London’s Hottest Food Trends with Loyd Grossman

Excited to know that I would be introduced to Londons Hottest food trends at an ”Evening of flavour” I made my way to the Underground Cookery School –   @cookinglesson . I love going to events hosted at this venue and I seem to have developed a great comfort level with the warm staff who always make our evenings special.

 

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The mention of Loyd Grossman sauces – @LoydFood #GetFlavour- brings to mind their telly ad showing  the man himself as a young boy keen savouring food seasoned with sauces made by him and that always comes back to when I see the bottles on supermarket shelves, as it did when I saw a huge table full of various jars and sachets of  their cooking sauces .

Cru Coffee aka Cru Kafe –   @crukafe , helped set the mood for the evening with their rather nice looking coffee based cocktails and many of the bloggers even tried their hand at mixing some of the cocktails , but I was already under the grips of a massive hay fever attack around that time and steered clear of the cocktail counter, although I must admit it took all of me to not steal a sip or two off my friends glass – darned Hayfever …. few months of sunshine with an opportunity to drink cold beer and eat plenty of ice cream and this mad Hayfever keeps me away from all of it …

Predicting food trends is probably as or even more difficult than predicting who stocks will rise or fall in the stock market ,but The Food People @thefoodpeople  – seem to have it all figured out and they shared some of their research with us foodies that evening.Their research also takes into consideration what the twitterati and food bloggers talk about,and is an indication of the future of food blogging in a way me thinks..

A staggering 37000 food outlets cater to London’s hungry tummies alone, which is quite a number,one that makes one wonder what tricks one would need to have up their sleeves in order to survive and stand out from the crowd?! So what exactly are the Hottest Food Trends that will dominate  London city ,and rule the cities taste buds?

The folks at The Food People shared  :

  • Burgers ,fries and all things American are here to stay including the rather fantastic cronut! ( Cronuts,Duffins and now Crodough – what WILL people come up with next ?!) (I had a huge craving for sinking my teeth into a juicy burger with smoky crispy bacon yesterday and I did just that by cajoling my colleagues – they didn’t need much coaxing really ,  to go to our fav high street burger haunt – I guess that says a lot about how trends affect our choices huh? )
  • The magic of Mediterranean cuisine is not going to fade anytime soon, so lovers of Greek and Lebanese food – rejoice!
  • Mash – ups ( think ”Ramen burgers” (!!) and ”Nacho lasagne” ) are hot right now too, classic meets new age mantra in a savoury war with gastronomically pleasing results – who can complain?

Top Trending styles are :

  • Small plate or tapas style dining with loads of opportunity to sample various dishes and have sharing platters doing the rounds. I can safely say I like the sound of this trend the most.( I spent yesterday evening at an authentic Spanish tapas bar and I can easily say that it is something I enjoyed thoroughly and my opinion is no way skewed by nature of having consumed over 6 glasses of the most delicious Sangria I’ve ever had!)
  • Meaty, smoky, spicy and moorish – no not the only BBQ  food just plain and simple ”Dude Food” has charmed not just the dudes !

The flavour trending  in 2014 is CHILLI – whether fiery or  sweet, Chilli that is the STAR of the trend wagon! Now that one made me smile! ( I love using chillies in my cooking, think it has to do with how we prepare and relish our food back in India ,where chilli powder has a place of prominence in our beautiful round spice boxes which are a must in every Indian kitchen. So enamoured am I that even though I have very less space in my kicthen the size of a postage stamp , I still went ahead and  purchased 2 small potted chilli plants one with bright yellow chillies and one with with deep aubergine coloured ones to keep on my kitchen window sill. They taste so good, promise to have them feature in my recipe posts soon! )

Future Trending cuisines are going to be Persian ( fresh,light and plenty of choice for vegetarians! ) , Israeli ( Lucky me I have an autographed copy of Ottolenghi’s book ,thanks to FBC this year!) and Greek ( Not the heavy ,oily stuff that been churned out but the beautiful,authentic flavours that feel like summer on your plate!)

 

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John Quilter also known as the ‘Food Busker’ – @JohnQuilter – then went on to cook some brilliant fusion food for us using Loyd Grossman cooking sauces , all the while entertaining us and telling us how he has added his own imaginative touch to all the dishes based on the food trends.This fusion of food and format came onto our plates as :

Lobster Thermidor with juicy ,buttery lobster in a cheesy pot with a small amount of samphire for that salty taste of the sea.

Korean Fried Chicken topped in a thin ,drippy batter infused with vodka which lends a fabulously crisp quality to the coating ,so unlike thick bulky batters that we see otherwise.These were topped with ribbons of crunchy spring onion which were dipped in ice cold water to give it a sharp crispy edge.These vanished off the plates as they were passed around , I lost count of how many wings I gobbled that evening 😉

 

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We also had Sashimi, Iberico Schnitzel and oxtail sliders. All finished by a show stopping Panacotta with just the right wobble beautiful vanilla specks all over with a side of peaches smothered in amaretto and a crumbly sprinkling of buttery crushed biscuits.

