No Bake | Kokum Coconut Milk Panna Cotta … coastal flavours from friends #dessert #giftthanks #kokum

“I’m not a vegetarian! I’m a dessertarian!”
Bill Watterson

Kokum Coconut Milk Panna Cotta Kokum Coconut Milk Panna Cotta … as if the Italian version of the panna cotta wasn’t delicious enough, the coconut milk version is glass scraping good too. So when the very sweet Ajit posted about a kokum cooler on FB, I was instantly on his case. “Want Want Want”, I said {read pleaded}. The fine, ever obliging and efficient man that he is, ensured that I had a ‘kokum’ package in my hands a few days later. It was a 100 watt smile on my face I tell you!

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India 26

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India Ever since we had the sol kadi {top left corner, and just above} at Baramati on the wine fam trip to Four Seasons Winery a couple of years ago,  kokum has had me smitten. Must be a taste bud thingy. I might bake and make a load of sweet stuff, but my heart belongs to savoury. Piquant, tangy, sharp, citric … flavours that make my mouth water. Add garlic, astoefetida, sumac, phalsa berries, raw tamarind to the list and you just might hear my heart sing out loud.Kokum Coconut Milk Panna Cotta Kokum or Garcinia Indica  is indigenous to the Western Ghats region of India located along the western coast of the country. It is used as a staple souring agent typically in Goan cuisine and some parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka. Kokum yields a peculiar flavour and blackish red colour. It is a preferred substitute for tamarind in curries and other dishes from the Goa and Konkan region.

So you can imagine my happiness when the package with kokum arrived. With it, a sweet hand written note from the A of A & N, a blog that I first connected with several years ago. At the time A & N were in the US, and regaled their audience with tales of getting flood waters in their home, food and a lot more. The they came back to India, and we reconnected. A and me exchanged notes over ingredients, oohed and aahed over experiments with 100% whole wheat bread, and a lot more…

Whole Wheat BreadThe N of course is the sweetest thing to walk the earth… joyful, exuberant and uber talented. She works with of my most fave online furniture stores Urban Ladder. Anyway, to cut a long story short, A in his note said “I’m sure you’ll work your magic and turn it into something wonderful. Looking forward!” The pressure that didn’t allow me to make just a simple cooler. I wanted to make something to embrace sweet & savoury for summer….

Kokum Coconut Milk Panna CottaI knew it was panna cotta. To tie in the coastal flavours from where kokum is born, it was going to be a coconut milk panna cotta. Vanilla bean because I love it so, and it flavours the panna cotta gently.  More flavours because I have bunches of lemon grass growing outside, and a box of kaffir lime leaves in my freeze. The pairing was beautiful. The basic panna cotta pairs well with most fruit …. so think strawberries, cherries, blueberries, mango, blackberries…

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Fresh | Strawberry Kiwi Fruit Salad … go light with summer #healthy #summerfood

Strawberry Kiwi Fruit SaladIt’s the time of the year where your palette changes as the season changes. Springs given way to summer, and thankfully it’s been kind of mild so far. The flavours are shifting gear from hearty earthy soups to salads and smoothies galore.

Summer foods, healthyGrilled is in … sandwiches & barbeque. With it comes breads – wholegrain, chewy, deep, delicious. Yes the yeast in action gives rise to some fine French fougasse and foccacias and no one is complaining. Healthy food in Delhi is in, and it’s fun to see the change in food trends.summer coolersThe past two years have seen a shift in gears towards light food in Delhi. Though the number of  stand alone salad bars in Delhi are still limited, most coffee shops and restaurants have a live salad counter which throw up the most amazing of fresh and cooked salads all day long. Nirulas Pot Pourri was possibly the first ‘salad bar in Delhi’, one that brings back old memories of the 1980’s. Stone Fruit SaladWe would hang out on the ground floor in Connaught Place, having ‘escaped’ from school, sinking our teeth into 21 Love and Jamoca Almond Fudge. the Hot Chocolate Fudge was slightly steeper, so that was for special days, toasted cashews on top and the works! We’d climb upstairs sometimes to treat ourselves to the occasional grilled sandwich, passing by the salad bar, but never stopping for any! The precious pennies were saved to buy real food in our eyes, not pineapples and Russian salad!!

