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Feb 27, 2013

The Silver Spoon

I have written about Kingdom of Dreams and 'Culture Gully' at other places before but never here, I had felt the need to chronicle it here as well, for posterity and for all those amazing memories and that's when we were invited for dinner at the Rajasthan Pavilion and a viewing of 'Zangoora' the Bollywood musical. The Rajasthan pavilion is especially close to my heart, their chef, Maharaj is a man with all the charm of a celebrity chef and none of the 'attitude', he is steeped in culture and carries with him a trove of erstwhile and often royal recipes and he keeps his pavilion like the warm (and rather opulent) living room of a gilded 'khandaan'!

Kingdom of Dreams is majestic. It is a startling artifact in the heart of an urban jungle and no matter who I take there, they always come out feeling 'awed' and some of these people are seasoned travelers. I remember my father telling me about the artificial sky in a casino in Vegas about a decade ago, that's what he was reminded of when he visited, my 7 year old feels like it's a fairytale and me, well I have been there about 20 times and am yet to eat everything on my list from their14 pavilions and kitchens. With an awesome team of 100 chefs, Culture Gully is where you will find the best Haleem (Lucknow), Rava Fish Fry (Kerala), Vindaloo (Goa), Hyderabadi Biryani, Raj Kachori (Rajasthan), Chingri Malai Curry (West Bengal) and everything, absolutely everything at the Lucknow pavilion.

Since we were guests of Maharaj, we spent a very vibrant hour with a man who told tales from history like he had been there. He spoke of food like it was a 'healing force and he was a medicine man, it was beatific. He spoke of the troubles and travails of a space age generation with the comic relief of his anecdotes about solemnizing Marwari and Baniya weddings right here in this pavilion, he is not just Maharaj to many, he is 'Panditji' too. Maharaj's kitchen serves pure vegetarian food, sans onions and garlic too. This is the food I grew up with in my father's side of the family. Though most of his generation and the ones after did not abstain per se, my grandparents did. They were lovely people, they never questioned our culinary leanings and never imposed theirs, which is why I remember actually loving 'Jain' food because it was left entirely to us as to how we want to perceive it. Most people discuss Jain food with disdain, like it were a punishment, if only they gave it the time of day, they would realize, how much fresher and more transparent the tastes of food are when potent flavours like onions, garlic and even ginger are kept at bay.

We started with the best Raj Kachori I have ever had and I have had many thanks to my brother who has one at least twice a week albeit at commercial chaat places (sadly!).  It's the filling which was perfect, much like Gujarat, Rajasthani's love chiwda's or dry snacks (Farsaan in Gujarat). This is a desert state where produce is hard to come by and so many dishes are made with mock veggies formed out of 'chickpea flour' or 'Besan' like the 'Gatte ki Sabzi'. The Kachori was crisp and fresh and enormous and 'not' filled with annoying bean sprouts but with 'namkeen'! Loved it!

Then came the enormous silver thali, laden with goodies, some of which I hadn't had in years and some I hadn't had at all!It had their signature 'Ker Sangri' which I was secretly very thankful for and the best ever 'matar ki poori' or green peas stuffed poori (sorry Biji!). The menu will stump you mainly because it is very tough to eat all that but some of us actually managed to gormandize the entire platter. The 'Bajre ki Khichdi' was a revelation, I loved the texture and the fact that it was sweet was so soothing for the palate. The Badam ka Sheera reminded me of the 'Panjiri' we grew up on, the kind I made for myself when my daughter was born as my mother looked down upon us...this one took me back to my childhood so much so that I had to hold back the tears. We make the Dal Panchmeli very often, my mother learned it from people my father knew in Jodhpur, we have it with a 'meetha' Parantha, decadent and deadly!

