Thursday, October 25, 2012


A well made sauce enhances the flavour of any dish which is congenial to its ingredients and is either hot or cold in a runny form, can be used in the cooking or served along! That said we talk here about a few sauces that are a must have for any stylish kitchen


Before getting into a debate whether the Tomato is a fruit or vegetable, let me tell you that using fresh tomatoes always makes the best sauce. Look out for tomatoes which look fleshier (they will have less seeds), chop them finely, season with salt and freshly ground pepper or fresh green chilies and add to it the usual suspects i.e. olive oil and garlic, absolutely classic. But with a drizzle or loads of butter, it’s another thing entirely….and if you throw in some fresh basil …Voila it will enhance the flavor of the tomatoes! If you have more time on you the best is to roast tomatoes and garlic in the oven and trust me the result is incredible. Add to your pasta, dunk your bread or pour it over your head (just kidding)….Whatever seems right!!


Hang on…coulis is not just strained fruit purée with sugar; it can be made savory too with tomatoes or bell peppers. The method of mixing, sifting, straining and freezing can be applied to most fruits. Wash the chosen fruit and remove the stalks. Put the chopped fruit into a pan and add about half the amount again in sugar. Warm gently and stir constantly, trying not to break the fruit. When the sugar has dissolved into the fruit juice, take the coulis off the heat and let it cool, strain and put it into the fridge…simple isn’t it? The easiest way is to blend the fruit and icing sugar in a food processor, strain for seeds and chill. I personally like to make ice-cubes of coulis, by pouring it into moulds and leave them overnight in the freezer and next day I put the cubes in a bag, back into the freezer and use it whenever I want.


What I like about chocolate sauce is that you can add it to coffee, drizzle it on ice cream, top up pancakes, add it to smoothies, milk shakes, puddings, mix it with yogurt, with cakes etc. And to be honest it is rich and satiny, oh so chocolaty and gorgeous, and it takes less than five minutes to make. In a small pot over medium heat, stirring, bring the about 1/4th cup of milk and cream each, a tablespoon each of unsalted butter and sugar to a boil. Turn off the heat, add in approximately 3/4th cup of chocolate, leave it for a minute and whisk until smooth… serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.


Sour cream based dips are usually quite a favorite, however owing to the calorie content, most people end up feeling guilty and  No fret, don’t give up the pleasure instead whisk some lime juice with plain yogurt (which has been hung overnight). Remember to whisk it well till it reaches a sour cream consistency, add in some chopped parsley for flavour...And Hey presto you have a healthy sauce ready….serve it with some vegetable crudités, Nachos, Chips or even kebabs! I like to add in a wee bit of beetroot juice to the sauce while whisking for that delightful pink colour.


I love my cheese and eat it too; to be honest you can turn your average dish into something spectacular by adding cheese sauce on it. First make a basic white sauce by melting butter in a saucepan over low heat; stirring in flour and cooking for a minute or two, gradually stirring in milk and continue cooking over low heat, stirring constantly, until sauce begins to thicken, Finally Season with salt and pepper. This wonder sauce when added to grated cheese can be used for many recipes. The trick is to slowly add warm milk, ladle by ladle, to your Butter and flour mix to reach the correct consistency, throw in a Bay Leaf for some drama. Once the sauce is smooth, and all the milk has been stirred in, add the cheese and season with salt and freshly ground pepper as desired. And the best part is that any kind of cheese can be made into a cheese sauce…my favourite is the blue!

