Festive Hot Chocolate Vodka Martini with chilli

A girl needs a good Martini at times and I like mine with Vodka rather than the classic gin, although there are times I would be found sipping on a Gin based Martini too. My recipe for Festive Hot Chocolate Vodka Martini with chilli,  is sure to be an instant hit at your cocktail parties and your friends and family are going to beg for more so stock up on the ingredients and learn to shake that cocktail with some style aka Tom cruise from the flick Cocktail!

 

3-IMG_9223 (Copy)

 

House of Fraser sent me a very elegant set of 4 Pied e Terre Martini glasses  with REAL GOLD spiral detailing ,yes you heard that right , for review , so a Chocolate Martini was in order.I do have a large bottle of Smirnoff Vodka Martini but this Martini recipe had to be special and befitting these rather special martini glasses.

Hubby was equally excited to contribute towards this fab Martini evening I planned for a lazy Sunday with some friends, so when I sent him out to buy Vanilla flavoured Vodka he came back with a beautiful bottle of M&S ”HOT” Chocolate Vodka with chocolate flavouring and a hint of chilli for warmth – Perfect!

It’s often by such happy coincidences that something really fabulous can be conjured. I have been using rather sparingly the Baileys Chocolate Luxe Limited Edition Creamy Irish liqueur which I purchased at the Chocolate Festival in April this year.And just like an opportunity to experiment with the liqueur has presented itself – aha!

So folks before I share the recipe for my Festive Hot Chocolate Vodka Martini with chilli  served in the Pied e Terre Martini glasses with REAL GOLD sprial detailing, let me bestow upon you – my unsuspecting readers my newfound knowledge about chocolate liqueurs acquired after spending  a few hours browsing the net and harassing several people including a very sweet gentleman who makes a living mixing drinks.This will ensure that you do not endure the angst that poor hubster and I experienced, as we searched high and low for Crème de cacao before realising that a creamy chocolate liqueur can be used instead and gives a creamy consistency to the martini which the Crème de cacao does not. Crème de cacao was not to be found on supermarket shelves and believe you me, we went into most of the big ones, they are available to buy online though – but that for me amounts to hassle and a longer wait than just grabbing whats on the shelves ,right ?

Since Crème de cacao can be replaced by the chocolate liqueur and I had the Baileys Chocolate Luxe Limited Edition Creamy Irish liqueur , I was quite relieved. Or else I would have had to either order the Crème de cacao online or spend ££ on Godiva’s Chocolate liqueur which does sound so very sinfully delicious ummm

A bit about the Pied e Terre Martini glasses  with REAL GOLD spiral detailing – these sophisticated glasses are available to buy from House of Fraser and are rather reasonably priced at £30 for a set of 4, they surely make for a fabulous gift idea for the festive season or any special anniversary or birthday or simply to spoil a martini lover.

 

1-IMG_9203 (Copy)

 

Festive Hot Chocolate  Vodka Martini with chilli recipe

Makes: 2 cocktails

Ingredients: 

  • 75 ml ( 1 peg measure of 60 ml +  1 /2 of a small peg measure of 30ml  ) OR 2 and 1/2 ounces of  Baileys Chocolate Irish Cream Liqueur
  • 2 peg measure which is 120ml  OR 4 ounces  of M&S ”HOT” Chocolate Vodka with chocolate flavouring and a hint of chilli
  • Powdered Lindt Chilli chocolate for rimming
  • Shavings of Lindt Chilli chocolate for garnishing
  • Ice
  • Cocktail shaker

1 ounce = 29.5 ml approx half a peg . 1 peg = 60 ml

Method:

  • Wash , wipe dry the Martini glasses and place them face down on a kitchen roll with the powdered Lindt Chilli chocolate to line the rim of the glass.
  • Place these lined rim glasses to chill in the freezer.

 

2-IMG_9216 (Copy)

  • Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with the ice cubes.
  • Shake vigorously.
  • Strain into chilled martini glasses lined with Hershey’s chocolate syrup
  • Garnish with Shavings of Lindt Chilli chocolate to get the extra chilli kick going

Enjoy with friends and family for a fabulous festive feast guaranteed to satisfy ANY chocolatey cravings !

1-IMG_9219 (Copy)

 

*With thanks to House of Fraser for a complimentary set of 4 Pied e Terre Martini glasses  with REAL GOLD spiral detailing. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. As always all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

*Recipe inspiration from Cocktail expert Colleen Graham’s recipe ( http://cocktails.about.com/od/cocktailrecipes/r/choclt_mrtni.htm) and  Murrye Bernard’s recipe ( http://cocktails.lovetoknow.com/Baileys_Chocolate_Martini_Recipe) .

Radha Krishna Bhavan – Tooting , a review

On a dreary Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago after my weekly Indian shop form Dadu’s at Tooting, not feeling particularly in the mood to cook , we walked into Radha Krishna Bhavan for an early lunch . The place was open and barring one table we could pick and choose where to sit , unusual for a Saturday afternoon , little did I know that minutes later the place would be buzzing with activity.

 

1-2014-08-16 12.54.53 (Copy)

 

This is a sea food lovers heaven with authentic ,well balanced south Indian cuisine. We ordered a starter of spicy Vadas – flat, fried lentil dough spiced with green chillies and onion , this was crunchy and delicious and just the thing needed on a boring Saturday afternoon when the weather was playing traunt ! (£2.95)

 

2-2014-08-16 12.56.48 (Copy)

 

6-2014-08-16 13.09.31 (Copy)

 

The first thing I noticed was the many sticker on the glass outside with various ratings from the Good Food Guide, Square Meal etc  and a bright yellow mini menu saying ”3 courses for just £5.95′ ! Super ! That definitely drew us in.

 

1-2014-08-16 13.21.16 (Copy)

 

But we decided to go a la Carte and ordered for some Kerala Fried Rice (£4.50)and Kerala Fish curry (£7.50) .The fish curry was yum but the portion size was a bit small to share , same with the rice and we found the rice had more than a generous use of oil but it was delicious all the same.

