Chocolate Cardamom Cream Puffs

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“Light & airy, in a bite

You seem like nothing, but have that might

Creamy, oozy, Mmmm.. you sound

Of happiness, smiles, and love newly found

Pop in a few, and those worries run

It’s song and dance, and all things fun

What’re you waiting for, c’mon off you go

Roll up your sleeves, and make a few!”

 CreamPuffs5

I have always been scared of puffs. And all things pastry. But these little bites of cloud were very so easy to make, and turned out pretty darn well for my first attempt! Oh, and as always, I filled them with a cardamom flavored chocolate cream for a sneaky indian twist!

Hopefully this post will encourage all those who have been shying away from making puffs, to don that apron and give it a bake.

Ingredients

Puffs (makes 15-18 bite sized puffs)

½ cup boiling water

¼ cup (4 tbsp) unsalted butter

½ cup flour

A pinch of salt salt

2 large eggs

Filling

½ cup heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons cocoa powder

¾ teaspoon brown sugar

2 green cardamom, crushed

Make the filling

Whip the cream till soft peaks form. Fold in the sugar, cardamom & cocoa. Give it another quick whip till the cocoa is well blended. Discard the cardamom skin and refrigerate for at least an hour to get it chilled.

Make the puffs

Boil the water in a saucepan. Add the butter to the water and stir until melted. Stir in the flour & salt, and mix well till the dough starts to come together and a sticky, homogeneous ball is formed (see below).

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Remove from heat and add 1 of the eggs. Beat well and let the mixture stand for 3-5 minutes. Add the other egg and, once again, beat well. Let it stand for 10 minutes. Mix for the last time and put the mixture into a piping bag. Snip off the edge of the bag, and put dollops of the mixture on a cookie tray, approximately 2 inches apart. You may use a spoon to do this, but the dough is rather sticky so I find it easier to use a bag!

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Pre heat the oven to 375 F and bake for 20-25 minutes, till the crust is light brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Mine were done in 22 minutes.

Cool completely and then fill with a teaspoon of the cocoa cardamom cream. Eat immediately.

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You can use a variety of fillings such as banana cream, rum ganache (trust me on this one!), vanilla custard, ice cream (mmm!) or even go savory with chicken or a creamy salad. Let your imagination run wild, and enjoy this light & creamy snack bite-sized snack!

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Apple, Cardamom & Mascarpone Doughnut Holes

Apple Doughnut Holes4

“Like gulab jamuns, only not,

Like doughnut holes, not store bought.

A warm bite, with a dollop of cream

Life seems perfect, and not a wild dream.

Pop one in, before it rolls away

Drizzle with honey, on a warm Saturday.

Make them once, share a few

A recipe old, in avatar new..”

When life gives you Mascarpone, Tiramisu [however delicious!], is not all you need to make.

Staring at a bag of apples, a tub of mascarpone and a cupboard full of spices, I got thinking - spiced doughnuts! The only thing I did not want to use was cinnamon, since apple-cinnamon combo is such an overkill. So I went with cardamom - a favorite in every Indian pantry. Out popped these airy bite-sized donuts, with a warm crisp exterior, not too sweet, and subtle flavors of cardamom & apple. Almost like Kheer in a disguise. Mmmm...

The recipe is a keeper as you can make it with different flavors and serve with a variety of sprinkles & syrups to make it seasonal/suite the palate. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, they're so darn easy to make!

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Ingredients

2 eggs, lightly beaten

4 oz mascarpone, at room temperature

1 red apple, grated

4 green cardamoms, crushed

1 cup all purpose flour, sifted

1 tsp vanilla essence

1.5 tsp baking powder

¼ cup brown sugar

Coconut flakes/powdered sugar for sprinkling [optional]

1 teaspoon olive oil + Canola oil for deep frying

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Heat a non-stick pan and add 1 teaspoon olive oil along with the apples, sugar and cardamom. Cook on medium-high flame till most of the liquid has evaporated, and the apples turn brown and pasty – about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Discard the cardamom skin.

Soften the mascarpone by mixing it slowly so it resembles whipped cream. Stir in the apple mixture and fold. Do not mix vigorously or over mix as the mascarpone might curdle. Mix enough just to combine. Refrigerate for 2 hours to let the cardamom infuse.

