28 March 2008

Review of The Blue Frog - a live music club in Mumbai

6 of us decided to try this place out the new 'happening' club in Mumbai called the Blue Frog, news of which has been doing the rounds for its live music each night of the week.

Reaching there
As you come down Tulsi Pipe road from Dadar, much before Phoenix Mills, and opposite Kamla Mills compound, you'll spot an ICICI ATM and you must turn left immediately even if you think that the place looks all dark and dingy and hardly the types that would house a hip-n-happening club.

Early bird catches the 'free' worm
Beyond 9 pm, you have to pay up a non-redeemable cover charge of Rs.300 per person. Unfortunately we entered at 2 minutes past 9 ! We had tried to make a reservation earlier in the day, but they had said its all taken.

Ambience and music
Anyway, we got a standing / bar stools table near the stage. The place was quite empty at this time and most of the 'pods' [the better seats or the round cubicles if i may call it that] were vacant, but you know how these places are...They love to keep maximum seats as reserved for the guests that wont appear, to show how much in demand they are. The pods are all arranged at increasing heights like an auditorium, which is well suited for viewing live performances. The interiors and design is truly international.

Since this place is all about the music - I must make a mention that the owners have invested in state of art music equipment and quality of sound is undoubtedly excellent. The live band (music) of the day was provided by Bhavishyavaani Future Sounds, which was kind of trance to new-age rock. Although I am no trance lover, the sound bytes were making me groove in my bar stool. The music reminded us of one of our favourite groups - Thievary Corporation.

F&B
We ordered a plate of Tangy mushrooms (Rs.350 or so) with Kingfishers (150) and Asahi beers(350 or so for a pint bottle).
The mushrooms while they tasted good were 6-7 pieces of the smaller fungi in a plate way too large for them or the table! Lets say it occupied 75% of the table :)

The local vodkas cost around 175 for a small shot. After over an hour and a half hovering around the tiny table, we were (drumbeats!!!) finally asked to move to a 'pod' - Oh what a honour....

The seating there is comfortable I must say, and especially so after sitting on the tiny, tall bar stool and on a table that hardly had finger room for the 6 of us, forget elbow room (remember the large plate??)!

Service
More beers were ordered and a plate of home fries or potato wedges as the lesser mortals call them. The spicy sauce that we specially asked for was good. For a plate of 8 fries that costs around 250 bucks, it is wrong to expect something more than boring ketchup to go with it?

The one thing that really cheesed me off was that we asked for two beers and then one of the beer drinkers decided to call it a night as he had to drive back. So when we asked them to get just one, they tried telling us, its already been "made"! Since when have Asahi started brewing their beer in the Blue Frog, pray tell me! Anyway after a little bit of brow beating over the brew, they canceled our order of the extra beer.

Cost of the experience
Apart from the 2 plates of food, five singles of local vodka, 4 KFs and 6 Asahi beers, and the bill came to a whopping Rs. 5300 or so, including 20 odd % of VAT / ? Luxury tax PLUS 1800 cover charge , Total 7100 for one evening out.

The music was good, and the big projector screens all around the ceiling was fun, but if one is not a big fan of trance, it can get boring and repetitive. The place managed to get somewhat crowded by 11.30 when we left. Guess the long weekend (holi etc.) was the reason for a not-so-crowded house.

Final words
Will I go again? Probably yes, when I find some kick-ass group playing live (the gig calendar on their website for the month helps you decide your visit in advance). For trance music at this price - No!

If you just want to have a feel of the place without turning your pocket inside-out, go in early (before 9 with a reservation, asking for a pod) and do confirm when they start the cover charges for that day, when you make your reservation. Hang around with a KF or two. They will ask you to move out by 10.30 pm, because thats when the second lot of reservations are given out, but thats alright! You have around 2 hours to soak in the ambience and the KF.

My Rating:
Concept and ambience - 5/5
Food - 3.5/5
Service - 2.5/5
Pricing - $$$
Overall - 3/5

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Details:
The Blue Frog
Mathuradas Mills Compound,
Opp Kamala Mills Entrance,
Lower Parel, Mumbai.
Phone: 40332300
Website
Gig Calendar

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Read my other restaurant experiences in Mumbai here. I shall soon be posting all reviews in a separate section on the blog for the benefit of my Mumbai readers. Sorry folks, no photos this time. I like to simply enjoy the experience instead of taking photos and grabbing people's attention. I'm sure you understand.


