of the whole exercise was quick yet successful result. It only took 40 mins to prepare and clean up the kitchen. It might take much less if you are prepared as of my case it was all impromptu right from searching recipe to oven. Anywayz, after a long time enjoyed my time in kitchen – thanks to Aarush for his nap :)
P.S. May add little bit more sugar if you prefer muffin sweet.


Fresh Tomato Soup


Till far only soup ever tried to make was carrot soup in Paris that too in bleak winter. Big thanks to my French Teacher for sharing the recipe en Français. Recently, went to local vegetable market; seeing tomato got so tempted that without thinking bought two kilos. Then I brainstormed a bit to think and idea of soup came as an escape. Here is my 2 cents recipe. If craving for something sweet and sour at the same time just have a bowl of creamy tomato soup to satisfy your desire as an appetizer.

  • One kilo Tomato – boiled, peeled and deseeded.
  • Two/three carrots – chopped to tiny pieces.
  • One big Onion finely chopped
  • Few cloves of garlic
  • One red chili
  • One Bay leaf
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • Black pepper
  • Nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil / ½ tbsp butter
  • Juice from one fresh Orange
  • Low fat cream or thick yoghurt
  • Dried Basil / Parsley leaves - optional
  • Salt to taste

Heat the oil/ butter and fry cumin seeds, bay leaf, garlic and onion with pinch of salt. When onion turns golden, add carrots and continue frying at low flame. Once carrot is tender add tomato and fry for few minutes

Make puree in a grinder (remove bay leaf before). Add water according to thickness required. Put the blended soup back in the pan. Bring to boil and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat. Now add freshly squeezed orange juice and cream after removing from heat. Season it with nutmeg and fresh black pepper. Garnish with a couple of parsley or basil sprigs if any and serve hot with either croutons or bread slice.


Best news is “Bread-Talk” boutique has recently opened at Vashi. It is a famous bakery chain from Singapore and they do cater good quality of various breads as well as desserts. But sadly, the dessert I got from there was too creamy, spongy and sugary. I will say tasteless to my taste buds as these kinds of pastries are very popular throughout India. After tasting European pastries, I find these one as - concept of western baked goods mixed with Asian ingenuity makes cool looking pastries that are hit-and-miss at certain point. While multi-cereal bread which I got was awesome.


Sweet potato dessert

Sweet potato dessert (Ranga Alur Puli) is an age old Bengali dessert - a sweet lover's delight for sure. Its crispy outer layer mesmerizes gastronomic senses. As for its availability, it is more of a traditional sweet, prepared in households. These days some sweet shops are starting to include this in their repertoire to cater to the time-constrained generation.

Sweet Potato

My hubby being born with a sweet tooth, do enjoy sweet of any kind. So, this recipe is actually initiated and arranged by my mom-in-law for him while I prepared it under her guidance on our short stay at Siliguri this year.


    For Puli Dough:
  • Sweet potatoes: 500 gms
  • Flour: 1 ½ tablespoons if preparing stuffed one (otherwise 100gm for plain one)
    For Stuffing: (optional)
  • Milk: ½ litre
  • Sugar: 1 tablespoon
  • Coconut: ½ (grated)
  • Cardamom (green): 2-3
  • Raisins
    For Syrup:
  • Sugar: 1 cup
  • Water: 1 cup
  • Oil for frying
Method:The Puli Dough:

Wash and boil the s.potatoes until soft. Peel and mash. Add the flour and knead into dough. Keep aside.

The Stuffing: (optional)

Bring the milk to a boil by adding a tablespoon of sugar in it. When the milk starts to thicken, add the coconut and the raisins and condense it to a thick, sticky consistency. Remove from heat and add crushed cardamoms. Let it cool.

The Syrup:

Add a cup of sugar to a cup of water and bring this to a boil. The syrup should be of medium consistency. Let it cool.

pulis are ready
Making the pulis:

Take a small portion of the dough in your hands and shape them accordingly unless it is stuffed. If preparing stuffed pulis then flatten the dough and make a cavity in the centre and fill it with a little of the above stuffing. Seal the edges of the dough and give it the shape of a puli. Heat oil in a wok and deep fry the pulis in batches. Remove from oil as pulis start browning or golden. And dip the pulis into the syrup carefully, one by one. Serve hot or cold.

