Feature | Walking through the streets of Old Delhi on a cold winter morning #winter #food #props #delhi

‘Food is not rational. Food is culture, habit, craving and identity.”
Jonathan Safran Foer

Old DelhiThere can be nothing better than an impromptu walk through the streets of Old Delhi on a cold winter morning. Unplanned turned out even better. One day, a couple of weeks ago, I tumbled out of bed feeling restless and tired of work. The cold had been getting to me, work progressing slow and somewhat unsatisfactory! I needed a fix, and for me it was an instant decision.

Old Delhi With Mr PAB away in HKG, it was a free day. I literally tumbled out of bed into a very foggy and cold morning. Then bitten by the familiar addictive ‘old delhi bug‘ once again, within the hour I was on a train into the beautiful old city. The experience is always enriching, and to my delight, I found this impulsive visit an eye opener.Old Delhi 3For me, Purani Dilli or Old Delhi, or the walled city too as it is sometimes called, is synonymous with two things. Prop shopping is the big bait for the incorrigible prop collector that I am. And obviously, some of the best places to eat in Delhi is the other. It’s the ambiance that charms you, tempts you to go back over and over again – the flavours, the sights and sounds, the cacophony!

Old Delhi No North Indian food is complete without sweets, and the streets of the old city do not disappoint! Having never been to Old Delhi during the peak of winter, I was elated to dive straight into a light, airy and heavenly bowl of the elusive Daulat ki Chaat. Pure love!! It was everything Pamela Timms wrote it to be in her beautifully written book on Old Delhi – Kheer, Korma & Kismet! In the back of my head, the pages of her book turned, one by one. So much connect. Felt like kismet.

Old Delhi A quick chat with the gentle, sweet salesman and a few quick clicks later, I set off towards Jama Masjid. I wandered down the street which is home to some of the best restaurants in Delhi that offer old world rustic charm. Fresh, artisan food, aromatic, as spicy as you like it, flavours hard to find elsewhere. It was early and I wasn’t hungry for a meal, so just took in the flavours wafting through the air while lunch was being prepared. No sense of urgency at all, a languid charm, a nip in the air, lots of tea brewing everywhere..

Old Delhi Like most restaurants in Delhi, there is plenty of choice on offer here, though mainly North Indian cuisine. Since I was alone, I had plenty of time to take it all in. One place that caught my eye was a tiny little eatery offering Wazwan, Kashmiri cuisine. The tables already full with folk enjoying a late breakfast or an early lunch perhaps, the restaurant owner, an old man, was quite happy to chat with me. Old Delhi We talked about Srinagar since I had been there just last year, typical dishes {goshtaba, rajma, haaq, tabaq maaz, rogan josh}, that they cook everything on the first floor, how people come from far and wide to eat their food. I was really tempted but alas, with no appetite, instead opted for a nice cup of Kashmiri Namak Chai {salted tea}. What a revelation. Salty tea … deep, earthy, warming. Almost soup like! The best part was that the old man refused to take money for it. And that stunning samovar… a thing of everlasting beauty!

Old Delhi The samovar reminding me of why I was here, but sadly the shop I went in search for was shut. Quite disheartened, I hailed a rickshaw back to Chawri Bazaar and reluctantly stopped at a random copperware shop. Must have been my lucky day as the owners were more than happy to oblige! I returned giddily happy with stuff I fell in love with, stuff they couldn’t understand why I was so happy to buy. Once cleaned up, it shone. And how!!Old Delhi , food propsSpirits revived, it was another rickshaw ride again, this time to Khari Baoli as I had a promise to keep. Since it was past noon, the market is packed. Being Asia’s biggest spice market, trading is at a frenzy. The crowds carry you along, and it’s easy to get lost in all this mayhem. Visit it during winters as in summer the crowds can be pretty overpowering if you know what I mean. Bought some enamelware for a friend, some dry fruits that are always a part of the shopping list, took in the sights, sounds and smells… then very satisfied headed back to the train station. It was time to go back.