Rajasthani Thali:
Matha (yogurt based beverage)
Dahi Ka Singhara
Jodhpuri Gatta Curry
Sangri Ka Kofta
Aloo Methi Lipatma
Matar Mangori Ki Subzi
Bhindi Jaipuri
Dal Panchmeli, Bati, Churma
Ghee Bhaat
Bajre Ki Khichdi with Rawri
Bedmi
Bikaneri Paratha
Missi Roti
Ker Sangri
Badam Ka Sheera

After a meal like that, what do you think one needs? A La-Z-boy easy chair, a Bollywood musical with a fair share of dance, drama, climax and six packs and bhelpuri! It's the perfect life, it truly is. Zangoora was yet another revelation, mainly because I am not a Bollywood person but I am all for theatrical performances, my family says that's because my whole life is one (hahahaha!!). The whole performance is spectacular mainly because India has never really seen anything like it. Trapeze artists fly overhead, hyper-energized dancers mingle with the audience and Hussain and Gauhar are quite a treat. This is an elaborate production and one everyone should see at least once for the simple fact that no celluloid movie can ever mimic the heart thumping involvement that theatre induces. I am going back for Zangoora next week, this time with the kid in tow, I would rather she appreciates Film/Arts this way than have a not-so-secret crush on Sallu Bhai! Keep Kingdom of Dreams on your to do list when you hit Gurgaon, its probably one of the best things about this town!

I spent this wonderful evening with my fellow blogger buddies, read more of their perspective right here  -


Sangeeta Khanna: Banaras Ka Khana
Charis Bhagianathan: Culinary Storm
Sushmita Sarkar: My Unfinished Life
Himanshu Taneja: The White Ramekins

The SoulFoood Shirazine project!

I had lost that deep love I had for green chillies, well not entirely, they still make for my favourite pickle but I rarely used them like a few years ago. I fell for the chipotle and the harissa's of the world. I still love green chillies in masala omelets, Arab 'turshi' and salan too, but I like the flavour, not so much the 'bite'. It was only last week that I rediscovered this love and that too while reviewing products from Soul Foood. I came across their Green Chilli Vinaigrette, it smelled divine, the kind of green chilli fumes that make you look around for any bread-y, cracker like thing to dunk in it and eat! I tasted it with the tip of my finger and was happy to find a jalapeno 'tang', and that's when I knew this dressing was going to make for a fantastic marinade.

I loved the chunkiness,  it glued onto the chicken and I'm sure it helped in tenderizing the chicken breasts as well. That's the thing about chicken breasts, very few places get them right. TGIF never does...ever! That's my most vivid memory of an unnecessarily expensive chicken dish that tasted like cotton/cloth, cotton and cheese! So when I make chicken, it has got be at least juicy, then done perfectly ...then flavoured right and so on. We eat a lot more of fish and chicken now that A is away,  he was the red meat guy, now we have dad who's age inhibits him from diving into a sea of steaks, we have V who is having the most epic battle of the bulge over the years and it breaks my heart because he is a sincere lover of food and devout follower of my kitchen, he avoids red meats as far as possible and we have Ally who prefers fish and seafood over even chocolate sometimes! So you will be seeing quite a few fish and chicken recipes while I am here, once we move to A-land ...I plan to go crazy with lamb, beef and seafood only!!

Green Chili Chicken in a mushroom sauce

Ingredients:
½ kg boneless chicken, with grill cuts
2 tbsp Chilli Vinaigrette
Coat and set aside.
For the Pan:
8-10 button mushrooms sliced
2-3 spring onions sliced
2 tbsp flour
1-2 glasses warm milk
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp Leonardo olive oil
Oregano, salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan to garnish

Method:

Heat the olive oil in a grill pan that fits all the chicken breasts, melt the butter in the warm oil. Sear the chicken with the marinade on, scrape and apply if you need to, don't waste even a smidgen. Cook on high flame, 3-4 minutes on each side, once you get the grill lines, lower the heat and add the spring onions and mushrooms, cover and pan fry for 3-4 minutes or till the pinkness inside the chicken is gone, you can pry open a piece and see. By now the mushrooms and onions would have released moisture and softened. Remove the cooked chicken breasts into a serving dish, cover to keep them moist. Add the flour to the spring onion and mushroom mix in the pan, sauté for few minutes to cook the flour through. Take off the heat and slowly add the milk, use a wooden spoon to break down any lumps, this is much like the process of white sauce except with veggies. Once you get a custard thick consistency, cook on a low flame for few minutes. Season with oregano, salt and pepper, pour over the chicken, garnish with parmesan and serve hot. I served it with an iceberg and olive salad and a side of home made wholewheat pita crisps.

