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{Eating Out} Rivaayat – Reviving traditional Indian cuisine, Kanak, Trident

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Happy New Year my dearest readers! I hope the year has begun well for you and that the rest if it will bring to us all the love of friends and family, good food and warmth in our hearts, especially in these uncertain times.

I have no personal goals for this year, like the one before because I find them pointless. So no, I am not going to be losing weight, or eating in moderation or earning more. I want to live in the moment and savour it, a little more consciously than I already do.

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Kanak, the award winning Indian restaurant nestled at Trident Hyderabad, under the stewardship of the delightful Manik Magotra is bringing their much appreciated Food Festival Rivaayat back to the city for the third time. The festival showcases celebrated recipes from the regions of Awadh, Punjab, New Delhi and Hyderabad.

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I was invited to sample a few of the offerings at a preview and I must say that Kanak continues to keep its position as one of my favoured Indian dining places.

Chef Praful who is at the helm of the kitchen this time talked about how some old favourites from the previous few outings have been retained and a few new ones added. The emphasis was on allowing a couple of star ingredients to shine without overpowering it with heavy duty masalas which is what most people associate Indian cooking with these days.

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The carefully curated menu has a bit of everything. We started with an array of appetizers. Aloo Kachalu a light salad like dish made from boiled and tempered potato and colocasia, sprinkled with steamed black eyed peas, roasted nuts and a spicy chutney. The chutney brought together all the flavours and did not over power everything else. Even someone who is not very fond of the usually slimy colocasia will enjoy this light appetiser.

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Khumb ki galavat a vegetarian rendition of the famous galauti kebab, was true to its name, melt in the mouth. It was hard to tell that this was a vegetarian rendition as the flavours and texture was EXACTLY like the meat version. This was the standout appetiser of the evening.

For the non vegetarian options, we were served Khatti kairi ka Rampuri jhinga, prawns marinated in yogurt and raw mango and then cooked in a tandoor. I have a severe food allergy to prawns so I did not taste this, but my fellow diners enjoyed this very much, saying the flavours were so sublte that it was sublime.

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Lagan ki Boti, lamb kebabs braised with nuts and caramelised onions was a dish where technique stood out. It was hard to miss the subtle spices, marinating the meat for a long time, slow cooked to a state where it simply gave under the pressure of the fork, I could also taste the desi ghee in this dish which added such a depth of flavour to the lamb along with the sweetness from the slow caramelised onion. This is a dish that combines the best of traditional Indian cooking, ample marination and slow cooking. A stand out dish for meat lovers.

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The main course that followed had Mahi Kaliya I have mentioned earlier that brought up on a strongly spiced and tamarind infused Andhra style fish curry, I welcome the lightly spiced Kaliya where the fish stands out. The fish used was Bekti and the light stew of ground onions, with just a spot of tamarind to give it a slight tang was refreshing.

Puran Singh ke dhabe wali chicken curry while is a mouthful to say, this simple home style chicken curry with a runny gravy is perfect to mop up with fresh naans or a light pulav. If you are missing homestyle chicken this is the dish to order. I am always delighted when the chicken used is tender and succulent as opposed to the rather tough cuts of meat one usually encounters these days.

For a person who has never met a Sarson ka saag I have liked, I was happy to be proven wrong with this. The pureed mustard greens, tempered with simple spices in ghee and eaten with Makki ki roti which is a flatbread made with coarsely ground corn meal was fresh and rustic. This winter speciality from Punjab is much celebrated on the interwebs and each time I heard its praises, I wondered what the big deal was because I had always tasted poorly made versions. This version I must admit made me take back all my words. Comforting and flavourful, don’t miss this dish if you are a lover of your greens.

Baingan ka bharta, smoked brinjals, cooked down to a mash, in a gravy of onion, garlic and tomatoes again is a dish that is popular, but not everyone gets right. This one was so well made that the smoky flavour was subtle enough to remind one of how it was prepared, but not loud enough to dominate.

