Friday, April 14, 2017


Have A Blessed Good Friday & A Happy Easter
‘I remember getting dressed in new clothes and going with Mom and Dad for Sunday service which started at 11 Am post which we had Lunch cooked by the members of the church; but my favourite part was the Sunday School at the Church where we were told interesting stories from the Bible, there used to be an Easter Hunt where real boiled eggs were hidden and we hunted for them with the given clues. We also painted eggs in school and it was a whole lot of fun’, is a really sweet anecdote, my husband Bakshish shared with me of his childhood memories of Easter…
For me as a kid, Easter had always been about Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies. I recall begging my mother to buy me an Easter egg from Flury’s when we lived in Kolkata and after that, she would buy me an egg and a chocolate bunny every Easter. I am a Hindu by birth, married into a Punjabi Christian family, got baptized after several years of my marriage in Bethany at the same spot where Jesus was baptized, ( an urge the place being so pure and blissful) and now belong to both religions, that said we as a family just follow one rule, God is one and teaches the same thing matter what religion and we celebrate all festivals with great gusto. I feel lucky to have grown up with parents who loved celebrating things and gave me the full spectrum of experiences.  You may have noticed I have inherited that sense of celebrations and fortunately for me, my husband has been brought up the same way as well.
For those who do not know, Easter Sunday is the most Exuberant of the celebrations because it holds the miracle, faith and aptitude of the Resurrection!  
I am sure you must be curious to know, how we celebrate Easter. Well, we celebrate all festivals with great gusto and as a rule believe in spreading happiness among street and Orphan kids. On Easter we distribute chocolate Easter eggs to these kids with a little goody bag and there’s no better joy when these kids give you back a smile and sometimes a kiss and our daughter Akanksha has been instilled with the same values. 
As a family of foodies , we still make our traditional food during the Holy week at home, but what has changed is that previously we used to invite friends and family over at home, but now we go out for Easter Brunch with the family, though we try and stick to traditional food ….for example this Easter we have booked a table at Bernardo’s as they have a special Goa Kerela theme and since Easter is big in both the regions, we are sure …it’s going to be an Easter well spent.
For Punjabi Christians, the traditional cuisine is very Desi…there are NO cakes or pastries. Meat Aloo curry, mutton or Jeera pulao, Raita, a Veg dish, Salad and halwa was an integral part of the meal. If it was a smaller congregation, the meal comprised of Meat curry, Jeera Pulao and Halwa and if it was a really small congregation then Puri & halwa for that perfect savoury and sweet mix.  Things have changed slightly, now instead of the church members cooking, there are caterers hired and the menu has additions of western influenced dishes like cakes and other sweetmeats.
Hubby Bakshish Dean
Makes 4 Portions
Mutton: 1 Kg; Potatoes: 400 Gms; Ghee: 125 Gms; Ginger: 20 Gms; Garlic: 20 Gms; Green chilly: 3-4 no.; Onions: 500 Gms; Tomatoes: 250 Gms; Cardamom (Black): 4 nos; cloves: 4 nos; Bay Leaves: 2 –3 nos; Black peppercorn: 2.5 Gms: Cinnamon sticks: 2 sticks; Turmeric: ½ tsp; Red chilli powder: as desired; Fresh Coriander: 25 Gms; Salt: to taste.
] Buy mutton in mixed pieces of Chaamp, Puth and Nalli
] Cut Potatoes into quarters lengthwise; finely chop ginger, garlic and green chilies.
] Finely chop onions and tomatoes.
] In handi heat ghee, add the whole Garam masala, when it crackles, add chopped ginger, garlic & green chilies. Then add mutton, onions, turmeric, red chili & salt. Fry on medium heat till light brown.
] Add Potatoes, sauté for a bit, add water (about 2 ½ cups), cover & simmer on slow flame till the mutton is tender. Remove mutton & potato pieces from gravy & keep aside. To the gravy add tomatoes and cook till it leaves oil, add about a cup of water & simmer. Put the mutton and potato pieces back into the gravy and give it a boil. Add water as per desired consistency. Check seasoning. Garnish with finely chopped coriander.
Makes 4 portions
Basmati rice: 250 Gms; Ghee: 100 Gms; Black cardamom: 2 nos; cloves: 3-4 nos; Cinnamon stick: 1 no; Bay Leaf: 1 no; Mutton with bone (Nalli): 500 Gms; ginger: 5 Gms; Garlic: 5 Gms; Green chilly: 5 Gms; Onions sliced: 125 Gms.
] Clean mutton; finely chop ginger, garlic and green chilly.
] Wash & soak rice.
] Heat Ghee in a handi, add whole Garam Masala, when it crackles, add finely chopped ginger, garlic & green chili, add the sliced onions and mutton, add salt and “Bhuno” well. Add water and simmer till mutton is almost done, adjust water so that it is double the quantity of rice, bring it to a boil, correct salt and add the soaked rice
] Stir gently to mix well, correct seasoning if required
] Cover the pan after it has gently boiled for a few minutes, lower the heat.
] Cook slowly until rice is cooked and the stock completely absorbed.
Remove and keep aside covered, rest the pulao for about 15 minutes then serve.

