I hate change. As I reluctantly accept that we're in the midst of winter, I needed something to look forward to as we inch towards spring. For me, food is the answer. In fact, food is the answer to most questions. So as we move from one season to the next, I adapt by immersing in new discoveries, relentless failures and as a result, highly acclimatised taste buds. For few can match the warmth & comfort of a pretty plate of food.Read More
“As winter creeps up
We snuggle and hide,
From that frosty cold
That does indeed bite.
A warm meal
Makes us drool and dream,
A steamy sinful stew
With dollops of cream.
A movie and a blanket
A loving kiss,
Comfort for that hunger
That’s one granted wish.
And with a stomach full
We in happiness sway,
Winter isn’t that bad
When summer is on it’s way..”Read More
Here's the truth. I have no idea how I came up with this recipe.
A lazy Saturday lead to me cook up a quick, yet comforting, dinner where I could use up all that was in my fridge (as I was going on holiday soon). I found tomatoes, onions, red pepper, zucchini, some frozen leftover chicken meatballs and a packet of chinese noodles. I love creating recipes with what's on hand, so I decided to use the noodles as a 'spaghetti' base, and create an Indian-inspired spicy sauce with he remaining ingredients to go along. And what could be better than the much loved Butter Chicken?!With a few twists, out came a perfectly balanced and super satisfying Indo-Italian-Chinese fusion that worked in every way, and came together in under 30 minutes.Read More
It's been a while since I wrote about an event. I must be busy.
Someone asked me today whether my events are getting easier [and better] as I host more and more of them. It got me thinking about my first popup just a year ago. And boy (if I may say so myself), have I improved. From struggling to fill 10 seats, to 20 spots going off in a flash within 48 hours, I am inclined to think I must be doing something right. And learning. Still learning.Read More
"It's September! see what a season brings, a cooling breeze, and your heart does sing
Changes to the plate, and that sullen mood, it's time to reconnect with your food
Take a gamble, give a new cuisine a try, perhaps a spiced fritter in lieu of that french fry?
Whatever you dare, it'll be oh-so neat, for there will be new storytellers you'll meet
There is magic on a table that shares, moments of unparalleled freedom from worldly cares
So eat, smile, give a compliment or two...nothing like happiness from a taste new!
When you're done, take a look around, count the new friends you just found
Wasn't this as simple as just being you? and that my friends, is a dining experience true!"
You know those weeks when you wake up everyday and something seems to go wrong? This, is definitely NOT it. This week I feel elated, accomplished and pretty exhausted. Go on, ask me why.
On Wednesday, in a collaboration with Komeeda NYC, I hosted a popup picnic dinner under the Brooklyn & Manhattan Bridges. The setting was perfect, the wind was on our side, the sunset gleaned brighter than usual and along with my wonderful co-host, the guests were just the kind of bunch you want to spend a random NYC Wednesday evening with. In short, it was magical. And I was so glad to be a part of creating it all.
In a true 29. style, the meal consisted of a 5-course indian inspired menu. The guests were welcomed with mini spicy rice frittata bites smothered in mint yogurt and curried eggplant toasties. Not a bad way to begin eh? While they said their hellos, got to know each other, and prepared for the surprise that awaited, we lit some candles, spread out the cushions and worked our way to the highlight of the day - the dinner.
As the sun set over the Brooklyn & Manhattan bridges, our popup came to life. The courses, seasonal, balanced and apparently scrumptious (duh!), started with a raw Chilled Green Grape Soup with with mint, ginger & spices. A roasted Chickpea Chaat in a tangy tamarind vinaigrette colored the plates next. Then came the Fishcake Sliders - my personal favorite - and complementing it was a little game to keep our guests in the spirit (and occupied while I plated the next course!). The fourth and final savory course was a trio of Turmeric Pilaf, Masala Chicken & Spiced Lentil Broth. I had to respect the carrot season so the dessert was one of my regulars, Carrot Halwa drizzled with gooey homemade burnt sugar caramel & coconut dust. (Mmm, I might have some leftovers as I type..)
