A slice of Costa Rica – Casado

With summer firmly on it’s way out and Autumn settling in, the chilly nights demand some great comfort food. I wanted to try something different so I choose a popular Costa Rican dish – Casado. Why? Well, it’s the ideal comfort food, easy to put together and tastes amazing! Best part is it’s very easy on the pocket and if you plate it well, it looks like a posh meal – no one would guess what went into making it!

Costa Rican Casado

                                                                                                             Costa Rican Casado

Casado literally means a ‘married man’ and it is said that the name probably originates from how the local men expected food to be served when they were eating outside so that it reminded them of familiar tastes of a home cooked meal. An authentic Casado which is served at ‘sodas’ or local cafes is accompanied by what is known as a Lizano sauce. The brand name Lizano is now generic and retails in N. America.  Since this sauce is yet to hit UK shores ( believe me I did a fair bit of looking around in shops that sell Mexican ingredients, Asian, Carribean and most of my local supermarkets) I finally decided to make my own ,which was a great decision – why ? Well scope to experiment and innovate for one, coupled with freedom to incorporate easy to procure, local ingredients – resulting in a deliciously moorish creation! A traditional root vegetables dish from Costa Rico called Picadillo is a popular side dish with rice and tortillas. You can safely say that the gravy sauce is a marriage of sorts between the Lizano sauce and the Picadillo. I have done a fair amount of customisation and the most interesting part of cooking Casado was creating the gravy sauce, combining it with root vegetables and serving it as a wholesome gravy side dish. Let’s get started with the sauce aka gravy as this will take the most time to cook of all the other sides.

Costa Rican Casado

                                                                                                                Costa Rican Casado

 

Recipe is good for 2 with generous helpings.

Root Vegetable Gravy Side

Prep & Cooking Time: 35 mins

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium juicy tomato – finely chopped
  • 2 small red onions finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots chopped into tiny cubes
  • 3 small sweet fresh peppers finely chopped
  • A handful of cauliflower florets
  • A handful of very finely chopped sweet potato
  • 1 heaped tbsp of finely grated celeriac
  • A pinch of garlic puree
  • Half a dry red Kashmiri chilli
  • ½ tsp of thick tamarind puree
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried red chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp freshly grated black pepper
  •  1/2 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • Salt as per taste
  • A handful of finely chopped coriander

Method:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil and add the chopped onions, add the garlic puree and cumin powder and stir well.
  2. When the onion starts to reduce add the bay leaves, the chopped tomato and chopped sweet peppers, stir the the tomato & peppers around vigorously bit to get them to release their juices and reduce the flame to a minimum.
  3. Throw in the finely chopped carrot cubes, sweet potato, grated celeriac, tomato puree and add enough water to cover this mixture.
  4. Cook with lid on till the sweet potato and carrots begin to soften, then it’s time to toss in the cauliflower florets, season with the dry red chilli,tamarind,cracked black pepper, salt and sugar and give it a good stir.
  5. Let this cook on a low flame with lid for about 25 minutes.
  6. Keep opening the lid, stirring and adjusting the water if it becomes to run dry, we need a gravy like consistency.
  7. When it done, add some finely chopped coriander in the tamarind should give it a bit of tangy twist, while the dried Kashmiri chilli gives it colour and mild heat, the sweet pepper and tomato puree work their magic together and the gravy is delicious and wholesome what with so many veggies hidden inside!

Root Vegetable Gravy Sauce

Red Kidney bean side

Prep and Cooking Time: 15 min

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of red kidney beans
  • 1 medium sized red onion
  • 2 large tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp garlic puree
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil and sauté the chopped onions, add the garlic puree and stir well.
  2. After the onion has sautéed, add the tomato puree and stir then add the beans and mix well.
Red onions for Kidney Beans

                                                                             Red onions for Kidney Beans

  1. Add some water to the mixture and reduce the flame to a minimum, cook with a lid on but check often so that it does not burn or run dry.
  2. 4.Since the canned and ready to eat red kidney beans are preserved in salty water, check the taste before adding in any more salt, chuck in some dry red chilli flakes for flavour and set aside.
Red Kidney Bean side is done

                                                                                         Red Kidney Bean side is done

Boiled white rice

  • Cook 1 cup rice using exactly double the water and a pinch of salt

Fried Plantain

  • Peel and chop the plantain into large chunks and fry in hot oil in a kadhai or wok until they are a light brown. It’s easy for them to char so get them out as soon as the colour turns a golden shade of brown, allow to cool on a plate on a bit of kitchen roll to soak excess oil.

Plaintains peeled

  • Don’t fret if like me you can’t peel the plantain I simply use a knife and remove the thick green skin, even if that means that the plantain pieces are hexagonal or cubes now, well I never was too good at geometry 😉

Frying Plantains in Kadhai

Fish

  • Casado can be served with meat, fish or chicken. Chop one large fillet of fresh salmon and pan fry both sides till done in about 1 tbsp oil.

Salmon Pan Shallow Fry

Cheese Tortilla

  • Heat a large flour tortilla –shop bought on a pan and adds a generous helping of grated parmesan cheese on tortilla. Just as the tortilla heats up and the cheese shows sign of melting fold the tortilla in half and flip over and toast each side till you have a crispy yum cheesy tortilla, slice into neat triangles ready to be served.

