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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dinner 9/11----Happy B'day to my brother from another mother

Its been ages since I posted anything here, and I have missed it immensely. Assignments, travelling, ill health and a general laziness kept me from pouring my guts out here..

So this is just going to be an informal post dedicated to my brother who celebrated his birthday on September 11th. It also happened to be a decade since the very very unfortunate Twin Tower mishap. A heartfelt thought and prayer for all those who lost their life that day and for everyone they left behind to mourn.

But as sad this day is, it is also a happy and special celebration of life for me, in the form of the birthday of a sweet loving and adorable brother, God was kind enough to give me. Initially I had made lofty plans for a grand dinner. A bad back and a few other uncertainities came in the way of my lofty culinary ambitions and had to instead dish out a simple fare.

Recently we were on a long vacation to France. Thoroughly enjoyed the sight sound taste and smell of the beautiful country. Learnt to enjoy French cuisine, specially discovered a new found love for Mussels..:))

Anyways, so I decided to make a meal with a French connection, if you will. French Tarragon is a beautiful sweet smelling herb with a distinct flowery flavor of its own. I decided to use this herb in my main course to add  to the delicate french touch. But the problem is getting the fresh variation of this. Although our local supermarket stocks all kind of fresh hard and soft herbs, very ocassionally do they put tarragon out on the shelves. I was pretty certain I would have to go with the dried version, which is good too...but then nothing like the fresh, right?

I think it was divine intervention, when I hit the store on 10th, there it was...a nice small tray of fresh tarragon. I was so super excited I almost jumped and hugged the person standing next to me much to her shock..;)

For the first course I decided to try my hand on Cream of mushroom soup. While in Nice, we managed to buy some real good quality Black truffle oil. Its one of the most sought after culinary delights and is superlatively priced too. I can have truffle oil with simple brown bread and it takes to me heaven.

Although I would have loved to make this soup with a combination of porcini and chanterelle, the unavailability of these is a major constraint. So I had to go with  the easily available white button mushrooms which are pretty decent too. But to intensify the flavor a bit, I decided to use some dried porcini, which were soaked in warm water prior to use.

Cream of Mushroom Soup:


Approx 300 gms of finely chopped mushrooms
A handful of garlic, finely chopped too
A combination of cream and milk
black truffle oil for finishing


In a heavy bottomed pan I melted the butter, added a few drops of olive oil to prevent the butter from burning up. I then added the chopped garlic and fried for a min till translucent. Next went the finely chopped mushrooms and the two were amalgamated together with a dash of salt and pepper. Once the mushrooms were soft I added the milk and cream and slow cooked for about 15 mins. Adjusted the seasoning and took it off the heat and allowed it to cool. Once cooled down, I used a hand blender to break down the mushrooms and create a much smoother consistency. Now, at this stage, it is completely up to individual preference as to how smooth or textured you like your soup to be. I like it a little textured where I can feel little bits and pieces of shroom with every spoonful, so I stopped the blending while it was still a little grainy.

If the soup feels too thick, a little milk can be added and brought to a boil. While serving I drizzled a bit of truffle oil for instant boost in flavor. A simple soup was magically transformed into a gourmet dish...Loved it so much..:))

For the main course, since I now had both fresh and dried Tarragon, I decided to use both in the prepation of the chicken.

This is a very impromptu dish that I churned up hence will be tough providing exact measurements. I pretty much eyeballed everything but the result was quite good, much to my delight.

I used boneless chicken breast for the dish..The recipe is as follows:

Chicken in a tarragon cream sauce:


Boneless chicken breasts- 1 per person(approx 150gms each in wt)- used 2 chicken breast(300 gms)
Fresh Taraggon- a small bunch, leaves separated from the stalk and finely chopped
Half a teaspoon of dried Tarragon for the marination
One and half teaspoon of garlic paste
2 stalks of scallions
3 tbspn of dry white wine
aprrox 100 ml of full fat milk( one can use heavy cream, if you dont mind the calories)
salt and pepper
2 tbspns of regular sunflower oil
1 tspn butter


I marinated the chicken breast with the garlic paste and the whole of the dried tarragon, salt and pepper and refrigerated it for 2 hours.

After marination, I simply heated the oil in a pan, and fried the finely chopped scallions and tarragon till soft. I then added the marinated chicken and fried them on medium  heat..aprox 4 mins on each side. Since the breast pieces were quite thick, it needed a little slow cooking to be fully done. So I added a splosh of water and covered and cooked it for a bit on low heat.