We also had home style Lucknowi dal, channa dal made very simply with a mild tempering, Punjabi matar pulao, a rice dish that is generous, flavoured with caramelised onion and fresh peas, it lends itself to the star curries and doesnt draw attention to itself. I also had a sheermal from the assorted breads on offer, simply to try something other than a regular naan or tandoori roti.

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The meal ended on a sweet note with Gulab phirnee, a rice pudding flavoured with fresh rose petals which was not too sweet and hence such a nice change from the usually sugar loaded Indian desserts. The Dry fruit halwa was studded with blanched dried nuts, figs and a whole host of other dried fruit, poppy seeds, etc. and I did a double take when I read in the description that it contained bottle gourd, because I could taste none of it. Again not overpoweringly sweet and hence I was able to guiltlessly demolish two entire pieces of this rich halwa.

The underlying theme of the meal was subltety. No overpowering masalas, no power games with cooking techniques. Just back to basics and giving in completely to old world slow cooking.

Rivaayat has been well received in its previous outings and will am sure be enjoyed this time as well. The festival is on until the 25th of January and is open only for dinner, menu offers A la carte options.

The promotional is on till the 25th of January 2017. Do not miss this!

Rivaayat, at Kanak, Trident, Hyderabad

Recommendations: Khumbh ki gahlavat, Lagabn kiosk bout, Mahi kaliya, Sarson ka saag, dry fruit halwa

Timing: 7.30 pm to midnight.
Location: Hitech City, Hyderabad
Credit Card Accepted: Yes
Valet Parking: Available
Telephone: 91 40 6623 2323

Pear and Ginger Cake

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A few years ago, a blogger friend Finla posted a picture of a beautiful pear cake. I asked for the recipe and meant to make it soon. It has taken me almost 2 years. Every time I would buy pears, I’d imagine that beautiful cake, then life would take over and they would languish in the fruit bowl, or perish in the fridge and no cake would be made.

Last week, I had a day to myself and the choice was between making gulab jamoon from a packet mix I got for free with something else or baking a cake. I was on a roll that day, I had to make a cake for my driver’s daughter and decided it was the right muhurtham to make the  pear cake.

The batter is pretty straight forward and comes together quite easily with standard baking ingredients. It was similar to the strawberry cake that took the blogging and instagramming world by storm a couple of years ago. It was one of the most beautiful batters I have made. One can make out that it is going to be a lovely cake just by looking at the batter after a few years of baking.

Finla’s recipe calls for fresh ginger, I didn’t have any so I used dried ginger. Fresh would have tasted way better, but this cake would have never gotten baked if I had waited to go get some! Her recipe was in weight measures, but I always use cups, so everything has been converted for cup measures.

The hint of citrus from the orange juice and the ginger gives this cake beautiful undertones. The combination of a buttery batter, pear, orange and ginger is a really good one. In her recipe, Finla topped it with a chocolate ganache, I skipped that because I loved the cake on its own, plus I am not the world’s biggest chocolate fan! Try this cake for when you want a light snack for tea time, or to pack into your child’s lunch box. Am sure you will love it!

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Pear and Ginger cake

2 tsp fresh ginger grated (I used powdered dried ginger)

2 ripe pears

2/3 cup soft butter + extra for the pan

1 tablespoon lemon zest (I used orange zest)

1/4 cup Orange juice (I added this the original recipe did not have this)

2/3 cup Sugar (can use light brown, I used white)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla essence/ extract

1/2 cup milk

1 cup flour + extra for dusting the pan

1.5 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoon Almond meal (I did not add this)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and butter and line a baking pan with baking paper. I used a 7×7 inch square pan.

Peel and slice the pears, sprinkle with a few teaspoons of the lemon/orange juice and set aside.

Whisk the butter and sugar till pale, fluffy and doubled in volume. Don’t skip this step because it ensures that your cake rises well and is fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well in between. Add the vanilla, orange / lemon zest and ginger, whisk well.