Frying the pulis

Frying Pullis: We prepared plain puli without stuffing but stuffed one are really mouth-watering and delicious….no doubt! Actually, Ranga alur puli (fried sweet potato dessert) along with other pulis like Muger puli (made of moong dal or yellow moong lentil), Chirer Puli (made of poha -beaten rice), chana dal puli, Chaler puli (made of rice) use the harvest produce—rice, coconut, date palm juice and jaggery etc speciality items of Shankranti.

Finally all ready


Exploring…bits n bites II

Sea-food Starter

Continuing from my last post I like to share a great experience I had. It was a sudden plan and I was tagged along with my instructor who in-turn was invited by a local Singaporean colleague after work for dinner. It was buffet for a fixed price at Marina Bay Shopping Mall. The crowd was very young far-eastern or North-Asians. Sorry guys, I could not figure out who is Chinese, Japanese, Koreans or just Singaporeans…as they all looked alike and age-wise they looked like high school or college students to me. Thankfully, our local guy made a reservation otherwise we might had to wait in long queue.

I started with some sea foods; I tried Oysterr for the first time. It was OK but did not found the delicacy as it is said in France - a key component of fruit-de-la-mer (fruits of the sea or sea food - in this except shrimps and prawns rest all like oysters, clams, mussels, whelks, and periwinkles come raw). If I am not wrong the concept is same in Kerala (south-most state in India) where any fish is treated almost the same. Being a Bong- I am a lover offresh river fish.

Sushi and Sashimi

In the second round, I opted for Japanese sushi and sashimi which I love and can have a lot. For many, it is raw fish (actually firm but melt-in-your-mouth when you bite it). To me it tastes delicious when dipped in Shoyu (Soya sauce), speck of Wasabi (very strong, hot flavoured green mustard) and with gari (thin-sliced sweet pickeled ginger). Ocassionally at end it is accompanied by sake-japanese liquor.

While I was enjoying the same my colleague’s girlfriend had turtle skin soup. It seems that it is very good for female skin according to Chinese belief. Well well… all big cats of Asia are almost extinct due to high demand from such Chinese myth. But I kept my WWF conservation “fundas” with me while my colleague enjoyed fish-head which has same realm of myth.


To conclude, I think I beat every one when it comes to desserts which were really yum. Unfortunately, I did not had enough room left for ice-creams which they had so many varieties to choose from. But, indeed it was a great dinner.


Exploring…Bits n Bites

Singapore has so many ethnic cuisines to offer for its natives that you have to stay long to explore all the corners. Food is highly influenced by Malaysian, Chinese, Indonesian and none other but South Indian too. Even annually Singapore government organizes “Singapore Food Festival” in month of July. I was lucky enough to get a glimpse of it. When it is a matter of food I consider myself to be “not a typical desi” sticking only to one variety of food. I love to explore as much as I can. But of course at same time I try to avoid certain meat other then duck, chicken, turkey,lamb or goat. So, after that only sausages or bacons can make way to my plate with choice rest I do not like to taste due to various personal reasons. Well, please do not be surprised as I went very specific with meat. As, according to French there are so many delicious delicacies to taste ; that do not think only about Chinese or Korean if you are a vegetarian.