This dish has a lovely Indian green chilli ‘twang’ but is so rich and French! Enjoy!

Shirazine Chicken Peperonata

I love Italian food, the home stuff, the breads, the wines and the seafood, absolutely in that order. I am not a big fans of pastas except a well done Carbonara, which according to me is a very delicate dish, much like a Zabaglione, it needs a gentle touch and loads of love. Peperonata is nothing but the Italian version of how we Indians eat dry veggies on the side, it's their 'sookhi sabzi' except its not all that dry and its meant for much bigger things than gobhi-alu has ever been, which ends up in a buttery/oily 'toaster' or parantha, while a peperonata is best when it sits atop a juicy chicken cutlet or crumb fried fillet of fish! Its supposed to be a Sicilian dish and I can just imagine a mafiosi family passing a bowl of pasta with peperonata around a table of gorgeous Italian criminals... ok, I have to spring out of this conjecture, don't get me started on the mafiosi ... I love 'em as much as peperonata!

I make a rustic version with stewed red and yellow bell peppers, the tartness of ripe tomatoes and the deeply fragrant flavour of basil not tarragon, but you can use either, depending on which meat you prefer or the meat you choose to serve the peperonata with. I served it with a chicken cutlet, so I used basil, tarragon is great with red meats though, so try it if you do a crumb fried pork steak or a lamb chop.

Peperonata

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
4-6 garlic cloves, smashed
4 tbsp Leonardo olive oil
4 tbsp White wine vinegar
2 tbsp Soul Foood Portuguese Peri Peri Sauce
1/2 sugar
Salt and pepper
Few fresh basil leaves to garnish
Few capers (optional)

Lightly heat the olive oil and throw in the garlic, add the peppers and tomatoes before it browns. Saute till soft-ish, add the Soul Food Portuguese Peri Peri sauce, pour in the wine vinegar and season with salt, pepper and the sugar. Cook till the peppers are soft , the wine vinegar has cooked off and the tomatoes have become all mushy and chunky. Check for spiciness and seasoning and adjust with salt and the peri peri sauce.

Chicken Cutlet

2 chicken fillet, flattened with a mallet
1 tsp mixed Italian herbs
1 egg, beaten
Salt and pepper
Breadcrumbs, buy light coloured ones, they aren't made with toasted bread but with air dried bread.

Marinate the fillets in the above ingredients. Coat with seasoned breadcrumbs and shallow fry for 3-4 minutes on each side on a low flame, till light brown and crispy.

Top the cutlets with the Peperonata and serve with a nice pesto crostini and olives. I love this dish mainly because it takes under 40 minutes to do, is super fresh and very very flavoursome for the Indian palate. Great way to eat chicken... if you must ;) ... Enjoy!

Feb 20, 2013

Decadent ...not Dirty!!

That's how the Bloggers night at The Dirty Martini was! Seriously wonderful, crazy, decadent of course and belly happy great, all in one night. I love everything Olive (as a kitchen) does. There are certain things they have 'pat' down and mastered, whether it's Pork Belly or Southside Martini's, they will wow you every time.
I try not to miss a single event of theirs and they raise the bar with each one. We covered the opening of Dirty Martini a couple of months back and apart from rubbing shoulders with the who's who of 'Dilli' we had a splendid time! I love the burlesque-ness of Dirty Martini, it seems so wrong and yet so right, believe me, if you have the right company, an evening here can be hugely inspiring. At least for us creative types, for us, amazing kitchens, dramatic nuances and warm service can mean sitting and drinking for hours, planning businesses we may never have, vacations we may never take but here it kinda all seems possible!