In a bowl, mix the flour and baking soda. Add the egg, essence and cardamom infused apple mascarpone prepared earlier. Mix until just combined. The batter will be quite thick & sticky, but don’t worry, that’s just how it’s supposed to be!

Heat oil for frying in a deep bottomed pan. Using a mini ice cream scoop, drop scoops of batter into the oil, and turn occasionally. Remove when golden brown. Drain on kitchen towels and sprinkle with powdered sugar or coconut flakes. Enjoy with a dollop of cream, chocolate syrup [yum!], jam or your favorite caramel!

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Peach & Rum Trifle

"Through my recipes and words,  I'll relive my mum,

She who taught me to cook, and make it a chore fun.

As she sifted, measured & baked, raising an eyebrow to me

'Would you a spoon a dollop, and lick the batter to see?'

Hell yes, the best part of being sous chef it was!

Life in the kitchen, she said, is a life without laws...

So today, as I remember her smiles, frowns & rage

Wishing she was here, to taste my batter for a change!

I whip up a colorful treat, for mums everywhere, 

Those that are, will be, or love one who endlessly shares.."

Peach Trifle9

My mother was very particular about her tools.

From the day she enrolled in a baking class, to the day she lived, she owned just one hand mixer, blender, cookie pan, measuring cups & spoons, food weighing scale, sewing machine.....etc. She insisted that if you took care of things, no matter how expensive or cheap, they will last you a lifetime - however long or short that might be. So, amongst other things, I inherited her mixer. A lovely Moulinex, that, in those days, was considered rather fancy.

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It was rare to travel out of India when she was growing up. So, when my aunt was returning from Algeria, she jumped on the chance to ask her for a 'dough maker'. For making 'chapati' dough I suppose! But my aunt, having never heard of such a thing, got her this instead. Just as well, for she used to whip the batter by hand till that day!

I remember using it for our chocolate cake sessions during the school holidays, and was quite disappointed that it won't work in the US. But lo and behold, it did. Life sure has funny ways to make you happy.

Peach Trifle6

One of her favorite desserts was a Trifle - a cake dessert that [i think!] was inspired by the British rule in India. She told the neighbors about it, scribbled varying versions of it in her cooking notes, took it for pot lucks and served it at plenty a gathering. And when I got a bit older, she would ask me to help as she assembled it, and later tell everyone that I had made dessert that day..... Talk about pride.

So this mothers day, I could think of nothing more than to whip up a version her beloved treat. Using her special tool ofcourse! The mini trifles are soft & boozy bundles of sponge cake slathered with layers of custard, cream & sweet rum caramelized peaches.

The bites makes you happy, and the rum makes the happiness linger. Magic or love? You decide.

Ingredients

1 medium round sponge cake [I used this easy recipe but you can buy one off a bakery as well]

12 teaspoons + 1 tablespoon dark rum

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons maple syrup

6-8 fresh ripe peaches, pitted and sliced

1/2 cup warm milk

For the custard [ I like making it from scratch, but you can use a custard mix as well]

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

5 green cardamoms, crushed

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

A pinch of salt

Peach Trifle3

To make the custard, mix the milk, cream & crushed cardamoms, and bring to a simmer. Make a paste with a teaspoon of the warm milk mixture, corn starch & salt. Slowly add the corn starch paste to the simmering milk, stirring continuously, till the milk begins to thicken. Let it bubble for few seconds and then remove from heat. Discard the cardamom skin, and stir in sugar and vanilla essence. Keep aside to cool.

Beat the cream with maple syrup till soft peaks form. Refrigerate.

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Put the peach slices, along with a teaspoon of brown sugar, in a non stick pan on high heat. As the sugar begins to caramelize, add 1 tablespoon of rum and give it a quick toss. Remove from heat and cool.

Cut out 2 inch rounds from the sponge cake and slice each round in half. Layer one half at the bottom of your serving dish. Soak it in some warm milk & a teaspoon of rum, and press it down slightly. Put a dollop of custard, followed by a dollop of whipped cream, and then a slice of the caramelized peach. Top with the other half of the cake and repeat the layers. Do this with all the rounds from the cake.

Peach Trifle4

Peach Trifle7

Oh and don't throw away the remaining corners & crumbles from the cake! Make extra portions with those. Just use broken up cake instead of rounds and do the same exact thing.

This dessert tastes great after 24 hours, and even better after 48! Trust me, it's worth the patience.

