Monday, 29 September 2014

Tips on Making a Great Risotto

Cooking is a mixture of creativity and art. If a person has passion to cook, he or she can master a dish. To perfect a dish, there are some tips which can be considered while making it, also the most important thing, practice and experience, the two things which are necessary in making a dish perfect.

Risotto is one of those dishes, that when seen on television, seems easy to cook, but it is very difficult to master. The dish can be easily undercooked or can be overcooked. Its a bit tricky to get the perfect texture, which comes with some tips, experience and practice.

Picture courtesy

Some of the tips to master this death dish are.

  1. Never wash the rice, as it will lose all the starchiness. 
  2. Use the best rice available for risotto in the market. for eg. Arborio, Vialone Nano or Carnaroli.
  3. Start with butter and toast the rice a bit in the butter. 
  4. While cooking, add stock little at a time and cook till almost done. 
  5. Keep stirring the rice, so that it doesn't stick to the pan. 
  6. If possible, deglaze the pan with white wine, to extract all the flavors stuck to the bottom of the pan. 
  7. To finish off the risotto, take it off the heat, add in the cheese and butter and stir. 
  8. Always taste the food and cook the rice till the Al Dente stage, which means 'To the tooth'.
  9. The texture of the risotto after it is cooked, should be close to flowing lava.
  10. When cooked risotto is kept outside, it tends to dry up, so while serving, add some more stock and heat it up once again if needed.
  11. Last but not the least, keep experimenting and trying. 

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

An Old Classic - GayLord

There was a time when people use to visit a particular restaurant a couple of times as there were not many options, but in recent times, there have been quite a many restaurants opening up and there has been a lot of competition these days. I personally have seen a new restaurant opening up every now and then and that to at every corner.
Being a Chef and a Foodie, I like to travel, try out different cuisines and roam around and eat at many restaurants. Due to the long working hours and busy schedule, in recent times haven't tried any new restaurants. Recently, a mail from the FBAI - Food Bloggers Association India was received in the mail box, which said, there was another bloggers meet up at an old, classic restaurant names GayLord. This is one of those restaurants which I use to think, some day ill visit for sure whenever I use to pass by and finally got a chance to visit here.

The main reason, the restaurant had arranged a bloggers meet was, its a restaurant that doesnt need any publicity or any articles, its one of the most famous and the one of the oldest, this was being discussed between me, my friend Zenia Irani blogging at, Jahan Bloch, blogging at and almost everyone else there. The actual reason was they were going social and spreading over social media, as it is the generation of social media and people are jumping over to the internet.

So everyone arrived, we got into talking to each other, and I tell you, there was lots and lots to catch up and talk about. Drinks were there to accompany the talks and not to forget the food. Drinks like their well known Pina Colada, their Daiquiri and lots more.

My peach daiquiri was good, but had a bit extra kick of the alcohol, couldnt taste the flavor of the peach, but it is said, the more the better, so the more alcohol, the better it was.

This is not it, there was a huge menu and a good variety of food planned for the meet and the dishes were picked from their menu and consisted some of their well known.

Looking at the menu,  I was a bit surprised, why isn't there classic dishes like the Chicken Ala Kiev, Lobster Thermidor, Chicken Montreal and many others. But the menu was quite enticing and mouthwatering.

While all of us were seated, came the GM of the restaurant. Mr Noel. the person has been handling the place for the last 25 years and its a very long time, and has a big hand in maintaining the consistency of the food, the service and the taste which is what I was hearing from people. as they had visited the place earlier as well.
There was a time, Gaylord was mainly known for its bakery, as they were the first people to have an show oven, where people could see the breads being baked fresh and coming out of the oven and anyone passing by had to stop there for a glimpse for sure and smell the aromas of the breads.

One of the dishes to start with was the Bhaerwan Aloo, a mild preparation consisting of Potatoes stuffed with cottage cheese stuffing and other flavors, The dish seemed pretty interesting, but there was something which was lacking, it was a bit bland and had a floury taste to it.
Look wise the dish was really good. and as they say, people eat with their eyes first and then proceed, thats what exactly happened, the dish was quite eye appealing.