Clipping of  the Easter Story by Prerna Gauba in Today's HT CITY

Sunday, April 2, 2017


A step back in time to dine in the world’s oldest restaurants is a fascinating experience. 
The setting is quaint, along a medieval row of restaurants that line the Plaza Mayor. Botin is crowded with tourists and locals, it’s just crowded! Established in 1725, there is a reason this place is still in business, the food is fantastic and their service is world class and so is the wine! It is the oldest restaurant in the world and they have a Guinness book of world records certificate in the restaurants front window to prove it! The Botin experience takes one behind closed doors on a guided visit of the restaurant’s history and its anecdotes. The kitchen with clay ovens, date back to 1725, where they cook suckling pigs even now. Do peek in at Bodega and the room where Ernest Hemmingway sat to write.
City centre banqueting with the dreamy echo of a clan abode, ‘Zur Letzten Instanz’, Berlin’s oldest restaurant precisely reads into the last resort and has done a prosperous business since 1621 with such genuine indigenous fare as roast pork knuckle and Bouletten (Berlin-style meatballs) that go best with a mug of frothy beer.
On the menu is genuine and native German cuisine showcasing Berlin specialties, and interestingly each dish is baptized after a lawful process, for example‘Beweismittel’ which translates into Evidence and actually is a cabbage roll with mashed potatoes and salad. Another enjoyable creation is the ‘Zeugen-Aussage aka witness testimony’ the pork knuckle set flawlessly together with the farmhouse bread, sauerkraut, pureed split peas and smoked bacon.
Do make a stop at the No 1 rated egg tart place in town. History has it that a little before the 18th century, Catholic Monks at the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos of Belem, created this creamy dessert. As you stand in the serpentine queue outside you will discover that the service is swift, and you will move along the line very quickly. Order at least 2 tarts each and make yourselves comfortable on the table. They are decadent to the core with a warm (just out of the oven), light crispy pastry shell enclosing vanilla scented mouthful of custard which is luscious and one can choose to sprinkle it with cinnamon and powdered sugar. Definitely worth the wait…!
The restaurant has a few floors, divided into private rooms, named after various places in Oman. One is made to seat on the carpeted floor and the meal is brought on large traditional round trays to be eaten community style, just like at the home of any Arab. The highlight being the shuwa which is lamb cooked for up to two days wrapped in banana leaves in an underground clay oven while marinated in herbs and spices such as red pepper, garlic, cumin and coriander. The Mashuai aka spit roasted fish served on a bed of lemon rice is another great choice. Not to be missed is also Maqbous, a saffron flavoured rice dish cooked over white or red meat, their version of our Biryani. The other native curry dishes, based on various meats such as beef with green beans and potatoes or spicy fish in lime and coconut milk do not disappoint either.

my story first published in ET Panache Travel