Showing posts with label cooking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cooking. Show all posts

Sunday, 26 October 2014

One of the most divine pairing of ingredients has to be that of Chocolate & Banana. It gets more better when the chocolate is in the form of Nutella. There is no way a dish can go wrong with these two ingredients and it also becomes difficult to highlight who is the hero when they both are present. 

In the mood to get into some indulgence, I was scouring the internet for some yummylicious combination as I had plenty of time this Sunday afternoon. After several recipes, this recipe struck me as the best of the lot and knew that this was exactly what I needed to change the boring Sunday into an exciting one

Serves: 1 Loaf
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Oven time: 60 minutes
Resting time: 15 minutes

  • 2 cups of Maida/All Purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup Ripened Bananas - Mashed
  • 1/3 cup Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 3/4 cup Nutella
  1. Set the oven to pre-heat at 175 C.
  2. In a bowl, add the flour, baking soda and salt and whisk well to ensure they are mixed.
  3. In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter with a electric mixer at medium speed.
  4. Once it resembles a creamy consistency, add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.
  5. Now add the bananas, milk and vanilla to the large bowl and blend until all the ingredients are blended.
  6. Add the flour mixture slowly into the large bowl beating at slow speed until flour mixture is well incorporated.
  7. Heat the Nutella in a microwave for 15 seconds. Add 1 cup of the bread batter to the nutella and stir until blended.
  8. Butter the insides of bread loaf tin and then spoon the plain bread batter and the nutella batter alternatively.  
  9. Using a knife, gently swirl the layers to get add texture to the bread.
  10. Bake for 50 - 60 mins and then allow it too cool for a further 15 mins.
  11. Now remove the loaf from the pan and allow it cool completely.
Recipe adapted from Chef In Training

Monday, 31 March 2014

“Fish??? Please no Fish for me”. Thanks to the Chefs at The Leela Palace, Chennai and the Master Chefs from Japan, this statement will no longer have any validity in my food blogging sphere. 

Being a foodie can be quite a task especially if you are into not just eating but also reviewing. The most significant is the ability to be willing to taste all type of foods. This is a department where I’ve always not been able to keep up as there two things that I have to avoid while considering food elements, Pork and Fish. The first due to religious beliefs while the second mainly because of personal choice. I love seafood though and can eat non fish ingredients such as prawns, lobster, crabs, and scallops. Very rarely do I consume fish and it is predominantly in the Asian form of cuisine as it masks out the complete whiff of the fish. Otherwise, it is a complete no-no and has often made me miss out dishes which I know would have tasted fantastic.

I’m sure you must be wondering, why I am talking so much about fish here. Well, beat the irony, a person who absolutely avoids cooked fish gets invited for an International Sushi Training Workshop. Yes, to be honest I was freaking out by the mere thought of Sushi. But being an invitation from one of the most prestigious hotels in the city, I made up my mind to honour the invitation and challenged myself to take it in my stride and try out the Sushi. But yet once again, the mere thought of a raw fish going down my throat was giving me the shudders.