Another dish, that was the Chicken Kebabs, must say, they the most amazing, juicy and tender kebabs. Packed with flavors, and just amazing.
This is one of the dishes I wouldn't mind eating again and again.
In case, you get a chance to visit the place, do give it a try and I'm sure, you will love it.

Paneer is one of those dishes, a person loves to eat and enjoys it for sure. The kesari paneer over here was looking very tempting but was lacking flavor, was bland and tasteless from the center.
Something could have done to it so that one can enjoy it and have the taste eat more of it.
Along with these, also there was Lahori Fish Tikkas, and must tell you, the fish was just melt in mouth, lots of flavors, and cooked to perfection.

A roughage with the meal is always a great option, and here we all had a variety of two of the classics, Waldorf Salad and the Prawn Cocktail. The Prawn Cocktail  dint seem like actual prawn cocktail, as it was quite sweet taste wise, but the prawns were perfect in texture.
The Waldorf Salad, had real good crunch from the walnuts, had the nice taste from the dressing and was quite eye appealing as well. I'm glad, that a classic like this dint go wrong.

Apart from the food and all the bloggers, there was also the Founder of Gaylord- Mr A.N Malhotra - he was one of the founding partners of Gaylord and is the current CEO. It was a great pleasure meeting the man behind the restaurant and interacting with him was such an honor.

There was another classic on the table, the Classical French Onion Soup and this one had an egg yolk as well. The soup had flavor at first, but once mixed with the egg, lost the flavor and dint look that appealing as well. Where the other soup, Chicken Consomme, was quite interesting and much better than this one. Do give it a try when visiting here.

In between, we all headed to the all time famous, the bakery which was well know at one point of time for a group photos and where the history was being told to us and was quite surprised to hear that the it was amongst the first bakeries in town.

There was a time, I use to avoid eating fish, but in recent times, after joining the industry and working, I have again started with the same, and recently i had good pomfret meuniere at this place, cooked perfectly,and had a nice flavor of the lemon from the lemon butter which  was poured over it and served.
If i remember, I dint stop at just 1 piece and had a couple of them.

The Roast Chicken and Bacon, looked a bit unpleasing, and after i had a piece of it, dint enjoy it as well. Cant explain it but it was a no for me to this dish.
Would avoid it the next time as well.

The Keema Nali Ghost, one of my all time favorite mutton dish, so I had to try this one without any doubt. The texture of the dish was very nice, the meat was tender, but had a strong flavor of cardamom which was very overpowering and was a let down.

The murg Makhni, a north Indian classical dish, this one had the right consistency, the chicken pieces were quite tender and not chewy which is more of a disappointment, but this one was just perfect. 
And specially along with the variety of naans and parathas, the flavors were complimenting each other. 
The was one dish dish which was the hero of the day and took away all the attention, Lasuni Palak, this dish, I would say was one of the best lasuni palak I had in a very long time. If I visit the place again, this will be the dish I would go for again, without any questions.  

Before leaving the place, everyone was handed over with a token of appreciation, a huge basket which consisted goodies from their bakery, like the macarons, breads, cupcakes, cookies and much more.
To the left with me are some of my favorite bhookads and bloggers.
(L-R - Beenaz, Myself, Megha Sarin and Zenia)

Like I always say, 'Photo to Banta hai'. At every meet, there has to be a picture where all of us come together and take a photo, that we can always cherish and remember. With this another great FBAI event comes to end, which was filled with lots of food, fun and talks and a great story. 
Thanks to the FBAI - Food Bloggers Association India and Dennis Taraporewala - Director of Criesse Communications and the whole team for having us over and the wonderful evening. 

