Monday 30 September 2013

Pumpkin Carrot Soup

'Know your Kolkata Food Bloggers' event has literally made us search each others blog in depth and check exciting recipes and lovely reads. This week, it is my pleasure to introduce a lovely and passionate person, Antara Ray. I met her very recently when we got together with other members for a restaurant review. 
She works for a consultancy firm and finds cooking and experimenting very interesting and joyous. Her blog Antypasti has some amazing recipes that are quick, simple and delicious. 

Frankly speaking, the first list I checked was her bakes and then the desserts. But I was determined to steer away from usual stuff I keep doing and find something that is simple and quick, though her Lazy tart kept calling me back. I decided on this very healthy soup called Creamy Pumpkin carrot soup. I loved the idea of using these two vegetables and turning them into a soup and made some basic changes. Vaanya, my daughter is a big fan of soups and this was definitely meant for her.
The soup was made in a jiffy and plated for the picture taking ritual. Vaanya eyed the soup and I had the most difficult time trying to keep her away from dunking the carrot flowers in the soup and wanting to have it. The pictures were hurriedly taken as I could no longer bear my 2 year old wanting her bowl of soup so badly. It brought me so much satisfaction to see her love the soup and have her fill. Thank you Antara for introducing such an easy and healthy soup to us. This will definitely become our family favourite. 

Ingredients : Serves 2 
  • 150 gms pumpkin, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium sized carrot, peeled and chopped(save a little peeled carrot to make the flowers by making 4 'V' shaped incisions equally)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 medium sized onion, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • a little cream for garnishing

Procedure :
Take olive oil in a deep pan/kadai and add garlic and onions. Let them cook till onions turn pink in colour. Add the diced carrots and pumpkin and season with salt and black pepper. Cook them for 4-5 mins on low heat. Turn off the heat and allow to cool.
Transfer to a blender and blend to a smooth paste. 
Heat the pan again and pour the paste in it through a sieve. Add some water to make the soup reach a  consistency to your liking. 
Serve warm with some cream and carrot flowers.

My daughter enjoying her healthy soup

Happy healthy Soup drinking

Thursday 26 September 2013

Tres leches Cake-the Indian way


Daring Baker's challenge for this month was hosted by Inma from la Galletika who challenged us with a very popular Central and South American cake called Tres Leches (pronounced tres ley-chays) A Tres leches cake is a basic sponge cake soaked in three kinds of milk- evaporated milkcondensed milk, and heavy cream/milk. It is a very light cake with air bubbles which comes from the beating of egg whites. This cake has no butter/oil and rises without the use of baking powder. This distinct texture is why it does not have a soggy consistency, despite being soaked in a mixture of three types of milk. Traditionally it is garnished with whipped cream and fresh fruits.
A Tres leces was on my list for a long time and I was really happy to see it as this month's challenge. The three milk concept sounded very Indian to me like the Rabri we use. I decided to make it myself and chose a fairly simple way to do so. I decided to opt the Indian way of garnishing it and did so with the use of edible silver sheets, chopped pista and rose petals, just as how we see it done on Indian sweets. The sponge cake was such a winner. The soaking part left me in doubts about the cake getting soggy but its surprising the way this cake holds it shape. 
The cake was declared a winner in terms of texture, taste and presentation by my family. A keeper recipe for sure and a must try for the coming festive season.

Ingredients : Serves 5-6. I halved the recipe and modified it

Sponge cake
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup sugar, powdered
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
Three milk syrup (Tres leches)
  • 5 cups milk, divided 2+2+1
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 small stick cinnamon
  • 1 tsp rum (optional)
For Garnish :
  • Edible Silver sheets/Silver Warq
  • Red rose petals
  • Chopped Pistachio


    Three milk syrup(Tres leches)-homemade
    Take milk in a thick bottomed pan and boil it. 
    Remove 1 cup and keep aside. This is the boiled milk.
    Let the remaining milk simmer on low heat for 20-25 mins till the quantity is reduced to half and water has evaporated from the milk. This is the evaporated milk.
    Remove half the quantity of this evaporated milk and keep aside.
    Add 2 tbsp sugar into the remaining milk and let it simmer for 10-15 mins till you see the colour changing to light brown. This is the condensed milk. 
    Now add the evaporated milk and boiled milk to the pan with cinnamon and let it simmer for 4-5 mins. 
    Allow to cool. Scoop out the cinnamon stick and add rum(optional)