Old Delhi With a head full of memories and a bagful of goodies I reached home cold, exhausted but so so happy! I love any trip into the old city. The next trip will be on an empty stomach and with friends. The charm beckons you, the aromas call your name … kormas, rotis, rusks, sewain… it’s a food paradise. A food prop paradise too if you are lucky!

Don’t miss a post Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Baking | Wholegrain Holiday Biscotti {chocolate+cranberries+ginger+walnuts} … #‎saffolafitfoodie‬ #wholegrain #healthy #cookies

“Eat clean. Think straight. Work consistently. Speak positively. Motivate others. Believe in yourself.” Toni Sorenson

Wholegrain holiday biscottiWholegrain Holiday Biscotti. It’s strange that I post biscotti every so often. Each time Mr PAB travels I brace myself for the request. “Do you think you’ll have time to make me some biscotti?” Yes he is that predictable. And me? Equally unpredictable. Even if I am torn for time, I know I will definitely bake a batch. The unpredictable bit is that I cannot make the same recipe over and over again.IMG_4322That the biscotti was going to be healthy and wholegrain was a given. The beginning of the holiday season means a lot of additional flavours begin to dance in the head. Crystallised ginger, dried cranberries, orange, and walnuts of course… fun fun fun! Baking the batch gave me a chance to play around with this beautiful Acacia Wooden Cutting Board from Engrave that I recently received. Chopped the walnuts, ginger and cranberries on it, flipped it over and shot some more…Engrave

Meat or mushrooms, this rugged chopping board can handle it all. Hand crafted from a single block of Acacia wood, this rustic looking board is as comfortable in the lap as it on the kitchen counter. If you find one side is worn out from months if frantic chopping, flip it around for a second stint.

engraveEngrave have got a whole lot of fun, innovative and interesting products online. I especially love the Acacia range, but there’s plenty more in the lifestyle range. Their engraving and personalized products really stand out. There is loads of creativity on offer that includes plaques, canvas, name plates, ipad engraving … Wholegrain holiday biscotti 2…. back to baking and the queen of substitutions kicked in. It was going to be a chocolate base. Most whole grains work really well with chocolate, so no question of messing around there. I like that this recipe worked out well. Plenty of wholegrain – buckwheat flour, wholewheat flour and oats, it’s packed with nuts, ginger, cranberries too … all good for the winters. The recipe is a healthier take on the chocolate almond biscotti I made several years ago…. and that brings me to the Fit Foodie meter.

As you might know, I was part of the Saffola Oats campaign led by Michelin Star Chef Vikas Khanna last year to develop healthy and tasty recipes.Using wholegrain and healthy ingredients like oats, buckwheat flour, amaranth flour, whole sugars etc., I discovered a whole new world! There’s been no looking back…Cookshow with Chef Vikas Khanna , Deeba Rajpal Food Food TV, fitfoodieI developed  bunch of fun and interesting recipes. You can now find these on the FIT FOODIE website. There were a couple of videos shot for Food Food Channel as well. They are on the Saffola Fit Foodie site and on you tube too.This year around, I have been invited to hop on board and join their ‘Fit Foodie Panel‘.

Our panel of experts is the one that creates, carefully scrutinizes and approves every recipe that is available on the site. Headed by Michelin starred chef, Vikas Khanna, it includes die hard foodies, eminent chefs, popular food bloggers and renowned nutritionists who ensure that the scale is perfectly balanced on both health and taste. They cook, they taste and yes, they share exactly what works to spin that delightfully healthy meal on the table!

Saffola Fit Foodie Panel

The site offers another interesting concept that’s been developed by the efficient and creative team behind brand Saffola… the Fit Foodie Meter. It works hard to improve normally used recipes and give them a healthier makeover of sorts, yet keeps the tasty factor in place.