 

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So Londoners , those food trends should keep up in the know of how the food scene in our vibrant ,multi-cultural melting pot will be tickling our taste buds. Thanks to the ‘Food Busker’ we relished food that has yet to hit city restaurant menus created using the well researched and flavourful sauces from Loyd Grossman. So next time you are in a mood for a culinary adventure and shudder at the thought of cooking from scratch ,confidently reach out for a jar of one of these sauces knowing that it can create something as brilliant as the Korean Fried Chicken! ( Need an easy recipe to make some yourself this long weekend? Give me a shout in the comments below and will send you the recipe that was shared with us ,in a flash !)

Check out what Helen had to say about the event go here here.

Disclaimer: With Thanks to Loyd Grossman Sauces for a fabulous ‘ evening of flavour’ with the Food Busker – John Quilter. Many thanks to Cru Coffee and the efficient team at Underground Cookery School.

 

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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.

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I was shown to a cosy table downstairs.

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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

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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)

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Nabe Udon  – Noodle and Fishcake Soup with Prawn Tempura.

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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.

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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.

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

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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)

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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)

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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!

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

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

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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.

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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!

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  • 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.

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Square Meal

21, The Print Room,Covent Garden – a review

On the corner of Covent Garden Piazza , housed in a beautiful Georgian heritage site is a 3 story delightful place -21 – a rustic Italian restaurant, The Print Room – a cocktail bar with 2 balconies overlooking the piazza and all the live entertainment it has to offer and the terrace located on the Piazza – a great way to enjoy the outdoors, drink in the hustle bustle, gaze at St.Pauls – all this under the shelter of huge umbrellas and heating for chilly evenings.

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When I first heard of 21 the Print Room at Covent Garden I imagined it to be this tiny little place with a rustic feel , when we walked into 21 I felt I was walking into a huge cave with tunnels well-lit and the aroma of melted cheese wafting around .The historic cellar vaults converted in a fab Italian restaurant have a cosy warm feel .They also  proudly claims to serve the best pizza and pasta in Covent Garden – We were soon about to find out….

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Image Courtesy :21 Covent Garden

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Hubby and me walked into the place on a very ,very warm summer evening and were seated at table perfect for a romantic date but we food bloggers need light for clicking away ,so once we were moved to a new table and happily settled into a comparatively well-lit corner of our choice ,we couldn’t wait to order some drinks and cool down a few degrees. Just as I thought I would melt with the heat these beauties came to our rescue – a Mango Bellini (£7.50)for me and a  Verde Flower(£5) Sine Peccato,for the huster – it means a cocktail without sin.

The Mango Bellini – a Prosecco based cocktail was crisp,fresh,fruity ,summery while hubsters Verde Flower – a combo of cucumber,apple juice and elderflower with a dash of bitter lemon was fresh and light with lots of ice – so refreshing!

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Accompanied by Wild Boar Tortelloni (£7.25) – Pancetta ,green beans ,sage cream  and Black pepper Calamari with saffron aioli (£7.25) as starters.The batter for the calamari was a bit bulky making them a bit chewy, the tortellini  was very good, could easily have eaten some more!

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Image Courtesy :21 Covent Garden

I was told that the A la Carte menu is  fresh, Italian-inspired and prepared with the best quality local ingredients – well now, I love the sound of that ! We ordered the Cornish Crab Linguine (£14.25) and the Figaro (£14.95) – a Milano Salami,Parma Ham & Pepperoni Pizza for the main course but honestly if you’re doing starters then this one pizza between two people is more than enough!

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The Figaro is absolutely mind-blowing delicious with the 3 meat sitting there with black olives and cherry tomatoes – begging to be eaten! The goats cheese was nothing like I’d ever tasted before – so soft and creamy and not one bit salty. Abandon your fork and knife for this one folks, eat with your hands…lick the gooey gorgeous roasted garlic olive oil mixed with the melted mozzarella , as it drips off the sides while you devour this magnificent feast. The linguine was ignored by us for the first few minutes while we silently ate our pizza.I felt like Julia Roberts in the movie Eat,Pray ,Love telling her friend to drop the guilt and just eat their cheese laden gorgeous looking pizza when they go to Naples ,errmmm only I was sharing my Pizza with my hubster 😉

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The linguine was good though paling in comparison to this star pizza staring at us. The crab meat was mixed well into the pasta and it was have been fun to eat this pasta slowly after squeezing  lime generously over it , sipping a fine glasses  red which goes with the fresh seafood taste and the chillies in the pasta.I ordered a glass of Red- the Nero D’Avola 2011 (£5.65 a glass , £21 a bottle) with my linguine.Hubster had a glass of Prosecco Brut (£6.80) to go with the mains.

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Needless to say the mere mention of dessert and we would have exploded so we skipped dessert. Eager to walk and help digest the generous dinner now sitting firmly inside our tummies we took a tour of the print room upstairs which is a print shop turned cocktail bar, with a lovely balcony overlooking the piazza.We then walked out into the piazza past the Terrace ,to be greeted by fresh, crisp evening London air.