Published in DNA

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Humming away “It’s been a hard day’s night” whilst having a glass of “chateau Beaumont” along with my “Oven roasted Lamb rack” on my Emirates flight to Manchester, I thoroughly enjoyed my upgrade and was rejuvenated by the end of my journey. Indeed a perfect start to the Beatles town! It was the most scenic thirty minute drive from there to Liverpool. Next morning, I started my day with a visit to the Albert Dock, which is home to the “Tate Gallery”, which was quite unique and entry free, I took advantage and whisked through most exhibits but stopped to admire ones that made me slow down, the classics such as Warhol and Picasso.   The “Maritime museum” was pretty amazing too though some of it saddened me as parts of it had a focus on how many Liverpool lives were affected by the sea and by war. The Docks also housed some of the best shops as well as restaurants and bars and I had a great time. I missed trying the Duck marine tour which seemed fun. It travels around the city then goes into the dock as a boat. The dock area looks even more beautiful at night, the old brick buildings all lit up by the Mersey River.  Later I also took a guided tour of the Liverpool Football Club of its famous soccer stadium and a visit to the impressive trophy room.
Later that day, I encountered quite a few people wearing Liverpool football gear and established that there was a match on that evening at the Everton football club. It was quite infectious and I really wanted to go to the match. The main shopping area of the city was closed to traffic and the pedestrians streets allowed for a pleasant atmosphere when there with tons of people eager for the match.  
I'm not a big football fan but I do quite like Liverpool Football Club, thanks to my crazy cousin’s update on it all the time, and though this one not at LFC, I went as my cousin kept saying, “If you are ticking off the boxes of the things you have to do before you die, then watching a football match on the ground is right up there”, and I second that now. There is an overriding tranquility that transforms football-watchers from stress-merchants into serene smiling beings in a stadium. There were Everton shirts and hats and scarves everywhere and a feeling of excitement in the air and I too was jumping on every goal Everton made (my cousin asked me to cheer for it) and finally we won.

Next on the list was the nightlife hopping, and I must add here that the culture capital of Europe is party central in the evenings with many different areas around the city for one to enjoy oneself in. So first went to “Alma de Cuba”, a restored 18th century Polish church, on Seal Street, which has been converted into a lavish bar and restaurant, replete with the original altar and pews and flickering candles add to the beauty of the ambience. The place oozes upbeat Cuban, Latin American and Hispanic vibes from every pore of its stonework to its exposed wooden beam rafters and I thought it was an absolutely great place to begin my night. Though I admit at first I felt a wee bit odd at eating by the church pew, but was bowled over by the food and service which were impeccable. I have never eaten such amazing fish fingers with tartar sauce in my life….trust me!
we then hopped over to “Peacock” and being a Friday got to try some free BBQ as well. And finally moved on to “The Cavern Club” where the Fab Four have played atleast 292 times. It was in the basement of an old wine cellar along Matthew Street in the market district of Liverpool and looked like a cave inside, and people still perform there. For those who don’t know the Cavern was actually a bomb shelter at one point. I could not believe how far into the ground this famous club was but there are quite a few flights down. It was pretty much because of the Cavern Club that the Beatles became famous in Liverpool (well that and the fact that the local newspaper wrote a lot of stuff about them). Live music in the cellar was full of noise, made the air pulse and throb that carried a palpable excitement that got louder with each of the flight of stairs that descend into this venue. The place is rife with memorabilia, including John Lennon's guitars, signed posters, and an original Beatles drum set. We had a few drinks and listened to the house band performing Beatles music and very convincingly at that and we immersed ourselves in the music of decades past and as we jived, I relived the memories of my college days and my youngest cousin was amazed at the brilliance of the era, just after the birth of rock and roll! Iam positive someday this Beatles Tribute band’s claim to fame will also be the Cavern Club owing to the fact that The Fab Four has long been inducted into the history books, the band’s music survives, not only in software format but played live out here just like John, Paul, George and Ringo did back in their days. Interestingly “The Cavern Pub” right across from the Cavern features a musical museum of famous guitars and instruments throughout the venue. Truly if walls could talk, they would be screaming “oh yeah, what fun”, Them Beatles changed rock and roll and then the world and we went home humming “Strawberry fields forever”!

Published in Et travel

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


At the forefront of Canada’s culinary tourism movement, British Columbia provides food and wine lovers with highest quality products to experience the very best of local cuisine.


What can I say? If you love good food and wine, a trip to BC is a must. I felt like a local myself being greeted by the friendly restaurant staff and the opportunity to meet the chef or owner at a number of the dining establishments added tremendously to the experience. To top it all, the ice wine at the end of the meal is totally acceptable indulgence!