Needless to say I had fun. And as I leave with you with a more visuals of an event that we would've loved to meet you at, a BIG shout out to all those who came! Especially my collaborator-in-crime and the brain behind Komeeda, Jabber, and our shutter-eye for the evening, Felix, who's photos reflect the very essence of the event! (Check out his photography at Cooperfield Weddings)
Oh, and there is much more where this came from. 'Nuff said. Watch this space!
Every summer has a story. Mine is soaked in spice, color & laughter.
Yes, it may not be over, but the end of warm months is nigh. And before I go on holiday, I want to leave you with glimpses of some of my past dinners. The flowers, berries, sunny days and sweet compliments sure inspired me to roll out one event after another. And with that came many a new dish. Some good, some amazing and those that just got by. But each plate was a learning experience.
"It starts with the lists, grueling with many a slip...
On to the little wins, that welcome the guests as they step in...
I might be the host of the night, but it's the food that steals the show at every bite
And sometimes I am caught in a moment deep, or a note that makes me weep!
And when the sweet does come into sight, you gotta see the guest's plight!
Hopeful, happy or just hungry, whatever your emotional yearning may be
Don't wait for a friend or two, come join my table already will you!"
“Chicken so tender
It melts right through,
With flavor & spices
Oh-so fool proof.
Baked or pan-fried
That’s your call,
But the taste takes you back
To that late-night tikka stall!
Munch away, no guilt
It has not much oil,
But superior in every way
From that [yawn] soup on the boil…”
6 chicken drumlets (skin on)
2 tablespoons full cream yogurt
6 cloves of garlic, finely crushed
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 green chili, finely diced
½ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon red chili powder or paprika
1 heaped teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon garam masala
¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
Juice from one lemon
Handful of fresh coriander , roughly chopped (leaves & stalk)
Salt to taste
Olive oil to cook
Wash the chicken pieces and pat try on a kitchen towel.
Mix all the ingredients for the marinade. Rub the mix all over the chicken pieces, making sure you rub under the skin as well. Refrigerate overnight or for 6-8 hours.
To cook, you can follow either of the below.
Pre heat the oven to 400 F. Grease a cookie sheet/ baking tray and line the drumlets, skin side down. Drizzle some olive oil over the pieces. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove cover, turn the drumlets skin side up, and bake for another 30 minutes, till the skin begins to brown. Give it a quick 5-6 minute broil in the end to crisp the skin. Remove from the oven and let it rest covered for a few minutes.
Stove top method
Heat 2-3 teaspoons olive oil in a non stick pan. Once hot, line the drumlets skin side down (they should sizzle immediately!). Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes on medium flame. Turn the pieces around and cook for another 8-10 minutes or till full cooked. Remove cover, turn up heat to crisp up the skin. Remove from heat and let it rest covered for a few minutes
Serve hot with a dash of yogurt or sour cream and your favorite salad.
Leftover tip: Remove the meat from the bones and refrigerate for a second treat the next day! Can be turned into a delicious lettuce salad, chicken sandwiches, nacho cups or a topping on your favorite pilaf or biryani.
“Green lentils with a kick
Taste-worthy of every lick
A stew for the cold
For the mighty & bold
Herbed & spiced
With vegetables diced
With crusty ol’ bread
For a yummy dinner spread!”
1 cup green lentils, boiled [don’t drain the liquid]
2 Italian chicken sausages, casing removed and crumbled/finely chopped
1 small red onion, sliced lengthwise
2 plum tomatoes, diced
½ cup carrots, diced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small green chili, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 dried red chili, broken in half
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 tablespoons light olive oil
A small bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Salt to taste
Heat oil in a non-stick skillet. Add cumin seeds, bay leaf & dried chili and cook for a minute. Add garlic, ginger, fresh green chili and cook till the garlic begins to brown. Stir in the onions along with a little salt. Cook till they turn translucent. Now add the tomatoes, along with remaining dry spices. Cook covered on a medium-low flame till the tomatoes are tender and oil begins to separate. Crush any big tomato chunks and add the sausage & carrots. Sauté till the chicken is fully cooked and then add lentils, ½ cup water & fresh coriander. Cover and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes. Serve hot with a dash of cream / yogurt & warm crusty bread. Healthy, wholesome & absolutely delish!