25 March 2008

An antique brass ladle...

...captured in the light of a brass oil lamp.


Ladle with the lamp | Submission for Click : Metal

Camera : Canon Digital IXUS 800 IS



The ladle originally belonged to my great grandmother, who is too old to cook now. I was fortunate to receive something so beautiful from her kitchen collection.

I felt that bright sunlight or harsh fluorescent light, would not do justice to this piece. The gentle flame from a small brass oil lamp, which is a beauty by itself, seemed to be the best partner to a ladle that's aged like fine wine.

The picture has been taken in day time (noon if you may), with the kitchen balcony door closed, thereby darkening the room, kept over a black background and in the light of a small flame.

These are 4 of the 30 odd pictures I liked best (the top one being the strongest contender). Yet to decide which I must send for the Click - Metal event as it is my first participation. I've never considered myself a creative photographer, hence stayed away from the event. This time, Nag's post for the previous round inspired me a great deal.





I guess I will take the help of friends in deciding which to send :) There are still a few days left until the deadline.

Update: I have decided on the first picture - thanks for helping me decide. It was a tough choice between 1 & 2 Vs 3, but had to choose one of them anyway!

Shaved carrot and pear salad with curry vinaigrette



To pick a pear recipe for AFAM Pears, I tried food blog search, Epicurious, the USA pears website and finally settled on Food Network's simple salad recipe from Giada's treasure of recipes. As much as I was tempted on making a coffee cake, or muffins or pears poached in wine and served with ice cream, keeping in mind the summer attack in Bombay, an easy salad (easy on the waist) and that tastes good cold, was very much top of mind, which is what made me choose this.

I have written several times about my love for fruits in a salad. The give a sweetness and a change in texture that makes a salad even more satisfying. So here's another vegetable-fruit combo salad with an interesting vinaigrette. Curry powder in a vinaigrette? The French may turn their pretty noses at this one, but the taste is completely new and wonderful. If the world loves our curry, they will surely love this unusual flavour in a dressing!





Shaved carrot and pear salad in curry vinaigrette
Time taken - Under 10 minutes
Serves 2
Adapted from Giada Laurentis's recipe.



Ingredients and Directions

1 Red anjou pear, halved and sliced very thin (use any pears you have on hand)
2 large carrots, shaved with a vegetable peeler into ribbons
2 tbsp fresh parsley or 1 tbsp dried parsley
2 tbsp pine nuts or walnuts or sunflower seeds

For dressing - whisk together

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder (sambhar powder in my case)
1 tbsp olive oil

Place the shaved carrots, sliced pears and parsley in a large bowl. Pour dressing over salad, add nuts, toss and serve chilled


Other salads from the summer of 2007

Chilled mango salad
Yellow lentil and raw mango salad
Herby tomato salad with pine nuts and cheese
Fattoush
Cucumber sesame salad
Indian carrot peanut salad

And while humming ' I will survive' I am sending this off to my dear friend Raaga who is hosting the event A Fruit a Month, started off by Maheshwari

24 March 2008

Pears for AFAM

While I am deciding what to do with the pears for A Fruit a Month, hosted by my friend Raaga of The Singing Chef, here are a couple of varieties we've enjoyed eating - the brown organic pears, apart from the crisp Indian pears and the Chinese variety.



Although we like to support the locally grown varieties, the Red Anjou is an eye catcher. It costs almost double that of the Indian pears, but the red skin makes it a beauty especially in recipes like this one. I had tried this recipe with the regular green pears, but these red beauties are begging me to have a go at it again...let me see if I oblige!

While this one was labelled as 'brown organic pear', it is also known as the Nashi pear or Asian pear. More about this here. However, the wiki link wrongly calls this one Nashpati in India, which is a different variety altogether.



23 March 2008

Hasperat inspired Hummus, cucumber and sprouts roll up



I can watch most movies, excepting science fiction. That I went for the premier of Star Wars III that started at 11.30 pm and ended in the wee hours of morning, when we were in the US, is another story altogether :D

Vegan Yum Yum is one of my favourite sites, where Lolo showcases delicious looking food and because they are vegan, I can actually manage to cook most of them (subject to availability of ingredients, of course). When I looked at the Hasperat (food from the Star Trek), it looked anything but science fictional...instead it looked hearty, fresh and colourful and perfectly bite-worthy. By the way, while you are on her blog, I insist you look at her unbelievably pretty Knit Night Cupcakes, for which she featured as a guest on the Martha Stewart show!