 

2-2014-08-16 13.21.41 (Copy)

 

Hungry for more we decided to experiment with some Vellappam – a pancake made of fermented rice with ground coconut and coconut milk with a  lacy egg like appearance . These were light yet  filling and 2 panckakes per dish came with the curry at a combined price (£7.95 ) .The pancakes were mopped up with the accompanying  curry –  a spicy King Fish Malabar.

 

3-2014-08-16 13.50.44 (Copy)

 

With no room left for dessert after this we decided to skip and just get ice lollies on our way home 😉

 

5-2014-08-16 13.07.56 (Copy)

 

I’d definitely recommend you visit Radha Krishna Bhavan if you are looking for delicious and authentic  flavours of South India at budget rates in a clean , welcoming atmosphere with quick service head (opposite Sainsburys on Tooting High Street)

 

3-2014-08-16 12.57.11 (Copy)

 

*This review was written by me of my own accord . I bore the expense of this meal. All views  expressed as always are my own and no monetary compensation of any sort by provided to me by either the restaurant or any other third party.All opinions expressed are valid for this particular visit .

Uni brings Nikkei Cuisine to Victoria

The largest Japanese settlement outside of Japan is in Peru and the unique fusion cuisine that is Japanese Peruvian is called Nikkei.Fiona invited me to accompany this time to discover Nikkei , she is an award-winning freelance writer and marketing consultant who currently writes about travel and London lifestyle for a number of publications and runs her own London lifestyle blog called London Unattached.

So it was a bright summer Monday afternoon that I trooped in Uni (the Japanese word for the sea urchin, a Japanese delicacy) restaurant and sushi bar designed by Andrew Martin, in Belgravia minutes away from the travel hub that is Victoria station.

2-IMG_7779 (Copy)

I was shown to a cosy table downstairs.

3-IMG_7780 (Copy)

5-IMG_7785 (Copy)

For starters I got some steamed edamame with a spicy chilli and garlic sauce (£4.50) and some refreshing green tea served in a typical cast iron heavy pot which I would love to have as part of my growing food prop collection which now occupies every corner or of our tiny rental flat much to the chagrin of my hubby – I guess the last straw was trying to pass off a very heavy cast iron pot as a ‘place to keep his usb drives and wire hehehee

4-IMG_7783 (Copy)

2-IMG_7794 (Copy)

I had happily managed to forget my phone at home and therefore Fiona tried in vain to inform me of her delayed train. Blissfully unaware of this I sipped my tea and munched my edamame all the time trying to ignore some stuffy banker type folks on the table next to me talking shop – how boring…

So when Fiona arrived she managed to move us to a bigger table away from the ‘big boy talk’ as she aptly called it and onto a table where I could dump my bags and lay my camera lens and other paraphernalia – I do not travel light …

To make life easier we chose to have bento boxes for our mains and mine came with the udon noodle and fish cake soup while Fiona had a light Miso soup. I was feeling ravenous by the time the soup arrived and devoured it in a flash! (£24.5 per bento box – comes with soups, salad, sushi, & maki, main dish, side, rice and dessert)

7-IMG_7789 (Copy)

Nabe Udon  – Noodle and Fishcake Soup with Prawn Tempura.

1-IMG_7792 (Copy)

Beautifully light Miso Soup

My Bento box had Kaiso Wakame  – seaweed salad ,prawn and carrot tempura, main of duck tataki – seared duck breast finely sliced and dressed with mirin and soy, fried rice and sashimi selection. The duck tataki was deliciously morish, I also loved the seaweed salad and the sticky fried rice with the sashimi was very filling.

3-IMG_7796 (Copy)

Fionas bento box came with steamed rice and anticucho sauce  black cod and was very appetising , to read in her own words read her review of our lunch at Uni here.

5-IMG_7799 (Copy)

We washed down our Bento lunch boxes with some chilled sake.

6-IMG_7788 (Copy)

The very polite manager came and urged us to experiment with some of the Nikkei range from the menu and we were served two stunning dishes.

Tiraditos of Yellowtail with kizami wasabi,Yuzu and fresh mint presented in a creative and stunning display, it was delightfully fresh, sharp in taste with a delicate balance of colour and flavour. (£15.5)

1-IMG_7813 (Copy)

Wildly beautiful looking salmon tartare tacos with cucumber,tomato,masago and creamy miso were crunchy and melt in your mouth creamy all at one once exploding with a light flavour in every bite – delicious! (£6)

1-IMG_7809 (Copy)

Stuffed to the gills now I had to walk around click a few pictures and allow for some space to be created in my tummy to fit in some dessert 😉

To my amusement the very attentive young lady on the staff showed us how the colourful lamp shade were made from bottle of campari that could be detached and well glugged , given it was a hot summer afternoon I think it was a great idea that Fiona ordered us some Pisco Sour shots instead ;).Never having tasted these before I downed them in one go much to my own peril, the sake already in my system the shot gave me quite the buzz!

7-IMG_7811 (Copy)

 

4-IMG_7798 (Copy)

Thankfully my cooling Matcha Gelato worked wonders and cooled me down several degrees -phew!

2-IMG_7816 (Copy)

Fiona managed to stay light with desserts too with a selection of fresh fruit.

3-IMG_7819 (Copy)

The creation of former Nobu chef Rolando Ongcoy, the menu at UNI offers a good selection of grilled meats ,fish, sushi,sashimi, selection of tempura and maki. The Peruvian influence is prevalent throughout UNI’s menu, ceviche and tiraditos peruano included.

The bar area upstairs also has plenty of seating on high stools and around the bar, perfect for knocking down Peruvian fav’s like the pisco sours or coconut-based Chilli Mojito.

4-IMG_7821 (Copy)

Victoria being a very office space kind of area is lucky to have Uni in its midst now, with bite sized healthier meal options ,seven- dish bento boxes for short lunch hours are on offer at a price of course. So the big banker boys and girls can have their financial pow-wow meets in the fancy cubicles or basement vaults if you please which can seat about 10 – 12 people, and if the huge ice buckets with bottles of chilled Moet and the power talk we overheard from the table next to us are anything to go by then Uni is already a haunt for these suited and well heeled office folks!