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Image Courtesy :21 Covent Garden

So lets see, 21 delivered on their promise of serving the best Pizza in Covent Garden , the wine selection and mocktails on offer are impressive and  I loved my Mango Bellini.Food and Wine taken care of .Ambience – the feeling of sitting huddled in a cosy cubby hole dating back to Georgian Times is something else, the view from the Print room is amazing , so I’d say this is a perfect place for romantic dates in the cubby hole of 21 or out on the terrace – better for warm summer evenings, great venue for hen and stag parties and a really cool place to hang out for drinks with your friends, they seem to have got it all covered huh?

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Image Courtesy :21 Covent Garden

The photo below is of the most posh cubby hole in 21 comes with a fish tank for company 😉

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Image Courtesy :21 Covent Garden

It was a beautiful clear night and the piazza was just so beautiful , a spattering of tourists seated in quiet corners near St.Pauls , the bars still overflowing with beer drinkers spilling out onto the piazza and of course the theatregoers walking to their cars or trying to get a cab.

The last time we were at Covent Garden with some friends they showed us this fab walking route to Waterloo station along the Waterloo bridge, it IS  a great walk along the various many theatres ,pubs and brightly lit restaurants of Covent Garden and  onto the bridge with stunning views of the London Eye on one side and the beautiful st.pauls cathedral on the other. And down the subway and you are inside Waterloo station, cool or what?!

It was an exceptionally windy evening as well and all of a sudden I wish I had my jacket on me, we stopped to take a few photos and this ones my fav:

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Rushing to take cover in the warm subway , we made it to the station in under 15 minutes , this walking route now my fav way to get to Covent Garden from Waterloo station and totally avoid the claustrophobic tubes and the slow buses crawling through the omnipresent traffic on  the narrow roads  of Central London…..( there … now that’s a sure shot sign that I have become am a Londoner now….when one begins to crib about the crowded tubes and moan about the traffic …and look of alternate walking routes.. I think the novelty of being a newbie to this city is finally wearing off… in every way… but then the magic has settled in and just like I will always , always love Mumbai no matter what ,similarly London has sunk into my being in a way that can never be reversed… safe to say…am deeply in love… with all that London has to offer – even the tubes … oh yes!)

*With thanks to 21 and The Print Room for the invite.All views expressed here are my own. I was not required to write a positive review. No monetary compensation was provided for this post.

 

 

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Square Meal

Smoked Spanish Peppers and Zingy Mushrooms in a creamy sauce

My love for using smoked sweet red peppers is taking over my recipes for now , I made these zingy mushrooms for a friend who popped in for brunch about 2 months ago but I have been very lazy and this recipe is finally seeing daylight. I guess the electric atmosphere of the yellow jersey clad stadium full of Brazil fans and the super tight match going on with Camroon is giving me a much needed rush of happy hormones ,add to that the frenzy of the Wimbledon matches , the air in Wimbledon is heavy with anticipation, huge posters , fluorescent tennis ball props in all windows , the traditional colours of the Wimbledon ribbons and balloons galore, the bus service from the station to the venue with hyperexcited people , everything is screaming tennis here!

Lamuyo Peppers are great for roasting as they are bigger and sweeter than their cousins the hot variety. They are juicy and crunchy and go well with garlic,basil,oregano,taste fab with cheese , think stuffed peppers grilled , just perfect for summer !

The recipe was given to me by P aunty , shes a fab cook as I have mentioned in my past posts too and her recipes are innovative, delicious and easy to make, I love pestering her to keep sending me more recipes everytime we talk 😉 .So I decided to amp up this recipe with some madness my style and use up the handsome red pepper staring at me from my fridge 😉

Ingredients:

  • 1 large pack Chestnut Mushrooms sliced
  • 1 large red Lamuyo sweet pepper
  • 8 cloves Garlic- bash and chop fine
  • 1/2 red onionchopped very fine
  • 2 chillies- (more or less acc to your taste) – chop fine
  • 3 heaped tbs flavoured soft cheese, I love using the herby Philadelphia
  • 2 tbsp  Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt to taste
  • Parsley- a handful -chopped finely

Method:

  • Roast the pepper on gas flame till the skin chars and begins to peel off, I use tongs to hold it by the stem so it can char even at the top.
  • While the pepper cools just enough to allow you to peel and reveal the smoked juicy flesh, you can use the time to wash and slice the chestnut mushrooms
  • While taking off the charred skin off the smoked pepper remember to place a dish below as it will release lots of juice which we don’t want to loose as it is one powerhouse of smoky peppery sweet flavour!
  • Heat oil in a sauce pan and saute the garlic till it turns brown and the familiar aroma of fabulous garlic begins to waft and assault your nostrils.
  • Then add the very finely chopped red onion and cook on a low flame stirring regularly till the onion is thoroughly crispy and reduces in quantity, do not let it burn.
  • Then toss in the mushrooms and the chopped smoked pepper and cook for about 2 minutes on a low flame ,stirring and making sure it does not stick to the pan or overcook
  • Then add the soft cheese ,sea salt and finely chopped parsley,mix well and cook with lid for about 1 to 1 1/2 minute.
  • Serve with garlic bread smothered in butter – eat guilt free;)

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Wine Pairing made easy by Waitrose Cellar

On a fine evening last week when the sun suddenly decided to shine upon us Londoner’s I happened to be invited to a blogger bash to celebrate the launch of Waitrose Cellar – the  new online wine service by Waitrose ,at the London Canal Museum.