When I read her beautiful post one night, I actually dreamed of it and how I was going to make it the next morning for breakfast. There were no tortillas on hand, but our roti is after all an Indian version of tortilla. With homemade hummus in the fridge, cucumbers peeled into ribbons and sauteed sprouts, I was all set to make my own version of the hasperat, heavily heavily inspired from the Vegan Yum Yum blog.






Rolled sandwiches with hummus, cucumber and sprouts
These go well for a hearty breakfast or a light lunch / dinner.
Time taken - Under 15 minutes
Serves 2



Ingredients
2 tortillas or rotis rolled out large and very thin
4 tbsp hummus
1 large cucumber, sliced thin with a mandolin or peeled into ribbons
1 cup mung or any other bean sprouts, sauteed in a little oil with salt and chilli flakes

Directions

  1. If using tortilla, warm them in microwave for 10 seconds, or on a skillet or open flame.
  2. If using rotis, first cook the rolled out rotis partially on the hot skillet, both sides and keep aside. Do not puff out the way it is traditionally done to make Phulkas.
  3. Spread a thick layer of hummus. Cover it with a thin layer of sauteed sprouts, followed by a layer of cucumber ribbons / slices.
  4. Roll up tightly.
  5. Brush with some olive oil and grill them on a grill pan or a hot skilled on both sides, for a minute each on low flame.
  6. Cut each roll diagonally across the centre, to make two pieces from each tortilla roll.
  7. Eat them hot.


We loved this for breakfast. Along with a few slices of apple, this breakfast provides the necessary carbs to kickstart your day, ample proteins from hummus and sprouts, cucumber for a serving of vegetable and sliced apple for one serving of fruit. Fibre is also abundant from the whole wheat flour, the hummus, sprouts and apple. Since the weather turned so warm here, we make it a point to have a glass of chilled chhaas or Masala Mor along with breakfast, that accounts for the dairy component. The other plus point for this is that it hardly takes any time to assemble, once you have the hummus, tortilla or dough for roti ready.


This is what we'd call a perfectly balanced breakfast, and this is my submission for an event I'd started off almost 18 months ago to emphasise on breakfast as the most important meal of the day. I'm so glad that Mansi (Fun and Food)who is host for the month, has chosen a theme that is closest to my heart.




20 March 2008

How many calories is your roti?

A phulka puffing up on the flame


While calorific values of general food stuffs is readily found on the internet, roti or Indian bread is a tough one to estimate, because no two people make rotis of the same size or thickness. Some may add oil to bind the dough, some like to coat fresh rotis with a layer of melted ghee to keep them soft and fragrant.

Since a lot of friends ask me about how many calories does a roti add to your diet, I decided to do some basic calculations and came up with this method, where each one of you can calculate the calories in your roti.

This is how I make rotis in everyday cooking -

1 cup whole wheat flour (atta)
water to make dough
1 tsp oil in the end to knead dough till smooth and non-sticky


I make 8 rotis from 1 cup flour.

1 cup whole wheat flour is roughly 400 calories
1 tsp oil is 40 calories

440/8 gives 55 calories per each roti that I make at home.


How can you calculate for your roti?

1. If you are not sure if yours is whole wheat flour - check for the calories provided by 100 g of your wheat flour brand (will be given on the packing in Nutriton information)

100 g of whole wheat flour is roughly 3/4 cup

To get the calories per one cup of your brand of whole wheat flour : Multiply the calories in 100 gram by 4/3.

This gives you the calories per cup of flour (a)If the pack does not mention nutritional info (as would be the case where the atta is ground in the mills in many homes in India) - you can take a rough figure of 400 calories per cup of whole wheat flour.

For eg: If your package says that 100 grams provides 330 calories, then 1 cup will give 330 X 4/3 which is 440 calories.

While making rotis, measure out exactly one cup of flour and use water as necessary to make dough.

