Tuesday, December 24, 2013


When it comes to entertaining, "you can never be too organized!" Hope these tips help.
·       Take into account the interests of the people you are about to invite, to get an idea about the things that they would or would not enjoy.
·  Decorate the party area with loads of flowers like Marigold, Roses & Petunias.
·       Place the food, drinks at a place where everyone can go and have it without any inconvenience.
·       Fill up loads of candies, sweets and toys to distribute to the kids.
·       The party caps can have motifs of “colors” or something related.
·       Polaroid pictures are great fun at parties because they are funky, retro and most of all, instant! Your guests will have an instant personalized souvenir to remember
·       Have interesting games ; “antakshari”...for example
·       Share jokes for party fun.

On Great game is “Gift Exchange” in which you could ask your guests to bring an inexpensive wrapped gift (appropriate for both the sexes), with no gift tag on it. Have the guests draw numbers and choose a gift in numerical order. For more fun, you could give the following player have the choice of choosing a new gift, or stealing a gift from someone who has already opened his /hers.  

Sharing some Christmas recipes which become easy to make especially if you have a KitchenAid Stand mixer.


Preparation time: 20 minutes
Chilling: 30 minutes
Cooking: 10-15 minutes in batches
Makes: about 20 biscuits
Plain Flour: 225 Gms
Salt: ½ tsp
Soda Bicarb: 2 tsp
Cinnamon ground: ½ tsp
Unsalted Butter: 50 Gms
Soft Brown sugar: 100 Gms
Golden syrup/Honey: 100 Gms
Evaporated milk: 15 Gms

1.    Sift together the flour, salt, soda and spices in the KitchenAid Stand mixer.
2.    In a pan heat the butter, sugar and syrup until dissolved.
3.    Leave to cool.
4.    Mix in the dry ingredients with the evaporated milk to make the dough.
5.    Chill.
6.    Preheat oven to 190*C and grease 2 baking sheets.
7.    Roll out biscuit dough to about 5 mm thick and cut into fingers, circles or gingerbread men.
8.    Place on the baking sheets.
9.    Bake in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes.
10.Remove from oven and leave to cool slightly on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack.

I will always cherish fond memories of my aunt’s cooling trays piled high with freshly baked mince pies on Christmas Eve, ready to be packed into tins and brought out whenever friends popped in for Christmas drinks. Below is the traditional family recipe.


Preparation time: 15 minutes plus chilling
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes
Makes: 14-16
Plain flour: 225 Gms
Cold butter: Chopped
Caster or icing sugar: 50-75 Gms
Egg: 1 no
Water/milk: 15 ml
Home-made mincemeat: 425 Gms
Milk for brushing
Caster or icing sugar to decorate


1.    Sift the flour with a pinch of salt and rub in the butter in a bowl or on a cold work surface to form fine crumbs in the KitchenAid stand mixer
2.    Stir in the sugar, and then add the egg, if using or enough water or milk to make smooth dough perfectly in the KitchenAid stand mixer.
3.    Mix together and refrigerate for half an hour.

1.    Line 14-16 tartlet tins with thin discs of pastry.
2.    Spoon in some mincemeat and brush edges with milk, top with pastry lids. Chill.
3.    Preheat the oven to 200*C. Brush the tops with milk & bake for around 25 minutes.
4.    Remove and let rest for 5 minutes.
5.    Sprinkle with castor sugar during their last 5 minutes in the oven & dust with icing sugar when cooled.

P.S – If you are a vegetarian you can replace the mincemeat with minced fruit


Monday, December 16, 2013


The author has dedicated her book to her Peggy maami and Raja Maamu
Sample your Mom’s amazing Sunday mutton curry or Grandma’s awesome chocolate cake. Every family has special recipes that give that instant feeling of nostalgia. When I was growing up, it was dinner with the family every night of the week. A lot happened at that dinner table! When I first heard of ‘The Sood Family Cook Book’, I wasn’t really sure about the idea of it. The theme of this book is eating together as a family. Initially I thought the author was trying too hard, but Aparna Jain has taken the pain to archive generations of kitchen secrets and create her own recipe book, not many of us would do that…right?! 
I would say hats off to Aparna for making such an effort. (And before you ask me how come a Jain wrote the Sood Family Cook Book?.....Aparna is Sood from her maternal side). When it comes to the recipes, they are well-written (with little stories about each family member), fairly simple, and approachable. And the recipes are anything but typical. 
The tongue in a twist 'Kim' (for those who donit know, kim is a lemon )
There are all sorts or interesting and unique ingredient combinations and that’s what I like about this book. Interestingly the recipes range the gamut from the more unusual ones from the kangra Valley of Himachal like Pahaadi Gudumba, khatta to the familiar ones like Comforting Apple Crumble to spicy drumstick sambar. Only thing I felt the book is missing are pictures, that said the illustrations are great and give a comfort home feel.