5-IMG_7830 (Copy)

  • Website:Uni
  • Opening Times: is open for lunch and dinner, Monday to Saturday inclusive

*With  thanks to Uni for the invitation. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review . All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Uni on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Dinner at The Brasserie , Tower Guoman – a review

On the day of the Mens Singles Final when Djokovic won  the match against Roger Federer ,I had an invite to go dine with a few fellow bloggers at The Brasserie at the Tower Guoman. I must admit the match was so engaging that I was glued to the tv and only in the game that I was just to nervous to watch so I dragged myself out and kept pestering a dear friend of mine in whatsapp till she gave me updates of almost every move on the court …. I was hoping that Djokovic would win and also hoping that the match would end before I hopped onto the tube and lost network… Lets just say that all invisible divine forces were with Djokovic ( and me )that day coupled with his awesome performance, just as I was about to get into the tube… there it was..,… message I was hoping to see on whatsapp…. ‘He won’… which led to a very comical impromptu gig on the staircase by me watched by bemused passers by…heck a good win deserves a dance ..at least ! Bonus points to all those who also watched this match to oogle at Boris Becker …teehee

After that I needed a refreshing drink and just as I was settling in the beautiful area  just outside the Guoman, an open air bar  and siping my cocktail gazing up the Tower Bridge was perfect. Chilled Prosecco, Cocktails and Mocktails flowed while we chatted up with the manager who also had dinner with us later .Meeting my friends after Food Blogger Connect was fun and camera lens choices, food photography ,the Wimbledon final results and the stunning view dominated our conversation. Before long the rain decided to play spoil sport and we were ushered inside to our huge table at The Brasserie.

I took the seat the far end of the end but the view from any where inside is just as brilliant , it’s the first time I was so close to the Tower Bridge and you can be guaranteed you will have the best seats in town at The Brasserie with superb views of Butlers wharf thrown in.

2-IMG_7746 (Copy)

The table was neatly laid out with our special menu for the evening there and fresh bread , warm and just out of the oven with 3 different dips arrived.

1-IMG_7744 (Copy)

7-IMG_7752 (Copy)

Our rustic bread selection with truffle oil and olive oil.

3-IMG_7748 (Copy)

To go with our Rustic Bread selection we had the smoked paprika dip – the bright orange one and my fav of the 3, one with chives in the middle and a plain one which I found a tad too salty.

4-IMG_7749 (Copy)

I choose to have the Grilled Vegetable and Goat Cheese Tart to start off my meal with – it sounded very appetising – Tomato olive salsa,balsamic reduction,pine nut,sekura cress – hummm yes please.

2-IMG_7757 (Copy)

The thin crisp  pastry base was not one bit soggy or eggy, the grilled Manchego cheese ( a cheese made in the La Mancha region of Spain from the milk of sheep of the manchega breed) tasted great in combination with summery veggies like asparagus and grilled peppers and the salsa was very good ,I loved the taste of the olives and hints of fennel, the cress made the whole dish so fresh not just to look at but to taste too.

The Head chef Kamaldeep Singh (left) and his colleague decided to take us through the process of how the new menu was created , the origin of ingredients and basically make us hungry for more!

1-IMG_7756 (Copy)

Madeleine seated next to me choose the other option as her first course :Peppercorn Cured Beef Carpaccio – Manchego cheese , home cured tomatoes,charred artichokes,mizuna and micro cress. I was avoiding red meat that so was very happy to photograph her dish and ask how it tasted but equally satisfied with my light tart.

8-IMG_7754 (Copy)

The carpaccio was hammered thin and artichokes placed over – it looked great, to find out in her Madeleine’s own words what she thought of her dish go check out  her review here.Very happy with my first course, I expected the second course to deliver and impress me a bit more. Must say my Pan-Fried Fillet of Sea Bass served with diver scallop,caper crushed potatoes,mixed bean salsa and ‘sauce vierge’  did not fail to do so. It looked amazing and I had to photograph it from various angles – we food bloggers!

5-IMG_7762 (Copy)

But  this was simply delicious and worthy of praise for more reasons than one – made using farmed sea bass responsibly sourced scallops, a lighter than most sauces that usually accompany a fish main the scallop sat one a delicious pea puree and cream base.

4-IMG_7760 (Copy)

The mixed bean salsa tasted great with the morish caper crushed potato, the cress balancing off the dish in a subtle way.Nayna my vegetarian food blogger friend chose to have the Spinach and Ricotta Raviolli made with heirloom tomato salsa and served with freshly made basil cream sauce , to read her views go onto her blog here.Our first wine of the evening accompanied the first course , Vidal sauvignon blanc from New Zealand , aromas of gooseberry, passionfruit and guava lead into a palate that exudes tropical and passion fruit flavours.

3-IMG_7759 (Copy)

After that very satisfying sea food dish ,we moved onto the next course , I stayed away from red meat again and the Garden pea,mint and pecorino cheese risotto was fabulous for me , I love my rice and many a times I really need some to complete my meal and make it me feel full, maybe a psychological thing but coming from the coastal side of western India ,fish curry and rice is our most staple everyday far.One of the staff members asked me where I was from and when I said Mumbai, pat came the next question which I was sort of expecting – was the sea bass as good as the Pomfret, well no! For me pomfret is the king of  all fishes on this planet – but its a matter of what taste one has grown up with and our method of cooking is also so very different. But yes Sea Bass , Salmon and Basa are my favorite buys,best eaten fresh on the day of purchase ,hate frozen fish,tastes muddy and weird in curries especially.

1-IMG_7771 (Copy)

The  pecorino cheese added a subtle tangy taste to this very morish and filling risotto, its easy to get this dish so wrong because often the seemingly easier to make dishes are the toughest to produce to perfection . I am a great fan of the risotto that my elder sister hubby makes , he is a trained chef but now a very busy and senior marketing head honcho so it’s very rarely that we meet and even more rarely that I get to eat the risotto he makes. Ah sweet nostalgic family moments, only truly good food can bring on such an attack for me.. 🙂

By now the light had really faded and my risotto photo and all that follow look terrible!

I must admit Madeleine was very kind and allowed me to have a taste of burnt celeriac which I loved with some of the calvados sauce I scooped it off her plate with from her Confit of Gloucestershire Pork Belly. She enjoyed  my cheesy risotto too.