The fear turned to excitement and anticipation when I attended the press meet for the workshop. The moment the Master Chefs were introduced, I was determined that if I was to ever taste Sushi then it better be from the professionals. Chef Masayoshi Kazato & Chef Hirotoshi Ogawa are from the “All Japan Sushi Association-World Sushi Skills Institute” and were here to train professional chefs on the art of crafting Sushi. Yes you heard it right the first time, to teach professional chefs. This new found interest was furthered during my post-meet conversation with Chef Dharmen Makawana, Executive Chef & Chef Avinash Mohan, Executive Sous Chef at “The Leela Palace, Chennai”. Chef Dharmen revealed what I felt was the most practical approach for those who are trying Sushi for the first time. It is always better to start with cooked Sushi before moving to cured Sushi and then taking the plunge into Sashimi. 
(Chef Masayoshi Kazato)
(Chef Hirotoshi Ogawa)
(Chef Dharmen Makawana)
(Chef Avinash Mohan)
The litmus test was during the luncheon hosted for us on the next day. After having been well informed by the Chef’s the previous day, I was looking forward to my first Sushi. The first thing I noticed on entering “Spectra”, Leela’s all day dining restaurant was their Sushi Bar which was right at the entrance and the two Master Chef’s handling the counters. Although the smell of fish was all around but it was not of the way that would put one off. Moving to the Sushi counter, I was shocked to see Chef Kazato using the arm of one of his assistants as a chopping board. This he says is a sign of confidence and control any Sushi Chef must possess. The way he chopped the vegetables on the arm, the vegies came out cleanly chopped with even a slight impression on the arm. It was nerve wrecking to see that as the knives used are razor sharp. 
(Nervous looking Human Chopping Board)
(Relieved looking Human Chopping Board)
(Assorted Plate)
(Beautiful Fish Cuts)
Chef Dharmen was very courteous enough and helped me plate my dish with a range of Sushi & Sashimi as I couldn’t wait getting into the action. I had an assortment of Salmon, Scallop, Squid & Tuna Sashimi along with some cooked Prawn Sushi and a single serving of a vegetarian Sushi just for the heck of trying it. For the first time in my life, a fish seemed tempting to me. The moment I picked up some Soy sauce along with Wasabi, I was all set to take the first Sushi bite. Everything around me became still for a second when the first Salmon Sashimi entered my mouth. I was shocked and surprised at how delicate and flavoured it was. My immediate reaction was, “How could I have committed such a grave mistake being a foodie?” Why did it take me so long to realize how amazing they tasted?
(My Plate)
One by one the other Sushi’s & Sashimi’s were being emptied of my plate with each providing a very unique flavour profile. My favourites of the afternoon were the Salmon Sashimi, Scallops Sashimi & the Cooked Prawn Sushi. Once I had the vegetarian sushi, I realized how there can never be a vegetarian sushi as it doesn’t do any justice to the authentic Sushi. One way I feel it was a blessing in disguise that I waited so long to venture into this unknown territory as now I’ve got the feel of what real and authentic Sushi is straight from the hands of world renowned Sushi Master Chefs. 
(Baked Yogurt)
As I wanted to relish the flavours of the Sushi, I just had a few dishes from their regular lunch buffet spread promising myself to return again soon to do full justice to their exhaustive lunch buffet. From the dishes I tried that afternoon, I loved their Hummus, Baba Ghanoush and the Pita. Their hummus is probably the only truly replicated hummus available in Chennai. How can a meal be complete without a dessert and to do justice I had a portion of the Baked Yoghurt with cracked French Macaroons on it. On our way back after the meal I bumped into Chef Dharmen & Chef Avinash who were very courteous in listening to my experience of Sushi and were glad to find out it was a memorable one. We ended up chatting for quite some time on various topics pertaining to food and the general restaurant scenario in Chennai. The Chefs were very down to earth and were open to giving culinary tips without any hesitation. The conversations really enlightened me on different aspects of food preparation, storage and cooking.

This amazing experience and training workshop was organized by The Indian Federation of Culinary Associations & JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) along with The Leela Palace Hotel, Chennai.
(The Team behind organizing the Workshop)
Whenever you feel the need for Sushi, hold no bar, head straight up to Spectra, the all-day dining restaurant at The Leela Palace Hotel, Chennai for a mind blowing experience.

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Thursday, 14 November 2013

For those of us who lived in the Europe, the concept of Pub food would bring in vivid memories of our experiences there. Personally for me, some of the great food memories of my time in the UK are characterized by the food that used to be part of our weekend feast. Often then ever, it evidently ends up in something that is available only in the Pubs. But be assured that food in British Pubs are one of the best pub foods you will ever get to savour.