With over 1200 interesting & exclusive wines,Champagnes & spirits to choose from at Waitrose Cellar online you can order any 6 wines with free delivery.The best part is the Waitrose Cellar experts hand pick mixed cases and  they are just a phone call away to address any queries you may have related to their wines  ,but if you’d rather do the food and wine pairing yourself ,there’s a wealth of knowledge on the Waitrose Cellar website where you can browse through 40 articles, watch over 150 tasting videos and read ratings on product pages,you can even learn how to expertly pop open a bottle of champagne!

Our wine experts for the evening – Stèphane and Xenia set the mood for the evening by popping some champagne.Stèphane started with a  level 3 award in wines and spirits from WSET and perfected his wine knowledge to become a wine waiter, then head sommelier before he became part of the Waitrose Cellar team. Xenia a Master of wine (2003) came to Waitrose last December ,with 24 years experience in the wine trade, she has worked as an independent wine consultant,a buyer for a large brewery,retailer and wine importer. After a spot of introductions over some champagne and starters I chatted with some very familiar friendly  faces. 14th May'14 Waitrose Wine Cellar event5 (Copy) It’s then that I noticed my name badge had a little picture of a glass of red and some others had picture of white wine on their badges ,the red wine gang set sail with Stèphane and the white wine badges went off with Xenia.We were taken onto a traditional canal boat to sail along the Regent’s Canal ,sample some of the brilliant Waitrose wines while Stèphane, took us through the story behind each wine and got us to think how best we could pair our wine with various mains. 14th May'14 Waitrose Wine Cellar event1 (Copy) (Copy)

If like me you’ve never sailed before on a traditional canal boat these beauties come equipped with a cute compact kitchen, ‘leisure’ accommodation and a nice little seating area for socialising which we promptly abandoned for a place on the deck, after all who can resist the soft evening sunlight and the light cooling breeze while sipping some fine wine and dreaming of  delicious food to pair it with! While sipping on Prosecco, Stèphane shared a naughty little trick to amp up your sweet bakes,he adds just a tiny pinch of pepper along with some salt ,takes the tooth-grinding sweet edge off the bake and gives just the right hint of flavour,am definitely going to give this fab idea a try soon!

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We started with tasting the  white wines ,of the white wines we tried I loved the Cave de Lugny Sparkling Burgundy Blanc de Blancs NV the most ,perfect for summer parties and nibbles.This Chardonnay from Burgundy has a  fresh, crisp, apple and citrusy flavour makes it really easy sparkling wine to drink. Also quite liked the Vasse Felix Sauvignon Blanc/ Semillon,which is a very dry,fresh western Australian Sauvignon which would go really well with fresh seafood,steamed greens by the side or a sinful portion of gnocchi with toasted pine nut and fresh green basil pesto. This white,I daresay is even better than the other Antipodean varieties like Chardonnay. Moving on to red’s, by which time we had passed through the Reagent’s Canal and am sure managed to gulp some stray drops of water falling off the musty old bridge as well, but am sure we were either honestly engrossed in conversation or blissfully unaware of anything expect how much fun we were having by then , which I shall safely blame on the progressive climb towards feeling pleasantly buzzed – no , not shamelessly tipsy.Am  eagerly waiting to once again savour the Waitrose Chianti Classico Barone Ricasoli. This full-bodied Tuscan red is a delight on the palate with its woody notes and velvety texture,perfect for grilled meats and roasted peppers- think juicy kebabs with minty chutney. Made in partnership with Ricasoli family who were the first producers of Chianti , no wonder then this wine has won the Decanter Bronze Medal for classic Chianti. Before we knew it, we had worked our way through 16 different ,fabulously delicious Waitrose wines and by the time we got back to the Canal Museum we had worked up quite an appetite and speedily devoured the fab spread laid out for us.

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Stèphane and Xenia continued to reveal one secret after another of how best to choose a wine just right for you and how to go about pairing  food & wine.Then it was time for some speed wining – yes you heard that right Speed Wining!  I’ve never been speed dating but enough hours of watching crime and romantic dramas on the telly have left me no stranger to what its all about ,only this was way more fun because we got to talk about our favourite food and wine and didn’t need to impress our very friendly bunch of fellow foodies. I think I managed to ask some rather interesting and fun questions along with some rather boring ones but the user-friendly Waitrose Cellar website made it really easy for us to look for wines that would best suit the personality and tastes in food of our speed wining partners.

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Don’t we all look like we really had a great time ‘speed wining’? 🙂 And now a look at my favourites from the evening, the sparkling burgundy and classic Chianti both perfect matches for the sea food lover in me who also has a weakness for juicy kebabs,lamb curry and a major sweet tooth.