3-IMG_7767 (Copy)

The 14 hour low heat cooked pork belly looked so very appetising, the burnt celeriac adding to the earthiness of this dish,the cinnamon compliments the pork  and the savoy cabbage and compressed apple give it a tart almost tangy twist on the side. This was washed down with several glasses of a full bodied Chilean Merlot – Errazuriz , almost opulent with notes of berry and cassis fruit.

6-IMG_7763 (Copy)

It’s at this point that I slipped into blissful food coma and saw this beautiful rainbow emerge right in front of my eyes… the photo does no justice to the what we actually saw…

4-IMG_7775 (Copy)

That is us at the table – L- R – Bintu who blogs at Recipes from a pantry, Nicki who blogs at Baking Beardy,seated opposite her is Fiona who writes an award-winning blog – London Unattached,Nayna – who blogs at  Simply Sensational Food her other blog is Citrus ,Spice and all things Nice, and the lovely Madeline who blogs at Kitchen Journeys and documents heart healthy recipes at From the Healthy Heart.

1-IMG_7745 (Copy)

Was too full by now and the dessert platter served with a large shot of margarita in shot glass lined by sugar , managed to cut the sweet taste that was bound to settle on the palate after cheesecake ,a panna cotta that failed to impress because I was expecting the usual wobble and a refreshing pista flavoured ice cream  – my fav from the selection.

As we strolled out for an impromptu photo session and gazed happily at the beautiful Tower Bridge,I couldn’t help but wonder that though the exterior of  the Tower Guoman leaves one wanting the view of two world Heritage Sites – Tower Bridge and the Tower of London certainly makes up for it!A massive refurbishment project is on the cards too.A few more plus points include a convenient location within easy reach of the financial district, Canary Wharf, the Excel Centre, London City Airport, historic Greenwich, the West End and Westfield Shopping Centre. Also the newly launched menu at The Brasserie definitely warrants a visit. The menu is bold and one where the chefs have really gone the extra mile to hope that if they try ambitiously to achieve the Zero Mile Ingredient mark and grow their own herbs fresh on the terrace garden which is to come alive very soon!

The staff was very polite, genuinely attentive and ensured we had a great evening.

*With  thanks to The Tower Guoman for the invitation. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review . All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

The Brasserie at the Tower Hotel on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Zingy Turkish Poached Eggs with Total Greek Yogurt

I am a fan of eggs in any form and when I chanced upon this delightful Turkish recipe for combining eggs with thick and fulfilling greek yogurt I just had to go ahead and experiment! Total Greek Yogurt 0% is fat free, gluten free and suitable for vegetarians and pregnant women – all good , no nasties! Besides these virtues its consistency is great and I have in the past few days consumed one of the smaller pots per day part in smoothies and just a dollop with my rice and curry dinner. There are so many versatile combinations that are possible with this yogurt. From smoothies and shakes to use in cooking as a marinade or cooling dip with chopped goodies like fresh chives,garlic,chilli flakes etc.The thick and creamy consistency is a bonus if you’re trying to watch your weight too !

I made these poached eggs for brunch and served them with wholemeal pitta toasted in the same pan where I made my chilli butter – fabulous!

Traditionally this dish is called Çılbır (pronounced as chillburrr, roll the r’s!) is a Turkish dish of poached eggs with yogurt (often with garlic mixed in).There are records of çılbır being eaten by Ottoman sultans as far back as the 15th century. It is now common to serve the dish topped with melted butter infused with Aleppo pepper, for which paprika can be substituted. (Source:Wiki)

 

1-IMG_6791 (Copy)

Serves :2

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs – 2 per person
  • a handful of fresh mint roughly chopped
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped fine
  • 500gm Total Greek Yogurt 0%
  • Butter 50gm
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • Plenty of freshly cracked black pepper
  • Sea Salt as per taste
  • a pinch of chilli powder – as per your tolerance levels

Method:

  • Boil water in a large sauce pan(my time saving trick -boil water in the kettle and add to saucepan), then cover with lid and boil on medium flame for some more time.
  • When water is absolutely boiling remove the lid and reduce the flame to a very low simmer and carefully crack the eggs into the water one by one. They sort of seems to freeze frame inside the boiling water. Give them about 30 seconds and when it seems like they have been poached carefully remove them one by one using a slotted spoon. If you suspect that the yolk will just burst open it means it needs some more time inside. Don’t worry if this process isn’t perfect the first time around , its a learning curve and you will get it right in a few tries – in case of disaster scoop out as much of the egg as you can and after you are done with all the eggs use a sieve to save the remaining egg:)
  • In2  bowls or plates scoop out the yogurt and divide equally – season with sea salt and a generous sprinkling of cracked black pepper and a pinch of chilli powder.
  • Create a bit of shallow space in the middle of the yogurt mix and place the poached eggs on top.
  • On a non stick pan melt some butter and before it starts to brown add the finely chopped garlic and  smoked paprika.
  • Then add some sea salt .
  • Quickly pour this delicious golden spiced goodness the butter has become over the eggs and yogurt.
  • Sprinkle some freshly mint leaves roughly chopped over this.
  • Toast the mini wholemeal pitta breads in the same pan that was used to melt and spice the butter and it will give your pitta a kick of flavour!
  • Scoop the flavoured poached egg and the cooling yogurt with the pitta bread. It’s a beautiful sensation as the cold yogurt and smoked paprika work their magic on your taste buds.

1-IMG_6774 (Copy)

Disclaimer: With many thanks to Total Uk  for the generous amount of samples ,goody box and vouchers sent  to me to test and review.I was not required to write a positive review and was not compensated monetarily for this post.Like all my previous posts about events and reviews, ALL opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

1-IMG_6766 (Copy)

Zomato London – Food Bloggers Meet at Gaylords

Last wednesday I was invited by Zomato,London to join a bunch of other food blogger who are also on the board of Zomato reviewers to Gaylords in Central London. Going by the weather that day I was not very sure I would reach my destination without being blown away first. At times like this I have a decided advantage over my featherweight foodie friends, after all it would a rather strong gust of wind to blow me off my feet 😉

Luckily I made it to the venue alive and without getting drenched! A warm greeting later –  from the ever so thoughtful staff at Gaylord’s who continued to really pamper us all through the evening – it was time for some welcome drink  – a fizzy pink- Passion Bellini and an optional Virgin Tamarind Mohito for those abstaining from alcohol.