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Peach Trifle5

Apple Coconut Kheer (Pudding)

Apple Kheer6“Peeking from the leaves, looking as red as love,

They tempt me to be evil, and reach out to pluck.

Juicy & luscious, in my arms they lie,

Some I eat, some I save, for that oh-so-scrumptious pie!

But as I to my kitchen go, in pursuit of a treat mid-day,

I yearn to be creative, with my friends on the tray.

So I roll up my sleeves, and bring you this sweet,

That is just as much magic, as an apple on a tree…”

Ingredients

2 red apples, washed and grated

1 cup full-fat coconut milk

½ cup whole milk (optional)

½ cup water

1 teaspoon vegetable/coconut oil

1 teaspoon palm sugar, jaggery (shakkar/gud) or maple syrup (adjust to taste)

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Apple Kheer4

Heat oil in a deep-bottomed pan and add the grated apples. Cook stirring continuously till the apples become softer and most of the moisture has evaporated. Add the sweetener and cook for another 4-5 minutes till the sugar melts and apples soften further. They should start to get soft & pasty, almost like stewed apples. Now add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Continue to cook till the coconut milk has halved, and the apples are completely cooked. Now add the whole milk [optional] & water, and continue to cook on medium-low flame to bring to a second simmer. Let the mixture cook till it begins to thicken. Remove from heat, pour into serving dishes and chill for 1-2 hours. Sprinkle with cinnamon (or nuts) & serve chilled.

A gluten-free, sugar-free sweet treat that will make you wanting more!

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Notes:

Cook the apples only in coconut milk & water for a delicious vegan/paleo version!

Apples naturally contain a fair bit of sugar, so add less sweetener in the beginning, and adjust to your liking towards the end.

Apple Kheer5

Maple, Yogurt & Olive Oil Cake

Maple Yogurt Pound Cake2“Have it at tea

Or with a dollop of cream,

Grey will turn to blue

And winter to spring serene.

Happiness will return

With a mouthful of cake,

There is no place like home

For this magical bake.

So roll up your sleeves

And get covered in flour,

Soft, moist, gently sweet

It’ll be gone in an hour!”

Maple Yogurt Pound Cake4 Maple Yogurt Pound Cake6

Adapted from a Food52 recipe

Ingredients

¾ cup grade A dark amber maple syrup

¾ cups non fat yogurt

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla creamer (or vanilla essence)

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

½ cup light olive oil

Maple Yogurt Pound Cake5

Pre heat the oven to 350 F.

Beat eggs slightly and combine with the syrup, yogurt and creamer. Stir till the mixture is smooth. Mix the flour, salt & baking powder separately and add to the wet ingredients. Stir till just combined. Finally add the oil and fold with soft movements till the oil is fully incorporated in the batter (there should be none floating on top).

Pour into a greased bread or cake pan and bake in the centre rack for 45-50 mins. The edges will turn brown and crisp, and a toothpick inserted into center should come out clean. Cool slightly and cut into pieces. Enjoy warm with a cup of cardamom chai. Delish!

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4 Culinary Finds in & around Durban, South Africa

DrankensbergPanoramaWhen people think of South Africa, they think apartheid, history and a few scattered beaches. Rarely does anyone think food. But after traversing miles of sun-bathed vineyards, conquering grueling hikes & engulfing waves, jumping off cloud-high bridges & driving down spotless roads, people get hungry for more than just adventure. Thus, knowing places that serve up delicious fare in my 'hometown-in-law' always comes handy.
I spend at least 2 weeks every year in South Africa. Housing the big five, it also happens to be home to my husband's family ;)! My trips are always about quality time with the in-laws, baking gooey brownies for the nieces & nephews, exploring the Drakensberg mountains near Durban and of course, letting the sleuth in me dig out those tucked away cafes and culinary spots! To me, no holiday is complete without any of it. 
Below is a list of some places I have loved visiting. Whether it's the food, coffee, decor, ambience, the crowd or a simple memory, each place has a special place in my heart, and today I'd like to share it with you.
 
Puppy Love at Freedom Cafe: An old shipping container houses this quaint coffee shop and brunch spot for the Durbanites. Nestled away in the popular & artistic Musgrave district of Durban, this is surely a midday go-to date spot. With a distinct love & theme of dogs, the cafe is adorned rustic seats and plenty of colorful curios. And as though the concept wasn't creative enough, each cup of coffee comes with little dog-bone shaped biscuits. Just the sight makes you go 'awwww..'. I'd go back just for those!  
 