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Am happy to say that as a result of our speed wining session my fellow red team mates Becky,Snigdha,Anne,Laura and May managed to almost accurately guess which type of  wines I’d  enjoy the most.So when the 6 wine case for each of us, sent by Waitrose Cellar online, reached me I couldn’t wait to get cooking and wine pairing!

First up of course I shall be popping some Champagne – Waitrose Blanc de Blancs Brut NV(picked for me by Laura for my love of sweet and a bit of fizz) – to celebrate becoming aunty to a bonny boy and my niece clearing her GCSE equivalent in India with flying colours!Definitely calling for some bubbly,loads of canapes and well some more bubbly 😉

For my Sunday lunch with my family I will be pairing lamb curry with Catena Malbec chosen for me by Anne .I know my dessert wine for this month  will be the Limited Reserve Peachy wine from my wine case selected for me by May to appease my sweet tooth after a spicy meal.  Dr. Loosen Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Kabinett  will keep me company for familiar flavours of fresh seafood curries and fusion meals with scallops and soft shell crabs ,thanks to Snigdha’s choice.Waitrose Chablis picked for me by Becky who quizzed me and learnt of my love for ciders.This Chablis is so apt for a lazy summer afternoons with sea food starters.Last but certainly not the least the Sparkling Burgundy with a beautiful label that adorns the bottle ,which also is in my case,will be shared over lots of cake for a double birthday celebration with my family who are visiting us end of this month – exciting times ahead!

Feeling a bit of envious are we now? Don’t !For even you can win £1000 worth of wine specially chosen JUST for you by Waitrose Cellar Experts .Plus 5 runners-up will win a ready-made collection of  Waitrose Wine Teams 30 favourite wines. Now I would certainly clink my glass to that! You can also tweet away – @waitrosewine and chat up the wine experts.

 

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*With thanks to Waitrose Cellar for the invite.No monetary compensation was provided for this post.All views expressed are my own.

Egg Curry/Anda Curry/अण्डा कारी from my college days

Egg curry and soft paav or square buns are the most common hostel food that one can make with a saucepan,some eggs and a few basic ingredients.It is hugely popular as a filling,tasty curry and there are as many variations as the imagination, ones budget and availability of ingredients on a particular day will allow 🙂

This version is what I always make and is sort of derivative of what would be made in the North of India.I sometimes like to make it into a coastal flavoured one by adding fresh grated coconut but that’s only if I want to make it posh but that’s very, very rare. After all this is a quick ,save the evening sort of curry!

It’s National Curry Week and it’s wonderful to see how Britain has embraced an Indian food habit and made it, its own over the years, spinning off British Indian versions of popular Indian home cooked curries.

I wanted to start of my posts for National Curry week with this one because of how easy it is to make and a great recipe for students everywhere 🙂

Serves:2

Total Preparation Time :20 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs and use the same proportion of 2 eggs per person to scale up (for very hungry fells the more the merrier 😉
  • 2 medium-sized red onion finely chopped
  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 heaped tsp garam masala
  • 1 heaped tsp cumin powder
  • 1 heaped tsp coriander powder
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • fresh coriander to garnish
  • 1 clove of garlic finely chopped
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil – it’s easier on my conscience , use any oil or butter or ghee in dire straits!

Method:

  1. Boil the eggs in an open saucepan and leave aside to cool
  2. Roast the chopped red onion on a saucepan and spritz it in the mixer with the chopped tomatoes and green chillies.(If you want a coastal touch add 2 tbsp of fresh grated coconut in this mixture and puree it together,ensure to use atleast 3 finely chopped garlic in the pan as they set of the taste of fresh coconut beautifully)
  3. In a saucepan heat the oil and add a pinch of asafoetida,then add the chopped garlic and roast till it’s a light brown ,then add the ginger paste,turmeric,red chilli powder,garam masala,coriander and cumin powders.
  4.  Stir in the onion and tomato puree.
  5. Cook on a low flame for 2 minutes.
  6. Then add some water to make a gravy like consistency and ad the boiled, peeled eggs after cutting them in half, add salt and cook for a further 5 – 6 minutes.
  7. Serve with hot chapartis/naan bread,paav,soft fresh wholemeal bread or with steaming hot boiled white rice – to make the rice taste heavenly drop a blob of butter, the steam trapped in the grains of rice will melt the butter into a golden pool of gooey goodness – pour the egg curry into this and enjoy the best and simple pleasures of curry!

Anda Curry

Looking for a Curry Recipe? You might also like:

Valache Birdhe (वालाचे बिरडे) – made in a typical C.K.P way

Valache Birdhe is an extremely popular bean gravy and has helped soothe many aching hearts and settle ruffled feathers after long gruelling work days.I managed to procure a few packets of these beautiful field beans with brown skin after a lot of searching!Hubs goes completely mental at the mere mention of this dish and insisted on me uploading the recipe and help all the other hungry hubbies out there..ahem ..so without further ado ladies and gents I present to you yummyscrummy recipe.

