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Food for thought

The Masala Dabba #4, our spice journey“Chili, spice of red Thursday, which is the day of reckoning. Day which invites us to pick up the sack of our existence and shake it inside out. Day of suicide, day of murder.”
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, The Mistress of Spices

Time for The Masala Dabba #4 & Chettinad Chicken Curry. Both very delayed yet finally here. This time I’m lagging behind royally. Chilies was the pick for the month of April, and we’re well into May now June.  I can’t say I didn’t try because I began writing this in May, but life happened! One month ran into another, time racing at an alarming pace. It was just yesterday, in January 2016, when we began the spice journey. June already! Really? Where did April and May go?Chilies from Karaikudi

Chettinad Chicken Curry Only me to blame even as I thought April was going to be the most explosive spice journey ever as Dolphia picked chilies. Just back refreshed from a very exciting trip from down south in Karaikudi {do read about it here}, chilies was all I had on my mind. The vibrancy of the region we had just visited added to it. Heritage, colour, culture, architecture, art, cuisine, shopping…Karaikudi, Chettinad, South IndiaAs I rather belatedly enter month #4 of our collaborative spice journey exploring or rather ‘shooting’ spices, a fun interaction with Dolphia, Simi, Meeta and me, April was for chilies. I really love the spice journey and the stories it carries with it. Personal tales, heritage recipes, travelogues and all sorts of inspiration that connect us as community. My story this time comes from Karaikudi, a region deep in the heart of South India.Karaikudi, Chettinad, South IndiaOur stay at Chidambara Vilas, then a masterclass on world famous Chettinad Chicken Curry, stops at other heritage properties in the region and local market jaunts,  that included shopping for guntu chilies, inspires this post. Not least, my companions in crime, the two vegetarian bloggers Sanjeeta and Madhuli, who were more than ready to dive into chicken curry as the chef stirred it up, chilies and all!Gundu Chilies from Karaikudi This is just what Chettinad cuisine is all about, freshness and simple local flavour. Pure delight – the aromas of whole spices and shallots hitting hot oil, the curry leaves crackling, the colours, fresh simple ingredients, the location an outdoor heritage courtyard kitchen, the company, the curry! Sunset, Chidambaram Vilas, Karaikudi, Chettinad, South IndiaThe women of the Chettinad community were instrumental to managing the vast estates and running kitchens, often while the men were away. {More about the region here}. Easily available local spices and ingredients, traditional cooking methods and a deep interest in food led to a vast repertoire of recipes collectively called Chettinad cuisine. Chettinad Chicken Curry, Masterclass @ Chidambara Vilas, KaraikudiChettinad chicken is the regions most popular export to the culinary world, and it was nowhere fiery and spicy as I believed. A traditional recipe, it’s made with very basic ingredients. Spice mixes from roasted spices, ginger, garlic, shallots, tomatoes, curry leaves and coconut paste. Red chilies of course! Chilies from Karaikudi Shooting spices is therapeutic, inspiring and always fun. I mean, can you not fall in love with an ingredient that promises so much colour, character, variety and texture? Consider the fact that there are as many uses as varieties around the world and the charm multiplies! I’m thinking chili chocolate. Mmmm…Chilies from KaraikudiCooking curry is equally therapeutic and fun. You just need a basic recipe in your head, then go about throwing in as much spice, or as little, as you like. Taste as you go. I do loads of North Indian chicken curries at home, so this authentic South Indian one was even more engaging. Chettinad Chicken Curry Of course I deviated here and there. Bay leaves tossed in, fresh mint tossed over. That’s just the charm of curries. Follow your palate.Chettinad Chicken Curry