Coffee & Cakes at I Want My Coffee: Yes, I absolutely do. This quirky spot near the Gateway mall in Umhlanga is the place to go for a tall iced latte & a light bite - all while soaking in the relentless Durban sun. With communal tables, plenty of books, wall-full of writings and a range of sweet & savory options, you will never feel alone here. The cafe also boasts of unique home-made coffee flavors such as orange cinnamon or chili chocolate (what!). Oh, and their lamingtons are delish! So, next time you're in surf city over the holidays, gather some cheer with their ever-smiling baristas and give this little birdie a try. 
 
Beer Tasting at Claren's Brewery: A short trek from Durban, but totally worth it. Situated in the quaint & arty town of Clarens in the Free State, this bar-cum-brewery is surrounded by everything that should surround a beer - mountains, art, color, sun & smiling faces. With an in-house roastery and a range of beers & ciders to chose from, this is exactly the boost you need at the end of that breathtaking hike!
Oh, and if beer isn't your poison, there are also an aromatic roastery next door churning out the best coffee in the region - the popular Highlands Coffee!

Bunny Chow at The Grove, Chatsworth Centre: Bunny chow! Where do I even start. Legend has it when Indians first migrated to South Africa, as laborers in the sugarcane plantations, they required a meal that was not only wholesome & flavorful (yes, we Indians have very strict palates), but also easy enough to carry to the field. Think grains, meat, bread etc. That's when the ladies decided to hollow a loaf of bread, and package the curry inside for them to carry. Pretty brilliant if you ask me. And definitely delicious! Anyway, Bunny Chow is somewhat of a culture in Durban. With each spot vouching to serve the 'hottest curry in town', there are a handful that the locals love. The Grove, situated in the old Indian area of Durban, is one such place. Don't expect an ambience when you go here. Walk in, take your pick from the extensive menu, wait with bated breath for it to arrive and then devour it with all your might. You might need a few bottles of water and a handful of wet wipes on the side. But the feeling in the end of it all will make you float. Spice lovers, your satisfaction is guaranteed. 

White Chocolate & Cardamom Kheer (Rice Pudding)

White Chocolate Kheer4“A gift from my kitchen

Straightforward & fast,

Wholesome, with spices

That’ll fill up your heart.

Call it comfort-ilicious

Or flavors in a bowl,

It’ll complete your meal

And warm up the soul..

Oh and did I mention

A boil is all it needs,

Simple to make, yet tasty?

Now that’s a recipe for keeps!”

White Chocolate Kheer2

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 cups whole milk

6 tablespoons white Basmati rice

3 green cardamoms, crushed

2 tablespoons brown sugar

6-8 pitted dates, hydrated & chopped

8-10 pieces of white chocolate

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In a deep-bottomed pan, bring to boil the milk, cardamom & sugar. Once boiled, add the rice and cook on medium low flame so the mixture is just simmering. Continue to cook till the rice is soft and fully cooked. Turn heat to high and give it another boil to slightly thicken the kheer. [PS-At this stage, it’s already a delicious pudding and can be eaten as is. But the next step just adds a creamy twist to it..]. Discard any cardamom skin, and stir in the dates & white chocolate. Mix well till the chocolate is fully melted.

Chill for 2 hours & serve with a dash of cinnamon & caramel!

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White Chocolate Kheer1

29. Dining Experiences : A Visual Journey

It's the 29. Busi-versary! {err, do you have a better word for it?}

Last year on this very day I launched the 29. Private Kitchen. Without a firm idea of the direction I was headed in, I decided to just cook my way through it. And that is exactly what I have been doing!

With a busy start to the year [in a good way!], more & more people are rolling up their sleeves to dig in to some Indian Tapas. Well, high time! Thus, the 29. kitchen has been anything but untouched. And although I might have been less-than-prompt at posting recipes, I always have enough photographs to keep you occupied. Here is a snippet of my culinary journey through Jan & Feb 2014...