Tortilla on pan with grated cheddar

Cabbage Salad

  • Chop a fresh cabbage fine to get one large handful of cabbage, add half a red onion and a small handful of finely chopped cucumber, squeeze half a lime, sprinkle some cracked black pepper, a small amount of fresh finely chopped coriander and toss all these together. Easy-peasy right?

Folded Tortilla

Serve the steaming hot rice with the salmon on the side, topped with some of the root vegetable gravy. Mop up the beans with the cheesy tortilla and munch on the sweet fried plantain with generous bites of the tangy cabbage salad in between mouthfuls of everything else.

Costa Rican Casado

                                                                                                                Costa Rican Casado

Pack a healthy protien punch into your meals with Quorn

One of the main challenges I have been facing off late as I am trying hard to throw off weight is maintaining a high protien diet and keeping my meals low on fat. Believe me it’s tricky trying to go low on sugar, saturated fats and ensuring blood sugar and cholesterol are at acceptable levels too- almost like a tight rope walk!

But even if you do not need to actively lower your cholesterol or sugar levels and are just looking for a healthier alternate to protein from meat sources I would consider including Quorn in your diet. I first tried Quorn simply out of curiosity. Both my husband and me love lamb mince but eating it more that 2 times on a week made me really feel very guilty. But swapping Quorn mince for lamb, once a week was something we are happy to do.

I always marinate Quorn mince with spices overnight and leave it to soak in all the flavours overnight. So when I was invited to an event to cook with Quorn at the Underground Cookery School, I was quite keen to see what recipes they had in mind.

Starters for the evening

Starters for the evening

We started by making dessert – always a great way to start the evening! Chocolate Torte was on the menu and we really enjoyed working with chocolate and working to an easy recipe created by the Underground Cookery School .

Chocolate Torte

Chocolate Torte

Next it was the BBQ pulled Quorn and pink coleslaw followed by Quorn Thai Curry – which I enjoyed making the most. I really loved the recipe created by Denise.

Denise in conversation with bloggers at the #quorncooks event

Denise in conversation with bloggers at the #quorncooks event

And for you, my readers here its is for you:

Quorn Thai Curry

Serves: 10

Ingredients:

Marinade

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp korma paste
  • 2 tbsp vegetarian Thai green curry paste
  • 500gm Quorn pieces

Sauce

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 400gm onions, peeled and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 60gm fresh coriander
  • 1 tbsp fresh, frozen or dried lime leaves (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 vegetable stock cube crumbled
  • 2 x 400 gm tin coconut milk
  •  3 tbsp sweet mango chutney
  • 30 gm fresh basil
  • 350 gm red peppers, thinly sliced
  • 200 gm mangetout or sugar snaps, halved
Quorn Chicken Pieces

Quorn Chicken Pieces

Method

  • Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl until the Quorn is coated. Transfer to the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  • To prepare the sauce heat the oil in a pan then gently fry the chopped onion, garlic and ginger for 5 minutes until softened but not coloured.
  • Add half of the coriander, the lime leaves, turmeric, stock cube, coconut milk and mango chutney. Gently bring to the boil then simmer, covered for 20 minutes. Add the basil and remaining coriander to the sauce for the last 5 minutes of cooking time then remove the pan from the heat and blend until smooth with a hand blender.
  • Meanwhile transfer the marinated Quorn pieces to a baking tray and cook in a moderate oven 180°C/Gas Mark 4 for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and reserve.
  • Add the Quorn pieces, red pepper and mangetout to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are just cooked.
Quorn Thai Curry

Quorn Thai Curry

While our curry was bubbling away we sat through a presentation over wine and a  Q-A session. The question many of the bloggers had – as am sure many of you do was – what exactly is Quorn made up of?

Quorn’s core ingredient is a plant protein that is exceptional at replicating the texture and taste of meat.  This is a naturally occurring fungus, which is harvested through a fermentation process. Other key features that make it a great choice are:

  • Quorn has no cholestrol and is high on fibre
  • From the sustainability perspective consider this Quorn mince uses 90% less greenhouse gasses than lean beef mince,

It was lovely to meet so many bloggers that evening and also bump into familiar faces like Leyla Preston and Becky. And for me it’s always a good feeling to come back to Underground cookery school where Chef and Patron Matt Kemp and his able team of chefs ensures that every blogger feels welcome, wine glasses never run dry and cooking is fun all the way.

DSC_9363 (Copy)

The BBQ pulled Quorn was delicious and I really liked the texture of quorn and how easily it had taken up the flavours of the seasoning used. Paired with pink coleslaw it makes for a really great snack and a lovely idea for a summer BBQ.

BBQ pulled Quorn and pink coleslaw

BBQ pulled Quorn and pink coleslaw

Served with steamed basmati rice, perfectly done – each grain cooked to satisfying perfection was the creamy Thai Green curry – this was the most satisfying dish that evening and one that I am happy to make at home over and over again.

Both hubby and me love our meat and seafood but we are consciously trying to eat healthier, include more vegetables and fruits in our diet and look for healthier protein choices. That’s where Quorn comes in. Quorn certainly is a healthy protein alternative with a wide range of options – a solution to both vegetarians and the rapidly expanding group of people wanting to reduce their meat consumption.

