Monday, March 23, 2015

Radish cress, Microgreens

While I spoke about Red Cabbage cress in my last post here, I laid my hands on a tray of radish cress from Krishi Cress who grow them at a farm in Chattarpur...It is such a pleasure to pluck these tiny greens from the tray, wash and just throw them in salads, soups, sandwiches and so much more! An edible garden at hand...what more can a food lover ask for? Freshness and flavour! 
Radish cress will make you feel you are eating radish without actually eating it. Radish cress has sharp, pungent notes. It accentuated my Labneh and tasted great in a no-oil tomato-apple broth.

Below, I photographed the young and wilted greens. My tray lasted me one whole week lending an opportunity for many a experiments in the kitchen.


The no-oil sweet tomato and apple broth was enlivened with the sharpness of radish.


Trays of Microgreens at Krishi Cress ready to be delivered to restaurants on demand.


Radish cress sits pretty on the dining table.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Trendy Microgreens

New things on my plate eliminate the mundanity of table regulars. Stuff, that we eat daily. As a child I often used to wonder if our life would ever move ahead of the normal dal, roti, peas, carrots, rajma, aloo and so on. Will there ever be born again vegetables? My wishes were heard, a little late in life, but they were. Growing up I discovered foods that I had not eaten earlier. And as late as now, I also discovered microgreens. 
Let me begin from the beginning. A few years ago, I was introduced to exotic salad leaves like Rocket and Arugula, which are now quite common at Delhi dining tables. Recently, I discovered many chefs were using mini greens or micro greens to enhance the flavour of their dishes as well as add a charming visual appeal. Mostly, I've seen chefs using microgreens to add a curious, visual factor while plating their food. And very often, I find myself being 'educated' that I have microgreens on my plate. So, it would only be apt to talk about them on the blog. 
Microgreens are nutrient dense and are typically sown and harvested within 7 to 14 days. There are quite a few of them available on supermarket sheleves. They come in varied colours and flavours like Radish cress, Cilantro cress, Arugula cress, Mustard cress, Lolo Rosso, Beet cress and so on. Microgreens are grown in plastic trays and need good monitoring, the right amount of sun, shade, air and basically quite a lot of care. Some, use sprouting pads to grow them (mostly outside India) and others use cocopeat. I've got some Red Cabbage Cress Microgreens to showcase. They have a red stem and green leaves and could make for many a pretty plates. They taste like well, cabbage, and are as crunchy. I planted them in my hummus pot to up the visual factor. Have a look and stay tuned for much more, pretty soon! 




Thursday, March 05, 2015

Guppy by ai - a weight watcher's delight


If there is one restaurant in Delhi, I visit again and again, and again, it is Guppy by ai. For their vegetarian Sushi, ofcourse. The Japanese vegetable rolls at Guppy are a favourite and the fact that they now use black rice (which they source indigenously) for the rolls, makes them taste better and a tad nutty. A recent visit on an invite to taste their winter menu left me wide eyed. Their food is always spectacular, but what I've always appreciated about them is that being a vegetarian is no hindrance at this restaurant. They do full justice to vegetarian diners by coming up with a fair menu. Veg Sushi being an oxymoron for some, is a way of life for Skeeter. 


This time round, they had on offer a Nasu Dengaku inspired grilled aubergine. It is one of the better dishes I've tasted this year. It is their version of Nasu Dengaku. An aubergine shell is scooped out and filled with aubergine pulp, onion and cherry tomatoes cooked in miso. It is then baked and topped with crispy garlic flavoured panko. Panko crumbs are a favourite and when used well, they accentuate any dish dramatically. The mushy aubergine and the crusty panko made for an excellent textured combination. The sweetness of the cherry tomatoes came through well. This Nasu Dengaku version had me hooked till there was none left. A must try for those belonging to the 'I hate bharta' club. I washed it down with Akane, a winter special Guppy cocktail made from Vodka, beetroot, strawberry, sugar and lime juice. You drink your fruit, you have your superfood (beetroot), and you enjoy your dose of alcohol. A mixologist once told me that use of fresh fruits and vegetables in cocktails is the way trends are headed. After having Akane at Guppy, I am sure he was right. 







The other stars of the evening were a Beetroot and Plump Avocado tartare. Slowcooked, tender beetroot and avocado tartare in a citrus dressing. A weight watcher's delight. I also had my usual fix of Sushi.

Blueberry crepes and seasonal fruit flambe made my dessert. Bite sized crepes filled with marshmallows, sitting besides a bed of seasonal fruit, in brandy and berry sauce and flambeed on the table. You can ask for a weight watcher's version of this dessert and they will happily remove the berry sauce. 

Weight watcher's please note!

Japanese food is known for its fresh, raw ingredients and is easily one of the healthiest cuisines served in restaurants. Pickled vegetables, light broths coupled with superfoods like matcha make Japanese food popular across tables world over. I am not sure of calorie counts and other stats, but the food I had at Guppy, could be consumed by any weight watcher and they'd walk out with a full tummy and a non-guilty gait. A superfood and fruit cocktail (read beets and berries), Sushi, salads, baked vegetables and loads of them, and a dessert sans a sweet sauce.  Wash it all down with a cup of Matcha, if you must. What more can you ask for? 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Desi Roots, Saket

I often find myself in the backlane of Select CityWalk, to make an entrance from the rear of the mall. I also often find myself gazing at some standalones behind the mall, thinking, some day, I will have the time to try one of those rather than just parking myself at one or the other eateries within the mall.


