Cooking, Eating, Blogging – thrice the fun I’ve ever had.


It all started with my love for food and my friends saying “You know what? You should have a blog!” I thought it was a great idea too. But being the procrastinator that I am, I acted on it months of them nagging me.

Although I am new to the blogging world, it wasn’t difficult to figure out how to go about it. This blog is all about food – recipes, cooking tips, where to eat in Mumbai, what to try out everything ranging from savoury dishes to the most delectable desserts as well as from good restaurants to the awesomest ‘khau gallis‘ (Food Streets) of Mumbai.

I have always had a thing for cooking, sometimes trying out versions of what I see on “Masterchef Australia”. Yes, specifically Australia. Nothing else. Or even from Nigella’s Kitchen and Martha Stewart. And when it comes to Indian cooking, Aditya Bal’s ‘Chakhle India’ is a very good option. It doesn’t necessarily have to be TV shows, but also recipes from here and there or Mum’s cookbooks. But all these years, I never once thought of posting anything online (A mistake, sigh!) Nevertheless, it means more cooking to in order to put it up.

Cooking, Eating, Blogging – thrice the fun I’ve ever had. 

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Mainland China: Restaurant Review

Just a few days back, I went for a lovely dinner with friends at Mainland China, the one at Tardeo. If you want to eat authentic Chinese food, Mainland China is the place to visit. It being a Saturday, we had to make the reservations in advance. You cant barge into this popular eatery on a weekend night and expect to find a table just waiting for you.

On reaching there, the receptionist escorted us to our table. You get a different vibe when you enter the restaurant, maybe its the excitement of getting to eat the most amazing Chinese food ever (or maybe its just me). The Staff is very friendly, and they are willing to help you out with the menu. Although, we knew exactly what we order. Another thing I love about this place is that, they give you a bowl full of ‘Kimchi’, to snack on, while you wait for your food. Kimchi is a Tangy- Spicy Chinese Pickle consisting of Chinese Cabbage and Spring Onions, marinated in Soy Sauce and Vinegar, with Ginger, Garlic, Chilies etc.

For starters, we ordered the ‘Hunan Prawns’. They were actually shrimps, perfectly cooked and fresh! The shrimps were pan fried with the extra spicy Hunan Sauce. It came with a Side Salad and a Schezuan Dip.
We also ordered for a ‘Chicken Siu Mai’ a Chinese Dumpling. The filling consisted of Minced Chicken, Ginger and some Spring Onions. They served a pungent Mustard Sauce and some Soy Sauce with it.

For the main course we ordered for the Tsing Hoi Chicken, which is a red coloured gravy, with a lovely portion of Chicken, veggies and not to forget, Mushrooms! We asked the waiter what rice would go with the gravy and he suggested us the Black Pepper Fried Rice. We ordered for Rice as none of us is a big fan of noodles, although I have heard that they serve really awesome Pan Fried Noodles.We cleared the rice, but there was some gravy leftover, so we decided to order a Half a Plate of Steamed Rice. To our surprise, even the half plate was as good as the entire portion. We had a hard time finishing up the food, as I am totally against wasting stuff, and especially when it comes to food from Mainland.

We asked the waiter to get the check, he approached us and asked us if we would like to order some dessert. We were tempted to (I think even he noticed), but there was absolutely no place in our tummies. But then we thought there’s no harm in sharing it between the three of us. We ordered for a Sizzling Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream and a Dash of Chocolate Sauce! We were in for another surprise when the waiter said that the Dessert was ‘On the House’! Have been there ‘n’ number of times and will always keep visiting!

Food – 4/5
Ambience- 3/5 ( There was a Noisy Family Get together on the table next to ours)
Service – 4/5

Spicy Red and Yellow Bell Pepper Sauce

Ingredients:


2 Red Bell Peppers
2 Yellow Bell Peppers
1 Big Onion
20 Garlic Cloves
3 Red / Green Chilies
10 Coriander Sprigs
Salt as per taste
Oregano as per taste
Chili Flakes as per taste
1 Tablespoon Barbecue Sauce (optional)

The Procedure:

Roast the peppers by placing them on an open gas flame.