Infographic-Quorn

Infographic-Quorn

Today is World Meat Free Day, why not create your very own easy vegetarian delight for an easy dinner at home tonight? And for those feeling less adventurous there’s many options Quorn has like my favourite Quorn steaks – served with a peppery salad of rocket leaves and fresh summery cherry tomatoes they go down a treat.

World Meat Free Day

World Meat Free Day

*With  thanks to Quorn for the invite and for the team at Underground Cookery for another great experience.  All photographs used in this post are courtesy Preston Perfect Photography. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

The Queensbury Kitchen – NW London’s fab new All Day Bar and Grill

First impressions of  walking out of Willesden Green Tube station is of a quite suburb where even the high street seems welcoming and not maddeningly crowded.  My reason for the venturing into a leafy suburb in NW London that evening – an invitation to attend a bloggers review dinner at The  Queensbury Kitchen – a New All Day Bar and Grill which opened to the public late last year.

We had the long central communal table with high stools reserved for the evening and a tempting selection of cocktails to start with.

Queensbury - High Resolution06 (Copy)

I loved the interiors which seamlessly incorporate the industrial chic feel with the understated. White tiles, rustic tables , a turntable sitting in the corner belting out numbers on the L.P’s,  tungsten filament bulbs illuminating the tables add a cosy touch this lovely new grill and bar.

Queensbury - High Resolution11 (Copy)

The Mango Chilli Caiprisoka (£7) is just what you need to unwind after a long day , the sweet and sour taste of fresh mango slices work fabulously well with Vodka and the chilli gives your palate a sharp kick neatly balanced by the chilled ice and lime wedges. If you want to try something quirky I recommend the Evergreen cocktail, avocado and alcohol why not!

Queensbury - High Resolution69 (Copy)

First up we were served several sharing platters with BBQ Chicken (for £15 you get a whole organic chicken in a selection of 3 fab sauces – BBQ, Cajun and Bloody Mary!), Blackened Salmon (£9) and mini burgers (£7) – both regular and chickpea and feta too.

Queensbury - High Resolution54 (Copy)

Then followed mixed leaf salads (£3) , sweet potato fries (£4) and onion rings  (£3). When the Macaroni cheese (£4) came along, it was like nothing else on the table mattered – I thought it would start a war at the table 😉

Queensbury - High Resolution29 (Copy)

If that is making you salivate , you can well imagine what happened when the ribs came to the table . I had waited all evening to try the  the pièce de ré·sis·tance and I wasn’t disappointed. Not bad for £15 huh?

Queensbury - High Resolution34 (Copy)

Though we were sure that we wouldn’t be able to eat another morsel, one look at the desserts and our defenses crumbled. After all platters of cheescake, brownies with ice cream and tall ice-cream sundae glasses are simply impossible to resist right? Just £5 each too 😉

Queensbury - High Resolution53 (Copy)

Queensbury - High Resolution59 (Copy)

And it’s not just British classics and Quirky cocktails that they do well, they also serve up a good selection of breakfast menu options at great prices, am talking Eggs Benedict/Royal or Eggs Florentine for £6 – now why not go get yourself a lazy breakfast or brunch with freshly brewed coffee this weekend? Go on, you know you want to!

Queensbury - High Resolution33 (Copy)

This is another one of those epic review dinners that I will always remember for the fabulous food, great company, brilliant staff, fab service and the Chef for spoiling us with a great selection of food. A special mention to the PR agency and all their team members that went our of their way to make the each one of us feel well looked after, making for a really comfortable and enjoyable evening.

Queensbury - High Resolution14 (Copy)

So if it’s great evening out with your friends or simply chilling out with your colleagues after work that your after then head to The Queensbury Kitchen, it’s a stones throw away from the Willesden Green Tube station and good on your pocket too. Am thinking new favourite watering hole on Friday nights for those around Waterloo . Well, you got to try the ribs and the punchy Mango and Chilli Caipiroska atleast once to know what I am talking about!

Queensbury - High Resolution75 (Copy)

*With  thanks to Fiona who blogs at London Unattached  for inviting me for a great evening out also the PR Agency and The Queensbury Kitchen . No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

Ragi and Blueberry Pancakes / Finger Millet Blueberry Pancakes/ Nachni chya god polya

Another new obsession – Nachni (Marathi) / Ragi (Hindi) or Finger Millet as it is popularly known , in the past few days have made savoury pancakes several times so today I thought I would rustle up some sweet pancakes. But had to keep them healthy so opted for Soya Yoghurt instead of eggs which makes these vegan friendly and added in oats so that makes them gluten free too.

I really wanted to come up with some name for the Marathi alternative to this recipe and ‘Nachni chya god polya’ sounded like fun 😉

Light and puffy these are just perfect when you are craving pancakes but a healthier version is what you really want!