The night was wet and balmy, so typical of a night you would want to do something 'bad'! Walking through the kitchen into the opulent bar is always a high no matter how often I go back and there it all is - beer in brown paper bags, martini's and Victorian teacups, smoked gins and vodka fruit shots, the beautiful singer, her piano and a bar that can be hidden if required ...crazy cool! The menu read like a dream as Olive Bar menu's always do -

Starters:
Big Boss Toast (goat cheese, chilli jam, berries) - everything you ever wanted on toast!!
Dive Bar Crostini (Ratatouille, gruyere) - probably one of the few vegetarian starters I could have a platter of!
Rum Runner (Mushroom Manchego burger)- Manchego makes my heart smile, why don't more people serve it?
Sheeben Sandwich (Harissa artichoke, feta pate, apricot chutney) - Feta and pate and apricots...yes please! I tried these flavours at home and they marry so well!
TDM Chicken (batter fried chicken with chipotle mayo) - say chipotle and I'm eating it even if it's chicken!
Shrimp Jammer (golden fried shrimp with spicy mayo) - God bless shrimp and God bless mayo, I loved these so much!
Blind Pig Belly (with a maple chilli glaze) - You have not lived if you haven't tried this, I swear to you, life will change ever so slightly once you taste the pork belly here!
Gangster Slider (tenderloin patty with grilled onions) - Say speakeasy and can gangsters be far behind? Beautifully done, two bites worth of heaven!

Mains:

Casablanca "The White House" (seven vegetable stew with country style bread) - Served in teacups, I couldn't stop at one, didn't need the bread ...mmmm!
Starving Mafia (slow cooked lamb ghoulash) - Perfectly cooked, beautiful balance of tomatoes, I hate the ones that taste of canned tomatoes, this was just lovely!
 The Blind Tiger (Chipotle rubbed tiger prawns) - Bring it on, say chipotle once more buddy and you will have eating some more!
Squeaky Squid (in a dirty pepper sauce) - Nice new flavours for me, minimal and the squid was soooo fresh!
Fishy Flapper (cajun spiked basa) - Always skip the basa, it's a thing with me plus I can always have more pork belly!!

We ended the evening with this teams signature Churros and a 'drug' shake of molten dark chocolate and Bailey's Irish Cream, now this is what makes life worth living. The other awesome dessert was the 'Nutty Aunty', it has a history dating back to the 50's and is made my most favourite nut ever, walnuts!

Slog the whole week and you feel you deserve nights like these, easy, charming, so full of energy and then of course there are the martini's to fill void whatsoever. Loved it guys, thanks AD, Chef Saby, Astha and team, you guys always pull of a fabulous show!


Feb 17, 2013

Calzone Shirazine

We love calzones, they are so comforting and so versatile, all you need is ready dough and you can fill pretty much anything in it and make a meal out of this treat. We make ham 'n' cheese, beans and chorizo, garlic sauteed spinach, olives and feta, capers and ricotta, plain mozzarella and out all time favourite, mince chilli and cheddar.Calzones are specially awesome in winters because you don't have to spend too much time putting them together and they turn out, wholesome and hearty. They are perfect for a movie at home because all you really need is one hand to hold the calzone and the other to hold a glass of wine. My favourite wine with the spicy and rich mince chilli and cheddar calzone is an Australian Cabernet Shiraz or a Fratelli Merlot because you need a certain fruitiness with a meal like this, alternately you can just make a nice tart salad with citrus fruits, berries and roquette, dress it with EVOO and orange juice!

We as Indian's are good with dough, kneading it and rolling it. I don't make a yeast dough because I don't like the calzone crust to be airy and bread-y, this crust is a bit biscuit-y and fills you up in a not-so-starchy way. Also this dough tends to stay better and longer, up to 4 days in the fridge in an airtight box is good enough.