Red chili Chicken

Recently, I had Red chilli chicken from a western wok at my lunch. For lunch, we have a food court opposite to our Singapore office. It is not specific to any company; it seems there are few others nearby as well. Variation ranges from Indian to Japanese to even cross-cultural fusion. So a lot to choose from if you can figure out. I am not sure sometime what they have as main-ingredients. But this dish was simple to order as it said red chili chicken with rice. But, astonishing part was the numbers of chilies it had. At first, I was bit skeptical about its spiciness with so many chillies in plate but later I took a bite of one of those and found they are not as hot as they looked. A Good experience indeed:D.

fish curry

The second picture of Fish curry is from a food court eatery; the curry was excellent… very close to Indian kind but then the down hill journey started for me. They said - you can choose two veggies as side dish and I opted for Spinach and peanut sauce. I specifically asked about the Peanut one as they mentioned it will be melange of sweet and sour savour. When I was ordering my plate it looked like that sauce had some sprouts but thank god I am not a vegetarian - infact it had some dry fish. But, as a whole this side-dish was a big thumbs down which changed my taste-buds …yuck!!! :.(


Sweet teeth

From this Monday I moved to a corner desk as I put a new pair of shoes at work. The desk is nice but I lost my view from the window. Well, this post is not about my office and work.

Glasses - all set for party

Our boss is sailing Far-East and we had a dinner at Marine Plaza Hotel honoring him. The location of the hotel is great and as we were a big group we got a hall to ourself facing Black Bay and Marine-Drive of Mumbai. This windswept promenade is the crown of Mumai’s attraction. If you are in Mumbai try this location for an evening dinner - lots of high end hotel to choose from.

The food was good but not an excellent one; it was a buffet - with many verities of salads, soups and Indian snacks. I hardly had any place for main course after all those but I saved enough for dessert. There were around 10 types of them; and you can see I have taken almost all of them in my plate. I do not recollect any of those fancy names. Chef’s delight was the ultimate one. I was bit skeptical when taking the big white dessert, it had a layer of chocolate in the middle to make it yummier.


Keeping my palm starched and flat on the key-board I confess I have sweet teeth. No big secret, I love [desire will be a better one to express my feeling for them] desserts particularly chocolates. I love dark chocolate but I just can not have enough of them at one go. Unfortunately, I am not getting my daily dose of chocolate as I used to have after dinner in Paris. In Paris, you even get 100% chocolate which comes with warning on the wrapper that you might find taste too strong. Chocolates of main-land Europe particularly from France, Switzerland, and Belgium are the best. Only chocolate I know and like from Italy is Ferro Rocher – well enough of chocolates for this post …but never enough for my tongue.


Udupi Thali

This thali is named after a small town of South western coast of India Udupi near to Mangalore. It is famous for Krishna temple where from udupi (also called udipi) cuisine got originated. It is basically delicious vegetarian cuisine with no onion, garlic as commonly found in rich north Indian cuisine. Udupi cuisine comprises dishes made from grains, beans, vegetables. The variety and range of dishes are wide and a hallmark of this cuisine is the use of locally available ingredients.

Udipi thali is very common in Mumbai where food is mostly served in Steel plate; but at certain resto you have choice of Plantain leave. Eating with bare hand is more fun although spoons are available. Normally, meals you get are with unlimited serving except the Sweet Dish (Only one portion of Sweet Dish is included like kheer or kalajamun). Service is very fast and before you blink your eyes you have the meal in front of you even at peak hours; hardly sometimes one has to wait for 10 min. at max. The menu is not at all spicy nor rich in oil but very close to ghar kaa khana (everyday meal). That is one main reason these places are very crowded during lunch hours.

Udipi Thali

    Thali consist of small dishes of several curries-
  • Chapatti (wheat bread) or Purri,
  • Sambhar - a soupy vegetable(pumpkin or gourd) liquid with a sour edge
  • Rasam ( spicy pepper water)
  • Chutney (mostly of coconut) or Dal (lentil curry unlimited),
  • 3 Vegetables (Fixed Qty) - one Dry Vegetable, One with Gravy and one made with freshly grated coconut
  • Curd (1 bowl)
  • Pickle
  • Pappad
  • One bowl steamed rice. (If you want to eat less Rice you can take 2 Chapatti or 3 puris or vice-versa).

But in recent times non-vegetarian variation of the same cuisine is making marks not only in India but across the world. Sea food cooked in coconut and whole red-chillies are one of the common one.

Bon Appetite – bien sur, while you tear off a small morsel of Chappati, dip and devour the taste of authenticity.