Ragi and Blueberry Pancakes , Finger Millet Blueberry Pancakes, Nachni chya god polya

Ragi is known to have a whole host of health benefits:

  • Popular amongst diabetics due to it’s low GI
  • High is dietary fiber
  • Rich in calcium, iron and thiamine
  • It is an aid to healthy weight loss due to it’s very low fat content
  • It is a good source of GF protien
  • Popular as a baby food too

Nutritional value of finger millet per 100g

Protein 7.6g
Fat 1.5g
Carbohydrate 88g
Calcium 370mg
Vitamins – A: 0.48mg
Thiamine (B1): 0.33mg
Riboflavin (B2): 0.11mg
Niacin: (B3) 1.2mg
Fiber 3g

800px-Millet_fields_in_Annapurna

Image Credit: Mikael Häggström

Why you should make these pancakes! As if you need any excuses for blueberry pancakes!!!

  • Low GI due to the finger millet flour so ideal for diabetics as it keeps blood sugar levels steady avoiding any sudden spikes and crashes.
  • Gluten free
  • Ideal for vegans
  • Dairy Free
  • Egg Free
  • Refined sugar free as Natvia is great sugar substitute
  • The oats ensure that this pancake keeps you fuller longer

Serves: 1 – makes 6 mini pancakes – double up quantity for 2 people

Ingredients:

  • 6 heaped tbsp oats
  • 4 heaped tbsp finger millet flour
  • 3 tbsp Soya yoghurt – I used Alpro – it’s approved by the Vegan society
  • Handful of blueberries
  • water
  • 4 tsp of Natvia – adjust as per taste

Ragi and Blueberry Pancakes , Finger Millet Blueberry Pancakes, Nachni chya god polya

Method:

  • In a large mixing bowl add the oats and finger millet and then the yoghurt
  • Mix well and a thick mixture will form
  • Heat about 2 cups of water in a kettle and let it cool down a bit
  • Slowly pour into the mixture and set aside for about 5-7 minutes
  • Then mix well to form a batter ensuring that it is not runny but has a good consistency, then add the Natvia and stir well till it all dissolves, adjust as per taste.
  • On a non-stick pan on medium heat melt 1 heaped tbsp unsalted butter or if your using the 1 cal sunflower oil spray then about 6 – 8 sprays are enough.
  • Ladle enough of the batter in the centre of the pan enough for a mini pancake, do not spread it like a dosa as the batter will disintegrate.
  • Allow to cook on each side for about 1 minute with a lid.
  • Use a wooden spatula to loosen the side done first and flip over carefully, the more the blueberries in each pancake that you ladle into the pan the more the water content as the heat will make the fruit pop and melt into gooey fruity goodness. Don’t fret if the first few pancakes break especially where the fruit is at the edge.

My pancake stack collapsed just as I was about to photograph it – humfph! But it was a very satisfying , delicious and healthy breakfast which even the hubster loved – win-win! Woohoo 🙂

A word of caution though excessive consumption may lead to kidney trouble so don’t over do the consumption.

Lastly a fun fact! Did you know that the grains are fermented to make a beer in some parts in Nepal? Cool or what?!

Ragi and Blueberry Pancakes , Finger Millet Blueberry Pancakes, Nachni chya god polya

References:

  • Wiki
  • Supra Organics
  • Veg Weight Loss Diets

Whole Masoor dal and Tofu salad

The long Easter weekend has sped past far too quick for me and am back to work. I just wanted to keep lunch really light today – guilty after ordering a Chinese takeaway yesterday *sad face*

So this recipe is basically me throwing together stuff found in my fridge, not necessarily planned but just what I thought would taste yummy and am very pleased with the result.

I am currently in love with a few things like red lentils, avocados, butternut nut squash, oranges, baby spinach, baby kale, walnuts and matcha green tea. I somehow can’t seem to get enough of this. Also my love affair with tofu is just getting more passionate.

Whole Masoor Dal and Tofu salad

Whole Masoor Dal and Tofu salad

Serves: 2  with extra helpings

Ready in: 45 minutes (If roasted squash is done then ready in 20 minutes)

Ingredients:

  • 80gm baby spinach
  • 150 gm whole red masoor dal i.e. whole red lentils with skin
  • 50 gm Tofu
  • Approx 75gm Butternut Squash and sweet potato diced
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1/2 Knorr stock pots of onion gravy
  • 1/2 Knorr stock pots of mixed chillies
  • Walnuts chopped roughly to garnish
Whole Masoor Dal and Tofu salad