This is a typical C.K.P way of making a rather traditional legume curry. Vaal or kadve vaal (kadve meaning bitter in Marathi) are generically referred to as Field Beans in English.

Serves: 2

Preparation Time: 20 mins. Soaking and Sprouting: Depends on the climate, longer in winter about 2-3 days.

Serves:2 as a main course served with boiled rice or Indian bread – chapatti and a bhaji (sabzee/sabji) as an accompaniment

Ingredients:

  1. Vaal –
  2. Garlic Cloves – 3- 4 with skin
  3. Asafoetida a tiny pinch
  4. Red onion – one small finely chopped for the pan
  5. Dried Kokum – 2-3 or tamrind paste 1tsp or dried tamrind soaked in water -remove the pips and use the gooey thick bits
  6. 1/2 tsp Jaggery
  7. Mustard Seeds -1 tiny pinch
  8. Cumin/Jeera- 1 small pinch
  9. Oil – 1 and 1/2 large tbsp
  10. Red Chilli Powder -1 tsp
  11. Turmeric powder -1/2 tsp
  12. Coriander powder -1 tsp
  13. Cumin powder – 1 tsp
  14. Fresh Coriander finely chopped to garnish – half of bunch
  15. 3-4 heaped tbsp grated coconut paste made by running through a mixer fresh grated coconut or frozen coconut with 1 green chilli and 1 clove of garlic.My mum prefers to also add 1/2 a finely chopped red onion which has been tossed on a pan with the coconut and green chilli – must admit it lends a toasty warmth to the gravy but I skip this step simply because the I compensate for it by using the onion in the pan!
  16. Salt as per taste

Method:

  • Soak the Vaal overnight, change the water in the morning and by evening if they appear puffed then wrap them in a damp cloth and set aside in a vessel with a lid to create an environment warm enough to allow them to sprout
  • Remove sprouted vaal into a bowl and pour like warm water on them,stir with your palms to loosen the skin and many will float to the top,decant the water and remove all the rest of the skins and discard .
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan and dust some asafoetida and throw in the mustard and cumin.
  • When the cumin seeds begin to pop, throw in the garlic with their skin on and smashed to flatten them and as they turn colour and release their aroma,add he chopped onion.
  • When the onion turns a delicate pink add turmeric powder,red chilli powder and then add the vaal/field beans.
  • Now add the turmeric,red chilli,coriander and cumin powders and quickly stir in enough water to cover the beans.
  • On a low flame cook with lid.
  • When the vaal is almost done,add the jaggery,coconut paste and the tamarind paste or the water from the dried tamarind which has been soaked or dried kokum soaked in water and when the vaal are done add salt and garnish with finely chopped coriander.
  • The logic of adding salt towards the very end is so that it does not interfere with the rest of the spices as they pack a punch into the beans while they cook and also salt can hasten the cook time for the vaal which is not ideal as the full strength of all the flavours steeping into the curry will not happen.

Vaalache Birdhe with text resized

I do know this process sounds rather cumbersome and complex but believe you me its easy peasy and the main labour is only getting rid of the skins.

Do leave me a comment of you make this dish and also any variations to the recipe that you may have heard of, any anecdotes,happy memories are always welcome.

Bon Appe’tit !

P.S: coming soon a Vaal Pilaf recipe that’s another firm family fav!

Wine tasting on a frosty cold evening…a heart warmer

What better way to begin penning down this blog post than sip on a nice red and watch ‘The Mary Berry Story” on telly ?! I am warm and the house is toasty….but when I was rushing to go for my first ever wine tasting , London was enveloped in a blanket of snow, steadily heavier in it’s flow, it was my first ever snowfall experience…couple that with the late hour ,my hands going totally numb and my cell battery dying , it was well,what I’d like to call a recipe for disaster !Thanks to a warm hearted couple on their evening stroll I managed to finally find the venue, it was fairly easy to find but somehow looking for an address scrawled on a soggy bit of paper on cold winter evening is not fun!

So in the basement of a massive storage company in a cosy tasting room was a massive neatly arranged table , most the people attending had arrived. Emma  Dawson, the wines and spirits buyer of M&S, was all set to make a presentation on East Mediterranean Wines. On my right was a vibrant young lady – Josie, who was such a pleasure to talk to , she particularly enjoyed reading through my notes , I hope to share most interesting snippets in this blog though not the entire sheet for fear of boring all of you ..and hey no excel sheets and tables in a food blog ! Well unless they involve weights and measures , then I shall be able to sneak in such things as scary calculations .

Umm coming back to the lovely people , there was this handsome couple sitting across the table , the lady salt pepper hair and so very polite , her companion a dapper gentleman ,I did like chatting with them , yes , they are a made for each other kind of couple and good to talk to…umm

The cheese ,olives and select meats and small eats on the table seemed so tantalizing…  …I was a bit hungry but more so quite eager to sip on some exotic wines!