Chettinad Chicken Curry
Print Recipe
Chettinad Chicken Curry; mildly hot, tangy and finger licking good. Simple basic pantry staples and a coconut paste ​​make for a hearty good curry. This is my rendition of the curry we learnt at the masterclass.
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Chettinad Chicken Curry
Print Recipe
Chettinad Chicken Curry; mildly hot, tangy and finger licking good. Simple basic pantry staples and a coconut paste ​​make for a hearty good curry. This is my rendition of the curry we learnt at the masterclass.
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Ingredients
750g chicken on the bone, cut into 12 pieces {skinless}
Spice 1 / Dry mix
1 tsp ginger paste
Spice 2 / Coconut paste
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. First make the spice mixes. These can be doubled, and/or made in advance. Store the dry mic=x in a cool place, and the wet mix in the fridge for 2-3 days, else freeze.
  2. Spice mix 1 / Dry mix
  3. Roast the fennel, cumin seeds, red chili, coriander seeds and pepper gently over low heat until fragrant. Dry grind. Reserve in bowl.
  4. Spice mix 2 / Coconut paste
  5. Roast the cashew nuts, coriander seeds, cumin, red chilies, fennel and black pepper gently over low heat until fragrant. Grind to a smooth paste with ginger, garlic and grated coconut. Reserve.
  6. Heat the oil in large heavy bottom pan or wok. Add cinnamon stick, star anise and fennel, followed by curry leaves. Give it a good stir and add the shallots. Sauté until the shallots are golden brown and fragrant.
  7. Add Spice Mix 1 {dry masala mix}, ginger paste, chopped tomatoes, coriander powder and turmeric powder. Stir well and cook until the tomatoes are soft, stirring once in a while.
  8. Add the chicken pieces and stir well to coat them with the spices, followed by crushed garlic. Add a little water, about a cup, stir well, season with salt and simmer until the chicken is cooked.
  9. Now stir in the coconut paste or Spice Mix 2, fresh coriander. Garnish with fresh coriander {or mint as I did}
  10. Serve hot with rice or chapatis, paratha, naan, tandoori roti etc.
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‘Ice cream is my comfort food.’
Jessie Ware

What's Hip in Food This Summer?This must be the creamiest, most indulgent tub of ice cream I’ve dug into of late. The flavours were natural, the ice cream smooth, creamy and not too sweet, the online ordering process even smoother. After ordering it quite effortlessly on a snappy and easy app, it was home delivered in under an hour  The ice  cream was as good as expected. I’d heard great reviews and it certainly didn’t disappoint! It was the smooth process via foodpanda that actually took me by surprise as I’ve had some terrible other online app shopping experiences of late!Foodpanda.inAs time goes by, foodpanda is constantly evolving, getting better and better. They listen, are eager for feedback, and then work on it. My last experience was slightly bleh because of the pizza we ordered, the pizza company, an MNC, sorely lacking. Not the panda to blame, yet I was curious this time around. And what a pleasant surprise. Things worked like clockwork, the app interface snappy and pleasing. Confirmation messages, a call from the service provider, the happy panda face had me smiling right back! An hour from placing the order, the bell rang and hello, there was ice cream!!

Foodpanda and  Ice-Cream, PiccoLickoYesterday was well spent ‘eating’. The day began on a very indulgent note as a bunch of us tripped excitedly across Chandni Chowk,  cameras in hand, for a food photo walk. The place was buzzing with social activity rater than business activity since it was a day of celebration, Eid. We hit the road quite early and there was no end to the indulgence. Returned home and headed to my parents for a sumptuous lunch, and swore I would never eat for the next few days!Chandni Chowk, Delhi 6, Darter photowalk

Nagori halwa, Delhi 6Today had to be a rather low key diet day. It began with thoughts of just water all day, then maybe milk, yes a bowl of fruit would be good! Then along came this very fun offer from foodpanda, tied to a contest, and I caved in to temptation! Pick a trend, order, take pictures, blog about it. foodpanda is an up-and-coming website that operates by delivering food from a wide range of restaurants to either homes and/ or offices in 100+ cities in India. Ice-Cream, PiccoLickoA meal wasn’t on the radar, but given the beautiful, rainy weekend, some indulgent low fat ice cream seemed like the next best thing! To make it interesting, I paired the Butterscotch Caramel Cake Ice Cream with a slice of eggless wholegrain chocolate chip pie I baked 2 days ago, and Mango Mania with freshly cut mangoes and sprigs of mint. Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream was good on it’s own. Just too good! So, What’s Hip in Food This Summer?