Whole Masoor Dal and Tofu salad

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 (I have fan oven, adjust setting accordingly to suit your oven type)
  • Line a baking tray with a baking sheet, place the diced butternut squash and sweet potato , drizzle some olive oil, smoked sea salt and black pepper. I purchased a ready to roast pack of diced butternut squash and sweet potato from LIDL.
  • To save time, you could roast a larger batch of the diced butternut squash and sweet potato, so it’s ready to be used in soups, salads and curries.
  • Wash the whole masoor in sieve under running water.
  • Place the washed whole masoor with double the quantity of water in a small saucepan and add in the Knorr stock pots of onion gravy and mixed chillies. Cover with a lid and allow to boil until the dal is completely cooked. Top up with more water if you think it is running dry
  • If you like your tofu firm then cut out about 1/4th of the tofu from the pack and place it on a kitchen towel to remove excess water, then place another plate on top keep something on this plate to weigh it down. Leave aside for 10 minutes. This should drain the excess water from the tofu.
  • Alternatively just cut the tofu straight from the  pack into large chunks – I like the texture of the tofu when it’s done like but hubby like its the other way around. If like me, you haven’t drained and pressed the tofu to become extra firm, then handle it very gently with a wooden spatula as it easily crumbles.
  • Now place the tofu on a non-stick pan and dry roast on a low-medium flame for about 4 minutes each side or until done.
  • Meanwhile half and avocado, scoop out the flesh and roughly cut  into large chunks with a spoon.
  • Remove the butternut squash and sweet potato from the oven and set aside.
  • Remove the lid from the sauce pan containing the whole massor dal cooked and allow it to rest for a while as it should not be too hot when served, also allowing it to sit will help the dal to absorb any excess water, if there is too much excess water simply drain it.
  • To plate, divide the spinach leaves equally on the plate, then serve the cooked masoor dal on top, followed by the oven roasted  butternut squash and sweet potato, dry roasted tofu and finally top with the walnuts.

I found that this salad didn’t require any dressing or drizzling as the cooked dal works well with the succulent and sweet squash and the tofu adds texture and tastes great with the spinach. Walnuts add crunch, taste fab and are great for those who try this salad for the first time expecting it to be boring. Avocado I like with everything so I simply like having it in there.

I am up for experimenting and may try various permutations of this salad with the following toppings, not only will they make your salad more interesting but also help you reduce food wastage by finding new ways to recycle any of the following leftovers :

  • steamed fish – salmon and topped with pine nuts
  • Pan grilled Tofu and walnuts
  • slices of pork salami with nuts

I shall be reporting back with happy experiments with salads and smoothies soon  for now am just very satisfied with the end result and the fact that I am back to eating healthy.

Whole Masoor Dal and Tofu salad

Whole Masoor Dal and Tofu salad

At the Gourmet Burger Kitchen Chef’s Table with Peter Gordon

It’s not everyday that a celebrity Chef cooks you lunch, naturally then I was quite excited to know that would be sampling food cooked by celebrated New Zealand chef Peter Gordon. Peter was in town to cook up a feast from his new and exclusive fusion menu at Gourmet Burger Kitchen.

Peter Gordon has been dubbed “the Godfather of Fusion cuisine”. One look at the menu at any of restaurants he is associated and you know that is true.

Peter made his name as Head Chef of The Sugar Club in Wellington in the late 80s. Award-winning incarnations of The Sugar Club followed in Notting Hill and Soho.Today, he oversees the running of The Providores & Tapa Room and Kopapa in London, and Bellota and The Sugar Club in Auckland. In 2009, he was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit by HM The Queen for services to the food industry.

When GBK was first launched in 2001 by owners Adam, Greg and Brandon their aim was to introduce U.K to new and premium beef burgers . Back then to develop the very first menu they worked with fellow Kiwi  Peter Gordon – who now after 14 years is back with a fabulous new fusion menu that experiments with textures, ingredients and flavours.

It was also my first ever meal at any Chef’s Table so soon after I arrived at the Baker Street branch, we were taken to the secret kitchen which is separate from the main kitchen, this is where Tim Molema – the Head of Food at Gourmet Burger Kitchen creates his magic.

13-IMG_0996 (Copy)

L-RTim Molema – the Head of Food at GBK and Peter Gordon.

For mains we had Peter’s new creation – The Duck Confit Burger. The combination of crisp confit duck with a thick layer of creamy duck liver pâté and melting Cheddar cheese is a heavenly ménage à trois. Though there were those who were not too pleased at the mention of duck liver pâté, I was quite pleased, as I absolutely love  pâté especially when served  as a generous layer on thin, crisp toasted bread (a perfect nibble with bubbly, don,’t you think?)

05-IMG_0977 (Copy)

The crispy shallots give the burger a lovely crunch (reminded me of layered biryani with crispy fried onion) whereas the fiery ginger and apricot chilli jam is probably what gives this new invention an umami flavour, cleverly combining the rich taste of duck with the other ingredients.

07-IMG_0982 (Copy)

Encased in soft and fresh brioche buns this burger is simply irresistible.

09-IMG_0985 (Copy)

The hors-d’oeuvre of sweet potato fries was  topped with a very familiar tasting dressing – Tamarind (reminded me of Mumbai’s famous street food – Bhel!) and also a generous splattering of the Egyptian spice mixture – Dukkah – a nut free version to ensure that those with nut allergies can also enjoy it – Peter is there anything you did not think of ? Guess not 🙂

11-IMG_0990 (Copy)

For the other side dish – Fresh Summer Homeslaw, Peter has drawn inspiration from Middle eastern spices like sumac and pomegranate molasses. Sumac gives a lovely tart edge to the minty slaw while the mint and pomegranate molasses give it an unmistakable depth of flavour.

03-IMG_0975 (Copy)

04-IMG_0976 (Copy)

Every good burger should be washed down with a thick and delicious milkshake – or so I think and Peter’s creation – a Banana Biscoff milkshake is a mind-meltingly fabulous fusion of banana ice cream and Lotus Biscoff caramelised biscuits, also known as Speculoos cookies- a great way to create a fusion of flavours.