Having been away from the pub food scene for quite a few years now, was uber excited when I came to know that Courtyard by Marriott was organizing a Pub Fest. When I was told that it is no ordinary pub food but instead a celebration of British Pub Food, I was determined to visit. The visit happened soon and was I not disappointed. The dishes were so authentic that it took me back to my old days in the British Land.
Upon taking our seats, we were met by Chef Sridhar, the Executive Chef at the Courtyard by Marriott. Having a great amount of culinary experience in the Europe, Chef Sridhar came about the pub food concept to showcase the same to the people of Chennai. My expectations were quite high especially on dishes like Chips and Pies. The first dish that was served to us was the 'Vegetable Burger with Hand Cut Chips'. The other vegetable loving friend savoured the burger while I was busy savouring the chips. They were one of the finest chips I've had especially being triple cooked. The advantage of being triple cooked is that the flavours are all preserved while the chips is still crunchy and wholesome. This was followed by the 'Vegetable Lasagna' accompanied with some Garlic Bread. I gave a miss to this dish as I was eagerly awaiting the dishes to follow.
(Vegetable Burger with Hand Cut Chips)
(Vegetable Lasagna with Garlic Bread)
Next up was one of my all time favourite pub food, the Cottage Pie. We were served a dual dish on a single platter with a sizeable portion of 'Cottage Pie and Mashed Potato' and 'Lamb Liver in an Onion Gravy'. The first mouthful of Cottage pie threw me instantly tumbling down the memory lane. It felt like I was dining in some restaurant in the UK. The blend of flavours and consistency were much much better than some of the best pubs there too. They meat was succulent and was filled with flavours and the mash topped it all. Being aversive to Offals, I generously donated my share of the liver to another friend of mine. But I did have a go at the gravy and the veggies. The gravy was again packed with flavours but my only regret was not being able to have the meat. The vegetarian version of the pie was a 'Onion, Cheese & Potato Pie'. Having tasted the Cottage Pie, I was in no mood to split the after taste and hence gave the veg pie a skip. Having thoroughly enjoyed the hand cut chips, we requested the chef if we can have another serving which was obliged in a grandiose manner. This was again a clean sweep.
(Cottage Pie & Lamb Liver)
(Onion, Cheese & Potato Pie)
(Hand Cut Chips)
(Hand Cut Chips)
With the mains done, the desserts were slowly reaching our table to our awe and wonder. The desserts arrived in style and by style, I mean real style. They were so creatively plated that we couldn't resist tasting all of them. The first dessert of the day was the 'Apple Crumble Pie'. This was a de-constructed version of the traditional apple pie. It resembled a lot like an apple muffin. This was followed by the a very unique yet weird named dish called 'Spotted Dick'. Yes that's why I mentioned weird. But trust me, this was the best dish of the evening. It is quite complicated to describe but imagine a dish that is a combination of a cupcake, muffin and a scone. This served with some thick custard made one helluva dessert. The next up was the 'Treacle Tart' topped with a cone shaped tuile. The last dessert and dish of the evening was a 'Chocolate Pudding' which was thick and chocolaty with some generous shaving of nuts. 
(Apple Crumble Pie)
(Spotted Dick with Custard)
(Treacle Tart)
(Chocolate Pudding)
Overall I had an amazing time tasting some of the traditional British Pub food that has been recreated true to the sense of the original ones. The British Pub Fest at Courtyard by Marriott is on till the end of November and is priced at ₹ 800 plus tax for Beer, Mains & Dessert.

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Friday, 13 September 2013

The most favoured dish amongst the North Indian cuisine for me is the Butter Chicken/Paneer Masala. Incidentally this is also one of the first gravy dishes that I began my cooking with. Being in UK during my student times, cooking it always made me feel close to home. Some weeks ago I received few packets of home made masala's for different dishes from "Zaiqa - The Spice Store". One amongst them was for Butter Chicken Masala. The aroma of the masala made me cook up my favourite curry once again. And this time, it's here for you to try too.

Serves: 3-4

  • 1/2 kg boneless Chicken pieces
  • 4 Tomatoes (boiled & pureed) or 1 cup Tomato puree
  • 4 medium Onions finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Ginger-Garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp Zaiqa Butter Chicken Masala for marination
  • 3-4 tbsp Zaiqa Butter Chicken Masala for gravy
  • 1 tsp Fenugreek leaves
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 3-4 tbsp of Cream
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • Salt to taste
(Zaiqa Masala's)
  1. Marinate the chicken pieces with 2 tbsp of Zaiqa masala and required amount of salt. Allow to rest for 1-2 hours refrigerated. (You can substitute Zaiqa masala with regular fry masala)
  2. Heat the oil and butter in a deep cooking pot.
  3. Add the finely chopped onions and sauté till the onions turn slightly brownish. 
  4. Now add the ginger-garlic paste and mix well.
  5. Add the marinated chicken and allow it to cook in the mixture on a low flame. This should take about 7-10 minutes.
  6. Next add the tomato puree and close the lid for about 5-7 minutes. Once the puree is cooked, add the Zaiqa masala, fenugreek leaves, milk and cream. Allow it to simmer till the mixture thickens. (You can substitute Zaiqa masala with some Garam Masala and Methi leaves)
  7. Remove from the stove and garnish with some more cream and butter.

Best served with Butter Naan, Roti and Fried Ghee Rice.
(Ready to be served)

  • Vegetarians can substitute Paneer for Chicken. If using Paneer, mix them with the masala and shallow fry them before adding to the mixture.
  • If you want a very rich creamy gravy, add more cream.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

With the dawn of the New Year, came the 1st Showcase of the Chennai Food Guide for the year 2013. Having become a phenomenon in the social media networks, Pizza Republic finally wanted to open up their offerings to the demanding bloggers of CFG. Pizza Republic opened its first outlet in Tharamani next to Ascenda IT Park. Following the tremendous success, new outlets have opened up in the last few months at Mogappair and Egmore with further outlets planned in the coming months in Besant Nagar, Nungambakkam, Ambattur, St. Thomas Mount and so on.
Having already been at the Tharamani outlets many a time and experiencing Mr. Ramakrishnan's innovations with Pizza, I immediately jumped on the bandwagon the moment I was informed that Pizza Republic Mogappair was organizing a Showcase. True to his style, Ramki (As he his fondly called) trumped us once again with his wonderful innovations on what all a simple pizza can be converted to.
As the pizza's at Pizza Republic are exceptionally yummier compared to other outlets in Chennai, I would today not be writing about their food but instead give you a culinary tour as to what all can be made in the name of Pizza's. My earlier blog on Pizza Republic can be found at
Well here begins the amazing photolog from the CFG Showcase at Pizza Republic - Mogappair.