Try this, and other scrumptious dishes at my upcoming dining experiences!
With spring in full bloom, it's time to dust off the cobwebs from that pile of party invites.
Whether you are a pro-host, or one who struggles with putting out an appetizer table, these simple tips will help you make your night just a tad fancier.
Also check out my latest recipes for inspiration, some upcoming supperclub meals and my very first PopUp dinner in NYC this June! And if you can't be bothered entertaining, but love a feast, contact me & join my table instead. It's always dressed to host you!
1. Spring is all about color. Not only should your dishes be dressed up with fresh produce, even the table deserves a little love. Use old wine bottles to create DIY vases that look oh-so-adorable with a swig of flowers!
2. Be creative. Use wine tumblers to serve entrees like rice based dishes. Why you ask? Well, why not! Isn't it simply beautiful?
3. Mix & match ingredients. Play around with food - sometimes the strangest of combinations create the most mind blowing bite. The jar of olives in your cupboard, the almost-stale bread, the endless bunch of kale ....are not quite as unworthy as you think. This dish - a spicy chicken dumpling served atop a creamy curried cauliflower puree was an absolute hit at my dinner!
4. Get people in the mood. The only thing worse than bad food at a party, are bored guests. Get the happiness started with little shots that help break the ice and get the conversations flowing. Trust me, it'll work.
5. Something fresh. Salads - an element that most Indian meals are devoid of. Add an individual sized seasonal salad, like this squash & cucumber 'spaghetti' w/ pickled radish & cilantro lime dressing, to your buffet table. Not only is it uber simple to put together, but it will also add a vibrant crunch to your meal. Oh, and chill your dishes before serving - it will keep the crunch that much longer!
6. A Giveaway. Who doesn't love a little competition. Incorporate an easy game into the evening, with a winning gift of something edible, something handmade or something you prize - like a cookbook. Not only does it encourage interaction, it shows you off as the power host you now are...
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.
And while you read, don't forget to make yourself that perfect Castello Moments grilled cheese to go along...
- Potato Gratin from Lemon-Sugar
- Savory Cheese Crackers from An Edible Mosaic
- Cheese Tasting & Pairing from Girli Chef
- Spinach & Cheese Bake from The Village Cook
- Cheese Inspiration & Recipes from Taste Food Blog
- Cauliflower-Au-Gratin from Foodie Fiasco
- Cheese Cookies from Funand Food Cafe
- Three Cheese Flatbread from Itsybitsy Foodies
- German Picnic Salad from Daring Gourmet
- Roasted Sausages & Summer Veg with Garden Fresh Pesto from My Humble Kitchen
- Wine & Cheese Pairing 101 from The Roasted Root
- Four Creative Crostinis from Shared Appetite
- Cheese Ice Cream and a Cheesfest from The Colors of Indian Cooking
- Cheesy Grits, Shrimp Tacos w/ Classic Castello and Tomato Crostini from 30a Eats
- Cheese Platter Perfection from Cooking with the Books
- Lemon Artichoke Pesto Pasta from Anecdotes And Apples
- Chive Chili Cheese Souffle from Camille
- Brocolli & Red Onion Quesadillas from Cooking Westchester
- Paignets from From Brazil to You
- Cheese Souffle from Home Made Delish
- Alpine Pizza from Fritos and Foie Gras
- The Gooey Affair from The B Critic
- Gougeres from Blogging Over Thyme
- Beer Cheese Pairing from Kitchenette Blog
- Braised Short Rib French Onion Soup from Sea Weed & Sassafras
- Cheese & Caramelized Onion Biscuits from Chef Karolina
- Wine Tasting, Toas-tite Grilled Cheese, Chicken Couscous and Truffle Mac&Cheese from Where and What in the World
- Roasted Garlic Beer & Cheese Dip from Lizzy Pancakes
Win a Private Cheese Tasting in your own home - enter by clicking on the banner below. Castello Moments and this post is a collaboration between the blogger and Arla Foods USA.