12-IMG_0991 (Copy)

To watch Peter Gordon live in action, cooking up a what he does best – create a fusion of flavours and being able to drink in the experience of being at the Chef’s table was truly memorable.

After that fabulous and exclusive Lunch preview, I spoke to Peter for an exclusive interview where he gave me an insight into the inspiration behind his new menu.

In Peter Gordon’s words, “The UK burger scene has evolved hugely over the last 14 years. It seems like every day a new burger is making headlines, so when it came to creating my own, I knew it had to be something unique to stand out. Putting my own stamp on the menu has been an exciting process and I’ve put the same care into this as I do with every dish I create for my own restaurants. Our fans are always on the lookout for the next big thing in burgers and I am confident they will agree this one is something a bit special.”

You too can get behind the scenes with Peter in the GBK kitchen with this little video clip:

Still here? There surely is a GBK branch you can get to in time for dinner today right ? All you need to do is … grab your coat and …leave!

**Peter’s Menu is now available at Gourmet Burger Kitchen restaurants nationwide.

 *With  thanks to the PR Agency and Gourmet Burger Kitchen for the invite. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.Kindly do not re-produce any images without my prior permission.

Inito – a journey into the flavours of Indian street food in London’s East End

Journey into India’s by lanes without leaving London? Yes it’s possible well at least transporting your taste buds is. Simply head to London’s east end for a treat to your senses. Located a stone’s throw away from Liverpool street, @Inito_UK has the look and feel of a really cool dhabba plus an old college canteen rolled into one.

While we waited for all our friends to arrive we were served some thick and delicious lassi, I love salted lassi and this one made me greedily want another round – it’s the kind of lassi that you will happily drink and not worry about your ‘lassi moustache’ – I almost thought I was stuck in the dhabba scene from Rang de Basanti for a minute there (which reminds me I must add a road trip to the North of India to my bucket list – with loads of stops at roadside dhabbas included and if I can do this one a motorbike – waah!!) As expected the Mango lassi was most popular choice.

1-2015-03-21 19.18.59 (Copy)

We were then served Chicken Lollipop with a mini masala dosa, the chef was generous enough to even give some dosa batter away to experiment at home to one of us. Chicken lollipop is another very popular ‘item’ on the menu in India and is very popular even as a starter for parties. Dosa stalls dot streets where dosa lovers throng to eat a variety of different dosa’s with delicious stuffing , there is at least one dosa stall to be found outside every big railway station in Mumbai.

Inito served the dosa with some delicious coriander and mint chutney.

Then came Pani- Puri – the one snack that makes me go weak in the knees. Everytime I go to Mumbai I must head to Elco Pani Puri to gobble up as many plates I can possibly stuff myself with! The pani puri was ok and much better than what I have tried elsewhere in London but amongst everything we sampled that evening I would put this at the bottom of my list. This has nothing do with the what they served per se but more to do with what type of pani puri I am accustomed to having back in Mumbai.

2-2015-03-21 20.06.46 (Copy)

Then came the bhel and the dahi chaat – both were excellent and the tamarind chutney was fab.

1-2015-03-21 20.09.26 (Copy)

Then came a huge platter with various roti- rolls – basically loads of meat or veggies with some fresh veggies and chutney stuffed inside. I loved the chicken and lamb – the meat was cooked tender and it was what I would expect in terms of taste. Reminded me of Tibbs Frankie ummm The prawn roti roll was my least favourite – I would rather have had the prawns on their own.

We were given a selection of different dips and chutneys to go with these roti-rolls, my favourite was a chewy aubergine chutney, very good. The adventurous few can even design their own roti rolls. No wonder then the Chef Saurav Nath is an award winner – he has managed to retain the authenticity of most of the dishes while coming up with clever fusion dishes like the pau slider and roti rolls.

2-Inito - samsung s5 dropbox pics1

Then came the Tikka’s – tender and succulent portions of meat, chicken and paneer- Indian cottage cheese – marinated in Awadhi spices and yoghurt and then skewered inside a tandoor. I loved the mini pau-sliders too. Highly recommend pairing the tikka’s with Bombay Blonde a blonde beer crafted specially to compliment the complex flavours of curry and a great alternative to Indian Lagers.  For those who have had Cobra beer before can order Cobra, Mongoose or Kingfisher too. I love Kingfisher especially when I am in Mumbai or Pune over summer – nothing better to help me survive temperatures upwards of 32 deg cel!

1-2015-03-21 21.20.32 (Copy)

The chef then got us some curries to try and dum-biryani. While all of us went into a frenzy clicking pictures and capturing the moment when the lid was lifted off the biryani , the air filled with the unmistakable biryani fragrance of basmati rice, spices and meat  The very thought of that steaming hot biryani  makes me salivate even now  -ummm . I had fun explaining to my one of blogger friends who had never seen anything quite like that before. Folks its worth the trek to this place just for the biryani! – Head over to my Instagram feed to check out a cool ‘biryani’ video here

2-2015-03-21 21.54.33 (Copy)

The curries were delicious and I am biased in favour of the lamb. But by this point I was ready to explode and so were the others. It was good then that some jumped at the chance to take some the curries home, I would have hated to see the food go waste.