Once it was done and all the water had evaporated I removed the chicken from the pan and placed on a platter. Next, I added the white wine to the pan and let it intensify the flavor and also deglaze all the dried fried bits of the chicken and the herbs from the bottom of the pan...I finished the sauce by adding milk and butter and simmering it with salt and pepper till it thickened significantly..the sauce was served in a little pot, to be poured over the chicken while eating.

I served this dish with some simply steamed french beans and carrots and a jacket potato with sour cream and butter..I sliced up some fresh garlic bread to use as a mop to soak up the excess sauce on the plate..;) was quite delicious indeed..

Hope you all will like these two recipes and will try making them..

Bon Apetit!!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dressing up the balcony....

It is a cloudy day, thankfully dry so far, in Mumbai and here I am sitting with my strong cuppa and some rice puffs made into the very Kolkata style jhaalmuri...I have picked up couple of Interior magazines from the store today and felt like lounging with them...Then on second thoughts, why not blog about this project that I undertook a month or so back..Most of you in Facebook already have seen the pictures, but then today I will write about how I went about excecuting this project..

I had just enrolled into the Interior Design program and was waiting for my study materials to arrive, and this wait was obviously killing me as I was just too keen to get started already...Impatient that I am, I decided one day while hanging in my balcony with my canvas and little bottles of paints, that why not start a live project on Interior decor at home itself? This I felt, will give me a ground of comparison after I finish my diploma, as to where I was before and what new things I learnt while doing the course...

The balcony in our apartment is fairly decent sized going by Mumbai standards. Approximately 9 ft by 3 ft. The builders were nice enough to get some intial texturing done on the walls, which gave it a rustic uneven plastered look and it was painted cream all over, walls and ceiling...the flooring was in 1 by 1 dual toned reddish/terracotta tiles. We had additionally installed french sliding doors predominantly for security and also to keep the rains from lashing inwards during monsoon. So we already were in a good place and all I had to do was build on this to further enhance the look. I wanted to go with a rustic Indian countryside look, with lot of emphasis on mud/stone and earthware..

Once the theme was decided, I went about conceptualizing the entire idea on paper....measured the walls/ceilings, took into consideration electric points and what additional wiring would be typically required to give the final look. I decided to get rid of the cream colored walls completely and opted to consult Asian paints fandeck to identify two shades that will look good together as well as with the existing floor tiles..I decided to select a deep choclate brown for most part of the walls with some grooves and panels in bright mango yellow to add contrast.

The next I needed to decide what was to be done with the ceiling. Both my hubby and me are very fond of timber panellings..and that seemed to be the perfect choice for this project to complete the look and feel. We decided that we will get the ceiling done in long planks of railway timber and then have it polished into a dark rust brown shade.

Once the major surface finish decisions were made we got in touch with our contractor to get started on the work.

There wasn't any civil work to be done, so this was at best a 5 days to a weeks work. All I needed was couple of extra electric plug points for floor lightings and accessories. So for this purpose an additional wiring was required to be done on one of the smaller walls. This took less than an hour to be done, as the ceiling already had an existing light connection.

The first job was to get the ceiling done....two workman spent 2 whole days to cut the longish planks to size and then mounted them on a flat ply which in turn was drilled and screwed to the cemented ceiling. Needless to say this was a laborious task for the guys but they did it very efficiently with lot of precision. Hanging around with them I learnt a lot too about different tool and screws andnail sizes etc.

Once the planks were in place the next job was to get them scrubbed and then machine sprayed and polished. I noticed that the men used a transparent thinner and steel wool scrubs to vigorously rub the planks and give them a rough yet polished look... since we wanted to keep the original texture and not a smooth surface finish, using an emery board was not required. A powder finish polish was then mixed with spirit and the entire surface was hand polished with soft cloth. Since we wanted a rust brown shade, three different colored powders were mixed to get the right balance in the shade. This task took the entire day and then it was allowed to dry overnight. The last step was to insert a melamine tube into the injector of the machine and then thoroughly sprayed to give an even semi-matte finish look.The combination of three colors made the color look a lot more natural and rustic.

Once this was done and dried, the next big job was to get the walls painted...The paint concentrate was diluted with water in the ration 1:3( 1 part paint to 3 parts water). Two men simultaenously started the painting, as the areas to be covered were quite spaced out. Considering the rough cemented texture of the walls, three coat of each color was required as opposed to the usual two coats to give an even toned look.