2. Note the number of teaspoons of oil you use while making dough.
Add 40 calories per teaspoon of oil. (b)

3. If you use ghee in the end, add 120 calories per tablespoon of ghee. (c)

4. Count the number of rotis that you made from 1 cup of flour (d)

5. Calories per roti will be (a+b+c) divided by d

Eg: If I made 8 rotis from 1 cup flour using 1 tsp of oil and 1 tbsp of ghee, it will be

(440 + 40 + 120) / 8 = 75 calories per roti

The same calculation applies to parathas or naan, where the number obtained from one cup of flour will be much less, also more fat used in their preparation making them high calorie.


17 March 2008

Eggless Hot cross buns



The inspiration for this recipe comes in two parts.

Meeta had told me about the hot cross buns she made a couple of days ago, on chat, and she enticed me with a gorgeous photo (that's not a surprise anyway) of the same. At that point, I just thought, 'wow' with no intention of making them whatsoever. Then, Saturday morning, I decided to bake some good bread to take to friends we were visiting later that evening. I thought Foccasia would be a good idea. Although I've made a Potato Rosemary Foccasia earlier on, I wanted to try something new, which took me to Haalo's blog. I clearly remembered that she had blogged about a beautiful foccasia bread quite a while ago, the pictures i'd seen then were clearly embedded in my mind.
One thing lead to another, and I was looking at some utterly cute hot cross buns This made me change my mind and go for the buns instead. Also, Good Friday being round the corner, it felt like a good idea.

Since I was making these for the first time, I decided to read up on some other blogger notes, about making them. Most recipes pointed to the recipe on the BBC Food website or the Delia Smith recipe, and the former clearly being the more popular one. I managed to combine Haalo's recipe with some techniques in the BBC recipe, replacing the eggs with flaxseed meal, to make vegetarian hot cross buns.

It was fun to do this project - listening to music and reading one of my current favourite authors on the side. A perfectly relaxed Saturday morning, with hubby at work and me smelling the yeast and cinnamon in the house - better than visiting a spa!



Recipe for Eggless Hot Cross Buns
Category : Yeast breads
Time taken : 40 minutes active time and at least 3 hours inactive time



Ingredients

1 tbsp instant dry yeast
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp water | Egg replacer
50 grams melted butter
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour plus some more for dusting
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp Chinese all spice powder
1/2 cup black raisins
1 tsp salt

3 tbsp all purpose flour + 2 tbsp cold water - For piping the crosses

3 tbsp sugar and 2 tbsp water - For sugar glaze

Directions

Step One - Preparing flaxseed puree
Mix the flaxseed meal* and 3 tbsp water in a small saucepan, whisk and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and transfer into a large mixing bowl.
*Take a cup of flax seeds in the mixer and dry grind to a fine powder. You can buy flax seeds from Fabindia organics if your local grocer does not stock it.

Step Two - Activating the yeast
To the mixing bowl, add the yeast, all of the milk, 2 tsp sugar. Whisk well and keep covered in a warm place for around 10 minutes, till it has frothed up like beer.

Step Three - Preparing the dough and proving
Add the melted butter, remaining sugar, spices into the yeast mixture. Sift the flour into the bowl along with the salt. Add the raisins. Knead all the above into a dough, which will be sticky at this stage. Remove the dough to a dusted clean surface and knead for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place this in a well oiled bowl, cover this with a cling wrap. Wrap the bowl in a large tea towel and keep in a warm place ( I place it inside the microwave oven) for around an hour to let the dough double in volume.

Step Four - First knock-down
This part is adapted from the BBC recipe where the dough is allowed to rise three times, in total. The risen dough is punched down, removing all the air by folding it on itself several times and then pressing down with knuckles. Shape again into a ball and place in an oiled bowl for a second rise. Cover and rest the bowl for 40 minutes or so, till dough is double in volume.

Ready to go into the oven

Step Five - Second knock down and shaping
Knock down the dough as explained above and shape into 12 equal balls. Line a rectangular 9 X 12 inch baking tin [I used one 9X9 and baked a second batch of 3 in a loaf tin, as I have a small counter top oven] and place the balls side by side.
Cover and let this rise for 15-20 minutes. They will puff up and invading on the neighbouring bun's territory, filling up the tray beautifully.