Fit foodie meter

The Fit Foodie Meter score is in a comparative format. The meter always shows the score for two recipes: 1) The ‘Regular Recipe’ or the most commonly prepared form of the dish and 2) The ‘Fit Foodie Recipe’ or the recipe presented in this website, which is an improved/modified version of the original dish. For example, if one were to take pizza as the dish, the Fit Foodie Meter would show the score for a regular veg pizza (Regular Recipe) and that for the Green Pizza (Fit Foodie Recipe) whose recipe is presented on this website. The greater the difference between the two scores, the higher the nutritive value of the Fit Foodie recipe in comparison to the Regular Recipe.

So join us at Saffola Fit Foodie as we try and get you healthier takes on recipes. Feel free to request for ‘recipe makeovers’ . Together we can reach our goal of tasty & healthy recipes. You can submit your healthier versions of recipes too. It’s a lifestyle change. Come be part of it!


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Don’t miss a post Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Blog Event |Indiblogger and alphabet soup – just words, no pictures #BeautifulFood

” A picture is worth a thousand words ….”

Well this is going to be a difficult post for me … words only, no pictures. For an obsessive shutterbug this might prove to be the most difficult challenge yet, but with a little shove from a dear friend, I am game to give it a shot!

“They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Can you use words to describe a great picture? Using words alone, write a blog post that describes a mouth-watering, perfect meal and how you can make it more beautiful with Borosil Glassware from myborosil.com.”

Interestingly we’ve had a few meal experiences on our very recent trip to Leh, some good, and others best forgotten. The best one possibly was our first one on the banks of the river Indus. The open air tented breakfast and lunch room at the eco camp is set by the gently bubbling Indus. The river is low on water as the summer heat has yet to melt the ice on the glaciers that feed it.

Set amidst beautiful greens, nestled in the Himalayas at 11000ft,  we would have never imagined a meal under tents, the brown wood and canvas blending perfectly with the surroundings. Keeping us company were a few cows from nearby villages, a mongrel called Kali, a wild cat who endlessly bothered a handful of warring black billed magpies, finches and oriental turtle doves, also wild asses grazing just across the river.

Lunch was soon served by the very efficient chef who has honed her skills in Delhi {ex Olive} and now develops recipes to serve at the camp using local ingredients. Just my kind of chef. She has another tough job on hand … adapting the recipes to cook at high altitude. It’s a different ball game altogether, one which she seems to have perfected. {And it’s not an easy one as we were to learn later!!}

Fresh local salad greens and watermelon balls tossed in the most awesome honey mustard dressing was the first to arrive. Mixed together with pretty and delicate bamboo salad forks from Meghalaya, it was the best salad ever! It has inspired endless salads that we enjoy everyday since our return. {Wish I could share a picture!!!}

We were really hungry ; must have been the mountain air and the lack of oxygen. It was Budh Purnima which meant Ladakh has to be ‘vegetarian’ on the day. The meal was simple yet bursting with flavour. The Palak Paneer {spinach cottage cheese} made from local spinach and cottage cheese had a nice tang to it, pleasingly different from the one we eat here in the NCR. I loved it!! On the side was a stir fried Zeera Aloo {cumin potatoes} also beautifully seasoned and cooked just right. Fresh chapatis {flatbreads}, a yellow dal and short grained boiled rice completed the menu. I can well imagine how beautifully the essential combination set would fit in with this menu!!

Did I just say completed the menu? No wait, there was more! An absolutely smashing good banofee pie set in the sweetest little glasses. The toffee sauce, whipped cream and bananas were marriage made in heaven. Scrape, scrape, scrape … we could have licked the glasses clean! I can visualise how stunning the dessert this might look layered as it were in the borosil glass katoris! Desserts do look wonderful in glassware.

The meal was one of the most memorable and picturesque ones we’ve enjoyed of late. Hopefully I managed to convey the picture of #BeautifulFood!!

Don’t miss a post Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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