Address - Mayfair Building, Ground Floor, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate, Mumbai
Number - 02222821259, 02222044693

Monday, 8 September 2014

Smoke House Deli

Its that time of the year, where in the town, begins the most happening week for food lovers, Restaurant Week. This time it was something different, it was based on European Cuisine. As said, the main motive of this week, was to make the people of Bombay familiar with European Cuisine and try new dishes.

As mentioned by the European Union -"With its ‘Restaurant Week’ scheduled from 6th – 12th September in Mumbai, the European Union (EU) is all set to take consumers on a European gastronomic trip. Held as an extension of its ‘Tastes of Europe’ campaign, the ‘Restaurant Week’ aims to increase consumer awareness about European dishes, ingredients and flavors in India. Involving a collaboration with high end restaurants in Mumbai catering to European cuisine, the ‘Restaurant Week’ will see these restaurants whip out dishes guaranteed to tease Indian taste buds and in turn grow an appreciation for European produce, dairy products and wine."

So the first stop of the Restaurant Week was Smoke House Deli, located in Bandra Kurla Complex. Before I get started, there was a funny incident which took place at the place. I was going along with a close friend of my Jahan Bloch blogging at We were suppose to meet for lunch and don't know why, but instead of the Bandra Kurla Complex outlet, I called her at the outlet located at Pali Hill. After meeting her at the Pali Hill outlet, i realize that it was actually the other outlet and then there were many things i got to hear from her. 
Never the less, we arrived to the other outlet, were escorted by the host to our tables, where we were served with the specially designed menu, which was for the European Restaurant Week or #TasteOfEurope. 

The menu was made from the items selected from their existing menu and consisted of a usual option, a choice between Veg and Non Veg. 
A fixed 3 course meal with some choices in the dishes, which was priced at a decent rate. The Veg being priced at 1300/- plus taxes and Non Veg being priced at 1500/- plus taxes, which is quite reasonable for some lovely food. 

To begin with, after being handed over the menu and greeted very well, a small beginning of food was given, a bread basket with some great breads and flavored butter. There was a variety of breads, and some of them were just amazing. 

As we were two, so we decided to go for the veg and the non veg option and try out both of them, so from the range of dishes, the 1st course, salads/soups/starters, we ordered the Aubergine & Mozzarella Fry with Sundried Tomatoes and Garlic Salsa, along with a salad, which was, Asparagus & Grapes with Toasted Flax Seeds Salad.

Aubergine & Mozzarella Fry with Sundried Tomatoes and Garlic Salsa
I personally am not a big fan of Aubergine, but this dishes consisted of Pesto sauce, with olives, amazing salsa, with cheese. The texture was amazing, it was one of the best dishes I had here, the mozzarella was going very well with the aubergine and, it was really crisp. Honestly speaking, i have started loving aubergine after having this.

Asparagus & Grapes with Toasted Flax Seeds Salad

To accompany this, Jahan, the toxicbaker, ordered for the Asparagus & Grapes with Toasted Flax Seeds Salad. I personally dont like salads which contains lots of green leaves, if i have to say, lettuce, but this was an exception. The Asparagus was a bitter in taste, where as the salad had a good amount of grapes, cherry tomatoes, that were complimenting each other. Taste wise, it was another good dishes that was served to us. So the score was 2 up for Smoke House Deli.

With some great start to the food and service, it was time for the next course, the mains, out of the many choices, we had to come up with two of them which was a bit difficult as all of them were mouthwatering and tempting with the names. Finally the two dishes we came up with were Wild Mushroom Risotto and House Spice Smoked Chicken with Five Spice Jus, Green Beans and Lyonnaise.

Wild Mushroom Risotto

I love Italian cuisine, the variety of pastas, the risotto, other dishes like the Sicilian Caponata and many more. So when my risotto arrived, I was pretty happy that, I love this. The first bite of the dish and it was just spot on. The texture was perfect, the seasoning, the flavors were bursting, which all together made it the best risotto I have had in town. I would say, if you like Italian food, Do give this dish a try and I'm sure you will not regret it.