Step Six - Crossing the buns and baking
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 240 Celsius and prepare Pour this into a piping bag fitted with a very small nozzle. I used a plastic milk bag and made a small diagonal nick one of the corners. Pipe a cross in the center of each bun and bake for 10 minutes or so, until the buns are golden brown on the top and well puffed up.

Step Seven - Glazing
While the buns are baking, prepare the sugar glaze. Dissolve 3 tbsp sugar in 2 tbsp water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, and keep it simmering until the solution has thickened.
Once the buns are out of the oven, brush them with glaze while still hot and let them cool off before removing from pan.

Tasting notes
OK, I must confess that since I was making them for the first time, I was very eager to try out if they came anywhere close to the yummy hot cross buns I'd eaten at Gaylord's - a cafe in Churchgate that also sells amazingly fresh baked goodies - hot cross buns and chocolate easter eggs sell like 'hot cakes' at this time of the year. I did not wait until they cooled completely, and i felt that although the buns had risen very very well, felt incredibly soft and the colour was perfect, it could have been a bit drier on the inside. Also this could be due to my inexperience in baking with all purpose flour. But taste wise, they were wonderful - just the right sweetness and very cinnamony!
After a quick chat with Meeta, I decided to leave them out and not dare to bake them a second time - but toasting them before eating for a better texture. I did manage to take these to our friends' place later in the evening and I was glad to hear words of praise from our friend who is a very well known caterer specialising in Parsi food.

After-thought
I would love to make these again, for friends - as I am not a big fan of all purpose flour. I will reduce the quantity of milk by 1/4th cup as the dough became quite difficult to shape and handle towards the end, and I could not slash the cross on them either - had to be satisfied with the piped crosses. Our chef friend also pointed out that the buns would have turned out drier inside, had I used egg. So next time, I will use the one egg after all.


Update: My dear friend Meeta has posted her version too, with absolutely inspiring pictures. She made them before I did, but i beat her to posting it :)


These buns go to Bread Baking Day # 8 hosted by Susan of the Wild Yeast Blog.

15 March 2008

An unusual pizza for lunch


Yesterday was one of those days, when I was famished for lunch and the only thing ready was the cauliflower-potato curry made in the morning. Besides this, there was some thin crust pizza base languishing in the fridge since last Saturday, and there was the hummus that I had made a couple of days ago. I also had some ready pizza sauce( Pizza Mazza - Maggi) which I always happen to keep on hand nowadays, for these last minute affairs. (It is quite good!)

Putting all of the above together and a minute in the microwave, a delicious pizza was ready in under two minutes....and I'm all set to beat Rachael Ray at her own game - Hahahaa

Ingredients
1 thin crust pizza base
1 tbsp pizza tomato sauce
2 tbsp hummus
1 cup cauliflower-potato curry (used 1 potato instead of the peas in the recipe)
1 tbsp shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions
Start with the spreading a thin layer of tomato sauce on the base, followed by a thick layer of hummus. Spread the curry evenly over the hummus. Top with cheese (as much as you like). Nuke this for a minute at high power in microwave or bake for 5 minutes in a regular oven (if you have the patience for the pre-heating ritual). I sometimes use leftover pita bread or even leftover / frozen parathas as a pizza base, in times like these.

Eat as hot as your tongue can take it. I did, that's why I kept those cold cucumber slices by the side, for first-aid.

Burp!

That reminds me, we won two movie tickets thanks to DH reviewing a restaurant on Burrp that got selected as review of the week. We love this site, that is an exclusive restaurant review website, covering many of the Indian cities. Each time we have to decide on a place to eat out over the weekend, this site along with the Times Food Guide is a great resource.

[Disclaimer: I have not been paid to say this. And I have been using the site much before we won any prize there :) Just want to bring it this helpful website to the notice of my Indian readers! ]


And this is what has kept me busy all of today morning...I was planning to make Foccasia to take to a friend, and a search lead me to these hot cross buns...I have already devoured one piece of the 12 with a spot of orange marmalade and it's yummy - will share recipe in next post! I know one of my dearest blog friends has made this too in the near past, and i hope we end up posting this together - like how true soul sisters should :)

13 March 2008

Peanut Butter Brownie Sandwich


I had blogged about a basic brownie recipe some months ago, and since then I have made them several times. Since the baking time is under 15 minutes, this is the best option when I want to make something in a jiffy for my friends. Besides summer is almost upon us and I dread any recipe with long baking times to add to the heat in the kitchen

Today, it so happened that the same recipe meant for a 9 X 9 pan, got too thinned out and hence this idea of using two pieces to make one brownie and something to get them sticking.