Hearty Healthy

It’s too hot and humid with power failure I was sweating like a hell. Though just few minutes before I took my shower. Having my last portion of lunch I was searching desperately for something in my fridge but actually I forgot to buy one. My all time favourite item which I can even take truckload if needed in any form. It is generally considered to cool the body in tropical climates.

I don’t know how and when exactly I developed taste for it. One of my favourite childhood food item was a heaping spoonful of it. I’d lick it like a lollipop until all traces of thick delectable were gone. As I got older, I use to mix it with portion of vegetable curry(s) as well lentils given to me beside the last course. Now also I regularly indulge and make sure to have it at last after two main meals. Without that it’s something incomplete for me. I hope you guessed it by now… yes, I am talking about yogurt known for its characteristic taste and consistency.


Being born and brought up in cosmopolitan town had known taste of India from my childhood. Due to the employment opportunities created by the Bhilai Steel Plant, people from all over the country flock here and the culture here provides a scintillating example of "Unity in Diversity".


We had a south Indian neighbour when I was a child. I used to love auntie’s food over my mom despite she tried her best to make best food which I never appreciated. Like the proverb says “ghar ki murgi daal barabar” (Self possessions are always undermined and other's possessions seem better). The memory still brings forth strong emotions when I think of it. I have one memory of eating this dish called Curd-rice as a small kid which Auntie used to prepare by mixing curd and rice with pinch of salt to taste if yogurt is bit tangy. For them it is common practice to finish any meal with curd rice. While our other neighbour was from North, so often used to have Raita - a special preparation with yogurt; normally served chilled. Though there are lot of variation in raita of which boondi is most common. Vegetable Raita involves adding grated cucumber and mint paste or using tomato, cucumber and onion raitas or diced carrots. Sometimes tempering it with mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, channa & urad daal with pinch of asafoetida. Actually, Raita is good foil for spicy North Indian dishes like parathas, tandoori chicken, etc.


Now being born in bongo family we have Misti doi a thick sweetened yogurt which taste as sweet as pudding which is served and sold in earthern pot. Presently staying in western part, Shrikhand is taken in form of dessert made from strained curd. A soft muslin cloth is tied up and hung to drain all the water for a few hours from the curd. Sugar, salt, saffron, cardamom, diced fruit, raisins, and nuts are then added for its taste.


Apart from all these, curd is widely prepared at home where it has an important place in traditional cuisine. It can be made from a small amount of store-bought, plain, freshly cultured yogurt by adding lukewarm milk thoroughly. The quality of curd depends on the starter used. The time taken to curdle varies with the seasons taking less than 3 hours in hot weather and up to 10 hours in cold weather.


During our stay at Europe I use to wonder seeing one complete row on umpteen varieties of yogurt from fat-free to bio-organic in super-store. Not only natural and unflavoured yogurt but also yogurt with fruit, vanilla, chocolate and various other flavours are common. To offset its natural sourness, yogurt is often sold sweetened, flavoured, or in containers with fruit or fruit jam on the bottom. And when ever we travelled different parts of Europe we found different texture and taste for the same. It tastes completely different just across the border; in 2003 European Union debated to give a standardized name to yoghurt, but later abandoned that project.

Well well, wherever you go you will find curd; may be of different version in terms of taste and characteristics. So, while I have my daily dose of friendly bacteria you can certainly think on whether its worth to have or not.


Saint Valentine -II

As I said lots of thoughts were coming across in spite of my busy-ness. So first was to ask Pamela to come over at Fort area for lunch which was denied by her saying that lots of household chores left to be done. Then again I modified my plan and asked her to join at evening for dinner when she told me she won’t as without any prior booking no food will be available at any good restaurant because of that day- which is in fact quite true.