    Sponge cake
    Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius. Grease and line a 6x6" square pan. 
    Take egg whites in a clean bowl and whip with an electrical beater for 3-5 mins till you get soft peaks. Now add sugar in batches and keep whipping till stiff peaks form(5 mins). 
    Take egg yolks in another clean bowl and whip for 5 mins till they are pale coloured. I used the same electrical beater. Stir in vanilla essence. 
    Pour egg yolks over the egg whites and very gently fold them in till just combined. Do not beat vigorously as that will remove all the air bubbles from the eggs.
    Fold in flour little by little in the form of rain and gently incorporate in the batter till just combined. 
    Pour batter in the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 mins or till a toothpick inserted in the middle come out clean.
    Allow the cake to cool.
    Poke all over the cake with a fork to make holes.
    Pour the prepared three milk syrup all over the cake. I put my cake back in the same pan and poured the syrup for the cake to absorb. Take care to pour on the sides too. 
    Refrigerate overnight (preferably) or for 2 hours. Do not worry the cake will not get soggy.
    Slice and serve.
    Traditionally garnished with a layer of whipped cream and fresh fruits, I did mine the Indian way and put a layer of edible silver sheet and sprinkled chopped pistachio and rose petals. 
    My Darling daughter at help

    Happy Tres leches cake eating

    Monday 23 September 2013


    Kronut is the newest entry in the world of confection. Created by Chef Dominique Ansel in New York city, this pastry has went viral with people literally lining up in front of the shop. Dominique Ansel Bakery is the only place that sells the Cronut, a specific product that is not to be confused with just any other croissant-doughnut hybrid. The Cronut brand and product is trademarked by Dominique Ansel Bakery both in the US and internationally. It took him 2 months and over 10 recipes to create this unique pastry which was introduced in May 2013. Made fresh everyday as it has a short shelf life, there is only one flavour every month.
    We at Baking Partner's were challenged to make this amazing pastry by the creator of this group Swathi. Needless to mention most of us were very intimidated with its 3 day long process. The doughnut dough needs to be made on day 1, butter incorporated into dough (as in croissants) on day 2 and finally fried on day 3. It took me the whole month to gather courage to start with it and the hot and humid weather of Kolkata made things more difficult for me. The lamination of butter into the dough is the most important step as it will give the pastry its layered look. For me, because of the weather, the butter kept leaking from the dough which in turn made it difficult to roll and fold. Nevertheless, I tried and got an amazing bunch of kronuts. They were chewy inside with a slight crunch outside. 
    This post is also for the monthy sweet entry in my 'Sweet day' list cherishing the ultra sweet presence of our daughter Vaanya.

    Recipe adapted from BootLeg cronut

    Ingredients : I reduced the recipe to 1/3 and used 3/4 of the dough to make 5 kronuts. I freezed the leftover 1/4 dough.
    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 1/3 tsp salt
    • 3 tbsp sugar, powdered
    • 3 tbsp milk
    • 3/4 tsp instant yeast
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 1 tbsp unsalted butter 
    • 1/4 cup + 3 tbsp unsalted butter, cold (for incorporating in the dough)
    • oil for frying
    • 1/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped
    • 1 tbsp cream  

    Day 1(start in the evening)
    Combine flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a bowl.
    Heat milk in the microwave for 30 seconds and add 1 tbsp butter. Mix till butter melts.
    Add milk to the flour mixture and mix.
    Add spoonfuls of the beaten egg till the mixture comes together. (Too much egg will make the dough very sticky and difficult to knead) 
    Knead for 10 minutes and form the dough into a ball.
    Keep in a well oiled bowl and turn to coat all sides.
    Cover the dough with a damp muslin cloth and allow
    to double in size for an hour and then refrigerate overnight.

    Day 2
    Take a piece of butter paper and mark 3" square. Cut the butter and place to fit on the marked area. Top with another piece of butter paper and pound the butter lightly with a rolling pin. Trim edges, if required. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

    Roll the overnight refrigerated dough on a lightly floured surface roughly to 5x8" rectangle. 