Mix the orange juice with the milk and set aside. In a bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder and salt, mix in the almond meal if using. Add the flour mix and milk alternatively into the butter and eggs mixture and gently fold using a spatula. Make sure not to over-mix the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, arrange the pear slices on top and bake for 40-45 minutes at 180 C till done or a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Cool completely, dust with icing sugar or chocolate sauce and serve.

This cake stays fresh at room temperature for 2 days. Because of the fresh pears, it is best to refrigerate it if keeping for any longer.
Gently reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds before serving.

{Eating Out} Coast to Coast – Amara, Trident

After a really long hiatus from all things blogging and specifically all things food review, I found myself seated at Amara, at Trident Hyderabad. This is one of my favourite hotels, I have dined here multiple times at all of their restaurants. Trident has always been experimental about bringing new food experiences to the city and has done so admirably.

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Chef Manik welcomed me at the entrance and we chatted a bit, him telling me he hadn’t seen me in ‘forever’ and I telling him of my woes with Sage. The restaurant was buzzing, it being Thanksgiving day and I was pleasantly surprised to know that the festival was celebrating food from the world over. I must say that I didn’t expect that, I expected the food from the Indian coast, this was taking it to another level altogether. While the promotion widely showcases the Indian coastline, there are dishes from the Japan and Phuket in the far east to the Marseilles coast, Palermo in Italy), Sicily, the West Coast of America and the celebrated food from the Caribbean Islands.

At buffets (the promotion is on for their regular dinner buffet at Amara till the 30th of Nov. 2016) I usually skip the stock dishes and check out what is new. Buffets are easy to get lost at, the spread is huge and usually not as enticing as ordering A la carte.

Interspersed with the familiar, were some kick ass specialties from the coasts of the world in all the courses.

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Starting with the huge display of sea produce at the sea food bar, there were oysters and humongous crabs. I skipped the soup section altogether and headed for the appetizers and salad.

Among the appetizers, I enjoyed the Hawaiian Salmon Tartare, it was served up in cute little glasses, fresh flavours and very light. Kerala fried fish was the next dish that stood out. They also had sea food ceviche and a shrimp cocktail which my fellow dinner guests loved but I did not try since I am allergic to shrimp. They also had a non coastal spread, the koshumbari from the salads and beetroot chaap, salt and pepper vegetables stood out. There is a live chaat counter and a grilling station. I tried some grill fish which was so fresh and bursting with flavour.

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For the main course, they had a diverse array of dishes. The Gulf coast seafood stew was my absolute favourite. The light stew with the assorted sea food was delicious, allowing the flavours of the ingredients to shine through without overpowering spices or seasoning. Those familiar with Indian style of preparing seafood will know that we usually douse it in masala, so this was very palette pleasing, I went back for seconds.

The Phuket Massaman curry with chicken was the other dish I truly enjoyed, subtle Thai flavours in a creamy coconut gravy. There was also the Islanders Goat curry, which was flavourful but the meat a little chewy and a couple of other dishes I didn’t try. I also confess that this buffet may not be suited to vegetarians (there is plenty of regular food on the buffet tho) because of the seafood galore! From the Indian dishes I really enjoyed the Bengali Doi Mach and Goan Lamb Xacuti. All of these paired well with plain steamed rice, there was also an assortment of both Indian and other breads.

For the vegetarians there was Pad thai and a Sicilian port caponate which looked good.

There is also a live pasta counter if you are so inclined, like I mentioned, the array is huge, tipped in favour of the seafood lover tho.

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The dessert assortment, which is my first love at a buffet was huge.

They had an extremely well made Creme brulee, pastries and a lot of Indian sweets, including my favourite kaddu ka kheer, the lemony passion fruit mousse and banana foster which was outstanding!

The promotional is on till the 30th of Nov 2016. Do not miss this!