A simple pizza rather pizza base/flat bread sans any cheese delicately seasoned with Olive Oil and Ramki's selection of herbs.
(Cheese-less Pizza)
(Cheese-less Pizza)
What, a Pizza without Cheese??? Yes you read it right!!! A regular Pizza with amazing toppings minus any cheese. Did taste yummy though but would definitely prefer pizza's with cheese. What good is a Pizza without cheese. As well not have one.

(Pesto with Shallots Pizza)
A thin crust pizza having shallots and an amazing spread of Pesto sauce.
(Pesto Pizza Puff)

(Cheesy Pizza Puff)
(Cheesy Pizza Puff)

(Array of Pizza Puffs)
Another one of Ramki's on the spot innovation. "Pizza Puffs". They were just mind boggling. The moment the photographers completed their mindful duty of clicking, the puffs disappeared in a jiffy.
(Calzone Deconstructed)
Another innovation from Ramki, the Pizza Republic "Calzone". Personally feel that it would have tasted even better if it was a tad more cheesy...
(White Chocolate Cake - Priya NM)

(White Chocolate Cake - Priya NM)
A surprise cake from fellow CFG member Ms. Priya NM. An yummy White Chocolate Cake. Nishanth of CFG formally cut the cake to begin 2013 with a bang.

(Achar Pizza)
(Achar Pizza)
Presenting a typical Indian style Pizza, The Achar Pizza. Never felt like I was eating a Pizza instead was more like having Chappathi/Parotta with Achar.
(Veg Pizza with Extra Cheese)
A fully loaded Cheeeessssyyyy Pizza.
(Pizza??? Cheese??? Frog Legs???)

(Multigrain Crust)
 The perfect Multi-grain Crust.
(My Order of the day)

(Again the Tandoori Chicken Pizza with Multigrain Crust)
 This was my order for the day. A Multi-grain Pizza with Tandoori Chicken, Olives, Corn and Garlic. This was probably one of the best combinations I've ever made at Pizza Republic. Lest I forget, Inspite of the pizza getting cold, thanks to the photo session, I was still able to stretch the pizza up to an approximate height of 3ft.
(That's the Pizza Stretch in progress - Pic Courtesy: Chinna)
That's me attempting a try at the longest pizza stretch record. As the pizza had cooled down, managed only close to 3 ft where as the existing record is at 4ft plus. I guess I still hold the record at least at the Mogappair outlet.
(A spicy Pizza with extra Jalapeno's)
 If my order was the best I'd done so far, this Pizza was by far the hottest I'd ever tasted. A Spicy pizza with extra Jalapeno's. It would be a fiery challenge for anyone to finish this stuff up without hunting for a lake...
(Pineapple/Hawaii Pizza)

Having heard a lot about Hawaiin Pizza, thought today would be a good time to taste the same. Personally used to wonder how can people ever have pineapple on a pizza. But to my dismay, it did taste nice. Gave a whole new dimension to the taste buds.

(Sliced up Dizza)
Although taken from one of my earlier visits to Pizza Republic - Tharamani, thought it would make sense having yet another of Ramki's innovation in this photolog. As you can see, Ramki cooked up the Italian version of our very own Dosa. Aptly named Dizza, this one is guaranteed to blow your mind off. This is available only when Ramki is present in the Kitchen and when you order ensure you ask for loads of cheese.
(Puttu Maavu Pizza)
This too is from an earlier visit while we were exploring the possibilities of having a gluten-free pizza. And impromptu came the idea from Ramki to try using Puttu Maavu to make the dough and voila. This Simple Puttu Maavu pizza with Tomatoes and Cheese were damn crispy and delicious.

And finally, a first time attempt at making a gif animation. This is a classic example of how tasty and cheesy pizza's from Pizza Republic can get. I can vouch that every slice of your pizza is gonna be yumm!!!. Any guesses as to who was my model. Folks from CFG, any guesses???
So what more are you waiting for. Head straight to your nearest Pizza Republic to experience the Republic Fantasy.
Pizza Republic outlets are locates in Tharamani, Mogappair and Egmore. You can get more details on their location by visiting
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