My last visit was different, as I entered one called Desi Roots. What seems like a one hall restaurant from outside is actually a spacious three hall dining space. You enter a cafe with desi knick knacks (coal irons, pickle jars, film cameras and more) holding your attention. Do not miss the dining table made from an old-fashioned sewing machine on which you can actually rock your feet!


Just a little ahead is another dining space which gives way to the semi private dining table and a bar. As I was invited to the restaurant, the management enlightened me with more desi elements of the design before we settled down for an amuse bouche of dal/masala vada on a bed of fresh coconut chutney in a mason jar topped with a crisp kadi patta.


What came next, bowled me over. A warm galawati pate of Jimikand served with sheermal crisps, onion rings and green chutney in a Alice's 'Drink Me potion' like bottle on a black tray fitted in a wooden frame. The presentation had me kicked and the taste was superlative. I was digging my sheermal crisp into an amazingly textured and sublime pate, that, if I may say, would give a non-vegetarian galawati a run for its money. The flavours oozed oomph and boasted of a complex mix of Indian spices, which were rather well balanced. Surely desi in its roots. Had I not been having it at a restaurant, you'd find me licking the jar clean. 


The Taboulleh Kachumber dhokla with grilled spicy watermelon came next. A big piece of dhokla came sitting underneath the Kachumber Taboulleh. The fresh tomatoes, onions, mint and coriander made the dish quite appetising. The watermelon on the side was spiced with an achari mash and was quite a delight. While the taste was spot on, Desi Roots could present the dish in a better way. 


Chef Rajiv Sinha, the genius that he is, used his Calcutta Roots rather cleverly to come up with a warm samosa deconstruct with aam papad chutney at Desi Roots. A stunning and delicately spicy mash of potatoes with whole coriander seeds and fennel seeds sat between strips of crisp nimki or namakpara studded with carom seeds (ajwain). This was an open samosa and with every bite it will transport you to your favourite local eatery that serves this wonderful Indian snack. An epic dish, this.


For mains, I wanted something light and chose the Jawdropping Khichdi ke char yaar or 4 grains of khichdi (rice, quinoa, jowar, bajra) with some hesitation. While Khichdi is something I'd never order in a restaurant, and was rather vary, but took the risk and it paid off. The four Khichdis at Desi Roots came sitting individually in pretty props of tiny pressure cookers and Indian pickle jars. I liked classic, quinoa, jowar and bajra in increasing order of preference. Each came topped with a different kind of papad: palak, chana, pepper et al as well as a slight hint of a different kind of pickle each. So Desi Roots lifted the khichdi to another level and turned it from 'food for the sick' to something rather enjoyable. Comfort food, that. 


The breads at Desi roots are something to look out for. They serve their choice of breads or rice with the mains. Do not even try to change that as their choice of breads is great. I was served the Brar jee ki mashoor rasmalai makhni. A delicate and flavourful rasmalai dipped in tomato juice and served in a makhni gravy, this dish comes recommended by Reeta Skeeter. It will tease your tongue and satisfy the hungry soul. Mine came with a fresh, hot, crispy laccha parantha.  


If you visit Desi Roots for a family dinner with kids or without, try the Bachpan Platter for dessert if you want to revisit Tit Bits, Lollipops, Kisme toffees, Gems, Chikki bites, wafer fingers and more. It is an experiential concept. But I preferred Jamaluddin ki Kheer from Badal beg masjid. Also known to us Old Delhi lovers as Bade Mian, this Kheer is brought all the way from Chandni Chowk to be served at the restaurant. This thick, creamy delight will make you walk out of Desi Roots with a big smile. Read more about Bade Mian here.



Monday, February 09, 2015

Haak - Kashmiri greens recipe

There's so much comfort food that winter brings in, that one is spoilt for choice. Soups, stews, noodles, rice, rustled up with lots of fresh veggies. The sabji mandis (vegetable markets) are filled to the brim with fresh produce. One would get every shade of green and every year I discover some or the other vegetable that has not yet seen the light of my kitchen. While I enjoy what is left of Delhi winters, I'd like to share this simple recipe of Kashmiri staple Haak saag, cooked using a few basic rules but not any Kashmiri recipe in particular. Haak goes best with steamed rice and believe me you, this would be the best kind of saag you'd have ever tasted. 


Recipe:
For 1 medium bunch of Haak: Wash the leaves well. Look out for worms. I put them in salted water for 30 mins, rinse and then use. Snip off the ends and use the leaves as well as the tender stem. Heat mustard oil in a wok. Add 1 or 2 whole red chillies, depending on the quantity of your haak. Chop a fat garlic clove and add. Immediately thereafter, add 1.5 cups of water and let it simmer. Now add the whole Haak leaves and salt to taste. Let it boil for 7 to 10 minutes or till the leaves wilt a little. Enjoy Haak hot off the wok with steamed rice. Bliss!