1-2014-02-12 18.51.14 (Copy)

For starters we were served – Tandoori Tiger Prawns – succulent and smoked on the tandoor very juicy, Lamb Shammi kebabs – minced lamb patties with a minty yogurt dip -lipsmackin delicious,Murg Malai Tikka – Tandoor roasted mild chicken tikkas – honestly not my fav but heck nothing to complain about either , Amritsari Macchi – very delicious tilapia fillets fried in a gram flour batter seasoned with paprika and carom seeds – one word EXCELLENT!,Tandoori paneer tikka- huge chunks of cottage cheese – chargrilled with onions and peppers in a saffron flavoured marinade,Murg Gilafi Sheekh- minced chicken,smoked ,topped with bell peppers & chargrilled on skewers – all these served with 3 different types of Indian Bread – plain naan, garlic naan and mini onion kulcha.

1-Zomato Bloggers Meet - 12th Feb'14 Wed at Gaylords1

To my absolute delight  we were then served some very authentic in taste Indian street food snacks in a posh and innovative way.

These pani puri or gol gappa shots were utterly glorious and made me wish I was standing outside Elco at Bandra in Mumbai eating their ice cold pani puri .If you ever visit Mumbai then this is the place to go to for the BEST pani puri in town!I loved how they were served in these shot glasses.Boiled chick peas and tiny cubes of boiled potato are stuffed into the tiny puffed savoury puri and a sweet date and jaggery thick sauce is poured into it followed up with a green liquid which is a coriander ,mint and spice mix chutney and this has to be gobbled in one go ! They explode in your mouth enveloping your senses with an unforgettable sensation of taste,spices and aroma leaving your taste buds playing the guessing game.Sigh…double sigh…

2-2014-02-12 19.08.34 (Copy)

Next up – Bhel – or puffed rice spiced with chaat masala,chopped red onion tomato and a sprinkling of yellow sev or fried gram flour savoury and topped off with tamarind chutney and a green mint coriander chutney – bursting with flavour these were !Aloo Papri Chaat – spicy bite sized boiled potatoes in spices mixed with sev and served on a crunchy flat puri base.

1-Zomato Bloggers Meet - 12th Feb'14 Wed at Gaylords2

5 main courses with 5 accompaniments were to follow – by this point I was not very sure I would make it past the front door after this meal. But lucky for us the glasses magically seemed to top up each time and the conversation ,easy banter and laughter flowed almost as smoothly as the wine – leaving no room to ponder over such minor ,seemingly frivolous details or worry about the last tube back home – perfect.

Main Course favourites for me were the creamy coconut flavoured Prawn Curry which I polished off my plate with some Zaafraan Basmati – fluffy long grain basmati rice with saffron and the Chana Peshawari – chick peas cooked in their secret spice mix eaten with a steaming hot bhatura which a massive puri puffed and let me warn you has to be handled with care as it is very very hot. Now all I need to do is figure out a way to get the Gaylords chef to let me in on this secret spice mix – which I am quite sure they will never let go of , and why not , after hasn’t Coca Cola for years led us to believe that their secret ingredient is the one that has generations hooked onto their cola?Sadly, even so Coca Cola is no comparison for this Chana dish – honestly!But guarding the secret spice mix with their lives folks is serious business – after all heads have rolled and hands of artisans chopped off in medieval times to guard secrets of cuisine and architectural wonders alike! ( In her delightful and brilliant book ”Shark’s fin and Sichuan Pepper” author  Fuchsia Dunlop has described how many generations of chefs took brilliant recipes to their grave for various reasons and am sure everyone has heard the myth about one of the 7 wonders of the world – the magnificent and many splendored Taj Mahal in Agra , India – that Emperor Shah Jahan got the hands of his sculptors and architect cut off after they built the Taj Mahal which was dedicated to Mumtaz Mahal – wife of Shah Jahan. It is said he did this so that they would never again be able to build anything quite as splendid as the Taj Mahal!)

5-2014-02-12 21.29.26 (Copy)

The mains also included Butter Chicken – an indulgent and creamy sauce with Tandoori Chicken strips- ummm,Lamb Chops Anardana or Chargrilled Lamp chops in a ginger infused spicy mix with pomegranate seeds,Lamb Rogan Ghosh – tender lamb cubes cooked in a fiery garlic ,tomato and onion masala and of course Palak Paneer – a spinach and cottage cheese combo that would get even Popeye’s nod of approval! All this accompanied by Dal Bukhara – a traditional lentil dish from the northern most state in India – Kashmir served with an assortment of Indian breads puffy and hot off the charcoal oven – mind blowing – advance warning – best eaten by rolling up your sleeves and breaking large chunks of the naan with your hands scooping a shameless quantity of dal from your plate and shovelling into your mouth as if no one is watching – believe NO one is – when surrounded by food so good , what else can one focus on I ask ?!An innocent looking raita or yogurt flavoured with cooling cucumber and pomegranate helps do the balancing act of heat,spice and grease.

1-Zomato Bloggers Meet - 12th Feb'14 Wed at Gaylords3

Now I was supremely satiated and stuffed to the point I could explode but no self respecting foodie can resist a good gulab jamun and if that is flambeed with spiced dark rum , even the best defences shall crumble !To wash away any signs of guilt or gluttony we were served by this charming gentleman a 5 grape south african Red – a fine smooth wine ,delicious and fabulously lush – evidence of a good red I was informed is in the residue left behind in the wine glass – humm I learn new things every day 🙂

1-2014-02-12 22.25.08 (Copy)

Zomato Bloggers Meet - 12th Feb'14 Wed at Gaylords4

This beautiful cocktail is called Saffrontini – a signature mix of saffron gin,cointreau,lime cordial and tonic.