FoodpandaFor me, ice cream is Hip in Food This Summer! Eat anytime, store ahead, get creative with it, or then just DIG IN! It’s a fun contest, a simple one that spoils you too as you get vouchers to order the food you blog about!  More information here, and the rules here. Hurry because the contest is limited to the first 40 participants.

“The best food items everyone should try out this summer”

Join the contest for a chance to win an amazing prize! If you are a blogger and you like to consider yourself a real trendsetter, don’t wait up. Be the one to decide what’s going to be the hottest food trend this summer.

Complete these 3 easy steps and win!


1. Go on foodpanda.in and order your choice of the ‘most hip’ food items
2. Take a couple of stunning pictures
3. Write a blog post and express your choice of this summer’s next top food trends.

See. As simple as that.

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

“Black as the devil, hot as hell, pure as an angel, sweet as love.”
Charles Maurice de Talleyrand

Classico 'Espresso Coffee Machine' from TecnoraOur recent trip to Sydney was brought even more alive with good cups of coffee from the crack of dawn to late into the night. They know how to brew a good cup. Oh those flat whites, lattes, cappuccinos, short blacks. Never ending delight sitting at cafes just looking at the variety of choices on offer, and how much folk Down Under enjoy a good brew. For those who have known me for long, you know that coffee is my first love. For those who don’t know me, welcome to my world flavoured by coffee. Coffee and me are inseparable. The mere aroma of coffee in the air is uplifting, seeing a barista at work, invigorating. Add it to dessert, and it’s nirvana!

Coffee in desserts @ PABWell homecoming had a pleasant surprise waiting for me, an espresso coffee machine standing tall on the counter. I still remember a coffee maker that I had bought from the UK years ago. For some reason I never used it as it involved filters and a 1000 bits and bobs that made life more work, less coffee! Cut to now, I took a little while getting used to this new machine from Tecnora. I’m a bit lazy {read plenty} on reading small print and instructions. That I had to do eventually, and soon I was brewing perfect little cups of coffee.Classico 'Espresso Coffee Machine' from TechnoraThe Classico ‘Espresso Coffee Machine’ is a neat machine, the colours stylish in steel and black. Sleek with classic good looks, it blended seamlessly onto my kitchen counter with the Thermomix, the air fryer and the blender. It is lightweight, quick off its feet and quite simple to use. Switch it on, push a few buttons and it surprises you with how snappy it is. It’s also really simple to wash up, with a handy removable drip tray. Easy clean is what I love!Wholegrain peach and cherry tray bakeThe sweet guys from Tecnora also sent me a bag of fine ground coffee beans to get me going. I also have some stash of Coorgi coffee that I love, some vanilla flavoured coffee, and a few more sachets as a lot of people gift me coffee. I made a rather nice rustic bake the other day, a Wholegrain Fresh Peach and Cherry Tray Bake. It paired beautifully with a shot of espresso. Do keep an eye out for the recipe.

Wholegrain Peach and Cherry Tray Bake with espresso from TecnoraThe same day, I was doing a product shoot for UnTied, and the classic espresso cuppa turned out to be the perfect missing piece to complete my shot! I loved the way the frames worked!!

UnTiedNow that I have about mastered the perfect espresso shot, I have a few plans for more coffee madness. In the pipeline are affagato, espresso panna cotta, espresso coffee cake, probably Vietnamese iced coffee. My mouth is already watering as I share my plans.  Do you guys like coffee? What is your best way to enjoy it? Coffee in desserts? Tell me, tell me, tell me!

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