No Indian meal is complete without some freshly made pipping hot gulab jamun and ice cream and even with full tummies , everyone did justice to the sweets. I was quite delighted to hear that the ice cream was Horlicks flavoured – Horlicks and Bournvita were my favourites while growing up and made drinking hot glasses of milk bearable. The mini Gulab Jamuns were irresistible little bite sized ones in sugar syrup. (as confirmed by my friends since I did not touch them – had vowed to stay away from sweets – whyyy???!! But I just had to try the ice cream and allowed myself as teensy weensy taster)

The rasmalai was fabulous too (as confirmed by my friends) with the right consistency and topped with pistachios and cardamom floating in a sweet thickened milk.

The best thing about going for a review dinner with blogger friends is that you have great company sorted and you hope for good food and when food is fabulous it just turns into one of those evenings that you wish would happen more often. I got to meet my friends, eat fab food, discuss things food and blogging related that only like minded folks can fathom and enjoy discussing – what more can one ask for, huh?

We were served by smiling and courteous staff and sampled a large variety of dishes from the vast menu. The Chef came and spoke to us at length and I loved chatting him up in Hindi. The food is brilliant and I would certainly  recommend anyone who wants to try fabulous melt in your mouth tikka’s , steaming hot biryani and tangy chaat – If the food managed to transport my taste buds to Mumbai then am sure they got that bit right!

The minimalist decor goes well with the street food theme and the bright wall art will have you clicking away to share pictures on Instagram – I did !

1-Inito - samsung s5 dropbox pics

*With  thanks to the PR Agency and Inito for the invite. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

 

 

MoBa – New Boulangerie with a French-Asian fusion menu opens in London

The new artisan bakery where Bánh Mì meets  Boulangerie called MoBa opened it’s doors to the public on Monday at Goodge street in London.

MoBa press day

Before I dive into the details about their unique and well thought of menu, a bit about the background – the how’s and why’s ( humm ,maybe all those hours am spending watching House M.D have started affecting the way I think – need to know the why first..)

The Paris born founding duo – Thibaut and Theodore, met while studying Hotel Management in Switzerland and then kept in touch even when their careers took to various locations across the world.  They recently moved to London with the aim of  bringing a new concept of dining to London. Though they are still in their early 20’s this duo has gained lots of experience between the two of them and have been exposed to various culinary influences.

MoBa (4) (Copy)

With a bold and fabulous new fusion menu this new casual dining spot promises to serve up interesting food, which like their lovely window display will change with the seasons. ‘MoBa’ an acronym for Modern Bakery aims to combine traditional French cooking with fresh and simple flavours from Asia – a culmination of friendship, passion for creativity and of course a shared love of good food.

The interiors are cool and fresh, the minimalist look adds a soothing touch while the sleek leather lined stools give it just the right edge.

MoBa (8) (Copy)

I also got a feel of a  bit of behind the scene the counter action – a masterclass of sorts. Thibaut Voury, one of the founders , who was managing the kitchen showed me how to make my own Bánh Mì.

MoBa press day

Because I wasn’t too keen on a heavy lunch, the naked Bánh Mì sounded good and Theodore Charoy the other founder suggested that I choose ‘Tokyo’ because of the fabulous flavours of the Salmon gravlax. He was right! I absolutely loved this mix of seasonal veg wok, Japanese lime and garlic cream served on a bed of noodles. Not only is it light and fresh it is still full of wonderful Asian flavours.

4-IMG_1016 (Copy)

I resisted having any beer but they have my favourite Asian beer – Asahi, while the other bloggers loved Bellerose – a blonde beer from Northern France.

MoBa press day

I also learnt that the word Bánh Mì was born out of a misspelling for ”pain de mie” which simply means ‘sliced bread’. This sandwich dated back to the time when French colonised Indochina, a perfect example of a fusion born out of the meeting of two very different culinary worlds.

Mo Banh Mi (6) (Copy)

The other bloggers choose the Toulouse (£7.20) which as they described as a fabulous combination of spicy mango sauce and duck confit in a traditional baguette stuffed with seasonal veg wok. It was massive and looked very delicious , I do hope to go back soon for this one.

Mo Banh Mi (4) (Copy)

Apart from the fusion menu, the Boulangerie also stocks beautiful breads and some baguettes with unusual combinations like the soya-ginger baguette which I got to take home in goody bag. I was greedily eyeing the green tea croissant while photographing the place and the mango croissant looked so tempting with the beautiful glaze over it – wow – almost irresistible!

2-IMG_1013 (Copy)

MoBa croissants (2) (Copy)

3-IMG_1014 (Copy)

Ever since I started having my matcha green tea everyday I am totally addicted to the taste of green tea and the match green tea brownies were my absolute favourite from the sweet treats we were given to sample. Of course the fusion of flavours spills over into the dessert menu too then and the exotic sounding Zen Lightning Éclair packs a punch with a strong tangy flavour while the Speculoos Mango Cheesecake is delicious too and a perfect companion with a steaming hot latte. What I loved most is that the dessert tray came lined with the MoBa ‘newspaper’ – hot off the press!

MoBa press day

MoBa is conveniently located a short walk from Goodge Street tube station and is a fabulous lunch option for lunch go-ers and would make for a great place for a casual catch up over dinner with friends too.