Since I'd made smooth peanut butter at home* for the second time yesterday, they were on top of my mind to use as a gluey fudge. Plus I wanted to get in some chocolate into the middle layer too. So the fudgy middle layer was made using smooth peanut butter and melted cooking chocolate, both mixed to form a nice smooth fugde.

Ingredients
1 basic brownie recipe, cut into 16 squares
4 tbsp smooth peanut butter*
100 g cooking chocolate, melted in microwave (on high power for 1 min)

Directions
1. In the bowl with melted chocolate, add the peanut butter and using a spoon, blend well to make a smooth fudgy paste.

2. Make a sandwich using two squares of brownies, applying the peanut butter-chocolate fudge generously inbetween the slices.


* How to make peanut butter at home in two easy steps?
Roast the peanuts and grind them with their skins with a pinch of salt and sugar until they turn into a fine butter. That's about it.

It was for the first time I was tasting peanut butter inside of a brownie and it tasted fantastic! It's not just me, but my friend P to whom I made this, absolutely loved it too. We had a lovely afternoon today, as she tried to give me a makeover, starting off by trying to straighten my stubbornly wavy hair...we did succeed to some extent...and then we spent the rest of the afternoon in a wonderful place called Candies tucked in a leafy lane in Bandra...the beautiful pics of this green place in the middle of the concrete jungle is matter for the next post on the Feel Good Blog. Cya there soon! Leaving you with one of the lovely pics...a handpainted tiles' mosaic on an electric blue wall, inside the restaurant.

12 March 2008

Eating out : Sernyaa - Real good Tibetan Food

Update:
Just realized that today is my blog's 2nd birthday. March 12, 2006 was the day I made a shaky start to this whole thing, and I'm glad, for a person who tends to get bored too soon, I've persisted. Thanks to all my friends from real life and blog life (some from blog life who've become real life friends) who have kept me going at this. Two years have simply flown past and blogging has given me a real opportunity to meet fellow food lovers from around the world, learn so many new things about food, given me lovely friends, and also a bit of fame! Thanks to all those who've been a part of my blogging journey.



Correct me if I am wrong, but this is probably the only Tibetan eaterie in Bombay. Another good thing that the SoBo-ites are missing out on as it in on the Link road stretch of the Western suburbs. With two multiplexes, one huge mall and scores of good eating options on this road, it is tough to decide where to go.

Reaching there

It is a blink-and-you-will-miss kinda place, but there’s one thing you cannot miss when driving from Infinity Mall towards Oshiwara - the Lotus Petrol pump on your right. At this point, veer to your left and this small place called Sernyaa is next to a large Sansui neon sign over a shop.


The small entrance and even smaller space inside may initially disappoint you, but wait until you are greeted by the 85 year old owner Uncle John. He will welcome you like how a host welcomes guests into his house, which is a very heartwarming experience as compared to most other restaurant hosts in the city.

This Saturday was our sixth visit to the place in a span of 9 months or so. We landed up hereas we were tossing between Mainland China, Prataps Dhaba and Sernyaa to take my cousin out for dinner. Since Tibetan food sounded like novelty to her, Sernyaa it was.

The food

The food is mainly Tibetan - Soups, starters, Noodles, Rice and Main course and a small Chinese selection.

Starters

Though they have quite a variety of starters, both deep fried and stir fried, we started with Steamed Vegetarian Momos and soups. [Sernyaa special Khowa and Red Rice with baby mushrooms khowa]. This red rice, as uncle John enlightened us, is not rice, but a herb found in the hilly regions of Tibet and is extremely good for overall wellbeing.

Main course - vegetarian

Dauzien De [Rice in a clay pot cooked with vegetables and black mushrooms] - This dish can be eaten by itself as it is fairy mushy with its own sauces. One excellent dish that you must try, biting into the chewy black mushrooms is a yummy experience.