I loved the way Collins (the publisher) and Aparna Jain introduced the book…over a delicious Cook Book Sampler Sunday Brunch at their farm house with each of the members having actually cooked their own recipe. 

This was a great insight to actually sample the various generations of the family (read aunts and uncles to their nieces and nephews and the newer generations favourites too) cooking ‘real’ food. By real, I mean recipes used by them at home whether they were preparing an appetizer for a party, fixing Tuesday night’s dinner or baking a cake for a birthday.
Khaandani cutlery

All in all, it was an enjoyable afternoon and I would recommend the book as I feel the contribution of community cookbooks is not to be overlooked in our country’s rich food history.

The Sood Family Cookbook is priced at INR 899
First published in India in 2013 by Collins (An Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers India)
The Book will be available in the market by 25th December

Author Aparna Jain has a post graduate degree in hospitality, moved on to technology and worked in the internet, tech and telecom space for ten years before moving on to Media. As marketing head for Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping, she was immersed in the life style space. She then joined Tehelka and was part of the core team that launched THINK.Currently she runs her own marketing and consulting and Integral –based coaching practice called Zebraa works. 
Author Aparna Jain and mois

Friday, December 13, 2013


The simplicity of original and delicate menus inspired by traditional Indian recipes is married with imagination in pursuit of the exaltation of every flavour and creative presentations. Gastronomic stop to be absolutely experienced….

The talk of the town since it opened its doors; this space has become a hot-spot for fine dining. It is none too traditional in its décor and has a very upbeat contemporary feel to it. Subdued clean lines and wooden flooring add a touch of elegance and compliment the unique fabric lighting installation on one of the walls. With welcoming seating, the décor is balanced between luxuriously chic and comfortable. Counted amongst one of the young successful restaurateurs in India today, Zorawar Kalra founder and MD of the company at the age of 35 is amalgamating his natural business acumen with a rich heritage spanning over four decades in the Indian hospitality industry. With Masala Library Zorawar has successfully established a new benchmark in the Indian fine dining restaurant sector.
The menu is extremely creative with the right balance for both non-vegetarians and vegetarians and a refreshing treat for all those who crave for good food with a difference. The faux ‘yogurt sphere’ served as an amuse bouche (a small appetite tickler) was one of my favourites, delicate and wobbly and it popped like a balloon in my mouth to reveal a juicy Matha like centre – intense and tasty papdi chaat. Another amuse ‘Wild rice sev puri on the go’ is I think the highly Instagramed dish in India…it’s served in a pretty rickshaw and happily it tastes absolutely delicious too. The ‘Wild mushroom chai’ and deconstructed ‘Pav Bhaji’ stokes your appetite for more. I guess it’s all about applying science to cooking in order to enhance the dining experience. Mains rarely disappointed either. The crowning glory was the ‘Laal Maas’ the flesh was cooked sous-vide style, and fairly melted in waves on the tongue and the khasta kachori grits with the special Mathani Mirch just enhanced the taste. 

I’d suggest share your desserts as all are gratifying running the gamut from ‘Jalebi Caviar’ served with rabri (I’d say the tastiest molecules ever) or the liquid nitrogen chilled ‘Chocolate’. However my vote goes all and all out for the ‘Ghevar Cheese cake’, it is melt in the mouth tender and decadent to the core. And yes the molecular inspired cocktails like the ‘curry patta’ and ‘star anise’ martinis are a must try.All in all, the food is excellent and everything is executed with panache and wonderful flavours. All this with a service that is so warm and attentive, that it can be described as nothing short of remarkable.

Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra,
Ground Floor, First International Financial Centre (CITI BANK Building),
G Block, Opp. Sofitel Hotel,
Bandra-Kurla Complex, Bandra (E), Mumbai – 400051
Tel: 022-66424142
Operating Hours: Open for lunch and dinner
Meal for two: INR 2,500 Without Alcohol

STARTERS: ‘Wild mushroom chai, truffle oil crumbs, dehydrated Mushrooms’, ‘Thalassery rasam, steamed basa dumpling, dosai tuile’, ‘Pesto kebab, tandoori tomato, parmesan papad’, ‘Braised mutton chaamp, maple and kokum glaze’.
MAIN COURSE: ‘Bhindi jaipuri, papad ki subzi, hand pounded churma’, ‘Laal maas, khasta kachori grits, mathani mirch’, ‘Meen moilee, baked river sole, coconut flakes’, ‘Anda bhurji kulcha, chilli glaze ‘, ‘Sheermal, saffron milk’  , ‘Bakarkhani, tangerine glaze’, ‘Taftan’.

