Saturday, March 26, 2016

Pistachio Rose Biscuits

Pistachio Rose Biscuits 

I like my biscuits crumbly, crisp and buttery. Period. So I took sometime writing this recipe down because I was wasn't quite satisfied till my third batch. Thats right, turns out I was using more sugar than required. So if you had these cookies right after they cool down they seemed fine but with extra sugar it was becoming moist enough to loose that crisp texture that I prefer.

I had somehow mixed up the ingredients and so I finally consulted my Larouuse (my go to book at all times) and realized my mistake.

The first batch of cookies 

Makes 10 biscuits

50-gram chilled butter
100 gram all purpose flour
25 gram caster sugar
30-gram whole pistachios to 50-gram pistachios
1 whole green cardamom
Fat pinch of dried rose leaves

Its actually very simple. Blanch the pistachios and skin them and drain and chop.
Then you chill the butter and chop it up. Mix it with the flour and  sugar along with 3/4th of the chopped pistachios, the green cardamom dry roasted and pounded till powdery and the dried rose petals. Make your dough and shape it in a cylindrical shape. Chill for an hour and then make 10 balls from the cylindrical dough and flatten them a little bit and decorate with the remaining chopped pistachios and then take your baking sheet and use a parchment paper on it and line the biscuits and chill for another half an hour.

Preheat oven at 160C for 10 minutes. Bake for 40 minutes to 60 minutes at 160C. Check after 40 minutes and if you see that they are starting to brown too much they should be immediately taken out. Ideally they should have a golden colour. Cool on a wire rack and store in an air tight container.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Double chocolate chip cake

Double chocolate chip cake 

Sometimes a simple conversation gets me all excited about writing a blog post. Well frankly speaking,when I made this cake last year I had firmly decided that I was not going to make yet another post on perfect chocolate cake since I had blatantly announced in the past about how I had found my perfect chocolate cake way back in 2014 and then a different recipe in the beginning of 2015, another recipe mid 2015 and so no so forth.

Anyway like I said the most unexpected experiences ,whether a simple conversation or a sudden meeting or just reminiscence of certain feelings can change my want to write about my experience.

This cake is for days when I feel sad and  lonely or days when I feel happy. This was made on a day when I felt confused and I dont know if it was the cake but I finally decided that I need a solo trip outside the country. I mean I did take my first solo trip last year but a) it was in India b) Not to mention it was probably the safest place I could go to where I have gone a thousand times. c) I loved that solo trip hence this year it shall be my first solo trip. Note to self ;Stop buying MAC lipsticks , stop browsing those clothes on Jabong and Myntra, stop wanting that dutch oven . Ok I need that  dutch oven but I have got to stop buying clothes and makeup.

I made this cake yet again last week and the bestie and I enjoyed the slices.

Its simple its fluffy, light yet firm enough to qualify as a coffee cake and is dark , not too sweet and is tender and yes it has butter , not vegetable oil or olive oil but good old butter and some milk thrown in for good measure. The thing is I do not like frosting with these butter based coffee cakes or tea cakes it makes the entire cake way too heavy but then I didn't want the cake to be completely plain so in went some chocolate chips and I had my rich dark double chocolate chip cake.

So basically here is how you make this basic cake :-

Makes 6 servings (Approximately 350 calories per slice )

120 gram sifted all purpose flour
40-gram Dutch cocoa powder (I use the brand Hintz) you can use anything you want
130-gram caster sugar
100-gram butter
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50-ml Full cream milk
80-gram dark chocolate chips (I used one with 70% cocoa content)
2 medium sized eggs

Extra butter and flour for preparing the pan

Before you start off make sure the butter is at room temperature and I mean at room temperature. If you have forgotten to take the butter out of the fridge the only option is to wait till it becomes soft at room temperature. Please do not try to microwave it to soften the butter.

Preheat the oven to 170C for 10 minutes to 12 minutes.

Prepare your 6 inch pan by greasing it and then using flour to coat the surface tap out any extra flour.

Cream the butter with the sugar till its light and fluffy. I use a hand held non electronic whisk and it works beautifully. Hardly takes 3 minutes to 4 minutes. Add the eggs one by one whisking the mixture vigorously each time you add an egg.

Now sift the flour, cocoa powder , baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Use a wooden spoon to gently fold in about 1/2 the dry mixture with the wet mixture and then slowly fold in the rest of the dry mixture. In the end add the milk bit by bit and fold it in quickly. Add  3/4th of the chocolate chips and fold that in and sprinkle the remaining on top once you transfer the mixture to the pan. It is crucial that you fold in the flour and not whisk it in if you want the cake to be fluffy and soft.