Despite of her denial I didn’t left any hope I ended up saying we will go somewhere outside for sure. With passage of time I got busier in work and stuck for long hrs. When I almost realized that there is no chance of dinner outside. But, somehow I finished my work by seven and left for home. I reached home at half past nine when I was to take my shower and then leave so another 30 min. gone. By the time we got into car it was around ten so on the way we decided to have our dinner at Bombay Blues, Center-One - Vashi. On reaching the restaurant the doorman said with smile it will take 40 minutes minimum to get a seat. So, we took a stroll around other shops. Even after 40 min. there was no luck so we stood at door only waiting for our turn. After 11 we had luck to have our seat; now it was time to place order..... since it was enormously crowded so one can guess quality of service and food to expect. Somehow around 11.40 got something on plate.

I ordered for Chicken sizzler which looks awesome to hungry stomach but awful to taste. Never heard Chinese food being served with cheese so was that plate. My god! somehow survived with Pamela’s plate and appetizer.

Learnt a lesson that never to go for dinning without prior reservation or it’s much better to enjoy and relish food at home only especially on V-day. All these can be explained with the new economic growth that Indian higher middle class are enjoying at this moment, and everyone from mega-malls to jewelers to flower shop or even food-stalls are cashing in.


Britania - Irani Restaurant

Ballard Estate is old corporate park in Mumbai where most of the buildings have high ceiling and windows a left-over from British Raj. I feel very fortunate as my workplace is on this street and moreover when I get bird's eye view of Mumbai from my desk.

For lunch, I have walked past Britannia before but for some or other reason I did not entered. It is one of Bombay's famous old Irani (Persian) restaurants situated at Ballard Estate. This no-nonsense, no-frills, 90-year-old restaurant is the last of a dying breed of establishments once found on every corner of South Mumbai. The environment is simple and functional, with little room for extras like presentation and ambiance. There is no love greater then love of eating - is their motto. It is mentioned on the menu food will be served within 10 minutes and they really do so. A must if you don't like vegetarian food you might want to drop-in. There is a different menu for each day of the week. Apart from the fact that it is the stuff of legends, the building was designed by George Wittet, the architect of the Gateway and the Museum.

I was lucky one as there was Berry-pulao that day one of their speciality. Berry pulao (a version of the Iranian zereshk polow) is the outstanding signature dish, made with succulent spiced boneless mutton (or chicken), fragrant long-grain basmati rice, and tart barberries imported from Iran. Though it was rich and heavy but its worth - once in a while.


Lunch Time

I am finding it tricky as I try to compare my experiences and life styles that I encountered from two different continents. I do not know if my readers will be able to understand me. Moreover, my recent journey is an unusual one as most Indian travels east to west while I moved from west to east.

During my stay at Paris for last 3 and half years, most of my lunch at work was at shared corporate cafeteria between three companies. I appreciated the price, quality of that food always particularly the desserts and varieties of yogurts available there. May be I understand, why French cuisine is considered to be world’s most refined cuisine. Unfortunately, I am not a food critic that I can pen down those exotic tastes to get water in your mouth. But as I think about them I roll my tongue ;)

In general, breakfast in France is a small affair consisting of croissants & bread rolls with some butter and jam to spread which is usually accompanied by milky coffee or hot chocolate or café noir. Since there is no set time for breakfast in France it makes them bit hungry by noon :) . Le déjeuner (lunch) was once a two hour mid-day meal but has recently seen a trend toward the one hour lunch break.

It is common at corporate world to be given lunch vouchers as part of their employee benefits. These can be used in most restaurants, supermarkets and traiteurs; however people having lunch in this way typically do not eat all three dishes of a traditional lunch due to price and time considerations. A sandwich followed by a dessert is quite commonly seen and can be found ready-made at bakeries and supermarkets, cafes, bistros or restaurants. Even many restaurants, offer a lower priced prix fixe menu at lunch which is not available in the evening.

It is common in France for someone wishing you “Bon Appetite” if he/she realizes that you are going to have food as you take the exit from office door or lift at noon while in India we hardly say anything before starting our meal. Rather I believe there is no exact translation even in Anglo-Saxon culture for “Bon Appetite” but it does exist in Latin culture in some form or other like in Spanish or Italian lingo.