[Unless otherwise mentioned, all photography is copyright of 29.Calories]

Pickled Potato Cracker Cups - Photo Courtesy Suite3-Oh-6

Sweet Potato Chaat - Photo Courtesy Suite3-Oh-6

Vegan Fritters - Photo Courtesy Suite3-Oh-6

29. Business Cards

Water Station

Spicy Potato Cups

Tandoori Shrimp Cakes

Eggplant Kulcha Bites

Choco Coconut Tarts

Red Bean Salad Cups

Spouts & Kulcha Chaat

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Tandoori Meatball Chaat

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Sweet Potato Bites

Appetizer Buffet

Mint & Veg Biryani

Carrot Halwa Custard Parfait

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Date Tea + White Chocolate Truffles

 

Vegan Date Truffles

“Why celebrate love

A day each year we live,
When hugs & cuddles
Don’t measure & give.
Be different, be bold
No gift? Stop sighing!
Scoop up some cocoa
And get messy trying.
And when you wrap this
Homemade, not from a store,
It’ll hold all that you want to say
And a little bit more…”
Everyone wants to do a V-day recipe post. So I thought I may as well join the bandwagon. 
 
But guys! I am making it super easy for you. All those out there who cringe at making any home-made treats, this IS the one for you. There is no significant measures, no kneading, rolling, frying, braising, waiting on the timer etc etc....and the result is decadently sweet (although sugar free), moist and melt-in-the-mouth good. And they'd look rather cute as a gift too. 
 
If you're nodding your head at all the ingredients, then go pull them out and give it a try right now. Oh! and a penny for your thoughts. Please leave a comment!

Ingredients

1 cup pitted dates
½ cup walnuts or almonds
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 tablespoons coconut cream (the thick part of canned coconut milk)
1 tablespoon olive oil (or any tasteless oil)
Coconut flakes to coat

Add all the ingredients to a food processor and blend till you get a thick smooth paste. A few chunks here and there are fine. If the mixture is too dry to blend, add a teaspoon of water but make sure it doesn’t become too wet.

Transfer the mixture into a airtight container and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Once slightly firm, oil your palms and shape a teaspoon of the mixture into small balls. Toss in coconut flakes and enjoy!

Vanilla Cupcakes with Pomegranate Swirls

“Plain as vanilla
With a wintery splash,
Color and moisture
In a cupcake stash.
You don’t have to complicate
My mum used to say,
For a dessert satisfying
Or fancy and gourmet.
With a world of worries
Keep something straight,
Mix it up good
And let it magically bake.
And when it emerges
Moist, with happiness within,
Like a mother’s cuddle
You’ll let yourself sink..”
Keep it simple, mummy used to say. And this day, what would have been her 57th b'day, I decided to do just that. With the simplicity of a vanilla cupcake, and a dash of winter fruit color, these cupcakes are warm, moist, indulgent and addictive - much like a mother's love. 
 
My mother was an avid baker. Back in the day when baking wasn't quite considered art...or anything worth doing - at least not in India - she had enrolled in and completed a cake making & decorating course. "Our instructor, plump as a plum, must be eating most of what she [and we] bake", she used to joke. Her swift sifting movements, proud use of an "imported" hand mixer, frequent licks of batter and fast vanishing cakes were always the bigger, happier moments at home. And the smell. Oh the smell of a cake fresh out of the oven was enough to make us do any chore! 
 
I miss her every single day, and baking brings back a part of her to me. And since I don't consider myself quite the cake perfectionist [I hate measurements remember!], when something does turn out as well as these did, I can only wonder if she lent me a hand....
 
Happy B'day Mum. Love you always x
 
Ingredients (makes 24 mini cupcakes)
For the cupcakes
1 large egg
¼ cup whole milk
4 tablespoons vanilla coffee creamer (I used Nestle Coffee Mate)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1/3 cup brown sugar
¾ cup all-purpose flour
A pinch of salt
¾ teaspoon baking soda
For the swirl
¾ cup pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ cup water
 
Make the swirl
Blend the pomegranate, sugar and water together in a food processor. Run it through a sieve and transfer to a non stick pan. Cook on medium flame till the mixture thickens and the sugar begins to caramelize (approximately 7-9 minutes). Keep stirring till you receive a jam like consistency. Turn off heat and keep aside.
Make the cupcakes
Pre heat the oven to 350F.
Mix the flour, salt and baking soda and keep aside.
Mix the milk & creamer and keep aside.
Cream the butter and sugar together till light and fluffy. Add in the egg and beat vigorously for a few minutes till the mixture turns white and airy. I used my hands to do this so took me around 10 minutes, but with a hand mixer it should be a couple of minutes.
Working in batches, add to the batter a few tablespoons of the flour mixture, followed by the milk mixture. Mix well after each addition. Do this till all the flour and milk has been incorporated.
Transfer the batter to a mini muffin pan and add a dollop of the pomegranate jam on top of each cupcake. Using a toothpick or skewer, slowly mix the jam into the batter, so as to form swirls. Do not over mix.Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. A couple of these, a warm cup of chai and a lovable hug. Life doesn't get more perfect than that.
 