Pour it in the pan and bake for 45 minutes to about an hour. I use a 52 litre  OTG by Morphy Richards and it took me about 50 minutes. Once a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean your cake is done.

  1. Important points if you want a fluffy light moist cake as opposed to dense and gummy 1. Always fold in your dry ingredients with a light yet firm hand . Use a wooden spoon with a broad head.
  2. The size of your pan plays a crucial factor in how much the cake rises. Here is an easy tip which I picked up quite a long time ago. The batter must reach 3/4h the length of the pan. Any less and your cake will be flat anymore and it spills over the edges dirtying not to mention wasting batter. 
  3. The batter must go in as soon as it is done. So preheat the oven and quickly make the batter. This isnt the time for multitasking so concentrate and plan ahead. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Treat for your Taste Buds from Down South at Park Plaza's K-19

A Treat for your Taste Buds from Down South 

at Park Plaza's K-19 

As I browsed through the menus of multiple restaurants of Kolkata one fine Saturday, all I could think was it was the 'same old, same old' food.

Just as I was about to give up on going out for the same old offerings Debapriya from Candid communications informed me about a delightful festival being hosted at Park Plaza's K-19.

My first reaction to the South Indian Food Festival was a mixture of apprehension and inquisitiveness at the same time. You see as a food enthusiast in today's world it is probably a culinary sin to not know that the cuisine beyond the Vindhyas has much more to offer than the usual 'Idli. Dosa, Rasam' Besides there are 4 states with distinctive dishes and I wondered what Park Plaza was offering its guests.

A little chit chat with the general manager, Mr. Avneesh K Mathur,  started off the afternoon on a very positive note. His idea of bringing cuisines from different states of our country to Kolkata sounded delightful.

Vasantha Neer

As I took a sip of the Vasantha Neer a delightful concoction of tender coconut water, mint and honey I could not but appreciate the soothing effect it had what with the temperature already on the rise in Kolkata.

We were soon served the Karuvembu Annasi, a pineapple based salad with a hint of curry leaves , spices and pomegranate which not only works wonderfully well as an appetizer but is the perfect salad to dig in on a hot summer's day.

Over the next hour or so we were served one course after the other and quite honestly it is immensely difficult to suggest one dish over the other.

For me, the Kohzi Varuval, a fiery hot chicken preparation stood out due to its spicy taste and succulent juicy texture. You see not many restaurants get the perfect texture of chicken breasts. Overcooked even slightly juicy succulent chicken breast can become dry and chewy . Well not here sir, here every piece was juicy and succulent. I wouldn't suggest it for people who do not enjoy hot fiery food.

Mr. Mathur had rightly said that a glass of Vodka is the perfect accompaniment with lunch. Well the Kohzi Varuval with a vodka based cocktail would work oh so perfectly for me on any given day of the year.

What I personally loved was how distinctive each dish tasted and a little chit chat with Chef Arokia Das and Janarthanam made me realize the dishes were selected in a way which covered each state from down South.

So while the outstanding tender coconut pudding, Elanner payasam was from Kerala ,the Kohzi Varuval is part of the Chettinad cuisine.

What I loved was how the festival offered Kolkatans a true blue taste of South India. While the diner would be be able to appreciate many many dishes a bit of 'podi' in this case gunpowder mixed with sesame oil and eaten with rice is something that is indeed exclusive and delicious.

The Erachi Thengai Vatthakal , a dry mutton preparation from Kerala with some plain white rice is hard to resist especially if you love mutton.

The lunch had been on offer on A- La-Carte basis from 12:30 p.m. till 3:30 p.m. and dinner from 7:30 p.m. till 10:45 p.m. The dinner buffet is what I would personally suggest was being offered at a reasonable price of Rs1299 plus taxes for adults and Rs799 plus taxes for children.

My only complaint is that this fantastic offering was in our city for a very short time . Well the good news is Park Plaza is planning  to host many more food festivals from different states of our country.

P.S. The rasam on offer was the best that I have had in this city and it would be a great shame to give it a miss in the name of cliche and as I was writing my experience of having had a delightful lunch at Park Plaza my mouth watered at the thought of the Kohzi Varuval.

Keep checking with Park Plaza for such delightful offerings.