DESSERT: ‘Jalebi caviar, saffron glaze, pistachio rabri’, ‘Ghewar cheesecake, pistachio dust, almond chikki’, ‘Chocolate’.


‘I take offence to India being portrayed as just the land of cricket and snake charmers. There’s another gorgeous, modern India too, we are comfortable with the international world, why shouldn’t our food reflect the same’?

 published in tlf 

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Tables decorated with yew, ivy and sprigs of holly. 
More candles than you thought you would ever want. 

Everything that reflects light is there for a glittery and festive atmosphere. It is strange yet wonderful watching people laughing away with friends over good food and wine, but in a quite sort of way, until the stroke of mid-night, when a kind of metamorphosis happens. Suddenly things explode, everyone starts singing, people who have never met before, and are never likely to again, start dancing, and linking arms together. They kiss one another as if they have known each other all their lives (many relationships are started on Christmas). 

If you’re the host who’ll be looking after everyone this Christmas, then check out these recipes on how to gear up in the morning and keep your party spirits high. 

The best part about these recipes is that you can make them rather quickly …thanks to KitchenAid appliances and spend more time in the day for preparing your party!

Enjoy, and have a Merry Christmas!

Assuming that you start your breakfast late on Christmas day and skip lunch in favor of a blow-out feast in the evening….
Homemade Pancakes with golden syrup. Easy to make and with a drizzle of golden syrup or honey they are just delicious.

Makes 16-24 pancakes (depends on size of the pan)
Plain flour: 225g; Eggs: 2 Nos; Milk: 600 ml; melted unsalted butter: 50g; Veg Oil: for frying; salt: a pinch
] Sift the flour and salt into the KitchenAid stand mixer bowl.

] Whisk eggs and milk into the flour. Add melted butter and whisk into the mix.
] Preheat a non-stick pan (8 inches). Lightly oil the pan and pour in some of the mixture making sure the batter is evenly and thinly spread out.
] Cook for half a minute and until golden brown. Toss the pancake and cook again for less than half a minute.
] Serve with golden syrup/honey/jam, it’s awesome.
TIP- The best time to turn a pan cake is when the bubbles burst and leave a hole.
You can even add poppy seeds in the batter for a different taste

This is a traditional Christmas morning drink. However it should be avoided if you are pregnant or elderly due to the raw egg.
Makes 1
Egg: 1 no fresh; gomme syrup: dash; Brandy: 1 fl oz; Dark Rum: 1 fl oz; Cold Milk: 51/2 fl oz; nutmeg: a pinch
] Add all ingredients except the milk in the KitchenAid cordless hand blender

 and blend well. Strain into a glassware of your choice
] Now add milk and stir, then sprinkle with fresh nutmeg.

Once you are well fed, you can start planning your Christmas feast for the evening; will take more about the planning in my next blog.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


‘Don’t miss the train’ at Sodabottleopenerwala I was told when I was just entering Cyber Hub by a friend, so kept it in mind to ensure not to miss it. Anyways, having lived in Mumbai and that too in Colaba for quite some part of my life, I always craved for an Irani café in Saadi Dilli and finally my wish comes true …
As I entered this eatery it brought back some delicious memories of living in South Bombay. I was awed by the big glass jars filled with Mawa cakes and cookies which lined up at a counter ( only thing amiss was an old man with thick spectacles behind the cookie counter) and equally by the cute eccentric set of rules on display which included ‘Outside food not allowed’, ‘ No feet on chair’,  ‘No talking loudly’, ‘No swearing’, ‘No talking to cashier’, ‘No abusing staff’, ‘No asking for discount’, ‘No wasting food’ , ‘No combing hair’, ‘No flirting’, ‘No laughing unnecessarily’, ‘No picking nose’ and ‘No address query’. And yes the little toy train just on top which does the merry go round was certainly a fun sight to watch. All in all ‘sodabottleopenerwala’ is like a time capsule of a bygone era replete with red chequered table cloths, bentwood chairs, portraits on the walls and a general air of quiet decay. Hats off to AD Singh for ideating such a place…and I must add here that I have been quite an admirer of most of his concepts.
Coming to the food, the husband and I tried almost everything on the menu. To start with first the positives, I absolutely loved each and every serving ware…oh so typical Parsee, outstanding items on the menu are refreshing ‘Limbu soda’, ‘Parsi Bheeda par Eeda’, ‘Lagan Nu custard’ and the ‘Baida Roti with Sheek’.
The Pao served with the Vada and the Kheema, I feel could be better. It does taste nice, but not like the one you would get at a ‘Jimmy Boy’ or a ‘Kyani & co’ in Mumbai, if you have been there; you will know what I mean. 