1-2014-02-12 22.18.21 (Copy)

As if this indulgence was not enough we were served with Malai Kulfi – an sweet frozen dessert that cements the most difficult deal and makes the grumpiest of humans grin – smothered in pistachios and cardamom it is definitely what can be described as an Indian Ice cream!

2-2014-02-12 22.13.09 (Copy)

It was great to meet some familiar faces @Le__binh  and @LeyLaLaa , infact I had a blast of an evening chatting up a wonderful bunch of Londoners. Loved meeting new faces – @AnomalousLondon ,@wildscribe ,@inher30s ,@LadylovesCake ,@sshaikh .

Now that I think about it , @Gaylord_London  was packed to the gills with hungry guests and the same team that fussed over our table,ensured our wine glasses never ran dry and explained how their chefs had expertly combined  the various complex and glorious Indian spices and used them to create the spectacular special menu for the evening , the other guests seemed equally pampered ,happy and errr happily tipsy to say the least ! How do you do it folks ?!Keep it up! I think this is great ”Hospitality AND Food Karma” and this is very important to me when I dine out – and I suspect is the case with any discerning diner, foodie or not ! Especially since am so far away from Indian and given my regular cravings for authentic tasting Indian cuisine I am always on the hunt for the next best Indian dining experience. I would hate to have that spoilt by a grumpy staff , high handed attitude, over priced sub-standard food or a menu which is considered fusion food but is basically authentic Indian food murdered by some nutjob who thinks they have created a masterpiece – beware of such places I’d say!All I ask for is a fabulous service and one great course after another  dished out in perfect rhythm and harmony  – just splendid food  with a smile really.

Lucky for me Gaylords is short journey from home – Lajawab !

Zomato London and Gaylords – you spoilt us – royally! Many thanks to both parties and Of Course would rather shamelessly like to admit that am very eagerly looking forward to more foodie meets, great food and good company! Cheers!

Mushroom Omelette with French Cheese Fromagerie Lincet Chaource

Egg Omelettes are my ultimate delicious start for the day and on weekends if we wake early to have breakfast I like to do a huge omelette with salad ,toast and steaming hot cuppas of Masala Chai. Heaven !

My current favourite addition into a lot of salads,soups and omelettes are chestnut mushrooms so when I was sent the French Cheese Chaource produced by family-owned French dairy Fromagerie Lincet, I decided to make my own recipe for a fluffy, stuffed and thick cheesy egg omelette.

Family-owned French dairy Fromagerie Lincet has been producing cheeses typical of the Champagne and Burgundy regions for five generations. Rich,soft and creamy, the dairy’s Chaource AOP is great in omelettes ,risottos and tarts.Similar in texture to Brie and Camembert, Chaource AOP is creamier, richer and slightly acidic. With no artificial colours or flavours and 100% natural ingredients, it also benefits from PDO status.

Lincet is committed to its founding principles ‘flavour, natural ingredients and tradition, brought together to make good food’; using all-natural ingredients, traditional cheese-making methods  and milk from local farms.Lincet has upheld the tradition of ladle-moulding since its opening and the dairy’s cheese curdling technique is the oldest known for making cheese.Longer than usual (12 hours +), this is what gives Lincet cheeses a melting texture and distinctive slightly acidic, flavour

image002

2-IMG_6505 (Copy)

Serves :2 Prep Time:5 minutes Cooking Time :5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium sized eggs
  • 1 small red onion finely chopped
  • 3-4 cherry tomatoes halved
  • 2-3 chestnut mushrooms chopped into bite size bits
  • Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes – if you don’t want heat avoid completely
  • Freshly CRacked Black Pepper
  • A generous portion of Chaource Cheese
  • Some fresh coriander chopped fine to garnish
  • a blog of butter for the pan(2 tsp)

3-IMG_6507 (Copy)

1-IMG_6508 (Copy)

Method:

  • In a large bowl crack the eggs and add the chopped red onion,mushrooms,cherry tomatoes and chopped coriander and whisk well with a fork.
  • Then season with salt ,red chilli flakes (if you don’t want heat avoid completely) and pepper and whisk again with a fork.
  • Now add the cheese and mix thoroughly and whisk again to get the air circulating and make this omelette really fluffy and thick.
  • On a pan on medium heat melt about 2 tsp of butter and pour the egg and cheese mixture.
  • Cook for about 2-3 on one side and loosen edges with a spatula.
  • To watch the cheese bubble while it cooks is such a delight!

2-IMG_6513 (Copy)

  • Then with a light hand loosen the omlette with the spatula ensuring it isn’t stuck to the pan or it will break while tossing over.
  • Flip over and cook on the other side for under 2 minutes to get a beautiful light brown golden delicious colour.

4-IMG_6515 (Copy)

  • Serve hot with fresh cherry tomatoes or iceberg lettuce and warm toast and lots of Earl Grey,English Breakfast or my new fav Chamomile tea 🙂

03-IMG_6519 (Copy)

What I like about the Fromagerie Lincent Chaource is the goeey soft ,rich taste with woody undertones, it definitely gave a depth of flavour to my omelette and am now going to use the remaining in a risotto for a weeknight dinner.

It is available at:

  • Waitrose, Top Tier Chaource AOP Hugerot 250g, £4.49 Waitrose
  •  Tesco Finest Chaource 250g, £3.00 Tesco
  •  TTD Chaource AOP 250g, £3.30 Sainsbury’s

07-IMG_6523 (Copy)

Disclaimer: I was sent a sample of  Fromagerie Lincent Chaource to test in my kitchen and was not required to write a positive review and was not compensated monetarily for this post.Like all my previous posts about events and reviews, ALL opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

2-IMG_6528 (Copy)

2nd Feb'14 Omlette with Cheese Sample

Chicken and Red Lentil Stew – a complete ONE POT meal (Suran & Red Lentil Stew)

There are times when I really want a hearty meal but don’t have the energy to stand and cook an elaborate meal. Its a times like that I turn to One pot meals, served with a warm baguette it is a filling , healthy and easy and quick to meal option which NO compromise on taste whatsoever! Moreover its home made , has flavour and is a satisfying experience to make .