I have been a silent participator for most of the times as I use to feel shy to communicate with my linguistic skill of French. These three pictures are the only I have from all those lunch time I had with my colleagues. These were taken at very end of our stay with Pamela’s new phone camera. I always felt that I was going to miss those lunch hours if I move out of Paris; now I write about them before they become distant memory.

At my current location in Bombay we do not have any in-house cafeteria at our office (a small office compared to Paris). There are plenty of restaurants around to choose from or I can order for lunch at my desk. With the last one you can work as you take a bite. I am sure any health freak will tell that it is not good for soul and body. Food is supposed to be taken properly so that you chew and eat in peace while a meal in France is not simply a moment dedicated to the nourishment of the body; it is indeed a time for social and even spiritual replenishment.

In Modern India, where average work hours are getting longer and people are slogging more at work. This may be very disturbing social and physiological changes and might have adverse effect as the dynamic working population grow older.


Making of Chocolate Charlotte

Today we have a dinner invitation; spent whole yesterday morning in thinking what would be good to prepare as I did not want to buy anything from supermarket. Since we are moving, wanted to clean the fridge without overstuffing it. So after lot of thought came to conclusion that charlotte might be best. Learnt this recipe from a friend.

A charlotte is any dessert that's moulded into a container lined with sponge fingers or boudoir biscuits (purchased at a bakery or supermarket). It’s normally easy to prepare; hardly takes 15 min.

Make the syrup by mixing equal amount of sugar and water flavour it with adding same amount of rum or brandy to taste.

First line the bottom as well as sides of a container with clean wrap & then with sponge fingers soaked in sugary alcoholic syrup. Now layer it alternatively with chocolate mousse and sponge fingers in a way that top layer should be covered with sponge fingers. Then cover with clean wrap tightly and lid. Leave it to chill for more then 12 hours.

To serve, invert dish onto serving plate and unmold charlotte. Carefully remove plastic wrap. (Variation can be done using vanilla mousse & chocolate mousse alternatively). While serving dust with icing sugar and decorate with fruits or with cold custard or whipped cream.

Well, had our dinner in one Thai restaurant where we had duck in red curry coconut sauce and red curry chicken along with shrimps in green curry basil sauce. What gives Thai food its distinctive character is a harmony in its tastes - sour, salty, hot and aromatic. Mmmm....delicious!


Italian aroma…

"Daney Daney Pey likha hain khaney waley kaa naam"- which colloquially means each grain has the name of the person who will eat it (it is the fortune of the person to have certain meal or not). Well the same with more of spice in Hindi movies "goli goli pey likha hain marney waley kaa naam" which means in each bullets it is written the name of the person who will die.
Before I take you along this blog I will try my best to keep the suspense why the introduction to a culinary adventure got its inspiration from Hindi muhavra & bollywood film.
Today we tried to prepare a Pasta dish bit different from our normal standard. Initially, Pamela did not showed much of interest maybe due to bit long procedure... must have thought to leave on me. But at the end, she seems to have willy-nilly enrolled in Italian cuisine and did all the steps to prepare this awesome dish - recipe to die for without killing for.
Spinach and Ricotta Conchiglie - Conchiglie which means large pasta conch (a kind of shell) designed to hold delicious stuffing in our case it was mixture of chopped spinach and ricotta cheese. Having concave shapes they are one of the most useful shapes as they trap any sauce. Till far we have prepared-long pasta like spaghetti, spiral shaped fusilli, butterfly shaped farfalle, stuffed ravioli either with fresh crème sauce, tomato sauce or pesto sauce. Even we have tried flat pasta lasagna designed to be baked between layers of sauce.
Pasta is one of the staple food of every authentic Italian meal & most versatile food too. It is considered to be low-fat food and rich in complex carbohydrate. But, it is important to take care while choosing sauce as overloading it with cheese or cream sauce will change pasta into high-fat food and of course the number one rule of great Italian cuisine is fresh is best.
Actually, prima facie on the colorful picture of the recipe in the book on Vegetarian by Nicolas Graimes, drew my attention and I thought why not to try it. Well, with out going to reveal the secret of this recipe here are the pictures as the cooking progressed. In other words, let me try to limn an entire procedure through photos taken by me. Hope silence speaks the volume in that way I will not be infringing coyright as Pamela did in previous post.
Finally, the suspense-what made me wrote “Daney Daney Pey .... naam” - is actually I invited one French friend (person who taught us to prepare any pasta ) for dinner and due to some miscommunications he did not showed up. So, it was two of us who had our mouth-watering irresistable pasta, supple in texture and deliciously sauced and stuffed (bit of boasting on my part may-be). But truly, it came out so good that we two were left licking and relishing every morsel. It would have been our pleasure to share a meal with our friend :( but surely next time :)
Ready with all the PasteAll set with ingredients Draining the cooked pastaStuffing with Spinach and RicottaTopped with ParmeseanAll set to serveBon Appetite