    Remove cold butter and place on the rolled dough.

    Turn the dough to face the length and fold the dough over the butter.

     Repeat with the other sides.

    1st turn  Lightly flour the top and bottom of dough and firmly roll to make it into a rectangle roughly 10X6"

     Fold the top 1/3  onto the dough.

      Now fold the bottom 1/3 over it.

    Cover dough with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
    Repeat this step 3 more times with an hour of refrigeration after each rolling and folding. 
    After the 4th turn, refrigerate the dough overnight wrapped in a plastic wrap.
    (If the butter leaks while rolling, put it in the freezer for 5 mins and roll again.)

    Day 3
    Roll the dough to 1/2" thickness and cut a 3" outer circle and a 1" inner circle. Remember to punch while the dough is cold.
    I made 5 such shapes and kept the leftover dough in the freezer. 

    Place them on a lined baking sheet and allow to rest for 30 minutes by covering with a damp muslin cloth to prevent drying up.

    Keep them in the fridge for an hour or in the freezer for 15 minutes before frying.
    Heat oil and fry one by one on low heat till they brown well. Drain on an absorbent paper and cool.

    You may toss them in cinnamon-sugar mixture (1:4) or dip in a chocolate glaze. 
    Take chopped chocolate in a micro-oven proof bowl and melt it at 15 seconds interval for a minute. Keep checking in between to prevent burning.
    Add 1 tbsp of hot cream and mix well. 
    Dip each Kronut in the glaze and leave to cool.
    Enjoyed best the same day as they have short shelf life. 

    Happy Kronut Eating

    Sunday 22 September 2013

    Daab Chingri/Prawns cooked in tender coconut

    We at Kolkata Food Blogger's have started a new event where we are introducing one blogger per week by choosing a recipe from their blog and recreating it. The idea germinated in my head seeing a number of guest posts on the blogosphere. This event has made us dig deep into each other's blog and thus know more about each other's food journey. 
    This week Jayati Saha is our featured blogger who blogs from Jayati and Tito's Food Journey
    Jayati is working as a senior project manager in a corporate house and finds cooking as mode of enjoyment and therapy. She started her blog on her son's insistence and assistance and now is hooked onto the enjoyment of creating and sharing recipes on her blog. This event was especially an eye opener for me into her amazing world of food. She cooks from her heart and loves to do so for her beautiful family. It was really hard for me to move away from her list of delectable sweets and bakes. I purposely tried choosing a recipe that is not really my style. The hunt in doing so made me witness scores of amazing, simple and easy everyday recipes. I zeroed on the Daab Chingri as it was on my 'must try' list for some time. 
    Daab chingri as the name suggests is an amazing Bengali dish where the prawns are cooked in a tender coconut using the water and the soft kernel of it. Otherwise a simple dish, the presentation quotient is sky high with it being served in a coconut shell. The sweetness of the tender coconut kernel and water used in the gravy lends this dish an amazing flavour. Served with hot boiled rice, this dish will win hearts instantly and earn many accolades. 

    Ingredients : For 2-3 servings
    • 1 tender young coconut with its water and pulp
    • Prawns (deveined and cleaned) 10-15 
    • 1 medium sized onion
    • 5-6 garlic pods
    • 1" piece ginger
    • 1 green chilly
    • 4-5 cashewnuts
    • 1 tbsp poppy seeds, soaked in some water
    • 1/2 tsp panchphoron
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • salt to taste
    • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
    • 3 tbsp mustard oil 

    Sprinkle salt and turmeric powder over prawns and keep aside for 1/2 hour.
    Cut the coconut from top and preserve it to be used as a lid. Cut little from bottom too so that the coconut can be made to stand.

    Vishal flaunting his knife skills
    Drain the coconut water and reserve. Scoop out the soft kernel and keep aside.