Healthy food makeoverHow times change when you grow up. How food on the table changes too! It’s actually a combination of an internet explosion, social media, interest in food, spending time in the kitchen, reading cookbooks and blogs non stop that lead to awakening. One constantly questions ‘what is on the plate’? And it’s a great way for youngsters to learn too!Fruit salad The son will not eat a meal without salad, he begins every morning with a fruit salad … it’s the best thing in the world he declares! What’s the fuss all about you might wonder. Nothing at all. It’s the Strawberry Kiwi Fruit Salad that I’ve been making for years. This is a simple, refreshing, make ahead or make instantly glass of joy.

SaladsStrawberries and kiwi are two very vitamin rich fruit, though can try experimenting with maybe melons and kiwi, or mango and strawberries, maybe litchi and melon… whatever is in season and forms part of your local produce. Throw in a bunch of fresh herbs from the garden, sit back and refresh yourself this summer!

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India


Grilling | GRILL IN with summer … a charcoal grill & herby lime chicken

“Barbecue should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
Albert Einstein

Grill In with herby Italian chicken Summer’s here and with it fun, healthier and lighter food. Did I forget the D word? Delicious too! There’s been quite a shift in the way I look at food, develop recipes, serve it up etc. The grains have gone whole, the sugars are less refined, usually natural or brown, and the oils are cold pressed or then clarified butter. Natural homemade white butter too. If you look at things, it’s actually a lifestyle change, teenie step by step, and it’s interesting to see how things can change bit by bit.

Eat healthyWith developing healthy and tasty recipes for Fit Foodie, to drinking more water, upping the protein and walking the extra mile with the GOQii campaign, this year couldn’t have begun on a better note. It isn’t about losing weight and the eternal calorie count. I’ve learnt as time goes by that holistic is better, that lifestyles are better when balanced, that changes don’t happen overnight.

Baby mustard greens stir fryAll this aligns with my food philosophy, being a locavore and eating seasonal. With the temperature rising, I thought I’d buy a sandwich grill. Online browsing is the best option for housebound me these days as I have work going on at home. landing up at the recently launched Home Store section of one of my favourite haunts, I was blown away by the choice.

Outdoor grill, FlipkartSO MUCH CHOICE! I almost forgot what I had landed up for…. my imagination took flight. Beginning from singular thoughts of a sandwich press, the boundaries expanded and how! I shifted gears and knew I now wanted a grilling something. Oh yes, good thought now that I was also cutting back carbs. I wanted a grill! So I set off and OH DEAR! Faced with more choice, online shopping has never been better. My search for grills threw up more temptation by way of the header ‘Barbeque & Grills’. Such fun. The prices are quite reasonable too from under Rs 1000 to about Rs 5000, I found enough choice for my kitchen and home. I have never seen so many colours too.

enamelware charcoal grill, flipkart So it was definitely this I zeroed in on an enamelware charcoal grill. Such a compact fun design, with the option of no legs {counter top}, half stand or stand on wheels, couldn’t have asked for more. Time to toss coins. Which colour? Red blue, green, white, yellow, black? Good heavens! Asked the lad at home because I oscillated between black and red. White he said with conviction, so white it was!Grill In with herby Italian chicken

An outdoor grill in summer is fun, fun, fun. This one is so convenient to use and compact too. The store {can mention Flipkart} is very prompt with updates and delivers expertly. Unpacking it, I loved the packaging and the thought behind the product. Such fun… I ave myself a pat on the back for such a great choice!

Grill In with herby Italian chicken
So here we go. A simple herby lime barbeque chicken to inaugurate my latest online indulgence. You must go and check out the range available. There are some great discounts available that you possibly won’t find in store. Oh, and don’t forget to tell me what you went looking for, and what you eventually bought. Were you strong willed, or weak willed distracted like me, hopping from one page to another, spoilt for choice?

Grill In with herby Italian chicken And I bought another something. You know my love for stoneware and black Manipur pottery. I was pleasantly surprised to see quite an extensive range of this online. To add to my collection, I bought this beautiful flat rectangular serving dish. Was a perfect fit to serve the skewers on. They’ve got an enviable range. For those who cannot make it to Dilli Haat, this is the place to go.

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India