 '

As mentioned earlier, I don't follow any typical Kashmiri recipe mentioned in recipe books and sites, but do follow some basic rules: 
Use whole leaves and some stem.
Keep spices minimal to bring out the flavour of the haak well.
Do not overcook.
Ideally, do not reheat and make it 15 mins prior to serving.
Serve hot with steamed rice.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Shiv Sagar, Delhi (Aye!)

All the Bombay vs Delhi debate doesn't work for me. Nor does the Mumbai vs Bombay. Dilli vs Delhi neither. What a Pani Puri with hot ragda can do for a resident of Maharashtra, the Delhi girl in me could not understand in my few years in that part of the country.
When I arrived back in Delhi, I loved what the good old Delhi Golgappa with cold, boiled potatoes and chickpeas and teekha pani did to my tastebuds. In Delhi, for sometime now, I find myself craving Pani Puri, the Maharashtrian way at times, and the Vada Pav very often. If there is any difference at all between the two cities, that I'd readily admit, it is the pricing. Bombay food is cheaper. Period.
When one of my favourite Bombay eateries opened up in Delhi, I decided to give it a try. Shiv Sagar, of Bombay fame has a Janpath address now. #Win


The ambience is welcoming. A Bombay person would easily connect. Start your meal at Shiv Sagar with a pineapple or watermelon juice, as I recommend them for their taste and freshness. Ask for a no-masala version, if you please, else they add it by default. I had a sample of 6 juices they offer on a sci-fi test tube platter, all of which I enjoyed. The sev puri comes recommended too. Papri topped with potatoes, a medley of chutneys and spices, finished with a generous helping of sev and pearls of pomegranate. Street food, the hygienic way, served up on the table. I'd have preferred it a bit more spicy. 



Shiv Sagar also manages to do justice to the quintessential Maharashtrian street food, the Vada Pav. The chilli garlic powder on the side is amazing too! If you are in the mood for something tangy, go for the chinese bhel. It is neither Chinese nor Bhel, but crispy fried noodles tossed in a sweet and sour sauce and topped with onion and coriander. Yum!


Last but not the least, do not leave Shiv Sagar, Delhi without sampling their Pav Bhaji. Doused in butter, it is the nearest you can get to the Bombay version. Other offerings at Shiv Sagar that one should try are the Veg Makhanwala, Veg Kolhapuri, Biryani with Raita and the cheese grilled sandwich. Icing on the cake? They are gonna turn into an all-day dining, just like Bombay. And the prices will make every Delhiite smile on their way out. Very pocket friendly! An average meal would cost about Rs 800 for two.





Wednesday, December 03, 2014

The Pop Up



After trying out many a new cuisine and variations of the same, Delhi dining is steering towards out-of-the-box concepts or so it seems. Take The Pop Up as a case in point. This new refurbished restaurant replaces the erstwhile Tonic at Siri Fort complex, albeit for three months. The chefs at the very successful Tres in Lodhi Colony, Jatin Mallick and Julia Carmen Desa, are behind the kitchen counters. And here's a teaser of what you can expect at The Pop Up.



Finger-licking good tomato jam and chilli oil keep you busy till you are ready for your order. Do not miss the awesome plating.


Skeeter started with an Undressed tart of sundried tomatoes with goat's cheese, caramelised onions, bell peppers, salad greens and tomato infused balsamic (Rs 400). The dish balanced the myriad flavours well and set the tone for the evening, leaving me curious about the next dish, but the presentation got a thumbs down.


Our next order was the Kashundi and dijon baked button mushrooms on a crispy croute (Rs 375). The mushrooms came HOT on the table, we loved the temperature and the taste. This dish would've lost all glory had it not been served at that temperature. The explosion of mustard in the mouth satiated us. The croute beneath was not crispy though and that is hardly a complaint because beneath the bread we found to our surprise some Oyster mushrooms!!! So we are not sure if it was deliberately not mentioned on the menu (like it was supposed to Pop Up as well?) or what but we loved what we ate!



For the mains Skeeter had a Doh'nut burger with Pan roasted winter vegetables and Shiitake mushrooms and cheese (Rs 450) which came topped with water chestnuts that looked like little square chunks of cheese. Two doughnut buns replaced the regular big fat burger bun, so this could easily be shared. It tasted great and I believe it was the chef's take on a meatless burger with lots of oomph and texture. A big hit on the table. The icing (or cheese?) on this burger was that the waiters are well-informed and had forewarned about how the Doh'nut burger has two portions and can be shared. A big thumbs up to them.
The portions at The Pop Up are very generous. Knowing that, I still went ahead to order a side of Hand Cut Double Cooked Fat chips drizzled with a blue cheese sauce. At Rs 150, they easily are the winners of the best deal for fries in town and that it is winter, only helps!


A refreshing cucumber lemonade was a welcome break from the regular soft drink suspects on the menu.



The Tian of Dark and White chocolate mousse with a layer of wine jelly was only a befitting end to a superb meal. Rush to The Pop Up while it lasts :)