Coast to Coast at Amara, Trident, Hyderabad

Recommendations: Hawaiian Salmon Tartare Salad, Goan Xacuti, Gulf coast seafood stew and Phuket massaman curry (main course), Banana foster and passion fruit mousse (dessert)

Timing: 7.30 pm to midnight.
Location: Hitech City, Hyderabad
Credit Card Accepted: Yes
Valet Parking: Available
Telephone: 91 40 6623 2323

 

Coffee Choco Chip Muffins

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I maintain that I am not fully awake and ready to function each morning unless I have my cup of coffee. I am also a tiny bit particular that the milk should be freshly boiled and the decoction freshly brewed. I didn’t realise how important this was to me until a few years ago, on a trip to Bangalore, I stayed with my cousin. She offered to make my coffee. What followed is a tale I cannot forget. I watched her take milk from the fridge, heat it, add decoction that was sitting on the counter top, it wasn’t strong enough, so in went some instant coffee, mixed in some sugar and handed it to me. I tried my best to drink it. Telling myself it was just coffee. I failed and the coffee met the kitchen sink after a few laboured sips. She now laughs and asks me to make my own coffee when I visit!

It is my daily ritual, my start of the day and is kind of sacred. I set the filter with two scoops of coffee powder, add the hot water, soak Sage’s food and go for a walk with him. By the time we come back 20-30 minutes later, he is ready for his first meal of the day and I look forward to my coffee and morning peace.

Some days the coffee doesn’t turn out right. For no fathomable reason. I am decidedly irritated for the first hour on such days. I call them the ‘curse of coffee’ or ‘Kaapi shraabam’ days. You don’t want to meet me early in the morning on such days!

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I recently introduced a 6 day baking course at my studio. I get several requests for longer than my current one day basic class and decided to try it out. We tackle a different kind of bake in more detail than my one day class. One day is cookies, one day cupcakes and so on. Since a lot of my students come back for classes, I try not to repeat the items being taught. They appreciate the variety and I don’t get bored.

In last month’s class we made these beautiful Coffee Choco Chip Muffins. I am not big on chocolate, I have said it numerous times. Yet anything well made with chocolate is always welcome. This blog itself has a tonne of chocolate recipes. This one is a sure keeper. Best for when you have guests over for chai/ coffee or to add to a picnic / travel bag. These are easy to make and are very moist. I like to keep them for a day before eating them so that the flavours are nicely infused.
Try them and do let me know how you liked these muffins.


 Coffee Chocolate chip muffins (Makes 8)    

1.5 cups  Maida / All purpose flour  

1/2 cup  Choco chips  

1 teaspoon  baking powder  

1/2 teaspoon  baking soda  1/2 teaspoon  salt  

1/4 cup  vegetable oil  

1 medium  egg or ¼ cup yogurt  

1/2 cup  milk  

2/3 cup  sugar  

1 teaspoon  vanilla essence

1 tablespoon Instant coffee powder (reduce if you prefer it milder)

  • Sift the flour with the baking powder, soda and salt. Add the choco chips and set  aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees  Celsius
  • Whisk together the milk, egg or yogurt, vanilla, oil and sugar till the sugar has completely  dissolves.  
  • Add the flour in two parts, mix gently till the batter is formed. It will be a thick  batter.
  • Spoon into the muffin liners, fill ⅔ of the liner only.  
  • Bake for 25­-27 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  • Cool for 10 minutes before serving. Can store upto 7 days if refrigerated, cool  completely before storing.   
  • Instead of choco chips, use any chopped chocolate, or nuts

 

Garlic Rolls in a Convection Oven

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I posted this picture on instagram, and got so many comments about not being able to trust a convection oven to make bread/ cake and cookies.

 First things first, there are a lot of misconceptions about using a convection oven in India. Most low end models of convection ovens usually come in combination with a microwave and hence a lot of people feel they own a microwave oven and cannot bake in it. Higher end convection ovens are mostly stand alone ones. Check your oven user manual to find out how your’s works. These are observations I have made based on interactions with students and participants from my baking classes and I am hoping to debunk a few myths.