Looking at this revamped space I just couldn't believe how much that area had transformed with just  little add-ons to the surface finish...it almost had a look of a little cozy nook where one can sit and enjoy a hookah with friends at night or enjoy a cool beer on a balmy summer afternoon...I was super happy with myself with the choice of colors, textures and the overall look.

Now, anyone who loves doing up interiors will know that no look is complete without proper furnitures, soft furnishings, lighting and last but not the least, accessories to harmoniously unite the entire look..

I went here, there everywhere to find the right stuff. I was not willing to make even a single compromise on that. So needless to say much time was spent to get every single piece. The very first thing we got was a lovely assymetric lamp for the ceiling. We found the perfect one at  Fabindia...three pendants hanging from a singular point, held together by thick black cable wires. The shades themselves were in three colors made from thick handmade paper...perfect for the look of the balcony.

Next was to get the sitting arrangement done. This place was created in this way for entertaining friends in a more informal setting...so I chose to go for a gadda or floor mattress which was upholstered in a thick fabric in black with rust and light brown vertical stripes. A backrest is a must for a casual set up..so I had three big comfy cushions placed up against the wall. These were upholstered in a rust fabric...a few smaller cushions in rust, black, dark brown and orange were thrown in to give a more plush look. Couple of wall wedges were mounted on the wall much higher up to create space to display some knick knacks, artwork etc. I threw in an orange chattai or mat in front of the mattress to enhance the look further and placed a lovely metallic carved lamp in brushed metal and some ethnic candle holders along the side wall...loved the look!!!!

Now, for the other side of the balcony...we already had some cool patio table and chairs from fab India and a wall unit for trinkets and decorative pieces. These went to adorn the other side...I placed a lovely organza hand embroidered tablecoth in ornage on the table...looked classy...

Now for the accessories, which really completed the look of my rustic Indian sit-out.

 A perfect Indian piece, which we no longer get to see anymore ever since the advent of all the high tech water purifiers etc, is the good old hand pump, which are still used in the rural areas to pump out underground pure water and stored in earthen pots and buckets for drinking and household use. I found this on the shelf of a lifestyle store..almost jumped at it. This works on electricity and there is a little light on the base as well, and the water trickles through the base and is pumped up and finally finds an outlet through the small nozzle on top to get collected in a wooden bucket..PERFECTLY ZEN!!!

Earthen pots, in various sizes, a big handpainted vase with floral sticks which have in-built icicle lights, handpainted wooden boxes, floating flowers in a big open bowl and some canvas paintings made by moi completed the look.

Iam sure there are many things that could have been done differently, but I was very very happy with the outcome of this project....and it was much appreciated by everyone who has visited my house since the completion...I know for a fact that my hubby and brother have started smoking even more ever since they realized the comfort of sitting on the gadda with their legs stretched out and listening to the water trickling out from the hand pump, in the silence of the night...*sigh*..I guess one downside had to crop up from this whole endeavor...But that aside I am just happy that a little makeover made such a HUGE difference to the way my house looks..Its just pure joy and satisfaction for me...

Tell me what you think of this from the pics...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Saturday Supper Special!!!

Now I know why ardent bloggers claim that blogging can be so invigorating and a bit addictive too...This is my second post for the day. And like I said earlier, yes it is about food again!!!
It being saturday, we usually are out catching a movie or play or just out and about in the city..come evening I hate sitting around at home. But not today...I am so kicked about this new thing in my life, I didnt even feel like going anywhere..and I know Sudhi feels very thankful..lol!!! He could chill at home instead of driving us around all over in the crazy rains...

Anyways,having said that, let me get to the subject of this post...I have named it Sat Supper Special, only coz, we have not seen a supper at home on a saturday night in ages...lol!! So it's special indeed...This time when I went for groceries, I managed to get the perfect fresh mozzarella. Anyone who has dealt with this ingredient will know how critical it is to get one thats fresh and has the perfect firmness...sometimes I have purchased some and then once opened realized its too soggy and soft, the kind you can't slice. That can be such a wastage..As is, fresh mozzarella comes at a fairly high price in India, so I hate wasting any part of it.

Luckily we were fortunate to get some great quality stuff today...so ofcourse had to make a Caprese Salad, which is Sudhi's all time favorite salad.....a cheese lover that he is, he can never get enough of Caprese..and to go with I made a croissandwich with Smoked Turkey breast.