Chilli Mince filling:

250 gms mutton, lamb or beef mince
1 large onion, cut fine
6-8 pieces of garlic, crushed
concasse of 2 large tomatoes or 6 tbsp tomato paste
2 dried red chillies, snipped into 2-3 pieces
1 bay leaf
6-8 black olives sliced (optional)
1/2 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper
2-3 tbsp olive oil

Calzone Dough:

1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp dried oregano
4 tbsp olive oil (use a good quality Italian olive oil with a nice, rich aroma)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chilli flakes (the kind you get with commercial pizza orders, I have that in a bottle and it goes into everything, from breads, soups, bakes to stews and savoury pies)
1 egg
1/2 cup soda

(Grated sharp cheddar to put over the mince filling before closing the calzone)
Make a well in the center of the mound of flour, break the egg in the center, add the seasoning of oregano, salt and chili flakes over it and then drizzle the olive oil all over the flour. Use your hand like dough mixer, in a circular motion and bring all these ingredients together. Use the soda sparingly, literally a spoon at a time to bring the flour mixture together into a dough. The dough has to be kneaded on a floured surface for 3-5 minutes till it is soft and pliable. Cover with a moist muslin cloth or oil the dough ball with olive oil, cover and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a separate pan, fry the onion till transparent, add the red chilli pieces, garlic, the bay leaf  and the pepper (you can use whole peppercorns, they are yum when bitten into in a bite!). Saute for a minute or two and add the mince, turn up the heat, use a wooden spoon to break up the mince, as fine as possible, let the mince turn light in colour, fry for 2-3 minutes, lower the flame, throw in the tomato paste or concasse, sugar and salt. Check the seasoning, cover and cook for 10-12 minutes. Remove the cover, cook the moisture off on a high flame, you need the mince to be moist and tomato-y, not wet.

Make 8 even sized golf ball sized bits from the dough. Roll out into a pita or 'chapati'/'roti' size on a floured surface. Put 1-2 tbsp of the cooled mince mix on the lower half of the circle, sprinkle with cheddar, fold over, crimp with a wet fork and seal shut. Brush the top of the calzone with olive oil and bake on 220 C for 7-10 minutes or till the crust is evenly light brown. Serve with salad and a Tzatziki kind of yoghurt/cucumber/garlic dip, we actually love it with hummus too :) ... talk about fusion foods!!

Feb 11, 2013

The Delightful Pan Asian


I have enjoyed Chef Nakamura's food ever since he introduced Sakura in Gurgaon, I have had the fortune of sampling the gorgeous breakfast Bento Box he does, it is pure joy, both visual and gastronomical. The Bento Box was at the The WelcomHotel Sheraton New Delhi and we were back here for an experience of Chef Nakamura's flagship - Pan Asian. I can't say enough about Welcomgroup's hospitality because I belong to the ITC stable and everything I say is magnified by the fact that I truly believe in their philosophy towards guest, gastronomy and guilty pleasures! Pan Asian is an opulent and lavish restaurant with plenty of space for islands of live cooking that the guests seem to love. From how the service staff interact with some of the guests I can tell, they are regulars and very comfortable. 

 We start with the Teppanyaki grill and watch Chef Nakamura whip up a batch of Tofu Miso Steaks, straight off the grill. The Miso sauce is Chef's secret recipe and you can sense the aroma wafting in the air and you know it's not something simple or ordinary. There is kung fu majesty in his moves and I love how he handles the tools. You can tell he loves the grill dearly, as he washes it with such gentleness after every batch, I know he does it so the second batch doesn't stick but it's very endearing. I skip the grill and head over to the Yakitori station and meet an exuberant Sous Chef taking us animatedly through the process and the result is spectacular, the Negima (Mongolian Grill) is exactly how I like chicken, tender, juicy and lightly seasoned. Once seated, I know for sure that this evening is going to be divine, I have a  table full of my blogger friends, terrific wine, Welcomgroup hospitality and a menu handpicked by Chef Nakamura. Here's what it looked like -  

Assortment of Sushi ... lovely!

Miso Tofu Steak ... Chef did it himself so all I can say is, superb! 

Dimsums: Xiang JiauShui Jing Jia (Pan Fried Vegetable Hakkau), Veg Koteh (Steamed Veg Dumpling), Ji Shao Mai (Steamed Chicken And Coriander Dumpling), Xia Shao Mai (Prawn Hakkau).... out of these I could eat 2 dozen of the prawn ones, I swear!

Yakitori/ Tempura
:
Negima (Chicken yakitori), Assorted Tempura With Vegetables.... the Tempura was perfection, loved every bit!