  • A convection oven is an oven which heats up using electric coil or a heating element, similar to an OTG. The difference is that in addition, convection ovens have a fan built in, which distributes the heat evenly. This means that heating is far more efficient in a convection oven when compared to an OTG. However in India, there is a feeling among users, that only OTGs (oven toaster griller) have the ability to bake cakes and cookies or bake them better than convection ovens. This is not true.
  • To use a convection oven, firstly read the manual thoroughly. Each oven functions differently and hearsay about what a friend / neighbour uses is mostly not helpful. If anything it only serves to confuse, unless validated with data.
  • To use your oven, you need to identify three functions and their controls in your oven. Thermostat – to set the temperature, Timer – to choose the time for baking, Preheat function – to preheat your oven, sometimes this is the power button or the start button if your oven does not have a separate preheat button.
  • Check if the thermostat is functioning efficiently. To do this, you can use an oven thermometer and place it inside the oven, after preheating, check if the thermometer is showing the same temperature as the thermostat indicates. If it shows a variation more than 5-10 degrees, get a technician to calibrate the oven and check again. Do not resort to guess work as it can lead to disastrous baking results. Get your oven fixed rather than trying to work around a heating problem.
  • Also, since most combination convection microwave ovens come with a turntable, it is important to place the wire tripod (usually provided with the oven) on the turntable and place the baking pan ON TOP of the wire rack. The heat needs to get to the baking pan from all sides. When the baking pan is placed on top of the turntable without any height, the bottom cooks poorly.
  • Once the oven is placed in the convection mode, oven proof utensils can be used. These include metal, aluminum, silicone, bake proof glass and paper.
  • One issue which most people complain about is that a convection oven does not result in a crust/ browning the way an OTG does. This is true, only because of the distribution of heat via the fan. To get a deeper coloured result, turn on the overhead grill in your convection oven for the last 1 minute of baking. Anything more and it will dry out your cake.
  • Unless the oven is overheating or underheating, do not change the baking temperature for any recipe. Follow the temperature and baking time as specified by the recipe instructions.
  • The key to getting the best results from your oven, no matter what kind it is, is PRACTICE. The more you bake, the more comfortable you get with your oven and its functions. All ovens are different and they do give varying results. But to solely blame the oven for a baking disaster is not correct. Many times, when probed, my students who complain about not getting proper results with a convection oven will confess that they messed up the recipe and then blamed the oven.
  • Baking is a science, mostly chemistry. It is the combination of the right proportion of Wet + Dry ingredients, combined with a rising agent and exposed to a certain amount of heat. An error in any of these elements will result in a bad product. I will do a baking 101 soon.

Garlic bread rolls recipe (Makes 12 rolls)

3 cups flour ( I used 1.5 cups wheat flour + 1.5 cups all purpose flour)

1 teaspoon active dried yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup warm milk (temperature of the milk should be about 95-97 degrees F – when you place your finger in the liquid, it should feel a few degrees warmer than your body temperature. Any hotter and you will kill the yeast)

1.5 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons soft butter

3-4 pods of fresh garlic, grated or use 1 tablespoon of garlic powder

1 tablespoon herbs of choice (optional, use dried or fresh)

room temperature water as needed (about 2/3 cup)

1/4-1/2 cup dry flour for kneading

Method: warm the milk and add the sugar and yeast to it. Stir and set aside for 10 minutes. The yeast should froth up and form a foam like cappuccino. If this does not happen, wait a few more minutes. If there is no frothing, it is safe to assume that the yeast is either inactive or that the water is too hot. Discard the mixture and start again. If it does not work the second time as well, get a fresh batch of yeast.

Measure the flour in a large bowl, add the salt and garlic to the bowl and mix with your fingers. Add the herbs also if using.

Once the yeast has frothed up, add the milk to the flour and combine to make a dough. Add extra water, at room temperature, to make a dough that feels a little soft and sticky. The dough should be much softer and wetter than roti dough. Do not be tempted to add dry flour to this mixture.

Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

On a clean and dry surface, sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of dry flour, dump the dough onto the surface and knead with your hands for 10 minutes. At first the dough will be very sticky and difficult to manage. But resist the temptation to add more dry flour. Add the butter and oil a little at a time to create a smooth and elastic dough. Use only half the dry flour and only IF needed. When you touch the dough, it should feel rubbery to the touch once kneaded. Roughly 10 minutes of kneading should be sufficient.

to check if the dough is ready, take a small marble sized piece and roll it into a ball. Gently spread it between your fingers to see if it spreads without tearing. If it tears too easily, the dough needs to be kneaded some more.

Spread a little oil on a clean bowl, shape the dough into a round and place it in the oiled bowl. Cover with clingfilm or a damp cloth. Leave it to rise in a warm spot which doesnt get direct breeze for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the weather and how warm your kitchen is.

The dough should become double in size. If you are unsure, just place the dough in a plastic see through container. On the outside, take a ruler and mark the inches. When you place the dough, if it is at 4 inches, it should come up to 8 inches when it is ready. When you place the dough in the container if it was at 3 inches, it should come up to 6inches. Etc.

Once the dough has risen, gently turn it onto a kneading surface. Press out the air gently and divide into 12 equal pieces. Shape them into balls, ensuring to press and seal the loose ends at the bottom. Repeat with all the dough balls.

Prepare a 9 inch round or square baking pan by brushing it with melted butter or oil. Place an aluminum foil at the bottom of the baking pan and brush this too with oil/ melted butter. This is optional, but makes for an easy clean up and prevents the rolls from sticking to the pan.

Place the shaped rolls 1 inch apart in the baking pan. Cover with a damp cloth or clingfilm and leave in a warm spot for 30 minutes to rise to double. The space between the rolls should be filled with the plumped up dough. The tops can be brushed with a beaten egg, I skipped this step. This egg wash gives a deep browning to the top.

Preheat your oven to 200 Degrees Celsius. Place the metal baking rack in the middle of the oven. Place the baking pan with the rolls on this. Close the oven door and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Check the doneness at 25 minutes, by gently opening the oven door & checking the rolls. They should have a uniform golden brown top. If they are still pale, continue to bake for 3-4 minutes.

Remove from the oven and place the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Brush the hot rolls with melted butter. Remove the rolls gently from the pan by turning the pan upside down onto a rack or a plate, cover with a dry clean kitchen cloth and cool another 5 minutes.

Enjoy the rolls warm with butter or a gravy curry/ stew or soup.

Home made bread will dry out if left exposed. Cover with a clean dry cloth until needed. Do not put the hot rolls in a closed container, they will steam and get soggy.

To store leftovers, either wrap with clingfilm and store, or place it on paper towels and then put it in an airtight container. Always refrigerate bread if not using within 24 hours.

I would love to answer any questions you may have for this recipe. If you have read this far, then thank you for your patience. If you try this out, please send me a picture of your bread rolls.

Happy baking!

Salted Caramel and Ganache Brownie Trifles

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Last week, I introduced a new class at the Studio. Try as I might, to juggle all the classes I run because they are popular and the ones I . want to do because I love teaching them, I fail to accommodate new ones as often as I would like to.

This week, I decided I would sacrifice one of the more popular ones for one that I have been wanting to do ever since everything stuffed into glass jars of all sizes and shapes became the rage. So anyway, I chose a few things that I had not taught before, because a large part of my students do come for multiple classes and I feel guilty if they’re learning something similar to what they’ve already done.

The Brownie trifle is fairly easy. One can make all the components well ahead of time and assemble them as and when needed. That’s the beauty of pre portioned desserts. Serving it up too is absolutely mess free.

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There are four components to this dessert – the brownie (pick your favourite one or use the recipe below), salted caramel sauce, simple chocolate ganache and whipped cream. Add or remove any element you don’t have or don’t like and voila! God level dessert at your fingertips!

Chocolate Brownie (Makes a flat 9 inch brownie)

100 grams Dark chocolate (melted)

½ cup Butter

¾ cup Brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon Instant Coffee powder

2 teaspoons vanilla essence

1 cup Flour (maida)

½ teaspoon Baking powder

½ teaspoon Salt

2 tablespoons Cocoa powder

Sift the maida with baking powder, salt and cocoa powder and set aside.