Having had the original ‘Berry Pulao’ at the legendary Britannia & Company (in Mumbai) which comes with a garnish of golden-fried onions and berries imported from Iran, (92 year old owner Boman Kohinoor keeps the recipe a guarded secret), I didn’t much care for sodabottleopenerwala ka Berry Pulao as even the berries here are not really the authentic ones. The Irani chai which is usually a thick overly milky, sweetened tea delicately flavoured with cardamom is what they need to work on too. Mohit Balachandran who runs this place (read with great gusto) took the feedback very well and ensured me that he absolutely knows the teething issues and is ensuring to make this place rock in terms of total authenticity in the food too…City’s foodies are already coming here in droves and more often than not there is a huge waiting outside the restaurant.
Ground Floor (it's closes to the main entrance), DLF Cyber Hub, Next to Building No. 8, Cyber City, Phase-II, Gurgaon
Timings: 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
To Reserve: (0124) 6518801; (+91) 8527636633
Meal for two: INR 1,200 approx. The restaurant does not have an alcohol licence yet.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Flavours of Kashmir @Saffron, Trident-Gurgaon

For Sandeep Kalra Executive Chef at Trident, Gurgaon, 'good food is one that touches the soul'. He believes in using the best ingredients, keeping flavours simple and authentic and follows highest standards of presentation. Each dish, for him, has to be a work of art. 
At one of his restaurants ‘Saffron’, the aim of the chef is to bring the guests a cuisine which is just as fine as the spice…! On offer are authentic dishes from North India- recipes from the Mughal courts, the walled city of Delhi, cuisine of the Nawabs of Lucknow, the vibrant flavours of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh and the delectable cuisine of Kashmir. This time round Saffron has on board Chef Rehman and his team of Wazas all the way from Kashmir to showcase a taste of paradise and this festival is on until the 8th of December.
As for me I committed the sin of gluttony by overeating an A La carte meal for dinner and not only that I even took a recipe from Chef Sandeep Kalra and Chef Rehman to share with my readers ( read make later myself too )and they were kind enough to oblige.

Here goes....
Lamb Ribs : 1kg (full fillet); Water: 5-6 lit; Garlic paste: 15 gms; Salt : to taste; Cold water: 3 lit; Dry ginger powder: 5 gms; cloves : 8 nos; Black cardamom: 8 nos; Turmeric powder: 10 gms; Pure ghee: 500 gms
Bring the water to boil add the ribs, continue to boil, removing the scum that rises into the surface. Repeat until the water is clear. Boil covered till the ribs are half done. Add garlic and mix well, continue to boil for another minutes. Add the salt and boil covered. Continuouslyuntil the membrane between the ribs can be pierced with the thumbs. Remove the pan from heat and drain the water. Cool the ribs in a pan with cold water and keep aside. Chop the ribs with chopper into rectangular pieces of 2*1 inches approx. Boil the water in which the ribs were washed. Add the chop ribs, Salt, dry ginger, cloves, black cardamom and turmeric powder, mix well. Let it boil until the bones can be extracted from the membranes easily. Remove the pan from heat and take out the ribs with a slotted spoon. Keep aside and discard the water. Arrange the ribs in a large frying pan , so that they don’t overlap. Pour the pure ghee on them. Fry until they are reddish brown overall. Turn Ocassionally. Drain out pure ghee before serving.

If the cold winter winds of Delhi are reminding you of crossing the Changla Pass you must head to Saffron at Trident Gurgaon as they bring to you the perfect ambiance and food to warm your heart at the on-going Kashmiri food festival which gets over on the 8th of December
Saffron, Trident Gurgaon. 443, Udyog Vihar, Phase V, Gurgaon 122 016.
Tel: 0124 412 4307
Timings: Lunch - 12:30pm - 3:00 pm. Dinner - 7:30 pm to 11:30 pm.
Cost: Meal for two approx. 3600, all inclusive without alcohol.