Soup: Miso Soup and that signature aroma of Chef's secret recipe! I have had this for breakfast and I have to say, it is so comforting that if I were ever out of coffee, this Miso soup would suffice.

Main Course: Peking Duck (with cucumber, spring onion, pancakes and Chef's special Teriyaki sauce) ... I am a huge Peking Duck fan and I have to say very few places do it as well as this!
KaengPhak (Green Curry Thai Style) .... 
Mapo Tofu  (Silken Tofu In Black Bean And Sichuan Pepper Sauce) ....

Hu nansucaiganguo (Collage Of Vegetables With Dry And Spicy Unique touch of Hunan) .... loved the Hunan touch, else you know how I feel about veggie interfering with my meal ;)

Crispy Hua (Stir fried Sliced Red Snapper Chili Garlic Sauce) ...... This was phenomenal, thanks to Gujarat Fisheries, we have been freaking out on red snapper at home too! The flambe extravaganza was unforgettable ...another ninja touch to the evening!

Kung Phad Xo (Pan Fried With Thai Style Chili X.O. Sauce) ..... lovely combination with the meal.

Served with Jasmine Fried Rice and Asian Stir Fried Noodles.
Dessert: Fig and Toffee Pudding with Darsaan ... I could eats bowls and bowls and bowls of the darsaan, it's such a lovely texture, sweet, sticky and crunchy, all at once, like a carnival in the mouth!

It was a delicious evening  and not a single dish was less than pure joy! I enjoyed the evening with my usual band of blogger buddies. 
Mukta: Bake-a-Mania
Aishwarya: Aishwarya Eats
Ruchira:  The Great Cookaroo
Sangeeta: Benaras Ka Khana

Feb 10, 2013

Citrus Burst - The Shirazine Orange Tea Cake

We ate the best homemade cakes growing up, the apple and walnut was a winter staple and till date the aroma of this baking in my kitchen takes me back to my childhood. The other staple was the lemon pound cake, so perfectly citrusy that we loved it to bits. Thanks to popular myth, we weren't given a lot of sour fruits or beverages in winters despite the fact that they were usually packed with Vitamin C, perfect for avoiding the sniffles. We drink fresh orange and keenu juice throughout winter, I cook pork with oranges (rind and all!), I make lemon, lime and orange desserts and even though I love a good lemon pound cake (even for breakfast!), the orange is so much more ...just so much more in every way. You can substitute the orange rind and juice with lemon to make the lemon version. This is a small cake, about 600 gms, since it'sa fragrant cake I prefer to keep for just about 2-3 days, it does perfectly well outside as long as it's still winters out there, the glaze is optional, I feel since it seeps into the cracks on top, it keeps the cake moist longer. This is a lovely cake for lunchboxes too... Ally loves it!

Ingredients:

130 gms flour
100 gms white sugar
120 gms butter
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp orange zest
60 ml fresh orange juice

For the Glace:

75 gms icing sugar
10 ml fresh orange juice

Use a hand mixer to beat the butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one, mix well, scrape down the sides and beat in the vanilla essence. Add the orange juice, whip it all up, the mix may look curdled but that's fine, it's all getting baked nice and good. Sift the baking powder with the flour, add the flour to the buter-sugar-egg mix, make a nice smooth batter. Grease a loaf tin, a 500 gm cake loaf tin will do just fine. Dust with flour, pour in the batter and bake on 220 C for about 18-20 minutes, best way to tell is obviously the toothpick method. Cool while you make the glace. Sift the icing sugar so it loosens up, add the orange juice slowly and use a whisk to beat it into a glue consistency icing. Drizzle over the cooled cake and Enjoy!

Shirazine Lemon Butter Fish

Lemon Butter Fish was one of our all time favourite dishes when I was a kid but over time I think we forgot about it or maybe it was the godawful versions we made the catastrophic mistake of ordering at restaurants or a combination of both but I felt like making it so badly the other day. I didn't remember mom's exact recipe but I knew how the French would do it or how Julia Child would do it for that matter, few ingredients, simple ones and generously used.