This Week in Food Pictures

"A busy week it's been
Successes, failures & new challenges seen,
A lot of cooking, yes lots
From little puddings to flavorful pots,
Trials & errors, recipes that repeat
Bites with crunch, and those with heat,
Events & dinners, people new
Reviewers, readers, and comments few,
Here are the snippets, simple & clean
Of food, colors, and the week that's been..."

It's been one busy week! While I work on the recipes, here are some pictures from all the adventures this week. If only these could fill you up eh!

Come try my food at one of the upcoming dining experiences! Got a large group? No problem! Contact me to discuss a private tasting.

Carrot Pudding with Burnt Sugar Pot De Creme

Event Buffet Table

Curried Cauliflower Soup 

Vegan Semolina Halwa with Orange Compote

Masala Minced Chicken Sliders with Beer Shooters

Popcorn & Chocolate Bread Pudding

Mint Chicken Tikka Salad on Bread Cups
Vanilla Cupcakes with Pomegranate Swirl

Top 10 Recipes & Tidbits From 2013

From exciting experiments to fearless failures, 2013 was a momentous year in the kitchen for me. It was also a year of my first half-marathon, lots of travel (4 different continents!), buckets of coffee, never-ending TLC from family, some downs but many many many ups. 

And as I welcome 2014 with new resolutions, earnest smiles, test recipes and you - my ardent readers, I can't help but look back fondly on some of my favorites from last year. Here is a list of my top 10 recipes (in no particular order).

Make me happy and leave me a comment with your picks will you?

1. Savory Jalebi for the beer guzzlers
2. Caramel Bread Pudding for those with a sweet tooth
3. Curried Guacamole for them Guac fans
4. Carrot Halwa Cheesecake or Parfait for those who love a twist
5. Okra Chips for the healthy
6. Masala Gobi Pizza for the experimental
8. Truffled Mushroom & Cheese Samosa for the bite-sized
9. Whole-Wheat Gougeres for the fancy french
10. Wonder Tea Recipes for all those who need to stop calling it 'chai-tea'!

Not to mention the fun I had creating, plating, feeding and [not] cleaning up for all my dining events! For memory sake, here is a photographic recap of some past events from 2013 - makes me pull my collar up high ;)


A big 29. shout out to all of you who made 2013 more-than-memorable! And remember, keep eating your way through 2014. 

Chocolate Carrot Pudding

“Another year closes
With feasts & memories few,
Only to begin again
With a January new.
Eat, travel, give a hug
And top with sprinkles some,
Live for the festivity
Yes, that time has come.
And in all that
Be a chocolate-loving friend,
Coz unless there is dessert
It’s never the end….”


2013 is almost over. Where did it go?

While you think of the days gone by, celebrate with some creamy carrot & chocolate pudding - and lots of sprinkles! This simple & quick recipe will come in handy when you have to entertain a gazillion people this holiday season. It certainly worked for me!

Ingredients
2 large carrots, grated
¾ cup brown sugar (adjust to taste)
½ cup heavy cream
125 gm dark chocolate (70% works best)
3 cups whole milk
Bring the milk and sugar to boil in a deep bottom pan. Add the carrots and cook till the carrots are soft and cooked through. Break the chocolate into pieces and mix it in. Let it simmer on medium heat till all the chocolate has melted and more liquid is absorbed – the consistency depends on your preference but personally I like it semi-thick so it feels creamy. Now stir in the cream, mix well and turn off the heat.
Serve warm with a dollop of cinnamon cream & sprinkles – just for that holiday feel.

Lazy to make it yourself? Come join my holiday dinner lineup in Dec & Jan and get a taste!

Christmas Colors - The Meal That Closed 2013!