Turn them frequently with tongs until all sides are charred black, 7 to 10 minutes.
Place in a plastic or paper bag, and cool for about 15 minutes. Peel the peppers, remove the seeds and stems, and discard. Coarsely chop the peppers.
Transfer the peppers and garlic to a food processor and process until smooth. Add the onions and process until smooth. With the machine running, add 1/4 cup of the extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice in a steady stream through the feed tube. Add the corriander, oregano, chilli flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and process until smooth.
Adjust the seasoning, to taste. Transfer to a saucepan and heat till the mixture bubbles. Pour into a decorative bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve cool or at room temperature, with nachos or tortilla chips for dipping.

Grapes Upside Down Cake

 

The idea came to mind, when I suddenly came across heaps of bunches of black grapes, just sitting on the kitchen top. Must have been at least 2 kgs of them!! Having being bought in bulk, they came cheaper than usual. The problem – ‘Nobody to eat them’. The grapes, turned out to be pretty sour, and as everybody is down with cold, nobody wished to pop them in their mouths, fearing the expected consequences. Somebody would wonder, why they were even bought in the first place. I did too. But if you go to see, the answer is, ‘Grapes Upside Down Cake’. I have been wanting to bake this ‘upside down’ thingie, since, forever! Ever since I saw Bree baking a Pineapple Upside Down Cake, for Gaby, in the season 6 of Desperate Housewives, and also had the same urge when i saw Maggie Beer baking a ‘Grapes Upside Down Cake’ on Masterchef Australia. Of course hers was too exotic. Mine’s a bit too simple. But Tasty. So here goes the recipe –

The Ingredients:

For the Sauce-

150 gms grapes
100 gms Sugar
1 1/2 cup Water

For the Cake-

2 cups White Flour

3/4th cup Milk
2 Eggs
100 gms Butter
1 1/2 cup Castor Sugar
A pinch of Baking Powder
A pinch of Salt
2-4 drops of Rose Pink Food Colour. (optional)
Approx  20 grapes

The Procedure:

For the Sauce-

Cut the grapes coarsely and add them to a cooking pan. Mix in the sugar and when it starts melting, pour the water. Bring it to a boil till consistency is syrupy. Put aside and let it cool.

For the Cake-

Preheat Oven at 180 C. for 20 minutes.

Beat two eggs in a mixing bowl. Add in the milk. Beat again. Then, add softened butter, and mix till smooth. Mix the castor sugar in the beaten egg, milk and butter, and keep mixing til the sugar melts. Sift the flour and fold it in this beaten mixture, along wit a pinch of baking powder and salt. Check the consistency and if too thick add some more milk.

Once mixed thoroughly, gently fold in the grape sauce and put two drops of rose pink food colour (literally 2 drops, not a single drop more).

Line the baking tin with butter paper and line it with whole grapes, until the bottom of the tin is completely covered. Then pour in the cake batter into the tin and place it in the oven, for about 30 minute.

Check if cooked evenly by inserting a toothpick. If it does not come out clean let it bake for some more time.Once ready, let it cool for a while before taking it out of the tin. Place a plate on top of the tine and invert it. the cake should come out along with butter paper. Peel it off, and you should have a lovely looking Grapes Upside Down Cake.

Cut a piece out and inside will be a beautiful purple cake that looks straight out of Fairy Tale.

Chocolate Brownies with Whipped Cream

Cravings for chocolate and boredom together lead me and my friend to baking  these chocolate brownies. Very simple to cook yet everybody’s all time favourite – The Chocolate Brownie – can be had with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, loads of chocolate sauce. Our choice this time was whipped cream, as it was not a pre-planned decision.
    The Ingredients:
  • 115 g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
    170 g caster sugar
    2 eggs
    40 g plain chocolate
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    2 tbsp warm water
    1 tsp baking powder
    55 g plain flour
    55 g cocoa powder
    Whipped Cream as per need.
     