This is a great recipe for those of you starting with fish for the first time. It is a beautiful meat to work with, flavoursome, versatile and of course healthy. Avoid frozen fish as far as possible, more than anything it makes the meat too flaky when cooked and thawing is a royal pain. Use single boned fish as a start, where the fillets are bone/thorn free, here in Delhi you can choose from a variety of firm, white fish like sole, surmai, bekti, singhara and red snapper. I used sole for this dish, its the least fishy in flavour and goes down well when you want to work with rich tastes like salted butter and lemon juice. I feel the lemon juice cuts a lot of the butters fattiness because this does not feel heavy at all. I served it with a ricotta crostini and cherry tomatoes drizzled with EVOO and sea salt. Even a salad of arugula, walnuts and oranges would be great with this. The ricotta on the crostini was seasoned with oregano, fresh pepper, sweet paprika and sea salt. For the bread I used my favourite whole-grain loaf cut into thick slices, more like a bruschetta actually!

For 1 portion:

2 thin fillets of about 150 gms each
6 tbsp flour
Salt and pepper
Oil for shallow frying

Lemon Butter Sauce:

50 gms, butter (yep! just do it! ok if it freaks you out too much, do half and half with olive oil but it won't taste the same!)
Juice of 1 large lemon
3-4 garlic pods,  smashed
1 tsp dried chives or parsley, both work well, I use Keya and feel chives add a nicer kick
6-8 capers
Salt and fresh ground pepper for seasoning.

Season the flour in a plate, wash and pat dry the fillets and dab in the flour till well coated, dust off the excess flour and fry in hot shallow oil. Use thin fillets in which case, it needs just about 2-3 mins on each side on low flame, this should lightly brown the fillet. Remove from the oil and drain on a paper towel. In a separate pan, heat the butter, throw in the garlic and let the butter brown lightly (about a minute or two). Take off the fire and add the lemon juice, the sauce will sputter nicely, throw in the capers, season with salt and pepper, pour over the fish, garnish with chives and serve immediately.

Romanced by Italy!

What better way to be romanced eh?! It said that romance is found is what you love and what you are passionate, there is definite romance in food! We sat down for an Italian dinner at the Claridges with the lovely Irene Vigolo, our sommelier for the evening and the evening couldn't have been better. If you've been to the Claridges at Surajkund, especially in the evening you will surely notice how it sparkles, the glass, metal, light and water bodies come together like a dance, it's beautiful!







The evening was dedicated to Italy and what a wonderful tribute, oscillating between delicate and robust flavours, I enjoyed some very new and very tremendous foods from one of my favourite food regions - Italy! Our meal started with a selection of Italian cold cuts, Parma ham and melon (750) which are always lovely here, fresh, sliced just right and with colours that pop off the plate! 

Then came one of the showstoppers (at least for me), the Carpaccio di tonno (750) which was a onion skin thin Carpaccio of yellow fin tuna on arugula bed with kalamata olives, capers in olive and lemon dressing, beautifully done, exuberant portion and quite a Mediterranean take on tuna or even sushi for that matter!I have usually had carpaccio's of beef and salmon and vegetables too, but a first time with a fishy fish like tuna, which actually becomes quite delicate once it's cut and treated this way!

My main course was one of best ‘done’ steaks I have had in a while, I like them well done and this was lightly charred on top and pink, juicy and done just right inside.  The lovely Bistecca alla Fiorentina (1850), Grilled premium tenderloin with freshly sautéed spinach and extra virgin olive oil! Then came the Pizza Diavola (625), Pepperoni and chili flakes, good pepperoni is yet another way of God saying he loves us and on thin crust Pizza the way Chef does it, its complete heaven. Our dessert is what left me completely gobsmacked, the Minestrone e frutta esotico (450),  Minestrone of exotic fruits with lemon sorbet, off late we have been soooo superbly lucky with sorbets and this one goes on the top five.



A special mention of the wines I fell in love with that night, the Zonin Prosecco Special Cuvee Brut (2200), the Zonin, Soave (2000) and the rich and heavy Zonin Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo (2000). *Prices of bottles

Enjoy this and more at Oasis, The Claridges, Surajkund!
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