Lhasa Gyadhuk [Noodles in sizzling platter] - Noodles with veggies in flavourful sauce served on a sizzler plate

Yang Chen Chema - Snow peas, mushrooms and baby corn in hot chilli sauce.

Both the noodles and the curry were excellent, spicy but not over the top. I have always found the vegetables crisp and fresh and none of the dishes use MSG (ajinomoto). Sometimes, the chef is generous with the salt though!

The meat eaters have a wide variety of options - I shall be able to give you more details in an update after my next visit.


Service

We have always found the service decent and with uncle John (in the pic) popping by to ask if everything is fine, it is more hospitable than most places in this city. There is nothing great about the ambience, and sometimes one or both of the ACs are down, but that doesn’t prevent us from frequenting this down-to-earth place serving good food.
The portions are large and a generous meal for three came to Rs.500.

The six odd tables are always full and the people always keeping coming back to this tiny place in Bombay with flavours of Tibet.

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Sernyaa Tibetan Chinese Kitchen
185, Adarsh Nagar, Oshiwara Link Road, Andheri (W), Mumbai
Phone 66784645, 65741005, 9820531935

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More on Tibetan Cuisine
Althought we eat out atleast once a week, I don't end up posting reviews here, because I feel taking pictures of food in the restaurants attracts too much unwanted attention :) I am slowly getting over it and hope I shall be posting more in the 'Eating Out' section!




11 March 2008

Eggless Date Walnut Cake



Who can forget Shilpa's Date Cake, that spread like wild fever in her Aunt's circle! Well, it is tough to resist such a well tried and tested recipe, and I'm all for simple recipes...

I made a few substitutions in the original - increasing milk to one cup and oil to 1/4 cup, plus using whole wheat flour (atta) - and the result was a very soft cake. I guess the date puree itself gives a soft texture, for the same reason as applesauce.

Also I used organic jaggery instead of sugar, pureeing it with the soaked dates. Next time, I will lessen the jaggery used - as the dates provided enough sweetness as it is.

I also topped the entire cake with shredded coconut and plenty of walnuts, adding some chopped walnuts to the batter. The taste of the walnuts cut through the sweetness of the dates, and the smelling of toasting coconut shreds while the cake was baking was pretty heavenly.

This is a kind of cake you can send in your kid's lunch box as a snack. The dates and jaggery make it an iron rich, high-energy snack.

Do check out the original recipe at Aayi's Recipes and I'm sure the fever will continue to spread!

10 March 2008

Cracked wheat with tons of veggies


This dish is modeled after the excellent Vegetable Baath that my mom makes. Baath is nothing to do with bathing, but this is a rice dish, that has loads of vegetables that are finely chopped, sauteed with whole spices and spice powders. The cooked rice is then cooled and delicately hand-mixed with the spiced vegetables. My favourite accompaniment to this is a ripe banana pachchadi (raita), the recipe for which I must share with you once I manage to capture a picture of this. This darn thing is so delicious that waiting to take a pic is an ultimate test of resolve.

Here, I have not bothered to cook the veggies and wheat separately but cooked the wheat in a sort of stock where the vegetables have been half cooked. Next time, I intend to do it the way mom does it for the 'baath' and will update the results here.

The result of the dish below is a cross between an upma and a pulao, which could have been due to some confusion in my head. The dals, ginger and curry leaves are the seasoning that are done in case of upmas and the whole spices are from the pulao end of the spectrum. You could use either one or both of them.

Ingredients
3/4 cup cracked wheat, medium sized
1/2 tsp ghee / butter

5-6 cups of finely chopped vegetables
I used-
Fresh green peas
Green beans
Carrots
Cauliflower
Cabbage
Spinach
Fenugreek greens
Capsicum

2 tsp olive oil
2 bay leaves
4-5 cloves
1-2 sticks of cinnamon
2 green cardamoms
1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp udad dal
1 tsp chana dal
1 tsp chopped green chillies
1/2 tsp finely grated ginger
1-2 dried red chillies, broken

1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp sambhar powder
1 1/2 tsp salt


Directions

In a large wok, heat the ghee / butter and saute the cracked wheat for 3-4 minutes on medium flame till fragrant. Remove in a bowl. Cover with 3 cups of boiling hot water, cover and keep aside.