Don’t know about you but I think MoBa is going to kick off a new trend in London with their  fusion menu!

*With  thanks to the PR Agency and MoBa for the invite. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.All images without my watermark for ‘travelsfortaste’ are provided by the PR Agency. Kindly do not re-produce any images without prior permission.

Häagen-Daz rings in Spring Summer 2015 with captivating new flavour combinations

Last week may have forced us all to crank up the heater and go back to stews and soups, but hopefully if the weather today was any indication Spring is finally here – fingers crossed!

After a lazy Sunday spent lounging around after a stroll in the park where it felt amazing to feel the sun on my face, I deiced to allow myself a bit of indulgence. Sitting in my freezer and waiting to be eaten were 2 new flavours from Häagen-Daz – a limited edition exotic flavour  – Yuzu Citrus & Cream and a dreamy Chocolate Salted Caramel.

They were sent to me in a goody bag with a yuzu lemon juice from Waitrose which I used to season a whole fresh sea bass for dinner last Friday and some yuze scented bath bombs from Lush. Those am saving up for a quite dip in the tub sometime this coming week.

Yuzu Lemon is definitely the new citrus craze in town and in ice cream form its creamy tangy taste is quite irresistible. It’s good to know then that Häagen-Daz handpicks the exquisite Yuzu fruit from the Japanese mountains of Kôshi.

The sour hybrid of mandarin and ichang papeda is pressed fresh to deliver a juice with crisp flavour notes, reminiscent of mandarin and grapefruit. The juices are then mixed with sweet oranges to create a refreshing sauce that twists into Häagen-Dazs’ original ice cream recipe for a uniquely intense taste.

5-IMG_0958 (Copy)

The die hard chocoholics also have reason to celebrate as the new Häagen-Dazs Chocolate Salted Caramel combines the delicious chocolate ice cream with generous silky ribbons of salted caramel and delicate brittle, delivering a moment of decadence with every satisfying crunch.

To really enjoy your Häagen-Dazs allow it to rest for a while before you dive into it, just when it starts to melt is the the time when you will relish it the most. Like all their flavours, these new flavour combinations are made using 100% real milk and cream and yolks from free-range eggs.

3-IMG_0956 (Copy)

**Häagen-Dazs Yuzu Citrus & Cream is now available to purchase from Sainsburys and Waitrose and Häagen-Dazs Chocolate Salted Caramel is now available to purchase from Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Asda, Morrisons and Tesco.

*With thanks to Häagen-Dazs  and the  PR team for sending me samples for review. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. As always all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Kale, Spinach and fruity superfood smoothie

Am back with another smoothie post, this one was even better than my previous green one in that , that hubster really enjoyed it and was blissfully unaware about how much Kale he had unknowingly added into his system 🙂

Also Chia seeds are now a permanent feature of our smoothies and I add them into our porridge too, they are quite bland on their own and go with almost anything. They are a superfood and antioxidant boosting . Besides starting your day with a green smoothie keeps you going for longer, with a healthier fuller feeling which does not spike your blood sugar levels as some other sugar laden juices can do , which then suddenly lead to a crash and thus result in hunger pangs.

What’s fab about this smoothie?

  • Chia seeds are 100% natural whole grains that are rich in omega-3, antioxidants, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Great for those who have Type 2 diabetes as chia seeds can significantly lower blood pressure and a marker for inflammation.
  • Kale is rich in Vitamins K and C and is calcium, also it contains a chemical called sulforaphane which has anti cancer properties.
  • Spinach helps boost iron levels and is a rich source of various Vitamins like B2,K , C & A.
Kale, Spinach and fruity superfood smoothie

Kale, Spinach and fruity superfood smoothie

Serves: 2 – makes 4 small glass fulls

Ingredients:

  • Large handful of baby spinach leaves per person
  • Large handful of Kale leaves per person
  • Large handful of fresh raspberries per person
  •  1 Big avocado per person
  • 1/2 a pear per person
  • 1/2 of a small tetra pack of coconut water per person
  • a small knob of ginger

Method:

  • Chop the ginger into small bits after roughly removing the skin, if the ginger is super fresh you can use the back of a spoon to easily peel of the fine layer of skin.
  • Roughly chop the pear.
  • Half the avocados, remove the seed and roughly make large chunks.
  • Wash the spinach and kale under running water in a colander.
  • Simply chuck all the above ingredients into a food processor with the coconut water and add very little water just to give the smoothie some more movement while it mixes in the food processor.
How to make a delicious Green smoothie in minutes!

How to make a delicious Green smoothie in minutes!

  • Adjust the quantities according to how many servings you want to make.
  • Sprinkle with some chia seeds and a raspberry or two and drink up for a delicious and filling smoothie that will do wonders for your body and mind!

* With information gleaned off Wiki and some other useful sites and articles like here  and here. Having said that am not a nutrition expert and am trying hard to get onto a balanced diet and exercise regime and educating myself to understand superfoods, how to eat cleaner, healthier and incorporate more raw foods, how to eat the right food at the right time to reduce blood sugar and how to fight off diabetes and other obesity led disorders .

Kale, Spinach and fruity superfood smoothie

Kale, Spinach and fruity superfood smoothie