This is how I went about it:
Caprese Salad Ingredients: A big ball of fresh mozarella, a ripe tomata, few basil leaves, EVOO, salt and freshly ground pepper..
Prep method: Cut the mozarella in round slices, same for the tomatoes. Roughly chopped the basil leaves..In the plate I arranged the cheese and tomato alternately, generoulsy sprinkled the basil on top..and finished it off with a good drizzle of EVOO, salt and fresh pepper(its best to use fresh pepper from a hand held pepper mill...the pepper powder from a packet doesnot come close to packing the same punch).

Croissandwich Ingredients: A regular sized croissant, Couple of slices of roasted turkey breast or any other deli meat of your choice, lettuce leaves, emmenthal cheese( this is what I used, but you may try any other ..I think provolone and swiss will taste great as well), fresh pepper..

Prep Method:Warm the croissant slightly and with a good bread knife, slice it open through thr middle, place the meat and cheese and top it off with lettuce and sprinkle some pepper. Since some of us like the cheese melted, instead of warming the croissant in the beginning, we can place the cheese and meat in it and then micro for 20 to 30 secs on 900 watts. This is how Sudhi prefers it, but I still like the cold style more.

Voila, saturday supper ready in less than 15 mins but a very special treat indeed, if I were to go by the very very satisfied look on the face of my cheese loving hubby..;)
Have a gr8 Sunday, y'all!!

"Mumbai ka Falooda"

Posted by PicasaMy first ever blog post...and I dedicate this to the great artist, true pride of India, M.F Hussain. As this blog is going to feature lot of art work( my experiments and also interesting work of others, as and when I come across them) and also my culinary trials, its only apt that I start on this extraordinary and exciting journey into the world of blogging by honoring a great artist.

The reason I chose to make Falooda and blog about it is because that was the last thing Hussain saab wanted to have,lying in his death bed in a hospital in London. As the cheerful nurse got him the tray of one of his last lunches, he turned to his son, and said.."All I want to have is some Mumbai ka Falooda"...Reading this in the papers  I couldnot help but feel extremely sad for him....he passed away in a foreign land, far from his motherland and with an unfulfilled desire to have something as simple as Falooda...So this one is for you, Hussain saab..

Since this was my first time making Falooda, I wasnot sure inititally as to how to go about making it, as in what ingredients to buy, complexity of the process etc...Anyways, I decided finally that I will never really know till I go out and browsed around at my local grocery store...As I was strolling down the aisles at Haiko looking around at varied assortment of instant dessert mixes my eyes suddenly spotted these small transparent packets tucked away neatly in the bottom shelf. I almost spontaneously squealed out like a little kid and jumped towards the shelf...I found a multitude of options in instant falooda mix in various flavors. After much contemplation and debating I decided to pick one each of Rose and Kesar since I felt those would be most palatable to Sudhi and me...

Posted here is the Rose flavored Falooda..Why else?? Coz its PINK!!! And this blog being named after my favorite colors HAD to feature a post that had something to do with these colors...Hence, while the edible part is Pink, the accessorizing and decor has been kept in Purple to add as a contrasting shade as well as coz the two colors together make for great visual appeal...

Now for the actual process of preparing the falooda, which may I add, was child's play..
Firstly the packet ingredients:
Sugar, Vermicelli,Sabja Seeds, Nuts and raisins and permitted food color.

To make it:
Take a litre of full milk and mix it with a glass of water. To make it more figure friendly, you may skip the full cream milk and go with skimmed milk. Since the skimmed milk will be a little watery in consistency, skip adding the water. This is what I did, and trust me it tastes just as good, while being a lot less in calories too..

Anyways, going ahead...heat the milk and once its a little warm, mix in the dry ingredients and dissolve it well. Bring this to a rolling boil and simmer for 10 mins or till desired consistency is achieved. Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool...Once it aquired room temperature, I poured it out in tall glasses and refrigerated them to get all chilled and yummy and be ready to be eaten after dinner..

If you so desire, you may add ice cream, kulfi or jello to this before eating. But since we like it as is, I decided to skip on the frills..

Posted above is a picture that I collaged, of the dry ingredients(which has been plated for better visuals) as well as the finished outcome in tall crystalware..

Hope you all enjoyed this post and do try making this super simple super delish treat for yourself and your family...specially am sure the kids will just love it..
So Bon Apetit, till my next post..which in all probability will be about food too...;)