Add the melted chocolate and butter to a bowl and microwave it for 1 minute or till melted.

Add the sugar and stir. When cooled off a bit, add the eggs and vanilla and beat really well.

Stir in the flour mixture, mix gently without over mixing to form a thick batter. Pour into a greased and lined 9 inch pan.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 25-26 minutes.

Cool before cutting into pieces for the dessert.

Salted Caramel Sauce (Makes 1 ½ cups)

1/3 cup salted butter

½ cup cream

1 cup fine castor sugar

2 tablespoons water

In a heavy bottom saucepan, heat the water and sugar till it comes to a bubble. Do this on low heat, do not stir. Shake the pan if needed. Keep cooking on the lowest heat till the sugar starts to caramelise a light golden colour. Take care not to burn the sugar.

Turn off the heat once it becomes golden and add the butter to it. Mix gently with a whisk to melt the butter. Then add the cream and mix. Return to the lowest heat and mix till it everything has mixed well. Take it off the heat and cool completely before using. It will become thicker as it cools.

Chocolate Ganache (Makes 1 cup)

1 cup Cream + ⅛ cup milk

1 cup Chopped Dark chocolate

Heat the cream till it bubbles, do not boil. Add the chopped chocolate to the cream, mix gently and set aside. The heat of the cream will melt the chocolate. Once it has come to room temperature, gently mix to make sure there are no lumps. Use as needed.

2 Cups Sweetened Whipped Cream

1 cup Heavy whipping cream

4-6 teaspoons confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon Vanilla essence

A pinch of salt

Chill the cream overnight. Chill a stainless steel bowl and the beaters of the hand whisk as well. Shake the cream in the unopened carton well and pour into the chilled bowl. Beat on medium speed till it begins to form soft peaks. Add the salt, sugar and vanilla and beat till it forms stiff peaks. Transfer to a piping bag with a star nozzle fitted (optional) and refrigerate until needed.

To assemble the dessert

Chop the brownie into bite sized pieces. Have all the ingredients ready. Add the whipped cream into a piping bag with a star nozzle.

Add one layer of brownie pieces to the glass jar, drizzle some chocolate ganache, Add 2 tablespoons of caramel sauce and top with whipped cream.

Repeat with another layer. Drizzle some more caramel sauce on the top for garnish.

Chill at least 30 minutes before serving.

Eating Out ~ Flavours of Malaysia, Okra, Marriott Hyderabad

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I am partial to Asian food, not that I have eaten it all, also since I am nothing but honest, maybe not the most authentic either. On the whole I do feel that Asian food, especially east Asian, is multi layered. There are so many flavours and ingredients, each one treated differently in each of the dishes they lend themselves to. I love the fresh citrusy bursts as much as the chilli and spice kicks, and the sweet notes in between!

Malaysia is one country that has eluded me despite having family there and receiving endless invitations from them. I’ve heard so much about how much I would enjoy it because it is truly the melting pot of Asia and has so much to offer for the foodie in me (almost an abuse these days!). So when I had an invite to sample the food of Malaysia, prepared by a chef who was flown in especially for the food festival, I was delighted to accept.

The Marriott Hotel and Convention Centre has been hosting some wonderfully curated food over the last few months. Read all about my previous experiences here and here. It is always nice to get to sample food that is less common and wins special brownie point from me  for the effort of Chef Yogi and his team for this.

The blogger’s table began with a very elaborate plate of assorted starters. The attention to detail in the selection of dishes was something that I enjoyed. The starters included that classic Malaysian street food, chicken satay – strips of marinated chicken, skewered and grilled and served with a peanut sauce. This was sweeter than I have ever tasted, but not in a bad way.

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The Bergedil Ikan (fish patty) in the appetizer platter

The Bergedil Ikan, had to be one of my favourites. It is a patty made of potato and fish, well seasoned with shallots and chilli paste.