Cheese Board Close-Up

The Cheese Board & the sausages

We started with the White wines ,six of them,all tempting us with with their beautiful aromas. I loved the Quercus Pinot Grigio from Slovenia, light in appearance, felt silky smooth and fruity on the palate and I really thing it would pair well with a white fish done served with a tangy green chutney,ummm.  The white wine from Greece called Atlantis Santorini would pair amazingly well with a Bengali Bhetki (Indian River fish ,Asian Sea Bass )and some steamed white rice , it seemed to explode with zing of lime on my palate and on the nose it felt fresh, airy like free fall backwards on a meadow on a huge heap of hay!

The 6 whites

Close Up White Wine

Emma enthralls us

Golden Valley Graevina,Croatia

Now the much awaited red’s made an entrance – ta ra ra pum pum 😉

After we had tasted all 6 we had a show of hands to vote for the crowds fav Red and Lebanese Cadet de Ka (Cabernet Sauvignon,Merlot,Syrah) was top of the pops, I’d say on the nose it was deep, dark ,mysterious – almost like a woman with a secret and passionate lover ,even took me into a well stocked spice cabinet with a thick teak wood door,imagine Nigella cooking up a posh steak or a rack of lamb with fancy sauces , food porn,oh yes , well this is wine porn if there is any such thing !

Red-ay steady -ah well- Goooo!

The Greek wine Red on Black Agiorgitiko from Nemea ,Greece hits the palate and makes it jiggle like a belly dancer oh yeah,fruity and with a great depth of flavour. The Croatian,Pilato Malvasia Istarski would pair nicely with a rich dark brown sauce and meat, on the nose it sort of feels like a first date, a romantic on,maybe at the village fair. The 150 year old Chateau Ksara Clos St Alphonse from Lebanon is to be served at a family get together, a celebration , one befitting such a lovely fruity wine with  hidden surprise – notes of spice and chocolate.

Emma doing her thing

We were all really happy by now,no not tipsy, no sir!So  do not blame it on the twelve wines though;) the whole atmosphere was light, it was snowing heavier , the room was cosy , conversation was fun and Emma had managed to take us on a virtual tour through Slovenia, Greece,Croatia,Turkey and Lebanon so effortlessly so it may seem. I had always wondered what a wine tasting would be like, I imagined a massive room with wine barrels all around ,floor to ceiling wine bottles displayed along the walls, a massive room which smells of cheese and well wine ,rich mature full bodies Wine, some chairs around a sturdy old well used mammoth of a table, lots of wine glasses, several varieties of grapes, cheese…lots of cheese, some pretty table napkins, the sound of laughter n the clinking of glasses …lets just say that thanks to Emmas excellent selection of Wines and Jimmy Smith from West London Wine Schools excellent arrangement at the cosy tasting room,it was a perfect ”first wine tasting do” to be at,and yes thanks to Josie as well, you made me smile – a lot. And yes the kind couple whose name I didn’t get who took the bus ride with me, it would have been quite spooky waiting for the bus all alone and I was glad for the company.

The Lovely Josie!

Aahh…now to use that discount voucher and procure some wine bottles from M&S..whilst I am at it .. why not pour myself some red and sip it while I upload these snaps and fix some dinner…it’s chicken peri peri by the way with gluten free,wheat free bread, but ..more on that later , now for some late evening relaxing at home ,Good Night Folks in this part of the world .

Moi

IMG_1010 (Copy)

(Well that’s one blog post that’s out of my drafts folder, better late than never I say ! Since most of it was written in Jan  this year it has lots of winter references, well Summer isn’t really here is it ?! grumble grumble )

Ressurecting LEFTOVERS !

 

Heya all ye blog readers, followers or mere net trawler’s !

I have a simple yet effective way of resurrecting plain white boiled/steamed rice and conjuring up a tasty spicy dish to allow for a guilt free ,time saving recipe which will not only help you NOT die of guilt for throwing away rice that’s perfectly OK but just stale and also having teh pleasure of cooking an easy peasy meal all on your own. Of course it’s NOT my own recipe but a hand me down from my mother ! GAAH and YOU actually thought I was that creative …giggles to herself and continues typing …

Well you need , yes ! Of course my dear genius some leftover white plain cooked rice.

Depending on bow much rice you have say roughly a medium sized soup bowl for example , you will need :

1.2 tablespoons oil

2.2 cloves of garlic with skin

3.1 medium sized red onion finely chopped and I mean FINELY !hehehe I like trying to sound very professional , am just joking here , chop it how you will !

4.few fresh green lovely curry leaves.

5.Turmeric Powder

6. Salt to taste

7.Chilli Powder

8.Pinch of Asafoetida

9.  A pinch of each Jeera (Cumin seeds) & Mohri (Mustard Seeds)

10. A tiny squeeze of lime

11. Some finely chopped freshly coriander for garnish

12. One or two green chillies chopped

Ok now heat the oil in a pan , add the Hing (Asafoetida powder) , add the Mustard seeds and Cumin seeds and wait for the mustard seeds to crackle in the hot oil, then add the garlic finely chopped with the skin and let it turn brown and crisp , believe me,it adds a power packed punch to the flavour of the rice,then add some green chillies chopped to a size that you can pick them out if you don’t want to set your tongue on fire ! Then,in go the curry leaves and the chopped red onion,after the onions are nicely tossed and turned in the oil to give them just the soft and crunchy texture you need,toss in the rice and slightly turn it with your hand before you do to prevent it from sticking , it should open up so that the flavours of the tadka (seasoning ) touch EACH grain and coat it with their heavenly goodness !