House Spice Smoked Chicken with Five Spice Jus, Green Beans and Lyonnaise

Another dish in the mains the House Spice Smoked Chicken with Five Spice Jus, Green Beans and Lyonnaise, according to me was lacking a bit in flavor, as the chicken pieces had flavor on the outside, was bland in the center.
And the other issue was, my friend, doesn't consume wine or alcohol, and the dish somehow had wine in it, couldnt eat it though. But took over my risotto, and unfortunately, that also had wine in it. While all this was going on, the Team leader came to us and asked us about any issue, and after telling him the reason, he insisted on getting the risotto exchanged and making it a new dish, without wine. I must tell you, i was very generous of the person to do that and get it made for us.
So now the score was, Smoke House Deli, up 3 and 1 for the staff.

It is people like these, that make the restaurant and the customer very happy and I really appreciate that. There was one thing I forgot to talk about, and that was the ambiance of the place. The place had a nice, white interiors, very simplistic and a place that gives the impression of being clam which was really good.

Any meal is not over, until there is some sweet or dessert to go with it. And who doesn't like sweets and desserts. Out of the many option, my eyes were onto, the PannaCotta and Raspberry & Oreo Mousse Cake. I didn't worry about putting on some extra calories, it was just, I had to have them.
Raspberry & Oreo Mousse Cake
There came the desserts was the words I spoke when I saw the plates coming towards the table. They both looked just tempting, I could just dive in them. The Raspberry and Oreo Mousse Cake, had the most amazing flavor of Raspberry and Oreo. But the sad part was, the base which was made from oreo, was a bit burnt and had a little after taste of it. The texture was very smooth, wobbly and just perfect. 
Vanilla PannaCotta

Not to forget, the Italians favorite, The PannaCotta. They say, you should always keep the best for the last, and that exactly what was it. This PannaCotta was the best in town. I haven't had another, which is close to this. It was not very sweet, which I like. had the nice creamy texture and along with that, it was still light. 
Anyone visiting here, has to give this dessert a try. 

This bring to end of the meal, and due to the food and the desserts, me and my friend were full and couldn't eat another bite. All thanks to the Chef, a special thanks to the service staff for taking such good care and the lovely hospitality, and #TastesOfEurope, for giving us this opportunity to try out the food.  
Im for sure visiting the place again in future, for the food and the hospitality. 

Friday, 5 September 2014

Mango & Basil Panna Cotta with Fruit Salsa

Mango & Basil Pannacotta With Fruit Salsa

This recipe was made, when sitting at home and my eyes went on some mangoes kept on the table and some basil leaves kept in the fridge.
I told myself, lets make something interesting.

Ingredients - 
Mango – 2 no
Fresh cream –500 ml
Sugar – 100 gms
Basil Leaves – 30 gms
Gelatine Leaves – 3 nos
Mango Essence – few drops
Mint Leaves – 20 gms
Pineapple – 50 gms
Watermelon – 50 gms
Lemon Juice - 10 ml

Method - 
1. Cut the Pineapple, half Mango and Watermelon in the small cubes and keep in a bowl.
2. Finely chop the Mint leaves and add it to the fruits and mix along with lemon juice.
3. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for some time.
4. Cut the remaining mango into small cubes and mix with finely chopped basil.
5. In a sauce pan, pour the cream, sugar and mango mix and bring to a boil.
6. Once off the heat, put in the mango essence and give it a single stir.
7. Take the gelatine leaves out from the water, squeeze out the excess water and put it in the cream and mix well, making sure that the leaves are dissolved.
8. Pour the mixture into individual molds and keep it in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours.
9. Once set, remove it out on a plate and serve along with the fruit salsa.

Note :
1. If gelatine leaves are not available, powdered gelatine can be used instead.
2. For approx every 250 ml of liquid, 1 gelatine leaf is used.
3. While substituting the leaf for powder, for every 1 leaf, approx 5-6 gms of powdered gelatine can be added.
4. Remember to dissolve the powdered gelatine in warm water before using.

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