Kerabu kambing (sliced lamb) was tender and succulent and I loved the flavour of the lemongrass which came through.

There were also two salads for the vegetarians, the Kerabu kacang kudasald which is a combination of chick peas, cucumber, coriander and tomatoes with lime and vinegar dressing and Rojak which was fresh fruit tossed with sauces and peanuts

The main course was quite elaborate and having whetted my palate I couldn’t wait to sample the next course.

Chef Ruhizad  who has a lot of experience curating Malaysian food around the world, had taken care to be sensitive to the local palate and toned down the use of extremely strong flavours such as shrimp paste, while keeping in mind the fact that Hyderabadis eat a lot of chilli. Spice powders and pastes were carefully made and hand carried by him from Malaysia for this festival. The rest of the ingredients were locally sourced. He shared some funny anecdotes of his experiences and was very pleasant to interact with. He also mentioned the well documented fact that Malaysian food is a melting pot of traditional Malay, Chinese, Tamil, Indonesian and Thai food & cooking styles. The dishes chosen were to showcase this diversity in their cuisine.

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Ikan goreng berempah ~ Deep fried fish marinated with shallot, garlic, fennel and other spices was rather dry, tho I suspect the amount of time it spent on the table before the bloggers were satisfied with their photographs of it was the actual culprit here!

There was also a giant grilled red snapper, marinated in spices which was served to us. The preview was a sit down meal although the festival is presented as part of their buffet.

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I liked the simplicity of the Ayam masak merah, a dry chicken dish. The joke around the table was that it was similar to Chicken 65, a dish that Hyderabadis absolutely love!

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Kambing bakar percik sos for me was one of the highlights of the evening. A roasted lamb dish that was flavoured with coconut milk and chilli. It was done to perfection and I couldn’t but help be pleasantly surprised that despite my expectation of Malaysian food showcasing sea food well, the lamb dishes here stood out completely.

Sotong sambal, I’m not the biggest fan of squid, but I relished second helpings of this dish. Cooked in a classic malay sauce, it was the right balance of fishy.

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For the vegetarians, the Kentang masak lemak chili padi which reminded me of Thai style curries was subtle and multi layered with the chilli paste and coconut milk. Eaten with rice, this was comfort food for sure.

Curry Sayur sayuran, a mixed vegetable curry with kaffir lime & galangal again had familiar flavours, very similar to the red Thai curry but very sublime.

The almost Indian style Kobis goreng kunyit bercili which was sautéed cabbage with garlic, red onion & hold your breath! curry leaves was my least favourite dish of the day. I would give this one a miss, unless I hadn’t had a dose of roughage for the day!

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The dessert platter

We ended the wonderful meal with a Malaysian dessert platter. There were banana fritters, with a lovely indulgent vanilla sauce. The classic Badak Berendam which to put it (sacriligeously) frankly is a Malay version of modak. Glutinous rice encases a filling of palm sugar and coconut the dumpling in its green food colour drenched avatar was gummy, not a texture I enjoy.There was also a pudding kind of preparation which was mild and flavoured with coconut milk. The best was the coconut milk creme brulee. I loved the fact that there was so much variety and that the sweetness was mild.

Food festivals are a good way to sample a cuisine. Care is taken to showcase a wide variety of dishes so that one gets a birds eye view of it. The next best thing if you cannot travel to sample local eats is to take advantage of these kinds of opportunities.

The food festival is in collaboration with Tourism Malaysia and is part of their regular elaborate dinner buffet. It is on until the 29th of May, the menu changes everyday, so expect to see some new and well known dishes on the spread.

Price: The buffet is priced at 1358 All Inclusive

Hours: 7.30 pm to midnight.

Location: Hyderabad Marriott Hotel & Convention Centre & Courtyard by Marriott Hyderabad, Opposite Hussain Sagar Lake, Hyderabad – 500080

Credit Card Accepted: Yes

Valet Parking: Available

Telephone: 91 4027522999

 

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