April 18, 2014

March 31, 2014

Pondicherry: In Pictures

December in Pondicherry is lovely. The weather is gentle, the sea breeze abundant and the food is delicious.

The five Rathas at Mahabalipuram

The lighthouse of Pondicherry - peeping from the tree tops
Fresh 'Kolam' outside every house every morning!

Bay of Bengal - Early in the morning

March 21, 2014

Photo Friday

In an attempt to make myself more regular around this little webspace of mine, I am going to post one new photo every Friday. A photo of something I made, something I ate or somewhere I went!

Light as air 'Kanda' (Onion) bhajjis at the Bhimthadi Jatra!

March 3, 2014

Seasonal or not

I realise that it's not the time really for Gingerbread. It is a Christmas time treat and clearly I don't stick to conventions. I am the sort who makes Yule Log for a Birthday cake.

Gingerbread is historic. I came across Gingerbread for the first time every only when I started reading food books. My possible recollection of Gingerbread from pop culture is the giant Gingerbread Man from the movie Shrek. I keep insisting that I am no fan of spiced cakes(and I keep proving myself wrong) so I never thought I'd one day be hankering to make Gingerbread at home. But ever since I saw Gingerbread houses made by Rachel Allen and then on Masterchef AU, they stuck in my head. The recipes always seemed very complicated and I kept postponing it until the day I was gifted a box mix (wait, what? A box mix?!) of Gingerbread. (Hey, it was a good, not the mass manufactured one! Or so I like to believe)

January 31, 2014

Chocolate Truffles

One of my New Year resolutions was to be more regular on the blog. Clearly, that resolution is exactly that. I haven't attempted it. Which is why, in an attempt to stick to my resolution, or at least try to, I give you chocolate truffles.

If you have ever seen or bought truffles (the sweet variety, not the natural fungus variety, OK?), you will know what an indulgence they are. For the number of ingredients that go into the making of a truffle, I always wonder why they cost so much. It may be for there perfect square shapes, which how much ever I try, I never get. But that means then the name wouldn't make sense, would it? Chocolate Truffles are named after the natural 'Truffles' are the 'fruiting bodies' of a type of fungus, and an extremely expensive and gourmet food ingredient. They are found underground and need to be sniffed out by special sniffer dogs.

December 21, 2013

Have food? Will Walk.

Pune is very rarely labelled as a food city. Very few think 'Food!' when they think about Pune (I mean, I do, but then I would even go to Bank Street to look for a bakery. Oh wait, I have done that).

A stack of Bhakris

Pune has it's own 'Khau Gallis'  but nothing is wildly popular, or at least it seems so at first (at least not like Paranthewali Galli or Paradise Biryani). The old timers, the true blue gourmands and the adventurous all know about the best food places, but for many others, I have sometimes felt that  'Pune Food' probably begins and ends with Vada Pav. Puneri food is often undervalued and more often than not, it goes unappreciated.  (Pardon my cynicism, but it dawned on me recently that only the 'pucca Punekars' have set any value on the food of this city). Tourists and visitors rarely venture out to the old city to try delicacies being served for generations, but then there may be a logical answer to that. The old city can be fairly daunting to a newcomer, with it's narrow lanes, frenzied pace and traffic. Another reason could be the sheer lack of promotion of these old places. The only promotion that happens is by word-of-mouth. Most people do know about Marzorin, Kayani and even Chitale, but how many know about the place in the heart of the old city that has been serving 'dahi icecreams' (translates to 'yogurt ice cream'. Rings a bell? Frozen Yogurt??) since the 1930's? (Cold-drink house, see below!)

Dahi Ice cream - In house promotion

And yet, people travelling out of Pune will in all probability be carrying Chitale chi Bakarwadi by the kilo, Puran Poli in dozens, packets of Laxminarayan Chivda and Amba Barfi enough to fill a refrigerator. I'll make a confession - I have always loved food and I have always loved the food from my home state, but the first time I truly saw Maharastrian food in a different light was at the first Bhimthadi Jatra I went to. There was so much to see there, in terms of food. There is so much depth and intricacy in our food, and there's so much to learn. Take for example, ‘Mande’ it's Puran Poli – only 3 times the size! And they are cooked over open, inverted kadhais (or woks).

Traditional 'Mande' being cooked on open wood fires

Having said all that, people are finally rediscovering food in ways like never before. And I don't mean just fusion and fine dining. I mean our food heritage. Pune is a place that is replete with places small and big full of histories, serving food with love, some for more than 100 years. The first chance I got, I went for a food walk in the old city. It's a nice 3 hour walk, and you eat, you walk, you eat , you walk...A food walk was a novelty, and I had to explain to quite a few friends about how it worked. But then again, I seem to go to crazy lengths when it comes to (re)discovering food.

November 27, 2013

Korova Cookies

I have never been much of a cookie person. Oh, I eat cookies and biscuits and all, more than I should, but I very rarely get cookies right - I either over bake them, or they turn  out too soft. I can never really fathom a recipe that says, chewy on the inside and crispy on the out. Chewy for me means gummy bears, so how do I define chewy for a cookie?

A close relative recently gifted me a box of  La Mère Poulard chocolate cookies (my family knows me well, the story of these cookies goes all the way back to 1888). Even after they were long consumed, the taste of the cookie remained, and I wanted more. No other chocolate cookie I had baked or bought had ever come close to the taste of those cookies. So what do you (or in most cases, me) do when you want the said cookies, as soon as possible, and Mont Saint Michel is just a little far away to go for cookies?

You bake them at home.