I was exultant at my arrival in Vancouver for the first time and was recommended a visit to Granville Island. So I hopped onto a small electric water taxi and puttered along False Creek. Edible Canada was one of those places that I had to simply try, so stopped for my first meal there and to my joy I discovered it wasn’t just a store or a restaurant, but a culinary journey and experience that brought more things to see and do along the way! I began with my lunch at the bistro; the menu was inviting and full of fresh flavours and the true commitment to sustainable ingredients and local choices seemed evident. After making myself comfortable at the nice wrap around patio I ordered my lunch. Crisp cut fries, topped with gravy, cheese and poached eggs, it looked gorgeous. I lost no time in making contact with the dish; the fries did not become a soggy mess, the toppings spread evenly on the fries, it was the most delicious ‘poutine’ ever, Simple and beautiful it married amazingly well with my ‘white wine sangria’.  Stomach happy I took a stroll through the retail store…and got lost amongst many wonderful spices, sauces and other terrific goodies to explore and yes the store offered only local, fresh and exciting items. Next was a tour of the Granville Island market, which was a great combination of serious Gourmet and the souvenir shops. I was left salivating; as a tourist my options were limited to carry things home!


FAST FACT- Edible British Columbia (now Canada) was created by Eric Pateman in the spring of 2005. Eric is a Vancouver native with a lifelong passion for food and wine. He has worked in the hospitality industry for over 15 years both as a chef and hotel consultant and has rated restaurants for the Mobil Travel Guide.



If you want to experience tranquillity, relaxation and consume glutinous delights whilst taking in some of the most beautiful scenery in BC this is the place to stay! Needless to add this is one of the most visited flower gardens in North America. I immediately grabbed the seats by the window which overlooked the Italian Garden so I could admire the stunning flowers plus it makes for a good vantage point to watch everyone coming and going through the garden. Though on offer is a full menu for lunch and dinner, I opted for the famed High Tea and I was not disappointed at all. The tea menu ran the gamut from their own special Gardens Blend of Black tea blend of Darjeeling, Black Hunan and Gunpowder, to teas with hints of fruit and flowers and the common Earl Grey and English breakfast. I went in for the Gardens Blend, highly recommended by my server, which came along with seasonal fruit, warm savouries, sandwiches, scones and pastries served on china cake stands. The smoked salmon sandwich with a maple Dijon cream cheese was a sheer delight. The scones with the true Devon shire style clotted cream and strawberry jam were the star of the show. That said I would be doing injustice If I do not talk about the quiche which was a perfect amalgam of Gruyere and buttery crust….and yes the homemade sausage roll was simply divine. The surprise was a small box of loose tea that I got to bring back home with me as a souvenir. My cousin who has tried the High tea umpteen times ordered the seared wild BC salmon fillet ‘panzanella salad’ which was no less spectacular. The Dining room is raucous most of the time as it is well patronized.


FAST FACT- Mr and Mrs Butchart named their home ‘Benvenuto’, the Italian for ‘welcome’, and they basked in the joy their gardens gave to others. Until numbers made it impossible, tea was served to all who arrived. In 1915 alone, it is reported that tea was served to 18,000 people.

I was overwhelmed with joy when I discovered the third floor terrace of The Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver which houses a secret garden oasis. The heady scent of lavender and rosemary lead me to these gates where I strolled on the paths, picked fresh herbs, sampled a wild berry, observed the visiting birds and also saw a real honey bee hive sanctuary!!! Here I found Executive Chef Dana Hauser Chef’s grazing the garden space for ingredients for that day’s dishes…now this is what I call Farm to Table! Dana ignites her devotion to fresh, sustainable, seasonal ingredients harvesting and using everything from the garden in her kitchens. Nurturing the very elements which constitute her culinary creations, and a philosophy around fresh food innovation, Hauser constructs signature dishes that combine the rooftop ingredients into authentic West Coast flavour. I tried that evening a ‘Honey Basil Collins’ along with ‘freshly picked rooftop tomato, lettuce, chives, and herbs salad’ and I couldn’t help asking the chef to share a couple of recipes….am yet to come across such a talented chef!

FAST FACT- In Vancouver, more than 60 varieties of herbs, edible blooms, fruits and vegetables are grown throughout the , With Vancouver's mild climate, the bounty is grown year round and is a significant contributor to reducing energy, emissions and showing the Hotel’s commitment to decreasing negative impacts on climate change.  The herb beds were created in 1991 on the sunny south-facing terrace balcony, and have been reinvigorated in 2012 under the guidance of Executive Chef Dana Hauser.