"To those who came
And smacked their lips,
To those who thanked
And taught me tricks.
To those who support(ed)
And taste it all,
To those who fearlessly
Told me to get some balls.
To those who are patient
People old & new,
To those who with me
Bid 2013 adieu!
I love you much
With a heart so true,
Here's to 2014, and cooking
Many more storms for you..."

29. wishes all it's readers, supporters, commenters, criticizers a very very happy Holiday season!
Today I hosted the EatWith Management team for my last meal in 2013. Personally, it was a great deal. The team who has been monumental in helping me grow, market and keep working on what I love were actually in my living room. And thankfully, did not leave disappointed.

My meal was inspired with the colors of christmas - Red, Greed and a touch of Gold. And no, I don't believe in food colors. Why use artificial 'helpers' when nature offers so much. Don't believe me? Scroll down for the pictures and you'll see!

I started the team with warm Lentil Soup with a dash of Chili Sesame oil. Sounds strange? Try it - the Indian spices with a slight chinese kick was quite a combination. Be careful though, don't add too much. The soup was paired with spoons of curried chickpea hummus & homemade wholewheat crackers (baked namak paare). Notice the red, green & golden?

The conversation started just as the courses were heating up. I served
- Spicy Spinach Chicken in Bread Cups w/ a dollop of cream cheese. Inspired by all things green and similar to my Spinach Corn Deep Dish Pizza Bites.

- Masala Gobi (cauliflower) with Potato Fritter Nests & smashed Avocados. Yes please! My take on a sort of a deconstructed Aloo Gobi. This was an experimental dish but the combination did wonders, specially the spice from the gobi, crunch from the fritters and the creaminess of avocados! One satisfying bite. Inspired by the gold twinkle of the season. I also served some chilled Pomegranate & Mint tea along for those who might need some help with that tingling heat. 

- Last but not the least was the South Indian Tomato Brown Rice w/ Mint yogurt & homemade wheat crisps. Inspired by the happy red, I think this won the show - both by taste & presentation!

(PS-I was too excited to get pics of the first two, but will upload them when I make them next time!)


I ended the afternoon with Fig Milk Pudding Truffles dipped in a gooey dark chocolate ganache. And of course,the sprinkles for added happiness. I sneakishly grinned as I watched the guests play which-sprinkle-color-do-I-like-more? I think red won. Paired with some warm Cardamom Masala Chai, this had holiday written all over it!

The best part. The sunset decided to join in the fun and co-operate with my color theme! Bye bye 2013.

To try any of these dishes or teas, join me for my upcoming Dining Experiences in 2014, or contact me for a private tasting! I'll see you there.

The Last Lunch : A Thanksgiving Photo Journey

"Here's a little jingle
To start your holiday,
Food, fun & family
Or whatever makes you yay!
You don't have to be special
To enjoy a meal warm,
Eat with strangers 
And still soak up the charm..
Put on your best shirt
And grab that festive cheer,
Celebration is about you
So come make friends dear!"

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today, I hosted the last EatWith lunch in my apartment. No, I am not quitting. No ways! Just moving apartments.

In the true spirit of the holiday, my menu was an Indian-Inspired-Global-Style-Thanksgiving-Tapas : if there ever were such a thing! The idea was to go beyond America while enjoying Thanksgiving, and bring in that global palate in an authentic 29. style - by fusion or presentation. Thus, each course was served in a style popularized by another country/cuisine, but boasted of Indian flavors. Confused? Read on, you'll know what I mean.

We started on the streets of India. A warm Chicken Chili Soup with winter spices, paired with crisp Cumin Sweet Potato Poppers. 



It was a small group this time so I tried my hands at a sit down meal as well. It was different, and quite enjoyable actually!

The mains courses were:

1. A truly American inspired Turkey Fritters served with a sweet spiced mango chutney and Alfalfa sprouts. It's Thanksgiving, there had to be Turkey!

2. Traveling to Mexico, the guests had a go at Roasted & Spiced Eggplant Tacos with a cold carrot slaw.  [recipe coming soon]

3. Ending the savory courses with an Italian take on pilaf was the Curried Cauliflower Orzo Pilaf, served with some sprinkles for a crunch.







The journey had to bring you back to India eventually. So, the sweet showcase was a Semolina Coconut Pudding with a pomegranate burnt sugar glaze & cinnamon cream. A warm, silky end to a great holiday lunch. Thanks to all those who came, and hello to all those who I'll be seeing at my next few meals...