Then add the turmeic powder,red chilli powder and mix well,cover the vessel and cook on a very low flame so as to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan at the bottom. Steam for some time and open the lid,squeeze a generous bit of lime(everytime I think LIME or LEMON , I think of the way Jamie Oliver talks about it and uses it generously in MOST of his preparations, I am LOVE with LIME !) on this dish and garnish with fresh coriander, you can even add a few bits of chopped fresh tomato of you like.

Serve HOT with any curry or ”leftover” dal reheated.

I LOVE eating this plain with a big dollop of curd or plain yogurt too !

See told you it was eay peasy !

Portobello Market

A bazaar or a street market , now coming from India the mention of the word market or bazaar brings to mind vibrant colours, streets buzzing with activity , bustling with stalls selling everything from old forgotten door handles to tasty street food , well my First visit to Portobello market was all of this and more . It starts of as a tiny lane snuggled between urban landscape and then as you start to walk along the street there is an explosion of colour , vibrancy and goods for as far as the eye can see !

I started my journey by clicking a few pictures with some rather naughty catch phrases printed on rusting old metal signage boards , silently guffawing I choose one mentally as my profile picture for Facebook – such is the dominant position that FB occupies in my mind , it always seems to crop up into my thoughts at all possible opportunities 😉

In the picture above I wonder how the 2012 Olympics could be already a rusty “OLD”piece ?!humm;)

Then there is the Official Street sign proclaiming that Portobello Road officically begins somewhere close to the signboard shop.

I particularly liked the many shops that packed choc-a-bloc with such pretty jewellery right from exotic earrings to the most wonderfully colorfull bead necklaces that every possible visual stimuli that can awaken my brain was at work , there is just so much to amass that it left me bedazzled !

What one expect is to find some really good deals on “Vintage” products like really pretty tea cups or cake stands, door knobs, furniture even .

This one particular shop was rather interesting !

Turns out its not just the shops that were colourfull really !

I was most delighted to these a shop selling the most quaint little miniatures of a cake shop complete with all sort of yummy looking pastries not bigger than a tiny petal if kept on your finger tip! There were also intricate miniatures of violins in cases and a zillion other things.

It also has a rather massive All Saints store with their trademark window display of all singer sewing machines and what an apt fit for Portobello Market I’d say, a Vintage window display concept for a market selling all these delightful Vintage nick knacks!

I wonder who conceptualised this display; they sure did manage to procure all possible old singer sewing machines out there didn’t they?!

There’s literally HUNDREDS of the machines lining every inch of their window space in every STORE and I believe now all across the Globe in most of their outlets , now THAT really is something!

A few steps of walking ahead and there was this brilliant balcony full of the most brilliant potted plants, someone certainly does have a green thumb I’d say , what a pretty sight to see so very SPRING like .

Now as one moves past the shops selling handbags, clothing, old furniture, tea sets ,door handles ,footwear , photo frames etc etc etc there is a new set of shops that takes over with fresh fruits and vegetables being sold on street stalls , fresh flowers, mobile food vans selling everything from wraps and burgers to salads and desserts .

There are a few street vendors selling some funky fashion jewellery as well.

There’s a section of the street market that was kind of empty and not as full with street stalls as expected, there’s probably some days in the week when the market is not fully operational. But there is a massive mall with many shops inside, but my rumbling tummy didn’t permit me to enter so I just took some shots of these huge arches outside.

It’s then that I saw this board and promised to return when the Farmers Market was open, sadly haven’t yet gotten around to doing that really.

As the Poster says am sure a market so vibrant does really have a SPACE for everyone !

The last few shops and a spattering of colourfull cafes and an ATM outside a party shop caught my eye.

Then I finally gave in to my tummy’s request and tucked into some yummy pub food and washed it down with a chilled beer.

What a beautiful day Indeed!

A few handy tips if you do plan a visit to Portobello Market :

  • If your going on a Thursday,it  is not a good choice as the market shuts down shortly after noon and not all the street shops are up anyway.
  • Carry a bottle of water it’s a thirsty walk especially in the summer.
  • It’s a short walk when one exits from the Notting Hill Gate Tube station.
  • Make a mental note of the loos that are around by reading the info in the link below ,it’s important !

There is a website offering a wealth of info about the Market on http://www.portobellomarket.org/. I especially liked the detailed way in which they have listed places to run if your bladder is about to burst , mine was and I almost died when the public self cleaning toilet door swung open as it was in a disastrous condition sadly !So one of the pubs it was then , what a relief !

P.S: All Images used in this article are clicked by me so if you do resuse them kindly give me due credit !