Baking Bread

For quite a long was thinking to prepare bread at home which I would have never thought of in my wildest dream if I was in India. But staying at Paris it just clicked why not to try once on experimental basis as it is there staple food. It’s like an icon of France. This is why French people visit the local "Boulangerie" (hot bread shop) at least once a day and this shop is there at least at every street corner. Filled with delicious sensations and smells of warm, just-baked bread will definitely increase your appetite for sure while passing by these boulangeries particularly at morning and evening time. As this is the time when fresh bread along with other baked items like croissant comes out of the oven.
While staying at Paris, I often see people riding bikes, mopeds or motorbikes with baguettes strapped to the back, or walking the streets with their baguette under their arm racing to get home at end of the day. So, it might be another reason for thinking of baking bread at home.
Anywayz, I wanted to get Santanu’s concern on this matter although answer was known to me… “No way”. As he said “no” now I was bit determined to do it so was trying to gather all my courage to do the same by myself when he is not around.
First was to get ingredients particularly leavening agent such as yeast which I got it from nearby super store rest others are normally there at our Indian kitchen. As Santanu is bit health conscious so keeping that in mind I opted for wheat-flour which has superior nutritional value rather than plain all purpose flour and thought to encrust with either sesame or poppy seeds to give a special taste.

Well, there is wide variety of breads and preferred varieties often vary from region to region especially at France. This variation is done by just manipulating rising times, kneading techniques, and with the use of especially traditional brick ovens though basic ingredients like water, salt, yeast and flour remains same. It can be served ranging from room temperature to hot. But always best to have fresh. This can be used as an enclosure for sandwiches other then topping it with jam, butter or cheese. Even it can be served with pasta or as a complement to a crispy fresh salad or hearty bowl of soup. Once baked, bread can subsequently be toasted. And its better not to be stored in fridge as it becomes stale rather one can store in zip-lock plastique so that there is no room for air to get in.
Here, I used very simple technique as this was my first experiment on bread and voila unexpectedly my experiment came out quite well then I thought. Even Santanu was astonished to see that.
Once you have tasted the fresh bread either from boulangerie or home-made I am sure you will never forget its taste. A crisp, crunchy crust and slightly chewy, soft spongy center make this bread bit traditional.


Green plate

In my salad days I used to hate many green veggies and I remember when maa used to scold me for the same. Somehow I didn’t had taste for them at that point of time but gradually I developed the taste so much so that I can now survive happily on those green things (cow-food).
From long time Santanu wanted to make a change on our meal as it seems we both are putting on weight. As I said in my earlier post that he tries to encroach that small part of the house mostly in weekends so he made sure atleast 2 days in week we have salad in our main course meal.

Having salad has got few plus points like less time consuming to prepare, don’t heat up a hot kitchen, very healthy especially in this hot Paris summer…..which means salad season. Besides watermelon or strawberry smoothie, salad is the perfect summer food. They're light, crisp and refreshing-- especially when paired with a dressing and they're versatile with one’s imagination can invent.