I had been meaning to try and cook a stew using red lentils (masoor – Marathi for red lentil )for some time , they are my most favourite lentils and I am ALWAYS stocked up on a large 2 kilo pack of dried red lentils split and without skin , from my local Indian grocery shop at Tooting called Dadu’s. Also since all the other fresh ingredients were procured from my local LIDL this dish is GREAT value for money too! Am totally in love with the FRESH fruits and vegetable selection at LIDL right now.I bought some bright red long crunchy sweet peppers, a pack of medium hot chillies, fresh chicken breast fillets, a very cute packet of garlic, mixed pack of cauliflower and broccoli florets and a packet of gorgeous looking Shallots.( I have always wondered why the lentils are called RED when clearly they are a  lovely light orange colour !)

I love inventing a recipe as I go along and when I got my vegetable tray out on Sunday morning I had all these lovely vegetables staring at me and I just threw in what I thought would taste good together and VOILA ! A Steaming hot , thick, wholesome and tasty chicken and red lentil broth was born.

I love having some baby potatoes in stock and they are always handy in a stew , besides being quite the self proclaimed ”queen of curries” I always am well stocked on Indian spices so bay leaves and cinnamon sticks aplenty in my kitchen larder – oh yes

Please don’t feel put off by the ingredient list , trust me they marry well together in the taste department and the end result is well worth your time and effort!

The biggest bonus of this stew recipe is that you can create your OWN vegetarian version by replacing the chicken with Quorn or if you don’t for some reason like or have never tried or have no access to Quorn then try replacing the chicken fillets with  Suran/Elephant Foot Yam, it can be chopped into big chunks and it takes up flavours very easily. But with the yam the cooking time drastically will reduce as it can go from just right and chewy to soft, goeey or totally disappear into the stew ! My aai (mum) always used suran as a meat replacement and marinated it well in the spices we would use for chicken or lamb and made a thick gravy dish with it, when I was younger she has managed to fool me many times over thinking it was mutton 🙂 – Aai I miss you and all the food you cook – sigh…. no India trip in sight anytime soon 😦

(Dangerous though it looks the elephant foot yam is very very tasty! )

suran

Cross Section:

surancut

Above 2 Images Credit here

4-IMG_6502 (Copy)

Serves:4  Preparation Time: 10 minutes  Cooking time:35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Red Lentils / Massor Dal -3/4th cup
  • Chicken breast mini fillets – 750gm / Comparable Quorn fillets
  • 5-6 baby potatoes
  • 6 shallots approx 200gm
  • 2 large sweet and crunchy pointed Red Peppers – approx 200gm
  • 2 short medium hot chillies
  • 2-3 bay leaves dry
  • red chilli flakes as per taste
  • sea slat as per taste
  • 1 veg stock pot
  • 3 dried red kashmir chillies
  • 1 large roll of cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • handful of Broccoli and Cauliflower florets
  • 2 large tbsp of tomato puree or half of a large tomato finely chopped
  • Red chilli powder
  • Sugar 2 tsp

Method:

  • Wash and soak the red lentil in water to soften them so they cook more quickly then get on with all the other chopping and cutting prep’s.
  • Chop the shallots lengthwise.
  • In a large stew pot or huge saucepan heat the oil and add the bay leaves,cinnamon stick and dry red kashmiri chillies which I have a very big packet of and am trying to finish , they only add colour and no heat so if you don’t have these you can totally leave them out – no harm done here.
  • Now add red chilli powder and sugar and just when the sugar starts to caramelise add the shallots and shallow fry them till they reduce and begin to turn a lovely brown colour.
  • Now add the 2 large tbsp’s  of tomato puree or half of a large tomato finely chopped and stir till it mixes well with the shallots.
  • Add the roughly chopped long red peppers and baby potatoes and saute’ for 2 minutes.
  • Add the washed chicken fillets/suran (elephant yam), soaked red lentils with the water it was soaked in.
  • Add the washed and roughly chopped Broccoli and Cauliflower florets and now add enough water.
  • I did not measure the water I added but add enough to get a nice thick stew , while the ingredients are cooking together on a low flame ,feel free to top up with more water as the lentils easily soak up as much water as you feed it with. Having said that you don’t want to end up with a watery stew so don’t add more than 3/4th cup at one go.
  • Season with sea salt , I love MALDON SEA SALT which I use and I have a few packets ALWAYS stashed away, great n salads it is!
  • Then sprinkle red chilli flakes and gently place a veg stock cube on top on this lovely pot of goodness bubbling away. I prefer the KNORR veg stock cubes , they have a great bouquet of flavour and are very handy at times when am exhausted and need to quickly cook up something tasty!
  • Stir well, cover with a lid and cook on a medium flame.
  • The red lentil will froth as they cook not to worry simply stir now and then and mix well, don’t allow the stew to get too thick we want enough lovely gravy to slurp this stew and dip the baguette into!

1-IMG_6495 (Copy)

I was so hungry that I didn’t click any photos of my lovely fresh ingredients but it was a brilliantly sunny day yesterday and after this wholesome stew for lunch we had to really force ourselves to go and get some much needed fresh air at Morden Hall Park – I happily left my smartphone behind so photos to share but suffice to say that it was a gorgeous walk through the huge grounds and we saw many happy families ,happy couples and cute old folks and even happier kids and dogs romping around in the muddy park  fun! And because we were so good we treated ourselves to hot tea and a sandwich at a local Turkish Cafe 😉 hehehe

Am very happy and proud of this new original recipe creation from my experimental kitchen. Next time I make this stew I will smoke the sweet and crunchy long red peppers and peel off the skin , to add a deep smoky flavour to the stew and not have the skin floating around – double whammy I say 🙂

1-1st Feb'14 Chicken & Red Lentil Stew1

Am linking this recipe to Made with Love Mondays hosted by Mark at his wonderful  blog called  CookinwLuv

Made with Love Mondays Resized Badge

Chai Concentrate

Its been a very hectic year and I was really looking forward to a festive break. In the run up to Christmas I was gifted some really tempting edible gifts. I then took to Pintrest to find something that called out to me and ask me to make go make it ! I found a beautiful photograph of Chai Concentrate here . It was an easy to prepare recipe and so I started to get all the ingredients together and wasn’t able to get my hands on orange pekoe tea bags so I decided to make a few modifications of my own.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups water
  • 5 English breakfast tea – tea bags
  • 5 mulled wine spice  bags
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 9 cardamom pods split open and the seeds powdered
  • 8 coriander seeds or 1/4th tbsp of ground coriander powder
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 1 vanilla bean sliced in half
  • 1.5 tbsp orange zest
  • 1 inch piece of ginger,skinned n cut into thin strips
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns

IMG_6242 (Copy)

Method:

  • In a large sauce pan bring the water to boil and reduce the heat to a minimum
  • Add the spices, tea bags,orange zest and ginger and cover with lid and let it simmer for 25 minutes.
  • After 25 minutes take the saucepan off the flame and let it stand for 10 -15 minutes.
  • Then add the honey and stir it in along with all the beautiful spices which have steeped in well into the mixture.
  • Let this cool completely , the  strain the chai concentrate through a large sieve lined with a fresh cheesecloth. The spices are to be discarded.
  • Add the strained chai concentrate into clean glass bottles.
  • Decorate the glass bottles with pretty tape and add a small name tag with a bit of coil.
  • This mixture stays for 2 weeks in the fridge and can be had as hot winter drink with 1/3rd parts concentrate and top it off with hot milk, it also is good with a glass of cold milk and ice with a dollop of honey stirred in!
  • I loved the idea that the chai concentrate can be added into cookie dough for an extra zing – I am going to try that soon!

After making this gift I feel so good inside that I have taken an extra effort to actually create something unique, I think am going to make a habit out it and make delicious little treats for birthdays and anniversaries too! 

IMG_6274 (Copy)

Spicy Grilled Chicken Bites With a Cooling Avocado Dip

With an obvious change in the weather, we all are living in fear that this year’s glorious summer is coming to an end. I was lucky enough to get a few invites to barbecue parties in the past few months and had my share of some really divine meats and grills and some rather lumpy or burnt bits too!!!

Lucky because I live in a tiny rented flat with a small open plan kitchen. I try all sorts of tricks to fool myself into thinking that I am cooking in the fresh open outdoors. One of my favourite tricks to fool myself and get some tasty tidbits on my plate is by using a grid pan and earthy spices with smoked sea salt, delicious dips and of course washing these down with chilled beer.

Since I always seem to have some basic purees and pastes frozen and hiding in some corner of my tiny freezer I try and use them up quickly to ensure I always have place for some frozen desserts. One such favourite spicy green paste is made with one medium sized bunch of fresh coriander and 2 bright green chillies. Coriander is expensive and a regular feature in my kitchen so I try and freeze it after chopping it fine or better still making this paste and just adding large spoons to curries which gives them an instant face lift!

For a spicy twist on grilled chicken I decided to make these easy to pick and pop in the mouth pieces of chunky chicken making it a more fun way to share your food on the table. I love that it’s easy to just throw things on the pan and even the dip is a no fuss 3 step recipe which is a brilliant companion to the heat of the chillies on the chicken. The fact that the dip has zero oil is a big bonus.

You can make the coriander paste and store it in the freezer and even with the dip recycle it as a quick spread on sandwiches and use up any leftover meats the next day for a packed lunch. So convenient, especially on a Monday morning after a lazy weekend!

Placing the chicken on chunky cabbage leaves smeared with some mustard paste is another inexpensive alternative to posh salad leaves and helps finish of the last of that quarter portion of cabbage which lies neglected in your veggie tray and faces the threat of going into the bin soggy and spoilt, not a pleasant thought at all.

Guaranteed to tickle your taste buds this original recipe from my tiny kitchen is a food adventure in itself. Here’s how you can make this quick grilled chicken in easy steps:

Spicy grilled chicken bites with cooling avocado dip

(Serves: 4, Cooking Time: including 40 mins for marination is 1 hour):

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 4 large tbsp coriander and green chilli paste (proportion of 1 bunch of coriander with 2 green chillies)
  • Himalayan Pink Salt for seasoning
  • 2 tbsp refined oil
  • 1 tsp mustard paste
  • 4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • ½ tsp red chilli flakes
  • 4-5 leaves of fresh cabbage washed
  • ¼ medium sized red onion cut lengthwise
  • Toothpicks with little flags

For the dip

  • 2 avocados
  • 1 stalk fennel with few leaves
  • ½ medium sized red onion finely chopped
  • Himalayan pink salt for seasoning

Method:

Marinate the chicken breasts with coriander and green chilli paste, salt as per taste and 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic. Make small cuts on the chicken breasts with a knife and rub in the marinade. Add one tbsp oil to this mixture allowing the garlic to marry with the coriander and chilli paste. Marinate for 40 minutes

Cutting the chicken into thick cut style bites

On a grid pan spritz enough oil to coat the pan. Pan fry the breasts turning the sides over when they begin to change colour. When both sides appear to have changed colour remove the chicken breasts on a chopping board and let them cool for a while.

Meanwhile, smear the cabbage leaves with a small amount of mustard paste and place on a wooden board which will be used to serve the dish.

Now prepare the dip – Halve the avocados and scoop out the fleshy part. Take the thin green stalk and tender leaves of the fennel and put them together through a blender to make a coarse paste. Chop ½ a red onion fine and to the avocado and fennel paste, season some Himalayan salt. The dip is now ready.

Pan Grill red onion ,garlic and red chilli flakes close up shot

Now get back to cooking the chicken. In the same grid pan add a 1 ½ tbsp oil with some red onion cut lengthwise and sauté for a while for a caramelise finish. Now cut the pieces of the chicken into “thick cut home-made potato-chip” like sizes and place them on the grid pan along with the onions.

Chicken on pan being grilled with the spices

Sprinkle the red chilli flakes .Cook on low flame till done and flip over using tongs, a bit of charring is allowed to add more flavour. Place the chicken strips with toothpicks on the fresh cabbage leaves in a flat plate.

The chunky avocado and red onion dip will offset the grilled chicken bites.

close up with all elements of display

Serve with garlic bread on the side and some chilled drinks and soak up all the sun you can before the leaves turn auburn.

chicken on a toothpick with dip close up

 

This was my first post for the Great British Chefs community and can be found here