    Grind together onion, garlic, ginger, green chilly, poppy seeds and cashews to a fine paste and keep aside. 
    Heat mustard oil in a deep pan/kadai and let it reach its burning point. Switch off the heat and allow to cool. 
    Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200 degree Celsius.
    Heat oil again and add panchphoron. As it splutters, add the ground paste. Let it cook on medium heat till the paste leaves oil on its sides.
    Grind the coconut kernel that was obtained from the coconut and add to the pan.
    Add sugar and salt. 
    Add 1/2 of the coconut water and let it boil. 
    Gently lower the prawns and allow to cook for a minute. 
    (My gravy had gone too thin for my liking so I scooped the prawns and let the gravy thicken on high flame.)
    Transfer the prawns and the gravy into the coconut shell.

    Cover with the lid and seal with some atta dough.

    Put the sealed coconut in the preheated oven and cook for 15-20 mins.
    Alternately, you may cook in the pressure cooker by putting the sealed coconut shell in it and filling it with water reaching halfway. Close lid and cook for 3 whistles and then wait for the vapour to dissipate naturally.
    Scoop out the prawns and enjoy with a bowl of hot boiled rice.

    Happy Daab Chingri enjoying

    Thursday 19 September 2013

    Soft Pretzels

    Every month my diary gets enriched with some amazing new baking recipes. That is because I am part of some of the most wonderful baking groups. Its exciting and an enriching experience to learn new bakes and recreate them. The only downfall of being part of the challenges is trying to keep a pace with them and post them. Today's post is actually a part of my baking challenge which was meant for the month of August! 
    Pretzels was the choice of yeasted bake for 'We Knead to bake'. The choice was between the hard and the soft ones. Having never tasted pretzels, I assumed the soft ones would be better to attempt. In fact, that is what most of the members felt.   
    Pretzel, having originated from Europe, is a type of baked bread which has a traditional and unique knot-like shape called the 'pretzel loop'. They are often seasoned and flavoured with salts, sugars or various seeds/nuts.
    The shape of a Pretzel is though to resemble folded arms during prayers with the three holes in it representing the Holy Trinity.
    The pretzels are actually fairly simple to make and involve a unique process of boiling the proofed and shaped dough in baking soda bath before baking it. This step is supposed to give the pretzels a deep brown colour and a soft and chewy texture.
    Pretzels are served with a mustard based or cheese based dips or else enjoyed just as they are. I loved dunking them in my evening milky tea and enjoying them the Indian style!

    Ingredients: I halved the recipe to yield 6 pretzels

    • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp instant yeast
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 cup warm milk
    • 3 cup water
    • 1 tbsp baking soda
    • milk for brushing
    • white sesame seeds for sprinkling
    Procedure :
    In a bowl, take flour, salt and yeast. Add warm milk and mix till a soft dough forms. Knead for 10 mins to get a smooth and elastic dough. 
    (If using active dried yeast, dissolve it in the warm milk and sugar and allow to stand for 5-10 mins. Add it to flour and add salt and knead to form a smooth dough.) 
    Form the dough into a ball and place in a well oiled bowl, turning to coat all sides. Allow to double in size for around 1 hour
    Deflate and divide into 6 equal portions. 
    Roll each (while others are covered to prevent drying) 
    to around 18" long rope with tapered ends. 

    Cross the ends, one with the other.

     Twist the overlapped ends.

     Fold the ends over the circle and secure them by pinching well.

    Repeat the same for all the portions.
    Allow to rise for 10 mins.
    Meanwhile pour 3 cups of water with 1 tbsp baking soda in a pan and let it boil.
    Turn down the heat and let it simmer.
    Gently lower one pretzel and cook for 15 secs each side.

    Remove and place on a greased wire rack repeating the same for all.

    Preheat oven to 220 degree Celsius and place the pretzels on a greased and lined baking tray.
    Brush the pretzels with milk and sprinkle white sesame seeds on top.
    Bake for 10-12 mins or till they brown up well.

    Happy Soft Pretzel eating

    Sunday 15 September 2013

    The Oberoi Grand-Gourmet Indulgence

    The Gourmet Indulgence-A Food and Wine Fiesta, organized by Four Seasons Wine, saw us this time in the magnificent 'The Oberoi Grand Hotel', Calcutta with the ticket-to-ride on another, one of the finest, collaboration of the best of food and the best of wine in the offering.     
    Along with my blogger friend Sarani Tarfder, who blogs from Cocawind, we had an opportunity to demystify wine and food through an invitation from Ginger Claps at The Oberoi Grand Calcutta.
    Referred to as the 'Grande Dame of Chowringhee', The Oberoi Grand unequivocally represented the grandeur and the finesse of the finest food and wine dining experience.