    The Procedure:
    Preheat the oven to 180C
    Prepare the cake tin. Grease an 18cm/7in square cake tin and line with non-stick baking parchment.
    In a clean bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
    Chop the chocolate and put to one side.
    Chop the pecans, if using. Gently fold the nuts and chocolate into the butter and egg mixture.
    Add the vanilla extract.
    Add the baking powder, then sift in the flour and cocoa powder. Mix well; the mixture will be quite wet.
    Spoon the brownie batter into the prepared tin and level out the top with a spatula.
    Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes.
    Allow to cool in the tin for ten minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool.
    Decorate with Whipped Cream or serve alongside.

Restaurant Review: Nisarga

After a long discussion on which restaurant to have dinner at, celebrating the birthdays’ of two of my cousins, we decided on ‘Nisarga’ (Kothrud, Pune). ‘Nisarga’ is a seafood lovers delight, and rules out the misconception of Pune not being a place to have seafood. Well, the times have definitely changed and one can always rely on this particular restaurant to dish up the freshest of the treasures from the sea. ‘Nisarga’ also provides valet-parking facility which is a huge relief, because of it being situated on a busy street.

A two- leveled restaurant, with a beautiful interior, told us that ‘We definitely are in for some great time’. The manager quickly led us to our table and it was a good thing that we had booked a table in the afternoon, because there were people who entered a few minutes later who had to either wait for a long time or just go find some place else.
The waiters were all very friendly and the service was great. Most of us started the order with a round of mocktails. I first went in for ‘Shelby Time’, a concoction of – Fresh Orange Juice, Sprite and Grape Juice, topped with a slice of Orange and a Cherry. The second one I ordered for, is an all time favourite – The very famous ‘Pina Colada’, a blend of Fresh Pineapple Juice, Coconut Milk, Sugar and oodles of Vanilla Ice Cream. Bliss.
 Also, something I forgot to mention in the introduction, ‘Nisarga’ being a seafood specialty, caters to all types of food with the same amount of love combined with the right technique. For starters we ordered platters of
Chicken Hariyali Kebabs and Chicken Banjara Kebab. The chicken was cooked to perfection with the perfect amount of spices. The Salad and The Pudina-Dhaniya chutney that accompanied it was tasty too. The Tandoori Pomfret and the Prawns Koliwada could make anybody go crazy!
For the Main we decided upon Murg Multani, as we wanted something that wasn’t too spicy, nor sweet, boneless and their waiter suggested us this dish(And it turned out to be so), with Butter Naans for the some of us non seafood lovers, and Surmai in Malwani Style Gravy with some Chapatis. As the saying- “Saving The Best For The Last” goes, the last on thing to arrive at the table was The Prawn Biryani. It was the loveliest thing ever and if you visit this place it is an absolute must-have. It was spicy, but not as much as it would burn your mouth (just as a Biryani should be), had a coconut oil touch to it, with the perfectly sized and cooked succulent prawns mixed in with some freshly grated coconut, which made justice to it being a coastal dish.
Was a lovely experience- The Food and The company. And Yes, the food is kind of expensive, but as you start biting into it, it wont bother you much. Will definitely give it another visit.
There was this one funny moment though. As we had gone their to celebrate two of my cousins’ birthdays, aged 13 and 17, we asked them (Mind you, ‘just asked them’) if they have the ‘Happy Birthday’ song in their collection as we wanted to surprise them and had sent them both away from the table. They, without asking us played the entire two minute song meant for those two little kids, who were not even present to listen to it. everybody, even at the neighbouring tables started looking here and there because all everybody could hear was the song, but nobody clapping, nor a cake (as it was supposed to arrive after the dinner). Doesn’t matter much, I know. But just thought of sharing it.
P.S   I could just share two pictures as i was too busy enjoying the food to think about clicking pictures or posting them online.