At the core of most summer salads is lettuce. It was viewed for years as a tasteless part of a salad that used to be covered up with a thick, sticky dressing. But what a metamorphosis lettuce has seen in the last 10-15 years. Interestingly, new lettuces with various shapes, sizes, colours and flavours have started replacing the ubiquitous iceberg lettuce in supermarkets. The assortment of gourmet lettuces available to the consumer is getting better all the time.

So we had this lettuce leaves with deseeded olives, cherry tomatoes & cheese which was enrobed with a salad dressing of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and few drops of lemon juice. At end drizzle it with salt and whisk together in a large shallow bowl. One can serve in small portions as an accompaniment to roast chicken, or grilled or poached fish. This dressing is actually to highlight not to overpower the salad ingredients. Too much salad dressing will weigh down the salad ingredients and mask their flavors. So...
Bon Appetite bien sur !!!



Normally Santanu has a tendency of encroaching cuisine area particularly on weekend or on his official holidays depending on his mood. In a way, it’s good as I get 2 days off.

We were just back from Switzerland and went for picnic at St.-Germain-en-Laye with few colleagues of Santanu. And Santanu promised he is going to prepare all by himself -simple vegetable-rice and Date walnut brownies.

Lately I borrowed one book on vegetarian by Nicolas Graimes from one friend which includes light meals, main courses, tarts, salads, desserts etc. The best part of this book is initial descriptions on each ingredients starting from seeds, vegetables, different types of cooking oil and what not with colourful pictures. We see certain things in the local market but do not how to prepare them. Neither we know the corresponding English names nor are they commonly available in India. So, its an excellent book for reference.

Last year he got ‘Pates de Dates’ from an Algerian store and it was sitting like a brick in our kitchen. Ever since, I got this book finding a recipe with ‘dates’ he had an eye on it.
Yum…………it came out good unexpectedly.The results are rewarding, here is a picture of fudgy moist and candy like brownies.

Best part is although I didn’t do anything except being a helping hand to Santanu but everyone complimented me for the same.

Even his friends from RFS wanted to have the recipe. These rich brownies are great for afternoon tea and even they do make a fantastic dessert when served with crème fraiche (whipped crème) or vanilla ice-cream. I will be infringing copyright if I copy those here but still couldn’t refrain myself.


  • 350 gm plain dark chocolate
  • 225gm or 1 cup butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 115gm or ½ cup castor sugar
  • 5ml vanilla essence
  • 75gm sifted plain flour
  • 225gm or ½ cup dates-peeled stoned and chopped
  • 200gm or 1 ¾ cup walnut pieces
  • Icing sugar for dusting (optional)

  • Procedure

  • Melt chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of hot not boiling water until they have melted and smooth
  • In a separate bowl beat eggs, sugar and vanilla.
  • Add this into chocolate mixture and fold in flour, dates & nuts
  • Bake for 30-40 min in preheated oven at 190 C
  • Lastly, dust it with icing sugar.

  • Since they had to be chilled prior to cutting, I ate my brownie cold. Normally, I can’t resist myself from testing because of strong baking aroma. I think the fudginess was probably accentuated by chilling, so my sample was especially moist and chewy with a crumbly, crunchy top innards tempered by the occasional chunk of walnut.


    Joy of baking

    With the cold weather and shorter day lights lots of baking is going on and enjoying the butter and sugar lately. Feeling guilty as cann't resist and moreover did not do any exercise after my Paris - Versailles marathon :(
    We were invited to one of my colleague’s place for the first time after almost 3 years in France for ‘Galette des rois’. It was very memorable and an enjoyable evening. Its a French custom to end the holiday session; where there is something hidden in the galette and if that is in your part you are considered king for that day. Children try to find the same in their part and some time they endup doing archaeological digging.
    Pamela baked recently lots of cake and they came out good. The latest one was this apple tart. This was awesome. Now, she really set a very high mark for her skills and hope that she keeps it up :D

    Day 3 - Rishikesh

    The weather looked gloomy with an overcast sky as we woke up. We had breakfast at the hotel and decided to visit Rishikesh today. Again we...