    The menu, very carefully and immaculately planned to pair food and wine perfectly, was presented to us by a very courteous waiter. The choice between Vegetarian or Non-vegetarian and between a two or three course meal was made and Sarani and I collectively decided to try their Non Vegetarian three course lavish meal.
    The cost of their two course (exclusive of taxes) Veg is Rs 1200/- and Non Veg is Rs 1500/- while their three course (exclusive of taxes) Veg is Rs 1450/- and Non Veg is Rs 1750. Any chosen course comes with  two glasses of wine which has a glass of Four Season's Shiraz(Red Wine) and a glass of Four Season's Chenin Blanc (White Wine).
    Before I begin writing about my amazing gastronomical experience, let me share a word or two about the hospitality we received from their staff. Apart from being very courteous, the staff was also very well versed with the food that was being served to us and very promptly answered about our food related queries. We also got the opportunity to converse with Amandeep Singh, Manager Food and Beverages at the La Terrasse, which is their all day dining restaurant offering international as well as regional cuisine. As a mark of their sweet gesture, we were offered  smaller portion size of the starters which they split in two for Sarani and me. 

    Four Season's Chenin Blanc (White Wine) was served first to go with our round of starters. Immaculate care was taken to the finest detail for instance the wine was served in the glass which was frosted beforehand to ensure that the differential temperature is not effected while having the wine which is enjoyed best 8-10 degree.

    The first starter that came to our table was the humble and widely popular Caesar salad with a very modern and uber presentation. With a divided portion it had a perfect quantity for a starter. The crunchy and fresh shreds of the Iceberg lettuce were tossed with perfectly cubed croutons and the right amount of salad dressing so as not to make the salad soggy. The hero of the salad was the chunks of smoked chicken which was very soft, juicy and tender.

    The classic Shrimp Cocktail was served next to enhance our experience with the off-dry, slightly sweet Four Season's Chenin Blanc. Perfectly poached shrimps tossed with the thousand island dressing served with a slice of boiled egg and fresh salad was a very refreshing and light appetizer.

    Sadly the lovely and warm basket of buns were left unattended as Sarani and me got busy with our share of delectable starters with wine. Nevertheless, the gesture by The Oberoi Grand was highly appreciated.

    Sarani, my partner in Fine Dine
    Four Season's Shiraz (Red Wine) was served to go with our main course. Rich, full-bodied and dark ruby red in colour, Shiraz is a perfect accompaniment for grilled meat or vegetables.

    Sarani opted for the Grilled Tenderloin with fondant potatoes and béarnaise sauce which was served with blanched spinach leaves and cherry tomatoes. Grilled to perfection, it was enjoyed and polished off in no time.

    I opted for the Sage Chicken roast gravy served on a bed of sautéed poataoes along with broccoli florets and carrot sticks.
    I was served with two pieces of very tender, juicy and succulent chicken with a crisp skin which lacked a little bit of seasoning. I could only finish one piece of the delicious chicken as I purposely wanted some extra space for the next and my favourite course, desserts.

    Sarani and I opted for both the choices of Desserts in the set menu which was the Vanilla Crème brûlée and Tiramisu.

    The classic Vanilla Crème brûlée came with a rather big but very thin and crisp slice of Biscotti with pistachio. The vanilla custard was rich and very eggy for our liking but the hero of the dish was the very thin and crisp layer of caramel on top. The crackle of the caramel with every bite enhanced the beauty of the dish.

    Our Tiramisu was served in a crooked stem glass and had a very creamy layer of mascarpone cheese richly flavoured with coffee which was further enhanced with some coffee liqueur. I was a little disappointed with the amount of sponge fingers which was only a thin layer at the bottom. 

    The Gourmet Indulgence in The Oberoi Grand was true to its name and an experience we will cherish for a long time. We, as the members of Kolkata Food Bloggers thank Gingerclaps for extending the invitation, The Oberoi Grand for giving us a grand and warm experience and Four Season's wine for demystifying wine for us. 



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