Yield-Makes four
Lb: lbs Peas; 1 onion: chopped; 1 tsp.: sugar; 1 Tbsp.: butter; 1 leek: chopped; 1 Tbsp.: mint chiffonade; 1 tsp.: lemon juice; 1Litre: Chicken or Vegetable Stock;
Salt and pepper: to taste.

1.    Sweat Onions and Leek in butter over Med Heat.

2.    Do not brown.

3.    Add Peas, sugar & lemon juice with cooked onions and leeks to Blender. Puree until smooth.

4.     Add Chicken Stock in increments to achieve desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh mint.

This soup can be served hot or cold. Reheating of soup will cause it to lose its vibrant colour

Yield- Makes 24 bars
2 cups: Rolled Oats; 3/4 cup: Wheat Germ; 3/4 cup: Sunflower Seeds; 3/4 cup: Pumpkin Seeds; 156 Gms: Brown Sugar; 165 Gms: Honey; 55 Gms: Butter; 7 Ml: Vanilla Extract; 200 Gms: Dried Fruit.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

1.     Toss oats, wheat germ and seeds and toast until golden.
     2.     Heat the honey, sugar and butter to a boil.

3.     Stir in the vanilla.

4.     Pour over toasted mixture and add the dried fruit.

5.     Mix thoroughly and press firmly onto tray.
Published in TLF

Thursday, October 18, 2012


They say the Ice fields Parkway is one of the most beautiful roads and it is true! The area is really nice with forest, mountains, glaciers, bighorn sheep, and bears!


The ‘Rockies’ compose mainly of two National Parks in Alberta, Banff and Jasper which are close to British Columbia border and are one of the most famous tourist destinations in western Canada. With its ranges of stunning mountain, stunning campsites, and townships similar to small European villages, I just could not leave it unexplored. 


Within the park, at Lake Louise area, the most awe-inspiring of all is the lake itself. From a common vantage point across the wide jade colour water rise two bluish mountains, I composed very clearly the whole view of the landscape in my frame, as the cloud infused backdrop of the sky completed my desire of capturing the exhilarating beauty. Nearby from where I stood while taking pictures of the lake, stands proudly the majestic Chateau Lake Louise. Originally owned and built by Canadian Pacific Railway back in the late 19th century for the purpose of enticing travellers to explore western Canada by train. The dynamics of travelling changed at the advent of highway infrastructure and airplane, so it was eventually sold. The Chateau offers an ambience of serenity and enigma. Its massive hallway, the high ceiling, the spiral steps, even its wide planks of wood used generously throughout allowed me to feel its heritage beginning.


We left Banff and drove along the Ice fields Parkway; one can even drive down from Jasper to the ice-fields. The views of the mountains, waterfalls, lakes, glaciers and wildlife along the way were simply stupendous. The main attraction here is the Athabasca Glacier and the ride in the Brewster Ice Explorer down to the glacier is a sure highlight as the bus negotiates the steep slope while the commentary from the driver certainly adds to the suspense! After a few minutes, the bus reached a clearing and we were allowed to hop off.
The icy wind was the first thing I felt before I lost my footing on the ice.  I walked around and marvelled at the colours and patterns of the ice. Apparently the water from the glacier is meant to make you look 10 years younger, so of course I filled up a bottle.


Nestled at the base of the Canadian Rockies, Calgary kept me really busy during the day. I even spotted some real cow boys and did lots of shopping like a true Indian. It gets even better at night with live music venues to quiet bars; you can find just as many places to relax. That said, for such a pluralistic Region as Alberta, the Calgary Stampede provides a powerful expression of local pride, and I would recommend visiting Calgary at this time for a fantastic experience!

BEST WAY TO REACH- Fly from Delhi to Calgary via London with British Airways. A great idea is to book in the World Traveler plus…it’s premium economy but maximum comfort in a little extra price.You can carry 2 bags of 23 Kg each even in economy class.
VISA & CURRENCY- Indians require a Canadian visa to visit Toronto. The currency used is the Canadian dollar which is approx. INR 55.

published in The Statesman