In the same wok, heat the olive oil and add the whole spices (bay leaves, cloves, cumin, cardamom). After 30 seconds, add the mustard seeds. Let them crackle, and follow it with the udad dal and chana dal. These need to be sauteed for 1 minute on low to medium flame to turn them golden brown.

Next, add the green chillies, ginger, curry leaves, red chillies. Stir them around for a minute or so, and transfer all the chopped veggies and greens into the wok. Add half the salt, sprinkle with water and cover with a tight fitting lid. Give it a stir every 2 minutes with more sprinkles of water. OR Place a thali (a dish with a rim) with one cup water in it to cover the wok and let the veggies cook for 6-8 minutes till almost tender.

At this point, tip the bowl with the cracked wheat in hot water, into the wok. Add the spice powders (turmeric powder, sambhar powder), remaining salt, stir well and cover until the cracked wheat is cooked till tender. This will take around 6-8 minutes depending on size of the grains. Adjust salt and spiciness. Fluff with a fork and remove into a serving bowl.

Serve hot with a bowl of chilled raita.
This is perfect when I don't want to fuss over making dinner. This one pot dish is nutritious, filling and tasty as well, and it is just right to send over to Meeta's Monthly Mingle : One dish dinners.

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2 March 2008

Sprouts for breakfast - Healthy eats WBB




As a vegetarian, I'm always looking for ways to include quality proteins in our diet. Since we are not too keen on dairy products or eggs - beans, lentils, sprouts and soy are our main options. I love oats porridge or wheat flakes as an easy breakfast as they are rich in fibre, but being low in proteins, I'm hungry again in a couple of hours. The gnawing feeling in the stomach can be a major distraction especially while trying to get some brain work done.

As regards sprouting - I forget about it for a stretch and then on a whim, I soak all the beans in my pantry in separate containers - atleast 4-5 of them, so that they are all sprouting over the next two days and I store away the sprouts in a refrigerator. These are used in soups, salads, pulaos, curries and even sandwiches over the next couple of days. And when I feel that they are getting over two days old, not to lose out on the vitamin C and other nutrients that starts depleting even in the fridge, I grind all remaining sprouts in the blender to a fine puree with some chillies and ginger. After seasoning with salt, this batter makes wonderful dosas. This is something like the pesarattu [savoury pancakes] that is a favourite Andhra breakfast made from soaked and ground green mung beans.

There are people who can eat raw sprouts with some salt, pepper and lime juice. Not me. I prefer them cooked, easier on the teeth and digestion too. The sprouts used here are the smaller variety of black eyed peas / cowpeas - called chowli (hindi) beans. I wonder if this is the same as what we call thattai payiru in tamil.

Here, there are soaked overnight, drained and sprouted by tying in a muslin cloth for 1-2 days, with a sprinkle of water now and then. These can be boiled in water, steamed in microwave or pressure cooked. I prefer the last option as it is the quickest. In a small 2 L pressure cooker, it takes less than 5 minutes to cook till soft.


Breakfast bowl of sprouts
Category - Protein rich, breakfast
Time to table - Under 20 minutes
Serves-2


Ingredients

1/2 cup dried chowli beans cooked as above in 2-3 cups water
1/4 cup chopped spring onions / scallions with the white parts
1 tomato finely chopped
1 tsp oil
1 dried red chilli
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp spice mix of choice [garam masala / dhania jeera / pav bhaji masala / rajma masala]

Directions

1. In a wok, heat the oil. Splutter the mustard seeds, fry the dried red chilli for a few seconds.

2. Saute the spring onions till bright green and wilted. Next, put in the tomatoes and saute for a minute.

3. Add the cooked chowli sprouts with the water in which it was cooked along with the rolled oats.

4. At this time, put in the spice powders, salt and let it come to a simmer. The oats will absorb all the excess water as they cook. Remove into two serving bowls and eat it hot.


This breakfast will keep you filled for a good 4-5 hours and will satisfy all those who like something savoury / spicy first thing in the morning. It also provides you a good percentage of the daily required 25-30 grams of dietary fibre, almost 4.5 g per bowl coming from the cowpeas itself.


Suganya at Tasty Palettes was the host of Weekend Breakfast Blogging for Feb, the theme being Healthy Eats.
This was prepared in mind keeping the event, but I'm late in posting! Hope to see lots of healthy breakfast eats in the round up.
Catch you there